RNDP and USDP argue in Parliament on renewal of Arakan states’s flag and nationals dresses

Sittwe: Legislators from both Rakhine National Development Party(  RNDP) and Union Solidarity Development Party (USDA) in the Arakan state parliament argued yesterday on a proposal of a USDA representative who proposed to  renew the Arakan state flag and its people’s national dresses, according to parliament sources.

U Tha Nyunt, who is a legislator of USDA from  Man Aung Township as well as  vice chairman of the Arakan state parliament,  proposed to renew the Arakan state flag and national dresses of Arakanese people in the parliament because they are currently not appropriated with present or modern world.

Because of this, U Tha Nyunt proposed in parliament to renew the Arakan state flag and the national dresses of Arakanese, the source said.

Another USDP  legislator from Buthidaung Township, U Maung San Shwe, supported  the proposal of U Tha Nyut in the parliament to renew the flag and dresses of Arakanese.

Within the time, the Chairman of Arakan state parliament, U Htin Lin, proposed to approve the proposal of U Tha Nyunt, and asked if there is any opposition to his proposal.  Afterward, U Aung Mra Kyaw, the legislator of RNDP from Sittwe Township, stood up and told in the parliament that he opposed the proposal.

When Narinjara asked U Aung Mra Kyaw over the phone yesterday why he opposed the proposal of U Tha Nyunt on the renewal of Arakan state flag and national dresses, he said, “It is not the right time to renew our state flag and national dresses. It is a sensitive issue and we all need to consider the issue seriously before making a decision because it concerns all Arakanese people. That is the reason why I opposed the proposal on the renewal of flag and dresses proposed by the USDP representative.”

After U Aung Mra Kyaw opposed the proposal, the Chairman of Arakan state parliament, U Htin Lin , announced putting it to a vote in accordance with rules of parliament.

In Arakan state parliament, there are 14 representatives of RNDP, 13 representatives of USDA and 15 representatives of army.

“We were defeated by the USDP with 14 votes against 28 votes.  15 army representatives supported the proposal of the USDP against us. Because of this, we lost,” said U Aung Mra Kyaw.

In next Monday’s parliament session, the USDP representative is likely to propose to form a committee tasked with the implementation and adoption of the renewal of the Arakan state flag and Arakanese national dresses. In the time, the RNDP is also going to  oppose the formation of the committee for the renewal of the flag and dresses, RNDP sources said.

RNDP is now preparing to hold a public meeting  in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan,  to collect public opinion to against the USDP propose flag and dresses renewal .

Police Reject Case for Youth Beaten for Wearing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi T-Shirt

Buthidaung: Police in Buthidaung in Arakan State have refused to accept a case that was filed by a local youth who was assaulted allegedly for wearing a t-shirt printed with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture.

“I went to Seinnyinpyin Village on my bike on Thursday to take some papers while wearing a t-shirt with Daw Suu’s picture. When I was there, a youth known as Kyu Kyu hit my face with his fists though I had done nothing wrong to him. There were so many people and police there as well when he assaulted me,” the victim, Ko Ray Thein told Narinjara.

He said the assailant left his face wounded and ran away from the scene after people nearby came and intervened.

“I reported the incident to the Myoma Police Station in Buthidaung at 11 am on Friday to take legal action against my assailant, but the on-duty police officer, SP Ba Phyu, told me that they could not register the case against him. The station in-charge, U Tun Hline, and the township in-charge of police, U Aung Thar Win, were also there and told me the same, and I had to leave the station as they refused to accept the case,” he said.

He said the police refused to accept his case most likely because of his frequent activities in the town supporting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“The police here do not like me for my frequent political activities in Buthidaung. I was attacked in 2010 as well, though I had no personal enmity with the people here. I had then also lodged a complaint with the police, but they did not take any action in that case either,” he said.

Ray Thein said he has no personal enmity or problem with Kyu Kyu, but the authority and police of Seinnyinpyin Village put him up to the attack.

“I support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi especially for her policies for the ethnic people in the country, but the people, particularly the authorities and police, do not like me for supporting her, and they forced Kyu Kyu to hit me when I was going to Seinnyinpyin Village yesterday wearing the t-shirt with her picture,” he said.

The Myoma Police Station did not pick up phone calls when contacted by Narinjara for a comment on the matter.

