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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Press Releases : Mitch McConnell

Press Releases
Jan 26 2012
Burma Has Shown Progress in Move Towards Democracy

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate Floor Thursday regarding his meeting in Burma with Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the steps the oppressed country has taken towards forming a democratic society:


“I want to briefly address my colleagues on a very important trip I took recently to a country that, for much of the past 50 years, has ranked among the world’s most isolated and oppressed by its own government. Many of us wondered if things would ever change in Burma. But after my recent visit, I’m pleased to say that change is clearly in the air.

“It appears that Burma has made more progress toward democracy in the past six months than it has in decades. As one who has taken a strong interest in Burma for over 20 years, and as the lead author in this chamber of an annual sanctions bill aimed at encouraging the Burmese government to reform, this is welcome news.

“On this trip I had the great honor and privilege to meet the woman who, for over two decades, has embodied the struggle for peace in her oppressed country.

“After Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party won 80 percent of the vote in a free and fair election in 1990, the Burmese military regime dismissed the results and kept her under house arrest for most of the last 22 years. Scores of other political reformers were jailed or tortured, and the regime waged a brutal campaign against ethnic minorities, driving many from their homes to refugee camps.

“But by her courage and patience that justice delayed would not be justice denied, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has kept the hope of freedom in her country alive.

“I’ve long admired Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from afar. She once took a great risk to smuggle out of Burma a letter thanking me for my support, a letter I proudly have to this day. But never, Mr. President, did I think I would get to meet the Nobel Laureate in person. It was quite a moment.

“Following an election in 2010 that was widely thought to be unfree and unfair, the new civilian government in Burma has made undeniably positive steps toward reform. In addition to releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, scores of other political prisoners have been freed. In my visit, I spoke with two who had just been released days before my arrival.

“And one of the longest-standing armed conflicts in the world—the Burmese government’s campaign against the ethnic minority called the Karen—has apparently been brought to a close.

“Many Karen people who have fled Burma now call Kentucky home. I had the chance to meet with many of them, and other refugees from Burma now resettled in Kentucky, at Louisville’s Crescent Hill Baptist Church this Saturday. I enjoyed meeting them and was pleased to relay to them the same message I share with my colleagues today—that change is in the air for their country.

“Because of all these positive developments, I applaud Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent decision to exchange ambassadors with Burma for the first time in 20 years.

“Of course, the government of Burma still has a substantial way to go to achieve real, lasting reform. I would not support, and I don’t think the administration would support, lifting the sanctions that have been imposed unless there is much further progress.

“The next test will be elections to fill 48 seats of the national parliament on April 1. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi intends to run as the representative of a district with a significant Karen population.

“This election will give the new government an opportunity to hold the first free and fair elections in Burma since 1990, and also demonstrate the seriousness of its recent reform efforts.

“The government must also fully and peacefully reconcile with Burma’s ethnic minorities. This is vital.

“Reports indicate that the military continues to engage in hostilities with the Kachin. That is troubling. And questions about Burma’s relationship with North Korea must be answered.

“As the new government enacts reforms, we should respond with meaningful gestures of our own in hopes of encouraging further positive developments from Burma’s leaders. Reformers like new president Thein Sein, whom I also met on my trip, are strengthened when they can show results. Steps like exchanging ambassadors with the United States would enable them to do just that.

“My trip to Burma has filled me with hope for its people—hope that they will one day be free to elect their own leaders, and hope that every person, regardless of ethnic group, can enjoy equal rights and full protection under the rule of law.

“It also reaffirmed for me that the desire to be free is universal, and that the patient, yet persistent leadership of one woman can make a tremendous difference.

“These are exciting times for all who care about the future of the people of Burma, Mr. President. I know that includes a great many of my colleagues. Burma has quite a long way to go, but it is moving in the right direction.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FBR REPORT: January 19, 2012

Burma: Kachin rebels seek ‘a political solution to a political problem’

Myanmar Holds New Cease-Fire Talks With Kachin

by The Associated Press
YANGON, Myanmar January 19, 2012, 06:54 am ET

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's government and ethnic Kachin rebels met Thursday for cease-fire talks to end several months of armed clashes near the northern border with China, but their preliminary meeting did not make any major breakthroughs.

