[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

BurmaNet News: November 14, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
________November 14, 2000   Issue # 1661__________


1.   "There is a catastrophe in Burma...It is what happens with an 
epidemic when you do nothing."

Dr. Chris Beyrer, Johns Hopkins epidemiologist on Burma?s AIDS epidemic. 
 See New York Times: Grim Regime--For Burmese, Repression, AIDS and 


# of international heads of law enforcement agencies attending a UN 
conference yesterday on narcotics control hosted by Burmese military: 
# of Burmese soldiers killed yesterday while trafficking a large 
quantify of methamphetamines to Thailand: 5. 
# of Burmese soldiers arrested yesterday in China for trafficking 66 
kilos of methamphetamine in a military jeep: 1.

See Bangkok Post: Five Burmese troops killed in clash with Shan 
fighters; Soldiers slain while delivering speed pills, AP: Report: 
Chinese police arrest Myanmar soldier in drug bust and AP: Myanmar slams 
U.S. for not attending drug conference


*New York Times: Grim Regime--For Burmese, Repression, AIDS and Denial 
*Bangkok Post: Five Burmese troops killed in clash with Shan fighters; 
Soldiers slain while delivering speed pills 
*PYNG:  SPDC police officer sells narcotic drugs

*AP: Report: Chinese police arrest Myanmar soldier in drug bust
*AP: Myanmar slams U.S. for not attending drug conference
*Reuters: Myanmar leader's visit points to a ``pragmatic'' India
*DVB: Burmese student activist reportedly abducted

*The Hindu (India): NEEPCO set to sell power to Burma & Bangladesh 

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

New York Times: Grim Regime--For Burmese, Repression, AIDS and Denial 

November 14, 2000, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final 

Section A; Page 1; Column 3; Foreign Desk 



YANGON, Myanmar 

To inoculate themselves against any outbreak of democracy, the generals 
who run this hermit dictatorship have undertaken two urgent missions of 

Seeking support from the Buddhist majority in what used to be called 
Burma, the junta is sprucing up old pagodas and building new ones at a 
pace and on a scale that experts say is without precedent. 

Nearly every day, a top general travels by armed motorcade to a recently 
restored pagoda. As state television records his piety, the general 
removes his shiny shoes and inspects a newly gilded Buddha. 

The junta has a rather more robust Plan B. In an autumn that has been 
unkind to autocrats -- Slobodan Milosevic failed to steal an election in 
Serbia and the youngest son of Indonesia's ousted president, Suharto, 
was convicted of corruption -- the generals here are taking no chances. 
They have locked up nearly all their political opponents. 

In late September, they again ordered the house arrest of Daw Aung San 
Suu Kyi, the opposition leader whose party won a huge victory in a 1990 
election that the generals ignored. Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, the winner of 
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has spent more than 6 of the last 11 
years under house arrest. 

Senior leaders of her party have been imprisoned or placed under house 
arrest. Two of the most influential monks, who wrote letters that begged 
the generals to talk to Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, are being watched by 
military intelligence. 

The army halted huge pro-democracy demonstrations 12 years ago by 
killing several hundred people and jailing thousands more. Since then, 
the generals have doubled the size of the armed forces, to more than 
400,000, though Myanmar, with a population estimated at 50 million, 
faces no serious foreign threat and has made peace with most of its 
armed ethnic minorities. 

Military analysts say the buildup, which coincides with a steep decline 
in spending on schools and health care, is primarily aimed at preventing 
or, if need be, crushing civil unrest. Large numbers of troops are 
stationed in or around major cities. 

In the last five years, the junta has forcibly resettled tens of 
thousands of potentially restive poor people from city centers to 
distant slums. It has closed most urban universities and sent students 
off to remote rural campuses. Labor unions and private civic 
associations are banned. No elections are scheduled; none seem likely. 

The generals have made it a crime to own a computer modem, send e-mail, 
sign on to the Internet or invite a foreigner into a private home. 

Since seizing power 38 years ago, the military dictatorship has renamed 
the country, renamed this capital (formerly Rangoon) and renamed scores 
of other cities, towns and religious shrines. Every few years, the 
generals rename themselves. 

