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BurmaNet News: November 9, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
________November 9, 2000   Issue # 1658__________

*DVB: Army officers to receive half of salary in foreign exchange 
*BBC: Burma makes progress against forced Labour
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Ceasefire Group Leader: Forced Labor is 
still on
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Positive Officers Have Negative Future
*Myanmar Times : Australian human rights team completes training for 25

*FEER: China Recognizes Burmese Party
*Mizzima: Dissidents plan global protest against forced labour in Burma

*Myanmar Times : Seoul Company Provides Power  
*Wall Street Journal: Myanmar's Last Chance to Avoid More Sanctions

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

DVB: Army officers to receive half of salary in foreign exchange 

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
November 09, 2000, Thursday

Army officers to receive half of salary in foreign exchange certificates 

Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 6th November 
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned from a reliable source that 
beginning January 2001 all officers from sub-lieutenant upwards of the 
Burmese military will receive half their salary in FEC [Foreign Exchange 
Certificate; 1 FEC unit equals 1 US dollars].

Since last April, all government employees and Defence Services 
personnel have enjoyed only a five-fold raise in their salaries. As the 
discrepancy in privileges still exists between the junior military 
officers and the top brass, the scheme to pay half the salary in FEC 
came into consideration. The main factor the junior officers point out 
is that some commodities at the big department stores in the big cities 
can be bought only with USD [US dollars] or FEC. The people in the 
military who can afford to carry FECs are the generals and the top 
brass. That is why the Controller of Military Accounts of the Defence 
Services has decided to give half the salary of military officers in 
Burmese currency, kyat, and the remainder in FEC from January 2001 to 
solve this discontentment. This report was filed by DVB correspondent 
Nay Myo Aung.

Furthermore, Capt Sai Win Kyaw, who is at the Thai-Burma border, told 
DVB that the scheme to give half the salary of the military officers  in 
FECs goes to show that the SPDC [State Peace and Development  Council] 
itself does not believe in the Burmese kyat. 
[Capt Sai Win Kyaw] As for me, this shows the present SPDC military  
government's lack of trust in their paper currency, the kyat. Due to 
high  inflation and the drop in value of the kyat, the SPDC itself does 
not have  faith in their own currency. I believe that the scheme to give 
half the  salary in FECs is a move to lure all the military officers to 
their side.

[DVB correspondent Khin Hnin Htet] Do you think this is the correct way 
to organize the military officers?

[A] I don't think so. It will be all right if they can give the FECs to 
all the  government employees in the administrative machinery. But now 
that  they have only chosen military officers, it is like discriminating 
the military officers from the other ranks and secondly, it also seems 
like  differentiating the military officers from other civil officials. 
I do not see  this as a very good prospect. 
[Q] Capt Sai Win Kyaw was jailed for over 10 years for
participating in the  1988 mass democracy protests. After his release 
from jail he came to the  Thai-Burma border. Capt Sai Win Kyaw also said 
this scheme of enticing the military officials with the FEC bait also 
increases the peoples'  dissatisfaction. 
[A] This could really lead to some discontentment. I mean, if the lower  
ranks  in the military, state employees, and officials from the civil  
administration  feel that they are being discriminated I do not think 
the  SPDC military junta's administrative structure will last too long.

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 6 Nov 00 


BBC: Burma makes progress against forced Labour

BBC,Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 15:39 GMT 

A report by the United Nations Labour Agency has concluded that Burma 
has made some progress towards changing its laws to end the use of 
forced labour.But it says it is unclear what the country's authorities 
are doing to ensure the practice is stopped.  
The report follows a visit to Burma last month by members of the 
Geneva-based International Labour Organisation, the ILO.  

Its publication comes ahead of discussions by the ILO's governing body 
on how far Burma has complied with ILO recommendations.  

The Burmese military government said it had issued a directive banning 
the practice. Refugees claim the military raid villages forcing the 
inhabitants to work for them for long hours and no pay, in the worst 
cases, they claim, those unable to keep up are beaten or killed.  


