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BurmaNet News: November 10, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 10, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 13:53:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________November 10, 2000 Issue # 1659__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*The Economist: Sickening
*Far Eastern Economic Review: BURMA - Tightening The Noose
*AP: Karen Rebels Overrun Myanmar Camp In Dawn Raid
*AFP: ASEAN seeks united front to present to APEC
*The Hindu: Myanmar for balanced ties with India, China
*CNN: U.N. agency still questions Myanmar stance on use of forced labor
*ABC 0nline: U-N Assembly criticises Burma's junta
*Bangkok Post: Burmese monk was hacked to death with an axe
*AP: Myanmar State Press Denounces Corrupt Traders
*Xinhua: Myanmar Leader Calls for Producing Standardized Motor Vehicles
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
The Economist: Sickening
November 11, 2000 , U.S. Edition
DATELINE: Chiang Mai
WHILE the world worries about Myanmar's political stalemate, a deadlier
crisis is brewing. Thanks to a combination of ravaging infectious
diseases, an atrocious health-care system, and the military regime's
refusal to admit that anything is amiss, public- health officials fear
that average life expectancy is collapsing. It could fall, they say, to
as low as 45 years in the next two decades or so.
The junta is in denial. It claims, for instance, that no more than
25,000 people are infected with HIV in Myanmar. Researchers at the World
Bank, however, put the figure at over 700,000, in a population of 48m,
making the country the worst of the three in Asia in which more than 1%
of the population is infected.
(The others are Thailand and Cambodia.) According to several studies, as
any as 8% of Myanmar's soldiers are HIV-positive. The growing use of
intravenous drugs, and the increased production of heroin and
amphetamines by ethnic-minority militias, will only exacerbate the
Not only AIDS but also malaria, anthrax and old-fashioned
malnutrition are decimating the people of Myanmar. Along the rugged
border with Thailand, home to some of the most drug- resistant strains
of malaria in the world, a new epidemic of malaria and anthrax is said
to have killed as many as 10,000 people since July, mostly in the
north-eastern district of Maung Yawn. Military sources in the northern
Thai province of Chiang Mai say that hundreds of Maung Yawn residents
crossing into Thailand in search of anti-malaria drugs.
Since 1989, when the junta signed a peace treaty with the United Wa
State Army, a militia operating among the Wa people in Maung Yawn, the
central government has had little presence in the area; there are no
government hospitals in the territory controlled by the militia. Even if
the junta had control over Maung Yawn, it could not do much: foreign
malariologists working in Myanmar tell of government hospitals stocked
with little more than bandages and a few painkillers. Medicines are
not all that is in short supply. Despite the recent boast of Khin Nyunt,
the regime's intelligence chief, that his country could export grain to
other Asian states, exiles who have fled to Chiang Mai speak of famine
in some outlying regions. The armed forces, which have allegedly been
ordered to "live off the land", often steal food from malnourished
villagers, they say.
The Yangon junta has refused to acknowledge the scope of the health
crisis, calling estimates of HIV and malaria rates exaggerated. The
government has launched a programme to boost literacy, which may help
empower some women and thereby help slow HIV transmission, but it does
not require sex or drugs education in schools.
Myanmar gets little help from outside. Foreign aid remains limited,
thanks to the sanctions slapped on the junta by many countries after the
generals refused to acknowledge Aung San Suu Kyi's victory in the 1990
general election. Pakistan and China are friendly, but they tend to
supply weapons, not pills. The Thai government had vowed to set up a
health task-force with Myanmar, but relations between the two neighbours
have become strained. The militias have taken to exporting vast
quantities of amphetamines to Thailand, where the government blames the
Myanmar regime for failing to control its new Wa friends.A public-health
crisis threatens to overwhelm Myanmar.
Far Eastern Economic Review: BURMA - Tightening The Noose
Rangoon's military junta seems bent on finishing off the main opposition
party this year--a further strain on its ties with the EU and Asean By
Issue cover-dated November 16, 2000
IT'S OFFICIAL: MOST ELIGIBLE voters in Burma think the country's main
opposition party should be dissolved. That's the message from the
government-controlled press, which has reported on a wave of hostility
toward the National League for Democracy, or NLD, around the country in
For example, the Myanma Alin newspaper reported that all 99,542 people
at three rallies on September 2 in the Prome area north of Rangoon
supported a petition to disband the NLD, which is looking increasingly
vulnerable. Since there are 101,817 registered voters in the same area,
Burma's military authorities proudly announced that 99.77% of the
electorate wanted the NLD to be dissolved.
