Weekly Diary 137
Weekly Diary, No. 137 (27 February 5 March 2005)
THAI FM AGREES WITH ASEAN CAUCUS ON BURMA!
Regime change comes about
ONE, when the opposition is militarily more powerful;
TWO, when the people are so angry they sacrifice thousands upon thousands and rise up;
THREE, through political maneuver by the opposition when the regime's inner cohesion is weak.
Chao Tzang Yawnghwe (1939-2004), 2 April 2003
In my view, they didn't commit
any crime. But I still think they will definitely be imprisoned.
Fu Cin Sian Thang, Zomi National Congress, on the coming trial of Hkun Htun Oo and Sai Nyunt Lwin, Irrawaddy, 27 February 2005
Amnesty International founder Peter Bernson, dies in Oxford at the age of 83. (Reuters)
Suicide car bomber blows up at lest 125 people to death and 130 to injuries in Hillah, South of Baghdad. (AP)
David Steinberg, distinguished professor and Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University, says he is convinced Rangoon has no intention of giving up power. (VOA)
Burmese ambassadors to UK, Canada, Australia and UN Geneva Office were recalled last month "for consultations". Each were then given an official car and told to give diplomatic training to new ambassadors. As for the ambassador to the US, he was given a lateral appointment as a Director General in the Foreign Office. He used to be a student of Gen Maung Aye when he was an instructor at Defense Services Academy. (Asian Tribune)
Burma is listed by the World Bank among 11-countries of Low Income Countries Under Stress (LICUS). (Financial Express)
Construction projects along the Prome/Pyay Road aimed at giving Rangoon a major face-lift before November 2006, when the junta is scheduled to host the Asean summit, have been aborted in mid-construction. Banks are no longer landing money. This is seen as a sign Than Shwe could not care less about hosting the summit. (Irrawaddy)
The US State Department's annual report rebukes Burma saying its "extremely poor human rights record worsened" during 2004. At least 85 pro-democracy supporters were arrested, of which 43 were charged, tried and put in prison. (AFP) Dimissed as "patently false" by Rangoon.
Canada will be accepting 50,000 Tsunami victims. The application form can be obtained from www.cic.gc.ca, click "skilled worker". (BBC)
Burmese migrants are among those apprehended in the Malaysian pre-dawn raids that begin today. (Irrawaddy)
Asean should not let its chairmanship fall automatically into Burma's lap next year, says Zaid Ibrahim, chairman of Asean Inter-parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, initiated by Malaysia with 400 membership from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Singapore and Thailand last year. (Bangkok Post)
When the ILO mission cut short its visit and left Rangoon on 23 February, it left a 4-point plan of action for the regime:
� The issuance of clear instructions to the army to stop the use of forced labor
� A renewed commitment to the previously agreed plan of action on forced labor
� The granting of freedom of movement to the ILO liaison officer in Rangoon
� Extension of amnesty to people convicted of treason for having contact with the ILO.
The ILO delegation was made up of Sir Ninian Stephen, Ruth Dreifuss and Chung Eui-yong.
The meeting of the ILO governing body in Geneva will be on 3-24 March. Pulling out is not favored by the ILO. "We're not leaving, they'll have to throw us out," Juan Somavia, ILO director general often says. But throwing out will not please Burma's neighbors. ILO though a UN body is unique in that it is made up of representatives of government, employers and labor. Greater pressure for sanctions will also force international financial bodies to review their activities in Burma.
The foreign minister was clearly shocked when the team informed him that they were cutting short their visit. The delegation published its report on the visit earlier this week. (Bangkok Post)
U Nyunt Maung Shwe, Ambassador to Germany, has been reappointed as UN ambassador in Geneva. His former office is succeeded by U Thein Win. No one knows where U Mya Than, the former ambassador to Geneva, and Dr Kyaw Win, ambassador to UK, are. (DVB)
During a recent visit to India, East Timor's leaders had demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. "They imprison for absolutely no reason," say FM Ramos-Horta, who is against sanctions. The best way for Burma is to drop the sanctions, open up the country and let tourists and investments flock into it, he says. (DVB)
George Yeo, FM Singapore, says what happens in Burma affects Asean as a whole. But Asean will convey the sentiments in a non-confrontational manner and behind closed doors. (AFP)
Mon National Warrior Army leaders Hloin and Bin are seeking refugee status at the Thai-based UNHCR office. Sook Gloin has succeeded them as the leader of MNWA, a splinter group from New Mon State Party. (Kaowao)
Some 130 migrant workers who survived the Tsunami have been reissued work permits. But they comprise only a fraction of the estimated 31,000 registered workers in Phangnga. (Irrawaddy)
Khao Sod reportsFM Surakiart Sathirathai has expressed agreement with assessment by the Asean caucus, as Bangkok's efforts to have Suu Kyi released have failed to produce results. (S.H.A.N.)
Thailand has a bad image among neighbors, says Jiraporn Bunnag, National Security Council assistant Secretary General. Surveys found Laotians, Cambodians and Burmese felt Thais like to cheat alien workers.
Thailand's Health Ministry doesn't have a clear policy on health care for alien workers even though alien labor employment has been allowed since 1996. (Bangkok Post)
NLD expels 3 more members bringing the total of expulsions to 21. The NLD has yet to offer explanation to 21. The NLD has yet to offer explanation for its actions. (BBC)
On 13 February, 13 ceasefire
groups at the convention submitted 7-point paper, which includes
� To review the role of the military
� To review the basis of the Union
� To bring more political parties to participate in the Convention
� To bring more elected officials to participate in the Convention
� To bring non-ceasefire groups as observers
� For each of the 8 Convention groupings to present one paper
On 16 February, the ceasefire groups also presented Secretary-1 Gen Thein Sein with a petition calling for the release of Gen Hsoten. (BBC)
UWSA's U Aung Myint discloses that some of the points presented earlier were not included in the new paper. However, they were told these points had already been made known to the world and would be considered during the drafting of the new constitution. (DVB)
On 17 February, representatives of the Burma Army's Northeastern Region Command met UWSA's 418th Division commander in Wiang Kao to reconfirm the ceasefire agreement between the two sides.
