Friday, March 29, 2013

Reports of ‘state involvement’ in Burma unrest: UN expert

Reports of ‘state involvement’ in Burma unrest: UN expert

By AFP and DVB
Published: 29 March 2013

Tomas Quintana, UN special envoy on human rights in Burma, reads his statement during a news conference before his departure in the VIP lounge of the Rangoon International Airport in February 2012. (Reuters)

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma human rights said Thursday he had received reports of “state involvement” in some of the recent violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the former army-ruled nation.

At least 40 people have been killed and mosques burned in several towns in central Burma since fresh sectarian strife erupted on 20 March, prompting the government to impose emergency rule and curfews in some areas.

“I have received reports of State involvement in some of the acts of violence,” Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement.

He also pointed to “instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well organised ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs.

“This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions.”

According to the statement, Quintana also received information indicating that the military and police may be arbitrarily detaining people based on religious and ethnic profiling.

“The military and police must now be held to account for human rights violations committed against ethnic and religious minorities,” he said.

Quintana also called on the government to take “immediate action to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country and undermining the reform process.”

“This includes stemming campaigns of discrimination and hate speech which are fuelling racist and, in particular, anti-Muslim feeling in the country,” he said.

“Tackling discrimination is fundamental to establishing the rule of law, and impunity for acts of violence and discrimination must no longer be tolerated.”

His comments come after Burma President Thein Sein vowed a tough response to religious extremists in a national address.

According to the United Nations, the recent clashes, which were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into a riot, have seen some 12,000 people displaced.

It is the worst sectarian strife since violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Arakan last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Analysis: Can Burma negotiate with ethnic rebels for genuine peace?

Analysis: Can Burma negotiate with ethnic rebels for genuine peace?

By Zin Linn Mar 22, 2013 6:06PM UTC

The government of Burma has released a number of statements indicating its willingness to reach an agreement with ethnic armed groups and political opponents, both domestic and exiled. Unfortunately, those offers have been considered contradictory.

Ethnic minorities have been suffering through five decades of brutal military maneuvers in the name of national unity. Attacks on these rural civilians continue on a regular basis. There is a constant demand from Burma’s ethnic groups to enjoy equal political, social and economic rights. The Constitution has to guarantee the rights of self-determination and of equal representation for every ethnic group in the Parliament. It is also required to include provisions against racial discrimination.

Peace may not be established if the government and its troops hesitate on making a genuine decision to reach a total end of civil war as well as total pulling out armed forces from the ethnic territories.

As people throughout the country denounced war in favor of genuine peace, some groups of people launched a peace march toward Laiza, the HQ of the Kachin Independence Organization. Peace marchers said in their statement that Burma needs a lasting peace to start a tripartite political dialogue in relation to various representatives of ethnic nationalities plus democratic forces and the Burmese military.

In the statement, they urge the government to set a date for a forum where equal rights and autonomy of ethnic nationalities will be discussed.

According to Kachinland News, Peace-Marchers of Myingyan, a town in the Mandalay Division, arrived in the Kachin administrative capital of Laiza on 13 March at 2 pm. Peace-Marchers were stopped at Lajayang by Burmese army on 9 March and waited for authorities’ permission for five days to enter Laiza city by sleeping on the road sides and fasting in protest of the blockage by Burmese soldiers. The soldiers finally removed the barrier to cross the creek in the early morning of 13 March, said a local resident.

Peace marchers wearing blue t-shirts in downtown Yangon on 21 September 2012, International Peace Day, calling to end civil war in Kachin state. (Photo Credit: Zin Wai’s Facebook)

In fact, Peace-Marchers began their peace journey on 7 February, 2013 at Myingyan. It took 34 days for them to reach to Laiza. Laiza residents, KIO officials and ABSDF troops welcomed a total of 54 participants, including 9 monks, 11 women and 34 men.

