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BurmaNet News: October 2, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: October 2, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2000 07:58:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
_________October 2, 2000 Issue # 1630__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*The Sunday Times: Briton beaten over peace sign in cell
*Rohingya National Army: RNA attacked Burmese soldiers
*AP: Swiss announce sanctions on Afghanistan and Myanmar
*Mizzima: Burmese exiled government to be reformed
*The Nation: Students' year of living quietly
*CHRO: Nowhere to Go: Hundreds of Chin Refugees Trapped in the Island of
*AP: Hong Kong jade buyers expected to dominate Myanmar gem sale
*Bangkok Post: Burma must listen to Asean appeal
*The Statesman Newspaper (New Delhi): Suu Kyi?s strategy deepens junta?s
*FCCT Bulletin: Landmine Monitor 2000: Burma and Thailand
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
The Sunday Times: Briton beaten over peace sign in cell
October 1 2000 FAR EAST
THE British human rights campaigner who was sentenced to 17 years in a
Burmese prison for handing out pro-democracy leaflets has described how
he was severely beaten by his guards last weekend for writing "peace" on
the wall of his rat-infested cell.
James Mawdsley, 27, from London, dipped his finger in water and used it
to draw the word metta - peace - and a Christian cross. As the letters
faded, the guards burst in and blows began to rain down.
By the time they left, Mawdsley was lying face down on the floor,
covered in blood. His nose was badly broken and he had two black eyes.
The assault in Keng Tung, 400 miles northeast of Rangoon, the capital,
was the culmination of three days of mistreatment endured by Mawdsley,
who was jailed in August 1999 for distributing "anti-government
literature" and entering the country without a visa, charges he denies.
He is a passionate supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the
opposition National League for Democracy, who won a landslide victory in
1990 elections but has never been allowed to govern.
Mawdsley told a British diplomat who visited last week that he had been
beaten three times on successive days and handcuffed for 24 hours after
protesting that he had spent more than a year in solitary confinement.
His sleep was also interrupted repeatedly by loud- speakers placed
outside his cell.
Last Sunday, after the third assault, a prison officer came to
apologise. "He said I could have whatever I wanted if I said it was an
accident," Mawdsley told Karen Williams, the British vice-consul. "Of
course, I refused."
The guards had then started boiling his food, adding so much salt that
it was virtually inedible. Mawdsley claimed he could also taste
Williams said his resolve appeared unbroken despite his ordeal. "It was
a shock to see how badly he was beaten up, but otherwise he was in
excellent spirits," she said. "He's very strong. He's totally committed
to the plight of the Burmese."
Mawdsley was forced to talk to her from inside a glass box built for him
in the corner of the jail's main interview room. He said his first
beating came at 9.30am on September 21. Angry that he had been denied a
radio and contact with fellow prisoners, he wrote "solitary confinement
is inhumane" and "release all political prisoners" on the walls. Then he
rattled the door of his cell.
Less than a minute later, about 15 guards and other men burst in, he
said. Five were armed with 3ft wooden clubs, one of which was bound with
"Before a word was spoken, one of them laid into me," he said. "I stayed
on my feet. I was only a bit sore afterwards, but I wondered briefly
whether my left arm was broken."
The next day, undeterred, he wrote more messages on the wall and again
banged on his door. Again, he was beaten. The guards also confiscated
his books and set up loudspeakers, which began blaring music at 4am.
The third attack was the most damaging. "I was hit on the head, then
smashed forward on the face," Mawdsley said. "There was a lot of blood
but they kept beating me."
Ten minutes later a medical orderly brought a bucket of water so he
could clean himself up. He was denied his hour of daily exercise and
The Foreign Office has complained to Burma over what Robin Cook, the
foreign secretary, called an "outrageous violation of his human rights".
This weekend the United Nations Commission on Human Rights added its
voice. The UN's working group on arbitrary detention told the Burmese
government that Mawdsley had been subjected to 10 violations of
international law. Its intervention came after an appeal organised by
the Jubilee Campaign, a British group working for his release.
The British embassy is helping to organise a "final special appeal"
against Mawdsley's conviction. Two earlier appeals have been rejected.
His mother, Diana Mawdsley, a nurse from Durham who last saw him in
November - travelled to Keng Tung last month for a visit. However, her
son was unwilling to meet her unless the prison authorities allowed him
to leave the glass box. They refused.
After hearing of the beating, she said she was prepared to meet him
"under whatever terms". But her visa runs out on Tuesday and it was not
clear yesterday whether the regime would extend it.
