Thursday, 21 June 2012

Suu Kyi Finally Gets Honorary Degree

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi receives her honorary doctorate from Oxford University. (Photo: Reuters)

OXFORD, England—It was a long wait, but Aung San Suu Kyi has finally received her honorary degree from Oxford University.

In her acceptance speech, Suu Kyi praised the role Oxford played in helping her see humankind at its best during her long years under house arrest in Burma.

“The most important thing that I learned was respect for all of civilization,” she said, wearing a traditional red academic gown and black hat. “In Oxford I learned to respect all that is best in human civilization. That helped me cope with something that was not quite the best.”

She said “the saddest thing” about Burma is that its young people do not get to have a similar college experience because university life has been “shattered.”

The leader of Myanmar’s opposition was honored Wednesday at the university’s Encaenia ceremony, in which it presents honorary degrees to distinguished people.

Suu Kyi celebrated her 67th birthday on Tuesday, when she met briefly with the Dalai Lama, who is also visiting England. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader tweeted a photo of the meeting Wednesday morning.
Suu Kyi said the Oxford visit brought back strong memories of her carefree student days.

“I didn’t feel any different from then,” she said, recalling idyllic summer days spent reading outside in Oxford.
Author John le Carre was also honored, and Suu Kyi praised his novels during her speech, saying they helped ward off a sense of isolation while she was unable to travel.

Suu Kyi, who is making her first visits outside of her native country in 24 years, was awarded the honorary doctorate in civil law in 1993 but was unable to collect it.

The ceremony capped an emotional homecoming to Oxford, where Suu Kyi studied philosophy, politics and economics between 1964 and 1967. She lived in Oxford for many years with her late husband, the Tibet scholar Michael Aris, and their sons Alexander and Kim.

Historian Peter Carey, a family friend, said the trip is “partly a walk down memory lane, it’s partly a very powerful homecoming to something that was a third of her life.”

He said her late husband had always been optimistic about the prospect of political change in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, and did not expect his wife to be trapped there for so long.
“He always said to me, ‘Peter it’s not so long now. It’s just around the corner,’” said Carey.
Aris died of cancer in 1999, having been denied a visa to visit his wife in Burma while he was ill.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

၂၄ ႏွစ္ျပည့္ ၁၉၈၈ (ဂြ်န္)ေက်ာင္းသားလႈပ္ရွားမႈ


၈ေလးလုံး အေရးေတာ္ပုံႀကီး ေပၚေပါက္လာဖို႔ အေရးပါတဲ့ အခန္းက႑တစ္ခုအျဖစ္ပါဝင္ခဲ့တဲ့ ၁၉၈၈ (ဂြ်န္) တစ္ပါတီစနစ္ ဆန္႔က်င္ေရး ရန္ကုန္တကၠသိုလ္ေက်ာင္းသားလႈပ္ရွားမႈ ၂၄ ႏွစ္ျပည့္ ေငြရတုအႀကိဳ ႏွစ္ပတ္ လည္ အခမ္းအနား တစ္ခုကုိ ရန္ကုန္ၿမိဳ႕ ေတာ္ဝင္ႏွင္းဆီခန္းမမွာ ဇြန္လ ၁၇ ရက္ေန႔က က်င္းပျပဳလုပ္ ခဲ့ပါ တယ္။ ဒီအခမ္းအနားကုိ မ်ိဳးဆက္အသီးသီးက ေက်ာင္းသားေခါင္းေဆာင္ေတြ ႏုိင္ငံေရးအင္အားစုေတြ ၊NLD အဖြဲ႔ဝင္ေတြ ၊ သတင္းမီဒီယာေတြနဲ႔ စိတ္ပါဝင္စားတဲ့ ျပည္သူေတြအပါအဝင္ လူဦးေရ ၅၀၀ ေလာက္တက္ ေရာက္လာခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။ ဒီအခမ္းအနားမွာ ၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ေက်ာင္းသားေခါင္းေဆာင္ ကုိမင္းကုိႏုိင္က ဂြ်န္ လႈပ္ရွားမႈမွာပါဝင္ခဲ့တဲ့ ေက်ာင္းသားေတြရဲ႕ စိတ္ေနစိတ္ထားကုိခ်ီးမြန္းလုိက္သလုိ ေက်ာင္းသားေခါင္းေဆာင္ ကုိဆန္နီကလည္း ၁၉၈၈ ဂြ်န္ လႈပ္ရွားမႈအေၾကာင္းေတြကုိ အက်ယ္တဝန္း ရွင္းလင္းေျပာၾကားခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ဒီအခမ္းအနားမွာ တကၠသိုလ္ ေက်ာင္းသားသမဂၢ အေဆာက္အအုံ ျပန္လည္ ေပၚေပါက္ေရး ကိစၥကုိ ေဆြးေႏြး သြားခဲ့ၾကသလုိ တကၠသိုလ္ေက်ာင္းသား သမဂၢအေဆာက္အအုံ ျပန္လည္ေပၚေပါက္ေရး ယာယီေကာ္မတီ တရပ္ ကုိလည္း ဖြဲ႔စည္းခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။ ဒါ့အျပင္ ၁၉၈၈ ဂြ်န္ ေက်ာင္းသားလႈပ္ရွားမႈ ေငြရတုအခမ္းအနား ျဖစ္ေျမာက္ေရး ေကာ္မတီက အပုိဒ္ခြဲ ၁၀ ခုပါ သေဘာထား ေၾကျငာခ်က္ တစ္ေစာင္ကုိလည္း ထုတ္ျပန္ ခဲ့ပါေသးတယ္။

