NLD launches feeding program for malnourished children in Taungup

The National League for Democracy (NLD) in Taungup in Arakan State has launched a feeding program for local children who are suffering from malnourishment after it recently opened its office in the town.

The party started the program on the 4th of March feeding milk porridge to nearly 500 malnourished children in its office in U Oattama Road in Guetar Ward in Taungup.

U Khin Hla, the regional secretary of the NLD in Arakan State, said they would feed children under five years old who are malnourished twice a month in their office.

“Most of the children especially those who are living in the outskirts of the town are suffering from malnutrition because their parents are very poor and unable to feed them properly. That is why we have planned to feed those children a supplementary nutrition twice a month in our office”, said U Khin Hla.

He said his party has also managed transportation for the children and their parents to come for the supplementary feeding in its office.

According to him, the party has run the feeding program with the funds that are raised from selling posters, journals and t-shirts of the party and from local well-wishers and is also planning to donate medicine to the poor families and books to the public libraries in the rural villages near the town.

The NLD opened its office in Taungup on 22 February 2012 and has done so with the similar offices in Rambree, Thandwe, Man Aung, Kyaukpru and Sittwe in Arakan State as well. It is learnt that the party is also planning to open its regional head office in Sittwe on March 25 and its area offices in the remaining township of Pauktaw, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Gwa in Arakan State.

Nasaka and BGB agree to fight cross-border drug smuggling

Maungdaw: The border security force of Burma Nasaka and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) reportedly agreed to fight against the cross-border illegal drug trading in their commander-level meeting that was recently held in Burma.

The 12-member BGB team led by Lt. Col Khalequzzaman, the commander of 17 battallion of the BGB held a flag meeting with the 9-member Nasaka team led by Major Than Htike Aung, the commander of Nasaka area no. 3, on 5th of March in Taungbro in Maungdaw Township.

A BGB source said the Nasaka had agreed to help stop the smuggling of Yaba tablets and liquor from Burma into Bangladesh.

“Nasaka have agreed with us in the meeting especially to prevent Yaba and liquor that are illegally pouring into Bangladesh from Burma every day and night as well as the illegal immigration of Burmese people into our country”, said the source.

The source said that other bilateral issues between the two countries were also discussed in their meeting.

It is learnt that the border guard forces of the two countries will hold the flag-meeting again on 18 March in Cox’s Bazar, a border sea resort town in Bangladesh.

2 feared dead and 6 missing after passenger-boat capsized in Rambree

Rambree: Two people are feared dead and six others are missing after a passenger motor-boat capsized in Rambree in southeastern Arakan State.

A local resident from Rambree told Narinjara that the boat was owned by U Shwe Myint from Taungup, and drowned in Kalanetaung River in Rambree Township around 4 pm on the 5th of March while driving to Mraybon.

“There were 37 passengers on board when the boat capsized in the river. Two of them were found dead and six others are still missing while the remaining 29 were saved by the nearby fishing boats in the river”, said the resident.

He said the two dead bodies so far found are of a child and an old woman and they were sent to the public hospital for identification. The other six people are still missing.

The boat was said to be sunk by a sudden strong wind while crossing the river after it departed from Tharatchaung fishing port in Rambree Township.

According to the victims who were saved from the mishap, their boat capsized after being hit by three huge waves that were triggered by a sudden strong wind in the river.

It is learnt that two people were also dead after a local boat capsized in the Kalanetaung River at this time last year as well.

Local youths campaign for share of benefits from Shwe gas

Kyauk Pru: Local youths in Kyaukpru in southeastern Arakan State have launched a peaceful campaign on Thursday demanding rights and benefits from the Shwe Gas Project in their area.

A leader of the youths said over 50 of them were wearing t-shirts that bear the motto of “Our Gas, Our Future” and fastening banners that read “Utilize Gas from Arakan’s Shwe Gas for Arakan” in front of their cars. They held a procession through the town and a prayer ceremony at the famous Kantkawtaw Pagoda in the town.

“We first gathered at 7 am in the Nagar Ground in U Oattama Road and held a procession in two cars through the town and a prayer ceremony at Kantkawtaw Pagoda. We held the prayer ceremony at the pagoda because the pagoda is very close to the office of the Shwe gas project in our town”, said the youth leader.

Their campaign has also coincided with the global campaign against the Shwe gas project that is scheduled to be held today (1st of March) by the Thailand-based Shwe Gas Movement.

