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Chiswick Free Burma Protest against Total Oil

Awyame | 28.07.2008 21:50 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | London

Six protesters from held a demonstration at Chiswick West Four Total petrol station, 137 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick W4 2ED on 23rd July. They called for French Total Oil to stop funding the brutal Burmese junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the French Total operated Yadana gas pipeline. Burma earns most of its foreign currency from gas exports and spends 50% of its budget on the military in a war against its own people. Since the mid 1990s French Total Oil has played a significant role in keeping the brutal Burmese junta in power, against the wishes of the Burmese people.

The protesters "BEEP 4 BURMA BOYCOTT TOTAL" banner attracted support from passing cars, including a passing fire engine that beeped in support with the firemen on board waving in support. About 400 Total Out of Burma leaflets and the same again for a leaflet in support of Burma Cyclone victims were handed out to passers-by.

At the Chiswick protest and earlier at 33 Cavendish Sq (where Total's UK Holding company is based), passers-by told the protesters they would not buy petrol from Total again.

Total and Burma

A detailed report on Total Oil's involvement in Burma, written by Burma Campaign UK, can be downloaded at

Total is in a joint venture with the dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma. [1]

The gas project funds the junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year and represents a major source of foreign currency for the regime to buy weapons and finance the army.

Burma has the world's worst health care [2], the most corruption [3] and the most child soldiers [4].

You can email TOTAL right now to tell them that you think they should leave Burma via

Burma Campaign UK on Facebook

Get Total out of Burma on Facebook ( Facebook group)


Wednesday July 30th ( Protests)

Meet at Burma Embassy for regular Burmese protest
12:00-1pm Wednesday July 30th
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
1:30-2:30pm Wednesday July 30th
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:

Ridge Total petrol station
5.00pm - 7.00pm (Wednesday July 23rd)
Protest at Ridge Total Service Station, 40 - 50 Balahm Hill,
Wandsworth, London SW12 9EL
Tube: Clapham South

Check Burmese Democracy Movement Association and Burma Campaign UK for any further events or changes to events (especially 8th August):

Friday August 8th

The 20th anniversary of the regime’s brutal suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations which took place in 1988. Thousands of Burmese were murdered by the regime on August 8th in a pro-democracy crackdown known in Burma as “8-8-88"

Burmese and solidarity groups will protest at the Embassy
1-2pm Friday 8 August
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

An exhibition about political prisoners at SOAS (Free
Friday 8 August, 6-10pm
Room G15 School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London Thornhaugh Street Russell Square London WC1H 0XG Nearest tube: Russell Square
Tube: Russell Square

August 4th to 10th

the burma play
a comedy of terror
... a vital glimpse of the courage and suffering of the Burmese people. I warmly recommend it - John Pilger
Edinburgh Festival Fringe - August 2008
St John's Church, Corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road
See also
August 4-10 16:00 (1hr) £8.00(£5.00)
Tickets available from The Fringe Festival Box Office boxoffice AT 0131 226 0026

August 18th
Bridport Carnival street collection for Burma appeal and stall.
Email: lynlidiard AT

Bank Holiday Monday 25th August

Music Concert & Burmese food in London (Fundraiser for Cyclone Nargis Victims)
(Zaw Paing, Chit Thu Wai, Tin Zar Maw, Kyar Pauk & Samba Dancers)
Date: 25 August, 2008 (Bank holiday Monday)
Time: 17:00 to midnight
More information: Temptation 2
Venue: Clapham Grand, 21-25 St. Johns Hill, Clapham Junction, SW11 1TT

Check Burmese Democracy Movement Association for any further events or changes to events:

Burma Fundraising events in Bridport, Dorset
For more information on any of these events email: lynlidiard AT
These events are raising money for:
Burma Campaign UK
Children on the Edge
Save The Children (Burma Sector)

September 13th
Awareness and fundraising stall Bridport high street
Email: lynlidiard AT

September 15th
Screening of 'Burmas Secret War' - A film about the oppression of the Burmese people by its own government.
Followed by a speaker working as nurse on Thai/Burmese border.
At the Palace cinema , South Street Bridport.
Email: lynlidiard AT
Youtube copy of 'Burmas Secret War"

A coming together For Burma' - An evening of prayer and meditation for peace. led by a visiting monk-Ajahn from Hartridge monastery and vicar of the United Reform Church East St Bridport. Possible Burmese speaker at end of event.
Bring a symbol of peace.
Email: lynlidiard AT

September 19th
A concert at Bridport Art Centre for the people of Burma.
7.45pm (doors open 7.15pm)
Folky jazz with the BJ band and Red Dirt followed by folk music from Dave Ferrard (an up and coming musician from Edinburgh
Email: lynlidiard AT


Burma Campaign UK has a web page on the crisis, with donation links to
major charities helping victims of the cyclone eg.
Christian Aid, Oxfam, The Red Cross, Islamic Relief and CAFOD.

