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BurmaNet News: November 26, 1996
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 26, 1996
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 03:02:00
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: November 26, 1996
DASSK: LETTER FROM BURMA #50
ASIAN AGE: GOLDEN TRIANGLE FULL OF DRUGS
FEER: BOMBED OUT BURMA
STATEMENT: NEW BURMA COALITION PREPARES LAUNCH IN JAPAN
STATEMENT: PEN CANADA TRIBUTE TO BURMESE WRITER
NLM: YADANA GAS FIELD
ANNOUNCEMENT: TEENS TO PROTEST THE WIZ - MITSUBISHI
STATEMENT: AGAINST VISIT MYANMAR YEAR 1996
NLM: SLORC `SINCERITY' INTERPRETED NEGATIVELY
NLM: VOA, BBC `BIASED' SUPPORT FOR SUU KYI
DASSK: LETTER FROM BURMA #50
November 25, 1996 (Mainichi Daily News)
SPIRITUAL REPRIEVE FROM AUTHORITARIAN RULE: "Respite"
Letter from Burma (No. 50) by Aung San Suu Kyi
Those who have to face persistent political persecution become highly
politicized. Our lives take on a rhythm different from those who, on waking
up in the morning do not need to wonder who might have been arrested during
the night and what further acts of blatant injustice might be committed
against our people later during the day. Our antennae become highly
sensitive to vibrations barely noticed by those whose everyday existence is
removed from political struggle. But still, our lives are not all politics,
we have our personal concerns, our intellectual and cultural interests and
our spiritual aspirations. The spiritual dimension becomes particularly
important in a struggle in which deeply held convictions and strength of
mind are the chief weapons against armed repression.
The majority of the people of Burma are Buddhists and it is traditional for
us to gather together on religious occasions to renew our spiritual strength
and our ties of friendship. The National League for Democracy, like many
other organizations in the country, tries to observe major religious
festivals. But it is not always easy. The authorities accuse us of using
religion for political purposes, perhaps because this is what they
themselves are doing, or perhaps because they cannot recognize the
multidimensional nature of man as a social being. Our right to freedom of
worship has become threatened by the desire of the authorities to curtail
the activities of our party. This was made particularly obvious in a
supplication addressed by the Minister for Religious Affairs to the abbot
members of the State /sangha/ (community of Buddhist monks) organization on
Sept. 29, 1996.
This supplication accused the NLD of infiltrating its party members into
various levels of the sangha with a view to creating misunderstandings
between the government and the sangha. It also accused the NLD of
instructing its members to enter the religious order to promote the cause of
their party and to commit subversive acts. (Somewhat baffling statement,
that one. It is difficult to see how committing acts of subversion could
promote the cause of the NLD. Therefore sangha organizations had been
"instructed to contact and cooperate with the relevant state/division,
township and ward authorities and take protective measures against dangers
to religion." In other words action should be taken to prevent members of
the NLD from entering the ranks of the sangha.
It is customary for Burmese Buddhist boys to spend some time as novices in
a monastery that they might learn the basic tenets of Buddhism and bring
merit to their parents who are responsible for arranging their ordination.
In addition, many Burmese men when they have passed the age of 20 enter the
religious order again for varying periods of time as fully ordained monks.
The supplication of the Minister of Religious Affairs to the state sangha
organization seemed to be aimed at curtailing the right of members of the
NLD to pursue the traditional religious practice. If the authorities truly
believe in the accusations leveled against our party in the supplication,
they must indeed be out of touch with reality.
But amidst the morass of political repression, intimidation, officially
organized acts of anarchy and interference in our right of worship, we
gained a brief respite from worldly concerns in the celebration of
/kathina/. This ceremony takes place after the end of the rainy season
retreat and lasts for one month, from the first day of the waning moon of
/Thadingyut/ (this day fell on Oct. 28 this year) until the full moon day of
/Tazaungdine/ (Nov. 25). Participation in the kathina ceremony, of which
the major feature is the offering of new robes, relieves monks of the
disciplinary rules to some extent and therefore those donors who arrange the
ceremony gain merit.
