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BurmaNet News: June 5, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 5, 2001 Issue # 1818
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*BBC: UN envoy 'fails' in Burma
*Burma Courier: Controversial Mon State Dam Finally Commissioned
*AP: New history textbook tells Myanmar kids that Thais are lazy
*AFP: Japanese man caught smuggling rare turtles from Myanmar
*Xinhua: Myanmar Makes Efforts in Environment Protection By Duan
*Xinhua: Myanmar to Export Opium-Substitute Crop to Japan
*Xinhua: Tourist Arrivals in Myanmar Decline in January, February
*FEER: Thai Queen Backs Tough General
*Mizzima: Burma frontiers' Alliance says it has no agenda of
*New York Times: Myanmar Tests Resolve of I.L.O. on Enforcing Standards
*AFP: Myanmar dissidents demand 'failed' talks be exposed to scrutiny
*Reuters: Exiles call for pressure on Myanmar over talks
*Malaysia (AP): U.N. envoy: military, opposition in Myanmar have been
*AFP: Malaysian group condemns anti-Muslim attacks in Myanmar
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Those who daren't show their face - 17
*Altsean: Poster and Booklet available for Women of Burma Day
2001--"What Women of Burma Want!"
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
BBC: UN envoy 'fails' in Burma
Monday 4th July (20:10)
Cue: The UN special envoy for Burma, Razali Ismail doesn't seem to have
been able to resuscitate the talks between Burma's military leaders and
the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In a short statement issued in
New York on Monday, the UN Secretary General simply said he hoped Mr
Razali's trip to Rangoon would help contribute to progress in the talks.
Diplomats in Rangoon had hoped Mr Razali's trip would bring new momentum
to the dialogue process which he helped foster late last year. Larry
The UN Secretary General's statement on Mr Razali's visit seems to imply
that the UN has again failed in its efforts to bring democratic change
to Burma -- something the UN has been trying to encourage for more than
ten years. During Mr Razali's visit to Burma, Kofi Annan said, he had
had important discussions with both the country's military leaders and
Aung San Suu Kyi. But all the UN could say about the outcome of his
trip, was that they hoped that Mr Razali's visit would help the dialogue
process progress further. For sometime now many analysts believe the
talks between the two sides had stalled. Mr Razali's visit seems to have
had little impact on the talks. Diplomats in Rangoon say Mr Razali was
very down beat when he left Rangoon on Monday. The special envoy himself
is refusing to comment on the talks publicly. UN sources say this
doesn't mean the talks have broken down altogether, but that the whole
process of nation reconciliation in Burma was going to take some time.
Sources close to the UN envoy told the BBC that the main problem was
that many of Burma's Generals still feared that democratic change would
lead to the break-up of the country. But many analysts also believe that
Burma's leaders have little option but to involve Aung San Suu Kyi and
the National League for Democracy in determining the country's future,
or face economic ruin. While the secret talks between the military and
Aung San Suu Kyi remain fairly precarious, the international community
will be looking for some major concessions - like the release of
political prisoners or even the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house
arrest - if they are to believe that they are anything more than the
miltary junta trying to deflect international criticism.
AP: U.N. envoy: military, opposition in Myanmar have been talking
KUALA LUMPUR- 5 June 2001
The U.N. envoy credited with brokering discussions between Myanmar's
military rulers and its pro-democracy leaders said Tuesday they have
been in talks, and was cautiously optimistic they could reach an
But Razali Ismail, a Malaysian diplomat who just returned from a visit
to Myanmar where he met members of the ruling junta and pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, would not give any details of the talks or say
when they occurred.
``I can confirm that they have been talking,'' Razali told The
Asked if he was confident the two sides could reach agreement, Razali
said: ``I remain realistic enough that it can be done, it must be
He declined to enter into ``any qualitative discussion'' about his most
recent visit to Myanmar, but said that it was ``it was important for me
to be there.''
``I think the U.N.'s role is further underlined by my visit,'' he said.
Western nations and Myanmar's opposition hope that the talks could lead
democracy in Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962.
The current group of generals took power after crushing a pro-democracy
movement in 1988, killing thousands of people.
The junta called national elections in 1990 but refused to honor the
results when the Suu Kyi's party won overwhelmingly. Since then, the
junta has harassed and arrested scores of opposition members and
thwarted political activity.
Suu Kyi has been living under virtual house arrest since September.
Razali is credited with achieving the first breakthrough in the
deadlock by initiating reconciliation talks between Suu Kyi and the
junta leaders in October, conducted in secrecy in the Nobel Peace
laureate's lakeside villa.
