BurmaNet News, April 2, 2008
editor at burmanet.org
Wed Apr 2 19:07:49 EDT 2008
April 2, 2008 Issue # 3435
The Straits Times via AFP: New Myanmar constitution keeps military dominant
BBC News: Call to reject Burma constitution
AP: Glass coffin with body of revered Buddhist monk stolen from Myanmar
Irrawaddy: Junta-backed thugs continue attacks on opposition
Irrawaddy: Burmese electorate still waits to see constitution text
Asia Tribune: 25 per cent of Burma's Karenni State internally displaced
Mizzima News: USDA a stooge of Burmese junta: Opposition researchers
Mizzima: Junta arrests more opposition members
Narinjara News: Anti-referendum flyers spread in Southern Arakan
DVB: Prisoners offered sentence reductions to vote Yes
Xinhua: Myanmar to benefit from establishment of foreign branch technical
ON THE BORDER
Narinjara News: Dhaka - Naypyidaw border talks end without decision
BUSINESS / TRADE
Nasdaq via AFP: N Korea exporting multiple-launch rockets to Myanmar
Reuters: Myanmar's Yetagun gas pipeline leaking - PTTEP
The Earth Times: Stalls, restaurants turning to Myanmar for cheaper rice
AP: India to build Myanmar port
IMNA: High time for distribution of draft constitution: Burma Lawyers'
Reuters: West seeks new U.N. council statement on Myanmar
Kaladan Press Network: Rohingyas participate in demonstration in Brighton, UK
STATEMENT / PRESS RELEASE
NLD: Appeal to the people of Burma on the upcoming referendum
Amnesty International: Amnesty research shows demonstrators jailed in Burma
April 2, The Straits Times via Agence-France Press
New Myanmar constitution keeps military dominant
LEAKED copies of Myanmar's new constitution, in hefty green paperbacks
secretly circulating in Yangon, show the military will receive sweeping
powers that ensure its dominance even after elections.
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained pro-democracy leader who is the regime's
most formidable foe, is clearly barred from the presidency and she would
be unlikely to qualify even for a parliamentary seat, the document shows.
The ruling junta plans to bring the constitution to a referendum in May,
in anticipation of elections slated for 2010.
The public has so far had no chance to review the final draft, and a
handful of leaked copies of the 194-page document are the only versions so
A copy obtained shows that while the constitution would set up a civilian
government and grant civil rights to the people, it is peppered with
caveats that allow the military to easily reassert direct control in the
interest of national security.
States of emergency could be declared not only to battle insurgencies, but
to combat the threat of 'disintegration of national solidarity'. The
military would receive immunity from prosecution for actions taken under
Existing security laws used to jail political dissidents and suppress
dissent would remain in effect, and parties would be required to practise
'discipline-flourishing genuine multi-party democracy'.
'It's basically a blatant blueprint for continued military rule, and it's
fairly open and honest about that,' said Mr Dave Mathieson, a researcher
for Human Rights Watch.
'There's all these little brutal caveats all through the document, and
they all say that the Burmese army will continue to rule the country,
either behind the scenes or in full view,' he said.
Some of the provisions give the military very open influence. One quarter
of the seats in Parliament are reserved for the armed forces, and the
president is required to be 'well acquainted' with military affairs.
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi would be barred from running for office because she
married a Briton and her children are British nationals.
But most members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) and other
political dissidents would struggle to meet the requirements to stand for
Candidates are barred if they or their parties accept support from foreign
governments or religious organisations.
The government routinely accuses the NLD of taking foreign funds, while
Buddhist monks last year led mass anti-government protests that were
violently crushed by security forces.
Candidates with criminal records are also barred from running, which would
exclude most top democracy leaders, who have served prison sentences for
their political activities.
'The constitution makes it even harder for the opposition groups and
civilian politicians to manoeuvre,' said Myanmar analyst Aung Naing Oo,
based in Thailand.
'It may be very difficult for any of the parties to get even 25 per cent
of the seats,' he said.
The country, formerly known as Burma, has had no constitution since 1988,
when the current junta seized power. Information Minister Kyaw Hsan last
week defended the proposed charter as 'better than nothing', saying the
constitution could be amended over time.
But the final draft shows amendments would be almost impossible without
the military's consent.
A majority of 75 per cent of parliamentarians are required to approve
amendments, meaning civilian politicians would need at least some support
from the military MPs to approve amendments.
That makes amendments unlikely to happen soon, said Mr Aung Naing Oo,
adding that he believed the charter would do little to end Myanmar's
'Human rights abuses are at the centre of the conflict in Burma, so the
entrenchment of the military in the constitution means the human rights
abuses will go on, the conflict will go on,' he said.
April 2, BBC News
Call to reject Burma constitution
Burma's opposition National League for Democracy has urged voters to
reject the new army-backed constitution in a referendum next month.
The country's military leaders say the proposed constitution is part of a
process leading to elections in 2010.
The NLD said the planned constitution, which bars its leader Aung San Suu
Kyi from key political posts, would not guarantee human rights or
Burma has not had a constitution since 1988 when the current junta took
In 1993, a national convention was set up to draft a new constitution, in
what turned out to be a lengthy and intermittent process, from which the
NLD was excluded.
