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Vo.-4,No.9, 15Nov93,Burma Fo
- Subject: Vo.-4,No.9, 15Nov93,Burma Fo
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 22 Jan 1994 09:23:00
Subject: Vo.-4,No.9, 15Nov93,Burma Fo
/* Written 2:14 am Dec 2, 1993 by absdf@xxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.seasia */
/* ---------- "Vo.-4,No.9, 15Nov93,Burma Fo" ---------- */
* BURMA FOCUS *
* Published By the All Burma Students' Democratic Front *
* Bi-monthly News Letter *
* Vol.4 No.9 15 Nov 1993 *
Tougher Action on Burma
United States; The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has urged
a strong US policy on Burma, citing continued abuses of human
rights and democracy, and illicit production of narcotics in Burma.
The call, came in a letter dated 25th Oct to President Bill Clinton
welcoming his initiation of a complete review of Washington's
policy toward Burma. The letter was initiated by Sen. Daniel
Patrick Moynihan. "We are confident that the coordinated U.S
policy which emerges from this review will result in a strong
policy helping to bring freedom to the people of Burma," says the
letter signed by all 12 members of the Senate penal.
Burma ruling junta, the State Law and Order Restoration
Council(Slorc) has refused to abide by the result of the 1990
elections, imprisoned or forced to exile many elected MPs,
conducted extensive military operation against ethnic groups and
continued to hold Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, it adds.
The letter also notes that over 50 per cent of the illicit opium
grown worldwide is produced in Burma and high-ranking military
officers are involved in the narcotics trade. The letter states,
"it appears that nothing less than a change in government will
produce genuine progress on this front."
"This policy review provides an opportunity for the Cliton
administration to show that the struggle of the Burmese people is
not forgotten," Sen. Moynihan said. "Wielding power through
violent means does not a legitimate government make."
(Source#Bangkok Post, Nov 6, 1993)
IPFB; The International Parliamentary Friends of Burma(IPFB) has
urged United Nations to use all it influence on Burmese junta to
release Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from under house
In a letter to the United Nations General Secretary, Boutros
Boutros-Ghali, the IPFB says "we urge you to increase your efforts
on her behalf(Daw Aung San Suu Kyi)."
The Slorc's convened National Convention should not be accepted by
the international community and power should be transferred to the
democratic representatives of Burma who were elected in May 1990,
The IPFB was set up at the Senate Chamber, Parliament House in
Canberra, Australia on 14 Sept 1993 during a meeting of
International Parliamentary Union to promote and support the cause
of liberty and democracy for the people of Burma.(IPFB, Nov 1993)
Denmark;(the following article entitle "Only an Increase Pressure
Will Make the Regime Step Down" is written by the Danish Foreign
Minister(former chairman of the EC), Mr Niels Helveg Petersen in
the special issue of "Kontakt" magazine published in June 1993 in
The Burmese military regime is suppressing the democratic rights of
Burmese people with increase brutality, and it continues to
persecute the opposition and ethnic minorities. After the cold war
has ended, no country can rightfully claim that democracy and human
rights are internal matters that the international community should
not interfere in. On the contrary, the international community can
no longer stand by and watch, while a government is systematically
violating the basic human rights. Therefore, we have also been
actively participating in the international activities in order to
assist the restoration of democracy in Burma.
Our demands to the regime in Rangoon are clear and fundamental; to
respect the outcome of 1990's May election, to respect human
rights, to end the persecution of ethnic minority and to cooperate
with the relevant UN organizations in order to secure a safe
repatriation of all Burmese refugees.
The Danish government has tried to promote these demands through
international cooperation within the EC and the UN. In 1991 the EC
countries agreed on an Arms embargo against Burma, suspend all
bilateral, non-humanitarian aid to Burma and several critical
resolutions on Burma. Within the UNs, Denmark has participated in
proposing resolutions at the General Assembly as well as in the UN
Human Rights Commission. Last year UNDP decided to block all new
financial assistance to Burma, so far until 1996.
I am convinced that these initiatives from the international
community will work. Denmark will continue and enhance this policy
towards Burma. Only a united and extensive international pressure
will have an effective impact on the regime in Rangoon.(Kontakt,
Slorc's Divide and Rule Policy
Bangkok Post, Nov 2 & 7, 1993 - Peace talks being held between
Slorc and the Kachin Independence Organization(KIO) are part of the
attempt by Burma's junta to drive a wedge into the unity of the
country's armed opposition, said Democratic Alliance of Burma(DAB)
chairman Gen Bo Mya.
Gen Bo Mya, who is also leader of the Karen National Union(KNU)
said the Slorc's new strategy is to infiltrate the armed alliance
and sign individual peace treaties with its members to make the
revolutionary groups bow to its wishes.
