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Breaking News (05/01/98)
- Subject: Breaking News (05/01/98)
- From: RANGOONP@xxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 09:33:00
The Rangoon Post working group strongly condemns the military regime self-
named SPDC that sentenced death penalties over the six democracy advocates. We
firmly stand that they are innocent and call for free and fair trials in
publics. We also call people of Burma and world community to standup for
injustice in Burma. It is time us to speak up the harsh repression over the
human rights advocates.
Financial Times (London)
April 30, 1998, Thursday LONDON EDITION 1
HEADLINE: Six face death penalty in Burma
Six face death penalty in Burma
Burma's military government sentenced six people to death for carrying
explosives. Four of them belong to a group the government has linked with Aung
San Suu Kyi's opposition democrats.
Agence France Presse
April 30, 1998 Myanmar -crackdown lead 09:31 GMT
HEADLINE: Student group fears secret crackdown after six sentenced to death
DATELINE: (ADDS junta comments, details of sentences)
BANGKOK, April 30 (AFP) - An exiled student group on Thursday accused
Myanmar's junta of launching a secret crackdown on opposition groups
the sentencing to death of six political activists.
The All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) said Myanmar's
regime had stopped publishing details of arrests in its official newspaper as
part of a campaign against opposition in the lead-up to the resumption of the
national convention possibly this year.
ABSDF foreign affairs secretary Aung Naing Oo said the junta was also
to stamp out dissent ahead of the re-opening of universities which were closed
more than a year ago.
"We are in the middle of a new crackdown and I would say there are a lot of
things going on that we don't know about," he said.
"They're trying to conceal what they're doing by keeping all these arrests
He said death sentences handed earlier this month to six men, including
former ABSDF members, showed Yangon was hardening it's stance against dissent
including its main rival, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
"This is some kind of reminder to anyone who wants to be associated with
opposition groups. Although there is always a lot of these sort of arrests in
Burma, this is something quite different," Aung Naing Oo told AFP.
The ABSDF claims more than 100 people -- including politicians, lawyers and
students -- were arrested or detained in January alone.
The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has said the six
sentenced to death were involved with the ABSDF's "armed terrorist group", a
claim the ABSDF denies.
A junta spokesman said they were caught with explosives and intended to
government buildings and assassinate top generals, adding that 33 other people
had recently been given terms of up to 10 years for involvement in the plot or
"activities to cause instigation and agitation in the country".
The Thailand-based ABSDF has issued regular press releases about the
spate of arrests, including the jailing of former parliamentarian San San for
years -- allegedly for talking to foreign media -- as well as a 15-year term
student leader Aung Tun, who had written a history of the student movement.
On Thursday the ABSDF said five more activists and leading figures in the
resistance movement were given prison terms of seven to 10 years for assisting
Aung Tun in his historical research.
Those sentenced were prominent lawyer Maung Maung Kyaw, student activists
Suu Win and Khin Moe Aye, journalist U Tha Ban and political campaigner Khun
Sai, the ABSDF said.
Aung Naing Oo said the military council -- which seized power in 1988 and
refused to recognise the NLD's landslide victory in 1990 elections -- was
to send a message to student activists.
He said the SPDC also wanted to cement its authority before the national
convention resumes after a break of more than a year, to continue its task of
drafting the isolated state's new constitution.
Myanmar (Burma) has not had a constitution for 10 years.
"They don't want anyone demonstrating when they resume the national
convention or re-open the universities," Aung Naing Oo said.
But an SPDC statement received Thursday accused the ABSDF and other
organisations" of running a smear campaign.
"This movement has been synchronised and coordinated to bring more
international pressure on Myanmar and to exploit the situation in the
of foreign direct investment," the statement said.
The United Nations and rights group Amnesty International this month
condemned human rights violations in Myanmar, which are said to include
rape, torture and forced labour.