Belying initial hopes of progress, however, some diplomats and
pro-democracy groups have expressed concern that the talks have stalled.
``The current talks are not open,'' the All Burma Students' Democratic
Front said in a statement issued in Bangkok Tuesday. ``People are
frustrated waiting for information while human rights abuses and forced
labor are still occurring inside the country.
``We ask (both sides) to open up the talks so the people of Burma and
the world can see if there is progress,'' spokesman Sonny Mahinder said.
Earlier Tuesday, a U.S. State Department official said in Kuala Lumpur
that U.N. efforts to foster talks between the two sides in Myanmar began
promisingly, but that after six months there is little to show for it.
President George W. Bush's administration strongly supports efforts to
bring about democracy in Myanmar and was encouraged by the release of a
small number of prisoners in March and the visit in April by a U.N.
human rights investigator, said Ralph Boyce, the deputy assistant
secretary at the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific
``However, it has now been over six months since the political dialogue
began and there have been few signs of significant progress,'' Boyce
said at an Asia-Pacific Roundtable conference.
``We hope that the regime in Yangon understands the urgent need for
positive political developments.''
2001-06-05 Tue 07:47
Burma Courier: Controversial Mon State Dam Finally Commissioned
Based on news from NLM and Independent Mon News Agency: Updated to May
A controversy-plagued dam, whose inauguration was twice postponed for
security reasons, was finally commissioned into operation in southern
Mudon township last Saturday by the military council's Gen Khin Nyunt.
An earlier opening scheduled for March 14 had to be postponed, a Mon
news agency reported this week, after a guerrilla force of the Karen
National Liberation Army staged a lightning raid against the facility on
the night of Mar 5-6. During the attack several Burma army soldiers
assigned to guard the construction area, including an officer, were
killed and equipment and fuel oil at the construction site were
In an interview at the time, Padoh Mahn Sha of the Karen National Union
claimed that nine hundred labourers in a nearby construction camp, who
had been forced to work on the facility, had been released during the
operation and that the engineer in charge of the project, U Tin Lwin,
had been captured and was being held for exchange purposes.
Last year, the Mon Human Rights Committee reported that 2,000 acres of
land used for rubber tree plantations by farmers from three nearby
villages had been confiscated without compensation during preparations
for the construction. Farmers who lost their income had been forced to
migrate to Thailand, the MHRC said.
The opening ceremony on May 26 was marked by the first public appearance
of the new commander of the Southeast Military Command, Brig-Gen Myint
Swe. It only occurred after a second postponement from May 15 for
"security reasons" , the IMNA reported. The Mon news agency said that
villagers who were unable to attend the grand opening had been fined
from 100-500 kyats for missing the occasion. The IMNA cited the example
of the headman from Kao Payan who had been forced to sign a contract
guaranteeing the attendance of three hundred persons from his village.
In his speech at the inauguration ceremony, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt told the
crowd of 16,000 that Senior General Than Shwe had given guidance to the
nation that arrangements were to be made for "value-added water and
land". He said that in building dams such as Winphanon the government
was aiming "to benefit the local people without taking economic profits
into account" and reminded them that the value of land in the area of
the dam was already rising. The general also warned the people to
"safeguard" the new structure.
Water from reservoir behind the 178 foot-high earthen dam will be used
irrigate 13,000 acres of farm land.
AP: New history textbook tells Myanmar kids that Thais are lazy
YANGON, Myanmar - 2001-06-05 Tue 06:31
Fourth graders in Myanmar will be required to study a new history
textbook on Myanmar-Thai relations, which portrays Thais as servile and
The new textbook will be mandatory reading in government schools for
9-year-olds who began the 2001-2002 academic year on Monday after a
three-month holiday. The textbook is a 12-page supplement to the regular
Its surprise addition to the curriculum is certain to infuriate
Thailand, which has been engaged in a war of words with Myanmar for
months. The Thai government did not immediately comment on the
Thai-Myanmar relations have plunged to their lowest level, principally
over Thailand's accusations that Myanmar's ruling junta aids drug
traffickers. Myanmar denies the charge and charges Thailand with
supporting anti-government rebels. Their arguments have sparked frequent
border skirmishes since January.
The book says Thailand has consistently launched anti-Myanmar campaigns
and those who grew up under such campaign had deep-rooted hatred for the
The book has five chapters, the last one titled ``Current Myanmar-Thai
relationship.'' Its three subchapters blame Thailand for the support to
anti-government dissidents, loss of Myanmar's natural resources and the
``Thai people are given to fun and appreciation of beauty. They are
disinclined to self-reliance and hard work,'' according to an excerpt
from the chapter, ``Traits and Characteristics of Thai People''.
