Monday, October 31, 2011

Monks Flee Monastery

Chinese authorities clamp down on a renowned Tibetan monastery following a bomb blast.

Tibetan monks at a monastery in Shanba township in China's Sichuan province, Oct. 19, 2011.

Chinese authorities have banned religious activities and harassed monks at an ancient monastery in Tibet's Chamdo prefecture following a bomb explosion at a government building there last week, sources said Sunday.

Most of the monks at the monastery in Dzagyu Karma township where the blast occurred have fled the institution, saying they cannot bear the pressure piled on them by Chinese security forces.

The stepped-up security came amid rising Tibetan protests, including 10 self-immolations this year, against Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas.

Tibetans in Dzagyu Karma particularly are angry at a government program to resettle Han Chinese in their area and have warned of violence if it is not stopped.

Since Wednesday's blast, Chinese security forces and government officials have zeroed in on the Karma monastery, located on the eastern bank of the Dzachu River in Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) prefecture and founded in the 12th century.

They suspect that monks in the institution are linked to the blast, which badly damaged the building but left no casualties as it occurred at night after office hours.

"Chinese police, armed public security, and government officials have been coming to Karma monastery every day," one resident said in an email to RFA. "They conducted meetings, issued threats, and blocked all traffic in the area."

"They took each monk's photo and fingerprints and also collected blood samples from each monk. They also forced each monk to give three writing samples."

Security officials have also ordered another meeting with the monks on Sunday.

"In this way, the monks of Karma monastery are being subjected to extreme harassment and threats," the resident said. "Most monks have left the monastery to evade restrictions and harassment. Now only three elders monks are left behind in the monastery."

Foreigners banned

Other sources, including a travel agent, a hotel, and a television station in Chamdo, effectively confirmed the resident's account of the post-blast situation in Dzagyu Karma.

The travel agent said foreigners have been banned from entering the Chamdo area while all Chinese nationals have to produce residential permits and other identification documents as part of new security measures.

According to the resident, the Chinese security forces launched their clampdown of the monastery and took other security measures after finding posters and leaflets calling for Tibetan independence at the building after the bomb explosion.

The anti-Chinese paraphernalia could also highlight Tibetan anger over the arrival of Han Chinese into the area for employment, the resident said.

"Leaflets were thrown in the area and writings were seen on the building walls and other street walls calling for independence of Tibet and freedom for Tibetans."

The resident said the Chinese government recently launched construction projects in rural areas, known as as "Centers for Communist Party Projects,” aimed at resettling more Chinese in the countryside.

"The same construction [projects] are also going on in the Karma area."

Officially, the resident said, the Chinese settlers are meant to help oversee the welfare of the Tibetans in the rural areas.

Among the writings on the walls, one said, "‘Anyone who settles in the rural area should speak Tibetan. Otherwise, we will not accept them."

"If this policy of settling Chinese in Tibetan rural areas is not stopped, we will protest and may be forced to resort to violence."

Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai and Rachel Vandenbrink.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

DVB TV News Oct 28, 2011


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wunpawng Mungdan Shanglawt Asuya hte(6) ya tup gap hkat ai Ga Ra yang, Shwi Nyawngpin Lung Zep kadawng majan hta myen Asuya hpyen dap hpyen hpung ni gaw hkrat sum ai nau law wa ai majaw Mungkan Ninggawn rap daw kaw na pat tawn da ai Dadu lak nak (chemical weapon) ni hte KIA hpyen hpung ni hpe gap bun ai lam na chye lu ai, myen a prat dep hpuntang (shingchyai) laknak nsa marawp hkrup ai tinang KIA hpyemnla marai 10 daram gaw baw sin, matut manoi madawn ai hte kya gumhpap mat nna nmai gasat mat ai lam na chye lu ai.

Bai, mani Oct. 29 bat kru ya Laiza hte nau ntsan ai Ntap Bum gasat poi hta mung myen hpyen ni gaw shanhte dap ni nau si hkala wa ai majaw Dadu (shingchyai) laknak (chemical weapon) ni hte KIA hpyen hpung ni hpe gap bun ai majaw KIA myu tsaw hpeynla marai 4 daram gaw matut gap nmai hkum ting kya gumhpap mat ai the madawn hkrai madawn rai byin ai lam tatut majan shang nga ai shawng lam ginra de na ni shana wa ai.

Gara hpan ganing re laknak re hpe hkrak nchye tim dai gaw prat dep hpuntang laknak (Chemical Weapon) re hpe asan sha dan dawng nga sai lam hkrum katut ai ni sakse hkam dat wa ai. Ndai zawn n-tara ai ladat hte UN mungkan rapdaw a hpyen ritkawp tara hpe tawt lai ai myen Asuya hpyen dap ni hpe mungkan rapdaw UN kaw na mung, mungkan mungdan shara shagu na ni mung jawm ninghkam mara shagun ra nga sai ngu mu mada ai.

Jinghpaw Kasa Blog kaw na la mara ai re.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why is the Burmese Army Rapist?

Sep 9th, 2011
Kanbawza Win

Among the many races and different ethnic nationalities residing in Burma, Myanmar is the only ethnic race that harbours the African mentality This phrase may be galling to the Myanmar, but as an academic, we have to call “a spade a spade.” for we cannot lie. Burma still maintains the title of the longest civil war in the world yet we have not heard of any ethnic resistance army or a resistance pro democracy group committing rape, Why? This is because the ethnic nationalities army and pro democratic groups are born out of the people, whereas the Burmese army or rather Myanmar Tatmadaw (jrefrmhwyfrawmf ) in Burmese is raping the ethnic women with impunity because it was simply a pocket army of the Generals. Instead the Tatmadaw did not feel any remorse or regret but instead they are even proud to do that as it is their bounden duty to clean the country of the undesirable ethnic nationalities. This is the psyche and rationale of the Myanmar Tatmadaw that compels them to rape and pillage the country. Hence it is predictable that it will continue to do that in the future also because rape by a Burmese soldier is considered as a reward of his hard work..

Rape as a weapon of war has been in existence for quite sometimes particularly in Africa and later in Bosnia. The Tatmadaw just copy from these examples as is practicing it on its ethnic nationalities as a means of ethnic cleansing to create a policy of a great nation.

Harking back to World History one can discover of how William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy vanquished the Britons in 1066 (just 22 years before the first Burmese Kingdom, Pagan Dynasty was established), rape the existing Saxons women, intermarried them and later became one race, the English which is a great nation. So also when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, the Europeans followed, kill the aboriginals (Red Indians, which is neither red or Indians) and eventually created the United States of America and Canada which are great nations of modern time. So also the Myanmar ethnic race wants to create the fourth Myanmar Empire and is following the steps of the three warrior kings whose huge statues can be seen in Naypyidaw. Hence raping the women and girls of the ethnic nationalities is a natural phenomenon.

They construe that ethnic nationalities are all rebels bent on balkanization. Their philosophy is that the present day Burma is developed in a linear fashion straight from the founding of the first Burmese kingdom in 1044 AD under king Anawrahta. Only the British colonization of the Myanmar Kingdom for 120 years was disrupted this historical development. They believe in the accounts of their mighty, expansionistic imperialist empires with subordinate alliances made up of multi-ethnic and multi-language communities, including the Shan, the Arakanese, the Mons, and so on, encompassing the present day Burma and its political boundaries and, at times, stretching into neighbouring India and Thailand, others are their subordinates and hence should not be treated as equal but above the ethnic nationalities. Hence an average Myanmar view the ethnic nationality as somewhat the necessary evil of the country where he is destined to live forever and that it is his unbounded duty to lead him to civilization He/she must be showed the real civilization of the Myanmar people and finally lead him to Theravada Buddhism on to Nirvana. It is a historical duty to bring these ethnic nationalities into Myanmar race and this is the sole reason of why the current administration did not accept the Panglong Concordat where everyone will share as the founding father of Modern Burma said “Shan Ta Kyat Bama Ta Kyat” (&Srf;wusyfArmwusyf) meaning we will share equally in weal and woe with justice and equality among the ethnic national races. This is the underlying cause of why the Tatmadaw is a rapist army.

Before 1988 a secret order was issued that any Myanmar soldier who is able to marry an ethnic women is rewarded a handsome amount of money but this happens to be difficult and slow and so when the Tatmadaw takes over the administration, it encourages raping the ethnic nationalities. This unwritten message can be read by the lieutenants, and captains and hence it was these ranks who committed most of the rape cases. Research by ethnic women organizations proves that an average soldier seldom committed this crime. In the long run if only there one race Myanmar, one religion Theravada Buddhism and one country Burma will be able to govern and stand tall in the international community is their basic philosophy.

