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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: June 17, 2000

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

June 17, 2000

Issue # 1555

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:


(1) " unprecedented punitive measures that are tantamount to the 
imposition of global sanctions."

Yindee Lertcharoenchok describing the ILO's action to punish Burma 
for using forced labor.  (See THE NATION:  FROM THE EDGE: ILO SETS 

 ``We cannot ban individuals from travelling, but every British 
tourist who goes there should know that they have to exchange US$300 
on arrival.  Every one of these dollars will directly support the 
regime. Anyone even thinking of going to Burma (Myanmar) should be 
under no illusion as to what is happening there.''

John Battle, British Foreign Office Minister (See REUTERS: BRITAIN 

*Inside Burma


















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

16 June 2000 

No: 6 - 5

(Reported by Maihoong) 

S.H.A.N. has learned from recent refugees in Fang about the details 
of the massacre in southern Shan State that was reported on 7 June 
On 23 May, Capt. Than Aung of IB 246 (Kunhing), commanding a 90-100 
strong column, made a patrol south of the Namzang-Kunhing road, 
rounded 64 people working in the rice and sesame fields near the 
deserted village of Hueypu, Hsaimong Tract, Kunhing Township and shot 
everyone down in cold blood, said the refugees. (The 7 June report 
says the incident occurred on 29 or 30 May in Kenglom where 62 people 
were killed. The latest one is being supported by a separate 

The relatives of the victims discovered them when they went in search 
of them in the fields later. It was also learned that one of the 
porters made an appeal on their behalf and was shot along with the 
ill-fated villagers. Others found in isolated fields were also shot 
on sight.  
"It was in revenge of the (9 May) ambush, when the Shan State Army 
killed a number of soldiers that included some high ranking 
officers," said the sources.  

Most of the people who were relocated in Kunhing between 1996-98 were 
permitted to engage in farming land 3 miles on each side of the road. 
The victims were all from the relocated sites.  
Names of some of the victims 


June 14, 2000

On 12 June 2000 Chin Human Rights Organization CHRO received a report 
from  reliable source that the Burmese military junta State Peace and 
Development  Council SPDC had issued an order to demolish United 
Pentecostal  Church at  Cherry Street, down town Haka, the capital of 
Chin State in Burma. In  addition, the minister of the church Rev. 
Tin Hei is on trial at Chin State  court. Now the citizens of Haka ( 
all denominations ) are trying to defend  the church and the minister.

The report was confirmed by a pastor from the same denomination of 
Rangoon  who is now studying in United States. The pastor said that 
they spent a good  deal of money to get permission from the authority 
and the Church was  constructed after they got permission from 
Ministry of Religion. The church  building was completed in 1999.

In January 1999, six pastors including a woman minister were arrested 
for  erecting a cross on their mountain top in the town of Thantlang 
which is 20  miles away from Haka. In july 1999 two pastors from the 
town of Thantlang  were arrested again for conducting Church council 
meeting without permission  from the army.

On 9 September 1999 United States Department of State, in accordance 
with  the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, released its 
first Annual  Report on Religious Freedom. The report provides 
accurate documentation of  the Burmese Army's systematic violation of 
religious freedom in Burma. The  United States State Department has 
designated Burma, along with China,  Iran, Iraq, and Sudan, as one of 
five countries of particular concern for  violations of religious 

Over 90 percent of Chins are Christians and religious persecution is 
a major  concern in Chin State.



News and  Analysis   of   the  Arakan  Rohingya   National  
Organisation, Arakan  (Burma)

May, 2000

On 28 April 2000, a Major, the commander of the NaSaKa Area No. 5, in 
collaboration with Aung Than Che and Saw Myint Aung, had confiscated 
73 acres of land belonging to Maulvi Mohammed and Akthar Hussain, 
both of them from the village of Auk Pruma (Kasarbil), a place about 
12 miles north of Maungdaw town.  The two collaborators are Buddhist 
Rakhines of the village. Then Major ordered the Rohingya villagers 
to 'contribute' for the building of a pagoda on the confiscated land. 
He warned that if anybody refuses to provide money for the pagoda 
would be seriously dealt with. For the purpose of funding, he has 
divided the Rohingya families of the 12 village tracts of the Area 
into three categories. The families in first category must pay an 
amount of Kyats 5000, the second Kyats 4000 and third exempted from 
payment. Major Kyaw Naing started collecting this so-called 
contribution from  7 May 2000. 

