BurmaNet News, January 18, 2007
editor at burmanet.org
Thu Jan 18 15:51:37 EST 2007
January 18, 2007 Issue # 3123
Irrawaddy: Rangoon bomb the work of radical student group
Guardian Unlimited: Burmese pro-democracy leader accused of tax evasion
Narinjara: Diplomats in western Arakan to inspect UNHCR projects
AFP: In Myanmar, villagers flee conflict raging far from world's eyes
DVB: Burma film leaders refuse to bow to military pressure
ON THE BORDER
AP: Indian forces capture seven suspected northeast rebels
SHAN: Army officers turn to poppy cultivation
BUSINESS / TRADE
SHAN: Push coming to shove for Kachins
VOA News: E. Timor PM regrets failed Security Council resolution on Burma
AP: Report: Japan court strikes down deportation of Myanmar democracy
January 18, Irrawaddy
Rangoon bomb the work of radical student group - Shah Paung
A militant group known as the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors claimed
responsibility for a letter bomb attack at a Rangoon post office on
In a statement released on Wednesday, the group claimed responsibility for
sending the letter bomb and placing a second bomb discovered at an office
of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association office in
Pegu on January 1. The earlier bomb did not detonate.
In the wake of previous bombings, the statement notes, the State Peace and
Development Council and various pro-democracy groups and ethnic opposition
forces blamed each other for the attacks, referring to each other
ambiguously as a public enemy.
This is an insult to the freedom fighters, the groups statement said,
referring to their eagerness to be correctly identified as the source of
the latest attacks.
A letter bomb exploded on Monday at a post office in Shwegondaing, a
suburb to the east of Rangoon, slightly injuring a 58-year-old postal
worker. The letter was addressed to the Myanmar police force and carried a
return address from an embassy in Rangoon. The embassy has not yet been
After the bombing, Burmese authorities later on Monday found two letters
at Rangoons central post office addressed to USDA General Secretary
Maj-Gen Htay Oo and the Chinese Embassy.
The groups statement said the attacks were made to warn Burmas military
governmentincluding the USDA and the police and fire departmentsand
foreign governments that support the junta against abusing the Burmese
The statement added that the group will use any methods necessary to
attack the regime or its supporters, such as China and Russia. The group
singled out these two countries as seeking their own interests in Burma
through weapons sales and training, and preserving these connections by
vetoing a US-drafted resolution on Burma, which was voted down last Friday
in the UN Security Council.
The Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors have a history of violent attacks
against the Burmese junta in and outside the country. The most visible
occurred in October 1999 when five members of the group stormed the
Burmese Embassy in Bangkok armed with guns and grenades and demanded an
immediate return to democracy in Burma.
The siege ended when Thai authorities negotiated a deal that allowed the
attackers to return to the jungle along the Thai-Burma border.
The Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors will not reproach or criticize any
people who fight the military government in whatever way they believe is
best, the statement read. [They] also do not object to criticisms made
against their actions in fighting the military government.
The statement promised that the group would continue targeting the Burmas
ruling junta and its supporters, and warned the Burmese people to stay
away from the military regime, though how they should do that was not
January 18, Guardian Unlimited
Burmese pro-democracy leader accused of tax evasion
Burmese state media organisations today widened their attacks on Aung San
Suu Kyi, accusing the imprisoned pro-democracy leader of tax evasion.
Burmese state media organisations today widened their attacks on Aung San
Suu Kyi, accusing the imprisoned pro-democracy leader of tax evasion.
One government-run newspaper claimed Ms Suu Kyi - who has spent 11 of the
past 17 years in detention and remains under house arrest - was evading
taxes by spending her money from the 1991 Nobel peace prize and other
The opposition leader was awarded the Nobel prize for her non-violent
resistance to the Burmese military junta which crushed the democracy
movement to seize power in 1988.
The junta regularly describes her as a threat to national unity, and
refused to hand over power when her party won a landslide election victory
Today's attacks saw the New Light of Myanmar newspaper claiming that Ms
Suu Kyi - who has won almost 100 other peace prizes - "avoided paying
taxes to the state by asking her family members abroad to spend all her
cash awards abroad".
Ms Suu Kyi was awarded 6m Swedish kronor (435,000) when she won the Nobel
peace prize. The average annual income in Burma has been estimated at $175
(90) a year, with child malnutrition and mortality rates reportedly
Human rights groups have repeatedly called for international action and
economic boycotts of the country. State-backed torture, rape and killings
are widespread, and more than 1,000 of Ms Suu Kyi's supporters are in
Last week, a draft UN Security Council resolution urging Burma to ease
repression and release political prisoners was vetoed by Russia and China.
