June 25th Southfields
June 25th Southfields
June 25th Southfields
Waterloo Station: The Real Disaster in Burma is the Government
Home burned in Te Mu Der village on 4 June 2008
Bullets and shells left behind by the Burma Army after the attack
July 2nd Southfields
July 2nd Southfields
July 2nd Southfields
Five protestors attended the 2nd July event. We informed the police of our intention to protest on arrival at the Southfields underground station. The police did later visit the Total station, but they let us know that they had told the Total Station staff that we were not committing any offence and had a right to protest. We packed up on time before the crowd began to surge and did not get asked to move by the police. On packing up we noticed a Section 32 "Notice of Dispersal of Groups" on a post where we held our protest, so we were glad not to have had any problem with the protest.
Over the 2 protests we were able to distribute about 1,000 leaflets to the crowds attending Wimbledon, including many taxis. Some cars did turn away from the Total station and people were shocked to learn of Total's involvement in Burma. We even had a Total employee visiting Wimbledon show us a Total ID card and agree with our protest.
On the 25th June we were also able to join Burma Campaign UK at Waterloo Station where they were projecting a video of the "The Real Disaster in Burma’, a short animated film narrated by Ricky Gervais, onto the entrance of Waterloo station. The animation makes the point that despite the devastating 2nd May Burma cyclone, the real disaster in Burma is the brutal military government and that they continue to terrorize and oppress the people of Burma.
The reality of the animation is only too clear in recent reports and photos from Free Burma Rangers medical teams: see above photos of a Karen home burnt down by the Burma army on 4th June 2008 during the displacement of 1,000 Karen villagers. The Free Burma Rangers article shows further pictures of land-mine victims and Karen village school children having to hide from the Burmese army. The Karen children are in great danger - a previous Free Burma Ranger article tells of a child they had previously treated being captured in December 2008, tortured, ankle tendons cut open, disemboweled and throat cut by the brutal Burma army. Over 3,200 Karen villages have now been destroyed by the Burmese Army, with 200,000 Karen currently hiding from the Burmese army in the jungles of Burma. Almost 150,000 Karen refugees have been living in Thai refugee camps for up to 20 years. As of October 2007, at least 500,000 people were estimated to be internally displaced in the country’s eastern States. This is, however, a conservative figure as no information exists for several parts of the country.
The Real Disaster in Burma - animated film narrated by Ricky Gervais
Burma Army Attacking and Displacing over 1,000 Karen People on 4 June 2008.
Atrocities Continue in Karen State, Burma (13-year-old son Wilbur Htoo tortured and disemboweled)
Maps of the scale of displaced villages in Eastern Burma can be viewed here:
Total and Burma
A detailed report on Total Oil's involvement in Burma, written by Burma Campaign UK, can be downloaded at http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/total.html
Total is in a joint venture with the dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma. 
The gas project funds the junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year and represents a major source of foreign currency for the regime to buy weapons and finance the army.
Burma has the world's worst health care , the most corruption  and the most child soldiers .
You can email TOTAL right now to tell them that you think they should leave Burma via http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/total.html
Burma Campaign UK on Facebook
Get Total out of Burma on Facebook (totaloutofburma.org Facebook group)
Wednesday 9th July London Protests
Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vnnbh
Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2tylug
Kilburn Total station, 409 Kilburn High Rd, Kilburn, NW6 7QG
5:00pm - 7:00pm (Wednesday)
Tube: Kilburn | Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2e8bb5
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Brighton Burma Fest
A free day event to raise funds for the cyclone victims in Burma.
Music includes James P Honey, Carly Bryant, The Shoestrung, Wide Eyed Order, Stephanie Finegan and Aluna.
Guest speakers include local MP's and speakers from Burma Campaign UK.
There will also be Burmese food and drink as well as other activities for all the family to join in.
Bring a picnic and blanket!!!
Host: Brighton's Free Burma Group
Time: 1:00pm - 6:00pm Sunday, July 13, 2008
Location: Preston Park (near the Pavillion building)
City/Town: Brighton, United Kingdom
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=23736768209
Brighton Free Burma Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7420650879
Contact: bn4burma [AT] googlemail.com
Saturday 19th July
Wrexham Women for Peace Day of Action for Burma
10:30am - 12:00 Burma Stall in Eastgate St, Chester
12.30 pm to 2 pm Demo at Hoole TOTAL petrol station
29 Hoole Road, Chester, Cheshire CH2 3NH
Google Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/5wauj2
Make sure you've signed:
- Downing Street petition to ask Prime Minister to support 1990 Elections result and urge International Community not to follow junta's 2010 Election plan (new petition launched in June 2008)
- Urge immediate medical care for Min Ko Naing (Email campaign launched 29th April 2008)
- "Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now!" petition (global campaign launched 13 March 2008)
- The Burma Campaign UK e-action to TOTAL:
- The Avaaz.org global pledge: http://www.avaaz.org/en/burma_corporate
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:
Burma Campaign UK's video channel on YouTube:
- New to Burma? Watch these videos for a brief introduction
- This is Burma Music - U2, REM, Damien Rice, KT Tunstall...
- This is Burma: News and Documentaries - including Burma's Secret War
and Inside The Crackdown
The Real Disaster in Burma’ – new animated film narrated by Ricky Gervais
23 Jun 2008
30 Days (in May 2008) for a million voices:
Millions Rallied to Free Nelson Mandela and South Africa. Now it's Burma's Turn
Hollywood Stars Team up with the Human Rights Action Center to Launch Campaign on Behalf of the People of Burma
Will Ferrell, Anjelica Huston, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Page, Judd Apatow, Mana, Sylvester Stallone, Eric Szmanda, Sarah Silverman Part of 30-Day Call-to-Action to Free Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma.
Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma group on Facebook:
BURMA OIL AND GAS NEWS
Foreign investment in Burma's oil and gas sectors more than tripled last year to US $474.3 million, according to a recently released government report.
That accounted for 90 percent of all foreign investment into the country in 2007 of $504.8 million, the Ministry of National Planning and Development said in its latest statistical survey.
Total foreign investment in oil and gas in 2006 amounted to $134 million, according to government figures.
The United Kingdom led the oil and gas investors, with $187 million invested last year, followed by India and Singapore.
Thailand last year invested $16.22 million and Germany $2.5 million into the manufacturing sector and South Korea $12 million in the fishing industry, same report said.
The report said there was no new investment in mining, real estate, hotel and tourism, transport, power and the industrial sector.
Many Western countries either ban or discourage investment in Burma as a way of pressuring its ruling junta to improve its poor human rights record and hand over power to a democratically elected government.
The official report said the United Kingdom includes the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda. Some oil companies register in these two and other sites to bypass sanctions imposed by their governments.
Human Rights Watch have done some useful research:
They sort out all the oil companies investing there.
From this the following are all registered in British Virgin Islands:
1) Rimbunan Retrogas Ltd (Malaysian)
2) MPRL Exploration and Production Pte. Ltd. (MPRL E&P Pte. Ltd.) (run by Burmese nationals)
3) Focus Energy Ltd. (shareholders in Switzerland)
4) China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) Myanmar Ltd.
South Korea-led consortium strikes Myanmar gas deal with China
A South Korean-led international consortium said Monday it has reached a deal to sell natural gas from Myanmar to China.
The consortium led by Daewoo International, operator of two natural gasfields in waters off Myanmar, said it signed a memorandum of understanding with China National Petroleum Corp last week.
Daewoo said in a statement it expects more than 10 billion dollars in profit in the next 25 years starting 2012, when the production of natural gas is expected to begin.
Daewoo has a 51 percent stake in the consortium, followed by India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp with 17 percent; Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise with 15 percent; India's GAIL with 8.5 percent; and South Korea's Korea Gas Corp with a 8.5 percent.
Daewoo said it is also exploring four more gasfields off the country.
Myanmar has attracted relatively little investment from the West, with Western governments denouncing the ruling junta for its poor human rights record.
On November 15, 2007, Daewoo International’s former president and chief executive, Lee Taeyong, was convicted in Seoul, together with a colleague and executives of six other companies, on charges of illegally exporting weapons equipment and technology to Burma from 2002 to 2006. Lee Tae-yong stepped down after he was indicted on these charges in December 2006. Prosecutors accused Daewoo International of being the lead company in a project to build a factory in central Burma for making artillery rounds, in violation of South Korean export rules. The crimes began in 2001, the year after the company won the concession for the gas fields in Burma and construction of the artillery plant reportedly started in 2002
China Gets Burmese Gas While Rangoon Goes Short
While the Beijing state-controlled power company PetroChina finalizes plans to pump trillions of cubic feet of gas from Burma’s rich offshore fields to China, Rangoon goes short.
The Ministry of Electric Power has admitted that Burma’s commercial capital is more than one third short of its daily gas needs to supply minimum electricity.
The ministry has disclosed that the city’s power plants and related facilities need 135 million cubic feet per day but receive on average only 94 million.
Rangoon now receives just 250 megawatts of electricity per day from the Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua quotes officials as saying. In the past the city consumed 360 megawatts.
Today, Rangoon also has to share the lower power supply with surrounding townships.
This will come as no surprise to Rangoon residents who experience daily power cuts, but it is increasingly handicapping commercial development.
The Xinhua report made no mention of the fact that China leaned on the Burmese regime to force foreign developers of the large Shwe offshore gas field to sell it around 6 trillion cubic feet. Other figures from the Ministry of Electric Power disclose that the whole of Burma has an installed electricity generating capacity of only 1,690 megawatts—less than is needed to light up Thailand’s capital Bangkok.
Thailand, with a slightly larger population than Burma’s, has a capacity of 26,000 megawatts.
China Pays Less for Shwe Gas than India Offered
Details have emerged showing that the Burmese regime accepted a lower tariff offer from China than India bid for the huge Shwe gas reserve.
India’s state-owned gas and Oil Company GAIL bid US $4.41 per million British thermal units (mBtus) compared with $4.27 offered by Chinese state firm PetroChina, said India’s Economic Times.
India believed it had secured the purchase of most of the approximately 6 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves in two blocks of the Shwe field off the coast of Arakan—until the Chinese muscled in last year.
The junta’s acceptance of China’s bid—which many analysts say was in return for Beijing’s political, military and economic support in the face of growing international isolation— upset not only India but also the South Korean government.
Major Korean conglomerate Daewoo is the majority developer of Shwe, along with GAIL and another Indian state company and the Korean government-backed Korea Gas.
The Seoul government had banked on being able to ship home some of the Shwe fuel in the form of liquid natural gas.
The junta-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) has also forced Daewoo, GAIL and the Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to dilute their stakes in the Shwe field, the Economic Times reported.
“MOGE had a ‘step-in’ right to take 15 percent once discoveries were made,” said the paper.
This means Daewoo’s stake has been cut from 60 percent to 51 percent. OnGC’s share has been reduced to 17 percent from 20 percent, while GAIL’s has been cut to 8.5 percent, the same as Korea Gas.
The Shwe gas will be piped ashore and through Burma up into China’s energy-starved Yunnan state, but costs have still to be worked out.
Feinstein Fights McCain on Burma Tax Break for Big Oil Democrat Sides With Chevron in Rangoon Deal
The Republican Party's presumptive nominee for president, Senator McCain, is locked in a disagreement with a Democratic senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, over whether to permit Chevron to do business with the regime in Rangoon. One of them is taking a hard-line human-rights stand against the military junta in Burma. The other is carrying water for the interests of America's second largest oil company.
