Wednesday, March 28, 2012

KIO Central Committee Announcement

28 March 2012
1. We are aware that in the announcement No. 16/2012, the Electoral Commission of the Union of Burma Government, issued on March 23, 2012, declared that in the electoral districts of Phakant Township, Bhamo Township, and Mogaung Township existing security conditions are inadequate for holding fair and lawful election.

2. We are also aware that on March 26, 2012, the Central Committee of the National League for Democracry (NLD) issued a statement indicating that it wishes to discuss the above-mentioned matter with the KIO with hope of overcoming the obstacles. Further, the NLD stated its belief that such a meeting with KIO might resolve the existing problems.

3. For the record, in the election of 2010 the KIO:
(a) did not denounce, nor made derogatory remarks about the election,
(b) totally refrained from hindering the electoral process,
(c) and for the purposes of citizens to vote according their beliefs and choices,
(d) and for copperation in assuring security,
the KIO issued on October 28, 2010, to all its functional units, instruction to the effect that the KIO would cooperate as above.

4. We welcome the news that the NLD desires to meet with us to discuss the issue of the coming election. If by the NLD meeting with the KIO substantive progress can be realized toward holding a fair and objective election in Kachin State we are prepared to help.

Central Committee,
KIO March 28, 2012

This translation is not requested by the KIO Central Committee and is not official. It is done to inform the outside world via the news media what decisions are being made and how, by Kachin political leaders in Laiza. Translation by SK-KAF/USA, March 28, 2012

Translator's note: Politically the KIO tries hard to be reasonable, always, but the heart of the KIO is the heart of the Kachin people. If the NLD in any sense insinuates that the KIO is responsible for the security lapse in the aforementioned areas, and if the NLD does not simultaneously plan to discuss the matter with the government, the NLD would have lost the soul of the Kachin people before setting out to meet the KIO. And the NLD will find the KIO perhaps rather intransigent. The government started this war on June 9, 2010, afterall, and the Kachin people have suffered far more than other nationals of the Union as consequence.

KIOCC STATEMENT MARCH 28, 2012(in burmese)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

World leaders vow to confront nuclear threat

Statement at end of two-day summit in Seoul pledges strong action and closer co-operation against nuclear terrorism.

Last Modified: 27 Mar 2012 09:09

World leaders attending a summit in the South Korean capital Seoul have pledged strong action and closer co-operation to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism.

In a statement issued at the end of the two-day 53-nation nuclear summit, the leaders reaffirmed "shared goals of nuclear disarmament, nuclear proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy".

"Nuclear terrorism continues to be one of the most challenging threats to international security," it said.

"Defeating this threat requires strong national measures and international co-operation given its potential global, political, economic, social and psychological consequences."

The statement welcomed "substantive progress" on national commitments made at the first nuclear security summit in Washington in 2010.

Action stressed

Before the summit concluded, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said nuclear terrorism remained a "grave threat", while US President Barack Obama said action was important.

Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the group to work together on the issue.

While the official agenda of the summit was to strengthen measures to track the movement of nuclear materials worldwide, much of the dialogue focussed on efforts to get North Korea to back off a planned rocket launch scheduled for next month and return to disarmament talks.

North Korea announced earlier this month that it would send a satellite into space aboard a long-range rocket.

Pyongyang has said the launch is part of its peaceful space programme and says a new southern flight path is meant to avoid other countries. Previous rockets have been fired over Japan.

The secretive North was widely criticised on the sidelines of the meeting, including by main ally China, but host Seoul has explicitly stated Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction programmes were off the table during the summit itself.

Defiant North Korea

On Tuesday, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said that the launch would go ahead as planned.

North Korea ''will never give up the launch of a satellite for peaceful purposes''', the spokesman said in a statement in the official KCNA news agency.

A report by the KCNA also described the ''weather satellite'' Pyongyang planned to launch as useful for ''the study of weather forecast needed for agriculture and other economic fields''.

Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister, speaking at the summit, called on Pyongyang to cancel the rocket launch, saying that it would violate UN Security Council resolutions.

"The planned missile launch North Korea recently announced would go against the international community's nuclear non-proliferation effort and violate UN Security Council resolutions," Noda said.

Obama had urged North Korean leaders to abandon their rocket plan or risk jeopardising their country's future and thwarting a recent US pledge of food aid in return for nuclear and missile test moratoria, considered a breakthrough after years of deadlock.

On Monday while speaking at a university in Seoul, Obama said that he was pushing for "a world without nuclear weapons".

Iran's nuclear programme was also on the minds of the summit participants, as Obama met the leaders of Russia and China on the sidelines to work towards a resolution.

Obama had said that the threat of nuclear weapons remained a potent challenge for the globe to confront, telling foreign leaders that "the security of the world depends on the actions that we take".

