BurmaNet News, December 1, 2006
editor at burmanet.org
Fri Dec 1 12:47:46 EST 2006
December 1, 2006 Issue # 3097
The Economist: Red Cross does not mark the spot; Myanmar
Xinhua: More private publications granted in Myanmar
HEALTH / AIDS
Irrawaddy: World AIDS day observed in Burma
Irrawaddy: World Aids day commemorated
AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi's party throws feast for people with HIV
Asia Times: Myanmar's HIV/AIDS security threat
Xinhua: Norway to aid Myanmar fight three diseases
BUSINESS / TRADE
Xinhua: Myanmar tourism industry to boost in current tour season
Xinhua: FAO to aid cattle breeding zone project in Myanmar new capital
Bangkok Post: Burma leader skips Asean - again
Thai Press: United Nations UN to debate resolution calling for Myanmar
(Burma) to become a democracy
Irrawaddy: New software to fight web censorship
The Globe and Mail: Feted in Canada, staying in Myanmar
November 30, The Economist
Red Cross does not mark the spot
A reclusive junta burns one of its last bridges to civilisation
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operates in many of
the world's most dangerous and unpleasant places, from Afghanistan to
Guantánamo Bay. Jealously guarding its reputation for discretion and
impartiality, it manages to work with the least tractable governments.
EPA A rare glimpse of the lady
But not Myanmar's. This week the ICRC announced that the ruling junta last
month ordered it to close its five field offices in the country. This,
said the ICRC, made its work in conflict-ridden border areas impossible.
The generals had also blocked the resumption of its visits to detainees,
suspended last December.
Last year the organisation paid individual visits to more than 3,000
prisoners in 55 places. It has also been providing aidfood, medicines,
help with sanitation and so onto villages on the border. Its work now has
shrunk to the rehabilitation of amputees, and even that is in jeopardy.
The junta's rejection of the ICRC is bad news for hopes that it can be
engaged in any serious dialogue about reform. If it cannot tolerate the
scrupulously apolitical ICRC, it seems improbable that it will accept any
form of international intervention, advice or mediation.
Yet earlier this month, a senior United Nations official, Ibrahim Gambari,
visited Myanmar, and was allowed to see Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition
leader, who is under house arrest. In an earlier period of detention, in
1990, Miss Suu Kyi led her party to a crushing electoral victory, which
has never been honoured. So it is natural that foreign dignitaries should
want to see her. The granting of access did seem a small sop to
international opinion. Yet by then the junta in Myanmar had already given
the ICRC its marching orders.
It seems to want to move even deeper into isolation. Last year it shifted
Myanmar's capital from the port of Yangon to Naypyidaw, in a remote
mountainous region. Groping for an explanation, analysts could not find a
rational one: either the generals feared American invasion, or the move
was their fortune-teller's idea.
This week Mr Gambari reported back to the United Nations Security Council.
Afterwards John Bolton, America's UN ambassador, said that his government
would seek a council resolution on Myanmar, which he and Miss Suu Kyi
still call Burma. This would focus on those elements in its policies that
threaten stability in the region and more broadly. There are plenty of
those: its displacement of perhaps 1m people, for example; and its
conniving at heroin production.
But China and Russia are likely to argue that Myanmar's troubles are
internal, and that the new resolution would, like so many efforts to
change the country, achieve nothing. This argument over how to reform the
junta has simmered for two decades. Some Western governments have
advocated isolating the country in the hope of forcing better behaviour.
Myanmar's South-East Asian neighbours, as well as India and China, have
triedand profited fromengagement. In the gap between these two
approaches, the junta finds enough space to breathe.
December 1, Xinhua General News Service
More private publications granted in Myanmar
Seven more private magazines and nine more private journals have been
granted by the Myanmar authorities for publication and circulation in the
country, the local weekly Myanmar Times reported Friday.
The emergence of the new publications has brought the total number of
private magazines and journals being sold in the domestic markets to 250
and 200 respectively, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Board of the
Ministry of In-formation was quoted as saying.
According to the report, among the journals granted over the past two
years, sports journals dominated in number, followed by news journals
which carry domestic and international news, news related to arts,
children, health and crime.
