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The BurmaNet News: May 29, 1998

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 "Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: May 29, 1998
Issue #1015

Noted in Passing: "See you again at Parliament." - Aung San Suu Kyi to NLD


South China Morning Post: Junta Urged to Heed Indonesia
27 May, 1998 By William Barnes

Opposition leaders, who today mark the eighth anniversary of their 1990
election victory, have urged the junta to learn from the transfer of power
in Indonesia and negotiate a peaceful political settlement.

Aung San Suu Kyi, in a statement smuggled out of Burma, said that her
National League for Democracy (NLD) did not want revenge. "We remain
committed to dialogue . . . and we're absolutely confident we shall get
there," the statement said.

"They should learn the lesson of Indonesia, learn that they can't ignore
the critics forever when the people are unhappy," said Tin Maung Win of the
exiled National Council of the Union of Burma in Bangkok.

Last night the Government said it would allow the NLD to hold a ceremony
today at Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside house in Rangoon to mark the 1990
election, when it won 82 per cent of the seats.

The ruling junta - the State Peace and Development Committee - has detained
at least 16 activists in recent days to prevent them attending such a
meeting, which the authorities had warned over the weekend should not go
ahead. A similar meeting last year was disrupted by the military.

Half of the NLD's elected MPs have been intimidated by the military over
the past eight years to squeeze them out of politics, according to an
opposition report released yesterday.

"They did not dare to declare their own election null and void so they
forced MPs to resign, engineered their dismissal, pushed them into exile
and even jailed and tortured them," said Aung Naing Oo, a spokesman for the
All Burma Students Democratic Front, which compiled the report.

"This systematic pattern of repression is a blatant attempt by the military
to invalidate the 1990 election result."

The report found that out of the 485 MPs, 112 had been forced out of
office, 78 thrown in jail (where two died) and 20 forced by threats into

Teddy Buri, an elected NLD MP now in exile, said that the junta "should
look at Indonesia and wake up to reality - it can't go on like this".

Mr Aung Naing Oo said the demise of Indonesia's president Suharto must have
sent a wave of fear through the regime while cheering the general population.

"The Burmese people watched [former Philippine dictator Ferdinand] Marcos
get kicked out in 1986 and heard the emergence of [South African President]
Nelson Mandela on their radios," said Mr Aung Naing Oo.

"Now they have been glued to their radios again to hear with joy how the
Indonesians have triumphed over Suharto."

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi said that the greatest hurdle the generals had to
overcome was their own fear.

"There are those [in Government] who think that accepting dialogue is an
admission of defeat," she said.

"We do not think 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 the best for the country." 


The Nation: Suu Kyi Demands Burma Recognise NLD Election Victory
28 May, 1998

Rangoon -- Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged the government
yesterday to convene Parliament, reiterating her demand that the ruling
military recognise her party's sweeping victory in 1990 elections.

"It is necessary to implement the results of the elections after holding
them," she told over 400 members of the National League for Democracy (NLD)
at her lakeside residence in Rangoon.

"Failure to implement the result of the 1990 elections will be an insult
and cheating of the people," Suu Kyi told the gathering, called to mark the
eighth anniversary of the NLD's landslide victory.

"As a first step, the Parliament must he convened," said Suu Kyi, who spent
six years under house arrest after the polls until her release in mid-1995.

It was the first time since the polls that a meeting to mark the victory
has been officially allowed by the military, which first seized power in a
bloody coup in 1988.

"We are determined not to accept the holding of another election without
materialising the results of the 1990 elections," Suu Kyi said in a
20-minute address to supporters gathered in a make-shift thatched shelter
in her compound.

Although the meeting had been officially sanctioned, party leader U Tin Oo
said that he had heard about 180 NLD members had been confined at their
homes or detained elsewhere in various parts of the country to prevent them
from going to the gathering.

A similar gathering planned by the NLD last May was thwarted by the
government which detained hundreds of party members and activists to
prevent them from attending.

Although military checkpoints were set up along the roads to Suu Kyi's
home, there were no incidents.

A carnival atmosphere pervaded Suu Kyi's home, which was adorned with
colourful NLD flags and buzzed with loud conversations between
participants, including 87 MPs elected in the 1990 poll.

Suu Kyi was in a bubbly mood as she mingled with her supporters.

"See you again at Parliament," she told the meeting at the end of her speech.

A notable absentee was vocal military critic and NLD vice-chairman U Kyi
Maung, who is rumoured to have left the party.

The NLD accuses the military of abusing human rights and curbing its
activities, while the military has refused to hold talks with the NLD with
Suu Kyi as its representative.


Burmese Political Prisoner Killed Following Hunger Strike 
27 May, 1998 

A political prisoner in Burma has been killed after being beaten by prison
authorities following a hunger strike by political prisoners at the
Thayawaddy Prison, 200 kilometres north of Rangoon.

The prisoner, Aung Kyaw Moe was beaten and seriously injured on 23 May when
the prison authorities attempted to break up the hunger strike. Aung Kyaw
Moe, who is believed to be 29 years old, died in the prison hospital on the
day of the beating.

Aung Kyaw Moe was a student of Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) and
had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his involvement in 1996
December student demonstrations.

On May 22, political prisoners in Thayawaddy Prison staged a hunger strike
to mark the 8th anniversary of the 1990 elections, in which the National
League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory which has never been
recognized by the military government.

The political prisoners made two demands: that ruling State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) treat them as political prisoners and enter into
a dialogue with the NLD to solve country's problems peacefully.

However prison authorities, under instructions from the SPDC's Ministry of
Home Affairs, rejected their demands and warned the prisoners to stop their
hunger strike immediately. On 23 May 1998, the prison authorities cracked
down on the hunger strikers and eight political prisoners were beaten and
seriously injured.

