eros ဆက္မလုပ္ႏိုင္ေတာ့ဟန္ရွိတာမို ့… ဒီေခါင္းစဥ္နဲ့ တင္လိုက္တာပါ..။
တလ တခါ တင္သြားမယ္ စဥ္းစားထားပါတယ္..။
သတင္းေတြကိုဖတ္ျပီး ေ၀ဖန္ေဆြးေႏြးခ်င္တာေတြကို ..ပို႔စ္ခြဲတင္ ေဆြးေႏြးႏိုင္ၾကပါေၾကာင္း…။

BURMA RELATED NEWS – JULY 01, 2011

AsiaNews.it – Burmese soldiers in civilian clothes attack and rob Kachin civilians
AsiaOne – Myanmar carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’: missionary agency
The Star Online – That’s no way to treat Michelle
AFP – Support of democracies key for Myanmar: Suu Kyi
ABC Radio Australia – Burma’s leaders bans Aung San Suu Kyi from political activity
ABC Radio Australia – Australian diplomat meets leaders in Burma
The Japan Times – Japan to support Myanmar rights, Suu Kyi assured
IRIN – MYANMAR: War flares in Kachin State, say locals
Channel News Asia – Michelle Yeoh “shocked and terribly saddened” by Myanmar deportation
UNAIDS – Myanmar’s national plan for AIDS confirms commitment to reach universal access by 2015
Monsters and Critics – Myanmar opposition leader plans “pilgrimage” to ancient capital
PRWeb- Former Myanmar Refugee Finds Freedom as an Army National Guard Soldier
Times of India – Import of Myanmar pigs to Manipur banned
The Irrawaddy – BGF Commander Killed in All-Karen Clash
The Irrawaddy – Ceasefire Talks Produce Old Rhetoric, No New Agreement
The Irrawaddy – Opinion: Intelligent Dialogue Partners or Useful Idiots?
Mizzima News – NLD confirms Suu Kyi to visit Bagan on personal pilgrimage
Mizzima News – Burma issues discussed in democracy forum in Lithuania
Mizzima News – No one obeys gov’t order to hand over weapons in Mon State
DVB News – German weapons firm in Burma capital
DVB News – Suu Kyi on China, war and peace
DVB News – Shan upheaval as gas attack fears spread
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07/01/2011 14:43
MYANMAR
AsiaNews.it – Burmese soldiers in civilian clothes attack and rob Kachin civilians
In Myitson, near a dam construction site on the Irrawaddy, soldiers raid and rob money and valuables. The humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war is getting worse for at least 20,000 refugees. Kachin refugees in India express their support for the rebel struggle.Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar army soldiers have attacked and robbed Kachin civilians, local sources said. Dressed in civilian clothes, members of the military have raided villages and robbed travellers. Meanwhile, ethnic Kachins who found refuge in Singpho, in the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh, have pledged support for the armed struggle against Myanmar government forces.In the last few weeks, civil war has broken out in Kachin State, a region in northern Myanmar on the border with China, between the rebels of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Myanmar forces.The KIA is the second largest armed group in size and importance in Myanmar. Recently, its leaders have authorised a series of targeted lightening strikes against central government troops and facilities.For their part, Burmese soldiers have attacked and stolen jewels and other valuables from civilians in Myitsone, near the dam under construction on the Irrawaddy River, some 30 kilometres from the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina.“Burmese soldiers are doing whatever they like,” local sources explained. In fact, the Burmese military is also preventing residents from using bridges, forcing them to cross swollen rivers and mud covered land.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in kachin state is getting worse with at least 20,000 Kachins forced to flee the conflict.

Human rights activists have complained that the Kachin live under oppression, subjected to all sorts of violence, from robberies and mass rape to targeted killings (cf “Aung San Suu Kyi asks for “peace” for her birthday. Kachin raped and killed by the military,” in AsiaNews, 20 June 2011)

Kachin living in India back the KIA’s struggle and armed resistance against the Burmese army.

The Singpho Development Society (SDS) is deeply concerned about the suffering of the Kachin people, who are caught in the middle of the civil war.

At the same time, the KIA is in “the right in this war”. In fact, after 17 years of ceasefire, there is “no evidence of progress and development” for the Kachin people. Instead, they continue to suffer “economically, socially and politically”.

Ultimately, it is time for them to earn full title to their land.

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AsiaOne – Myanmar carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’: missionary agency
AFP Fri, Jul 01, 2011VATICAN CITY – Troops in Myanmar are carrying out “ethnic cleansing” against the mainly Christian Kachin ethnic minority near the border with China, the missionary news agency Fides reported on Friday.Citing a local Catholic priest, Fides said fighting had forced 20,000 people to leave their homes so far and the number was increasing by the day.Priests and nuns in the area “are doing everything to help the ethnic Kachin refugees, almost all Christians, victims of a brutal repression carried out by the Burmese military”, the priest was quoted as telling the Rome-based agency.Clashes began when the government struck an agreement with China on the construction of a dam in the northern region, which would force the evacuation and flooding of villages where the Kachin people live, Fides said.“They are women, children and old people who are at the mercy of the soldiers. These, when they meet the Kachin villages, carry out, for revenge, all sorts of violence, abuse and ransacking,” the priest said.

“They kill old people and children, rape women, burn homes, confiscate properties. They use ruthless methods to ethnic cleansing,” he added.

The priest also said there was a risk of a “humanitarian emergency” in the area for refugees out in the open as the rainy season approaches.

Myanmar has been plagued by decades of civil war with armed ethnic minority militias since independence in 1948.

In recent weeks fighting has broken out with Kachin rebels.

Last week bomb blasts rattled three Myanmar cities in the latest in a series of explosions that authorities have mostly blamed on ethnic minority rebels.

The military junta handed over power to a nominally civilian administration in March after nearly half a century of army rule, following an election marred by complaints of intimidation and fraud.

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Friday July 1, 2011
The Star Online – That’s no way to treat MichelleI REFER to Myanmar’s inhuman and uncivilised way of treating Datuk Michelle Yeoh (“Yeoh deported from Myanmar” – The Star, June 29).The whole episode of her deportation is barbaric to say the least, and clearly betrays the lack of even elementary human decency, and undeniably shows the inhumanity of that countries’ immigration officials.As an academic and a keen observer of politics, I respect the internal issues and the sovereignty of the nation in question, yet I cannot help but wonder what kind of “justice” they are dispensing in their society? What kind of government do they have?Yeoh is neither a revolutionary nor an activist seeking to overthrow the government of Myanmar. She is not messing around with the internal affairs of Myanmar. She is known all over the world as an artiste, a noted Hollywood actress. She is a respected artiste faithful to her craft; that’s all!She was deported on the same day that she arrived. The reason: she is under the blacklist watch. Is it because she portrayed Myanmar democracy icon Daw Aung Suu Kyi in a movie?

