Asian Correspondent – Amid armed conflict in Kachin state, China speeding up the dam in Burma
AP – WikiLeaks reveals all, media groups criticize move
CNN – Index: Which countries are perceived to be the most corrupt?
The Diplomat – Burma’s Leadership Tries Plan B
The Age – Dictators versus dollars
The Nation – Music to calm the savage diplomatic beast? US band to visit Burma
Whidbey News Times – Burmese youth drowns at Cranberry Lake
AsiaNews.it – Russia’s Gazprom moving into Myanmar
Malaysia Today – The sad saga of Chin refugees in Malaysia
The Malaysian Insider – Refugees timourous from police shakedowns, US cable claims
Your Oil and Gas News (press release) – Myanmar Oil Markets 2011
New Internationalist – Stripping Burma bare
The Huffington Post – ASEAN, the EU and the End of Westphalia
The Irrawaddy – Bullies Across Borders?
The Irrawaddy – What Is the EU Waiting For In Burma?
The Irrawaddy – ‘Save The Irrawaddy’ Campaign Gains Momentum
Mizzima News – Burmese Home Ministry bans talks on peace
Mizzima News – Fever spreads through children living in Karenni refugee camp
Mizzima News – More working journalists named to Burmese National Press Award committee
DVB News – Parliament approves ‘peace committee’
DVB News – No political forum planned: advisor
DVB News – Crimes against the Karen must end
Asian Correspondent – Amid armed conflict in Kachin state, China speeding up the dam in Burma
By Zin Linn Sep 02, 2011 8:17PM UTC

Today state-owned New Light of Myanmar newspaper accused KIO/KIA of forcibly recruiting villagers in Dawphonyan Sub-Township into their armed forces.It said that KIO/KIA forced local people to join them, and otherwise they are not allowed to live in the villages. The ethnic armed group proclaims that one man from each household in lower Tarsai Village, upper Tarsai Village, Teinmakyaing Village and Mongma Village in Dawphonyan Sub-Township must join KIO/KIA.

Such act of KIO/KIA shows that they prove a total disregard for the wishes of the local people wishing for peace and undermined the stability of Kachin State, and security and socio-economy of the rural people, the government media said.

However, Salang Kaba Lar Nan, Joint General Secretary-2 of the KIO, dismissed the government newspaper’s accusation as baseless since those villages are under the government’s administration. Moreover, members of the KIO/KIA join up the group at their will, he said.

Meanwhile, China is speeding up the construction of the Irrawaddy dam although the armed conflict still going on in Kachin State, quoting an urgent August-31-dated statement released by the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), the Kachin News Group said.

The Myitsone dam is being constructed by workers of the state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) and the Burma-Asia World Company, plus 700 additional construction workers from the Chinese state-owned Sino-hydro Corporation, Ms. Ah Nan, spokesperson for the KDNG said.

In October 2009, the Thailand-based Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) published a report – “Resisting the flood” – highlighting the implementation of the Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River. The report demanded to stop the project sponsored by the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI), the main investor and contractor.

The dam project creates unwelcome impacts like social, environmental, livelihood, cultural and security problems for tens of thousands of people around the dam location and downstream of the dam. The report states that more than 15,000 people in 60 villages around the dam sites are being forcibly relocated without proper resettlement plans being drawn up by the Burmese military regime. They lost their means of livelihood such as farming, fishing and collection of non-timber forest products.

Besides, over 150,000 people in Kachin’s capital Myitkyina, 27 miles downstream of the dam, will have to live under the constant threat of floods from the dam if there is an earthquake. The dam is less than 100 kilometers from a major fault line in an earthquake-prone area, warned the KDNG report.

More Chinese construction machinery and materials are being transported to the Myitsone Dam site by 12-wheel trucks on the Myitkyina-Kambaiti Road, referring local eyewitnesses of border town Kambaiti, KNG reported.

After a new military conflict started between the Burmese Army and the KIA in June, in Kachin State, the KIA post along the Myitkyina-Kambaiti route banned trucks loaded with construction materials and equipment, according to truck drivers on that road. The KIA also damaged the key bridges on the road using mines. Part of the Stilwell Road (also called Ledo) was reconstructed in 2006, at a cost of 97 million Yuan (US$15.2) by Chinese companies from Yunnan province.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, sent an open letter to Chinese President, Hu Jintao, in March, urging a halt to the Irrawaddy Myitson Dam construction because it will lead civil war in the country.

According to the KDNG statement, the Chinese communist government has refused the KIO request.

With the help of the KDNG, Kachin ethnic people around the world have protested by sending an appeal letter with many signatures via the Chinese Embassies in five cities such as Bangkok, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Wellington addressed to Premier Wen Jiabao. They made a fervent appeal in March 2010 to stop the Myitsone Hydropower project in Kachin State.

The 500 foot dam has been under construction at the confluence (Myitsone) of the Mali Hka River and N’Mai Hka River, 27 miles north of the Kachin capital, Myitkyina, beginning in December, 2009, and it will cost 3.6 billion dollars.

Most of the 6000 MW of electricity produced will be sold to China.

In a statement issued on 11 August, Burma’s Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said the dam endangers the flow of the Irrawaddy River, which she described as “the most significant geographical feature of the country.”

“We believe that, taking into account the interests of both countries, both governments would hope to avoid consequences which might jeopardize lives and homes,” Suu Kyi emphasized. “To safeguard the Irrawaddy is to save from harm our economy and our environment, as well as to protect our cultural heritage,” she added.

WikiLeaks reveals all, media groups criticize move
WikiLeaks publishes all its US State Department cables; former media partners attack the move
Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press, On Friday September 2, 2011, 11:00 am EDT

LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks disclosed its entire archive of U.S. State Department cables Friday, much if not all of it uncensored — a move that drew stinging condemnation from major newspapers which in the past collaborated with the anti-secrecy group’s efforts to expose corruption and double-dealing.Many media outlets, including The Associated Press, previously had access to all or part of the uncensored tome. But WikiLeaks’ decision to post the 251,287 cables on its website makes potentially sensitive diplomatic sources available to anyone, anywhere at the stroke of a key. American officials have warned that the disclosures could jeopardize vulnerable people such as opposition figures or human rights campaigners.

A joint statement published on the Guardian’s website said that the British publication and its international counterparts — The New York Times, France’s Le Monde, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Spain’s El Pais — “deplore the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted State Department cables, which may put sources at risk.”

Previously, international media outlets — and WikiLeaks itself — had redacted the names of potentially vulnerable sources, although the standard has varied and some experts warned that even people whose names had been kept out of the cables were still at risk.

But now many, and possibly even all, of the cables posted to the WikiLeaks website carried unredacted names, making it easy to identify dissidents in authoritarian countries such as Russia, China or Myanmar.

WikiLeaks staff members have not returned repeated requests for comment sent in the past two days. But in a series of messages on Twitter, the group seemed to suggest that it had no choice but to publish the archive because copies of the document were already circulating online following a security breach.

WikiLeaks has blamed the Guardian for the blunder, pointing out that a sensitive password used to decrypt the files was published in a book put out by David Leigh, one of the paper’s investigative reporters and a collaborator-turned-critic of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

But the Guardian, Leigh and others have rejected the claim. Although the password was in fact published in Leigh’s book about seven months ago, Guardian journalists have suggested that the real problem was that WikiLeaks posted the encrypted file to the Web by accident and that Assange never bothered to change the password needed to unlock it.
In their statement, the Guardian’s international partners lined up to slam the 40-year-old former computer hacker.

“We cannot defend the needless publication of the complete data — indeed, we are united in condemning it,” the statement read. It added: “The decision to publish by Julian Assange was his, and his alone.”