In October 2007 the junta appointed a 54-member committee to the task and
on 19 February announced that their work was complete and that a
referendum would be held on the document in May.
While it has previously criticised the draft constitution, Wednesday's
statement clarifies the NLD's position on the referendum.
"We urge the people from all walks of life, ethnic nationalities and their
organisations to go to the polling stations without fail and to decisively
cast a 'no' vote," it said.
The NLD statement said that the proposed constitution "cannot give any
guarantee for democracy and human rights, which are strongly needed by the
"It is not in accord with the basic democratic principle that the
sovereign power of the state is derived from the people," the NLD said.
Although the text of the draft constitution has not been publicly
released, news agencies say leaked copies show that it enshrines the
military's dominant role in politics beyond the multiparty elections
slated for 2010.
The constitution would also bar the NLD's leader, Nobel laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi, from the presidency or a seat in the legislature because she
married a British man.
Ms Suu Kyi led the NLD to victory in a multi-party election in 1990 but
the military ignored the result and she has spent 12 of the last 18 years
under house arrest.
April 2, Associated Press
Glass coffin with body of revered Buddhist monk stolen from Myanmar monastery
A group of armed men on Wednesday stole the body of one of Myanmar's most
revered Buddhist monks, whose corpse has been preserved in a glass coffin
since he died more than four years ago.
Officials said the coffin containing the body of Sayadaw Bhaddanta Vinaya,
better known as Thamanya Sayadaw, was stolen from the monastery in eastern
Myanmar where he had preached.
The officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized
to release information, said at least nine armed men wearing camouflage
clothing carried out the theft. They said they had no idea who they were
or why they took the body.
Thamanya Sayadaw the abbot of Thamanya mountain was a highly revered
monk who attracted thousands of followers to his temple daily before he
died in November 2003 at the age of 93.
Among those who journeyed to pay homage to him at his mountain retreat 160
kilometers (100 miles) east of Yangon was pro-democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi. She, like most people in Myanmar, is Buddhist.
Suu Kyi visited Thamanya mountain in 1995 to pay homage to the monk after
she was freed from six years of house arrest and last visited him in June
2002 after being released from 19 months of detention. She was later
The military government bestowed several honors on Thamanya Sayadaw, but
he avoided identification with it, instead promoting his religion and
development in the community where he preached.
Many people continued to pay their respects to his remains after his
death. Bodies of revered monks are sometimes preserved and displayed in
glass coffins for worship.
April 2, Irrawaddy
Junta-backed thugs continue attacks on opposition Min Lwin
As Burma prepares for a referendum on a constitution drafted by the
countrys military rulers, activists and members of the main opposition
party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), have come under increasing
attacks from junta-backed thugs.
The latest incident occurred around 7:30 on Monday evening, when Myint
Hlaing, 74, the NLD chairman for Rangoons Hlaing Tharyar Township, was
assaulted near his home. According to sources, he was hospitalized after
an unknown attacker inflicted a two-inch cut on his head.
Last Thursday, Myint Aye, 54, a leading human rights activist from
Sanchaung Township in Rangoon, required treatment at the citys main
neurological hospital for head wounds after he was beaten by two
unidentified men near his home.
Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday of
another incident about a month ago, when knife-wielding pro-junta thugs
chased several party members in Taunggok Township in Arakan State.
The recent attacks come as Burmas military regime steps up training for
volunteers who will be tasked with controlling protests against a
referendum in May on the junta-sponsored draft charter.
Sources in Rangoon say that local authorities have been giving
riot-control training to state-backed organizations, including volunteer
firefighters, Red Cross personnel and members of Ward Peace and
Development Councils in Rangoons South Dagon, South Okkalapa and
They were instructed how to beat the activists and crack down on crowds
if protests happen, said one person who had witnessed the training
sessions. The firefighters were shown how to beat the protesters and
members of the Red Cross learned how to pick them up and throw them on
trucks, separating those who are dead from the ones who are still alive,
the witness added.
According to the witness, the training started at 10 p.m. and continued
until midnight. Trainees received 500 kyat (US $0.45) and a meal for
attending. The instructors were blue-uniformed Swan Ar Shin militia
members and the supervisor for each ward was identified by a red stripe on
In recent years, Burmas military junta has turned increasingly to
civilians to stem unrest. Before troops crushed last years monk-led
uprising, plainclothes agents were instrumental in snuffing out earlier
protests against a dramatic rise in fuel prices.
Random attacks on opposition members have also increased as part of an
ongoing campaign of intimidation. In April 2007, several members of Human
Rights Defenders and Promoters, a human rights advocacy group founded in
2002, were mobbed and severely beaten by around one hundred members of the
junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association in Hinthada
Township, Irrawaddy Division.
In June 2007, Than Lwin, an NLD member who was elected as a representative
for Madaya Township, Mandalay Division, in 1990 was attacked after praying
for the release of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Than Lwin is currently in
April 2, Irrawaddy
Burmese electorate still waits to see constitution text
Just weeks before the planned May referendum on the proposed new
constitution, the Burmese electorate has still not been issued with the
text of the document, although photocopies and electronic versions are
secretly circulating among journalists, senior government officials and
diplomats in Rangoon.
