BurmaNet News, October 2, 2009
editor at burmanet.org
Fri Oct 2 14:43:49 EDT 2009
October 2, 2009 Issue #3811
AFP: Myanmar judges reject Suu Kyi's appeal: lawyers
Irrawaddy: Rangoon under tight security again
Mizzima News: ENC wants ethnic groups to contest 2010 elections
Mizzima News: US embassy to put up lawyers for detained citizen
ON THE BORDER
DVB: Thailand faces 'wave of Burmese refugees
SHAN: Junta and Wa: Do they have their numbers right?
Irrawaddy: Regime pressures traders not to increase prices
DVB: Thailand hails US policy shift
UN News Centre: Ongoing detention of Myanmars Suu Kyi a blow to
democratic efforts UN expert
Bloomberg (USA): China resists UN Security Council talks on Myanmar,
OPINION / OTHER
IPS: China warily watches US-Myanmar détente Larry Jagan
United Nation Human Rights Council: Statement A/HRC/12/L.32
Burma Center Delhi: Right Groups urged Sonia Gandhi to act for immediate
release of Aung San Suu Kyi and Free Burma
October 2, Agence France Presse
Myanmar judges reject Suu Kyi's appeal: lawyers Hla Hla Htay
Yangon A Myanmar court Friday rejected an appeal by pro-democracy icon
Aung San Suu Kyi against her extended house arrest, just days after the US
re-engaged with the country's ruling junta.
Judges at a divisional court in Yangon upheld the Nobel Laureate's
conviction, her lawyer said, over an incident in which an American man
swam uninvited to her home, earning her an extra 18 months in detention.
"The appeal was rejected but we will take it to the high court," said Suu
Kyi's lawyer and the spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD)
party, Nyan Win, after the hearing.
Asked whether he was disappointed, the lawyer said Suu Kyi might have a
better chance at Myanmar's high court.
Suu Kyi was not present for the verdict, which was delivered amid tight
security with uniformed and plain-clothes policemen patrolling the area.
Military-ruled Myanmar has faced intense international pressure to free
the opposition leader, especially from the United States which Tuesday
held its highest-level talks with Myanmar in nearly a decade.
The Obama administration's decision to start a dialogue with Myanmar came
after years of stalemate proved unproductive. But Washington has warned
against lifting sanctions until the junta moves on democracy.
The US side demanded the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners
when it met with the Myanmar delegation in New York, according to Kurt
Campbell, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs.
Suu Kyi's lawyers had hoped for her unconditional release, but the appeal
result was as expected, according to a Bangkok-based European diplomat.
"The facts on the ground remain that she remains locked up. It shows that
(the junta) are not ready to compromise on anything or bow to whatever new
initiative has been launched," the diplomat said.
In August, a court at Yangon's notorious Insein prison sentenced the frail
64-year-old to three years' hard labour, but junta chief Than Shwe reduced
that to 18 months' house arrest.
Two female assistants living with Suu Kyi received the same sentence and
also lost their appeals on Friday.
John Yettaw, the eccentric American who triggered the debacle by swimming
to Suu Kyi's lakeside mansion in May, was sentenced to seven years' hard
labour in August, but the regime freed him following a visit by US Senator
Suu Kyi's extended house arrest will keep her off the scene for elections
promised by the regime for 2010, adding to widespread criticism that the
polls are a sham designed to legitimise the junta's grip on power.
The NLD won the country's last elections by a landslide in 1990, which the
ruling generals refused to acknowledge, leading the US and European Union
to impose sanctions.
After meeting the Myanmar delegation in New York on Tuesday, Campbell said
that "lifting or easing sanctions at the outset of a dialogue without
meaningful progress on our concerns would be a mistake".
"There were certainly no breakthroughs, but a very clear determination
that dialogue was possible on the side of Burma," added Campbell, using
Myanmar's former name.
Suu Kyi welcomed US plans to begin a dialogue and has recently eased her
stance on sanctions, after years of espousing punitive measures against
the ruling generals.
Nyan Win said last week that she has written to regime leader Than Shwe,
offering suggestions about how to get Western sanctions against the
Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962, with brutal crackdowns on
anti-junta protests in 1988 and 2007.
October 2, Irrawaddy
Rangoon under tight security again Wai Moe
The Burmese military junta has again tightened security in Rangoon to
quell any potential unrest over the political and economic situation, say
sources in Rangoon.