On 2 May 2008 Cyclone Nargis ripped across the coast of Myanmar (also known as Burma), bringing misery and devastation to tens of thousands of people. The DEC has raised £15 Million to date to help survivors of this disaster, but there is still more to do.
* Donate online Now: Myanmar (Burma).
* Send a Cheque made payable to 'DEC Myanmar Cyclone' to: DEC Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Appeal, PO BOX 232, Melksham, SN12 6WF
* Download a Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Donation by post form
* Go to any Post Office quoting Freepay number: 1643


Make sure you've signed:

- "Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now!" petition (global campaign launched 13 March 2008)

- Downing Street petition to ask Prime Minister to support 1990 Elections result and urge International Community not to follow junta's 2010 Election plan (new petition launched in June 2008)
- Urge immediate medical care for Min Ko Naing (Email campaign launched 29th April 2008)
- The Burma Campaign UK e-action to TOTAL:
- Ipetition Boycott Total Petrol Stations to support Burma (started June 2008):
- The global pledge (Boycott of Total Oil and Chevron and all their subsidiaries)
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:


Burma Campaign UK's video channel on YouTube:

- New to Burma? Watch these videos for a brief introduction
- This is Burma Music - U2, REM, Damien Rice, KT Tunstall...
- This is Burma: News and Documentaries - including Burma's Secret War
and Inside The Crackdown

The Real Disaster in Burma' - new animated film narrated by Ricky Gervais
23 Jun 2008

Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma group on Facebook:

RECENT BURMA NEWS: (see - read links for the full versions of stories)

Aung San Suu Kyi will be detained until late 2009
Nobel Laureate Doubts Suu Kyi Will Be Released
FBR REPORT: Oppression: Burma Army Militarization and the Use of Proxies in Eastern Shan State
Karen Refugees Forced to Return
Torture Survivor Campaigns for Freedom in Burma
Political Prisoner Dies in Burma Prison
No Political Prisoners in Burma say Junta’s Mouthpieces
Authorities censor Nargis cartoons
US Calls Burma's Promise of Democracy a 'Mockery'
US Senate Bans Import of Burmese Gems
Foreign Investment in Burma Oil and Gas Sectors More Than Tripled
Burmese MPs Urge UN to Reject New Constitution
UN Wants ‘Tangible Progress’ in Burma
Burma Opposes Asean Investigative Powers
Burma pulls down ASEAN
Man attempts suicide outside Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur
Oversea Chins (Zanniat) help Mautam victims in Falam Township
Court hears case of female reporter covering on Cyclone
Cyclone donors should set up monitoring body: HRW
UN Says Burma Faces 'Second Emergency'
Australia to give aid to Myanmar
Discrimination over aid distribution among cyclone victims: new report
Three more Rohingya refugees die of starvation in Lada camp
Cyclone-battered fisheries worsen Myanmar's pain

Aung San Suu Kyi will be detained until late 2009

SINGAPORE - Myanmar’s foreign minister has said pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi can be kept in detention legally until late 2009 and not until December this year as reported earlier, Singapore officials said Tuesday.

Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win was misunderstood by his nine counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during a dinner conversation on Sunday, said a Foreign Ministry official.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo subsequently passed on Nyan Win’s remarks to the media, which reported widely that a new glimmer of hope had been raised for Suu Kyi’s early freedom.

Yeo had quoted Nyan Win as saying that a political detainee can be held for a maximum of six years, and that the limit was approaching in about “half a year’s time.”

But the Straits Times newspaper on Tuesday quoted Yeo as saying that the six-year period will only be reached in the six months after May 2009, when her latest one-year detention period expires.

The Times quoted Yeo as saying the ministers had “misunderstood” Nyan Win.

The Foreign Ministry official confirmed Yeo’s comments. Singapore government officials cannot be named under briefing rules.

The new position dashes hopes of an early release for Suu Kyi, who has now been detained for more than 12 of the last 18 years at her home in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

In a clear sign that ASEAN is getting fed up of the Myanmar junta’s foot-dragging on democracy, the foreign ministers issued a statement Sunday expressing “deep disappointment” at the junta’s decision in May to extend Suu Kyi’s detention.

The harsh call went against ASEAN’s policy of not interfering in each other’s domestic affairs.

ASEAN has faced international criticism, especially from the West, for not putting enough pressure on Myanmar, the most recalcitrant member of the grouping.

Nobel Laureate Doubts Suu Kyi Will Be Released

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams has condemned a decision by Burma’s junta to extend the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in May, and expressed strong doubts about a statement by the regime’s foreign minister suggesting that she could be released within six months.

“I will believe it when she is released,” Williams said on Monday, referring to a comment made the day before by Nyan Win, the Burmese foreign minister, during a meeting of foreign ministers from the Association Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Singapore.

Already, the comments by Nyan Win, which were reported by his Singaporean counterpart, George Yeo, have been revised to suggest that Suu Kyi could be released “six months from May 2009.”

Suu Kyi has spent nearly 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest. On Sunday, Asean said that it was “deeply disappointed” by the Burmese regime’s decision to extend her detention by another year after her fifth consecutive year of house arrest ended in May.

Williams made her comments on Suu Kyi’s prospects for release in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, where she spoke at a symposium to promote dialogue between female Nobel laureates and women activists from Thailand and Burma.

“The purpose of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and this delegation is to use our fame and ability to meet global leaders and to have the media care about what we say,” Williams said in her introductory speech. “We are here to bring the messages of the women of Burma and women marginalized here in Thailand to the world. We are here to listen. We are here to learn the common concerns that women of the world seem to share.”

Williams was joined by American actress and Unicef goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow, labor rights activist Qing Zhang from China and Dr Sima Samar from Afghanistan.

During the symposium, Burmese human rights activist Charm Tong linked Suu Kyi’s detention and the situation of refugees on Burma’s borders to the junta’s decision to block aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis until it was forced by international pressure to allow relief workers into the country.

Similar pressure is also needed to push the regime towards democratic change, insisted Charm Tong. “Aid alone will not solve Burma’s problem. Unless political issues are addressed, this crisis will continue,” she said.

Williams and other Nobel Peace Prize laureates have long been active in pushing the United Nations and world governments to make a more concerted effort to effect change in Burma.

“Nobel laureates are working very hard in support of our imprisoned Nobel sister Aung San Suu Kyi, and of course we support the movement for democracy in [Burma],” said Williams, who will join six other Peace prize winners at a Burma-related meeting in Los Angeles in September.

