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Issue No. 81, 2004
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ARMY COLLECTS BRIBES FOR ILLEGAL CARS

(Nai Aie TaMai, January 14, 2005)

Burma Army has issued out illegal licenses to vehicle owners, charging bribes for each license worth 500,000 Kyats, a Mon businessman in Moulmein said.

Thura Myint Aung, Commander of Southeast Command, with his joint staff officer Colonel Myo Winn issued the licenses to cars that had been seized three months ago, the source said.

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) had seized more than one thousand illegal vehicles in Mon and Karen states, the vehicles that remain are kept in a secret place and had their engines taken apart for future use.

Business people lined up to pay bribes to the commander to get new license, those who do not have licenses are to be arrested. As the licenses are not issued legally, the buyers are concerned that their cars could be seized again, the source said.

Document papers are issued by Colonel Myo Winn who is in charge of dealing with the cease-fire groups in southern Burma , the NMSP officials said.  The Colonel is infamous among civilians in southern Mon State because of human rights violations and the perpetrator during Thunder Victory No. (3) Military Operation that claimed to wipe out opposition armed groups since December 12, 2003 to 2004.


57TH MON ARMED RESISTANCE DAY CELEBRATED

(Kao Wao, August 30, 2004)

New Mon Stated Party celebrated 57th anniversary of Mon Resistance Day in Mon State , southern Burma .

According to the statement issued today, it demanded the SPDC government initiate a dialogue toward a political settlement.  The NMSP has continually insisted upon a political dialogue to solve the political crisis and a purpose of attending the government sponsored National Convention was the goal for forming a Federal Union in Burma .  The NMSP will struggle by both means; solving the political crisis on the dialogue table and by armed struggle. 

President Nai Htin of the NMSP also sent a commentary message on the significance of armed resistance day in recognition of the struggles for self-determination and a federal union in Burma .  He urged the Mon people to be united and continue in the struggle for national freedom. The Mon armed struggle has continuously fought against the Rangoon central governments for over five decades, but decided to sign a cease-fire agreement hoping to resolve political problems and to end the conflict with the junta in 1995.

The Mon Resistance Day commemorates the beginning of the armed struggle against the central government in 1948.  When the British granted independence to Burma , Mon political leaders planned to negotiate peacefully with the Burman AFPFL leaders for their nationality rights.  After their demands were flatly rejected some Mon leaders were assassinated and imprisoned, overnight the Mons transformed from a non-violent movement to an arms struggle.  To enforce control over the Mon population, over 100 Mon villages were burnt down during that time.  This triggered the resistance movement, when a group of young patriots led by Nai Pan Thar seized arms from the police station at Zar Tha Pyin village near Moulmein

This year, the NMSP and local communities celebrated armed resistance day at Central Headquarters, Tavoy, Moulmein and Tathon Districts.


MYANMAR UNDER FIRE FOR TALKS WITHOUT SUU KYI
Sun 16 May 2004
Cited from Reuters, by Darren Schuettler

BANGKOK - Military-ruled Myanmar kicks off constitutional talks on Monday hailed by the junta as a key step towards democracy but dismissed by critics as a whitewash in the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Yangon says it will press ahead with the National Convention "in the interests of national unity", but a boycott by Suu Kyi's main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and a group of ethnic minority parties has stripped the talks of what little credibility they had, diplomats say.

"What can the military say? They are holding talks with none of the major players. I don't see any daylight," a Bangkok-based Western diplomat said.

On Friday, the NLD opted out of the constitution-drafting talks after the junta refused to
free party leader and Nobel laureate Suu Kyi and Vice Chairman Tin Oo from house arrest.

Their release, and the reopening of party offices nationwide, was key conditions for joining Monday's convention, organized by the military government which has ruled the former Burma in various guises since a 1962 coup.

More than 1,500 delegates, most of them handpicked by the government and from all walks of life in this impoverished southeast Asian nation, have been invited
to the convention, which is being held at a compound outside the capital.

Suu Kyi and Tin Oo were not among the 54 NLD members invited, and the party had demanded to choose its own representatives.

Yangon accused the NLD, which had also sought a watering down of proposals to entrench a military role in any new constitution, of making "unreasonable demands".