The All Burma Monks Alliance, which led the peaceful mass street
demonstrations in September 2007, recently issued a statement calling for
the government to apologize for its brutal confrontation with monks in
Pakokku two years ago, in which hundreds of monks were beaten and injured,
and to release all monks who were imprisoned after September 2007.
The monk alliance set an Oct. 3 deadline for the military regime to
If the junta fails to comply, the alliance said it will start another
boycott of alms offered by all military and government personnel, known in
Buddhism as patta ni kozana kan.
Last month was the second anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, which
lead to multiple deaths and injuries when demonstrators, led by monks and
nuns, took to the streets.
Friday is also the day a new 5,000 kyat banknote was introduced by the
government. Many residents have expressed fears about its affect on the
value of the kyat.
On the first day of the distribution of the new banknote, the price of the
kyat fell slightly and consumer prices fluctuated modestly.
Before the new bank note, one US dollar was about 1,050 kyat. Now one
dollar is around 1,080, said a currency broker in Rangoon.
Sources said that beginning Friday morning extra security forces began to
appear at various strategic locations downtown.
I saw 16 riot police vehicles near the Rangoon City Hall today, said a
student activist, who noted that extra security forces were also located
near parks and busy intersections.
Other sources said Chinese-made trucks carrying riot police patrolled city
On Friday, a Rangoon Division Court rejected the appeal of pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but there were no demonstrations.
October 2, Mizzima News
ENC wants ethnic groups to contest 2010 elections Mungpi
New Delhi - A group of Burmas ethnic political organizations in exile
the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) - has urged US Senator James Webb
not to condemn the juntas 2010 election before it takes place but to call
for more inclusiveness and for it to be free and fair.
In a letter to Sen. Webb, a strong advocate of engagement with the Burmese
regime, two days before he hosted a Congressional hearing on Burma, the
ENC urged the Virginian Senator that the US can best help by Not
condemning the 2010 elections before they are held.
But instead call for a more inclusive election process that will be free
and fair. Electoral assistance can be offered either directly or
indirectly through neighbouring countries, said the letter dated
September 28, 2009.
The letter, a copy of which is in Mizzimas possession, was sent to
Senator Webb in appreciation for his interest in the Burma issue and as an
explanation on the nature of the complex problems of Burmas diverse
Webb on Wednesday hosted a Congressional hearing on Burma where four
experts gave their testimony on what should be the policy of the US
towards Burma and the potential role that the US can play in bringing
change in the military-ruled Southeast Asian nation.
The letter signed by Saw David Thaw, General Secretary of the ENC, states
that in principle ethnic nationalities in Burma cannot accept the
juntas 2008 constitution and does not believe that the 2010 elections
will lead to democracy.
But the ENC argues that since the ethnics are left with little or no
choice, they will have to participate in the elections, because If there
are no opposition parties, the militarys candidates will win by default.
The military (and the majority ethnic Burman) candidates will then
become the elected representatives of the seven ethnic states.
Besides, the ENC said, if the ethnic armed ceasefire groups refuse to
participate, they will be forced to revert to armed struggle, which will
then cause further complications.
Burma under the current administration has seven states, which are home to
seven major ethnic groups, and seven divisions, which have no particular
attachment to any ethnic groups but are mostly known as habitats of the
In view of the ENCs policy of ethnic groups having a voice in Burmas
national politics, participating in governance and development of their
homelands, the letter urged Senator Webb not to condemn the 2010 elections
until it takes place but to urge the Burmese junta to make it more
inclusive and free and fair.
The letter also states that the US can best help the people of Burma by
providing assistance in civic education on elections and helping civil
organizations that are educating potential political candidates on how to
run for office and on democratic governance. And also to support groups
that are educating the people about their rights and preparing local
organizations on how to monitor the forthcoming elections.
The letter, which for the first time reveals ENCs policy, states that
ENCs short-term policy is to support eligible ethnic groups in running
for office in the 2010 elections.
It also said the ENCs long-term policy is to develop a robust civil
society that will be capable of holding an elected government accountable
to the people.
While the Burmese military will remain in control after the 2010
elections, it is our hope that representatives elected by the people will
be able to help hold the military accountable to their own constitution,
said the letter.