After the 1988 retirement of the founding dictator, Gen. Ne Win, his 
handpicked successors decided to call their junta the State Law and 
Order Restoration Council, known inside and outside the country as 
Slorc. In 1997, as the generals opened the country to foreign investors 
and tried to soften their image, the name was changed to the State Peace 
and Development Council. 

S.P.D.C., though, has not caught on. People seem to relish calling their 
self-appointed leaders "Slorc." 

The generals have also stopped allowing foreign journalists into the 
country, especially Americans. But Slorc, starved for foreign currency, 
began admitting sizable numbers of tourists after 1996, which it 
proclaimed "Visit Myanmar Year." 

This reporter visited the country in late October and early November as 
a tourist after the Myanmar authorities had failed for nearly five years 
to grant journalist visas requested by The New York Times. Citizens can 
go to prison here for talking to foreign reporters. For that reason, 
this article omits the names and blurs the identities of people who were 
willing to explain what life is like in a nation studded with giant 
green billboards that warn, "Crush all internal and external destructive 
elements as the common enemy." 
In Jail, Fried Rat Is a Delicacy 

A former political detainee had been in prison for about six years when 
a cellmate told him about "Visit Myanmar Year." On hearing the news, he 
remembers laughing for hours in his prison cell. "We said that if any 
foreigner visits our cell for one night, then he will know the real 
Burma," he said. 

He is in his 40's and was arrested by military intelligence for 
associating with a banned political party. He was sentenced to 10 years 
in prison at a secret trial where there were no civilian witnesses. He 
did not have a lawyer. 

Human rights groups say his experience is typical. There are about 1,400 
political prisoners in Myanmar, according to an American Embassy count. 

The former prisoner's incarceration began when guards forced a stinking 
blue cotton bag over his head and asked him questions for four days 
without allowing him to sleep. He said the bag, which kept him from 
seeing the faces of his changing cast of interrogators, was fouled with 
sweat, mucous and blood. 

"It smelled very awful," he said, "so bad you can't even imagine it." 

He was later caught with a magazine in his cell. At the time, prisoners 
were not allowed to read or write. His punishment was three months in 
solitary confinement without access to a toilet or a shower. Unlike some 
unlucky prisoners who were not allowed to clean up after themselves, he 
said he was occasionally permitted to scrape excrement from his cell. 

For years after that, his only reading material was the odd scrap of 
newspaper he sometimes found in the wrapping of cheroots, local cigars 
that prisoners often traded for food. On one shard of newsprint, he 
said, he read the obituary of a cousin. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross began making prison visits 
here in May 1999 and some prisoners now have access to reading material. 

The prison where the man was confined is in an isolated rural area more 
than 200 miles from his hometown. His wife and mother could afford to 
visit him once every three months. They were allowed to talk to him for 
only 15 minutes in a room where one guard took notes and another made 
sure he never touched his wife or his mother. 

In the months between those meetings, he said, he rehearsed all the 
things he wanted to tell his family. After years of practice, he said, 
he and his wife and mother learned to talk and listen at the same time. 

The two women brought food that the former prisoner believes kept him 
and several of his prison friends alive. 

In the long gaps between their visits, he said, he and other prisoners 
supplemented their diet of beans by catching and eating toads, bats and 
rats. They fried their catch on tin plates heated by burning plastic 
bags. He said rats were the heartiest meal one could catch in prison. 

"Actually," he said, "it was very rare to see a rat. Everyone was after 
Deep Poverty, Still, Bright Smiles 

Half a century ago, Norman Lewis, a British travel writer, noted that 
the Burmese "emerge into the sunshine immaculate and serene." 

"There is no misery that manifests itself in rags and sores," he wrote 
in "Golden Earth" in 1952. 

Although badly damaged by World War II, Burma then had the best health 
care system, the best civil service and the highest literacy rate in 
Southeast Asia. It since has become one of the world's poorest, least 
developed and most disastrously governed countries. 

The World Health Organization this year ranked Myanmar second to last 
among 191 nations in the quality of its health care services. (Sierra 
Leone was last.) Most people here live on less than a dollar a day, 4 
out of 10 children are malnourished and the government spends 28 cents a 
year per child on public schools, according to United Nations agencies 
and the World Bank. 

Yet the paradox of serenity and elegance persists. 

