Thursday, December 29, 2011

Next Year's Wars

Louise Arbour, Foreign Policy | 27 Dec 2011

What conflict situations are most at risk of deteriorating further in 2012? When Foreign Policy asked the International Crisis Group to evaluate which manmade disasters could explode in the coming year, we put our heads together and came up with 10 crisis areas that warrant particular concern.

Admittedly, there is always a certain arbitrariness to lists. This one is no different. But, in part, that serves a purpose: It will, hopefully, get people talking. Why no room for Sudan -- surely a crisis of terrifying proportions? Or for Europe's forgotten conflicts -- in the North Caucasus, for example, or in Nagorno-Karabakh? You'll see also that we have not included some that are deeply troubling yet strangely under-reported, like Mexico or northern Nigeria. No room, too, for the hardy perennial standoff on the Korean Peninsula, despite the uncertainty surrounding the death of Kim Jong Il.

No reader should interpret their omission as meaning those situations are improving. They are not. But we did feel it is useful to highlight a few places that, to our mind, deserve no less attention. What follows is our top 10. At the end -- and just to remind ourselves that progress is possible -- we've included two countries for which we, cautiously, feel 2012 could augur well.


Many in Syria and abroad are now banking on the regime's imminent collapse and assuming everything will get better from that point on. The reality could turn out to be quite different. As dynamics in both Syria and the broader international arena turn squarely against the regime, many hope that the bloody stalemate finally might end. But however much it now seems inevitable that President Bashar al-Assad will leave the stage after his regime's terrifying brutality over recent months, the initial post-Assad stages carry enormous risks.

On the one hand, the emotionally charged communal polarization, particularly around the Alawite community, has made regime supporters dig in their heels, believing it is "kill or be killed," and their fears of large-scale retribution when Assad falls are very real. On the other, the rising strategic stakes have heightened the regional and wider international competition among all players, who now view the crisis as an historic opportunity to decisively tilt the regional balance of power.

In that explosive mix, the first cross-border concern is surely Lebanon: The more Assad's ouster appears imminent, the more Hezbollah -- and its backers in Tehran -- will view the Syrian crisis as an existential struggle designed to deal them a decisive blow, and the greater the risk that they would choose to go for broke and draw to launch attacks against Israel in an attempt to radically alter the focus of attention. "Powder keg" doesn't begin to describe it. The danger is real that any one of these issues could derail or even foreclose the possibility of a successful transition.


Even if Iran and Israel somehow manage to sail safely past the rocks of the Syrian crisis, the enmity between them over the nuclear issue could blow them very dangerously off course. Though sanctions against Iran and saber-rattling all around intensified at the end of 2011, some may see this as merely the continuation of a long-term trend in the epically poor relations between Iran and Israel.

Two factors make 2012 a possible turning point for the worse, however. First, the most recent International Atomic Energy Agency report is particularly unambiguous: It may not have turned up significantly new evidence of Teheran's intention to build a nuclear weapon, but it did highlight more clearly than ever before Iran's obfuscation and unwillingness to cooperate with the international body. Second, the U.S. elections will force support for Israel onto the U.S. domestic agenda even more than usual, and generally create a favorable environment for Israel to act, with any number of unexpected, unintended -- and potentially disastrous -- consequences.


A decade of major security, development, and humanitarian assistance from the international community has failed to create a stable Afghanistan, a fact highlighted by deteriorating security and a growing insurgent presence in previously stable provinces over the past year. In 2011, the capital alone saw a barrage of suicide bombings, including the deadliest attack in the city since 2001; multiple strikes on foreign missions in Kabul, the British Council, and U.S. Embassy; and the assassination of former president and chief peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani. The prospects for next year are no brighter, with many key provinces scheduled for transfer to the ill-equipped Afghan security forces by early 2012.

The litany of obstacles to peace, or at least stability, in Afghanistan is by now familiar. President Hamid Karzai rules by fiat, employing a combination of patronage and executive abuse of power. State institutions and services are weak or nonexistent in much of the country, or else so riddled with corruption that Afghans want nothing to do with them. Dari-speaking ethnic minorities remain skeptical about the prospects for reconciliation with the predominately Pashtun Taliban insurgency, which enjoys the backing of Pakistan's military and intelligence services. The Taliban leadership in Quetta seem to reason that victory is within reach and that they have simply to bide their time until the planned U.S. withdrawal in 2014.


Throughout 2011, Pakistan's relations with the United States were sliding from bad to worse, and NATO's deadly yet apparently accidental bombing of Pakistani soldiers in November turned a miserable relationship into an all but openly hostile one. Partially as a result, but also due to the Pakistani military's support of militants operating in Afghanistan, ties between Islamabad and Kabul are fraying. The elected government has made some progress in its rapprochement with India, moving to normalize trade relations. Yet the process remains hostage to the military's continued support for militant groups such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the renamed Lashkar-Tayyeba, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Another terror attack could result in all-out war between the two nuclear-armed adversaries.
The biggest dangers for Pakistan, however, come not from external sources but rather from within. The transition from dictatorship to democracy is not at all consolidated, and the military still control crucial areas of foreign and security policy. Radical Islamism is destabilizing and even dominating the country at times, with violent attacks on leading liberal political figures shaking what little confidence anyone may have had that Pakistan can escape disaster. Yet there is still some hope, because radical Islamists lack popular support, and the two political parties that are likely to win the next general election in 2013 (provided the democratic transition is not disrupted by the military) -- the ruling PPP and the opposition PML-N -- have the capacity and the political will to take the country back to its moderate moorings.


Yemen stands between violent collapse and a thin hope of a peaceful transfer of power. Under increasing pressure from international and regional actors, President Ali Abdullah Saleh finally signed a transition agreement on Nov. 23. Under the agreement, he immediately transferred significant authorities to his vice president and is scheduled to officially leave office after early elections that are scheduled for Feb. 21. This was an important first step, but one that fell far short of solving Yemen's problems.

Many challenges remain, including holding signatories responsible for implementing the transitional agreement, adequately addressing unresolved issues of political inclusion and justice, and improving dire economic and humanitarian conditions. Moreover, tensions between Yemen's competing armed power centers, particularly Saleh's family on one hand versus defected general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and the (unrelated) powerful al-Ahmar clan on the other, remain unresolved and are a potential flashpoint for further violence. One of the most challenging tasks during the first phase of the transition will be securing a durable ceasefire, removing all military and armed tribesmen from urban centers, and beginning meaningful reform of the military and security forces.

It's a tall order, and international actors have a part to play. Threats of targeted sanctions against Saleh and his family from members of the U.N. Security Council played a part in bringing some regime hard-liners to the negotiating table. Now, with an agreement signed, implementation requires that pressure must be applied to all sides: Saleh and his supporters on one hand and the opposition parties and their affiliates on the other. For now, support has coalesced around Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who, according to the agreement, will be the consensus candidate in the February elections. As a relatively neutral figure, Hadi may encourage some measure of compromise and security.

Adding to the uncertainty over Yemen's future are southern activists whose demands may yet range from immediate independence to a federation of North and South Yemen, and Houthi rebels in northern Yemen who seek greater rights for their community and a degree of local autonomy. And, while politicians negotiate in Sanaa, government forces and local tribesmen are in an ongoing fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Abyan governorate. The one certainty is that the struggle for Yemen will last long into 2012.


Several states in the region are surviving on luck: their infrastructure near collapse, their political systems eaten away by corruption, their public services almost nonexistent. On top of all this, Tajikistan, for example, now faces a growing security threat from both local and external insurgencies, something it has almost zero capacity to contain. Adding to the country's woes, relations with neighboring Uzbekistan are at an all-time low, with their long-running water dispute no closer to resolution and occasionally deadly border incidents threatening to spark deeper violence.

As for Uzbekistan itself, Washington increasingly relies on Tashkent for logistics in Afghanistan, but the brutal nature of the regime means it is not only an embarrassing partner but also, ultimately, a very unreliable one. Already there has been at least one attack on the rail line transiting U.S. material through the country. Given how U.S.-Pakistan relations seem to hit a new low every week, Washington may feel it has little choice, but it certainly seems to be "out of the fire and into the frying pan" at best.

Then there is volatile Kyrgyzstan. Without prompt, genuine and exhaustive measures to address the damage done by the 2010 ethnic pogroms in the south, the country risks another round of mass violence. The ultranationalist mayor of Osh, Melis Myrzakmatov, who has in the past claimed that Bishkek's writ does not extend to the southern city and now muses out loud about creating a municipal police force independent of the Ministry of Interior, will no doubt continue to fire shots across the bows of the central government in 2012.


