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Weekly summary

 Burma Issues, a Bangkok-based organization, maintains a documentation
center that archives a wide variety of materials (newspaper clippings,
reports, statements, press releases, books, videos, etc.) related to
Burma.  We currently have over 12,000 sources in our archives.  Every week
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been used within the organization to keep our volunteers and friends
up-to-date on current developments. Each article is followed by an
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Burma Issues
PO Box 1076
Silom Post Office
Bangkok 10504

Recent News Items & Other BurmaDoc Entries: 
4 April to 10 April 1997

Themes: reports from the border; religious unrest; drug update; regional
relations; foreign investment  and  joint ventures; women and children;
recent unrest; papers presented to the 53rd Session of the UN Commission
on Human Rights, Geneva; analysis and editorials; general interest.

Reports from the border

A Karen refugee was killed and another injured by Burmese soldiers who
crossed the border onto Thai soil in Phop Phra district on April 5 to
harass refugees.  Some 40 other refugees were forced to return to Burma.
The 36th Border Patrol Police Unit rushed to the scene after being alerted
about the incident.  On the same day, 7 armed members of an unidentified
gang crossed the border at Ban Rim Moei in Tambon Tha Sai Luad in Mae Sot
district and clashed with a Thai patrol for about 5 minutes before
retreating to Burma.  BP970405 OA/10G/034

Officials warned villagers in Pang Ma Pha district to avoid crossing the
border after Burmese soldiers arrested 5 villagers from Ban Ya Pha Nhae on
charges of illegal entry into the country.  A border source disclosed that
many amphetamine factories have been opened up in Burma opposite the
district run by Chinese Haw, Burmese and Thai drug traders about 25-30 kms
from the border.  BP970405 OA/4AF/003

Local authorities have asked their Burmese counterparts in Myawaddy to
investigate recent border incursions by armed men who attacked Karen
refugees in Thai territory.  BP970408 OA/9J/014

Burma has proposed marking the Moei River border with Thailand with marker
posts to help clarify where the border is during the rainy season - they
would be put up beneath the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge linking Mae Sot
district with Myawaddy in Burma.  The Tak governor said there was no
objection with the proposal.  BP970410 OA/9J/015

KNU joint first general secretary, Mahn Sha, said junta troops have
torched 30 villages in the KNU's 5th Brigade area, including rice supplies
as they tried to flush out rebel guerillas in eastern Burma.  Mahn Sha
said that junta forces were still conducting operations throughout all KNU
areas, amid continuing clashes with KNU guerillas.  The KNU has lost
control of the enclaves it formerly held in its 6th and 4th Brigade areas
in the latest offensive which started nearly 2 months ago.  An estimated
20,000 Karens have fled to Thailand.  BP970408 OA/12FA/031

Drug Update

Heroin factories in the Golden Triangle are flourishing under the
direction of Khun Sa's long-time rivals, ethnic United Wa State Army
(UWSA), a splinter group of the Burmese Communist Party in the Shan state
which maintains a ceasefire with SLORC. Khun Sa is believed by anti-drug
officials to be living in luxury in Rangoon.  Burma has said he will not
be extradited.  BP970404 OA/10J/035

A new project to control the chemicals used in the manufacture of drugs is
being undertaken by officials and the UN International Drug Control
Programmes (UNDCP).  Burma has a law controlling some chemicals but should
be revised to include others more relevant to the region.  BP970404

Regional Relations

Thailand will fully support China's bid to become a member of the WTO.
This would benefit Thailand because China would have to make its market
more open to imports.  Mr Narongchai, the commerce minister, said the
relationship between China and Asean countries would take a leap forward
after Burma and Laos became members of the regional group as Asean would
have its border adjacent to China for the first time in history.  BP970404

Chavalit expressed confidence that China and Vietnam will resolve their
differences peacefully through the creation of a Joint Authority to solve
disputes over areas in the South China Sea.  As for Chinese-Burmese
relations, Chavalit said it was normal for China to be concerned about
Burma but that it would have no impact on Thailand. 'Nonetheless, we will
not interfer in the internal affairs of other countries'.  BP970404

Thailand and Laos will sign a rail transport agreement today that could
inject new life into plans for easier rail travel and transport between
SEA amd southern China.  Other possible links may be between Thailand and
Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, and between Laos and Vietnam.  BP970404

The Light of Myanmar reports that Burma's economic planners are aiming for
a 6.4% growth rate in the 1997-8 financial year.

