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Burma Related News - Dec 06, 2002.



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BURMA RELATED NEWS - December  06, 2002.
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HEADLINES
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AFP - Myanmar former dictator Ne Win goes unmourned, unremar
AFP - US marks Ne Win death with critique on Myanmar leadership
AP - Former dictator Ne Win's remains scattered in river
AP - Myanmar regime quiet about death of former dictator Ne Win
FT - Burma's iron ruler leaves tough legacy
PD - Chinese Military Leader Meets Myanmar Guests
Bkk Post - Extradition of suspects put in doubt
Bkk Post - Singer arrested on stage
The Nation - EDITORIAL: The end of an era for Burma
The Nation - BORDER SECURITY: Governors set to 'take charge'
ST - Ne Win's death resolves dilemma of Myanmar junta
Asian Tribune - General Ne Win was given a pariah cremation in Burma.
Asian Tribune - Release all 1,400 political prisoners: Demands Burmese National Coalition Government.
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Friday December 6, 4:38 PM
Myanmar former dictator Ne Win goes unmourned, unremarked

YANGON, Dec 6 (AFP) - Former dictator Ne Win was unmourned in Myanmar a day after his death and hasty cremation ended the era of a reclusive general who drove his country into poverty and disrepute over a 26-year reign.

State television ignored his passing, and the Burmese-language official press printed only a simple obituary on an inside page.

There was also little talk on the streets about the man who was disgraced and put under house arrest in March when his son-in-law and three grandsons were arrested for plotting to overthrow the current military regime.

"It's really a non-event compared to what it would have been a year ago. They pre-empted this day with their actions last spring with the arrests," said one Yangon-based diplomat.

"His death has so far gone unremarked, the broadcast media are not saying anything about it and the level of street gossip was pretty low too."

It was a humiliating end for a man who enjoyed absolute rule over his country until 1988, presiding over an era of decline that turned a promising and resource-rich nation into the basket case of Southeast Asia.

"It was a very sad ending for Ne Win who was well respected in his day and ended as a pariah," said Aung Zaw, editor of the Thailand-based Burmese journal Irrawaddy.

"The generals turned against their former boss, the one who fed them and brought them up. And finally they even put him under house arrest -- this was very bitter for him."

Ne Win's funeral was held at an ordinary cemetary outside Yangon just hours after his death at the age of 92, attended by a few dozen family members and with none of the pageantry that he was entitled to as a former head of state.

"He knew he was dying in disgrace, he couldn't meet his grandsons who he really loved because they were in prison. I don't think he wanted to live long," said Aung Zaw.

Attention now turns to the fate of a shaky political reconciliation process between Myanmar's junta and pro-democracy opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi which was brokered by the United Nations two years ago.

Some analysts believe the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) will now be free to act without having to bow to anti-reform elements in the military who owed allegiance to Ne Win.

"It's very difficult to get a perspective of what's happening inside the regime and the extent to which supporters Ne Win had might still have a significant bearing on the way events will unfold," said one diplomat.

But he said it was "quite conceivable" that army factions who owed allegiance to Ne Win could be holding back the pace of reform.

Pro-democracy politician Win Naing said that although Ne Win had been out of power for nearly 15 years, some believed the spectre of his influence could still have cast a shadow over the current rulers.

"Personally I think things will be the same as in the past five years as Ne Win had totally lost control over the leading generals. Policy and strategies are set by a new generation of generals, and I don't expect any changes."

There were also questions over the fate of the four Ne Win relatives who are awaiting the results of an appeal against their death sentences, and the future of his favoured daughter Sandar Win who was also put under house arrest.

"Nobody knows what they will do with her. People said she might be arrested and put to trial -- I don't think she could stay for years under house arrest," said Win Naing.

The politician said that citizens in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar had a tradition of feeling pity for those who die in spite of what they have done during their life.

"But there are many people who could not forgive him for the things he has done to some of them and to the country in general," he said.

Although biographers disagree over Ne Win's date of birth, his family said in their obituary printed Friday that he died at the age of 92.
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Thursday December 5, 16:27 PM
US marks Ne Win death with critique on Myanmar leadership

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (AFP) - The United States marked the death of disgraced Myanmar dictator Ne Win Thursday by criticising his "poor" leadership, and bemoaning the failure of his successors to improve the lives of their people.

Ne Win, whose rule left his country bankrupt and an international pariah, died under house arrest in Yangon in his early nineties, family sources said.