It is also our hope that the new government will be more open to
negotiating a political solution with the ethnic groups that are still
engaged in armed struggle, added the letter.
In contrast to the ENCs policy, the Committee Representing Peoples
Parliament (CRPP), a group formed with 1990 election winning parties, said
unless the regime amends the 2008 constitution, the elections would be
meaningless and the CRPP would not contest.
Aye Thar Aung, Secretary of the CRPP, told Mizzima on Friday, Without
amending the 2008 constitution, the ethnics can do nothing even if they
participate and are elected. They would just end up as puppets of the
He said the CRPP as well as Aung San Suu Kyis party the National League
for Democracy have both demanded that the junta release political
prisoners, amend the 2008 constitution, and recognize the 1990 election
Unless these demands are met, we the CRPP and the ALD, will not
participate in the elections, Aye Thar Aung, who is also secretary for
the Arakan League for Democracy, said.
And without the junta fulfilling these demands, I would like to urge
ethnic groups and others not to participate in the elections, he added.
The CRPP, formed in September 1998, is an alliance of ethnic political
parties that won elections in 1990, which the junta refused to honour. Its
members include the NLD, ALD, Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD),
Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF) and Zomi National Congress (ZNC).
Burmas military rulers, as the fifth step of its seven-step roadmap to
democracy, said it will hold general elections in 2010, that will elect a
semi-civilian government based on the 2008 constitution, which according
to the junta was approved by over 90 per cent of voters in May last year.
Critics said the juntas roadmap is to buy-time and to cement the role of
military in Burmas future politics.
October 2, Mizzima News
US embassy to put up lawyers for detained citizen Mungpi
New Delhi The US embassy in Rangoon has got in touch with lawyers to
defend its detained citizen, Aung Kyaw Zaw, arrested on arrival in the
former Burmese capitals international airport on September 3.
Kyi Win, a high court advocate, on Friday told Mizzima that he was
contacted by the US embassy to defend Aung Kyaw Zaw (alias) Nyi Nyi Aung,
currently detained in Rangoons notorious Insein prison.
The embassy contacted us to defend him and offered us a fee equivalent to
the amount paid to the lawyer they had hired for John William Yettaw. But
we said we are willing to provide Pro Bono [free of charge] service,
Kyi Win said.
Kyi Win said the embassy had contacted him and his colleague Nyan Win,
with whom he teamed up to defend detained opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi, to take up Nyi Nyi Aungs case.
Both Kyi Win and Nyan Win are advocates practicing in the high court.
I dont know if Nyi Nyi Aung has been charged yet. I am yet to receive a
reply from the embassy, Kyi Win said.
While it is still not clear whether he has been charged and on what
grounds, a report in the state-run media the New Light of Myanmar
newspaper last week accused Nyi Nyi Aung of trying to instigate civil
unrest in cahoots with underground activists inside Burma.
The report also accused Nyi Nyi Aung of working together with several
Burmese organizations in exile including the Forum for Democracy in Burma
(FDB), the Student and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB) and alleged that he
had provided financial assistance to activists inside the country.
Nyi Nyi Aung was a student activist and was involved in the 1988
student-led uprising. He along with several other students fled to
Thailand in the wake of the military crackdown on protesters. Later he was
resettled in United States from Thailand and was naturalized as a US
Nyi Nyi Aung holds a valid US passport and had a legal social visit Visa
to Burma. He flew from Bangkok to Rangoon on September 3 on a TG flight.
Since his arrest, Nyi Nyi Aung was taken to several interrogation centres,
where he allegedly endured torture. He was finally taken to the Insein
prison. The US embassy spokesman said, Nyi Nyi Aung had complained of
ill-treatment during their meeting.
ON THE BORDER
October 2, Democratic Voice of Burma
Thailand faces 'wave of Burmese refugees Matt Cunningham
The Burmese refugee situation in Thailand may deteriorate as Burmas
ruling junta prepares for elections next year, an international refugee
group has warned.
A report released on Wednesday by Refugees International said that the
Burmese armys campaign to transform ethnic rebel groups, who populate the
countrys border areas, into border patrol forces could spark fighting.
The campaign has resulted in new tensions throughout regions of the
country already under de facto control of the ethnic armies and affiliated
political groups, the report said.
