Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says Burma is just an ethnic nationality on 65th Union Day

Rangoon: Myanmar’s democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has stated that Burman is just an ethnic nationality in the union of Burma. She said this in the ceremony of celebrating the 65th Union Day that was held by the six ethnic brotherhood parties in Rangoon, said U Hla Saw, the general secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said she recognizes the role of ethnic nationalities, also saying she generally supports the genuine union that is demanded by the ethnic peoples for equal ethnic rights. The wonderful words she stated in the ceremony are that Burma is also an ethnic nationality in the union”, said U Hla Saw.

He said the union day celebration was held by the Nationality Brotherhood Forum that is founded by the six ethnic political parties for their political collaborations.

“What Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke about in the ceremony is the point that we must discuss among our ethnic forces as well. We have never heard Burma mentioned as an ethnic nationality though the other seven nationalities are being mentioned as ethnic nationalities in the political history of Burma”, said U Hla Saw.

He said Burma is never described as an ethnic nationality; while the other people living in different regions in the union of Burma are being called Karen ethnic, Rakhine ethnic, Kachin ethnic and so on.

U Hla Saw also said their ethnic political parties have collaborated and observed the union day in order to show their desire for a union that guarantees democracy and equal ethnic rights.

“Ethnic conflicts are the most important problems in our country and without democracy it will be difficult to solve those problems. At present, ethnic democratic parties are officially allowed to stand and the government has also agreed to ceasefires with the ethnic armed groups that are fighting for the ethnic rights. These are the constructive signs with respect to our union if we compare this to the eras of BSPP, SLORC or SPDC governments. As we hope for a more meaningful union that guarantees democracy and equal ethnic rights, we the ethnic parties have observed the union day collaboratively”, said U Hla Saw.

He said that a statement on the day was also jointly issued by the parties of the forum, and he read the statement to the attendees in the ceremony.

“I did not deliver any formal speech in the ceremony, but I gave the introductory speech spotlighting the present situations facing the ethnic regions before reading our parties’ statement on the union day”, he said.

According to their statement, Burma gained independence after all ethnic nationalities in the country agreed to build a union that guarantees democracy and equality of rights on this day, but the union that coined the independence since then has never existed until today and the ethnic states at present have become the poorest, the most backward, the most suppressed and the most war-torn regions in the false union.

The parties also urged the other forces of democracy in their statement to work together and strive for turning Burma into a genuine union in the present transitional period to democracy.

U Sai Nyaunt Lwin of the Shan National League for Democracy, who was recently released from prison, and other prominent politicians were also said to have attended the ceremony of the union day that was held collaboratively by the ethnic political parties.

RNDP publishes a monograph concerning electricity in Arakan State

Sittwe: The leading Arakanese political party, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) has published a monograph that informs the general public about the Shwe Gas Project and their basic need for electricity to continue developments in Arakan State.

The publication is titled “Presentation to the Arakanese peoples for the rights to electricity from Shwe Gas Project” and has been circulated in all areas in Arakan State by the party.

“We have published the monograph in order to raise awareness among our Arakanese people about our natural gas reserves and our basic need for electricity for our own developments in our region”, said one of the monograph distributors from the party.

The present situation in the production of natural gas from the “Shwe” offshore gas reserves, the size of gas found in the reserves and the management by the union government of the gas, and the present electricity situation in Arakan State are the main subjects written in the monograph.

The questions and answers concerning the Shwe Gas Project and the electricity situation in Arakan State between the MPs of the RNDP and the Union Ministers in the houses of parliament are also mentioned in the monograph.

According to the monograph, Arakan State receives less than 1% of the electricity that is supplied to the whole of Burma despite its enormous gas reserves and other natural resources. Due to the lack of a sufficient electricity supply, the region has been reduced to the second poorest and the most under-developed region in the country suffering from backwardness in all sectors, including agriculture and industry.