"Ne Win's poor record of leadership during his 1962-1988 rule of Burma speaks for itself," said a State Department official on condition of anonymity.

"Unfortunately his successors have thus far failed to move the country forwards. We continue to hope for a better future for the Burmese people."

The United States is a frequent critic of Myanmar, and accuses its military rulers of gross human rights violations and suppressing the pro-democracy party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ne Win, who had been in fragile health for many years, died in disgrace after the arrests in March of his son-in-law and three grandsons who were accused of plotting a coup against the ruling junta.

He was cremated just hours after his death, in a simple ceremony attended by his wife Ny Ny Myint and daughter Sandar Win, reputedly the brains behind the family business empire who was put under house arrest along with her father.

Observers of Myanmar say Ne Win's death marks the passing of an era but will have few ramifications as he was effectively finished as a political force.
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Former dictator Ne Win's remains scattered in river
Myanmar government ignores his death
ASSOCIATED PRESS

YANGON, Myanmar, Dec. 6  The remains of former dictator Gen. Ne Win, who died in disgrace under house arrest, were scattered Friday by his daughter in the Yangon River in accordance with Buddhist rites.

Myanmar's state media blacked out news of Ne Win's passing away, making it clear that he was as much a political pariah in death as in the last year of his life.  

Ne Win, 91, had been under house arrest since the March 7 arrest of his eldest daughter Sandar Win's husband and three sons for allegedly plotting a coup against the military government. They were sentenced to death in September and have appealed.

Ne Win, once thought to wield great influence on the government until his kin's arrest, died on Thursday morning at his lakeside villa with only Sandar Win by his side.

He was cremated Thursday afternoon in a private ceremony, denied the military honors befitting a general. Only about 25 relatives and friends ? but no government representatives ? attended.

Sandar Win, who also was under house arrest with her father, took Ne Win's ashes on Friday morning to be scattered in the Yangon River.

Among those who attended the ceremony were a few relatives and retired Brig. Aung Gyi, the No. 2 to Ne Win when he took power in 1962. Ne Win ruled until 1988 with a brand of dictatorial socialism that turned Myanmar from a prosperous country into one of Asia's poorest, and an international outcast.

Aung Gyi spoke fondly of Ne Win's achievements in helping bring independence to Myanmar, then known as Burma, in 1948. But he acknowledged that Ne Win's subsequent transformation into a dictator ruined the country.

''Ne Win betrayed Burma and Ne Win betrayed the country. He committed rape of democracy in Burma by staging a coup. He died an inglorious death. It was a sad and tragic ending,'' Aung Gyi, 84, told The Associated Press.

Aung Gyi, now a staunch democrat, said future generations should learn from Ne Win's mistakes. ''It was not a happy ending because of all the bad things he had done,'' he said.

Ne Win's grandsons and son-in-law were not allowed to attend the cremation or the ash immersion ceremony.

A brief obituary submitted by Ne Win's family was published in two Myanmar-language newspapers, though it made no mention of the flamboyant leader's 26-year rule. The obituary also did not mention his army title.

Radio, television and newspapers, which are controlled by the government, carried no official announcements of Ne Win's death.

Newspapers instead published news of a visit to construction sites in northwestern Myanmar by junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe and his deputy, Gen. Khin Nyunt, both of whom were groomed by Ne Win in the late 80s.

The Than Shwe-led junta took over soon after Ne Win resigned in 1988, and unleashed a bloody crackdown on a burgeoning pro-democracy movement that brought Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to prominence.

The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won. The two sides have been holding reconciliation talks since October 2001 but no tangible results have emerged.

''I don't think U Ne Win's death could affect the current political situation as U Ne Win stayed aloof from politics,'' said U Lwin, a finance minister during Ne Win's socialist rule. U Lwin is now allied with Suu Kyi.
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Myanmar regime quiet about death of former dictator Ne Win
Fri Dec 6,12:10 AM ET
By AYE AYE WIN, Associated Press Writer

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Myanmar's state media on Friday blacked out news of former dictator Gen. Ne Win's passing away, making it clear that he was as much a political pariah in death as in the last year of his life.

However, a brief obituary submitted by Ne Win's family was published in two Myanmar-language newspapers, though it made no mention of the flamboyant leader's 1962-88 rule that drove the country to economic ruin. The obituary also did not mention his army title.