The NLD made an offering of kathina robes at the Panditarama Monastery this
year. It was good to gather to perform a common act of merit. It was good
to listen to the discourse of Sayadaw U Pandita, to ponder over his words of
wisdom and to reflect on the meaning of the ceremony. We Burmese believe
that those who perform good deeds together will meet again through the cycle
of existence, bonded by shared merit. It was good to think that if I am to
continue to tread the cycle of existence I shall be doing so in the company
of those who have proved to be the truest of friends and companions. Many
of us attending the ceremony came together eight years ago to commit
ourselves to the cause of democracy and human rights and we have remained
together in the face of intense adversity. There were also many missing
faces, the ones who had died, the ones who were in prison. It was sad to
think of them. But still, it was good to be able to take time off from the
political routine, to enjoy a small, precious spiritual respite.
(This article is one of a yearlong series of letters. The Japanese
translation appears in the Mainichi Shimbun the same day, or the previous
day in some areas.)
ASIAN AGE: GOLDEN TRIANGLE FULL OF DRUGS
November 25, 1996
BY MATTHEW PENNINGTON
Golden Triangle full of drugs despite Khun Sa's surrender
The surrender of the Shan drug lord Khun Sa and Rangoon's peace agreements
with ethnic insurgents in opium-growing border areas have done little to
stem the tide of narcotics out of Burma, experts say.
According to US government figures, opium production grew
by, nine percent during the 1995-1996 growing season, despite
claims by the Burmese government that millions of dollars were
being spent to wean farmers off cultivation.
And while the flow of heroin into Thailand has ebbed, the
amount leaving Burma - via alternative routes to the north
through Laos and China - has not, the experts say.
The US figures, based on satellite photography, indicate Burma
produced 2, 560 tonnes of opium resin during the 1995-1996
season - up 210 tonnes from the previous year - with a potential
to produce more than 250 tonnes of refined heroin.
The figures represent more than 90 percent of the opium yield
in the Golden Triangle of south-east Asia and more than half of
the total global production, estimated to be in the region of
"The supply is enormous and getting bigger," General Barry
McCaffrey, director of the US Office of National Drug Control
Policy said, noting that it would be countries in the region,
particularly Burma's ally China, that would be liable to pay the
heaviest social costs.
The US surveys show that some 163,000 hectares were devoted
to opium poppy cultivation in Burma, particularly in the Shan
state close to the eastern border with Thailand as well as in
Kachin state further north.
"The Burmese government is making little or no effort to stop
people from growing it," said one Rangoon-based expert, who
"The most intense areas of production are outside government
control. It's not their priority to end opium-growing. It's to
maintain peace with the ethnic insurgencies," he told AFP.
Fifteen minority rebel groups, some with strong involvement in
the drugs trade, have reached cease-fire agreements with the
ruling military junta since it came to power in 1988.
Colonel Thein Hun, director-general of border development,
told AFP the Burmese government had invested more than 300
million donors in projects for the 15 former insurgencies since
1989, including crop substitution programmes.
In the past seven years, opium production in former poppy-
growing areas had dropped between 60 and 70 per cent, he said.
Earlier this year narcotics officials in northern Thailand reported
that the surrender of Khun Sa had dislocated the traditional
supply of heroin from Burma and the drug's price had skyrocketed.
Prices stabilised after refineries were relocated towards the
Chinese border and into Thailand and Laos, but they remained
above former levels, the Rangoon-based expert said.
"Khun Sa's surrender affected the amount of heroin going into
Thailand, but not the amount coming out of Burma," he said.
Traffickers initially found alternative routes through Laos and
China, although some heroin refineries were now relocating
back into Khun Sa's former fiefdom in the southern Shan State,
he noted. Khun Sa, the self-styled Shan leader who reputedly
controlled heroin refining operations in the southern Shan state,
surrendered with 1 1,000 of his troops in January. He has not
faced prosecution, and the Burmese government has rejected
calls for his extradition to the United States where he was
indicted on narcotics charges in 1989. (AFP)
FEER: BOMBED OUT BURMA
November 21, 1996
By Michael Vatikiotis
Until the Karma Ends: A Plot to Destroy Burma by Paul Adireks.
Aries Books, Bangkok. 215 baht.
This apocalyptic novel is the work of Pongpol Adireksan, a prominent Thai
politician who has written two other novels in English under the thinly
veiled pseudonym, Paul Adireks. This provocative story turns on a fictional
United States Central Intelligence Agency plot to divide military-led Burma
into three states.
Given the author's status as a former foreign minister, briefly, in 1992,
and now minister in the prime minister's office, readers may wonder whether
Adireks is drawing on fact or fiction.