FBR REPORT: Oppression: Burma Army Militarization and the Use of Proxies in Eastern Shan State

The three pictures of Burma Army camps show the militarization that has taken place as the Burma Army attempts to dominate all areas of life. There are five Burma Army battalions in Mong Ton Town alone. This significant development in military infrastructure is in sharp contrast to the lives of ordinary villagers here, who continue to live in deprivation, with little access to health care or education. Poverty is compounded by the Burma Army's use of forced relocation, often along ethnic lines, as a means of smothering potential opposition to its rule. A large influx of ethnic Wa into this area after their forced relocation from northern Shan State has lead to the displacement of local populations and has put a significant stress on the local environment. This, combined with the use of drug-fuelled proxy armies, such as the Untied Wa State Army (UWSA) has limited community development and has aggravated already existing ethnic tensions. In this area the Burma Army also uses the Lahu ethnic militia in its attempt to dominate the Shan and further divide the ethnic peoples. The Burma Army suppresses all political rights, which if achieved might allow the people here to begin solving some of myriad economic, social, and ethnic challenges that make life here difficult.


The Burma Army and UWSA both continue to use forced labor to transport supplies and expand military infrastructure, often carrying loads, fetching water and digging trenches. People must pay a fine of 5,000 Kyats if they are unable to provide this labor. Villagers are generally forced to provide labor four times per month.

People in Mong Ton township has been ordered to grow castor oil and rubber plants. This is a Junta imposed project to produce bio-fuels. Villagers have no choice whether or not to participate in this program. Note: 1,200 Kyats is equal to $.1.00.


Burma is the number two opium producer in the world (after Afghanistan), and one of the leading producers of amphetamines in South East Asia. The Burma Army is involved in the production and trafficking of narcotics and works closely with proxy forces such as the UWSA in order to profit from the trade in opium, heroin and amphetamines. In the Mong Ton area, opium is cultivated and it is not only processed for trade abroad it is also consumed by some local villagers. Opium addiction is taking a terrible toll in this area, sometimes involving the entire family; father, mothers and children. (See photo of addicted Lahu family below).

To begin to approach the solution to this problem, democracy must be restored, ethnic rights and the rule of law upheld and human dignity defended.


Note: The following information came from Oo Zaw Win of Pa Cheh village and Mo Aung Tin* of Paung Lin village who were interviewed on June 30

*names have been changed

After they harvest their rice villagers must sell four baskets of paddy rice from each acre they farm to the Burma Army at a price of 1,500 Kyat per basket. The market price for each basket in this area is 5,000 Kyat. If the farmers are unable to grow enough rice on their own farms, they must still provide this rice to the Burma Army. This means that they must purchase the rice from a market and then sell it to the Burma Army for the reduced price.

In the Mawk Si Li area, which is southeast of Mong Ton, the Burma Army taxes villagers 14 tins of rice for every acre they farm. Farmers usually are able to harvest about 80 tins per acre, but this can vary greatly. Villagers are also forced to transport this rice from their fields to the Burma Army camp without being paid for their labor or gasoline.

In July 2007, Burma Army battalion, IB 225 took over 15 acres of rice field from Pa Cheh villagers, along with additional land. Villagers also reported that all of the land the Burma Army has used to build its offices in Mong Ton, over 20 acres, was confiscated without reimbursement. Some of the confiscated land was also sold to a business.

The Burma Army has also continued to force villagers to grow Castor Oil plants. Each family in the Mong Ton area must grow 1,500 plants in their garden.

In Paung Lin village there is only a monastery school. In Pa Cheh there is a primary school up to 4th standard. The teachers at the school are the wives and family members of soldiers in IB 225. The headmaster or headmistress at the school gets a salary of 40,000 Kyats (US $33), per month. Teachers get 25,000 Kyats (US $21), per month. Every student must also provide one small tin of rice and 200 Kyats per month for their teacher.

The clinic and library in Pa Cheh are nothing more than a building and signboard. If villagers get sick they have to go to Mong Ton for treatment.

IBs 225, 519, and 277 have been patrolling in the Pa Cheh area. Almost every evening, 12 soldiers come to spend the night at the monastery in Pa Cheh. Villagers who own motorcycles must now get registrations for their motorcycles, which cost about 200,000 Kyats. The price for a new Motorcycle is around 500,000 to 600,000 Kyats. Motorcycles that are found without registration are being confiscated. In addition to this tax, every vehicle that travels on the main road through Mong Ton is taxed 30,000 Kyats.

When asked about the referendum in May, the villagers said, We never saw a ballot. The SPDC official just came to our village headman and went back.

Karen Refugees Forced to Return

Human Rights Watch has criticized Thailand authorities for returning more than 50 Karen refugees to a conflict zone in Karen State in eastern Burma.

Last week, local Thai paramilitary troops forced the Karen refugees—mostly women and children—to leave two refugee camps, Mae La Oon and Mae Ra Ma Luang in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province, and return to Burma, where they had fled Burmese military offensives in early 2008, according to sources.

Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said in a statement released on July 18, “The Thai government has ignored its obligations to protect refugees fleeing violence in Burma.”

“Sending these people back to conflict zones dominated by the Burmese army is disgraceful. Forcing civilians back into an active war zone may be an easy answer for Thailand, but it’s brutal—a completely inhumane and unacceptable solution,” he said.

Tu Tu, a coordinator of a branch of the Karen Refugee Committee office in Mae Hong Son, told The Irrawaddy on Monday the refugees were sent back by local Thai forces on July 17 to Ei Tu Hta refugee camp in Burma on the border with Mae Hong Son District.

“There are many difficulties for them [refugees], such as building new houses because there is not enough material,” said Tu Tu. “Food is also limited. We provided two weeks rations. Some were separated from their children.”