Ne Win died early Thursday at the age of 91 at his lakeside compound, where he had been under house arrest with his daughter Sandar Win since the March 7 arrest of her husband and three sons for attempting to overthrow the military government.

Radio, television and newspapers, which are controlled by the government, carried no official announcements of the death of Ne Win, a one-time independence hero who ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, with an iron fist.

Official newspapers instead published news of a visit to construction sites in northwestern Myanmar by junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe and his deputy, Gen. Khin Nyunt, both of whom were groomed by Ne Win in the late 80s.

Ne Win "passed away at his residence at 7:30 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Thursday and was cremated at 1330 hours (0700 GMT) in accordance with the wish of the deceased," said the obituary published in the Myanma Ahlin and Kyemon newspapers.

The obituary also thanked those who took care of Ne Win during his final days.

The late dictator had instructed his family to cremate him the day he died and not to hold elaborate funeral rites, according to family members.

About 25 relatives and friends attended the cremation that was conducted without fanfare at a civilian crematorium without the military honors befitting a general. No government representative attended the cremation except military intelligence officials who had escorted Sandar Win.

Ne Win's grandsons and son-in-law were not allowed to attend the cremation. Sandar Win's stepsister and step brother were present. Her sister and brother are abroad.

"The funeral was held according to the wish of the deceased," a family friend who attended the funeral told The Associated Press.

When Ne Win took power in 1962, Myanmar was well on the way to recovering from the ravages of World War II, exporting 2 million tons of rice per year. But by 1987, Myanmar was reduced to the status of a least developed nation.

Ne Win stepped down in 1988, just before the start of a pro-democracy uprising that propelled opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prominence. The uprising was brutally crushed by the new crop of generals ? protegees of Ne Win ? who succeeded him. The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's party won.

The junta has been holding reconciliation talks with Suu Kyi since October 2001 but no tangible results have been produced.

"I don't think U Ne Win's death could affect the current political situation as U Ne Win stayed aloof from politics," said U Lwin, a finance minister during Ne Win's socialist rule. U Lwin is now an associate of Suu Kyi.

Ne Win is survived by nine children from three marriages. He also had two more wives but had no children from them.

Ne Win was believed to wield enormous behind-the-scene influence on the junta in the 1990s but that began to wane, and he was officially discredited after the arrest of his grandsons and son-in-law this year.

The four men were sentenced to death for plotting the alleged coup that the government said was intended to reinstall Ne Win to power. They have appealed the verdict.
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The Financial Times
Burma's iron ruler leaves tough legacy
By Amy Kazmin and William Barnes
Published: December 5 2002 17:14 | Last Updated: December 5 2002 17:14

General Ne Win, who ruled Burma with an iron grip for 26 years, turning what some held to the jewel of south-east Asia into an impoverished, failed state, died on Thursday at his lakeside home in Rangoon at the age of 91.

His body was cremated within hours at a small ceremony in the Ye Way cemetery some 15 miles north of the capital. None of the military regime's leaders attended.

It was an appropriately low-key end for a publicity-shy former post-office clerk and student activist who, from a military coup in 1962 to his resignation in 1988, forced his country to look inwards, and it soon became apparent downwards.

His legacy is the military's deeply ingrained inability to stomach even the most modest displays of dissent, its mania to control all aspects of life even at the cost of general prosperity.

The half-Chinese Shu Maung chose the nomme de guerre Ne Win - "Brilliant Sun" - when he became one of the legendary "30 comrades" of former students who fought with the Japanese against colonial Britain, and formed what became modern Burma's military.

The independence hero Aung San is said to have warned his friends to be wary of the earthy Ne Win's bossy ways before he was assassinated six months prior to independence, leaving a political vacuum that his cunning, but much less charismatic, rival was ultimately to fill.

Post-independence Burma was predictably chaotic as unfinished historic business came crashing in after a hurried British departure: myriad ethnic rebels, a growing communist insurgency and ugly squabbles in Rangoon proved a wobbly platform for the country's brief experiment with democracy.

It was not to the taste of Ne Win and his fellow officers who overthrew the government in 1962 to introduce what was touted as a subtle blend of socialism and Buddhism. In reality the military simply appropriated the economic high ground that was deemed to be in the hands of foreigners - forcing several hundred thousand ethnic Indians and Chinese to leave the country - and stifled any display of opposition or independent thought.