The media organizations’ rejection is a further blow to WikiLeaks, whose site is under financial embargo and whose leader remains under virtual house arrest in an English country mansion pending extradition proceedings to Sweden on unrelated sexual assault allegations.

It’s also a sign of the borderless online whistleblower’s increasing estrangement from traditional media outlets. Assange and his supporters have long feuded with the Guardian and The New York Times, and in a recent statement the group noted that other Western media organizations had “slowed their rate of publishing” stories derived from the cables.

As a result, the anti-secrecy site said it would increasingly turn to “crowdsourcing” — that is, relying on Internet users to sift through its leaked documents and flag important material.

It’s a relatively new tactic for the group, which has in the past relied on mainstream partners to organize and promote its spectacular leaks of classified information — including U.S. intelligence documents detailing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whether such collaborations will continue is unclear.

Amid the latest controversy, the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said it had temporarily suspended its WikiLeaks “mirror site.” Such sites act as carbon-copies of their originals, relieving pressure due to heavy traffic and preserving data in case of attack.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders said it had “neither the technical, human or financial resources to check each cable” for information that could harm innocent people and thus “has to play safe.”

The U.S. State Department has also condemned the latest release.

Index: Which countries are perceived to be the most corrupt?
By Kyle Almond, CNN
September 2, 2011 7:54 a.m. EDT

Country/territory    Score    Surveys used    Standard deviation
Somalia                    1.1            3                        0.3
Afghanistan              1.4            4                        0.3
Myanmar                   1.4           3                        0.5
Iraq                            1.5            3                        0.4
Sudan                       1.6            5                        0.4
Turkmenistan           1.6            3                        0.2
Uzbekistan               1.6            6                        0.2
Chad                         1.7            6                        0.2
Burundi                     1.8            6                        0.3
Angola                      1.9            6                        0.2Editor’s Note: Each Friday, CNN will examine statistics or world rankings to show how countries and territories compare with one another. Who’s the best? Who’s the worst? And where does the United States fit in? You’ll find those answers in our Country Comparisons series.

(CNN) — Somalia, Myanmar and Afghanistan have the lowest scores on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures how people in 178 countries and territories view corruption in their public sectors.

On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being “very clean” and 0 being “highly corrupt,” all three countries score below 1.5. Somalia is the lowest at 1.1, while Myanmar and Afghanistan are tied for second at 1.4.

At the other end of the list are Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore, which score the highest at 9.3.

The United States, with a score of 7.1, is among the countries viewed as least corrupt. It’s tied for 22nd overall with Belgium. But while the U.S. is well ahead of neighbor Mexico (3.1), it seems to have some work to do to catch Canada (8.9).

The latest scores were drawn from 13 surveys and assessments published between January 2009 and September 2010 by “independent and reputable institutions,” according to Transparency International. It defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.

Transparency International is a nongovernmental organization headquartered in Berlin. It acknowledges that corruption, by nature, is often hidden and therefore difficult to quantify, but it says it has found people’s perceptions to be a reliable estimate over the long term.

Some other noteworthy scores from the index:

** Because of activist Anna Hazare and his recent hunger strike, corruption has been brought to the forefront in India.

The country scored a 3.3 on the most recent index, putting it among the countries viewed as most corrupt.

** Libya (2.2) and Syria (2.5), were also near the top of the perceived corruption list, something that might not be a surprise considering the recent unrest there. Yemen also scored a 2.2.

Egypt (3.1) and Tunisia (4.3) scored better, but not by much. Again, it’s important to point out that these surveys were conducted well before these two countries’ longtime leaders were ousted.

The Diplomat – Burma’s Leadership Tries Plan B
August 31, 2011
By Baroness Glenys Kinnock

Desperate for international legitimacy, Burma’s new president has been keen to give the impression of change in the country. ASEAN shouldn’t be fooled.In May, I wrote in The Diplomat how Burma’s new dictator had experienced a tough start to his presidency. Rigged elections held last November, and then the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, were part of a plan by the dictatorship to gain acceptance by the international community. When Burma’s new parliament opened and Thein Sein made a grand speech promising change, he was undoubtedly hoping that his government would finally gain the legitimacy it craves.

But things didn’t go according to planned. First, the United States, the European Union, and Canada refused to relax economic sanctions. Then came the blow that must have hurt most of all: the Association for Southeast Asian Nations delayed a decision on whether Burma could assume chairmanship of the organisation when its turn comes in 2014.

Now Thein Sein is back with Plan B, a new charm offensive designed to create the impression of change, while so far not making any actual changes at all. A flurry of new initiatives took place over the summer. Talks were held with Aung San Suu Kyi, first with Aung Kyi, a specially assigned liaison minister, and then with President Thein Sein himself. Slogans attacking exiled media organisations were dropped from state-owned newspapers, Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to travel outside Rangoon, political exiles were told they could return home, and there was an offer of a ceasefire to armed ethnic political groups.

Then, last week, the UN Special Rapporteur was allowed back into Burma, after effectively being banned after calling for the United Nations to establish a commission of inquiry into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. In a masterstroke, he was taken to the new parliament, a move seen by many as conferring legitimacy on that powerless rubber stamp affront to democracy.

These series of initiatives have generated great excitement in diplomatic circles and in the media. But if one goes through them one by one, two extraordinary things stand out. First, not one of these initiatives is substantive, and, second, not one of them is even new.

Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s democracy movement have identified three top priorities for change: the release of political prisoners, a nationwide ceasefire and genuine dialogue. Despite all the recent initiatives, and all the positive attention they’ve received, not one political prisoner has been released, and indeed two more were sentenced last week. Thein Sein’s government has been breaking ceasefire agreements, not making new ones, and there have been talks but still no dialogue process.

For those of us who have followed Burma for many years, there’s also an eerie sense of déjà vu. Thein Sein hasn’t taken any steps that his predecessors Than Shwe or Ne Win hadn’t already taken. They didn’t lead to change then, and they should be treated with scepticism now. The only thing that is new is that these initiatives have come so close together.

This haste could be explained by Thein Sein’s desperate desire to win the ASEAN chairmanship. Plan B appears to be presenting the impression of change, without doing anything at all different.

In May, I argued that ASEAN could use the chairmanship as an opportunity to force Thein Sein to make small steps toward real reform. That opportunity is still there today. ASEAN didn’t accept the elections and release of Aung San Suu Kyi as substantive change and it shouldn’t accept this charm offensive as substantive change either.

ASEAN must hold its ground and force Thein Sein to resort to Plan C, namely actual substantive steps, such as the release of political prisoners. ASEAN can offer Thein Sein what he wants, and that’s far too much leverage to be given away cheaply.

Baroness Glenys Kinnock is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma, in the British Parliament. She is a former minister in the British Foreign Office and a former MEP.

The Age – Dictators versus dollars
September 3, 2011

There’s a softening stance on visitors to Burma since the release of the democracy leader, writes Steve Meacham.Should you go to Burma? Is it unethical for tourists to spend money visiting a country run by a military dictatorship with an appalling human rights record?

Or is the greater good served not by boycotts or isolation but the constant breeze of outsiders inevitably bringing change over time?

That’s the dilemma travellers have faced since the 1990 elections, won by the National League for Democracy, but overturned by the military junta – resulting in the house arrest of the league’s figurehead, Aung San Suu Kyi.

With her long-delayed release on November 13 last year, the Nobel Peace Prize winner relaxed her stance on foreign tourism. While Suu Kyi hasn’t embraced it, she seemed to endorse the arrival of overseas visitors provided they did not swell the coffers of the ruling generals.

As the campaign coordinator for the Sydney-based protest group Campaign Burma Australia, Zetty Brake, puts it: “Last year the NLD’s position shifted from ‘Don’t visit Burma’ to ‘It’s OK for small independent groups to come provided they engage with the local people’.”