Some ill refugees and students were allowed to remain in the refugee camp to receive medical treatment and to study, said Tu Tu.

The Ei Tu Hta camp, built about two years ago, is located along the Salween River and has grown to nearly 4,300 civilians who have fled attacks and abuses by the Burmese army. The overcrowded camp receives limited international and local assistance and food. The camp faces the risk of attack because of its proximity to Burmese army encampments, said Human Rights Watch.

Karen refugees have fled from war conflict zones such as Taungoo, Nyaunglebin districts in Pegu Division and Papun District in Karen State, where clashes between Burmese troops and Karen rebels occur almost daily.

Maj Hla Ngwe of the Karen National Union (KNU) information department said about 50 Burmese battalions are now being deployed at the area.

“There is fighting everyday in Karen State,” he said. “If there was no war in Karen State, then nobody would come and stay under their control [the Thai authorities].

At least 40 clashes occurred between the Burmese army and KNU soldiers in Karen State in June, said Hla Ngwe.

An estimated 25,000 refugees, mostly ethnic Karen, live in Mae La Oon and Mae Ra Ma Luang camps in Thailand, according to the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium. More than 100,000 Burmese refugees in total live in Thailand in seven refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border.

Torture Survivor Campaigns for Freedom in Burma

Aung Din survived the torture and years of imprisonment he received in Burma as punishment for his political views. On July 24 he spoke at the United Nations in New York City on behalf of political prisoners in his homeland and elsewhere in the world.

He was one of several political activists at a special panel discussion designed to underscore international promises made in the Declaration of Prisoners of Conscience issued in June. The declaration, sponsored by the United States and 63 other U.N. member states, calls for a high-priority global commitment to freeing prisoners of conscience.

The panel discussion was moderated by Ambassador T. Vance McMahan, U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, who told the audience, "Persecution of human rights defenders occurs in many parts of the globe and requires the urgent attention of the international community as a whole."

At the panel discussion, Aung Din said the Burmese regime is holding about 2,000 political detainees, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. He described the abuse he suffered for his dedication to freedom for his countrymen.

Aung Din spent more than four years in prison - sometimes in solitary confinement, naked, in total darkness - after organizing and leading Burma's nationwide pro-democracy uprising in August 1988 as vice chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. ABFSU, the largest student organization in Burma, is outlawed by the ruling military junta.

He endured physical and psychological torture in the interrogation chambers run by military intelligence and in prisons - two years in the notorious Insein Prison in Rangoon, and another two years in Thayet Prison in central Burma.

Political Prisoner Dies in Burma Prison

The 137th political prisoner died on July 18 due to a lack of health care in a Burmese prison, a Burmese human rights group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP) said in a press release on Sunday.

Khin Maung Tint (also known as Ya Pyi), 49, died in Mandalay Prison in Mandalay, the second largest city in Burma.

He was arrested and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for his pro-democracy activities in 1998, according the AAPP press release.

“The latest death reflects a kind of systematic execution of political prisoners that is going on in Burma’s prisons,” said Tate Naing, secretary of the AAPP. “Who can survive without adequate healthcare in Burma’s terrible prison conditions?”

The AAPP said Khin Maung Tint’s death was the second this year. Another activist, Win Tin, 30, died in Tharrawaddy Prison in Pegu Division in March.

Tate Naing told The Irrawaddy on Monday that Khin Maung Tint had suffered from tuberculosis for about two years.

“Because inadequate healthcare is normal in Burma’s prisons, he [Khin Maung Tint] didn’t get sufficient treatment by the authorities. That why Burma has lost another political prisoner,” he said.

About 80 out of 2,000 political prisoners are in ill health and require more medical care, said Tate Naing. Some are in critical condition.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been denied access to Burma’s prisons since November 2005. Since that time, health services have deteriorated, say human rights groups.

No Political Prisoners in Burma say Junta’s Mouthpieces

Burma’s state-run newspapers rejected the use of the term “political prisoners” to describe imprisoned dissidents, saying in a series of articles published ahead of Thursday’s commemoration of the United Nations’ Declaration on Prisoners of Conscience that detained activists were actually guilty of criminal offenses.

From July 22 to 24, The Mirror and Myanma Alin, two of the ruling junta’s mouthpieces, ran a three-part article, “Political Cases, Political Prisoners and the Definition of Burmese Law,” which addressed the question of whether there are any political prisoners in Burma.

Referring to Article 5 (j) of the State Emergency Act and Article 124 (a) of the State Offence Act, which are often used by the authorities to charge and imprison political dissidents, the newspapers claimed that since Burmese law does not use the term “political prisoner,” they cannot possibly exist in Burmese prisons.

The newspapers argued that the Articles 1-8 of the State Emergency Act, which has been in effect since 1950, cover a wide range of issues, including security, administration, communications, taxation and the economy, but do not relate to political affairs.

Article 5 (j) of the State Emergency Act serves to deter acts that threaten the security of the state, law and order, and public morality, The Mirror and Myanma Alin said.

They also noted that under the Election Law for the People’s Assembly No. 11, promulgated in 1989, elected persons can lose their right to represent their constituencies if they break any military decree related to law and order.

“Although the laws do not use the term ‘political prisoners,’ political activists are charged because of their political work,” Aung Thein, a lawyer for several political detainees, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Authorities censor Nargis cartoons

A number of Burmese cartoons were censored by the authorities this morning for allegedly violating policy. The cartoons were exhibited for a fund raising drive in an exhibition entitled 'Wakeup from Storm' for Cyclone Nargis victims.

Five officials of the Cartoon Exhibition Supervisory Committee under the Ministry of Information came and inspected the cartoons exhibited at 'Lawkanat' gallery in Pansodan Street, Rangoon this morning. They ordered the removal of four cartoons from a total of 146 cartoons drawn by 64 cartoonists.

