29 October, 2007

APPPB Update

Source: APPPB
I. People’s Defiance:

Although small scale, a prayer session was scheduled to be held at a location in Rangoon tonight to commemorate the brutal crackdown on the monk-led peaceful protests on September 26 and to honor the heroic monks and civilians. This sends us a strong message of how people in Burma are still trying hard to continue with their struggle for freedom and justice.

Recently a number of citizens have come forward and started to talk to the media (VOA, BBC, DVB, RFA) about their dissent over the regime-organized mass rallies that have been held in a number of places in Mon State, Kachin State, Rangoon Division, and Irrawaddy Division.

Meanwhile, monks are unsure whether the junta would allow them to sit for the annual examination in the wake of the protests against the military regime, as if the exams are allowed there will be a huge drop in the number of monks appearing for it, an abbot in a monastery told IMNA news yesterday. Some monks are anxious and uncertain about what to do while others believe they should not sit for the exams, which usually take place in November-December after the Buddhist lent.

II. SPDC’s Response:

1) Meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: While the regime has already agreed the visit of both the UN Special Envoy and HR Special Rapporteur to Burma in very near future, they also started meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Yesterday afternoon on October 25, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was brought to the junta’s guest house and met for about one hour with the newly appointed liaison minister Aung Kyi, a retired major general.

2) Releasing Detainees: Over the past few days the junta released about 70 people from detention while continuing manhunt searching for those in hiding. Some women who were just released from detention spoke to the media on the torture and ail treatment in the prisons, bad health condition of some women in detention and how they were interrogated. Khin Mar Lar, who was detained for nearly one month in Mandalay, told Irrawaddy that before her release, she was forced to sign a paper saying if she was involved in another demonstration she would be imprisoned and fined 500,000 kyat (US $377), and authorities would confiscate her household possessions.

3) Forced Recruitment of Child Soldiers: There has been active forced recruitment of child soldiers by the Burma army in many areas in Shan State, reported by Shan Herald Agency of News. About 100 boys aged between 14 and 20 were ordered to gather in a local town’s football field in central Shan State on October 17. Those recruited children belong to ethnic minority groups and many parents ask their sons to run away in order to avoid the recruitment. A local reported to SHAN that if anyone whose names were already on the list did not show up for the army would be fined 500,000 Kyat (five hundred thousand).

4) Dismissing UN Report: The SPDC Ambassador to the UN, U Thaung Tun, dismissed a UN report on the human rights situation in Burma, including the detention of political prisoners, sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers during the General Assembly in New York on Oct 24, saying it was not objective and reproduced the “unfounded” allegations of insurgent and expatriate groups which were “outrageous” allegations. He then claimed normalcy has been restored in Burma. Conceding that Burma had become an emotive issue in recent months, he said: “The international community must be able to rise above the fray and discern the situation. It must see the large perspective and not miss the forest for the trees,” and repeated charges that western embassies had colluded with the opposition in disseminating “malicious news.”
5) Lies during the UNSCR 1325 Open Debate: On Oct 23 during the Security Council Open Debate on Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, the SPDC delegation said the junta makes national effort to promote gender equality and promotes policies to ensure that the needs and priorities of women and girls are addressed by working hand in hand with Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation and the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association, etc.

6) Changes in SPDC: Acting Prime Minister Lt-Gen Thein Sein was appointed premier on Oct 24 by Burma's ruling generals, following the death of Premier Gen Soe Win, who died on October 12, The New Light of Myanmar reported. Thein Sein is known as a loyal supporter of Snr-Gen Than Shwe. Lt-Gen Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo was promoted to secretary-1, and Aung Kyi was promoted to minister for labor and liaison minister to talk with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Other reshuffles: Maj-Gen Thein Htay - minister of defense; Maj-Gen Kyaw Swa - minister of industry- 2; and Maj-Gen Thein Tun – minister of communication, postal and telegraphs.

III. International Responses:
A. UN and Governments:

1) UN: The Special Envoy, after Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, wrapped up his consultations in China yesterday (Oct 25), as he continues his six-nation tour of regional capitals ahead of a planned return to Burma in early November. Mr. Gambari is now in Tokyo where he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura. His upcoming trip to Burma is set to be followed by a visit from the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on human rights Prof. Pinheiro, before the middle of next month.

Mr. Pinheiro said on October 24 that he would use the visit to try to inquire the situation of abuses during the recent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, determine the numbers and whereabouts of those detained or killed, and collect testimony about what happened. He also said that unless the Burmese junta cooperates fully with him when he visits in November he will immediately leave the country.