This is a continued process of the SPDC to change the face of the 
Rohingya Muslim region in Arakan.  In the township of Buthidaung, for 
the purpose of demographic changes and military situation a total of 
1,232 acres of Rohingya's land have been further confiscated making 
the poor Rohingya villagers homeless, land-less and jobless. As a 
result, during this rainy season, about 1070 families of those 
uprooted people one about to flee to Bangladesh in the face of the 
extremely difficult situation. The confiscated lands are: -Attwan 
Ngatthay village 384 acres. Pale Taung village 320 acres. Dabru 
Chaung village 528 acres. 



June 16, 2000

Amid total rejection of ILO resolution as " unfair, unjust and the 
process flawed" by the Burmese foreign ministry yesterday, reports 
coming in from Shan State indicated that the practice and 
implementation of "forced labour" is still very much alive.  

The SSA News reported that  since 4th June 2000, the SPDC's 65th and 
225th IBs from Mong Ton have been forcing the local people to work 
for them without payment on the motor road construction between Mong 
Kyawt and Mong Htar, in Mong Ton township. The forced labour is still 
in full swing, as of 15th June 2000, without even a slightest sign of 
completion or breaking the process. About 30 to 40 villagers have 
been working on the construction of this motor road and those who 
resisted are being arrested, fined and beaten up. Since most of the 
villagers are farmers and it is the season to till the land and sow 
the seeds, they are being hindered to go about with their routine 
works. Besides, they also have to worry of the bad harvest, due to 
the late planting caused by this unpaid forced labour. 

The Junta's press release said that the ILO resolution was "most 
regrettable that the resolution was adopted despite the goodwill and 
cooperation demonstrated by Myanmar. It was taken in contravention of 
the aims and objectives of the ILO and the measures in the resolution 
far exceeded the authority of the ILO under its Constitution. It was 
indeed a sad day for the ILO and a sadder day for the developing 
countries that are the Member States of the Organization. Today 
Myanmar is singled out for censure and a punitive action in an 
arbitrary manner.Tomorrow it may be another developing country. Such 
arbitrary actions could only impede the process of democratization 
and would prolong rather than hasten the emergence of a democratic 
society ". 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


June 16, 2000

  GENEVA - Thailand was reportedly the only Asean nation to abstain 
when the   International Labour Organisation (ILO) approved 
unprecedented measures against   Burma on Wednesday over the military 
government's widespread use of forced labour.   
  ILO delegates agreed in a 257-41 vote, with 31 abstentions, to 
invoke a special article in   ILO rules against Burma that give the 
country four months to prove its willingness to   change - a move 
fiercely opposed by Asian nations. 
  According to an informed source, Thailand was the only Asean 
country not to vote   against it.
  The source said the Thai position would remain the same unless 
Burma complies with the   ILO's recommended ban on forced labour. 
  Before the vote, the Foreign Ministry instructed the Thai UN 
representative in Geneva of   Thailand's intention to abstain. As of 
yesterday, no foreign ministry officials were   available for 
  Burma has denounced the move as "most unfair, most unreasonable and 
most unjust".   The action was proposed by an ILO committed on 
Friday, but was later opposed by   Japan, China, Malaysia and India. 
They and other Asian nations spoke out against the   move on 
  It was the first time the article had been used. In a compromise, 
the resolution put off   action until the ILO governing body meets in 
November to review whether Burma is   making serious efforts to stamp 
out forced labour.
  "The ILO and the world community have sent a loud and clear message 
that we wil no   longer tolerate horrific forms of forced labour. The 
reported beatings, rapes and murders   must stop," US Labour 
Secretary Alexis herman said.
  The resolution recommends that ILO members - governments, workers 
and employers -   "reviwe their links with (Burma) and take 
appropriate measures to ensure (Burma) cannot   take advantage of 
such relations to perpetuate or extend the system of forced or   
compulsory labour".
  It slso refers the issue to a highlevel UN committed and agrees to 
discuss it in special   sessions at every future ILO conference until 
Burma is shown to have stopped using   forced labour. The ILO has no 
mechanism to expel a member.   
  In Bangkok yesterday, Portuguese Ambassador Jose Tadeu Soares said 
a long-delayed   meeting between the European Union and Southeast 
Asian nations would be held on June   26 in Lisbon with "no 
conditions" placed on representatives from Burma's junta sitting a   
the table.
  The EU meeting wil pave the way for a ministerial meeting between 
the two blocs to be   held in Laos later in the year.
  Soares described the decision to allow Burma to join the Joint 
Asean-EU Consultative   Committee as a "breakthrough" for cooperation 
between the two groups.   
  Burma joined Asean in July 1997.
  While members allowed Burma to join the consultative committee, 
they have drawn up a   comprehensive blacklist of some 200 of Burma's 
military leaders, excluding diplomats,   who are banned from 
travelling to Europe.
  The Portugese ambassador acknowledged a split within the EU about 
how to handle   Burma, deemed a pariah in the West for its poor human 
rights record and widespread use   of forced labour. 
  The Nation (June 16, 2000)


