HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

People of Chiang Mai celebrate HM King’s 75th Birthday

Phayao confiscates over 100,000 ya-ba pills in 11 months

Huay Hong Krai Royal Development Study Center celebrates 20th Anniversary

Lampang lays claim as capital of Ceramic Industry

Phayao gem cutters amongst world’s best says gemologists

Hill tribes ask for tolerance from society

Chiang Mai’s famous Flower Festival on track say organizers

Lamphun looking hard at environmental and work safety

SMS now available from home phones

Chiang Rai artists honor HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great

South China offers investment opportunities

50% of Chiang Mai motorcyclists are unlicensed

Wine and sausages in Lamphun

U.S. Embassy screens documentary on human trafficking

Chiang Rai host to universities conference and Deputy PM

U.S. Transfers $22 Million War Reserve Stockpile to Thailand

Industrial restructuring plans discussed

Bangladeshi PM promotes Chittagong - Chiang Mai link

Prime Minister Thaksin gets behind the ICT industry

CMU active in fight to stop violence against women

People of Chiang Mai celebrate HM King’s 75th Birthday

Town fathers organize loads of activities in honor of our most beloved Monarch

The Municipality of Chiang Mai has organized activities to celebrate the King’s 75th birthday, which are to stretch over five days. The activities started on December 1, with a parade following the World AIDS Day going to the Thapae Gate where the grand opening was carried out.

On December 2, the opening ceremony of the Thai Environment Day to display grateful thanks to His Majesty the King was held at the Chiang Mai Art & Museum Hall, around the Three Kings Monument, where there was also a singing contest held in the evening. On the same day, the Keep Chiang Mai City Clean Project was officially opened in the Budhasathan, the Buddhist religious site near Wat Uppakut.

On December 3, the bicycle parade was held to pay respect the temple and to celebrate the King’s 75th birthday. On that day, the monks were invited to lecture at the Thapae Gate.

On December 4, the monks’ bowl project began early in the morning in front of the home for the aged and continued on to the Sriphume Fort. The event was the pilot project for an ongoing project.

On December 5, a mass alms giving ceremony was carried out followed by a bicycle parade to campaign for reducing pollution. Fish were also released into the city’s moat. In the evening, the community gathered at the Thapae Gate ground to bless the King, and Fathers’ Day awards were presented in the Thapae Gate area.

Phayao confiscates over 100,000 ya-ba pills in 11 months

1,231 villains arrested

The Commissioner of Phayao Provincial Police Pol. Maj. Gen. Rakchart Rajakit released the drug arrest statistics for the period January 1 to November 20, which showed that most arrests were related to amphetamine pills (ya-ba). He said that Phayao was on the drug supply route from Chiang Rai, which increased the Phayao numbers.

The figures released indicated there were 1,231 arrests on drug charges with the haul being 104,558 amphetamine pills; 6.3 gm of heroin; 238.8 gm of ripe opium; 4,137.8 gm of raw opium; 434.7 gm ground opium; 9,900 gm of opium seed; 45 gm fresh marijuana; 1,989 kg of dried marijuana and 94 packs of the paste.

It appears that drug trafficking has not abated, with the November statistics showing the police were still busy. There were 67 arrests, and police confiscated 1,226 amphetamine pills, 1.5 gm of raw opium, 2 gm of ripe opium, 1,988 kg of dried marijuana and 3 packs of paste.

Huay Hong Krai Royal Development Study Center celebrates 20th Anniversary

Pradub Kladkempetch, director of the Huay Hong Krai Royal Development Study Center, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai has released details of the 20th anniversary celebrations at the center which will take place December 11 to 15.

The activities and exhibitions cover His Majesty’s royally-initiated projects, an academic seminar, fertilizer demonstrations, preserved food and wine demonstrations, exhibitions of the fishery management, frog strain breeding, mushroom breeding, and forestry, and a fishing contest.

In addition to this being the 20th anniversary, the celebration will also be dedicated to the King’s 75th anniversary.

