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BurmaNet News January 30, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: January 30, 1997
Issue #624

Noted in Passing:

		The awards being conferred on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today 		from outside
the country are in fact poisons. 
		- SLORC-controlled press (THE HINDU: SUU KYI)


January 29, 1997

Flash News #2

Huay Kaloke (Wangka) Camp

The refugees from this camp have been without food or water since the
invasion and only at 2:00pm was some food able to be sent in by the Karens
not affected by the incident.  NGOs and relief agencies are now doing their
best to organize food and shelter for the victims.  There is still fear that
the invaders will return after dark and drive the refugees back into Burma.
The Thai military now has a small detachment deployed but the question is
whether they will attempt to repulse the invaders.  The feeling of
insecurity is great and uncertainty about future residence is rife.  The
invaders included SLORC troops from the Light Infantry Regiment 259 of the
101 division and some Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization men.

Don Pa Kiang (Huay Bong) Camp

Reports from this camp are still very sketchy, but 1 Thai villager was
reported killed.

Mae La (Bae Glaw) Camp

The 70 invaders initiated the attack at about 6:15 am and were repelled by
the residents before they could enter the camp.  The invaders were then
surrounded and were unable to retreat back across the border.  They then
called for artillery support and shells were fired from the Burmese side
into the camp concentrating on areas around the hospital.  15 houses were
burned.  1 old woman was killed and 2 other persons were wounded.  The
invaders also suffered an unknown number of casualties.  1 corpse and some
weapons were left behind.  The weapons included 1 RPG 7 launcher and 2 M16
assault rifles.  Fighting died down at about 9:00 am but the invaders were
still unable to retreat.  They were waiting for nightfall to attempt to
retreat back across the border.


20 truckloads of SLORC troops were reported to have been sent up and at 9:00
am, troops were seen to be deployed along the Moei River bank.

Northern Refugee Camps

More refugees have been reported crossing the border into the northern
camps.  SLORC troops and the DKBA are destroying food supplies and rice
fields, forcing villagers to be porters and forcibly relocating villagers.
On 29 January 1997, 574 new arrivals have entered the Salween camps.

KNU Information Center


January 28, 1997

NEW DELHI, Jan. 28.
Nobel laureate and Burmese political leader, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, and
super hero Amitabh Bachchan, are among the 14 former students of Delhi
University who will be awarded the Distinguished Alumni Awards at the
inaugural function of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Capital's
largest Central University.

Other old students who will be conferred the award are Urdu poet Ali
Sardar jafri; painter Anjolic Ela Menon; industrialist, Dr. Bharat Ram;
statistician, Prof. C. R. Rao., playwright Girish Karnad; veteran
Parliamentarian, Mr. Indrajit Gupta; chairperson of the Indira Gandhi
National Centre for Arts and Indologist, Ms. Kapila Vatsyayan;
parliamentarian, Ms. Meira Kumar; economist and bureaucrat, Dr. Montek
Singh Ahluwalia; former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, Prof. Sarup
Singh; sarod maestro Sharan Ran! Backilwal; and Kathak danseuse Shovana

The awardees were selected by a committee set up by the Executive Council
under the chairmanship of Mr. justice R. S. Pathak. Other members on the
committee were Prof. Abid Hussain and Prof. M.G.K. Menon. The awards will
be presented by the President who is also the Visitor of the University.


January 29, 1997 (Reuter).
Yangon, Jan. 28. - Myanmar's official media today said the pro-democracy
leader, Ms. Aung  San Suu Kyi, was being poisoned by the awards conferred
upon her by other  countries.
"The awards being conferred on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today from outside 
the country are in fact poisons," said the commentary published in 
Myanmarese language newspapers. State-run newspapers are considered the 
mouthpiece of the military government.
"Do you realise that poisons are being poured into your head in order to 
make you hate the government, the armed forces and the people of Myanmar 
more an more?" the commentary asked.
Ms. Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel prize for her non-violent campaign 
for democracy, has been awarded dozens of honours and awards abroad over 
the past few years for her efforts to bring democracy back to Myanmar. -- 


January 29, 1997
Regional Perspective, Kavi Chongkittavorn

Last week, Madeleine Albright was confirmed as the new US State Secretary
thus becoming the most powerful woman in the American government. Her words
and her world views must be taken seriously. 