Thant Zin, head of the peace-marchers, said “We, Burmese think that Burmese army’s activities were nothing to do with us. Even though, we too are responsible to help solving the injustice. We will donate 14.8 millions kyats to IDPs via KIO officials.”

The peace marchers originated from 15 different towns in Mandalay Division, Sagaing Division and Kachin State and they urged in their statement both government and Kachin troops to end hostilities. They also urged respect for and recognition of the suffering of local Kachin civilians. They demanded reconstruction of the native communities by using psychological and physical healing as necessary.

The second group of peace-marchers arrived in Laiza on March 18. They began their journey from Yangon on Jan 21. One hundred thirty peace-marchers including 16 monks and one nun traveled 56 days on foot to reach Laiza in favor of lifelong peace. Peace-marchers were welcomed and greeted by thousands of Laiza residents and IDPs, KIO/KIA personnel and its allied troops from ABSDF, Palaung, Ko Kang and Arakan Army as they entered Laiza city on 18 March, Kachinland News said.

Yan Naing Htun, leader of the group, said, “Our main demand is to end civil war. It’s required to restore peace not only in Kachin state, but also in the whole country”.

Another group of peace activists led by a famous song-composer and guitarist Ye Lwin and former Capt. Nay Myo Zin arrived in Laiza on 15 March. They encouraged local residents and ABSDF troops by singing songs and making donations, Kachinland News quoted a resident.

During the June 2004 National Convention, 13 cease-fire groups submitted a political proposal demanding their equal rights to the plenary session. But the junta’s National convention convening committee rejected the proposal by reasoning as an inappropriate time and situation to be accepted at the plenary session. When the 2008 constitution came out as a text, none of the proposed political aspirations counseled by the ethnic representatives was included.

Aung San Suu Kyi supports all equal rights for the ethnic nationalities, while the military leaders are unwilling to do so. The military inflexibly declines to work together with Aung San Suu Kyi who continues collaborating with the ethnic political parties and cease-fire groups. To the military autocrats, allowing the ethnic minorities to enjoy equal political, social and economic rights is a risk that could lead to ‘non-disintegration of the union’.

Nevertheless, the NLD and its ethnic alliance parties strongly support equal rights to ethnic minorities that will guarantee peace, stability and prosperity of the country.

Even though some limited ceasefire deals are made between the rebel groups and the government, there has been little real progress on flawless peace.

It seems the military-backed government has been attempting to obtain more international recognition through make-believe peace-talks with the ethnic rebels. In contrast, Burma Army launches offensives against the ethnic armed groups frequently in order to control resource rich ethnic areas.

In reality, the ethnic people’s voice for autonomy is not a new one but already mentioned in the 1947-Panglong agreement. Many ethnic leaders asserted that they don’t have self-confidence in the new 2008 constitution. They believe that it will not produce a true federal union since the Burmese military take 25 percent of all seats in the existing parliament.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Myanmar military must go: Win Tin

Myanmar military must go: Win Tin

Bangkok Post
Published: 13 Mar 2013
Online news: Asia

(Reuters photo)

Myanmar will never be a democracy until the military fully relinquishes power, according to a veteran pro-democracy campaigner who believes that Aung San Suu Kyi is too conciliatory towards the former junta.

Win Tin speaks to reporters after his release from Yangon's Insein Prison, on Sept 23, 2008. The senior NLD figure still wears a blue shirt, the colour of his prison uniform, and says he will not wear any other colour until every political prisoner in Myanmar is free.

Win Tin, 83, was tortured and kept in solitary confinement for 19 years after he was arrested and imprisoned in 1989 for inciting “anti-government propaganda”.

The senior National League for Democracy (NLD) figure said that the party’s leader, Mrs Suu Kyi, isn’t going far enough in efforts to push through reforms following five decades of military rule.

“Some of us would like to push the military into the Bay of Bengal. She only wants to push them into Kandawgyi Lake,” he told the Washington Post in an interview published on Wednesday, referring to a lake in the centre of Yangon.

“She thinks she can persuade all the military leaders to become her friends and come to her side.

