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New Mon State Party prepares for war

Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:07 Phanida Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - The New Mon State Party is making preparations in case war breaks out between it and the Burmese Army, after its militia under ceasefire rejected the junta’s order for it to be brought under the command of the Border Guard Force, a spokesman said. The junta had given the party until April 22 to respond to its offer of a place for the party’s militia in the new guard force. The party rejected the offer and since has secured all documents from its communication offices and ceased their operations except for those in Moulmein, in preparation for a crackdown, party spokesman Naing Chay Mon said. “We answered the junta at the deadline on April 22 that we could not accept their proposal. So, we have closed the offices so that if the junta takes action against our organisation, most of our members will not be left in the area,” he said. He said Rangoon, Ye Township, Myawaddy Township, Three Pagodas Pass and Than Phyu Za Yap offices have been closed, and only two staff members are left in charge at Moulmein, capital of Mon State. The party agreed to a ceasefire with the junta in 1995, after which the offices were opened for bilateral communications with the government. Its rights to do business were revoked, so the party had no concerns about economic loss from the closures, former party member Naing Tin Aung said. “We had invested heavily in timber businesses. Later [some years after the ceasefire], the government revoked our permits to conduct those businesses. So, we have nothing to lose from the closures,” he said. After initial years of ceasefire, the party also ran bus lines and import-export businesses but those permits were also revoked later by the regime. Tension was building between the junta and the New Mon State Party and both sides were preparing for possible armed clashes, political analyst Aung Thu Nyein in Thailand said. The junta has three military units and one military operations command centre at Ye. It also has three units at Three Pagodas Pass, the South Eastern Command is at Moulmein, and many military units are positioned between Moulmein and Mu Done Township. About 700 soldiers from the party control all or parts of the following areas: Moulmein District, Tavoy District, Tha Htone District, Bahoquin at the top of Ye stream and Three Pagodas Pass. Sources said that more than 400 villagers from Toehaparouk, Ani, Chelltike, Waisin and Naungbwae in Ye Township had fled to the Hlokhani Mon refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border on April 25 because the worry about war. Mon separatists formed the Mon Peoples Front, which was later superseded by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in 1962. Since 1949, the eastern hills of the state (as well as portions of Thaninthaya Division) have been under control of the NMSP. The NMSP was formed in 1958 and they continued the for self-determination and the rights of other ethnic minorities. Many Mon were against the 1995 ceasefire agreement, but the NMSP convinced them to try a political compromise with the regime. In 2003, the party joined the national constitutional convention, where it proposed that the junta create a federal union of Burma. The junta turned down the proposal, and in 2007

the party sent only observers to the convention. NMSP leaders say the 2008 constitution is undemocratic, allowing for no ethnic rights. Source :http://mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/3882-new-mon-state-party-prepares-for-war.html

Suspected artillery strike wounds four at dam project
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 23:52 Myint Maung New Delhi (Mizzima) – Four workers were injured at the Thaukyegat hydropower project in Htantabin Township after shells believed to be fired by Karen National Union troops fell on the site operated by a subsidiary of Asia World Company, which has close ties to Burma’s ruling junta. At least two shells hit the site in Pegu (Bago) Division yesterday. The injured were being treated at one of two Taungoo Township hospitals. “We are not yet clear about [details of] the attack … whether it was a clash or an attack on the project to teach the junta a lesson for going ahead with the project against the wishes of the local people. But there was a skirmish,” KNU Joint Secretary (1) Major Saw Hla Ngwe said. He said the project had started after land was confiscated from farmers and forced labour was used. The more than 70 Chinese experts from Yunnan Province who work at the site left after the suspected artillery attack. A series of blasts hit the Myitsone hydropower project site in Kachin State on April 17, injuring a Chinese engineer. Both the Thaukyegat and Myitsone projects are managed by Asia World Construction, a subsidiary of Asia World, which is owned by Tun Myint Naing (a.k.a. Steven Law), son of the notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han. The parent company is the subject of direct sanctions by the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States over close links to drug-trafficking and the Burmese junta, the governments’ sanctions websites report. Source :http://mizzima.com/news/breaking-and-news-brief/3881-suspected-artillery-strike-wounds-fourat-dam-project-.html

PM and cabinet ministers resign from military posts
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 22:22 Ko Wild Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Twenty-two of the junta’s cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Thein Sein resigned from their military posts this week, in what is seen by observers as paving the way for them to join the new “civilian” government. Sources close to the authorities told Mizzima that the list included Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Major General Htay Oo (General Secretary of Union Solidarity and Development Association – USDA); Rail Transport Minister Major General Aung Min; Commerce Minister Brigadier General Tin Naing Thein; No. 1 Electrical Power Minister Colonel Zaw Min; No.2, Major General Khin Maung Myint; and Deputy Home Minister Brigadier General Phone Swe.

