Police refuse to file a case reported by monk

Ponnagyun:

The police have refused to register a case despite the reports by the abbot of the Greikpha Monastery in Sittwe, the capital town in Arakan State, for taking action against the assailants who assaulted one of his disciple monks.

The abbot U Zargara is said to have reported to the Ponnagyun Police Station on 26th of April after his disciple U Zina was attacked by a villager and associates at the fishing port of Kanchaung Village in Ponnagyun Township.

“The abbot of our monastery had taken me to the Ponnagyun Police Station to open a case against the attackers because I was the person who was assaulted. The clerk of the township administration office, U San Hla Phaw, was then in the police station as well. The police refused to register the case and dismissed us telling us they would investigate and act upon the case, but they have not taken any action for my case yet”, said U Zina.

U Zina said a drunken villager started the violent attacks on him and his pupil, while they were at the fishing port to hire a boat as the engine of their boat coming from Sittwe had broken down when coming close to Kanchaung Village in Ponnagyun.

“The incident happened around 9 pm on 24th of April when we were helping to send a dead body of a youth from Nyaungpunhla Village in Mrauk-U Township to his home. The youth died of tuberculosis while taking medications in Sittwe hospital. We brought the youth’s body in a boat and when we came close to the Kanchaung Village in Ponnagyun, the boat’s engine broke down. That’s why I and one of my pupils had gone to the fishing port of the village to hire another boat. We were about to leave in the hired boat when a drunken villager accompanied by others suddenly and violently attacked us. I pleaded with him not to attack us, but he did not listen and finally I had to jump off from the boat and flee from the spot. I had to take shelter in nearby Sapahtar Village that night so I could return to my monastery in Sittwe with the help of the village administrator”, said the monk.

The monk said the attackers had beaten his pupil remaining in the boat severely as well.

“I do not know yet why those peoples attacked us. That’s why we reported our case to the police in order to solve our problem. The village administrator of Kanchaung Village also knows the incident well. We have learned later that the attackers had given money to the police and the administrator not to register the case against them”, he said.

Narinjara contacted the police station in Ponnagyun for comment on the incident, but could not reach the station due to the poor phone connection.

When Narinjara contacted the Greikpha Monastery in Sittwe, a lay devotee of the monastery answered the phone and said that the abbot was not in the monastery because He had gone to invigilate the examination of the monks. He however said, “The monks in the monastery are still dissatisfied with the assault on their fellow monk and nearly 60 of them are planning to go to the Kanchaung Village. As we do not want to make the problem bigger, we and the abbot have promised to solve the problem as soon possible as we can.”

He added that they would carry on attempting to bring out the truth behind the gratuitous attack on a Buddhist monk and to take legal action against the assailants.

Myanmar wants to share Bangladesh’s submarine cable: Minister

Dhaka, (UNB) – Post and Telecommunication Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju on Sunday said Myanmar wants to share Bangladesh’s submarine cable on payment basis.

“A minister of Myanmar has invited me to visit the neighboring country to discuss the matter,” he said.

Raziuddin was addressing a seminar titled ‘Submarine Cable Connecting Ocean Going Countries Economic Maritime Boundary’ organised by Engineers Institution, Bangladesh (IEB) at its seminar room.
The seminar was addressed, among others, by IEB president Md Nurul Huda and honorary secretary Md Abdus Sabur. Engineer Khabiruzzaman presented the keynote paper.

The minister said the existing submarine cable of Myanmar is not adequate to serve its demand. “That’s why they expressed their interest to use Bangladesh’s submarine cable.”

He, however, did not make it clear whether Bangladesh would allow Myanmar to use it.

The minister also said the government would launch the much-hyped 3G mobile phone in July or August, while the 4G mobile service in December this year.

In his presentation, Khabiruzzaman said presently 9 million people in Bangladesh are using internet service while the global users of internet are 2.5 billion.

He said 58.5 percent (86.5 million) people of the country are now using mobile phone, while its global users 5.6 billion people or 80 percent.

Burma Top Weapons Buyer in a Decade Among Embargoed Countries

Burma is the top weapons buyer among countries under arms embargoes around the world, according to a report of the Oxfam Aid Agency issued on Thursday.