Lampang lays claim as capital of Ceramic Industry

Somsak Thepsutin, the minister of industry presided over the Lampang Ceramic Fair, which aims to support and promote the ceramic industry in Thailand. This is particularly important for Lampang, as it is known as the center of the ceramic industry in Thailand.

Literally thousands of ceramics are on display at the Lampang Ceramic Fair.

Ceramics are the main industry of the province, and there are more than 200 factories producing ceramic products. The number of people given employment by the industry is more than 10,000, and the total value of products is over 500 million baht per year.

Even the streets are filled with ceramics for sale - and this monk knows a bargain when he sees one.

Exhibited during the fair there will be the national research studies on ceramics, a ceramic product contest, ceramic production demonstrations, a ceramic design contest, as well as quality ceramic products. The fair runs from December 2-10.

Phayao gem cutters amongst world’s best says gemologists

86 trainees graduate from gem cutting training

Kwanmueng Bamrungpanichthavorn, president of the Prakai Ploy Company, said that the standard of diamond gem cutting in Phayao is equal to the best in the world, in his opinion. These remarks were made at a graduation ceremony for 86 gem cutting trainees in Phayao.

The Phayao Gems Industrial Center in cooperation with U Lim Company Limited and Prakai Ploy Company issued certificates to the young trainees. The ceremony was presided over by Phayao Governor Somsak Boonpleung at the end of November.

The 86 trainees included people involved in diamond cutting, plus others who had specialized in other fine gems and cutting styles.

The training course was aimed to encourage and invite national industrial enterprises to consider distributing some work to the rural areas. This is a way to increase the country people’s income, reduce immigration to the big cities and to create a system of cooperation between the government and private sectors.

Hill tribes ask for tolerance from society

Radio program aims to spread good image of hill tribe

Local hill tribes are hopeful that the hill tribe radio programs will build tolerance by society to the several hill tribes in the country, and spread a good image of the hill tribes so that the racial problems can be overcome and everybody can live peacefully together.

A seminar on the development of the hill tribe radio was arranged by the Chiangmai Public Relations Office, Region 3 and the representatives of several of the hill tribes resulting in good exchange of ideas. The keynote speakers discussed the role of the radio station and the development of hill tribe life style, headed by Father Joni O Do Chao and Panadda Boonyasaranai.

Father Joni, the leader of a Karen tribe, indicated that social problems could be solved when people showed good tolerance towards each other, and what the hill tribe radio needed to do is to spread knowledge on the various hill tribes. He emphasized the point that people should accept that in each group, there are both good and bad people just like any other society. He asked society not to stereotype hill tribe people as if they were all alike.

This opinion was backed up by Panadda who said that in Thai society, people of different cultures can live together without any change in their own culture.

Chiang Mai’s famous Flower Festival on track say organizers

Miss Floral Beauty to be contested

Chiang Mai will hold its 27th Flower Festival on February 7-9. This flower festival is a draw card for tourists from all over the world who come to see the flower float parade, the flower display, Miss Bupphachart (Miss Floral Beauty) contest, and many other interesting activities.

The organizers have promised there will be 9 activities at the Naowarat Bridge, flower exhibitions at Suan Buak Had, Kad Mua at the provincial governor’s residence, Miss International Bupphachart Contest, the flower picture contest, the international food fair, a music concert, and entries from the One Village - One Product campaign.

The flower parade, the highlight of the festival will be start at the Naowarat Bridge 8 a.m. on February 8 and then move to Suan Buak Had Public Park. The flower floats will be parked at Suan Buak Had to let the tourists get close to these decorated vehicles.

Lamphun looking hard at environmental and work safety

Encourage factories to look to safer practices

The Lumphun Provincial Labor and Welfare Office in cooperation with the Human Resource Development Association, and the Work Place Safety and Security Officers Club of Lumphun arranged a seminar last month to define the role and responsibility of the various committees regarding biological and environmental safety in the workplace.