Reassuring declarations from the government in Bujumbura sound hollow, as the end of the Arusha consensus, which concluded the civil war in 2000, combined with the deteriorating political climate that followed the boycott of the 2010 elections, have contributed directly to an escalation of violence and insecurity. The elements of the peace deal are being dismantled one by one. The not-so-hidden struggle between the opposition and the ruling party, combined with the government's intensifying repression, is leaving ever more victims since the 2010 polls. Independent media are harassed by the authorities, who are allegedly commissioning targeted assassinations. At the same time, state corruption is on the rise, governance indicators are in the red, and social tension is mounting as living conditions deteriorate due to rising prices of basic commodities. Unless the government takes measures to reverse these trends, Burundi could edge toward renewed civil war in 2012.


Joseph Kabila has been re-elected president and officially sworn in, but that's unlikely to satisfy his political opponents, particularly supporters of opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi. The vote was badly flawed, with reports of pre-marked ballots, voter intimidation, localized violence, widespread mismanagement and fiddled results. The election commission and Supreme Court were also stuffed with Kabila loyalists, rendering their arbitration worthless in the eyes of an angry opposition that may be marginalized for the next five years if legislative election results are also mishandled.

The election standoff is a symptom of larger trends. In his five years in power, Kabila has stacked many national institutions in his favor, leaving his opponents with few avenues to pursue grievances peacefully. International players have also quietly disengaged from Congolese affairs. Despite the sizable U.N. presence in Congo, and the involvement of donor countries like the United States and Britain, together with the European Union, little has been done to check Kabila's consolidation of power.

As calls for international arbitration fall on deaf ears in Kinshasa and most Western capitals, Congo's electoral authorities appear unable to salvage any sense of credibility from results. Kabila's illegitimate mandate threatens not only Congo's peace and stability. The muffled international response to the flawed polls, and the silent acquiescence of regional leaders, bode ill for democracy across the continent. If only the African Union reacted to stolen elections with the outrage it reserves for coups -- both are, after all, equally unconstitutional changes of government -- politicians might at least think twice before rigging.


It is too soon to tell whether Kenya's recently launched military campaign in southern Somalia will succeed in defeating al-Shabaab -- the militant Islamist group that formed during the fragmentation of the Islamic Courts Union, which controlled most of southern Somalia for part of the last decade -- or end up a protracted and messy conflict. Now that Kenya will become part of the African Union's mission in Somalia, however, it looks like it is there for the duration. Its prolonged presence in southern Somalia could be very unpopular, and the risks for Kenya's internal stability are very real. Following the launch of the campaign in mid-October, al-Shabaab immediately threatened retaliatory attacks. The possibility of an al-Shabaab terror campaign has to be taken very seriously and there is a palpable sense of unease in Nairobi. In late October, the organization carried out two grenade attacks in the capital on Kenyan, not Western, targets. A Kenyan al-Shabaab member was jailed for the attacks. Since then there have been a number of incidents near the border with Somalia.

Kenya has a sizable ethnic Somali and wider Muslim population, most of whom are critical of the government's military campaign in Somalia, the more so for its associations with the Western-led counterterrorism struggle. There is significant risk that the military campaign exacerbates already worrisome radicalization in Kenya, particularly if it goes badly and civilian deaths mount.

In response to the threat of al-Shabaab attacks on Kenyan soil, the Kenyan government has launched a massive sweep in ethnic-Somali majority areas, aiming to flush out the group's supporters. Although the police and security services have mostly shown restraint, local leaders in the northeastern border region have already accused the military of excessive force. The real test will come if al-Shabaab carries out a major attack in Kenya. There are fears this would trigger a draconian crackdown on ethnic Somalis in Kenya, with grave consequences for intercommunal relations and societal cohesion and harmony, especially ahead of general elections this year, the first since the 2007 polls sparked widespread ethnic violence.


Venezuela's homicide rates are among the highest in the hemisphere -- twice those of Colombia and three times those of Mexico -- despite largely escaping the world's attention. Rates were rising even before Hugo Chávez assumed power. But under his 12 years they have skyrocketed, from 4,550 in 1998 to 17,600 last year. The victims are predominantly poor young men -- killed for as little as a mobile phone, caught in gunfire between gangs, or even subject to extrajudicial killings by security forces.
Criminal violence has not yet permeated the country's politics. But signs ahead of presidential elections next year are ominous. The regime itself has armed local civilian militias to, in its own words, "defend the revolution." Thus far it has failed to tackle corruption within the security forces, or their complicity in crime. Arms are easily available -- reportedly more than 12 million weapons circulate in a country with a population of only 29 million. Impunity is a major driver of violence, with judicial independence eroded through sustained attacks by the government. According to some estimates, fewer than one in 10 police investigations ever leads to arrest.

It's not yet clear who will face off against Chávez for the presidency, nor do we know the extent of political space in which candidates will be able to contest for office. But with the president's ailing health adding considerable uncertainty, bitter enmity between him and some opposition leaders, and Venezuelan society polarized, militarized and lacking credible institutional conflict-resolution mechanisms, next year could prove testing indeed.

Now for the good news. Here are two countries whose 2012 is looking relatively bright.


The victory by the moderate Islamist An-Nahda Party in October's elections is a victory for democracy. Of course, no one would underestimate the major challenges the nation still confronts. There is a continuing threat of violence, whether from agents provocateurs bent on discrediting An-Nahda, the more radical Salafists marginalized by the An-Nahda victory, or working class towns and cities in the country's interior, which have been largely sidelined since the fall of president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and where the economic, social, and security situation continues to worsen. Small vestiges of the old regime in ministries and the Constituent Assembly, while weak, could still play a spoiler role. New business elites, meanwhile, appear only too quick to adopt the poor practices of their predecessors. The new government will have to move quickly away from wrangling over transitional details -- prime ministerial powers, constitutional reform and new elections -- and concentrate on reversing the country's economic decline and tackling corruption and unemployment.

Still, having held the first free, competitive election to follow the onset of the Arab Spring -- in a relatively transparent manner and in an atmosphere of enthusiasm -- it is clear that Tunisians already have much to be proud of. If the country's relative stability and evident progress could be a beacon to the rest of the wider region, that would be no bad thing.


The government's pledges on reform are being fulfilled: The military has moved out of front-line politics; top opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi was released, is engaging with the government at top levels, and is set to run in elections; many other political prisoners were also released; there are livelier debates in parliament that are even broadcast on TV; and some previously banned websites are now unblocked. There is a major opportunity for this long-suffering country to continue in a positive direction in 2012.

The outside world, particularly the West, needs to respond by engaging further and dropping counterproductive sanctions that have harmed civilians without loosening the junta's grip on power. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Myanmar in early December was the right move at the right time, but it is not enough. Key next steps to watch for from the regime include releasing all remaining political prisoners, passing a new media law that would curtail censorship, and signing ceasefires with armed ethnic groups that would be a key step towards ending abuses by the military in these border conflicts.

Louise Arbour is president of the International Crisis Group.
Foreign Policy

U Win Tin – ၂၀၁၁ အေျပာင္းအလဲမ်ား၊ အျငင္းပြားစရာမ်ား

Iran rejects U.S. warning on Hormuz

December 29, 2011 10:13 AM

Members of the Iran Navy participate in a drill Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 in the Sea of Oman. (Ali Mohammadi,AP Photo/International Iran Photo Agency)(CBS/AP)

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran continued to suggest it may block the Strait of Hormuz in response to greater international pressure over its nuclear program, rejecting a U.S. warning that any attempt to choke off the key oil supply route would not be tolerated.

"The U.S. is not in a position" to affect Iran's decisions, Gen. Hossein Salami, the acting commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard told the semi-official Fars news agency Thursday. "Iran does not ask permission to implement its own defensive strategies."

Iran had previously threatened the close the strait if Washington imposes sanctions targeting Iran's crude exports. On Wednesday, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet, said the Navy was "always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation."

Meanwhile, official IRNA news agency reported an Iranian surveillance plane has recorded video and photographed a U.S. aircraft carrier during Iran's ongoing navy drill near a strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf.

The report did not provide details and it was unclear what information the Iranian military could gleam from such footage. But the announcement is an indication Iran is seeking to cast its navy as having a powerful role in the region's waters.

