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The Rangoon Post


These news are searched and posted by The Rangoon Post's working group in
Washington, DC, U.S.A.. More news and further information about Burma, please
contact to RANGOONP@xxxxxxxx  

AP Worldstream , November  20, 1997; Thursday 04:44 Eastern Time 

HEADLINE: Burmese military arrests landlord who rented office to democrats 
 Burma's  military government has arrested a landlord who agreed to rent an
office to democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, a party
official said Thursday. 
   The military arrested Thaung Aye, owner of a building in the South
Okkalapa township of Rangoon, on Wednesday. It also arrested the chairman of
the Okkalapabranch of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, Chit Khin. 
   Suu Kyi visited the township Sunday to search for a site to open a party
   The military government, which has ruled since 1962, says it is promoting
democracy in  Burma.  It did not respond to queries about the arrests. 
   The military has blocked recent attempts by Suu Kyi to conduct meetings at
various NLD offices around Rangoon by barricading the locations, detaining
her supporters and confining her to her home whenever she tries to leave to
political activities. 
   She is permitted to travel around the city provided she is not conducting
political work. 
   The military has said it insists she conduct political meetings inside her
lakeside compound. 
   Suu Kyi and her party leaders have invited 800 members, families of
political prisoners and diplomats to attend a celebration at her home Monday
for  Burma's national day. 

   The holiday commemorates a student uprising against British colonial rule
in 1920. 
   In advance of the holiday, the NLD issued a statement Thursday that
renewed its call for the military government to engage in a dialogue with the
party aimed at solving  Burma's  political, social and economic problems. 
   ''Almost 50 years have passed since  Burma  gained independence, but
 Burma  is still lacking in democratic freedoms and human rights,'' the
statement said. 
   It urged the people to support the NLD in its struggle to bring  emocracy
to  Burma.
The Seattle Times 
                   November  20, 1997, Thursday Final Edition 

 THE Seattle Times deserves congratulations for publishing Paula Bock's
extraordinary article on Burmese refugees fleeing the brutality of the
Burmese  military regime ("A land of War, a journey of the heart," Sept. 28).
In response
to that article, more than 350 Times readers have donated more than $ 20,000
so far to the small organizations providing relief to the refugees. We in the
area do have a role to play, and it is hard to exaggerate the positive effect
donations have on the morale of these refugees who often feel that the whole
world is ignoring their suffering. 
   But we must not only work to alleviate the symptoms of the campaign of
rape, torture and ethnic cleansing. We must also attend to the cause of the
problem: the illegitimate military junta in Rangoon, the State Law and Order
Council (SLORC), which is universally despised by the Burmese people, and
which acts like an occupying army in its own country. 
     Burma's  ethnic minorities are united with the beleaguered democracy
movement of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, winners of 82 percent of
the seats in SLORC-sponsored elections, in calling for a campaign of economic

