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BurmaNet News: June 28, 1995 [#192]

------------------------- BurmaNet ---------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: 28th June 1995
Issue #192


"She has endured six long years solitary detention without 
trial at the hands of Burma's military regime. There is no 
sign at all of her release. We resolutely oppose political 
oppression disguised as criminal detention."

11 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates on the Detention of 




===== item =====

by Christina Fink
Co-editor, The BurmaNet News

(The information presented here was obtained from personal 
observations and interviews with several people who cannot be 

	Why Aung San Suu Kyi's book is entitled "Freedom From Fear" 
becomes clear after even a short trip to Rangoon.  Everyone in 
Rangoon is living in a state of fear, not knowing who is an 
informer and who is a friend.  No one is happy with the 
government, but virtually no one dares to oppose SLORC either.  
It is extremely 
difficult to organize people, because SLORC agents have 
every university, pagoda, government office, and large 
	Besides the dense surveillance network, the constant 
presence on the streets from Rangoon effectively deters mass 
protests.  SLORC troops, carrying machine guns with unsheathed 
bayonets on the end, guard all the entrance gates to Rangoon 
University and all government buildings.  Trucks of armed troops 
are frequently seen driving around the city, and blockades are 
put up in front of the government TV station every night.  
Uniformed SLORC soldiers make regular visits to Shwedagon and 
Sule Pagodas, making it clear that even temples cannot serve as 
sanctuaries from the regime.  	
	In addition, the SLORC ordered all residents living on major 
thoroughfares to build high walls in front of their houses.  
Although these walls were ostensibly erected as part of a 
beautification project, they are usually topped with barbed wire.  
At the same time, the walls make it difficult for protesters to 
escape should the military be firing on them.  Even more 
striking, the SLORC has put gun ports into the walls surrounding 
its most important offices, and firing towers are located at each 
corner.  The construction and use of such defensive structures 
suggests that the SLORC has no legitimacy but can only rule 
through brute force.  If the people accepted the SLORC, it seems 
that there would not be a need for these measures.
	Aung San Suu Kyi's compound continues to be closely guarded.  
Although the blockades which had been placed in front of the 
compound gate have been taken down, soldiers are stationed both 
within the compound and next door.  The soldiers who are on duty 
inside the compound are constantly rotated, because otherwise 
become too attached to Aung San Suu Kyi.  While in 1989-1990, 
people displayed photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi in their houses 
and shops, now no one dares to do so, and photo shops are afraid 
to sell any photographs they may have of her.  Even mentioning 
her name can bring trouble.
	Although statistics show that the Burmese economy is growing 
rapidly, most peoples' standards of living are actually 
SLORC officials, their relatives, and a select number of 
businessmen are living like kings, but everyone else is 
struggling to survive.  
	The reasons for this are many.  Most of the foreign 
has been put into enterprises such as luxury hotels and gas 
pipelines which do not directly benefit local people.  Wages have 
not kept pace with inflation, and people in the city must work 
two or three jobs in order to make ends meet.  For instance, a 
government employee  might make 1200 kyat a month (roughly $12 
US), but if he has a wife and two children, he would need almost 
10 times this amount to survive in Rangoon.  
	People in the countryside are no better off.  Many people 
cannot afford even bananas, let alone any meat or fish to go with 
their rice.  They are eating nothing but red chili sauce with 
plain rice.
	What is really pushing people to the margins of survival is 
the extensiveness of forced labor.  Virtually every railroad, 
irrigation canal, reservoir, and road are constructed with forced 
labor.  When an infrastructure project is being carried out in a 
particular area, adults from each household must either go to 
work or pay a large sum instead.  Schools are closed for the 
duration of the project, because teachers must go out and 
supervise the work or even do the digging as well.  No food, 
money, or medicine is provided, and for people who are living 
from day to day, the loss of a day of labor means a significant 
cut in food supplies.  
	Mothers must bring their small children with them to the 
project sites, and in some cases, these children have died of 
heatstroke because of the lack of shade.  With teachers also 
forced to participate, there is no one to teach the older 
children.   In fact, children are spending fewer and fewer years 
in school.  Most drop out after the third standard, and only 25-
30% of the students 
complete the fifth standard.  
	Parents see no value in education under the current system, 
because the only available jobs for the educated are in the 
government, but the pay is so low that it is impossible to make a 
living.  Instead, parents are pulling their children out of 
school as 
soon as they are old enough to be able to work and help the 
household.  Although UNESCO is working in Burma to expand primary 
education, the effects have been minimal.  The SLORC has voiced 
support for this project, but it has been cutting its own budget 
allocations for education.  
	The lack of concern which the SLORC feels for the well-being 
