BurmaNet News, August 11, 2005

Editor editor at burmanet.org
Thu Aug 11 14:49:28 EDT 2005

August 11, 2005 Issue # 2780

AFP: Myanmar cartoonist imprisoned for one month, rights groups say
AFP: Myanmar reshuffles military commanders and ministers
Mizzima: Security concerns following bank closure in Burma
Narinjara: Nasaka redeployed in Burma’s western border areas
DVB: Terminator Burma junta sacks more ministers
DVB: Burma junta ready to resume ‘National Convention’ end of 2005

Irrawaddy: Trial date set for Burmese 68
Mon News Agency: Mon killings increase in southern Thailand due to
competition for jobs


August 11, Agence France Presse
Myanmar cartoonist imprisoned for one month, rights groups say

Cartoonist Chit Swe, a member of Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition, has
been sentenced to one month in prison for defying orders of the military
government, two rights groups said Thursday.

The 65-year-old was convicted by a Yangon court on August 3, under an
emergency law used by authorities to crack down on the opposition,
according to Reporters Without Borders and the Cartoonists Rights Network.

He was sentenced to one month in prison, as well as a six-month suspended
prison term by a Yangon court, the groups said.

Chit Swe was arrested on July 12 shortly after the opposition National
League for Democracy (NLD) met at his home.

He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the meeting was simply a discussion
among colleagues, the groups said.

The cartoonist is being held at Myanmar's Insein prison outside Yangon,
and suffers from heart problems and chronic bronchitis.

His cartoons in two financial magazines, Dana and Myanmar Dana, often
portray socio-economic problems in the country.

According to Amnesty International, there are more than 1,000 political
prisoners held in Myanmar, which was formerly known as Burma. NLD leader
and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest.


August 11, Agence France Presse
Myanmar reshuffles military commanders and ministers

Myanmar's ruling junta has reshuffled powerful military leaders for the
second time in less than three months, a source close to the military said
Thursday, with government ministers also changing posts.

In the most significant shift, Lieutenant General Ye Myint, one of four
special operations commanders and a member of the ruling State Peace and
Development Council, moved back to active military service, the source
told AFP.

Ye Myint traded posts with Lieutenant General Kyaw Win, chief of armed
forces training. Analysts said this was the first time an official had
left the SPDC to return to the military mainstream.

One analyst described the swap as a "strange and quite unprecedented"
reshuffle that could affect future important military appointments.

Generals usually receive the title of special operations commander when
they are headed for retirement, analysts said.

Major General Maung Maung Swe, head of the northern military command in
Myitkyina in Kachin state, and Major General Ohn Myint of the Coastal
Command have also swapped posts, the source said.

The reshuffle came less than three months after a May 29 shake-up, as the
military continues to reorganize and promote its staunchest loyalists
after Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was ousted last October in a sweeping

Khin Nyunt received a 44-year suspended sentence last month after being
convicted on eight charges including bribery and corruption.

State media Thursday also reported four other changes in government.

Education minister Than Aung was sacked and replaced by Chan Nyein who was
previously deputy minister at the ministry of science and technology,
official media said.

Than Aung had been considered close to Senior General Than Shwe, the
country's supreme leader.

Two people attached to the prime minister's office -- minister without
portfolio Brigadier General Pyi Sone and Than Shwe, who has the same name
as the senior general -- were also "permitted to retire," state media
reported. No replacements were announced.

Colonel Thurein Zaw, a new appointee tapped from the military, was named
deputy minister at the ministry of national planning and economic

The four orders were signed by the SPDC's first secretary, Lieutenant
General Thein Sein, effective August 10. They were published in the state
press Thursday.

No reasons were given for the changes. Analysts said the cabinet changes
were not as significant as the military reshuffle but they expected more
to follow.


August 11, Mizzima News
Security concerns following bank closure in Burma

Burmese authorities tightened security at the head office of a recently
shut down private bank in Rangoon.

Polices and soldiers have been stationed outside the Myanmar Universal
Bank in Rangoon which was closed down on August 6 by the Burmese
authorities following the arrest of the chairman of the bank.

No official announcement was made for the third closure of private banks
in Burma. Asia Wealth Bank and Mayflower Bank were shut down in March. The
state-run Myanmar Economic Bank reportedly took over operations of Myanmar
Universal Bank as of Monday.