Though the junta failed to officially announce the resignations, today’s issues of state-run papers first referred to the prime minister as U Thein Sein, omitting his former military rank of general. “U” is the equivalent of Mr. in Burmese. Opposition activists and political observers see the resignations as a sign the ministers are set to run in upcoming elections to seats in the new “civilian government”. They predicted that the ministers would soon start campaigning openly. A military source said that another batch of military officers of remaining ministers and deputy ministers would soon resign from their military posts. Opposition groups and critics said the junta was using the polls to ensure a favourable outcome in the polls and maintain a tight grip on power. As per the 2008 constitution, 25 per cent of seats are reserved for military personnel in all legislatures, namely the People’s Parliament (lower house), the National Parliament (upper house), and the States and Regions Parliament (state assembly). The act of resigning from military posts means they will not be included in the 25 per cent quota. The as yet undated polls will be the first since those of 1990, which were won in a massive landslide by the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Source :http://mizzima.com/news/election-2010/3880-pm-and-cabinet-ministers-resign-from-militaryposts-.html

Shan State Army-North Likely to Split
Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), a Shan ethnic cease-fire group, is likely to split into two factions due to a disagreement over joining the military regime's border guard force (BGF). Saengjuen Sarawin, an editor with the Shan Herald Agency for News, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that two of the three SSA-N brigades (Brigades No. 3 and No. 7) had agreed to join the BGF, while brigade No. 1 had refused. “We heard that they [the SSA-N] have a divided idea on joining the border guard force,” said Sai Sheng Murng, a deputy spokesman for Shan State Army-South (SSA-S). “We always welcome them to join us to fight for our people's freedom.” Maj-Gen Loimao, the chairman of the SSA-N, commands Brigade No. 3 and Maj-Gen Gaifa commands Brigade No. 7. Following negotiations with Maj-Gen Aung Than Tut, the commander of the Burmese army’s Northeastern Region Command, Maj-Gen Loimao and 12 other top SSA-N leaders agreed on April 22 to join the BGF. But Sarawin said Maj-Gen Loimao is unable to give orders to Brigade No. 1, commanded by Maj-Gen Parngfa and the strongest SSA-N brigade with approximately 2,500 troops. Brigade No. 1 is based in Kehsi Township, Shan State South. Brigade No. 3 is based in Mongyai township, Shan State North. Brigade No. 7 is based in Hsipaw Township, Shan State North. The SSA-N first signed cease-fire agreements with the Burmese regime in 1989. The original agreements allowed the Shan militias to remain armed and granted them business concessions, particularly in logging and tax collection autonomy. Last year, however, the Burmese regime began pressuring all ethnic cease-fire groups to transform into border guard forces, and their latest deadline for the SSA-N was April 22. In addition to SSA-N Brigade No. 1, many other ethnic cease-fire groups have refused to join the BGF, and tension has mounted between the Burmese regime and the hold-out groups, as evidenced by the recent arrival of hundreds of Wa and Mon refugees on the Thai-Burmese border. Since the time the Burmese regime began pressuring cease-fire groups to join the BGF, groups such as the SSA-N, the United Wa State Army, the Kachin Independence Organization, the Kokang army (officially called the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army), and the Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance

Army have formed alliances. Source :http://irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=18333

