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BurmaNet News October 5, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: October 5, 1996
Issue #532

Noted in Passing:

		Aung  San Suu Kyi is effectively under house arrest, and 
		the new crackdown is extensive by any standards.
		- New York Times Editorial 


October 5, 1996

A new law went into effect this week requiring President Clinton to impose an
American investment ban on Myanmar if its already repressive military regime 
extends its crackdown against dissent and democracy.  The timing was 
exquisite.  Myanmar, as Burma was renamed by its current rulers, is currently 
being shaken by the worst repression of the last five years.

The country's governing State Law and Order Restoration Council says that 
in the last week it has arrested nearly 600 members of the opposition National
League for Democracy who were planing to attend a party conference.  The 
league's leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, says the figure is closer to 800.  To 
reach foreign reporters, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi had to sneak out of her house,
which is now ringed by soldeirs and barricades.  The government has also cut
her telephone and stopped her regular weekend rallies.

The Burmese government's actions have provoked an unexpected and 
welcome international reaction.  The Philippines and Thailand, the two most 
democratic members of the Association of Soughteast Asian Nations, persuaded 
that organization to delay Burmese entry indefinitely.  Other nations, including 
Japan and Britain, are also considering limiting their trade with Myanmar.  

Washington's sanctions bill prohibits all new American investment if the 
Burmese authorities harm or rearrest Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi or engage in 
widespread repression.  These conditions have clearly been met.  Mrs. Aung 
San Suu Kyi is effectively under house arrest, and the new crackdown is 
extensive by any standards.

President Clinton this week condemned the Burmese conduct and banned 
travel to the United States by Burmese officials and their families.  The 
Administration chose not to apply the new sanctions immediately, but 
promises to take a fresh look at the issue as early as Monday.  Officials 
argued that sanctions would be more effective if Washington can persuade
European and Asian nations to restrict their own trade with Myanmar, although 
they are unlikely to join in full sanctions.

Recruiting international support is wise, and a few days'delay is acceptable. 
But the Administration should not wait for long to impose the ban on new 
American investment.  The Burmese leaders are not likely to care much about
the travel restrictions.  Sanctions on Myanmar are now called for under 
American law, and should be employed unless the Burmese leadership 
releases hundreds more prisoners and allows freedom of movement to Mrs.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters.


October 4, 1996

No one disputes that the Asian nation of Burma and its 45 million people 
have the misfortune to be ruled by one of the most odiious regimes on 
earth.  The questoin is what the rest of the world should do about it.

The military junta, which goes by the appropriately unappealing acronym 
of SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council), in recent days has 
revealed again its lack of shame and moral compunction.  Eight hundred 
civilians, most of them peaceful activists for democracy, have been rounded
up and jailed; history suggests that many are being mistreated.  Burma's 
rightful leader - Aung San Suu Kyi -, the brave woman who overwhelmingly
won an election six years ago but never was permitted to take office - has 
been placed again under house arrest.  Her telephone connections to the 
outside world have been severed.

All this came in response to Aung San Suu Kyi's attempt to hold a peaceful
meeting of her National League for Democracy.  As usual, she has responded
with calm and optimism to the latest outrage.  Slipping past police barricades 
to meet with reporters, she said the SLORC's action reflected "the extent of 
their fear, their nervousness" and would in the end prove a boon.  "People 
are fed up with this kind of stupid behavior, and the international community
agrees now the SLORC is getting worse, not better," the Nobel Laureate said.

Now it is up to the international community to prove her correct.  President 
Clinton took a step in the right direciton yesterday when he signed a proclamation 
barring SLORC rulers and their relatives from visiting the United States.  Burma's
neighbors, whose policy of constructive engagement has so evidently and 
abysmally failed, indicated that they are rethinking the prompt admission of Burma 
to their ASEAN alliance.  Some European nations are pushing for trade sanctions.

These halting steps are welcome but hardly sufficient.  A new U.S. law, signed 
last week by Mr. Clinton, mandates the imposition of sanctions in the event of 
"large-scale" repression."  It is difficult to view the crackdown in Burma as 
anything else.  Now Burma's dictators and democrats alike will be watching to 
see which side the United States and its allies support.