Slorc recently announced it was close to signing a peace agreement
with the KIO, one of the main members of the DAB. Gen Bo May said
if the Kachin leader have realized the error of their ways and
decide to reform by scrapping the peace talks with Slorc they are
welcome to return to DAB fold.
"If the Slorc really desire genuine peace for the country, they
must hold face-to-face talks with all opposition groups, both armed
and unarmed alike, to find the solutions at the negotiating table,"
Meanwhile, chairman of the All Burma Students' Democratic
Front(ABSDF) Dr Naing Aung rejected the KIO's ceasefire pact with
Slorc. He said the pact would not lead to true peace in Burma and
maintained that all Burmese opposition groups should participate in
any negotiation with the Slorc. Dr Naing Aung spoke at the fifth
anniversary celebration of the ABSDF supported and attended by the
DAB and NDF.
Kachin Leader Has A Heart attack
Bangkok Post, Nov 13, 1993 - Chairman of the KIO, Brang Seng
suffered a massive heart attack and has been in a hospital in the
southern Chinese city of Kumming. He is to be moved to a Peking
hospital when he is well enough. The source said his illness has
forced the postponement of a ceremony concluding the reconciliation
agreement between Slorc and KIO.
Licenses to Foreign Banks
Bangkok Post, Nov 13, 1993 - Burma's central bank has issued to
three more foreign banks, France's Banque Indosuez, the Development
Bank of Singapore and the United Overseas Bank of Singapore to open
offices in Rangoon. Under financial law introduced in 1990 Burma
has been allowing foreign private banks to set up representative
offices in Rangoon.
To Boycott Slorc's National Convention
LUB, Oct 29, 1993 - The Lawyers Union of Burma(LUB) has urged the
National League for Democracy(NLD) party, not to attend the Slorc's
convened national convention when it resume in January 1994.
Aung Tay Za, Secretary General of the LUB expresses their concern
over Slorc's sham national convention in a letter to the NLD's
chairman. The LUB said the national convention drafting guide
lines for new constitution would only serve military to hold on
power forever. In which, the NLD should not involve in part.
Human Rights Violation
Burma Road on Shame
ASIA, INC, Oct 1993 - What follows is the excerpt from the cover
story of the ASIA, INC magazine - A Road On which three nations
depend for a sharp rise in their prosperity winds through a
cloud-shrouded valley in the mountains of Northeast Burma's Shan
state. On one side a steep cliff plunges to the fast-flowing
Thalay River, a turbulent tributary of the Mekong. On the other
side it rise almost as sharply into the clouds.
At the narrowest point, the driver of a car carrying ASIA, INC.
Senior Writer William Mellor brakes fiercely. A pile of rocks has
been placed in the middle of the road. From out of the mist comes
a clanking of chains. Ghostly forms appear. Shackled figures, leg
irons manacled at the ankles, knees and waist, stumble toward the
car, arms outstretched.
Some of the prisoners are dressed in tattered sackcloth. Others
are clad only in loincloths. A few are little more than children,
skinny teenagers with old men's eyes. Half a dozen hands reach
into the car's open window. Mellor offers a bundle of green
cheroots and small-denomination Kyats, the Burmese currency.
While some grasp the cigars and money, others impatiently wave the
gifts away. "Water, water!" a gaunt face mouths in English.
Mellor passes over a nearly full bottle, and it is gulped down in
Alerted by the commotion, armed guards appear. "No pictures, no
pictures!" shouts a Burmese police captain. But he is too late.
ASIA, INC. photographer Muarray White has already shot rolls of
The stones, placed by the prisoners to halt vehicles long enough
for food and water to be begged, are removed to allow the car to
pass. Sixty emaciated men wave their thanks. Then, leg irons
clanking, they hobble off down the road.
Welcome to the world of infrastructure improvement, Burma-style -
where chain gangs of prisoners break rocks to improve an un-
surfaced highway that is increasingly becoming a major attest in
the booming triangular trade between China, Burma and Thailand.
(Editor Note#October issue of the ASIA, INC magazine illustrated
photos of the Burmese forced labors working on the construction of
road in Shan State, Burma. Anyone who want to get photocopy of the
full story, please write to us. The following is the separate
story from the same issue of the ASIA, INC)
Burma Inhuman Resources
ASIA, INC, Oct 1993 - Asia is famous for cheap labor, but there is
probably no bargain like a Burmese porter. For a handful of rice
a day, porters will carry 50-kilogram loads of food and ammunition,
build roads and railways, and occasionally act as human
Forced labor has a long and ignoble history in Burma, beginning
soon after the government began its campaign against ethnic
insurgent in the 1940s. But the practice became widespread after
1948 as Rangoon stepped up pressure against Karen rebels near the
Thailand border, and troops became indiscriminate in their choice
"I finally decided to run away after the soldiers gave my husband
a lecture with a knife at his neck and killed a woman in my
village," says one escaped porter, a woman from Karen state's Belin
township, whose villagers often taken by the army. At 45, she was
by no means the oldest. "There were 60-year-old women with us, and
I saw children as young as 12 or 13," she recalls. Like thousands
of other ex-porters, she has now taken refuge in camps across the
border in Thailand.
