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Euro-Burma Office 11 to 17 February 2010

Weekly News

WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE NO. 81


Inside Burma
UN Human Rights envoy Quintana in Burma, condemns Suu Kyi detention, meets judges
UN Human Rights Envoy to Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana has condemned the Burmese junta for
detaining Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi under a 1975 law that is now obsolete in a
meeting with Suu Kyi's lawyers. Quintana has again requested to meet Suu Kyi to still no avail. -
Irrawaddy – 15 February 2010
Quintana's third visit to Burma began on 15 February. Since his arrival, he has met with two of the
judges who presided over Suu Kyi’s hearing. State media reports also mentioned Quintana's meetings
with opposition lawyers and diplomats on Monday (15/2), but provided no details on the substance of
the talks. He also travelled to the western part of the country and was allowed to meet with some of the
political prisoners detained in Sittwe prison in Arakan State and local NGOs to assess human rights
conditions. There are reported cases of forced labor, recruitment of child soldiers and land confiscation
by the military regime. On the day Quintana arrived in Burma, the regime sentenced veteran activist
Naw Ohn Hla and three other dissidents to two years in prison on charges of “inciting activities which
undermine the public order.”
Quintana is expected to meet some key ministers in Naypyidaw, and to visit Rangoon's notorious Insein
Prison before he leaves on Friday 19 February. He will make a report on his findings to the UN Human
Rights Council in March, according to the UN Human Rights office in Thailand. - Irrawaddy – 17 February
2010
UN Envoy hopes to make the Junta see sense - Mizzima - 15 February 2010
National League for Democracy (NLD) vice-chairman Tin Oo released
Burma‘s main opposition party NLD‘s vice-chairman Tin Oo was released on 13 February after serving a
six-year sentence under house arrest for breaking the ‘Safeguarding the State from the Danger of
Subversive Elements‘ law. The 83-year-old, looking thin but energetic, told reporters waiting outside his
home that he would return to work as early as Monday and carry out his duties in accordance with the
NLD‘s policies. - DVB – 14 February 2010
Tin Oo's speaks after captivity - DVB – 17 February 2010
Collective views on U Tin Oo’s release - Mizzima - 15 February 2010
Releasing Tin Oo Part of Junta Show - Irrawaddy – 12 February 2010
Further articles of interest:
NLD-Ethnic Groups Share Common Center - Irrawaddy – 17 February 2010
NLD Leadership Expansion Talks Begin - Irrawaddy – 16 February 2010
NLD Prepares for Expansion of Party Leadership - Irrawaddy – 12 February 2010
Elections: Than Shwe says elections will be 'free and fair', Thai ministers hopes and fears for elections
In separate commemorations of Burma's Union Day, junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe offered assurances
that the upcoming election would be free and fair, while the NLD called for national reconciliation
through dialogue. In a Union Day message published by the state-run The New Light of Myanmar, Than
Shwe said: “According to the State's seven-step Road Map, a free and fair election will take place soon.”
He also assured the Burmese people that they had the right not only to vote but also to “stand for
election.” Than Shwe claimed that Burma's nationalities had shown massive support for the new
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constitution, which he said would build a new nation. He made no mention in his speech of when an
electoral law or a date for the election could be expected. About 1,500 people attended Union Day
celebrations at NLD headquarters in Rangoon, where appeals were made for national reconciliation, the
release of the party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all detained political activists, said Win Tin, a leading
NLD member. - Irrawaddy – 12 February 2010
While on an official visit to Indonesia, Thai Minister for foreign affairs, Mr. Kasit Piromya has expressed
desire for and pledged to support free and fair elections in Burma. Both Mr. Piromya and Thai Senator
and Chair of the ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) Mr. Kraisak Choonhavan noted
that the interests of Thailand would be best served by free elections in Burma. Mr. Piromya announced
that that Thailand would offer to send observers to Burma as well as train election officials in the
country who may lack practice after 20 years. - DVB – 16 February 2010
Junta Woos Rohingyas - Irrawaddy – 17 February 2010
Authorities Organize Muslim Community for 2010 Election with USDA - Narinjara News – 15 February
2010
EU Rebukes Burma on Election Plans - Chinland Guardian - 12 February 2010
Ethnic parties and politicians in electoral fray - Mizzima - 11 February 2010
Ethnic Leaders Dismiss Union Day - Irrawaddy – 11 February 2010
Opinion / Analysis: The 2010 General Election: A discourse on civil and constitutional rights in Burma - By
Banya Hong Sar - IMNA - 15 Feb 2010
900 Karen refugees return to Burma, amid fears of landmines and renewed Burma army attacks
Over 900 Karen refugees from a camp on the Thai- Burma border have returned to Burma since early
February after Thai authorities proposed to repatriate Karen refugees from border camps. Some 3,000
refugees remain sheltered at a camp in Tha Song Yang District in Thailand and were also due to be
repatriated by the Thai army by 15 February. However, the plan has now been suspended due to
criticism by human rights groups and the international community. Many of the Karen refugees had fled
to the Thai-Burma border in June last year following joint operations by Burmese Army troops and DKBA
in their villages. - Mizzima - 16 February 2010 & Irrawaddy – 15 February 2010
Meanwhile, Burmese government troops have stepped up their attacks on Karen civilians, burning down
dozens of houses and a clinic and forcing schools to close and around 2,000 Karen villagers to flee into
the jungle, according to Karen relief groups. - Irrawaddy – 11 February 2010
Thai deportation policy under fire - Mizzima - 16 February 2010
Intensified Attacks on Civilians Prompt Appeal for World Intervention - Chinland Guardian - 17 February
2010
Rohingya boat people resume attempts to neighbouring countries
According to local sources, since January several boats of mostly Rohingya people from Arakan state and
from Bangladesh have resumed their resumed their attempts to reach foreign shores. Three boats with
a combined total of 190 people on board have left or are planning to leave from the shores of Cox’s
Bazaar with the intention of landing in Thailand, Indonesia, India or Malaysia. Last year, thousands of
Rohingya, who have been the target of abuses by the Burmese military for decades, fled Burma after
facing serious risks of state violence and coercion. Since the erection of a barbed-wire fence on the
Burma-Bangladesh border, the instances of forced relocations, confiscation of lands, forced labour and
other abuses have increased, and refugees in Bangladesh have been arrested and pushed back into
Burma. Many of the refugees who make it across a dangerous sea crossing in crowded boats to Thailand

