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Burmanet News October 12, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: October 12, 1996
Issue #539

Noted in Passing:
		It was never intended for constructive engagement to be 
		an infinite process.  That would be carte blanche for the 
		generals. - Straits Times Editorial.


October 9, 1996

BurmaNet Editor's Note: This article is significant because it represents a 
shift in Asean thinking toward Burma.  The Straits Times, which expresses 
the Singaporean government's perspective, argues that unless the SLORC 
starts moving toward political pluralism, the ASEAN countries will not 
continue their supportive policies.  Thailand and the Philippines have 
been more publicly critical of the SLORC than the other members in ASEAN.  
This is the first time that the Singaporean government is expressing its 
displeasure.  Because ASEAN works on the principal of consensus, if even 
two or three countries strongly oppose Burma's entry into ASEAN, the 
entry will be postponed.

The sharp Philippines reaction to the latest harassment of National League
for Democracy (NLD) activists in Myanmar and the concern expressed by 
Thailand, have placed in the spotlight like never before the role of Asean in 
Myanmar's political emancipation.  It is premature, almost certainly wrong, 
to interpret that as a schism developing in the seven-nation organization
over its Myanmar policy.  Asean's operating watchword is consensus.  
But it would be foolish to pretend that Asean can, or should, continue to 
remain non-judgmental when the national reconciliation in Myanmar, 
which is the grouping's benign hands-off policy is meant to encourage, 
remains elusive.  Six years have passed since the result of a free election 
won by the NLD was rejected by the country's military rulers.  Meantime, 
the stonewalling between the ruling State Law and Order Restoration 
Council (SLORC) and Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD has become entrenched 
to the point where neither side can afford to yield.  the arrest of  some 800 
NLD supporters preparing a rally to mark the party's eighth anniversary a 
fortnight ago is more of the same trial of strength.  It would not be the last
such disturbance in Yangon, with the risk growing that each succeeding 
incident could get less peaceful.

Two issues are at stake.  First, Myanmar has applied to be a member of 
Asean by July next year.  It already has observer status, granted only this
year.  Second, Asean has, with its generous policy of constructive engagement, 
given the generals of Slorc ample leeway to open up the country to 
investment and diplomatic contact on the tacit understanding that this would
ease the way towards political openness gradually.  In the event, Philippine
President Fidel Ramos's pointed remark last week that Asean might re-examine
its policy at its next summit because of Slorc's high-handed conduct is the 
clearest indication so far that patience is wearing thin.  Thailand's Foreign 
Ministry, though more discreet, said Asean could not possibly overlook 
the latest crackdown.  Not too much should be made of what Mr. Ramos said 
in so far as it touches on Asean unanimity on constructive engagement.  
All members agree to it, some more enthusiastic than others.  It remains the 
most sensible approach to extracting from Myanmar compliance with 
civil norms in governance while granting it the courtesy of Asean not 
interfering in its political choices or imposing alien values on the people.  
By stimulating economic benefits to trickle down to the population, this 
is preferable to the punitive Western approach of sanctions and diplomatic  
isolation.  Sanctions are made to be circumvented, whereas Myanmar has
endured for decades in isolation without facing economic collapse.

But it was never intended for constructive engagement to be an infinite
process.  That would be carte blanche for the generals to perpetuate 
their hold on power without reference to the people.  As much as 
investments from Asean countries and the West have brought a 
noticeable change among the people from the poverty and the listlessness 
of old, the Slorc authorities have to reciprocate by moving more purposefully
to engender political pluralism.  This means heeding the popular will - nothing
more, nothing less.  A way has to be found for the Slorc to have the NLD 
brought back into the constitutional process; its huge 1990 election win 
demands that.  Ms. Suu Kyi was wrong to have taken the NLD out of the 
national convention which has been meeting since 1993 to devise guidelines
for a future constitution.  On her part, refusing to acknowledge that the 
military can have a role in national life is being untutored and inflexible.  
There is room for compromise.  But for sure, Slorc has to show results in 
its constitutional manoeuvres.  Otherwise, Asean will feel under increasing 
pressure - apart from the danger of internal dissension - to reassess its 
policy of constructive engagement, to say nothing of deferring membership 
for Myanmar.  It should be plain to the generals that neither course will be 
helpful to their country.