It said that the present central government however continues to neglect the fact that Arakan State needs sufficient electricity for its own developments, and has planned to export natural gas from the region to China, and to supply some of the gas to the industries in central Burma without considering Arakan State.

The monograph in its conclusion said that it is a Arakanese national affair and every Arakanese is responsible to demand the supply of sufficient electricity to their native region from the power generated from natural gas from the Shwe Gas Project, which is in Arakan State.

According to the distributor, the monograph has been distributed to all areas in Arakan State, this started last January.

Burmese authorities scrutinizes Arakanese writers public lectures

Rambree: Burmese authorities have scrutinized the public lectures that were given by Arakanese writers in Ramere Township in Arakan State, though they had encouraged the public lectures by Burmese writers in the area.

A local youth told Narinjara that the township authority summoned the organizers of the public lectures that were held with well-known Arakanese writers last week to his office and ordered them to submit the records of the lectures.

“Our township administrator U Aung Thu summoned our youth leaders who organized the public lectures with well-known Arakanese writers to his office and interrogated them about holding the lectures in the area. And as he had ordered them to submit all records of the lectures that include documents, audio and video recordings to his office, they had to send the records to him yesterday” said the youth.

He however said the township administrator had not taken similar actions to the public lectures that were recently held by the well-known Burmese writers in the area and the administrator himself had attended to listen to the lectures by the writers.

“Burmese well-known writers who included Nunjar Thaing, Gitar Phay Win and Annawar Soe Moe came and held their public lectures before the end of last year in our Ramere Township. Then the administrator himself attended the lectures and he did not take any actions like he has done to the lectures of our Arakanese writers. The peoples here are now feeling sorry because they are being discriminated against by the Burmese authorities” said the youth.

According to the youth, the administrator of Ramere Township U Aung Thu is an ethnic Burman and he told the youths that he had to send records of the lectures to the district and state level administrations.

The well-known Arakanese writer U Kyaw Htun Aung (Tak Tun Ne), U Hla Myint of the Rakhine Thar Gree Publishing House, U Saw Kyaw, and the teachers of the Scholar School in Rangoon Daw Nhin Yu Shwe and Daw Htoo May were said to be the main speakers at the public lectures in Ramere Township.

“They have not given any lectures that are opposed to the government and nation in our township. They have just given the lectures on the subjects of our development, preserving our own cultural heritage and values, our unity and our native land, our literature, history and international education and development”, said the youth.

He said not only the youths, but also many local people who include writers and admirers of literature had attended in the Arakanese writers’ public lectures that were held for the first time in the Ramere Township from the 7th to the 9th of February.

An elder from the area also said the public lectures are very significant for widening the knowledge of the general public and the authorities should not restrict such events either directly or indirectly.

“I am very upset to know from our youths that our government authorities have taken such actions against the public lectures in our township. I believe those actions are nothing more than an indirect threat in order to restrict the public lectures in our area. They should not restrict such events either directly or indirectly because public lectures are very important for widening the knowledge of general people”, said the elder.

Rambree: Burmese authorities have scrutinized the public lectures that were given by Arakanese writers in Ramere Township in Arakan State, though they had encouraged the public lectures by Burmese writers in the area.

U-Kyaw-Tun-Aung-in-Rambree

A local youth told Narinjara that the township authority summoned the organizers of the public lectures that were held with well-known Arakanese writers last week to his office and ordered them to submit the records of the lectures.

“Our township administrator U Aung Thu summoned our youth leaders who organized the public lectures with well-known Arakanese writers to his office and interrogated them about holding the lectures in the area. And as he had ordered them to submit all records of the lectures that include documents, audio and video recordings to his office, they had to send the records to him yesterday” said the youth.

He however said the township administrator had not taken similar actions to the public lectures that were recently held by the well-known Burmese writers in the area and the administrator himself had attended to listen to the lectures by the writers.

