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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: July 19, 2000

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

July 19, 2000

Issue # 1579

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
*Inside Burma














__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


July 19,2000

YANGON, Myanmar.  Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi laid flowers at 
the tomb of her father, Myanmar's independence hero, at a state 
ceremony Wednesday marking the anniversary of his assassination. 

 Her party renewed its call for a restoration of democracy in 
Myanmar, also known as Burma. 

 A black shawl wrapped around her shoulders, the solemn Suu Kyi, 55, 
knelt and paid her respects at the mausoleum of Gen. Aung San, at the 
foot of Yangon's towering Shwedagon Pagoda. 

 Suu Kyi lay three baskets of red roses and white daisies at the 
site, soon after her brother, visiting from the United States, laid a 
wreath of white flowers. 

 It is the only event of the year at which the military government 
allows Suu Kyi to take part in official ceremonies and be shown on 
state-controlled television. 

 Suu Kyi heads the National League for Democracy, which swept 1990 
general elections in Myanmar, elections that the military never 

 In a more explicitly political event, Suu Kyi attended a private 
ceremony afterward at the league's headquarters, where people were 
urged to join hands with the opposition party to achieve democracy 
and human rights. 

 Martyrs' Day commemorates the assassination of Aung San, six 
ministers and two others machine-gunned during a Cabinet meeting on 
July 19, 1947. The attack was orchestrated by a political rival and 
aided by renegade British intelligence officers.
 Aung San was the founder of Myanmar's army and is respected as a 
national hero by the ruling military regime for his leading role in 
the struggle for independence from Britain.
 Suu Kyi is seen as a traitor for her opposition to army rule. 

 Suu Kyi did not speak at either ceremony, but NLD Vice Chairman Tin 
Oo read a six-page statement to about 300 party members, diplomats 
and reporters gathered at party headquarters. 

 ``Present-day Myanmar has digressed from the policies laid down by 
Gen. Aung San,'' he said. ``People cannot enjoy democracy or human 
rights but suffer under the repression of successive military 



July 18, 2000

 Over the past four years, more than 100,000 Shan villagers have fled 
to Thailand because of mass relocations, forced labor and 
extrajudicial killings in eastern Burma, Amnesty International said 

Civilians have borne the brunt of the Burma military's 
counterinsurgency tactics and the exodus to Thailand has continued 
this year with thousands escaping over the border as fighting rumbles 
on, the London-based human rights watchdog said in a report. 

"Regretfully, despite extensive documentation of abuses and 
widespread calls from the international community, no improvements in 
the Shan State or in any other area of Burma are apparent," Amnesty 
said in a new report. 

Amnesty urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 
to raise the "ongoing human rights crisis" with Burma, also an ASEAN 
member, at its annual ministerial meeting in Bangkok on July 24-27. 

During the first five months of this year, more than 5,300 Shan 
civilians fled to one area of Thailand alone, Amnesty said. 

Thailand shelters around 120,000 refugees who have fled fighting in 
Burma, but Thai authorities do not recognize the displaced Shans as 
refugees. They live in Thailand illegally and seek low paying jobs at 
the risk of being deported. 

Since 1996 over 300,000 civilians in Shan State have been displaced 
by the army in an effort to break up any alleged links with the rebel 
Shan State Army-South, depriving them of their livelihoods. 

They risk being shot on sight if they try to return and farm their 
land, Amnesty said. 

One woman told the human rights group about the killings in January 
of a 40-year-old man, his 11-year-old son and his 18-year-old 
daughter from her village in Nanzing township. She said the three 
were shot dead by Burma military after sneaking back to grow rice. 

All refugees from central Shan State interviewed by Amnesty in 
Thailand earlier this year had been forced to work for the army 
without pay. Many of them had worked alongside children as young as 
10 years old on road-building projects. 

Burma has been governed by its military for the past 38 years. It has 
been widely accused of human rights abuses against its citizens, 
particularly in ethnic minority areas where there has been fighting 
between rebels and government forces. 