Most women and men still wear longyis, or sarongs, many woven in 
brilliant colors. At rush hour in city traffic, women have a poised, 
almost regal way of sitting sideways on the backs of bicycles. 
Passengers on insanely overcrowded buses don't become impatient. 
Children smile at strangers from faces that their mothers have painted 
with sweet-smelling sandalwood paste. 

Rural areas appear to exist outside of time. Surrounded by emerald-green 
fields of rice, spotless bamboo houses are perfumed with garlands of 
flowers. Oxcarts outnumber cars. Every morning, preadolescent monks in 
crimson robes walk the streets, ringing bells and chanting -- and 
adults, in response, fill their bowls with rice and fruit. 

Unlike prosperous Thailand next door, where 90 percent of the forest has 
been cut down, this country still has about half its forest cover. There 
is almost no paper trash in the villages; people value paper. 

The charming countenance of the people and the seductive beauty of the 
countryside, however, are misleading. 

Western governments and United Nations agencies say the generals preside 
over an increasingly toxic mix of heroin- and amphetamine-smuggling, 
drug-money laundering, high-level corruption, forced labor, sexual 
exploitation of young women and an AIDS epidemic of African proportions. 

Some of this results from peace deals the junta has struck in recent 
years with armed ethnic groups in the northeast of the country. Partly 
because Slorc does not have the power to stop them, these ethnic groups 
grow opium that is smuggled to China and India and make amphetamines 
sold in Thailand. Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of 
opium, after Afghanistan. Slorc is not believed to be in the drug 
business itself, but it welcomes money from those who are. 

"The government actively encourages the investment of narcotics profits 
in the Burmese economy, as part of a strategy to wean the ethnic 
organizations from heroin production and to offset the shortage of 
foreign investment," according to the Country Commercial Guide published 
by the American Embassy in September. 

Many of the country's new hotels and offices have been built with drug 
money, the report said, which added that laundered narcotics profits 
have also supplemented government spending on roads and bridges. 

The State Department and several human rights groups say the junta, 
despite repeated denials, continues to use forced labor to build 
government projects and supply porters for the army. 

"Porters who no longer can work often are either abandoned without 
medical care or assistance, or executed," said this year's State 
Department report on human rights, citing what it said were credible 

The experiment in allowing foreign investors into the country is 
floundering, as top generals have begun to seize the profits and assets 
of successful companies, according to local business executives and 
Western diplomats. 

Scores of foreign businesses, including major Japanese companies like 
Toyota and All Nippon Airways, have fled the country in the last year. A 
dentist who treats resident foreigners in Yangon said that in less than 
12 months, the number of Japanese businesspeople in his patient pool has 
fallen to 300 from 700. 

Acting on orders of the prime minister, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, soldiers 
last year occupied a brewery in Mandalay after it became profitable with 
the help of $6 million in foreign investment. The main investor, Win Win 
Nu, a businesswoman living in Singapore, told The Far Eastern Economic 
Review in November that the success of the brewery made it "an easy 
target for greedy soldiers and bureaucrats." 
Denial Deepens an AIDS Plague 

By far the most serious public-policy problem in Myanmar is AIDS. The 
government's owns figures (which have not been made public inside the 
country) show that the infection rate among prostitutes has soared to 
levels that epidemiologists say compare to those in Africa. 

The infection rate among prostitutes in Myanmar's two largest cities 
averaged 47 percent last year -- three times the rate in Thailand. 

"There is a catastrophe in Burma," said Dr. Chris Beyrer, an 
epidemiologist and director of international AIDS training at Johns 
Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. "It is what happens with an 
epidemic when you do nothing." 

The epidemic followed a huge increase in heroin addiction among users 
sharing needles, said Dr. Beyrer, a specialist in AIDS in Southeast 
Asia. A Slorc-financed report four years ago found that heroin use 
jumped "dramatically" in 1988, the year the democracy movement was 
crushed. According to Dr. Beyrer, that was when a flood of cheap heroin 
hit the market. 

A uniquely Burmese culture of sharing needles in tea stalls has 
contributed to an addiction rate that Dr. Beyrer said is among the 
highest in the world. A government study in the mid-1990's, which was 
deemed to be too sensitive to be released in Myanmar but was made 
available to scientists abroad, found that 4 percent of men and 2 
percent of women were heroin users. 

