Ban’s visit may not have achieved any visible outcome, but the people of Burma will remember what he promised: "I have come to show the unequivocal shared commitment of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar. I am here today to say: Myanmar – you are not alone."


Without participation of Aung San Suu Kyi, without her being able to campaign freely, and without her NLD party [being able] to establish party offices all throughout the provinces, this [2010] election may not be regarded as credible and legitimate. ­
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးေန

အဖြဲ႕အစည္းအသီးသီးမွေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားခင္ဗ်ား ဒီဇင္ဘာလ (၁၀) ရက္ အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးေန႔ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသည္လည္း လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးကို ေလးစားလိုက္နာရန္ လက္မွတ္ေရးထိုးထားေသာ အဖြဲ႔၀င္ႏိုင္ငံတခု ျဖစ္သည္။ သို႔ေသာ္လည္း သမၼတဦးသိန္းစိန္ ဦးေဆာင္ေနေသာ စစ္အစိုးရသည္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ားကို ေလးစားလိုက္နာရန္ ယေန႔တိုင္ ပ်က္ကြက္ေနဆဲျဖစ္သည္။ ထိုေၾကာင့္ ဂ်ပန္ႏိုင္ငံေရာက္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသားမ်ားသည္လည္း အမိႏိုင္ငံတြင္ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရးမ်ား ဆိပ္သုန္းေနေၾကာင္း ေဖၚျပရန္တာ၀န္ရွိသည့္အားေလွ်ာ္စြာ ဂ်ပန္ေရာက္ ျမန္မာ့ဒီမိုကေရစီအင္အားစုတို႔မွ စုေပါင္းက်င္းပျပဳလုပ္မည့္ ေအာက္ေဖၚျပပါ အခန္းအနားသို႔ တက္ေရာက္ၾကပါရန္ ႏုိးေဆာ္အပ္ပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံမွာ ဥပေဒမဲ့သတ္ျဖတ္မႈေတြ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး ခ်ိဳးေဖါက္မႈေတြ အျဖစ္အပ်က္မ်ားစြာ ဆက္လက္ျဖစ္ေပၚေနဆဲ ျဖစ္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္းကို shibuya UN ရုံေရွ႕က်င္းပမည့္ လႈပ္ရွားမႈ ပူးေပါင္းပါဝင္ေပးဖို႔ ထပ္မွန္ ဖိတ္ၾကားအပ္ပါသည္။ က်င္းပမည့္ေန႕ ၁၀-၁၂-၂၀၁၄ (ဗုဒၶဟူးေန႕) က်င္းပမည့္အခ်ိန္ ၃း၀၀ - ၄း၀၀ က်င္းပမည့္ေနရာ Shibuya ( United Nation UN ရုံးေရွ႕ ) ေလးစားစြာျဖင့္ Sent from my iPhone __._,_.___ Posted by: Mai Kyaw Oo


Sudden Cambodian worker exodus to hit Thai businesses

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Vorasit Satienlerk BANGKOK/SA KAEW Thailand Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:27am BST (Reuters) - Thai officials said on Tuesday that the mass departure of Cambodian labourers would dent the economy as thousands more migrant workers, fearing reprisals from the new military government, poured across the border. Around 170,000 Cambodian workers have headed home in the past week, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), although the exodus is now slowing. Many left after hearing rumours that Thailand's junta was bent on cracking down on illegal migrants. A Cambodian minister said Thailand had sent the workers home without consulting his government. Thai military authorities, he said, would be held responsible for any loss of life. The generals who seized power on May 22 to end six months of political turmoil have promised no action against those working legally in Thailand. But junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha pledged last week to "tighten" laws applied to foreign labourers. "I admit there must be some impact on business, but I don't know to what extent," Sihasak Phuanketkeow, the foreign ministry's permanent secretary, told reporters after assuring Cambodia's ambassador that the military planned no crackdown. The junta blames the departures on "unfounded rumours" of imminent action against illegal workers. Tanit Numnoi, a senior Ministry of Labour official, said workers could return once their papers were in order. But Cambodians heading down the potholed roads to the border in packed buses and trucks were having none of it. Kiew Thi, 38, said it had taken him hours to reach the checkpoint. "I'm going back because I'm afraid soldiers are going to come and get us," he said. Like others, he had been drawn to a job in the Thai fishing industry by monthly wages of 8,000 baht ($250) (147.23 pounds), considerably more than he could earn at home. In Phnom Penh, Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the Thai army had consulted no one about sending workers home. "The army has rushed to deport workers who are considered illegal without prior notice or discussion with Cambodia or at least making contact with provinces along the borders," he told a university graduation ceremony. "I think the current Thai army leadership must be held responsible for all the problems that have occurred, including the loss of life." Thai police say six Cambodian workers and a Thai driver were killed last weekend when a pick-up truck overturned on its way to the border. Thirteen people were injured. DOING THE JOBS THAIS DON'T WANT The Thai economy, Southeast Asia's second-largest, is heavily dependent on migrant workers, mostly from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Migrants cross porous borders to perform jobs most Thais are unwilling to do in labour-intensive sectors. "This will definitely impact the construction industry, particularly along the eastern seaboard of Thailand, a key economic region. It will also affect agriculture as some fruit orchards rely on Cambodian workers," Vallop Vitanakorn, Vice- Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, told Reuters. "But I believe once they have their work documents in order most of them will return, perhaps within a month or two." The labour ministry says there are more than 2 million legally registered foreign workers in Thailand. More than half come from neighbouring Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. But Burmese labourers have not joined the rush to the border and rights groups told Reuters they were trying to allay any fears of impending deportation. A national verification programme requires migrants to secure passports at home in order to apply for, or renew, Thai work permits. Thai officials had previously turned a blind eye to many provisions of employment laws. Military authorities now propose policies with nationalist overtones, including the creation of economic zones for migrant workers in border areas in order to free up more jobs for Thais. Sihasak, the foreign affairs ministry's top official, said there could be a positive spin-off from the departures. "This will be a good thing for the country because we can put in order the workforce and make it legal," he said. "We don't want foreign workers to be exploited by their employers." The flow of migrants had eased somewhat over the past 24 hours, according to Brett Dickson, the IOM's team leader in the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet. "There are a lot of Cambodian military trucks picking people up and people are getting out of here within a couple of hours," he said. "The next challenge is helping those who want to return to Thailand in the next few months get proper work documents in order." (Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat in Bangkok and Juarawee Kittisilpa in Sa Kaew; Editing by Ron Popeski, Alex Richardson and Ian Geoghegan)


Woodworkers arrested on march to Mandalay-June 9, Democratic Voice of Burma

June 9, Democratic Voice of Burma Woodworkers arrested on march to Mandalay Twelve people were arrested on Saturday for their involvement in a workers’ rights demonstration in Mandalay. Among those arrested were ten protest leaders and two negotiators. Several hundred employees of the Chinese-owned Lucky Treasure woodcutting factory in Sinkkaing Township, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, were intercepted by about 500 police officers as they tried to march to Mandalay, according to the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB). The demonstration was the latest of four strikes at the factory, beginning in June 2012. Aung Linn, chairman of the FTUB, said that workers at the factory have had ongoing disagreements with management over problematic contracts. “There were about four strikes,” he said. “The first one lasted half a day on 17 June, 2012, when the workers were asking to have a holiday on Sundays. The second time, Khine Min, a labour union leader, was arrested for two weeks.” Aung Lin explained that the situation escalated in March 2014 when the factory owners broke an agreement with employees. This time, he said, workers were unhappy with contract renewals proposed by management. The new contracts would require all employees to undergo a three-month probationary period at the start of the term, regardless of how long they have worked there. The new agreement also gives management the right to arbitrarily terminate employment, he said. Union leaders also said that as a result of the unrest, the Border Affairs Ministry deployed 28 administrators to pressure the workers to quit their jobs. “Authorities pressured the workers,” said Thet Htun Aung of FTUB. “They arrested our leaders they threatened us, they approached workers’ families and told them to accept compensation and leave their jobs or the military would dismantle their protest site”. Thet Htun Aung added that 14 workers accepted money from the authorities and abandoned their jobs. The detained activists each face three charges, including violation of Article 505(b) of Burma’s penal code. The article has often been used to punish activists under the sweeping premise of intent to cause fear or alarm among civilians. Trade unions are still finding their footing in Burma. Enactment of the Labour Organisation Law in October 2011 gave citizens the right to form unions of more than 30 members for the first time in decades. The law repealed the draconian Trade Unions Act of 1962, which wholly outlawed unionisation. Link:


Limited understanding of child sexual abuse in the South East Asia puts children at risk

Bangkok, Thailand Many adults and children in Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam have a limited understanding of what constitutes child sexual abuse and how to prevent it, revealed a new report, Sex, Abuse and Childhood: A study about knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to child sexual abuse, including in travel and tourism, in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. The report, released today by Project Childhood Prevention Pillar, found that most children and adults understood child sexual abuse narrowly as the penetrative rape of girls. Other sexually abusive acts (such as inappropriate touching or exposure to pornography) were not generally recognised as well as the sexual abuse of boys. “Limited understanding of child sexual abuse by children and adults means that cases can go undetected ,” says Aarti Kapoor, Program Manager, Project Childhood Prevention Pillar. “We know that child sexual abuse often begins with grooming children, inappropriate speech and touching and escalates to more serious forms of abuse over time. Child sex offenders are often known to the family and target both girls and boys; however there was little understanding of this amongst the people we talked to.” More than 600 children and adults in Thailand, Vietnam, Lao PDR and Cambodia were interviewed in the study that was released today in Bangkok, Thailand, on the eve of International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. Of all the groups interviewed, parents had the lowest levels of understanding on the issue of child sexual abuse. “Lack of awareness of the basics of child sexual abuse means that parents are unlikely to identify risks and cases early within abusive relationships”, says Afrooz Kaviani Johnson, Technical Director, Project Childhood Prevention Pillar. “Parents might miss opportunities to intervene and a lack of understanding can also affect their overall response to the needs of the child.” The report recommends child sexual abuse prevention education, particularly for parents and carers, children and community members. “We know from international experience that child sexual abuse prevention education is an effective preventative mechanism to build resilience against abuse in vulnerable communities”, says Ms Aarti Kapoor. “Children and adults need the information, skills and strategies to protect children from all kinds of sexual abuse – whether committed by a stranger, foreigner, local person, friend or family member”. The full report, Sex, Abuse and Childhood: A study about knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to child sexual abuse, including in travel and tourism, in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, an Executive Summary and Key Findings snapshot are available for download at Media enquiries: Mark Nonkes, Regional Communications Officer - East Asia contact: About Project Childhood Project Childhood is a 4-year Australian Government initiative to combat the sexual exploitation of children in tourism in the Mekong sub-region which is completing in June 2014. Project Childhood has built on Australia’s long-term support for programs that better protect children and prevent their abuse. Project Childhood brought together World Vision and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to address the serious issue of sexual exploitation of children in tourism. The project worked in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam and took a dual prevention and protection approach. World Vision took a child safe tourism approach in working with governments and communities to prevent children from becoming victims of sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. Through the use of education and training, public campaigns, and strengthening of child helplines; governments, communities, and tourism industries are better aware of the vulnerabilities of at-risk children to sexual exploitation in travel and tourism and better equipped to build a protective environment. UNODC worked with law enforcement agencies to protect children through strengthening law enforcement responses. Through the increased knowledge of law enforcement and stronger regional and international cooperation, governments are better equipped to identify and counter child sexual exploitation.


More workers joining trade unions in Wales

Business Wales Trade unions Membership of Trade Unions is on the increase in Wales Credit: Press Association Images Membership of trade unions across the UK is falling, but Wales is bucking the trend. Recent figures show that 40,000 more workers were members of trade unions in 2013, compared to 2012. Unison welcomed the increase in numbers. A spokesperson said, "Trade unions are as important now as they have ever been. Workers would not have annual leave, maternity and paternity leave, and sick leave if it weren't for trade unions." At their in 1979 peak trade unions membership reached over 13 million across the UK. Since then the numbers have been steadily declining as the world of work has changed. The workforce in industries such as mining, which were traditionally heavily unionised, has shrunk dramatically. Experts say the growth in Wales might be because younger people are more likely to join unions if their parents were members.


