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______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
________November 13, 2000   Issue # 1660__________

NOTED IN PASSING:  "This is Myanmar's Gulag: NLD party members 
disappear and their families are not told where they are for days or 
weeks, and then they have only very limited access to them. But every 
right-thinking person must hope that the day will come soon when 
these four just men of Pathein will be able to take up their 
positions as elected members of parliament....Unfortunately, right 
now, they do not live in a civilized country"

Roger Mitton of Asiaweek.  See Asiaweek.com: Four Just Men of Pathein-
-Swallowed up by Myanmar's Gulag 

*AFP: Myanmar Muslim rebels claim to have killed 11 Yangon troops 
*Mizzima: Prawn breeding business effects environment in Rekhine 
State of Burma 
*Bangkok Post: BORDER: Burma exiles would rather stay at home; DKBA 
leaders urge more Karen to return 
*Asiaweek.com: Four Just Men of Pathein--Swallowed up by Myanmar's 

*AP: Australian in small plane crash lands in Myanmar 
*AFP: Thais plan evacuations if Myanmar border fighting worsens

*AP: Boulder may suspend anti-Myanmar law; leave it as symbolic 
*The Boston Globe: a Guardian of Hope in Burma
*The Hindu:  Editorial--The Burma Road 

OTHER _______
*PD Burma: Burma Calendar of events

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AFP: Myanmar Muslim rebels claim to have killed 11 Yangon troops 

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, Nov 13 (AFP) - Myanmar's separatist Rohingya 
Muslim rebels claim to have killed 11 government troops in a 
gunbattle last week in Arakan province, bordering Bangladesh, 
according to a faxed statement received here Monday. 

 The gunbattle began Friday when Myanmar troops opened fire on the 
militants trying to lay land mines along Arakan's border with 
Bangladesh, the statement by the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation 
(RSO) said. 

 No confirmation from Bangladeshi frontier officials was available. 

 But a senior official of the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles Monday 
said their frontier troops had reported hearing exchanges of gunfire 
from Myanmar, close to Bangladesh's southeastern Cox's Bazar 

 The militants from Myanmar's mostly poor Muslim Rohingya community 
have been fighting a long bush war for Arakan's independence. 

 Nearly 250,000 Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh in 1991, alleging 
persecution by Myanmar troops. Most of them were later repatriated. 

 But some 20,000 Rohingya refugees were left in two of the refugee 
camps in Cox's Bazar waiting clearance from Myanmar authorities for 


Mizzima: Prawn breeding business effects environment in Rekhine State 
of Burma 

Dhaka, November 10, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

In Taungkok town of Rekhine State of Burma, people are facing with 
drinking water shortage problem as the brine-prawn breeding ponds in 
the township make the water salty. The salty water from the prawn 
breeding-ponds instill into the wells, gardens and farms, especially 
in the area of ôPatin Kyunö Island and therefore plants cannot
grown any longer on the island.
A few months ago, Taungkok-based 544 and 346 infantry regiments of 
Burmese military forced the villagers of ôNat Mawö and
ôKalain Pyinö 
to dig up for the military-owned prawn breeding business in 
ôZeepinyinö village and ôKalain Taungö village without
giving any 
wages. Moreover, the rich people from nine villages of ôPatin
are also widely working with this profitable brine-prawn breeding 

Although the suffering villagers had been repeatedly reporting these 
problems to the concerned township authorities, there was no concrete 
action taken on their complaints. Recently, the authorities came and 
inspected the prawn breeding sites in the area and directed to reduce 
the briny water through water canals. But as the prawn owners bribed 
the authorities, nothing has come to the better condition yet. The 
villagers from ôKan Pyinö village in ôPatin Kyunö are
planning to migrate to other villages.

Moreover, ôNgamun Daingö-based Burmese military units in
ôPatin Kyunö 
recently forced the villagers from nine villages to dig up the ponds 
without providing wages for over two months and forced them to sign 
the paper which says that their work was voluntary.

Rekhine State is estimated to have over seventy thousand acres of 
prawn breeding areas and said to be the largest prawn breeding state 
in the whole Burma.


Bangkok Post: BORDER: Burma exiles would rather stay at home; DKBA 
leaders urge more Karen to return 

November 13, 2000 

More than 5,000 displaced Burmese would rather stay in a DKBA-held 
area of Burma, opposite Tak, than return to Thailand. 

