Charles Petrie, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations to Burma, has
been expelled from Burma by the military government in a move that reflects the
juntas displeasure with Petries comments in support of the peaceful
demonstrations that followed the sudden hike in fuel prices in Burma in
Referring on October 24 to the popular uprising as an urgent necessity to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation, Petrie appeared to be taking sides with the opposition, after years of UN silence on the political situation in Burma.
Petrie was, in fact, viewed by the opposition groups inside the country as the UN official closest to the regime. He often spoke positively about the Burmese governments cooperation in the activities of the UN agencies and was careful to not to criticize the regime in public.
Petrie tactically nurtured a positive image with the regime, believing it was important to accomplish his mission during his term in Burma. He knew well that closeness with the opposition groups, including the National League for Democracy, would undermine his position.
Despite ever-increasing government interference in the activities of UN agencies and international non-government organizations, Petrie continued to send messages to international donors that there were signs of progress in the implementation of humanitarian projects in the country.
Eventually, Petrie couldnt tone down his statements any further and was forced to acknowledge a joint statement by thirteen NGOs on October 18 declaring that the humanitarian space for organizations to operate is frequently at risk.
After former UN Special Envoy, Razali Ismail, gave up on the Than Shwe government in January 2006, Petrie started to play a facilitating role between the regime and the NLD under the advice of then UN Under Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, facilitating Gambaris first three-day trip to Burma in May 2006.
At that time, Petrie explained his role to The Irrawaddy: Regarding my role in Myanmar [Burma], it is that of coordinator of the UN systems development and humanitarian activities in the country. My role as the UN coordinator also entails the facilitation and support of the other efforts in which the UN is engaged.
Balancing a controversial stance between the regime and the opposition groups, Petrie felt he could no longer be silent on the humanitarian situation in the country and wrote a confidential report to the UN in April 2007 in which he explicitly criticized the juntas uncompromising attitude, not o¬nly towards the NLD and the democracy movement, but towards the ethnic parties and ceasefire groups.
This confidential report was leaked to the media, including The Irrawaddy, and was reported on June 29, 2007.
From this moment, the Burmese regimes attitude turned sour on Charles Petrie. His decision not to attend former Prime Minister Soe Wins funeral was perhaps another factor that gave weight to the regimes decision to expel him, although he did sign Soe Wins memorial book.
Petrie is not the first (and will surely not be the last) UN official that the regime snubs or refuses to cooperate with. Razali Ismail also experienced the juntas continuous contempt, eventual leading to his resignation.
The next question is how long will Ibrahim Gambari last?
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the expulsion of Charles Petrie a disappointment and instructed Gambari to convey his views directly to the authorities.
The expulsion of Petrie directly challenges the position of the UN in Burma. Whether the UN can continue to play a crucial role in the national reconciliation between Aung San Suu Kyi and the regime is highly questionable.
Forbes: Sat 3 Nov 2007
Few images capture the ugliness of Myanmars recent military crackdown quite
like the photos of a Buddhist monks mud-covered corpse displayed in a slide
show on the Web site of the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Burmese advocacy group
based in Norway. The outraged messages posted in response show the Webs power
to connect supporters around the world with the long-suffering citizens of an
isolated and repressed country.
Unfortunately, practically no one in Myanmar will see the site. Thats because the military juntas squelching of protests extends deep into cyberspace: During the violence that killed dozens of protestors in recent weeks, Myanmars Internet was cut off from the outside world. In its aftermath, Burmese Web users have only three or four hours of access a day, according to a spokesman at Reporters Without Borders. Even then, government censors block most Web sites, sift through e-mails, and even take frequent screen shots of users computers in cyber-cafés.
Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, is just one of more than 50 countries around the world that keep their citizens from seeing pieces of the Internet. China attempts to block all online references to sensitive issues like Taiwanese independence and the Tiananmen Square protest. Censors in Iran block almost all content on dating and homosexuality.
Starting with a list of these Internet Enemies, as defined by Reporters Without Borders, and ordering them with data collected by the OpenNet Initiativea consortium of universities that performs in-country testing on Internet filtersMyanmar places fourth in a ranking of Internet censoring regimes, behind Iran, China and Tunisia.
But the Myanmar governments recent Internet shutdown offers researchers a unique perspective: Myanmars war on the Web put all the countrys powers of censorship into action, testing just how dictatorships limitand fail to limitcommunication in a world of increasingly digital dissidents.
