[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Burma Net News May 25-27, 1996

Received: (from strider) by igc2.igc.apc.org (8.7.5/8.7.3) id IAA27119; Mon, 27 May 1996 08:56:18 -0700 (PDT)
Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 08:56:18 -0700 (PDT)

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

The BurmaNet News: May 25-27, 1996
Issue #421


May 26, 1996

A confrontation is looming between the military junta in Burma 
and the opposition National League for Democracy over a planned 
conference today scheduled to coincide with the sixth anniversary 
of the abortive 1990 national elections.

The regime, calling itself the Slorc has detained for 
"questioning" over 200 NLD members and supporters ahead of 
today's conference. Many were seized in their homes in the middle 
of the night or plucked off the street.

But the Slorc's moves have not dented the resolve of opposition 
leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi said 
today's conference would go on even without the majority of its 
invited participants.

"I think the intention is to try and make it impossible for us to 
hold our conference," she said. "But we are still going to go 
ahead with our plans unless they make it physically impossible 
for us to do so."

Suu Kyi, who was released from six years of house arrest last 
July, also did not rule out the possibility that she and other 
top NLD members might be arrested before the start of the 

The arrests over the past three days in Rangoon, are a clear 
indication that the NLD has the backing of the Burmese people.

As Suu Kyi told a press conference on Friday: "We don't need to 
say anything to the outside world now. The outside world can see 
for itself that the Slorc is nervous. Two hundred to three 
hundred holding a conference, that's not even as big as a Slorc 
faction, and yet they got so nervous that they started rounding 
people up. They are nervous because they know they do not have 
the support of the people of Burma."

The Slorc is showing its true colours and it comes as no surprise 
to us. Many people, however, thought that once Suu Kyi was 
released from house arrest Slorc would create some sort of 
situation where compromises could be worked out and perhaps there 
could be a transition to democracy. They were proved wrong over 
the past few days, with the military junta showing that under no 
circumstances is it going to recognise the results of the 1990 
elections in which the NLD won the majority of seats.

This crackdown is the straw that breaks the camel's back and the 
international community is not going to bend over to give the 
benefit of the doubt to the military regime anymore. The world is 
watching, and little do the Burmese generals realise that by 
arresting the pro-democracy NLD members they have alienated many 
who were willing to give them a second chance. If Suu Kyi is re-
arrested today the Slorc might as well write off its chances of 
dealing with the West, in particular the US.

There is a piece of legislation pending in the US Congress called 
the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of 1995 which would prohibit 
American companies from investing in Burma and development their 
infrastructure. If Suu Kyi is re-arrested, without doubt, the 
Burma Freedom and Democracy Act will sail trough Congress.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in moving the bill said: 
"Foreign investment in Burma is directly supporting and 
strengthening the military junta. Each dollar that foreign 
companies bring into Burma serves to buy the guns, buy the 
bullets and pay the soldiers that are killing the Burmese people 
and keeping the rest of Burma oppressed.

"In Burma millions of people turned out to vote for Suu Kyi and 
the NLD. The NLD claimed 82 per cent of the vote. The fact that 
they were robbed of the reward of free and fair elections defines 
America's opportunity and obligation," Senator McConnell added. 
The Burma Freedom and Democracy Act is going to be taken up in 
the next few weeks in the Senate International Relations 
Committee before moving on to Congress and it is still being 
debated at the Senate subcommittee level.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the 
US would explore further sanctions against Burma with Congress.

"We do not rule further US sanctions against Burma and we are 
ready to explore various measures with the Congress. What we want 
to do is to have an effective US response," Burns said when 
issuing not to go Burma because of the crackdown.

There is a growing consensus in the US that Burma is a place 
where its politicians can make a stand because it is not a 
country that is tied in with the American economy. So making a 
stand for democracy, on the part of the US, would not injure the 
interests of many American citizens involved in trade with the 
Slorc regime - unlike China or Indonesia.

The response of Asean so far, to the on-going arrests in Burma, 
has been pathetic. Asean officials at a recent meeting, at the 
resort island of Langkawi in Malaysia, to develop the resource-
rich Mekong basin - which includes part of Burma - said the 
recent arrests were "international politics". "I don't think it 
is our business to question," Ahmad Kamil Jaafar, secretary-
general of Malaysia's foreign ministry said on Thursday.

This was also echoed by Thailand, Burma's immediate neighbour. 
The arrest of NLD members was an internal affair, Thai Foreign 
Ministry spokesman Surapong Jayanama said.

But can we expect anything out of the regional grouping, whose 
leaders just see the country with dollar signs in front of their 
eyes, and view Suu Kyi as a thorn in their side to bleed Burma 
dry. Perhaps a cue can be taken, when in 1991 Indonesian troops 
fired upon unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in East Timor's 
capital of Dili. The stock Asean response was: "It was an 
internal affair."

There needs to be a brave admission by Asean that their so-called 
constructive engagement policy has failed to draw Burma back into 
the mainstream of the international civil community, and other 
means need to be explored to find a just and peaceful solution 
for the country.

Unless and until this is done, Burma will always be engulfed in a 
climate of fear perpetuated by an illegal government. (TN)



Earlier this month, US SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R, Kentucky), 
chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, gave the keynote 
address at the Free Burma Conference which was held at the Paul 
Nitze School for Advanced International Studies. The following is 
the full text of his speech.

