Visualizing Burma in a Geo-Spatial Perspective

snapshot of the day

Chapter -- 7:  The Burmese Dictator's Hideout?
(To enlarge the pictures, just click on the photo.)
(Attention:  If you know of any location of Burmese military sturctures, centers, industries, etc. you can send the description in words, .kml/.kmz files, pitcures alike to Your info will be verified and posted here with your name as the contributor.)


Here is the idea:

A lot of things have been talked about and  wrote about Burma.  (Oh, now it is also known as 'Myanmar').  Sometimes, long stories, another time, short reports.  In this blog, I'd love to document information about Burma (a) in geographical approach; (b) using geo-spatial technological methods; (c) presenting in a visualization fashion; and (d) in short essays.  Therefore, the essays will be about places in Burma.  There will be graphics, maps, photos, etc., in slideshows, videos, movies alike.  The graphic presentation materials must be prepared with Geographic Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing, Google Earth, and other methods.  The subjects of the story would be anything such as archaeology, history, towns, cities and urbanization, military, agriculture, environmental, health, migration, and you name it.  But, it will all be about Burma, and it will all be in short graphical essays.

I will make my contributions to this blog.  I will also welcome interested contributors and host his/hers essays as well.  Every essay will be professionally presented.  In some cases, you will be requested to participate in certain project about Burma.  With your information, we will develop an investigative presentation in visualizable manner, together.

So, let me present my first contribution about two historical/archaeological sites located near Yezin and Lewe, which were annexed under the new capital of Burma, Nawpyidaw.

Chapter 1: Two Archaeological Sites in Naypyitaw

The first historical site is located in the outskirt of Lewe, called Yan-Aung-Mye (Yanaungmye) which means ‘victorious land over troubles or oppositions’ in Burmese.  U Aung Myint, former archaeologist with the Burma Archaeological Department, pointed out that there is a small patch (mound) of land on the hill where the pagoda is located.  Many people have come and stood on that patch, believing that they will gain some  supernatural power in conquering any hardships.  This particular patch (mound) has been ordained as “Aung-Mye”.   The meaning of ‘Aung Mye’ has an equivalent English translation of “Winners’ Circle”.

Historical Site of Old Yanaungmyay Town near Lewe, Naypyitaw

Location:    (A) - This site is located only one mile north away from Lewe.  Nyobin Creek runs west to east as the southern border of Yanaungmyay.  Shwe-let-hla Pagoda is sitting on top of a hill-lock on the southeast corner but located outer of the moat.  (B) -  This site can be located at Lat 19°39'58.89"N; Long 96° 7'20.38"E.

History:  According to the Yamethin Gazetteer, Yanaungmyay Town was arisen from the ruins which was formerly named as Naungpyin, aAfter the end of Alaungpaya Dynasty.  Yanaungmyay was one of 52 towns under Toungoo Dynasty.  After the second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, 40 towns were handed over to British administration.  Yanaungmyay was of the rest 12 towns under Burmese administration.

Old Town Site:  (C) - The shape of the town was approximately rectangular.  The traces of old moats can be seen on the photo.  The corners of the walls are not rectangular, instead, they are rounded.  It appears to be that the pagoda on the southeast corner was originally included within the town limit.  The moats and the Nyobin Creek on the east and south were protecting the town as protective barriers.  The old moats and low lands within the town are now occupied by paddy fields.  The area extent of the town is approximately 84 acres.  (Source: Aung Myint, U (1998) Burmese Ancient Cities in the Aerial Photos.  Younzin Press, Yangon, Myanmar.)
Update:  The January 2006 satellite image on Google Earth™  shows that a two-way lane road was constructed through the old town from north to south.  In March 2010, the old walls that were standing on the west and northwest side of the old Yanaungmyay town were destroyed and replaced with new structures as a part of Naypyitaw development, instead of preservation of a historical site. © (Dr. U Win, SDSU-Viz Center,  CA, USA. 2010)

Old Fort near Theyetkon Village near Yezin, Naypyitaw

This site is also a historical site, assumed to be small fort which was one of the first 52 towns of Toungoo District after the second Anglo-Burma War.  This site was identifiable on the aerial photograph obtained by the Burma Aerial Survey Department in Rangoon (A).  This site can be located at Lat 19°48'52.04"N; Long 96°16'57.74"E.

Nobody knows the name of the fort.  It is located south on and a half mile away from Yezin Agricultural University at Yezin Town.  The diamond shape fort was built with earthen walls around.  It had an area of 32 acres. It was located on the immediate north of Theyetkon village.  Although the fort was located in adjacent north to Neyabin Chaung, the moat built around the fort walls was a dry moat. (B)  General terrain of this area is higher in the east and gently sloping towards the south.  The walls were covered with brushes.  There’s no trace of bricks in the walls.  (Source:  Aung Myint, U (1998) Burmese Ancient Cities in the Aerial Photos.  Younzin Press, Yangon, Myanmar)

Update:  In 2006, area within the inside of the fort wall had been leveled to ground.  Instead of preservation of an archaeological site, a building structure was constructed as a part of Naypyitaw development under Burmese military Regime. (C) In 2010, the area of Theyetkon village had been annexed, and villagers were forced to abandon their homes and lands by the military regime.  © (Dr. U Win, SDSU-Viz Center,  CA, USA. November 28, 2010)