October 11, 1996
Yindee Lertcharoenchok

Despite intensive lobbying, the junta in Burma is seeing its bid
to become a member of Asean next year being jeopardised by its
own repressive rule and political intransigence.

The recent pronouncement by Asean to delay coming to a decision
on Burma's application to become part of the regional grouping
corresponded with repeated calls from the Burmese pro-democracy
movement, which wants Asean to stall on the issue until an
elected government is installed in Rangoon.

The resolve also matched the wish of Asean's key dialogue
partners in the West, which has been urging it to enforce
sanctions on and not reward the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc) for its relentless use of force to
suppress the popular demand for democracy.

"It will, of course, be difficult for us to meet and hold talks
with them  [Asean] during the Post Ministerial Conference if
Burma is accepted as a member," said a western diplomat, whose
country takes part in the annual gathering.

Burma's relationship with Asean has undergone a dramatic twist.
Almost 30 years ago, it was the same Burmese military regime in
Rangoon which refused to join Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore and Thailand when they founded the
staunchly anti-communist Asean on Aug 8, 1967.

And today, some core Asean members are showing signs of
reluctance to Burma's premature integration into the grouping for
fear of putting to risk Asean's international credibility and
standing if it associates with the pariah regime.

When Asean leaders announced their desire at the summit last
December to see the inclusion, by the year 2000, of the three
remaining non-member Southeast Asian nations into the grouping,
they expected Burma to come in after Cambodia and Laos. 

While they agreed on Burma's eventual membership into Asean, they 
remained indecisive over the exact time frame of its entry.

Asean leaders believe that given the flexibility of five more
years, Burma will undergo a gradual political transformation with
the eventual emergence of a new liberal, if not democratic,
government to replace the current authoritarian regime that has
been using heavy-handed measures since 1962 to rule the country.

But the seven-member Asean grouping was virtually taken aback by
the Slorc's drastic decision to hasten Burma's early admission
into the regional club.

In late August, Burma submitted a formal request to join Asean
next year together with Cambodia and Laos.

The Slorc's move was evidently inspired by Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad's strong advocacy for Asean to admit
Burma - and by Asean's controversial policy of constructive
engagement and non-interference.

Having been partially successful in neutralising the opposition
movement and ethnic insurgencies inside the country, the Slorc's
remaining critics are the West and human rights activists.

Slorc's motive in trying to join Asean quickly is self-evident.
As an Asean member, Burma will secure a more respectable standing
in the international arena. The Slorc will also be seen as a legitimate 
government and will have strong allies to counter moves to isolate it.
One senior Thai official said he believes Asean will gain nothing
from Burma's early membership, while the Slorc would, by joining
Asean, deliberately exploit the grouping for its political advantage, 
especially to deflect global pressure and criticism against it. 
"By joining Asean, the Slorc certainly hopes to Aseanise Burma's
political problems," said the official, who cautioned As an
against deciding hastily on Burma's membership application.

At an informal meeting in New York on Sept 27, Asean foreign
ministers, despite the recommendations made by the Jakarta-based
Asean Secretariat that Burma is ready to become a member of the
grouping, failed to reach a consensus on Burma's membership next year. 
They agreed that Burma, which was accorded observer status by
Asean in July, needs more time to familiarise itself first with
Asean's structure and activities before becoming part of it.

The decision to put on hold Burma's request was attributed to the
strong reservations made by the Philippines and Thailand, which
wanted to see political liberalisation and an improvement in the
human rights situation in Burma before the country is admitted
into the association.

The arguments and concerns of the Philippines and Thailand were
effectively heightened by the Slorc's renewed massive crackdown
on the popular National League for Democracy (NLD) at a time when
the Asean meeting was still in process.

Although Asean states will not openly admit that the political
turmoil in Burma is one of the crucial factors affecting the
country's Asean membership chances, the  latest Slorc suppression
wherein over 800 NLD members and supporters were arrested has
revived Asean's concern and substantially contributed to the
growing reluctance on the part of the grouping's members to
associate itself with the junta in Rangoon.

While Asean countries, in general, will avoid making any comments
on the overall political situation in Burma, the sporadic
clampdown by Slorc on pro-democracy activists, ongoing human
rights abuses and the ruling generals' growing intransigence to
dialogue with the NLD has put Asean at a difficult position,
especially when defending its constructive engagement policy.

