Burma The Change Coming

The ongoing process for democracy-

Around 200 monks from several monasteries in Pakokku staged a walking protest at 8.30 this morning, according to a monk who participated in the march. The monk said that the protest was a continuation of last month’s demonstrations as he said the monks’ demands have still not been met. “Our demands are for lower commodity prices, national reconciliation and the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners,” the monk explained.

“We are not afraid of getting arrested or being tortured. We are doing this for Sasana,” he said.

The monks reportedly notified the authorities in advance, telling them that if a pro-government demonstration was taking place then the monks should also be allowed to hold their protest. The monk said there would be more and larger demonstrations in the future. “We did not have much time to organise the protest as we did not actually plan for it, so there weren’t a lot of monks. But there will be bigger and more organized protests soon,” he said. The monk said that civilian bystanders supported the protest but were afraid to express this openly. “We would like to urge people not to be afraid since we are doing this for good future of our country,” he said.

And exiled monks have formed an alliance to raise international awareness of Burma’s situation and lobby international governments. Yesterday Human Rights Watch released a report saying the Junta press gangs children into military service, this is not really news if you are informed on the situation but it was useful to keep Burma in the news. Teenagers have long been snatched/beguiled/conned and brutalised into becoming agents of state repressive apparatus & aggression…and that also happens in Burma, ahem. UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari is due back in Burma on Saturday, the generals wanting to grease as many palms and return to a false facade of calm for the ASEAN meeting in November. So the envoy’s presence and this latest protest are key signifiers of a continuing struggle that must be recognised and supported. The military is looking to divide and weaken the opposition while recruiting militias-

Residents of Mingalar Taung Nyunt township, Rangoon, have claimed that local police have been conducting military training for township residents and offering rewards to those who attend. Police sergeants from the township police have reportedly delivered basic military training to around 120 local people. They also claimed that police promised to give a reward of 3000 kyat a day to the participants, and that most of those who took part were poor or unemployed young people motivated by the reward.

Via Ko Htike a four hour debate in the UK parliament addresses Burma-

British Members of Parliament called for an investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma and increased aid to the Burmese people during a four-hour debate on the current crisis held in the House of Commons last night. MPs, human rights campaigners and members of the Burmese exiled community held a vigil in Parliament Square during the debate.

In the historic debate, MPs called for the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit Burma and urged the British Government to investigate crimes against humanity and bring a case against Burma’s military regime to the International Criminal Court.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander MP, announced plans to double British aid to Burma from £8.8 million this year to £18 million by 2010. His announcement follows criticism that the Department for International Development (DfID) failed to act on key recommendations from the House of Commons International Development Committee in July. The Committee had called for British aid to be quadrupled by 2013, and for funding for cross-border aid to internally displaced people and support for pro-democracy and human rights projects.

The Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, who travelled with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) to the Thai-Burmese border and visited Rangoon earlier this year, told the House of Commons: “I am surprised and rather disappointed that the Government have not accepted in full the recommendations of the [Committee’s] excellent report. Indeed, they have rejected the most important ones…We agree entirely with the Committee’s recommendation. If we are in government after the next election, we will implement that proposal in full and immediately.”

Well that’s good to hear, but it is tory in opposition so I won’t get all shocked & shit if/when that promise is broken and the govt. has still not accepted the full recommendations and little mention is made of oil and arms. So some progress, still a way to go Gordon. A word to the Thai govt. wouldn’t go amiss, they are staging raids on immigrants, criminalising refugees from Burma. Internally guilt by association causes a whole rubber plantation’s staff detained by criminal state sanctioned volunteer police gangs-

A resident of Inntakaw township, Bago, where the rubber plantation is located, told DVB that plantation owner Aung Gyi and his workers were arrested by a volunteer police force led by chief Hla Moe Aung, who set up an interrogation camp in the plantation after his group arrested Htay Kywe.

“The plantation owner and his workers were arrested and are now being interrogated by Hla Moe Aung and his group. They are questioning people who live in the area as well,” said an Inntakaw resident, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They demand liquor and livestock from the neighbourhood. They have stolen and sold everything in the plantation as well.” According to unconfirmed sources, Hla Moe Aung was given a 2.5 million kyat reward by Burma police chief Khin Yee for the arrest of Htay Kywe.

And in oil rich Arakan state the lockdown continues-

The junta authorities of Arakan State have  ordered the administration of northern Arakan on October 29 to check family lists, tighten security on the border and watch the movement of monks, said a local in Maungdaw… Burma’s Border Security Force (Nasaka) has also been asked to check anyone leaving their village or entering with or without permission, he added.

TOC (Tactical Operation Command) also told the administration to check villages twice or thrice a month. If anyone stays without permission or overstays with permission, he will be punished according to the law. The authorities ordered the Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) not to permit anyone to stay in the villages for more than three days, said a member of the VPDC.

According to a villager, VPDC gives permission to villagers to go to another village for only three days. If anyone does not come back within the time frame, he will be fined by the authorities.

So, the Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) and Head Quarters (HQS) of Burma’s border security forces (Nasaka) has ordered the administration to watch the movement of monks and to arrest monks if they see new faces in northern Arakan. The authorities have information that monks involved in the recent uprising are trying to cross the Burma-Bangladesh border and were coming from outside northern Arakan.

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