June 16, 2000

  MAE HONG SON - Thousands of Burmese refugees staying at a camp near 
the Salween   national park are to be relocated to another site as 
part of efforts to stop Thai timber   companies from exploiting their 
cheap labour, provincial officials said yesterday.   

  The refugees, mostly ethnic Karen, will be relocated to Mae Lama 
village in Mae Hong   Son's Sobmoei district about five kilometres 
from the original site, said Mae Sareang   district chief Saowaraj 
  The announcement came shortly after Saowaraj met the United Nations 
High   Commissioner for Refugees field officer, Stephen Sinclair-
  The UNHCR has expressed concern for the refugees' safety, saying 
there should be   proper logistics so that aid workers can enter and 
leave the premises in a tinely manner   and that the refugees be 
given an adequate supply of clean water, Saowaraj said.  
  About 100,000 Burmese refugees live in camps along the Thai-Burmese 
border. Many   have fled their homeland after fighting between rebel 
armies and government troops.    



BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch 
denounced the Thai government Friday for forcibly repatriating more 
than 100 ethnic Karen refugees to Myanmar this week. 

 It said the Thai authorities expelled 116 refugees from Don Yang 
refugee camp in the western Thai province of Kanchanaburi to 
Myanmar's Mon state on Monday. 

 They were expelled after a provincial board established to process 
refugee claims rejected their application to remain in the camp, the 
human rights group said. 

 Many of the refugees had fled fighting between the Karen National 
Union and the Myanmar army in 1997, but reported to the camp only 
after border-wide registrations in 1998. 

 Their delay in reporting was crucial because Thai authorities only 
allow entry to the camps to those deemed to be fleeing conflict. 

 ``These narrow criteria fail to take into account all of the other 
grave human rights abuses that cause refugees to flee Burma, 
including forced relocation, arbitrary execution, forced labor, and 
torture,'' said Human Rights Watch. Myanmar is also called Burma. 

 The Karen have been fighting Myanmar's central government for more 
autonomy since the country became independent more than five decades 

 There are more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees, mostly Karen, in 
refugee camps in Thailand. Provincial review boards like the one in 
Kanchanaburi are reviewing the cases of 4,000 to 5,000 refugees. 

 Human Rights Watch said that many of the refugees marked for 
expulsion from the Kanchanaburi camp Monday actually slipped out of 
the camp beforehand, and the Thai government arbitrarily expelled 
others who had not been screened. 

 Human Rights Watch called on the Thai government to suspend 
deportations an unambiguous set of criteria consistent with 
international standards is drawn up. 

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________

June 17, 2000

DESPITE Burma's "tough fight to the very last minute", the 
International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday passed 
unprecedented punitive measures that are tantamount to the imposition 
of global sanctions on the Burmese junta for its practice of forced 
and compulsory labour. 

Although the regime is given a grace period of five months, its 
Western critics and international labour unions are determined not to 
let it off the hook when the ILO governing body meets on November 30 
to review the matter. 

Predictably, the Burmese delegation to the ILO categorically rejected 
the punitive resolution, which was passed by a 257-41 vote with 31 
abstentions. It called the action "most unfair, most unreasonable and 
most unjust". Each of the 174 ILO country members has four votes, two 
for the government and one each for employers and workers.

