Friday, 14 March 2008

Burmese child soldier shot dead in ambush

By Loa Htaw

March 14, 2008 (IMNA) - A Burmese child soldier was shot dead and two were injured in an ambush yesterday morning in Three Pagoda Pass (TPP) township area, said Htat Nay the captain of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) brigade No. 6.

The child soldier, Myint Kyaw (20) was killed when four KNLA soldiers from battalion No. 16 ambushed troops of the Burmese Infantry Battalion (IB) No. 534 near Myain Thar Yar village (TPP) Township, said captain Htat Nay.

The Human Rights Watch stated in 2007, that the Burmese military junta is forcibly recruiting many children, some as young as 10 years of age, into its armed forces.

"In the ambush four soldiers of the KNLA took on the IB No. 534 with over 60 soldiers," said the captain.

During this year about seven fire fights have occurred between KNLA and the Burmese Army, he said. "The Burmese Army has been launching offensives and we usually ambush them as the regime has much more soldiers," he added.

KNLA is the military wing of the Karen National Union (KNU) one of the stronger ethnic armed groups which has been fighting the Burmese junta for over half a century for independence of Karen state in Burma.

Last month four Burmese soldiers defected to KNU together with their guns and in uniforms to fight the Burmese military.

Pride and honor; promises on an Olympic scale

By May Ng
Pride and honor; promises on an Olympic scale
Constitution is a contract people agreed to
under the personal and sovereign rights
to create a government
March 11, 2008 - Like the phrases "I do" in an exchange of wedding vows, "I accept" in a constitutional referendum is a 'contract'. A Constitution is not merely a text but a deed--"a constituting"-- wrote Yale Constitutional Scholar, Akhil Reed Amar.

Constitution is a contract people agreed to under the personal and sovereign rights to create a government. A constitution cannot be created by the government on its own. A legitimate government emerges from the constitution drawn by the people, not the other way around.

In response to the external pressure, the Myanmar generals are calling for a constitutional referendum in May. But even the most stubborn generals must know that, this wedding with only the groom without the bride and a legitimate marriage contract will plunge Burma deeper into political chaos.

By calling a constitutional referendum in May without the 1990 election winners, after the people have overwhelmingly rejected military rule in 1988, Myanmar junta is trying to create 'a new government of the army, by the army, and for the army.'

Last Friday the House of Representatives of Indonesia has rejected a new Myanmar ambassador until democracy is established in Burma. Philippines President Gloria Arroyo said on Sunday that, "a central pillar of democracy is a free and fair election and outside observers are not a threat to any nation's sovereignty. It is not too late for the Burmese government to accept the proposal by the UN".

After the 1990 election was ignored and countless people were killed or imprisoned for their political belief, the people in Burma have nothing more to lose, and are boiling with anger underneath. U Awbata, a monk leader who participated in the September Saffron Revolution has told an international audience that, "I cannot forget or erase the sight that I saw on the eastern side of the Shwedagon Pagoda where three monks were shot at, and when they fell down the soldiers used their boots and stomped on the heads of the wounded monks and beat them with batons."

According to the most recent report by the Free Burma Rangers, over 2,200 people were forced to flee their home by the military as the UN envoy Mr. Gambari was going to Burma. Over 1,700 villagers in Northern Papun district in eastern Burma fled after being fired upon by Burma Army mortars. In another area nine houses were burnt while 85 people fled their homes. An additional 400 may have fled the area to join the increasing number of internally displaced population, out of reach from outside help. The US Campaign for Burma has condemned the attacks.

Adding insult to injury the regime has announced its intention to revoke the voting privileges from the country's venerated monks, members of the political oppositions and the exiled community. At the same time the Myanmar generals are handing out temporary citizenship to anyone who will vote for the army's constitution, regardless of their legal status inside Burma.

Burma Lawyers' Council has recommended in 2005 that every citizen of Burma, who loves human rights and democracy-- and supports the establishment of liberty and justice--has the responsibility to prevent the deterioration of the country by stopping the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)'s constitution, the product of a sham National Convention.

All Burma Monks Alliance has unequivocally rejected what they deem to be illegitimate and unjust constitution to prolong the cruel military dictatorship in Burma. The ABMA said that, to help overcome the economic hardship and humanitarian catastrophe they are determined to continue opposing the military rule, together with other democracy forces in Burma.

