Friday, 21 August 2015

Please join the deomonstration calling for release of all students detainees, farmers activists , worker activists and all political prisoner in Burma.

Tuesday 1st September 2015

Please join the deomonstration calling for release of all students detainees, farmers activists , worker activists and all political prisoner in Burma.

Time: 12:00 -13:00
Venue: Outside Burma/Myanmar Embassy 19A Charles Street London W1J 5DX,
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The return of Swan Arr Shin, the govt’s enforcers

6th August 2015
The Swan Arr Shin—which means “Masters of Force” in Burmese—had not been seen since the army installed a nominally civilian
government in 2011, while the USDA became the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in 2010.
But in March, the plain-clothes thugs appeared again. The despised vigilantes reemerged during crackdowns on a student protest and a
labor strike in Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city.
An investigation by Myanmar Now has uncovered how local authorities have recruited the men from impoverished areas and used them
during the clampdowns.
On 5 March, authorities in Rangoon deployed dozens of men in plain clothes to help police carry out a high-profile crackdown on an
education reform protest in downtown Rangoon. A day earlier, a garment factory protest in the city’s Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone
was also quashed by police and plain-clothes men wearing red armbands with the word “duty”
Soe, an ex-convict who requested not to use his full name for fear of reprisal, was one of them. He remembered how a person at the
administrative office issued catapults and sharp iron spikes about eight inches long to the men, though in photos of the crackdown
the militiamen were only armed with bamboo clubs.
“Many people with criminal backgrounds like me had to go if we were sent for by the ward officials. If we don’t obey them they can
cause us trouble because of our background,” he said.
They were then driven in two buses to Rangoon City Hall where a small student demonstration was underway. It called on the
government not to resort to violence in the handling of an ongoing student march from Mandalay to Rangoon....


To End Sexual Violence, British Government Can’t Avoid Elephant in the Room

By ZOYA PHAN | August 3, 2015
Last week the British government arranged for Angelina Jolie to visit Burma, in part in her capacity as co-founder of the Preventing
Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI)...
When it launched the PSVI in 2012, the British government faced a real problem with Burma. Reports of sexual violence were
increasing as a result of the military breaking ceasefires in Kachin and Shan States.

This is exactly the kind of situation that the PSVI was set up to take action on, but while these reports were emerging, the British
government was embracing the Burmese government and country’s reform process. They were praising President Thein Sein, supporting
the end of international sanctions and shifting their priorities from human rights to trade.

The British attempted to reconcile these contradictory positions by excluding Burma from the PSVI. After pressure from activists and
the British Parliament, the government reluctantly included Burma in the initiative, and had to be further pressed to fund survivor
and women’s organizations documenting sexual violence by the military.

Whether these funding commitments actually benefit survivors of military sexual violence is highly debatable. For instance, the
government pointed to a legal project in Thai refugee camps to help survivors of sexual violence, but admitted after further
questioning that the program was targeted to victims of domestic and other forms of violence, rather than tailored to the unique
needs of victims of sexual violence in conflict.
If the British government is serious about meeting this aim, it must stop avoiding the fact that most sexual violence in conflict is
being committed by the Burma Armed Forces. Instead, it refuses to support proposals to establish a UN Inquiry into sexual violence
in conflict within Burma. In an attempt to rebuff criticism, they say that UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee has a mandate to report
on sexual violence cases, but the truth is that she has no resources to conduct detailed investigations into these cases, and the
British government does not provide her funds to do so.

When the British government offered to provide free training to the military—to the tune of $400,000 in funding—they set no
preconditions before providing the training, such as ending the culture of impunity around sexual violence. The British government
claimed that the training was about human rights, and then attempted to withhold details of the training from Burma Campaign UK.
These details revealed that in the course of a sixty-hour training program, just one hour was dedicated to human rights.

Suu Kyi's party shuns key players for Myanmar poll

2 Aug 2015
The party of Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected bids by 17 members of Myanmar's respected "88 generation" to join its ranks and contest
November's election, a controversial omission of a group that was expected to galvanise its bid to dominate the ballot.
...The most high-profile exclusion was the charismatic protest leader Ko Ko Gyi, who spent more than 17 years in and out of prison
before his 2012 release. He declined to comment.
Pyone Cho was the sole member of the group selected to represent the party in the ballot. The NLD received 3,000 applications and
will field 1,090 candidates.
The NLD's candidate list does include several intellectuals and activists, including free speech advocate Nay Phone Latt and Susanna
Hla Hla Soe, who heads a female empowerment group.


