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BurmaNet News: December 18, 1995 #3

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Subject: BurmaNet News: December 18, 1995 #305

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The BurmaNet News: December 18, 1995
Issue #305

Noted in Passing:

	Japan now is in no mood and in no hurry to provide fresh aid 
	to Myanmar.  Any such move would not only spark international
criticism but also encounter opposition from within the ruling coalition.
- a Japanese senior Foreign Ministry official


December 15, 1995

THIRTY student representatives from Australia, Hong Kong,
Malaysia, Nepal nd Thailand joined colleagues from Burma
yesterday to protest the participation of the Burmese junta in
the first meeting of leaders of all 10 Southeast Asian nations.

The protest took place as Gen Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling
State Law nd Order Restoration Council (Slorc) was an route to
Bangkok from Rangoon for the historic event. Organizers ignored
warnings, surveillance and attempts by the police to clamp down
on demonstrations during the summit.

Police blocked the protesters from reaching the Royal Orchid
Sheraton Hotel here the Fifth Asean Summit was being held, by
surrounded them at the Central Post Office until 12.30pm. The
demonstrators were allowed to march on to the hotel, several
hundred metres away, only after all the leaders had left for
luncheon at another nearby hotel.

Than Shwe arrived at the Sheraton in the afternoon _ under tight
security provided by Thai police_ to find the students protesting
his government's authoritarian rule.

The protest attracted the attention of passers-by and worsened the
area's normally bad traffic.

The students issued a statement protesting the presence of Than
Shwe and urging Asean members to support the Burmese
pro-democracy movement.

The statement said Than Shwe and his delegation did not represent
Burma or the Burmese people because they came to power in a
violent coup in which more than 3,000 people were killed.

Slorc, the students said, is heavily involved in human rights
violations and has introduced an economic system that only
benefits the ruling class.

Slorc leaders have shown no willingness to engage popular
opposition leader Suu Kyi in political dialogue, they added, even
though they released her in early July after nearly six years of
house arrest.

The demonstrators said Than Shwe's participation at the summit
signified Asean's acceptance and endorsement of Slorc as the
representative of the Burmese people, a status that was not legitimate.

They urged Asean to introduce assistance projects which would
benefit the Burmese populace in general, to directly observe and
monitor human rights abuses in Burma, and to support and
cooperate with pro-democracy movements in the country.

They also called for a boycott of trade, investment and tourism
in Burma until Slorc hands over power to democratic forces.

"Asean's policy of constructive engagement has proven a complete
failure," said a statement adopted at a forum on Wednesday at
Thammasat University. The forum was attended by about 40 students
from various countries.

"Over 3,000 political prisoners remain in prison and human rights
abuses continue on a regular basis. Asean must consider economic,
arms and tourism sanctions against the [Burmese] dictatorship,"
the statement said.

Suriyasai Katasila of the Students' Federation of Thailand later
passed the statement on to Saroj Chavanaviraj, deputy permanent
secretary of the Thai Foreign Ministry, expecting it to be
delivered to the heads of government attending the summit.

"Asean is wrong for inviting the Slorc to the summit," said Jaimy
Parker of the National Union of Students of Australia. "Slorc is
not the legitimate representative of the Burmese people, and
Asean needs to reasess its policy of constructive engagement
because it is not working.

" They should take advice from Suu Kyi. She said now is not the
right time for investment in Burma. We believe Asean should look
toward following her lead and not include the Slorc in a
legitimate forum like Asean."

The peaceful protest was closely watched and by hundreds of
uniformed and plain-clothes policemen. They tried to determine
the protesters' identities, home countries and residences in Bangkok 
after being warned that more protests would take place today.

When asked if the protesters feared a backlash from Thai
authorities for disturbing the summit, Parker said he was afraid
the Thai police would harass Burmese students who are seeking
asylum in the country. He added that many of the students
protesting yesterday hold Australian passports.

In the western province of Ratchaburi, several hundred Burmese
students planned to protest today in the "safe area" set up two
years ago by the government to temporarily house the exiled students.

The BANGKOK POST (Dec. 15, 1995: Demonstrators rally at hotel in 
Burma protest) added:   (excerpts)

The Students' Federation of Thailand, which is also part of the
alliance, urged ASEAN to consider giving aid directly to the
Burmese people in education, public health and agro-industry,
instead of handing it to the Rangoon junta.

The federation said: "ASEAN countries should join hands in
pushing for the democratisation of Burma by supporting
pro-democracy leaders as well as the dialogue process towards
national reconciliation. "

The anti-Rangoon Karen National Union yesterday urged ASEAN
leaders to use the Burmese prime minister's visit to pressure the
junta into effecting political reforms.

