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BurmaNet News April 25, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------  
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"  
The BurmaNet News: April 25, 1997  
Issue #703

Noted in Passing:

They [Slorc] also adhere strictly to good ethics and morals, so I don't think 
they think of staying in power forever.
 - Thai Prime Minister Chavalit (see: US SANCTIONS - REACTIONS)

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------  
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"  
The BurmaNet News: April 25, 1997  
Issue #703

Noted in Passing:

They [Slorc] also adhere strictly to good ethics and morals, so I don't think 
they think of staying in power forever.
 - Thai Prime Minister Chavalit (see: US SANCTIONS - REACTIONS)


April 24, 1997 Agencies

BURMA'S military authorities yesterday accused the US government
of imposing economic sanctions on Rangoon as a means of boosting
its political stock at home.

"The sanctions imposed by the US on Burma is for the domestic political 
consumption, " a military official said in a short and terse statement received 
here in response to questions from Agence France Presse.

The official also accused the US of trying to use democracy and
human right as a means of boosting its influence in the region,
and said the move will not alter the course being taken by the
Burmese government.

"From Burma, we have our own set aims and objectives for the good
of the nation," he said. "Since Burma is working on a straight
line towards our goal, we do not have any reason to deviate form
our original path."

Voicing similar criticism against the US, Burmese state-
controlled newspapers yesterday carried a commentary accusing the
US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of using undercover
journalists to sow dissent in the military ruled country and
warned its people to be wary of disinformation by the agency.

"Today, thousands of professional journalists who are paid by the
CIA are shuffling  their feet in various countries, including
Burma," said a commentary carried in three official Burmese newspapers. 

The Burmese media are mouthpieces  of the ruling military -
dominated State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc).

"The CIA is capable of making use of persons in the opposition or
expatriates whom they have given jobs in many broadcasting
departments," added the commentary entitled  "Who are those who
violate journalist codes of conduct".

The comments follow a US ban on new investments by American
citizens in Burma. The sanctions, announced on Tuesday, were in
retaliation for what Washington said was deepening repression by
the military, particularly of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi's opposition party.

Growing opposition in the US to the Slorc's continued repression
of the political opposition has put massive pressure on the US
governments in Burma.

The Slorc has persistently curbed the activities of Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy. Rangoon has repeatedly accused the
US of trying to stir up dissent in Burma by raising human rights
and democracy issues to get a firmer foothold in the military ruled country.

Early this year, it closed all universities in major cities after
anti-government students launched the worst street protests seen
in Rangoon since late 1988, when the Slorc seized power and
crushed pro-democracy demonstrations.

The US and other Western countries criticise Burma for human
rights abuses and for failing to recognise the NLD's victory in
the 1990 general elections.


SANCTIONS  (abridged)
April 23, 1997
by Philip McClellan

BANGKOK, April 23 (AFP) -- A US decision to clamp sanctions on Burma
is unlikely to hurt an economy which is increasingly dependent on its Asian
trading partners, a Burmese official and analysts said Wednesday.
Soe Myint, director general of the planning department in Burma's
Ministry of Energy, said Burmese officials had already shrugged off the

"We have been surviving without any assistance from the US government
for years, so I don't think these sanctions will have any effect on the
Myanmar (Burmese) economy," he said.

Soe Myint said the impact would be weakened because the sanctions did
not cover investments already in place, including a 1.2 billion dollar
natural gas venture in which Unocal Corp. is a major partner with Total of
France. The project, under which natural gas will be piped to Thailand from
the Yadana fields in the Andaman Sea is expected to be Rangoon's main
foreign currency spinner when it comes on line in the next few years.
Soe Myint said Rangoon was counting on continued interest in the
Burmese economy from Asian companies who were unrestrained by 
governmental meddling.

"I personally think that the Myanmar [Burma] nation can survive on the
strength of its own economy but we also have lots of friends in ASEAN
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and in countries such as Korea,"
he said. "I don't think we will have a problem surviving."


April 25, 1997 (excerpts)

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Not long ago, a senior American diplomat in
Burma who desperately wished for that country's pro-democracy movement 
to prevail conceded that economic sanctions would at most amount to "a 
moral shot across the bow."

The United States has less economic leverage in Burma than in many 
countries around the world. And it has failed to persuade Burma's
neighbors in the region-- its primary trading partners -- to join in any form 
of sanctions.

Nevertheless, the economic sanctions announced this week by President
Clinton have resonated in a region where the United States has been the 
most consistent voice in keeping human rights on the international
agenda. The "shot across the bow" is not without resonance.

It has drawn the kind of defensive reaction here that has led regional leaders 
in recent years to tout the idea of "Asian values," in which group welfare 
takes precedence over individual rights.

It is a bottom-line philosophy that suggests, in effect, that if everybody can 
do business and get richer, everyone will be better off. Issues like child 
labor, environmental protection and individual liberties must take second 

As Burma has opened its economy in recent years, most Asean nations have
hurried to strike business deals, even as that nation's human rights abuses 
have continued.

Despite its limited economic leverage with Burma, though, the United 
States has a significant symbolic presence there, in part perhaps because it is 
that country's most consistent critic.