The stance of the Philippines and Thailand against Burma's early
admission into Asean is understandable. As the two most advanced
civil societies of Asean, both are more sensitive to
international and domestic opinion. They are more likely to take
into consideration the concern and criticism expressed by the
public, nongovernmental organisations and the media.

Asean's refusal to grant Burma's wish has adversely affected the
Slorc, which is already facing mounting pressure from the
soon-to-be imposed sanctions by Washington the European Union.

The regime is also facing a tougher UN resolution this year as a
result of its own misconduct and refusal to initiate political
dialogue with the Burmese opposition and allow UN delegations to
conduct their annual investigation of the political and human
rights situation in the country.


October 11, 1996

Hanoi -Vietnam said yesterday that rejecting Burma's bid for full
entry into ASEAN would be tantamount to meddling in that
country's domestic affairs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tran Quang Hoan said Vietnam supported
Burma's full inclusion.- AP


October 8, 1996

Japan on Tuesday urged Myanmar's [Burma] military government to
hold direct dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi after the junta lifted an 11-day 
barricade against the pro-democracy leader.

"Direct dialogue between the SLORC and the NLD have not been realized. 
We would like to help direct dialogue be held between them," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Hiroshi Hashimoto said. 

Hashimoto said Tokyo will closely watch what the political situation in 
Myanmar, adding that whether Suu Kyi will be allowed to address crowds in 
front of her house this weekend is a key barometer. 

The SLORC on Tuesday took down the barricades set up Sept. 27 on roads 
leading to Suu Kyi's home in a bid to stop her from holding an NLD congress 
at her residence and speaking to NLD members and other supporters. 


October 12, 1996
By Aung Hla Tun

RANGOON, Oct 12 (Reuter) - Burma on Saturday blocked public access to
democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house to prevent her weekend public
gatherings from becoming a flashpoint for any disturbances, a government
official said.

No one had been detained by the ruling military State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), the official told Reuters. "The government as a 
preventive measure restricted traffic to the road. We also do not want the 
situation (public gatherings) to be exploited by anybody to disturb the peace 
and tranquility of the people," he said.

He could not say when the checkpoints would be removed but residents in the
area said they believed they may be removed on Monday.

Attempts to reach Suu Kyi by telephone for comment were unsuccessful as the
line appeared to be cut. The Nobel laureate had told reporters on Tuesday
after the barriers were removed that she was ready to resume her weekend
public meetings once access to University Avenue had been freed.

The official said the action to bar the way followed information Suu Kyi and
some senior officials of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD)
planned to meet at her house on Saturday morning to discuss re-staging a
party congress which was aborted late last month by a government crackdown.

An NLD member of parliament said all NLD MPs from Rangoon had been invited
to an informal meeting in Suu Kyi's house on Saturday morning.
However, he said that when he neared the house he found the road closed.
"We are not disappointed but we don't know what we'll decide to do next,"
said the MP, who asked not to be identified.

Police mounted checkpoints at University Avenue just after midnight and
turned away traffic from the road on which Suu Kyi's house is located, a
move that had been half-expected by many.  Witnesses said the checkpoints were 
manned by traffic police backed by armed security police.

Access to Suu Kyi's house was first barred on September 26 to stop a planned
September 27-29 NLD congress. As well as barring the way to Suu Kyi's home,
the SLORC also cracked down at that time on NLD party activists to thwart
the congress and detained 573 NLD members and supporters.

After the congress was effectively scotched, the military removed the
barriers on Tuesday. All detainees were released in stages.
"I don't think this time it will be necessary to detain anyone," the
government official said when asked if anyone was being detained this time
in addition to setting up of checkpoints along University Avenue.

Suu Kyi's weekend public gatherings in the past have attracted several
thousands of people who have come to hear her attack the SLORC and demand
greater democracy in Burma from the gates of her lakeside home. But the
SLORC has said such meetings are illegal.

Eighteen NLD party flags remained draped around the fence of Suu Kyi's home.
They were first flown in late September ahead of the failed party congress.
The official Burmese media on Saturday quoted a senior SLORC official,
Lieutenant-General Tin Oo, as warning "some unscrupulous people" against
disturbing the peace.