Burma bought $600 million worth of weapons between 2000 and 2010, the report said.

In the decade from 2000 to 2010, countries under arms embargoes have imported more than $2.2 billion worth of weapons, Oxfam said.

Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo are second and third on the list. Iran purchased an estimated $574 million in weapons from 2007 to 2010, and the DRC spent $124 million from 2000 to 2002, the report said.

There have been 26 UN, regional, or multilateral arms embargoes in force during this period, the report said. The United Nations is to hold talks on a new arms trade treaty in July.

Oxfam’s report, “The Devil is in the Detail,” calls for tighter global rules and says that the global trade in consumer goods such as bananas, coffee, and cocoa, is more tightly regulated than the arms trade.

Oxfam said the illegal trade reinforces the case for “robust” and legally binding laws on the sale and transfer of arms.

Oxfam arms control campaigner Anna Macdonald said that the challenge is to ensure the new treaty is really strong. It must unambiguously stop arms transfers where they would fuel conflict, poverty, or human rights abuses.

“Existing arms embargoes are far to easy to break or ignore. The lack of international regulation means that states under embargo have been importing whatever weapons they choose with impunity.” she said.

Oxfam said there is “an intricate patchwork of regional and sub-regional agreements, but this lacks structure and coherence, allowing states to continue importing and trading weapons despite the UN or other types of embargoes.”

Macdonald added, “How can the sale of bananas be more tightly controlled than the sale of machine guns? It just doesn’t make sense.”

The aid group said the proposed new arms trade treaty must block weapon transfer where there is a substantial risk they will be used to violate international human rights or humanitarian law, or undermine development.

“Our position is clear: a weak treaty would be worse than no treaty at all, as this would merely legitimise the existing flawed system,” said Macdonald.

 

Arakanese Leaders Comment on Entry of Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD to Parliament

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party the National League for Democracy has entered parliament, despite a disagreement over the oath of office to which she and her party yielded on the use of the current word “safeguard” instead of their demand for use of the word “respect”.

This entry to the parliament has sparked different opinions among people. Reporter Maung Rammar from Narinjara has contacted several political leaders from Arakan State to provide comments, as Arakan is one of the most politically active states in Burma. The leaders commented as follows:

U Aye Thar Aung – senior politician and General Secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy

“I would like to assert first that it is not possible to build a truly democratic state without amending the 2008 constitution, even though Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has entered parliament. During the earlier discussions on the issue of party registration and competition in the by-elections, it was noted that it is important to amend the 2008 constitution. Without amending this constitution, Burma won’t be a democratic state. There would be no national reconciliation. Civil war can not be stopped. Therefore, everyone sees that amending the 2008 constitution is the ultimate goal. They might encounter difficulties in amending the constitution inside parliament. Therefore, if amendment of the 2008 constitution is to be accomplished, they have to seek assistance from the forces outside parliament, and the general public. Let along the amendment of constitution, even this small issue of the oath of office wording can not be amended, the amendment of the constitution will face several difficulties; so I analyze. Thus, when in parliament, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has more than 40, USDP has a great number of them, plus 25% military MPs, therefore, it is not easy to change the parliament and they will surely face difficulties. Therefore, rather than inside parliament, I prefer that forces outside parliament only will help.”

Dr. Aye Maung – President of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party

“Burmese politics will change. We must be instrumental in changing. We say when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi arrives that our forces are supplemented. We feel we are warm with her presence. We welcome her. When we think about the future of Burma, we have to analyze the struggles of the NLD since 1988 as we recognize that the NLD is a force behind national reconciliation and general peace in the country.

One more think is that is is difficult to change ‘table 4’, as everyone knows. The NLD has also recognized that several difficulties will have to be face in the amendment of the constitution. But I believe that the NLD has planned for 2015 and made a move right now. Change will need time and time will also create people who will want change. I believe that after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been in office one or two years, one section after another of constitutional amendments will be considered according to the will of the people. There are also many people who want change. Even the USDP has the same in mind.”

