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The BurmaNet News: February 3, 1999
- Subject: The BurmaNet News: February 3, 1999
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 20:00:00
------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: February 3, 1999
Noted in Passing: "There is also the issue of security. One advantage of this
site is that it appears to be slightly more, um, sedate." - MDX Official (see
THE NATION: 3D VISION - THE SALWEEN RIVER UNDER ATTACK AGAIN)
NLD: STATEMENT 12 (1/99) - TREATMENT OF PRISONERS
MIC: U OHN MYINT PARDONED, RELEASED
JOC: RIGHTS ADVOCATES WARY OF LINKING AID TO DEMOCRACY
THE NATION: 3D VISION - SALWEEN RIVER UNDER ATTACK
REUTERS: ARMY POISED TO DEPORT KAREN ASYLUM SEEKERS
THE NATION: EU STANDS FIRM ON BURMESE ATTENDANCE
ANNOUNCEMENT: DUTCH FREE BURMA DINNER
ANNOUNCEMENT: MESSAGES OF FREEDOM
NLD: STATEMENT 12 (1/99) - TREATMENT OF PRISONERS
22 January, 1999
National League for Democracy
NO (97/B), West Shwegondine Road
Statement NO: 12(1/99)
Contents of letter dated 20 January 1999 from the Chairman of the National
League for Democracy to the chairman of the Peace and Development Council
relating to incidents of illegal incarceration, and persecution of NLD members
in the Mandalay Division are made public for all to know.
START "xxx 1. Objections to the illegal, unwarranted and enforced
of NLD members by the Military Intelligence Unit No 15 in Meiktila township of
the Mandalay Division were lodged with the township Multiparty General
Commission in accordance with the law. With regard to the illegality of the
incarceration, arguments have been stated in the matter under reference.
2. (1) In retaliation to the legal objections, the MIS 15, without
consultation and with habitual arrogance arrested the members.
(a) On the 26 December 1998 the following members were arrested: U Ye Naung, U
Tin Maung, U Aung Moe, U Kyaw Htwe Oo, U Aye Thein (Joint Secretary), U
and U Hla Tun (ordinary member). U Hla Tun was released the same day.
(b) More arrests followed. They were U Thein Aung (Vice chairman), U Htoon
Shwe, U San Tun, U Thaung Shein, U Maung Maung, U Sein Ywet and Daw Tin Tin
(c) Daw Myint Myint Aye (Secretary of the township organising committee) had
been arrested and incarcerated since the 6 September 1998.
(d) Dr. Thein Lwin (Chairman of township organising committee and
parliamentarian-elect) had also been arrested and incarcerated since 6
(2) That is why the fifteen members of the Meiktila township organising
committee have been illegally arrested and incarcerated.
3. Our information is that on 6 January 1999, U Htun and U Sein Ywet were
examined by an unidentified civilian doctor who was called in despite the fact
that there are many military doctors at the Meiktila Military Base, where
Infantry, Artillery, Armour and Air Force units are based. Therefore there is
cause for suspicion.
4. After examination the doctor left and the persons exercising authority made
each of them swallow five tablets all in one go.
5. (1) Our information is that U Than Maung suffered mental derangement
that same night and behaved violently shouting and screaming. He also suffered
muscular pain forcing him to somersault and attempt to throw himself out of
window. Those exercising authority did not send him to the hospital
but had him manacled. This shameless and brutal response by the holders of
authority indicates their complete lack of human feeling and compassion. He
later sent to the hospital and the information we have is that instead of
given medical treatment, his hands and legs were bound.
(2) Our information is that he was taken to the Meiktila Police Station 2
on 7 January where he was photographed and sent home. We understand that there
has been no improvement in his health.
6. U Than Maung was in good health at the time of his illegal arrest. What and
how the medicine prescribed by the doctor who examined him was to be taken in
not known. There are many unknown factors in this matter. A report sent by
connected and concerned persons to the Central Executive Committee contains
statement that "MIS 15 will be held entirely responsible for the mental and
physical health of those they have incarcerated". The Central Executive
Committee endorses this statement.
