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BurmaNet News: May 30, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 30, 2001   Issue # 1813
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*AP: Myanmar condemns Thai press articles in tit-for-tat protest
*Bangkok Post: Junta to 'Fix Problem' of Thai-bashing News Stories
*Xinhua: Newly-Built Port Terminal Opens in Myanmar
*Defense Week: Burma's " largest wildlife sanctuary"

MONEY _______
*Xinhua: Seminar on Myanmar-Japan Economic Cooperation Held in Yangon

*DVB : Rangoon strengthens military units on Thai-Burmese border
*Bangkok Post: Use Snipers, They Cost Less, Says Gen Chavalit
*Bangkok Post: Chavalit to Switch Soft Stance to Sternness
*The Nation: Burma Cans Border Meeting
*South China Morning Post: Burmese bandit a Bangkok folk hero 

*Bangkok Post: Navy Needs Better Law on Suppression

*The Dispatcher: Burmese seafarers get justice with ITF help
*The Dispatcher: Vancouver ITF aids Burmese seafarers
*Asia Times: Hush-hush Myanmar talks anger exiles
*ABC Online: Burma's foreign minister to visit Thailand for talks to 
mend relations

*Bangkok Post: What Does Burma Want?
*U.S. Senator Tom Harkin: ? U.S. Apparel and Textile Imports Help to 
Sustain the Burmese Military Junta in Power?
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Mom's son

*BurmaNet: Advisory to Burma media outlets re forged news releases

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AP: Myanmar condemns Thai press articles in tit-for-tat protest 

May 29, 2001

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ The Foreign Ministry has officially protested to 
Thailand about ``malicious articles'' on Myanmar in Thai newspapers, 
firing the latest salvo in a dispute that has plunged relations to their 
lowest levels in years. 

 The ministry summoned Thailand's top diplomat in Myanmar, Raden 
Suwannakorn, on Monday and told him that the articles could adversely 
affect bilateral relations, the official New Light of  Myanmar newspaper 
said Tuesday. 

 Myanmar-Thai relations, strained since February after border 
skirmishes, have deteriorated with an escalating war of words and 
continuing border fights. 

 The dispute is principally over Thai allegations that Myanmar's 
military regime allows an ethnic Wa army, which has reached a cease-fire 
with the junta, to produce illegal drugs at the border and smuggle it 
into Thailand. Myanmar denies this and accuses Thailand of supporting 
anti-Yangon rebel groups. 

 On Monday, the Thai government handed an ``aide memoire,'' or a protest 
note, to Myanmar's ambassador in Bangkok, objecting to the firing of 
mortar shells from Myanmar territory that landed near a royal 
agricultural project in northern Thailand on May 22 

 ``Such an unprovoked attack on royal premises ... was an extremely 
serious incident,'' the protest note said, and urged Myanmar to take 
``speedy actions to remedy the situations. 

 Apparently retaliating against the Thai move, the Myanmar ``aide 
memoire'' took exception to two articles published May 18 and May 20 in 
Thai newspapers. 

 ``The Thai media has been carrying out a vicious campaign to denigrate 
Myanmar and it has been found that the malicious attacks have reached 
new heights,'' the New Light of Myanmar said. 

 It said the Thai articles were ``aimed at destroying national unity, 
tarnishing the image of the country and the government (and) inciting 
instability and unrest.'' 

 To protest the articles, the Foreign Ministry ``delivered an aide 
memoire protesting in the strongest terms the malicious articles in the 
Thai press,'' the report said.


Bangkok Post: Junta to 'Fix Problem' of Thai-bashing News Stories

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Achara Ashayagachat and Bhanravee Tansubhapol

Burma has acknowledged Thailand's concern about articles in the Burmese 
media criticising past Thai kings and has promised to fix the problem, 
Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday. 

Burmese ambassador Myo Myint said Thai-Burmese relations remained 

?We will solve the problems amicably. We're neighbours,? he said.

The ambassador met Mr Surakiart and conveyed messages from Lt-Gen Khin 
Nyunt, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, and 
Win Aung, the foreign minister.

Mr Surakiart said they acknowledged a Thai government protest about an 
article published in a state-owned newspaper 
on May 21.

The minister, who was receiving the envoy's first courtesy call, 
verbally protested against a second article published on May 28 
criticising another Thai king.

The envoy said the articles were written by an individual, and called 
for Thai understanding of Burma's concern about a May 18 article in the 
Thai media criticising Rangoon and its leadership.

Raden Suwannasorn, an official at the Thai embassy in Rangoon, was 
summoned on Monday to receive Burma's protest over the commentary in a 
Thai-language newspaper.

Mr Surakiart told the Burmese ambassador that Thai media enjoyed freedom 
of speech but that the government did not support irreverent actions.

?I'd like to ask the Thai media to be more careful and thoughtful and to 
report only facts so that neighbouring countries will not be hurt,? he 

The envoy said Burma wanted to normalise relations with Thailand, and 
confirmed that the Burmese foreign minister would pay a two-day visit 
during the third week of June.

A meeting of the Township Border Committee was called off on Monday 
after ?security concerns? from the Thai side, the envoy said. He would 
pass on Mr Surakiart's request for a meeting of the Joint Boundary 
Committee, and for the problem at Doi Lang to be shelved for the time 

Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa said Burma was denouncing Thailand to drum 
up patriotism at a time of division in its military ranks. He also 
criticised the Thaksin government for its human rights stance. The 
government ?thinks only of commerce with Burma?, he said. 