The resolution, put forward by the US and Britain, called on the military
government to stop the persecution of political opponents and minority
January 18, Narinjara News
Diplomats in western Arakan to inspect UNHCR projects
Twenty five foreign diplomats from Rangoon arrived in the western Burmese
border town of Maungdaw yesterday to inspect several UNHCR projects. The
projects are aimed at bringing back Burmese Muslim refugees from
Bangladesh, said an official working for a foreign NGO in Maungdaw.
The diplomats arrived around 8 p.m. yesterday in UNHCR vehicles, via
Buthidaung town on the western bank of the Mayu river, 80 miles north of
the Arakan State capital, Akyab, the official added.
The diplomats flew from Rangoon to Akyab, and then proceeded to Buthidaung
from Akyab on a domestic ferry on January 17.
They are expected to visit several UNHCR project sites in Maungdaw today
to inspect the projects being implemented by UNHCR and Bridge Asia Japan
The envoys have been visiting locations of schools, vocational training
schools, inspecting tube wells and bridges that are being constructed by
the two NGOs.
It was learnt that the foreign envoys have been visiting the north of
Arakan in the early months of each year to inspect UNHCR and BAJ projects.
January 18, Agence France Presse
In Myanmar, villagers flee conflict raging far from world's eyes - Jack
Karen State: Even as fighting raged all around them, Pi Lu never thought
she would have to uproot her eight children and flee their small village
in eastern Myanmar.
She stayed even after her husband was killed in 2003, when he stepped on a
landmine that had been planted in one of their rice paddies.
But over the last year, an offensive by Myanmar's military government to
clear out villages in Pi Lu's ethnic Karen homeland escalated to a point
where she could bear it no more.
Seven people in her village were killed in the shelling, and their animal
herds were slowly decimated by landmines that littered the grazing areas
around her village, she said.
"When the children went to sleep by artillery instead of lullabies, it was
time to leave," she said.
So like thousands of others in Myanmar's impoverished and battle-scarred
Karen state, Pi Lu fled with her family, trekking through the jungle for
weeks until they found refuge in a camp hidden in the mountains near the
Two of her children are sick with malaria in the camp's dirt-floored
clinic, which has no properly trained medical personnel and little
equipment other than bandages and antiseptic.
Most of the patients are suffering from malaria, chronic diarrhea or
landmine injuries in a conflict largely forgotten by the rest of the
"Along the road, they have no health care so they got many sickness. And
so when they arrive here at the same time at our hospital, every bed is
full," said a camp medic who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of
The camp, which didn't exist a year ago, now shelters some 2,500 people.
Like Pi Lu, most journeyed by foot for weeks or even months before finding
the relative safety of the camp's bamboo huts along a thin stream.
Human Rights Watch estimates that 27,000 Karen have fled since the
offensive began nearly one year ago, joining an estimated 100,000 already
hiding near the Thai border.
The brutality of Myanmar's offensive against the rebel Karen National
Union was one of the main concerns raised in the US-backed resolution at
the UN Security Council, which was vetoed Friday by China and Russia.
The Karen are just one of many ethnic groups targeted in the largest
attempt to pacify minorities, many of whom have long struggled for
self-determination in this country, formerly known as Burma.
The Karen's 57-year struggle for autonomy makes theirs one of the
longest-running insurgencies in the world.
"Now the Burmese government has planted landmines on the farms on the
routes back to the village, so these people cannot return safely back to
their home or farm," said Sunai Phasuk, a Human Rights Watch
representative in Thailand.
"They are pushing further and further away into the jungle, and some of
them have reported being hunted like animals after they ran away," Sunai
And they continue to run.
Myanmar's ruling junta has pushed many villagers from their homes to
create a security cordon around their new administrative capital
Naypyidaw, where the government began operating nearly one year ago,
according to rights groups.
But those who are relocated say the rape of women and forced labour for
both sexes is common.
"They forced villagers to clear landmines and to rebuild roads on
frontline areas," one Karen aid worker at the camp said.
Government workers on bulldozers also use Karen as human shields against
landmines, making villagers walk in front of the bulldozers to clear a
path through the jungle, he said.
"The conflicts and military offensives in ethnic areas, in Karen State,
Karenni State, Shan State further north, we can confidently call it crimes
against humanity already," Sunai said.
Those who have made it to the camp do not know where they will go next but
say they cannot stay here.
Myanmar has signed deals with China and Thailand to build hydro-electric
dams along this border, and some time soon this camp will be submerged
deep beneath the nearby Salween River.
In the meantime, people living in this camp struggle along with little
help and little concern from the outside world.
One 25-year-old man said he lost his foot when he stepped on a landmine.
It was left untreated for a year, with the bone protruding, until a medic
cut it off with a saw.
