Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thai court accepts another case against Thaksin


BANGKOK, Thailand: The Thai Supreme Court accepted Wednesday a lawsuit alleging abuse of power by Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister, in connection with a government loan to Myanmar.

It was the fourth case to go to court involving allegations of corruption and abuse of power against Thaksin, who was deposed in a September 2006 military coup.

The first hearing is set for Sept. 16, a court statement said.

The complaint, brought by the Assets Examination Committee, said a 2004 low-interest loan to Myanmar by the state-controlled Export-Import Bank of Thailand was meant to benefit the Shin Satellite company, then owned by Thaksin's family.

Thaksin faces charges of conflict of interest and abuse of power for approving a loan to the company on terms more favorable to the borrower than available commercially, the statement said.


The complaint filed by the anti-graft body alleges that Thaksin used his influence to extend the US$127 million loan in exchange for satellite services and orders of satellite equipment from the company.

The acceptance of the new lawsuit came as prior cases against Thaksin and his allies appeared to be gaining momentum, with a ruling on one expected on Thursday. The Criminal Court is to rule on charges of tax evasion against his wife.

Three other pending cases include conflict of interest and malfeasance charges related to his wife's purchase of a piece of prime Bangkok real estate in 2003. She bought the land from a state agency despite an anti-corruption law barring politicians and their spouses from doing business with government offices.

In another, Thaksin was accused of changing laws to favor his telecom business interests.

On Monday, the court also accepted a lawsuit alleging abuse of power against a group of officials, including Thaksin. The targets of the lawsuit are accused of malfeasance in a 2003 lottery scheme initiated by Thaksin's government.

Thaksin was deposed after months of street demonstrations in Bangkok demanding he step down because of the allegations. He returned to Thailand earlier this year after his political allies in the People's Power Party set up a six-party coalition government.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

U.S. Calls for End of Myanmar For-Ex Rules After UN Admits Losses, UK Joins, France Silent


Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis


UNITED NATIONS, July 29 -- The United States is supporting a call that the Myanmar government eliminate currency "exchange rules and regulations" by which of Cyclone Nargis aid "twenty to twenty five percent was diverted," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told Inner City Press on Tuesday. "I looked into a little of what you said," Ambassador Khalilad began, referring to Inner City Press' reporting since June 26 and questions to him last week and Monday about UN aid losses to government-required currency exchange in Myanmar.

"It's the result of rules and regulations of the Myanmar government," he said, "that a significant portion, 20 to 25%, was diverted... We are looking further into the Myanmar government's diversion of aid." He did not say if the U.S. is pushing for a return of the lost $10 million, but he said clearly that the U.S. supports the call, in which he included the UN, that Myanmar's currency exchange rules and regulations that led to the loss be "eliminated."

Inner City Press also asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Permanent Representative Karen Pierce about the 20 to 25% loss of aid funds in Myanmar, since as she said the UK has sent $92 million there. "It is obviously very concerning," she said. "We're supporting the UN efforts to get this resolved, rather than working through it bilaterally ourselves. We're in close touch with John Holmes' people about this."

U.S. Department of the Treasury Burma Sanctions Update

Recent OFAC Actions:

07/29/2008

The following entities have been added to OFAC's SDN list:

CO-OPERATIVE EXPORT-IMPORT ENTERPRISE (a.k.a. CEIE), 259/263 Bogyoke Aung San Street, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

MYANMAR ECONOMIC CORPORATION (a.k.a. MEC), 74-76 Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

MYANMAR IMPERIAL JADE CO., LTD, 22 Sule Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

MYANMAR RUBY ENTERPRISE CO. LTD. (a.k.a. MYANMAR RUBY ENTERPRISE), 24/26 Sule Pagoda Road, Kyauktada Township, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

MYAWADDY BANK LTD. (a.k.a. MYAWADDY BANK), 24/26 Sule Pagoda Road, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

MYAWADDY TRADING LTD. (a.k.a. MYAWADDY TRADING CO.), 189-191 Maha Bandoola Street, Botataung P.O, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

NO. 1 MINING ENTERPRISE, 90 Kanbe Road, Yankin, Rangoon, Burma [BURMA]

NO. 2 MINING ENTERPRISE, 90 Kanbe Road, Yankin, Rangoon, Burma [BURMA]

NO. 3 MINING ENTERPRISE, 90 Kanbe Road, Yankin, Rangoon, Burma [BURMA]

UNION OF MYANMAR ECONOMIC HOLDINGS LIMITED (a.k.a. MYANMAR ECONOMIC HOLDINGS LIMITED; a.k.a. UMEH; a.k.a. UNION OF MYANMAR ECONOMIC HOLDINGS COMPANY LIMITED), 189-191 Maha Bandoola Road, Botahtaung Township, Yangon, Burma [BURMA]

Friday, July 25, 2008

U.N. Says as Much as 25 Percent of Burma Cyclone Aid Lost Due to Government's Exchange System

07/25/2008 --

As much as 25 percent of cyclone relief aid in Burma (also known as Myanmar) is being lost because of the military government's foreign exchange system, a United Nations official said Friday.

Dan Baker, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Burma, said he is concerned that the losses could upset donors who have already shown a reluctance to fund the relief effort following the May 2-3 cyclone that killed 84,537 people, according to the government.

"This is a big issue. This is a big concern," Baker said. "The donors aren't going to give us money if they know they will (lose) a percentage of that. This is not an issue we can let go by."

Burma requires that foreign aid money be converted first into Foreign Exchange Certificates at a set price and then into the country's national currency, the kyat. The certificates have been worth as much as 25 percent less than the market value of an equivalent number of dollars.

On Friday, a certificate costing $1 was worth 900 kyat while $1 on the open market fetched 1,175 kyat.

The certificates were introduced by the military junta in 1993 to counter a thriving black market and take advantage of a rise in tourism dollars coming into the country. But the black market has remained popular for most citizens because the official exchange rate remains artificially low at about 6 kyat to the dollar.

Baker said the U.N. has taken up the issue with Burma authorities and has argued for the elimination of the certificates.