Peregrine Adventures and budget twin Gecko’s Adventures both ran tours to Burma throughout the 15-year boycott. The Asia destination manager for Peregrine, Stuart Lyall, says Suu Kyi’s change of heart has led to a 25 per cent increase in international tourism to Burma in the past year.

Peregrine and Gecko’s have always worked with the same husband-and-wife tour company in Rangoon, Lyall says. Group size is kept to about 15 and government- aligned businesses are avoided, although there’s no alternative to the government-owned railway. “We only use privately-owned hotels and transport, including airlines,” Lyall says. “But we can’t avoid the 5 per cent VAT tax or the 2 per cent foreign currency tax.”

Sue Badyari is the chief executive of World Expeditions, the other major Australian operator currently taking tourists into Burma (at least one other Australian operator is expected to renew tours soon). She says Suu Kyi’s announcement in November “was a fundamental turning point”. But World Expeditions has always used “an excellent local partner” who “ensures the flow of funds to [Burma] would land in the right hands”.

“We are not saying that tourism will change things for [the people of Burma] overnight,” she says. “But, if operators structure their contracts in a way that delivers income streams for private enterprise, which provides employment and therefore benefits thousands of people and families, then we view this as a powerful and positive vehicle for change.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, Smart Traveller, advises Australians to exercise caution and be aware of the political situation. Lonely Planet has a downloadable chapter on the ethics of travelling to Burma.

Campaign Burma Australia now accepts the NLD’s partial embrace of tourism. So what does it recommend to Australian travellers? “Travel as an independent or in small groups,” Brake says.

The Nation – Music to calm the savage diplomatic beast? US band to visit Burma
Published on September 2, 2011

Rangoon – A US band is to make a rare appearance in Burma this month in the latest sign of a possible diplomatic thaw between the military-dominated country and the West, officials said Friday.Earth String is to be in Burma September 21-25, a US embassy official said without providing details.

The band’s visit, sponsored by the embassy, was seen as the latest sign of slight improvements in Burma’s relations with Western democracies after its November general election, the first in 20 years.

“I think all relations usually start with the cultural sector,” one Asian diplomat in Rangoon said. “This is a positive sign for American-Myanmar [Burmese] relations.”

“I hope it is a positive sign for American-Myanmar relations because we haven’t seen these kinds of musical bands here for sometime,” said Nay Zin Latt, a political adviser to the new government.

Whidbey News Times – Burmese youth drowns at Cranberry Lake
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
Sep 01 2011

An 18-year-old refugee from Burma drowned while swimming at a Deception Pass State Park lake Saturday afternoon, according to the Island County Coroner’s Office.Sang Cung Hnin was at Cranberry Lake with a group of friends from a Kent church group when the tragedy occurred. Hnin and his family escaped from Burma, which is officially known as the military-dominated Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and had been living in Malaysia prior to moving to Kent just two weeks ago.

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said he could find no explanation for the drowning. An autopsy revealed that Hnin was a completely healthy young man and his family members confirmed that he was a strong swimmer.

Bishop said he could only speculate that perhaps Hnin may have cramped while he was in the water.

On Saturday, Hnin and members of his church group were swimming in the deeper of two areas of the lake sectioned off for swimming. Members of the group saw Hnin raise his arms and yell for help before going under.

“There wasn’t a lot of warning. It just happened so fast,” said Jack Hartt, manager of Deception Pass State Park.

A man on the shore called 911 just after 3 p.m.

Hartt said park rangers and volunteers quickly searched for Hnin, but were unable to find him. Hartt said there was no visibility near the bottom of 10 to 12 feet of water. Park Ranger Benjamin Cooksey formed a shoulder-to-shoulder search line of park staff and volunteers; they dove down every five feet or so.

Finally, Cooksey found Hnin’s body and pulled him to shore. Bishop said 57 minutes elapsed from the 911 call to when they got him to shore. He was taken to the hospital, but it was too late.

Hnin’s official cause of death is listed as an accidental drowning.

09/02/2011 12:27
AsiaNews.it – Russia’s Gazprom moving into Myanmar
Officials from the Russian energy giant visit Naypyidaw. The stat-run company wants new partners in the East to offset its excessive reliance on the European market.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – In order to diversify its business and reduce its excessive reliance on an increasingly hostile European market, Russian energy giant Gazprom plans to conduct geological surveys in Myanmar, the Democratic Voice of Burma website reported, citing the International Oil Daily. For this purpose, representatives of the Russian state-run company went to the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw for talks with local authorities.Russia has the largest proven reserves of gas in the world, making Gazprom the largest extractor of natural gas in the world as well as the largest Russian company.

Its profits for the first quarter of this year reached a record 468 billion rubles (US$ 16.3 billion), 44 per cent higher than the same period last year, far more than experts had forecast.

Greater sales because of the interruption of Libyan supplies and rising prices domestically and in the European Union have helped the Russian company. However, only Europeans can buy Russian oil and gas because almost every Russian pipeline flows towards Europe.

In view of the European Commission’s desire to move towards greater energy independence from Moscow, Russia’s monopolistic giant is seeking new partners among individual companies that have long-term contracts (like Germany’s RWE) as well as new markets in the East, betting on China’s growing needs, which should outstrip Europe’s by 2030. At present, Beijing buys gas from its Central Asian neighbours as well as Myanmar.

The officials who visited Naypyidaw were from Gazprom’s international up stream branch, Gazprom EP International, which is registered in the Netherlands, an EU member state that is party to EU sanctions on Myanmar.

The Myanmar government is equally interested in working with the Russians because of the expertise the company can offer in terms of equipment, storage facilities, pipelines and knowhow. The Russian company can in fact conduct geological surveys and exploration that local companies cannot do.

Malaysia Today – The sad saga of Chin refugees in Malaysia
Friday, 02 September 2011
Super Admin

A leaked 2006 US diplomatic cable tells about how the police extorted money from Burmese Chin refugees in exchange for their freedom.(Free Malaysia Today) –  A leaked US diplomatic cable from 2006 has revealed the plight of the Burmese Chin refugees stranded in Malaysia and the urgency sought by the US diplomats for Washington to “settle large numbers of these refugees as quickly and smoothly as possible”.

The KL-based US diplomats also urged their government, in particular the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM), to grant additional funding to help out the Chin refugees.

“Institutional funding is needed to provide basic medical treatment and English language training for both children and working adults.

“Given our pending resettlement of thousands of Chin refugees from Malaysia, modest investments in immunizations, medical care and English language training in Malaysia’s relatively low cost environment would yield substantial benefits for both the Chin refugees and the United States,” said the US embassy cable dated Nov 20, 2006, to the State Department in Washington DC.

The cable was leaked by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and handed over to Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia Today website which published it today.

The US diplomats also stated that they would work with the relevant US government agencies and the UN’s refugee agency – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – to resettle the Chin refugees away from Malaysia quickly.

The additional funding sought by the US diplomats were also to be used for basic medical and education needs of the Chins and other refugee communities in Malaysia, stated the cable.

Camps close to Putrajaya

The cable was a result of a visit by the US embassy’s political officer to two jungle camps housing about 200 Chin refugees near the Malaysian administrative capital in Putrajaya on Nov 15, 2006.

The cable noted the physical characteristics of the camps, which were made out of shelters using wooden poles, plywood for elevated sleeping platforms, and fluttering sheets of plastic for roofing and walls.

The cable also pointed out that “a sense of devotion to Christianity pervaded each camp”.

“Each camp contained a church structure (the largest and most well-maintained structure in each camp) and all of the approximately 100 square foot dwellings viewed by political officer prominently displayed crosses or pictures of Jesus.”