Suu Kyi’s Walk Down Memory Lane

Aung San Suu Kyi attends a discussion at the London School of Economics in central London on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)

Aung San Suu Kyi finally touched down on Tuesday in the country she used to call home—England, where she lived a normal homely life with her husband and two sons.

It is sure to be an emotional return for the Burmese pro-democracy heroine; perhaps a mixed bag of feelings for a woman who sacrificed so much for the land of her father.

In an interview with BBC World Service in London, Suu Kyi said, “I want to see old friends again, and to rediscover all the places where [I used to spend time].”

She expressed an inkling that the trip—her first to Britain in 24 years—might be laced with sadness.
Suu Kyi used to study at St Hugh’s College in Oxford where she received a B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics in 1969.

After she graduated, Suu Kyi went to live in New York with a family friend and worked with the UN for three years. She married Michael Aris, a British scholar in 1971 and gave birth to her eldest son, Alexander, the following year in London. Her younger son, Kim Aris, was born in 1977.

Suu Kyi also earned a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 1985.
After stints of living and working in United States, Japan and Bhutan, she settled down in England to raise their two children.

However, Suu Kyi returned to Rangoon in 1988 in order to nurse her sick mother, Daw Khin Kyi, at a time when instability reigned in Burma. After she was swept up in the pro-democracy movement she never again saw the cobbled streets of Oxford or the green pastures of southern England.

Her husband’s visit to Rangoon over Christmas in 1995 turned out to be the last time that he and Suu Kyi met.

In 1999, when Aris was diagnosed with cancer, he appealed to the Burmese government to grant him a visa to visit her wife for the last time, but they rejected his request.

Suu Kyi, at that time, was allowed to fly to England to meet her husband. However, she did not believe she would be permitted back into Burma and so she declined the opportunity.

She spent most of the next 20-odd years under house arrest in Rangoon, reading and listening to the radio.
Despite everything she has been through, Suu Kyi has never voiced regret for her agonizing decisions.
She told the BBC World Service: “I have never regretted it [staying under house arrest in Burma].” She said the decision was not hers alone, but was also partly down to her colleagues, but said that the results were “beginning to pay off.”

On Tuesday night, Suu Kyi will celebrate her 67th birthday party with hundreds of her supporters in Oxford.
“The world has become your home,” Bono said as he greeted Suu Kyi in Norway.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Highlights of Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech

Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her Nobel acceptance speech during a ceremony at Oslo's City Hall in June 16, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

OSLO, Norway — Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize speech explored her views on the ideals of peace, the seeds of war, the bonds of our common humanity, and the rare power of kindness. Here are the highlights.

“Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world.” Winning the Nobel Peace Prize “made me real once again. It had drawn me back into the wider human community. And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. We were not going to be forgotten.”

“The First World War represented a terrifying waste of youth and potential, a cruel squandering of the positive forces of our planet. … And for what? Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer. Are we not still guilty, if to a less violent degree, of recklessness, of improvidence with regard to our future and our humanity? War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.

“We are fortunate to be living in an age when social welfare and humanitarian assistance are recognized not only as desirable but necessary. I am fortunate to be living in an age when the fate of prisoners of conscience anywhere has become the concern of peoples everywhere, an age when democracy and human rights are widely, even if not universally, accepted as the birthright of all.”

“Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveler in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation. Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth, because perfect peace is not of this earth, common endeavors to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.”

“Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.”

“Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to live in peace. Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.”

Suu Kyi Asks Burma Exiles to Unite

Aung San Suu Kyi takes part in a question and answer session in Bergen, Norway. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)
Aung San Suu Kyi takes part in a question and answer session in Bergen, Norway. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)
OSLO, Norway—Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi paid a jubilant visit to the Norwegian city of Bergen on Sunday, where she urged refugees from her ethnically divided homeland to build harmony and support ceasefires.

