Tuesday, 21 May 2013 13:36 BFL
We have several upcoming events in Chiang Mai to let you know about, but first we'd like to share details about a very important campaign...
As many of you know, the staff and volunteers of The Best Friend Library in Chiang Mai have worked incredibly hard over the past four years to sustain our programs with small donations and the slight profits received from selling our fundraising items. We are now ready to launch our first-ever, large-scale fundraising campaign, and we need your help to make it a success!
We firmly believe The Best Friend continues to play essential role in working for continued positive change in Burma. Not only does the large migrant and refugee population remaining in Thailand continue to depend on and benefit from our education and social welfare projects, but our libraries continue to be important centers for an increasing number of members of the international community. In addition, we are extremely excited about the potential of our new Green Training Program and library in Shan State, Burma.
The aim of our ambitious fundraising campaign is to secure the future of our programs, keep our classes, workshops, and awareness-raising events free-of-charge for all, expand our 'Compassionate Care' projects for migrants and refugees experiencing extraordinary difficulties, and build our Green Training Program. We are attempting to raise a total of $20,000 U.S. (600,000 baht). The campaign will run through the end of June 2013, and has several components, including a great new video about our projects, a gala fundraising evening in Chiang Mai, a fundraiser in Mae Sot, and an online Indiegogo campaign.
Here's how you can help...
- visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/burma-library to learn more and make a donation. Check out all of the perks that we are offering for supporters!
- purchase a ticket for our big 'Burma in the Spotlight' gala evening in Chiang Mai on 1 June
- contribute online: just visit www.paypal.com and send a donation to email@example.com with a note indicating your contribution is for our Chiang Mai/Shan State campaign
- contribute in person: stop by our library in Chiang Mai any time to donate, or bring a donation to one of our upcoming events
- SPREAD THE WORD -- share the links to our Indiegogo campaign page and our new video with all of your friends and colleagues! Send an email to all of your contacts with a note about how important you believe our projects are! Start an office pool to help The Best Friend Library. Follow our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with Burma news and project updates!
In the early days of this campaign, something incredibly important that you can help us with is building momentum and raising awareness. This absolutely does not require a large financial contribution on your part -- even a small donation on our Indiegogo page shows others that we have lots of supporters who believe in our work. Sharing the links and asking your friends to learn more about The Best Friend and consider supporting us may take a few minutes of your time, but no money at all!
Every single donation, no matter the amount, will do much to encourage us and further our cause. All proceeds raised from this campaign will go directly towards helping with The Best Friend's modest operating expenses, staff salaries (all Westerners working with the library are volunteers; three staff members from Burma receive remuneration), and various 'extra' costs, such as new, high-quality learning resources for our students, new materials for our libraries' collections, and coordinating timely and informative community events.
This campaign continues for the next 44 days, and and we will be sending periodic updates about how everything is going. As of today, we have raised 2.5% of our total goal from four donors; let's work together to have that number increase to 25% from dozens of supporters in the next week! Please help!
'Surviving: Living on a Rubbish Dump', Thursday 23 May, 2–4 p.m. @ Chiang Mai University (free)
In Mae Sot, six hours south of Chiang Mai, hundreds of migrants from Burma have been surviving for years on a large rubbish dump. They have fled decades of turmoil in their own country, and now struggle in a makeshift community of their own creation with access to few services.
Fred Stockwell, founder of the small non-profit organization Eyes to Burma, will join us at Chiang Mai University to discuss what is driving these people to the dump, what is happening, and what can be done. Eyes to Burma is one of the very few organizations working directly on the dump, and has done much to gain the trust of the people living there in the past five years, including opening a community center and clinic. Come to learn more about Eyes to Burma's powerful work.
This presentation and discussion will start at 2 p.m. on Thursday 23 May at Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Social Sciences Building 4 in the First Floor Meeting Room 4107. This presentation is free and open to the public.