“Burmese well-known writers who included Nunjar Thaing, Gitar Phay Win and Annawar Soe Moe came and held their public lectures before the end of last year in our Ramere Township. Then the administrator himself attended the lectures and he did not take any actions like he has done to the lectures of our Arakanese writers. The peoples here are now feeling sorry because they are being discriminated against by the Burmese authorities” said the youth.

According to the youth, the administrator of Ramere Township U Aung Thu is an ethnic Burman and he told the youths that he had to send records of the lectures to the district and state level administrations.

The well-known Arakanese writer U Kyaw Htun Aung (Tak Tun Ne), U Hla Myint of the Rakhine Thar Gree Publishing House, U Saw Kyaw, and the teachers of the Scholar School in Rangoon Daw Nhin Yu Shwe and Daw Htoo May were said to be the main speakers at the public lectures in Ramere Township.

Rambree-RNDP-meeting

“They have not given any lectures that are opposed to the government and nation in our township. They have just given the lectures on the subjects of our development, preserving our own cultural heritage and values, our unity and our native land, our literature, history and international education and development”, said the youth.

He said not only the youths, but also many local people who include writers and admirers of literature had attended in the Arakanese writers’ public lectures that were held for the first time in the Ramere Township from the 7th to the 9th of February.

An elder from the area also said the public lectures are very significant for widening the knowledge of the general public and the authorities should not restrict such events either directly or indirectly.

“I am very upset to know from our youths that our government authorities have taken such actions against the public lectures in our township. I believe those actions are nothing more than an indirect threat in order to restrict the public lectures in our area. They should not restrict such events either directly or indirectly because public lectures are very important for widening the knowledge of general people”, said the elder.

 

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Memorial Service for Arakanese Leaders Killed by Indian Army Held Around the World

Dhaka: The memorial service for Bo Raza and other revolutionary leaders who were assassinated by the Indian army in 1998 was held by the Arakanese diaspora in countries around the world on 11 February, 2012.

Ceremonies were held by Arakanese exile communities in the USA, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand on 11 February to commemorate Bo Raza and the other five Arakanese and Karen leaders who were killed by the Indian army on an island in Indian territory on the same day in 1998.

“Today is a historic blood day of our community because on this day 14 years ago our patriotic leader Bo Raza and another five leaders were killed in cold blood by the Indian army on Landfall Island in the Andaman Archipelago of India. Even though it has been 14 years, we are unable to forget them,” said Arakanese youth Ko Ba Khin, who led the memorial service in the USA.

Arakanese in Bangladesh also held a memorial service for Bo Raza and the other five leaders in the town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, with Ko Pho Hla, president of the Arakan Freedom Movement, and other senior leaders delivering speeches.

“Bo Raza greatly sacrificed his life for the freedom of Arakan. He did not make any mistakes against India, but India killed him. We people have never forgotten this incident and they are still alive in our heart and soul. Our young generations have to follow the path of Bo Raza in order to get our freedom,” U Pho Hla told attendees at the ceremony.

Memorial service for Boraza and other leaders in USA.

Memorial service for Boraza and other leaders in USA.

“The time has reached 14 years but the Arakanese people still remember Bo Raza and the other five leaders,” said a youth in Malaysia who also urged the people of Arakan to not forget the incident and to hold the memorial ceremony both in Arakan and in other countries every year.

The incident happened in February 1998 when India’s intelligent officer Grewal lured forces from the Arakan Army, the armed wing of NUPA led by Bo Raza, and the Karen National Union based on the Thai-Burma border with fake bonds on the pretense of providing a secret naval base on Landfall Island in the Andamans.

After staying for one night to celebrate the warm welcome of their arrival on the island, Indian soldiers killed the six leaders – Bo Raza, Major Saw Tun, Major Ran Naing, Captain Lin Zan Khaing, Phado Mu Lwe, and Captain Soe Myint – and detained the remaining 36 others on charges of gun-running in what Indian forces called “Operation Leech”.

It was also learned that among the assassinated leaders. Major Saw Tun and Major Ran Naing were coming together with the military officer from the Indian army headquarters in the capital of New Delhi to receive Bo Raza and the others coming from Thailand.