Shan Herald Agency for News: Ceasefire Group Leader: Forced Labor is 
still on

9 November 2000

A high ranking officer from a ceasefire group in northern Shan State 
wrote  to S.H.A.N. forced labor had not stopped despite ILO's visit last 

"Nothing has changed as far as the Shan State is concerned, when it 
comes to forced labor, "he said. in his faxed letter in reply to 
S.H.A.N.'s inquiry. (His name is withheld here for fear it might 
endanger  him). "Those who are imposing forced labor on the people have 
always been the army and its units and the civilian authorities are 
helpless against them." 
He added that now that harvest time had come, the local military 
authorities were demanding that the farmers sell 5 baskets of rice for 
each acre at K. 350 per basket. (The market price is at least twice as 
much, said another source.) 

"Apart from that, they are busy collecting tax from the poppy farmers," 
he said. 
Rangoon said its ordnance on banning forced labor went into effect on 27 
October, the day after the ILO fact-finding team left Burma. 


Shan Herald Agency for News: Positive Officers Have Negative Future

6 November 2000

Reporter: Saeng Khao Haeng

According to a high ranking Burmese military officer along the Thai 
border,  Rangoon is launching a purge campaign against its HIV - 
positive officers  whose number is on the rise.

During the past few years, he said, commissioned officers graduating 
from  Maymyo's Defense Service Academy (Burma's West point), and 
Officers  Training Schools (OTS) from Ba Htoo, Kalaw, Mingladon and 
other training  institutes have been undergoing blood-tests, and those 
found with HIV or  AIDS were discharged from the army without 
compensation or benefits for  their past services.

"One of my subordinate officers was sent to Kalaw (southern Shan State) 
for  staff training early last year, and when he was discovered infected 
with  HIV, he was not only rejected entry to the training course, but 
both his  rank and commission were removed," said the officer who spoke 
on condition  of anonymity. "For those who had committed other offenses, 
even murderers  and rapers, they were given a chance to serve in other 
capacities such as  USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) 
functionaries or as  heads of fire brigades, but for who were 
unfortunate enough to catch AIDS,  there is no more future for them as 
far as the army is concerned". 

According to him, at least 15-20% of the officer class is ridden with 
the  syndrome.


Myanmar Times : Australian human rights team completes training for 25

October 30 - November 5 ,2000

WHEN Australian Chris Sidoti arrived in Yangon three weeks ago he left 
behind a domestic media braying about "misguided policy" and a bristling 
opposition that had tried to stall his mission via an emergency debate 
in the country's national parliament.But Sidoti, Australia's former 
Human Rights Commissioner, is a veteran of an industry which is 
inevitably as much bedded in conflict and controversy as it is aimed at 
protection and justice.

He came to Myanmar to head a two-week human rights workshop for 25 
hand-picked officers and public servants, funded by the Australian 
Government through its AusAid agency, and put together by Monash 
University. And he did so with a clear perspective on why. "We can't 
criticise people who don't meet human rights standards if they don't 
know what those standards are," Sidoti told Myanmar Times. "There is, in 
international law, a right to education about human rights and an 
obligation to provide that education to people in positions that can 
affect the human rights of others.

"Certainly I am quite sure that there is, in the general community, some 
innate knowledge about what human rights are, what human beings are." 
But human rights law is a legal system, it's not just a good feeling and 
it's not just an ethical or a moral system. It's a legal system and it's 
written down. There are laws and obligations and requirements. We can't 
criticise people for breaching those agreements if we don't tell them 
what they are."And when people know what they are, when they understand 
this not as an ideological tool but as a properly structured legal 
system they take a different approach to human rights. They know more 
what is expected of them and they know why it's expected of them and 
they know what the positive consequences of observing human rights 
are."That's not to say that one little training program, or even 100 
little training programs are suddenly going to change any single nation 
or the entire international community, it doesn't work like that.

"But these kinds of programs, human rights education generally, in my 
experience, is an essential ingredient of better protection and 
promotion of human rights."The genesis of Australia's involvement in 
human rights training here came via the country's former ambassador to 
Myanmar, Lyndall McLean, and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander 
Downer, who met with his Myanmar counterpart U Win Aung to discuss the 
idea in 1998/99.In August last year, Sidoti visited the country to meet 
with senior members of the State Peace and Development Council on the 
proposal and, in April, Monash University's Kate Eastman arrived to 
develop the course, working with a local contact group.The training 
proper got underway in August when two groups of 25 people undertook a 
short course on human rights and responsibilities which introduced the 
seven international human rights treaties developed since the end of 
World War II.