The 2007 new Generation Wave students have called for an inclusive, open, and fair, constitutional vote. They are organizing the entire nation to resist the one-sided military constitution in Burma.

The late Karen National Union (KNU) secretary general Mahn Sha Lar Phan, who was murdered, said before his death that the army-drafted charter will enslave the Burmese people indefinitely. Ethnic nationalities, including the ceasefire organizations, continue to criticize the proposed constitution's lack of credibility, fairness and transparency.

The International Burmese Monks Organization (IBMO) is holding Myanmar military to the promise of transferring power to the civilian government after the 1990 election. The monks have declared the military's plan for constitution and election as unfair, unjust and illegitimate. They believe that the junta's plan to force through such a plan will create a greater political conflict and push Burma to the brink of catastrophe.

Since 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi has sacrificed her family and her marriage to become the mother of Burma who is entirely wedded to the country's democratic cause. She has given up everything to give democracy a chance in Burma. Her father has promised democracy and equality to the people of Burma, at the time of independence.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of General Aung San, the founder of Burma's army. The well known '88 student leader Moethee Zun, and the imprisoned monks' leader, Ashin U Gambira, are also children of the military personnel who have served in the Myanmar Tatmadaw. Moethee Zun has called on the entire political opposition to mobilize against the junta's constitutional referendum in any possible way they can.

Without the cooperation of Aung San Suu Kyi, ethnic nationalities, and the democratic oppositions, it is unlikely for the military junta to find peace in Burma. As ordinary soldiers suffer the same hardship with the rest of the country, a handful of top generals continue to control Burma at gunpoint, from fear and insecurity.

The fate of General Ne Win and General Khin Nyunt is proof that the military generals can never feel safe for themselves, or for their families, without a legitimate and credible political system in Burma. If the generals insist on making the army rule permanent, Burma will continue to edge towards total devastation.

Asian countries, especially China and India, often lament the Burmese democratic opposition's reliance on the western democracies for support; while, they, China and India, continue to sell weapons to Myanmar junta and help kill more Burmese people. Contrary to their rhetoric, China and India have not shown respect for Burma's sovereignty, and have clearly interfered in Burma's internal affairs by sending arms to one side of a bitter political conflict there.

But Myanmar Tatmadaw cannot forever remain the foreign proxy army of India and especially China. It is urgent for Burma to find a middle ground where the titanic split between the generals and the people of Burma can be reconciled.

It will be 20 years on 8 August 2008, the opening day of the Olympics, since the people of Burma have decided to end the military dictatorship. But, because of India and China's military support for the dictators, hopes for freedom have been dashed in Burma.

Making anew the promises of freedom is no doubt an Olympic scale challenge in Burma. But it is only a question, of honouring the promises made at the 1990 elections by the Myanmar general; and of taking pride in acting responsibly as rising global powers by China and India.

May Ng is from the Southern Shan State of Burma. She is NY regional director of Justice and Human Rights in Burma.

Source: Mizzima News

Thailand 'ready to help Burma'

NT News - AFP

March 14, 2008 - THAILAND opposes Western sanctions on neighbouring Burma and is ready to help the military-run country hold a referendum on a new constitution in May, the foreign minister said.

"Thailand disagrees with sanctions," Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said before leaving for Burma with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who was making a one-day official visit to the country.

Burma is under US and European sanctions, which have been tightened after the junta's bloody crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests in September 2007.

At least 31 people were killed and 74 reported missing during the violence, according to the United Nations. Human Rights Watch has put the number of dead at about 100 people, far higher than the 15 dead reported by the junta.

But Mr Noppadon said Thailand favoured negotiations over sanctions, adding that talks with iron-fisted generals could lead to positive developments in the country, which has been ruled by the military since 1962.

The foreign minister also said the kingdom was ready to help Burma hold its constitutional referendum planned for May.

"If Myanmar (Burma) wants assistance from Thailand, we are ready to offer help as a friendly country," Mr Noppadon said.

Burma's junta has already refused UN technical assistance and foreign observers at the May referendum, which the regime says will pave the way for elections in 2010.