Credit:  Aung Myint, U (1998), retired archaeologist, Burma; Google™;

posted ~ November 29, 2010 by winners' circle

Chapter 2: Nargis Cyclone and Emergency Responses

Geospatial Technological Applications for Emergency Responses for Nargis Cyclone Victims
After Nargis Cycloned smashed Delta area of Lower Burma (Myanmar), the United Nations (UN) was aware of Burma’s transportation and communication systems being broken. The Rapid Mapping, Applications and User Relations of UNOSAT, and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Operational Satellite Applications Programme knew that the concerns and questions about what’s happening in the storm impacted areas could be relatively answered by using geospatial technologies. The UNOSAT contacted Geographic Information System Corps (GISCorps) of the United States, and submitted a request for volunteers. 
On May 9, 2008, GISCorps recruited 11 Geographic Information System/Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) volunteers from the US, Canada, Cyprus, and Germany. Using geo-spatial Google Earth™ environment, the volunteers performed change detection Analysis for various features such as roads, bridges, buildings, villages, monasteries, etc.  A total of 6,500 features were collected. The volunteers compared the pre-disaster and post-disaster satellite imageries provided by Google™.  On May 21, 2008, 22 GISCorps volunteers from Taiwan, USA, Canada, Norway and Germany collected 54,000 features in this second phase.  Buildings and monasteries were detected from the pre-disaster satellite imageries. (

For processing and analysis of pre- and post-cyclone images by the GISCorps volunteers were made possible by Google Earth™, converted data furnished by the US Government through the Pacific Disaster Centre, the best possible imagery available from the major vendors, and Google™ and UN connected personnel with expertise in remote sensing. ( /index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=74&Itemid=63)
On May 21, 2008, 22 GISCorps volunteers from Taiwan, USA, Canada, Norway and Germany collected 54,000 features in this second phase.  Buildings and monasteries were detected from the pre-disaster satellite imageries.

Burmese Communities' Participation
The author was fortunate to volunteer with GISCorps.  The mission was set to collect specific features on the satellite imageries fast and furious rate – digitizing as many points as possible in seven to ten days.  Granted by the GISCorps leadership to give input to their decision making process, I pointed out about key element for assemble points of the flood/storm victims in data collection – the monasteries and pagodas.  We, the Burmese, know that pagodas (stupas) are visible in any geographical environment because they are tall structures, and commonly built on the higher grounds.   Villagers and urbanites alike seek shelters at the Buddhist monasteries when they need help.  The GISCorps kindly allowed me to spearhead on digitizing pagodas and monasteries in the cyclone impacted areas.  Another task assigned to us was to digitize each and every building in east Rangoon (Yangon).

Technically, it was a simple task on Google - tagging a pin (adding placemarks) on each feature such as a pagoda, building or monastery; but it was too many to digitize and so tedious.  Therefore, I took the liberty of recruiting additional volunteers within the Burmese community.  Thankfully, the challenge was taken up by Zarni Kyaw (Calgary, Canada), James Chao (San Francisco, USA), Linda Sue (Pleasanton, USA), and James Walker (Pleasanton, USA).  The group donated hundreds of hours in digitizing many thousands of points within the given time frame.   And, also thanks to Einar Bjorgo (UNOSAT), GISCorps members of the Board, and special thanks to the GISCorps volunteers on this project!
Note:  Each digitized point for assembly places (pagodas and monasteries) maintained Latitude and Longitude coordinates.  In the cyclone affected zone was flood and all means of transportation was broken down at that time.  This dataset on possible assembly points could have been most helpful in the efforts to rescue and provide emergency supplies by air drops.  We were appalled by the Burmese military regime’s refusal to accept international help and assistance while they barely helped the cyclone victims. 

The followings depict the images of before and after shots of villages affected by Nargis Cyclone (upper), and one example of the Damage Assessment Maps issued by the UNOSAT.

Credits:  The UN-UNOSAT, GISCorps, GISCorps Volunteers on 2008 Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone’s Mission, Zarni Kyaw (Canada), James Chao, Linda Sue, James Walker, the Google, and for all those photos posted in various websites.

posted ~ November 30, 2010 by winners' circle


Chapter 3: Burmese Militarization and Human Settlements 

East Burma is a place where ethnic minorities have lived and farmed in the lowland valleys of the forested rugged mountains.  One could hardly spot small clusters or individual dwellings in the vast land on the topographic maps or aerial/satellite photos.  But during this decade, the pictures have been changed.  Newly built roads can be found with large new villages.  Large and small patches of bare spaces where the villagers used to live can also be found in the valleys and over the hill slopes.  Reportedly, new large villages are the displaced villages lived by villagers who were forced out of their homelands by the Burmese military.  The displaced villagers were kept under the watchful eyes of the troops which systematically stationing along the Thai-Burma border and blocking the villagers of access to Thai territory, or restricting from any mobility.  

