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The BurmaNet News: November 30, 199

Subject: The BurmaNet News: November 30, 1998

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

The BurmaNet News: November 30, 1998
Issue #1148


Mizzima News Group: Burmese Soldiers Deserting the Army
20 October, 1998

Due to prevailing circumstances, some soldiers have been deserting from the
Burmese army and joining with anti-government armed ethnic groups, which
are based in the border areas of the country. According to a recent press
release of Arakan Army, some soldiers have defected from the Burmese army
and joined its army in recent months. The Arakan Army is the military wing
of the National United Party of Arakan (NUPA), which is one of the armed
groups still fighting against the Burmese military government.

These soldiers, along with their weapons, have been deserting from the
Burmese army due to general dissatisfaction in the army. "Inequality of
privilege between high and low and rank and file, political difference
between the high-ranking commanders, insufficiency of salary and
dissatisfaction on strict tight-lip inside the army are prevailing within
the Burma Army today," [sic] said NUPA in its press release which was
issued on 18th October.

The press release further mentioned the details of five soldiers who joined
the Arakan Army in the past three months. These soldiers, after they
deserted from their respective battalions stationed in Arakan State of
Burma, joined with the troops of Arakan Army in Buthitaung-Maungdaw
township region in Arakan State which borders India and Bangladesh. Pvt.
Myo Win  (Pvt. No. 878651) was the last ones who joined the Arakan
revolutionary group on 8th October. In September, three soldiers from the
Burmese army including Pvt. Win Myint (Pvt. No. 794831) deserted the army
with one assault rifle and some ammunition to the Arakan Army.

According to the press release, some higher rank senior officers are also
deserting from the army to join with other rebel groups, which are fighting
for freedom from all types of oppression of the Burmese military regime. 


26 November, 1998 from <bakatha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

General prison situation inside Burma

The situation inside the prisons of Burma is still worse than before,
despite concern and pressure from international human-rights organizations
and the United Nations.  Some prisoners are secretly transferred to other
prisons, far from Rangoon, a diplomatic field.  Some are still being held
even though they have completed their prison terms. Some have been raising
concerns about their health.

Health situation

We have concerns about health situation of the following persons.

Ko Myat San- Taungoo prison. He was a leading member of tri-coloured
student groups and also a guard of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 1989. He was
arrested again during the 10th December student movements in 1991 and
sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. On 17th 1998, he was sent to the prison
hospital from Cell No. 3 because he was suffering from a gastric ulcer.
Because of the shortage of medicine in the prison, his family requested
that the authorities refer him to the local hospital for medical treatment.
But the prison authorities refused to refer.

Ma Moe Kalhar Oo. (a female student) Insein prison. She was an active
member of All Burma Federation of Student Unions and sentenced to 7 years
imprisonment in 1995.Because of sleeping on the concrete floor of the
prison every night, she was suffering from lung disease.  She received no
medicine and she asked the prison authorities to let her accept the
medicine from her family. The authority refused her request and sent her to
the cell. Presently, she is in the solitary confinement.

Kyaw San  at Cho saint. He was an active member of All Burma Federation of
Student Unions. He was arrested during the 1996 December students' movement
and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. He was seriously tortured at the
interrogation center of Military Intelligent Service. So he was suffering
from mental disease at Tarawaddy prison. During the serious times of his
mental situation, he was always not permitted to meet with his family.

Toe Toe Tun He was a leading member of All Burma Federation of Student
Unions. He was arrested during the 1996 December student demonstrations and
sentenced to long-term imprisonment. He was seriously tortured at the
Interrogation center of MIS and his health situation was so serious. But he
didn't get the enough medicine and medical treatment.

Ye Nain Win He was also a leading member of Democratic Party for a New
Society. He was arrested during the 1996 student demonstrations and
sentenced to long-term imprisonment. He was suffering from liver disease
and denied medical treatment.

Phyo Min Thein He was a leading member of All Burma Federation of Student
Unions (Lower Burma) and sentenced to long-term imprisonment. Presently,
his health situation is serious in Taungoo prison.

