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BurmaNet News: May 19, 1995 [#176]

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: May 19, 1995
Issue #176


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May, 1995

Burma is just beginning to experience a revolution in technology and
the spread of information.  The old ways still persist, but  new
ways of moving information are emerging.

As it has for over three decades, censorship still prevails and
access to news of what is happening outside one's immediate
surroundings is severely restricted.  State TV, newspapers and
magazines are the only visible and approved media.  They are
available at almost every turn, but are almost as widely ignored.

At a level somewhere between the state-sanctioned and the illegal,
are the short-wave broadcasts which are the main sources of  hard
news for most people.  The Burmese-language service of the BBC is
the most often cited source of news, with the Voice of America a
somewhat distant second.  The Norwegian-based Democratic Voice of
Burma has a much smaller listenership, in large part because of a
weak signal.  Their significance is somewhat greater  than a
headcount of their listeners would indicate because they count among
their audience, a number of the leading opposition figures in the
country.  No attempt is made to jam the shortwave broadcasts.

Within the last two years, a new source of information has arrived. 
Satellite dishes are visible on an increasing number of roofs and
the cables coming off of them are spreading across Rangoon and
Mandalay.  Most of the dishes are pointed up at Rupert Murdoch's
Star TV satellite, which beams down  a mix of western movies,
international news and Indian, East Asian and western pop music. 
Because it is Star's southern transponder, the news carried is BBC
television rather than the insipid Star news carried on the
satellite aimed at China.  [Due to pressure from the Chinese
government which was unhappy with the BBC for reporting accurately
on events inside China, Star dropped the BBC from its northern
satellite last year and replaced it with a more docile in-house

Satellite dishes are legally restricted in Burma to certain
political elites and hotels serving foreign visitors.  In practice,
they are more widely available.  It is also sometimes possible to
tap into a neighbors line and so miniature cable networks are
spreading out in the major cities.  Still, the number of people with
access to cable TV is small, both as a proportion of the population
and when compared to the number who listen to BBC's shortwave
service.  News about Burma is also fairly rare on BBC-tv.  The
viewership is much larger among the educated elites and according to
one opposition figure, just seeing the news from Bosnia and other
places has an effect.  What they see is that in other countries, the
people talk about the strengths and weaknesses of their government,
while here the TV news is only allowed to talk about the good

VCRs are easily available but beyond the means of most families. 
Pirated video tapes are also widely available.  Although most
individuals cannot afford their own VCRs and TVs, they have access
to movies on tape through the countless ad hoc "movie theatres" that
consist of no more than a VCR, TV and small room somewhere. 
Admission is only a few kyat per showing.  An interesting test of
the efficiency of this network will come when "Beyond Rangoon" is
available on tape (preferably dubbed in Burmese).  This is just a
guess, but it's likely to be the clandestine hit of the Summer.

Fax machines are also becoming common and the controls are beginning
to slip.  The machines are supposed to be registered with the
government and fax messages themselves are to be routed through a
central number in a government office.  There, they  are printed out
and then delivered to the intended recipient.  In practice, it is
somewhat different.  Machines are increasingly  used on lines not
routed through the central office.  One complaint voiced by
businessmen who talked to BurmaNet was that they worried about their
messages being intercepted by government officials.  

The businessmen weren't doing anything political but were concerned
over commercial matters.  For foreign businessmen to function in
Burma, they almost invariably need a liason with someone close to
the SLORC leadership.  What the businessmen worry about is that the
government person doing the message intercepts will be working with
one of their competitors in Rangoon and will turn over their
business secrets.  One businessman told of his plans to avoid this
by using the data encyrption program PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) on
faxes to his Bangkok head office.  PGP is generally used on email
messages but there is at least theoretically, a way to use it on fax
messages as well.

Another change is the advent of IDD (International Direct Dial
lines), which are available to businesses, international agencies
and foreigners.  IDD lines and calls are extraordinarily expensive
(more than US$8 per minute to America off-peak, and $5 per minute to
Bangkok).  The per minute charge can be reduced by using a call-back
service, but even so, the lines are rare and priced beyond the reach
of all but a few.  The qualify of line connections to Internet
providers in Singapore and Bangkok is acceptable but use of the
lines is  so expensive as to make data communications through
outbound calls impractical.  Connections from inbound calls are less
expensive but require coordination with a caller outside the
country.  The cost differential almost mandates the latter route if
used regularly.

Fax/modems are not easily available in computer stores but some of
them are in use.  A fair number of companies use Local Area Networks
(LANs) for business purposes and some of these have dial-up access. 
It is only a matter of time before certain of these local networks
are gatewayed to the Internet.

Internet e-mail is already available in Burma at one western embassy
and through several international agencies.  These have their own
satellite connections and are not subject to local pricing or

Computers are becoming widely available and are used in many local
businesses.  Also, the number of students enrolled in computer
training schools is soaring.  Watching these computer training
classes, one can't help but think that given enough rope, or in this
case, computer cable, the regime will hang itself.  

At present, students in Rangoon seem to have almost no interest in
politics.  The universities have only recently reopened and students
are trying to make up for time lost when the campuses were closed
after the 1988-1990 uprisings.  The students also seem to recognize
that almost the only route to a decent standard of living is to gain
a skill marketable to foreign businesses.  The boom in computer
classes is part of this. 

Software is generally virtually all pirated and somewhat behind
neighboring countries (WordPerfect for DOS, version 5.1 seems to be
the standard word processor).  More advanced Windows applications
are available.  Also, Macs have captured a significant share of the
market and are intensively advertised Mac's slogan, "It costs less,
does more.  It's that simple" takes on a new and unfortunate meaning
when displayed on billboards next to roads being widened with slave

The first real Internet connections to Burma are likely to come this
year, or early next.  The New Light of Myanmar and the U.S.
Information Service library are both planning to put in connections. 
The USIS connection, if it works out, will not allow for individual
mailboxes but search tools like gopher and access to USENET
newsgroups would be available.  The government is expressing some
interest in connecting the universities to the net, but whether they
follow through remains to be seen.

If the current influx foreign businesses is to continue, the
authorities will come under increasing pressure to allow newspaper
other than the New Light of Myanmar to circulate.  At present, no
real newspapers are available although Time and Newsweek are
available at premium prices.  Some of the most prohibited material
in Burma are copies of the English-language papers from "the Other
Country".  The Bangkok Post and The Nation offer extensive and
critical coverage of Burma, and are therefore loathed by the regime. 
Still, stacks of them come on on scheduled airline flight from
Thailand, in diplomatic pouches and by other means.  BurmaNet found
one magazine stall that carried the Bangkok Post and Nation, but the
issues were used and at least a week old.

Smuggling small amounts of reading material in is not difficult as
the checks at the airport are cursory.  Nationals from Burma are
subject to more thorough checks than foreigners however.

Already, the amount of information leaking into Burma is increasing. 
The flow will speed up as more people get access to cable TV and as
the government is pressed to reduce prices on international
telephone calls.  To date, the regime has shown little talent for
countering unflattering information except by jailing or
intimadating those who move it.  This is becoming an untenable
approach and some de facto relaxation of censorship, however
grudging, is likely.

************************THE IRRAWADDY*************************
******************INDEPENDENT NEWS &INFORMATION**************

********************VOL3, NO16, 15 MAY 1995*******************



Five years ago, the first free and fair elections were held in
Burma after 26 years of one-man rule, and two years after 
the nationwide pro-democracy movement was brutally 

The May 27, 1990 elections went smoothly despite initial
doubts they would be fair. However the ruling junta, the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), refused to honour
the results or transfer power to the winnersthe National
League for Democracy (NLD).

