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The BurmaNet News, April 15, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------  
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"  
The BurmaNet News: April 15, 1997  
Issue #695

Noted in passing:

"We cannot and will never forget our friends who have suffered
for the cause ...and we especially remember them at this new year."


[slightly abridged]
April 14, 1997

           RANGOON, April 14 (AFP) - Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi vowed Monday to press on with the struggle for democracy and urged
supporters to summon the "courage and strength" to achieve their
           "As we enter the new year we need to rejuvenate ourselves,
reaffirm our convictions and pledge to continue to struggle on until we reach
our desired goal," she said at a celebration at her home for the Burmese new
           Aung San Suu Kyi said it had been eight years since the struggle
for democracy in Burma had begun and that large numbers of people taking
part in that fight were now languishing in the country's prisons.
           "We cannot and will never forget our friends who have suffered
for the cause ...and we especially remember them at this new year," she told
assembled supporters, diplomats and reporters at her lakeside compound.
           The opposition leader has said hundreds of supporters and members
of her National League for Democracy (NLD) were in prison, where they
receive inadequate medical treatment and are denied basic rights.
	She said she hoped the people of Burma would continue to
support the NLD, whose activities have been sharply curtailed following a
crackdown by the military authorities last September.
           "To do this it is necessary to nurture the courage and strength
needed to see us through to the end," she said.
           The NLD won an overwhelming majority of seats in the 1990 general
elections, the results of which were ignored by the military authorities,
who launched a crackdown against the pro-democracy movement.
           After years of near dormancy, the NLD began stepping up
activities following Aung San Suu Kyi's release from six years of house
arrest in 1995, but has found itself under increasing pressure from the
ruling junta.
           Roadblocks which have been outside Aung San Suu Kyi's home since
December following a wave of student unrest, were extended Monday as
security forces monitored people trying to attend the celebrations.
           NLD sources said some 2,000 invitations for nine hours of
festivities had been sent out to members and supporters of the party,
although it was not clear how many would be able to make it past the
security checkpoints.
           Police at the roadblock were registering invited guests as they
tried to make their way to Aung San Suu Kyi's home in suburban University
Avenue, but it was not clear if any were being turned away.
           Substantial donations were being made by those who had already
arrived at, one NLD source said inside the compound.

[excerpts from related article]
April 14, 1997

	``At the transition to the New Year, we the National League for Democracy
(NLD) have resolved to go on striving with renewed courage and spirit until
we achieve our ambition,'' Suu Kyi said in a speech at a ceremony to mark
traditional Burmese New Year.
	About 700 NLD members and supporters were allowed through several police
barricades in order to attend the celebration at the 1991 Nobel Peace
laureate's lakeside home.
	``The main purpose for holding today's ceremony is to raise funds for the
political prisoners,'' Suu Kyi said, noting that the NLD would never forget
those who had made sacrifices for the cause of democracy.
	Tables were set up around the large bamboo meeting hall to accept
donations. Proceeds of sales of NLD souvenirs were earmarked for prisoners
and their families.

April 13, 1997

           RANGOON, April 13 (AFP) - A top Burmese general has called for
military personnel to be on guard against "destructionists" seeking to cause
a split in the armed forces, the state-run press reported Sunday.
           Lieutenant-General Tin Oo, chief of staff of the army and second
secretary in the ruling junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC) made the comments to personnel at the ministry of defence in Rangoon
Saturday, the New Light of Myanmar daily reported.
           He was quoted as saying that "above ground political
organisations in collusion with underground destructionists and foreign
media" were seeking to disrupt rapid national development.
           "All must be vigilant against those who are spreading slanderous
news and concoctions and making instigations to split the unity of the
Tatmadaw (armed forces) and spoil its morale."
           The comments, which came in Tin Oo's first publicised speech
since his eldest daughter was killed in a mail bomb attack on his home last
Sunday, follow speculation of a split within the SLORC.
           The rumoured rift in the junta is said to be between factions led
by military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt and the armed forces chief Maung
Aye, reported to be allied to Tin Oo.
           Some opponents of the junta, including the rebel Karens and
dissident Burmese students in exile claim that infighting within SLORC was
behind the blast at Tin Oo's house. Burma has blamed it on anti-SLORC groups
operating in Japan.
           In his speech, Tin Oo, who is also chief of the bureau of special
operations, further called on armed groups within Burma, to make peace with
the government in the interests of national development.
           "It is time for a few brethren groups who still remain
underground to think seriously and make the right decision," he said, in a
reference to rebel groups including the Karen National Union (KNU).
           The KNU is the only major ethnic insurgency yet to reach a
ceasefire with the SLORC and is currently facing a massive offensive by
junta troops who have overrun the rebels' territory close to the Thai border.


