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Burma Net News May 20, 1996

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The BurmaNet News: May 20, 1996

Noted in Passing:
	It is selfish to oppose Japan's ODA resumption on the grounds
	that it benefits SLORC. Even though they love her, Myanmar
	 people are now questioning why Suu Kyi rejects assistance from 
	a foreign country. -one Japanese diplomat 

			               PEOPLE OF MYANMAR


 Daw Suu's Letter from Burma #26

Mainichi Daily News, Monday, May 20, 1996

"Water Festival (3)"

Letter from Burma (No. 26) by Aung San Suu Kyi

The energy of the young is wonderful.  The NLD /thingyan/ festival had
begun at 8 o'clock in the morning an concluded at 5 o'clock in the afternoon
according to plan.  After the visitors had left, the young helpers who had
been on the go all day but who were still overflowing with vim insisted that
we oldies engage in a bout of water throwing with them.  So we took our
places on the young women's side of the water boats and together with girls
and children tried to splash the young men into submission.  Scooping up
water in bowlfuls at top speed and throwing it at stoically laughing young
men is strenuous work.  We participated in three rounds, one at each boat,
and ended up drenched to the skin, invigorated and exhausted.  In spite of
our best efforts only one young man could have been said to have dearly
"surrendered" as he held his cap up in front of his face to ward off our
liquid barrage.

As far as I was concerned, one such day of water throwing was quite enough
to last us for at least another year but of course the young people saw
things in a different light.  Before they had even finished tidying up for
the evening they were making plans to establish a little water throwing
depot on the side of the street in front of our garden the next day.  As
that would be the last day of the water festival, they were determined to
make the most of it.

Equipped with large tanks of water, diverse vessels, syringes and several
cassette tapes of thingyan songs, our band of water players took up position
outside the front gates next morning.  The star of the show was a small 7
year old.  Deceptively frail looking with long hair, sweetly pouting lips,
round cheeks and thin legs, this little girl had more stamina than most
boys.  She had been engaged in dousing others or getting doused herself
almost without respite since the first day of thingyan, yet she was
unflagging on the fourth and last day and outlasted almost everybody else.

It gave me a sense of deep contentment to work quietly by myself inside the
house while faint sounds of music and laughter and the shrill shouts of
children drifted in from the road.  To be able to clear my desk of
accumulated work and to know that our young people were having a happy time
afforded double satisfaction.  The water throwers occasionally wandered into
the house, faces glowing from their exertions, leaving a trail of wet
footprints, getting themselves something to eat.  During the hottest part of
the day they took a rest to recharge their batteries for the final
onslaught, then went back to join the watery fray with new vigor.

In the late afternoon, our water throwers asked me to join them.  On the
understanding that I would not participate in the action, as I was feeling
none too robust after the activities of the previous day, I went out to
observe the proceedings.  Two young men with whistles signaled to cars
filled with soaking wet people to indicate that those who wanted to have a
go at trying to get even wetter should stop.  The cars usually stopped and
with good humor the passengers allowed our water throwers to get to work
with their howls and other dousing equipment.  Some of our young people had
begun to slow down but the hardiest ones, including of course our 7 year
old, gave an impressive demonstration of their capacity for sustained endeavor.

It was obvious that many of those cruising around in cars for the joy of
exposing themselves to as much thingyan water as possible had imbibed
freely.  Inebriated merrymakers often make provocative remarks or crude
gestures and get involved in brawls quite out of keeping with the
traditional spirit of the New Year season.  But such unseemly behavior was
not at all evident in those who stopped for our water throwers.  Everybody
was cheerful and friendly and even those who were evidently tipsy did not
fail in courtesy.  The single exception was a man who jumped down unsteadily
from a car with a bottle of liquor in one hand and in the other an aerosol
can from which he sent out sprays of scent.  He became aggressive when he
was asked to contain his overwhelming enthusiasm.

Of course it was not all sweetness and light everywhere throughout the
festival.  Apart from the inevitable brawls that break out when spirits are
running too high, a number of traffic accidents resulting in loss of life
and limb, take place every year.  This year too was not free from the usual
quota of casualties.  There were also a few unnecessary incidents involving
NLD caps which had been sold at our ceremony on the fourteenth.  Young men
(wearing such caps), some of whom were not even members of the NLD, were
harassed by the authorities.  One young man was beaten, then dragged off
under arrest while his assailant was left untouched.