The military leaders had promised to hold the general
elections after they staged a bloody coup in 1988. Elections
will be held as soon as law and order have been restored and
the Tatmadaw will then hand over the power to the party that
wins, the generals  said. 

Sadly, the Slorc leaders who pledged to hand over government
to the election winners are still in power and show no sign of
loosening their iron grip anytime soon.

Before the elections began many leading politicians and
intellectuals including Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, U Win Tin
were rounded up and thrown into jail. As the outcome of  the
election became clear the Slorc troops stormed NLD offices
throughout the country. The party's MPs, who were yet to
assume their elected posiitons in the National Assembly, were
accused of being in contact with underground groups and armed
insurgents groups on the border and arrested.

Instead of handing over power to the NLD, Slorc established
the National Convention Convening Committee which was
comprised mostly of Slorc leaders. Its task was to select 
candidates to attend a national convention that would be
tasked with drawing up the guidelines for drafting a
constitutiona consitution tailor-made for Slorc. 

Prior to the convention, six objectives were formulated, one
of which was the underlining of the military's leading role in
politics. This is Slorc's clear signal to the oppressed
Burmese people: We will continue to rule even if you don't
want us. To date, the Slorc still to rules the country
without a popular mandate.

Soon after taking power in 1988, Slorc invited foreign
businessmen to capatilize on the country's resources. Many
businessmen flocked to Burma to take advantage of the
opportunity to make handsome profits along with the generals.
The result of the open-market economy has been to deposit a
good deal of the country's new wealth in the hands of a few
top military officers and business families. And despite the
relative poverty of  Burma, more than one-third of the
country's annual budget still goes to defence spending.
Indeed, Slorc's free-market policy has not made life any
easier for most Burmese. Rather, sky-rocketing prices have
only made most Burmese lives harder.

Yet, Slorc leaders are now excited to promote tourism-- they
declared 1996 as Visit Myanmar Year. Towards this effort,
people in the countryside are being forced to work on Slorc's
tourism projects. As one resident in Shan State told a
reporter from the Asian Wall Street Journal, Foreigners don't
know what we're going through for this tourism year.

Opposition in Burma has been cowed but the people have not
completely given up their will to overcome the dictators and
to restore democracy, freedom and peace. They are not
forgetting what they have been through and they will never
forget who they voted for during the general elections in

If they get the chance, they will ask who stole the election
and where are their leaders?

As Slorc's rule grows old their is no sign that the generals
are easing their reign of terror. Only recently Slorc handed
down heavy sentences to student activists who went to pay
their respects at the funeral of ex-premier U Nu. They laid a
wreath and and sang a song. Because of this they were given
seven year jail terms. About the same time, Slorc troops
crossed the border and attacked Karen refugee camps.
Ironically, Slorc leaders are fond of speaking of national
reconciliation. Indeed they use it to justify their rule. 
But in order to regain national reconciliation Burma needs
well-respected and able leaders, not medieval military

The Asean Connection

In the aftermath of last year's Asean summit in Bangkok it
seemed that maybe the advocates of constructive engagement had
it right. Years of isolation and vitriolic condemnation had
done nothing to change the situation in Burma. The junta that
hijacked government after losing the 1990 election was as
solidly entrenched in power and it looked like the only thing
sanctions had done was to push Burma further in to China's
sphere of influence .

With the US dissenting, much of the internationally community
agreed to put away the stick  and try the carrot of economic
and political engagement.

For a while the Burmese generals played their part, tossing
out scraps of conciliation to suggest they had seen the light
 a meeting with Suu Kyi, more peace talks the ethnic groups.
But before long they tired of the facade. They had what they

Singapore, Thai and Malaysian businessmen rushed in with
hundreds of millions of dollars in investments. With a finger
in every pie the generals were ready to reap the rewards from
their conversion to capitalism in a spectacular fashion. If by
some accident the economy really took off, they might even
gain the biggest prize of all  -- international

Asean officials continue to argue that economic engagement can
turn Burma around but there is little evidence to indicate it
will happen. In fact much of what has occured over the last
year would suggest that Slorc is only becoming more
tyrannical. Michael Aris has been denied visits to Suu Kyi,

Slorc launched a massive offensive against the Karens which
included the use of chemical weapons and dissidents continue
to be rounded and imprisoned for the most trivial of offences.
Indeed, rather than uplifting Burma, what constructive
engagement appears to have actually done is to corrupt Asean.
Rather than giving the regional grouping leverage, economic
engagement has only made Burma's neighbours silent partners in

Lamentably, the strings that were supposed to link economic
engagement and improvements in political rights were never
tied. And  now we have this situation of the region's leaders
falling back on the tried old refrain that politics and
business can't be mixed. So be it. But by dividing the two it
also means that Asean's leaders are free to hold up their end
of the deal and bring some political pressure to bear on
Burma. Unconditional invititions to Asean meetings don't do


Is journalism in Burma dead? If not, it must be in a coma.
There is a big gap over thirty years. Newspapers were
nationalized in 1962 and finally in 1964, said 74-year-old
Guardian Sein Win at a training session for journalism in
Rangoon recently. About 16 young and energetic Burmese
participated, which   surprised some foreign visitors
considering the lack of press freedom in the country.
Freedom of the press ended when Gen Ne Win staged his coup in
1962. All news-papers were taken over and only the
government-owned newspapers, Lok-tha-pyi-thu-nei-zin and
English language, Working People's Daily were allowed to
publish within the accepted limits of the Burmese Way to

Most Burmese who grew up under Ne Win's socialist regime do
not know what freedom of press and expression is. 
But Sein Win reportedly told the VOA correspondent that press
freedom may come in one or two years. I'm teaching them for
the new generation, during the free press time, which I am
expecting maybe in one or two years.

But Sein Win himself informed Slorc authorities about his
training before it started. Sein Win also stressed to the VOA
correspondent that there is no politics involved in his

Sein Win is close to ex-army Gen Aung Gyi who was co-founder
of the NLD before establish his own party. Since then Sein Win
has severely attacked Aung San  Suu Kyi. A source close to
Sein Win said, Sein Win always has give and take with
tatmadaw. Most important of all, he is one of the anti-Suu Kyi
men so Slorc let him do it (journalism training).   
(VOA & Inside sources) 


We found out at 6:00pm that he was coming  most people had
left the office by then my friend told me, speaking of the
visit of S1, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt to [the school] in April.
Daw Khin Thida (the Dept. head, not her real name) was
notified at her home, and she rushed back to school to make
the preparations, along with any other teachers who were free.
They were there until 10:30 that night, cleaning,
straightening up  putting out the red carpets.

The next morning all the teachers in all the departments had
to come to school earlyeven though there were no classes to
teach.  [S1's visit was during the summer holiday.] 

Then we all had to stay inside the officesunder house
arrest my friend laughed, while S1 walked around the
corridors. The teachers didn't see him; he didn't go into a
classroom or department office. 

There was a meeting in the principal's office, and they took
some pictures in the language laboratory, but not much else.
Ridiculous my friend said, and she laughed again.      

(This letter is sent by a teacher who was one of the victims
of the preparations)


While  it would be interesting to know what will the Burmese
think about the international pressure to impose sanctions on
the present regime, it is more important to know what ordinary
Burmese and NLD members in Burma have been discussing and
thinking rather than the dissidents in exile. 

Last month, a freelance reporter was able to conduct several
interviews with former NLD members, intellectuals groups in
Rangoon and Mandalay as well as influential writers. As we
reproduce some of our interviews we hope to provide a new and
inside perspective to Burmese in exile and Burma campaign
groups around the world. 