For more than 50 years ethnic insurgencies have fought against 
central rule by Rangoon. Most groups have reached cease-fires, but 
three fight on, including the Shan State Army-South. 



July 18, 2000
MORE than 300,000 ethnic Shan people have been displaced from their 
homes over the past four years to escape civil war, mass relocations, 
forced labour and extrajudicial killings by Burmese government 
troops, according to a report obtained from the Amnesty International 
The London-based human rights group also called on Asean to take up 
the "ongoing human rights crisis" in Burma at the upcoming annual 
Asean ministerial meeting from July 24-27. 
"Regretfully, despite extensive documentation of abuses and 
widespread calls from the international community, no improvements in 
the Shan state or in any other area of Burma are apparent," Amnesty 
International said in its report. 
More than 100,000 Burmese refugees are living in border camps in the 
But unlike other ethnic minority groups who have fled into Thailand, 
the displaced Shan are not recognised as refugees and are not placed 
in camps. 
Col Yawd Serk, leader of the Shan State Army, one of the few 
remaining armed groups fighting the military junta, has consistently 
urged the international community to set up refugee camps to assist 
the displaced Shan. 
The absence of refugee camps to assist the Shan means many have no 
choice but to take up low-paid jobs at the risk of being deported, 
editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News Kernsai Jaiyen said. 
Many have become pawns in the hands of the local authorities and 
businessmen who exploit them for cheap labour, aid workers said. 
Shan soldiers and human rights organisations accused the Rangoon 
government of displacing the villagers so opposition forces do not 
get any possible assistance. 
According to the human rights group, ethnic minorities in Burma 
suffer greater risk of abuse. 
"They are frequently seized for forced labour, and those living in 
areas of armed conflicts are at risk of extrajudicial killings and 
torture by the Burmese army, who suspect them of supporting armed 
opposition groups," the Amnesty International report said. 
All refugees from central Shan state interviewed by Amnesty 
international in Thailand earlier this year had been forced to work 
for the army without pay. 
Many of them had worked alongside children as young as 10 years old 
on road-building projects. 
Burma has been ruled by the military for the past 38 years. 
It has been widely accused of human rights abuse against its 
citizens, particularly in ethnic minority areas where there has been 
armed resistance between rebels and government forces. 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


July 19, 2000

BANGKOK, Thailand.   Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and Chinese Vice 
President Hu Jintao discussed on Wednesday the problem of drugs 
flowing out of Myanmar, Thai officials said.
 Hu is on the second day of an official visit marking the 25th 
anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations.
 China offered to support Thailand if it starts helping Myanmar, also 
known as Burma, persuade ethnic minorities in its opium-producing 
areas to grow other crops instead, Thai government spokesman Akapol 
Sorasuchart said.
 Myanmar is the world's second-largest source of heroin, after 
Afghanistan, and a major producer of methamphetamines. Enough opium 
to make 110 tons of heroin was produced last year in Myanmar, which 
with Laos and northern Thailand forms Southeast Asia's ``Golden 

 Chuan told Hu that in a meeting in March with the leader of 
Myanmar's military regime, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, Bangkok offered 
such assistance.
 At that meeting, Myanmar and Thailand agreed to step up cooperation 
in fighting drugs, but the results have been disappointing. 

 Thailand considers methamphetamines from Myanmar is its most serious 
external security threat. 

 An ethnic Wa army that made peace with Myanmar's government is a 
leading producer. Yangon says it lacks resources and that areas where 
the drugs are made, close to the Thai and Chinese borders, are 
largely out of their control. 

 China faces problems stemming from heroin from Myanmar, including 
addition and the rapid spread of AIDS in southern regions on 
trafficking routes.
 Hu arrived in Thailand on Tuesday after three days in Myanmar _ the 
most senior Chinese visit to Yangon in six years. He was to visit 
Indonesia, Belarus and Kazakstan after leaving Thailand on Saturday. 