May I remind the powers-that-be in that country that Yeoh is a Malaysian citizen and both her country and Myanmar are members of Asean, and have agreed to ratify in principle the Asean Charter on Human Rights.

What happened to Yeoh is a grave violation of the Charter. Hence, she can ask Wisma Putra to demand an official apology.

Yeoh and the Government of Malaysia must not let this event go unnoticed.

Our artiste and the Government must condemn in the strongest possible terms this act committed by the military junta.

JOSE MARIO DOLOR DE VEGA,
Nilai.

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Support of democracies key for Myanmar: Suu Kyi
(AFP) – 1 day agoVILNIUS — Myanmar’s iconic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday thanked democratic nations for their support and said she hopes to see her homeland take its seat alongside them.“We appreciate all the things that the Community of Democracies has done to promote empowerment, energisation and engagement,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said in a pre-recorded video address played at a gathering of the grouping in Lithuania.“We look forward to the time when our country can be an active, energetic, powerful member of the Community of Democracies,” she said.
Officials in Vilnius said the video had been recorded several days ago.On Wednesday, Myanmar’s regime told pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi to halt all political activities and warned that her planned first national tour since being freed in November from seven straight years of house arrest could spark riots and chaos.The Community of Democracies is an informal grouping of more than a hundred countries set up in 2000.

Its stated goal is to strengthen and deepen democratic norms and practices worldwide.

Former Soviet-ruled Lithuania is currently in charge of the Community of Democracies, whose East European members are keen to share know-how built up over two decades since the collapse of their region’s communist regimes.

Lithuania organised the gathering in its capital Vilnius to mark the end of its two-year term at the helm. It hands over to Mongolia on Friday.

“I was released during the period when Lithuania was at the head of the Community of Democracies. This to me, seemed a very good omen,” Suu Kyi said.

“This, to me, indicates that we in Burma will achieve in the not too distant future what we have been working for for so long,” she added.

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ABC Radio Australia – Burma’s leaders bans Aung San Suu Kyi from political activity
Updated July 1, 2011 21:16:45Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is in Burma, but there’s uncertainty over whether he’ll be able to meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as planned tomorrow.Mr Rudd is also scheduled to meet Burma’s President and Foreign Minister, U Thein Sein.Burma’s military-backed government has told Ms Suu Kyi to stop all political activities, which may include meeting foreign diplomats.So was there a clear order from the Burmese government for Ms Suu Kyi not to meet foreign politicians?Reporter: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Dr Myint Cho, spokesman for the Burma Campaign Australia

MYINT CHO: In the past, the Burmese regime used the state-run media to warn Aung San Suu Kyi internationally for democracy. This time, Home Affairs Ministry directly sent a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy on 28th June, that warned that the current activities for Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, particularly meeting with the foreign organisations and publishing periodicals and videos, are not only against the laws, but also would countermount to opposing the parliament and the government. So this is very threat to the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi. We can translate into possible tough actions against Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD sooner than later.

COCHRANE: Now Aung San Suu Kyi recently met with former US presidential candidate, John McCain. Do you think this is part of what might have spooked the government?

MYINT CHO: Yes, because the Burmese government is an xenophobic government, so they don’t like the disbanded NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with the very famous and top diplomats from various countries, including Kevin Rudd. But they have no choice to accept those diplomats.

COCHRANE: What would you like to see Kevin Rudd do in this quite difficult position now that he’s there?

MYINT CHO: Yes, Kevin Rudd’s trip is the last in the long line of dignitaries from the UN, US, Japan, EU and neighbouring states and his trip is the first by an Australian foreign minister since Alexander Downer visited Burma in 2002. Mr. Downer failed to convince the regime to bring about political change in Burma. Now it is Mr. Rudd’s turn to convince the new civilian regime formed in March by the senior members of the previous military junta to do the right thing. It’s a very hard job for him.

COCHRANE: Would you expect Mr. Rudd to raise the issues of democracy and human rights with the president and foreign minister when he meets them?

MYINT CHO: Yes exactly, I believe he will raise these issues, but he also should raise two important issues. One is, Mr. Kevin Rudd should ask the Burmese authority to stop all military hostilities against ethnic minorities and protest against crimes against humanity in war crimes committed by the Burmese army. And another one is Mr. Kevin Rudd should ask the Burmese authorities to protect Aung San Suu Kyi from violent attacks and assassination attempts as she is central to peaceful political change in Burma.

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ABC Radio Australia – Australian diplomat meets leaders in Burma
Last Updated: Fri, 1 Jul 2011 17:07:00 +1000Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has arrived in Burma but it is uncertain whether he will meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.Burma’s military-backed government has told Ms Suu Kyi to stop all political activities, which may include meeting foreign diplomats.Mr Rudd is also scheduled to meet Burma’s President and Foreign Minister, U Thein Sein.A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said a meeting with Aung Sang Suu Kyi was still scheduled.Dr Myint Cho, from Burma Campaign Australia, told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program that Mr Rudd needs to convince the regime to bring about political change.

“Now it is Mr Rudd’s turn to convince the new civilian regime formed in March by the senior members of the previous military junta to do the right thing.”

Dr Myint Cho expects Rudd to discuss human rights and democracy with the president and foreign minister.

But Dr Myint Cho said it was important he also raises other issues, such as Burma’s treatment of ethnic minorities and the protection of Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Friday, July 1, 2011
The Japan Times – Japan to support Myanmar rights, Suu Kyi assured
KyodoYANGON — Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Makiko Kikuta on Wednesday met with Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and conveyed Tokyo’s support for further democratization, diplomatic sources said.Kikuta met with Suu Kyi at her political party’s head office in Yangon for an hour and discussed human rights issues in Myanmar, the sources said.The meeting took place on the day the country’s state-run media reported that Myanmar’s government has effectively banned Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy from engaging in political activities.The talks were the first official encounter between a senior Japanese government official and Suu Kyi since August 2002, when then Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi met with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.After their meeting, Suu Kyi and Kikuta declined comment on what they had discussed.

But later in the day, Suu Kyi said their meeting covered the positive relations between Myanmar and Japan, and expressed sympathy to the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Kikuta arrived in Myanmar on Monday, and met with Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and other senior officials in the country’s administrative capital, Naypyitaw, on Tuesday.

During her talks with the foreign minister, Kikuta said Tokyo intends to continue offering aid, especially to meet the basic needs of Myanmar people, but will decide on a case-by-case basis by taking into consideration human rights and democratization in the country, the sources said.

Suu Kyi told Kikuta that she hopes Japan will consider not only Myanmar’s democratization but also the maintenance of regional peace and stability when deciding to disburse aid.

The democracy leader also urged Tokyo to ensure accountability and transparency as a donor, according to the sources.

A civilian government led by former senior members of the junta that ruled Myanmar for the past 22 years assumed power at the end of March.

Suu Kyi was released from 7½ years in detention last November, shortly after the general election.