"Two officers and three staff members came and poured over the cartoons for about two hours from 10:30 a.m. Then they ordered the removal of four cartoons and gave signed authorization certificates," one of the organizers of the fund raising exhibition, who wished not to be named, told Mizzima.

The censored cartoons were drawn by cartoonists Win Aung, October Aung Gyi and Aung Kaung. The organizers of the exhibition did not object to the censorship on the Cyclone Nargis theme before it was opened to the public, one of the cartoonists said.

"This is an usual phenomenon. Four or five cartoons are removed at every exhibition. It's not surprising. The officials order us to remove paintings and cartoons when they feel it violates their policy," he said.

"I saw three to four cartoons that were censored. It depicted the cyclone as a consequence of deforestation. The cartoons with such themes are considered excesses so they censored it," cartoonist Aupikye, one of the organizers, said.

US Calls Burma's Promise of Democracy a 'Mockery'

SINGAPORE — The United States blasted the Burmese junta's oft-repeated promise to democratize as a "kind of mockery" Thursday, while Asia-Pacific countries urged the generals to take bolder steps to meet international demands.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered a stinging rebuke to Burma before attending a security conference hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Burma is a member of the 10-nation Asean, whose foreign ministers meet every year with counterparts from 17 Asia-Pacific countries for the Asean Regional Forum.

In comments to reporters before the meeting, Rice noted the Asean charter aspires to the rule of law, human rights and the development of more pluralistic political systems.

"Burma is out of step, badly out of step," she said.

The foreign ministers attending the forum were to express their exasperation over the junta's unfulfilled promise to reform under a "roadmap to democracy" and free Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma should "take bolder steps toward a peaceful transition to democracy in the near future," the ministers said in statement, a final draft of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The statement also urged the ruling generals to ensure general elections in 2010 are free and fair.

Rice renewed criticism of Burma for initially refusing international help in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in May, when several countries including the United States were "sitting literally offshore" with ships loaded with aid.

"When you have a situation (with) the junta refusing to let people in need be helped, you wonder how can the international community stand by and allow that to happen," she said.

She praised Asean for persuading Burma to accept help eventually.

Asean should find a way to move the country toward political reforms that would "make something of what is right now a kind of mockery, which is this roadmap to democracy which is going nowhere," she said.

US Senate Bans Import of Burmese Gems

NEW YORK — Exactly one week after the United States House of Representatives passed the Block Burmese Jade Act, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved the bill, which blocks American companies from importing gemstones from Burma and expands financial sanctions against the country’s military junta.

Though it is already illegal for American companies to directly import Burmese products, the Block Burmese JADE Act will keep Burmese gems, including jade and rubies, from entering US markets via third-party countries.

Stopping US sales of these Burmese gems is expected to prevent the Burmese regime from earning hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The bill also makes Burmese regime leaders, military officers and their families ineligible for visas to the United States.

The legislation has already received support from Jewelers of America, which represents more than 11,000 jewelry stores nationwide. Major retailers such as Tiffany’s and Bulgari have voluntarily implemented a ban. Similar restrictions have also been imposed by the European Union and Canada.

Foreign Investment in Burma Oil and Gas Sectors More Than Tripled

Foreign investment in Burma's oil and gas sectors more than tripled last year to US $474.3 million, according to a recently released government report.

That accounted for 90 percent of all foreign investment into the country in 2007 of $504.8 million, the Ministry of National Planning and Development said in its latest statistical survey.

Total foreign investment in oil and gas in 2006 amounted to $134 million, according to government figures.

The United Kingdom led the oil and gas investors, with $187 million invested last year, followed by India and Singapore.

Thailand last year invested $16.22 million and Germany $2.5 million into the manufacturing sector and South Korea $12 million in the fishing industry, same report said.

The report said there was no new investment in mining, real estate, hotel and tourism, transport, power and the industrial sector.

Many Western countries either ban or discourage investment in Burma as a way of pressuring its ruling junta to improve its poor human rights record and hand over power to a democratically elected government.

The official report said the United Kingdom includes the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda. Some oil companies register in these two and other sites to bypass sanctions imposed by their governments.


Human Rights Watch have done some useful research:

They sort out all the oil companies investing there.

From this the following are all registered in British Virgin Islands:
1) Rimbunan Retrogas Ltd (Malaysian)
2) MPRL Exploration and Production Pte. Ltd. (MPRL E&P Pte. Ltd.) (run by Burmese nationals)
3) Focus Energy Ltd. (shareholders in Switzerland)
4) China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) Myanmar Ltd.

Burmese MPs Urge UN to Reject New Constitution

Reflecting a growing sense of frustration, Burmese parliamentarians who were elected in the 1990 general elections urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and members of the UN Security Council to declare that a new constitution adopted by the country’s military junta through a “sham referendum” is not legitimate.

Spokesperson to the secretary-general, Michelle Montas, told reporters at UN headquarters in New York that the UN chief had received a letter from five parliamentarians calling for the declaration. The issues raised by these parliamentarians are being discussed, Montas said in response to a question.

The letter comes before a planned consultation in the Security Council on Burma later this week and an expected visit to the country by Ibrahim Gambari, the UN special envoy on Burma, to meet with members of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in mid-August.

“Now is the time for the United Nations to declare that the seven-step road map of the SPDC is no longer relevant and the constitution is not legitimate,” the parliamentarians said. Copies of the letter have also been sent to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US First Lady, Laura Bush.

The letter also called on the UN to exert greater effort to support reconciliation talks among Burma’s major political forces “by instructing the SPDC, with a binding resolution, to abandon its road map and start negotiating with the [opposition National League for Democracy] and ethnic representatives immediately for a negotiated political settlement within a specific timeframe.”