Suu Kyi flew from Oslo to the fjord-studded west coast a day after delivering her acceptance speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. As in Oslo, thousands filled a central Bergen Square to hear a concert and speeches in her honor. Teenage Burmese girls, many in native gowns or robes, kissed her on the cheek.
She met leaders of a Bergen-based group that offered her early support, the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, which awarded her its highest prize in 1990. As with her Nobel, she couldn’t personally claim her prize at the time because Burma’s dictatorship had placed her under house arrest.

“Whenever I go anywhere I say to the Burmese people to stay united,” said Suu Kyi. “Here there is a small community where Burmese people live but there can even be problems here. We need to show how we have unity even in a small community so other people in the majority in the country will give us respect.

“I want to ask you all to cooperate with each other working for peace. Do not enflame sensitive situations. Burmese people may be a minority here so now we know how it feels to be a minority, which is a good thing.”
Suu Kyi joked that it was very cold in Norway but after meeting the foundation members she now felt warm again.
“Bergen is a faraway place but still gives security to all people even if they are not citizens,” she said. “So why cannot our government provide security for our people at home? We need to look into this.”
At another meeting in a hotel ballroom Suu Kyi, 66, spoke at length in Burmese to more than 100 Burmese exiles living in Bergen, many of them members of minority groups hostile to the country’s military-backed government. She urged them to say nothing to undermine tentative ceasefires negotiated since 2010 between government and ethnic militia forces.

Highlighting the clashes this month in western Burma between majority Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims that drove an estimated 30,000 Muslims from their homes, she said Burma’s exiles abroad could play a greater role in healing divisions. She urged them not to blame other groups for the violence, insisting all factions were culpable, and asked them to offer greater vocal support for the ceasefires.

On Monday, Suu Kyi will speak at an annual Oslo retreat for some of the world’s leading peace mediators, then travel to the Irish capital, Dublin, for evening celebrations in her honor. She’s scheduled to appear alongside U2 singer Bono, her most high-profile Irish backer, at both the Oslo and Dublin events.

Burma’s rulers first imprisoned Suu Kyi in 1989, the year before her National League for Democracy swept to victory in national elections. The government annulled that result and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the next 21 years, freeing her in 2010 following the country’s first elections in two decades.
Suu Kyi’s party boycotted that election but has pursued reconciliation with the military-backed government of President Thein Sein formed as a result of that vote. Last month Suu Kyi led her party into Burma’s national assembly as the main opposition for the first time.

She launched her European tour after receiving assurances from the government that she could travel freely without risk of being blocked from returning home, her longstanding fear. She has already visited Switzerland and, after Ireland, will spend several days in England, then finish in France.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Impact of human rights in less developed countries

Bangladesh Turns Away 1,500 Refugees from Burma

Rohingya Muslims on a boat cross the river Naf, from Burma into Bangladesh, in Teknaf on June 11, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh refused three big boats carrying about 1,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Burma as they approached land Tuesday, after 500 refugees were turned back in recent days, officials said.

“They have been chased away,” police official Jahangir Alam said by phone on Saint Martins Island, a Bay of Bengal isle the boats approached. “We are keeping our eyes open so that nobody can enter Bangladesh illegally.”

Afterward, administrators arranged announcements by loudspeakers for islanders to be vigilant to prevent Rohingya Muslims from entering Bangladesh, said Nurul Amin, a local government official in the island.
Bangladesh said earlier it sent back 11 boats over the past three days packed with about 500 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma. Local authorities in Bangladesh’s border districts have been asked to remain alert and increase vigilance.

A Foreign Ministry statement said the neighboring countries are maintaining close contacts to ensure that developments in Burma’s Arakan State do not have any “transboundary spillover”.
Violence between Buddhists and minority Muslims have left at least 12 people dead and burned down hundreds of homes since Friday.

The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates 800,000 Rohingya live in Arakan State. Burma considers them illegal immigrants, effectively rendering them stateless. Rights groups say they face extortion, land confiscation, forced evictions, and other human rights abuses, and thousands attempt to flee Burma annually.
Bangladesh says Rohingya have been living in Burma for centuries and Burma should recognize them as citizens.

In the 1990s, about 250,000 Rohyngya Muslims fled to Bangladesh in the face of alleged persecution by the military junta.

Later, Burma took back most of them, leaving some 28,000 in two camps run by the government and the United Nations.

Bangladesh has been unsuccessfully negotiating with Burma for years to send them back and, in the meantime, tens of thousands of others have entered Bangladesh illegally in recent years.