of its own people is also apparent in the health sector.  All 
hospital patients, no matter how poor, must buy their own 
medicines and even the surgical gloves which are used in 
operations.  Medicine is only available through the black market, 
and the prices are extremely high.  Goiter, a thyroid disease 
which is caused by a 
deficiency of iodine, is on the rise.  Malaria and diarrhea, two 
easily treatable diseases, are the two biggest causes of death in 
Burma, because people do not have access to medicine and clean 
	Local NGOs have been established, but they are derisively 
referred to as GONGOs, or government-organized non-governmental 
organizations.  The Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare 
Association, for instance, is run by Khin Nyunt's wife, and the 
local Red Cross is recognized as nothing but an extension of the 
	Some foreign non-governmental organizations are attempting 
to carry out humanitarian aid projects within Burma.  MSF-Holland 
and MSF-France have set up offices, and the international Red 
Cross has been active.  However, the international Red Cross 
recently decided to pull out, because its staff could not visit 
political prisoners or carry out their work independently.  Other 
organizations are having difficulty in implementing their 
programs in such a way that would benefit the people rather than 
the SLORC.  The SLORC tries to ensure that NGOs work through 
local Ministries, and much of the equipment and supplies that are 
brought over are diverted for other uses.  
	The Burmese have mixed feelings about the presence of 
foreign NGOs.  NGOs can help relieve the suffering of the poor 
and the sick, and they may also be able to train local staff to 
think more broadly and independently.  Nevertheless, their 
presence gives the SLORC legitimacy, and it is extremely 
difficult to make sure that all the aid really reaches the people 
who need it.  In fact, the best way to improve the well-being of 
the people does not seem to be to work with the SLORC but to get 
rid of the SLORC altogether.
	In the field of foreign investment, Total, Unocal, Texaco, 
and Peregrine (Miriam Segal) are by far the biggest players.  The 
SLORC is particularly counting on the success of the gas pipeline 
(financed by Total and Unocal) to bring the regime not only large 
profits but also increased legitimacy.  Stopping the pipeline 
would be a major setback for the SLORC. 
	Most of the foreign investors in Rangoon either deny or 
ignore the human rights abuses which are taking place in Burma.  
A representative of Ivanoe, a Canadian mining company, insisted 
there was no proof of such abuses.  Ironically, the headquarters 
of Ivanoe (and Peregrine) are located in the International 
Business Center, which is situated on the edge of Inya Lake where 
large numbers of pro-democracy protesters were drowned in 1988.   
The Total office is just across the street.
	The Singaporeans have invested heavily in luxury hotels, 
although the profitability of these ventures seems dubious.  The 
flow of tourists into Burma continues to be a mere trickle, and 
Visit Myanmar Year appears to be far better advertised in Burma 
than abroad.  In some cases, these hotels may be functioning as 
money laundering enterprises for those with ties to heroin 
production and trafficking.
	While Thai businessmen are active in Burma, they are mostly 
involved in the extraction of natural resources and smuggling.  
The Thais are looked down on by the Burmese both for their wily 
business practices and their military weakness.  The SLORC is not 
afraid of the Thai Army, and it seems that the recent DKBA 
incursions into Thailand have been ordered by SLORC in order to 
see how far the Thai Army can be pushed.
	Because independent newspapers are prohibited and all 
published works are heavily censored (or self-censored), the 
Burmese rely on the BBC radio, and to a lesser extent the VOA, 
for news.   Real news is also obtained from old copies of the 
Bangkok Post and the Nation (the two English language newspapers 
in Thailand) which are surreptitiously sold at book stalls in 
Rangoon.  Some elites and hotels own satellite dishes and can 
receive foreign broadcasting, but the vast majority of the people 
only have access to government television programming.  
	Those who are unhappy with the SLORC derive great pleasure 
from hearing or reading reports of international condemnation of 
the SLORC and the abuses which the regime is committing.  Many 
continue to hope that the international community will apply 
enough pressure on the SLORC that the regime will fall.  Although 
people are too afraid to rise up against the SLORC right now, 
some say they are waiting for something to happen which will 
create a window of opportunity.  What form that might take 
remains to be seen.
	In conclusion, the standard of living is declining for all 
but a select few, and forced labor continues to be used on a 
massive scale.  Although the SLORC seems to be convinced that it 
is giving the country exactly what it needs, the SLORC itself 
fears the anger of the people.  The SLORC has been consolidating 
its control and benefiting from foreign investment, but it still 
appears to only be able to rule by brute force and intimidation.  


[This is a translation of an order for forced labor in Pegu]

According to the implementation plan of the State Law and Order
Restoraton Council (Slorc), to carry out the construction of the 
branch of 'Zaung Tu' irrigation canal, every owners of the houses 
and tenants who live in 'Shinsawpu' ward must contribute labours 
voluntarily. Like the families of the ward, the government 
departmental persons must also contribute labours.

