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Burma army boots Italians out of st

Subject: Burma army boots Italians out of state

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The Asahi Evening News
February 20, 1996


The Associated Press

BANGKOK - Twelve Italian tourists found out that Visit
Myanmar Year doesn't mean the whole country. The army
trucked them out of a northern hilltribe village and sent them
back to the capital, Italian Embassy officials said Monday.

"They were very angry about it," a spokesman for the embassy
in Rangoon, who requested anonymity, said by telephone.

It was the second reported incident in a month of troops
harassing tourists in northern Burma. The military government
has renamed the country Myanmar.

Burma's military government, which has been denied aid and
loans from international financial institutions because of its
brutal human rights record, has been busy promoting Visit
Myanmar Year 1996. It hopes an influx of tourists will provide
it with badly needed foreign currency.

Supporters of the country's struggling democracy movement
have urged tourists to boycott Burma.

The group of Italians, who described themselves as adventure
tourists, were traveling in Kachin State, a remote northern area.

In a letter to the embassy they told of being awakened at 1 a.m.
on Jan. 3 in a hilltribe village named Nam Khan by soldiers
who said they did not have permission to be there.

The travelers believed permission had been obtained by their
tour operator.

They said they were loaded on to an old, open-backed military
truck in temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius and driven to the city
of Putao. During the journey, the truck nearly fell of a bridge,
they said. In Putao they were forced on to a plane for Rangoon,
the capital, they added.

The embassy spokesman said he thought the problem was lack
of communication between the central Burmese authorities and
those in Kachin state, which opened up for tourism only in late

Burma, he said, is not prepared for the wave of tourists it wants
to attract.