Two permanent members of the Security Council—China and Russia—have threatened to veto any attempt to pass a binding resolution on Burma, after having rebuffed similar efforts in the past by the United States, France and Britain.

Referring to the secretary-general’s recent strong statements on Zimbabwe, the Burmese parliamentarians said they hoped he would take a tougher position on Burma, too. “We expect that secretary-general will also stand for the rights of the people of Burma/Myanmar, who were unable to express their real aspirations in the referendum conducted by the SPDC,” the letter said.

On June 30, the secretary-general said that the outcome of a run-off presidential election in Zimbabwe did not reflect the true and genuine will of the country’s people or produce a legitimate result.

“We applaud the courage of the secretary-general and his expression of moral authority, defending the right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose a legitimate government in a free and fair election,” said the letter.

Referring to the unilateral steps being taken by the Burmese military junta, despite requests made by the international community, the parliamentarians said the regime’s seven-step roadmap is no longer relevant.

“The referendum was a sham, the constitution is illegitimate and we continue to call for the SPDC to establish a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with the NLD and the ethnic nationalities,” the letter said.

“As we are the ones who will have to decide the future of our country, we have decided not to recognize the constitution and not to join in the SPDC’s process,” wrote the parliamentarians.

Reflecting deep frustration over the UN’s inability to get things moving in Burma, they added: “When we are faced with the military regime, which has never been reluctant to crush any peaceful activity by brutal and excessive force, we expect the United Nations would be able to change the murderous behaviors of the SPDC by diplomacy and pressure.”

“At the very least, we don’t want the United Nations siding with the dictators, and forcing the people of Burma/Myanmar into an untenable position,” they wrote.

UN Wants ‘Tangible Progress’ in Burma

The UN Secretary-General's "Group of Friends" on Burma on Wednesday said the UN special envoy’s return to Burma in August needs to obtain “tangible progress" on issues of concerns to the international community.

The "Group of Friends" on Burma met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and special envoy Ibrahim Gambari at UN headquarters in New York to discuss the visit.

The US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, told The Irrawaddy: "The time has come for concrete results."

Gambari’s previous mission produced very little results, Khalilzad said, and on this trip he must “come back with concrete achievements."

Ban and Gambari declined to make any comments after the meeting, which was attended by representatives from Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Britain, the US, Vietnam, the European community and the European Union.

While the US, Britain, Russia, Singapore, India and several other countries were represented by their respective ambassadors, China sent a third-level official to the meeting.

Among issues of concern for the international community are a resumption of dialogue between pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government, the credibility of the electoral process and a regular process of engagement with the good offices of the secretary-general.

Khalilzad said that in the aftermath of Burma’s constitutional referendum and the humanitarian response to Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 130,000 people in the Irrawaddy delta, "There hasn't been any progress. Actually, there has been some regress on the political track."

"We need to send a strong message through Gambari that there has to be progress on the political track, with regard to time-bound negotiations, with regard to elections in 2010, with regard to the release of [political] prisoners, with regard to including Aung San Suu Kyi, and with regard to dealing with the issue of the future reconstruction of the country, but that reconstruction of the country is very much tied to the political progress."

Meanwhile, Burma's neighbors India and China have joined hands with Indonesia to establish what they describe as an informal meeting group on Burma.

Burma and UN envoy Gambari are the other two members of the informal group recently established at the initiative of Indonesia.

Officials said permanent UN representatives of China, India, Indonesia and Burma to the UN along with Gambari plan to meet regularly over lunch at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss issues related to Burma.

The group has had two meetings so far, both hosted by Indonesia.

"It is not a [official] group. It is not institutionalized. It's a luncheon meeting at which we have India, Indonesia, China, Myanmar and Gambari," the Indian ambassador to the UN, Nirupam Sen, told The Irrawaddy.

"The main objective is to understand each other better. Second, unlike the UN group, this luncheon meeting includes Myanmar (Burma). So there is a sense of ownership," Sen said. "Without involving Myanmar, its government and the sense of ownership there, we can't really carry out any fundamental changes."

Calling it a "focused group," US ambassador Khalilzad said it was formed to help Burma move "in the right direction."

India is in close touch with many key players on Burma, he said. "India is keen that the Good Offices Mission should be a sustainable process.”

Ambassador Sen said the issues include a mechanism for a socio-economic plan tied to Burma’s “road map” towards democracy and the resumption of dialogue with the National League of Democracy. Gambari will be taking up these issues on his next visit, he said.

Burma Opposes Asean Investigative Powers

SINGAPORE — Burma's junta has indicated it will oppose any effort to give a Southeast Asian human rights body the power to monitor or investigate rights violations in the region, diplomats said Tuesday.

A high-level panel of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations started work Monday to set up the rights body. The panel will lay down the body's future makeup, role and powers, which will be presented to a summit of Asean leaders in December.

But in a closed-door session with the panel Monday, Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win said the human rights body should uphold Asean's bedrock policy of noninterference in each other's affairs, a diplomat present at the meeting told The Associated Press.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

Another diplomat who attended a separate meeting between all 10 Asean ministers and the panel also said Nyan Win made clear his opposition to the rights body having any monitoring authority.

Burma's military government, which has been strongly criticized by Western governments and even fellow Asean members for its dismal human rights record, has used the bloc's policy to parry any attempt by outsiders to intervene on behalf of human rights victims in the military-ruled nation.

It has already been decided that the rights body will not have the power to impose sanctions or seek prosecution of violators. But Burma's objections, if honored, will make the body even less effective.

A majority of other Asean foreign ministers, led by Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, separately told the panel that the human rights body should at least be empowered to monitor violations and offer advice to prevent such problems, said the diplomat.