Myanmar has readjusted its press scrutiny and registration policy by
lifting some restrictions previously imposed upon news writing by journals
and magazines with the aim of enhancing the development of press society.
According to the ministry which has taken over the duties of the press
scrutiny and registration from the Ministry of Home Affairs since February
2005, the publication and distribution of journals and magazines are being
continuously granted as long as it conforms to the prescribed policy.
The ministry outlined seven-point press policy for writers to adhere to,
which include opening up to reporters of journals and magazines on writing
about government departments but be constructive; permitting of writing on
domes-tic and international news quoting foreign media but be in the
interest of the nation orbe rejected if harming the nation.
The policy permits carrier of translated international news andcomments in
local media but with assurance that it does not cause disturbances among
The policy permits writing news on natural disaster but in a confirmed
The number of journals covering domestic news has grown over the past
eight years in Myanmar, thanks to market demand and the emergence of more
such journals also contributes to the development of journalism, readers
Leading news journals include Flower News, Yangon Times, Myanmar Times,
Weekly Eleven News, 7-Day News, Kumudra, Khit Myanmar, International
Eleven, Voice, 24/7 News, Zaygwet, Internet,Snap Shot and Popular.
Meanwhile, the New Light of Myanmar, both Myanmar and English languages,
as well as the Mirror remain as the country's three major state-run
dailies acting as the government's mouthpieces.
Other official statistics show that there were a total of over 5,000
printing houses and 759 publishers in Myanmar as of 2005. More than 9,700
titles of books on various topics were also published.
HEALTH / AIDS
December 2, Asia Times
Myanmar's HIV/AIDS security threat - David Fullbrook
Bangkok: Is Myanmar's HIV/AIDS situation heading for a pandemic on scale
with the human disasters seen in Africa?
Precise data about the AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
that causes it are scant in the secretive military-run country, which
until recently banned all local reporting on HIV and AIDS cases for
reasons of national security. But many independent public-health experts
believe that Myanmar is heading in a dangerous direction, a public-health
risk large enough potentially to have adverse effects on domestic and
"The current epidemic in Asia, with exception of the blood-transfusion
ones in China and Japan, is really a [Myanmar] epidemic," said Laurie
Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign
Relations in New York. "It is in the interests of Asian states to see
Myanmar's HIV epidemic as a national-security threat."
Myanmar's official headline HIV-infection-rate data surprisingly suggest
the epidemic is slowing, with 1.3% of those aged between 15 and 49, or
about 350,000 people, testing positive for the disease in 2005, down from
a 2.2% incidence rate five years earlier, according to the National AIDS
Program Myanmar as quoted in the latest report by UNAIDS (the Joint United
Nations Program on HIV/AIDS).
Another apparent cause for cautious optimism comes from pregnant women,
among whom infection has remained steady at about 1.5% in urban areas
throughout the decade. The situation in rural towns and villages is hard
to gauge because the public health-care system is in a critical condition,
struggling to function on meager funding. Among army recruits, incidence
eased to 1.6% in 2004 from 2.1% a year earlier, according to Myanmar
Yet there are concurrent reasons for grave concern. Among people aged
15-24, or the country's future doctors, bureaucrats, commanders,
entrepreneurs and parents, the infection rate is a high 2.2%. One in three
sex workers tested positive for HIV in 2005, against one in four in 2004,
according to the Department of Health and the National AIDS Program.
These high incidence rates could actually be much worse, however, because
of shoestring budgets for monitoring and the ruling junta's obsession with
secrecy, even over crucial public-health issues. Myanmar has not held a
reliable national census since the results of colonial-era surveys were
destroyed in 1942.
Some countries that in comparison take their AIDS problems seriously and
are deploying large budgets and able officials to combat the disease doubt
the veracity of Myanmar's official data. Chinese Health Ministry officials
said in November that Myanmar's infections are probably four or five times
what their data indicate. China reported in October that its number of
cases had jumped 30% to 183,733 from 144,089 at the end of last year.