In 1988, when masses of pro-democracy protesters filled the streets of the
capital city of Rangoon, the U.S. Embassy was one focal point of 
demonstrations. The United States was seen as a friend and potential savior 
of the protesters. That peaceful uprising was crushed when the army fired 
into the crowds, killing hundreds of people.

Suu Kyi has called repeatedly for the imposition of sanctions, and after the
announcement was made this week, the chairman of her National League 
for Democracy, U Tin Oo, said the move was "one we have very much
longingly hoped to happen."


April 22, 1997  (excerpts)

TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 1997 12:50 P.M.

MR. BURNS: Second, I thought perhaps I could give you some additional 
information on the Burma issue that would help to fill that out for you.

Let me just provide some background information that would help to fill out
a little bit of what the Secretary just announced. Since September 30th,
when President Clinton signed into law the Cohen-Feinstein Burma 
Sanctions Provisions as part of the Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 1997, 
the conduct of the military dictatorship in Burma, the SLORC, has been 
quite reprehensible. 

The consistent pattern of human rights abuses have continued. Let me give
you some specific examples. The arrest of more than 100 persons for
political protest, and several hundred people - if not more - remain in
detention. These are political prisoners. The monitoring, restrictions and
harassment of the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu 
Kyi, and personal harassment of her. The sentencing of 34 members of the
National League for Democracy to prison sentences. This is all the more
ironic in that these are the people who were elected in the last free
elections. That election, of course, was repudiated by the military
dictators. The closure by the SLORC of most universities in Burma since the
end of last year, in response to the student protests on the streets of
Rangoon. The assault by the Burmese army against the Karen National 
Union forces, which caused up to 18,000 Karen to flee into Thailand - the 
vast majority of them civilians, including women, children and the elderly.
Thousands of civilians were forcibly conscripted to serve as porters for
the Burmese army in its offensive. 

So we have been watching all of these events. The Burmese Government has
built for itself a notorious, a notorious record of human rights violations. We 
had hoped that the threat of sanctions might induce them to modify their 
behavior. We had hoped that all of the international attention on them, the 
fact that we had raised this with all of our ASEAN partners might serve to 
help convince them that they ought to improve their human rights situation. 
But it did not. That is why the President made the determination that he did. 

Now, I expect that an executive order, implementing this decision, will be
issued shortly. We will, of course, ensure that any regulations will be
consistent with our international obligations. I believe it's the Treasury
Office of Foreign Assets Control that will take the lead within the
Administration in drafting that executive order. We hope to have that order
ready for issuance very soon. 

I think you know that U.S. investment in Burma is approximately $240
million. That's according to Burmese Government statistics. The bulk of the
investment is in the oil and natural gas sectors. The executive order will
prohibit new investment in Burma by U.S. persons.

I would point out that many nations have already joined us in our arms
embargo against Burma, including most of the European countries with 
which we deal, Canada, Australia and Japan. The European Union and 
Japan limit their assistance to Burma to humanitarian aid. As you know, the 
United States, of course, does not encourage American - had not encouraged 
until this decision by the President - American investment. We don't have 
OPIC or Ex-Im support, and we regularly try to limit or even block Burmese 
access to support from the international financial institutions. 

QUESTION: Nick, UNOCAL was in a joint venture with TOTAL. Doesn't 
this mean just that the new investment will be laundered through Paris? 

MR. BURNS: No, I don't expect so. I think I'd refer you to a lawyer on that
first, Norm, to be specific. But I think the intent of the law is to block
any new U.S. investment by American corporations. That is going to 
severely limit the participation by American companies in economic 
investment opportunities in Burma. It's also going to send, as the Secretary 
said, a very strong signal. 

QUESTION: So the executive order isn't signed. When is it going to be

MR. BURNS: Soon. 

QUESTION: So American companies are on notice today that if they want 
to deal with Burma, they better do it quickly, right? (Laughter.) 

MR. BURNS: No, I don't think that's the case. I don't think it's going to
be possible for some CEO to get in a corporate jet and fly to Rangoon and
ink a deal tomorrow. I think that would be entirely inconsistent with what
the Administration is announcing today, and would certainly violate the
spirit of it. I don't believe anyone's going to try to do that, Carole. I
think the game is up on Burma. Burma is a bad place for business. It has
been for a long time, and now it's going to be a very bad place for

MR BURNS: There are times when the United States needs to stand up and 
say a situation in a country is so reprehensible and human rights are being
violated by such a broad degree that we have do something about it, and ask
other countries to reflect on their own responsibilities. 

The fact is that there is a great democratic leader in Burma. There were
free elections in Burma. It was all overturned by a bunch of military
dictators, and their repression has increased over the last year or so.
Something had to be done to respond to that, and this is the option that we
have selected. We think it's in our own best interests to do this. Yes. 

QUESTION: The delegation in Europe, talking about Iran, any plans for 
them to also bring up Burma? 

MR. BURNS: Well, Peter Tarnoff, the special adviser, is in Paris today
talking to the French Government. He was in Bonn last night and early this
morning. His agenda is really Iran, and the team with him are Middle East
experts. I'm sure that if questions are raised about this, he is perfectly
capable of answering them. Our ambassadors in all of those countries will
be asked to go in and talk to host governments about why we have 
undertaken this initiative. We hope that the European governments will now 
reflect on their responsibilities in this important question of Burmese human 
rights violations. 