The youth said local authorities who include Kyaukpru’s district and township administrators, police and military intelligence followed and interrogated them about their campaign while they were holding the prayer ceremony in the pagoda and inspected the licenses of the cars that transported them for their procession.

“The authorities asked us what our next plans were, and then we told them that we have no other plan other than to peacefully demand a share of rights and benefits from Arakan’s Shwe Gas for Arakan state and that what we want are also featured on our t-shirts and banners”, he said.

The youth said that they have no intention to disturb or suspend the project, but they were asking what the local peoples should have or get from the project in their home region.

“We can say our campaign is widely supported by the whole population of the town because we have seen many people unusually wearing our campaign t-shirts everywhere around the town today”, said the youth.

Anger and dissatisfaction over the Shwe Gas Project have been growing among the local residents in Arakan State since the Burmese regime announced that it has already planned to export 90 percent of the gas from the project to China through the pipeline and to supply the remaining 10 percent of the gas to the industries in Mandalay and Magwe Divisions in central Burma.

Because of this the local people have been rising to voice concerns and call for their rights and share of benefits from the project in their home region following the regime announcement that has totally neglected to utilize any portion of the gas from the project for their regional development.

The Burmese regime will start to export the natural gas from the Shwe offshore gas fields block A-1 and A-3 to China through the pipeline from 2013 and will earn an estimated $29 billion USD from the gas exports over 30 years.

RNDP Welcomes New Mro Party

Sittwe: The Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the current leading political party in Arakan State, said it welcomed the emergence of a political party the represents the minority Mro people in the region.

The Mro Nationalities Party was granted to register as a political party by the Union Election Commission on 28 February.

“We are glad for a new ethnic political party that has come to exist in our Arakan State. Our party itself is the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party that is not formed for the Rakhine people alone but for all national people – such as Mro, Dainak, Thet, and Khami – in our region, for their equal rights. We welcome and accept the party as one of our brothers’ political parties,” said U Hla Saw, secretary of the RNDP.

He added that his party is always ready to collaborate with other ethnic political parties in Arakan State for the development and equality of rights among the ethnic people in the region.

“According to the constitution, there is one ministry for the ethnic Chin people in our region, but the ministry is now represented by a minister from the USDP and not by the Chin candidate or leader. We would like to see the Chin constituency represented by genuine Chin people in our region and that is why we support and encourage the emergence of such political parties in our region. We are always ready to work together with those parties for the development and equality of rights in our region,” he said.

The Mro Nationalities Party is said to have opened its head office in No, 245 in Ward No. 4, in Buthidaung in northern Arakan State, with the aim of working for the development of Mro people in the region.

Mro are one of the regional ethnic minority people in Arakan State, and they are currently living in the hills in northern Arakan State and southern Chin State. Their population is estimated at over 20,000 in the region.

ALD Re-Registers as Political Party

Yangon: The Arakan League for Democracy, or ALD, which won the third most votes in the 1990 election, has officially re-registered as a political party, said a spokesperson of the party.

“The delegates of our party already re-registered the party with the Union Election Commission in Naypyidaw on the 27th of February,” said U Aye Thar Aung, the party’s senior leader, adding, “We have used the party’s original monogram and flag for the registration and it may take nearly a month to get the registration from the commission.” U Aye Thar Aung said his party is continuing to do its regular activities while waiting for the grant of officially registered status.

“We are continuing to do what we are doing as a political party while waiting for the grant of official registration by the election commission. We have regular coordination meeting in our party as well as other ethnic political parties such as the Zomi Congress Party, the Shan National League for Democracy, the Mon National Democratic Front, and the Kachin Party, and discussion with youth on every Sunday,” he said.

He said those ethnic political parties have also decided to register with the union election commission very soon.

The Arakan League for Democracy was founded on 27 September 1989 in Rangoon with a nine-member central executive committee in which U Oo Thar Tun was elected as the patron, Dr. Saw Mra Aung as the chairman, Dr. San Tun and U Aye as vice-chairmen, U Aye Phay as general secretary, U Aye Thar Aung as the joint-general secretary, along with another three individuals, including U Oo Hla Saw, the current secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

The party registered as a political party o 2 October 1989 and won 11 seats in Arakan State in the 1990 election. The results were later abolished by the Burmese military regime on charges that the party failed to submit its list of central committee members to the election commission.