October 3, 1996

DATE: Thursday, October 3, 1996
TIME: 10:30AM
LOCATION: 128 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 204
          Pasadena, California
CONTACTS: Dan Stormer (818) 585-9600
          Jennie Green and Tyler Giannini (212) 614-6431


     Victims of rape, forced labor, forced relocation, assaults,
and the death of family members today sued the multinational oil
companies Unocal (El Segundo, CA) and Total (France), together with
their joint venture partners, the military junta in Burma, the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and the SLORC-controlled
 petroleum company, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
The victims also sued two of Unocal's top executives, John Imle and
Roger Beach, for their complicity in the project and the abuses
surrounding it.  The Burmese victims are joined by Louisa Benson,
a representative of the Karen National Union, and now a California
taxpayer who is suing the members of the joint enterprise for
unfair business practices in California.  The Karen are one of the
ethnic minority groups affected by the pipeline project.

     The plaintiffs are represented by a coalition of human rights
organizations and private attorneys.  The plaintiffs seek a halt to
the violence, a disgorgement of the unlawful profits obtained by
Unocal, and compensation for the egregious and despicable conduct
of defendants. The case charges SLORC, the oil companies, and the
executives with legal responsibility for violations of international human 
rights prohibitions against forced labor and crimes against humanity, 
torture, including rape, and unlawful conspiracy.

     The Yadana natural gas pipeline project was established by
Unocal, Total, and MOGE to build a pipeline from the Yadana field,
a natural gas resource off the coast of Burma, to Thailand.  The
pipeline route goes through the Tenasserim region, an area where a
number of indigenous groups live.  The oil companies have worked
with the SLORC military and intelligence forces who have relocated
whole villages, forced farmers living in the area of the proposed
pipeline to provide in their labor for the pipeline, as well as
stole their property.  SLORC's methods have included brutal human
rights abuses such as killing members of families, beatings, rapes,
threatened rapes, and other torture.

     The despicable conduct includes the brutalizing of a mother,
who, while nursing her baby was kicked by a SLORC officer into a
fire, the baby was burned and when SLORC soldiers prevented the
baby from obtaining medical assistance, the baby died.  Other
plaintiffs were raped, beaten, brutalized and otherwise tortured.
Plaintiff Benson, a former Burmese citizen, stated, "This conduct
is despicable by any standards.  It is not acceptable to allow the
companies to profit through human misery."  Tyler Giannini, co-director of
 EarthRights International stated, "This detention, torture, and death must 
stop.  SLORC's oppressive policies must halt."

     Jennie Green, staff attorney with the Center for
Constitutional Rights, charged the companies with profiting from
forced labor:  "Unocal and Total have entered into a unholy
alliance with a military regime whose brutal human rights record is
internationally notorious."  Added Dan Stormer of Hadsell & Stormer
"Multinational corporations must be held accountable for their
complicity in violations of basic human rights, and with this
lawsuit we intend to do just that."

The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, 
the Law Offices of Hadsell & Stormer, Paul Hoffmann, and EarthRights 
International.  At the Press Conference, Ms. Green, Mr. Stormer, and Ms. 
Benson, as well as others, will be available for comment.


October 4, 1996
by James Fahn

A CLASS action lawsuit accusing Total, Unocal and Burma's ruling
military junta of "egregious human rights violations" was filed
yesterday in the US federal district court in Los Angeles.

The plaintiffs include 15 anonymous Burmese nationals who claim
that they have suffered direct harm - including forced labour and
portering, assault, rape and the death of family members - as a
result of the Yadana gas pipeline being built by the defendants,
according to Katharine Redford, director of Earth Rights
International (ERI), a Kanchanaburi-based non-governmental

"For the plaintiffs in this case, who cannot voice opposition to
such harms in Burma, this lawsuit is their only chance for
justice," explained Ka Saw Wa, ERI's field coordinator.
The identities of the Burmese plaintiffs and their location will
remain confidential for their safety, Redford said.

The lawsuit also names as defendants two Unocal executives: John
Imle, current president of the US-based company  and  Roger
Beach. she said.

Comments from the defendants were unavailable at press time
because the suit was not publicly announced until 12.30 this
morning, Bangkok time.

Earlier this month, however, following the announcement of a
different lawsuit to be filed solely against Unocal by the
in-exile National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
(NCGUB) and the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB),
Unocal denied allegations of human rights abuses on the Bt30
billion pipeline project.