April 22-25, 1997


April 22, 1997 (on the Senate Floor)

Burma is a democracy denied. It is a country with a democratic past. With
our help it can have a democratic future.

Let us be clear. This is not only about human rights and trade. This is about 
our commitment to democracy. 

Finally, I would note that this is not an end to our efforts in Burma , but
a beginning. Strong bilateral pressure needs to be supplemented with
multilateral action. I call on other nations which share our concern for
the people of Burma to join us. Most importantly, the SLORC should know
that we will remain vigilant and continue to defend the rights of Burmese
democracy leaders.

April 23, 1997  (in The House of Representatives)
Ms. FURSE. This is absolutely the right thing to do in the face of growing 
oppression of the Burmese people at the hands of Burma 's State Law and 
Order Restoration Council.

This is an important message to other nations considering further
investment in a nation with a repressive military junta illegally governing
it. The imposition of sanctions will facilitate a dialog with those who are
seeking democracy and will help to make 1997 a year of change. This could
be the year the SLORC's power is broken.

(AP: U.S. Ban on New Investment, April 23, 1997)

Clinton's decision was "long in coming and fully justified.'' 
Repression in Burma "is an affront to basic human values embraced by all 
Americans.''  Congressman Gilman, House International Relations 
Committee Chairman


  Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., chairman of the Senate Appropriations
  subcommittee on foreign operations, praised the decision but said he would
  press for a more comprehensive ban on investment in Burma. 


Labels Burma Sanctions a Serious Error
(PRNewswire April 22, 1997)

"Today's decision to impose unilateral economic sanctions on Burma 
represents a failure of American foreign policy.  The best tool we have for 
promoting values and democracy is to be actively engaged abroad.  
Unilateral sanctions rarely work and are often counterproductive because 
they isolate a country from American influence," said Frank Kittredge, Vice 
Chair Of USA*ENGAGE and President of the National Foreign Trade 

USA*ENGAGE and its 466 members have once again called upon the 
United States to stop the proliferation of unilateral sanctions as its primary 
tool of foreign policy. 

(AP: U.S. Ban on New Investment, April 23, 1997)
The president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jerry 
Jasinowski, said: "Unilateral economic sanctions are no substitute for a 
serious foreign policy. The measures will harm the interests of  the very 
people the law was designed to help -- the impoverished Burmese people -- 
while doing nothing to advance human rights.''

(Reuters, Texaco Bemoans U.S. Sanctions on Burma, April 22 1997)

"We will abide by all U.S. laws, including those that may 
affect trade and investment in Myanmar (Burma). Texaco believes, 
however,  that unilaterally imposed sanctions on any country are ineffective 
and  should be implemented only through international organisations," said 
Yorick Fonseca, a Texaco spokesman.

Texaco is the largest shareholder and operator for the Yetagun 
gas field, which is estimated to have recoverable reserves of about one 
trillion cubic feet of gas. The field, discovered in 1992, is in 337 feet of 
water about  125 miles off Burma's western coast in the Indian Ocean.
It is currently being commercially evaluated and may involve major 
investment in a pipeline to carry gas to Thailand.


(Nation: Canberra Decides Not to Join New Curbs, April 24 1997)

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said through a spokesman
Australia had already imposed a number of restrictions on
dealings with Burma and had consistently condemned Burma's State
Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) regime. But he added,
"I don't believe that the imposition of similar measures by
Australia against new investment in Burma would make any
significant difference to the situation."

Australia has used the Asean regional forum, which is moving to
admit Burma, to pressure Burma directly and indirectly to
recognise the legitimacy of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi's election victory.

Downer's spokesman said since 1989 Australian investment in Burma
totalled US$30 million (Bt 780 million), accounting for only 0.9
per cent of the country's foreign investment approvals.

Existing policy did not encourage or discourage trade and kept
aid flows away from Burmese government agencies.

"Australia will continue to work through international channels
to promote positive change in Burma and encourage regional
countries to use their access to the Slorc to the same end," he added. 

April 23, 1997 (Press Statement)

"The reported decision of the Clinton Administration to impose new 
sanctions on the SLORC regime in Burma stands in stark contrast to the 
pathetic inaction and hypocritical hand wringing of the Howard 
Government", the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Brereton, 
said today. 

The past twelve months have seen a sharp deterioration of the human 
rights situation in Burma.  In response, the Labor Opposition called last 
December on the Howard Government to impose the following sanctions on 
the SLORC: 

suspend the issue of visas for visits by Burmese officials and other  persons 
associated with the SLORC;  actively discourage Australian citizens from 
visiting Burma; actively discourage Australians trade with Burma; intensify 
diplomatic efforts to bring international pressure to bear on  the SLORC and 
to work actively against the interests of the SLORC in all  appropriate 
international forums; and  put the SLORC on notice that diplomatic 
relations will be downgraded in the event of further deterioration of the 
situation in Burma.

