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Issue No. 75, 2004
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KAO WAO NEWS NO. 75

An electronic newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma

September 23- Oct 7, 2004


READERS’ FRONT

MUL URGES FULL INVESTIGATION OF ATTACK ON CAMP

YOUTHS WARNED ABOUT LEAKS TO NEWS MEDIA

FORCED LABOURERS FINED FOR SHOWING UP LATE

NEW MON STATE PARTY CLOSELY MONITORED

NMSP CHECKPOINT RAIDED BY BURMA ARMY

SUSPICIOUS BA TARGET ALLEDGED REBEL FAMILIES

THAI RAMAN ASSOCIATION TO HONOUR FOUNDER

BURMESE COUPLE CAMPS OUTSIDE UNHCR

ASIA-EUROPE FORUM GROWS, MYANAR IRRITATES

"STATE TERRORISTS"


READERS' FRONT

Dear Readers,

We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kao-Wao newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kao-Wao News will continue to grow to serve better the needs of those seeking social justice in Burma . And we hope that it will become an important forum for discussion and debate and help readers to keep abreast of issues and news. Above all, we hope the newsletter will be used as a vehicle for those who want to share their views and experiences.  We reserve the right to edit and reject articles without prior notification. You can use a pseudonym but we encourage you to include your full name and address.

Regards, Editor

kaowao@hotmail.com, kaowao@telus.net

www.kaowao.org  

____________________________

Dear Editor,

Why the killing of children has happened when the armed group attacked HRP camp?  Is there any law and order among the opposition groups?  How we can achieve peace and reconciliation if we leave it like this?  Those who committed the killing should be brought to the justice.

Down with all types of violent action.

Regards,

M Soe Mon

Karnchanaburi, Thailand

MUL URGES FULL INVESTIGATION OF ATTACK ON CAMP

(Kao Wao: October 5, 2004)

The Mon Unity League (MUL) has urged leaders of three of Burma’s armed ethnic groups to conduct a thorough investigation of the attack on the Hongsawatoi Restoration Party (HRP) camp near the Thailand-Burma border.

President Nai Damrong Pungbangkadee of the MUL sent a letter to the leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the New Mon State Party (NMSP), and the Karen National Union (KNU) asking them to begin a full investigation of the attack that killed five children and two HRP members in the camp on September 18, 2004.

“The killing of innocent children and the deliberate attacks on women and unarmed civilians should not happen under any circumstances.  Those responsible, including those connected to the guilty parties, must provide a full explanation to the Mon community, who are shocked by this incident, both at home and abroad.  We call upon all parties involved to bring to justice those responsible for attack.  They must not go unpunished,” stated the letter issued by the MUL office in Thailand.

The MUL, an umbrella organization comprised of 14 member organizations, warned that the incident is a wake-up call for all parties to put an end to impunity and attacks that undermine efforts to achieve national reconciliation.  It said the attack on the HRP group is a blatant betrayal of the Mon people, which will have repercussions affecting the whole country.

According to local sources, troops of the KNU and the All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) penetrated the HRP camp at dawn on September 18, launching a fierce attack.  Five children of HRP leader Col Pan Nyunt and two of the group’s guerrilla fighters were killed, while Pan Nyunt and his wife were wounded during the assault.  The couple was able to escape.

The Mon Unity League is concerned that the attack may escalate ethnic tensions in the area, such as that which occurred between the Mon and Karen communities at Three Pagodas Pass area in 1988. It is urging the respective parties to arrange for compensation after carrying out the investigation.


YOUTHS WARNED ABOUT LEAKS TO NEWS MEDIA

(Taramon/ Sangkhlaburi: October 6, 2004)

Local youth organizations in Mon and Karen states have been warned by the Burmese military regime not to speak to foreign radio stations about events in their areas.

A Mon youth leader told Kao Wao News that when the BBC, VOA, RFA and DVB broadcast local news, youths suspected of being informants were called and warned. He said that only youth organizations are now actively involved in the community and that they challenge the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and National Women’s Affairs groups, which are controlled by the Burmese military regime.