(I) The volunteer must contribute labour by his own programme and
himself at 'Baw Nat Gyi' village, No (1) branch of Zaungtu' 
irrigation canal at the rate of three pits per one family.

(II) If the volunteer can not contribute labour, he must 
contribute 350 kyats in cash for the rate of three pits per one 

(III) For this implementation plan, the default of labour or 
cash, the criticism and the detamation would be punished 
effectively. The person who transgress these actions must be 
recognized as a sabotour of the state plan under the existing law 
and orders. He must be known these penalties.

The volunteers who want to contribute labours themselves must 
report at 'Bawnatgyi' camp, No.(1) branch of the irrigation 
canal. The travelling expenses would be 35 kyats.

The persons who go together by the arrangement of the Ward Law 
and Order Restoration Council must pay 20 kyats for travelling 

So, the volunteers who give their names at the responsible 'Yar 
Aine Hmu' (the Headman of the hundred houses), must pay the 
travelling expenses, 20 kyats at the some time.

The starting date of the volunteers will be 8.12.94. The person 
who want to contribute labours must report finally to the 
responsible 'Yar Aine Hmu' at (7. 12. 94). The families who can 
not contribute labours must pay 350 kyats to the respective area 
'Yar Aine Hmu' at 15. 12. 94. as the last date.

Ward Law and Order Restoration Council
Shinsawpu Ward

Instructions to be followed by the owners and tenants who live in
'Shinsawpu Ward

Section: (I) To know for one month reporting

The Persons who get permission for one month stay in 'Shin Saw 
Pu' ward are: the students, government services and the workers 
who came from other townships & villages for their respective 
work. They can be reported for one month of the guest's list.
To report one month, he must submit the recommendation of 'Ya Wa 
Ta'(i.e. Ward Law and Order Restoration Council) where he first 
lives in and new recommendation of respective 'Yar Aine Hmu' of 
the Ward where he lives now, and then must bring the host.

Section (ii) To know for the temporary guest
The temporary guest can stay only three days by bringing the 
Natonal Registration Card and also the host to 'Ya Wa Ta'.

Section (iii) To know for the tenants
The tenants who had lived in this ward for six months must get a 
family schedule.

To get family Schedule.
(1) The persons who came from the other divison/township must 
bring from No. 10 of the immigration office.
(2) The persons who came from village/ward must bring the
recommendation of 'Ya Wa Ta (i.e. Ward/Village Law and Order
Restoration Council). For the family schedule all necessary
recommendations must be completed and all these facts are warned 
in advance.

Shin Saw Pu Ward Law and Order Restoration Council

25 JUNE 1995 

MAE HONG SON preparations are under way to move all
Karen refugees who fled recent fighting in Burma to an area
near Ban Mae Lama Luang in Sob Moei distric.

About 20,000 refugees have been staying in camps along the
border in Sob Moei and Mae Saring districts since they fled
Rangoon's drive against Karen National Union camps.

National Security Council deputy secretary-general Kachadpai
Buruspattana said Thailand's policy was to provide
humanitarian assistance to these refugees and send them back
to their country when the situation returned to normal.

The refugees would  brought together at Ban Lama Luang in
Sob Moei district for better control before they were
repatriated. (BP)


TAK police yesterday arrested 61 Burmese Karen believed to
have snaked into Thailand through Mae Sot and a Thai couple
thought to have  helped them.

Police said they were arrested about 5 after the driver of a
six-wheel truck they were travelling in failed to stop at a
police checkpoint in Mae Sot district.

Police chased the truck  and arrested the driver and his wife-
identified as Raem Prempri, 27, and Affine Khongthai,
23.The Karen, aged 23 to 30 years, were found hidden in the
back of the truck, which was covered with a large plastic
sheet. There were 41 men and 20 women.

All admitted they had crossed illegally into Thailand and
hoped to work in Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan or
Bangkok. Each had agreed to pay their illegal labour agent
Bt2,000, police said. (TN)


THE Democrat Party is trying to win support in Tak by
promising it will try to improve Thailand's sour border
relations with Burma.

Therdpong Chaiyanant, who is leading a three-member
Democrat candidate team, told a rally in Mae Sot district the
Government realised the importance of good relations with
neighbouring countries but no substantial action had been
taken because of the election.

The attempt to restore good border relations with Burma
would be top priority if the Democrat Party headed the next

Thailand and Burma have a long history of close and warm
relations. It will be a grate pity if this good relationship
deteriorates, he said.

Mr Therdpong's team-mate and brother, Rak, said the cool
relationship at the border stemmed from Burma's belief that
Thailand  still supported minority rebels and drug warlord,
Khun Sa.

