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DAWN NEWS BULLETIN
DAWN News Bulletin
Vol: 5, No. 3
1. Slorc under pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi released
2. INTERVIEW WITH DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI.
3. DEMOCRACY IS THE GOAL
4. THE RELEASE OF AUNG SAN SUU KYI
AND THE SO-CALLED "NATIONAL CONVENTION"
5. Why the DKBA is not a Buddhist Army
6. Out of Control; The Burmese HIV Epidemic under Slorc
7. 7th Anniversary of 8-8-88
8. KNPP and Slorc's cease-fire
9. AFL-CIO assure support sanctions
10. U NGA REH REVEALS HIS EXPERIENCE IN PRISON
11. CONVENTION OF ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES
Slorc under pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi released
To the surprise of supporters both inside and outside Burma, the Slorc,
on July 10, 1995, ended the house arrest of Burmese Democracy Leader Daw
Aung Sang Suu Kyi. She emerged as she had entered her house arrest nearly
six years before; unafraid, articulate, ready for genuine dialogue,
utterly sincere, and "free from fear" On her first press conference, on
July 11, she was insightful and witty, the exchange with the press was
frank and open, and questions were answered honestly and with a vivid
sense of Aung San Suu Kyi's dignity and humour. Seeing her and hearing
her words was like breathing fresh air again after years in a prison cell.
Her release has been reported as "unconditional" and she is to have all
the freedoms accorded any other Burmese citizen. But here is the problem
with the word unconditional. She, and the people, who love her so much,
will only be free when civilians rule is restored, when the rights of
individuals and ethnic nationalities are respected, and when free and
fair elections determine the political make up of a representative
The Slorc held Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for almost 6 years,
without trial, and the violation of their own law, which limits detention
without trail to five years. Their situation was extraordinarily
difficult as this long detention has only increased her stature
internationally, and deepened the love of the Burmese people for their
leader. They can not have released her without the fear of popular
uprising, and yet they do they did so. She is the single most important
symbol and reminder of the illegitimacy of their regime. The people of
Burma are ready to back her in the struggle for change. Now is the time
for the people of the country, who have suffered so much already, to
stand and be counted.
There are several possibilities ranging from a feeling of confidence of
the Slorc that their control was now complete, to a need for more foreign
aid that would not come to Burma while she was jailed, the threat of US
sanctions (the Board on which was scheduled in Washington on the day of
her release), and pressure from the Japanese, again over promised loans
and aid. But the one vital reason for releasing her remains in question !
Bringing about a negotiated political situation to the crisis that is
Burma under the Slorc. Aung San Suu Kyi, in her statement to the press,
reported that Gen Than Shwe had asked her to help in the restoration of
peace and stability in the country. She has agreed to this request. Are
they ready to begin discussion of truly listening to ethnics demands and
of giving power back to the people of Burma?
The Slorc is attempting to prove that national reconciliation is being
achieved, and that all the ethnic groups of Burma now recognize their
authority. The experience of ethnic groups who have signed with the Slorc
shows us clearly that such agreements have not brought development.The
Slorc still finds itself unable to consolidate its power among the ethnic
minorities. The recent freeing of the cease fire agreement with the
Karenni (KNPP ) reveals the very wide gulf between the many existing
cease fires and true national reconciliation. Aung San Suu Kyi stated
this clearly in her first press conference about the cease fires, she
said, what was needed was real resolution, not cease fire.
The Slorc is now under considerable pressure; Aung San Suu Kyi's
international standing continues to rise, and now that she is freed, will
surely continue to do so; the ethnic group cease fires they have driven
through are beginning to come apart, and the world is increasingly aware
of the horrors of the generals. They know that their hold on power now
requires total military control of the Burmese people. The question now
is, will the business and international communities accept this state of
affairs, or will they look to the long term?
Peaceful and prosperous Burma will benefits all parties in the region.
But this can be only happened after a genuine political situation is
reached, ad for this the ethnic peoples, the elected leaders, and Aung
San Suu Kyi must be allowed to play in active role.
INTERVIEW WITH DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI.
What follows are the un-edited interview with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi done
by various news agencies during the first week of her released. All these
interview were sent through ASIA TV sattelite and monitored in Bangkok,
Thaitand by the ABSDF. For more information, please contact the ABSDF
office in Bangkok, tel 01-920-8286, e-mail - caroline@xxxxxxxxxx
Regarding Slorc's so-called National Convention
Q: What is the way forward regaring Constitution Convention ...
Ans: Well, the way forward is supposed to find out ?? and what is they
stand for process of democracy and what they want to achieve. You would
remember that I am not a dictator. I am a member of the group of people
working for democracy so I have to consult the other people opinion
before I decide.
Q: ??.National Convention???
Ans: It is supposed to be national convention and national convention
means all forces in the nations are involved. And we hope we would like
to see as a true national convention.
Q: You are not consider the National Convention as' part as you had said
last year in Febreuary.
Ans: Has anything changed at the National Convention since then? Q: I
have no idea. I am asking your opinon.
Ans: Unless you can tell me what changes they have taken place at the
National Convention, it will be difficult for me to tell you that I have
changed my mind,. I haven't had a chance to find out what's going on at
the National Convention.
Q: Have you changed your mind?
Ans: I haven't had a chance to find out whether I should change my mind.
Q: Unofficially, some military people are saying that there are 104
guide-lines with the constitution. Are these guide-lines will going to be
problem with your negotiation?
Ans: Well! If there are 104 ofthem, I can heardly answer
them...Actucally, I won't really make any decision about what my next
step is going to be until I have consulant with my colleagues very very
fully. I am not in a hurry to rush into anything. I am not in hurry to
prove anything. What ever I do, I wanted to be solid valid to the country.
Q: So, under the new constituion law at the National Convention last year
will approve the army take part in the politics in the future and in the
government also. How do you think about this?
Ans: It is not the sort of thing that we were working for when we started
for movenment for democracy. And this is something that most of my
colleagues will agree about. This is not our aim when we started working
movenment for, democracy. But, actually, everything is open to
negotiation and all problem can be solved through good will and
compromise. As long as all of us wish only for the good of the nation, we
should have no trouble. But all of us have to waite to do something that
will benifit the nation as whole.
Q: What do you think about the National Convention?
Ans: I have to study further. That was in February when I met the United
States Congressman Bill Richardson. That I don't like the way that
convention is going. And I still have reservation about it. And I keep in
open mind. I think it should be there are a lot of changes necessity.
Q: But what changes, would you be willing to participate in it?
Ans: If there is changes acceptable to the people, I don't see why I
should resist the will of the people.
Q: What is acceptable to the people? What is the will ofthe people? Ans:
Q: Last year I think you said National Convention was something like
rumber stamp for the Slorc. So, what do you think of the national
Ans: I donot think that the national convention has changed subsentially
since I make this remark. So, untill there are subsentially changes I
propably have no reason for making any subsentially changes either in my
opinion toward the national convention. But I think everything is open to
compromise and negotiation. Between those who are reasonable and senseble.
Q: The present Government is writing a new constitution. How do you think
about their draft constitution?
Ans: They draft constitution as a stamp. It is not my idea ofthe
democratic constitution. Q: So, what your opinion on how to write
Ans: I think any constitution for any country should be written by
consultating the will of as wide coverage of the people as possile. Of
course, every single person in the nation cannot sit
down at the conference table and say this is the way they want our
constitution to be. But as wider range of the opinon as possible should
be taken into consideration.