Information about the referendum is notably absent in ethnic areas, where
people are being offered temporary citizen identity cards and urged to
According to the text of the 194-page draft constitution obtained by The
Irrawaddy, some minority rights are guaranteed. In Chapter II, titled "The
State Structure," the draft document states that Burma is composed of
seven statesKachin, Kayeh, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shanand seven
regions: Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyawaddy, Sagaing, Taninthayi, Bago and
"Self-administered" zones and divisions are listed in some regions and
statesNaga in Sagaing region, Danu, Pa-O, Palaung, Kokang and Wa in Shan
The draft constitution speaks of a parliament, called Pyidaungsu Hluttaw
(Union Assembly), comprises two chambers: Pyithu Hluttaw (People's
Assembly), composed of representatives elected on the basis of population
and army representatives, and Amyotha Hluttaw (National Assembly),
comprising representatives of different states, regions and of the armed
The military has a quota of 110 out of 440 seats in the People's Assembly
and 56 of the 224 seats in the National Assembly. The constitution
legitimizes a military takeover in the event of an emergency. It would
empower the president to transfer legislative, executive and judicial
powers to the militarys commander in chief for a year if a state of
Observers say that, taking advantage of a lack of unity and of the
internal rift among ethnic rebel groups, the military wants to see if it
can pressure them to lay down their arms and turn them into local security
Khun Sai, of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News, said that
Burmas regime is stepping up its efforts to persuade armed ethnic groups
to disarm and to form political parties so they can run in the general
election planned for 2010.
In February, two senior leaders of the ruling junta, Maj-Gen Khin Aung
Myint, Minister for Culture, and Lt-Gen Ye Myint, head of Military Affairs
Security, visited the Burma-China border, where they held talks with Wa,
Kachin, Shan and Kokang armed insurgent groups. They reportedly asked the
ethnic leaders to disarm their armies.
So far, there has been no immediate reply from the ceasefire groups, who
have also refrained from comment on the draft constitution.
Aung Kyaw Zaw, China-Burma border-based political analyst, said there
appeared to be three factions among the ethnic ceasefire groups: the
octogenarian leaders who want to retire from the politics; others who want
to maintain their business interests and "good relations" with the junta;
and officers who want to prepare their troops to be ready to fight against
the Burmese army if necessary.
Recently, Gen Aung Naing, the aging army chief of the Thai-Burmese
border-based ethnic Mon ceasefire group, the New Mon State Party (NMSP),
visited Rangoon for disarmament talks with the Burmese military
government, according to Mon sources.
April 2, Asia Tribune
25 per cent of Burma's Karenni State internally displaced
Higher percentage of population displaced than in Sudan, Iraq, Uganda,
Colombia or the Democratic Republic of Congo(Over one quarter of the
Karenni population of eastern Burma has been forced from their homes due
to years of military oppression, a figure expected to increase as
militarisation of the state continues unabated, according to a new report
from Burma Issues.
In Karenni State, located in eastern Burma, 81,000 villagers are currently
internally displaced, representing 27 per cent of the state's population.
Between 70 and 80 per cent of those displaced are women and children.
What is needed is Thailand's immediate action to enable international
support for cross-border aid and for the governments of SE Asia, China and
India to support a UN Security Council Resolution on Burma, Khu Thaw Reh,
Mae Hong Son Area Coordinator for Burma Issues, a non-governmental
organization working in Thailand, said.
IDPs in Karenni State face severe food shortages, inadequate shelter,
cannot access health care or education services and are vulnerable to
violence and exploitation from Burmese soldiers,said Khu Thaw Reh said.
He urged Burma to move quickly into genuine dialogue with ethnic groups to
address issues of human rights and socio-economic grievances.
Unarmed villagers are forced to flee their homes to escape military
attacks and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Burmese army, while
others are forced from their homes to make way for income generating
projects benefiting the military junta. Over the last five years the
number of internally displaced persons in Karenni State has increased by
42 per cent, a number expected to increase if the situation continues to
worsen, according to Khu Thaw Reh.
Sudan, Colombia, Iraq, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have
the five largest displaced populations in the world. In Sudan nearly 13
per cent of the population is displaced, Colombia 8.5 per cent, Iraq over
6 per cent, Uganda over 6.5 per cent, and in the Democratic Republic of
Congo nearly 2 per cent.
The percentage of the population displaced in Karenni State is twice as
high as the level in Sudan which has the world's largest internally
displaced population, however, they receive little assistance or
international attention, Khu Thaw Reh said.
Displaced people in Karenni State need humanitarian assistance urgently,
but they also need a genuine solution to their displacement crisis which
involves a significant change to Burma's political, economic and social
systems, he said.