The push to abandon the certificates comes as the U.N. is pressing nations to donate another $290 million for the Burma relief effort.

The U.N. has raised about $191 million so far following an initial appeal for $201 million in aid. On top of the $10 million shortfall, it says it needs $280 million in additional money for the work of 13 U.N. agencies and 23 non-governmental organizations.

The money is intended to help the 2.4 million survivors who the U.N. says have been seriously affected by the cyclone. More than 100 projects are planned to deliver food, shelter, clean drinking water, sanitation, education and other needs.


UN: Burmese exchange gains on aid 'unsustainable'


United Nations officials on Friday downplayed the extent of foreign exchange losses being accumulated in Burma from a humanitarian aid operation for Cyclone Nargis victims but noted that any loss was "unsustainable."

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who visited Burma Tuesday to Thursday to access international relief operations there, acknowledged Thursday that the government's unique foreign exchange controls were posing a "significant problem."

Under Burma's exchange controls, foreign agencies and companies that bring in dollars to the country must purchase foreign exchange certificates (FECs) at state banks that are then used to buy the kyat currency.

The system has been in places for decades as a means of assuring some hard currencies get into government banks instead of flowing into the ubiquitous black market.

While the FEC and dollar exchange rates in kyat used to be similar, over the past months, the FECs have devaluated up to 20 to 25 per cent against the dollar-kyat rate, meaning a foreign exchange gain is being made by state-run Burmese banks.

"A lot of the assistance we supply would be purchased overseas, so there is no foreign exchange loss on that," said Daniel Baker, the Myanmar-based representative for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance.

Baker said the UN estimated that its exchange rate loss on FECs was small, but any loss was likely to be sensitive, given the regime's pariah status among Western democracies.

"In the long run, it's not sustainable because the donors are not going to give us money if they know they are going to lose a percentage to the government," Baker said at a press conference in Bangkok.

Burma is under economic sanctions by the United States, Canada and most European countries because of its atrocious human rights record and refusal to introduce democratic reforms.

Humanitarian aid to the country is often given on the condition that it bypasses government agencies.

"I think they [government officials] understand the problem, and they are working with us to find some kind of a solution," Holmes said at a press conference Thursday night.

The United Nations earlier this month issued a flash appeal for 480 million dollars in humanitarian aid for about 2 million victims of Cyclone Nargis, which smashed into Burma's central coast on May 2-3, leaving about 140,000 dead or missing.

International efforts to extend aid to victims of the cyclone were initially hampered by the ruling military regime, which imposed bureaucratic obstacles to the inflow of emergency relief and aid workers to the country in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe.

The aid flow was speeded up considerably after the establishment of a tripartite mechanism that included representatives from the Association of South-East Asian Nations, the UN and the Burmese government in early June.

The UN has insisted that all of its relief go directly to the communities in need and is handled by UN staff or the non-governmental organizations with which it cooperates. dpa

Thursday, July 24, 2008

US calls Myanmar's promise of democracy a 'mockery'; Asia-Pacific nations flay junta


By JIM GOMEZ,Associated Press Writer AP - Thursday, July 24

SINGAPORE - The United States blasted the Myanmar junta's oft-repeated promise to democratize as a "kind of mockery" Thursday, while Asia-Pacific countries urged the generals to take bolder steps to meet international demands.


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered a stinging rebuke to Myanmar, also known as Burma, before attending a security conference hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Myanmar is a member of the 10-nation ASEAN, whose foreign ministers meet every year with counterparts from 17 Asia-Pacific countries for the ASEAN Regional Forum.

In comments to reporters before the meeting, Rice noted the ASEAN charter aspires to the rule of law, human rights and the development of more pluralistic political systems.

"Burma is out of step, badly out of step," she said.

The foreign ministers attending the forum were to express their exasperation over the junta's unfulfilled promise to reform under a "roadmap to democracy" and free Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar should "take bolder steps toward a peaceful transition to democracy in the near future," the ministers said in statement, a final draft of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The statement also urged the ruling generals to ensure general elections in 2010 are free and fair.

Rice renewed criticism of Myanmar for initially refusing international help in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in May, when several countries including the United States were "sitting literally offshore" with ships loaded with aid.

"When you have a situation (with) the junta refusing to let people in need be helped, you wonder how can the international community stand by and allow that to happen," she said.

She praised ASEAN for persuading Myanmar to accept help eventually.

ASEAN should find a way to move the country toward political reforms that would "make something of what is right now a kind of mockery, which is this roadmap to democracy which is going nowhere," she said.

ASEAN, which has been taken to task for not doing enough to pressure Myanmar's junta, held back its criticism after Nargis struck, fearing it would complicate efforts to convince the ruling generals to allow the entry of outside aid.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The junta in Myanmar came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy movement. It called elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results when Suu Kyi's party won overwhelmingly.







(သံုးသပ္ခ်က္)
ပီတာေအာင္/ ၂၃ ဇူလိုင္ ၂၀၀၈

နာဂစ္မုန္တိုင္းေၾကာင့္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၌ အေမရိကန္ေဒၚလာ (၄) ဘီလီယံံေက်ာ္ဖိုး ပ်က္ဆီးဆံုး႐ံႈး သြားခဲ့ၿပီး ျပန္လည္ထူေထာင္ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ား ေဆာင္ရြက္ရန္ (၃) ႏွစ္စာအတြက္ ေဒၚလာ (၁) ဘီလီယံ (ေဒၚလာ သန္းတေထာင္) ေက်ာ္ အကူေငြ လိုအပ္ေၾကာင္း ျမန္မာ၊ အာဆီယံႏွင့္ ကုလ သမဂၢ သံုးပြင့္ဆုိင္ ဗဟုိအဖဲြ႕ ပူးတြဲအကဲျဖတ္ခ်က္ အစီရင္ခံစာ (PONJA) ၌ ေရးထားသည္။

