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BurmaNet News, February 7, 2000

=========== The BurmaNet News ===========
Monday, February 7, 2000
Issue # 1456


Inside Burma--

















Sunday, February 06, 2000


LOI TAI LIANG, Thai-Myanmar Border - High up on a cold mountain, amid 
the swirling mists, die-hard rebel leaders dream of winning their 
half-century-old and little-known struggle for independence.

Chances for victory seem as remote as the location: the bloodied, 
impoverished and Shangri-La-looking swath of eastern Myanmar known as 
Shan State.

The ethnic Shans, who are related to the Thais across the border, have 
been fighting for autonomy since Myanmar, also known as Burma, achieved 
independence from Britain in 1948. They have never been close to 
victory, but neither have their ragtag armies ever been snuffed out.

They are putting their latest hopes in yet another alliance among 
Myanmar's rebellious minorities - there have been dozens over the years 
- and in the recent foreign interventions to protect oppressed peoples
in places like Kosovo and East Timor, a new trend in world affairs.

"It will be difficult, but who would have imagined 25 years ago that 
East Timor would be independent today?" said Sao Ood Kase, spokesman for 
the Shan State Army at Loi Tai Liang, a ragged bamboo-and-thatch 
encampment whose name translates as "The Mountain of Shan Hope."

The forces arrayed against the Shan State Army and other insurgents are 
formidable: a powerful Myanmar army that employs scorched-earth tactics, 
a lack of global strategic importance and, in some cases, tarnished
reputations for suspected narcotics trafficking.

"We have reached our hands out for help from the international community 
but so far there is no response," said Col. Yawd Serk, the 41-year-old 
Shan State Army commander who says he took to the hills as a teenager
after ethnic Burman youths gang-raped his girlfriend.

No military threat The Myanmar government says the Shan State Army poses 
no military threat and brings only harm to the local population.

The rebels, who claim to field 12,000 fighters but probably have fewer, 
have a wish list including a United Nations seat, international 
condemnation of the military regime's human rights abuses, and foreign 
aid to help refugees and eradicate opium by planting alternate crops.

At the recent Shan new year, the rebel army sought to spread its message 
by inviting a few foreign journalists and non-governmental organizations 
to join the festivities.

Hundreds of guerrillas, refugees and villagers gathered at the mountain 
base, some 6 miles from the nearest Myanmar military outpost.

For two nights, from dusk to dawn, drums and gongs resounded over the 
surrounding forest. Huddled by fires, the celebrants watched folk plays 
and dancers costumed as mythical creatures drawn from a history 
stretching back 2,500 years.

Although the jury is still out on whether the Shan State Army is tied to 
the narcotics trade, the deeply ingrained spirit of Shan nationalism has 
often become entangled with drugs.

Some Shan leaders in the past, like the notorious Khun Sa, were 
basically drug warlords, while others used the only available source of 
funds - opium and heroin - to fuel a genuine struggle against Myanmar's 
oppressive regime.

"The world still believes we are drug traffickers but nobody has come 
here to see the reality," said Yawd Serk. "We learned that if you become 
involved in drugs, it will corrupt you in the end."

The bespectacled colonel, reputed to be a tough, effective commander, 
fought alongside Khun Sa until the latter cut a deal with Myanmar's 
rulers in 1996 and absconded to the capital, Yangon.

Yawd Serk contends his cause is financed only by taxes and donations 
from rich Shans. But sources within his command said that while the 
rebel army shuns drug trafficking, it does tax narcotics passing through
its area.

The Shans say they have suffered abuses from Myanmar's government on a 
par with those inflicted in Kosovo, East Timor and other places where 
the world intervened.

Forced from villages Amnesty International estimates more than 300,000 
people in Shan State have been forced from their villages into towns or 
holding centers in a military drive since 1996 to deprive the rebels of 
support in the countryside. The campaign is similar to those conducted 
farther south in Myanmar, where ethnic Karen and Karenni insurgents 

Shan refugees speak of villages set aflame, residents shot, women raped 
and relocated people forced to work for the Myanmar army without food or 

The government in Yangon denies mistreating the Shans. It says the Shan 
State Army is trying to secure international support and sympathy by 
leveling charges of ethnic cleansing and repression.

At the new year celebration, Shans talked about abuses at the hands of 
the government's army.

With her 3-year-old daughter clinging to her legs, Nang Seng Tong told 
of soldiers shooting her 82-year-old grandmother and uncle when they 
were too slow to leave their village. She said the troops also burned 
houses with children trapped inside.

Nothing to hope for "There is nothing to hope for," she concluded.