A hard-hitting report released in 2002 by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) – ‘A Licence to Rape’ – outlined in great detail the use of such a despicable ploy. International organisations and foreign governments looked into the allegations and confirmed the practice really was occurring. Today, with a number of former ceasefire groups facing the guns of the Burmese military, the use of rape has extended to women from these ethnic communities as well.

As usual the Junta denied it – as they do with virtually every accusation – but things have not change. The latest report about rapes in Shan State comes only weeks after the Kachin Women’s Association denounced the rape of 18 women and girls during renewed fighting in Kachin State Rape brings stigma, shame, and reluctance on the part of victims to speak out about what happened to them. But an increasing number of women and girls from Burma – the ones that survived – have begun to tell of their experiences of rape and other forms of sexual violence in the country’s war-torn areas. Burmese Army deserters confirm that rapes occur regularly and usually go unpunished. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has published material that corroborates details in ‘A Licence to Rape’ and adds many new cases.
“Lying the very concept of Truth” being the motto of the Tatmadaw obviously refuses to grant the UN access to the country to enquire about the rape. As incidents of rape continue to be reported, and the Burmese military must surely know what is happening. However the Junta engages in Orwellian double-speak has rejected the reports, instead launching its own investigations, and formed Myanmar National Human Rights Commission where one can hardly have confidence in their credibility and became a laughing stock of the world.

In 2000, the UN Security Council recognised that gender-based violence thwarts security and adopted Resolution 1325, which calls on parties in conflict to respect the rights of women and children, and particularly to prevent gender-based violence. In 2004, ASEAN governments vowed to end the impunity states like Burma have enjoyed and signed the Declaration to Eliminate Violence Against Women in this region. But these resolutions won’t mean much unless action is taken. While the United Nations and a number of Western countries have spoken out against the use of rape in Burma’s military campaigns, members of the ASEAN community have been conspicuously quiet. This Constructive Engagement Policy of the ASEAN enables the Tatmadaw to carry on its horrific military tactics.

Rape in the real world, however, is receiving media attention, and public consciousness is being raised about it. What is new is not the practice of mass rape but the extent of its relatively recent publicity and some of rape’s consequences for public health in an era of HIV. The most common post-traumatic disorders are found in women and children subject to rape: Rape victims, battered women, and sexually abused children are its casualties in this longest civil war. Hysteria is the combat neurosis of the sex war. The role of women who are raped and then murdered is like that of people who are murdered in a bombing.

By raping women Tatmadaw send a clear message that they will do like this again if the resistance ethnic group continue to resist and did not obey their command. This also sends another message to the second targets i.e. the populace under their control that everybody must obey the Tatmadaw command or else face the consequence of rape. So the ubiquitous threat of rape is a form of terrorism. Rape served as a double edge dagger not only to the women survivors who were its immediate victims but also the men socially connected to them

Rape is a cross-cultural language of Tatmadaw domination as forcible impregnation and is a tool of genetic imperialism. Where the so-conceived child’s social identity is determined by that of the biological father, impregnation by rape can undermine family solidarity. Even if no pregnancy results, knowledge of the rape has been sufficient for many men in patriarchal societies to reject wives, mothers, and daughters. Tatmadaw aims to destroy an ethnic nationality’s identity by decimating cultural and social bonds. Many women and girls are killed when rapists are finished with them. If survivors become pregnant or are known to be rape survivors, cultural, political, and national unity may be thrown into chaos. These have been among the apparently intended purposes of the mass rapes of women in Burma

Tatmadaw treat the situation of women who are enslaved as war captives and war booty. Captured and impregnated females might be “persuaded” to alter their loyalties where nothing comparable could have been done to change the loyalties of their fathers or spouses. Enslavement rather than slaughter as war captives has two apparent advantages. First, if any woman might become a war captive, it could be to his advantage to survive (rather than be killed) even as a sex slave and hope for a reversal of fortune. Second, sex slavery instituted a class system, providing exploitable productive labour for conquerors. But to what advantages could a woman look forward who was enslaved rather than slaughtered? Would a captured woman who was impregnated, gave birth, and then survived to be freed when political fortunes changed are better off after the change of political fortune? What would have become of her identity or her children and her ties to them? Or, as a wife of Tatmadaw soldier, what would it do for her were her husband to take female concubines from defeated peoples? Are the many questions that cannot be answered.

Unwittingly, rape has become a political institution in Burma . That soldiers who rape “enemy women” are not to be reported. A soldier may rape because he was ordered, or because he felt like it. Superior officers, on the other hand, may look the other way because of the martial purposes such rapes serve. Burmese soldiers may not always be given direct orders. They may be induced in other ways, for example, they may be given reason to believe that if they do not participate, they will be beaten or raped themselves. Hence the attitude of a Tadmadaw soldier to ethnic women is “We will do everything to ensure that your children become Myanmar”

Tatmadaw use rape to demoralize and disrupt bonds among the ethnic nationalities and to create bonds among perpetrators. Of many forms of, rape has a special potential to drive a wedge between family members and to carry the expression of the perpetrator’s dominance into future generations. A major long-range aim of rape would be to eliminate patriarchal and protectionist values. Organized rape has been an integral aspect of Tatmadaw warfare for a long time The primary target here is to inflict trauma and through this to destroy family ties and group solidarity within the ethnic nationalities. It is a fundamental way of abandoning subjects: rape is the mark of sovereignty stamped directly on the body, that is, it is essentially a bio-political strategy using the distinction between the self and the body. Through an analysis of the way rape was carried out by the predominantly Myanmar soldiers is introduced within the woman’s body (sperm or forced pregnancy), transforming her into an abject-self rejected by the family, excluded by the community and quite often also the object of a self-hate, sometimes to the point of suicide. A Myanmar soldier is made to believes that the penetration of the woman’s body works as a metaphor for the penetration of enemy lines. In addition it is argued that this bio-political strategy, like other forms of sovereignty, operates through the creation of an ‘inclusive exclusion’. The woman and the community in question are inscribed within the enemy realm of power as those excluded. The impact of rape goes far beyond the immediate effects of the physical attack and has long-lasting consequences.

Rape by the Tatmadaw soldiers is not a simple by-product of war, but is a well planned and targeted policy. This recognition of rape as a weapon of war has taken on legal significance at the Rwandan and Yugoslav Tribunals where rape has been prosecuted as a crime against humanity and genocide. The apparent primary aim of the rapes by the Burmese army is the expulsion and dispersion of entire ethnic groups. The idea is to destroy family and community bonds, humiliate and terrorize, ultimately to drive out and disperse entire peoples in “ethnic cleansing,” the current euphemism for genocide in Burma

Hence the international bodies and UN should consider taking the Burmese General to the International Court for Justice. Burma has refuses to live up to the standards of decency that ASEAN has set for itself. Surely more can be done. Sadly, there seems to be little political will to do anything about ongoing atrocities in Burma. ASEAN needs to act, because its credibility erodes every day that nothing is done. What hypocrisy will be more apparent than giving the chairperson of ASEAN to Burma in 2014. Obviously it will reflect the ASEAN values to see. Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesia’s Foreign Minister and the current ASEAN Chairperson to visit Naypyidaw. instead of pushing Co1 as others civilized nations have done.

Friday, October 28, 2011

UN caginess hides a Kachin refugee crisis

DVB News
Published: 28 October 2011

Reports that have emerged from Kachin state in northern Burma since the region spiralled into war earlier this year have made for grisly reading: close to 40 cases of rape of ethnic women by Burmese troops; countless incidences of forced labour; hundreds of civilians trapped in free-fire zones, and so on. After a brief lull, fighting has escalated in recent weeks, and is nearing an intensity not seen in the region for nearly two decades.

The meagre aid reaching victims of the conflict has largely been organised by local entities – churches, women’s organisations, and sympathetic families, as well as the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), whose armed wing has been battling Burmese forces since 9 June. These groups have been forced to step in and compensate for the lack of UN aid reaching refugees, which are thought to number between 25,000 and 30,000 – the vast majority are internally displaced persons (IDPs), while a few have managed to slip across the border into China.

Of that total figure, only around 6,000 are receiving UN aid, and the majority of these are in the Kachin state capital of Myitkyina and the towns of Bhamo and Waingmaw, which are under Burmese control. To date, no UN body will clarify why such a small proportion of refugees are being given assistance, although the most likely scenario is that the Burmese government has blocked offers of aid to those sheltering outside of its territory. UN envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana, one of the few Burma players in the UN who has not let up pressure on the regime, wrote in a recent report that UN offers appear to have been rebuffed by the government, which claims to be “[assisting] at the local level, and when needed they will seek further assistance from relevant partners.”