April 12, 1997

           BANGKOK, April 12 (AFP) - An elected MP of Aung San Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy (NLD) has been sentenced to four
years in prison for alleged medical malpractice, a senior party official
said Saturday.
           Doctor Than Aung, an MP for a Rangoon township, was sentenced 
Friday after trial for running an unlicensed clinic and causing the death of
a patient through negligence. He has been sent to the capital's notorious
Insein prison.
           Speaking by telephone from Rangoon, NLD joint vice-chairman Tin
Oo said the negligence charge was "fabricated" and noted Than Aung had been
a practising doctor for 25 years.
           "He's a member of the NLD and a member of parliament. The
authorities are continuing to act oppressively against our league," he said
of the verdict.
           The NLD swept the last general elections to be held in
military-run Burma in 1990, the results of which were never recognised by
the ruling
junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).


April 10, 1997

Yangon, 9 April -- The Fourth Yangon Division Working Committee of
Sangha held its third meeting at the Office of the Division Sangha Nayaka
Committee in Bahan Township at noon today. It was attended by Yangon
Division Ovadacariya Sayadaws, member Sayadaws of the Division Sangha Nayaka
Committee, Division Working Committee of Sangha Sayadaws, Minister for
Religious Affairs Lt. Gen. Myo Nyunt, Chairman of Yangon Division Law and
Order Restoration Council Commander Maj. Gen. Khin Maung Than, Deputy
Minister for Religious Affairs U Aung Khin, Director General of the
Religious Affairs Department U Arnt
Maung, Director General of the Department for Promotion and Propagation of
the Sasana U Sann Lwin, personnel of the four districts in Yangon Division
and those of the Divisional Religious Affairs Department.
Divisional Ovadacariya Sayadaw Agga Maha Saddhamma Jotika Bhaddanta
Vayaminda and Chairman Sayadaw of Divisional Sangha Nayaka Committee Agga
Maha Ganthavacaka Pandita Bhaddanta Kondia delivered Ovada Kathas. Next,
Commander Maj. Gen. Khin Maung Than supplicated on religious matters. He
said Lord Buddha established the Sangha organization with Vinaya rules.
After the demise of Buddha, he said, Ashin Maha Kassapa Mahathera and
successive Mahatheras continuously strove for purification, perpetuation and
propagation of the Sasana. As a result, he said, the Buddhism flourishes
till today.
He noted that the Fifth and Sixth Buddhist Synods were held in the Union of
Myanmar. Myanmar thus has stood as the leading nation among Theravada
Buddhist nations. Moreover, he said, Myanmar organized the
Congregation of Sangha of All Ganas in 1980 and then formed Sangha
organizations at different levels in the country. The Sangha organization
has now entered the 18th year he said.
He pointed out that as the Sangha organization remains united members
of the Sangha themselves can manage and pass decisions on purification,
perpetuity and propagation of the Sasana. Because the Sangha organization
is united, he said, the Government has been able to help enforce the
organization's decisions.
He supplicated that the State Law and Order Restoration Council
Government has been looking after the religious affairs in the long term
interest of the Sasana while striving for all-round development of the
country. He cited building new pagodas, monasteries and religious
structures and repairing and renovating old ones as well as extending
assistance to State Pariyatti Sasana Tekkathos, meditation centres and
monastic schools.  The Commander also cited instructor courses on Buddhism
throughout the country conducted by the Union Solidarity and Development
Association organization of multiplier instructor courses in Yangon Division.
Commander Maj. Gen. Khin Maung Than recalled that the Minister for
Religious Affairs supplicated to the Chairman and Secretary Sayadaws of
Yangon Division and Township Sangha Nayaka Committees and presiding abbots
on the current affairs and developments in the Maha Pasana Cave, Kaba Aye,
on 17 and 24 March.
He said the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee on 8 August 1984 issued its
Directive No. 65 with letter No 215/1/Tha - Ma Ha Na in connection with
taking of action against the members of the Sangha or novices for violating
individually or in groups Vinaya rules or existing laws promulgated by the
He supplicated that violators of Vinaya rules and promulgated laws
have gained an advantageous position to step up their criminal acts when
both the Government and Sangha organizations more or less ignore them
because the Government side believes Sangha organizations will take action
against them for violating Vinaya rules while at the same time Sangha
organizations consider that the Government will take action against them for
infringing the existing laws [sentence as received]. The Commander requested
the member Sayadaws of different levels of Sangha organizations to strictly
follow the Directive No 65 for the sake of purification of the Sasana.
He said greater collaboration between the Sangha organization and the
Government would contribute towards flourishing of Sasana forever.
Next, Sayadaws of the Divisional Sangha Nayaka Committee submitted
reports on work done in connection with religious matters, vinicchaya
affairs and academic affairs.
The Sayadaws then discussed miscellaneous matters.
Maj-Gen Khin Maung Than then presented offertories to the Sayadaws.


