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BurmaNet News: November 28, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
________November 28, 2000   Issue # 1670_________

*Time Asia: Burmese Democracy Leader Faces New Threat 

*Agence France Presse: Two Myanmar editors awarded press freedom prize 
*Kyodo: ILO to send over 200 request letters for Myanmar sanctions
*The Nation: Bid to wash away blood with Burma
*Zhong Hua Ribao (Bangkok): Foreign minister says Burma agrees to take 
back refugees 
*Bangkok Post: Maneeloy camp to be shut down after repatriation: Burmese 
students to go to United States

*Xinhua: Singapore Becomes Myanmar's Largest Trading Partner

*Thai Rath (Bangkok): Dateline Bangkok: It's happened once too often 
*Vancouver Sun: OPINION - Burma's beauty masks brutal regime

OTHER _______
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Burma news in Thai due next month

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Time Asia: Burmese Democracy Leader Faces New Threat 


Burmese Democracy Leader Faces New Threat

Aung San Suu Kyi has been a prisoner in her own home for years. Now she 
may lose it after a legal suit brought by her U.S.-based brother 

November 27, 2000 
Web posted at 3:05 p.m. Hong Kong time, 2:05 a.m. EDT

Talk about spite. First, Burma's military government told pro-democracy 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi that she couldn't leave Rangoon. Then they told 
her that she couldn't leave her house. Now, they want the house.  

According to Burmese exiles and observers in Rangoon, that's the real 
story behind a lawsuit filed by Suu Kyi's estranged older brother, Aung 
San Oo, demanding half of the house where Suu Kyi has lived since 1988. 
She has been detained there since Sept. 2, when troops forcibly dragged 
her back home after she tried to leave the capital to meet supporters 
up-country. A government spokesman said Suu Kyi would be allowed out to 
plead her case, but she didn't show up in the Rangoon court where the 
suit was being heard last Tuesday morning. It isn't known whether she 
chose not to attend, or was prevented from doing so. The judge postponed 
opening arguments until Nov. 27, and said if Suu Kyi didn't appear then, 
the case would proceed without her. 

Suu Kyi's two-story, monsoon-stained mansion has been her jail, her de 
facto political headquarters, and her fragile sanctuary from the 
military. Between 1989 and 1995, Suu Kyi was kept under arrest inside 
the creaky, lakeside house for leading a campaign to end military rule. 
In 1990, while confined to her home, her political party, the National 
League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in national elections. The 
military, however, refused to honor the result. In 1991, while still 
under house arrest, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. After her release, 
she gave speeches to thousands of followers who gathered every weekend 
at her blue metal gate. So the military threw up barbed wire barricades 
and blocked the street. And government personnel occupy the house across 
the road from where they monitor Suu Kyi and her visitors. 

Now it seems that's not quite enough. "This is not just bad for Aung San 
Suu Kyi personally, it's bad for our country's politics," says Khin 
Maung Win, a member of the Burma Lawyers' Council, a group of exiled 
Burmese jurists in Bangkok. He says that if Aung San Oo wins the case, 
he'll probably donate or sell his share of the house to the military 
government. "Then they can go in there anytime they want." 

Et tu, brother? Why would Aung San Oo turn against his sister and side 
with the one of the world's most reviled regimes? Legally, if Aung San 
Oo wins the case, he can't even keep the house. He's a U.S. citizen, an 
engineer who lives in San Diego, California, and under Burmese law 
foreigners are not allowed to own land or houses. But relations between 
the two surviving children of General Aung San, Burma's independence 
hero who was assassinated in 1947, have been frosty at best for years. 
According to some observers in Rangoon, neither approved of the other's 
choice of a spouse. Maybe it's just sibling rivalry. 

In any case, the house in question was originally the property of their 
mother, Daw Khin Kyi. After she suffered a stroke in early 1988, Suu 
Kyi, who had never relinquished her Burmese citizenship despite marrying 
an Oxford professor and living in England, returned to Rangoon to care 
for her. It was while she was in Burma that the nation erupted in revolt 
against the military, which had abolished democracy in a 1962 coup and 
driven the resource-rich country into economic ruin. Aung San is still 
revered in Burma, and many protesters hoped that his son Aung San Oo 
would return to lead them. But he had no interest in assuming that role, 
and instead, it was Aung San Suu Kyi who took up their cause. 