Burma pulls down ASEAN

Debbie Stothard, Coordinator of the Alternative ASEAN network on Burma, an advocacy group lobbying for democracy and human rights in Burma, said the Burmese military regime has never tried to put a halt to the violation of human rights that it has committed and is dragging the ASEAN along with it.

"For a long time now, Burma has dragged down ASEAN. Every time ASEAN wanted to move forward, Burma pulled it down by opposing the basic reforms of ASEAN," Stothard said.

Reports said Nyan Win made it clear to his counterparts that his government is opposed to the idea of empowering the ASEAN human rights body with monitoring authorities on rights violation.

As ASEAN members had already agreed that the rights body will not be empowered to impose sanctions or prosecute violators, if Burma's objections are considered and honoured, the body will be less effective.

"ASEAN should no longer be allowed to be hijacked by Burma," Stothard added.

Man attempts suicide outside Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian police arrested a Burmese national following a failed attempt at committing suicide outside the Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, a Burmese activist, quoting police sources said.

While there was no eyewitness, a Burmese labour rights activist, Ye Min Tun said the Malaysian police summoned and informed him about the incident.

According to the Malaysian police, Saw Noung, the Burmese national, on Tuesday afternoon first hurled a petrol bomb at the Burmese embassy but the bomb exploded before hitting the building.

"He then doused himself with petrol and was about to set himself ablaze, when the Malaysian police in plainclothes grabbed and took him away," said Ye Min Tun, quoting the police.

Officials at the Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur, however, declined comment.

Ye Min Tun said the Malaysian police suspects Saw Noung to be a Burmese opposition activist and told him to take responsibility for the movement by Burmese opposition activists in Kuala Lumpur.

"They [the police] warned that Burmese opposition activists in Malaysia need to be careful about their activities and not disturb law and order in the country," Ye Min Tun said.

Ye Min Tun, who has spearheaded several Burmese opposition activities in Kuala Lumpur, however, denied knowledge of Saw Noung being an opposition activist.

"I don't know him [Saw Noung] and I have never seen him," Ye Min Tun said.

While the reason behind Saw Noung's attempted suicide remains unknown, Malaysian police said he is currently in custody.

Tuesday's suicide attempt and attack on the Burmese embassy is not the first of its kind. In 2006 April, an embassy official committed suicide by setting himself ablaze in the embassy precincts.

Oversea Chins (Zanniat) help Mautam victims in Falam Township

July 23, 2008 - The Chin community, particularly from the Zanniat clan settled overseas recently provided monetary assistance to victims of Mautam (famine from bamboo flowering) in Falam Township in Chin state, Burma.

"So far, the Zanniat community in Norway sent Kyat 800,000 to Falam Township in Chin state," Pu Sena, adviser of the Zanniat Welfare Organization based in Aizawl, capital of Mizoram state, northeast India said.

Pu Sena added that Zanniat communities in USA, Canada and Australia are also collecting funds for the victims of Mautam in Falam Township.

Last month, rodents multiplying after eating bamboo flowers, destroyed paddy and maize in farmlands located in Webula, Mualzawl, Zahtual, Tlawrzam, Zalang, Ralum, Kawlfang villages in Falam Township making the shortage of food for villagers worse.

Bamboos flower every 50 years when its life cycle comes to an end. The flowers are eaten by rats whose fertility increases leading to multiplication in large numbers. The rats then invade crops in farmlands and store houses causing shortage of food and consequent famine. This phenomenon is true for both Chin state in Burma and the contiguous Mizroam state in India.

Most villagers from the rodent infested villages in Falam Township belong to the Zanniat clan.

Meanwhile the Chin Famine Emergency Relief Committee (CFERC) said that it will provide Kyat 400,000 to the victims of famine in Falam Township.- Khonumthung.

Court hears case of female reporter covering on Cyclone

According to Khin Maung Shein, Police Sgt. Myint Oo testified that he was in front of the United Nations Development Programme office on June 10 and he arrested Ein Khaing Oo, who was there to cover on the plight of Cyclone victims, on orders given to him by higher authorities.

Ein Khaing Oo is reportedly charged under section 505(b) of the Criminal Code, crime against public tranquility and could face up to two years in prison and a fine if found guilty.

The lawyer said, her family members also came for the hearing but the court adjourn and fixed July 31 for the next hearing of her case.

Ein Khaing Oo along with Kyaw Kyaw Thant was arrested in front of the UNDP office in Natmauk Street in Tamwe Township, while covering on the plight of about 30 cyclone victims who have marched from South Dagon Township to seek for assistance from International aid agencies on June 10.

Cyclone donors should set up monitoring body: HRW

The New York based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged donors helping Burma's cyclone victims to form an independent monitoring body to ensure that their relief material is not manipulated by the repressive Burmese regime.

Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, in a statement, said with the complex nature and exceptional challenges faced by the donor community in funding, implementing, and monitoring humanitarian and reconstruction projects in Burma, donors should establish an 'Independent Monitoring Body.'

"This body should be co-managed by the donor community and the United Nations to ensure the integrity of the reconstruction and humanitarian effort, and to provide transparency and accountability in the effort," Adams added.

"We believe that such a body could help ensure that all relief to Burma is transparent and reaches the right people," said David Scott Mathieson, HRW's Burma consultant.

HRW, in an open letter to donors, said they should consult affected communities, monitor reconstruction efforts, to avoid working with Burmese officials under international sanctions and to establish an independent monitoring body.

Mathieson said such a body will help in balancing all the sides, and "then the aid donors would feel more confident in giving money."

He added that it is important for both donors and victims to have such a monitoring body to ensure that there are no irregularities on the part of the Burmese military junta, also known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and see that the money goes to the right people in the right community.