After two days of negotiations, a high-level government team and members of the Kachin Independence Organization agreed to continue talks later and in the meantime to inform the other side before deploying troops, according to an official at the talks who declined to be named.

The talks were the latest efforts by Myanmar's new, nominally civilian government to end the country's long-running ethnic conflicts, one of many reforms under way after years of military rule.

Stopping ethnic clashes is a key demand of Western governments that are weighing lifting sanctions imposed during the junta's rule. Last week, the government signed a cease-fire pact with Karen rebels in eastern Myanmar, in a major step toward ending one of the world's longest-running insurgencies. Other talks are reportedly taking place with the Shan, Karenni and Chin.

A prominent Kachin mediator, Rev. Saboi Jum, told The Associated Press that talks were held across the border in Ruili in China's Yunnan province.

"Too much damage has been done since fighting erupted in June last year. It is most important to build confidence and trust between each other, and a lot of tension will be reduced if government troops withdraw from the KIO areas," he said.

The next round of negotiations would be held in Myanmar, according to the official who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to disclose details of the talks.

The Kachin Independence Organization reached a peace deal with the country's former ruling junta in 1994, but the truce broke down in 2010 after the group rejected a call by the junta to transform its troops into border guards under the government's leadership.

The Kachin have been fighting the government since June, when the army tried to break up some of their militia strongholds. Thousands of ethnic Kachin have fled their homes to avoid the fighting.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has described an end to the fighting with ethnic guerrillas as a national priority, and last month said she would be willing to help with peace negotiations.

The Nobel laureate and former political prisoner sent a letter to the Kachin people expressing compassion, particularly for the women and children who have been uprooted by the fighting, said Saboi Jum.

She "expressed her hope that one day the effected population would be able to come home and live in peace," he said, saying that Suu Kyi's message "lifted our spirits and we are very happy."

Suu Kyi's enormous popularity with the poor and disenfranchised majority is expected to propel her to her first seat in parliament during April by-elections.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=145437770

KIO and Burmese Government: Shweli Meeting Statement

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hillary Clinton - Remarks on Burma

Remarks on Burma

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
January 13, 2012

Good morning. When I visited Burma in December on behalf of President Obama and the United States, I encouraged authorities to continue along the path of reform. In particular, I urged them to unconditionally release all political prisoners, halt hostilities in ethnic areas, and seek a true political settlement. This would broaden the space for political and civic activity, and by doing so, it would lay the groundwork to fully implement legislation that would protect universal freedoms of assembly, speech, and association. I also urged that they sever all illicit military ties with North Korea.

Since then, we have seen progress on several fronts. Today, I join President Obama in welcoming the news that the government has released hundreds of political prisoners, several of whom have languished in prison for decades. This is a substantial and serious step forward in the government’s stated commitment to political reform, and I applaud it, and the entire international community should as well. Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed these dramatic steps as further indication of progress and commitment.

Many of the people released today have distinguished themselves as steadfast, courageous leaders in the fight for democracy and human rights at critical times in their country’s recent history. And like all of the people of their country, they want and deserve to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

I also warmly welcome news of a cease-fire agreement between the government and the Karen National Union. The KNU has been involved in one of the longest-running insurgencies anywhere in the world, and entering a ceasefire agreement that begins to address the longstanding grievances of the Karen people is an important step forward. It is in that spirit that I urge the government to enter into meaningful dialogue with all ethnic groups to achieve national reconciliation, to allow news media and humanitarian groups access to ethnic areas.

In addition to the ceasefire and the release of political prisoners, the civilian leadership has taken other important steps since assuming power in April 2011, including easing restrictions on media and civil society; engaging Aung San Suu Kyi in a substantive dialogue and amending electoral laws to pave the way for the National League for Democracy to participate in the political process; setting a date for the by-elections this year; passing new legislation to protect the right of assembly and the rights of workers; beginning to provide humanitarian access for the United Nations and NGOs to conflict areas; and establishing their own national Human Rights Commission.

As I said last December, the United States will meet action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will now begin. In consultation with members of Congress and at the direction of President Obama, we will start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Burma. We will identify a candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to represent the United States Government and our broader efforts to strengthen and deepen our ties with both the people and the government.

