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BurmaNet News: November 2, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
________November 2, 2000   Issue # 1654__________

NOTED IN PASSING: When does the SPDC say it stopped using forced labor?  

?last June? according to Labour Minister Major-General Tin Ngwe.  See 
Reuters: Myanmar in dock again at ILO on forced labour

?last Friday? according to Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung 
Win.  See Kyodo News: Myanmar bans forced labor in compliance with ILO

Not yet--?There are times...[when] the nation has to rely much on 
community service." Unidentified government spokesman in fax to AP.  See 
AP: Burma Govt Dismisses Allegations Of Forced Labor

*Reuters: Myanmar in dock again at ILO on forced labour
*AP: Myanmar villagers say forced labor persists, despite ILO threat
*AP: Burma Govt Dismisses Allegations Of Forced Labor
*Kyodo News: Myanmar bans forced labor in compliance with ILO
*DVB: Man Arrested With Explosives at Burma's Mergui Airport Commits 
*Myanmar Times: Visas on arrival for travellers from the Golden Land 

*SHAN: CEDAW Pervades Women's Constitutional Meet 

*In These Times: Halliburton's Love Affair with Burma's Dictators
*The Nation (Thailand): PTT signs gas deals
*Myanmar Times: No timeframe, but Govt pledges digital network 

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Reuters: Myanmar in dock again at ILO on forced labour

GENEVA, Nov 2 (Reuters) - The International Labour Organisation's key 
policy-making body opened a two-week session on Thursday during which 
Myanmar is expected to face renewed pressure over accusations of 
widespread use of forced labour. 

 An ILO team is to report next week to the ILO's Governing Body on its 
recent mission there, before a November 30 deadline for the ruling junta 
to make its laws and practices conform to an international treaty 
banning forced labour, a spokesman said. 

 In an unprecedented move last June, the annual meeting of the ILO's 174 
member states called in effect for worldwide sanctions on Myanmar after 
a 1998 inquiry found forced labour to be ``widespread and systematic.''
 But under a compromise, the forum gave Yangon five months to comply, 
setting the scene for a showdown at the ILO Governing Body's Nov 2-17 
session. The body has 28 member states, 14 employer organisations and 14 
labour groups. 

 Five ILO experts who went to Myanmar from Oct 20-26 met ministers of 
labour, home affairs and foreign affairs, and Lt.-Gen Khin Nyunt, the 
powerful Secretary One of the State Peace and Development Council who 
heads military intelligence. 

 ``Their report is being prepared. It is clear there has been 
cooperation,'' ILO spokesman John Doohan told Reuters in response to an 

 ``The question is whether the government has gone far enough in 
implementing the legal, administrative and executive measures to 
eliminate forced labour,'' he added. 

 The team's report, to be issued next week, will be followed by a full 
debate in the Governing Council the following week. 

 Trade unions have estimated that more than 800,000 Burmese are 
conscripted with little or no pay as army porters or workers in 
construction and agriculture in slave-like conditions. 

 Labour Minister Major-General Tin Ngwe told the ILO meeting last June 
that Myanmar was continuing to take measures to ensure that there were 
no instances of forced labour. 


AP: Myanmar villagers say forced labor persists, despite ILO threat

Nov. 2, 2000
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Villagers who recently escaped Myanmar said the 
army used them as unpaid laborers and porters to carry ammunition, 
despite an ILO ultimatum to the military regime to end the practice or 
face sanctions. 

 The dissident Federation of Trade Unions Burma released a report in 
Bangkok late Wednesday which it said shows civilians are still being 
forced to build roads, barracks and work on army-owned farms. 

 In June, the International Labor Organization gave the regime four 
months to show its willingness to stop forced labor. Later this month 
the ILO's members will review the situation and decide whether to 
implement unprecedented sanctions against Myanmar, also known as Burma. 

 Myanmar argues that labor is given voluntarily by people to help 
national and community development. It says it made legislative and 
administrative changes in May 1999 to bring it into line with ILO 

 Three villagers who fled across the mountainous Thai-Myanmar border 
last week told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand 
how the army had dragooned them into arduous manual tasks, giving them 
little food and no compensation. 

 ``I was walking on the road in my village when soldiers suddenly came 
and took eight of us away,'' said a 56-year old ethnic Mon farmer, 
describing his experience in September. ``They came with their guns 
pointing at us, we were afraid and we had to obey.'' 

 The villager, who did not want his name used for fear of retribution, 
said he spent 18 days with an army patrol in southern Myanmar, carrying 
baskets of rice, bullets and heavy weapon shells. 