Throughout her UN tenure, she was lauded for her sincere concerns and
consistent interest in issues pertaining to press freedom and individual
rights in authoritarian countries. 

In a recent interview, she said that Asia and Europe will be the top
priorities of American foreign policy and that she is planning a tour of the
two regions next month. 

Given her background and experience, she is obviously well-versed with
European security matters, particularly on the issue of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation, more than anything else. She wants to see the US
maintain an active role and stay engaged in Europe. 

For the time being, she has commented on China and North Korea. She vowed to
''tell it like it is" to China on human rights issues and the future of Hong

In coming weeks and months, however, what will distinguish her will be the
first contact with Asian countries, particularly the members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Her handling of issues
related to human rights and democracy such as the situations in Burma and
East Timor in addition to the US refusal to sign the Treaty of Southeast
Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone will set the tone for future relations
between US and Asean. 

>From the perspective of the region, it will be interesting to watch whether
she will stick to her long-standing views on Burma, particularly in the past
two years, which have been widely quoted and noted. 

At the UN headquarters, she regularly dropped bombshells against the Slorc
regime. One of the strongest remarks she made against Burma was her last
speech at the UN General Assembly in December when a resolution on Burma was

Exactly, 44 days ago, she said ''it is increasingly clear that the failure
of Burmese authorities to respect civil and human rights is causing unrest
within the country". Albright also called on Burma to stop abusing human
rights, release political prisoners, and begin talks with democratic
leaders. Unless Burma stops repressing its people, she pointed out, the
international community will continue to speak out against the government. 

Back in December 1995, in her article published in The New Republic in
December 1995, she even called the Slorc regime a ''kleptocracy". 

With a Malaysian-led effort to embrace Rangoon, would it be possible that
she prefers to back down on her stance on Burma for the sake of harmonious
relations between the United States and Asean in order to preserve US
economic interests in the region and the country? 

After all, there is a strong prevailing feeling that there is nothing much
Washington can do to influence the course of events regarding Burma's
admission into Asean this July ­ leading up to the regional grouping's
informal summit with all 10 Southeast Asian countries in December in Kuala
Lumpur. During the first Clinton administration, that was the message
perceived by many. When the White House despatched two special envoys to
Japan and Asean states last June, it was clear that as far as the Burmese
issue was concerned, Asean would take the lead. 

Officially, the US, Japan and Asean all agreed that they shared fundamental
concern on Burma and they all believe that peace and stability can come
about through a process of dialogue between the Slorc and the democratic

One of the envoys, Stanley Roth, has been nominated to succeed Winston Lord
as Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. If his
reconfirmation comes about as planned, it will be interesting to find out
whether he will continue the discussions he had with Japan and Asean on the
link between political dialogue, stability in Burma and the country's
successful integration into the region. 

Although the US has stood firm on the issue of human rights and democracy in
Burma, Washington's response had been mild. Last October, it slapped a visa
ban on the members of the Burmese regime and their families on visits to the
US due to the crackdown on democratic forces. But the US has yet to pressure
major US companies from investing in Burma. 

Due to American public pressure, Pepsi Co is the latest to join dozens of
companies which have withdrew their investment from Burma. In her latest
speech during a commencement ceremony over the weekend, where she received
an honorary degree in absentia from the American University, Aung San Suu
Kyi, in a speech read by her husband Michael Arias, reiterated her call for
US corporate bodies to boycott Burma. 

Over the past few years consumer boycotts and shareholder pressure have
played a big role in the Burma campaign. And this has had an effect on US
companies such as Wente Vineyards, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer
and London Fog/Pacific Trails (UK) along with Heineken (Dutch) and Carlsberg
(Danish), which have all withdrawn their operations from Burma. 

Lobbyists, however, seem to be having difficulty getting through to the
major oil companies. Unocal, Texaco, Total (France) and Premier (UK) are
still investing heavily in oil industries in Burma. Since 1988, foreign oil
companies have provided at least 65 per cent of all foreign investment and
the major source of foreign revenue for the Slorc regime. 

Effective economic boycotts would prove effective only through the
intervention of the UN Security Council, which has successfully implemented
economic sanctions against Iraq for six consecutive years. At the moment, it
is hard to adopt a UNSC resolution on Burma as almost all Security Council
members have intrinsic interests in the country. France, the United States
and Britain are into the oil exploration business and China is co-opting
Burma through trade and military sales. 