This is a lengthy process, and it will, of course, depend on continuing progress and reform. But an American Ambassador will help strengthen our efforts to support the historic and promising steps that are now unfolding. I have also instructed my team at the State Department to identify further steps that the United States can take in conjunction with our friends and allies to support the reforms underway. And I intend to call President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi this weekend to underscore our commitment to walk together with them on the path of reform.

Of course, there is more work to be done, and we will continue to work with the government on their reform and reconciliation efforts, including taking further steps to address the concerns of ethnic minority groups, making sure that there is a free and fair by-election, and making all the releases from prison unconditional, and making sure that all remaining political detainees are also released.

But this is a momentous day for the diverse people of Burma, and we will continue to support them and their efforts and to encourage the government to take bold steps that build the kind of free and prosperous nation, that I heard from everyone I met with, they desire to see. We believe that that future is achievable, and we look forward to being a partner and a friend as we see the progress continue. Thank you.

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/01/180667.htm

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

BURMA: AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPAND HUMANITARIAN SPACE

Conflict-hit Myanmar needs urgent humanitarian aid –Refugees International

Local charities filling Kachin aid void

ျပည္သူ မ်က္ရည္က်ခ်ိန္ မေနာပြဲ မလုပ္လိုတဲ့ ကခ်င္ျပည္

Iran nuclear scientist killed in car bomb blast


Report: Iran nuclear scientist killed in car bomb blast

By the CNN Wire Staff

updated 5:08 PM EST, Wed January 11, 2012


Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- A nuclear scientist was killed in a blast in Tehran on Wednesday morning, an Iranian news agency reported, in the latest in a string of attacks that Iran has blamed on Israel.

A motorcyclist placed a magnetic bomb under Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan's Peugeot 405, the state-run IRNA news agency said. The blast also wounded two others, IRNA said.

State television channel Press TV reported later Wednesday that Roshan's driver, Reza Qashqaei, had died in a hospital from his injuries.

Mohammad Khazaee, Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, condemned what he called "cruel, inhumane and criminal acts of terrorism against the Iranian scientists."

"Based on the existing evidence collected by the relevant Iranian security authorities, similar to previous incidents, perpetrators used the same terrorist method in assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, i.e., attaching a sticky magnetic bomb to the car carrying the scientists and detonating it," Khazaee said in a statement.


"I would like to emphasize, once again, that the Islamic Republic (of) Iran would not compromise over its inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and any kind of political and economic pressures or terrorist attacks targeting the Iranian nuclear scientists, could not prevent our nation in exercising this right," Khazaee said.


Lawmaker Kazem Jalali blamed the intelligence agencies of the United States and Israel for the latest attack, saying the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, also bore responsibility for passing on information about Iran's nuclear scientists to other countries, IRNA reports.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking alongside the Qatari foreign minister in Washington, rejected the claims.


"I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran," she said.


"We believe there has to be an understanding between Iran, its neighbors and the international community that finds a way forward for it to end its provocative behavior, end its search for nuclear weapons and rejoin the international community and be a productive member of it."


Israel does not normally comment on such claims. However, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said on his Facebook page Wednesday: "I have no idea who targeted the Iranian scientist but I certainly don't shed a tear."

Roshan, 32, was a deputy director for commercial affairs at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan province and a graduate of Iran's Oil Industry University, according to the semi-official news agency Fars.

Natanz, which is said to have 8,000 centrifuges in operation, is one of two facilities that is enriching uranium in the country. This week, the IAEA identified the second in the mountains of Qom province.

Western diplomats at the U.N. on Wednesday criticized Iran over the recent revelation that Tehran is enriching uranium beyond the level needed for civilian use, saying that the actions flaunt Security Council resolutions. The Security Council discussed the issue in closed consultations.

"We have very serious concerns about this blatant disregard for fulfillment of their international obligations," said Rosemary DiCarlo, deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

"The location, the size and the clandestine nature of the facility at Qom raise serious doubts about what its ultimate purposes are," added Philip Parham, deputy British ambassador to the U.N.

The IAEA announced on Monday its finding that Iran is enriching uranium at a previously secret facility to 20% purity.


Diplomats said that further Security Council sanctions were possible. But they indicated that they are focusing on ensuring that the sanctions already in place are enforced. They emphasized the need for a negotiated solution to the standoff.

