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The BurmaNet News: May 22, 1998 (r)
Re:>BURMANET EDITOR'S NOTE: NEWS OF INDONESIA IN BURMA
Thanks for this news.
This type of "news black out" is expected under this military regime in
Burma. But, I can promise you this. At this age of Information
Technology, it will be impossible to suppress news like this anymore.
What is happening in Indonesia is basically a warning to the
illegitimate rulers in Burma that it is time to let go of the power to
the rightful people who have won the general elections in May 1990 in an
orderly and peaceful manner.
In Burma, we not only have a highly debased currency, non-ticking
econonmy and unstable livelyhoods of people, we have all the attributes
that could lead to a social upheaval. Corruption in government,
neoptism, un-lawful detention,imprisonment,torture,rape, itimidation and
human-rights violations.You name it, we have it.
So, it is a matter of time before a social upheaval breaks out in Burma
unless all Ne Win cronies are removed and a real negotiations are taking
place with NLD and all the ethnic groups.
Minn Kyaw Minn
>From notes@xxxxxxx Fri May 22 04:56:27 1998
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>Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 04:16:51 -0700 (PDT)
>Reply-To: Conference "reg.burma" <burmanet-l@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: The BurmaNet News: May 22, 1998
>To: Recipients of burmanet-l <burmanet-l@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
> "Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
>The BurmaNet News: May 22, 1998
>BURMANET EDITOR'S NOTE: NEWS OF INDONESIA IN BURMA
>BANGKOK POST: NLD PLANS MEETING
>BI (COMMENTARY): SCHOOL OF RAPE, THE BURMESE MILITARY
>BI: ENHANCED ROLE FOR UNHCR ON THAI-BURMA BORDER
>ABSDF: STATEMENT ON SUHARTO'S RESIGNATION
>REUTERS: SUHARTO EXIT GIVES ASIAN LEADERS AWAKENING
>BURMANET EDITOR'S NOTE: NEWS OF INDONESIA IN BURMA
> 22 May, 1998
>Although the officially sanctioned media sources in Burma have
>any news of the revolutionary developments in Indonesia (see ABSDF and
>Reuters postings below concerning Suharto's resignation), people inside
>Burma are getting some news of the Indonesian people's uprising.
>from inside state that many people are tuning in to radio broadcasts
>outside of Burma (BBC, VOA, RFA, and DVB) and have been kept apprised
>the situation. In addition, those with satellite access to television
>channels such as CNN are videotaping the reports on their televisions
>making copies of the broadcasts for distribution.
>While it is still too early to predict or evaluate the impact on Burma
>the Indonesian uprising, many suspect that the rumored opening of some
>universities, planned for June, will once again be delayed.
>BANGKOK POST: NLD PLANS MEETING
>22 May, 1998
>Rangoon -- Burma's opposition National League for Democracy plans a
>gathering to mark the eighth anniversary of its 1990 landslide election
>that was annulled by the ruling military, party sources said yesterday.
>BURMA ISSUES (COMMENTARY): SCHOOL OF RAPE, THE BURMESE MILITARY AND
>April, 1998 By V. Coakley
>In July 1997, Burma signed and ratified the 1979 international
>to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Under
>CEDAW, state parties are obligated to protect women against violence.
>Within a year of signing, state parties must submit a report to the
>Secretary General on the measures adopted -- legislative, judicial,
>administrative or other - to protect women against discrimination, and
>the country's progress toward the goals outlined in the convention.
>Compliance with the convention necessarily means that governments take
>responsibility for the practices of their armed forces, punishing
>perpetrators of rape to illustrate that it is not acceptable behavior.
>Burma's report to the CEDAW committee is due later this year.
>EarthRights International's (ERI) latest report entitled, School of
>The Burmese Military and Sexual Violence, (1) analyzes the connection
>between perpetrators and acts of rape in Burma. Rape by the Burmese
>military, particularly against ethnic minority women, is endemic
>areas of conflict in Burma. The report argues that the Burmese
>is not providing the ethnic women of Burma adequate protection against
>violence by the armed forces; that in fact, the military system itself
>fosters extreme abuses.
>Rape is not an easy topic for discussion, much less investigation, as
>rape victims understandably will not discuss their experience directly.