Claims that all refugees are being provided for, as the government seems to suggest, do not marry with independent local reports that have warned for months that food and medical supplies are low. Human Rights Watch said last week that Burmese troops continue to pillage villages, while supply lines carrying rice, medicine and water purification solution to the conflict zone have been blocked by the army.

The UNOCHA agency, which coordinates aid and which has an office in Rangoon, released a report in September that homed in on the needs of the 6,000-odd refugees in government territory that it has access to, whilst sidelining the 20,000-odd sheltering in Kachin areas. Nowhere in its ‘Recommendations’ section was there a call to allow them access to those 20,000. The reasons for its myopia may be manifold, but all point to a real reluctance to highlight ongoing, inhumane government and military policy towards Burmese refugees and IDPs. Acknowledging the thousands sheltering in KIO territory would go against Naypyidaw’s assertions that both the conflict is not on the scale feared, and that the vast majority of refugees have chosen to seek refuge in opposition territory rather than the government’s.

The arena that international aid groups in Burma work in is a fragile one, where criticism of the government can equal eviction or curtailment of operations. Thus they are effectively required to tow the official line (although the current OCHA head in Burma, Barbara Manzi, was more frank during a 2006 posting in Sudan when she told US diplomats that “confinement [of aid workers] is hampering food distribution to the estimated 73,000 refugees in need of food assistance” – a problem strikingly similar to the one in Kachin state now).

The major problem with the UN’s caginess is that projecting an artificial image of control means that backdoor donors who could channel crucial unofficial aid cross-border and through churches are not alerted to the crisis, while a complacency could set in among international donor countries who still see the UN as the most effective safety net for refugees in Burma. In short, although correcting government spin could well affect its work in the country, at least in this case it has proven to be an ineffective player.

When contacted by DVB, OCHA said that it could not comment on Quintana’s concerns that 15,000 were not receiving aid, but only that negotiations to get aid to all of those in need “is ongoing”. Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, also told a press briefing on Thursday that “assistance is being delivered in reachable areas … [and] discussions continue to ensure that assistance reaches all those in need.”

The guarded rhetoric is typical of the UN and other INGOs in Burma, whose public statements often vary greatly from concerns voiced behind the scenes. This is is understandable insomuch as the UN needs that continued access, but it paints a highly distorted picture: take the aid debacle after Cyclone Nargis in 2008, for example, when an OCHA staff member secretly told US officials that “the UN was concerned that ‘coming out strong’ on forced relocation [of cyclone victims by the army] at this time could jeopardize the access to the Delta the regime had recently granted UN international staff.” Private discussions with officials at the time, and which have now been leaked, showed that the extent of government ineptitude and paranoia, and the brutality of its treatment of victims, went far beyond what the UN was willing to publicly share with the world.

Another by-product of this policy is that it discredits the findings of local groups, whose work is often dismissed as politicised or rudimentary. The current crisis in Kachin state shows however that these groups are crucial to our wider understanding of the situation, and therefore that the impetus for action should not solely rest on ‘official’ bodies like the UN. Moreover, these somewhat blinkered assessments are being circulated at a time when the Burmese government is attempting, and with alarming success, to shore up its image; yet its denial of the extent of the crisis in Kachin state, which has been massaged by the UN, provides a fitting analogy for how much of the outside world has selectively judged the new government’s merits, whilst ignoring its major shortcomings.

ဥပေဒအထက္၌ ဖက္စစ္ဗမာ့တပ္မေတာ္ရွိေၾကာင္း ကခ်င္ျပည္သူတို ့ကို ဗမာအစိုး၇ျပသ-၃

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Burma: Kachin churches attacked, women raped and civilians killed by military while regime talks of reform

London, 22 October, (

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is deeply concerned by reports that the Burma Army are directly attacking churches in Kachin State, beating pastors and church members, setting homes alight and raping, torturing and killing civilians.
According to CSW’s sources, on 16 October soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 438 seized control of a Roman Catholic Church in Namsan Yang village, Waimaw Township, where 23 worshippers, mostly women and elderly people, had gathered for the 8am Sunday service. The worshippers took refuge from the gunfire behind the Maria prayer sanctuary. When the troops saw them, they shot several rounds of bullets into the sanctuary. The Catholic assistant to the priest, 49 year-old father-of-four Jangma Awng Li, decided to speak to the troops as he is fluent in Burmese. He was beaten in his head with a rifle butt, and injured his forehead when he hit a concrete wall. He and four other men were handcuffed and detained by the soldiers.

The troops, who were later joined by soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 121, continued to march through the village shooting, and reached the Baptist church compound in the evening. During the march the detainees, including four from other villages who had been with the troops for two weeks, were used as forced labor. The detainees had to stay with the troops overnight and were temporarily stationed in the Baptist church compound. The whole northern part of village was burned and both church properties were destroyed.

Two days ago, Light Infantry Battalion 121 shot 72 yea r-old Maru Je Hkam N0aw in the arms and legs whilst he was erecting a fence around his house in Namsan Yang village. Houses in Namsan Yang were burned by the Burmese Army and Mr Jangma Awng Li and other detainees, too afraid to return home, fled the village. At least 21 villagers were detained and used for forced labour, and a 19 year-old Rakhine boy was shot dead. His body was burned and thrown into the mine in Namsan Yang where he worked.

On 18 October, a 19 year-old girl, Maran Kawbu, was detained, tortured and gang-raped by soldiers from the same battalion in Namsan Yang. Her body was left on the river bank.

In Momauk, approximately 500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled the conflict and are seeking temporary accommodation in the church. On 19 October, one man, a Shan farmer named Mr Tintun, was shot dead by soldiers from Light Infantry Brigade 601, while fishing.

CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said, “These brutal attacks on religious communities and peaceful civilians stand in stark contrast to the regime’s recent rhetoric about reform and peace building. CSW has received numerous reports of rape, torture and killing of civilians in Kachin State by the Burma Army this year. According to international humanitarian law, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, intentionally directing attacks on religious buildings constitutes a war crime and a violation of international law. Rape, forced labour and killing civilians on a widespread and systematic basis constitute crimes against humanity. We urge President Thein Sein to call a halt to the military’s attacks on civilians throughout Burma, stop the widespread and systematic violations of human rights, declare a nationwide ceasefire, and enter into a meaningful di alogue process with all the ethnic nationalities and the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi, in pursuit of genuine national reconciliation.

We urge the international community to mobilise the mechanisms of the United Nations, through the General Assembly, to hold the regime in Burma accountable for these violations of international law, and end these war crimes and crimes against humanity which the regime is perpetrating with impunity.”

- Asian Tribune -

What I Know about Myitsone Dam - Dr. Hlain Myint

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dap Awn Daju kaw na Ja Chyum Ga hte Shawnglam de shatsam

ဥပေဒအထက္၌ ဖက္စစ္ဗမာ့တပ္မေတာ္ရွိေၾကာင္း ကခ်င္ျပည္သူတို ့ကို ဗမာအစိုး၇ျပသ

Tibetan Values Movement Spreads


Buddhist monasteries in Tibet are increasingly becoming centers of ethnic identity.

Photo sent by Tibetan resident
Monks destroy a pistol at Dzogchen monastery.

As Tibetans step up protests against Chinese rule, Buddhist monasteries in the eastern regions of Tibet have become the focus of efforts to promote not just religion but Tibetan national and cultural values, according to Tibetan sources.

And annual public assemblies at the monasteries have greatly increased in size in recent years, observers and participants say, as tens of thousands of Tibetans gather to assert their cultural identity in the face of Beijing’s cultural and political domination.

Religious congregations in Tibet have traditionally concerned themselves with the performance of rituals and prayers, said one man, who travels widely in the region.

“Now, it’s different,” he said.

“Taking these gatherings as an opportunity, many educated Tibetan individuals and intellectuals attend the sessions and take part in discussions about Tibetan culture and traditions,” said the man, speaking to RFA on condition of anonymity.

Use of the spoken and written Tibetan language, and “how important this is to the survival of Tibetans,” is especially stressed, he said, adding that moral ethics and nonviolence have also become popular subjects of instruction.

Large-scale gatherings

At Sershul monastery in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Sichuan province, more than 20,000 Tibetan monks and laypeople gathered from Oct. 6-13 to take part in discussions on these subjects, one participant said.

And during an Oct. 2-5 gathering at the Dzogchen monastery, also in Kardze, a senior religious leader spoke to more than 10,000 Tibetans about moral conduct in the community.

