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Burma: Situation update
- Subject: Burma: Situation update
- From: dvb@xxxxx
- Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 04:23:00
25Oct96 BELGIUM: EU TO TIGHTEN HUMAN-RIGHTS PRESSURE ON BURMA. 09:57 GMT
BRUSSELS, Oct 25 (Reuter) - The European Union will increase pressure on
Burma over human rights on Monday, suspending all high-level meetings and
refusing visas to members of Burma's ruling Council, EU diplomats said on
The decision is expected at a meeting for EU foreign ministers in
Luxembourg. Burma's military government has caused international protest by
detaining a top official in Nobel Peace laureate's Aung San Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Actions due to be agreed by the ministers without discussion include banning
entry visas for members of the governing State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC) and their families.
The EU would also block visas for top members of the military or security
forces viewed as impeding democracy in the Southeast Asian nation.
It would suspend all ministerial and other senior bilateral meetings between
EU and Burma officials.
The EU would renew for six months its existing sanctions against Burma,
which include a suspension of non-humanitarian aid or development programmes.
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTER NEWS SERVICE
25Oct96 BURMA: BURMA SAYS SUU KYI NOT RESTRICTED, AIDE STILL HELD. 06:47 GMT
RANGOON, Oct 25 (Reuter) - Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is free
to leave her house although earlier this week she was urged to stay inside
to avoid meeting student protesters, a senior government official said on
Diplomats had quoted senior National League for Democracy (NLD) party
official Tin Oo as saying this week that Suu Kyi, who was released from six
years of house arrest in July last year, had been confined to her compound.
But the government official told Reuters: "People in charge of security, our
people and those from the NLD, suggested to her it was not safe for her to
go out because kids were having a sit-in protest at a junction nearby.
"She understood and she complied. But there are no restrictions on her at
all," he added.
Suu Kyi could not be reached for comment as a road leading to her house has
been blocked with barricades manned by security police and her telephone
line has apparently been cut.
The official also said Kyi Maung, NLD deputy chairman and close aide to the
Nobel Peace laureate, was still being held for questioning on Friday by the
military government for his role in the protest staged this week.
Up to 1,000 university students held a rare sit-in protest early on
Wednesday at an intersection about two km (1.2 miles) from Suu Kyi's residence.
Kyi Maung was detained for questioning on Wednesday for his role in the
protests after he was seen speaking to two students before the demonstration.
The official said Kyi Maung had been detained at a government guest house.
He did not say when Kyi Maung would be released.
"He is not in prison," the official said.
The students staged the demonstration to protest against the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council's (SLORC) and its handling of a recent
scuffle involving students at a food stall.
The United States, Britain and human rights organisation Amnesty
International have called for the immediate release of Kyi Maung, who was in
Rangoon's infamous Insein Prison from 1990 to 1995 for his role in democracy
movement activities in Burma.
Diplomats said they expected Kyi Maung's detention would be temporary and
was a sign the SLORC was nervous about any unrest in Rangoon.
The SLORC has accused the NLD, and Kyi Maung specifically, of colluding with
some students involved in the protest.
The students say the demonstration was apolitical, and held to protest the
violent way the three students were treated by the police before eventually
being freed, and the inaccurate way the scuffle was reported in state-run media.
A similar scuffle at a tea shop in 1988 sparked nationwide outrage against
the military government, leading to pro-democracy street demonstrations that
left thousands dead or in jail.
Barricades blocking access to the road leading to Suu Kyi's home have been
up for most of the past month in a government effort to stop Suu Kyi from
holding NLD meetings or giving her regular weekend speeches to supporters
from her front gates.
The NLD won a landslide victory in a 1990 general election, but the results
were never recognised by the SLORC.
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTER NEWS SERVICE
24Oct96 UK: BRITAIN SAYS SUU KYI AIDE MUST BE FREED IN BURMA. 13:22 GMT
LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuter) - Britain said on Thursday Burma should immediately
release a senior official in Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy movement who has
been held for questioning by the country's ruling junta.
A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain was deeply concerned about the
detention of Kyi Maung, deputy chairman of the National League for Democracy
(NLD) party and a close adviser to the Nobel Peace laureate.
Kyi Maung, 75, was picked up on Wednesday.
The foreign office spokesman said the British government urged Burma's
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to release him
"immediately and unconditionally".
The United States and Amnesty International have already called for the
immediate release of Kyi Maung, 75, who was in Rangoon's infamous Insein
Prison from 1990 to 1995 for his role in democracy movement activities in Burma.
SLORC accused Kyi Maung of colluding with students involved in a protest on
Wednesday. It said he was helping politicise a scuffle and trying to create
unrest by staging a protest.
But Amnesty, the London-based human rights group, said Kyi Maung had done
nothing more than call for peaceful change.
In 1988, a scuffle between students and shop owners in a teashop sparked
nationwide outrage against the previous military government, leading to
pro-democracy street demonstrations that left thousands dead or in jail.
SLORC seized power after the 1988 protests.