7. The thirst for illegal brutality not being satiated, the MIS 15 have now
dispatched all those incarcerated with the exception of Dr. Thein Lwin, Daw
Myint Myint Aye and U Than Maung to the prison of Meiktila.
8. The above illegal persecutions inflicted by those in authority are
intolerable and are indicative of a total absence of humane feelings for one's
fellow beings. It is the authorities who are committing the crimes. It is no
offence whatsoever to endeavour and have aspirations for the good of the
country in accordance with one's personal convictions. Therefore, the National
League for Democracy condemns the actions of the authorities and urges you to
take suitable action as required against those offending the law.
Central Executive Committee
National League for Democracy
MYANMAR INFORMATION COMMITTEE: U OH MYINT PARDONED, RELEASED
2 February, 1999 from <okkar66129@xxxxxxx>
[Information Sheets issued under the email addresses MYANPERSP@xxxxxxx and
OKKAR66129@xxxxxxx match those issued by the Directorate of Defence Services
Intelligence (DDSI) in Rangoon, and can be assumed to reflect official SPDC
Information Sheet No. A-0785(I)
U OHN MYINT PARDONED, RELEASED FROM JAIL
The Government of Myanmar announced today that, out of consideration of his
and respect for his family, it had granted a pardon to U Ohn Myint and
him from prison.
U Ohn Myint, 81, was sentenced on 28 April 1998 to seven years' imprisonment
under Section 5 (E) of the Emergency Provision Act, after being found guilty
of working with underground organizations and attempting to create
misunderstandings between the Government and ethnic groups. U Ohn Myint is a
member of the National League for Democracy.
He was given a pardon and released on January 20, 1999.
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE: RIGHTS ADVOCATES WARY OF INITIATIVE LINKING MYANMAR
29 January, 1999 by Michael S. Lelyveld
Human rights activists and exiles are concerned about an international
initiative to advance democracy in Myanmar by offering the ruling junta the
prospect of multilateral aid.
The sensitive effort by the United Nations and the World Bank to find
and economic solutions for the country formerly known as Burma is said to have
the backing of U.S., European and Japanese diplomats in Yangon (Rangoon).
The opportunity comes with the Asian economic crisis, which has drained
Myanmar's reserves, raising hopes for a deal.
The junta says no
The junta, which set aside a democratic election in 1990, has so far refused
any offer that would have strings attached.
But attempts at breakthroughs on long-standing problems may be working
elsewhere in the region.
On Wednesday, the government of Indonesia surprised critics by announcing it
may grant independence to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which it
occupied in 1975.
While Indonesia has received aid under a $42 billion loan package organized by
the International Monetary Fund in 1997, it has been under continuous pressure
to democratize since the resignation of President Suharto last year. Elections
are now scheduled for June.
But the bid for similar progress in Myanmar is controversial. "We are very
cautious about it," said [Sein] Win, prime minister of the
speaking in a phone interview from Washington. Mr. Win is concerned that the
military may be able to cede token freedoms to the National League for
Democracy party of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, while using
multilateral loans to stay in power.
"You can give a little bit of this and a little bit of that. They receive a
loan and they can hold on for a long time," he said.
U.S. and World Bank officials are also walking a fine line. Both are eager to
portray a recent Financial Times report on the initiative as either premature
or nothing new.
Last October, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Alvaro de Soto undertook a
mission to Myanmar, delicately dangling the idea of economic assistance if
progress on human rights could be made.
The United Nations has since invited the World Bank to join it for a second
mission, possibly in March. But a bank official stressed that it was far too
soon to think about any possible terms of a deal for development loans.
"There is absolutely no expectation of a turning on of the tap of development
assistance as a result of that mission," said the official, who asked not
At the same time, the bank is operating in the highly touchy area of
dollars-for-democracy, where the studiously apolitical IMF is not allowed to
tread and the bank is also formally barred. The World Bank speaks only in
of "good governance," emphasizing the building of sound institutions.
A rare chance
In that sense, the Asian crisis presents a rare chance to argue the
joining the world community to countries that have resisted change for years.