“As a result, many young Tibetans surrendered their weapons, including swords and knives, and vowed to shun violence,” one source said.

“Many also took vows to give up drinking and gambling, to speak pure Tibetan [not mixed with Chinese], and to wear Tibetan national dress.”

Similar gatherings were held in at least eight other locations during September and October, sources said, with one assembly of about 1,400 monks currently under way in Nangchen in the Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Qinghai province.

A banner welcomes participants to a gathering at Sershul monastery. Photo sent by Tibetan resident

Defining 'Tibetanness'

The growing movement among Tibetans to declare their cultural identity in the face of cultural and political domination by China has allowed Tibetans to “differentiate themselves from what it means to be ‘Chinese,’” said Elliott Sperling, a professor of Tibetan studies at Indiana University.

“The very act of defining your Tibetanness is an act of defining that which is not ‘Chinese’ about you,” Sperling said.

Following widespread protests in Tibet in 2008 against rule by Beijing, China’s leaders may have attempted to strike “a deal” with Tibetans similar to the one they struck with the Chinese people following the bloody crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement, Sperling said.

In this deal, Sperling said, certain restrictions on expression would be relaxed so long as no fundamental challenge was mounted to the Chinese Communist Party’s political control.

“But essentially, [this deal] isn’t going to work, since the dynamic is quite different,” Sperling said. “In other words, they’re dealing with a population which simply does not see itself as Chinese.”

“And you have many different expressions of this, which include celebrations of Tibetanness.”

Desperate situation

Tibet under Chinese rule has been rated among 10 of the world's most repressive societies in a survey published this year by U.S.-based rights group Freedom House.

A recent wave of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule in which at least five Tibetans have died underscores the desperate situation faced by Tibetans, some analysts said.

The protests “could lead to a turning point in relations between the Chinese state and the Tibetan community,” Robbie Barnett, director of the Modern Tibetan Studies program at Columbia University, said last week.

“I have seen things on the Web inside Tibet—poems and comments and so on—that show that many Tibetans are deeply upset about these developments,” Barnett said.

“I think that Tibetans take it very seriously when they see people prepared to give up their lives because of what is understood to be political pressure on them.”

But Beijing is unlikely to relax its controls in Tibet.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping—the likely successor to President Hu Jintao, who must retire from running the Party in late 2012 and from the presidency in early 2013—visited Tibet in July to preside over celebrations marking 60 years since China gained control over the region.

Xi, in his first major speech on Tibet, vowed to crack down on "separatist activity" in the region and suggested that he will not ease Beijing's hard-line stance.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English with additional reporting by Richard Finney.

Renewed Clashes Near Chinese Border

Government troops and Kachin rebels engage in heavy fighting in northern Burma.

US Campaign for Burma
Kachin refugees flee to Burma's border with China to escape the fighting, June 14, 2011.

Fighting between Burmese government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels in northeastern Burma escalated on Wednesday, inflicting casualties on both sides and with civilians caught in the crossfire, according to sources in the area.

The battle near Burma’s border with China, triggered by an ongoing offensive by the Burmese military, involved the exchange of large artillery and may have led to a number of human rights violations by government troops, the sources said.

A Burmese reporter embedded near the fighting in a village outside the town of Momauk in Burma’s Shan State said the skirmish began early on Wednesday morning and lasted until 3:00 p.m.

“The Burmese army was firing 60 millimeter artillery shells towards the Kachin position and the KIA was firing back,” he said, referring to the Kachin Independent Army, a group which claims to number as many as 50,000 fighters, though other estimates trim the number to around 10,000.

“The government troops were uprooted from their position along a road and were forced to pull back. I saw at least one child soldier amongst their ranks.”

The reporter said heavy rains had caused damage to communication lines, throwing troops on both sides into disarray.

“A few KIA troops may have been killed by their own mines,” he said.

“One officer and two soldiers were killed. The officer was killed by friendly fire.”

The reporter said that a number of complications may have led the Burmese government troops to pull back.

“Maybe because they were unfamiliar with the area and they were using child soldiers—The Burmese army could be underestimating the Kachin. More government troops have died than members of the KIA,” he said.

“They are retreating and passing through the village where I am located to Kyauk Post about four miles (6.4 kilometers) away from the front. That is where the government has stationed its troops.”

The reporter said that the Burmese soldiers forced villagers to work as porters to carry their equipment, suggesting that they had committed rights abuses as they pulled back from their fighting positions.

“I heard that a husband and wife were shot as they went fishing for food in a stream near their village.”

Civilian casualties

The headman of a local village confirmed that the couple had been killed by Burmese soldiers while fishing.

“Yes, that’s true that the fishing couple was shot. And I also heard that people from the Moumak area were made to work as porters for the Burmese Army,” he said.

“My area is controlled by the KIO, not the government, so they can’t do that here. The KIA doesn’t bother us.”

The KIO, or Kachin Independence Organization, is the political wing of the KIA.

He said that many of the residents of the area had been forced to flee to the Chinese border to escape the fighting.

“The Chinese government won’t let them into the country and most are staying in camps along the border operated by the KIA,” the village headman said.

“The fighting is taking a heavy toll on the population here. People have no place to live and nothing to eat, which is made worse by the onset of the rainy season. Many of them are getting colds and coughs as the colder weather begins,” he said.

“The people have no one to turn to. If the government offensive persists, the people will continue to suffer. The troops have been forcing them to work as porters and if they suspect anyone of any wrongdoing, they intimidate, strike, or even kill them.”

Broken ceasefire

The KIA and the Burmese military ended a 17-year ceasefire arrangement on June 9, with each side accusing the other of instigating the fighting.

Government troops say the KIA escalated tension after entering a joint Chinese and Burmese hydroelectric project and seizing ammunition from security guards.

The KIA contends that the fighting was caused by a breakdown in talks after Burma’s government sought to bring the group under its control as part of a Border Guard Force (BGF).

The group has refused to join the BGF, though some armed groups have agreed to the government policy in exchange for some political representation and limited autonomy.

The KIA have said they will not lay down arms until Burma’s newly elected government agrees to provide their ethnic group with full political power and other rights.

In the weeks following the end of the ceasefire agreement, some 10,000 Kachin refugees fled the fighting and attempted to enter China.
Rights groups have accused the Burmese military of carrying out a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in ethnic minority areas involving the rape, torture, and murder of villagers.

Local reports said the refugees were fleeing to escape being preyed upon by government forces, rather than because they feared the fighting itself.

Earlier this week, a group of legislators from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) requested that any decision to designate Burma as chair of the regional grouping in 2014 be put off until the government makes concrete efforts at reconciliation with the country’s ethnic groups.

Reported by Tin Aung Khine for RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Nyein Shwe. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Burma: Army Committing Abuses in Kachin State

Burma: soldiers shoot at worshippers during Mass, burn churches

Catholic World News – Burma: soldiers shoot at worshippers during Mass, burn churches
October 21, 2011

Military forces in Myanmar (Burma) disrupted Mass in Namsan-yang, a village of Kachin State on October 16, shooting at worshippers, beating one, and detaining five for forced labor. After releasing Father Sara Doi Awng, the soldiers burned the parish and a Baptist church.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the Burmese army has been engaged in a campaign of “rape, forced labor, and killing civilians on a widespread and systematic basis” in Kachin, the nation’s northernmost state. Since 1962, the nation has been ruled by authoritarian military regimes, which expelled missionaries and nationalized Catholic schools and hospitals in the 1960s and abolished constitutional religious freedom protections in the late 1980s. Myanmar has gained a reputation for brutality: in 2005, the United Nation’s International Labor Organization estimated that 800,000 citizens are subjected to forced labor.

According to the US State Department, this atmosphere of repression is particularly unfavorable to non-Buddhists, for “the Ministry of Religious Affairs includes the powerful Department for the Promotion and Propagation of Sasana (Buddhist teaching).” Buddhist prayer and doctrine are part of the curriculum of all state-run elementary schools. The government pressures students to convert to Buddhism and rarely permits non-Buddhists to rise in the civil service. Monitoring church services and controlling the publication of all religious literature, it forbids the translation of the Bible into indigenous languages and at times has censored the Old Testament, citing its violent language. The construction and even the routine maintenance of churches often depend upon the whim of local administrators.

Only 1.2% of Myanmar’s 53.4 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; in all, 89% are Buddhist, 4% are Christian, and 4% are Muslim.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Burma Army's act of Terrorism

Ya Jinghpaw Mung e Majan baw nga ai Myen Hpyen Hpung hpe Naypyidaw Ginjaw kaw na Jinghpaw mahpaw yawng hpe gap na ahkang Myen Hpyenla shagu hpe jaw dat ai ngu ai lam asan sha sakse rai nga sai..hpa ung ang taw na lam nnga sai..