Burma's attitude could also be caused by some third countries,
with vested interests in that country, fearing Thailand could
be a competitor.

Describing the problem as a misunderstanding, Mr Rak said
Thailand's policy toward Burma was crystal clear.(BP)

26 JUNE 1995

Despite the campaign rhetoric of a few candidates calling for
a revision of the Thai-Burma relationship, it remains to bo
seen whether the nest government will rethink constructive
engagement - a policy that is often criticized as a thinly
disguised agreement aimed at protecting Thailand's business
[some material lost here] rest with the ruling Slorc.

As it stands, the next government has two choices: either
continue with its passive attitude and play down disputes
between the two countries as bilateral issues or
internationalize future incidents by requesting
organizations such as the United Nations (Asean) provide an
arena for discussion between the two countries.

Prof Vitit Muntarbhorn of the Chulalongkorn University Faculty
of Law said Thailand's passive attitude had destroyed the
country's credibility in the eyes of Slorc. He called the
constructive engagement a slap-in-the-face policy and said
Slorc did not talking Thailand seriously. As two examples he
cited the abrupt decision by Rangoon to stop construction of a
bridge over the Moei River,as well as the numerous incursions
into Thai territory by Slorc-backed rebels earlier this year.

Burma Construction Minister U Khin Maung Yin ordered a halt to
the building of the bridge on June 5 because he claimed
Thailand was encroaching onto Burmese territory. The Slorc
argued that the construction had changed the course of the
river, which technically serves as the natural boundary
between the two countries. The dispute on border demarcation
has been going on for decades and it was surprising to see
such drastic action being taken by the Burmese.

Despite the fact that the Bt70 million bridge construction
project was entirely funded by the Thai government, not to
mention the 600-truck-loads of soil provided by Thailand,
Defence Minister Gen Vijit Sookmark still managed to be
optimistic and expressed his confidence that the two sides
could soon resolve the dispute that had brought the bridge
construction to a complete stop.

Prof Vitit argued that constructive engagement has not been as
fruitful as Thailand had expected - pointing to the huge
projects and contracts that Burma has awarded to neighbouring
countries such as Indonesia and Singapore. His comment was
reinforced by the recent trip by Slorc chairman Than Shwe to
Indonesia and Singapore which was deemed as an attempted to
strengthen Burma's economic ties with other Asean countries.

At the present, Thailand is caught between the devil and the
deep blue sea. The next government cannot continue with its
business-as-usual attitude and expect Burma to respect the
nation's time, bringing the Thai-Burma dispute onto the Asean
table will meet stiff opposition from both Indonesia and
Singapore because of their growing business involvement with
Slorc. But these countries don't have to put up with the
influx of refugees fleeing Slorc's relentless prosecution.
Yet, for Thailand to internationalize the dispute now would
be nothing less than a public admission of past mistakes -
something that doesn 't happen too often in Thai politic.

Asean Western counterparts are expected to press for Burma's
human rights record to be on the agenda of the next Asean
meeting. The timing is good for Thailand because July 19 will
also mark the sixth anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's unlawful
house arrest and it is expect to be attract lots of attention
from the international community.

In short, internationalization would mean going beyond a
simple cease-fire or any other half-hearted schemed of the
past that were often deemed controversial and never directly
addressed the main reason behind the systematic persecution of
the past that were often deemed controversial and never
directly addressed the main reason behind the systermatic
persecution of the Karen and other ethnic minorities in Burma.

Some have pointed out that internationalizing the border issue
will lessen the burden on Thailand because responsibilities
would be shared. Such responsibilities may include providing
security for the displaced people who have fled armed
conflict, as well as creating a sound logistical basic
necessities such as food and medicines. National Security
Council deputy security General Khachadpai Busphas insists
that there is no need to bring in international organizations
to monitor the refugees. He cites Thailand's experience in
dealing with the influx of Indochinese refugees in the past

During the series of incursions by the DKBA in the recent
months, the Thai authorities consistently  played down the
incident as a local issue. They emphasized the fact that the
two countries share a common border that stretches 800 km, and
to the political instability in Burma that would suggest that
these border incidents are more or less inevitable.

Moreover, the government of Thailand, and particularly those
responsible for maintaining border security, went out of their
way to avoid direct confrontation with Slorc. Even on Thai
soil, the authorities had left the Karen to defend themselves
by allowing them to keep a few weapons, but with a
understanding that they keep a low profile. This
turning-the-blind-eye approach ended when the Burmese cried

In a recent interview on the Nation TV, Nam Thai candidate MR
Sukhumbhand Paribatra suggested what many of fellow
politicians had deemed to radical.