May 26, 1996

THERE is a story former Secretary Baker likes to tell - it is one 
about a farmer, who after many years had earned enough to buy a 
small plot of his own land - a dusty, dry plot filled with stones 
and tree stumps, barren of any life.

For three years, stone by stone, stump by stump, he cleared his 
fields. Back-breaking work - day in and day out without rest - he 
toiled and finally he was rewarded with an abundant harvest.

Well, the first thing he did was call his preacher to come bless 
his bounty. The preacher walked field to field amazed by the 
richness of what the saw. He plucked a tomato, and held it high: 
"Why this is the most ripe, plump tomato I have seen in years," 
he said, "Thank the Lord."

He moved on to a field of melons and was awed by their fullness, 
how juicy they were. "God is indeed great," he said.

Finally, the preacher just couldn't say enough about the farmer's 
crisp, tangy apples and he held one high. "Praise the Lord!" he 

Well, the farmer couldn't stand it anymore and burst out, 
"Preacher with all due respect, I sure wish you could have seen 
this field when God was farming it all by himself."

US leadership: What is at stake?
To me, the US role in Burma is a little like the farmer's friend 
- we may get some credit, but others do the heavy lifting. At the 
end of the day, it will be the Burmese people, led by Aung San 
Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) who will have 
laboured long under intolerable conditions - bearing up to every 
hardship, breaking down walls of adversity - to bring democracy, 
justice, peace and prosperity to Burma.

At the same time, they cannot - they should not - struggle 
without the support of the US. It is my view that Burma's liberty 
must be served by America's leadership. A few weeks ago, in a 
courageous statement to the UN Commission on Human Rights, Aung 
San Suu Kyi appealed again to the international community to 
directly and immediately support the restoration of democracy and 
respect for the rule of law.

She summoned us to take concrete steps to implement the results 
of the 1990 elections in which the Burmese people spoke with a 
strong, resolute voice, and the NLD carried the day. Less we 
forget, the NLD did not squeak by with a 43% mandate as did our 
sitting president - the leader of the free world.

The NLD claimed 392 seats in the parliament, winning 82% of the 
vote. Now, that's a mandate! Unfortunately, a shining moment for 
democracy has been blackened by a ruthless dictatorship. To this 
day, the generals who make up the Slorc maintain a chokehold on 
Burma's life.

Burma is a battleground - between democracy and dictatorship; 
between those who believe in open markets and those who openly 
market their self-enriching schemes; between the many who embrace 
freedom and the few who breed fear between Suu Kyi's supporters 
and Slorc's sycophants.

There are few modern examples where our choice is so stark, where 
the battle lines are so sharply drawn. While I could devote a 
considerable portion of my remarks to cataloguing Slorc's 
appalling political and human rights record, I will leave that to 
some of your panellists.

Many of you who are participating in today's event have done a 
remarkable job calling attention to the atrocities carried out by 
Slorc. There is no question that arbitrary killings, detentions, 
torture, rape, and forced labour and relocations are tools 
routinely abused to secure Slorc's position, power and wealth.

"Notwithstanding these conditions, many of you must be wondering 
why a conservative Republican has taken interest in Burma, Suu 
Kyi and her cause? After all , Democrats are usually the hard 
charges in Washington's human rights campaigns. Some may have 
decided that this is my quirky crusade to export American morals.

No doubt, these people have concluded I just don't understand our 
economic interests in the area, that I fail to appreciate 
regional sensitivities. In short, I just don't get it.

American interests: The drug epidemic
Well, there are several factors which have contributed to my 
commitment. First, is Burma's association with a key US interest: 
the drug epidemic. But let me step back for a moment. When I 
moved to the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I was struck by the 
enormous gap in the public's understanding of how US aid serves 
US interests. It concerned me that misperceptions were fuelling 
an isolationist drive - undermining the imperatives of US 

It is not just the myth that we could trim the deficit if we cut 
the 50% of the budget Americans mistakenly think we spend on 
foreign aid. No matter what we spend, American have little sense 
of what we gain with our investment. So, I have spent years 
giving speeches, communicating with constituents, and holding 
town meetings reinforcing the linkage between our aid and 

The shortest bridge to cross this divide rests upon an 
understanding that our resources are used to combat international 
narcotics trafficking, terrorism and nuclear related crimes - 
threats Americans really understand. Although the tragedy in 
Okalahoma City shocked people into recognition of the danger 
terrorism represents, our nation's drug problem hardly needs such 
a seismic event to get attention.

Every community has a problem When I tell a gathering of 
Kentuckians that 65% of the opium used in the heroin that swamps 
our streets comes from Burma, they take note of Rangoon. When 
they learn the military junta is harbouring one of the globe's 
most notorious narco-warlords, they appreciate the need to 
restore a democratic government which will join us in credible 
effort to control drugtrafficking.

The Clinton Policy: Political narcolepsy
The Golden Triangle's deadly exports initially caught my eye, but 
it is the(Clinton) administration's policy - or lack thereof - 
which fixed my gaze. This is one of the few occasions where the 
White House has been consistent; unfortunately they have been 
consistently wrong.