The UWSA however is not satisfied that Rangoon has yet to say anything about the US 24 January indictment of 8 of their leaders. The regime's ghost writers are also "having a cold" about the whole affair. (NDD)
Yangon City View Hotel at 8 miles junction and Galaxy Club, a prostitute haunt, run by former military intelligence have been abandoned. The latter has been taken over by a member of the UWSA. (Irrawaddy)
The people are pleased that the regime handpicked delegates are playing an active role in the convention, says Secretary-1 Thein Sein, who is also chairman of the convention. One delegate says he is using the convention to get much needed dental work. (AFP)
Concerning the expulsion of 21 NLD members, spokesman U Lwin points out even Aung San Suu Kyi had been expelled once. (RFA)
MP Kyaw Khin of Taunggyi who was released on 3 January was rearrested on 25 February. (DVB)
Vidura Chit Maung, 90, veteran politician, passes away at his home in Rangoon. (DVB)
Burma has yet to repair the 608ft jetty located in downtown Akyab (Sittwe), built by the British in 1844 and damaged by 19 May 2004 cyclone. (Narinjara)
Weekend meeting of dissident meeting in Washington's George Washington University includes Charm Tong of SWAN, who, according to a participant, "create a powerful impression" on the people in the seminar by "her brave presentations". (S.H.A.N.)
Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs congratulates Charm Tong, this year's recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award. (Statement)
Hkun Htun Oo and colleagues go on trial 1 March. A 4 member NLD legal team will provide legal aid. (Irrawaddy / S.H.A.N.)
Hkun Htun Oo has been charged with section 121, 124 (a) and 17-1. The NLD has chosen Aung Thein and Nyan Win, legal experts, to assist him. (BBC) 124(a) is defamation of the state; 17-1 association with illegal parties and 121 rebellion. (RFA)
Aung Thein and Nyan Win, assigned to defend Hkun Htun Oo and colleagues, are turned back at the entrance of Insein prison. (DVB)
The SPDC is breaking existing laws and legal procedures by not allowing them to meet with detained Shan leaders, claim lawyers. (DVB)
Hkun Htun Oo was a key player in the UNA and supported it financially. "Without him, the UNA can't be active at all," says Amyotharye Win Naing, who reports the authorities have confiscated six cars owned by Hkun Htun Oo. (Irrawaddy)
Economy / Business
China is looking into bypassing the Straits with a 1,250 km pipeline from Sittwe to Kunming. (pinr.com)
Many farmers have lost their land to money lenderers, says a lapidary the Chinese border, Kyaw Kyaw Oo from Kyonebyaw, Irrawaddy Division. He had 25 acres of paddy field, but after being forced to sell preemptively through need of funds, at 600 kyat per basket when even the government price is at 1,500 kyat, he lost his field. Working at a daily wage of 350-400 kyat wasn't enough to eat. "Here I can eat three days from working only one day" he claims. (RFA)
A housemaid of Arakan State's Women Affairs chairperson and Sittwe University Burmese language professor Khin Than Nu was raped and killed by her nephew. However, she was released after being detained as a suspected accomplice. (DVB)
According UNESCO figures, school drop-out rate in Burma is up to 45% especially in ethnic and rural areas. Min Naing of All Burma Students Federations Union that produces the annual education report blames political instability that in turn has created economic instability in Burma.
Although theoretically education is free for all, many cash demands are made on parents, such as collection of funds for school buildings. There are even teachers who cannot afford to enroll their children in schools, says educational expert Dr Thein Lwin. (NMG)
Min Min Htaik, 15, of Zigon, Pegu Division and another child recruited by SPDC soldiers. U Pauk Sa, the father, was not permitted to see him. (DVB/XNA)
Hanthit (New Style) monthly told in mid-February it was suspended for the months of April and May for carrying a Rangoon restaurant's advertisement for a St Valentine's Day celebration, reports Reporters without Borders and the Burma Media Association. All publications in Burma must send their drafts to the security board for approval prior to publication. (AFP)
The Mekong between Thailand's Nong Khai and Laos' Vientianne is drying up. (Bangkok Post)
Burma "demonstrably fails" to meet international anti-drug obligations, says Washington 2005 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. (RFA)
Report released in Bangkok today by Geneva-based Board says the total cultivation area fell from 62,200 hectares in 2003 to 44,200 last year. (Contrary to S.H.A.N. report that says there were more input but less output).
Mae Fah Luang Foundation is training 27 Afghan drug experts. (Bangkok Post) Drug traffickers are forging new smuggling routes through Laos and Cambodia and production labs as in Fiji that was uncovered in June. (AFP)
A month after Maha Sang went underground following arrest warrant for him, the National Democratic Front, of which his Wa National Organization is a member, issues a statement that it is ready to guarantee his innocence. (Statement)
4 gunmen believed to fighters from the UWSA killed during a gunfight with the police in Chiangmai. 100,000 ATS pills seized.
Another two men killed in Maehongson's Pang Mapha. 40 bars of heroin base weighing 15 kg found. (Bangkok Post)
The New Light of Myanmar is moving north from Rangoon to Pyinmana, but it is still not certain when. A reporter thought the move reflected the generals' concern about a possible seaborne attack on the regime perhaps by a western power. (Irrawaddy)