The seminar brought out the latest knowledge on safety and security systems to the security guards in factories, aimed at encouraging the factories to look to safer working practices.

The factories must institute checking systems to investigate the cause of any accidents happening in the work environment. The objectives of this seminar were to demonstrate safe working practices and attempt to prevent dangerous chemical fires.

SMS now available from home phones

TT&T celebrates 10 years

TT&T has released details of new services for its users, including T-SMS, the short message sending service from the home phone. The director of TT&T Public Company Limited in region 5, Prakit Wangpat, revealed the new service during the 10th year anniversary of the company. In addition there is call line identification service available for home phones.

At the Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex the company will be holding T-Trends exhibitions to showcase the latest information and services that will serve the users in all zones including T-SMS, T-Net, T-Box, Web Phone, and Public Web Phone and Exhibition for school zone. T-Trends will be held December 20-22.

Chiang Rai artists honor HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great

Children invited to learn from the greats

Wanchai Jongsuthamanee, the mayor of Chiang Rai Municipality was very proud to announce that the Municipality of Chiang Rai, in cooperation with the Chiang Rai artists, would celebrate the King’s 75th Anniversary with a display of local art from December 4 to February 28 which will also show their grateful thanks to the King for what he has done for Thai citizens.

The display will be at the Chiang Rai local products center, beside the municipality school in Chiang Rai Muang District. Included in the art works of Chiang Rai artists, there will be items from renowned national artists Thawal Dachanee, Chalermchai Kositpipat, and the Chiang Rai artistic team of 15 people.

There will also be local performances in several styles, plus local music, northern dances, tung flag performances, and poetry readings by the Sea-Write Award poet, Mala Khamchan.

Plus, there will be children’s painting contests and Thai dancing contests among Chiang Rai students. Every weekend during the celebration, children will be encouraged to spend their time learning from famous artists who will be taking turns teaching the students sculpture, drawing and painting, to promote Chiang Rai as an artistic city.

South China offers investment opportunities

Sign up now

The Bank of Thailand (Northern region) is hosting the seminar “Avenues and Chances for Investment in Southern China” on Friday, December 20 at the Bank of Thailand office, Chiang Mai, from 8.30 am. to 4.30 p.m.

Chiang Mai deputy governor, Bovorn Rattanaprasit strikes the gong to mark the opening ceremony of the Bank of Thailand’s 60th anniversary celebration and exhibition of 100 years of Thai banknotes. The event is being organized at BoT’s northern branch.

This seminar is part of the 100 year anniversary of Thai Banknotes and the 60th anniversary of the Bank of Thailand, and is aimed at supporting business investment in the north of Thailand, and exchanging ideas between government and private organizations about the potential for Chinese investment.

All interested people can confirm their seat at Bank of Thailand, Northern Region, Chiang Mai, tel. 053 931 145-6, fax 053 224 168, 053 931 163 before December 17.

50% of Chiang Mai motorcyclists are unlicensed

New push underway to correct this

Supatatt Dangkrueng

According to government figures, more than 50 percent of motorcycle riders in Chiang Mai are riding unlicensed, especially amongst teenagers. In cooperation with the Thai Motorcycle Enterprise Association (TMEA), Chiang Mai Provincial Land and Transport Office, Provincial Traffic Police Region 5 and Esso (Thailand) Public Company Limited, a training project promoting riding with safety and saving energy will be held on December 7 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Thapae Gate, The Empress Hotel and the Chiang Mai Provincial Land and Transport Office.

Participants from government and private sector prepare for the riding safety campaign.

The students come from all over Chiang Mai, including Chiang Mai University, Mae Jo University, Payap University, Rajamangala Institute of Technology Northern Campus, Rajabhat Institute of Chiang Mai and other private colleges.

These students will learn traffic regulations from traffic officers and they can be tested for a driving license, which will be provided at the Chiang Mai Provincial Land and Transport Office. Other activities provided in the project are energy saving, environmental awareness and demonstration of safe riding.