As we all know that the troubles have been brewing all across eastern Burma and along the Thai-Burma border because of the decades-long refugee issues caused by Burmese ethnic minorities fleeing from the conflicts between Burmese troops and resistance armed forces of minority groups.  In fact, the refugee issue has been directly contributed by brutal Burmese militarization and its forced displacement of ethnic minorities who were literally under house arrests in those displaced villages.   Recent expansion of Burmese militarization has further driven the influx of refugees into Thailand due to continued brutality and violation of human rights of Burma army.  The military’s expansion of additional hundreds of Burmese battalions along the Thai border has given a funny feeling for some military analysts about the Burmese regime’s probable other intentions beyond thwarting of domestic insurgency.

The author may not be able to solve the problems directly, but it is possible to assist those who are directly dealing with the issues. 

Visualizing Burmese Militarization: A Case Study of Southern Shan State Townships

The Area of Interest:  Three southern Shan State (SSS) townships, Mongpan, Mongton and Monghsat , at the Thai-Burma border area were selected for a case study of the “Impacts of Burmese militarization upon changing human settlement patterns”.  The border region of SSS townships (See above) is relatively quieter as a truce has been held, so far, between Burmese troops and the resistance groups.  In a report published by the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) in August 2010, stated that “… The Shan IDP camp committees report that militia groups are now forcibly conscripting male villagers in militia units in Mong Ton and Mong Hsat townships, and this is now a major cause of displacement. Relations between SSA-S and UWSA have stabilized for the moment, although SPDC have increased restrictions on movement for civilians in the border township of Mong Ton.”

Settlement Patterns:  Thanks to Google for allowing us to trace back the history of an area of the past using available old satellite images posted on Google.  Normally, the ethnic minorities living in the mountains lived peacefully, farming traditional ways.  After they were forced out of their land properties, their houses and animal shelters, the abandoned places still stood clear in the natural landscape over the years.  On the satellite images, those cleared patches are visible to locate them.  Similarly, the charred ground patches allegedly torched by the troops, were also left as scars on the terrain.  That’s how a series of data on the sites of individual abandoned lands, burnt villages, and newly built displaced villages were collected by digitizing on the satellite images. (See above)   

Burmese Militarization:  According to TBBC report in November 2009, 235 Burma Army battalions are based in eastern Burma.  Burma Army’s militarization has been threatening civilian safety and security in rural settlements.  Locations of military outposts and camps were identified and filed with Latitude/Longitude coordinates. (See above)  In addition, some Burmese military’s hidden sites for underground tunnels/caves sites are being uncovered on the satellite images.  Using visualization tools, underground military sites were discovered around Mongton area.  Newly built roads from Mongton led me to find this site. (See below)  

Burmese military have been constructing tunnels and underground facilities since 2004.  Many hidden Burmese underground military installations have been uncovered so far, by the author. 

Visualizing in a bigger picture about displaced settlements:  Pins, in the picture (above), are spatially registered.  Each point is located at the real place and displayed on satellite imagery.  It is visually presented with 3-D relief model.  After placing all the chips (displaced settlements and Burmese troops’ positions) in places spatially and visually, military analysts, strategists, evacuation and aid planners, decision makers, alike could use digital information (KMZs) on Google online; and/or review graphical reports.  Note that this picture is only a sample graphical presentation of militarization and human settlement displacements of a valley in Monghsat Township.

The above-mentioned examples only cover small parts of the Area of Interest (MongPan, Mongton and Monghsat Townships of Southern Shan State).  The work done is only 10% of the total because of dwindling resources and time spent by a lone horse.    

Burmese militarization is still expanding, ethnic minorities are trying to live their lives, and many of them are running for shelters as refugees.  Now is your call!

o  Welcoming you any additional suggestions to be included in this proposed project.  Please email me at
o  AND/OR  Kayah/Karen/Mon border regions?

Reference/Credits:  Google, TTBC, FBR, DVB, Viz Center (SDSU)

Posted ~ December 3, 2010 by winner’s circle

Chapter 4: Satellite Photo Interpretations of Paddy Fields in Delta Region of Burma aftermath of Nargis Cyclone

In late 2008, I volunteered for Northwest GIS Response Team of Seattle, Washington, USA, which was conducting a project digitizing paddy fields of delta region of lower Burma after devastated by Nargis Cyclone.  The team was to identify pre-damage wet rice agricultural production throughout the Ayarwaddy delta area, requested by UNOSAT.  I assisted this team of 70 volunteers digitizing paddy fields on the satellite imageries posted on Google.  I made a series of slides with identification of features on the satellite images raised by the volunteers  I was aware that understanding the cultural background of man-made landscape of a place in a foreign country would be helpful.  Therefore, I attempted to provide some agri-‘cultural facts’ about the features they have located verifying my interpretation of the satellite photos.  I was fortunate to find Mr. Than Win of Fremont, California, USA, whose family and himself have lived and cultivated various crops in the paddy fields in the delta region.  He was my best ‘ground truthing’ of the features on the satellite photos.  Having conferred with Jim Ellis (Ellis-Geospatial of Walnut Creek, California, USA), my interpretations were verified.  Thanks to Glenn Brook, his technical team, and the volunteers for caring about Burma and the GIS efforts with Google and ArcGIS functions.  The team estimated that the cyclone affected area included more than 3,000,000 individual rice paddy plots and that the project was able to digitize 30,000 individual rice paddy's on line through the use of a custom developed on-line GIS editing tool.  The interpretive explanations allowed the creation of a visual training guide that identified many different rice paddy configurations and crop types  visible in Google Earth.