"All people who work on the pipeline are paid a better- than-
average wage, people have been  more-them-fairly compensated for
any land use and villages are in the same place they always have
been," the Unocal statement read. We believe that this lawsuit is
motivated solely by political considerations.
"The people of [Burma] will receive the main benefits from the
Yadana natural gas project. In particular, the people along the
pipeline route benefit from new jobs and the U $2 million [Bt50
million] in socio-economic programmes sponsored by the project,"
the statement added.

Construction of the actual pipeline, which will  transport
natural gas from Burma's Yadana field in the Gulf of Martaban to
Thailand, is due to begin in Nov. The Petroleum Authority of
Thailand (PIT) is building the pipeline on the Thai side, while
PTI Exploration & Production Plc  (PTTEP) has a 25.5 per cent
stake in the Yadana gas production venture, but neither has been
named as a defendant.

"They shouldn't be buying the gas, but based on our present
information they haven't done anything illegal," said Redford, a

Unocal has also claimed that its involvement in the project is
purely financial. Earlier this week, a Unocal spokesperson
declined to answer any specific allegations because the French
company Total is the project operator.
The lawsuit announced yesterday was filed by the Centre for
Constitutional Rights (CCR), a US-based legal organsation that
has successfully fought similar court cases, said Redford.

"[The] defendants' conduct violates state and federal law, and
customary international law, including the prohibitions against
forced labour and forced relocations, rape and other torture, and
other human rights violations," according to a statement 
released by ERI. Unlike the previously announced suit, the
complaint filed yesterday, which comprises more than 50 pages,
details the alleged human rights violations, Redford said.

Ka Saw Wa added that the incidents had been documented in
interviews carried out by people under his guidance over the last
year. "Nobody is arguing that company officers went out and did
these things themselves, but they can be held responsible if they
were done in furtherance of the joint venture," said Redford.

"We think the companies know what has been going on, but [to win
the case against them] we just have to show that they should have
known what's going on because of Slorc's history of human rights
abuses," she added. 
Since it is a civil rather than a criminal suit, a guilty verdict
would result in fines rather than jail time. Damages awarded from
class action suits have amounted to billions of dollars in some
cases, but it usually takes many years before a verdict is
reached. In this case, it may take years merely for the court to
make a decision on the key issue of whether it has   jurisdiction
to try the case, Redford explained.


October 4, 1996

Seattle Campaign for a Free Burma

2319 N. 45th St., Suite 115 Seattle, WA 98103 Ph: (206) 784-5742 Fax: 
(206) 784-8150


Apple Computer confirmed today that it is in the process of terminating its 
relationship with its distributor in the Southeast Asian dictatorship of Burma

Apple spokeswoman Nancy Keith Kelly said the move was in reaction to a
Massachusetts state "selective purchasing" law signed by Governor William
Weld in June.  The law bars state contracts with companies doing business
in Burma.  Similar laws are in effect in six US cities. 

"This is exactly what we want this law to do," said Rep. Byron Rushing,
sponsor of the Massachusetts bill.  "We hope the rest of the companies
will also get out."

Apple had sold several thousand units to the ruling military junta in
Burma, ostensibly for use in the school system.  Sources say the purchase
was arranged through Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, head of Burma's dreaded Military
Intelligence, and concurrently Secretary 1 of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC). 

Reports from inside Burma suggest that students were required to pay extra
fees for the computers but were then not given access to them. 

The SLORC recently announced a law providing long prison terms for those
who use a computer modem without government permission.  Similar laws are
already in effect for fax machines, telephones, satellite dishes and videotapes. 

Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has
called for sanctions against the military junta, saying that international
commerce under present circumstances only reinforces the control of the
SLORC, which has refused to hand over power to democracy forces despite an
overwhelming election victory. 

A SLORC crackdown during the past week has brought the arrest of 800
democracy supporters, and has resulted in fresh international condemnation
of the regime. 

Yesterday, President Clinton issued a proclamation banning visas for SLORC
members and their families.  He is considering further economic sanctions
as outlined in a bipartisan law passed by Congress. 

An international three day fast for Burma begins Monday, October 7th on
more than 60 university campuses in the US, as well as South Africa,
Japan, India and other countries.  Activists are targeting US companies
Unocal, Texaco, Arco and PepsiCo, as well as Mitsui, Mitsubishi and
Marubeni of Japan. 