Human Rights Defenders Continue to Suffer in Burma

1st Aug 2015
A new report, jointly released by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners and Burma Partnership, documents the
challenges faced by human rights defenders across the country. Based on 75 interviews, ‘How to Defend the Defenders?’ is a sad
reminder of the climate of fear among those working on human rights and social justice.
In Burma, as promises of reform have stagnated, the state apparatus is both directly and indirectly closing the space for defenders
to operate safely and without fear of reprisal.
Various legislative provisions are broadly applied to unjustly arrest and detain human rights defenders. In recent years, the Right
to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Processions Law has been widely used as a tool of repression and targeted activists nationwide.
While the law typically applies to mass protests, it has also been used to bring criminal charges against lone protesters. Myint
Khaing* was arrested last year in Mandalay for making an innocuous call for national unity, and charged under Article 18 of the
Assembly Law, a provision that requires prior permission for all acts of ‘assembly.’ He was the sole person present at the site of
the alleged protest.
Both the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights firmly protect the right
to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Both also protect fair trial rights and due process in the judiciary.
As one human rights lawyer interviewed in the report noted: “Only 0.01% of cases are free. The whole judicial system is under the
control of the Government. The recent events at the Letpadan court indicate that there is no rule of law. Students were summoned at
night instead of during official working hours… .people don’t receive any protection from the laws, and the judges ignore them in
When the judiciary is either directly or indirectly implicated in persecuting human rights defenders for the legitimate exercise of
fundamental rights, it will never provide those safeguards necessitated by international law.
In recent months, the democratization process in Burma has been backsliding. In these last weeks alone, we have borne witness to a
state-sponsored campaign to crackdown on the very legitimate exercise of freedom of speech. The government has actively targeted
student rights defenders in repeated efforts to silence any perceived criticism of the ruling administration. With over 50 students
remaining in jail today on trumped up and politically motivated charges aimed at stifling any form of dissent, where is the
credibility in this so-called reform process? At what point will the rhetoric of reform begin to coincide with reality on the



31st July
Burma Campaign UK today welcomed the release of around 13 political prisoners as part of an amnesty given by President Thein Sein to
almost 7,000 prisoners. 11 of the political prisoners released were cases that Burma Campaign UK has been actively campaigning on.
However, releasing the prisoners in this way heralds a return to the way the previous military dictatorship released political
prisoners. It highlights how the Burmese government is no longer making any effort to end the jailing of political prisoners once
and for all.
However, with most sanctions lifted, having gained international acceptance, and with trade flowing, pressure for the release of all
political prisoners was relaxed. President Thein Sein broke his promise to release all political prisoners by the end of 2013. Since
then the number of political prisoners has steadily grown, now numbering at least 160. Well over a thousand activists and farmers
are currently awaiting trial.

“Rather than any comprehensive effort to ensure there are no political prisoners, we are now back to waiting for the annual
prisoners amnesty and hoping a few political prisoners are included,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “It’s time
a new political prisoner committee is established which can independently review cases and ensure all political prisoners are

In April 2015, twenty-three human rights organisations from around the world published proposals for a new committee to address the
issue of political prisoners in Burma.

