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Net News: June 25, 1995 [#191]
- Subject: Net News: June 25, 1995 [#191]
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- Date: Sun, 25 Jun 1995 04:04:00
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------------------------- BurmaNet ---------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: 25 June 1995
NATION: MILITARY RESHUFFLE POINTS TO EXTENDED STAY FOR SLORC
NATION: THE UN SHOULD HAVE NO QUALMS IN EXPELLING BURMA
BKK POST:SURIN DISMISSES BURMESE BOYCOTT OF THAI PRODUCTS
THE NATION:NONTHABURI POLICE RAID NETS 15 BURMESE
TORONTO STAR (CANADA): BURMA CAMPAIGN
NATION: FORMER CLASSMATE OF GENERALS LAMENTS PATH CHOSEN BY PEERS
NATION: THE UN SHOULD HAVE NO QUALMS IN EXPELLING BURMA
The UN should have no qualms in expelling Burma
US Congressman Bill Richardson is, perhaps, the latest but
certainly not the last to have describe the very bleak picture of
the overall political and human rights situation in Burma.
"There is serious repression, regression, and retrenchment by
Slorc in the areas of human rights and democratization since the
first half of this year", said the Democratic Representative from
New Mexico after a brief two-day visit to Burma, his third since
His depiction resembles those of exiled Burmese apposition and
ethnic movements, and most of all of the silent Burmese majority
whose freedoms of speech and expression has been severely
suppressed since 1962.
In May 1990, over 80 percent of the Burmese populace rose up in
defiance to vote wholeheartedly to replace the dictatorial rule
of nearly three decades with the budding three-year-old National
League for Democracy(NLD) of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
The Burmese people showed the military junta that Suu Kyi was
still popular despite unlawful house arrest a year earlier.
The NLD leaders only crime is her bold challenge and unbridled
criticism of the heavy-handed policy of the armed forces, which
her father build up in the late 1940s at the height of the
The 1991 Nobel peace prize laureate, who refused to negotiate her
conditional release, declines to be submissive to those who have
tried to silence her by imprisonment and separation from her
loved ones. She also urges the Burmese people not to give up
their aspirations for freedom and democracy in the face of
intimidation and physical and mental harassment.
Despite some promising developments in 1992 and 1993, the ruling
State Law and Order Council(SLorc) has reverted back to its
aggressive and arrogant behavior. In 1994, there were more
arbitrary arrests and detentions and gross violations of human
Also there was a resumption of military offensive against armed
ethnic Karen guerrillas despite Slorc's unilateral ceasefire
declaration in 1992.
The latest known case is the abrupt arrest and detention on June
2 of NLD leader U Kyi Maung, who was released on March 31 after
nearly five years in prisons, on charges that he met with
diplomats and foreign journalists.
Following the June 2 arrest, the 76-year-old leader was released
after a week of interrogation.
Other reports on forced relocation and internal displacement of
people on a wide scale continued to come out of the country
According to last year's UN human rights report, over one million
Burmese have been forcibly relocated, without compensation, to
new towns, villages or relocation camps or have been internally
displaced owing to armed conflict with various insurgents groups.
Moreover, forced relocations and eviction have also been reported
in connection with the Slorc's major development projects.
Two other case of serious regression are the Slorc's about-face
on its promise to allow the Geneva based International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to Burmese prisons, and its
refusal to release and hold more talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.
In March, the ICRC was officially informed that is requests to
visit political detainees in prisons were rejected despite an
earlier positive response.
ICRC further efforts to persuade Rangoon to reconsider its
decisions have failed. Slorc leader Lt Gen Khin Nyunt reportedly
informed the Red Cross' regional representative during a meeting
on Monday in Rangoon that its access to political prisoners in
jails would be "unconstitutional".
After two rounds of highly publicized talks with Suu Kyi last
September and October, the junta has refused to hold more
dialogues with her.
Worst of all, her detention was extended by another six months
when her term for house arrest ended in January. Recently the
Slorc leadership has publicly made it clear that she would not be
released on July 19, the six year of her house arrest. Under
Burma's Laws, a person can not be confined for more than six
In a further indication of Slorc's cruelty, Suu Kyi husband Dr.
Michael Aris was not granted an entry visa when he applied for it
Progress has yet to be made towards the establishment of multi-
party democracy in Burma.
The drafting of the new national constitution, a show by Slorc to
thwart international criticism, has just dragged on since the
first meeting in 1993.
