Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Self immolator's health critical

Nem Davies
Mizzima News
March 25, 2008

New Delhi - According to a police source, the health of the man who set himself ablaze on Friday apparently due to economic hardship is critical.

"His situation is really bad. It is not good," said the police source.

The man, identified as Thaw Zin Naing (a.k.a. Aung Gyi), age 26, of Bassein in the Irrawaddy Division, set himself ablaze on Friday at Rangoon's famous Buddhist shrine of Shwedagon.

He was immediately rushed to the hospital by security guards, who then tightened security at the Pagoda, which was often used as a gathering place by dissidents during last September's Saffron Revolution.

A policeman said the parents of Thaw Zin Naing, who reportedly has burns over 75 percent of his body, have arrived in Rangoon to be with their son.

It is still unclear to which hospital Thaw Zin Naing is admitted. However eyewitnesses said a plainclothes security official was seen guarding the Rangoon General Hospital's burnt-patient ward and restricting access to the ward.

Shan rebels sound warning bell for all ceasefire armed groups

Mizzima News
March 25, 2008

New Delhi - One of Burma's ethnic armed rebel groups, the Shan State Army (South), today urged all ceasefire ethnic armed groups to jointly oppose the junta's ensuing referendum saying it is the last chance for the groups.

The SSA-S, one of the few ethnic armed rebel groups that has not signed a ceasefire agreement with the ruling junta, on Tuesday said the ceasefire groups have limited time until the junta finishes its planned referendum and elections

Major Sai Lao Seng, spokesperson of the SSA-S, said, "There are only two options for the ethnic ceasefire armed groups before the end of elections in 2010. That is to absolutely surrender or to revolt once again and seek a political solution."

According to the Burmese military junta, there are at least 17 ceasefire ethnic armed groups including one of Burma's longest surviving insurgent groups the Kachin Independence Army and the powerful United Wa State Army.

The SSA-S's call on Tuesday came as a warning to all ceasefire groups, as observers have predicted that the junta is planning to disarm the ceasefire groups after the referendum and elections.

In an earlier interview, Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst based on the Sino-Burmese border told Mizzima that the junta has consistently put pressure on the ceasefire groups and there are indications that it is determined to disarm them.

"The junta's plan is obvious, they will try to disarm the ceasefire groups," he added.

He said, the junta has indicated to the ceasefire armed groups that they will have to surrender their arms and transform into political parties and will be allowed to contest the general election.

"So, there are only two choices for the ceasefire groups -- to abandon their armed struggle or to restart armed rebellion," Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

While a few critics feel that restarting an armed rebellion would weaken the groups and it would be easier for the junta to eliminate them, Aung Kyaw Zaw said, he does not believe the same.

"It is only the determination of the group that matters. Of course there are several disadvantages in terms of strategy after a long period of ceasefire, but they can still show their dissent," added Aung Kyaw Zaw.

The SSA-S, which claims to have nearly 5,000 soldiers in their camps, expressed their expectation that the ceasefire groups would choose the second option which is to restart a revolutionary war until political negotiation is reached.

"The referendum will not represent all the people of Burma including ethnic groups like us. But it will only serve them [junta] because the constitution is drafted they want it to be," Major Lau Seng said.

He added that the SSA-S is firm in its determination to achieve two main objectives – to end military rule in Burma and to establish federalism – and urges other brethren armed rebel groups to join in the revolution.

In response to the SSA-S's statement, the Karen National Union, Burma's longest surviving insurgent group, said, they support the SSA-S's call and urge the ceasefire groups to rethink their policy.

David Thaw, Foreign Affairs in-charge of the KNU said, "The junta does not understand any other language, so we need to speak to them in the language they best understand that is to wage an armed struggle."

"If the ethnic ceasefire groups remain silent at this time, they will loose their footing, so they should be re-examine the new constitution of the junta and make the right decision."

The Kachin Independence Army, however, declined to comment on the SSA-S's call. Other ceasefire groups including the UWSA and New Mon State Party could not be reached for comment.

DVB English News

Man under armed guard after setting fire to himself

Mar 25, 2008 (DVB)–Ko Thaw Zin Naing, who set himself on fire as a protest, has been transferred to Rangoon general hospital’s burns unit and is being watched by armed guards, an unidentified hospital official said. - more

Monks boycott state-run exams

Mar 25, 2008 (DVB)–The number of Burmese monks entering the government-run Pahtamapyan exam this year is significantly lower than in previous years, monks said. - more

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Three arrested for criticising fire brigade

Mar 24, 2008 (DVB)–Two civilians and a monk were arrested in Rangoon on Friday for criticising the performance of the fire brigade during a blaze in Lanmadaw township, bystanders said. - more

Man sets fire to himself to protest economic hardship

Mar 24, 2008 (DVB)–A solo demonstrator was hospitalised after setting fire to himself at Rangoon’s historic Shwe Dagon pagoda in a protest against economic hardship, witnesses said. - more