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The BurmaNet News: November 28-29,

Subject: The BurmaNet News: November 28-29, 1998

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

The BurmaNet News: November 28-29, 1998
Issue #1147

Noted in Passing: 

"A lot of sticks have been used - and they remain in place - but now we are
also offering the government some carrots"  -Rangoon-based diplomat

"You simply can't cross-breed democracy and military dictatorship. The
generals may take some of the money, but they will never cede power. You
must accept this reality and on that basis decide whether to give aid or not."
- Another Rangoon-based diplomat 



26 November, 1998 by Thomas Crampton

$1 Billion Is Possible If Generals Will Talk With the Opposition

RANGOON - The United Nations and World Bank have entered into secret
negotiations with Burmese government and opposition leaders to offer the
ruling military regime $1 billion in financial and humanitarian aid in
exchange for opening a dialogue with the opposition, according to sources
involved in the negotiations.

Initiated only weeks ago, the plan has been introduced at a time of
bitterly polarized and deeply entrenched political stalemate in Burma.

But government officials, opposition leaders and Rangoon-based diplomats
said the attempt at dollar diplomacy offered "the best glimmer of hope yet"
for breaking the deadlock between the opposition led by Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and the ruling generals.

The plan calls for step-by-step compromises from both the government and
the opposition, with progress rewarded by increasing amounts of financial
assistance and humanitarian aid.

"A lot of sticks have been used - and they remain in place - but now we are
also offering the government some carrots,'' said a Rangoon-based diplomat
who is involved in the negotiations.  "With the reaction we have received
so far from all sides it is not impossible to outline a win-win scenario."

Both the government and opposition have agreed to pursue the idea in
further meetings with a United Nations envoy that are scheduled to take
place in Burma within the next eight weeks, sources in the government and
the opposition said.

This is the first United Nations attempt to include international financial
institutions directly in political negotiations, and it comes amid rising
criticism that past peace efforts have been undermined by a lack of such
coordination among the organizations.

Presented late last month in Burma by a United Nations special envoy,
Alvaro de Soto, the plan was formulated at a secretive meeting held weeks
earlier in southern England between the World Bank, the United Nations and
five Rangoon-based ambassadors who attended in an unofficial capacity.

Sources involved in the negotiations said they discussed the first step for
a release of funds, which was initially set at requiring the government to
release political prisoners, allow Daw Aung San Suu Kyi freedom of movement
and permit her National League for Democracy to function as a political
party. In exchange, the National League for Democracy would agree to
rescind its calls to convene Parliament, and international funding would be
opened to Burma for the first time in more than a decade.

Funneled through the World Bank, the bulk of the funds would come from
Japan, with additional assistance expected from Australia and Singapore,
sources involved in the negotiations said.

If the plan proceeds, the United States, which has imposed a wide range of
sanctions against the country's military regime, will then withdraw its
long-standing automatic veto of any funding or assistance for Burma from
the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, according to diplomats
involved in the negotiations.

One suggestion floated was for a meeting between the UN secretary-general,
Kofi Annan, and Burma's military leaders at the summit meeting of the
Association of South East Asian Nations next month in Hanoi.

"If the process gets under way, the World Bank will just be the thin end of
the wedge," a Rangoon-based diplomat said.

"The private sector will gain confidence and the donor countries, which are
looking for just about any sign of change, will jump in to help the
development of the country."

But not even a blank check from the World Bank would break the deadlock in
Burma, many observers in Rangoon warned. The country has no culture of
political compromise and the military's sole priority is to retain its
total grip on power, the observers said.

No matter how the plan is structured, however, the ruling generals would be
forced to accept Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's strong influence over the use of
funds and her ability to stop them at any time.

The opposition leader, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her
democratic struggle against the government, helped inspire the wide range
of sanctions now imposed on Burma and she alone has the credibility to call
for their loosening or removal.

Meanwhile, the government remains wary of foreign involvement in domestic
matters and confident of the country's ability to ignore external pressure.

"Did the United Nations ensure stability in Cambodia after injecting
billions of dollars? No,'' said Brigadier General Maung Maung, minister to
the office of the ruling council's chairman. ''We welcome any unconditional
assistance you would like to give us, but like Cambodia, we need to solve
our problems by ourselves."

One diplomat dismissed the UN initiative as an attempt by Western
governments to "whitewash the dictatorship into something palatable for
domestic consumption."

"You simply can't cross-breed democracy and military dictatorship," the
diplomat said.  "The generals may take some of the money, but they will
never cede power. You must accept this reality and on that basis decide
whether to give aid or not."