Living Ghosts: The spiraling repression of the Karenni population under
the Burmese military junta, a new report released by Burma Issues,
documents the worsening situation for the Karenni people over the past six
years, including reduced access to health care and education, the impact
of increased growth of poppies and production of synthetic drugs in the
state, and the ongoing oppression by both state and non-state armies. This
in-depth report is based on interviews with villagers, surveys and
observations from Burma Issues field staff collected between 2001 and
2007, and documents the threat to regional and international security.
April 2, Mizzima News
USDA a stooge of Burmese junta: Opposition researchers
In order to maintain its illegitimate stranglehold on the country, the
Burmese military junta has created Burma's only civil society group the
Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) to use it to shore up
its reign, an opposition group said.
The Thailand based Network for Democracy and Development in a report
released on Monday said, the junta effectively uses the USDA to suppress
opposition activities. It called the civil organization a stooge of the
Htay Aung from Research and Documentation department of NDD said, "The
organization is at the forefront in attacking and defaming pro-democracy
and opposition activists who are struggling against the evil military
"The USDA even resorts to violence against opposition groups in many cases
and support the junta in perpetuating its power," Htay Aung said.
The report, titled 'USDA or Pillar of Military Dictatorship', documented
details of how USDA members brutally attacked Burmese pro-democracy leader
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade on May 30, 2003 at Depeyin in central
Burma, and the monk led protest in Pakokku in August 2007 and saffron
revolution in September 2007.
The 100-page report includes five chapters which details the USDA's
involvement in various fields including education, economics and
government departments. The report says USDA members are used to organize
sham mass rallies, mass meetings against opposition groups, and in support
of the junta's plans.
The NDD said the report was compiled on the information based on
interviews with 20 USDA members and first had accounts of former USDA
members, who fled to the Thai-Burmese border.
"We present in this report how the USDA is preparing for the ensuing
constitutional referendum and gearing up for holding the general elections
in 2010," Htay Aung said.
The Burmese military regime inaugurated the national convention for the
first time on January 9, 1993. The USDA was formed within two weeks of the
inauguration of national convention and was registered as a social
organization, not a political one.
The NDD further said that facts reveal that in the past 15 years the USDA
has been used as a tool by the junta for the perpetuation of its power
despite the claim of being just a national organization.
April 2, Mizzima
Junta arrests more opposition members Phanida
In yet another example of the junta's continuing brutal crackdown on
dissidents, sources say Burmese authorities on Tuesday arrested two more
Burmese opposition members.
Tin Myint and Tun Aung, both members of Burma's main opposition party
National League for Democracy, remain in custody since being taken for
interrogation on Tuesday night by Special Branch Police, a NLD youth
member told Mizzima.
The NLD youth said Special Branch Police detained Tin Myint, chairman of
the Thingankyun Township NLD, and Tun Aung, a youth member of the
Thingankyun NLD, at about 11:00 p.m. (local time).
"Both of them have not returned home. We don't know who the police were;
they just said they were on duty. We still don't know where the two of
them are being kept," the NLD youth added.
Burmese authorities commonly fail to inform family members of the
whereabouts of those taken for interrogation, leaving relatives alone to
contemplate the fate of loved ones.
Similarly, on March 30, several NLD members including Aung Than Tun, Aung
Kyaw, Ye Zaw Htike, Tin Oo Maung and Khin Soe were reportedly arrested in
On Monday, Amnesty International condemned Burma's ruling junta for
arresting and sentencing activists involved in last year's August and
Amnesty International reported that the government has conducted at least
forty secret trials of protestors inside prisons.
April 2, Narinjara News
Anti-referendum flyers spread in Southern Arakan
Anti-referendum flyers have been spreading in some townships in southern
Arakan but no one knows who is responsible for the distribution in the
A local resident told Narinjara yesterday over the phone that the
authority always blames the opposition politicians when such incidents
take place in the area, but this time he heard the plan was being
conducted by ordinary people. In the township, the sentiment of people
against the military government is high due to the hardship of daily life,
so the people are creating the anti-referendum flyers and distributing
them in the area.
The anti-referendum flyers were distributed secretly by unknown
individuals in Taungup three days ago, as well as on the motor road
between Taungup and Thandwe; both townships are located in southern
In the flyers, the anonymous protestors urged the public not to cast "yes"
votes in the referendum because the constitution is not to the advantage
of the Burmese people, and will only allow the Burmese army to rule the
country continually. People are urged to be united against the upcoming
Another source from Taungup said that the dissatisfaction of the Arakanes
people with the military government has been increasing by the day because
people are facing more and more hardships in surviving. They added that at
any time the discontent may explode and the peoples' revolution could
emerge again in Burma.
April 2, Democratic Voice of Burma
Prisoners offered sentence reductions to vote Yes Naw Say Phaw
Prison authorities in Insein prison are reportedly trying to convince
inmates to support the national referendum in May in exchange for an early
According to a family member who visited an inmate yesterday, prison
authorities have told prisoners their sentences could be reduced if they
agree to vote in favour of the new constitution after their release.
Theyre collecting the prisoners ID card numbers and telling them they
will reduce their prison sentences if they support the national referendum
after their release, the family member said.
Under the referendum law introduced in February, people serving prison
terms for any offence are ineligible to vote while they are detained.