When Daw Khin Kyi died in December 1988, her will left the house to both 
her children, with the provision that if they sold, it must go to a 
charity. It would be simple enough for Aung San Oo to sell his share to 
a government-run charity, giving the military the access it apparently 
wants. In the 12 years since Daw Khin Kyi's death, Aung San Oo never 
showed any interest in the property, until a few weeks ago. His sudden 
desire to take possession of the house may have more to do with his 
wife, who in recent years has made frequent trips to Burma. "We believe 
his wife is influencing him," Khin Maung Win says. "She has been doing 
business and is seeking business opportunities from the junta." Burmese 
exiles and Rangoon residents who have had contact with Aung San Oo and 
his wife, support that view.  

Suu Kyi may not be out on the street, yet. According to various experts 
in Burmese law, should the court decide in favor of Aung San Oo, by 
rights she should still have the first opportunity to buy her brother's 
half. "But the courts in Burma are not independent," Khin Maung Win 
says. In fact, Burma's courts are a farce. Their record leaves little 
doubt they are under the complete control of the military. Even if Suu 
Kyi is given the chance to buy her brother's share, it's not clear what 
the value of the house is, and if she has enough money to keep it. While 
under house arrest she was forced to sell her furniture to buy food. And 
the million dollars that came along with the Nobel Prize has reportedly 
gone to families of political prisoners.
Word around Rangoon last week was that Suu Kyi was seeking to hire a 
lawyer. Not many lawyers in Rangoon would probably want the government's 
chief nemesis as their client. "They even arrested her dentist," said 
Kyi Maung, the former vice chairman of Suu Kyi's party, during a wave of 
mass arrests of democracy activists in 1996. "If she had a dog, they 
would arrest her veterinarian." But as one Rangoon-based diplomat said, 
"She may never show up in court at all. She might just ignore the whole 
thing and dare them to come into her home and take it." 

Late last year, former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visited 
Burma and met with the generals. Burma's military is anxious for Japan 
to resume aid to their country, which it cut off when soldiers gunned 
down thousands of democracy demonstrators in 1988. Hashimoto gave the 
generals this advice when it came to dealing with Suu Kyi and her 
followers: Don't back her into a corner. 

The generals, it appears, aren't listening. 


___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Agence France Presse: Two Myanmar editors awarded press freedom prize 

November 28, 2000, Tuesday 11:28 AM, Eastern Time 

PARIS, Nov 28 

Two imprisoned Myanmar editors were awarded Tuesday the Golden Pen of 
Freedom award for their devotion to press freedom and democracy. 

The Paris-based World Association of Newspapers (WAN), which hands out 
the award annually, said San San Nweh and U Win Tin had been recognized 
for their "outstanding contribution to the cause of press freedom". 

Both editors, who are serving long prison sentences, "have suffered 
unspeakable hardships and both are in poor health," WAN said in a 

It said authorities in military-ruled Myanmar had offered to release 
them if they renounce all political activity but both had refused. 

"We honour their sacrifice and hope their dreams of Burmese democracy 
will soon be fulfilled," WAN said. "Their imprisonment is a deep blemish 
on the international standing of Burma which can only be erased by their 

San San was arrested in Yangon in August 1994 and sentenced two months 
later to 10 years in prison for "publishing information harmful to the 

Prior to her arrest she edited several woman's magazines and was 
politically active in the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel 
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The 56-year-old reporter, who has also published 12 novels as well as 
short stories and poems, has struggled against illness and isolation 
since her imprisonment. 

U Win Tin was arrested in 1989 and sentenced by a military court to 14 
years in prison for allegedly being a member of the banned Communist 
Party in Myanmar. 

He was later sentenced to five years in prison and kept for nearly a 
year in solitary confinment on charges of allegedly smuggling letters 
out of his prison cell. 

Wan said the writer, who was editor of the daily Hanthawati newspaper, 
has reportedly been crippled by prison guards and is near death. 



Kyodo: ILO to send over 200 request letters for Myanmar sanctions

Nov. 28, 2000

     The International Labor Organization (ILO) will send more than 200 
letters to its member governments and U.N. agencies in early December to 
request help in implementing sanctions against Myanmar over its forced 
labor, an ILO official said Monday.

     The letter will be the initial and specific step by the world labor 
body in implementing the organization's first sanction measures.


The Nation: Bid to wash away blood with Burma 

November 28, 2000, Tuesday 

UNDER the strain of border conflicts and a sense of deep mutual 
animosity, a group of Thai and Burmese scholars yesterday embarked on 
the critical task of attesting that the history of the two estranged 
neighbours is more than just a "history of wars". 

