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BurmaNet News May 9, 1996

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------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: May 9, 1996
Issue #403


May 7, 1996

ABSL(HQs),New Delhi :    The Asian Students
Association(ASA) adopted a resolution on Burma
during its Executive Council meeting. It says that
the ASA will involve itself in the Burmese
students campaign calling a worldwide boycott
against the "Visit Myanmar Year 1996", which is
designed by the illegitimate military rulers in
Rangoon to grab some financial gain and political
credibility through tourism.

     The ASA ExCo meeting was held from 9th to
13th of April this year in Kathmandu, Nepal and
attended by the student representatives from more
than 8 Asian countries viz New Zealand,
Bangladesh, Philippine, Nepal, India, Australia,
Bhutan, Burma etc.,. The resolution was moved by
Mr. Soe Myint, ABSL's central committee member who
attended to this five-day students' meet as an
observer. Mr. Soe Myint, in his report to ABSL's
HQs, said, "ASA's resolution is one of our
successes achieved from the ABSL's "Boycott Visit
Myanmar Year 1996" campaign which was launched in
5 states in India and Nepal during March and April
this year.  The ASA's support extended towards our
fight for restoration of democratic and human
rights in Burma is very much encouraging. The ABSL
should consider for affiliating with this strong
student force of Asia since it has been more than
five years that two organizations started working
together in the region". The ABSL has also become
the member of International Union of Socialist
Youth(IUSY) in the beginning of 1996.

     It must be remembered that the ASA's HQs
might move from Hongkong to India in the year 1997
before the UK government hands over HK to China.


May 8, 1996, 
New Delhi.
By Karen Lowe

Los Angeles, May 7 : As activists  demonstrated outside an ARCO
shareholders meeting here over human rights abuses in Burma, the
conpanys chief said Monday the oil company would continue doing
business in Burma.About 30 demonstrators from Los Angeles
Campaign for a Free Burma demonstrated outside the Shreaton Grande
Hotel here where Atlantic Richfield Company was holding annual
shareholders meeting.

Asked whether ARCO planned to changed its business strategies with
Burma, chief executive offficer Mike Bowlin said a boycott by
American companies would hurt US shareholders without affecting the
regime in power. "If  US comapnies do not go into Burma, you can bet
the French (and others) will," he said, adding only an MNC boycott
would be effective. "We believed engagement is constructive."

Mr Carol Richards, of Los Angeles Campaign for Free Burma,
expressed disappointment at Bowlins remarks that dashed hopes that
ARCO would set example for other US oil companies doing business in
Burma. "That is the line that every single oil company takes. That
means that no one is willing to take the leadership and set the
example," she said, adding her organization had turned to ARCO
because "it has reputation of being responsive to ethical issues."

In July, 1995, ARCO entered a contract with Burma for oil and gas
exploration. ARCO gave the Burmese military-ruled government $6
million for the ecploration rights. ARCO, along with Unocal, Texaco
and PepsiCo are being boycotted by the Free Burma Coalition, a
network of 100 college and high school campus groups and 50 independent 
organizations from 15 countries opposing investment in Burma.

The students have been successful at cancelling a one million dolllar
Pepsi contract at Harvard University amid growing opposition to
economic involvement by US companies in Burma. Six US cities,
including Californias Santa Monica, Oakland, Berkley and San
Franciso have passed laws tha ban contracts with Burma-involved
companies. (Reuter)


May 7, 1996

ABSL celebrated 49th anniversary of Union Day on Indo-Burma

The central and northern branches under the command of the North
Eastern Regional Office of ABSL organized the 49th anniversary
of the Union Day of Burma in Moreh, a border town in Manipur
state in India.

The Union day celebration was held openly. It was a worthwhile
event, attended by members of ABSL together with 3000 local
public from Tamu and Moreh. The programme  started at 8 A.M and
ended at 4 P.M.