Facing Western sanctions and under intense diplomatic pressure to free Suu Kyi and restore democracy, the government unveiled its so-called "road map to democracy" last year.

It says reconvening the convention -- abandoned in 1996 after the NLD walked out accusing the military of manipulating the process to stay in power -- was a critical first step in its plans for democratic transition.

"We hope that a strong and enduring constitution will soon emerge so that Myanmar can achieve its objective to becoming a peaceful, stable and sustainable democracy in a reasonable period of time," the government said on Saturday.

RECONCILIATION HOPES FADE

But most observers now see little chance of that happening without the NLD, which won 1990 elections but was barred from taking power, and the ethnic minority parties at the table.

The United Nationalities Alliance, grouping nine minority parties including the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy which won the second largest number of votes in 1990, have also spurned the convention.

"Without the NLD and ethnic political parties, it will not achieve a breakthrough. There is no chance for national reconciliation in Myanmar in the foreseeable future," a Yangon-based Asian diplomat said.

Diplomats and pro-democracy groups are watching to see how Myanmar's neighbours, which backed Yangon last month in a showdown with the European Union, will
react.

Asian countries say Myanmar should be admitted along with Cambodia and Laos into the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which will gather in Hanoi in October.

But Britain, Myanmar's former colonial power, has pressed hard for Yangon to be kept out of the six-year-old forum because of the junta's repression of political opponents, and in particular Suu Kyi's house arrest.

Yangon is also due to take the rotating chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2006.

"The regime is not giving any respect to the views of its neighbouring countries, let alone those of the western countries -- the European Union and the United States. They are not respecting the will of member states of ASEAN," said Soe Aung of the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB).


MON FORCED OUT OF THEIR SCHOOLS
Sat 15 May 2004
Kao Wao

A Mon school was forced to shut down after the State Peace and Development Council authorities confiscated land to build a government office, according to a source from Ye, Mon State.

Colonel Myint Aung accused the Mon national school of competing with the SPDC ' s School, said Mi Norn, a woman leader from Lamine community. About 425 children from the Mon primary school are now out of class for an indefinite period even though the school is still standing and has yet to be demolished.

The SPDC, she said, has confiscated land in Lamine, northern Ye township since April 2004.

The local source reported the reason for the confiscation was to build a new office after the village was promoted up to the town level earlier in the year.

The villagers built the Mon school with an area of 200 by 130 feet after the NMSP reached a cease-fire agreement with the military regime over eight years ago. The villagers hired Mon teachers to teach according to a Mon national education curriculum supported by the community.

When Lamine, the biggest village in northern Ye, Mon State, was reclassified as a town, a religious site was taken over to build government offices.

Located on the Moulmein-Ye railroad, Lamine has over 4,000 households and is famous for the Kyaik Kelasa pagoda where several pilgrims from all over Mon State in the springtime season come during the 12 th lunar month of the Mon calendar.


UNITED NATIONS URGES LAST MINUTE DEAL
Fri 14 May 2004
Cited from Reuters

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan asked Myanmar on Friday to strike a last-minute deal that would allow the participation of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in the country ' s upcoming constitutional convention.

Ms. Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Noble Peace Prize, has been confined to her home since September, her telephone is cut off and visitors are restricted. Before that, she was detained at a secret location.

Ms. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) demanded her freedom, and that of vice chairman Tin Oo, as a condition for joining Monday's convention. The convention is organized by the military government, which has ruled Myanmar in various guises since a 1962 coup.

The secretary-general urges all parties concerned, even at this late hour, to make every effort in the next two days to reach an agreement, taking into account suggestions made by the NLD, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters on Friday.

Annan again called for the removal of all restrictions imposed on Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, and the reopening of the democracy leagues offices, so that the National convention can be reconvened in an all-inclusive manner. '

The junta shut the league's offices in May last year when Suu Kyi's 58, was detained.

The government said the convention would go ahead without the leagues' participation. But diplomats and critics say the talks will have no legitimacy if Suu Kyi remained confined, her party-which won a 1990 election by a landslide but was denied power by junta--played no part.