Another Mon youth who occasionally shares information voluntarily with a local media group said that he was often followed by the Military Intelligence Service (MI).

“I cannot even pull my pen out of my pocket when I travel in rural areas,” said the activist.  “I have to be very careful because the MI could accuse me of being a reporter and put me under arrest.” 

Even though the MI turns a blind eye to activities of the local business community after receiving bribes, some telephone owners have been called by the local MI to verify if their phones are only being used for business purposes. 

Satellite hand phones bought in neighboring Thailand are widely used in southern Burma by local community to communicate with family members and migrant workers.


Life in Mon State

FORCED LABOURERS FINED FOR SHOWING UP LATE

(Banyar Toay: October 2, 2004)

Villagers from Cin Guu and Kwan Tamoay Tao in southern Ye township have been forced to repair a motor road and fined for arriving late on the job.

A source from Ye said the two villages had been divided into four blocks and that each block must provide forced laborers on a rotating system for a day at a time. Captain Than Soe of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 343 and his soldiers supervise the laborers closely and if they work slowly or fail to follow orders, they are beaten and tortured.

On one occasion the captain opened fire when some workers arrived late and ordered them to pay 7,000 Kyats (Burmese currency) for each bullet.

“I heard three gunshots coming from work site on September 21,” said the witness. “It’s the one that belongs to the Kwan Tamoi Tak (Ywa Thit in Burmese) villagers.”

The work is scheduled from 7:00 to 11:30 a.m and from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Sometimes children as young as 10 years of age are sent to work, a witness who asked to be anonymous reported last week. 

The Ye- Khao Jaer road, identified as a strategic military road, has been under construction since last year in an effort to wipe out the Hongsawatoi Restoration Party which broke away from the New Mon State Party. 


NEW MON STATE PARTY CLOSELY MONITORED

(Banyar Toay: September 30, 2004)

The military government closely monitors cease-fired New Mon State Party members who travel around Mon state.

A senior officer of the NMSP said the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) authorities in Mon state have closely watched their activities after its hard stance and criticism on the state sponsored National Convention.

“A backpack of our member was thoroughly checked after he identified the authorities that he was from the NMSP while he traveled to the city,” said the officer.

After eight members led by Nai Ron Nai were arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the regime, the NMSP officers criticized their leaders of playing soft in dealing with the SPDC.  Those arrested were accused of holding arms while touring in the public and collecting funds for the party in June 29 in Ye township.

The NMSP was strongly criticized by Mon community and supporters for joining the NC.  A retired NMSP leader, from the Thai Burma border, said senior members are now divided into two groups over the NC and relationship with the SPDC.  “The younger generation does not want to see their men in the prison.  Some of them want to break the cease-fire agreement and fight back,” he added.

A community leader in Ye said the NMSP, unlike the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), does not know how to deal with the SPDC. Businessmen who approach the DKBA gain more opportunity than the NMSP for trade along the border and vehicle smuggling. 

The people in Ye township were disappointed because the NMSP has no power to defend land confiscation by the Burma Army.  Public support has gradually declined and the NMSP was badly rated for corruption, lack of democracy and top-down relationship with the public. 


 NMSP CHECKPOINT RAIDED BY BURMA ARMY

(By Field Reporter Ong)

Ye – A checkpoint maintained by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in Aleh Sakhan village in Yebyu township has been raided by the Burma Army (BA) and its members arrested, according to a source in the cease-fire party.

About 30 soldiers led by Captain Nyi Nyi Htwe of Infantry Battalion No 408 raided the NMSP checkpoint in Yebyu Township of northern Tenasserim in the second week of September.  Afterwards they arrested and tortured five of the villagers including Nai Kun Ba, Nai Tin Sein, Nai Halaer, Nai Dway and Nai Naeh.  Nai Naeh is an NMSP staff officer for Yebyu Township and the other four are supporters.  They continue under detention of the Burma Army.

According to the report, the BA troops destroyed four houses and the NMSP office in Aleh Sakhan and seized arms belonging to the ceasefire group. The houses were the property of Nai Kun Ba, Nai Tin Sein, Nai Halaer and Nent; and had been used as township offices since the party reached a cease-fire agreement in 1995. 