The Thai Motorcycle Enterprise Association’s project director, Vinai Kitchoke said the project will begin first at Chiang Mai, one of the ten highest risk provinces, followed by Nakhon Ratchasima, Chonburi, Prachinburi, Samut Prakarn, Phuket, Songkla, Udorn Thani and Ubon Ratchathani. Chiang Mai is the first province to benefit from this campaign, and if successful, the project will be extended to the other provinces.

Sumpan Anantamek, Esso (Thailand) Public Company Limited’s government relations manager for public affairs, said this project is one of their environmental concern projects and the company is fully behind it.

Wine and sausages in Lamphun

Locals gearing up for next year’s festival

The 2nd Lamphun Walking Street, Wine and Sai Ua (northern sausage) festival will be held January 17-19, promoted by U Mong Municipality. The main focus will be to show the diversity of agricultural products available in the region, with the Tambon U Mong Culture Center in Lamphun being the exhibition arena.

Khayan Wipromchai, the mayor of Tambon U Mong Municipality said that according to the government’s One Village - One Product project, the municipality aims to publicize the community products and extend the agricultural produce market for the farmers.

Longan and fruit wine from Tambon U Mong, Thai whisky and Sai Ua will be the main products in this festival. It is also hoped that the festival will attract tourists, leading to a sustainable economy for the community.

During the festival, U Mong locals will dress in Lanna style while the main activities are wine and Sai Ua sales, One Village - One Product stalls, stage performances, wine production demonstrations, wine and Sai Ua consumption competitions, Lanna Walking Street done in the style corresponding to 50-60 years ago, and local instrumental shows.

U.S. Embassy screens documentary on human trafficking

Documentary filmed in Thailand, Burma, and Yunnan

Kathleen Johnson, wife of U.S. Ambassador Darryl N. Johnson, recently hosted a screening of the documentary film entitled “Trading Women,” a film on the trafficking in women and children in the Mekong Region.

The newly released film was shown to senior Thai government officials, NGO representatives, and members of other diplomatic missions in an attempt to fight the human trafficking issue. The showing was only the second time the film had been seen in Thailand. The documentary’s producer and director, Dr. David Feingold, a consultant to UNESCO, provided an introduction to the film and answered questions afterwards.

This documentary had been filmed over the past two years in Thailand, Burma, and Yunnan Province of China. It explores the complex social and economic forces, which underpin the flow of ethnic minority highland women and children into Thailand for sexual exploitation.

Interviews included in the film range from parents of women and girls who have been trafficked, to U.S. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, senior United Nations officials, brothel owners, and the victims of the trade themselves.

For further information on the documentary “Trading Women,” please contact Dr. David Feingold at 02-391-0577 ext. 503.

Chiang Rai host to universities conference and Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Jaturon Chaisaeng presided over the annual Thailand University Conference at Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai. Entitled “The Development of Thailand into a Learning Society” it was held at the end of November.

Deputy Prime Minister Jaturon Chaisaeng presided over the annual Thailand University President Conference titled, “The Development of Thailand into a Learning Society”, held at Mae Fah Luang University.

Many participants came to Chiang Rai to share their opinions about the country’s education development.

Deputy PM Jaturon said that for Thailand to develop as a learning based society we must focus on education which will lead our society in the same direction. This should commence with standard levels of instruction even in children’s centers.

Moreover, the Deputy PM underlined the infrastructure needed in developing management skills that can give the opportunities and protect the lifestyle of the populace. This will bring equality to the country as well.

U.S. Transfers $22 Million War Reserve Stockpile to Thailand

U.S. Ambassador Darryl N. Johnson and the Supreme Commander Director for Logistics (J4) VADM Apichart Pengsritong signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on November 26 for the transfer to Thai ownership of U.S. munitions currently stored in Thailand under the War Reserve Stockpile. The value of the munitions transferred to Thailand is approximately $US22 million (about 946 million baht).