Xinhua: Newly-Built Port Terminal Opens in Myanmar

YANGON, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A newly-built port terminal, located upstream 
of the Yangon river, was put into service Wednesday, constituting part 
of the overall facilities of the Port of Yangon. Built by the local 
private Asia World Port Management Co Ltd, the Asia World Port Terminal, 
which is the second wharf of the port development project situated in 
the capital's Ahlone township, was opened to become fully operational 
for container handling. Attending the opening ceremony of the port 
terminal were First Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development 
Council Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt and Minister of Transport Major- 
General Hla Myint Swe. The port terminal offers a wide variety of 
facilities to cater to virtually all cargo handling modes, including 
breakbulk, container, dry and liquid bulk operations. The construction 
of the second wharf under the built-operate- transfer system started in 
November 1998 under a contract signed between the company and the 
Ministry of Transport. The first wharf of the project was completed and 
operational in December 1997. Myanmar has been implementing additional 
port development projects to reinforce the handling capacity of the 
Yangon Port which is Myanmar's largest port out of nine in the country, 
handling all of its imports and over 90 percent of its exports. The 
Yangon Port can accommodate 10,000-ton vessels all year round except in 
the months of March, April and May which fall in dry season. The 
country's state-owned Five Star Line Co owns 21 ocean-going vessels, of 
which 11 are of 3,000 tons.


Defense Week: Burma's " largest wildlife sanctuary"

May 29, 2001

Reporters' Notebook

WWII Landmark A Sanctuary: A remote valley surrounding a once vital 
allied supply route during World War II in Myanmar, formerly called 
Burma, is now the nation's largest wildlife sanctuary, the Wildlife 
Conservation Society  said in a recent statement.

Where once American volunteer pilots, called the "Flying Tigers," flew 
high  over
the remote land battling the Japanese, now there's a 2,500-square-mile  
sanctuary protecting rare Indochinese tigers and rare leaf deer and 
other  wildlife
seldom seen.

The sanctuary was officially created in April by the Myanmar government  
with the
help of the conservation group.

The sanctuary surrounds part of the old Ledo Road which connected India 
to the more familiar Burma  Road in northwest Myanmar. The road, 
completed in 1944 at an estimated human toll of "a man a mile" was later 
renamed the  Stillwell Road to honor American Gen. "Vinegar Joe" 
Stillwell, because it was his idea, the conservation group said. The 
road provided vital communications and  supplies
for the allies.

Over the past half-century the Stillwell Road fell into disrepair and 
the  entire
valley is now largely uninhabited. 


Xinhua: Seminar on Myanmar-Japan Economic Cooperation Held in Yangon

YANGON, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The fourth seminar on Myanmar-Japan economic 
cooperation is being held here to review the two countries' economic 
cooperation in the last few years. The two-day seminar, which began on 
Monday, is also aimed at exploring opportunities and prospects for wider 
economic cooperation between Myanmar and Japan, encouraging Japanese 
entrepreneurs to make more investment in Myanmar and conducting 
technical and training programs for development of human resources. 
Attending the seminar are officials of five Myanmar ministries and the 
Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) 
as well as Japanese entrepreneurs. In February 1998, Myanmar and 
Japanese federations of CCI established an economic cooperation 
committee to work for the enhancement of bilateral economic cooperation 
between the two countries. Japan, which was once Myanmar's biggest donor 
country, suspended its aid to Myanmar in 1988 on account of the 
country's domestic political reason, but resumed its humanitarian aid 
since 1995. Of the aid, that in 2000 amounted to 1.5 billion yens (12.78 
million U.S. dollars), a 70.45 percent increase over 1999. In addition, 
the Japanese government also resumed in March this year its official 
development assistance (ODA) to Myanmar which had been suspended for 13 
years by extending 849 million yens (6. 98 million dollars) of the ODA. 
Besides, Japan has also extended to Myanmar for 19 times a total debt 
relief of 386.45 million dollars. According to official statistics, 
since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in 1988, Japan's investment 
in the country has reached 232 million dollars in 22 projects, covering 
the sectors of oil and gas, manufacturing, real estate, mining and 
hotels and tourism. The Japanese investment ranked the ninth in the 
line-up of Myanmar's foreign investors coming from 25 countries and 
regions. Meanwhile, Japan has become Myanmar's fifth largest trading 
partner after Singapore, China, Thailand and the Republic of Korea. Its 
bilateral trade with Myanmar stood at 265.61 million dollars in 2000, 
accounting for 6.5 percent of Myanmar's foreign trade of 4.086 billion 
dollars during the year. Enditem


DVB : Rangoon strengthens military units on Thai-Burmese border 

DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that more personnel and 
artillery have been sent to the Coastal Region Military Command area as 
reinforcements. Army battalion and company commanders in charge of 
long-range artillery batteries for protection against close range air 
attacks, border area, and coastal region security units will hold a 
tactical meeting on 27 May. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed 
this report.

[Myint Maung Maung] At the moment long-range artillery batteries, and 
military units on the islands and hills in the border areas of the 
Coastal Region Military Command have been equipped with the first batch 
of newly-arrived rocket launchers from Russia. Five new battalions have 
been reinforced at Kawthaung-based No 2 Military Tactical Command since 
April and there is a possibility of a further reinforcement of another 
six battalions. On 18 May more 60 mm and 82 mm rockets and anti-aircraft 
artillery equipment arrived at the Seventh mile long-range artillery 
battery in Kawthaung. Furthermore, advanced air defence equipment will 
be installed at all the long-range artillery batteries along the 
Thai-Burma border areas by the end of May. Rockets and launchers 
imported from Russia have been sent from Rangoon to the Thai-Burma 
border areas since late April.

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 24 May 01


Bangkok Post: Use Snipers, They Cost Less, Says Gen Chavalit

 Monday, May 28, 2001

Minister worried by high price of defence

Wassana Nanuam and Subin Khuenkaew 

Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh thinks the Third Army is spending 
too much money to defend the Burmese border and firing too many 
expensive artillery shells at foreign intruders.

A source said Gen Chavalit wanted the army to use snipers to warn off 
foreign forces instead of mortar or artillery fire.

The deployment of troops along the border and the recapture of Pang Noon 
base in Mae Faluang, Chiang Rai, had cost the army several hundred 
million baht since February, the source said.

The Third Army pays daily allowances of 90 baht per head to 
non-commissioned officers and privates and 135 baht to commissioned 
officers. Each border area required troops from at least one battalion 
while soldiers from two battalions were needed to safeguard the border 
in Chiang Mai.

Each battalion comprises 900 soldiers, to whom the army pays 3 million 
baht in monthly allowances.