In spite, or perhaps because, of the repression and injustices to which
they are subjected, the Burmese have a remarkable capacity for extracting
the maximum amount of fun from the opportunities offered to them during our
traditional festivals.

* * *

This article is one of a yearlong series of letters, the Japanese
translation of which appears in the Mainichi Shimbun the same day, or the
previous day in some areas.



May 23, 1996
By Gordon Fairclough in Ranong, Thailand

CROSSING the border was easy says Ko Ye. He made the short boat
ride across the harbour from Burma's Victoria Point to the nearby
Thai port city of Ranong in broad daylight. No one asked him any

But Ko Ye knew getting to Bangkok - 560 kilometres and several
immigration checkpoints away - would be a different story. So he
turned to the only people who could help him in this dangerous
and unlawful enterprise: the police. For $100, a policeman drove
Ko Ye all the way to the capital.

But Ko Ye's contact with the police didn't end there. Every few
days, officers would shake him down for 200-300 baht ($8-12).
Finally, he was arrested. The police pocketed all of his money
and jewellery and packed him off to jail for four months.

There he saw what can happen to immigrants who have no legal
protection. Men were beaten; women fared worse. "Sometimes,
drunken policemen would come into the jail, take the women out of
their cells and rape them," says Ko Te. "No one dared help them.
The police said they would shoot us."

In Thailand and across Asia corrupt officials profit enormously
from the huge flows of workers crossing national borders. Not
only do they help illicit job-seekers gain entry, but also they
prey on them during their stay. This abuse of authority is made
easier by governments that officially outlaw immigration while
tacitly approving it.

Almost all illegal immigrants who make their way from Thailand's
borders to cities deeper inside the country do so with the help
of the police or the military. The standard fee, immigrants say,
ranges from $100 to $200.

Those who want to make the trip but can't afford to pay become
indentured servants. Nay Zar Htun, a 15-year-old from Moulmein in
Burma's Mon State, ended her eight-hour journey from the border
at the Bangkok residence of a former police general. A middle-
aged Thai woman came and took her home to be a maid.

For a month, Nay Zar Htun worked 18-hour days, cooking, cleaning,
doing the laundry, massaging her employers and sleeping on the
floor in a storeroom. Then she asked for her salary. "The woman
said that she had bought me for 5,000 baht, and that I would have
to work five months without pay," Nay Zar Htun says. She tried to
get away once and was dragged back at gunpoint. A month later,
she managed to escape.

Chalongphob Sussangkarn, who heads the Thailand Development
Research Institute, says that by hiring illegal immigrants rather
than Thais, employers save about 50 baht per person per day.
Using a conservative estimate of the number of illegals in the
country, this adds up to an annual windfall of more than $350

A lot of this money ends up in the pockets of unscrupulous
officials, who act as middlemen in the labour market and who
extort protection money from the illegals and their employers.

Some Thai officials say the only way to end such abuses is to
allow foreign workers to enter the country legally. "It's the
only way we can keep the police from mistreating them," says Sira
Chavanaviraj, the governor of Ranong." If they're legal, they'll
be much safer." But he admits changing the system won't be easy.
"Too many people are making too much money." (FEER)


Thai businesses depend on illegal immigrants

May 23, 1996
By Gordon Fairclough in Bangkok

THE people Mae Sot have always made the most of their location in
northwestern Thailand, a stone's throw from Burma. Many have
grown rich trading in timber and gems from across the border.
Now, the local economy is being fuelled by another Burmese
natural resource: people.

Driven from their homes by poverty, young Burmese are flooding
into Mae Sot in search of jobs. Many, like Ni Ni Myint, work in
the town's garment sweatshops. The 21-year-old Burmese sews
shirts 11 hours a day, earning about $75 a month." All my friends
want to come here, too," she says. "There's nothing to do at

The supply of cheap labour is luring more and more factories to
the town. But most keep a low profile, because they are breaking
the law. Almost all of the Burmese workers are illegal

Many of Thailand's labour intensive industries have become
dependent on low-wage, illegal immigrants who are willing to work
for as little as $2 a day, less than half the Thai minimum wage.
Business groups have been lobbying the government to make it
easier to hire these people legally. They argue that with labour
shortages in Thailand pushing wages up, cheaper foreign workers
are the only way they can stay in business.