Likewise, Taiwanese public-health officials told reporters in November
that they believe Myanmar's infections are three times as high as the
military government admits, according to a news report in the Taipei
Times. Health officials and researchers usually take stock of the HIV
situation around this time of year in preparation for World AIDS Day.
"I think what we can say for now is that [Myanmar's] figures are likely a
very significant underestimate, and the true numbers of infected
individuals is much, much higher," said Dr Voravit Suwanvanichkij, an
epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in
Chiang Mai. UNAIDS last year described the situation in Myanmar as "one of
the most serious AIDS epidemics in the region".
Yet according to Myanmar's official figures, new-incidence rates are
rapidly declining without substantial spending on the public-awareness
campaigns that have successfully changed behaviors and encourage condom
use in other countries, including Thailand.
"The folks at John Hopkins recently published an estimate that [the
Myanmar government] spent less than US$50,000 [on countering HIV and AIDS]
in the last year," said Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations in New
York. "I've heard other folks say that through secondary mechanisms such
as the UN that it might be up to $2 million nationwide."
Meanwhile, international money, medics and experts brought in to the
reclusive country to track and combat its HIV/AIDS problem have recently
been called back, apparently because of the military government's
suspicions that foreign aid workers were too sympathetic toward the
In August 2005, the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
canceled its $37.5 million program in Myanmar, blaming tight government
restrictions on its movements that made working nearly impossible.
Medecins Sans Frontieres pulled out of the country's war-torn Karen and
Mon states last March for similar reasons.
In November, the International Committee of the Red Cross was ordered to
close all its offices outside of Yangon. Meanwhile local non-governmental
groups trying to prevent infections and care for sufferers are often
harassed by security forces, people aware of the situation say.
Look the other way
It took brash campaigns backed with huge sums of government spending and
foreign aid to break down taboos and change behavior to help bring new
infections down in impoverished Cambodia and comparatively well-off
Thailand. And even there, with international assistance, those gains are
tenuous as signs of official complacency are putting a new generation of
young people at risk.
In absence of the prevention and public-awareness campaigns seen in
Cambodia and Thailand, condom use and availability rates in Myanmar -
although rising - remain dangerously low. Patchy education and awareness
campaigns, though better than official denial up until just a few years
ago, are not enough to keep pace with the evolving demographics of the
The Myanmar government estimates that condoms are used in only about half
of all commercial sex transactions. Combine that with what most observers
characterize as an expanding sex industry, and more doubts are cast on the
government's overall infection-rate data.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the clientele includes a growing number of
Chinese entering Myanmar, especially impoverished border areas to trade in
goods and natural resources, cut forests and mine for jade and other
minerals. Those human flows are creating conditions ideal for the virus to
spread further, faster, including into mainland China. Improving measures
in China to stem its still expanding HIV problem, health experts say, are
clearly being undermined by Myanmar's uneven efforts.
Myanmar's infection rates are particularly acute in border areas where
intravenous drug use is endemic and poverty causes shared needle use.
Australia's Burnet Institute estimates 150,000-250,000 people in Myanmar
regularly inject drugs. Nationally 43% of people injecting drugs were
infected with HIV in 2005, reports the National AIDS Program Myanmar, up
from 34% reported by Myanmar's Department of Health in 2004.
In the remote Shan state, which borders China and Thailand, rates for drug
injectors are even higher, including, according to the Department of
Health, a startling overall 60% infection rate in Lashio, a trading town
along the main trade and trafficking route between the central Myanmar
city of Mandalay and southern China's Yunnan province. Meanwhile, India
reports that more than 3% of pregnant women tested positive in districts
along the Myanmar border in 2005.
"In some areas, the epidemic continues to rage essentially out of control,
particularly in Kachin state, and without genuine attempts to
systematically collect and analyze relevant information, address the issue
and the factors that drive HIV vulnerability, including migration,
poverty, and lack of education and health care, some regional epidemics
have the potential to reach prevalence rates more closely resembling some
countries in Africa," said Dr Voravit.
In many African countries, infection rates of 5% opened the door to
epidemics ripping through societies, leaving more than 25% HIV-positive.
More worrying, new strains are beginning to emerge in Myanmar's remote
areas and China's Yunnan province, health experts say.