IRNA quoted Iran's navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, as saying the action shows that Iran has "control over the moves by foreign forces" in the area where Tehran is holding a 10-day military exercise.

"An Iranian vessel and surveillance plane have tracked, filmed and photographed a U.S. aircraft carrier as it was entering the Gulf of Oman from the Persian Gulf," Sayyari said.

He added that the "foreign fleet will be warned by Iranian forces if it enters the area of the drill."

State TV showed what appeared to be the reported video, but it was not possible to make out the details of the carrier because the footage was filmed from far away.

The Iranian exercise is taking place in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz — the passageway for one-sixth of the world's oil supply.

Beyond it lie vast bodies of water, including the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is also active in the area, as are warships of several other countries that patrol for pirates there.

Lt. Rebarich said the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay headed out from the Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, after a visit to Dubai's Jebel Ali port.

She described the passage through the strait as "a pre-planned, routine transit" for the carrier, which is providing air support from the north Arabian Sea to troops in Afghanistan.

Rebarich did not directly address Iranian claims of possessing the reported footage but said the 5th Fleet's "interaction with the regular Iranian Navy continues to be within the standards of maritime practice, well known, routine and professional."

That Iran is making such dire threats at all illustrates its alarm over new sanctions planned by the U.S. that will target oil exports — the most vital source of revenue for its economy. Iran's leaders shrugged off years of past sanctions by the U.S. and United Nations, mocking them as ineffective. But if it cannot sell its oil, its already-suffering economy will be sent into a tailspin.

"It would be very, very difficult for Iran even to impede traffic for a significant period of time," said Jonathan Rue, a senior research analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. "They don't have the ability to effectively block the strait."

What the Iranians can do, Rue and other analysts say, is harass traffic through the Gulf — anything from stopping tankers to outright attacks. The goal would be to panic markets, drive up shipping insurance rates and spark a rise in world oil prices enough to pressure the United States to back down on sanctions.

The strait would seem to be an easy target, a bottleneck only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) across at its narrowest point between Iran and Oman.

Tankers carrying one-sixth of the world's oil supply pass through it, from the fields of petrogiants Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbors, exiting the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Sea and on to market. They move through two two-mile-wide shipping lanes, one entering the Gulf, one exiting.

In recent years, Iran has dramatically ramped up its navy, increasing its arsenal of fast-attack ships, anti-ship missiles and mine-laying vessels. Its elite Revolutionary Guards boasts the most powerful naval forces, with approximately 20,000 men, with at least 10 missile patrol boats boasting C-802 missiles with a range of 70 miles (120 kilometers) and a large number of smaller patrol boats with rocket launchers and heavy machine guns, according to a recent report by Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The navy has three submarines and an unknown number of midget subs, capable of firing "smart" torpedoes or laying mines. It also has a large scale capability for laying mines using both small craft and commercial boats, according to the report.

The Revolutionary Guard has also deployed a heavy array of anti-ship Seersucker missiles with a range of up to 60 miles (100 kilometers) along its coast overlooking the strait, on mobile platforms that make them harder to hit.

The Guard's naval forces and the regular navy "have been the most favored service. The Iranian air force and ground forces have not seen the same level of attention in domestic procurement and weapons systems," Rue said. "They realize their navies are the best options for inflicting casualties" on the U.S. or Arab Gulf nations.

Still, those forces would not likely be enough to outright seal the strait, given the presence of the U.S. 5th Fleet based in the Gulf nation of Bahrain. On
Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little warned that any "Interference with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why does Burma Army disobey the president’s order?

Asian Correspondent
By Zin Linn Dec 28, 2011 10:31PM UTC

Although President Thein Sein has issued an order dated 10-December to Burma’s Commander-in-Chief to stop the fighting against the KIO, the Burmese soldiers in the Kachin-frontline do not obey the presidential guidance so far. On the contrary, the war keeps going on and Kachin natives continue running and hiding for their lives in the jungle.

So, the observers consider that whether the military chief abides by the presidential order. Saying peace words as its policy, the government is raising its offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on the other hand. The Burma Army’s all-out offensives are becoming higher than ever in Kachin State.

The fighting seems ruthless as Burmese soldiers commit various crimes – such as looting, killing, raping and burning down the civilians’ villages – on this brutal front line. In fact, ordinary Kachin people are just naive citizens of the country and soldiers should spare their lives and belongings.

In recent months, several native women and girls were gang raped by Burmese soldiers. Many were killed after being raped. The soldiers raped and killed girls and women in front of their relatives. Many civilians were forced to work as porters or human shield for government forces.

More than 30,000 displaced victims have sought shelter at government-run camps in eastern Kachin State in mid-December, putting a strain on limited food supplies, mostly from local donors.

According to the BBC Burmese Service Radio, fighting are going on in the KIA 4th Brigade controlled area in Northern Shan State, since 25 December to date. As said by a KIA 4th Brigade commander Col. Zaw Rao, government troops fired with artilleries for eight rounds and they also used chemical weapons yesterday battle.

Some KIA fighters suffered dizziness and vomit due to government soldiers’ poisonous mortar shells, the KIA officer said. Although KIA’s side had no wounded persons, government troops had at least ten casualties in yesterday armed conflict, Col. Zaw Rao said.

In actual fact, President Thein Sein has released an order to halt fighting in the Kachin frontline since 10 December. But, during Christmas period, Col. Zaw Rao said that the government armed forces have continued open fire on KIA troops sporadically. It’s amazing that even though the president has ordered for ceasefire, the government forces on the frontline turn a deaf ear to his order, col. Zaw Rao told the BBC.

Hence, it is really essential for the president to try influencing on his armed forces to abide by the presidential instructions. And also, it’s time to end the civil war, particularly the war against KIA.

If Burmese troops have used chemical weapons, the president must resolutely order them to stop immediately. By doing so, president has to show the country is on the right transformation path. This act of using prohibited weapon breaks the Geneva Protocol which banned use of chemical and biological weapons in both civil and foreign conflicts. President Thein Sein’s government has to take responsibility for the use of such chemical weapons.

Meanwhile, President Thein Sein’s peacemaking team leader Aung Min exposed he has prepared to meet the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the alliance of 11 armed groups in which Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is a key member. He announced the plan during a meeting with Hkun Okker from PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO), in Bangkok.

Burmese people are confused over the war between the KIA and Burma Army. While the president is speaking about the importance of national unity, his government army has been increasing the hostilities in ethnic Kachin areas.

So, it becomes a question among the societies, as the government soldiers disobey the guide-line of the country’s highest authoritative president. People are curious whether there are high-ranking military officers who disagree with the president’s policy of political change.

FBR REPORT: Burma Army Kills Woman and Continues Attacks in Ba Maw District, Kachin State

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kachin Relief Fund Fair in Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha Kachin Relief Fund

ဖိတ္ေခၚလုိ႔သြားတာမဟုတ္ဘူး၊ မွတ္ပံုတင္ဖို႔သြားရတာ

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Labau hta Jinghpaw WP ni a Sai, Myi Prwi hte rau galaw ai X'mas

PartnersTV War Refugee

War Refugee

On June 9, 2011 fighting began in Kachin State, Burma marking the end to a 17-year ceasefire. As many as 30,000 Kachin civilians have been displaced from their homes. Partners Relief & Development has provided food and basic survival items to around 4,000 people. Those currently displaced can be separated into 3 groups: internally displaced with ethnic government support, internally displaced without support and neighboring country refugees without support.

The Spirit of Wukan

Can a small farming town's remarkable protest against corrupt officials spread across China?

WUKAN, China – Peasants do not have a good record facing off with the Communist Party. Rural standoffs usually end with the arrest of the ringleaders and an increased security presence for the remaining residents. Yet on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 22, residents of the embattled village of Wukan scored a major achievement in their 11-day stand-off with local government, securing the release of one of the village's three detained leaders; the other two were released today.

On Wednesday, a deputy party secretary of Guangdong Province arrived to negotiate with village leaders, promising to grant all of their initial demands: release of three elected representatives of Wukan who were detained two weeks ago; return of the body of Xue Jinbo, a village leader who died in police custody; and direct negotiations with the temporary committee, a interim governing body chosen by villagers, whose members were earlier denounced by the government as criminals. "It is totally unprecedented that a high-level official will come to talk with protesting farmers," one activist who came to witness events told me on Tuesday night.