If held, the polls would be the first since detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in 1990 elections, a result never recognised by the regime.

But the new constitution would bar Aung San Suu Kyi from future elections because of her marriage to a foreigner, the late Briton Michael Aris. The junta already refused to amend the charter in talks with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

Thailand is one of the biggest investors and trading partners in Burma, spending billions of dollars a year to tap into the country's natural gas and hydropower resources to power its own growing economy.

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss two major energy projects between Burma and Thailand during the visit, government spokesman Wichianchot Sukchotrat said.

Myanmar’s courts stretch laws

By Ed Cropley

March 14, 2008 - YANGON: Not many people know that the law in military-ruled Myanmar enshrines the individual’s right to criticise the government.

The only problem is, mention Section 124A of the penal code in your defence in court and you are likely to be arrested, lawyers who have suffered that very fate say.

It is just one of the many absurdities in the former Burma’s court system being taken up by a small but growing number of activist lawyers in the wake of last September’s monk-led pro-democracy protests.

“The monks have played their role, the actors and celebrities have played their role, and now we’re playing ours,” said one of the lawyers in Yangon.

By their own admission, the role of defence attorney is limited in a country that has been under military rule for 46 years and which held 1,100 political prisoners, according to the United Nations, even before last year’s mass arrests.

In another contravention of rights accorded to ordinary criminal suspects, lawyers for political prisoners cannot plead guilt or innocence before the court and cannot challenge any issue of law, the lawyers said.

Judgements are often handed down the same day by civilian magistrates who are “just following orders”, another of the lawyers said, of a junta which appears to have inherited an obsession with rules and regulations from British colonial times.

Lawyers are also denied access to their clients in prison, meaning the only time they can see them is in the courtroom itself during a hearing.

Myanmar activists launch "vote no" referendum campaign

March 14, 2008, Yangon - Myanmar pro-democracy activists on Friday launched a 'vote no' campaign, urging the population to reject the military-drafted constitution in a referendum planned in May.

A statement issued by The 88 Generation Students urged Buddhist monks, students and the people to vote against the constitution in the referendum planned for a still undisclosed date in May on the grounds that the country's new charter was drafted without public participation and will perpetuate military rule in the country.

'This constitution is designed to protect and promote the interests, wealth and security of generals and their cronies,' said the statement. 'This constitution will allow the military dictatorship to perpetuate in Burma.'

The 88 Generation Students comprises pro-democracy activists whose political careers started in the 1988 anti-military demonstrations, that ended in an army crackdown that left an estimated 3,000 people dead.

Many of the group's leaders, who were also linked to the more recent anti-government demonstrations that rocked Yangon last September, are now in jail.

Myanmar's ruling junta has pledged to hold a referendum to seek public approval for a draft constitution that will then pave the way for a general election sometime in 2010.

The military-appointed national convention set up by the regime to draft the constitution - a process that took 14 years - has been judged a 'sham' by many international observers.

It is widely believed that the referendum will be similarly shambolic, as the regime can control a large portion of the population through threats and rewards.

'There is no clear indication of what the junta will do if the majority of the voters reject the constitution. The junta is apparently planning to win anyhow,' noted The 88 Generation Students statement.

United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who was in Myanmar last week, requested that the regime allow for international monitors to observe the referendum process and assure it is free and fair.

His request was rejected.

Since 1962, Myanmar has been ruled by a military regime that has earned itself one of the world's worst human rights records after two brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy movements in 1988 and last September. Thousands of political dissidents, including Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, have been arrested under their rule.

The last general election held in Myanmar, also known as Burma, was in 1990. The National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Suu Kyi won that election by a landslide, but they have been blocked from assuming power for the past 18 years on the military's argument that the country required a new constitution before civilian rule could occur.

Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the past 18 years under house arrest in her Yangon home.

Burma sanctions don't work


March 14, 2008, NEW DELHI — Burma today ranks as one of the world's most isolated and sanctioned nations — a situation unlikely to be changed by its ruling junta scheduling a May referendum on a draft constitution and facilitating U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's third visit in six months.

The referendum and planned 2010 national elections are part of a touted road map to democracy. But the iconic opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, may not be able to contest because the still-undisclosed, military-drawn constitution — in the making for 15 years — is likely to bar anyone who married a foreigner.