What do you want from outsiders, particularly from the US, EU
and Australia? Our  reporter asked this question to
intelle-ctuals, professors, writers and former NLD members.
They have a completely radical perspective which is: we are
poor and we don't care if the country is involved
economically, we would rather be poor. 

Another Burmese intellectual who is also a former NLD member
said, Only if the people are poor and hungry will they take
to the streets and join us. We believe in economic sanctions.
But the reporter found a more moderate perspective from
another well-experienced senior NLD member, it was that the
country is developing and there are large investments coming
in and there is not a lot we can do about the economic
sanctions and they are not going to be effective. It is
impossible to isolate Burma.

The reporter said most former NLD leaders and intellectuals
groups in Burma have lost faith in Asean because they see
China and Singapore backing Slorc. 

A well-known NLD member who was jailed for two years and freed
last year explained his perspective: It is (the sanctions) not
going to be effective, he said, as the US has no direct
interest in Burma.

The bottom line, however, is that he supports the idea of
economic sanctions not because they would be economically
effective, but because of the PR. 

He said, the ordinary people want to get better jobs and they
are now excited to see tourists and get a well-paid job in

(Contributed by a special correspondent in Rangoon) 


Slorc appears to be tightening its grip on the dissemination
of news. 

Soon after the April water festival in Burma, Slorc stopped
the publication of at least two privately-owned and well-known
magazines, Kyi-pwa-yay and Mahethi. Sources in Rangoon said
that both would remain shut for at least six months. 

Many still cannot find a reason for the closure. Some Burmese
writers in Rangoon speculated the two were closed down because
they published a classified advertisement from Burmese youths
and students in Tokyo. 

The ad went like this: Burmese in Tokyo will celebrate the
water festival at the Tokyo Dome or known as the Big Egg from
10:00am to 4:00pm for further information please contact Water
Festival Committee in Japan. 

The closure of Kyi-pwa-yay surprised many writers in Burma as
the magazine had been running articles about free-market
economy and had also been supporting Slorc's Visit Myanmar
Year. The editor, Myat Khine, is close to some powerful Slorc

About the same time, a writer reported, there has been a new
censorship system had been introduced by the Press Scrutiny
Board (PSB), which regularly blackened out sensitives articles
and sentences. But a PSB officer told  writers recently, The
practice of Inking out words does not speak well for a free
market economy. 

Therefore, the style of censorship has to be changed. Instead
of inking over the sentences, the whole article will be torn

(Inside sources)


Aung Zaw on the diplomatic fallout from the border blowup         
19.5.95/The Nation

For the past three weeks, the relationship between Bangkok and
Rangoon has been strained because of the repeated border
incursions by the Burmese army and its ally, the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army [DKBA].

It was only after 10 days that the foreign ministers of both
countries claimed they had mended their differences .

This time the Burmese came to Thailand not to invade and raze
Ayutthaya, but to attack and threaten Karen refugees to force
them to return to Burma. Rangoon intended to give a lesson to
Thailand, which has been accused of assisting the Karen
insurgents and activists for years.

Because of these recent incidents, critics have asked Thailand to
review its controversial constructive engagement policy on Burma.
The House committee on foreign affairs has repeatedly requested
the government to revoke its invitation to Burma to the upcoming
Asean meeting in Brunei Darussalam.

Suthin Noppaket of the House committee on foreign affairs said
the policy was aimed at reducing the violence committed by Burma
against its perceived enemies. But it's obvious that the policy
has been unsuccessful. However , Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai,
Foreign Minister Krasae Chanawongse and other government
officials have stood firm on maintaining their present relations
with the State Law and Order Restoration Council [SLORC]. They
also reiterated that Thailand will not revoke its invitation to
Burma to attend the Asean meeting .

Observers and diplomats have expressed their frustration over the
constructive engagement policy. A diplomat who refused to be
named said economic interests have outweighed genuine political
will on the part of international community .

" Thailand should exert some pressure on Slorc and stop thinking
that this will have a negative effect on its present policy .
Even though Slorc would be dissatisfied, it will still listen ,"
he said.

In reality , the policy was introduced with the hope that the
human rights situation would improve and that democracy would
eventually take root in Burma, which has been ruled with an iron
fist by Gen Ne Win and his cronies for more than 30 years.

Ironically, while Rangoon's troops were rampaging across the
border and torching Karen refugee camps on Thai soil ,Slorc's Lt
Gen Khin Nyunt was heard saying that there were no major problems
between the two countries. He also emphasized that Burma "did not
regard any existing misunderstanding with its neighbours as a
serious problem."

Soon after Khin Nyunt's statement , Thai government officials
echoed his comments that nothing serious was happening at the
border. Chuan and Krasae stressed there would be no immediate
changes with regards to Thailand's policy with Burma.
Additionally , Krasae and other border incidents would not be
used to tarnish Rangoon's presence at the Asean meeting.

But regional analysts say Thailand is seriously thinking if
maintaining the status quo was worth it, considering the flak it
was getting from other quarters.

Several sources confirmed that Thai foreign ministry officials do
not really know what to do about the situation in Burma.

A source said; " The constructive engagement policy should be
reviewed since the situation has been changing very fast."

The same source insisted the best way to solve the problem was
for Thailand to continue its dialogue with Burma.

Observers and Burma watchers said most Thai foreign ministry
officials and other high-ranking government officials do not
understand the actual situation in Burma.

" Most officials receive reports only from the Thai embassy in
Rangoon. They do not know what is actually happening and are
unaware of the suffering the Burmese encounter daily .There are
no intelligence reports," said a source.

While Slorc promised Thailand and Asean leaders that they would
bring about democracy to foster national reconciliation, and to
improve the human rights situation in their country, their troops
have trampled upon Thai sovereignty through repeated incursions
at the border.

The military junta in Rangoon has also recently sentenced nine
students to prison and shut down two well- known publications . 
Moreover ,there are numerous reports coming out of Burma on how
the Tatmadaw [armed forces] has been mistreating its own people
and how a handful of remaining opponents continue to be harassed.

Is it time to change the constructive engagement policy? Or is it
time to differentiate between economic interests and genuine
political will?.  

19 May 1995

Police will take drastic action against as Burmese authorities
are not sincere in cooperating with Thai counterparts in sup-
pressing Burmese criminals fleeing Thailand to Burmese soil,
said assistnt police chief Pol Lt-Gen Prasarn Wongyai.
During a press conference at the Mae Sot police atation in Tak
province yesterday, Pol Lt-Gen Prassarn said policemen would
be deployed along the Thai-Burmese border to prevent all ille-
gal Burmese immigrants from committing crime, seeking jobs,
and even buying goods in Thailand.

The police's tough action was ordered by Interior Minister
Sanan Kachornprasart, Pol Lt-Gen Prasarn said.

Lt-Gen Prasarn brought six Burmese arrested in Mae Sot
District on charges of murdering a 27-year-old Public Health
official, Amorn Boonmark on May 7. Then also allegedly robbed
Thai villagers and were arrested late Wednesday.
Phone Nee, 27, one of those arrested, was quoted as admitting
he and the other suspects committeed the murder.
Burmese authorities did nothing to help Thai counterparts to
supress Burmese criminals, Pol Lt-Gen Prasarn said.

"Police will arrest all illegal Burmese immigrants who work in
all factories and companies and Thai entrepreneurs will also
be prosecuted fpr accommodating illegal immigrants if Burmese
workers are involved in any crimes," Pol Lt-Gen Prasarn said.
Burmese robbers yesterday fled Mae Sot to Burma and made off
with valuables worth over 150,000 baht as well as three motor-

After Thai officials contacted Burmese troops on the border to
arrest the suspects, they demanded 18,000 for each motorcycle,
Pol Lt-Gen Prasarn said. (BP)

19 May 1995

Troops along the border area in Mae Sai District have been
reinforced following unusual movements by Burmese soldiers
opposite this northern province, according to an intelligence

Thai soldiers were seen patrolling the border and taking up
positions at more than ten locations stretching through Mae
Chan, Mae Fa Luang and Mae Sai districts.
Three V-150 armoured personal carriers were also sent to sup-
port Thai infantry men along the border.

