Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wa troops move south

United Wa State Army (UWSA)

Wa troops move south
19 January 2007 S.H.A.N

Reports of the arrival of ten 10-wheeled trucks of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) on the border last week have triggered a new red alert among Shan and Thai security services.

The trucks arrived in Hwe Aw, Mongton township, opposite Chiangmai, in the dead of night on 11 January. They continued their way to Mongjawd, west of Hwe Aw, on the next day.
While some sources have speculated that the fresh troops were for reinforcements in the Wa bases around the Shan State Army (SSA) South's Loi Taileng base, opposite Maehongson, some are wary about giving comments. "Twice during the last 3 months we had sounded alert of an imminent attack coming from the Burma Army which turned out to be false alarms," said one veteran Burma watcher. "So let me reserve my comments until further information have been received."
It was discovered later that the wolf crying during the period was brought about by the Burma Army's preparations in eastern Shan State for its two-week divisional level maneuvers, 20 December – 4 January, in Mongkok, 100 km northwest of Tachilek. According to the opposition Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) Research Center, the Burma Army's Kengtung-based Triangle Region Command had already conducted two war games since 2005.
Another Thai watcher told S.H.A.N. since there were no signs of a looming offensive on the Shans, the said convoy could be loaded with inmates from the Wa prison at Wanhong, Monghsat township, 49 miles northeast of Mongton. "The Burma Army had earlier issued an order that Wa prisoners in Wanhong and Hwe Aw should be moved out to outlying areas," he said.
The Wa meanwhile maintain that "for the time being" they have no plans to attack the SSA South.
The UWSA had in the past cooperated with the Burma Army against the anti-junta SSA. The last encounter took place in 2005 at Loi Taileng resulting in some 770 casualties on both sides.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

King laureate calls for "state building" in Burma

Dr Lian Hmung Sakhong(Photo:ENC)

King laureate calls for "state building" in Burma

16 January 2007 S.H.A.N

Speaking in Stockholm's parliament building and later at the church of
Salemkyrkan where he was accepting the Martin Luther King Prize yesterday,
Burma's opposition Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) General Secretary Dr Lian
Hmung Sakhong called for "state-building" in lieu of "nation-building" that has
been pursued by the country's military regime since 1962.

He said in a country like Burma peopled by multi-nationalities, the notion of
nation-building in which the concept of 'nation' is blended with "one ethnicity,
one language and one religion," the only choice for minority groups is between
assimilation and resistance.

He recounted how in 1961 the parliamentary government of U Nu had promulgated
Buddhism as the state religion of Burma, how Gen Ne Win, who overthrew him, had
declared Myanmar-sa (Burmese) as the only official language and the
current military regime's changing of the country's name from Burma to Myanmar.
"In short, the successive governments have been practicing cultural genocide, if
not ethnic cleansing, for the past fifty years," he said.

Lian, as he is known by his friends, called for worthier solutions to deal with
the current crisis in Burma:

  • State building instead of nation-building ("the state knows only citizens
    no matter what nationality each individual belongs to, no matter what kind of
    religious belief he or she worships, no matter what kind of language he or she

  • "unity in diversity" instead of "national integration"

  • "decentralization" instead of "centralization"

  • "rights of self determination" instead of the current unitary arrangement

  • "tripartite dialogue" as called for by the UN since 1994 instead of
    violent confrontation still opted for by the military government

Dr Lian Hmung Sakhon wears several hats as he himself acknowledges. He is
general secretary and leading member in the following organizations:

  • Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC)

  • United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD)

  • Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD)

  • Chin National Council (CNC)

  • Federal Constitution Drafting and Coordinating Committee (FCDCC)

  • National Reconciliation Program (NRP)

The award was set up by Swedish peace groups in 2003 in honor of Dr Martin
Luther King Jr. (1929-68), American cleric and civil rights leader, who won the
1964 Nobel Peace Prize.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SSA appoints new spokesperson

S.H.A.N 10 January 2007


SSA South's main base Loi Taileng


Maj Lao Hseng


The Shan State Army (SSA) South that has been
without a spokesperson since late last year has appointed a noted fighting
officer as its spokesman, according to the resolutions passed at the recent
annual meeting across the border.

The fiery and articulate Khurhsen Heng-awn who resigned in November is
succeeded by Maj Lao Hseng, a youthful fighter whose valor had gained much
recognition during the defense of the SSA South's main base Loi Taileng,
opposite Maehongson, against joint Wa-Burma Army campaign in 2005. The 3 day
meeting, 4-6 January, also chose Sub-lieutenant Hseng Merng as his deputy.