   Contact:  Dr. Thaung Htun, National Coalition Government of the Union
of Burma, 212-338-0048 Simon Billenness, Senior Analyst, Franklin Research
and Development, 617-423-6655, x225 Nancy Keith Kelly, International
Public Relations, Apple Computer, 408-996-1010


September 3, 1996
By Seth Mydans

YANGON, Myanmar, Oct 2. -- As a small crowd of plainclothes security men
waited in the rain outside, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today called the military
creackdown over the past few days a victory for her pro-democracy movement.

"We rather feel that every time Slorc takes action against us it helps us
greatly,"  she told reporters.  She was referring to the State Law and Order
Resotration Council, the ruling junta, which over the last few days has
arrested hundreds of her supporters and barricaded her house.

"People are fed up with this kind of stupid behavior," she said.  "And the
international community has now realized that we were correct when we said
Slorc was getting worse, not better."

It was the first public statement by the pro-democracy leader, winner of the
1991 Nobel Peace Prize, since the authorities clamped down last Friday to
prevent a conference of her National League for Democrracy, sealing her off
from the outside world.

Unable to receive visitors at her home, which has remained surrounded by
soldiers and riot policemen, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi evaded security men to
meet with reporters for an hour this afternoon at the home of one of her aides.

"I've had a good rest," she said, smiling, as she sat barefoot in a low
chair, wearing a bright blue shirt and with purple orchids in her hair.
 "I've gotten a lot of exercise, walking round and round the garden in the
evenings.  It is the first time in more than a year that I have had time to
stand and stare."

Since the weekend, the Government has maintained a barrage of criticism of
her, saying its crackdown was necessary to prevent her from fomenting
disorder and even riots.

But privately, on high-ranking official said Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi would have
won either way --  by holding her party meeting and issuing political
position papers, or by apearing the victim of Government repression.

Though she said she leaves her house once or twice a day to drive home the
two senior aides who are allowed to visit her, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's
telephone has been cut and the Government has tried to bar the press and
foreign diplomats, as well as her supporters, from making contact with her.

She estimated that 800 of her supporters had been arrested in recent days.
 On Tuesday the Government said that it had detained more than 500 people,
but that most of them would be released quickly.

She said there are 32 people with her in her large but rundown lakeside
compound in the center of this city, formerly known as Rangoon.

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi seemed relaxed, and even energized, by the
confrontation with the Government -- confident, joking and mocking the
authorities as she does with the crowds that gathered outside her house every
weekend until this one to hear her speeches.

The only hardship she admitted to was the abundance of chicken curry that
remained uneated at her home after the party gathering was blocked.

"Chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken, for days and days and days," she said,
although because she is a vegetarian, it was her companions who suffered the
monotony rather than she.

Though the Government appears to have the upper hand, closing off her options
for opposition activity, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi asserted that its strong actions 
betrayed a continuing fear of the extent of her support around the country.

"The level of their response is always a reflection of the level of their
fears, their nervousness," she said.


October 3, 1996
By James Hookway
AP Dow Jones News Service

Burma is facing severe economic difficulties which threaten to drain the
country of sought-after hard currency and derail the military government's
plans for growth, observers in Rangoon say.

The observers view a gasoline shortage in the country as the clearest sign
yet of a hard-currency crunch in the public sector, and indications are the
situation could get worse.  Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. revealed last
month that the State Law and Order Restoration Council, known as SLORC, was
in arrears for payments on crude oil imports, prompting speculation that the
country's foreign reserves are dwindling fast.

The arrears on oil payments -- which foreign bankers in Rangoon put at around
$30 million -- may point to wider problems in paying for capital-goods
imports, which accounted for 40% of all imports in the fiscal year ended
March 31, 1995, according to Burmese government data.


The imports are vital to economic growth, helping push real adjusted gross
domestic product growth up to 4.6% in the 1994095 fiscal year from 2.7% in
thye year earlier period.

World Bank data show reserves at $341.7 million in fiscal year 1994-95, and
Burmese authorities forecast this to rise to $372 million in the fiscal year
ended March 31, 1996.  But analysts view this figure with suspicion, pointing
out that the government's figures are unreliable at best.

The country already faces difficulties servicing a near-crippling debt
burden. Total debt in arrears in fiscal year 1994-95 reached $1.48 billion, a
precipitous climb from $365 million in fiscal year 1989-90, according to US
embassy figures that are calculated using International Monetary Fund and
World Bank data.

Under the circumstances, Burma may find it hard to take on additional debt to
pay for imports.