"It is found that some unscrupulous people are covertly perpetrating acts to
undermine public security with intent to jeopardise the country's peace and
tranquility," the media quoted him as saying.

He warned that "security measures will be carried out and effective action
will be taken" to prevent any disturbance.

Burma's action against Suu Kyi and NLD supporters last month drew
condemnation from the United States, Britain and international human rights

October 9, 1996
by David DeVoss in Los Angeles

George Scalise is angry. "How does selling computers to schools in 
Myanmar discourage democracy?" asks Apple Computer's chief 
administrative officer, his voice brimming  with sarcasm.

Scalise's ire was directed at a Massachusetts law
enacted two weeks ago which bans the state from buying goods
or services from companies doing business in Myanmar.

Faced with the prospect of losing sales worth millions of dollars to 
Massachusetts public schools, Apple promised last week to cut all 
ties with Myanmar when its present contracts expired.

But Scalise made it clear that the company did not like being used as 
a tool by politicians. "I don't think we should be doing State 
Department work at the state capital level," he said.

Corporations may not like trade sanctions but the
grass-roots campaign to prevent Myanmar's ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) from receiving
foreign investment clearly has them on the run.

Since 1992, 13 multinational corporations have withdrawn
from Myanmar amid pressure from shareholders and
consumers. Apple's departure was preceded by that of
seven United States apparel makers, two European breweries 
and energy companies Amoco and PetroCanada.

The wave of boycotts in the US and the resulting loss of
market share in Myanmar to Association of Southeast Asian
Nations companies is a growing source of concern for the
US Chamber of Commerce.

"It's no longer 1963, when Pax Americana reigned and
there were no other major competitors," said John Howard,
one of the chamber's leading international strategists.

"This is one more indication of America's failure to grasp the 
realities of the world market."

In addition to the state of Massachusetts, six US cities
have laws banning them from doing business with companies
active in Myanmar. Santa Monica in California may not
fuel city garbage trucks with gasoline from Texaco, Arco
or Unocal. Madison in Wisconsin bans PepsiCo machines
from its municipal buildings because the company has a
licensing arrangement with a joint venture company controlled 

Not only US companies are affected. San Francisco is poised to reject 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America's bid to construct a US$140 
million airport light rail system because the company is active in 

"We may see Japanese keiretsu [conglomerates] treated as
single companies in the future," said Simon Billenness, a
senior analyst with Franklin Research and Development.

"If one company is in Burma then the whole corporate
family could be barred."

The fact that several other jurisdictions including New
York City are considering laws similar to San Francisco's
worries some people in Myanmar.

"Political pressure groups appear to be succeeding in
their efforts to discourage some Western companies from
trading with and investing in Myanmar," said the trade
journal Myanmar Business in a September article headlined

"Yangon Under Siege". "Western companies should not cave
in to political pressure, especially when human rights
groups make claims that are untrue."

Countries such as Nigeria and North Korea have human
rights records worse than Yangon's. So why is Myanmar the
South Africa of the 1990s?

"Because the call for sanctions come from Aung San Suu
Kyi, the leader of the party that won the 1990 election,"
Massachusetts Governor William Weld said. "She's a
credible person inside the country."

Although Suu Kyi is a source of inspiration, the person
most responsible for the growing US boycott of Myanmar is
Zar Ni, a 33-year-old PhD candidate from Mandalay.

Along with 150 Myanmar students and a handful of liberal
activists, he has built a pro-democracy movement guided
by an Ethiopian proverb: "When spiders unite they can tie
down a lion."

Zar Ni, a former guide for Tourist Burma, came to the US
in 1988 but it was not until the early 1990s that he began to 
organize a network of pro-democracy students. He
wrote anti-SLORC leaflets using the pen name Oway -
Burmese for peacock. But instead of handing out tracts at
the University of Wisconsin where he went to school, he
distributed his thoughts on the Internet to campuses
throughout the US.

"The Internet was just becoming a powerful tool when we
started the Free Burma Coalition," he recalled. "It was a
case of being in the right place at the right time."

In early 1995, Zar Ni shifted the coalition's focus to economics. 
Supported by a scholarship from George Soros' Open Society 
Institute and a network of Myanmar students linked by e-mail, 
he began traveling around the US visiting the corporate 
headquarters of companies active in Myanmar and attending their 
annual shareholder meetings.