Labor's Digital Displacement

Digital technologies are once again transforming global value chains and, with them, the structure of the global economy. What do businesses, citizens, and policymakers need to know as they scramble to keep up? Digitally enabled supply chains initially increased efficiency and dramatically shortened lead times. Capital was mobile; labor less so. Economic activity (production, research, design, etc.) moved to any accessible country or region that had relatively inexpensive labor and human capital. With only a slight lag, complexity became manageable, and global supply chains’ linear model (something produced in country A is consumed in country B) gave way to a more complex model with more fragmented but more efficient supply networks. Meanwhile, a dramatic shift occurred on the demand side, as emerging economies grew and became middle-income countries. Developing country producers, who in an earlier era accounted for a relatively small fraction of global demand, became major consumers. Global supply networks shifted again, accommodating fragmentation and dispersion on both the supply and demand sides of their structure, a process sometimes called technologically enabled atomization: the division of supply networks into finer and finer parts, breaking the bonds of proximity and the resulting transaction-cost constraints that previously prevailed. For example, many services related to intermediate and final demand require knowledge, expertise, information, and communication for their delivery. What they do not require is geographical nearness or the physical movement of goods. They represent a large share of the global economy, and they are gravitating rapidly toward the tradable sector, with increasingly powerful digital and information technology chasing imperfectly mobile human resources and new rapidly growing markets. In the course of this transformation, millions of people joined the global economy, with wide-ranging consequences–many of which remain challenging–for poverty, prices, wages, and income distributions. Now comes a second, potentially even more powerful, wave of digital technology that is replacing labor in increasingly complex tasks. This process of labor substitution and disintermediation has been underway for some time in service sectors–think of ATMs, online banking, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, mobile payment systems, and much more. This revolution is spreading to the production of goods, where robots and 3D printing are displacing labor. It is important to understand the economics of these technologies. The vast majority of the cost comes at the start, in the design of hardware (like sensors) and, more important, in creating the software that produces the capability to carry out various tasks. Once this is achieved, the marginal cost of the hardware is relatively low (and declines as scale rises), and the marginal cost of replicating the software is essentially zero. With a huge potential global market to amortize the upfront fixed costs of design and testing, the incentives to invest are compelling. In other words, unlike the preceding wave of digital technology, which motivated firms to gain access to and deploy underutilized pools of valuable labor around the world, the driving force in this round is cost reduction via the replacement of labor. This transformation has important side effects. For physical goods, there are costs associated with logistics and lead times, owing to inventories and poor forecasts of the market. With digital capital-intensive technology, however, production will inevitably move toward the final market, wherever it is. This re-localization constitutes a major shift in the structure of global supply networks. An extreme form of this may be coming in the form of 3D printing, a technology that makes it possible to produce an astonishingly wide and growing range of products by printing them one layer at a time. Examples include buildings, athletic shoes, designer lamps, aircraft wings, and much more. As the costs of this technology decline, it is easy to imagine that production will become extremely local and customized. Moreover, production may occur in response to actual demand, not anticipated or forecast demand. In some sense, this represents the ultimate compression of supply chains, as firms produce to final demand with minimal delay. Meanwhile, the impact of robotics (another technology with digital foundations), is not confined to production. Though self-driving cars and drones are the most attention-getting examples, the impact on logistics is no less transformative. Computers and robotic cranes that schedule and move containers around and load ships now control the Port of Singapore, one of the most efficient in the world. Developing countries in the early stages of growth need to understand these trends. Labor, no matter how inexpensive, will become a less important asset for growth and employment expansion, with labor-intensive, process-oriented manufacturing becoming a less effective way for early-stage developing countries to enter the global economy. Re-localization will be seen everywhere, including lower-income countries. Production will not vanish; it will just be less labor intensive. All countries will eventually need to rebuild their growth models around digital technologies and the human capital that supports their deployment and expansion. The retail sector, too, is being transformed. Online retail and supporting logistics is expanding in a wide range of advanced and developing economies. In China, where the expansion is occurring extremely quickly, estimates suggest that only part of the expansion is at the expense of traditional retail. In fact, online retail appears to be accelerating the expansion of the overall consumer market. Knowledgeable participants expect the new retail model to be an integrated form of online and physical retail, each modified by the presence of the other. Think again of the 3D printing model, a potential form of demand-driven mass-customization, and its combination with online mobile payments systems and social media. The integration of sourcing with logistics and retail will become the third leg of the stool. The world we are entering is one in which the most powerful global flows will be ideas and digital capital, not goods, services, and traditional capital. Adapting to this will require shifts in mindsets, policies, investments (especially in human capital), and quite possibly models of employment and distribution. No one knows fully how all of this will play out. But attempting to understand where the technological forces and trends are leading us is a good place to start. This article originally appeared on


World Cup Host Qatar Ranked Among Worst Places to Work by Unions

By Robert Tuttle May 22, 2014 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Qatar, which pledged to improve labor safety standards as 2022 World Cup construction projects get under way, was ranked among the worst violators of workers rights in a report by the International Trade Union Confederation. The Persian Gulf country was given the lowest score of five, which places it among “the worst countries in the world to work in,” the ITUC, a group representing trade unions around the world, said in its 2014 Global Rights Index. Authorities said last week that Qatar will amend labor laws after the death of dozens of immigrant workers on construction projects drew a storm of criticism from human rights and labor groups. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, is expected to rely mostly on migrant labor from countries such as Nepal and India to build $200 billion of roads, stadiums, a subway system and other projects before it hosts the most-watched sporting event. Story: The 2022 FIFA World Cup Could Be Deadly for Qatar's Migrant Workers In a category five country, “while the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labor practices,” the ITUC said. U.K. newspaper The Guardian reported in September that 44 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar between June 4 and Aug. 8 amid “appalling labor abuses.” The Nepali Embassy later said 53 Nepalis had died. Amnesty International said in a November report that workers in Qatar often weren’t paid wages, were subject to “harsh and dangerous” working conditions and “shocking standards of accommodation.” The group documented the cases of dozens of workers who were prevented from leaving the country for many months by their employers. Story: Scenes From the Fast-Food Worker Protests Spreading Overseas The ITUC also gave a score of five to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain received a score of 4, a country with “systematic violations.” It ranked countries including Uruguay, South Africa and France among the best for worker protections. To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at Amy Teibel, Dana El Baltaji


Sex Slavery A $99-Billion Industry, ILO Report Estimates

Sex slavery is by far the most profitable form of involuntary labour, a $99-billion annual industry that accounts for two-thirds of all the profits made from modern forced labour, according to a report from the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO). The news highlights the fundamental problem for those seeking to eradicate forced labour: Not paying workers is highly profitable, and what’s highly profitable usually finds a way to happen. According to the ILO’s report The Economics of Forced Labour, the illegal profits obtained through the practice amount to an estimated $150.2 billion per year. Put another way, forced labour creates enough wealth every year to equal the sales of Apple’s iPhone over five frenzied years. Story continues below Loading Slideshow •10. Bangladesh - 343,192 slavesSource: Global Slavery Index. All numbers are estimates. •9. Myanmar - 384,037 slaves •8. D.R. Congo - 462,327 slaves •7. Thailand - 472,811 slaves •6. Russia - 516,217 slaves •5. Ethiopia - 651,110 slaves •4. Nigeria - 701,032 slaves •3. Pakistan - 2,127,132 slaves •2. China - 2,949,243 slaves •1. India - 13,956,010 slaves Countries With The Most Slaves1 of 11 Hide Thumbnails Getty ImagesNext Share TweetFullscreen1 of 11Play All10. Bangladesh - 343,192 slavesSource: Global Slavery Index. All numbers are estimates.Advertisement× By the ILO’s definition of forced labour, there are an estimated 20.9 million modern-day slaves, including 4.5 million who are victims of sexual exploitation. Another 14.2 million are “victims of forced labour exploitation, primarily in agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing, mining and utilities.” Fifty-five per cent of victims are female, and one-quarter are below the age of 18. That slavery is astronomically profitable is hardly news. One just has to ask how 19th-century cotton farmers in the U.S. south could afford to live in mansions like this: The Pillars cotton plantation in Lowndesboro, Alabama, was built in 1857 by a cotton farmer. The difference between a regular farmhouse and that mansion — that’s slave labour’s contribution. In the modern world, forced labour is more hidden but just as profitable. It’s especially profitable when it happens in the developed world. A forced labourer there creates more than $30,000 of profit each year, compared to the global average of $4,800 of profit per forced labourer. The Global Slavery Index, from Australian human rights group Walk Free Foundation, estimates there are more than 59,000 people employed in forced labour in the United States and more than 5,800 in Canada. And sexual exploitation is far and away the most profitable field in which forced labour is used. Sex slavery profits are nearly ten times as high as profits from forced agricultural and domestic labour. This is apparently because of “the demand for such services and the prices that clients are willing to pay,” the ILO report says. Additionally, sex slavery has “low capital investments and low operating costs.” Though it may be profitable, the ILO’s director-general, Guy Ryder, says forced labour is ultimately bad for business and for society as a whole. “It is a practice that has no place in modern society. And it’s time that we act together, to eradicate this hugely profitable, but fundamentally evil source of shame once and for all,” he said in a statement.