The Slorc has never given any indication when the constitution
drafting process will be completed, thus allowing the junta to
continue its rule of terror in the country.
To consolidate its power, Slorc last week announced a Cabinet
reshuffle, in which more Army Generals were brought into the
government. The move is seen as a mare disguise for military
officers to take up civil duties.
The reshuffle has given credence to the theory that hardliners in
the junta are now full control of Burma's national affairs.
So far the Slorc has been able to call the bluff of the
international community. The Rangoon military junta's changing
attitude and conduct are attributed largely to the support and
credentials bestowed upon them by its super power mentor and arms
suppliers, China, who also share the same brutal record of
torturing its own people.
China was the first country to recognize the Slorc which rose to
power in a violent coup in September, 1988.
In return, Slorc was the first government to support China after
the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. By having China, one of the
five permanent members of the UN Security Council, as its closely
ally, Slorc is confident that the Asian giant could help deflect
any international pressure on Burma.
Although Burma has not been a priority on the international
agenda, the gross human rights violations and the continuing
political repression there cannot be ignored by the world.
Also, the SLorc's recent open hostility and aggressiveness
against neighbouring Thailand, which is one of its strong
defenders, could jeopardize peace and stability in South East
United Nation Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who has
been mandated by the General Assembly to look into ways to
improve the situation in Burma, has to seriously consider
measures that would help bring about positive and genuine changes
in the country.
His good office has to send Slorc a clear message that the
junta's aggressiveness and complete disrespect for human rights
will no longer be tolerated.
As such, clear deadlines will have to be set.
The UN, where the Slorc is still recognized, will have to adopt a
cumulative policy with a time frame to pressure Slorc to give in
to popular Burmese demands. Perhaps July 19 should be the date
for the beginning of the series of harsh sanctions on Burma. If
Suu Kyi is not released by that deadline, the UN should come up
with a strong open condemnation of Rangoon junta.
If Slorc is still intransigent in its behaviour, there should be
no qualms in initiating action to unseat the junta's
representation at the world's body. Slorc is an illegitimate
government, and the UN has every right to expel it.
NATION: MILITARY RESHUFFLE POINTS TO EXTENDED STAY FOR SLORC
New appointments seen as a move to pre-empt factionalism from
eroding general's power base, Aung Zaw reports.
Pro-democracy forces in Rangoon have long believed that a power
struggle among the top generals in the Burmese armed forces held
one of their best hopes for change.
However, a cabinet reshuffle on June 15 suggests that the ruling
Slorc junta is moving to rid itself of any cliques that might
threaten its grip on power. This is the first reshuffle since
September, 1992 when at least six powerful army commanders were
appointed as cabinet ministers.
The latest members of the cabinet are six senior army commanders.
One of them is army operations commanders Lt Gen Maung Hla, who
will head the newly-formed Immigration and Population Ministry.
This is seen as a promotion for Maung Hla, who led the operations
against ethnic Karen insurgents. Central region commander Maj-Gen
kyaw Than has assumed the post of light industry minister, while
northeast commander Brig-Gen Aye Kyaw has taken over as
information minister. It is believed that his predecessor, Lt Gen
Myo Thant, was transferred to the prime minister's office.
Southern commander Maj Gen Soe Myint is the new social welfare,
relief and resettlement minister while eastern commander Maj Gen
Saw Tun assumes the post of construction minister. Army
quartermaster Lt Gen Min Thein has been appointed minister in the
office of the Slorc chairman. Other appointments not announced in
public include the designation of Col Khin Maung Than as Rangoon
commander and Lt Gen Myo Nyunt as religious minister.
Some ex-army officers believe that the reshuffle signals a subtle
transfer of power since Slorc chairman Gen Than Shwe and other
top military officers are believed to be contemplating
retirement. Whatever the case, no one can deny that Slorc has
gained more confidence and is obviously preparing to stay in
power for several more years.
A former army officer, who is now based in Thailand, suggested
that the Tatmadaw is even stronger than before. "They are a
cohesive unit" he said. Former army captain Khin Maung Nyunt, who
joined U Nu's resistance group in the 1970s said." Never
underestimate the Tatmadaw. The Burmese armed forces is one of
the best in region."