April 12, 1997 [received]

                     From 2.4.97 to 7.4.97, (13) clashes broke out between
KNLA and SLORC troops, (15) KNLA mines exploded, (5) SLORC soldiers were
killed, (7) SLORC soldiers were injured and (15) SLORC soldiers lost their

(KNLA No.(103)BN Area) SLORC troops on a KNLA mine at Htee K'pler. One SLORC
soldier lost his leg.

(KNLA No.(5) Brigade Area) At 0800 hours, a clash broke out between KNLA
troops and SLORC troops at Lay Ghaw. At the same time, KNLA troops attacked
SLORC at Kler Mu village.  At 1300 hours, KNLA troops attacked SLORC troops
at Ploe Kee. A battle broke out between KNLA troops and SLORC troops at Haw
Thwe Kee. One KNLA soldier was injured.  A clash borke out between KNLA
troops and SLORC troops at Der Baw Hta. KNLA troops attacked SLORC troops at
Htee Law The Hta. Casualties are unknown.
(KNLA No.(7) Brigade Area) KNLA troops ambushed SLORC troops at Day Law
Pyar. Two SLORC soldiers were killed and two SLORC soldiers were injured. On
the same day, SLORC troops stepped on (8) KNLA mines, (8) SLORC soldiers
lost their legs.
(KNLA No.(1) Brigade Area) A battle broke out between KNLA troops and SLORC
troops at Kwee Ta Ghar Lay. Casualties are unknown.

(KNLA No.(6) Brigade Area) At 0500 hours, a battle broke out between KNLA
troops and LIB (251) at Kaw Tha Wa Baw Paw Kyo Lu Kho. The battle lasted (1)
hour, One SLORC soldier was killed and one SLORC soldier was injured.
(KNLA No.(5) Brigade Area) KNLA troops ambushed SLORC troops at Nyar Mae
Hta. One SLORC soldier was killed and one SLORC soldier was injured. One
KNLA soldier died and KNLA troops lost (1) M-16.
A battle broke out between KNDO troops and SLORC troops, KNDO suffered (2)
dead and five KNDO men were injured. KNDO troops lost (1) M-203.
(KNLA No.(1) Brigade Area) KNLA troops attacked SLORC troops at Maw Hta. One
SLORC soldier was killed and three SLORC soldiers were injured. 
(KNDO No.(3) BN Area) SLORC troops stepped on three KNDO mines, three SLORC
soldiers lost their legs.

(KNLA No.(5) Brigade Area) A clash broke out between KNLA troops and SLORC
troops at Htee Law The Hta. SLORC casualties are unknown.

(KNLA No.(I03)BN Area) SLORC stepped on a KNLA mine a position between Oo
Kray and Bu Baw Hta. One SLORC soldier lost his leg.

(KNDO No.(1)BN Area) SLORC stepped on two KNDO mines at Kyaw Ta Yu Plaw. Two
SLORC soldiers lost their legs.