For example, does Thailand's National Intelligence Agency keep close tabs on
foreign espionage operatives? Would the NIA come to the aid of America's CIA
against the Russians? Where would Thailand stand if Washington destabilized
Burma? Judging from the novel, not necessarily with Rangoon.
The story begins with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Lance
Bellinger, the novel's hero, is credited with the collapse by drawing on his
skills as a CIA subversion expert and the resources of a US oil company. In
1994, the White House asks Bellinger to go to Burma and duplicate the
scenario to bring down the military regime and deter Chinese expansionism in
Adireks paints his Western character with cynical colours. For example: the
bored ex-KGB operative languishing in Bangkok after the Cold War - and the
fun - is over, who finds solace in a fugitive Russian prostitute; the
American ex-mercenary-turned-assassin who knows where to get the right
weapon for the job o the Cambodian border; and the surprise character who
adds a twist of treachery to US policy making.
By contrast, the Asian characters are disappointingly lifeless. Thai
officials are presented as boringly and even implausibly efficient and
incorruptible. The NIA performs well and experiences no conflicts with other
departments - how unreal. By contrast, it's the foreigners - and the Burmese
- who are up to no good. Even the legendary drug lord Khun Sa comes across
as a genial connoisseur of Thai brandy.
Yet there is merit in seeing characters like Bellinger through Asian eyes.
In Many novels, there's a "Fu Manchu" quality about Asians who are pitted
against the moral and idealistic white heroes - particularly when the books
end up as Hollywood screenplays.
The novel really be about the perfidious West and its treatment of a
slightly less perfidious ASEAN country. As for Thailand's stand on the
fictional plot to destabilize Burma, Adireks lends a touch of authenticity
by having his security chief agree "in principle" yet demur on the grounds
If there is a lesson buried here, it's that pushing for political change
doesn't necessarily work. "Democracy does take time," the NIA director tells
the CIA, pointing out that despite 60 years of democracy in Thailand,
civilians have only governed for 20. "The people of Burma must be patient as
Michael Vatikiotics is a Review correspondent, based in Bangkok.
STATEMENT: NEW BURMA COALITION PREPARES LAUNCH IN JAPAN
November 23, 1996
A new group called "Biruma Shimin Forum" (People's Forum on Burma) held its
third planning meeting this Saturday, November 23, near Waseda University in
Tokyo to prepare for its official launch on December 21. A coalition of
Japan-based Burmese democracy groups, lawyers, journalists, missionaries,
NGOs, and students, the People's Forum on Burma aims to (1) promote
democracy in Burma by educating the Japanese public and pressuring the
Japanese government and Japanese business to support the democratic
opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi and (2) provide support and assistance
(especially legal assistance) to Burmese democracy activists in Japan.
Special guests at the meeting included an NLD representative from Mandalay,
who reported on current conditions in Burma; Kachin singer/songwriter Mun
Awng, who explained about the activities of Burma support groups in Norway;
Hiroko Todoroki of Amnesty International Japan, who introduced Amnesty's
anti-Visit Myanmar Year campaign; and David Arnott of Burma Peace Foundation
in Geneva, who suggested ways to engage special interest groups in Japan to
support the struggle for democracy in Burma.
Participants spent the remainder of the meeting discussing the proposed
charter for the People's Forum on Burma and planning for the group's
official launch on December 21, an event which will include Burmese music
and dance, speeches and an educational video on the democracy movement from
1988 until now.
People's Forum on Burma is open to everyone, "regardless of thought, creed,
principle, nationality and religion." For more information in Japanese,
contact Shogo Watanabe at (03) 3263-3881; in English, please reply to
<carol@xxxxxxx> (PLEASE DO NOT AUTO-REPLY TO ALL OF BURMANET!).
The Prospectus of People's Forum on Burma
On August 1988, when voices calling for democracy were heard all around
Burma, we expected that the time had come for the Burmese to gain democracy
at last. But our expectations were crushed by the bullets of SLORC, the
junta that started to rule Burma by strong measures, and when Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi, the symbol of democracy, was confined in her house beginning July
1989. In July 1995, when Aung San Suu Kyi was released, we again had a
faint hope for the future of Burma. However, this hope was in vain, since
we were disappointed to see SLORC's violence such as arrest of NLD members
during the convention of the party and furthermore, the preventing of the
only way left for the NLD to express its message to the people, the speech
in front of Suu Kyi's house. At present, Burma is like a prison.