The refugees at the two camps have not been visited by UNHCR representatives during at least the past two years, said the cable quoting the refugees, and as many as seven camps containing up to 1,000 Chin refugees were erected within five miles of the Prime Minister’s office in Putrajaya in 2006.

The interests of the Chin refugees in Malaysia were taken care by the Alliance of Chin Refugees (ACR) and the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC). The cable stated that CRC claimed to have about 17,400 members in Malaysia.

Police extortion

The Chin refugees had also informed the visiting US diplomat of their fear of police extortions and raids.

The diplomat stated that the police were aware of the presence of the camps.

The Malaysian Insider – Refugees timourous from police shakedowns, US cable claims
By Debra Chong
September 02, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 – As many as 1,000 unregistered Myanmar Chin refugees live in fear of police harassment in primitive jungle camps within 8km of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya, according to US diplomatic cables leaked today.The camps, located on the fringe of palm oil plantations, were set up as far back as four years ago and some are known to the police who have carried out regular raids, threatening the unregistered refugees with arrests and deportation while allegedly extorting money in exchange for letting them go.

According to the leaked cable released on Malaysia Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have been unhelpful in registering the Myanmar Chins, deeming them to be “on-emergency” cases and leaving them more vulnerable to exploitation.

The UNHCR registration provides the only form of protection to refugees, including children. Without it, they are unable to have access to legal medical care and education and risk being shipped home if caught by the authorities.

While Malaysian law forbids refugees from working in the country, many at the Putrajaya camps were employed illegally as day labourers in the palm oil plantations for RM25 a day, but were often denied even that pay for one reason or another.

The cable noted that as of July 1, 2006 only 7,805 Chin had been UNHCR-registered as “persons of concern” in Malaysia, a moderate increase from 6,566 at year-end 2005.

However, unofficial US sources in the cable put the number of Chin refugees in Malaysia much higher, at about 20,000.

“Working on the plantations for little money and uncertain payment of wages, receiving access to medical care only in some emergency situations, and facing arrest and deportation if captured by Malaysian authorities, unregistered Chin refugees living in the jungle remain among the most vulnerable and exploited refugees in Malaysia,” the cable said.

It added that one Chin told its translator: “We would rather die here than go back to Burma”; it added that the refugees “remained unaware that the United States planned to resettle thousands of Chin refugees from Malaysia”.

The lives of refugees in Malaysia have come under the spotlight since Putrajaya admitted to a human trafficking problem and signed a deal with Canberra to exchange refugees.

The first boatload of refugees held on Christmas Island were set to be shipped to Malaysia as early as next week, but the deal, known popular in Australia as the “Malaysian Solution”, has crumbled after an Australian High Court deemed it illegal two days ago.

Your Oil and Gas News (press release) – Myanmar Oil Markets 2011
Friday, Sep 02, 2011

Research and Markets has announced the addition of GlobalData ‘s new report “Myanmar Oil Markets, 2011” to their offering.This profile is the essential source for top-level energy industry data and information. The report provides an overview of each of the key sub-segments of the energy industry in Myanmar.

It details the market structure, regulatory environment, infrastructure and provides historical and forecast statistics relating to the supply/demand balance for each of the key sub-segments. It also provides information relating to the crude oil assets (oil fields, refineries and pipelines) in Myanmar.

The report compares the investment environment in Myanmar with other countries in the region. The profiles of the major companies operating in the crude oil sector in Myanmar together with the latest news and deals are also included in the report.


Historic and forecast data relating to production, consumption, imports, exports and reserves are provided for each industry sub-segment for the period 2000-2020.

Historical and forecast data and information for all the major oil fields, refineries, pipelines and storage terminals in Myanmar for the period 2000-2015.

Operator and equity details for major crude oil assets in Myanmar.

Key information relating to market regulations, key energy assets and the key companies operating in the Myanmar’s energy industry.

Information on the top companies in the Myanmar including business description, strategic analysis, and financial information.

Product and brand updates, strategy changes, R&D projects, corporate expansions and contractions and regulatory changes.

Key mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, private equity and venture capital investments, and IPOs.

Source: Business Wire

To access over 2000 of the latest oil projects from across the world visit Projects OGP for free trial today

New Internationalist – Stripping Burma bare
Published on September 2, 2011
by Francis Wade

With its lax environmental laws, Burma has become a battleground for neighbouring countries keen to get their hands on the country’s abundant natural resources. Francis Wade reports.Among the tens of thousands to have fled escalating conflict in Burma’s border regions this year were some 50 labourers working for Ital-Thai, the Bangkok-based construction giant behind what is set to become Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex. The men had been toiling on a highway connecting the Thai town of Kanchanaburi to Tavoy in southern Burma, whose strategically vital location on the western side of the isthmus shared by both countries has set the mouths of Southeast Asian governments watering.

Billions of dollars are being pumped into the venture and 250 square kilometres of land are being transformed into a city of petrochemical and gas separation plants, plastics factories and an enormous deep-sea port. Major road and rail routes will link the port to regional economies hungry for greater trade with Europe and India, particularly China, whose traditional sea passage through the Strait of Malacca and into the South China Sea is increasingly vulnerable to foreign sabotage.

Burma: a goldmine

But like the myriad other infrastructure and energy projects that scar Burma’s rivers and landscapes, huge animosity surrounds the Tavoy port. The workers who fled in late July became the first tangible sign that resistance to the project may well take on a military form, after their construction camp was hit by shelling from the rebel Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), which controls pockets of territory along Burma’s border with Thailand. Although the KNLA claimed the shelling had been intended for a Burmese army column, the head of its political wing, the Karen National Union, was explicit about the antipathy it holds towards foreign business in Burma: shortly after the incident, Zipporah Sein referred to Ital-Thai as a ‘military dictatorship-backed company’ and warned that the KNLA ‘will not take responsibility for [workers’] security.’

The absence of environmental regulations has combined with abundant natural resources to make Burma a goldmine for neighbouring countries

The absence of environmental regulations has combined with abundant natural resources to make Burma a goldmine for neighbouring countries, few of whom have demonstrated a principled response to growing evidence that conflict there is intrinsically tied to its energy capabilities, and their demands for it. Fuelling much of this is China, whose soaring energy demands have seen Burma’s rivers, topographically well-suited to hydropower, carved up by more than 40 dams, nearly all of which are financed by Bejiing. One of these, the Myitsone Dam in Kachin state in the north, will become the world’s 15th largest, flooding an area the size of New York City and displacing 15,000 people. All of the output will go to southern China’s Yunnan province, exacerbating resentment among Burmese, only 20 per cent of whom have regular access to electricity.

All-out offensives

Like the Tavoy project, the Myitsone Dam and many others like it have become focal points of the fighting that has raged in Kachin state since June, when Burmese troops attacked the Kachin Independence Army following its refusal to bow to demands to become a government-controlled border force.

China is increasingly exporting its megaprojects abroad, with Burma and its lax environmental laws making it an enticing destination

Burmese President Thein Sein is well aware that, in the face of US and EU sanctions, the future of his administration depends heavily on the economic crutch provided by sales of energy to neighbours – particularly China, but also Thailand and, increasingly, India. All-out offensives underway in the border regions are aimed at clearing them of potential saboteurs, and finally ending historic attempts by ethnic groups for autonomy.

A major byproduct of this has been the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees, the majority of whom either flee from their homes into the surrounding countryside, or cross the border into China and Thailand. At least half a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are estimated to be in eastern Burma alone, while nearly 150,000 populate the nine camps across the border in Thailand. China has also seen two major influxes in the past two years resulting directly from government efforts to eliminate rebels in Burma’s north.