Burma is an important state. This is not a Bhutan or a Brunei but Southeast Asia's largest country. It is a resource-rich nation that can become an economic powerhouse if it can remedy its poisoned politics and ethnic divides and dispel international sanctions. And it is a land bridge between South and Southeast Asia. Such is its vantage location that Burma forms the strategic nucleus for India, China and Southeast Asia.

The military has run Burma, once the world's leading rice exporter, for 46 long years. Indeed, Burma's present problems and impoverishment can be tracked back to the defining events of 1962, when General Ne Win deposed elected Prime Minister U Nu, one of the founders of the nonaligned movement.

The callous Ne Win, a devotee of Marx and Stalin, virtually sealed off Burma, banning most external trade and investment, nationalizing companies, halting foreign projects and tourism, and kicking out the Indian business community.

It was not until nearly three decades later that a new generation of military leaders, motivated by Deng Xiaoping's modernization program in China, attempted to ease Burma's international isolation through tentative economic reforms without loosening political controls. Such attempts came much after the military's brutal suppression of the 1988 student-led protests that left several thousand dead or injured — a bloodbath that coincided with the numerology-devoted Ne Win's announcement of retirement on the "most auspicious" day of Aug. 8, 1988 (8.8.88).

While Western aid cutoffs and other penal actions began no sooner than the Burmese junta refused to honor the outcome of the 1990 elections, won by the detained Suu Kyi's party, Burma became a key target of U.S. sanctions policy only in the Bush years.

The new missionary zeal in the U.S. approach, reflected in the 2003 Burma Freedom and Democracy Act banning all imports from that country and several subsequent punitive executive orders, has occurred because of the White House president's wife. Laura Bush's Burma fixation has put the policy establishment in a bind: The more the United States seeks to punish the regime, the more it undercuts its ability to promote political reforms in Burma, and the more its actions threaten to disrupt the lives of ordinary Burmese.

As then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Daley told Congress in late 2003, many garment workers made jobless by U.S. sanctions "have entered the flourishing illegal sex and entertainment industries" in Burma or neighboring states.

While prohibiting new investment by American citizens or entities, Washington has protected the business interests of Chevron Corp., which acquired a stake in the Yadana natural-gas export project in Burma when it bought Unocal Corp. in 2005. Because Unocal's investment in the project, in which France's Total SA holds the biggest stake, predated the imposition of U.S. sanctions, Chevron has used a grandfather clause to stay put in Burma — one of the few large Western companies left there.

The junta, through its remarkable shortsightedness, has only aided Laura Bush's activism. Its crackdown last September on monk-led protests — which, according to a U.N. special rapporteur's report, left at least 31 dead — invited a new round of U.S.-inspired international sanctions. The regime not only continues to detain Suu Kyi, now 62, but also has isolated itself from the public by moving the national capital to remote Nay Pyi Taw, located between Rangoon and Mandalay.

The big losers have been Burma's 58 million people, bearing the brunt of the sanctions, while the only winner is China, a friend of every pariah regime.

Democracy offers the only path to bringing enduring stability to diverse Burma. Genuine participatory processes are necessary to promote ethnic reconciliation in a country that has been at war with itself since its 1948 independence. While the ethnic Burmans, of Tibetan stock, constitute the majority, the non-Burman nationalities (including the Shan and the largely Christian Karen, the first to take up arms) make up one-third of the population.

The oversize Burmese military fancies itself as the builder of a united Burma. Given that ethnic warfare began no sooner than Japanese-trained General Aung San (Suu Kyi's father) persuaded the smaller nationalities to join the union, the military has used the threat of Balkanization to justify its hold on politics.

It trumpets its successes between the late 1980s and early 1990s in crushing a four-decade-long communist insurgency and concluding ceasefire agreements with other underground groups, with just a few outfits left in active resistance. The period since has been viewed by the military as a time to begin state-building, while to the opposition it has been an unending phase of political repression.

Given Burma's potent mix of ethnicity, religion and culture, democracy can serve as a unifying and integrating force, as in India. After all, Burma cannot be indefinitely held together through brute might. But make no mistake: The seeds of democracy will not take root in a stunted economy, battered by widening Western sanctions.