Regarding ASEAN Constructive Engagement Policy
"The question is for whom has it been constructive?Was it constructive
for the Burmese people in general?Was it constructive for a limited
business community? Or was it constructive for Slorc?
"I'm not certain about that. I do not know just how effective the
persuasive part of the ASEAN nations are when it comes to internal change."
"consider the fact that you can not have economic progress without the
peace and stability. And to achieve the peace and stability there must
be climate of trust within the nation. There must be a government the
people can trust if that country is to be peaceful and stable. In the
long run you can't maintain peace and astability without trust and
"If we care about our regional peace and stability we should care about
the kind of governments that are in place in those countries."
"I do notice that while promoting the policy of constructive engagement
some ASEAN nations are careful to say that they do not interfere in the
internal affairs of another country. If they do not interfere in the
internal affairs of another country then how far can they help us achieve
"The world is getting smaller all the time. We have to accept that no
country is really free from external influence. We are all subject to
some degree of international opinions and external influence."
Q: I want to know you immediate and future plan.
Ans: The immediate plans are to conduct this press conference.....
Q: Have you had contact to your husband?
Ans: No! Not at all. I don't have telephone in the house.
Q: Did you expect your released this time?
Ans: Well! To tell the truth, I thought I will be released around first
week of August. I though that the authoriies will waite for people to
give up hope that I haven't been released and then suddently released me.
But obviously I was wrong and I very grateful to say that they have
deserved the law strictly in this time.
Q: Will the Slorc return power to the people?
Ans: That's what we always said, you see.
Q: Why they didn't do that?
Ans: This is their intention and we intent to help them every way we can
to return to power to the people. This is not just my intention and this
is an intention of everybody who want democracy and it is obviously the
intention of Slorc if you read it everyday in the Slorc newspaper.
Q: Are you going to organize the public rally?
Ans: I said as I told you I have to take these step by step.
Ans: Well, you know election took place in 1990. This is now 1995 and
hope is most important about the election was that they clearly reflected
the will of the people. That I think important and keep our mind of. We
may have moved on 6 years, but we must continue to respect the will of
the people. But in a way, which is acceptable to all those who can truely
work this democracy and peace in the nation.
Q: Could you work with Gen Khin Nyunt and Gen Than Shwe?
Ans: Oh! I can work with any body, Why not!
Q: What would you though about the two men?
Ans: Well, I though that Gen Than Shwe was very nature, very honest and
straigth foward. And Gen Khin Nyunt I found rather charming. But that was
Burmese way of charming.
Q: No plan of public rally your speech apart from what you might do here?
Ans: No! no plan. I hold the plan like that until I find wder consideration.
Q: ??? .going to the temple?
Ans: Even that one has to work very carefully. It could interprete as a
rally. That's also something we have to discuss and work hard. We are
also very displine organization in spite the fact that we been linking a
long for sometime due to circumstances beyound our countrol and etc. And
we don't just go out and do what we want to do. We consult each other. We
find out the concensus of opinin. Opinion of the people because what we
don't want is to get out of touch. We always have to keep in touch with
public, the public opinion, the public hope and the public fear. We don't
want to give them false hope. With on the other hand, of course we don't
want to, I keep saying that I don't want them to be frighten, I want them
to get rid of their fear. But I don't want to do that by given them false
hope. They should be able to look at the situation straight, accept that
the difficulty to what they are. And still find the courage to do what is
suppose to do.
Q: Did you hear anything from your long-supporters talk about fear and
what the significances are?
Ans: I haven't been aware of hear last two days. But I never talked about
fear. That's why they didn't say anything about this. Perhaps, I should
ask them "are you afarid."
Q: Slorc said you've been released unconditionally but you've been
released into a country where to be politically active is banned. I means
it is very very difficult. I means, what is your view on that?
Ans: Well, if you remember my statement in January, I said that I
intended to taking active part in the movenrnent for democracy. So, I
think I should be active politically. Because I look upon myself as a
politician. That's not a dirty work you know. Some people think that
there are something wrong with politicians. Of course, something wrong
with some politicians. It's the way they do.
Q: Do you have any idea exactly how many of your friends have been
detained still since 1988 and 1989?
Ans: It is shifting population, you know - in jail. I cannot say how
many, because some time they are more, some time they are less. For the
moment, I think of the better know ones - better know ones - they are
about 40. As I understand40, Four - zero better know ones. But I have
asked them list. I would not having quote this number for 40 any
signifacent. Because this is just a rough guess by one or two people to
whom my put it enquire..
Q: Are they all NLD?
Ans: Not necessarily. I don't think of the NLD has just one organization,
apart to the rest of the movenment for democracy. So when they talk to me
about people who are in prison, they are talking about those who are not
in the NLD. For example, Min Ko Naing. Min Ko Naing, we think of as part
of our democratic forces. We don't leave him out just becuase he is not a
member of the NLD.
Q: What your program for today an the another two, three days?
Ans: Well, for today, I have a number of meetings line up. And tommorrow
too, solid. And the day after too, solid. Well, Thursday and Friday is
solidly book up with me to meet with various people
Q: Do you want to meet public today?
Ans: Oh! a lot of people outside?
Ans: Yes, Yes
Ans: Then, I think I will go out and talk to them. I am sorry I have been
meeting people continuously since this morning. So I really don't know
what's going on outside.
Q: Have you had any though of why you think they released you now?
Ans: I think they though propably this is a right time.
Q: Why is that?
Ans: Because, well! I should had been released three years ago, you know.
Then, they changed the law. I should had been released last year. But the
intepratation of the law was again changed. And to hold me further, they
will have had to change the law again perhaps.
Q: But it is not just the legal thing, isn't it?
Ans: Is not just the legal thing. But I think it propably for other
reasons as well. It is legally it is the right time.
Q: What reason do you think they have? Why they willing to have you out
Ans: Well, I have been listening to journalists speculation about me on
various radio programs. Something between it is because the authorities
feel confidence enough. Something to think that it is because of the
international pressure. Well, I must work heard, which I think is the
right answer. I haven't been out to about yet. But in my opinion,
international pressure is always count. And this world, you really cannot
discount international opinion where ever you are.
Q: How did you feel yesterday, you have been approached from the people
in front of your house?
Ans: I always feels very at home with the people. When I meet them, they
were just like meeting friends and family. They were very informal. And
what make me very happy is the fact that they are not afarid of me. They
treat me very much as a friend, as family, as elder sister, their younger
or aunt or their daughter. And I find it very plasent at one point I said
to-them, that "I think you should go away because you are blocking the
car," and one of them said "Oh! there is another way that they can go
home." I like that. I like the fact that they are not afarid to talk to
me. And they are not afarid to disagree with me. But when I am reasoning
to them, then, they accpeted it. This I feels very proud of my people
when I meet them like that. So, they are so nice, and they don't look at
to me like somebody great and big but just as somebody who belongs to
them. And tht's the very nice feeling. And I like them talking back to me.
Q: Have you had a chance to; talk with many of your supporters? What is
you sense of the state of democracy movenment in the country?
Ans: I think is very very strong. I think the assist is strong and
didicated as it was before, although of course, the situation now is not
the same as it was in 1989.
Q: Are you having trouble with faction within the NLD and so forth and to
see different view on politics.