War Reserve Stockpile transfers are just one of many ongoing U.S. programs to support the national security needs and priorities of the Royal Thai Government, a valued treaty ally for almost fifty years. Other elements include support to the Thai humanitarian demining program; the Thai peacekeeping training program; military education and training (IMET) and exchanges; Foreign Military Financing (FMF) in support of Thai border security needs; and exercise related construction and medical services, as a part of Cobra Gold and other annual military-military exercises.

The U.S. Congress authorized the War Reserve Stockpile program in the 1980s with U.S. Treaty allies in Asia, specifically Thailand and South Korea, as a way of meeting the mutual national security aims of the U.S. and Asian allies in potential times of need. The U.S. and Thailand made equal contributions to the stockpile, stored separately.

With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Congress authorized the closeout of the War Reserve Stockpile program. Thai and U.S. negotiators drafted the MoA this spring, and both governments endorsed the text. With the signing of the MoA, transfer of ownership of the U.S. portion of the stockpile to Thailand will now commence.

Industrial restructuring plans discussed

Phitsanu Thepthong

A special “Lunch Talk” on industrial restructuring was organized recently at the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai by the Office of Economic Industry along with Federation of Chiang Mai Industry, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Promotion Center.

Some of guest speakers and guests pose for a photo session after the lunch talk held at the Empress Hotel. Damri Sukhotanung, director of the Office of Economic Industry is shown seated center.

Udom Puasakul, deputy Chiang Mai governor, said during the talk that the country’s agricultural sector is changing into a more industrialized sector, resulting in more industrial competitiveness on the global market. “In the world of business competitiveness, at present, the winner must be the more clever or more expert and he should have to look at both himself and the other competitors,” he said.

Deputy Governor Udom said integration and cooperation could bring success to all sides, but the government sector has still both strong and weak points, adding that all sectors should do their best, no matter what.

At the luncheon, Damri Sukhotanung, the director of the Office of Economic Industry presented a lecture entitled, “Reshape and Reinvent Industrial Competitiveness”. “China will be the leading mass production country ... it is currently much stronger than Thailand,” he said.

He noted that besides Mainland China, Vietnam and Bangladesh (especially textiles products), Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia are pressuring us for competitiveness during these times of change.

“The consumers’ behavior has changed,” he said, adding that “Quality and the supply chain or value added is another important strategy for today’s industrial development.” He remarked that the strategy on industrial competitiveness - which is regarded as the development of global industry and niche marketing - is promoting Thailand as the “Detroit of Asia” for motor vehicle production, as well as tourism and health, and as a tropical fashion center.

However, every Thai product needs standards and quality and he believes that the government must lead the private sector to look for change and SME opportunities.

He noted that the English language is now almost universal for communications in the world of fashion and tourist destinations, engineering in science and technology development, as well as the promotion of E-commerce with information communications technology, and must be promoted if the country wishes to improve its industrial competitiveness.

These remarks are in line with the Thaksin administration policy on opening liberal trade with China and India, he said, noting that by next year Thai economy expects to improve to a 5 % growth rate.

Bangladeshi PM promotes Chittagong - Chiang Mai link

H.E. Begum Khaleda Zia, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh recently visited Chiang Mai, encouraging friendly relations between Bangladesh and Thailand. He stated that both the societies have the same age-old respect for the values of an agriculturally based rural society. The people of the two countries share the same habits of rice-eating peoples, and have the same traditional traits centering around the monsoon rains.

The old bonds between the countries were rekindled when Bangladesh first established its diplomatic mission in Thailand in 1972, one of the first few missions that the nascent nation established after its independence in 1972. Thailand soon reciprocated by opening its diplomatic office in Bangladesh in 1974. Since then, both the countries have been active in promoting the cause of international peace, justice and development, through many initiatives in political and economic fields.

The foundations of present day close friendship between Bangladesh and Thailand was laid down by the state visit of Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman in 1979 at the invitation of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. A new momentum in the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Thailand was set after the present government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia was elected in October 2001. On an invitation from the Prime Minister, the Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra then visited Bangladesh in July this year. The visit created an enormous good will between the two countries, he asserted.