The celebration was very successful, thanks to the active support
and co-operation of the Sun Rise Youth Club and Kuki Students
Democratic Front. Photos and posters on Burma's democratic
movements were displayed beside the border fence. ABSL also
distributed audiotapes of the speeches of students and youth
leaders from ABSL, ABSDF(MTZ) and DPNS under the title of "good
news for people on Union Day". The speeches were transmitted
through loud-speakers and the whole population of Tamu town could
hear without any disturbance. Can the SLORC prevent each and
every oppressed person from hearing the truth?

ABSL joined with international youth

The first International Youth Festival organized by Jaipur
University was celebrated in Rajasthan State of India from 29th
January to 2nd February 1996. A delegation of ABSL led by Ko Kyaw
Than, Central Committee Member of ABSL, participated in the
festival. The Burma students and youth presented traditional
songs, dances and a skit highlighting the struggle of Burmese
people for democracy in Burma. They also explained the current
political, economic and social situation in Burma under the
ruling military government and distributed pamphlets and "FIST"
news bulletins to the participants.

The International Women's Day

The International Women's Day, 8th March 1996, was celebrated
throughout India by various women's groups, who organized
seminars, rallies and street demonstrations. In New Delhi, the
women from all parts of India gathered at a protest rally
demanding the reservation of seats for women in the Indian
legislative positions.

The Burmese women in India, under the banner of the Women Rights
and Welfare Association of Burma (WRWAB), got together in Janak
Puri, in the west of Delhi, to celebrate the international
women's day in honour of Burmese women who have sacrificed their
lives fighting against the military regime. Dr. Tint Swe, 
Minister from the Prime Minister's Office of the National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, U Thar Noe, Labour
Minister, and other democratic activists from Burma joined the occasion.

Since women comprise more than half the total population in
Burma, the role of Burmese women not only in the struggle for
democracy but also in the rehabilitation of the country is very
significant and crucial. The women leaders at the occasion urged
the international community to extend active and effective
support and solidarity to their various programmes  promoting the
living standards of Burmese women both inside and outside the country.


On 5th April, Soe Myint, member of the Central Committee
(Lobbying and Campaigning Affairs) of ABSL, who was in Nepal 
campaigning against "Visit Myanmar Year, 1996", attended the 13th
General Conference of the All Nepal National Free Students Union
(ANNFSU). The ANNFSU is the strongest student organization,
enjoying 73% of the total students's support in Nepal and is
affiliated with the Communist Party Of Nepal (United Marxists and
Leninists), the main Nepalese political party. Soe Myint, in his
speech to the Conference, extended ABSL's support and solidarity
with the efforts and programmes being carried out by the ANNFSU.
He requested active and effective support from the Nepalese
students and youth to the Burmese students' struggle for
democracy in their homeland.

Moreover, Soe Myint participated in the Ex. Co. meeting of Asian
Students Association (ASA), which was held from 7 to 14 April in
Nepal. The Ex.Co. meeting discussed and finalised the programmes
and activities of ASA due to be implemented in 1996-98. ABSL will
be working more closely with ASA and its members in the near future.


May 7, 1996

Renegade Karens and unidentified intruders have killed 14 
people and wounded 20 in 44 raids from October to April, 
according to border officials.

The raids, 36 from October to March and eight in April, have 
caused property damage estimated at more than one million baht. 
Among the dead are three officials, five villagers and six Karen 
refugees. Wounded were one officer, 14 villagers and five refugees.

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, which split from the 
mainstream Karen and aligned itself to the Rangoon junta, has 
repeatedly attacked Thai camps that shelter 70,000 Karen refugees.

Over seven months, its members and some ethnic guerrilla 
groups have attacked several border districts in Tak: 31 
raids in Tha Song Yang, five in Mae Sot, four in Phop Phra, 
two in Mae Ramat and two in Umphang, said the officials.

The raids were as follows:

* October: An officer of the 344th BPP Unit in Tha Song Yang 
was robbed of 9,000 baht while driving at night along Mae 
Sot-Tha Song Yang Highway by a heavily armed band.

