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BurmaNet News November 2, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies" 

The BurmaNet News: November 2, 1996
Issue #557

Noted in Passing:

		Throughout Burma, the perception is widespread that the 
		benefits of recent growth have accrued disproportionately 
		to military officers and to a small commercial elite.
		 - US State Dept. Report (see SCMP: BURMA ON KNIFE EDGE)


October 31, 1996

Rangoon - The Burmese ruling junta's former liaison officer with Aung San
Suu Kyi has met the opposition leader after a lapse of almost one year,
reliable sources said yesterday.

Lt Col Than Tun met Suu Kyi at her home on Tuesday, the sources said, but
they provided no indication of the substance of the meeting.

Analysts saw Than Tun's return to the compound for the meeting as
significant , but said there is no indication that it signals substantive
talks between the military authorities and the opposition.

The authorities may have chosen to send back Than Tun, with whom Suu Kyi is
comfortable, as a gesture after she apparently accepted the junta's
suggestion that she stay off the streets last week to avoid fanning student
unrest, one analyst said.

Than Tun had served as the junta's liaison officer through the period when
Suu Kyi was released from six years of house arrest in July 1995 and into
the latter part of last year. Another man was then assigned to the post.

His contacts with the opposition leader were believed to have stopped around
November when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) pulled out of
the junta's constitutional conference and relations between the two sides
soured significantly.

Later on Tuesday, Suu Kyi met a dozen foreign diplomats and journalists at
her home and told them she would resume with the public sessions as soon as
feasible. She gave no time frame but maintained that she will continue to
address the public "as long as people come", one of those present said.

She also intends to speak to crowds outside that gate and "will not on
principle" let them enter the compound - implicitly claiming the right to
speak publicly rather that behind closed doors.

Authorities have barred access to the area for the past five weekends,
preventing her from addressing the crowds that  had gathered out side her
home every weekend since her release from house arrest.

Last week she allowed people who flocked to her home when barricades were
removed to enter the compound after police said they  would not be allowed
to loiter outside the gate.

Authorities took several steps this week to ease tensions, releasing senior
aide Kyi Maung and removing the last barricade outside the compound on
Monday and restoring her telephone line on Tuesday.

The ruling junta is scheduled to hold its monthly news conference tomorrow. 

Last week, students staged rare public demonstrations to demand action
against police officers who had allegedly beaten three students involved in
a brawl a weekend earlier.

Suu Kyi distanced herself and the NLD from the student demonstrations on

Reliable sources said on Tuesday that seven policemen, including their
commanding officer, had been sentenced to two years in prison for their
handling of the brawl and its aftermath.


October 29, 1996
by Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Indochina Information Center, Bangkok

[BurmaNet Editor's Note: The Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS)
was the second largest political party in Burma before the 1990 elections.
Most members were students.  Many DPNS members fled to the Thai-Burma
border and joined the ABSDF (All Burma Students Democratic Front).  
Moe Thee Zun, the head of DPNS when in Rangoon became one of the 
leading members of ABSDF.  Some DPNS members who fled did not join
ABSDF.  There is a DPNS camp in Karen state and an office in Northern
Thailand.  This article is based on a report from the Research Department
of the DPNS on the Thai-Burma border.]

Social and political organizations engaging in business is nothing new in
Southeast Asia, but even by the region's standards Myanmar's Union 
Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) is making the transition 
quite swiftly.

Established only three years ago under the patronage of Senior General
Than Shwe, chairman of the State Law and Order Resoration Council (SLORC)
which governs Myanmar, the USDA was intended to mobilize mass political
support for government and military policies.  

But according to a new report compiled by the Yangon-based Democractic
Party for a New Society (DPNS), Myanmar's second largest opposition party,
the USDA is currently invovled in at least five business ventures and is 
planning more.

The report was based on an investigation by DPNS' research team of the 
USDA's business activities in the country.

Myanmar officials said that although business is not one of USDA's primary
objectives, members of the organization were free to pursue commercial 
ventures.  Sources in Yangon confirmed that at the organization's congress 
held in September last year a decision was made to start a new company as 
well as a bank to help in its business pursuits.

Thai intelligence sources in Bangkok said the branching off into business 
activities was part of the USDA's attempts to build a strong economic base 
for itself and become financially self-sustaining.