NLD opens office in Kyaukpru

By Maung Rammer
Kyauk Pru: The National League for Democracy (NLD) has opened a branch office in Kyaukpru, a township in southern Arakan state, on 26 February.

This is the sixth township office the NLD has re-opened in Arakan State since it re-registered with the union election commission as a political party.

The acting Chairman of NLD of Arakan State, U Maung Krun Aung, inaugurated the office opening ceremony and addressed the opening speech in the ceremony.

“We have opened our offices here in order to increase the support of the people to our party so that we can work out our main policy of developing democracy for the people of our country”, said U Maung Krun Aung.

He said the NLD has already opened offices in the townships of Rambray, Thandwe, Toungup, Man Aung, Sittwe and Kyaukpru, and has a plan to open offices in all townships in Arakan State after opening the regional head office in Sittwe to canvas votes in the region for the 2015 election.

“We have planned to open our offices in all townships in Arakan State. We have already opened the township office in Sittwe on 25 March and after that we will continue to open offices in other remaining townships in the region”, said U Maung Krun Aung.

Over 400 people including supporters and invited representatives from other parties attended the office opening ceremony of the NLD in Kyaukpru. The local authorities closely watched the ceremony, but they did not cause any disturbance to the ceremony.

Nine Shwe Gas Campaigners Detained and Interrogated in Rangoon

Yangon: Nine activists in the campaign against the Shwe Gas Project were briefly detained and interrogated by local authorities in Tharkaeta Township on Thursday while they were running the campaign in the area, said one of the activists, Daw Mar Mar.

“Nine of us were taken and interrogated by the local authorities while we were holding the campaign in Rangoon’s Tharkaeta as part of the Global Campaign against the Shwe Gas Project that was held internationally today,” said Daw Mar Mar.

Daw Mar Mar said she and four other activists were first arrested and taken to the village administration office in the township by a team of authorities, which included U San Maung, an officer of the township administration, the village administrator, and a police detective, while they were distributing t-shirts and brochures that feature information on the Arakanese families in the village.

“Five of us were first arrested and kept in the village administration office and after 20 minutes, they brought another four people who were wearing the campaign’s t-shirts to the office and asked us why we were holding the campaign, and told us that we got entangled with the law because we had distributed illegal papers among the public,” she said.

She added that they were arrested around 8 am and released after 1 pm after the authorities in the township administration office made them sign a statement claiming responsibility for the campaign.

“When we were in the village administration office, some officers of the special branch police came into the office and interrogated us and reported to their higher authorities, and then they brought us to the Tharkaeta Township administration office and released us as after making us sign that we were responsible for the campaign,” said Daw Mar Mar.

She said over 300 people had actively participated in their campaign by wearing the t-shirts that bear the slogan, “Our Gas, Our Future”.

Five Burmese Injured in Attacks by Indian Workers

Kyauk Pru: Five officials from a Burmese company were injured when Indian workers attacked their office at a work site of the Shwe Gas Project in Kyuakpru in western Burma’s Arakan State.

A local contractor working with the Burmese company said its name is “Parami” and it supplies water to the work stations of the gas pipeline construction in Kyaukpru Township. They said five officials from the company were injured when the Indian workers attacked their office with rods and brickbats and assaulted them.

“Nearly 100 Indian workers from the basic pipeline construction station no. 1 in Pyatae Village in the area attacked the Parami office around 10:00pm on 24 October because of the shortage of water at their station. They not only beat the officials at the office but also destroyed the glass windows and doors of the office with rods and brickbats,” said the contractor.

He added that the five victims, including Ko Zaw Zaw Thein, the office-in-charge, and Ko Thu Aung, an engineer, were injured when they were beaten by the workers during the attack.

The attack reportedly stopped after local police arrived and intervened.

According to the source, the Parami Company has taken the responsibility to supply 10,000 gallons of water per day for 400 workers at the workers’ station in Pyatae Village, and it has been gathering the water from a nearby spring at Mintattaung in the area and purifying it before providing it to the workers.

Due to the hot weather in the area, the water levels in the spring have dropped, and the company has only been able to supply 8,000 gallons of water to the station per day. This has caused an insufficiency of water at the station, and the angry workers attacked the office in retaliation.

When contacted by Narinjara, one company official confirmed the attack but said they had been ordered by Parami and the local law enforcement not disclose any details about the incident.