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BurmaNet News September 11

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"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: September 11, 1995
Issue #223

Noted In Passing:
Khin Nyunt expressed the belief that the SLORC had broad public
support, and observed that the Burmese people smile a lot. I said
that it has been my experience, in a lifetime of studying,
repressive societies, that dictators often delude themselves into
believing they have popular support, but that people often smile
not because they are happy, but because they are afraid. The
future of Burma must be built on hope, not fear. - US Ambassador
to the UN, Madeleine Albright


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                   Statement of Madeleine K. Albright
              United Sates Ambassador to the United Nations
                            September 9, 1995

I m pleased I was able to visit Burma on my trip to the region.
During, my visit, I had meetings with LTG Khin Nyunt, a key
member of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), U
Ohn Gyaw, the Foreign Minister, and representatives of United
Nations agencies active in the country. I was also honored to be
hosted at a breakfast by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize Winner
and the leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement.

In all my meetings, I affirmed the strong support of the United
States for progress towards genuine freedom and democracy in
Burma and respect for human rights of the Burmese people. While
welcoming the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and some other
political prisoners, I said that fundamental change in U.S.
policy towards Burma would depend on fundamental change in the
SLORC's treatment of the Burmese people. Towards this end, I
urged SLORC officials to begin a meaningful dialogue with Aung
San Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders for the purpose of
reconciliation and broadening the space for political discussion
within the country.

In my two- hour meeting with Gen. Khin Nyunt, I delivered a tough
message, telling him that his country's isolation would only
deepen unless concrete steps towards political freedom were
taken. I urged the SLORC to choose the path of true democracy,
rather than continued repression and dictatorial control. I said
that the democratic path may seem harder and more risky, but a
bright future for Burma cannot be shaped without the
participation of the Burmese people.

I urged repeatedly that a dialogue be initiated with Aung San Suu
Kyi and did not accept Khin Nyunt's characterization of the
National Convention as a meaningful process for dialogue. In this
regard, we were modestly encouraged to hear that the SLORC is now
considering the possibility of engaging in a political dialogue
with Aung San Suu Kyi. But my government does not believe that
such a dialogue should be delayed any longer. As Aung San Suu Kyi
put it later, "the sooner the dialogue begins the better."

Khin Nyunt expressed the belief that the SLORC had broad public
support, and observed that the Burmese people smile a lot. I said
that it has been my experience, in a lifetime of studying,
repressive societies, that dictators often delude themselves into
believing they have popular support, but that people often smile
not because they are happy, but because they are afraid. The
future of Burma must be built on hope, not fear.

During the meeting, I also stressed, more generally, U.S. concern
with respect to human rights, including the need for the further
release of political prisoners, an end to the attacks on ethnic
minorities, an end to forced labor and forced porterage, and the
value of allowing the International Committee of Red Cross to
visit prisons within the country.

In the areas of counter-narcotics, I noted the steps taken by the
SLORC, including cooperation with U.S. on customs training and
conducting opium yield surveys. But I also urged that government
step up efforts to eliminate opium cultivation and trafficking.

I was particularly pleased to exchange views on the situation in
Burma with Aung San Suu Kyi, in her role as representative of
democratic forces in is country. Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed the
news of my straightforward discussion with Khin Nyunt on the
importance of beginning a dialogue with those forces as the first
step to bringing the country back to the community of democratic
nations. She reiterated to me her well-known readiness to begin
that dialogue quickly. The international community did not call
for her release from house arrest simply so that the gate to her
compound could be opened and friends could visit. It was on the
assumption that she would then be allowed to begin work on the
goals that she has so bravely pursued as representative of the
democratic opposition.

We also discussed the continued importance of keeping the
attention of the international community focused on the situation
in Burma. We agreed on the particular importance, as the 50th
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opens this month, that the
resolution on the situation on human rights in Burma reflect
accurately the situation on the ground here. The government's
release of Aung San Suu Kyi was just one of many steps the UNGA
called on the government to take. It is now time to take the many
other steps necessary to restore democracy in accordance with the
will of the people as expressed in the democratic elections held
in 1990. I promised Aung San Suu Kyi that I would work toward
that goal upon my return to New York.

In summary, I believe this was a successful visit in making fully
clear America's position with respect to the future of our
relations with Burma. America stands ready to develop friendly
and constructive relations with the Burmese government, but that
can occur when and only when fundamental progress towards
democracy and respect for basic for human rights is achieved. The
SLORC faces a choice between its present isolation and
reintegration into the international community. As a result of my
visit, the SLORC leadership can have no doubt about what it must
do. The choice is theirs.