>the systematic raping of women seems an integral part of war,
>as a weapon in psychological warfare. Knowledge that the armed forces
>use rape as a weapon spreads terror. Rape also serves as a means of
>against ethnic insurgent fighters. It is a direct way of waging war on
>women as it deprives women of their dignity, and it often results in
>lasting trauma. In a culture which places a high value on virginity,
>social stigma may burden the victim long after the worst of the trauma
>past. The stigma is even greater for a woman who becomes pregnant
>rape and carries the baby through to full term. In this way rape can be
>perceived as part of an ethnic cleansing strategy, as well as a
>psychological weapon of war. The forcible impregnation of ethnic
>women decreases the number of ethnic minorities by creating more
>births," and more deaths resulting from sexually transmitted diseases,
>botched abortions, suicides, and actual injuries or deaths resulting
>Rape is an act of violence which cannot be viewed out of the context in
>which it is perpetrated. It is an integral component of the civil war
>Burma. Its prevalence in Burma is enabled by a number of larger
>factors, which ERI has summarized as follows:
>* The exalted status of the military in Burma, which enables soldiers
>commit criminal acts with impunity;
>* The militarization of Burmese society, in which notions of
>and femininity are played out on the battlefields and in the villages,
>soldiers ' bodies as weapons and women's bodies as targets; and
>* The subordinate status of women in Burma.
>The report in seeking to analyze the underlying causes of rape by
>soldiers, examines characteristics of the Tatmadaw [Burma Army] that
>problematic and give rise to rape. In particular, it concludes that the
>following aspects of the Burma Army make military rape predictable:
>* The age of Tatmadaw soldiers. Many soldiers are under 17 years old.
>lack the maturity, the moral development, or the emotional strength to
>resist indoctrination of the Tatmadaw. Their youth makes them
>susceptible to a military ideology in which masculinity is defined by
>ability to dominate and commit brutality against the "enemy."
>* The soldiers ' education level. Most soldiers lack even basic
>and many are illiterate. They are without skills or grounding in the
>of war. Many have no alternative employment opportunities. This creates
>corps of armed men and boys ruled by ignorance.
>* The recruitment methods. Many soldiers are kidnapped or otherwise
>forcibly conscripted. In addition, other soldiers join the Tatmadaw to
>escape arrest for crimes, sometimes violent, that they commit.
>Indiscriminate recruitment means inappropriate candidates are inducted.
>* The training methods. The training focuses on building fear rather
>skills. Soldiers are instructed, through example and practice, in
>By the end of their training, they have become both pupils and teachers
>the art of violent degradation.
>* Disciplinary techniques. Punishment is inconsistent, inappropriate,
>unpredictable, and generally brutal. In addition, soldiers are called
>to punish their peers. This creates a culture of perpetual fear and
>victimhood where it is expected that force will be used to punish
>* Daily treatment. Soldiers are virtually starved, given inadequate
>clothing and equipment, and forced to act as slaves for their officers.
>Their valuelessness is confirmed by the withholding of salaries and
>attention. A rigid hierarchy is created in which rank-and-file
>soldiers have very low morale, and officers commit atrocious acts
>* Isolation from support networks. Soldiers generally are prohibited
>visiting their families and, in many cases, from sending and receiving
>mail. To the extent they develop camaraderie with one another, it is
>on harmful rituals of brutality they are forced to execute. In
>they are discouraged from developing trust within their units through
>self-punishment practices and enmity between officers and soldiers.
>Isolation and loneliness induce extreme behavior. * Excessive use of
>alcohol and, in some cases, drugs. Many soldiers are frequently drunk,
>sometimes on the front lines. In addition, some reports indicate that
>soldiers use drugs including marijuana and heroin. Drunkenness is
>without question and drug abuse is often overlooked if not actually
>encouraged. Substance abuse and uncontrolled aggression are invariably
>* Bigotry and sexism in the Tatmadaw Soldiers are often indoctrinated
>view ethnic minority groups in Burma as inferior to ethnic Burmans. In
>addition, an attitude of strong disrespect for women, especially toward
>minority women, is reinforced through behavior by officers.
>The Tatmadaw, like all militaries, is a hierarchical institution.
>soldiers are at the bottom of the pyramid and suffer the most, because
>the least powerful members, they are subject to more potential abusers.
>However, because there is a pecking order of brutality in the Tatmadaw,
>even officers are subject to abuse by their superiors. Through its
>hierarchical structure, policies, and practices, the Tatmadaw transmits
>ethos of violent masculinity to everyone who serves.
>Soldiers are taught that victory over the enemy depends on their
>masculinity, that, in turn gets defined as their ability to fight, to
>dominate, to commit violence.