Most political prisoners are suffering from gastric ulcer, diarrhea,
dysentery, lung diseases or skin Diseases. But there is shortage of
medicine, lack of doctors, inability to get the enough medical treatment in
most prisons. In 1993, there was no doctor at the Tayet prison's hospital.
Ko Aik Ko, a member of ABFSU, got mis-treatment during his illness from one
of the staff of prison's hospital and then he died.

Social affairs

During the interview time of political prisoners, prison authorities and
military intelligence always disturb the families and the prisoners. The
authorities also limit and remove the former political prisoner and persons
who are related to the political prisoner, from their field and community.
For example, Dr. Than Nyein's clinic was banned. Maydini Saradaw (Head of
Maydini abbot) was removed from his position after he was released from the
prison. Also students, who were released from the prison, have not been
allowed to re-attend their schools and universities.

Torture and punishment in the prison.

Most prisoners got the following punishments from the authorities because
of political activities in the prison:

- Sent to the solitary confinement.
- Not allowed to meet with the families for one month to three.
- Locked with the iron-ring and iron-rod to the leg.
- Not permitted to shower for one month to three.

Some prisoners are transferred to the other prisons, are unable to contact
their families and are tortured secretly.  Most prisoners are beaten by the
authorities, accused with violation of prison law. Some prisoners are
serious tortured and sent to the cell accused of counter movements of
suppression by the prison authorities.

(Remark: We, All Burma Federation of Student Unions, will continue to
present this series on details of prison life and suppression upon the
political prisoners, appropriately by the documentation center.)

Documentation Center
Foreign Affair's Committee
All Burma Federation of Student Unions. 


27 November, 1998 

YANGON (Nov. 27) XINHUA - The authorities from the Department of Geological
Survey and Mineral Exploration (DGSME) and China's Liaoning Jin Di
Construction Consortium Co., Ltd. reached an agreement here Friday on
mineral prospecting, exploration and feasibility study for developing gold
and copper deposits in the country's northern Kachin state.

This is the first agreement for a Chinese company to carry out mineral
prospecting and exploration in Myanmar.

In recent years, more than a dozen foreign companies including those from
Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the United
States have been participating in mineral extraction in Myanmar, with
Canadian companies specializing in copper mining.

According to official statistics, foreign investment in Myanmar's mining
sector amounted to 501.36 million U.S. dollars in 43 related projects at
the end of May this year. The latest statistics also show that the output
value of Myanmar's mining sector rose 1.5 percent in the 1997-98 fiscal
year which ended in March as compared with the previous year. 


27 November, 1998 


Three tourists who strayed into Burma last week have  been moved from the
border: area where they were detained further into the country for more

A Burmese government official said yesterday the trio were found-inside
Burma's territory without legal permission and had been brought to Tang,
about 175 kilometers from where they were detained.

An investigation by immigration officials was under way, the official said.

In Thailand, a military intelligence officer who monitors the border
identified the tourists as American citizen Michael John Radix, 40; a
Canadian resident of Hong Kong, Joseph Frank, 34 and Dirk Rommeswinkel of
Germany. Burmese authorities have not confirmed the identities.

The Thai officer, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the
Burmese border troops who detained the tourists confiscated a global
positioning device, used for identifying grid coordinates on maps.

The three were seen riding rented motorcycles in the rugged border region
around Thailand's western Mae Hong Son province last week. Thai troops saw
them drive across the frontier at Ban Mai Kai On Pass but were unable to
get their attention.


27 November, 1998 by AJ Sloot-van Dijk 

First, let me congratulate U Win Mange on his appointment as Minister of
Foreign Affairs. A challenging job considering the difficulties Myanmar is
facing today. This is an open letter to him:

I wish you strength and wisdom in your new capacity.

I have written many letters to your predecessor, on a subject that is a
heavy burden on the hearts of many people here in the Netherlands. With you
as the new minister in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, I hope that at least
my inquiring letters will be answered, and some of our worries taken away.

I am referring in particular to the case of San Myaing a student who was
arrested after joining demonstrations on Dec 10 and 11, 1991, at the
University of Engine and Mandalay. These demonstrations called for the
release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. I know of
approximately 900 students who' were arrested during or after these protests.

