World outraged as Myanmar troops regain control
Residents worried pro-democracy protests could be
weakening after soldiers and police in Myanmar took control of the streets,
firing warning shots to scatter the few demonstrators who ventured out and
sealing off Buddhist monasteries. The Internet was also cut.
The streets were quiet early Saturday and monks, who have provided the
backbone of recent rallies calling for an end to 45 years of military rule,
were penned in behind locked gates in the two largest cities, Yangon and
Mandalay. Additional troops arrived overnight, consolidating control of
“I don’t think that we have any more hope to win,” said a young woman who
took part in a massive demonstration Thursday that was broken up when troops
opened fire into a crowd. She was separated from her boyfriend and has not
seen him since. “The monks are the ones who give us courage.”
Daily protests drawing tens of thousands of people had grown into the
stiffest challenge to the ruling junta in two decades, a crisis that began
more than a month ago when people in the desperately poor nation of 54
million started rallying against a massive fuel price increase.
Security forces started to crack down on the demonstrators last Wednesday,
when the first of at least 10 deaths was reported, and then let loose on
Thursday. Small groups of die-hard activists and angry residents have turned
out since then, some taunting troops and then scattering into alleyways,
soldiers in pursuit.
“Bloodbath again! Bloodbath again!” a Yangon resident yelled Friday while
watching troops break up one march by shooting into the air, firing tear gas
and beating people with clubs. Participants in the protests asked that their
names not be used, fearing retribution.
On Saturday, soldiers and police were stationed on almost every street
corner in Yangon. Shopping malls, grocery stores and public parks were
closed, and only a handful of residents ventured out.
“People are living in a state of fear and hate,” said one onlooker, who
asked not to be named. “A few days ago, everyone was friendly. Now no one
wants to talk to strangers.”
Hundreds of people have been arrested, including Win Mya Mya, an outspoken
member of the country’s main opposition group, the National League for
Democracy, who was taken overnight, according to family members.
Images of bloodied protesters and fleeing crowds have riveted world
attention on the escalating crisis, prompting many governments to urge the
junta to end the violence. A video broadcast by Japan’s Fuji Television
Network showed a soldier directly shooting a Japanese cameraman during the
The United Nations’ special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, was to arrive
in the country Saturday to promote a political solution to the crisis, and
the United States urged “all civilized nations” to urge Myanmar’s leaders to
end the crackdown.
“They don’t want the world to see what is going on there,” White House
spokesman Scott Stanzel said, as soldiers searched hotels for foreign
journalists, who have been largely barred from entering the country.
But analysts said it was unlikely that countries with major investments in
Myanmar, such as China and India, would agree to take any punitive measures.
They also noted the junta has long ignored criticism of its tough handling
Although the crackdown raised fears of a repeat of a 1988 democracy uprising
that saw an estimated 3,000 protesters slain, the junta appeared relatively
restrained so far.
The arrival of additional troops in Yangon strengthened the government’s
hand, said an Asian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing
The corralling of monks was also a serious blow. The maroon-robed clergymen
carry high moral authority in the predominantly Buddhist nation, and the
protests had mushroomed when they joined in.
The government has said police and soldiers killed 10 people, including the
Japanese journalist, in the first two days of the crackdown, but diplomats
and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown the toll was probably greatly
They provided no estimates of their own and cautioned that witness reports
had not been verified.
Authorities also shut off the country’s two Internet service providers,
although big companies and embassies hooked up to the Web by satellite
remained online. The Internet has played a crucial role in getting news and
images of the democracy protests to the outside world. AP
violence in Myanmar
Thailand and ASEAN have both denounced the Myanmar
government’s use of violence against demonstrators and called on it to
exercise the utmost restraint and resume efforts to end street protests
through peaceful means.
“As a neighboring country sharing a land border of more than 2,400
kilometers and currently hosting more than a million Myanmar citizens,
Thailand is gravely concerned with what we are seeing and hearing in
“Both Thailand and Myanmar, being predominantly Buddhist, share in the
belief of nonviolence and tolerance. So, Thailand finds unacceptable the
commission of violence and bodily harm to Buddhist monks and demonstrators,”
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said on behalf of ASEAN in his address
to the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly which was held
from September 22-29.