Neither Iran nor North Korea had participated in the summit.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Loneliest Superpower

Asia's arms shopping spree

HRW: Abuses continue in Burma despite reforms

HRW: Abuses continue in Burma despite reforms

By Mar 20, 2012 11:10AM UTC

BANGKOK (AP) — It sounds a lot like the old, military-run Burma, and not much like the reform-minded new one: A feared army attacking civilians indiscriminately, razing homes and raping women while the government prevents international aid from reaching tens of thousands of displaced survivors.

A Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday says violence and ongoing rights abuses continue unabated in Burma’s conflict-riddled northern Kachin State despite an unprecedented reform campaign spearheaded by the country’s post-junta government elsewhere in the country, also known as Burma.

“There’s still a long way to go before the people of Burma, particularly those in conflict areas, benefit from recent promises of reform,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The international community should not become complacent about the serious human rights violations still plaguing” the country, she said.

The dire situation in the remote region near the Chinese border casts a shadow over the government’s avowed commitment to democratic change as it seeks an end to Western sanctions and a greater international acceptance after years as a pariah state.

Government officials in Burma, also known as Burma, could not immediately be reached for comment.

After half a century of military rule, Burma’s army ceded power last year to a nominally civilian government dominated by retired army officers and members of the former regime. Since then, President Thein Sein has surprised Western governments by making several dramatic changes, including opening up next month’s by-elections to the opposition, releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing truces with rebel groups and easing restrictions on the media.

But the fighting in Kachin State, which broke out for the first time in nearly two decades last June, stands in stark contrast to those widely praised developments. Skirmishes have continued despite a call by Thein Sein for the army to cease fire and repeated efforts to broker negotiate a peaceful settlement.

Human Rights Watch documented unlawful killings, and said soldiers have threatened and tortured civilians during interrogations for information about insurgents. It said the army has forced men as old as 70 to carry out manual labor at gunpoint, and conscripted teens as young as 14 to serve on the front line.

Troops have also “deliberately and indiscriminately fired on Kachin civilians with small arms and mortars,” sometimes simply to force people to flee, the rights group said.

Human Rights Watch staff traveled to Kachin State twice in the second half of 2011, visiting nine displaced camps and interviewing more than 100 people, including one man forcibly held as a porter by soldiers for 19 days. The man, identified as “M. Seng,” also said he witnessed two women being raped repeatedly.

“Soldiers would come and take the women and bring them from tent to tent,” the rights group quoted him as saying. “We were so afraid and we couldn’t watch the whole night. The next morning, the women couldn’t walk right … They walked hunched over. And they were crying.”

The New York-based rights watchdog also said Kachin rebels, known as the Kachin Independence Army, are using child soldiers and planting land mines.

So far, the conflict has displaced 75,000 people, leaving many in desperate need of food, medicine and shelter. But delivering international aid to affected regions in rebel-controlled territory has proven extraordinarily difficult.

The government has granted U.N. agencies access to the area only once, in December, when two trucks delivered shelter supplies. They were not able to visit the entire area and have not been allowed to return, Human Rights Watch said.

The aid shortfall “has pressured families to return to insecure villages in order to gather belongings or tend to animals and fields, risking encounters with hostile Burmese army forces and exposing them to anti-personnel mines that have been laid by both parties,” Human Rights Watch said.

“Burmese army soldiers have fired upon civilians, including children, threatened them, and abducted them for forced labor. Many villagers have returned home only to find that the army has already destroyed or confiscated their property and belongings.”

Aid groups have also expressed concern that making requests to help out in the conflict zone could imperil their other officially sanctioned aid projects in the country, the report said.

“It is essential that support for recent reforms not lead to international complacency about the serious human rights violations still plaguing Burma,” the report said. “Legal and political changes are only beginning to make headway and there is a long way to go before all Burmese benefit from them.”



Sunday, March 11, 2012

China pressures Burma to restart $3.6bn dam project

China pressures Burma to restart $3.6bn dam project

By Mar 11, 2012 4:15PM UTC
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese officials have urged Burma’s government to restart a Chinese-backed multibillion-dollar power dam project that was suspended apparently without notice last year.
China was caught off guard by September’s suspension of the $3.6 billion China-funded Myitsone dam, which was being built by a Chinese company in Burma. The project had drawn protests from ethnic and environmental groups, and the suspension marked a significant about-face in Burma’s domestic politics.

The officials, speaking on the sidelines of China’s annual legislative session, said the dam would produce badly needed electricity for Burma and raise living standards, the official China Daily reported Sunday.

It quoted a former head of the National Energy Administration, Zhang Guobao, as saying the dam is a good project that will bring local residents a better life.

It also quoted Lu Qizhou, president of China Power Investment Co., which is providing the financing for the project, as saying the company will do all it can to avoid negative environmental impacts from its projects.

“Burma is our friendly neighbor … we hope to restart the project as quickly as possible,” Lu said.

Both Lu and Zhang are members of the Chinese People’s Consultative Committee, an advisory body to the annual National People’s Congress being held in Beijing.

China and resource-rich Burma have historic ties, but the suspension of the dam project came as an apparent surprise to Beijing, which has long provided key diplomatic and economic support for Burma.