But then she listened with other refugees, many of them widows and 
children, as Yawd Serk spoke of sacrifice and hope ahead.

Yawd Serk said an alliance among the five ethnic groups - Shan, Karen, 
Chin, Karenni, Arakanese - still fighting the government could soon 
coalesce. And he predicted other groups that had made peace with the 
military would rejoin the struggle.

If that happened, Myanmar's hidden war, which began at the twilight of 
the British Empire, could last well into the new century.


U.S. Newswire 
4 Feb 14:04 

Spread of HIV in Southeast Asia Linked to Overland Heroin Trafficking 

Contact: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, 
Office of Public Affairs, 410-955-6878; 
E-mail: paffairs@xxxxxxxxx 

BALTIMORE, Feb. 4 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Using groundbreaking 
methods, a team of international researchers led by an investigator at 
the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has found that outbreaks of 
injection drug use (IDU) and HIV-1 in Burma, India, China, and Vietnam 
are associated with overland heroin trafficking routes originating in 
Burma and Laos. 

Injection drug users are well known to play important 
epidemiologic roles in the early spread of HIV through their 
needle-sharing and sexual behaviors; until now, however, the 
relationship between overland heroin trafficking routes and the spread 
of HIV in South and Southeast Asia has not been appreciated. The study 
appeared in the January 2000 (14:1) issue of AIDS. 

According to lead author, Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, associate scientist, 
Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, "Our findings 
suggest there is a clear and urgent need for India, China, Vietnam, 
Burma, and their neighbors to consider and, where appropriate, implement 
strategies to reduce HIV transmission 
risks." However, he cautioned, "Single-country narcotics and HIV 
programs are unlikely to succeed unless the regional narcotic-based 
economy is also addressed." Dr. Beyrer has also written a book, "War in 
the Blood: Sex, Politics, and AIDS in Southeast Asia," which shows how 
the interplay of culture and politics within seven 
countries in the region influenced each nation's response to the AIDS 

Dr. Beyrer and his team developed a unique research approach using tools 
from widely varying disciplines. For the first time, the molecular 
epidemiology of HIV-1, field-based research with drug users and their 
communities, and existing information on narcotics 
production and control were all brought together. The results 
demonstrated how molecular epidemiology can be used for mapping the 
spread of HIV along heroin trafficking routes. Of equal importance 
was the use of this methodology in identifying and characterizing 
overland drug routes. The team was also able to assess the impact of 
heroin trafficking on local communities through a series of confidential 
key-informant interviews with injection drug users, 
drug traffickers, local and ethnic leaders, public health staff, and 
narcotics control personnel in India, Burma, China, and Thailand. 

The study found that recent HIV outbreaks coincided closely with four 
main drug trafficking routes -- eastern Burma to China's Yunnan 
Province; eastern Burma to northwestern China; Burma and Laos through 
northern Vietnam and into southern China; and western 
Burma to the Manipur State in northeastern India. 

The Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia, composed of 
northern and eastern Burma, western Laos, and northern Thailand, has 
been a major center of opium poppy cultivation since the nineteenth 
century. Burma now produces about 60 percent of the world's heroin, and 
heroin use in Burma has been on the rise since 
1988. Predictably, the country has one of Asia's most severe epidemics 
of HIV infection. Laos is the world's third leading producer of opium. 
Thailand is no longer a significant producer, largely through government 
efforts aimed at reducing poppy cultivation. 

This study was supported in part by a grant from the Fogarty 
International Center of the National Institutes of Health. 



Feb, 2000

Arakan Rohingya National Organization

The Na Sa Ka (border security force) and MI (military Intelligence) 
personnel have been confiscating Muslim lands and carrying out 
agricultural projects with the forced labour of Muslims in all parts of 
north Arakan. 

Muslim slaves have to till the land, water the plot, plant the seeds, 
spread fertilisers and fence the project site. In the course of their 
work they are being abused and beaten. Recently, 5 acres of land 
belonging to Yin Ma village mosque endowment property and 7 acres of 
farmland west of Taungbazar township have been confiscated and the said 
agricultural projects have been carried out over the same.



