APPPB Update: January 25, 2008

Burma in January 3rd Week  

Dear Friends,
We believe you’ve read the last update on Burma which was about a month long summary of what happened in Burma as well as around the world solidarity activities, support and governments’ responses. From now on we will be providing you with a week by week summary of news, update, and activities inside and outside of Burma, while we will still try to give you immediate update on any situation that may arise in the country following the September uprising led by Buddhist monks as the people continue to struggle for freedom and justice.
Recently on January 17 amazing it was that around 200 people including Buddhist monks tried to gather around the market area in Taunggot, Arakan State, despite extreme and bloody brutal crackdown by the regime during last September uprising.
There were bomb blasts and the one last week killed a bus conductor. Explosion took place when the bus, traveling from Kyaukkyi to Rangoon, stopped for meal in Pegu, 60 miles northeast from Rangoon. No one, as usual, claims any responsibility for the blast but the military regime was quick to point the finger to the Karen National Union (KNU). Many however believe that no one but the military regime itself is responsible for the blast.
Health Crisis for PLHA:
During this week, the regime’s hospital stops providing medical assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) who usually received ARV from Rangoon Infectious Disease Hospital known as Waybargi Hospital in Burmese. Anyone wishing to have x-rays and blood test now must pay 4,500 Kyat (USD 4) and this new regulation started on 21 January.
According to the WHO report in November 2007 Burma has 339,000 PLHA and it is one of the worse epidemics in Asia.
Business as Usual:
Thailand’s PTT and Korea’s Daewoo are putting more investments into Burma’s oil and gas that business companies in Rangoon claim and predict of upbeat in 2008 and 2009. This upbeat prediction comes as PTT plans to invest 1 billion USD for M9 field in Martaban Gulf that it has already been operating. Likewise, Daewoo is planning to put in another 3 million USD investment for A1 and A3 fields in offshore Arakan State.
International Efforts:
What not so amazing and not so surprising is that the regime tried to delay the UN Special Envoy Mr. Gambari’s trip to Burma till April despite prods from China and some ASEAN nations.
While urging Burma to make effort to realize national reconciliation and accelerate democratic progress, China insists that sanctions are not helpful to better Burma situation and urged the international community particularly to the US to be objective and provide constructive assistance. Nonetheless, China was among 15 UN Security Council members joining in criticism of Burma for dragging in its effort to release political prisoners and to have substantive talks with the opposition.
When the Foreign Minister Nyan Win visited Japan to promote trade and investment, his counterpart Masahiko Komura also urged him to allow Mr. Gambari’s visit back to Burma and to cooperate with the UN in improving human rights conditions in the country.
EU Special Envoy, Mr Piero Fassino who is on Asia trip said he would discuss with Thailand during his 3 days visit next week to push the Burmese regime to make good promised reforms. Mr. Fassino also called on the UN Special Envoy Mr. Gambari to return to Burma for seeking the release of the opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Canada’s Liberal MP Larry Bagnell, who is also a chair of the Parliamentarian Friends of Burma (PFOB), had made a week-long fact finding mission to Thai-Burma border and warned the world that the situation of Burma is much worse than what the world actually knows because rural and ethnic atrocities do not get world’s media attention. At this moment, Canada maintains its position on sanction as well as putting prohibition of ships and aircraft from Burma, no exporting of technical data and placing ban on new investment.
The UK, US and French Foreign Ministers issued a joint statement on Burma at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos on January 24. The statement said, “…. the situation in Burma cannot continue, and that we remain committed to helping the people of Burma.
It is now more than four months since the world was horrified by the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Burma. The dramatic pictures seen around the world of the brutality directed against peaceful protestors, including monks and nuns, were truly shocking. We cannot afford to forget. We must convince the Burmese regime to meet the demands of the international community and respect the basic rights of Burma's people.
The Ministers call on all those attending the World Economic Forum to support the return to Burma by UN Special Adviser Gambari as soon as possible and to urge the regime to cooperate fully with him and the UN and also call on the regime to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and to launch a substantive, time-bound dialogue with democratic leaders and ethnic minority representatives.
Reports on Burma by International Organizations:
UNICEF has released a report on the condition of children under age 5 in Burma. According to UNICEF Burma is placed in fourth after Sierra Leone, Angola, and Afghanistan for having mortality rate of children high. Its report said that between 270 to 400 children under age 5 in Burma die from preventable diseases and 21 percent deaths are the result of children suffering acute respiratory infection, pneumonia, diarrhea and septicemia.
If you would like to read all the news and organizational reports please visit our blog at:
In Solidarity,

The Secretariat, APPPB