Economists in Singapore say Burma's foreign exchange policy of pegging the
kyat to an unnaturally high level of six kyat for one dollar isn't helping.
 The black market rate is about 165 kyat.

"For one thing, it makes exports expensive,and it encourages imports.The
trade deficit looks pretty bad as a result," said Neil Saker, an analyst at
Crosby Securities Ltd. in Singapore.

One Western embassy official sad the economic difficulties have reached such
proportions that the government resorted to purchasing dollars at unofficial
rates at Rangoon's foreign-exchange stalls.  The secret police, meanwhile,
had also been ordered to make sure nobody was driving up the price of U.S.


Meanwhile, the growing strength of Western boycotts on Burmese goods is also
eating away at Rangoon's ability to bring in foreign funds. PepsiCO and Levi
Strauss & Co of the U.S. ahve already quit the country in response to
consumer pressure in the U.S. and Europe.

Burmese officials are putting a brave face on it, though.  Aung Hliang,
director general of the state-owned Myanma Petroleum Products Enterprise,
said 150,000 gallons of gasoline and 400,000 gallons of diesel are being
distributed daily.

But black market traders aren't taking any chances. The lack of crude imports
 has send the balck market gasoline prices spiraling, climing to 400 kyats a
gallon last week ($2.42 at the unofficial exchange rate) from 200 kyats ($1.21)

The key problem for Rangoon is that its main foreign-exhcnage earners -- rice
and timber -- are seeing a production slowdown.  Government figures indicate
that state-monopolized exports fell in the fiscal year ended March 1996, with
rice exports falling to 400,000 metric tons in fiscal year 1996/96 from one
million metric tons the previous year.  A metric ton is equal to 2,204.62 pounds.

Already, Burmese consumers are snapping up staple food products in
anticipation of delivery problems, and this is expected to adversely effect
the government's recent progress in reducing inflation.

The only thing that can turn the conomy around, analysts say, is a more
liberal political climate which would enable Burma to seek low-interest,
long-term funds from the World Bank and the IMF.  The door to these funds was
slammed in Rangoon's face when the military junta annnulled elections in 1990.


October 4, 1996
by Aung Zaw

AYE Aye Win from Thankayta township, a member of the National
League for  Democracy, was a regular visitor to Aung San Suu
Kyi's  "democraey forum".  At one recent gathering outside Suu
Kyi's University Avenue house, she was so moved by a Suu Kyi
speech that she yelled out: "Power to Aung San Suu Kyi". Shortly
after, she was taken away and received seven years  imprisonment.

In recent months, the Slorc has stepped up its been campaign to
suppress all  forms of dissent against its rule, and handed out
severe punishments to those who dare to defy it.
A few weeks ago, Hla  Myint, an NLD member and elected MP in
Maubin township of Irrawaddy division, was sentenced  to two 
years; imprisonment. His crime was to tell a police  officer to
leave an NLD meeting after he was seen  Jotting  down the names
of members present.

Some sources reported. that the wife of an NLD MP, Hla Than, and
her son were also arrested last month.

Hla Than served time in Insein prison and died in hospital
recently. According to sources in Rangoon, Hla Than's family
members were arrested without any reason.

ln August, the state owned press reported the arrest of nine
youths, including one girl, for distributing pamphlets at Suu
Kyi's weekend rallies. Labelling the youths "delinquents," the
paper said they distributed anti-SLorc pamphlets aimed at
inciting unrest during the "weekend roadside talks on University
Avenue." Those arrested included Ko Myint and Nyi Nyi from
Rangoon university and Kyaw Soe Min Khine  from the Rangoon
Institute of Medicine, sources in the capital said. A big blow
for the NLD was the detention in May of Win Htein who was serving
as a liaison officer for Suu Kyi. He was sentenced to seven years.
(BurmaNet Editor's Note: his sentence has been extended to 14 years)

Suu Kyi wrote in her recent column:  "When U Win Htein, a key of
my office staff, was arrested, he had a bag already  packed. When
U Win Htein asked those who had come to take him away whether
they had an arrest warrant, they replied that it was not necessary as 
charges had already been moved against him and his sentence had 
been decided." 
An NLD source said the party feared Win Htein was suffering a lot. 
"He won't come out the same person," he said. 

Before last  week's crackdown, observers  have noticed more and
more underground anti-Slorc statements  and leaflets began to be
circulated throughout the country.