Ray Thein is well known for his activist activities in Buthidaung and was briefly arrested by authorities for his solo protest on 2 September, 2007, when he held a placard inscribed with demands for a decrease in commodity and gasoline prices.

“Ko Ray Thein is the son of U Ray Tin and Daw Thein Ye, and he is well known for his political activities in Buthidaung. He was assaulted yesterday though he had not done anything that would impinge on anyone except for wearing the t-shirt with the picture of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He complained of the matter to the police, but they refused to accept his complaints. Now we are planning to report the matter to our head office in Rangoon,” said a member of the National League for Democracy from Buthidaung. He said that Ray Thein is also a member of the NLD and has been carrying out political activities in Buthidaung.

Villagers’ charcoals confiscated for Nasaka officer’s forthcoming water festival expenses

Maung Aye

Buthidaung: A corporal of the Burmese border security force Nasaka that is deployed on the western border in Arakan State confiscated numerous bags of charcoal from the local villagers, allegedly for his officer for necessary expenses in the coming new year water festival.

The corporal Thein Htoo is said to have confiscated the bags of charcoals from the villagers claiming they were illegal goods after he was ordered by Captain San Yu Aung, who is in charge of the station in Nyaungchaung under Nasaka Area No. 9 in southern Buthidaung in order to find 10 lakh kyat for his personal expenses in the water festival.

“The bags of charcoal that were collected by the villagers of Doetan and Pharonchaung Villages were confiscated— 160 bags from U Kyaw Sein, 350 bags from U Aung Naing Oo and 110 bags from Daw Than Ma Chay— by Corporal Thein Htoo after coming to the villages in civilian clothing without informing even the administrators of the villages”, said a local village elder.

The villagers are said to have collected the charcoal to sell in the urban markets during the rainy season when charcoal is getting scarce, after paying a monthly toll of 20,000 kyat to the Nasaka station to trade.

The village elder said when the Nasaka corporal was asked why he was confiscating the charcoal for which the villagers had already paid a monthly toll, he answered that he had to confiscate the charcoal to make 10 lakh kyat for the captain for his water festival expenses.

One of the village administrators also confirmed that the charcoal was confiscated by the Nasaka personnel from their villages, but he said he did not know the purpose of the confiscation.

A resident from Nyaungchaung also said the confiscated charcoal was already sold to a trader from Buthidaung adding that the Nasaka forces used to make money in various ways for their families whenever this kind of seasonal festival is approaching, generally extorting the local villagers in area.

A bag of charcoal is currently sold at 850 kyat, 1,100 Kyat and 1,200 kyat depending on the quality in the markets in the area.

According to the source from Nyaungchaung Nasaka Station, Corporal Thein Htoo who confiscated the charcoal from the villagers bears the personal identification number of Kye Ka-Pa 705714 and Captain San Yu Aung bears the number of Kye Ka-Pa 43870.

According to the local villagers, it has been nearly 4 years that Corporal Thein Htoo has been extorting them, bribing and flattering his senior officers in the station.

ALP and Burmese Regime Start Peace Talks on 4 April

Mae Sot: The Arakan Liberation Party and the Burmese regime will start regional level peace talks on 4 April in Sittwe, the capital of western Burma’s Arakan State, according to a senior member of the ALP.

U Khaing Soe Nating Aung in press conference.

U Khine Soe Naing Aung, Vice-President of the ALP, told Narinjara that he would lead his party’s delegation while U Aung Thaung, leader of the union-level peacemaking group, and U Hla Maung Tin, Chief Minister of Arakan State, would lead the regime’s delegation for their peace talks.

“There are two levels of peace talks – the state level and the union level – and we have now planned to hold the state-level peace talks for the first time,” said U Khine Soe Naing Aung.

“We will discuss in our forthcoming state-level peace talks with the government on the agendas that are: Ceasefire; Delimitation of areas for the ALP’s forces and government’s forces on the frontline; Withdrawal of the government’s forces from the ALP areas; Opening offices for communication between the ALP and the government; Travel permits for ALP’s soldiers to travel across the nation while unarmed; and official declaration of a nationwide ceasefire by the government,” he added.

The ALP, however, said in a statement issued on 10 March after its second annual meeting of the central committee, that the ceasefire being sought by the U Thein Sein-led regime is only a temporary ceasefire that will not be stable for the long term.

When asked why the ALP accepted the peace negotiations despite a lack of faith in the U Thein Sein-led regime, U Khine Soe Naing Aung said, “We have to accept the peace negotiations with them according to the current political tactics, and if we would refuse to accept those talks we would be seen by our people and international community as having no desire for peace in our country.”