A UN report in June found that Burma was the world’s fifth-highest source country for refugees, above Colombia and Sudan, where the ties that bind conflict to natural resources have been more closely analysed. Except for a handful of astute observations, most reporting on the conflict in Burma has not made this link explicit.

Shouldering the burden

The burden that Burma is being forced to shoulder is one that neighbouring countries could help carry but, through civilian resistance, are less inclined to: the Tavoy project, although dwarfing it in size, bears a strong similarity to the Maptaphut industrial complex and deep-sea port in Thailand, which independent experts claim has contributed to its home province’s unhealthy distinction as Thailand’s top cancer zone. Years of public lobbying by residents forced 76 companies to temporarily suspend operations there – two of these, the Thai state-owned PTTE oil company and Siam Cement Group, are now setting up shop in Tavoy, perhaps safe in the knowledge that popular protests there will be snuffed out.

Burmese are now joining the dots between localized human rights abuses along the border and a much larger, modern-day Great Game unfolding in Southeast Asia
Similarly China, which has had to grapple with alarming pollution rates that Beijing has admitted could significantly stunt the country’s development, is increasingly exporting its megaprojects abroad, with Burma and its lax environmental laws making it an enticing destination.

The myriad conflicts over Burma’s natural resources point to its rising status as a prized asset in a region where economic interdependence and connectivity are growing. Caught in a tug of war between China and India, both hungry for its bountiful energy capabilities and position as a geographical gateway to the developing economies lying to its east, Burma may well become something of a 21st century battleground for two of the world’s rising superpowers, both of whom are lumbered with colossal populations whose demands for power increasingly dictate the imperatives of their leaders.

The sentiment expressed by the KNLA’s Zipporah Sein suggests, however, that Burmese are now joining the dots between localized human rights abuses along the border and a much larger, modern-day Great Game unfolding in Southeast Asia; furthermore, that the technicians, surveyors and construction workers that fled July’s fighting are the new face of this quasi neo-imperialist conquest, being run by governments whose need for domestic growth is a more pressing concern than the human cost required to achieve it. Perhaps most ominously, however, the changing dynamics of the region have seen the Burmese army emerge as a de facto proxy tasked with policing the investments of neighbouring countries, whose economies are set to race ahead on the produce from these wars whilst leaving thousands, possibly millions, of Burmese struggling in their wake.

The Huffington Post – ASEAN, the EU and the End of Westphalia
Stanley Weiss
Founding Chairman, Business Executives for National Security
Posted: 9/1/11 01:49 PM ET

BALI — Set upon a blue background, the flag of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations depicts 10 yellow rice paddy stalks drawn in the middle of a red circle with a white border. The interesting thing about the banner is not merely that it represents the main colors of all ten ASEAN member state flags: Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. It is that 44 years to the day after ASEAN was founded, on August 8th — in a development that received little attention outside Asia — the flag was hoisted for the first time alongside the banners of all member states at hundreds of embassies and diplomatic missions around the world.Kicking off a year dedicated to the theme “Unity in Diversity”, ASEAN’s stirring declaration of interdependence is just the latest example of what ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan describes to me as “our drive to raise our own bargaining power from a larger base.” At a time when the European Union’s struggle to rescue free-spending members Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Greece threatens to bring the whole continent tumbling down, ASEAN is rushing headlong to create a single economic community by 2015.
But there is more at stake here than simply the joint success or failure of 10 Asian nations, whose 600 million people represent a combined gross domestic product of $1.7 trillion — making it the sixth-largest economy in the world. ASEAN’s move to integration represents a different model of regional cooperation from the EU — less rooted in democracy, more tolerant of human rights violations, and more committed to sovereignty — that may go a long way toward defining how other regions evolve in the 21st Century.

In short, ASEAN “is making the case for a new kind of regionalism,” writes David Carson, the first resident U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN.

In academic circles, both the EU and ASEAN lend themselves to a discussion of a “post-Westphalian world.” Signed in 1648, the Peace of Westphalia not only ended 80 years of war in Europe, it also created the modern state system. Westphalia established fixed territorial boundaries for countries and established the idea that citizens of a respective country were subject primarily to the laws (and actions) of their respective governments. Conversely, it also created the notion that government is sovereign to rule its people as it sees fit. While giving rise to order, Westphalia also enabled three centuries of human rights abuses.

The 20th Century chipped away at the Westphalian idea. The creation of the United Nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 represented the first global expression of rights fundamental to all human beings, challenging the Westphalian concept of sovereignty. For half a century, it was applied delicately, often through sanctions, in places like South Africa. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the international community intervened directly on behalf of humanitarian principle in Haiti and Kosovo — a thread that runs through NATO’s intervention in Libya today.

Meanwhile, the creation of a unified EU in 1993 was the moment historians began speaking of a post-Westphalian world. ASEAN is putting an Asian spin on the concept of unity. As Surin Pitsuwan tells me, “The European model is our inspiration, not our model.”

Unlike the EU, the ASEAN vision doesn’t yet include a unified currency, joint visas, or the fully free flow of labor. While ASEAN has reportedly implemented 75 percent of the blueprint it passed in 2008 to create a regional trade bloc, unlike the EU, it also remains committed to a principal of nonintervention in the affairs of members, known as the “ASEAN Way.” While the EU pulls out its collective hair trying to restructure an intransigent Greece, ASEAN still takes a hands-off approach to member state Myanmar, whose brutal authoritarianism — despite recent elections — remains a drag on ASEAN’s global image.

Yet, while Western observers condemn ASEAN over Myanmar and argue that a wobblier version of the EU will never work because it lacks central authority to enforce common rules, ASEAN supporters say sarcastically to me, “the U.S. is one to talk.”

“Authoritarian leaders and their populations here are appalled by America’s lack of discipline and massive debt,” said Yohanes Sulaiman, a lecturer at Indonesia’s National Defense University, in a recent essay. “If democracy provides nothing but economic crisis, political squabbling, and gridlock, why would anyone want it? Better to stick with the authoritarian system of China or the semi-authoritarianism of Singapore.”

It is no accident that ASEAN members have been focused on increasing trade with one other (up 31 percent in 2010), with neighboring China (up 25 percent in the first half of 2011) and with other Asian countries. As Indonesian Vice President Boediono said at a recent ASEAN meeting, “the U.S. and Europe could no longer be the main engines of growth for the world economy.”

The danger is not simply that Western investors fall behind in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. The danger is that as other regions consider similar integration — imagine a South Asian confederation of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives or a future bloc in the Middle East.

In November, President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the East Asian Summit in Bali. In his remarks, President Obama should take responsibility for America’s debt crisis and promise to be a better partner for Asia, articulate progressive benchmarks ASEAN could help Myanmar achieve by 2015 and link passage of a long-desired U.S.-ASEAN free trade agreement to those benchmarks being met.

It may not forestall the end of Westphalia- – but it could help extend Western leadership into the 21st Century.

Stanley A. Weiss is Founding Chairman of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington. The views expressed are his own.

The Irrawaddy – Bullies Across Borders?
By DAVID I. STEINBERG Thursday, September 1, 2011

The new, still fragile reform activities of the recently installed government in Burma have excited an outburst of vituperation from across international frontiers. As internal positive change is something external analysts have long sought, why is this so?Military regimes inherently bully—orders are given and are expected to be obeyed. Orthodoxy is required and diverse views are eschewed. Line up and obey. So bullies inside Burma are a distressful but expected outcome of the nature of that military- dominated government. The deeply flawed elections were, in a sense, the outcome of such bullying.

But outside Burma? Developments within the country by the new government, with its probes toward positive change, have prompted an outburst of advocacy of heightened sanctions and renewed pressures for a UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses at the very time when there is at least the possibility of reforms within the new “disciplined-flourishing democracy”. Even the possibility of positive change, still very much in process, has prompted a bullying type of orthodoxy from outside Burma by members of organizations devoted to liberty, democracy and human rights. This is quite disturbing.