That explains why Asean has been wishy washy about its increased investment
and trade with Burma. The continued double-standard policy practised by the
West continues to strengthen Asean's position on Burma. Asean, so it seems,
would only comply if the UNSC imposes economic sanctions. 

As it stands now, there is a slim chance economic sanctions against Burma
will get off the ground because of vested interests among the permanent
members of the Security Council. The visa ban imposed by the US and the EU
is rather mild compared to the harshness of the regime's treatment of its
own citizens. 

Albright said recently ''the more time that elapses before the Burmese
government changes, the more the pressure will build, the more divided Burma
will become, and the more difficult it will be for Burma to achieve a
peaceful transaction to democratic rule." It's only a matter of time, for
the region to find out, if these words hold true.(TN)


January 29 1997

Burma on Wednesday advised new U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to
learn from the experience of former American Defense Secretary Robert
McNamara and not interfere in the country's affairs.

Commentaries in two state-owned newspapers said McNamara, who was Pentagon
chief during the Vietnam War, had written in a book that he was aggrieved by
his country's unnecessary intervention in the domestic affairs of Vietnam.

"I would like to present a good advice to Madeleine K. Albright to read 'In
Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam' by former secretary of
defense McNamara," said the writer of the commentary.

"Mr. McNamara's confession has spotlighted the temperament and stand of the
southeast Asian people. It is the truth that is worth many lives," the
commentary added.

Albright led recent United Nations criticism of the ruling military State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which resulted in a resolution by
the world assembly rebuking the country for suppressing opposition.

She condemned the SLORC's repression of anti-government student unrest in
Rangoon last month and the treatment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The newspaper commentaries said the Burmese people would not support Suu Kyi.

"It is time to realise that Myanmar (Burmese) people never support Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi. Followers of imperialists are never accepted by the fatherland.
They fall without fail in one way or another," the commentaries added.


January 29, 1997
Troops keep attacks at bay as access road to border proceeds

Boonsong Kositchotethana and Nussara Sawatsawang Ban I Tong, Kanchanaburi

With almost 4,000 government troops on guard against Karen attackers, laying
of the onshore stretch of the Yadana gas pipeline in Burma has advanced well
into its final stage.

Construction of the access road along which the 63-km onshore pipeline, 36
inches in diameter, will be laid from the coast at Daminseik in southeast
Burma via Tavoy, has reached the Thai western border village of Ban I Tong
in Thong Pha Phum district, the gas delivery point.

Border military sources confirmed that five battalions of Burmese soldiers
have sealed the pipeline corridor for five kilometres on each side,
providing maximum security for thousands of workers for the French
contractor Spie Capag.

A senior Thai military officer said the Burmese troops had begun mopping up
Karen strongholds across from Kanchanaburi since late 1991 ahead of work
beginning on the Yadana pipeline.

Attacks by anti-Rangoon forces are regarded as the major threat to the
pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Yadana, Burma's largest gas
field in the Gulf of Martarban, to Thailand.

The pipeline corridor in Burma, along which there are 13 villages with a
total population of 34,820, has been firmly secured by the State Law and
Order Restoration Council since a serious incident almost two years ago.

In March 1995, five members of the Yadana pipeline route survey team were
killed and 11 wounded in Kanbauk, near the western end of the pipeline. All
the victims were Burmese.

The attackers are understood to be anti-Rangoon forces which have vowed to
destroy the pipeline and prevent it making hundreds of millions of dollars
for Rangoon.

Industry sources said laying of the onshore pipeline, the most sensitive
aspect of the US$1 billion project, began in earnest last November, with the
initial 10-km put in place underground.

According to the schedule set by the Yadana project developing group led by
Total of France, the onshore pipe-laying is due to be completed by May.

But the threat from anti-Slorc groups would not end unless Slorc reached a
ceasefire with the Karen National Union (KNU), the last ethnic rebel group,
a Thai military source said.

According to one military intelligence source, Slorc recently ended the
fourth round of ceasefire talks inconclusively. The next round is expected soon.

A Burma observer said Burmese troops might launch an offensive this dry
season against the KNU's strongholds south of the pipeline corridor that are
headed by veteran Karen commander Maj-Gen Oliver.