"A year ago we passed very strict sanctions on Iran, the most comprehensive ever," DiCarlo said. "Those sanctions are being implemented, and President Ahmadinejad himself has acknowledged to his own parliament that they're having an impact."

Officials in the United States and other Western nations have ratcheted up sanctions against Tehran since a November report by the IAEA said the Iranian government was developing the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon. Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Iran's central bank.

Tehran maintains its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes only. But the IAEA has said it cannot verify whether the intent of Tehran's nuclear program remains peaceful.

The attack comes at a time when relations between Iran and the United States have rarely been as strained.

Iran sentenced Iranian-American and former Marine Amir Hekmati to death Tuesday for alleged espionage, prompting strong condemnation from the U.S. State Department.

Iran also aggravated tensions in the past month with its threat to close the strategically important Strait of Hormuz if Western nations carry through with sanctions on its oil industry to punish Tehran's lack of cooperation on its nuclear program. In comments Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov urged Western nations and Iran to avoid escalating the situation further, Russia's official Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Responding to Wednesday's bombing, Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said the attacks against scientists would not stop the country from achieving its goals, IRNA reported.


"Iranian scientists become more determined to take steps in line with the aspirations of the Islamic Republic in spite of terrorist operations," Rahimi told the news agency.

The attack followed a similar mode of operation as others that have killed nuclear scientists in Iran's capital city.

Iranian nuclear physicist Daryoush Rezaie, 35, was killed in July in front of his Tehran home by assailants on a motorcycle, Iranian media reported.

And on January 12, 2010, Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi died in a blast when an assailant stuck a bomb under his car. Majid Jamali Fashi, an Iranian, reportedly confessed to the bombing and was sentenced to death in August, IRNA reported at the time.

Prosecutors accused him of working for Israel's spy agency Mossad and said he was paid $120,000 by Israel to carry out the hit, Fars news agency reported. Israel does not comment on such claims.

In November 2010, nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari was killed in a blast where, again, a bomb was stuck under a car by someone on a motorcycle. Another nuclear scientist, Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, and his wife were injured in a similar attack. Abbasi is now director of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization.

"The bomb used in the (Wednesday) explosion was a magnetic bomb, the same kind that were used in previous assassinations of Iranian scientists. And the fact is that this is the work of the Zionists," Fars news agency quoted Tehran's Deputy Gov. Safarali Baratloo as saying.

Iran uses the term "Zionist" to refer to Israel. Iran has been engaged in a war of words with Israel, whom it accuses of trying to destabilize the republic.

Mickey Segal, a former director of the Iranian department in the IDF Intelligence Branch, told Israel Army Radio that Wednesday's attack was part of broader pressure being brought to bear on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime.

"Many bad things have been happening to Iran in the recent period. Iran is in a situation where pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the pressure that the Iranian regime is facing," Segal said.

The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday that the Israeli military chief of staff Benny Gantz, speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, warned that "2012 will be a critical year in the connection between Iran gaining nuclear power, changes in leadership, continuing pressure from the international community and events that happen unnaturally."

Ali Ansari, a professor at the Institute for Iranian Studies at Scotland's University of St. Andrews, said more information is needed about the victims to help determine who's perpetrating the attacks.

Some have speculated that the victims were members of the opposition movement and could have been targeted by internal forces, Ansari said.

"But if it is true that Israel is behind it, Iran should make a formal complaint to the U.N. so they can get an answer from Israel," Ansari said. "Because if they really think some other country is killing their nuclear experts, why are they not giving them more protection?"

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr, Kevin Flower, Elise Labott, Jill Dougherty, Lateef Mungin, Mick Krever and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

 



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Inside Burma



Powerplants, dams and mind games in Burma

By Francis Wade Jan 10, 2012


Burma’s befuddling rulers have launched another surprise attack on our (somewhat waning) ability to rationalise what is happening in Naypyidaw: four months after the shock suspension of the China-backed Myitsone Dam in the country’s north, the government’s environment minister yesterday announced that a massive, Thai-financed power plant in the south of the country has been scrapped.
The move has prompted two immediate questions: first, what has become of the 60-year lease awarded to Ital-Thai to develop the Dawei industrial zone (surely it has been spectacularly breached)? Second, with the cancellation of the 4,000 MW plant, whose output would have contributed towards powering construction of the vast array of factories and petrochemical plants the 200 square-kilometre site will house, how can the project possibly continue?