To be able to see the captions of the graphical images on each slide (poster) on the blog, the descriptions will be printed under each slide.

Since I was volunteering with GISCorps, I cropped the images of Pagodas of large and small.  The smaller they are, it is hard to distinguish with other features in and around the farm lands.  Because I was grown up in Burma, I can see the context of a pagoda and it's environment.  The most challenging situation were to distinguish pagodas between haystacks the way Burmese farmers piled, and a patch of land used for threshing rice from the stalks. 

(Left/Top)  Pagodas are structurally massive and standing tall that the cyclone victims ran for them and took shelters at nearby monasteries.  Locating pagodas and monasteries were crucial as they are the points of assembly.   The features representing pagodas on the imageries vary different in shapes and forms.  (Right/Top)  It can be mistaken as pagodas by these features on the images.  They are ‘haystacks’.   When interpreting the imageries, (Right/Middle)  White patches on the images are paddy grain processing ground, called Ta Lin (Right/Bottom)  Commonly, the compound of the pagoda is in square shape, coated with white lime powder.

Betel Leaf Gardens
Commonly, Burmese farmers grow garden crops, especially in summer when paddy cannot be grown.  They are grown for domestic consumption as well as cash crop.  Some crops are shady trees when others are row crops, but some sources of water supply such as canals, wells, streams, etc. must be accessible.  There's no way to identify the gardens of betel leave vines or betel nut trees from the satellite images.  Because of Than Win, a cultivator himself and the 'ground truth-er', it was possible to identify them.  
(Right)  (1) Betel nuts are the fruits of Betel Nut Trees.  The tree is shorter  and thinner than coconut tree, but they  look  similar. (2) The fruits (nuts) look  like miniature coconuts. (3) After removing the outer soft shell of the fruit, there is the hard betel nut which has to be crushed (4) in small pieces to chew.  (5) The pieces of betel nut are, commonly, wrapped in a betel nut leaf to chew.

Posted: December 8, 2010 by winners' circle

Mosaic of Images

The mosaic imageries on Google Earth™, shown on this picture were of various regions of Burma’s Ayeyarwaddy delta.  The yellow dash-lines show the boundaries of scenes with different colors and tones.  Darker colors of the images could be misled in the interpretation of the same features as two different items.

Color Differences on Images

These are the sites showing various regions of the Burma’s Delta, the Ayeyarwaddy delta.  Each photo shows the differences in color on the images posted on Google Earth™ (GE).  A general boundary line was drawn on each picture distinguishing the areas where two different photos merged in a mosaic.  The imageries posted on GE has been provided mostly by various satellite companies such as Digital Globe, GeoEye, TerraMetrics, Europa Technologies and Image NASA.  The differences in colors on images could be due to the differences in atmospheric conditions, the look angle between the different images, the contrast stretch used by the provider, and the pan sharpening algorithms.  (Dr. Jim Ellis of Ellis-Geospatial)  The color-balancing could be done for each scene and minimized the differences while mosaicking, but it will be costly.  The images made available on GE must have been used with readily available pan sharpened scenes with difference colors and tones.  Therefore, the users of these imageries on GE should be aware of color differences in identifying agricultural features during the digitizing exercises for Myanmar Paddy Project.  Especially, some features on the images could be misled by green, brown and dark colors.  The images were made in summer of 2008, however, the images could have taken on different months of summer.

Summer Crops on Paddy Fields
The summer season extends from December through April.  During each month, the crop cultivation process has moved on with land tilling (plowing), planting, weeding, harvesting, etc.  The shape, patterns and coloration change on the image depending upon which month the imagery was taken.  Obviously, all images made available on Google were not taken on the same month.  (For this Paddy Project, identification of crop is not necessary.)  It is important to realize that these shapes and patterns on the paddy plots are temporarily, because summer crops and cultivation activities only last during a few months of summer.  As soon as the monsoon rain begins, the fields will be plowed for paddy again. 

Posted:  December 14, 2010 by winners' circle

(More graphical presentations on the interpretation of various features will be added gradually).

Chapter 5: The Hunt for F2
At one point in 2004, Burmese military regime has constructed two special buildings in Burma.  They were not ordinary buildings.  The military sealed off the perimeter of building sites with its troops.  These locations were out-of-bound areas to the adjacent local villagers.  The hills selected for the sites of the buildings were bulldozed off to the bedrock --  gigantic mass of earth was removed with men and machinery.  The regime took it so secretively that villagers who worked in those sites didn’t know what kind of buildings they were for.  Photos on every steps of construction of a large ‘factory building’ in Myaing Township was known by Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) of Norway, in 2006.  But at that time, the exact location of Myaing factory couldn’t be pinpointed yet.  The other factory was unknown until early 2009 when Google posted satellite imageries in the area of Pyin Oo Lwin (POL), formerly called May Myo.  Burma observers debated about the POL site being a nuclear processing plant.  In late 2009, Google posted satellite imageries covering Myaing region.  There it was --  the Myaing factory building. It was the Burmese military’s designated “Factory-2” (F2).  It was also a prototype of ‘Factory-1’ (F1) in POL.  These two are a twin factory -- the color, the size, and the dimensions are all the same.  A defector and a former military engineer with Burmese Army, Major Sai Thein Win, revealed what these Burmese military’s secretive buildings were about, to the entire world in June 2010.  Now, let’s see how geospatial work played a role in ‘the hunt for F2 and what F2 was all about’ in this essay.