The measures adopted include a call on all ILO constituents - 
governments, employers and workers - to review their relations with 
Burma and for international organisations, including other UN 
agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to 
cease all activities which could abet the practice of forced labour.

The resolution also calls on the UN's Economic and Social Council or 
the General Assembly to adopt recommendations directing international 
agencies and UN member states to ensure that their involvement with 
the Burmese junta does not include the practice of forced labour.

The voting on Wednesday was the culmination of a series of complaints 
and ILO investigation in the late 1990s into the allegations 
of "widespread and systematic" use of forced or compulsory labour in 
Burma. An ILO technical team, which visited Burma on May 23-27, 
confirmed the ILO Commission of Inquiry's 1998 findings that the 
factual situation of forced or compulsory labour in Burma had 
nevertheless remained unchanged.

The resolution had been fiercely opposed by not only Burma but also 
its Asian allies - Japan and Asean countries - and other developing 
countries, which feared the precedent of such punishment against 
their own labour standards and practices. Indonesia, Malaysia, the 
Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam went as far as proposing a counter-
draft calling for action to be deferred. The Asean document was 
subsequently shot down.

As it turned out, Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri 
Lanka joined Asean members and some Latin American countries - 
Venezuela and Uruguay - and Zambia in Africa in voting against the 
resolution. Surprisingly, Thailand abstained in the ballot.

Although international labour and human-rights activists viewed the 
Thai stance as a split within the Asean grouping and a signal of 
Thailand's growing discontent with its western neighbour, 
Laxanachantorn Laohaphan, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's 
International Organisation Affairs Department, told The Nation that 
the Thai vote should not be taken out of context.

Asean, she said, has no tradition of bloc voting in any international 
or UN forums, and Thailand has separated the two issues - Thai-
Burmese relations and allegations of forced labour in Burma. As the 
next-door neighbour, the matter of forced labour is of Thailand's 
concern as it could suffer from an influx of Burmese migrants, she 

"Each Asean member has different interests. Our voting is based on 
our national interest. Asean, like the G-77 or NAM [Non-Alignment 
Movement] does not have a bloc of voting that all members have to 
conform to," said Laxanachantorn.

The senior Thai official believed Rangoon fully understood Thailand, 
which was against tough sanctions against Burma and believed Burma 
should be given more time to comply with ILO recommendations.

It remains to be seen how the Burmese generals in Rangoon will take 
the tough punishment, which constitutes nothing other than a global 
boycott of Burma.

According to one Asian diplomat in Geneva, the Burmese delegation had 
informed Asean countries before the voting that Burma would consider 
withdrawing from the ILO if it received sanctions despite its stated 
commitment to cooperate with the ILO.

Japan in particular was very concerned with the Burmese threat and 
the negative consequences as a result of Burma's further isolation. 
In his statement after the voting, Japanese United Nations Ambassador 
Koichi Haraguchi told the ILO conference that his government "frankly 
was not happy with the resolution."

He asked Burma not to take "offence from the resolution" and urged 
the regime to continue to cooperate with the ILO. Tokyo will 
provide "good offices and other assistance" to help resolve the 
issue, said the Japanese envoy.

Although exiled Burmese dissidents and Burma campaign activists are 
satisfied with the ILO's further sanctions on the Burmese junta, the 
Asian diplomat cautioned that Burma had in fact garnered more friends 
in the vote. 

"The analysis of the voting results shows that Burma was not so 
isolated as previously thought," he said. Compared with last year's 
voting on a similar resolution, this year the votes against Burma 
decreased by 76 while the votes opposing the resolution increased by 

"Burma should be pleased that its support has expanded from last 
year. It's not just Asean and China but the Asia-Pacific region," the 
diplomat said. 

But Western labour unions and Western countries, especially the 
United States, which have harshly criticised the regime's bad human-
rights and labour records at various forums, including the ILO 
conference, are convinced that by the end of the year some of the 
penalties would be enacted.

Diplomatic battles for the real showdown in November have just begun, 
and it will be a fierce fight by both opponents and proponents of 
Burma sanctions. 

BY Yindee Lertcharoenchok



LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - Foreign Office Minister John Battle on 
Friday urged British tourists to stay away from Myanmar, saying every 
visitor helped fill the coffers of its military rulers. 