If the Burmese government pursues this border force policy aggressively,
Thailand could face more waves of refugees entering multiple regions of
The report cited fighting in Burmas eastern Karen state in June between
the junta-backed Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Karen
National Union (KNU), which forced some 4,000 refugees into Thailand.
Groups have warned that this could be an indication of what is to come if
the Burmese regime continues to pressure armed ethnic groups.
[The refugee situation] is largely going to depend on how the regime
proceeds and what their next step is going to be, said an official from
the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), adding that our expectations
are all over the place.
It could be anything, starting from the repatriation of people from
[Thailand] back to Burma to another extreme, which is tens of thousands of
new refugees fleeing
The official said however that the situation remains fluid and that all
possible outcomes of the border force campaign are being considered.
October 1, Shan Herald Agency for News
Junta and Wa: Do they have their numbers right?
Since the year 2000 the Burmese military has been conducting a series of
war games codenamed Sun Ye (Swooping Kite), ostensibly to defend Burma
against foreign invasions, but in reality, according to Network for
Democracy and Development (NDD), to fight against the countrys non-Burma
ethnic armed groups demanding more autonomy for their peoples.
The final plan to root out the 17 ceasefire groups was in fact approved at
the second tri-annual meeting in Rangoon in August 2004, according to one
of its reports.
Since then 4 ceasefire groups have been either eliminated or forced to
Palaung State Liberation Army (PSLA) and Shan State National Army
(SSNA) in 2005
Shan State Nationalities Peoples Liberation Front (SNPLO) in 2007
Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), better known as
the Kokang Army, last August
Among the remaining ceasefire groups, the strongest appears to be the
United Wa State Army (UWSA) with a reported strength of 25,000-35,000 plus
40,000 militia members. Against them is the 492,000 strong Burma Army,
reputedly the second largest land force in Southeast Asia.
But have both the Wa and the Burma Army gotten their numbers right?
Reports coming from inside Burma seem to place the answer in the negative.
The Lashio-based tri-annual intelligence report by the Northeastern Region
Command, dated 24 February 2009, says the 46 infantry battalions, 8
supporting battalions, 11 artillery battalions, 1 tank battalion and 1
armored battalion under its command were facing just 4,349 strong UWSA:
Main Wa bases in Panghsang and Pangwai 497
Artillery Brigade in Panghsang 860
318th Brigade in the north 1,496
418th Brigade in the west 1,496
The UWSAs other brigades: 468, 772, 775, 778, 518 and 248 are not counted
as they are outside the Northeastern Region Commands operational areas.
But if the 1,496 per brigade figure is taken for granted, the total
strength could be no more than 13,325. The actual strength is more likely
to be less as the 5 brigades along the Thai-Burma border: 772, 775, 778,
518 and 248 are all under strength.
Fortunately for the Wa, the Burma Army, according to insider reports, is
also way below its doctrinal strength.
During the October 2005 tri-annual meeting, Gen Thein Sein, then Adjutant
General, reported that 284 infantry battalions had less than 200 men and
220 others were between 200 and 300.
A few months ago, SHAN received a report that the combat strength for each
infantry battalion was fixed at 156.
However, the actual combat strength in the field today numbers only
between 60-120 per battalion, according to a ceasefire armys report.
This seems to be supported by Thein Sein, who was quoted in the 2005
report as saying, It is easier to find a new weapon than to find a new
Appropriately, the outcome of the upcoming conflict (if there is going to
be a conflict) between the Burma Army and the UWSA is likely to be decided
more by firepower than manpower, apart from fighting abilities.
Which may be easier said and done for both the Burma Army and the UWSAs
northern forces located along the Sino-Burma border. But not for the 5
brigades along the Thai-Burma border, struggling under a border blockade
by the Thai and Burma Army forces, all of which are finding it difficult
to make huge purchases of weapons and ammo.
Tainted by its heavy involvement in drugs, the 171st Military Region, as
the UWSAs southern brigades are collectively known, the group may be
forced to surrender or retreat into Thai territory to be disarmed when
their guns are empty, not unlike their Kokang ally in August.
One can only hope as the October deadline is drawing to a close that both
the Burma Army and the UWSA dont come to call each others bluff.