WE should be in the position to push Burma into accepting the
opinion of the international community and show them the right
path to take in order to be accepted internationally, said MR
Sukhumbhand, a former political lecturer at Chularlongkorn

Phogphol Adireksarn of the Chart Thai Party, on the order
hand, unabashedly argued that there is no other way to coax
Burma into political reform than through economic cooperation.
He said his party would use state enterprises to spearhead
economic cooperation with Burma.

Currently, Thailand ranks fifth in the world in terms of
investment with Burma with nearly US$ 260 pledged _ in
addition to the numerous off-the-record business transactions
between local influential figures of both countries.

The Thai authorities know very well that the incursions of the
recent months are nothing less than a direct assault on
Thailand's sovereignty. And for the authorities to play these
incursions down as minor or local incidents is to put economic
gains before national sovereignty.

With a new government due to take power soon as a result of
the July 2 election, Thailand has the option to admit that the
so-called constructive engagement of Asean has failed and look
into new approaches in dealing with Burma. In short, the
policy has failed because it has not stopped Burma's
persecution of its own people. Moreover it has failed because
it has created a situation where the Slorc is taking
Thailand's sovereignty for granted, and also because it has
caused more problems than the economic gains that were
originally expected.

One thing is clear - clinging on to the business-as-usual
attitude towards future incidents along the border will
further damage the country's already -fragile credibility. And
unless the next group of policy markers comes up with a new
platform to address the problems between the two countries,
the next government of Thailand will continue to get a cold
response from Rangoon. (TN)


Shopping centres and hotels take over

The Nation/ Denis D GRAY
Associated Press

RANGOON- Burma-With hammers and crowbars they're knocking down
old, atmospheric Rangoon, one of Asia's last reminders of the
past, to make way for high-rise hotels and shopping centres.

The 20th century has finally caught up with Rangoon, where high-
rise once meant the soaring spires of Buddhist pagodas and tree-
lined avenues were flanked by probably the largest collection of
British colonial buildings in the world.

Now, big chunks of the uniform urban-scape are being ripped out
of the heart of Rangoon, and the skyline has already been pierced
by several buildings approaching 20 stories.

Foreign investors are putting up office complexes, department
stores and hotels that will cater to an expected tourist boom in
this still exotic land.

Business is very good. The government really wants to change the
economic policy. We will have many high-rises. In the next 10
years Rangoon will be like Bangkok, says real-estate developer
Soe Myint, referring to Thailand's capital, an urban nightmare
which has bulldozed many vestiges of its past.

Rangoon had been frozen in time because a socialist, xenophobic
government kept out investment and all but ruined the domestic
economy. Major construction was rare.

The current military junta, which seized power after crushing a
pro-democracy uprising in 1988, has liberalized the economy,
invited foreign investors and laid down modernization plans.
Irrevocable changes to Rangoon's character began about two years

The prospects for saving old Rangoon are not promising, although
Lt. Gen. Kyaw Ba, minister of tourism, maintains that some of
Rangoon's antique colonial buildings must be preserved. The high-
rises will be scattered.

Leading the development are overseas Chinese entrepreneurs who
have shown little mercy to architectural legacies elsewhere in
For all parties involved, more money can usually be made by
tearing down and building anew.

There's also no local lobby, public forum or foreign pressure
group currently standing up for preservation. The military rules
by decree, and also profits substantially from many foreign
investment projects.

Nobody would dare oppose military plans to modernize the city,
says one Western resident who requested anonymity. From time to
time you hear individuals grumble. There's a sigh and resignation
that there goes another old building.

A 23-story hotel is under construction on the northern end of
Sule Pagoda Road, the main avenue laid down by the British in the
mid-19th century where structures average four stories. Another
hotel and a 25-floor Japanese office building will go up nearby.

At the lower end of the avenue, little more than 100 meters
(yards) from the Sule Pagoda, foundations are being laid for the
French-owned Sofitel Hotel, which will dwarf the sacred, ancient
epi-center of Rangoon with its twin towers and 22 floors.

Last year, kyaw Ba stressed there were regulations against
building large structures near religious edifices. But in another
interview recently the tourism minister argued that Sofitel could
be built because the Sule Pagoda was already surrounded by other
buildings which obstructed its viewing from farther away.

The profit motive, however, is also protecting some of the dark
red brickwork, the fanciful turrets and neo-Grecian columns of
Imperial Britain.

The Strand, one of the finest hotels in Asia when it was built in
1901, has been renovated and now charges $300 a night for a taste
of bygone elegance. The Victorian headquarters of the Burmese
railway department will be converted into a 90-room, five-star

Unable to compete with foreign companies coming in to build mega-
room hotels, Burmese businessman Khin Shwe says he has sought out
old, unique properties for renovation.