He said ASEAN members have discussed the situation in Myanmar and were
informed of the military regime’s resort of weapons against the
The group expressed hostile resistance on the report of violent suppression
which led to the loss of lives and called on the junta to end of the use of
“We strongly urge Myanmar to exercise utmost restraint and to seek a
political situation and resume its effort at national reconciliation with
all parties concerned, and work towards a peaceful transition to democracy.
“We call for the release of all political detainees, including opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi,” Prime Minister Surayud said.
He said ASEAN supported the decision by UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon to
send special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Myanmar and wanted the military regime
to cooperate with the world body.
Mr. Ibrahim will serve as a mediator to find ways to ease the aggravating
situation. ASEAN wants the regime to allow the special envoy to meet with
all parties concerned to discuss the best way out for the situation.
He said the Thai government is worried about what is happening in the
neighboring country, particularly human rights violations, because the
problem could lead to a further influx of refugees into Thailand in the
Asked whether the Thai government would press the Myanmar junta to end the
use of violence against people, he said his government is not in a position
to do that.
What it could do now is to negotiate with the junta, which is the only
channel ASEAN members could use to help end the violence in Myanmar, the
Thai prime minister said. TNA
Chiang Mai gathers to protest actions in Myanmar
Over the weekend, beginning late on Friday afternoon with a rally at Three
Kings Monument, a series of protest demonstrations and religious observances
were held in Chiang Mai against the ruling junta In Myanmar and in support
of the Burmese people now suffering a brutal crackdown against their
peaceful demonstrations for freedom.
Several hundred Chiang Mai
residents gathered at the Three Kings monument to protest the actions of the
The first rally was hastily planned on Thursday evening and, because of the
absence of the Mayor of Chiang Mai on business in Bangkok, only received
official support at 4pm. The rally, organized by Peace in Burma and Labor
Sans Frontieres among others – attracted several hundred supporters dressed
symbolically in red.
As the evening wore on numbers grew and a small police presence went largely
unnoticed. A series of speeches were made in both Thai and English and a
blessing and short speech was made by a monk. Songs of protest were sung by
a women’s group from Myanmar and another song, “Only if We Stand Together”
expressed the mood of the peaceful crowd of students, activists and well
wishers made up of Thais and foreigners.
The event ended with a candlelight vigil as people contemplated the
significance of the messages written and read on the banners and posters,
they asked for a free Burma and the release of their elected leader – still
under house arrest after many years- Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Saturday morning a special prayer meeting was held at Wat Suandok, Suthep
Road where the chief Monk addressed a devout group of Thais and farangs in a
prayer meeting with the hopes of a peaceful end to the problems facing
A second meeting at Three Kings Monument was arranged for the Saturday
afternoon and the organizers are hoping for further meetings and actions in
Chiang Mai and elsewhere in Thailand to help put pressure on the military
junta in the neighboring country.
Sunflowers to kickoff tourist season
Hot air balloon to be launched
The famed Mexican sunflowers
are expected to begin blooming in early November. (CMM file photo)
A hot air balloon will be launched in Mae Hong Son to
provide tourists with an aerial view of the upcoming sunflower blooming
The Mae Hong Son Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) allocated a
budget of 1.5 million baht to build and operate the balloon which begins
operations when the sunflowers begin to bloom in November.
Over 500 rai of Mexican sunflowers draw thousands of tourists every year and
has become one of the major attractions in the province.
The hot air balloon ride will transport up to 5 passengers, who will be
charged 100 baht each. Each tour takes approximately 15 minutes and guests
will be offered a cup of locally grown Huay Hom coffee. The hot air balloon
will be available from 8:30am to 4:30pm until the end of the festival.
Wisut Buachum, the head of the Mae Hong Son Tourism Coordination Center
stated that “the balloon predicts a good fortune of the province’s tourism
and it will become the first balloon tour at flower field in Thailand. The
balloon will be indeed a real magnet to tourists.” He expected the balloon
to generate at least 500 million baht during November and December this
Wisut reported that 367,869 tourists visited Mae Hong Son in 2006, which is
an optimistic rise from 2005 of 11.62%. Average length of stay stands at 2.5
days while average expenditure is at 1797.20 baht a person. In 2006, tourism
generated the city 1,629.48 million baht, accounted as a 8.18% increase when
compared with 2005.