Stephen Leong from Malaysia's Institute of Strategic and International
Studies, believes that Asean has the ability to resolve conflicts in the
region if it uses its instrument, the Asean Regional Forum (ARF).  He said
it was vital for Asean to engage in political and security issues in
northeast Asia with the aim of ensuring peace and stability in the area.
However, it needs the support of the major powers in the region, in
particular the US and China.  The ARF was created in 1994 with the view
that Asean should intensify it external dialogue on political and security
matters.  However, its basic rule is to avoid contentious issues.
TN970404 OA/9CAA/037

Laos plans to upgrade its checkpoint at Chong Mek to international level
by the end of the year in anticipation of obtaining full membership to
Asean in July.  It has also opened an anti-narcotics office in the heart
of the Golden Triangle drug zone to combat opium cultivation and rising
production in amphetamines.  Laos is the 3rd largest opium producing
nation behind Afghanistan and Burma.  Opium production increased 11% last
year which is blamed on disruption of the opium supply in Burma following
the surrender of Khun Sa.  TN970405 OA/9CAA/038

Profile on Bhichai Rattakul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, who has formed a working committee to study Thai-Burmese
relations when Rangoon becomes a member of Asean and how the human rights
situation there is expected to develop.  A team of qualified MPs, most of
them from the Democrat Party, make up the panel.  The results of the
studies will be submitted to the government.  The work of the committee is
being coordinated with the Foreign Ministry.  BP970407 OA/9CA/036

Foreign ministers of Asean will meet informally in Kuala Lumpur in May to
decide whether Cambodia, Laos and Burma will be admitted to the grouping
at a formal meeting two months later.  The 7 Asean members will put
forward their decisions and the reasons behind them at a meeting on May
31.  If one of the applicants is rejected, the other two will not be able
to join.  The results will be made known.  Secretariat officials and
member countries will make fact-finding trips to the 3 countries to assess
their preparations for the joining.  Western countries have criticised
Asean for wanting to reach their goal of including all 10 SEA countries
into the forum ignoring the volatile situation in Burma.  Some Western
countries have imposed diplomatic sanctions against Burma in opposition to
the country's human rights violation and its suppression of the
pro-democracy movement.  TN970408 OA/9CAA/039

Relations with US and Europe

A US embassy report last year painted a bleak picture of Burma's economy,
with soaring deficits, declining foreign investment, rampant military
spending and rising debt and reliance on illicit drug profits.  Asian Wall
Street Journal  OA/4AD/008

The junta dismissed a decision by the EU to stop giving Burma concessional
trade privileges, saying the move would not hurt its economy.  The EU on
March 24 stripped Burma of trading privileges in reaction to reports that
it had used forced labour to help boost exports.  BP/Reuters970404

Human Rights Watch Asia said in a statement that a group of top American
comedians had signed letters sent to top Burmese military government
officials urging the release of  Par Par  Lay, a Burmese comedian who was
imprisoned after a political performance last year.  HRWA said it had
received information that  Par Par  Lay had been singled out for
particularly brutal treatment at the labour camp, he was weak and
seriously ill, and was shackled with another comedian to an iron bar.
TN970410 OA/11B/002