Ans: I have nothing aware of it at all. So far. I must find out. But so
far, I am not aware of any different view.
Q: Havn't slorc sent any new people to report what happen within last 24
Ans: Last 24 hours! Well! you know my old laision officer was hear at the
press meeting. I was very happy to welcome.
Q: Why do you think why they are keeping your release as a serect.
Ans: I really don't like to speculate about other people motive. I might
be quite away out. So, it is better not to. I don't mind. It doesn't
Q: That you convince the military has the same view when talking to
the opposisiton forces.
Ans: You means, do they have good will to us as nation as whole..
Ans: Well! I'm very much hopeful. They always said they do.
Q: Are you getting any information on what happening on border areas
in the Karen areas.
Ans: No! I haven't read the paper today. Is there anything on paper about
Ans: I don't think so.
Ans: I am sorry. I don't know anything about it. I though there was
something in the paper. I am not sure.
Q: Is there a danger on over expectation from part of your supporters.
Ans: Yes, of course, there is always a danger. I would like to take this
opportunity to warm everybody not to expect too much too quickly. I think
there is still long away ahead. The way is not going to be all that
smooth. But as long as we have a will. As long as we go about
intelligently, I think we will get there.
Q: In how many years, do you think?
Ans: That's sort of speculation I don't believe it. People are always
saying how many years and how many years. Doesn't it matter. ? As long as
we get there.
Q: Did you received any message from organizations which are based in
Ans: No! How would they send the messages, through you? You better give me.
Q: What is imporatant thing toward democracy, to progress democracy? What
is the most important point?
Ans: The most important point I think for us is to keep our eyes very
very statute on our goal. And must not let ourself get aggressive by
un-important factors but to be reality. We may get very statutes. We got
to keep our eye firrnly on our goal and we got to be brave but not hardy.
I have to say this very very difficult to some of our young supporters
that courage and hardness are not the same. Courage means that if you
have to suffer for something worth sufferinmg for, then you must suffer.
But there is no point of unnecessary suffering. The whole reasons why we
want democracy is because we want to lessing the suffering of the people.
We don't want to increase it.
Q: You know how much suffering the people at the border areas.
Ans: Have you been there?
(reporter) Ans: Yes, I have been there?
Ans: Are they suffering a lot?
Q: Do you think you have a chance to go and visit there to see by
Ans: I don't thinlc I ever had a chance to visit to these areas. But I
think such a visit will do any good. If such a visit will do any good for
our nation, of course I would like to. But I don't want to go there, just
to take a look around. I want to do something possitive to come out of my
Q: What's your understanding of their sutiaution of daily life of the
ordinary people outside. What is your plan?
Ans: The first thing I have learnt in the last two ..three days..is how
tramendously inflationess. That is most people I have been talking about.
And I myself of course aware of it becuase I also have to buy my own
food. This is what a lot of people talk about how prices are goes up.
Q: What sort of leadership role do you see for yourself in the NLD
in long time future?
Ans: I think it is very dangerous to talk about your leadership for
yourself. I means it is always the people who decide what sort of role
they want to give you. That's the essence of democracy. The people should
decide who they want as their leader and what kind of leader they want
and how they want the particular leader to be. That's the essence of
democracy. I don't think it is for me to say I want to be like this or I
want to be like that or even I want to be a leader. It is for the people
Q: Are you going to meet us again?
Ans: I hope so. Or I don't know atout the next one or two days but if
there is reason to meet you again, I would like to. I am very fond of the
Q: Would you ask for more dialogue. Would you wait here the other side...
Ans: I though I've been asking for dialogue all the time. Did I not make
you clear? More dialogue! More dialogue! More dialogue!
Q: How would you feel the role of the UN in Myanmar?
Ans: I think the United Nations should be given an important role in
every country they belong to. I think so the United Nations role in Burma
also should have some significent.
Q. When a ...have you been most disappointed and also the most happiest
in this 6 years?
Ans: I don't think I had ever been very very disappointed and very very
harsh. I had adopt the Buddhist scence of equanimity. All the whole. Not
all the time. But actually, sometime, I was depressed. But not so much
that I can remember it. I had no time that I can find out I was very very
Q. Do you have any plan to see Gen Khin Nyunt and high officials
Ans: Well, I always said I plan to see them any time. So, my door is
Q. Why didn't you had such a meeting?
Ans: I think this is something you got to ask the Slorc.
Ans: I don't know about soon, I do believe that democracy will come to
Burma. Because it is something that people want. And I think in the long
run, they really cannot resist the people.
Q: You mentioned involvement of all political groups in Thailand. You
means that governmet of Dr Sein Win should take part in the meeting.
Ans: Dialogue should be extended to include as many people as possible
which will represent various political cultural.
Q: Do you have any plan to attend the Marty's day ceremomy?
Ans: Do you know I haven't in fact time to think about it. I know it is
next week but I think I need to sit down and discuss with this collagues.
Q: When do you think the Democracy will come?
Ans: I am not a fortune teller, you know. I never encourage people to go
to fortune tellers. And this not a sort of thing that I ever encourage.
Q: Is there any depression on your part any side or any fear that you
would not be released.
Ans: Absolutely sometime.
Q: Have you asked about help
Ans.. Oh! Ya! help is of course, ...security arrangement. I felt that
they have done with genuine will. I asked them when they talked about it.
And, they suggested that there would be better to have a few guards at
Q: Can you describe the first few minutes of you and former colleagues of
NLD, what you would like to see of all this year of many days in prison.
Ans: Oh! feel hostages.
Q: Here is a natural gas pipeline that being buiit between Burma and
Thailand. I don't know its already been asked. What is your view on this.
Do you think it is good idea to continue building this pipeline. Ans: I
want to look further into what this natural gas pipeline is meant to
achieve the people of Burma. Q: So, you don't have a d.....
Ans: No, I don't know that much about the gas pipeline apart from what I
heard from radio. I don't think that suffcient. -- I
Q: What do you think about the cease-fire between the rebels and the
Slorc? Have you support about this peace?
Ans: Cease-fire is a cease-fire. What we want is a permanet peace
settlement. I don't think this is just my openion. I think this is the
openion of everybody in Burma.
Q: about NLD ??? Have I ever sent my resignation?
Q: What do you think about Col Kyaw Win?
Col Kyaw Win is just as charming as Gen Khin Nyunt.
Q: How did you keep your spirit up during last 6 years?
A: Thinking of my colleagues, my father and ? ?
Q: Do you think you can restore the NLD as in 1989?
A: Absolutely don't want! We don't want the NLD to be just exactly as it
is in 1989. We want the NLD to be what it ought to be in 1995.
Q: Japan has stopped ODA aid to Maynmar since 1988 because of military
crack down in your gorup. Now, do you agree to reopening of the ODA of
Japan to your country.
Ans: I think aid donor country should depend more than the faith of one
person. I am just one person. And I think my release is not as important
as the a lot of Burmese people in general. And so the resumption of aid
to be base on what changes are broad about to better the condition of the
people. Rather than on my release alone.
Ans: I do not agree to hesitate step. I think, I would like the Japanese
Government to look at the situation and to save for the in fact situation
of the people has inproved.
Q: In your statement, you have Gen Than Shwe ask you to help toward
achieving peace and stability in Myamnar. But how will you do it?
Ans: This is something that we will got to talk it over. I cannot do it
alone. If the autorities wish me to help peace and stability, they also
have to make possible for me to help. You cannot just say "help." You've
got to make or create a situation which the help can be given effectively.