October 2, Irrawaddy
Regime pressures traders not to increase prices
Burmese traders are under increasing pressure from the military government
to keep their prices stable following Fridays introduction of the 5,000
kyat (US $5) banknote. Most gold and currency dealers continued to suspend
trading because of uncertainty about the effects of the arrival of the new
Rangoon sources say an emergency meeting of the Myanmar Gold Merchants and
Entrepreneurs Association and the Myanmar Rice Traders Association is
being held to discuss the question of price controls.
Burma's new 5,000 kyat bank notes are displayed in front of a portrait of
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon. (Photo: AP)
The new banknote, now Burmas largest denomination, began circulating on
Friday through government-owned banks, chiefly the Myawaddy Bank, owned by
the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, which comprises military
officials from the Ministry of Defense and war veterans.
"The bank issues the salaries for military officials and pensions for army
retirees, a Rangoon business journalist said.
Its feared in Burma that the addition of a 5,000 kyat banknote to the
countrys currency could create a spike in the inflation rate.
"A big outstanding issue is whether the issue of these notes is in
addition to the existing stock of notes or not," said Sean Turnell, an
economist at Australia's Macquarie University, who produces a regular
Burma Economic Watch report. "If there is a net addition to the money
stock because of this, then the issue of the new 5,000 kyat note will add
to Burma's inflation problem. It will, after all, simply be yet more
Traditionally, the Burmese junta has never announced how much money is in
circulation. The International Monetary Fund, however, estimates it to be
2,651.1 billion kyat at the official exchange rate. Burma's inflation rate
run at 26 percent in 2008.
Many businessmen and economic experts believe the government is
introducing the 5,000 kyat note to ease budget deficit problems created by
excessive spending. They point to the huge costs involved in building the
new administrative capital, Naypyidaw, the development of a planned cyber
city, Yadanabon, the planned nuclear research reactor and the construction
of tunnel complexes in Naypyidaw and other strategic sites.
There are consistent reports that the junta is keeping the Naypyidaw
building contractors waiting for their money. "Now the military government
would be able to pay their debt comfortably," a Rangoon-based businessman
Meanwhile, Burma's censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration
Division, has banned any critical or analytical press reports on the
issuance of the 5,000 kyat note. "The censorship board allows us to print
articles if they have a positive angle," an editor told The Irrawaddy.
October 2, Democratic Voice of Burma
Thailand hails US policy shift Francis Wade
Thailand has welcomed the announcement by the United States that it will
engage directly with the Burmese junta, and said that Burma has already
made positive steps toward reform.
A statement released by the Thai government said the policy change aims to
ensure Myanmar's [Burma] smooth transition towards democracy and
participation as a responsible member of the international community.
Thailand has long been an advocate of engagement with the Burmese junta,
and has rejected past calls from the US to implement sanctions on the
Bangkoks stance is in line with that of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, which follows a policy of non-interference in
the domestic affairs of member state.
The statement also heralded the recent prisoner amnesty in Burma as a
positive step in the right direction towards a democratic society.
Burma expert Thailands Payap University, Win Min, said that Thailands
support for the policy change wasnt surprising.
[Thailand has] been asking the US to engage, and to lift sanctions. They
got one thing, even though they didnt get lifting of sanctions, he said.
They see it as the beginning step that will lead to the revoking of
Speculation as to the reasons for greater US engagement with Burma has
surrounded recent debates about the policy shifting, with some observers
questioning whether the US was looking to draw Burma away from China and
Following talks with senior Burmese delegates in New York on Monday, US
state department official Kurt Campbell said that the meeting also
focused on emerging questions and concerns regarding Burmas relationship
with North Korea.
I dont think theyre worried about Burma being closer to the US, said
Win Min. I think theyre worried about them being closer to China that
was one of the main reasons why ASEAN included Burma.
October 2, UN News Centre
Ongoing detention of Myanmars Suu Kyi a blow to democratic efforts UN
Myanmars Government has missed an opportunity to prove its commitment to
holding inclusive elections by extending the house arrest of pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, effectively barring her from participating in
next years polls, says an independent United Nations human rights expert.
The continuation of her house arrest is a blow to the Governments
seven-step road map to democracy, Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special
Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, writes in a new
Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National
League for Democracy (NLD), was sentenced in August to an additional 18
months of house arrest. She was reportedly convicted of violating state
security laws after an uninvited United States citizen gained access to
Mr. Quintana, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council,
notes that the additional 18-month house arrest bars her from actively
participating in the national elections planned for 2010.