San was sentenced to ten years imprisonment by a military tribunal in July
1992 during his imprisonment in Ensign Prison, where he was held in the
Thai Than section. In 1994 he and 30 other political prisoners were
transferred from Ensign prison to either Myingyan prison in Magway division
or Taungoo prison in Baa division.

I hope that you can confirm the whereabouts of San that he is welltreated,
that he is provided with adequate food and medical attention, and that
relatives, lawyers and doctors have prompt and regular access to him.
Further I ask for your support to obtain full details, if available, about
the charges against San, his place of detention and for any trial reports
relating to his case. - The perception at the ministry may have been that
if people posing questions are not given any response such inquiries will
stop eventually. On the contrary, more the worries, more activities are
being organized to find out what the current situation of that prisoner is.

I will close by expressing my view that the release of political prisoners
would begin to create a measure of good faith and hopefully set the scene
for profound reforms' in Myanmar's human rights policies and practices. I
am curious to learn what your ideas in this regard are.


27 November, 1998 


A plan to relocate thousands of Karen refugees to a new holding center in
Plop Para district has faced strong opposition from local people.

The villagers have expressed fears that the presence of more than 20,000
refugees in the holding center located in the upper part of the watershed,
south of Umphiam Ma village, would cause massive forest destruction.

Tong Sa Lee, 48, an assistant village head of Umphiam Ma village, who led
his villagers to oppose the plan, said refugees, if moved to the watershed
area, would turn the fertile forest areas into cultivation plots through a
slash-and-burn practice.

He said: "We have experienced forest destruction in many areas where
refugee camps are located. These refugees normally clear forest areas and
turn them into cultivation plots. If the refugees are moved to the
watershed area near my village, many trees will be felled.

"The presence of the refugees will also pose a security threat to local
people. The holding center is vulnerable to robberies as it is only 10 km
from the border. If the refugees bring weapons and round up our village,
our lives will be affected," added Mr Tong.

The leading villager said he would mobilize villagers to join forces
against the relocation scheme.

C'est Bannavat, a Democrat MP for Tak urged concerned agencies to listen to
opinions of local people before going ahead with the relocation plan.

"The relocation of refugees should get the consent of local people.
Personally, I agree with villagers' concern about forest destruction. Now,
our forest has dwindled. We cannot afford to lose any forest plot for
certain groups of people.

"Authorities should improve safety measures at old camps rather than moving
the refugees to a new site," said Mr C'est.

Tak provincial authorities have planned to relocate a total of 8,202 Karen
refugees from Hay Kalok camp in Ma Sot district and some 8,435 refugees
from Macer camp in Plop Para district to a 817-Ra holding center located in
the national forest reserve near Umphiam Ma village.

The authorities also planned to move 9,866 more refugees from Nu Po camp in
Umphang district after the refugees from the two camps are relocated in the
holding center.


27 November, 1998 

Borderline Video
New Video Releases
November 1998

Two new films made by members of Burmese communities are now available
through Borderline Video.

1. "Life After Landmines" 
Landmine survivors now living in Karen refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese
border reflect on their experiences and illustrate a record of their
activities. Their film offers an insight into the challenges they share in
managing their new lives, and the personal courage and quiet determination
they need.
October '98.
Available in Karen, Burmese or English language.
30 minutes

2. "Living with Fear in the Forest" is a view across an internally
displaced community in Karen State, made by local people. Centering on the
testimony of a young woman and the effects on her family, the video
explains causes of internal displacement within Burma's ethnic states and
shows consequences of this nationwide policy on affected rural populations.
September '98.
English language.
20 minutes.

Existing title:
"Facing the Fire" was the first film made with Borderline Video. It is a
retrospective of the effects of the 1997 dry season offensive in Karen
State, and is a testament to the continuing circumstances faced by rural
communities in Burma's militarised areas.
January '98.
Karen or English language.
25 minutes.

If you would like to order any of these videos or find out more about the
work, please contact us.

P.O. Box 21
Srinakharinwirot Post Office
Bangkok 10117
e-mail: cfisher@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, win6@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Borderline Video supports members of Burmese minorities to make films about
their lives, and works towards helping their views and voices reach local
and wider audiences. We are a small, non-profit co-operative.

Borderline Video