'Life Amidst the Rubbish: Hour-by-Hour with a Burmese Migrant Community' photography exhibition, 21 May–12 June, Pongnoi Community Art Space, Chiang Mai (free)
'Life Amidst the Rubbish' is a chronological, hour-by-hour window into the daily life of Burmese refugees living on a rubbish dump located on the outskirts of Mae Sot, Thailand, a stone's throw from the Burmese border.
There are at times more than 30 families residing there. Seemingly abandoned by the larger society, they ironically have few alternatives to living off of the material waste created by a consumer culture. Living conditions there are bleak, to say the least. Minimal access to basic needs such as healthy food and medical facilities – as well as the constant breathing of toxic fumes – is resulting in widespread illnesses, sometimes death.
The fundamental purpose of this exhibition is to cultivate awareness, of course. It is also about demonstrating the beauty, dignity, honor and diligent strength of human beings who have been rendered sociologically marginalized – existing downstream from an ever-growing, worldwide culture of capitalist consumerism.
Join photojournalist Jeffrey Warner at the opening of the exhibition on Tuesday 21 May starting at 6:45 p.m. at Pongnoi Community Art Space off Suthep Road in Chiang Mai. The exhibit will run through 12 June and is free and open to the public.
'Burma in the Spotlight: Gala Charity Dinner and Dance', Saturday 1 June, 5:30–11 p.m. @ Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Chiang Mai
We have already shared the details about this very special gala evening in support of The Best Friend Library, which will include an expansive Burmese buffet dinner, live music, cultural performances from Burma, great door prizes, and so much more. We have been so fortunate to receive tremendous support and backing from many in the community, and we are thrilled that tickets are now 65% sold!!
If you will be in Chiang Mai on Saturday 1 June, you definitely won't want to miss this great evening! To avoid disappointment, you can purchase your tickets (850 baht each; discounts for tables of 10 for current library members) now at the following outlets:
- The Best Friend Burmese Library, 302/2 Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai
- Rimping Supermarkets in Chiang Mai (all branches, at customer service desks)
- The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Chiang Mai – reception desk
- Hillside Condo 4, Huay Kaew Road, Chiang Mai – reception desk
More details here, and join the Facebook Event here.
We sincerely hope that you do not mind our asking for your assistance at this time. The simple truth is, we need your help at this time to be able to continue supporting migrants and refugees from Burma and to serve non-Burmese who are interested in learning more at our libraries and public events.
Stay tuned to www.thebestfriend.org and facebook.com/burmalibrary for all the information, and please visit our libraries often. Hope to see you soon!
Don't forget to check out www.indiegogo.com/projects/burma-library also!
all of us at The Best Friend Library
Garrett KostinThe Best Friend Library – Chiang Mai
www.thebestfriend.org • www.facebook.com/BurmaLibrary
Tuesday, 21 May 2013 13:11 KP
“Democratic political system reinstated in the country is still in its early infancy. Most people lack even basic knowledge about what the principle of democracy is. That is why I have been saying ‘PR system is not suited for the country’. But I am not saying for the lowland people who speak and use Burmese as daily language”, said Sai Ai Pao, who is also Minister for Shan State Ministry of Mines.
It has been reported that when the next parliamentary session is called, the current Myanmar government may legislate the PR system, some MPs have been quoted as saying.
Sai Ai Pao reasons that: “United Kingdom, France and Germany have been democratic countries for more than a half century. We are just at starting point. We even have very little experience of running elections. That is why I am in favor to go with the PR system. We can’t accept it at least for the time being.”
Proportional Representation or PR, he explained, is a system in which electoral vote is distributed in ratio. For instance, in an election, there are 5 political parties with 10 candidates. Say, an A party won 50% of electoral vote, the other 2 parties: B and C won 30% and 20% respectively. In this example, A has won 50% of electoral vote which legitimizes it to elect 5 MPs; while B 30% with 3 MPs and C 20% with 2 MPs have to be elected accordingly.