Perhaps by Ne Win's modest ambitions for his country he was a success: it remained independent, non-communist and escaped terrible war. The price has been high.

David Steinberg, director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University and veteran Burma analyst, said Ne Win "is responsible for much of the disaster economically and politically that has affected the country".

He inflicted on his country an austerity that he did not impose on himself: he liked good food, gambling and women. He married five of his conquests.

A mediocre student, he is rumoured to have been kicked out of Rangoon University for bringing back a prostitute. One of the military's first acts after the coup was to massacre protesting students and to blow up the students' union building, the centre of student activism since colonial times.

When he was persuaded to hold his one and only press conference the waiting journalists could hear the great man berate his underlings as he approached the venue: "Damn fools. Mother f*****s. Why do want to hold a press conference? What do you want me to say?" He did in fact say nothing.

His suspicion of outsiders, especially foreigners, pushed the country into sharp isolation: English teaching was drastically curtailed, for years only 24-hour visas were issued to foreigners, the country even withdrew from the non-aligned movement in 1979.

Even after retirement many Burmese remained convinced that "the old man" remained the real power who ensured that the military refused to honour the civilian opposition's massive 1990 election victory under Aung San Suu Kyi, his old rival's daughter.

He may have had an eye on how history will judge him: when he retired from active politics he called for a referendum to see if people wanted a return to multi-party democracy. The idea was rejected by his colleagues, but was a notion seized on by student protestors. Or was it all part of a trick to provoke chaos and set the scene for a crackdown?

Speculation in the 1990s that the death of Ne Win could unlock the "unfinished business" that he had with Aung San (that was carried on in mutual dislike with Aung San Suu Kyi) has fizzled away, especially after the generals moved against his family earlier this year

It is a backhanded complement to Ne Win's teaching in iron control to say that his passing will not persuade the current regime to relax its grip. For a man who regularly purged his ranks he might even have admired the ruthless way the junta mourned his passing.
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People's Daily Online
Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, December 06, 2002
Chinese Military Leader Meets Myanmar Guests

China has kept developing friendly cooperative relations with Myanmar and its armed forces, said Cao Gangchuan, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China Thursday.

Cao made the remark in a meeting with Thura Shwe Mann, Chief ofStaff of Army of Myanmar, and his delegation.

As friendly neighbors, the two peoples have a long "paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship, Cao said, noting the two countries have supported and helped each other since the establishment of diplomatic relations more than 50 years ago.

Together with Myanmar, the Chinese people and armed forces are willing to implement the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and make constant efforts towards long-term stable relations, he said.

Cao spoke highly of Myanmar's adherence to the "one-China" policy, and briefed the guests on China's stance on international and domestic affairs.

Thura Shwe Mann hailed relations between the two countries and their armed forces, and extended congratulations on the success ofthe 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

The friendship between the two countries and two armed forces not only serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples, but is conducive to regional and world peace and stability, he said.

He expressed his confidence that through efforts from both sides, the existing friendly relations of cooperation will be further promoted.
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Bangkok Post - Friday 06 December 2002
Extradition of suspects put in doubt
Burma denies trio connected to KNU
Wassana Nanuam

The Burmese government looks set to go back on its promise to hand over two suspects in a June attack on a school bus in Ratchaburi that left three students dead.

The junta claimed it had discovered Bo Kroh and Ja-U were Burmese citizens, not members of the Karen National Union, as originally suspected, an army source said.

``It's unofficial, but we've heard Burma may not hand over the suspects,'' the source said. ``It claims the extradition cannot proceed because both suspects are Burmese, and we don't have an extradition agreement.''

However, the army insisted the pair did have connections with the Karen National Union.

``We also have evidence to suggest they may have dual nationality,'' the source said.

Burma previously vowed to deport the suspects for trial prior to an October visit by Gen Vichit Yathip, chairman of the army advisory board.
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Bangkok Post - Friday 06 December 2002
Singer arrested on stage
SSA troops perform, recruit at local fair
Cheewin Sattha

An investigation is underway into a concert held by anti-Rangoon Shan State Army troops for Shan New Year celebrations in Muang district on Dec 4-5.

Mae Hong Son governor Supoj Laowansiri has asked the provincial defence chief to look into claims that a band of SSA troops performed a concert along Khumlumprapas road, a walking street here.

A source said the governor refused to open the fair after hearing about the band and ordered an inquiry for fear of repercussions on Thai-Burmese relations.