Last year he opened the 15-room Mya Yeik Nyo Royal, the
magnificent former mansion of Chartered Bank managers set atop
Rangoon's second-highest hill.

Staying there, or at one of several surrounding bungalows, is
truly a step back into the world of lawn parties, gin and tonics
at sundown and stiff upper lips.

But on the grounds, Khin Shwe has had a large mural painted which
showcases Burma's natural and man-made wonders, including,
naturally, his own hotel. Rangoon itself is depicted as a
phalanx of skyscrapers, and could easily be mistaken for

Zar Ni
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
225 North Mills Street
Madison, WI 53706

Zar Ni  (510) 597-1255

        On July 11 Burmese Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the 
popular democratic leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will begin the 
seventh year of imprisonment in Rangoon.  Her continued 
imprisonment is symbolic of the blatant denial of the Burmese 
peoples' political and civil liberties by the military regime.
        After the bloody crackdown of the popular pro-democracy 
uprisings in 1988, the Burmese military regime renamed itself the 
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and changed the 
country's name to Myanmar.  It held multi-party elections to 
appease the angry nation.  But the intransigent regime then set 
the political clock back by refusing to transfer power to the 
National League for Democracy Party (NLD) which won a
landslide in the elections, the first to be held since 1962.  
Furthermore, its leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been kept in 
captivity since July of 1989.  Indeed Burma has become a vast 
prison camp with 45 million people prisoners of their own armed 
        Foreign governments and international agencies including 
the US Statement have condemned strongly the SLORC for its gross 
human rights violations such as ethnic cleansing, forced labor, 
arbitrary arrests, torture, summary executions, religious 
persecution, rape, forced relocation and displacement of people. 
But effective actions, such as economic
sanctions, have not been taken yet.
        In the meantime, the regime has made attempts to entrench 
itself in power, following the so-called Chinese model of 
development: political stability first, market second, and, if 
there is any time left, democracy and human rights last!  Under 
the SLORC's iron-fisted rule Burma is now up
for sale.
        Several US corporations, most notably, PepsiCo and the 
oil giants, Unocal and Texaco, are only too eager to respond to 
the SLORC's invitation to a large scale exploitation of Burma's 
natural and human resources: Burma has 80% of the world's teak 
forest, many ruby mines, fertile soil, oil and natural gas 
reserves, minerals, and cheap labor.  PepsiCo has a monopoly
over soft-drink bottling in the country while Unocal has obtained 
a natural gas production contract worth over $400 million with 
the Burmese military. 
        The advocates of the "Constructive Engagement" approach 
to Burma's problems (including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and 
the Philippines) have argued that only by constructively working 
with an international pariah regime such as the SLORC will there 
be significant political and economic change in Burma.  Their 
message: persuasion, not isolation; business, not sanctions.
        But a different story is told by former US Ambassador 
Burton Levin who knows the country intimately.  Levin stated, 
"foreign investment in most countries acts as a catalyst to 
promote change, but the Burmese regime is so single-minded that 
whatever money they obtain from foreign sources,
they pour straight into the army while the rest of the country is
collapsing."  Already the SLORC has bought over $1 billion worth 
of arms from its neighbor-mentor, China and doubled the size of 
its army since 1988.
        Is constructive engagement really helping the people as 
its advocates claim?
        Constructive engagement and its resultant economic growth 
benefits only a very tiny group of individuals made up of SLORC 
generals and those businesses that bribe the SLORC handsomely for 
their share of the pie. Even a successful Burmese businessman who 
was recently in the US conceded to this during our conversation.  
The fact is business and governmental advocates of constructive 
engagement have never lived under totalitarian regimes and their 
argument is far removed from the daily realities of the
people and hence it rings hollow.  Indeed constructive engagement 
serves as a convenient excuse for bankrolling Burma's 
illegitimate regime and disguising the all too familiar "if-we-
don't-somebody-else-will rationality.
        Then what is the alternative?
        Economic sanctions.  If imposed, they will hurt a handful 
individuals: the local business-associates of the SLORC and those 
employed by foreign corporations.  But they will have little 
impact on the vast majority of people, the supposed beneficiaries 
of economic development. Most people live in rural areas  and not 
dependent upon constructive engagement for their livelihood, 
Burma being an essentially agricultural country.  Even when there 
was not one single foreign corporation operating in the country 
owing to past isolationist policies (1962-88), we survived
economically.  It is rather curious that now all of a sudden the 
economic life of my people is being portrayed as though its 
survival rested on the presence of the corporations.
        The country's leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has put 
forward her conviction that economic development must not come at 
the expense of the people in whose name it has ostensibly been 
sought, and yet whose fundamental human concerns the SLORC 
continues to disregard.
        In light of the situations in Burma it is now high time 
that the international community takes strong actions such as 
economic sanctions and an arms embargo against the SLORC.  In the 
words of Desmond Tutu, "international pressure can change the 
situation in Burma.  Tough sanctions, not constructive 
engagement, finally brought the release of Nelson Mandela and the 
dawn of the new era in my country.  This is the language that 
must be spoken with tyrant--for sadly, it is the only
language they understand."
Zar Ni, a member of the Free Burma Coalition and the Bay Area 
Roundtable, is a Burmese exile and human rights activist 
currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin at 