"Australia should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States 
in defence of universal human rights.  Instead, under the Howard 
Government, human rights appears to be emerging as  a major point of 
difference and contention between Canberra and Washington."


BURMA  April 22, 1997  (abridged)

Forced labour, forced porterage, summary execution, arbitrary 
imprisonment and rape by the State Law and Order Restoration Council 
continues. The UN Commission on Human Rights recently passed, by 
consensus, the strongest resolution ever on Burma. Tens of thousands of 
Karen civilians have been forced to flee Thailand to escape the Burmese 
army's offensive against the ethnic opposition force, the Karen National 
Union. Last year, more than 2000 democratic activists were arrested and 
roughly 260 members of the 1990 elected party, the National League for 
Democracy, are now imprisoned. Schools and universities have been closed 
indefinitely in Rangoon following crackdowns on peaceful student 
demonstrations last December.

In 1996, Canada allowed over $10 million worth of garments from Burma 
into the country even though 40% of the garment industry is owned by the 
SLORC's arms procurement agency. Canadian mining companies are in 
joint ventures with the SLORC to extract natural resources in Burma, 
contributing to the hard currency SLORC needs to maintain its army of 
400,000. SLORC allocates half of its national budget to defense 
expenditures though Burma has no external enemies. Canada maintains 
general trade preferences with Burma which allowed the SLORC to save 
$1.5 million last year in exports to Canada. Burma is currently the main 
source of heroin worldwide and the SLORC regime profits greatly from the 
production and export of this lethal drug.

Canadian Friends of Burma states that Canada should impose immediate
economic sanctions on Burma to respond in a responsible manner to the
growing oppression in Burma by the SLORC.


(Nation: Japan Opts to Continue with existing Line, April 24, 1997)

"We have no plan for any sanctions at this moment," a Foreign
Ministry official said. "Our stance has not been changed."

Another Foreign Ministry official said Japan will "continue
providing the country with assistance on a case by case basis.
But our aid is supposed to serve people there directly."

Japan shares the same stance with Asean, which repeatedly argues
that economic engagements with the Burmese junta, and not isolation or 
sanctions would help bring about democratic reform in Burma.

(AFP: China condemns US sanctions on Burma, April 23, 1997)

"China is always against interference in other countries'
internal affairs by making use of economic means," a Chinese foreign 
ministry spokesman said.

"Isolating and excluding (Burma) will only increase tensions and
aggravate confrontation, and will benefit no side," the spokesman said.

(Thailand Times: Chavalit: US Sanctions will not Affect Burma?s ASEAN 
Bid, April 24, 1997)

"We understand what the US has done, but ASEAN will stick to its
agreements and our decision  will not depend on other countries,"
Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh told reporters.

"The Americans are sensitive about the situation in Burma, but
for us Asians, we are different, and I still believe that there
will be change in Burma and the situation will improve," Chavalit
added the premier also said that good ties between Thailand and
Burma would not be shaken, and confirmed that he will go ahead 
with a planned visit to Rangoon on May 3-4 despite the sanctions.

(Nation: Burma Ties Still Good, Assures PM, April 24 1997)

He urged the world community to be patient and said that as ''a
good friend and well-wisher" of Burma he will try to convince
Burmese junta leaders of the international concerns.

He said he believed the generals in the ruling State Law and Order 
Restoration Council (Slorc) ''will listen to me because we are friends".

The former Army chief said he is ''fully confident" that ''the
Burmese [Slorc] are good people" and said his close contact with
them had shown him that they are ''more devout Buddhists than us
[Thai people]".

'They [Slorc] also adhere strictly to good ethics and morals, so
I don't think they think of staying in power forever. One day,
when they bring peace to the country, the overall situation [in
Burma] will then improve to the level that the international
community wants to see. Please be patient," Chavalit said.

As a well-wisher and an old-time friend, I intend to talk [to the
Slorc]. They will certainly listen to me because we're old
friends. Everything should be fine," he added.

(Nation: Mahathir Speaks out Against Curbs on SLORC, April 25 1997)

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that he disagreed
with US economic sanctions and said his country's past support of
anti-apartheid regime through sanctions, "the people in Burma did not invite
sanctions except maybe for [opposition leader] Aung San Suu Kyi who has her
own political agenda," Mahathir said in a speech.

"But sanctions will affect the people in Burma ... it doesn't affect the
government," he said.

Asked about Asean's stance on the sanctions, Mahathir said: "We are not
supporting the government or individuals. We are just supporting the
inclusion of Myanmar into Asean."

(Nation: Mahathir Speaks out Against Curbs on SLORC, April 25 1997)

A Singapore Foreign Ministry statement indicated that the US investment
ban would not affect the timing of the administration of Burma into the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), expected to occur within the

"Asean considers constructive engagement as the best way facilitate
Myanmar's [Burma's] economic liberalisation which in turn will bring about
further international changes," the statement said.

(NYT: US Burmese Sanctions Get Little Backing, April 25 1997)

A government spokesman, Ghaffar Fadyl, said: "We have believed from the 
beginning that any sanctions against Burma will not bear fruitful results."