Feb, 2000

Arakan Rohingya National Organization

On the night of 27.12.99 Burmese and Bangladesh border security forces 
traded heavy machine gun and mortar fire at Taungbro on their common 
border about 40 Km south of Cox'' Bazar. The firing lasted for more than 
three hours. A BDR official Col. Wali told the news media that the BDR 
came under unprovoked fire from the Burmese side. Interestingly the 
incident coincided with the naming Monday of Ohn Thwin, a 48-year old 
army brigadier, as Burma's new ambassador to Bangladesh. Brigadier 
Thwin, who was Divisional commander of the Military operation command in 
Rangoon before being posted to Bangladesh, will succeed incumbent Tint 
Lwin, an official announcement said, but did not specify when Thwin will 
arrive in Dhaka. In the year Dec.1991, Burmese forces overran a Rayzu 
Para BDR camp near the border killing one paramilitary soldier. A BDR 
official also alleged "They often intrude into our territory and abduct 
fishermen and wood cutters" adding nearly 300 Bangladeshis, mostly 
fishermen were now in Myanmar jails. The official said the fishermen had 
been charged falsely with illegal fishing.



Agence France Presse 

February 6, 2000, Sunday 
   The UN's global trade meet which gets underway in Bangkok next 
week-end aims to heal the wounds of previous violence-marred talks in 
Seattle and Davos, top officials said Sunday. 

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) secretary 
general Rubens Ricupero said he hoped to lay the groundwork for new 
rounds of revitalised trade liberalization talks where developing 
nations were given a real voice. 

"For us trade is not the end. Trade is a means towards development," he 
told reporters on arrival in Bangkok. 

"We are confident in our conference there will be opportunity for what 
could be called the healing process after Seattle ... regaining the 
momentum, particularly as far as developing countries are concerned." 

December's World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Seattle, Washington, 
collapsed as members failed to reach common ground on how to fairly 
tackle agriculture, biotechnology, workers' rights and environmental 
safeguards in a new round. 

The Seattle talks, and a high-powered meeting of the World Economic 
Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week were marred by bitter and 
sometimes violent protests by groups warning the new global economy 
risks widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots. 

Ricupero said the UNCTAD meet in Bangkok would seek to forge new 
relationships between governments and non-state sectors concerned about 
the affects of trade liberalisation on the ability of less powerful 
developing nations to compete in the global marketplace. 

"It is necessary to take their concerns very seriously and try to 
identify what the reasons are behind all those manifestations, and what 
we can do in international organisations to channel those feelings 
towards a constructive cause. 

"I hope that our conference will provide them with a public space, 
because I think it is dangerous to confine the protests to the street 
level," Ricupero said. 

He said the week-long UNCTAD meeting would deal with many of the same 
issues as the WTO and World Economic Forum in terms of liberalising 
trade in agriculture, industrial goods and services and how to tackle 
problems of implementation of previous rounds of talks. 

The UN's trade and development chief, Rubens Ricupero, warned on Sunday 
that protests must be allowed at the world body's global trade meet 
starting in Bangkok next weekend. 

The warning comes amid a security crack-down by Thai authorities eager 
to prevent a repeat of violence by anti-globalisation activists which 
marred World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle last year and the more 
recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

Ricupero, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 
secretary general, said it was vital dissenting voices be heard and that 
the Bangkok meeting be used to heal old wounds. 

"I hope that our conference will provide them with a public space, 
because I think it is dangerous to confine the protests to the street 
level," Ricupero said. 

"It is necessary to take their concerns very seriously and try to 
identify what the reasons are behind all those manifestations, and what 
we can do in international organisations to channel those feelings 
towards a constructive cause." 

He said the UN had "full confidence" in Thailand's security arrangements 
for the conference to be held between February 12 and 19. 

"We trust that they will do what they find is necessary," he told 
reporters at a press conference after arriving in Bangkok Sunday 

Thai police chiefs Wednesday promised to permit anti-globalisation 
protests during the meeting, but have banned demonstrations near the 

"As of now we haven't found a suitable venue for demonstrations, but we 
are looking for potential places," National Police Chief General Pracha 
Promnog said. 

Security in the capital has been stepped up, with police already on 
alert following last month's seizure of a hospital west of Bangkok along 
with hundreds of patients and staff by Myanmar insurgents. 

Thai authorities insist a current round-up of illegal immigrants in 
Bangkok follwoing the hostage crisis is unrelated to UNCTAD security 

"There is no direct connection between the delegates from the countries 
who are coming to the conference and any kind of round-up based on 
countries of origin," said Kobsak Chutikul, director of the foreign 
ministry's economics department. 

"The press reports perhaps are reporting over-enthusiasm and a sense of 
concern by those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of 
making security arrangements." 

More than 6,622 police officers will be deployed across the capital 
during the week-long conference, while thousands of delegates, including 
a number of heads of state, from more than 100 nations are expected to 



Facilitating Policy Options for a Democratic Transition
January 29-30 2000 Washington D.C


Saturday, January 29, 2000

I am very pleased to have opportunity to join all of you this morning to 
open important conference on Burma. The location of the conference, the 
American University, one of great learning centers in the US, is a very 
appropriate venue for a conference like this where we can learn from one 
another, share experiences, and work together on strategies to advance 
the struggle for a just and democratic Burma.