* November: A 10-strong force of unidentified intruders 
encircled Ban Mae Salid Luang market in Tambon Mae Song on 
Tha Song Yang-Mae Sariang Highway and got away with 60,000 
baht in cash and valuables. The market is 800m from Ban Mae 
Salid police booth and 1km from a BPP checkpoint.

* November 11: Eight men blocked the highway at km 103-104 
with a fallen tree and fired M-16 and AK-47 assault rifle 
rounds at a pick-up truck driven by a police officer from Mae 
Moei, killing a girl of nine and wounding four other 
passengers.  The raiders escaped without taking anything but 
left a shirt bearing KNU insignia.

* November 26: Five Karens threw an M-26 grenade at a tourist 
van at km 105 at Ban Mae Lameng. The driver was killed 
instantly, 10 tourists seriously wounded and the van was 
destroyed. The attackers hung a shirt bearing KNU insignia on 
a tree and a pair of canvas shoes.

* December 2: Some 50 DKBA soldiers crossed to attack the Sho 
Klo refugee camp with assault rifle fire and rocket-propelled 
grenades, killing a Karen clergyman and seizing three former KNU 
soldiers. The raiders robbed refugees of 10,000 baht in cash and 
valuables and torched an accommodation unit before escaping to Burma.

* December 7: A group of 30 former KNU soldiers fired assault 
rifle rounds and M79 grenades at a petrol station near the Mae Sot-
Umphang Highway at km 44 in Phop Phra. A 11-year-old boy wounded.

* December 9: More than 100 DKBA soldiers forced the Thai 
driver of a long-tailed boat at gunpoint to take them from 
Bho Paw Hta camp, opposite Tambon Mae Song, Tha Song Yang, to 
Sho Klo. As 15 of them boarded, two were killed in an attack 
by an unidentified band.

* December 10: A villager in Ban Phakrajer, Phop Phra, was 
held hostage by 14 former KNU soldiers who demanded a 30,000-
baht ransom but came under fire from Thai troops. A BPP 
officer and an infantryman were killed along with one Karen, 
and three were caught.

* December 27: Some 30 DKBA soldiers encircled Ban Tee No 
Kho, Tambon Mae Usu, at KM 95 on the highway at 10.30 p.m. 
The raiders sprayed a villager's house with machine-gun fire, 
killing an eight-year-old boy instantly and injuring his 53-
year-old father. Before retreating to Burma, the renegades 
abducted the boy's 16-year-old sister. She has not been 
released. They also took 100,000 baht in cash and gold 
ornaments from the house.

* January 9: At least 20 DKBA renegades killed retired Maj-
Gen Ta Ru, 71, of the Karen National Liberation Army, who had 
been paralysed and was receiving treatment at Mae La camp.

* January 31: About 100 DKBA soldiers slipped across the 
border at Ban Mae Usu, Tha Song Yang, attacked a police 
checkpoint and a monastery with grenades and machine-gun 
fire, killing a police officer, a monk, and a villager and 
leaving two seriously wounded. The renegades returned to 
Burma with 100,000 baht in cash and valuables.

* April 1: Some 30 DKBA renegades with assault rifles and 
grenade launchers robbed five villagers in Ban  Mae Lae Yang, 
Tha Song Yang, of 200,000 baht in cash and valuables. While 
crossing into Burma, the renegades clashed with a BPP unit 
but made good their escape.

* April 2: A BPP unit fired two motor rounds in an 
unsuccessful attempt to stop the renegades recovering a 
stolen motorcycle hidden in brush and taking it to Burma.

* April 3: Heavily-armed 100 DKBA soldiers raided a processed 
wood factory near Ban Mae Tan, Tha Song Yang. The factory was 
owned by Promsap Phiewnuan, son of former Third Army 
commander Lt-Gen Prom Phiewnuan.

The raiders held a manager and two workers hostage before getting 
away with 100,000 baht in cash and valuables. They have threatened 
to torch the factory unless a 50,000-baht protection fee is paid.