April 14, 1997
by Khachron Boonpat 

MAE HONG SON: The Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA) has
successfully retaken two bases in Shan State from the Burmese junta, leaving
10 Burmese troops dead and 40 injured, according to a rebel officer.
	An officer of the Karenni National Progressive Party said over 5,000 SURA
troops launched an attack on the troops of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), stationed near the Shan and Kayah states on
Wednesday and Thursday. The SURA successfully seized back two bases during
the fighting.
	The clashes left five dead and nine injured among the SURA soldiers while
the SLORC troops suffered 10 dead and about 40 injured , said the rebel officer.
	A Thai official said the Burmese troops were easily overrun because the
guerrillas seized an opportunity to attack while the Slorc is preoccupied
with fighting its prime enemy - the Karen National Union (KNU).
	Since the middle of February, the Slorc has launched massive attacks
against the KNU, the last ethnic minority fighting for autonomy in Burma.
The areas seeing the most fighting since then are the Karen state, across
the border from Thailand's Tak and Kanchanaburi provinces.
	After last week's defeat, the Slorc has provided over three battalion to
reinforce its remaining troops in the Kayah and Shan states.


April 11, 1997
By Niccolo Sarno

 BRUSSELS, Apr 11 (IPS) -- The European Union has approved humanitarian aid
worth 897,000 dollars for Karen refugees from Burma
on the Thai border.
	The special funds were assigned by the European Community Humanitarian
Office (ECHO), in charge of crisis aid at the EU's executive Commission, and
goes to the Paris-based NGO International Medical Aid (AMI). AMI has worked
to help the Karen refugees in Thailand ever since they first started fleeing
across the border to escape persecution in their country in the late 1980s.
 	Grichat Lepointe, AMI's Thailand desk officer, told IPS that ECHO's grant,
approved Thursday, will go towards medical aid and basic sanitation
facilities, and also towards training of Karen staff and preventive health
 	 ''AMI has been training Karens in medical activities since its arrival in
Thailand two years ago, and the personnel there is now made of more than
fifty Karens, in addition our staff of nine. 
	 ''The grant, which should give support to AMI activities for six
 months, will help our team training Karens to help themselves, in sight of
the time when aid agencies will have to leave. Our staff will train
additional Karens in medical activities, such as treatment activities and
preventive programmmes''.
 	 Lepointe said that ECHO's grant will also be used for additional
preventive programmes, including vaccinations against diseases such as
tuberculosis and malaria. The programme also includes assistance for
midwives. AMI operates in three camps in two crowded areas, assisting some
25,000 refugees.
 	''Two camps serve about 20,000 Karens presently camped in ditches along
the road from the Burma border to the Thai town of Umphang," Lepointe said.
''The third camp is located in the surroundings of the Thai town of
Maesariang, in a zone where some 5,000 more are in
 the same conditions.''
 	But a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official told IPS that
their agency staff has been unable to visit the large number of
 other camps present in the area as often as they would like.
 	''We are concerned with the situation along the border, especially with
sanitation. Thai authorities allow us only some visits but not a permanent
presence there, claiming that the Karens are 'temporarily displaced
persons', not 'refugees', and that there are already many NGOs on the
field,'' said the UNHCR official.
 	At the beginning of last March, about a thousand refugees, out of the
100,000 believed to have found refuge along the 1,800 kilometre long
Burmese-Thai border, were forced back into Burma, according to
representatives of several humanitarian organisations.
 	The European Commission stated on Mar. 6 that it was ''prepared to examine
the possibility of financing additional costs which might arise from the
arrival of more refugees, as well as the evacuation and relocation of
Burmese refugees inside Thailand''. Thai diplomatic sources in Brussels told
IPS that Thailand has not asked financial assistance to the Commission so far.
	The Karen ethnic group, which amounts to seven percent of the Burmese
population, is the second largest minority in this country after the Shan
(nine percent). 
	 Last February, the Burmese army began an assault against the armed rebels
of the Karen National Union (KNU), the largest of the ethnic insurgencies
along Burma's border. Some 80,000 refugees were already in Thailand before
the latest assault, which KNU officials said is the biggest since 1995, when
they lost their headquarters in the small border town of Mannerplaw. 
	Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), a military junta,
assumed power on Sep. 18, 1988, has targeted the Karen
minority ever since, human rights organisations say.
	The International Confederation of Free Trade Union (ICFTU) reported last
month that ''the SLORC is systematically suppressing human
rights, especially using forced labour... and it has become an essential
element of the country's infrastructure policy. 
	''These practices include forced civilian portering to assist military
offensives... and military labour,'' according to the unions. At the end of
March the European Union suspended trade privileges offered to Burma in
protest at the abuses.
 	Tension is rising in the country. A mail bomb sent to the Rangoon
residence of a leading member of the Junta, Lt-General Tin Oo last Monday,
killed his daughter, sparkling fears of renewed unrest and fresh crackdowns.
 	Meanwhile, in Brussels, European development NGOs meeting in conclave
Saturday are expected to produce a resolution which calls on EU institutions
and member states to press the junta to immediately initiate a dialogue with
the leaders of the ethnic groups and ease internal conflicts.