Maj-Gen Oliver's fourth division, which was driven from its old base on the
pipeline corridor five years ago, is still active between Tavoy and Mergui
and has an estimated strength of 1,000.

But a Thai military source said there was no threat to the upper corridor as
Mon rebels who controlled the area had reached a ceasefire with Rangoon in
June 1995.

Progress in laying the onshore Daminseik-Ban I Tong pipeline provides some
assurance that delivery of Yadana gas to Thailand could start as scheduled
next year.

The 30-year gas sale contract signed by the Yadana group with the Petroleum
Authority of Thailand (PTT) calls for the average delivery of 525 million
cubic feet per day (MMcfd), starting in mid-1998, with a "swing" to boost
the rate by 15% to 604 MMcfd if so required by PTT.

According to Total, construction of the offshore pipeline, 346 km long and
36 inches in diameter, is due to start in mid-1997. It will run from the
Yadana field, about 240 km south of Rangoon in the Gulf of Martaban, to the
coast at Daminseik in Mon State where it will connect with the onshore line.
Installation of the offshore line is scheduled to be completed early next year.

Offshore platforms now being made by the US rig-builder McDermott on Batam
Island of Indonesia are scheduled for installation from 1997 to early 1998.

The Yadana project has been fraught with controversy, with accusations that
forced labour has been used for the onshore pipe-laying leading to an
international campaign to force the Yadana developing group to withdraw from
the construction.

Total has a 31.24% stake in Yadana, Burma's largest offshore gas field, with
Unocal having 28.26%, PTT Exploration & Production Plc of Thailand (part of
the PTT) 25.5% and Burmese state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise 15%.

Last year, a self-proclaimed Burmese government in-exile filed a lawsuit
against Unocal for human rights abuses allegedly arising from its
participation in the project.

Unocal quickly rebutted the lawsuit brought against it by the National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Federation of Trade
Unions of Burma as "false, irresponsible and frivolous".

Unocal and Total have been targets of groups opposing the junta's human
rights record and its crackdown on democracy campaigns. (BP)


January 28, 1997

Information Sheet (A-0013) dated 28-1-98

	(1) According to the Emergency Act of 1950 under Section 
5/E, (5) members of the National League for Democracy and (9) 
others were found guilty of agitation and throwing rocks at security 
personnel during the student unrest last December. It is learnt that 
none of those sentenced were students.

	(2) On the 26th January afternoon Mrs. Aris attended a 
lunch function at the U.S CDA's Mr. K. Weiderman's residence and 
she also attended a lunch function today at the Italian Ambassador, 
Dr. B. Volpi's residence. It was also learnt that the Austrian 
Ambassador, Dr. Nicolus Scherk who was visiting Yangon from 
Bangkok was also present at the Italian Ambassador's residence 
during Mrs. Aris's visit

	(3) The Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control will 
hold the Eleventh Destruction of Narcotic Drugs seized by 
Myanmar Law Enforcement Agencies on the morning of 30th 
January in Yangon.

	(4) The Information Committee will hold its monthly press 
briefing on the morning of the 1st of February in Yangon.

Source : Myanmar Authority Concerned


 January 29 1997

	It has been learnt that the outlawed organization (A.B.S.D.F) based on the
Thai side of the border has been disseminating rumours to arouse the interest
of the Japanese media. Rumours are spread around that (2) Japanese tourists
(students) visiting Northern part of Myanmar (Myitkyina Region) has been
missing since 14th of January this year. It also went on to say that this (2)
Japanese tourists were detained in Myitkyina area by the government
authorities or by the former insurgent organization.
	The authorities concerned deny such an incident taking place in Myitkyina
area or any other places in Myanmar for that matter.

By: Myanmar Authority Concerned


 January 29 1997
By Michael Richardson

Singapore, Jan. 28: The Association of South East Asian Nations has
decided to include Burma as a new member this year, even though the
presence of the Burmese military regime could cause a rift in relations
with the West and disrupt plans to hold a summit meeting between European
and Asian leaders, officials and analysts say.

With foreign ministers of Asean and the European Union scheduled to meet
in Singapore next month, all Asean countries have now made it clear that
they will not be deterred from accepting Burma as a member by western
objections to its record of human rights abuses and political repression.