But economists and government technocrats worry that Thai
companies are coming to depend too much on low-wage foreign
workers to stay competitive, slowing the country's climb up the
value added ladder. "That's not the kind of policy we would
advocate," says Amnuay Virawan, the deputy prime minister for
economic affairs. "There's no substitute for improving
competitiveness by using technology" and improving workers'

The government figures there are more than 500,000 illegal
immigrants in Thailand. Unofficial estimates put the number at
more than 1 million, or about 3% of the Thai labour force. Most
are Burmese.

Despite these workers' importance to the economy, the government
has been slow to ease legal restrictions on immigration. Almost
all are in Thailand illegally.

Businessmen have been arguing strenuously to change this. "If we
didn't have the Burmese workers, production would go way down in
agriculture and industry," says Paniti Tungphati, vice-president
of the chamber of commerce in Mae Sot. "Now everybody's breaking
the law - workers and employers."

His solution? "The government should make a special industrial
zone along the border. Factories in Bangkok that don't have
enough people should come here. We have Burmese workers they can

Businessmen in search of low-cost labour would not be the only
beneficiaries of legalization, proponents say. Immigrants would
be protected from rapacious police and other government officials
who routinely extort money from them. And the public would gain,
too. Regularizing immigration would allow the government to
register foreign workers and keep track of them, improving

It would also allow systematic health screening. Many Burmese
immigrants bring with them diseases, such as malaria and
elephantiasis, that have already been eradicated in Thailand. If
medical checks were part of a legal immigration procedure, they
could be treated or returned home.

So far, Thai unions have complained little about the government's
immigration policy. But if Thailand's economic expansion slows
appreciably, that could change. "If we have a recession, the
question of importing labour will become more of a political
problem," says Amnuay. "In some places, it could become an
explosive situation." (FEER)



The Daily Yomiuri
Friday, May 17, 1996

By Hiroshi Yamada
Yomiuri Research Institute

Persistent U.S. criticism of Myanmar's human rights record has
compelled PepsiCo Corp. to withdraw from the country, but
Japanese businesses are pressuring their government for
prompt, full resumption of official development assistance
(ODA) to pave greater inroads there. 

Dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi opposes the resumption of
ODA, saying that the aid, administered through the military
regime's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC),
does not reach Myanmar's masses. 

When Suu Kyi was released from house arrest last July, Japan
approved several ODA projects, including 1.6 billion yen to
help enlarge a state - run university for nurses. 

ODA now is at a standstill, though, because the junta has
failed to take steps toward more democratic rule, and Foreign
Ministry officials are divided over fully resuming ODA. Only
five such projects are under way in Myanmar. 

Suu Kyi sharply criticized the program in an interview with
a magazine published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, saying that 
only those with junta connections have benefited from the 
construction work at the university, and all the student nurses are
 members of the elite class. There is no guarantee that they would 
work in the interest of people in the future, the 1992 Nobel Peace 
Prize winner said. 

However, a visit to the university showed that the students
were not privileged; they are studying hard on small
scholarships, determined to serve Myanmar's masses. 

More nurse training is desperately needed after the former Ne
Win administration closed the country to foreign powers and
failed to improve the medical system, which has led high
officials to go to Europe for medical checkups. 

"It is selfish to oppose Japan's ODA resumption on the grounds
that it benefits SLORC," one Japanese diplomat said. "Even
though they love her, Myanmar people are now questioning
why Suu Kyi rejects assistance from a foreign country." Others
favor Japan's substantial ODA aid to Myanmar so as not to
miss the boat or alienate the junta government. 

There are a few facts that call for Japan's careful consideration. 

The U.N. Human Rights Commission recently adopted a
report by Tokyo University Prof. Yozo Yokota that said
human rights problems have not decreased since Suu Kyi was
freed from house arrest. 

