Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Neighbours encroach on blocks offered under 3rd round bidding

of the 12 blocks India has encroached on five Bangladesh offshore gas blocks, while Myanmar on seven blocks in the prospective Bay of Bengal.

By M Azizur Rahman

The prospect of a dispute over offshore gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal is looming large as neighbouring India and Myanmar have encroached on almost half of the Bangladesh's blocks, said sources.( The Financial Express)

UK-based prestigious firm Wood Mackenzie reveals recently that 12 out of 28 gas blocks to oil companies offered under the latest offshore bidding round have been wholly or partly licensed by neighbouring countries.

"One shallow water block and eleven deepwater blocks have been wholly or partly licensed by other countries,"

Wood Mackenzie categorically said in its findings.

It said of the 12 blocks India has encroached on five Bangladesh offshore gas blocks, while Myanmar on seven blocks in the prospective Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh in February last offered a total of 28 blocks for oil exploration, eight are located in the shallow-depth of the Bay called A-type, while the rest 20 B-Type blocks are located in the deep-water.

The sale of bidding documents and their submission is set to end May 7 next.

Wood Mackenzie in its findings stated that to the west, part of Bangladesh block SS-08-05 was licensed by India (as block NEC-DWN-2004/2) to Santos in 2007.

The Indian block overlaps Bangladeshi third round blocks -- SS-08-09 and SS-08-14.

Further south, another Santos block, NEC-DWN-2004/1, overlaps Bangladeshi blocks -- DS-08-14, DS-08-19 and DS-08-24.

"In the east, seven Bangladeshi deep-water blocks have been wholly or partly licensed by Myanmar," Wood Mackenzie revealed.

Blocks DS-08-22, DS-08-23, DS-08-27 and DS-08-28 all overlap Myanmar's block AD-9, which is operated by ONGC.

Further north, Myanmar's AD-8 block (CNPC) covers the Bangladeshi blocks -- DS-08-18 and part of DS-08-17 and DS-08-13.

Furthermore, block AD-7, which was licensed by Myanmar to Daewoo, overlaps part of block DS-08-13.

"Beyond the blocks with explicit uncertainty over jurisdiction, there are others where no claim of ownership have yet been made, but could be expected in the future," the findings of the UK-based consulting firm noted.

When contacted special aide to chief adviser M Tamim said: "I have heard of the Wood Mackenzie survey. But it would not create any problem for Bangladesh to offer the country's prospective gas blocks to the international oil and gas companies (IOCs)."

"The IOCs are not worried over it as the issue is more or less known to all," the Special Assistant to Chief Adviser on Energy issues said.

In any case, the IOCs would not face any problem over the issue, as the respective neighbouring countries would settle any such dispute through mutual understanding, he assured.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provision is there to resolve such dispute among the neighbouring countries, he added.

"Bangladesh will explore oil and gas within its territorial waters. It will in no way encroach into others' territory." Tamim assured.

He also said that dispute among the neighbouring countries over the hydrocarbon blocks is not new in the world.

The countries like Vietnam, China and Thailand have similar disputes and the global oil and gas giants are working in these blocks to explore hydrocarbon.

Russia and Japan have similar disputes over the right of oil and gas blocks, Tamim said.

Besides, in the model production-sharing contract of Bangladesh there is a provision for unitization of gas blocks through discussion between the relevant parties if a structure extends into neighbouring territory, he added.

UN Worker Among Arrested in Maungdaw

Narinja News

April 7, 2008 - Maungdaw: A local UN worker was among those arrested recently in a roundup of several Muslim community leaders in the western Burmese border town of Maungdaw, and he is currently being interrogated by military authorities along with nine other Muslim detainees.

The UN worker has been identified as Mr. Nurul kawbi, a driver for the UN office in Maungdaw.

A source close to the army authority said that he was arrested by the Burmese military authorities on accusations of leaking information to sources abroad and to the UN office in Maungdaw whenever human rights violations took place in Maungdaw Township.

Burmese military intelligence recently arrested at least ten Muslim community leaders in Maungdaw, including some well-known and well-educated individuals.

Officials have not disclosed any information about the arrests, but there are many rumors that the Muslim community leaders were preparing to oppose the upcoming referendum.

However, it is unclear if the arrest of Mr. Nurul is related to the arrest of the other men.

A resident from Maungdaw said Mr. Nurul Kawbi and the others will be charged by the military authority in Maungdaw district court and sentenced to long prison terms due to suspicion of anti-government activities.