Captain Nyi Nyi Htwe accused the NMSP of cooperating with the Hongsawatoi Restoration Party, after two HRP members surrendered to the NMSP on September 12, the source said.

The HRP raided a militia force that supports the Burmese regime on August 21 and seized six weapons including two grenades, an M-16 rifle and an AK-47.  One arm was in the hand of the HRP member who surrendered to the cease-fire group.

A local source told Kao Wao News that the HRP guerillas often attacked Burmese troops and that the local militia groups formed by the BA since June 2001 are scared of the Mon fighters.  The source added that local people have secretly supported the HRP guerrillas led by Nai Hloin and Nai Bin.  The HRP is reluctant to attack the militia groups since they are Mon villagers who were forced to take up arms. 

The BA restricts local farmers and gardeners from going to their plantations in order to cut off support and communication with the guerrillas.


SUSPICIOUS BA TARGET ALLEDGED REBEL FAMILIES

(IMNA: September 23, 2004)

The Burma Army yesterday arrested villagers suspected of being parents of Mon guerrillas in southern Mon State.

“Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 586 led by Colonel Ngwe Soe arrested five parents of Mon rebels from Hongsarwatoi Restoration Party (HRP) in Kaw-hlaing village, southern part of Ye,” said villagers.

According to eyewitness reports, those arrested were Mr. Nai Aung Tin, Mrs. Mi Phae, Mrs. Daw Nu, Mrs. Daw Mya Sein and Mi Oud’s husband.

“Although the sons of these parents retired from the Mon armed group and went to Thailand to work, the BA still arrested them,” Mr. Nai Myaing said.

“The BA also restricted villagers working in their paddy-farms and orchid plantation.  The commander warned civilians that if any villager helps the rebels at his or her house or if fighting occur in the village they will be either killed or arrested, and they (Burmese soldiers), will burn down the whole village on the spot.  The BA commander told us during a meeting yesterday,” other Kaw-hlaing villagers told the IMNA.

“Colonel Ngwe Soe accused the villagers of supporting the Mon guerillas to fight against them on August 29, 2004, near Mi-htaw-hlar Kalay village, in southernmost area of Ye Township. According to the reasoning of the commander: If the villager does not support the rebels, the rebels wouldn’t be able to come around the area and fight them,” an accusation that is groundless say the villagers.

The Mon rebels near Mi-htaw-hlar Kalay village killed 4 soldiers of the BA in an ambush. The house where the Burmese soldiers took shelter was burnt down and the house owners and 13 others including the village headman were arrested.

“It is normal that the Burmese Army treat the villagers this way; if they lose the fight they punish the villagers.   Their actions are the arbitrary arrest of the villagers suspected of belonging to rebel families who are then tortured and detained. This revenge tactic practiced by the BA for decades against innocent civilians not only violates the international human rights’ principles, but is also against the National Laws,” said Nai Kasuah Mon, Director of Human Right Foundation of Monland.

At the moment, Kaw-hlaing and other villagers nearby are ordered not to go and work in the paddy-farm and orchid plantations according to the villagers.  “Colonel Ngwe Soe also ordered the villagers to take their materials and cattle back from their farms three days ago,” Nai Myaing said.

The local human rights group reported, over ten villagers, suspected of being connected to Mon rebel-supporters, have been killed recently. The villagers are severely restricted in their movements and are unable to maintain a minimum of livelihood and are barely surviving.  As a result, thousands have also been displaced, holed up in the jungle, or have fled to Thailand.


THAI RAMAN ASSOCIATION HONOUR ITS FOUNDER

(Mon Unity League: October 6, 2004)

Bangkok-- Thai Raman Association (TRA) in Thailand is preparing to honour its leader on his 80th birthday this year.

According to a source from the Thai Mon community, the TRA is organizing a special event in October to honour Dr. Su-ed Gajaseni who co-founded the association. 

The Thai Mon association had legally registered as a social association at the Interior Ministry on September 21, 1958.  This main social association was later expanded to the Mon youth community known as Gagoom Samut-Wutblain Mon (Thailand) and local Thai Mon communities in the kingdom. 