BURMA ARMY ' S BUSINESS AS USUAL
Thu 13 May 2004
Kao Wao

New Mon State Party documented human rights abuse committed by the Burma Army in 15 villages. Apart of rape and torture, the BA uses the area as a supply source to support the army ' s perverse entertainment and self-sufficient economy.

While the military continues with its offensive in southern Ye township local, unarmed villagers flee to the border and Thailand to escape the search and destroy raids of the BA. Several civilians recounted how they were arrested, extorted and accused as rebel sympathizers by the Burma Army.

During 28 days of operation which started from December 12 to January 8, 2004, large villages such as Khao Jaer (Khaw Zar) that consist of over a 1,000 households were told to pay two millions kyats for illegal tax and extortion or face immediate torture and displacement. Yang Reah, which consists of over 500 houses, paid over one million Kyats and small villages such as Chang Guu, which consists of over 200 households paid over 400,000 Kyats.

Twenty villagers from southern Ye township were arrested and forced to pay from 100,000 to 200,000 kyats so they could be released from torture.

Being accused as supporters of Mon armed group Hongsawatoi Restoration Party, 13 people were arrested and detained at the Military Strategic Office, in Khao Jaer village. The villagers paid from 100,000 to 200,000 to escape torture and 7 people were released after paying 100,000 each to the BA commander who pockets the money for his living expenses.

Among 13 arrested, 7 were from Kkao Jaer and 6 were from Kwan Tamoi Tao Tak village. All men were arrested during December 2003 when the BA launched a major offensive in the area.

In December 29, Yang Reah village was forced to buy a guitar and a piano worth 20,000 kyats for some unknown reason.

In January 2, 2004, about 230,000 betel nuts from Yang Reah village were confiscated by the BA Battalion No. 586 and then were sold in Ye.

In January 3, 2004, Colonel Myo Winn ordered three villages Sai Khum, Chang Guu and Ham Gam to buy Johnny Walker Black Label whisky and an ice box, worth about a half million kyats. (Imported alcohol is extremely expensive in this remote area).

In January 4, 2004, Pai Krone Khao Jaer village was fined 150,000 kyats for its failure to participate in a football match competition organized by the BA in Khao Jaer.

In January 6, 2004, Nai Nyunt and his wife were fined 80,000 Kyats plus four chickens for going to their farms without the permission of army officials.

In January 12, 2004, Col. Myo Winn celebrated a month long victory of his military operation No. 3 and villages in southern Ye area were forced to pay for the supply of alcohol and sodas, each worth 30,000 kyats.

In January 20 to 22, 2004, the SPDC propaganda dance troupe performed a show about the military ' s role in Burma; local people from 20 villages had to pay 15,000 to watch the show.

Krone KaNyar villagers were forced to pay for the dance troupe (Pew) of a Buddhist monk cremation worth about 500,000 Kyat.

In February 19, 2004, rubber plantation owners in Kwan Tamoi TaoTak were ordered not to go to their farms for failing to pay a 2,000 bribe per month and were consequently uprooted and displaced.

In February 25, 2004, the local commander forcefully sold cooking oil to the Khao Jaer villagers at twice higher than normal market price in the village.

3 battalions, No 586, 31 and 61 have jointly operated offensives against the Mon armed group HRP in this area. Extortion is the junta ' s number one policy in maintaining order; villagers are at the mercy of roving bands of battalions bent on clearing out any insurgent activities while exploiting and pillaging village resources, as reported by village headmen who manage to escape to the Thailand Burma border.


Newsreport : FAT CATS RULE THE VILLAGE: THE POWER OF MONEY
Thu 13 May 2004
Taramon and Gong Ong

Villagers from Mon and Karen States complain that their headmen are making money by cooperating with State Peace and Development Council ' s local commanders and are committing abuses such as extortion, extrajudicial killing, torture and land confiscation.

According to a Mon community leader from Zobbu, village headmen in his township are not elected by the local people and instead are chosen by township authorities and local commanders who work together as thick as thieves in robbing the local community blind.

Most are corrupt and resort to criminal behavior involving robbery, destruction of the personal property, environment, forced labor, illegal taxation and the selling of land and properties belonging to the community.

Assigned power positions in the village, members of Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC), traditionally known as village headmen, work hand in hand with military officials by paying them off with bribes with one hand and committing and threatening people with abuse with the other; some village headmen have become more notorious and dangerous than local commanders according to the community leaders.