With closer links that would be established by the new Chittagong -Chiang Mai air routes, the business men of the two countries would be engaged in trade and exploring the huge investment opportunities that are available in Bangladesh. Today Thailand is a very popular destination for Bangladeshis. In fact, Bangladesh, according to 2001 statistics, ranks third in terms of daily tourist spending in Thailand.

Bangladesh, claimed the prime minister of that country, is an attractive destiny for investment. Democracy, though young, has found a strong foothold in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has carefully designed an investor friendly liberal economic regime with diverse lucrative incentives, establishment of bonded industrial zones, offers of long tax relief and free repatriation of profits.

Bangladesh has joined Prime Minister Thaksin’s dream of Asian Cooperation Dialogue since its beginning and ardently supports his ideas of regional monetary and financial instruments like Asian Bonds to curb the possibilities of any future exodus of wealth from Asia to the West.

To supplement the government initiatives, Thai Airways is connecting Chiang Mai and the Bangladesh commercial capital Chittagong from December 2002. A short hop of an hour would connect the Northern Thai capital and the Southern port city of Bangladesh encouraging further trade and interaction. Chittagong could also be the gateway to the beauty of Bangladesh for Thai tourists.

The new corridors of communication created by direct links between Chittagong and Chiang Mai and Chittagong and Bangkok and increased passenger and cargo air flights between Bangkok and Dhaka will surely open up new markets for both countries.

It is expected that Thailand would be importing more goods from Bangladesh which could include high quality products such as jute carpets, ceramics, tea, silk materials, frozen sea food, potatoes, leather goods, etc. Thai entrepreneurs could look at the potential domestic market in Bangladesh and set up joint ventures in areas such as construction and management of hospitals and hotels, elevated highways, agro and food processing industries.

Prime Minister Thaksin gets behind the ICT industry

Receives award from ASOCIO

Phitsanu Thepthong

PM Thaksin Shinawatra emphasized at the ASOCIO 2002 General Assembly and Symposium at the Westin Hotel, Chiang Mai, that by using information communication technology (ICT) both government and private sectors, especially small to medium enterprises (SME), will find assistance in the decision-making process. “Decision makers can do this sitting in front of a screen or monitor,” he said.

PM Thaksin Shinawatra received the ASOCIO IT Award for his promotion of new technologies in Thailand. The Asian Oceania Computing Industry Organization (ASOCIO) conferred the IT award to PM Thaksin for his pioneering role in the development of the Thai ICT industry. The award was presented by Harres Tan, chairman of the ASOCIO at the ASOCIO 2002 event hosted by the Association of Thai Computer Industry (ATCI).

He stressed that people who use their computer and ICT to help make their decisions are those who are knowledgeable - but these people are in a minority. The PM stated the country must produce more personnel in the IT field.

During the symposium, PM Thaksin received the ASOCIO IT Award for his promotion of new technologies in Thailand. During his acceptance speech, the PM said that ASOCIO signals the beginning of a crucial link between the public and private sectors in the IT domain, a much needed partnership in this Information Age. “I strongly believe that this kind of partnership is the key to success for any nation in this era of digital economy where businesses are taking a more prominent role in guiding national economies.”

A close working relationship with the private sector is essential in order to find the best answers and reach sound decisions. A mutually reinforcing partnership is vital, particularly in the realm of IT where industry continues to be at the forefront of the dynamics of global activities. “I envisage this as a new partnership and I am gratified to be standing here in front of this distinguished audience of high-ranking public officers and key players in the IT industry to witness this new development,” he said.

He added, “I am confident that as a willing partner, the Thai government will exercise an appropriate role in assisting the industry in a way that will result not only in the intermediate prosperity of the industry, but also the ultimate prosperity of the citizens at large.”

During the address, PM Thaksin also referred to the software industry, saying the Thai government has long recognized the importance of the IT industry, particularly software, as a key economic driver. “With the over-growing significance of IT, the government believes that the strength of our software industry is one critical keystone that can lead us to sustainable employment.”