In a statement yesterday it said: "The KNU ... would like to
appeal to ASEAN leaders to use their prestige and influence to
 ... persuade Gen Than Shwe of the need for the SLORC to urgently
make a real commitment to peace, freedom and democracy in Burma."

December 15, 1995

    US Subcommittee on Foreign Operation chairman Sen Mitch
McConnell addressed the Senate on December 8 on the subject of Burma.
Following are excerpts of his speech. 

LAST week, in yet another remarkable act of courage, Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi announced her party, the National League for Democracy,
will not participate in the constitutional convention called by
the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

As many who have followed Burma in recent years know, remaining
true to the people who elected her and the NLD in 1990, Suu Kyi

"A country which is drawing up a constitution that will decide
the future of the state should have the confidence of the
people"_ a standard SLORC clearly does not and cannot meet."

SLORC has now charged Suu Kyi and her supporters as engaging in
confrontational politics but, as Suu Kyi is quick to point out:
What they have termed confrontational is that we have asked for
dialogue, which we want in order to prevent confrontation. To
silence the views of people whose opinions are different by
putting them in prison is far more confrontational.

Let me assure my colleagues that Suu Kyi's understanding of the
deteriorating situation in  Burma is not a lonely minority view.

Last week United Nations, once again, took up the question of
Burma's political and human rights record. Once again, the
Special Rapporteur, Dr Yokota, issued a report which few may
actually read, but it is a powerful voice for the thousands and
thousands of Burmese citizens who continue to suffer at the hands

Dr Yokota paints a grim portrait of Burma today _ a picture which
stands at odds with the one the international business community
would have us see.

A few months ago, in my office, I listened as the chairman of a
large American oil company eager to do business with SLORC
denounced as rumours and gossip the idea that the SLORC was
engaged in any forced relocations related to his project. I
respectfully suggest this month's UN report rises above the
gossip standard.

I have taken the time to come to the floor to discuss these
events because I am deeply disturbed by twin developments: a
major campaign by American companies to enhance the political
legitimacy of SLORC even as SLORC attempts to crush the fledgling
democracy movement inside Burma.

In recent weeks, many United States businesses have engaged in an
aggressive campaign to persuade the public that SLORC is worth
doing business with because, like Vietnam and China, Burma can be
improved through economic engagement.

I think it is important to draw a key distinction. Unlike China
and Vietnam, Burma held legitimate elections and chose a leader,
Aung San Suu Kyi. The elections by all accounts were free, fair
and 7 million people made their views absolutely clear.

I must confess, I was appalled by a recent study produced by the
National Bureau for Asian Research which suggested these results
were essentially irrelevant.

The report said, Suu Kyi was: "Obviously sincere, but it remains
to be seen how successful she will be in her attempts and whether
her supporters are helping her attain a position of leadership."

Insult was added to injury when the report stated: "Even assuming
the time may come when she does have a say in how the country is
governed, it is an open question of how well equipped she is for
such responsibilities, and to what extent she would be able to
rely on experienced technocrats and administrators."

When recently pressed by a representative of the UN Secretary
General to engage in a dialogue with Suu Kyi, SLORC officials
dismissed the request pointing out, Suu Kyi was now "an ordinary
citizen, that in 1990 there were as many as 230 political
parties with which it would be impossible to establish dialogue
and it would thus not be even-handed to single out any one of
them". Well, she is the one they elected.

To make the argument that the United States should resign itself
to dealing with SLORC to bring about change, compromises the very
core of beliefs that define our history and guide this nation. We
do not yield to vicious dictators_ we do not abandon those who
strain against the barbed wire shackles of repression..

It is not just the campaign that is being waged here at home to
enhance SLORC's political credentials that has brought me to the
floor of the Senate. I am also concerned about recent events in Burma.

Not only has SLORC repeatedly and publicly rejected Suu Kyi's
call for a dialogue on national reconciliation, last week a
senior official threatened to annihilate anyone who attempted to-
endanger the military's rule. This week, the noose tightened a
little more and Suu Kyi was directly threatened. The official
military newspaper called Suu Kyi a traitor who should be annihilated.

Rhetoric has been matched by an increased willingness to restrict
Suu Kyi's role. In October, the National Democracy League voted
to reinstate Suu Kyi as general secretary along with a slate of
other officials. In yet another effort to work peacefully with
SLORC, the NLD submitted the leadership list to the junta for approval.