Protesters Scuffle with Police during Olympic Torch Relay in London

The Irrawaddy News

April 7, 2008 - Police repeatedly scuffled with protesters as Olympians and dignitaries carried the Olympic torch through snowy London during a chaotic relay Sunday.

Demonstrators tried to board a relay bus after five-time Olympic gold medalist rower Steve Redgrave launched procession at Wembley Stadium—presaging a number of clashes with police along the torch's 31-mile (50-kilometer) journey.

Police tackle protesters as the torch nears Trafalger Square during the Beijing Olympics torch relay in London Sunday. (Photo: AP)
In west London, a protester tried to grab the torch out of the hands of a TV presenter, forcing police to briefly stop the procession as officers detained the man. Another demonstrator tried to snuff out the flame with what appeared to be a fire extinguisher. Others in the crowd threw themselves at torchbearers running past in official Beijing 2010 Olympics tracksuits.

The protests have forced officials to make unscheduled changes to the relay route, Metropolitan Police said. Thirty people have been arrested.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown briefly greeted the torch when it arrived outside his Downing Street residence as pro-Tibet demonstrators and police clashed yards away near Britain's Parliament buildings.

A picture shows RSF flags before the press conference of Robert Menard, director of Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) at the association's office in Paris. (Photo: AFP)Demonstrators swelled in number near the spot where Chinese Ambassador Fu Ying had been expected to carry the Olympic torch. Instead, Fu emerged with the torch in the heart of London's Chinatown, managing to jog unhindered before handing it over to the next participant.

Along the route, hundreds of protesters chanted "Free Tibet!" "Stop killing in Tibet!" and "China, talk to Dalai Lama!"

In London's historic Bloomsbury area, police separated anti-China protesters from flag-waving Chinese who turned out to support their nation and the Olympics.

"There was definitely a bit of an edge," British tennis player Tim Henman, one of the torchbearers, told The Associated Press.

Police Cmdr. Jo Kaye said the incidents were minor. "It's going to be a long day but the torch is progressing on schedule," Kaye told British Broadcasting Corp. television.

Brown himself never handled the torch but watched as Olympic gold medalist Denise Lewis handed it to Paralympic hopeful Ali Jawad. Student Scott Earley Jr, from Glasgow, Scotland, then took the torch from Downing Street, needing help from dozens of police to keep baying mobs from snatching it from him as he ran past Big Ben to Westminster Bridge.

"Everyone was running at you. It was a bit weird," said Earley, 17. "The police had it covered. They told me when to go and what to do."

Later, police hustled a torchbearer onto an official bus after he was surrounded by a 100 activists. The torch then traveled part of the journey toward St. Paul's Cathedral by bus instead of on foot as planned, police said.

Activists demonstrating against China's human rights record and a recent crackdown on Tibet have been protesting along the torch route since the start of the flame's 85,000-mile (140,000-kilometer) odyssey from Ancient Olympia in Greece to Beijing, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The torch's global tour—the longest in Olympic history—is meant to highlight China's growing economic and political power. But it also has offered protest groups abundant opportunity to draw attention to their concerns.

"People are traveling from across the country and Europe as well to participate," said spokesman Terry Bettger of the Free Tibet Campaign.

Metropolitan Police said it was aware of six organizations, including the Free Tibet campaign, the spiritual group Falun Gong and a group calling for democracy in Burma, protesting Sunday. Two thousands police officers were deployed to secure the route.

The 80 torchbearers include Olympic champion Kelly Holmes and violinist Vanessa Mae.

Several dropped out to protest China's human rights record—including Richard Vaughan, Britain's top badminton player, who said China was not doing enough to stop violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

British Chinese residents had hoped for a peaceful torch relay.

"The Olympic games are very important for all Chinese. In Chinatown, everyone is very anxious to see the torch pass," London Chinese Community Center spokeswoman Annie Wu said before the procession began. "We hope it goes smoothly."

The torch relay is expected to face demonstrations in Paris, San Francisco, New Delhi and possibly elsewhere on its 21-stop, six-continent tour before reaching mainland China on May 4.

Reuters Wins Pulitzer for Rangoon Death Picture

The Irrawaddy News
April 8, 2008

A Reuters news agency photographer won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography on Monday for a picture of a Burmese soldier shooting dead a Japanese video cameraman during a last September’s demonstrations in Rangoon.

The news agency’s Adrees Latif won for "his dramatic photograph of the Japanese videographer, sprawled on the pavement, fatally wounded during a street demonstration in Myanmar [Burma]," the Pulitzer Prize board said.