Q: And also you said your aim is to return power from military to the
people. And the same time you said the importance of dialogue. So how
will you make military to return power to the people through dialogue.
Ans: It was the military who said their aim was to return power to the
people. This is the Slorc that you see in the Burmese newspaper it is the
aim of the Slorc is to return power to the people. And since we want to
return power to the people. We see this is very good basic for
negotiation. Since this is the common airn.
Q: But if they refuse to do it. How will you achieve your aim?
Ans: We have to think other ways.
Q: Other way! What do you means?
Ans: Well! If they refuse to negotiate, do you means if they refuse to
negotiate, then we got to find and think of the way to persuding them.
The negotiation is the best way. Perhaps, we can provide enough reasons
for them to see that the best thing for the people is all of us concernd
to sit around the table and find the common way of solving the problem.
Q: Are you confidence that you can persuade them?
Ans: I am confidence that we will reach our goal in the end. I am not
saying that it is going to be easy. I said it will be very long. It is
not going to be easy. We are always saying in the movement for democracy
is not just that the road is hard. It is that there is no road at all. We
got to build the road as we go along.
Q: And the Slorc always inisit that the military must have a special role
in Myamar. So, Could you tell us your opinion about the role of military
Ans: We all have the special role to play. I don't think just one single
group has special role to play in the nation. Each group in the nation
has special role to play just as every single person has it own value as
a human being in the world. Even those there are billion of them.
Q: The election in 1990, the main subject was the dialogue with the
Ans: I'm sorry! Oh! the election of 1990! The most important thing of the
election of 1990 is express the will of the people, very clearly. And
that should would be one of the main subject of the dialogue with the
government. The Will of the People. Because, true democracy means
respecting the will of the people, identifying it and respecting it.
Q: Could you describe as precisely as possible your daily life?
Ans: Under house arrest! I was get up at 4:30 in the morning. I was
medidate for an hour. Then I would listen to the BBC world service, then
I would listen to the VOA news in the Burmese, and then the BBC news in
Burmese. If I could hear it, I would listen to the Democratic Voice of
Burma but that always not very clear, sometime I couldnot hear it. Then
of course, take bath, breakfast, and then the rest of the day I divide
into period for reading, for walk around the house, for soring and for
playing a bid of music. My younger son taught me to play a guitar last
year. So, I tried to play, but not very good at.
Q: How about piano?
Ans: Paino went out of order long time ago. And I must try something done.
Ans: I believed that most of this minorities groups who have reached the
cease-fire, also want the democracy. So, I would not let to think of it
as my movenment. I would like to think of it as the movenment of people
Q: But you are symbol of the democratic movement of Myanmar?
Ans: Perhaps, prhaps, I am symbol, but symbol is not enough. Symbol
does't get any work. It really work that get suite. Where you want to get
to. I think to achieve we need the support and cooperative of the people.
Q: It seems to me that the you are very, you want the people refarim from
over action in the democracy movenment. Do you fear some bloody reaction
from the government?
Ans: I would not primarily thinking about bloody reaction, as you put it.
But in the sense that I don't want them to have too high expectation.
This is not very healthy. We got to understand that there is too a lot to
be done. I don't want them to think that this because I have been
released, we certainly gone forward several steps. No! We've gone for one
small step. I am is a tremendous amount of injecting heroin use among
Burmese young. Slorc had admitted that at least 1% of all adult men and
0.5% of all adult women are injecting drug users. Needles are illegal,
scarce, and costly, and so re-used again and again. This activity has
been the root cause of the HIV explosion in the country, and rates of HIV
infection in drug users are over 90% in several cities. Drug treatment is
extremely limited, and addicts are punished for carrying their own
injecting equipment, insuring that needle sharing will occur. Lastly, the
blood supply is not safe. Injecting equipment in both private and public
medical care facilitates is re-used repeatedly, and universal precautions
are not being used for most procedures. Taken together, these sad truth
suggest that the Burmese HIV epidemic is out of control on all three
fronts; If a nation-wide campaign which addresses condom use, needle
sharing by drug users, and improving medical safety is not mounted
immediately. Burma will follow the footstep of Uganda, Rwanda, Haiti and
Zaire; countries where HIV control has failed, and where AIDS has
decimated the young adult population.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) an organization which
is capable of Slorc refusal to allow humanitarian and medical visit to
jailed political prisoners, including the visits to the democracy leader,
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Another NGO has had a team in Burma for nearly a
year, ready to assist with the HIV control program, they have not been
given permission to start their projects. While the virtue of
International organizations cooperating with the Slorc on HIV programs is
questionable, the reality is that the Slorc is not cooperating anyway.
Instead ethnic minorities are blamed, Thailand is accused of "spreading"
HIV to Burma, and the Shans are demonized as AIDS carriers. Nothing could
be further from the truth. Burma has become, in fact, an HIV exporter as
well as an opium exporter; the worst epidemic zone in China is the
China-Burma border, and the worst in India is the lndian-Burma border in
Manipur. Both of these flash points are on the drug routes out of Burma,
these epidemics points to a new danger of the drug trade; local use in
border areas with Burma now leads to rapid HIV spread. The ASEAN nations
would do well to remember that heroin use and the subsequent spread of
HIV brings are not just problems of users in the WEST, any country is now
What can be done?
Given that international organizations have been unable to establish
working relationship with the Slorc, and that NGOs do not function freely
under the Slorc, only the Slorc can respond to the HIV crisis in Burma.
They could begin by simply being open about the current situation, which
they have thus far refused to do (the information this article is based
upon is, because of Slorc's refusal to publish, from "leaked" documents
and from sources who must remain anonymous). A second step would be to
allow those relief agencies who want to assist with the problem a chance
to do this. Thirdly, the medical community in the country must be
empowered to do its work (empowerment of anyone but the military is not,
of course, the Slorc agenda). Lastly, the people of Burma need education
and empowerment to fight the HIV epidemic. It has been shown repeatedly
that local NGOs do the best job of education, organization, and
preventionif they are able to operate. It does not take long to realize
that all of the above solutions will be deeply threatening to the current
closed and illegitimate regime. This is, no doubt, partly why the Burmese
HIV epidemic has already gotten so out of hand. However, if such steps
are not taken, HIV will continue to spread at the current rate, and
Burmese will begin to die in numbers that may worry even the generals in
It is often said that only a political solution will bring peace to
Burma. We probably have to accept that only a political solution will
bring HIV under control as well. Both propositions, given the current
position of the Slorc, mean that solutions are far away for the people of
Burma, and suffering only too close to home.
7th Anniversary of 8-8-88
The one party political system in Burma was brought down by the popular
pro-democracy uprisings in 1988. The Burma Socialist Programme Party
(BSPP) had ruled the country for nearly three decades. Once prosperous
Burma's economy in ruins and Burma had became one of the Least Developed
Countries (LDC). Since before 1988, tension between BSPP and the people
was gradually growing. U Ne Win knew this very well and he was prepared
to resign from the chairmanship of the BSPP. However, the bitter feelings
of the people could not be easily erased because the BSPP could not
satisfy the demands of the people in terms of social welfare, politics,
and economics. People had suffered too much from the 1987 demonetization,
from declining social welfare, and from the rotten political system.
Moreover, ??????????? laws added to the anger of the people who were
barred from participation in the country's affairs throughout the BSPP era.