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTER NEWS SERVICE
24Oct96 FRANCE: FRANCE URGES BURMA TO FREE AIDE, CITES EU ACTION. 12:27 GMT
PARIS, Oct 24 (Reuter) - France urged Burma's military rulers on Thursday to
free immediately a detained top official in Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy
party, saying the European Union was studying possible measures.
Burma says Kyi Maung, deputy chairman of the National League for Democracy
(NLD) party, is still being held for questioning for his involvement in a
"France has repeatedly called for a true dialogue between parties to
facilitate national reconciliation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques
Rummelhardt told reporters.
"We hope for the immediate release of Kyi Maung, vice-president of the NLD,
as of all those jailed for their opinions. The European Union is studying
measures which might be taken as far as the situation in Burma is
concerned," he said.
Kyi Maung was picked up on Wednesday for his involvement in a student
protest this week, a senior government official said on Thursday. His
whereabouts were not known.
The United States and Amnesty International have called for the immediate
release of Kyi Maung, who was in Rangoon's infamous Insein Prison from 1990
to 1995 for his role in campaigning for democracy in Burma.
Rummelhardt was asked about a report by an international human rights group
which accused French oil and gas company Total on Wednesday of supporting
Burma's military junta and said its construction of a pipeline there had
caused an increase in rights violations.
"Total is part of a consortium in the Yadana pipeline project, it has a 31
percent stake in it. Other oil companies are involved in this project,
including the American Unocal with a 28 percent stake," he answered.
The International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) said in a report that
Total, the single largest stakeholder in the pipeline project in southeast
Burma, had "knowingly closed its eyes to massive, systematic and violations
of human rights and thus made itself an accomplice".
Total has denied the allegations.
The report echoed others issued by the United Nations special rapporteur on
human rights and such groups as Amnesty International, which have denounced
widespread violations under Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTER NEWS SERVICE
25Oct96 AUSTRALIA: GOVERNMENT PRESSED TO TAKE HARD LINE ON BURMA.
By Michael Dwyer.
The Federal Government is facing strong pressure from the corporate sector
to toughen its stance against Burma's military dictatorship.
The ACTU yesterday released a list of 17 prominent Australian companies
which have decided not to do business in Burma.
The companies which have placed Burma on their blacklist include BHP,
Telstra, Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd, Transfield International Pty Ltd,
Placer Pacific and Ashton Mining.
The announcement that 17 Australian companies have refused to do business
with Rangoon comes amidst growing international concerns about a crackdown
on pro-democracy leaders by Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration
The vice-chairman of Burma's National League for Democracy (NLD), U Kyi
Maung, was arrested by SLORC troops early on Wednesday morning. U Kyi Maung
is a key adviser to NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.
The United States has protested against the arrest of U Kyi Maung, with
State Department officials describing it as an "escalation" of SLORC repression.
Washington has stepped up its campaign against the regime in Burma, placing
a ban on travel to the US by SLORC leaders.
A number of large multinational companies - Levi Strauss, Reebok, Apple,
Carlsberg and Heineken - have signalled their intention to pull out of Burma.
Australian companies are beginning to do the same. ACTU assistant secretary
Mr Bill Mansfield said this showed Australian firms could make decisions
that took human rights into account.
"Human rights organisations around the world have evidence of forced labour
in Burma," Mr Mansfield said.
"It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the use of forced labour
represents the central feature of the regime's infrastructure development
policy," he said.
ASEAN countries agreed to a constructive engagement with Burma at their
ministerial conference of 1994, prompting Australia to outline a "benchmark"
approach to its own relationship with the military regime.
Under this approach, Australia has signalled it would be prepared to accept
Burma's re-entry into international forums if SLORC can show progress on
human rights and democratisation.
But there are signs that Australia's bipartisan approach to this "benchmark"
policy may be crumbling, with Labor calling for a tougher stance against Burma.
The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) called on the Government
yesterday to protest against the arrest of U Kyi Maung.
"The Australian Government should respond strongly to this increased
persecution of democracy politicians," said its executive director, Ms Janet
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW 25/10/96 P15
25Oct96 BURMA: AUSTRALIAN UNION URGES BUSINESSES NOT TO DEAL WITH
Source: Radio Australia external service, Melbourne, in English 0900 gmt 24
Excerpt from report by Radio Australia
Australia's peak union group is urging Australian companies to sever all
business ties with Burma. The Australian Council of Trade Unions [ACTU] says
it has compiled a list of 17 prominent companies, including [industrial and
mining conglomerate] BHP and telecommunications company Telstra, which have
refused to do business with Burma. Union [ACTU] assistant secretary, Bill
Mansfield, says this shows Australian business can make responsible
decisions which take human rights into account, but, he says, other
companies need to recognize that the Burmese government is the most
repressive and undemocratic in our region...
(c) BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts.
BBC MONITORING SERVICE
BBC MONITORING SERVICE: ASIA-PACIFIC 25/10/96
25Oct96 EU: EP/BURMA - EP CALLS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST SLORC.
24/10/1996 (Agence Europe) - The EP has called for sanctions against Slorc
and given its support to the Anase countries (EUROPE will return).
Not Available for Re-dissemination.
(c) Agence EUROPE, Brussels 1996.
AGENCE EUROPE 25/10/96
25Oct96 BURMA: INTERNATIONAL - SUU KYI `BEING KEPT INSIDE HER HOME'.
By Richard Savill South East Asia Correspondent.
THERE was confusion in Burma last night over the status of the pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, after reports that she was being prevented from
leaving her home in Rangoon.
Representatives of her National League for Democracy Party reported that she
had not been able to leave her compound, raising fears that she may be under
de facto house arrest.
However, the military government took the unusual step of issuing a prompt
denial and Western diplomats said they would be surprised if such action had
been taken against her.
The ruling junta has so far refrained from re-arresting Miss Suu Kyi, who
was freed from six years of house detention 15 months ago.
One Western diplomat said last night: "They have always been very careful
not to take any direct action against her because they know it would cause a
negative international reaction."
A senior military officer said that, although Miss Suu Kyi apparently had
not left her home for several days, the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council had not restricted her movements.
She might, he said, have been advised on Tuesday night by a police guard
permanently stationed at her home not to join a student protest. In fact she
had made no attempt to leave.
(c) Telegraph Group Limited, London, 1996.
DAILY TELEGRAPH 25/10/96 P21
24Oct96 BURMA: RANGOON REGIME MAY HAVE BLUNDERED.
By MARK BAKER Mark Baker is the Herald's South-East Asia correspondent.
Burma's latest moves against Aung San Suu Kyi have divided the country's
THE old house by Rangoon's Inya Lake is a prison once more. Troops and
police have sealed off the area, the crowds who gathered at the gates every
weekend are now forbidden to approach, and the creaking phone that was a
tenuous lifeline to the world has been silent for weeks.
While her spirit seems as strong as ever and her determination undiminished,
Aung San Suu Kyi is back where she was a year ago and for the six long years
before that: a captive of Burma's brutal and uncompromising military regime.
Though ostensibly free, the Nobel peace laureate can no longer speak beyond
the gates of her house, the best and brightest members of her National
League for Democracy (NLD) are in jail, and those supporters who have not
been detained face unprecedented harassment and intimidation if they speak out.
Outwardly, the latest and most relentless political crackdown in Rangoon has
left Aung San Suu Kyi more isolated than ever and the prospects of peace and
political reconciliation more remote than ever. But there are signs that the
State Law and Order Council (SLORC) may in fact have made a tactical blunder
that could yet shake its house of cards.
For the first time, serious cracks are emerging in the network of regional
diplomatic support that has sustained and emboldened the regime in its
defiance of the West and its refusal to compromise with the democracy movement.
Before the SLORC moved late last month to thwart plans for an NLD
convention, the regime was on track to achieve its greatest diplomatic
ambition: full membership of the Association of South-East Nations.
Despite the objections of Western governments, ASEAN admitted Burma as an
observer at its foreign ministers' meeting in Jakarta in late July and as a
member of the broader regional forum on security issues. A subsequent
application to fast-track full ASEAN membership by next year, when Cambodia
and Laos will also join the premier regional grouping, was being favourably
Not any more. The latest repression in Burma has provoked a serious rift
between the ASEAN states that appears likely to derail the controversial
policy of "constructive engagement" under which ASEAN has sought to
encourage reform in Burma by maintaining full commercial and political
contacts, and resisted Western pressure for sanctions.
The Philippines and Thailand have now indicated that they believe Burma
should be made to wait. Singapore, previously a strong defender of the
Burmese military, is also leaning towards a tougher regional response to the
At the weekend that prediction took a step closer to reality. A meeting of
senior ASEAN government officials in Kuala Lumpur, while making no reference
to the crackdown in Rangoon, decided Burma's bid for full membership would
have to follow normal "technical" processes - in effect, deferring
membership until at least 1998.
While Malaysia and Indonesia have continued to argue that ASEAN should not
interfere in Burma's internal affairs, ASEAN's policy of consensus
decision-making seems certain to produce a formal vote to delay Burmese
membership when ASEAN heads of government debate the issue at their November
summit in Jakarta.
The hardening of ASEAN's position coincides with growing indications that
the West, which has been strong on rhetoric and short on action in its own
responses to the deteriorating situation in Burma, may at last be preparing
to get tough.
The US, which has responded to the latest crackdown by banning SLORC leaders
and their families from visiting the US, is expected to adopt tougher
measures once the presidential elections are over. The US has long
threatened trade sanctions, but the Congress recently adopted legislation
that would bar US companies from making new investments in Burma.
While democracy seems as far away as ever on the streets of Rangoon, there
are at least signs that the courageous defiance of Aung San Suu Kyi and her
embattled followers may be starting to turn the tide against the generals.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 24/10/96 P15
Democratic Voice of Burma(DVB)
P.O Box 6720
0130 Oslo, Norway
Tel: 47-22-200021, Tel/fax:47-22-362525.
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