>At the same time, the Tatmadaw creates a paradoxical situation in which
>but the highest officers are situated as both vulnerable victims of
>and masculine warriors. Such a paradox breeds confusion, which is often
>resolved through violence. When Tatmadaw soldiers and officers --
>subject to this paradox -- have the opportunity to demonstrate their
>masculinity, they take it. This means they seek to dominate and violate
>those in more vulnerable circumstance: women. Brutality breeds
>and the prevalence of rape by brutalized Tatmadaw soldiers and officers
>the predictable result of the cycle of violence played out between the
>military and the ethnic insurgents. (3) Ultimately, it is the state
>must take responsibility for the actions of its armed forces. As ERI
>out, the ethos within Burma's Tatmadaw has direct bearing in turn on
>treatment of civilians. The ethnic minority women of Burma are
>vulnerable in this civil war. As a state party to the CEDAW, the
>government has an obligation to ensure that the discriminatory actions
>the armed forces against ethnic minority women, rape being one
>manifestation, are not sanctioned. The international community must be
>aware of the reality the ethnic women of Burma face under the Burmese
>government's tacit knowledge and acceptance, and voice its disapproval
>the government's report comes under scrutiny.
>Endnotes, 'School of Rape'
>1 Betsy Apple, School of Rape: The Burmese Military and Sexual
>EarthRights International, 1998, pp. 41-45 and 91-94. The report can be
>ordered from ERI: PO Box 12, Lard Phrao Bangkok 10901, Thailand; Tel/
>66 2 512 2051; e-mail earth@xxxxxxxxxxx
> 2 B. Apple, 1998, ibid., p. 41-45.
> 3 B. Apple, 1998, ibid., p. 13-16.
>BURMA ISSUES: ENHANCED ROLE FOR THE UNHCR ON THE THAI-BURMA BORDER
>April, 1998 By V. Coakley
>Following [attacks] on several camps along the border in March 1998,
>Thailand's Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai announced that the United
>High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would be allowed to play a role
>managing aid for refugees and administering the camps. (1) A recent
>seminar, attended by representatives from the Thai government and
>and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), was held in Bangkok to
>the future of the refugee camps, as well as the UNHCR's potential role
>the borders Though plans have not yet been finalized, the seminar made
>clear that significant changes are imminent in the administration of
>To date, Thailand has allowed the UNHCR only limited access to the
>refugee camps and has been asked to help on a case-by-case basis.
>has been concerned that the presence of the UNHCR would attract more
>seekers across the border, and the refugee camps would become more
>permanent. However, the Royal Thai Army has faced increasing criticism
>its inability to protect the 116,000 refugees in camps from
>attacks. This year has already seen repeated attacks on Huay Kaloke
>Wangka), Bae Klaw (aka Mae La) and Mawker camps, and other camps are
>currently on alert fearing further attacks. The Thai government now
>UNHCR presence will provide more protection for the refugees, and help
>deflect criticism for inadequate security when the camps are threatened
>At the seminar, possibilities were discussed for the relocation of the
>refugee camps to more secure sites within Thailand. Lt. Gen. Sanan
>Kajornklam, Special Adviser for the Thai Office of the Supreme Command,
>suggested consolidating all the existing camps into a single camp, as
>occurred in the Cambodian situation. The camp would be located as much
>fifty kilometers inside Thailand, in order to ensure better protection.
>This necessarily depends on border security - how easy it is to move
>Thailand from the border.
>UNHCR's assistance in establishing a single Burmese refugee camp would
>entail a different administration structure than is currently used. The
>existing camps are small replicas of villages and are mainly located
>to the area of Burma where the refugees originally fled from. They are
>administered by a camp committee composed of local members. It is a
>cost-effective administration structure in this context, and arguably
>better than administration from managed completely from the outside as
>allows for local involvement in running the camps. In addition, there
>be an increase in social problems and tensions if people from different
>locations and with different affiliations are all grouped together. A
>camp run by the UNHCR will make refugees more aid dependent than they
>already are, as the administration of the camps could become outside of
>their control, and the increased dependency may foster a reluctance to
>return to Burma.