Bomb Explodes in Loikaw Police Station
A bomb exploded in the Loikaw police station on Tuesday, killing one of two men who were reportedly arrested for trying to place a bomb in a Loikaw market. “Police arrested two bombers and the explosion occurred when they arrived in the police station. I heard one of the men is dead and some other people are injured,” a Loikaw resident told The Irrawaddy. The two bombers were allegedly trying to place a bomb near the southern market in Loikaw, Kayah State. The Irrawaddy contacted the Loikaw police and the local hospital, but both refused comment on the blast and its victims. Also on Tuesday, a series of grenade attacks were launched on the Thaukyegat hydropower plant under construction in Bago Division. Hla Ngwe, joint-secretary 1 of the Karen National Union (KNU), told the The Irrawaddy, “I think troops from our KNLA [Karen National Liberation Army] Brigade No. 2 attacked the plant, but we have not yet received confirmation. ” With the Tuesday explosions, bomb blasts have now occurred in five different locations across Burma in April. Bombs also exploded at the main Sino-Burma trade gate in Muse, Shan State on April 14, in Rangoon during the annual water festival on April 15 and at the Myitsone dam project in Kachin State on April 18. The Rangoon bombing struck the X2O water festival pavilion, killing 10 people and injuring 170. The attack was the worst such incident in Burma since the bombings of two Rangoon supermarkets and a convention center in May 2005, which killed 19 people and injured more than 160. Bo Kyi, the joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, “More than 10 people have been arrested in connection with the water festival bombings. But we don't know exactly why they have been arrested.” According to a report by the Kachin News Group, the owner of a rubber plantation and four of his employees have been arrested in connection with the explosions at the Myitsone dam project, in which four people reportedly died and 12 people were injured. No deaths or injuries were reported in connection with the Muse explosion, and their have been no reports of arrests. As reported in state-run newspapers, the Burmese military government has blamed all of the bomb blasts on armed ethnic groups or opposition groups in exile, but despite the accusations and arrests it remains unclear who launched the attacks. Karen National Union (KNU) general-secretary Zipporah Sein told The Irrawaddy, “Inside the State Peace and Development Council there have been disagreements. So these attacks could also have been committed by their group. They may want to prevent the coming election.” Government authorities have offered a 1 million kyat ($1,000) reward to anyone who can provide information about the identify of those who committed the bombings. Source :http://irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=18337

Pressure mounts on foreign energy firms in Burma to come clean
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 20:07 Larry Jagan and Mizzima News

(In the earlier version of this article published online on April 27 there were several misquotations, errors of concision, errors of fact, a typographical error within a quote and the policy of one company was incorrectly attributed to another. Mizzima deeply regrets these errors, which are detailed in retractions below the following article.) Bangkok (Mizzima) – International pressure is mounting on multinational oil and gas companies operating in Burma to reveal how much they have paid to the junta over the last 18 years, campaigners say. Matthew Smith, a campaigner for EarthRights International, which is leading a new campaign to make the oil companies that operate in Burma more transparent, told Mizzima: “These companies should open their books to public scrutiny.” “Burma is lacking in freedom of information,” he said. “As a result of several complex factors, including billions of dollars in gas revenues, the Burmese regime has remained largely immune to democratic pressures from governments and the people of Burma. Transparency frustrates that phenomenon. “Everyone would benefit from their [the junta’s] greater transparency and accountability,” Mr Smith said, clarifying that by “everyone” he meant the companies themselves, investors and capital providers and the people of Burma. The French company, Total, US-based Chevron and Thailand’s PTTEP company are all working with the Burmese government to develop the Yadana gas field in the Andaman Sea, eastern Burma, and the pipeline that connects the project to Thailand. They are being urged to set an example for all international oil and gas companies operating inside the country and reveal how much they have paid the regime in taxes, royalties, fees and benefits since they started the project in 1992. “This could provide a model for the future and help set international standards and practises for the country’s lucrative oil and gas industry,” Naing Htoo, also of EarthRights, told the press conference for the campaign’s launch in Bangkok. All the companies involved in this sector are foreign owned but co-operate with the Burmese government and local companies. Burma’s oil and gas industry creates more than 60 per cent of the country’s national income – estimated to be more than US$3 billion a year. The junta is taking most of this, the campaigners say. Through currency-exchange manipulation and fraudulent activities – less than 1 per cent of this ends up in the government’s coffers for use on education, health and social provisions. Since the Yadana project started producing gas in 2000, until 2008, it has generated more than US$7 billion, of which nearly US$5 billion went to the junta. Most of that share has ended up in secret accounts at two banks in Singapore, Mr Smith said. This kind of secrecy also contributes to repression. The massive militarisation and excessive human rights abuses in the areas where there are oil and gas projects, according to Wong Aung of the Shwe Gas Movement, which monitors developments in Burma. “Land confiscation and forced labour are routine in these areas,” he said. In the past month, more than a thousand villagers in the country’s west near the new Chinese pipeline project have been forced to sign away their land without compensation – leaving them destitute and hungry with no prospect of planting their normal rice crop in the coming season, according to the Shwe group. “In too many countries, dictators use the country’s natural-resource wealth to keep themselves in power,” Professor Michael Ross, a political scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the United States, said. “Revenue secrecy makes that possible – revenue transparency can help to change that.” The campaign is supported by 160 non-government organisations, labour unions, investment firms, scholars and policymakers, including the former prime minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik and the former