In fact, most Burmese people were not happy with the BSPP from the
beginning. General Ne Win led a military coup in March 2, 1962. He took
over power from democratically elected Prime Minister U Nu. From then on
General Ne Win suppressed every single movement of the people against the
military dictatorship. Students were the top target because they always
spearheaded the demonstrations. There were strikes of students, labours
and other walks of life from 1962 to 1988, but they failed to spread to
become nationwide. However, in 1987 the people could no longer tolerate
the military rule which had emptied their savings by demonetization
without any compensation. It was even worse in 1988, hundreds of students
were killed on university campuses, particularly in Rangoon Institute of
Technology (RIT) in March, 1988. Many female students were gang-raped,
and killed. The news of the ruthless killings by the military spread all
over the country although the BSPP was trying to misinform the people.
Ruthless killings in front of Rangoon General Hospital and in Sigaing
Police Station intensified the anger of the people. Parents, brothers and
sisters, relations of the students and other civilians who were killed,
raped, and tortured could not stay away from politics anymore. The whole
country was waiting for the time to express their true will for political
change and the elimination of the military interference in politics.
August 8, 1988 was the day which brought all the people in Burma to
united front to call for the end of the one party system. It was the most
important events in Burma's history after the Independence in 1947.
People from all walks of life took to the streets. They showed their will
in a peaceful and disciplined way. The people discovered that they have
the fundamental strength to make change. They participated in running day
to day administration, including finance and security by cooperating with
strike committees' leadership all over the country. People removed the
BSPP, and they did not accept the changes which presidents, Sein Lwin
(Butcher) and Maung Maung. People unitedly called for the formation of an
interim government without the military personnel and veterans of the
BSPP. "Democracy" and "Multi-party political system" were the voice of
the people. People enjoyed the "people power" for 51 days from 8-8-88
despite their uneasiness about the movements of the generals. Certainly,
there were some elders who told the younger generation to be aware of the
possible plans of the military to initiate unrest and fear among the
people under the name of Counter-Strike-Committee (CSC). CSC caused fear
among the people by poisoning drinking water, releasing criminals who
then committed killings, stealing things from government factories, and
destroying government buildings. The CSC under the control of U Ne Win
and his Military Intellegents systematically caused unrest, especially in
Rangoon, while the army was secretly preparing for a coup. The Army stole
millions of kyats from the Union Bank, stole rice from several different
stockpiles to bring to the barracks, and shuffled battalions from
front-lines to the cities. Finally, U Ne Win commanded the soldiers, who
were freshly removed from the front-lines and who never knew Rangoon and
other cities, to shoot the people in peaceful demonstrations. The
soldiers were told that the people were not ordinary civilians but
"Insurgents" or "communists"! U Ne Win stated that "the Tatmadaw never
shoot into the sky but to the target" in his last speech to the public
before his resignation in October 1987. Everybody knew that the target he
meant was "the people".
The Tatmadaw killed its own parents, brothers and sisters, and relations,
and crushed the people power on September 18, 1988. Tens of thousands of
civilians were killed during the peaceful demonstration and after the
coup. These bloody events will never be erased from Burma's history.
Innocent people sacrificed their lives for democracy in Burma and 8-8-88
has brought changes to Burma which can never be undone. People now do
know clearly that it is only the military generals who rule the country
which can never be ??? against the will of the people. There is no longer
any BSPP, just the Army. So, the aim of the revolution is to eliminate
military dictatorship from Burma. The goal is to achieve democracy and
human rights in Burma. And the struggle continues.
8-8-88 brought significant changes to Burma.
-The democratic opposition has already chosen Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as
their leader. As the co-founder and the General Secretary of the
National League for Democracy (NLD), she must play a prominent role in
-Students formed their own organization and army, the ABSDF in the
liberated area, ABSDF which plays a mediating role between the people
inside Burma and the armed ethnic minorities.
-The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) was
formed by the people's representatives who were elected in 1990 General
Elections, and as an exile government works to achieve support from the
international community, including the United Nations.
-The National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) was formed by the
NLD(LA), Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), National Democratic Front
(NDF) and NCGUB, which plays the role to coordinate the armed opposition
groups and other opposition groups in exile.
The opposition movement has yet to achieve the necessary political
changes in Burma despite some progress such as the recent release of Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi. The 8-8-88 Spirit must always be alive in our soul, it
must be the conscience of those of us are most responsible to complete
the task, the Struggle for Democracy in Burma.
What will be the concrete steps of Slorc to change into democratization
process in Burma?
After Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release, Senator Mitch McConell of Kentucky,
said he had prepared legislation that would impose tighter economic
sanctions on Burma. The bill will be introduced unless Burma takes
concrete steps... to initiate a process of national reconciliation, to
formalize the transfer of power to a civilian government and correct the
appalling record of human rights abuses.
Constructive result for Burmese, Thai people and regional security
The action of the honourable Senator McConell, Congressman Bill
Richardson and other democratic forces who are advocating for democracy
and human rights, have played a significant role in the history of Burma.
As long as the military dictatorship is economically strong, in order to
bring ever lasting peace in Burma, the objective for achieving democracy
by using constructive engagement will never work. It is doubtful that the
Thai foreign policy outlined by the new Foreign Minister Mr. Kasem
Samosorn Kaswersri -"keeping the national interest above all else"
actually bring positive results even for the Thai people. Thailand is
choosing to support the military regime in Burma as they believe that
this will be in the national interest of the country. We believe that
encouraging the common people in Burma and those active in the democratic
movement will serve Thailand interest for long term. The action of the
Slorc over last few months should be a warning for Thailand, the threat
of Thailand sovereignty along the border area and the boycott of Thai
goods recently introduced by the Slorc should be indicative of the
regimes attitude towards Thailand. By supporting the military regime, the
Thai government will find that the benefits in the long term for national
interest of Thailand will suffer.
In the 1990 May elections the democratic movement in Burma won by a clear
majority. In order to implement the wish of the people to form a
government so that our political problems will be solved through a
democratic process is in the national interest of Thailand. The Thai
government should be encouraging the Slorc to implement the democratic
process. This will be a genuine constructive engagement policy that will
unquestionably bring a constructive result to the oppressed people of
Burma as well as for the Thai people. This is the path, now, Senator
McConell and other democratic leaders in the U.S. are advocating. Until
concrete changes take place in Burma the initiation of the sanctions bill
by the US is a way to pressure Slorc. To resume aid to the regime at this
point in time is not a strong enough signal to the Slorc to begin the
first steps towards democratization in Burma.
Slorc's ploy under a slogan of peace and solidarity
On July 19, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, "I have been released. That is
all. Nothing else has changed." Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is now out of house
arrest but lives under the same restrictions and oppression as the rest
of the country. On the other hand, the Slorc continues to promote its
policy of achieving "peace and solidarity" by releasing Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and entering into a cease fire with the New Mon State Party. However,
on the other hand, it is attempting to achieve legitimacy through its
so-called National Convention. It is also determined to crush the Karen
National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party, the ethnic
armed revolutionary force currently under fire by Slorc troops. It is
crucial that these points are taken into account in order to establish a
proper analysis of this important time in Burma.
Discussion between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Slorc under this current
climate is not enough of an indication that Slorc is on the path of
democracy. Past experience has shown us that. There have been two
meetings between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Slorc prior to her release and
neither meeting resulted in any positive changes for the people of Burma.
