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______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

May 3, 2000

Issue # 1524


"It's a lot of bull, what they say on television and in the 
newspaper.  Even its own supporters do not believe the propaganda."  

A former civil servant on Burmese government media.  (See THE STRAIT 

*Inside Burma













__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


May 2, 2000. 


MYANMAR is a fretful nation awaiting change. The military government 
wants to change its people. Its people want to change the government. 

Strangely, in this predominantly Buddhist country, famed for its 
2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda and its spiritualism, there is no 
middle ground in the political divide. 

Much maligned, much unappreciated, much unloved, the ruling generals 
march to their own drumbeat, oblivious to the outside world. 
Secretive and largely inaccessible, they have worked for years, with 
no end in sight, on a new charter that will entrench their power. 

They are writing for themselves a lead role when military involvement 
in politics is out of tune with the times. Indonesia's military is 
taking its first steps out of politics, but Myanmar's entrenched 
generals are digging in. 

Foreign Minister Win Aung says: "We are an interim government. We are 
in transition to form a new democratic state." 

But the generals have set no date to transfer political power to 
civilians. Would they? 

"That's a fair question," says Lieutenant-Colonel Hla Min, the 
government spokesman, as he seeks to explain. "We have been 
inescapably stuck" in constitutional talks. 

He asserts that the generals are soldiers, not politicians, and that 
they will do what they must, as soldiers, to keep the country intact. 
Myanmar has fought many ethnic insurgency wars over the past 50 
years, he adds. 

The signs are that the generals are in for a long stay. Former 
President Suharto's Indonesia was once a model for Myanmar's 
generals. The picture has changed somewhat with his fall, East 
Timor's independence vote and the Indonesian military's retreat from 

The Myanmar generals also took note of Yugoslavia's disintegration 
and South Korea's prosecution of two former presidents for corruption 
and abuse of power. Now Mr Suharto and his generals are being called 
to account. 

All this makes the regime even more jittery about yielding power to 
civilians. To the generals, their chief opponent, Nobel peace 
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is a traitor who consorts with Western 
countries to undermine Myanmar's national interests. 
Their idea of democratic change is to enshrine the military's 
constitutional right to govern. Any other arrangement could be a 
mortal threat to their political dominance. 

"Change means political suicide for the government," says businessman 
Sein Lwin, whose disaffection with the military regime has turned him 
into a disbeliever of everything the government does. 

"In Myanmar, the laws are elastic. The generals do what they like, 
and those who oppose them suffer terribly for it." 

For all his suppressed anger, there is a fatalistic outlook that is 
rooted in the belief in reincarnation. "People are content with what 
they have. The present conditions have something to do with their 
previous lives. So they accept their fates," he says. 
It is common practice in Myanmar to consult astrologers and believe 
in auspicious dates. On the calendar, 8-8-88 (Aug 8, 1988) marks the 
aborted nationwide revolt against military rule. People had hoped for 
radical change on 9-9-99. It did not happen. 

"Confront the generals openly? They have guns. We don't. In the past, 
blood was shed when that happened. We want change, but peaceful 
change," Mr Sein Lwin pleads. 

Them and us. Myanmar's current rulers are deeply estranged from their 
own people, more so after they disavowed the sweeping victory of the 
National League for Democracy (NLD), Ms Suu Kyi's party, in the 1990 

The government tries hard, but it seems incapable of winning popular 
support for whatever good it does. 

The people turn a deaf ear to its entreaties. "It's a lot of bull, 
what they say on television and in the newspaper," says a former 
civil servant. "Even its own supporters do not believe the 

There is a credibility gap. Public cynicism and the military's hard 
line against its political opponents diminish whatever little hope 
there is of peaceful political change. 
Driven to desperation, some dissidents abroad have joined forces with 
Karen rebels and resorted to violence. Last October, they hijacked 
the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. Their seizure of a provincial 
hospital in Thailand in January ended in disaster. 

Ms Suu Kyi, a proponent of non-violent change, eschews the use of 
force. She fights an uphill battle. Military intelligence agents 
shadow her everywhere she goes. 

This restricts her movements, even though she is allowed to go where 
she wants in the capital Yangon, but not beyond, since her release 
from house arrest in 1995. 
University Avenue, which leads to her house, once the venue of her 
popular weekend rallies, is still blocked by troops. Outside her 
party's headquarters are swarms of intelligence agents. They take 
pictures of her visitors. 

Last month, about 40 NLD youths were arrested for meeting to 
reorganise the party's youth wing. Arbitrary arrest, no access to 
lawyers, no open court, long jail sentences -- this is what the pro-
democracy activists face, says NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo. "This is a 
police state." 

NLD members throughout the country are forced to resign en masse or 
they get harassed and suffer retribution. 

Ms Suu Kyi and the other NLD leaders doggedly keep the faith alive by 
staying busy with party work. She meets her supporters regularly. 

The NLD headquarters in Yangon is like a beehive. The activists 
attend pep talks, never mind the spooks among them. Each week, the 
party's women's wing hands out vitamins, iodised salt and sugar to 
poor children. 

The generals dismiss Ms Suu Kyi, daughter of the country's 
independence hero Aung San, as an intransigent alien, and would 
dearly love to see her leave Myanmar. But she will not because the 
NLD will lose its most popular leader without her. 

Says tour operator Naing Naing: "She's our only hope. Without her, 
the NLD is nothing. 

"There has been change in other countries. In Indonesia, the military 
has been pushed aside. Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan were once 
ruled by the military. One day, Myanmar will change too." 

But businessman Aung Thien is not so sure. He says: "People in 
Myanmar have been talking about change since 1988. But little has 
changed. The military will do everything to preserve its power. In 
fact, things have got worse." 

As it is, the generals are doing all they can to emasculate the NLD. 
Vice-chairman Tin Oo complains: "Ours is a registered party but we 
have to carry out our activities like an underground organisation, 
because of the constant harassment and intimidation of NLD members." 

Some 40 to 45 NLD MPs who were elected in the 1990 election are still 
in prison. The others who were freed had been given conditional 
releases. Others were put in "guest houses" or forced to resign from 
the party. NLD MPs are not allowed to meet their constituents. 

The courts hand down heavy jail sentences for small political 
infractions routinely. Students shouting anti-government slogans in 
the streets have been given 15-year jail terms. 

"We have to make an example of them," says Lt-Col Hla Min. 

The universities, hotbeds of dissent, have stayed closed for years 
now. Some of the technical colleges have been moved out of the 
capital, their campuses broken up and the students dispersed. 

Students who want to sit for university examinations are vetted in a 
suitability test to determine if they, or any members of their 
families, are connected in any way with the political opposition. 

[The writer is Chief Regional Correspondent of The Straits Times.) 



 YANGON (April 30) XINHUA - Basic education schools, which include 
primary and junior and senior high schools, totaled 42,894 in Myanmar 
as of today, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported 

 Of the total, 37,627 are primary schools while 3,695 are junior high 
and 1,572 senior high schools.

 At present, altogether 225,403 teachers are teaching more than 
700,000 students,the report said, adding that every year more than 
100,000 students complete basic education.

 Meanwhile, a total of 118 multi-media teaching centers, including 
110 in senior high schools, five in junior high schools and three in 
primary schools, have been opened as of the end of 1999.

 According to official statistics, during the last decade, 210 senior 
high schools, 416 junior high schools and 4,356 primary schools have 
been built and upgraded in the country with 433 such schools added in 
the border areas.

 In the 1999-2000 academic year, the number of school-age children, 
who have gone to school, has increased by 94 percent, statistics show.

__________________ INTERNATIONAL ___________________


May 3, 2000


EUROPEAN Union (EU) concerns about Burma's human-rights record will 
prevent Burma from signing a cooperation agreement between Asean 
members and the EU, an Asean source says. 
Meanwhile the two newest Asean members, Laos and Cambodia, are poised 
to sign the same agreement at the Asean ministerial conference in 
Bangkok on July 28. 

According to the source, the EU decided to delay signing the 
agreement with Burma until the military junta improved its human-
rights record. Burma and Laos joined Asean in 1997 while Cambodia 
joined last year. The EU did not consider human-rights problems in 
Laos and Cambodia as a major obstacle in improving its relation with 
those two countries. 
The source said the agreement would enable Laos and Cambodia to 
receive more EU development funds and improve their access to markets 
in the 15 EU member countries. 

The EU is Asean's oldest dialogue partner, with relations dating back 
to 1972. The relationship was formalised in 1980 but has yet to cover 
the three new Asean members. The EU has assisted Asean countries in 
environmental protection, human-resource development, technical 
exchanges and narcotics controls. 

The Asean-EU Joint Cooperation Committee, the main mechanism of Asean-
EU cooperation, last May adopted a work progranme which emphasised 
cooperation on intellectual-property issues, customs practices, trade 
facilitation and environmental and energy issues, but the committee 
has not met since 1997 because of a dispute over the inclusion of 
Burma in Asean and especially in the committee meetings. 



Forced to export to Singapore, Malaysia

Supaart Kasem 
Mae Sot, Tak

May 3, 2000

The Burmese private sector has urged Thailand to lower import taxes 
on farm produce. 
The call came during a two-day trade fair jointly organised in Mae 
Sot district by Thai and Burmese authorities. The fair ended 

A source said the Burmese private sector wanted to export farm 
produce, including soybean, corn, onion and garlic to Thailand, but 
found Thai import taxes too high. 
U Soe Myint, chairman of the Myawaddy chamber of commerce, said 
Thailand's tax barriers were driving Burmese exporters to sell to 
Malaysia, Singapore and other countries which have lower import 

However, he said, the Burmese exporters still have to shoulder higher 
transport costs. 
"Thai products are very popular in Burma, especially along the 
border. However, we cannot increase the export volume of Thai 
products due to the plunge of our kyat. 

"Our export volume to Thailand is very low compared to the import 

"If Thailand allows the import of more products from our country, it 
will benefit. We will import more goods from Thailand," he said. 

Pitsanu Lianmahasarn, deputy chief of the Foreign Trade Department, 
said Thailand had a policy to solve its trade surplus problems with 
its neighbours through the introduction of three measures. 

The first was to lower customs tariffs on 23 products from Burma, 
Laos and Cambodia. 
The second measure was to give trade privileges on other products to 
the three countries, including reduced import taxes. 

Under the third measure, a special import quota was to be given on a 
case-by-case basis. 



By David Brunnstrom

YANGON, May 2 (Reuters)  - Japan's Minister for International Trade 
Industry defended his attendance at a regional conference in military-
ruled Myanmar on Tuesday, saying Tokyo's policy towards the generals 
had not changed. 

Takashi Fukaya, the first Japanese cabinet minister to visit Myanmar 
since the military killed thousands to crush a democracy uprising in 
1988, told reporters he had been invited to a meeting of ministers of 
the Association of Southeast Nations and Japan, South Korea and 

``I don't see any reason why I could not accept that invitation.'' 

On Sunday, Tin Oo, vice-chairman of Myanmar's beleaguered opposition 
National League for Democracy, told Reuters countries like Japan 
should realise that attending such events in Yangon gave 
psychological support to the military and led to increased oppression 
of dissidents. 

The NLD, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won Myanmar's last 
election 10 years ago but was never allowed to govern. 

It says the military is holding 2,000 political prisoners, most from 
the party, including dozens arrested in recent weeks. 

``I'd like to explain to you the basic Japanese stance to this 
country, that remains unchanged,'' Fukaya said. ``That is, we would 
like to continue to watch the developments in Myanmar with respect to 
improvement of democracy and human rights protection. 

``And at the moment we would like to give case-by-case consideration 
to projects of basic human needs which can help improve the lives of 
the people in this country.'' 

Japan cut large-scale aid to Myanmar after the 1988 killings, but 
while it continues to hold back on full-scale economic assistance, it 
has taken a more conciliatory line towards Myanmar than the United 
and the European Union, which impose sanctions. 

Last year, it indicated a softening of its line by offering help if 
Yangon took structural reform of its economy seriously. 

It said it would be easier to help if Myanmar was more democratic, 
but analysts say its biggest concern appears to be loss of business 
and political influence to China. 

During a bilateral meeting on Monday night with intelligence chief 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, considered the most powerful figure in 
the military government, Fukaya unveiled a package of  ``technical 

He told Myanmar Japan was willing, for instance, to conduct 
feasibility studies on solar and wind-generated electricity for poor 
rural areas and Japanese experts would recommend ways to promote 
small and medium enterprises. 

He also offered information technology assistance to improve 
Myanmar's banking system, a Japanese official said. 


Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo

BBC Monitoring

 Yangon, 1st May: Visiting Japanese International Trade and Industry 
Minister Takashi Fukaya on Monday [1st May] unveiled an assistance 
package to help Myanmar [ Burma ] develop its human resources and 
nurture small and medium-size firms as it makes the transition to a 
market economy.

 Fukaya unveiled the package in a meeting with Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, 
first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), 
the country's military government.

 The Japanese trade minister is the first Japanese cabinet minister 
to travel to Myanmar since the  junta, formerly called the State Law 
and Order Restoration Council, took power in 1988.

 The package is part of the 500m dollar "Obuchi Plan" announced last 
November in Manila by then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to boost human 
resources development in East Asia and promote exchanges between 
Japan and other countries in the region.

 Fukaya's announcement shows Japan is taking a softer diplomatic 
approach towards Myanmar than the United States and the European 
Union (EU).

 Japan is trying to encourage the military government to engage with 
the international community, while the US and the EU, dissatisfied 
with the country's poor human rights record and the junta's 
suppression of democracy, are taking tough stances.

 Japan has been promoting dialogue with the junta to encourage it to 
move towards democracy.

 Japan may resume yen loans for Myanmar , which are currently 
suspended, if the Southeast Asian country takes steps to embrace 
democracy, Japanese officials said.

 At the Monday talks, Fukaya urged Myanmar to accelerate its 
transition to a market economy and  to improve its investment 
environment in order to receive increased Japanese investment.

 Fukaya is in Yangon to attend an economic ministers' meeting Tuesday 
between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, 
Japan and South Korea.

 The trip will also take Fukaya to Singapore and India.

 At Tuesday's [2nd May] meeting, the ASEAN countries, China, Japan 
and South Korea will discuss a variety of economic issues, including 
trade and investment facilitation.

 In Yangon, Fukaya is also expected to hold a meeting with junta 
leader Gen Than Shwe.

 Obuchi met with Than Shwe, prime minister and SPDC chairman, last 
November in Manila on the sidelines of an informal summit between 
ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea.

 It was the first time that leaders of the two countries had met 
since Myanmar 's military government took power in 1988.

 While calling for more efforts towards democracy, Obuchi told Than 
Shwe that Japan
was ready to provide technical help for Myanmar 's economic reform 


May 2, 2000
Washington to help in war against drugs
Wassana Nanuam
Increased opium production in border areas of Burma is heightening 
concerns that Rangoon seems to be moving more people to the area, an 
army source said yesterday. The relocation of Burmese and ethnic 
minorities had implications beyond the stated purpose of securing the 
border, the source said.  The border policy is probably a cover for 
other motives, he said. "Burma must have a particular plan in mind. 
It moves its people to the border but does not take care of them or 
help them make a living," he said. "So the people plant more 
poppies." The Defence Council raised the issue during a meeting on 
Thursday and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, in his capacity as defence 
minister, asked for solutions. Gen Mongkol Ampornpisit, supreme 
commander, said developments in those areas were being watched. The 
military has drawn up a plan but Gen Mongkol declined to elaborate, 
the source said. Gen Surayud Chulanont, the army commander-in-chief, 
said the authorities would have to close the drug routes since they 
could do nothing on Burmese soil. "We must solve our own problem," 
said Gen Surayud. "We have to reduce domestic demand. If we can do 
this, production will come to an end because there is no market." The 
army plans to buy two Black Hawk helicopters from the US to patrol 
border areas and suppress illicit drugs. The army chief confirmed 
that the Black Hawk had been selected because of its high capacity. 
Meanwhile, Washington plans to help the authorities devise a better 
way to treat addicts of methamphetamine, an illegal drug that poses 
an increasing social threat, a US embassy statement said yesterday. A 
new US$200,000 project funded by the Department of State, which 
starts this week, would bring US and Thai addiction experts together 
to formulate a new treatment model and develop training materials for 
over 2,500 health professionals here. Most current treatments were 
originally developed to help people hooked on heroin, which 
methamphetamine has outstripped as the country's worst drug menace in 
recent years. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, 
methamphetamine is also the fastest growing drug threat in the US. 
Methamphetamine, also known as "meth," "speed" and "ice" is a 
stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. 
Chronic use has been linked to paranoia and withdrawal can produce 
severe depression. Narcotics officials believe most of the supply 
here is smuggled in from jungle laboratories in Burma, where heroin 
producers have diversified to make methamphetamines, which offer 
bigger profits. Most convicts and young offenders have been sentenced 
for drugs crimes.  Methamphetamines, which sell for around 75 baht a 
pill in Bangkok, are available all over Thailand. There is growing 
concern about its use by schoolchildren. Bangkok Post 



On the eve of the Rangoon (Burma) annual meeting of ASEAN 
(Association of South East Asian Nations) finance ministers, 
Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) requested Rodolfo Certeza Severino 
Jr., Secretary-General of this
regional organisation, "to intervene, in his talks with the Burmese 
authorities, on behalf of the twelve journalists still in prison". 
RSF expressed its indignation at the fact that the inter-ministerial 
was being held in Burma, the country with the most journalists in 
jail in the world. This meeting is also taking place a few days after 
the United Nations Human Rights Commission condemned Burma for 
massive violations of fundamental rights. Robert Ménard, RSF general 
secretary, expressed his concern regarding "the conditions of 
detention of Burmese journalists and, in some cases, the state of 
their health, especially U Win Tin and Daw San San Nweh, detained at 
Insein prison".

In its letter RSF mentioned the case of: U Win Tin, former editor-in-
chief of Hanthawathi, arrested in 1989 and sentenced in 1993 to ten 
years' imprisonment; Sein Hlaing and Myo Myint Nyein, journalists for 
various cultural publications, arrested in September 1990 and 
sentenced twice, in 1990 and 1995, to seven years in jail; Aung Wint 
(Ohn Kyaing), formerly a journalist with Kyemon, jailed in 1990 and 
sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment; U Sein Hla Oo, journalist for 
the daily Botahtaung and writer, arrested in 1994, currently serving 
a 14-year jail sentence; Daw San San Nweh, Reporters Sans Frontières -
 Fondation de France 1999 award-winner, writer and managing editor of 
several magazines, arrested in 1994 and sentenced to ten years' 
imprisonment; Sonny (Khin Maung Win), freelance photographer and 
cameraman, arrested in June 1997 and sentenced to seven years in 
prison; U Tha Ban, journalist with the daily Kyemon, arrested in 
March 1997 and sentenced to seven years in  prison; Aung Zin Min, 
journalist with the magazine New Style, arrested and sentenced to 
seven years' imprisonment in 1996; U Thein Tan, 60-year-old 
journalist, arrested in 1990 and sentenced to seven years in prison; 
and Cho Seint, freelance journalist, arrested in 1996 and sentenced 
to seven years in prison.

Burmese law prohibits all criticism of the authorities. The press law 
provides for a 20-year jail sentence for publication of articles 
which "disrupt and sabotage stability of the state". Foreign 
journalists cannot work freely in the country. It is against the law 
to read publications by the opposition in exile or to listen to 
international radio stations. On 19 January 2000, 70-year-old U Than 
Chaum was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by virtue of article 
505(b) of the penal code, for listening to the international station 
Voice of America in the tea-room he owns.

Reporters san frontières
International Secretary
Asia-Pacific Desk

5, rue Geoffroy Marie - 75009 Paris France

Tél : (33) 1 44 83 84 84
Fax : (33) 1 45 23 11 51
E-mail : asie@xxxxxx
Web : www.rsf.fr



April 27, 2000

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma is deeply 
concerned for the arrest of U Aye Tha Aung, a prominent non-Burman 
ethnic leader who represents the Shan National League for Democracy, 
Arakan League for Democracy, Mon National Democracy Front, and Zomi 
National Congress in the Committee Representing People's Parliament 
(CRPP).   The reason for U Aye Tha Aung's arrest and his whereabouts 
are unknown to his family or Associates until today.

U Aye Tha Aung has become the latest addition to the hundreds of 
political prisoners being arbitrarily detained by the military junta 
in Burma.  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League 
for Democracy stated, "This is a demonstration of the fact that as 
far as human rights violations are concerned, this regime is not 
getting any better at  all."

Burma is a cosignatory to the UN Charter and is bound by Articles 55  
and 56 to protect and promote human rights according to that charter. 

The NCGUB strongly condemns the ruling generals for the total 
disregard of human rights and calls on the international community to 
use relevant diplomatic channels and the UN High Commissioner for 
Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur to use UN mechanisms to 
ensure  the personal safety and the immediate release of U Aye Tha 
Aung from  arbitrary detention.

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________


Salween Watch is a project to monitor the construction of a set of 
dams proposed to be built on Burma's Salween River in the Shan 
State.  Salween Watch produces an email edition of its newsletter, 
Salween Watch Hotmailout.  The web version of the Salween Watch 
newsletter is in production and back issues are available at their 
temporary site:

Issue #2:

Issue #3:

The URL for the permanent site will be announced shortly.  


Acronyms and abbreviations regularly used by BurmaNet.

AVA: Ava Newsgroup.  A small, independent newsgroup covering Kachin 
State and northern Burma.

KHRG: Karen Human Rights Group.  A non-governmental organization 
that  conducts interviews and collects information primarily in 
Burma's  Karen State but also covering other border areas.

KNU: Karen National Union.  Ethnic Karen organization that has been 
fighting Burma's central government since 1948.

NCGUB: National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.  The 
government in exile formed by M.P.s elected in the 1990 democratic 

NLM: New Light of Myanmar, Burma's state newspaper.  The New Light of 
Myanmar is also published in Burmese as Myanmar Alin.

SCMP: South China Morning Post.  A Hong Kong newspaper.

SHAN: Shan Herald Agency for News.  An independent news service  
covering Burma's Shan State.

SHRF: Shan Human Rights Foundation

SPDC: State Peace and Development Council.  The current name the  
military junta has given itself.  Previously, it called itself the  
State Law and Order Restoration Council.


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