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The News from The Nation and Bangko
- Subject: The News from The Nation and Bangko
- From: mandalay@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 26 May 1998 20:42:00
1: Junta to Allow opposition ceremony
2: Suharto's fall raises tensions in Rangoon
3. Myanmar Opposition Gathering Planned despite Ban
4: 14 Burmese deported
1: Junta to Allow opposition ceremony
( Bangkok Post)
Must be 'in line with security regulations'
Burma's military government yesterday announced it would allow the
democratic opposition to hold a ceremony marking the anniversary of the
country's last national election in 1990.
In an announcement faxed last night to news agencies in Bangkok, the
government said it had approved the request of Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy (NLD) to hold a gathering today and tomorrow.
Earlier, exile dissident groups had said the League intended to hold the
meeting to celebrate its thwarted victory despite arrests made by the
regime, which they described as an effort to prevent it.
Earlier yesterday, the ruling State Peace and Development Council had
urged the party not to hold the congress in the interests of national
unity, but denied reports 16 members had been detained to stop them from
"They have been requested and informed by the relevant local authorities
of the need and importance of maintaining the prevailing peace, stability
and national unity in the country," a government official said. "They have
not been detained as alleged."
Attempts by Mrs. Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, to hold a
congress of supporters of her party at her home for the past three years
have been frustrated by the detention of party activists expected to attend.
The announcement of permission being granted for the meeting was qualified
with the statement that authorities informed the league "to conduct the
ceremony in accordance with the existing rules and regulations."
"Its difficult to say how many will attend the party congress," Aung Naing
Oo, a leader of the All Burma Students Democratic Front, said in Bangkok.
"The military have arrested some members from outer provinces with various
2: Suharto's fall raises tensions in Rangoon
( The Nation )
The generals wanted to adopt an Indonesian-style constitution, but
Suharto's downfall is a lesson to be learned from,
The government-controlled media in Burma has reported none of the
tumultuous events in Indonesia of the last month. Those who want to follow
news of Indonesia must listen to foreign broadcasting radio stations such
as the BBC, RFA and VOA.
Are the generals in Rangoon nervous? Some analysts in Rangoon say yes. As
tension heightened in Indonesia, troops rolled into Rangoon and took up
position in buildings, house and hospitals.
"They (the military) are scared," said a trader in Rangoon. Since students
and activists took to the streets in Indonesia to demand the resignation of
Suharto and his Cabinet a new business in Rangoon has flourished, the
selling videotapes of of CNN and BBC coverage of Indonesia. In Burma only
rich and high ranking officials can afford to install satellite dishes.
Burmese are keep to know what is going on in Indonesia, said Rangoon
residents. Not surprisingly, politically active students are more excited.
"If schools open now we will do the same thing as our fellow students in
Indonesia," said Soe Myaing (not his real name).
But the students are not alone in looking for connections with Indonesia.
Burma's generals also admired the Asean giant's political system. It has
been a well-know fact that the generals wanted to borrow Jakarta's New
Order system in there areas: the 1945 constitution, the dual function of
the military and the state ideology.
In the past Burmese leaders have told their Indonesian counterparts they
are interested in dwinfunsi or dual function. Subsequently the military
asked for its leading role in national politics to be enshrined at the
National Convention. But now the generals in Burma may change their minds.
Indeed things in Burma are not going very well. Analysts and dissidents
warn that social unrest could erupt at any time. Foreign businessmen who
were optimistic and hoping to do business in the country have now come to
the realisation that the authorities have little idea of how to run the
About 10 businessmen were briefly detained recently. Foreign-exchange
reserves are quite low. The authorities are banning exports and imports.
Meanwhile the value of the Kyat is dropping, with US$ now worth 290 Kyat in
the black market, although the official rate remains six to the dollar.
Not surprisingly many businessmen are suffering, and they are becoming
more outspoken and critical of the ruling junta's economic policies.
"They need to reform," one said
The junta, however, continues playing cat and mouse with its opponents.
Recently outspoken politicians and activists have been given heavy
sentences. Daw San San, a senior member of the National League for
Democracy (NLD), was sentenced by the State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC), as the junta is known, to 20 years in prison. She is now in her
60s. The reason: Daw San San spoke on the telephone to a reporter from the
In recent months six former student activists have been sentenced to death
for allegedly conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. A total of 38
activists have been accused by the junta of being terrorists.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains a virtual prisoner of her own home even
after her release from house arrest a couple of years ago, recently
remarked: "As far as I can see there has been to improvement at all. In
fact I could say that I am inclined to think that things have been got
Universities and colleges have been closed since 1996. "The Indonesia
crisis has alerted everyone in the region to the possibility of new
student-led unrest. I don't think they are going to re-open schools," one
Despite the fresh crackdown, harsh treatment and heavy sentences on
students, former activists and politicians are excited by the news of Suharto.
"They (Burmese generals) followed the Indonesia model; we will follow the
Indonesian students," Aye Aye in Rangoon said.
In the past strong anti-Indonesia and anti-Malaysia feeling were held by
Burmese dissidents as the leaders of the two countries became staunch
supporters of the Burmese junta.
In particular many pro-democracy and pro-NLD Burmese were upset with
Indonesia's support of the regime and strong business connections between
the Suharto family and the generals. Suharto paid a special private visit
to Ne Win's residence during his official visit to Burma two years ago. In
return the aging former dictator Ne Win visited Jakarta last year and met
Student leader Moe Thee Zun says: "We feel we are very close. We support
the movement in Indonesia."