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MYANMAR: War flares in Kachin State, say localsBANGKOK, 1 July 2011 (IRIN) – Thousands of citizens have fled recent fighting between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State, the northernmost part of the country bordering China, raising concerns among community groups.“They [the displaced] need food, shelter and medicine,” La Nang, a spokesperson and joint secretary of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, told IRIN from its headquarters in Laiza, a town neighbouring China. The KIO is a political group of ethnic minorities in northern Myanmar. “So far no international humanitarian agency has offered any help to them.”Since the fighting erupted in the second week of June after failed negotiations, KIO reports that more than 16,000 people have fled to Laiza, while more than 4,000 are hiding in the jungle to avoid Burmese soldiers.Though they are not welcomed by the Chinese government, more than 10,000 people have also fled to China, according to the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), a Chiang Mai-based agency advocating democratic change in Myanmar.Even in areas where fighting has not erupted, people are fleeing, carrying as many belongings as they can, out of fear that the war will come to their area within days.

KIA and Burmese government forces fought for decades after the central government denied the region self-governance, until 1994 when both sides agreed a ceasefire.

The relationship grew tense when the central government pressured the KIA in 2010 to form a Border Guard Force along with other ethnic armed groups, or to disarm.

With the contribution of private donors, KIO, KWAT and a few local groups have been providing food and shelter items, “but it’s not enough to feed and provide for them”, said Mai Ja, a spokeswoman for KWAT. “The IDPs [internally displaced persons] are increasing day by day.”

Disputed claims

In a meeting with the members of parliament of Yangon Region in late June, Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann said the fighting between Myanmar forces and KIA had ended, and that the relationship between the government and KIA was back to the original state before the unrest that erupted in June after nearly two decades of quiet.

“It’s not true,” KWAT’s Mai Ja said. “There is still fighting in some places and it’s very dangerous for [the displaced] to go back to their homes.”

KWAT announced in late June that at least 18 women and girls from age 15 to 50 were gang-raped in the war-zone by Burmese soldiers between 10 and 18 June. Four women were killed after being raped while another died from her injuries, KWAT said.

“In this kind of situation it is not safe to go back home,” said Mai Ja. “They need to keep staying in the camps or wherever they are staying.”

KIO said malaria, diarrhoea and flu were a concern and medicine was needed. Tarpaulin sheets are also in demand for makeshift shelters.

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Channel News Asia – Michelle Yeoh “shocked and terribly saddened” by Myanmar deportation
Posted: 01 July 2011 1142 hrsPETALING JAYA: Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh said Thursday that she was “shocked and terribly saddened”, when Myanmar authorities deported her on June 22, shortly after she arrived in the country, reported Malaysian media.“The immigration authorities treated me cordially but deported me upon arrival for no reason and without providing any justification,” added Yeoh, who plays Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in French director Luc Besson’s upcoming film “The Lady”.However, the 48-year-old fomer Bond girl pointed out that she harboured “no ill will resulting from this incident and continue to remain fond of Burma (Myanmar) and the Burmese (Myanmar) people”.“I continue to cherish hopes to see this country continue its progress towards peace and democracy and to be able to return soon,” said Yeoh in her statement.A Myanmar government official said earlier this week that Yeoh had been blacklisted and had been refused entry into Myanmar, but did not say why.

Yeoh, a former Miss Malaysia, made her big screen debut in films like 1985’s “Yes, Madam” and 1993’s “The Heroic Trio” and is best known for her role in Ang Lee’s 2000 martial arts film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

Yeoh’s upcoming film “The Lady” also stars UK actor David Thewlis (who played Remus Lupin in the “Harry Potter” films) as Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband Michael Aris.

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UNAIDS – Myanmar’s national plan for AIDS confirms commitment to reach universal access by 2015
01 July 2011Myanmar’s AIDS response received a boost with the launch of the new National Strategic Plan for AIDS, which reconfirmed the country’s commitment to reach universal access to HIV services by 2015.“The Ministry of Health is committed to support the efforts of all partners and work in multi-sector partnership to reach programme targets by 2015,” said Dr Pe Thet Khin, Minister of Health, at the launch of the plan which took place in early June on the sidelines of a multi-sectoral workshop on AIDS hosted by the Ministry of Health.More than 120 officials, development partners and civil society representatives, including high ranking representatives of government and UN, participated in the workshop to agree on strategies for ensuring maximum implementation of the new Plan.“The collaborative efforts of all partners in developing the AIDS strategic plan and commitment shown by many government sectors is one of the best examples in development work in this country,” said Mr Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar.Speaking at the launch, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia, Dr Nafis Sadik, who was visiting Myanmar as part of an official UN mission on AIDS, urged all partners to be involved in roll out activities. “Government, non-government organizations, community-based organizations, people living with HIV, professional associations, and the private sector all have their role to play in helping expand the effectiveness and scale up of HIV programmes,” she said.

The Ministry of Health is committed to support the efforts of all partners and work in multi-sector partnership to reach programme targets by 2015

Dr Pe Thet Khin, Myanmar Minister of Health

In 2010, there were an estimated 236,000 people living with HIV in Myanmar. Despite limited resources, Myanmar has made significant progress in its national AIDS response.

There are more people on antiretroviral treatment than ever before—in 2010 some 30 000 out of the 76 000 people in need of HIV treatment, and there are some signs that HIV prevalence among key populations has begun to decline. Nevertheless, prevalence among on populations at higher risk remains high. According to the 2009 HIV sentinel surveillance data, HIV prevalence among female sex workers is 11.2%; people who inject drugs is 34.6%; men who have sex with men is 22.3%—making it evident that more needs to be done to ensure their access to HIV services.

“Protecting the rights of people living with HIV and affected populations—including people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and transgender people—is not only the right thing to do, but is necessary to ensure that people are able to benefit from HIV services,” noted Mr Clifton Cortez, Asia-Pacific Regional Practice leader for HIV and Health of UNDP who joined Dr Sadik and Mr Gary Lewis, Regional Representative of UNODC for East Asia and the Pacific on the three-day UN country visit.

At the close of the National Plan launch workshop, participants adopted a Statement expressing their commitment to redouble their efforts to the AIDS response in Myanmar and to reach the Plan’s 2015 targets. They also agreed to review laws and create a more enabling environment to help increase scale and efficiency of programmes.

With the Plan now officially in place, similar workshops will be organized in different states and regions in the country to raise awareness of its targets and priority HIV activities.

“I am encouraged to see everyone coming together and voicing their support to the AIDS response. It gives us new energy to continue to expand the AIDS programme in Myanmar,” said Thiha Kyaing, Chair of Myanmar Positive Group, the national network for people living with HIV in Myanmar.

Implementation of the full Plan requires the total budget of US$ 344 million from 2011 to 2015. “If the government and international development partners commit to provide the needed resources for implementing the new strategic plan, Myanmar will most likely be able to maintain its achievement and scale-up HIV service provision to reach their targets by 2015,” said Dr Sadik.