pressure against the military regime. This campaign is gaining momentum. It
is working, and is driving the SLORC toward dialogue with the forces for
   Seattle can play its part by passing an ordinance, now being offered by
Council President Jan Drago, that would limit city contracts with companies
doing business with the SLORC. This is a local law, affecting only local
purchasing decisions. As in South Africa, it is international grass-roots
pressure that will bring about dialogue in  Burma.  This ordinance will cost
Seattle virtually nothing and will offer support and solidarity to the people
of Burma,  including the "Orchid Girls," their families and neighbors. (A
panel discussion on the proposed ordinance will be held on Dec. 2 at 9:30
a.m. in the council chambers. 
    The Seattle  Burma  Ordinance is clearly in keeping with both U.S.
foreign policy and local interests. President Clinton has already banned new
U.S. investment in  Burma  on national-security grounds, citing Burmese
complicity in the narcotics trade. Some 60 percent of the heroin on U.S.
streets comes from  Burma,  and much of it passes through the Port of
    According to the State Department, only five U.S. companies are known to
have active investments in  Burma.  One of them, Texaco, has announced its
withdrawal by the end of the year. No U.S. jobs are at stake in  Burma.  But
U.S. interests in democratization, human rights and counter-narcotics are
being undermined by the small number of companies that continue to prop up
 Burma's  generals. Do these companies deserve any of our tax money?  Clearly
    Seventeen cities (including New York, San Francisco and Oakland), one
county and the state of Massachusetts have passed similar laws, putting more
than $ 50 billion of contracts out of reach of the small number of companies
that choose to do business in  Burma.  Why? Because the elected leadership of
 Burma,  which overwhelmingly won elections voided by the military, has
openly called for sanctions against their own country. 
    When I visited Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon in June of 1996 (before she
was physically attacked by pro-military thugs and returned to house arrest),
she told me that the junta was nearly broke, due to corruption and
and that a campaign of economic pressure was the best way to force them into
negotiations. Since then, the Burmese economy has faltered further, and is
now described by the Far Eastern Economic Review as "on its knees." The
campaign is effective, and Seattle must do its part. 
    The proposed Seattle  Burma  ordinance is a legal, ethical, effective and
appropriate response to the unique crisis in  Burma:  
    -- It is a local law governing only local purchases, where the city has
the same freedom of choice as any other consumer. 
    -- It is consistent with U.S. policy, and part of a well-established
international campaign. 
    -- It targets an odious, violent regime that floods the world, our
country and our city with drugs. 
    -- It supports the legitimate, elected leaders of  Burma,  the only such
 democratic movement in the world that calls for sanctions against its own
    -- It follows the example of the successful South African anti-apartheid
 campaign, which proved that, in the right circumstances, international
actions such as Seattle's can and do make a difference. 
    The Seattle ordinance is supported by a broad coalition of business
people, labor organizations, student and teacher groups, religious
organizations and grass-roots political activists. All are united in their
belief that Seattle has
the right and the obligation to make purchasing decisions consistent with our
self-image as "A City That Cares."  
   As Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in July in Los Angeles: "It
only right that  Burma  is subject to international sanctions and consumer
boycotts." Seattle must join the campaign or face the shame of having ignored
 the plight of the Burmese people, the "Orchid Girls" among them. 
Larry Dohrs is a trade specialist, consultant to the Research and Policy
Reform Center, and to the  Burma  Project of the Open Society Institute. He
chairs the Seattle  Burma  Roundtable.
Copyright 1997 Associated Press   
                                 AP Worldstream 
                November  19, 1997; Wednesday 05:51 Eastern Time 
SECTION: International news 
LENGTH: 382 words 
HEADLINE: Influential Burmese officer defends military role in politics 
    A high-ranking officer in  Burma's  influential military intelligence
agency said Wednesday that the armed forces' role is not only to defend the
country but also to serve national development. 
    At a symposium, Col. Thein Swe said the military ''made every effort to
develop its human resources and assist in nation building.'' 
    Thein Swe, who serves with the military's office of strategic studies,
also said the military was ''utilizing its defense budget appropriations to
reap the most benefit for the country as a whole.'' 
    His comments came just three days after a major shakeup in the structure
and personnel of the military junta that has governed  Burma  since 1988.
Analysts in  Burma  said the changes were designed to bring in younger
leaders to the 
regime and relegate some members of the old guard to what are considered
ceremonial positions on the advisory board. 
    Ever since a 1962 coup toppled democracy in  Burma,  the army has ruled
    But since 1988 pro-democracy uprisings, the government has been under
strong international pressure to justify its role in politics, if not give it
    Many observers believe it will try to adopt the model of Indonesia, where
the military's role in national development is institutionalized by the
country's constitution. 
    ''Human resources development is of special importance in the area of
 defense, which will transform the armed forces into an organization that
will be able to contribute know-how and other forms of assistance for the
task of nation building,'' Thein Swe said Wednesday. 
    He explained in detail the infrastructure projects that the armed forces
had undertaken and the sacrifices the armed forces had made to combat
narcotic drugs. 
    Thein Swe also said that with high-tech advances in weaponry, it is vital
to raise the capability and efficiency of the armed forces. 
    In today's world, he said, there were advocates of the view that
''maintaining a standing armed force in peacetime is an unjustifiable
expense'' so it was necessary to shrink the armed forces and cut defense
    But in  Burma,  he said, the armed forces not only take sole
responsibility for defense, but also have been ''structured as a productive
establishment and rendered services to the country.''
Copyright 1997 Associated Press   
                                 AP Worldstream 
                November  19, 1997; Wednesday 08:05 Eastern Time 
SECTION: International news 
LENGTH: 232 words 
HEADLINE: Burmese opposition leader plans big reception for national day 
    Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, blocked in recent attempts to
hold neighborhood meetings of her National League for Democracy, is planning
a gathering of some 800 people next week at her residence, a colleague said
    Suu Kyi plans the gathering at her lakeside house to commemorate national
day next Monday, said her party's vice chairman, Tin Oo, who was contacted by
phone. The event commemorates the first university student boycott against
British colonial authorities 77 years ago. 
    The more than 800 people invited include family members of detained
political prisoners, old politicians and diplomats, another party official
    Tin Oo said the party had followed its usual policy of informing the
authorities about the planned event. 
    Last year, the party had to hold its national day celebration at Tin Oo's
house when authorities prevented it from gathering inside Suu Kyi's compound,
which was barred to public access. 
    In September, however, the military government gave the party permission
to celebrate its anniversary at her house. In October, it permitted a
celebration at her compound of a traditional festival to honor the elderly. 
    On the other hand, authorities blocked recent efforts to hold party
organizational meetings at branch offices in the capital by barricading the
areas and preventing Suu Kyi from leaving her house. 