Myanmar's Pending Ceasefire Jeopardized by Skirmishes Over Illegal Logging

This year timber trafficking from Myanmar to China is believed to be at an all-time high.. A boat carries teak trunks down the Irrawaddy River. After being shipped downriver, illegally harvested timber is often loaded onto trucks and driven to China. PHOTOGRAPH BY THIERRY FALISE, LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES .By Hereward Holland for National Geographic Published May 20, 2014 Myanmar's forests are the final frontier for the logging of tropical hardwoods in mainland Southeast Asia. Until a few weeks ago as many as a hundred timber trucks a day rolled through Marip Brang Mai's village in Kachin State, northeastern Myanmar, a couple of hours' walk from the country's border with China. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military branch of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), has been fighting a slow-burn civil war for autonomy, on and off, for more than 50 years. Before April 2014 the group controlled a strip of borderland that has served as a major timber-smuggling route between Myanmar's dwindling lowland forests and China, Asia's emergent superpower. Then, at 10:30 a.m. on April 11, after two days of heavy clashes with Myanmar's army, the KIA started to withdraw from its outpost controlling both Marip Brang Mai's village and the coveted Nongdao border crossing. Later that afternoon, as explosions got closer to their farm, Marip Brang Mai gathered his wife, three children, and some other relatives. Terrified, they fled into the jungle, but too late. The jagged shards of a Myanmar army mortar shell ripped through Marip Brang Mai's right arm, neck, and abdomen. "I couldn't walk, so my brother-in-law carried me," he said, recovering in a Chinese hospital. In a communiqué, Myanmar's army, known as the Tatmadaw, said the offensive was aimed at halting the black market logging trade, which accounts for almost three-quarters of the country's wood exports, according to the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Indeed, in the past year the KIO said it earned around 50 million Chinese yuan ($8 million U.S.) from tolls on the 18-ton timber trucks traversing KIO territory, some 80 percent of which passed into China via Nongdao. Marip Brang Mai doubts the sincerity of the Tatmadaw's green ambitions. "I can't believe the Myanmar army," he said, wincing as he adjusted his elbow, which is held together with a dozen metal pins. Conservationists and the KIO say the Tatmadaw has long been in cahoots with the smugglers. They describe the army's communiqué as a flimsy pretext for controlling a lucrative border crossing while denying the KIO a major revenue stream at a pivotal time in peace negotiations. For the most part, tolls on gold and jade have kept the KIO's operations going. But this year, KIO coffers have been furnished by the tolls collected from the China-bound illegal timber traffic, according to conservationists and KIO officials. A lone tree stands on a bare hillside south of the Kachin Independence Organization's headquarters in Laiza. The KIO banned commercial logging in its territory in 2002, after most logging concessions there were exhausted. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEREWARD HOLLANDStrife in the Borderlands A patchwork of 17 rebel ethnic armies hemming the country's borders have long reacted to the thuggish hegemony of the majority ethnic Bamar, who dominate Myanmar's central government, by taking up arms. With an estimated 8,000 troops, the KIO is Myanmar's second largest rebel group, after the United Wa State Army. The KIO is also the last major group to resist signing a nationwide ceasefire that would bring one of the world's longest-running civil wars closer to an end. Formed in 1961, the KIO originally sought independence for the Kachin ethnic minority. But it's now fighting for autonomy within a federalized state and is demanding fundamental changes to Myanmar's military-drafted constitution of 2008. "The revolution won't stop till we get equal rights in the country," said Zau Tawng, head of the KIO's strategic command. Timber trucks heading for China line the road in Laiza. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEREWARD HOLLAND"Disciplined Democracy" Three years ago Myanmar's ruling junta traded in their fatigues and started a westward shift in geopolitical alliance, seen as an attempt to balance China's expanding orbit by increasing diplomatic and economic ties with Europe and the United States. The path to "disciplined democracy" heralded the gradual denouement of decades of ruinous misrule. But to complete the country's political and economic transformation, President Thein Sein and his coterie of reformers, who came to power after winning a deeply flawed election in late 2010, need to make peace with the Kachin and other armed rebel groups in the borderlands. While parts of the country play backdrop to hundreds of thousands of selfie-snapping tourists, it's easy to forget the ongoing civil war that has gripped large portions of those borderlands for more than half a century. Stability would open up Myanmar's markets to regional transport routes, draw investment, allow development in long-neglected areas, and earn legitimacy from Western embassies. But mistrust lingers, not least because two months after assuming power in March 2011, Thein Sein's reformers began fresh offensives against the KIO. That campaign ended 17 years of uneasy truce in Kachin State, in which the absence of war fell well short of peace or a resolution to the KIO's grievances. "Thein Sein's government does not really have the political will to bring peace in the country. They just want to win favor among the international community," said Sumlut Gam, leader of the KIO's negotiation team. Marip Brang Mai, a civilian hit by a Myanmar army mortar shell while fleeing fighting near a major smuggling route in April, is visited by his wife while he recovers in a hospital in China. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEREWARD HOLLANDDon't Break a Leaf Britain began to annex Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989) in the 1850s, in part to secure the abundant teak resources it was consuming to build ships and railway ties across the British Empire. Strict forestry laws were imposed—it became an offense even to break a leaf from a teak tree—and a sustainable timber industry flourished. After independence in 1948, the government of Burma implemented a series of disastrous, sometimes bizarre, reforms that threw the economy into a tailspin. (In one instance in the late 1980s, the government demonetized the 75, 35, and 25 kyat banknotes, among others, wiping out people's savings.) Facing bankruptcy, the military junta fired up the chain saws. "After independence we had to overcut ... because we needed to, for the interests of the country," said Shwe Kyaw, chairman of the Myanmar Forest Certification Committee. The best available figures indicate that Myanmar lost almost 20 percent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2011, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Surprisingly, well-meaning activists from Europe and the U.S. share some of the blame, Shwe Kyaw claims. The junta refused to step down after it lost the 1990 elections by a landslide. Goaded by activists and campaign groups, Western countries then imposed biting economic sanctions, further isolating the hermitic regime. In response, the military government flogged timber concessions to Chinese-backed crony businessmen to help prop up its rule, legalizing the plunder of the forests. "Due to the sanctions ... we had to try to get hard currency," Shwe Kyaw said at his office in the commercial capital, Yangon, monsoon rain lashing down outside. "In that case teak is one of the important resources; there was a lot of pressure." Official hardwood exports grew more than eightfold, from less than 150,000 cubic meters in the 1994-95 felling season to 1,200,000 cubic meters in 2009-10, according to government figures. Official exports are the tip of the iceberg. A trade analysis by the EIA shows that there were 16.5 million cubic meters of unauthorized log exports between 2000 and 2013, worth some $5.7 billion. According to Shwe Kyaw, smuggling timber is a cinch: The complicity of local officials, combined with the remoteness of some forests, makes it difficult for the central government to control logging. "Local authorities will negotiate. There's a bribery and corruption racket." Two people on a motorbike are allowed to cross a KIA checkpoint north of the organization's headquarters in Laiza. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEREWARD HOLLANDKIO Proto-State The six-hole course at the Laiza Golf Club, built by the KIO in 2007, is sandwiched between a steep hillside and a river that marks the Chinese border. Stray balls frequently land in another time zone, an hour and a half in the future. On most days a handful of KIO top brass drive, pitch, and putt their way around the course, just three miles from the hilltop occupied by the Tatmadaw front line, the site of heavy fighting in January 2013. Backed by helicopter gunships and fighter jets, the army captured several positions but stopped just short of seizing Laiza, the KIO headquarters. The sophistication of the KIO's administration (and its leaders' choice of hobbies) suggests that this is far more than a ragtag band of militiamen running around the jungle. The KIO operates a small but well-organized proto-state. There's a centralized toll taxation system, hydropower plants supplying 24-hour electricity, hospitals, schools, a police force, a drug rehab center, and an arms factory making knockoff Kalashnikov assault rifles, Type 81s. KIO bosses resent being labeled as rebels, preferring "revolutionary armed group." At the golf clubhouse, La Nan, spokesman for the KIO's political wing, advised how those seemingly innocuous semantics explain why peace has been so elusive: Rebels, he said, are mercantile while revolutionaries are political. "The government says that if our economic situation improves, we will lay down our weapons," La Nan said. "That's not right. What the KIO is trying to achieve is political rights." By that he meant the KIO wants to govern Kachin State autonomously within the federal union. It wants the right to administrate the Kachin people and what it considers their natural resources. Golden teak logs are brought by truck to Laiza before crossing into China, the final leg of the smuggling route. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEREWARD HOLLANDTimber Trafficways Under the terms of the last ceasefire with the junta, in 1994, the KIO signed away control of the prized Hpakant jade mining area in eastern Kachin State. So the KIO turned to timber. Deforestation in their territory soared, according to Global Witness, a resource watchdog. The bald and blackened hillsides south of Laiza bear the scars. In 1997 a Chinese logging firm, the Jinxin Company, was contracted by the KIO to build two hydropower dams in exchange for logging concessions. In a strange quirk of the conflict, the KIO continues to sell the hydroelectricity to government-controlled towns. In 2002, the KIO banned commercial logging in its territory and began to depend on the "taxes" levied from gold, jade smuggling, and to a lesser extent timber trafficking, he said. Nevertheless, conservationists say that this year timber trafficking to China is at an all-time high. "These days the illegal timber trade is happening because the Chinese businessmen log in [lowland] Burma and transport through our territory," explained Yaw Ding, assistant director of the KIO's economic department in Laiza. "So we just get tax." The KIO imposes a 10 yuan ($1.60) toll per metric ton of lowland teak and 20 yuan ($3.20) for the equivalent amount of rosewood, an endangered trophy hardwood. Research by National Geographic during a ten-day trip to the area in late April 2014 supports the KIA's claim that the timber now entering China wasn't logged in its upland enclave. Rather, the golden teak, rosewood, and other hardwoods are felled in the Sagaing Region in northwestern Myanmar, home to some of Southeast Asia's last remaining forests. "This year there's the highest volumes of timber people have ever seen, and it's coming from Sagaing," said Tony Neil, forest governance adviser for EcoDev. "None of the timber is coming from Kachin." Most logs are pulled up the Irrawaddy River to Shwegu, where they're loaded onto trucks and driven east. Some pass through Bhamo or Sinbo and, after crossing the front line into KIO territory, slip into China via Laiza. Since October 2013, said Yaw Ding, some 80 percent of the timber traffic passed through the town of Man Si, then along small dirt roads through villages like Marip Brang Mai's and finally, via the Nongdao border crossing, into China. En route, the timber must pass through numerous checkpoints controlled by the Tatmadaw. "The smugglers have to pay bribes to lower ranks of the military—private right up to general," said Zau Tawng from KIO's strategic command. "They have to pay at every step. Soldiers from all ranks make a lot of money." Zau Tawng added, "As long as the political unrest exists in the country, the illegal trade will continue because they don't have any rule of law." Logging elephants walk down a hill in the Sagaing Region, home to some of Southeast Asia's last remaining forests. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEREWARD HOLLANDPolicy Backfire On April 1 the reformist central government introduced a new ban on all unprocessed log exports out of the port of Yangon. Overland log exports to China had already been banned since 2006. The aim was to lower pressure on forest resources, free up lumber for local consumption, and cash in on the added value of processed wood. Despite the sensible intentions, that strategy has already started to backfire. Teak prices plummeted at Myanmar's April 28 log auction in Yangon because timber-processing facilities don't exist yet, creating a surplus of supply. Furthermore, conservationists fear that the measure will increase illegal log exports to China. "It could create a perverse incentive for increased pressure on overland log exports, since this will now be the only logistical way to get logs out of the country," said Kevin Woods, an analyst with Forest Trends. Under the guise of stopping illegal logging, the Tatmadaw seized the Nongdao border crossing 11 days after the new ban was put in place. Each side admits that eight Tatmadaw and three KIA soldiers were killed, while 5,000 people fled their homes, some for the second or third time. From the KIO's point of view, the Tatmadaw's April offensive was less about polishing its green credentials than depriving the rebels of a lucrative revenue stream from illicit logging tolls. The battle also severed communication lines between the KIA's third and fourth brigades, weeks before the hotly anticipated ceasefire signing. "They just want to impose some pressure on us to sign the ceasefire agreement quickly," the KIO's Zau Tawng said. That strategy has also backfired by further eroding trust at the negotiating table. Several other armed groups have now decided to reconsider signing the nationwide ceasefire. With prospects for meeting the army's August ceasefire-signing deadline slimmer than ever, Myanmar's forests will remain beleaguered.


