Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma

October 23- November 9, 2006


Readers' Front

Burmese fishery workers rounded up in Thai raid

SPDC handpicks ward headmen

Villagers flee forced Burmese militia training

Another migrant worker dies in a car accident

Burma Army eyes motorcycles for New Capital

Unrepresented Peoples Organization gathers in Taipei

NMSP: Cease-fire policy will be maintained

Myanmar allows North Korean cargo ship in distress to enter port

Indigenous People See Harm from Kyoto Warming Pact




Readers' front


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Migrant Watch


Burmese fishery workers rounded up in Thai raid

(Kaowao: November 9, 2006)


Local Thai police arrested 51 Burmese migrant workers as illegal immigrants at a Thai fish-processing factory on Tuesday, November 7.


According to a local source from the fishing community, near Bangkok, they were arrested at 3:30 pm local time for failing to produce work permit registration cards.  The Thai authorities also charged the owner of the factory for hiring illegal immigrants and for not having registered his small business.


A local witness told a Kaowao reporter that the owner of the fish-processing factory, Mr. Bonsaring, 36 years old, was in charge of a small fish processing factory on Somchai Street, Htasai Ward in Samutsakhorn fishing town. The area is dominated by scores of fish processing factories employing thousands of Burmese migrants.


The arrests have kindled fears that more arrests are imminent, said Nai Yeup, a social worker from the Mon Labour Organization, especially after the Thai and Burmese authorities have agreed to work together to issue work permits for migrant workers.


However, social workers say that the Thai migrant worker policy having changed so often is inefficient and liable to corruption. In particular it needs to be less confusing, offer clear-cut guidelines, be affordable and less restrictive.  Meanwhile, on the Burmese side, other observers say the migrants will be victimized by the Burmese system that is too corrupt and too undemocratic to ensure a smooth registration process.




SPDC handpicks ward headmen

(Kaowao: November 7, 2006)


The SPDC authorities at the Three Pagodas Pass border town have handpicked the new ward headmen with the election results ending in dissatisfaction, reported town residents.


The sources from the Thai Burma border town reported that the election was attended by a handful of voters under the observation by Township Peace and Development Council Chairman, U Tin Win, authorities from the Burma Army, Police Force, and the Intelligence Service.


The election for the ward headmen was held on November 5, 2006 at MyaTheinTan Dhamma Hall.


“There was some argument about the method of voting but civilians had no choice to choose their headmen.  The 7 candidates proposed by the public were rejected and they (SPDC authorities) listed 5 of their own candidates,” said a town resident who attended the meeting.


“The public knew they couldn’t express their opinions and only about 30 people attended the voting even though every household was ordered to come,” added other voters who spoke under the condition of anonymity.


“The SPDC appointed headmen will make it difficult to organize social and cultural activities for the ethnic people,” said Chan Lun, a member of the Mon Culture and Literature Committee.


According to a source close to the VPDC in the border area, the military government would have to send the headmen’s list in about once week.


The SPDC appointed all local administrators and village headmen in October drawn from army veterans and influential people with a minimum of high school education.  The village headmen will serve for three years in the local administration. 



Villagers flee forced Burmese militia training

(Kaowao: November 5, 2006)

The Burma Army has given orders to village headmen in southern Ye,
Mon State to conduct a draw to recruit villagers for the Burmese government's militia training course, according to local witnesses.

The Burma Army's Battalion No. 31 is gathering a list for recruits in which 10 per cent of the local population be chosen for the militia training. However, many villagers are reluctant to take part and were absent in the last meeting.

"The villages are like open prisons. Many villagers are afraid to work in the militia force and some of them have already fled from the village to other places," said Banya Mon, a youth leader from Hamgam village.

The Burma Army is planning to form militia groups made up of the new trainees from Hamgam, Kalot, Kaw Hlaing and Khawzar sub-town villages.

The militia groups' main role under military command is to act as a kind of buffer for the BA and the SPDC. The militia also guides the BA in their military operations. Most militiamen are retired soldiers from the BA or local poor men who are unemployed and unable to feed their families.

The militiamen and counter insurgency forces are given powers to extort and punish villagers with impunity who oppose them.  The villagers are forced to pay for all expenses in the training, including food, the militia's salaries, and other services. If they cannot they face indiscriminate arrest, torture, and harassment, worse they will be seen as suspects and beaten. Thousands of families in southern
Mon State live under such conditions and are driven to destitution and despair; many flee to the Thai-Burma border especially during counter-insurgency operations by the BA.




Another migrant worker dies in a car accident

(Kaowao: October 31, 2006)


A car accident killed a migrant worker and left others arrested for illegal entry, according to a source from Karnchanaubri town, western Thailand.