president of Ireland and former head of the UN Human Rights Council, Mary Robinson. Mr Smith said two of the companies involved in the Yadana project, Total and Chevron, had supported revenue transparency through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The World-Bankendorsed EITI sets a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining, with the goal of making natural resources benefit all. It is a “coalition of governments, companies and civil society” that sets a standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive. He added that Chevron had practised revenue transparency in Thailand, “so why not [in] Burma?” Referring to private discussions that Total, the operator of the Yadana project, had had with some of its shareholders, he said: “We’ve been in touch with shareholders who have contacted Total to discuss revenue transparency in Burma, and they were told by Total that the company was contractually restricted from practising transparency in Burma, which is untrue.” The government and the country could only benefit from these sorts of disclosures, the campaigners said. “It’s fundamental information for macroeconomic policymaking,” Dr. Sean Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University, Australia, told Mizzima. “It would have an impact on taxation planning, exchange-rate movements and interest rates.” Burma is routinely listed as the one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and greater scrutiny of oil and gas earnings would improve governance and lead to greater economic stability and development in the long run, according to the campaigners. This kind of transparency would give Burma a greater chance to avoid being robbed blind by its leaders. “The people of Burma have a right to know the financial dealings surrounding the country’s natural resources, including payments made from foreign oil companies,” said Mr Htoo. The activists said this would become even more important if the country did move towards having a civilian government after this year’s planned elections, the activists said. “Burma’s generals are kleptocrats, and the international community should do all it can to avoid aiding and abetting their larceny,” Dr Turnell said.

Retractions. Some corrections have been made in the text above and the following is a retraction of the most obvious errors. “The Burmese junta is a bunch of crooks who are pocketing millions of dollars, siphoned off from these oil companies and should be brought to book,” Mr Smith said. Correction: Matthew Smith states categorically that he never said this.

Out of quotation marks, the story said: The key company in this conglomerate, Chevron, already practises revenue transparency in many of its other operations worldwide, including developing countries. Correction: Chevron is not the “key company”, Matthew Smith told Mizzima, adding: “Total is the operator of the Yadana project and Chevron does not practice revenue transparency in many of its other operations worldwide – I did not say they did.”

“All we are asking them to do is to follow this practice, which they themselves extol,” Mr Smith said. “At previous shareholders’ meetings the company’s senior executives have said that the confidentiality clause in their contracts with the Burmese regime prevents them disclosing this kind of revenue information.” … “This is patently untrue,” said Mr Smith. Correction: Matthew Smith states categorically that he never said this. Further amendment of what was said is included in text above.

A point regarding Total and Chevron: Correction: Matthew Smith states Total not Chevron was the subject of discussion. “We have no information that suggests Chevron told investors they cannot practice transparency in Burma,” he has said since the article was published.