Among them, Nai Nyein Maung and Nai Winn Kyi, from southern Thanbyu Zayat (Zobbu) are the most infamous and brutal. They closely work with the BA against the civilians, being involved in cracking down on anti-government groups and function as the eyes and ears, an appendage for the BA ' s Counter Insurgency Force in the area.

For several years now, Counter Insurgency Force leader Nyein Maung is well known for his brutal suppression against An Khae villagers. He tortures people routinely who are rivals to his power. As a consequence, many have to move, especially to Thailand to avoid suppression.

According to Nai Hlaing from An Khe, the militia leader and village headman extorted money from villagers and killed innocent civilians suspected as being rebel sympathizers.

In order to gain support and privileges from the BA, they are more suppressive than the Army said a social worker in the village.

Without a trail, he killed three people while they were out patrolling in a remote area. The villagers, including three NMSP soldiers were arrested and tortured by his militia group. Some remain at the police detention center, the source from the NMSP said.

The Anin Village Chairman Nai Winn Kyi cut down some very old trees around the area and sold the wood off to logging businessmen for his own benefit. Nai Karin from Anin village was brutally tortured by this village chairman whom he criticized for cutting down trees belonging to his garden. The farmer had to spend up to 500,000 Kyats for his medical treatment from the serious injuries inflicted by the headman, said the source from the village.

They do whatever they want to make money. They open gambling dens and collect various taxes. These villains have more power than the local military, they also are involved in the vehicle smuggling chain from Thailand to Burma , said a refugee who just arrived from Ye.

Nai Cartoon, another headman of Kraok Poi confiscated lands belonging to villagers for his shrimp pond with full cooperation of senior military officials. Poor villagers are forced to pay for road construction in this village and their houses must be fenced in with concrete to show the Burmese authority that it ' s a model village, designated by the SPDC.

A community leader from Kraok Poi said village headmen must pay bribes to the local military officials amounting to about two hundred thousand kyats monthly to stay in power.

The headman of Wae KaWai also sold traditional land belonging to the community. The villagers from Proi also protested that their headmen and militiamen are stealing cows.

Some headman such as Pe Myint from Pa Nga has chosen not to get involved in the corruption network, says Layeh a youth leader. His community is more organized and has more political leaders such as Nai Tin Aung, the son of Nai Ong Tun, Mon National Affairs Minister during U Nu ' s parliament government.

The village headmen in Kyaik Maraw Township bribe authorities; headmen of Kroung Wan and Kreen Nar (Tarana) pay around 170,000 Kyats to the authorities and the military intelligence to stay in power.

Nai Taw (not real name) from Kroung Baer, southern Pa-An township, Karen State, decided he didn ' t want to resort to bribery; as a result he was refused by the authorities to head his village even though the villagers wanted him to be their headman, his wife refused to bribe the authorities.

The person who wants to be headman must bribe the authorities as much as they can , said Nai Mon. They must borrow money to bribe and they can pay back in a short time after they rule the village .

In Ye township, the headmen extort their own people by cooperating with the township policemen. Maw Ka-Nin village headman threaten those who oppose him and metes out punishment at will with the cooperation of township authorities.

A Mon politician says the SPDC uses this divide and rule tactic to control the public, some village headmen are Burma Army veterans or civil servicemen, not Mon nationalities, and so thrive on greed, spite, and hatred of the local people.


HUNDREDS OF MIGRANT WORKERS WAITING AT THE BORDER
Mon 10 May 2004
Kao Wao

Hundreds of migrant workers have gathered at the Burmese border town of Three Pagodas Pass waiting to get into Thailand.   Word has spread that the Thai authorities will issue work permits next week.  

A Mon village headman from the area estimated that close to two thousand were in the border area.

Nai Phe Sein, a former university student from Karen State, said the migrants would have to wait about a week to enter the Kingdom. They have to pay over 7,000 bahts to the traffickers who work in cahoots with Thai traffickers believed to be policemen.

Last week, four cars carrying migrants were stopped in Kanchanaburi province across the border in Thailand, according to a businessman in Three Pagodas Pass.