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Monsters and Critics – Myanmar opposition leader plans “pilgrimage” to ancient capital
Jul 1, 2011, 4:20 GMTYangon – Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was to visit the ancient capital Bagan next week, accompanied by her son, opposition sources said Friday.Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party, and her youngest son Kim Aris, 33, will fly to Bagan on Monday ‘on a family pilgrimage,’ the party’s spokesman Ohn Kyaing said.Aris, who lives in London, arrived in Myanmar on June 19 to celebrate his mother’s 66th birthday.‘It is not a political tour,’ Ohn Kyaing said of the trip to Bagan, Myanmar’s pagoda-studded capital from the 11th to the 13th centuries.The planned trip comes days after the government issued a veiled threat against Suu Kyi’s announced plans to tour the country this month.

‘We are deeply concerned that if Daw [Madam] Aung San Suu Kyi makes trips to countryside regions, there may be chaos and riots as evidenced by previous incidents,’ said an editorial carried by the New Light of Myanmar and other state-run dailies on Wednesday.

The last time Suu Kyi and her NLD followers visited the provinces was in 2003. Her convoy was attacked by pro-military thugs, leaving an estimated 19 dead and Suu Kyi injured.

She was arrested and sentenced to house detention for undermining national security. Suu Kyi was released from house detention on November 13, days after the country held its first general election in two decades.

Although her NLD was officially disbanded last year, Suu Kyi is seen as the chief threat to the military establishment that has ruled Myanmar since 1962. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has spent nearly 15 of the past 21 years under house detention, has vowed to tour rural areas of Myanmar in July.

‘I will go ahead with my plan,’ Suu Kyi said, despite receiving a letter from the government warning her off any political activity. ‘If they (the authorities) are worried, we will have to co-operate with them on the tour.’

The NLD won the previous general election in 1990 by a landslide but was blocked from assuming power for two decades by the military.

The November 7 election, labelled a sham by Western democracies, brought to power a government led by the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party, headed by former general Thein Sein.

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Friday, July 1, 2011
PRWeb- Former Myanmar Refugee Finds Freedom as an Army National Guard Soldier
As a former refugee desperately trying to become a free man, Pvt. Saw Blu celebrates his freedom this 4th of July as a solider in the United States National Guard. Each evening, Pvt. Saw Blu reads his bible and prays, thanking his God for life, freedom and asks for a chance to help others.North Little Rock, Arkansas (PRWEB) June 30, 2011As a former refugee desperately trying to become a free man, Pvt. Saw Blu celebrates his freedom this 4th of July as a solider in the United States National Guard. Each evening, Pvt. Saw Blut reads his bible and prays, thanking his God for life, freedom and asks for a chance to help others. Just three years ago, Blut was granted asylum in the United States through the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) and was resettled in Grand Rapids, Mich.Blut, a member of the Karen ethnic group, fled Myanmar (Burma) to Malaysia to escape oppression and ethnic cleansing by the Burmese government. He lived in a refugee camp for two years until he registered with the UNHCR and paperwork was finalized.“The soldiers would come into our villages, kill and terrorize our people and burn our houses,” Blut said.While his parents survived past attacks, Blut said some of his extended family members didn’t make it. Coupled with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that ravaged Myanmar and southeast Asia, Blut said he and his parents are lucky to be alive. Blut grew up in a rural, poor village near Pathein, the fourth largest city in Myanmar. Modern conveniences such as plumbing, electricity and paved roads are considered luxuries. Even before the tsunami, communication was limited. Blut said he speaks with his parents several times a year on a shared line, but disconnections and interference on the line make it difficult to keep in touch. That’s where he said their common Christian faith ties them over the miles and separation. Blut said his parents miss him but are glad that he’s safe and has an opportunity to prosper as an individual.

Over the past five years more than 15,000 Burmese refugees have found asylum in the United States and Blut said he is blessed to be one of them. He received his green card from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services in 2008, but now as a member of the Army National Guard, Blut is eligible to receive expedited citizenship. He said he looks forward to the day that he becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Blut enlisted in the Michigan Army National Guard in the spring of 2011. He earned his GED through the National Guard GED Plus program in North Little Rock on June 21, 2011 and reported for basic training at Ft. Jackson, S.C. the following day. Upon graduation, he will attend the Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic School at Ft. Jackson to learn his military occupational skill. Blut said he plans on returning to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend college and find a full time civilian job.

“America has given me so much,” Blut said. “I just want to give back and serve my new country.”

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Times of India – Import of Myanmar pigs to Manipur banned
Jun 30, 2011, 11.16am ISTIMPHAL: Following the outbreak of a fatal livestock disease in Myanmar, the import of pigs and pork from the neighboring country to Manipur has been banned. Although there is a huge demand for pigs imported from the neighbouring country, the import ban has not immediately hiked the price of pork in the state capital.Manipur shares an over 350 km-long border with Myanmar and the construction a 10-km fence is underway at Moreh town in Chandel district of the state.An outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) or the ‘blue-ear disease’ was reported in Myanmar’s Naypyidaw district in early April this year, according to the neighbouring country’s animal husbandry and veterinary department. In early June, it was reported to have spread to cattle and other domesticated animals, including cats and dogs.
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The Irrawaddy – BGF Commander Killed in All-Karen Clash
By THE IRRAWADDY Friday, July 1, 2011A Karen commander of the Border Guard Force (BGF), Battalion 1011, was killed in action during a clash with former BGF Karen rebels, according to Karen sources.Sources said that defecting former BGF battalions led by Lt-Col Po Bi, which refused to fight alongside the Burmese army, attacked a BGF zone led by Lt-Col Soe Naing on June 30. Soe Naing died in action during the two-hour engagement.In May, another renegade Karen faction of the BGF, Battalion 1012, again led by Po Bi, took over full control of the BGF headquarters in Myaing Gyi Nyu, southern Karen State, kicked out his BGF government advisors, and ordered the 500 soldiers under his command to remove the BGF badges from their uniforms and replace them with their old the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) insignia.Later, two other BGF battalions, 1013 and 1014, joined the Po Bi-led faction, leaving only Battalion 1011 remaining BGF.“The fighting started at 4 pm on Thursday and ended at 6 pm. The situation there is very serious now,” said Lt-Col Paw Do, the commander of Battalion 101 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), the major Karen rebel group resisting Burmese government forces in Karen State.

The DKBA joined the Burmese government’s BGF initiative in August 2010. The government had previously ordered all ethnic ceasefire groups in April 2009 to transform their units into BGF battalions under Burmese army command.

Sources said that the government is currently sending additional columns of troops to the Myaing Gyi Nyu area, which is under full control of the DKBA and the KNLA.

Due primarily to their religious differences, the DKBA split from the Christian-dominated Karen National Union, the political wing of the KNLA, in 1994 and signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1995. Afterward, with the backing of government troops, the DKBA launched attacks against the KNLA until the fall of Manerplaw, the KNU headquarters.

