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BurmaNet News: February 23, 1996 #3

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Subject: BurmaNet News: February 23, 1996 #349

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The BurmaNet News: February 23, 1996
Issue #349



February 23, 1996

Agence France-Presse

SINGAPORE - Burmese opposition leader Aunt San Suu Kyi 
attacked the Slorc's focus on tourism in remarks published 
yesterday, urging more investments in schools and hospitals 
instead of hotels.

"It is true that many hotels have come in. But what progress 
has there been in the field of health and education?" 
Singapore's Business Times quoted the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize 
winner as saying.

Suu Kyi said health and education "are the two best 
indicators of the living standards of our people".

Suu Kyi also questioned the morality of promoting tourism in 
her impoverished country, saying that the "great mushrooming 
of hotels" had "not done (Burma) any service because it has 
affected the morals of the people for the sake of 
entertaining and marking money".

Burma has been engaged in a hotel building frenzy as part of 
preparations for a tourism-promotion programme called "Visit 
Myanmar Year" in 1996.

Associated Press reports from Rangoon: The Slorc has accused 
a United Nations official of abusing its hospitality by 
meeting Suu Kyi during a recent visit.
Giorgio Giacomelli, executive director of the UN Drug 
Control Programme, met her on Feb 11. Since Suu Kyi's 
release from house arrest, the Slorc has told foreign 
leaders and diplomats they are not welcome to visit Burma if 
they want to met her.

The two talked negatively about the Burmese government's 
anti-narcotics efforts, the newspaper New Light of Myanmar 
said, claiming that belittling the government's anti-
narcotics measures "was incompatible with the status of a 

Diplomatic sources said Giacomelli at first refused to meet 
the democracy leader because he had been invited to Burma as 
a guest of Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw. He relented after a 
diplomat asked him to see her in his capacity as a UN 
representative. (TN)



February 23, 1996

Heavy-handed editors have little fro those with possibly 
dissident imaginations, Aung Zaw writes.
What is missing from magazines published in Burma often 
tells you more about the country than what is left in.
In a recent brutal example, Thintbawa magazine had 58 of 160 
pages torn out by censors at the Press Scrutiny Board (PSB). 
Writers in Rangoon said it was some of the crudest 
censorship that had seen since 1988. The cover story, 
editorial, a special feature article and cartoons were torn 
out. Even the cover was blotted out with black ink.
The main reason for the censorship was Thintbawa?s coverage 
of the Rangoon University Diamond Jubilee and a comparison 
of the colonial and national education system, according to 
reliable sources. Burmese university rose up students 
against the colonial education system during British rule.
Ironically, an article by Burmese author, Aye Kyaw?s about 
the first student boycott under British rule was actually an 
old article and had won a prize. But current officials did 
not want the public to read it so they tore it out, said a 
writer in Rangoon.
All articles related to student politics, boycotts and 
criticism of the current education system are considered to 
be rebellious literature, said a writer in Rangoon.
Powerful junta leader Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, who presided over 
the Rangoon University Diamond Jubilee Ceremony, did not 
mention anything related to students uprising after 1962. He 
also evaded talking about the Students Union Building which 
was blown up by Gen Ne Win. ?It?s as if the Army were saying 
that the Student Movement prior to 1962 was good, then post-
1962 suddenly it became bad,? commented one foreign observer 
who was invited to attend the grand ceremony. 
Thintbawa is one of the most popular magazines in Burma, It 
runs features with emphasis on social and educational issues 
together with short stories and cartoons.
Last year, officials in Burma shut down two magazines, Kyi-
pwa-yay and Mahethi, for publishing advertisements from 
Burmese youths and students in Tokyo who were considered 
dissidents. The two magazines were allowed to reopen a few 
weeks later. 
Closing down magazines and  newspapers and throwing writers 
into prison are not new occurrences in Burmese.
The Britain-based anti-censorship group, Article 19, in a 
report released last year, said, ?Burma is one of the most 
heavily censored states in the world. It noted the 
contradiction between greater economic freedom allowed since 
the military government took power and the suppression of 
free and open debate and said the disparity must end if 
Burma?s chronic political problems are ever to be resolved.?
Under the State Law and Order Restoration Council about 100 
magazines and journals in Burmese are publishing despite 
heavy censorship. Many writers and intellectuals said they 
have recently been trying to test the waters. Even though 
they don't dare ask for freedom of expression they are 
privately criticizing restrictions and censorship laws.  ?It 
is good to have as many journals, magazines as possible,? 
said Pe Myint, a well-known writer. 
While tough on political writing, the ruling junta 
encourages publishers and writers for less threatening 
business-related magazines and journals.  
But even business magazines cannot escape from heavy-handed 
censorship laws. In the December issue of Myanmar Dana 
Magazine four paragraphs were blotted out with black ink. 
The article was about disgraced former South Korean 
strongman Roh Tae Woo who confessed he pocketed  $221 
million as President from 1988 to 1993. Roh Tae Woo wasn?t 
alone his corrupt generals and government officials were 
also brought up in the article calling them ?former 
generals? and ?former presidents.? 
Observers in Rangoon suggested this article could raise some 
unwanted parallels to former president, party chairman and 
dictator Gen Ne Win who is still believed to pull the 
strings of power. 
The only articles related to the Burmese democracy movement, 
that are tolerated are ?negative things about the movement 
and anti-Aung San Suu Kyi stories, such as a Burmese woman 
who married an alien.?
Since Slorc took power in 1988 many editors, writers and 
cartoonists have been put under surveillance and sometimes 
summoned for questioning. About 30 writers, poets and 
journalists were thrown into jail. Burma?s most famous 
satirist, Maung Thaw Ka, died in prison as a result of 
San San Nwet, Win Tin, Monywa Tin Shwe, Ne Min, and Myo 
Myint Nyein and some other writers and some other writers 
and artists still remain in prisons. Recently, it was 
believed that writers Win Tin, Monywa Tin Shwe and Myo Myint 
Nyein were denied visits from family members and received no 
food for weeks. The Slorc, according to sources, discovered 
the political prisoners leaked a letter to UN human rights 
investigator Yozo Yokota in November. (TN)