Mae Hong Son police chief Pol Maj-Gen Thong-in Harnphachonsuek said a Shan man identified only as Mr Yi from Burma's Ban Mok Mai was arrested on illegal entry charges.

He was nabbed while singing on the stage, decorated with two large Shan national flags.

The suspect said he opened the concert to celebrate Shan's New Year on the orders of SSA military leader Col Yod Suek.

A border official said the band comprising SSA troops from Doi Tai Lang opposite Pang Ma Pha district gave the fair organiser 10,000 baht, and distributed leaflets asking Burmese Shan people to serve the SSA.
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The Nation
EDITORIAL: The end of an era for Burma
Published on Dec 6, 2002

The death of General Ne Win, Burma's former military dictator, is something of an anticlimax after he spent 26 years bringing the country - once Asia's rice bowl - to its knees and turning himself and the military junta into the most despised rulers in the world. To many, it would have been better for Burma had the general, who retired before the bloody riots in 1988 that left thousands dead but still pulled the strings of the junta almost to the very end, died 10 years ago. The country might have been a far better place today - at the very least it would not have lost several generations of students.

It's unlikely his death will change the balance of power in Rangoon but it could galvanise the ruling junta into speeding up reforms and expedite dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. Age is fast catching up with the ruling generals, especially those once part of the Ne Win clique, and as they too fade from the scene there could well be changes in store.

The once flamboyant and short-tempered general died yesterday under house arrest. In recent times he had faced the same fate as other dictators as his clout began to wane along with his health. His numerous trips abroad for expensive medical treatment began to leave a power vacuum that eventually resulted in an internal coup against him and his family. Upon his death, the "Old Man", as he was generally called in Burma, was a sorry and reclusive eccentric - totally discredited and under house arrest along with his relatives.

Ne Win's struggle alongside the famous "30 Comrades", led by Suu Kyi's father General Aung San, for independence from the British that they won in 1948, became sullied when he launched into an era of authoritarianism after a bloodless coup in 1962. Perhaps those who now have the power to change the course of Burma for the better will be able to think rationally and forget the idiosyncrasies that marked Ne Win's reign.

History will remember Ne Win for many things, including his deep belief in numerology that prompted him to issue 45 and 90 kyat bank notes because the numbers were divisible by his lucky number nine. It will remember his obstinacy and suspension of the constitution; reducing Burma to least-developed-nation status; allowing real power to rest with Lt-General Khin Nyunt, head of the military intelligence; hyper-inflation; reduced foreign investment; erratic power supplies; destruction of the tourism industry; collapsed property prices; and a worthless currency.

Then there was his nationalisation policy that dispossessed Indians who owned 62 per cent of the land in Burma. About 150,000 of them fled the country.

But most of all he will be remembered for the shocking record of human-rights abuses and attempted genocide of ethnic minorities.

Ne Win stepped down as president in 1981 and was replaced by U San Yu, but remained leader of the ruling party. A wave of student demonstrations broke out in Rangoon in 1987, followed by workers' riots in the spring of 1988. Hundreds died, and in mid-1988, San Yu, Ne Win and the new president, Brig-General Sein Lwin were forced to resign after the killing of 3,000 unarmed demonstrators. A mass pro-democracy movement swept the nation and the more reformist Maung Maung became president, promising free multiparty elections.

But General Saw Maung staged a military coup in September 1988, reimposed martial law and transferred power to a 19-member state law and order council, with Ne Win in control behind the scenes.

With the "Old Man's" passing and some signs that the junta is becoming more amenable, this could be Burma's wake-up call.
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The Nation
BORDER SECURITY: Governors set to 'take charge'
Piyanart Srivalo
Published on Dec 6, 2002

A major overhaul is in the works for Thailand's border security operations under which the governors of all frontier provinces will be given authority to deal with security-related matters.

In a recent interview with The Nation, National Security Council deputy secretary-general Prakij Prachonpanchanuk said the governors of the border provinces would assume the role of chief executive officer for security-related matters in their provinces.

The governors would also continue working to support the development of their respective provinces, he said.

The decision to expand the mandate of the border governors was a strategic one, Prakij said, adding that Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh would spearhead the initiative.

The programme was designed to strengthen communities along the border in order to keep unwanted elements from illegally entering Thailand, he added.

Prakij said that although border villages would become the nation's eyes and ears, they would not be considered a physical barrier between the Kingdom and its neighbours.