The 92nd annual Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, letters, drama and music were announced at Columbia University in New York City. The Public Service winner receives a gold medal, while winners in the remaining 20 categories receive $10,000.

Reuters carried news of the award together with a firsthand account by its Bangkok senior photographer Adrees Latif of how he took the pictures which won him a Pulitzer Prize. The pictures were taken in Burma during the protests in September last year and include the photo of Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai being shot.

“Tipped off by protests against soaring fuel prices, I landed in Yangon [Rangoon] on 23 September, 2007, with some old clothes, a Canon 5D camera, two fixed lenses and a laptop.

“For the next four days, I went to Shwedagon Pagoda, two-three kilometers from the center of town and waited for the monks who had been gathering there daily at noon.

“Since I was at the same pagoda every day, dozens of people, including monks, asked me who I was and what I was doing. As the ruling military regime is notoriously secretive, my replies were guarded.

“Barefoot in maroon robes, and ringed by civilians, the monks chanted and prayed before starting their two-kilometer march to the Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon [Rangoon]. Each day their numbers grew, from hundreds to thousands.

“By 27 September, the city had become packed with troops. Soldiers and government agents stood at street corners.

“Finding the Shwedagon Pagoda sealed off, I went to the middle of town to find groups of young people taunting soldiers at Sule.

“Within minutes, the crowd swelled from hundreds to a few thousand. The soldiers threw barbed wire coils across the roads.

“Knowing that hundreds of people were gunned down in similar circumstances in a 1988 uprising, I climbed an old crosswalk directly overhead, to get to one of the few spots offering a clear view.

“Below me, protesters were singing and waving flags; to the side, young men were thrusting their pelvises at the soldiers.

“At about 1.30 p.m. local time, two dark green, open-top army trucks approached, followed by dozens more packed with riot police. They were hit by a barrage of water bottles, fruit and abuse from the crowd.

“I had already locked on my 135mm lens and set my camera shutter speed to 1000, aperture to F/7.1 and ISO at 800. With the camera on manual, I wanted to stop any movement while offering as much depth-of-field as possible.

“Two minutes later, the shooting started. My eye caught a person flying backwards through the air. Instinctively, I started photographing, capturing four frames of the man on his back.

“The entry point of the bullet is clear in the first frame, with a soldier in flip flops standing over the man and pointing a rifle. In the second frame, the man is reaching over to try and film.

“More shots rang out. I flinched before getting off two more frames—one of the man pointing the camera at the soldier, and one of his face contorted in pain.

“Beyond him, the crowd scattered before the advancing soldier. The whole incident, which went on to reverberate around the world, was over in two seconds.

“I kept low on the bridge, capturing some more images from among a crowd taking cover. However, with soldiers firing shots and smoke grenades below, I had to get off the bridge.

“With adrenaline pumping through my body, I put my camera in my bag and followed the protests for another hour and a half. Feeling the demonstration had lost its strength, I made my way back to my hotel via backstreets and along a railway line.

“My initial caption read: “An injured man tries to photograph after police and military officials fired upon and then charged a crowd of thousands protesting in Yangon’s city center September 27, 2007.” Initially, I thought he was merely trampled. I had no idea he was dead.

“Two of the frames showed the man’s face. A few hours later his colleagues in Japan had identified him as Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai.

“The images dominated front pages across the US and the world.

Mourners at Nagai’s funeral in Japan clutched the picture, which played a role in the public outrage that prompted Tokyo to scale back aid to the ruling military junta.”

She Escaped Strife, but Embraced Those Scarred by It

By Nora Boustany
Washington Post Foreign Service

Burmese-Born Charm Tong
Is Among Activists Honored
for Contributions to Women's Causes

Charm Tong was born in Burma's conflict-lacerated countryside 26 years ago. She was 6 when her parents stuffed her into a straw basket strapped onto a donkey and sent her to join a caravan of villagers snaking its way through lush jungles to an orphanage inside the Thai border. Their desperate choice seemed a better option as the country's repressive military regime moved through some 1,400 farming villages, taking ethnic Burmese from their lands and forcing them into labor, often after torturing them.

In that orphanage, Tong learned to read and study English. By the time she was 16, she was working with refugees and migrant workers who crossed the 2,000-kilometer border between Burma and Thailand. She listened to their heartbreaking stories, soothing them, counseling them and organizing women's networks among border villages.

For her leadership, she was one of six honored last night at the Kennedy Center by Vital Voices Global Partnership, a nonprofit group dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of women around the world. The hall was packed with about 500 guests, including ambassadors, donors and A-listers, among them first lady Laura Bush and actress-activist Angelina Jolie, both of whom presented awards.