A three-day seminar on "From Fact to Fiction: A History of Thai-Myanmar 
(Burma) Relations in Cultural Context" commenced yesterday with rare 
historical accounts and frank dialogue exchanged between prominent Thai, 
Burmese and Western researchers. The seminar is organised by 
Chulalongkorn University's Institute of Asian Studies and Faculty of 

"The relationship between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) is not just 
militarist, but also cultural," said U Khin Maung Tint, rector of Yangon 
(Rangoon) University's Education Institute. The reason that the cultural 
aspect, in which both nations share many similarities, has been largely 
left out of the ties is because it is not spectacular while the account 
of warfare is more spectacular, he said. 

Myo Thant Tyn, chairman of the Khattiya Institute of Technical Services, 
said Thailand and Burma need to appreciate history from "real sources" 
not through "third parties". 

Thant Tyn called for greater understanding from the Thai public of the 
Burmese' agonising past under colonialism. "Thailand never became a 
colony but we were. And we must first wash out all colonial heritage. 
For us, Thai people are not the enemy". 

Nevertheless, in Thais' collective perception the Burmese are still 
demonised as the Kingdom's arch enemy, the destroyers of Ayudhya and 
enemies of Buddhism, despite the fact that the majority of Burmese are 
also Buddhists. This was greatly reinforced through school textbooks, 
literature and period movies often intended to spur patriotism, 
compounded by violent incidents involving Burmese on Thai soil. 

At the centre of the debate yesterday was the epic movie Suriyothai, 
about a patriotic queen of the Ayudhya era who sacrificed her life while 
defending the country against Burmese invaders. According to a Burmese 
specialist Sunait Chutintaranond, there are a great many myths and 
contradictions concerning the story. He said the demise of Queen 
Suriyothai was first brought to light only during the early Rattanakosin 
era, not the Ayudhya era as believed. Moreover, she was killed by the 
King of Prome; not the great King Tabinshweti of Toungoo who 
successfully reunited Burma, he said. 

Sunait said that in the past, the Burmese were basically seen as enemies 
of Buddhism but during the nation-building period, influenced by the 
concept of a "unified state" and "nationalism", they came to be 
characterised as an enemy of the Thai state. It was during this period 
that Queen Suriyothai was glorified, despite the fact that the Burmese 
themselves have no idea about the character in question. 

However the film's director, MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, argued that after 
six years of extensive research from numerous sources, both Thai and 
foreign, he is convinced that the character really existed even though 
he did not think so initially. 

Also on display yesterday was the epic Burmese movie Never Shall We Be 
Enslaved which deals with the end of the Burmese monarchic period and 




Zhong Hua Ribao (Bangkok): Foreign minister says Burma agrees to take 
back refugees 

November 27, 2000, Tuesday 
[Translated from Chinese-language Thai newspaper]

Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said that his Burmese counterpart had 
agreed to take back Burmese refugees still remaining in Thailand. 

The Thai foreign minister said in Singapore on 25th January that while 
talking with Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung on issues of mutual 
concern, his Burmese counterpart had said that the Burmese government is 
willing to take back the Burmese refugees in Thailand. Burma also 
guarantees that there will be no risks and difficulties in their return. 

However, Surin said details of the repatriation of the Burmese refugees, 
such as the number and the time frame were not discussed during the 
meeting. The officials of the two countries will further discuss the 

In addition, the Thai and Burmese foreign ministers also discussed the 
drug problem and frequent violence along the common border. The Burmese 
side agreed to fully cooperate with Thailand in suppressing drugs, in 
particular opium and amphetamine. 

The foreign minister said he had proposed to his Burmese counterpart 
that the two countries sign a bilateral agreement on drug suppression 
cooperation, like the international drug suppression agreement Thailand 
signed with China in Bangkok at the end of last month. 


Bangkok Post: Maneeloy camp to be shut down after repatriation: Burmese 
students to go to United States

November 28, 2000 

Maneeloy Centre in Ratchaburi will be shut down early next year when 
half of the 2,000 Burmese students housed there are sent to third 
countries, the National Security Council chief said. 

Kachadpai Burusapatana discussed the matter yesterday at Government 
House with assistant US secretary of state for refugee affairs Julia 

The NSC secretary-general said 1,095 Burmese students were sent to third 
countries, 455 were granted permission to settle in third countries and 
555 were awaiting repatriation interviews. The US is expected to take 
the bulk of the students, he said. 

Ms Taft said Washington was ready to help as many as 102,000 war 
refugees in Thailand if requested by Bangkok. 

Mr Kachadpai said Rangoon was showing signs of considering the 
repatriation issue and urged the US and the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees to help send the refugees home. 

Mr Kachadpai allayed Ms Taft's concerns by assuring her refugees 
repatriated in the last two years were safe and encouraging concerned 
nations to continue their support. The authorities are looking for new 
shelters to house 10,000 war refugees living in Salween forest. 