The TRA turns 46 years since the founding and has changed its president only four times.  The present president Prof. Dr. Su-ed Gajaseni has served the longest term from 1973 up to the present day and he is highly respected by the community.  He spent most of his time in the Mon affairs such as literature; culture, tradition and he will turn 80 years old on October 17, 2004.

The dedicated nationalist donated about 5 acres of land and Baht 1 million for building of the TRA Hall at Bang Kadee village near Bangkok.  On the forth coming of Dr. Su-ed’s annual birthday, the Mon people will hold the celebration to honor him for his works.


BURMESE COUPLE CAMPS OUTSIDE UNHCR

(By Roshan Jason/ Malaysia kini: October 6, 2004)

A Burmese family has been camping outside the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Kuala Lumpur, hoping to be resettled in a third country.

Siddik, his wife Nurjah and their six children have been staying there for the past 10 days in a makeshift tent made of plastic sheets.  The tent is only able to shelter the children.  The parents sleep on the grass, covering themselves with plastic sheets.

The couple is determined to provide a better future for their children, aged between 12 years and four months. Except for the youngest child, who was delivered in a local hospital, the rest do not have local birth certificates.

“We are doing this because we are very poor refugees.  I also cannot get a job legally because I sneaked into the country 15 years ago. The constant threat of arrest and deportation prevents us from providing for our kids,”” claimed Siddik, 41.

Refugee status

“We want UNHCR to give us refugee status and help us go to another country where we can get more help for education, housing and money,” said Nurjah, 32, as she tried to keep ants and flies off the baby.

Relating their experience over the past 10 days, Siddik said passers-by have been donating things to the family including food and toys.

“Whenever it rains my wife and younger children seek shelter at a car park in a nearby house - whose owner is kind enough to give us water to drink and clean ourselves,” he said.

He dismissed the possibility of going to the office of the Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) – which has been tasked by UNHCR to process protection letters for Burmese Rohingyas.

According to Siddik, a large number of his friends who have done this are still being harassed or have been arrested by the police.  “They go to Abim, get a letter, try to find a job but are eventually arrested and deported to Burma,” he said.

Siddik and his wife stressed that they are Muslims but not Rohingyas, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority deemed stateless people in their land.

Lengthy process

UNHCR community services officer Jan Field said the agency cannot accommodate Siddik’s request for immediate resettlement as this is a lengthy process.

“We have been constantly speaking to him since he set up camp and he is adamant on getting out of the country immediately. He has refused to go to Abim for processing. We prepared a temporary protection letter and offered it to him yesterday but he declined to accept it,” she said.

“Furthermore, it is the decision of the third country that matters. It is not UNHCR but the country of destination which has the final say in accepting refugees.”

She said numerous officials including UNHCR’s chief Volker Turk have spoken to Siddik but there is a “lack of understanding on his part as he will not budge from his decision to live with his family outside the building until he is resettled”.

Field said she was informed that Siddik is a Rohingya while his wife is a Burmese Muslim. But she also said this does not make much of a difference in matters of resettlement.

The agency issues two types of protection letters – a ‘blue paper’ which recognises a refugee under the agency’s mandate and the other, a ‘white paper’ which provides temporary protection to asylum seekers.  Siddik, who has been offered the ‘white paper’, wants a ‘blue paper’ instead for better protection while in Malaysia.

A UNHCR officer who declined to be named explained the function of the two separate letters in the hope that “misconception” among refugees and local authorities will be clarified.

“Both letters are the same in the sense that UNHCR provides protection to its holders - ensuring that they are not returned to their homeland,” he said.

“Due to limited resources, the ‘blue paper’ is given to a small number of asylum seekers to undergo a long process of refugee determination.”

The ‘white paper’ is generally given to Burmese Rohingyas and Acehnese as many having been living in Malaysia for years and third countries are less inclined to receive them.

“The idea in issuing the ‘white paper’ is for them to return to their home countries once the situation there changes,” the officer added.