The SNDP, also known by its party symbol “White Tiger”, is reportedly recruiting young educated people, 5 in each townships where its party is active and enrolled its candidates to compete with other political parties in 2015 general elections.
Friday, 17 May 2013 14:37 S.H.A.N.
Guatemala, a Latin American country neighboring the better known Mexico, is in many ways similar to Burma, according to a Spanish academic from The Netherlands based International Institute of Social Studies.
- 24 peoples speaking 24 languages
- 6 armed movements fighting against the central government
- 36 years of armed struggle which recorded 250,000 killed and 50,000 disappeared, prompting the UN to accuse the rulers of practicing genocide
- 1 million IDPs
- The peace process lasted 10 years (1987-1996) when 20 agreements were signed between the two sides
“The armed movements had formed an alliance, the Guatemalan National Unity, to negotiate with the government,” Alberto Alonso Fradejas told listeners from Burma who were meeting in Chiangmai. “And although the agreements were signed only by the government and the rebel alliance, lots of civil society organizations had participated from the outside to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion.”
The agreements signed include:
- The creation of a National Reconciliation Commission (1987)
- Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights (1994)
- Resettlement of displaced population (1994)
- Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (1995)
- Definitive Ceasefire Agreement (1996)
While Burma’s peace process began with ceasefire agreements, Guatemala’s had ended with one. “The two sides fought while they talked,” he explained. “Each thought it would get a better deal by getting the better of the other in the battlefield.”
Burma’s peace process began on 19 September 2011 when the nominally civilian government of U Thein Sein invited the country’s armed groups, more than 20 of them, some of which have been fighting since 1948.
To date, 13 ceasefire agreements have been signed, but the Burma Army is still waging war against 3 major movements: Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) that has yet to sign a ceasefire and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) both of which have signed ceasefires.
Friday, 17 May 2013 15:02 KP
During the shootout, 2 policemen and a man died at the spot, and 3 others sustained injuries. It is not known as to who the culprit behind the incident, as no one claims responsibility. But the Panhsay militia could have been involved in the attack, said some locals.
“Police were on duty for security on the highway in which logging trucks owned by Panhsay militia were passing through. The shootout took place after negotiations between police and militia failed to reach agreement. Another shooting incident also occurred at a Shwe gas pipeline project site. Although no one has claimed responsibility, people say it could have been the same group as in the first incident. They want to make it look as if a certain armed group has done so,” said local news sources in Namkham.
“The incident site is on a highway passing through Namkham from Mankawn to the Chinese border; this highway is used to smuggle logs to China owned by the Panhsay militia group,” said another local man from Namkham.
“According to some eye-witnesses it was the Panhsay militia men that started the shooting. A moment ago, there was negotiation for a deal for using the highway as logging trade between police and the militia men which lasted for 5 minutes. The shooting incident took place as the deal could not be reached. The Panhsay exports the logs using this highway. The police force are collecting taxes from a betel shop on Wipula Road. The Panhsay militia men do this logging business. U Kyaw Myint, leader of the Panhsay People’s Militia Force (PMF) and Shan State Assembly MP, and his brother Kyaw Htwe are the bosses in the business. All the log produced from Mankwan are monopolized by the two brothers,” said another local news sources.
At the shooting incident, Sai Sar Aung, a brother of an MP, People’s Assembly, died and policemen Aung Myint, Pha Aung and Matan suffered injuries.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:32 Mawn
Among those released is the village headman of Paeksaem village; Piang Luang Tract, Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai Province called Manas (40 year old). Paeksaem is one of the villages under the Royal Project of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
On May 12, a group of 16 Lisu led by Manas went hunting around Mae Tang stream. But they accidently trespassed into Myanmar and encountered with the soldiers from UWSA’s 171st Military Region. Because 6 of the Lisu carried six guns, Wa soldiers suspected had kept them under detention.
On April 13, the UWSA set 10 of them who don’t have guns free and told those people to bring Thai authorities to come to guarantee if they want the rest of the people back.
