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The BurmaNet News: May 27, 1998

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

The BurmaNet News: May 27, 1998
Issue #1013

Noted in Passing: "For sometime now the ABSDF has been compiling
information on the situation of all the 485 MPs that were elected to office
in 1990. We are releasing these details today to mark the 8th anniversary
of the election and to remind the international community, and particularly
the ASEAN member states, of the need for continued action against the
military government."  -Aung Naing Oo (see ABSDF: STATUS OF MP'S)


26 May, 1998 by U Aung Shwe (Chairman), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (General
Secretary), and U Tin U (Deputy Chairman) 

U AUNG SHWE: The NLD participated in the democratic general elections held
in May 1990. We won 82 per cent of the seats. That's a great majority.
Without the confidence of the people, we could not get so many votes. It's
quite a lot. We are very thankful to the voters for voting for the NLD.

At that time, we issued a manifesto, as you know, for this election. The
political objective is to have democracy in our country. As for the
economy, we want an open market economy. And for the cultural side, we want
freedom of religion, freedom of education, freedom of speech and all these
democratic principles. I think because of those things and because the
people believe that we can do it, they voted for us.

We entered the election according to the election rules, the election law
published by the authorities, and in that law there is one section, Section
3, which says that categorically that the parliament must inform the
winning MPs that they have won the elections, but nothing has happened so
far. It is very regrettable. It is a very sad state of affairs. And I think
the people are very dissatisfied with that.

DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI: It is now 8 years since the elections of 1990 in
which the people of Burma decided, by voting for the NLD, that they wanted
a democratic system. It is 8 years since the elections have been ignored by
the authorities, but we still stand by the promises that we made to our
people then.

We want to work for democracy not because democracy is some kind of magic
word, or some kind of magic state, but because we believe this is the only
way we can resolve the social, economic and political problems of our country.
 ... nobody can deny we are in an economic mess. Prices are increasing all
the time, the incomes of the people are not keeping pace with inflation,
there are more and more poor people in the countryside. There are some
very, very rich people and that in itself is bad because that means there
is a greater gap between the very rich and the great majority of the
people, who are poor.

We also have social problems, the greatest which is our lack of proper
education. The universities have been closed since December 1996 and there
is a backlog of students waiting to get into university. The health care
system is in a shambles. There are so many things wrong with the country.
This is why we want to get to democracy as quickly as possible, to resolve
all these problems. We believe that with a government that is accountable
to the people and has the confidence not only of our country but of the
international community we will be able to resolve both our economic and
social problems, not to speak of the political problems which of course
will be automatically resolved once we achieve our democratic goal.

Now Burma is suffering from lack of investment. The NLD stands for
sanctions against investment in Burma at the moment, because we do not
believe that investment now helps the people in any way. If there is an
accountable government that will spend the revenues earned in a responsible
way and decide on an investment policy that is beneficial to the public at
large, certainly then we shall encourage investment and we will be able to
get over quite a lot of the present problems.

(Then) we will be able to open the universities. Why are the universities
closed now? This is because the government is nervous that if they reopen
the universities there will be unrest among the students. Then we have to
ask another question, Why do they think there will be unrest among the
students? Unrest only comes when there is discontent. If we can create a
situation in which the students as well as the public at large can be
satisfied, then there is no need to fear unrest.

So, we want to work for the reopening of the universities, for the
establishment of an economic system that is fair and will lead to sustained
economic development, and we want to work for a system in which the great
majority of our people who live in the rural areas will be able to achieve
progress and prosperity. Our farmers are suffering at the moment from a
lack of an equitable agricultural policy. We have to look to all this.

Democracy for us is a means to an end, it's a way of creating peace and
prosperity for our country. We are absolutely confident that once we are
able to achieve our political goal we will be able to achieve the economic
and social goals that are common to all of us in Burma.