April 2, Xinhua
Myanmar to benefit from establishment of foreign branch technical
The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) of Singapore will open a branch
institution in Myanmar, aiming to nurture more Myanmar experts in the
future, a local weekly reported in this week's issue.
The move of the ITE, an institution recognized by the Singapore Education
Ministry as well as the international, is being assisted by a Myanmar
domestic education company, the Voice said.
Such Singapore branch technical institution will resemble Myanmar's
technical high school (THS), it said.
Myanmar student who wins ITE diploma certificate, can continue to join
Singapore Polytechnic School and the National University of Singapore for
further pursuit of bachelor degree with technical subject.
The ITE was established in 1992 and has branch institutions in Vietnam and
China, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and a biggest Myanmar
business organization have been negotiating since the last two years to
open a center of the AIT in Myanmar, according to an earlier local report.
A memorandum of understanding on introducing a satellite campus of the AIT
is being expected to be signed between the AIT and the Union of Myanmar
Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the United Network
which is a representative of the AIT in Myanmar.
According to the sources, major subjects to be taught at the AIT Myanmar
center will be those which will support the development of mechanical
engineering, and currently feasible subjects are recommended as industrial
engineering, project management and construction and infrastructure.
Scholarship donors will be sought from some oil companies, it said, adding
that at present, aid is being obtained from governments of some donor
countries such as Thailand, Japan, France, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and
the Netherlands as well as the Asian Development Bank and the European
The sources disclosed that a total of 400 Myanmar students have graduated
from the AIT so far.
Located in Thailand, the AIT was established in 1959, standing as a top
international institute in Asia. It has a center in Vietnam.
Besides, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and
Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), based in Los Banos, the Philippines, has
also offered scholarships for qualified Myanmar graduates to help the
country train more agricultural experts, according to the Ministry of
he scholarships were for master and doctorate degrees for the 2007-08
The number of such scholarships allocated to Myanmar had risen to at least
five slots since 2006-07, it said, adding that winner shave the choice of
studying at universities in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia or
SEARCA was established in 1965 to enhance cooperation among countries in
the region through educational, scientific and cultural activities.
Moreover, a Malaysia-based university, the Lim Kokwing University College
of Creative Technology, also offered the first diploma course in Myanmar
in 2006 which mainly covers information and communications technology
(ICT) and business development and the course were conducted at some
education centers in Yangon and Mandalay.
Furthermore, Thailand is also cooperating with Myanmar on higher
education, offering scholarship for qualified Myanmar students to study in
Thai universities as part of its move to help globalization educationally.
Observers here said through establishment of foreign branch technical
institutions in Myanmar and offer of foreign education scholarships to
Myanmar students as well as its own efforts in the aspects, the country's
education level would be raised to a new high in a shorter period.
ON THE BORDER
April 2, Narinjara News
Dhaka - Naypyidaw border talks end without decision
The two-day talks by the technical committees on the redrawing of the
maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar were finished in Dhaka on
Tuesday without any major decision being reached, according to a report.
The two sides have agreed to carry out a joint survey of the sea boundary,
and to meet in Rangoon sometime in June to reach a final decision.
MAK Mahmood, additional foreign secretary and chief of the Bangladesh
delegation said, "We would meet again in Myanmar to resolve all issues."
"The process is to be continued and the dialogue between the two neighbors
will go on. The agreement has not yet reached a consensus on all issues,"
said a Bangladesh official.
Bangladesh and Burma resumed the boundary talks after a break of 22 years.
The two countries met on maritime borders to finalize their rights to the
sea in the continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea.
Burma needs to delineate sea borders by 2009, per the UNCLOS, while
Bangladesh will have to draw its borders by 2011.
The sea delimitation is important for both Bangladesh and Burma, as both
countries have been planning to conduct oil and gas exploration in the Bay
The ten-member Burmese team, led by Commodore Maung Oo Lwin, met with
Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Secretary Md Touhid Hossain in his offices
yesterday, and the Burmese team is expected to leave Dhaka to return home
BUSINESS / TRADE
April 2, Nasdaq via Agence-France Press
N Korea exporting multiple-launch rockets to Myanmar
North Korea has started exporting multiple-launch rockets to
military-ruled Myanmar, after the two nations agreed to normalize ties
last year, a Japanese television report said Wednesday.
The weapons exports are in violation of economic sanctions imposed on
North Korea after the communist state conducted a nuclear test in October
2006, Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported, citing unnamed diplomatic
It said "full-scale" exports of the weapons had been handled by an unnamed
Singapore trading company.
Multiple-launch rockets are 24 centimeters in diameter and about one meter
long, each with a range of about 65 kilometers, the report said.
NHK didn't give any further details.
North Korea and Myanmar agreed in April to restore relations. Yangon
severed ties in 1983 following a failed assassination attempt by North
Korean agents on then-South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan during his
visit to Myanmar.
The bombing killed 17 of Chun's entourage including cabinet ministers,
along with four Myanmar officials.
Myanmar and North Korea have been branded "outposts of tyranny" by the
U.S., which imposes sanctions on both countries.