Moving troops and weapons around has also used up 5,000-10,000 litres of 
fuel-which has to be paid for.
The source said the Third Army had fired more than 1,000 mortar shells 
in retaliation against Wa forces and Burmese soldiers. The cost of the 
border defence operation already totals 200-300 million baht. 

Third Army commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong defended the 
deployment of forces at the border, saying it was aimed at protecting 
national sovereignty. 

He insisted it was the military's duty to prevent border

?We have to return fire when foreign troops attack our bases or intrude 
onto our soil.

?If shells land on our territory, we have to fire a warning shot. Our 
troops would not dare fire a single shot if they were mainly concerned 
about the budget,? Lt-Gen Wattanachai said.  
?We know that every military operation requires money. It is necessary 
to fire warning shots and return fire. If we are told that no funds will 
be provided, we will have to stop firing.?
The border situation in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district and Chiang Mai 
remains tense as Burma has reinforced its troops and weapons opposite 
those provinces.

Burmese soldiers from two battalions yesterday arrived at Huay Due, 
about 50km from Tachilek. It was not known which outpost they were going 

Thai troops and explosives experts continue to remove landmines and 
boobytraps from Hua Lone hill, planted by Red Wa troops when they 
briefly seized the hill last month.

Meanwhile, Wa forces were reported to have arrested Shan leaders in Na 
Yao, Kok and Hai villages in Kan and Toom border towns, opposite Mae Fah 
Luang district, Chiang Rai.


Bangkok Post: Chavalit to Switch Soft Stance to Sternness

 Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Cuts sweet-talking with Rangoon

Wassana Nanuam

Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has decided to get tough with 
Burma, the defence spokesman said yesterday.

"We will henceforth not be seeing a sweet-talking defence 
minister," said Col Chongsak Panitchkul. The spokesman said Gen 
Chavalit "had to be soft" because he was also a deputy premier 
and therefore required to play along with the country's foreign policy 
regarding Burma.

"But now he is determined to wear his defence hat and 
single-mindedly pursue protection of the country... No more speaking in 
defence of the neighbour," said Col Chongsak, who also blamed the 
media for fomenting misunderstanding between the defence minister and 
troops safeguarding the Thai-Burmese border.

Col Chongsak denied news reports that Gen Chavalit was worried about 
spending by the Third Army in defence of the northern border. "Gen 
Chavalit isn't a stingy man. He is aware of what the troops are doing 
there. He knows he can't specify how much should be spent when it comes 
to protecting sovereignty," Col Chongsak said.


The Nation: Burma Cans Border Meeting

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

In a snub to Thai efforts to diffuse current tensions, Burma yesterday 
called off border committee talks and gave no timeframe when it would 
resume such meetings. 

Chief negotiator Col Akadej Songvoravit was informed by his Burmese 
counterpart Lt Colonel Aye Saw of the cancellation an hour before the 
meeting was to take place in the border town of Mae Sai.  

Aye Saw said Rangoon had instructed him to postpone the meeting, without 
giving any reasons for doing so.

Third Army Commander Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong yesterday accused 
Rangoon of being insincere about resolving border tensions. He believed 
the latest Burmese move was a tit-for-tat reaction to the tough 
statement made on Saturday by Defence Minister Gen Chavalit 
Chavalit had said Thailand was ready to go to war with Burma given its 
improper attitude expressed in the state-run media last week toward the 
Thai monarchy.

The planned meeting of the township border committee (TBC), which has 
not convened since April after a series of Thai-Burmese border 
skirmishes, was called to protest Burma's shelling last week of a Royal 
agricultural project at Doi Angkhang. It was also due to discuss the 
reopening of the Burmese border checkpoint in Tachilek.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Norachit Singhaseni said the TBC meeting was 
a prerequisite for the prime minister's planned visit to Rangoon. 
Meanwhile, Thai Ambasador to Burma Oum Maolanont said that relations at 
the local level must be "steady" before the two governments 
could engage in any fence-mending. He said a visit by Burmese Foreign 
Minister Win Aung by the end of next month would be very critical, 
adding that the willingness to visit on the part of the Burmese was 
already a good sign. 

Speaking yesterday to a conference of Thai consular chiefs and 
ambassadors, Thaksin - who previously indicated wanting to visit Burma 
earlier next month - said he had to wait for the right time and the 
right diplomatic framework. He believed relations were not beyond 
repair, and that his visit would clear mutual suspicions plaguing ties.  

He also called for restraint and firmness on the part of Thais to avoid 
interference by "third parties". He did not, however, 

The issue of Burma was discussed at length at the diplomats' conference. 
Oum expressed concern that verbal sparring through the media and rising 
nationalism on both sides had constrained diplomatic efforts.  
In another blow to the fence-mending efforts, Rangoon's state-run 
newspaper New Light of Myanmar yesterday ran a commentary that likened 
19th century Siam to a "public rest house, offering refuge to all 
and sundry". 

The commentary was written by Ma Tin Win, the same author whose article 
about King Mongkut (Rama IV), published on May 21, prompted a protest 
letter from the Foreign Ministry.

In his follow-up commentary yesterday, Ma Tin Win likened Thailand in 
the 19th century to a thalayan, or "public guest house", 
opening its doors to both British and French colonial influences. He 
added: "Although our kings, true to being human, had flaws, our 
nation did not become a public rest house because of them."  
The author concluded: "Why is Siam clinging to those who never 
treated them on an equal footing?" He was making an apparent 
reference to the Western democracies that now enjoy relations with the 

In an aide memoire handed yesterday to Burmese Ambassador to Thailand, 
Myow Myint, the government protested against the May 22 shelling of the 
Royal project and urged Rangoon to seek preventive measures to guard 
against further incidents. 


South China Morning Post: Burmese bandit a Bangkok folk hero 

May 27, 2001

William Barnes

Shan guerilla leader Yot Serk - a drug bandit according to Burma's 
military  - is rapidly gaining a reputation as a folk hero in Thailand 
where, until  recently, few people would have heard of this self-styled 
freedom fighter,  even after he branched out on an anti-drug campaign.

The reigniting of anti-Burmese nationalism in Thailand, fuelled by anger 
 over the wave of drugs pouring across the border, has thrown the 
spotlight  on this hitherto obscure figure.