Yuwadee Tunyasiri 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Xinhua: Singapore Becomes Myanmar's Largest Trading Partner

November 28, 2000, Tuesday 1:47 AM Eastern Time 

YANGON, November 28 

Bilateral trade between Myanmar and Singapore amounted to 448 million 
U.S. dollars in the first six months of this year, dominating Myanmar's 
total foreign trade in the period which registered at 2.027 billion U.S. 
dollars, according to the latest data published by the country's Central 
Statistically Organization. 

Of the bilateral trade in the half-year period, Myanmar's import from 
Singapore was worth 392 million U.S.dollars, while its export to 
Singapore was only valued at 56 million U.S. dollars. 

Following Singapore, other major trading partners with Myanmar were 
serially lined-up as China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia 
respectively having bilateral trade of 224 million, 204 million, 159 
million, 143 million and 135 million U.S. dollars during the period. 

Singapore is not only Myanmar's largest trading partner but also its 
largest foreign investor. Since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in 
late 1988, Singapore's contracted investment in the country has so far 
reached 1.504 billion U.S. dollars. 

The two other major foreign investors followed were Britain and Thailand 
with 1.371 billion and 1.264 billion U.S.dollars respectively. 


Thai Rath (Bangkok): Dateline Bangkok: It's happened once too often 

November 28, 2000 

'No, not again." That's how people reacted to the Samut Sakhon jailbreak 
by nine Burmese prisoners. It was the third incident involving Burmese 
in Thailand in 13 months. 

This violence will not end if the root cause of the problem is not 

First, our security measures are lax. How could the Burmese obtain guns 
and grenades while in prison? 

Second, the government's failure to deal with the problem of illegal 
migrant workers. There are now about a million illegal Burmese workers 
in our country. Apart from stealing jobs from Thais, many are involved 
in crime and drug trafficking, not to mention the spread of infectious 
disease. At Samut Sakhon prison, 800 of its 2,000 prisoners are foreign. 

The government has often declared that it will get tough with illegal 
workers, but nothing has been done. This is partly due to corrupt 
officials who take bribes and greedy local businessmen who exploit their 
cheap labour. The western border is a flashpoint that poses a serious 
threat to our security. 

Our military, police and security officials must get their act together 
and solve this problem once and for all. 


Vancouver Sun: OPINION - Burma's beauty masks brutal regime

Last Updated: Monday 27 November 2000  

Elin Sigurdson 

It is a traveller's dream to discover virgin land unsullied by tourism: 
thus Bob Riche's astonishing article extolling the magnificence of a 
cruise on Burma's Ayeyarwady River (On the river from Mandalay, Travel, 
Nov. 18). But it was shocking to see that Mr. Riche took such an 
uncritical approach to supporting the tourist industry in Burma, a 
country notorious for having one of the worst human rights records in 
the world.  

I was incensed at Mr. Riche's irresponsible journalism, particularly 
after having attended a screening of Inside Burma: Land of Fear at the 
recent Fifth Annual Amnesty International Film Festival. This 
documentary illustrated something unique to Burma -- it is the only 
country with an elected leader who urges foreigners not to support its 
tourist industry.  

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has said that tourism only 
serves to support the regime, one that made a bloodbath of the student 
democratic movement in 1988, and suppressed the elected government in 
While the river from Mandalay might hold idyllic vistas of jungle and 
pagodas, until the people of Burma have attained the democracy and human 
rights standards that they have been fighting for, tourism serves as 
funding for the regime's armaments, human rights abuses and drug trade.  

While there may be untold personal gratification in the discovery of 
such an untouched tourist destination, the fact remains that the 
tourist's footprint is not without significant impact.  


Shan Herald Agency for News: Burma news in Thai due next month

Nov. 28, 2000

S.H.A.N., with the support from other news groups, is due to launch its  
internet reporting of news from Burma in Thai language beginning 
As we all know, all of us depend on the Thai people's understanding of 
our  problems and goodwill in order to carry on our struggle for 
freedom,  democracy and human rights in our homeland. However, as it is, 
news reports  written by us and in Thai have so far been few and far 

S.H.A.N. therefore, with the assistance from four other groups, namely:  
Lahu Information Network, Mon Information Agency, Compatriot Network 
Group  and Palaung Youth Network Group, shall begin reporting in Thai, 
hopefully,  during the first week of December.

Our request to our readers is to provide us with valuable information, 
such  as:
What and how to report; Where we should send our reports i.e. e-mail 
addresses or fax numbers for  those who don't have access to the 


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