But Khin Maung Nyunt, who among the few Burmese who graduated
from West Point and was in the army for 12 years, stressed that
Secretary One Lt Gen Khin Nyunt is the one who calls the shots. "
This is similar to Ne Win's system. Ne Win always relied on
intelligence services," he noted. "Khin Nyunt's duty is to report
what is happening to the country and to implement the senior
officer's decisions," he said.
Nevertheless, he hastened to add that Slorc's current system has
one slight difference from that of Ne Win. He suggested that
Slorc may be practising a "collective leadership system."
Obviously, the top leaders do not want regional commanders to
stay in their respective areas of responsibility too long as they
might be able to build a power base. This is totally different
from Ne Win's system, although Khin Maung Nyunt said regional
commanders are more powerful than ministers.
"Slorc's leaders are wary of regional commanders. They don't want
them to form their own spheres of influence as this could lead to
divisions," he said.
Many ex-military officers joined the 1988 democracy uprising. For
instance, National League for Democracy chairman Tin Oo served as
defence minister in 70's. Kyi Maung, who was interrogated
recently, is a retired colonel. Most of the 30 army officers who
received military training from Japan to fight the British during
World War II are members of several resistance groups, including
the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) . Analysts said many of the
elite military and intelligence officers who left the Burmese
army when the civil war broke out in 1948 either joined CPB,
ethnic armed groups or U Nu's resistance group. Only one stayed
behind: Gen Ne Win.
As to whether there is a split now in the Tatmadaw, Khin Maung
Nyunt said this was just a rumour.
'Burma's generals will not tolerate any dissent," he emphasized.
After Slorc took power in 1988, Signboards appeared throughout
the country and they all read: "No matter who tries to divide us,
we will always remain united."
But Canada-based writer Myint Shwe said there are signs that
Slorc's favorite slogan is wearing thin on some officers. In any
case, democracy-seeking Burmese agree that change in the Tatmadaw
is important. Many maintain the hope that liberal minded soldiers
will be able to topple the hardliners.
SURIN DISMISSES BURMESE BOYCOTT OF THAI PRODUCTS
22 JUNE 1995
Acting Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan yesterday brushed aside
Burma's campaign to boycott Thai products in Myawaddy in
favour of those from China, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
He said the campaign was just another indication of Burma's
scepticism over Thailand's policy of not interfering in its
internal conflicts with ethnic groups.
Mr Surin maintained that Bangkok will not take its problems
with Burma to the international level even though relations
between the two have continued to deteriorate following a
series of border incursions and Burma's order to suspend
construction of the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge.
However, he admitted being surprised at receiving a report
from the Thai Embassy in Rangoon, informing him of the
Anti-Thai leaflets, reportedly produced in Rangoon, were
recently handed out to public and civil servants, with posters
also being put up in the eastern Burmese border town opposite
Mae Sot District.
Businessmen in Mae Sot suspect the move was initiated to help
promote local products manufactured in Burma by foreign
investors from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
"It will take time before Burma can resolve its internal
problems," Mr Surin said. "We'll try to use mechanisms at all
levels as we must resolve the problem."
He said past and present issues between Thailand and Burma
would not affect Bangkok's policy to promote unity,
reconciliation and understanding in the region so as to
attract foreign trade and investment for regional prosperity.
Neither will these issues have an effect on the decision by
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to invite Burma to
attend the annual meeting of its foreign ministers in Brunei
next month as a "guest of the host," Mr Surin said.
Meanwhile relations at the local level between Mae Sot and
Myawaddy have become tense after the Burmese placed bunkers on
the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge over the Moei River.
A large number of sandbags were placed on the Burmese side of
the bridge . Construction of the bridge has been suspended
since early this month.
The Myawaddy authorities deployed 100 people to build a rock
dyke encroaching into the river, a bunker around a bridge
pillar and a row of stakes in the river to weaken the current.
Thai local authorities asked the Burmese to explain, but no
answer has been received.
The Burmese earlier asked the Thai contractor to stop
constructing the bridge because they are not happy with some
work extending into the water on the Thai side of the river.
The river is regarded as a border line and Burma contends that
no construction should be allowed on the river which causes
the current to change. Building of the dyke appears to be a
retaliatory measure. (BP)
NONTHABURI POLICE RAID NETS 15 BURMESE
22 JUNE 1995
Fifteen ailing Burmese refugees including a severely
handicapped man, two pregnant women and four babies were
rounded up by police early yesterday morning from a house in
The 1 am raid followed a tip-off from neighbours who were
annoyed by a disturbance in the middle of the night caused by
a mentally ill Burmese woman at the refuge. The house was
being utilized as a place for them to recuperate or await
The detainees were taken to Pak Kret police station, where
they remained, according to relief workers.