Thailand and the Philippines -- which has previously voiced doubts about
Burma joining Asean unless the internal situation improved -- have
dropped those reservations to advance regional unity. As a result, Asean
will "very likely" grant membership to Burma, Cambodia and Laos in 1997,
Mahathir bin Mohamad, the Malaysian Prime Minister, said recently.
Malaysia will be chairman of the Asean this year. With Indonesia, it is
leading the push to unite Southeast Asia by bringing Burma, Cambodia and
Laos into the group at its annual meeting in Kuala Lampur in July.
"With the ten Southeast Asian countries together, we will form a
community with a combined population of 500 million, bigger in fact then
Europe or North America," Mr Mahathir said. "We may not be as rich, but
the potential will be tremendous. We will be a significant player in Asia
and in the world."

Just after Asean and EU foreign ministers meet in Singapore on February
13 and 14, they will be joined by their counterparts from China. Japan
and South Korea to discuss the agenda for a summit of European and Asian
heads of government in London in 1998.

The issue of Burma's imminent membership in Asean threatens to disrupt
the London meeting because leaders of the Burmese military government are
banned from visiting Europe under visa restrictions imposed as part of a
package of sanctions imposed by the EU in 1996 to protest a crackdown on
the democratic Opposition in Burma. The US imposed similar penalties.
Membership in the Asean does not confer an automatic right to join the
Europe-Asia summit conference. But Asean officials said they expected all
members. including Burma, would want to participate and that this would
have Asean's support.

With Rangoon continuing to harass the Opposition National League for
Democracy and refusing to negotiate with its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi
despite repeated calls for dialogue by the United Nations and the West,
it seems unlikely that the EU will ease its sanctions to allow the
Burmese government to be represented at the London meeting.

"We know that it would be a very negative gesture by the EU to refuse
Burma membership in the Asia-Europe meeting," a Europe diplomat said.


January  25, 1997

BYLINE: There are tanks on the streets and troops brandish bayonets, but can
 Burma's  junta suppress popular dissent for much longer? Greg Torode visits
Rangoon and forecasts a sticky year for the generals

    Political power, said Mao Zedong, comes from the barrel of a gun. Now in
Rangoon, more than 40 years later, the gun is becoming an omnipresent symbol.
Indeed,  Burma's  military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC), has entered the new year decidedly on edge.

Walk around the placid streets of this capital city and it is hard to spot
even a police officer. Yet underneath the festival lights at City Hall in the
town centre lie a row of five T-62 tanks, extra machine-guns mounted skywards
on their turrets.

Follow saffron-robed monks towards the Shwedagon pagoda at dusk as the
last rays of the sun fall like shards from its giant golden stupa and you find
yourself amid the motorcade of colonels and generals leaving the Defence
Ministry down the street.

Hymns ring out from St John's Catholic Church across the road but they
are drowned by the whistles and jackboots of soldiers piling from armoured
trucks. The troops block the road and swiftly clear a path for a convoy of their
bosses' Audi 100s. Even the windows are jet black.

Suddenly the monks and parishioners have gone. The street is filled with
nothing but barbed wire and young soldiers wielding snub-nosed Uzi machine
-guns and AK-47 semi-automatics.

Saunter into the leafy suburbs surrounding the downtown area and all
seems quiet in the lush gardens and villas. But look closely on some street
corners and you will see soliders in camouflage beneath the frangipani
bushes, bayonets glinting.

It is all hard to spot at first. But the locals all know what is out there.
Chat quietly about the regime to anyone in this gentle, tolerant city and the
reaction is the same. A discrete sideways glance, then a grimace and the make
-believe action of a soldier holding a very large gun.

    "It's not just the weapons that people think about now," one local
shopkeeper explains.

"Have you seen the size of the bayonets! No one seems to talk about politics
anymore, just about the guns."

As the new year gets underway after a mysterious Christmas Day bombing of
a Rangoon pagoda and the most sweeping student protests since the 1988
uprisings, many here are wondering if 1997 will see more trouble as some of
Rangoon's contrasts finally converge.

The same contrasts loom within the junta, for to meet with SLORC is an
exercise in the enigmatic. 

At its very top level, it remains one of the most secretive and feared
regimes of any in the region, with the United Nations increasingly concerned
at human rights abuses such as forced labour and political jailings. Not
even the most seasoned  Burma -watcher knows for sure how the power is
broken up between
former military strongman Ne Win, supposedly retired and in ill health, and
the current SLORC leadership headed by Senior General Than Shwe and
intelligence boss Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt.