The junta restored the traditional name Myanmar for nationalistic reasons as a break from the colonial past. But Myanmar, meaning the Burman land, carries an ethnic connotation, and Suu Kyi's party continues to use the name Burma. A name change ought to have the imprimatur of an elected government citing a national consensus in favor.

Sanctions have sent Burmese society into a downward spiral of poverty and discontent while strengthening the military's political grip. Today, under the cumulative weight of sanctions, Burma has come full circle: Its 74-year-old senior general, the ailing and delusional Than Shwe, an astrology aficionado, has amassed powers to run a virtual one-man dictatorship in Ne Win-style.

Burma illustrates that sanctions can hurt those they are supposed to protect, especially when they are enforced for long and shut out engagement.

Such is Laura Bush's ability not only to influence U.S. policy but also to orchestrate an international campaign in which she announced Dec. 10 that "India, one of Burma's closest trading partners, has stopped selling arms to the junta."

New Delhi has neither confirmed or denied that. Who can contradict a first lady whose fury on Burma reputedly flows from a meeting with a Karen rape victim and information from a relative with an erstwhile connection to that country?

If the Burmese are to win political freedoms, they need to be first freed from sanctions that rob them of jobs, cripple their economic well-being and retard civil-society development. It is a growing civil society that usually sounds the death knell of a dictatorship.

Years of sanctions have left Burma bereft of an entrepreneurial class but saddled with the military as the only functioning institution — to the extent that the spokesperson for Suu Kyi's party admits the military will have an important role to play in any future government.

To avert looming humanitarian catastrophes, the same international standard applicable to autocratic, no-less-ruthless regimes in next-door China, Bangladesh and Laos should apply to Burma — engage, don't isolate.
Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, is the author, most recently, of "Asian Juggernaut: The Rise of China, India and Japan."

Source: Japan Times

Burma: Should pastors and the church be passive and indecisive over the formation of civilized society?

By Maling Hkataw

Burma's political chaos has reached its peak today under the uncivilized military regime which ignored the NLD's landslide victory in the 1990 multi-party elections. Meanwhile democracy and human rights have been mercilessly trodden upon. There has been seen and unseen eradication and elimination of both the National League for Democracy (NLD) and its allies like United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) and innocent democracy activists over and over down through the years since the regime grabbed power.

The shameful regime's manipulation of democratic principles is being cunningly embodied and revitalized with the ensuing referendum in May 2008 and multi-party election of 2010 challenging the international mandate as well as the UN mandate along with its leadership of Tripartite Principle in order to reconcile Burman politics among regime, NLD and ethnicities.

Moreover a UN special convoy Professor Ibrahim Gambari and Secretary General Mr. Ban-ki Moon have been wildly insulted and blamed for their endeavour to usher in democracy in Burma by the junta's Information Minister Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan instead of welcoming the policy of cooperation with the UN. In this crucial time separating the goat and the sheep, the Christian position stands at an important juncture in prolonging stability and peace, democracy, human rights, holistic prosperity in this country forever.

The author hereby singles out the critical and passive cooperation of Christians in the formation of democracy in Burma though they boast that, "Christ for Myanmar (Burma)," and "Christ Imitators" so on and so forth. Nevertheless, this is the right time for Christians as co-citizens and friends of people from the biblical perspective and by the time our leaders signed in Panglong Agreement for the formation of Federal Union, to stand very decisively in the process of political resolution together once again.

Momentum of Christian Principle is indecisive and being exploited and insulted by the regime now and then especially for the formation of military's non-people based principle, Burmese racism, Buddhist religion, and non democratic recently instituted/laid down constitution two years prior to multi-party national election.

Particularly, I don't just pour out what happened in the pre-Christianity period of Kachin history where there was no history that how few greater and more civilized groups of peoples for instance, Burmese Buddhist and Confucians, Chinese, were concerned and sympathized towards a wild and savage hilly people like Kachins.

The point is that how come today Kachin Christianity is seemingly thinking that Kachins are now and then indebted to Burmese Buddhists, Chinese Confucians for the survival and for the formation of civil democratic nation in this soil. I shall be too radical regarding this issue whenever we, Kachin Christians has been abused as a whore by this regime now and then for power building neglecting and rejecting Federal Principle of our people.