Grewal, who masterminded the plan to kill the men, also managed to kill Nyi Nyi Kyaw, the in-charge of the NUPA office in Bangkok, Thailand, after the assassination, with the aim of destroying all documents and photos that evidenced his plot to kill the Arakanese leaders and imprison their forces who were fighting against the Burmese regime for democracy and human rights in their own homeland.

Additionally, the Indian army had secretly taken Ran Naing, an Arakanese rebel, and another Karen rebel who were skilled at sea navigation, from the 36 detainees jailed in the Port Blair Prison on Andaman Island and executed them.

The remaining 34 Arakanese and Karen freedom fighters were finally released by Indian authorities on 13 May of this year after 13 years in prison.

Local residents have no knowledge about Kaladan Project: U Pu Zozam

Sittwe: Local residents living along the Kaladan River in western Burma’s Chin and Arakan states have little or no knowledge about the Indian-backed Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project, said U Pu Zozam, the president of the Chin National Party.

U Pu Zozam led a study-team, and had done field-research on the project travelling along the Kaladan River between Sittwe in Arakan State and Paletwa in Chin State on the Indian border from the 5th to the 8th of February.

He told Narinjara after coming back from his 4-day research tour that the local residents are still not informed of what they should know about the project in their region.

I have found out that the local residents do not know yet such a big infrastructure project is under construction in their area. As such they do not know what the effects on them by the project will be, and they even do not know who are doing what in their respective regions relating to the project”, he said.

Most of peoples living along the Kaladan River are farmers and fishers earning their livelihoods depending on the river.

U Pu Zozam said the cultivations in a number of townships along the river in Arakan State will suffer from inundations if the river is dredged for the project.

“We have found out that the paddy fields in low-lying areas in Sittwe and Ponnagyun Townships will suffer from flooding with sea-water if the river is to be dredged for the project. There are so many villages living on cultivations that depend on the river at the upper river areas, and those cultivations will also be hurt after dredging the river”, said U Pu Zozam.

He said his team had especially studied the local peoples’ knowledge about the project and how the project will impact their livelihoods, adding that it will publicize what it has found out after thorough analysis to the concerned authorities and general people.

India’s Essar Company is now constructing $ 120 million Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project jointly with the Max (Myanmar) Company. The project consists of upgrading the port in Sittwe for accessing 6,000 ton cargo vessels, dredging the river route to Paletwa, and a 200 km road from Paletwa to Mizoram State in India.

The project was proposed by the Indian government under a framework agreement with the Burmese military regime in 2008 and will be finalized in 2013. It is said to be designed to increase the bilateral trade between both countries and to give a new trade route to the land-locked northeastern states in India.

NLD Opens Office in Arakan State

Man Aung: The National League for Democracy (NLD) has opened an office in Manaung Township in southern Arakan State on the 9th February.

U Maung Maung, the vice chairman of NLD in Manaung Township said the office was opened at his residence in Myothit Ward in downtown Manaung.

“We opened our township office along with a signboard placing ceremony at 8 am yesterday in my residence. Over 800 local people, including our members attended in the ceremony”, said U Maung Maung.

He said the NLD has over 3,000 former members and is now working to extend new membership in Manaung Township.

“There are so many people who support the NLD in our township, we have re-opened our office here especially to serve the interests of our people and to help them solve their long-suffering difficulties in the area”, he said.

U Maung Muang said that there are township-level and state-level leading committees working for the NLD offices in Arakan State and a 21-member committee has also been formed for the office in Manaung Township, in which U Shwe Aung is the Chairman, he and U Sein Thaung are the vice-chairmen and U Than Ngwe is the secretary.

It is learnt that the other political parties that include the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the National Unity Party have already opened their respective offices in Manaung Township as well.