A six-wheeled vehicle carrying 22 migrant workers from the Three Pagodas Pass Thai-Burma border overturned after it tried to overtake another truck at the intersection near Karnchanaburi town.


“The speeding accident occurred on October 26 around 8:30 pm local time and a male passenger died at the scene.  Two suffered injuries and 18 were arrested by the Thai police for illegal entry, one escaped at the scene,” said Mr. Lay Lak, a Karnchanaburi town resident.


The vehicle driver collected the migrants from human traffickers with each migrant paying up to 8000 Baht each to deliver them to a work place destination.


In June, a Mon woman died when her vehicle carrying another 52 migrant workers, mostly Mon nationals from Burma, overturned on the way to Karnchanaburi.




Burma Army eyes motorcycles for New Capital

(Kaowao: October 30, 2006)


State Peace and Development Council officers at Three Pagodas Pass Thai Burma border town are on the prowl for 80 motorcycles to meet the government’s quota for a new gate at the capital in central Burma by month’s end.


A local businessman with close relations to police officers said the Burma Army has given the go ahead for the local police to check motorcycles and confiscate those without licenses, headlights, or side mirrors.  The operation started on October 20 and an average of 20 motorcycles have been confiscated a night.


“The old bikes are usually returned to their owners after paying a hefty fine of between (500-1000) Baht. To date they have collected some 300,000 Baht in extortion money.  Those from civil servants, cease-fire groups and organizations are able to afford paying fines compared to ordinary citizens who are hard pressed to find the extra money,” said a businessman who spoke under condition of anonymity.


A BA officer came to the local police office and earmarked the new bikes for their boss.  Those (being marked) are impossible to get back even though the owners have offered bribes. The officer, according to the businessman, said the BA have marked about 45 motorcycles for the new government control-points (gate) at Pyinmana and Naypyidaw area.


Meanwhile, other sources reported the Burma Army Southeast Command in Moulmein is giving away seized vehicles to its battalions and senior officers; others are sold to U Paing Ltd in an auction.  Those vehicles were confiscated last year belonging to individuals, Buddhist temples and cease-fire groups. 




Unrepresented Peoples Organization gathers in Taipei

(Kaowao: October 29, 2006)


The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization’s (UNPO) 8th General Assembly was held in Taipei, Taiwan on October 27-29, 2006.


The ceremony opened with a performance of the indigenous Taiwan community that featured folk songs and a colorful cultural dance by Ami and Puyuma.  Commentators paid tribute to the work of members who have played a crucial role since its inception. “We discussed ‘Identity, Democracy, and Security’. The UNPO was encouraged by academics at the GA to reassert their future direction and strategic plans in line with current international political climates and circumstances. The members enthusiastically discussed and debated on this issue.  All UNPO members and staffs were invited afterwards by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a Gala Dinner,” said Siri Mon Chan, a Mon delegate who flew in from Australia to represent the Mon people.


In 1991, indigenous peoples, occupied nations, minorities and independent states founded the UNPO at The Hague, Netherlands to protect their human rights. At the beginning, Armenia, Australian Aboriginals, the Cordillera, the Crimean Tatars, East Turkestan, Estonia, Georgia, the Greek Minority in Albania, Iraqi Kurdistan, Latvia, Palau, Taiwan, Tatarstan, Tibet and West-Papua founded the UNPO to promote and affirm the value of democracy, tolerance, non-violence, and the right to self-determination.


The UNPO provides an established international forum for members and assists them in effective participation at the international level such as at the UN.  Six UNPO members; Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, Palau and East Timor, have been admitted to the UN.  At present the UNPO has 63 member organizations representing over 150 million people worldwide.


The Mon people as an indigenous population from Southern Burma became a member in 1996 and is headed by Mon Unity League leaders, namely, Phisan Platsingh, Sunthorn Sripanngern, Cham Toik and Rev. Wongsa Parla who took part in the GA in Estonia in 1997.


The Karenni, Mon, Shan and Chin from the Union of Burma are also UNPO members and actively participate in international lobbying and awareness building though different channels. They also have issued a joint resolution on Burma in support of the UNSC involvement in Burma 's affairs and urge the UN and the international community to pressure the SPDC to initiate a tripartite dialogue comprised of the representatives of the NLD, the ethnic nationalities, and the military government.




NMSP: Cease-fire policy will be maintained

(Kaowao: October 24, 2006)


The New Mon State Party will maintain its cease-fire policy and solve the political crisis through a dialogue, according to a CEC statement yesterday.

The Central Executive Committee, the leading body of the NMSP issued a statement to the general public regarding the party's stance on the government sponsored National Convention.