Thereby, I faithfully reckon what has been politically exploited beyond our imagination today abusing Christianity by the regime in Kachin State in particular. On the other hand Christian pastors are exchanging Christian faith and dignity with the visible material goods without standing for truth, justice and peace instead. So I hereby pinpoint the current campaign of this regime for the success of upcoming referendum across this country.

Current regime campaign among Kachin churches for the referendum is deliberate violation of religious and human rights in Kachin State

The ceasefire agreements made by the regime have been systematically introduced for building its power inside the religious cycle in order to handle the Kachin community as a whole. Very soon military power and its image has been increasingly shadowed in Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), the biggest religious and the most leading organization in the Kachin community firstly through peace makers, Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum, Duwa Hpauyam La Wawm and businessman Mr. Lahtaw Hkun Myat (young brother of Saboi Jum) under the artificial political game played by former Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt who used to grant a lot of oral promises to ethnics regarding the security and formation of federal democracy in Burma.

After the Khin Nyunt's removal from his desk, his successors have been following the same track Khin Nyunt paved. Yet, the regime's mission of shadowing Kachin Christianity has gone beyond its limit being violation of religious right and its belief; KBC General Secretaries have been tempted or rather allured to be its sympathizers instead of standing in the belief and principle of being protestant Baptists who have committed to Baptist principles of church autonomy, autonomy of congregation and each believer in priesthood.

Moreover without the minutes and majority decision the regime has violated church creed by forcibly giving GSM and cellular mobile phones, land line phones, bags of rice, financial support and other goods.

Kachin Christian's status has been vividly rested at the level of opportunists rather of good civil citizen who always advocates for democracy and justice
This is out of the question that Kachin Christians are weighted their value with material means. Known that Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has been exchanging its political principle with the regime's development and regime's peace. KBC leaders have also been trapped with luxuries, authority, opportunities, security, and economics the regime preplanned.

Having established the trust and consensus among ceasefire leaders and KBC toppers now, the regime have come up with another step of field campaign for the upcoming referendum among local churches since last two weeks in Kachin state. By this time of campaign for referendum, the regime has been misusing and abusing its authority by way of three means respectively, such us money, power, arms, and material.

Recently, Dukahtawng Baptist and Roman Catholic elders and pastors were promised GSM and cellular mobile phones by Minister of Communication, Post and Telegraph Brig-Gen Thein Zaw. Today, the Churches in Alam, PLN (Trinity), Shwezet, Manhkring and three others. Altogether seven local Baptist churches have been forced by Minister Thein Zaw, Deputy Northern Command commander Brig-Gen San Tun and their colleagues respectively. It has been known that the programme was done forcibly and each local church leader had not informed while the order had come from above to members of Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA).

There is no democratic leadership among positioned church leaders and pastors except those who love democracy, justice and peace
Nominally Christian pastors are also regarded as community leaders by their position and ministries in Kachin context over the years, yet when it has been obvious that churches have been regime's platform where its power could be built in recently launched campaign for referendum. It is a heavy question that what has been happening in churches in need of material assistance.

Actually, the church should have stood for the truth for all if the church is really concerned for this regime. Today we are supposed to construct full lives, security rather than other ones as citizens of this country. It is the right time that every citizen of Burma has inborn/innate right to form our own nation with our own freedom rather than the regime's will alone.

As a matter of fact that we are not necessarily the ones who are to fight this regime as an enemy in the formation of civil democratic nation except we are the ones who have to fight for oneself, one's right, one's democracy and truth. In Burma Kachins were misused and exploited as soldiers, politicians, partners as second and third barbarian citizens by Burmans in order to form Independence, security, and Burmanization instead of fighting for our own right and future.

Therefore, now is the time for Kachin pastors, leaders and citizens to realize to fight for our own democracy, security and right regardless of the regime's threat with arms and population on the one hand, and with material, money and artificial promises on the other.

In Shwezet Baptist Church, "Brig-Gen Thein Zaw said that, "There are just a handful of people who oppose and disagree with the constituted and drawn disciplined democratic constitution. Really, they are about one million such people". It is very true that the power of transformation sometime do not just come from leaders, pastors, and citizens but from everyone who wants freedom and liberty.