The report said that Thai soldiers from Mengrai Maharaj mili-
tary camp in Chiang Rai have been deployed at Mae Fah Luang
Sub-district where there have been reports of sporadic fight-
ing between Burmese troops and minority rebel forces - appar-
ently those of opium warlord Khun Sa.

The Royal Thai Air Force has also despatched F-5 fighter planes
to patrol the border area. Interior Minister Sanan Kachaornprasart
said yesterday that the situation along the Thai-Burmese border in
Chiang Rai's MAe Sai District was uncertain. There had also been a
report of ususual movements by Burmese troops and minority rebels
opposite this province.

He said Chiang Rai Governor Kamron Booncherd had ordered the
closure of the border and checkpoints at Mae Sai, Ban Pang Ha
and Ban Muang Daeng to protect people from exposing themselves
to danger as a result of the uncertain situation inside Burma.
The order, which bans people, goods and vehicles from crossing
the border, took effect on Tuesday.

Mr Kamron, who issued the order, said a security alert was
also in effect for prominent figures, government property and
the general community.

He has also ordered a ban on foreign tourists travelling to
Mae Sai to ensure their safety. Deputy Foreign Minister Surin
said the Chiang Rai governor was intending to prevent
concerning the confising situation inside Burma.
Meanwhile, a report from Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army (MTA) said
the Burmese government has sent five battalions of infantrymen
and 500 porters from Taunggyi in northern Burma to reinforce
its forward command headquarters at Doi Kor. Some of the
troops and porters have moved further on to Tormor village on
the bank of the Salween river.

The source said the battalion is ready to attack the MTA's
forward troops positioned at Doi Lan. (BP)

The Background

 With the military coup in Burma on 18th September 1988, a new
in the history of brutal army repression on the peace-loving,
pro-democracy people beg an. Students, youth, monks and other
of people who had taken to the stree ts demanding a democratic form
government were branded as "insurgents", "communists", "anti-
national" and the like and were treated as enemies by the junta.
Massive arrests, secret killings and physical as well as mental
torture became the order of the day. It was a period of nightmares
the people belonging to all sect ions and groups of Burmese society.
The houses of activists as well as non-activists wer e raided by the
army personnel at odd hours of the night and thousands were whisked
away . Many more were arrested from buses and other places while
travelling. Martial l aw, banning the gathering of more than five
persons, any kind of procession and ind efinite night curfew, was
proclaimed in the entire country by the self-powered militar y junta
which named itself as State Law and Order Restoration Council

 For a moment an atmosphere of total fear and silence seemed to have
envel oped the country. The massive military crackdown temporarily
silenced the people's outcry for the resignation of the Burma
Socialist Programme Party (BSPP)and the estab lishment of the
multi-party parliamentary democracy & the restoration of basic human
ri ghts and civil liberties. After the September 1988 crackdown even
peaceful and non-viol ent demonstrations and processions became
impossible. As the army resorted to more and more inhuman killings
torture, we realised that our turn might not be far away though we
didn't know how and when.

To the jungles

 As Burma virtually turned into SLORC's killing field, many of us
decided to take up armed struggle against the brutal military
government and its intellig ence, our sole objective remaining the
establishment of a democratic form of government. The merciless
killings, brutal torture from all sides increased our faith in armed 
struggle. Instead of quietly sitting and waiting for our turn to be
arrested, tortured a nd/ or killed we decided to go to the jungles,
get military training and overthrow the mi litary government by
returning the bullets by bullets.

 With such a conviction, thousands of students, youth and monks left
for th e jungles, the bordering areas of the country. We were so
disgusted, depressed a nd pained by the inhuman treatment meted out
innocent people that the only thing in o ur mind was to overthrow
military regime through armed struggle. As we left for th e jungles,
the general plan was to get military training with the help of
n countries, especially western nations for three months or so and
then come back to Burma to fight out the forces of the junta. We
our homes, our parents, near and dear one s for the freedom of our
country. When we left we had little pocket money to travel by bus or
boat to reach our destinations. Many of us had to travel on foot to
the border  areas for many days. Thus, having left everything and
everyone behind, we left for the j ungles with the singular
to make our motherland free. Thousands and thousan ds of students
for the Thai-Burma border areas, particularly to those areas whe re
about ten ethnic minorities have been carrying on the struggle
the Burmese government. In fact, around 8,000 of students, youth,
monks and ex-armymen rea ched the Thai-Burma border areas within a
couple of months after the September 1988 crackdown. Of course, on
their way, many students were arrested by the Burmese army and
intelligence personnel, though their exact numbers and whereabouts
sti ll unknown. Many of them died on their way because of bad
epidemics like malaria and due to shortage of food while travelling
the high mountainous a reas. Besides, about hundreds of students,
youth and monks arrived at the bordering areas of Burma and
where activists from the Arakanese revolutionary groups h ave been
carrying on their struggle.

To India

 During the same period, about one thousand pro-democracy activists
reache d the border areas of India. These activists, mostly very
students and youth, came from the villages and towns of upper Burma
such as Mandalay, Monywa, Sagaing and Ka lay. Those of us who came
the Indo-Burma border areas had high hopes and expecta tions from
government and people of India since they have been consistently ext
ending their support to us in our struggle for the restoration of
democracy and human rights in Burma.

 We already had indications and gestures which made us believe that
India would extend its wholehearted support to our struggle. For
example, during the heat of the nation-wide uprising in 1988 the
Indian Embassy in Rangoon had openly supporte d the pro-democracy
activists, including financial support to some of the student le
aders. When many of these student leaders decided to leave for the
jungles, the India n embassy in Burma gave them money. Moreover, in
October 1988, at the United Nations Gen eral Assembly, the Prime
Minister of India Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao as External Affair s
said, "India had watched with growing concern the trials and tribula
tions faced by the people of Burma with whom the people of India are
bound by close ties o f history and culture".

 Thus about one thousand of students and youth marched to the States
on t he Indo-Burma border with high hopes and expectations of
receiving material and m oral support from the government of India
our struggle for the just cause. Howev er, on reaching the border
areas our hopes and expectations were belied by the practi cal
situations obtaining there. Those of us who had come with the hope
acquirin g military training, arms and ammunition were utterly
frustrated. No arms and ammunition were provided by any governmental
or non-governmental organization. Neither the Indian government nor
any foreign country was prepared to tender a ny support or
even for our survival. We were faced with the totally di fferent
situations-- extremely bad living conditions, wide-spread malaria
across the fo rests and mountains and acute shortage of food and
medicine made our lives miserable. Of course, we note with
appreciation that some of the native Nagas and Kukis did their best
help us.

 There were other serious problems we have had to face on our
on t he Indo-Burma border areas. We all belong to different places
Burma, we had di fferent ideological orientations and organizational
experiences and no leader to guide us.

 However, in spite of these difficulties which contributed to some
initial personal as well as ideological conflicts among ourselves we
resolved to do whatever in our capacity to fulfill our dreams. On
November 1988, the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) was
formed by the students, youth, monks and other pro-democracy
scattered along the Thai-Burma border and Bangladesh-B urma border
areas. The ABSDF became the umbrella organization for the students
carry on the struggle against the military regime and for the
restoration of democra cy and human rights in Burma.

