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BurmaNet News September 23, 1995

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The BurmaNet News: September 23, 1995

Noted in Passing:
Torture has been routine in Myanmar's prisons for many years,
and has increased dramatically since the imprisonment of
thousands of political prisoners beginning in 1988. - Amnesty Inter-


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[Feel free to suggest more areas of coverage]
September, 1995   by Nicholas Greenwood

The following is a response from Nicholas Greenwood, a travel writer and
Burma activist to Wilhelm Klein, the author of the Insight Guide to
Myanmar.  Mr. Klein denies the use of slave labor in SLORC's economic
projects.  (Also see "Burma in Chains: U.S. Corporations profit from Slave
Labor" by Brad Miller in October 1995 issue of the Progressive Magazine.
It's already on the Net.)

"I am ...aware of prisoner's labor, but this I cannot see as slave labor,
since it is a pattern found all around the world": anti-Semitism is found
all around the world, does that makes it acceptable?

"... some groups ...said that slave labor has been used for the gas
pipeline work...this work has not even started.": I presume that Mr. Klein
has therefore personally inspected the gas pipeline.  I also presume that
when the work does start, Mr. Klein will have no objections to the use of
slave labor in its construction.

"...what I found was that villages have been ordered to supply stones and
other construction materials free of charge and a certain amount of people
of each village had to work unpaid on stretches within their district.  The
workers I talked to, saw this as the usual way roads are built in Myanmar
and they are not aware of a different way of organizing it.  In their own
words it has always been so and they were happy  to get some infrastructure
to get their goods to the market."  In the Middle Ages in England we used
to burn witches at the stake--it had always been so--but in 1995 we no
longer burn them.

These are the recent words of the infamous Austrian-born but German-based
Wilhelm Klein, author of, amongst other SLORC-friendly publications, the
Insight Guide to Myanmar (not Burma).

Klein is well-known amongst fellow Burma travel writers for his tacit
support of and connivance with Burma's detested military dictatorship, the
State Law and Order Restoration Council.  For it was only by collaborating
(quite willingly it must be said) with the government bodies such as
Tourist Burma (as was)--and now Myanmar Travels & Tours (MTT)--that Klein
(and fellow photographer, the Frankfurt-born Guenter Pfannmueller) obtained
permission to visit many of Burma's then off-limits areas.  This
permission, however, was not granted without a catch--Klein's books had to
be military-friendly, had to gloss over the events of 1988, give limited
coverage to the Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and not to be
overly critical of butcher Ne Win and his misguided socialist and
subsequent fascist policies.  Instead, the books were to present the
smiling, friendly face of Burma and its repressed people, lots of glossy
photos, nostalgic tales of Kipling, Burma girls a-settin' and whackin'
white cheroots.  Any mention of human rights abuses--and other foolish
Western concepts--was strictly taboo.

It is alleged that Klein (and colleague Pfannmueller) were richly rewarded
by SLORC on recent visits to, amongst other places, Mergui.  A leading
local SLORC official (and a rare critic of the military regime), who for
obvious reasons must remain anonymous, told me that Klein and Pfannmueller
had received the "red carpet treatment" in Mergui, had a government boat
laid on free charge to transport them around the archipelago and were paid
US$1,000 per day to present the "right image" of Myanmar to the Western

Whether these allegations are true is something to which only Klein and the
SLORC are privy, but on perusing the Insight Guide to Myanmar and the more
recently published glossy coffee-table book Burma The Golden, Klein's tacit
support of the SLORC is obvious.   In Klein's introduction to Burma The
Golden, the only mention of the military's brutal massacres of 1988 appears
in the brief phrase "After the political turmoil of 1988".  Klein goes on
to say: " With the new constitution implemented, one which is supposed to
be similar to the Indonesian one, and an abated civil war, yet untouched
regions will be opened to visitors".

On turning to the end of the book (page 161), one reads: "Both Pfannmueller
and Klein were fortunate in the assistance of Myanmar Travels & Tours."

In compiling his own Guide to Burma (and the hardback edition Burma Then
and Now), this writer neither sought nor employed the assistance of MTT.
Wherever possible he used the services of private, non-SLORC-operatives and
still managed to reach more destinations than Klein.  And I would certainly
not have contemplated giving MTT an acknowledgement in any segment of my

September 22, 1995                             Agence France-Presse

AMNESTY International today accused Burma's military authorities
of increasingly using torture against both political and criminal
detainees who are held in "appalling conditions".