>From those two groups, 25 participants were selected on the basis of 
interest, language skills ("unfortunately", said Sidoti, "we only speak 
English"), relevant area of operation and capacity to absorb and use the 
information provided ? for the intensive two-week course run this 
month.They were men, and five women, from each of four ministries within 
the State Peace and Development Council: Foreign Affairs, Attorney 
General's office, Social Welfare and Home Affairs. The latter group 
included police and prison officers plus civil servants and, across the 
board, it was "what we would describe as middle to upper middle 
management level", Sidoti said.The two-week intensive course presented a 
more strictly legal approach to teach participants what the 
international legal human rights system was, how it worked, where it 
derived from and how the United Nations operated within that framework.

The course looked specifically at the international conventions on the 
rights of women, children, race discrimination and torture and then 
considered models, within South East Asia, of how human rights law had 
been implemented."The institutions in this region now number eight that 
fully comply with the global standards," Sidoti said."Within ASEAN, 
Indonesia and Phillipines have had institutions for some years that are 
operating effectively.Thailand has passed its law and has either just, 
or is just about to establish its commission by appointing members. "So 
there are actually quite practical models and examples from other 
countries of ways that governments approach the task of meeting their 
human rights obligations."And this is where the notion, not only of 
human rights training but, more fundamentally, of an effective, 
meaningful, international human rights system cannot but invite 
scepticism. The idea, for example, of an Indonesian system that is 
"operating effectively".

But Sidoti insisted that, in the case of that country to continue the 
example, the establishment of a Human Rights Commission had ügmade an 
enormous contribution to the development of human rights over the last 
six years. "Allegations of human rights abuses are consistently, and 
loudly, levied against the Myanmar Government by a host of foreign 
countries including the United States and European Union. Despite the 
Government's statements that those allegations are unfounded, one would 
be hard pressed to find a more controversial subject on which to 
undertake training in this country.But Sidoti said he felt "extremely 
positive about the program" and reiterated that "first and foremost, 
what the program is about is providing information to people who have 
not had access to it in the past". And he agreed that such a program 
must, in the final analysis, seek change.

"It's setting out to change mindsets, simply because information does 
change mindsets and the Government of Myanmar itself has wanted, and 
said it wants, a change of mindset," he said."From 1960 until well into 
the 1980s this was a society whose government cut it off from the rest 
of the world. "With the last 10 years there has been an enormous change 
in the Government of Myanmar's attitude to the rest of the world. "Now 
that indicates, very clearly, a change of mindset on the part of the 
Government. I certainly think the Myanmar Government sees the program as 
being a way of helping its civil servants to obtain the information they 
need and to get new ideas, new outlooks and perspectives." Much of the 
course was conducted using case studies based on global experience - 
race relations in Australia and armed conflict in African states were 
among the thorny scenarios used to construct "hypothetical" problems.

Chris Sidoti  

Participants were broken into groups and, given a scenario and role 
within it, asked to present their respective cases within a human rights 
legal framework."It was a very enjoyable learning experience for all of 
us and each of the groups threw themselves completely into their 
position," Sidoti said."It was a very productive exchange because they 
looked through the arguments and they looked at the law and they were 
able to fire questions backwards and forwards and respond to each 
other." "And they came up with fantastic ideas." We found the 
participants really involving themselves in this workshop. The questions 
and the comments were intelligent and insightful, the participation was 
at a very high level ? we had no hangers on. All participated, all were 
interested, and all contributed to the discussions.

"The evaluations that they completed without exception talked about how 
much they'd learned, the exposure to new ideas."Sidoti said the program 
had given the participants ? including a few lawyers among them ? a 
unique opportunity to study, in-depth, the highly specialised area of 
international human rights law. It was "new information, and they 
responded very positively".The critical next step, for the program's 
organisers, for the Australian Government that pays for it, and for the 
Myanmar Government which allows it all to happen, is evaluation.If that 
process gives this project the green light, then more human rights 
training with more Australian backing will be headed this way.

Sidoti said his discussions with local authorities had revealed a strong 
desire not only for the program to continue, but for it to expand.ügSo I 
feel quite optimistic about the assessment of it from the end of the 
Myanmar Government.ühSidoti said he could not speak for the Australian 
Government, but that he believed Minister Downer would ügmaintain his 
view that this kind of program is very helpful..and so should 
continueüh.ügIf anyone says to me that üeIüfm interested in human rights 
trainingüf, I am more than happy to do what I can to see that he or she 
receives it,üh Sidoti said.

ügWithout doubt, one of the big advantages of globalisation is that 
there is increasing recognition that we all belong to a common, world 
community ? that we are not just nation states, or even sometimes 
sub-national groupings.ügThere is increasing awareness of world human 
commonality and international law is one of the means by which thatüfs 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

FEER: China Recognizes Burmese Party

 Far Eastern Economic Review, 16 November 2000 

 Burma's generals don't get to travel much in an unfriendly world. But 
they're welcome in China and what's more they are being recognized there 
as leaders of a mass organization they created to rival the opposition 
National League for Democracy. When Lt.-Gen. Win Myint flew into Beijing 
on October 25, he was greeted not by his title as a senior member of the 
military's State Peace and Development Council but as vice-president of 
the Union Solidarity and Development Association. China is the only 
country to have recognized and forged party-to-party ties with the USDA, 
a military-backed mass organization modelled after Golkar, Indonesia's 
former ruling party under Suharto. Rangoon's junta has been trying to 
raise its profile as the true representative of the Burmese people and 
membership of the USDA is virtually compulsory for civil servants and 
anyone seeking the favour of the generals. A grateful Win Myint, in a 
meeting with politburo member Li Ruihuan, said Burma "as always, will 
stick to its policy of developing friendship with China."


Mizzima: Dissidents plan global protest against forced labour in Burma

New Delhi, November 9, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

Burmese dissidents around the world are planning for a global action at 
the end of this month to highlight the on-going practice of forced 
labour in Burma by the military regime. The exiled activists in 
Australia, Japan, Thailand and India plan to hold protests and rallies 
in front of Burmese embassies in their respective countries on November 
30. They have urged their counterparts in other countries to join in on 
this action day to step up pressure on the Burmese government. 

ôWe will organize pickets in front of Burmese embassy in Australia on 
November 30 onwards. It will be an indefinite protest, joined by 
Australian trade unions and activistsö, said Maung Maung Than, a member 
of Free Burma Action Committee, which initiates the action call. 
The activists have urged the International Labour Organization (ILO) and 
international community to take swift punitive actions against the 
Burmese junta for failing to curb forced labour in Burma.

The ILO gave an ultimatum to the regime in June this year to comply with 
its recommendations to eliminate forced labour in the country by 
November 30. The ILOÆs governing body is at present meeting in Geneva to 
decide how far Burmese regime has done in complying with the 

On Tuesday, Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win told AFP that 
his government had issued a directive on November 1 banning forced 
labour in the country. ôThe order has been posted in every police 
station in the country,ö said Khin Maung Win.

Burmese activists, however, said that the governmentÆs directive lacks 
the necessary specifics and it will not have any immediate effect on the 
widespread forced labour, which is being carried out by the military 
officers in the village and township levels, particularly in the border 
areas of the country.

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Myanmar Times : Seoul Company Provides Power  

November 6-12

Seoul company provides power   
THE Seoul-based LG Industrial Systems Co says it has signed a deal with 
the state-owned Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise to supply high-voltage 
equipment and switchboards to the country. The value of the equipment, 
according to LG Industrial sources, would be US$3.5 million. The 
products will be used for the construction of substations in central 
Myanmar in May next year.


Wall Street Journal: Myanmar's Last Chance to Avoid More Sanctions

It's simple to comply with international standards that ban forced 

When the International Labor Organization set up a commission of inquiry 
in 1997 to investigate forced labor in Myanmar, the military government 
shunned it. Although denied permission to enter the country formerly 
known as Burma, the commission delivered a devastating report the 
following year. It said the presumed prohibition on compulsory labor is 
violated in national law as well as in actual practice in a widespread 
and systematic manner, with total disregard for the human dignity, 
safety, health and basic needs of the people.

For the past two years, the ILO has been methodically working toward the 
goal of bringing Myanmar into line-by persuasion if possible, through 
coercion if necessary. In an effort to avert censure, the ruling State 
Peace and Development Council invited a technical mission to Yangon in 
May. The change of heart bought a bit more time, but didn't save the 
SPDC. The ILO decided in June to take unprecedented action to penalize 
Myanmar if it doesn't comply by November. 