 Most of us who had come to the Indo-Burma border areas reached the
Manipu r and Mizoram States towards the end of 1988. After a few
of our arrival i n India, the Government of India announced that it
would not turn back the student refu gees from Burma and that it
give them shelter as long as their lives were in danger in Burma.
Government of Manipur on its part set up the "Burmese Refugee Camp"
(BRC) at Leikhun in Chandel district. The camp is about 64 Kms a way
from the Indo-Burma border. The Government of Mizoram as well 
established a refugee camp at Champhai which is about 24 Kms from

 In Manipur, we received enormous sympathetic support from the local
peopl e, particularly the "Moreh Merchants Association" and "Sun
Youth Club". Unfortunately, the refugee camps established in Manipur
and Mizoram were virtu ally concentration camps. For example, the
in Manipur was situated inside the Eighth Manipur Rifles compound,
which was fenced by barbed wire and surrounded by arme d soldiers.
None of us was allowed to go out of the camp without the permission
the authorities. The food consisting of a small quantity of rice,
potatoes and pe a and the scanty clothing provided by the
was really insufficient. No medica l care was provided. As time
we all felt like prisoners in a concentration camp.

 Under such conditions, we realised that we could not carry on our
activit ies to fulfill our dream of a just and democratic Burma, a
dream for which we had lef t our home and hearths. Some of our
tried to contact fraternal people outside the camp and also fellow
friends in the Mizoram camp. However, most of them were arrest ed on
their way by the local police personnel. After being illegally kept
for some d ays in police custody they were put into the notorious
"Manipur Central Jail" under t he Foreigners Act. Many of us spent
more than a year in jail without trial. The in tervention of Supreme
Court lawyer Ms Nandita Haksar and Naga human rights activists helpe
d them in their release from the illegal detention.

 On to Delhi

 After getting released from the jail, we approached the United
Nations Hig h Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for help. After
two months of our approach, the UNHCR granted refugee status to many
of us and each person grant ed such status was given a financial
assistance of Rs.830 per month. Even though this amount of financial
assistance cannot be considered adequate, still many of us accepted
it. Even today there are many students and youth who have not been
given refug ee status or provided with financial assistance by the
UNHCR office in New Delhi.

  Beside the financial problems, we had to face other serious
as w ell. First and foremost we had to face accommodation problems.
While many friends, including Members of Parliament, Supreme Court
lawyers and students let us liv e in their houses free, many other
people, because of the difference in ethnic backg round, refused to
rent out their houses to us. We had to face the problems with regar
to food and cultural habits since they are very very different from
those of Delhi. We also had to face communication problems since
of us were conversant in either Hind i or English. In fact, some of
were manhandled and beaten up on the streets and buses of Delhi,
a times due to language problems.

 None of these problems and difficulties could deter us from our
goal since we had been always prepared to give up our education,
career and even our live s for our singular dream, that is, the
restoration of democracy and human rights in our beloved country.
main activities in Delhi have been basically non-violent in nature
had been directed towards carrying on a propaganda warfare against
SL ORC. We wanted the people of India and the international to know
the reality of Bur ma and to realise the seriousness of the
the sufferings of the innocent pe ople under the brutal military
junta's repression and we wished to appeal to all democracy-lo ving
people in India and the rest of the world to extend their moral and
material  support to our cause in real terms. We provide below a
account of the major activiti es and programmes organized at New
during the period 1990 to 1994 in support of our struggle for the
restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma.  OUR ACTIVITIES

 Aiming to inform the people of India about our democratic movement
and the practical conditions under the military regime in Burma, we
have undertaken act ivities like the publication and distribution of
News bulletins, pamphlets and books, t he organization of seminars,
discussions and art exhibitions highlighting our move ment, staging
protest rallies and demonstrations in front of SLORC embassy in New
Del hi on every remarkable day in the history of the polity of
Organising our office in New Delhi

 In the beginning of our arrival in Delhi, as we started trying to
polit ical activities, we didn't have any permanent office. Though
tried to rent a room at a suitable place aiming for the Office, it
not possible for various reasons. Many landlords did not want to
out their places to us. Even a small number of l andlords who agreed
to rent out parts of their houses, objected to our setting up an off
ice which obviously would function as the center of the political
activities for our move ment in Delhi. Apart from the problem of
getting a place for a regular office, we didn' t have the basic
facilities such as a typewriter, a xerox machine or telephone, etc.
and the furniture. However, we were able to carry on our activities
with the help of so me Indian friends who provided their own
furniture, stationery and other facilities. Mr G eorge Fernandes, a
well-known Indian politician and a Lok Sabha Member of Parliament,
extended his unconditional support to our movement by allowing us to
set up an Office in his residence compound, i.e. 3, Krishna Menon
in New Delhi. Moreover, h e allowed us to use his Office facilities
such as telephone, xerox machine, fax machine, stationery and
furniture. Although we started functioning with a manual typewri
a table and a chair in the beginning, after some time it was
with better facilities such as an electric typewriter which was
donated by a diplomat from the Sweden Embassy in New Delhi, some new
furniture and stationery. Besides these, some of our friends in
foreign countries tried to send better equipments for our Office in
New Delhi. The friends in Norway sent a computer and we were able to
buy a laser printer w ith the money donated collectively by the
Burmese democratic forces in Norway, Japan an d USA. Through such a
process, our Office in New Delhi has been set up and made
Meetings, Discussions and Seminars

 After setting up the Office in New Delhi, we started trying to
organize me etings, discussions and seminars informing the people of
India about Burma and our stru ggle for democracy and human rights
our motherland. And we participated in the meet ings and seminars in
India and abroad organized by friends, students, and other org
anizations which sympathize with our movement. We record some of
below. In June 1993 , two leaders of the Burma Students Movement in
India attended the International Socialist Meeting in Nepal,
by the Nepal Students Union and International Union of Socialist
(IUSY). In December 1992, we joined the students and youth from
Asian countries attending the annual meeting of Asian Students
Association (ASA ) held in New Delhi. We attended the National
Conference of the All India Youth League (AIYL) which was held at
Ranchi city of Bihar of India from 18 to 20 September 1993. On 24-25
September 1993, we attended the General Council Meeting of the World
Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) held in New Delhi. A
of the Bu rma Students Movement in India participated at an
International Seminar on human ri ghts situations in the South East
Asian countries that was organized by India's Asso ciation for
Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) in Siliguri on January 27-29,

 Besides participating in meetings and seminars organized by
gr oups and organizations, we ourselves organized a number of
and discussions on Burma in New Delhi, with the support and
of the people of India. Fro m 1991 till today, we have organized a
number of programmes and seminars on Burma such as at India
International Center (IIC), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU),
ution Club, Press Club of India, Janak Puri Janta Quarter Colony and
of course at our Office itself many a times.

Publication of bulletins, pamphlets and posters

 The publication of news bulletins & pamphlets and distribution
the p eople of the other countries has been one of our main
in our propaganda wa rfare against the military dictatorship and for
democracy in Burma. Since the beginni ng of 1992, we have been
publishing the Fist English News bulletin, and the Zar Tee M arn &
Flame Burmese bulletins. These bulletins have clearly helped the
people of In dia and abroad to realise the sufferings of the people
Burma under the inhuman milit ary regime as well as the activities
movement of the Burmese students and youth in India. We also have
constant touch with the media and press of India seeki ng their
support and solidarity. We have regularly contacted and met
journali sts and correspondents and written articles and news about
Burma in the different newsp apers and magazines in India. Through
these news bulletins and media, we made many pe ople of India aware
our existence in India and about our democratic struggle.

 In June 1992, with the help of friends from India, we have been
to le arn the basic knowledge of making screen printing for posters,
pamphlets and other desi gns artistically depicting and highlighting
our struggle against the military dicta torship and for democracy
human rights. We have been distributing and pasting these pos ters
the walls of Delhi and other parts of India.