As an active participant of the democratic movement in the last twelve 
years, I have come to realize the importance of information and 
knowledge as essential tools for our movement. If it is often said that 
knowledge is power. And that is why this conference is so important. We 
are deeply grateful that so many distinguished thinkers, researches, 
analysts, scholars
and leaders have been willing to join us to share the power of their 
knowledge and experience. Your knowledge and your commitment to our 
cause are enormous assets. It is my conviction, and it is the 
fundamental premise  of this conference, that these assets, the power of 
your knowledge and insight, are sources of power that can help to end 
the nightmare of the people of Burma. We are committed to doing 
everything possible to put the power of the knowledge to work in the 
most effective ways possible. We begin with this conference. And this 
conference begins with you. And, may I say on behalf of the people of 
Burma, thank you for being willing to support the struggle for a free 
and democratic Burma. Thank you for joining in this important 
conference. it is my hope that it will serve as the starting point
of a process that will continue to strengthen our cause.

In many ways, our struggle is a struggle of ideas. Our struggle began 
with the basic idea of freedom and democracy where the citizens  of 
Burma have the basic right to control their own destiny. We offered this 
idea to the people of Burma, as an alternative to the repression and 
tyranny of a military dictatorship. The citizens of Burma responded 

And, while the generals have been able to hold the people of Burma 
captive by the force of the gun, they have utterly failed to capture 
their minds and hearts, now extinguish their thirst for the vital ideals 
of democracy and freedom. The generals are powerless before these ideas. 
That is why there ideas and principles continue to flourish in Burma, 
just as they did in 1990 when the National League for Democracy was 
chosen by the people of Burma to lead our nation forward.

Today, the idea of "democracy" is widely accepted in Burma. Even the 
military regime is forced to publicy claim that they support 
"democracy". They seem to think, however, that it too can be controlled 
by the force of
their will, as they try to come up with a so called "democratic system" 
that will keep them in power, despite the popular will of the citizens 
of Burma. As powerful as their guns might be, they are no match for the 
power of the idea of democracy and freedom.

A while ago, many of our Asian friends advanced the idea that strong 
economic growth will lead to open political systems. Many Asian 
countries, therefore, poured huge investments into Burma claiming that 
their investments will eventually bring an end to the police state. This 
'constructive engagement' idea, long opposed by the National League of 
Democracy, never kept its promise to the people of Burma. Instead, they 
produced miserable consequences and human suffering where our people 
experienced a wide range of human rights abuses while the economy of 
Burma continued to fail.

Recently, we have heard from certain scholars advancing the idea of 
so-called 'civil society' in Burma. They argue that the only road to 
democracy is to work with the generals, within the current system, and 
nature a civil society that will somehow overcome an oppressive 
dictatorship. While they may be sincere and well meaning, the advocates 
of this from or engagement are just as wrong as those committed to 
economic engagement. The consequences are equally disastrous. Increasing 
the capacity of a civil society that is built on oppression and tyranny 
will only sustain and strengthen that tyranny. It also negates the 
efforts of concerned government and institutions that are pressuring the 
regime to start a dialogue with the NLD. These ideas are another example 
of good intentions that, if left unchallenged, lead to bad consequences. 
The losers, again, are the long suffering people of Burma. They deserve 

To prevail, the powerful idea of a free and democratic Burma needs 
powerful and committed allies. That is why it is so important that you 
are here. You all bring strengths to this struggle.  The power of your 
knowledge, insight and commitment can give life to the idea of a true 
democracy in Burma. What we need is to focus the power of this knowledge 
in a way that gives maximum strength to our movement and therefore, 
maximum support to the people of Burma. That is the purpose of this 
conference. It is also one of the primary reasons that we were eager to 
help create the Burma Fund. Its mission is to use the knowledge and 
experience that we have gained in our twelve years of democratic 
struggle to build a foundation for a democratic transition in Burma. It 
will also serve as a resource to organize the follow-up activities and 
research that we hope that this conference will generate. It is my hope, 
therefore, that the Burma Fund will become a resource for every one here 
as we move forward together.

Once again, on behalf of the people of Burma who dream of the day when 
they are free, thank you for your support and for your willingness to 
participate in this important conference. Let us dedicate ourselves to 
converting the enormous power of knowledge and commitment that is here 
today into a force that no totalitarian regime-regardless of how many 
guns in their arsenal-can withstand

Thank you.