                          November  19, 1997 Wednesday 

HEADLINE: COA takes a swing at oppressive regime 
BYLINE: Catherine Ivey Of the NEWS Staff 
 BAR HARBOR -- Little College of the Atlantic this week took on one of the
most repressive military regimes in the world. 
   In the first application of its " Burma  policy," the college rejected a $
9,000 bid from a Taiwanese computer company engaged in business with the
military junta that took over the democratic government of  Burma  in 1988,
renaming it  Myanmar.  
   Students and college officials hope the action sends a clear message to
companies that do business with the Southeast Asian country's corrupt
leadership, which has been declared guilty of widespread human rights
violations byinternational organizations, the U.S. Congress and the State
    "When businesses start seeing the loss of doing business there
outweighing the benefits of doing business there, we hope they will pull out
of the country," said Rob Fish, a sophomore who led a student movement,
including a fast, that encouraged the college to adopt the policy last year. 
    College officials said three bids, including one from the Taiwanese-based
Acer Computer Co., were received for the school's purchase of computers.
 According to the Washington, D.C.-based Investor Responsibility Research
Center, Acer has donated computer equipment to the  Myanmar  government and
has a distributor in the 
   College officials did not immediately recognize that Acer was on the list
of companies with which they were discouraged from doing business under the
    "I was reminded about it from a student," said Judy Allen, director of
computer services.  Although Acer's bid was the lowest, said Allen, it was
rejected when the company's ties to  Myanmar  were realized.  "There were
other computers of similar quality available so we went with another
manufacturer," she said. 
    COA's 250 students were declared the most politically active in the
country last year by the Princeton Review, a national college rating service.

    The college's action is believed to be the first case of a U.S.
institution refusing to do business with a foreign company with business ties
to the military junta, according to Simon Billenness, a senior analyst for
Franklin Research & Development, a Boston investment firm.  Billenness, whose
company advises clients on socially conscientious investments, said similar
consumer pressure on American companies prompted Pepsi-Cola and Texaco to
pull out of 
    He called the latest action from Maine important.  "Whenever another city
or university supports the democracy movement in  Burma,  the word gets into
 Burma  quickly.  This is quite encouraging to the people there that people
around the world support them through political and economic pressure," said
    The state of Massachusetts and 17 cities, including New York City and San
Francisco, have selective purchasing policies regarding  Myanmar.
  Lastwinter, Bar Harbor town councilors agreed to send a letter to President
Clinton about the issue after lobbying from COA students. 
    Although only a few colleges and universities have policies in place, the
student movement is taking hold.  Last year, Harvard College students
persuaded officials against giving Pepsi-Cola a $ 1 million contract with its
dining services.  Stanford University students defeated a plan to locate a
Taco Bell restaurant on campus for the same reason.  Taco Bell was owned by

These news are searched and posted by The Rangoon Post's working group in
Washington, DC, U.S.A.. More news and further information about Burma, please
contact at RANGOONP@xxxxxxxx