Fire Guts Over 740 Stores in Thandwe’s Biggest Market

Thandwe: A fire that broke out in Myoma Market in Thandwe in southeastern Arakan State in the early morning on 11 February gutted over 740 stores in the market, said an official of the local fire service.

“According our current list, over 740 stores in the market were completely destroyed in the fire, but we have yet to collect the details of the losses and at the moment it is difficult for us to tell or estimate the details and value of losses in the market fire,” said the official.

A local woman who witnessed the incident said the fire started around 5 am and died out at 7:45 am after it had torn through all the shops in the market.

“The blazes of the fire were very fierce. The fire servicemen together with shop owners and civilians living nearly the market made all out efforts to put out the flames, but it eventually died out after burning all the shops in the market,” said the woman.

She added that the market is the largest in the town and the losses would be very high.

“Everyone in the town is sorry about the market fire and I do not know what to say to the shop owners of the market who are now in deep sorrow at their losses. I have seen some of them were weeping and running here and there in the streets after the fire,” said the woman.

A town elder said the fire gutted the whole market because of the lack of a modern fire defense system, sufficient fire engines, or skilled servicemen, besides the civilians’ negligence or lack of preparedness for the fire in the town.

He added the town’s residents are also troubled because the market is the town’s largest and the prices of commodities have jumped after the market was lost to the fire.

This is the second largest fire to hit a market in Arakan State in three months, after a fire gutted 567 shops in the main market in Minbya and caused losses of an estimated thousand million kyat on 12 November.

Chief Minister’s Deputed Signer Manipulates Arakan State’s Affairs

Sittwe: A retired army officer who is deputed to sign on behalf of the Chief Minister of the Arakan State, U Hla Maung Tin, has been manipulating affairs of the state, this is concerning to the regional government, according to the senior officials of the government.

Sittwe tower

The person is known as the retired colonel U Zaw Thein who was recently appointed as the state administrator in Arakan State government.

“U Zaw Thein was a high profile officer of the military regime, and still remains in Arakan State government. He has the right to sign on behalf of the State Chief Minister U Hla Maung Tin because he has now been appointed as the general administrator of the state. He is now misusing his authority even above U Hla Maung Tin and manipulating all affairs of the state”, said a senior official of the government on condition of anonymity.

A minister in the government also said U Zaw Thein has meddled in every affair of the government and the members of the government including the Chief Minister U Hla Maung Tin. Members are unable to work out their procedures without his consent.

“U Zaw Thein is a retired officer of the military regime and he still has the power to turn upside-down our regional government. He doesn’t care for any of the ministers including the Chief Minister U Hla Maung Tin in our government. As he knows everything good or bad about Arakan State, even U Hla Maung Tin does not dare to do anything beyond him”, said the minister.

According to the sources, U Zaw Thein has engaged in a number of bribery cases and has sold a plot of public land in Sittwe, the capital in Arakan State, to a local businessman after registering the land under his wife’s name.

“Everyone in the government knows he is misusing his authority and no one dares to speak out about his misbehaviour and corruption. He has been involved in a number of bribery cases and even sold a plot of public land in Sittwe to a businessman after registering the land in his wife’s name”, said the senior officer.

He said the land is situated in No. 15, Kyepuntan Ward, Group (42), North Myoma Group in Sittwe and was sold to the businessman at the price of 20 million kyat.

U Zaw Thein is said to have controlled the permits for all trades and businesses in Arakan State and has been granting the permits after signing them on behalf of the state’s chief minister as well.

According to the local business sources, he is also extensively engaged with the smuggling rackets in the region, which include timber and cattle smuggling to neighbouring Bangladesh by taking bribes from the smugglers.

ALD: Re-registering the party will not hurt Arakan’s national unity

By Maung Rammer
————————
Rangoon: Re-registering the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) that won the majority of votes in the 1990 elections in western Burma’s Arakan State will not hurt national unity in the region, said a senior leader of the party.

U Aye Tha Aung, the general secretary of the ALD, told this to Narinjara while many Arakanese are speculating that the party’s re-registration will have negative effects on national unity in the region.