"Like in Indonesia, military and political units in Myamar are now doing business
to raise funds for their activities," said the source.  

According to the DPNS report, five central executive committee members of the 
USDA sit on the board of directors of the newly-established Myan Gone Myint
Company which will handle a host of business enterprises already run by the
organization's various local branches.

In January last year for example, the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC)
transferred the Pin Lon Yadana market, a gem market, to the control of the USDA.
The market is comprised of 383 gem-selling booths worth 55.82 million kyat 
(US $328,000 at the unofficial rate), of which 150 have already been sold.  The USDA
is also said to be raising more than 800,000 kyat each month from booth rentals at
the market.

According to the report, in February last year the USDA made a profit of 235.81
million kyat through the purchase and resale of 11 gem booths at Yangon's 
Thein Kyi market and the entire market from the YCDC.

The USDA also has businesses at the state and division level in other parts of
Myanmar.  Under special privileges granted by the Ministry of Rail Transportation,
the USDA has enjoyed the right to use a freight carriage on the Mandalay-
Myitkyina route since March 1994 and runs transport services in 11 townships 
of Sagaing division and a few townships of Magwe division in western Myanmar.

In southern Myanmar's Tanintharyi division, the USDA controls custom clearance
services for fishery trawlers.  

USDA branches in the Mon state run a trading business importing tires for 
cars and bicycles which generate income of more than one million kyat per year.
The organization's branches in Mandalay and Taunggyi control trading and car
rental businesses.

A Bangkok-based analyst said that the USDA has played an increasingly political
role in Myanmar and could turn into a political power base for SLORC.  "When
the time for elections comes, it could be easily transformed into a powerful 
political party," he said.

The Indochina Information Center collects information for the Manager Media
Group, an Asia Times sister company


October 31, 1996
by BurmaNet Editor

Many Burmese compare the SLORC's Union Solidarity and Development 
Association (USDA) to the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) under
General Ne Win's reign.  When General Ne Win resigned in 1988, the BSPP
collapsed.  Like the USDA, most members of the BSPP did not join voluntarily.
Yet, the USDA could have more staying power because of the economic 
privileges its members receive.

What percentage of USDA members willingly joined the organizatoin is hard 
to ascertain.  In some areas, high school students are forced to join if they want 
to pass the matriculation exams.  Civil servants are not asked whether they want 
to join or not; instead, their names are automatically registered on USDA rosters.
Township and village level authorities are expected to register at least 1 USDA
member per household.

In late May and early June, 1996, the USDA organized protest rallies after the 
NLD party congress was held.  The SLORC detained almost all the NLD MPs 
who tried to attend, but 300 party members came in their stead.  The speakers at 
the mass rallies denounced "destructionist elements" in the country and the 
"neo-imperialists" supporting them.  

At least one member per household was ordered to attend these rallies, and in 
many areas, households were threatened with fines if they did not send someone.  
University rectors and other prominent people were commanded to read speeches
denouncing the pro-democracy forces and supporting the SLORC.  Many 
Burmese commented on how depressed they were to see intellectuals spouting
SLORC propaganda.  In fact, it was reported that the speakers were threatened 
with "dire consequences" for themselves or their families if they did not speak.

While the people attending the rallies may not have enjoyed them, the rallies 
reflected the power of the SLORC to organize large numbers of people to act 
against their wills.  This in itself is meant to scare the people into not rising up.

Nevertheless, what is most troubling about the USDA is the way it is being 
allowed to involve itself in business.  Besides the examples mentioned in the
article above, the USDA has a bus line to Taunggyi and in some areas, USDA
members are being given fertilizer at subsidized prices.  In one locale, the USDA
has been buying up rice before the harvest at very low prices and selling it 
later for a large profit.  As the USDA becomes more enmeshed in businesses 
which are closely tied to the SLORC, its members will be less likely to support 
a political change which might result in the loss of their economic opportunities.

The SLORC is using the same tactic with ethnic leaders.  Many appear to have 
been bought off with business deals and concessions for natural resources.  
Khun Tun Oo, the head of the Shan National League for Democracy, has been 
given a lucrative marble concession in Loikaw.  The leader of a 10 person SNLD 
delegation to the National Convention, he has refused to pull out even though 
many of his SNLD colleagues have urged him to do so.  Khun Sa and Lo Hsing 
Han are two other examples of leaders who fought the regime for years but now
maintain warm relations with SLORC officials.  Both have been granted numerous 
business interests in various parts of the country.  