Therefore, on April 14, Thai authorities went there to guarantee them and on April 15 the UWSA set all of them together with their guns free.
Local sources say relations between the UWSA and the Burma Army is tense. The Wa are also planting landmines everywhere. Travelers and merchants who have to pass border should be careful.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 10:51 S.H.A.N.
“They have been set up to ward off such incidents and both sides should make use of them,” he told SHAN. “Unfortunately, the Burma Army has rarely taken full advantage of them.”
The two sides have engaged in more than 50 clashes, not counting those with the Burma Army-run People’s Militia Forces (PMFs), since the ceasefire was signed on 2 December 2011, according to the movement’s spokesmen.
The RCSS/SSA has 6 liaison offices throughout Shan State:
- Taunggyi Headquarters of Eastern Region Command, Burma Army
- Kholam Headquarters of Central Eastern Region Command, Burma Army
- Kengtung Headquarters of Triangle Region Command, Burma Army
- Muse Near Lashio, Headquarters of Northeastern Region Command, Burma Army
- Monghsat Headquarters of Military Operations Command # 14, Burma Army
- Tachilek Thai-Burmese border
Muse is the district seat of Muse. Namkham is one of the its three townships. The two towns are only 19 miles (31 km) from each other.
The latest fighting on the Sino-Burmese border in Namkham township was due to the SSA’s territorial expansion, forcible recruitment and collection of illegal tax, charged the military-owned Myawady newspaper on Sunday, 12 May 2013.
The RCSS/SSA has categorically rejected the accusation. “We have taken action on the drug trade and launched a treatment program for young drug users,” said Yawd Serk. “These activities, though supported by the local populace, had run counter to the drug syndicates and their allies in the government.”
The Panhsay PMF, lead by MP Kyaw Myint aka Li Yongqiang, based in Namkham township, is a well known drug producer in the area. He is reportedly well connected to the military.
The RCSS/SSA leader also pointed out that it was high time peace monitors, agreed by the two sides on 19 May 2012 to be set up by July 2012, becomes a reality. U Aung Min, Naypyitaw’s chief negotiator, however had put off the program saying regulations for peace monitors was still being drafted.
Dr Sai Ohn Kyaw, MP, People’s Assembly, Namkham township, deplored the fighting that had displaced more than a thousand people. “We don’t want war,” he said. “This is the age where we settle our differences and seek solutions to our problems at the table.”
Thursday, 16 May 2013 10:12 KP
The storm first hit the Kunhing Township on 30 April, then 10 and 12 May, altogether 3 times which swept a total of 75 houses, said local news sources from Kunhing.
“Since early May to second week, the storm hit 3 times. Some hundreds of houses from Kali, Kenglom and Kengkham tracts were damaged or destroyed by the storm. Among them 75 houses including 3 monasteries and 2 government schools were completely destroyed. Until now, we have not seen any humanitarian organization coming to give assistance to the victims. People are suffering from shortage of water and medical supplies. As the rainy season is approaching, there are no makeshifts camp built for the refugees yet. We request donors from all corners to support the people who have been devastated the natural disaster,” Sai Herng, a school teacher from Kunhing urged.
The storm has left 1 dead and 18 injured, according to locals in Kunhing.
The storm reportedly swept through many villages including Wolong, Hoyan, Hona, Nakawn, Wanlao, Nale, Namon, and Hsaikhao in Kenglom tract and some villages from Kali Sub-township in which many suffered.
Although Nang Wa Nu, an MP from Kunhing has requested the Shan State government to support the victims, no any humanitarian aid has come so far, said a Buddhist monk.
The same Buddhist monk added: any kind of donation or support from far and near are welcome Donations can be made through Shan Herald Agency for News:
Bank: Siam Commercial Bank Public Company Limited
Account No: 402-387907-6
BigC Hangdong Branch
Chiang Mai, Thailand
+66 (81) 531 2837
+66(85) 717 4906