Mr. McCain's stance has been to require Chevron to sell its stake in a large gas field that is widely considered the single most important source of income for Burma's regime, one of the world's most repressive. Ms. Feinstein, who represents the state in which Chevron is headquartered, is seeking to allow the company to hold on to its stake in the gas field.
A 1996 law prevented new American investment in Burma, but didn't affect pre-existing investment. The grandfather clause was the result of an amendment sponsored by both Ms. Feinstein and Mr. McCain, who has apparently since switched sides on the issue. At the time, one notable investment in Burma by an American firm involved the offshore Yadana gas field: a California oil and gas company, Unocal, which has since merged with Chevron, held a minority stake, along with a Thai-government-owned company, a French oil company, and the Burmese government's oil and gas company.
In 2004, Unocal settled the EarthRights suit brought on behalf of Burmese villagers who say they suffered human rights abuses, including forced labor, during the construction of the Yadana pipeline. In 2005, Ms. Feinstein introduced a bill that would have sharply curtailed the kind of suits that foreign plaintiffs can bring under the law used by the Burmese villagers to sue Unocal.
Chevron, and, previously, Unocal, are headquartered in California, the state Ms. Feinstein represents. In 2005, the year before Ms. Feinstein was last up for re-election, Chevron's political action committee donated $10,000 to her re-election effort.
Notes: For some further controversy for both participants in the argument:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dianne_Feinstein (voted for appropriations worth billions of dollars on husbands companies including Iraq/Afghanistan contracts, Feinstein's Senate tried to delete Wikipedia.org references)
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x6412689 (International Republican Institute also received Chevron donations)
http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/05/11/gop-convention-leader-resigns-after-myanmar-lobbying-ties-reported/ (McCain aides
resign over Burma junta lobbying ties)
Chevron and the Yadana Pipeline
EarthRights International’s new report, The Human Cost of Energy: Chevron’s Continuing Role in Financing Oppression and Profiting From Human Rights Abuses in Military-Ruled Burma (Myanmar), documents Chevron’s ongoing role in financing and profiting from the military regime in Burma. This is the first comprehensive report on conditions in the Yadana pipeline region since Chevron acquired Unocal’s interest in 2005, and documents the continued serious human rights violations by pipeline security forces, including forced labor, murder, rape and torture. The report also describes Chevron’s continuing legal liability associated with abuses in the pipeline region. (See ERI's Press Release on the report.)
The Yadana Gas Pipeline Project represents the single largest foreign investment project in Burma and the single largest source of income for the Burmese military. Run by a consortium including Chevron, Thai company PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), Total (operator), and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the project does little to benefit the Burmese economy or its people.
Abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and extortion by pipeline security forces have dramatically increased since the Yadana Project was initiated in the early 1990s. Violations committed in furtherance of the project have included forced labor; forced portering, whereby villagers are made to carry arms and supplies for soldiers patrolling the pipeline route; and forced relocation of entire villages to clear the way for the pipeline and provide ready pools of forced laborers.
The influx of soldiers to the previously isolated region has also caused an increase in illegal hunting, logging, and wildlife trade. The Tenasserim region is one of the largest rainforest tracts left in mainland Southeast Asia, home to wild elephants, tigers, rhinos and great hornbills, to name just a few of the rare and important species that inhabit this region. It is also the home to numerous indigenous peoples, including the Mon, Karen, and Tavoyans. These peoples are experiencing the negative impacts of the environmental destruction as well as the human rights abuses that they must regularly suffer at the hands of the soldiers brought into the pipeline consortium partners, including Chevron and Total.
See Report "The Human Cost of Energy" April 2008
NOTES: Chevron owns the Texaco petrol stations in the UK. Burma Campaigners in US campaign against US owned Chevron, whilst European Burma Campaigners campaign against French Total Oil. Total is the lead operator of the Yadana Gas pipeline. According to statements from Chevron they have no employees in Burma or offshore on the project.
RECENT BURMA NEWS: (see http://myamarnews.blogspot.com - read links for the full versions of stories)
Cyclone refugees ordered to leave camps
Jul 3, 2008 (DVB)–The regional police chief in the Labutta area of Irrawaddy division has ordered five centres for cyclone refugees to be cleared out by the end of the month, according to locals.
More than 10,000 cyclone victims are currently sheltering in the camps.
One local resident said the police chief had visited cyclone refugees in the camps on Monday and told them to move out by the end of July.
"The refugees were in tears and told him that they were not ready to move out and that they were afraid they might die without any shelter," the local said.
"He told them they can cling on to trees if another cyclone hits but that they cannot stay at the current location because the land is going to be sold."
The Labutta camps are the last remaining centres for refugees in the disaster zone since camps in Bogalay, Ma-au Bin and Daydaye were cleared out last month.
Junta pretends to help cyclone victims
Thu 03 Jul 2008, IMNA
Burmese military junta authorities have only pretended to help victims in some parts of cyclone ravaged areas, claimed villagers.
The Military South-West Commander visited the area and promised to build houses for victims in Higyi Kyun Island Township.
But local people said, the authorities just built a few houses and they staked houses on land 15-20 feet wide in Chaungwa village where more than 600 villagers were killed by the cyclone.
Villagers said, they doubted the government's promise because naval troops were given the responsibility.
Naval troops visited the village, when MRTV was documenting that the Navy was helping the villagers in building houses for the victims by carrying woods, bamboo and other material.
"After the MRTV went back, all materials were carried away immediately," a Chaungwa villager told IMNA.
According to villagers, they got enough aid from private donors, the UN and INGOs. But recently military government reported on it The New Light of Myanmar, that they will build 6000 houses for victims.
The government authorities and naval troops also used shipping routes from Bassein (Pathein) to Chaungwa by force without paying, villagers said.