Dr. Khin Maung – President of the National United Party of Arakan

“The opposition groups receive some sort of force because Daw Suu is in parliament. At the same time, I see that the peoples’ voices are more powerful inside parliament. On the other hand, she did not get what she wanted when she asked for the oath of office edit. So, even when this small word can not be replaced, there would be more difficulties in changing more important things such as laws. In addition, when we look at the parliament, 25% of the MPs are military men, who can not be easily persuaded to side with you. And the rule is also that to change the constitution, she needs to get more than a 75% majority vote. So, it’s not a very easy task for her. No matter what, she came to the parliament over the request of the opposition groups, also because her will to fight for the people from inside parliament, and her will to change the constitution. Because of all these factors, she entered parliament by reciting ‘safeguarding’ the constitution. In any event, I think her entry to the parliament might be a hope for the opposition and the people.”

Ashin U Thiha – President of the Rakhine Sangha Union

“There is a hint of change and development right now, no matter what. However, change will not come easily. Because they don’t have a political will to change the 2008 constitution. The NLD is going to fight in the space that is presented and thus, there might be some changes. Change is coming but might not be significant. As there are 25% military MPs in the parliament, they will conduct affairs according to the USDP’s policies. The government will not relax their policies and procedures. NLD has to fight, but even if they do, they won’t get it easy.”

Daw Saw Mra Raza Lin – President of the Rakhine Women’s Union

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s entry to the parliament is an encouragement for the ethnic parties and their MPs. That’s why they persuaded Daw Aung San Suu Kyi patiently to enter the parliament. Is she going to stay as an opposition leader in parliament of is she going to accept a post appointed by the U Thein Sein government? We have to wait and see. Out of one of these choices will speak of the benefits for political change and her leadership role.

She did not accept the 2008 constitution, and thus, did not compete in the 2010 election. I guess that they have vision that the constitution will be changed with majority choice, that’s why perhaps they competed in the 2011 election. We are still wondering to what extent they will be able to materialize their basic election missions, such as rule of law, domestic peace, and constitutional amendment. I would also like to comment on the oath of office dispute. I do not think that the two words ‘safeguard’ and ‘respect’ are that different. I clearly see that competing in the election is basically following the rules of the constitution. Mere entry into the parliament of Aung San Suu Kyi will not equate political change. It is not an accomplishment to just wait and rely on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi alone either. We need people to surround her and to support her. All must also try their best in the meantime.”

Ministers should show care with how they talk during the time of increasing media freedom

Naypyidaw: ‘In an era of increasing media freedoms in Myanmar, government ministers should think carefully before they express their thoughts’ U Pe Than, an MP from Mraybon township, told Narinjara yesterday.

He made these remarks during an interview with Narinjara regarding U Myint Hlaing, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, who had to formally apologize to the MPs from the parliament.

‘He loses a lot of credibility because of this incident where he had to make a formal apology. It seems that the people developed a bad impression of the MPs because of this too. I hope that government ministers rein in their unscrupulous speeches in the future’ said he.

‘Other people should also take lessons out of this occasion and if no further episode of this kind happened in the future; there would be no more glitches between Ministers and MPs’ he continued.

Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, U Myint Hlaing, remarked in an interview with Hot News Journal that MPs are not educated, did not even pass High School and were acting in Parliament without proper care of affairs, reported a domestic Journal called ‘Hot News Journal’ on the 23rd of March.

This comment sparked fury among the MPs as they felt they were insulted and reported the statement to the  Parliament Affair Committee.

This Committee inquired about the incident on the 27th March by summoning him. Then, he replied that he said so with concern for the good-will of the country and had no intention to insult the MPs; the media outlet misunderstood his observation; and that he respects both the parliament and the MPs and he confirmed no intent of offense and said it was just lost in translation’ explained U Pe Than.

Minister U Myint Hlaing is reported to have said that he felt regret because of the unnecessary event and that he was even ready to bow down to show respect in front of the MPs if necessary.

‘He said he learnt a lot of lessons from this experience. In the utmost, he was told by the committee that he willingly or unwillingly created an occasion which can be interpreted as an offence and he was asked if he would be willing to make a formal apology for the felony of personal offence and he admitted. He said he even was ready to show traditional respect-giving posture towards the MPs if asked so’ U Pe Than elaborated.