Their decision was in line with the wishes of some Democratic Karen 
Buddhist Army leaders who want Karen refugees in Thailand to return 
to DKBA-held zones. 

Most of these displaced Burmese are former Karen refugees who used to 
live in refugee camps in border areas of Tak. 

Of the 1,000 families living in an administrative zone of the pro-
Rangoon DKBA's 999th Division, 460 came from Huaykalok and Mawkier 
refugee camps in Mae Sot and Phop Phra districts, and 183 from Mae La 
camp in Tha Song Yang district. 

The remainder are Burmese workers and Karen tribespeople. 

The centre of this 50-km DKBA-held area is Kok Ko village, north of 
Myawaddy and opposite Tak's Mae Sot and Mae Ramat districts. 

"Newcomers are usually unable to provide for themselves. So we will 
help them by providing them with shelter and food in the first six 
months and then allow them to run corn and nut plantations and rice 
fields here," said Lt-Col Maung Chit Tu, head of the DKBA's 999th 

"Some of them run coffee shops or boutiques or become labourers." 

He said some displaced Burmese served the administrative zone as 
teachers, officials, sawmill labourers, furniture factory workers and 
tailors making uniforms for DKBA troops. 

The zone also has schools and a temple, from which abbot Luang Phor 
Yai and other monks sit on the district's advisory committee for 

Lt-Col Maung Chit Tu said the DKBA were forced to take care of the 
refugees because Rangoon refused to help them or allow international 
organisations or neighbouring countries to assist them. 

However, Rangoon had no problem with their stay in DKBA-held areas. 

"We want all refugees to come back to live in Burma to work and help 
develop our Karen society. 

"We do not want them to suffer the indignity of waiting in line for 
food at refugee camps in Thailand," he said. 

It would not be easy for the DKBA to welcome almost 100,000 Karen 
refugees, he said, adding that they would have to return to the Thai 
shelters if the DKBA were unable to cope. 

"These refugees are not liked by many Thais even though the Thai 
government has a policy of giving them humanitarian assistance. 

"So we want them to come back to live in Burma," Lt-Col Maung Chit Tu 

He promised to ensure the safety and peaceful livelihood of all 
refugees who return. 

With the exception of soldiers of the anti-Rangoon Karen National 
Union and their relatives, most Karen refugees wanted to return. 

The KNU rebels tried to force Karen refugees already living in Burma 
to go back to Thailand and threatened to harm those who refused. 

The KNU's 7th Division earlier attacked Ta Pong camp in Burma, 
opposite Ban Wang Takhian, after unsuccessfully trying to force Karen 
villagers there to return to Thailand. 

San Kyi, 65, said her family and many neighbours returned to Kok Ko 
village in Burma when they learned they would be moved from Huaykalok 
camp in Mae Sot to Umpiommai camp, which they disliked. 

Her family would never return to Thailand unless they were forced to 
by fighting, she said, adding that it was better than living in a 
refugee camp where they were not free to move around. 

Ketti, 21, from Moulmein in Mon state, said strict regulations on 
alien labour employment forced her to leave Thailand and stay with 
her sister in Kok Ko village. 

She will return if she fails to find a job in the village. 

Although willing to welcome all displaced Burmese to his 
jurisdiction, Lt-Col Maung Chit Tu refused to accept Muslims since 
they have long caused unrest in Burmese society. 

Maj Kyaw Kar, commander of the DKBA's 555th Division, reportedly 
ordered more than 1,000 Muslims to leave Ta Kwet Poe village, 
southeast of Hlaingbwe, within two months. 

About 20 Muslim families moved to a border area opposite Tha Song 
Yang late last month but the remainder asked the DKBA to allow them 
to stay until the end of the harvest season. 

Senate panel set to inspect refugee shelter 

A senate panel sub-committee on foreign affairs is to inspect a 
refugee camp in Tha Song Yang district in Tak today to investigate 
problems posed by refugees. 

The province is home to more than 61,700 refugees, most of whom are 
Karen people fleeing fighting in Burma. Some of the refugees have 
reportedly caused problems for local villagers and threatened natural 

The 10-man panel, chaired by Sen Udorn Tantisunthorn for Tak, is 
scheduled to visit Mae La Camp, which houses 36,941 refugees. 