"The economic collapse has shown that you can't develop sustainably if you
focus on half the agenda," a bank official said. The Financial Times estimated
that Myanmar's size could justify more than $1 billion in loans.
A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned that
aid for Myanmar is "very much in the realm of the hypothetical." The
administration also will not accept half-measures on democracy in exchange for
"We have no interest in having the wool pulled over our eyes, and we don't
think others do either," said the official.
Simon Billenness, a senior analyst at Franklin Research & Development Corp.
a Myanmar activist, said the United States is also legally compelled to oppose
multilateral aid until it certifies that the country is cooperating with the
war on drugs.
Could take years
Certification would take years, although a U.S. official raised the
of a national security exception if other conditions are fulfilled.
But there is no sign that the military leaders of Myanmar will cooperate.
also uncertain that opposition leaders would accept any concessions for aid,
short of new elections or a handover to civilian power.
THE NATION: 3D VISION - THE SALWEEN UNDER ATTACK AGAIN
26 January, 1999 by James Fahn
Surrounded by war and shrouded in mystery, the Salween River is nevertheless
being targeted by dam-builders.
Considering its size, the Salween must be one of the most mysterious rivers in
the world. From its origins in Tibet, it flows for nearly 3,000 km through
isolated provinces in China and Burma, barely skimming Thailand's border
it reaches the sea at Moulmein.
Most of the scanty scientific information we have about the Burmese portion of
the Salween dates back more than 50 years to British colonial days. But now a
group of engineers and consultants have recently begun studying the mighty
river with the eventual aim of damming it.
There has long been talk of Burma tapping the Salween's hydroelectric
potential, and then exporting the electricity to energy-hungry Thailand. The
last time the issue popped up -- roughly five years ago -- there were
4,500-MW dam would be built at Wei Gyi, on the Thai-Burma border in Mae Hong
Son province. The resultant reservoir could have extended up through Burma's
Kayah State into Shan State, forcing the relocation of thousands of ethnic
Karen, Karenni and Shan villagers.
Since then, the financial crisis had seemingly put the project on a distant
back burner. Even if the funds were available to finance a large dam on the
Salween, electricity consumption in Thailand has dropped so dramatically that
supply now far exceeds demand.
So it came as quite a surprise last November when several NGOs based in the
North learned that a team of Thai and Japanese consultants had entered Shan
State at the Nong Ook border checkpoint in Chiang Mai province to survey a
possible dam site on the Salween. It turns out that a feasibility study is
indeed being conducted at a site located on the Salween roughly 10 km north of
Ta Hsang, where a bridge is being built across the river. The study is being
carried out by consultants from Thailand-based MDX Power through its
GMS Power, along with experts from a Japanese utility, the Electric Power
Development Corporation (EPDC).
The question most observers are asking is why look at building a dam now?
was some speculation that since Thailand is currently facing a water crisis
rather than an electricity shortage, the project would be used to divert water
from the Salween into the Chao Phraya River basin. But according to a
MDX, the project at Ta Hsang would be solely for hydro-electric power.
''While anything is possible,'' added an Egat official, ''the cost of pumping
the water into Thailand would be incredibly expensive.''
Both sources explained that a Salween dam is a long-term project, one that
take at least a decade to complete, if it goes ahead at all. Thailand has
signed a memorandum of understanding with Burma to import 1,500 MW of power by
the year 2010, they noted, although a dam at Ta Hsang would probably generate
more than 3,000 MW.
Some NGOs suspect the project may be a Japanese initiative, or is designed to
get financing from the so-called Miyazawa Plan, which aims to invest US$30
billion in Southeast Asia to help kick-start the regional economy. But the MDX
source denies seeking any money from the Miyazawa Plan, claiming his
funding the feasibility study itself.
''Working with the EPDC might help bring in other Japanese partners, including
eventually the Japanese government, but things have to improve in Burma to get
that kind of financing,'' he explains. ''There is no special reason why this
project should be in the news now. We signed the agreement [to do the
feasibility study] with the Burmese government about a year ago.''
