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Archive for June 18th, 2009

U.N. chief to visit Japan in June, Myanmar in July

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By The Associated Press

Thursday, June 18, 2009


U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is expected to visit Japan at the end of June with the possibility that he could continue onto Myanmar in early July, U.N. diplomatic sources said Thursday.

During Ban’s trip to Japan, which will be his third visit to the country since taking the lead at the world body, he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso and other Japanese leaders in Tokyo and discuss a broad range of issues, including North Korea, climate change and U.N. reform.

In Tokyo, Japan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Ban will visit the country from June 30 to July 2.

But the possible visit to Myanmar is “still under consideration,” though it could take place in early July, one of the sources said.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported out of Yangon Thursday that a Western diplomat was quoted as confirming that the government is ready to host Ban for a “very brief visit” early next month.

A potentially sensitive issue at the moment is the fact that pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, is currently on trial on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest after a man swam to her guarded compound uninvited and stayed two days.

The trial has sparked global protest and drawn outrage as some speculate the junta is merely using it as a means of keeping her detained through elections scheduled to take place next year.

If found guilty, she will face up to five years in jail. She has been held for more than 13 of the past 19 years since the junta refused to recognize her National League for Democracy’s landslide victory in 1990.

The High Court in Myanmar on Wednesday said it would hear the appeal for the reinstatement of two key witnesses in the ongoing trial, according to her lawyers, but no date has been fixed yet.

During his monthly press conference on June 11, the U.N. chief said that promoting democratization, including the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, has been one of his “top priorities” and that he has been engaging with Myanmar’s authorities though his special advisor, Ibrahim Gambari.

“When the time is appropriate and conditions are ripe, as I said many times, I’m ready to visit,” he said.

Earlier this week, Ban and Gambari received a petition signed by more than 670,000 people worldwide urging them to push for her release.

According to a statement issued by the Czech Republic, whose former President Vaclav Havel spent years imprisoned for his political activities and helped publicize the petition, more than 350 political prisoners have been handed out sentences of up to 104 years.

The country, formally named Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

Ban traveled to Myanmar for the first time last year in the aftermath of the devastation wrecked by the Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. He was credited with playing a key role in pressing the military regime into allowing more relief workers and supplies into the country.–061809/

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 18, 2009 at 4:48 am


with one comment

Updated: [June 19, 2009 ] :: 00:52:26


Over 4,000 ethnic Karen villagers have been forced to seek refuge in Thailand since the Burmese military and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) began their final attempt to defeat the Karen National Union (KNU) rebels, who are fighting to gain their independence.

And more refugees stream across the Thai-Burmese border every day. Meanwhile, disturbing accounts of rape and murder are adding to the reports of deprivation and terror.

Most of the refugees are from Ler Per Her IDP camp, but there are also villagers from over seven villages that have crossed the Moei River to Thailand in the face of fierce combat and mortar attacks; altogether there are over 40 villages in the conflict zone. “If the fighting continues, at least 8,000 more villagers will have to escape across the border or die at the hands of the soldiers,” KNU General Secretary, Zipporah Sein, is reported as saying.

According to a June 17 allegation from a spokesman from Karen relief organisation, the Free Burma Ranger (FBR), Burmese military assailants raped and murdered two teenage Karen women, while passing through Kwee Law Plo village, Lu Pleh Township, Pa-an district on June 12. The victims aged 18 and 17 respectively, the first eight-months pregnant, and the second, the mother of a six-month-old baby, were raped and murdered after their husbands had escaped into the jungle to avoid being press-ganged into working as porters for the Burmese Army. Previously, on 27 December, 2008, a seven-year-old Karen girl was reported to also have been raped and murdered by a Burmese soldier.

The Burmese military have long been accused by various Karen ethnic-rights groups of using systematic rape as a weapon to terrorize border-dwelling ethnic people. A report by the Karen Women Organization (KWO) entitled “Shattering Silences” cites 125 cases of sexual violence committed between 1988 and 2004. Officers were apparently the biggest offenders, being responsible for 50% of the rapes, 40% of which were gang-rapes, and in 28% of the instances the women were subsequently murdered. Similarly, in a 2002 report entitled “Licence to Rape” by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), 173 ethnic Shan women gave evidence of having been raped or suffering sexual violence by the Burmese military.

The present mass exodus of Karen villagers began after the DKBA warned the local village headman that they were going to recruit more soldiers and porters.

“We knew what that meant, all the able-bodied men would be used by the army in one way or another, and on top of that we would have to give them money and food rations,” said villager Pa Naw Naw, 41, before he fled with his family, leaving his 11-year-old son behind to look after their house and animals. A common practice, apparently, as by far the majority of the refugees are women and children.

This is essentially a last ditch attempt to save their 6-year insurgency.”We will fight to the bitter end,” said David Thakerbaw, a 74-year-old KNU who has spent virtually his whole life fighting the Burmese military oppression. “We have no option but to fight on and hold on to every strip of land,” he said. “We know they will continue to commit human rights abuses, seize our land and control our natural resources.”

The latest military campaign is related to the Junta’s planned elections next year and the proposed creation of a national border police force, to be composed of the disarmed ethnic rebel armies who have ceasefire agreements with the government. “They want to eliminate (the) KNU now because we have called on all Karen to boycott the elections,” maintained Thackerbaw. “The last thing they want is for other ethnic groups to follow our lead.”