(Nation: ASEAN Unfazed by Action on Burma, April 24 1997)

A statement issued by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said the
sanctions amounted to interference in the internal affairs of a
nation. "As we have said clearly many times, Vietnam shares the
view of many countries, considering that economic sanctions are
imposed with the aim of interfering in the internal affairs of a
nation," the statement said.

(Thailand Times: Chavalit: US Sanctions will not Affect Burma?s ASEAN 
Bid, April 24, 1997)

A source in Rangoon, contacted by telephone, told Thailand Times
that though there was no official announcement of the US
sanctions, they had learned of them thanks to shortwave radio
broadcasts as well as the bush telegraph. He said that people he
had spoken with had expected the sanctions for some time and felt
that it would not affect their standard of living since most
investors deal directly with the Burmese government monopolies.


April 23, 1997 (abridged)

CRDB urges the international community to take similar measures against 
the brutal military regime in Burma.  It calls on the Association of 
Southeast Asian Nations to reject Burma's application for membership until 
such time as Burma has complied with   United Nations resolutions calling 
on the State Law and Order Restoration (SLORC) to respect the spirit and 
law of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

CRDB once again reiterates its position, enunciated at its founding in
January 1987, that the solution to Burma's domestic intranquillity should be
solved in a peaceful manner through dialogue with all dissident elements. 

(Nation: Letters to the Editor, April 24, 1997)  (abridged)

Today  marks an important day in the struggle for democracy in
Burma. I welcome US President Bill Clintons announcement that
economic sanctions have been imposed on the illegal military
junta in Rangoon. The presidents' action comes in direct response
to calls from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the democracy and ethnic
forces that are struggling to free Burma from the military dictatorship.

I urge the military regime to immediately begin a political
dialogue with Suu Kyi and the NLD. The democracy movement in
Burma is stronger than ever. Through nonviolent political
struggle, we will continue fighting the regime until freedom,
democracy and human rights are restored in Burma.


OF BURMA  (abridged)  April 24, 1997

Although the long-awaited resolution came a bit too late to spare
the lives and suffering of tens of thousands of Burmese refugees
and political activists, the restriction will create a widespread
and strong impact, not only on Burma, but countries near and far
that choose to engage the repressive regime.

Predictably, Slorc promptly, and coldly, brushed aside any impact
the sanctions might have on the country. It again stubbornly
rendered unwarranted arguments that human rights abuses exist in
the country.

The Burmese leader quashed any hope that the regime might review
its harsh policy saying: "We don't have anything to reconsider
because we are walking in a straight line."

Although Slorc is putting on a brave face in light of an imminent
economic and financial squeeze, the US sanctions are certainly a
strong political boost and supportive to the sagging morale of
the Burmese prodemocracy movement led by Nobel laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi.

The US measure is also a clear slap in the face for other nations, particularly 
Asean powers and Japan, as well as multinational companies, rushing into 
Burma arguing that economic engagement and prosperity would bring about 
political improvement, if not reform, in Burma.

SENSE  April 24, 1997

THE CLINTON administration's decision to bar further U.S. investment in 
the Southeast Asian nation of Burma has sparked charges of hypocrisy. Why 
impose sanctions on Burma but not China? Why isolate Cuba but engage 
with North Korea? Why punish Libya but do business with Nigeria?

The Clinton administration, it's true, hasn't been hobbled by consistency in 
its dealings with odious regimes. The first post-Cold War president has been 
feeling his way toward a new balance of commercial advantage, moral 
concern and other national interests, and he hasn't always come up with the 
right mix.  But even an ideal foreign policy won't produce a single, all 
purpose recipe for handling rogue states or encouraging democratization. 
Sanctions aren't the answer for every bad regime; historical precedent, U.S.
public opinion, allies' sentiment and practical questions of what is 
achievable all will and should be considered. In the case of Burma, the 
administration -- with a big push from Congress-- has ended up in the right 
place. Rarely has a nation been more deserving of economic sanction.

That's true, first, because Burma's regime is about as odious as they
come. The military bullies who run the nation engage in torture and
repression on a mass scale. Their particular specialty is press-ganging 
children and adults into slave labor.  They control the economy so tightly 
and corruptly that foreign investment can only strengthen their grip, rather 
than creating space for resistance, as it might in less authoritarian countries.

Burma also is different because it has a legitimate, democratically elected 
leader -- Aung San Suu Kyi, the courageous woman who overwhelmingly 
won a 1990 election but who has been kept under house arrest pretty much 
ever since. Unlike democrats in, say, Hong Kong, Aung San Suu Kyi has 
made clear that foreign investment and tourism are counterproductive.

Finally, there's a chance in this instance that resolute U.S. action, backed by 
a diplomatic campaign, could spur international action along the lines of the 
multilateral sanctions that helped end apartheid in South Africa. Japan, 
whose prime minister arrives for a state visit today, has resolutely barred 
foreign aid and official loans to Burma; it could do more. Europe recently 
suspended some trading privileges. Canada and Australia are debating trade
sanctions.  Only Burma's neighbors in Southeast Asia continue with no
embarrassment to favor "constructive engagement," which Sen. Daniel 
Patrick Moynihan this week called "a euphemism for doing business with 
thugs." Now, all the more, the burden is on those countries to press Burma's 
regime toward dialogue, or to join in a principled stand against Burma's 


April 24, 1997  (abridged)

RANGOON, Burma (Reuter) - A U.S. diplomat warned Thursday that 
Washington's decision to impose sanctions on Burma could have 
implications for other foreign investors but the Burmese military said U.S. 
firms will suffer missed opportunities.