I do not believe that anyone in Burma wishes our country to be poor, I do
not think it (the regime) wishes our people to be uneducated or
semi-educated. As soon as we come to some kind of settlement with the
authorities we are absolutely confident that the National League for
Democracy will be in the position to call for the kind of proper investment
that will lead to the prosperity of our people. The National League for
Democracy will have the courage to reopen the universities and make sure
that the education of our young people is not jeopardized in any way by
political problems. We are confident that we'll be able to create a health
care system that will truly take care of our people, not just of the rich
and the privileged.

U AUNG SHWE: Political dialogue has been consistently requested, but so far
we have not been successful yet. But if it goes on like this forever, I
think the people suffer because there are now political problems, economic
problems and cultural problems. All these problems cannot be solved without
meeting each other and talking to each other. We are very sorry that
nothing has come about yet.

DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI: We are committed to dialogue, we think this is the
only way to resolve the problems of our country. There are those (members
of the government) who think that accepting dialogue is an admission of
defeat. We do not think this is so. We think that to accept dialogue would
be to display strength by the government, to show that they have strength
and courage to do what is in the best for the country.

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 and also for
the government, and those who are in the opposition at the moment. We do
not want revenge, we do not think there is anything particularly honourable
or admirable about seeking revenge, we want to find a peaceful settlement
 ...we remain committed to dialogue. It may be difficult to get there, but
we're determined to get that. And we're absolutely confident that we shall
get that.

U TIN U: ...we will never seek for any form of revenge to anybody, and we
will never seek for any retaliatory action ... searching for revenge is
showing something like cowardice.

Dialogue is the only way that can solve all the problems in our country.
Therefore we very much desire to have a dialogue with our democratic forces
led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the ethnic races, as well as the present
military regime.

U TIN U: There is no rule of law and there is no independence of the
judiciary system here. Regarding human rights, there is no change. Even
though the SLORC government has changed its name, there is no change, it is
like putting the new foot in the old boot ... after they change their name
there are quite a lot of clear cases where they have started doing another
kind of harassment of human rights.

And now, those people under imprisonment in the Insein jail have been
dispersed, (some) remain in Insein jail, but the rest have been taken away
and transferred to other far away prisons such as Myitkyina, Myingyan and
other places. The leader of our youth have been transferred to the very far
away prison such as Kalaymyo, which is, how shall we say, torturous, too
far away to have any sort of link with their family. The family cannot
manage to meet even though they are allowed a fortnight interview. The
legal system in Burma has become a casualty of the present regime.


26 May, 1998 by Aung Naing Oo (Foreign Affairs Secretary) 

Good Morning. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and members of the media,
tomorrow will be the 8th Anniversary of the May 27 1990 elections and we
have organized this news conference to commemorate the election win and to
inform you of the latest situation of the elected Members of Parliament and
of events in Burma.

As you are all well aware, the SLORC/SPDC has continually refused to honor
the election result in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won
more than 80% of the seats. The SLORC-backed National Unity Party (NUP) won
just 10 seats.

Following the election, the SLORC began a systematic campaign of repression
against Members of Parliament from the NLD and other opposition parties. As
part of this campaign the SLORC/SPDC has banned political parties, forced
MPs to resign from office, dismissed MPs from parliament, forced them into
exile and even jailed and tortured them.

This systematic pattern of repression is a blatant attempt by the military
to invalidate the 1990 election result. In conjunction with this, the
SLORC/SPDC has sought to secure its own dominant role in the political
sphere through the drafting of a new constitution at the National
Convention, which is an unrepresentative and illegitimate body.

For sometime now the ABSDF has been compiling information on the situation
of all the 485 MPs that were elected to office in 1990. We are releasing
these details today to mark the 8th anniversary of the election and to
remind the international community, and particularly the ASEAN member
states, of the need for continued action against the military government.