He said that the communities would be encouraged to establish contacts with their neighbours across the border.

Prakij cited the Bt20-million crop-substitution project in an area of Burma just opposite Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district as an example of the sort of programme that could be used to increase security in the border regions.

The project, billed as a goodwill initiative by the government, is considered controversial because the area in question is controlled by the United Wa State Party, a 20,000-strong pro-Rangoon armed ethnic group allegedly responsible for much of the world's heroin supply and the millions of methamphetamines that enter Thailand.
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The Straits Times - DEC 6, 2002 FRI
Ne Win's death resolves dilemma of Myanmar junta

The military regime had been reluctant to act against their former leader and dictator, in spite of an alleged coup plot by his relatives

YANGON - The death of former dictator Ne Win yesterday, who was under house arrest after members of his family allegedly plotted a coup against Myanmar's junta, solves a major problem for the military regime, which seemed reluctant to act against him.

The 92-year-old reclusive, eccentric general ruled for close to 26 years and still had supporters, even though recent events showed that his clout with the current regime had declined.

Observers said the former strongman will, however, be best remembered for leaving behind an authoritarian regime that has yet to give way to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The dictator whose ruthless rule bankrupted Burma economically and spiritually came to power in a military coup in 1962. He kept his officers loyal over the decades with large cash grants, often deposited in Swiss bank accounts.

He provided for his well-being and that of his family - he married seven times, twice to the same woman - with a fortune estimated at US$4 billion (S$7.1 billion) and properties in Austria and Germany.

The arrest of his son-in-law and three grandsons for allegedly plotting a coup against the military junta stunned the nation, which thought that he continued to wield immense influence long after stepping down in 1988.

But the same month, the dictator was also put under house arrest, despite his fragile health, along with his favoured daughter Sandar Win, a physician and savvy businesswoman, believed to be the brains behind the family's sprawling business empire.

The ruling junta said the Ne Win clan had grown disgruntled over losing their economic and political privileges as their patriarch's power waned. It accused them of using black magic and voodoo dolls as part of their plot to seize power.

Most analysts, however, believe that the current regime installed 14 years ago, now known as the State Peace and Development Council, wanted to show that it was firmly in charge.

In September, Mr Ne Win's son-in-law and grandsons were sentenced to death by hanging - stunning proof that the frail 92-year-old no longer pulled the strings of the junta.

Analysts believe his death solves a major problem for the junta, which seemed reluctant to act against the 'Old Man', as he is known here, but which did not want to allow him free reign.

'His enduring legacy is, unfortunately, military government,' said one diplomat.

He added that Mr Ne Win deserved 'most of the blame' for the parlous state of Myanmar's economy.

When he took charge, Burma, as it was then known, was potentially one of Asia's richest countries, with vast natural resources.

By the time he stepped down, the nation he renamed Myanmar was one of the world's poorest countries, thanks to his 'Burmese Way to Socialism'.

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Asian Tribune
Date : 2002-12-06
General Ne Win was given a pariah cremation in Burma.

Former Burma?s military dictator General Ne Win (91), who died on Thursday, 05 December, at 7.30 in the morning, was cremated on the same day, in the afternoon, at the Ye Way cemetery, about 15 miles north of Yangon. A playboy autocrat, who ruled Burma for more than 25 years, ultimately, disgraced, kept under house arrest and even after his death, he was given a pariah cremation.

The family source did not specify where Ne Win died, but a diplomat said according to reliable information, he was secretly moved from his lakeside villa and into hospital several weeks ago as his condition worsened.

"He hasn't been in his house for some time, so it was assumed that he was in hospital and was in coma counting his days," the diplomat said.

Former Myanmar military dictator Ne Win, who ruled Burma for more than 25 years during its slide into poverty and economic ruin, has died under house arrest, family members and witnesses say.

Earlier, On 7 March, Ne Win was placed under house arrest in his lake view villa, after his son-in-law and three grandsons were taken into custody for allegedly plotting a coup with dissident military commanders. The son-in-law and grandsons are subsequently charged with high treason.

During their trail, which was held in the middle of the year, it was alleged that, the four planned to kidnap Khin Nyunt, Maung Aye and Than Shwe on 27 March, and then to hold them at Ne Win's home, until they agreed to reorganize the government.

The trial concluded on 26 September, with the four defendants being found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The verdict came 44 years to the day, after Ne Win first took power in Burma.