July 19, 2000
BANGKOK, Thailand.   A road being built inside the Myanmar border 
will facilitate drug trafficking and Myanmar troop movements and 
poses a major security threat to Thailand, an army chief said in a 
report Wednesday. 
Thai military sources say Myanmar's government has given the ethnic 
United Wa State Army (UWSA) the go-ahead to build the road and move 
into territory held by the rival Shan State Army (SSA). 

 The junta is using the feared "Red Wa" fighters in their campaign 
against the Shan, one of the few armed factions left in Myanmar that 
has yet to sign a ceasefire with the government, they say. 

 Lieutenant General Watanachai Chaimuenwong, the commander of 
Thailand's Third Army which patrols the border, told The Bangkok Post 
that the road was designed to help the Wa smuggle drugs to their 
Maung Yawn stronghold. 
 "Thai security troops would have to work harder and adjust plans to 
deal with drug smuggling and other border problems" in light of the 
development, the report said. 

 Watanachai criticised Thai contractors hired to build the 150 
kilometre (93 mile) road, saying they were accepting dirty money and 
threatening the security of their own country. 

 He reportedly urged the foreign ministry to raise the matter for 
talks with Beijing, a major ally of Myanmar. 

 The Wa army, cobbled together from the remnants of the Communist 
Party of Burma, has become the most powerful of several ethnic rebel 
groups, allegedly thanks to profits from the drugs trade. 

 Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of opium as well as a 
major source of amphetamines. The Thai army said about 600 million 
amphetamine tablets flooded into the country from Myanmar last year. 



July 18, 2000

Vice-President Hu Jintao who is paying an official visit to Burma met 
with Chairman of the Burma State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) 
Senior- General Than Shwe at the Pyithuluttaw (People's Parliament) 
Hall Monday and they chatted in a friendly atmosphere. 

Hu first conveyed the cordial greetings and good wishes of President 
Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji to chairman Than Shwe and the 
Burma people. 

He said, "The aim of my Burma visit on the occasion of the 50th 
anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between 
China and Burma is to enhance the 'paukphaw' (fraternal) friendship 
and to deepen the two countries' cooperation so as to ceaselessly 
develop the Sino-Burma friendly cause initiated by leaders of elder 
generations of the two countries." 

China and Burma are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers 
and Burma is one of the earliest countries that recognized the 
People's Republic of China after New China was founded, Hu noted, 
recalling that Burma had firmly supported China in resuming its legal 
seat in the United Nations. 

In the past half century, no matter how the international situation 
changed, Sino-Burma ties have been consistently maintained and 
steadily developed, he pointed out, attributing this to the joint 
efforts made by successive leaders of the two countries and the two 

He expressed willingness to strive with the Burma side and actively 
implement the contents contained in the China-Burma Joint Statement, 
and deepen the mutually beneficial cooperation of the two nations in 
each sector so that the bilateral ties would sustainably and steadily 
develop in the new century. 

He appraised and thanked Burma government for its consistent abidance 
by the "One China" policy which says Burma would never establish 
official ties with Taiwan in any form. 

He also said in recent years, under the leadership of the Burma SPDC 
headed by chairman Than Shwe, Burma government and people have gained 
important achievements in bringing about political stability, 
national reconciliation, economic development and in foreign 

"For these, we, as a friendly neighbor, are heartily delighted, " he 
said, expressing the belief that with Burma possessing rich natural 
resources and its people's diligence, Burma government and people are 
bound to overcome various difficulties and will score greater 
achievements on its road forward and build its own country even 

At the meeting, Chairman Than Shwe requested Vice-President Hu Jintao 
to convey his cordial greetings and good wishes to the Chinese 
leaders and the Chinese people. 

Than Shwe said the visit of Vice-President Hu on the occasion of the 
50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between 
Burma and China has important significance in continuously pushing 
ahead the development of the two countries' ties. 

He briefed Hu on Burma's domestic political and economic situation, 
saying that Burma government and people will never forget the Chinese 
government and people for their true and valuable support for Burma's 
national cause of construction. 