Significantly, many activists, under ground labour unions and
former students resurfaced recently. "They may not have a
well-organised plan but they are doing what they  can" said one 

Another student, Ye Htum was also arrested along with four other 
student after he visited Suu Kyi's house on  Aug 8 with four
other  students.

According to Rangoon sources, the  Slorc arrested Soe Naing and
Htun  Naing from Mingala Taung Nynit township on  Sept 27 Myuo
Maung Aung Myint, Tin Tin Win  (Female), Tim Tim   Maw (Female). 

"It is just like they took him  without a warrant," a  friend said. He also 
said the  cooks who were cooking for  the NLD congress were apprehended.


October 4, 1996 (abridged)
by Aung Zaw

The ongoing game of brinkmanship in Rangoon reached new levels of
intensity last week as the ruling  junta,  officially known as
the State Law and Order Restoration Council, sealed off
University Avenue, where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi lives. 
On Friday morning the authorities cut off the telephone line to
Suu Kyi's residence. Then a sweeping crackdown began. Military
intelligence officers barged into the  house and took people
away, and  rounded up people  who were heading to Suu Kyi's
house on the streets.

This crackdown is slightly different from the May move. This time
the government seems determined to prevent any contact between
Suu Kyi and the outside world.

Suu Kyi has not been allowed to speak to the press or her followers. 
The riot police held photographers and television journalists for 
international media organisations at their hotels and confiscated film 
and tapes of University Avenue and police checkpoints. Three European 
tourists were also rounded  up by the riot police.

The Slorc's handling of the tourists outraged tour agents. "It
ruined everything,' said one local agent.

The junta's "Visit Myanmar Year", set to begin on Nov 18, is a
fiasco, he added.

"They said they wanted tourists to come and they arrested them.
Some  tourists who went to University Avenue were searched and
films were seized  at the Rangoon airport before they left.

Shortly after the crackdown began, NLD chairman Aung Shwe issued
a statement saying:

"The crackdown is typical of the present military regime that
they should try to resolve political differences through draconian 
measures rather than finding a constructive course of action."

In Rangoon, the owner of the NLD  head-office at Shwegonedine,
asked the NLD office to move from the premises. According to a
reliable source the Slorc has threatened owners of the buildings.

"They have been told that these buildings would be confiscated
when the NLD is announced as being an unlawful organisation," he said.

On Sunday the riot police cleared away coming to hear Suu Kyi's
regular weekend speech. It marked the first time Suu Kyi has been
prevented from holding her weekend gatherings since she was freed
from six years of under house arrest.

In June, the regime passed laws that empower the Home Ministry to
ban Suu Kyi's party from holding gatherings at her house on the
grounds that they obstruct the Slorc-sponsored National
Convention's efforts to draft a constitution.

According to the law, anyone found guilty faces a 20 year jail
term. A few months ago, the NLD received a notice from the local
authorities that it must stop weekend gatherings. The question
now is: How long can Slorc block University Avenue?

In a police state when citizens are afraid to discuss politics
and openly criticise the government, the "democracy forum" at
University Avenue has provided them with a rare freedom.'

"People are going there for two reasons," explained one person
who attended Suu Kyi's democracy forum recently. 
"One is they want to show they support her and two is you can
relax and hear the truth and criticism it is refreshing for
people who are fed up with Slorc just to be hearing the truth. It
is totally different meaning in a police state"

Today though, the atmosphere around Suu Kyi's neighbourhood is
tense. There reports that the junta is telling its soldiers that
the NLD is an enemy that "we have to crush."

But among the Slorc leadership there are apparently differences
of opinion over how to deal with Suu Kyi and how to defuse the
current political stale mate. 

"One faction wants to wipe out the movement, they are in
dilemma," said an insider.    

The recent crackdown and the junta's inflexibility has already
backfired against the junta. Asean is looking increasingly
reluctant to let the junta become a member next year. Japan,
Burma's biggest donor, has also urged the junta to open a
political dialogue with Suu Kyi.

Senior Gen Than Shwe, when he met senior leaders and regional
commanders on Monday said that they junta is handling the current
political situation carefully and softly.

"There are soldiers who advocate not killing the bird, but they
are effectively clipping the wings of the bird," said a diplomat
in Bangkok.

"This is their purpose, they won't touch her but will continue to
amputate the NLD," she said.

Indeed, the ongoing crackdown creates a climate of fear but
activists are not going to hold back, said a source close to the
NLD. "They are pushing through with it," he said.