As Suu Kyi has repeatedly emphasised since her release, Burma 
today is not one step closer to democracy. Indeed, I think the 
situation has seriously, dangerously and unnecessarily 

In November 1994, after a long, disheartening silence, Deputy 
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Hubbard, travelled to Rangoon to 
issue an ultimatum. The administration called international 
attention to their new, toughline. Slorc was expected to make 
concrete progress in human rights, narcotics and democracy.

If they were appropriately responsive, they could expect improved 
ties. If not, in Hubbard's words, "the US bilateral relationship 
with Burma could be further downgrade."

As most of us learn early in life, you don't taunt a bully. Slorc 
moved swiftly to call our bluff. Major attacks were launched 
against ethnic groups, generating tens of thousands of refugees. 
Democracy activists were rounded up, tortured and killed. 
Negotiations over Red Cross access to prisoners ground to a halt, 
prompting the organisation to close its office in Rangoon.

And, the administration remained strangely silent. As the 
situation worsened, and (US Ambassador to the UN) Madeleine 
Albright was dispatched to repeat the message. This time it was 
under scored with a personal meeting and statement of support for 
dialogue with Suu Kyi.

Those of us who follow Burma were hopeful that our UN ambassador, 
with a tough reputation, would press forward with a clear 
strategy. Sadly, once again, Slorc rose - or should I say sunk - 
to the occasion. The noose tightened around Suu Kyi and the NLD, 
and the Administration shuffled past critics in silence.

Today, when I ask the State Department, "What is US policy?", 
virtually every official tells me, "We share your goals, we 
support Aung San Suu Kyi's cause." Unfortunately, this is a 
transparent substitute of platitudes for progress. I know they 
feel my pain - Burma's agony. They question is: what is the cure?

The course ahead: Status quo or sanctions?
After hollow policy pronouncements and weak-willed waffling from 
the Administration, Slorc is convinced it will pay no price for 
repression. We are left with few real options with the potential 
for success. The business community, well represented here today, 
prefers the status quo.

They suggest that our Asean partners will not support a strategy 
of escalating isolation. A tougher line will only result in a 
loss of market share to our French, Italian or other competitors. 
They also argue economic progress will yield political results. 
This is Vietnam. Burma is like China.

Well, I am a vocal advocate of MFN for China. I have supported 
normalising relations with Vietnam. In both instances, we have 
effectively used the economic wedge to pry open access to totally 
closed societies. Trade is an important tool in these two cases 
because it is our only tool. Burma is quite different.

In Burma, millions of people turned out to vote for the NLD. The 
fact that they were robbed of the reward of free and fair 
elections defines both America's opportunity and obligation. The 
appropriate analogy with Burma is not China or Vietnam, it is 
South Africa where our application of sanctions clearly worked - 
just ask Nelson Mandela. That is the course I recommend the US 

In 1996, the advocates for democracy in Burma are facing the same 
challenges as the 1986 opponents of apartheid. I heard exactly 
the same arguments then, as I do now. Let me draw some parallels 
for you. When Senators Roth, Dodd, and I introduced the first 
sanctions bill a decade ago, both the Reagan Administration and 
the business community argued the political value of our sizable 
capital investment - US investment - was a meaningful catalysts 
for change.

Major American corporations called attention t their hiring 
policies, scholarship programmes, and contributions to hospitals, 
schools and community development projects. In sum, I was told 
that withdrawing US investment would hurt, not help, the common 

Not so, says Bishop Tutu. In an April letter to the Bay Area 
Burma Roundtable he said, "The victory over apartheid in South 
Africa bears eloquent testimony to the effectiveness of economic 

There are other, relevant parallels. South Africa represented a 
major fault line in Cold War struggle for power. With Soviet 
proxy forces engaged in conflicts in Angola and Mozambique, South 
Africa assumed an important position in our regional strategy. 
The apparent Chinese colonisation of Burma should stimulate 
similar interest. If there is a single issue which should cause 
our Asean partners deep concern, it is the expanding military and 
political ties between Rangoon and Beijing.

Like South Africa, Burma may not represent an immediate security 
problem, but the long term trends demand our attention. In South 
Africa, there was a grassroots, well organised, vocal African 
American constituency supporting sanctions. In Burma, the 
constituency should be every American community concerned by our 
drug epidemic.

In South Africa, good corporate citizens developed a corporate 
conscience and pulled out. In Burma, Amoco, Columbia Sportswear, 
Macys, Eddie Bauer, Liz Claiborne, Levi Strauss, and now Pepsi 
have answered the call to divest.

In South Africa, sanctions affected substantial, longstanding 
foreign investment. In Burma, less is at stake and sanctions are 
largely preemptive. But, American investment - however little - 
is still propping up a few generals.

We are not improving the quality of life for most Burmese. US 
capital is simply subsidising global shopping sprees for a 
handful of Slorc officials and their families. Just as Slorc has 
increased pressure on Burma's democracy movement, we must 
increase pressure on Slorc.

I believe the time has come to ban US investment. We should cut 
off a primary source of Slorc's power. This is the heart of the 
Burma Freedom and Democracy Act which I introduced with Senators 
Moynihan, D'Amato and Leahy. The Banking Committee will hold a 
hearing on the bill this Friday (May 17), moving the bill one 
step closer to final passage.

Since a companion bill in introduced by Congressman Rohrabacher 
is also moving through the House, it is my hope that the US will 
impose sanctions on Burma before (the US) congress adjourns.