The Nation/27.6.95

Agence France-Presse

SAN FRANCISCO- Nobel Peace Prize laureates appealed on Sunday for
UN action on the release of Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi,
calling her plight "political oppression disguised as criminal

In a statement issued for the UN 50th anniversary ceremonies, 11
laureates called for freedom for the Burmese leader, another
peace laureate who has been under house arrest for six years.

Two of the Nobel laureates present for the ceremonies in San
Francisco went further in criticizing Burma's military regime,
and one - South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu - called for UN
sanctions on Rangoon.

As we write, thousands of people are currently incarcerated or
detained as political prisoners, among them our sister Nobel
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi," the joint statement said.

"She has endured six long years solitary detention without trial
at the hands of Burma's military regime. There is no signed at
all for her release. We resolutely oppose political oppression
disguised as criminal detention."

The laureates call on the world community working through the
United Nations to help obtain freedom for prisoners of
conscience, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

Tutu, in a statement to a forum here for the UN anniversary,
called for sanctions to be imposed on Burma and other countries
with serious human rights violations.

"Why should we not act decisively ... in a case of Burma, which
still holds our sister laureate under house arrest?" he asked. 

Betty Williams, a 1976 Nobel Laureate present for the ceremony,
also had harsh words for the Burmese military regime, and
referred to Aung San Suu Kyi as " my beloved sister".

"The people of Burma -not Myanmar, there is no Myanmar- loved
Aung San Suu Kyi." Williams said. "Release her from terror she
lives through every day."

Williams addressed another Nobel laureate at the event- Polish
President Lech Walesa-appealing for Poland to stop supplying
weapons to the Rangoon regime. 

"I beg your government not to supply them with military
hardware," she said, and added a similar appeal to South Africa.

Williams, Tutu, walesa and former Costa Rican president Oscar
Arias were present for the event. Also signing the statement were
Nobel laureates Norman Borlaug, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Adolfo
Perez Esquivel, Elie Wiesel , Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres and
Yitzhak Rabin.

# Agence France -Presse reports from Dhaka: Some 20,000 Burmese
Muslim refugees in Bangladesh were forced to enroll as voters by
gangs who plan to sell them to highest bidders at the next
general election, a news paper said yesterday.

Gangs along the entire Burmese border are involved in the
process, the morning Sun reported.

Election officials said they had heard such reports, but not yet
verified them. "We have not got anything in writing." Mohammad
Yusuf Ali, a local polls official, told the daily.

The region is a stronghold of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-islami

The Nation/27.6.95


Burma's ethnic minority Mon guerrilla group, which has been
fighting for grater autonomy since 1949, is set to sign a cease
fire with Burma's military government, a senior Thai source said. 

Mon guerrilla commander Nai Shwe Kyin will lead a delegation to
the southeastern Burma's city of Moulmein to sign a ceasefire
with Burma's powerful military intelligence chief Lieutenant-
General Khin Nyunt before the end of the month, the Thai official
said at the weekend. 

The Thai official, who monitors developments along the Thai-
Burmese border and declined to be identified, said Burma ruling
Sate Law and Order Restoration Council(Slorc) had agreed to let
the Mon nationalists administer 19 small areas of about 10 square
km each, in southeast Burma's Mon State.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP), and its military wing the Mon
National Liberation Army, is one of the last ethnic minority
guerrilla groups still fighting the Slorc, which since 1989, has
agreed to cease fire accord with 14 different guerrilla forces.

The Thai official said he was optimistic the Karen National
Union, which has also been fighting since 1949, would also sign a
deal in coming months.

27 JUNE 1995

The state-owned Myanmar Timber Enterprise and Thailand's Santi 
Forestry Co have formed a joint-venture factory to make wooden 
furniture mainly for export.

Sanfoco Wood Industries is located at Dagon Nyothit in suburban 
Rangoon. The contract was signed contract was signed by Myanmar 
Timber managing director Myat Win and Santi Forestry chairman 
Santi Vayakonvichitr. (BP)

27 JUNE 1995

The Myanmar Medical Association recently began a one-year project 
to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Rangoon.