All this information, some of which you have been given today in the
information kits, is to be published in a new book by the ABSDF entitled
"To Stand And Be Counted: The Suppression of Burma's Members of Parliament."
Over the past eight years the military regime has particularly targeted NLD
MPs. Since the 1990 election:

o The military junta has forced 112 MPs from office or used the Election
Commission to dismiss them. This represents more than a quarter or 28 % of
the 392 NLD Members of Parliament that were elected under the NLD banner.
(46 forced to resign, 66 dismissed - see table 1)

o The military has jailed 78 MPs - all from the NLD - two of whom died in
prison. There are currently 42 NLD MPs who remain under detention in Burma
for their political activities.

o As a result of threats and intimidation from the military junta 20
opposition MPs have been forced to flee to Thailand, India and other
countries, most of whom are from the NLD, many now work for the National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB).

o The military has banned 83 political parties leaving only 10 legal
remaining parties in Burma today. Twenty of these banned parties had won
seats in the election and a total of 48 opposition MPs have been affected
by the bans.

However, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg as facts such as the
repeated arrest of the same individual are obscured. In addition, there are
many NLD MPs who continue to be intimidated and harassed on a daily basis
by the military authorities, but courageously refuse to end their political
activity or resign from the party.

The many ways in which the military regime has harassed and intimidated NLD
MPs and members into resigning are too numerous to list here but the most
common methods include: banning the right to education, medical care, and
the right to travel for them and for their families; the blocking of
promotions, sacking of NLD members and cancelling of the licences of
lawyers and doctors; the arrest and charging of NLD members and MPs; the
forcing of NLD members in government service and MPs to repay government
loans; and eviction and threats to confiscate houses and land.

While in many of these cases the acts of harassment have been carried out,
usually the military regime has not had to go so far, as repeated threats
to do so have proven a very effective tool of intimidation.

In one example, the authorities pressured an MP from Arakan State, U Maung
Kwin Aung, to resign from Parliament.  When he refused he and members of
his family were arrested and charged with criminal offences.

The SLORC has used a range of repressive and arbitrary laws to gain
convictions against NLD MPs and other pro-democracy supporters. The 42 NLD
MPs currently in prison were charged under one or more of these laws all of
which are in contravention of accepted standards of international civil and
political rights.

One recent example is Rangoon MP Daw San San, who is currently under
detention and who had her sentence increased from six to 25 years. Although
she was released after serving two years of her 20-year sentence during an
amnesty after her first arrest in 1990, the military re-arrested her for
alleged violation of her parole. The CRIMES for which she was re-arrested
was having conducted an interview with the BBC and refusing to end her
political activity.  For this she was charged under the Official Secrets
Act as she was critical of the regime in the interview.

Less than a year after the election, a number of NLD MPs had been charged
under Burma's 'high treason' law for participating in meetings in Mandalay
to form a provisional government. They were given long prison sentences of
between 10 and 25 years. Many of these MPs remain in prison today. One of
them, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung from Mandalay, was sentenced to 25 years
imprisonment and in 1996 he was given an additional seven years jail for
producing a magazine in prison. He was also beaten and tortured by officers
from the Military Intelligence Service.

Many similar examples can be cited and some are included in the information
provided. The Election Commission has dismissed from Parliament all those
MPs who have been charged with an offence, and many are also banned from
running in future elections. The Commission has announced the dismissal
from Parliament of 66 NLD MPs, including U David Hla Myint who was
imprisoned for flying the NLD flag at the same height as the national flag.
For this offence the Election Commission dismissed him as an MP and also
banned him from running in elections for the next ten years.

Another example of the extra-ordinary lengths to which the military regime
has gone to get rid of MPs is that of elected NLD MP from Pantanaw
township, Dr. Tin Min Htut . The military regime summoned officials from
all departments of the town and asked them if Dr. Tin Min Htut had violated
any law. When they could not find fault with him, the town police chief
ordered his men to find anything that could incriminate the NLD MP. The
police searched his house and found two Singaporean coins in a small toy
cup his son was playing with. Dr. Tin Min Htut was then arrested for
illegal possession of a foreign currency and given a three-year sentence.

The junta has never declared the election results to be null and void as
this would clearly encourage international criticism. Instead they have
used the methods I have just described of setups, threats and intimidation,
jail and torture, as these have allowed them to quietly eliminate elected
MPs from the political sphere. Although we cannot claim to have a precise
figure, the information we have on the situation of MPs would indicate that
more than 50% of NLD MPs have suffered some form of intimidation at the
hands of the military regime to prevent or discourage them from taking an
active role in politics.

