Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Indian Standard Time – 5:50 p.m – In order to take control of the security situation in Sittwe town of Arakan State, at least 180 Hlone Htein (security forces) personnel, from Buthitaung Battalion No. 2 and Maung Daw Battalion No. 4, were seen transported to Sittwe at a bout 2 p.m. today, said local residents in the border area.

5:30 p.m – At least 50 students from Dawei university this afternoon went to the Chairman of District Peace and Development Association with motorbikes and submitted a letter requesting permission to handle today’s commotion at the university with compassion, Dawei NLD Information and Communications Committee member U Han Zaw told Mizzima.

5:29 p.m – According to the latest reports, there was no marching in Sittwe town of Arakan state, but a gathering of a crowd that caused blockage of the roads.
Following yesterday’s demonstration in Sittwe, at least 3 people have been arrested.
5:00 p.m – Chin women condemn junta over brutal crackdown on protestors
The Women’s League of Chinland (WLC), an umbrella Chin women’s organization, today condemned the military junta for its brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors in Rangoon and other parts of Burma and demanded the immediate release of those arrested.
“We condemn the regime for making the lives of women insecure whether they are at home or on the streets, in Rangoon or other parts of Burma,” WLC said in a statement released today.
WLC urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the Burmese military junta and requested India to reconsider its policy on Burma.
“We salute the spirit of the people inside Burma who are consistently fighting against the brutal regime despite the risks of being threatened, arrested, detained and tortured,” the statement said.
4:50 p.m – Interview with Ma Tin Tin Khai of the Tavoy Women’s Union (TWU) on
demonstration discussion at Dawei University “At the education department of Dawei University, eleven student leaders held discussions on the ongoing demonstrations in Burma. The university authorities and the township Peace and Development Association tried to break up the crowd and began swearing, saying this is illegal as it is politics. The student leaders resisted and there was a little commotion as both sides shouted back and forth.”

“But according to what I heard, there was no marching on the streets.”
“They [authorities] asked the students whether they are involved in politics or study. The students questioned the relationship between the two, and asked why it is wrong to discuss our country.”

4:30 p.m – Democracy and Peace Party condemns brutal crackdown on protestors
The Democracy and Peace Party, the political party of Burma’s former Prime Minister U Nu, today condemned the military junta for the harassment of women and the in-humane crackdown on peaceful protestors demonstrating their desperation and frustration with general hardships.

The Democracy and Peace Party, in a statement released today, also demanded the immediate release of all those arrested, including 88 generation student leaders.
The party also said the military junta and the 1990 election winning party – National League for Democracy – are responsible for the peaceful solution of Burma’s current political problems.

“In order to solve the problems of Burma in a peaceful way, we urge that there should be timely coordination in work, and not just the demand of dialogue with the ruling military junta,” said the statement.

4:00 p.m – Eleven students at Dawae University, in Burma’s southernmost division of Tenasserim, today held discussions on the current demonstrations in Rangoon and other parts of Burma.

3:02 p.m – Plainclothes police, along with members of USDA and Swan Arrshin were seen taking positions at Hledan traffic point. They had 4 vehicles with them.
2:22 p.m – Special Branch Police and members of USDA, at midnight on August 24th, raided and searched the residence of student youth leader Ko Tin Htoo Aung.
An ethnic Arakan, Ko Tin Htoo Aung, who actively participated in the 1996 student movement, resides on Oat Kyin Station Road in Rangoon’s Hlaing Township. Authorities reportedly raided and searched the residence of the student activist twice.
2:00 p.m – Interview with Dr. Thein Lwin, member of Parliament-elect, on demonstration in Meikhtila, central Burma

“In the morning, led by our [NLD branch] secretary, Daw Myint Myint Aye, we offered ‘swan’ to about 100 monks. It was mainly a prayer for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. After that, they [NLD members] approached me saying they wanted to demonstrate. So, we agreed to do it peacefully and with discipline, as there were some youths arrested in Rangoon. By taking the example of people being arrested for demonstrating, we marched the streets peacefully and with discipline. There were only about 20 people altogether.”

“Swan Arrshin and Union Solidarity and Development Association [USDA] members followed us from behind with motorbikes and took records. But we kept on marching with determination and would try to reason with them if they tried to stop us. We have decided to resolve the problems peacefully, without any violence. But if the authorities try to handle us with violence, there might be violent responses, so the authorities need to balance and resolve this crisis peacefully. Unless the authorities get violent and give us trouble, there won’t be any problems.”