On the other hand, the Japanese government maintains a defensive attitude
towards the recognition as refugees of Burmese who escaped to Japan because
of political reason. Moreover, its continues diplomatic relations with
SLORC, and it can be said that relations between them is getting rather
tight in respect of trade and tourism, for example.
As this severe situation continues in Burma, we have started to think that
we, as people in Japan, should found an organization to undertake activities
related to this problem. Relations between Japan and Burma have been strong
from the ancient history. It is very important for the international
community what stance Japanese society will take against SLORC, and public
opinion can have an effect on it. Therefore we decided to found people's
forum to undertake activities at the grassroots level. We are going to do
the following activities:
1. To form a network of people who willing to promote democracy in Burma
and to undertake any activity that will promote democracy in Burma
For example, we will be an information source to collect and provide
information about Burma. We will do advocacy and suggestions to Japanese
government and other organizations which may have an effect to SLORC.
2. To promote friendship with Burmese in Japan and to cooperate in their
activities as citizens in Japan.
For example, we will support their activities, assist them in the problem of
status to stay in Japan, and promote cultural activities so that we can
offer a chance for deeper understanding about Burma and the Burmese.
Osamu Arakawa, Shinto Senkyoshikai
Fumie Kawai, Mingalaba
Schu Sugawara, journalist
Hisao Tanabe, journalist
Hiroshi Nagai, professor, Shizuoka Eiwa Women's University
Eriko Makino, Mingalaba
Merwyn De Mello, Maryknoll Mission
Kyoko Yoshii, Shinto Senkyoshikai
Kazuyuki Azusawa, lawyer, Burmese refugees applicant group
Shogo Watanabe, lawyer, Burmese refugees applicant group
STATEMENT: PEN CANADA TRIBUTE TO BURMESE WRITER
November 24, 1996
Over the past 21 years, the Harbourfront Reading Series has worked to
protect freedom of expression and freedom to publish, joining with
PEN Canada at each Festival to raise awareness about authors silenced for
their creative efforts. This year, the Festival recognizes Dr. Ma Thida
from Myanmar, formerly Burma.
In August 1993, shortly before her 27th birthday, writer and medical
doctor Ma Thida was arrested in Myanmar by the governing military
authorities. On October 15, 1993, Ma Thida was given a 20-year
sentence, which she is currently serving in Insein Prison, known for its
atrocious conditions, in solitary confinement. Ma Thida had worked in the late
1980s as campaign and medical assistant to honorary member of PEN Canada
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, author and leader
of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Thidas numerous short
stories often deal with the poverty she saw in the course of her medical
practice, and the damage done in her country by successive repressive
regimes. Because of her work with the NLD, she has had difficulty
publishing, and a novel has subsequently been banned.
Each of the 100-plus Festival events will feature an empty chair to
symbolize this author's absence from the Festival as well as the many
other writers detained around the world. Throughout the Festival, PEN
Canada will circulate a petition on Dr. Thidas behalf and on behalf
of other writers currently imprisoned or under threat. PEN Canada calls
for her immediate and unconditional release, and pending that, asks that
she be given humane treatment, including access to family, legal and
medical counsel, and reading and writing materials.
THE NEW LIGHT OF MYANMAR: YADANA GAS FIELD
November 20, 1996 (abridged)
by Tekkatho Tin Kha
Myanmar Yadana Field Producing Treasures in Abundance
Myanmar [Burma] is endowed with natural resources both on land and
underground. She has also rich resources under water. Myanmar is thus called
Forest products on land, minerals underground and oil and natural gas
exploited under water are contributing to the nation's economic progress
like jewels accumulate where jewels exist.
Numerous international organizations have invested in Myanmar in the wake of
introduction of the market oriented economic system in the country. In oil
and natural gas sector, foreign oil and gas companies have signed contracts
for exploration and production of the natural resources inland and
off-shore; they are investing a total of 3.1 billion dollars during the
period from 1989 to 1999.
Addressing the first Four-monthly coordination meeting of the State Law and
Order Restoration Council [SLORC] and State/Division Law and Order
Restoration Councils on 23 April 1996, chairman of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General
Than Shwe gave guidance in connection with energy sector as follows.