The same scene is being repeated and reported on all over Burma as the
generals try to give a veneer of legality to their latest and most
severe assault on the NLD in years.
What the press doesn't say is that voters are being forced to attend the
mass rallies--which, first launched in 1999, have been stepped up in the
second half of this year--and to support the petition. Those who don't
attend risk losing their jobs and government benefits, or worse, Rangoon
This fresh campaign seems aimed at finally silencing the dwindling
pro-democracy movement at a time when it's on its knees. The entire
leadership of the NLD is under effective detention, most of the party's
offices around the country have been forced shut, and an eviction order
has been slapped on its Rangoon headquarters.
The ruling military junta, enraged by renewed opposition provocations,
has ordered the Home Ministry's secret police to finish off the NLD
before the end of the year, according to Rangoon residents.
"Believe me, the military is trying to finish the game," says a student
activist working underground in Burma. With the NLD at such a low ebb,
the chances are they will succeed.
The situation took a turn for the worse after a stand-off at Rangoon's
railway station in late September. NLD leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin
Oo and some of their supporters tried to board a train bound for the
northern city of Mandalay, where they planned to meet other party
members. The station was surrounded by armed security personnel, and the
NLD leaders were brusquely removed from the premises.
Since then, a Rangoon-based diplomat says, Suu Kyi "has been under
virtual house arrest, detained incommunicado in her compound. Tin Oo,
the diplomat says, is in a military detention centre. Up to 80 people
who were taken from the railway station are still being held in prison.
While the recent arrests, and the rallies, may convince most Burmese
citizens to avoid the NLD, the crackdown is bound to provoke a strong
international response, and could even strain relations between Burma
and its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
>From December 11-12, Asean and European Union foreign ministers are
scheduled to hold their 13th formal meeting in Laos, but some diplomats
reckon the event might be scaled down or cancelled because of the
crackdown in Burma.
"If the present situation prevails, it is unthinkable that our foreign
minister would attend an official meeting where Burma's foreign minister
is also present," says a high-ranking European diplomat.
In Brussels, however, one diplomat said Europe was reluctant to let its
distaste for Burma's rulers harm ties with Asean. "We do not want the
Burmese tail to wag the Asean dog." But the diplomat said foreign
ministers might decide not to go to the Lao capital Vientiane if there
was a "significant deterioration" in the situation in Burma.
A former Asean official in Thailand said he understood that some
ministers wouldn't attend the meeting because of Burma's failure to end
forced labour. The UN's International Labour Organisation, or ILO, is
considering imposing sanctions on Burma for its alleged use of forced
"The Burmese government doesn't realise how serious that is," says a
Western diplomat. "If the ILO imposes sanctions on Burma, many other UN
agencies would have to pull out." The junta has consistently denied the
forced labour charges, but numerous studies indicate otherwise,
including an October 16 report by Rajsoomer Lallah, who resigned last
week as the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in Burma due to a
lack of support and resources.
Cancellation of the Vientiane meeting would also push Asean to deal more
decisively with the Burmese problem. "So far, they have done nothing.
They talk about 'constructive engagement' with the junta, but what has
that policy achieved? Just more repression," says the Western diplomat.
Asean has played along with the military junta to date and did not even
protest when Burma in September angrily rejected a proposal from the
grouping that Vietnam act as an intermediary to break the impasse. That
may change if the Vientiane meeting is called off and Burma becomes a
major stumbling block in Asean's relations with the West.
There are signs that some Asean members are irritated by Burma, whose
Gen. Maung Aye is boycotting a unique meeting of Asean army chiefs in
Thailand on November 21-23 because of drifting defence relations between
A recent visit to Rangoon by Razali Ismail, a United Nations special
envoy to Burma, also doesn't seem to have brought the government and the
NLD closer to any kind of dialogue. Consequently, in early November,
Sweden will submit a resolution to the UN General Assembly criticising
Burma for human-rights abuses and demanding improvements.
To date there have been virtually no internationally approved sanctions
against Burma, but increased repression in the country may push the UN
to consider taking firmer action than the ritual yearly resolutions
condemning the Rangoon generals.
However, UN sanctions would need the approval of the Security Council
and permanent member China has in the past vetoed efforts to punish
Burma on the grounds that this would be interference in its internal
Europe and the United States have spearheaded international condemnation
of the Burmese military's heavy-handed rule ever since their refusal to
hand over power to the NLD after the opposition's landslide victory in
1990 elections. The NLD won 392 out of the 485 seats at stake in Burma's
first multi-party general elections since 1960.