Afterwards, the family members of all the political prisoners at Thayawaddy
Prison were not allowed to visit in an attempt by the authorities to
prevent information spreading about the incident.

Meanwhile, political prisoners at Thayet Prison in Magwe Division have also
staged a hunger strike. However, the detail of this strike are as yet unknown.

All Burma Students' Democratic Front


BurmaNet Editor: News From Inside Burma
29 May, 1998

Power in Short Supply

Electrical power in Rangoon is being rationed.  In many areas, the power
comes on in one of two daily shifts: morning or afternoon.  The city has
been divided into sectors, and some sectors only have electricity for 2
shifts per week.  Given the unpredictability and scarcity of power,
businesses are struggling to stay open.  In addition, even when the
electricity is flowing, it is very weak.  Only those who can afford
generators to supplement the energy supply can have full electricity.  The
shortage is also affecting the water supply in buildings (including
apartments) that use electricity to pump the water above ground level.

Mandalay is also experiencing a shortage of electricity, with some areas
only receiving electricity every other day.  According to reports, in
Tavoy, people are receiving electricity only once every five days.

There was no TV broadcasting in Burma for the last two days.  It is
suspected that this is also due to the severe power shortage.

Regarding news about Indonesia getting into Burma, the SPDC allowed a short
announcement to be placed in the state-controlled media.  On television and
radio and in the newspaper, statements said only that Suharto had stepped
down and Habibie is now the President of Indonesia.

NGOs inside the country have had difficulty accessing their e-mail
accounts.  As soon as a connection is made, the phone line is immediately
cut.  This may well be because the government is trying to prevent news
from Indonesia from coming into the country.


Bangkok Post: Burma Seals Off Koh Song Area 
28 May, 1998 

Ranong -- Burma is reported to have sealed off its territorial waters in
the Koh Song (Kawthaung) area, the better to pursue its raids on pirates
and Karens.

Thai trawlermen say prolonged closure could cause them to lose up to 25
million baht.

Some Thai fishing boats are left stranded there.

Capt Chatchawal Sinamonparinya, who heads the Thai-Burmese fisheries
coordinating centre, said Thai trawlers are being allowed to fish there but
are banned from entering or leaving Koh Song.

Two companies permitted to fish in Burmese waters are concerned their
business will be affected if the closure continues for a further month.

Capt Chatchawal said the centre has lodged a petition with the Burmese
authorities on Koh Song.

An executive of Sirivijaya International Co, Seri Pintu, said some 20
fishing boats are operating in Burmese waters and one fish transport vessel
is asking permission to leave for Ranong.


Bangkok Post: Burmese Abduct Officials And Demand Release Of Trafficker 
28 May, 1998 By Supamart Kasem 

Shots fired as police arrest speed dealer

Burmese soldiers took three Thai officials hostage opposite Tak province
yesterday and successfully demanded the release of a Burmese man detained
earlier for drug trafficking in Thailand.

The cross-border conflict started Tuesday evening when five Thai policemen
arrested Kyaw Thi Hla, a 15year-old member of the Democratic Karen Buddhist
Army (DKBA), for selling amphetamine pills on the Thai side of the Moei
River in Tha Song Yang district.Upon his arrest, DKBA troops opened fire
from across the border against Thai police. The attack was countered by the
Thai side and the intense exchange of fire lasting over half an hour was
backed by about 200 Thai soldiers, border patrol police and volunteers.

The shooting injured a Thai policeman, Police Constable Somkiart Kongpho,
and two DKBA soldiers, and killed four other DKBA members.

Tawan Angoonpana, headman of Mae Tarn village, asked Burmese troops through
radio contacts to cease fire and promised that he and other Thai officials
would cross the river for peace talks.

Mr Tawan, and two officials, Prasert Akaruan and Virat Boonma, from the
local administration organisation went to the Mawpoke camp across the Moei
river yesterday morning.

Capt Thein Aye representing the Burmese camp demanded the release of the
suspected drug trafficker and threatened to resume the shooting if the
demand was not met.

Thai officials first rejected the demand, stating that the suspect had to
be prosecuted on drug trafficking charges. Suddenly, they were held hostage
by Burmese troops who insisted that the demand be met.

Kyaw Thi Hla was released in exchange for the three officials yesterday


Bangkok Post: Karen Refugees To Be Moved Next Month 
28 May, 1998 By Supamart Kasem in Tak 

Renegade threat prompts transfer.

The planned relocation of 8,935 Karen refugees from Mae Sot to Tha Song
Yang district has been scheduled for early next month.

Mae Sot district chief Thawatchai Fak-angkul said officials would start
moving the refugees from Huay Kalok camp in Mae Sot to Mae La camp in Tha
Song Yang district, which currently houses 25,673 refugees, early next
month with financial support from non-governmental organisations.

The NGOs are in the process of purchasing construction material to build
more living quarters and a school at Mae La camp, he said.

Their transfer was planned after the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)
guerrillas attacked and torched Huay Kalok camp in March, killing three
refugees and injuring more than 40 others.

Initially they were to be moved at least 10 kilometres from the border but
it was decided later to transfer them to Mae La camp as no appropriate site
could be found.

A Karen refugee living at Huay Kalok camp said yesterday that most refugees
there were reluctant to move to Mae La camp as they feared overcrowding.

Yesterday, four United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
officials led by the director of the Division of International Protection
Denis MacNamara met district authorities in Mae Sot to discuss the refugee
transfer plan before making inspection tours of Mae La and Huay Kalok camps.

Earlier, Karen National Union (KNU) leader Gen Bo Mya voiced support for
the UNHCR plan to assist refugees in Tak and Mae Sariang districts of Mae
Hong Son but rejected plans to relocate them.


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29 May, 1998 

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