For the proponent of constructive engagement, however, the fact that the
Slorc met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was heralded as a major success for
constructive engagement, especially members of ASEAN. This is simply not
so. Should the Slorc decide to resume their meetings with Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi then it is important for them to actually start implementing
steps to democracy rather than just talking about it.
Slorc's so-called National Convention
The National Convention is of great importance to the Slorc. It is their
way to ensure that they will achieve permanent military rule in Burma
under the disguise of a civilian authority. This is a well-designed ploy
to prolong the military rule in Burma for the long run. It has been
convened since 1993 and it is the longest convention in the world. It has
now been adjourned to October 1995. Genuine National Reconciliation will
never be established without ceasing Slorc's so-called "National Convention."
Although Slorc military dictatorship remained in power by brute force, it
still face the problem that it was an illegal government. Any legal
pretense of seizing power to take care of some temporary emergency had
completely disappeared with the May 1990 elections which were
acknowledged by the United Nations and international observers as
reflecting the will of the people. Anxious to try and find a way to
change its illegal status, as apparently believing that the outside world
is quite gullible, Slorc called a fraudulent "National Convention" to
write a so-called constitution.
It has been meeting off and on ever since. In reality it is not a
National Convention; it is a Military Convention. It was called by the
military; its day to day deliberations are supervised by the military and
the military commanded the convention, in writing, the so-called
constitution must guarantee the military the leasing role in national
politics in the future. A military Convention can never bestowed legality
on a military dictatorship. We are witnessing a desperate ruse by a
regime rightly obsessed by its own legality.
For decades, under successive military dictatorships, genuine national
solidarity has absolutely collapsed in Burma. Also, Slorc has employed a
"divide and conquer" strategy, trying to split up the nationalities and
the organizations that are resisting the dictatorship. The brutal
behaviour of Slorc in thei National Solidarity For decades, under
successive military dictatorships, genuine national solidarity has
absolutely collapsed in Burma. Also, Slorc has employed a "divide and
conquer" strategy, trying to split up the nationalities and the
organizations that are resisting the dictatorship. The brutal behaviour of
Slorc in their assault against the KNU under the pretext of religion was
done with the objective of completely destroying the KNU. While
international attention is focused on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Slorc is
conducting a military campaign against the KNU in order to absolutely
destroy it. Slorc troops has recently violated a cease fire agreement with
the KNPP, created problems amongst the ethnic people and causing doubts
among different ethnic nationalities. These act of aggression have done
nothing to establish trust amongst the different ethnic towards Slorc.
Furthermore, Slorc is also chasing the students who are struggling for
democracy and human rights hand-in-hand with the ethnic groups in
liberated areas. It will take time to establish a genuine peace through
the path of national reconciliation. The Slorc should announce immediately
a nationwide cease fire in order for any future steps of national
reconciliation to be taken seriously. It is essential for this step to be
taken and implemented otherwise the Slorc will have no credibility in its
policy of "peace and reconciliation." Recommendations To pave the way for
genuine national reconciliation, the following steps must be taken by the
Slorc; 1. All political prisoners must be released. 2. Unjust laws and
orders which deprive the basic freedom of the people must be revoked. 3.
Nationwide cease-fire must be declared 4. Slorc's so-called National
Covention must be ceased. 5. The on-going process of national
reconciliation must be announced. KNPP and Slorc's cease-fire Slorc has
followed a different "cease-fire" strategy to deal with the armed ethnic
groups compared with the time before 1988. Cease-fires in the BSPP era
were somehow intended to bring about peace talk or to solve the political
problems even though they did ot achieve the solutions. The Slorc claims
it has no mandate to solve political problems and that cease-fire groups
should participate in the so-called National Convention in order to
discuss politics. Some armed groups which entered into cease-fire
agreement with the Slorc in early 1991 were allowed to participate in the
National Convention. Later, however other groups were not allowed to do so
without a declaration of completed surrender to Slorc. Moreover, Slorc
repeatedly violates the agreements made during cease-fire talks. There
have also been assassinations of the leaders of armed ethnic groups which
entered into cease-fire talk with the Slorc and it is believed that Slorc
may have been behind these assassinations. "Border Area Development
Program" is another approach used by the Slorc to send its Military
Intelligents (MIs) as teachers or medical workers into cease-fire areas.
Border development has not been effectively implemented in cease-fire
areas. The Slorc's milita offensives against the KNPP, which had entered
into a cease-fire agreement with the Slorc only three months before really
exposed the Slorc's insincerity. KNPP and the Slorc held discussion three
times on January 12, 1994, on November 10, 1994, and on March 6, 1995. On
March 21, the cease-fire agreement ceremony was held in Loi Kaw, capital
of Kayah State. Up to that time, KNPP had put forward 16 points an
agreement and the Slorc rejected only one point. The point Slorc rejected
was, to remove the landmines which were planted by Slorc troops for the
security of Law Pita Hydro Power Plantation. The other 15 were, in brief:
not to expand the Slorc's military strength in Kayak State, release
political prisoners and KNPP soldiers, arrested by Slorc in Kayah State,
allow the civilians to move freely without fear of being detained for
porterage, forced labour, forced relocation, allow the KNPP to move freely
in Kayah State, and full scale cease-fire in Kayah State. Since the very
beginning of the cease-fire agreement, Slorc did not keep the agreement
Slorc troops ambushed the KNPP, led by Second Commander in Chief Col. Aung
Myat, on it's way to their headquarters on the Thai-Burma border. The
delegation went to discuss the border area development with the chairman
of Kayah State Law and Order Restoration Council, Col. Maung Kyi, in Loi
Kaw, on June 16. The delegation was told that Rangoon Central Command had
sent an order that Slorc troops must move to strategic locations in Kayah
State in order to prevent any trouble after the general elections in
Thailand. The delegation responded that they did not accept this because
it was in violation of the cease-fire agreement. On June 26, Slorc
started to move to launch military offensives against the KNPP. They
detained civilians from several different towns in Karah State, seized
horses, and demanded 200 kyats as porter fees from every household.
According to escaped porters, there were about 1,500 porters, including
elderly people, children and women. Slorc invaded the KNPP controlled
areas under the operation code name "Tai Lon Hein (echo all over the
state)" with 18 battalions. The battalions were: LIB 250, 336, 261, 423,
421, 426, 425 and IB???, altogether 8 battalions in northern part of KNPP
territory and LIB 337, 428, 429, 530, 427, 424, 531, 520, 430 and LIB 102,
altogether 10 battalions in southern part. The troops in the northern area
were under the command of Lt. Col. Ko Ko Kyaw and the southern troops was
under the command of Lt. Col. Min Din. As a consequences of the Slorc
offensives, thousands of Karenni civilians fled to border areas. The
influx of refugees into Thailand made clear the violation of the
cease-fire agreement. Slorc Secretary I Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt realized this
situation and sent a letter to the Chairman of the KNPP, Gen. Aung Than
Lay, to attempt to soothe the international condemnation, on July 3. In
the letter, he clamed that the fighting was just the result of
misunderstanding between the KNPP and Slorc's troops and that the Slorc
had no intention to destroy the peace which had been achieved through the
cease-fire agreement. Khin Nyunt asked the KNPP to solve the problems with
the Slorc officers at the front-line. It was obvious that Lt.Gen Khin
Nyunt was trying to cover the direct responsibility of the Rangoon junta.