A few weeks ago. Aung San Suu Kyi noted, "There is a danger that 
those who believe economic reforms will bring political progress 
to Burma are unaware of the difficulties in the way of 
democratisation. Economic and politics cannot be separated, and 
economic reforms alone cannot bring democratisation to  Burma."

She has emphatically opposed any foreign investment, calling 
instead for the international community to take firm steps to 
implement the 1990 elections. And, while she has stressed the 
NLD's commitment to solving political problems through dialogue, 
she recently warned the world that she was not prepared to stand 
idly by as Slorc attacked her supporters.

Shortly after these remarks, Slorc surrounded her compound with 
razor wire, effectively cutting off the thousands of loyal and 
peaceful citizens who make a weekly pilgrimage to hear her speak.

Suu Kyi is prepared to accept her re-arrest. Although she is 
under constant surveillance and severely limited in her 
movements, she has not chosen to join her husband and children in 

Suu Kyi has sacrificed over and over again to secure Burma's 
freedom. Let us hope it will not take the sacrifice of her life 
to impel this Administration to assume the mantle of leadership - 
fitting for the only remaining superpower - and chart a course 
for the ship we captain called liberty. (BP)



May 26, 1996

Yindee Lertcharoenchoke, The Nation

JAPAN'S second largest national carrier, All Nippon Airways 
(ANA), applied last Friday to the Japanese Ministry of Transport 
for permission to operate two flights a week between Osaka and 
Rangoon, the Burmese capital.

ANA spokesman in Tokyo, Anthony Concil, said the company expected 
the approval to come through soon, allowing the carrier to 
proceed with its first scheduled flight to Rangoon on July 16.

The airline would make an official announcement of its maiden 
flight and begin booking and ticket sales when approval was 
granted, he said.

"Approval usually does not take a long time," Concil said.

If the flight service proceeds as planned, ANA will be the first 
Japanese carrier to operate direct flights between Burma and 
Japan. The governments of the two countries made a bilateral 
aviation agreements last year.

ANA has not yet fixed ticket fares for the six-hour non-stop 
flights to leave every Tuesday and Sunday from Osaka's Kansai 
Airport for Maingaladon airport in Rangoon.

The ANA flight will depart Kansai at 5:30 pm arriving in Rangoon 
at 9:10 pm, and leave Mingaladon at 11 pm to arrived in Osaka at 
7:25 am the next day.

The airline announced it would use a Boeing 767-300ER, and the 
204 seats will be divided into two classes.

Passenger traffic to Burma has increased considerably in 1995 
doubled the 1994 figures according to the airline.

ANA expects to carry 37,000 passengers on the route in the first 
year of operation, Concil said.

The Japanese airline currently operates 500 domestic flights per 
day and 250 international flights a week.

Under the Burmese-Japanese aviation agreement, a Burmese national 
carrier can operate an equal number of flights on the same route.

However, an international airline source said he doubted if the 
official Myanmar Airline had the potential or aircraft to fly 
between Rangoon and Osaka at this time despite an increase in 
passengers wanting to travel between the two countries.

Burma's signing of three key international conventions against 
hijacking under the framework of the international Civil Aviation 
Organization made the ANA flights possible. (TN)



May 27, 1996

SINCE her release last July, Burmese opposition leader Aung San 
Suu Kyi has come under increasing pressure to do something other 
than haplessly wave olive branches at the military government. 
Eight years after the military crushed a popular uprising and 
installed itself in power, it seemed to be finally gaining the 
upper hand in its struggle with Suu Kyi's NLD.

Foreign investment had began to surge, Rangoon's leaders had been 
accepted to various regional and international forums, many of 
the warring ethnic groups had agreed to stop fighting and most 
civic dissent had been effectively snuffed out by the junta's 
pervasive security network.

By the beginning of this year some Suu Kyi supporters were even  
beginning to express disenchantment with her leadership. A potent 
political symbol while under house arrest, Suu Kyi, it was said, 
didn't have the ruthlessness needed for Asian-style power 

The overriding feeling evoked by Burma was no longer indignity 
but resignation.

In the last four days, however, the momentum appears to have 
swung back again. Slorc is on the defensive and squirming under 
the international spotlight. As if to form, it wasn't anything 
that Suu Kyi did so much as the junta's gross over-reaction that 
stirred international outrage.

Apparently panicked by Suu Kyi's call for an NLD assembly of 
delegates who won seats in 1990 election, Slorc rounded up at 
least 238 of the officials as well as 24 ordinary party 
supporters. In some cases, they arrested delegates' wives when 
the wanted NLD official couldn't be found.

The crackdown prevented Suu Kyi from holding a full conference, 
which was only ever going to be a symbolic challenge anyway, and 
handed her a huge public relations victory.

Diplomats from several Western Embassy showed up at the congress. 
But more significantly they were joined in Suu Kyi's compound by 
representatives from two of Slorc's most crucial diplomatic and 
trading partners - Japan and Thailand.

The appearance of envoys from Tokyo and Bangkok is enormously 
damaging to Slorc because key to its survival are not only 
questions of guns and butter, but also the bigger issue of 

It is this matter that will decide the fate of the junta and it 
is one that no longer has so much to do with the election held in 
1990 as to who the world perceives realistically represents the 
Burmese people in 1996.

