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Belgian Newspaper De Morgen on Inte

Subject: Belgian Newspaper De Morgen on Interpol

Belgium - media
The well read and thick Belgian Daily De Morgen has a headline on page 12
(they eg carry nine pages of national news, for example).

De Morgen 28 Jan 1999

Heroin conference by Interpol in Burma is disputed 

Brussel - from our reporter 

The worldwide operating police organisation Interpol is holding a her
fourth international heroin conference late Februar. Interpol has decided
to hold this conference in the lions den: Rangoon, capital of Burma -
officially Myanmar. That country is for years been knowns as the big centre
of the golden triangle because of the ten-thousands of acres of poppies,
the source material of which opium is made. 
"This conference is a legitimization of the Burmese junta," says
Agalev-member of Parliament Lode Vanoost, whom asked question about it to
minister of justice Tony van Parys (CVP). The commission on Foreign Affairs
only last week agreed on a resolution that requests the Belgian government
to become more active in isolating the Burmese junta. 
Since the military in 1988 took control - and answered the massive election
victory in 1990 of Nobelpeacelaureate Aung San Suu Kyi by a ruthless
crack-down - Burma became one of the most important producers of heroin.
For years there have been official reports on the close ties between the
military state-machine and the drug-dealers. Powerful, almost mythical
druglords such as Khun ssa en Lo Hsing Han were given a carte blanche to
whitewash their drug-profits by investing it in amongst others
infrastructure and toerism. 
Drugs-experts and Asia-specialist were amazed therefore not a little when
they heard that Interpol of all countries choose Burma to talk about
heroin. The interpol conference co-incides with the junta's recently
launched program to eradicate the growing of poppies within 15 years.
Recently there was confiscated 5.390 kilos of opiuem, 5.000 people were
arrested and 16 opium-refineries and 17.800 hectares of opium would have
been destroyed on the border of Laos, China and Thailand. 
The regime hopes for better relations with the US and Europe, after in the
last years because of ngative publicity over drugdealing and human righst
violations tens of larger companies withdrew from the country. The
conference will further enhance this credibility. "One says that by
co-operating one can make stronger those elements in a society that are not
involved with crimes. But the Burmese regime is so intricately connected
that is should be condemned as a whole. I hope the conference will be
annulled. Van Parys has promised (us) that he will raise the issue in a
European context." 
Even within Interpol itself the conference is controversial. Sources within
the police state that the members of the delegation were given detailed
instruction to remain low profile.. "For all European polici-functionaries
is ordered that they are not allowed to say anything and can not make a
statement from which the regime can get political support," according to a
well-informed source.