The Killing of a Hill

Next four slides depicted how Burmese military had made a hill to disappear from the planet of the earth.  Eleven photos displayed on these slides were obtained by DVB in the 1960s.  DVB knew that that excavation and construction events occurred in Myaing Township; and that a factory has been built at this location.

The Building of a Giant

Now, you can imagine how much time and money the military would have spent for the excavation and hauling of earth for this massive volume of dirt.  As seen on the following slide,  photos of the F2 show that it was a gigantic structure they built.  Thanks to DVB for sharing these photos.
The tracking of F2

Credits:  Maj. Sai Thein Win; Robert Kelley & Allison Puccioni (JIR); DVB; Google Earth
(To enlarge the pictures, just click on the photo.)
Posted:  December 20, 2010 by winners' circle

Chapter – 6:  Village Drinking Water Ponds Damaged by Nargis and Giris

Aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in early May 2008, some volunteers organized by Buddhist monasteries reached out to the cyclone victims almost unreachable villages (at that time) located along the coast of Burma’s delta regions.  Messages came to me that villages lost their drinking water ponds.  The storm surges washed away and flooded the village ponds with salt water.  In some places, water in the ponds was contaminated with debris as well as the dead bodies of animals and human.

Drinking water ponds are vital for every rural Burma because of the shortage of water during the dry months of monsoon season.  In the Arakan (Rakhine) and Tenasserim (Tanintharyi) coastal regions and the delta regions of Lower Burma such as Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) and Rangoon (Yangon) divisions, rain is abundant in the rainy season for four months, and then the dry season sets in as temperature raising higher and higher every day during the summer months, leaving local hand-dug wells dry.  Groundwater in the soil is normally saline.  Creeks, streams and rivers are around, but they are tidal streams and water in there is saline.  Therefore, ponds are dug, and stored fresh rain water in there.
Even a smallest village needs a pond.  Many communal ponds are built as a village is in linear shape, or larger.  Traditional, smaller ponds are built for the monasteries which provide drinking water when water is scarce for the villagers, and for those villagers who wish to set free of fish as a religious merit.  Therefore, more than a single pond can be found in the villages.  The following satellite image depicts an exceptional single village holding 25 ponds in Kayan Township. 

The World Vision reported recently that more than 300 village ponds have been rehabilitated two years after Nargis hit the region.  In fact, more than a thousand of village drinking water ponds were damaged.  I believe that digging of some new wells or new ponds were replaced or abandoned the old damaged ponds.  Regardless, help is still needed for rehabilitation or construction of permanent communal village ponds.  

Please don’t forget that village ponds in Arakan (Rakhine) State that were damaged by Cyclone Giris just recently.  As you know, the Burmese military regime has been reaping billions of dollars from the oil and gas contracts with foreign companies, but the money is kept for their personal accounts and military expansions to hold on power to Burma; not even the least for the people who needs essential drinking water in these villages.  There are some local organizations associated with Buddhist monasteries and NGOs who are effectively help making donations work for this effort.  I sincerely request the potential donors to assist and help them for this particular need: drinking water ponds for the villages

Credits:  Google Earth, UNOSAT, Dhamma Vihara Monastery, World Vision
(To enlarge the pictures, just click on the photo.)

Posted:  January 16, 2011 by winners' circle

Chapter  -- 7:  The Burmese Dictator’s Hideout?
It is a fact everybody now knows that Burma’s Commander in Chief, the Dictator of Burma, Senior General Than Shwe is always afraid of possible invasion of the United States and its allies who would track him down and hang him by the people he has tortured and killed the way what had happened to Saddam Hussein of Iraq.  Therefore, he has ordered his military to dig tunnels and construct military structures underground.  He must be watching the news of dictators such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and Lybia’s Moammar Kadafi during the half-time intermission of Manchester United soccer games.  The revolutions are not just by the protesters but their armies who got sick and tired of them.  I believe he knows ‘time is ticking’ for him.  He must believe that his junior generals will protect him while he is hiding-out in an underground facility.
In fact, we all know that his expanded troops are recruited with underage child soldiers.  (That is why he is about to be drafting men and women in Burma for his armies.)  The foot-soldiers and their families are starving while he and his senior military officers and their families are richer every day.  His senior military officers and generals will switch sides with democratic allies as soon as they have realized that their ‘old man’ is really old (now is over 80) and weak.
He thinks that the guards and troop positioned on the ground to protect him and his hideout underground sites are invisible and safe.  This following ESSAY in graphical visualization is a sample of the geospatial technologies that located and identified a major hideout site of Burmese dictator. 