The Egat official added that the Japanese firm Marubeni is keen on developing
hydropower facilities in Burma in much the same way that Korea's Daewoo has
been active in building dams in Laos and Vietnam. Marubeni and Ital-Thai have
almost completed a feasibility study for a dam on the Burmese portion of the
Kok River near Chiang Rai.
Meanwhile, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Burma's ruling
military junta, is reportedly eager to see a dam built on the Salween at Hat
Gyi, across the border from Tak province. The site is relatively close to
Rangoon and Mandalay, and water from a reservoir there could also be diverted
But why build a dam at Ta Hsang, way up in Shan State? The MDX official
explains that the site is ''technically promising'' -- a large volume of water
flows through a narrow gorge -- and that it is a good location in terms of
hooking up with the Thai electricity grid. ''The transmission lines wouldn't
have to go through a national park,'' he says.
''There is also the issue of security,'' he adds. ''One advantage of this site
is that it appears to be slightly more, um, sedate.''
But ''sedate'' is a relative concept in strife-torn Burma. The surveyors were
reportedly escorted by heavily-armed Burmese government troops, who are
currently carrying out their annual dry-season offensive against Shan and
ethnic minorities fighting for autonomy. The fighting, combined with SPDC
relocation programmes, have reportedly displaced hundreds of thousands of
people in Shan State, forcing many to flee into Thailand as refugees.
The SPDC also probably sees a dam on the Salween as a way to neutralise the
Shan military opposition by cutting off support from Thailand. It is a
that worked well against the Mon, who were forced to sign a ceasefire
when the Yadana pipeline was built through their territory, government troops
moved in to defend it, and Thai authorities -- who had hitherto allowed the
to move back and forth across the border -- warned them against sabotaging the
According to one report, MDX advisor Dr Subin Pinkayan, a former Democrat MP
and government minister, has already contacted the Shan opposition through
intermediaries and asked that they not interfere with the project. The Shan
States Army has allowed the survey to go ahead but warned that actual
construction might be opposed.
Tainted by their association with the narcotics trade, the Shan have often
found it difficult to gain allies, but they might be able to team up with
environmentalists in opposing a dam on the Salween. The MDX source says it
would be a run-of-the-river project in order to minimise the social and
environmental impacts, but he also admits that he doesn't know how many people
it would dislocate, or how much forest it would destroy.
''That's what we aim to find out with the study,'' he says.
We do know that in China, the valley of the Salween -- or the Nu Jiang, as it
is known there -- is incredibly abundant, home to several unique indigenous
groups, along with tigers, leopards, bears, deer, giant hawks and rare
pheasants. The Nu Jiang River Project claims that 314 different medicinal
plants have been discovered there, along with hundreds of different orchids.
Who knows what wonders will be revealed along the Burmese portion of the
The irony is that we may find out just in time to see it destroyed.
[James Fahn is a journalist currently working on the TV show Rayngan
which can be seen every Sunday at 14:00 on iTV. He can be reached via
[BurmaNet Editor's Note: To get in touch with groups working on this issue and
for updates, please contact Salween_Watch@xxxxxxxxxxx]
REUTERS: THAI ARMY POISED TO DEPORT KAREN ASYLUM SEEKERS
1 February, 1999
MAE SOT, Thailand - The Thai military said on Monday it was poised to deport
more than 800 people of Karen descent who had fled from Myanmar into Thai
They are "economic migrants" who sneaked into Huaykalok refugee camp, in
northern Tak province, last month, said Colonel Chayudhi Boonpan, task-force
commander for the area.
"These newcomers are not people escaping from fighting but are economic
migrants who have sneaked into the country to seek for work. We have to send
them back," said Chayudhi.
Nearly 60,000 Karen refugees live in four camps in Tak province, having fled
fighting between Karen National Union rebels and Myanmar government troops.
Chayudhi said the Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) and some non-government
organisations had sought a week's grace to verify if the newcomers were
refugees. If not, they would be deported, he added.