Foreign Investment and Joint Ventures	

Companies, mostly from the pacific rim, are keen to takeover Unocal Corp's
huge Yadana gas stake in Burma if the Californian energy concern is forced
to abandon its holding ie., if proposed legislation imposing US economic
sanctions is passed.  Unocal has a 28.26% stake, Total has the largest
share of 31.24% and Thailand's PTT has 25.5%.  Article contains the
argument against imposing sanctions and information about the lawsuit
filed against Unocal by the National Coalition Government of the Union of
Burma and Federation of Trade Unions of Burma.  BP970404 OA/4EC/021

Kanchanaburi residents, human rights and environmental groups have jointly
declared a 'peaceful' war to oppose the Yadan natural pipeline gas project
which was given the green light to proceed last  week. Participants  have
discussed a boycott of PTT products, a long march on the pipeline route,
and suing the state enterprise.  The newly created Kalayanamitra Group,
which has received support from a number of Nobel Prize Laureates and
prominent figures around the world, has launched a global signature
campaign to persuade Chavalit to reconsider the project and is also
planning to walk on the pipeline route.  TN970404 OA/4GH/009

Environmental groups in Kanchanaburi mounted a campaign yesterday to
protest against the Yadana gas pipeline project.  Protest banners were
strung up in front of several shophouses in Muang district as
environmentalists cruised Muang and Tha Maka townships in pick-up trucks
equipped with loudspeakers blaring messages about the disadvantages of the
project and urging residents to join their cause.  The pipeline is to
carry gas from the Yadana gas field in Burma to a power plant in
Ratchaburi.  BP970406 OA/4GH/010

PTT has begun constructing its 260 km pipeline after its environmental
impact statement was approved by the NEB last week.  The pipeline is to
receive gas from Burma's Yadana and Yetagun gasfields for delivery to a
power plant of the Electricity Generating Authority (Egat) in Ratchaburi.
According to PTT, all villagers living along the pipeline have agreed to
sell their land. However, a Kanchanaburi villager will today file a
lawsuit against the PTT which he said has cleared his farmland to
facilitate its gas pipeline project without his consent.  He will also
file another lawsuit against Thong Pha Phum district police for negligence
as no action was taken when he complained to them about the clearing of
his plantation. BP970408 OA/4EC/022

Total has reportedly completed the pipeline between Ohnbingwin and
Hpaungdaw villages which started construction in January this year.  Many
local sources uniformly claim that a French gas pipeline worker was held
hostage by the KNU, who demanded a ransom of US$ 50 million from Total.
Total has subsequently had to hold talks with SLORC generals to resolve
the problem and construction temporarily halted.  It is unknown whether
the issue has been resolved.  According to local sources, one French and 2
Burmese workers all died from electrocution  while laying the pipeline
under the sea some time in February 1997.  brelief@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Uncocal already has big stakes in Burma and Thailand and is planning to
open a headquarters office in Kuala Lumpur this month as a base for
looking at new ventures throughout Asia.  Unocal is working hard to
prevent the US government from banning new investments in Burma.  John
Imle, Unocal's president, said there were alot of misconceptions about the
company's Yadana natural project in Burma.  He said the company was being
proactive in trying to convince the US government that it's presence in
Burma was helping improve the human rights situation.  Reuters News
Service970409 OL/4EC/005

Women and Children

The ABSDF's report released yesterday, says that widespread human rights
abuses inflicted by the military government in Burma fall hardest on the
country's women:  ASSK has been silenced by the regime and is virtually
confined to her home; women are frequently drafted by the army as forced
porters in its campaigns against various rebel groups and are used as
human mine sweepers; the women are gang-raped at night and are routinely
raped when villagers are razed; thousands are forced to live as refugees
in Thailand; the level of care that rural mothers can provide their
children has steadily deteriorated since 1962; the lack of economic
opportunities has sent thousands of women and girls across the border to
make a living in the sex industry and are vulnerable to exploitation,
rape, murder, beatings and AIDS; and, women traditionally have had little
voice in Burmese society.  Most of the allegations have been backed up by
previous reports by  human  rights groups.  TN970405 OA/5A/001