News & Articles on Burma-10 August, 2013

--------------------------------------- Suu Kyi urges people to support amendment of Constitution Myanmar's Underground Communist Party Claims Key Role in '88 Uprising Human Rights Rapporteur to visit Chin State for the first time Featured Speaker calls for deliberations on tax rate change 2 Kachin Men on Trial after Torture by Military Interrogators NEC opens 2 offices in Myanmar China in Myanmar Myanmar has yet to build genuine democratic nation - Suu Kyi MPP refutes MHA assertion on Indo-Myanmar border fencing Myanmar takes measures to end recruitment of child soldiers Prisoners allege abuse in Myanmar Veteran BBC reporter Christopher Gunness returns to Myanmar Myawaddy border trade reopened Thai police use water cannon on Rohingya asylum seekers -------------------------------------- Suu Kyi urges people to support amendment of Constitution Mizzima: 09 Aug 2013 05:30 Written by Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint, Kay Zin Oo NLD chairman Aung San Suu Kyi speaking at the silver jubilee ceremony of Myanmars 8888 pro-democracy uprising on August 8, 2013. Photo: Hong Sar / Mizzima NLD chairman Aung San Suu Kyi speaking at the silver jubilee ceremony of Myanmars 8888 pro-democracy uprising on August 8, 2013. Photo: Hong Sar / Mizzima Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD), speaking at the silver jubilee ceremony of Myanmars 8888 pro-democracy uprising on August 8 said that people should not shy away from amending the Constitution. The NLD contested in the April 2012 by-election partly because they intend to push for amendment of the Constitution. The Constitution is composed by men. If we dare not amend it, does it not imply that living people fear something lifeless? The lifeblood of a Constitution is the citizens acceptance and trust, said Aung San Suu Kyi in her speech. She also made remarks on the rule of law and peace. She pointed out that there are delays in bringing about changes in the Constitution. If one asks whether the country has rule of law; we have to reply, No. If one asks whether peace is really established in the country; we have to say, No again. If one asks whether the Constitution has already been amended, we have to say that the amendment process has not even started yet, said Suu Kyi. She urged the people be fearless in their endeavors for the future of the country and to follow the path of non-violence in working towards a political goal. If we achieve our goals through violent means, it indicates that we are incompetent. Some people use violent ways in order to achieve their goals quickly. Achieving a goal quickly is not the same as achieving a goal through the right way. Resorting to violence to achieve a goal will inflict wounds that will take a long time to heal, Suu Kyi warned. NLD patrons Win Tin and Tin Oo, members of ethnic armed groups, USDP Vice Chairman Htay Oo and USDP Joint Secretary Thein Zaw attended the ceremony. It is the first official 8888 ceremony that was approved to be held inside the country since 1988. ------------------------------ Myanmar's Underground Communist Party Claims Key Role in '88 Uprising RFA, 2013-08-08 Hla Kyaw Zaw adorns a T-shirt with the image of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, while resting at home in Kunming in China's Yunnan province, Aug. 8, 2013. Photo courtesy of Hla Kyaw Zaw. The banned Communist Party of Burma (CPB) claims it played a key role in the 1988 student-led, pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar, saying its ironic use of "multiparty democracy" as a slogan for ousting the country's dictatorship drew popular support from the people and laid the foundation for the country's ongoing reforms. "I don't see the 1988 uprising as a failure," a key CPB leader, Hla Kyaw Zaw, told RFA's Myanmar Service from Kunming, the capital of China's southwestern Yunnan province, where she lives in exile. "Even though we did not succeed in our mission to oust the military dictatorship at that time, it helped sow the seeds of a formidable political opposition," she said in an interview in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the August 8, 1988 bloody revolt on Thursday. Her father Brigadier General Kyaw Zaw had founded Myanmar's military but joined the CPB in 1976 and moved to China, where he died last year. He and current opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's independence hero father Aung San were members of the legendary "Thirty Comrades" who trained in Japan in the struggle for independence from Britain. Aung San founded the CPB in 1939 but severed ties with it in 1946 following a rift. Support Hla Kyaw Zaw, a Party central committee member, said the CPB had set the pace for the 1988 uprising by launching a campaign to replace the dictatorship under General Ne Win with multiparty democracy. The campaign drew support from the people, who were fed up with the leader's nationalization and other programs that made Myanmar one of the world's most impoverished nations, she said. "In 1985, our party congress decided to use the multiparty democracy theme to unite all classes of people. We even sent letters to retired politicians to join the 'liberation struggle' and set up cells for the purpose," she said. Some analysts say the party used democracy as a front knowing full well the people would reject communist ideology, as it seldom encourages multiparty democracy. Hla Kyaw Zaw insisted that by introducing a campaign for multiparty democracy the CPB had "planted in the mindset" of the people the ideals of freedom, which she said helped fuel the victory of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in 1990 polls which the ruling military junta did not recognize. Hla Kyaw Zaw said that on the military front, the CPB had launched attacks from two major bases in Shan state along China's border and crushed Myanmar government forces there at the same time students were leading the uprising which began in the then capital Yangon in 1988. "The government was in a dilemma as it faced mass demonstrations in Yangon and an assault in Shan state," she said although eventually the military retook power in September 1988 and went on a brutal crackdown across the country and regained control of the situation. No government officials have ever been held accountable for the violence, which left an estimated 3,000 people dead. Reforms Asked to comment about ongoing reforms by President Thein Sein, who took over in 2011 after landmark elections and five decades of military rule, Hla Kyaw Zaw said the key to making reforms permanent is ending the armed ethnic conflicts in the country. "If such conflicts cease, the military cannot flex its muscle, and its role in the administration of the country will be minimal," she said, calling also for the 2008 constitution to be amended to end the military's powerful role. Reported by Khin Maung Soe for RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Soe and Khet Mar. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai. ----------------------------- Human Rights Rapporteur to visit Chin State for the first time Featured Friday, 09 August 2013 06:12 Written by Editor 9 August 2013: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Tom᳠Quintana, will be making his first ever visit to Chin State next week. Quintana's Chin State stop is part of an 11-day itinerary including visits to Rakhine State, Kachin State, Shan State, Meikhtila in Mandalay Region, Naypyitaw and Rangoon. The trip to Chin State shows the priority that the Special Rapporteur has given to the situation of religious and ethnic minorities. Quintana said that in addition to Rakhine State and Meikhtila, "Visiting Chin State, Kachin State and Shan State will give me an opportunity to assess the human rights situation of other religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar [Burma], and provide me with an insight into how peace negotiations are progressing." Specifically on the peace process, Quintana said: "He will be encouraging the inclusion of clauses on the promotion and protection of human rights in future political agreements with ethnic armed groups. The Chin National Front and Union-level Peace Working Committee agreement signed 9 December 2012 calls for the creation of an independent Chin Human Rights Committee, although the mandate of the body has yet to be finalized. Quintana has highlighted the human rights impacts of growth in Burma's industrial and extractive sectors, and political prisoners including people arrested for involvement in land disputes and protests against large-scale development projects as nation-wide issues which he will raise with the government. During his visit, the Special Rapporteur is scheduled to meet with government officials, members of Parliament and the judiciary, the National Human Rights Commission, and civil society in Naypyitaw and Rangoon. On 21 August, at the end of his mission, Mr. Quintana will present preliminary observations at a press conference at Rangoon International Airport at 18:15. His full report on the visit will be presented to the General Assembly on 24 October 2013. ----------------------------- Mizzima News Speaker calls for deliberations on tax rate change 09 Aug 2013 05:17 Written by Thiha Ko Ko Category: Politics Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament) Speaker Thura Shwe Man urged the Parliament to table the tax rate change bill for deliberations. He called for passing a revised tax bill instead of issuing mere notifications on tax rate change by the Ministry concerned. Speaker Thura Shwe Man stressed on the rights and duties of lawmakers guaranteed by the Constitution and the need to amend and repeal archaic laws that are not beneficial to the people or the country. Since these laws are out-of-date people find it difficult to abide by them. Union Minister Win Shein of Finance Ministry said that it would be more appropriate to levy taxes according to recommendations given by the peoples representatives. The move will also encourage people to pay their taxes to the government willingly whereby the country would receive more taxes. The Ministry would, therefore, submit a bill for amending existing laws, so that it can evolve into a realistic taxation system. This bill would have provisions to confer upon tax authorities, the authority to amend existing taxation laws. They will also be authorized to revise the rate of taxes levied by various Ministries, the Minister added. ----------------------------- 2 Kachin Men on Trial after Torture by Military Interrogators By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY| Friday, August 9, 2013 | Kachins protest in Myitkyina in July 2012 for the release of farmer Lahtaw Brang Shawng, who was freed last month as part of a presidential amnesty. (Photo: KDNG) Two ethnic Kachin men who were accused of having illegal connections to armed rebels and attacking a government office were tortured and sexually abused by the military before undergoing trial in northern Burma, their lawyer said. The two men, who were staying at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) after fighting broke out in 2011 between the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Burmese government army, were arrested in June last year and initially charged with violating the Unlawful Association Act for alleged connections to Kachin rebels. Six months later, Brang Yong and Lahpai Gum were also blamed for an earlier bombing at a township government office in the city. No casualties were reported from the bombing, which took place in December 2011, but officials said the attack caused damages worth about 4 million kyat (US $4,000) to the building and a nearby van. The charges against my clients are baseless, their attorney Boung Mai told The Irrawaddy on Friday. He said the two men were IDPs, like tens of thousands of others in the state, and had fled from their village, Gan Daung Yan. Lahpai Gums case was heard in court last week, the attorney said. Hes just an ordinary farmer, not a member of the KIO, he said. The mens trial for allegedly violating the Unlawful Association Act began in June last year, and another trial for the bombing charges began in December, according to Mah Kha, another lawyer defending them. Brang Yong and Lahpai Gum were arrested from the Shweset IDP camp near the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina in June last year and were interrogated for 10 days by Military Affairs Security at military camps. During this time they faced severe abuse, according to Boung Mai, the attorney, who says red-hot knives were placed on their bodies. The scars from their burns are still on their bodies, said Boung Mai, adding that minor scars on their legs had faded. He said the two men were sexually abused by male officers during the interrogation. They were tortured in many brutal ways. It was inhumane. Since then, the men have been detained in prison and have only been allowed to meet with their families during trial, the attorney added. During the trial, the township police presented evidence against the men based on records provided by Military Affairs Security. The accused will appear in court again on Monday, he said. Last month, a Kachin farmer, Lahtaw Brang Shawng, was released under presidential order after being sentenced to two years in prison under the Unlawful Association Act. The farmer was also arrested in June last year while staying at an IDP camp, and he was sentenced to two years in prison after being accused of having links to the KIO. He was one of 26 Kachin detainees released as part of the presidential pardon last month, which came after peace talks between the government and Kachin rebels. A total of seven people, including Brang Yong and Lahpai Gum, are still being detained on charges related to the conflict in Kachin State. ------------------------------ NEC opens 2 offices in Myanmar Business Aug. 10, 2013 - 05:52AM JST ( 0 ) TOKYO NEC Corp has opened two offices in Yangon and Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Bringing its expertise in information and communications technology (ICT) as well as social infrastructure, NEC said it sees great potential in Myanmar, which has undergone rapid economic growth in recent years. NECs more than 35 years of experience with Myanmars communications infrastructure, including telephone switchboards, wireless equipment, satellite ground stations and broadcasting systems, has set a strong foundation to continue its support of the countrys technological progress. There is tremendous growth potential in Myanmar and this is an opportune moment for NEC to contribute to the countrys IT needs. NEC will focus on providing key international communication networks, such as submarine cable systems, ICT infrastructure for industrial parks, disaster prevention systems, security systems, e-government systems and mass-market IT solutions, said Takayuki Morita, senior vice president, NEC Corporation. Following the establishment of a Yangon office in February 2013, NEC has been aiming for opportunities to contribute further to local development. --------------------------------- Opinion China in Myanmar The Statesman 10 Aug 2013 The natural gas pipeline that connects China to Bay of Bengal through Myanmar has been operationalised very recently. This is a historic development, and fulfills a cherished Chinese ambition to connect the People's Republic to the Indian Ocean as part of its two-ocean strategy... There are lessons in these developments for India as well ~ SANJAY PULIPAKA and KRISHNAN SRINIVASAN Media reports of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the democratic uprising in Myanmar have obscured a more important development. The natural gas pipeline that connects China to Bay of Bengal through Myanmar has been operationalized very recently. This is a historic development, and fulfills a cherished Chinese ambition to connect the Peoples Republic to the Indian Ocean as part of its two-ocean strategy. The Indian Ocean is critical for China, because 80 per cent of its oil imports traverse the Malacca Straits. Therefore, China is establishing a network of relationships with Indian Ocean littoral states while developing secure and diverse energy routes. The new pipeline cannot completely eliminate the Malacca Straits as a significant transit zone, but it is a part of Chinas overall strategy to reduce excessive dependence on this route. The pipeline starts at Kyaukpyu in Myanmar and terminates in Kunming in China and its completion in just three years indicates the policy consistency and determination of Beijing to ensure that its economic momentum continues to receive necessary energy resources. China is also building an oil pipeline alongside the existing gas pipeline which will begin operations next year. These two pipelines will not only carry energy resources from the gas fields in the Bay of Bengal but also transport oil from the Middle East which can be off-loaded at Kyaukpyu and conveyed to Kunming. With a capacity to deliver 22 million tons of oil and 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year, these pipelines are being described by China as its fourth largest strategic energy asset. The completion of this pipeline assumes even greater significance, given the fact that the Myitsone Dam, which was being constructed by Chinese companies in northern Myanmar, had to be suspended in 2011. Numerous concerns were advanced against the construction of the pipeline, including environmental damage, absence of proportionate