SLORC rejected the results as illegal and refused to recognise
Suu Kyi's position. Is it any wonder her party has decided they
cannot participate in the constitutional convention process?

Last week_ like every week since her release_ thousands of people
gathered outside Suu Kyi's home to listen to her speak. Each
Saturday and Sunday spontaneous crowds have made the pilgrimage
to her compound and left inspired by her courage, her confidence,
and her commitment to their freedom and future. It is a crowd
described in the UN report and in news accounts as large and
peaceful with a sense of purpose and discipline.

Unfortunately, two weeks ago,, there was a sharp change in the 
SLORC's tolerance for these gathering.

In an apparent attempt to restrict access to Suu Kyi, police
began to erect barricades around her home. I understand three
young student supporters were arrested when they tried to
intervene. According to Dr Yokota's report, corroborated by
newspaper stories, the three were charged and sentenced two days
later to two years imprisonment. 

These arrests were followed by another ominous development. When 
the NLD announced it would not participate in the constitutional
convention the party's senior officials woke up to find their
homes surrounded by armed soldiers.

Democracy activists are not suffering in Burma alone. Last week
nine members of The New Era newspaper staff were detained in
Thailand. The New Era is an underground newspaper with wide
circulation inside Burma _ apparently being caught with a copy
results in immediate arrest. 

Bowing to pressure from SLORC, in anticipation of an upcoming
visit by a senior junta official, Khin Nyunt, Thai officials
apparently have detained The New Era journalists _including a
71-year-old editor and his 65-year-old wife.

Reports from activists inside and outside Burma suggest a broad
crack down on democratic activists is imminent. I hope this is
not true and urged the administration to make clear United States
opposition to any such actions. However, the evidence suggests
there is credible reason to be concerned. 

In the near future the United Nations will take up a resolution
regarding Burma. I have been advised that the United Nations
will, once again, condemn the human rights and political
situation in clear and compelling terms. I commend Ambassador
Albright for her efforts to assure our support for Suu Kyi and 
democracy in Burma are spelled out in the resolution.

However, for more than a year the administration has argued Burma 
and SLORC has a choice _ they must immediately improve their
human rights record and move promptly to open the political
process or they will face further international isolation. I
agree, but my definition of prompt and immediate seems to differ
with theirs. 

I think we have given SLORC ample time to make a decision. Given
recent events, it is clear they have now intention to relax their
ruthless grip on power. So in conjunction with the UN resolution
it is my intention to introduce bipartisan sanctions legislation

There is no question that sanctions and further isolation of
SLORC is an initiative Suu Kyi supports. Indeed once again this
week she denounced the increase in foreign investment and urged
companies to wait until democracy has been restored before
bringing business to Burma.


OF REPRESENTATIVES         December 13, 1995  (abridged)

Mr. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I want to submit for the Record 
Ambassador Madeleine Albright's remarks on the human rights situation in 
Burma to the U.N. General Assembly Third Committee. I join Ambassador 
Albright's endorsement of the U.N. resolution to urge the Government of 
Burma to cease its violations of internationally recognized human rights.

I also want to take this opportunity to commend Ambassador Albright for 
her tremendous work on this issue. I encourage all Members to support the 
work of our U.N. Representative as she relentlessly pursues the cause of 
Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ambassador Albright had a 
great meeting in Burma this fall Aung San Suu Kyi.

Recent developments in Burma have given us cause for great concern. It is 
imperative that the governing State Law and Order Restoration Council 
understand that the United States and the international community will not 
tolerate threats or actions that suppress the advancement of the democratic 
movement in Burma .

(Madeleine Albright's Speech is not posted here as it was already posted in 
the BurmaNet News, Issue #300)