``In order to keep their thrones, Thai kings often yield to the West
European nations,'' says the Myanmar-language books, in an apparent
reference to the fact that unlike other Southeast Asian countries
Thailand was never colonized by a Western power.
``During the first World War Thais sided with the Allies; during the
second World War Thais first sided with the Japanese and later with the
Allied forces. ... Foreign policy of Thailand is known 'to bend with the
wind,''' according to the text book.
The textbook also recalled history when successive Myanmar kings
attacked Thailand after alleged intrusions by Thai soldiers.
It concludes with the statement that ``the narcotic problem will exist
so long as Thailand continues to accept and support the insurgents,
because drug trafficking problems are connected with insurgents.''
Thailand says Myanmar's military junta does little to stop the
production of drugs in its border areas where an ethnic armed group, the
United Wa State Army, has virtual control. The drugs, largely
methamphetamines, land up in Thailand in huge quantities, and the
government has declared it public enemy no. 1.
The UWSA has been named by the U.S. State Department as the biggest
drug army in the world. Myanmar says it is trying to put an end to the
narcotics business but says the problem wouldn't be so rampant if
corrupt Thai officials were not involved as well.
2001-06-05 Tue 06:31
AFP: Japanese man caught smuggling rare turtles from Myanmar
YANGON, June 5
Myanmar authorities Tuesday said they had seized 84 endangered turtles
from a Japanese man who attempted to smuggle them out of the country
aboard a commercial flight.
Yoshiyuki Abiko was caught Sunday trying to board a Thai Airways flight
to Bangkok with suitcases containing the rare turtles, which were from a
species found only in Myanmar.
Customs officials handed the creatures over to the wildlife
conservation unit of the Forestry Department, the military government
said in an official information sheet.
A Japanese embassy official here said Abiko had been deported to Japan,
and that he had not been charged with any offence in Myanmar.
Xinhua: Myanmar Makes Efforts in Environment Protection By Duan
YANGON, June 5
Myanmar has been making efforts in protection and conservation of
environment by enacting seven environment-related laws over the past two
decades. These laws are known as the Territorial Sea and Maritime Zones
Law, Pesticide Law, Marine Fisheries Law, Fresh Water Fisheries Law,
Forest Law, Plant Pest Quarantine Law, and Wild Life and Wild Plants
Protection and Natural Areas Conservation Law. Of them, the Territorial
Sea and Maritime Zones Law was promulgated in 1977 to protect the marine
resources from extinction and over-exploitation. The Pesticide Law,
prescribed in 1990, was for prohibition against misuse or over-use of
pesticide which may cause impact to plants and living things. The 1992
Myanmar Forest Law governs systematic conservation of the state's forest
resources and extraction of forest products. The 1994 Wild Life and Wild
Plants Protection and Natural Areas Conservation Law deals particularly
with biological diversity, prohibiting illegal hunting, poaching and
trading of animals and their parts. In line with the Global Agenda 21
designed for effective environmental management, the country also
formulated Myanmar Agenda 21 in 1997 which is a program for sustainable
The Myanmar government is reportedly in the process of drafting two new
environmental laws -- the Environmental Protection law and the
Environmental Impact Assessment Rules -- to strengthen the related
management in the country. In addition, it formed the National
Commission for Environmental Affairs (NCEA) in 1990 and established the
Dry Zone Greening Department to endeavor for greening the arid central
Myanmar with greening projects in 13 districts being implemented.
Furthermore, Myanmar conducts nationwide tree-planting campaign,
participated by governmental and non-governmental organizations, local
communities, farmers and students, and more than 11 million seedlings
are planted all over the country every year. While expanding
agricultural lands to boost production or setting up new industries and
factories, the Myanmar government also takes special care to avoid
negative impact on the environment. Care is also exercised in granting
foreign investment projects to ensure that they meet strict
environmental standards or keep with the existing environmental rules
and regulations and environmental considerations. The country is also
participating actively in a number of regional programs and projects
designed to prevent environmental degradation. On the international
front, Myanmar has signed a number of international environmental
agreements and conventions such as the U.N. Framework Convention on
Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Vienna
Convention and the Montreal Protocol for Protection of the Ozone Layer
and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Flora and Fauna. Myanmar is still green with more than 50 percent of its
land covered with forest. The land area of reserved and protected forest
amounts to more than 104,000 square-kilometers. There are over 3,410
kinds of botanical plants in the country, of which trees take up 2,700
kinds, bamboo 96 kinds and cane 36 kinds. There are also more than 1,240
kinds of birds.