benefits to local communities and the criticism that natural gas from Myanmars offshore fields was being supplied to China while the country itself was experiencing blackouts. In spite of such anxieties, the project went ahead unimpeded, clearly demonstrating Chinas continuing strong influence in Myanmar. China has been making efforts in Myanmar to improve its image through corporate social responsibility activities. For instance, Chinese media have been making the case that the pipeline companies have spent some $ 20 million for social sector development in Myanmar and made provisions for schools and health clinics. After local protests against the Chinese-backed Letpadaung copper mine project, the profit-sharing agreement was renegotiated by which the Myanmar government received a larger share of the profits and greater allocations to CSR activities were made. With this re-negotiation, it is not surprising that there are demands to re-negotiate all the Chinese projects that were signed during the previous military rule. For the Myanmar government, such re-negotiation may appear attractive not only from the perspective of equity and the necessity to achieve environmental standards, but also because it results in providing greater resources at its disposal. Given the current political transition, the availability of such additional resources would enable Naypiydaw to expand expenditure on welfare schemes without reducing the budget for institutions associated with the military. The domestic compulsions of allocating adequate resources to various political constituencies will inspire some circles within Myanmars political system to press for re-negotiation of contracts with greater vigour, and such demands for re-negotiation could lead to souring the relations between Myanmar and China. With its huge investments in Myanmar, China is being compelled to take account of the ethnic conflicts in that country. Rarely do such Chinese interventions receive general approbation, and the responses to Chinas efforts to promote ethnic reconciliation have been mixed. For instance, China played a significant role in prevailing on the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organisation to begin negotiations on a ceasefire agreement and the talks did result in a successful ceasefire agreement recently. However, the negotiations were delayed because China reportedly was uncomfortable with the presence of other international observers such as from the USA and UK. In the final discussions, the only international presence other than that of China itself was that of the United Nations, which did not go down well with some of the stakeholders involved. Given the Myanmarese inclination for re-negotiation of contracts and the tentative ethnic peace process, China has evinced some hesitation in making major new investments in Myanmar: it is reported that Chinas investments in Myanmar during 2012-13 declined to $407 million compared to $4.35 billion during the previous fiscal years. The Chinese experience in Myanmar underlines a lesson for new investors from other parts of the world, namely that the capacity to influence the current Myanmarese 鬩te does not necessarily translate into sustainable business opportunity in the long-run. There are lessons in these developments for India as well. Firstly, one of the reasons for the emergence of China as a dominant player in Myanmar is because Indias connectivity network with Myanmar is lamentably poor. As a businessman in Mandalay complained, If I place an order with Chinese business houses, the goods will be delivered in one or two days, but if I place an order with India, it may take months. Secondly, steps to ensure easy movement of goods across the India-Myanmar border must be initiated and the north-eastern state governments must be closely associated with such measures. Thirdly, it must be remembered that large numbers of Indians were expelled from Myanmar in the 1960s, allegedly for unethical business practices. Whatever the merits of such reasoning, the residual presence of such negative perceptions must be recognized and addressed through creative public diplomacy campaigns. The writers are Fellow at ICRIER / Wadhwani chair and India's former Foreign Secretary respectively ------------------------------ Myanmar has yet to build genuine democratic nation - Suu Kyi Published on Friday, 09 August 2013 16:00 The task of building a genuine democratic nation has not yet finished, said Myanmars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a message to a ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy movement in Mandalay. "The 1988 democracy movement emerged 25 years ago, and since then the struggle of those who really love democracy and human rights has not ceased. It is not wrong to say that the loyalty to that movement is the key factor in seeing signs of reform in Myanmar," Suu Kyi said in her message. Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy and Lower House MP, said the 1988 student uprising spread over the entire nation and Mandalay was among the places where the citizens actively participated in the nationwide movement. She urged the remaining democracy activists to continue to exert their efforts to promote democracy. In her speech delivered at Yangons commemorative ceremony, Suu Kyi said that Myanmar had failed to successfully implement rule of law, an internal peace process and constitutional amendments since the government embarked on a series of reforms in 2011. The lifeline of a constitution required the public trust and confidence, without which the constitution would become lifeless, the opposition leader added. "Here I urge all of you to be brave and united and to do what you should do for the good of the nation. Unity does not mean acting under an authoritative order but working under coordination and negotiation. We have to negotiate differences to seek common ground. Our ultimate goal is to live in peace," said Suu Kyi. She also called for reconciliation efforts between the people and the military. The people on their part should serve the interests of the nation taking lessons from the 1988 uprising and holding no grudge. Suu Kyi said the cause of democracy emerged due to the public strength of the people citizens should always be grateful for their efforts. -------------------------- Imphal Free Press MPP refutes MHA assertion on Indo-Myanmar border fencing IMPHAL, August 9: The Manipur Peoples Party (MPP) has strongly negated the statement of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that without the settlement of the International Boundary along with Boundary Pillars on Indo-Myanmar border, it is not possible to arrive at a definitive conclusion that a particular village or land is going to be lost. Addressing newsmen in this regard, Sovakiran, president MPP stated that nine villages under Chandel district have already merged with Myanmar terrirtory on account of the ongoing border fencing work along the Indo-Myanmar Border adding that a church situated in Govajang was also found inside the neighbouring country, Myanmar. He further demanded immediate halt of the undergoing border fencing works and to pull out pillars which have already erected while informing that the issue would be taken up in the Parliament. MPP spokesperson H Nabashyam said the claim of MHA that no portions of State land have been lost to Myanmar was totally false and malicious. He continued that the border fencing works should be done in accordance with the Indo-Burma Survey of India 1969-72 where 1116 pillars was erected along the border stating that since the pillars have been vanished now, similar erecting works of pillar should be done in the same place. Regarding the matter, a memorandum would be served to the CM of the State and Prime Minister of India in protest against the border fencing works and if the government continues with its works of border fencing, series of intense agitation would be launched in collaboration with CSOs of the State, he cautioned. 10-Aug-2013 at 01:04 AM -------------------------------------- Myanmar takes measures to end recruitment of child soldiers Aug 09,2013 YANGON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar released 68 more child soldiers from the armed forces recently, signifying that it is moving further to end recruitment of under-age children in the armed forces. The 68 children, recruited previously and sent to different military command areas, were handed back to their parents on Wednesday. All other under-age child soldiers from the army are expected to be discharged within 18 months, the military authorities said. Assistance is being provided to the freed children by the military to pursue education and get job with healthcare extended to them. It was the fourth time the Myanmar military discharged child soldiers on Wednesday. The first release took place in September 2012 when 42 under-age children were handed back. A group of 24 was released in February 2013, with another 42 discharged in July 2013. Myanmar and the United Nations started engagement in a dialogue on issues related to child soldiers five years ago, agreeing to the appointment of a high level officials from the Ministry of Social Welfare to engage with the UN Country Team and especially the UN Children's Fund on all issues related to children and armed conflict, as well as the setting up of a monitoring mechanism to find out the real situation in the country regarding child soldiers with a task force established. Myanmar has made efforts and worked for ensuring not to recruit minors for military service, promising continuous supervision over the personnel concerned to ensure that they do not accept minors. The country launched the Committee for Prevention against Recruiting Minors into Army in January 2005. In June 2012, Myanmar and the United Nations signed a landmark agreement in Nay Phi Taw for the release of children from the country's armed forces. The new plan of action set out concrete and time-bound activities to ensure the separation of children from the Myanmar armed forces and to prevent further recruitment and use of children under age. In November 2012, Myanmar government and the United Nations Children's Fund signed a basic cooperation agreement for a 5-year national-level project for the development of children in the country. The agreement covers young children survival and development, accessibility of water, environmental cleanliness and personal hygiene, access to basic education and gender equality, HIV/AIDS and children, protection of children and education, supervision and assessment of social policy. ------------------------------- Special Reports Prisoners allege abuse in Myanmar Published: Aug. 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A lawyer for two men in the northern Myanmar state of Kachin said his clients were sexually abused by the military before they were brought to trial. Brang Yong and Lahpai Gum, two Kachin men accused of supporting armed rebels and attacking national interests, appeared before a regional court last week. Their attorney, Boung Mai, told Thai newspaper The Irrawaddy there was no validity to the charges. "The charges against my clients are baseless," he said Friday. "They were tortured in many brutal ways. It was inhumane." The attorney says his clients were internally displaced persons feeling unrest in the northern state. Both men were accused of violating laws on association with unlawful groups. Kachin has been the scene of intermittent conflict between rebel and government forces. Myanmar marked Thursday as the 25th anniversary of pro-democracy protests squashed violently by the military regime. Myanmar in 2010 held democratic elections, earning praise from the international community. Violence in Kachin, as well as communal conflict in western Rakhine state, have brought renewed criticism from some members of the human rights community. The Irrawaddy reports the government has released dozens of prisoners caught up in the fighting in Kachin this year. Read more: -------------------------------------- Veteran BBC reporter Christopher Gunness returns to Myanmar Published on Friday, 09 August 2013 15:52 The celebrated BBC correspondent Christopher Gunness has returned to Myanmar on Tuesday for the first time in over two decades to attend the 25th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy struggle. During 1988 uprising his reports helped bring the 1988 mass protests against military rule and their subsequent brutal crackdown by the army to world attention. He came to Myanmar via Thailand and Bangladesh, interviewing students and members of the public. He was subsequently blacklisted from returning to the country and after the military crack-down he stayed in Bangladesh to keep in touch with sources from Myanmar. His trip will take ten days and he has arranged to meet with people he encountered and interviewed back in 1988. His reporting provides an important outside witness account of this landmark event in Myanmars history. Christopher Gunness graduated from Oxford University and became a trainee at the BBC in 1982. He is part Indian and worked as a correspondence for the BBC's Eastern Service. He has since worked as a correspondent between 1986 and 1989 throughout Asia. In 1990 Christopher was posted to the United Nations in New York as the BBC correspondent. Gunness reported on the Iraq crisis and became a spokesman for the UN during the war in Yugoslavia. He worked for 23 years as a reporter and producer for the BBC. Christopher has continued to present daily current affairs programmes for the BBC World Service, and several of his documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service have won awards. -------------------------------------- Mizzima News Myawaddy border trade reopened 09 Aug 2013 12:50 Written by Min Thuya Category: Trade The Myawaddy border trade route has reopened after 10 days disruption due to landslides and heavy rainfall, on August 7. From yesterday, trucks from Myawaddy have resumed transportation of goods. Trucks from Yangon have also arrived Myawaddy, an official from Myawaddy border trade point told Mizzima on August 8. U Zaw Win, Treasurer of the Myawaddy Goods Transport Association said that passenger cars and trucks from Myawaddy Township have begun regular transportation. Food and basic supplies for flood victims in Karen state are also being delivered. The cross-border trade will return to its usual state within a few days. Now transportation has reached its normal condition. At the moment, we still have leftover imported goods and we will order more Thai goods after we run out of them, Nay lin Myit, a Thai goods trader from Myawaddy, told Mizzima. Due to heavy rainfall, all transportation routes from Myawaddy border trade area were closed since August 28. Importation of major goods from Thailand such as food stuffs and electrical goods were suspended. Likewise, banks in Myawaddy Township were also forced to close down. ----------------------------------- Thai police use water cannon on Rohingya asylum seekers 09 Aug 2013 12:26 Written by AFP Thai police used water cannon to prevent scores of Muslim Rohingya boat people from Myanmar breaking out of a detention centre to celebrate the end of Ramadan, officials said Thursday. Some 261 Rohingya asylum seekers broke the locks on two rooms and then tried to storm the centre's secure front door in southern Phang Nga province, where many have been held for months, police told AFP. "Officials blocked them at the ground floor and are negotiating with them... but they still want to come out and refuse to go back to the rooms," according to provincial police chief Chalit Kaewyarat. He said police fired water cannon through the gated front door to prevent the refugees, who are all men, leaving and "to calm them down". "We will wait until they are calm before moving them (temporarily) to police stations," he added. A local official requesting anonymity confirmed the incident, adding the Rohingya men want to come out "for prayers for Hari Raya" -- as the festival of Eid, marking the end of the Muslim holy month, is known locally. Police said they would allow five of the detainees out at a time "but all of them still want to leave" prompting the angry stand-off. Many of the asylum-seekers have been locked up in the overcrowded and reportedly insanitary centre for several months, prompting rights groups to call for their release. Thousands of Muslim Rohingya boat people -- including women and children -- have fled the former junta-ruled country since Buddhist-Muslim clashes a year ago in the state of Rakhine in western Myanmar. Those who arrived in Thailand have been "helped on" by the kingdom's navy towards Malaysia -- their destination of choice -- or detained as illegal immigrants. Thailand initially said the asylum-seekers would be allowed to stay for six months while the government worked with the UN refugee agency UNHCR to try to find other countries willing to accept them. But overseas help has not been forthcoming so far, leaving the refugees in limbo, and separated from their families. A UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said the centres were not designed to hold "so many people for so long". "While the motives for this incident are still unclear, it reflects the growing frustration among the Rohingya being held in detention," she said. Tan urged Thai authorities to "urgently" transfer them to shelters that will allow families to be reunited and provide "greater freedom of movement".