"We have molecular data to link China's epidemic in IDUs [injecting drug
users] in Yunnan to HIV strains circulating in Burma," said Voravit. "And
we have more molecular data showing that HIV strains in IDUs from Burma
and Yunnan are not only similar but very diverse, strongly suggesting an
epidemic out of control, as individuals get infected again and again with
multiple HIV strains."
Health experts also note that comparatively few Africans inject drugs, yet
AIDS has ravaged that continent, significantly rolling back
life-expectancy rates and crippling the economies of many countries.
Similar to Myanmar, many of those countries were very poor with
substandard health-care systems, and rather than tackling their epidemics
straight on, many African governments looked away until it was too late.
Only where governments, often supported by foreign aid, have confronted
the epidemic openly have infection rates slowed.
"Unless Burma's epidemic is confronted and there is a real aggressive
campaign, then the whole region will continue to receive new strains of
HIV, part of the fluid movement of the black market across southern Asia
in drugs, sex and labor," said Garrett.
And unless the country's ruling generals are soon persuaded to address the
country's HIV/AIDS situation not only as a public-health problem but as a
potential domestic and regional security threat, Myanmar could, a la
Africa, be headed toward failed-state status.
December 1, Irrawaddy
World AIDS day observed in Burma - Khun Sam
Burmese activists inside the country and on the border marked World AIDS
Day on Friday, handing out condoms to passerby, together with pamphlets
highlighting the epidemic and ways to combat it.
In Rangoon the event was also marked at the headquarters of the National
League for Democracy, at a gathering of members of the NLD, the 88
Generation Students group and other activists. More than 100 HIV/AIDS
sufferers, including many children, also attended. Organizer Phu Phu Tin,
an NLD member, said it was a happy occasion.
Forty thousand pamphlets were handed out in Rangoon alone, according to
one organizer, Jimmy of the 88 Generation Students group.
In Mae Sot on the Thai-Burmese border, hundreds of peopleincluded medical
personnel, Burmese migrant workers, activists and NGO membersparaded from
the towns hospital to Mae Tao Clinic, where they held a World AIDS Day
Dr Cynthia Maung, founder of the Mae Tao Clinic, spoke to the crowd and
later told The Irrawaddy: The work of combating the disease has become
quite extensive but the rate of HIV infection is still on the rise.
In Laiza, on the Burmese-Chinese border, around 2,000 people participated
in World AIDS Day events that included sports, a poetry competition and
Todays events came one day after the Burmese regime claimed the
military-ruled country is winning the fight against HIV/ AIDS. The
prevalence of HIV in Burma had been reduced over the past five years from
1.5 percent of the population to 1.3 percent, the regime claimed.
December 1, Irrawaddy
World Aids day commemorated - Sai Silp
Activists across the world commemorated World AIDS Day on Friday, while in
Thailand a group were set to form the longest condom chain to raise
awareness about the disease, according to a statement from the Bangkok
office of the UN Program on HIV/AIDS.
Activists in Bangkok will gather at Lumpini Park for the Condom Chain of
Life festival, during which they will link 25,000 condoms, led by UNAIDS
Special Representative Mechai Viravaidya, named in 2006 as one of Time
magazines Asian Heroes for his groundbreaking HIV prevention efforts.
Other events on Friday were to include the start of the My Life with HIV
campaign by Medecins Sans Frontiers, an effort to promote global
government and public-sector support for antiretroviral medication for
those infected with the disease.
Part of the campaign involves portraits of 25 people living with HIV/AIDS
posted on the MSF Web site, which document the improvements in the quality
of life after using ARV drugs. Two of the four profiles from Thailand are
migrants from Burma.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday called on people around the
world to hold their leaders accountable and keep the momentum strong in
the fight against AIDS.
Financial resources are being committed like never before, people have
access to anti-retroviral treatment like never before, and several
countries are managing to fight the spread like never before. Now, as the
number of infections continues unabated, we need to mobilized like never
before, Annan said, according to a report on Friday from The Associated
The rate of HIV infection has continued to grow, with about 4 million new
cases reported worldwide each year. The International Treatment
Preparedness Coalition has reported that by 2010, the world will miss the
UNAIDS target of treating 9.8 million people with ARVs by more than half.