Burmese troops use mainly ethnic villagers during their offensives.
They often tell villagers that they need able-bodied workers for
only a few days to "support the national cause." Families
unwilling to part with a loved one are fined $5 to $10. In the
case of large projects, whole regions can be moved. Up to 800,000
people reportedly were pressed into work on eastern Burma's Loikaw-
Aungban railroad in late 1991.
One of the greatest ironies is that the Burmese Army could probably
find many willing volunteers in the impoverished villages of
eastern Burma if it went about things differently. "A lot of
(refugees) would have probably worked if they had known they would
get paid and treated humanely," says a relief worker on the border.
Burmese Dissidents Get Heavy Jail Terms
Bangkok Post, Bangkok, Thailand, Nov 4, 1993 - More than a dozen
Burmese dissidents including a close associate of detained
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been sentenced to heavy
prison terms in what is a warning that the junta will tolerate no
opposition, Bangkok-based diplomats said on 3rd Nov 1993.
The trails last month and harsh sentences of at least 20 years
behind bars for each of them were the first major political cases
since the junta announced a partial amnesty and began releasing
political prisoners in April last year. "This is a sign that in
spite of their claims to the contrary the Slorc has not changed,"
said a diplomat.
The pro-democracy activists sentenced by a civilian court in
mid-October include Aung Khin Sint, an elected representative of
the National League for Democracy(NLD), who together with an
associate, were reported to have sent "threatening letters" to
fellow delegates at a constitutional convention. Aung Khin Sint
was sentenced to 20 years in prison while his associate, Tin Tun
Aung, received two sentences, one of 20 years and one of 18 years.
It was not clear if the sentences were to run concurrently or
consecutively, the sources said.
In a separate case Ma Thida a medical doctor and writer in her
early thirties, was in mid-October sentenced to 20 behind bars on
various political charges including contacts with an illegal
organization and distributing leaflets. Ma Thida was a close
associate of Aung San Suu Kyi before she was place under house
arrest in July 1989.
Reuter, Nov 5, 1993 - Burma and the UNHCR signed a Memorandum of
Understanding on 5th Nov in Rangoon, guaranteeing access to UN
officials to all Rohingya returnees from Bangladesh. The MOU
stipulates the modalities of UNHCR's presence and programmes in the
Rakhine State. It states, interalia, that UNHCR will be given
access to all returnees; that the returnees will be issued with the
appropriate identification papers and that the returnees will enjoy
the same freedom of movement as all other nationals.
UNHCR will in the coming weeks seek the financial support of the
International Community to implement this important voluntary
repatriation programme from Bangladesh to Burma. About 280,000
Rohingya's fled their homes since March 1992. Amnesty
International and Asia Watch have published series of reports on
Burmese military's atrocities toward Rohingyas.
Danish Proposes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Invite Women Conference
Danida, Nov 10, 1993 - Danish Development Minister, Ms Helle Degn
has proposed to invite Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
and 4 others Nobel laureates to the Forth World Conference on Women
in Peking in 1995.
Four others Nobel Peace laureate who were proposed to invite to the
Women's conference are Betty Williams and Maired Corrigan from
Ireland, Mother Teresa from India and Regoberta Menchu from
Guatemala. These Nobel Peace laureates have already expressed
their deep concern over human rights situation in Burma and release
of their sister Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's from under
Ms Helle said she had already received a support from Secretary
General of the Women Conference for her call and only waiting a
final decision from Secretary General of the United Nations.
"These Noble Peace laureates are symbol of the World's women who
are struggling for freedom and democracy," said Ms Helle in a
statement issued on 9th Nov 1993.
Burma-Thai Border Meeting
Bangkok Post, Nov 12, 1993 - During the 8th Burma-Thai border
meeting, Thai army generals confirmed Thailand's position of non-
interference in internal conflicts involving Rangoon and minority
Lt-Gen Chetha, the first army commander who headed the Thai
delegation in the talks said Burma was happy with Thailand's
position. He said the army had seized large caches of war weapons
along the border. "If they were not seized by our force, these
weapons would have been sent to minority groups fighting the
Burmese government," he said. He added Burmese authority promised
early release 17 Thai who were arrested for illegal logging in
Burma. They were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and have been
in prison only for 106 days. Burma also promised to set up
reception center to accommodate illegal immigrants repatriated from
Rangoon asked Thailand to help a watch on 13 Burmese nationals who
might use Thailand to reach third countries where they can conduct
political activities against Rangoon.