Throughout the long rule of the military since 1988, voices in opposition abroad have often countered nuanced consideration of the problems of Burma with cries, reminiscent of President George W Bush, that if you are not with us you are against us. The new tone, with its more frenetic stridency, seems borne out of the fear that the internal changes at least advocated by the head of state may indeed have some positive results, thus perhaps prolonging the life of the new administration and making it more acceptable to the Western world, and threatening the sanctions regimen that had been serially imposed on Burma and its rulers. In effect, this new approach to internal change may postpone or prevent the “Arab Spring” from reaching Burma.

These attacks have become personalized against some individuals who have studied that country and who have advocated the well-being of the diverse Burmese peoples. Democracy requires diversity of views and intelligent debate over alternatives, none of which may have simple answers. Policies based on dichotomies rarely are successful. The goals of those new bullies on the policy block are indeed admirable—human rights and improved freedoms and lives—and ones that can be widely shared and with which most of us would identify. Yet their tactics undercut the very goals they seek to reach.

It is a sad, bordering tragic, condition that those of us physically, but not emotionally, removed from the Burma scene do not seem to be able to negotiate with amicable, respectful, and dignified personal relations the necessary and desirable policy differences among us that are reflective of the democracy we would like to see in that country. Dissent is essential, but so is amity.

For years, some observers of the Burmese scene have said that some of the incessantly articulated goals of the military government—national unity, sovereignty, better health, education, agriculture, etc.—are ones that could conceptually prompt widespread approval, but the means by which those goals have been approached, the tactics used to attempt to enforce them on the people, subvert the very aims toward which they purportedly work. In other words, one cannot get there from here on that route.

But what about this new stridency? Can one get to democracy, however defined in some non-adjectivally modified form, in this manner? It would seem highly unlikely. One does not question the motivation of those organizations advocating liberalization and change in Burma, nor the intent of their members, but one must question some ill-advised temperamental actions because—as across the frontier—you cannot get there from here.

David I. Steinberg is Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. His latest volume is“Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford).

The Irrawaddy – What Is the EU Waiting For In Burma?
By BENJAMIN ZAWACKI Friday, September 2, 2011

It is time the EU work to establish a UN-led Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law in Burma.Four years ago this month, the people of Burma rose up in what became known as the “Saffron Revolution,” named after the Buddhist monks who eventually led the demonstrations. While the world initially condemned the security forces’ violent crackdown that followed, several months later the Burmese authorities managed to deflect international criticism by announcing it would hold national elections and form a civilian government.

The international community, including the European Union (EU), has been distracted ever since, despite an abundance of information that Burma’s government has continued to violate human rights on a massive scale. “Wait and see”—what the government will do before the elections, how the elections will be conducted, whether the new government will make any changes—has been the prevailing and irresponsible approach.

Meanwhile, the human rights situation in Burma has gone from bad to worse, with no justice for the victims. By the time the election announcement was made, the number of political prisoners in Burma had nearly doubled from its pre-Saffron Revolution number to over 2,100—where it remains today.  Several months afterwards, the government denied, obstructed and/or confiscated international aid in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, turning the humanitarian disaster into a human rights crisis.  And a year later, authorities arrested, tried, and unlawfully extended the house arrest of opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Among the situations calling out loudest for justice and accountability is Burma’s ethnic minority regions.  Ten months before the November 2010 elections, Amnesty International released a report on the repression of ethnic minority political activists in Burma, which showed that optimism in relation to the polls was being contradicted in the ethnic minority areas.

It followed a mid-2008 publication, Crimes against humanity in eastern Burma, whose relevance has only increased since then.  The report focused on the Burmese army’s human rights violations against ethnic minority Karen civilians on a widespread and systematic basis, which amounted to crimes against humanity.  Violations included extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary detention, forced labor, confiscation of land and food and forced displacement of the civilian population on a large scale, starting in late 2005.

While this was the first time Amnesty had characterized such violations as crimes against humanity, the report’s findings were consistent with our research on the country for two decades.  The testimonies, collected in several countries since 1987, documented the very same crimes against civilians.  They were told to us not only by the Karen, but by many other ethnic minorities as well, including the Rohingya, the Karenni, the Shan and the Mon.

Likewise, accounts since mid-2008, especially since the day of Burma’s national elections last November, when hostilities were accelerated or renewed between the Burmese army
and armed groups fighting on behalf of several ethnic minorities, recall our report’s findings: serious human rights violations—some of which may amount to crimes against humanity and/or war crimes—against ethnic minority Karen, Kachin, and Shan civilians.

These include recent accounts of the army using prison convicts as porters in the fighting in Kayin (Karen) State, forcing them to act as human shields and mine-sweepers and of rape and other sexual violence, primarily in Shan State. Reliable reports indicate that the number of displaced persons there has reached 30,000, while in or near Kachin State 20,000 internally displaced persons were reported at the end of July.

We have waited for years, even decades, and seen quite enough: these violations call for accountability. However, Article 445 of Burma’s 2008 Constitution—which codifies immunity from prosecution for officials for past violations—indicates that without international action, this is most unlikely.

In October 2011, the UN special rapporteur will be presenting a report to the UN General Assembly, which will likely adopt a resolution on Burma. The EU will again lead in the drafting of this resolution.

In each of his reports or statements to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, the special rapporteur has called for greater accountability for grave international crimes in Burma or expressly recommended that the UN establish a Commission of Inquiry into such crimes.

While the question remains as to whether such a Commission would have access to Burma, a similar 1997 Commission by the International Labour Organization compensated for its denial of access partly through expert testimony, which Amnesty among others provided. Two years later, Burma passed a law prohibiting forced labor. Accountability must begin somewhere.

Moreover, accountability need not exclude increased humanitarian assistance and efforts to engage the new government.

Amnesty International welcomes the fact that 12 of the 16 nations that have publicly stated their support for a Commission of Inquiry in Burma are EU members, but regrets that neither the EU as a bloc nor several of its influential members—including Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden—have not done so.

After more than three years of “wait and see,” it is time the EU and its member states translate their concern about Burma’s human rights situation into public support for the establishment of a UN-led Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law in Burma.

Benjamin Zawacki is Amnesty International’s Burma researcher and a member of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

The Irrawaddy – ‘Save The Irrawaddy’ Campaign Gains Momentum
Friday, September 2, 2011

A petition signed by nearly 1,600 influential Burmese persons, including politicians, journalists, writers, artists and film directors, has been sent to President Thein Sein on Thursday with a campaign message titled “From Those who Wish the Irrawaddy to Flow Forever.”The signatories included: Win Tin, a prominent member of the opposition National League for Democracy; veteran journalists Sein Win and Maung Wun Tha; Kyaw Thu, the founder of the Free Funeral Services Society; writer Than Myint Aung; social activist Aung Thin; the acclaimed writer Zaw Zaw Aung; and film director Cho Tu Zal.

The campaign was organized by Myat Thu, a prominent member of the 88 Generation Students group.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, Myat Thu said, “Along with the petition we sent a letter that outlined our anxieties.”

The Irrawaddy River is considered the main artery of Burma and million sof people depend on it for their livelihoods. It has its source in Kachin State in northern Burma at the confluence of the N’mai and Mali rivers, and flows 2,170 km (1,348 mi) through many of the country’s main cities, including Myitkyina, Bhamo, Mandalay, Sagaing, Bagan, Magwe and Pyay, before emptying in the fertile Irrawaddy delta.

But today the river is faced with an unprecedented threat in the form of ongoing dam projects in Kachin State.