Thai wats (temples), especially those in the vicinity of the Thai border town of Mae Sot, are the mainstay for a considerable number of refugees. “They are in relatively good condition,” Kitty McKinsey, regional spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, reported “They are not emaciated, though many have walked for more than seven days to escape from the Myanmar army,” apparently with only the clothes they stood up in. Pa Kyaw, a 30-year-old refugee at Wat Noh Bo in Mae Sot, said, plaintively, “We want an end to all this fighting. All we want is to be left alone in peace, and to be able to return to our homes”


Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 18, 2009 at 4:29 am

World focus on Burma (18 June 2009)

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LEAD: UN chief to visit Japan in June, Myanmar in July:

Product Design & Development – ‎

The country, formally named Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. Ban traveled to Myanmar for the first time last year in the aftermath of the …

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TIME – Pico Iyer

In Burma Aung San Suu Kyi, who was placed under house arrest that July (and rewarded with her own Nobel Prize two years later), is still in confinement, …

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Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting – Ryan Libre -‎

Most oversimplified headlines about Myanmar suggest that all its people are united behind Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in opposition to the …

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Now, as we approach Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday tomorrow, we are working with our EU partners to put further pressure on the junta to release her and all …

Burmese women’s groups pressured to cancel protest – Nem Davies – ‎

… bordering Burma, to hold a protest rally demanding the release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on her 64th birthday on June 19. …

Climber protests against Lloyd’s of London –

Robertson timed his protest to coincide with the eve of detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s 64th birthday, which falls on Friday June …

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Global plans for birthday of Suu KyiSupporters of Burma’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi are making preparations around the world to mark her 64th birthday …

Refugee children look for new family in the U.S.

Northwest Asian Weekly – James Tabafunda – ‎

Doi Bu is originally from Burma (Myanmar) and had been staying in Malaysia for one and half years before they met. Adriana wanted to be her foster parent. …

EU funds inputs package, extension support project

The Herald – Martin Kadzere – ‎

Other countries receiving the EU-funded “Food Facility” support are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Central African Republic …

Burmese army drives ethnic rebels from last stronghold

Independent – Andrew Buncombe – ‎‎

An ethnic rebel army that has been fighting for greater autonomy from Burma for more than 60 years has been driven …

Burmese army takes Karen positions

Scotsman – ‎

BURMESE government forces captured three Karen rebel positions yesterday in the latest fighting that has forced thousands of refugees to flee into …

China’s Oil Supply Dependence

Journal of Energy Security – David L.O. Hayward – ‎

China has secured a thirty-year deal from the Burmese military junta for natural gas tapped off the Myanmar coast. China will use these new pipelines to …

Burmese troops threaten Karen rebel bases

Radio Australia News – ‎‎

Soldiers of the Karen National Union, which is waging the world’s longest-running insurgency, launched 60 years ago after Burma won independence from …


Pattaya Daily News – ‎

According to a June 17 allegation from a spokesman from Karen relief organisation, the Free Burma Ranger (FBR), Burmese military assailants raped and …

“A land the world forgot: A photojournalist sneaks into Myanmar to …

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting – Ryan Libre – ‎‎

… an ethnic and religious minority that for decades fought a war of independence against the brutal military junta that rules Myanmar, or Burma. …

Burmese women’s groups pressured to cancel protest – Nem Davies – ‎‎

“With Moreh, being a town bordering Myanmar [Burma], any activity such as an open protest rally held there aimed at criticizing the ruling junta in Myanmar …

Karen rebel Army forced to retreat – Larry Jagan – ‎

Mae Sot (Mizzima) – Burma’s largest active ethnic rebel group has been forced to abandon its stronghold on the Burmese border with Thailand …

Myanmar troops threaten Karen rebel bases

The army and their Karen allies were also threatening two bases of the Karen National Union (KNU), the largest rebel group in the eastern former Burma. …

Myanmar: Recent Karen exodus raises questions about UNHCR role

ReliefWeb (press release) – Sai SoeWin Latt

… on Karen villagers, dated June 11, 2009, which said, “The EU reiterates its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Burma/Myanmar. …

Thousands of Karen Seek Safety in Thailand

The Irrawaddy News Magazine – Larry Jagan – ‎

“They are not emaciated, though many have walked for more than seven days to escape from the Myanmar [Burma] army,” she told The Irrawaddy. …

DKBA: Burma’s Second Largest Non-state Armed Group?

The Irrawaddy News Magazine – Wai Moe – ‎‎

Ethnic ceasefire groups were upset this year when the Burmese junta announced plans to transform them into a Border Guard Force (BGF). …

Burma rebels to abandon their base on the Thai border

Australia Network News –

Burma’s biggest rebel group says it will abandon a stronghold on the border with Thailand after weeks of fierce fighting with government and rival Karen …

More Mobile Phone Service Available to Burmese

The Irrawaddy News Magazine – Min Lwin – ‎‎

Burma’s Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) is set to add more than 200000 GSM mobile phone and CDMA phone SIM cards in Rangoon and …

Environmentalists press Mekong dams issue on ASEAN agenda

Earthtimes (press release) – ‎‎

… 7389 were from Thailand, 2625 from Cambodia, 583 from Laos, 338 from China, 240 from Vietnam and 26 from Myanmar, also known as Burma. …

Myanmar army ‘capture Karen bases’ –

According to the Free Burma Rangers, more than 4000 Karen civilians have been forced to seek refuge in Thailand in view of the fighting. Myanmar troops and …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 18, 2009 at 4:23 am