A man who sprang from humble origins inside the Shan state to command  
perhaps the most vigorous armed rebellion against the junta's mighty 
army  is "a genuine hero" in the eyes of Thailand's most popular folk 
singer,  known as Ad Carabao.

Thailand's "Bob Dylan" sent him 50 cases of beer for last Monday's Shan  
national day celebrations at his headquarters near the Thai border in 
Mae  Hong Song province.

Thai TV producer Noppon Komarachoon made it to the national day shindig, 
 along with his actress girlfriend and a noted songwriter. Noppon said 
he  plans to base a new TV series around the "heroic" struggle of a Yot  
Serk-like character.

Senior Thai generals - who used to be circumspect in supporting Burmese  
rebels - have lately been praising "our friend" Yot Serk for smashing 
drug  factories near the border.

Shan and Thais are ethnic cousins with a similar language and have found 
it  easy to take the same side in confronting the prickly Burmese. Thais 
at  every level claim to distrust ordinary Burmese. This may be partly 
because  they are often poor and desperate foragers in the big 
underground economy. 
But the Burmese are old enemies who are still bitterly blamed in Thai  
history books for destroying the old royal capital at Ayuddhya. A new 
film  of the doomed heroics of a Thai village that tried to fight off 
invading  Burmese 250 years ago, Bang Rajan, has been playing to packed 
The Burmese in turn habitually complain that the Thais are "slippery  
hypocrites". So when drug producers in the Shan state turned their hand 
in  the 1990s to making amphetamines - or "crazy drug" as the Thais call 
it -  to sell into Thailand and the rest of Asia, history had primed the 
two  countries nicely for a confrontation.

In February, the two sides fought a half-day border war around the 
northern  Thai trading town of Mae Sai after Burmese infantry tried to 
cross through  Thai territory to attack one of Yot Serk's units. More 
recently, the Thais  shelled and strafed (at least according to the 
Burmese) a disputed hilltop.  Just last week the Thais said the old 
enemy had shelled a royal-sponsored  agriculture project on the border 
in a "deliberate act of provocation". 
Yot Serk's Shan State Army has in some ways become the sharp spear of a  
frustrated Thai military seemingly unable to neutralise the traffickers 
who  are blamed for devastating Thai society with hundreds of millions 
of  amphetamine tablets.

If in the past he was tainted by his association with the notorious, now 
 "retired" drug warlord Khun Sa, this is largely forgotten. 
What Thailand has not done, however, is offer support except in the most 
 general way to the ethnic peoples who claim to suffer great hardship 
under  the Burmese. Yot Serk may be a "hero" in the eyes of some Thais, 
but that  does not stop the authorities pushing refugees back across the 
border. Nor  are they keen on blocking businessmen jockeying to do deals 
in Burma. 


Bangkok Post: Navy Needs Better Law on Suppression

 Monday, May 28, 2001

Anucha Charoenpo

Naval officers and law experts have agreed in principle to push the 
government for a new law to curb drug trafficking activities at sea 
which are now on a steady rise. 

Due to a relentless drive against drug trafficking on the northern 
Thai-Burmese border over the past two years, drug smugglers have turned 
to the Andaman sea as a new route to transport drugs from the 
Burma-based drug-making laboratories to third countries. Fishing boats 
were mainly being used to ferry drugs from Kawthaung, opposite Ranong, 
to Phuket before being shipped to Singapore. The seizure of seven 
million methamphetamine tablets and 116 kilogrammes of heroin from two 
Thai trawlers cruising off Surin island earlier this year was clear 
proof of their preference for the sea routes. 

Justifying this new threat, the naval officers and narcotics agents 
gathered for a seminar in Chon Buri last week to discuss loopholes in 
the existing anti-drug laws. 

They said the present law, enacted in 1947, authorises the navy to only 
suppress some minor offences committed at sea. It gave the navy only 
limited power in handling drug offences. The seminar unanimously agreed 
that the navy should be given unlimited authority on this. Right now 
they have the power to arrest but not question the suspects.  
The participants agreed that naval officers should be allowed to search 
foreign ships for drugs in Thailand's 200 nautical mile exclusive 
offshore economic zone. If prior permission was not sought, foreign 
ships could not be searched under the present law. 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

The Dispatcher: Burmese seafarers get justice with ITF help

By Tom Price 

(Published by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union)  January 

The captain of the APL Mexico added the last straw to the load of its 
Burmese crew when he asked them to sign a false pay sheet, They were 
already fed up with closely rationed food and pay deductions for such 
work necessities as gloves and comforts like soap. They knew their pay 
was inferior to the standards the Mexico was required to pay under its 
ITF contract, and they knew it had a lot to do with their being Burmese. 
Since their ITF-affiliated Seafarers Union of Burma was busted by the 
military dictatorship a decade ago, sailors form that country have to 
register with the government and promise to stay away form the ITF and 
other unions. The military has jailed or killed thousands of activists, 
and was recently cited by the International Labor Organization of the UN 
for the use of forced labor. The most unscrupulous companies and their 
captains take advantage of this, treating the Burmese workers at sea 
with the same disregard as their military treats them at home.  

But on the Maxico things were different. Inspired by world condemnation 
of the Burmese junta, the sailors weren't afraid to call the ITF last 
Dec. 13 to assist in the repatriation of a crewman who had suffered a 
broken arm.  

"After getting him off the ship in Long Beach I found out about the pay 
rates and decided to take action," ITF Inspector Rudy Vanderhider said.  

The crew were not only denied ILO-sanctioned rights to organize, they 
also were paid beneath the ILO seafarers,' standard wage for their 
65-hour workweeks. Vanderhider wrote directly to the ship' owner about 
the substandard wages, but got no response. Then the ship returned to 
Long Beach Jan. 13 and the crew stood down.  
"They wanted the crew to sign a second portage bill with ITF-approved 
wages so the captain could show ITF inspectors if they came on board," 
Vanderhider said. "The crew refused, knowing this would waive their 
unpaid wages. I got copies of what they actually signed on for, the 
earlier portage bill, and the pay was drastically lower than the one 
they refused to sign."  