He hoped that China, as a big developing nation, would play a greater 
role in international and regional affairs in a bid to safeguard the 
interests of the broad developing countries, build up a more 
reasonable and new international order and make greater contribution 
to the cause of peace and development in Asia and the world over. 

He also said that Burma will consistently abide by the "One China" 
policy, wishing heartily that China's reunification cause will be 
realized at an early date. 

In the afternoon, Vice-President Hu Jintao and his entourage visited 
the Maha Bandoola Bridge and the Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge. 

In the evening, Hu will call on Chinese embassy staff and meet with 
representatives of Burma-Chinese and Chinese residents in the country.


July 18, 2000

RANGOON: Burma and China signed co-operation agreements on economics, 
tourism and, science and technology during a visit by Chinese Vice 
President Hu Jintao to the military-ruled country, official 
newspapers said on Monday.

The newspapers gave no details of the agreements.

A source close to the Chinese embassy said the two sides were also 
due to sign two memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to build a cement 
factory and another to build a pulp factory.

The MOUs would involve an interest-free yuan loan equivalent to about 
$120 million and a second, soft loan in yuan equivalent to $50 
million, the source said.Hu Jintao said in a statement released on 
his arrival on Sunday that smooth bilateral relations aided regional 
stability."As proven by past experience, to maintain the friendly 
contacts and mutually beneficial co-operation between the two 
countries not only serves the fundamental interests of the two 
peoples but also contributes to stability and co-operation in the 
region," he said. Hu Jintao's three-day visit to Burma is the second 
by a senior Chinese leader in two months. Chinese State Councillor 
Ismail Amat led a delegation to Yangon in early June.

The two countries have had diplomatic relations since 1950.Beijing 
has ignored efforts by Western countries in recent years to isolate 
Yangon over what they see as its poor human rights record and for its 
treatment of Burma's pro-democracy opposition, led by Nobel Peace 
Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Hu Jintao's delegation, which includes 
Deputy Foreign Minister Yang Guangya and Deputy Minister for Foreign 
Trade and Economic Co-operation Chen Xinhua, is due to head for 
Thailand on Tuesday. 



July 18, 2000

Two Chinese companies have respectively reached contracts with the 
Burma government to build a textile mill and a pulp factory in the 

According to Monday's official newspaper The New Light of Burma, the 
contract for building the Pwintbyu textile mill in Burma's central 
Magway division was signed here on Sunday between the Tianjin 
Machinery Import and Export Corporation (Group) of China and the 
Burma Textile Industries of the Ministry of Industry-1. 

The other contract for building the Thabaung pulp factory in the 
country's southwestern Ayeyawaddy division was signed on the same day 
between the China Metallurgical Construction (Group) and the Burma 
Paper and Chemical Industries of the same ministry. The factory 

In the wake of enhanced economic cooperation between China and Burma, 
Chinese companies have initiated a number of contracted projects in 
this country with some in the form of wholly Chinese investment or 
joint venture. So far, more than 10 Chinese enterprises have already 
been set up in Burma.

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________


July 18, 2000

By Peter Szekely 
 WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - A union seeking to represent workers 
at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Tuesday that the world's largest 
retailer is selling goods made by forced labour in Myanmar, despite a 
claim that it would no longer do so. 

 Citing government data, the United Food and Commercial Workers 
(UFCW) said Wal-Mart's Canadian operation has imported nearly 70 tons 
of garments from Myanmar -- the name chosen by the military 
government of the country formerly called Burma -- since the end of 
last year. 

 Union officials said products made in factories under the control of 
the Myanmar government remain on Wal-Mart's shelves in Canada because 
the retailer has been importing them through third party vendors. 
They said they did not know whether any products from Myanmar were in 
Wal-Mart's U.S. stores. 

 ``We demand that Wal-Mart sever all ties with any company doing 
business in Burma,'' said Michael Leonard, a UFCW international vice 

 ``Wal-Mart cannot claim that it has cut its Burma connection and 
then trade with the business partners of Burma's dictators,'' Leonard 
told a news conference. 