“The government is planning to establish the Software Industry Promotion Board (SIPB) and the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), which will be comprised of members from both public and private sectors to ensure that any promotional initiatives put into practice reflect both the national agendas and the requirements of the industry.”

He added that besides partnership at the national level, partnership at the international level is equally important. “I was more than pleased to see that my initiative on the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) has been warmly embraced by our Asian colleagues. The ACD was officially inaugurated in June 2002 and Thailand was given the privilege of hosting and chairing the meeting

“The ACD principle is to create strategic linkages, while also enhancing the comfort level among participants. It is an Asia-wide agreement for the exchange of ideas and experiences among high-level policy makers. It is a forum to foster cooperation in numerous areas including human resource development, bridging the digital divide, science and technology, culture and tourism, and SME development.

“We have shared together ... experiences that helped me to learn and grow.”

CMU active in fight to stop violence against women

Metinee Chaikuna

The Women’s Study Center, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University has just run two seminars to find ways to relieve, and make publicly aware, the problem of violence against women. Two seminars were addressed by many renowned female activists, with topics covering Violence within the Family and War, Women and Rape.

The first seminar highlighted a report from the Puan Ying Foundation showing that rape and violence against women were on the increase while the age of the victims is dropping. In 1996, the ages of the victims were between 11-15 year-old, and in 1998, the age had dropped to become 4-15 years old.

The latest report from Dr. Panpimol Lortrakool, of the Psychiatric Department stated that 30% of married women were bullied at least once in their married life, and 20% of the bullied women were pregnant. It also claimed that the judicial process is not equitable and actually produces more suffering. The police tend to ignore abused wives, considering that it is a domestic matter and not a police one.

The other seminar covering “Women, War, and Rape” dealt with sexual violence against ethnic minority women in Burma. The seminar was moderated by Dr. Pinkaew Luengararmsri; CMU active in fight to stop violence against women Pennapa Hongthing, the translator of a book “Licence to Rape”; Ajarn Chalardchai Rmitanond from the Rural Development War, and Women Foundation; and Ajarn Sarawanee Sukhumwat.

The seminar emphasized the accusations in the book “License to Rape” which have been documented by the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) and the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) demonstrating the widespread and systematic use of rape as a weapon of war by the Burmese military regime in Shan State, Burma. “Licence to Rape” documents the claims of the hundreds of women and girls identified as victims of the State Peace and Development Council’s (SPDC) terror tactic against citizens of the Shan state. According to the report, the rapes were committed by officers of 52 battalions, in most cases, in front of their troops and in front of their junior officers. The rapes often involved extreme brutality and torture. 61% were gang rapes, and in come cases, women were allegedly detained and raped repeatedly for months.

A case history was given, regarding Naang Hla, who was 16 years old, had been married for 3 years, and was 7 months pregnant. She lived with her husband in a small hut on their farm near a small village in Central Shan State. It was claimed that in August 2001 Burmese troops from Light Infantry Battalion No. 246 came into their farm. They beat and tortured her and even though she was seven months pregnant, they raped her continuously. All 10 soldiers raped her while others stood outside the hut, laughing when she cried and called for help. They had tied up her husband close to the hut so he could hear everything that was happening to his wife. The torture lasted from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. When they finished with her, they took her husband away and he has not been seen since.

On November 25, over 2,000 individuals and organizations from different parts of the world, outraged by the Burmese military’s licensing of rape made their voices heard in the Office of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan in New York City. The petition is part of the campaign that was launched by international women’s groups.

The Thai Action Committee For Democracy in Burma, Thai Religious groups for Peace, Alliance for the Advancement of Women, the Migrant Assistance Project, Women and Constitution Network, and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development also urge the Burmese Government to stop the violation of women’s human rights, implement a nationwide cease-fire in order to put an end to the suppression, and to implement fully and respect international declarations and conventions to protect civilians, women and children.