ယခုကခ်င္ျပည္၌ ထိုးစစ္ဆင္ေနေသာ ဗမာ့တပ္မေတာ္ စစ္ေၾကာင္းမ်ားကို ေတြ ့သမွ်ကခ်င္မ်ားကို ပစ္သတ္၇န္ အမိန္ ့ ေပးလိိုက္ျပီးျဖစ္သည္ဟူေသာသတင္းမွာ ေကာလဟလ မဟုတ္ေၾကာင္း ကခ်င္ လုထုတေန ့တျခား သိလာၾကသည္ဟု သိ၇သည္။

Quintana: Burma’s government failing to solve ethnic issues

THURSDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2011 15:22

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma has called for concrete action from the Burmese government in dealing with human rights abuses in the country’s ethnic states.

U.N. special envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana reads a press statement while on a visit to Burma. Photo: Mizzima

In a report submitted to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Tomas Ojea Quintana noted that while he “welcomed the government’s stated commitments to reform and the priorities set out by President Thein Sein,” the Argentinean lawyer reiterated “that these commitments must be translated into concrete action.”

Describing Burma’s new government as “nominally civilian,” Quintana’s report acknowledged that at present in the country “there is an emergence of different actors and parties engaging in the political process.”

His report however claimed that many actors including ethnic minorities continued to be excluded from this process. Referring to Burma’s new national, state and regional parliaments now in operation, Quintana concluded: “These venues alone are therefore not sufficient for resolving the situation of ethnic minorities.”

Quintana mentioned the conflicts under way in the north and eastern part of Burma and said the “ongoing tensions in ethnic border areas and armed conflict with some armed ethnic groups, particularly in Kachin, Shan and Kayin States, continue to engender serious human rights violations, including attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, internal displacement, land confiscations, the recruitment of child soldiers and forced labour and portering.”

Quintana’s rather bleak assessment of the situation facing ethnic minorities in Burma stands in sharp contrast with information contained in UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report on Burma submitted last month to the UN General Assembly.
Human Rights activists from Burma’s ethnic minorities have taken issue with what they say was Ban’s deliberate downplaying of the level of violence in large parts of Burma where the army is fighting armed ethnic groups.

At press conference two weeks ago, representatives of the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand said the number of number of rapes, extrajudicial killings and forced relations committed by the Burmese army during its four month offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is proof that a full scale war is going in Burma’s north. They criticized Ban for concluding in his report that the conflict between the KIO and the Burmese army merely ran the “risk of an escalation into large-scale violence and open fighting for the first time since the signing of a cease-fire agreement in 1994.”

UN aid offer for displaced Kachin turned down by Burmese government

In contrast to Ban’s assessment of the Kachin situation, Quintana estimated that recent fighting had resulted in more than 15,000 internal displaced people being confined to a “remote mountainous area” of northern Burma along the Chinese border. Quintana described their situation as “perilous” and added there was “little aid available.”

According to Quintana, the UN informed the Burmese authorities that it was willing to help these internally displaced people but this attempt appears to have been declined by Thein Sein’s government.

Quintana wrote: “The United Nations approached the Government, offering assistance to all those in need. According to reliable sources, the Government’s position is that assistance is currently provided at the local level, and when needed they will seek further assistance from relevant partners.”

When contacted by Mizzima to comment on the current situation in the Kachin conflict area, Martin Nesirky chief spokesperson for the UN secretary-general responded in an email sent Wednesday: “The response last month still applies, and we do not have anything further at this stage.”

Ndau Laika

1. Daini Jinghpaw Wunpawng Mungdan de Mung Maden Gumshem majan hpe maw mawn nga ai Thein Sein Asuya hte Myen Hpyen dap hpe tsep-kawp ninghkap ga ai.
2. Daini Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu sha ni hpe majan baw sat, nat shamyit nga ai Myen Gumshem Hpyen hpe Lagaw Lata tai, garum shingtau nga ai masha, Wuhpawng yawng hpe tsep-kawp ninghkap ga ai.

3. Myen Hpyen ni a Amyu shamyit majan hta lam amyu myu hku nna Myen Hpyen Hpung ni hpe garum ra wa ai shing nrai garum na matu galaw hpang wa ai Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu sha kadai Wuhpung myi rai rai dai bungli yawng hpe ya jang jahkring nhtawm KIO/KIA dap de aten dep shanu wa ga shing nrai kadai hpe mung nkam garum ai rai yang majan byin nga ai shinggan de shing nrai Myen Hpyen ni hte tsan ai de lawan koi yen na hpe ja ja shadut dat ga ai.

4. Majan ndai hta KIO uphkang ai shing nrai KIO hpe madi shadaw nga let Amyu sha lam hta Asak hkrat sum mat wa ai share shagan ni yawng a bunglat hka gaw daini Myen Hpyen hpe Lagaw Lata tai garum madi shadaw nga ai Jinghpaw Wunpawng amyu sha nkau hte Wuhpung ni hta tsep-kawp lit nga wa na re hpe ja ja shadum sadi jaw dat ga ai.

5. Daini Myen Gumshem Hpyen Hpung ni hpe garum shingtau nga ai Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu sha ni gaw 1948 ning kaw na hkrat sum mat ai Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu Sha ni a Ningpawt Ninghpang Amyu Sha Ahkaw Ahkang hpe nyet kau ai ni re ngu nna htawm hpang labau hta ngam wa lu na re majaw lawan dum hprang let amyu sha bungli hta rau Ta gindun galaw sa wa ga ngu shadut dat ga ai.

6. Daini Wunpawng Mungdan kaw majan baw nga ai Myen Hpyen ni gaw KIA hpe sha gasat nga ai nrai, Jinghpaw mahpaw yawng hpe zingri zingrat, sat shamyit nga ai re hpe asan sha dum hprang nhtawm, makau na yu nga ai hku nre sha tinang nan byin mai ai atsam hte shang lawm let ndai amyu sha majan hpe awng padang ninglaw lu hkra ya jang jawm shakut hpang wan a matu saw shaga dat ga ai.

7. VOA, BBC, DVB, Mizzima zawn re shiga dap magam gun nkau sha nrai NLD zawn re mung masa hpung na Myen nkau hku nna daini na Thein Sein wa a Myen Amyu Sha Mung Masa Lamyan hta shang lawm madi shadaw wa nga ai zawn anhte Wunpawng Amyu Sha ni raitim Pu gang yang Masin machyi shada madi shadaw garum shingtau ra nga sai.

Anhte yawng a Kyuhpyi ga/nsen ni gaw Mungkan shara shagu kaw na kadu pru wa sai hte maren, Anhte kam sham ai Karai Kasang kaw na garum shaman chyeju ni gaw, daini tara ai majan hpe gasat nga ai KIO/KIA magam gun ni hte Jinghpaw Wunpawng Amyu Sha ni yawng myit mada shakut nga ai Awng Padang hpe teng teng jaw ya na re ngu dakring dalang kam sham ga ai.

Overseas Kachin Association
October 20, 2011ni

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of humanrights in Myanmar

UNHR Report

ေကအိုင္အိုဌာနခ်ဳပ္ကို အစိုး၇တပ္ (၁၆)၇င္း ခ်ဥ္းကပ္ေန

DVB 10202011

And Now the Ethnic Crisis

By SAW YAN NAING Thursday, October 20, 2011

In this photo taken on Jan. 10, 2011, Burmese officials take part in a Manaw festival (traditional Kachin New Year) in Kachin state. (Photo: AP)

Following moves by Naypyidaw to enact democratic reforms, several leading figures and organizations in the international community have called for Burma to resolve issues concerned with its ethnic minorities, especially in tackling human rights abuses in the ethnic areas, and ending the government's ongoing conflicts with ethnic armies.

On Wednesday, human rights envoy Tomás Ojea Quintana addressed the United Nations General Assembly’s third committee in presenting his latest report on Burma.
“A pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights has existed in Myanmar for many years,” Quintana said. “I continue to receive allegations of such violations to date. Measures to ensure justice and accountability, including access to the truth, are essential for Myanmar to face its past and current human rights challenges and to move forward towards national reconciliation.”

Quintana said that the ongoing tensions in ethnic border areas and the Burmese army's ongoing conflict with several ethnic militias continue to engender serious human rights violations, including attacks against civilian populations, extra-judicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, internal displacement, land confiscations, the recruitment of child soldiers, as well as forced labor and portering.