U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ryutaro
Hashimoto recently renewed their commitment to democracy
and human rights in their joint declaration on Asian security
affairs, and the Japanese government has said it will consider
those two factors when deciding on ODA. 

When they do, Japanese officials should listen not only to Suu
Kyi but also to the Myanmar people. 

A close aide to Suu Kyi has complained that there has been
very little contact with the Japanese government. Japanese
officials should visit her to fully explain Japanese policies and
possibly change her views. 

Perhaps the Japanese Embassy in Yangon is loathe to do
anything that would annoy SLORC.  But by visiting Suu Kyi,
the embassy could dismiss any efforts for closer contact with
her on the grounds that it fully understood her views.

Suu Kyi has indicated that greater Japanese aid would benefit
only those connected with SLORC but this has not been
confirmed. Diplomatic officials need to get in touch with those
in the opposition camp to get an accurate picture.

Without Suu Kyi's support, extension of greater Japanese
ODA to Myanmar is unrealistic. At the same time, Japan must
also win the military junta's agreement.

Such efforts would contribute to the spread of greater
democratic principles in Myanmar.  The best position for
Japan on this issue could be found somewhere between
SLORC and the Japanese businesses. 

(Hiroshi Yamada is a senior fellow with the Yomiuri Research


(Burma Readers, Important story from Le Monde Diplomatic, translated here in
 English, about the Burmese drug traffic and the role of leading Slorc generals.
 We did want to send earlier but have experienced computer difficulties
 the last two days. You will see here some very good investigative reporting.
Dawn Star ,UVI.net Paris) 

Headline: Total Victory of the Burmese Generals, The King of the Opium 
Rally - and the Investors Keywords: Khun Sa, drugs, opium,
 United Nations Human Rights Commission, Mong Aye, MTA, 
Mong Tai Army, Slorc, Shan state, Shan nationalists, Shan army,
 Wa, UWSA, General Maung Aye, General Thin Htut , Khun Seng , 
General Khin Nyunt, Ohy Gyaw, Lo Hsing Han, Yang Mu An, 
 Kokang, Thailand Narcotics Office, ONCB, Spot, Total, Unocal,
 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Salween river, Than Shwe,Khin Nyunt,
Source: Le Monde Diplomatique, Mai 1996, 
(translation Dawn Star, UVI.net, Paris)

by Andr=E9 and Louis Boucaud*
(*authors of " Burma's Golden Triangle, " On the Trail of Opium Warlords ",
 Asia 2000, Hongkong, 1992)

On April 16th, a report was presented to  the United Nations Human Rights Commission (Geneva) which cited massive use of torture, assassination and forced labor in Burma. It only confirmed a reality already known but that hardly disturbs  neither the demo

cratic governments of the world nor foreign investors. Rangoon's dictatorship, after having crushed the virtual whole of the armed resistance movement, bagged " opium king " Khun Sa, now undividely rules the drug network, and only so much raised  its fing

er, its geste in form to the international community.

" Khun Sa, the opium king, has given up ". As soon as the information sent by the Reuters  News Agency  fell on the teletype machines at the first of the year, all Burma watchers were taken aback. On December 31 1995, the Burmese army, without firing a sh

ot, took control of the entrenched camps of the Mong Tai Army (MTA), along the length of the Thai border, in the Doi Lang wilderness, and, on January 1st, SLORC  (State Law and Order Restoration Council), military trucks penetrated into the sactuary retre

at of  Ho Mong valley, general headquarters of Khun Sa.

On order of their chief, the powerful rebel 18,000-strong Chan army came to surrender without combat. For the last two decades, Khun Sa defied the world, and built a considerable political-military organisation. Then, in December 1993, he proclaimed the i

ndependence of the Chan State, and severely renounced his outrageous ambitions.

The leaders of the SLORC  junta immediately capitalised on their unexpected success: did not his surrender  show the determination of the government's war against drugs? Rather, nothing is less certain...

In fact, to save his head and a minimum of power, Khun Sa betrayed and sacrificed the Chan nationalists. He exchanged toasts with delegations of Slorc military officials who had helicoptered into his general hgq.  Khun Sa abandoned his arms, including  Sa

m anti-aircraft missles, and he gave up control of his territories. 

