- Ko Moe Kyaw (Chief Editor)
- U Lwin Myint (Editor Board Member & Translator)
- U Luu Maw (Editor Board Member & Webmaster)
- Ko Kyaw Min Htaik (Editor Board Member & Assistant Webmaster)
- Ko Tun Tun Win (Office Manager & Graphic Designer)
- Ko Soe Kyaw (Photo Journalist & Documentation)
- Ma Thuzar Lwin (Accountant)
- Ko Hein Thu (Data Collector)
- Ma Yee Wint War (Staff Writer)
History of Yoma3
In 1998 pro-democracy activists living in the Thai-Burma border area founded Yoma (3) News Service. It was envisioned as an organization that would fill in the critical information gaps created by the total media blackout that exists inside of Burma.
In September of 1998, in the Thai border town of Sagkhlaburi, we published the first quarterly issue of Yoma (3) News Journal with a circulation. Open Society Institute, Norwaygian Burma Council, Burma Project funded the publication until issue number 8 in February 2001, when financial support halted.
The information in our journals was shared with various human-rights organizations, Burmese and international media groups, as well as distributed amongst the general public in Burma, and has been used as source material by numerous human rights publications, radio news wires, and border journals.
Our efforts have come at high cost as three journalists have been shot by the Thai and Burmese military while in the field. On Feb29, 2000, Thai soldiers in Southern Thailand shot and killed Win Myint, while he was investigating the forced relocation of ethnic Karen people in Karmar Palaw, Southern Thailand. On June 9, 2000, two of our other reporters, Sai Win Htut and Nyan Soe were arrested in Kyauk Tine village, Ye Township, Mon State, Burma and were summarily executed soon after.
On the Thai side our editorial staff is also in a position of incertitude. As our journal does not have a legal status in Thailand, it the government orders a crackdown we must relocate. This happened in Sangklaburi in 2002 and we have since moved into the northern Thailand area.
- In our fight for democracy, we will stand on the people’s side and put forward the correct facts regarding political, economical and social news in the territory of Burma.
- To spread up-to-date news regarding oppression and human rights violations inside Burma, to people with internet access locally, regionally and internationally.
- To give information about the literature, culture and philosophical ideas from Burma to our people through the web-site.
Yoma (3) News Service, now based in Thai-Burma border, was re-launched in 2003 by young activists and currently releases news via e-mail.
Our team have collected and distributed the following lists from inside Burma.
- Corruption in Government
- The Children as Use Soldiers
- Forced Labor
- Forced Relocation
- Suppression of Political Activists
- HIV / AIDS Crisis
- Economical, Social and Religious Affairs
The connection between the lack of journalism in Burma and the lack of human rights is obvious. In any country, honest reporting helps citizens to organize around issues that are important to them. If the government is allowed to have a monopoly on information sharing, its power becomes unchecked and it can act with utter impunity because the majority of the society will just never know.
In order to maintain its tyrannical regime, the Burmese government commits atrocities on a level that is almost unheard of in the modern world. One reason that both the people of Burma and the international community are helpless to end this repression is a lack of timely and truthful news. News reporting is entirely banned in Burma under penalty of long prison sentences or even death. There are only two major newspapers in Burma – both are government-run propaganda sheets. Both of them are suppose to rally the public behind the wild eyed fantasy that the nation is in the process of increasing economic growth, moving quickly to democracy, and ethnic reconciliation. As propaganda, the papers fail in the sense of convincing anyone – only the generals living in grand mansions would think that people could disregard all of the reality around them in favor of the grandiose delusions printed on these pages.
In a more subtle way, the government propaganda is quite successful. When people see that the only flow of information allowed and available are lies from the military they feel weak. They feel that repression, like the newspapers, is a daily aspect of their lives and that organizing for a better society is not possible.
We believe that to improve the human rights situation in Burma, people must first be able to see an example of free speech, an example of speaking out. When people can see a printed page that reflects the reality of their lives, dissent becomes possible. The Burmese government will move to reform only when it feels that it is under the watchful eye of an informed citizenry.
The international NGOs and United Nation agencies can also give more effective aid in human rights emergencies when they are able to receive quick updates of what is happening inside. It is much more productive for a UN agency to put pressure on the government about an ongoing circumstance, then if they have to wait for months to get this information.
In our journal here were some highlights:
Former Publication Highlights
Bulletin No (1) 1998
- Forced labor is used in Total and Yadana Gas pipelines construction project
- Forced relocation is used in Total and Yadana Gas pipelines construction project
Bulletin No (2) January 1999
- Political prisoners including monks are tortured in Maulmein prison
- Forced labor is used in Yadana Gas pipeline construction project
- Forced relocation is used in Yadana Gas pipeline construction project
Bulletin No (3) June 1999
- Forced relocation of 30 villages in Tenasserim Division
- Forced donation in Moulmein City
Bulletin No (5) April 2000
- Corruption in the projects of Rangoon City Development Committee
- Worker abuses in Bandula bridge building project, Rangoon City
- Abuses of Burmese workers in fishing industry of Ranong area, Southern Thailand
Bulletin No (6) September 2000
- Forced relocation in Total gas pipeline project, Tenasserim division
- Forced donation Kyeikmayaw township for school-building
- Forced labor in Kyainseikkyi Township, Karen, over one hundred flee to Ranong, Southern Thailand
- Land confiscation for Total Company’s Yadana Gas pipeline construction project
- Land confiscation for Win Fa Noan Dam building project in Mu Don Township, Mon State
- Murder of fishing industry workers in the area of Ranong, Thailand and Kaw Thaung, Burma by employers to silence complaints of poor conditions
Bulletin No (7) December 2000
- Land confiscation for a new military camp building project in Ye Township, Mon State
- Well-ka-lead Village, Thanbyuzayat Township authority seized a 91.8 million kyat worth rubber plant field
- Forced donation for the highway road building project in Ye Township
- Forced donation in 42 villages in Mu Don Township
- Conditions of Mergue prison, Tenasserim Divisin
- Fishing industry workers are killed in Kaw Thaung, Burma
Bulletin No (8) Febuary 2001
- Forced relocation for Yadana Gas pipeline construction project in villages of Mon State
- Forced donation for the road building project in Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon state
- Forced relocation in Win Fa Noan Dam building project, Mu Don Township, Mon State
- Authority provoked a religious riot between Muslims and Buddhists in Arakan State
- Construction in the Unocal and Total Gas pipeline project
- Forced labor project around Burma in Mon Stat and Tennaseriam Division
Using our distribution network inside of Burma, half of our circulation was distributed inside of Burma. The other half was distributed amongst migrants, border activists and human rights groups.
This information collected in these issues, including the photos, has been cited in the Human Rights Year Books of Human Rights Documentation Unit (HRDU), and National Coalition Government of Union of Burma (NCGUB).
After Yoma (3) lost funding we continued to report and distribute news via email to a large pool of sources and in the past year our information has been cited on BBC Radio Burmese Language, New Era, Burma Independence News Agency’s Mojo and other media groups.
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