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Kachin conflict continues one year on

Laiza – A gathering of worshippers is singing in a white-brick church in the town of Laiza in Kachin State near Burma’s border with China, but it is not a day of celebration.

Troops of the Kachin Independence Organization Photo: KNG
Troops of the Kachin Independence Organization Photo: KNG
They are commemorating those who have died since fighting broke out on 9 June 2011, when a 17-year cease-fire between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), who have been fighting for greater autonomy for the past six decades, collapsed.

Sporadic attacks have continued over the last 12 months and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen, aid workers say.

"I started running for my life when I was sixteen years old," said Seng Jatdu, 64, leader of the sprawling Je Yang camp, tacking a photo of a dead soldier onto a wooden board covered with pictures of burnt homes, dead soldiers and displaced civilians.

He fled attacks in his home area after a coup in 1962, which marked the beginning of political dominance by Myanmar's military. "It is important to document the atrocities of the Burmese army, and it serves as a memorial for historical purposes," he said.

More than 6,500 civilians now live in makeshift bamboo huts in Je Yang, one of the state's largest IDP camps, getting by on basic rations supplied by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, and an umbrella network of local donor and community groups.

A letter addressed to Myanmar President Thein Sein on 5 June, endorsed by over 50 civil society groups, said human rights violations committed by soldiers against civilians are commonplace.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said both sides of the conflict were responsible for serious abuses, including using child soldiers and antipersonnel landmines on civilians.

UN figures put the total number of IDPs in Kachin State at over 62,000, including 24,000 in government-controlled areas, and close to 40,000 in KIA-controlled areas. Another more than 7,000 displaced people are estimated to have fled across the border into China.

KIO officials quote slightly higher figures, but it is difficult to determine the exact numbers as many IDPs are staying with relatives or are in unofficial camps in Kachin State.

Aid workers say transporting and putting in place adequate relief supplies are a major source of concern. Assistance for the displaced in government-controlled areas is more regular, but remains in short supply to those in KIA-controlled areas. Only a handful of local cross-line Burmese NGOs and community-based groups manage to work on both sides of the conflict.

We received two truckloads of supplies from UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] in December [2011], but there were only 300 family kits [consisting of a mosquito net, kitchen utensils, a blanket and a tarpaulin], so we had to split up the items and most of the families went without any extra aid," said Seng Jatdu.

At the camp's nearby medical centre, head doctor Sau Myaw, a paediatric specialist recently transferred from the main hospital in Laiza, is treating an elderly man, while her co-workers prescribe medicine for another queue of people. "We have 12 medical staff at our clinic but we are very busy, getting 50 or 60 patients a day. Right now we are facing a shortage of medicines, and a lot of older people are getting sick because of the adverse conditions here."

The education of thousands of displaced children is another casualty of the year of renewed conflict. A bamboo-framed school built in 2011 was torn apart by a tropical storm in March 2012, leaving children without classrooms or other facilities, and removing an important focal point in their already disrupted lives.

A new brick school is being constructed, with the hope that the children will soon be enrolled. The local government in Laiza has announced that all families in KIO-controlled areas are now exempt from school fees.

There are just 40 teachers for about 1,700 students at the camp. Assistant head teacher Mi Tung Roi Jay, 27, fled her village of Gan Dawn Yang in July 2011, when she heard heavy artillery shelling in a neighbouring village.

"Last October [2011], during the school break, I went back to my village but all the cows and pigs that we had been caring for were gone." She hopes a cease-fire will be reached soon, but like her parents who fled government attacks in the 1980s, Mi Tung Roi Jay has a deep-rooted mistrust of the Tatmadaw, or Burmese military.

South of Laiza, near Mai Ja Yang, another town on Myanmar's border with China, there are more than 13,000 displaced civilians in four camps where supplies are also running low, according to Wun Pawng Ninghtoi (WPN) - "Light of Kachin" - a volunteer group comprising eight local NGOs and charity groups.

Access to international aid is slow and only a small number of UN convoys have been allowed access to the region since March 2012.

"At the moment we have more than 40 volunteers working hard to aid the IDPs, and our biggest concern right now is food supplies," Hkaw Lwi of WPN told IRIN. The group is also in urgent need of mosquito nets. "We are very worried that there will be many cases of malaria with the oncoming rainy season."

Military operations by both sides have continued despite a call by Myanmar's reform-minded president Thein Sein that the army should cease attacks on the KIA, and only fire in self-defence.