 Battle, citing what he called Myanmar's ``appalling record'' on 
human rights and lack of democracy, said tourism was an important 
source of revenue to a country which Britain has repeatedly sought to 

 ``Individuals can make a difference too. Burmese (Myanmar) 
democratic leaders have made clear that they want tourists to stay 
away from Burma,'' Battle said in a speech at Leeds University. 

 ``We cannot ban individuals from travelling, but every British 
tourist who goes there should know that they have to exchange US$300 
on arrival,'' he said. 

 ``Every one of these dollars will directly support the regime. 
Anyone even thinking of going to Burma (Myanmar) should be under no 
illusion as to what is happening there.'' 

 Britain says human rights violations, particularly against ethnic 
minorities, continues in Myanmar, including forced relocations, 
killings and forced labour. 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________


June 19, 2000


For most of its 81 years, critics have derided the International 
Labor  Organization (ILO) as a toothless body that does little 
besides publish reports that no one reads.  Now the U.N. agency, run 
by Director-General Juan Somavia, may be ready to grow a few baby 
teeth. In  mid-June, an ILO conference in Geneva will vote on whether 
to sanction Myanmar (Burma) for  forced-labor abuses under a never-
used clause in the ILO constitution.

If a majority of the ILO's 174 member countries agree, as seems 
likely, the  agency's charges of labor abuses could have new bite. 
How so? The clause would allow the ILO to  officially send the 
charges to a wider audience of member governments and other U.N. 

It also would give governments legal cover to penalize the censured 
country  with trade or investment restrictions, says Thomas Niles, a 
U.S. ILO delegate. This might temper  further eruptions like those 
last year in Seattle, where unions wanted the World Trade 
Organization to  enforce labor standards because of the ILO's 



 June 17, 2000

ON Tuesday, Thailand abstained from the crucial vote on measures 
against Burma at the International Labour Organization (ILO) over the 
regime's use of forced labour. It was a laudable decision that sent a 
clear message to Rangoon what we have in mind.

The ILO's unprecedented measures call for diplomatic sanctions 
against the junta if its practices have not improved by November 30. 
In other words, Burma has five months to change the situation and 
prove to the world forced labour does not exist inside the country. 
The Burmese junta leaders have pledged to cooperate with the ILO 
fully on this matter. Somehow, the ILO technical team, which visited 
Burma recently, was not impressed and decided to press on further to 
ensure Burma does not get away scot-free this time around.

Thailand's current position came after a careful consideration of 
whether to vote in support of the sanctions or abstain. There was 
strong public pressure for the Thai government to vote in support of 
the measure along with 257 other ILO constituents. Thai 
representatives from trade unions and employers were against Burma. 
The Foreign Ministry debated the pros and cons of its decision, but 
recognised it was likely to have far-reaching implications towards 
Asean's overall position and Thailand's relations with Burma. After 
some deliberation, the ministry concluded Thailand should stay away 
from the voting so Burma can prove itself. If in the next five months 
the use of forced labour has stopped, then Thailand will change its 

The ILO abstention also indicated support for Burma within the Asean 
framework and international arena is no longer "automatic". In the 
past, it has always been the Asean tradition for all members to vote 
the same way, even if they disagreed with the decision. This kind of 
hypocrisy is no longer tolerated. As a member of Asean, Thailand will 
vote according to its principles. In the upcoming United Nations 
General Assembly, we urge Thailand to follow this line of thinking 
when the assembly deliberates later this year on the situation inside 

Thailand's position might not fit into the ordinary Asean pattern. It 
should not. As the closest neighbour of Burma, Thailand has the 
highest stake. The Burmese junta's tough political repression and 
economic mismanagement only dive the people to flee the country. 
Thailand is often their first choice of asylum.

The time has come for Asean to rethink its "unconditional" support of 
Burma. Since its admission in July 1997, Burma has not done anything 
to promote the unity of Asean. It has cited the Asean spirit as a 
pretext to stop Asean from thinking aloud.

If Burma is serious about its membership in Asean, it must ban all 
forms of forced labour and prove to the world it no longer practices 
this horrible abuse. Thailand is willing to give its support if Burma 
really follows its promises without wavering. Bangkok has no plans to 
ostracise Burma - after all, it is our neighbour.