Slorc's leaders believed they had done enough by throwing open 
the economy to foreign investors to win over the stomachs and 
minds of the Burmese people. Bur their behaviour is so repugnant 
and uncompromising that they make it difficult for foreign 
governments to comfortable deal with them.

The roundup was such as a heavy-handed action that it undermined 
all Slorc's claims to represent the will of the people. It showed 
them up or what they are -  a government that lives and rules by 

It also prompted old international foes like Washington to step 
up their diplomatic offensive.

Suu Kyi has repeatedly stressed the need to increase the pressure 
on Slorc. Her stated goal is not the destruction of Slorc or the 
Union of Burma but reconciliation of its many conflicting 

The world is once again listening, even Thailand. Perhaps it is 
time for the generals to open their ears to this modest message 
as well. Suu Kyi has repeatedly stressed the need to increase the 
pressure on Slorc. Her stated goal is not the destruction of 
Slorc or the Union of Burma but reconciliation of its many 
conflicting parties.

The world is once again listening, even Thailand. Perhaps it is 
time for the generals to open their eyes and ears to this modest 
message as well. (TN)



May 27, 1996

Reuter, AFP

WASHINGTON - THE White House on Saturday said it was "deeply 
concerned" about arrests by the military in Burma and will 
dispatch a special envoy to discuss a coordinated response with 
European and Asian allies.

"The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the 
military regime in Burma is detaining hundreds of members of the 
democratic government," white House Press Secretary Mike McCurry 
said in a statement.

He also urged Rangoon to release "immediately and 
unconditionally" more than 250 members of the opposition NLD who 
were arrested in the past week to prevent them from attending the 
party congress, which began yesterday.

"We have urged the regime to release all the detainees 
immediately and unconditionally and not to interfere with the 
effort of the NLD to meet at a conference in Rangoon on Sunday," 
McCurry said.

He added that Washington would bring up the problems in Burma at 
future G-7 meetings and at regional meetings in Asia.

McCurry said that the situation in Burma was "reviewed on Friday 
at a senior-level White House meeting, where a decision was made 
to dispatch an envoy to consult with European, Asia and other 
friends and allies on a coordinated response."

An administration official, who asked not to be identified, said 
it was expected that the White House will "make a decision early 
next week" on naming the individual who will consult with allies.

"We are very interested in seeing how the events of this weekend 
unfold" before recommending and allied response, the official 
said. The statement added that the United States had informed 
Rangoon's military leaders of its concern as well as members of 
the international community. (TN)



May 27, 1996

Associated Press

RANGOON - THROWING down a gauntlet to the Burmese military 
regime, Aung San Suu Kyi opened an opposition congress yesterday 
that the government had arrested hundred =s of her supporters to 
stop and she vowed to hold several more.

Later, up to 10,000 people - four times the usual number and the 
biggest opposition crowed in years - gathered outside the gates 
of her compound to hear her customary weekend remarks. The size 
of the crowed indicateed a renewed courage among ordinary Burmese 
many believed had been cowed by the regime.

Authorities made no move to interfere with the crowd. The only 
security forces visible were traffic police guiding vehicles away 
from the throng, which remained peaceful.

More lively than usual, the crowd clapped and cheered as Suu Kyi 
and other opposition leaders said they had tried of waiting for 
the Slorc to meet their appeals for dialogue.

"The Slorc has broken a lot of promises," Suu Kyi said. "The 
Slorc should make up all the promises they have broken. It;s time 
they have changed their ways. It's better late than never."

Earlier, Suu Kyi delivered an opening conference speech that 
marked her biggest challenge to the ruling junta since her 
release from six year of house arrest last July. It signaled that 
she not longer would allow the regime to simply ignore her 
repeated calls for dialogue to bring democracy to Burma.

Rather than be cowed by a week of mass arrests, Suu Kyi declared 
to the congress that her NLD would "increase out actions to 
fulfil the will of the people and bring about national 

Though supporters applauded every sentence and chanted "Long Live 
Aung San Suu Kyi," only 17 were original delegates to the party 
congress, the opposition's most important planned meeting in six 

At least 238 other delegates languished in detention following a 
nationwide roundup to prevent the meeting, which marks the sixth 
anniversary of parliamentary elections in 1990 when Suu Kyi's 
party won 392 of 458 contested seats.

Another 24 ordinary party members were also in custody, bringing 
the total to 262, Suu Kyi said. Reports that one delegates had 
died in custody were unfounded.

Suu Kyi said that the conference would end tomorrow. She refused 
to discuss the party policy being debated until it ended.

Suu Kyi said the next congress could be held as early as a few 
months from now - posing a new challenge to the legitimacy of the 
junta, which refused to honor the 1990 election and pulled out 
the stops to derail the current congress.

Though the meeting might have passed largely ignored, the arrests 
last week catapulted Burma back into world head-lines and put new 
scrutiny on the junta's courting of foreign companies eager to 
profit by developing Burma's economy, destroy during 34 years of 
military rule.

Wearing a traditional sarong, her hair tied back in jasmine 
flowers, Suu Kyi indicated the opposition would keep the regime 
under pressure by holding several more congress - implicitly 
daring the junta to stop her further destroy its reputation.

"This is no longer a meeting of elected representatives of the 
NLD," Suu Kyi said. "we have decided, therefore, this will be the 
first in a series of NLD congress."