Of course, this caused problems on the dock. An un-crewed ship is an 
unsafe ship, and loading could not occur without the crew's assistance.  

Vanderhider quickly arranged portage bill with supposedly correct ITF 
wages. But Vanderhider knew better.  

"I started negotiating to get their legitimate back pay," Vanderhider 
said. "I had both sets of documents. From there it was a slam-drunk and 
the ship's agent said they'd pay."  
But there was one catch?the payment would have to be made at the ship's 
next stop, Manzanillo, Maxico. It would take too long to get the money 
to Long Beach and the ship had a schedule to meet. The ship's charter 
contract contained a provision that if it were delayed due to a labor 
dispute, its charter would be revoked and the crew would be out of their 

That proved to be a deal-buster. The crew wanted off the ship in the 
worst possible way, and they were willing to forgo pay in favor of 
repatriation rather than sail three days to Manzanillo, Maxico. It was 
around 2:00 a.m. on Jan. 11 when Vanderhider went below to meet with 

"I told them the company guaranteed to pay the wage claim, and the only 
reason they did it is because you control whether or not this ship sails 
tonight," he said. "If you stop this ship you hurt them in the worst way 
you can, and then why should they pay you? The captain will repatriate 
you, because legally he has to, but we'll have no leverage to get the 
pay if the ship doesn't move."  

With the whole deal hanging in the balance, Vanderhider called Peter 
Lahay at the ITF's London headquarters. If the ship didn't sail, the 
crew stood to lose all their back pay, a whopping $91,440.96. The ITF 
contract contains provisions to fly an inspector to a place like 
Manzanillo to settle a claim, Lahay said, and Vanderhider got the ship's 
agent to authorize payment for his flight.  

"I got them letters of indemnity, a legal document between the ITF, ship 
owner and crewman saying tithe the payment of wages the dispute is 
settled," Vanderhider said. "If they go after a sailor after this is 
signed, the ITF typically hires counsel and goes after them."  

The crew also got their seamen's books cleared up, saying they were not 
at fault for the incident. Vanderhider, armed with signed agreements to 
pay each sailor and repatriate him to Burma, then promised the crew he 
would meet them in Manzanillo if they would sail the ship there. But the 
crew still didn't trust the owners.  

"I had left my last copy of The Dispatcher when I visited the ship in 
December with a story about the ILWU's support of Burmese workers, which 
they read carefully. Their English was really excellent," Vanderhider 
said. "They said that they knew they could trust the ILWU after reading 
about our support for them."  

The crew was also aware of the increasing worldwide support and felt 
empowered to move. However, six of them jumped ship in Long Beach, an 
extremely rare occurrence even on flag-of-convenience ships. The 
remaining crew sailed the ship to Manzanillo, arriving at 3:00 a.m. Jan. 
13. Vanderhider arrived four hours later and continued negotiations. 
Everyone waited anxiously until 2:30 that afternoon, when an armored car 
arrived on the dock. Several shotgun-wielding guards jumped out and 
brought the cash on board.  

"They got paid off that day, the next day we hooked up at the airport in 
Mexico City for a very emotional reunion as I flew back to L.A. and they 
took off to Burma," Vanderhider said.  

He expressed his concern for the crew's safety once they returned to 
Burma, but they were determined to do the right thing.  

"Some people have to make themselves vulnerable if anything if going to 
change," he said.  

"This crew of thirteen will be part of history and the ITF and the ILWU 
will be on the front line with them. Harry would be proud.  


The Dispatcher: Vancouver ITF aids Burmese seafarers

By Tom Price 

(Published by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union)  January 

The ink was barely dry on the APL Mexico deal when the ITF DISCOVERED 
TWO MORE EXPLOITED Burmese seafarers. The SD victory arrived at 
Vancouver Jan. 24 to load sulfur and its crew contacted ITF Inspector 
Myles Parsons. They had tired of getting verbal abuse form the captain 
and getting cheated on their pay. They wanted the ship's ITF contract 

"I did a routine inspection and asked the captain for the wage sheet," 
Parsons said. "He gave it to me, and I went below to talk to the crew. 
They show to talk to the crew. They showed me their pay slips. Showing 
what they actually got, and it was far below the ITF rate."  

He found the two Burmese second mates were underpaid by more than 
$14,000 each. The captain came below to try to intimidate Parsons and 
the Filipino crew, who were also owed a considerable sum of money. He 
threatened to call the Port State Authority and the police, Parsons 

"I told him to go ahead. Howie Stohl, the Local 500 BA, was there and he 
told the captain the ILWU wasn't pleased with the way the crew was 
treated and wondered whether they could work safely," he said.  

The captain got on the line to the ship's Greek owner, getting him out 
of bed. They agreed to pay the Burmese $14,750 each. They took the money 
and ask for repatriation to Thailand, where the ITF-affiliated Sefarers 
Union of Burma resides in exile. Its president, U Khin Kyaw, remains in 
custody since his arrest in 1997.  
The union fled Burma when the military refused to turn over power to the 
democratically elected government headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu 
Kyi in 1990. She won by four-to-one margin, but remains under house 
arrest in Rangoon.  
While Burmese seafarers face serious problems on their return home, 
there have been positive moves. The ITF and unions such as the ILWU 
passed resolutions supporting the return to democracy and showed they 
were willing to back up Burmese workers whenever possible. The 
International Labor Organization of  the UN effectively kicked Burma out 
and called on all member nations to assess their relations with Burma, 
renamed Myanmar by the military. The crew of the  APL Mexico cited 
support form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along 
with the ILWU  and ITF as reasons for their willingness to act for their 

Suu Kyi and the military have engaged in a quiet dialogue since October 
2000, brokered by UN special envoy Razali Ismail, a Malaysian diplomat. 
The Jan. 21 edition of the New Delhi-based Hindu newspaper quoted 
sources saying the talks came about as result of pressure form the ILO, 
ASEAN and the UN. Both sides are keeping quiet, though the junta 
instructed media in the country to cool attacks on Suu Kyi. 
The junta released 85 political prisoners in a good will gesture before 
European Union delegates met with Suu Kyi in late January. The 
Australian Broadcasting Company quoted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir 
Mohammad in a Jan. 29 story saying the junta told him they would hold 
new elections in a couple years, but no official announcements have been 
issued. ?T.P.  