Once the wound healed, he made his own prosthetic leg out of bamboo so he
"They are setting landmines in the abandoned villages, and also on the
paths where the internally displaced people are fleeing. We've had many
landmine accidents, and people with cut (severed) legs," the Karen aid
"They fight small battles, but their main target is to kill all the
villagers or force them to flee to towns or across the border," he added.
"They know the villages support the resistance groups, so they want to
drive the villagers out of the area."
January 18, Democratic Voice of Burma
Burma film leaders refuse to bow to military pressure
Burmas leading film association has refused to cave into military demands
that they speak out in support of China and Russias veto of the United
Nations Security Council resolution on Burma.
Sources in Burmas film industry told DVB that despite Burmas literature
and media associations issuing forced statements denouncing the United
States, Myanmar Cinematic Association chairman U Kyi Soe Tun, had refused
to follow suit.
A well-known film director who declined to be named said relations between
U Kyi Soe Tun and the government had become tense.
He was pressured. He refused . . . He is in a situation to lose his
position. He would if he doesnt do as they say, the director said.
If you want to protest, do it with your own conscience and belief. We do
not like people forcing us to do things we do not believe in. We just want
to survive as artists and produce artistic works . . . We dont like to be
ON THE BORDER
January 18, Associated Press
Indian forces capture seven suspected northeast rebels - Wasbir Hussain
Gauhati, India: Separatists in India's northeast threatened Thursday to
step up attacks if the government continues to crack down on the rebels,
seven of whom the army said were arrested while trying to flee to
India launched a massive operation against rebels from the United
Liberation Front of Asom, or ULFA, after a series of shootings and
bombings in the remote region earlier this month killed 61 people, most of
them Hindi-speaking migrant workers from other parts of India.
The attacks were the worst violence since peace talks broke down between
ULFA and the government in September and Indian security forces resumed
their attacks on the insurgents.
On Thursday, the rebels threatened more violence if there was no
resumption of peace talks aimed at reaching a political solution.
"There is no way out for us other than intensifying our resistance
struggle if India does not try to resolve the Indo-Assam conflict
politically," the group said in its monthly newsletter, Freedom, which is
circulated by e-mail.
ULFA has been fighting since 1979 for an independent homeland for the
Assamese, the indigenous people of the northeastern state of Assam. The
militants say the central government in New Delhi, 1,600 kilometers (1,000
miles) to the west, exploits the northeast's rich natural resources while
ignoring the region's economy.
At least 10,000 people in Assam, most of them civilians, have died in the
ULFA routinely denies it attacks civilians, and has insisted it played no
role in the latest violence.
Regardless, ULFA on Thursday repeated its demands of Hindi-speaking
migrants leave Assam.
"We had earlier appealed to the Hindi-speaking people to return to their
native states in view of the continuing conflict in Assam, but they were
instigated by the colonial administrators to stay on," said the statement
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday in a visit to the region
that he was open to peace talks with rebels but only if they first lay
down their weapons.
That does not appear likely, and the army is pressing its hunt for the
Soldiers captured seven rebels heading Wednesday toward Myanmar, also
known as Burma, said Maj. Gen. N.C. Marwah, the army commander in the
region. He said one of those captured appeared to be a senior ULFA leader.
Despite Wednesday's success, the army's 25,000 soldiers in the region have
had little success finding the rebels, who travel in small groups under
the cover of Assam's thick forests.
India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to discuss
the cross-border movement of rebels with his Myanmar counterpart during
his two-day visit to Yangoon, beginning Friday, said ministry spokesman
January 17, Shan Herald Agency for News
Army officers turn to poppy cultivation
A ten-fold salary hike last year notwithstanding, more and more army men
and their families are being forced to fend for themselves and some of
them are engaging in poppy cultivation, reports Hawkeye from the border.
Shans coming from Kengtawng sub-township, Mongnai township, Langkher
district, Southern Shan State told S.H.A.N. that among the
officers-turned-poppy growers were two from Kunmong-based Light Infantry
Battalion (LIB) 569 --- one a company commander of the rank of captain and
another Sgt. Joseph of Lahu descent.
"They used to tax us in the past," said a 56-year old grandmother in the
area. "But this year, they are taxing us and are also grow poppies
Which is reassuring, said her 61-year old friend. "We used to worry that
they might change their minds all of a sudden and destroy our fields," she
said. "But now we know we are in the same boat."
Sources from Hsihseng Township , further west, also report spotting
soldiers and their family members from LIB 423, 424, 425 an 426 working in
their own poppy fields.
Other sources say the military has destroyed some of the fields in the
south and east. The hardest hit were in Mongkeung and Laikha, the
townships where Shan State Army (SSA) South is active. "The Burma Army is
afraid that if the people are well-off, the SSA won't go away," said a
55-year old migrant in the area.