1:46 p.m – As a prevention, authorities in the former capital of Rangoon have now shut-off Pyi Road.
1:25 p.m – Several people have reportedly gathered around the Hledan traffic point in Rangoon in a bid to organize another protest.
1:15 p.m – In protest over rising commodity prices, about 20 members of Burma’s main opposition political party – National League for Democracy – took to the streets of Meikhtila, in central Burma, at about 10:00 a.m. (local time) this morning.
12:45 p.m – The demonstration in Sittwe has now surged in numbers to over 1000 protestors, according to eyewitnesses.
With onlookers and bystanders joining in, the demonstration, led by over 200 Buddhist monks and originating from Sittwe’s Wun Kabba football ground, has gathered a crowd of over 1000 protestors.
12:10 p.m – Over 100 protestors, mostly monks, today continued demonstrations over increasing commodity prices in Sittwe, Arakan State. The protest began at about 10:00 a.m (local time) and according to the latest reports the protestors have blocked the roads in Sittwe.

August 28, 2007 – Rangoon, Burma

Myanmar’s military government employed menacing gangs of civilians to keep watch at key points in the country’s biggest city Wednesday as it sought to crush a rare wave of protests by pro-democracy activists against fuel price hikes.

Myanmar’s junta is struggling to stamp out more than 10 days of protests by pro-democracy supporters, but analysts said Wednesday that the rallies could fizzle unless the wider public joins in.

The violent crackdown on demonstrations by Burma’s ruling junta following a steep rise in fuel prices drew criticism on Wednesday from a senior monk in Mandalay.

Burma’s military junta has been freeing prisoners from jail and then recruiting them to bolster gangs that have been used attack prodemocracy activists on the streets of Rangoon, campaigners and diplomats say. Before last week’s protests, the government released hundreds of prisoners in preparation for the arrest of dozens of activists whoa are campaigning against the country’s soaring inflation and lack of political process, it is claimed. (more…)

The residence of student and youth leader Ko Tin Htoo Aung has been raided and searched by Rangoon Special Branch Police and members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA).

Myanmar’s constitution-drafting process will be concluded next week, supposedly paving the way for an eventual election in the military-run state, delegates said Wednesday.

Rangoon: An Arakanese politician belonging to the Arakan League for Democracy, the third winning party in the 1990 Burmese elections, was sentenced by the military authorities to 20 years in prison last month, said his relative in Rangoon over the phone to Narinjara.

The body of the commander of the 18th Battalion of the Karen National Liberation Army was found with a bullet wound to the head in the Haungthayaw River in Kawkareik Township of Karen State on August 20.

Army commander Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin has agreed to help bring peace between the Burmese junta and armed ethnic groups in Burma. Gen Sonthi said that during his two-day visit to Burma he accepted a request from the Burmese military to help the junta reconcile with ethnic groups such as the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Shan State Army (SSA). (more…)

Actor-comedian Jim Carrey has made a straight-to-YouTube video. And it is not funny at all.

Japan has agreed to supply approximately $1.1 million toward the World Food Programme’s (WFP) money-starved project targeting vulnerable persons and families in Burma, according to the WFP and the United Nations.

Burma’s repressive regime is once again, and assuredly not for the last time, cracking down violently on its own people as they engage in peaceful protests. And again, the oppression has prompted statements of condemnation and concern from the international community, notably the UN, US and EU. (more…)

The current series of rarely-seen protest demonstrations in Burma against sharp fuel price rises are small in scale but have nevertheless won support and sympathy locally and internationally. The protests have mainly been led by prominent activists of the 88 Generation Students group and rank-and-file members of the opposition National League for Democracy. Sadly and ironically, however, they received no substantial support from the NLD leadership. (more…)

Burma’s recent history is repeating itself with the 88 Generation Students group once again leading an uprising. But the question that remains now is how this demonstration will end – at the negotiating table with the military junta, as the UN recommends, or in uncontrolled bloody civil unrest, as happened in 1988.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association firmly condemn the methods being used by the military government to prevent journalists, including those working for foreign media, from covering a wave of unrest in response to an increase in the price of fuel. The two organisations call on European embassies in Rangoon to publicly defend the right of Burmese journalists to work without obstruction.

To the surprise of many, the protests against sharp fuel rises in Burma have continued for a second week, despite constant arrests and harassment of demonstrators and their leaders by plain-clothed police, government officials and gangs of thugs mobilised for the purpose, while soldiers are reported to be watching and waiting in the wings in case events prove uncontrollable.

1)    We, the Women’s League of Chinland, condemn Burma’s military regime for its unreasonable increase of fuel prices, which is causing extreme hardship for ordinary people.