Asia Times: Hush-hush Myanmar talks anger exiles 

May 30, 2001

By Boonthan Sakanond 

CHIANG MAI, Thailand - Nearly nine months after talks began to end 
confrontation between Myanmar's military junta and pro-democracy 
political groups, there is little sign of progress in their arriving at 
a consensus on the country's future. 

Despite initial reports that the negotiations would prompt the release 
of hundreds of political prisoners and the resumption of political 
activity by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), nothing 
of the sort has happened. The talks seem to be bogged down due to 
differences of opinion within the ruling military government. 

While a section led by the powerful chief of military intelligence 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt favors sharing power with opposition 
groups, other hardliners within the military are not prepared to 
consider any proposals which they believe will "lead to uncontrollable 

In the meanwhile, frustration is growing among Myanmese activists in 
exile over what they feel is a lack of transparency in the highly 
secretive negotiations between NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the State 
Peace and Development Council or SPDC, as the military rulers call 

"The government is supposed to be discussing the future of the Myanmar 
and the Myanmese people, so why can't they let everybody know at least 
the agenda for their talks?" says Bo Gyi of the Association for 
Assistance to Political Prisoners, a Myanmese dissident organixation 
based in Thailand. 

The SPDC is reported to have entered into negotiations with the NLD only 
on condition of strict secrecy over proposals. Even many senior leaders 
of the organixation who are not part of the talks have little idea about 
what is being discussed. 

In the absence of hard information, various rumors are doing the rounds 
in the Myanmese capital, Yangon. According to some, the SPDC has mooted 
a proposal for it to hand over power to a transitional government led by 
the NLD provided the military is allowed to retain control over defense 
and home affairs and given substantive representation in any new 
Parliament. Although the NLD won the 1990 general elections by a 
majority of more than 90 percent of the votes cast, the military regime 
has refused to hand over power. 

"It is difficult to figure out where the talks are leading to, assuming 
of course they are taking place in a proper way at all," says Zaw Min, a 
former student activist and currently in charge of foreign affairs for 
the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), a Myanmese opposition 

Reports coming from diplomatic sources in Yangon indicate that in recent 
weeks, the talks have been stalled due to the death in mid-February of 
Lieutentant-General Tin Oo, a hardliner opposed to sharing power and a 
powerful member of the SPDC hierarchy. Tin Oo died with several other 
military officers in a mysterious helicopter crash, attributed to 
sabotage by rivals within the SPDC, while on an inspection tour along 
the Thai-Myanmar border. His death is believed to have sparked off a 
severe power struggle inside the SPDC and made the dialogue with the NLD 
an issue of serious contention among the generals. 

Many observers point out that even if the talks do go ahead as planned 
and produce some kind of framework for a transition of power from the 
military to civilian institutions, there is bound to be serious 
opposition from Myanmar's numerous ethnic minority groups, many of whom 
have been battling Yangon for decades to seek autonomy or even 

The ethnic groups have been left completely out of the talks and have 
demanded inclusion if the discussions are going to have any real 
political meaning for all populations living in Myanmar. 

"The current negotiations between the military and the NLD are welcome 
but very inadequate without the participation of all ethnic groups," 
says Saw Ba Thein, president of the Karen National Union, which has been 
fighting for autonomy on behalf of the Karen minorities for more than 
half a century. According to him, what most ethnic groups want is a 
genuinely federal Myanmar where ethnic groups will have the freedom to 
socially and economically develop their societies without domination by 
the majority Myanmarns. 

In fact, the question of how to bring in the various ethnic minorities 
into the transition process may prove to be the most contentious and 
divisive issue during the talks between the NLD and the military. While 
the SPDC has successfully signed ceasefire agreements with many of the 
erstwhile rebel groups, many senior military leaders still think of the 
ethnic minorities as being discontented populations to be suppressed and 
controlled without any consideration for their aspirations. 

"All the ethnic minority groups are willing to be part of a Myanmar that 
is democratic and under a leadership that can be trusted to abide by the 
principles of federalism, but there is no way they will accept the 
current military regime," says Ba Thein. 

One unfortunate fallout of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations in 
Yangon has been a growing distrust between Myanmese dissident groups in 
exile and the ethnic rebel groups. Some ethnic minority leaders see the 
talks between the pro- democracy opposition groups and the military as a 
entirely "Myanmarn affair" and a snub to smaller ethnic populations 
inside the country. 

"Whether or not the talks produce any transition to democracy, the SPDC 
is sure to emerge the winner in this episode because it has managed to 
cast aspersions on the motives of the NLD and divide the Myanmar 
opposition activists from the ethnic minority rebel groups," says an 
Asian diplomat here. 

Among the other rewards that Myanmar's military rulers have reaped by 
taking part in the dialogue with the NLD is a softening of the 
international stand against their regime, whose human rights record has 
been called one of the worst in the world. While some foreign 
governments like the Japanese have taken the talks as an excuse to break 
sanctions and restart financial aid to Myanmar, others have decided to 
tone down their opposition to the SPDC to "give them a last chance". 

With the Myanmese economy in dire straits and on the verge of collapse, 
some see the entire talks as a charade carried out by the military 
rulers to buy time. The SPDC's foreign minister Win Aung, asked by 
visiting foreign reporters about a timeframe for the talks to conclude, 
replied: "There is no set time for the dialogue or peace process in 
Northern Ireland, or in Sri Lanka or the Middle East. This is also not a 
process where you can start a countdown. This is timeless." 

For the people of Myanmar, already laboring under four decades of 
military rule, waiting for the military to make up its mind about giving 
up political power may not be a very appealing idea. 

(Inter Press Service) 


ABC Online: Burma's foreign minister to visit Thailand for talks to mend 

Wed May 30 06:14:34 UTC+0900 2001 

Burma's foreign minister to visit Thailand for talks to mend relations  
Burma's Foreign Minister Win Aung will pay a two-day visit to Bangkok in 
the last week of June in a bid to mend sour relations with Thailand. 