On Monday the European Union agreed to extend sanctions against the regime
for another six months, saying it was abusing the basic rights of its people.
April 29, 1998
SECTION: No. 2311
HEADLINE: EU FOREIGN MINISTERS EXTEND SANCTIONS ON BURMA.
European sanctions will continue against Burma (Myanmar) for a further six
months, following an EU Council of Ministers' decision, passed without
discussion on April 27, to extend once again the common position adopted
originally on October 28, 1996 until October 29 of this year. The sanctions,
designed to put pressure on the military regime to improve its human and
rights record, include the expulsion of military personnel attached to
diplomatic representations in EU Member States, an arms embargo and the
suspension of non-humanitarian aid. Measures introduced more recently, such as
ban of the issue of visas to the regime's leadership and army officers and the
suspension of high-level government visits, will also continue.
April 30, 1998, Thursday
SECTION: Nationwide General News; Overseas News
HEADLINE: WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF
LOS ANGELES, April 29 AFP - Supporters of human rights and democracy in
Burma will begin a three-day fast on Sunday in 25 cities in four countries
protest ARCO's investments in Burma, Burma Forum announced today.
Demonstrators will also protest outside Atlantic Richfield Company's
(ARCO's) annual shareholder meeting in Los Angeles on Tuesday to demand that
company withdraw all investments from Burma.
\ "Hundreds of people will be joining the fast and the demonstration," said
Kevin Rudiger, one of those who will fast in Los Angeles. "Our message to ARCO
is very simple: stop supporting this murderous regime."
Burmese exile and demonstrator Khin Maung Shwe said that by continuing to
invest in Burma, ARCO was "helping to prop up a brutal army junta which is
terrorising my country".
April 30, 1998; Thursday 08:05 Eastern Time
SECTION: International news
LENGTH: 349 words
HEADLINE: Student group says Myanmar regime hands down jail terms
Myanmar -Prison Sentences, 1st Ld-Writethru
DATELINE: BANGKOK, Thailand
Myanmar's military regime has sentenced five people to long prison terms
for helping produce a history of the anti-government student movement, a group
of student exiles said Thursday.
The prison terms were the latest revealed by the All Burma Students
Democratic Front in a series of disclosures about recent court rulings against
activists, including death sentences for at least two people.
The five were reportedly charged with violating emergency and publication
laws by supplying historical background and information to Aung Htun to write
book. Aung Htun, a leader of the ABSDF, was sentenced to 15 years last month,
the group said.
Maung Maung Kyaw, a lawyer, and two ethnic leaders, Khun Sai and Tha Ban,
received 10-year sentences, the ABSDF said. Suu Suu Win and Khin Moe Aye,
student protest leaders, received seven years. All have served previous prison
terms related to opposition work.
The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, tolerates almost no
political opposition. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the
Nobel Peace Prize, has spent most of the last nine years under house arrest or
The government has accused the ABSDF of waging a disinformation campaign
has confirmed several of the prison terms disclosed by the ABSDF this week.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied in a
statement the ABSDF's assertion that none of the five had legal
The government generally claims the punishments were meted out for alleged
terror and treason offenses, rather than those cited by the ABSDF, such as
giving an interview to a foreign journalist or trying to pass a letter to a
The ABSDF was formed by students who went into exile and took up arms after
the military, which has ruled the country since 1962, bloodily suppressed
anti-government demonstrations in 1988.
Weakened by desertions and battlefield setbacks over the years, the group
says it has renounced armed struggle, but the government till regards it as a
The Washington Times
April 28, 1998, Tuesday, Final Edition
HEADLINE: Burma boycott targeted in lawsuit
BYLINE: Lorraine Woellert; THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A U.S. business group plans to mount a constitutional challenge this week
to a Massachusetts boycott of companies that do business in Burma.