It was also learned that the ALP has already selected 21 member from its bases on the borders of Thailand, India, and Bangladesh to serve in the delegation for peace talks in Sittwe.

3 Arakanese youths escape from forced military service

Maung Aye

Buthidaung: Three Arakanese youths have escaped after they were tricked with job opportunities and forcibly recruited in the Burmese army.

The youths are reportedly the residents of Arkarpyan Village under Kinchaung Village Group in Buthidaung Township in northern Arakan State and are identified as Aye Kyaw Tun, son of U Maung Mya, Aung Soe Maung, son of U Maung Than Tun, and Maung Tun Lunn, son of U Shwe Win.

“They were taken by Shwe Thein from the Engineer Battalion No. (1) based in Buthidaung, Sergeant Than Shwe and U Than Zaw from Myoma Ward of Buthidaung to Sittwe on the promise that they would earn 3,000 Kyat per day on February 12, 2012”,said one of their relatives.

Their relative said that they were forced to join to the army by their military brokers after they were taken to the basic military camp no. 3 in Magwe in central Burma on the premise that the factories in Sittwe were shut down.

“The military personnel forced them to join to the army with threat when they were in the basic military camp in Magwe. After they continued to refuse to do so, they were given time to  reconsider. In the meantime they managed to escape from the camp on March 9 and came back to Buthidaung on March 17”, said the relative.

The youths were said to have escaped from the camp risking their lives for their freedom with no money and food on their way back home.

“They were extremely exhausted and in dire physical weakness when they came back to Buthidaung. They told us that they had to come back home begging for help from the people on their way escaping from the military camp, sometimes on buses and sometimes walking and that they had to skip five meals on their way”, said the source.

The office of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party in Buthidaung also confirmed that the story of the youths is true, and they have now come back to their homes.


RNDP’s Weekly Warned for Politically Sensitive Story

Yangon: The censorship board has recently warned the weekly publication of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the leading Arakanese political party in western Burma’s Arakan State, for publishing a story it deems sensitive to the country’s politics.

RNDP's Weekly Warned for Politically Sensitive StoryU Myo Naing, publisher of the RNDP’s “The Development Journal”, told Narinjara that he was summoned and warned by the censorship board for publishing and article titled, “From the Green Uniform Democracy to the Yellow Skirt Democracy” in a recent publication of the journal.

“I was summoned and warned by the censorship board on 17 March regarding the article “From the Green Uniform Democracy to the Yellow Skirt Democracy”, written by Toe Tak Khine and presented in Vol. 2, No. 4 of our journal that was published on 29 February. I was also made to sign a promise after being warned to never publish such a story in the journal in the future,” said U Myo Naing.

He said the censorship board issued the warning in reference to an order that was passed during the rule of the previous SPDC regime.

“They told me that they had to object to that article according to Directive No. 44 that was issued during the reign of the previous SPDC regime. The article is written on different topics, including an analysis of the laws that were enforced by the recent military regimes, but they did not tell us exactly what content in the story led them to issue the warning,” he said.

Ten copies of each publication of the journal have to be submitted to the censorship board just after they are printed, he said, adding that this is the second warning the journal has received since it was established.

“This is the second warning we have ever received and we have nothing to say about those warnings, but we have to be careful for our writings not to entangle with the rules of the censorship board in our future publications because we have to publish our journal within the boundary of laws and rules,” said U Myo Naing.

When asked for an opinion on the censorship board’s warning, the general secretary of the RNDP,  U Hla Saw, said he was disappointed in the warning as it has come about as the central government is working to promote press freedom in the country.

“After all, there is no contentious topic written in that article published in our journal, but it is written about some events that really happened during the ages of the old political system in our region. We feel disappointed because our journal was warned for such a small matter at the same time when Union Minister U Kyaw San was working together with UNESCO and international journalists for the development of media laws and freedom in the country,” said U Hla Saw.

However, he said his party can understand the censorship board has to work in accordance with the old principles in this matter, adding that the party hopes there will be more press freedom after new principles and laws for the media are enforced in the near future.

The RNDP has been publishing the journal three times a month since 2011, with 5,000 copies printed for each issue. Journal issue Volume 2, No. 4 that was hit by the warning from the censorship board was the 16th publication from the party. The journal can be subscribed to for 1,000 Kyat a month.