Because democracy is not constituted neither by outside pressure or by power. As the regime has imitated in building its power on the political philosophy Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) that Power comes out from the barrel of a gun. Actually, the right political power comes out from inside that is every heart of the human being who loves justice, peace and democracy in the world.

My dear pastors, leaders and citizen of Kachin land and beyond, democracy shall never come into being from the arms of this regime, from the GSM phones to be granted, from the cement bags to be given, uncounted amounts of money supported, and from rice, oil, fame, and power etc., aided by Minister Thein Zaw. Likewise it will never turn to us by hoping for solid assistance from international community and its leaders of the outside world.

Until and unless the spirit and the esteem of democracy initiates and activates in each of us and every citizen of this land we will never envisage the just and democratic nation that can give us perfect security and stability.

Secondly, let us nurture and develop the innate value and will and right of one's life in order to be decisive while the democratic constitution is being laid for this country forever. And democracy is not material based politics as the regime has paradoxically interpreted and implanted in their 104 military principle based constitution to be approved in during coming referendum.

Whereas democracy is people's politics that formulates with people's inner mind rather than with people's intellect alone. At last but not the least time has been teaching and educating us the meaning and value of human lives under this regime as a transitional epoch prior to federal democracy is laid very soon in this soil.

Therefore, your active and decisive action of credit whether in small and big ones will lead all of us to the place where we want to go and so democracy will be simply defined to all of us as, "A common system the result of wise and the right choice of each individual and mass as a whole."

Therefore the right time that one's decision will make one's democracy than that of others or the regime's democracy.

KNG - March 13, 2008

Referendum and SPDC's plan - Analysis

Ko Htike
Prosaic Collection

Authorities were very busy in Marathon collecting the list of above 18 years old people, who are eligible for voting. Meetings were held everywhere for Referendum Commission but Divisional level Authorities were confused of the procedure and those responsible persons from state level were confused too.

They are just conveyors of junta's messages. All Regional Commanders are busy with the forthcoming Referendum as they have no other business to involve with because they were very clearly instructed to organised the winning of the referendum by at least 80% of the votes. Now they are thinking day and night on how to play dirty tricks and bullying citizens to achieve their goal.

Latest instructions from the Referendum Commission are as follow:

1. Ballot box to be placed in open and conspicuous area.
2. To create one enclosure for voter to write the vote (tick or cross).
3. There will be only one ballot box.
4. Ballot is a small sheet of white paper with official seal on one end and other end is empty space for voter to write tick or cross.
5. One polling station for every 1000 voters.

There is still no clear instruction on how to build the polling station and ballot box. Looks like every quarter should make out in any appropriate area and do according to their own idea with own expenses. No budget or allowances so far.

Divisional, District, Township and Village/Quarter level each has to form 15 members Referendum Committee, which included 10 members from government services, 3 from business circle and 2 to be ex-service person (pensioner). So far no news are heard about the involvement of USDA role in this committee yet.

Although all preparation were going on with a lot of threatening at least to the level of Director in government services for supporting them, punishment for those opposing the instruction was still not clear yet.

Another difficulty for those responsible for collecting the voters list was that the polling date is not announced yet so for those around 18 years old born in the month of May are on the margin for eligibility to vote and still can’t put them in the list until the polling date is announced.

One more controversial instruction and which can cause the complication in the future is to issue the Temporary Resident Cards to every person above 18 years old regardless of eligibility to hold the citizenship. In that card, no photo required, blood group not to be mentioned and purpose is only to get the vote from the concerning person. But don’t forget, that since the person is eligible to vote for the constitution, he/she can claim his/her right to become citizenship. Good chances for those people stay in the border area long time waiting for Identification.

What we have learnt from the above information collected is that although a lot of forced instructions and threats were issued illegally by authorities, the system of voting procedures are relatively safe for voters. We need to encourage the frightening but opposing people to go and vote bravely as voting systems are so far safe for them to oppose. Media supports are gravely required to plant the courage in the mind of sincere voters to go ahead confidently. We need to let the people know that voting is much effective and safe for them than absent from doing that. We hereby requesting all concerning parties to involve in this Cross for Country campaign. We need it desperately.

Ko Htike's Prosaic Collection