Most countries have opted against giving aid. Development specialists
estimate that Burma could easily attract more than $500 million per year
from donor countries, but international condemnation of human rights abuses
by the military government has reduced annual multilateral foreign
development assistance to less than $20 million in recent years.

All of this assistance passes through a UN program designed to avoid
supporting the military government by sending aid directly to a select set
of small, grass-roots projects in different parts of the country.

The UN program would very likely serve as a model for funneling initial
World Bank assistance into Burma, sources involved in the negotiations said. 


27 November, 1998 by William Barnes 

The United Nations will not attempt to bribe Burma's regime into lifting
its iron political grip on the country, sources close to closed-door
negotiations with the military junta said yesterday.

"There is no cheque on the table the generals could pocket and say 'thanks
very much'," one Rangoon-based diplomat said.

There has been speculation that the United Nations' Assistant
Secretary-General, Alvaro de Soto, offered a cornucopia of financial
goodies when he met the junta's powerful intelligence chief, Lieutenant
General Khin Nyunt, late last month.

A report in the International Herald Tribune yesterday said the regime had
been offered US$1 billion (HK$7.7 billion) by the UN if it opened up a
dialogue with the opposition.

Sources agreed that the UN's ability to "in principle" unlock substantial
financial help was discussed during Mr de Soto's "very exploratory" talks.

"But there is no question of anyone trying to bribe the military to ease
up," one close observer said.

"The UN is initially offering technical and humanitarian assistance - if
the Government loosens the political reins first.

"No one is going to risk hard cash in Myanmar [Burma] without some real
sign of a change of heart."

The regime described Mr de Soto's visit as "fruitful and constructive".

There was a hint of proxy negotiations when the UN envoy visited opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, then General Khin Nyunt and then briefed Ms Aung
San Suu Kyi in a further visit.

The consensus among Burma-watchers is nevertheless that no sure signal has
emerged from this tenuous exchange that the junta may be prepared to soften
its near total intolerance of criticism and opposition. 


27 November, 1998 

SINGAPORE, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Singapore said on Friday it was puzzled by
reports it was expected to contribute funds to a plan to aid Myanmar
through the World Bank.

``We are ... puzzled by reports that Singapore is expected to contribute to
funds that would be funnelled to Myanmar through the World Bank,'' a
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said in a written statement.

The International Herald Tribune reported on Thursday that the Bank and the
United Nations were in secret negotiations with Myanmar's government and
opposition leaders over a $1.0-billion aid plan.

The financial and humanitarian aid would go to the country's military
regime in exchange for its opening a dialogue with the opposition, the
paper said.

It also reported the bulk of the funds would come from Japan, ``with
additional assistance expected from Australia and Singapore.''

Responding to media queries, the MFA spokesman said ``neither the World
Bank nor the United Nations has approached Singapore regarding the proposal
to offer development assistance to Myanmar.''

Yangon-based diplomats told Reuters on Friday the United Nations was
seeking ways to overcome the political stalemate in Myanmar, where the
pro-democracy opposition is being stifled by the military government.

But one diplomat said the newspaper report was ``too far ahead of the
game,'' adding that ``there have been discussions on such a concept,'' but
not in great detail. 


27 November, 1998 

BANGKOK, Nov 27 (AFP) - A senior United Nations official has met Myanmar
junta First Secretary Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt in Yangon, UN officials
and the junta said Friday.

The visit follows reports that the UN and the World Bank had proposed a one
billion dollar aid lifeline to Myanmar in exchange for genuine political
dialogue between the junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A junta official told AFP in a statement that a report this week in the
International Herald Tribune was "making everybody jumpy" but it was
"premature to make any comment at this stage."

No details of the talks Thursday between Khin Nyunt and UN assistant
secretary general Nay Htun were made public.

A source who was present during the meeting said the aid-for-talks proposal
was raised but was not the central topic of discussions.

A UN spokesman in Yangon said the two probably talked about issues relating
to the UN Development Programme.

He said the aid-for-talks concept remained a "billion dollar question" and
he knew only that the idea had been raised during last month's visit by UN
special envoy to Myanmar Alvaro de Soto.

"This is something that has been discussed between the authorities and Mr
De Soto but I don't have any more information," he told AFP by telephone
from Yangon.

Nay Htun, who is also director of the UN's bureau for the Asia-Pacific, was
due to leave Yangon on Friday evening.

Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy (NLD) party to a
landslide victory in 1990 elections but the junta -- the State Peace and
Development Council -- has refused to recognise the result.

Political talks have stalled over the junta's refusal to negotiate with
Aung San Suu Kyi about the formation of the elected government.

The UN General Assembly's human rights commission last week sharply
criticized "continuing violations of human rights" in Myanmar and called on
the government to hold talks with the opposition.

The European Union and the United States, among others, enforce trade and
aid sanctions against the junta over its poor human rights record and its
refusal to recognise the NLD's election victory.


28 November, 1998 from altsean@xxxxxxxxxx

Message from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary for the National
League for Democracy (Burma) and 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate To Mark World
Aids Day 1998, December 1st 

The control of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is about the control of our
future. So many of our people in Burma, especially the young, are
vulnerable because of the poor quality of our health care and social
services, and because the authorities are not prepared to recognize the
enormity of the problem and to come to grips with it.

International agencies and NGOs fear that HIV infection in Burma is
spreading at an alarming rate. We need effective education programmes and
services now. Unless we act urgently, HIV infection could reach epidemic
proportions in our country and become a major threat to our social
stability and economic potential.

Poor countries struggling to achieve sustainable human development cannot
afford to underestimate the importance of proper AIDS education and care.
The battle against AIDS is not merely a health issue, it is a battle
against ignorance, poverty, indifference, prejudice and callousness. We
need to educate whole societies, not only that we may be able to control
the spread of the HIV infection but also that those who have already
contracted the virus may be treated with understanding and compassion. It
is a sad irony that often those societies where there is most need for such
care and education are precisely those that lack the social, political and
financial framework within which necessary programmes can be implemented.
This is why the whole international community , rich nations as well as
poor, need to join together to cope with the problems related to HIV

While we cannot overestimate the value of education programmes for the
prevention and care of AIDS, on this World AIDS Day, I would like to make a
special appeal to the rich nations of the world to commit more of their
resources towards research on finding a cure for the Human Immunodeficiency
Virus. Please do not think of working towards a cure for HIV as a "poor
country problem" but as a human concern. The gift of health and life is the
greatest gift that we can give to our fellow men.

I would like to conclude with a message for those who are already suffering
from AIDS. Please do not despair. There are many in the world who feel with
you and respect you for your courage and fortitude. For those who are
caring for AIDS sufferers, I would simply like to express my deep
admiration. My heart goes out to both sufferers and carers in warm sympathy.

Aung San Suu Kyi Rangoon, November 1998


26 November, 1998 from <lurie@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Message to the International Conference on
"Universal Rights and Human Values: A Blueprint for Peace, Justice and
Freedom Edmonton, Canada, 26-28 November

May I begin by expressing my sincere regrets that I am unable to join you
here today. I would have wished to take part in the discussions at this
conference which, I have little doubt, will provide valuable ideas and
suggestions for making our planet a safer, happier home for all of us.
Largely due to the sad situation of human rights in my own country, I am
unable to attend this conference in person and must therefore be content
with sending a short message.

The title of this conference could well be turned inside out without
distorting its true sense or diminishing its potency: peace, justice and
freedom could be viewed as universal values which form the foundation of
our demand for those basic human rights that should be recognized by the
international community and guaranteed by every state in the world.

Few rational human beings anywhere, regardless of their race, religion or
culture, would deny the supreme value of peace, justice and freedom in
their positive, vigorous aspects. It is now widely seen that peace should
be more than the mere absence of war: it should be a positive force that
counters violence as a means of resolving the problems of human society.
Justice should not only aim at controlling the negative traits in human
nature, it should work to promote a sense of fairness, compassion and
universal brotherhood. Freedom should be more than a lack of shackles, it
should mean an environment where the right to develop one's own potential,
without curbing that of others, can be exercised without fear.

The articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
are aimed at creating a human environment which will foster peace, justice
and freedom. Its preamble spells out the indissoluble link between
universal rights and human values, or between universal values and human
rights. This link will surely become better established as a result of the
endeavors of conferences such as this, where scholars and statesmen,
international human rights activists and representatives of the United
Nations agencies gather to focus attention on this most important of
subjects: the right of all people to live full lives, secure in their
dignity as free and respected members of human race.

May I conclude by thanking those who have made it possible for me to send
this message and by extending my warm wishes for the success of this
conference to the conference organizers and to the participants.

Aung San Suu Kyi

For more information please contact- Dr. Khin Saw Win at c1-403-439 7555.
Email: Alice <khin_s_w@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>