ေဒၚလာေငြ သန္းေလးေထာင္ ဆံုး႐ံႈးရသည္ကို ေဒၚလာ သန္းတေထာင္ လိုအပ္သည္ဟု အစီရင္ ခံစာက ခ်ျပသည္ကို ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရ ႀကိဳက္မႀကိဳက္ မသိရေသာ္လည္း ၿပီးခဲ့သည့္ေမလ ႏိုင္ငံ တကာအလႉေငြ ကတိက၀တ္ျပဳသည့္ အစည္းအေ၀းပြဲ၌ စစ္အစိုးရက ေျပာၾကားထားသည့္ ေဒၚလာ ေငြပမာဏ (၁၁) ဘီလီယံထက္စာလွ်င္ စစ္အစိုးရလုိအပ္ခ်က္ႏွင့္ မ်ားစြာကြာဟေနသည္က အမွန္ပင္ ျဖစ္သည္။

လက္ေတြ႕အေျခအေနကုိၾကည့္လ်င္ စစ္အစိုးရလိုအပ္သည့္ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၁,၀၀၀) ရရွိရန္ မဆို ထားႏွင့္ ကုလသမဂၢက တေၾကာ္ေၾကာ္ ေအာ္ဟစ္ေတာင္းခံေနသည့္ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၄၈၀) ေက်ာ္ ရရွိရန္ပင္ မလြယ္သည့္ကိန္း ျဖစ္ေနသည္။

တကယ္တမ္း ရရွိသည့္ေငြမွာ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၁၈၀) ေက်ာ္သာ ရရွိေသးသည္။ အဘယ္ေၾကာင့္ အလႉရွင္ႏိုင္ငံမ်ားက အလႉေငြထည့္၀င္ၾကရန္ လက္တြန္႔ေနၾကသနည္းဟု ေမးလွ်င္ ျမန္မာျပည္ သူလူထုကို ေစတနာမရွိ၍ မဟုတ္ဘဲ စစ္အစိုးရကို အယံုၾကည္မရွိ၍ဟု ေျဖမည့္သူက အမ်ားစု ျဖစ္သည္။

ကယ္ဆယ္ေရး အကူအညီေပးသူမ်ားကို စစ္အစိုးရက လြတ္လပ္စြာ သြားလာကယ္ဆယ္ခြင့္ ေပး မထားဘဲ ခ်ဳပ္ခ်ယ္ကန္႔သတ္ခ်က္ထားမႈ၊ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ အမ်ဳိးမ်ဳိး အဖုံဖုံျဖစ္ေနသည့္ ေငြေၾကး လဲလွယ္ေရးစနစ္ႏွင့္ အတိတ္က လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး ခ်ဳိးေဖာက္မႈ မွတ္တမ္းမ်ားကလည္း အလႉရွင္ မ်ားကို အလႉေငြထည့္၀င္ရန္ လက္တြန္႔ေစသည့္ အေၾကာင္းတရားမ်ားျဖစ္၏။

၁၉၉၁ ခုႏွစ္က ဘဂၤလားေဒ့ရွ္ ေလေဘးအကူအတြက္ အေရးေပၚ အကူအညီ (၁.၈) ဘီလီယံ ႏိုင္ငံတကာကို ေတာင္းခံရာတြင္ ေဒၚလာသန္းအနည္းငယ္သာ ထည့္၀င္ၾကေသာ္လည္း ၁၉၉၁ ပင္လယ္ေကြ႔ စစ္ပြဲအတြက္ အေမရိကန္ ကုန္က်သည့္ (၆၁) ဘီလီယံံ ေက်ာ္ စစ္အသံုးစရိတ္ကိုမူ ကမာၻ႔ႏိုင္ငံမ်ားက ဘီလီယံႏွင့္ ခ်ီ၍ ထည့္၀င္ၾကသည့္ သာဓကလည္း ရွိေနျပန္္သည္။

ယေန႔ ျမန္မာ့နာဂစ္ေဘးအတြက္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာက လံုး၀လ်စ္လ်ဴ႐ႈထားသည္ေတာ့မဟုတ္။ ဂ်ပန္က (၂၁) သန္း၊ ၾသစေၾတးလ်က ေဒၚလာ (၂၉) သန္း အကူထပ္ေပးဦးမည္ဟု ကတိေပးထားၿပီး အေမရိကန္ႏွင့္ ဥေရာပႏိုင္ငံမ်ားကလည္း အထိုက္ေလ်ာက္ ထည့္၀င္ကူညီၾကသည္။ ျမန္မာ့ အိမ္နီးခ်င္း အာဆီယံႏိုင္ငံ (၉) ႏိုင္ငံမွ ကူညီသည့္ေငြမွာမူ အားလံုးေပါင္းမွ ေဒၚလာ (၁၀) သန္းပင္ မျပည့္ဘဲ (၈) သန္းေက်ာ္ေက်ာ္သာရွိသည္။

သံုးပြင့္ဆုိင္ဗဟုိအဖဲြ႕ ခ်ျပထားသည့္ ဆံုး႐ံႈးမႈပမာဏ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၄,၀၀၀) အနက္ ႐ုပ္၀ထၱဳ အေဆာက္အဦႏွင့္ ပစၥည္းပစၥယပိုင္းဆိုင္ရာ ပ်က္စီးမႈတန္ဖိုးသည္ အေမရိကန္ေဒၚလာ သန္း (၁,၇၅၄) ဖုိးျဖစ္ၿပီး အပ်က္အစီးေၾကာင့္ ကုန္ထုတ္လုပ္မႈႏွင့္ ၀န္ေဆာင္မႈအပိုင္းမွ ဆံုး႐ံႈးသည့္ ပမာဏမွာ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၂,၂၆၈) မွ (၂,၃၈၀) သန္းထိ ျဖစ္သည္။