 Moreover, we have been producing postcards and video tapes which
concerned with our democratic movement. In August 1992, with the
of CENDIT video center in New Delhi we made a 32-minutes long
documentary on Burma titled "Battle for Peace". This video
reveals the political background of Burma, the military's brutal
crackdown on the pro-democracy activists and our activiti es and
movement in India. We have distributed these tapes throughout India
and abroad. The Burma Students Movement in India created greater
awareness and attracted more attention from the people of India and
abroad after this video tape. In July 19 94, we made another video
documentary titled "Far Away From Home," with the facilities
by CENDIT. This video highlights our living conditions of exiled
as well as the activities in New Delhi.  Paintings and Exhibitions

 The Burmese students and youth in India comprise people from all
walks of life such as musicians, lawyers, teachers and artists, etc.
One of them, the artist Ko Sitt Nyein Aye, who is from Mandalay of
Burma, is currently staying in New Delhi alo ng with the Burmese
democratic forces. As a well-known revolutionary artist, he ac
participated in the 1988 nation-wide uprising against the one party
rule and fo r democracy. After the September 1988 military coup, he
left for India and arrive d at the border area of Burma and India.
After staying there for some months, he moved t o New Delhi to join
the Burmese democratic students and youth. With the joining of th e
artist, many paintings have been created, which describe and depict
the culture & tradi tions of Burma, reflections on the junta's
crackdown on the peaceful demonstrator s during the 1988 movement
the people urge for peace, democracy and human rights. Wi th these
paintings, we have been able to organize many Art Exhibitions on
occ asions in New Delhi, giving artistic expression to our struggle
for a just cause.

 In commemoration of the fallen martyrs of the 8.8.88 during the
nation-wid e uprising in Burma, an "Art Exhibition" entitled "Battle
for Peace" was held fro m 6th to 8th August of 1992 at All India
Art and Crafts Society (AIFACS) in New Del hi. This programme was
jointly organized by the Burmese students and Supreme Court lawyer
human rights activist Ms Nandita Haksar. It exhibited 30 oil paintin
gs and attracted a large number of people of Delhi from different
walks of life.

 The "Battle for Peace" (II) "Art Exhibition" was held at Jawaharlal
Nehru University (JNU) on September 18, 1992 to mark the Fourth
Anniversary of the 19 88 military crackdown in Burma.

Signature campaigns and demonstrations

 Amongst our activities in New Delhi, the most visible and important
has be en the staging of protest rallies and demonstrations in front
of the SLORC Embassy in New Delhi on every remarkable day in the
history of the polity of Burma. There are many days in Burma's
which are importantly related to the democratic movemen t in the
country. For example, 8th August of 1988 was the day on which the
nation-wide people's uprising demanding the abolition of one-party
rule and the establishme nt of democratic system broke out in the
country. September 18th of 1988 was the day the military brutally
down the many peaceful demonstrators and took over state power by
d' tet. On July 20, 1989, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house
arre st by the SLORC without formal charges. On December 10th, 1991
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 by
Norwegian Parliament.

 On these days, we regularly express our anguish and anger against
mili tary rule in Burma in the forms of demonstrations, processions,
shouting slogans in front of SLORC Embassy in New Delhi and the
We also submit Memoranda to the SLORC through the Embassy in Delhi,
demanding for the immediate release of Daw Aung S an Suu Kyi and all
other political prisoners, for handing over power to the people 's
representatives who were elected in 1990 May elections. Our demands
were apprec iated and supported by many people and groups in India
is clear from their overwhe lmingly participation in the signature
campaigns organized by us.

 Through these signature and letter campaigns the people of India
dema nded before the Government of India not to have any
diplomatic, econom ic or political with the illegal military regime
Burma and to support the people' s democratic movement in the
neighbouring country and to extend moral and materia l support to
Burmese democratic forces in India.

 Moreover, we have regularly issued press release, writing on the
changing political, economic and social situations in Burma and our
peaceful, democratic activities and movement. Press conferences were
also often organized highlighting our stru ggle for democracy and
against human rights abuses in Burma under the SLORC.  The Burma

 In late 1992 the Burmese students and youth in New Delhi were able
set up a music band called "The Burma Music" with the aim to
cultural festiva ls and for recording of our democratic songs. Many
among us can sing and play musical instruments very well. For us to
able to set up a music band, one Indian fri end, Ms Kamla Basin from
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), donated money to buy
electronic guitars. During the past four years, The Burma Music has
participate d in the programmes of the Burma Students Movement in
India presenting music and democra tic songs to the people of India.

 Apart from the Burmese democratic songs, the songs which highlight
the ric h culture and traditions of Burma have also been composed
presented. Moreover , in 1993, with the help of the "Friends of
group we have produced an audio c assette of the democratic songs in
Burmese at the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. Th rough the
Norway-based radio station, "the Democratic Voice of Burma"(DVB), we
were a ble to transmit these songs into Burma.  Food Festival

 Besides creating awareness about our movement among the people of
India through music and songs, we often organized the Burmese Food
Festivals, selling Burmese dishes prepared by ourselves. These
festivals attracted large numbers o f people of India, besides
generating funds for our political activities in New Delhi. T he
Burmese food has become very popular and it has made our movement
democracy well- known, especially in New Delhi. We also joined in
functions and food melas organized by Indian friends by setting up
Burmese food stalls in New Delhi.

 The Burmese students in Manipur and Mizoram States have established
the te a shops and restaurants selling Burmese food in their
respective places.  Health Care Center

 It is very difficult for us who are refugees under the mandate of
UNHCR to get even simple medical treatment in the hospitals of
UNHCR office provides the basic medical assistance and some amount
money to buy medicines when we fall sick. However, it is not at all
adequate because we are required to go to the UNHCR h ealth care
places during the office hours only. Due to the language and
pro blems, we cannot even go to other hospitals. Therefore, we tried
to set up a clinic by ou r efforts in New Delhi. In July 1993, the
Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) pr ovided medicines and
facilities for setting up the "Burma Health Care Center" in Janak
where many Burmese students and youth are staying. One of us, who is
a medical doctor, having graduated from the Rangoon Medical College,
is handling the heal th care center with the aid of two young
voluntarily. Though this health care center is meant especially for
the Burmese democratic students and youth in New Delhi, it provides
free medical treatment to many Indian citizens who were driven out
m Burma by the Burmese military government in 1962. They have
down at Jan ta Quarter of Janak Puri in New Delhi.  Keeping alive

 Most of the Burmese democratic forces who left the country after
mili tary coup are the young students and youth like us. Besides
far away from our families, relatives and friends, we are away from
the culture, custom and traditions of B urma. However, we try to
alive our traditions and culture by celebrating the tra ditional
festivals and religious occasions while we are staying in exile in
Delhi. F or example, we regularly celebrate the water festival which
is the greatest tradit ional festival for the people of Burma and
other religious festivals such as lighting festival and Christmas
festival in our Burmese society of New Delhi. Moreover, functions
displaying our traditional dresses, our cultural and musical
instruments and th e books on Burma have been regularly organized by
us to let the people of India know about our culture, traditions and
custom.  Welfare

 While we have been staying in Delhi as the recognized refugees by
UNHCR, w e face a lot of living problems and difficulties.UNHCR's
monthly financial assist ance of Rs. 830 per person is obviously
inadequate even to cover the expenditure of foo d and shelter in
Delhi. Without any residential permit and ration card, our living co
st becomes higher. Contributing some amount of money from our
allowance for our regular activities in Delhi makes us further
and we face a lot of day-to -day living problems. We have passed
through periods when even for simple ration like rice, pea, etc...we
have not had even a single paisa. We used to face very bad living
itions without adequate blankets and warm clothes in Delhi's winter
season and even wi thout fan and air cooler during the severe hot
season of Delhi.