About 57 percent of users injecting drugs have H.I.V., the virus that 
causes AIDS, according to the most recent government figures. The virus 
has since moved from drug users into the sex industry, which Dr. Beyrer 
said has grown rapidly in the last decade -- particularly among teenage 
girls -- because of increased poverty and government programs of forced 

Two prominent doctors in the country said the generals are in denial 
about AIDS. Counseling is virtually nonexistent; condoms, which were 
banned by the generals until 1993, are prohibitively expensive for most 
people. Free AIDS testing is rare, and most people cannot afford the $10 
test to determine if they have H.I.V. 

Once a patient is diagnosed, the doctors said, he or she usually dies 
within three months. There are virtually no anti-H.I.V. drugs in the 
country. There is also an acute shortage of antibiotics for 
tuberculosis, the biggest killer of infected people here. 

The virus is also spreading in jails, where prisoners can obtain food 
(often, a single egg) for a blood donation and where transfusion 
equipment is often reused without cleaning, according to Dr. Beyrer. 

The disease is spreading, too, in monasteries around Mandalay, according 
to a doctor who lives there. He said many infected young men, shunned by 
their families, move into monasteries to die. The doctor said he has 
treated a number of monks with AIDS, several elderly. Before they died, 
some of the monks told him that they contracted the disease by shaving 
their heads with razors shared inside the monastery. 

News about the AIDS epidemic, the flight of foreign investors or the 
country's reliance on drug money never appears here. All publications 
are censored, in a process that takes about a month for magazines. 

State-controlled daily newspapers and the evening television news 
concentrate on flowery accounts of the generals' doings, as well as long 
interviews with senior officers instructing the masses on correct ways 
to grow vegetables. 

"The fact is people turn off the TV when the news is shown," Brig. Gen. 
Zaw Tun, a deputy minister for national planning, dared to say at an 
economic conference in July, according to American diplomats who have 
talked with people who attended. "Only after the news hour, they switch 
the TV on again to view Chinese movies." 

The general has since lost his job. 
Long Shadow of 'The Lady' 

"The lady," as people here who are afraid to whisper her name call her, 
has again been locked up. It is dangerous to go near her heavily guarded 
home in Yangon. 

But even inside her house, where each morning before dawn she meditates, 
exercises on a Nordic Trak and listens to the BBC World Service, the 
Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi torments the 

The official press can't quite decide what to call the 55-year-old 
woman, who returned here in 1988 after 20 years in England. They use a 
number of snide and vulgar nicknames: "the stunt actress of democracy," 
"puppet doll," "England returnee miss" and, in a sneering echo from the 
Clinton White House, "that woman." 

She often is called "Mrs. Aris," a reference to her late husband, Dr. 
Michael Aris, an Oxford historian who died last year of cancer, although 
in Burmese usage a woman is not called by her husband's name. 

The junta's problem with her actual name is that it invokes the memory 
of her father, the most famous and revered man in this country's 
history, Gen. Aung San. He effectively created modern Burma before he 
was assassinated in 1947. He was a gifted military leader who believed 
in democratic, civilian government. The day of his murder is an 
important national holiday. 

General Aung San's daughter also happens to be a fine public speaker and 
a knowledgeable student of Buddhism. Despite Slorc's campaign of 
pagoda-building and its effort to discredit Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, 
several senior monks said she enjoys the loyalty of many of the 
country's 400,000 monks. 

When the generals do let her out of her house, she consistently demands 
that all negotiations begin with recognition of the 1990 election. Her 
party won 80 percent of the seats; most of those who won are in prison. 

Until those negotiations begin, she says, she will support the sanctions 
on investment, travel and arms sales that have been imposed on Burma by 
the United States and several Western countries. (She insists that the 
country's name is Burma.) 

She has said, too, that her party will not be vengeful. The generals, 
however, do not believe her, according to Western diplomats who speak to 
them. They reportedly fear that they and their families will be forced 
to surrender their fortunes and will face prosecution or execution. 

In the dismal stalemate, the government is still trying to explain why 
it never really lost that parliamentary election. 

"Some of the voters wrongly cast their votes," argued The New Light of 
Myanmar, a government daily, in a full-page post-election analysis that 
ran in October, a decade after votes were counted. The piece reasoned 
that citizens misunderstood their patriotic duty in 1990 because they 
had been intoxicated by the "personality cult" of a "super political 
How the Dead Make an Impact 

It has become a political act here to bury the dead. 