The fact that Myanmars total blackout lasted only a week, for instance, gives hope to John Palfrey, a professor at Harvard Law Schools Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The countrys ruling junta, which controls its only Internet service provider, couldnt simply leave the Internet off without blocking its own communication, hampering the countrys economy, and making Myanmar look like even more of a pariah to the world, he argues.
If Burma cant do without the Internet, neither can larger, more wired countries: Iran has about 60 times Myanmars number of servers connecting it to the Internet at large, by the CIAs count. China has about 100,000 times as many. Shutting down these countries networks would be far more disruptive.
The Internet is becoming so tied up with economic and social concernsparticularly for a new generation of digital natives, people who have grown up onlinethat it would be nearly impossible in most places in the world to get rid of access altogether, Palfrey says. That means even if China or Iran faced a Burmese-style uprising, those countries would likely resort to selective filtering of political information rather than a complete shutdown.
But filters, argues security guru Bruce Schneier, are full of holes. Even in China, where a massive array of firewalls known as the Golden Shield inspects the contents of all Internet data moving into and out of the country, activists still find ways to spread their messages online.
Tricks include writing politically sensitive words in code or distributing messages via audio podcasts, which cant be caught by text filters. For browsing forbidden parts of the Web, users employ programs like Tor and Psiphon to access proxy servers that disguise Web information by routing it through foreign countries.
Schneier says filters dont work for the same reasons Net security is such a challenge. Companies cant even stop their employees from looking at porn in the office, he says. So how could a country control what its entire population does on the Web?
Selective Web filtering certainly didnt prevent Burmese dissidents from spreading their message. In the days leading up to the crackdown, bloggers and Facebook groups chronicled the unrest. Despite some of the most pervasive Web filtering in the world, photo and video evidence of the mounting violence was posted to sites like Yahoos Flickr and YouTube.
Tala Dowlatshahi of Reporters Without Borders says those smuggled dispatches helped prevent the kind of mass slaughter that occurred in Myanmar in 1988, when as many as 4,000 students were killed in protests. If you juxtapose the situation then, when everyone was totally cut off, with now, you see that the Internet was really what kept the international community involved and documented what was happening, she says.
But if governments cant control the Net, they may co-opt it. Researchers like Palfrey and Schneier warn that rather than filter or block the Web, governments are increasingly using online surveillance to silently track dissident activity. In China, the government may even force the private sector to cooperate: One Chinese journalist was imprisoned with a 10 year sentence in 2005 after Yahoo! released details about his e-mail correspondence.
In this cat-and-mouse game between political activists and censors, the Internet will serve both sides, says John Palfrey. I would put big money on the ability of activists to use the Net to rout around censorship, he says. But states are also turning to the network as a way to snoop and keep tabs on people.
That means the power of the network for spreading contraband political messages will come at a price, says Bruce Schneier. There will always be people who get their message out, but some will be sloppy, and some will get caught, he warns. The mice will win in the end. But in the meantime, the cats will be well fed.
Cry, beloved Burma - U Gambira and Ashin
Project Syndicate via Cyprus Mail: Sat 3 Nov 2007
Religious orders of monks have been the face of Burma ever since Buddhism was introduced here more than 1,000 years ago. For a monk to involve himself in politics or to hold a political post is contrary to the ethical code of Theravada Buddhism. But in Burma today, this spiritual philosophy, rooted in compassion and non-violence, has assumed unexpected dimensions of defiance and recalcitrance, as monks challenge the hegemony of the military junta that rules our country.
We are both Burmese Buddhist monks a leader of the All Burma Sangha Coalition that led the recent protests, and a scholar teaching in the United States. One of us is in hiding today, because Burmas military government met the peaceful protests of our Buddhist brothers and sisters with violence and brutality.
Many monks and nuns have been abused and beaten, and thousands who have been arrested endure continued brutality. More than 1,000 are missing, and many are presumed dead.
A few weeks ago, Burmas monks began to march and pray and spread loving
kindness in an effort to solve our nations problems peacefully. Burma is a
country rich in natural resources, but its people are poor. When the government
suddenly and capriciously increased the price of fuel by as much as 500 per cent
overnight, everyone was affected and made even more desperate.
As monks, we believe in alleviating suffering wherever we see it, as part of the vows we have taken. We could not ignore our peoples suffering. We formed the Sangha Coalition when we saw that the countrys monks were united.