“The people of Burma have a right to know the financial dealings surrounding the country’s natural resources, including payments made to foreign oil companies,” said Mr Htoo. Correction: This should have read “from foreign oil companies”, Matthew Smith said in response to the published article. Source :http://mizzima.com/business/3873-pressure-mounts-on-foreign-energy-firms-in-burma-to-comeclean.html

Win Tin unhappy over EU parleys with junta
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 13:09 Ko Wild Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Though European Union’s extension of its existing economic sanctions against Burma for one more year was welcomed by the National League for Democracy (NLD), Win Tin, a senior leader was unhappy with its decision to continue parleys with the junta. “When we wanted them to apply more pressure on the junta, they still wanted to talk with the regime. We are unhappy with this,” Win Tin a Central Executive Committee member of NLD said. Given that the appalling human rights situation has not shown any improvement, European Union foreign ministers decided to extend sanctions against military-ruled Burma for one more year at a meeting in Luxemberg on April 26. At the same time the meeting decided to send a diplomatic mission to Burma for parleys with the junta. Western countries should persuade veto power holders like China and Russia to take practical actions on Burma through the United Nations Security Council, such as weapons sanctions and strong diplomatic pressure, Win Tin said. EU had imposed sanctions against Burma since 1996. These include, ban on sale of weapons to Burma, halt to visas for regime officials, their families and their cronies so that they are unable to visit EU countries, stopping aid, except humanitarian aid, sealing bank accounts of Burmese military officials, and restricted diplomatic relations with Burma. The judges, who initiated legal action against Aung San Suu Kyi were added to the sanction list last year. EU has also called for the unconditional release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, the chairman of the Union of Myanmar National Political Force, Aye Lwin, who has opposed sanctions by western countries, since 2006, said it is impractical. “The sanction is a negative approach, where it ignores the political, economical and social opportunities of Burmese people while we proceed towards democracy”, he told Mizzima. He pointed out that the EU had said the junta’s electoral laws cannot ensure free and fair election, because the NLD and its allies among ethnic parties did not like the electoral laws. Sanctions affect not only the junta but also the people, so they should revoke the sanction to sympathize with the Burmese people, Aye Lwin added. “Sanctions are an obstacle to investment and it is negative in nature. If the head of a family has been pushed aside, negative effects will impact his family members,” he said. Though Win Tin accepts the fact that sanctions can affect the ordinary people, it hurts the junta more, he felt. “Watering a burning house is not enough, sometimes we need to tear and break bamboo walls and roofs,” he said. London based Burma Campaign (UK), the organization fighting for democracy in Burma, also welcomed the EU’s decision. They said if EU revokes the sanction, the junta will have the opportunity to abuse human rights more freely. The EU statement welcomed and supported the report of Qunitana, the United Nations human rights envoy to Burma. They urged cooperation with the UN envoy. In Quintana’s report, he urged the UN to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Burmese military junta. Source :http://mizzima.com/news/world/3877-win-tin-unhappy-over-eu-parleys-with-junta.html

Suicide bomber targets Burmese police
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS
Published: 28 April 2010

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A man being interrogated by police in Burma detonated a bomb, killing himself and wounding four officers in eastern Karenni state, residents and officials said Wednesday. The bomb Tuesday was the latest in a series of explosions to hit the militaryruled nation in recent weeks, as the reclusive junta government prepares to hold the country’s first elections in 20 years.

Police targeted by suicide bomber in Karenni state (Reuters)

“A man about 30 years old exploded the bomb and killed himself. Four police beside him were injured during the blast at the police station,” a resident of Loikaw town in Karenni state told AFP, requesting anonymity. “We do not know how he exploded the bomb,” he said. An official confirmed the blast and casualties in Loikaw, 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Burma’s economic hub Rangoon. “He had been taken to the police station for questioning as a suspect. Nobody suspected he would do this,” the official said on condition of anonymity. It was unclear exactly why he was taken for questioning and if he had intentionally committed suicide.

Also Tuesday, a series of grenade blasts hit a hydropower plant under construction in neighbouring Bago province, run by Burmese company Asia World Construction. Another of the company’s projects, a controversial dam in Kachin state, was hit by a series of bombs blasts earlier this month, injuring one engineer. Three other bombs on 15 April hit a water festival in Rangoon, in the city’s worst attack in five years. The official death toll from that attack has now risen to 10 people, with at least 170 wounded. Authorities have arrested suspects in relation to the Rangoon blasts, officials said, but declined to give further details while investigations were ongoing. Burma has been hit by several bomb blasts in recent years which the junta has blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic rebels. The latest attacks come as the country prepares for polls, planned for the end of this year, which critics have dismissed as a sham due to the effective barring of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she is a serving prisoner. The military has ruled Burma since 1962, partly justifying its grip on power by the need to fend off ethnic rebellions that have plagued remote border areas for decades. Armed minorities in Karen and Shan states continue to fight the government along the country’s eastern border, alleging they are subject to neglect and mistreatment. Source :http://www.dvb.no/news/suicide-bomber-targets-burmese-police/8797