Slorc decreed in the mid-1990's that many urban cemeteries be closed. 
Some graves were moved, more were paved over. It was part of urban 
renewal in Yangon, Mandalay and several other cities, as Slorc geared up 
for "Visit Myanmar Year." 

The generals ordered new cemeteries built about 15 miles outside of 
Mandalay, far enough that bereaved families had to hire a motorized 
hearse. At $15 a funeral, many poor people in Mandalay found they could 
not afford to bury their loved ones. 

Private civic associations are illegal (as are private outdoor 
gatherings of more than five people), but two years ago about 20 
individuals in Mandalay decided to take a risk. They raised money to buy 
a hearse and found a senior monk who allowed them to park it at his 

For a while, censors refused to allow the funeral society to be 
mentioned in any publication or the broadcast media. But the burial 
movement became a word-of-mouth sensation in Mandalay, and word of it 
spread to other large cities where generals had closed cemeteries. 

Swamped with donations from Burmese who could spare a few dollars and 
are reared in the Buddhist tradition of giving, the Mandalay funeral 
society raised money for eight hearses and had lots of cash left over. 
Founders of the society began buying medicines for poor people in 
hospitals. Last month they distributed about $1,000 worth of drugs to, 
among other patients, a woman with an ovarian tumor, a child with 
amputated feet and a man with cancer of the rectum. 

Their success is apparently angering the generals. 

"They say it makes them look bad," said one member of the group who has 
been warned to stop giving medicine to the sick. "They think we are 
rivals, but we are not rivaling them." 

Censors now allow local magazines to mention the funeral society, but 
all references to the distribution of free drugs are strictly banned. 
Bleak Present, Bleaker Future 

Burmese people talk hopefully, but passively, about the propitious power 
of the number 13. It's been 12 years since the uprising that nearly 
toppled the generals, they say. Next year, surely, something good will 

But the lockdown of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and party leaders has, for the 
time being, halted all movement toward peaceful political change, 
opposition members admit. An armed insurrection against the army seems 
even less likely. The junta is stronger than ever. 

Outside leverage is limited. The generals maintain relatively peaceful 
relations in the region and are especially friendly with China, their 
principal source of arms. 

This country has perhaps the most fertile farmland in Southeast Asia, 
and usually produces enough rice and other food for its people. 

Finally, diplomats discern no significant divisions within the junta. 
They say the generals know they have too much to lose. 

Slorc, then, seems secure. The generals seem to have unlimited free time 
to inspect pagodas and make speeches about the glory of the precolonial 
past. That was when Burma was ruled by kings who built thousands of 
Buddhist shrines -- a crusade for which they expected to accumulate 

Photographs now on display at many spiffed-up pagodas show grateful 
citizens bowing to their generals, as they bowed centuries ago to their 

"It is propaganda," said an elderly monk in the north of the country. 

No matter how many pagodas they restore, he added, the generals will 
come back as rats. 


GRAPHIC: Photos: Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan has been partly restored by 
the junta to win popular support. (Blaine Harden/The New York Times)(pg. 
A1); A GLORIOUS PAST -- Two thousand pagodas grace Bagan. The military 
is restoring dozens of temples to recall the gracious times when Myanmar 
was still known as Burma, a name preferred by the opposition.; A 
'DANGEROUS' WOMAN -- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition, has 
spent 6 of 11 years in house arrest.; A DANGEROUS CUSTOM -- A young monk 
shaves another in Mandalay. The virus that causes AIDS has infiltrated 
Buddhist monasteries, spreading rapidly in monks who re-use razors 
without disinfecting them. (Photographs by Blaine Harden/The New York 
Times)(pg. A16) 
Map of Myanmar: WHAT BURMA WAS -- A junta seems to be gilding glories of 
Myanmar's distant past to conceal the awfulness of its present. (pg. 

Bangkok Post: Five Burmese troops killed in clash with Shan fighters; 
Soldiers slain while delivering speed pills 

November 14, 2000


SHAN: Five Burmese soldiers were killed yesterday in a clash with Shan 
State Army troops near the Shan state border, opposite Pang Ma Pha 

Shan Herald Agency for News
Nov. 14, 2000

A source said Burmese soldiers and an SSA anti-drug team exchanged fire 
for almost an hour opposite Ban Mai Lan border pass. 