Thailand must be firm in its position. We do not have any ill-
intention to split Asean. But the group must not be held hostage by a 
pariah member. As a nation, we must have the decency to follow our 
own thinking, especially when democracy and civil society is so 
strong. That's why the Thai public supports the decision, because it 
reflects the democratic values of our country. Now it is our duty to 
ensure the decision remains firm, unless Burma changes for the better 
and becomes free of political oppression. 



16 JUNE 2000


In October 1998, a 12-year old girl in Karen state was taken with two 
others to act as guides for regime troops. She was allegedly raped by 
a major and managed to escape. But she was recaptured and raped again 
and then shot dead. The major gave the girl's family compensation for 
her death: one sack of rice, one measure of sugar, one tin of 
condensed milk, and 100 kyat (about 20p).

This is just one of all too many shocking examples listed by Amnesty 
International in a recent report about women in Burma. 

Today I want to:

* set out for all to see the Burmese regime's appalling record on 
human   rights abuse and democracy; 

* set out how the UK is taking the lead in putting international   
pressure on the Burmese regime to change; 

* undertake to keep up such pressure until the regime improves its 
human   rights record and enters into dialogue with democratic groups 
in Burma.

To all appearances, Burma is among the most exotic destinations in 
the world. It has so much to offer, from its age old pagodas and 
colourful markets to its seductively tranquil pace of life. Burma has 
a long history and tradition of Buddhist culture.

But the reality is that this country, inhabited by some of the 
gentlest people in the world, has been governed since the sixties by 
military regimes and that the current regime, in power since 1988, is 
one of the most barbaric in the world.

When Burma gained her independence from Britain in 1948, few would 
have believed that the country would slide to the point of economic 
and social collapse that Burma has now reached under this brutal 
military junta...

The situation on the ground in Burma, particularly for the ethnic 
minorities there, is appalling. The NLD and other political groups 
continue to work bravely for democracy, offering the hand of 
partnership to those in authority. But that hand has so often been 
pushed aside. Although no longer under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi 
is left isolated, her principles and conviction her only defence 
against the regime's thugs. The regime claims it respects 
international human rights norms. Nothing could be further from the 

 ...We are doing what we can to help these people through a variety of 
channels. We are providing direct humanitarian assistance, working 
closely with neighbouring countries on repatriation issues and 
safeguarding the security of refugees.

British humanitarian assistance delivers vital relief to the region. 
Our assistance to non?governmental organisations working on the 
ground in Burma targets some of the poorest and most vulnerable 
groups. Since 1996, we have provided more than one million pounds for 
Burmese refugees in neighbouring countries.

This year alone we have allocated two hundred and seventy thousand 
pounds to support the excellent work of the Burma Border Consortium 
in providing humanitarian assistance to refugee camps in Thailand. 

Burma's economy is frankly a mess. Hardly surprising when the regime 
devotes anywhere between 40 and 60 per cent of its budget to the 
Inflation in Burma is officially estimated at between 30 and 40 per 
cent. But the basket used to produce this figure is unreliable. The 
real figure is probably nearer 100 per cent. 

For example, a 50 kilo bag of rice now costs between four and five 
thousand Kyat, double the price of a year ago. The average family in 
Burma spends about 80 per cent of its income on food.

There were budget deficits throughout the 1990s. Officially the 
current deficit is about 3.5 per cent of GDP, although it's probably 
greater because of off?budget, mainly military expenditure.

With a tax take of only 3 per cent, the lowest in the world, the 
regime spends more than twice as much as it receives in tax. The 
official exchange rate in Burma is one US dollar to six Burmese Kyat. 
The market rate is one dollar to 330 Kyat.

Investment in Burma has dried up. New approvals in 1998/99 were only 
5 per cent of those in the previous financial year. Major foreign 
companies are pulling out. Toyota, and HSBC, are but two examples. 
That's another vote of no confidence in the regime.

And even during the peak investment years of the early 1990s, all key 
social welfare indicators worsened, suggesting that the investment 
benefited only a very small elite in the country.

Burma's trade with all its key neighbours has declined rapidly in the 
last two years. The country is in default with its outstanding loans 
from both the World and Asian Development Banks.