Their views are reflected daily in the New Light of  Myanmar,  an English
-language mouthpiece that circulates nationwide. By any standards, it is a
propaganda pit-bull of a paper.

Recent issues have devoted whole editions to sweeping conspiracies in which
"innocent" students have been manipulated by a cabal comprising Aung San Suu
Kyi's National League for Democracy, die-hard communists and foreign
subversives, such as the Voice of America.

The claims run for page after page next to advertisments for SLORC's rough
and ready mantras: "The People unite to crush all internal and external
destructive elements and stooges" and "Uplift the morale and morality of the
entire nation".

But one or two levels down in SLORC and you find people disturbingly similar
to those you meet on the streets of Rangoon - outwardly gentle, keen to talk
and strikingly spiritual.

At the same time, they insist the guns and the tanks are needed as "special
precautions" to counter "dangerous chain-reactions".

Phone a senior defence intelligence boss and you get straight through; there
is no face-giving run-around or a wall of secretaries.

Talk at length with top officers and it can be hard to divorce the naivety
from the attempted openness. Here, for example, is what Lieutenant-Colonel
Thane Han said in response to questions about the junta's forced labour
policies in the countryside:

"We just want peace. The military is one organ of unity in this country, and
to develop and to keep the people happy we must develop the poorer areas,
build roads, dams, schools and get them electricity and help them farm.

"The people want this and everyone who works for us is a volunteer. We have
no problems getting volunteers.

"No one is paid directly for the work but the village as a whole gets
something, maybe a new school-house or power cables.

"People seem happy with this. They know we have many drawbacks, the biggest
one being a severe lack of earth-moving machinery. This is a big problem and
a very important point."

Young Kyaw can vouch for the lack of earth-moving machines. At 14, he is
working in one of the many road gangs you see deep in the countryside and in
the mountains.

He is busting white rocks the size of footballs into smaller pieces. He has
given up using a hammer and is slowly lifting and dropping one rock on to
the other.

Three women, faces covered by dust, their clothes in rags, walk silently as
if moving in slow motion. They sit, pick up the rocks and place them in ratan
baskets and carry them on their heads to the edge of road. No one speaks.

A soldier lies out of the midday sun under a tree nearby. A floppy green hat
covers his face and a shiny, smooth stick rests across his stomach.
"He likes to sleep," says Kyaw. "We work slowly and quietly and we never
wake him. He gets us good food and I don't think he wants to hurt us.

"But we know we must work - he is a soldier and we don't want to see him angry."

Kyaw is working near Inle Lake in the wild, mountainous Shan State in
eastern  Burma.  Much of the state remains off-limits to foreigners as the
army mops up after recent peace deals with a trio of ethnic rebel groups,
including the forces of heroin warlord Khun Sa.

Kyaw says his village is more than three hours away and he stays in a
dormitory. He has been working six hours a day for more than month, and he
doesn't know for how much longer he will have to work. He says he misses the
laughter of all the people in his village.

"Everyone working here is too tired to talk. There is no fun, and I think it
is very hard on the adults."

No one asked him his age, but the army said every family that could provide
help must do so. He does not know what will be given to his village in return
for his efforts.

Just up the road is one of the big red billboards that dot the landscape:
"Respect the Motherland. Respect the Law." Most of the locals around, it
seems, are not so high-minded, merely seeking a peaceful, simple existence.

The threat of forced labour is a distant fear for many, and daily concerns
are those of the hip-pocket - rice harvest taxes, soaring "under-the-table"
costs for health care and education. They worry about splits in the society
under market reforms, particularly the emergence of elites.

"There is no point to reform if everything is going to cost a lot more and
our lives suffer," says one Taungyyi trader.

"Everyone must be better off, not just the sons and daughters of those in
the army and those in army businesses."

Buddhism continues to play a key part in the lives of many farmers and
country folk. Travelling through the countryside, great gilded stupas rise
constantly from the horizon.

In inland Mandalay,  Burma's  second largest city and a key link between
the mountains to the north and east and the lowlands, young monks are closely
watching the society under SLORC. They are ever wary of the strong bond
between top monks and the junta, but gather frequently, and discretely, with
the town's students.