Why did the Rangoon Central Command not simply deactivate its troops in
KNPP area? What is the real meaning of cease-fire talks under Slorc's
term? The international community and the armed ethnic groups and the
civilians in Burma had been frequently cheated by the Slorc. So the
question is, what extent is the Slorc sincere in its approach to the
process of national reconciliation, peace and solidarity? All the armed
ethnic groups who have entered into cease-fire talk with the Slorc have
suffered. Slorc need to change its approach to peace and solidarity
otherwise the civil war in Burma will never end. AFL-CIO assure support
sanctions On July 24th 1995 Phil Fishman, international Affair assistant
diroctor of the American Federation of Labour and Congress of
international Organization (AFL-CIO), testified concerning Burma the
United States Senate Appropriations Committee"s Sub-committee on Foreign
Operations. Speaking on behalf of thirteen and a half million mcmbers,
Fishman spoke on three areas of concern: forced labour in Bwma, action by
the ILO in regard to Burma and finally, sanctions against Bunna. Fishman
noted that the Slorc's use of forced labour for infrastructure projects ts
remains widespread and forced portenng for the military continues
unabated. Fishman based his testimony on interviews by AFL-CIO and other
observers in ethnic controlled areas of Burma and in Thailand. He
concluded that abuse of forced labour and porters by the Slorc's
administrative and military units was systematic and brutal The AFL-CIO of
ficial told the Senate sub- committee that the diversity of situations in
which the Slorc resortedto tbe use of fotced labour was stunning. It was
used for the construction of the YeTavoy railroad in the south, the
reconstruction of the palace moat in Mandalay, the HaiGyi island naval
base in the delta, the sports complex in Loi Kaw. Fishman went n two
particularexamples, the alleged displacement of villagers and use of
forced labour for the construction of the UNOCAL/TOTAL gas pipeline and
the use of forced labout in works being undertaken in pteparation for the
"199hVtsit Myarmar Year". Fislnnan referred to a documentary scheduled to
be shown in Britain on luly 25 which showed graphically the impact of the
pipeline on the lives of bcal villagers, while another programme seen in
the United Sates had revealed forced labours at work on a tourist site. He
referred also to the coverage of forced portering for the Burma Anny by
the National Geographic magazine in its luly issue. The AFL-CIO official
went on to describe to the Senate sub-committee the ILO's view tbat the
Burmese government was systematically in violation of ILO Convention #29
(concerning forced labour) and#87 (freedom of associabon). H drew
attention to action talcen against Burma by the ILO's Committee on the
Application of Conventions and Recommendations ten times since 1981, what
Fishman referred to as "a record virtually unmatched during the same time
period" Unless there is a satisfactory response to the ILO's 1993 censure
of the Bunnese govemment, the ILO is likely to recommend in the near
future "a comprehensive mission of inquiry" into a reoord of "unparalleled
abuse." The AFL-CIO representative conducted by congratulating the Senate
on the legislation intro ducing sanctions against Burrna which, he said,
the AFL-CIO strongly supported, "in solidarity with our trade union
brothers and sisters in the exilet Free Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB)." Mr.
Fishion referred to a recent letter from AFL-CIO President, Lane Kirkland,
to Aung San Suu Kyi, stating his belief, shared with Aung San Suu Kyi,
that "it is democracy and civil societynot economic opportunism-which will
ensure a better future for the citizens of Buma, " assuring her that the
AFI-CIO "will continue to suppott full international trade and investment
sanctions". U NGA REH REVEALS HIS EXPERIENCE IN PRISON (The following is
the story of U Nga Reh, general secretary of the Kayah State All
Nationalities League for Democracy (KNLD), who was arrested by the Slorc
before 1990 General Elections. On July 18, 1995, he told to the DAWN that
he wants the world to know about the suffering of political prisoners in
Burma prisons under the Slorc. Editor) I would like to divide my story
into two parts: the first concerns the movement of our party in Kayah
State and the secong is about my experiences in Myin Gyan and Mandalay
prisons. We formed out party, Kayah State All Nationalities League for
Democracy (KNLD) on October 28, 1988. The party's aims and objectives were
to promote unity among ethnic minorities in Burma, democracy, human rights
and ethnic rights. We launched election campaigns in Kayah States in six
different cities, Loi Kaw, De Maw So, Fruso, Baw Lakhea, Pha Saung and Sha
Daw. Our chairman was U Sao Nwe Thaung who was arrested on August 18, 1989
just two months before I was arrested. We were told that we were arrested
because we made anti-Tatmadaw speeches during our election campaigns, and
we talked about forced porterage and forced labour. We believe that there
was one more reason: the Slorc wanted to remove all parties from the legal
fold which could rival the Slorc-backed National Unity Party (NUP).
Although the Slorc arrested the top leaders of our party, we still managed
to win two seats in the 1990 General Elections. U Khin Maung Cho from
constituency 1 and U Victor Leh from constituency 2 of De Maw So township
were successful. U Khin Maung Cho, an executive member of the KNLD also
became a representative in National Convention. He was later expelled from
the convention because of his harsh criticism of the military government.
Finally, without any explanation Slorc abolished our party on March 3,
1992. I would now like to talk about our arrest in 1989. As I said, U Sao
Ngwe Thaung, our chairman, was arrested on August 18, 1989. Later on
September 15, our secretary I U Zaw Myint was arrested and my self on
October 26. The three of us were locked together in Loi Kaw Prison before
being sent to Myin Gyan Prison. U Zaw Myint and I were sentenced to 5
years imprisonment and U Sao Ngwe Thaung was sentenced to 10 years
imprisonment. We were then moved to Myin Gyan Prison on December 13, 1989.