February 23, 1996

Burma?s military government has accused a United Nations 
officials of abusing its hospitality by meeting with 
democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a recent visit, a 
state-run newspaper said yesterday.

Giorgio Giacomelli, executive director of the UN Drug 
Control Programme, met with Suu Kyi on the last day of his 
February 7-11 visit to Burma.

Giacomelli and Suu Kyi talked negatively about the 
Government?s anti-narcotics efforts, the New Light of 
Myanmar said in an op-ed piece titled ?Joining Hands against 
the Drug Menace,? authored by Ngwe Soe. The newspaper?s 
opinion pieces are believed written by high-ranking military 
officer using a pen name.

The piece did not refer to Suu Kyi by name, but as ?the wife 
of the man with the long nose,? a reference to Suu Kyi?s 
husband, Michael Aris, a British specialist on Tibet.

Belittling the Government?s anti-narcotics measures ?was 
incompatible with the status of a gentleman,? the paper 
said. Diplomatic sources said Giacomelli at first refused to 
meet with the democracy leader because he had been invited 
to Burma as a guest of Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw.

He relented after a diplomat asked him to see her in his 
capacity as a UN representative. Neither Suu Kyi nor 
Giacomelli have spoken about the meeting.

Suu Kyi has criticised the military government for letting 
opium warlord Khun Sa walk free while other drug dealers and 
political activists remain jailed. Suu Kyi also attacked the 
junta?s focus on tourism, urging more investments in schools 
and hospitals instead of hotels.

?It is true that many hotels have come in. But what progress 
has there been in the field of health and education?? 
Singapore?s Business Times quoted her as saying. She said 
health and education ?are the two best indicators of the 
living standards of our people,? and a study of the two 
sectors would show ?whether or not there has been any real 

Suu Kyi also questioned the morality of promoting tourism in 
her impoverished country. She said the ?great mushrooming of 
hotels? had ?not done any service because it has affected 
the morals of the people for the sake of entertaining and 
making money.?