Xinhua: Myanmar to Export Opium-Substitute Crop to Japan
YANGON, June 5
Myanmar has reached a contract with Japan to export buckwheat, a kind
of opium-substitute crop, to Japan, according to Myanmar's Department of
Progress of Border Areas and National Races Tuesday. The contract to
export three containers of buckwheat to Japan was signed between the
Myanma Agricultural Produce Trading and the Japan International
Corporation Agency on Monday. Meanwhile, earlier in February, Myanmar
also reached a memorandum of understanding with Japan to purchase 20
tons of buckwheat seeds from Japan for cultivation of the crop in
northern Shan state of the country. In 1992, Myanmar and Japan agreed to
substitute opium poppy with buckwheat in Myanmar's poppy-growing
northern Shan state and it was realized in 1997 with trial cultivation
successfully conducted in the state's Tarshwetang area.
Cultivation of opium-substitute crops plays a key role in tackling the
food problem of these poppy-growing areas as well as in consolidating
Myanmar's achievements made in drug control. According to official
statistics, in 2000, the cultivated areas of poppy-substitute crops in
Kokang area of northern Shan state reached 17,520 hectares, of which
buckwheat took up 1,320 hectares, while sugar cane represented 16,200
hectares. The growing of the crops were greatly assisted by Japan and
Xinhua: Tourist Arrivals in Myanmar Decline in January, February
Rangoon, 5 June 2001
A total of 32,377 foreign tourists visited Myanmar in the first two
months of this year, dropping in number by 32.6 percent compared with
the corresponding period of 2000, the country's Economic Indicators said
in its latest issue.
The decline was obvious in the number of those travelling across border,
reaching only 4,692 during the two-month period and constituting a fall
of 77.8 percent in the cross-border arrivals from the same period of
2000 when it was 21,195.
The sharp reduction of cross-border tourists arrival was seen as being
due to the outbreak of border clashes in February between Myanmar and
Thailand which is one of Myanmar's two neighboring countries supplying
most of the tourists to the country.
While the number of foreign tourists arriving Myanmar by land was
experiencing a sharp drop in the two months, those coming in by air
increased by 2.8 percent, reaching 27,685 as compared with the same
period of 2000.
According to official statistics, in 2000, the number of tourist
arrivals was registered at only 234,900, falling by 9.3 percent from
1999. Of them, 49 percent entered the country by land through border
FEER: Thai Queen Backs Tough General
Issue of May 31, 2001
Thailand's Queen Sirikit has played an uncharacteristically strident
behind-the-scenes role in reinforcing controversial northern-based 3rd
Army Commander Lt.-Gen. Wattanachai Chaimuenwong's position. According
to a senior Thai official close to the palace, the queen intervened
earlier this year to ensure the general remained in his post despite a
reported plan by new Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to move him
in the April mid-year military reshuffle. Ex-Prime Minister Prem
Tinsulanonda, current head of the Privy Council, also used his influence
to keep Wattanachai in place. The crux of the issue was that Wattanachai
has taken a tough line toward Burmese troops and fighters from Rangoon's
ally, the drug-making Wa United State Army, when they cross the Thai
border to chase ethnic minority insurgents or protect drug routes.
Chavalit takes a softer line towards Burma and its military rulers, whom
he calls his friends. Queen Sirikit has rarely been known to act in such
a way, but analysts say the queen is noted for her deeply nationalistic
Mizzima: Burma frontiers' Alliance says it has no agenda of
New Delhi, June 2, 2001
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
A recently formed umbrella of five tribal militant organizations from
India and Burma today denied that it does not have any intra-ethnic
contradictions or confrontations in its political agenda. The Indigenous
People's Revolutionary Alliance (IPRA) said that its formation aims for
peace and cultural harmony of the indigenous people of the region.
"The IPRA is basically an alliance of the indigenous groups of people
inhabiting the Indo-Bangladesh-Burma frontiers with a common political
objective of a consummate revolution ? political and culturally and make
the people realize that they are one and the same", said a statement
faxed to Mizzima today.
The IPRA was formed on last May 27 with five Zo ethnic militant groups
based along the borders of India, Burma and Bangladesh. It consisted of
Zomi Reunification Organization (ZRO), Kuki National Front (P), Kuki
National Front (MC), Hmar People's Convention ? Democrats (HPC-D) and
Kuki National Army (KNA).
Quoting the police sources, a daily newspaper published in Manipur State
today mentioned that IPRA is formed basically to fight unitedly against
Naga and Meitei insurgent groups in Manipur.