Kent Wiedemann, U.S. charge d'Affaires to Burma, told Reuters in an
interview that while the initial economic impact of the move might be small, 
shockwaves would go much further.

"It's a powerful message to United States and other (foreign) companies that
this is not a good place to do business if you do so in the United States," he 

Wiedemann added that consumers in the United States -- the world's biggest
economy -- had already begun rejecting goods made in Burma because of 
concern over the human rights record of its military rulers, the State Law 
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

"These are spontaneous, or popularity-driven, actions," he said. "It's a
reaction to the negative impact of the human rights situation here."

But Burma's ruling council said that U.S. companies would suffer missed
opportunities because of Washington's decision to impose sanctions.

A formal statement issued by the SLORC said Burma would not deviate 
from its current policies as a result of the U.S. decision.

"We commonly feel sorry for the U.S. companies because they will not get a
second chance later to invest in Myanmar (Burma) if opportunities are taken 
over by companies from nations with consistent foreign policies," an official 
said, reading from a prepared statement.

Wiedemann said Washington might be prepared to reverse its decision if
Rangoon takes steps to improve human rights.

He denied Burmese government allegations made earlier that the sanctions
were intended to derail Burma's hopes of joining the Association of South 
East Asian Nations.

"Clearly it will be awkward for us dealing with a body of nations which
includes a member with which we have such sharp differences," he said. 
"Eventually Burma must be part of ASEAN, but whether it's this year is 
something ASEAN has to decide for itself."


April 24, 1997

BRUSSELS, April 24 (AFP) - The European Union has agreed to extend its
existing sanctions on Burma for a further six months in response to the 
refusal of the country's military regime to stop human rights abuses,
diplomats said.

The move has been agreed by EU governments and will be approved 
formally at a meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday in Luxembourg,
officials said.

Ministers will also discuss the United States decision this week to ban new
investment in Burma but an early decision to follow the US lead is not 

The EU moved last October to ban members of Burma's ruling junta and 
senior members of the military or security forces from travelling to
Europe. Contacts at ministerial of senior official level were also frozen.

The measures strengthened an existing package of sanctions that included 
an embargo on the sale arms, munitions and military equipment to Burma, a 
ban on military cooperation and the suspension of non-humanitarian aid or
development projects.

The EU also agreed last month to exclude Burma from the Generalised 
System of Preferences (GSP) which accords preferential access to EU
markets to goods from developing countries in protest at the Asian country's
widespread use of forced labour to promote economic development.


April 24, 1997  AP-Dow Jones

SINGAPORE - Unocal Corp is giving up on at least two natural gas
blocks located off Burma as well as other projects in the wake of
President Bill Clinton's decision to impose economic sanctions on
Burma, a senior Unocal official said.

"We were going to look at one or two additional blocks in the
offshore area in the Andaman sea, but it's clear we would not be
able to do it," John G Vandermeer, Unocal's vice president for
new ventures in South and Southeast Asia, said in a telephone
interview from his office in Singapore.

"Since we can't do new projects, we can't do new projects."
Vandermeer declined to provide further details on where the
blocks were located.

He added that Unocal would also have to forego other investment
opportunities in Burma, but declined to identify them.

Vandermeer said Unocal, the biggest investor in Burma, made the
decision to cancel further investigations into the offshore
blocks since the company had not yet signed production sharing
contracts with the Burmese government.

In January, consortium partners signed a new production sharing
contract with the Burmese government for a new offshore site,
designated Block M8, in the Andaman Sea. Located within the
Martaban Basin, the site is southwest of Blocks M5 and M6, where
the Yadana gas field is located.

This agreement secured Unocal's continued exploration on Block M8
even under a sanction, Vandermeer said.

Unocal and its consortium partners, France's Total SA and
Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production Co, are building a US$
1.2billion (Bt 31.08 billion) pipeline form Burma's Yadana
natural gas field in the Andaman Sea to an electricity generating
plant in Thailand. An offshoot to the Yadana Thailand pipeline
project a $ 750 million pipeline/power project to supply
electricity  to Burma's capital, Rangoon will still go forward as
planned, Vandermeer said.

"That is an existing project: we have agreements in place on that
one," Vandermeer said. "It's simply one of the number of projects
ongoing in the country."

In addition to a 300 megawatt power station, Unocal, with its
consortium partners, is proposing to build a 241 kilometre pipeline form the 
Yadana field to supply gas for the power plant as well as a 1,750 metric 
tonne per day fertiliser manufacturing facility. If it went ahead the complex 
would be located near Kyaiktaw, southwest of Rangoon.

Vandermeer warned, however, that the line demarcating existing
versus new projects is unclear. "It's something we have to see
how the legislation defines."

"We want to work within the law but maintain our commitment to
projects  and Southeast Asia in general."