This is the first of this kind of formal apology from a Union Minister at the Parliament since the introduction of Parliament in Myanmar and MPs in the parliament received the apology with total satisfaction.

Muslims Allowed Free Travel in Maungdaw

Maungdaw: Muslims living in Maungdaw Township in western Burma’s Arakan State have been allowed to travel freely within their own township without prior approval starting from 21 April.

Maungdaw gate

The commander of Burma’s border security and immigration force, Nasaka, Colonel Aung Gyi, reportedly announced the new travel policy for Muslims in Maungdaw during a meeting with Muslim elders at 10 am on 21 April.

“Nasaka commander called upon the Muslim elders, including the chairman of the District Islam Council, Dr. U Tun Aung, U Mohammad Sidique, U Khin Zaw, and U Nur Harkim, and told them that Muslims in Maungdaw Townships are allowed to travel without approval – such as the village-exit approval – but with a temporary identification card and other red and white cards, and just within the township,” said one of the Muslim elders.

This is the first time travel restrictions on Muslims have been eased in more than two decades, since 1988, when the military took power and tightly restricted the movement of Muslims.

The minister of immigration, U Khin Yi, in a recent question and answer session in the people’s parliament, stated that travel restrictions have to be imposed on Muslims living in Buthidaung and Maungdaw Townships on the western Burmese border because those areas are close to the over-populated Bangladesh and inspection by immigration is very necessary there.

“They are now allowed to travel freely in Maungdaw Township and no travel approval is necessary for them. There is no approval such as village-exit, but it is likely they are telling about travel approval. Now no approval is necessary for their travels,” confirmed the administrator of Maungdaw Township.

Narinjara was disconnected from the administrator on the phone and was unable to get further information on why the travel restrictions in Maungdaw are now being eased after more than 20 years.

“We are happy because we are now allowed to travel freely in our township and feel that this is a success for us amid many difficulties. But repairing the mosques and Arabic schools are still not allowed and marriage still remains restricted,” said the Muslim elder.

According to local authority sources, Muslims in Maungdaw are allowed to marry after applying to the Nasaka authorities because early marriage and polygamy are allegedly common in the Muslim communities.

However, Nasaka officials use the restriction to make a profit by selling the marriage permits to Muslims at a price that ranges from 3,000 to 100,000 Kyat.

It was also learned that the Form 4 and travel approval from the responsible authorities, as well as identification cards, are still necessary for Muslim residents to travel outside of Maungdaw, and free travel is only allowed within the township itself.

Bangladesh Celebrates Sea Victory Over Burma

Dhaka: Bangladesh celebrated its victory over Burma in a sea boundary dispute on 28 April in front of the parliament building in Dhaka and honored Prime Minister Sheik Hasina in the ceremony.

Prime minister Sheikh-Hassina receives a replica of a boat at a civic reception.

The ceremony was organized by the Bangladesh National Citizen’s Committee and had the participation of thousands of citizens to celebrate the country’s recent victory over Burma in the dispute.

Chairman of the National Citizen’s Committee, Prof. Zillur Rahman Siddiqui, presented a crest to Premier Sheik Hasina on behalf of the people honoring her leadership in the government for security victory in the maritime dispute with Burma.

“Our national leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led our country during its Liberation War and his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also led our country in its maritime boundary case with [Burma], and under her righteous leadership the country has achieved victory in the case. Such achievements of the father and daughter are unique in world history,” said one of the organizers during a speech at the ceremony.

According to the recent verdict of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Bangladesh has exclusive economic and territorial rights for 200 miles into the Bay of Bengal, a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 miles, and a full 12-mile territorial area around St. Martin Island.

While speaking at the ceremony,Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “This is not my victory, but the victory of the people who have supported my government of the next generation.”

She also expressed thanks to her foreign minister, Dipu Moni, the officials involved, the Bangladesh Navy, and others for their efforts to bring the country’s maritime case with Burma to the ITLOS and for gaining victory.

Bangladesh’s famous singers and dancers attended the ceremony and entertained the crowd with their performances to celebrate the sea victory as well.

The Burmese regime stated that the ITLOS settled the case with a fair judgement.