The handicapped man was identified as Moe Kyaw, who recently
lost both his eyes and hands in a landmine explosion.
Released after treatment at a border hospital, he arrived in
Bangkok about two weeks ago for a medical check-up and to see
whether he could receive a cornea transplant and be fitted
with prosthesis, said the workers.
Moe Kyaw was not registered by the UN High Commission for
Refugees as a person at risk.
Three other people, all suffering from tuberculosis and
infected with HIV, were in poor physical condition and could
not walk at the time of the arrest. Two other men have broken
The workers said the house served mainly as a temporary refuge
for sick Burmese recuperating or awaiting medical treatment.
It was not known if the group would be charged and processed
as illegal immigrants or be released because of their
illnesses. Pak Kret police could not be reached for comment.
In another development, Burmese students at the Police
Academy's Special Detention Centre (SDC) have charged Thai
authorities with contributing to the death of a 25-year-old
who suffered a brain illness.
Zaw Zaw, who was among a group of 66 students detained at the
SDC after attempting a protest march over a riot at the
Burmese student camp, died on June 13 while undergoing
emergency medical treatment at the Police Hospital in Bangkok.
An aid worker said Zaw Zaw was known to have long suffered a
brain problem and had twice before been sent to the hospital
The students blame police ignorance and lack of "humanitarian
sympathy" towards Zaw Zaw, and the Interior Ministry for its
"stern and unbending" policy towards Burmese students.
They said they expected to collect Zaw Zaw's body soon and
would try to hold a funeral this week. (TN)
TORONTO STAR (CANADA): BURMA CAMPAIGN
June 23, 1995
In a University of Toronto office, an 84 year old mathematician, Israel
Halperin, pursues human rights-collecting signatures of Nobel laureates
and other supporters on behalf of political prisoners. The voice of his
bulletin, reaching thousands, has added to the international clamor that
ultimately saw some of them free.
He is currently devoted to the cause of Aung San Suu Kyi, 50, the
courageous Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner enduring her sixth years of
house arrest under the brutal military regime.
Like the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa and free Nelson
Mandela, there's a groundswell of activity toward Suu Kyi's release and
the restoration of human rights in Burma,-renamed Myanmar by the junta
that arrested her and bloodily crushed the democratic movement she led.
Canada has called on the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)
government to release her and all political prisoners. Canada has
co-sponsored similarly worded resolutions in the United Nations General
Assembly and the U.N Commission for Human Rights.
But critics say curbs on growing trade and investment in Burma are
needed. SLORC boasts foreign investment of $2.4 billion since 1988.
They decry the recent statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Andre'
Ouellet, that current Liberal policy no longer links trade with human
The argument of " constructive engagement " to justify trade for boosting
a destitute area, doesn't wash in Burma where profits and jobs go to the
corrupt military and a supportive elite. Nothing has trickled down to the
people, among the world's poorest and subject to slave labor.
French gas company Total, in partnership with California based Unocal
also operates, protests include pressure against Consumer's Gas and B.C.
Gas, which buy Unocal gas. Critics say villages have been forcibly
re-located to make way for the pipeline and thousands conscripted,
unpaid, to build an accompanying railway.
Two Canadian companies doing business in Burma, co-operating with SLORC,
are Northern Telecom (Nortel), which has sold cellular phones to the city
of Mandalay, and Ivanhoe Capital Corporation, a B.C.-based copper and
gold mining firm.
PepsiCo, which owns many companies and food products-including Pepsi,
Frito-Lay, Doritos, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC-has been object of a
growing boycott for its heavy presence in Burma with two bottling plants
and sponsorship of trade fairs.
Many companies have bailed out of Burma after shareholders pressure and
consumer complaints: Eddie Bauer, Liz Claiborne and Macy's, which had
contracted manufacturing under their labels to Burmese factories owned by
Petro-Canada left Burma in 1992. Jeans giants Levi Strauss & Co. pulled
out ahead of pressure. If Suu Kyi, who once stared down gun-toting
soldiers until their order to shoot was countermanded, inspires any
message, its this: We, too, can take a stand for
Toronto Lawyer Paul Copeland is spearheading a campaign to get Toronto
City Council, and eventually Metro Council, to stop buying from firms
that do business in Burma.