But the then junta leaders reneged on earlier pledges to honour the will
of the people and nullifed the results. The parliament that should have
emerged from the polls was replaced by a 700-member "National
Convention," which was tasked with drafting a new constitution. The NLD,
which was only allowed to send 97 of its MPs to the body , pulled out of
the convention in December 1995 after calling it a sham.
International pressure has had limited success and there is no guarantee
that UN General Assembly resolutions and International Labour
Organization sanctions will force the Burmese junta to the negotiating
table. The generals have ignored such condemnation in the past and
turned to regional allies for support, and there is no sign that the
latest arrests of opposition activists--or the mass rallies--are about
"They're digging in, preparing for the worst. A change towards more
openness is not part of that strategy," says a Bangkok-based Asian
AP: Karen Rebels Overrun Myanmar Camp In Dawn Raid
Friday November 10 11:19 AM ET
By NELSON RAND, Associated Press Writer
TOJO MOUNTAIN, Myanmar (AP) - Some 125 Karen rebel troops overran a
Myanmar military camp after heavy fighting Friday near the Thai border
in their most significant victory in recent months.
Some 30 Myanmar government forces fled the mountaintop camp, leaving a
trail of blood and one dead comrade behind them. Guerrillas of the Karen
National Union were in pursuit.
An Associated Press reporter accompanied the Karens during the raid,
which was preceded by a two-hour exchange of heavy mortar and gunfire.
``Maybe before you thought the KNU was small, now you know we are big,''
said Tennyson, a senior soldier in the KNU's 201st Battalion. Like many
of the KNU's armed volunteers, he uses only one name.
The Myanmar government was not immediately available for comment.
The assault on Bianaw camp, about two miles from the border opposite
Waley Key, the Karen name for a village in Thailand's northern Tak
province, was the 201st battalion's first major operation of this dry
season. The season heralds fresh fighting each year.
Mahn Sha, general-secretary of the KNU based at the Thai-Burmese border,
put the Burmese death toll at two in Friday's assault, and said one
soldier was captured alive and was being interrogated. Mahn Sha was
contacted by telephone from Bangkok, Thailand.
The KNU has been battling for more autonomy inside Myanmar, also known
as Burma, for five decades. They last overran a Myanmar camp, killing
four soldiers, four months ago.
Supported by about 75 porters, the KNU troops had sneaked to within
1,500 feet of Bianaw camp late Thursday after days of reconnaissance.
The advance drew no response from the government forces other than three
rounds of sniper fire by suspicious soldiers.
The KNU launched its attack before sunrise with 81mm mortars, heavy
machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, triggering mortar and other
fire from the Myanmar forces. Two KNU attack groups with assault rifles
then climbed to the mountain camp.
After 11/2 hours of sporadic exchanges, the KNU attackers made their
final assault to cheers from their backup. After 30 minutes of heavy
fire, the Myanmar troops fled.
Two KNU forces suffered minor injuries.
The AP reporter saw the KNU troops looting thousands of assault rifle
rounds and dozens of rocket propelled grenades from the camp, and
sifting through the personal effects including letters left behind the
fleeing Myanmar forces.
They dumped rice supplies in the camp before torching it. Eight or nine
rebels followed the path taken by the escaping troops. A trail of blood
showed at least one of the Myanmar soldiers was wounded.
The KNU forces are believed to number 2,000-3,000, a fraction of their
armed strength in their heyday more than one decade ago, when they
controlled huge tracts along the Thai-Myanmar frontier.
In recent years, Myanmar's military regime has gained the upper hand.
AFP: ASEAN seeks united front to present to APEC
Friday, November 10 11:39 AM SGT
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Nov 10 (AFP) - ASEAN nations set aside niggling
differences Friday to present a united front at an Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) senior officials meeting here.
"We don't want to disagree among ourselves in the meeting," said
Bhuthong Thongyai, an economic adviser to the Thailand ministry of
commerce, as the officials gathered ahead of a ministerial meeting and a
Key issues to be raised at the APEC forum in the Brunei capital include
globalisation, regional free trade agreements and the "digital divide"
separating the information technology haves and have nots.
Delegates from the seven Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
which are members of APEC met privately on Thursday to "find common
ground," Bhutong said.