While welcoming Burmese President Thein Sein’s commitment to “keep the door open to peace” and to invite armed groups for peace talks, Quintana called for greater efforts to find a durable political resolution to the complex undertaking of forging a stable multi-ethnic nation.

On Tuesday, international rights group Human Rights Watch released a statement accusing Burmese government troops of committing serious human rights abuses against ethnic Kachin civilians since renewed fighting broke out in the northern state in June.

Currently, more than 30,000 civilians from Kachin State have been displaced and have sought refuge due to an ongoing armed conflict between government troops and the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The majority of those displaced are stranded in makeshift camps along the Sino-Burmese border where local aid groups say they face food shortages.

Sources in the area have claimed that hundreds of Chinese soldiers are deployed along the border in order to block Kachin refugees from crossing into China.
Awng Wa, the chairman of the Kachin Development Networking Group, told The Irrawaddy that hostilities—whether minor exchanges of gunfire or major assaults—currently break out almost every day in Kachin State.

He said that on Wednesday night a unit of government troops burned down a village called Namsam Yang, about 10 miles from the KIA's headquarters in Laiza, and shot a villager who was over 60 years of age in his home. The man has been hospitalized at the Sino-Burmese border, he added.

A report issued in early October by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand also accuses government troops of systemic rape and sexual violence against Kachin women.
The report, titled “Burma’s Covered Up War: Atrocities Against the Kachin People,” alleges that government troops have raped 37 women and girls, 13 of whom were killed, since the renewal of the conflict in June.

US's special envoy to Burma, Derek Mitchell, said on Monday that the reports of human rights abuses in Burma were “credible,” and noted that many of the incidents were against minority women and children.

According to those NGOs involved in distributing humanitarian aid to displaced persons in Burma and to refugees, at least 500,000 ethnic Karen, Karenni and Shan people are displaced in the jungle, having abandoned their homes due to attacks launched by government troops.

Some 145,000 persons, mostly Karen villagers, are currently sheltering as refugees at camps along the Thai-Burmese border.

Ethnic leaders have joined in the calls for Naypyidaw to persuade its military officials to withdraw all their troops from ethnic areas and hold negotiations with representatives of all the groups.

In his statement, Derek Mitchell said that the Burmese government has not made comparable progress in its relations with ethnic minorities in the north and east of Burma as it has with the democratic opposition.

Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, a US diplomat who has been involved in Burma issues for several years, said on Thursday in an interview with The Nation news group in Bangkok: “The thing we are looking for is progress with the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi, and domestic diplomacy with ethnic minority groups, many of whom are subject to terrible violence and abuse.”


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ကခ်င္ျပည္နယ္မွာ အစိုးရရဲ႕ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးခ်ဳိးေဖာက္မႈ ႀကီးမား HRW စိုးရိမ္

အစိုးရစစ္တပ္ ေကအိုင္ေအဌာနခ်ဳပ္နဲ႔ ၁၀ မိုင္အကြာ ေရာက္ရ

Human Rights Watch condemns Burmese Army abuses in Kachin State

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 20:16 Thea Forbes

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In the latest round of fighting, Burma’s armed forces continue to commit serious abuses against ethnic Kachin civilians, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

A temporary camp for Kachin refugees who have fled from the renewed fighting by the government and Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State. Photo: Human Rights Watch

The New York-based group said that since the 17-year cease-fire was ended by a Burmese army offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on June 9 this year, the Burmese government has committed a wide range of human rights abuses against Kachin civilians.

“Burmese armed forces have been responsible for killings and attacks on civilians, using forced labour and pillaging villages, which has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 30,000 Kachin civilians, ” the HRW statement said.

Fear from abuses by the Burmese army has led tens of thousands of villagers to abandon their homes, many ending up in remote aid camps, HRW reported. Many civilians have spent weeks in hiding in the jungle during the rainy season to escape the Tatmadaw, or Burmese armed forces.

HRW conducted a fact-finding mission to conflict areas in Kachin State in July and August. “Witnesses described serious abuses committed by Burmese soldiers, including killings and attacks on civilians, pillaging of villages and the unlawful use of forced labour,” said HRW.

The statement contained testimony from villagers who have suffered abuses. In one case, a 33-year-old woman said that before the current fighting she had been forced to carry provisions up a two-mile road to a Burmese army outpost while she was six-months pregnant. “I had to do forced labour for the Burmese soldiers many times…the food we brought ourselves to eat. They didn’t feed us,” she told HRW.

The group also documented cases of killings of civilians, and said that villagers confirmed to HRW that rape cases had occurred in the conflict areas. Some civilians have been killed in searches by the Burmese army for suspected associates of the KIA, HRW reported.

According to HRW, “Under the laws of war applicable in conflict areas in Burma, all sides are prohibited from mistreating persons in their custody, targeting civilians, or pillaging homes and other civilian property.”

The group said that continued abuses by the Burmese army have again highlighted the need to establish a United Nations-backed Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into crimes against humanity in Burma.

Culture of denial

HRW senior Burma researcher, David Mathieson told Mizzima that a CoI on Burma could “potentially be an important mechanism for combating impunity and establishing accountability. In the absence of any other such domestic or international initiative, the normative and constitutional immunity of the Burmese military to end impunity, the captured legal system that refuses to investigate serious conflict related abuses, and the culture of denial of serious breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Burma, there aren’t many better proposals out there.”

An estimated 30, 000 refugees have been displaced due to the latest round of fighting. Photo: Human Rights Watch

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, first called for a commission of inquiry in March 2010. To date 16 countries have pledged their support for an inquiry, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, the Czech Republic and others.

Mathieson said that the formation of a CoI should not be seen as an isolated event, but as a continuous process of “ending a sense of entitlement to violate human rights within the Tatmadaw.”

“The new government has shown no inclination to start that: what is needed is not a change of command, but a change in the culture, and that is the only way to address systematic abuses,” he said.

He said that International Labour Organization’s (ILO) established complaints mechanism in Burma could be an important model for any eventual CoI into human rights abuses. The ILO complaint mechanism is “the product of more than a decade of ILO engagement with Burma on forced labor, and that started with a CoI in 1998,” Mathieson said.

“The ILO was instrumental in decreasing widespread forced labor in urban and rural areas in Burma and that came through a combination of on-the ground investigations and calibrated international pressure. A similar formula could be employed on many other abuses that continue,” he said.

The culture of denial in the military in Burma stops progress in fostering accountability and improving justice for victims in the country, observers say. On the use of rape in ethnic areas by the Burmese Army, Mathieson told Mizzima, “Sexual violence continues because the government denies its forces are perpetrating it.”

“Impartial investigations and adequate punishments, and a clear command instruction that this abuse will not be tolerated are the first steps to ending it, and the Burmese army hasn’t even done these,” he said.

Until accountability can be fostered in the military, the civilians living in the ethnic areas of Burma, especially where there is ongoing conflict, are at severe risk, say observers.

“Pronouncements of political reform in Burma do not seem to have reached the army in Kachin State. Ongoing abuses starkly demonstrate that until real steps are taken towards accountability, including an international commission of inquiry, minorities such as the Kachin will be a grave risk,” Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at HRW, said on Tuesday.

Burma’s human rights record of abuses by the military has stopped it gaining ground on the international circuit, and is a key reason for states upholding sanctions against the country.

Derek Mitchell, the US special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, said Monday on Burma’s relationship with the United States: “We made it very clear that we could not have a transformed relationship as long as these credible reports of abuses occur, and there is no dialogue with these groups and with the opposition,” AFP reported on Monday.

When a Multi-ethnic Nation Ignores Ethnic Rights

By SAW YAN NAING Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Kachin child whose family fled to Laiza for safety from the ongoing conflict. (PHOTO: The Irrawaddy)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday that Burmese government forces have committed serious abuses against ethnic Kachin civilians since renewed fighting broke out in the northern state in June.

The international rights group estimated that some 30,000 civilians in Kachin State have been displaced by the conflict.
he Burmese government armed forces have been responsible for killings and attacks on civilians, using forced labor, and pillaging villages, said the HRW statement.

“Renewed fighting in Kachin State has meant renewed abuses by the Burmese army against Kachin villagers,” said Elaine Pearson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Tens of thousands of people have fled through the mountains and jungle at the height of the rainy season, driven away by fear of army attacks.”

The HRW statement backs up a claim made by the US special envoy to Burma, Derek Mitchell, who on Monday stated that the Burmese government has not made comparable progress in its relations with ethnic minorities in the north and east of Burma as it has with the democratic opposition—in particular noting that Naypyidaw had held high-level talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mitchell also noted what he referred to as credible reports of continued human rights abuses, including violence against minority women and children.