It currently has some 270 billion yen in official debt to Japan, 130 
billion of which is in arrears, representing a third of all non?
performing Japanese loans.

Before the Second World War, Burma was the world's largest exporter 
of rice ? 3.3 million tonnes in 1938/39. In the early 1960s Burma 
exported about one and a half million tonnes annually. Now Burma 
exports less than 100,000 tonnes per year. The rice bowl of Asia can 
scarcely feed its own people.

Britain has historically strong links with Burma. Which makes it all 
the more difficult for us to stand by and watch the subjugation of a 
nation by military despots who continue to ignore the people's 
democratic choice. While that dreadful state of affairs remains, we 
shall afford the regime no respite.

Robin Cook saw some of the suffering the Burmese people are enduring 
when he visited a refugee camp near the Burma border in Thailand in 
April. He said then that he could not forget the horrors he saw and 
heard about. 

The only comfort he could draw from the experience was that his harsh 
criticism of the regime at the time drew a sharp reaction from them. 
They were stung by his words. Which shows that our policy of 
condemnation and pressure works. It reminds the regime that their 
malignant incompetence is tracked by the wider world. And it gives 
heart to Burma's downtrodden democrats. They can see that they are 
not forgotten.

We shall continue to condemn the regime's dreadful human rights 
record, and to press them to enter into substantive dialogue with 
democratic groups, including ethnic minority leaders, to find a 
political solution to the country's problems.

There will be no relaxation in the pressure we are mounting, the 
measures we have taken and shall continue to take for as long as they 
continue to hold out against political and economic reform. 

Our policy recognises the need to sustain the Burmese opposition and 
to resist the regime's efforts to wear down international resistance 
to its undemocratic rule.

Through our Embassy in Rangoon we maintain very close contacts with 
pro-democracy groups in Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD 
party. We all value this important contact.

But it is not, as some have suggested, just about Aung San Suu Kyi. 
Our policy rests upon the principle of the right of the Burmese 
people to express a choice about who should govern them and how 
governments are held accountable.

In failing to allow Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party to form a 
government, the Burmese military regime are denying the people of 
Burma those rights.

We are determined to keep up the pressure on Burma on every front, 
bilaterally, regionally and multinationally, in whatever forum is 

Multilateral pressure is without doubt the most potent weapon at our 
disposal. That is why Britain has been leading efforts to mobilise 
the international community in a wide range of international bodies. 

Burma's disgraceful human rights record is an affront to the United 
Nations principles that it has undertaken to uphold.

In April, we again co-sponsored a strongly worded United Nations 
Commission on Human Rights resolution, cataloguing the Burmese 
regime's human rights violations. We did the same at the UN General 
Assembly last November.

It is the responsibility of the Burmese government to respect their 
international obligations, and to implement UN resolutions swiftly 
and in full. We shall maintain the pressure to ensure that they do so.
Back in March the United Kingdom led the charge in condemning Burma 
at the governing body of the International Labour Organisation. The 
regime has consistently ignored the ILO's recommendations on stopping 
forced labour, and that organisation's patience has snapped.

Two days ago, in an unprecedented move, ILO delegates voted to take 
action to compel the Burmese regime to comply with ILO regulations on 
forced labour.

This is the first time that such steps have been taken against a 
member state in the history of the ILO, thus implicitly recognising 
that Burma's behaviour in this respect is worse than any other labour 
issue, anywhere, ever. International pressure does work.

Further evidence of this was seen in the regime's reaction to the 
EU's tightened package of measures against Burma, announced in April 
in a move spear-headed by the UK.

The EU now not only bans military exports, defence links,
non-humanitarian aid and high level bilateral visits, but has also 
published a list of prominent regime measures for whom visas are 
banned, and has frozen their funds in the EU.

We have taken unilateral measures too. We have withdrawn all 
Government support for trade missions to Burma and actively 
discourage British companies from doing business there. In March I 
called in representatives of Premier Oil, the biggest British 
investor in Burma, and told them we wanted them to withdraw from the 
country as soon as lawfully possible. Our view is that a multi-
million pound investment in Burma's most important revenue generating 
sector can only serve to prop up the military regime.