Another Sordid Chapter in the History of Karen Factional Conflict

This month, Karen armed groups have been engaged in almost daily skirmishes, resulting in several casualties, following the decision
by the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) to sack military leaders San Aung and Kyaw Thet, who reportedly control some 500
troops between them.
A source on the ground said that the Burmese government wanted the pair sidelined because of their control of unlawful toll points
along the newly built Asia Highway 1, which connects Thailand’s border town of Mae Sot to Burma’s commercial capital, Rangoon. A
total of three Karen armed groups levy fees on the highway, with many trucks now avoiding the route to escape an impost that can
amount to 100,000 kyats [US$83] for the journey between Myawaddy and Kawkareik.
Questions linger as to why DKBA chief Saw Lah Pwe failed to protect the two men. San Aung and Kyaw Thet have both earned their
stripes for the Karen cause, taking a major role in 2010’s election day fighting in Myawaddy against the Burma Armed Forces against
a backdrop of alleged vote tampering and election fraud in the town.
Sources close to the DKBA say that the outfit’s ailing chief, who is battling throat cancer, received 5 million kyats ($4170) from
Saw Chit Thu for medical treatment in Singapore during a visit to Rangoon. The decision to cut San Aung and Kyaw Thet loose is
believed to be the result of a quid pro quo.
San Aung and Kyaw Thet are now being aggressively hunted by a joint force of the DKBA, the Border Guard Force and Brigade 6 of the
Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).
Whatever the provenance of the fighting, and whatever the government’s role in stoking the flames, to outsiders the latest conflict
will be seen as nothing more than another sorry battle in a long line of Karen factional feuds.
While KNU president Mutu Say Poe supports the efforts towards brokering a nationwide ceasefire agreement, his deputy Naw Zipporah
Sein has publicly stated her doubts. It is noteworthy that Zipporah Sein was recently selected to represent the political wing of
the Karen armed struggle in future ceasefire negotiations.
On the sideline, the government waits with a soft voice and a big stick, ready to take advantage the next time divisions boil over.
Previous divisions splintered the Karen resistance into five armed groups, leading to pitched battles and assassination campaigns
waged against rival leaderships. On every occasion, the government has shrewdly capitalized and the military has consolidated its
hold over Karen territory.
Those on the ground fear that once San Aung and Kyaw Thet’s forces are wiped out, the next move will be on KNLA Brigade 5 in
northern Karen state, led by Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Baw Kyaw Heh. He controls the strongest contingent in the KNLA and has
doubts about the current peace program as a result of the military increasing its presence in his territory during ceasefire

Student activist Po Po released on bail

Student activist Yadana Su Po Khine, also known as Po Po, has been released on bail by a court in Rangoon.
The All Burma Federation of Student Unions’ member was detained in March, following a peaceful protest in Hledan in Rangoon, and has
since been incarcerated in Insein prison.
Robert San Aung, Po Po’s defence lawyer, said the Kamayut township court on 30 July granted her bail with a bond of five million
kyat (US$4,166).
“The court considered the fact that Po Po is a young woman and student, and granted her bail so her studies would not be
interrupted,” he told DVB on Thursday.
Speaking to DVB by phone shortly after her release, Po Po said, “I don’t see why I should be happy to be released since I never did
any wrong. Moreover, as our comrades remain behind bars, I somehow felt guilty to be the one who is out.
“We have a lot of work to do in the outside world and I am determined to continue our fight until our 11-point list of demands is

Karen football star wants to play for Burma

Aspiring Karen footballer Kler Heh, who recently signed a professional contract for English league team Sheffield United, has
pledged his sporting allegiance to Burma.
The 18-year-old soccer star was born in Umpiem refugee camp in Thailand. He moved to England with his family four years ago.
But the sought-after talent says he would play for Burma’s national team, if selected.
That’s good news for Burmese fans and the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF), because Kler Heh does not have Burmese nationality but
does hold a British passport.
Spokesperson Soe Moe said Kler Heh had responded on 30 July to an invitation by the MFF, in which he confirmed he would pull on
Burma’s white strip if given the call.
“I know that I am representing myself, my family, friends and everyone in Myanmar and Thailand,” Kler Heh said.
“I want to be a positive role model and a symbol of hope that there is life outside the refugee camps.”