In September, residents of Wukan accused local officials of embezzling more than $110 million dollars of money owed to them for selling more than 80 percent of the villager's arable land to developers, and marched on the county seat. Significantly, compared with the tens of thousands of other protests that happen across China each year, local officials fled Wukan on Dec. 11, leaving the town in the hands of the village community. Their success puts them in a risky position, as the Wukanese have challenged not just the local authorities but a basic assumption behind Communist Party rule: that the Chinese people, and especially the rural masses, need authoritarian rule to prevent the country from descending into chaos. Ten days into life without police or party officials, Wukan was almost peaceful -- save for the array of police forces that surrounded the town. Still, the gumption of the Wukanese may be a new model for activism in communities across China.

After initial destruction of property at local government offices, Wukan's temporary committee announced this to be a nonviolent protest. The deserted police station is still locked and intact, as are the houses of local elites and families of officials, most of whom have left the village. Villagers refrained from looting and instead focused on bringing food into the village through back roads, away from security forces that massed outside. They coordinated mass rallies, making protest signs, and cooked for the hordes of journalists who descended on the village.
One Western reporter compared the atmosphere in Wukan to that of the Paris Commune; a veteran Hong Kong journalist reminisced about Beijing in the spring of 1989, before the crackdown on Tiananmen. He described then an almost intoxicating sense of unity and generosity, where cab drivers drove protestors for free and thieves vowed to switch professions, buoyed by a feeling that all was good and possible in the fleeting moment.

But can the spirit of Wukan last? The small farming village of 13,000 thousand embodies social changes brought about by more than 30 years of economic reforms in China. The first generation of migrant workers that left their villages to work in the cities is now retiring from factory work. Many of them have returned to their villages to open small businesses or work their families' fields. But they have found a harsh truth: Local governments, relying ever more heavily on land sales to generate income and wielding unchecked power over their citizens, have left rural residents with few ways to support themselves. In Wukan, the protest was supported by a group of returnees, mostly in their thirties and forties, who had moved back to the village over the past few years planning to settle back into rural life -- but who have been unsettled by the pervasive corruption.

Yang Semao, 43, head of the temporary committee, came back to the village in June after a few years working in the boomtown of Shehzhen, about 100 miles away. "When I returned it became clear to me that things are getting worse here," he says. Many of the villagers had lost much of their land in the deal, while high inflation eats away at their savings.

"Until few months ago, it was each person to himself here," says another recent returnee, Jiang, who gave just his last name for fear of government reprisal for speaking to reporters. "Some of us petitioned but we weren't very organized. Now we think it's better if we act together. We become more organized, more united, with each day that passes."

India to dispatch army chief to Burma

Published: 23 December 2011

Indian army chief General V K Singh will visit Naypyidaw next month (Reuters)

Ongoing anxiety in the Indian government over security along its porous shared border with Burma has prompted New Delhi to line up a visit by army chief General VK Singh to Naypyidaw next month.

The five-day trip beginning 5 January is the first time Singh will visit Burma, and points to continued concerns at Burma’s apparent reluctance to tackle Indian separatist groups believed to shelter in camps inside the Burmese border.

New Delhi has taken steps over the past year to bolster its defence in the troubled northeastern states, including the development of infrastructure such as roads and helipads that will allow quicker deployment of paramilitary groups like the Assam Rifles to battle separatists.

But despite a number of joint military agreements being signed by both governments aimed at closer cooperation in the region, Naypyidaw for its part has made little progress in clearing groups like the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) from its territory.

Analyst Bertil Lintner says that India’s frustration with Burma stems from the differing priorities of both governments. “[The separatist groups] are not a major concern in Burma – they have other [military] priorities that are more important, such as tackling the Karen, Shan and Kachin rebel groups”.

Deploying army units to the Indian border is also a tricky task. “These regions are remote and isolated, and for Burma’s army to move around is a major operation logistically – there’s no infrastructure,” Lintner said.

The ULFA, which is fighting for an independent Assam, has long been alleged to have bases in Burma’s northern Kachin state. India’s Maoist rebels are also believed to have trained over the border.

While the Burmese drag their feet over the issue, Lintner says there is “no possibility” that Burma would allow small-scale Indian army operations on its soil in the near future. “They don’t want any foreign troops across their border – they’re too sensitive about that.”

According to the Hindustan Times, Burma recently rejected offers of weaponry from India, which is one of only eight countries believed to supply arms to Naypyidaw. Instead, the paper reported, Burma requested only maintenance of existing purchases. Weapons’ supplies from India are thought to comprise mostly artillery, and destined mainly for Burmese army camps in its northwest.

The visit by Singh may also be an attempt to draw Burma’s military away from China, which supplies most of its arms. India has made no secret of its attempt to entice its neighbour away from the clutches of Beijing, and may be looking to exploit an apparent unease within the Burmese government over its dependence on China, as signalled by the cancellation of the Myitsone dam in October.

Burma has however sought to play India and China off against one another, likely in a bid to maintain a degree of independence from the region’s main powerhouses.

Burma’s powerful parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann was in India last week, ostensibly to study the development of India’s own political arena since independence but the visit offered a clear indication of Burma’s attempt to wriggle out of Beijing’s orbit.

India’s once frosty relations with the Burmese regime have warmed since the early 1990s when it sought to develop stronger business relations with its neighbour, which acts as its only geographical gateway to Southeast Asian economies and a coveted source of natural energy.

Indonesia: Yudhoyono’s annus horribilis

By AP News Dec 24, 2011 3:13PM UTC

Revelations of corruption continue from former fugitive treasurer Nazaruddin, reports Asia Sentinel

As 2011 draws to a close, it would be hard to imagine a worse year for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Democratic Party. The president’s image as a reformer has been irreparably damaged, along with his party’s hopes to maintain control of Indonesian politics into the future.

Much – but not all — of the damage has come at the hands of Muhammad Nazaruddin, the former treasurer of the party, who has been delivering up bombshell after bombshell in a Jakarta courtroom for much of the last month.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Pic: AP

This week was no exception. Nazaruddin showed reporters copies of 16 receipts for bribes allegedly paid by Party Chairman Anas Urbaningrum to individuals connected to the controversial Athletes’ Village constructed for the Southeast Asia Games which were held in November.

Nazaruddin fled Jakarta in May ahead of arrest by the Corruption Eradication Commission. He has drawn Yudhoyono himself into the mess, saying he had visited the president’s home the day before he hurriedly decamped for Singapore, to tell him of the involvement of top Democratic Party officials in the scandals. Nazaruddin’s lawyers told reporters in early December that the president hadn’t acted on the former treasurer’s information.

Nazaruddin was on the run for months before he was intercepted by Interpol in Cartagena, a resort city on the Colombian coast. During that period of freedom, he texted and tweeted reporters in Jakarta, alleging the involvement of the party officials.

Urbaningrum was once considered one of Yudhoyono’s young reformers and was a presumptive candidate for the presidency when the president’s term ends in 2014, as was former Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng. With the evidence Nazaruddin has offered against other top Democratic Party officials, however, it is unlikely that the party will be able to field a candidate at all.

“ပင္လံု”ကို အသံုးခ်ေနၿပီ

Tu Maung Nyo 12222011

Friday, December 23, 2011

MYANMAR: Displaced Kachin face grim Christmas

UNFC: Federal Army formed, better late than never

Burma’s latest ethnic alliance formed in February has successfully established the long awaited Federal Union Army after 10 months, according to United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) Assistant Secretary General Hkun Okker.