December 15, 1995   From S.N.M. Abdi
Yangon, Myanmar: The resumption of Indian Airlines' Calcutta-Yangon
flight after 23 years in more a matter of politics than communication.
India is keen to strengthen its ties with Myanmar, where the shadow of
China is lengthening. 
India's biggest source of worry stems from reports that the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council of Myanmar is considering a Chinese
gain access to the strategic Haigyi and Coco islands, Indian naval bases
in the Andamans and Vishkapatnam would become vulnerable. 
While Chinese influence in Myanmar has increased dramatically since
1987, Indo-Myanmar bilateral relations have nose-dived. The military
junta here openly accused India of aiding Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's
movement for the restoration of democracy. All India Radio's
pro-democracy broadcasts in Burmese language became a major irritant. 
Yangon lodged an official protest but the broadcast were stop only in
1991. Another sore point was the asylum granted by India to hundreds of
pro-democracy activists.  In the surcharged atmosphere, surveillance on
the Indian mission and its staff was stepped up. Even the mission's
request for STD and ISD facilities was turn downed. 
In contrast, China seized the much-awaited opportunity to revive its
relations with Myanmar when general Ne Win handed over power to the
General Saw Maung- led junta in 1987. The international trade and aid
sanctions imposed on Myanmar the following year after thousands of
pro-democracy activists were shot down by the army and Suu Kyi placed
under house arrest, came as a windfall to China. It capitalized on
Myanmar's isolation. 
China extended political support to the new regime and helped it build 
infrastructure like road and bridges. Trading between the two countries was 
stepped up; Myanmar was flooded with Chinese goods ranging from pins to 
bicycles. Its armed forces are Chinese-equipped. For building infrastructure, 
China, according to official, is pumping in $800 million annually. Since 1987, 
it has supplied arms worth $1.5 billion.
Historically, China has been close to Myanmar since 1962, when General
Ne Win seized power and isolated the country from rest of the world. The
Chinese were his only friends. He nationalized everything and Indians
were among the worst-hit.  Rich Indians left the country, leaving behind
the poor to fend for themselves. The Chinese, on the other hand, began
to exert their influence politically, socially and economically. 
There was a backlash in 1967. Chinese lives and properties were destroys
in violent riots. China retaliated by funding and activating the Burmese
Communist Party (BCP) to create difficulties for General Ne Win. Two
decades later, with the departure of General Ne Win, the Chinese cut off
all aid to the BCP to please the junta. 
Since 1993, Myanmar has forged close economic ties with three ASEAN
counties;  Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Although it is not a
member, it has attended ASEAN conferences as a guest of the host
country. It has been invited for the forthcoming Bangkok summit too.
Myanmar has signed a treaty of friendship and amity with all ASEAN
countries, barring Philippines. 
China, according to officials, is a bit worried by Myanmar's attempts to
diversify its foreign relations. Since last December, three top-ranking
Chinese leaders have visited Yangon. Prime Minister Li Peng came last
year, the defense minister arrived in August and Li Ruihhan, ranked
fourth in the party hierarchy, came calling this month. 


Hardline Moves Strain Constructive Engagement    (abridged)
December 15, 1995                  By Hisane Masaki
from carol@xxxxxxx

     Renewed political tensions in Myanmar are forcing Japn to consider
putting the brakes on its recently declared policy of gradually turning
on the aid tap for the impoverished Southeast Asian country. 
     When the military regime -- which styles itself as the State Law
and Order Restoration Council -- released dissident leader Aung San Suu
Kyi in July after nearly six years of house arrest, many Japanese
government officials couldn't hide their elatio

n, trumpeting what to them was the success of their policy of
"constructive engagement." 
     Following Suu Kyi's freedom, Tokyo began to move, albeit
cautiously, toward complete resumption of official economic aid for
Rangoon, which was frozen after the military took power in a 1988 coup. 
     As a first step, Tokyo provided 1.6 billion yen in grant-in-aid in
October for the repair of a nurse training school in the capital. 
     Until recently, Tokyo had planned to take a second step by
extending 4.8 billion yen in official loans for the improvement of
Rangoon's power supply network before the current fiscal year ends next
     But now Japanese officials say that the provision of those yen
loans is likely to be delayed until next fiscal year because of the
tense confrontation between the SLORC and Suu Kyi's National League for
     The power supply network is among the six infrastructure projects
that have been put on hold since the late 1980s because the yen loans
Japan had committed earlier for them stopped flowing into Myanmar. 
     The officials also say that Japan will postpone a planned
"aid-policy dialogue" mission to Rangoon again, until sometime next
year.  The mission, originally planned for October to hear requests from
Rangoon about Japanese aid, had been rescheduled fo

r this month. 
     The planned mission is designed to soothe the SLORC, which has been
disappointed with what it sees as Japan's slow move toward a full-scale
resumption of economic aid despite Suu Kyi's freedom, apparently
expecting Japan to show more enthusiasm about

 future aid.
     "The mission would simply provide a chance to exchange views with
SLORC officials on Japanese aid but would not pledge any fresh aid," a
Japanese government source said.  "But sending the mission now would
send a wrong signal to the international com

