Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Burma Ranked The Second Most Corrupt Country In The World

map of most corrupt countries
Transparency International
Corruption seems endemic. It follows war and chaos like an unwelcome cousin. Transparency International has just released its annual report ranking corruption across the world.
At the bottom of the list, the most corrupt, are countries hit by warfare and strife, unsurprisingly. Somalia is the worst, followed by Burma, then Afghanistan and Iraq. The least corrupt countires are Denmark, New Zealand, and Singapore, unchanged from last year.
In a press release, the organization said, “Notable among decliners are some of the countries most affected by a financial crisis precipitated by transparency and integrity deficits.”  Greece fell from 71 to 78 and Italy from 63 to 67. The US also fell, from the 19th spot to the 22nd. From Reuters:
Nancy Boswell, president of TI in the United States, said lending practices in the subprime crisis, the disclosure of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and rows over political funding had all rattled public faith about prevailing ethics in America.
"We're not talking about corruption in the sense of breaking the law," she said. "We're talking about a sense that the system is corrupted by these practices. There's an integrity deficit."
Various financial scandals at state and city level had encouraged the impression that the regulatory oversight was weak and that influence could be bought, she added.
Corruption is something that just becomes ingrained in a society and once it's there it's hard to stop. It becomes a habit of mind, a sense that this is simply how things done. An official pamphlet given to Iraqi refugees who are heading to the States advises them not to bribe police officers. After working in Iraq for years I came home from one trip and had to go to the DMV. I'm waiting in line, as one does, and all I can think is, "Who can I bribe to make this go away?" To address corruption you have to change a society's whole way of thinking about what the cultural norms are, which is not easy, to say the least.

Monday, 25 October 2010

အေၾကာ္ဆီအိုးထဲ ေရသန္႔ဗူး ထည့္သူ (သို႔) ေမာင္စူးစမ္း


Saturday, 23 October 2010

No Forced Repatriation: Thai FM

By SAW YAN NAING Friday, October 22, 2010 
Ethnic Karen refugee children from Burma pass the time at the Mae La camp outside Mae Sot near the Thai-Burma border on October 14, 2010. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Thailand will repatriate Burmese refugees staying on the Thai-Burmese border only when peace prevails in Burma, said Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.
He made the statement on Friday when he visited Mae La refugee camp in Tak Province where some 40,000 Burmese refugees are staying.
Speaking to a camp committee, Kasit said the Thai authorities would not send the refugees back by force, but will only send them back if political situation in Burma gets better after the general elections on Nov. 7.
“We will be repatriated voluntarily when the situation in Burma is secure for us,” a committee member said, adding that they would not be sent back if there was still armed conflict in their home areas.
Kasit denied a previous remark made in the US in September that he is working on a plan to repatriate refugees and Burmese intellectuals to Burma after the elections.
Speaking in the US, Kasit said he would “launch a more comprehensive program for the Burmese people in the camps, the displaced, the intellectuals who run around the streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai province, to return to Burma after the elections,”  adding that the Thai government would also assist the return of the Burmese people.
Mae La refugee camp host refugees mostly ethnic Karen who fled from Burma due to human rights abuses conducted by Burmese government troops in their villages.  There are about 150,000 refugees living in nine refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border.
Meeting with 13 Mae La refugee camp committee members and representatives of the Karen Refugee Committee, Kasit listened to reports about the lack of clean water in the camp, the difficulties of health care and food supply.
Traveling in a convoy of about 20 vehicles with heavy security, Kasit along with representatives of nongovernmental organizations including the Thailand Burma Border Consortium, the International Rescue Committee, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees arrived at Mae La camp at 2 p.m and left the camp at 5 p.m. 

From Irrawaddy News

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The 2nd Conference of European Karen Network will be held in Denmark in December


                 Karen communities in Europe,

It is my pleasure to invite your organization to the second annual meeting of European Karen Network, which will be held in Nyborg, Denmark, from 28-29 December 2010. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss about the work of European Karen Network, to build more understanding among different communities and work towards the goal of the network.

The European Karen Network aims to raise awareness about the situation in Karen State and Burma as a whole and pressure European governments to do more to bring about democratic transition in Burma.