By early 1996, garment retailers from Liz Claiborne and Eddie Bauer 
to Macy's and Columbia Sportswear had left Myanmar, convinced 
that low prices there were not worth the headaches of consumer 
boycotts and shareholder lawsuits.

Meanwhile, students on more than 60 US campuses were
warming to the Free Burma message. Activists at Stanford
prevented Taco Bell, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, from opening 
on their campus. Across the country at Harvard,
PepsiCo lost a US$1 million contract when students
scuttled a plan to switch from Coca-Cola to Pepsi.

"The NLD [opposition National League for Democracy] owes
a lot to this young man," said Sein Win, a mathematics
professor from Prome Division who represents the exiled
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma in
Washington. "Zar Ni hits companies where it hurts - in
their sales and image."

For a movement largely financed by the sale of US$10
T-shirts, the Free Burma Coalition is remarkably efficient. 
Faxed statements arrive with numbing frequency at 
newspapers around the country. Its two Web sites,
illustrated with pictures and posters, are updated daily
with news from Myanmar. It is possible to download a
three-minute speech from Aung San Suu Kyi from one
Web site. There is even a hypertext link to SLORC's homepage.

"We encourage people to read the [official] New Light of
Myanmar," laughed Zar Ni. "We can only benefit by comparison.

"The greatest factor in our favor is that people in America think 
we can win," said Zar Ni. "America will never change China's 
policy but Burma can be pressured. That's why liberals come and 
support us when they get frustrated over Tibet."


October 8, 1996

The following is a brief speech delivered by P'doh Thu Yeh at UC Berkeley campus
on October 8, 1996 at Free Burma Fast press conference.  As Karen
representative, he is currently here in the US to help launch litigation action
against UNOCAL.

To All the American Student Activists:

	Thank you very much.  I am a Karen representative from the Karen National
Union Mergui/Tavoy distirict, best known as the UNOCAL pipe line project area.
On behalf of the Karen people I would like to express our deepest sincere and
heart felt thanks for all your efforts in bringing about democracy in Burma.

	Without all of us working together hand in hand, democracy in Burma can
never be achieved.  Your help and support to advance the struggle and to help
liberate the oppressed people from the brutal military regime of Burma will
never be forgetten by the Karens or the entire people of Burma.

	Since I've been to this country the situation has deterioated, the dry
season is upon us and the military operation has resume.  In the city they have
arrested more than 800 democracy activists including many NLD members.  Meantime
the area where I came from is experiencing massive influx of refugee.  Just
within the past month there are more than 10,000 new refugees and the story of
whole village being massacred and burned are common.

	The latest report which I have received has disturbed me greatly.  The
report of 200 innocent villagers being killed just in the past 3 weeks.  I don't
understand!!  As you all know we are in the midst of negotiating peace with the
SLORC.  How can they talk about peace and unity when innocent people are still
being killed.  

I want to assure you that your contribution and efforts which you have
shown is greatly appriciated and will not be forgetten.

Thank you.

Saw Thu Yeh
Karen National Union, Mergui/Tavoy District


October 11, 1996
Nussara Sawatsawang

Speculation is rife that the future of Burmese Foreign Minister
Ohn Gyaw is in jeopardy over his failure to protect  the image of
his military government in the international community. 
Some Burma watchers are so confident Mr Ohn Gyaw will be removed
that they say it is only a matter of time. But it will not be
easy finding a replacement  for the veteran diplomat, and so he
is expected to retain the post  for some time to come.

Initially, sources expected Mr Ohn Gyaw to be removed in the
reshuffle announced October 2. But, as it turned out, the
reshuffle only saw changes in the ministries of light industry,
and science and technology.

U Thein Tun, previously a senior official with the Energy
Ministry, was promoted to deputy minister of light industry, and
U Maung, a former ambassador to the United States, was appointed
science and technology minister.

The next reshuffle is expected to include the ministries of
development of border areas and national races, immigration and
population, and construction, with young military officers
promoted to fill vacancies as deputy ministers.