He regrets that the Government of Myanmar missed another opportunity to
prove its commitment to hold inclusive, free and fair elections.
In a report issued following his first visit to the country last year, Mr.
Quintana proposed that four core human rights elements be completed before
national elections are held in 2010.
They are the revision of domestic laws that limit fundamental rights, the
progressive release of the estimated 2,000 prisoners of conscience still
in detention, the reform and training of the military so that it conforms
with human rights, and changes to the judiciary so that it is fully
Mr. Quintana states that while the Government expressed its readiness to
implement the four core elements during his mission to Myanmar in
February, their effective implementation and completion has yet to be
Therefore, he reiterates that these elements be implemented, reminding the
Government that they are part of its international human rights
obligations, and are absolutely necessary to be completed in order for
the seven-step road map to democracy to be credible and founded on
internationally recognized democratic values.
He also recommends, among other things, that the Government take prompt
measures to establish accountability for widespread and systematic human
rights violations and combat the prevailing impunity enjoyed by the
The report also highlights the situation of prisoners of conscience, their
right to a fair trial and due process of law and conditions of their
detention, as well as freedom of expression, assembly and association in
the context of the 2010 elections.
In addition to the trial of Ms. Suu Kyi, the period under review was
marked by harsh long sentences, ranging from 24 to 104 years, given to
more than 400 prisoners of conscience, according to the report.
While Mr. Quintana welcomes the recent release of six political prisoners
in September, and of 29 others in February, he says that, compared to the
2,160 currently in detention, these releases lack proportionality.
The report also contains a review of internal conflicts, the protection of
civilians, discrimination and the need for humanitarian assistance.
The Special Rapporteur, who serves in an independent and unpaid capacity,
also voices regret that his request to visit Myanmar a few months ago was
not accepted by the Government, and says he hopes to return before the end
October 2, Bloomberg (USA)
China resists UN Security Council talks on Myanmar, envoys say Bill Varner
China kept Myanmar off the agenda of the United Nations Security Council
this month by seeking to put the issue of civilian deaths in Afghanistan
on the schedule, Chinese and French envoys said. Neither subject made it.
It was a killing amendment, French Ambassador Gerard Araud said of the
Chinese push for discussion of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, which
Britain and France opposed. They did it for maneuvering, for
Chinas request for talks on civilian deaths in Afghanistan caused the
U.S., Britain and France to compromise, leaving both issues off the agreed
agenda to avoid a public dispute.
The U.S. and its allies wanted to keep the Security Council focused on
Myanmar, even as the Obama administration overhauls its policy on the
Southeast Asian nation by starting direct talks with its military junta.
The U.S. is trying to promote democratic changes that years of sanctions
The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under detention for 14 of the
past 20 years. Though her National League for Democracy party won the
countrys last elections in 1990, the regime didnt recognize the result.
We are not focused on that, Chinas Deputy Ambassador Liu Zhenmin said,
referring to Myanamar. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan, he said, would
have been a good subject for the Security Council to discuss.
The issue of civilian deaths in Afghanistan is sensitive for the U.S. and
its European allies because of complaints by Afghan leaders of excessive
fatalities. The U.S. military must reduce the number of Afghan civilian
deaths after eight years of warfare or risk alienating the population and
losing the conflict, Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of
American and allied troops there, said this week.
Myanmar has Asias seventh-largest natural gas reserves, 7.5 trillion
cubic feet, according to BP Plc estimates, which China is keen to tap to
help fuel economic growth. South Koreas Daewoo International Corp. said
Aug. 25 it would invest 2.1 trillion won ($1.68 billion) in a Myanmar gas
project to supply China National Petroleum Corp.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations
at wvarner at bloomberg.net
OPINION / OTHER
October 2, Inter Press Service
China warily watches US-Myanmar détente Larry Jagan
Bangkok The border dispute between two close allies, China and Myanmar,
has now been compounded by concerns over the junta's future relations with
the United States, which this week announced a policy shift towards
engagement with the military junta.
The past few weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity between the
two states, with Beijing even issuing some unusually forthright criticism
of its Southeast Asian neighbor. Unrest on their common border led to a
mass exodus of more than 30,000 refugees in late August, and fears of a
renewed civil war in the area, have alarmed Beijing.