"We strongly denied this baseless version of disinformation. It (the
report) is misleading. We formed the IPRA with the main objective of the
indigenous peoples to live together and not to disturb each other", said
Mr. Thanlianpau, chairman of the IPRA.
Mr. Thanlianpau was elected as a Member of Parliament in the 1990
elections in Burma and he is also president of Zomi Reunification
Organization (ZRO), which is based on India-Burma border.
"IPRA is for peace and cultural harmony of the indigenous people of the
region and a lasting peace in the region", he said. " The IPRA is
initiating tireless efforts to bring lasting peace and harmony among
New York Times: Myanmar Tests Resolve of I.L.O. on Enforcing Standards
GENEVA, June 4
By ELIZABETH OLSON
Nearly all governments agree smooth, seamless international trade is
good and mistreatment of workers is bad.
But as antiglobalization protests in Seattle and elsewhere have
illustrated, when free trade and labor standards intersect, the results
can be surprisingly troublesome.
Look no further than efforts by many governments to take Myanmar to task
for flouting international prohibitions against forced labor.
Last November, the International Labor Organization, a United Nations
affiliate based in Geneva with 175 member countries, called for stiff
measures against Myanmar, formerly called Burma, because of the military
government's practice of forcing villagers to do unpaid construction
Initially, the European Union, the United States and other countries
indicated that they would impose sanctions against Myanmar over the
issue. But a new report by the labor organization failed to identify a
single nation that had responded to its call with any concrete action.
The reason is that Myanmar belongs to the World Trade Organization, and
sanctions with some sting - like a ban on textile exports - would
violate W.T.O. rules.
If anything, the effort to isolate and punish Myanmar over its labor
practices is losing ground. Japan recently announced the largest aid
package since the military government suppressed prodemocracy
demonstrators more than a decade ago.
The United States State Department listed Myanmar as among the three
worst offenders in its annual report on human rights abuse, and trade
preferences for Myanmar were suspended years ago; Americans are also
banned from investing in Myanmar. But there is limited support in
Congress for additional sanctions - in part because the government of
Myanmar has reopened dialogue with the country's most prominent
dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi - and the United States remains Myanmar's
largest export market.
Indeed, Myanmar's trade with both the United States and the European
Union has soared recently. According to Eurostat, the union's
statistical agency, the volume of trade between the 15 countries in the
union and Myanmar shot up from 222.6 million euros ($188 million) in
December 1999 to 404.3 million ($342 million) in December 2000. The
Commerce Department reports a near- quadrupling of American imports from
Myanmar since 1997, reaching $412 million last year.
Oddly, that growth has occurred in part because of American diplomatic
cold-shouldering of Myanmar. No agreement has been negotiated on a
bilateral quota for apparel, like the ones the United States has with
most other developing countries. Manufacturers from China and elsewhere
have set up shop in Myanmar specifically to exploit the loophole.
The labor organization's fruitless effort to take a strong stand against
Myanmar has shed a harsh light on its lack of enforcement power. At the
March meeting of the organization's governing body, American officials
worried publicly about its ineffectiveness. "In the absence of
democratic reforms in Burma, the practical ability of an I.L.O. presence
there to assure that forced labor has been eliminated nationwide is
highly problematic," Charles Spring, a Labor Department official, told
Not that it has not kept trying: in late May, the organization said
Myanmar had agreed in principle to allow an I.L.O. team into the country
to conduct an independent investigation of its arguments that it is
moving against forced labor. Details have yet to be negotiated.
The Bush administration has said it opposes the direct linking of trade
issues and worker safeguards. In April, the White House said it would
review a free-trade pact that the Clinton administration concluded last
year with Jordan that included labor-standards provisions, the first
such pact to do so.
Many developing nations prefer to leave the issue of labor standards to
the labor organization, while trade unions and workers' rights activists
want the World Trade Organization to have jurisdiction because the trade
group's dispute-settlement system has the power to authorize trade
Some on Capitol Hill would like to force the issue by enacting a ban on
textile imports from Myanmar, which would probably provoke a complaint
to the World Trade Organization. In late May, Senator Tom Harkin,
Democrat of Iowa, introduced such a bill in the Senate.
William Goold, an aide to Senator Harkin, said leaving the matter solely
to the labor organization was "asking governments to ignore the clear
limitations of the I.L.O."
The labor organization is scheduled to discuss Myanmar again at its
annual meeting on Tuesday. Meanwhile, human rights groups and trade
unions say nothing has changed in Myanmar, despite a decree against
forced labor last October that they called a sham.