The founding meeting, 16-17 December, was held at an undisclosed location along the Thai-Burmese border.
Maj Gen Bee Htoo of Karenni Army was appointed as its Commander-in-Chief, Brig Gen Gun Maw of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) as Deputy #1 and a yet-to-be-named Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) commander as Deputy #2.
“The ball has begun rolling so things are getting better,” he said. “So we can’t really say we’re too late.”
This statement was in response to comments that it should have been formed when all eyes and ears were still focusing on the UNFC early in the year. Critics have pointed out that the alliance had done every little to either deter or stage a collective defensive against the Burma Army’s offensives against its members, the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ (13 March) and the KIA (9 June).
According to its Circular #1 / 2011, the Federal Union Army’s aims and objectives are:
• To defend the Union
• To achieve peace
• To restore democratic rights and fundamental rights of the people
• To struggle for Equality and Right of self Determination
• To oppose human rights violations and war crimes committed by some elements of the Burma Army
• To serve as a rally point for Burma Army members who wish to stand by the people
• To become a part of the armed forces of the future federal union
The circular also designates the following armed groups as its allies: Arakan Liberation Army (ALA), All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF), United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’.
Apart from the first two, the rest are groups that have signed ceasefire agreements with Burma’s new government.
The UNFC has demanded that President Thein Sein, who had offered peace talks on 18 August, to deal with it directly instead of group by group. However Naypyitaw’s negotiators say it will hold direct talks only at the third stage of the peace process.
The three-stage peace process as outlined by U Aung Min, Naypyitaw’s chief negotiator at the 19 November talks, are: Ceasefire, Development and Conference to be held in the style of 1947 Panglong.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Santa Claus prepares a reindeer and sled in Santa Park near Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, on December 15, 2011. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

Runners dressed as Father Christmas start in the 3rd Michendorfer Nikolaus Lauf running event in Michendorf, Germany, on December 4, 2011. Around 700 participants took part in the competition that is hosted by the Laufclub Michendorf running association. (Reuters/Tobias Schwarz)

the Atlantic Megazine

DVB TV News - 22 December 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aid agencies need long-term access to Myanmar’s Kachins –HRW

FBR REPORT: Burma Army Continues Attacks in Kachin State as of 14 December 2011

Burma comedian Zarganar ‘shocked’ by first trip abroad

By Zin Linn Dec 20, 2011 7:26PM UTC

It seemed a very amazing and remarkable event with Burma’s most famous comedian Zarganar also known as Maung Thura at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) at 8pm Monday. Popular for his political jokes and satire on military rule, regardless of dictatorship, 50-year-old Zarganar was thrown into jail four times by Burma’s previous military junta.

Former dental student Maung Thura is a poet and script-writer as well as actor and film producer. He was released from his latest prison term on October 12 from Myit-kyi-na prison. The comedian was set free under the Thein Sein Government’s amnesty, which included more than 200 political prisoners.

Zarganar is celebrated for his jokes on junta’s policies and for helping victims of Cyclone Nargis. The quasi-civilian government has recently granted him a passport.

It is his first ever trip outside of the country; the FCCT arranged a reception event with Zarganar as its special guest.

He started his speech using the word ‘shock’ since he saw differences between Thailand and Burma in physical appearance. “When I saw the airplane I got a shock! When I saw the airport I got a shock! When I saw good road and big bridge I got a shock! And seeing big buildings I got a shock!” he told a crammed audience.

He continued that the most shocking sight for him was the different faces of young citizens between two countries – neighboring Thailand and Burma. The faces of youths in Bangkok were pleasant with “freedom” and “self-confidence” while youths in Burma look unpleasant with “insecurity” and “fright” on their faces.

Burma seems to be moving towards change after the new government took office.
Thein Sein met with Aung San Suu Kyi at his presidential office in Naypyidaw. Over 200 political prisoners were released to exploit international optimism. Some media restrictions have been relaxed to show government’s soft stance.

Moreover, the National League for Democracy led by Suu Kyi was allowed to register as a political party to contest in the imminent by-election. Besides, the government has been holding ceasefire talks with some ethnic armed groups.

Responding to a question from the audience whether he will enter politics, the comedian said that he had no plan to take part in the parliament by contesting an upcoming by-election.

“I don’t want to go to Naypyitaw, and I don’t want to participate in the by-election,” Zarganar said.

“Aunty is aunty, Zarganar is Zarganar,” the comedian said, referring to Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma’s Nobel laureate was freed from house arrest on November 13, 2010, days after the first general election in 20 years.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) was deprived of its category as a lawful political party by the previous junta last year after it decided to stay away from the election in 2010, complaining the set of laws was unjust.

Last month, Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann said that he welcomed the NLD’s return to parliament politics. Shwe Mann also said he welcomes her on behalf of the People’s Parliament if she was planning to compete for it.

Burma’s Union Election Commission allowed formation of the National League for Democracy as a political party last week. The NLD’s application for registration as political party has been submitted by 21 members including U Tin Oo and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It is in harmony with law and rules as the commission is scrutinizing applications for registration and allowing formation of political parties.

Since elections in November 2010 were widely criticized for vote-rigging, the new government’s initial reforms have been watchfully welcomed.

“This is watch-and-see time, so we just open the window to watch the government, what they do, what they are going to do,” the famous comedian said.

As Burma seeks to recover from its secluded position, Zarganar said lifting sanctions imposed by the West would show the way to more development aid from foreign countries “for our people, not for our military”.

However, Suu Kyi has been supporting the Western sanctions as part of her struggle against highhanded military rule in Burma. In other words, she is using the sanctions as a tool to help the emergence of the reconciliation dialogue.

Zarganar sees current situation as an appreciation to some extent.

“Now I am here. That is an improvement,” Zarganar said.

But suspicion of the regime remains, since Thein Sein government is formed mainly of former military generals and there are more than a thousand political prisoners in its notorious prisons where human rights abuses are still happening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

President Thein Sein: Real Reformer or Pretender?

TUESDAY, 20 DECEMBER 2011 17:43
By: Sai Wansai
Tuesday, 20 December 2011

President Thein Sein seems to be on the right track, when he ordered or instructed the military on December 10 to cease its offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/KIA). But reports coming in indicate that either the military is disobeying the presidential order or the instruction has not reached all the units, which according to Aung Thaung, Minister of Industry and head of the Union Level Peacemaking Group, sporadic skirmishes in remote areas occurred, due to the fact that troops there might not have received the instruction due to a lack of a proper telecommunication system.

According to the Kachin News Group (KNG) report of 17 December, Thein Sein's directive to halt offensive against the KIA has not been heeded. It writes: “Although Burma’s President Thein Sein publicly released a letter on December 10 to the commander-in-chief of the military directing the army to end its northern offensive, the Burmese army has continued to fight the KIO. Fighting has been particularly fierce in territory belonging to the Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) third battalion. Eyewitnesses on the ground in Kachin State report that despite Thein Sein’s peace directive, the army on Wednesday sent more than 500 troops to the Sadung region in preparation for an apparent government offensive."

Likewise, The Irrawaddy reported on 15 December that according to one Western observer fighting continues to rage on unabated near the KIO's headquarters of Laiza, on the Sino-Burmese border. The observer, who just returned on 14 December, said that fierce fighting just outside of Mai Ja Yang, a few kilometers away.

AP also reported on 14 December that despite the ceasefire announcement, KIA officials said fighting continued on the front lines and reinforcement troops were arriving.

"This is welcome," said Henry Hkaung, an advisor to the KIA's chief of staff. "But the problem is although Thein Sein has encouraged the army to stop offensive fighting; military offensives are still going on and mostly increasing the number in all parts of the state. The fighting on the front line is still going on, so the military does not listen to Thein Sein's order."

In an interview conducted by Mizzima, in Burmese, on 13 December, David Thakabaw, Vice-President of the Karen National Union (KNU) said, in order to achieve ceasefire, the government must first stop its offensives against all the non-Burman ethnic groups.

He said: "What I'm thinking now is that whether U Thein Sein really has the power to implement. Does he really want ceasefire? Does he have power over the military? As a president, he should have power. If he's fake he won't have power. We must now consider and decide on the given situation. We only want to discuss with the real president, so that it will be workable. If not, it will be only tactical move for us. That's why we need to wait and see, whether the president is genuine or fake."

As such, Aung Thaung's excuse of sporadic skirmishes, due to lack of a proper telecommunication system to relay the President's instruction to halt offensive on the KIA to the Burmese troops in the field, is totally unconvincing.

Thein Sein's progress in trying to polish his international standing could be said to be enormous, especially in accommodating Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD by widening the political space, even though major crucial points in the 2008 Constitution like military's right to be placed in a leading role position; 25% built-in seats allotment for the military in national, states and regions parliaments; military's right to declare emergency rule, whenever it feels national security is threatened and so on are not mentioned or discussed.

Accordingly, NLD is now allowed to be reregistered and would run for by-elections for 40 or more parliamentary vacant seats soon. In regional level, ASEAN has already endorsed Burma to chair in 2014, which it previously had surrendered following the crackdown on the saffron revolution. On top of this, Secretary of States, Hillary Clinton's historic visit to Burma, with the prospective opening up of ties with the US, a few weeks ago also has uplifted Burma's tattered legitimacy standing to a new height, which could eventually open previously closed doors, due to its gross human rights violations.