In light of all this, we, the members of Burma's pro-democracy movement,
once again call on the regime to respect the clear wishes of the Burmese
people, and strongly urge the military leaders in Rangoon to enter dialogue
with democratic opposition and representatives of the ethnic nationalities.
 We would also like to remind the international community, particularly the
Asean member states, of the need for continued action against the military
regime in Burma in order to find a peaceful solution to our problems
through a genuine political dialogue.

Thank you. 


22 May, 1998

Chiang Mai, Thailand -- Cease-fire talks between Myanmar's military regime
and ethnic Karenni rebels suffered a setback Friday when the guerrillas'
military wing withdrew support the group's delegation.

Aung Mya, military commander of the Karenni National Progressive Party,
said Friday the six-man delegation that left for the Myanmar capital last
week does not have his backing or approval of the central committee. The
internal split could undermine the effectiveness of any agreement reached
by the delegation and the government of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

The Karenni delegation is led by Pya Hrae, president of the party, who
arrived in Yangon last Wednesday for the negotiations. Previous talks have
been inconclusive.

``They (the Myanmar government) wanted us to hand over our weapons and then
come under their legal fold,'' Aung Mya said. ``They promised to develop
our territory, but they don't have any money themselves.''

The group is willing to sign a cease-fire agreement on the condition that
they be able to maintain their troops, weapons, and remain in their
territory in Kayah State near Thailand, he said.

The military government has reached cease-fires with a score of ethnic
rebel groups in recent years. The Karenni group signed one in 1995, but it
broke down a year later over logging disputes. Timber is the sole source of
Karenni income.

Thousands of Karenni have sought refuge in Thailand from government
military offensives. The rebel group is believed to have about 3,000 fighters.


25 May, 1998

[BurmaNet Editor's Note: This information is an important reminder of the
constant low-level conflict in the ethnic areas.  The English and format of
this report has been slightly edited.]

TMu Traw ( Pa Pun ) district area.

On the 3rd of May 98 SPDC troops LIB(707) [LIB=Light Infantry Battalion]
shot and killed Saw Pler Wah (46) years, a villager of Lar Err village, and
looted 300Bht from him. They also arrested Saw Lar Err's wife and children
forcing them out of their place. After a while they could manage to escape.
On the 4th of May LIB(707) entered Por Htar village and looted the
properties as follow:

1. They looted from Gay Nay Htoo Pah 1 pig, 5 hen, 3 pots, 1 local made
single barrel gun, 2 tins of rice, 1 box containing family clothing.

2. They looted from Pa Roe Pah 3 boxes some medicines worth 500Baht, 4 tins
of rice, 10 machetes, a radio, a sword, 2 spades, and destroyed a paddy
barn and a sugar cane grinding machine completely.

3. They looted from Pah Kye Pah  3 boxes, 15 pots, a sewing machine, a pig,
2 ducks, 4 machetes, 5 fishing nets, medicines worth 5000 Bahts, 5 spades,
35 plates, 30 spoons, and destroyed 2 saws completely.

4. They looted from Pah Lu Htan  5 goats, 3 tins of rice, 4 cooking pots, 7
hens, 20 plates and 2 spades.

5. They looted from Maree Htee 3 cooking pots, 100 tins and 1 fishing net.

On the 5th of May 98 another SPDC LIB(703) shot and killed Naw Htee Tha,
(39) years, from Ler Pay Kyo village.