April 14, 1997
By Meena Menon

 MUMBAI, Apr 14 (IPS) - Harassed by Thai authorities and living in constant
fear of the Burmese military, many women refugees from Burma on the Thai
border have been forced into prostitution to provide for families, an Asian
rights group says in a report released here recently.
 	The Asian Women Human Rights Council (AWHRC), which sent a three member
team to investigate rights violations and document sex trafficking last
February, released its preliminary findings in India's financial capital,
Mumbai (Bombay), ahead of next month's summit of South Asian leaders in the
	AWHRC would like the Maldives meet to take note of the serious
rights violations in Burma and in the refugee camps, and put pressure on the
military junta in power in Rangoon to restore democracy in that country.
 	Pointing out that the majority of refugees are women from Burma's ethnic
minorities, the report says that ''illegal migrant work and
large-scale trafficking has flourished ... (as the) Burmese refugees are
impoverished, powerless and unprotected.''
 	''With their communities and families deprived of food, shelter,
livelihood, peace and security, more and more Karen and Burmese women fall
prey to the lucrative business of trafficking,'' it adds. 
	The team's visit to Karen refugee camps in the Mae Sot district, in
 northern Thailand, coincided with the biggest assault since 1995 by the
Burmese army against the armed rebels of the Karen National Union (KNU).
 	An Indian member of the team Meena Seshu told the press that soldiers of
the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the Burmese military
junta, were massed on the border which was very tense during their visit.
 	Seshu said the women, broke down, as they told the team that they lived in
constant fear of fresh attacks by the Burmese military who raided the camps
and took away refugees to use them as forced labour in military offensives.
 	According to a Karen Refugee Committee report, which AWRC cites, more than
35,000 minority Karen refugees in Thailand were affected
in the first two months of 1997. Three refugee camps on the border were
torched by the Burmese military which is seeking to crush resistance
movements like the KNU, the largest of the ethnic insurgencies along Burma's
border. The Karens are the second largest minority in Burma, after the Shan
 	At least 100,000 Karens have fled Burma to refugee camps in Thailand, but
even there they are not safe, said Seshu. Already about 1,000 refugees have
been forced back to Burma, according to representatives of several
humanitarian organisations. 
	Local people interviewed by AWHRC said they suspect the Thai government is
turning a blind eye to the Burmese raids on the border as a natural gas
pipeline has been proposed through where the camps are located. Some even
suggested a possible collusion between Bangkok and Rangoon to get the Karens
 	AWHRC says that in view of the continuing ''extreme human rights
violations in Burma and in the refugee camps, pressure should be brought on
the ruling junta to restore peace and dignity in the country.''
 	It is bitterly critical of the ''constructive engagement policy'' being
pursued by both ASEAN and EU member nations on Burma, which the rights
groups says ''confers legitimacy on the SLORC regime''. 
	Since it took over power in September 1988, SLORC has been targetting
Burma's minority Karens and systematically suppressing human rights in the
country. Violent ethnic conflict has forced an exodus of tens of thousands.
 	Burmese women and girls have been the worst affected. It is estimated that
at least 40,000 girls, between the age of 10 and 16, have been taken to work
in brothels in Thailand.
 	 Though the team was not able to visit the brothels, the members
interviewed many sex workers. They were told that at least five women have
died of AIDS related complications in Mae Sot district alone since the
beginning of the year.
 	It takes only 10 baht to cross the border and traffickers have easy
passage. One women who spoke to the team said prostitution was the first
thing she thought of, when she found that it was impossible to find
employment under the SLORC regime.
 	''We found that many of those in the brothels along the border were as
young as 13. The girls were kept in a room and the conditions were pathetic,
much worse than the brothels in Bombay,'' said the AWHRC's Seshu.
 	''Since a new Thai law punishes minors in prostitution, the whole practice
had gone underground and most of these young girls are beyond the reach of
health workers or given protective measures,'' she pointed out.
 	Because they have crossed the border illegally, their plight is worse. In
many cases, they are tricked into prostitution -- brought from Burma's
villages on the promise of jobs on Thai farms where they would be paid 40
bahts daily.
 	An Asiawatch report claims the rate of HIV infection among the Burmese
prostitutes was approximately three times higher than among women
prostitutes in general in Thailand. A major reason for this is their
powerlessness to demand safe sex.
 	The AWHRC fact-finding mission was supported by the Foundation for Women
(FFW) in Thailand. Apart from Seshu, who works with an Indian NGO Sangram,
the two other members were Nelia Sancho, AWHRC- Manila co-ordinator and a
researcher of FFW.