Recently, the Australian government pledged to contribute a further US$ 30 million and New Zealand US$ 2 million for relief and reconstruction work in Burma's Irrawaddy delta.

Mathieson said transparency and accountability of relief distribution could help in raising funds from donor countries as it will be clear to all on how the funds are being used.

"We have concerns that there could be corruption [on aid distribution] or irregularity that's why we call for an independent monitoring body," said Mathieson.

The HRW also urged donors to use reconstruction projects to promote human rights in Burma, to agree on basic principles of aid and to press the Burmese military junta to adhere to them.

"For many years, Burma's generals have hindered rather than helped the delivery of aid," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch in the press statement.

"Basic principles should be agreed upon by donors, and they must press the government to adhere to them every step of the way," added Adams.

The HRW condemned the Burmese junta for arresting several local aid workers and volunteers who are helping cyclone survivors in the Irrawaddy delta.

UN Says Burma Faces 'Second Emergency'

SINGAPORE — Survivors of Burma's Cyclone Nargis face a "second emergency" unless relief efforts receive an influx of US $1 billion in international aid over the next three years, according to the first full assessment of the disaster.

The joint report, released Monday by the UN, the Burmese regime and Southeast Asia's main bloc, provides for the first time a comprehensive breakdown of the survivors' needs in the aftermath of the May 2-3 disaster—details foreign donors have demanded as a condition for aid.

The report puts the damage from the cyclone that devastated the Irrawaddy delta and parts of Rangoon at $4 billion. Infrastructure and asset losses amounted to about $1.7 billion and loss of income was estimated at $2.3 billion.

It paints a dismal picture of the impact of the storm, which killed at least 84,537 people. Another 53,836 are missing and presumed dead.

A wall of water destroyed 450,000 homes and damaged 350,000, the report said. About 75 percent of health facilities were damaged, as were 4,000 or more schools.

In mid-June, 55 percent of survivors had rations enough for only one day or less.

Australia to give aid to Myanmar

SINGAPORE (AP) -- Australia announced Wednesday an extra $29 million in aid for survivors of Myanmar's May cyclone, but pressed its recalcitrant military junta to democratize quickly and respect human rights.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he informed his Myanmar counterpart, Nyan Win, of the aid during a meeting Tuesday on the sidelines of an annual security meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its Asian and Western dialogue partners in Singapore.

Smith also called on the junta to ensure that general elections in 2010 will be free and fair and will allow the political opposition, including long detained pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, to participate.

"We want to see Myanmar return to respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law and we want to see democracy return to Myanmar," Smith said he told Win.

Nyan Win gave "the usual Myanmar reaction," Smith said, referring to the junta's customary explanation that it is fulfilling a promise to reform under a long announced roadmap to democracy.

Discrimination over aid distribution among cyclone victims: new report

New Delhi – Discrimination is evident in distribution of aid, with many victims of Cyclone Nargis still not getting adequate relief material being disbursed by international aid groups including the United Nations agencies, a new report said.

The new report, 'An Alternative Assessment of the Humanitarian Assistance in the Irrawaddy Delta', released by an independent Burmese researcher, said even more than two months after the cyclone, several victims in remote areas are still struggling in the absence of proper aid supplies.

Ko Shwe, author of the report, said he travelled extensively to cyclone-hit areas, particularly to Laputta and Ngaputaw townships in Burma's southwestern Irrawaddy delta. He said there is lack of proper coordination among aid groups including local nongovernmental organizations.

"In some places there is overlapping of relief supplies," Ko Shwe, a Burmese environmentalist based in Thailand, told Mizzima.
o Shwe, in his report, said there is a lack of strategic coordination amongst UN agencies, international agencies and local groups including local NGOs and social groups, in the delivery of relief, data collection, impact assessment and information sharing, which is leading to overlapping in relief distribution.

The report said there are questions of accountability, transparency in aid distribution as it is often conducted through junta-backed civil organization – the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA).

"It is questionable how much aid is actually being delivered to the affected communities," Ko Shwe said.

According to an aid worker in Laputta, who spoke to Mizzima earlier over telephone, most aid distribution, done through the government, is carried out by members of the USDA, who are giving priority and help its members affected by the cyclone.

While the government has assigned several national companies to construct houses in the affected areas, the report said it is unclear who will be provided with these houses and villagers in Laputta townships are seen repairing and reconstructing their own houses with locally available resources.

Three more Rohingya refugees die of starvation in Lada camp

Three more Burmese Rohingya refugees in the unofficial Lada camp died of starvation in July 2 to 19. They have been facing severe food crisis because incessant heavy rain and consequent lack of work to support their families, said Olison Majee from the camp.

Cyclone-battered fisheries worsen Myanmar's pain

Cyclone Nargis, which struck in early May, killed 84,500 people and left 54,000 missing, according to the ruling junta, in the worst natural disaster in Myanmar's modern history and the world's fifth deadliest in the past 40 years. Of the dead, 27,000 were fishermen, the regime says, although aid workers believe the actual number is far higher.

The U.N. food agency says more than 100,000 fishermen have been affected and some 50,000 acres of fish ponds destroyed.

The storm also destroyed boats, nets, jetties and processing plants, crippling a top export revenue earner in one of the world's poorest nations. Last year, Myanmar exported some 350,000 tons of seafood to European and Asian countries, much of it from the vast delta with its long coastline and spider web of rivers.

[1] Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's democracy leader, has said that "Total is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma." For more information about Total Oil's investment in Burma see the Burma Campaign UK website:

[2] The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems:

[3] Burma joins Somalia in 179th place as the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International 2007 index rankings:

[4] Human Rights Watch report on Child Soldiers in Burma:

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