An account by May Aung who was arrested by military intelligence officers.
She worked as an information officer at the British embassy.  At the time
she was sentenced she was 2 months pregnant.  She was sent to the women's
section, to a solitary cell.  The food and water was dirty and made her
sick.  After many months she was moved to a building where more than 500
women stayed - about 200 of them were political prisoners.  She was freed
without warning 9 months after the birth of her child.  TN970404
The UN Committee on Children's Rights has urged the Burmese military
government to take specific action to eradicate child labour, the
recruitment of minors into the army, and child prostitution.  Members of
the Committee said torture, forced labour and child trafficking must be
banned.  In 1993, Burma passed a child law, but does not prohibit acts of
torture or rape against children nor does it ban child prostitution or the
use of children for pornography.  Burma ratified the UN's CRC in 1991, but
its accession should be seen as an 'empty gesture to improve its image
abroad', the Human Rights Watch/Asia's report concluded.  The independent
experts making up the UN Committee on Children's Rights said they were
unsatisfied with the explanations offered by the SLORC which attended the
2-day meeting in Geneva.  brelief@xxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/7B/001
Recent Unrest in Burma

Rangoon was calm following communal unrest which saw dozens of Muslim
properties vandalised across Burma, but Buddhist monks appeared restless,
witnesses said.  BP/AFP970404 OA/6D/001 
3 photos showing monks with wooden poles, some Muslims cleaning up after a
rampage and SLORC troops looking on.  TN970405 OA/8B/004

Government officials blamed 'some elements' of creating the unrest to
disrupt Burma's plan to join Asean.  Exiled Burma monks and political
activists accused the regime of instigating the whole incident as a
pretext to cracking down on dissidents and monks who have played an active
role in Burma politics.  Tourists have been kept away from hot spots and a
visa ban on foreign journalists has been imposed.  TN970405 OA/8B/005

The main explanation given by the Buddhist Relief Mission on the rioting
is that SLORC officials robbed the most sacred pagoda in the old Buddhist
city of Mandalay and arrested a respected senior monk responsible for the
maintenance of the pagoda for the crime.  This coincided with the deaths
of 16 monks in SLORC prisons.  There were reports that SLORC agents
dressed as monks provoked the disturbances to draw attention away from the
theft of the pagoda. In conjunction with this latest anti-SLORC uprising,
more than 100 activist monks are known to have been arrested and disrobed
and at least 3 monks killed outright by SLORC security forces.  It seems
certain that SLORC is manipulating these latest events not only to hide
its own crimes, but also to eliminate resistance to its authority from the
Buddhist Sangha.  brelief@xxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/12FA/003

The junta warned citizens yesterday to refrain from political agitation
and unrest during the upcoming New Year festival - and officials have been
told to maintain a high security alert.  This year's celebrations follow a
major military offensive against ethnic Karen rebels on the eastern border
and violence by Buddhist monks against minority Muslims in several cities.
Rangoon authorities have warned that anyone throwing or selling ice packs
filled with ice risks 3 years' imprisonment.  An overnight curfew remains
in effect in Mandalay. Soldiers and police are posted around monasteries
and mosques.  BP970407 OA/9M/004

Aung San Suu Kyi

In her monthly article, ASSK describes the relationship between hot, arid
summers and political activities.  People become less patient and are more
quick to act.  The NLD is under increasing repression while monks have
rioted against Muslims.  Because people are starved of information, they
desperately cling to rumours.  At the Mahamyatmuni Shrine, sacred Budda
image had been riven in two, and many people considered this a bad omen.
Shortly thereafter, the riots broke out.  However, the military junta is
quick to blame all problems from student protests to bomb blasts on the
NLD.  The NLD takes pride in the fact that it has members who had taken
part in Burma's independence movement. At the same time, it is a shame
that there is still a need to labour for freedom.  TN970409 OA/9A/015