The SSA ambushed some 30 Burmese soldiers from the 316th Battalion who 
were delivering speed pills to Thailand from a drug plant in Ban Khai 
Luang. A large quantity of speed pills and two guns were seized, the 
source said. 

The attack was part of the SSA's anti-drug drive targeting the United Wa 
State Army and Burmese troops, who smuggle drugs to the border areas of 
Shan state for redistribution. 

Army chief Gen Surayud Chulanont yesterday visited 33 border villagers 
in Pai and Pang Ma Pha districts, which will be declared self-defence 
and anti-drug zones. 

In Tak, authorities plan to evacuate some 3,000 border villagers as 
fighting between Burmese troops and ethnic rebels is expected to 

Mae Sot district chief Satawat Sanmuk said Rangoon had sent some 2,000 
fresh troops to the area over the weekend after losing a base to the 
Karen National Union. 

- A senate sub-committee studying problems of ethnic refugees has urged 
talks on repatriation of Burmese refugees. Udon Tantisunthorn, its 
chairman, said Bangkok, Rangoon and the United Nations High Commissioner 
for Refugees should move to expedite repatriations since fighting in 
Burma had ceased. 

Mae Hong Son 


PYNG:  SPDC police officer sells narcotic drugs

Palaung Youth Network Group


      Police Capt. Htin Kyaw from No.1 police station of Sit Ainn 
village, which is located 20 miles  from Lashio in Northern Shan State 
carried over 12,000 pills of  YABA by public bus to Mandalay, reported a 
source close to Capt. Htin Kyaw. The police Captain wore civilian 
clothing until he reached Kyauck Mae township and there, donned his 
police uniform and pistol.   He did this to evade a checkpoint. The 
source said that the Army and Police officers acted like that often 
because they want to increase their income for their families. 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AP: Report: Chinese police arrest Myanmar soldier in drug bust 

Nov. 14, 2000

BEIJING (AP) _ Police in southwestern China arrested a Myanmar soldier 
after finding 66 kilograms (about 150 pounds) of drugs hidden inside a 
jeep, the government's Xinhua News Agency said Monday.
 The arrest came on Sunday, when police in the city of Lincang found the 
drugs _ a form of methamphetamine known on the street as ice _ stashed 
in the jeep's gas tank and tires, Xinhua said. 

 The soldier was not identified. Lincang is near China's border with 
Myanmar and the so-called Golden Triangle, an area also including parts 
of Thailand and Laos that is notorious as a center for global narcotics 

 Meanwhile, a court in Beijing on Monday sentenced a 31-year-old Chinese 
man to death for trying to sell heroin, Xinhua said. 

 Police arrested Han Youfu in December at a hotel in Beijing. A search 
of his room turned up 3.5 kilograms (about eight pounds) of the drug, 
the report said. 


AP: Myanmar slams U.S. for not attending drug conference 

Nov. 14, 2000

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Myanmar criticized the United States for not 
attending a regional law enforcement conference that opened Tuesday in 
Yangon to discuss suppression of drug trade. 

 Heads of law enforcement agencies from 17 countries and two territories 
in Asia-Pacific are attending the conference sponsored by the United 
Nations Drug Control Program. 

 Home Minister Col. Tin Hlaing, speaking at its opening, said some 
countries ``which have decided to boycott the meeting for various 
reasons, do not harbor sincere intentions for cooperation.'' 

 ``It is sad to say that fight against drugs becomes blurred and out of 
focus when efforts of individual countries are viewed and tainted with 
political issues,'' Tin Hlaing said. 
 He did not refer directly to the United States but Myanmar officials 
said privately that the United States had been invited but it declined 
to attend. 

 The U.S. Embassy did not immediately respond to the criticism. 

 The United States has classified Myanmar as a nation with significant 
illicit drug production and trafficking whose government has failed to 
cooperate with Washington's efforts to suppress the drug trade. 

 The classification bars Washington from aiding Myanmar's anti-drug 
 Myanmar, also known as Burma, is the world second biggest producer 
after Afghanistan of opium and its derivative, heroin. 