 ``I saw other people beaten by the soldiers. I wasn't beaten because I 
could walk fast,'' he said. The villager later abandoned his farm in Ye 
township and fled by foot with his wife to Thailand. 

 Maung Maung, FTUB general secretary, urged the ILO to take a tough 
stance against Myanmar. 

 ``Anyone who is not in a military uniform is used for forced labor,'' 
he said. ``Forced labor is still going on and unless there's a change in 
the governing system of Burma, it will not go away.'' 

 The FTUB report alleged abuses across Myanmar: in the Shan, Mon, Karen, 
Chin and Arakan States, and in the Bago, Mandalay, Irrawaddy and 
Tenasserim Divisions. 

 The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962. In 1990 it ignored the 
result of general elections swept by the pro-democracy party of Aung San 
Suu Kyi and has since been repeatedly censured by the United Nations for 
human rights abuses.
 Most Asian nations opposed the ILO's decision in June asking ILO 
members _ governments, workers and employers _ to review their links 
with Myanmar. 

 David Taw of the National Democratic Front, an alliance of ethnic 
minority opponents of the regime, said that if sanctions were imposed on 
Myanmar it would add to pressure on the regime to negotiate with its 
political opponents. 


AP: Burma Govt Dismisses Allegations Of Forced Labor

Thursday, November 2 6:43 PM SGT 

BANGKOK (AP)--A Burmese government spokesman dismissed Thursday 
allegations by villagers that the army used them as unpaid laborers 
despite an International Labor Organization ultimatum to end the 
practice or face sanctions.  The dissident Federation of Trade Unions 
Burma released a report in Bangkok late Wednesday which it said shows 
civilians are still being forced to build roads, barracks and work on 
army-owned farms.  

The spokesman called the allegations fabrications and said the country 
has a tradition of voluntary community labor, most of it unrelated to 
the military.  

"There are times" when villagers and troops work together to improve the 
living standards of the village, said the spokesman in a statement faxed 
to the Associated Press in Bangkok.  Due to lack of equipment and 
machinery, "the nation has to rely much on community service," he said.  

In June, the International Labor Organization gave the regime four 
months to show its willingness to stop forced labor. Later this month 
the ILO's members will review the situation and decide whether to 
implement unprecedented sanctions against Burma. 


Kyodo News: Myanmar bans forced labor in compliance with ILO

YANGON, Nov. 2 

Myanmar said Thursday it has issued a government ordinance banning 
forced labor in compliance with demands for reform made by the 
International Labor Organization (ILO). 

Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win said the order became 
effective last Friday.


DVB: Man Arrested With Explosives at Burma's Mergui Airport Commits 

Nov 2, 2000

An explosive device was seized from a plane that is about to depart for 
Rangoon from Mergui airport in Tenasserim Division and the owner of the 
device had committed suicide. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] 
correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report. [Begin Myint Maung 
Maung recording] As passengers were being checked before departure from 
Mergui airport on 28 October for the Mergui-Rangoon flight by Myanmar 
Airways Fokker jet, Military Intelligence [MI] Unit No. 19 from Mergui 
seized a radio-controlled device strapped to passenger Saw Than Naing's 
left inner thigh and two slabs of plastic explosives concealed in a 
false bottom of his traveling bag. 

As the passenger was escorted to the airport's special private room foam 
and blood started to seep from his mouth. He was immediately taken to 
the nearest hospital but died as soon as he reached the hospital. 
Furthermore, Lt. Col. Khin Maung Kywe, chairman of Mergui District Peace 
and Development Council, has asked for a statement from the MI-19 
officer who captured the suspect for his lack of responsibility. As a 
mine clearing unit from the Coastal Region Military Command had to 
search the plane for mines and explosives the morning flight to Rangoon 
was able to depart only in the afternoon while the Kawthaung-Rangoon 
flight was cancelled.

 [Description of Source: Description of Source: Oslo Democratic Voice of 
Burma in Burmese -- anti-government radio run by the National Coalition 
Government of the Union of Burma]


Myanmar Times: Visas on arrival for travellers from the Golden Land 

Volume 2, No.35 
October 30 - November 5 ,2000

THERE has been a new development in the ongoing visas-on-arrival  debate 
following an announcement by the Ministry for Tourism that tourists who 
travelled to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand would be able to use the same 
visa to enter Myanmar from next year.U Khin Maung Latt, Director General 
of Tourism, announced the policy change at a press conference attached 
to the Myanmar Travel Show in Bangkok earlier this month.