Such "selective purchasing " law was passed in Berkeley, Cal., and is
pending in Seattle and the state of Massachusetts. The motions comes
before city council this July 17. You can write to the
executive members at the Councillor's Office, City Hall, 2nd floor, 100
Queen St. W., Toronto, M5H 2N2 or fax them at 392-1050. Mayor Barbara
Hall has also been asked to designate July 19 or 20 as a day to honour
Suu Kyi with a demonstration in Nathan Phillips Square.
Canadian Friends of Burma has a sticker customers can put on their
Consumer's Gas payments to protest buying from Unocal-100 stickers for $4
mailed to Canadian friends of Burma, 145 Spruce St., Suite 206, Ottawa,
K1R 6P1. Call 613-237-8056 for information.
You can join their letter-writing campaign urging that Canada oppose
investment in Burma, before Ouellet attends the Aug. 2 Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Brunei. Address: The Minister
of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Andre' Ouellet, House of Commons, Ottawa K1A
0A6 (no stamp needed).
NATION: FORMER CLASSMATE OF GENERALS LAMENTS PATH CHOSEN BY PEERS
The Nation/ 23.6.95
AUNG ZAW reports.
If Cap Khin Maung Nyunt was still in the Tatmadaw today, he would
probably be a regional commander or one of Slorc's top generals.
After 12 years in the Burmese armed forces. Capt Khin Nyunt went
to the jungle not to take on ethnic insurgents or other rebel
groups, but to support them in their struggle against Gen Ne
Win's regime. He joined U Nu's resistance in 1972.
Life on the other side proved to be bitter. Khin Maung Nyunt
subsequently left U Nu's group and has since settled in northern
Thailand. But his revolutionary spirit has not died.
He believes that the Tatmadaw faces serious credibility problems.
Its dignity and glory have been squandered and reform is urgently
His former classmates include Maung Aye, Htun Kyi, Nyan Linn,
Maung Maung, Tin Aye and Than Oo. In 1955, the first batch of the
Defense Service Academy(DSA) began training at Ba Htoo Training
School. In 1957 they moved to Maymyo, or Pyin Oo Lwin, near
But now he and the rest of them are on opposing sides. Gen Maung
Aye is Slorc vice chairman, Lt Gen Maung Maung is minister for
livestock and fisheries, while Lt Gen Htun Kyi is the trade
Khin Maung Nyunt's closest associates were Maung Aye and Nyan
Linn. We were together for four years, he recalled. However, Khin
Maung Nyunt and his powerful friends now have totally different
visions for the future of their country.
He believes that the Slorc-sponsored national convention is
leading nowhere and that national reconciliation is far from
being achieved. He also voiced disagreement with the Tatmadaw's
leading role in politics.
The Tatmadaw's main duties are to defend the country and to
protect the people. This was an important lesson we learned at
military school, he said. However, he added that he was willing
to participate in the convention as long as national
reconciliation, democracy, basic human rights and peace were
I don't think the Tatmadaw's has the capability to govern the
country. Only the elected representatives should have that
responsibility, he said.
Soldiers are not trained to look after education, social welfare,
health, economy and foreign affairs, he added.
He recalled Gen Ne Win's so-called socialist regime.
What happened when they carried out these functions despite
having no knowledge of it? Khin Maung Nyunt asked.
We all know what happened to Burma after Ne Win's 26-years rule.
The Tatmadaw should learn from its mistakes," he emphasized.
Khin Maung Nyunt said Gen Ne Win was the one who betrayed the
Tatmadaw. Burma was enjoying its independence until the 1962
One of the Tatmadaw's main tasks is to promote and cultivate
democracy. But Ne Win was more interested in staying in power,
said Khin Maung Nyunt.
He urged his former friends and other soldiers to follow Gen Aung
San's path. Gen Aung San was one of the 30 who founded the
Tatmadaw and later became Burma's leader. Aung San had repeatedly
stressed to his subordinates that one of the army's main roles
was to protect democracy. But he and his associates were
assassinated just before Burma regained independence from the
British in 1948. His daughter Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently
under house arrest in Rangoon.
Khin Maung Nyunt says the Tatmadaw is at the crossroads again,
Will they follow Ne Win's path and continue holding on to power
through repression and terrorism? he asked.