It was also learned that the journal is very popular among the Arakanese people for spotlighting what is currently happening in Arakan State.

Burmese regime plans to take away two recently found ancient Arakanese canons

Kyauk Taw: Burmese regime has taken two ancient Arakanese canons that were recently exhibited in Mahamuni Museum in Kyauktaw to Sittwe in Arakan State with a plan to send them to Burma’s Capital Naypyitaw.

Two cannons were displayed at the museum of the Maha Muni Shrine in Kyauk Taw.

“One of the cannons is made of bronze while another is of iron. They have already been taken from the local museum to Sittwe on the orders of U Zaw Zaw Tun, the Director of the Directorate of the Cultural Ministry in Arakan State. It is heard that the canons will be sent to Naypyitaw very soon”, said U Kyaw Tun Aung, a retired Arakanese archaeologist.

The canons were said to be found by local farmer U Aung Sein Win while he was digging the dykes of his paddy fields near Waygreechaung Village in Kyauktaw Township on 7 March 2012.

U Aung Sein Win handed over the canons to the township administrator on 9 March 2012, and then the administrator transferred them to the Mahamuni Museum for exhibition.

“The bronze canon is 3 feet 9 inches long and 4 inches wide in diameter and is made in the form of dragon while the iron one is 4 feet long and 3 inches wide in diameter and made in the form of sugar-cane stem. They were taken away from the museum in Kyauktaw to Sittwe on 24 March by U Kyi Shein, the curator of the Mrauk-U Museum, by the order of U Zaw Zaw Tun”, said U Kyaw Tun Aung.

According to him, the cannons were used in the Mrauk-U age in Arakan in 17th and 18th century A.D. to fight against the Portuguese and Dutch invading forces.

Thu Mrat Maha Aung Mray, a well-known historian from Kyauktaw, said it is a great loss for all Arakanese people to lose the ancient canons from the land of Arakan State.

“Mahamuni Museum opened here in Kyauktaw with the main aims to preserve and exhibit our ancient cultural heritages that are found from the area. We are very upset to know those ancient canons were taken away from the museum to Naypyitaw. We feel that the loss of those canons from the museum are a loss for all Arakanese people”, said Thu Mrat Maha Aung Mray.

It is learnt that the backlash against the Burmese authorities is growing among the local people in Kyauktaw after the newly-found ancient Arakanese artifacts were taken away from the museum in their area to Burma’s new capital Naypyitaw.

NLD opens Arakan State regional office in Sittwe

The National League for Democracy (NLD) opened its regional office of Arakan state in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan, on Sunday to carry out party affairs effectively, said party leaders from Arakan state.

NLD-office-in-Sittwe“   There isn’t any candidates in Arakan state for the NLD in the upcoming by election on the 1st of April but we opened the regional office for Arakan state in Sittwe on Sunday to carry out our activities effectively in future,” U Nyi Pu, chairman of NLD’s Arakan state.

U Nyi Pu who was the elected representative of NLD from Gwa Township in the 1990 election as well as a former political prisoner inaugurated the office in Sittwe at 8 AM on the day. During the office opening ceremony, U Nyi Pu also delivered a speech to the attendees.

Many NLD senior leaders including some representatives who won in Arakan state in the 1990 election,  from 17 Townships  of  Arakan state joined the opening ceremony of the regional office of Arakan state. According to sources, over 200 party members attended the opening ceremony in Sittwe.

“ We opened many township offices in our state before the regional office in Sittwe. Even though we opened many offices in our state, we don’t have many plans currently for our party except organizing people and increasing party members,” said U Nyi Pu.

NLD won 9 seats in Arakan state in the 1990 election which was denied recognition by Burma’s military government at the time, the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

There are many political parties in Arakan state at present including the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party(RNDP) , the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National Unity Party and some ethnic nationalities parties in Arakan.

The parties of RNDP and USDP in Arakan state are the rival parties of NLD in Arakan state for next election which is scheduled to be held in 2015.

27 Buddhist monks demand handover of Sittwe-Buthidaung ships back to government

27 Buddhist monks from downtown Buthidaung in western Burma’s Arakan State have written a letter to a company owner who has taken lease on the public ships that are sailing between their town and the regional capital Sittwe demanding to return them back to government citing public difficulties for travel on the itinerary.