Excerpts from ASSK's video address to the 53rd session of the UN
Commission on Human   Rights  in Geneva. The regime has denied the
Rajsoomer Lallah access to the country and is keeping ASSK under virtual
house arrest.   She discusses the increasing restrictions placed on her
and the NLD, her perspectives on the religious recent religious unrest
(anti-Muslim) in Burma, the refugee situation along the Thai border, her
general assessment of  human  rights in Burma, and the international
communities' obligations regarding Burma.  BP970409 OA/9FA/017

Bomb Explosion which Killed Tin Oo's Daughter

A bomb exploded at top military official, Tin Oo's house, killing his
eldest daughter and setting off a renewed security alert in Rangoon.
There was no claim for responsibility and the government did not initially
accuse anyone.  The KNU and ABSDF denied any involvement in the blast.
Man Sha, vice secretary-general of the KNU, attributed the attack to a
power struggle within the Slorc between Gen Maung Aye, a hardline former
field commander and Gen Khin Nyunt, the powerful head of military
intelligence.  This incident adds to the tension between the junta and its
democratic and ethnic opponents and there are now streams of troops in the
streets.  The military also warned Burmese citizens to refrain from
political agitation and unrest during the upcoming New Year festival while
officials have been told to maintain a high security alert.  TN970408

The ABSDF and NCGUB released press statements that claimed neither group
was involved in the bomb that exploded at Tin Oo's house.  Neither group
claims to support terrorism in any form and both say they believe in a
peaceful, non-violent struggle for democracy, Human rights and dialogue.
Both groups believe that the violence resulted from a power struggle
within the Slorc.  The ABSDF stated that the main points of contention
between Maung Aye and Khin Nyunt are Asean membership and ceasefire
negotiations with ethnic minority groups.  TN970409 OA/9B/013

The parcel bomb that killed Tin Oo's daughter represents a new side to
Burmese politics.  Parcel bombs have not been part of traditional Burmese
political culture in the past.  The KNU and other dissident groups might
be blamed for the incident, but diplomats caution that parcel bombs are
not typical of the capabilities of jungle- oriented resistance groups.
The bomb appears to be the second attack on Tin Oo, who was the last
senior official to visit the Kaba Aye Pagoda before the Christmas Day
blasts in 1996.  Tin Oo is a hardliner within the Slorc and has often
urged troops to :"annihilate" anyone who opposes the state.  The blast
comes at a time when Burma is already nervous from anti-Muslim rioting and
recent student protests.  Diplomats believe security will be tight during
the Thingyan, the traditional water festival, when large groups gather in
the streets.  TN970409 OA/9H/010

According to Burmese authorities, the parcel bomb that killed Tin Oo's
eldest daughter was airmailed from Japan.  Cho Lei Oo, 34, was a history
lecturer.   The Slorc believes the action was masterminded by anti-
government groups within Japan.  The package, in the shape of a book, had
several Japanese stamps and a Tokyo postmark on it, but no return address.
The junta denies all claims that the attack was motivated by an internal
power struggle.  The NCGUB stated that the bomb "could only have been
planted by persons with high- security clearance".  Rebel groups have
denied responsibility.  BP970409 OA/9H/011

Independent analysts suspect that Muslim extremists or disgruntled
business interests may be to blame.  Suspects include ethnic guerillas
fighting Rangoon for autonomy and dissidents trying to sabotage Burma's
entry into Asean.  But parcel bombs have never been part of the ethnic
guerilla or dissident culture, nor were parcel bombs believed to be within
the technical capability of such groups.  Analysts have dismissed the
theory that it reflects a split in the junta as Tin Oo is an 'economic
mover not a political mover'.  Thus Muslim extremists could be a suspect
considering the recent violence against Muslims and disgruntled business
interests as Tin Oo is considered an essential contact man for foreigners
wishing to do business in Burma.