Burmese blogger wins top US award
By FRANCIS WADE
Published: 28 April 2010

Undated image of Nay Phone Latt Imprisoned Burmese blogger Nay Phone Latt, whose role in disseminating news of the September 2007 uprising in Burma won him international applaud, has received the prestigious PEN/Barbara Goldsmith award. Speaking prior the award ceremony last night in New York, PEN president Kwame Anthony Appiah said that Nay Phone Latt, who was arrested in January 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, “represents a younger generation of Burmese who are longing for freedom and willing to pay the cost of speaking out in its defense”. According to news alerts following his sentencing, the 29-year-old was arrested for posting satirical cartoons of Burmese junta chief Than Shwe on his blog. The charge of “causing public alarm” accounted for two of 20 years he is to spend in prison. He was also a prolific writer, and posted regular articles during the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007 that partly compensated for the media blackout enforced by the regime. Burma has one of the most draconian media environments in the world, and journalists are regularly given painfully long sentences. Aye Aye Than, the mother of Nay Phone Latt, told DVB today that he was already aware of the honour via someone who visited him in prison, and that “he was very happy to win this literature award because that is what he is fond of.” “He didn’t attack or criticise or denounce anyone on his blog. I have no regret about his blogging,” she said, adding that she last visited him on 1 April and “he was in good health”.

Burma ranked 171 out of 175 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index. Appiah, a Ghanaian novelist and philosopher, also lamented the fact that internet censorship had become “one of the great threats to free expression today”. “That Nay Phone Latt is also a poet reminds us that every society speaks with the voice of the imagination as well as through its non-fiction writers. We honor him. We thank him. We ask all who have any influence on the government of Burma to press for his release.” The Burmese junta is expected to intensify its crackdown on journalists in the run-up to elections this year. Around 14 media workers are currently behind bars, some serving sentences of up to 35 years. Nay Phone Latt had been given no legal representation during his trial due to his lawyer being imprisoned the week before. Fellow Burmese activist, comedian and part-journalist, Zarganar, was last year honoured with the PEN/Pinter award for ‘imprisoned writers of courage’ – Zarganar was sentenced in November 2008 to 59 years, later reduced to 35 years, after giving interviews to foreign media in which he criticized the Burmese junta’s reaction to cyclone Nargis in May 2008. PEN, which advocates for global freedom of expression, is the world’s oldest human rights organisation and the oldest international literary organisation. Source :http://www.dvb.no/news/burmese-blogger-wins-top-us-award/8801

Hundreds being interrogated in bomb blast investigations
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 KNG The Burmese military junta has stepped up investigations by arresting and questioning hundreds of local people in connection with the April 17 bomb blasts at the Irrawaddy River Myitsone dam construction site, which killed four people and injured more than 12, residents have alleged. Junta officials including local Military Intelligence (Sa-Ya-Hpa), police, Special Branch Police (SB), Township Peace and Development Council (Ma-Ya-Ka) and army officers are among the investigators said the resident. “Over 100 villagers have been arrested and questioned. Some are still being detained and only a few have been released,” said Awng Wa environmentalist and the leader of Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG). “Yesterday at about 10 a.m. Lu Bawk and her mother were arrested. They have not returned home yet,” he added. The Burmese Army’s Light Infantry (Kha-La-Ya) No. 29 is heading the investigations, he said. A Kachin Baptist Church in Tang Hpre, 27 Residents of Tang Hpre villages located at the Myitsone dam miles north of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, northern Burma. Photo: Kachin construction site are being investigated. The villagers were forced to shift from their home after the project was officially opened in News Group. 2006. More than 15,000 people living around the dam project site fear relocation because of the construction of the hydro power project. “They (villagers) continue to protest against the dam construction peacefully because they stand to lose their farmlands and homes. Now they have fresh troubles being interrogated for the bomb blasts,” added Awng