Those of us who are studying and teaching abroad share this unity, and have rallied to the support of those of us in Burma. And it is not only the monks who are united. When we started our peaceful marches for change, students, youth, intellectuals, and ordinary people joined us in the streets, in the rain.
We thought that we could appeal to some, if not all, of the generals Buddhists themselves who control our country to join us in trying to right the many ills befalling Burma. At first, we tried to show our displeasure with military rule by refusing to receive alms from them. We turned our begging bowls upside down as a gesture of our feelings. We have not lost our loving kindness towards ordinary soldiers, nor even towards the leaders who ordered them to brutalise their own people, but we wanted to urge them to change while there was still time.
We know that some people in the army and organisations close to the regime have been reluctant to use violence against the monks. We want to tell the people who are violent towards their own countrymen to stop and think whether their actions are in accordance with the dharma, whether they are acting for the good of Burmas people. Some of the soldiers who were ordered to beat us and to stop us from marching actually refused to do so, because they understood the truth of what we were doing.
We hoped to create a way out for the military leaders, a way to start a real dialogue with the peoples leaders and the leaders of ethnic groups, for the unity of the nation. But that hope was short-lived. The regime is now hunting down those who participated in the demonstrations and committing unspeakable acts of violence.
They have attacked monasteries and arrested monks and nuns by force. Guards are everywhere, on all the streets, around the pagodas and residential areas. Wounded demonstrators are reported to have been buried alive in mass graves, and there are confirmed reports of bodies washing ashore in the waterways near Yangon (Rangoon). The regime is brutalising the Burmese people, and lying to the world about its actions.
Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan, a representative of the military, recently told UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari that the marchers in the streets were bogus monks. But we are genuine, and thousands of us from Rangoon, Mandalay, Pegu, Arakan, Magwe, and Sagaing demonstrated for peace.
Some have said that the uprising in Burma is over. That is what the junta wants the world to think. But we believe that the protests represent the beginning of the end of military rule in our country. The generals who ordered the crackdown are assaulting not only Burmas people, but also their own hearts, souls, and spiritual beliefs. The monks are the preservers of dharma; by attacking them, the generals attack Buddhism itself.
We know that the international community is trying to help us, but we need that help to be more effective. We thank the many people and organisations abroad who are helping us regain the rights denied to us for more than 40 years. But we also appeal to the international community to make its actions practical and effective.
The military government will do anything to remain in power, and their violent acts must be exposed to the world. They may control the streets and monasteries, but they will never be able to control our hearts and our determination.
* U Gambira is the pseudonym of one of the leaders of the All Burma Sangha Coalition; Ashin Nayaka is founder of the Buddhist Missionary Society and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University
Democratic Voice of Burma: Sat 3 Nov 2007
The All Burma Students Democratic Front vowed yesterday to continue with its
armed struggle to bring democracy to Burma, during celebrations for the groups
The ABSDFs celebrations were held yesterday in a location along the Thai-Burma border and were attended by about 200 Burmese democracy activists.
The groups leader Than Khe said during his speech at the event that the group is planning to increase its activities in support of the democracy movement in Burma, and urged people inside the country not to give up.
The ABSDF will increase its activities from all sides to help people of Burma in their fight for democracy, said Than Khe.
I strongly believe we should fight against the government both politically and with armed force. We promise play our role by continuing our [armed] fight against the junta.
Irrawaddy : Sat 3 Nov 2007
The September uprising and on-going crisis in Burma will perhaps prove to be a turning point in modern Burmese political history, if we nurture and cultivate the events in the direction that we all desirethe birth of a democratic and prosperous Burma.
As a witness to the carnage in 1988, I was impressed to see the peaceful gathering of Buddhist monks in September and then appalled to report on the brutal and systematic crackdown on Buddhist monks and the people.
As a student activist, I was on the streets in Rangoon in 1988 and spent time in one of Burmas gulags. Nineteen years later I found myself as a journalist reporting on another uprising. But there were some striking differences between the two events.
In 1988, the uprising started with bloodshed and ended in more blood. This time, it started with a peaceful gathering and ended with bloody suppression.
In 1988, the political landscape was also different. The international community and human rights watch dogs were still figuring out where Burma was located. Burmas neighbors readily exploited its natural resources and protected the generals with a constructive engagement policy. China stepped in and the status quo of the regime was preserved.