The Japanese foreign ministry said it was asking for details on any
evidence pointing to a Japanese link after Burma's military intelligence
told the embassy in Rangoon that the parcel bore Japanese stamps and
writing.  BP970410 OA/9H/012

Papers Presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Geneva

Statement by Thailand 2 April 1997.  The NGO statement which inspired the
reply was made by Fimarc (International Fed. of Rural Adult Catholic
Movements) which in part said: 'Refugees living in the most appalling
situation in Thailand are forced to return to Burma into a very dangerous
situation. About 5,000 Karen refugees were recently returned forcibly from
Thailand, according to a document distributed by Associated Press'.
Thailand's reply acknowledged the concern of the international community
over the situation along the Thai-Myanmar border, as well as the need for
protection of Karen displaced persons fleeing the fighting.  The
government is addressing the situation allowing international aid agencies
and relief workers access to provide food and shelter for these people at
safe sites in Thailand and has done so for decades.  Thailand has provided
considerate and generous hospitality to everyone fleeing unrest from
neighbouring countries. Thailand will continue to adhere to its
long-standing value of providing safe refuge and humanitarian assistance
to all fleeing unrest from neighbouring countries.  The following policies
have been adopted: Thailand stands firm in her support for peaceful
resolution of ethnic conflicts in Burma; Thailand grants the current
outflow of Karen civilians permission for temporary stay and allows a
number of NGOs to assist in providing humanitarian aid and steps have been
taken to move Karen displaced persons to sites deeper inside Thailand for
better security.  darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/10G/005

An update circulated at the Briefing on Human Rights in Burma: details the
latest offensive and massive forced relocation campaigns in Karenni and
Shan areas.  There are now 120,000 people living in refugee camps just
inside the Thai border; 20,000 have arrived in the last 2 months.  In
addition, approximately 40,000 Shan people have been permitted to
establish camps.  Another 30,000 Burmese from various ethnic groups have
also come to Thailand and have been labelled 'illegal economic migrants'
though most have fled because of the massive forced relocation and forced
labour campaigns in Burma.  This brings the number of dislocated Burmese
people inside Thailand to at least 450,000 people.  Added to those who
have been unable to reach Thailand are the internally displaced persons
inside Burma.  SLORC now controls almost the entire border with Thailand
and has blocked the evacuation routes of thousands who wish to flee.
SLORC and SLORC-supported forces now terrorize the refugees just inside
the Thai border -threatening to burn down their homes and force them to
return to Burma.  The change in Thai policy toward these refugees is
making the situation worse as several groups of refugees have been
forcibly repatriated on a few occasions.  These repatriations and the
recent announcement by the Thai National Security Council that all
refugees will be sent back to Burma as soon as the situation is 'peaceful
and safe' has raised fears even further among the refugees.  The crisis
calls for international humanitarian assistance to help those in need of
immediate food and supplies.  In addition, the security of the refugees
should be improved by moving the camps further inside Thailand.  Finally,
pressure should be exerted on the SLORC regime to stop its campaign of
force against its own civilian populations and the political opposition
groups in the country. darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/10G/006

Dr Thaung Htun's paper looked at the UN's involvement in the situation of
human rights in Burma.  "The UNCHR has considered Burma's human rights
situation since 1989 at each session...The recent report of Judge Rajsmoor
Lallah from Mauritius is brilliant - it astutely concludes that the lack
of rights pertaining to democratic governance is the root cause of human
rights violations in Burma.....Since 1990, Sweden usually takes the
leading role in the process of drafting the resolution on Burma in New
York at the General Assembly.  Although these resolutions are not legally
binding, they do have powerful moral authority and consensus adoption of
the resolution adds to the moral obligation of all UN members to fully
cooperate with the UN in implementing the resolutions.....The annual
sessions of the UN Assembly General and the UNCHR are periods of
humiliation for the Burmese military regime, which finds itself publicly
dissected and condemned. It damages SLORC both politically and
economically...This year, the Netherlands, as the President of the EU, has
led the drafting of the Burma resolution at the Commission.  We have
proposed that the resolution be based on last year's resolution at the
Commission and the more recent resolution at the General Assembly as well
as that it add new elements to cover human rights violations in Burma over
the last year."  darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/11A/001