He called for systematic exploration and production of oil and natural gas
from promising off-shore areas and most beneficial use of the resources by
establishing industries for the long-term interests of the country.
Total Exploration and Production is engaged in exploration and production of
oil and natural gas in the Yadana gas field in blocks M-5 and M-6 and the
American Arco Company in the block M-9. Arrangements are under way for the
sale of natural gas produced from the Yadana and Yetagun gas fields to
Thailand and for domestic consumption. Oil and natural gas in Myanmar
off-shore were first discovered about 25 years ago. There was an explosion
test well No. 3 in Myanmar off-shore on 8 September 1972 on reaching the
depth of 7,000 feet while drilling was in progress. That was a proof that
oil and gas exist in Myanmar off-shore.
Foreign oil and gas companies, with peace of mind, are drilling wells in
Myanmar off-shore after investing huge sums.
Myanmar off-shore areas such as Rakhine, Martaban and Tenasserim are indeed
promising sources of oil and natural gas. They are therefore the gemland of
the country. The Yadana Project is located in one of the nation's gemland.
It is located between 15x16" north latitude and 95x11" east longitude in the
Gulf of Martaban. The drilling began in 1982 but the project could not be
implemented due to high costs in investment.
While the SLORC is expeditiously implementing the objectives -- "Proper
evolution of the market-oriented economic system" and "Development of the
economy inviting participation in terms of technical know-how and investments
from sources inside the country and abroad" -- of the State's economic
objectives, foreign investors are cooperating with trust and confidence.
However, some of the West bloc nations who cannot bear to see Myanmar
prosper economically and uplift of living standard of nationalities and
peoples dwelling in Myanmar Naing-Ngan, are attempting to impose economic
sanctions on Myanmar.
They also coerce and apply pressure on foreign entrepreneurs not to make
investments in Myanmar Naing-Ngan.
A report appeared in 23 July 1996 issue of FINANCIAL TIMES published in
London reported Total, French oil company, announced that it would continue
doing business in Myanmar despite being severely criticized for making
investments in Myanmar Naing-Ngan after ignoring Myanmar's politics.
It can explicitly be seen how firmly Myanmar economic system is established
in view of Western companies' making solid and firm investments in Myanmar
in spite of coercion and pressure from some of the West bloc nations.
Today, efforts are being made to tap and abundantly produce under-water gems
of oil and natural gas. In the near future, the under-water gems can be sent
from Kanbauk to Bangkok. Success of Yadana and Yetagun fields represents a
significant achievement of market economic system. Gems will be abundant in
Myanmar, the Gemland.
ANNOUNCEMENT: TEENS TO PROTEST THE WIZ - MITSUBISHI
November 19, 1996
"Nobody Beats the Wiz at Rainforest Destruction?" Protesters call on Wiz to
Saturday, November 30, Framingham. About 50 members of
Defenders Of The Rainforest, Greenpeace, Rainforest Relief, Rainforest
Action Groups, Free Burma, woman's rights groups and other environmental
and social groups will hold a noisy protest featuring a 35' inflatable
chainsaw at the Nobody Beat the Wiz store in Framingham on Saturday. The
protest is part of a one year old campaign to force the electronics
giant to stop selling products produced by Mitsubishi. The protesters
have called for a boycott of the electronic's chain in response to the
Wiz's business ties to Mitsubishi. The groups accuse Mitsubishi of
being one the world's worst corporate rainforest destroyer, supporting
the military dictatorship in Burma which is forcing people into slavery,
and of condoning sexual harassment. The groups called for the boycott
in August after Wiz president Lawrence Jemel backed out of a meeting
with the demonstrators. The groups claim that by selling Mitsubishi
TVs, VCRs, Fax Machines, and Nikon Cameras, and promoting the Mitsubishi
Three Diamond credit card, the Wiz is supporting Mitsubishi's
questionable business practices. Similar protests were held at Wiz
stores in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York.
According to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Mitsubishi's
operations are destroying forests, as well as native cultures.
Mitsubishi companies can be found destroying forests around the world.
The group is also protesting Mitsubishi's investments in the
Southeast Asia country of Burma. Burma is under the rule of a military
dictatorship call the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)
and has been widely criticized for its human rights record. Wide scaled
forced labor, oppression of political activities, targeting of minority
ethnic and religious groups, forced prostitution, government complicity
in heroin trafficking, and destruction of the tropical rainforest are
just some of the charges placed on the SLORC by various human rights
groups, the US Congress, and the United Nation among others. Mitsubishi
is helping the French company Total and US based UNOCAL and Texaco build
a controversial natural gas pipeline linking Burma and Thailand.