Reward and ruin on the Salween River

One of the least developed countries in the region, only 16 percent of the Burmese population has electricity in their homes. In
last year’s census, questionnaires asked citizens which source of energy they mostly use for cooking. An astonishing 69 percent of
families answered that they still use firewood.
With the world shying away from coal, harnessing the Salween’s mighty power for electricity seems an obvious choice. Developers
scrambled to put forth ideas, and at the time of writing, there were no less than 28 hydropower dams in the planning process.
Once operational, the 241-metre tall dam is to generate more than 7,000 megawatts of electricity, of which 700 megawatts will be
used for local demand, with the remaining 90 percent of production earmarked for sale to Thailand and China.
However, as with most power plants, the Mong Ton dam is not without its drawbacks. The US$6 billion project is also expected to
flood around 676 square km of forest and farmland, putting more than 10,000 villages underwater and disrupting local fisheries.
“The reason why people are campaigning against the Mong Ton dam project is because it will not benefit our local communities, or the
country as a whole,” she said.
“On top of that, the social and environmental impacts will be irreversible – their loss simply cannot be measured in cash. It is not
worth it to get compensation and let these companies take our natural resources from us.”
These sentiments have been echoed, loudly and frequently, by non-governmental organisations across the country. On7 July, more than
120 environmental and community-based groups signed a letter of protest in support of the “Save the Salween” movement, citing
concerns such as ruined biodiversity and increased armed conflict should the project go ahead.
Their most pressing worry though, is how ethnic people living along the river will survive without their chief livelihoods,
agriculture and fishing. Many have no idea what they will do when their villages have been submerged by floodwaters.
In a statement released in late April, community group The People of Kunhing Township claim that the project will be “greatly
hazardous” to the township, one of 16 slated to be flooded by the mega-dam.
“Traditional customs, rich natural resources, and our thousand islands – all of these sacred sites and important things would be
destroyed,” they said.
“This will be greatly damaging to the lives of the people who have lived in this area for generations.”
In the face of such fierce public opposition, the Burmese, Thai and Chinese corporations involved have insisted that they have done
everything right.
Under intense public scrutiny, the corporations appointed Australian body the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) to
conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
At the first of the public consultation meetings conducted by SMEC on 10 March, villagers from Shan and Karen community groups took
the opportunity to protest what they believe to be simply a ‘rubber-stamping’ process by SMEC.
“I am amazed that you did the SIA and EIA in only two years,” exclaimed one young man protesting with environmental group Karen
River Watch.
“There are over 10,000 villages – how can you do it completely in just two years?”
Steve Thompson of the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) similarly has little faith in the assessment process.
“They have to make it look like they’re going through the normal processes, and make it look like this is a normal project. We are
talking about the biggest, most expensive, most lucrative projects in the world,” he said.
“It’s very complicated assessing the impacts of the dams; some may be small, some may be large, and some may not happen decades into
the future. For the companies and the government, it’s much easier to talk about the electricity supply, jobs, and the idea of
In early June, an ethnic coalition of 16 Shan community-based organisations issued a statement further condemning the SMEC process,
leveling accusations of bribery and alleging that the EIA/SIA teams were avoiding communities unhappy with the project.
“It is becoming apparent that SMEC’s EIA/SIA process is simply a sham, aimed to rubber-stamp the Mong Ton dam plans rather than
objectively assess the project’s actual impacts,” declared the coalition, which featured signatories such as the Shan Human Rights
Foundation and the Shan Women’s Action Network.
“The SMEC field surveyors had angered local villagers by only explaining the positive impacts of the dam, giving them ‘gifts’ which
they saw as bribes, and persuading them to sign documents they didn’t understand.”
The Australian company maintains that there has been no breach of the corporation’s anti-bribery and corruption policies, but so far
has not provided reasons as to why township public consultations in May were cancelled.
Of the project’s stakeholders, China Three Gorges Corporation, China Southern Power Grid, Sinohydro, the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand (International) and Burma’s International Group of Entrepreneurs Company, none responded to DVB’s enquires.