The State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) expects its
foreign minister to defend its activities and promote its image

But Slorc remains widely condemned for refusing to accept the
outcome of the 1990 general elections which gave the opposition
National League for Democracy (NLD) an ,overwhelming mandate to
run the country.
Slorc is also heavily criticised for the arrests in May and
September of  NLD members, and the death in June of James Leander
Nichols, who served as honorary consul for Denmark, Norway,
Finland and Switzerland, and was a personal friend of
NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr Nichols's death in prison while serving a sentence for illegal
possession of fax machines led to the withdrawal from Burma in
early July of Danish and Dutch brewers Carlsberg and Heineken.

The European Union has threatened sanctions, Norway has called
for stepped up international "pressure", and United States
President Bill Clinton has banned new American investments in
Burma, and visas to the US of members of Slorc and their families.

But the last straw threatening Mr Ohn Gyaw's job is probably the
cool reaction of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) 
to Burma's application for full membership of the grouping in 1997.

Burma, which was given observer status in July this year,
submitted  its application in August. Following the, latest wave
of arrests in Rangoon, Asean foreign ministers have voted against
rushing acceptance of Burma.  The Philippines has also called for
a review of the grouping's "constructive engagement" policy with
Burma, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and 
Thailand are the other Asean member states.


October 11, 1996

The next government reshuffle in Burma is expected to strengthen
the power of Gen Maung Aye, the Slorc vice-chairman, over Lt-Gen
Khin Nyunt, the ruling junta's first secretary.

Most of the people expected to make up the new line-up are
military officials under Gen Maung Aye, said sources.

Former eastern commander Gen Maung Aye is currently deputy
commander-in-chief of defence service and army chief commander.

While Gen Maung Aye is respected by military staff, Lt-Gen Khin
Nyunt, the military intelligence chief, has few aides. But Lt-Gen
Khin Nyunt's strength lies in his countrywide network and his
reputed close links to aged strongman Ne Win, to whom he can
report directly on any act of misconduct.

A source said Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt has tried to shore up his power
base by sending 12 intelligence men for training in a foreign
country for three years.

In a government reshuffle in May, Lt Gen Khin Nyunt succeeded in
promoting his men to at least three ministerial posts, including
appointing former Light Industry Deputy Minister Saw Tun as
minister of health.

A Bangkok-based diplomat said reshuffles in Rangoon have always
been about building allies through gifts of important positions,
not about boosting the administration's efficiency. 
The struggle is intensifying as the threat of a power vacuum at
the top becomes more real.

Gen Ne Win, 85 the strongman still believed to pull the strings
behind the scenes since stepping down in 1988, is said to be
seriously ill, his body half-paralysed for a month now.

Prime Minister and Slorc chairman Gen Than Shwe also is said to
have expressed a desire to step down next year according to
recent rumours in Rangoon.

Gen Than Shwe, 63, is reported to have suffered a stroke and is
said to be in poor health.

A professional soldier and  devout Buddhist, Gen Than Shwe so far
has been able to balance power between Gen Maung Aye and Lt-Gen 
Khin Nyunt.

As a compromise, Gen Than Shwe  might retain his political post
as premier, but allow Gen Maung Aye to  succeed him as Slorc
chairman  and commander-in-chief of defence services, the source said.

Whatever the changes that emerge, there is a common interest
among rival factions the survival of Slorc. 

Mr Ohn Gyaw's age, 64, is also said to be working against him.

But the sarcastic and outspoken minister, who draws sympathy from
some Burma watchers for being the man sandwiches between the
military regime and the outside world, has 40 years of experience
in foreign service.

Before being named deputy foreign minister in October 1988, one
month after Slorc seized power, and full minister in 1991, Mr Ohn
Gyaw served as head of the  South and Southeast Asia division,
the Political Department, and as ambassador to Yugoslavia, the
United Sates, Singapore, Australia and the former Soviet Union.

The only strong candidate to succeed Mr Ohn Gyaw is his deputy,
former ambassador to Thailand Nyunt Swe, but  he is not deemed
sufficiently senior, said one source.

Mr Nyunt Swe worked in intelligence before being appointed
ambassador to Thailand from 1985 to 1992, a post which helped
promote him to be Mr Ohn Gyaw's deputy.

Mr Nyunt Swe played an important role in protecting Rangoon
interests, including convincing Thailand to repatriate 80 Burmese
dissident students taking refuge along the border in December
1988, only three months after Slorc crushed the prodemocracy
uprising in Burma.

The repatriation was a part of a deal - in exchange for
concessions in forestry and fisheries in Burma - between the then
Burmese premier and Slorc chairman Gen Saw Maung, and the then
Thai Army Commander-in Chief Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

Mr Ohn Gyaw might be reassigned to an inactive post, as others
have been before him once they have outlived their usefulness,
said one diplomat.

But any reshuffle is likely to be no more than "window dressing"
as the military junta will be the real decision makers, he added.

October 11, 1996
Yindee Lertcharoenchok

HIGH-level United Nations officials are still negotiating with
the Burmese junta for the new UN human rights envoy, Rajsoomer
Lallah, to visit the country, informed sources in the United
States said yesterday.

Lallah, an Oxford-educated judge from Mauritius, replaced
Japanese professor Yozo Yokota who quit in May to protest against
the constant fights he had for finds to carry out his work.

Sources said the ruling Burmese State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc) refused to recognise Lallah's appointment, saying
the regime was not consulted on Yokota's replacement.

"At the moment, the [Burmese] government has not yet responded to
him [Lallah] in a positive way. The special human rights
rapporteur has not been able to visit Myanmar [Burma] despite his
repeated request to visit the country," said one source Familiar
with the issue. Sources said the Geneva-based UN Human Rights
Commission (UNHCR) has the right to appoint independent UN
experts to investigate alleged violations in countries considered
to have the worst human rights records. "In such a case Slorc need 
not be consulted over the appointment of Lallah," said Thaung Tun, 
an exiled Burmese student leader who is now in New York.

In his capacity as human rights envoy, Yokota conducted annual
visits usually at the end of the year, to Burma where he met
Slorc officials, visited prisons and interviewed jail inmates,
political detainees, ex-prisoners and political activists.

He also travelled to Burmese refugee amps along Thailand's border
with ,Burma to inquire about the human Rights situation.

Yokota then submitted an interim report of his findings to the UN
General Assembly and a full dossier to the plenary session of the
UNHCR which usually begins its annual meeting in February or March.

Sources said top United Nations officials are still talking to
Slorc officials, hoping to convince them to allow Lallah into Burma.
If Slorc does not reverse its decision, Lallah who has frequently
served on UN human rights bodies and as a special rapporteur for
the UNHCR, might opt to visit the Thai border areas, they added.

The sources said Lallah will still write a human rights report on
Burma even if his trip did not materialize.

They added that several independent watch groups on human rights,
including Burmese political activists and armed ethnic groups,
will continue to supply Lallah with information.

In New York, two special representatives of United Nations
Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali held a meeting on Oct 2
with Burmese Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw, after Slorc had refused
to receive them in Rangoon.

One well-informed source described the meeting as a "frank
exchange of views" between Ohn Gyaw and Alvaro de Soto, assistant
secretary-general for political affairs, and Francesc Vendrell,
director of the Political Affairs  Department. The discussion
centred on Boutros-Ghali's request for his special delegation to
visit Burma as mandated in the UN resolution on Burma, the source
said. The UN secretary-general will report details of the meeting
to the UN General Assembly on Oct 31, the source added. The
source said Slorc twice refused to let Boutros-Ghali's special
representative in the country and instead sent U Ohn Gyaw to New
York to meet UN officials.

Sources said if the trip is not going to take place, the United
Nations secretary general will have to report the truth and let
the United Nations General Assembly decide what measures to take.

They suspected Slorcs refusal to let any United Nations
delegations in the country is due to the junta's concern that the
UN officials will also meet popular opposition leader and Nobel
Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been the strongest critic 
of Slorc's repressive rule since her release from house arrest last year.

"It would be fair to draw the conclusion that the Slorc does not
want prominent persons to meet Aung San Suu Kyi," a source said.


October 10, 1996

Dear BurmaNet Readers:

The BurmaNet News would like to begin including websites with Burma 
info in our resource section which we post at the bottom of the BurmaNet 
News once or twice a week.  

We would appreciate it if you could send any useful website addresses along
with a brief description - a line or two will do.

Please send this info to strider@xxxxxxxxxxx

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BurmaNet Editor