January 2009

Monk U Arnanda, 61, of North Okkalapa township’s Thitsa Tharaphu monastery has died in detention in Insein prison, according to a relative of another political prisoner. (more…)

Living under the thumb of a brutal junta, the average Burmese hardly leads an easy life. But the plight of the country’s ethnic minorities, many of whom once waged long and bloody insurgencies against the military regime, is even worse. As a new human-rights report released on Jan. 28, as well as the recent stories of destitute refugees who fled Burma attest to, members of Burma’s ethnic groups face persistent discrimination by the military regime. They are the targets of unpaid forced labor campaigns, scorched-earth policies that destroy farmland and relocation programs that require entire villages to move at a moment’s notice. (more…)

Some foreign media recently reported and broadcast that some Rohinjas were attempting to illegally enter Thailand in motorized boats from the sea; that the Royal Thai Navy arrested them and forced them back to sea; and that some of them were from Myanmar. (more…)

Mohammad Iqbal was one of a 250-strong group of stateless Rohingya who left Bangladesh a month ago in a rickety wooden boat, lured by agents promising a job in Malaysia. (more…)

Burma’s military generals in a secret meeting warned commanders and officers to beware of Bangladesh in the wake of a maritime dispute between the two countries in November. (more…)

Dire economic circumstances continue to drive Burmese workers to seek employment in Thailand, in spite of the country’s worsening economic situation and unusual numbers of unemployed workers leaving the Kingdom. (more…)

Myanmar-Thailand bilateral trade hit 2.21 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months of the fiscal year 2008-09 ending March, the local Weekly Eleven journal reported Friday. (more…)

Police and customs officers in Rangoon have confirmed that a special anti-narcotics task force has seized substantial quantities of heroin in a series of raids carried out in the former Burmese capital since late last week. (more…)

Indonesia will send 193 Roohingyas refugees to their home country Myanmar after their boat stranded on a small island off Aceh province early this month, foreign ministry said here Friday. (more…)

The number of asylum seekers in Japan doubled last year amid turmoil in Myanmar but only a small number of them were granted refugee status, government figures showed Friday. (more…)

A leading human rights group Friday called on Burma to stop persecuting its Rohingya people and urged its neighbours to meet their humanitarian obligations. (more…)

US Ambassador Susan Rice signaled on Thursday during her first appearance before the UN Security Council that President Barack Obama’s administration feels a “responsibility” to sometimes take on nations that abuse their own citizens. (more…)

THE UNITED NATIONS special envoy for Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, is now en route for his seventh visit to that country, which has become a virtual prison camp under its military junta. Gambari’s UN mandate is to gain the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, along with all other political prisoners, and to persuade the junta to include her National League for Democracy in an effort toward political reconciliation. (more…)

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell writes of a fictional totalitarian regime that controls the masses through propaganda and government institutions named as antonyms. For example, The Ministry of Peace wages constant war, while the Ministry of Plenty is charged with rationing food and goods. Albeit, being a novel aimed at warning about the dangers of totalitarianism, of which Orwell witnessed during the Second World War, its fictional account holds validity in our own era. (more…)

International drug experts and Myanmar’s military regime have for years trumpeted the terminal decline of opium cultivation in the notorious Golden Triangle area. Self-congratulatory predictions of opium’s last gasp in Southeast Asia, however, were recently met with a harsh reality: production actually increased by 46% in 2007, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). (more…)

British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell MP has strongly criticised the Burmese military regime’s elections planned for 2010, saying that they are “designed to entrench military rule behind a facade of civilian government.” (more…)

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will probably meet with United Nations Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari during his forthcoming visit to Burma, her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said on Thursday. (more…)

A group of veteran politicians, some of whom were active in Burmese politics in the late 1940s, has announced plans to found a new national party to contest the 2010 general election. (more…)

A senior Myanmar official on Thursday denied that boat people from the Muslim Rohingya ethnic group, who have washed up in Thailand claiming abuse back home, originate from its shores. (more…)

In a major development the minutes of a leaked secret meeting of Burma’s Army Commanders said the leadership of the main opposition party – the National League for Democracy – is likely to split and that a faction is likely to emerge to contest the ensuing 2010 general elections. (more…)

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