April 2, Reuters
Myanmar's Yetagun gas pipeline leaking - PTTEP
An offshore gas pipeline from Myanmar's Yetagun gas field is leaking,
causing a loss of supplies to Thailand of about 400-500 million cubic feet
per day (cfd), Thai shareholder PTTEP said on Wednesday.
PTT Exploration and Production PCL PTTE.BK was informed of the leak on
Tuesday and Malaysia's Petronas, operator of the gas-rich field in the
Gulf of Martaban, was trying to find the cause, chief executive officer
Anon Sirisaengtaksin told Reuters.
"They are investigating the reasons and we have to wait for information
from Myanmar," Anon said without eloborating.
PTTEP, a subsidiary of top energy firm PTT PCL PTT.BK, owns 19.3 percent
of the Yetagun gas field and Petronas has a 40.9 percent stake.
Other shareholders include Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and Nippon Oil
PTTEP operates five blocks in Myanmar and is a minority partner in the
Yetagun and Yadana gas developments. About 1.1 billion cfd of gas output
from the two fields is exported to Thailand. ($1 = 31.50 Baht) (Reporting
by Pisit Changplayngam; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Michael
April 2, The Earth Times
Stalls, restaurants turning to Myanmar for cheaper rice
Hawkers and restaurant owners are switching to rice from Myanmar instead
of more expensive imports from Thailand to cope with global increases in
rice prices, news reports said Wednesday. "Supplies seem stable for now,
but the world's demand is on Thailand's shoulders," The Straits Times
quoted Saga Footstuffs managing director Goh Hock Ho as saying.
His firm is expecting about 350 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar this
month after buying none in March. The grain from Myanmar is about 200
Singapore dollars (144 US dollars) cheaper per 50 kilogram bag than from
Importers are trying to ensure supplies remain stable by sourcing from
Major rice importer FairPrice brings in grain from India, Vietnam and
Last year, the city-state imported 326,854 tonnes of rice - 60 per cent
from Thailand, another 30 per cent from India and Vietnam and the
remaining 10 per cent from 15 other countries.
Restaurants and hawker stall operators are also looking for other ways to
cut costs, the report said. A check of 15 restaurants and hawker centres
by The Straits Times found that seven had taken action, including cutting
back on labour and electricity and dishing out smaller portions.
Others have switched to lower grades of rice.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry said that current supplies make it
unnecessary to draw on Singapore's national rice stockpile, enough to see
the city-state through three months in an emergency.
Some importers fear that Thailand will cut exports.
"Thailand has not said anything about stopping exports, but they are
feeling the pressure because of the overwhelming demand," said rice
importer Goh Hock Ho.
Not all cost-cutting measures have worked. The owner of a chicken rice
store received complaints from customers after he switched last month to a
lower grade of rice.
They complained that the rice tasted less fragrant, "so I switched back
after three weeks," he said.
April 2, Associated Press
India to build Myanmar port Gavin Rabinowitz
India will build a $120 million seaport and transportation system in
Myanmar under a deal signed Wednesday, officials said as India pressed
ahead with investment in its much-criticized neighbor.
India has been investing in Myanmar despite international calls for
sanctions on the Southeast Asian country's military government, which
violently suppressed pro-democracy protests several months ago.
The second-highest ranking member of Myanmar's ruling junta, Senior Gen.
Maung Aye, signed the deal with Indian Vice president Mohammad Hamid
Ansari during the Myanmar official's visit to India, according to a
statement from India's Foreign Ministry.
The statement gave no details of the deal. Indian officials earlier said
the $120 million Kaladan project would see India upgrade waterways and
highways along Myanmar's Kaladan River and develop the port of Sittway in
the country's northwest.
"This project will greatly enhance connectivity between Myanmar and India,
in particular with India's northeast states," the statement said.
India has established deep economic and military ties with the junta over
the past decade and has said it believes talking quietly is a better
approach than sanctions.
The agreement was signed the same day as Myanmar democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi's opposition party urged voters to reject a military-backed draft
constitution, saying it was undemocratic and drafted under the junta's
The junta has also announced general elections in 2010.
The statement quoted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying
Myanmar needs to speed up its promised democratization process and make it
include all sections of society including Suu Kyi.
India shifted its policy from supporting Suu Kyi to engaging the generals
in the early 1990s, partly due to a desire for access to Myanmar's large
natural gas reserves.
The transportation system will give India greater access to the reserves,
which India needs to fuel its rapid economic growth.
India has also recently sought to bolster its influence in Myanmar in an
attempt to counter China, which has become the junta's main ally.
In addition, India has been eager to secure the cooperation of the Myanmar
military to help contain separatist groups fighting New Delhi's rule in
northeastern India near the Myanmar border. Several of the groups have set
up bases across the 830-mile border and used them to launch attacks in
April 2, Independent Mon News Agency
High time for distribution of draft constitution: Burma Lawyers' Council
The Burma Lawyers' Council has urged Burmese military junta to distribute
the draft constitution to the Burmese people immediately before the
referendum in May, said a statement released yesterday.
The people only have about one month to learn of the contents of the
constitution and decide whether they should support it or go against it.