Because of this many aid workers also faced difficulties in sending aid to rural areas.
Mungpi & Solomon
Thursday, 03 July 2008 20:54
Two months after the killer Cyclone Nargis lashed Burma, thousands of survivors said they still lack basic assistance including food, farming equipments and shelter.
"We received only one time support from the Red Cross. They gave us 24 tins (measured in condensed milk tins) of rice for our family," said a farmer with five family members from Paungthe village of Bogale township in Irrawaddy delta.
The farmer said while he did not know how much rice other families received as aid, it was the only help the whole village had seen.
"There are more than 1300 people in our village," the farmer added.
The World Vision said most farmers in the cyclone hit areas will miss this farming season as a result of lack of equipments to work in the fields.
Relief Rice Piles Up in Min Bya
Min Bya: People from Min Bya Township donated a large amount of rice as relief aid to Cyclone Nargis victims soon after the storm had struck lower Burma, but the authorities in Min Bya have yet to send the rice to the stricken Irrawaddy Division, reports a teacher from Min Bya.
The teacher said, "I do not know why the authority piled up the rice in the store and is not sending it to Irrawaddy, but the rice will be ruined in the future if it is not sent to Nargis victims."
The rice was donated to Nargis victims by people throughout Min Bya Township and there are currently over 200 sacks of rice being kept in storage.
"I am really surprised about the authorities' manners and why they have not sent our donated rice to the victims from Irrawaddy on time, and we do not know the reason behind the pile-up of rice in the store," the teacher said.
Zaw Myin Thein, Chairman of Min Bya Township, told residents that he wants to send the rice to Irrawaddy Division but there are no funds for transporting the aid.
It has also been reported that the authorities are likely to send cash to the victims in Irrawaddy after selling the donated rice to traders in the markets of Min Bya
Two months after deadly cyclone struck Myanmar, devastation remains
UN: Two months after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, much of the destruction left in its wake is still evident, with flooded farmland and considerably damaged infrastructure, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today.
The storm claimed over 130,000 lives and left more than 2 million people in need of humanitarian aid, contaminating water sources and obliterating schools.
“Yet the people of Myanmar have proven resilient, picking up the pieces of their lives with a quiet determination,” WFP said in a press release issued in Rome.
In the past two months, WFP has delivered over 18,000 tons of food to nearly 700,000 in the hardest-hit Ayeyarwady delta, which is the South-East Asian nation’s granary and hosts an extensive fishery industry on the coast.
The agency, however, faces a shortfall of almost $40 million in its $69.5 million operation to provide emergency food assistance to 750,000 people in Myanmar.
Last month, WFP announced that it was critically short of funds to keep a fleet of ten helicopters in the air to deliver aid to cyclone victims.
This week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) delivered much-need supplies – including plastic sheets, blankets, mosquito nets to combat dengue fever and household goods – via helicopter to residents of Dani Seik village in the country’s south.
Over three-quarters of the area’s 1,700 residents were killed by Cyclone Nargis, and only 300 people remain in Dani Seik.
"Unofficial" Burmese Refugees starving in Bangladesh
Ukhiya, Cox's Bazaar: Refugees are staring starvation in the face and living under the open sky near the Kutupalong official camp for nearly one week, said Noor Hussain of the refugees.
They are unofficial refugees who are living near Kutupalong refugee camp after being relocated from local areas when Bangladesh authorities were finalizing the voters list which excluded Burmese nationals.
These refugees did not get jobs locally because of heavy rains this week. Neither do they have any support from any quarter. About 70 percent of the refugees are going to starve due to scarcity of jobs, said another refugee.
More of the refugees are widows and orphans.
For instance, Nur Ayasha (30), wife of Khadir Hussain, who died in Burma, crossed the Burma-Bangladesh border with four girls and one boy. They have been starving since last week. She feeds her family members by begging but due to heavy rain last week she was unable to seek alms from people.
Kalam refugee said, "We are living in huts without strong roofing, so during heavy rain or strong winds our roofs get blown off or tear. Refugees including boys and girls are catching cold and becoming sick afflicted by malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, oedema among other diseases".
These people are not recognized by the UNHCR as refugees as the host country mounts pressure on it. Bangladesh fears that if these people are recognized as refugees there will be more refugees coming from Burma, said an elder refugee living under the open sky said.
All of Burma is a prison
By Min Zin, Far Eastern Economic Report: Much has been written about Cyclone Nargis and the failure of Burma’s military junta to respond adequately. But what of the hundreds of political prisoners held in Burma, many in areas devastated by the storm?
When Cyclone Nargis ravaged Burma in the late night hours of May 2, it did not spare political prisoners. The notorious Insein prison, where hundreds of political prisoners (including my brother) are locked up, was one of the hardest hit places in Rangoon.
Why is my brother in Insein? On Feb. 15, the military raided the offices of the Myanmar Nation and took my brother, the weekly journal’s editor in chief, to jail. His crime? Possession of a U.N. report on the military’s brutal crackdown on last September’s demonstrations by monks and democracy activists—known around the world as the “Saffron Revolution.”
My brother’s name is Thet Zin, and he is one of hundreds of Burmese citizens who struggle to tell the truth about what is happening in their country—whether through traditional forms of journalism or through the Internet—under threat of arrest or worse by the military regime. Along with my brother, his office manager, Sein Win Maung, was also arrested.
When Cyclone Nargis hit, it uprooted trees; rain flooded the prison cells and the power was cut. A fire broke out in one of the prison wards, filling the prison with smoke. The flames triggered a riot. The guards started shooting.
Suffering from asthma, my brother was choking with smoke. His former office manager and fellow inmate, Sein Win Maung, passed out. Some sympathetic prison guards rushed to the cells and managed to push aside fallen trees and move the political prisoners to a prison hospital.