Suu Kyi spoke from a bamboo-and-thatch pavilion at her home 
constructed especially for the event.

Banners displayed the emblem of her party, a fighting peacock.

There was no immediately response from government officials. The 
state-controlled press, which ignores Suu Kyi's remarks,reported 
on business deals and junta leaders visiting Buddhist shrines.

Diplomats from the United States, Japan, France, Britain and 
Australia attended the meeting, evidence of a fresh wave of 
international support for Burma's beleaguered opposition.

Suu Kyi declared that six years of denied rights and suffering 
had merely strengthened the appetite of Burma's people for 
democracy. (TN)



May 27, 1996

Robert Horn, Associated Press

RANGOON - Aung San Suu Kyi may harbour some venom toward the 
generals ruling her nation, but the unflappable, shrewd woman 
leading Burma's pro-democracy the "cobra" they call her.

In an interview on Saturday, the petite titan of Burma's 
opposition kept her renowned grace under pressure, while around 
her the military regime took steps to suppress her democratic 

For all the nervousness she showed, she might have been meeting 
friends for a weekend chat. Dressed in a sarong and white blouse, 
her hair decorated with jasmine flowers, Suu Kyi looked the 
picture of tranquillity. "My mother taught me how to conquer 
always said, 'You hope for the best, and you prepare for the 
worst,' and I've always thought that's the best advice you can 
give any politician."

Suu Kyi vowed that the meeting would go on, even if only one 
person was able to attend. Volunteers hung banners with the party 
emblem of a fighting peacock at her monsoon - stained home to 
underscore the point.

"I think she's an extremely brilliant woman who's more astute 
than that whole collection of guys who call themselves the 
Slorc," said Josef Silverstein, Professor emeritus at Rutgers 
University and writer on Burma for more than 40 years.

For outsiders who remember television footage of Suu Kyi staring 
down soldiers with rifles in 1989 - or more recently saw the 
events portrayed in John Brookman's film, "Beyond Rangoon" - Suu 
Kyi embodies the struggle of ordinary Burmese for a say in their 

Yet she's no ordinary woman. Her father, Aung San, let the fight 
for independence first against Britain, then Japan, He was 
assassinated by political rivals when she was only two.

Suu Kyi's quick wit, keen analytical mind and steely 
determination also derive from her education, first in Burma, 
then India, Britain and Japan. Much of that time was spent under 
the tutelage of her mother, Khin Kyi, who serve as a diplomat.

"You must not underestimate out people," Suu Kyi said. "I may be 
the figurehead of the organization because they believe in this 
movement, not in me."

Maybe. But she remains a martyr figure whose humility and sense 
of justice inspire awe, the way Mahatma Gandhi did in India and 
Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Her activities earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, as 
Mandela's did two years later.

As it was for Gandhi, non-violence is Suu Kyi's guiding 
principle. Careful not to reveal her next moves- spies are 
rumoured to operate in her house - hold - since nonetheless says 
she restrains party members who want to build barricades.

"Now is not the time for demonstrations, but we are not ruling 
them out," she said. "There are other ways of making your country 
ungovernable by an unpopular government."

The shop-lined warrens of Rangoon are quiet and do not look 

Afraid of arrest and worse, Burmese do not talk about politics 
with outsiders and seem in no mood to try revolution.

The last time they tried, in 1988, hundreds were killed in the 
streets and thousands more hunted down in the following months.

Suu Kyi loses her poise - only briefly - when told that critics 
point to her people's silence as evidence the fight has gone out 
of them and they no longer want democracy.

"We have fought," she said "You can not say the Burmese people 
have not fought."

"We have lost a lot of lives and we have struggled... We are 
fighting a non-violent battle - that is all." (TN)



May 27, 1996

Japan and the seven members of the regional group Asean hold the 
key to influencing the future course of Burma, writes KAVI 

JAPAN and Asean are emerging as the most important foreign 
influences on the future course of Burma. Japan's generous 
financial and humanitarian assistance and Asean's unconditional 
political support have permitted the military regime, officially 
called Slorc, to consolidate its position and withstand mounting 
pressure from the West since 1988.

The release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi last July 
manifested Slorc's increased confidence in its ability to handle 
domestic problems as it moved to brush up its international image 
and improve ties with the countries in the region, especially 
Asean states. Growing confidence, or perhaps arrogance, 
subsequently convinced Slorc leaders they they could pre-empt 
yesterday's NLD meeting by detention more than 250 of its 

Of all the countries, Tokyo is best-placed to ensure that Slorc 
does not incarcerate the opposition because the Slorc leaders 
have good relations with Japan and that country's politicians. 
Before Suu Kyi was freed the Japanese embassy was the only 
country to be informed in advance.

It was not surprising that Japan was the first country to resume 
the so-called "humanitarian aid" to Slorc immediately after her 
release. Last year,Tokyo gave US$ 15.4 million (Bt 385million) to 
Rangoon. Tokyo stopped its official aid to Burma after the 1988 
coup but lifted the freeze last July and offered grants-in-aid 
for programmes in nurse training.

Before 1993, countries like the US, Australia and Canada, and the 
European Union were critical of Slorc. They had called for trade 
sanctions against the regime which refused to surrender power 
after losing the election in May 1990 and stands accused of 
committing mass violations of human rights. Their attitudes have 
some what softened mainly because of lobbying from Asean that the 
situation would be better tracked by Slorc and the Burmese people 
as well as countries in the region.