Again, note that the following are just a sample of the essay... ... ...  (click the image to enlarge)

Part I:  The Background

Part II:  The Garissons
one of the garissons guarding the dictator

Part III:  The Hideout

one of the entrances to the hideout

another entrance to the hideout

Graphics above are based on scientific facts and technology. 

If interested in releasing the entire ESSAY, please contact

Posted:  February 27, 2011 by winners' circle
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Chapter 9: Airfields in Eastern Burma -- Burmese Militarization and National Poverty 
(If ... No Fly Zone over Burma -- PART-2)

(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)

Some news on the hidden Burmese military expansion plans have surfaced recently.  On August 4, 2011, the Moscow News reported that Russia has won a contract with Burmese regime to build a 50 kilometer (30 mile) long metro (underground rail) line deep underneath Naypyitaw, the new capital city.  It again indicates how Sr. Gen Than Shwe has been superbly paranoia about his military’s defeat.  (By the way, according to the military insiders, Mr. Than Shwe is still wearing his uniform.)  Just looking at the layout of his military establishments on the ground in the new capital as seen on the Google satellite images, his military establishments are all in a sitting duck (target) should there be an aerial offense by the enemies.  Probably in his mind, the only way to save his army is to put them in underground tunnels.  One of his secret project has been exposed to the world that he has built a large-size underground bunker for his military command center in his neighborhood.  (See below)

(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
The “metro” must have made sense for the general the way Russia has used their metros for bomb shelters (bunkers) during the World War II.  For him, the metro could be a safe underground passage connecting the new airport, the places of his loyal elites, and the underground military bunker which is located approximately 6 miles away.  This underground facility is the same facility that the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has been referring to as an underground facility Project 216 in its “Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions” investigative documentary.  Last week, DVB reported that the leaked document to DVB on Project 216 included a drawing which indicated a planned (underground) metro line next to the bunker.   (See below)
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
Obviously, Mr. Than Shwe has penciled in the metro line development since the beginning.  The geological investigation and surveying have been underway by the Russians as the Voice of Russia reported.  Now, the world is witnessing again the Burmese dictator’s shameless and senseless expenses for the metro military project while the welfare of entire population has been ignored.  Burma’s combined education and health sectors have been allocated for less than three percent of national budget.

There were rumors about Burma Navy to build an air-craft carrier to rival against Thai’s HTMS Chakri Naruebet.  (see Below)  Since Burma knows nothing about the know-how, this appears nothing beyond the Burmese military’s propaganda.  However, Sr. Gen Than Shwe and his military have always considered that the Andaman Sea at the southern Burma is always venerable militarily in the event of invasion by the US and its allies.  For him, it makes sense to host his newly purchased jets on an aircraft carrier.  

The Irrawaddy reported in December 2009 that Burma has signed EUR 400 million ($571 million) deal with Russia for 20 MiG-29D jet fighters, and another deal for Mi-24 attack helicopters at EUR 450 million.  In last April, 2011, The POF  reported that 12 new MiG-29D fighters arrived at Tadar-U airport, and would be temporarily kept in Shante (Meiktila) air force base.  Again,  information on the formation of a new air force base at Ann in Arakan (Rakhine) state was leaked to The Power of Fraternity (The POF) from the Burma Air force command’s first quarterly meeting on January 2011.  According to a Burmese air force pilot’s “a historical account of Burma Military (Air)”  that was posted in January 2011 in The POF, .the Burmese military met a hard reality once that five of their most modernized (at that time) AT-33 jets couldn’t fly over a low mountain of Pegu Yoma (ranges) and crashed during a military operation in 1975.  Thus, the military purchased China’s F-5 fighters.  But, in an incident at Thai-Burma border in 2000-2001, Burma realized that their F-5 jets couldn’t combat against Thai’s F-16 and F5E jets; and its planes dared not to fly up to Tachelaik, a border checkpoint town.  Since then, rival against Thailand has been the primary trigger to expand Burma’s air force.  Burma spent chunks of its national budget for MiG-29D from Russia in 2001.
Paranoia about possible aerial invasion of western allies has led himself to the Burmese dictator, Sr. Gen Than Shwe to expand the country’s air power in desperation that he bought substandard, and wastes from Russia and Chinese junkyards.  Burmese military considers itself obligated to China for recognizing its power during their 1988 coup de tat.  Gen.  Than Shwe believed that China, at that time, saved them from a possible invasion of the United States’ forces under the name of evacuating their embassy staff.  Knowing Burma’s desperation, China provided no interest loans to Burma to be able to purchase Chinese jet fighters and other arsenals which now turned out to be wastes from their junkyards; and helped itself with special favors for Burmese natural resources such as gems, minerals, natural gas, and teaks. In the same token, China took advantage of great favors from Burmese military with Heingyi Island and Coco Island of Burma for Chinese naval bases; with contracts to build a railroad from China’s Yunan Province to the sea port at Kyaukpyu in Arakan State, and with a deal to convert Kyaukpyu into an international seaport including an airport.  Geo-politically, China now has opportunities to gain influence over the Indian Ocean.  Many Burmese military personnel know well what Burma has gained from China were fleets of F-7 and A-5 Chinese jets most of which were either grounded or sub-par in their functionalities for combat.
But at least, flyable aircrafts have been used to terrorize the people, especial in the ethic provisional homelands.  Air strikes against anti-government (resistance) forces have been common used since the late Gen. NeWin took over power in 1961.  The July 18, 2011 issue of The POF reported the air strikes took place using A-5 interceptors (jets) and MI-2 helicopters from Samsang air base during the ground battles between Burmese military and Shan State Army (SSA) at Wankaipha SSA headquarters in Shan State.  Burmese military has employed over 400,000 servicemen, approximately 10% of which are child-soldiers and invalids. 
Still, Burmese military forces hold upper hand by numbers, four or five times higher than the total number of resistance fighters throughout the entire country against the military.  “On top of that, the military has all the arsenals from locally manufactured bullets and weapons at various Defense Industry factories throughout the country, and imported armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, helicopters to jet fighters,” according to a former Burmese military attach√© at Washington, D.C., Major Aung Lynn Htut.  The Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) reported in 2010 that 237 Burmese battalions have been stationed in eastern Burma.  (See above)