Activists claim that forced labor has been used to help construct this
pipeline. Mitsubishi has also helped construct a power plant and has
placed bids to build three bridges. Mitsubishi Motors was also the
first foreign car dealership to set up shop in Burma. Mitsubishi
president Minoru Makihara met with leaders of the SLORC last spring and
issued a memorandum of cooperation and understanding. The SLORC seized
control of the country in 1988 after crushing student led pro- democrat
rallies. Thousands are believed to have been killed. In 1990, elections
were held and the Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party
won over 80% of the vote, but the SLORC refused to hand over power and
instead imprisoned Suu Kyi for six years under house arrest. President
Clinton recently signed a bill that provides for economic sanctions
against Burma if the human rights situation does not improve.
Mitsubishi, however, continues to do business with the SLORC.
Mitsubishi is also the target of a boycott by the Rainbow Coalition
and the NOW over charges of sexual harassment at Mitsubishi Motors
Illinois plant. They are joined by environmental and human rights
groups around the world in calling for a boycott of all Mitsubishi
products and companies. These include Mitsubishi cars and trucks,
TV's, VCR's, FAX machines, cellular phones, Nixon Cameras, Kirin Beer,
the Bank of California, Mitsubishi Bank, the Three Diamond Card, Value
Rent-a-Car, and Chrysler cars made by Mitsubishi which include the Eagle
Talonm, Summit Wagon, Dodge Cult, RAM Trucks, Intrepid, and the Dodge
In summing up what the protesters want, Jonathan Luman said "We are
asking the Wiz to live up to their promise of meeting with us and make
the responsible choice of breaking all business ties with Mitsubishi.
What we're looking for is corporate responsibility."
WHEN: November 30, 1996 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Nobody Beats the Wiz
Shopper's World Shopping Center
Worcester Rd. Route 9
Framingham, MA 01701
CONTACT: Jonathan Luman 508/756-1819 - PHONE
Defenders Of The Rainforest are organizing this protest. They are all teenagers!
STATEMENT: AGAINST VISIT MYANMAR YEAR 1996
November 25, 1996 (Burma Centrum Nederland - BCN)
A CALL UPON TRAVELLERS AND TRAVEL AGENTS NOT TO ACCEPT THE INVITATION OF THE
BURMESE GENERALS DURING THE VISIT MYANMAR YEAR 1996
18 November 1996 marks the official launch of the Burmese military regime's
Visit Myanmar Year 1996. The generals hope that their tourist promotion
year campaign will attract 250,000 travellers whose dollars will fill the
state coffers and refurbish its international image.
In Burma, the build-up of the tourism-industry is closely connected with
human rights violations.
The National League for Democracy - which won a landslide victory in the
1990 election, the results of which were never respected - calls for a
boycott of the Visit Myanmar Year 1996. The preparation of the tourist
infrastructure involves massive human rights abuses. The so-called Burmese
holiday paradise is built by forced labour.
Throughout the country the people, particularly ethnic minorities and
members of the democratic opposition, are subject to constant repression by
the junta. Forced labour is used to build roads, railways, bridges and
airports and to construct the kind of historical or picturesque sites that
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forcibly relocated to provide
space for new hotel complexes, business centres and other projects in time
for the tourist year; an unknown number of people, including women, children
and the elderly, have been conscripted as forced labourers.
The profits from the opening of the country to tourism will go mainly to the
military regime and foreign investors, with hardly any benefit for the
suffering people of Burma; neither will the Tourist Year help the process of
democratisation or the implementation of human rights, as democratic leader
Aung San Suu Kyi does not tire of saying.
At the beginning of the Tourist Year, therefore, we would like to repeat the
appeal Aung San Suu Kyi made on several occasions to the international
community and all potential tourists: Wait. Dont visit Burma yet. It
would be a mistake to support the policies of the military regime at this time
TRAVELLERS are strongly urged not to go to Burma at this time.
TRAVEL AGENTS are urged not to promote Burma at this time.