On Tuesday, Unocal's chairman condemned the US decision to impose
sanctions on Burma, saying the move would cost the US jobs
without ensuring an improvement in human rights in Burma.

"There is no post audit here, no review mechanism to go back and
say whether we did the right thing," Unocal's chairman, Roger Beach, said.

He called the decision a "Temporary setback" to Unocal's business
plans in Burma, but said "it won't change our strategy one iota."


BANK (slightly abridged)
April 24, 1997

BANGKOK: The US sanctions placed on investment in Myanmar have
also affected the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (EXIM Bank),
especially with regard to its customers which operate export
business with the US from Myanmar.

EXIM Bank previously granted a loan to Italian-Thai Development
which won the concession to construct the Mandalay airport in
Myanmar, EXIM Bank Executive Vice President Samphan Eamrungroj 
said. Export companies which deal with the US will feel the repercussions 
of these sanctions automatically.

As a result, coordination and trading negotiations between EXIM
Bank's customers and US firm must be temporarily stopped. "The US ban 
on investment in Myanmar will directly affect business exporting to the 
US," he said.

However, he insisted that the construction of the Mandalay airport, which 
received a loan from the EXIM Bank, will not be effected since the 
construction materials required for the project are being imported from 
European countries. The US has not supported the above project at all.

Bangkok Bank Plc (BBL) Senior Vice President Prasong Uthaisaeng,
said the sanctions will have no impact on its representative
offices in Myanmar.

He said loans for investment in Myanmar will be allocated through
the bank's head office in Bangkok directly, and through the
Bangkok International Banking Facilities (BIBF).

Current customers include the construction of the Shangrila Hotel
in Myanmar, and textile industries.

Siam City Bank President Padung Techasarin, said the sanctions
imposed by the US on Myanmar are for domestic political consumption and 
will have a short-term impact on business in Myanmar.


April 25, 1997
By Kavi Chongkittavorn

Asean is inevitably facing a ''damned if you do, damned if you don't"
situation as the drama of the grouping's expansion, that is to take in the
pariah Burma, unfolds. Events during the past few weeks, including
Washington's latest toughened stand on Burma and growing political
uncertainties inside Cambodia, have hit a raw nerve with the grouping. 

US President Bill Clinton's decision earlier this week to ban new US
investment in Burma could provide the much needed catalyst for some key
Asean countries to review their positions on the admission of Burma when
their foreign ministers meet informally on May 31 in Kuala Lumpur. But it is
doubtful whether it could crack the grouping's determination to admit Burma
despite mounting pressure from the US and the European Union. 

Given the style of Asean consultation, it would be hard to detect what is
going on in the minds of its leaders right now. Asean countries make
decisions by consensus and their leaders rarely display their disagreement
to outsiders, let alone speak about it outside their conference rooms. 

Since Burma applied for membership of Asean last August, there has not been
any improvement in human rights or in the general political situation there.
While the West and Japan continue to pressure Burma, Asean stands staunchly
by its side saying political issues are not linked to its admission, which
could come in less than three months. 

Earlier this week, Asean senior economic officials completed their
consultations with Burmese authorities in Rangoon on economic cooperation,
especially its future integration with the Asean Free Trade Area. They were
impressed by the country's preparedness to join Asean's economic schemes. 

They found that Burma's economic condition, existing working systems and
legislatures could be applied to Asean frameworks without difficulty.
However, they found one potentially problematic area related to import
licence fees. Currently, Burma slaps a five per cent import licence fee on
the total value of foreign products brought into the country. 

Asean's positive assessment of Burma's entry bid began in earnest when the
first delegation visited Rangoon last November, since then several other
delegations have made similar trips to the country to brief and consult
Burmese bureaucrats about their future activities under the grouping's

Next week a delegation comprised of directors general, as part of the Asean
Standing Committee team, will take a final look at Burma before the latter's
inception into the association. Asean headquarters is preparing an
information paper detailing the steps and measures the three prospective
countries have taken to prepare for membership. The paper will be used for
the Asean foreign ministers' perusal. 

In fact, at an informal New Delhi meeting in early April, Asean foreign
ministers could have reached a decision to admit Laos, Cambodia and Burma,
if it was not for Thailand's ''wait and see" attitude. 

Bangkok's position on Burma has been repeatedly shaken by the incidents
along the Thai-Burmese border, as well as by growing domestic and foreign
pressures about Burma aimed at Thailand. Mass media, human rights activists
and non-governmental organisations have already deplored Thailand's recent
action in pushing back Karen refugees across the border. 

Right after her appointment, US State Secretary Madeleine Albright wrote a
letter to Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasan urging Thailand and Asean to
carefully consider the future admission of Burma and exercise its influence
to persuade the leaders of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(Slorc) to hold dialogue with the opposition. 

That much was clear from Washington as it continues to extend the benefit of
the doubt to the Slorc regime. But nothing really positive has come out to
warrant America's further benign attitude on Burma. Washington's latest move
was an incremental measure to put extra pressure on Asean and US businessmen
who want to invest in Burma. The US is Burma's fourth largest investor after
France, Singapore and Malaysia. 