"We are monks. We cannot be interested or involved in politics. That is very
clear," one young monk says.

"But we must be concerned always of the suffering of the people. We must
know what is going on among our people. We cannot ignore this." An audience
of students gathering over pastries and tea in a Mandalay cafe cheer his words.

Other students talk freely of more trouble ahead, but equally of fears over
the security forces based out of sight behind the moat and barricades of the
old Mandalay fort.

"Each move has to be very well planned, there are informers everywhere
now," another student says.

"It has to be said there is a lack of trust among even us now. The SLORC
speaks to everyone, even our parents."

The students admit to being a little cowed, and say while more protests
are likely, they will be probably kept to student issues for safety. "For
the time being, we are happy to just have tea together," the student says.

    "There is not much else to do. They have kept our schools closed since
the protests." 

Most express their defiance in quiet ways, wearing boots, black
leather jackets and hair down to their waists. Hard rock anthems from the
1970s blare during every gathering and SLORC has even tried to co-opt some
local bands to blast out pro-junta songs to compete. But instead the current
favourite is the 1979 hit Dream Police by American band Cheap Trick. You
hear it everywhere around the city:

    I try to sleep, they're wide awake
    They won't let me alone
    They don't get paid or take vacations
    Or let me alone

    In the cafes, the atmosphere is feisty and lively and the mood optimistic.

Back in Rangoon, however, at the villa of Aung San Suu Kyi on University
Avenue, leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) admit to a quiet

Some 20 NLD officers have been arrested following the student protests,
and many fear long prison sentences despite claims they were not involved.

"Day in and day out, I have to say the last few months have been very tough
on our organisation," one leader says.

"It's especially tough for those working for us in the countryside. SLORC
are doing everything to break us in so many big and small ways. Many of us
are tired but we won't give up. Suu Kyi is everything to this organisation."

He is not even sure of current membership figures and worries that the
pressure is causing internal splits over the best way forward.

The leader is speaking at the site of the first political rally in months,
held at her house on the anniversary of Independence Day. The date is loaded
with memories of her father Aung San, founder of the army, whose battles for
independence saw him assasinated.

Police barricades block access to both sides of the street, but those with
invitations can get through. Inside the villa's gardens it is a communal
atmosphere. Old women are frying up spring rolls in steaming tureens as
former political prisoners chat to the many people who live in the compound,
some too scared to leave.

Suu Kyi has the crowd breaking into thumping applause, calling for "good
government" and a "democratic  Burma" , and for a few minutes people seem
liberated from their fears.

Sitting alone afterwards, Suu Kyi says her organisation must continue its
non -violent quest, despite the problems. Pulling constantly on a white
handkerchief, she says SLORC's hard line will ultimately work against it.

"It will be having an impact out there, that is certain," she says.

"But I think there must be a limit to what people can take. They are fed up
with being afraid the whole time, of the corruption.

"We will do what we have to do, we are prepared to face the consequences.
They will never win."


January 28 1997

Campaign now turns to federal sanctions in Canada

Human rights advocates celebrated as a six-year campaign ended
with PepsiCo's announcement that it will totally withdraw from
Burma by May 31st. PepsiCo sells Pepsi and 7up in Burma under the
brutal State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

Next target is Canadian sanctions

Canadian Friends of Burma has just launched a campaign for
sanctions. Why? Boycotts will not work against Canadian mining
and gas firms (at least eight so far) that flock to plunder
Burma's resources. Meanwhile, Burmese textile imports to Canada -
- made under sweat-shop conditions in partnership with SLORC --
have more than tripled in three years (_Dirty_Clothes:
Dirty_System_, CFOB). All these companies operate in Burma with
the unwitting support of the Canadian people. Terry Cottam is
with OPIRG-Carleton, the campus-based group which brought the
Pepsi boycott to North America. He argues: "Burma's elected
democrats ask Canadian companies not to invest in their country.
Their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is calling for sanctions. It was
her party that won the 1990 elections. We Canadians should
respect their wishes -- especially since SLORC will not!"

CONTACT:  Christine Harmston, Coordinator, Canadian Friends of
          Burma, (613) 237-8056
          Reid Cooper, Coordinator, Burma-Tibet Group, OPIRG-
          Carleton, 520-2757
          PepsiCo, Inc. (914) 253-3077

Web page: http://freeburma.org