The new arrangement forms part of the "Golden Land" agreement made 
between Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to promote tourism to the 
region.The visa scheme will be linked to package tourism deals for 
tourists travelling to two or more of the four countries involved. "We 
have agreement between the Ministers of these four countries to do these 
packages," said U Khin Maung Latt. "All four countries will promote all 
four countries using flexible packages that include visas covering all 
countries (within the four) that are visited. 

"Now it is up to the tour operators to discuss with tour operators from 
the other three countries about how they are going to promote this." The 
Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) welcomed the news as a positive 
development."It is a step in the right direction," said the agency's 
Duncan McLean."The feedback I keep getting, and as we keep saying, is 
that the visa process needs to be streamlined."Experts all say that visa 
on arrival would make a huge difference to the numbers of tourists, 
perhaps to the extent of 200,000, who visit the country and that visas 
remain the biggest obstacle to visiting Myanmar." 

The visa agreement is the first action to result from the Golden Land 
agreement which was initiated by Thailand and signed earlier this 
month.The tourism promotion agreement between Cambodia, Thailand, 
Myanmar and Laos also goes by the name of Thuwannabhumi which, in the 
language of each of the four countries, means Golden Land. The Myanmar 
Travel Show is an annual expo organised by the Myanmar Government and 
held in Bangkok to promote tourism here at the start of the high season.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

SHAN: CEDAW Pervades Women's Constitutional Meet 

Shan Herald Agency, October 31, 2000

The international women's rights charter, CEDAW, was the basis for the 
participants' arguments and proposals during the 3-day constitutional 
seminar that concluded yesterday in a "liberated area". 

CEDAW, that sounds something like 'Royal Drum' in Burmese, shortened 
from Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, a 
charter adopted in 1981 by the UN, became an "open sesame" word at the 
women's seminar, entitled "The role of women in constitutional-drafting 
process", where 60 participants, about 12 of them male and the rest 
female, attended. 

Country experiences were shared by Betsy Apple (USA), Jaran Dipapichai 
(Member-elect, Commission on Human Rights, Thailand), Ms Ruengrawee 
Pichaikul (Asia Foundation, Thailand), Anita Host (Norway) and Khin 
Maung Win (Burma Lawyers' Council) among others. 
The seminar ended with 5 proposals: Implementation of the CEDAW by 
Rangoon (who signed it on 21 August 1997), Equal rights among women 
regardless of race, Enshrinement of the principle of gender equality in 
the Constitution, Special government portfolio dealing with women 
affairs and Participation of women in the constitutional drafting 
process both in national and state levels. 
The seminar was organized jointly by Burma Lawyers' Council, Forum Asia 
and Burmese Women's Union. 



_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

In These Times: Halliburton's Love Affair with Burma's Dictators

November 13, 2000


In a new report, EarthRights International, an NGO that monitors 
environmental and human rights abuses, has uncovered business ties 
between Halliburton Company and the dictatorship in Burma (Myanmar). 
While Cheney served as its chief executive, Halliburton subsidiaries 
worked   on the Yadana pipeline project in Burma. In August 2000, 
according to the report, a U.S. federal District Court found that the 
Yadana pipeline consortium "knew the [Burmese] military had a record of 
committing human rights abuses; that the Project hired the military to 
provide security for the project, a military that forced villagers to 
work and entire villages to relocate for the benefit of the Project; 
[and] that the military, while forcing villagers to work and relocate, 
committed numerous acts of violence."   Natural gas deposits were found 
in the Andaman Sea off Burma's coast in 1982. In 1 97, European Marine 
Contractors (EMC) was hired to lay more than 200 miles of offshore 
pipeline for the Yadana project. EMC is a joint venture between 
Halliburton's Energy Services Group and the Italian company Saipem. In 
1998, Bredero-Price (now named Bredero-Shaw), a subsidiary of 
Halliburton-owned Dresser Industries, manufactured coatings for the 
Yetagun pipeline, which runs parallel to the  Yadana pipeline. 
Bredero-Shaw is a joint venture between Canada's Shaw Industries and 
Halliburton. The Yadana pipeline runs from the Andaman Sea via Burma to 

In March 1996, Cheney personally signed an agreement between the 
national Gas Authority of India and Brown & Root International, a wholly 
owned subsidiary of Halliburton, to build a pipeline between India and 
Burma's offshore deposits.

Not surprisingly, USA Engage and Cheney played a role in defeating a 
Massachusetts selective purchasing law, which was overturned by the 
Supreme Court this June. Cheney filed an amicus brief against the law, 
which sought to isolate the Burmese regime because of its 
well-documented human rights abuses, including forced labor and torture. 
The full report, "Halliburton's Destructive Engagement: How Dick Cheney 
and USA-Engage Subvert Democracy at Home and Abroad," can be found on 
EarthRights' Web site (www.earthrights.org). 