Their contact numbers and email addresses will be disclosed as soon as they
have taken up their new duties, according to an insider source.

The meeting also adopted two important decisions, among others:

  • To continue the fight against drugs

  • The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS),
    the political arm of the SSA-South, is ready to resolve all political
    problems with the State Peace and Development Council by political means

So far the group's overtures have been spurned by Burma's ruling military
council. Unlike its allies the Karen National Union (KNU) and Karenni National
Progressive Party (KNPP), the SSA-South has been steadfastly been regarded as
a part of the Mong Tai Army (MTA) that surrendered in 1996 and therefore has
no right to negotiate for a separate deal.

The SSA 'South' is led by Colonel Yawdserk and Sai Yi. According to the new
setup, the former will be responsible for all external affairs and the latter
for all internal affairs.



Thursday, January 04, 2007

Freed Political Prisoners Remain Defiant

Freed Political Prisoners Remain Defiant

By The Irrawaddy and APJanuary 04, 2007

Political prisoners released under an Independence Day amnesty by Burma’s military government remain defiant, vowing Thursday to continue fighting for democracy and expressing concern for colleagues still behind bars.

Former political prisoners released in Wednesday’s amnesty join in Independence Day anniversary celebrations in Rangoon.

According to the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar, the military government on Wednesday granted amnesty to 2,831 prisoners to mark the 59th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain, which falls on January 4.

A spokesman of the main opposition party National League for Democracy, Nyan Win told The Irrawaddy from the party’s headquarters in Rangoon that 43 political prisoners were among those released and 17 of them were NLD members.

“I will not surrender, I will continue with my duties,” said NLD member Than Htay, 60, who was released from a prison in northern Burma where he was serving a five-year sentence, along with his son, Than Tun Oo.

Than Htay and his son were both sentenced to five years imprisonment on a charge of violating import-export regulations, a common accusation leveled against political activists. Than Htay said he hoped his son might be released soon.

Than Htay spoke by telephone from Mandalay, where he was attending a small Independence Day celebration organized by the NLD.

Another released political prisoner and NLD member, Zaw Win, said: “Although I have been released, I am not happy because my colleagues remain detained under wretched prison conditions. Many of them are in poor health, some are very old and several have been in prison for nearly two decades."Zaw Win, 47, was sentenced in 1999 to 10 years imprisonment. He traveled 120 km south from Tharawaddy prison to Rangoon to attend celebrations at the NLD headquarters.

Another political prisoner, Zaw Min, who was freed on Wednesday from Thayet prison in central Burma, also traveled to Rangoon to attend the NLD celebrations there. He said that most of those released had almost served their sentences. He told The Irrawaddy: “I will continue my political activities.”

At the celebrations, the NLD called for the release of its party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners. Suu Kyi, the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has spent 11 of the past 17 years under house arrest and a number of senior members of her party are still among the estimated 1,200 political prisoners languishing in the junta’s prisons.

NLD Chairman Aung Shwe said Suu Kyi and NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo should be immediately and unconditionally freed in order to create “a fair political climate for dialogue toward national reconciliation and democratic transformation.”

Several other released prisoners were among the 500 people who attended the Rangoon celebrations.In his official Independence Day message, carried by The New Light of Myanmar, junta chairman Snr-Gen Than Shwe called on citizens “to safeguard the independence and sovereignty of the motherland through the might of unity and harmony.

“Today, certain powerful countries are interfering in the internal affairs of other countries to dominate them in the political, economic and social aspects. That is indeed neocolonialism.”
The junta frequently accuses the United States and other western nations of trying to destabilize the regime.

The junta seized power after a bloody 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators led by Suu Kyi. In 1990, it refused to step down when Suu Kyi's party won a landslide election.
“I pray for the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and I will work for their freedom,” vowed Aung Naing, a 36-year-old activist who had been serving an eight-year sentence. “It will be disastrous if the Red Cross pulls out of the country. Prisoners are now facing health problems because of shortage of medicine and prompt medical care.”

Since December 2005 the junta has barred the International Committee of the Red Cross from visiting its extensive network of prisons and labor camps. The ICRC has not threatened to pull out but some activists fear it may do so since its activities in the country have been severely curtailed over the past few years.