"ASEAN is for a new round of WTO (World Trade Organisation) talks but we
need to resolve a couple of issues," he said, but did not elaborate
While most APEC nations are pushing for a new round of global trade
talks within the WTO, of the ASEAN grouping Malaysia notably has
expressed reservations about globalisation.
"Developed countries consider globalisation as something good but it may
not be so for us," said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who
has frequently expressed fears unregulated globalisation could usher in
a new era of economic colonisation by the West.
Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of high-tech savvy Singapore has
warned that while the world is moving into a global technology-driven
economy, globalisation was making the world more fragmented.
"Technological advances have brought the world closer. But they have
also opened up divides between those who are able to cope with the
resultant challenges, and those who lack the capacity to do so," he said
in a recent speech calling for the benefits of globalisation to be
Malaysia, too, has been holding back on the regional ASEAN free trade
agreement, delaying the lowering of tariffs in its domestic auto market,
sparking unhappiness among fellow ASEAN nations Thailand and Indonesia,
which also have a developing vehicle sector,
Of the 10 ASEAN members, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are members of APEC. Laos, Cambodia and
Myanmar are the three ASEAN countries not in the Pacific-rim bloc.
The Hindu: Myanmar for balanced ties with India, China
By Our Staff Reporter
CHENNAI, NOV. 8. Myanmar strives for ``balanced'' relations with both
its major neighbours, India and China, the visiting Myanmarese Home
Minister, Col. Tin Hlaing, said today.
Myanmar's relations with India, which was ``very good and cordial'' did
not hamper or impede his country's relations with China, he told The
Hindu, at the Indo- Myanmarese Buddhist temple at Padianallur here.
India stepped up diplomatic efforts with Yangon after the reported
presence of Chinese naval forces in the Bay of Bengal and also after
reports of the possibility of China setting up a base in that country.
The recent rejuvenation in Indo-Myanmar relations were the result of the
``desire of both countries to come closer'' and ``explore possibilities
for further cooperation in various spheres,'' he said. India was
training Myanmarese military personnel, he said and added that India had
a lot to offer to upgrade information technology capability in his
country. Besides, military and civilian authorities in border states of
both countries have stepped up efforts against trafficking of narcotics
and smuggling of contraband.
Col. Hlaing, who is on the last leg of his India visit, said that a
senior leader of the military junta will visit New Delhi shortly to
cement the relation further. Col. Hlaing, who was here ``on an
invitation from the Indian Union Home Minister,'' said that his present
visit covered Calcutta, New Delhi, Patna, Agra, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The process of his country returning to democracy was ``in progress''
but no deadline could be put for a return to democracy. On the issue of
the restriction of movement of the pro-democracy leader, Ms. Aung Suu
Kyi and her frequent house arrests, he said that the Myanmarese
authorities were ``working on the issue closely with United Nations
officials.'' A team sent by the U.N. Secretary-General had met Ms. Aung
Suu Kyi and the issue of greater freedom for her was being discussed, he
said and added that the authorities treated the leader with great regard
Six fishermen, who had reached the shores of Tamil Nadu after a storm
set their boat adrift some months ago, met the Minister today and
requested his intervention to speed up the repatriation process.
CNN: U.N. agency still questions Myanmar stance on use of forced labor
November 8, 2000
CNN - Web posted at: 8:45 PM HKT (1245 GMT)
GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- Myanmar has made progress in improving its
laws but it is less clear what is actually being done to stop the use of
forced labor, a U.N. labor agency report said Wednesday.
The 52-page report followed a weeklong visit to Myanmar last month by a
five-member delegation from the International Labor Organization.
It was unclear whether findings in the report will help stave off
proposed unprecedented action against Myanmar next week by the ILO's
ILO delegates voted in June to recommend that ILO members _ governments,
workers and employers -- "review their links with Myanmar and take
appropriate measures to ensure (Myanmar) cannot take advantage of such
relations to perpetuate or extend the system of forced or compulsory
But the resolution, which was opposed by Asian nations, put off action
until the governing body's meeting.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has long been assailed by the United
Nations and Western countries for suppression of democracy and its human
rights record -- including use of unpaid civilian labor on
Its government has said civilians contribute their labor voluntarily to
promote development of the nation.
Much of the ILO's effort has focused on amendment of provisions in
Myanmar's Village Act and Towns Act, which bind residents to perform any
"public duties" requested of them or face punishment.
"Progress has been made" on that front, the ILO report said. "Progress
is far less in evidence in terms of appropriate executive measures and
the accompanying administrative and budgetary measures."