"The onus is on the regime to distribute the draft constitution as soon as
possible. The time of holding the constitution is very close and they must
allow the people to see and read the constitution," said the statement.
Last month, the junta set up a commission for a nationwide constitutional
referendum and they have begun campaigning among civil servants and people
across the country to vote positively.
According to the people the commission has not talked about the
constitution during the campaign. But the commission insisted that the
people must support the constitution unless they want to wait another
decade for elections.
Burma has had no constitution since 1988 and the junta took 14 years to
draft the current constitution.
April 2, Reuters
West seeks new U.N. council statement on Myanmar Patrick Worsnip
Western states are seeking to have the U.N. Security Council issue a new
statement on Myanmar, stepping up pressure on the Asian country's military
government ahead of a key constitutional referendum.
A draft of the statement, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, regrets slow
progress by the junta in meeting previous council demands for political
dialogue and release of political prisoners and calls for planned
elections to be open to all candidates.
Diplomats said the draft had been written by the United States and agreed
upon with Britain and France. But they said work was continuing on the
text before it was to be circulated to all 15 council members, probably in
the next few days.
While not binding, so-called presidential statements by the council
require the assent of all members and an earlier statement, issued on
October 11, jolted Myanmar because it was agreed to by China, generally
seen as an ally of the junta.
That statement came shortly after Myanmar's government cracked down on
monk-led pro-democracy protests. China will also have to be persuaded to
back the new statement, which would come a month before the referendum, a
key step in a much criticized plan by the junta to restore civilian rule.
Despite reluctance by China and some other council members to criticize
Myanmar too openly, U.S. diplomats expressed confidence a statement would
be adopted. "We expect there to be a (presidential statement)," deputy
permanent representative Alejandro Wolff told reporters on Wednesday.
The draft "regrets the slow rate of progress towards meeting" expectations
expressed in the October 11 statement.
It said that if the May referendum and elections planned for 2010 were to
be "inclusive and credible," the junta must "allow full participation of
all political actors," including detained opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi. It called on the military to move quickly to a genuine dialogue with
Promises by the junta that the referendum would be free and fair "must be
followed by action, including the guarantee of freedoms of expression,
association and assembly" and the vote must be subject to independent
monitoring, it said.
The proposed new constitution would ban Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize
laureate, from standing for election because she was once married to a
foreigner. Her party, the main opposition in Myanmar, called on Wednesday
for a "no" vote in the poll.
U.N. efforts to promote change in Myanmar have been entrusted to special
envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who has made three visits there since last
Following his last visit, from March 6-10, he told the Security Council he
was disappointed "that this latest visit did not yield any immediate
(Editing by Todd Eastham)
April 2, Kaladan Press Network
Rohingyas participate in demonstration in Brighton, UK
A peaceful demonstration was held on March 30 at Brighton City , UK
expressing support and solidarity with the Rohingya people, Burmese
Muslims and people of Tibet , according to Tun Khin of the Burmese
Rohingya Organization in UK .
It was organized by Interfaith Group in cooperation with Burmese Rohingya
Organisation, UK (BROUK) and Burmese Muslim Association UK (BMA).
A total of about 400 people took part in the demonstration, including
members of the Rohingya and Burmese Muslim communities living in the
United Kingdom , and local people.
The demonstrators, holding aloft posters, started the peace walk at 12
p.m. and marched through the streets of Brighton from Churchill Square to
the Brighton Pier. Talks detailing grave human rights violations against
Rohingya and Burmese Muslims were given by Mr. Stephen Hendry of Inter
Faith group, the President of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
Nurul Islam and President of the Burmese Muslim Association Kyaw Zwa,
elites of the city, including the Councilor of Brighton.
The speakers expressed serious concern on the deprivation of Burmese
citizenship of Muslims, particularly the stateless status of the Rohingya
people of Arakan.
The speakers added that Burmese Muslims are discriminated by the military
regime which is pursuing a de-Muslimization policy in the country and are
made targets of large scale human rights violations. They also deplored
the serious situation in Tibet .
The speakers demanded an end to the persecution of Rohingya and Muslims
communities in Burma , to lift bans and restrictions on the freedom of
their movement, marriage, education and trade and business; and to stop
forthwith the destruction of their settlements and houses, mosques and
religious schools. They termed the crimes against humanity perpetrated
against Rohingya as slow-burning genocide.
They condemned the SPDC's undemocratic draft constitution while demanding
the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma through tripartite
dialogue. They also condemned killing of innocent people in Tibet and
urged the Chinese government to exercise maximum restraint and to initiate
a dialogue with Dalai Lama without pre-conditions, Kyaw Zwa, the president
of the Burmese Muslim Association said.
April 2, National League for Democracy
Appeal to the people of Burma on the upcoming referendum
(1) The draft constitution, which will be put forward to vote in the
upcoming referendum, was not written by the elected Peoples
(2) It was written unilaterally by the people who were selected by the
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
(3) Furthermore, it is not in line with the fundamental principle of
democracy that State sovereign power should ascend from the people and
therefore, it will not guarantee democracy and human rights, which the
entire people of Burma are enthusiastically wishing for.