LIST OF SIGNATORIES:
KWIA - Werkgroep Inheemse Volkeren
Info Birmanie / Agir ici / Rseau Jeunes Solidaires / Fractures / France
Libert /ration Internationale des Ligues de Droits de Homme (FIDH)
Dannish Burma Committee
Burma Action, Ireland
J.R.M. Maij-Weggen MEP /Groen Links /Netherlands Trade Union Confederation
FNV / Stichting Oecumenische Hulp - Kerken in Aktie (SOH, Dutch Interchurch
Aid) / XminusY Solidarity Fund / International Fellowship for Reconciliation
(IFOR) / travel agent Ashraf / Burma Centrum Nederland
Norwegian Burma Council
Sweden-Democratic Burma Friendship Association
Association Suisse-Birmanie / Arbeitskreis Tourismus und Entwicklung /
Society for Threatened Peoples (Switzerland) / Bread for all - Pain pour le
Prochain - Brot FCr Alle / FIZ - Centre Information pour les Femmes du
Glenys Kinnock MEP / James Moorhouse MEP / Burma Action Group / Tourism
Concern / Anti-Slavery International
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) / International
Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied
Workers Associations (IUF) / Comit Syndical Europen du Textile,
Habillement et du Cuir (ORE-THC)
NLM: SLORC `SINCERITY' INTERPRETED NEGATIVELY
November 19, 1996 (The New Light of Myanmar) (abridged)
Yangon [Rangoon], 18 Nov --The dinner to mark the Visit Myanmar [Burma] Year
[VMY] 1996 opening ceremony was held at the People's Square this
evening, attended by Chairman of Tourism Development Management Committee
Secretary-1 of the State Law and Order Restoration Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt
and Secretary-2 Lt-Gen Tin U.
Vice-Chairman of Tourism Development Management Committee Minister for
Hotels and Tourism Lt-Gen Kyaw Ba extended greetings.
He said: Mingalaba. [Greetings] It is indeed appropriate to wish you
mingalaba this evening, because the very word mingala means auspiciousness
-- and this morning we have begun our day with the auspicious occasion, the
grand opening ceremony of Visit Myanmar Year 1996, said now again we are
gathered here, this beautiful evening, to celebrate that momentous event,
and enjoy the feast prepared before us.
Overwhelming delight, at the successful celebration of the opening ceremony
this morning, makes it hard for me to find the words to really express our
heartfelt gratitude to all our guests of honour, without whose attendance our
efforts would be meaningless. Although our hearts are full of appreciation,
allow me just to put it in a very simple way, and say thank you all
for being with us. Actually, we would like to thank you, not only for your
participation in the Visit Myanmar Year celebration, but also for your
unfailing support throughout the difficult times which we have gone through.
As everyone knows, since we have taken over the violating human rights, and
no matter how much we try, or whatever we do for the good of the country,
and for a better life of our people, our sincerity has been interpreted in a
More attacks were made through the media when we began to encourage tourism,
and especially when we launched our Visit Myanmar Year programme.
We were informed of the rampant propaganda against the celebration of Visit
Myanmar Year in many parts of the world.
Despite these adverse circumstances, we marched on towards our goal. Along
the way we have found true friends who stand by us through thick and thin.
The support and cooperation of these friends, contributed greatly to the
proper development of our plan and programme. Needless to say, our guests of
honour from abroad, who here with us today are among those friends.
Sometimes we wonder why people who are at a great distance and barely know
us are against us. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the lack of
communication with the outside world for nearly three decades has made
Myanmar into a land of mystery. To unveil this mystery, everybody tries to
collect bits and pieces of information which are available to them.
Unfortunately, we could not pay much attention to
satisfying their interests, because we had to give priority to establishing
stability in the country. Obviously, our country is today enjoying peace,
stability, and security as never before in the history of modern Myanmar.
The proof is that the insurgent groups who had fought previous governments
for over 40 years have now returned to the legal fold only after we have
taken over the responsibility of government. This is in fact both the
outcome of our strenuous effort and a recognition on their part of our
sincerity. As we have established peace and stability, we are now in a
position, to pay more attention to our economy and other sectors for
development. All-out efforts are being made, for the upgrading of the
country, including health, education, social welfare, etc.
The whole face of the country is being changed rapidly and progress is
everywhere visible. In particular, the progress in the hotels and tourism
sector has been extremely rapid since we started to encourage tourism. Many
foreign investors have come to Myanmar, and constructed international
standard hotels, while the number of tourist arrivals is growing each year.