* On April 19: A 1--strong DKBA band fired AK-47 rounds at a 
pick-up truck between KM 78-79 of the Mae Ramat-Than Song 
Yang Highway, killing Rungthip Khampradit, 26, the driver, and 
robbing her 10 passengers of 50,000 baht in cash and gold ornaments.

* April 25: Some 15 armed DKBA members encircled Ban 
Panorkhi, Tambon Tha Song Yang, at 3 p.m. and robbed the 
headman and five villagers of 23,000 baht in cash and valuables. 


May 7,1996
By Supamart Kasem

Border security has been stepped up amid a surge in crime and 
a refugee influx following military assaults by Rangoon 
troops against the Karen National Union.

In two years, the number of refugees driven from Burma has 
increased from 40,000 to 70,000 in Tak and Mae Hong Son, and 
the KNU's military strength has been sapped by the defection 
of fighters to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Organisation.

Third Army Chief-of-Staff Maj-Gen Prasit Monkoltham said the 
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council engineered the 
formation of the DKBO to fight the KNU.

The DKBO, led by Phra Usujana, acts as a policy maker, while its 
offshoot, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, launches military 

Maj-Gen Prasit said the Slorc wanted Karen refugees 
repatriated for fear they would support the KNU if they 
remained in Thai camps.

According to Maj-Gen Prasit, the DKBA was ordered by the 
Slorc to intrude into Thailand to kidnap or kill KNU leaders 
in the camps to pressure the refugees to return home. 

Although the targets of the attacks are Karens, many Thais, 
including businessmen involved in logging, have been robbed 
and kidnapped by Rangoon troops believed to be part of the DKBA.

The Slorc has denied any involvement with the DKBA. It 
maintains that religious differences caused Buddhist fighters 
to split from the mainly Christian KNU, and the two factions 
have since been locked in bitter conflict.

A Border Patrol Police source said the Slorc and DKBA have 
close ties. Maj-Gen Prasit said fighting and incursions will 
cease when Rangoon troops gain full control over border areas.

The army has imposed a curfew on Karen refugee camps to 
prevent unrest, Maj-Gen Prasit said, but it is difficult to 
keep track of such a large number of refugees, many of whom 
are still outside designated areas.

Col Suvit Manmuen, Commander of the Fourth Infantry Regiment
's special task force, said more refugees have yet to be 
brought into the camps at Sho Klo and Mae La.  Driven by a 
lack of medical supplies and food, many refugees have fled 
the camps in search of work, he said. With many Thai 
villagers remaining close to the DKBA and KNU, they have 
refused to give authorities information about criminal 
activities the factions are believed to be involved in.

In some cases, villagers and the factions have interests in 
logging and the smuggling of livestock and labour into Thailand, 
Col Suvit said. A factor in DKBA raids is a serve shortage of basic 
supplies which were normally provided by the Slorc.

Members of the KNU are thought to be selling weapons to other 
Burmese groups but in the meantime are using those arms to 
rob Thai villagers. Col Suvit said security was being 
heightened during the dry season when a lot of bandits slip 
across the border using shallows in the Moei River. (BP)


May 7,1996

The Third Army, in its second day of an operation against 
foreign and local armed groups conducting criminal activities 
along the border with Burma, yesterday recovered a number of 
war weapons and rounded up 85 illegal Burmese immigrants.

The operation is being conducted by Naresuan Task Force's 
special operation unit led by Col Naris Sriphet along with a 
combined task force of soldiers from the 4th Infantry 
regiment, Border Patrol Police and rangers.

>From 4 a.m. yesterday, the operational forces examined two 
refugee camps _ Mae La and Sho Klo _ and nearby villages in 
Tak's Tha Song Yang District.

Altogether nine M16 and AK47 rifles, a carbine, 362 rounds of 
assorted ammunition, six sets of landmines, 17 communication 
radios and 1,300 grammes of marijuana were recovered from the 
two camps and Thong Thara and Leopard furniture factories at Ban 
Kaela Buecho and Ban Mae Pho on the Mae Sot-Mae Sariang road.