The CEC statement, in response to the pubic suggestion said, the NMSP has firmly followed its policy since 1992 seeking a dialogue to solve the political crisis by cooperating with other political parties and nationalities.

The NMSP conducted a survey among the public and, according to a senior leader, it shows public opinion is divided on whether to join the National Convention or to walk out.

From full participation at the NC earlier, The NMSP only sent a low profile team to attend the National Convention as observers. Some overseas Mon communities from
Australia, Canada, EU and USA supported the NMSP stance while they denounced the NC and urged the United Nations Security Council to bring Burma issues on its agenda.

However, the
Australia based Mon National Council (MNC) recently urged the NMSP to withdraw from the National Convention and to reconsider its cease-fire policy.


The NMSP, in the statement, said it will endeavour to achieve benefits for the people by holding on to the cease-fire and urged the Mon public to work together.


Established by late President Nai Shwe Kyin in 1958, the NMSP is the only major political party with a military wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), which had fought against the regime for almost five decades.  It reached a cease-fire deal with the ruling junta in 1995.




Myanmar allows North Korean cargo ship in distress to enter port

(AP: November 7, 2006)


YANGON - Myanmar permitted a North Korean cargo vessel in distress to anchor at a port over the weekend, and conducted an inspection that found no cargo violating U.N. sanctions, said a government statement sent to embassies and obtained Tuesday.

The Myanmar Foreign Ministry statement said authorities received a distress call Saturday from the vessel and allowed it to enter one of
Myanmar's ports on "humanitarian grounds."

Myanmar authorities conducted an inspection on board the North Korean cargo vessel and found no suspicious material or military equipment," said the statement.

The ship left
Myanmar early Monday, according to the statement sent to several embassies that day. Officials from two of the embassies, who spoke on condition of anonymity, read the statement aloud to The Associated Press.

The statement did not say where the ship was headed or where it had been. Nor did it detail the nature of the distress call, saying only that
Myanmar authorities supplied the ship with fuel and water and food for its crew.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a sanctions resolution to punish
North Korea  for its first-ever nuclear test, which was conducted last month. The sanctions forbid trade with North Korea in weapons and luxury goods.






Indigenous People See Harm from Kyoto Warming Pact


Story by Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn



NAIROBI - Indigenous peoples from the Amazon to Asia said on Wednesday that UN-backed clean energy projects meant to combat global warming were aggravating threats to their livelihoods.


They said hydropower projects or plantations of fast-growing trees, prompted by a billion-dollar scheme under the UN's Kyoto Protocol for limiting the planet's dependence on fossil fuels, were damaging nature.


"We are not only victims of climate change, we are now victims of the carbon market," Jocelyn Therese, a spokesman for indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, told a news conference on the fringes of UN talks on global warming.


"Efforts that are supposed to...retard climate change are having an equally disastrous effect," said Ana Pinto, representing indigenous peoples in India.


She said that 162 small hydro dams were planned in northern India alone, flooding lands, under a Kyoto project allowing rich countries to invest in Third World clean energy schemes and claim credits back home for shifting from coal, oil and gas.


"All development projects in indigenous territories must respect our fundamental rights to our lands, territories, waters and self-determination," the International Indigenous Forum said in a statement.


Some experts say the Kyoto scheme, known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), could transfer US$100 billion of investment to poor nations in projects ranging from wind farms to power generation from rotting vegetation in trash dumps.


"The negative effects are not intended by the CDM," Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission's chief climate official, said of the indigenous people's objections. He said the Commission wanted to hear all views to improve the CDM.



Kyoto obliges 35 industrial states to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by 2012 in a first step to slow a warming that most scientists say could trigger more floods, erosion, disease and rising seas.


The indigenous peoples said that they needed a voice in the UN climate talks, grouping 189 governments, saying that people from Inuit hunters in the Arctic to Pacific islanders lived on the front lines of climate change.


Climate change "is here now, people are being left without fresh water, without homes, and sometimes they will be left without countries," said Sandy Gauntlett, a Maori representing Pacific nations.


"Your children will grow up with friends who come from countries that no longer exist," he said. The highest point on the Pacific island state of Tuvalu, for instance, is 4 metres (13 ft) above sea level and could be swamped by rising seas.


Hussein Abilan, of northeastern Kenya, said climate change had disrupted traditional signs of rains. The natural warnings allowed people, for instance, to move livestock to higher ground to avoid floods.


"I never required meteorology to tell when rains would come -- the frogs would tell me something, there were signs in the stars and the sky...We had the birds who told us of rains," he said. 


"All those are now gone," he said.






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