However, after a bloody clash in Myawaddy on Nov. 8, which forced some 20,000 civilians to seek temporary refuge in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, and the execution-style killing of six Karen soldiers belonging to the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, the DKBA’s loyalty to the government declined dramatically.

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The Irrawaddy – Ceasefire Talks Produce Old Rhetoric, No New Agreement
By BA KAUNGFriday, July 1, 2011LAJA YAN, Kachin State— At 9:30 a.m. On Thursday, the deputy military chief of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Brig-Gen Gun Maw, and a group of other high-ranking KIA officials gathered by the roadside in Laja Yan Village, Kachin State. The village is located in an area the ethnic armed group currently controls, but sits only a few kilometers from a deployment of Burmese army troops, with whom the KIA has been engaged in deadly fighting for the last three weeks since a 17-year long ceasefire broke down.Dressed in light green camouflage fatigues, the soft-spoken Gun Maw and his comrades chatted in the Kachin language, occasionally breaking into laughter. Behind them was a makeshift pavilion, constructed to hold the first direct talks between representatives of the Burmese military and the KIA since clashes broke out between the two sides on June 9. Nearby were plastic bags containing Johnny Walker whiskey— gifts for the Burmese delegation.At 11:00 a.m., Col Than Aung, the Kachin State minister for border affairs, arrived at the pavilion with his entourage. He indicated from the start of the meeting that he was directly representing the national government in Naypyidaw, not just the Kachin State government, by saying that, “Higher authorities and I talked over this conflict. You understand who I am referring to, don’t you?”In what seemed to be an overture, he said that the KIA’s liaison offices should be reopened so the KIA and the Burmese government could work together—the KIA set up the offices in Kachin State’s urban areas after the 1994 ceasefire was signed, but the Burmese government forced them to close late last year after the ethnic armed group rejected Naypyidaw’s order to transform itself into a member of the government’s border guard force (BGF) under the command of the Burmese army.Than Aung also asked Gun Maw for a signed acknowledgement that the KIA would renew the ceasefire, and asked the KIA officials to participate in the country’s political process “in dignity.”

These requests came despite the fact that Than Aung did not himself carry any official document saying that the government would renew the ceasefire, and the fact that the Burmese military regime—which in March was replaced by a nominally civilian government—forbid three Kachin political parties from participating in the parliamentary elections last November on grounds that their leaders were linked to the KIA.

When Gun Maw asked Than Aung for formal evidence that the Burmese army would end hostile attacks against the KIA, Than Aung did not answer directly, saying he will have to report to the “higher authorities.”

“We heard that the Burmese army was reinforcing its troops in Kachin State, some of which have arrived by ship,” Gun Maw said.

“No, that’s not true,” Than Aung replied. “All are at normal levels. This is the media age. We cannot hide anything.”

Although Gun Maw and the other KIA officials at the meeting expressed a desire for a ceasefire, they indicated that any agreement to halt fighting must come with tangible political reforms and compromise from the Naypyidaw government. In particular, he told the Burmese delegation that the government must change the “Nargis Law,” referring to the current Constitution, which was voted on in a referendum held in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

“A ceasefire does not necessarily mean peace,” Gun Maw said. “Many describe the previous ceasefire as peace, which it really wasn’t.”

During the previous ceasefire, the KIA and its political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), asked the Burmese regime to engage in regional development and provide a political solution to the decades old conflict which granted autonomy to the Kachin people in Kachin State. At that time, the Burmese military generals said they did not have the mandate to solve the political questions, which could only be addressed after a civilian government came into power.

Between the time the 1994 ceasefire was entered into and 2009, when the KIA first rejected the BGF plan, Chinese companies and Burmese business groups with links to the government invested in a number of large projects in Kachin State, such as hydropower projects, that benefitted the outside investors but not local people and came with significant negative social and environmental impacts.

In addition, during that time the KIA focused its efforts on regional development and stopped actively recruiting and training new forces for its armed militia, which weakened its position in relation to the Burmese government. So when the KIA complained to the Burmese government about the unfairness and negative effects of projects such as the Chinese-built Myitsone Dam, it lacked the negotiating leverage either to halt the project or change the terms.

It is therefore not surprising that in interviews with The Irrawaddy at the KIA headquarters in Laiza and at nearby military outposts, several KIA officers and lower ranking soldiers said they did not want to see their leaders striking another “empty” ceasefire deal with the Burmese government, preferring to fight the Burmese army for the autonomy they desired.

“We want autonomy for Kachin State. Otherwise, I don’t want another ceasefire with the Burmese army,” said 60-year-old Maj. Hkaraw La Ja, the commander of the KIA’s 1,000-strong guerilla force tasked with defending the KIA Headquarters in Laiza, which is located near the Chinese border.

Hkaraw La Ja previously fought the Burmese army from 1967 until 1997, and then went into retirement. Now, he is one of several combat-hardened military officers who re-joined the KIA in late 2009 after tension built up with the Burmese military leaders over the BGF plan.

“I’m ready to fight for my people,” he said, and his foot soldiers appear ready to follow.

“I joined the army to fight for national independence,” said Brang Seng, 21, a KIA soldier guarding a security post at Laja Yan, who noted that the Kachin people have been colonized by the Burmese majority since the British left Burma 63 years ago.

Within the KIA, there is not much optimism that a new ceasefire deal will be reached, and many members expressed a complete distrust of the Burmese government. The headmaster of the KIA’s military academy at Laiza, who does not wish to be named, explained that the Kachin people have faced injustice even with an armed KIA.

“These injustices will become all the more severe when we lay down our arms,” he said. “Instead of another sham ceasefire, we will fight to our death.”

Some officials assume that the current lull in armed clashes with the Burmese troops is either because of an internal clash in the Naypyidaw leadership, or because the Burmese government is just waiting for a proper time to launch a major military offensive against them.

Despite the skepticism, however, Burmese and KIA officials intend to meet again in the near future for another round of ceasefire talks—although when is unclear.

“I don’t know when this will happen again. They said they will inform us,” said Gun Maw after the meeting.