“We made it very clear that we [the US] could not have a transformed relationship as long as these abuses and credible reports of abuses occur,” said Mitchell.

The criticisms come at a time when Naypyidaw has enjoyed much high acclaim following a series of moves viewed by Burmese and the international community at large as being progressive reforms, most notably the easing of censorship on the Burmese media, the suspension of the controversial Myitsone Dam project, and the release of 200 political prisoners.

The statements by Mitchell and by the HRW highlight growing concern that although reforms have been enacted in Rangoon and Naypyidaw, many observers see the government as being unable or unwilling to tackle issues in the ethnic areas.

Between 35 and 40 percent of Burma's 55-million population is non-Burman, and although many of the country's ethnic minorities have integrated into Burmese society over the years, many millions continue to live in the mountainous jungle that forms a natural horseshoe around the Burmese plains.

Ethnic minority groups include the Karen, the Shan, the Karenni, the Kachin, the Mon, the Chin and the Arakan, almost all of which have fought against the central government for independence or autonomy for decades.

Over the past 20 years, many ethnic armies have signed ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government, but conflicts have continued, exacerbated by overland deals with Burma's neighbors, especially China and Thailand, and a flurry of investment in natural resources within ethnic minority areas.

Over the years, the Burmese army has repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses in ethnic areas, with several reports indicating that the abuses may be systemic, and indicative of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times on Oct. 6, Myra Dahgaypaw, an ethnic Karen woman wrote: “Burmese soldiers killed my parents, my brother and sister, and my uncle after they forced him to watch them rape his wife.

“If soldiers are able to use forced labor, sexual violence, forced relocation and other abuses as mechanisms of domination, why should [US] President Obama reward President Thein Sein?"

Her comment was written in response to an article titled, “In Myanmar, Seize the Moment,” written by a well-known Burmese historian, Thant Myint-U.

In his article, the author urged the US president to publicly support the “reforms” that are taking place in Burma.

He also wrote that Thein Sein has spoken forcefully of combating poverty, fighting corruption, ending the country’s multiple armed conflicts, and working for political reconciliation.

But despite the government's recent approval of a “peacemaking committee” in parliament to deal with the issues surrounding the ongoing ethnic conflicts, observers say no tangible progress has been made—in fact, hostilities have escalated in some areas.

Brig-Gen Johnny, the commander of the rebel Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7, told The Irrawaddy that fighting—whether simple exchanges of gunfire or intense hostilities resulting in many casualties—break out almost every day in Karen State even though the government has declared its intention to seek a peace deal with armed ethnic groups.

“The release of more than 200 political prisoners, the suspension of the Myitsone dam, the establishment of a peacemaking committee—these steps are all good news,” said Johnny.

“But these developments will not help our people and our soldiers in their daily fight for survival while government troops move into frontier areas.”

With the exception of two ethnic rebel armies—the 20,000-strong United Wa State Army and its ally, the National Democratic Alliance Army, which are currently observing a ceasefire—no tangible results have come from negotiations with the other ethnic groups.

The New Mon State Party met government representatives recently in Ye Township, but the meeting concluded without an agreement.

Last Thursday, government troops began an assault on Kachin Independence Army (KIA) positions in Kachin and Shan states. The KIA leaders said they believe that the attacks are aimed at seizing KIA strongholds and military bases.

KIA spokesman La Nan said that at least 82 armed clashes have broken out since June, when fighting took place near hydropower plants in Bhamo Township in Kachin State. Seventeen of the clashes have broken out this month alone, he said.

Aye Thar Aung, a prominent Arakanese politician based in Rangoon, said that although he welcomed the steps taken by the new government, he was still concerned with the ethnic conflict issues.

“We are very concerned when we hear the government authorities saying they are making peace with the Wa, but then increase their military efforts against the Kachin,” he said.

“To build a developed country, peace is needed. The civil war needs to come to an end.

“There can be no peace in a multi-ethnic nation that ignores the fundamental rights of its ethnic minorities,” he added.

Burmese Army takes revenge on Kachin civilians for heavy losses

Several houses in Namsan-yang village were burned down by Burmese Army soldiers on Oct 16, 2011. Burmese troops of 121st LIB under Northern Regional Command and 438th LIR under MOC -21 reportedly burned 5 houses on Oct 16.

Sara Doi Awng, a catholic priest, was released after being detained by Burmese Army’s 438th LIR on Oct 16, 2011. Sara Doi Awng was beaten in his head with gun butt by 438th LIR’s second in command. Sara Doi Awng fled to Laiza after being released and was being treated for his head wounds.

Burmese Army soldiers of 121st LIB looted properties belong to Namsan-yang villagers, burned down villagers’ homes and abused civilians, said a local resident. Burmese Army soldiers of 438th LIR destroyed Kachin Baptist Church’s and Catholic Church’s properties, reported a local eyewitness. Namsan-yang villagers’ properties such as rice, cows, chickens, valuable items and foods were seized by Burmese Army soldiers. Namsan-yang village is under Burmese government’s control and just 15 miles away from Laiza. A fighting has begun near Namsan-yang at 3 pm on Oct 16, said a front line source.

The fighting between KIA and Burmese Army has continued at Madasawn (View point) located between Shwe Nyaung Pyin and Gara-yang for 5 days since Oct 12, 2011.
Burmese troops are well known for their revenge on local villagers, especially ethnic Kachin, whenever they have heavy casualties in battles against KIA. While many governments praise new civilian government for progresses in Burma, the reality on the ground is completely different from what it has been projecting.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Special Briefing on Burma

Tuesday, 18 October 2011, 10:56 am
Press Release: US Department of State
Special Briefing

Derek Mitchell
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma
Washington, DC
October 17, 2011

MS. FULTON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Department of State. Today we have a special guest with us, our special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, Derek Mitchell, who was recently appointed to this position and he has recently traveled to the region. So we are very happy to have an opportunity for him to provide us with an update on our diplomacy with Burma.

Without further ado, Derek Mitchell.

MR. MICHELL: Thank you. Well, thank you all. It’s a pleasure to finally see you. I took my first trip early September and I meant to come do a brief up here for some time, but it’s been rather busy of late and I’m moving around, so I’m glad I have the opportunity.

As suggested, I am the first in this position of special representative and policy coordinator for Burma. It’s a position that is mandated by Congress under the JADE Act. And I took over in mid August. My first trip was early September, and we’ve been very active in engagement every since.

It’s a position that essentially was intended to continue the policy that we have, that the Obama Administration has pursued, of a dual-track approach, which talks about both engagement and sanctions, pressure, on the regime, on the government in Burma. But it is meant also to provide a sort of senior-level face focusing on the issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as I do. So it is, in that sense, a new beginning. And I was able, I think, in my trip to Burma back in September, able to establish a good baseline for the relationship. I had very, very productive and candid meetings, and we have proceeded to have a number of interactions since then that I think have been equally productive.

I was very, as I said, candid there. And if you all were able to see the press statement I put out leaving Rangoon at that time, I laid out, in essence, the gestures that we saw from the government that were welcome. And we’ve seen, I think since then, even more gestures and more moves by the government that seems to be a trend towards greater openness, as well as some of the views from ourselves and others of skepticism, of questioning about whether, in fact, we are seeing something fundamentally different in the country. Are we seeing a real path to reform as they laid out their goals of democracy, human rights, national reconciliation, and development, national development for the country?

Those who have followed Burma for many years, as I have, have seen stops and starts. I’m not sure we’ve seen anything necessarily exactly like we’ve seen over the past several months. And in talking to people inside the country, they themselves say that they are seeing something that is a bit different than they’ve seen before. But there are still questions about how far they’re going to go and where this is going to lead.

And we laid out – I laid out in my statement and in the dialogues that we have privately, that if, in fact, we do see change, reform along those lines of democracy, human rights, national reconciliation, and development, they will have a partner in the United States; that we will be with them as a partner in that reform effort because, in fact, that is what we have sought to pursue for many years now.

So we have seen encouraging signs over time, and –but of course, there are some things that haven’t changed, and we should be noting those. As much as we’ve seen some changing of dynamics in – between Naypyidaw and Rangoon with some of the democratic opposition, we, of course, have not seen similar progress in the relationship between the government and the ethnic minorities, the ethnic nationalities in the north and the east and elsewhere. Violence continues. Credible reports of human rights abuses, including against women and children, continue. And this remains an issue of great concern to the United States and to others in the region and around the world. And in fact, we made it very clear that we could not have a transformed relationship as long as these abuses and credible reports of abuses occur and as long as there is not dialogue with these groups and with the opposition. If violence remains, then that will be a constraint on the relationship.