April 14, 1997

           RANGOON, April 14 (AFP) - Thousands of Burmese New Year revellers
took to the streets of Rangoon Monday for the annual four-day
water festival amid high security in the capital.
           Traditional water-throwing festivities went ahead, although the
number of revellers was down on previous years following anti-Moslem unrest
in March and a mail bomb attack on the home of a top junta general last
week, observers said.
           A witness said armed riot police with bullet proof vests were on
duty behind the closed gates of the home ministry, where the water-throwing
platform, or pandal, had been dismantled. There were unconfirmed reports of
a bomb scare at the ministry last week.
           Most government pandals were dismantled days before festivities
for the Burmese New Year on April 17 began.
           Uniformed police manned the few remaining ones and also guarded
the private pandals of high government officials, witnesses said.
           These included the pandal called "Barrack Brats" on Rangoon's
Prome Road, belonging to the family of former Burmese strongman Ne Win, and
that of intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, where a hired foreign musical troop
played for crowds.
           While the security did not dampen the spirits of young people on
the streets, there were none of the heavy traffic usually associated with the
Thingyan water festival, as many people stayed at home.
           "This is especially true of the Moslem community whose younger
people are usually in the thick of the water-dousing and carousing with the
rest," one Moslem source said.
           Because of fears of renewed religious unrest, young members of
most Moslem families have stayed in their community mosques since the
festivities started and will stay out of view until new year comes, he said.
           "They sleep there and are fed there and are being kept busy with
Koran studies," he added.
           Last month, mosques and Moslem properties were attacked by
Buddhist monks, after unrest which started in the northern city of
Mandalay spread to other cities, including Rangoon.
           The source said that an Islamic religious festival, which had
coincided with Burmese New Year's Day on April 17, had been shifted to the
following day.
           Moslem leaders had also decided to forego the traditional culling
and feasting of livestock for "Bakhri Eid" because of religious tension, he


April 10, 1997
Elizabeth Hsu

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) -- In accordance with the government's "going south"
policy, the China External Trade Development Council (CETRA) is
planning to devote more attention to Myanmar [Burma] in the coming year.
CETRA Secretary-General Kao Yi-hsin told reporters Wednesday that
CETRA plans to set up a representative office in Myanmar in the near future
to help Taiwan businesses make inroads into that country, whose former name
is Burma.
Myanmar, bordered by India, Bangladesh, mainland China, Thailand and
Laos, is expected to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) by the year 2000.
Myanmar's enormous potential has already prompted firms from
Singapore, Britain, Thailand, France and Malaysia to invest in the country,
which is rich in natural resources including timber, minerals, crude oil
and natural gas.
CETRA has also learned that two joint ventures with financial backing
from Taiwan have been permitted to open banks in Myanmar.
Kao added that the ROC [Republic of China] government has already
formed a task force to promote Taiwan investment in the emerging Asian
Members of the task force include officials from the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of
Transportation and Communications, and executives from CETRA and the
Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce.