Place: Oriental Hotel, Bangkok
Date : September 9, 1995

(Typing: contributed by the ABSDF-MTZ)
September 10, 1995  (abridged)

THE Slorc has for the first time said it is considering
opening a political dialogue with pro-democracy leader Aung
San Suu Kyi, but only after "internal consultations" within
its leadership.

The United States' Ambassador to the United Nations
Madeleine Albright, on two day official visit to Burma, said
yesterday that powerful  military Lt Gen Khin Nyunt had
informed her of this during two hours of talks.

"They are considering such a dialogue but it is difficult to
understand the Slorc's decision making process. Khin Nyunt
said it will come after leadership," said Mrs Albright at a
news conference in Bangkok.

"In this regard, we were modestly encouraged to hear that the
Slorc is now considering the possibility of engaging in a
political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi," Mrs Albright said,
"but my government does not believe such a dialogue should be
delayed any longer," she added. "As Aung San Suu Kyi put it
later, "the sooner the dialogue begins, the better."

Mrs Suu Kyi, who has been released from house arrest for two
months, has already said she is ready to open a dialogue with
the military junta and has called for national recon-

Mrs Albright said she strongly doubted whether the Burmese
people were able to participate in the process of demo-
cratisation in a meaningful way through the so-called
National Convention, as claimed by the Slorc leader.

"I urged the Slorc to choose the path of true democracy,
rather than continued repression and dictatorial control,"
she told an earlier news conference at Rangoon airport.

She said the thought Burmese military and opposition leaders
were "quite far apart" regarding their views on what democracy
means. "but we believe that if they begin to have a direct
dialogue... perhaps some of the differences can be worked

On the Japanese government's decision to resume official
assistance to Burma following the release of Mrs Suu Kyi, the
envoy said the latter's release was not enough and that for
now, applying pressure was a better approach in dealing with
the Slorc.

Mrs Albright is the highest ranking US envoy to visit Burma
since the military took over in 1988. She said her visit had
two primary objectives: to call for democratisation and
support the role of Mrs Suu Kyi as a pro-democracy leader.

Narcotics were also on the agenda. The envoy said she had
noted the steps taken by the Slorc, including cooperation
with the US on customs training and the conducting of an
opium yield survey, but urged them to step up efforts to
eliminate opium cultivation. (BP$TN)


September 10, 1995

BURMESE authorities and a private Singaporean firm signed a
contract on Thursday in Rangoon to build more cargo terminals
in Burma, official Burmese radio reported.

The contract was signed by Burma's Port Authority and
Singapore's TNT Holding Pte Ltd, and the ceremony was
presided over by Lt Gen Tin Oo, the Slorc second secretary.

The terminal will be built at the Thilawar Container Port in
Syriam, located east of Rangoon, in an area planned to become
an economic zone. But it neither mentioned the quantity nor cost 
of the project.

TNT and Burmese authorities signed a similar agreement
earlier this year to build two cargo terminals for the same port.

Singapore is one of the major investors in Burma, with current
in vestments of nearly $300 million. (TN)



SPECIAL Branch police have been keeping a close watch on a
group of exile Burmese students who prefer violent means to
oppose Rangoon, Special Branch Bureau commissioner Veera
Visuthakul said yesterday.

Pol Lt Gen Veera made the comment in the wake of police
reports that Burmese dissident students would possibly engage
in violent means to oppose the Rangoon government in order to
push for political reform following the release of Burma pro-
democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

If their movements are not within the framework of Thai law,
Special Branch police will take action against those
students, the commissioner warned.

"Regardless of whether they are Burmese or other nationals,
they are not allowed to use our territory to stir up political
trouble against their government" stressed Pol Lt Gen Veera.

The All Burma Basic Education Student's Union (ABBESU) and
Action Group for Human Right in Burma (AGHRB), which
reportedly headed the groups, would call on a meeting with
their allies on Sep 17, before staging a protest.

Commenting on this matter, a leading Burmese student, who
declined to be named, said there are different views on the
protest strategy among the Overseas National Students'
Organization (ONSOB) and the AGHRB. (BP)


September 10, 1995

BURMESE forces are expecting Khun Sa's MTA to try to sabotage
celebrations of the anniversary of King Burengnong in

Several senior Burmese officers, including the deputy
commander-in-chief Gen Maung Aye will be at the Sep 15 event,
to which Thai officers and officials in Chiang Rai have also
been invited.

Burmese authorities are unlikely to reopen the Mae Sai border
to let Thais in due to fears that Khun Sa's men might sneak
into Tachilek to carry out attacks, sources said.

Burmese troops and MTA rebels have clashed at Doi Pa Daeng,
25 kilometres south of Tachilek.