Burma President Thein Sein announced the suspension of the project on Sept. 30, drawing sharp criticism from the Chinese company behind the project but praise from activists who say it would displace many villagers and upset the ecology of the Irrawaddy River. It also would submerge a culturally important site in the ethnic Kachin heartland.

The dam has also been criticized because about 90 percent of the electricity it would generate would be exported to China, while the vast majority of Burma’s citizens have no power.

Beijing has poured billions of dollars of investment into Burma to operate mines, extract timber and build oil and gas pipelines. China has also been a staunch supporter of the country’s politically isolated government.

China Power Investment Corp., which has threatened legal action over the move, is a state-owned company, and its website says it operates under the leadership of the State Council, which is China’s Cabinet.

KIO Dat Kasa ni hte Myen Mung Asuya Dat Kasa ni a Masum Lang na Shweli Zuphpawng

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Can Burma’s president persuade army to end ethnic war?

By Zin Linn Mar 04, 2012 12:37AM UTC

On 1 March 2012, President of Burma (Myanmar) Thein Sein delivered a speech at Parliament in the capital Naypyitaw. The president started his speech by saying that his government is a turning point to a historic beginning for the next generations and the ‘extent of success, stability and durability of the transition process of the present government’ will become the legacy for future succeeding governments.

Thein Sein said Thursday that his government will make available comprehensive reforms that have been set in motion over the last year. The government will make an effort to encourage disbelievers at home and abroad that it is beyond doubt faithful to democratic reforms.

He said: “If we compare our situation with the current global situation, our democratization process is a successful transition which the people can take as a model with great admiration. Who deserves credit? Not only the government, but also all the stakeholders including political parties, civil societies, members of the houses, the judicial pillar, the fourth estate media, national race leaders, and the armed forces have been harmoniously taking part in the respective sectors to reach this situation.”

However, in an exclusive interview, Nation Group Editor in Chief Suthichai Yoon asked the Lady whether the reform process in Burma is irreversible.

Burmese democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, responded: “I do not know whether the army is behind the reform. We do not know where the army stands in regard to the reforms and I’ve always said that until we know that the army is solidly behind the reform movement, we cannot say the process is irreversible.”

After nearly one year in office as head of a military-backed civilian government, his speech to the parliament has come out by saying changes consist of release political prisoners, signing cease-fires with ethnic armed rebel groups, easing limitations on the media and opening a talk with key opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Since then, Thein Sein has run a few remarkable changes that has taken aback some journalists who closely watch Burma. Those changes include freeing political prisoners, signing cease-fires with armed rebel groups, easing restrictions on the press and opening a dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The president also said that as Burma is a Union, the participation of all national races in the nation-building process on equal terms is an obligation. He said misunderstandings and doubts appear due to a lack of close relations among ethnic tribes. The president emphasized that Bamar is also one of the nationalities of the Union similar to Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan.

“The aspiration of the national races to share the rights among all and enjoy equality is also the desire of our government,” Thein Sein said.

If it is true, people will welcome the presidential statement. On the contrary, the respective ethnic minorities have constantly demanded for their self-sufficiency since 1948. But successive governments in Burma use military might to govern ethnic minorities. If one looks back to 1960-61, many leaders from ethnic states criticized the flaws of the constitution as well as the government’s failure to acknowledge the political autonomy of the ethnic minorities.

The ethnic groups accused the central government of not allowing the representatives of ethnic states to handle their own affairs in areas of the economy, judiciary, education, customs and so on. The central government ruled the ethnic areas as vassal states.

The president explained the issue concerning battles in the Kachin State. He said that he ordered the armed forces to terminate all military offensives or attacks except self-defense purposes. According to his comment on Kachin warfare, the remaining skirmishes will not end just by pointing a finger at one another. Both sides ought to stop all hostilities to start a political dialogue. There must be mutual assurances and pledges to end all hostilities, he said.

“It is the duty of our government and the Kachin leaders to fulfill the aspirations and hopes of the people,” Thein Sein underlined in his speech.

On the other hand, several ethnic leaders including the Kachin leadership asserted that they don’t have faith in the planned 2010 election where they are likely to have limited opportunities which is not likely to create a genuinely peaceful federal union; Burmese armed-forces take 25 percent of all seats and also seize an additional 77 percent through junta-backed parties.

In such a parliament, dominated by the military and former military, ethnic representatives have little or no chance to drive the autonomy and equal rank issues. In addition, even dependable ethnic representatives have no opportunity to occupy enough seats in the military bloc monopolized-parliament to form an effective coalition.

So, many analysts consider Thein Sein’s view on ethnic issue is still far from pragmatic process. As the major responsibility is in the hand of the government, he should not lay the blame on the ethnic rebels, especially on the Kachin Independence Organization.

Without addressing and honoring the ethnic people’s demand for self-determination, the military-based Thein Sein government may not stop political and civil strife in ethnic regions. In reality, ethnic people’s demand for equal rights is not a new one but was stated in the 1947-Panglong agreement.