Like the Myitsone decision, the government has cited public opposition as the key trigger for the Dawei cancellation; also like Myitsone, its newfound fans have been quick to link the scrapping of the plant to the reformist nature of Thein Sein and his cabinet. But while it may have been China’s increasing economic influence in Burma, rather than disquiet among Burmese, that prompted the country’s nationalistic rulers to (temporarily) jump ship on Myitsone, the Dawei decision is slightly more puzzling – the government doesn’t stand to benefit, economically or ideologically, unless it has really developed a conscience and translated that into policy.
What is being left out of the initial reactions however is the fact that a coal-fired plant will in all probability still be built, only that its size will dramatically reduce. The industrial site, which upon completion is set to be Southeast Asia’s largest, and which will forever reshape Burma’s Andaman Sea coastline, can survive on a plant that produces only 400 MW – the surplus 3,600 MW was due to be sold off to Thailand, which has provided the bulk of the US$8 billion start-up costs for the project (which is expected to eventually reach US$50 billion).

Pressure had been building on the Burmese government from a range of players angry at the health impacts synonymous with a project of this size – locals around Dawei, a sleepy fishing town, have vehemently rejected the venture, which it is estimated could displace up to 30,000 people (Ital-Thai put the figure at 10,000 last year). Moreover, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) has actively resisted the construction of a road that will link Dawei to Bangkok (which will in turn feed other regional economies), and demanded recently that Ital-Thai carry out an environmental impact assessment before going any further with it.
The Karen army denies that the Dawei decision is linked to attempts to broker a ceasefire deal with the government: its spokesperson, David Htaw, told me today that while it had pushed for a survey of the road, the coal plant was not mentioned in discussions with government officials.

So where does that leave us? In something of a quagmire of contradictions and bemusement, to be frank: any paean to public opinion in Burma by the government must be contrasted with its army’s ongoing, vicious attacks against civilians in the border regions, and the decision to allow only 32 political prisoners free earlier this month (despite the mother of all diplomats, Hillary Clinton, calling for giant steps in that department).
It may be that the combination of public animosity and the potential for military attacks on the Dawei project from the KNLA proved too portentous, as indeed was the case with Myitsone which lay unnervingly close to Kachin rebel territory; even that the discrepancy between the amount of power needed for construction of the industrial complex, and the final figure of 4,000 MW, was always going to be something of a numerical buffer zone for the government, within which it could manoeuvre dazzlingly but not lose out on the prized asset that is the industrial zone – perhaps the key indicator of its rising strategic status in the region.

This of course doesn’t factor in the likely fallout that’ll come as Ital-Thai, and indeed energy-hungry Thailand, formulate some sort of response to the cancellation, which will have also stretched Burma’s own Special Economic Zone (SEZ) laws to the fullest – for that we’ll just have to wait, but as the Burmese government showed after Myitsone, if it can quickly mend bridges with the aggressive powerhouse to the north, not to mention its adeptness at convincing the West that it is heading in the right direction, then its powers of appeasement are perhaps greater than it is given credit for.

No Ceasefire Until Kachin Fighting Stops: NMSP

Monday, January 9, 2012

Burma's Christian Civilians Attacked During Christmas

Government troops kill 47-year-old Christian, destroy church property in Kachin state.
The Christian Post: Mon, Jan. 09 2012 09:42 AM EDT
By Compass Direct News

Attacks on Christians in Burma continued into the Christmas season in Kachin state as Burmese Army troops killed a civilian and destroyed church property despite President Thein Sein’s order to stop the war against insurgents.

A Baptist church in Loije, Bhamo district, held a funeral on Dec. 27 for 47-year-old Maran Zau Ja, who was shot dead without provocation by Burmese Army ’s Light Infantry Battalion No. 321 on Christmas Day, a Kachin source told Compass by phone.

Zau Ja was a farmer who was returning from his sugarcane field with a friend when troops sprayed bullets at them. His friend survived the gunshots.

The two were not armed insurgents of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) that has fought for autonomy in the Christian-majority state since the early 1960s, when then-Burmese Prime Minister U Nu made Buddhism the state religion.