"Clearly there is a reluctance by the international community to take
concrete steps," said Janek Kuczkiewicz, Asian specialist for the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
Reuters: Exiles call for pressure on Myanmar over talks
BANGKOK, June 5
A leading Myanmar dissident group called on Tuesday for international
pressure on Yangon's military government to help speed up landmark talks
between the military and opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi. In a sign
of growing anxiety among pro-democracy supporters inside and outside
Myanmar, the exiled All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) said
progress in the eight-month dialogue between the two sides had been
``The current talks are not open. People are frustrated waiting for
information while human rights abuses and forced labour are still
occuring inside the country,'' the ABSDF said in a statement.
``That is why the ABSDF strongly urges international governments and
organisations to keep pressure on the (military government),'' it quoted
ABSDF chairman Than Khe as saying.
The ABSDF represents hundreds of pro-democracy exiles living along the
Thai-Myanmar border and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, many of whom fled
Myanmar after the military crushed a student-led democracy uprising in
The group usually reflects the views of Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy (NLD), which won Myanmar's last democratic election in 1990
but has never been allowed to govern.
Suu Kyi, under de facto house arrest in Yangon, has been holding
secretive talks with Myanmar's ruling generals since October last year,
raising hopes that the political stalemate that has gripped Myanmar for
more than a decade could finally be broken.
NO SIGN OF PROGRESS
But so far there have been no concrete signs of progress and concern
has been growing that the talks are deadlocked.
Diplomats in Yangon say they believe the dialogue has stalled in recent
months, amid talk of a heightened power struggle between senior members
of the government.
Until recently both the government and NLD have stuck to an agreement
not to criticise each other in public to allow the talks the best chance
But in recent weeks this deal appears to have been broken.
NLD sources have begun to call for evidence that the talks are making
progress and diplomats have warned the pro-democracy movement could
break apart unless progress is made soon.
The exiles' statement came one day after U.N. special envoy to Myanmar
Razali Ismail told diplomats he was confident Myanmar would make a
transition from military rule in coming years.
The veteran Malaysian diplomat, who is credited with helping to broker
the start of dialogue between the government and Nobel Peace Prize
winner, on Monday ended a four-day visit to Myanmar.
One diplomat who declined to be identified told Reuters on Monday that
Razali thought Myanmar would move to civilian rule in ``two to four
The military says it is committed to building a democracy in Myanmar.
However, it says the country could disintegrate if the process moves too
But the ABSDF urged both sides to ``open up'' the talks so the Myanmar
people and the world ``can see if there is progress.''
2001-06-05 Tue 10:38
AFP: Myanmar dissidents demand 'failed' talks be exposed to scrutiny
BANGKOK, June 5
Secret talks between democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's
military regime have failed to make any head way and should now be
opened to public scrutiny, a Myanmar dissident group Tuesday.
"The progress over the last eight months of dialogue has been virtually
non-existent," the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) said in a
The Thailand-based activist group called on the opposition National
League for Democracy (NLD) and the ruling State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC) to reveal details of the contacts which began last
"We ask the NLD and SPDC to open up the talks so the people of Burma
and the world can see if there is progress" said spokesman Sonny
"The current talks are not open. People are frustrated waiting for
information while human rights abuses and forced labour are still
occurring inside the country."
The ABSDF accused the military regime of staging religious and racial
riots which have broken out in recent weeks to "distract people's
attention from current political and economic problems."
"The people of Burma should have access to information about the real
progress of the talks," it said, urging foreign governments and rights
organisations to maintain pressure on the SPDC.
UN envoy Razali Ismail ended a four-day mission to Myanmar on Monday
where he met with Aung San Suu Kyi and top junta leaders in a bid to
revive the reconciliation talks they embarked on last year.
The dialogue, the first between the two warring sides since 1994,
initially raised hopes that 40 years of military rule might finally be
coming to an end in Myanmar.
But in the last few months the contacts appear to have hit a road
block, as elements within the junta baulked at the prospect of
introducing democratic reforms.
The government's decision to allow Razali to visit last week, after a
worryingly long absence of five months, was hailed as a sign that the
reconciliation process was back on track.
But eyebrows were raised again Monday when the Malaysian diplomat left
Yangon without any of the prizes he was expected to be handed --
including the release of a batch of political prisoners and permission
to release a statement on the direction and intent of the talks.
Instead, UN chief Kofi Annan later made a vaguely-worded statement
which said only that the visit by his special envoy had been "timely"
and that he hoped it would help reconcile the military rulers and
Dissident groups and the nation's many ethnic minorities, whose support
will be crucial in any transition to democracy, have made increasingly
loud calls for light to be shed on the secret dialogue.