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end up in camps, which they are not allowed to leave in order to support family members. In 2009,
there were widely publicized reports of Thai authorities towing boats out to open sea and setting the
refugees adrift without engines, food or water. - Kaladan Press - 17 February 2010
European Parliament Delegation Visits Burmese Refugee Camp in Bangladesh - Narinjara News – 16
February 2010
Bangladesh detains suspected junta spies - AFP/DVB – 15 February 2010
Illegal status in Malaysia worth the risk, migrant workers claim - IMNA - 11 Feb 2010
Chinese killed in twin bomb blasts in Kokang
A Chinese national was killed and eight people were injured when two bombs exploded in quick
succession in Lao Kai, Kokang Special Region No. 1. No one has claimed responsibility but according to
rumours, the perpetrator of the blasts, which occurred on Chinese lunar New Year day, is the former
Kokang leader Peng Kya Shin and his organization. Burmese Army troops attacked Kokang troops led by
Peng Kya Shin, Chairman of Kokang Special Region No. 1, in August 2009 on the pretext of raiding a drug
refinery and arms manufacturing factory, but Peng Kya Shin's group said that they were attacked by the
Burmese Army after they rejected the junta's plan to convert its troops into the Border Guard Force
(BGF). Peng Kya Shin's troops were defeated and fled to China. The junta appointed Pai Sone Chein as
the new Kokang leader and forced him to convert Kokang troops into the BGF at the end of 2009. Pai
Sone Chein is the leader of the breakaway Kokang faction and defected to the junta. - Mizzima - 16
February 2010
Further articles of interest on ethnic armies and border guard forces:
Abbot's Opposition Stalls BGF Plan in Karen State - Irrawaddy – 17 February 2010
Karen Youths Fearful of Joining DKBA Border Guard Force - Kaowao Newsgroup – 16 February 2010
Kachin wary of celebrating 16th ceasefire agreement without junta go ahead - KNG - 16 February 2010
Wa closes two border passes in protest - S.H.A.N. - 16 February 2010
Americans should help Junta defeat Wa, says Commander - S.H.A.N. - 15 February 2010
Wa chief still refuses to meet Burma army - DVB – 15 February 2010
Burmese battalion based under area control by ethnic group - IMNA - 12 February 2010
Amnesty International calls junta to halt repression on ethnic minorities
In a major report, The Repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar, released on 16 February,
Amnesty International has urged the Burmese military regime to halt its repression of ethnic minority
activists before the forthcoming elections, otherwise the polls and the electoral process will have no
credibility. Amnesty's Burma expert, Benjamin Zawacki, highlighted the particular plight of ethnic
political activists as he believes they are often overlooked because of the remoteness of some of the
border areas where they are based. He drew attention to the fact that ethnic political parties had played
an important role in Burma, and would do so again in the lead-up to the planned elections, pointing out
that the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) won the second most number of seats in the
1990 elections. - Mizzima - 16 February 2010
Report: Amnesty International: The Repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar – 16 February
2010
IOM: Half a Million Still Homeless in Delta since Nargis
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that 500,000 people in Burma are still
homeless after a devastating cyclone swept across the southwest of the country nearly two years ago.
The IOM said the affected people have not been able to buy supplies to rebuild their houses because