This time, the peaceful demonstrations and the killings caught world attention. International and exiled media played a key role in highlighting news from Burma.
This time, Burmas neighbors joined the condemnation and expressed revulsion at what was going on in Rangoon and elsewhere. Singapores statesman Lee Kuan Yew called Burmese leaders rather dumb in handling the economy and said the regime wouldnt survive indefinitely.
The UN and Western nations acted promptly, and on this occasion China, the regimes major ally, could not veto a presidential statement on Burma released by the UN Security Council.
Although world reaction and condemnation were swift they are still not enough. We need more than official rhetoric if change is to occur in Burma. Unlike 1988, the regime was going strong both financially and diplomatically. There were few threats to the lifeline of the generals and the regime.
The US has imposed new sanctions on Burma, it is true, and the cronies who are close to the ruling generals are feeling the heat. But Burmas neighbors remain unmoved, apart from issuing one statement of revulsion.
The regime is cleverly exploiting the differences among the nations in the region. Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his hard-line generals still think they can hide behind China and Asean nations while manipulating the roles of the UN and its special envoy. As Burmas main economic partners, China, India, Thailand and its Asean partners hold the key to a Burma solution.
The UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, went to Burma and was taken on a tour of the northern part of the country before being admitted to a meeting with the generals, who still feel they can afford to ignore international criticism.
The regime continues its crackdown while claiming to have restored normalcy. It has also stepped up its diplomatic offensive by appointing a liaison minister for contacts between detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the regime.
Thats an advance on past practice, when liaison officers merely fixed the air-conditioning and the television reception at Suu Kyis lakeside house, not daring to report back to their boss how impressed they were to meet The Lady. Who was going to be fooled now by the appointment of a liaison officer?
It is understandable, therefore, that the regimes actions after the crackdown were met with skepticism and questions about the regimes honesty.
Fundamental changes have undeniably occurred since the September crackdown. It is impossible to put everything back in the box. Burmas oldest Buddhist institution has been the victim of violent oppression, and it will be difficult to restore confidence and trust.
But, worryingly, news on Burma is slipping from the front page of the worlds press, and time is again on the regimes side. Monks and others arrested in the demonstrations remain in detention centers and prisons, while a manhunt is underway for key activists.
A terror campaign has the whole country in its grip. Depression, despair, fear and uncertainty govern the lives of those Burmese who want to see change in their country.
It is of the utmost importance now to keep the Burma issue alive and maintain the momentum, creating space for the Burmese people.
As long as Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his cronies feel they have no need to worry about tomorrow, they are unlikely to make political concessions. As soon as they realize the regime is not sustainable, we will start to see change in Burma.
The big question is: who will make sure the regime can no longer live in a state of denial? Who will pull the plug and make clear to the regime that it cant survive?
In an emergency, the right diagnosis and prescription are imperative. If a patient needs open heart surgery, antibiotics arent going to help.
So, this is the best chance and best time for change in Burma, provided a strong political will exists. A democratic Burma is not in doubtits only a question of how and when.
Scoop Independent News: Sat 3 Nov 2007
In the past month, amid the flurry of reports and commentary in international media about the events in Burma, a disturbing theme has emerged among some media commentators. Ranging from the Asia Times and the South China Morning Post to a collection of skeptical Western bloggers, they make the claim that various Washington DC-based agencies and a few key political actors are actually pulling the strings in the Burmese uprising.
The rationale behind this foreign interference, as it has been termed by both the Burmese and Chinese governments, has been given as (take your pick): interests in oil and/or gas reserves, heroin, methamphetamines, geopolitical advantage, and power projection by the United States. While I am among the first to question the motives of the American administration when it comes to foreign policy, I find these claims absurdly cynical to the point of being delusional.
To wit: in an article that appeared in the Asia Times on October 18, 2007 titled The Geopolitical Stakes of the Saffron Revolution, the author states that Myanmars Saffron Revolution, like the various color revolutions instigated in recent years against strategic states surrounding Russia, is a well-orchestrated exercise in Washington-run regime change. The author then goes on to cite the role of the NED, George Soross OSI, Freedom House, The Albert Einstein Institutes Gene Sharp, retired Colonel Bob Helvey, the Serbs involved in the nonviolent overthrow of Milosevic, or some combination of the above, as the puppet-masters in the series of events in Burma over the past two months.