Unfortunately, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) may be 
contributing to the USDA's legitimacy.   Earlier this year, the UNDP commissioned 
a socio-economic household survey in Mandalay and Rangoon.  This type of 
survey is usually carried out by trained civil servants in the Statistics Department.  
Yet in this instance, the UNDP agreed to let members of the USDA conduct the 
surveys, even though they had no experience.  USDA members were paid for their 
work and an article about their participation in the survey appeared in the New 
Light of Myanmar.  

The SLORC uses both sticks and carrots to maintain its hold on power.  Its relation 
to the USDA is a perfect example.  People are coerced into joining, but the greater
their participation the larger their potential economic payoff. 

As long as the SLORC has lucrative economic opportunities and material benefits 
to give away, it can count on a certain degree of support.  With growing foreign
investment and trade, the SLORC has a greater ability than Ne Win did to buy 
off its enemies.  But if the economy deteriorates and foreign investment tapers
off, the SLORC will have a much harder time maintaining control.  


October 22, 1996

[BurmaNet Editor's Note: Here is the version of events that the SLORC 
presented to radio listeners in Burma.  The students were not satisfied with
the account and staged demonstrations the next night.  The account implies
that it would have been ok to manhandle non-university students, but not 
university students.  In fact, the SLORC did not want to admit the policemens'
wrongdoing but at the same time, the SLORC fears demonstrations by 
university students.  University students have always been at the forefront
of movements against unjust regimes in Burma (starting in the colonial period).]

On the night of 20 October, at the highway car depot in Sawbwagyigon, Insein 
Township, three youths and some civilians were engaged in a food shop
brawl. City development employees and security personnel settled the matter and 
sent the three youths to the Insein Police Station. When the police station 
discovered that the three youths were Yangon [Rangoon] Institute of 
Technology [YIT] students they immediately contacted the YIT rector and 
released the students on the early morning of 21 October. 

While they were held at the Insein Police Station before their identities 
were known, responsible police officials had a misunderstanding in their 
relations with the students [ie. the students were beaten by the police - ed. note]. 

On 21 October night, some YIT students gathered at Insein Police Station, 
Sawbwagyigon highway car depot, and Hledan junction and demanded that 
authorities take action against the responsible policemen. 

Education Minister U Pan Aung, Deputy Education Minister Dr. Than 
Nyunt, the rector, and responsible teachers met with the students and 
diffused the situation. The students accepted the settlement and peacefully 
returned to their respective hostels. It is learnt that they are peacefully 
pursuing their studies. 


October 31, 1996 (Thailand Times)

Bangkok : The European Union (EU) sanctions against Burma passed on Monday,
which ban visa applications from members of the Burmese government, will not
affect Burma in a practical way a senior official at the Foreign Ministry
said yesterday.

"The EU's sanction will not work practically, however they will affect Burma
in psychological way," he said. 

He said the sanctions were designed to put pressure on Burma so that its
leadership would turn towards democracy, but no further action including
economic sanctions will be taken.

The ban on visas for government members and their families, as well as
senior officials of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration  Council
(SLORC), was not meant to affect ordinary Burmese people who do not often
enter the European countries, the source said.

British Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind said on Tuesday that any decision
involving economic sanctions should be made by the United Nations, not a
regional grouping like EU.

However, according to the source, there is no possibility of UN imposing
economic sanction on Burma.

Denmark proposed economic sanctions on Burma after its honorary consul's
death in a Burmese prison. James Leander Nichols was arrested on charges of
possessing two fax machines and a telephone switchboard. The arrest was
thought  to be due to his close friendship with the opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi.

However, the proposal were resisted by Britain, German and France.

Burmese Energy Minister Khin Maung Thein said on Tuesday that the EU's
sanctions will not affect foreign investment in Burma, particularly in
energy sector.

Thein said this sector of business drew large profits which made western
countries unlikely to withdraw.


October 27, 1996  
by William Barnes in Bangkok

    LAST week's student protests in Burma against police brutality, the first
demonstrations in six years, emphasize the anger of people living under the
repressive regime.