(4) The history of our country and of the world proves that no
organization that governs the country will last long and be stable without
the support of the people.
(5) Therefore, we urge the people from all walks of life, ethnic
nationalities and organizations to go to the polling stations without fail
and to decisively cast a 'NO' vote.
According to the decision made by the Central Executive Committee in the
meetings on 20 March 2008 and 31 March 2008
Central Executive Committee
National League for Democracy
April 2, Amnesty International
Amnesty research shows demonstrators jailed in Burma
New Amnesty research reveals at least 40 demonstrators have been jailed,
including seven monks
Six months after the authorities violently suppressed demonstrations in
Burma, at least 40 protesters, including seven monks, have been given
prison sentences, according to new research by Amnesty International.
Just as the government of Burma has attempted to divert international
attention away from last Septembers crackdown towards its constitutional
referendum, so too has it redirected its suppression of legitimate protest
from the public streets into closed courtrooms, said Amnesty
International. Just as the referendum is the governments effort to
legitimise military rule in Burma, the handing down of prison terms is its
attempt to justify its violent crackdown on peaceful dissent.
In contrast to the reasons for their prosecution publicly stated by the
government in late 2007, Amnesty International is of the opinion that the
sentences have either been clearly politically motivated or on account of
protesters peaceful exercise of their human rights.
Burma state media announced on 7 November 2007 that legal action would be
taken against people involved in violence and terrorist acts in one way
or another. On 3 December, Burma Police Chief Khin Yi announced at a
press conference that only those individuals involved in arson or the
possession of illegal weapons will be brought to trial.
Not a single sentence has been on account of the otherwise legitimate
reasons stated by the authorities, but rather for peacefully exercising
their right to freedom of expression and assembly; three people were
sentenced merely for giving water to monks on the street, said Amnesty
Amnesty International confirms the following sentences since late September:
�� On 1 October, Ko Kyauk Khe (also known as Ko Aung San
Oo), NLD member in Magwe Division, was sentenced to two years imprisonment
under Section 505(b) of the penal code for making statements conducing to
public mischief in late September. This was the maximum sentence for this
particular offence. He reportedly shouted a pro-Buddhist slogan in a local
video house after watching footage of the crackdown on foreign media, and
made further political statements during his trial.
�� On 11 October, Ko Soe Win, a Human Rights Defenders and
Promoters Group member in Rakhine State, was sentenced to four years
imprisonment under Sections 295A and 505(b) of the penal code for
insulting religion and creating a public disturbance. In the wake of the
authorities violent attack on monks in Pakokku on 5 September, he held a
placard outside the town market calling for the release of political
detainees and the expulsion of Sr. Gen. Than Shwe from the Buddhist faith.
�� On 7 November, Thet Oo, 39, Zaw Htun, 34, and U Myint
Aye, all members of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Group in Bago
Division, as well as monk U Pannihtha, were sentenced to two years
imprisonment under either Section 5(j) of the 1950 Emergency Provisions
Act or Section 505(b) of the penal code for acting with intent to affect
the morality or conduct of the public or a group of people in a way that
would undermine the security of the Union or the restoration of law and
order. They took part in the September protests, distributed materials,
and spoke to the media.
�� In late November, U Zantila, abbot of Zantila Rama
monastery, was sentenced to two years in prison for defamation of the
government after writing a letter of complaint about the seizure of money
from the monastery during a raid by the authorities. He was also
reportedly disrobed by the authorities.
�� On 21 December, Shwe Thway was sentenced to two and a
half years imprisonment, while Ko Zaw Gyi and Ko Yazay were sentenced to
two years, for giving water to protesting monks in September. They are
residents of Sagaing Division, and reportedly were not otherwise
politically active or affiliated.
At least 700 people arrested during and since the September protests
remain behind bars, while 1,150 political prisoners held prior to the
protests have not been released.
The recent sentencing of protestors involved in last Septembers
crackdown should also be viewed in light of the arbitrary detention of the
remaining 660 or more people who have now spent six months behind bars
with no end in sight, said Amnesty International.
In light of the UN Human Rights Councils recent Resolution of 20 March
2008, Amnesty International urges the international community to pressure
Burma to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights
in Burma to conduct a fact-finding mission in Myanmar immediately.
In view of the recent visit to Burma of the UN Secretary-Generals Special
Advisor, which yielded no progress in the human rights situation there,
Amnesty International also urges the UN Security Council to pass a
resolution on Burma that reflects the concerns of its Presidential
Statement of 11 October 2007.
Rather than comply with the Security Councils appeals, the Myanmar
authorities have instead moved to the next phase of their crackdown and
suppression of the human rights of the Myanmar people with these
sentences. The Council cannot allow this to continue, said Amnesty
The full list of sentenced documented by Amnesty International can be
Amnesty International UK media information:
John Watson 0131 313 7012, john.watson at amnesty.org.uk
Niall Couper: 020 7033 1549, niall.couper at amnesty.org.uk
Out of hours: 07721 398984, www.amnesty.org.uk Contact: John Watson Phone:
0131 313 7012 Email: john.watson at amnesty.org.uk Website:
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