As the deadline to register for the work permits is approaching, migrants, especially from Mon and Karen States have been flocking to the border. There are about eight hundred migrants in Palai Japan village, Nai Mae Pone told Kao Wao.

Some migrants have   been attempting to sneak into Thailand using a crossing point near Three Pagodas Pass. Others try to get to Kanchanaburi by trekking for three days along a route through the jungle that avoids the checkpoints where cars are stopped.    Most migrants are reluctant to take the jungle route because they lack food and some have even died in the harsh wild forest.

Even though large numbers of security forces are deployed along the   road   inside Thailand, most migrant workers finally manage to get into the Kingdom by paying money to snake heads. According to a Thai Mon who has close relations with Thai officers at the border, the checkpoint authorities are displeased by the influence of the human traffickers.


SMUGGLING VEHICLES SEIZED IN YE
Sat 08 May 2004
Taramon

Sangkhalaburi twenty-six vehicles smuggled from Thailand were seized in southern Mon State according to a car owner from Ye township.

Eyewitness from Ye said the motorcars were seized in eastern Ye near the New Mon State Party ' s Headquarters and taken by the Burmese Army and Military Intelligence to the Southeast Military Command near Moulmein.

The MI officer told us if we want our cars back, we must pay money equal to the current price, said a car owner from Ye.

Among several vehicles, which were temporarily parked at Wae Zin village of eastern Ye for sale inside Burma, only 26 were seized. Most of the vehicles belong to Mon businessmen. Nevertheless, some businessmen who have good relationship with the senior military officials got their cars back while most of the cars were at the military command ' s parking lot.

About 20 vehicle owners including some Three Pagodas Pass border town residents were arrested and taken to Pha An township, Karen State.

Nai Hla, a businessman from Mudon said the pro-Rangoon DKBA office in Moulmein was also urged by the junta to stop the car smuggling business. The DKBA was actively involved in the business by cooperating with some KNU members.

The situation is complicated. Fighting between the Karen and Burma Army also broke out in this area on May 6, he added.

According to the source close to the MI in Thanbyu Zayat, the SPDC will seize all illegal cars starting from this month. The military has also given advice to their business partners to keep illegal cars at safe places until the situation returns to normal.

Last month, about 30 vehicles were seized and taken to Rangoon from Southeast military Command. One of the car owners from Moulmein speculated that the vehicles may be used for transportation for the upcoming National Convention.

This could be a signal of junta pressuring the New Mon State Party to join their National Convention, said a Mon political analyst who lives in Sanghalaburi Thai Burma border town. The arrest occurred while the cease-fire party was debating whether it should join the state sponsored National Convention or not. The source said some NMSP members were involved in the vehicle smuggling business.

About 40 Japanese second-hand (used) vehicles were smuggled to Burma daily, a Three Pagodas Pass resident Nai Ma Heah said.


MON TO JOIN IN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Thu 06 May 2004
Taramon

Sangkhlaburi New Mon State Party voted to attend the upcoming National Convention sponsored by Burmese military regime.

According to a source from the NMSP, two third of its Central Committee members had decided for the party to participate at the convention which will be held very soon in May.

A Central Committee member said, It was a tough political debate. 16 delegates voted in favour against 8. We decided to attend at last because this may be an option for further dialogue and we will demand the freedom of _expression and change of some principles .

Public opinion varies among the Mons. Urban-based politicians in Mon State, Burma reacted with disagreement over the NMSP ' s decision to attending the NC. The NMSP should stands with other ethnic and democratic alliances , said a member of the Mon National Democratic Front in Moulmein who spoke under condition of anonymity.

In March, politicians and community leaders from various areas in Burma and overseas discussed with the NMSP leaders how to prepare for the junta ' s National Convention and Road Map. The New Mon State Party sponsored the Mon National Affairs Seminar in eastern Ye and over 100 participants   met for five days from March 14 to 18 to set up work plans including the junta ' s convention.

After an invitation by Burma's Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt, the NMSP   in December 2003   reluctantly gave a list of   5 members delegation led by Nai Chan Toi and General Aung Nai to join the convention. However, this Central Committee meeting, held at the Party ' s Headquarters ended on May 4, debated on the critical issue and finally voted to examine the junta ' s Road Map.

 

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                                         Saimon

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