To date, Thein Sein regime has signed ceasefire agreement with four ethnic armed groups, United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and Shan State Army “South” (SSA-S), while negotiation is going on with the Shan State Army “North” (SSA-N) through the go-betweening of its former boss Gen Hso Ten, who was sentenced to 106 year imprisonment by Naypyitaw but released after serving 6 years.

Further talks have been going on with the Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Kachin National Organization (KNO) and Chin National Front (CNF), including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which Thein Sein regime is waging a major offensive.

And it is this double standard approach of ceasing hostilities on most all ethnic areas, while conducting a full scale war with a hundred or more battalions against the KIA, which makes the non-Burman ethnic armed groups doubtful of the regime’s sincerity to end the conflict.

Although there was a meeting between KIO and Burmese government representatives, in Ruili, Yunnan Province, China, on 29 November, no agreement could be reached, due to the fact that the KIO has insisted on political dialogue as a starting point, while the regime wanted to sign the ceasefire pact first, followed by establishing liaison offices, prior notification when entering each other’s territory, area development and finally union-level dialogue, used as a standard in negotiating with other ethnic armed groups.

After the breakdown of ceasefire agreement on 9 June, which has lasted some 17 years, due to the insistence of the Thein Sein regime to forcefully integrate the KIA into its Border Guard Force (BGF) plan under the Burma Army, several peace talks have been conducted between the two adversaries, without success.

The talks failed mainly because of the different political positioning. The KIO position has been the 1947 Panglong Agreement, guaranteeing the rights of all non-Burman ethnic nationalities in the multi-ethnic nation, which should serve as the basis for any agreement or political give-and-take. But the regime’s stance is to negotiate on the basis of the 2008 Constitution, which means the KIO needed to disarm its military wing, the KIA, aside from having to agree to the regime’s military supremacy position, without question.

Recently, Brig-Gen Gwan Maw, the deputy commander in chief of KIA, told DVB that a letter signed by U Aung Thaung, head of the national-level negotiating team, on 18 December. Accordingly, the government peace committee wanted to discuss political issues, and that eleven-man committee has been specifically formed to negotiate with the KIA, which also include U Aung Min, Minister of Railway and U Thein Zaw. The KIA is said to soon reply to the regime’s overtures.

According to The Mirror, the government owned newspaper, representatives from the DKBA and representatives from the union level of Thein Sein’s government met for the first time on 11 December, in Pa-an Town, Karen State. The DKBA was led by Major General Saw Lah Pwe and Burma government representative from union level was headed by Member of Parliament U Aung Thaung.

Both sides signed an agreement on the following points:

• Confirm temporary agreements reached at the 3rd November preliminary meeting,
• Not to separate Karen State from the Union of Burma,
• Uphold the three main national causes, (a) Non-disintegration of the Union, (b) Non-disintegration of the National Solidarity and (c) Perpetuation of Sovereignty,
• Set up temporary base at Sone Zee Myaing and carry out local development for the DKBA’s Klo Htoo Baw soldiers families in the Sukali area,
• Corporate with the government to eradicate [illicit] drugs and
• Continue to hold further talks to build lasting peace.

Meanwhile, RFA reported that Sai Lao Hseng, spokesman for SSA-S said that its representatives met the Burmese counterparts in Tachilek, on 17 December, and agreed to proceed to union level discussion, sometime in January 2012. SSA-S has signed a state level ceasefire agreement, on 2 December, in Taunggyi, with the Shan State Peacemaking Body. It looks that the SSA-S forthcoming meeting might somehow produce the same result like what the DKBA has just agreed.

Given such a perplexed scenario, one couldn’t help to wonder, as to why Thein Sein does not opt for a nation-wide ceasefire and hold a collective meeting, encompassing all stakeholders, to solve the problem once and for all.

The answer to the question could be that the President is not his own man and has still to take orders from General Than Shwe, the retired strongman and real power behind the government; or he is a real reformer having to do the tightrope walking, so that the hardliners don’t feel threatened or offended in anyway; or he is just pretending to be a reformer, when in fact, he is protecting the privileged military top brass, to which he also belong, by helping them to fade away in dignity and as well, with all their acquired, ill-gotten wealth of the country.

The contributor is the General Secretary of Shan Democratic Union (SDU) – Editor

Monday, December 19, 2011

ျပည္ေထာင္စုေရြးေကာက္ပြဲေကာ္မရွင္(တင္ေအးေကာ္မရွင္) ဆုိသည္မွာ

Tu Maung Nyo 12192011


Garmani 12192011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has died

December 18, 2011 10:13 PM

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in May, 2011. (AP Photo)

SEOUL, South Korea - Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69.

Kim's death 17 years after he inherited power from his father was announced Monday by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. The country's "Dear Leader" — reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine — was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

North Korea has been grooming Kim's third son to take over power from his father in the impoverished nation that celebrates the ruling family with an intense cult of personality.

South Korea put its military on "high alert" and President Lee Myung-bak convened a national security council meeting after the news of Kim's death.

In a "special broadcast" Monday, state media said Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" on Saturday during a "high intensity field inspection."

Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but he had appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.

Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. He had been groomed for 20 years to lead the communist nation founded by his guerrilla fighter-turned-politician father and built according to the principle of "juche," or self-reliance.

In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.

Even with a successor, there had been some fear among North Korean observers of a behind-the-scenes power struggle or nuclear instability upon the elder Kim's death.
Few firm facts are available when it comes to North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, and not much is clear about the man known as the "Dear Leader."

North Korean legend has it that Kim was born on Mount Paekdu, one of Korea's most cherished sites, in 1942, a birth heralded in the heavens by a pair of rainbows and a brilliant new star.

Soviet records, however, indicate he was born in Siberia, in 1941.

Kim Il Sung, who for years fought for independence from Korea's colonial ruler, Japan, from a base in Russia, emerged as a communist leader after returning to Korea in 1945 after Japan was defeated in World War II.

With the peninsula divided between the Soviet-administered north and the U.S.-administered south, Kim rose to power as North Korea's first leader in 1948 while Syngman Rhee became South Korea's first president.

The North invaded the South in 1950, sparking a war that would last three years, kill millions of civilians and leave the peninsula divided by a Demilitarized Zone that today remains one of the world's most heavily fortified.

In the North, Kim Il Sung meshed Stalinist ideology with a cult of personality that encompassed him and his son. Their portraits hang in every building in North Korea and on the lapels of every dutiful North Korean.

Kim Jong Il, a graduate of Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung University, was 33 when his father anointed him his eventual successor.

Even before he took over as leader, there were signs the younger Kim would maintain —and perhaps exceed — his father's hard-line stance.

South Korea has accused Kim of masterminding a 1983 bombing that killed 17 South Korean officials visiting Burma, now known as Myanmar. In 1987, the bombing of a Korean Air Flight killed all 115 people on board; a North Korean agent who confessed to planting the device said Kim ordered the downing of the plane himself.

Kim Jong Il took over after his father died in 1994, eventually taking the posts of chairman of the National Defense Commission, commander of the Korean People's Army and head of the ruling Worker's Party while his father remained as North Korea's "eternal president."

He faithfully carried out his father's policy of "military first," devoting much of the country's scarce resources to its troops — even as his people suffered from a prolonged famine — and built the world's fifth-largest military.

Kim also sought to build up the country's nuclear arms arsenal, which culminated in North Korea's first nuclear test explosion, an underground blast conducted in October 2006. Another test came in 2009.

Alarmed, regional leaders negotiated a disarmament-for-aid pact that the North signed in 2007 and began implementing later that year.
However, the process continues to be stalled, even as diplomats work to restart negotiations.

North Korea, long hampered by sanctions and unable to feed its own people, is desperate for aid. Flooding in the 1990s that destroyed the largely mountainous country's arable land left millions hungry.

Following the famine, the number of North Koreans fleeing the country through China rose dramatically, with many telling tales of hunger, political persecution and rights abuses that officials in Pyongyang emphatically denied.

Kim often blamed the U.S. for his country's troubles and his regime routinely derides Washington-allied South Korea as a "puppet" of the Western superpower.
U.S. President George W. Bush, taking office in 2002, denounced North Korea as a member of an "axis of evil" that also included Iran and Iraq. He later described Kim as a "tyrant" who starved his people so he could build nuclear weapons.

"Look, Kim Jong Il is a dangerous person. He's a man who starves his people. He's got huge concentration camps. And ... there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon," Bush said in 2005.