"Torture has been routine in Myanmar's prisons for many years,
and has increased dramatically since the imprisonment of
thousands of political prisoners beginning in 1988," the London-
based human rights group said, using the official title for

More than 1,300 prisoners convicted of criminal offences were
reported to have died in three of nine known labour camps around
the country, where they were "subjected to even worse treatment
than political prisoners", it said.

In a report received here, the group urged Burma to halt such
practices immediately, allow international monitoring of its
prisons and conduct a prompt and thorough enquiry to bring those
responsible to justice.

It based the report on recently received "new information about
appalling conditions in labour camps and prisons" in Burma,
involving torture, prolonged shackling, lack of proper medical
care and insufficient food.

" Torture techniques, which include beatings sometimes to the
point of unconsciousness, being forced to crawl over sharp stones
and being held in the hot sun for prolonged periods, are used by
[Burma's] security forces to punish and intimidate prisoners,"
the organization said.

It estimated that thousands of political prisoners were still
held in Burma, including at least 800 at Insein Prison the
country's largest, near Rangoon. At least 15 had died in custody
since 1988, it added.

Political prisoners were subject to interrogation at any time of
the day or night and faced stiff punishment for breaking any of
the "arbitrary and harsh" prison rules.

One prisoner "was kept in shackles in the 'police-dog cells'
[where dogs were normally kept] for two months because he was
found with a piece of paper," the report said.


Wednesday, September 20, 1995

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, being a 
native of Czechoslovakia, displays a sure sense of the proper way to 
converse with dictators. An example was her two- hour chat in Rangoon 
with Gen. Khin Nyunt, a capo of the ruling junta in Burma, the State Law 
and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC.

Telling a preposterous lie, of the sort common among tyrants wielding 
absolute power, Khin Nyunt assured Albright that SLORC has "broad 
popular support" and offered as proof of this fib the fact that "the 
Burmese people smile a lot."

Albright responded that it had been her 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."

In 1990, when Burmese were able to vote, they gave 80 percent of 
Parliament's seats to the  National League for Democracy, the party of 
Aung San Sun Kyi, who had been placed under house arrest in 1989.  The 
junta ignored the election and conducted a war against society that 
exceeded the excesses of China's Tiananmen Square.  The generals 
released Suu Kyi this summer because they know that the people despise 
them and that their only hope for stability lies in dialogue with her.

They were also compelled to yield to outside pressure because of an 
overwhelming foreign debt of $5.5 billion, debt service of $1 billion, 
and a U.S. veto on loans from the World Bank. Albright told SLORC it had 
to respect human rights and enter a political dialogue with Suu Kyi, who 
won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. But Washington also needs to insist on 
security guarantees for Suu Kyi and her fellow democrats; to back 
Albright's tough words with penalties such as an executive order against 
investment in Burma; and to press Japan not to resume development aid 
until Burma's elected government is restored.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could do its part by inviting 
Albright to testify about her chat with the Burmese Godfather.

September 18, 1995 

		815, 15th Street N.W., Suite 910, Washington D.C., 20005
		Tel: 202-3937342, Fax: 202-3937343

Seven years have passed since the Burmese military brutally cracked down on
the nationwide popular democracy movement and seized the state power against
 the will of the people.  Despite the massacre and sustained persecution of democracy 
activists, aspirations for democracy and human rights remain as strong as ever 
among the people. With seven years of  struggle behind it, the Burmese democracy 
movement has matured and is getting stronger with time. 

The morale of the democratic movement has also been greatly boosted by the 
recent release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who despite spending six years of 
house arrest, is as determined as ever to bring democracy to the motherland.  
Every individual and organization in the democratic movement have expressed 
their warm welcome to her return to politics and to her leadership in the second 
struggle for independence of Burma.  

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release only marks the beginning of another round of 
struggle and hence the democracy movement cannot afford to let its guard down. 
This is because apart from her release, nothing else has changed.  

SLORC, until now, has not responded to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's offer of a
 dialogue, and people, under laws and orders designed to serve the SLORC, 
are still being intimidated and restricted from freely participating in the 
political process.  Gross human rights violations, such as porterage and
 forced labor, are continuing throughout the country. Thousands of 
political prisoners continue to languish in prisons under horrible 
conditions, and  SLORC's national convention to legitimize the leading role 
of the military in the future political life of Burma is still in progress.  The 
policy of armed confrontation is still being pursued against the ethnic 
people and the Karenni National Progressive Party became a victim to 
this  policy recently when SLORC breached its own cease-fire agreement 
and attacked the Karenni people. 