That sudden turn about of events followed internal discord within the MTA.  Shan nationalists had criticized Khun Sa for his role as a dope dealer. The desertion in June 1995 of his lieutenants and of several thousand men vexed him cruelly, and fell hard 

after the betrayal of a number of supporters in Thailand of whom he once relied on. And during several months, at the request of the Burmese generals,  Wa military troops (United Wa State Army, UWSA), who signed a cease-fire with the Rangoon authorities, 

relaunched attacks against MTA Chan forces , in Mong Yawn valley near the Thai frontier. Khun Sa, felt aged,  and told some of his closest associates of his fear of dying. All these reasons can explain the " volte-face " of the hardened warlord, ambitious

 and charismatic as was Khun Sa..

Only a small band of  a few loyal campanions had been involved in the secret negotations with SLORC. Since November 1995, M. Lao Dai, his personal secreatry, was in charge of establishing contact with General Tin Htut, " Boss " of the SLORC Eastern Comman

d, based at Taunggyi. At the highest level, Khun Sa's uncle, Khun Seng, led  negotiations with General Maung Aye, commander-in-chief of the Burmese army and vice-president of  SLORC. General Maung Aye, once the commander at Taunggyi, like all the generals

 that came before him and later occupied the same post, was generously paid off by Khun Sa in exchange for a relative status quo control of the region. The burmese democratic opposition did not hesitate explain away  the limited military  gains of the Slo

rc offensive against the MTA between December 1993 and January 1994  by the financial ties between Khun Sa and General Mong Aye, more and more generously rewarded, that gradually he advanced higher within the Slorc hierarchy. And military operations, regu

larly announced, never happened

Nothing has leaked of the nature of the secret deal between Khun Sa and SLORC, except, according to Chan sources in the MTA, that the former rebel obtained a guarantee never to be extradited to the United States as demanded by the american government. Las

t January, SLORC foreign affairs minister, Ohn Gyaw, evoked the absence of an extradition treaty with Washington; furthermore, General Khin Nyunt, head of SLORC intelligence, announced a policy of national reconciliation. For them, Khun Sa had become a le

ading represenative of a small ethical minority, when only a short time before he was officially branded a " narcotics-terrorist ".  He retains in principle command of a 3,000 man army, maintained by the Slorc government serving as a state militia. Khun S

a's other recruits in the MTA army have already been sacrificed, taken in trucks to Langkho, and detained in a  immense camp, destined to increase the forced labor ranks of SLORC's " National Work and Development Projects  ". One thousand and three hundre

d former soldiers among them have already been relocated on  the Mawk Mai region railway.

SLORC thus oversaw the disappearance of one of the most powerful armed resistance forces in Burma, and one which threatened their projects in the Shan State. All that remained now was to convince international opinion of their genuine determination to era

dicate the opium trade. In fact, during the last few years, Khun Sa controlled only forty percent of the total  Burmese heroin production, even while he continued to increase his ties with Thai networks, which served to control the Thai border, with netwo

rks already reorganised through Laos and Cambodia. According to a Chan source, the former army of Khun Sa will abandon the Ho Mong valley, too close to Thailand, and
 to be redeployed in northern Burma near the towns of Tang Yang and Loi Maw. That done, the Burmese will be able to counter the influence of the Was and the Kokanais in the regon, already rich in poppy fields, well-known for their high quality of opium. F

or the most part, the poppy production falls under zones controlled by the Burmese army or by the Khun Sa militia forces that hav signed peace with Rangoon, in the Kokang and Was districts.

The Burmese generals cultivate close relations with the drug bosses like Lo Hsing Han or Yang Mu An, in the Kokang. At the end of last year, General Khin Nyunt returned to Panghsang, center of  command headquarters of  the UWSA on the Chinese border, in o

rder to persuade the two Was leaders, Chao Ni Lai and Pao Yo Chang, to stage a demonstration of drug destruction.  The Was dragged out talks, then refused. Nonetheless, the operation took place weeks after the surrender of Khun Sa. Hundreds of kilos of op

ium and marijuana were burned in front of rows of invited press and guests, but they forgot to mention that opium production has increased to several thousands of tons.