These statements, which amount to nothing more than conspiracy theories supported by a cherry-picking of mostly unrelated factoids about links between the NLD and US actors, are both irresponsible and potentially dangerous. In fact, when it comes to the mostly well-meaning leftist bloggers, these claims signal that those who should be most encouraged by mass displays of civilian resistance to tyranny may have bought into the propaganda of the Burmese junta and its backers in China. Thus, those who should know better (many of the progressive web sites who have reported on these theories) are actually doing the movement in Burma a great disservice by strengthening the hand of the junta there, and potentially undermining the momentum of the resistance. As Stephen Zunes notes in an essay published on the Asia Times web site in early August (in response to similar claims made about Iran), many self-identified progressives who promote these conspiracy theories ironically strengthen the argument of US neo-conservatives that only military force from the outside - and not non-violent struggle by the people themselves - is capable of freeing [Burma] from repressive rule.
If we have learned any lessons from the past century about how real democratization comes about, it is that the most effective and enduring means of long-term change is through broad-based nonviolent indigenous coalitions. The list of examples is long, but includes countries from every region of the world, including such divergent places as the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Chile, Mali and Lebanon.
The first misconception in the conspiracy theories stems from the coincidence that in the Burma case, US foreign policy and the interests of the Burmese movement are the same on at least one point: Both entities would like to see an end to military rule in that country. This does not, however, constitute proof the Bush administration is behind the uprising. One of the key criteria for the success of broad-based nonviolent resistance is that it be indigenous. And if the thesis that nonviolent struggle was simply another method for the projection of US power, how do these conspiracy theorists explain the successes of broad-based civilian movements in places like Chile (where the US had supported Pinochet) and the Philippines (whose ousted dictator Marcos had been a close friend of Ronald Reagan)? Are these cases simply anomalies?
By the same token, NED and OSIs support for the resistance in Burma has been common knowledge for decades. However, according to leadership inside the country, this support has primarily taken the form of the sharing of generalized knowledge in the field of nonviolent action (a body of cases and scholarship available to anyone who takes the initiative to investigate it). The actual struggle in Burma - the strategizing, the implementation of tactics, and perhaps most importantly, the will actively to resist injustice - are at the volition of the Burmese people, just as they should be.
Another misconception comes from a degree of ignorance about how nonviolent struggle works. To claim nonviolent protests of the scale we witnessed in late September in Burma can be manufactured abroad is to grossly overestimate the influence of US agents and agencies. How could US agencies organize broad-based protests and manage to get hundreds of thousands to maintain nonviolent discipline half a world away, while these same agencies have, for 50 years, been unable to remove the now 81-year-old, and reportedly invalid, Fidel Castro from his perch only 90 miles from the US border and with a population one-fifth the size of Burmas? These kinds of claims show contempt for what the people of Burma are doing, which is to assert control of their own destiny. They have had enough of repression, fear and poverty. This is their struggle, and they deserve, like all people who are struggling for justice, respect for having sovereignty over their own lives and credit for their courage and sacrifice in the face of oppression.
One of the key concerns on the part of many of those perpetuating this propaganda is US agencies are responsible for the bloodshed of the past month because they are the instigators of the uprising. Setting aside the fact no one has produced any actual evidence for this, it is critical to remember the responsibility for repressive bloodletting always lies in the hands of the oppressors, not those who are fighting the injustice. In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. (who was accused of provoking violence against the civil rights movement by encouraging non-cooperation with the unjust system of racism) wrote to his accusers You assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isnt this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. A few years later, in reflecting on the success of the Nashville sit-ins, one of the members of the civil rights movement there noted, You cannot wait for someone else to do it, you cannot wait for government to do it, you must make it happen, through your own efforts and action and vision. Regardless of our ideological lenses or propensity for (sometimes justified) suspicion, we have both an individual and collective responsibility - as humans and citizens of a global world - to acknowledge that now in Burma thousands are living up this sentiment. To question the Burmese peoples authorship of their own struggle serves the interests of a brutal dictatorship, and risks undermining global support for what is, at its heart and its force, an indigenous peoples movement.
* Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science and international studies at the State University of New York at Brockport, and is on the academic advisory committee of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
Mizzima News: Sat 3 Nov 2007
The Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has extended a $60 million line
of credit to Burmas Foreign Trade Bank to finance the Thahtay Chaung hydropower
project in western Burma.