“Many political prisoners in the cells could have died from smoke if the rescue was delayed one more hour,” said Bo Kyi, a former political prisoner who now works with Thailand-based Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP-Burma).
It is still hard to know how many died or were injured during the havoc. But according to AAPP at least 36 prisoners at Insein were shot to death when the cyclone hit. Some prisoners, like many of their countrymen, lost their entire family to the cyclone. Thiha Thet Zin, a political prisoner in Insein, was informed that eight out of nine of his family members—including his son, his parents, his grandmother, and all his siblings—were swept away by the storm. His wife was the only survivor.
This is hell on earth. Still, Insein prison and the injustices that take place there are but a microcosm of what’s taking place throughout Burma. To paraphrase Shakespeare, all of Burma is a prison.
Cyclone Nargis claimed more than 138,000 lives and left millions homeless. Still, the junta denied millions of Burmese people the basic right to food by blocking foreign aid workers and supplies in the weeks immediately following the storm.
Indeed, the misuse of international aid is by now well documented. Aid supplies ended up in military warehouses, local markets and the homes of police officers and members of pro-government civilian groups instead of reaching starving and disease-stricken survivors. Soldiers even looted jewelries from dead bodies.
Moreover, the junta forced survivors to take part in the reconstruction of military sites and conscripted male orphans into the army, which before the storm was already notorious for its tens of thousands of child soldiers. All of these reports have been confirmed by sources both inside and outside Burma.
Myanmar junta dismisses Suu Kyi victory
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The overwhelming election victory by Aung San Suu Kyi's party in 1990 has been nullified by the approval of a military-backed constitution and her National League for Democracy party should prepare for a new vote in 2010, Myanmar's state-run newspaper said Sunday.
Myanmar's ruling junta said the passing of its constitution in a May referendum — widely dismissed by critics as unfair — shows the public no longer cares about the electoral success by the detained Nobel laureate.
Suu Kyi's party won 392 out of 485 seats in the election, the first freely contested poll in nearly three decades. However, the ruling military refused to hand over power, insisting a new constitution was needed before this could be done.
The military drafted a much-maligned constitution that reinforces its iron grip on power. The constitution was approved in May by 92.48 percent of the vote, but critics say it was marred by irregularities, including reports of citizens being forced to vote yes.
Rather than fighting to get the 1990 results recognized, the Myanmar Ahlin newspaper called for the National League for Democracy to spend its energy preparing for a new 2010 election.
"The NLD should prepare for the forthcoming elections instead of clinging onto the 1990 election results, which have already gone down the drain," the commentary said.
The constitution guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military and allows the president to hand over all power to the military in a state of emergency.
It also bars anyone who enjoyed the rights and privileges of a foreign citizen from holding public office. This would keep Suu Kyi out of government because her late husband, Michael Aris, was a Briton and their two sons are British.
Last month, the newspaper said the referendum showed citizens have forsaken Suu Kyi and were ready to give the military a "political leadership role."
The military, which has held power since 1962, has been widely condemned for suppressing democracy and committing human rights abuses. Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, has spent more than a dozen of the last 19 years in detention.
NLD member charged after being beaten
Jul 4, 2008 (DVB)–A National League for Democracy member in North Okkalapa township who monitored the vote counting at a local ballot station on 24 May was beaten up by ward administration officials and now faces criminal charges.
Ko Aye Thaung, a member of North Okkalapa township NLD, was monitoring the local officials' vote count at the township's ballot station (2) on Phaung Taw Oo pagoda street when the delayed referendum was held on 24 May.
After the count, Aye Thaung said he was beaten up by Ko San Htway, a member of Tadagyi ward Union Solidarity and Development Association.
San Htway was accompanied by Kyauk Yay Dwin ward Peace and Development Council chairman U Myint Soe, who threatened the NLD member.
"On 24 May, I went to the ballot station to cast my vote. When I had finished, I asked the station officials to give me permission to watch the vote count but I was denied by the station chief. So I left the station but watched them from outside," Aye Thaung explained.
"Not so long after that, U Myint Soe arrived on the scene and told the people there to beat to death anyone who is causing a disturbance and that he would take care of the consequences," he said.
"Then I was beaten up by San Htway."
After the incident, Aye Thaung tried to press charges against San Htway and Myint Soe under section 323 of the penal code for assault, but on 2 July, San Htway countersued him under section 323 and also under section 294 for obscene language.
"Now they are accusing me of violations of sections 323 and 294,” Aye Thaung said.
“But I didn't do any of the things they are accusing me of – if I had, I would have been in jail by now."
Journalist U Win Tin’s health deteriorating after 19 years in jail, denied promised early release
Reporters Without Borders (RSF/IFEX): Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association (BMA) have called for the immediate release from prison of celebrated journalist U Win Tin, whose health has deteriorated badly in the past few days.
Date: 03 July 2008
Source: Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Type(s) of violation(s): imprisoned , other
The 78-year-old is suffering from lung problems with severe asthmatic attacks which prevent him from sleeping and eating properly. A relative who visited him on 28 June 2008 found him thin and weak.
“It will be exactly 19 years on 4 July since Burma’s military arrested Win Tin. The government, which has a responsibility to protect the life of its citizens, should now release him”, the worldwide press freedom organisation and the BMA said. “He should be moved to a hospital as quickly as possible”.
At least ten journalists and one blogger are currently in prison in Burma.
The military junta has never kept a promise it made to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that Win Tin would benefit from an early release. The director general of prisons and the governor of Insein jail have since 2007 refused to accord him this right under the law because he had never worked during his imprisonment.
Win Tin had refused on the grounds that as a political prisoner he could not be forced to work during his detention.
Win Tin was sentenced to 20 years in jail, chiefly on a charge of making “anti-government propaganda”. He has not been allowed any further visits from ICRC representatives since 2006.