Recently, local residents and officials submitted a petition with the 
Senate asking it to look into their problems. 

It alleged some refugees encroached on forest reserves, stole produce 
from farms and worked without official permission. 

"A lot of them are paid to cut trees and burn forests to make way for 
farming in forest reserve areas. Some of them have encroached on 
forests to occupy the lands," said the senator. 

He voiced concern about the birth rate in refugee camps, saying it 
would be a burden for Thailand in the future. 

Supamart Kasem Tak 


Asiaweek.com: Four Just Men of Pathein--Swallowed up by Myanmar's 

>From Our Correspondent
October 16, 2000

[BurmaNet adds: Asiaweed.com Web posted articles in the From Our 
Correspondent section are not necessarily published in the print 
version of the magazine.  While some FOC articles do see print 
publication, it is in abbreviated format.  This is the full text  web 
posted article.]

Last week, I was in Pathein. It is the administrative center for 
Myanmar's Ayeyarwady Division, and with a population of 150,000, the 
nation's fourth-largest city. I wanted to go there partly because I 
have been to Myanmar's three other major cities ? Yangon,
and Mawlamyine ? and partly because it receives relatively few 
visitors from the outside world and so I thought it would provide me 
with an unblemished glimpse of what provincial Myanmar life is really 
like. As the crow flies, Pathein is only 150 km east of Yangon, but 
the road is narrow and pot-holed, and at this time of year, its 
woeful condition is exacerbated by the monsoon rains. The drive took 
a bone-jarring five and a half hours. 

After I had checked into the Pathein Hotel ($25, single air-con room 
with breakfast) and freshened up, I strolled over to the club house 
of the adjacent Ayeyarwady Golf Club. A couple of tables were 
occupied in the main room where some members were having a snack and 
drinking beer. High up on the wooden walls were honors boards marking 
the names of competition winners and club captains and other office 
holders. I was intrigued at the preponderance of military names. In 
1984, for instance, the Captain's Cup was won by Brig.-Gen. Than 
Shwe, then the southwest regional commander based in Pathein, and 
now ? as Senior General ? the nation's supreme leader. The
winner in 
1998 was Brig.-Gen. Shwe Mann, the current regional commander, who is 
widely tipped to follow the Than Shwe trajectory. Other names 
included Than Shwe's predecessor as head of the junta, Gen. Saw 
Maung, and the current deputy prime minister, Maj.-Gen. Tin Hla. 

Absent from the honors boards were the names of Nyunt Hlaing, Hla 
Kyi, Tin Chaw and Kyaw Min. Ten years ago, on May 27, 1990, these 
four Pathein citizens, all members of the National League for 
Democracy, were elected by the people of their city to represent them 
in parliament. But, like the other 388 victorious NLD members, they 
were not allowed to take their seats. As I sat in the Pathein golf 
club, I read over my notes about this quartet. Of Nyunt Hlaing, now 
55, I had little information. He had won a scholarship to study in 
the old Soviet Union, and after returning to Myanmar, he had obtained 
a Master's degree in "Fishery" ? understandable, perhaps, coming
this river town. He had worked at Mandalay University before becoming 
involved in politics via his trade union activities (which had led to 
his arrest in 1988 and his subsequent forced retirement a year 
later). I think it fair to say without fear of contradiction that 
Nyunt Hlaing's name will never go up on one of the honors boards at 
the Pathein golf club. 

Ten days before I ventured into the Ayeyarwady, I had paid a one-day 
visit to Mandalay ? ostensibly to witness the opening of that 
northern city's new international airport. The regime's No. 2, Gen. 
Maung Aye, who is regarded as Than Shwe's heir apparent, was to 
officiate at the ceremony and I had hoped I might meet him and 
arrange an interview. Unfortunately, our chartered flight arrived 
more than an hour after the opening ceremony had ended and Gen. Maung 
Aye and his retinue had long since left. We were greeted by a 
deserted terminal and a sea of empty plastic chairs. But at least I 
got to see the spiffy new building with its airbridges and trendy 
lounges and well-stocked shops; all that was lacking were passengers. 
A couple of jumbo jets flew in for the occasion, one each from Thai 
Airways and All Nippon Airways; but neither of these airlines, nor 
any other international carrier, has plans to use the new facility. 