The line of credit agreement was signed in Rangoon, on Oct 29th, on behalf of the Exim Bank by Executive Director S. R. Rao and on behalf of the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank by Managing Director Than Ye, a bank press release said.
Thahtay Chaung (Thahtay Creek) is located 12 miles north-east of Thandwe, Rakhine State.
Under the line of credit, Exim Bank will reimburse 100 percent of the contract value to the Indian exporter upon shipment of goods, the release said.
This is the fourth line of credit extended by Exim Bank to Burma. Earlier lines of credit have been utilized to finance projects such as railway rehabilitation, telecommunications and a refinery.
With the signing of the line of credit, Exim Bank now has 82 lines of credit, covering 84 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the CIS, with credit commitments amounting to $2.7 billion available for financing exports from India, the release added.
Irrawaddy : Sat 3 Nov 2007
Burmese Gems, Timber Find Other Markets as US Increases Sanctions
While the US enforces additional economic sanctions against Burma on gems and timber trade, highly prized forest lumber continues to move across the border into China, say reports from Kachin State.
Chinese traders in Ruili and Nong Dao are paying high prices of between US $1,200 and $1,400 per ton for teak and another tropical hardwood called Tarmalan, as illegal logging continues unabated under military eyes, said the Thailand based NGO Kachin News Group.
Illegal loggers have to give at least 6,000,000 kyat [about $4,615] per truck carrying five to seven tons of Tarmalan to bribe the junta authorities in transporting the timber from the areas it is originating to the border trade centers, the KNG said.
This news will dismay promoters of proposed new legislation being considered by the US Congress to target the juntas lucrative income from timber and gems.
Democrat senator and presidential candidate Joseph Bidens Burma Democracy Promotion Act aims to widen new banking and travel sanctions already announced by Washington against regime leaders and their business associates.
The bill has cross-party support with co-sponsorship from Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell.
But just as much of Burmas timber business runs through China, so the gems trade finds a home way beyond US shores most notably in the gem cutting and middlemen shops of Bangkoks jewelry quarter.
It is a good selling point to be able to say that some stones, especially rubies, originate in Burma because of their quality, but it is so easy to also disguise origins if business demands it, said an Indian trader operating in a side street off Charoen Krung Road on the edge of the citys bustling Chinatown district.
I do not think this Congress law will do much, not unless the Thai government closes us all down, said the trader, who asked not to be identified.
Dhaka Rethinks Hydropower Projects in Burma
Bangladesh is likely to reject an invitation from the Burma military regime to invest in hydroelectric power projects, according to reports in Dhaka.
The Bangladeshi ministry of energy has been engaged in talks with Burma to possibly build several hydroelectric dams on rivers in Arakan state near the border between the two countries.
But early feasibility studies have concluded that cost and security concerns with electricity cables rule against the plan, said several Dhaka press reports this week, quoting unnamed officials.
It would be difficult to set up a power grid through the hills and forest areas, said one official. More difficult would be the job of monitoring and maintenance of the grid in difficult terrain.
Several Arakan rivers, including the Mi-Chung and Sang-Don, have the potential to generate up to 700 megawatts power combinedequivalent to Rangoons current electricity capacity.
Relations between Burma and Bangladesh have warmed since a change of government in Dhaka earlier this year.
The current caretaker government in Dhaka, pending fresh elections, has called for the revival of the so-called Bangladesh-Myanmar Friendship Road. The Dhaka government says it is prepared to shoulder most of the estimated US$140 million cost of the 150 kilometer route, only about 25 kms of which are in Bangladesh.
The friendship road is earmarked to run from Ramu in Bangladesh to Kyauktaw in Burma in a bid to open up trade between the two countries.
Dhaka has said little about the recent Burma protests for democracy and the subsequent military crackdown.
Indias Northeast Looks for Connectivity via Burma
Indian officials say they wants to press ahead with its connectivity plans to Southeast Asia via Burma.
This involves developing road and rail links up to and through Burma to provide connectivity with Thailand, said Assam states Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi this week.
Assam is the biggest and most developed of seven landlocked northeast Indian states which New Delhi is trying to open up economically to tackle poverty and counter rebels groups pressing for greater autonomy or independence. Some of these armed rebel groups move freely across the border with Burma.
Gogoi was quoted by the Assam Tribune newspaper saying the size and timing of the communication links eastwards would be made via a planned market survey in the neighboring countries.