About 90 percent of the roughly 56 million people in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are Buddhist, mostly from the Burman ethnic group. Burmese soldiers see “all Kachin civilians as the enemy,” the Kachin News Group recently quoted a Kachin village elder as saying.

On Dec. 16, troops of Light Infantry Battalion No. 142 burned a building housing the kitchen of a Baptist church in Dingga village, also in Bhamo district, the source added. KIA men and local villagers managed to save the church building, but the fire engulfed five homes.

Earlier, on Nov. 30, Burmese soldiers killed a woman and injured six villagers as they fired mortar shells targeting civilians in Tarlawgyi area in Waingmaw Township, while another battalion burned down 10 homes in Nam Wai village and five more in neighboring Hpa Ke village.

On Oct. 16, about 150 soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 438 stormed Nam San Yang village in the Daw Phung Yang area of Bhamo district and opened fire at members of a Catholic church before the weekly mass. While no one was hurt, the priest and some parishioners were detained.

Thailand-based activist Shirley Seng of the Kachin Women’s Association told Compass that civilians have been living in fear since military action hit Kachin state last June, and that her research team found that women and children were most affected by the war. At least 37 women and girls were raped during the first two months of the conflict, she said – 13 of them killed. She added that other girls and women continue to be abducted. “They just disappear after being abducted,” Seng said. “Perhaps they are first sexually abused and then killed or sold to brothels.”

President’s Sham Order

The KIO controls most of Kachin state and runs schools and hospitals and the public distribution system. The Burmese government or Army has little control outside the state capital of Myitkyina. Since June 2011, however, when the Army ended a 17-year-long ceasefire with the KIO, government troops were heavily deployed in KIO-controlled areas leading to clashes.

More than 90 clashes have occurred between the Army and the armed insurgents since President Sein, a former junta general, reportedly instructed the military on Dec. 10 to start no fighting with the KIA.

The president’s order was apparently a mere show, the Kachin source said, adding that deployment of Army personnel and attacks on civilians were on the rise and helicopters were bringing in ammunition and reinforcements.

“The government made peace with [formerly detained opposition leader] Aung San Suu Kyi and has set a few political prisoners free to gain concessions from the international community on its brutal military offensive against ethnic minority states, primarily in Kachin,” the source said.

After the general election in 2011, believed to be rigged and the first in two decades of junta rule, the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party came to power and has been trying to showcase reforms in an attempt to end economic sanctions and gain legitimacy. Little has changed, however, for Burma’s ethnic minorities.

Internally Displaced People

According to local estimates, the military conflict has displaced about 45,000 people.

“It’s a major threat to thousands of displaced civilians who are caught between the warring parties,” Lynn Yoshikawa, an advocate from the Washington, D.C.-based Refugees International, told Compass by email. “The Burma Army does not distinguish between combatants and civilians, leading to severe human rights abuses. There is not enough assistance, and with winter setting in, displaced people lack enough warm clothes and are more vulnerable to diseases.”

Yoshikawa urged the international community “to put pressure on the military to follow the president’s orders to halt attacks against the KIO and make sure that the UN’s access to areas outside government control is sustained and expanded to meet the growing needs.” International donors should fund the humanitarian response, she added, or else the United Nations World Food Program’s food stocks will run out in February.

In addition to Kachin, six other ethnic minority states – including Christian-majority Chin state and Karen state, which has a substantial presence of Christians – have had armed and unarmed groups fighting for autonomy from the successive military-led regimes for decades.

While Kachin is the current target of the Burma Army , it is feared that other states are also likely to face war in the near future. Ethnic minority areas along Burma’s borders with India, Thailand and China are resource-rich and have strategic importance for the Union government. Burma’s neighbors have invested, and intend to accelerate investment, in power generation and other projects in and around the ethnic minority region.

The ethnic minority states were administered separately during British rule. Some ethnic leaders agreed to incorporate their states into Burma after the Panglong Agreement was signed in 1947 providing for full autonomy, a share of the national wealth and the right to secession to ethnic states. But Gen. Aung San, democracy activist Suu Kyi’s father who was then heading the interim government and led the signing of the agreement, was assassinated months later. Subsequent regimes refused to honor the agreement and forcibly made ethnic states a part of the new country.