Of course, some international services will eventually include 
historic Mandalay, possibly even with 747s; but Tin Chaw, 65, is as 
likely to travel on one of those jumbo jets as he is to take up his 
seat as the duly elected member for the constituency of West Pathein 
1. He is a former school principal, and until he joined the NLD and 
entered politics 12 years ago, was head of the West Pathein Education 
Department. Still, he may take some comfort from the fact that the 
University of Pathein has finally reopened and is thronged with 
students, who, on the Saturday evening I was there, crowded the 
teashops along the road leading to the campus gates, chatting, 
reading, flirting and listening to noisy music as students do the 
world over. 

I, too, had been listening to some special music on the Friday 
evening before I went to Mandalay. At the Thailand Cultural Center in 
Bangkok, the visiting Novosibirsk Theater of Opera and Ballet had put 
on a stunning performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, one of my 
all-time favorite compositions. Unaware of exactly what it was, I had 
first seen this cantata-cum-ballet in 1970 at the National Arts 
Center in Ottawa and been awestruck by the music, the dancing, and 
the monastic chanting of the earthy love poems. I had feared the 
performance by the Novosibirsk company would not make the same impact 
upon me. I was wrong. It was magic. 

After the finale, the audience ? and remember, Thais are not
for their fondness of Western classical music ? rose and gave the 
company a standing ovation. Indeed, if the theater staff working the 
curtains had not called a halt, I think the encores and curtain calls 
would have continued long into the night. Sadly, Kyaw Min, 66, will 
never see such a concert. Soon after his election victory in the West 
Pathein 2 constituency, the U.S.-trained architect and former 
lecturer at Yangon's Institute of Technology was detained by the 
military authorities. Released a year later, he was arrested once 
again in 1996 and placed in Yangon's notorious Insein Jail, along 
with several other NLD colleagues. For him, unheard melodies must, we 
hope, remain sweeter. 

Ironically, at the time I attended the Novosibirsk company's Carmina 
Burana, I was mid-way through reading a fabulous new book called In 
Siberia by Colin Thubron. It is an account of his 24,000-km journey, 
by plane, train, boat, truck and foot, across Siberia from 
Yekaterinburg to Magadan. I recommend it to anyone thinking that 
there are no new frontiers. In it, there is a section on Novosibirsk
 a city, says Thubron, most notable for being so spread out and 
spacious. He recalls going downtown and finding himself "in the void 
of Lenin Square, where the largest opera house in Russia, bigger even 
than the Bolshoi, crouches like a square-headed tortoise under a dome 
of silver scales." His rather jaundiced description somewhat turned 
me off the place, but then when I saw a picture of the theater in the 
Carmina Burana program, it did not look so bad. And it made me think 
that perhaps I should temper my enthusiasm for this particular 
section of Thubron's account ? though I would still
recommend the book to everyone. 

Of course, it is not something that Hla Kyi, 55, is ever likely to 
get a chance to read. Winner of the East Pathein 2 seat, he remains 
the NLD's treasurer and chief organizer for the Ayeyarwady Division. 
Regrettably, one of his colleagues, Maung Maung Gyi (a 78-year-old MP-
elect from Mon state, who was himself only recently released from 18 
months' detention), told me at the NLD headquarters last week that 
Hla Kyi had been taken away by the military authorities on Sept. 27 
and his whereabouts remain unknown. 

This is Myanmar's Gulag: NLD party members disappear and their 
families are not told where they are for days or weeks, and then they 
have only very limited access to them. But every right-thinking 
person must hope that the day will come soon when these four just men 
of Pathein will be able to take up their positions as elected members 
of parliament. And that they will be able to read and travel and 
listen to music like other civilized people. Unfortunately, right 
now, they do not live in a civilized country

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AFP: Thais plan evacuations if Myanmar border fighting worsens 

MAE SOT, Thailand, Nov 13 (AFP) - Thai authorities are planning to 
evacuate 3,000 villagers living on the Myanmar border if fighting 
between the government and rebel troops escalates, officials said 
 District chief in Tak province, Satawat Sanmuk, said Myanmar had 
sent 2,000 fresh troops to the area over the weekend, after losing a 
base to the rebel Karen National Union (KNU). 
 Thai authorities were meeting to discuss an evacuation plan if the 
fighting between the KNU and government soldiers worsened, Satawat 

 "If the fighting becomes more serious and shells start crossing into 
Thailand, we will evacuate our people to an area deeper inside the 
country," he said. 