The lawsuit could set up an debate pitting supremacy of international
treaties against America's free speech tradition. A ruling could affect more
than two dozen laws in states and localities across the country, including
Members of the National Foreign Trade Council, an umbrella group of large
industrial corporations, will file the suit in Boston this week, according to
people familiar with the case. The group's executives had no comment on the
The lawsuit, which has been in the works for about a year, targets a
Massachusetts law that prohibits state agencies from awarding contracts to
corporations that do business in Burma. Since the Massachusetts General
Assembly passed the law in 1996, it has been copied in cities, counties and
states nationwide, putting pressure on companies that risk losing billions of
dollars in local contracts.
Massachusetts Delegate Byron Rushing, Boston Democrat and author of the
Burma legislation, said he welcomed the lawsuit.
"We're looking forward to it," Mr. Rushing said. "We're advocates for
something. In order to build this movement, we want publicity, we want lots
lots of nice targets."
The Foreign Trade Council and USA Engage - an affiliate group formed to
protest boycotts and unilateral trade sanctions - announced their intention to
sue last summer. The case has been slow in coming in part because no single
company has been willing to take the brunt of negative publicity the lawsuit
sure to bring.
Foreign Trade Council officials yesterday wouldn't say who would be named
the plaintiff in the case.
The lawsuit also was delayed because there was no legal precedent for it.
"There were no cases at all challenging the anti- Burma law and very
of any relevance challenging the anti-South Africa law on which they are all
based," said David Schmahmann, a lawyer with the Boston firm Nutter, McClennen
Fish, which represents companies with interests in Burma.
Nevertheless, Mr. Schmahmann said, "There is plenty of law . . . that
strongly suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court ever saw this law they would
strike it down."
A key legal argument against local and state boycotts is the Federal
Commerce Clause which, among other things, requires the United States to speak
with one voice when it interacts with foreign countries.
But shooting down the Burma boycott would be akin to striking down "buy
American" and other selective-purchasing laws that advocates say are protected
by the First Amendment.
As such, any company named as a complainant in the trade council lawsuit
could suffer "a public relations meltdown," said Simon Billenness, of the
Franklin Research Institute, an investment firm that led the call for
Massachusetts' Burma boycott.
"It's going to publicly identify the company as defending business with a
brutal dictatorship," Mr. Billenness said. "It's also going to publicly
identify them with a lawsuit that's attacking the democratic process here in
Massachusetts was following in its own footsteps when it passed the
boycott two years ago. The law is nearly identical to one that imposed a
boycott on South Africa and planted the seeds for international sanctions that
helped end apartheid.
That was 20 years ago, however, and times have changed. Today, the United
States and its trading partners are bound by a set of international trade laws
under the World Trade Organization, a group that didn't exist during the
apartheid era. The anti- Burma law could violate WTO rules.
Mr. Rushing has proposed amending the anti- Burma law to make it WTO-
FT Asia Intelligence Wire
April 28, 1998
HEADLINE: Brunei Myanmar delegrates meet local businessmen
"Brunei businessmen at the moment are not yet involved in any business
activity with Myanmar.
However we look forward to trade and investment between the two countries.
Hopefully in the future, local entrepreneurs could pay a working visit to the
This was part of the welcoming remarks by President of Brunei National
Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hj Mohd Hassan while hosting a business
dialogue between businessmen from Myanmar and Brunei on Sunday at the
Centrepoint in Gadong.
Business delegates from Myanmar were led by Brig. General Abel, the
Minister at the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace and Development
Council of Myanmar and Major General Kyaw Than, its Minister of Commerce.
According to Myanmar delegates, such dialogue would cement friendship
the two parties, seek avenues for cooperation and promote trade and
The government of Myanmar has been striving hard to promote overall
development of the national economy to improve provisions of food, clothing
shelter for the people so as to improve their living standards.