The Chinese has become the transit country replacing Thailand for taking drugs out of Burma. The vice-governor of Yunnan declared, April 1995, that 50 tons of Burmese heroin were exported each year from Yunnan.  In technical cooperation with the French co

mpany SPOT, Thailand launched a project of satellite photo detection and analysis capable of localizing with precisions the zones of poppy  cultivation. However, in order to adequately read the photos, a perfect knowledge of the photographed region is nec

essary. Once all the required information is assembled, it is then possible to have a reas
onably good estimate of the surface area of poppy production, taking into account soil quality and rain levels, along with various climatic conditions.

General Chavalit Yodmani, who directed the Thailand Narcotics Office, ONCB, until the end of last year, had proposed that the SPOT program be extended throughout Asia and the South East. While China, Laos and Vietnam favor the incentive, that is not the c

ase with Burma. It is true that, during a conference in 1993, in Chiang Mai, photos had already confirmed the location of cultivated poppy zones inside Burma, principally in regions under Slorc control.

>From this time on, Slorc has its hands free to carry out its projects in th
e Chan State. Planned dams for the Salween river, are of particular importance to Thailand's energy and water  needs, as well as for the Chinese of Yunnan. Their presence is visible in every city of the Chan State, and their technicians are omnipresent on

 new infrastructure construction, for example, the future bridge of Wan Hsa La on the Salween. A rumor also puts  a chinese intermediary in the negotiations between Khun Sa and Slorc. And, a week after his surrender, a high-level junta delegation, led by 

the ruling generals Than Shwe and Khin Nyunt, was welcomed in China. 

Already in February, 1995, immediately after the fall of the main Karen rebel camps, Burmese leaders signed the construction deal for the Yadana gas pipeline with the French company Total, and its american partner, Unocal. That too, because in the south, 

Slorc had made progressive gains, having obtained a cease-fire agreement with the minority ethnic group, Mon, from the same region where the gas pipeline construction is planned. With the Mon rebellion surpressed, the Slorc generals and their partners, th

e directors of the oil companies can breathe more easily, because the remaining few rebel Karen factions and opposing burmans no longer have the means to seriously damage the pipeline construction.  Further, in a public relations campaign orchestrated by 

Slorc concerned, Total and Unocal finance several social programs and medical dispensaries, all the while continuing to ignore that a part of the work done on their pipeline construction is composed of Mon and Karen villagers recruited by force and subjec

ted to abominable living conditions.(1)

Also, in 1995, Slorc removed another source of pressure, this time from the outside, by releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, who had been under house arrest for six years.

The junta obtained satisfaction from influential foreign countries, donors of development assistance programs, who had made the extension of  future aid loans conditional to the release of the woman who is the symbol of th democratic opposition. From the 

day after her release on July 11, 1995, Japan lifted its ban on letters of credit. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, using video-tapes smuggled and broadcast outside the country, has called upon foreign companies not to pour investment into Burma.  " We need investme

nt, but investment too early will be against the process of democracy, and even against the real development needs of the country ", she declared. But the local medi
a is totally controlled by the Slorc government and ignores her appeal.

(1) Read Andre9 et Louis Boucard, " Derrie8re les sourires de la 'narcodictature' birmane ". " La dictature birmane sur la voie capitaliste", and Renaldo Gassi, " Le viol permanent du peuple birmane ", respectivement dans Le Monde diplomatique de juin 199

4, mai et decembre 1995.


by  U Kyaw Win:

The essay I have written is a small token of my  appreciation  for  the
kindness and generosity I was treated with by the Karenni people,  who
continue  to  live a life of uncertainty, separated from family, struggling
daily  to  keep  up  the hope that one day, they will be able to go home.

For "T" multinational Corporations have long been criticized for making
unethical, immoral decisions in  their  attempts  to  increase  profits.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the military dictatorship of Myanmar
(aka  Burma). For the past 10 years the State Law and Order  Restoration
committee  (sic)  has been waging a violent war against democracy and the
freedom  of  its  indigenous people. The military's tactics of murder and
torture  have  brutally  suppressed individual human rights and have forced
many  people  to  flee  their  homes  and escape to the relative safety of
neighboring  Thailand.  The  refugees  live  a life of uncertainty and
fear. Desperate  for  news  of  their  loved  ones,  many are torn between
the safety of the refugee camps and  the  risk  of  going  home. Years away
from family and friends have been torturous for these people.