 The union, which has launched a campaign to represent the company's 
U.S. 700,000 retail workers, is asking customers to urge Wal-Mart in 
telephone calls and e-mails to cut off all business with Myanmar. 

 ``The American people need to know that the military regime and 
Burma's drug lords control most commercial activity in Burma and this 
is especially true of the garment and textile sector,'' U Maung 
Maung, an exiled Burmese trade union leader, said at the news 

 Maung Maung, who lives in Bangkok, said union activity is illegal in 

 The UFCW said Wal-Mart declared in January that it would end trade 
with Myanmar. Company representatives did not return phone calls 
seeking comment. 

 Last month, the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation (ILO) 
passed a resolution against Myanmar's alleged widespread use of 
forced labour. 

 The ILO's appeal to governments and institutions, including the 
World Bank and International Monetary Fund, to ensure they do not 
abet Myanmar in perpetuating forced labour was a first for the 81-
year-old United Nations labour agency. But it did not mention 
economic sanctions and the ILO's governing body has no teeth to 
enforce such measures. 

 The United States barred American comanies in 1997 from making new 
investments in Myanmar, citing its ``highly authoritarian military 
regime'' and saying that its primary source of income comes from the 
sale of illicit narcotics. 

 But the sanctions do not bar the importation of Myanmar goods and 
the UFCW said U.S. imports of Myanmar-made garments have risen 132 
percent in the past three years. 

 Union officials said Wal-Mart's Canadian operation has done business 
with six vendors that import goods from Myanmar -- Hampton 
Industries, Sutton Creations, Global Gold, Stretch-O-Rama, Cherry 
Stix and By Design. 

 Because of its huge size, Wal-Mart has enough clout over its 
suppliers to force them to stop doing business with Myanmar, said 
Mark Anderson, president of the AFL-CIO's Food and Allied Service 
Trades department. 

 ``Wal-Mart exerts tremendous control over its vendors,'' Anderson 
said after the news conference. 

 Trade unions have estimated that more than 800,000 people in Myanmar 
are conscripted with little or no pay as army porters or workers in 
construction and agriculture and live in slave-like conditions. The 
Myanmar government denied this, saying there is no forced labour in 
the country. 



July 16, 2000

By Aung San Suu Kyi

Foreign visitors and journalists often ask what the National League 
for Democracy intends to do about the political "stalemate" in Burma 
today. I sometimes explain that just because the game has not yet 
reached checkmate, it should not be seen as stalemate: Moves are 
being made that may not always be discernible to observers.

On reflection the chess metaphor is not a felicitous one. What we are 
aiming at is a negotiated settlement acceptable to major political 
forces in our country. Trying to checkmate a protagonist into 
immobility--or nonexistence--will not promote a peaceful settlement. 
Most likely, the State Peace and Development Council (the erstwhile 
State Law and Order Restoration Council) does not share our point of 
view. Public statements made by members of the military regime 
suggest that the kind of peace they deem perfect would entail the 
disappearance of the democratic opposition, checkmate in the form of 
a final, zero-sum solution.

 Thesaurus entries under "annihilate," "crush" or "extinguish" best 
describe the declared intentions of the military regime toward the 
National League for Democracy. Members and supporters of the league 
are persecuted with brutal consistency; arbitrary arrests and 
imprisonment are daily fare; the authorities organize meetings that 
citizens are forced to attend, where they are forced to denounce 
elected members of Parliament or call for the dissolution of the 
National League for Democracy; and the state media make daily 
announcements of the number of members who have supposedly resigned 
from our party. (Many have remarked that the seemingly endless 
resignations must signify an infinitely large membership.)

 The obsessive need of the regime to try to destroy the National 
League for Democracy is evidence of the support we enjoy and only 
strengthens our resolve. We are committed to nonviolent political 
activities that will lay a foundation for a healthy democratic state, 
and we take all possible measures to establish the necessity for the 
rule of law. It is in this spirit that we have notified the State 
Peace and Development Council and the Multi Party Election Commission 
of our intention to file suits against them in accordance with the 
Specific Relief Act, although we are aware of the stranglehold that 
the military junta has on Burma's judicial processes.