ျပန္လည္တည္ေဆာက္ေရး လိုေငြ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၁,၀၀၀) ေက်ာ္အနက္ က်န္းမာေရးက႑ အတြက္ (၃၄) သန္း၊ ပညာေရးက႑၌ (၁၈၃) သန္း၊ လူေနမႈဘ၀မ်ား ျပန္လည္ထူေထာင္ရန္ (၁၁၈) သန္း၊ ဘာသာေရး အေဆာက္အဦမ်ားအတြက္ (၁၆၂) သန္း၊ အိုးအိမ္အတြက္ (၃၆၂)သန္း၊ လမ္းပန္းဆက္သြယ္ေရး အတြက္ (၅၉) သန္းႏွင့္ စိုက္ပ်ဳိးေရးအတြက္ (၅၁) သန္း စသျဖင့္ လိုအပ္ေနသည္။

ေငြလဲႏႈန္းကို တြက္ခ်က္ရာ၌ ၿပီးခဲ့သည့္ ေမလ မုန္တိုင္းအလႉေငြ ကတိက၀တ္ျပဳသည့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာ အစည္းအေ၀း၌ ျမန္စစ္အစိုးရ အသုံးျပဳခဲ့သည့္ အေမရိကန္ (၁) ေဒၚလာလွ်င္ ျမန္မာက်ပ္ေငြ (၁,၁၀၀) ကိုပင္ သံုးပြင့္ဆိုင္ဗဟိုအဖဲြ႔က အသံုးျပဳထားသည္။

ထိုသို႔ ျပန္လည္ထူေထာင္ေရးအတြက္ ေငြအေျမာက္အျမားလိုအပ္ေနခ်ိန္တြင္ နာဂစ္ေၾကာင့္ တိုင္းျပည္၏ ေငြေဖာင္းပြမႈမွာ (၄၀) ရာႏႈန္းထိတက္သြားႏိုင္ၿပီး ၂၀၀၈ ခုႏွစ္ ျပည္တြင္း အသားတင္ထုတ္လုပ္မႈတန္ဖိုး (ဂ်ီဒီပီ) ၏ (၂.၇) ရာခုိင္ႏႈန္းဆံုး႐ံႈးမည္ဟု သုံးပြင့္ဆုိင္ဗဟုိအဖြဲ႕က ခန္႔မွန္းသျဖင့္ ျမန္မာ့စီးပြားေရးအေျခအေနမွာ လည္း ရတက္မေအးစရာျဖစ္သည္။

သုိ႔ေသာ္ ယမန္ႏွစ္က ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၌ ႏိုင္ငံျခားရင္းႏွီးျမႇဳပ္ႏွံမႈ စြမ္းအင္က႑ တခုတည္းမွ ေဒၚလာ သန္း (၄၇၄) ရရွိထားသည္။ ၿပီးခဲ့သည့္ ၂၀၀၇-၀၈ ဘ႑ာႏွစ္တြင္ အိမ္နီးခ်င္း ထိုင္းႏိုင္ငံသို႔ သဘာ၀ဓာတ္ေငြ႔ တင္ပို႔ေရာင္းခ်မႈမွ အေမရိကန္ေဒၚလာ (၂.၆) ဘီလီယံ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံက ၀င္ေငြ ရရွိထားသည္။

ထို၀င္ေငြ၏ ရာခိုင္ႏႈန္း မည္ေရြ႕မည္မွ်ကို နာဂစ္မုန္တိုင္းဒဏ္ခံရသည့္ ျပည္သူမ်ားႏွင့္ ျပန္လည္ ထူေထာင္ေရးလုပ္ငန္းမ်ားအတြက္ အသံုးျပဳမည္ဟု မသိရွိရေသာ္လည္း စစ္အသံုးစရိတ္ႏွင့္ လာမည့္ ၂၀၁၀ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲတြင္ အႏိုင္ရေရးအတြက္ ျပင္ဆင္သည့္ လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားတြင္ အသံုးျပဳ ဖြယ္ရွိသည္ဟု ယူဆရသည္။
တကယ္တမ္းဆိုလွ်င္ တိုင္းျပည္၏ ၀င္ေငြက ဤေရြ႕ဤမွ်ရွိသည္။ အရန္ေငြအင္အားက မည္မွ်ရွိ သည္။ နာဂစ္ေဘးအကူ လိုအပ္သည့္ေငြ မည္မွ်ရွိသည္။ အစိုးရကျဖင့္ မည္မွ်တတ္ႏိုင္သည္။ လိုေနသည့္ ေငြပမာဏမွာ အဘယ္မွ်ရွိသည္ဟု စစ္အစိုးရဘက္က ပြင့္ပြင့္လင္းလင္း ျပည္သူကုိ ခ်ျပထုိက္၏။ သို႔ေသာ္ တစုံတရာ ရွင္းျပျခင္း မရွိခဲ့ေပ။

ျပည္သူလူထုက ခ်စ္ခင္ေလးစားသည့္ အစိုးရတရပ္ဆိုလွ်င္ လိုအပ္ေနသည့္ေငြကို လူထုက
ထည့္၀င္ၾကမည္မွာ ယံုမွားသံသယျဖစ္စရာမရွိ။ လူတဦး (၁) ေဒၚလာ ထည့္၀င္လွ်င္ပင္ လူဦးေရ သန္း (၅၀) ေက်ာ္ရွိသည့္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၌ ေဒၚလာသန္း (၅၀) ေက်ာ္ ရႏိုင္သည္။ ပ်မ္းမွ် တေယာက္ (၁၀) ေဒၚလာထည့္ႏိုင္လွ်င္ သန္း (၅၀၀) ေက်ာ္ထိ ရရွိႏိုင္သည္။ ႏိုင္ငံတကာ အကူႏွင့္ေပါင္းပါက ယခုျပန္လည္ထူေထာင္ေရးလုပ္ငန္းအတြက္ လုိအပ္ေနသည့္ ေငြပမာဏ ရႏိုင္ေခ်ရွိသည္။

သို႔ရာတြင္ ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရကို တိုင္းသူျပည္သားကလည္း အယံုအၾကည္မရွိ၊ ေငြသာလာပါ လူ မလာပါႏွင့္ ဆိုထားသျဖင့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာကလည္း အယံုအၾကည္ကင္းမဲ့ၿပီး ရက္ရက္ေရာေရာ အလႉေငြ ထည့္သင့္သေလာက္ မထည့္ၾကသျဖင့္ ၾကားက နာဂစ္မုန္တိုင္းေဘးသင့္ ျပည္သူ ငထြားတို႔ခမ်ာ ခါးနာၾကရမည့္ကိန္းသာ ဆုိက္မည့္ကိန္း ျဖစ္ေနသည္။ ။