The Nation (Thailand): PTT signs gas deals

October 31, 2000, Tuesday

THE Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), the Electricity Generating 
Authority of Thailand (Egat) and Ratchaburi
Electricity Generating Co Ltd (Ratcha) signed two gas-sales agreements 
on Friday to boost development of the country's natural gas industry.

The signatories included PTT governor Viset Choopiban, Egat governor 
Vitaya Kotcharug and Boonchoo Direcksathapon,
Ratcha's managing director.

According to the first sales agreement between PTT and Egat, via the 
Ratchaburi master gas sales agreement, Egat will be covered by a 
"minimum-take liability" guarantee from the Ratchaburi power plant.

If the Ratchaburi power plant cannot meet the specified volume of 
natural gas wanted, Egat can turn to the Wang Noi, Tri Energy and South 
Bangkok power plants to make up the difference.

The second contract covers the 25-year gas sales agreement between PTT 
and Ratcha, in which the pricing structure and quality of natural gas 
have been specified. The gas price is to be based on the pricing 
structure in the Gulf of Thailand.

The second agreement is based on the same principles as those for other 
independent power producers (IPPs), with corresponding pricing 
conditions under a Cabinet resolution passed on November 29, 1994. 

The Ratchaburi power plant is now receiving 5.6 million cubic metres of 
natural gas from Burma and, once completed, it will be Thailand's 
largest power plant a with total production capacity of 3,645 megawatts 

The project consists of two plants generating 735 MW each, and three 
units producing 725 MW each.  In addition, another 3.96 million cubic 
metres per day of gas from Burma will be used to fuel the 170MW power 
plant belonging to Tri Energy, an IPP in Ratchaburi. The plant has been 
operational since May.

PTT is also constructing the Ratchaburi-Wang Noi gas pipeline, to be 
completed soon, to transfer gas from Burma to the Wang Noi power plant. 
The PTT has also connected the eastern gas transmission network to its 
western counterpart, to enhance the country's energy supply.


Myanmar Times: No timeframe, but Govt pledges digital network 

October 23-29  ,2000  Volume 2, No.34

TELECOMMUNICATIONS Minister Brig-Gen Win Tin has pledged to replace the 
country's 40-year-old analog phone system with a new, multi-million 
dollar digital exchange to overcome problems caused by network failures. 
The Minister's announcement was made to meeting of members of the 
Central Supervisory Committee for Communications Policy two weeks ago. 
With telecommunications playing an increasingly crucial daily business 
role for local firms and institutions, the committee is seeking ways to 
bring Myanmar's phone system up-to-date.

The move towards a digital network is already underway in some parts of 
suburban Yangon, but no timeframe has yet been established for the 
extension of that system.Brig-Gen Win Tin's comments came in the wake of 
survey results, released earlier this year, which showed Myanmar's per 
capita telephone ownership rate was just 0.5 per cent.The Minister said 
his Government's immediate goal should be to match neighbouring 
Bangladesh's per capita connection rate of 0.8 per cent. Installing new 
lines and upgrading existing cables could quickly increase the number of 
telephone connections beyond its current level of 258,825, he said.

A prominent local businessman said the entrepreneurial community would 
benefit enormously from an improved telecom system.'Obviously, and to 
varying degrees dependent on which part of town your business is based 
in, an unreliable phone system is a big problem,' he told Myanmar 
Times.'And that's not just for foreign operators based here ? it's 
across the board.'But I wouldn't want to get too excited about it just 
yet. There is a big task in front of the Government if they're serious 
about fixing the problem.'The Minister also said his Government would 
take more severe action against members of the public, and the officials 
who colluded with them, who sought to violate telecom regulations ? 
especially the illegal sale of phone lines.

The market is hungry for more sophisticated telephone systems   ügBefore 
we only dismissed or imprisoned the department's corrupt officials, but 
from now on we'll make every case of violation public to deter further 
violations by our officials,' he said.Despite the proposed reform of the 
country's telecommunication sector, however, many observers have pointed 
to the Government's regulations on the importation of sophisticated 
telecommunication devices as a profound constraint on the sector's 
development.In a situation which is peculiar to telecom goods, company's 
wishing to import equipment must have an independent foreign exchange 
(FE) income. 

FE bought from another FE earner will not entitle it to undertake the 
import.Other problems have also been cited in the processing of 
company's applications to import the goods. In one recent case, Myanmar 
Tractors was refused a permit to import and deploy wireless telephone 
equipment on the grounds that the equipment would use a high frequency 
that could disturb other functions, like civil aviation control.


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