In Thailand, ARVs have been provided to patients since 2000, through the
cooperation of MSF, local aid agencies and the Thai government.
As of this year, some 84,000 Thaisof the 570,000 in the country living
with the diseasehave access to ARV treatment, and the efforts to contain
and treat the disease has become a model for many countries.
Despite its success, the ARV program in Thailand has not benefited
everyone in need. Many still cannot afford treatment or live too far from
medical centers offering treatment, which is the case with many ethnic
minorities, migrant workers and other high-risk groups, such as drug users
and sex workers.
Prat Boonyawongwirot, general-secretary of Thailands public health
ministry, said on Friday that about 15,000 people were infected in
Thailand in 2006. Most were teenagers, according to a statement released
by the ministry, which attributed the high number of infections among
youths to their having sex at an earlier age.
Thailands public health ministry previously announced on Wednesday that
they would break the patent on the ARV Efavirenz to allow for cheaper
production of the drug in Thailand to treat the thousands of AIDS patients
who have become resistant to another ARV, Nevirapine.
There have been more than one million HIV/AIDS cases in Thailand since the
disease was first detected in the early 1980s. About 500,000 Thais have
died from the disease.
December 1, Agence France Presse
Aung San Suu Kyi's party throws feast for people with HIV
Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party threw a feast for people with HIV
to mark World AIDS Day on Friday, while urging the military government to
do more to ease their suffering.
Myanmar has one of the worst AIDS epidemics in Asia, exacerbated by the
nation's crumbling health care system. Officially some 339,000 people have
HIV, but experts say the actual number could be twice that with roughly
two percent of adults infected.
Phyu Phyu Tin, who works with the National League for Democracy's HIV
outreach, said the party wanted to hold an event that would bring people
together and help them support each other.
"We want them to get together in one place, so they can see and understand
each other. I am also glad to see them all," Phyu Phyu Tin told AFP.
About 100 people attended the party with food and gifts and raffles at the
NLD's rundown headquarters in Yangon.
Aung San Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest, as she has been for most
of the last 17 years. The NLD won elections in 1990, but has never been
allowed to govern.
"If Aunty Suu were here, we would be able to have more activities," Phyu
Phyu Tin said.
She said Myanmar's HIV epidemic appears to be worsening, as more people
have contacted the party as well as hospital and clinics to seek help.
"The HIV sufferers face many difficulties these days. I would like to ask
the whole society, including the authorities, to give their warmest
assistance," she said.
Khan Mayo Win, 27, who came to NLD headquarters two weeks ago from central
Myanmar to seek help, said she has not received any drugs since she was
diagnosed with HIV one year ago.
"I will continue looking for medical treatment. I have no idea how to find
it. But today I'm happy to attend this gathering," she whispered.
The UN-created Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria pulled
out of Myanmar last year claiming interference from the junta hampered its
A new 100-million-dollar program called the Three Diseases Fund officially
began working in October to try to pick up where the Global Fund left off.
The so-called 3D fund -- financed by Britain, Australia, the Netherlands,
Norway, Sweden, and the European Commission -- hopes to bring aid to the
country's 50 million people without any money being funnelled to the
In desperation for help, many people with AIDS here turn to traditional
healers for herbal treatments since life-prolonging drugs are generally
December 1, Xinhua General News Service
Norway to aid Myanmar fight three diseases
Norway has offered 5 million Norwegian Kroner (about 770,000 U.S. dollars)
to a new Myanmar's Three Diseases (3D) Fund to help the country fight
AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, the local weekly Khit Myanmar
Quoting sources with the Norwegian Embassy, the report said the Norwegian
aid is for 3D Fund's 2006 undertaking.
The Norwegian donation constitutes part of a 99.5 million dollars' joint
donor program for five years under a memorandum of understanding signed
between the Myanmar Health Ministry and the UN Office for Project Services
in the new capital of Nay Pyi Taw in October.