2) Effectiveness of Targeted Sanctions: We’ve begun to see the effectiveness of the targeted sanctions against this brutal and its associates. The US imposed additional sanctions against the Burmese military regime on October 19, including freezing the bank accounts of an additional 25 military officials and 12 businessmen or business entities closely associated with the military regime. And this includes 3 companies in Singapore run by Burmese tycoon Tay Za, a close associate of SPDC’s No.1 Gen. Than Shwe, including Air Bagan. On Oct 24, Air Bagan Ltd. announced it will suspend flights to Singapore, as of November 4, citing the effects of economic sanctions. “Sanctions have been imposed on our airline and also our parent company in Singapore. This has indeed caused us a lot of pain and anguish, as with these sanctions we now have no access to aircraft spare parts," said the letter to the partners signed by the airline's sales and marketing manager. Burmese nationals in Singapore were launching a boycott campaign against Air Bagan since the junta began arresting and using violent attacks against the activists in August protests.

3) India, China and Russia Oppose Sanctions: India said at a joint press conference in China on October 24 after the end of the third standalone meeting of Foreign Ministers of India, China and Russia held in China that it opposed imposing sanctions on Burma and called for encouraging all stakeholders to advance political reforms and national reconciliation. India was jointly supported by China and Russia.

4) China: In his meeting with the UN Special Envoy Mr. Gambari yesterday on October 25, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister said China will play a "constructive role'' in trying to end the unrest in Burma and continue to support the UN in its efforts to find "a peaceful resolution.”

5) Singapore: Foreign Minister George Yeo is visiting China and Japan from October 25 to 27 for informal on Burma’s crisis to exchange views with his counterparts on how regional countries how to support a genuine process of peaceful reconciliation in Burma and support the UN Special Envoy in his mission as mediator. Singapore said Burma will be an important item on the agenda during the East Asia Summit on November 21 in Singapore. Singapore currently chairs the Asean and 40th Asean Summit will be held in Singapore in November before the East Asia Summit.

6) Canada: Parliamentary Friends of Burma (PFOB) held a press conference on Burma yesterday on its 10-point action plan which will be passed on to the Foreign Minister for multilateral action by the International Community. Ten points include: 1) Evaluate the effectiveness of existing Canadian measures against Burmese regime; 2) Arms embargo against Burma (by all countries, particularly China, India, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and Singapore); 3) Targeted economic sanctions of items that would damage the Military Junta in Burma, without hurting the common people; 4) Targeted investment sanctions of items that would damage the Military Junta in Burma including a ban on Canadian investment in Burma. PFOC was created in December of 2006 and consists of 34 Senators from all parties of the Canadian Parliament.

B. Solidarity Actions:

1) Australia-Pacific (Oct 27): Interfaith Day of Prayer for Burma has been organized in Melbourne tomorrow at 3 pm at Treasury Garden, Spring Street (near Parliament Bldg). This has been initiated by a member of the Asia-Pacific GPPAC (Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict), Initiatives of Change (IofC) Australia-Pacific, in partnership with the Victorian Council of Churches, Australia Burma Network, Ethnic Nationalities organization, World Conference of Religions for Peace, Interfaith Centre of Melbourne, Faith Communities Forum, Medical Association for Prevention of War for Burma

2) Philippines (Oct 26): To commemorate the crackdown on peaceful demonstration of monks happened in Burma a month ago, women workers from Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL-Women) under the Free Burma Coalition-Philippines held a protest action called “PANTY POWER” in Manila today by throwing panties in front of the SPDC Embassy. Disgusted with the failure of all diplomatic means in dealing with the generals in Burma, women workers now resorted to a kind of protest that for them, will surely insult the generals in Rangoon -- throwing panties in front of the SPDC Embassy, said the FBCP.

3) Thailand (Oct 25): Activists in Thailand urged PTT, the country's largest state-owned energy provider, to reconsider its business dealings in Burma which help to support the military regime. Peace for Burma Coalitions, a grouping of civil organizations in Thailand and Burma, submitted a letter to representatives of PTT Co. Ltd., Thailand’s biggest energy producer to revise its investment in Burma. The letter asked PTT to stop negotiations with the regime and to look for gas sources elsewhere. PTT has signed an exploratory agreement with the generals to look for gas in the M9 Block in the Gulf of Mataban.

4) “Panties for Peace” Campaign: Last October 19, Burma Embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore were targeted by the "Panties for Peace" campaign. One group already sent 140 pairs to the Burmese embassy in Geneva.

5) India: Burma Campaign India (BCI) has been holding at Janta Manta (India's Government permitted area) a sit-in strike everyday since 9th September for "Free Burma, Free Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners of Burma”.

6) Finland: Burma/Surma photo-video exhibition opened on October 23 in Helsinki. Surma means murder in Finnish. The exhibit will be closed on 4th November with the performance by London-based Burmese artist and a former political prisoner Htein Lin.

7) Malaysia (Oct 23): About 50 Burmese from All Burma Democratic Force held a demonstration outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday to demand that Singapore break its business ties with Burma under the watchful eyes of Malaysian police.

No comments: