Some good news has come out of Burma.
Soldiers Back Down in Mandalay
Letter 'reveals dissent in Burmese army'
by Matthew Weaver and Mark Tra, The Guardian (UK), September 27, 2007
Yangon, Myanmar -- Some Burmese troops have declared their support for the Buddhist monks who have led mass protests in the first apparent sign of disaffection in the army, exiled Burmese sources said today
And the Buddhist Channel is covering all news stories on what is happening in the country as the military junta shuts down all communications, internet and cell phone connections with the outside world.
To enforce their regime of censorship they have killed a journalist. Sends a message.
At least 10 people have been killed in two days of violence in the country's largest cities, including a Japanese cameraman who was shot when soldiers with automatic rifles fired into crowds demanding an end to 45 years of military rule.
Thu 27 Sep 2007
From Ko Htike Blog
Dear All,Good idea here is an online petition with over 166,000 signatures!!!
I sadly announce that the Burmese military junta has cut off the internet connection throughout the country. I therefore would not be able to feed in pictures of the brutality by the brutal Burmese military junta.
I will also try my best to feed in their demonic appetite of fear and paranoia by posting any pictures that I receive though other means (Journos!! please don’t ask me what other means would be??). I will continue to live with the motto that “if there is a will there is a way”.
We probably need to lobby the Chinese government or UN envoy to Burma to ask the junta to switch on the Internet. Please!
To Chinese President Hu Jintao and the UN Security Council:
We stand alongside the citizens of Burma in their peaceful protests. We urge you to oppose a violent crackdown on the demonstrators, and to support genuine reconciliation and democracy in Burma. We pledge to hold you accountable for any further bloodshed.
Democracy, democracy, no it is oil, oil in Myanmar
Myanmar is one of the world's oldest oil producers, exporting its first barrel in 1853. Rangoon Oil Company, the first foreign oil company to drill in the country, was created in 1871. Between 1886 and 1963, the country's oil industry was dominated by Burmah Oil Company (BOC), which discovered the Ychaugyaung field in 1887 and the Chauk field in 1902. Both are still in production.
China is Burma's biggest oil and gas partner. But Burma also has partners in oil and gas with France (Total), South Korea (Daewoo), India, Thailand in partnership with Oman and Malaysia. And with Unocal, the American company China wanted to buy, and who once had Hamid Karzai as a director.
We noted two years ago that oil deals were lubricating the India-Burma rapprochement, which resulted in a brutal crackdown on ethnic guerillas seeking independence from India, who had theretofore been using Burmese territory as a staging area.
The US firm Unocal recently had its own interests in construction of a pipeline across Burma to Thailand. In 2004, Unocal settled in a case brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act charging the company was complicit with forced labor and other rights abuses by the Burmese regime. (Radio Free Asia, Dec. 18, 2004) In 2005, Unocal's French partner Total agreed to compensate victims to the tune of 6 million euros ($7.2 million), paid into a fund for humanitarian projects. (EarthRights International, Nov. 29, 2005) The Yadana pipeline is functioning today—and being protested by global ecologists for its impacts on the sensitive rainforest regions it cuts through. (Qatar Gulf Times, Sept. 4, 2007)But now that Burma is integrating with India—which is, in turn, seeking a new gas pipeline with Iran—the Rangoon junta has manifestly outlived its usefulness to the US elites.
Protests should be aimed at these countries and their companies as well.
Maybe George Bush could lecture his allies on their principles.
In 2007, nine foreign oil companies (Myanmar Petroleum Resources Ltd, Focus Energy Ltd, Westburne, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China National Petrochemical Corporation, Sinopec, Essar, Goldpetrol and a representative of the Kalmik republic) are involved in 16 onshore blocks to explore new areas (EP blocks), to enhance recovery from existing fields (IOR blocks), to reactivate fields where production has been suspended (RFS blocks) and to produce (PSCs).
For the offshore area, Total, Petronas Carigali Myanmar, Daewoo, PTT-EP, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China National Petrochemical Corporation, Essar, Gail and Rimbunam (Malaysia) are exploring and/or developing 29 blocks
South Korea's Daewoo International Corp (047050.KS: Quote), which leads a multi-billion dollar energy project in Myanmar, will not alter its investments there following a violent government crackdown on protests, the company said on Friday.
Daewoo operates Myanmar's large A-1 and A-3 natural gas fields, South Korea's largest overseas energy project, which hold 4.53-7.74 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable reserves.
"We have gas fields under production and three other fields under exploration, which are all long-time investments. They can't be easily changed because of domestic issues," said Cho Sang-hyun, spokesman for Daewoo International.
"Politics is politics. Economics is economics."
In December, South Korean prosecutors charged 14 defense industry executives, including some from Daewoo International, with illegally exporting to Myanmar equipment and technology for making tens of thousands of artillery rounds.
Unlike Daewoo, Total is already aware of its vulnerable position as it has a whole website devoted to its Burma operations. About how important it is that they invest in Burma so as to improve human rights in the country.
Despite international condemnation of the Myanmarese government, competition for oil and gas will likely limit pressure on it from China and others in the region.
"A humanitarian catastrophe might shift Chinese behavior, but right now Beijing probably believes that access to Burma's energy potential and its strategic location still outweigh the political costs," said Roberto M. Herrera-Lim, an Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group in Washington.
Total and Unocal (now Chevron) made headlines in 1996 when Myanmarese nationals brought a case against Unocal for human-rights violations related to the Yadana Project, in the Gulf of Martaban. Cases were also brought against Total.
Both companies maintain interests in Myanmar.
"Total's decision to stay in Myanmar, unlike a number of Western companies that have withdrawn, was a deliberate choice, but it does not signal approval of any regime. Rather, it expresses the Group's deep-seated belief that economic development and human-rights progress go hand in hand," stated Total on the company Web site.
Complicating interests further, the Yadana Project now provides Thailand with one-third of its gas, according to Herrera-Lim. And gas, in turn, fires the plants that generate approximately 70 percent of Thailand's electricity.
Like the human rights of this foreign worker from Singapore who was attacked by Burmese military forces.
Below is an actual of what had happen yesterday on 27/9/07.
I am a Singaporean working in Myanmar for the past 11 years. I was on my way to office( near Thuwana area) at around 4 to 4.30pm when the riot police block the road near "Super one, ILBC area". I stop my car with my wife and walk out. suddenly riot police and soldiers drove the truck around the corner and start firing shots at the crowd. we quickly ran to the side and squat down near the wall.
The soldiers came down and start to shoot at us. I was shot twice but i did not know what hit me. My both leg were bruised. the soldiers and police kicked us and the rest of the crowds into the drain and shouted that they would kill us if we look at them.
We were forced to stay in the drain for 15 mins and gather by the into a group.
A commander came and gather his troops and drove off to Tamwe direction.
After that ,i looked at my injures and and found injures on my left and right legs.
My wife found the "40mm riot control munnition" empty cartridge that the soldiers shoot at me.
I would like the embassy and media to know the actions of this army.
We are just ordinary citizen going to work and they just shot at us for no reason.
Imagine what they would do to the protesters!
I would like the Singapore government would make a strong stand against this violence crack down on the monks and people.
attached is the photo of my injures .
I have been attended by a private doctor on my injures.
The doctor said i was very lucky that the shot missed the groin area.
Another blogger from Singapore writes; The World Is Responding ... ... At Last
The current protest movement needs to be put in context. It first arose from public protests over increased prices, and from a long term assault being made by the Military City on the Hill against the people of Burma.
Shoot on Sight
The Ongoing Military Junta Offensive Against Civilians in Eastern Burma
Background: Since August 19, 2007 there has been a series of peaceful protests across Burma as monks, activists and ordinary citizens challenge misrule and repression.
Meanwhile, in eastern Burma, a 45-year catastrophe has reached one of its worst moments, as the country's military junta escalates its attacks against the area's ethnic minorities. The government's efforts to assert control over ethnic border areas have emptied over 3,000 villages in a decade, an average of almost one village each day over the past ten years. The forces of Burma's military junta, the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), are mortaring villages, looting and burning homes to the ground, and destroying crops in an effort to obliterate the livelihoods of rural communities. Burmese soldiers are ordered to shoot civilians on sight.
The military leadership moved Myanmar's capital
(more...)upcountry to a construction site in a jungle town of Naypyitaw, 385 kilometers (240 miles) north of Yangon, in late 2005. Government employees were given no warning and were expected to relocate with their families immediately.
The reasons for the sudden move are not clear. Some say the military was paranoid after the United States invaded Iraq, while others blame astrological forecasts. Another theory is the junta is following the example of former Burmese kings who liked to move capitals to mark a new era.
The jungle city now has half a dozen hotels, which were fully booked by diplomats and other people attending the ceremony. Access to the city is still limited -- there are only three flights a week from Yangon, while the journey by car takes seven hours along a two-lane highway.
Western journalists reported Myanmar's new seat of government to be eerily quiet, with dusty hills dominating the horizon and few people on the city's eight-lane highways.
"It's bizarre," a senior Western diplomat in Yangon, who asked not to be identified, told DER SPIEGEL last year
(more...). "It wasn't designed to be a workable city. It was designed to isolate. ... This is a country that's trying to close itself in."
Myanmar's generals build their 'Xanadu'
By Larry Jagan
BANGKOK - For months Yangon has been rife with rumors that the country's military rulers were planning to retreat to the hills in central Myanmar for fear of a foreign invasion from the sea.
But according to the blueprints for the new military complex, it is actually going to replace the inland port city of Yangon, with its famed shimmering pagodas, as the country's capital.
"This is typical of [military ruler] Than Shwe's pretensions to be the new Burmese monarch. Like the Burmese kings who ruled before him he is building a new palace-capital for posterity," said Thailand-based senior Myanmar analyst Win Min.
But according to diplomats and government officials in Yangon, the real reason for the relocation inland to Pyinmana, 400 kilometers to the north, is for safety from possible outside intervention.
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