The 3D Fund was set up by a group of six donors which comprises the
European Commission, Sweden's Sida, the Netherlands, United Kingdom
Department for International Development, Norway and Australia's Aus AID
to compensate for grants which were suspended in August 2005 by the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The 3D Fund has also included 36 million dollars from the United Kingdom
Department for International Development and over 11 million dollars from
the Australian Government Aid Program (AusAID)'s pledged respectively in
The 3D Fund is said to be used for providing insecticide-treated nets for
malaria prevention, increasing access to TB diagnosis and treatment and
promoting condom use and expanded HIV testing.
Meanwhile, a recent workshop involving Myanmar, the World Health
Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS stated that 338,911 people were estimated to
have lived with HIV/AIDS in 2004 and the HIV prevalence in Myanmar has
reduced from 1.5 percent in 2000 to 1.3 percent in 2005.
It is estimated that about 100,000 new TB patients develop annually and
about half of them are infectious cases, the Myanmar health ministry said,
disclosing that Myanmar achieved 95 percent TB case detection rate and 84
percent treatment success rate in 2005.
Meanwhile, the trend of malaria morbidity and mortality has been
decreasing at present with malaria morbidity per 1,000 population reducing
from 24.5 in 1988-89 to 9.3 in 2005-06, while its mortality down from 10.4
to 3.1 correspondingly, according to the ministry.
Myanmar has designated AIDS, TB and malaria as three major communicable
diseases of national concern and efforts are being made to combat the
BUSINESS / TRADE
December 1, Xinhua General News Service
Myanmar tourism industry to boost in current tour season
Myanmar's tourism industry is signaling to boost in the current tour
season with reservations at almost all major hotels in the country's
tourist sites fully booked, according to local tour operators Friday.
Myanmar's tour season lasts from November to May.
Reservations at hotels in Bagan, Mandalay and Inlay have been full up to
next February, the sources said.
Meanwhile, air tickets for airlines flying the main route for
international transit between Yangon and Bangkok have been sold out, the
sources quoted the Thai Airways International (TG), Bangkok Airways (PG),
Myanmar Airways International (8M), Phuket Airlines (9R) and Thai Air Asia
(FD) as saying.
To meet passenger demand, the main foreign airline of TG flying between
the two destinations is arranging to in-crease its afternoon flight
services and the new schedule will last until next March, it added.
Observers see a new record high of one million tourists arrivals in the
tour season especially in this year-end through to the first quarter of
The latest figures released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism show
that foreign independent travelers visiting Myanmar account for 64
percent, while package travelers 22 percent and the rest go to those
taking one-day trip on business.
According to the statistics, tourist arrivals in Myanmar increased
annually in the past five years, registering at 660,206 in the fiscal year
of 2005-06 which ended in March, up from 656,000 in 2004-05, 590,000 in
2003-04 and about 470,000 in 2002-03 and 2001-02 respectively.
Of the tourists traveling Myanmar in 2005-06, cross-border ones accounted
for the majority with 427,980, while 227,300 entered through Yangon check
point and 4,918 through Mandalay and Bagan's.
The fiscal year's tourist arrivals have hit a record high in the past five
years, registering an earning through tour-ism during the year at over 150
million U.S. dollars, up from only 17 million dollars in the previous
Meanwhile, Myanmar has planned some tourism festivals in the tour season
in a bid to attract more tourists worldwide to the country, local reports
said, stressing the important role of the private sector in the
development of the tourism industry.
The ministry has urged private tour operators to cooperate with the
government in the plan, saying that assistance will be rendered to them in
the implementation as well as to win international links with regard to
The ministry figures also indicate that there are 596 hotels, motels and
guest houses in Myanmar, providing a total of over 18,500 rooms. The
number of travel agencies in operation stands over 500.
More figures reveal that contracted foreign investment in the sector of
hotels and tourism has so far amounted to 1.06 billion dollars since
Myanmar started to open to such investment in late 1988. Of the
investment, that in hotel projects amounted to over 580 million dollars.
December 1, Xinhua General News Service
FAO to aid cattle breeding zone project in Myanmar new capital
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is likely to
aid a cattle breeding zone project planned in the new capital of Nay Pyi
Taw, said a report of the local weekly Khit Myanmar Friday.