 Washington has imposed other economic sanctions against Myanmar to show 
disapproval of human rights abuses by its military government and 
failure to turn over power to a democratically-elected government 

 Tin Hlaing, the home minister, said Myanmar is ready to work with any 
organization with ``doors wide open and stands ready to show Myanmar's 
efforts, achievements and shortcomings.'' 

 The four-day meeting will consider heroin and stimulant trafficking and 
abuse, the impact of electronic crime on drug-control strategies, drug 
smuggling by sea and means to improve cooperation. 

 Delegates from Australia, Azerbaijan, Fiji, China, Hong Kong, Macau, 
Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, New 
Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea are 

 Separately, a top member of Myanmar's ruling junta, Lt. Gen. Khin 
Nyunt, said at a drug abuse control meeting in Yangon Monday that 
despite Myanmar's comprehensive drug eradication programs, the country 
was being unfairly accused of conniving with narcotics traders as part 
of a plot to discredit the country.


Reuters: Myanmar leader's visit points to a ``pragmatic'' India

By John Chalmers 

 NEW DELHI, Nov 14 (Reuters) - The second most powerful member of 
Myanmar's ruling military was due to begin a week-long visit to India on 
Tuesday, demonstrating what commentators described as New Delhi's 
pragmatic approach to its eastern neighbour. 

 General Maung Aye, vice chairman of the State Peace and Development 
Council (SPDC) and commander-in-chief of the army, is the most senior 
Myanmar government member to visit India since the SPDC took power in 

 An Indian foreign ministry official brushed off the contrast between 
New Delhi's frosty relations with military-ruled Pakistan and its 
efforts to foster strong ties with Yangon. 

 She also played down the issue of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu 
Kyi, whose National League for Democracy won Myanmar's elections in 1990 
but has never been allowed to govern. 

 ``We are as a country committed to democratic ideals and we as a 
country are committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of 
other countries,'' she told reporters. 
 Myanmar has faced mounting international condemnation this year over 
its treatment of Suu Kyi and the NLD. 

 Suu Kyi, whose mother was Myanmar's ambassador to India in the 1960s, 
has devoted admirers in New Delhi, where she went to school and 

 Relations between the two countries cooled when India gave sanctuary to 
anti-government Myanmar exiles after the military bloodily suppressed a 
1988 uprising in Yangon. 

 But over the past decade New Delhi has put aside declarations placing 
Suu Kyi on a pedestal with its own independence heroes, and analysts say 
practical considerations have increasingly driven it to adopt a firm 
relationship with Yangon. 

 ``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,'' commentator C. Raja Mohan wrote in The Hindu 


 Four northeastern Indian states -- Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and 
Arunachal Pradesh -- lie along the 1,600-km (1,000-mile) border between 
the two countries. 
 India is looking to Myanmar to help curb separatist insurgencies in 
these states, whose rebels sometimes take refuge across the frontier, 
and both sides are working together to control a flourishing 
cross-border narcotics trade. 

 They are also developing a 165-km (103-mile) road connecting India's 
national highway with Myanmar, opening the way for a boost to trade and 
linking the subcontinent to Southeast Asia. 
 Bilateral trade between India and Myanmar was around $216 million in 
1999/2000 (April-March). Most trade goes via Singapore because there are 
almost no shipping links between the countries. 

 ``When the new road link...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,'' 
Mohan said. 

 India says it is looking at whether there is scope for a cross-border 
hydroelectric project, and could be interested in buying natural gas 
from Myanmar if there were viable reserves. 
 China's friendship with Myanmar is another consideration for India, 
which sees Beijing as a long-term potential threat despite a marked 
warming of relations in the past two years. 
 ``...engagement with the military government has become a strategic 
compulsion because of China's growing influence in Myanmar,'' The Times 
of India said. ``India cannot afford to have China get cosy with a 
country bordering its eastern flank.'' 

 India has said in the past that it is aware of ``military collaboration 
between China and Myanmar,'' and has accused China of building an 
electronic surveillance base in Myanmar's Coco Islands in the Bay of 

 Myanmar denied the charge and China branded it ``ridiculous.'' 