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they need to spend the money on food, and that the agency's reconstruction program in the Irrawaddy
delta is running out of money. - AP / Irrawaddy – 16 February 2010
Challenges Remain in Cyclone Area: TCG - Irrawaddy – 10 February 2010
Further articles of interest:
Another Strike in Rangoon, as Labor Unrest Continues - Irrawaddy – 17 February 2010
5 Days Remand for Burmese Detained in Spy Case - Narinjara News – 16 February 2010
‘Prayer’ activists sentenced - DVB – 16 February 2010
Yet another bomb blast in Laogai - S.H.A.N. - 16 February 2010
Karen army kidnap charge is ‘propaganda’ - DVB – 12 February 2010
Burma badly needs trade unions for workers - Mizzima - 12 February 2010
Sixty villages to be relocated for hydropower projects - Mizzima - 10 February 2010
Burma, China to Develop hydropower projects in Wa and Mongla areas - S.H.A.N. - 11 February 2010

Outside Burma
Rights Group Takes Nyi Nyi Aung Case to UN, US says sentencing could damage relations
The Washington-based organization Freedom Now has asked the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention to investigate the case of the Burmese-American Nyi Nyi Aung, who was sentenced by a
Rangoon court last week to three years imprisonment. - Irrawaddy – 17 February 2010
The US government and various lawmakers have urged the Burmese military junta to immediately
release US human rights activist Nyi Nyi Aung, saying his 3-year imprisonment could hinder the ongoing
dialogue between the two countries. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P. J. Crowley has said
that the conviction was based on politically-motivated charges and that the Obama administration
considers the sentence unjustified, and urged the Burmese regime to release Nyi Nyi Aung and allow
him to return home to the United States. - Irrawaddy – 11 February 2010
US lawmaker mulls Burma sanctions - DVB/AFP – 11 February 2010
Senator says US must engage Burma on sentence - AFP/DVB – 12 February 2010
Opinion / Analysis: So much for US dialogue with Burma - by Jared Genser - DVB – 11 February 2010
ILO to begin Burma child soldier campaign
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) will begin circulating leaflets on forced labour and child
solider recruitment across Burma, but not before it is passed through the regime’s notorious censor
board. Burma is thought to have one of the world’s highest counts of child soldiers, and the ILO is the
only body officially mandated to tackle the problem in Burma. Talks between the ILO and the Burmese
Labour Ministry also resulted in an extension of the ‘supplementary understanding’ between the
government and the ILO, which acts as an agreement that the Burmese junta will not avenge those who
complain to the ILO about forced labour and child solider recruitment. Many complaints of forced labour
and child solider recruitment come from Burma’s border regions where the army has been fighting
decades-long conflicts with various armed ethnic groups. - DVB – 12 February 2010
Further articles of interest:
Australian Opposition 'Deeply Concerned' about Burma Policy - Irrawaddy – 11 February 2010