 Nearly 3,000 Thais live in two villages directly opposite the area 
where conflict has raged for nearly two weeks during the annual dry 
season offensive.
 The KNU's Major Neda (eds: one name) said six Myanmar soldiers were 
killed and 10 injured in clashes Sunday night and Monday morning.
 Neda said two of his men were also injured, but the casualty figures 
could not be independently confirmed. 


AP: Australian in small plane crash lands in Myanmar 

Nov. 13, 2000

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ An Australian businessman flew out of Myanmar 
Monday, two days after his small plane crash-landed on a southeastern 
island, the Australian Embassy said. 

 Kim Parker, 53, was rescued by a Myanmar navy patrol boat on the 
Mali island after his New Zealand-made, single-engined Fu-24 made an 
emergency landing on the beach, the New Light of Myanmar said. 

 Parker, 53, was flying from Phuket in Thailand to Calcutta, India, 
when his plane developed engine trouble, the newspaper said. It came 
down in shallow water and hit a mound of sand. 
 Parker, who was the sole occupant of the plane, was not injured. 

 Mali, which has a naval base, is 460 kilometers (285 miles) 
southeast of the capital, Yangon, near the Tanintharyi coast. 

 Parker was taken to the nearest town of Myeik and transported by air 
to the capital, Yangon, where he was transferred to the Australian 
Embassy Sunday. 

 On Monday, he left for Bangkok, Thailand, an Australian Embassy 
staffer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Parker's immediate 
plans were not known. It wasn't clear what he would do with the 
wreckage of his plane. 

 The New Light of Myanmar said Parker was rescued ``safe and sound'' 
but the landing gear of the aircraft was broken, the propeller 
twisted and the cowling burned. 
 The embassy said Parker was flying to India on company business. The 
New Light of Myanmar said Parker worked for an Australian company, 
Universal Tracking System Ltd. No details of the company were 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

AP: Boulder may suspend anti-Myanmar law; leave it as symbolic 

Nov. 13, 2000


The city attorney is recommending Boulder suspend a law banning 
business with companies in Myanmar, but keep it on the books as a 
protest of the country's human-rights record. 

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned a Massachusetts state 
law that boycotted purchases from companies doing business in 
Myanmar, the south Asian country also known as Burma. 

The city attorney's office says the ruling invalidates a 1996 Boulder 
ordinance similar to the Massachusetts law. 

A coalition of corporations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the 
National Association of Manufacturers successfully challenged the 
Massachusetts law on grounds the U.S. Constitution gives only the 
federal government the power to make foreign policy. 

A military regime rules Myanmar despite a victory in 1990 by the 
National League for Democracy party. The party's leaders, including 
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, have been put under house 
arrest and their movements restricted. 

Deputy City Attorney Jerry Gordon said his office consulted a law 
professor about options regarding the ordinance, and decided there 
was little choice but to leave it on the books as a symbolic gesture. 

The city boycott was partly inspired by Boulder resident Inge 
Sargent. The Austrian-born Sargent married Sao Kya Seng, a Burmese 
prince, in 1953. In 1962, the Burmese army imprisoned the prince and 
Sargent later with their two daughters. 

In retirement, she and her husband Howard Sargent have raised money 
for Burmese refugee assistance. 

The Sargents support suspending the ordinance but leaving it in 

"We don't want to walk away from this situation and act like it 
doesn't matter any more. The generals in Rangoon will notice that and 
will act if they think the world doesn't care," Howard Sargent 
said. "At least on the other side of the world, people know Boulder 
is watching." 


The Boston Globe: a Guardian of Hope in Burma

November 13, 2000,

OP-ED; Pg. A15 

H.D.S. GREENWAY;   H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the 



But for 10 years Suu Kyi has refused to accept the verdict of the 
junta. By so doing she won the Nobel Peace prize in 1991 and remains 
to this day the constant if flickering flame of resistance to tyranny 
in this sorry land. 