The 4 key objectives are:
  1. To act as a strong public voice on behalf of the Karen National Union, which is the true representative of the Karen people of Burma, and is a democratic Karen organization committed to human rights and democracy in Burma, and to raise awareness about the suffering of the Karen people and the struggle for a federal Burma where all people live in peace, democracy and harmony.
  2. To strengthen and improve coordination of Karen communities Europe wide.
  3. To seek stronger action on Burma from the international communities including European governments, the European Union, the United Nations Security Council, and other governments and international institutions.
  4. To promote unity among Karen worldwide and foster contacts with all Karen people from Burma, including in Kawthoolei (Karen State), and other Karen people worldwide.
I would be grateful if you could let me know whether you are available to participate and how many of you will be able to join us.

Below is briefing information with details for the meeting arrangement. If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

Nan Kyi Aye
Meeting organizer
Representative from Karen Community Norway.

PS. If you are a Karen and living in any countries of Europe and would like to attend this conference, please contact us here at facebook.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

WaiHnin's Jump for Freedom

Thanks for the welcome, but do you really mean it?

As Japan eases up on Burmese asylum seekers, those in Tokyo's Little Yangon question the motive

By Jessica Ocheltree 18 October, 2010
asylum seeker burmese refugees japan
asylum seeker burmese refugees japanThe first refugees are greeted by the press at Narita.

Over the past two weeks, 90 Burmese refugees have arrived in Tokyo as part of a United Nations-promoted third-country resettlement program. They are members of the Karen ethnic group and have been living in Thai refugee camps for years.

 asylum seeker burmese refugees japan
 Some 18 ethnic minority refugees who had fled to a Thai refugee camp from military-ruled Myanmar arrive in Japan.

 Japan falls behind other Western nations

Many analysts have applauded Japan's decision to participate in the program, saying that it represents a new turn in the government's policy on asylum.

Although they are one of the top providers of humanitarian aid, the Japanese have been criticized in the past for their reluctance to accept refugees.

Last year, they issued just 30 refugee visas, while the statistics for other wealthy, industrialized nations can number in the tens of thousands.

Burmese asylum-seekers who already live in Japan are watching the developments with a slightly more cynical eye, however.

As part of the program, the new arrivals were issued refugee visas before coming to Japan. They are also going to be provided with six months of language and culture training, as well as housing and job placement assistance. 

Time in limbo

All of these measures are welcome and necessary, but they starkly contrast with the experience of conventional asylum seekers.

People who apply for asylum after entering the country often spend years in limbo waiting for their application to be processed.

 asylum seeker burmese refugees japan
Many of Japan's Burmese population came out to show support for the new arrivals.

Many report that immigration officers responsible for their case know very little about the political situation in Myanmar (previously known as Burma) and fail to understand why a deportation order could be a death sentence. Several refugees say they were accused of lying when they reported having been arrested and tortured by the Burmese military junta.

Meanwhile, the temporary visas given to applicants while their claims are considered make it difficult to legally work, to obtain housing or to travel, and so the vast majority of people end up in Burmese enclaves around Takadanobaba station, the only place where any assistance is forthcoming. It's known among the community as “Little Yangon.”

According to Saw Ba Hla Thein of the Karen National League, who was granted refugee status in 2006 and now consults with the UNHCR and the Japanese government on Karen issues, the system in Japan is simply not set up for refugees.

“Japan doesn't have a refugee council or refugee resettlement centers. When there's something wrong, we don't even know who we should talk to,” he says. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggests talking to Immigration, who pass them to the Ministry of Home Affairs, who send them back to MOFA, he says.
asylum seeker burmese refugees japan
 asylum seeker burmese refugees japan
A Myanmar refugee speaks to reporters upon her arrival at the Narita international airport on September 28, 2010.

Ulterior motives

Many Burmese question the motives of the Japanese government in accepting refugees as part of a high-profile UN program while remaining so unfriendly to applicants already within their borders.

As Phone Hlaing, vice president of the Federation of Workers' Union of the Burmese Citizen (FWUBC), put it, “There will be an election [in Burma next month], so if the Japanese government believes the 2010 election is the real answer for our country, they would not accept refugees now. Almost everyone thinks Japan wants to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council, so they want to show their leadership, their responsibility.”