Wisut continued that the top 10 nationalities who visited the province are
Israeli, Spanish, Belgian, American, French, Dutch, British, German, Danish
Motorcycle accidents kill 27 people a day
According to the Public Health Ministry (PHM), motorcycle
accidents claim the lives of 27 Thais and injure 438 every day. Of those
drivers involved in accidents 80% were not wearing crash helmets.
The statistics released by the PHM stated that motorcycle accidents was one
of the leading causes of deaths among Thais in 2005 with 159,867 severely
injured and 9,877 killed. In 2006 - 164,836 were seriously injured and 8,908
More than 50% died instantly at the scene of the accidents and were aged
between 25-45 years of age.
Road and transport accidents were the second major cause of deaths among
children after drowning, with 65% of the road accident deaths involved
children as motorcycle passengers.
Asst. Prof. Dr Adisak has six safety recommendations for children passengers
on motorcycles, 1. Find a better mode of transportation, especially with
children under 2 years old; no amount of safety equipment will lessen
injury; 2. Children over 2 years old should wear crash helmets; 3. Children
aged less than 5 years should not sit on the back unsupported because they
could fall asleep and fall off; 4. There are no statistics to prove that the
use of cloth or belts and other equipment to tie the passenger to the driver
increases safety; 5. Use of special seats might prevent the child from
falling off or getting its legs trapped in the wheels, but it doesn’t help
in accidents, presently no designs are perfect; 6. If a child is a passenger
the driver should not go over 40 kilometers per hour. CMM Reporters
Analysis: A wind for change
A small, cool breath of clean air blew westwards from Chiang Mai over the
weekend, towards Myanmar, also known as Burma. Hundreds of ordinary people –
Thais, Burmese and others including many westerners – met together to
express support for the Burmese people and to condemn the violent and
corrupt regime that is committing atrocities against them.
There were speeches and songs, petitions to sign and donations to be made.
But above all there was a message of hope- if not optimism- from the
assembled crowds. The banners said it all: “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” and “End
Fascism in Burma” simple and direct messages to the generals who care
nothing for the plight of their people.
But will the generals and their bully gangs take notice? After all they
ignore the cries of agony of those being tortured for their beliefs. They
condone the killings and amass private fortunes so will they care what the
We can only hope – and believe – because these protests are not made in
isolation. Throughout the world hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of
people have echoed the sentiments of the residents of Chiang Mai. Each one
may only represent the sound of a butterfly’s wings when compared with the
rumble of tanks. But when the sound of millions of beating hearts and
beating wings is combined it could eventually drown out the gun fire and the
batons used on shaven heads.
Importantly those in power in other countries who remain silent should
remember that dictatorships will one day fail. In Burma the end is in sight,
maybe on a far horizon or perhaps nearer than many believe.
Recent history has shown that ‘people power’ finally overrules illegal
repression. In Spain, Portugal, in South Africa, throughout South America
and Eastern Europe change has eventually come. The tide turns as it will one
day in Burma. Whatever happens in the weeks and months to come we must hope
that the tiny gestures made in Chiang Mai and everywhere else will not be
The people of Burma need to be free for our sake as well. Allowing the
contamination that their junta spreads is like leaving an insidious virus
loose on the world to infect us all.
The words of the Thai Prime Minister over the weekend and of other world
leaders during the past days must represent the beginning of the end for
those who rule in Burma.
Ladyboy roundup continues
Chiang Mai police investigators are continuing the
cleanup of transvestites fearing that they will commit crimes against
tourists as the city enters the tourist season.
On the 25th of September Police Lt. Col. Prachaub Vongsuk, Superintendent of
Chiang Mai Police Station ordered Pol. Lt. Col. Chanavut Vibulkiat, Pol.
Capt. Opart Vonghong, Pol. Capt. Anuparp Chaisiri and a team of
investigators out on the streets to arrest transvestites again after an
earlier operation the previous week.
The team of officers descended on Loy Kro Road and a group of ladyboys began
fleeing in different directions.
Police gave chase and were able to detain three who were charged with
Royal Flora Park gets 90 million baht
The Agriculture Department has allocated 90 million baht
for maintenance of the Royal Flora Park.
The Agriculture Department’s working group has prepared to establish the
Royal Flora Park 2007 Foundation to administrate and promote the park as a
botanical park and natural attraction. “The idea of establishing the
foundation was initiated after the government and the senate approved the
2008 fiscal budget act which will be spent from 1st October onwards,” said
Adisak Srisapkij, the Director General of Agricultural Department.