China's officials are also now worried by the Myanmar military regime's
interest in developing closer ties with the US, which has strong economic
and financial sanctions in place against the junta.
"Beijing has been taken aback by the [Myanmar] junta's cavalier approach
to their normally strong relationship," said Win Min, a Burmese academic
based at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand. "But it is likely to
prove to be a hiccup rather than a major shift in relations."
Last weekend a government-controlled provincial television channel, based
in Kunming - the capital of Yunnan province, which borders northern
Myanmar - broadcast a Chinese government announcement advising all Chinese
citizens in eastern Myanmar to return home quickly.
This came on the heels of a formal complaint from China to Myanmar days
earlier over the way Chinese citizens living in a border region had been
treated during recent clashes between an ethnic Kokang militia and Myanmar
troops in August.
In a statement issued last week, China's Foreign Ministry said the recent
conflict with the Kokang, in a northeastern Myanmar region bordering
China, had "harmed the rights and interests of Chinese citizens living
there". The Myanmar government should make sure similar incidents do not
happen again, the statement said.
Myanmar insists that peace has been restored to the area in question, and
most of the refugees who fled to China had returned. But there are still
thousands seeking refuge across the border, and not just from the Kokang
areas according to residents living in China along the border with
Along the border, people have fled into China for fear of renewed fighting
between other ethnic rebel groups, especially the Kachin and the Wa, two
of Myanmar's larger armed groups, according to Indian entrepreneurs who
travel along this area to do business.
"Everyone fears that the 20-year-old ceasefire agreements have been torn
up by the Myanmar generals and a return to fighting is imminent," said a
Kachin student living in the Chinese border town of Ruili.
"At the moment, it does not look as though the [Myanmar] army is about to
attack any of the other ethnic rebel groups that have ceasefire
agreements, though there is a lot of posturing going on," said Win Min.
"There is no doubt that the regime means to have all the ethnic rebel
armies disarm before next year's elections and become part of the border
guards under the control of the [Myanmar] army."
Earlier this year the junta sought the assistance of the former
intelligence chief and prime minister, General Khin Nyunt, who was deposed
in October 2004 on corruption charges and is now under house arrest in
Yangon, to help negotiate with these rebel groups, especially the Wa.
Khin Nyunt had masterminded these ceasefire agreements some 20 years ago
and was believed to still hold the trust of many of the ethnic leaders. He
accepted the junta's request on condition that his men - some 300 military
intelligence officers who were jailed in the aftermath of Khin Nyunt's
fall - be freed.
The government refused to accept that condition and apparently turned to
the Chinese who have extremely close relations with the key ethnic groups
along the border - the Kachin, Kokang and Wa. The Chinese reluctance to
help, some say, angered Myanmar's military leadership.
It is now increasingly evident that a significant rift exists between the
two countries that could have crucial implications for the region. It is
also likely to impact any approach that the international community may
take to encourage the military regime to introduce real political change.
The implications of this growing divergence could also have significant
effects on the border region, as most of the ethnic groups in this area
have long-standing ceasefire agreements with the Myanmar junta. They also
have traditionally close ties with the Chinese authorities. Economically
and culturally, the area is in many ways closer to China than the Myanmar
Thousands of Chinese businessmen and workers have migrated into northern
Shan state over the last decade, seeking employment and economic
opportunities. Many of these ethnic leaders go to Chinese hospitals across
the border for medical treatment and send their children to school in
China. The Chinese language and even the Chinese currency - the renminbi
or yuan - are used throughout the Kokang and Wa areas in Myanmar's
northern Shan state.
Anything which forces Beijing to choose between their ethnic brothers
inside Myanmar - the Kokang are ethnically Chinese and the Wa are a
Chinese ethnic minority - and the country's central government will bring
into sharp focus the real nature of the Myanmar-China axis.
Beijing is now more worried about Myanmar's longer-term allegiance. The
junta has been China's key ally and strategic partner in Southeast Asia in
recent years. So the current overtures between the US and Myanmar have
dismayed China's leaders, who remain suspicious of the US interest in
re-engaging with the region and increasing its influence.