Paranoia has brought him to stockpile arsenals for rivalry against Thai military.   See the locations of Burmese air force bases and airfields in eastern Burma. 
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)

Tavoy (Dawei) Airfield (remaining as a civilian airport as Myeik air force base is just standing by.)
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
 Ela (Paypyitaw alias Kyut-pyay) Air Base (coordinating operations over the east borders)
Heho Airfield in northern Shana State
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
 Papun Airfield (in Karen State)
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
Kawthaung (Victoria Point) Airfield
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
 Kengtung Airfield (Shan State) with air defense radar system
 Lashio Airfield in northern Shan State
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
Upgraded Mong Hsat Airfield (coordinating ground troops against ethic resistance groups) 
Mong Tong Airfield
Moulmein airfield
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
 Myeik Airforce Base (so-called the sea-MEZAR airfield in the air force)
 (click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
 Namsang Air Force Base (key pilot training and air support for the ground troops in Shan, Kayah and Karen against ethnic resistance groups)
 Namsang Air Force Base (key pilot training and air support for the ground troops in Shan, Kayah and Karen against ethnic resistance groups)
 Namtu Airfield (a growing mining town)
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
 Upgraded Pha-An Airfield at the capital of Karen State
Tachilek Airfield (with eyes and ears watching Thailand
(click each slide to enlarge the pictures)
Taungoo Airfield (air support for ground troops for eastern borders along Thailand)

 Chapter 10:  Part III - Latest Ann Air Base and Military Built Up at Ann Pass (Arakan State)


An outcome on the dispute over maritime border between Burma and Bangladesh will come out in a couple of months.  The dispute originated from the locations of natural gas reserves offshore at kyaukphu, Arakan State, acclaimed by Burma, actually by Burmese military regime. Arakanese and elsewhere inside Burma were unpleasant about Burmese government’s deal of piping away the natural gas and oil from Arakan offshore to China.  So-called the Shwe Gas Project benefits China and Sr. Gen Than Shwe; not for Burma and starving people of Burma.  Chinese have already moved into Kyaukpyu.  Military has built up its forces at Ann.  For paving gas pipeline corridor at the Chinese border, military has, now, been waging war against Kachins who were living there for their whole lives.   Therefore, this presentation of Part III of “If.. No Fly Zone over Burma” begins with Burma’s latest air force base at Ann.

Massive Military Built Up at Ann Pass, Arakan State

Arakans have heard of massive Burma’s military built up on the Arakan Yoma  (Ranges) at Ann, but that whole area has been restricted to civilians.   Ann airport was upgraded to Burma’s latest air force  base, as reported by  
(all pictures can be enlarged to view by clicking on it) 

The changes in the landscape in and around Ann (town and airfield) can be seen by comparing 2005 and 2006 satellite photos posted on Google Earth™.   Note the circles in 2005 with no excavation on the slope of the hills.

The Burmese Western Military Command and Control Headquarters have been moved out from Sittwe (Akyab) to Ann.
(A)  Military establishments have been further extended to the south of airfield and the original Ann town.  
(B)  On 2006 photo, hill slopes at two large hills had been excavated.  Expansion of the establishments extended further south.
(C)  Extended area from the hills to the west bank of Ann creek has been potted with standard military structures with blue colored roofs. 
(D)  Original Ann airport was upgraded with longer runway and new tarmac.  The 2006 satellite photo was limited to see possible aircraft hangers, new taxi-ways, etc. 
(all pictures can be enlarged to view by clicking on it) 

(E)  Total population of original Ann town was 1,000.  The town is spreading along the east bank of Ann Creek.  The new military installations have been developed south and northeast of the old town.  In http://en.wikipedia.or/wild/Ann_Township, it  noted that "Ann Creek" Hydropower Project is being implemented by the Ministry of Electric Power No. 1 on Ann Creek, 3.5 miles northeast to Ann. The project can generate 44 million kilowatt hours yearly when it is finished. 
(F) Just on the western side of the hill across  from the air base, more military installations have been establishing.   (G)  The same way, more military  installations have been developed on the east of original Ann town. 