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The Irrawaddy – Opinion: Intelligent Dialogue Partners or Useful Idiots?
By SUZANNE ROTTFriday, July 1, 2011Germany’s federal commissioner for human rights policy, Markus Loening, recently visited Burma and published an article in The Financial Times in which he called upon European Union member states to enter into an “intelligent dialogue with all groups in Burmese society.” This sounds reasonable enough, as long as this call is not what we have seen behind closed diplomatic doors in internal EU member states’ consultations about right policies toward Burma. Calls for dialogue with “all groups in Burmese society” have unfortunately too often taken the form of an effort to undermine the role of Aung San Suu Kyi as the genuine leader of the Burmese democratic movement and as a legitimate representative of many of the aspirations of the vast majority in Burmese society.That is exactly what the generals in power want to achieve—to marginalize and delegitimize Suu Kyi and her party, the National league for Democracy (NLD). From the generals’ side, it is a logical and “intelligent” aspiration. They rightly see Suu Kyi and the NLD, as well as the ethnic parties that have been banned or were discouraged from taking part in last year’s elections, as the real sociopolitical force that can challenge their grip on power. But EU diplomats should under no pretext assist the generals in achieving their goal of sidelining opposition forces.Dialogue should not lure them into the trap of becoming useful idiots with good intentions who only end up serving the core interests of Burma’s military strategists.To know what the call for dialogue “with all groups in Burmese society” looks like in practice, one need only consider the fact that the European Heads of Missions in Myanmar meeting on March 14, which brought European ambassadors together to discuss their positions regarding the EU sanctions review, the German participant argued against mentioning Suu Kyi by name in official EU communications.German Ambassador Julius Georg Luy and other German diplomats are among those who for months have been trying to put Suu Kyi at the same level as representatives of the small democratic parties that were allowed by the military regime to enter Parliament to give legitimacy to the results of the sham elections held last November. When EU ambassadors were planning to have a joint meeting and lunch with Suu Kyi, German diplomats argued that they should not meet the NLD leader separately, but only together with representatives of other opposition parties. The German ambassador, together with his Belgian and Spanish colleagues, argued that other democrats and ethnic forces might be offended if it became public that Suu Kyi was being afforded special treatment. It was the UK ambassador who  rightly pushed for a separate meeting with Suu Kyi, because she is still the undisputed leader of the democratic opposition—a fact that EU member states should not deny. But Germany still argued that the goal of such a meeting should be to seek a wide range of views from several interlocutors, without favoring anyone in particular.

By calling for “intelligent dialogue” with all groups in Burma, German diplomats are in reality helping the generals undermine Suu Kyi’s legitimacy as the opposition leader. That is very different from what German Chancellor Angela Merkel did when she singled out Suu Kyi and talked with her by phone.

If Germany wants to be right in its intention to talk with “all groups,” then they should be a bit more cautious in defining who “all” is. With their experiences with the Stasi in East Germany, they should know that representation in authoritarian and totalitarian societies is a tricky issue. Germans and Europeans should not let the Burmese military define with whom they should talk and with whom they are not allowed to talk. The ruling party and the opposition parties in the “legal fold,” and the civil society players, both local and international, that have been allowed to operate in the country, simply do not represent the full spectrum of political views in Burma.

If German diplomats want to enter into an intelligent dialogue with all groups in Burmese society, then they should talk, for example, with the families of Min Ko Naing, Nilar Thein, U Gambira and other political prisoners. Such talks could have taken place at the German Embassy in Rangoon during the visit by the federal commissioner for human rights policy. In addition, German diplomats should talk with Kachin, Karen, Shan and other ethnic representatives—not just those who have been allowed into Parliament, but also those who have been barred from even competing. That would constitute a real “dialogue with all groups.” After meeting with them, Loening would probably have been a bit less hopeful but a bit better prepared to lead an intelligent dialogue with the Burmese government.

Let me conclude that I agree with Loening that sanctions should not be a self-serving instrument, but that they need to be “tuned.” If the Burmese government is serious about the advertised change and really wants sanctions to be lifted so that a flow of investment can begin to reduce poverty, then it has all the tools it needs to achieve this goal. All it needs to do is release political prisoners and take the first steps toward a genuine national dialogue that includes the ethnic and political opposition groups. By doing so, the Burmese government can achieve its goal of lifting sanctions within less than six months.

Suzanne Rott is a Burma observer based in Thailand.

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NLD confirms Suu Kyi to visit Bagan on personal pilgrimage
Friday, 01 July 2011 18:38 Phanida Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The National League for Democracy (NLD) General-Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi will make a four-day pilgrimage to Bagan on Monday, NLD central executive committee member Han Tha Myint has confirmed.He said the trip is a personal visit and that she has applied for leave from NLD affairs. Bagan is the site of large historical temple complex that is revered in Burma.The trip will be her first outside of Rangoon since she was released from house arrest. At least 10 people will accompany her to provide security, according to the NLD.The NLD said that she would not meet with NLD members in Bagan, but declined to provide any more details. She will take a flight from Rangoon to Nyaung Oo and will go to Bagan by car.“Her pilgrimage to Bagan will take four days, I think. She will be on leave till next Friday,” Han Tha Myint said.

Recently, Burma’s Home Affairs Ministry sent the NLD a letter warning it not to conduct political activities.

Bagan is an ancient city located on the Irrawaddy River in the Mandalay Region. It was the capital of several ancient Burmese kingdoms. Most of the temples and buildings were built from the 11th to 13th centuries.

On other issues, Mizzima asked Win Htein whether Suu Kyi had promised the authorities not to meet with foreign senior leaders or not. In response to Mizzima’s question, Win Htein said that Suu Kyi did not make any such agreement with the junta. The issue recently made some news in the Indian media.

“She meets with foreign diplomats nearly every week. The news (issued by a section of the Indian media) was not true,” Win Htein said.

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Burma issues discussed in democracy forum in Lithuania
Friday, 01 July 2011 11:55 Mizzima News

(Interview ) – Khin Ohn Mar, one of the exiled- based Burmese democracy leaders, took part in a “Community of Democracies” meeting in Lithuania on Thursday. Civil society representatives were invited under a special programme sponsored by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mizzima interviewed Khin Ohn Mar on the Burmese issues she will discuss at the conference.Question: How did this international meeting come about?Answer: This meeting has been held for 11 years. They call the meeting “Community of Democracies.” Governments of developed democratic countries organized the meeting. The foreign ministers and ministers meet annually to promote democracies around the world and to consolidate and uplift democracies.At the same time, the representatives of civil societies come here and hold their meetings back to back with the main meeting. Starting last year, some ministers, especially Hillary Clinton, organized meetings with civil society groups to seek advice from them for enhancing and developing democracy.Ten representatives from civil societies will meet with Hillary Clinton and the foreign minister of the host country for about an hour. Other representatives from various civil societies and the media will also attend the meeting.Q: What is this ‘Community of Democracies’ organization?

A: ‘Community of Democracies’ consists of real democratic countries. In the UN, there are despotic countries. The despotic countries in the UN become a hurdle and create obstacles in some cases for developing democracy in the world. So this democratic community was formed with developed democratic countries like the US and many other democratic Western countries plus some democratic countries from Asia such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Mongolia. We can say this organization is an exclusive group of democratic governments working for democracy.

Q: Which Asian countries are included in the meeting this year?

A: The civil society groups here are from countries that are still struggling for democracy and from underdeveloped democracies, especially countries run by military dictators such as Burma, Congo, Somalia and Uganda. The people trying to restore democracy in these undemocratic despotic countries are invited to allow them to present their country’s issues at the meeting. There are representatives from Cambodia, Burma, Malaysia, India and some other Asian countries here.