88 Generation Student’s health deteriorates
Jul 3, 2008 (DVB)–The health of 88 Generation Students group member Myo Yan Naung Thein has got progressively worse in Insein prison, a close friend of his family told DVB on condition of anonymity.
Myo Yan Naung Thein has been charged with causing public alarm and inciting offences against the public tranquility under section 505(b) of the penal code.
The family friend said someone had to carry Myo Yan Naung Thein when he appeared in court as he could no longer walk.
“He is partly paralyzed and urgently needs an operation,” said the family friend.
“He is now in this situation because authorities refused his request for proper medical access to treat injuries he sustained when he was under interrogation, and he has to live in poor conditions.”
Myo Yan Naing Thein was arrested on 14 December 2007 because of his links with activists who filmed the September protests and spoke to foreign media outlets.
According to Amnesty International, Myo Yan Naung Thein was tortured after his arrest by Special Branch police interrogators and members of the junta-backed militia Swan Arr Shin. He was left paralysed on his left side due to head injuries from severe beatings and cannot walk unaided.
Appeal for May Day activists denied
Jul 3, 2008 (DVB)–Burma’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal on behalf of Thurein Aung and five other activists who have been given lengthy prison terms for gathering workers to celebrate May Day last year.
Lawyer U Aung Thein said the court had agreed to hear the appeal, but turned it down last Friday.
Six activists including Thurein Aung were arrested on their way home from attending a May Day ceremony at the American Embassy in the country’s former capital.
Rangoon’s Western District Court charged all six with sedition and sentenced them to 20 years’ imprisonment under article 124(a) of the penal code.
Thurein Aung and three others were also charged under article 13/1 of the Immigration and Emergency Act and article 17(a) of the Unlawful Association Act and given an additional five to eight years each.
‘Vote No’ activists appear in court
Jul 3, 2008 (DVB)–Two National League for Democracy members who were detained for allegedly campaigning against the regime’s draft constitution in the run-up to the 10 May referendum have appeared in court.
The activists’ families had not been notified of the date of the hearing.
Both activists were arrested for wearing T-shirts with a ‘No’ symbol on them during the Thingyan water festival in April this year.
“U Tin Win didn’t wear a ‘No’ shirt during Thingyan though. He only wore a shirt which said ‘National Reconciliation’. I am not sure why he was arrested,” said Thiha.
Monk Leaders Rejected by Monasteries
Sittwe: A few monks have been unable to continue their religious studies at monasteries in Sittwe and other Arakanese cities after being rejected for their leading roles in last year's Saffron Revolution.
A monk from Sittwe reported over the phone that he was denied entry as a student by several monasteries because he was involved in leading the Saffron Revolution protests in Sittwe last year.
In Arakan State many monasteries are currently accepting monk students for enrollment in religious studies because the time for Buddhist lent will be starting soon on 17 July.
According to a source, many monk students across Arakan State have come to Sittwe to enroll in religious studies at monasteries. However, a few monks are being denied entry due to the prior involvement in the public demonstrations.
"It has come about after authorities pressured the abbots not to accept any monks as students who were leading last year's Saffron Revolution in Sittwe. Moreover, the authorities in Sittwe handed over some photos of us to the monasteries," the monk said.
A source close to the high authority said they are anxious that demonstrations will take place again this year like last year's Saffron Revolution, so they are preparing to prevent such an occurrence ahead of time.
The monk said, "I am now in a dilemma after some monasteries refused to accept me as a student for study. If no monastery accepts me, the only option I have is to discard the garb of my religious order."
Militias sent to frontline for drill with army
Fri 04 Jul 2008, IMNA
Militias from Thanpyuzayart Township Mon State southern Burma have been dispatched to the frontline with Burmese Army troops to participate in a drill and fight Mon rebels.
The militia was formed in 2003 at the behest of the army to fight against "internal and external enemies" in the event of an invasion of the country after the Depeyin massacre and the attempt on the life of the pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The attack on the democracy icon was alleged to have been orchestrated by the junta with the help of goons of the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA) and others.
Militia personnel from Wei-win-kara, Taung-phalu, Wae-Thun-Gyung, and Ya Thae Taung village in Thanpyuzayart Township have been sent to southern Ye Township.
"This is the second time militias have been sent there for the rebel offensive drill," a militia captain in southern Mon state said.
"Villagers were ordered to shell out 100,000 Kyat and given the responsibility of looking after the families of the militia while they are on the front line," he added.
The militias are an extension of the army and were trained by soldiers for months in army bases in 2003. The military regime appointed each of them gave them ranks, arms and uniforms.
After May 30, 2003 Depeyin massacre, the military regime ordered the militia to be trained by the army given rumours that the US Army would intervene in Burma and hundreds of villagers were forced to join the military training.
Ethnic Palaung releases report' 'ballots which opposes people's will'
Thursday, 03 July 2008 22:09
New Delhi – An Ethnic Palaung Youth Working Group on Thursday said the result of a referendum held on May 10, does not reflect the people's true desire as the Burmese junta's has used various means to rigged votes.
The ethnic youth, in a new report titled 'The ballots which oppose the people's will" said it has investigated and found into the vote rigging and irregularities in some townships in Shan State mostly inhabited by Palaung ethnics.
"The polling booth officials forced the voters to cast 'Yes' votes. Before putting it into the ballot boxes, the officials checked the ballot papers which jeopardised the secret ballot system. In some places, the local authorities cast all votes representing the whole village, the report said.
"In some polling stations, they closed before the prescribed closing time. We found many irregularities in our investigation," Mai Aung, the spokesman of 'Palaung Youth Network Group' (PYNG) said.
The referendum investigation working group comprised of the Thai based 'Palaung State Liberation Front' (PSLF), 'Paluang Youth Network Group' (PYNG) and 'Palaung Women's Organization' (PWO).