Hands of Hardship: Artist Htein Lin Spotlights Political Prisoners’ Travails

27th July
In the beginning, Htein Lin was not sure whether the public would have a chance to see his work, with the Burmese artist worried
about finding an exhibition space large enough to house the sprawling project.
Since 2013, he has been taking plaster casts of the forearms of Burma’s former political prisoners while documenting their hellish
experiences behind bars, and delving into how they managed to overcome interrogations and torture perpetrated by cadres of the
former military regime.
“If you break your arm, your bones heal thanks to the immobilization of the plaster, and the natural healing of your body. But it
takes time to heal, and during that time you are immobilized,” he said of the reason he chose plaster of Paris as a medium for the
The 49-year-old added that more than 3,000 political prisoners were similarly immobilized by the prison cells to which they
sacrificed years of their lives over the period from 1988 to 2012.
“Three-thousand is just a number. But the visual impact of over a thousand arms will remind the audience of just how many people
gave up their freedom of movement to try to fix Burma, which had been broken into pieces,” he said.
Over the last two years, Htein Lin has traveled across Burma and ventured abroad to visit hundreds of ex-political prisoners, to
date collecting more than 400 plastered forearms and their stories.
“Having a chance to listen to how they survived their suffering has been a significant experience for me. It made me more mature,”
he told The Irrawaddy recently.
Now, with his “Story Teller” multimedia art exhibition at Rangoon’s Goethe-Institut, Htein Lin is able to publicly share those
Accompanied by sculptures, installation art, paintings, video and audio, the nearly one month long show for which “A Show of Hands”
is one part will wrap up on Aug. 23. Separate exhibition booths tell some of the artist’s personal experiences, display artwork he
secretly created during his time in prison, as well as conveying the stories of his fellow political prisoners.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is “A Show of Hands,” the display of 405 plastered forearms of ex-political prisoners, accompanied
by pictures and videos of the plastering process that each participant underwent while recalling their experiences behind bars.
“I just want to leave stories for the next generation, to let them know that, ‘your grandparents and dads did this for your
country,’” the artist, who himself spent seven years as a political prisoner, said during the opening ceremony of the show last
Since Gen. Ne Win staged a coup in 1962, Burma has never had a shortage of political prisoners, but the ranks of prisoners of
conscience swelled dramatically after a failed democracy uprising in 1988 was followed by a nationwide crackdown on dissidents.
Those who were arrested often endured inhumane treatment, including extra-judicial killings, solitary confinement and torture, for
their political beliefs. Many of them were released in 2012 after the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein came to
power a year prior.
Ko Ko Gyi, a former political prisoner as well as a leader of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, said the assembled plaster casts
represented “a collection of hands that collectively tried to push the country forward with their lives.”
“Htein Lin, the artist cum former political prisoner, reflects Burmese politics with his art, because [he realizes] documentation is
important for a country,” Ko Ko Gyi told The Irrawaddy.
Htein Lin said his project was part art, part community engagement, explaining that while some hands were cast in private locations,
others were done in public spaces such as teashops or at Rangoon’s Inya Lake, often drawing the attention of a curious public.
“During the plastering process, on some occasions, people approached us with anxious looks and asked ‘Are you guys OK?’
“When I explained to them what we were doing and who my participants were, they showed admiration for the former political prisoners
I was working on. Some people even said: ‘Hold on. I have a friend who is an ex-political prisoner. Here is his number.’”
Ma Thida, a former political prisoner turned editor and president of the freedom of expression advocacy group PEN Myanmar, said “A
Show of Hands” offered a visual medium for exploring the country’s dark past, adding that “we need to have something that documents
what has happened.”
“It’s not about revenge,” she said. “It’s something that recognizes people who took part in the country’s democracy movement.”
And indeed, the exhibition is arguably as relevant to present day realities as it is to the recent history of Burma, where hundreds
of people still languish in jail serving prison terms or awaiting trial for offenses that political prisoner advocacy groups say
qualify them as prisoners of conscience.
Other exhibition highlights may be the paintings that Htein Lin secretly created on prison uniforms when he was in jail, and a piece
of installation art featuring a map of Burmese made up of soap bars of the same brand as that issued to inmates by prison
authorities. A closer inspection of the artwork reveals that each bar has been chiseled to portray a solitary confinement cell with
an inmate inside.
Htein Lin said the “A Show of Hands” project is not yet completed, given the large number of ex-political prisoners in Burma. Even
over the course of the exhibition at Goethe-Institut, he plans to cast the forearms of additional former political prisoners. Among
the list still to be cast is Burma’s pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who promised Htein Lin that she would make an appearance
to have mold of her forearm join “A Show of Hands.”
Asked about his expectations for the exhibition, Htein Lin is modest: “You can’t expect big things like peace from a work of art. If
you do so, you are too greedy.”
“But if you want to reflect on what has happened in the past, art is very effective.”