Introducing Tong, Mrs. Bush, who has embraced the cause of Burma's oppressed as the defining mission of her East Wing legacy, spoke of incarcerated democracy activist and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and about the repression of the Burmese, women especially. She described how unarmed monks protesting a spike in gas prices were beaten, arrested and killed. Mrs. Bush described Tong's efforts to form the women's action network as well as her work on the eye-opening 2002 report "License to Rape," about 600 women who were violated. Tong also has been to a school for the children of refugees coming from Shan province; Mrs. Bush said the students call Tong "a candle in the dark."

Mrs. Bush has become this administration's point person on the Burmese crisis, picking up the phone to express her outrage to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, hosting Burmese democracy activists at the White House, giving dozens of interviews on the subject and writing her own op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal marking Suu Kyi's birthday.

Jolie, greatly pregnant and radiant in a flowing taupe gown, stepped onto the stage to speak glowingly of award recipient Mariane Pearl, the widow of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, who was killed in Pakistan. Her book, "A Mighty Heart," was made into a film in which Jolie portrayed Mariane Pearl. Last night the actress talked of Pearl's special gift as a mother and an example in "courage, hope and tolerance."

Also honored were Kakenya Ntaiya, an education advocate from Kenya; political corruption activist Laura Alonso of Argentina; and human-rights advocate Khin Ohmar of Burma. United Arab Emirates minister of economy and foreign trade Sheikha Lubna al-Qasimi, the first female minister in her Persian Gulf state, was presented the Global Trailblazer Award and introduced by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.

Sen. Hillary Clinton appeared confident and relaxed in a blue pantsuit, taking time off from her presidential marathon to help host this event, as she does every year with her Republican counterpart from Texas, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The senators had made it to the evening "against all odds," said Vital Voices co-founder Melanne Verveer, who was Clinton's chief of staff when she was first lady.

The event grew out of the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, created in 1997 by Clinton and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright to make the promotion of women's causes a U.S. foreign policy goal.

In an interview Friday, Tong described her life. After fleeing her home, she saw her parents briefly, every two or three years; to get to her, they had to trek for a week or longer along the same tortured and dangerous routes she took as a child. "I thought they did not love me," she said. She described the brief encounters with her parents as "happy, tearful and heartbreaking."

"You arrive from school one day and they are there. The next day you hurry back from school and they are gone. They would tell me what was happening and say, 'We cannot give you anything except this opportunity.' "

All she can remember are blurred patches of her childhood, scurrying from village to village for safety. Her parents bundled her and her younger sister along with rags, pots and pans as the children fled from the soldiers, who ransacked huts, killing and sexually assaulting those who resisted.

"With time I began to understand. Fresh out of junior high I began hearing about and seeing the scars from all the atrocities," she noted. By the time some women shuffled across the northern Thai border, they had been raped six to eight times. "They arrive with nothing," Tong said. "You never forget their faces. So many women believe it was their fault and ask us if they had done anything wrong. We were traumatized just listening to them relive their horrors," she added.

One case that tore up Tong's soul was that of Nag Hla, who was only 17 and six months pregnant when she escaped from her village of Laikha in 2002. She had been gang-raped from 10 in the morning until 4 that afternoon, Tong said, "her husband blindfolded and tied to a tree, close enough so he could hear" his wife's screams. Hla set off on foot and delivered her premature infant alone.

Thai government officials estimate that 3 million Burmese have taken up residence in Thailand over the years. Many who cross from Shan province, where Tong was born, find there are no refugee camps for them when they arrive, she said. Instead, they settle together or with Thai families as stateless, undocumented farmhands. Tong is active in organizing other women stationed along border passages to teach refugees about reproductive health.

Tong became a global advocate at 17, when she went to Geneva in a delegation of seven Burmese to address the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 1999. Before an audience that included members of the military regime, Tong shook as she spoke and broke down tearfully as she testified about the women she had met along the border.

"I was lucky. I went to school," she says now with measured gratitude. She began reading a newsletter on human rights violations from Shan province at an early age. "It game me more answers than I found in school and it inspired me to do something to help."

Burmese spy reveals MI’s dirty deeds

Old Article from the Irrawaddy
Sourced: Burma IT Net

April 24, 2006: A Burmese spy, now in hiding in a secret location, spoke exclusively to The Irrawaddy about how Burma’s newly formed military intelligence service struggles to reach the sinister standards set by jailed intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt.