The authorities rounded up a Burmese of Karen origin, Kyaw 
Lae, 34, with a carbine in his possession and 84 others who 
entered the country illegally and were residing near the two factories.

According to Col Naris, the operation which began on May 1 
involved searches of refugee camps and border villages for 
illicit items and illegal immigrants as well as foreign and 
local armed bandits committing crimes along the border. (BP)


May 7,1996

Intruders shot and wounded a village headman and attacked his 
wife with a rifle butt before escaping to Burma after a 
daylight robbery on Sunday.

Chandaeng Duangdet, 49, was shot in the arm and Mrs Sri was 
struck on the neck in the 1 p.m. raid on their home in Ban 
Oum Lor Neua, Tambon Mae Suad, Sop Moei.

The six intruders took 50,000 baht in cash and a one-baht-
weight gold necklace before retreating to Burma; he told police. 
Police reinforcements have been sent to track the bandits, said 
Pol Col Dusadee Neelaphamorn, Mae Hong Son superintendent. 


May 7, 1996  AFP

Pro-democracy opposition leaders have said Burmese military 
authorities acted irresponsibly and illegally in freeing Khun 
Sa, the former drug warlord, without bringing formal charges.

There was no legal precedent for letting a major drug 
trafficker off without answering for his misdeeds, said Tin 
Oo, vice-chairman of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's 
National League for Democracy.

"Nobody, be he a cabinet minister, a prime minister or a military 
general, has the right to make such a decision," he told the crowd 
at a regular weekend gathering outside Aung San Suu Kyi's residence.

A senior member of Burma's ruling military, Lieutenant 
General Kyaw Ba, said last week that Khun Sa was a "free man" 
and would face neither a trial in Burma nor extradition to 
the United States, where he has been indicted on drug charges.

Tin Oo said legally, an amnesty could only reduce a death 
sentence to life imprisonment, life to ten years, or reduce a 
lesser sentences by two-thirds.

The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) 
passed a law authorising such an amnesty for persons on trial 
before it took power in September 1988, but murderers, 
rapists and drug traffickers were ineligible, he said.

The Slorc should not act irresponsibly; it should respect its 
own laws by charging Khun Sa, putting him on trial and 
sentencing him, Tin Oo said. "If [after the sentencing] you 
want to show your goodwill and are eager to accommodate him 
 ... you can then use your power to invoke the general 
amnesty, he added.

The former drug king won the government's cooepration by 
arranging the unconditional surrender in January of his Mong 
Tai Army, which had controlled much of the heroin trafficking 
in Burma's eastern Shan State. The state includes the Burmese 
portion of the Golden Triangle, an opiate-producing region 
which encompasses neighbouring areas of Thailand and Laos.

* Reuter adds from Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh: More than 3,000 
Burmese Muslims are estimated to have fled into Bangladesh 
over the past two months and 700 of them were sent back, 
border guards said yesterday.

The new influx began in early March with a boatload of 
Rohingya Muslims sailing across the Naf River in the dead of 
night, the guards said. At least 17 Rohingyas drowned on 
April 20 when their boat sank in the river and police rescued 
30 others, they added.

Police said most of the infiltrating Rohingyas mingled with 
Bangladeshi Muslims in the Cox's Bazar border district and 
could not be easily identified due to physical and linguistic 
similarities. "We have arrested only 700 intruders over the 
past two months and repatriated them immediately," one police 
officer said. (TN)


May 3, 1996
By Barbara Crossette 
(from the New York Times)

Not so long ago, when the cold war was coldest, countries knew
where they stood on the issue of human rights. With a few
exceptions like the world's condemnation of apartheid the rule was
that the bad guys on the American side weren't really so bad, but
the bad guys on the Soviet side were horrible. 

When Communism collapsed, everything seemed possible, even
in the United Nations, where votes on issues like human rights
could in the past be tallied before they were cast. Activists arose in
many countries who had never before enjoyed an Independent
voice. The world held a human rights conference in Vienna in
1993 and dared to enshrine universal concepts.  A United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights was named for the first
Hold the balloons and whistles. 