Sad but true, Asean has succeeded to a certain extent in the past 
three years in bringing Slorc out of its cocoon and encouraging 
it to participate in various activities. Burma, although Asean's 
encouragement, attended numerous seminars on trade and economic 
and political and security cooperation. The Slorc leadership's 
coming out culminated with its attendance at a meeting for the 
head of governments of Asean, Laos and Cambodia. Burma also 
signed the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone last 
December. In return, trade and investment between Burma and 
individual Asean members has grown considerably.

Asean hopes that with repeated exposure and increased investment, 
Slorc will charge for the better. That has not happened yet. 
Rangoon has conceded little in the areas of democratisation and 
human rights. That explained why Thailand, one of the strongest 
supporters of Slorc, took a different line this time. Foreign 
Ministry spokesman Surapong minced no words when he said Thailand 
was concerned with last week's developments. He said the arrests 
were considered counter-productive to the democratisation and 
national reconciliation process in Burma.

Whether Thailand's tough response will prompt support from other 
Asean members remains to be seen. At the least, Asean can no 
longer ignore the Burmese issue and political developments there. 
Asean needs to reappraise and, if need be, to forge a common 
strategy in engaging Burma more seriously when its foreign 
minister meet in mid-July in Jakata.  

One of options is to initiate dialogue between Asean and Suu Kyi, 
after years of negligence. Such action would strengthen her 
demand for a meaningful dialogue with military leaders.

Asean's recognition of Suu Kyi will be a positive step in 
bringing pressure to bear on Slorc. After all, Asean together 
with Japan do have considerable leverage against the regime. 
Postponing Burma's observer status in Asean and membership in the 
upcoming Asean Regional Forum is an additional bargaining chip.

It is interesting to note that Asean has never adopted a common 
position on Burma, especially on the constructive engagement 
policy. This policy wad first pronounced by Thailand in July 1991 
in Kuala Lumpur in defending its supports of Slorc against 
growing criticism of Asean's western dialogue partners at the 

Since then, this policy has been mentioned or used by Asean 
leaders sparingly. Each Asean country continues to pursue its 
policy of Burma to ensure maximum benefit for itself, and its 
trade and investments. Likewise, Asean has never criticised 
Slorc. Among the dialogue partners, Japan has maintained the 
highest profile in trade and economic cooperation.

In return, Burma has been trying to maximise its association with 
Asean. Rangoon thought at the time that Suu Kyi's freedom would 
win over Asean and gain it observer status in Asean and a seat in 
the second Asian Regional Forum in Brunei last year.

To Slorc, it would serve as a rubber stamp for the much-needed 
legitimacy. But it did not happen.

Most of the Western friends of Asean have now pursued a policy 
that essentially follows in Asean's footsteps. They said that 
they have common objectives to see a democratic Burma. They also 
agreed to disagree on their approach toward Burma.

Some key political figures in the US have advocated  strong 
measures against Slorc for last week's crackdown. But this 
pressure has yet to translate into a tangible policy against 
Slorc. For instance, Senator Mitch McConnell, chairman of the 
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, has 
called for all-out trade sanctions against Burma. In the past, 
former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans has insisted that 
Rangoon be set a series of benchmarks in exchange for 
international acceptance. Releasing Suu Kyi was but a small step 
toward that objective.

Granted their close ties Slorc, Japan and Asean could have done 
more to positively influence the future course there. At the 
least, they should hold firm that any deterioration of the 
current political situation will not be welcome and it could 
affect Burma's desire to integrate with the regional grouping.

Strategically speaking, both Japan and Asean see eye to eye that 
Burma is too important to be left alone and excluded from the 
Asean Regional Forum. They have learned one hard lesson that 
leaving Burma out in the cold was to leave the door open for 
China to play a more dominant role there. In a similar vein, 
India, which used to strongly oppose Slorc, turned around and in 
1994 began to court the regime as a balance to China.

In the final analysts, Japan and Asean can not go on backing 
Slorc for the sake of countering the Chinese influence or merely 
to prove the West wrong. They have to take into consideration the 
public sentiment and the opposition's legitimacy.

After all, a future Asean member that is popular supported by the 
Burmese people would be asset. A pariah nation joining mine the 
organisation's credibility. (TN)



May 27, 1996

IT is difficult to know what the Burmese dictators are thinking 
of in their new intimidation of the country's main pro-democracy 
party. The detention of more than 200 supporters of Aung San Suu 
Kyi puts new focus and lends new urgency to the campaign for a 
free Burma. The Rangoon regime's aim was to halt the weekend's 
long-scheduled meeting of Mrs Suu Kyi's NLD. It has risked much 
by its ill-advised actions.

In the event, the NLD meeting got under way as scheduled, 
although tensely. Most of its members who were elected to 
parliament six years ago were missing, held at junta gunpoint. 
Rangoon has called worldwide attention to its own brutal methods, 
In Bangkok and elsewhere in the world, demonstrations were held 
by sympathisers of Mrs Suu Kyi and Burmese democrats. Many 
government protested, from the US to Australia, and from Tokyo to 

Of course, the furtive Slorc itself will not reveal its 
intentions. Absurdly Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw, who was in Japan 
when the detentions began, said reports from Rangoon of the 
detention were "fabricated". He will need a lot of luck to sell 
that line. Nor was it, as the foreign minister claimed, 
"difficult to verity including Aung San Suu Kyi are saying." If 
the minister had turned on the television in his luxury hotel 
suite, he could have been Mrs Suu Kyi speaking for herself. 
Instead, he demonstrated how far behind the times the Rangoon 
leadership really is.