Protect Muslim, Buddhist communities at risk: HRW

The government of Burma should take all necessary steps to protect communities at risk in Arakan (Rakhine) State after violence between Buddhists and Muslims in western Burma has left an unknown number dead, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
Rakhine residents and monks demonstrate at Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon on Saturday, June 9, 2012, calling for justice in Rakhine State following the murder of Rakhine citizens by Buddhist mobs over the weekend. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo / Mizzima
Rakhine residents and monks demonstrate at Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon on Saturday, June 9, 2012, calling for justice in Rakhine State following the murder of Rakhine citizens by Buddhist mobs over the weekend. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo / Mizzima

“The government has taken inadequate steps to stop sectarian-violence between Arakan Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims, or to bring those responsible to justice,” it said.

Human Rights Watch urged the government to permit prompt access to international journalists, aid workers, and diplomats.

“Deadly violence in Arakan State is spiraling out of control under the government’s watch,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Opening the area to independent international observers would put all sides on notice that they were being closely watched.”

Brutal violence in Arakan State in western Burma erupted on June 3, 2012, when an estimated 300 Arakan Buddhists attacked a bus of traveling Muslims, killing 10 passengers. The angry mob was reacting to information that an Arakan girl was allegedly raped and murdered in late May by three Rohingya suspects.

At the time of the attack, the suspects were reportedly in police custody, said HRW. Clashes have intensified since, spreading to the state’s largest town, Sittwe, with Rohingya mobs burning Arakan homes and businesses, and the army opening fire and allegedly killing Rohingyas. Mobs of Rohingya and Arakanese, armed with sticks and swords, have reportedly committed violence that resulted in numerous deaths.

On June 7, the Burmese government announced an investigation into the violence. As clashes worsened, on June 10, President Thein Sein issued a state of emergency in the area, ceding complete authority to the Burmese army.

For decades, the Rohingya have routinely suffered abuses by the Burmese army, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, land confiscation, and restricted freedom of movement. Arakan people have also faced human rights violations by the army. Using the army to restore order risks arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and torture, Human Rights Watch said.

“Given the Burmese army’s brutal record of abuses in Arakan State, putting the military in charge of law enforcement could make matters worse,” Pearson said. “The government needs to be protecting threatened communities, but without any international presence there, there’s a real fear that won’t happen.”

Where security permits, international agencies such as the United Nations  High Commissioner for Refugees should maintain an on-the-ground presence in Arakan State to provide assistance and protection as possible, it said.


For decades the Rohingya have borne the brunt of the earlier military government’s brutal state-building policies. The Rohingya have been formally denied citizenship and were excluded from the last census in 1983.

They are widely regarded within Burma as “Bengalis” – people of Bangladesh nationality. Since the 1960s there have been multiple campaigns led by the Burmese authorities to expel the Rohingya from Burma, resulting in a litany of human rights violations. There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya in Burma, and about 200,000 live in Bangladesh, of which 30,000 live in squalid refugee camps.

“The Burmese government’s policies of exclusion have fostered resentment against the Rohingya,” said Pearson. “Longer-term, the government should be thinking about how to address the years of discrimination and neglect that the Rohingya have faced, provide some mechanism for accountability, and ensure the rights of Rohingya equally with other Burmese.”

The ongoing violence in Arakan State shows that despite the democratic progress of recent months, there are still formidable challenges for human rights in Burma, HRW said. Many areas populated by ethnic minorities have seen few benefits from the reform process. International journalists and aid workers still face restricted access to large parts of the country.

Influential governments such as the U.S., Japan, Australia, and members of the European Union should continue to press for full civilian control over the military and building the rule of law, instead of giving up all its leverage at a moment when the reform process has barely begun.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Australia Pledges $80m for Burmese Education

Youngsters in remote Shan State kick a water bottle around a barren classroom. (Photo: Steve Tickner) 

Youngsters in remote Shan State kick a water bottle around a barren classroom. (Photo: Steve Tickner)

Australia is set to become Burma’s largest donor toward education following the unveiling of a new US $80 million aid package.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who visited Burma for the first time last week, announced the four-year scheme in the wake of tentative democratic reforms by President Thein Sein’s nominally-civilian government.

“Less than half of children who attend primary school in Myanmar complete the full five grades,” said Carr. “That means this generation of children in Myanmar may become the first in the country’s history with a lower level of education than their parents.

“Australia is determined to try and prevent this from happening. Education is the flagship of our aid program in Myanmar.”

The package will be delivered through Canberra’s official aid agency AusAID and aims to provide training for more teachers, boost children’s attendance levels and also target nutrition throughout the primary school system.

There will additionally be a substantial increase in scholarships available for Burmese students to gain access to Australian higher educational facilities—from 20 positions next year to 50 by the year 2015.
“Australia will also reach out to the most remote and underdeveloped regions of the country through Buddhist and community schools,” added Carr. “In some of these schools less than half of teachers are properly trained.”