Last week in Geneva at the annual meeting of the United Nations
Human Rights Commission, the world got a warning that the trend
toward open, nonpolitical discussion of rights might be temporary.
China successfully led the charge against scrutiny of itself by
rallying support from developing nations with the cry: You could be
next! Panicked nations of the third world now calling themselves
the "global South," began work on reforms that human rights
organizations and diplomats saw as a direct assault on the
institutions and procedures surrounding the 53 - nation Human
Rights Commission and the United Nations Center for Human
Rights here.

The Global South

The nations of the global South, many with spotty records on
rights, are a majority, at both the United Nations and in the world.
United, they are formidable. Today they are demanding
consensus on human rights issues, effectively giving any nation a
veto. A resolution that would have applied this practice to the
commission was withdrawn last week only when some of these
countries calculated how it might be used against them. It will
likely return. 

"If we analyze the vote on China this week," said Peter van
Wulfften Palthe, a Dutch diplomat who is leader of the
Netherlands delegation to the commission and one of Europe's
most knowledgeable human rights experts, "I think that the most
important conclusion is that whether we win or lose depends very
much on that year's composition of the commission." This year,
China relied on a solid block of African and Asian votes (plus
Belarus and Ukraine) to keep it off the commission's agenda. 
Geraldine A. Ferraro, who leads the United States delegation to
the commission, said that the Chinese, whose efforts failed last
year, worked harder on the North - South divide this year by
arguing that the richer countries "don't understand our cultures"
and always pick on the poorer countries. 

The examples of Aung San Suu Kyi almost single - handedly
sustaining Burmese hopes for democracy or the Buddhist monks
in Vietnam and Tibet bravely campaigning for cultural and
religious freedoms give the lie to the cultural argument. As for
development, Ms. Ferraro said, "How do we define Singapore or
Peru? How do we define developing?" 

John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor, sees Latin America drifting away from a
third - world consensus that human rights scrutiny is an intrusion
into national sovereignty. What many countries really fear, he said
in an interview here, is "the inexorable pressure that grass roots
movements for human rights and democracy are creating." This
can drive them into cynical alliances of convenience. 

Some Paradoxes

While almost every country champions human rights, many vary
over what those rights consist of, and influences range from the
political to the cultural. 

Foremost among Asian paradoxes, India identifies itself as the
world's largest democacy but votes regularly with the most
undemocratic regimes on human rights issues.  Arundhati Ghose,
India's envoy to the U.N. in Geneva, said her country objected to
the "finger pointing" method by which poor nations are humiliated.

Ms. Ghose met resistance on child pornography and sec tourism
when she asked Germany, Japan, Korea, and the Netherlands to
join in calling for a ban.  "They were willing to say, "O.K., we can
ban child pornography, but we are not willing to ban promotion of
sex tours.'", she said.  Members of the Human Rights
Commission had been shown German ads offering "boys of any
color, size or age."

"If we can agree that it's nobody's fault, but it's a bad thing, then
we can tackle it together," she said. "The moment you start
apportioning blame, people go on the defensive."

Yet he world has accomplished much in the five years since the
Soviet Union died, Mr. Shattuck said.  "What continues to be a
highly divisive process," he said, "is this debate over human rights
that takes place annually at the Rights Commission, where China,
I think, has now taken very much the same position that the
former Soviet Union did -- to do everything you possibly can do to
prevent international scrutiny of its human rights record."


May 7, 1996
>From tourconcern@xxxxxxxxxx

British tour operators have taken a unique stand on the human rights abuses
in Burma by sending letters to the military junta, the State Law and Order
Council (SLORC), in Rangoon.

Three tour operators, Symbiosis Expedition Planning, Himalayan Kingdoms, and
Nomadic Thoughts, have written explaining that the extreme nature of the
human rights abuses in Burma, (renamed Myanmar by the SLORC) which are
directly linked to tourism development, have prompted their decision not to
operate in the country (see enclosed letters).  They assert that they will not be 
operating tours to Burma until they are confident that SLORC's policy
of forcibly relocating people and using forced labour to build the tourism
infrastructure has completely stopped.  They also cite concerns that tourism
is not being developed in a way that benefits the majority of the Burmese
people.  One other operator, Cycle South East Asia is in correspondence with
the Myanmar Ministry of Tourism because of extreme harassment experienced 
by their tour group who were expelled from the country by the military for no
apparent reason.