Hands of Hardship: Artist Htein Lin Spotlights Political Prisoners’ Travails

According to the government’s forestry department and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, forest cover is
46 percent [of the country’s land area]. They estimate that one percent of Myanmar’s forested area is lost on average annually. This
rate is very high. The government takes both dense and sparse forests into account regarding the rate of deforestation. Recently, in
cooperation with a foreign university, we studied the country’s deforestation using satellite images and found that almost one
percent of very thick forests in Kachin State and Sagaing and Tanintharyi regions have been lost.
Deforestation of dense forests is particularly worrying. [The government] should issue an honest statement on current deforestation
rates and the remaining forest coverage. It is terrifying that the deforestation rate is one percent. It can be argued that it is
the highest rate in the world.
It is important that we conserve the environment now. According to a study, there are around 20 million people living within a
five-mile radius of forests and around six million people living along rivers [in Myanmar]. These people will suffer if the water
and forests they rely on are depleted.
As villagers have said, there are cases in which those who steal a [small] bunch of wood are imprisoned while those who steal logs
in trucks act with impunity
Another problem is awarding licenses for seized logs. It is called License 8. [The government] imposes a fine for smuggled logs
seized and then gives the logs back to smugglers officially. So they log illegally before the eyes of the public and allow
themselves to get arrested. They can then take logs out of the country legally after paying the fine. [The government] does not
usually give out logging licenses. These issues need to be addressed.


OPINION: Election will be neither historic nor consequential

26 July 2015
In addition, today’s Burmese generals and ex-generals have been ably assisted on public relations matters by a small but highly
educated group of Burmese advisers, as well as international friends including the regime-friendly diplomats, politicians, academics
and policy lobbyists. As a consequence, the generals have learned to parrot pro-democracy liberal spins while pursuing the same old
illiberal agenda dictated by the typical anti-democratic mindset instilled through military academies and decades of working in the
country’s militaristic, authoritarian political culture.
Upon closer look, in spite of being touted as “historic” in Western media, world’s capitals and investors’ circles, Myanmar’s
upcoming elections lack any democratic substance.
One only needs a cursory glance at how political power is divided – or not divided – among the country’s stakeholders: non-Myanmar
or non-Burman ethnic communities such as the Kachin, the Karen, the Shan, the Mon, the Rakhine [Arakanese], the Karenni, the Chin,
etc. who make up roughly 30-40 percent of the total population of 51 million; and the pro-democracy Myanmar civilian communities.
However, structurally speaking, the two most important issues that expose the most anti-democratic pillars of Myanmar’s “democratic
system” hark back to the British colonial era political system that was deemed necessary to reform even as early as 1918: the
concentration of political and administrative power in the central government vis-à-vis the non-ethnic Myanmar “peripheries”, for
lack of a better term, and the constitutionally guaranteed absence of democratic accountability for those in the Executive branch,
made up almost exclusively of Myanmar generals and ex-generals.


Ruling Party Hardliner Aung Thaung Dead at 74

23rd July 2015
Aung Thaung, a senior member of Burma’s ruling party with a reputation for hardline politicking that included alleged links to an
infamous attack on the motorcade of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi more than a decade ago, died on Thursday at a hospital in
Singapore. He was 74.
...He has long been accused of orchestrating a mob attack on Suu Kyi’s convoy in northern Burma in 2003, when about 70 supporters of
her National League for Democracy (NLD) were killed in an incident known as the “Depayin Massacre.”
When anti-Muslim riots hit central Burma in March 2013, The Straits Times of Singapore hinted at his possible connection to the
communal strife by describing the emergence of a new Buddhist paramilitary force known as the “Taung Tha Army,” noting that Taung
Tha is a town in Mandalay Division that “happened to be home to the notoriously hardline Aung Thaung.”
...Aung Thaung is survived by four children, some of whom are believed to be among the wealthiest people in Burma, with extensive
business interests across multiple industries. IGE Co. Ltd. is publicly known as Aung Thaung family business, active in oil, gas and
mineral extraction, as well as the high-end Amara Hotel in Naypyidaw and United Amara Bank.