 The foreign ministry official, asked about the Coco Islands question, 
said: ``We have said that the Myanmar government has told us that they 
would not allow their territory to be used by forces inimical to India's 


DVB: Burmese student activist reportedly abducted

Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 12th November 

It has been learned that Ko San Naing alias Ye Thiha, the leader of the 
Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors [VBSW], has been arrested by the Thai 
Military Intelligence which is on friendly terms with the SPDC [State 
Peace and Development Council] Military Intelligence. This was noted in 
yesterday's VBSW statement. Ko San Naing was instrumental in forming the 
VBSW that staged a siege on the Burmese embassy in Bangkok. Thai and 
SPDC intelligence personnel believed that Ko San Naing was the 
mastermind behind the sieges at the Bangkok Burmese embassy and the 
Ratburi Hospital. That is why Thai Intelligence has been making a very 
strenuous effort to arrest him. 

According to one VBSW member, Ko San Naing has disappeared since the 
first of this month while hiding and moving from one place to another in 
Thailand. He said while going to Bangkok on an errand Ko San Naing 
disappeared and he never reached Bangkok. The same VBSW member who 
wished to remain anonymous told DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] that 
until the disappearance the members always have contact with each other. 
He also attributed Ko San Naing's arrest to information provided by 
pro-SPDC Thai Intelligence and SPDC spies. He added that Ko Johnny, the 
leader of the Burmese embassy siege, was also tricked by pro-SPDC Thai 
Intelligence who said they would provide medical treatment for his 
wounded leg and he was never heard of since. 

Yesterday's VBSW statement noted that Ko Johnny is believed to have been 
silenced by the pro-SPDC Thai Intelligence. The statement declared that 
it is not known whether Ko San Naing will be handed over to the SPDC or 
meet the same fate as Ko Johnny. The statement cited that all those who 
are responsible for such lowdown acts in the disappearance of Ko San 
Naing and Ko Johnny will face dire consequences. The statement also 
affirmed that the VBSW will continue their struggle in the fight against 
the SPDC military government and their supporters. 

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 12 Nov 00 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

The Hindu (India): NEEPCO set to sell power to Burma & Bangladesh 

By Our Special Correspondent 

The Hindu, Monday, November 13, 2000

GUWAHATI, NOV. 12. The Northeastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), 
the hydel giant, is poised for a massive increase in its generating 
capacity and is looking beyond the region and beyond India's borders. It 
is planning to sell power to the southern States, Bangladesh and Burma.  

The NEEPCO has been supplying about 50 MW to West Bengal State 
Electricity Board from May.  

Bangladesh also has ``appreciable need of power'' and has shown keen 
interest in buying power from India, Mr. P.K. Chatterjee, 
Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of NEEPCO, told The Hindu in a chat 
here today.  
Transmission cost less 

Talks are now on with Bangladesh to take the transmission line from the 
Northeast to West Bengal through Bangladesh. NEEPCO had the first round 
of talks with Bangladesh engineers at Agartala two months ago. A team of 
NEEPCO engineers will visit Dhaka to carry on the talks in January next 

NEEPCO had approached the External Affairs Ministry in this regard, Mr. 
Chatterjee said. Exploratory talks have also begun with ENRON.  

The proposed line through Bangladesh will facilitate power supply to 
Burma as Dawki, on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, is only 
about 100 km from the Burma border.  

Mr. Chatterjee said NEEPCO was now generating 700 MW of power but the 
seven northeastern States were taking about 600 MW. With Ranganadi (405 
MW) in Arunachal Pradesh coming up by September next year, NEEPCO's 
generating capacity will be 1105 MW.  

Several other hydel projects are in the pipeline. These include Turial 
(60 MW) and Tuivei (210 MW) in Mizoram; Kameng (600 MW) in Arunachal 
Pradesh; Tipaimukh (1500 MW) on Assam-Manipur-Mizoram trijunction; and 
Ramchandrapur (500 MW) in Tripura.  

Planning for evacuation of power had to begin now because most of the 
projects would be completed phase by phase by the end of the Ninth Plan, 
though some projects might spill over to the Tenth and Eleventh Plans 
too, Mr. Chatterjee said. 


The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar) from around the world.  
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by 
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx

For a subscription to Burma's only free daily newspaper, write to: 

You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

Voice mail or fax (US) +1(202) 318-1261
You will be prompted to press 1 for a voice message or 2 to send a fax.  
If you do neither, a fax tone will begin automatically.

Fax (Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143


T O P I C A  http://www.topica.com/t/17
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Your Favorite Topics