Only weeks before the extended deadline, another technical mission is 
due in Yangon today. If the visitors get no joy again, the ILO's 
Governing Body, meeting in Geneva from Nov. 2-17, will go ahead and 
punish Myanmar. It would further isolate and stigmatize the country and 
embarrass fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Although the issue happens to be forced labor, it is part of a general 
dilemma faced by the SPDC, which is widely condemned for refusing to 
allow Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to take over 
after winning an election in 1990. Military leaders say they realize 
Myanmar cannot remain isolated in an age of globalization, yet they 
appear unwilling to concede the minimum degree of intervention and 
compromise that comes with membership in the international community.

The SPDC doesn't seem to understand that the ILO isn't just another 
irritating critic that can be brushed aside. A specialized agency of the 
United Nations, it sets standards that cover child labor, disabled 
workers, discrimination and freedom of association, among other things. 
It is unique in the U.N. system in that workers and employers 
participate as equal partners with governments. 

The ILO works by means of conventions, which are subject to voluntary 
ratification by member states. Myanmar ratified the Forced Labor 
Convention in 1955. In trying to ensure that Yangon stops breaching the 
convention, the Governing Body has invoked the ILO's Article 33 for the 
first time in the organization's 81-year history.

It is obvious that the government did itself a disservice by boycotting 
the commission of inquiry, missing the opportunity, to present its point 
of view and answer any unjustified criticism. Consisting of the former 
chief justices of India and Barbados and an Australian barrister, the 
panel received 6,000 pages of documents. At hearings in Switzerland and 
Asia, it also took testimony from several nongovernmental organizations 
and about 250 eyewitnesses with experience of recent examples of forced 

In its report, the commission said the impunity with which government 
officials, especially the military, treat the civilian population as an 
unlimited pool of unpaid laborers and servants is part of a political 
system built on the use of force and intimidation to deny Myanmar 
democracy and the rule of law. It uncovered "a saga of untold misery and 
suffering, oppression and exploitation," from which people "find no 
escape except fleeing the country."

The commission made the recommendations that the ILO has been trying in 
vain to get the government to adopt ever since. In addition to calling 
for the army and others to end the practice of forced labor, it urged 
that legislation at odds with the convention be brought into line by May 
1, 1999, "at the latest," and that penalties be prescribed and strictly 
enforced for offenses.

Yangon's agreement to receive a technical mission on the eve of the 
ILO's annual conference earlier this year suggested the SPDC was 
becoming aware of the seriousness of its position. No doubt it was 
nudged toward reality by Asean, which already has had to revise a human 
resources and an industrial relations project because the ILO is 
distancing itself from Myanmar. Just the same, senior officials 
continued to insist that while instances of so-called forced labor might 
have happened on infrastructure development sites in the past, they had 
been discontinued before the commission of inquiry filed its report. 

The government would be well advised to go further and positively 
embrace the technical mission arriving today, as an opportunity to begin 
restoring Myanmar's reputation. 

Like the first mission, this one is taking place at the government's 
invitation and specifically to secure the implementation of the 
commission of inquiry's recommendations. If it doesn't find that 
"concrete and detailed" steps have been taken, the ILO's Governing Body 
can adopt a menu of punitive measures to take effect on Nov. 30. They 
include recommending to constituents-governments, employers and trade 
unions-that they review their relations with Myanmar to ensure they 
aren't doing anything to perpetuate forced labor.

The consequences of just that one measure are unclear but potentially 
crippling. For example, U.N. agencies working in Myanmar, one of the 
world's poorest nations may leave. Unions might target Myanmar's 
exports. There could be a serial effect, as diplomats in Yangon note.

Although the government dislikes being seen to succumb to external 
pressure, Myanmar should nevertheless find it relatively simple to 
comply 'with its ILO obligations. After all, the official stand is that 
forced labor no longer exists. So, issuing a strong directive to that 
effect, with appropriate penalties and enforcement, should present no 

Beyond that, existing legislation that conflicts with the ban on forced 
labor, notably the Village Act and the Towns Act, must be amended 
without further delay. To satisfy the ILO's desire for a monitoring 
mechanism, the authorities should also entertain the idea of allowing a 
permanent ILO presence in Myanmar. The stakes are that high.



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