Monday, 28 July 2008

US president likely to meet Burmese activists during visit Thailand

New Delhi (Mizzima News)— US President George W. Bush is likely to meet Burmese activists during his trip to neighboring Thailand in early August, sources in Bangkok said.

The source said Bush may have a luncheon meeting with a few Burmese activists and political observers in Bangkok, during his two day visit to Thailand.

George and his wife Laura Bush are scheduled to arrive Thailand on August 6 to mark the 175th bilateral relationship between the two countries. It will be his last visit to Asia before his term as president expires.

Bush, who will visit Bangkok on August 6 and 7, will hold bilateral talks with Thailand's Foreign Minister Samak Sundaravej and commemorate 175 years of bilateral relations between the two countries, according to Thailand's daily newspaper, Bangkok Post.

During the visit, Bush will also deliver a speech in Bangkok.

"President Bush will deliver a speech on Asia while he is in Bangkok," the paper quoted Thailand's Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Jarungvat as saying. "The importance of the speech is that it will be his last speech on Asia during his presidency."

Bush is also expected to raise Burma issue during his talks with Thai officials including Foreign Minister Samak.

During his term as the President of the United States, Bush implemented stricter economic and financial sanctions against Burma's military rulers and pushed for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Burma.

But his effort, which was backed by the United Kingdom and France, however, failed to yield any result and ended up as a UNSC's Presidential statement, as two other veto wielding countries – China and Russia – objected to the resolution.

Bush will fly to China after ending his visit to Thailand for the Beijing Olympics, which will have its opening ceremony on August 8.

Moderate Quake 5.5 Richter struck Myanmar

July 28th, 2008 - 10:24 am ICT by Bupha Ravirot -

(ThaiIndian)-Earth quake magnitude 5.5 hit Myanmar at Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 22:42:07 UTC ( Monday 05:12:07 AM local time).

The epicenter of the earth quake located at 23.566°N, 94.761°E at a depth of 112.1 km. The epicenter is 160 km SSE from Imphal, Manipur, India 165 km NNW from Monywa, Myanmar, 665 km E from Calcutta, West Bengal and 1845 km ESE from New Delhi, India. There is no reports of damage or casualties.

Burma, officially the Union of Myanmar is the largest country by geographical area in mainland Southeast Asia.

The country is bordered by the People’s Republic of China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, and India on the northwest, with the Bay of Bengal to the southwest. One-third of Burma’s total perimeter, 1,930 kilometers (1,199 mi), forms an uninterrupted coastline.

The worst natural disaster in Burma history was on May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis

Torture Survivor Campaigns for Freedom in Burma - Aung Din

(Scoop NZ)

Torture Survivor Campaigns for Freedom in Burma; Political Activist Aung Din Speaks Out For Prisoners Of Conscience

Washington -- Aung Din survived the torture and years of imprisonment he received in Burma as punishment for his political views. On July 24 he spoke at the United Nations in New York City on behalf of political prisoners in his homeland and elsewhere in the world.

He was one of several political activists at a special panel discussion designed to underscore international promises made in the Declaration of Prisoners of Conscience issued in June. The declaration, sponsored by the United States and 63 other U.N. member states, calls for a high-priority global commitment to freeing prisoners of conscience.

The panel discussion was moderated by Ambassador T. Vance McMahan, U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, who told the audience, "Persecution of human rights defenders occurs in many parts of the globe and requires the urgent attention of the international community as a whole."

At the panel discussion, Aung Din said the Burmese regime is holding about 2,000 political detainees, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. He described the abuse he suffered for his dedication to freedom for his countrymen.

Aung Din spent more than four years in prison -- sometimes in solitary confinement, naked, in total darkness -- after organizing and leading Burma's nationwide pro-democracy uprising in August 1988 as vice chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. ABFSU, the largest student organization in Burma, is outlawed by the ruling military junta.

He endured physical and psychological torture in the interrogation chambers run by military intelligence and in prisons -- two years in the notorious Insein Prison in Rangoon, and another two years in Thayet Prison in central Burma.

In 1989, Amnesty International designated him a "Prisoner of Conscience," and its chapters worldwide campaigned for his release. He was released in July 1993 and fled Burma in 1995. After living in Singapore, where he received a master's degree in business administration, and Thailand, he came to the United States in 2001. Since his arrival in the United States, Aung Din has earned a master's degree from American University's School of International Service.

In 2003, Aung Din co-founded the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma, an umbrella group of Burmese dissidents in exile and American activists. He is also country representative of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma based at the Thai-Burma border.

He has been quoted in hundreds of articles, testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and traveled on speaking tours across the United States.

At the July 24 U.N. panel discussion, Aung Din said the Burmese regime continues to abuse prisoners horribly, many of them just ordinary people. "They are not criminals," he said. "Actually, they are the future of our country. Their lives should be used for building a better nation."

In a statement issued June 10, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "The United States believes that the ongoing detention of political prisoners, including National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the conditions under which they are held, is appalling. ... The United States continues to urge the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and to begin a genuine dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority leaders on a transition to democracy."

UK underwriters 'helping Myanmar's brutal regime'

By Nick Mathiason

(NZ Herald)- The London insurance connection propping up the murderous Myanmar military dictatorship can be revealed in a development that will acutely embarrass leading City of London figures.

Three Lloyd's of London operators will be named as helping to insure the junta's state-owned airline Myanma Airways this year. They are Kiln, Atrium and Catlin. All were contacted by the Observer and asked to explain their involvement but refused to comment.

Other Lloyd's syndicates have shared the risk of insuring the junta's shipping interests. Without shipping and aviation insurance, the Myanmar Government would not be able to export gems, timber, clothing, oil and gas, which would lead to economic ruin for the generals running the oppressed southeast Asian nation.

The London insurance involvement, to be exposed this week in a report by Burma Campaign UK, will acutely damage the reputation of the City. It is likely to trigger a wave of campaigns aiming to force Lloyd's of London to recommend its members pull business from Myanmar. Campaigners are demanding a meeting with Lloyd's chairman Lord Levene.

"The insurance industry is helping to fund the Burmese dictatorship. Insurance companies, including members of Lloyd's, are putting profits before ethics. They don't care that they're helping Burma's brutal regime fund the purchase of guns, bullets and tanks for their campaigns of repression and ethnic cleansing. In an age where companies like to claim they behave ethically, the truth is these companies are helping to finance a regime that rapes, tortures and kills civilians," said Johnny Chatterton, Burma Campaign UK's campaign officer.

Lloyd's argued its members were not breaking the law by insuring Myanmar's key infrastructure. While the US has imposed across-the-board sanctions on Myanmar, the European Union has taken a limited stance. EU sanctions cover gems and timber but not financial services.

Despite pressure from the European Parliament to extend sanctions, heads of state have failed to unanimously approve the measure.

Lloyd's said: "Unless there are official international sanctions in place, we do not instruct the market where it can and cannot write business."

Lloyd's intransigence will put pressure on the UK Government to intervene. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made plain his disapproval of any business trading with Myanmar. It is unclear whether the Foreign Office has raised the issue with senior Lloyd's officials.

The Burma Campaign report will expose eight other insurance companies. By Myanmar law, all insurance has to goes through Myanma Insurance, in which the state is the sole shareholder.