Various operators who do operate in Burma, decided at a meeting at the House
of Commons organised by Tourism Concern this March, that a joint letter
should be sent from them to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in Rangoon.
This was sent this week, stating their objections to the human rights abuses
associated with tourism (see enclosed letter).

Signatories to the letter are: Imaginative Traveller, Indochina Travel,
Bales Tours, Andrew Brock Travel, Explore Worldwide, Exodus, Silk Steps and
Association of Independent Tour operators (AITO).  The letter outlines their
concerns about forced relocations and forced labour associated with tourism,
harassment of recently returned travellers by the military, and denial of
visas to some tourists who expressed a wish in meeting democracy leader, Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi.

"This is the first time that tour operators have made statements on human
rights abuses related to tourism development, and we are very pleased that
they are taking such issues on board," said Patricia Barnett, Director of
Tourism Concern, which is focusing on the situation in Burma as part of its
campaign on the displacement of people through tourism, Our Holidays, Their
Homes.  "Burma is one of the worst examples in the world of human rights
abuse being directly associated with tourism development, and we are
delighted that some organisations operating to Burma are making it clear
that such atrocities are not acceptable.  Most of the operators who have
signed the letter are smaller operators, however, and we are disappointed
that the larger operators have not yet agreed to take such an important
step."  (see attached list).

John Pilger and David Munro's film 'Inside Burma: Land of Fear', to be
broadcast next Tuesday 14th May (ITV, 10.40pm), is an under-cover
investigation into Burma's appalling human rights situation, and shows
clearly the connection of tourism to some of that abuse.
Over two million Burmese have been forcibly relocated from their homes to
make way for tourism development, and hundreds of thousands of men, women,
and children have been used as forced labour to build the country's tourism
infrastructure in preparation for Visit Myanmar Year 1996, particularly
roads and railways.  The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has put
Burma under the highest scrutiny by appointment of a Special Rapporteur, and
SLORC has also been questioned about the human rights abuses the
International Labour Office, as well as by human rights organisations such
as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Asia, and most recently, by
the European Union.

The SLORC has a target of 500,000 visitors to Burma for Visit Myanmar Year
1996, the start of which has been delayed until October due to problems with
infrastructure.  Electricity cuts and water shortages are commonplace in
Rangoon because of the pressure being put on the city's poor infrastructure
by the newly built hotels and services.   Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, founder of
the National League for Democracy, has made it clear that she feels tourism
is a negative force in Burma and has renamed 1996 'Don't Visit Burma Year.'



Letters sent from tour operators who have chosen NOT to operate in Burma:

Christopher Gow, Managing Director, Symbiosis Expedition Planning, 113
Bollingbroke Grove, London SW11 1DA.  Tel. 0171 924 5906

Jono Powell, Managing Director, Nomadic Thoughts Worldwide Travel, 22
Hopefield Ave, London NW5 6LJ.  Tel. 0181-960 1001.

Steve Berry, Managing Director, Himalayan Kingdoms Ltd, 20 The Mall, Clifton
Bristol BS8 4DR.  Tel. 0117 923 7163

Tracy Horsman and Diane Guest, Cycle South East Asia, 3 Normandy Mansions,
Normandy Avenue, Barnet, Herts EN5 2HY.  Tel. 01992 893252. (Tour was
stopped and expelled by the authorities for no reason).