Like rubbing salt into a wound, the political situation inside Cambodia,
after last month's grenade attack, which killed 15 people and injured over a
100, could also shatter the Asean dream of having all 10 Southeast Asian
countries in its fold by July. 

The marriage of convenience between the two power wielders, First Prime
Minister Norodom Ranariddh and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, is on the
rocks. Chances are these relations may not be able to survive all the
political odds and the adversarial nature of Cambodian fractional politics
in the months to come. 

At first, both leaders saw eye-to-eye that membership in Asean would
increase the government's creditability abroad. Since May 1993, the leaders
of Funcinpec and CPP have been persuading regional and international
communities, such as Asean, Europe, the United States and Japan, that they
are a partnership in progress and have overcome their partisan differences
and bias. 

As the two main protagonists sharpen their positions and realignments with
friends and foes as the communal and national elections draw near, it has
become increasingly clear that they will not be able to work together as
they have done over the past four years. 

As such, it raises an important issue whether the National Assembly, which
is almost equally divided by followers of Funcinpec and CPP, can push
through the necessary legislation and ratifications to abide by all Asean
economic agreements and treaties. Funcinpec has 58 seats of the 120-seat
assembly, while CCP controls 51. But Hun Sen has additional support from at
least five or six MPs from breakaway factions of the Buddhist Liberal
Democratic Party and a defector from Funcinpec. 

A few days after the blast, Foreign Minister Ung Huot reiterated to a
visiting delegation from the Asean Secretariat that Funcinpec and CCP
leaders were committed to push through the assembly all the required
approvals and ramifications for Cambodia's membership. 

It is an open secret that King Norodom Sihanouk and the Funcinpec party are
less keen to join Asean, while Hun Sen and the CPP is anxious to be part of
the grouping as soon as possible. Despite their cooperation rhetoric, it
still remains to be see what Asean's response will be when the push comes to

These new developments present Asean with challenges as it enlarges its
organisation. Asean leaders have said that all three applicants would be
taken in simultaneously. But can they, given the reality at ground level in

Is it possible that the pragmatic Asean would admit Laos, which has been an
observer in Asean for the past five years, and delay the entry of Cambodia
and Burma? Or, despite all foreseeable problems, will Asean persist with
admitting all of them at once, fearing that any delay would invite outside
interference and subsequently dilute Asean influence in the process? (TN)


April 25, 1997  (abridged)

Not only meant to punish Slorc, the US sanctions against Burma are also a
tactical move in pressuring Asean, writes a special correspondent to The

As the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(Asean) prepare to meet in Kuala Lumpur on May 31 to decide whether or not
to admit Burma into the regional grouping, the US government found the
timing was perfect to announce more sanctions against the authoritarian
regime in Burma. 

More importantly, the US decision came just two weeks before Prime Minister
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is to visit Rangoon to discuss the subject of Asean
membership with Burmese leaders. 

Albright's ability to cue and set the stage for her statements leads many
observers to believe that Washington had actually made the decision over a
week ago and was only waiting for the right moment to announce it to the world. 

The question is, why now? 
To answer this question, one only needs to look at the upcoming informal
meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur on May 31. 

According to Asean sources, the purpose of the meeting is to decide whether
or not to admit Burma, Cambodia and Laos into the Asean fold at the annual
meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur in July this year. 

By making its announcement just weeks before the scheduled Asean meeting,
the US was therefore actually aiming to make Asean sit up and listen and not

The US administration is fully aware that the limited sanctions will have
little or no effect on the policies of the Burmese military junta or on the
Burmese economy. 

Instead, what the US government is hoping is that the sanctions will be a
major factor in the consideration of Asean foreign ministers when they meet
to decide on the membership of Burma later next month. 

The message that Washington probably wants to send to Asean leaders is that:
''You are welcome to admit Burma at your own risk. But, when you do, you
will surely complicate your relations with us and guess who will suffer from
the consequences?" 

Therefore, what seems to be a punishment against Slorc is, in fact, an
astute diplomatic offensive designed to pressure Asean. 

Whether Asean likes it or not, the ball is now in its court. To find a way
out that would please everyone will not be easy. Ever since Asean foreign
ministers came to the decision last year that Burma, Cambodia, and Laos
should be simultaneously admitted into Asean, most probably within this
year, Asean leaders have taken turns travelling to Rangoon to give
assurances and encouragement to their Burmese counterparts. 

Prime Minister Chavalit himself has recently announced that he will be
visiting the Burmese capital from May 3 to 4, which is less than two weeks

One thing is for sure, the visit will put Chavalit in a very awkward
position. On a high-level visit such as this one, Chavalit cannot afford to
disappoint his hosts with vague or ambiguous statements on Burma's Asean

At the same time, whatever statement that Chavalit makes in Rangoon on this
matter will be taken at face value by all observers, both inside and outside

It should be interesting to hear what Chavalit has to say, especially when
it is expected that, in the next few weeks, we will see and hear more
reactions to the US decision from countries, groups of countries, or
organisations ­ particularly from the European Union (EU) ­ and various
academic and human rights groups. 

But whatever Chavalit and other Asean leaders have to say, one thing is
clear: Once again, Asean has been put on the defensive on the subject of
Burma's membership and this time there is no easy way out. (TN)