The working group said it monitored the referendum process mainly in ethnic Palaung inhabited areas in Shan State including Hnamsan, Kyaukme, Lashio, Thibaw, Mai Ngau, Hnamtu, Kutkai, Hnamkham and Muse townships.
The group said they had monitored voting procedures in 57 polling stations in these townships and found misuse of power by the ruling junta in getting the 'Yes' votes by coercion, vote rigging and many other ways.
Authorities had forced voters to cast their votes in advance before the polling date and made it into 'yes' votes, the report said.
The working group said the report is a compilation of all these facts with interviews of the polling station officials, local people and voters along with photographic evidences.
"U Kyaw Yin of the Palaung ceasefire group who lives in Nyeinchanyay Kone, Kyaukme threatened voters that they would be evicted from their homes if 'No' votes were found in the ballot boxes," Mai Aung said.
"Likewise, Capt. Than Htut, who is working in Palaung Tea factory in Hnamsan issued an order saying that he would ban rice import from lower Burma if the number of 'No' votes were high in his area," added Mai Aung.
"The voter turnout rate in Palaung inhabited areas were just about 30 percent. Most of the votes were either voting in advance (absentee votes) or casting representative votes. The voters were ordered to come to the polling stations in their traditional ethnic costumes and to cast 'Yes' votes only. It was just a farce," a member of the working group, who monitored the voting process, said.
Though some voters dared to cast 'No' votes despite heavy pressure exerted on them by the local authorities, all these 'No' votes were turned to 'Yes' votes during the counting process in accordance with the rules and regulations of referendum commissions, the report said.
The working group will send the report to the international community including the UN and ASEAN for awareness regarding the blatant human right violation in Burma and to generate concerted efforts of the international community to resolve the Burma crisis
Analysis: Junta's information black-out
Jul 4, 2008 (DVB)–Burma’s military regime is still keeping quiet about an incident following Cyclone Nargis. It is a minor incident, but one that would surprise the people of Burma and the international community.
Relief supplies provided for Burma’s cyclone victims from China included 2000 radios. They were handed over to the junta authorities. Low-ranking officials were in a difficult situation when they received those cheap radios because they were not sure if they should give them to refugees or hold them back, so they asked their superiors what to do.
The information about the radios pushed high-ranking officials into a tight corner. They seemed to be worried about affecting the relationship with China if they did not give the radios out. On the other hand, if they distributed the radios, the 2000 people who received them would be able to listen to foreign broadcasting services such as BBC, VOA, DVB and RFA, which they did not want their citizens to be able to access. Finally, an order came through that radios should be distributed to cyclone victims only after they had been adapted so that they could not be used to listen to foreign broadcasting services.
As a consequence, engineers and officials at the Communication Department faced a heavy workload. They had to remove the short wave tuning system used by foreign broadcasting services to air their programmes from each radio. Engineers working for the Communication Department in Rangoon Division spent a lot of time on these radios worth US$ 5 each. After the radios had been adapted, the authorities gave them out in Irrawaddy division for people to listen to weather news, took photos of their donations and then sent the photos back to donors in China.
When village headmen and others received the radios, they were unable to tune into foreign radio broadcasts because the short wave system had been disabled. They were also unable to listen to City FM since they were far away from Rangoon. As a result, they all ended up only being able to listen to programmes from Myanmar Radio and Television Department, the state-controlled radio station transmitted on medium wave.
The way the military regime dealt with the donated radio shoes the lengths to which it will go to black out information and stop its citizens listening to news broadcasts.
The military regime was able to take preventive action because those radios were given to them directly. However, they could not do anything about aid directly provided to UN agencies and INGOs inside Burma by international governments and organisations.
In an attempt to limit and control the movements of UN agencies and INGOs working on relief efforts for cyclone victims, the junta issued 10 operating guidelines on 10 June. According to the guidelines, detailed lists of the type and quantity of aid donated from overseas must be submitted to the relevant government ministry, permission must be requested prior to aid distribution and relief supplies must be stockpiled in Rangoon. When permission to distribute aid is granted by the junta another request must be made to township authorities where the aid will be given out and supplies can only be distributed when permission from local officials has been granted.
The regime still keeps imported communication apparatuses that are meant for UN agencies and INGOs. None of those organisations have been allowed to use satellite phones donated by the Thai government. This indicates that the regime is trying to obstruct smooth communication and information flow between the UN, NGOs and the people. Despite the restrictions, private donors including comedian Zarganar distributed radios among cyclone victims in Irrawaddy divisions, infuriating the junta, who later arrested them.
Irrawaddy division had never been a restricted area for tourists until it was devastated by the cyclone. Bassein, Ngwe Hsaung and Chaung Thar were regular tourist destinations. Even a week after the storm stuck the delta the military regime had not taken any special measures to restrict tourism in the region. The junta only stopped allowing any foreigners to visit Irrawaddy division when the international media carried news items about the cyclone and displayed pictures of corpses.
The reason was simply to black out information. When the regime shut down the area, they treated it as if it was a military zone. They placed many more checkpoints on the Rangoon-Bassein road to check if there were any foreigners in the passing vehicles. When foreigners were found, they were questioned and sent back to Rangoon. As a result, international experts and aid workers were unable to reach the affected areas to carry out relief operations and the difficulties for cyclone victims were doubled.
Foreign journalists looked for alternative ways to reach the delta when they were not allowed to use the main route, the Rangoon-Bassein road. They tried instead to enter the region on the Rangoon-Kaw Hmoo-Kongyankone-Daydaye-Pyarpon road. In response, the military regime deployed thousands of riot police along the way, in addition to the numerous checkpoints. In Rangoon, foreign journalists were under constant surveillance. According to a special police officer from Rangoon airport, at least 10 foreigners were sent to the airport from their hotels or the streets and deported within the month after the cyclone ravaged the country.