(Burma into Millennium: Facilitating Policy Options for the Democratic 
Organized by The Burma Fund
Sponsored by National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society 
Institute, and the School of International Services, American University 
in partnership with Free Burma Coalition, Joint-Action Committee, 
Burmese Women Union and Democratic Burmese Student Organization At 
Beeghly Chemistry Building, Lecture Theater 1
January 29 to 31 2000


NCUB Information Committee

Date : 7th February2000

On February 3, 2000 the Burmese military regime shut down recently 
reopened Government Technological Colleges (GTC) in Thanlyan and Hmabe 
(Rangoon Division) after student protests. Elsewhere, GTCs from Hin 
Thada and Ma U Bin were also closed in mid January of 2000 because of 
prevailing instability among students. 

Students are calling for the cancellation of the newly introduced 
education system and its accompanying repressive regulations. They are 
also demanding access to high-level university degrees instead of the 
college degrees offered under the new system. The ongoing protests 
testify to the anger and frustration of students who have repeatedly 
been denied access to education and basic student rights.

Most universities in Burma have been closed since the 1996 student 
demonstrations. On 16 December 1999, in response to pressure from the 
international community, particularly Japan, the junta selectively 
opened newly founded Government Technical Colleges (GTCs) in 30 
different locations. These GTCs are designed to replace the Yangon and 
Mandalay Institutes of Technology (YIT&MIT). 

Under the new education system, students previously admitted to YIT/MIT 
are dispersed throughout 30 regional GTCs. Students are unable to 
organize or hold discussions, and classes are taught by sub-standard 
teachers in make-shift classrooms. In addition, course time has been 
drastically cut. Achieving a degree at a GTC will take 4 academic years 
instead of the 6 years previously required at YIT or MIT. GTCs will only 
offer college level degrees, instead of the university level education 
offered by YIT/MIT. The administration of the GTCs has been transferred 
from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Science and 

The opening of the GTCs was a superficial gesture designed to placate 
the international community. U Maung Maung Aye, the General Secretary of 
NCUB, said, "The current student unrest proves the regime is not sincere 
in its desire to effectively solve the country's social crisis, 
particularly in education. Whenever they deal with international 
pressure, the regime is clearly fishing for quid pro quo benefits of an 
up front financial nature. Finally these superficial quick fixes turn 
out to be failures and in some cases damage the situation."

The recent protests and closures of the GTCs demonstrate the 
regime痴 unwillingness to implement real change in Burma痴 
education system. A comprehensive strategy is needed to prevent the 
regime from manipulating the good will of the international community. 

For further information please contact: 66 55 533 067
For information regarding NCUB please see:



Help Free Burma! Join students, professionals, and any person who takes 
in interest in freedom and democracy and attend the international Free 
Burma Coalition conference.

On April 1-3rd, 2000, hundred of people from around the world will join 
together in Washington, DC to promote freedom and democracy in Burma. We 
will invite members of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the 
Club, Earthrights International, and students from over 100 universities 
in the United States, Canada, Thailand, Sweden, England, France, 
Ireland, Japan, and more. Jennifer Quigley from George Washington 
jquigley@xxxxxxx is the conference convener.

We will also discuss the possible pending action at the World Trade 
Organization. A couple of years ago, Japan and the European Union filed 
suit against the State of Massachusetts for refusing to do business with 
companies that operate in Burma. The state law in Massachusetts would 
probably have been overturned by the WTO, simply because Massachusetts 
didn't want to support human rights abuses in Burma! However, a United 
States federal district court overturned the law and now we're appealing 
it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear the case on March 22nd. If 
the court agrees with us, then chances are the WTO will again try to 
force Massachusetts to go to bed with brutal dictators! 


In addition to speakers from the groups mentioned above, former 
political prisoner Rachel Goldwyn has agreed to serve as a keynote 
speaker for the event. Goldwyn spent several weeks in prison in Burma 
during 1999 for singing a pro-democracy song in Burma. FBC launched a 
Free Rachel Goldwyn campaign in response to her arrest. In addition, FBC 
has obtained a video tape recently smuggled out of Burma by Aung San Suu 
Kyi, and we will premier
it at the conference!

Also attending will be four members of the Rangoon 18, students who were 
arrested in Burma in 1998 for handing out pro-democracy leaflets. 
Stutdents Michele Keegan, Nisha Anand, and Sapna Chhatpar will share 
their experience.

For more information: 





To contact The BurmaNet News--
Email: strider@xxxxxxx
Voice mail:  +1 (435) 304-9274
Fax: +1 (810)454-4740 



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