"It's difficult for everyone else to have the patience and forbearance
to deal with this situation when we don't have a great deal of
information to go on," said one diplomat in Yangon after Razali's
"The mood here is one that we have to be very patient and we have a
long way to go," he added.
AFP: Malaysian group condemns anti-Muslim attacks in Myanmar
KUALA LUMPUR, June 5
A Malaysian Islamic group Tuesday condemned anti-Muslim attacks in
Myanmar last month, and called for an independent investigation into
Myanmar's military government last month declared a curfew in the
central town of Taungoo after clashes broke out between Muslims and
Buddhists on May 15. The cause was not known.
The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, which has 60,000 members, said
there were unconfirmed reports that at least 10 Muslims had been killed
and several others injured in last month's clashes.
"We strongly urge the Myanmar junta to immediately intervene in the
riot and further safeguard lives and property of Muslims and mosques in
Myanmar from the anti-Muslim elements," it said in a statement.
The group also appealed to the United Nations and the Organisation of
Islamic Conference to press Myanmar to allow an independent
It called on the junta to rebuild mosques destroyed in the clashes.
The riots were the second involving Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar in
three months. In February the junta declared a curfew in the western
city of Sittwe after riots broke out between the two communities there.
The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia accused Myanmar's military
intelligence service of instigating the February clashes in which it
said many Muslims were killed.
Buddhists make up some 89 percent of the population in Myanmar, with
Muslims and Christians each representing four percent.
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Those who daren't show their face - 17
Sunday, 3 June, 2001
By Pauk Sa
Wa ethnic people held a News Briefing in Mongyun on 12 May 2001. Forty
observers 24 representatives of the signatory countries to Memorandum of
Understanding on Drug Control in East Asia and the Pacific Sub-region,
which are Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, Vietnam and
Thailand, and UNDP and 16 local and foreign journalists were present.
The foreign journalist were from AP, Reuters, AFP and DPA, who were in
I could not stay silent after the News Briefing anymore as there
appeared slanders. So, it has become a duty for me to say about the News
Briefing. DVB announced a news report under the heading " DVB interviews
AFP correspondent who visited Mongyu" at 6 pm on 16 May 2001. In the
news report, DVB made slanderous accusations on the Wa ethnic people.
What the AFP correspondent said in the interview was that he didn't find
any trace of drugs; that according to some Wa soldiers he had talked
with, few people could be involved in the drug business; that it was
clear that if not all the people of Mongyun were involved in the drug
business, the majority would be engaged in it; and that in accord with
the Thai intelligence reports and international assessment, the region
was thought to have involved in the drug business.
What happened? Despite the fact that he had attended the News Briefing
and seen and heard about the fabrications made by Thai intelligence with
poor quality photographs, he was talking lies as if he was not present
at the News Briefing. Such lies should not come from a real
correspondent's mouth. I would like to suggest him to examine himself to
know his status as he had told such lies.
It is not proper to make clear things confused. As there was not a
single trace of drugs, even a child can know that the Wa people have no
connection with the drugs. In this situation, he made a brazen lie,
saying that according to his conversation with some Wa soldiers, few
persons could be involved in the drug business. He was so foolhardy. It
is clear that no Wa soldier would say such a thing. It is just a
fabrication uttered from the correspondent's mouth.
Because the correspondent never raised any questions concerning the
matter to Wa national leaders at the News Briefing, and instead, talked
about it only in the interview. Thus, it is nothing, but an unacceptable
lie. If he is a sincere correspondent, he should have asked the
personnel concerned at the News Briefing or during the tour the matters
he found confusing. As he said random words in the interview, saying
that the information was based on this or that sources, I dare say that
he should be an agent under the guise of a journalist.
At the News Briefing, the liaison officer of Wa national people said
that concerning the Thai media's accusations on the Mongyun's production
and distribution of drugs, members of the team were allowed to visit any
place freely and without restrictions to find out whether the region was
producing or distributing drugs or not. This was stated in the dailies.
Moreover, a friend of mine, a journalist who accompanied the team during
the tour, had already told me about the frankness and sincerity of the
Wa liaison officer in meeting the representatives and the journalists.
My friend told me, that the Wa liaison officer had invited the local and
foreign correspondents to visit Mongyun at any time and at will. But he
said, Mongyun would never accept any Thai correspondents as they were
creating fabrications to insult the Wa people. He added that when Wa
people crossed the border to the other side, the Thai army made a
thorough search on their body and all their possession; that sometimes
Thai soldiers planted stimulant pills in the pockets or bags of Wa
travellers in order to arrest them; that as Wa people had already faced
such experiences, they wore clothing without pocket and never took any
bags in crossing the border to avoid the Thai trap; that it can be seen
that there were racial oppressions on the Wa people; that Wa ethnic
people loved peace and that they liked to earn their living with peace
of mind; that they would never yield to unjust racial oppressions; that
Wa people had fought battles since childhood; and that they were ready
to daringly resist any form of unjust oppressions.