Kim was an enigmatic leader. But defectors from North Korea describe him as an eloquent and tireless orator, primarily to the military units that form the base of his support.

The world's best glimpse of the man was in 2000, when the liberal South Korean government's conciliatory "sunshine" policy toward the North culminated in the first-ever summit between the two Koreas and followed with unprecedented inter-Korean cooperation.

A second summit was held in 2007 with South Korea's Roh Moo-hyun.

But the thaw in relations drew to a halt in early 2008 when conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in Seoul pledging to come down hard on communist North Korea.

Disputing accounts that Kim was "peculiar," former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright characterized Kim as intelligent and well-informed, saying the two had wide-ranging discussions during her visits to Pyongyang when Bill Clinton was U.S. president.

"I found him very much on top of his brief," she said.

Kim cut a distinctive, if oft ridiculed, figure. Short and pudgy at 5-foot-3, he wore platform shoes and sported a permed bouffant. His trademark attire of jumpsuits and sunglasses was mocked in such films as "Team America: World Police," a movie populated by puppets that was released in 2004.

Kim was said to have cultivated wide interests, including professional basketball, cars and foreign films. He reportedly produced several North Korean films as well, mostly historical epics with an ideological tinge.

A South Korean film director claimed Kim even kidnapped him and his movie star wife in the late 1970s, spiriting them back to North Korea to make movies for him for a decade before they managed to escape from their North Korean agents during a trip to Austria.

rarely traveled abroad and then only by train because of an alleged fear of flying, once heading all the way by luxury rail car to Moscow, indulging in his taste for fine food along the way.

One account of Kim's lavish lifestyle came from Konstantin Pulikovsky, a former Russian presidential envoy who wrote the book "The Orient Express" about Kim's train trip through Russia in July and August 2001.

Pulikovsky, who accompanied the North Korean leader, said Kim's 16-car private train was stocked with crates of French wine. Live lobsters were delivered in advance to stations.

A Japanese cook later claimed he was Kim's personal sushi chef for a decade, writing that Kim had a wine cellar stocked with 10,000 bottles, and that, in addition to sushi, Kim ate shark's fin soup — a rare delicacy — weekly.

"His banquets often started at midnight and lasted until morning. The longest lasted for four days," the chef, who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, was quoted as saying.

Kim is believed to have curbed his indulgent ways in recent years and looked slimmer in more recent video footage aired by North Korea's state-run broadcaster.

Kim's marital status wasn't clear but he is believed to have married once and had at least three other companions. He had at least three sons with two women, as well as a daughter by a third.

His eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, 38, is believed to have fallen out of favor with his father after he was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001 saying he wanted to visit Disney's Tokyo resort.

His two other sons by another woman, Kim Jong Chul and Kim Jong Un, are in their 20s. Their mother reportedly died several years ago.

Kachinland hta Majan galoi ngut na?

June shata(9) ya shani Sanggang ginra kaw na bai byin hpang wa ai majan ndai gaw daini na ten du hkra nzim lu shi ai. Majan ndai gaw 1961 ning kaw na Kachinland hta byin hpang wa ai rai yang shaning 50 pyi jan mat hkra mungkan hta galu dik ai Dinghku Majan hku nna labau sara kaba ni tsun lang hpang wa nga masai re. Majan ndai galoi ngut na? Myen Hpyen Jaubu ni hte Myen Amyu sha Nationalist ni hta jan nna ndai gasan hpe lu htai na lam nnga na nhten ngu sawn maram lu nga ai.

Myen Asuya hte KIO/KIA lapran naw shai hkat nga ai mung masa ningmu law law nga ai kaw na kaba dik ai manghkang hpe tsun ga nga yang – Myen Asuya hte Myen Nationalist ni kaw nna Kachin hte kaga Myen Mung ethnics malawm ni hpe Equal Rights jaw na matu myit tawn ai lam nnga wa yu ai zawn hkyen shajin tawn ai lam mung ya du hkra tsep kawp nnga shi ma ai, shanhte tsun nga ai gaw Gap Hkat jahkring nhtawm Rawt Malan galaw nga ai ningbaw ni hpe hpaga ga na ahkaw ahkang hpaw ya na, shanhte jum hpareng nga ai mung masa npu e shang lawm na matu hte gau ngwi ngwi laknak lang ai masa hpe dawm mat wa na lam rai nhtawm, KIO/KIA hte kaga ethnic rawt malan ai amyu sha ni hku nna gaw tinang amyu sha ni a maren mara ahkaw ahkang ni hpe nlu dingsa lachyum pru ai mung masa bawngban sa wa na matu Myen Asuya hte Myen Nationalist ni hpe matut pressure jaw mat wa na ngu ai lam ndai lahkawng gaw Wan Leng Lam lahkawng zawn langai hte langai hkrum wa lu na matu grai loi ai bungli nrai nga ai.

Raiyang June 30, 2011 kaw na Col. Than Aung Myen Dat kasa hpung ni dat nhtawm gap hkat jahkring ai lam hte Mungdan Simsa lam ngu ai ga baw ni hpe gayau gaya nga nna lang hte lang hkrum bawngban ai lam nga ai zawn, maga myi hku nna KIO/KIA hpe n-gun kya, hten bya mat wa hkra mung Myen Asuya hte Myen Nationalist ni hku nna dingyang shakut nga ma ai. shingrai lani hte lani grung kaba wa nga ai Kachinland kata na majan a majaw Myen Asuya hte Myen Nationalist ni tsun nga ai Ritkawp hkan ai Democracy Myen Mungdan nnan gaw sharawt sa wa na lam ngu ai mung majoi nbung gawut taw ai zawn byin nga sai hpe Myen Asuya hte Myen nationalist ni nan chye nga chyalu rai malu ai.

Hpyen Majan ngu ai gaw lani myi na nhtoi hta zim mat wa ra na sha rai nga ai, raitim Mung Masa Majan ngu ai gaw zim mat na nmai byin nga ai. Mungkan hta Democracy masa kaba dik hte galu kaba grin nga sai USA Mungdan gaw Mung masa majan kaba dingyang gasat hkat nga ai mungdan re ngu mai tsun lu nga ai.

Myen Asuya hte Myen nationalist ni gaw Myen Mung baw-sang malawm amyu(ethnic) ni hpe mung masa majan dang hkra galaw na matu zai ladat amyu myu shapraw nhtawm lagaw lahkam htawt hpang wa nga masai..tsawra myit hte anhte hpyi jahtau nga ai maren mara ahkaw ahkang ngu ai hpe loi loi hte jaw na lam ngu ai mung nmai byin ai lam rai nga ai.

Ntsa lam prau shalau yu yang, June shata (9) kaw na daini du hkra shata Kru laman Jinghpaw Wunpawng mung shawa ni kaw na mung masa shamu shamawt ai lam nmu mada ai, Mandalay Buddist monks(Myen Hpungkyi) ni woi awn nhtawm Majan zim na matu kyuhpyi ai lamang hte gangbang hkaw tsun hpawng ni zawn anhte nlu galaw ga ai..1988 ning jawngma kasu ai zawn Lam ntsa lam hkawm n-gun madun ai zawn re mung nbyin pru wa ga ai, raitim Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu sha ni a kata hta gaw gara prat hta mung nbyin pru wa yu ai amyu sha kahkyin gumdin ai lam hpe lu la ga ai sha nrai Myen Hpyen ni a zingri zingrat ai lam hpe ninghkap gasat ai lam hta mung Jinghpaw Wunpawng Mung shawa ni kaw na madi shadaw garum ntum ni hpe mau na zawn rai KIO/KIA ni hkam la nga masai.. nmu lu tim grau kahkyin gumdin wa ai lam ni gaw Myen asuya hte Myen nationalist ni hkrit tsang dik htum rai na hpe asan sha maram lu nga ai..

Anhte Jinghpaw Wunpawng amyu sha ni hku nna dinghku majan ndai zim mat ai hpang Mung Masa Majan hpe matut gasat na matu jin nga saka ai kun?

