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Washington says Myanmar may be stocking chemical weapons

Jack Burton

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Washington says Myanmar may be stocking chemical weapons | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Reuters

Myanmar is ignoring a convention banning chemical weapons and may have a stockpile left over from the 1980s… this claim coming out of Washington.

A senior US State Department official told the annual meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Myanmar may still have weapons at a “historic” facility where mustard gas was once produced.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar military is denying the US’ claims that it may have “a stockpile” of chemical weapons, saying it has no ambitions to possess such arms.

Myanmar officially joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2015. The Convention bans the production, storage and use of chemical arms.

“The US has serious concerns that a chemical weapons stockpile may remain at Myanmar’s historical weapons facility,” according to Thomas DiNanno, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

Washington claims it has information that Myanmar “had a chemical weapons program in the 1980s that included a sulphur mustard development program and chemical weapons production,” he added.

“The US certifies that Myanmar is in noncompliance with the CWC for its failure to declare its past chemical weapons program and destroy its chemical weapons facility,” DiNanno says.

But Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, a Burmese military spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy yesterday that the military hasn’t had any program relating to chemical weapons before or after the country’s ratification of the CWC.

“Not only chemical weapons, we have had no production, storage or testing of nuclear or biochemical weapons either.”

Myanmar has previously faced similar accusations of storing and using such weapons.

In 2005, London based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide accused the former military junta of using chemical weapons against rebels from the Karen community.

In 2013, Burmese police were accused of using phosphorus against protesters at a Chinese-run copper mine in the upper part of the country, causing severe burns. But Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun rejected that and said it was just tear gas, of the type used internationally.

“Burning can occur when it interacts with water.”

In 2014, five Burmese journalists were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour for an article that accused the military of making chemical arms.

Myanmar’s then “civilian” government denied using chemical weapons against rebels from the Kachin ethnic minority during clashes in 2013.

A US official says Washington has held talks with Myanmar’s government and military over the issue and “stands ready to assist Myanmar” to destroy the weapons.

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Crime

Kanchanaburi police officer’s twin sons arrested for trafficking methamphetamines

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Kanchanaburi police officer’s twin sons arrested for trafficking methamphetamines | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Matichon News

Twin sons of a Thai police officer have been arrested and charged with trafficking methamphetamine, according to Thai-language daily Matichon. The arrests were made yesterday.

Thai army and border patrol Police stopped a car driven by the two 20 year old twins at a routine checkpoint in western Thailand. A routine search of the vehicle uncovered 2,000 methamphetamine tables in 4 separate containers.

The twins told police that a Burmese person told him to fetch the drugs from the Phaya Tongsoo Village in Myanmar, just across the border from the Sangkhlaburi district in Kanchanburi A Burmese man later took one of the twins across the border to a temple, where he received 2,000 methamphetamine pills.

The father of the twins is a Thai police officer who had served in Sangkhla Buri and Thong Phapoom districts in Kanchanaburi. He is now working at the Office of Police Region 9, accord to Matichon News.

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Thailand

Migrant workers risk losing their legal status, the Cabinet to extend work permit amnesty

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Migrant workers risk losing their legal status, the Cabinet to extend work permit amnesty | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Frontier Myanmar

Over 1.7 million migrant workers in Thailand are going to lose their legal working status because they can’t submit work permit renewal and a health certificate with Covid-19 test results in time. The Labour Ministry then proposes the cabinet will extend the registration period (amnesty) for migrant workers to help maintain their legal status. Migrant workers, including those illegal and unemployed workers, are required to register with authorities via the ministry’s website from January 15 until February 13.

According to the Labour Minister, every migrant worker to renew their work permit must receive a Covid-19 test at hospitals designated by the Public Health Ministry. The Department of Medical Sciences will be responsible for the testing costs.

Illegal and unemployed workers, who registered with the Ministry, will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for 2 years without penalties. Only those migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are allowed to overstay their current visas, but are required to register with the provincial employment office in the area they work, as part of the amnesty.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Environment Justice Atlas

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee has announced the cancellation on the deep seaport project contract with Italian-Thai Development (ITD), one of Thailand’s leading industrial firms, by saying that they “lost confidence” in the company after long, controversial issues.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee said that the Thai company has caused them “repeated delays, continuing breaches of financial obligations under the contracts and the concessionaires’ failure to confirm their financial capacity to proceed with development”.

They say they will look for new development partners to continue the projects. Currently, there are still no comments from ITD.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone is Myanmar’s initiative to encourage international investments into the country, but the project has been delayed because of funding problems and local opposition.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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