Kyaw Myint Myo, aka Myo Myint, said a major failing of the new intelligence service has been its recruitment of inexperienced officials with no idea how intelligence structures work to head departments.

New recruits, according to Kyaw Myint Myo, have received intensive training, but it takes time to build and effectively run an intensive intelligence network, especially the Military Affairs Security. Previously, Burma’s military leaders depended heavily on its secret police units to monitor and intimidate the movement of its civilian population, dissidents at home and abroad, foreign missions, and its own government officials and cabinet ministers.

As MAS has lost some of its clout with the regime, said Kyaw Myint Myo, power and authority now reside with Special Branch officers working for the Ministry of Home Affairs. He says Special Branch officers have more experience handling security and political affairs than the new intelligence officers.

Kyaw Myint Myo was assigned to infiltrate the offices of some powerful government ministers working for the Burmese regime.

Kyaw Myint Myo, 33, has insider knowledge of how the regime’s spy network operated-since 1993, he worked for the counter-intelligence department’s special unit # 1. He told The Irrawaddy that he reported directly to Lt-Col Ne Lin, his boss. His previous commanders were Col Khin Aung and Col San Pwint, both now in prison serving long sentences.

Ranked as an army sergeant, Kyaw Myint Myo admitted his latest spy missions included monitoring Karen rebels and the armed student group All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, based along the Thai-Burmese border.

Speaking from a secret location, Kyaw Myint Myo expressed fear for his safety and his need to resettle in a third country. When asked if he was afraid of being captured by Burmese dissident groups, he said: “No, but I am worried about Burmese officials (who can come and take me back).”

The former secret agent said his personal experience with the regime was not good, as his parents and family members were once interrogated and briefly detained by officials when he had “disappeared” during “a secret mission.” “I was afraid to make contact after the purge [in 2004],” he said.

In October 2004, the Burmese military government arrested military intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt and dismantled the once all-powerful National Intelligence Bureau and Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence, or OCMI. Analysts believed the purge was a result of a power struggle between Khin Nyunt and army hardliners.

Following the purge, Khin Nyunt and several of his high ranking officials were arrested and put on trial. Only two senior officials, Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, deputy head of OCMI, and Brig-Gen Kyaw Thein, escaped the crackdown, but quickly retired.

The purge not only sent shockwaves throughout the civilian population in Burma, but had a huge effect among army officers and soldiers, who previously had believed the armed forces were united and in harmony. In early 2006, Major Aung Lin Htut, an intelligence officer who worked at the Burmese embassy in Washington, sought political asylum out of fear for his safety if he or his family returned home.

Kyaw Myint Myo claims he was lucky to escape punishment for his intelligence work under the disposed Khin Nyunt.

Gen Myint Swe, former Rangoon Division Commander with little intelligence background but a close ally of Snr-Gen Than Shwe, heads up the newly formed MAS. Kyaw Myint Myo says Myint Swe is ignorant about what is happening in Burma.

“The government has no idea who is behind the bombing in May [2004].” Three major explosions rocked Rangoon shopping malls last year, killing several people, and the regime wasted little time in pointing the finger at exiled opposition groups.

Kyaw Myint Myo says many bomb explosions in Rangoon were planted by army and intelligence groups. “It’s just to scare civilians and to alert the army.” He added that when he was with the OCMI, he and his colleagues sometimes received information that army factions were behind the bombings. He said it is impossible for insurgents to enter downtown Rangoon. “We have large security networks involving police, army, intelligence groups and township-level ruling officials and informants [to secure Rangoon].”

Kyaw Myint Myo was assigned to infiltrate the offices of some powerful government ministers working for the Burmese regime, and said he gathered information on some ministers and high ranking officials known to be corrupt and involved in several illegal activities, including having several mistresses. “We have files on ministers, officials and businessmen,” he boasted.

As an undercover agent, Kyaw Myint Myo was once ordered to work at the Ministry of Agriculture. His mission was to collect data on possible scandals involving Lt-Gen Myint Aung, former minister for agriculture and irrigation. The minister was later sacked.

It is widely believed that Khin Nyunt’s intelligence service had collected information on numerous cabinet ministers and officials who were involved in sex scandals and corruption.

The former spy said that MAS has hired foreign computer technicians and hackers to monitor e-mail messages, telephone conversations at home and in neighboring countries, where the regime’s critics and activists take refuge. “They are [the technicians and hackers] North Korean, Singaporeans and Russians.”

Kyaw Myint Myo warned exiled opposition groups to be careful of using cell phones and internet, as all sensitive information, messages and phone conversations are carefully monitored.