“But people suffered a lot [under military rule]. Without pushing the military out, we won’t achieve any democracy, any human rights."

Despite his concerns, Mr Win Tin said that he respects Mrs Suu Kyi and strongly believes in her commitment to democracy. He added that while he has reservations about her tactics, if anyone can tame the generals, she can.

The military’s grip on control of Myanmar loosened in 2011, with nods made to democracy by President Thein Sein, including the release of political prisoners and elections that saw Mrs Suu Kyi elected to parliament.

Mr Win says that despite the reforms, Myanmar remains far from reaching his democratic ideals.

“Although I am a free man, I feel my whole country is still in jail,” he said.

“There are no great prison walls, but we are still in chains.”

Myanmar’s constitution was re-written in 2010, guaranteeing the military a quarter of parliamentary seats, allowing it to declare a state of emergency and to dismiss a democratically elected government.

Mrs Suu Kyi would be blocked from becoming president, even if the NLD were to win an election.

“Some of us would like to withdraw this constitution and create a new one,” Mr Win said.

Myanmar scrapped pre-publication censorship rules in August 2012, ending controls that applied to everything from newspapers to song lyrics, and will permit private daily newspapers to be printed from April 1.

Media groups reacted with dismay earlier this month, however, over a proposed law to regulate the press that has raised fears the government could be reneging on its promise to loosen its grip on the long-shackled industry.

The printing and publishing bill, drafted by the ministry of information, has listed a number of restrictions, including reporting on clashes between ethnic groups and producing articles that "violate" the constitution.

Mr Win, who writes an uncensored weekly column and broadcasts a weekly radio show that mocks the government, the military and their business allies, said that the media should push for greater freedom.

“Many journalists, many politicians may think the situation they are in is good enough,” he said.

“They are quite contented, and they do not want to attack the government. They don’t want to be outspoken. That is a problem.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

KIO and Government: Peace Talk in Shweli

Burmese authorities and Kachin Independence Organization(KIO) agreed on Tuesday to deescalate tensions and forge ahead with peace talks aimed at reaching a “firm ceasefire,” in an advancement in efforts to end their long-running conflict.

Top military representatives from both sides involved in the fighting that broke out anew in 2011 joined in peace talks held Monday and Tuesday in the Chinese border town of Ruili, the second round of meetings held since fighting eased in late January.

A joint statement issued on Tuesday said they had agreed to make efforts for a strong ceasefire, to open coordination offices, and to hold another round of talks before April 10 this year.
Unofficial translation

Joint Statement of the Ruili Peace Talk 11-12 March 2013

1.      The Government Representatives led by the vice chairman of the Union Peace Implementation Committee and the Union Minister U Awng Min to which the Lieutenant General Myint Soe is a member and the KIO representatives led by U Sumlut Gam met at the town of Ruili, Peoples Republic of China on March 11 and 12, 2013.

2.      The meeting was also attended by four representatives of the Union Nationalities Federal Council, two representatives each from SSPP, RCSS, NDAA, four representatives from Peace Talk Creation Group (PCG), The Ambassador Mr. Wang Zongying and other two of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs PRC as the observers.

3.      The representatives of two sides had a frank discussion and reached the following agreements.

  1. To be able to start the Political Settlement, both sides agreed to proceed the durable ceasefire based on the mutual understanding, respect and trust.
  2. The arm conflicts have been reduced significantly as the result of the meeting on 4th February 2013, both sides shall continue to discuss the positions of the troops in the conflict zones. It was agreed that the both sides shall make sure that the Formal orders are reached to the ground troops.
  3. To monitor the military frontlines and for closer collaboration, the Conflict Supervision Posts will be established by the agreement of both sides.
  4. It was agreed to continue the implementation of the agreements reached on the 4th February 2013 and 11th and 12th March 2013.
  5. It was agreed to conduct the next meeting before 10th April 2013.
4.     The necessary steps shall be taken to reach to the eventual National Level Political settlement.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pinlone Meeting - Yangon