The ferry ship ply in Buthidaung and Sittwe water route ( Photo by Narinjara)

“The poor people are now unable to travel between Sittwe and Buthidaung even for matters of life and death because of the expensive ship fares on the route. That is why we, 27 Buddhist monks from downtown Buthidaung, have written to the owner of the Nagarmin Company, U Kyaw Nyaunt, with our own signatures and demanded him to reduce the ship fare to the former rate, or to hand over the ships sailing on the route back to the government”, said Ven. U Thawma, the head monk of the group.

Sittwe-Buthidaung shipping line is the most public traveling line in the region, and the ship fare on the route has been raised six times the former rate since the line was privatized by the government in 2011.

“The fare was only 500 Kyat when the government was operating the ship line, but it has been increased six times to 3,000 Kyat after the Nagarmin Company took on the line. This hurts the people in our town because most of them are unable to afford Kyat 10,000 or 20,000 to travel from their town to Sittwe. That is the reason why we demand the company reduces the ship fare for our poor people”, said the monk.

There are three ships namely Dynyawady (1), (2) and (3) sailing between the Sittwe and Buthidaung. The government has hired those ships out to the local private company Nagarmin from 12 July 2011. The monks are said to have written their demand to reduce the ship fare while the government and the company are planning to sign the extension of their contract on 26 March.

“We have written to the company before they sign the extension of their contract with the government, but the company owner U Kyaw Nyaunt has not responded to us yet. If they fail to accede to our demands, we will try step by step until the ship fare is reduced to the former government’s rate. It is very difficult for people in our town to earn 1,000 Kyat per day and they have now to face this difficulty with their travel because of the enormous hike in the ship fare”, said Ven. U Thawma.

The Nagarmin Company declined to give any comment on the issue when contacted by the Narinjara as well.

A woman who is living nearby the harbor in Buthidaung also said the peoples in her town and adjacent areas have been badly affected since the government privatized the public ship line between Buthidaung and Sittwe.

“There is no road link between Buthidaung and Sittwe, and the riverine route is the only viable transportation for the people in our town and other adjacent areas to travel to Sittwe. So many people have been suffering great difficulties with their travel as well as their their trading since the private company has taken on the public shipping line from the government and increased the ship fare by six times”, said the woman.

She said that there were many peoples in Rathedaung, Nyaungchaung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw who were earning their livelihoods by trading vegetables and farming and other products depending on the cheap public ship line, but most of them have been ruined in their businesses since the ship fare has increased after leasing the ship line to the private company.

U Kyaw Chay, a school teacher from downtown Buthidaung, also said public faith in the successive Burmese regime has been declining in their region due to the regimes’ negligence of the public sector in the region where the people are suffering from stringent poverty.

“We can say the successive Burmese governments have no desire to take on any obligations for the people in our region because they will privatize the public sectors that will not bring any profits to them. Now the sectors of shipping and electricity in the region have already been handed over to private companies without considering the sufferings of the peoples in the region. That is why no people in the region have respect or faith in the government”, said the teacher.

U Thawma said they would try their best with their own strategies without drawing public involvement until the ship line is handed back to the hand of government by the company.

Bangladesh to add offshore gas blocks after dispute with Burma ends

Saleem Samad – AHN News Correspondent (March 22, 2012 at 11:41 AM)

Dhaka, Bangladesh (AHN) – Bangladesh wants to add two new offshore oil and gas exploration blocks to the country’s map in the eastern Bay of Bengal. A top official says Dhaka will mapping the block after the United Nations ends a territorial dispute with Burma, also known as Myanmar.

The dispute’s resolution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on March, 14 may also clear Burma’s claims over six existing blocks. The tribunal based in Hamburg, Germany, upheld Bangladesh’s claim to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond, thus ending its maritime boundary dispute with Burma.

Bangladesh will establish a fresh demarcation of its offshore gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal, state-owned Petrobangla’s Chairman Hussain Monsur said Thursday. The government asked Petrobangla to prepare a new map with the gas blocks properly demarcated in keeping with the international ruling, Monsur added.

Days after the victory at a U.N. court on Bangladesh’s maritime boundary claims the Bangladesh Navy made its first patrol across the settled boundary.

In 2008, Bangladesh floated its offshore block bidding for oil and gas exploration and a U.S. company ConocoPhillips signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for two blocks — DS 10 and 11. Of these, a part of block 10 is claimed by India and a part of block 11 by Myanmar.