Depositors rushed to the nearest branches of the MUB to withdraw their
savings on Monday. About a 100 depositors were allowed to make withdrawals
and the rest waiting near the bank, were asked to leave Associated Press
reported from Rangoon.

Soldiers arrested the bank chairman Tin Sein and confiscated his cars on

Speculation is rife about the closure. Some say the arrest of the bank
chairman, a friend to a detained Shan ethnic leader Khun Htun Oo, could be
the cause. Khun Htun Oo, the chairman of Shan National League for
Democracy is being tried for treason. Some say a branch of MUB in Mandalay
has been producing fake Burmese currency. Some say it could be related to
money laundering allegations.

The military junta sealed two major private banks, the Asia Wealth Bank
and the Mayflower for violating banking laws. Both banks had been accused
of having links with drug traffickers and for US money laundering.

Meanwhile in Rangoon, the Burmese military government has reshuffled some
of its leaders both within the government and the military, with rumours
spreading that more changes (within the Junta) is in the offing. The
latest reshuffle resulted in the removal of three ministers from the

The Burmese military junta has been reorganising itself since powerful
intelligence chief and former Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt was purged
in October last year.


August 11, Narinjara News
Nasaka redeployed in Burma’s western border areas

Nasaka bases along the western border of Burma are being rebuilt starting
from this month. The bases were abandoned after the purge of General Khin
Nyunt and Nasaka officials, most of whom were believed to be followers of

A villager from Nga Khu Ra Village says, “On top of all the old bases,
some new bases are being built.”

These bases were in the region under the all Nasaka Region in Maungdaw
Township. In Nasaka area No. 5, Nga Khu Ra Region alone, three camps are
being rebuilt. The camps are Khaung Wa, Sagna Thit and Prann Phyu, about
20 miles north of Maungdaw, a western border town of Burma, opposite
Teknaff in Bangladesh.

An Arakanese from Maung Daw who is close to the local authority says this
rebuilding is the first step of redeploying the Nasaka in the border

According to local sources there is no forced labour being used on the
construction sites of the Nasaka camps, but the Nasaka authority has
collected money from local businessmen, especially smugglers, in both
Bangladesh and Burma, for renovating the camps.

The junta aims to have the Nasaka become the border security force again,
taking charge of the security along the border as before the purge.

It has been learned that there are about 57 Nasaka camps and headquarters
along the border. Among of them, 41 camps have been rebuilt by the


August 11, Democratic Voice of Burma
Terminator Burma junta sacks more ministers

Burma’s military junta, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has
‘terminated the duties’ of Minister for Education U Than Aung and
‘permitted’ Than Shwe and Brig-Gen Pyi Sone of Prime Minister’s Office ‘to
retire from duties on 11 August.

The junta also ‘appointed and assigned duties’ to Col Thurein Zaw as
Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, and Dr
Chan Nyein as Minister for Education.

Announcements of the sacking and appointment were made in the junta’s
mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar, by the order of SPDC Sec-1 Lt-Gen Thein
Sein but he didn’t explain the reasons.

Than Aung was said to be quite close to SPDC chairman Gen Than Shwe but
Than Shwe and Pyi Sone from PM’s Office were said to be on friendly terms
with ousted PM Gen Khin Nyunt, and their removals could be the handiwork
of SPDC vice-chairman Gen Maung Aye, according to sources from Rangoon.

The latest purge followed close on the heels of the secret sacking of PM’s
Office’s director-general Soe Tint and SPDC Office director-general Pe

Moreover there have been rumours that one of the four Regional Operation
Command (ROC) commanders, Lt-Gen Ye Myint is to be replaced by army
training chief Maj Gen Kyaw Win, and Northern Command commander Maj-Gen
Maung Maung Swe and Coastal Command commander Maj-Gen Ohn Myint, according
to political observers in Rangoon.


August 10, Democratic Voice of Burma
Burma junta ready to resume ‘National Convention’ end of 2005

Burma’s military junta, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has
been making reparations for the resumption of the so-called National
Convention so that it could be reconvened before the end of 2005,
according to a report by the New Light of Myanmar.

The comment was made by the SPDC Sec-1 and the convention’s commission
chairman Lt-Gen Thein Sein, during a meeting on 9 August, but he didn’t
specify as to when it would be started or who would be allowed to attend
or whether the elected representatives (MPs) would be invited.