 The National League for Democracy believes that national problems 
must and will be resolved through political negotiations, and we are 
always ready to accept reasonable compromises. Over the past few 
years we have agreed to limited forms of dialogue as a prelude to 
full-fledged political talks, but the military regime did not 
respond. The appointment of a citizen from a member country of the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations as the United Nations 
secretary general's special envoy has raised hopes that a way might 
be found to a peaceful transition to democracy in Burma. However, the 
success of the special envoy's mission depends on cooperation from 
forces within the country as well as committed action on the part of 
other nations and multilateral organizations.

 During the 12 years of struggle for democracy, which was in fact 
promised by the military regime when it seized power in 1988, Burma 
has deteriorated economically and socially. Although the junta 
created some openings for private enterprise and foreign investment, 
administrative and political practices inimical to a healthy society 
and failure to adopt a viable macroeconomic policy have pushed the 
country into an economic and social morass. The World Bank report 
drawn up last year, recent International Labor Organization actions 
and the latest observations of the World Health Organization provide 
incontrovertible evidence that lack of good governance is at the root 
of our country's troubles. This fact must be recognized by those who 
have concerns about drug production and trafficking, the spread of 
HIV, political refugees, illegal economic migrants, humanitarian 
needs and other problems.

 Unless determined steps are taken to effect political change that 
will lead to an accountable and transparent administration--a basic 
requirement for good governance--measures aimed at economic or 
humanitarian relief will merely be of a stopgap nature, too easily 
rendered null and void at the whim of the authorities or swept away 
by administrative inefficiency and social instability.

 The writer is general secretary of the National League for Democracy 
and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.



July 16, 2000

 IF JUSTICE and right always triumphed, the author of an opinion 
piece on the facing page, Aung San Suu Kyi, would be one of the 
world's best-known leaders. As head of her country's National League 
for Democracy, she won an astounding 80 percent victory the one time 
competitive elections were held in her southeast Asian nation of 
Burma. But a handful of corrupt generals in her country refused to 
acknowledge their compatriots' wishes in 1990 and have retained 
dictatorial power ever since. Aung San Suu Kyi, who lives under house 
arrest and with many of her supporters in prison, managed with 
difficulty to transmit her article.

 What is remarkable about it, under the circumstances, is her 
moderation. Writing with the confidence of a leader who knows she 
enjoys popular support, Aung San Suu Kyi continues to call for 
nonviolence from her supporters and dialogue with her tormentors. 
Unfortunately, her tolerance is not reciprocated. The junta, which 
operates with the bullying insecurity of leaders who know they are 
not popular, has pressured and terrorized some 50,000 supporters into 
renouncing the National League for Democracy. Last week the regime 
threatened to ban the organization altogether. It routinely press-
gangs impoverished peasants into forced and dangerous labor, 
according to the International Labor Organization. It seeks comfort 
among a few like-minded regimes around the world: Slobodan Milosevic 
in Serbia, the Politburo ofBeijing.

 The results, for the 48 million or so Burmese, have been disastrous. 
The country ranks 190th among 191 nations in health services, 
according to a recent World Health Organization report. Despite ample 
natural resources and what was once an educated population, the 
nation sinks ever deeper into poverty, as the junta--again out of 
fear of its own people--has kept its universities shuttered. The few 
multinationals who do business in Burma, such as Unocal of the United 
States and Total of France, succeed only in enriching themselves and 
the corrupt leadership.

 Burma continues to be an embarrassment to its would-be defenders: to 
its Association of Southeast Asian Nation neighbors, who admitted the 
country into their organization in hopes of moderating the junta's 
repression and encouragement of drug dealing; and to Japan, which 
lacked the principle recently to join in a 257 to 41 vote censuring 
Burma's modern-day practice of slavery. When leaders of the top 
industrialized nations meet in Japan this week, and when ASEAN 
leaders gather a few days later in Thailand, they should speak out on 
behalf of the beleaguered National League for Democracy and its 
courageous chief.



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