However, Myanmar is still little known to the outside world. Then comes our
major task -- to promote Myanmar as a brand new international travel
destination. We are very positive about our tourism potentials, since we
have unspoilt and natural tourism resources, which we have preserved and
which we are developing. Inevitably, the promotional task should be carried
out properly and quickly. With this task, we joined those who try to unveil
our mystery land. Unfortunately, the unpleasant stories told by others have
stuck in the minds of many people. In order to correct the wrong impression,
we have to let the world see our country, as in the saying, seeing is
believing. For that purpose, we announced to the world that we would
celebrate Visit Myanmar Year in 1996, and people of
all colours were invited to join this special event of unveiling the mystery
Golden Land. With the successful celebration of Visit Myanmar Year,
many visitors will discover the true life of Myanmar, and understand our
culture, in other words, our way of life and our ways of thought. Then with
closer contact and an exchange of understanding, we hope to achieve a better
relationship, with people all over the world. We look forward to taking
part, in making the world, a better and peaceful place to live in.
NLM: VOA, BBC `BIASED' SUPPORT FOR SUU KYI
November 18, 1996 (The New Light of Myanmar)
by Maung Kyaw Hoe
Mother's Profound and Meaningful Desire
Mother's desire is profound and meaningful -- "Son, when you are in Yangon
[Rangoon] buy me a radio without the BBC and the VOA". My mother is simple,
honest, and always sees and tells the truth, so she could not stand
deception. She hates the BBC and the VOA and does not want to hear their
false allegations. She reads the daily newspapers and watches Myanmar
[Burmese] television everyday. She has also read the book "Allegations of
the BBC and the VOA" published by the Information and Public Relations
Department. She has visited Yangon together with me at the end of October
and knows that the people around the country are earning an honest living.
Despite all this, Mother became upset because the BBC and the VOA have been
biased in reporting about Daw Suu Kyi, U Kyi Maung, U Tin U, U Win Tin, and
the National League for Democracy [NLD].
Not only my mother but the entire populace know that the BBC and the VOA's
reports are far from true. After some time she became frustrated with their
broadcasts and simply told me: "Son, when you are in Yangon buy me a radio
without the BBC and the VOA". What a profound and meaningful desire.
Mother never joined any political party but she knows the absolute situation
of the country, especially the post-1988 situation.
Mother knows that it is undeniable that nobody could take any responsibility
during the 1988 disturbances [mass pro-democracy demonstrations which
reached its height on 8- 8-88], which still send shivers down one's spine even
thinking about it today, although eight years have passed. The Defense
Services personnel, who were young men during the 1962 era [when General Ne
Win took over state power on 2-3-62], have bravely taken up their national
The Defense Services has effectively carried out national politics to
prevent the recurrence of that bitter experience. It has laid down the three
main national causes and has accepted them as the national duty. The Defense
Services is striving to uplift patriotic spirit and making it more dynamic
because patriotism is the basis of love and loyalty to your country. The
Defense Services is also making utmost efforts as a national duty to develop
the youth and instill patriotism. The Defense Services is striving for
economic development in Myanmar -- the basis for the development of
democracy and human rights. Although faced with difficulties, it is
gradually transforming the economy into
a market-oriented economic system.
Self-sufficiency was further proven with the ability to provide, without
depending on foreign aid and assistance, for food, clothing, and shelter
needs of the 44 million people based on the agriculture, forestry,
livestock, and fisheries sectors. Mother knows that unprecedented national
unity has been achieved and border area development works are in progress.
The country is on the verge of transformation to industrialization.
Endeavors have been made to safeguard the enduring cultural traditions, to
sustain development, and to establish a developed, stable, and modern nation.
Considerable progress has been made in drafting an enduring state
constitution by holding a national convention with participation of various
national people. Mother is aware of Ma Suu Kyi's [Aung San Suu Kyi] National
Democracy [NLD] delegates who sulked and left the National Convention.
Mother often commented that it was wrong for the NLD to leave the
convention. Mother's conviction is that all should participate in the
National Convention which is a national political undertaking. Mother is
quite used to the sound of the VOA and the BBC which repeatedly broadcast
fabrications about the NLD leaders. Mother no longer wants to hear the VOA
and the BBC. Mother is aware that the two will drop dead shrieking like a
cricket. That is why Mother said: "Son, when you are in Yangon buy me a
radio without the BBC and the VOA."