Funded by the Japanese government, the programme targets taxi and
trishaw drivers. (BP)

WASHINGTON, (June 21) IPS - Despite worsening human rights 
conditions in Burma,

the administration of President Bill Clinton has decided to 
increase its cooperation on anti-drug efforts with the military 
regime there. 
   The new policy -- described as a compromise between anti-drug 
hawks in the administration who wanted stronger ties and the 
State Department Human Rights Bureau which opposed them -- was 
announced today at a Congressional hearing.     Lee Brown, head 
of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy,
told lawmakers on the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee of the 
House of Representatives that Burma now accounts for most of the 
heroin that reaches the United States. 
   About 60 percent of the heroin that is sold in the United 
States is believed  to come from Southeast Asia, and almost all 
of that is from opium grown in Burma. The rest comes from Central 
Asia, especially Afghanistan, and Latin America. 
   Brown outlined a three-pronged approach in U.S. drug policy in 
Burma. It includes continuing a "general dialogue" with the 
Burmese regime on anti-drug efforts; exchanging information with 
officials there to aid their anti-drug efforts; and launching in-
country training of the government's anti-drug forces .
   Brown stressed that units to be trained will specifically be 
selected "on a case-by-case basis" to ensure that officers 
charged with rights abuses or drug-trafficking are not chosen. 
   In addition, Brown said Washington will continue supporting 
U.N. drug-control efforts in the region and consider increasing 
aid there to the U.N. Drug Control Program (UNDCP). It will also 
encourage China and Thailand to exert their own pressures on the 
military government to curb drug production and trafficking. 
   The new policy falls somewhat short of what the  
administration's anti-drug hawks had hoped. Brown and the State 
Department's Bureau of International Narcotics Matters, which is 
led by Robert Gelbard, had wanted to provide equipment, including 
helicopters and other aircraft, much as it has done in
other drug-producing countries.  
   But Human Rights Assistant Secretary John Shattuck and others 
insisted that such a step would go too far and could be used by 
the authorities in their counter-insurgency campaigns against 
ethnic minority and other groups. "That was
just too much," said one official. 
   Still, human rights activists and others criticized the new 
policy, arguing that it will undermine other U.S. policy 
objectives in the country. 
   "This initiative undermines the administration's human rights 
policy in Burma, " said Mike Jendrzeijsczyk, Washington director 
of Human Rights Watch/Asia, formerly known as Asia Watch. 
   "The administration told the regime there would be no 
additional   anti-narcotics aid unless there was progress on 
drugs, human rights, and
democratization. And there hasn't been any," he told IPS. 
   Washington's relations with Burma, whose name the military 
regime changed to Myanmar, have been virtually frozen since 1990 
when elections swept by the opposition National League for 
Democracy were ignored by the army which placed
NLD's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest. 
   Since then, Burma has opened its economy to foreign 
investment, while the regime, the State Law and Order Restoration 
Council (SLORC), has occasionally hinted that it was ready to 
release Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as
part of a rapprochement with the United States and other Western 
   Those hints have so far come to nothing, however. At the 
urging of  Washington's Southeast Asian allies, Washington 
offered to upgrade relations significantly late last year on 
condition that the SLORC release Suu Kyi and
make other reforms. But the offer was spurned outright, according 
to U.S. officials. 
   In the meantime, the amount of opium and heroin flowing out of 
Burma has grown steadily, as has heroin usage in the United 
States. Those statistics have strengthened the voices in the 
administration who favored closer cooperation
with the regime. 
   Brown noted today that heroin is increasingly being used in 
suburban, middle class communities throughout the United States, 
in addition to the inner-city ghettoes with which it is more 
identified in the public mind. Spot checks inhospitals and 
treatment centers show "substantial increases" in heroin use 
since the mid-1980s, according to Brown. 
   He was joined today by Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, a long-
time Congressman from Harlem, New York. While deploring the human 
rights situation in Burma, Rangel said he supported steps to 
improve cooperation between the two countries to fight drugs. 
   "I just appeal to this subcommittee to have some concern of 
the human rights of people in my district and throughout these 
United States that are seeing bumper crops (of opium) coming out 
of Burma," he said. "I'm asking you...to not
use human rights to sever relationships that could cause the 
stoppage of tons" of heroin from entering this country. 
   But Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher questioned whether 
stepped-up cooperation makes sense. "The people who I have talked 
to all across the border  there with Thailand and Burma and 
Laos," he said, "indicate that where the SLORC
regime's troops are, there you'll find poppy fields and 
distribution centers." 

   "There seems to be evidence that this regime itself is in bed 
with the drug lords," he added. 
   Brown, however, insisted that there "is no strong evidence to 
suggest that the government itself is involved in drug 
trafficking or directly profits from the drug trade." 
He did indicate that "individuals at a lower level" may be 
involved, however