On the 6th May  a combined force of LIB(704) and LIB(706) proceeded to Htee
Bway Khee area, shot and killed 3 villagers of Saw Mu Plaw village, Saw
Hsaw Pah Wah, Naw Thoo Pa and Saw Nyar Bwe Say. They looted 4000Baht from
Saw Hsaw Pah Wah, 14500Baht from Naw Thoo Pa and 1000Baht from Saw Nyar Bwe
Say. They looted 3000Kyat, 1000Baht, and 20 silver coins from Yoe Kho Moe
and also looted 10000Kyat, 5600 Baht from Saw Kay Dah. On the same day the
SPDC LIB(707) again returned  to  Htee Ler Khee village looting the
properties of the villagers as follows:

1. They looted from Saw Htoo 3 tins of rice.

2. They looted from Saw Kree Nee medicines worth about 7000 Bahts, 4
cooking pots, 20 plates, some tins of rice worth about 3000 Baht.

3. Trom Naw Dah Htee they took 4 tins of rice, 2 machetes, 1 local made
single barrel and medicines worth 3000 Baht.

4. From Saw Gay Htoo 4 cooking pots and 5 bags of fish paste.

5. From Gay Nay Htoo Pah they took one sewing machine, one fishing net and
2 cooking pots.

6. They looted from Pah Yo Pah, 1 cooking pot and all kinds of properties
in the house worth about 3000 Baht.

7. From Saw Doe Po they took 2 machetes, 2 knives and all the properties in
the house.

On the 10th of May, 1998, the SPDC LIB(701) entered Kho Mu Der village and
burnt all the houses in the village.  Again they proceeded to Kay Pu
village and burnt down all the houses in the village.  They also destroyed
2 farm huts.

On the 13th of May, 1998 the combined troops of LIB(704) and LIB(706)
entered Kay Pu area destroying 53 farm huts in this area. Still they are
increasing military activities in that area


26 May, 1998 

Rangoon-- Burma has detained at least 16 opposition National League for
Democracy party members in an attempt to halt a gathering planned to
commemorate the party's 1990 polls victory, opposition sources said yesterday.

"We think they were picked up only to prevent them from coming to Yangon to
attend the ceremony and hope they will be released soon," the source added.

Meanwhile, Burma's junta yesterday denied US allegations it was a
destabilising element in Asean and rejected a call for it to open dialogue
with political opposition groups. A senior junta official said Washington's
call was "shortsighted and unrealistic" and dangerous not only for Burma
but also the whole Asian region.


26 May, 1998 

Agency says it awaits an official request

Thai and United Nations authorities have worked out details of a role on
the Burmese border for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the agency's
regional representative said yesterday.

"We have finalised details as far as we can go," said Amelia Bonifacio, the
Bangkok-based representative of the agency, which previously was allowed
limited access to the Burmese border. "What we are waiting for is an
official request."

Thai authorities have been mulling an expanded role for the UNHCR towards
displaced Burmese people since the burning and shelling of two camps on the
border in March.

Denis McNamara, head of the UNHCR's International Protection Division, is
due to make a familiarisation tour of Huay Kalok and Mae Hla in Mae Sot
district, Tak, today. An estimated 70,000 displaced Burmese are living in
several camps along the border.

Ms Bonifacio, who spoke after a seminar organised by the UNHCR and
Chulalongkorn University's law faculty, confirmed the UNHCR's role on the
Burmese border would differ from the one it enjoyed on the Cambodian border
through the 1980s and early 1990s.

One difference, she said, would concern admission of asylum seekers. In
addition, the UNHCR would have access to asylum seekers and refugees in the
camps, and conduct joint registration of the inhabitants with the government.

The UNHCR also would support and help the government in the relocation of
camps beyond shelling range. She noted that Thai authorities had identified
two sites for the relocation.

A long-term strategy for the eventual repatriation of displaced Burmese was
also under consideration, she said. Mr McNamara said the UNHCR would not
replace the non-governmental organisations who have been active on the
Burmese border for some time.


26 May, 1998 

The government yesterday resolved that the Saturday deadline for a massive
crackdown on illegal migrant workers will not be extended, meaning around
one million will be earmarked for deportation.

The decision, taken by a government committee, will also affect rice mills,
quarries and rubber farms, which have operated since May 1 when a one-month
grace period was granted to them -- and rely mostly on thousands of foreign

Owners of fisheries businesses in 22 coastal provinces still enjoy
indefinite exemptions, but those in Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai have
been stripped of that right.