The scheme aims to provide more than one million children with better access to education through the provision of textbooks, teacher training and food aid to schools in the most remote areas of Burma, as well as improvements to water and sanitation for existing schools.

Take-home meals will also be provided for up to 1.3 million children in an effort to raise nutrition levels, improve the health of young people generally and double enrolment levels.

However, observers have questioned how much of this aid will practically be able to reach the vast and tumultuous ethnic minority areas of Burma. Border regions currently suffer from a dearth of educational assistance from either the Burmese government or outside agencies, with schools struggling from an almost complete lack of resources—both in terms of basic food and water as well as educational materials.
Australia has already eased trade sanctions against military-dominated Burma following Naypyidaw embarking on an ambitious program of reform including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi being elected to Parliament.


Friday, 8 June 2012

Buddhists knifed in religious clash

Religious unrest: Officials have declared a curfew in western Burma, where protests by religious groups have turned violent. Picture: AFP AFP

FOUR people were killed yesterday in religious clashes in western Burma, where tension continues to climb.

Police opened fire and the authorities declared a curfew to tackle the escalating unrest, officials said.
The latest victims are believed to have been killed by angry Muslims who torched Buddhist villages in Rakhine state along the Bay of Bengal.
"They were attacked with knives. A 65-year-old man was killed on the spot. The other three died in hospital as they were seriously injured. Those who were killed are Buddhists," a government official who did not want to be named said.
State television announced late yesterday a night-time curfew in the unrest-hit areas, home to large numbers of Rohingya, a Muslim group described by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
Tensions have flared in Rakhine since 10 Muslims on a bus were killed by an angry Buddhist mob on Sunday who believed mistakenly that the perpetrators of the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman were onboard.
Earlier yesterday a different official said police in Rakhine had opened fire in an attempt to quell religious tensions in a town dominated by the stateless Rohingya.
"Police opened fire in Maungdaw in Rakhine state. There are no casualties," the official said.
Religious clashes occur periodically in Burma, and Rakhine state - which has a large Muslim minority population - is a flashpoint for tensions.
Buddhists make up about 89 per cent of the population of Burma, with Muslims officially representing four per cent.
The violence threatens to overshadow reconciliation efforts since a series of dramatic political reforms following the end of almost half a century of military rule last year.
One of the officials said police were deployed in Maungdaw yesterday after about 300 people returning from mosques threw stones at a government office, police station and local businesses.
Police were also deployed in more than a dozen Buddhist Rakhine villages as houses were set on fire.
The authorities this week warned against "anarchic acts" after the mob killings and an attack on a police station by an angry crowd in Sittwe.
In Burma's main city Yangon, dozens of Muslims protested on Tuesday calling for justice over the recent killings.
In neighbouring Bangladesh, which also has a large Rohingya population, officials said the Border Guard on Wednesday arrested one Rohingya man on charges of carrying illegal arms as he tried to cross into Burma.
Local police chief Supon Mojumder said that Sirajul Islam, aged around 30, was found in possession of a locally made gun and seven rounds of bullets.
"The dismantled gun was found in a bag in his possession," he said, adding that Islam lived in an unregistered refugee camp.
In a rare public response to civil unrest, the Burma government said on Thursday it had established a committee to investigate the sectarian strife and expected to hear its findings by the end of June.
With fears of further violence growing, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday urged the nation's Buddhist population to show "sympathy" with minorities following the Rakhine killings.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Canadian MPs call for an independent international mechanism to investigate grave abuses in Kachin war 


Canadian MPs from all parties on the International Human Rights Sub-Committee held a news conference on Friday, June 1, 2012.

The subject of the news conference is the continuing widespread persecution of ethnic nationalities and religious minorities in Burma by the military regime, despite recent modest democratic reforms that have seen Aung Sang Suu Syi take a seat in Burma’s Parliament. Canada MPs said they want to draw the world’s attention to the atrocious and unacceptable human sufferings that is happening in Kachin State, Burma.

Members of the Commons sub-committee on International Human Rights who attended include Russ Hiebert, MP, David Sweet, MP, Wayne Marston, MP, and Irwin Cotler, MP.

Russ Hiebert, a conservative member of parliament, said that while they are pleased with the modest improvements that have been made by Burmese military dictatorship in allowing of democratic freedom in Burma including allowing some opposition leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi to take seat in the Burmese parliament, things are not so good for the people of mountain states of Burma. He said, there are two millions people of Kachin State who were denied the rights to participate in recent by-election. Aung San Suu Kyi said in a speech she gave in Bangkok warning the world against “reckless optimism” over the reforms that are happening in Burma stating that they are not irreversible, said Russ.