Q: What will you present here?

A: There will be two parts. I will focus on the post-election situation in our country. I will say that generally speaking the situation in the country has worsened in the post-election period. They broke the cease-fire agreement reached with ethnic armed groups and they launched military offensives against them. And then I will focus on the growing human rights violations and the current situation in Kachin State after the outbreak of war recently. During this war, 18 young Kachin girls were raped and four of them were killed.

On the other hand, I will mention the warning issued by the newly elected government to the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, challenging its status and its activities. Finally, I will talk about the more than 2,000 political prisoners who are still languishing in prisons across the country.

Q: What do you expect will result from this meeting?

A: We will get direct exposure with foreign leaders. These leaders might be familiar with our countries but they might not know every issue. I expect concrete action from them as the situation in our country has worsened and deteriorated day by day. I will urge them to support a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on gross human right violations in Burma. This action should be led by the US and undertaken as soon as possible. We can urge prompt action from these leaders at this face-to-face meeting.

Q: Hillary Clinton is a world leader who encourages women and speaks up on women’s issues. Will you present women’s issues at this meeting?

A: The army commits these crimes of violence against women. Only if the UN can intervene and take action against these human rights abuses, can we stop the violations. Recently, Aung San Suu Kyi replied in a letter to the home ministry, responding to their warning letter. Daw Suu is going on a tour in the country. We have to worry about her security. I want the US secretary of state to do as much as she can to protect pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi and to try to prevent her from being attacked. I hope to see the US put a priority on Burma issues in its foreign policy.

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No one obeys gov’t order to hand over weapons in Mon State
Friday, 01 July 2011 19:37 Kun Chan

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Although Burmese authorities in some townships in Mon State have ordered members of cease-fire groups to turn in their weapons to police stations or Military Affairs Security (MAS) offices no later than Friday, no one has complied with the order, according to a source close to a MAS office.Under orders from the Southeast Command, authorities in Thanbyuzayat Township on Tuesday announced the order via loudspeakers and posted notices in public locations. Authorities in Mudon and Kyaikmayaw Township also posted notices about the order.“In Thanbyuzayat, no one handed over weapons.  The same in Mudon and Kyaikmayaw according to our inquires,” the source in Thanbyuzayat told Mizzima.When Mizzima contacted the MAS office in Thanbyuzayat, an official said it was true that the order was issued. But, he refused to provide any more details.This week the area has experienced bombings and hijackings. On Wednesday, at about 12:30 p.m. a bomb exploded in the compound of the Township Administrative office in Thanbyuzayat. There were no casualties.At about 9 a.m., gunmen set two passenger buses on fire on the Ye-Thanbyuzayat Road near Thayaaye Village, located about 15 miles south of Ye. They took six drivers and conductors hostage.

New Mon State Party foreign affairs official Naing Han Tha Paing Khine denied that his group had anything to do with the violence. He said some unidentified group unhappy about the order to hand over their weapons might have committed the acts.

The Mon Peace and Defense Front (MPDF), the Karen Peace Force, some members of the New Mon State Party and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army all have activities in villages in the townships where the authorities have ordered weapons to be turned in.

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DVB News – German weapons firm in Burma capital
By JOSEPH ALLCHIN
Published: 1 July 2011The managing director of German weapons’ manufacturer Fritz Werner this week met with senior Burmese government figures, including those on EU sanctions lists, in Naypyidaw for what state media billed as “mutual” cooperation on ports and airports.Joerg Gabelmann reportedly held talks with a range of officials, including Finance Minister Major General Hla Tun and Transport Minister Colonel Nyan Tun Aung, both of whom are blacklisted by the EU. The New Light of Myanmar said that it was during talks with Nyan Tun Aung that the two discussed shipping and flight infrastructure.When asked about the meetings, Maria Groybermann from Fritz Werner’s office in Essen, Germany, told DVB that “we don’t usually comment on negotiations with our clients”.The Fritz Werner website bills the company as a “leader in the field of ammunition manufacturing technology”. It was the first foreign company to create a joint venture with the Burmese state in the 1984 formation of Myanma Fritz Werner Co. Ltd. At the time they denied that the company had an arms orientation, while according to AP, the move was “welcomed by local observers and Western diplomats as a good start toward revitalising Burma’s sagging economy.”Four years later and the powerful HK G3 (Heckler and Koch) assault rifle, purchased by the Burmese army through Fritz Werner, was seen being used by soldiers on thousands of students taking part in the 1988 uprising in Rangoon. A variation of the same gun, developed in a Fritz Werner-run plant, is also thought to have killed Japanese photographer Kenji Nagai in the September 2007 uprising.

In a recent interview with the Thailand-based Irrawaddy magazine, Germany’s ambassador to Burma, Julius Georg Luy, stated: “To my best knowledge, the company Fritz Werner has no arms-related business in Myanmar [Burma]”.

The company’s website however makes no reference to ports or airports, despite the purported focus of Gabelmann’s discussions this week.

The company has a long and ignominious history in Burma and beyond. Its first operations in Burma began in 1957, shortly after it was nationalized; the war years had been good for Fritz Werner, with Hitler creating a massive demand for their services, but post-1945 the company was left with little domestic business.

An April 1992 article in Jane’s Intelligence Review claimed the company had been responsible for helping the now-embattled Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, with his 1,000-kilometre-ranged Al Fatah missile project. Although they quote only “their sources”, the article notes that the German government impounded one of Fritz Werner’s ships.

What may also pertinent to Burma, given recent concerns, is an apparent expertise in the delivery of chemical weapons. The Christian Science Monitor in 1988 suggested the US government was concerned that Fritz Werner was assisting in the sale of ammunition for carrying chemical weapons to Iraq. The 1988 edition of the magazine also said that “intelligence reaching Washington suggests it has played an important role in building Burma’s chemical-weapons capability.”

Analysts note that the US defence attaché has inspected Fritz Werner facilities in Burma and “found nothing” but cautioned that the supply of dual-use machine tools or casing often hid a trail, as plausible deniability may exist for the items’ use. This allegedly included the import of “lip stick” casing that never held lipstick.

Fritz Werner developed a strong relationship with former Burmese dictator Ne Win who would regularly visit Germany, with the company footing the bill. So regular were his visits that one analyst even suggested that a small Burmese pagoda had been built beside one of the company’s German facilities.