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AP/ ၂၃ ဇူလုိင္ ၂၀၀၈

ႏိုင္ငံတကာ ကူညီေငြ အေမရိကန္ေဒၚလာ သန္း (၁) ေထာင္ ထပ္မံမရရွိပါက ဆိုင္ကလုန္း နာဂစ္ ေဘးမွ အသက္ရွင္က်န္ရစ္သူမ်ားအေနျဖင့္ ဒုတိယေျမာက္ အေရးေပၚအေျခအေနႏွင့္ ရင္ဆိုင္ၾက ရမည္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ယခုလ (၂၁) ရက္ထုတ္ ပထမဆံုးအႀကိမ္ သဘာ၀ေဘး အကဲျဖတ္ခ်က္ အစီ ရင္ခံစာ (PONJA) က ေဖာ္ျပသည္။

မုန္တိုင္းေၾကာင့္ ဧရာ၀တီတုိင္းႏွင့္ ရန္ကုန္တိုင္းအတြင္း လမ္းပန္းဆက္သြယ္ေရးႏွင့္ ပုိင္ဆုိင္မႈ တန္ဖိုး ဆုံး႐ႈံးမႈ ပမာဏမွာ ေဒၚလာ (၁.၇) ဘီလီယံႏွင့္ ထုတ္လုပ္မႈပုိင္းဆုိင္ရာ ဆံုး႐ႈံးမႈ ေဒၚလာ (၂.၃) ဘီလီယံရွိၿပီး စုစုေပါင္း ေဒၚလာ သန္း (၄) ေထာင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးသည္ဟု အစီရင္ခံစာ၌ တြက္ျပ ထားသည္။ ယင္းသို႔ စာရင္းဇယားမ်ားျဖင့္ က်ားကန္ေဖာ္ျပထားေသာ္လည္း သဘာ၀ေဘး အႏၲရာယ္အေပၚ ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရ၏ တုံ႔ျပန္မႈ ေႏွးေကြးခဲ့ျခင္းကိုမူ တစြန္းတပါဒမွ် အစီရင္ခံစာတြင္ ေဖာ္ျပထားျခင္း မရွိခဲ့ေပ။

အကယ္၍ ေဘးအႏၲရာယ္ကို လ်င္ျမန္စြာ တုံ႔ျပန္ခဲ့ပါက အသက္ေပါင္းမ်ားစြာ ကယ္တင္ႏိုင္ခဲ့မည္ဟု စစ္အစိုးရအေနျဖင့္ ခံစားရျခင္းရွိမရွိ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ႀကီး ဦးဥာဏ္၀င္းအား ေအပီသတင္း ေထာက္တဦးက ေမးျမန္းခဲ့ရာ စင္ကာပူ၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ ေဂ်ာ့ခ်္ ယိုးက “ႏိုင္ငံေရးေမးခြန္း” ဆိုၿပီး ပယ္ခ်ခဲ့သည္။
နာဂစ္ဆိုင္ကလုန္း က်ေရာက္ၿပီး ပထမသီတင္းပတ္အတြင္း အေလာင္းမ်ား ေရထဲေမ်ာပါေန ေၾကာင္း သတင္းမ်ား ထြက္ေပၚခ်ိန္တြင္ ျမန္မာစစ္သားမ်ား၏ တုံ႔ျပန္မႈ တစံုတရာမွ် မေတြ႔ရွိရသျဖင့္ ကမာၻတ၀န္းရွိ ျပည္သူမ်ားအေနျဖင့္ အံၾသတုန္လႈပ္ခဲ့ၾကရသည္။

ထို႔အျပင္ ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရက ႏိုင္ငံတကာအကူအညီမ်ားကိုလည္း ေႏွးေကြးစြာ လက္ခံခဲ့သည္ သာမက မုန္တိုင္းဒဏ္ျပင္းထန္စြာ ခံရေသာ ေဒသမ်ားသို႔ သြားေရာက္ကူညီလိုသူ ကယ္ဆယ္ေရး လုပ္သားမ်ားကိုလည္း ကိုယ္ထိလက္ေရာက္ တားဆီးမႈမ်ား ျပဳလုပ္ခဲ့သည္။

ႏိုင္ငံတကာအစိုးရမ်ားကလည္း ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရ၏ ဂ႐ုမမူ ေႏွးေကြးသည့္တုံ႔ျပန္မႈအေပၚ ျပင္းထန္ စြာ ေ၀ဖန္ခဲ့ၾကသကဲ့သို႔ စစ္ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားအား အကူအညီမ်ား ရယူရန္ ေဖ်ာင္းဖ်ေျပာဆိုခဲ့ ၾကသည္။ ။

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rice urges ASEAN to push Myanmar to reform


SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Southeast Asian nations on Wednesday to put more pressure on Myanmar's junta to improve human rights and adopt democratic reforms.

Speaking after meeting foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, Rice said ASEAN especially needs to push Myanmar to release political prisoners, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We believe that ASEAN has an important role to play in addressing the root cause of Burma's grave problems -- the repression of Burma's democracy movement," Rice said.

"It was in the interest of ASEAN and the people of Burma to persuade Myanmar's leaders to free political prisoners and to open up a dialogue with the democracy movement," she added.

ASEAN foreign ministers, frustrated after years of fruitless overtures to Myanmar to reform, expressed "deep disappointment" in a statement on Sunday that the ruling generals had extended Suu Kyi's house arrest.

They called for her release and that of other political detainees "as part of Myanmar's National Reconciliation process."

That was the first time ASEAN had ever specifically mentioned Suu Kyi in one of its communiques, diplomats said.

Myanmar is testing ASEAN's coherence as the group ratifies a charter that would turn it into a rules-based, EU-style bloc.