NLD Candidate Ko Ko Gyi Guilty of Illegal Protest But Spared Prison

22nd July 2015
RANGOON — A Rangoon court on Wednesday found prominent 88 Generation student leader Ko Ko Gyi and four other activists guilty of
breaching Burma’s Peaceful Assembly Law, sentencing them each to 21 days in prison or a fine of 10,000 kyats (US$8.30).
Speaking outside the South Okkalar Township courthouse following the verdict, Ko Ko Gyi told reporters that he would opt to serve
the prison term, but an unknown benefactor stepped in to pay the financial penalty, apparently intent on seeing the activist’s
political ambitions realized.


Ethnic Bloc Seeks Powerbroker Role in Next Parliament

22nd July 2015
RANGOON — A coalition of 23 ethnic political parties is targeting around 150 constituencies in the Union Parliament in the coming
general election, aiming to elect a bloc with enough leverage to help determine the shape of the next government.
Saw Than Myint, spokesman for the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF), told The Irrawaddy that the alliance of 23 parties was
aiming to capture a quarter of Naypyidaw’s 664 seats in the Nov. 8 poll.


As Case Goes to High Court, Kachin Women Maintain Husbands’ Innocence

22nd July 2015
The judges presiding over the trials have also repeatedly blocked the defense’s attempts to introduce witness testimony that both
men were working as day laborers or were at the IDP camp at the specific times that they were alleged by prosecutors to be receiving
explosives training and engaging in other illegal activities.
After a series of hearings that were later criticized by a UN panel for being heavily biased against the defendants, both men were
convicted on a number of charges relating to explosives and being a member of an illegal organization, the KIA, which is the armed
wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). Lahphai Gam, 56, received a sentence of 20 years in prison, while the younger
Brang Yung, 25, was given 21 years.
...Thein Sein has so far failed to act on the formal request issued last October by a coalition of Kachin civil society groups to
grant Brang Yung and Lahpai Gam a pardon of their own. The pair have instead had much better success internationally: In separate
decisions that were released last year, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the men’s continued detention was
illegal under international law and called for their immediate release. Their cases were brought to the UN group by lawyers working
with the London-based Burma Campaign UK, an advocacy group that has taken a strong interest in the plight of civilians caught up in
the Kachin conflict.
...Mar Hkar, who believes that the UN working group’s decisions strongly bolster his clients claims of innocence, says he was very
pleased that the Burma Campaign UK got involved with the case. In doing so, he says, the group has drawn attention to the ongoing
human rights situation in Kachin State, which in many ways has been overshadowed by developments in the rest of the country.

Karen refugee signs for English football team

.Now 18 and possessing a first professional contract with the four-time FA Cup winners and 1898 English champions, Kler allows
himself to dream again.
“I would love to play in the Premier League one day but at present my goal is to impress [manager] Nigel Adkins and [under-21 coach]
Chris Morgan, and repay Sheffield United for the faith that they have shown to me,” he told Reuters.
Kler Heh is a skilful winger who will play in United’s under-21 side this year and push for first-team opportunities with the
Blades, who made the semi-finals of the League Cup last season but narrowly missed out on promotion back to the second tier.

MPs debate definition of ‘political prisoner’

22nd July 2015
On Tuesday in parliament, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Brig-Gen Kyaw Kyaw Tun said the term ‘political prisoner’ is
unconstitutional as it contravenes the charter’s Article 347, which provides every person equal rights under the law.
...Speaking to DVB after the parliamentary session, May Win Myint said, “I raised the question to the ministry as I am a former
political prisoner myself and I believe that a prisoner of conscience can in no way be the same as a criminal inmate. The deputy
minister said the system that classified different statuses for inmates had been abolished.”
She said that Kyaw Kyaw Tun added that the Union Revolutionary Council government, of the former military dictator Gen. Ne Win, on
15 January 1964 issued an ordinance abolishing classification of different political prisoner statuses to ensure there is no
privileged class of inmates in Burmese prisons.
“He [Kyaw Kyaw Tun] implied that political inmates should be treated the same as criminal inmates to avoid discrimination – I am
saddened to hear that,” said May Win Myint.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the chairperson of May Win Myint’s party, the National League for Democracy, weighed in on behalf of her colleague
after the parliamentary session when she told reporters that the deputy home minister’s explanation is inconsistent with government
“Someone who lands in jail for political reasons is simply a political prisoner,” she said. “The government itself formed a
committee to oversee the release of political prisoners. Now the deputy Home Affairs minister is rejecting the term. I think this is

MPs debate definition of ‘political prisoner’

There's an art exhibition this Saturday 25th July in Westminster. On Sunday 26th July the Karenni Student Development Programme
(KSDP) Charity  has an Open Garden Fundraiser near Alexandra Palace and will give an update on a new clinic. There will also be a
protest on Saturday 8th August at the Burma/Myanmar Embassy to remember 8th August 1988 when the military killed thousands of
student protestors. See events details below.