“The foundation will operate and administrate the park by applying the same
techniques of those applied at the Suan Luang (Rama IV Park) in Bangkok.
While waiting for the approval from the cabinet, a special working group
will be assigned to administrate the park,” explained the director general.
Administration of the park is estimated at 90 million baht. The 90 million
baht budget will be a part of remaining 130 million baht in revenue
generated during the Royal Flora Exposition. Some 45 million baht will be
spent on renovation while the monthly maintenance is estimated at 6 million
“When the foundation is formed, the administration of the park will be
comprised of a working group between the foundation and local organizations
such as Tambon Mae Hia Administration Organization, Tambon Nong Kwai
Administration Organization, Chiang Mai Municipality, Chiang Mai Provincial
Administration Organization and private sectors as representatives of the
Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce.” “However, the operation of each
organization has to be set to share the same directions,” continued Adisak.
One-Two-Go victim files first lawsuit
A Thai air crash victim filed the first lawsuit in the
United States against the Boeing Company, the US manufacturer of the
aircraft which crashed at Phuket International Airport on September 16 which
left 90 people dead.
US Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mr.
Parinyawit Choosaeng, one of the victims, who survived the crash with first
US lawyers Manuel von Ribbeck and Mike Eidson said the lawsuit was filed at
the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) with the first hearing
scheduled for November 5.
The defendant has to show relevant evidence concerning design and
manufacturing records of the aircraft in the accident as well as any records
about its maintenance to legal representatives of families of the injured
before the records disappear.
Mr. Ribbeck said the law firm couldn’t reveal the claim damages because it
needed to consider losses and injuries of each victim.
Besides Mr. Parinyawit, other victims of the One-Two-Go aircraft accident
will also file suit against the Boeing company and other US agencies
The lawsuit might also be filed in Thailand, Mr. Ribbeck said. Whether or
not a lawsuit would be filed against One-Two-Go Airlines depended on the
outcome of the evidence.
“Through our lawsuit we seek to find the real cause of this crash. Our goal
is to avoid similar accidents in the future from happening again”, said Mr.
Business as usual
at Tachilek border crossing
It was business as usual at the Mae Sai-Tachilek border
crossing and Thai authorities confirmed that the border checkpoint in this
province remained open despite the Myanmar regime’s violent crackdown on
popular protests against military rule.
Col. Sompong Chaengchamras, chairman of the Thai-Myanmar Township Border
Committee (TBC) said the Myanmar TBC assured that the Tachilek border
crossing, at the Thai-Myanmar town will remain open.
Both Myanmar and Thai nationals needed to cross the border for trade while
tourists traveling in the northern provinces of Thailand also intended to
visit the bustling Tachilek market in Myanmar.
Myanmar authorities stressed that tourists remained safe in Myanmar’s
Tachilek province, and that the violence being shown elsewhere had not
affected the border area.
Meanwhile, some Myanmar nationals were seen crossing the border to buy
necessities in Thailand’s Mae Sai district as usual, while tourists traveled
from Thailand into Tachilek. TNA
Thai soldiers on alert at border
Thai soldiers stationed along the Thai-Myanmar border at Tak, Mae
Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai have been placed on alert following the
conflict in Myanmar.
In Mae Hong Son, Col. Nopporn Ruengjan, the commander of the 7th Infantry
Special Task Force, said infantry soldiers had been assigned to keep 24
hours watch at several border points in Mae Hong Son including Baan Sao Hin
in Mae Sariang district, Huay Pueng in Muang district and Mae Sarm Laeb in
Tak Governor Chumporn Polrak stated that Tak has adjoining crossings with
Myanmar at five districts. So far, there is no report of intrusions into
Thailand through the Moei River.
Temporary refugee areas have been prepared in case residents of Myanmar
might flee the country and seek humanitarian assistance from Thailand.
Medicines and food are being supplied to support these possible refugees.
Maj. Gen. Wanthip Wongwai, the commander of 1st Cavalry, Pha Muang Task
Force, has also assigned more soldiers at border points in Chiang Rai and
Chiang Mai. “If they enter the Kingdom of Thailand, they will be sent back
to their country but in humanitarian ways. Violence should not be used
against them,” said Maj. Gen. Wanthip.