News & Articles on Burma-08 August, 2013

--------------------------------------- Ruling Party Joins Burma Crackdown Event Burmas President urged to make an apology for 1988 killings Suu Kyi urges progress as thousands mark Myanmar uprising Inter-faith leaders attempt to ease sectarian tensions in Myanmar U.S. extends ban on gems imports from Myanmar Myanmar draws mixed reviews on anniversary As Myanmar Opens Up, A Look Back On A 1988 Uprising Thousands mark Myanmar's 8888 anniversary Myanmar marks 25 years of '88 uprising Suu Kyi urges progress as thousands mark Myanmar uprising Activists celebrate anniversary of uprising in Myanmar Ooredoo appoints legal counsel for Myanmar telecom project -------------------------------------- Ruling Party Joins Burma Crackdown Event VOA - August 08, 2013 Burma's ruling party has for the first time joined public commemorations of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising that the military crushed. Ruling party vice-chairman and former general Htay Oo joined pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and a crowd of more than 5,000 at an event in the Myanmar Convention Center in Rangoon Thursday. Min Ko Naing, a prominent student leader in 1988, spoke at the commemoration. "For a time period, those who hold power could portray or write the history as what they want. But the truth would be revealed at last. It shows that how courageous people those joined today commemorate this special day, the student leader said. It is a huge shift from previous years, when the military government banned any public mentions of the bloody 1988 crackdown, in which more than 3,000 people died. Since a nominally civilian government took power in 2011, Burma has released hundreds of political prisoners, reduced government censorship, and allowed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to successfully run for parliament. Earlier, activists laid wreaths at Rangoon's Sule Pagoda, the site of the initial crackdown. Dozens of protesters also marched peacefully through Rangoon. Mark Farmaner of the Burma Campaign UK says despite recent reforms, Burma's government has never held accountable those responsible for the deaths. "The government, the military, and President Thein Sein himself are not acknowledging that what happened was wrong, and they're not revealing what their own role was. There is no process of justice, accountability, truth or reconciliation at all," he said. However, Farmaner said that increased openness is reflected in the government's willingness to allow what he calls unprecedented commemorations of the 1988 protests. "It's one of the paradoxes that you've got in Burma at the moment. Basically, you've got the same people in charge, and you've got many of the same issues - people arrested for peacefully protesting, the Burmese army still attacking ethnic minorities," he explained. "Yet at the same time they're allowing more freedom of expression, there's a bit more political space in the country. People can talk more openly about the problems, but at the same time those problems are not being fully addressed." Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch called on President Thein Sein to commit to an independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the deaths. The New York-based group called the issue an "unaddressed open wound that challenges the government's rhetoric of reform." It said addressing the abuses is "absolutely necessary for Burmese society to move forward." This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service ----------------------------------- Burmas President urged to make an apology for 1988 killings By Zin Linn Aug 08, 2013 11:50PM UTC On this 8 August, 2013, democracy-longing Burmese people around the country have been launching the 25th Anniversary of the 1988 Peoples Democracy Revolution. In the past, no remembrances will be allowed to mark the 8888 anniversary in Burma, and heavy police security will be seen in big cities especially in Rangoon (Yangon) around Shwedagon Pagoda to fend off any protests. This time of Silver Jubilee, students and people from all walks of life mark the historic peoples revolution by saluting the fallen heroes around the country especially in the big cities such as Rangoon and Mandalay. Members of Myanmar's prominent 88 generation students group hold wreaths during a march to mark the 25th anniversary of Myanmar's pro-democracy uprising in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. The uprising against the 26-year socialist military dictatorship which spread nationwide on Aug. 8, 1988 was referred to as 8888 uprising. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win) Burmas major umbrella students organization has released a statement in commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of the 1988, 8 August Peoples Revolution calling an apology from the ruling government for the bloodshed crackdown on a 1988 pro-democracy civil disobedience. Concurrently, two ministers of President Thein Seins government unusually attended an event on Wednesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the blood-spattered uprising. The uprising was cracked down on 8- 8-88 by the then-ruling military junta in which Thein Sein and several senior military officers in existing quasi-civilian government were guilty commanders in the previous regime blamed for various brutalities and human right violations. In September 1987, Burmas then dictator General Ne Win made mismanagement with downgrading general economy by abruptly revoking certain value of the currency notes. As a superstitious man, he wanted only 45 and 90 kyat denomination notes in circulation. He made such foolish decision, because they were divisible by nine, which he considered a lucky number for his destiny. However, cancelling existing currency notes which people keep as their savings were done away with overnight. Protests in relation to the swelling economic catastrophe were started by students of Burma, particularly in Rangoon. On 13 March 1988, students protesting in front of the Rangoon Institute of Technology ran into the security police plus military personnel and some students including Phone Maw, a fourth year engineering student, were shot dead. The students death provoked more and more mass protests, which draw ordinary citizens and Burmas much revered monks together with the avant-garde students. Myanmar activists hold a protesting poster in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012. -- PHOTO: AP On 8 August 1988 well-known as 8-8-88 Democracy Movement hundreds of thousands of people took part in protests across the country, calling for democracy. During this time, dissenting newspapers were freely brought out, banners of fighting-peacock were flying everywhere, coordinated demonstrations were held and many democratic speakers appeared in public meetings. On 26 August, Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of independence icon Aung San who had come back to Burma to look after her ailing mother, made a speech at Shwedagon Pagoda where roughly half million supporters appeared and subsequently she became the public figure of the 1988 democracy movement. Eventually, General Ne Win resigned as ruling socialist-party boss on 23 July. However, he made a last warning that when the army shoots, it shoots in a straight line. On 18 September, the military seized power supporting General Ne Wins words. Soldiers gunned down protesters using automatic rifle. They sprayed bullets into crowds of dissidents. Hundreds of activists were taken away in army-trucks and most of them were never seen again. According to observers, analysts and Human rights watchers declared that more than 3,000 innocent citizens were killed. After 18 September coup d鴡t made by the then military Chief General Saw Maung, Aung San Suu Kyi led founding the NLD, but she was put under house arrest in July 1989. Despite her detention, the NLD party won staggering 82% of the seats in Parliament in the 1990 parliamentary election, but, the military junta refused to convene the parliament and also refused to recognize the results, and have since ruled the country as the State Peace and Development Council. Since her initial arrest, she has been allowed only a few brief years of freedom. Since that time on, thousands of political prisoners have been came under arbitrary arrests and thrown into jail under unfair laws and trials in the absence of their lawyers. The military governments penal code allows imposing excessive sentences against political activists. For instance, article 5 (j) of the penal code allows authorities to impose 7 to 20 year prison terms on anyone who joined in peaceful protest or showing different opinion against the regime. Another article 505 provides an indefinite prison term for criticizing the authorities policies or behaviors. According to international legal standard, all political prisoners have committed no crime at all. So, for the current President Thein Sein government, releasing of political prisoners should be the first and foremost of the political reform urgently requires today. Subsequently, the above mentioned undemocratic laws must be done away with as a necessity for change. According to critics and watchdogs, the 7 November 2010 election, won by the military-backed political proxies, was flawed by widespread complaints of vote rigging and the exclusion of the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest shortly after the polls. If Thein Sein government has decided to stick to the political reform course, it must pledge to amend the undemocratic 2008 Constitution with respect to the self-determination of the ethnic people. Moreover, the government has to acknowledge the burning desires of the people participated in 1988 democracy movement. Although the successive military-backed rulers try to eliminate the history of 1988 peoples democracy movement, their attempts are in vain. In the same way, they also do their utmost to do away with the peoples demands in the 1988 movement. But, it is also with little hope as yet. Therefore, President Thein Sein should honor the historic 8888-uprising as a cornerstone of the countrys democracy foundation. Moreover, he needs to take accountability for the bloodshed crackdown on the 1988 pro-democracy insurrection as the students call an apology from the government. ------------------------------------ Suu Kyi urges progress as thousands mark Myanmar uprising AFP Updated August 9, 2013, 10:15 am YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi urged further progress on democratic reforms in a speech to thousands Thursday marking the anniversary of a huge popular uprising in 1988, the largest ever such commemoration. Some 5,000 people crammed into a convention centre and thousands more watched large television screens outside to witness a landmark ceremony recalling the mass student protests 25 years ago that were brutally crushed by the then-junta. The event, attended by members of the opposition and ruling parties, diplomats and Buddhist monks, comes amid sweeping changes in Myanmar since the end of outright military dictatorship two years ago. "Time doesn't wait for us. We have to move forward," opposition leader Suu Kyi told the crowd, listing the tasks still to be completed in the fast-changing nation, including country-wide peace, constitutional reform and rule of law. "On this 8888 (as the anniversary is known) revolution silver jubilee day, I would like to urge everyone to continue working bravely and in unity for what we have to do for the future of our country," she said, adding that it was a "good sign" that so many people had gathered together to mark the event. On August 8, 1988 widespread student-led demonstrations against Myanmar's military rulers were brutally suppressed in an army assault in Yangon. But they marked the start of a huge popular uprising against the junta. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country calling for democracy, in protests that came to a brutal end the following month with an army crackdown that killed more than 3,000. Suu Kyi, who had been living in London but returned to Yangon in 1988 to nurse her sick mother, was quick to take a leading role in the pro-democracy movement, delivering speeches to the masses at Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda. The Nobel laureate, who spent much of the following two decades under house arrest until she was freed just after controversial elections in 2010, is now an MP as part of sweeping reforms under a new quasi-civilian regime that came to power in 2011. Other changes that have seen the country lauded by the international community have included freeing hundreds of political prisoners -- many of whom were jailed for their roles in the 1988 rallies -- and ceasefires with major ethnic rebel groups. Ko Ko Gyi, a key figure in the 1988 protests and a leader of the 88 Generation activist group, said campaigns to push Myanmar further on the path to democracy should maintain "the spirit" of the student rallies. "We cannot erase history. The situation of the country today is a result of the 1988 people's movement. Although we have not reached the situation we want, we are at the beginning of the road," he told AFP. Earlier, hundreds of people watched some 50 campaigners march through downtown Yangon in an unauthorised procession that irked local law enforcers. Marchers refused to halt when the head of police in the area asked them to stop. Police allowed them to continue, standing aside but taking pictures of those involved. "I don't think we need to get permission... we do not want to protest, we just want to express our respect. We are just walking," said Tun Tun Oo, a 49-year-old businessman who was a student protester in 1988. Activists also laid wreaths at Sule Pagoda in the centre of Yangon, which was at the heart of the August 8 crackdown. Win Min, a former student protester, said the scene in the area 25 years ago was "the worst and most unforgettable of my life". "We want to show our sorrow for the dead today and to show them we are moving forward to the goal of democracy... we promised them we would continue," he told AFP. ----------------------------------- Inter-faith leaders attempt to ease sectarian tensions in Myanmar By May Wong POSTED: 08 Aug 2013 11:39 PM YANGON: To help tackle anti-religious and anti-ethnic conflicts in Myanmar, inter-faith leaders have come together for a social cause - to help mothers learn how to care for their young. The Religions for Peace Myanmar organisation believes this is also a good way to showcase unity among various faiths. Myanmar has seen pockets of communal violence recently, and various non-governmental organisations are looking at ways to ease sectarian tensions. Religions for Peace Myanmar feels it is not about preaching the different beliefs. Instead, it is to lead by example to show the citizens that different religious leaders are collaborating for the benefit of the people. Aye Lwin, chief convener at The Islamic Centre of Myanmar, said: "The religious leaders, intellectuals, we've been holding seminars, workshops, prayer meetings. We are getting along very well. We need to trickle down to the grassroots level because there were some people who are trying to have this hate campaign. So we need to clarify all these things and prove practically that these allegations are not true." Rev Kyoichi Sugino, deputy secretary-general at Religions for Peace Myanmar, said: Unless we take concrete action now to create cultural collaboration, dialogue and working together among different ethnic and religious groups, the conflict may occur more frequently and