Others suggest that Japan has economic motives.

While most conventional Burmese refugees are well-educated and middle-class, the people accepted in the new program are generally large families from rural areas, leading to speculation that the decision was motivated by the social reality of a Japan with an aging population and an understaffed agricultural sector.

Although it has not yet been decided where the new refugees will finally settle, the city of Matsumoto in Nagano has expressed a willingness to take them.

 asylum seeker burmese refugees japan
  Tin Win Akbar speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Contribution not profit

For Tin Win Akbar, president of FWUBC and a well-known Burmese activist, accepting refugees shouldn't be something you do because you expect something in return.

“[It] is not taking some opportunity, it's a contribution. It's a humanitarian consideration, a human rights consideration. [The Japanese] do not understand that,” he says.

For now, the Burmese community is happy that a few more of their number have escaped life in the camps and have come to a country where they are at least free to pursue their political activities.

But if the Japanese government would really like to help, they say, it should stop supporting the military government in Myanmar. Then they might have a chance at what they really want: to go home.

Read more: Thanks for the welcome, but do you really mean it? |

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Refugee Repatriation

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Saturday- 30th October, Baptist Church Hall, Cemetery Rd

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The Karen Community Association would like to invite you for an important fundraising event to raise funds to provide schooling for the Internally Displaced children in Burma.
The event will include a recent film documenting life in Karen state – Eastern Burma and a concert performed by youngsters from various Sheffield communities.
There will also be some invited speakers from the Karen National Union highlighting the situation of the Karen ethnic group during the election run by the Burmese military regime.

Tickets: can be bought on an arrival priced at £5 for an adult and £3 for a child.
Time: 10 am – 2 pm
Venue: Baptist Church Hall, 11 Napier St, Sheffield, S11 8HE
Refreshments: Tea, Coffee, Soft drink and biscuits will be available

We look forward to seeing you there.
Yours Faithfully
Mr Lah Kei Htoo (Karen community Association Chair)

Burma/possible release of Aung San Suu Kyi – Statement by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Spokesman

Paris, October 4, 2010

Recent statements from the Burmese junta talk about Aung San Suu Kyi’s possible release on 13 November.

In no way at all can this be deemed a measure of clemency on the part of the junta. Indeed, Aung San Suu Kyi’s term of house arrest ends on 13 November this year.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s possible release must not consign to oblivion the thousands of other Burmese political prisoners. France, with her European Union partners, has continuously called for their release along with that of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Dialogue between the regime and the opposition is today nonexistent. The conditions for a free, democratic election on 7 November are not present. Everything remains to be done in order for Burma to take the path towards genuine national reconciliation. We will go on standing alongside the champions of the democratic cause in Burma./.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Scepticism over plan to 'free' Aung San Suu Kyi

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent

Friday, 1 October 2010

Could detained Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi be released after polls scheduled to take place next month?

Activists have questioned a report that says Burmese officials have declared their intention to release the Nobel laureate when her current term of house imprisonment concludes on 13 November.

But a news agency report quoted two unidentified officials saying she would be set free, six days after the election planned for 7 November. "November will be an important and busy month for us because of the election and because of Aung San Suu Kyi's release," the Agence France-Presse quoted a Burmese official as saying.

Another unidentified official said: "She will be released on that day according to the law."

The 65-year-old and her National League for Democracy party will play no role in the election, which many Western observers believe will further cement the position of the military. Her party voted to boycott the polls because it said they could not be considered fair while so many political prisoners remained behind bars. Ms Suu Kyi will also not be permitted to vote.

Last night, Mark Farmaner, of the Burma Campaign UK, questioned the report.

"We hope this report is correct, but regime officials have said similar things in the past and Aung San Suu Kyi has remained in detention," he said. "We'll believe it when we see it."

He said even if she were released it may not be as significant as was assumed. "She has been released twice before without there being any political change in the country," he explained.

"It is more likely that the dictatorship will try to use her release to attempt to persuade the international community to relax pressure on them.''