I was delighted to hear since then that two other major British 
companies with a presence in Burma have reviewed their positions 
there, with HSBC announcing their withdrawal and Standard Chartered 
downgrading their operation in Burma.

Individuals can make a difference too. Burmese democratic leaders 
have made clear that they want tourists to stay away from Burma. We 
cannot ban individuals from going there ? unlike Burma, this is a 
free country. 

But every independent British tourist that does go there should know 
that they have to exchange three hundred US dollars into Foreign 
Exchange Certificates. Every one of these dollars will directly 
support the regime, which is desperately short of foreign exchange. 

Any tourist to Burma should only go with their eyes open to what is 
happening there.

Not everyone agree with our policy on Burma, so the scope for further 
international action is limited. For example, for trade sanctions to 
be effective they have to be universal and we know that for now at 
least, this is not achievable.

Some argue that because of this, we should introduce unilateral 
sanctions. But experience has shown us that unilateral sanctions 
don't work. And we are not in the business of empty gestures. We want 
to take action that has a real effect.

Others would prefer us to move in the other direction, ease the 
pressure and engage in dialogue with the regime. But the regime 
refuses to engage.

They are in denial. They deny all human rights abuse allegations, and 
yet refuse access to anyone wishing to investigate those allegations. 
Judge Lallah, the United Nations Special envoy on human rights, has 
never been allowed into Burma.

Mr De Soto, the UN's last Special envoy on Burma, got in only rarely. 
I very much hope that Razali Ismail, the newly appointed Special 
envoy, enjoys greater access. But the signs are not promising.

The Burmese have already delayed his first planned visit. He now 
hopes to visit at the end of this month. Do not be surprised if we 
see yet another postponement.

The World Bank, who accompanied Mr De Soto on his visit, did so 
carrying an olive branch. Show signs of improvement on human rights, 
they said, for example, release some political prisoners and allow 
freedom of political expression, and in return you can start on the 
road back towards developmental aid.

Nothing happened. Dialogue takes two, but the Burmese are simply not 
prepared to engage. The Burmese do not talk to us, and until they do, 
we shall remain firm. So where do we go from here?

Let the regime be in no doubt that we will not relax the pressure. 

We will work unilaterally, regionally, multilaterally, through the 
EU, the UN, through any and all appropriate fora, to drive home to 
the Burmese regime that they will not be allowed to get away with it. 

They are going to have to change. The winds of democratic reform are 
sweeping the ASEAN region. Burma cannot remain immune.

We want an end to the human rights abuses, and a return to democracy. 
Until those changes occur, Burma cannot be welcomed back into the 
international fold. As long as the denial continues, so will the 

In the meantime, we as a Government, and as democratic people in 
Britain, will continue to keep the spotlight on the situation in 
Burma - underlining and challenging the human rights abuses, engaging 
with our partners in the EU, the UN and the wider international 
community to increase the pressure on the Burmese military to respect 
democracy. Next Monday sees the birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi. Her 
courageous lifelong struggle and endurance are supported throughout 
the world. Three weeks  ago was the tenth anniversary of the election 
won by the National League for Democracy. They are still prevented 
from taking office. These anniversaries will be remembered and 
commemorated until there is justice and peace for all Burmese people, 
and democracy is properly restored.  

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________


  May 30th- June 15th      : 88th Session of the International Labour 
Conference, Geneva 
  June 18th                : Fundraising benefit at the Royal Court 
Theatre, London 
  June 19th                : Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday and Burmese 
Women's Day 
  June 22-23rd        : Burma Donor Meeting, Dublin

  June 24th                : Burma Solidarity Meeting, Dublin 
  July 7th            : Commemoration of bombing of student union and 
shooting in 1962  
  July 19th                : Martyrs Day (Official)

  July 24-25th        : 33rd  ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), 
  July 27th                : 7th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Bangkok 
  July 28-29th        : 33rd ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences 
(PMC), Bangkok 
  August 8th               : 12th Anniversary of the 8-8-88 uprising  
  September 18th           : Anniversary of SLORC Coup, 1988 
  September 24th           : National League for Democracy formed 
  October 26-28th               : the 50th Congress of Liberal 
International, Ottawa 
  October             : 104th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, Jakarta 
  November 2-17th          : 279th Session of the Governing Body and 
its committees, Geneva 


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