"Burma now is like a volcano which can go off at any time," claimed a
dissident turned businessmen in Rangoon. "We are frustrated with the
current political situation because it is going nowhere."
Some dissidents who idle their time away in tea shops agreed, saying:
"What we are doing everyday is looking for a spark or someone who will come
to the streets and say: 'Lets start."
The student-led people-power movement in 1988 toppled the 26-year-old Ne
Win regime. Though Ne Win left in disgrace in 1988, his cronies hung on to
power. In the past the generals, also known as "Ne Win's sons," declared
that democracy and Its supporters were common enemies.
But recently, senior leaders, including the head of the SPDC, have made
more accommodating speeches. "There will be civilian rule." Foreign
Minister Ohn Gyaw told his Bangladesh counterpart during a visit there.
"We don't want to hold on to power for long," senior Gen Than Shwe
promised a public meeting. PM's Office Minister David Able recently asked
the people to be patient.
Analysts suggested the junta would make its response to demands for change
through the national convention, an on-again, off-again process which has
been postponed many times since it first meet in 1993. Sources thought the
junta might resume the convention in the near future. Widely considered a
sham convention, it was boycotted in 1995 by the NLD.
Rangoon was quite, but the air was pregnant with expectation that
something might happen soon as dissidents were encouraged by the events in
Indonesia. This no doubt explains the blackout of news about Indonesia and
the increased presence of troops in central Rangoon.
Some analysts feel the junta may soon be faced with a choice: real reform
or another outburst of violence that will return the country to the days
before the 1990 election. The stubborn generals in Rangoon are unlikely to
bow to pressure, but this year the Rangoon Club is facing tough challenges.
Growing dissent and social unrest are simmering. Sooner or later the
generals may find it hard to control.
3: Myanmar Opposition Gathering Planned despite Ban
Reuters ( The Nation )
By Sutin Wannabovorn
BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Myanmar's opposition National League for
Democracy plans to defy a government ban and hold a gathering this week to
mark its unrecognised 1990 election victory, party activists said on Tuesday.
``We have got confirmation from the NLD (in Yangon) this morning that
despite the ongoing intimidation it will go ahead with its plans for the
meeting,'' said Teddy Buri, an elected NLD MP now living in exile in
The NLD's sweeping victory in the May 1990 polls was not recognised by the
ruling military junta.
The ruling military State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) had on
Sunday warned the NLD to refrain from holding the meeting, saying it could
disturb the peace.
The gathering was planned at NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside
residence in Yangon for May 27-29, NLD sources said.
Suu Kyi and her party have accused the military of curbing their political
activities, abusing human rights and harassing NLD members.
On Monday, a government spokesman in Yangon said he had also learned that
the NLD would go ahead with the gathering.
But he denied an NLD report that at least 16 NLD delegates from outlying
townships had been detained last week to prevent them from attending the
Last May, when the NLD tried to hold a similar gathering, the military
hundreds of its members nationwide and thwarted the gathering.
Teddy Buri said the political crisis in Indonesia, which led to President
Suharto's ouster, had encouraged pro-democracy activists in Myanmar, but
Suu Kyi was seeking peaceful dialogue with the SPDC, not revolution.
``The SPDC should take Indonesia as a good lesson and hold tripartite
dialogue with Suu Kyi and various ethnic groups in the country to avert
violence,'' he added.
``Suu Kyi and the NLD still believe in peaceful dialogue,'' he added.
Separately, Suu Kyi said in statement released on Tuesday through the
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, a non-governmental organisation: ``It
is eight years since the elections have been ignored by the authorities,
but we still stand by the promises that we made to our people.''
She added that the NLD preferred to hold peaceful dialogue with the SPDC
and ruled out revenge against the military regime.
``We want dialogue because we want to find a solution that is best for
everybody, that is to say particularly for the people of Burma (Myanmar)
and for the government,'' Suu Kyi added.
``We do not want revenge, we do not think there is anything particularly
honourable or admirable in seeking revenge. We want to find a peaceful
settlement'' she said.
``We think that to accept dialogue would be a display of strength by the
government, to show that they have the strength and the courage to do what
is best for the country,'' she said.
Suu Kyi has in the past sought dialogue the military junta but the SPDC has
refused to meet her as an NLD representative.
4: 14 Burmese deported
Thailand on Sunday deported 14 Burmese dissidents, including a minister of
a government in exile, to their country but to areas where their safety was
guaranteed, a senior security official said yesterday.
The source declined to reveal the where about of the Burmese, including
Thein Oo, justice minister in the National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma, who had been deported.
He said the deportation was in line with Thai immigration laws. "They were
arrested last week in Northaburi province on charges of illegal entry.
According to the laws, an illegal alien is to be deported to the country of
origin," he said.
Meanwhile Foreign Minister spokesman Kobsak Chutikul said the arrested
Burmese group had not applied to be under the care of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
" I was informed that as a group the Burmese did not want to be granted
person -of-concern status with status with the UNHCR. They chose not to
apply for the status. There are certain Western countries that offer them
asylum," Kobsak said. He declined to name the countries.
Shortly after the arrest, UNHCR officials were allowed to interview the
group to learn whether they wanted the status or not. It was reported that
eitht of them had sought the status.
Under the care of the UNHCR they will be allowed to stay in Thailand, but
their anti-Burmese government activities will be probibited.
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