Earlier the same day, Win's son-in-law and four others are also found guilty of illegally importing satellite telephones and unregistered vehicles and are sentenced to jail terms ranging from seven to 56 years. Ne Win and his daughter Sandar Win remain under house arrest.

Previously, on 12 September, a military tribunal sentenced more than 80 soldiers from Win's personal guard to 15 years in prison for their role in the alleged coup plot. The trails and sentencing signal the end of Win's influence in Burmese politics.

Ne Win suffered the sudden and savage fall from grace after a court in September sentenced his son-in-law and three grandsons to death for plotting to overthrow the government with the aid of renegade officers and black magic.

Meanwhile, once the news of Ne Wins demise became known, there was no sign of unusual activity at the house. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known, and the government did not make any announcement.

Only the barbed wire fence that had blocked the road to his house since his arrest was opened slightly on Thursday, making enough place for cars to go through. Three soldiers stood near the barricade.

A municipal official said Ne Win's body would be cremated immediately. No senior members of the military government were present at the funeral.

Later, a white minivan carrying the body emerged from the compound at around midday followed by nine other vehicles and headed to Ye Way cemetery located about 15 miles north of Yangon.

According to reports, several dozen people including family members gathered at the cemetery as monks carried out traditional Buddhist cremation rites.

"If he had died before the coup plot was exposed, he would have been burried somewhere much more illustrious and with more ceremony," one former government official. Another official said, ?let this be a lesson to those Generals who now rule Burma against popular wishes.?

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Asian Tribune
Date : 2002-12-06
Release all 1,400 political prisoners: Demands Burmese National Coalition Government.

National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, brings to the notice of the international community, the politics duplicity of the stage managed smoke and mirror shows of the Burmese generals and exposes that only 59 political prisoners were released and not 115, as earlier publicized with much fanfare by State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of Burma. The NCGUB in a statement has demanded the immediate release of 1400 political prisoners who languishing in the high security jails scattered all over in Burma.

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) in its statement commended the courage, valour, patriotism and the determination of those brave patriots who continue to struggle for for democracy even at their unflinching moments of pain, and strongly condemns the generals in the SPDC who have yet to show any sincerity in wanting to achieve national reconciliation in the country.

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma further condemned the generals for exploiting the human misery for their personal gains and urged them stop it forthwith.

The full text of the Press release National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, is given below:

The recent release of "115" political prisoners by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of Burma was publicized with much fanfare. The event was described as "the biggest single release" which according to SPDC spokesman Colonel Hla Min took place "because of steady progress in national reconciliation."

The elaborate propaganda is actually contrary to the truth. Only 51 political prisoners belonging to the National League for Democracy (NLD) and eight others with other political affiliations have been released so far. U Lwin, spokesperson for the NLD in a radio interview on 26 November said he had asked Colonel Hla Min about the "exact number" of released political prisoners and was told, "We have only freed 60 of them and 55 others have yet to be released." No one has been freed since that interview.

U Ohn Myint, vice chairman of the NLD's Welfare Support Committee, also told AFP "the release of some of the prisoners had been held up after they refused to sign a document agreeing they would be further penalized if they were sent back to jail."

The "document" or bond that political prisoners are made to sign before their release concerns provisions of "Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code" that in essence state a released political prisoner will be made to serve the time that was remitted if he/she is rearrested for engaging in political or other activity that the authorities deem to be "anti-government" or "criminal" in nature. It is outrageous that the regime is treating prisoners of conscience as criminals and threatening them with arrest if they get involved in politics again. Political prisoner releases in Burma are therefore not unconditional as demanded by the international community, neither are they acts of benevolence nor can they be taken as signs of improving political situation in the country. But, as U Ohn Myint said of the released political prisoners, "What is so laudable about all of them is their resolve to continue to be active NLD members even after their traumatic experience."

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) lauds the courage of these true patriots who are determined to continue the struggle for democracy and strongly condemns the generals in the SPDC who have yet to show any sincerity in wanting to achieve national reconciliation in the country. The generals are urged to stop exploiting human misery for their personal gains and immediately release all remaining 1,400 political prisoners.

The NCGUB also calls on the international community to continue stepping up the pressure until genuine political freedoms are restored in Burma and to refrain from prematurely rewarding the generals who have until today done nothing substantive but stage smoke and mirror shows to mislead the world.
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