April 13, 1997
Yindee Lertcharoenchok

A US-BASED environmental network has launched an international letter
campaign urging three world -renowned conservation organisations to stop all
activities in Burma, as they could bestow a form of legitimacy on the
Burmese junta.
	The campaign targets the New York based Wildlife Conservation
Society (WCS), the Washington based Smithsonian Institute (SI) and the
Worldwide Fund for Nature United Kingdom (WWFUK).
	Through its campaign "Free Burma: No Petro- dollars for Slorc",
the International Rivers Network, based in Brekeley, California, has called
on international human rights groups, environmental organisations and
indigenous peoples to express their disapproval of the three organisations'
involvement in wildlife projects in Burma.
	The Rivers Network quoted an article in the British newspaper The Observer
on March 23, headlined "Save the Rhino, Kill the People", which reported
that the WCS, SI and WWF-UK had been involved in various wildlife surveys,
training. Programmes and consultations on "nature reserves" proposed by the
Burmese junta.
	In the article, Ye Myint, adviser to Forestry Minister Lt Gen
Chit Swe, said that the Burmese junta planned to establish "a unique million
hectare biosphere," Myinmolekat Nature Reserve, in the Karen state and to
develop Lanbi Island Marine National Park, part of the Mergui Archipelago
off southern Burma, into an "eco- tourism venture".
	The venture was part of a plan to open the 300 kilometre Mergui
Archipelago to mass tourism and scientific study, the article said.
	A senior policy adviser, Aung Din, told the newspaper that
international environmentalists were lending the junta "their expertise and
	"The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Smithsonian Institute
were helping to run both projects," Aung Din said. "Other organisations were
also involved. We have a very close relationship with Worldwide Fund
	Aung Din said that WWF-UK had contributed Lb(currency) 2,000 (Bt 84,600)
towards a WWF conference on Asian elephants in Rangoon in
	Aung Than, director of forestry in southern Tenasserim Division,
also spoke of the Forestry Ministry's "open channel of communication with
the WWF".
	He said that the WWF had discussed the new nature reserves with
the ruling Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC),
encouraged Burma to become a member of the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species and made an "exploratory mission" to Burma.
	Robin Pellow, director of the WWFUK, was quoted as saying that
the WWF had done an elephant survey in Burma in 1992, a wildlife survey last
year and planned a "quick and dirty" tiger survey in the future.
	In a written statement, Pamela Wellner, coordinator of the Free
Burma project, criticised Slorc's ongoing "massive offensive against the
Karen people in the Tenasserim Division."
	Slorc troops had invaded the area to ensure the construction of a
number of gas projects, including the Unocal-Total pipeline, a high way from
Thailand to the Andaman Sea and the nature reserves.
	Burmese troops had destroyed villages, tortured, raped and
murdered civilians. Tens of thousands of Karen have fled to Thailand where
they are living in squalid, unsanitary conditions.
	Spokesmen for the Karen National Union (KNU) said the Slorc's
proposed Myinmolekat Nature Reserve would infringe on the KNU's
Kaserdoh Wildlife Sanctuary, which was established in 1982.
	The KNU had requested international assistance to upgrade and
manage the sanctuary, which was recognised by forestry experts and wildlife
biologists in June 1992 as a pristine tropical rain forest, abundant in
forest resources and many rare  and endangered species.
	A senior KNU official said that his group has no objection to the
establishment of Myinmolekat Nature Reserve, but strongly opposes Slorc's
use of violence and the gunpoint eviction of people from the area.
	Participants in the letter campaign are asked to urge the three
major conservation organisations to "cease all relationships with the Slorc
regime immediately, there by preventing your organisations from lending a
facade of legitimacy to the brutality being perpetuated in the region that
you are trying to portent."
	The campaign asks the WCS, SI and WWF-UK and WWF International if they have
received cash or contributions from foreign oil giants investing in Burma.
	WCS president William Conway on Friday questioned the motives
behind the letter campaign, accusing the Rivers Net work of seeking publicity.
	He would not say if his society received funds from foreign
petroleum companies investing in Burma, saying he "wouldn't know
which companies are in Burma".
	Speaking by telephone form New York, Conway said WCS is an
"apolitical" organisation active in more than 50 countries.
	"People form both sides recognise that what we do is good in the
long term for the well-being of the environment and nature. We have nothing
to do with the (Burmese) regime," he said.
	WCS did not contribute money to Slorc, but did "train park
rangers to do their job". 
	He said the Rivers Network's campaign was the first time any
political group had questioned the society's activities.
	A WCS representative, Alan Rabinowitz, did make a wildlife survey on Lanbi
Island, but left there months ago.
	WWF-UK also denied involvement in Burma. 
	We have absolutely nothing in Burma. No projects, nothing at all.
I don't know why they will write to us," press officer Farrow Cherry said.
	She agreed the organisation made "a small donation" of Lb (currency) 2,000
to the World Conservation Union, which helped organise an elephant
conference in Burma. But WWF-US had no prior knowledge of the conference venue.
	The Slorc-controlled English language daily New Light of Myanmar reported
on Nov 6 that a memorandum of understanding on the
establishment of the Myinmolikat Nature Reserve was signed on
Sept 2 between the Burmese Forestry Department and the Moattrama
Gas Transportation Company.
 	It said the work is being done by "Total Foundation, a non-profit
organisation, dedicated to protecting biodiversity, whose sole task is to
carry out environmental projects."