Bangladesh and Burma had two minister-level and six expert-level bilateral negotiations for delimitation of the territorial sea in the Bay of Bengal between the two countries from 1974 to 1986, but they had to suspend negotiations without reaching any agreement in July 1986. In November 2008, when Burma tried to carry out gas exploration in the disputed sea, the two countries had escalating tension with naval confrontations, but the conflict was resolved without fighting when they agreed to solve the dispute using peaceful means. They held four expert-level meetings in the period from March 2008 to July 2009, but they were still unable to solve their dispute and agreed to bring it to the UN’s ITLOS. Their dispute was finally settled by the jurisdiction of the ITLOS on 14 March, 2012.

MPs Invited to Attend Parliament on NLD’s Oath Day

Naypyi Daw: Even though the two parliamentary houses, or Htut-Taws, have concluded their 23rd session, MPs have been invited to reconvene and attend Htut-Taw to observe the National League for Democracy representatives take their oaths of office, said U Pe Than, and MP From Mraybon Township in Arakan State.

“Both Htut-Taw sessions – the Union and People’s Parliament – have ended, but a declaration was made today (Monday) that on the 2nd of May, Htut-Taws will be reconvened because MPs from the NLD will be taking their oath,” U Pe Than confirmed.

He added that some MPs from faraway places have already purchased air tickets or bus tickets to return home because today’s session was the last day of the regular Htut-Taw meetings. “When they are told that some MPs have already bought air and bus tickets, permission was given that those who have bought tickets can skip the upcoming meeting. Therefore, some people will attend while others will be absent,” he explained.

He also expressed appreciation over the decision of the NLD to attend the Htut-Taw meetings by submitting the issue of wording in the oath of office.

“This is good. We are expecting the NLD and we are happy to hear the news. Because of NLD’s compromise, things will be quick and smooth. Otherwise, due to this word choice issue, time would be wasted, but now they are moving forward. It can be taken as a positive development for the country and we are glad,” U Pe Than elaborated.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced on Monday to the media that the NLD will attend parliament by taking the oath on 2 May, because the people and democratic parties wish for the NLD to attend the parliament meetings.

Residents of Kyaukpru to stage protest if their monastery’s land is confiscated

Kyauk Pru: The residents in Kyaukpru in Arakan State say they have agreed to stage a protest in their recent meeting if a plot of land in the premises of the Nagarkyaung Monastery, the biggest and the most ancient Buddhist monastery in the town, is confiscated by the authorities.

The Ngarkyung Monastery

A local elder told Narinjara that they, the residents of the town, had held a meeting from 4 to 6 pm on 25th of April in the Nagarkyaung Monastery following the move carried out by the ministry of electrical power no. 2 to confiscate the plot of land in front of the monastery for the building of a sub power house.

“The ministry of electrical power no. 2 measured and marked with posts on the ground in front of the Nagarkyaung monastery. We have learned that a sub power house is planned to be built on that marked plot, we, the residents, held a meeting yesterday in the monastery and no one wants any structure to be built on the ground in front of the monastery and we reached a decision to stage a protest if the authorities forcibly confiscate the land and build the power house”, said the elder.

He said that over 20 elders including the abbot of the monastery attended the meeting and decided in one voice to protest against the construction of the power house on their religious land.

“That is the ground we have been using for holding religious functions in the town. As the ground is situated in the premises of the monastery and close to the residential wards, it is not suitable for a power house as well. They [authorities] can select another location for their power house outside the town away from the monastery and the residential wards. That is why we have decided in one voice to protest against them if they proceed with their plan”, he added.

It is learnt that the town people have informed the matter to U Ba Shin, the MP of the Peoples’ Parliament from the town and he is said to have supported the peoples’ decision as well.

The deputy minister of the electrical power no. 2 is said to have inspected and selected the ground in front of the monastery along with the local authorities while he was in Kyaukpru last week and announced that the power house would be build on the ground despite the dissent from the town peoples.

According to the town residents, Burmese officials are now eyeing the religious lands in Kyaukpru after they have already confiscated most of the public lands in and around the town under various titles and sold them out for their own profits.