The NCGUB therefore takes the opportunity of this sad September day to 
call on all the patriotic forces in and out of Burma to draw strength from the
 memory of those who had given up their lives for the cause of democracy 
and to redouble their efforts to end militarism in Burma.  The democratic 
movement needs to prepare itself with courage, perseverance and wisdom
 to overcome the final obstacles to democracy.  It is the historic duty of all 
the citizens of Burma  to join in this noble cause, because, as Daw Aung San 
Suu Kyi has said, the struggle for democracy and human rights is also a 
struggle for human life and dignity. 

The NCGUB also wishes to call on the international community to realize the 
critical role it plays at this phase.  Opportunities are open to the international 
community, and given the right action, the long-sought for comprehensive 
political settlement in Burma will be achieved without fail. Any hesitation in
 its action will only give  SLORC a tactical advantage and diminish the chances
 for a dialogue for national reconciliation.

These are the concrete steps the international community can take to help Burma :

(1)	Strengthen the personal safety and freedom of Daw Aung San 	Suu Kyi:  

a)	ambassadors accredited to Burma visit her regularly, 
b)	official delegations visit her routinely, and 
c)	eminent persons visit her at regular intervals.

(2)	Increase the support for the organizing work of the Burmese 		
	democracy movement at grassroots level; 

(3)	Step up the mediation efforts by the UN Secretary-General  

a)	support strong resolutions at the UNGA and Human Rights Commission, 
b)	urge governments to fully back the efforts of the UN Secretary-General 
c)	ensure all private mediation efforts complement those of the United Nations 
d)	lobby on behalf of the Burmese people at the United Nations 
(4)	Impose arms embargo and trade sanctions against Burma.

With the growing movement for democracy at home and an increasingly coordinated 
pressure by the international community overseas, we expect to see democracy and 
human rights come to Burma without fail. 

September 21, 1995  By Mark Baker

SINGAPORE, Wednesday: A key member of Burma's military leadership has 
rejected a proposed dialogue with the country's democracy leader, Ms Aung 
San Suu Kyi, and declared the regime is pushing ahead with a new 
constitution which will entrench the army's grip power.

The Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, Mr David 
Abel, said talks with Ms Suu Kyi, who was freed two months ago after 
spending six years under house arrest, would make no difference to 
Burma's future.

"Dialogue is not the final solution," said Mr Abel, who is attending a 
regional economic summit here. "There has been a dialogue, in the future
 there can be dialogue, but that doesn't resolve the issues."

The US and other Western governments, including Australia, have demanded 
substantive dialogue between Ms Suu Kyi and the military as a condition 
for resuming international aid and development loans.

But Mr Abel made it clear a compromise on political reform is unlikely. 
He said a national convention backed by the military was close to 
ratifying the new Constitution, which will reserve a quarter of 
parliamentary seats for military personnel and ensure the head of state 
is a former army officer.

The convention, due to resume on October 24, had already agreed on the  
15 main chapter headings of the Constitution, and the 104 basic points to 
be included, he said.

Mr Abel said the regime was hopeful of a resumption of loans from the 
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. "In the meantime we can 
carry on."

He said there had already been dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi - an apparent 
reference to informal contacts between her and General Khin Nyunt soon 
after her release.