Included in the charter would be a human rights body that could possibly be empowered to monitor and investigate human rights violations.

The body, whose terms of reference are still being hammered out, has generated great debate within ASEAN, particularly from Myanmar, which sees an empowered body as possibly transgressing one of ASEAN's cardinal principles -- non-interference in members' internal affairs, diplomats said.

Rice said the best way for ASEAN to become stronger was to expand democracy and the rule of law among its members.

ASEAN's members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(Reporting by Sue Plemming; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Paul Tait)

Australia gives $30m to Burma


July 23, 2008 06:20am
Article from: AAP


AUSTRALIA has boosted its funding to Cyclone Nargis-ravaged Burma by $30 million, the Government has announced.

The increase brings Australia's total contribution to $55 million, making it one of the largest individual donors, a statement from the office of Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith said.

The United Nations says Nargis left 138,000 people dead or missing and another 2.4 million vulnerable to disease, hunger and lack of shelter and medical treatment. Assistance has so far only reached 1.3 million in the worst affected areas.

The boost in funding will go towards getting food, clean drinking water, health, sanitation, education services and shelter to those in greatest need - particularly women and children and those displaced by the disaster.

It will also offer support to early agricultural recovery activities after the loss of crops, livestock and fisheries.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

U.S. Department of the Treasury Burma Sanctions Update

OFAC has posted on its Web site Amended General License Number 14 , under its Burmese Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 537. This general license extends the authorization period of Amended General License No. 14, which was issued on May 9, 2008, by an additional period of 120 days. Amended General License No. 14-A is set to expire on January 4, 2009. Aside from this change in expiration date, the terms of the general license remain unchanged.



OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL
Burmese Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 537


UPDATE: On May 9, 2008, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Amended General License No. 14, effective for a period of 120 days (until Sept. 6, 2008). OFAC now is amending this Amended General License to extend its authorization for an additional period of 120 days (until Jan. 4, 2009) and is reissuing it as Amended General License No. 14-A.

Amended General License No. 14-A
Certain financial transactions in support of humanitarian or religious activities in Burma authorized.

Effective May 9, 2008, the exportation and reexportation of financial services to Burma not otherwise authorized by 31 C.F.R. § 537.518 and in support of not-for-profit humanitarian or religious activities in Burma are authorized for a period of 240 days [until Jan. 4, 2009], provided that:

(a) The exportation or reexportation is not, directly or indirectly, to the Government of Burma; and

(b) The exportation or reexportation is not to or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 537.201(a), Executive Order 13448 of October 18, 2007 (72 FR 60223, October 23, 2007), or Executive Order 13464 of April 30, 2008 (73 FR 24491, May 2, 2008).

Note to Amended General License No. 14-A: Please note that all other transactions otherwise prohibited by 31 C.F.R. §§ 537.201 and 537.202 that are ordinarily incident to an exportation to Burma of goods, technology or services, other than financial services, are authorized pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 537.518, subject to certain conditions.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thai FM Noppadon resigns



Burmese Military Dictators' Supporter Thai FM Noppadon Resigns


Thailand's foreign minister said Monday he hoped Myanmar's upcoming referendum on a new constitution would be "credible", on the eve of a visit by the country's prime minister.


Noppadon Pattama said the neighbours may discuss the referendum, which Myanmar's military rulers say will pave the way for elections in 2010, during General Thein Sein's visit.

"The democracy process could be brought up at the talks as Thailand wants the May 10 referendum to be successful and credible," Noppadon told reporters.

"We want to see Myanmar on a good development track."

(BangkokPost.com)

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama resigned to show his spirit on Thursday - but said defiantly that events will show that he and the ministry staff handled the Preah Vihear temple issue perfectly.

"Time will prove that I and the Foreign Ministry have done what is right. I am not a nation-seller. I am as patriotic as all Thai people. I have not caused damage to the country," he said.

Earlier, the Democrats began a process to impeach Mr Noppadon in parliament. It was not clear if that effort would be dropped in light of the resignation.

Out on the street, core leader Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang of the People's Alliance for Democracy demanded the entire government resign. The minister may have quit to take responsibility but the whole cabinet was to blame, he said.

Mr Noppadon quit just hours after he returned from Canada, where he attended the meeting of Unesco which approved Cambodia's application to declare Preah Vihear temple a World Heritage Site. While he was absent, on Tuesday, the Constitution Court ruled that he had violated the constitution by signing a joint communique backing the Cambodian government without first submitting the document to parliament for approval.

"Although I didn't do anything wrong, I would like to show my spirit and take responsibility by stepping down from foreign minister post," he said at a press conference held at mid-afternoon on Thursday, and broadcast nationwide on Army TV Channel 5.

The resignation takes effect on Monday.

He was not humbled by events. He insisted he did done the right thing by supporting the Cambodian application. He respected the Constitution Court's verdict but felt the entire issue was debatable.

He insisted he did not cause Thailand to lose sovereignty over the disputed area around the temple: "I did not sell the country and did not cause any damage to it."

The only thing he was truly sorry for, he said, was that the issue had been used to instigate conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, and to wrongfully arouse nationalistic sentiments in the country.

He also got in criticism of his more radical opponents, saying they had even harassed his sister at her home in Nakhon Ratchasima.

"I am resigning to show my spirit," he said, "so that the government can concentrate on solving people’s problems."

He had indirect support from Army commander Anupong Paojinda, who said that he felt the only way to face any problems with Cambodia over the temple issue was through peaceful negotiatons.

He rejected calls by nationalists to oust Cambodian vendors in the disputed area around the actual temple, on the grounds that it is Thai territory. He said the area is in dispute, and legal and international relations mechanisms should be used. There are better ways to deal with the problem than simply to use armed force against the Cambodians.

In parliament on Thursday morning, opposition whip Sathit Wongnongtoey began formal impeachment proceedings against Mr Noppadol by handing a letter to Senate Speaker Prasobsuk Boondech.

Mr Sathit said Mr Noppadon had violated the constitution, and "shoulc have used his common sense in considering how much his own actions affected society," he said.