Signatories to the joint letter by tour operators who ARE operating in Burma:

Martin Dunn, The Imaginative Traveller, 14 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick,
	London W4 4PH.  Tel. 0181-742 3113
Philip Normington, Exodus, 9 Wier Road, Balham, London SW12 0LY.  Tel. 0181
	675 5550
Suzi Poole, Explore Worldwide Ltd, 1 Frederick Street, Aldershot, Hants GU11
	1LQ.  Tel. 01252 319448
Sarah Kassim, Indochina Travel, Chiswick Gate, 598-608 Chiswick High Road,
	London W4 5RT.  Tel. 0181-995 3883
Andrew Brock, Andrew Brock Travel., 54 High Street East, Upingham, Rutland
	LE15 9PZ.  Tel. 01572 821072
Molly Bales, Bales Tours Ltd, Bales House, Junction Road, Dorking Surrey RH4
	3HB.  Tel. 01306 885991
D. McCracken, Silk Steps Ltd, PO Box 24, Bristol BS16 6JY.  Tel. 0117 940 2800.
Giles Gurney, AITO, 133a St. Margaret's Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1RG.
	Tel. 0181-744 9280

H.E. Lt. Gen Kyaw Ba,
Minister for Hotels and Tourism,
77/91 Sule Pagoda Road
Yangon, Myanmar
Fax.  009 51 282 535

7 May 1996

Dear Sir

We are writing as various British tour operators who have an interest in
operating in Myanmar but have some concerns about developing our own
operations in the country.  We believe it will be helpful both to you and to
ourselves if we can make you aware of what these are about.

Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries and can bring great
rewards to countries it favours.  More and more travellers are choosing to
visit countries that offer cultural attractions rather than just beaches and
sunshine.   However, these travellers are also interested in the people and
the customs of the countries they visit.  Mynamar has many of the right
attributes to capitalise on this growth in cultural tourism but at the
moment the number of visitors from western countries is small.

One of the reasons why the level of tourism to Myanmar is low is because the
State Law and Order Restoration Council has a very poor image overseas.
SLORC is considered by many travellers to be a repressive regime which
denies many Burmese citizens basic human rights.  There is also great concern 
amongst the travelling public and the travel industry about reports concerning 
forced relocations and forced labour associated with the development of tourism.

Travellers recently returned from Myanmar have told how their visit was
spoiled by disruption to their itinerary, by restrictions on their movements
and by government harassment.  Modern travellers and tourists do not expect
to experience restrictions on their movements when they are on holiday.
Publicity of this kind deters others from visiting Myanmar and deters tour
operators from promoting the destination for fear of excessive complaints.
If a tour operator is going to publish an itinerary in their brochure they
must have the confidence that they will be able to operate it without disruption.

The release of  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was much welcomed around the world.  
Itwas seen as a positive step in the right direction.  We have been
disappointed to learn that many visitors who have expressed a wish to meet
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have not been permitted to do so.  We have been
informed that some tourists and tour operators who stated in advance their
wish to meet her were actually denied entry to the country.

If it is your wish, as it is ours, that foreign visitors should be welcome
in Myanmar, then some steps need to be taken to clarify your position on
these issues and reassure potential visitors.

We would welcome a statement from you on these issues that can be
distributed to potential visitors.

Yours faithfully

Signed by:
Philip Normington, Exodus, 9 Wier Road, Balham, London SW12 0LY.
Martin Dunn, The Imaginative Traveller, 14 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick,
	London W4 4PH.
Suzi Poole, Explore Worldwide Ltd, 1 Frederick Street, Aldershot, Hants GU11 1LQ
Sarah Kassim, Indochina Travel, Chiswick Gate, 598-608 Chiswick High Road,
	London W4 5RT
Andrew Brock, Andrew Brock Travel., 54 High Street East, Upingham, Rutland
	LE15 9PZ
Molly Bales, Bales Tours Ltd, Bales House, Junction Road, Dorking Surrey RH4 3HB
Giles Gurney, Association of Independent Tour Operators, 133a St. Margaret's
	Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1RG
D. McCracken, Silk Steps Ltd, PO Box 24, Bristol BS16 6JY.
Tourism Concern, Southlands College, Wimbledon Parkside, London SW19 5NN.
	Tel. 0181-944 0464.  Fax. 0181-944 6583.