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DVB News – Suu Kyi on China, war and peace
Published: 1 July 2011Fighting has engulfed parts of Kachin state in northern Burma for nearly four weeks, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi tells DVB of her sadness that fellow countrymen continue to turn against one another, and urges China to engage in mediation in order to bring about an end to the conflict.On peace in Kachin state“As far as I understand, although the government is saying everything is peaceful now, the Kachin group is saying there is still fighting at intervals. This is a matter that shouldn’t occur when looking to shape a united and safe union. Under these circumstances, we should strive harder for national reconciliation – some see this as a hindrance for the reconciliation effort but I believe that we should strive more. These circumstances in a way are reminding us that the country will continue to face various problems if we cannot achieve national reconciliation.“Understanding is a necessary component to make peace between any parties; there should be a mutual understanding. And to have understanding, one should be open-minded and cannot think only about what one wishes but also try to learn what others want. The majority of the people in our country want peace – none of us want these fights going on.Regardless of wherever a fight takes place – in Kachin state, Shan state, Mon state or Karen state – there will be concern among all ethnic nationalities in the country, Arakan, Chin or Burman. They will feel unhappy about it because we are all the same people living in the same country, living on the same land drinking the same water. So in order to make peace, the first step is to have the will to do so.”

On China

“I think the Chinese government should do what they can to help while having respect for Burmese people’s wishes peace because we are neighbours just across a fence – if there is no peace and amiability on one side, it is inevitable the neighbours will also feel the impact. I heard that some refugees fled into China when the fighting broke out. So I assume wise people such as the Chinese leaders will understand that instability in their neighbouring country will also impact on their country. So I think they should work together to make an effort to bring peace to Burma based on an understanding.”

On refugees

“There are two things I would like to say regarding refugees of the war. One is for China to treat the refugees, who fled there due to fighting between Kachin forces and the Burmese Army, with sympathy and understand that they didn’t want to leave their homes and native villages or towns but had no other choice. The only thing refugees can carry when they run is suffering, so they needed to be treated with sympathy and helped as one is capable of.

“I also have a message for the refugees: do not give up your hope – we will continue to work to bring those home who were forced to leave this country against their own will. There is no one who doesn’t understand the situation of the refugees and the suffering they bear. People in this country and the whole world know and there are a lot of people willing to help. So please don’t give up hope but develop your courage. Be thankful to people and countries who accepted you and please don’t forget that we are trying to build a country where all ethnic groups in live in safety and freedom.”

On soldiers

“In my opinion, no person would want to fight other people. Naturally aggressive people are rare. I don’t see how both the Burmese and the Kachin soldiers are happy to go to war – you could die or become disabled in a war and that would also cause your family to suffer. So who would want to do such kind of job?

“Also, we are not fighting against any foreign invaders – both the Kachin and the Burmese soldiers are children of our Union, a family in a way. I don’t think it will be comfortable for anyone to fight and kill your own family members. I want soldiers from both sides to keep in mind that we are all people of this country and although we are fighting with each other under various circumstances and contributing factors, please don’t forget that at the end of the day we will have to join hands again like brothers. Restrain yourself from holding grudges against each other and just try as hard as you can to prevent such things from happening in the future.”

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DVB News – Mystery surrounds China border photo
By FRANCIS WADE
Published: 1 July 2011An image released this week from the Shan state town of Muse on the China border has triggered concern after rumours circulated that the horde of young men photographed standing outside an immigration office were plain-clothed Burmese soldiers crossing into China.No independent identification of the 80 or so young men can be made, and speculation surrounding their presence at the busy checkpoint connecting Shan state with the southern Chinese province of Yunnan has varied.Some rumours suggest the group is being deployed along the Chinese side of the border to attack the insurgent Kachin Independence Army (KIA) from behind, but these carry little weight – the chances of China allowing Burma to launch assaults from its soil are highly unlikely, while there is no hard evidence that the men are active troops.A more credible explanation comes from the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), which believes they may be linked to a delivery of around 100 military trucks sold to the Burmese army by a China-based Japanese firm. Why the men would be sent to the Chinese border town of Ruili to collect the vehicles however remains unclear.“The arrival of both military trucks and troops has fuelled fear among the populace whether the war with the KIA may spread to the area, according to sources,” SHAN said in an article yesterday.

The Burmese army has been battling the KIA in several areas of Kachin state, which borders Shan state to the west. Troop deployments to the Bhamo district, home to several KIA bases, have increased over the past month, in particular close to lucrative China-backed hydropower sites that the Burmese army has been looking to secure.

China’s role in the conflict has attracted widespread interest, given that fighting began shortly after a top-level meeting between respective government officials. Some analysts have suggested that China may have urged the Burmese government to clear areas around these energy projects of insurgent activity.

A source in Laiza, the headquarters of the KIA, told DVB that Kachin officials had questioned Yunnan authorities about the group of men. Intelligence agents in Yunnan responded that no known soldiers would be allowed to cross into China.

How far Beijing will go to see the shared border free of ethnic armies, who often capitalise on the widespread public resentment of major infrastructural projects, remains to be seen.

It is known to be watching nervously the stability of the lengthy shared border, and is rumoured to have warned households not to shelter any Kachin fleeing the fighting, likely in order to scupper any chances of a pull-factor for more refugees.

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DVB News – Shan upheaval as gas attack fears spread
Published: 1 July 2011Locals in the Mongshu region of southern Shan state have been advised to leave their homes as rumours spread that the Burmese army will use chemical weapons on Shan insurgents based nearby.The warning came from the Shan State Army, which has been fighting government troops since March around Mongshu and Hsipaw. On 3 June, Shan soldiers reported that shells fired by the Burmese army at the 7-Mile base near Mongshu contained a substance that knocked some unconscious and gave others breathing problems and nausea.Sources told DVB that since the warning went out earlier this week, the population of the SSA’s Wanhai base in Mongshu had all but left.“We ordered civilians and workers in our region to relocate when we obtained information that the Burmese army will use chemicals,” said SSA communications official, Colonel Perng Fa. “It would be very harmful to them so we told them to move to a safe location as a precaution.”Although use of chemical-laced shells in the 3 June assault cannot be independently verified, the symptoms described mirror reports of alleged chemical weapons use elsewhere in Burma. A 2005 report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide found circumstantial evidence that the Burmese army had fired mustard gas shells at Karenni Army troops, leaving them vomiting and unable to walk.

Similarly the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) said that in both 1992 and 1995 during major offensives against the Karen National Union (KNU), “many [Karen] soldiers… spoke of suffering from ‘dizziness, nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness’ after inhaling the vapours emitted from shells”.

Then in September 2009, the Kachin News Group (KNG) quoted army sources as saying that “mortars laced with chemical ingredients” were being supplied to Burmese battalions in Shan and Kachin state.

Close to 100 battles have erupted between Burmese troops and the SSA since its northern faction in March ended a ceasefire with the government. The first clash followed the SSA’s refusal to become a Naypyidaw-controlled Border Guard Force.

Similar refusals have triggered heavy fighting in Kachin state and Karen state in recent months.

Although the Burmese government signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, requiring states to destroy all chemical weapons by 2012, it has so far refused to ratify it. US officials have in the past identified Burma as a “probable” chemical weapons possessor.

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Editor - The Myanmar Gazette || First Amendment – Religion and Expression - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.