April 14, 1997

The Free Burma Coalition is joining hands with our brothers and sisters from
the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW), AFL-CIO in
OCAW-initiated "3 Days for Burma."  This 3 days action will begin officially
on April 22 and end on April 24.  The United Mine Workers of  America will
also join us in "3 Days for Burma".

OCAW has 90,000 members including workers in Unocal, Texaco, ARCO, and
Total).  Thanks to OCAW leaders, in the form of a letter by its president
John Sweeney, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial
Organizations (AFL-CIO) has officially called on the Clinton administration
to take concrete actions against Burma.

Our primary goal is to mobilize labor unions,particularly oil unions and our
FBC member groups in the U.S. to put serious pressure on the Clinton
 administration for its refusal  to enforce economic sanctions law against
 the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and call attention to
the corporate support of Burma's military junta and "slash-and-burn"
 behavior of U.S. multinational corporations, which is causing negative
 impacts  on many U.S. workers, families, and communities.

Please DO join us as we really need your help to make this 3 Day for Burma a
resounding success. Please be sure to let us know if your group is
 participating in this action and if you would like a free copy of John
Pilger's "Inside Burma: Land of Fear," the best human rights
video-documentary, for  use in the "3 Days for Burma" and beyond.

Here are the national contacts for "3 Days for Burma":

Dr. Joe Drexler, Specil Project Director
OCAW, Email: UMWAJD@xxxxxxx
Tel:  (303)-987-2229, Fax: (303)-987-1967

Patrick Pierce
American University FBC
Tel: (202) 885-3321; Email:  pierce@xxxxxxxxxxxx

Tel: (608)-827-7734; Fax: (608)-263-9993
Email: zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


1) Collect petition signatures in support of sanctions against Burma
 addressed to  President Clinton (Sample letter will be posted again and
 uploaded at the FBC website);
2) Show Beyond Rangoon movie (can be rented from a rental store) or John
Pilger's Inside Burma: Land of Fear (contact FBC for a free copy ASAP);
3) Leaflet, have a Free Burma info table, chalk on your campus or in your
 community, poster and flyer your neighborhood and/or school;
4) Call/write your congressional representatives and urge them to put
 pressure on the Clinton Administration for Burma sanctions;
5) Take PR actions including writing letters-to-the-editor (to local and
 national news/editorial desks), sending out press releases, getting on
 local/national radio and TV stations;
6) Hold Burma events such as candle light vigils, and guerrila theatres;
7) Host Burma lectures and talks (for speakers' bureau, please see the FBC
 webpage at http:wicip.org/fbc)
8) Hold memorial services for political prisoners and hundreds of thousands
of refugees fleeing from Burma;
9) Picket the local Unocal, ARCO, Texaco, and Total gas stations (be sure to
give them a press release explaining why you are picketing at their stations);

Please note the following :

a) We would encourage you to contact local labor unions to see if they would
be interested in taking a joint action in support of "3 Days for Burma".
 It is NOT necessary to have  OCAW locals in your community since this
 economic sanction campaign is already endorsed by AFL-CIO.  HOWEVER,  if
you don't have time or energies to get in touch with labor unions in your
localaties, you can simply do your Burma event on your own.  Nor do your
actions have to be on carried out on April 22, 23-24.  You can take actions
either a week before or after, April 22-24 insofar as you announce this as
part of OCAW-FBC "3 Days for Burma".

b) Many of the spiders will be participating in Earth Day Actions/Week
 (April 22), it would be great if you all can incorporate "3 Days for Burma"
 into your already planned Earth Day activities and annouce it accordingly.

c) Your actions will be broadcast into Burma via BBC, the Voice of America,
and Radio Free Asia (RFA).  This type of news is tremendously empowering for
the people of Burma.