The federal government is carrying on with the military offensive on the one hand, and holding “peace talks” with armed ethnic minority resistance groups on the other, the Kachin source said. Minorities are still praying and hoping for peace in the near future, he added.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/burmas-christian-civilians-attacked-during-christmas-66697/

Friday, January 6, 2012

စစ္တပ္ ဘာေၾကာင့္ သမၼတအေပၚ ေရာက္ေနလဲ ?

drlunswe

မန္းေရာဘတ္ ဘဇန္၏ သေဘာထား တင္ျပခ်က္

Mann Robert Ba Zan

ေကအိုင္ေအႏွင့္ အစိုး၇တပ္ တိုက္ပြဲျဖစ္၊ အစိုး၇တပ္အင္အားတိုး

DVB 01062012

အေမရိကန္ အရာရွိႀကီး ၂ ဦး ျမန္မာျပည္သြားမည္

Kachin rebels shot down government’s copter as Burma Army continues war

By Zin Linn Jan 07, 2012 1:41AM UTC

Officials from the Kachin Independence Organization’s armed wing have confirmed that on January 4 their fighters shot down a Burmese army transport helicopter in northern Kachin State, Kachin News Group said Friday.

The pilot of the Russian-built helicopter died in the smash, after crash landing in a paddy field near Sinlum Bum village in N’Mawk (Momauk) Township, said Zau Seng a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) officer stationed on the front line.

As said by Zau Seng, after KIA fighters fired their small arms at the helicopter, it was severely damaged and also failed attempt to drop off supplies at a government military-base near Mu Bum Mountain.

The transport helicopter started on generating smoke after repeatedly hit by machine gun fire from troops from the KIA’s 3rd Brigade, quoting eyewitnesses’ report Kachin News Group said. The helicopter crashed several miles away from the Mu Bum base during a visible retreat to its home base in Manmaw.

The remains of the helicopter were discovered the following day by local villagers.

Fighting between the KIA and government forces has continued unabated for nearly seven months, despite President Thein Sein has instructed the army to cease the Kachin offensive on December 10. Then, a question comes out that why does the commander-in-chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing turn a deaf ear to the president. Is it a trick played by president and the army boss? Or, is the band of soldiers against the president’s reform plan?

In his message to the 64th Anniversary Independence Day, President Thein Sein says: “Unity and cooperation of the entire national people are instrumental to building the Republic of the Union of Myanmar into a modern, developed democratic nation. If national solidarity disintegrated, the goal of democracy could not be achieved.”

While President is saying to amity and unison among the ethnic groups on 4 January Independence Day, his armed forces have been fighting fiercely against the Kachin Independence Organization in the Kachin State up to date. It is inconsistent terminology of the president since the regime has been launching war against the Kachin rebels in full swing.

Although Burma’s military-backed government has kept quiet to release the number of Burmese soldiers killed in action during the Kachin offensive, KIA sources say the Burmese army has sustained its worst losses in more than two decades. Some experienced Burmese military observers have supported a claim that the Burma Army’s Generals take no notice of the safety of their own badly trained recruit soldiers.

The latest series of armed clashes in Kachin state have prompted observers to believe that the futile war in the border regions may not be preventable.

The Thein Sein government seems to be uninterested ending hostilities upon Kachin Independence organization. So, it is obvious the government is not heading toward democratic system. As an alternative, it attempts to get hold of the Kachin State wickedly.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi made a comment Thursday: “I am concerned about how much support there is in the military for changes. In the end that’s the most important factor, how far the military are prepared to cooperate with reform principles.”

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said addressing the country’s long-lasting ethnic conflicts is predictable the more fundamental issue in due course, since there is not ethnic unification it will be very hard for all to build up a strong democracy.

http://asiancorrespondent.com/73285/kachin-rebels-shot-down-government%e2%80%99s-copter-as-burma-army-continues-war/

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Press Statement: Burma's Independence Day

USD 3 January 2012

Burma ‘not yet independent’: 1948 veterans

DVB 4 Jan 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome 2012!

Welcome 2012

အစိုး၇ႏွင့္ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းေ၇းေဆြးေႏြး၇န္ အသင့္ရွိေၾကာင္း ေကအိုင္အိုေျပာ

DVB 3 January 2012