Burma’s previous ruling military regime and China’s state-owned Chinese Power Investment Corporation (CPI) agreed to built a megadam at Myitsone, the confluence that acts as the source of the Irrawaddy. If completed, the hydropower dam project will be the 15th largest hydroelectric power station in the world, and will cost an estimated US $3.6 billion.
The length of the dam is to be about 499 ft (152 m), and its height about 499 ft, equivalent to a 50-story building. The surface area of the reservoir is to be 295.8 sq mi (766 sq km), larger than the city state of Singapore.

Environmentalists, activists and politicians have given voice to growing concerns about the fate of this mighty river, but the government is reluctant to take action to stop construction.
Meanwhile, political parties and independent candidates have called on the Supreme Court to take action to save the Irrawaddy River.

“We send an open letter today,” said Win Cho, an independent candidate. “We are calling for an official response into the issue of the Irrawaddy River and the Myitsone dam project.”

Win Cho said other signatories included: Bauk Ja from the National Democratic Force; Soe Kyi from Thanlyin Township; Aung Myo Oo from Kyeemyindaing Township; and Min Aung from Botahtaung Township, all in Kachin State.

Burmese Home Ministry bans talks on peace
by Abbot Shwe Nya Wah
Friday, 02 September 2011 10:27
Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Two talks on peace by a popular Buddhist abbot have been banned by the Burmese Home Ministry. The talks, by Abbot Ashin Pyinnay Thiha, had been approved by the Ministry of Religion.The talks, or sermons, were to be held on Thursday and Friday at Zabuthiri Beikman, a building owned by the Religion Ministry in Mayangon Township in Rangoon.

Popularly known as Shwe Nya Wah, 46, the abbot heads the Kyimyidine Thadu Pariyatti Learning Institute where more than 900 student monks study religious education, and he is the chief executive of the Rangoon Buddha University.

“I had planned to preach on peace, on forgiving each other magnanimously and building peace through negotiations,” Ashin Pyinnay Thiha said. “On the second night, I planned to preach about people fighting each other. Fighting cannot give any benefit to anyone. Fighting can only create disasters. I planned to preach on these subjects by drawing from Buddhist scriptures. I think they cancelled the talks after learning I wanted to talk on these subjects.”

The abbot said the ministry gave no reason for its decision, but similar cancellations have occurred in the past involving people connected to opposition political forces.

The abbot’s monastery was the site of a gathering of 88-generation students, politicians and members of the literary community for a ceremony on August 23 in memory of the 8888 uprising anniversary. Aung San Suu Kyi attended the gathering.

“This was alms offered to all monks in a monastery by Buddhist devotees. This was not alms offered to an individual. They offered robes to the monks. They have no reason to object to such offerings,” the abbot said.

The abbot’s sermons enjoy widespread popularity among the people under titles such as  “Retribution of Evil Doers,” “The Power of a Devout Buddhist” and “Don’t Do Unjust Things.”

The government often bans talks by monks who it regards as critics.

The director of the exile-based Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, Aung Myo Min, said, “They will ban such ceremonies if they could create ill will or insult other religions. But this ceremony wouldn’t do that. He would have preached only on peace, harmony and good conduct of the people.”

Fever spreads through children living in Karenni refugee camp
Friday, 02 September 2011 20:57
Kun Chan 

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – More than 400 refugees—mostly children—in Karenni refugee camp in Mae Hong Song in northern Thailand have been infected by a fever with symptoms similar to dengue fever.Camp health officials said that about two-thirds of the patients are children between the ages of eight and 18, who have high temperatures, coughs and a sore throat. Officials are doing tests now to determine the exact cause of the illness.

If the disease is diagnosed as dengue fever, an infected patient must be separated from other people, the medical official said.

During August, more than 300 refugees received medical treatment at the clinic in Quarter No. 9, and more than 100 received treatment at a clinic in Quarter No. 1.

“Many children who attended school are infected with a virus. When they sneeze, the virus spreads in the air,” a medical worker told Mizzima. Medical officials said that a similar fever outbreak spread through Karenni camp No. 1 in 2009.

Also, starting two weeks ago, an eye disease has infected 102 patients in the camp, said Nga Meh, a clinic health worker.

Meanwhile, health workers distributing information about preventive measures to combat the diseases.

About 15,000 Karenni refugees who fled from the fighting in Burma between government troops and the Karenni National Progressive Party have taken refuge at Karenni camp No. 1.

There are nine refugee camps along the Thai border, including two Karenni camps. Out of more than 145,000 refugees in the camps, about 65,000 were sent to resettlement countries from 2006 to 2010.

More working journalists named to Burmese National Press Award committee
Friday, 02 September 2011 21:52
Zwe Khant

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Twelve Burmese working journalists have been added to the Burmese National Press Award committee charged with distributing national-level prizes for the best journalistic work in 2011.A committee member, Maung Wun Tha, said the awards would to given to the highest caliber work that meets the professional standards set by the committee.

“The state-run media still does not meet our standards,” he said. “They only report government activities and news that is issued by the government. We will award the prizes for the best news reporting, editorial, feature, cartoon and photograph that meet our standards,” said Maung Wun Tha, a consulting editor with Pyithu Khit (People’s Age).

The National Press Award committee now includes 32 members who have decided on the criteria and standards for the awards, which will be presented in February 2012. Maung Wun Tha said the awards committee members will apply international standards in selecting the winners.

The 12 recently appointed members include working journalists Thiha Thaw from Open News journal; Venus Journal editor-in-chief Dr. Myo Min Htike; Myo Nyunt Maung; Myanmar Post journal executive editor Than Htike Thu; Messenger Journal executive editor Thura Aung; 247 Journal editor-in-chief Myint Swe Myint; Hot News journal editor Hay Mar; Envoy Journal editor Zaw Tun Maung; 7 Day News journal editor Chan Nyein; journalist Aunt Maung; journalist Thar Ban; and cartoonist Ngwe Kyi.

The full committee has proposed 34 writers and journalists to serve as the prize-selection committee that will name the winners independently. The selection committee members’ names will be announced at a later date.

The National Press Award committee includes members of the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association, independent journalists and officials from the state Press Scrutiny Board [the censorship board].

Burma media observers say that the Information Ministry uses the state-run media as vehicles for distributing propaganda while ignoring opposing views and opinions. The state-run media includes the New Light of Myanmar (Burmese and English editions), The Mirror, the military- funded Myawaddy Daily, the municipal committee-funded Rangoon City Daily and Mandalay Yadanabon. Prior to publication, all news journals must submit their stories and photographs to the state censorship board which routinely bans information and photographs from distribution.

DVB News – Parliament approves ‘peace committee’
By Joseph Allchin
Published: 2 September 2011

Burma’s National Parlaiment or Amyotha Hluttaw approved the creation of a ‘peace committee’ to attempt to solve the country’s ongoing, and seemingly intractable ethnic conflicts. With sources claiming that opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi could be included in the commitee.The committee was approved on Wednesday but not made fully public till yesterday. The parliament has not made a final decision on who will be on the committee.

However Dr Aye Maung, chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and an MP in the National parliament made the suggestion that Aung San Suu Kyi should be included in that committee whilst discussing the formation of the peace committee, said Phone Myat Aung, an MP for the National Democratic Force (NDF) Party.

“[Dr Aye Maung] read out the summery of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s letter for peace and suggested the she and other well-respected individuals should be included in the [peace] committee,” said Phone Myint Aung.

He said military representatives in the parliament focused their discussion on a perspective that development only comes after peace.

There has been an apparent warming of relations between the government of Thein Sein and the Nobel Laureate but she will be placed in a difficult position should she be invited to participate in such an official capacity with a government who she and her party have broadly labelled illegitimate;

“Parliament just approved the principle of the formation of the peace committee, but it was not clear whether Suu Kyi will be allowed to participate in the committee or even whether Suu Kyi herself wanted to join or not,” said an MP who requested anonymity to Deutsche Press-Agentur.