>Gen. Sanan welcomed the role the UNHCR could play in financing such a
>and mediating to draw financial support from other countries. This
>brought a response from the Burmese Border Consortium (BBC)
>as the BBC has been coordinating humanitarian assistance to the camps
>the last decade. Around eleven countries provide aid assistance to the
>existing camps through the BBC, and the programs permitted have been
>determined by Thai policy. Careful thought should be given to replacing
>existing structure with something bigger until the parameters of Thai
>policy are known. Finance is not the real issue. The NGOs working along
>border have only been able to provide the assistance permitted under a
>restrictive Thai policy.
>The UNHCR would be responsible for a refugee registration process,
>would entail identifying ethnic group, political or other memberships
>affiliations, and needs prior to repatriation. Screening is a
>issue in this context. A number of the refugees are family members of
>people belonging to various political and insurgent organizations, and
>there exist significant hostilities and rivalries between groups. This
>suggests potential security problems in the camp due to these tensions,
>NGOs will protest if people are refused protection.
>After the camps burned in March, army chief Gen. Chettha Thanajaro
>announced that "only women, children and old people would remain at the
>refugee camps, while adult males would be removed and repatriated."3
>year in March at Bong Ti, male children as young as 14 were classified
>"able-bodied men" and repatriated to Burma on a similar rationale. Such
>policy of selective protection is a clear violation of humanitarian
>principles. Gen. Chettha's statement has not been repeated, and it
>clear that such a simplistic solution is unlikely to become policy.
>However, such statements emphasize the need for the UNHCR's screening
>process to be managed both impartially and independently.
>The Thai government is concerned that allowing the UNHCR an enhanced
>along the border may upset Rangoon. Although the UNHCR's work is
>humanitarian and nonpolitical, the Burmese government views the agency
>representatives of the western community which it repeatedly
>Thailand is no doubt concerned that by upsetting its volatile neighbor,
>existing and potential economic agreements could be threatened.
>Thailand also wants to solve the expensive and often embarrassing
>problem, and realizes that it will only be safe and acceptable to send
>refugees back when the civil war ends.
>Gen. Sanan acknowledged that the root of the problem is the Burmese
>government's aim to abolish the ethnic minorities who do not support
>government. Until there is a political resolution in ethnic minority
>refugees will continue crossing the border. Thailand must do what it
>encourage a political resolution to this crisis. Within ASEAN
>of Southeast Asian Nations), constructive engagement with the military
>government may be the best option. However, it was noted that up to
>point, the Burmese have been very self-contained and difficult to
>they listen but do not respond to suggestions.
>Gen. Sanan emphasized that a time frame must be established for the
>involvement, and proposed that their involvement be structured to last
>between three and five years, with the shortest time frame preferred.
>However, he acknowledged that much depends on the internal situation in
>Burma. He pointed out within the next five years Burma's new
>currently being drafted under management of the SPDC, is due to be
>and promised elections held. It is too early to predict exactly when
>ill-famed constitution will be finished and preparations for an
>would begin, or whether such elections would be UN-supervised. It will
>nevertheless be important that the refugees are able to participate in
>The UNHCR's role on the Thai-Burma border will be clarified over the
>few months. The main question is what is the appropriate role for the
>UNHCR, and how will Thai policy change regarding programs and
>permitted inside the camps. The proposed time frame for the UNHCR's
>involvement starts with protection and necessarily ends with a
>repatriation program. Such a plan cannot be cast in stone by the UNHCR
>the Thai government. The attitude of the Burmese junta towards the
>minorities will ultimately determine the time frame for repatriation
>the nature of the UNHCR's participation. Thailand's refugee situation
>not end without a political resolution agreed upon and adhered to by
>concerned. The international community needs to carefully monitor the
>progress on this issue, and demand accountability and transparency from
> 1 The UNHCR can only assist in refugee situations upon invitation from
>refugee host country. To be involved in a repatriation program, the
>must be invited to assist by the country of origin and the host
> 2 The seminar, entitled "Burmese Refugees Status and Solution," was
>on April, 1998, hosted by ForumAsia and the Asian Research Centre for
>Migration, at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
> 3 ``Karen men in refuge sites to be repatriated," Bangkok Post, 26 Mar
>ALL BURMA STUDENTS' DEMOCRATIC FRONT: ABSDF WELCOMES SUHARTO'S
>21 May, 1998
>The All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) welcomes the
>of Indonesian President Suharto on May 21, 1998 as a response to the
>of the Indonesian people. We hope this move will pave the way for a new
>of political reforms in the Republic of Indonesia.