That was before Mr Noppadon resigned, and it was not known if the Democrats will continue to press the issue. Probably they will; Mr Sathit said he plans to seek the removal of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej for the same violation of Article 190 of the constitution.

At the Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge, Day 47 of the PAD demonstration was under way, and Maj-Gen Chamlong seemed happy.

The rally will continue indefinitely, he said. He called Mr Noppadon's resignation just one of 17 political victories by the protesters, and he said they will not stop before the government is brought down.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sons of 1962 and future of Burma's political freedom

By May Ng
Tuesday, 08 July 2008 11:04

The Burmese Army grabbed political power in a coup on 2 March 1962; and Burma again lost its political freedom 14 years after independence, to the native military dictatorship instead of a foreign colonial power.

Within a few months, in a move to crush the students protest against the army takeover the Burmese military dynamited the Rangoon University Student Union building on 7 July 1962. And from the beginning the military dictators proved to be more ruthless and destructive than the foreign invaders.

During the 1962 crackdown, the army generals were no doubt confident that the last of students' rebellion has been extinguished, for good. But 26 years later, Ko Min Ko Naing and Ko Moe Thee Zun who were born in 1962, like many others in their generation, became student leaders of the 1988 uprising. The number of student protesters exploded from a few hundreds in 1962 to hundreds of thousands in 1988.

Ko Moe Thee Zun, the student leader in exile said that, in 1988 the military did not expect the student rebels to survive the harsh and difficult conditions in the opposition camps. But like the Karen, Shan and other ethnic organizations that came before them, after decades of trials and errors, the student organization led by Ko Moe Thee Zun has also matured into one more challenger to the junta's rule.

While the military's credibility as the saviour of the nation and protector of the people has diminished, the students' political commitment has earned respect and credibility. It became evident when the 2007 fuel price protest led by the '88 student leaders escalated into a full blown Saffron uprising last fall.

While the military generals are increasingly isolated in their citadel; according to Ko Moe Thee Zun, the difficulties experienced by the students in the jungles, since 1988 have helped Burman majority urban-elites gain greater understanding of the ethnic political movement. An invaluable common bond and respect has also been forged among the students and ethnic political oppositions to help shape durable peace in Burma, later.

The ethnic armed rebels, who were perceived to have been more concerned with the ethnic right of self determination instead of aiming for a larger political change, are finally evolving into more politically correct organizations after decades of violent conflicts with the military regime in Burma. The surviving armed rebels are no longer tainted with drug trafficking or political and ideological confusion. Their aim for a genuine democratic change, and, their support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the legacy of her father, has never been clearer.

China which claims to be rising peacefully has nevertheless unilaterally supported the military dictatorship in Burma. China's support for the Burmese regime has been devastating for the armed resistance in Burma.

However, since the end of the Vietnam War, long before the war in Iraq, armed conflicts alone no longer determine the political future of a country. After the cold war, many nations gained democracy through mass protests and peaceful political uprising, in places where civil wars have already ended.

The enormous military apparatus in Burma is a threat mostly to the military junta which has to feed and support such an enormous and costly apparatus that do not contribute to the wellbeing of the rulers or the citizens of Burma.

There is no need for such a large army even just to suppress the urban dissidents or the armed rebels. It is only for the psychological need of the generals. And it reflects the operational inefficiency of the Burmese military.

The end result of such great inadequacy is calculated to be in billions of dollars of losses for Burma. Within weeks after the Tsunami in December of 2004, the storm relief efforts received two and a half billion dollars worth of pledges from around the world. The United States alone provided 90 helicopters involving military assistance with 12,600 personnel and 21 ships, immediately after the storm.

Whether the people in Irrawaddy delta are barely surviving or not, Burma can certainly use such great outside humanitarian assistance.

Not only the regime's inability to overcome the distrust of outside powers, the military's inability to convince the world's of its sincerity toward helping its own people has also cost Burma dearly, by earning less than two hundred million dollars worth of pledges for a disaster as overwhelming as Tsunami of 2004.

The military's violent crackdown on peaceful monks and the regime's intentional neglect of Cyclone Nargis victims, have sparked a renewed call to bring the Myanmar government before the International Criminal Court, for committing crimes against humanity.

In addition, the UN Security Council has recently passed a resolution, condemning rape as "a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide," while the Burmese Army continues to use rape as a weapon of war against the ethnic minority.

It has been shown that the enormous private wealth can no longer protect the world's tyrants from prosecutions for the crimes they have committed. Jean-Pierre Bemba who is accused of committing atrocities in the Central African Republic in 2002, and the former Liberian president Charles Taylor who begins to stand trial in front of a special tribunal in The Hague for alleged war crimes in Sierra Leone, will join two former Khmer Rouge, ministers Ieng Sary, and his wife, Ieng Thirith who are being charged with war crimes and crime against humanity for their alleged role in Cambodia's 1970s genocide.

Aung San Suu Kyi has often said that politics is everyone's business and people should overcome fear to involve themselves in politics. Hillary Clinton said last January during her bid for presidency that, "some of us put ourselves out there against pretty difficult odds because we care about our country."

The Burmese struggle for democracy has come of age like the student leaders. For Burma to be able to move closer towards its democratic goal, the political, economic and military elite will all have to shed fear and come forward to bear their share of responsibility.

Burmese people can no longer sit back and play the role of virtuous sages. Blaming the military dictatorship founded by a postal clerk, and sustained by illiterate generals and their business cronies; is no longer sufficient. People should begin to take their own fate into their hands, instead of blaming others.

Kishmore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore wrote that Western principles of democracy, the rule of law, and social justice are among the world's best bets. And he continued that the world does not need to invent any new principles to improve global governance; the concept of domestic good governance can and should be applied to the international community.

And even if the above concept of democracy were written in an Asian language other than English, its fundamental value will not be lost to the people of Burma. The belief in democracy and freedom is fully supported by the Burmese Buddhist tradition as well.

Ashin Gambira the famous monk leader said in March, 2008 that, if the people no longer want to live under the cruel military dictatorship they will have to speak up and protest. Unless they resist the military rule with courage, absolute military power will continue indefinitely.