She said her countrymen felt that ?a lot of our young 
people, especially young girls, are going astray.? She 
repeated  her call for foreign investors to go slow on 
putting their money into Burma, saying, ?I don?t think my 
release is enough to indicate that there has been any real 
change in the situation.?

While questioning tourism employment figures released by the 
junta and complaining about inflation, Suu Kyi conceded that 
?there are a handful of people who have done well for the 
past five or six years.?

?But you should try to look at the hospitals where people go 
to in Burma. Then you will find out how much development 
there has been and whether if you were a citizen of Burma, 
you would think that is something that you would be 
satisfied with,? she added.

* The Indian coast guard seized three Burmese trawlers off 
its east coast in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday night for 
entering Indian territorial waters without permission, a 
coast guard spokesman said in Calcutta.

The coast guard patrol also arrested 29 crew members from 
the trawlers under India?s Foreigners Act, he said. Indian 
authorities are sensitive about foreign vessels approaching 
the Andaman Islands, as they are a major base and 
communications centre for India?s navy.

In August, the coast guard seized three Chinese trawlers 
flying Burmese flags off the coast and arrested crew members 
who were carrying sophisticated communications equipment and 
military maps, the coast guard said. (BP)


February 23, 1996

The Burmese military regime has agreed to take 
responsibility for cross-border attacks by its Karen allies, 
the Third Army commander said yesterday. Rangoon pledged to 
prevent any further incursions by the renegade Democratic 
Karen Buddhist Army, which killed three people, including a 
monk, in Tha Song Yang, Tak, said Lt-Gen Thanom Watcharapuk.

?They have promised to keep close watch on DKBA forces and 
not allow any more assaults across the border,? said Lt-Gen 
Thanom on his return from the 12th Regional Border Committee 
meeting in Moulmein, Burma.

The Burmese Government, he said, had also agreed to take 
back all Karen refugees living in Thailand. During the 
talks, Burmese officials proposed the opening  of border 
checkpoints in Kawthaung, Ranong, Mae Sot, Tak and in Mae 
Hong Son.

Lt-Gen Thanom said both sides agreed to enhance contacts 
between local officials to make sure problems do not 
escalate. The junta?s demand for compensation for the 
killing of Burmese in a Mong Tai Army assault on Burmese 
forces in Tachilek in early 1995, he aid, remained to be 
settled. (BP)


FEBRUARY 23, 1996
By Seth Mydans, New York, NY Times

There are not many countries left where you can?t buy a 
bottle of Pepsi, so when a suitable partner turned up in the 
isolated nation of Burma five years ago, Pepsico was eager 
to set up a bottling plant.

The timing was awkward, though. Just three years before, in 
a brutal crackdown, the government had choked off a 
democratic uprising, and this Southeast Asian country was 
under tight military control.

Burma became a target of human rights activists, who 
continue to press for the kind of boycott they say helped 
bring change in South Africa. Several American companies 
have pulled out in recent years. Levi Strauss dropped its 
contract suppliers in Burma three years ago. 

A spokesman, Michael Woo, said the move grew out of ?a very 
serious review of the social and economic and political 
environment there as well as health and safety issues, the 
human rights environment and the possible impact on our 
brand image.?

But Pepsico plunged ahead, thereby casting its vote in a 
longrunning debate between boycott and ?constructive 
engagement? in countries whose human rights policies fall 
short of American standards.

It is a debate with immediate implications, as American 
companies search the world for new areas of growth _ and new 
sources of cheap labour. As they do, they face issues of 
human rights, exploitative working conditions, and child 

Burma is a vexing case. The military government that seized 
control in 1988 has begun to open its economy invitingly 
even as it clamps down on political opposition, while 
manufacturers say the quality of work is consistently high.

American businesses, often in their own self-interest, have 
frequently argued that economic engagement is the quickest 
route to democracy, and Pepsi id firmly in that camp. 
?International trade over the long term builds understanding 
and communication,? said Elaine Franklin, Pepsico?s 
spokesman, citing the company?s presence in the Soviet Union 
before the collapse of communism.