Proposals are being made by the FAO for the aid project, Minister of
Livestocks and Fisheries Brigadier-General Maung Maung Thein told cattle
breeders in a recent meeting in the new capital.
According to the report, the cattle breeding zone will start
implementation by next January to breed 20,000 milk cows, 100,000 ducks
and one million chickens.
Myanmar's plan of setting up the cattle breeding zone in the new capital
is to mainly breed milk cows in a bid to meet the daily rising demand of
milk in the area, livestock breeders said, adding that the zone, which
involves a milk processing factory, will be established in three townships
of the capital.
The establishment is also aimed at reducing import of milk and other dairy
products, the sources said.
Currently, Mandalay and Sagaing areas produce most of the milk and dairy
According to official statistics, Myanmar imported 22.2 million U.S.
dollars' condensed milk and 2.1 million dollars' milk powder and other
milk food and malted milk in the fiscal year 2005-06 which ended in March.
Meanwhile, Myanmar has imported for the first time since last July from
India high-quality nutritious feedstuff for milk cows to raise milk
production, local reports said.
December 1, Bangkok Post
Burma leader skips Asean - again
Manila: Burmese junta leader Senior General Than Shwe will again skip the
annual leaders' summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in
the Philippines this month, officials said Friday.
Than Shwe informed Philippines officials that he could not attend the 12th
Asean Summit on December 11-13 on Mactan Island, 600 kilometres south of
Manila, because he was preoccupied with Burma's national convention for
the drafting of a new constitution.
Burma would instead be represented by Prime Minister Soe Win in the meetings.
"He sent his regrets and said he cannot attend the meeting because he has
to attend to pressing matters in Burma," an official, who requested
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo earlier personally invited
Than Shwe to attend the summit. The invitation was relayed by Foreign
Secretary Alberto Romulo when he visited Burma in August.
Than Shwe has also skipped previous Asean leaders' summit and is usually
represented by Soe Win or Foreign Minister U Nyan Win.
Burma was supposed to take over the rotating chairmanship of the Asean
this year, but it backed out amid pressure from Asean dialogue partners.
The chairmanship was then passed on the Philippines based on Asean's
Dialogue partners, such as the United States and the European Union, had
threatened to boycott meetings with Asean if Burma were to host the
meetings, citing the military junta's failure to implement genuine
Asean groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma. They will be joined by
representatives from Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and
India during the summit.
December 1, Thai Press Reports
United Nations UN to debate resolution calling for Myanmar (Burma) to
become a democracy
In December the Burma issue will be brought before the United Nations
Security Council by the United States, which is hoping for a strongly
worded resolution addressing democratisation and human rights abuses in
Myanmar (Burma), the Bangkok Post reports.
The US was said to be waiting on drafting the resolution until after the
visit of Ibrahim Gambari, the UN's under-secretary-general for political
affairs, to Burma earlier in November.
Mr Gambari was allowed to meet with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi for the second time this year, but that's about the only good news
to come out of Burma for a long time.
There are three key areas the resolution will surely address: the release
of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi; speeding up of the democratisation
process, which would include finishing the draft of a constitution
guaranteeing freedoms and protection to all groups, and, last but not
least, the increasing persecution of ethnic minority groups.
Whether or not such a resolution will be vetoed by China remains to be seen.
The Burmese leadership doesn't seem to care much for the opinions of the
rest of the world, and their present state of isolation is such that there
are few countries whose sanctions would have much of an impact either.
China is an exception, and so is Thailand.
It is still not clear to what extent the policy of the government led by
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont will differ from that under Thaksin
It had been implied that there would be major differences, and PM
Surayud's past history indicates he has no fear of the generals in
However, on a brief visit to Burma on Thursday, he only expressed an
interest that the democratisation process would be speeded up, and that
Burmese workers coming to Thailand would be registered.
Most importantly, the PM said that his government would honour all
projects and cooperation commitments made by Mr Thaksin without review.
There were widespread accusations that Mr Thaksin was soft on Burma
because he had business dealings there. Whatever the truth of those
accusations, that should not be an issue under the current government.