Meanwhile, Chiangmai News, on January 16, reported that Thai authorities
in Maehongson are expecting a bumper crop of 20 tons of opium from across
the border in Homong, former base of Khun Sa, which surrendered in 1996,
and the surrounding areas.
BUSINESS / TRADE
January 18, Shan Herald Agency for News
Push coming to shove for Kachins
A year after the cross-border timber trade has been closed off by Burma's
ruling military junta, the cash-strapped Kachin Independence Organization
(KIO) is increasingly becoming dependent on drug production and trade for
survival, Hawkeye reports from the Sino-Burma border:
Before 2006, the group's income could be roughly broken down into 4
categories, according to sources close to the KIO: timber (40%), jade
(30%), casinos (20%) and others (10%).
However, since the arrival in 2005 of the new regional commander Maj-Gen
Ohn Myint in Kachin State, the logging business have been seeing better
days. Chinese loggers working in the Kachin forests were cracked down and
some shot down in cold blood, forcing several Chinese companies to close
"The HQ in Laiza and most of its brigades are low on income but that does
not include the 4th Brigade in northern Shan State," said a source working
with the Kachin group since it had concluded a ceasefire agreement with
the Burma Army in 1994.
The townships of Namkham, Kutkhai, Hsenwi and Lashio, where the KIO,
together with another Kachin ceasefire group, Kachin Democratic Army (KDA)
of Mahtu Naw, holds sway, poppy fields have returned in force during the
2006-2007 season, many reportedly with full knowledge of the local Burma
Army units. "You can find 5-6 refineries working full time," one insider
source told S.H.A.N. "This area boasts the largest number of refineries in
Shan State today."
The markets for their products are also either close at hand or
convenient: China (60%), border areas (15%), gem mines and jade mines of
Phakant, Hsaitawng and Monghsu (15%) and India and Rangoon (10%).
The result: although the KIO has declared itself drug free, drugs are
"selling like hot cakes," according to a source, across the border in
places like Longchuan (Mongwan) and Yinjiang (Mongna).
Further south, the Wa who had also declared its territory drug free in
2005 are facing the same situation "It looks as if the SPDC (the ruling
State Peace and Development Council) do not want us to be free from
drugs," remarks a ceasefire officer. "They tell us to do away with drugs,
but offer us no alternatives in return."
Burma's generals have declared the country would be free of drugs by 2014.
January 18, VOA News
E. Timor PM regrets failed Security Council resolution on Burma
East Timorese Prime Minister and Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta
says he is disappointed that the United Nations Security Council failed to
pass a resolution last week criticizing Burma's military-led government.
In a statement Thursday, Mr. Ramos-Horta said that some Security Council
members may be right when they say Burma is not a threat to regional
security because it does not possess biological or nuclear weapons
But he said Burma's human rights situation, rampant drug trafficking
problem, unchecked HIV rates, and high internally displaced populations do
pose a threat to regional, if not, international security.
Mr. Ramos-Horta also argued that the inability of the U.N. Human Rights
Commission to address the problem should also be a wake up call to the
A U.S.-drafted resolution failed last Friday because of vetoes by China
If it had passed, the resolution would have urged Burma's military
government to release all political prisoners, speed up progress toward
democracy, and stop attacks against ethnic minorities.
Burma's military has ruled the country since 1962 and ignored a 1990
landslide election victory by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Since
then, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of her time in prison or under house
January 18, Associated Press
Report: Japan court strikes down deportation of Myanmar democracy activist
Tokyo: A Japanese high court upheld a ruling Thursday striking down a
deportation order against a Myanmar democracy activist who fears
prosecution by the military government if he is forced to return home, a
A district court in the city of Nagoya originally blocked a government
order to deport the man in Sept. 2003, saying he fits the description of a
political refugee, but the state appealed that ruling, Kyodo News agency
The Nagoya High Court backed the earlier ruling on Thursday, Kyodo said.
The man, a member of the Rohingya minority who was involved in the
pro-democracy movement, fled to Japan on a fake passport in June 1992
because he feared he would be arrested by Myanmar's military regime.
Human rights activists have long criticized Japan's handling of political
asylum cases, noting that only a tiny fraction of those who apply are
granted asylum and that it often comes only after long periods of
confinement under the threat of deportation.
Japan granted refugee status to just 15 people in 2005, according to
figures from the Japan Lawyers Network for Refugees. By contrast, the
United States accepted 21,148 refugees the same year, and France 15,866.
UNHCR figures for 2004 show Japan granted refugee status for only about 4
percent of those who applied. The United States, meanwhile, recognizes
about 33 percent of those who apply.
More information about the BurmaNet