Myanmar Herald editors fined for insulting president

22nd July 2015
Two editors from the Myanmar Herald news publication were found guilty of defamation and fined by a court in Naypyidaw on Tuesday.
At their 20th hearing in the trial, the journal’s chief editor Kyaw Swar Win and former deputy-chief editor Ant Khaung Min were
sentenced by the Pobbathiri township court to each pay a fine of one million kyat (US$833) or serve six months in prison.
....The charges relate to an interview with political theorist Myo Yan Naung Thein, published in August last year, who criticised
President Thein Sein of “spouting gibberish, irrational, cheap and inconsistent words” that were “completely nonsensical, absurd and

Naw Ohn Hla handed additional sentence 'with hard labour'

Naw Ohn Hla handed additional sentence 'with hard labour'
Incarcerated political activist Naw Ohn Hla has been handed an additional six-month sentence for allegedly disturbing religious
assembly eight years ago.
The charge relates to Naw Ohn Hla's 'Tuesday prayer sessions', a weekly silent protest held in 2007 calling for the release of Aung
San Suu Kyi who was then under house arrest by the ruling military junta.
Naw Ohn Hla is currently incarcerated for staging a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy against the Latpadaung copper mining
project. She and six others were protesting the death of Latpadaung villager Khin Win, who died of a gunshot wound to the head
during a confrontation with the police at the mining site.

Family visits banned for Letpadan activists

Family visits banned for Letpadan activists
Thirty-five activists facing charges for their involvement in the Letpadan education protest have been banned from receiving visits
in Tharawaddy prison amid allegations of family members smuggling prohibited items to their loved ones in jail.
According to local resident and activist supporter, Kyaw Naing Oo, the Tharawaddy prisoners were discovered carrying cigarettes and
betel quid, a cigarette substitute comprised of ground areca nut, tobacco and lime wrapped in a betel leaf, as they were returning
from a court hearing on 16 June.
"After the court hearing last Tuesday, the students brought back cigarettes. For that, the officials accused them of bringing
prohibited items into the prison and sought disciplinary action against them," said Kyaw Naing Oo on Wednesday.
"According to the prison manual, the prison authorities are to provide the prisoners with cigarettes," said the lawyer.
"I was released in 2010 and as of then, the prisoners were still allowed betel quid but now the officials are saying it is a
'prohibited item'. I view this as an obstruction of personal freedom and a violation of human rights."


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Three Armed Groups Make Peace Offer As Talks Continue in Rangoon

6th Aug 2015
Three ethnic armed groups involved in ongoing fighting with the Burma Army in recent months have offered an olive branch to the
government, as the 9th round of official talks on a nationwide ceasefire agreement continues Thursday in Rangoon.
The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA), made a
collective peace offer to the government on Wednesday. ...
Flood Donations
With much of Burma currently gripped by severe floods which have displaced or otherwise impacted at least 330,000 people nationwide,
the three armed groups also made pledges of a different kind on Thursday.
Nyo Tun Aung, AA deputy commander-in-chief, told The Irrawaddy the armed group had donated relief materials to flood-affected areas
in northern Arakan State.
TNLA’s communications officer Mai Aike Kyaw also confirmed that his group had donated 30 million kyat worth of aid through the local
Sitagu Foundation. The Kokang rebel group MNDAA also made a donation of 50 million kyat to the foundation.
A Sitagu Foundation spokesperson confirmed the donations had been received.
“MNDAA soldiers and commanders donated money to the flood victims as we… know how hard it would be for them to be displaced. Our
people have also experienced displacement, for different reasons,” Htun Myat Lin told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

Posted by ngs at 16:10 No com

Speech of General Aung San