She has paid a heavy price: For 10 years she has been either under 
house arrest or unable to leave the capital. She has been separated 
from her children, and when her British husband was dying of cancer 
in England he was refused a visa to see her one more time. She 
refused to leave the country to see him knowing that the generals 
would never let her return. Her two sons remain in Britain. 

   In August she attempted to drive out of Rangoon to attend a 
political meeting. She was stopped but for nine days refused to leave 
her car in silent protest. She was then escorted back to the capital. 

In September she tried to board a train north to another political 
event but was told there were no more tickets. She was confined to 
her house near the Inya Lake. The road to her house is sealed off, 
and only those with government permission may approach. People 
attempting to see her risk arrest. 

The generals have bottled her up, all but destroyed her political 
party, and show no sign of losing their hold on power. But such is 
Suu Kyi's prestige that they dare not kill her, as they have others 
who have opposed them. 

The West, led by the United States and Britain, have imposed 
sanctions and urged isolation. But the West has little influence 
here, and the regional powers that matter and share a border, India 
and China, have said little. 

Three years ago Burma was accepted for membership in the Association 
of Southeast Asian Nations, but ASEAN is an organization famous for 
not interfering in the domestic politics of its members. 

Burma is accustomed to isolation. From the early '60s to 1989 Burma 
adopted a xenophobic "Burmese Road to socialism" that cut the country 
off from the rest of world almost as completely as North Korea. It 
also brought what had been a rich country with more than half the 
world's rice exports to ruin. Today socialism has been replaced by 
crony capitalism, and although the country is more prosperous, 
Rangoon is still the most down-at-the-heel capital in Southeast Asia. 
The government ministries and many businesses are stocked with 
military men whose incompetence is exceeded only by their greed. 

The kind of people power that toppled corruption and dictatorship in 
the Philippines and Indonesia was met by bullets here in 1988. 
Hundreds of pro-democracy student demonstrators were killed - nine 
months before a similar event took place in Beijing's Tiananmen 

Enter Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of the man who led Burma to 
independence from Great Britain in 1948 only to be felled by 
assassins. She had arrived only recently from England, but as has 
happened to other dutiful daughters of Asian politicians, people 
ralled to her. 

Some will tell you that her refusal to compromise with the military 
has achieved nothing. The generals have marginal ized her. They say 
people will soon forget her. 

Others will say that her stand against foreign investment and tourism 
is hurting the Burmese people without achieving any political gain. 
But, like a military commander who has been overrun by an enemy, Suu 
Kyi will call down artillery on her own position if it will hurt the 

People are afraid to discuss politics, but an acquaintance whom I met 
in a public place opened her purse to retrieve her glasses and left 
it open long enough for me to see Aung San Suu Kyi's photograph 
within. The glance that passed between us seemed to say: Despite what 
you may hear, and whatever the generals may do, we have not forgotten 



The Hindu:  Editorial--The Burma Road 

NEW DELHI, NOV. 12. In rolling out the red carpet to a top gun from 
the military Government of Myanmar, India is signalling a new phase 
in its relations with a very special neighbour and a readiness to 
pursue its interests in Asia with some vigour. 

Gen. Maung Aye, who ranks number two in the military and political 
establishment of Myanmar, is arriving here on Tuesday on an extended 
visit to India. 

This is the first exchange at the higher political level between the 
two neighbours since the late Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, had 
travelled to Yangon in 1987. It marks a culmination of the quiet but 
productive engagement between the two nations in recent years. 

Since Rajiv Gandhi's trip to Myanmar, the relations between the two 
neighbours have gone through a roller coaster. Following the military 
crackdown in 1988 against the struggle for the restoration of 
democracy in Myanmar, India went out of the way to support the 
dissidents. There was an outpouring of Indian sentiment in favour of 
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi leading the democratic movement. 

But by the early 1990s, India had to reconsider the wisdom of working 
against the Government of an important neighbouring country and began 
a cautious engagement with the military rulers of Myanmar. There were 
far too many stakes for New Delhi in a cooperative relationship with 
Yangon to persist with a hostile policy. In warmly welcoming Gen. 
Maung Aye this week, India is doing much more than picking up pieces 
from the Rajiv Gandhi visit of 1987. It is trying to rebuild a 
relationship that got sundered four decades ago, when Myanmar turned 
insular and the large Indian community had to leave that country. 