We also talked a bit about accounting for past abuses that have occurred as a step towards reconciliation, that something that could be done to represent a credible commitment to national reconciliation to give voice to some of what’s occurred in the past. And we also talked a bit about –with them about transparency in their relationship with other nations. And particularly with North Korea, there have been reports that we’ve seen of concern about that relationship, and we continue to follow that very, very closely.

So even as we see some progress in some areas, there are other areas that we remain concerned about. And the dialogue continues, and I think we’ve set a very good– as I say, a good baseline for a very candid relationship between the two sides that we really haven’t seen, I would say, in many, many years.

So with that, maybe I’ll open it up for some questions, if people have particular issues.

QUESTION: Was the release of the political prisoners as part of the general amnesty last week of a sufficient magnitude to incline the Administration to take any kinds of reciprocal gestures toward Burma? I’m not talking about peeling off all the sanctions, but perhaps smaller steps, waivers, other kinds of gestures.

MR. MITCHELL: Well, first of all, we have taken steps and made gestures in return. We have lifted travel restrictions for those who have traveled to New York to UNGA to come to Washington. And at that time, we met with the foreign minister here in the State Department, the first time in some time. I couldn’t even tell you the last time there was a foreign minister meeting here. And that was a good opportunity to have the direct dialogue on the issues that I raised here, but also to build the relationship and build the trust and build the confidence between the two sides.

We’ve invited a Burmese delegation to be an observer at the Friends of the Lower Mekong Initiative. So we’re bringing them into some of the international dialogues that occur and looking at other gestures in turn. So it’s not as if we’re standing still and we’re not sending signals. Of course, rhetorically, we’re saying we welcome what’s going on. They really value that rhetorical appreciation of what we’ve seen to date. So we continue to do that. All these are steps.

But our position is pretty clear and it’s reflective of what we hear from inside the country as well, which is political prisoners – any political prisoners – there are too many political prisoners – and that what we’re looking for is a release of all political prisoners without condition to really send the signal of genuine commitment to democracy in the country.

The people that are of probably most concern to them, the people that have been in the streets and maybe led some of the movements and such, some of the names I think are known to folks here, Ko Ko Gyi, Min Ko Naing, Gambiri, and others. I said directly to the leadership that these are the people that if you’re serious about democratic reform you would see as allies, because they actually are seeking the same goals you are. They are seeking for a credible democratic Burma.

So we’ve heard reports, we’ve seen reports, suggesting that they say be patient with us, that more is to come. And we will watch for whether they, in fact, follow up with action on the release of political prisoners just in total.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, none of the steps that you mentioned as gestures took place post October the 12th, correct? I mean, the foreign minister was here well before that, the invitation to be an observer at the Lower Mekong Delta. So is it then fair for us to conclude, or will you say, that what they did in terms of a prisoner release last week is not, in and of itself, sufficient to yield any actions on the U.S. part?

MR. MITCHELL: Well, we’re constantly – we don’t –we’re thinking in terms of how do we develop the relationship and build the confidence between the two sides. It’s not linked to any specific action at any point like that. We obviously welcome the release of some political prisoners and of other prisoners as part of an amnesty. We certainly welcome that. But we’re thinking more broadly what other – what are the steps that we can take, whether they’re linked to a particular action or not, but that we see them take that suggests they’re on the path to reform.

And that means provide certain types of advice and assistance in that regard. And we continue the dialogue. So there are things that we discuss in private that also can be productive in terms of the relationship over time instead of simply the public gestures.

MS. FULTON: Okay, next question.

QUESTION: What’s your understanding of how many political prisoners were released during this previous amnesty? And also, what further sort of reciprocal steps could the U.S. take? What would you see as the other things that you could do looking forward that could sort of reward Myanmar, reward Burma for the steps it takes?

MR. MITCHELL: Well, on the second I don’t want to – I don’t think it’s appropriate here to start going through hypotheticals; if they do this, then do that. Suffice to say that if we see that kind of movement on the political prisoners released fully and unconditionally, among other things that have been discussed as well about potentially there’s now in parliament a discussion of amending the political party registration law that could open up the opposition, particularly the NLD, to take part in the political process. Those are obviously very, very important moves that would lead to American gestures, steps in return. But I’m not going to get into what for what

In terms of the numbers, we’re not – we’re still working on that. It’s still being looked at. It’s– some are saying it’s in the low 200s or 220s, some are saying 250, in terms of political prisoners. But we’re still trying to figure out exact numbers, and I think inside they’re also trying to figure out exactly what the number is. But I can’t give you a perfect number today.

MS. FULTON: Next question, Goyal.

QUESTION: Sir, thank you. Three points. One, in the past, Burma’s military was being supported by the Chinese to keep in power. Second – I mean, what role China is playing now or will play?

And second, what role will be playing Aung San Suu Kyi, her Democratic Party which won elections 20 years ago and she’s still on and off under house arrest or in jail and all that?

And finally, do we see now real democracy in Burma?

MR. MITCHELL: I’ll make sure I get these all down so I don’t forget.

QUESTION:Thank you.

MR. MITCHELL: On the issue of China, Burma has an extensive border with China. I think they make it clear that they – that all those nations in Asia want to have a good relationship with China, and they should have a good relationship with – or a productive, constructive relationship with China. And that’s between the Burmese and the Chinese. That’s not an issue for the United States to be engaged in or to comment on. So that’s all I would say, I think, about that.

On the issue of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, they still are relevant. As I said when I was there, they are very relevant to the future of the country. They still represent a substantial segment of the Burmese population. She still is looked on as a unifying figure and as an important political figure. And they will decide themselves how they play within the new system – or that the system that is evolving. Whether I say it’s new, I would say it’s an evolving system there. And I would leave that to them to determine how best to engage in that regard. But they clearly see themselves having a future and an important part of the future in Burma.

Real democracy; I think it’s too soon to tell what we’re seeing. I think what we’re seeing are – is a positive trend line, encouraging signs. I think it’s raising expectations both inside and outside the country. And therefore, it’s incumbent on the government, therefore, to follow up and to meet those expectations. And if so, I think it’ll be a win-win. I think they will benefit from that, I think the region will benefit from that, I think the United States will benefit from that, and the people of Burma will benefit from that in terms of their overall development and their– come out of the shadows. I think as of, what – right now, I think there are a lot of restrictions that make them into a pariah state; and Burma is a proud country with a tremendous history, and they deserve to come out of the shadows and be – and take their prideful place in the region.

MS. FULTON: Okay. Next question, Lauren.

QUESTION: You said that you talked to them about how to be more transparent in their relations with other countries, including North Korea. Did they give any indication that they would be willing to do that, to do any information sharing? Or if they haven’t, do you think they will in the future?

MR. MITCHELL: It’s an ongoing dialogue. They are – they say that there is nothing untoward going on between them and North Korea And we’ll continue to have the dialogue as we go. So I would say everything is on the table in terms of dialogue. I think that they’d be willing to engage. Whenever I raised anything when I was in Naypyidaw, they were willing to address that subject and talk about it. And hopefully, we can establish the kind of trust that will allow us to continue that dialogue in a productive fashion. So I’m very hopeful in that regard, and we’ll see simply as we go whether we can get the kinds of reactions and responses that we’re looking for.

MS. FULTON: I think we have time for just one more question. Bob.

QUESTION:Does the U.S. see signs that there is resistance to this liberalizing trend within the power structure of the country? Are there some hardliners who are pushing back?

MR. MITCHELL: It’s – I can’t say that we’re seeing them actively, but we hear about -I think it’s probably predictable that there are going to be those who think we are moving too quickly or maybe this is not the path to go. The dynamics right now are difficult to read entirely. We don’t have a perfect sense of how it’s working internally. There is a sense that probably some believe that at least it may be going too fast in some regard, but we don’t know.

What we’re going to follow though, what we’re going to respond to, are actions and what they do. And they will work out themselves what is the best for the future of their country. What we want to do is provide incentives and to give them a sense of what the possibilities are if they move in a positive direction. If they move in a reformist direction, it’s going to be good for the people of Burma, good for their country; and that to go in a different direction will not be good, will not be– it’ll mean some more of the same in terms of their position in the world and the region and in the relationship with the United States.

So I don’t think you can – I wouldn’t classify people as purely hardline, purely reformist. I think it’s probably more complex than that. But what we’re trying to do is understand better how things work and then encourage the reform as they move forward.
So, thank you very much. Appreciate the time.

QUESTION: Thank you.