The Karenni people, along with other ethnic minorities  in  Myanmar,  have
been waging a silent war against SLORC  troops  along  the  Thai  border.
They  fight for freedom despite the difficult odds  of  battle  against  a
much  bigger  and better supplied army against them. In an effort  to
consolidate  their  control, the Burmese military dictatorship desperately
seeks more money to keep its army supplied with weapons.  The recent
release of  Nobel  Peace  Prize  laureate  Aung San Suu Kyi was merely
symbolic maneuvering in an attempt to  attract  more foreign investment
with the image of a less oppressive, more humane government.  Although one
person walks free, millions more suffer.

Since the overthrow of the democratically elected  government,  most  companies
have found it morally wrong to do business with the  oppressive  military
regime of Myanmar.  Unfortunately, a few have ignored international cries
tofinancially isolate the  dictators  and  have  invested  regardless.
PepsiCo  in particular has not only found it morally acceptable,  but
extremely  profitable. Forty percent of PepsiCo's bottling profits in
Myanmar are given to the government.  In return, the government allows
PepsiCo to monopolize the market. The revenue PepsiCo turns  over  to 
 SLORC  subsidizes  the ever-growing military and further cements 
the positions of the dictators incharge.

It is morally reprehensible that a company like PepsiCo would invest and
collaborate with the military dictators of  Myanmar.  Their  willingness
to  do business with the regime sets the democracy movement in  Third
World  countries back eons and consolidates the legitimacy of the same
leaders  who  oppress  the people.  Because American  consumers  have  the
strongest  buying  power  in  the world, we have it within our power to
change the immoral practices of companies like PepsiCo through boycotts
and  publicity.  Irresponsible  policies and practices that contribute to
human misery should  not  go  unnoticed  whether here at home or somewhere
far away. Please help the Karenni people by not buying Pepsi product until
the terror and torture stops in Myanmar.


Rangoon, May 18: Burmas leading opposition party, the National 
League for Democracy has said it plans to keep open the possibility of 
talks with the countrys ruling military junta.
"The NLD will continue to seek a dialogue so as to find solution for  
existing political, social and economic problems facing the country ... 
and will always leave the door open for it," a statement received on 
Saturday said. "Leaders of the State Law and Order Restoration Council 
have yet to pave the way for such a dialogue."
The NLD is boycotting the ongoing national convention organised by 
SLORC to draft a new state Constitution, saying the constitution would 
cement a central role for the military in government and sustain the 
juntas domination.
Since NLD won democratic elections held in 1990 by a landslide, 
SLORC has maintained it will not hand over power until a new 
constitution giving the military a central political role is established. 
The NLD statement listed efforts made by the party since its foundation 
in 1988 to initiate talks with the junta. It denounced a SLORC 
campaign against the NLD in the official media and rejected the juntas 
labelling of the opposition as "destructionists" -- an epithet seen 
around Rangoon on huge billboards which proclaim: "Annihilate all 
The NLD has announced that it will hold a conference between May 26 
and May 29 to be attended by NLD candidates victorious in 1990 
elections, when the party won 392 of 485 seats.
Official daily the New Light of Myanmar, expressed concern in an 
editorial that this conference would threaten "the political stability 
already attained." (AFP)
>From zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx May 20 19:52:07 1996
Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 07:53:58 -0500
To: Multiple recipients of list <free-burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Burma opposition 'will seek talks with Slorc

Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 12:53:17 +0700 (GMT+0700)

Burmese opposition plan
18.5.96/The Nation

RANGOON - Burma's main opposition party is said to be organising
a conference to mark the sixth anniversary of its overwhelming
election victory which was never acknowledged by the military
government, official media said yesterday.

State-run Burmese language newspapers said a conference of the
National League for Democracy (NLD) on May 27 was causing many
people concern as they did not know what the consequences might
be. The NLD is headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

"News is circulating that they will organise a conference of the
elected candidates on May 27, the sixth anniversary of the 1990
election, and plan to demand this and that," one newspaper
commentary said. "People are becoming concerned, speculating on
what will happen." - Reuter.