ဦးခ်န္ထြန္းေၾကာင့္ တုိင္းရင္းသားေတြ စိတ္ဝမ္းကြဲ

ဦးခ်န္ထြန္းရဲ႕ တစ္ျပည္ေထာင္စနစ္ တည္ေထာင္လုိက္ျခင္းေၾကာင့္ တုိင္းရင္းသားေတြ အခ်င္းခ်င္းစိတ္ဝမ္း ကြဲျပားမႈေတြ ျဖစ္ေပၚခဲ့ရတာျဖစ္တယ္လုိ႔ ခ်င္းတုိင္းရင္းသားမ်ား စာေပႏွင့္ယဥ္ေက်းမႈ ေကာ္မတီ တကၠသုိလ္မ်ား ရန္ကုန္ႈ နာယက ေဒါက္တာ ေဒၚေအးေအးငြန္က မက္လ ၂ ရက္ေန႔က ရန္ကုန္တိုင္း ဗဟန္းၿမိဳ႕နယ္ ဓမၼေစတီလမ္းနဲ႔ ဦးဝိစာရလမ္းေထာင့္ရွိ ဆမြန္စီးပြားေရး စင္တာ တတိယထပ္မွ ဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးေရး မ႑ိဳင္အစည္းအေဝးရုံးခန္းမွာ ပင္လုံစာခ်ဳပ္နဲ႔ပတ္သက္လုိ႔ ျပဳလုပ္တဲ့ အျမင္သေဘာထား ေဆြးေႏြးပြဲမွာ ေျပာဆုိသြားပါတယ္။ဒါေၾကာင့္ စိတ္ဝမ္းကြဲေနတဲ့ တုိင္းရင္းသား ေတြအားလုံးဟာ ပင္လုံစိတ္ဓါတ္ကုိ အေျခခံတဲ့ ပင္လုံညီလာခံလုိမ်ိဳး ေနာက္တစ္ႀကိမ္း ျပဳလုပ္ဖုိ႔ ႀကိဳးစားေနတဲ့အေပၚမွာလက္ရွိအစိုးရေရာ တုိင္းရင္းသားေတြဖက္ကပါ နားလည္မႈေတြ ထားရွိဖုိ႔ သူကေထာက္ျပခဲ့ပါတယ္။ အဲဒီလုိပဲ ဒီပြဲကုိ တက္ ေရာက္ေဆြးေႏြးခဲ့တဲ့့ သမုိင္းပါေမာကၡ ေဒါက္တာ ဦးစုိင္းေအာင္ထြန္းကလဲ ပင္လုံစာခ်ဳပ္နဲ႔ပတ္သက္လုိ႔ ႏုိင္ငံေရး ပါတီေတြရဲ႕ စိတ္ပါဝင္စားမႈနဲ႔ ပတ္သက္ၿပီး ေမးခြန္းထုတ္သြားခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ေဆြးေႏြးပြဲကုိ သမုိင္း ပါေမာကၡ ေဒါက္တာ ဦးစုိင္း ေအာင္ထြန္း ၊ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံ က်မ္းစာေက်ာင္းမွ ကုိယ္စားလွယ္ ကုိေမာင္ဆန္း ေအာင္ ၊ ခ်င္း တုိင္းရင္းသားမ်ား စာေပႏွင့္ယဥ္ေက်းမႈ ေကာ္မတီ တကၠသုိလ္မ်ား ရန္ကုန္ နာယက ေဒါက္တာ ေဒၚေအးေအးငြန္ နဲ႔ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံ သမုိင္းေၾကာင္းေလ့လာေနတဲ့ ႏုိင္ငံျခားသားေတြ ေနာက္ သံဃာေတာ္ေတြ တုိင္းရင္းသားေတြ စိတ္ပါဝင္စားသူေတြအပါအဝင္ လူဦးေရ ၁၀၀ ေလာက္တက္ေရာက္ ခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။