David Taw, a representative of the National Democratic Front, discussed
the plight of the non-Burman ethnic nationalities whose survival and
ethnic and cultural identities are dangerously threatened by the military
regime of Burma.  He discussed 4 main points: the seeking of political
dialogue to find a lasting political solution; the persecution of the
civilian populations in ethnic areas by the SLORC army; the failure of the
cease- fires between SLORC and ethnic nationalities to achieve lasting
political solutions; and, the recent offensive against the Karen people
and the refugee crisis on the Thai/BU border. 'All of these abuses stem
from the Burmese regime's militarisation of the country, and its refusal
to seek lasting solutions through dialogue instead of force'.
darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/9B/001

Dr Sein Win, the Prime Minister, National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma (NCGUB) urged the international community to impose
sanctions.  Sanctions combined with UN efforts seeking mediation and
conflict resolution and grassroots action, will help bring change to
Burma.  The international community's efforts do make a difference in the
struggle for democracy and lasting peace in Burma.
darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/9B/002

Dr Sein Win expressed his disappointment that the Special Rapporteur on
Burma has not been allowed to visit Burma to perform his mandate given by
the 52nd Session of the UN Commission  on  Human Rights.  This is a clear
violation of articles 55 and 56 of the UN Charter in which member states
'pledge themselves to take joint and separate action' to 'promote
universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental
freedoms for all'.  SLORC mistakenly claims that the right of
non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state is paramount
to all other articles in the UN Charter.  Sovereignty should not be used
as a veil to hide human rights abuses.  We continue to be seriously
concerned about the personal security of ASSK because Win Sein, the
Minister of Railways and Transportation, told members of the USDA that she
should be killed.  More pressure, restrictions and intimidation tactics
have been put on NLD members.  The Special Rapporteur pointed out that the
lack of rights pertaining to democratic governance is the root cause of
major violations of human rights in Burma.  The remedy is to have a
substantive tripartite dialogue at the earliest possible date among all
concerned parties.  It is the will of the Burmese people to seek national
reconciliation through dialogue.  darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/11A/002

Debbie Stothard, coordinator, ALTSEAN-BURMA (Alternative ASEAN Network on
Burma)   Under the guise of 'constructive engagement', ASEAN and its
member states have established their position as one of the few public
allies of Burma's junta.  The rapid increase of business ventures
involving organisations with links to ASEAN governments would imply that
our leaders seem to have mistaken 'constructive' for 'construction'.
Perhaps we should be more honest and acknowledge that 'constructive
engagement' does not exist, 'business engagement' does.  Her paper
critically analyses the following myths surrounding constructive
engagement: it has worked to open up the country; those obstructing the
entry of Burma are foreign nations not in Asean; it is an internal affair;
it is in the interests of regional security; if not for SLORC, Burma would
collapse into ethnic conflicts; Asean is a trading bloc, therefore
'politics' is not its concern; SLORC will be positively influenced through
its exposure to Asean states; Burma is a 'western' agenda;  sanctions hurt
the wrong people; 'constructive engagement' is the only alternative to
isolationism.  darnott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OL/9CAA/002

Analysis and editorials

An article in Asiaweek, Hong Kong, questions whether UN involvement would
improve the situation for the refugees on the border who are seeking
asylum from the latest offensive despite the Karen Refugee Committee's
request to the Thai government to 'Permit the UNHCR to perform its
mandated role in protection of refugee rights and security'.  The junta
sees the UNHCR as a tool of the US and it is unlikely that it would
recognise it as an honest broker in mediating between itself and the Karen
refugees.  UN intervention would do little more than raise the noise level
and encourage a centuries-old ethnic feud to continue in its bitter,
pointless way.  The article praises the Burmese Border Consortium which
has fed, sheltered and educated the Karen along the border - this group
could use international help with funding and does not need its role
usurped by the UNHCR.  TN970408 OA/11AC/003