The two northeastern provinces which border the Mekhong River are part of
13 non-coastal provinces which have fisheries businesses. The committee
reasoned that it saw no need for both provinces to use immigrant labour,
without any other supporting information.

Department of Employment chief Som Supanakhon a committee member, said the
foreign workers would be replaced by unemployed Thais, who may receive
higher pay and better welfare benefits if their prospective employers
comply with the requests from local employment offices.

Som said 160,000 immigrant labourers have applied to return to their
countries of origin voluntarily, bringing the total number of those to be
sent home to 209,600.

Pol Maj Gen Boonrit Rattanaphorn, a deputy immigration police chief, said
yesterday's decision would be followed in the form of detailed
implementation plans which will be drafted soon.

Before the meeting, the committee received petitions from the owners of
1,761 businesses which have hired 93,812 foreign workers, asking for an
extension of the grace period.


26 May, 1998

The military regime that has mismanaged Burma for decades is sure to mourn
the demise of President Suharto of Indonesia, one of its oldest friends.
With Indonesia making faltering steps towards democracy and modernity, the
Rangoon regime will have to rely increasingly on its own meagre resources.

One event of 1990 brought so much pain to the generals who have presided
over Burma's destruction since 1962 that the very mention of it is too much
to bear. It was in May of that year that the junta was roundly trounced in
an election it had called in the optimistic, perhaps foolish, expectation
that it might be popular among a people it had long brutalised and reduced
to penury.

So traumatic was the outcome and so thorough the humiliation that the junta
went into denial, to borrow a phrase that is very, popular today.  It
pretended it had not been so stupid as to give the people, through the
democratic process, the opportunity to send it packing with a kick in the
pants to boot. Nine years later, the junta remains in denial, so much so
that it has told the winners of the contest they should not even consider
events to mark the anniversary of a stolen victory.

In calling upon the people of Burma to have some regard for its
sensitivities, the junta asked that the National League for Democracy
"refrain from creating conditions that will unnecessarily cause a setback
in the ongoing nation-rebuilding process". In other words, the people
should not only accept they have been ripped off; they must forget all
about it as well.

The State Peace and Development Council, or the State Law and Order
Restoration Council, or whatever it calls itself, is nothing if not
consistent. Its actions are those of a school bully who kicks the smaller
boy in the shins and then bursts into tears, blubbering and immersing
itself in self-pity, as though it were the victim. Here is a reminder of
who was hurt in the election: The League, which won 396 of 485 seats, was
refused its rightful reward and Burma remains cowed and poor.

Perhaps it was this month's events in Indonesia that have rattled a junta
that has for decades looked to former president Suharto, with whom it
shares a dislike for fair elections and freedom of expression, for support.
In times of difficulty, the junta knew it could expect sympathy from a
dictator whose undue influence over the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations was instrumental in the admission of the junta that claims falsely
to represent the people of Burma.

The stolen election of 1990 will remain etched on the national conscience
no matter how miserable it makes the junta feel. That insecurity can only
be heightened as Indonesia moves away from the Suharto period, and the
signs are encouraging. President Jusuf Habibie has already shown an
encouraging attitude towards Indonesia's political prisoners. If he
presides over fair elections sooner rather than later, Indonesia will
surely move out of a political dark age and leave the generals in Rangoon
even more isolated.

In calling the 1990 election and then pretending that it had not happened,
the leaders of the Rangoon junta have dug themselves into a hole that might
be deeper than they think. Mr Habibie and those of Suharto's cronies who
remain in politics can, and have, offered the people a free and fair
election. While they have been denounced as the old guard, there are signs
that Indonesians are ready to take them at their word. If they fail, the
price they will pay will be high, and they know it.

Rangoon has no such fallback option. Without the support of fellow Asean
members, who got themselves into a muddle over Asian values and human
rights abuses, the junta can only weaken. If the junta offers to do the
right thing and hold a general election, the Burmese people will be wise to
an old trick.