Wayne Marston, MP for Hamilton East -Stoney Creek, said that concern governments should support an independent investigative mechanism to investigate abuses of all sides as they should in any conflict. He stressed that pressure should be sustained on the Burmese government to ensure that Burmese military is actually brought in to line following the direction of Burmese government.

Irwin Cotler, MP for Mount Royal, urged international communities the need to sound alarm for “untold horrors” that is happening in Kachin State. Cotler said though Kachin atrocities are parallel to what is happening in Syria, there is little mentioned of it in international media. He continued to call for international communities to act, considering grave human rights deteriorations. Cotler said Burmese government has to ensure that those who are engaged in massive violations of international humanitarian laws have to be held accountable and brought to justice.

Dr. James Humphries, director of discipleship international, asked for international media to start recording and publishing what is actually taking place outside of the Burma’s capital city. He said, “Citizens of the World, Do you have to wait or gain until there are numerous mass graves before we will take some types of actions?”

In a letter signed by chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, KIO requested the UN Secretary General to send observer teams or intermediary teams to the conflict war zones, and to the towns and villages destroyed by the Burmese Army, and to the IDP camps in KIO areas. Fighting has intensified as there is a surge of Burmese troop deployment in areas close to Kachin administrative capital Laiza.

Since the war broke out in June 2011, the number of refugees who fled from their homes has been rapidly increasing, there are now over 75,000 refugees in different parts of the Kachin State, the Shan State, and along the Sino-Burmese border. About 50,000 refugees are currently living in KIO’s administrative areas. Since the beginning, the refugees under the KIO’s administrative area have been assisted by the KIO, the Kachins from abroad, inside Burma and China, and some well-wishers. UN’s aid trucks have reached to KIO’s areas for a few times this year but UN’s continued access to the KIO’s areas to deliver aids have been delayed by the Burmese government citing “security concerns”.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ တာခ်ီလိတ္ ဥပေဒပညာရွင္ေတြနဲ႔ ေဆြးေႏြး

ေျပာင္းလဲလာတဲ့ ေခတ္စနစ္နဲ႔အညီ၊ က်င့္ဝတ္က်င့္စဥ္နဲ႔ ညီညြတ္တဲ့ တရားစီရင္ေရး မ႑ဳိင္တရပ္ ေပၚေပါက္လာဖို႔အတြက္ ၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ ေက်ာင္းသားေခါင္းေဆာင္ေတြနဲ႔ ဥပေဒပညာရွင္ေတြ ဒီကေန႔ ေဆြးေႏြးခဲ့ၾကတယ္လုိ႔ သိရပါတယ္။

၂၀၁၂ ခုႏွစ္ ဇြန္လ ၅ ရက္က ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးနဲ႔ ပြင့္လင္းလူ႔အဖြဲ႔အစည္း ေဖာ္ေဆာင္ေရး ခရီးစဥ္အျဖစ္ တာခ်ီလိတ္ၿမိဳ႕၌ ေရာက္ရိွေနေသာ ၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ ေက်ာင္းသား ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားကို ေဒသခံမ်ားက ၾကိဳဆိုေနၾကစဥ္။

ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးနဲ႔ ပြင့္လင္းလူ႔အဖြဲ႔အစည္း ေဖာ္ေဆာင္ေရး ခရီးစဥ္အျဖစ္ တာခ်ီလိတ္ၿမိဳ႕ကို ေရာက္ေနတဲ့ ၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ ေက်ာင္းသား ေခါင္းေဆာင္ေတြနဲ႔ ၿမိဳ႕ခံ ေရွ႕ေနတခ်ိဳ႕ ဒီကေန႔မနက္ ေတြ႔ဆံုစဥ္မွာ အခုလိုေဆြးေႏြးခဲ့ၾကတာလို႔ ကိုျပံဳးခ်ိဳက ေျပာပါတယ္။

၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ ေက်ာင္းသားမ်ားအဖြဲ႔ဟာ တာခ်ီလိတ္ၿမိဳ႕ခံ ေရွ႕ေနေတြအျပင္ ပရဟိတ အသင္းအဖဲြ႔ေတြ၊ တုိင္းရင္းသား အဖဲြ႔အစည္းေတြနဲ႔လည္း ေတြ႔ဆံုခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။

ကိုမင္းကိုႏုိင္၊ ကိုဂ်င္မီ၊ ကိုျပံဳးခ်ိဳ အပါအဝင္ ၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ ေက်ာင္းသားမ်ားအဖြဲ႔ဟာ ဒီကေန႔ ညေနပိုင္းမွာ တာခ်ီလိတ္ၿမိဳ႕ခံေတြနဲ႔ ေတြ႔ဆံုၿပီးေနာက္ ေဟာေျပာပြဲတရပ္ က်င္းပခဲ့ၿပီး လူထုနဲ႔ အျပန္အလွန္ ေဆြးေႏြးခဲ့ၾကတယ္လို႔လည္း သိရပါတယ္။

Friday, 1 June 2012

Suu Kyi Says Burma Reforms Depend on Army

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok. (Photo: Reuters)
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok. (Photo: Reuters)

BANGKOK—Aung San Suu Kyi told world leaders and investors in Bangkok on Friday morning that continued reforms in Burma will “depend on how committed the military is to the process.”