A year and a half later, some 40 political prisoners were split into
others prisons in Mandalay and Meik Htila due to their secret political
activities in prison. U Zaw Myint's prison term was increased by one more
year for this reason. U Sao Ngwe Thaung and I were sent to Mandalay Prison
in June 1991 and U Zaw Myint to Meik Htila. In Myin Gyan Prison: As I
said we three were locked together in Loi Kaw for about three months. U
Sao Ngwe Thaung was called to Taunggyi, Eastern Command Headquarters, and
interrogated for two months. We were treated the same as other criminas in
Loi Kaw. These criminals and ourselves were moved to Myin Gyan on December
13,1989. We had to sleep in Meik Htila over night before we reached Myin
Gyan. The prison officers did not allow us to sleep without chains on that
night. On the 14th, we were at the gate of Myin Gyan Prison, where we
were checked for three hours. Our belongings were seized and we were given
one thin blanket and three white prison uniforms. We three were kept
locked in chains even in this small prison cell which was about 8 ft. by
12 ft. We had to use this one thin blanket as a bed on the concrete
floor. We had to eat and sleep in this concrete room which was also our
toilet. Actually, we did not have a toilet, just a small pot which we
used as a chamber pot. Our request to have drinking water inside the cell
was ruthlessly rejected. There was only a 1 foot square window on the iron
door to allow us fresh air. At the beginning, we were allowed to be freed
for a morning and afternoon for walk. However, everything had to do with
money. We had to bribe the wardens with 20 kyats and above for each and
every request to do this and that. From 6.00 a.m. to 12 noon and from 2
p.m. to 5 p.m. was the time we could walk outside. We occasionally made
discussion with other political prisoners. Unfortunately, everything was
changed, after the NLD and BCP members held discussions. All freedom was
lifted. We were told by the wardens that it was because the discussion
(the wardens called it "fighting") was very noisy. After that there was no
permission to communicate with other prisoners during our walk. At night,
we were not allowed to use a light, and no talking or whispering was
allowed. We never succeeded to persuade the wardens to let us read even a
piece of paper in the cell. It was a crime if you were found with a
smuggled piece of paper or prohibited materials. Even worse, we were not
allowed to use mosquito repellent. As you know, Myin Gyan has very hot
weather and a lot of mosquito. One thing I saw for the first time in my
life. Monks were punished by laymen. Do you know, we witnessed prison
officers forced 5 monks to disrobe and wear white prison uniforms like
other prisoners. Of course, those monks had been arrested and sentenced to
5 years imprisonment like us because of the allegation that they had
participated in politics. All prisoners, including the monks were
controlled by other prisoners, the in charge persons who were appointed by
the wardens. They were all criminals. They were like gangsters and asked
us for money for many reasons. Sometime, they were much worse than the
wardens. They would beat us for no reason. Everytime they came to check us
(I do not know what they were checking for) we had to sit in "standard
squat" until they completed their checking. If they were not satisfied
with the way we sat, we were subjected to beatings. We were not allowed to
see their faces while we were sitting (squatting). If we did not follow,
there would be beatings again. All from appointed in charge persons to the
top prison officers, used to come frequently to "checking" and demand
money. Mandalay Prison When I heard that we were going to be moved to
Mandalay Prison, I thought Mandalay would be a little better than the
present prison. Actually, Mandalay was worse. We found ourselves at the
gate of Mandalay Prison on April 30, 1994, sitting (squatting) in front of
prison officers and wardens. They forced us to cover our heads with black
cloth, they then searched our bodies. We were also beaten but never
understood why. U Sao Ngwe Thaung was beaten the worst because he shouted
at the wardens not to beat the prisoners. We were herded into small cells.
It was a shock to find myself alone in a very small cell after all. One
month latr, I got to know that everybody had been put in solitary
confinement like me. We all were locked in chains even during our solitary
confinement. We only got one bamboo mat for sleeping and a dirty chamber
pot. Nobody got drinking water only very thin boiled rice which was like
"salty glue." Many times I had to pretend to eat this glue because I did
not want to be beaten. After one month solitary confinement, we were put
3 persons in a small cell again. It was us different from the last month
except that we could talk each other. We were not allowed to receive any
visitors for six months. Ten of us who were moved from Myin Gyan were not
allowed to see any relatives for one year. After that, we were moved to
the cells where all the political prisoners were locked. The cells were
the same size as the last one but had more people this time. I was
squeezed into this small cell with 4 other persons until we ended our jail
term. I saw other prisoners whose jail term were already over but they had
to bribe kyat 3,000 to 5,000 to the wardens and officers for their
release. Many prisoners who sentences of less than 10 years imprisonment
were forced to go to "labour camps" which were the recruiting center for
forced labourers and porters or mine-sweepers. If you could bribe
thousands of kyats you could be spared from this. Can you imagine, how a
prisoner can earn that much money? In terms of the food we got in prison,
our daily food was only boiled rice and vegetables which were not edible.
Almost everybody got diarrhoea. We got meat once a week. But, after the
deduction by the wardens, so, we got just one third of the total, 33 gram
per person. I was released on December 27, 1993 but nobody appeared to
pay the bail so, I had to wait for two more weeks in Mandalay No. 5 Police
Station. I saw about 300 prisoners there. It was a hell. Five or more
people died everyday from malnutrition and diseases. Throughout my days in
prisons, we never saw any attempt by the prisons to take responsibility to
provide medical care for ailing prisoners. January 1, 1994 was my last day
in that hell. I wished all the best for U Sao Ngwe Thaung and U Zaw Myint,
including all other political prisoners in the whole Burma. I was sure
there were far worse experiences of other political prisoners in prisons
such as Insein, Ye Kyi-I. U Sao Ngwe Thaung was released at the end of
April, 1995 and U Zaw Myint was on January 10, 1995. I want the world to
know about the suffering of the political prisoners in Burma's prisons
under Slorc. There were no human rights at all. We were treated like
animals. I was released but there are thousands of political prisoners
still suffering each day in Burma's prisons.
CONVENTION OF ELECTED
REPRESENTATIVES FROM BURMA HELD IN SWEDEN NEW DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT OF
BURMA FORMED Following the release of Burmese democracy leader and 1991
Nobel Peace laureate Daw Anng San Suu Kyi on 10 July 1995 the National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) led by Prime Minister
Dr. Sein Win convened the first ever Convention of Elected Representatives
from the liberated areas of Burma in BoxnmetikS Swqdez., from 1 8-23 July
1995, The representatives of the people of Burma elected in the 27 May
l99O general election met to discuss the drastically changed political
situation in Burma and to re-organize the NCGUB into a more effective
force to support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi political initiativesin Rangoon.
The Convention supported Daw Anng San Suu Kyi's call for a genuine
political dialogs; and called on the secretary-general of the United
Nations to implement the UN Geneva Assembly resolution which called for
him to assist in the national reconciliation process in Burma. A
tripartite Dialogue between the Burmese military led by SLORC; the
democracy; movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; and Burma's ethnic
leaders, was endorsed. by the elected representatives The Convention
welcomed the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and thanked all Who worked
for her release, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's return to politics and her
determination to continue working for democracy in Burma was applauded and
welcomed. The Leading role played by SLORC Chairman Senior General Than
Shwe in Daw AungSan sun Kyi release was also recognized To give the
leadership of the democracy movement more flexibility to deal with the
rapidly changing situations the government formed by elected
representatives in Mae nerplaw on 18 December l990 was officially
dissolved by the Convention of Elected Representatives on 21 July 1995 in
Bormnersvik. The Convention unanimously re-elected Dr. Sein Win by secret
ballot to head the new government. The new government re-affirmed its
commitment to the establishment of a multi-party parliamentary democracy
within the framework of a genuine federal union. The broad based support
of the new coalition government is reflected in the make up of the
Prime Minister: Dr. Sein Win PND Foreign Affairs:
Finance: Bo Hla Tint NLD
Office Teddy Buri NLD
Information Maung Maung Aye NLD
Federal Affairs: Marko Ban DOKNU
Justice: Thein Oo NLD
Heglth Education; Sann Aung Ind
Prime Minister's Office Tint Swe NLD
Social Welfare & Development: Zahlethang CNLD
Labour Minister: Tha Noe ALD
The elected representatives
were joined in their deliberations by representatives from the! National
Council of the Union of Burma, leaders of the National League for
Democratic (Liberated Area), the United Nationalities League for Democracy
the All Burma Students Democratic Front, the Federation of Trade Unions -
Burma, and NCGUB representative. The Convention was hosted by the
Stockholm-based Olof Palme International Centre the Norwegian Burma
Council in Bommersvlk, the training centre of the Social Dermocritic Youth
of Sweden. Note: Buri is an elected representative from Karenni State
Marko Ban is an elected representative from Shan State Zahlethang is an
elected representative from Chin State Tha Noe is an elected
representative from Arakan State ALD - Arakan league for Democracy CNLE) -
Chin National League for Democracy DOKNU Democratic Organization for Kayan
National Unity ED = National League for Democracy PND = Party for National
Democracy Ind = Independent