 September 15, 1995

   SINGAPORE, Sept. 15 (UPI) _ European and Asian business
leaders will meet next week in hopes of improving business ties
between the two economically powerful regions.
   The conference will focus on financial issues, intellectual
property rights, environmental concerns, human resources,
stability and security and the role of the private sector in
helping to develop national infrastructure, organizers said.
   The fourth annual Europe-East Asia Economic Summit, which
begins Wednesday, is organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF),
a non-profit group based in Switzerland. About 500 business
people are expected to participate.
   The forum will include a special seminar on Burma. Burmese
government and trade officials will meet with European and other
Asian officials to discuss business opportunities in the formerly
closed nation. 
   Talks also will focus on economic development in the Mekong
River area, which is shared by Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia
and China, according to Tommy Koh, Singapore's ambassador-at-
large and chairman of the summit steering committee.
   Heads of state at the meeting will include Singapore's Prime
Minister Goh Chok Tong and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew,
Indonesia's President Suharto, Norway's Prime Minister Gro Harlem
Brundtland, South Korea's Prime Minster Lee Hong Koo and
Cambodia's First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
   Jeffrey Garten, a U.S. Commerce undersecretary, and Australian
Foreign Minister Gareth Evans also are scheduled to attend.
   The World Economic Forum was founded in 1971 ``to bring the
business community, governments and academicians,'' said WEF
director Colette Mathur.
   Mathur said the WEF placed a heavy emphasis on Europe-Asia
economic ties.
   ``With the beginning of APEC (the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum), we thought Europe would be a little left out
of this great grouping,'' Mathur said.
   ``Europeans would like to be sure that they are treated on an
equal basis with our American friends or competitors,'' in the
Asia-Pacific trade arena, she said.
   Mathur said Burma's attendance at the conference was
particularly exciting to participants from the business world.
 ``Every year we choose a country that is not fully open _ last
year it was Vietnam,'' she said.

 September 20, 1995   (ADDS ministers comments at news conference)
   SINGAPORE, Sept 20 (AFP) - A Burmese junta leader appealed
here Wednesday  for more foreign investment in his country as it
presses ahead with market reforms and vowed that national
reconciliation was in the works.
   Brigadier General David Abel, the minister for national
planning and economic development, told a seminar for Asian and
European businessmen that the junta had approved three billion
dollars in foreign investment.
   The junta, known as the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), enacted a foreign investment law shortly after
taking power in 1988, crushing  a democracy movement in the
backward but resource-rich Southeast Asian nation.
   It boosted its diplomatic image last July when it freed
popular opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San
Suu Kyi from house arrest, but remains under international
pressure to carry out democratic reforms.
   Speaking at a news conference after the seminar, hosted by the
Geneva-based World Economic Forum, Abel said the SLORC had
achieved "90  percent" of its political objectives including
peace, security and stability,  and hoped to attain "national
reconciliation" as well.
   He said progress had been achieved in framing a new
constitution and vowed that "very soon" a meeting will be
convened to complete the work.
   Asked when the junta would hold a dialogue with Aung San Suu
Kyi, he replied that it was a "very hard question for me to
answer," saying vaguely that "legal procedures" will have to be
   In a seminar paper, Abel said Burma had approved slightly more
than three billion dollars in foreign investment since the junta
took power. This involves 157 projects, with nearly half the
funds, 1.44 billion dollars, going into oil and gas.
   "What is really needed for further development is the influx
of capital and technology in order to reap the most effective
benefit of its endowment in natural and human resources," he said
in the paper on "golden opportunities" in Burma, renamed Myanmar
by the junta. 
   "This is the most opportune time to do business in Myanmar,
making best use of its abundant resources for mutual benefits,"
Abel said.
   Figures supplied by Abel showed the second biggest investment
area after oil and gas was hotel and tourism, with 31 projects
totalling 604 million dollars.
   Other major investment sectors were fisheries, with 252
million dollars, real estate with 224 million dollars and mining
with 192 million dollars. 

September 22, 1995

BURMA is expected to keep its territorial waters off-limits to
Thai fishermen until Thailand can prove that it will sincerely
try to prevent fishing agreement violations by Thai fishing
boats, Fisheries Department Chief Plodprasob Surasawadee said.

Mr Plodprasop said he had received a tip from the Indonesian
Fishery Department that the Burmese government still wanted to
pursue their fishing business investment with Thailand if the
Banharn government can give an assurance that there will be no
more violations of the agreement.

The Burmese stand was disclosed by the chief of the Burmese
Fisheries Department to his Indonesian counterpart.
The Burmese official was quoted as saying that his government
would like to restore the relationship with the Thai government
if it could come up with effective measures.

Rangoon declared its territorial waters off-limit to Thai fishing
boats after a group of Thai fishermen brutally beat to death
three Burmese crewmen and dumped their bodies into the sea last

The incident took place allegedly after the Burmese crew who had
been hired to work on a Thai fishing trawler informed the Burmese
authority that Thai fishing boats had not delivered the full fish
catch as required under a joint fishing agreement with Burma.

He added his department had proposed to an ad-hoc committee
chaired by the Defence Minister on Monday that the Fishery
Department would issue a regulation requiring tougher
qualifications of fishing companies wishing to operate in Burmese

Typed by the Research Department of the ABSDF {MTZ}  22.9.95