She said Pepsi had started off small in Burma, with about $8 
million in sales in 1994. But she said Pepsi was in Burma, 
as elsewhere, for the long haul. 

In its global battle with the Coca-Cola Co, Pepsi has the 
edge in this nation of 45 million people, although Coke has 
made a little headway in northern Burma, where a thriving 
cross-border trade has brought cheap goods from China.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola, Kathryn Norton, said that for 
?strictly business? reasons Coke had no plans to enter 
Burma. ?Our policy,? she said, ?Is not to involve ourselves 
in political matters.?

Responding to the argument that companies should not dirty 
their hands with unsavory governments, Ms Franklin of 
Pepsico said: ?It is pretty arrogant of any company to 
decide to make its own foreign policy.?

US policy is neither to encourage nor discourage investment. 
But political sentiment is running increasingly against 
Burma?s government as it continues to stifle opposition led 
by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi _ who has 
said foreign companies should ?jolly well wait? before doing 
business in her country.

Measures that would impose economic boycotts are gaining 
backers in both the House and Senate, with the Senate 
version sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky 
Republican.The Unocal Corp, with a 28% interest in a $1 
billion natural gas pipeline project in Burma, is also 
moving ahead, despite aggressive lobbying from human rights 
groups. Barry Lane, a Unocal spokesman, said that if his 
company pulled out, another contractor would almost 
certainly step in.

?What good is it going to do,? he said, ?for the people of 
Burma by our not being there? We were in Indonesia when 
Sukarno was there; he put down some uprisings. But 
incredible improvements have been made there over the years. 
In the Philippines we began under the Marcos regime.?

But other companies, primarily clothing makers that can more 
easily transfer operations from country to country, have 
pulled out _ some for morality, others for practically. In 
addition to Levi Strauss, these include Eddie Bauer, unit of  
Spiegel Inc, and Liz Claiborne.

Levi Strauss has been a pioneer in ?socially responsible 
business practices,? issuing a set of guidelines in 1992 for 
its world-wide operations to insure, in the words of its 
spokesman, Woo, that its products ?are manufactured in a way 
that is fair and humane and compassionate.?

Typically, standards like these are applied to individual 
factories or local working conditions. Burma is a rare case 
in which companies have been forced by public lobbying to 
consider the human rights record of a whole nation. Other 
companies that have withdrawn have for the most part taken a 
practical approach. Human rights did not appear to concern 
them as much as publicity.

Eddie Bauer, for example, with 411 stores in North America 
and contract factories around the world, pulled out of Burma 
last year to ?better guarantee deliveries,? said a 
spokesman, Cheryl Engstrom.

In the past, the company has broken its ties with some 
foreign suppliers because of poor working conditions for 
factory workers. But in Burma, Ms Engstorm said: ?It is 
difficult for us, as customers of a factory, to go outside 
the walls of that factory and begin making determinations 
about the status of the country.?

Instead, she said, the company is concerned that because of 
growing opposition by the US government and human rights 
groups, ?it would become impossible for us to work in Burma 
in the future.?

Burma surrounded by nations eager to trade with it, sharply 
reducing the possible impact of any American withdrawal. It 
is not another South Africa, where an international boycott 
helped bring apartheid to an end.

As of the last fiscal year, the United States accounted for 
just 8% of the $2.65 billion in investment commitments to 
Burma, with France, Britain, Thailand, and Singapore 
accounting for most of the rest. China?s vigorous cross-
border trade, along with its increasing ties to the military 
government, are helping to spur the involvement of Southeast 
Asian nations, which do not want to cede influence to the 
region?s growing giant.

Still, backers of a boycott cite overriding human rights 
concerns. ?A lot of  people have the attitude that business 
is business,? said Matthew Donohue, a lobbyist with the 
Burma Action Committee, based in Portland, Oregon. ?But this 
is business that by being transacted is directly 
contributing to arrests and repression.?

This is something people will ?have to start confronting as 
we move into the global economy,? he said. ?We are going to 
have to assume some responsibility for the effects of the 
dollars we spend if we are going to consider ourselves to 
have the kind of moral fiber that traditionally the United 
States has held.? (BP)


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