He said exiled opposition groups not only had to be worried about Burmese informants and spies, but governments in the region with close ties to the regime that regularly provided intelligence information. “We have photos of [exile group] offices and houses where opposition leaders are staying.”

Kyaw Myint Myo also revealed that his counter-intelligence department had a plan to launch the “data thief project,” in which operatives would steal data from opposition groups inside and outside of Burma.

He warned that although Khin Nyunt was purged, informants were still active and capable of penetrating foreign missions in Rangoon. He said keeping a watchful eye on Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, was also part of MAS’s work. He says an informant at NLD headquarters received 200,000 kyat each month. “We also collect information on who visits NLD headquarters and from which embassy.”

Although he refused to tell the names of informants and spies who are currently working for the military government, he did say: “You would be quite surprised if I disclosed the names of informants at foreign missions and opposition groups.”

It is well known among activists and army intelligence specialists that the Burmese government keeps spies in neighboring countries to collect information about military build-ups and activities of exiled groups.

Under Khin Nyunt, the Burmese embassy in Bangkok was highly active and believed to have a large intelligence network inside Thailand. Kyaw Myint Myo claims that “active cells” in India and Thailand are still working for MAS. - Irrawaddy

CCTV's to be installed for Water Festival

Nay Thwin
Mizzima News
April 7, 2008

Chiang Mai: The Burmese military junta authorities in Rangoon have issued orders to install security cameras at the water playing stations in the ensuing traditional New Year celebrations.

The Peace and Development Council of Rangoon Division has directed those who have applied for permission to construct water stations to install Close Circuit TV Cameras.

"Each water playing station is setting up cameras for security reasons to record unlawful activity. If a problem comes up, it has to be reviewed," said a source.

CCTVs will be installed by the Fisca Company, which imports telecommunication material. The hiring of CCTVs will cost FEC 20-30 (22,100 to 33,150 kyats) per day. The person who monitors the camera has to be paid 8,000 kyats.

Meanwhile, Air Bagan, owned by Tay Za, a businessman close to the military junta supremo Than Shwe decide to abolish not to celebrate the water festival under the company's brand and logo due to security concerns.

"Because they have heard of rumors of the possibility of bomb blasts," an official from Fisco told Mizzima.

There is no immediate confirmation from the Air Bagan office.

In respective townships of Rangoon, governor's stations are being constructed. The construction of other water stations has started in Kandawgyi, Latha, Lanmadaw and the City Hall.

The TV cameras will be installed in every water station which has an area of more than 20 square feet. In Rangoon it will cost between 3 million kyats to 10 million kyats to construct a water station.

The Burmese water festival will start from April 13 and conclude on April 16 this year. In some locations, it is held for a day before the real one and ends one day after the last day called the Burmese New Year day.

1200 Activists Descend on NYC to Demand Freedom for Libyan Political Prisoner, Protection of Journalists in Sri Lanka

Press Release

Human Rights Demonstrations Planned on Myanmar and Outside Government Offices of Libya, Sudan, India and Sri Lanka

Activists demonstrating outside the Libyan Mission to the UN will call for the release of political prisoner Fathi El-Jahmi, who was arrested in 2004 after calling for political reforms in Libya and criticizing Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi; he has been detained without trial ever since. El-Jahmi's brother, Mohamed, will participate in the demonstration and give a morning talk on his work to free Fathi.

At the Sri Lankan Mission, activists will call for the country's government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the 2006 murder of journalist Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan. At least 10 media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2006. Outside the Sudanese Mission, demonstrators will call on Sudan to bring individuals responsible for the rapes, killing and displacement in Darfur to justice.

A demonstration at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza will call on Myanmar (Burma) to stop the crackdown on pro-democracy activists, monks, students and others, and demand the release of all political prisoners, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. A smaller group will demonstrate outside the Indian Consulate, demanding justice for the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster. Union Carbide (now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical) has evaded accountability for the disaster; the demonstrators will call on India to compel Dow Chemical to appear before the Indian courts.