As Aung San Suu Kyi warned after the military crackdown on the monks last September, the Burmese people can no longer sit around and simply hope for the best. They must all begin preparing for the worst to come until the end of military tyranny in Burma.

The recent Cyclone Nargis in the Irrawaddy delta has proven that the downtrodden people of Burma can still take care off themselves even with minimal outside help, and will manage to survive. There is no longer doubt if they have the power to change their future. The people of Burma can and must work together to end the military dictatorship. No one else can do it for them.

May Ng is from the Southern Shan State of Burma and NY regional director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma.





Friday, July 4, 2008

Chevron's dilemma over its stake in Myanmar


Friday, July 4, 2008

(07-04) 16:00 PDT Washington - --

Ever since Myanmar's leaders engaged in a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests last fall, Congress has pushed to tighten sanctions against the country's ruling generals. And that's put Chevron Corp., the largest U.S. investor in that country, in the crosshairs.

The San Ramon-based energy giant has a 28 percent stake in the Yadana natural gas field and pipeline, which feeds Asia's growing energy appetite but also helps prop up Myanmar's regime. In December, the House passed a bill by the late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, that would have revoked a tax benefit for Chevron to pressure the company to divest from Myanmar, also known as Burma.

"This legislation will turn off a huge cash spigot for the thuggish Burmese regime," Lantos said last year.

But Chevron now appears to have caught a break: As House and Senate negotiators put the final touches on the Burma Democracy Promotion Act, their aides and human rights groups say they plan to drop the provision, which was not in the Senate version of the bill. The legislation will instead focus on slashing the regime's revenue from its trade in gemstones and timber and establishing a new position of U.S. envoy for Myanmar.

In place of the House-passed Chevron measure, lawmakers are pushing compromise language that would encourage Chevron to voluntarily divest from Myanmar. It would be a slap on the wrist from Congress, one unlikely to sway Chevron executives.

The battle over the Chevron provision has been the last sticking point to passing a bill that has broad support on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers of both parties were shocked by the scenes of monks being beaten in the streets of Yangon. The regime's refusal to accept foreign aid after a deadly cyclone in May only reinforced the efforts to put the squeeze on the ruling junta.

A divisive provision

But the provision affecting Chevron has split lawmakers and even divided some human rights groups. The crux of the issue: Would the action against a U.S. oil company have any impact on the regime?

The measure by Lantos, who died of esophageal cancer in February, sought to pressure Chevron by revoking its ability to deduct from its U.S. taxes the tax payments it makes to Myanmar's regime as part of the Yadana project. The goal was to make it more costly for the firm to do business with Myanmar. Congress used the same tactic in the 1980s to battle apartheid in South Africa, and some U.S companies divested.

But Chevron is only a minority stakeholder in the Yadana project, which is managed by France's Total, which holds a 31 percent stake, along with Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, a state entity, and the Petroleum Authority of Thailand.

Chevron's position

Chevron officials have argued that if it was forced to sell its stake, China, India or another energy-hungry nation would gobble it up, with revenues flowing unimpeded to Myanmar's military leaders.

"It's pretty clear that this is a very attractive asset and other people would be interested," Chevron's Vice Chairman Peter Robertson told The Chronicle last year.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Howard Berman, D-Los Angeles, has been pushing Lantos' bill, arguing that Chevron should not benefit from a tax deduction for its payments to a repressive regime.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a lead sponsor of a 2003 bill that set stiff sanctions against Myanmar, has taken an opposite view. In a recent interview with Politico, she warned that forcing Chevron to divest could be counterproductive. "Other countries are going to take it over and, most particularly, the Burmese government will take it over. So what is gained by doing this?" she said.

Compromise in works

Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber said this week that the senator has not been actively involved in the negotiations, but she backs the compromise that's likely to be announced soon. The bill "will strengthen and expand existing sanctions against Burma," he said.

The issue has relevance to the presidential race. The GOP's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, introduced an even tougher bill last fall that would have forced Chevron to divest from Myanmar. But the Senate coalesced around a different bill, sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden, D-Del., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., which did not include the Chevron provision.

Jennifer Quigley, who's been lobbying the bill for the U.S. Campaign for Burma, said leaving the House's Chevron tax provision in would likely have doomed chances to get a bill through the Senate this year. Her group was more worried about winning other key provisions, including a crackdown on imports of Myanmar rubies and jade into the United States, which could cost the regime hundreds of millions in revenue each year.

"Some people wanted to take a stand on Chevron. Other people said let's just get this through," Quigley said. "For us, we want the bill. It's very nice to take a stand, but for us what is most important is getting rid of this regime. Priority No. 1 is how to get legislation that is most effective at targeting the regime."

Quigley said the final bill is also likely to include language to help reduce illegal imports of wood products from Myanmar, especially teak, another key source of income for the junta.

Main revenue source

Still, natural gas remains the Yangon government's chief source of revenue, totaling about 45 percent of its $8.7 billion in declared exports in 2007. Despite U.S. and European Union sanctions, the regime has been able to cut lucrative energy deals with its neighbors, including Thailand, China, South Korea, Malaysia and India.

Chevron acquired its stake in the Yadana and Sein offshore gas fields in the Andaman Sea when it bought its rival Unocal in 2005. Congress banned new investments by U.S. companies in Myanmar starting in 1997, but Unocal's ownership stake was grandfathered in because its venture began in 1993.

Marco Simons, legal director for EarthRights International, which has been critical of Chevron over human rights abuses linked to the Yadana pipeline, said he agrees that it's unlikely that forcing Chevron to divest would hurt the regime.

"The fact of the matter is whether Chevron is there or not, those dollars are still going to flow to the generals as long as Thailand is still paying the bills (for the natural gas) and the banks are still processing the payments," Simons said. "It may send a signal that the United States is taking democracy in Burma more seriously, but it's not going deprive them of any money, which is really what these projects are all about for the regime."

E-mail Zachary Coile at zcoile@sfchronicle.com.