Early this week, rebels ambushed a Burmese unit in Ban Wiang
Kan, near Tachilek, killing about 10 soldiers. (BP)

September 10, 1995   (slightly abridged)

THE recent killing of three Burmese employed by a Thai
fishing trawler has caused already sour relations between
Thailand and Burma spoil further.

The real issue at stake, however, has been on waiting in the
dark for some time. This is the issue of Burmese labourers in
Thailand. The number of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand
has been estimated by different government agencies at
somewhere between 300,000-500,000.

Thailand is a transitional economy, experiencing a
metamorphosis from being a labour exporter to a labour
importer, but at present practise both. Thai workers still
travel to Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei in
search of profit while Burmese, Indochinese, Chinese and
South Asians travel to Thailand to do the same.

Burmese workers have come to Thailand to take the dirty,
demanding and dangerous jobs that the Thai no longer wish to
undertake. Such tasks include factory work, construction,
fishing and prostitution. Most workers are illegal immigrants
and receive salaries, on average, much lower than what a Thai
labourer doing the same task would receive.

Because of economic disparities, the Burmese in turn, are
willing to take the position as they will receive a
considerably higher salary than what is available at home.
Burmese workers earn a salary at least an estimated three
times higher in Thailand. In Rangoon, this has been a magnet
for Burmese from all over Burma, not just the border area.

Ranong is a unique border town in that it lies in an area
free of combat, unlike Mae Sai or Mae Sot in the North. It is
thus, much safer and convenient for migrants from Rangoon or
Mandalay to travel to Victoria Point and cross into Thailand
than it would be for them to attempt the same passage further

The problem arises from the fact that these workers, because
of their illegal status, are denied, or at least uninformed
of, their rights under Thai law. Others may be afraid to
complain for fear of being reported and then deported or
imprisoned. As a result of these circumstances, workers are
vulnerable to abuse.

It was an extreme manifestation of this abuse that led to the
entirety of the Thai-Burmese border being closed to official
trade. Certainly, the perpetrators must have felt a sense of
betrayal had snitched in them; there are engough Thai sailors
in Burmese prisons to warrant concern.

By no means,through, did the group have the right to take
life or even to physically abuse the Burmese crew.

Thailand is the country that has been hurt most by this
action. The closing of the border to commercial trade
probably does not affect the Burmese much. They can purchase
consumer goods elsewhere and there would certainly be other
investors ready to swoop and claim the raw materials Thailand

Some may ask then, if the Burmese are causing Thailand such
problems, why not remove them? The answer is that the Thai
border economies are irrevocably tied to cheap labour from
their neighbour. To remove the Burmese would be economically
and politically disastrous.

There are moves to legalise migrant labour by providing work
permits for specific tasks, time periods and locations along
the Burmese border. The problem has been, not with the Thai
side, but with the Burmese. To receive a permit a person must
have the proper travel documents. The Slorc has refused to
issue these; therefore, the majority of workers crossing into
Thailand are illegal immigrants and emigrants.

It is also unlikely the illegal nature of Burmese migrant
labour to Thailand will be remedied soon. In fact, the
workers  status is also beneficial to the Thais- they get
cheap labour and need nor worry about providing benefits and

In this light, Thai business should take heed to care for its
valuable commodity lest a sequence of events that forces Thai
merchants to suffer occur again.

Though relations at present are poor, they will change and
improve in the near future as the Slorc needs capital from
whatever source possible. This is perhaps merely a display of
sovereignty. What will not change in the near future through,
is Thai reliance on Burmese labour and Thai interest in
Burmese markets.

Gary Risser is a research fellow at the Asian Research Centre
for Migration of the Institute of Asian Studies, Chula-
longkorn University. The views expressed in the article are
his own. (BP)

September 9, 1995        Mae Sot, Tak

THE provincial authorities here have insisted that shop houses
and stalls which encroach onto the Moei River be removed.
The presence of the shop houses has caused the Burmese
authorities on Wednesday and demanded that the order for the
removal of the shop-houses be executed promptly, a source

An appeal by merchants for a relaxation of the order so that
they might carry on doing business there for another year went
unheeded. The Interior Ministry issued the order two months ago,
requiring that the relocation be completed by July 7.

Earlier in June, Burma told Thailand's Highways Department to
suspend construction of the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge
over the river linking Mae Sot and Myawaddy.
It demanded the removal of all buildings before talks were
held to complete the construction of the bridge.

According to the Chief of the Tak Provincial Office, Vinij
Chantaropas, the relocation is necessary since Article 7 of
the Land and Act prohibits encroachment on public property.