Get on the Bus is the largest volunteer-organized Amnesty International event in the country. The first event, in 1996, had 30 people; this year's demonstrations are expected to be the largest ever. For more information about Get On The Bus, please see: www.gotb.org

Amnesty International activists from across the Northeast

Friday, April 11, 2008

Speakers Panel: St. Bartholomew's Church, 109 E. 50th St, 11:00am-12:45pm

Demonstrations at:
* The Indian Consulate: 64th St and 5th Ave, 1:05pm-1:40pm (smaller demonstration)
* The Libyan Mission to the UN: 48th St and 2nd Ave, 2:00pm-2:35pm
* The Sudanese Mission to the UN: 47th St and 2nd Ave, 2:40pm-3:15pm
* Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (Myanmar protest): 47th St and 1st Ave, 3:20pm-3:55pm
* The Sri Lankan Mission to the UN: 41st St and 3rd Ave, 4:25pm-5:00pm

CONTACT: Amnesty International
Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337
Bob Jackson (641) 874-5794

Common Dreams Org

Olympic protesters scale Golden Gate Bridge in US

SAN FRANCISCO: Three pro-Tibet activists climbed the cables of San Francisco's famed Golden Gate Bridge on Monday to protest the arrival of the Olympic torch in the city on Wednesday, witnesses said.

Televised images from the scene showed three people on parallel red cables with flags hanging down. "One World, One Dram: Free Tibet," read one of two banners unfurled between suspension cables, protesting China's recent crackdown on Tibet.

San Francisco, which has a large Asian population, is the only US city to host the Olympic torch this year and is expected to experience a series of protests in the coming days.

Earlier in the day in Paris, Chinese officials called off a chaotic relay of the torch after thousands of pro-Tibet protesters tried to block its path and the flame had to be extinguished at least thrice.

Times of India

New Myanmar constitution keeps military dominant

Bangkok, 08 April, (Asiantribune.com): Leaked copies of Myanmar’s new constitution secretly circulating in Yangon, shows that the military will receive sweeping powers that ensure its dominance even after elections.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained pro-democracy leader who is juntas most formidable foe, is barred from the presidency and she would be unlikely to qualify even for a parliamentary seat, the document shows.

Suu Kyi, 62, was married to British academic Michael Aris from 1972 until his death in 1999, and as such was entitled to hold a British passport. Therefore, the detained Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not be allowed to stand for election in the army-ruled Myanmar because she was once married to a foreigner the draft of the proposed constitution says.

A copy of the draft charter confirmed that a “person who is entitled to rights and privileges of a foreign government or a citizen of a foreign country” cannot run for office.

The ruling junta plans to bring the constitution to a referendum in May, in anticipation of elections slated for 2010.

The public has so far had no chance to review the final draft, and a handful of leaked copies of the 194-page document are the only versions so far available.

Accordingly the leaked draft, it clearly shows that while the constitution would set up a civilian government and grant civil rights to the people, it is peppered with caveats that allow the military to easily reassert direct control in the interest of national security.

State of emergency could be declared not only to battle insurgencies, but to combat the threat of ‘disintegration of national solidarity’. The military would receive immunity from prosecution for actions taken under emergency rule.

Existing security laws used to jail political dissidents and suppress dissent would remain in effect, and parties would be required to practice discipline.

In the meantime it is learnt that the Prison authorities in Insein prison are reportedly trying to convince inmates to support the national referendum in May in exchange for an early release.

But under the referendum law introduced in February this year, people serving prison terms for any offence are ineligible to vote while they are detained.

On the other hand, Opposition leaders are urging the Burmese living inside Burma to decisively cast ‘No’ votes in the forthcoming referendum.

“We urge the people from all walks of life, ethnic nationalities and their organizations to go to the polling stations without fail and to decisively cast a ‘No’ vote”

- Asian Tribune -

Paris protests force cancellation of torch relay

Security officials call off final section after huge pro-Tibet demonstrations

NBCSports.com news services - April 7, 2008- PARIS - Paris’ Olympic torch relay descended into chaos Monday, with protesters scaling the Eiffel Tower, grabbing for the flame and forcing security officials to repeatedly snuff out the torch and transport it by bus past demonstrators yelling “Free Tibet!”

The relentless anti-Chinese demonstrations ignited across the capital with unexpected power and ingenuity, foiling 3,000 police officers deployed on motorcycles, in jogging gear and even inline skates.

Chinese organizers finally gave up on the relay, canceling the last third of what China had hoped would be a joyous jog by torch-bearing VIPs past some of Paris’ most famous landmarks.

Thousands of protesters slowed the relay to a stop-start crawl, with impassioned displays of anger over China’s human rights record, its grip on Tibet and support for Sudan despite years of bloodshed in Darfur.

Five times, the Chinese officials in dark glasses and tracksuits who guard the torch extinguished it and retreated to the safety of a bus — the last time emerging only after the vehicle drove within 15 feet of the final stop, a track and field stadium. A torchbearer then ran the final steps inside.