Opposition meet in Burma
18.5.96/Bangkok Post

RANGOON: Burma's main opposition party is said to be organising a
conference to mark the sixth anniversary of its overwhelming
election victory which was never acknowledged by the military
government, official media said yesterday.

State-run Burmese language newspapers said a conference of the
National League for Democracy (NLD) on May 27 was causing many
people concern as they did not know what the consequences might
be. The NLD is headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
     _    _

Burma opposition 'will seek talks with Slorc'
19.5.96/The Nation

RANGOON - Burma's leading opposition party, the National League
for Democracy (NLD), has said it plans to keep open the
possibility of talks with the country's ruling military junta.

"The NLD will continue to seek a dialogue so as to find solutions
for existing political, social and economic problems facing the
country ... and will always leave the door open for it," a
statement received yesterday said.

"Leaders of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc)
have yet to pave the way for such a dialogue."

The NLD is boycotting the ongoing national convention organised
by Slorc to draft a new state constitution, saying the
constitution would cement a central role for the military in
government and sustain the junta's domination.

Since the NLD won democratic elections held in 1990 by a
landslide, Slorc has maintained it-will not hand over power until
a new constitution giving the military a central political role
is established.

The NLD statement listed efforts made by the party since its
foundation in 1988 to initiate talks with the junta.

It denounced a Slorc campaign against the NLD in the official
media and rejected the junta's labelling of the opposition as
"destructionists" - an epithet seen D around Rangoon on huge
billboards which proclaim: "Annihilate all destructionists."

The NLD has announced that it will  hold a conference between May
26 and May 29 to be attended by NLD candidates victorious in the
1990 elections, when the party won 392 of 485 seats.

The New Light of Myanmar said in an editorial that this
conference would threaten "the political stability already

When spiders unite they can tie down a lion.  (Ethiopian Proverb)

The Free Burma Coalition
University of Wisconsin
225 North Mills Street,
Madison, WI 53706
Tel: (608)-256-6572
Fax: (608)-263-9992


20 May 1996


In April 1996, over 20 forced labourers died, and many were seriously
injured, in landslides at two worksites on the 100-mile-long Ye-Tavoy
railway construction route in Ye Byu township, Tenasserim Division.  Over
50 forced labourers have already died in similar accidents in the last
four months.

During the landslide at the 30-Mile forced labour camp worksite on 6
April 1996, 4 people died, including a middle-school girl who was
forcibly recruited from Chaung Wa Pyin village in That-Yet Chaung
township, and 5 were seriously injured.  Similarly, 11 forced labourers
died and 10 were seriously injured in a landslide at Ye Bone forced
labour camp worksite on 12 April.  Most of the casualties were from lower
Ye Byu village in Long Lon township.  Some of the bodies of the dead
could not be recovered as they were buried under an avalanche of earth.
As the SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) authorities
continue to routinely use forced labourers instead of machines at
worksites for construction of the Ye-Tavoy railway, the number of deaths
resulting from landslides are increasing.  A local resident has said that
SLORC authorities have never yet paid compensation to survivors or
families in cases of injury or death.

Over the course of this past dry season, SLORC authorities opened 11
forced labour camps along the railway route in Ye Byu township.  They are
now using over 15,000 forced labourers from That Yet Chaung, Long Lon, Ye
Byu, and Tavoy townships on construction in Tavoy district every day.
Troops from SLORC LIBs (Light Infantry Battalions) 406, 407, 408 and 410
monitor the daily work at the sites.  Local people must bring their own
food and drink to the camps during their bi-monthly 14-day rotations.
People wishing to avoid service must pay a 2,000 kyats fine to the local
ward authorities or LORC (ward Law and Order Restoration Council).

The seasonal rains have now begun, heralding the start of a time of
aggravated morbidity and mortality in the camps, especially from
malaria.  200 people have died of malaria during construction over the
last four months.  The threat from diarrhoeal diseases also rises
dramatically during rainy season.  A local source said that ill labourers
are allowed to return home only if they can find others to replace them
at the worksite.

ABSDF News Agency
All Burma Students' Democratic Front (Dawn Gwin)



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