 In our efforts at solving these problems and difficulties partly,
tried to get rice, clothes and blankets from the individuals and
non-governmental organizati ons of India that sympathize with our
movement. However, we have not received adequate relief from the
groups and organizations in India, but for some helpful individ
contribution and support. We note with appreciation that the Oxfam
(Trust) Indi a donated rice worth about Rs. 15,000 in 1992 and the
CASA provided 300 blankets to us in New Delhi in 1993.  Educational
Courses: Equipping ourselves for future

 Most of us, the Burmese students and youth, who left the country
after the 1988 military coup were the college and university
However, we were not ab le to complete our schooling due to the
military's closing down of schools and univer sities in Burma after
the coup. During our stay in exile, in our effort to be part of the
larger struggle against the military dictatorship and for the
restoration of democracy in our motherland, we have been trying to
acquire knowledge and continue our studies as possible as we can in
India. We believe that our education and acquired knowled ge at this
time will surely be of benefit for our country when we establish the
democ ratic system after overthrowing the military dictatorship. As
the future of Burma mai nly relies upon the our generation, we need
equip ourselves with the requisite knowledg e and education.

 When we left our country, we were not able to bring the educational
certif icates and documents along with us. Therefore, we cannot join
the colleges and univers ities in India. However, we have joined
certain vocational and educational courses such as Computer, Office
Management and Air Ticketing in different private institutions in
Delhi. We have also attended different courses like Human Rights
training, Soci al Analysis, health training and video training in
other parts of India. The expen diture for the courses were met by
financial assistance from individual Indian friends as also from
office in New Delhi, YMCA (New Delhi), VHAI (New Delhi), Indian
Institute (New Delhi), Indian Social Institute (Bangalore) and ACHAN
(Ma dras).

 Besides these courses, we have also attended both basic and
cours es in English language with audio-video facilities. The
of Burma" (India) , the Open Society Fund (USA) and Lady Susan Fenn
helped us in organizing the English classes.

Raising Funds

 It is very difficult for us staying in exile to sustain the
and c arry out various activities with the meagre funds collected
some individual sympath izers in India. We always face shortage of
money though we want to launch many programme s and activities
to our movement. Therefore, we have had fund raising dri ve
with the help of Indian friends. We have organized Burmese food sell
ing, presentation of musical evenings at the hiring of friends from
India. We have b een selling paintings by renowned Burmese
pro-democracy artist Ko Sitt Nyein Aye at the various Art
producing and selling of T Shirts, postcards, audio an d video
cassettes related to our democratic movement to raise funds as well
for draw ing public attention towards the plight of people in Burma
under the military regime.  Support and Solidarity of the people of

 Officially the Government of India has supported our movement and
demanded the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political
prisoners in severa l national and international fora. On 15th March
1993, Mr Dinesh Singh, the Minister of Ex ternal Affairs, Government
of India stated in the Lok Sabha that "we have repeatedly c alled
the Government of Myanmar both on our own and in consonance with
lik e- minded countries, to release immediately and unconditionally
the Nobel laureate Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi. The latest instance of our
efforts in this direction was the support extended by us by a UN
Resolution on the situation in Myanmar in December 1992, calling on
that country to restore democracy and release Mrs. Suu Kyi."

 In spite of such supportive statements by members of the Indian
Government , the real attitude has been ambivalent. we have not
received any material or financi al support either directly from the
Government of India or any other governmental agencies in New Delhi.
In sharp contrast to such ambivalent stance of the Government of
India, we have received extensive support from the people of India
belonging to all walks of l ife, such as, lawyers, musicians,
journalists, students, political and human rights activ ists,
of Parliament, trade union leaders, teachers as well as from several
no n- governmental organizations.

 On 10th November 1991, two Rangoon University students hijacked a
plane of Thai International Airway from Bangkok to Calcutta to draw
the international at tention to the plight of the Burmese people
crying for democracy and human rights in Bu rma. After the nine-hour
hijacking drama during and after which the struggle of the people of
Burma for peace, democracy and human rights was echoed throughout
world, th e two students gave themselves up to the Indian
They were arrested under the Anti- Hijacking Act and sent to the Dum
Dum Central Jail in Calcutta. However, the pe ople of West Bengal
extended their unconditional support to the Burmese students and the
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), an active human rights
organization, provided two High Court Lawyers to fight the cases.
Besides providing legal ass istance to the Burmese students, the
extended moral and material support to these young students while
were in the jail. After staying for three months in the jai l, these
two Burmese students were released on bail with the support of the
people of India many asking for their release. Quite importantly, 38
Members of Parliament signed th e letter requesting the Prime
of India to give them political asylum in India.

 Leaders of the various political parties and statesmen of India
expressed their solidarity with our struggle for democracy in Burma
a meeting of the "India- Myanmar Friendship Society" held at New
on 20th June 1990. In his impassioned ina ugural address, Mr P.N
Haksar, the eminent statesman and former Deputy Chairman of Planning
Commission, characterised the Burmese people's struggle in the
of a "century of turbulence and massive awakening to the cause of
human liberty." "T ied not only by history but by geography and
aspirations, Indians should rejoice in the fact that the people of
Burma are overwhelmingly asserting their desire for lib erty and
political democracy," Mr Haksar said. However, he expressed his
disappointment over the fact that many Burmese who had crossed over
into Mizoram as a result of the recent upheaval had not received the
attention they deserved. He also asserted that In dia's support to
Burma at this critical juncture was a duty not only to the people of
Burma, but to itself.

 Mr. K.R. Narayanan, a former Ambassador to Burma, and later the
President of India, was then the Convener of the Meeting. In his
opening addres s, Mr Narayanan pointed to the close ties between
and Burma in the struggle aga inst British imperialism. With the
military still a strong force in Burma, he said, "it was the special
task of Indians to extend their support for the democratic processes
no w being initiated in that country." Others who spoke at the
included Mr Yashwan t Sinha, the General Secretary of the Janata
Mr Indrajit Gupta, General Secretary o f CPI, Mr Saifuddin
MP (CPM), Mr Jaswant Singh of the BJP, Dr Gopal Singh, former
of Goa and Nagaland, Dr Malavika Karlekar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's
classmate at Oxford, and Prof. M.S Agwani then Vice-Chancellor of
Jawaharlal Nehru University. All expressed their firm support to our
struggle f or democracy and vowed to offer their continued support
till an independent democr atic government came to power.

 Our struggle for democracy got a further boost when Daw Aung San
Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 10th December 1991 by the
Norwegian Parliament. On that day, Norwegian Nobel Committee called
her as one of the mos t extraordinary examples of civil courage in

 Conferring of the Nobel Peace Prize to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was
greet ed warmly by the people of India. "The news has been greeted
with joy and pride throughout India. It is a most timely and an apt
recognition of the non-violent struggle launched by the people of
Myanmar (Burma) for democracy and respect for human r ights under
able leadership of Ms Suu Kyi," said the Prime Minister of India, Mr
P.V. Narasimha Rao, welcoming the award.