exacerbate." For 36-year-old home-maker San San Win, it was the first time attending an event which offers tips on why vaccinations and regular health checkups are important for her child. More significantly, it was held in a room with people from different religions. She said: "I thank them for bringing the message of peace here. We have different religions with different beliefs. But now, I'm happy all religions have come together to experience harmony." Religions for Peace Myanmar hopes to teach parents how to better care for their children and encourage residents to mingle with one another freely regardless of their faiths. It is hoped the people will go back to their village and forge closer friendships and understand that they can all live together in harmony no matter what religion they belong to. The participants also agreed that religious leaders must continue to spread the message of the importance of understanding and tolerance among their followers. Father George Shwe Htun, pro-creator at Yangon Catholic Archdiocese, said: "Religious leaders, their voices are very loud. They can give the message easily to the people. Especially for me, being a priest, in giving the homily and during the mass, we can give this message to them so that they may accept. Resolving religious conflicts is part and parcel of Myanmar's political growth and development and it is something the international community is watching closely. Myint Swe, president and Buddhist representative at Ratana Metta Organisation, said: "Now, outside Myanmar, they misunderstand Buddhists. It's not good for the coming year if we are (chairing) ASEAN and doing the meetings and conference." Religions for Peace Myanmar also wants to engage youths in violence-stricken southwestern Rakhine state next month. -------------------------------- U.S. extends ban on gems imports from Myanmar August 9, 2013 The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP)--The Obama administration on Wednesday extended a ban on imports of rubies and jade from Myanmar, reflecting worries about the powerful militarys continuing involvement in the murky industry based in conflict-wracked border regions. Washington remains concerned about human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and the role of the army in Myanmar despite democratic reforms that have seen a shift from decades of authoritarian rule. The reforms have led to a dramatic improvement in U.S. relations with the Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, and the overall trend remains a positive one for the government of President Thein Sein. President Barack Obama issued Wednesdays executive order to extend the gems ban because wide-ranging sanctions legislation lapsed when it was up for renewal in late July. The original sponsor, senior Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, announced in May he would not seek to extend the 2003 legislation because of Myanmars democratic progress. McConnell was for years one of the harshest critics in Congress of Myanmars military rulers and a fervent supporter of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act he sponsored had imposed a broad ban on all imports from Myanmar. Obama waived its provisions in November other than on gems. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in a statement Wednesday that it is part of the administrations efforts to promote responsible trade and investment in support of Burmas reform process. Engaging Myanmar has been a rare area of agreement between Obama and McConnell, largely because of Suu Kyis support for building relations with Thein Seins reformist government. The Republican senator is also supportive of the administrations intent to gradually build ties between the U.S. and Myanmar militaries. But other U.S. lawmakers have pushed back against that, and had cautioned that allowing the 2003 sanctions legislation to lapse could allow conflict gems into America. Rhodes said the administration was maintaining the ban due to continuing concerns, including with respect to labor and human rights. Kachin activists last month wrote to Obama and congressional leaders complaining that Myanmars central government retains control of ruby and jade mining concessions in Kachin and northern Shan State. Some 10,000 Kachin people have been displaced by fighting in the gem-rich area of Hpakant as Myanmar troops sought to secure control of gem mining interests, the activists said. Despite the U.S. sanctions backed by the threat of stiff fines and even jail terms for violators--gems remain an important source of revenue for the impoverished nation. Myanmar is one of the worlds biggest producers of jade and by some estimates, source of up to 90 percent of its rubies. -------------------------------- Special Reports Myanmar draws mixed reviews on anniversary Published: Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM LONDON, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The 25th anniversary of large-scale pro-democracy protests in Myanmar gives the government a chance to look to an open future, the British government said. Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the so-called Generation '88 pro-democracy movement in Myanmar. Hundreds of people were killed when the military regime responded with force to the protests. Hugo Swire, British foreign minister for Asian affairs, said the anniversary is an opportunity to memorialize those who fought for democracy in Myanmar, known then as Burma. "It is also a chance to look forward to the future," he said. Some protest leaders visited recently with British officials. Swire said their freedom to do so is a testament to political reforms in Myanmar, which started with general elections in 2010. The United Nations and members of the human rights community have expressed concern about Myanmar's reform agenda given ongoing violence and political abuses. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said Thursday it was frustrated by the arrest of three pro-democracy leaders in Myanmar. It said Ko Htin Kyaw, leader of the Movement for Democracy Current Force, and his supporters face three years in prison for insulting the state during a July protest. The rights group described the measure as evidence of "judicial harassment." Read more: -------------------------------------- As Myanmar Opens Up, A Look Back On A 1988 Uprising by Radio Diaries August 08, 2013 4:48 PM Until two years ago, Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the longest-running military dictatorship in the world. In 2010, the military began to loosen its grip on the country, increasing civil freedoms and offering some political and economic opportunity for citizens. But some are wondering whether the country can truly transition to democracy if it fails to reconcile with its brutal past. This week marks the 25th anniversary of a violent chapter in the country's history: the nationwide democracy uprising of Aug. 8, 1988, and the harsh military crackdown that ended it. Despite being rich in resources, the country went into a long period of economic stagnation following a 1962 military takeover. "The government remained in power through fear. It reached the point where people were unwilling to even mention the name of the dictator," Ne Win, says Burt Levin, the American ambassador in Rangoon at the time. "In the summer of 1988, the population finally said, 'Enough is enough.' " Students began to voice their resentment over the economy and the government's wide restrictions on personal freedom. More From Radio Diaries Read more, including biographies of the individuals heard in the story, . "We students had no hopes for any jobs after school," says Htay Kywe, an early student leader. "We were totally lost." A disagreement in a tea shop between university students and people linked to the government eventually grew into a student-led movement calling for democracy in the summer of 1988. Demonstrators march on a street in downtown Rangoon in August 1988. Students, civil servants, monks and others joined the protests that summer. 8/8/88 Weeks of organizing crested with a nationwide general strike known as "8/8/88," a date chosen for its numerological power. Thousands of people marched on the streets of Rangoon, the capital at the time, and in cities and towns around the country. "It was like you were watching waves at the beach," says student activist Khin Ohmar. Demonstrators sang the national anthem and chanted slogans like, "End the military dictatorship! Daw Aye, Daw Aye! (Our cause, our cause!) To set up democracy: Daw Aye, Daw Aye!" In Rangoon, the marchers converged at City Hall, where a festive mood prevailed into the evening. "This is the first time people talk freely, they talk how they feel and how they suffer," remembers Moethee Zun, another student leader. Shortly before midnight on Aug. 8, troops opened fire on demonstrators there and elsewhere in Rangoon. Despite this, demonstrations continued to grow and spread throughout August. "People were scared, but at the same time, the momentum continued to increase," says Khin Ohmar. "The Buddhist monks, the housewives union they were all joining in the street." A Leader Emerges As the protests grew from a student-led movement into a nationwide uprising, people started to search for leadership. In late summer, Aung San Suu Kyi, future Nobel Laureate, stepped onto the scene. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burmese independence leader Aung San, was in the country by coincidence. She had lived abroad most of her life and had returned to Burma only in March to take care of her ill mother. Student activists convinced her to join the movement and, on Aug. 26, she made her first major speech at Rangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda. "At first I had some doubts about Aung San Suu Kyi," says Myo Myint, a former soldier and 1988 activist who went to Shwedagon to hear her speech. Related NPR Stories Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under fire for working with the government on a number of issues. Here, she meets in March with protesters who oppose a copper mine backed by Chinese investors. She supports the mining project. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) walks with Myanmar's then-prime minister, Gen. Thein Sein, at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on March 16, 2009. Both men are former military officers, leading their Southeast Asian nations along a sometimes rocky path to democracy. A Myanmarese girl carries away a tin roof in Meiktila, Myanmar. Violence between Buddhists and Muslims in March destroyed large areas of the town and left thousands of Muslims homeless. But he, like many in the crowd of half-million that day, was convinced by the time Suu Kyi was finished talking. The democracy movement finally had its leader. Long-ruling dictator Ne Win had stepped down in late July, but most Burmese understood that he remained the master behind his replacements in the regime. As the protests continued through the summer, the rulers promised multiparty elections, but this failed to satisfy the demonstrators. By September, much of the government administration had collapsed as civil servants, police units and even some soldiers joined the protests. Activists organized citizens to take up a number of basic government tasks. Student leaders and a handful of older politicians began to build what they hoped would be the foundation of a transitional government. The Military Cracks Down The nationwide movement came to a screeching halt on Sept. 18, when the government announced a new military ruler, imposed martial law and banned all public demonstrations. The following day the military began a coordinated crackdown across the country. "We could see from the embassy, students cowering behind trees without any weapons, and they were being shot," says Levin, the former ambassador. "It was bone chilling." When the shooting finally ended, approximately 3,000 people had been killed in the uprising. Another 3,000 Burmese were put in prison, and some 10,000 activists had fled the country. Looking To Elections In 2015 In 1990, the military government finally held the elections first promised in 1988. And, to everyone's surprise, they were considered free and fair. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 80 percent of the parliamentary seats. The government ignored the results and rounded up a number of opposition politicians, including Suu Kyi. She spent years under house arrest. She was released in 2010, and, last year, was elected to parliament along with a handful of other members of her National League for Democracy. She's planning to run for president in the nationwide elections planned for 2015. Many students who first became activists in 1988 spent much of the last 25 years in jail or in exile. Today they're continuing their democracy and human rights work. Many of them are meeting in Rangoon this week to mark the 25th anniversary of 8/8/88. Produced by Bruce Wallace, Sarah Kate Kramer and Joe Richman of . Edited by Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. ----------------------------- Thousands mark Myanmar's 8888 anniversary Date August 8, 2013 - 10:30PM Thousands of demonstrators massed in Yangon to mark the anniversary of a bloody crackdown on Myanmar rallies 25 years ago, in a historic commemoration urging further democratic reform. About five thousand people crammed into a convention centre on Thursday and thousands more watched large television screens outside to witness a landmark ceremony recalling the huge 1988 student protests that were brutally crushed by the then-junta. The event, attended by members of the opposition and ruling parties, diplomats and Buddhist monks, comes amid sweeping changes in Myanmar since the end of outright military dictatorship two years ago. Win Kyu, left, and his wife Khin Htay Win hold a portrait of their 16-year-old daughter Win Maw Oo, who was killed during the 1988 protests. The photo behind them of their badly injured daughter came to symbolise the brutality of the crackdown. Win Kyu, left, and his wife Khin Htay Win hold a portrait of their 16-year-old daughter Win Maw Oo, who was killed during the 1988 protests. The photo behind them of their badly injured daughter came to symbolise the brutality of the crackdown. Photo: AP It was aimed at further propelling democratic reforms. Advertisement Activists expressed jubilation at the scale of the event, but urged even more people to join in. "8888 (as the anniversary is known) is the biggest milestone in our history. It's unforgettable," Aye Myint, who joined in the protests in 1988, told AFP. "Many more people should join the event. It's just a few if you compare with the people who participated in the democracy uprising 25 years ago." A vicious military assault on student-led demonstrations against Myanmar's military rulers on August 8, 1988 sparked a huge popular uprising against the junta. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country calling for democracy, in protests that came to a brutal end the following month with an army crackdown that killed more than 3000. Myanmar has undergone sweeping political changes since a quasi-civilian regime replaced junta rule in 2011. Reforms have included the freeing of hundreds of political prisoners many of whom were jailed for their roles in the 1988 rallies and the welcoming of democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi and her party into parliament. The Nobel laureate, who took part in Thursday's commemorations, rose to prominence during the protests. She had been living in London but returned to Yangon in 1988 to nurse her sick mother, and was quick to take a leading role in the pro-democracy movement, delivering speeches to the masses at Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda. Ko Ko Gyi, a key figure in the 1988 protests and a leader of the 88 Generation activist group, said campaigns to push Myanmar further on the path to democracy should maintain "the spirit" of the student rallies. "We cannot erase history. The situation of the country today is a result of the 1988 people's movement. Although we have not reached the situation we want, we are at the beginning of the road," he told AFP. Earlier, hundreds of people watched some 50 campaigners march through downtown Yangon in an unauthorised procession that irked local law enforcers. Marchers refused to halt when the head of police in the area asked them to stop. Police allowed them to continue, standing aside but taking pictures of those involved. "I don't think we need to get permission . . . we do not want to protest, we just want to express our respect. We are just walking," said Tun Tun Oo, a 49-year-old businessman who was a student protester in 1988. Activists also laid wreaths at Sule Pagoda in the centre of Yangon, which was at the heart of the August 8 crackdown. Win Min, a former student protester, said the scene in the area 25 years ago was "the worst and most unforgettable of my life". "We want to show our sorrow for the dead today and to show them we are moving forward to the goal of democracy . . . we promised them we would continue," he told AFP. AFP Read more: -------------------------------- The Hindu Published: August 8, 2013 15:59 IST | Updated: August 8, 2013 16:29 IST Myanmar marks 25 years of '88 uprising Twenty-five years later, you can still see the fear in the eyes of the two young men both doctors carrying a schoolgirl, her blouse drenched in blood, through streets where soldiers were brutally crushing pro-democracy protests. The photograph, thrust to prominence when it ran on the cover of Newsweek, came to symbolise the defeat of a 1988 uprising in the nation then called Burma. The revolts end cemented the power of the military, sent thousands of activists to prison and helped bring a future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, to prominence. Only now, a generation after the events of the day known as 8.8.88, is Win Zaw beginning to talk about it all. The door is only open a little bit, says Win, now 48, taking long pauses as he tries to find the right words. I want to talk, for the sake of history, and all those who died. In my heart, I feel like this is the right time. But still I feel insecure. It is a story from so many nations that have struggled with the aftermaths of their own horrors. When is the right time to push long-hidden conversations into the open, to deal with the past, to cope? Argentina faced this in the years after the Dirty War of the 1970s, when the nation tried to move past decades of military oppression. It happened in Cambodia, where the savagery of Pol Pots regime trained an entire nation to remain silent. It has happened repeatedly in modern China, where the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown remains a largely forbidden topic, and where even the half-century-old historical realities of the Great Leap Forward Mao Zedongs disastrous policies that led to widespread famine and the deaths of tens of millions in the late 1950s and early 1960s have come into the open only recently. We avoided even making reference to it, said Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago who was born and raised in China. Theres still a constant tug of war, between the censors and the people who want to tell the truth ... Subtly, gradually, though, this is beginning to change. When change does come, though, where does it come from? How do fear and silence eventually get out of the way so that a country can openly discuss its own history? The power of time Some of it is simply the power of time. Powerful politicians die. Historys traumatic events are eclipsed by more recent traumas. Small steps toward truth cascade into more. Eventually, details begin to emerge. The truth about famine, for example, had long been known in rough outlines outside China but was known inside the country by only the political elite and a handful of scholars. In recent years, even the government has begun to acknowledge that Maos policies were partly to blame. Generations of pessimists Myanmar, like China, is a nation where dictatorial rule has become less harsh, though it remains far from truly democratic. And Myanmars history has bred generations of pessimists. After Gen. Ne Win seized control in a 1962 coup, it went from being one of Asias wealthiest nations to one of the worlds poorest. Resentment over Ne Wins corrupt and inefficient policies began to grow in 1987 and simmered until Aug. 8, 1988, when a nation-wide strike led to widespread protests and quick military repression. A civilian President, named amid the bloodshed, lasted less than a month before being ousted in a September 18 coup. No government officials have ever been held accountable for the violence, which left an estimated 3,000 people dead. It was during protests that followed the September coup when Win Zaw, then a doctor at Yangons main hospital, heard that demonstrators had been shot by soldiers and needed medical help. Working with an older colleague, Saw Lwin, he repeatedly travelled by ambulance into the protest zone, carrying the injured to the hospital. On the third trip, as they rounded the corner on to Merchant Road, one of the citys main streets, they saw dozens of dead and injured demonstrators. Blood was everywhere. The two doctors spotted a young girl, badly injured. Many of the fiercest protesters were students, and the girl was wearing the uniform of a high school student a dark wrap-around longyi and white blouse. The shirt was almost completely red with blood. I listened carefully and found that her heart was still beating, Win said. She whispered, Brother, help me. Urging her not to give up, the two doctors ran with 16-year-old Win Maw Oo to the ambulance. That is where Steve Lehman, a 24-year-old American photographer, captured them, their fear and exhaustion obvious, their doctors coats flapping. The girl would never see the photograph. She died the same evening. Weeks later, when the photo appeared on Newsweeks cover, Win Zaw feared there would be trouble. In 1992, he was detained by the military, blindfolded, taken to an interrogation centre and held for five days. While he was not tortured, he was deeply shaken by the arrest. He was also black-listed by the government, and could not get a passport for nearly 20 years. He ended up running a private clinic. Things went far worse for Saw Lwin. His father, a top executive for the state broadcaster, was forced to retire. Saw, feeling responsible for what happened to his father, grew depressed. In 1996, he killed himself. I lost a comrade, a friend, Win Zaw said. Twenty-five years after the crackdown, much remains unspoken in Myanmar. Thousands disappeared into the countrys prisons during military rule, some for many years and often for doing nothing more than distributing leaflets. The torturers of the interrogation centres remain free, as do the jailers and the men who gave them orders. If the government recognises past atrocities and commits to accountability, the anniversary of 8.8.88 could be a pivotal moment in addressing decades of repressive rule, Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. It could even be the start of a new era if the military and Government move from denial to admission and from impunity to justice. But if activists are calling for investigations or even a South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the powerful generals and the Government are eager to put history behind them, to welcome the end of sanctions and watch the economy blossom. Tourists now flock to Myanmar. Trade deals are being signed. And Win Zaw is writing a book. While he is nervous about going public, he says what happened during those protests needs to be remembered: 8.8.88 should not be forgotten. We have to keep the spirit alive. ----------------------------------- Suu Kyi urges progress as thousands mark Myanmar uprising AFP Updated August 9, 2013, 10:15 am YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi urged further progress on democratic reforms in a speech to thousands Thursday marking the anniversary of a huge popular uprising in 1988, the largest ever such commemoration. Some 5,000 people crammed into a convention centre and thousands more watched large television screens outside to witness a landmark ceremony recalling the mass student protests 25 years ago that were brutally crushed by the then-junta. The event, attended by members of the opposition and ruling parties, diplomats and Buddhist monks, comes amid sweeping changes in Myanmar since the end of outright military dictatorship two years ago. "Time doesn't wait for us. We have to move forward," opposition leader Suu Kyi told the crowd, listing the tasks still to be completed in the fast-changing nation, including country-wide peace, constitutional reform and rule of law. "On this 8888 (as the anniversary is known) revolution silver jubilee day, I would like to urge everyone to continue working bravely and in unity for what we have to do for the future of our country," she said, adding that it was a "good sign" that so many people had gathered together to mark the event. On August 8, 1988 widespread student-led demonstrations against Myanmar's military rulers were brutally suppressed in an army assault in Yangon. But they marked the start of a huge popular uprising against the junta. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country calling for democracy, in protests that came to a brutal end the following month with an army crackdown that killed more than 3,000. Suu Kyi, who had been living in London but returned to Yangon in 1988 to nurse her sick mother, was quick to take a leading role in the pro-democracy movement, delivering speeches to the masses at Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda. The Nobel laureate, who spent much of the following two decades under house arrest until she was freed just after controversial elections in 2010, is now an MP as part of sweeping reforms under a new quasi-civilian regime that came to power in 2011. Other changes that have seen the country lauded by the international community have included freeing hundreds of political prisoners -- many of whom were jailed for their roles in the 1988 rallies -- and ceasefires with major ethnic rebel groups. Ko Ko Gyi, a key figure in the 1988 protests and a leader of the 88 Generation activist group, said campaigns to push Myanmar further on the path to democracy should maintain "the spirit" of the student rallies. "We cannot erase history. The situation of the country today is a result of the 1988 people's movement. Although we have not reached the situation we want, we are at the beginning of the road," he told AFP. Earlier, hundreds of people watched some 50 campaigners march through downtown Yangon in an unauthorised procession that irked local law enforcers. Marchers refused to halt when the head of police in the area asked them to stop. Police allowed them to continue, standing aside but taking pictures of those involved. "I don't think we need to get permission... we do not want to protest, we just want to express our respect. We are just walking," said Tun Tun Oo, a 49-year-old businessman who was a student protester in 1988. Activists also laid wreaths at Sule Pagoda in the centre of Yangon, which was at the heart of the August 8 crackdown. Win Min, a former student protester, said the scene in the area 25 years ago was "the worst and most unforgettable of my life". "We want to show our sorrow for the dead today and to show them we are moving forward to the goal of democracy... we promised them we would continue," he told AFP. --------------------------------- Activists celebrate anniversary of uprising in Myanmar Published: Aug. 8, 2013 at 5:45 PM YANGON, Myanmar, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Activists took to the streets of Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising squashed by the military. The protesters, some of whom were involved in the 1988 demonstrations, marched throughout the city to remember the uprising, during which more than 3,000 people were killed, Voice of American reported. Demonstrators refused to stop along the route when police asked them if they had complied with a law requiring state approval for protests. Meanwhile, British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire released a statement marking the anniversary. "This anniversary is a chance to remember all those who have struggled for greater democracy in Burma, in particular the many who lost their lives in 1988 or spent years in prison because of their beliefs," Swire said. "The British government will continue to work together with the Burmese [Myanmar] government, opposition forces including Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, and all of Burma's ethnic groups to support the desires of the people of Burma for peace, and greater economic and political reform." Read more: -------------------------------- Ooredoo appoints legal counsel for Myanmar telecom project 8 August 2013 | By Yun Kriegler Ooredoo, one of the two winning bidders for Myanmars hotly contested foreign telecommunications licences, has appointed Norton Rose Fulbright and Australian boutique firm Webb Henderson to assist its multi-billion dollar project in the country. At the end of June, Ooredoo, formerly known as Qarter Telecom, won the first two licences for foreign companies to provide telecommunications services in Myanmar. Norwegian telecom company Telenor is the other foreign licensee, which was advised by Allen & Overy in the bidding process (17 July 2013). Ooredoos legal advice for the bid was largely done by the companys in-house team, headed by Asia general counsel Scott Weenink, who is based in Singapore. Weenink will also oversees the legal affairs arising from the project developments. The company has appointed Norton Rose Fulbright as the lead international counsel to support its greenfields deployment of a multi-billion dollar mobile telecoms network in Myanmar. The firms team is being jointly led by IT/IP partner Gigi Cheah in Singapore and corporate partner Martyn Taylor in Sydney. It is understood that Norton Rose Fulbright also played a support role in Ooredoos application process. The selection process was fiercely contested, attracting some 91 expressions of interest. Myanmar has huge economic potential and the rollout of advanced mobile services will have a dramatic socio-economic impact, said Taylor. Ooredoo has also instructed Sydney-based regulatory boutique Webb Henderson to provide legal and regulatory advice on strategic regulatory, corporate and commercial matters as it prepares to launch its new telecoms business in Myanmar next year. Webb Hendersons Sydney partners Malcolm Webb, Ara Margossian and Angus Henderson are leading the advice to Ooredoo in Myanmar. The firm has been advising the Ooredoo group in Qatar and elsewhere in the Middle East for a number of years. Ooredoo is a leading communications company operating across the Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia. Ooredoo is listed on the Qatar Exchange, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. It has a market capitalisation of over US$10 billion and reported 2012 revenues of US$9.3 billion. Ooredoo has approximately 91 million customers across its footprint. __._,_.___