"China will react with measured nervousness to this unwelcome encroachment
into [Myanmar]," said Justin Wintle, a British expert on Myanmar and
biographer of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Beijing's current concerns stem from the unstable basis of their bilateral
relationship. "We are not real friends, as [we are] with Thailand, for
example," said a senior Chinese government official who spoke to IPS on
condition of anonymity. "It's a Machiavellian relationship: we are in it
for what we can get out of it, and they are also in it, for what they can
get out of it," he said.
Thus, it is a relationship that could shift easily, said Chinese
diplomats. "But it is not likely to become antagonistic anytime soon,"
said Win Min. "[Myanmar] is far too economically dependent on China for
the government to really consider ditching Beijing as its main ally."
More than 90% of foreign direct investment in Myanmar last year was
Chinese. While the Western-led sanctions remain in place, that is unlikely
to change for some time under the terms of the US's new engagement gambit.
The sanctions, of course, now more than ever have rankled with the regime.
"Sanctions are being employed as a political tool against Myanmar and we
consider them unjust," Myanmar's Prime Minister General Thein Sein told
the United Nations General Assembly in New York in late September.
Myanmar's interest in a dialogue with the US is motivated by the regime's
main concerns: to have sanctions lifted, for international humanitarian
and development assistance to flow into the country and to attract foreign
"Though generals are certainly unhappy about being too dependent on one
supporter, and will be trying to balance Chinese influence with better
relations with the US as well as other countries, like ASEAN [Association
of Southeast Asian Nations] and India. They will not be looking to cut the
umbilical cord with China in the near future," said Win Min.
China will watch with growing concern any further US overtures to Myanmar.
China's extensive economic, trade and military involvement in Myanmar
gives the junta the upper hand, rather than making them more subservient
to Beijing. The issue now is how far the junta leaders will go in flexing
September 28, United Nation Human Rights Council
Human rights situations that require the Councils attention: Aung San Suu
Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar
The Human Rights Council,
1. Expresses grave concern at the recent conviction and sentencing of Daw
San Suu Kyi, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release;
* Non-Member State of the Human Rights Council.
2. Calls upon the Government of Myanmar:
(a) To release all political prisoners, immediately and unconditionally,
enabling them to
participate fully in the 2010 elections;
(b) To engage in a genuine process of open dialogue and national
reconciliation with the
full participation of representatives of all political parties and ethnic
(c) To create, through the above-mentioned and other national measures,
for inclusive, transparent and credible democratic elections, in
accordance with international
Australia*, Austria*, Belgium, Bulgaria*, Canada*, Croatia*,
Cyprus*, Czech Republic*, Denmark*, Estonia*, Finland*,
France, Germany*, Greece*, Hungary, Ireland*, Italy, Latvia*,
Lithuania*, Luxembourg*, Malta*, Netherlands, New Zealand*,
Norway, Poland*, Portugal*, Romania*, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain*, Sweden*, Turkey* United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland: draft resolution
October 2, Burma Center Delhi
Right Groups urged Sonia Gandhi to act for immediate release of Aung San
Suu Kyi and Free Burma
Today, the Burma Center Delhi on behalf of 58 Indian and International
organizations submitted an appeal letter to Smt. Sonia Gandhi, President
of All India Congress Committee (AICC) & Chairperson, UPA urging to draw
attention on Aung San Suu Kyi and to revise Indias foreign policy and
promote human rights in order to restore peace, harmony and fraternity in
Dr. Alana Golmei, Coordinator of BCD, along with a group of Burmese
activists submitted the appeal letter to Sonia Gandhi at her residence.
She said that the appeal letter was warmly accepted by the concern staff
in the office. We have great expectations from Madam Sonia Gandhi to take
prompt action for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi as well as restoration
of democracy in Burma.
Mr. Kim, New Delhi-based and exile Burmese and Campaign Coordinator of BCD
recalled that during nationwide peoples uprising in Burma in 1988, the
then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi not only supported the peoples
movement but also offered shelter to democracy activists to continue for
democracy in Burma. Even Indian embassy in Rangoon provided financial
support to activists who were fleeing Burma to continue their struggle in
India, he added.
The appeal letter was endorsed by prominent Indian and International
organizations as well as India-based Burmese organizations.
Submitted appeal letter is attached for your perusal.
For More Info:
Dr. Alana Golmei (Mob: 91+ 9968-291-654)
Mr. Kim (Mob: 91+ 9810-476-273)
More information about the BurmaNet