These were the words said by the Wa liaison officer at the News Briefing
in a frank and sincere way. Moreover, members of the team liked his bold
way of explaining to them about the salient points of the region.
When the team visited a rice mill, he said " It is the rice mill that is
accused by Commander Lt-Gen Watanachai of No 3 Army of Thailand as a
stimulant producing factory " and conducted the team members around the
facility. When they arrived at another place, he said " This is the
shopping mall accused by Thai intelligence as a casino with false
photographs" and shown them around it. During the visit to the
Hydroelectric Power Plant, he said " This is the facility accused by the
Thai correspondents as a drug refinery."
In this way, members of the team were able to witness the poultry and
cattle farms, the rice mills, the rice warehouses and the shopping mall
. The Thai army showed the satellite photos and made wicked lies, saying
that these facilities were drug refineries.
A handful of lackeys who are trying to intrude on Myanmar territory and
interfere in Myanmar's affairs with words such as " international
assessment and attitude " are launching fabrications, saying that modern
farming businesses the Wa people are conducting to earn a peaceful and
honest living and for regional progress as drug refineries. Such
perpetrations will bring no good results to drug elimination tasks, but
will only destroy the friendship between Myanmar and Thailand. The
government is undertaking border areas development tasks with the basic
aims of further consolidating the national unity, developing the economy
of the national people and uplifting their living standards. So also,
the national people are taking part in the government's endeavours with
full confidence in the basic aims. I would like to make a warning that
all the Myanmar national people are ready to decisively crush every
aggression committed under the pretext of drugs.
At the News Briefing, the Wa people explained the objective conditions
of the business enterprises, proving that they had not any connections
with the drug business. What the Wa people also said," We do not believe
any Thai journalists " is so shameful for any of the journalists
concerned if they have the sense to understand the words. Presenting the
internationsl observers at the News Briefing as the witness, I would
like to say that I pity RFA, DVB and AFP who are trying to discredit the
News Briefing. The News Briefing has proved the Myanmar people's
including Wa ethnic people's efforts to combat narcotics with clear
evidence. Thus, if some persons of the Thai army and the so-called
journalists who are carrying out drug elimination in words, but linking
themselves with opium insurgents to earn money, and the so-called AFP
correspondent and the radio stations such as RFA and DVB have a sense of
shame, they will not dare to show their face.
Author : Pauk Sa
Altsean: Poster and Booklet available for Women of Burma Day 2001--"What
Women of Burma Want!"
To celebrate Women of Burma Day on June 19, Altsean-Burma is producing a
colour English-language poster titled "What Women of Burma Want!" and a
36-page report card on the situation of women of Burma. Groups and
individuals may wish to display and distribute them at events being held
to honour the women of Burma.
We will be happy to courier sets of 30 posters and 30 booklets for the
delivery cost. The costs are US30 to destinations in Southeast Asia,
US40 for other parts of Asia, and US50 for North America, Europe and
elsewhere. Materials will be available on June 8 and delivery will take
about 7 days. Groups are encouraged to recoup the delivery costs by
selling the items at an appropriate price.
To lodge your order, please email us immediately with:
Contact tel or fax
Confirmation of the numbers of booklets and posters you need.
Brief details of the event/s you are planning for Women of Burma Day.
June 19 marks the birthday of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Laureate
and Burma's most famous woman. In 1997, Altsean-Burma appropriated Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday as a platform to honour ALL the women of
Burma who have been struggling against the military regime for peace,
human rights and democracy. All over the world, groups had already been
celebrating Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday - it seemed fitting that
this day be broadened to also honour all the other women of Burma -
women from different ethnic nationalities, religions, communities and
Women of Burma Day activities have ranged from parliamentary talks to
public gatherings, or protests at Burmese embassies or public spaces.
Many women have also hosted small tea parties at home with friends. You
can even hold a solo celebration - wear a flower in your hair and
explain to your friends and colleagues that it is Women of Burma Day.
For the Women of Burma who continue to struggle despite all odds, with
grace, perseverance and a sense of humour.
A L T S E A N - B U R M A
Alternative Asean Network on Burma
P O BOX 296, Lardprao
Bangkok 10310 THAILAND
Tel: 66 1 850 9008 * Fax: 66 2 939 0286
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