munity that Japan is clearly siding with the SLORC in its showdown with
the NLD." 
     Japan is widely believed to have played a key role behind the
scenes in persuading the SLORC to release Suu Kyi.  The fact that the
Japanese Embassy in Rangoon was first informed of the SLORC decision
reinforced that view. 
     Japan has had long and especially amicable relationship with
Myanmar, formerly Burma.  Aung San, Suu Kyi's father and the country's
revolutionary hero, received training in Japan during World War II. 
     "Japan may have misled the SLORC by giving an impression that its
aid tap would be turned on freely once Suu Kyi is released," a senior
Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on condition that he not be
     Before the latest confrontation emerged between the SLORC and the
NLD, Japan had also been considering an additional extension of grant
aid as early as next spring, aimed at boosting food production in rural
areas populated by ethnic minorities and i

mproving medical equipment at a Mandalay hospital. 
     But even the tentative date for this fresh humanitarian aid will
probably be delayed because of the political impasse in Myanmar, another
senior Foreign Ministry official said, requesting anonymity. 
     "Japan may have been too optimistic about Myanmar's political
situation," the official acknowledged.  "Japan now is in no mood and in
no hurry to provide fresh aid to Myanmar.  Any such move would not only
spark international criticism but also encou

nter opposition from within the ruling coalition," the official said. 
     What Japan fears most is another bout of military repression of
prodemocracy forces.  In that worst-case scenario -- indeed, there is a
possibility of that happening -- Japan will lose its face and will be
forced to reverse moves toward full resumpti

on of aid. 
     Many analysts say the SLORC will try to avoid quashing the
prodemocracy movement by force, as it did in 1988, for fear of further
damaging its international position and frightening away foreign
investors, who in recent months have been trekking to M

yanmar in droves to tap a potentially lucrative, resource-rich market of
some 45 million people. 
     But at the same time, the analysts do not rule out the possibility
that an accidental clash between the military and prodemocracy forces
would escalate into a repeat of the 1988 nightmare. 
     "The current deadlock in Myanmar's politics is likely to continue
for the time being," a senior Japanese government offical said on
condition that he not be named. 
     "We are closely watching to see if something that breaks the
impasse will happen.  The dates which we are paying extra attention to
for the time being are:  December 15, when Than Shwe will be in Bangkok,
and January 4, the 48th anniversary of Burma'

s independence from Britain," the official said. 


December 16, 1995  (abridged)

BURMESE junta leader Lt Gen Than Shwe yesterday told Asean
leaders this country is progressing towards an open-market
economy, a process he predicted will lead to democracy.

He said Burma's chances of becoming a member of the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations had increased as a result of the
SEA-10 nations meeting.

According to Kobsak Chutikul, director general of the Foreign
Ministry's Economic Affairs Department, Than Shwe told the other
10 leaders that he hoped Burma would be granted Asean observer
status when Asean foreign ministers hold their annual meeting
next year in Indonesia.

Kobsak, who served as one of Prime Minister Banahrn Silapa-archa's 
three "technical staff" during the summit, said all 11 leaders reaffirmed 
Asean's policy of non-interference at the meeting.

Than Shwe's remarks about the relationship between economic and
political development in Burma are seen as an attempt to allay
Asean concerns about the political and human rights situation there.
Asked whether Asean wants to see a dialogue between Suu Kyi and
the junta, Saroj Chavanaviraj, the Foreign Ministry's permanent
secretary, said the group would not comment since that would
represent interfering in others' domestic affairs. He  said simply that 
Asean "has been watching" political developments in Burma.

Saroj told a press conference after a meeting between Banharn and
Than Shwe, who chairs the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc), that the Thai premier had said he hoped to visit
Burma  next month. 

Saroj said Banharn told Than Shwe that the Thai Cabinet had
approved the border trade agreement between Thailand and Burma
earlier this week. He said the two countries could sign it soon.

 The two countries still must set a date to sign the agreement,
which was first proposed by Burma in February 1990. Saroj said
the agreement was based on a similar pact Burma had signed with
three  other neighbours  Bangladesh, China and India.

He said both Thailand and Burma want the agreement since it
should help regulate border trade and generate tax revenues. He
admitted that smuggling and armed ethnic violence were crucial to
the agreement's drafting.


December 16, 1995

DEPUTY Premier and Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was an
unexpected arrival at the summit yesterday. He turned up for a private
talk with his " brother ", Burma's Prime Minister Gen Than Shwe. 

" I just called on him as a brother," said Gen Chavalit, who
claimed it was nothing more than a chat. 

Gen Chavalit also met Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary general
of Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council, and
Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw. Their half-hour meeting comprised 10
people including Deputy Army Commander Gen Chetta Tanajaro and Lt
Sornchai Montriwat, a deputy interior minister who is in charge
of the Burmese delegation.


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