Myanmar officials in Geneva were not immediately available for comment.
The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962. The current regime organized
a general election in 1990 but refused to yield power to the victorious
party of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
ABC 0nline: U-N Assembly criticises Burma's junta
Nov 10, 2000.
A U.N. human rights committee has adopted a draft resolution slamming
Burma's human rights situation and seeking more freedom of movement for
pro-democracy supporters in the country.
The resolution, submitted by 23 countries, reflected the stronger
position of European countries in their opposition to continued
suppression in Burma.
It states the General Assembly is gravely concerned by the deterioration
of the human rights situation.
It deplores the junta's treatment of pro-democracy supporters,
particularly the new obstacles that have been placed on Aung San Suu Kyi
and other National League for Democracy members.
The Assembly also deplores the systematic policy of suppression of
political economic and social rights by the Burmese government
Bangkok Post: Burmese monk was hacked to death with an axe
Nov 1o, 2000.
Ratchaburi-A Burmese monk was hacked to death with an axe at Wat
Maneeloi in Pak Tho district on Wednesday night.
Phra Ko Maung, 37, suffered two deep cuts in the head. The temple is
near the holding centre for exiled Burmese students.
He was a student at the holding centre and entered the monkhood seven
Police were looking for the attackers.
A national security plan next year will deal with drugs and corruption,
says the National Security Council. Its chief, Khachadpai Burusapatana,
said a series of brainstorming sessions would be held to gather
information, the first kicking off in Bangkok on Nov 17.
Mr Khachadpai said public participation was crucial to tackling the
The plan would be ready for cabinet approval next year, he said.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
AP: Myanmar State Press Denounces Corrupt Traders
Thursday, November 9 2:07 PM SGT
YANGON (AP)--Taking a break from its usual vitriolic attacks on the
country's pro-democracy movement, a state-run newspaper Thursday blasted
"unscrupulous businessmen" and "corrupt officials" for smuggling luxury
foreign goods into the country and lacking patriotic spirit.
"Some avaricious businessmen smuggled out cattle, precious stones and
timber into a neighboring country and smuggled in banned items such as
toys, and luxury foreign goods such as cigarettes and liquor," wrote the
pseudonymous commentator "Pauk Sa" in the Myanma Ahlin daily.
The author did not identify the "neighboring country" but border trade
between Myanmar and Thailand has often created problems between the two
Myanmar restricts the import of more than 20 categories of goods,
including beverages, biscuits, fresh fruit, canned food and cigarettes.
The import of luxury goods is banned.
"The people of Myanmar will be happy if businessmen can take part in the
country's market-oriented economic system with honesty and patriotic
spirit," said the newspaper commentary.
"Likewise, some officials from the customs department and border trade
department who are involved in implementing the country's economic
development should carry out their duties with patriotism for the
welfare of the people."
It urged "unscrupulous businessmen,", "a handful of people who think
highly of foreign goods," and "some corrupt officials" to work for the
benefit of the people and the country.
The military regime, which took power in 1988, instituted limited
economic liberalization, particular encouraging foreign investment, but
kept many trade and currency restrictions.
Xinhua: Myanmar Leader Calls for Producing Standardized Motor Vehicles
YANGON (Nov. 9) XINHUA - Myanmar leader Lieutenant- General Tin Oo has
called on the country's private industrialists to produce standardized
motor vehicles to help reduce car imports.
Tin Oo, second secretary of the State Peace and Development Council,
made the call at a coordination meeting here Wednesday, attended by
industrialists from the country's five industrial zones out of 18,
official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Thursday.
Production of motor vehicles by the national industrialists is just on
the initial stage, he said, adding that the country has to use and
assemble most of the imported parts.
He disclosed that a plan is under way for each industrial zone to design
and produce each own model motor vehicle.
He urged the industrialists to bring innovation idea into use in
producing and assembling motor vehicles.
He called for cooperation between the government and the private
industrialists for the development of this import- substitute industry.
Meanwhile, Myanmar plans to form a Car Producers' Association in the
country to boost the production.
Motor vehicles used in Myanmar are mainly imported ones and manufactured
in Japan. It is reported that the Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan is
running a car assembling plant in Dagon Myothit, one of the industrial
zones in the capital of Yangon.
According to official statistics, the number of motor vehicles in
operation in Myanmar increased by 31,828 annually in the last four
years, registering 434,315 at the end of June this year which include
passenger cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.
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