Wa. Investigations are on not only close to the dam construction site but some people living in Myitkyina the capital of Kachin State and Waingmaw Township, have also been arrested. The April 17 serial bomb blasts occurred in at least five places in the offices of the dam project site in Chyinghkrang and Lungga Zup village killing four, injuring over 12, damaging seven buildings, 10 vehicles, a large electric generator, a garage, two entrance gates and a 2000 gallon fuel tank. After the blasts over 300 Chinese dam construction workers went back to China. “The authorities arrested some KIO members. In some cases whole families have been arrested, while in some cases it is father or the son,” said the KDNG leader. Local businessman Ze Lum, who owns a rubber plantation near the blast sites, has been arrested along with four of his workers on suspicion because he had a problem with Asia World Company after he demanded compensation for 50 acres of rubber plantation, which was burnt down by the contractors. The Irrawaddy Myitsone dam is being implanted by Asia World Company, junta’s No.1 Ministry of Electric Power and China state-owned company China Power Investment Corporation (CPI). Source :http://kachinnews.com/News/Hundreds-being-interrogated-in-bomb-blast-investigations.html

Myanmar generals resign ahead of elections
YANGON, Myanmar, April 28 (UPI) -- Myanmar's prime minister is among several senior military leaders who have stepped down to run in national elections this year. Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Thein Sein will run as a civilian in Myanmar's first elections in 20 years. Although a date for polling hasn't been set, October is thought to be the month. There has been no official announcement about the resignations, numbering more than 20 and including many mid-ranking officers, in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper that acts as the mouthpiece of the junta. But unnamed military sources have confirmed the resignations, a report by the India-based expatriate news agency Mizzima said. The list of resignations includes Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Maj. Gen. Htay Oo, Rail Transport Minister Maj. Gen. Aung Min, Commerce Minister Brig. Gen. Tin Naing Thein and Deputy Home Minister Brig. Gen. Phone Swe. More resignations are likely in the coming weeks, the military source told the Mizzima agency. Head of state Senior Gen. Than Shwe, 73 and in power since 1992, wasn't on the list. Questions have been asked about his health in the past two years because he rarely makes public appearances. He has been thought to have intestinal cancer. One of Shwe's last appearances was at the end of March when he stood to attention alone on a dais saluting rows of marching soldiers during the National Armed Forces Day parade in the new capital city Nay Pyi Taw. Even with a national election, the military has reserved 25 percent of the seats in parliament for their own appointees. This has led critics to call the election undemocratic. Now, with former military leaders running as civilians, the military could effectively swell their ranks in parliament leaving less room for maneuver by any civilian government. Some analysts have said the military might create its own party for the elections based on or within the Union Solidarity and Development Association, the military's mass-participation organization. An election would be the first since 1990 when the National League for Democracy Party won a landslide victory. The generals never allowed the NLD and its leader, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to take office. Suu Kyi has been under some form of detention for most the past 20 years and remains under

house arrest. A law was passed in March disallowing people with criminal convictions from holding office, which means Suu Kyi is barred from political life. Her party didn't register for the election, a position she supported. Suu Kyi's situation and that of other political prisoners has led many countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the United Nations, to question the outcome of an election as being anywhere near democratic in nature. Mark Farmaner, director of the pro-democracy group Burma Campaign based in the United Kingdom, said the election is basically a process to move from a military dictatorship to a civilian one. Whatever the outcome of an election, the government will be wearing suits rather than uniforms but Shwe will remain in charge of the country, he said. Source :http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/04/28/Myanmar-generals-resign-ahead-ofelections/UPI-14181272490579/

Burmese generals quit army to contest election
MORE than 20 members of Burma's ruling junta have resigned from the army in what is widely seen as a plan to stand as civilians in coming elections and thereby prolong military control. The Prime Minister, General Thein Sein, and 22 other cabinet ministers were reported to have given up their uniforms on Monday. The government confirmed their resignation yesterday. No official reason was given, but observers said the move was a precursor to running for election. No date has been given for the vote, the first in 20 years, but it is expected to take place in October or November. The elections will bring into force a new constitution in which a newly created 440-member house of representatives will have 330 elected civilians and 110 military representatives. The junta members who have resigned would be counted as civilians if elected to the chamber. Source :http://www.smh.com.au/world/burmese-generals-quit-army-to-contest-election-20100428tsel.html