Firsthand accounts from Rangoon described the mood as "grim". 
News of the detentions spread fear of new political turmoil and 
violence. An article in state-controlled newspapers last 
Wednesday warned NLD supporters against holding their weekend 
congress. The ominous Slorc warning said the meeting would be 
illegal,meaningless and "also extremely dangerous for them."

Mrs Suu Kyi maintained her wellknown calm and optimism. With her 
own survival once again threatened, she managed the type of quip 
which has earned her admiration and the Nobel Peace Prize. "If 
they want to arrest me, they can arrest me," she told a reporter. 
"I'm always here."

Slorc has refused to deal with his fact since 1990, when the NLD 
won Burmese elections by an overwhelming majority. Even if Slorc 
violence wipes out the party, the pro-democracy mood of the 
country will not go away. Mrs Suu Kyi's attempts to negotiate 
national reconciliation and political progress have been rejected 
by the junta. Just as seriously for Rangoon, the military leaders 
have rejected attempts by others to promote improvement.

Slorc has made it difficult to support Burmese attempts to enter 
the world and global economy. Japanese Ambassador Yochi Yamagushi 
was negitiating between Slorc and Mrs Suu Kyi only hours before 
the new wave of detentions began. The shuttle talks by the 
Japanese envoy were specifically approved by Rangoon leaders.

Not that this is anything new for the junta. It has embarrassed 
many attempts to help Rangoon improve its image by conciliatory 
discussion. Even Thailand's questionable policy of "constructive 
engagement" with Burma has been attacked and insulted. Successive 
Thai governments have risked their very popularity with voters by 
dubious support of Burmese policy. Our governments and our people 
have been slandered for their trouble.

Slorc's actions in the next few days will be important. Although 
we have little hope Rangoon will listen, we hope the regime will 
reverse itself and defuse the anxiety. At the least, it should 
release the detained NLD members and allow the party to meet in 
peace. If the unthinkable occurs, and Mrs Suu Kyi is arrested 
once again or the regime acts violently against her, Slorc will 
risk everything.

So long as there is hope for reconciliation in Burma, Rangoon 
will have a change to continue its show, controversial gains in 
the world community. It is unlikely such rewards could continue 
if Slorc again turns brutal. The regime's release of Mrs Suu Kyi 
from house arrest last year resulted in some acceptance of the 
junta by its neighbours and others. Any reversal of that policy 
will be met by major outcry.

The Rangoon regime must realise, and then accept, that Burmese 
have the right to choose both their own system of government and 
leaders. As Lord Budddha pointed out, the only thing constant in 
our world is change. Slorc and the dictatorship are not immune to 
this law. The only questions is how a change will come to Burma's 
political landscape. One can only hope it will come peacefully. 
Cordial negotiations on national reconciliation should be the 
goal of all Burmese. (BP) 

BurmaNet regularly receives enquiries on a number of different 
topics related to Burma. If you have questions on any of the 
following subjects, please direct email to the following 
volunteer coordinators, who will either answer your question or 
try to put you in contact with someone who can:

Campus activism: 	zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Boycott campaigns: [Pepsi] ai268@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx     
Buddhism:                    Buddhist Relief Mission:  
Chin history/culture:        plilian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Fonts:                  		tom@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
History of Burma:            zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
International Affairs:	Julien Moe: moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Kachin history/culture:      74750.1267@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Karen history/culture: 	Karen Historical Society: 
Mon history/culture:         [volunteer needed]
Naga history/culture: 	Wungram Shishak:  
Burma-India border            [volunteer needed]
Pali literature:            	 "Palmleaf":  c/o 
Rohingya culture		Kyaw Oo: myin@xxxxxxxxx   
Shan history/culture: 	Sao Hpa Han: burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shareholder activism:       simon_billenness@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Total/Pipeline		Dawn Star: cd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  
Tourism campaigns:      	bagp@xxxxxxxxxx     "Attn. 
World Wide Web:              FreeBurma@xxxxxxxxx
Volunteering:           	christin@xxxxxxxxxx  

[Feel free to suggest more areas of coverage]

The BurmaNet News is an electronic newspaper covering Burma.
Articles from newspapers, magazines, newsletters, the wire
services and the Internet as well as original material are 
It is produced with the support of the Burma Information Group 
(B.I.G) and the Research Department of the ABSDF {MTZ}              

The BurmaNet News is e-mailed directly to subscribers and is
also distributed via the soc.culture.burma and seasia-l
mailing lists. For a free subscription to the BurmaNet News, send 
an e-mail message to: majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxx   

For the BurmaNet News only: in the body of the message, type 
"subscribe burmanews-l" (without quotation marks).   
For the BurmaNet News and 4-5 other messages a day posted on 
Burma issues, type "subscribe burmanet-l"

Letters to the editor, comments or contributions of articles 
should be sent to the editor at: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx