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BurmaNet News: February 12-13, 2000

=========== The BurmaNet News ===========
Weekend of February 12-13, 2000
Issue # 1461


"How greedy Myanmar's cash-strapped military regime is! It is trying to 
wheedle Japan, the world's largest aid donor, for a huge amount of money 
that it probably would not be able to digest."  (See JAPAN TIMES: 


Burma Today in Brief--


Inside Burma--






BURMANET: BURMA TODAY IN BRIEF--February 12-13, 2000

Shans say regime sends spies to Thailand, NLD sends message to ethnic 
groups on Union Day.  Japanese paper calls regime's $1.45 billion aid 
request "greedy," Annan calls on regime to reform and democratize.  UN 
Envoy De Soto is out, Annan mum on replacement.  Burmese/Rohingyas 
languish in Bangladesh jails.



Shan State Army News, January 2000

>From the beginning of this new year, SPDC have sent more than 20 of 
their military intelligence agency across the border into Thai 
territory. They were sent as peddlers , hired laborers or construction 
workers. Meanwhile Brigadier Thein Sein has toured and checked the 
Thai-Burma border, where he had given the order "to shoot down every 
Thai aircraft that might fly across the border".



February    12, 2000

Wishing you all happiness and good health.  I am U Aung Shwe, Chairman 
of the NLD.  The 12th of February 2000 is Union Day in our country, 
Burma.  I would like to explain how Union Day began in Burma's history.

Our national hero General Aung San and the ethnic nationality leaders 
from frontier areas signed the Panlong Agreement on 12 February 1947 in 
Panlong, Southern Shan State. The purpose of the Panlong Agreement was 
to reunite the ethnic nationalities in an attempt to gain independence. 
It was intended to build a federal union when the country gained 

The Agreement also established the Panglong spirit or the union spirit. 
However, the spirit has disappeared in recent days because no genuine 
federal union emerged. The ethnic nationalities do not trust each other 
and hatred and hostilities have grown among them.  This also is due to 
the fact that the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP), dominated by 
members of the military, drafted and promulgated a unitary system 
constitution which installed a dictatorial regime rather than establish 
the federal union that was demanded by the people of Burma. As a result, 
the federal spirit has been destroyed.

It is very important for all our ethnic nationalities, such as Kachin, 
Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhaing, and Shan, to re-enforce the 
spirit of unity that existed when the Panlong Agreement was signed in 
order to prevent the country's disintegration. The NLD strongly requests 
and urges all the ethnic nationalities of Burma to rebuild the Panlong 
spirit or solidarity of
ethnic nationalities by joining hand in hand, with courage, firm efforts 
and objectives, and genuine patriotic spirit. Moreover we believe that 
in order to achieve unity among the ethnic nationalities, it is 
necessary to draft a constitution in a democratic manner, acceptable to 
all people including ethnic nationalities.


I am U Lwin, a central executive committee member of the NLD. I am of 
Mon nationality. The reason I became involved in the struggle for 
democracy in Burma was because we needed a democratic system of 
government and I wanted to stand for the people. I took part in the 
independence movement led by General Aung San when I was a student at 
the age of 21. Our slogan at that time was that independence must be 
first and final. It meant our one and ultimate goal was independence. 
After  independence, our slogan changed, so that independence was the 
priority, and democracy had to follow.

When the country became independent, parliamentary democracy was 
introduced. Unfortunately, the country fell into the hands of the 
military dictatorship in 1962. Since the 1988 struggle for democracy, I 
have been participating in the democracy movement by joining the 
National League for Democracy (NLD) which is led by Daw Aung San Suu 
Kyi, daughter of General Aung San.  I believe that my actions are those 
of a noble person who loves his own country.  In our democratic 
struggle, the slogan we have been using until now is democracy is 
priority, and after democracy, we can address the
requirements of states and divisions.  We believe that after we achieve 
democracy we will be able to discuss our needs among ourselves.  As a 
person, an ethnic Mon, and a patriotic revolutionary, I absolutely 
believe this



Staff writer

How greedy Myanmar's cash-strapped military regime is! It is trying to 
wheedle Japan, the world's largest aid donor, for a huge amount of money 
that it probably would not be able to digest.

The Myanmar military regime, struggling to survive deep economic trouble 
amid continued isolation by many parts of the international community, 
has informally asked Japan to provide $1.45 billion in aid under the 
so-called Miyazawa Plan, government and private-sector sources familiar 
with the matter said Friday.

In making the informal request a few months ago, the junta, which now 
refers to itself as the State Peace and Development Council, has said it 
wants to use the money to abolish its currency's current double-rate 

The $1.45 billion the SPDC has requested is probably more than it 
requires for that purpose, the sources said.

The SPDC, however, may be disappointed as it has yet to receive a 
response from Japan.

The Japanese government is reluctant to meet the Myanmar aid request for 
political reasons and because Myanmar is not included in a list of 
countries that are eligible for Japanese aid under the Miyazawa Plan.

"The Miyazawa Plan is supposed to apply only to countries that have 
implemented -- or at least have a will to implement -- economic 
structural reforms in cooperation with such international lending 
agencies as the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank," one government source 

"They (the SPDC) may be envious of Myanmar's neighbors that are 
receiving aid under the Miyazawa Plan," the source said.

The $30 billion Miyazawa Plan was announced by Finance Minister Kiichi 
Miyazawa in autumn 1998 as a package of assistance measures for 
countries hit hard by the Asian economic crisis that erupted about a 
year earlier.

The initiative originally targeted Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the 
Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. But Vietnam was added later to 
the list after Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited Hanoi at the end of 

The military took power in a 1988 coup in Myanmar. They nullified the 
results of a 1990 election, in which Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San 
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory.

Myanmar faces continued economic and other sanctions by the United 
States and other industrialized countries in Europe because of its human 
rights violations and lack of democratic principles.

Japan has also frozen fresh official aid for Myanmar, except for what it 
regards as humanitarian purposes, since the 1988 coup.

Myanmar was dealt yet another serious economic blow by the Asian 
economic crisis that erupted in Thailand in July 1997 and swept through 
much of Asia. Foreign direct investment in Myanmar, especially from its 
neighbors, dropped sharply and Myanmar's foreign currency reserves have 
dried up.

A possible abolition of the double-rate system would further deteriorate 
the country's already dire fiscal conditions, primarily because civil 
servant salaries would have to be raised drastically under the new 
system, according to the sources.

Although the official exchange rate of the Myanmar currency -- the kyat 
-- is six to the dollar, the weak currency is actually being traded on 
the Southeast Asian country's black market at a rate of 340 kyats to 350 
kyats to the greenback.

Myanmar, or Burma as the country was called before the coup, has not yet 
decided to abolish the double-rate system, but the idea is under 
consideration within the SPDC, the sources said.

But the question is: Would the SPDC actually need $1.45 billion just to 
abolish the double-rate system?

"I think they (the SPDC) would not need so much money just to cope with 
the possible change in the currency system," one private-sector source 
said. "It is also quite strange that the size of Japanese aid requested 
by Myanmar is roughly equal to the amount of arrears on Myanmar's 
official debts to Japan.



Sunday February 13 8:10 AM ET

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Sunday 
that Myanmar's military-run government needs to begin democratizing if 
it hopes to attract foreign aid to help its poverty-stricken population.

On Saturday, during a meeting between Annan and ministers of the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Myanmar Foreign Minister Win 
Aung asked the U.N. to take a more active role in the development of the 
country, which has been ruled by its military since 1962.

Annan said he would soon appoint a new special envoy to Myanmar, also 
known as Burma, whom he hoped would encourage the regime to engage 
``other political forces'' in the country.

``I hope that sooner or later we will also hear what measures the 
government is going to take in political reform and the process of 
democratization so that we can move together and improve the lot of the 
people of Myanmar,'' Annan told a press conference in Bangkok.

The military in Myanmar has rejected repeated calls for dialogue from 
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party swept general 
elections held in 1990 but has been blocked from taking power.

Since 1988, donor nations have restricted most foreign aid to Myanmar, 
one of the world's poorest countries, to protest a bloody crackdown on a 
pro-democracy uprising in which thousands were gunned down by army and 
police. Donor countries want to see political changes before restarting 



Bangkok, February 13, 2000

UN secretary General Kofi Annan today said he would name a new special 
envoy to Myanmar who would try to "nudge" the military government 
towards democracy. Mr Annan's former special representative to Yangon, 
Peruvian Alvaro de Soto, was posted to new job in Cyprus at the end of 
last year with no immediate successor designated and there have been 
some doubts over the future of the UN mission in Myanmar. De Soto bacame 
frustrated by lack of progress towards democracy in Myanmar and the 
continued refusal of its ruling Generals to talk to Nobel Peace Prize 
winning Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, diplomats say.

Mr Annan said he would appoint a replacement for De Soto, although no 
timetable had yet been fixed. He gave no  hints as to the identity of 
the new envoy. "I do intend to name a replacement, to appoint a new 
envoy, whom I hope the government will engage," Annan told a news 

"Our approach has been to nudge the government, to encourage them to 
open up, to engage other forces, other political forces in the country 
and move towards democratisation in order to create the type of 
confidence that will encourage the international community to come and 
assist them," he said. "These efforts continue."



Dhaka, February 12, 2000
By Mizzima News Group

They are treated badly in the prisons as in the case of many "stateless" 
citizens in this region. Many of them have already served their prison 
sentences whatever they were sentenced by the laws in the country. 
Still, they have to continue undergoing rigorous prison life and not
knowing when they will be got out of jail or who would come for their 
help. Definitely, almost no help comes from their government in power in 
Burma, a country, which is ruled by military. That is the plight of
Burmese prisoners who are lodged in various prisons of Burma's 
neighbouring country, Bangladesh.

There are about 500 Burmese nationals in Bangladesh prisons who continue 
to be in jail despite the fact that they have undergone deserved 
sentences. According to a statement in July 1999 from Home Ministry of 
Bangladesh government, about 200 Burmese prisoners (who have already 
served their prison sentences) could not be sent back to their homes in 
Burma due to the lack of co-operation from Burma government. After seven 
months now, the number of these Burmese prisoners has increased to 500.

According to an officer from Bangladesh border security force, who does 
not want to expose his name, only 29 Burmese prisoners were able to be 
sent back to Burma and the rest are still in Bangladesh jails, now 
knowing when they can take breath of freedom.

The officer confided our reporter that Burmese authorities in Rangoon 
have been supplied with details of addresses of these prisoners and if 
there is co-operation from Burma, the government of Bangladesh will at 
once send back the prisoners.

Majority of these prisoners belong to Arakan State of Burma and they are 
ethnic Arakanese. The rest are other nationals from Burma. According to 
police records, 90% of them have served their sentences already but have 
been "overstaying" in jails for four to five years. 10% have been 
"overstaying" in jails for more than one year.

Among them, 30% are the ones who came to Bangladesh to earn for simple 
living, as they could not live under the military rule in Burma. 20% are 
the smugglers and the rest 50% are the dissidents who continue to fight 
against the military regime in Burma. Most of them in the last category 
were charged with illegal entry into Bangladesh.

The existing prison rules of Bangladesh allow providing only food to 
those who have already served their prison sentences. No medicine and 
clothing are provided to these prisoners. Thus, Burmese prisoners over 
500 in number are undergoing extreme hardships in jails without support.
And the Burmese Embassy in Dhaka does not take the plight of these 
prisoners seriously either.

These Burmese prisoners are found in jails at Cox's Bazar, 
Chittagong-Bandraban and Rangamati-Comilla. They were arrested from 
various places in Bangladesh, particularly in Bangladesh-Burma border 
areas. A prisoner told his story to our reporter who met him in
Bandraban Jail recently.

"I was arrested by Bangladesh Army at Bandraban village of Chittagong 
and interrogated. Then handed over to police, case sent up in court for 
illegal entry and sentenced to imprisonment. Forms were filled up and 
photos were taken. Though the sentence for illegal entry was 15 days in 
jail, I have been here for more than three years", said the Burmese 

He further continued that Burmese Embassy at Dhaka was given the 
addresses and other details of the prisoners. But there is no 
co-operation from Burma side. Although 3/4 years have passed, they 
cannot return.

"In a room 20'×30', 300 to 400 prisoners were kept congested without 
being able to stretch or sleep. By bribing Taka (Bangladesh currency) 
3,000 to Jailor just sleeping space could be obtained. Every 4/5 months 
there was jail transfer", said the Burmese.

Four prisoners in Rangamati prison already died after tying in rope, as 
they could not see any future for their freedom. 

It is learnt that Cox's Bazar Jail is worse. It is over crowded and in 
summer all prisoners sweat profusely even longyi is drenched. There is 
no medicine. Unwell is ignored.

Out of frustration, in January 1999, two Arakanese prisoners escaped 
form Cox's Bazaar prison but were arrested after 4/5 hours on the way. 
30 Burmese prisoners in the jail, including these two were beaten with 
iron rods breaking their knees.


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