Politicians and dictators who claim that concepts of human rights are
alien to Asian culture are not only hypocritical, they fail to understand
the subtleties of Asian tradition.  The hypocrisy of leaders whose actions
brutally abuse the dignity of ordinary people shows a failure on their
part to understand their own roots.  The result is merely a clinging to
the form or ceremony of being Asian.  For a ruler to fail in his duty to
place people's affairs and welfare at the top of the list of political
priorities, is to violate the vast homo-ecological interconnection in
casual exploitation of human integrity, thereby violating the violator's
own dignity, integrity, legitimacy and life.  It is a sad comment on the
world today that the universal consensus on HRs is matched only by an
equally universal negligence thereof.  BP970407 OA/16A/001

Editorial on the ABSDF's report which highlighted that women are suffering
the most under the current regime.  The report can be believed coming from
exiled and beleaguered dissidents because so many horror stories have been
broadcast over such a long period of time that the weight of evidence
validates the claims and most of the allegations are backed by previous
reports by human rights  groups.  The  Thai government believes that
membership of Burma to Asean will give hope for a revitalised economy and
a wide buffer against efforts to dislodge them.  As long as Asean's
'constructive engagement' policy toward Burma remains unchallenged, the
destruction of a people will continue unabated as the world looks on
unconcerned.  BP970406 OA/5A/002

Since the pro-democracy uprising was crushed in 1988, soldiers have been
parading on Armed Forces Day (27 March) inside a sealed-off park while
citizens watch the event on TV.  This year the polarization was even more
evident with tight security as the country recovered from another bout of
unrest, this time involving Buddhist monks.  SLORC blames the unrest on
the molestation of a young Buddhist girl but local sources say the trouble
began earlier this year when the military decided to renovate the Mahamuni
Pagoda in Mandalay and when it was completed rumours circulated that
precious stones were missing from the pagoda's Buddha image.  The abbotts
demanded a meeting with the Mandalay commander and raised among other
questions the influx of foreigners.  It was in this context that the
molestation of the young girl was raised (the accused were freed after
paying a $4,778 bribe).  Pent-up frustration led to the widespread
rioting, with the Muslim minority bearing the brunt of the attacks.  The
article mentions the rising anti-Chinese sentiment and the potential for
there to be trouble ahead if SLORC continues to meet popular grievances
the way it has this time.  FEER970410 OP/9H/001

The EU has withdrawn certain trading privileges from Burma in response to
the Burmese military regime's continued abuse of HRs.  In Sept 96, a
special commission of the EU found credible evidence of the use of forced
labour by the junta and recommended sanctions against Burma until the
abuses stop.  In June 1995, an international labour organization
conference committee cited Burma for its violation of ILO convention 29,
which prohibits forced labour.  The US welcomes the EU's decision - this
action is similar to a 1989 decision by the US to suspend Burma's
privileges under the generalized system of preferences, known as GSP.
There is also a complete arms embargo on arms sales and a ban on US visas
for senior Burmese officials and economic aid was suspended.  These
measures are a direct response to the military regime's refusal to enter
into a genuine dialogue with the political opposition and respect the
fundamental rights of the people.  moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Julien Moe)970404

General Interest

 Burmese radio announced that nearly 300 members of the Communist Party
Burma (BCP) who were active in Rakhine state have surrendered.  They gave
up at the immigration headquarters at the border town of Maungdaw.  The
group decided to end their guerrilla operations in exchange for economic
assistance.  BCP has been fighting against Rangoon since 1948.  BP970409

Several gemologists go to Burma in search of jade, offering a tourists
perspective of what they experienced travelling through Burma - obvious
signs of deforestation due to logging and the opening of long abandoned
mines.  BP970406 OA/4CE/003

Stiff competition has forced many rival casino operators from Hong Kong
and Taiwan to battle for business on the Burmese side of Ruili at the
Sino-Burmese border - the owners have taken to settling disputes with gun
battles.  BP970408 OA/9J/013