The Thai Foreign Ministry made the announcement after a meeting with 
Burma's Ambassador Myo Myint. 

Ministry officials say the discussions would cover a wide range of 
matters, including cooperation in combating the production and 
trafficking of narcotics.  

After border disputes in February, Thailand and Burma have been 
embroiled in a diplomatic war of words, and this month have lodged a 
series of protests with each other.  

(05:51:39 AEST) 


Bangkok Post: What Does Burma Want?

 Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Several days have passed but Burma has yet to respond to Thailand's 
protest against the shelling of a royal project in Chiang Mai's Fang 
district. A mortar shell landed near a villa at Doi Angkhang royal 
agricultural project.

The shelling coincided with the publication of an article in the Burmese 
government-owned New Light of Myanmar which was deemed insulting to the 
Thai monarchy.

The article, written by Ma Tin Win, sharply criticised King Rama IV for 
the way he handled the colonial powers in the mid-1800s. 
The writer also extolled the heroism of a Burmese king who did a lot of 
good deeds for his country. Given the nationalist tone of the article, 
one can't help wonder whether some Burmese are trying to undermine 
relations between the two countries.

Rama IV is recognised by Thai and foreign scholars for his diplomatic 
skills, which enabled Siam to survive the colonial period while its 
neighbours fell to European powers.

In the article, Ma Tin Win also ridiculed the presence of prostitutes in 
Thailand, saying it helped to promote the country's image in foreign 

Burmese Ambassador to Thailand Myo Myint was summoned last Thursday to 
receive a strong protest from the Foreign Ministry over the article, but 
so far there has been no official response from Burma. 
Meanwhile, Burma has been silent on Thailand's proposal for a local 
border committee meeting to discuss border problems.

Thailand has tried its best to befriend Burma and solve the disputes 
peacefully. What can we do in the absence of positive signs from Burma?

Editorial from Arthit Daily


U.S. Senator Tom Harkin: ? U.S. Apparel and Textile Imports Help to 
Sustain the Burmese Military Junta in Power?

                          BY U.S. SENATOR TOM HARKIN
		              MARCH 1, 2001


	Mr. President, I introduced legislation last October to impose a ban on 
textile and apparel imports from Burma. My colleagues, Senators Leahy, 
Wellstone, Hollings, Feingold, Lautenberg and Schumer joined me as 
original cosponsors on the bill. In introducing sanctions last session, 
I was motivated by the desire to help the 48 million people of Burma, 
terrorized for the last 12 years by the Burmese military junta. 

	This brutal regime is notorious for gross human and worker rights 
violations, including the use of widespread forced labor and child labor 
to build roads and dams and to transport military goods. It is 
responsible for the exploitation of 50,000 child soldiers?more than any 
other country in the world. It is deeply involved in international drug 
trafficking.  It continues to deny the results of a democratic election 
in 1990 and has kept Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma?s democratically-elected 
leader and 1991 Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, under house arrest 
for much of the past decade.  It is arguably the worst offender of basic 
human rights and worker rights in the world today, having imprisoned, 
tortured, and killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of 
its own citizens whose only crime has been to support democracy. 

	Quite simply, the Burmese military junta has committed such horrific 
and appalling human rights and worker rights violations, that we have no 
choice but to unite with other nations around the world and take 
exceptional action.

	The foundation is already in place.  A bipartisan majority of the 
Congress in 1997 enacted limited sanctions combined with a ban on new 
U.S. investment.  Many other national governments, as well as scores of 
city and state governments (including the State of Massachusetts) in the 
U.S., did the same.

	However, when I began investigating U.S. trade with Burma last summer, 
in concert with the National Labor Committee, I was alarmed to discover 
skyrocketing U.S. apparel and textile imports from Burma.  In fact, U.S. 
apparel imports from Burma have increased by 372% since supposedly 
?tough sanctions? were first enacted.  They increased by 118% last year 

	Accordingly, last November  I wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Madeline 
Albright to request copies of an unclassified cable sent from the US 
Embassy in Rangoon to the State Department to see for myself exactly 
what officials in Washington knew about soaring US apparel imports from 
Burma.  It took nearly four months for me to obtain this unclassified 
cable, once my request cleared Freedom of Information Act processing.  
Its contents are very troubling and I request that the cable be 
re-printed in its entirety at the conclusion of this statement.

	The U.S. Embassy reports that  the garment industry in Burma is 
booming. It is one of the few growing industrial sectors in Burma, and 
the main Burmese export to the United States. But, Mr.President, what my 
colleagues probably don?t know is that the Burmese military junta has 
taken over the lucrative, apparel-manufacturing industry by forcing 
foreign companies to enter into joint ventures with that military 
government?s state-owned enterprises. 

	Most disturbing, the American people have no idea that the jeans or 
sweaters they are buying and that were made in Burma quite probably were 
made by workers being paid as little as eight cents an hour or $3.23 for 
a 48-hour work week. Among the labels manufactured in Burma in July 
2000, were Nautica, Jordan, Jordache, Kenneth Cole, Fila, Asphalt and 
Arrow Golf. Other labels seen in Rangoon outlet stores included K-Mart, 
WalMart, Family Dollar, Ames and Montgomery Ward. While Tommy Hilfiger 
items were still displayed in Rangoon?s store windows at the time, it 
supposedly stopped producing in Burma following consumer boycott fears 
last summer. 

	Clearly, the limited sanctions imposed on the Burmese regime  in 1997 
are not enough. This cable provides strong evidence that our current 
sanctions policy on Burma has been far more bluster than bite.  
Essentially the U.S. Government has provided the Burmese military regime 
with very easy access to the U.S. apparel market with 95% of their 
products under no practical import restrictions at all.

	Furthermore, since our diplomats in Rangoon blew the whistle last July, 
U.S. policy-makers at the Departments of Commerce, State, Treasury, and 
Labor and the USTR in Washington, D.C. have done nothing to bring our 
policy in line with our rhetoric.

	As a result, most of $403 million dollars from apparel imports from 
Burma last year alone went straight into the coffers of arguably the 
worst human rights and worker rights violators in the world.