So, why has the Burmese military built up at Ann location then?

(A) The simplest reason is to keep nationalistic Arakanese (Rakhines) people under tight control of military powers.  At the lowest level, looting land and properties in rural areas abusing Naypyitaw directions. Arakanese are faced with land confiscation without compensation;  destruction of ancient cities, national heritage and Arakanese pride, for railroad construction; harass and arrest of individuals who express personal political belief.  To the extent, it is to thwart quickly any popular uprising in the future.

(B)  Militarily, this is the seat of control and command center to engage in ethnic armed-resistance such as Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and Chin National Front (CNF) activities effectively.

(C)  Border Issues with Bangladesh
            (1)  Burmese Refugee Camps --  There are 28,000 Burmese Muslim refugees sheltering in two officially registered refugee camps, and an estimated 50,000 refugees are sheltering in two makeshift unregistered camps in Bangladesh. (
            (2)  Border Fencing -- Fencing 40 mile long border with barbed wire. ( (Who knows, the traditional Burma’s military tactic – the land mines, to be followed.)

(D) Air Force Rivalry:  Because of Burma’s military built up, Bangladesh established a new Air Force base on the opposite side of the border from Maungdaw, Arakan State on April 3, 2011, raising tensions between the two nations. (Naranjera News 04-06-2011)

     (E)  Maritime Border Dispute -- Two countries sent warships to the disputed waters in 2008.  The delimitation issue with Burma will be settled by ITLOS while the claim regarding the outer limit will be decided at the United Nations. (

(F)   Military Exercises  --  Recently, Bangladesh, US and Asian CARAT naval exercise was held near Chittagong.    (  (Oct 24, 2011)

(G) (Than) Shwe Gas Project --  Seriously, Chinese government has gotten a rare economic and military opportunities at the most critical juncture of time in Burmese history.  As if acting as a Chinese warrior, dam construction contracts; copper mines for weaponry; and gemstone mines of jade, rubies and gold mines were granted to China by general Than Shwe.  He offered naval ports to China at Coco island and Heingyikyun.  Then. he’s created special Chinese fortunes such as oil and gas from offshore (Shwe Gas) and inland (Yenangyaung)  reserves with an additional approval to create a deep sea harbor at Kyaukphu (Arakan) together with a new airport; and also to build a dual oil and gas pipelines with a parallel rail road.  (See Video on China’s Kyaukpyu Economic and Technology Development Plan at   Than Shwe has cunningly setup against the United State’s concerns over China’s military access to Indian Ocean by-passing traditional shipping route through South China Sea-the Strait of Malacca.  (See illustrated map below)  

(all pictures can be enlarged to view by clicking on it)  
Just looking at the planned route (corridor) of gas and oil pipelines (see below) of Shwe Gas Project, and its associated plan for a rail road, Burma will be divided diagonally into two states with a corridor from Ruili (Chinese border) to Kyaukpyu (Arakan coast).   For a national security reason alone, no other government would usher a neighboring country who would grab every  resource to feed its exploding population, into its own land.  But brilliantly, Than Shwe’s offered  a flow of gas and oil to China as well as bringing them back into Burma with a flow of population, machines, materials, money and military forces along this corridor.  Officially, the whole deal with China was Than Shwe’s personal interest; not merely any benefits for the nation. Thus, it’s been named as “(Than) Shwe Gas Project”.

(all pictures can be enlarged to view by clicking on it) 

Now, Than Shwe’s streamlined with current Burmese government whom he has selected/elected, to wipe out Kachins who’ve lived there forever at the Chinese border region to lay the gas pipelines to China.   What a shame!  At Than Shwe’s command, current Burmese government and military is waging a war against Kachins, its own national ethnic minority for the Chinese favor.   It is also evident in Kyauklpyu, the Burmese government and military is assisting in land confiscations for Chinese who came to work for (Than) Shwe Gas Project.  One of the main reasons for military built up at Ann is for (Than) Shwe Gas Project too.  The military will use force as necessary to put the pipeline corridor in place through the Ann Pass, and making sure of what Chinese needed in Kyaukphyu.  

As for all nationalities of Burma, present killings in Kachin hills, and land confiscations in Kyaukpyu (Arkan) cannot be considered as isolated local issues.  It is a national issue, no less serious than Myitsone Dam issue.  It’s time to rise up to scrap the (Than) Shwe Gas Project.  

If the people of Burma would let go of this (Than) Shwe Gas Project by the government now, the next generations of population of Burma will become Chinese, and Burma will most likely to become a province of the Republic of China.  Most chillingly, Chinese-Burmese children in the next generations will be paying homage to Than Shwe’s statue as one of the loyal warriors of China in Beijing’s Tienanmen Square.  
Stop (Than) Shwe Gas Project, immediately.    
/// end

Posted on November 2, 2011 by winners’ circle.
TO BE CONTINUED … with ‘airfield at Coco Island’


  1. Win, Wonderful to see some of the things you are doing as Adjunct Faculty at SDSU Viz Center, terrific use of remote sensing to benefit Myanmar!

  2. Great work!!! Thank you.
    Also please add some militar structures if possible.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.