“I recognize that the president is not the only man in government,” she said, reiterating her trust in President Thein Sein’s commitment to political change in Burma. Nonetheless, she cautioned that “I cannot say we have achieved all the basics of a democratic society.”

For the most part, Suu Kyi’s address to the World Economic Forum (WEF)—a gathering of international business executives, officials, NGOs and government officials—focused on economic issues. In an acknowledgement of the then military government’s controversial name-change from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, Suu Kyi told the WEF that she was in Bangkok to talk about the future of “a place some of us call Burma, some of us call Myanmar.”

The 66-year-old appealed to potential investors in the audience not to focus solely on profit-making in Burma. “We do not want investment to mean greater corruption and greater inequality,” she said, asking financiers not to “think too much about how investment will benefit you.”

Suu Kyi said that Burma needs practical education and job-creation as a first priority, given widespread poverty and unemployment. “Without empowerment of people there is no point talking about democracy,” she said. “We need the kind of education that enables our people to earn a basic living.”
Stressing the need to create a viable labor market in Burma and to offset mass youth unemployment, which she described as “a timebomb,” Suu Kyi said, “we need vocational training and non-formal education as a priority.”

The recently-elected parliamentarian and leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) is in Thailand to meet Burmese migrant workers and refugees as well as to address the WEF. It is her first foreign trip in 24 years since she returned to Burma in 1988 to tend to her sick mother, then suddenly becoming leader of the country’s resistance to the junta. That crusade saw her win a 1990 election but spend 15 years in various forms of detention under Burma’s military rulers.

Despite transition to a nominally-civilian government in 2011, that military remains the most powerful force in a changing Burma. Asked by The Irrawaddy about her hopes for amending the country’s Constitution, which gives the army sway over civilian institutions in many areas, Suu Kyi said that change will be difficult to achieve and remains a long-term project.

“We need more than 75 percent of Parliament to vote for change,” she reminded. “Twenty-five percent of the Parliament is reserved for the army, so we need at least one soldier to vote for change, as well as the remaining 75 percent.”

The NLD leader said there needs to be “national commitment” from all sectors of Burma’s society. “This will help us achieve the national reconciliation that is so important,” she added.

Suu Kyi said that ethnic political parties were the strongest supporters of the NLD during the long years of her house arrest, and cited this as proof that “we can build trust together,” referring to relations between the majority Burmans, of which Suu Kyi is one, and the 130-plus ethnic minorities that make up around 30-40 percent of the country’s population.

Larger groups, such as the Shan, Karen, Mon and Kachin, have fought with the government army throughout the post-independence era and conflict is ongoing in Kachin State near the Sino-Burmese border.

Asked by The Irrawaddy about what legislation the NLD would push in Burma’s Parliament, after the party’s April 1 by-election landslide, Suu Kyi said that existing laws would first need overhauling, before the party would push new codes.

“We could end up with too many new laws too quickly,” she replied. “It might be difficult to digest a rush of new laws.”
“For example the licensing laws in various sectors could be changed,” she said, mentioning telecommunications, where existing regulations mean that most ordinary Burmese, who live on around US $1-2 per day, cannot afford a mobile phone.

The 1991 Nobel peace laureate has so far stolen the show at the WEF, with visiting diplomats and executives jostling to take her photo or be snapped alongside her. Suu Kyi addressed the WEF for 15 minutes, before fielding questions from forum head Klaus Schwab. She then held a 30-minute press conference in an upstairs room in Bangkok’s marble and chandelier-laden Shangri-La hotel, the conference venue.

Suu Kyi met with Burmese migrant workers in the Thai fishing port hub of Mahachai on Wednesday and Thursday, either side of a meeting with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung where she raised the rights of Burma’s 2-3 million migrant workers in Thailand.

Suu Kyi will fly to the Thailand-Burma border on Saturday to visit the largest of the nine refugee camps hosting 140,000 Burmese war-displaced civilians along the frontier, at Mae La, and will visit Ireland, Norway, Switzerland and the UK later in June.

Speech of General Aung San