“We will continue to strengthen national unity after re-registering our party. We will also hold talks with the present Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, after then we will know how we can work together for our national interests. It will not be happen like people are worrying that national unity will be ruined if our party re-registers because our party is also striving for national unity and national interests”, said U Aye Tha Aung.

The RNDP emerged as the major vote wining party in 2010 election in Arakan State as there was no other Arakanese national party, including the ALD competing in the election except the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Many Arakanese are now speculating and calculating that there will become two major national parties in their region if the ALD registers again, and their national unity as well as their votes will be divided and the middle strong parties such as the USDP will sweep away the winning votes in the coming election that will be held in 2015.

“We have not held any formal organizational talks with the RNDP yet, but we have had individual talks with its leaders. After registering our party, we intend to hold formal talks between our parties”, said U Aye Tha Aung.

He said his party has decided to be registered as a political party again with the ambition to strive for building a federal union that can guarantee the rights of the ethnic nationalities and internal peace, though the party together with the NLD did not register for the 2010 election so as to oppose the 2008 constitution drawn by the SPDC military regime.

“We have said that our party would be registered when the political prisoners who include U Khun Htun Oo, Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi were freed from the prison. Now that they are freed, we plan to register our party, but we have no intention to contest the coming by-elections”, said U Aye Tha Aung.

He said that his party is now collecting the biographies, agreements and photographs from its members in Arakan State as preparations to register the party after the coming by-elections are finished.

The Arakan League for Democracy was established on 27 September 1989 in Rangoon based upon the Arakan National Union that was born in Arakan State during the nationwide democracy uprising in 1988 in accordance with the rules declared by the then military regime “State Law and Order Restoration Council” and was registered with the then election commission on 2 October 1989. It won 11 seats in Arakan State in the 1990’s election, but never had a chance to take office, and it was later forcibly abolished by the Burmese military regime on the charge that it failed to submit its list of central committee members to the election commission.

Rights Violations Continue in Arakan State, Arakanese Leader tells Quintana

By Maung Rammer
————————
Rangoon: An Arakanese political leader, U Aye Tha Aung, says he has told the UN Special human rights envoy to Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana that the violations of basic human rights are still continuing in western Burma’s Arakan State.

U Aye Tha Aung is general secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy that won overwhelming votes in the 1990 election in Arakan State and he told Quintana of the present human rights situation in his native region when he met him on the evening of the 3rd of February as one of the representatives of the ethnic nationalities in Burma.

Quintana visited Burma for his six-day human rights mission that started on the 31st of January, and met the representatives of ethnic nationalities in the country as part of his mission.

“I have told Quintana that human rights violations in Arakan State are still continuing in various ways like in the eras of the SLORC and the SPDC, and that forcible farmland confiscations are the worst form of violation in the region, and that those violations have been badly hurting the people in the region, particularly in socio-economical and educational aspects”, said U Aye Tha Aung.

He said the other ethnic leaders who included U Khun Htun Oo, the Chairman of the Shan National League for Democracy, and U Pu Kyin Htan, the Chairman of Zomi National Congress, told of the violations and suffering of peoples in their respective regions as well.

He also said the ethnic leaders told Quintana to urge the present Burmese regime to reform the country according to the Panlong Agreements that coined Burma’s independence with the peaceful co-existences of all ethnic peoples in the country.

“We told Quintana that the ceasefires are not enough to build a peaceful Burma and the present Burmese regime needs to work on the fundamentals of the Panlong agreements or treaty that ethnic peoples have been longing for since the Burma’s independence, in order to turn Burma into a genuinely peaceful and stable country”, said U Aye Tha Aung.

Quintana is said to report his findings on his present mission in Burma to the UN’s Human Rights Council in May 2012 and to the UN’s general convention in October 2012 respectively.

It was Quintana’s fifth visit to Burma since he was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the country in March 2008 and the second since a new government took over state power in March 2011.