Outside, a few French activists supporting Tibet had a fist-fight with pro-Chinese demonstrators. The French activists spat on them and shouted, “Fascists!”

In San Francisco, where the torch is due to arrive Wednesday, three protesters wearing harnesses and helmets climbed up the Golden Gate Bridge and tied the Tibetan flag and two banners to its cables. The banners read “One World One Dream. Free Tibet” and “Free Tibet.”

The 17.4-mile route in Paris started at the Eiffel Tower, headed down the Champs-Elysées toward City Hall, then crossed the Seine before ending at the Charlety track and field stadium.

Throughout the day, protesters booed trucks emblazoned with the names of Olympic corporate sponsors, chained themselves to railings and hurled water at the flame. Some unfurled banners depicting the Olympic rings as handcuffs from the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral. Others waved signs reading “the flame of shame.”

The Interior Ministry said police made 18 arrests.

Officers sprayed tear gas to break up a sit-in by about 300 pro-Tibet demonstrators who blocked the route. Police tackled protesters who ran at the torch; at least two activists got within arm’s length before they were grabbed by police. Near the Louvre, police blocked a protester who approached the flame with a fire extinguisher.

One detained demonstrator, handcuffed in a police bus, wrote “liber” on her right palm and “te” on the other — spelling the French word for “freedom” — and held them up to the window.

With protesters slowing down the relay, a planned stop at Paris City Hall was canceled. Earlier, French officials hung a banner declaring support for human rights on the building’s facade.

A spokesman for the French Olympic Committee, Denis Masseglia, estimated that a third of the 80 athletes and other VIPs who had been slated to carry the torch did not get to do so.

On a bus carrying French athletes, one man in a track suit shed a tear as protesters pelted the vehicle with eggs, bottles and soda cans.

The chaos started at the Eiffel Tower moments after the relay began. Green Party activist Sylvain Garel lunged for the first torchbearer, former hurdler Stephane Diagana, shouting “Freedom for the Chinese,” before security officials pulled him back.

“It is inadmissible that the games are taking place in the world’s biggest prison,” Garel said later.

Outside parliament, as the torch passed, 35 lawmakers protested, shouting “Freedom for Tibet.”

“The flame shouldn’t have come to Paris,” said Carmen de Santiago, who had “free” painted on one cheek and “Tibet” on the other.

Pro-Chinese activists carrying national flags held counter-demonstrations.

“The Olympic Games are about sports. It’s not fair to turn them into politics,” said Gao Yi, a Chinese doctoral student in computer science.

France’s former sports minister, Jean-Francois Lamour, stressed that though the torch was extinguished along the route, the Olympic flame itself still burned in a lantern where it is kept overnight and on airplane flights. A Chinese official said that flame was used to re-light the torch each time it was brought aboard the bus.

Pro-Tibet advocate Christophe Cunniet said he and other activists were detained after they waved Tibetan flags, threw flyers and tried to block the route. Cunniet said police kicked him, cutting his forehead. “I’m still dazed,” he said.

At least one athlete, former Olympic champion Marie-Jose Perec, was supportive of the demonstrators. “I think it is very, very good that people have mobilized like that,” she told French television.

But other athletes and sports officials were bitterly dismayed.

“A symbol like that, carried by young people who want to deliver a message of peace, should be allowed to pass,” said the head of the French Olympic Committee, Henri Serandour. “These games are a sounding board for all those who want to speak about China and Tibet. But at the same time, there are many wars on the planet that no one is talking about.”

International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies agreed. “We respect that right for people to demonstrate peacefully, but equally there is a right for the torch to pass peacefully and the runners to enjoy taking part in the relay,” she said.

Police had hoped to prevent the chaos that marred the relay in London a day earlier. There, police had repeatedly scuffled with activists and 37 people were arrested.

Beijing organizers criticized the London protests as a “disgusting” form of sabotage by Tibetan separatists.

“The act of defiance from this small group of people is not popular,” said Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee. “It will definitely be criticized by people who love peace and adore the Olympic spirit. Their attempt is doomed to failure.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has left open the possibility of boycotting the Olympic opening ceremony depending on how the situation evolves in Tibet. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday that was still the case.

Activists have been protesting along the torch route since the flame embarked on its 85,000-mile journey from Ancient Olympia in Greece to the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics.

The round-the-world trip is the longest in Olympic history, and is meant to highlight China’s rising economic and political power. Activists have seized on it as a platform for their causes.

The relay also is expected to face demonstrations in New Delhi and possibly elsewhere on its 21-stop, six-continent tour before arriving in mainland China May 4.