 On 24th February 1992, the Lady Shri Ram College, where Daw Aung
Suu Kyi did her studies in 1960s, felicitated her and lauded her
in the people 's struggle for restoration of human rights in Burma.
The Indo-Burma (Myanmar) Friendship Society organised a function to
felicitate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in absentia in New Delhi on 6th
November 1992. Speaking at the function, former Minister of State
External Affairs, Mr Natwar Singh said that if the Burmese
continued to debar the elected representatives from running the
country, the Indian governme nt should recall its Ambassador from
Myanmar. He urged the Indian government to snap diplomatic relations
with the Burmese government if the latter continued the in
of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The gathering adopted a resolution
regret o ver the fact that despite acts of barbarism on the Burmese
people, the Indian gover nment had been discussing with the Burmese
military regime to expand trade and other ties between the two

 In India, we have been very pleased by the supportive attitude and
solidar ity shown by the students of India. After our August Art
Exhibition at AIFACS in Ne w Delhi the students from Jawaharlal
University rendered their wholehearte d support to us by offering to
sponsor a programme at JNU. Along with the Initia tive for Democracy
in Burma (JNU) we were able to hold an Art Exhibition, a Symposium o
n Burma, and sale of Burmese food and a cultural programme at JNU on
September 1 8, 1992 to mark the Fourth Anniversary of the 1988
military crackdown. The JNU students joined the programme in large
numbers and thronged the stall selling Burmese dishes prepared by
ourselves in the lush green lawns of the JNU academic compl ex in
large numbers, expressing their solidarity with our movement.

 Apart from the support of the students from Jawaharlal Nehru
University we have been able to achieve the unanimous support of
student bodies in In dia. On 30th November 1992, a meeting entitled
Indian students in solidarity with the struggle for democracy and
human rights in Burma was jointly organized by the various Indian
students' organizations : AISF, AISB, CJD, SFI and NUSI at Indi a
International Center (IIC) in New Delhi. At the meeting the Indian
student organizations adopted a resolution in which they expressed
"deep concern" over the continuation of the military rule in Burma
violation of human rights by th e junta. They urged the Burmese
military junta to free all political prisoners and dema nded the
restoration of democracy. Many well known Members of Parliament from
various political parties of India also attended the meeting and
delivered speeches. S hri V.C Shukla (Minister of Water Resources
I.N.C), Shri Saifuddin Choudhary M.P (CPM) , Shri Sushil
(R.S.P), Shri S. Jaipal Reddy M.P (Janata Dal) and pre sidents and
general secretaries of Indian students bodies were among the
participants. On the occasion, the following resolutions were moved
the Con vener of the Initiative for Democracy in Burma, JNU, New

1.  The Government of India should snap all diplomatic relations
SLORC. 2.  The Government of India should give diplomatic
to the National

 Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). 3.  The
Government of India must provide moral and material support to the 
Burmese refugees residing in India. None of the refugees should be
deported. 4.  The Government of India should take necessary steps to
expel SLORC from t he  membership of NAM.

 In the early years of our arrival in India, different groups and
organiza tions were set up by us because of personal and ideological
differences, and, for t he weaknesses in practising the democratic
norms and principles and also due to l ack of experience. However,
times passed, these groups had to come together into a single
strengthening the understanding and unity among ourselves. As a resu
lt, for the first time, all the Burma students organizations in
jointly organize d Save Burma from Civil War programme in Delhi
starting from 4th to 9th January 1993 in order to boycott the Sham
National Convention convened by the military regime. As part of the
programme, all the Burma students' organizations and All Burma You
Monks'Union (Arakan) jointly organized an exhibition of paintings,
photographs and posters at the Press Club of India, New Delhi. The
paintings, posters and the

 photographs very touchingly depicted the heroic struggle for
democracy and hum an rights by all sections of people in Burma and
also the brutal, atrocious and i nhuman crackdown by the military
junta. The exhibition was inaugurated by the eminent  and elderly
statesman, Mr. P.N. Haksar.

 We have received help from a specific section of Indian peoples in
tackli ng our day to day living problems. Many thousands of Indians
who were driven out from Burma by the Burmese military government in
1962 have settled in New Delhi. In 1962, after overthrowing an
democratic government led by U Nu, the coup lead er U Ne Win and his
"Revolutionary Council" according to their "Burmese way to Soci
nationalized all industries including the properties owned by the
Indians with out compensation. These Indians were sent back to India
in and after 1962.

 Thousands of them have settled down at Janta Quarters of Janak Puri
situa ted in West Delhi. These Indian citizens have very high regard
for the peoples of Burma. They also understand the customs, cultures
and also Burmese language. They tr eat us as their own relatives,
and daughters and they help us in many effective ways, solving our
to day living problems and difficulties.

 On 12th February 1993, we, under the banner of Indo-Burma
Foru m, organized the 4th anniversary of the Union Day of Burma at
Janta Quarter of Ja nak Puri where most of the Burmese students and
Indian expatriates have been staying. T he function included a
meeting, cultural presentations and sale of Burmese food. Hundreds
Indian expatriates apart from the Burmese democratic forces in Ne w
Delhi enthusiastically participated at the public meeting. Speaking
the mee ting, the participants expressed their strong and determined
support and solidarity to o ur democratic movement and pledged to
extend their humanitarian support to the st udents and youth from
Burma during their stay in New Delhi to the best of their capac ity.

"The Gong of Burma" programme ,jointly organized by the Manushi, a
women's journal and India International Center , was held at IIC
Auditorium, N ew Delhi from September 3rd to 5th of 1993. The
programme included an exhibition of paintings by Ko Sitt Nyein Aye,
panel discussion on Burma, music presentatio n and Burmese food
festival, providing glimpses of the social, cultural and politica l
milieu of Burma. Moreover, there was a Slide Show on Burma which was
presented by Lady Susan Fenn, who has spent several years in Burma
when her husband was posted t here as British High Commissioner. The
programme was inaugurated by Ms Maneka Gandh i. The paintings were
sale in raising funds for the activities of the democrat ic movement
launched by the Burmese students and youth in Delhi. Half of the
tings exhibited were sold in two days of the programme. Eminent
personalities partic ipated in the panel discussion which was
by former diplomat and well-known jou rnalist Mr Kuldip Nayar. The
panelists focussed on the political situation in Burma, i ts
historical background and the plight of the Burmese people under the
barbaric regime of the military junta. The Burmese military
government, SLORC, became the focu s of condemnation by all
Prominent among the speakers were former Indian diplomat Mr I.P
Professor Dr. Baladas Ghoshal from JNU, Dr. Malavikar Karlekar from
Centre for Women's Development Studies, who is also a classmate of
Aung San Suu Kyi, Sir Nicholas Fenn, a former British High
Commissioner to Burma and Ko Soe Myint of Burma Students League.

 During our various programmes and activities undertaken for the
restorati on of democracy and human rights in our motherland, we
strengthened our solidar ity and friendship with other struggling
people and groups fighting for freedom and de mocracy in their own
countries. The people of Tibet have been struggling for their fre
from Chinese occupation through non-violent ways for many years. In
Delhi, the Tibe tan Youth Congress has been organizing different
programmes to inform the people o f the world about the plight of
Tibetan people under Chinese occupation.

 On December 10, 1993, we, the Burmese students and youth in New
and the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) jointly organised a
programme to ma rk the World Human Rights Day. The protest rallies
both in front of SLORC Embassy and Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, the
Candle-light peace procession in honour of t hose who sacrificed
lives for freedom and a cultural get together were part o f the
two-day programme. About 150 India-based Burmese students and
of RTYC  participated in the programme.

 Besides organising these different kinds of programmes and
in Delhi, we have travelled to other States of India. During such
visits to other States , we have been meeting local people including
students, social workers and leaders of po litical organizations. We
also have been organizing press conferences, publicising abo ut our
democratic movement in Burma. We have got tremendous support and
solidarity fr om the people belonging to all parts of India. During
the past three years, we travelled to Calcutta, Madras, Bhopal,
Bangalore, Mysore, Siliguri and the North Eastern St ates, setting
solidarity network with the people of India. 

Kt. B