The NLD and the Slorc will more than likely continue to play
their cat and mouse game.


October 4, 1996
Aye Chan Naing

The sounds of automatic gunfire still ring in his ear. News of
mass killings take his breath away. He weeps bitter tears of
disappointment. Martin Morland, the former British ambassador to
Burma, vividly recalls the day that soldiers gunned down peaceful
demonstrators on the streets of Rangoon in September, 1988.

"During those days, I went to my office every day. I had to
inform our Foreign Office of day-to-day events, and also to speak
to journalists. There was a tremendous feeling of freedom of
exhilaration, that the repressive rule of government were to be
lifted. But in the end I watched helplessly the slaughtering of
innocent people. It was totally one-sided," he said at his London home.

Morland, who has a long-term love affair with Burma, served there
as ambassador m Rangoon for eight years, covering two separate
periods in the fifties and eighties.

After gaining independence from Britain in 1948, Burma fell under
military dictatorship in 1962. Unlike former communist countries
in Eastern Europe, the attempt to remove military rule ended in
the loss of thousands of lives and led to the formation of
another military junta - the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc).

While consolidating its power over the last seven years, the
Slorc has also sought to end Burma's self-imposed isolation, a
campaign that culminated with Visit Myanmar Year this year.

British NGOs, however, have led the way in opposing the campaign.

Tricia Barnett, coordinator at the Tourism  Concern group, which
offers "educational materials" for concerned tourists, said:
"Burma is an extraordinary example of people who have lost their
livelihood because of tourism."

For British tour firms who operate in Burma all this appears to
be of no concern. Like Oriental Express - the only answer to
reports of abuses in Burma is "no comment".

Since 1988, hotel and tourism-related investment, mostly from
Singapore and Thailand, became the second biggest source of
foreign funds in the  country, amounting to US$674 million
(Btl6.2 billion) or 20 per cent of the total foreign investment.

Yvette Mahon, of the Burma Action Group (BAG) - a London-based
grassroots organisation campaigning for democracy in Burma -
said: "Some people would argue that tourists will lead to a more
general  opening up of the country, and will prevent the regime
from committing human rights abuses. But the experience of other
countries in the region, such as East Timor and Tibet, indicates
that it would be quite possible for the regime in Burma to
encourage tourism while at the same time oppressing the people."

The BAG has recently released the second edition of "Burma - the
Alternative Guide" - urging people not to go to Burma until there
is democracy. The BAG's campaign has already forced several
British tour operators to drop their Burmese holiday pro motions
but this leaves dozens of companies, including British Airways,
still active.

Tourism is not the only issue that Burma activists are targeting.
The accused companies investing in Burma are fuelling the junta's
human rights violations.

As with the anti-apartheid movement m South Africa in the 1990s,
Burma activists in the US have already forced several American
cities to refrain from doing business with companies investing in Burma.
Consumer boycotts have pressured London Fog Industries, a $400
million manufacturer of outer wear, to drop its operation in
Burma joining other multinational companies such as Levi Strauss,
Reebok, Eddie Bauer, Liz Clairborne, Columbia Sportswear, Coca
Cola and others who had already ended their operations.

In July, giant European brewers Carlsberg and Heineken abandoned
plans for building breweries in Burma.

The British famous clothing retailer, BHS, also faces similar
consumer action in the UK A month ago, a member of the BAG found
a BHS store in London selling clothes with the label, "Made in
Myanmar". Myanmar is a name for Burma given by Slorc. The BAG is
still pursuing BHS.

A BHS spokesman said the firm had been trading with its supplier
for two years: "BHS would not withdraw its business connection
with Burma unless the UK, EU or UN were to impose sanctions on
Burma," he said.

If BHS does stop, it will be not because of any British
government action in the foreseeable future.

The British Embassy in Rangoon has been organising "British Week"
- promising companies the opportunity of meeting Slorc's
officials and businessmen.
The British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had organised
an official trade delegation, providing companies with a grant of
Lb 1,000 (Bt39,600) for joining the trip to Burma in February.
The delegation was led by Peter Godwin, chairman of the DTI -
Asia Pacific Advisory Group who also chairs the Myanmar-British
Business Association (whose patron is the Burmese ambassador to

Britain's business interest in Burma is probably the main reason
behind London's limp-handed policy toward Slorc.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that because of the recent
crackdown on Aung San Suu Kyi's party, a second DTI trip to
Burma, scheduled for July was called off. However, a DTI
spokesman had another version. He said:  She reason was because
we haven't yet evaluated the first visit report."