    The daily struggle to survive under Burma's junta has made people frustrated
and resentful.  Recent visitors to Rangoon said the city was crackling with the 

    Agents from military intelligence agents have been staking out tearooms and
other meeting places.  People, usually worried about being seen talking to
foreigners, have become extra careful.

    Although many observers focus on the need for political reform, the
worsening economic situation has others concerned.

    "Throughout Burma, the perception is widespread that the benefits of recent
growth have accrued disproportionately to military officers and to a small
commercial elite," said a US State Department report published two months ago.

    When students took to the streets in 1988 to protest against police
brutality, they received the support of an economically shattered population.
Then, as now, rising food prices were making it difficult for most families
to make ends meet.

    The year before the 1988 protests, the eccentric dictator Ne Win caused
immense hardship by canceling most denominations of paper money - wiping out
the meager savings of people who had survived three decades of his
disastrous "Burmese way to socialism". That triggered the first student riot
since 1976.

    If octogenarian Mr. Ne Win has withdrawn into the background, the State
Law and Order Restoration Council, as the now junta styles itself, is continuing
to make life difficult for all except a privileged elite.

    The junta's partial freeing of the economy and opening the door to foreign
investors since 1989 has fueled inflation but has not been accompanied by an
improvement in living standards.

    Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said people are worse off than they
were in 1988. "Many parents are so badly off they can't afford to take time off
work - so when the Army demands forced labor they send their children out."

    The State Department report says the Government's demands for "voluntary
labor" to build roads, dams and irrigation systems has increased by 20 times in
the past decade.

    "We are talking about a Gulag economy. People are whipped to work for the
benefit of a military elite," said an exile.

    Burmese living near tourist attractions have been forced to refurbish
monuments, paint their homes and repair roads in preparation for the much
delayed "Visit Myanmar Year".

    The regime spends so much on arms that the health and education budget has
declined in real terms in recent years.

    Corruption is rampant as civil servants on a fixed income fight to survive.

    Even in the rural areas, where farmers are generally allowed to grow what
they want, the junta's meddling is causing annoyance.

    One diplomat summed up the situation: "The junta prefers a silent population
to a happy one. Yet is also wants to grow out of its isolation - that is not a
recipe for long-term stability."


October 31, 1996 (South China Morning Post)
by William Barnes 

Military intelligence is now driving the policies that give political
repression a higher priority than Burma's international image, according to
opposition sources.

The decisions that produced two waves of arrests of political activists and
the decision to stop - possibly temporarily - opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi's important weekend speeches came from within the intelligence
organization, these sources say.

"Military intelligence people are all over the Foreign Ministry. They are
everywhere, making sure that no one's tempted to take a softer line with the
opposition," a political activist said.

Intelligence personnel, under the shadowy Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt,
have had great authority with the dictatorial junta for well over a decade.
If, as claimed, their power is rising then rapprochement with the opposition
may be even more unlikely than it appears at present.

For if the State Law and Order Restoration Council, as the junta styles
itself, lives by consensus decisions, the Directorate of Defense Services
Intelligence - as the organization is called - is even less likely to splinter.
Certainly, senior intelligence officers have confidently dominated
proceedings at the monthly press conferences for foreign and local
journalists that are now under way.

General Khin Nyunt, a protigi of the octogenarian dictator Ne Win who is
still thought to wield at least veto power in his retirement, has at various
times been thought estranged from the leaders of the fighting troops, who
are said to mistrust his 


October 31, 1996
SINGAPORE, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A leading opposition politician in  
Singapore demanded Thursday that the government respond to an Australian 
television program alleging links between Singapore companies and ``drug 
lords'' in Burma. 
The secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, Chee Soon  
Juan, asked the government to file an official protest to the Australian 
government for any false allegations made in the report. 
Chee said a segment of the Australian current affairs show  
``Dateline,'' aired by the government-funded Special Broadcasting 
Service Oct. 12, ``suggested that Singapore was linked with drug lord Lo 
Hsing Han in investments in Burma.'' 
The Australian Federal Police have called Lo ``one of the major drug  
producers and traffickers'' in Burma's northern Shan State, according to 
Dateline's executive producer Adrian Herring. 
The program reported Lo's company had ``business links'' with an  
investment company called the Myanmar Fund, and claimed the Government 
of Singapore Investment Corporation had previously owned shares in the 
same fund. 
Chee said he hoped the government would clear Singapore's name by  
refuting the program's accusations. 
``If the entire program is untrue, then the Australian TV station has  
cast a terrible slur on Singapore's integrity, and the scandalous and 
scurrilous aspersions cast must be refuted rigorously,'' Chee said in a 
written statement issued jointly with Jafar Ahmad, another opposition 
party leader. 
``If such is indeed the case, we call on the Singapore government to  
lodge an official protest against the Australian government and demand 
the TV station involved publicly apologize to our nation,'' the 
statement added. 
Dateline producer Herring said he believed the show's contents were  
accurate. ``We stand 100 percent by our story -- that is for sure,'' he 
said in a telephone interview Friday. 
The program is not broadcast in Singapore. Chee said he learned of  
the episode on drug trafficking after Singaporean acquaintances in 
Australia called and mailed him a videotaped copy of the show. 
The politician said he would give the tape to Singapore's Film  
Censorship Board, and hoped it would be approved for television 
broadcast in the tightly regulated island republic. 
Leaders of Singapore's ruling Peoples Action Party have repeatedly  
blasted Chee for making false accusations against the government and for 
siding with foreign media and human rights groups who criticize the 
island republic's authoritarian policies. 
Chee and three other members of the SDP currently face possible jail  
terms and fines for presenting inaccurate statistics on health care 
subsidies before Singapore's parliament earlier this year. 


October 27, 1996

Text of report by Burmese opposition radio broadcasting from Oslo

Dear Listeners: Regarding preparations by SLORC troops for offensives and 
their harassment in villages in Karen State, Pado Manh Sha La Pan, joint
secretary  of the Karen National Union [KNU], has said:

[Pado Manh Sha La Pan] Everyone knows that our country is not peaceful and
is unstable. This is because we are unable to resolve problems through
negotiations. The KNU has already held three meetings with the SLORC to try
and resolve the problems through negotiations. The SLORC side has not staged
a major operation [preceding two words in English] against us since last
December for this reason. SLORC troops, however, have always staged
offensives to maintain control over the area. Fighting has occurred between
the two sides during these offensives. The houses and property of the people
have been destroyed in the fighting. Moreover, people are being relocated
due to the fighting, especially in Thaton, Nyaunglebin and Toungoo Districts
and the Papun and Pa-an regions. People are now being relocated in Mergui
and Tavoy Districts as well.

The relocation of people stems from the fighting, and the people are
extremely badly affected by these relocations. The KNU side has reduced the
number of military actions against the SLORC considerably since we have been
holding talks. We are restraining ourselves as much as we can. The SLORC
side is staging offensives while we are restraining ourselves. This is why
it is very difficult for us to avoid military action against the SLORC troops.
A few days ago, the SLORC troops from the 257th [word indistinct] advanced
towards us. Naturally clashes occurred when the SLORC side advanced, so
there were many casualties among the people.

The people are finding it difficult to make a living. About two days ago,
three military columns of No 31 and No 32 Light Infantry Battalions advanced
in the Kya-in area. We have learned that the fighting is continuing. We
cannot avoid military action when the SLORC side continues to advance while
the sides are negotiating or while we are trying to resolve problems through
negotiation. Our side opposes military action completely. We must look
forward and try to resolve the problems of the people and the country
through negotiations. The KNU is working with this conviction. We believe
that all other political forces are also working with a similar conviction.
I think it is very unfortunate that such [word indistinct] actions are
taking place. That is why we think we must all try and work together to
resolve the country's problems through negotiations. For this country, if
the problems are not resolved through negotiations, then they will be
resolved through other means. We believe it would not be good for the
country if this happens. That is why the KNU believes that all of us must
act wisely and consider the country's interests and try to resolve problems
through negotiations. We will continue to strive for this.


October 29, 1996  (abridged)
Sanjeev Miglani, New Delhi

India's troubled northeast region is closer to Hanoi than New Delhi.  But
India, which has for years relied on brute force to hold on to its far eastern
areas, is now in the age of globalization seeking to turn distance into an

This past week New Delhi has virtually been camping in the violence-torn
seven states that make up the region bordering Myanmar, Bangladesh and 

Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, leading a 48-member entourage comprising
Cabinet colleagues as well as officials, on Sunday announced a US$1.8 billion 
package for sectors such as power, roads, railways and agriculture.

Although New Delhi has succeeded in installing elected governments in all
seven states, six different secessionist insurgencies are going on.

The seven states not only have more in common with immediate neighbors
such as Myanmar but can do far more business with it, as they can with 
Bangladesh, China and Southeast Asia than, say a distant Indian state such
as Uttar Pradesh.

"... it is time to build another gateway of India, possibly at Moreh on the 
India-Myanmar border, looking east," said B G Veghese, a northeast expert
and scholar at the Center for Policy Research who has been consulted extensively
by the government.

A series of changes in New Delhi, Yangon, and Dhaka in the past six months 
has offered a window of opportunity for the strife-torn "seven sisters" as the 
northeast states are called.

A coalition government in India comprising elements from the northeast has 
started to turn the focus on a region that has never entered the nation's 

Finally, India and Myanmar for the past year have been cooperating in 
tackling insurgencies on both sides of the border.

In the first phase, roads, railways and airports connecting the northeast
with Bangladesh and Myanmar will be built, leading eventually to Southeast


October 31, 1996 (Dutch daily newspaper - Translation BCN)
by Joop Holthausen

RANGOON - "Thee spirit is stronger than the gun. Whatever actions the military 
take: I will continue to strive for the restoration of democracy. The more 
difficult they make it, the harder we will fight to achieve our goal." 

Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, considered state-enemy 
number one by the Burmese junta, show not a trace of fear. Soldiers have put 
up barricades around her house. The 51-year old opposition leader is kept 
under close watch both day and night. But Suu Kyi cannot be broken by the 
intimidation, just as the six years of house-arrest did not.

The junta would love to throw Suu Kyi into one of the dungeons of the 
infamous Insein prison. But the woman who is gets much attention of the 
international community, can not just be put in shackles. She beams 
self-confidence and charisma when I speak with her for an interview.

The recent arrest of the vice-chairman of your party, U Kyi Maung, was the 
next in a long series. Apparently, the junta does everything it can to 
isolate you.

"As long as there are people in this country who are not behind bars, the 
places of those who are arrested will be taken by others. The result of the 
elections in 1990, that have not been respected by the military junta, 
proved that the people are on our side. U Kyi Maung has been arrested, 
because the military accused him of complicity with the recent 
student demonstrations. But neither our party, nor U Kyi Maung have anything 
to do with it. And because of that, the junta had to let him go free.

For the first since 1990 students have protested so massively against the 
regime. What are behind those demonstrations?

"Those demonstrations are a voice of dissatisfaction in the country. Our view 
has always been that differences of opinion have to be solved by 
negotiations, not by repression."

Is there a danger that the demonstrations will result in a bloodbath like in 
1988, when thousands of youth were shot by the military?

"Those in power, are responsible for the bloodbath. It is now a different 
situation than in 1988. Then there were no well-structured political parties 
in which people could struggle for their opinion. They  went onto the 
streets, because there was no alternative. That is why I find it very 
dangerous that the current rulers try to repress democratic parties such as 
the National League for Democracy (NLD)."

"We are an organization that can strike a bridge between the people and the 
authorities, because we do not encourage violence. If you stop democratic 
movements from growing, there is a danger that the people start an uprise. 
People should be able to voice their opinions, their feelings, their hope 
and their anger.

Suu Kyi: EU should take stronger measures

It was not easy to arrange the interview with Aung San Suu Kyi. I had given 
up all hope of being able to gain contact with her, when, barely two hours 
before I had to leave Rangoon, the telephone rang in my hotel room. She had 
been isolated from the rest of the world. Her telephone had been cut and on 
University Avenue grim soldiers were blocking everybody from coming within 
one kilometer of the house of 'the lady'.

Not one Burmese would try that without permission by the junta, because 
openly sympathizing with the opposition leader has gotten many a person into 

Being a foreigner the risk was within limits. Even so, the military considered
visiting the lady the same as meddling in internal affairs which can result 
in deportation. Until now not one visitor of Aung San Suu Kyi has been 
detained. I tested - several days before the telephone call - whether the 
military would leave me alone. But within ten meters after passing the 
barricade, a sergeant called out to me with a loud voice. "Stop sir!" he 
shouted and grabbed my coat. The house of Aung San Suu Kyi seemed as 
unreachable here in Rangoon as it did from Amsterdam.
The unexpected phone call brought change to the matter. The taxi-driver that 
raced me to University Avenue refused to stop in front of her house. "That 
is too dangerous. I might be arrested," he excused himself.
At the gate I was waited upon by a assistant and I had to register myself 
with the military on surveillance, as has everybody who visits her. The lady 
received me in a neat room, dominated by a painted portrait of her father, 
Aung San, who even by the military is considered to be the father of the 
country. Are Burma's problems political or economical? I asked her. Suu Kyi: 
"To my firm opinion it is a mistake to separate those two things. Politics 
and economy cannot be separated. The economical problems come forth from 
political ignorance. Without democratic freedom you can not build a healthy 
economy. The present political system has resulted in a devastated economy. 
In many aspects it is worse now than it was eight years ago, when these 
generals took over from their predecessors. In 1988 there was a lot of 
despair, but then everybody in the country was poor. Now there is a small 
group of privileged that consist of the military rulers and their friends. 
That group bathes in luxury, whereas the rest of the population withers away 
in deep misery."

In 1989 you came from Great Britain to take care of your sick mother. But, 
being the daughter of Aung San Suu Kyi, you were quickly seen as a symbol 
for a democratic future. You chose for your people. But the price you had to 
pay is high. You have lived separated from your husband and twos sons.

"I am not the only in this country who lives separated from their family. 
And even if I long for my relatives, there are people who have more reasons 
to complain than I have. Those who are in prison are worried about the safety 
of there families. That is not the case with me. My husband and children 
live in a democratic state.

In the state controlled press that constantly ridicules you, you are no 
longer addressed as Aung San Suu Kyi, but as Mrs. Michael Aris.

"They can try and put a foreign label on me because I am married to a 
Briton. I am not disturbed by that. For the majority of Burmese it is 
unimportant how the state-media address me.
The junta has never frightened you, in spite of all threats and pestering.

"Fear is a bad advisor. It does not solve anything. Fear only complicates 
life. I take it as it comes."
You strive, as did political leaders like Gandhi in India and Mandela in South 
Africa, for a peaceful solution. But you have been working on that already 
for eight years and there seems to be little perspective.

"Eight years is not such a long time if you consider the development of a 
country. It took half a century for the countries in the Eastern block to be
liberated from communism. But for a human, eight years is a long time. That 
is why we should try our best to bring about the democratization process."

There are many critics who say that non-governmental organizations and 
international organizations such as the UN are giving legitimacy to SLORC by 
being here. What do you think?

"We are not opposed to the presence of those organizations. But we do not 
want them to be abused by the authorities. NGOs and UN-organisations should 
operate so that not only those who are favored by the regime can profit 
from their efforts, but everybody who needs help. As far as I can see, the 
authorities are involved so much with the work of those organizations and the 
way the projects are carried out that they serve their purposes. I believe 
they should work with our party, because we represent the will of the people."

The European Union has this week decided to ban members of the junta and 
their families from entering the EU. Is that enough?

"I welcome every measure. But if they really want to help, stronger measures 
must be taken against the regime, so that real pressure is put on them."


October 30, 1996

The November/December 1996 Utne Reader contains 3 articles on Burma:

1. an updated version of John Pilger's article "Slave Nation" from the June
New Internationalist. 
2. one of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Letters from Burma. The letter describes the 
SLORC's crackdown on an NLD New Year's ceremony in April, 1996.
3. an article from the Kyoto Journal on the "haiku attack" on Mitsubishi in

These articles would be good to copy and distribute to people as an
introduction to Burma. Utne Reader is well respected in politically
progressive circles in the US and Canada.

If you cannot find a copy of the issue on the newsstands, call Utne Reader
at (612) 338-5040 or email info@xxxxxxxx

In December, Utne Reader will host an on-line discussion of Burma in Cafe
Utne at www.utne.com/cafe.  I'm sure you obtain details of that from the
Utne website.