Suu Kyi met Thein Sein for the first time on the 19 August at an economic forum held in the capital Naypyidaw. She appeared positive after the meeting, offering many hope that reforms and compromise were possible.

However the issue of ethnic conflict is indeed one of the biggest challenges for the government. Fighting has only increased since last year’s controversial election, with fighting breaking out with groups previously holding a cease fire with Naypyidaw, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Shan State Army (SSA).

Suu Kyi could be a shrewd choice, she is regularly labelled as the only Burman politician with any respect amongst the ethnic groups, and would offer the government virtually unimaginable kudos both inside and outside the country.

The government already sent a letter to armed ethnic groups in which it claimed they wanted to offer peace, this was however broadly rejected by members of armed ethnic groups seeing it as lacking sincerity.

“They already did it years ago, but it did not work. They still send their troops to the ethnic areas; there is still fighting every day and still human rights abuses every day. Their actions have not changed,” Zipporah Sein, General Secretary of the Karen National Union told DVB.

Indeed fighting has only increased with ethnic armed groups alleging a retinue of human rights abuses accompanying government incursions into rebel controlled territory. As a result trust will be hard sought.

DVB News – No political forum planned: advisor
Published: 2 September 2011

Dr Nay Zin Latt, a political advisor to the Burmese President, has moved to distance himself from exiled media reports that the government is planning to host a national-level political forum.Reports suggested that politicians and activists from inside and outside the country, including Aung San Suu Kyi would meet in the capital in November.

In response to a report in the exiled Irrawaddy magazine quoting him as the source, Dr Nay Zinn Latt told DVB that;

“It is not our position to comment on the national-level forum. Maybe there is a group of individuals exclusively discussing on it but how should we know it’s going to be exactly held in a next few months.”

The report suggested that because the economic forum, that saw Aung San Suu Kyi travel to Naypyidaw for the first time, was such a “media success” that a political forum was a likely next step.

The selection of government advisors raised eyebrows with strong academic credentials, Nay Zin Latt for instance has an MBA from Adam University in the United States and a degree in architecture from the Rangoon institute of technology. Most strikingly however was the appointment of U Myint who is noted for being a political moderate, with ties to Aung San Suu Kyi.

The advisors therefore represent at least a nominal opening up of the process of governance in the country, as a result they were seen as a positive step from the government of Thein Sein.

Nay Zin Latt however added that; ”My quote made it look like we are making moves ahead of the government. We are just advisors – we give advice and it is up to the president and the government to decide the procedure. This is not a matter that we can decide,” said Dr Nay Zin Latt.

“I told them [the Irrawaddy] that there will be forums on economics, health and education consecutively but that I haven’t heard about a plan for the political forum. Despite this they reported that a political forum will be held ‘in the near future’ and that’s not what I said.”

The senior government advisor is a former military man; he served as a captain with the engineer corps, which he joined in 1981. He is now active as a hotelier with his Ambo Group of Hotels of which he is the chairman. He is also the General Secretary of the Myanmar Hoteliers Association.

Nay Zin Latt cautioned that; “As we are now in a transition period, one needs to take caution in what one says and the information exchanged. It makes it hard for us to give information [to the media] when facts are exaggerated to make a popular headline news.”

Adding that; “It would be better if they can compromise and be fair with us. We all have our ethics and it would be better for long term if we can follow the ethics.”

Dr Nay Zin Latt was appointed to the political advisory committee in April, the political section is headed by propaganda specialist, Ko Ko Hlaing. Nay Zin Latt is rumoured to have tutored Information Minister Kyaw Hsan in public speaking.

DVB News – Crimes against the Karen must end
Published: 2 September 2011

The way the United Nations and most governments act, I sometimes wonder if Karen State is in Burma. Certainly they don’t treat us like we are in Burma. There is considerable irony in this. Often the Karen National Union (KNU) is accused of fighting for an independent separate state. In fact we changed our policy towards federalism as far back as 1956, and now support a federal democratic Burma.The international community seems to think we are not part of Burma. That is the only reason I can think of for why they make policy on Burma whilst ignoring what happens in Karen State.

Just look at the recent record. In 2006 the Burmese Army launched a major offensive in Karen State. They deliberately targeted Karen villages, walking miles to avoid the bases of our Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), to deliberately target civilians in this way is a war crime. But not one government said so.

They didn’t just attack villages, Burmese Army soldiers raped women, executed and tortured people. Unarmed villagers were thrown alive into their burning homes. People were beheaded and crucified. More than 80,000 people fled their homes, hiding in the jungle. The dictatorship blocked aid, babies died from disease, children went hungry. These are crimes against humanity. We cried out to the United Nations for help. It didn’t come.

Later that year, a new UN Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, went to Burma. We hoped he would persuade the generals to end the attacks and allow aid to reach our people.

But he didn’t even mention what was happening. Instead he gave a press conference praising the regime for promising to make reforms. He talked about how they had turned a new page with the international community. He said not one word about the slaughter of my people.

It was the same before, and it has been the same since. In February, 2010, a petition from 84,000 civilians in Karen State was delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The petition called on Ban Ki-moon to take action to stop the Burmese Army attacking them. It represented a desperate appeal from people who have lived in fear for their whole lives, as have their parents and grandparents before them. Karen communities worldwide also delivered copies of the petition to Presidents and Prime Ministers across the world, calling on them to also take action.

We asked them to use their influence to support Ban Ki-moon to secure a nationwide ceasefire as a top priority, leading to meaningful and inclusive dialogue to achieve genuine national reconciliation and a federal Burma. We also called on them to pressure the regime to enter into dialogue with the Karen National Union, and other ethnic political parties, together with the rest of the democracy movement in Burma.

The response? There wasn’t one. No reply.

For so many decades the Karen and other ethnic civilians of Burma have been suffering from various crimes committed by the ruling Burmese government. Every year, tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes simply because of the attacks by the Burmese Army, and tens of thousands more are used as slave labour. All this is ignored by the international community, which focuses on events in Rangoon and Naypyidaw.

The shocking behaviour of the UN Envoy back in 2006 is now being repeated on a greater scale. Attacks have increased in Karen State and Shan State, with the dictatorship breaking ceasefire agreements. Burmese Army attacks have spread to Kachin State, as well. The Burmese Army has unleashed its soldiers against civilians, driving a total of around 100,000 from their homes since November. Soldiers gang-rape and execute ethnic women, and use villagers as slave labour and human minesweepers.

Given this appalling and deteriorating situation, you would expect action to install a ceasefire, to get aid to people, and punish the regime for these horrific abuses. At the very least you would expect a grouping like the European Union to be supporting the recommendation of the UN’s own human rights expert on Burma, that a UN Commission of Inquiry be set up to investigate these abuses.

Not only has the EU not supported an Inquiry, it hasn’t even commented on the serious increase in abuses taking place. EU governments instead focus on a speech made four months ago by Thein Sein, the new President of Burma. This week, the dictatorship even got praised for not attacking Aung San Suu Kyi when she travelled out of Rangoon. The EU and UN seem happy to wait and see what the ‘new’ government does, as if there is no urgency, as if women are being not raped every day, villages burned, people used as slaves.

The Burmese Army can commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in Karen State and other ethnic states, it doesn’t seem to matter. The generals know this, which is why they carry on killing. They know all they need to do is make nice speeches in Naypyidaw, and agree to let diplomats visit now and again, they can literally get away with murder. The UN and EU ignore war crimes and crimes against humanity in Karen State, which is just the way the generals like it.

Nant Bwa Bwa Phan is the representative of the Karen National Union in the United Kingdom.


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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.