Yet it is strange that every move Mr Thaksin made within Thai borders is
now being examined for possible wrong-doing and lack of transparency,
while his dealings with a group whose human rights abuses are notorious
throughout the world go unchallenged.
In particular, the commitment for Thai cooperation on the building of dams
on the Salween and Mekong rivers should be put on hold pending a cessation
of all hostile acts against ethnic minorities and thorough environmental
and social impact assessments for all projects Thailand is involved in.
By all accounts the Burmese government has stepped up its aggression
against ethnic minorities which refuse to pledge their allegiance. In the
past 10 months, more than 200 Karen villages have been destroyed by the
military and over 20,000 villagers displaced.
The dam projects are apparently a prime reason for the removal of several
Burma's junta has ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) out of key border areas and rejected moves to resume prison visits.
The Women's League of Burma recently released a statement that reads in
part: ''The [Burmese military] regime has continued to build up its
military infrastructure and deploy increasing numbers of troops in ethnic
areas. Evidence has continued to mount of these troops conscripting women
as sex slaves and committing gang rape, mutilation and murder...'' The
world is already watching, and will soon be taking a closer look.
Thailand's role in either condoning or trying to put a stop to such abuses
will be there for all to see.
December 1, Irrawaddy
New software to fight web censorship
The University of Toronto, in collaboration with the New York-based Open
Society Institute, on Friday launched a new software product that allows
Internet users to avoid restrictions in countriesincluding Burmathat
censor online material.
Psiphon, which is available for free on the Internet, bypasses firewalls
by connecting computers in countries that block content to those in parts
of the world without restrictions.
A similar method currently exists in the form of proxy servers, which have
become increasingly popular in Burma, although their use can be detected
and often prohibited.
Psiphon is potentially safer and more effective than proxy servers, its
creators say. Connecting to a computer in another country, the only trace
left by the software is relatively innocuous, compared to the act of
accessing a proxy server Web site, and much more difficult to track.
The new technology is expected to be particularly useful in the 13
countriesincluding Burma, China and North Korealabeled internet black
holes by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. Psiphon can be downloaded
December 1, The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Feted in Canada, staying in Myanmar Estanislao Oziewicz
Thousands of kilometres from Ottawa, where a ceremony in her honour is
being held next week, a poor villager is continuing to shine a light on
the practice of forced labour in Myanmar.
Su Su Nway took on the ruling military junta in 2004 by challenging,
through the courts, the use of forced labour. She and some of her
neighbours objected to having to pay for a roadway and also for being
forced to build it them-selves.
Her defiance earned her an 18-month prison term for defamation; it was
curtailed after nine months only after in-tense lobbying by the
International Labour Organization.
The Brussels-based ILO said that forced labour is a feature of Myanmar's
brutal and corrupt military junta, a criticism echoed in a just-released
report of New York-based Human Rights Watch.
It said that several thousand Myanmarese are trekking through Myanmar's
Karen state to flee army attacks and search for food.
"The Burmese military attacks villages, uses civilians for forced labour
and steals their food and money, forcing people to flee," said Brad Adams,
Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Despite her release from prison, Su Su Nway has nevertheless become a
cause célèbre among human-rights groups, including Montreal-based Rights
and Democracy, created by Parliament in 1988.
Rights and Democracy has named Su Su Nway, 34, this year's John Humphrey
Freedom Award laureate, a prize named for the Canadian law professor who
prepared the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Selflessly, she rallied her community, challenged the authorities in her
village and defied the machinations of her country's military junta," said
Jean-Louis Roy, president of Rights and Democracy.
Mr. Roy said Su Su Nway is unable to attend the Dec. 6 awards ceremony
because her country is a prison camp. She might have been spirited out but
could never have returned.
According to Mr. Roy, Su Su Nway said in a message to Canadians: "If Burma
was free, I would be there with you in Canada. Please tell Canadians that
I will come once the rights you enjoy are ours as well."
Answering questions posed in writing through Rights and Democracy, Su Su
Nway said she is unable to move about freely, but has support among
More information about the BurmaNet