The junta not only restricts and keeps an eye on foreign journalists in the country but also prevents them from coming in. It has even imposed restrictions on the issuing of tourist visas. As a result, the number of foreigners visiting the country in post-cyclone period noticeably decreased. As a consequence, hotels in Rangoon received fewer tourists and those dependent on foreign guests in Ngwe Hsaung and Chaung Thar had to close down. Air Mandalay and Air Bagan also had to stop all their overseas flights.
The military regime was still focusing on its mission to black out information even after UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon visited Rangoon. The regime issued visas for some UN and INGO officials but continued to restrict their visits to Irrawaddy division. Those who were permitted to go there were only able to visit a limited area. For instance, a Japanese medical team could only stay in refugee camps in Latputta and was not allowed to visit the surrounding areas. The team was told to leave within 10 days on the pretext that their visas had run out.
The military regime also cut cyclone-related information out of imported newspapers and magazines on a large scale. They distributed the Times, Newsweek, the Economist, the Straits Times, the Bangkok Post and others only after they had torn out news about Burma’s cyclone.
One of the latest attempts by the military regime to restrict the flow of information was its raids on satellite stores in Rangoon. Some store owners were forced to sign papers promising to stop selling satellite dishes. As a result, the reinstallation of satellite dishes in post-cyclone Rangoon was temporarily halted.
The military regime in Burma has been seriously trying not to let the people of Burma and the international community become aware of what is happening in Irrawaddy division and the rest of the country. As for news that is already in media, the regime tries its best to suppress it so its own citizens, and particularly soldiers in the army, will not hear about it.
It seems that the generals believe they can cling on power for a long time by stopping the flow of information. However, as recent incidents have shown, the military will not succeed in its endeavour to black out information as long as journalists and citizens are brave enough and able to use modern digital equipment to disseminate news and information.
Students paste anti-Castor-oil-trees posters in Myitkyina
Before dawn this morning, students pasted about 200 A-4 sized hand-written posters against anti-Castor-oil-tree plantations in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state in Northern Burma, local student activists said.
Aim of the poster movement
Student leader Naw Awng told KNG that this morning's anti-castor-oil-tree plantation movement was organized for the two reasons.
First, the posters were written by hand which will encourage the local people that they can reveal their attitude towards the authorities by pasting hand-written posters themselves in their communities.
Second, the meaning of 'No castor-oil-tree' and 'No military junta' on the posters were the same. This is because there is no government firm and private company buys the castor-oil fruits in Kachin state at a high human and monetary cost. The plantation project is not beneficial to the public. Similarly, the Burmese ruling junta does not serve its people and only threaten them.
So, the AKSU strongly encourages the people that they have to oppose the junta's project the Castor-oil-tree plantation also called Jet Suu in Burmese as well as to topple the repressive military junta.
Authorities are reluctant to pull down anti-junta posters
Today, the junta authorities in Myitkyina were unusually reluctant to pull down the anti-castor-oil-tree posters from public areas in Myitkyina Township, local sources said.
According to student activists and eyewitnesses, they could see the anti-castor-oil-tree posters in different areas in Myitkyina till before noon because [Burma (Myanmar)] the reserved firefighters, members of the junta-sponsored Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in each quarter and village, and policemen did not pull it down without orders from senior officers.
Earlier, all kinds of anti-junta posters were taken down as soon as the posters were seen in Myitkyina by local reserved firefighters, members of USDA and the police without waiting for orders, student activists said.
The problems have surfaced between the men and officers of reserved firefighters, USDA members and policemen after they were sent to relief programms in the Cyclone Nargis-hit Irrawaddy River Delta in Southern Burma since late May, sources close them said.
This is because, they had not received any medical support from their senior officers while they fell ill during relief duty for a month in Irrawaddy Delta and had to come back home at their own cost, sources close to firefighters said.
As a response, the local firefighters and USDA members in Myitkyina just let the anti-castor-oil-tree posters in their quarters and villages be, till orders came from senior officers, a resident who met a local reserved firefighter in Shatapru told KNG.
Burma's security force commits robbery in Maungdaw
Maungdaw, Arakan State: Burma's border security force robbed a villager's home in Maungdaw Township and took away gold ornaments worth kyat 2 million, on July 1 night, said a relative of the victim on condition of anonymity.
The victim was identified as Ahmed Rezaul Nuri (53) from Nantha Daung village in Maungdaw Township.
Victims of Burma Cyclone Rescued from Human Traffickers
More than 80 women and child victims of Burma's recent cyclone have been rescued from human traffickers who were scheming to smuggle them to neighboring countries, a media report said Thursday.
Border police caught the traffickers, who had taken victims of Cyclone Nargis from the Irrawaddy delta to frontier areas, between June 11 to 14, the biweekly journal Eleven reported, quoting police.
Police Lt-Col Rahlyan Mone, from the force's human trafficking division, told the Rangoon-based journal that victims facing hardship are being enticed with job offers abroad by traffickers disguised as aid workers.
Police officials and other authorities who deal with human trafficking could not immediately be reached for comment.
Cross-border trafficking, especially to Thailand, has grown in recent years as people in one of the world's poorest nations seek opportunities elsewhere but are often tricked or coerced into prostitution or sweatshops.
The ruling junta has warned against exploitation of cyclone victims and urged the public to report any evidence of human trafficking.
Burma introduced an anti-human trafficking law in September 2005 that imposes a maximum penalty of death.
 Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader, has said that “Total is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma.” For more information about Total Oil's investment in Burma see the Burma Campaign UK website:
 The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems:
 Burma joins Somalia in 179th place as the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International 2007 index rankings:
 Human Rights Watch report on Child Soldiers in Burma: