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BurmaNet News November 14, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies" 

The BurmaNet News: November 14, 1996
Issue #569

Noted in Passing:
                        I'd like America to come in here and get rid of this
government.- teashop owner in Mandalay

November 12, 1996

RANGOON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Burma's military government warned Tuesday 
that a mob attack last weekend on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi 
may be repeated unless she tones down her criticism of the ruling junta.

In its first public account of the attack on Suu Kyi's motorcade on 
Saturday, a commentary in the government-run New Light of Myanmar 
newspaper said stones and clubs were used to smash the windows of cars
occupied by she and her aides.

``Suu Kyi will get into trouble if she thinks that every group she sees 
is her supporter,'' the government commentary said.
``Upon reaching the stage of being hit by stones openly, she will have to
exercise restraint.''

On Monday, Suu Kyi filed a criminal complaint at the Bahan Township Police
Station in northern Rangoon, citing violation of sections 336 and 427 
of Burma's criminal code that prohibit attacks endangering lives
and damaging private property.

But she acknowledged that the authorities were unlikely to act on the 
complaint because the attack was planned by the ruling military junta.

The mob had gathered in an area where civilians were not allowed and
included men with walkie-talkies.

Suu Kyi was not hurt in the attack, which she blamed on ``paid thugs run 
by fascists''of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). 
Afterward, police made no move to arrest the attackers.

Officials of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy said the attackers
were paid 500 kyats (US $3.12) each and later bused back to their homes 
on Rangoon's outskirts.

``As Suu Kyi is becoming more and more apparent as the one trying to
destroy all prospects for stability of the state with her fangs,'' the 
government commentary continued, ``it is rather difficult to definitely
indicate what sort of people do not want her.''

A senior European diplomat in the Burmese capital said Tuesday the attack
appeared to be aimed at demonstrating popular opposition to Suu Kyi, who 
won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 and enjoys wide spread support within 

``It was a very confrontational action,'' he said. ``I very strongly
denounce this action which could not take place without the
approval of the SLORC.''

The government's hardening stance toward its opponents was evident Monday
in a speech by military chief Gen. Than Shwe to a government- affiliated 
social organization.

In a thinly veiled attack on Suu Kyi and her supporters, the general called
for the ``elimination of destructive elements who wish to totally hand over 
the country's sovereignty into the hands of others,''according to a report 
in the government-run newspaper.

``We are trying to establish a disciplined democracy that is suited to
Burma, and if we give priority to such superficial things as human rights 
that allow unbridled freedom of action, the country will be ruined,''
Than told the Union Solidary and Development Association.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement denouncing the weekend attack
and urged the SLORC ``to punish those responsible for the attack. ''

The European envoy in diplomat said he expected the European Union to issue a
similarly strong denunciation of the attack soon.

``We are exactly in the same line (with the U.S.),'' he said. ``Tension is
rising every day. We wonder what will be the point of no return.''


November 12, 1996 (abridged)

RANGOON, BURMA -- Burma's military government may be preparing to clamp
down further on the country's beleaguered pro-democracy movement.
Observers in Burma say that the recent arrest of Kyi Maung, vice chairman
of the National League for Democracy (NLD), is the latest signal from the 
regime that it has no intention of ending its campaign of harassment and 
intimidation against the opposition.

The government, known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC),
continues to play a series of cat-and-mouse games with NLD leader and Nobel 
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. In the last few weeks, SLORC has 
prevented her from delivering her traditional weekend speeches to supporters
her compound gate, by putting up barricades. But during the week, the
come down. Her telephone also has been recently reconnected.

A series of attacks on Ms. Suu Kyi and two of her top lieutenants this weekend,
observers say, indicate that the SLORC intends to keep up its harassment. 

Members of Rangoon's diplomatic community are putting a different spin
on the affair. ``It's worrisome,'' says a diplomat,noting that the 
arrest was the first time that SLORC has detained a members of the
party's top echelon since the release of Suu Kyi in July 1995 after 
six years of house arrest. ``It means that the leadership is no longer 

The move was the latest in a series of recent measures against the NLD,
which has seen its ranks decimated by arrests and resignations since 
Burmese generals annulled the results of 1990 elections that the
pro-democracy camp overwhelmingly won.
More than 250 members were arrested prior to an NLD party convention in
May, and between 500 and 800 members were detained when the party attempted 
to hold another congress Sept. 27-29.

`What SLORC has done (recently) is to draw a new line in the sand,'' says 
the diplomat. In essence, Burma's generals have decided to enforce Law No. 
5/96 issued after the May NLD congress. Among other things, it prohibits 
speeches or statements that ``undermine the stability of the State....'' 
Persons who violate the law can be thrown into jail for up to 20
years, while organizations can be banned and have their funds and property

With Maung's detention, observers worry that all of these options might now be
exercised against the NLD. What is considered unlikely, however, is the 
rearrest of Suu Kyi, who remains the opposition's most potent symbol of 
defiance. ``They want to mute her; they don't want to make a martyr of 
her again,'' notes another diplomat in Rangoon.

Burma's diplomatic community has also been feeling the heat from the
crackdown. Since Suu Kyi's release from house arrest, the envoys - 
almost exclusively from Western countries - have tried to keep in touch
with her and her colleagues. It is ``just part of the normal monitoring 
of Burma we undertake for our government,''insists one diplomat.

``Maintaining legitimate contact with the government and legal opposition
is one of the functions guaranteed to diplomats'' under international law, 
says another.

Burma's military rulers see it differently. Over the past few months, SLORC has
stepped up its campaign against what it describes in its official newspaper
as ``external destructive elements''and their``ax handle'' accomplices.

Some of the most caustic remarks and accusations have been reserved for the
United States. The former US Charge d'Affaires in Rangoon, Marilyn Meyers,
who resigned from her post on Oct. 4, was said by the state media to ``have kept
visiting her companion woman (Suu Kyi) who was good at gossiping in English 
and whiling away the time gossiping, as is the nature of women.''

Awaiting an American invasion

There is little sign that xenophobic warnings of an impending neocolonial
invasion are registering with a public that is still sympathetic to the 
pro-democracy cause. In fact, they may be having the opposite effect.

During the Gulf war, notes one diplomat, Burmese asked when the US was
planning to invade Burma after finishing with Iraq's dictator. The idea
still resonates with some. ``I like America,'' declares a tea shop owner in
``I'd like America to come in here and get rid of this government.''


November 13, 1996  (abridged)

RANGOON - Burma's prime minister and top general Than Shwe has urged Burmese
people to crush "destructive elements" inside and outside the country who
Are trying to disrupt peace, official media reported yesterday.

Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council
(Slorc), made the comments to leaders of the Union Solidarity and
Development Association (USDA).

"It is the duty of the entire people including USDA members to resolutely
crush destructive elements inside and outside the country as the common
enemy who are disrupting all the development endeavours with the sole aim of
gaining power," the papers quoted Than Shwe saying in a speech too USDA

Than Shwe 's comments appeared aimed at opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. It is unclear what the
main function of the government-run USDA is, although it is one of the
largest organisations in the country. Than Shwe said it has about five
million members.

Diplomats and opposition leaders believe the USDA was behind weekend attacks
on Suu Kyi's motorcade, when cars in the convoy were attacked by a group of
stick-wielding, stone-throwing young men.

USDA members have also been used to attend mass public rallies against Suu
Kyi and the democracy movement over the past year, diplomats said. One diplomat 
said he was told by some of the young men they came from
neighbouring townships and had been paid and trucked in by the government to
cause unrest.


November 13, 1996  (abridged)

RANGOON - Foreign diplomats and witnesses said that the attack on Burmese
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade last weekend was a renewed 
attempt to discourage Rangoon residents from demonstrating open support for

"It has sent the message throughout Rangoon: Don't even dream of gathering
or making critical speeches again," said one Western diplomat, referring to
Saturday's attack in which around 200 pro-government youths rocked Suu Kyi's
car, hit it with iron bars and smashed its rear window.

Witnesses said the attackers entered the area in military trucks and silently
waited for instructions in separate places. Some of them did not even bother
to hide the protruding weapons from small Shan-style shoulder bags or longji

Another diplomat said that the youths were organised from townships in
Rangoon. "I heard each was paid a mere 500 kyat (Bt78)," he said

In a country where the average monthly income of a clerk is between 2,000
and 2,500 kyat, the amount is considered to be quiet handsome.

Police officers also ordered two Canadian and two Dutch tourists who were
walking near the area to move away at around 4 p.m. on Saturday, telling
them the area was blocked.

Canadian backpacker Cary Durrant said that he become suspicious because the
people in the area were all young men, unlike at most of Suu Kyi's
gatherings, where women and children are also present.


November 13, 1996

RANGOON - Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi questioned whether the
Burmese military junta is technically prepared to become a member of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

How could a government not accountable to its people be considered prepared
to become a member?" Suu Kyi said in an interview yesterday. She questioned
whether other Asean governments would disgrace themselves by sitting with
the Burmese regime.

"I don't think they want to be seen as similar to the Slorc (State Law and
Order Restoration Council)," she added, referring to the regime's actions
against her demand for greater democracy in Burma which she has continued to
press since her release in 1995 from six years' house detention.

The Asean secretary-general, Ajit Singh, said last week that the Burmese
government is "fairly advanced" in its preparations to join the grouping. An
example of this, he said, is the number of Burmese officials able to speak
and write in English, the official language of Asean.

Singh pointed out that Burma is already a member of the World Trade
Organisation and can meet the financial obligations required for membership
in Asean.

Indonesian Ambassador to Burma Poerwanto Lenggno said in a separate
interview yesterday that the judgment is fair enough and will probably be
discussed in informal summit of Asean leaders in Jakarta on Nov 30.

"Frankly speaking, Myanmar is more prepared to become an Asean member than
Cambodia. They are even more prepared than Vietnam," Poerwanto said. Myanmar
is the name given to Burma by the ruling junta.

However, technical problems should not be given more weight than important
political considerations, he added.

Asean, comprised of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam, is processing membership applications from Burma,
Cambodia, and Laos. The three have already received "observer status" - a
category assigned to a country before it becomes a full member.

Full membership status will be finalised next July when all Asean foreign
ministers meet in Kuala Lumpur. The Philippines and Thailand have opposed
automatic acceptance of Slorc into the grouping, but Malaysia and Indonesia
are eager to bring Burma into the fold.

The Burmese opposition has also asked US President Bill Clinton, scheduled
to meet Asean leaders at the Nov 25 meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation in Manila, to convince those leaders to put more pressure on Slorc.

Suu Kyi also questioned the technical considerations for Slorc to join
Asean, saying it is normal for Burmese people to have some English ability,
as the country used to be a British colony.

"English is widely spoken here, while in Vietnam they are just beginning to
learn English. It does not mean that Vietnam is not technically unacceptable
as an Asean member," the Nobel laureate said. She added that the financial
contribution is likely to burden the Burmese people if the country is
accepted as a full member. "The social gap in Burma is so wide. Only a
'point something' of the people her live a normal, standard life," she said.

Asean membership for Burma will only benefit Slorc, not the Burmese people,
she insisted.

According to Suu Kyi, Slorc is eager to join the grouping because it needs
support from neighbouring countries to face growing international
condemnation. (TN)


November 6, 1996

"Part 2" of Article by staff member of `MYET KHIN THIT'
: "We Do Not Want You To Act Unthinkingly as Others Do"

[Transcribed Excerpt] The Denmark problem that
had been stated earlier can be called the democracy problem
that should be considered the most, regarding the matter of
democracy which is being heard loudest in the world today.
There were outcries that the entire public did not like
Maastricht Treaty, that they could not allow the governance
of bureaucrats from EC or WEU or European Union Commission-
based in Brussels, Belgium, that Denmark's sovereignty would
be put into the garbage can and that the so-called chairman of
European Commission was the harbinger of death for 
Europe. Upon these protests, Denmark voiced a plan to
arrange for another referendum to ensure the majority
consensus. [passage omitted] 
The EEC in close cooperation with the US has been
interfering in the internal affairs of world nations for
quite some time. It has been making objections about this
country or that country; it should be noted that it is
having to act as dictated by the US, as it is doing
everything the US does. 
The US, which showed off its footwork with passes and
dodges, believing Mrs Michael Aris' [Aung San Suu Kyi]
words, has now come to realize it has committed man-out
[offside] with its decisions on Myanmar [Burma]. Not
realizing it, the EU has come up again. 
It has become necessary to ask a question to the EU.
Let alone the question whether they can enjoy human rights
or right to shape their own destiny in full in Europe; the
question I would like to ask is whether they can go ahead
freely even in growing crops for themselves. 
Whether in matters of democracy or human rights or
whatever, it should be borne at heart that one should not
act unthinkingly as others do. 


November 11, 1996
Helping refugees Cooperation procedure - second reading. 314
votes required for amendments to be adopted. (A4-344/96 -

    Monday, 11 November - Illustrating the need for further changes to a
Council common position on EU rules governing refugees, Richard Howitt
(Essex South, PES) related the story of a poor Burmese mother forced to
return to Burma with a sick child who later died. Such forced repatriations
especially where there is fear of violence should not be made he said. He
emphasised the need to help vulnerable groups such as women and the
disabled, a point later endorsed Wilfried Telkamper (D, Greens). And yet he
said the EU had shown that it could provide vital assistance in rebuilding
villages as had happened in Laos. But he complained about the unnecessary
bureaucratic procedures introduced by Council to the decision making
structure which he said would not only cost ECU 153,000 but result in
unnecessary delays and create 70,000 pieces of paper every year.

    His views were supported by other speakers such as Jose Manuel Torres
Couto (P, PES) and Bernard Kouchner (F, PES) who took up the cases of those
trapped in Zaire.

    A dissenting voice however came from Frank Vanhecke (B, Ind) who
expressed the view that European countries could not be expected to act as
hosts for people from an alien culture.

    Replying for the Commission Christos Papoutis emphasised the need for
providing help for resettlement programmes and training in health and basic
social and educational services. He was prepared to accept numerous
amendments including those designed to guarantee freedom from discrimination
and to outlaw forced repatriations. He could not however agree to another
amendment fixing at 3% the maximum to be spent on studies. Neither did he
wish to involve any further the European Parliament and NGOs in the decision
making process.

Vote on Tuesday at midday.