	This deplorable situation merits congressional hearings, especially 
before the Bush Administration reaches conclusions about when and where 
sanctions are warranted and effective. Mr. President, I am also going to 
re-introduce legislation soon and hopefully on a bipartisan basis to ban 
all apparel and textile imports from Burma and I will push hard for its 
enactment this year.  


The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Mom's son

[BurmaNet adds--This editorial from The New Light is noteworthy because 
it defends and repeats comments that the Thai government contends are 
insulting to the Thai monarchy.]

Wednesday, 30 May, 2001

My name is Lin Aung. I always call the writer Dr Ma Tin Win " Mom". It 
has been long since I have known mom, a retired professor, who is 
enthusiastic in giving lectures and writes as freely as she thinks. 

These days, I have been able to talk with her. But we can't meet in 
person as we both are busy. I phoned Mom and told her "After reading the 
first series of your articles in the dailies, I have to thank you. As 
you were concentrating your efforts more on writing religious matters, I 
was thinking that I would not be able to read articles on history, mom 
usually wrote. I was much pleased to read your works on history again. I 
thanked you for the articles." 

  Mom laughed and said, "I also was thinking that I would not write 
articles on history any more. But this time, it is the duty assigned by 
the requirement of the time. So, I have to write about them". Even on 
the phone conversation, Mom told me the facts that should be known to 
the youth. 
  I phoned Mom early in the morning that day. " I heard from BBC last 
night that there have been repercussions on your article." Mom said " Oh 
its too fast. BBC asked me by phone just yesterday evening." I too was 

Mom asked me " Tell me what the BBC had announced." I told her " It was 
said in the news report that when the columnist was asked about the 
article, she said that she had presented her thoughts based on the 
references she made from the Siamese (Thai) history books compiled by a 
Siamese historian; that The Nation daily said that she distorted the 
Siamese history; that when the columnist was asked about it, it was 
known that her thoughts in the articles were based on the history book 
compiled by professor Rong Syamananda. The first edition of the history 
book was published in 1971. I am glad. Because the BBC announcement has 
boosted the publicity of your articles. I thank you for being able to 
learn the essential facts." 

  Mom said " Oh son, I have told BBC a lot. It seems that it summerized 
my words because of the time limit". Then, I requested her. " What have 
you told BBC?" Oh son, " I told BBC interviewer the publishing dates of 
the book. The first edition was published in 1971 and the eighth 
edition, in 1993. I also told him that the book is still in my hand. The 
facts were extracted from Rong's compilations. There were not any of my 
own words." When I told him that, the interviewer said " As your article 
includes " I can think and create them into words" , aren't they your 
own words?" " He was clever at asking questions most thoroughly." 

So, I answered his question, " Yes those are my words. But they did not 
come from random thoughts. I made a reference on what the history 
Professor Rong himself has stated in his book that after Siam (Thailand) 
reached agreement with the British officer Sir John Bowring, it lost its 
judicial power and the monetary system. The judicial sector which is the 
most important department of a nation was destroyed because of the 
concession over extraterritorial jurisdiction. The lost of the monetary 
system is harmful to the national sovereignty. I didn't forget to add 
necessary things in my conversation. Rong even said in his book that the 
royal goods department had to be closed once and for all. The monopoly 
of the royal goods is important. There should be monopolized products. 
Because the nation will have to suffer if the foreigners are allowed to 
exploit the natural resources for profits at will. Even after losing two 
wars with the British, King Mindon of our country had been able to 
continue the control over the royal goods department. According to Rong, 
the situation reached to closing the royal goods department. This meant 
that the nation fell under subjugation though the King was still on the 
throne." Mom is old, but she said these words with eagerness. 

When I said "Yes Mom" in support of her words, she continued, " I told 
BBC that I will continue to write more articles. But I will refer to the 
facts compiled by Rong. I am writing articles not with the wish to 
slander anyone, but with the will to let the people of our country know 
the facts of history. Besides, I felt much heavy-hearted while reading 
the Siamese history books. I told BBC that it is much heart-rending for 
me to learn that the Siamese too had suffered from the cruel acts of the 
colonialists like us; and that it is a proper duty for me to write the 
We had a long phone conversation. Mom could talk eloquently as she had 
studied and read much. I was glad to hear such valuable words from her. 
I concluded my conversation saying " Mom, I wish you good health as it 
is the most important thing for you." I wrote this article, as I want to 
say that I am in support of what Mom has stated in her interview, " It 
is much heart-rending for me to learn that the Siamese had suffered from 
the cruel acts of the colonialists" and "But I will have to continue to 
write more articles". 

Author : Lin Aung


BurmaNet: Advisory to Burma media outlets re forged news releases

May 30, 2001

[This advisory is intended primarily for BurmaNet subscribers who are 
members of the press and cover Burma for their publications.]

The BurmaNet News is among a group of Burma media outlets that has 
recently received forged news releases purporting to be from Arakanese 
or Rohingya political organizations.  It appears that a group of 
Arakanese students based in Bangkok who are opposed to an alliance 
between two groups operating in the Arakan State are forging news items 
and press releases in an effort to cause conflict. 

The forged news items and press statements are ostensibly from either 
the National Unity Party of Arakans (NUPA), the Arakan Rohingya National 
Organization (ARNO) or the Arakan Army.  The organizations are all real 
but some of the material circulating in their name is not.  Some of the 
forgeries are fairly good, even down to obtaining organizational 
letterhead and distributing scanned copies.  Media organizations 
receiving press statements from these groups should be especially 
vigilant to ensure that the statement is not a forgery.

By way of background, NUPA, an ethnic Arakanese (Rakhaing) organization 
has entered into an alliance with ARNO, an ethnic Rohingya organization 
to oppose the military regime in Burma.  The Arakanese are, in general, 
Buddhist and the Rohingya Muslim.  The Rohingya are the object of 
considerable discrimination by the military regime but also by some 
Arakanese and Burmans who are opposed to the regime.  The forged 
postings appear to be the work of a small group of Arakanese who are 
opposed to the regime but are also xenophobically anti-Rohingya.


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