Siddik was issued a temporary protection letter in1992 but this has since expired.

http://www3.malaysiakini.com/news/30585

www.malaysiakini.com


ASIA-EUROPE FORUM GROWS, MYANAR IRRITATES

(By Christina Toh-Pantin, Reuters: October 7, 2004)

HANOI -- An Asia-Europe forum accepted Myanmar and 12 other new members on Thursday ahead of a summit strained by Yangon's human rights record and detention of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Some diplomats hope differences over Myanmar can be set aside when the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) begins on Friday after a hard-won compromise on the military ruled country's attendance.

But as leaders gathered in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, the European Union said it would be tightening sanctions against Myanmar next week because the regime had not released Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi.

Earlier, at a lavish ceremony at a five-star Hanoi hotel, the ASEM formally inducted 10 more European members and three from Asia, including Myanmar, into the informal grouping both regions see as a way to promote trade and security.

"With this, ASEM emerges as a political economic entity fully capable of playing an important role in world peace, security and development," Vietnam's Prime Minister Phan Van Khai said in an address from a stage built over the hotel swimming pool.

Before he spoke, flags of the new members were raised to music from a military band as leaders including French President Jacques Chirac and China's Premier Wen Jiabao looked on.

After Thursday's ceremony, ASEM comprises 39 members: 25 from Europe, 13 from Asia and the European Commission. Together, ASEM members represent about three billion people and about 60 percent of world trade. It is one of the few major groupings that does not include the United States.

The Hanoi summit is ASEM's fifth biennial gathering and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism and trade will be key themes, but Myanmar -- the former Burma -- is likely to dominate.

Suu Kyi has spent more than half of the past 15 years under house arrest. Her National League for Democracy won elections by a landslide in 1990 but the military ignored the result and locked up many of her supporters.

After months of bickering nearly scuttled the gathering Yangon agreed to send minister-level officials to Hanoi instead of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. Labour Minister Tin Winn, a senior official in Khin Nyunt's office, is leading the delegation.

The EU said in a statement issued in Europe it would tighten sanctions against Myanmar next week after it failed to release Suu Kyi and recognize her party, as demanded by the EU.  

"Today, Oct. 7, these conditions have not been met. As a result the EU will, at a meeting on Oct. 11, impose stricter sanctions on the regime in Myanmar," Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said in the statement.

The Netherlands holds the rotating presidency of the 25-member-state EU. Bot is attending the Hanoi meeting.

The EU will expand a visa ban, prohibit EU-registered countries from financing state-owned companies in Myanmar and vote against international organizations extending it loans.

The EU is also to draw up proposals to curb the export of teak from Myanmar.


"STATE TERRORISTS"

Suu Kyi's fellow Nobel prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu accused world leaders of ignoring oppression in Myanmar and her plight.

"The words of protest at her detention from world leaders ring hollow when they do not translate into action," the South African anti-apartheid icon wrote in the International Herald Tribune newspaper on Thursday.

"There in Hanoi, state terrorists from Myanmar will sit and dine with you leaders," Tutu wrote.

British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said in a statement he would press concerns about what he called the unacceptable situation in Myanmar and its continued lack of progress toward democracy.

Despite the harsh language used by the EU to pressure Myanmar to free Suu Kyi, a leaked draft of the ASEM chairman's statement to be issued on Saturday used much more diplomatic words.

Japan's Kyodo news agency, citing the draft, said in a report late on Wednesday the EU would welcome the early lifting of restrictions on Suu Kyi and her party and called on Myanmar to include all political groups in its declared national reconciliation process.

One diplomat in Hanoi told Reuters that senior officials of the ASEM delegations would discuss over dinner on Thursday whether or not to specifically name Suu Kyi and her party in the chairman's final statement.

(Writing by David Fogarty, editing by Robert Birsel; Reuters Messaging:  

david.fogarty.reuters.com@reuters.net; +844 825 9623)


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ABOUT US

Kao-Wao Newsgroup is committed to social justice, peace, and democracy in Burma . We hope to be able to provide more of an in-depth analysis that will help to promote lasting peace and change within Burma . Editors, reporters, writers, and overseas volunteers are dedicated members of the Mon activist community based in Thailand

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