>The ABSDF heartily congratulates the victory of the Indonesian people,
>including the students of Indonesia who, through commitment and
>perseverance, have struggled to oust President Suharto and bring
>political reforms to their country.
>"The resignation of President Suharto presents a wonderful opportunity
>the beginning of social and political changes in Indonesia. The success
>the people power in Indonesian will have a huge impact on the people of
>Burma. It will be a great encouragement to them," said ABSDF General
>Secretary Aung Thu Nyein.
>Just as the people of Burma followed the developments in the
>when the late President Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, the people have
>closely following the news from foreign radio broadcasts on the
>developments in Indonesia.
>Despite the fact that the situations in Burma and Indonesia are very
>similar, the ABSDF sees a striking difference between the two regimes.
>President Suharto admitted to and apologised for the mistakes he has
>whereas the military regime in Burma has condemned peaceful
>as "anarchism" and has continued to commit gross human rights
>In addition, the Indonesian army has restrained from using violence
>The ABSDF also commends the Indonesian army for maintaining a
>stance which unlike the Burmese military has refrained from using
>methods to crack down on the students and the people of Indonesia. The
>ABSDF hopes that the army will continue to act in this manner.
>The ABSDF extends our solidarity with the Indonesian students and fully
>supports the aspirations and commitment of the students who have
>spearheaded peaceful rallies throughout Indonesia leading to the
>resignation of President Suharto.
>REUTERS: SUHARTO EXIT GIVES ASIAN LEADERS A WARNING
>21 May, 1998 By Jonathan Thatcher
>BurmaNet Editor's Note: This article has been edited. Sections that
>been cut are indicated by [ ... ].
>Manila -- For Indonesia's nervous neighbours, President Suharto's
>resignation is a huge relief. But it comes with a blunt message to
>Asian leaders tempted to overstay their welcome.
>The aging Indonesian president on Thursday relinquished his position as
>Asia's longest-serving political leader after months of economic crisis
>which turned into mass protest and rioting that finally broke his hold
>"It creates psychological waves through the region...other governments
>be behaving with Suharto at the back of their minds,'' University of
>Philippines political science professor Alex Magno said.
>``This is really a trend in Asia. It is a healthy one,'' added Abdul
>Baginda, executive director of the Malaysian Strategic Research
>It was a trend, he said, that began 12 years ago in the Philippines
>huge ``people power'' protests ended with the downfall of dictator
>Similar, spontaneous uprisings spread as far as East Europe where
>regimes were crumbling.
>In Asia, ``people power'' spawned anti-government protests in Burma in
>1988, in China a year later and Thailand in 1992.
>But only in Thailand could the demonstrators claim any success.
>in China and Burma kept the loyalty of the military which shot
>from the streets.
>[ ... ]
>[Suharto's] departure, say some analysts, is a sign of the times that
>authoritarian style of leadership has run its course in Asia.
>``I am in disagreement with the (former Singapore prime minister) Lee
>Yew thesis that you need an authoritarian government to have
>development...that model is to say the least, questionable,'' Malaya
>director of Institute for Strategic and Development Studies in Manila,
>``Regular elections, no matter how rambunctious, are better than people
>power. People power is the last resort,'' he added.
>Philippine President Ramos, a former general who helped lead the 1986
>"people power'' movement and who is now about to hand over power to a
>elected successor, was quick to point out the need to allow greater say
>``We hope this will provide a lesson for all of us here in the
>as well as in ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) that
>right approach perhaps...is to stay on the track of reform in
>with our people and the leaders of various sectors,'' he told
>Kim Byung-kook, political science professor at Korea University, was
>"Indonesia sends a message that the old form of rule -- general turned
>politician and using the military -- is outdated and is bound to fall."
>said damage from the Asian financial crisis has been the catalyst for
>change in much of the region. The other two countries hardest hit by
>crisis -- Thailand and South Korea -- have both since acquired new
>``If it was not for the IMF's (International Monetary Fund's) punishing
>package it wouldn't have come to this. The IMF is the hand-maiden of
>change,'' said Zainal Aznam, deputy director general of Malaysian's
>Institute of Strategic Studies.
>Widely publicised photographs of IMF managing director Michel
>standing with arms folded, looking down on Suharto while he signed an
>agreement to introduce tough reforms in exchange for loans, became a
>of the Fund's not always welcome power.
>Zainal said the development of the new international financial
>would be pivotal and with it the demands that government reveal more
>what they are up to.
>"The forces of democracy work with globalisation," he said.
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