The Thai military also plans to relocate some 30,000 refugees in Tak province
to a new camp deeper inside Thailand, Chayudhi said.
A KRC official said a separate group of almost 3,000 Karen refugees had fled
their homes and were living in bushes along the banks of the Moei River, which
borders the two countries.
"They want to come to Thailand but the Thai army does not allow them in. So
they have to live in the bushes on the Myanmar side of the river but cannot
return to their villages because Myanmar troops have taken over their
villages," he said.
A total of 100,000 Myanmar refugees of Karen origin have fled fighting in
homeland to live in several sprawling camps in Thailand's Tak, Mae Hong Son
Kanchanaburi border provinces.
THE NATION: EU STANDS FIRM ON BURMESE ATTENDANCE AT BERLIN MEETING
2 February, 1999
BRUSSELS - European Union sanctions will not be eased to allow Burma to fully
participate in an EU-Asean summit scheduled for Berlin at the end of March,
foreign ministers from the 15 EU states agreed on Monday.
The decision means that, as the EU has a ban on issuing visas for members of
Burma's military dictatorship, Rangoon's foreign minister will be effectively
banned from the talks.
This raises the possibility that delegates from the Association of South East
Asian Nations (Asean), of which Burma is a member, will refuses to attend.
However, Thailand will continue to seek Burma's full participation at the
meeting and will solve current EU-Asean difference over the Burmese
participation that has twice postponed its scheduled technical meeting, a Thai
Foreign Ministry source said yesterday.
The source said permanent secretary Saroj Chavanaviraj, who left for Germany
last night, will try to convince EU members that the EU-Asean ministerial
meeting is a bloc to bloc meeting and should be represented by minister level
Thailand is the coordinator on the Asean side for the EU-Asean meeting and
on the Asian side for the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem). The EU-Asean meeting
be held back-to-back with the Asem foreign ministers meeting scheduled for
March 28-29 in Berlin.
The source said the official invitation to participants of both meetings has
not been sent.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook meanwhile said he was "delighted" that
ministers had "agreed that the presence of the Burmese foreign minister would
be a clear breach of our agreed common position".
Cook, however, indicated that the ministers had agreed that Burma could be
represented at the talks by a lower-ranking official. Diplomats said this
official could conceivably be the country's deputy foreign minister.
Germany, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, was mandated to
pursue negotiations with Thailand to prevent the row over Burma wrecking the
The EU and Asean have been at loggerheads over relations with Burma's military
dictatorship since the summer of 1997, when the country was brought into the
south east Asian grouping in the face of intense opposition from the United
States and Europe.
Since then there has been no formal contact between the two blocs. An attempt
to mend fences with a meeting of senior officials in Bangkok this week broke
down in an acrimonious dispute over the terms of Burma's "presence" at the
The EU hopes to open a human rights dialogue with Burma despite the diplomatic
row which scuttled talks.
Hermann Erath, Germany's ambassador to Thailand, said on Monday the EU was
seeking to open a "dialogue" with Burma over its human rights problems.
Diplomats in Brussels, however, were skeptical about the prospects of such an
initiative leading anywhere.
"The despots that run Burma have never given the slightest indication that
are willing to have a dialogue with anyone about human rights," one source
ANNOUNCEMENT: DUTCH FREE BURMA DINNER
2 February, 1999 from <ajsloot@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Please find info on the Dutch Free Burma Dinner at:
Best, Anja Sloot
ANNOUNCEMENT: MESSAGES FOR FREEDOM
28 January, 1999 from <shikano@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
"Messages for Freedom" is a Special Interview with 3 Nobel Peace Prize
including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Jose Ramos Horta, and Dalai Lama. This
interview is a part of the events to commemorate Kyoto Seika University's 30th
Two persons from Kyoto Seika University met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at Tin U's
(vice chairman of NLD) house on July 15 1998.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned not only the current political situation in
Burma and her policy, but her personal history and a message to the younger
Video and text of the interview is now accessible on the Web
SHIKANO Kenichi, Office of International Education, KYOTO SEIKA UNIVERSITY