In this connection, steps have been taken to ensure mass participation
maximum utilisation of the capabilities of people and to attract foreign
investment on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Agence France Presse
April 30, 1998 ADB- Myanmar 14:55 GMT
SECTION: Financial pages
LENGTH: 283 words
HEADLINE: Myanmar complains of being shut off from aid
DATELINE: GENEVA, April 30
Myanmar (Burma) complained bitterly on Thursday of having been "unfairly"
shut off from international financial aid for the past decade.
" Myanmar is a land with rich natural resources to be tapped for
purposes," finance minister Khin Maung Thein told Asian Development Bank
delegations gathered in Geneva for its annual meeting.
"Unfortunately, multilateral financial assistancs to Myanmar has been
unfairly suspended since 1988," he said.
The current Burmese regime, accused of systematic human rights violations
repression, took power in September 1988.
The close of aid spigots was particularly unjust on the part of ADB, which
had neglected Myanmar's development efforts. Yangon (Rangoon) had cooperated
with the Bank and had serviced its outstanding payments regularly, up to the
of 1997, he said.
"I would like to exhort the Bank to assist all member countries on an equal
footing, without any political bias", he added.
The minister stressed that foreign direct investment in the country was
increasing, reaching seven billion dollars by the end of March 1988.
Myanmar's economy grew by 4.6 percent during fiscal 1997/98. Gross
product growth for 1998/1999 is targeted at 6.2 percent, driven by
mining, tourism, manufacturing and energy, he said.
Myanmar would soon begin providing natural gas to Thailand following the
discovery of huge reserves in the country's Yandana and Yetagun fields which
foreign oil companies had been granted access to.
"The discovery of immense natural gas reserves...has placed Myanmar on
regional oil and gas map for the first time in thirty years," the minister
1998 BUSINESS TIMES, April 30
STEPHEN Hansford Petroleum (M) Sdn Bhd, a petroleum-based lubricant product
manufacturer, yesterday signed a joint venture agreement with S.T.O. Maldives
(Singapore) Pte Ltd for the export of its products to Myanmar.
Under the two-year agreement signed yesterday, S.T.O Maldives, the
wholly-owned subsidiary and trading arm of the State Trading Organisation of
Maldives, will import the products from Stephen Hansford and export them to
Managing director of Stephen Hansford, Mr Stefan Chew, hopes the agreement
will lead to the penetration of the Myanmar market in the next few years.
''The market in Myanmar for lubricant products is about US$ 6 million
RM3.77) a year. We hope to penetrate at least half of the market.
''We will also look into other areas besides the trading of products. For
example, we will see if we can start manufacturing the products there,''
Chew told reporters after the signing ceremony yesterday.
The signing was witnessed by Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Leo Michael
Stephen Hansford specialises in lubricant technology, but it is also
in the production and marketing of household and consumer products.
Chew also said that Stephen Hansford's overseas efforts are starting to
fruit in countries not only in the region (China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Taiwan
and Vietnam) as it will also implement projects in countries like New Zealand
Meanwhile, managing director of the State Trading Organisation of the
Maldives, Mr Mohamed Maniku said Maldives is seeking profitable international
''Maldives' economy has been highly dependent on tourism and seafood export
''To accommodate its diversification efforts, the Maldives Government
the State Trading Organisation about 13 months ago in Singapore as the
international trade and investment arm of the country,'' he added.
April 30, 1998; Thursday 06:23 Eastern Time
HEADLINE: Myanmar Bans Tinted Car Windows AP- Myanmar -Tinted-Window-Ban
DATELINE: BANGKOK, Thailand
Myanmar's military government has banned tinted windows on autos in the
capital, saying it needs to keep a clear view of potential criminals and
The ban is believed to have been instituted because of the kidnapping of a
well-known doctor's daughter in Yangon in February. The criminals used a car
with tinted windows.
Since March, the government has posted signs in gas stations urging
to remove the plastic tinting. Most refused, having paid up to $40 to have the
A notice in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper announcing the
said the fine for first-time offenders will be $20.
At $2 a customer, workers have been doing a brisk business removing the