A Crime Against Humanity;Burma Dams
The Nation, Opinion, Nov 15, 1993 - The Karen are Thailand's
ecological conscience. And if Thailand's ambitious plans to build
dams on border rivers are seen through, the Karen could soon weigh
heavily on Thai humanitarian conscience. In need of arms and
Thailand's favour, the Karen have been forced to accept the
logging. But now Thailand wants to construct dams on their
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand(Egat) is planning
to build two major dams on Salween river. The biggest of Upper
Salween dam(166-memter high) would probably flood of land, almost
entirely in Karenni and Shan States in Burma. But electricity and
the water would go to Thailand. Thailand and Burma are planning
seven other joint dam projects, including the Lower Salween Dam.
Feasibility studies for seven of these projects have already been
carried out at the request of the Thai and Burmese governments by
the secretive, Japan-based Electric Power Development Crop,
"special corporation" largely funded by the Japanese government and
closely connected to Japan's overseas development aid institutions.
But, it's not at all clear where the Karen living along the Salween
and Moei River valleys are going to go. The dams will destroy not
only their homes but their way of life. The Karen will be forced
into making a terrible choice, between living in Slorc
concentration camps or Thai refugee camp. The Karen are also well
aware that electricity for Thailand means power for Slorc.
"Thailand will get the energy, Slorc will get the money, and we
will be left to deal with the impacts of the dam," one Karen leader
Dams have long been decried as a crime against nature. These
projects on the border rivers, however, are also a crime against
the Karen. And since they are to be imposed on a minority people
for the benefit of a foreign power, they are nothing less than a
crime against humanity.
Call for Sanction!!!
Continued trade with Burma has particularly negative implications
given the economic bent of the military government. The military
has not only taken the reigns of power over the state, but it is
pillaging the country's natural resources. Since the military coup
in 1988, the rate of clear cutting has increased five fold, and is
proceeding at a rate that will exhaust Burma's precious teak
forests in 15 years. The U.S. State Department has recognized the
military government's practice of using corvee and prison labor in
export oriented sectors. Corvee labor is a practice where a
portion of a local population is forced to work without pay on a
government project, a practice which is hardly distinguishable from
prison or slave labor in that it is extracted under duress without
compensation. Prisoners are forced to harvest sugar cane and
construct roads. Forced labor is being used to build a 112 - mile
long Aung Ban-lai Kaw railroad into Eastern Burma, reportedly
conscripting one person from every household through which the
railway passes. The use of forced labor in zones of combat with
insurgents has resulted in many deaths. These activities violate
Burma's international obligations as Burma is a party to the
Slavery Convention, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
the Crime of Genocide, and ILO Conventions 29 and 87.
Since the Slorc takeover, seven foreign oil companies are reported
to have paid at least US $5 million each in signing bonuses alone.
Overall, diplomats estimate that Burma secured at least U.S. $1
billion from foreign investment after the coup in 1988.
In fact, the Burmese export economy depends on forced corvee and
prison labor. Because forced labor in Burma creates the
infrastructure needed to engage in foreign trade, the taint of
forced labor attaches to all Burmese products. As discussed above,
forced and unpaid labor is used in harvesting sugar, building roads
and railways, and in large government infrastructure projects.(The
above note is excerpt from the paper entitle, "General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade(GATT and Human Rights - Burma)" by Brain B.A.
McAllister, May 1st, 1993)
Please write to following companies, telling them that their
present in Burma would only serve the Slorc's hold on power but
increase violations of human rights and environmental destruction
in Burma. Request them to withdraw from Burma immediately;
Mr Richard Stegemeir, Chairman, UNOCAL, PO Box 7600, Los Angeles CA
Mr Alfred C.DeCrane, Jr, Chairman, Texaco Inc, 2000 Westchester
Ave, White Plains NY 10650, U.S.A
Mr R.C.Shaw, Chairman, Primer Consolidated Oilfields Plc, 23 Lower
Belgrave St, London SW1W 0NR, U.K
Total France, C/O Managing Director, Total Oil Holding Ltd, 16
Palace Street, London, SW1E 5BQ, U.K
Electric Power Development Corporation, 6-15-1 Ginza, Chuo-Ku,
Tokyo 104, Japan
Mr Chris Sinclair, President, Pepsi Cola International, Routes 100
& 35, Somers NY 10589-2202, U.S.A
Burma Focus is published by the All Burma Students' Democratic
Front. It will be published bi-monthly documenting the information
mainly on human rights violations, ecological crisis, foreign
investment, refugee problems and illegal opium trading in Burma.
Anyone who wish to get information are welcome to contact its
P.O Box 1352 G.P.O
Tel: 66-01-926 25 62
Tel & Fax: 66-55-531 952
ABSDF Europe Office
P.O Box 6720
Tel: 47-22-60 85 97
Fax: 47-22-60 85 98