To add more confusion, the Foreign Office spokesman said: "There
will be no more DTI trips to Burma this year. Another trip during
next year will depend on the improvement of the human rights
situation in Burma." According to the DTI spokesman, another trip
is dependent on the response of companies. If they wish, there
could be another trip even within this year, he said.
In a speech in Britain's Parliament m February 1996, the British
Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Hanley, said: "Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi has not called for a ban ... In a recent interview with the
BBC, in answer to a question about whether foreign investment and
trade will boost growth, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi replied:  'It
depends on how investments are put to use. Those that
bring prosperity that widen the gap between rich and poor will
never benefit the country.' I cannot but agree with that."

However, when Suu Kyi asked members of the European Parliament in
July this year to impose economic sanctions against Slorc, in a
videotaped message smuggled out of Burma, and when the Danish
government proposed an EU ban at the very same meeting, Britain
was among other EU countries that quickly blocked the proposal.

The Foreign Office spokesman argued that economic sanctions from
EU countries would not make any different to Slorc unless such a
policy receives international support, mainly from Burma's neighbours.

As for Morland, he thinks the British government "has gone too
far by encouraging investment in Burma". "It is a very delicate
matter and difficult to make a judgement, I agree."
But Morland feels that encouraging British companies to do
business in Burma, sits uneasily with the government political
position on Slorc. "in fact, you cannot do business in Burma
without at least indirectly supporting the junta," he concluded.
Aye Chan Naing is a former student who participated in the 1988
pro-democracy movement in Burma. He now lives in exile in Norway.


October 4, 1996

Yvette Mahon Burma Action Group Collins Studios Collins Yard
Islington Green London N1 2XU

Tel: 44 171 359 7679 Fax: 44 171 354 3987 E-mail: bagp@xxxxxxxxxx

Date: PRESS RELEASE 8th OCTOBER 1996 Burma Action Group UK

British Home Stores have announced that their only remaining
contract for Burma sourced clothing is due to expire within the
next three weeks. The company have signed a sequence of contracts
with their UK suppliers for Burmese clothing. However on expiry of
this current contract the company will not sign a new contract,
and now have "no plans for further production from Burma".

BHS would not be drawn on the reason for the non-existence of
further contracts. The company has made it clear that all their
sourcing decisions are taken on a purely commercial basis. However
the BHS boycott campaign has attracted much negative publicity for
the company over the last months and had the potential to have
significant impact on BHS sales figures. We believe that for this
reason, if no other, BHS decided not to sign a new contract.

The Burma Action Group launched the BHS boycott campaign on
30/8/96 due to the companies sale of clothing "made in Myanmar",
and when correspondence failed to persuade them to end their Burma
business. Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the
democratically elected National League for Democracy, has
repeatedly asked foreign companies to stay away from Burma, to
avoid supporting an illegitimate system of government
intrinsically harmful to the people of the country. Bhs have until
recently simply asserted  that  Rif Britain, the European Union or
the United Nations were to impose an official economic boycott on
Myanmar,  Bhs would of course comply.S The Burma Action Group now
welcomes the news that Bhs have no plans for further production
from Burma.

At the Labour party conference on 30/9/96, Glenys Kinnock MEP and
Derek Fatchett, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister presented BHS with
an "Unethical Business of the Year" award for their operations in
Burma. Since learning that Bhs will not be signing a new contract,
the Burma Action Group have cancelled all further BHS protest
events scheduled to have taken place on October 12th in ten
British towns and cities across the country.

Yvette Mahon, Coordinator said; Rthis is a clear success for the
Burma campaign here in Britain. The news that BHS, a major British
company, is now no longer conducting business in Burma  will lend
great strength and encouragement to the Burmese democracy
movement, at a time when they are subject to an increasingly
aggressive wave of repression. The British people are increasingly
behind them in their struggle for freedom,  many are now prepared
to demonstrate that fact by taking their custom elsewhere. We
advise other UK companies currently doing business with Burma,
including the high street retailer Debenhams, to take note. The
Burma Action Group will be entering into correspondence with
Debenhams, and will consider an appropriate course of action,
pending their response.

 For further Information contact: Yvette Mahon, tel: (44)-171-359 7679