1994 ning KIO hte Myen Hpyen Asuya gap hkat jahkring nhtawm Hpyen Majan shazim kau ai hpang Jinghpaw Wunpawng Mung shawa kaw na KIO/KIA hpe Myen Hpyen ni hpe n-gap ai majaw ram ram dinglun lai wa sai lam nga wa yu sai..Mung masa majan hpe mung KIA hpe sha nawng(kam) tawn nhtawm mung shawa ni kaw na Mung Masa shamu shamawt ai lam nnga yang awng dang na lam gaw ram ram nloi nga ai..dai majaw Jinghpaw Wunpawng amyu sha ni hku nna KIO/KIA hte Hpyen Majan hta pawng hpawm nhtawm lahkrip ra ra gasat lawm, n-gun jaw ai zawn htawm hpang shawng lam na Mung Masa Majan hta raitim shingran kaja, Mung Masa Zai Ladat nnan hte lahkrip ra ra jawm gasat ai raiyang anhte myit mada, ap nawng shakut shaja nga ai amyu sha ahkaw ahkang hpe lu la na re ngu ngai kam sham ai lam hpe tang madun dat nngai rai.

Yumaya Hpyen Magam-gun Dingsa

December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kachin Relief Fund - Food Fair

Omaha Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu sha ni a shawng n’nan lang naamyu sha lam yan, garum kahtau sa wa ai lamang hku nna lu sha dut hte tsunsanglang, madun zuphpawng hpe sa shang lawm ai marai 500 daram hte December 17,2011(Laban Kru) ya shani e kabu gara awng dang galaw la lu sai lam shiga chyelu ai..Zup hpawng sa shang lawm ai masha ni a lapran hta ahkyak ai manam kabani hku nna Omaha Mayor, Refugees rung lithkam salang ni, Senator rung masha ni htemakam masham de na Hpung sara kaba ni mung shang lawm ai lam na chye lug a ai.

Omaha, Nebraska

Kachin people in Myanmar face food shortages: Al Jazeera

Aid agencies in northern Myanmar say tens of thousands of ethnic Kachin people are facing food shortages and health problems.

The Kachin, one of many ethnic groups in Myanmar, have been fighting for greater autonomy since the country gained independence from Britain more than six decades ago.

A 17 year ceasefire with the government was broken in June, after a dispute over a government project to build a dam in the state.

Over the past six months, around 30,000 people have been displaced and in the makeshift refugee camps, conditions are difficult.

Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports.

Burma: Amy turns deaf ear to halt war in Kachin State

By Zin Linn Dec 17, 2011 12:45PM UTC

Burma’s President Thein Sein civilian government has been maneuvering war against the Kachin rebels incessantly, although there are heavy casualties on its side. Starting from 9 June, the six-month long civil war claimed more than a thousand lives of government soldiers.

Recently, President Thein Sein has issued an instruction to Burma’s Commander-in-Chief to halt the offensive against the KIO. However, the war continues and people continue to run for their lives. So, the speech of the government is not consistent with the attempt of its armed forces.

As a consequence of the warfare between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army, local inhabitants were fleeing from Kachin State to Northern Shan State, but authorities have taken no responsibility for them, quoting locals eyewitnesses, Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N) said.

According to one Nam-Kham resident, more than 400 victims arrived at the church last week. The victims said that the Burmese soldiers had bombarded their village as well as its surroundings. Altogether 456 people, mostly Shan and Kachin from Kachin State, reached Nam-Kham, Northern Shan State, in the evening of 12 December, Shan Herald Agency for News reported.

The victims are children, women and the elderly from villages including Kat-Para, Nam-Hsar, Oo-Lampa and Kha-Shan in Mansi Township, Kachin State. They had fled because they were afraid of being mistreated by the Burmese soldiers, according to one of the displaced people.

A temporary refugee camp has been set up by the Catholic abbot at Aung Myitta and Sa Lay Tan wards and provided for their requirements, a civilian official in Aung Myitta ward said.

The abbot and the neighborhood residents provided blankets, clothes, household utensils and food for the victims but government officials provided nothing. Instead, they asked questions like whether the war refugees had their ID cards or not.

As reported by Shan Herald Agency for News, more than 10,000 victims are fleeing to Bhamo, Waing Maw and Myitkyina. There are 40,000 displaced people said to be at Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)’s Laiza area. The United Nations organizations are there to help them, according to KIO sources.

On 14 December, the state-run New Light of Myanmar claimed that the central government provided a significant amount of aid to needy refugees living in the KIO-controlled territory on Monday December 12.

But, the KIO dismissed the news of aid to refugees in the government media. According to Kachin News Group, representatives of the KIO have proved their false propaganda published in Burmese government state-media about the central government’s “humanitarian” contribution to refugees displaced by fighting in Kachin and Northern Shan state.

It was a UN convoy carrying humanitarian aid that arrived into the KIO territory on December 12, but there were no governmental “humanitarian” contribution to refugees. The state-media’s description of the aid convoy is misleading and false, the KIO said.

Last month, representatives of the President Thein Sein government and the KIO met twice for talks which have so far failed to bring about a halt to the fighting. The Burmese army continues to send in troops to the area, leading many to conclude that Naypyidaw wants to bring about a military solution to the conflict.

Local sources on the ground in the Kachin state say that during the past week the Kachin resistance has inflicted a large number of casualties on poorly trained Burmese conscript troops, as the central government’s offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization enters its seventh month.

According to a KIA source, in the outskirts of Dingga village there were more than 10 burial sites where fallen Burmese soldiers had recently been buried. One Burmese officer was among those fallen soldiers in the area, said a KIA officer to the Kachin News Group on Friday. The officer also said that the Burmese army’s arson attack on the village appeared to be in retaliation to losing so many of their comrades to the Kachin resistance.

In September, the US-based NGO ‘Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)’ conducted an investigation in Burma’s Kachin State in response to reports of grave human rights violations in the region. PHR found that between June and September 2011, the Burmese army looted food from civilians, fired indiscriminately into villages, threatened villages with attacks, and used civilians as porters and human minesweepers.

IDP's Statement(in burmese)

IDPs Statement

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crisis in Kachin (B)

Zingri Zingret Dec 16 2001-A

Crisis in Kachin -(A)

Zingri Zingret Dec 16 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag sailing in the Yellow Sea

This Dec. 8, 2011 satellite image provided by the the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center shows the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag sailing in the Yellow Sea, approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian, China.
(AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Clinton's Myanmar trip 'won't hurt ties'

Updated: 2011-12-14 07:58
By Ma Liyao and Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily)

BEIJING - The United States has no intention of negatively influencing China-Myanmar relations, a US official said on Tuesday.

Ambassador Derek Mitchell, the US special representative and policy coordinator for Myanmar, was in Beijing on the third leg of his Asia trip to brief China on

Washington's improving relations with the Southeast Asian country after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit.

Mitchell said in his meetings with Chinese officials he wanted "to gain perspectives about how China is thinking about things and see if there might be opportunities to coordinate, cooperate and work together in the interests of regional stability as well as the interests of the (Myanmar) people", according to Reuters.

Clinton wrapped up her three-day visit to Myanmar on Dec 2, the first by a US secretary of state since 1955.

Clinton's visit was based on the judgment that the country was starting a political reform process to "adopt a path to democracy and openness and development for all of the people", Mitchell said.

According to a brief announcement in the official media on Tuesday, Myanmar's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, was re-registered as a legal political party.

The NLD had made clear earlier that it would run in upcoming by-elections after the party regained legal status. The date of the by-elections has not been announced, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Myanmar's political reform process is still at a "very early stage", said Mitchell.
Mitchell's trip to Beijing followed visits to Seoul and Tokyo.

On Monday, the United Kingdom announced that Foreign Secretary William Hague is expected to visit Myanmar early next month.

Song Qingrun, a Myanmar studies researcher with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Mitchell's visit is an attempt to explain Clinton's visit.

Mitchell said "there's no intent" to negatively influence China-Myanmar relations while the US is developing its relationship with Myanmar, adding that it's not in the interests of the US for Myanmar to have tension with its neighbors.

Tao Wenzhao, a senior fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said though Clinton's visit was partly a response to Myanmar's reform initiatives, it can also be seen as an integral part of the US strategy to regain its influence in Asia, noting that prior to Clinton's visit, several senior US diplomats, including Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, had visited the country.

However, analysts also said the current US engagement with Myanmar is still at the "primary phase" and the lifting of sanctions is still not in sight.

China recognizes and understands Myanmar's need to diversify its diplomatic ties, and that does not necessarily come at the expense of China-Myanmar relations, analysts said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said earlier this month that China believes Myanmar and Western countries should improve relations on the basis of mutual respect, and relevant countries should lift sanctions on Myanmar to promote its stability and development.

Ouyang Yuanhua contributed to the story.

China Daily