But the SPDC foreign minister Nyan Win recently said that the junta gave
up the rotating chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) in 2006 because it wants to concentrate on national reconciliation
process, and observers believe that the junta will invite all the parties

Some of the delegates who attended the previous sessions of the convention
and the MPs who were never invited told DVB that they still have not been
notified by the authorities on the matter. Some ‘peace’ groups which
signed ceasefire agreements with the junta and attended the convention are
seriously considering not to resume the attendance of the
constitution-drafting convention, but some groups want all the parties
concerned to attend the convention whatever the situation. The also said
they would demand the junta to let all parties to attend.


August 11, Irrawaddy
Trial date set for Burmese 68 - Khun Sam

A team of Malaysian lawyers is urging the Attorney General to drop a case
involving 64 Burmese activists arrested while demonstrating outside the
Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur in June.

Latheefa Koya, one of the lawyers representing the detainees, confirmed
that a formal request will be submitted as soon as the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees confirms the activists as being persons of
concern, refugees or asylum-seekers.

The 64 were arrested on June 16 in front of the Malaysian capital’s
Burmese embassy, where they were demanding the release of Burmese
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest
in Rangoon. They face charges of unlawful assembly and immigration
offenses, while a further four were arrested for not possessing official
immigration while visiting the protestors in detention. All 68 pleaded not
guilty at a hearing yesterday.

The trial had been scheduled for next year but has been brought forward to
December 12 following a request from the defendants’ lawyers. The 68 are
due to remain in prison until the trial, though Latheefa Koya told The
Irrawaddy by phone that the court would be expected to take time already
served into account when sentence is passed.

This is actually the second time the case has appeared in court. The first
hearing had been fixed for July 26 but had to be postponed when a Burmese
interpreter could not be found.

Meanwhile, reports are circulating which suggest mistreatment of the
detainees. Latheefa said that “one, by the name of Eric, was beaten so
badly on July 14 that he could not urinate. He asked for a doctor. Instead
he was sent to a dark room [solitary confinement] for another 8 days.”

Malaysia has yet to become a signatory to the 1951 Convention on the
Status of Refugees.


August 10, Independent Mon News Agency
Mon killings increase in southern Thailand due to competition for jobs

Murder cases have been occurring regularly among Mon migrant workers
employed on rubber plantations in southern Thailand due to price
increases for rubber.

Recently, four male Mon migrant workers, Nai Zaw, 22, from Kalawthut
village in Mudon Township; another worker from Thapyuzayat Town and two
others from other areas were killed in Phangha District, a Mon working in
the area said.

Mon migrant workers in the area are taking guns, knives and other weapons
to work to protect themselves, he added.

According to workers in the area, after a killing more cases frequently
occur only 3-4 days afterwards. Migrant workers hear gunshots everyday in
the area, a worker said.

The killings have occurred due to competition among Mon migrant workers.
Some able to collect more rubber sap have been killed by those who collect
less. The amount collected depends on the quality of the rubber trees.

Migrant workers who collect less rubber always try to move up to work on
plantations where they can collect more rubber sap, Mon migrant worker Nai
Myo Win explained. Some Mon migrant workers have organized gangs among
themselves to chase out other migrants working on plantations with better
quality rubber trees, Win said.

On rubber plantations, the Thai boss or owner pays 30 to 35 percent of the
total collected rubber sap from his/her plantation, a high income for Mon
migrant workers with experience collecting rubber sap, even in their home
villages in Mon State.

Rubber prices have increased up to 65 Baht per Kilogram. A migrant worker
earns about 700 Baht per day if he/she taps rubber sap on a qualified
plantation. Thousands of Mon migrants in southern Thailand work on rubber
plantations owned by Thais.

"If you see bullet shells on your plantation (among the roots of rubber
trees), you have to escape. If you won't you will get killed by the gang,"
Win added.

"I was beaten and all my money and my friend's money was taken by the
murderers. I couldn't work for many days because I was seriously beaten by
them (the gang members)," said Nai Chit, who was beaten last year.

All gangs and murderers in the area have guns, so migrant workers fear
strangers entering plantations. Sometimes, when murderers enter their huts
on the plantations, they are not only beaten, but their sheets of rubber
are taken away.

Thai authorities are currently engaged in crushing activities of gangs and
seizing arms wherever found as killing cases have escalated in the area.

The same area was seriously damaged by last December's tsunami. Hundreds
of Mon migrant workers lost their life, which has not been detailed much
by the media.

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