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BurmaNet News: November 14, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 14, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 05:32:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________November 14, 2000 Issue # 1661__________
NOTED IN PASSING:
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
NARCOTICS CONTROL BY THE NUMBERS:
# 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
INSIDE BURMA _______
*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
By BLAINE HARDEN
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,''
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
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.
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