India and Myanmar have put behind the many negative elements of the 
past and are ready to lay the foundation for a productive bilateral 
partnership that is not predicated on the political colour of the 
Government in Yangon. 

Gen. Maung Aye's interaction with the top echelons of the Indian 
establishment over the next few days will suggest that the limited 
engagement of last decade is yielding place to a new warmth between 
New Delhi and Yangon. 

Critics of Indian foreign policy at home and abroad will surely point 
to the apparent inconsistency of the Indian refusal to deal with the 
military Government in Pakistan while laying it out for the Generals 
of Myanmar. 

But the fact is that India's reluctance to engage Pakistan is not 
based on the nature of the regime in Islamabad. It has to do with 
Pakistan's support for cross-border terrorism in India. 

There is a huge difference, as far as India is concerned, between the 
Generals in Pakistan and those in Myanmar. While the military rulers 
in Islamabad are relentless in their support to terrorism in this 
country, the military Government of Myanmar has been very helpful in 
countering the festering insurgencies in the North- East. 

The benefits of cooperation between the Indian security establishment 
and the military in Myanmar have indeed been immeasurable in the 
management of the situation in the North- East. With terrorism 
looming large over India's security agenda in the recent years, few 
of India's neighbours have been as cooperative as Myanmar in dealing 
with this threat. 

But will India risk international opprobrium in engaging Myanmar, at 
a time when Western nations are trying to isolate it? Unlikely. All 
major powers understand the conflict between ideological principle 
and national interest in the conduct of foreign policy. 

Even the richest and most powerful nations cannot claim to have 
resolved the inherent tension between the ideas of "power" 
and "principle". The United States, for example, argues that trading 
with the Chinese Communists will encourage their evolution into 

At the same time Washington has suggested that trade embargoes 
against Myanmar will force its Generals into restoring democracy. The 
difference probably lies in the American assessment that there is 
more money to be made in China than in Myanmar. 

In any case, the attempts to isolate Myanmar have not really 
succeeded. Myanmar is now part of the Association of South East Asian 
Nations. It is also part of other regional groupings. Most Asian 
nations reject the idea of barricading Myanmar out of the regional 

Unlike the West and the U.S., India needs to be modest about its 
capacity to export democracy to other nations and ability to engineer 
political change in other nations. While democracy is indeed a 
virtue, it can only be established through an internal impetus rather 
than external pressure. 

A number of factors are at work in Indian diplomacy towards Myanmar. 
Four sensitive States of the North-East lie along the volatile border 
of nearly 1600 km between the two nations. Beyond the immediate 
common interest in countering terrorism, New Delhi and Yangon will 
have to work together in bringing peace and prosperity to the north 
eastern parts of India and the remote western regions of Myanmar. 
Myanmar is the bridge-state between India and South East Asia. When 
the new road link between the North-East and Myanmar, built by the 
Indian Border Roads Organisation, opens in a few weeks, the two 
countries would have taken the first step in realising the huge 
potential for trans- regional cooperation in the transportation and 
energy sectors. 

India and Myanmar have a stake in transforming the Bay of Bengal 
littoral into a community of States cooperating across a broad front. 
New Delhi and Yangon also have a big responsibility in ensuring the 
waters of the Bay of Bengal remain tranquil and do not come under 
destabilising external influences. 

India is beginning to understand that it cannot shape the future 
balance of power in Asia without showing the political will to take 
difficult decisions and the institutional energy to pursue its 

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________

PD Burma: Burma Calendar of events

╖       November 10-11th        : Meeting of the Council of the 
Socialist International, Maputo

╖       November 2-17th : 279th Session of the Governing Body
its committees, Geneva

╖       November 17th   : Global Day of Action on Open Schools 
╖       November 30th   : ILO Review of Burma's practises
╖       December 11-12th        : EU and ASEAN
meeting, Laos 
╖       December                 : Japan-Burma panel on reform
Burma's economic structure, Tokyo  
╖       January 2001            : Sweden takes over EU
╖       February                : Meeting of Solidarity Groups, 
╖       March/April             : Teachers/ Students Union 
╖       March/April             : EU Common Position Review 
╖       March/April             : UN Human Rights Commission,
╖       May/June                : Meeting of Solidarity Groups 
╖       July                    : Belgium takes over EU



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