A recent intensification of the Burmese government's campaign against
Suu Kyi has added to her fears. "I try to keep my tears to myself," she
said. "It's better to keep a bit of starch on the upper lip. I'm not at
all confident any longer about James's release."
Rohingya National Army: RNA attacked Burmese soldiers
Oct 1, 2000
At about 1050 hours, in the morning of 30 September 2000 (Saturday), a
section of Rohingya National Army (RNA), on patrol, attacked Burmese
soldiers at a place about 3 miles east of an enemy outpost, called
Bandoola camp, situated in NaSaKa area No.1, under Maungdaw township,
Arakan. 5 enemy soldiers were killed on the spot while 5 others injured
critically. There is no loss and casualty on the side of the RNA.
Rohingya National Army (RNA)
AP: Swiss announce sanctions on Afghanistan and Myanmar
October 2, 2000
BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ The Swiss government said Monday it was
imposing sanctions on the regimes of Afghanistan and Myanmar, in line
with decisions by the United Nations and the European Union.
Bank accounts belonging to members of the two regimes will be frozen
and there will be a ban on arms exports, the foreign ministry announced.
The measures against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan take their lead
from the United Nations, which imposed sanctions following the Taliban's
refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden, who is suspected of masterminding
the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The Swiss move will result in the freezing of bank accounts belonging
to the regime and to a list of people associated with it, as well as a
ban on Taliban aircraft entering Swiss airspace. Exports of arms to
Afghanistan will also be banned.
At the same time, Switzerland announced it was following the European
Union in extending and clarifying sanctions against the government of
Myanmar, also known as Burma, which have been in place since 1996.
As well as freezing bank accounts, Switzerland will expel all military
personnel attached to Myanmar's diplomatic missions. There will be a
formal arms embargo, and all non-humanitarian aid will be suspended.
``Switzerland has been critical of Myanmar for years, especially within
the U.N. Human Rights Commission and the International Labor
Organization, by supporting resolutions calling for an improvement in
human rights and the end to forced labor,'' the foreign ministry said in
Neutral Switzerland is not a member of the United Nations or of the
15-nation European Union, but it usually takes their lead in matters
such as sanctions against other countries.
Mizzima: Burmese exiled government to be reformed
October 2, 2000
Dublin, Ireland, October 2, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
Thorough self-analysis and major changes are likely to take place for
the Burmese government in exile during its six-day long organizational
meeting which starts today in Ireland. The National Coalition Government
of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), which was formed ten years ago with a
group of elected parliamentarians from Burma in a Thai-Burma border
area, is having its ôevery-five year regular meetingö at Dublin, capital
of Ireland from October 2 to 7.
The meeting, third time since its inception in December 1990, is jointly
held with the meeting of Members of Parliament Union (MPU) and
participated by all the ten Cabinet ministers including its Prime
Minister Dr. Sein Win and 20 parliamentarians from MPU.
According to Dr. Tint Swe, current South Asia affairs minister in the
exiled government, the MPU meeting will elect the new Prime Minister for
the exiled government and then the new Prime Minister will select the
ministers for his Cabinet.
To function as a Parliament in exile, the MPU will also elect a Speaker
and a Deputy Speaker among themselves. Sources say that the exiled
government is to be thoroughly reformed with major changes including the
ministers shake-up and induction of youth, students and women in
functioning of the exiled government.
In recent years, there has been growing criticism among the Burmese
activists in exile on the functioning and activities of the NCGUB, which
now has its headquarters in Washington, DC. The exiled government is
said to enjoy little support either among the exiles or democracy
activists inside Burma.
Editorial of August Issue of ôThe Irrwaddyö, a popular and respected
independent magazine covering Burma and Asia, criticized the NCGUB for
its inefficiency, lack of transparency and accountability within and
outside the organization. ôIt is time for the NCGUB and its associates
to embrace û or at least stop opposing û ideas proposed by people
outside of their narrow cliqueö, said the Editorial.
The Nation: Students' year of living quietly
Oct 1, 2000.
BY JEERAPORN CHAISRI
KNOWN for their vocal presence in the Kingdom, Burmese student activists
have been unusually quiet over the past year.
Previously, they could be seen regularly rallying in front of the
Burmese embassy or the United Nations office to mark Aung San Suu Kyi's
birthday or Burma's national day.
But many dissident students have been lying low since a group of Burmese
from the Maneeloy holding centre took 38 people hostage at the embassy
in Bangkok last October - an incident that triggered a Thai clampdown on
the students' activities.
Even the latest harassment of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was physically
forced to return home recently after being prevented from travelling to
a party meeting, has not managed to get Burmese students out onto the
streets of Bangkok.
Have they given up hope for democracy? Soe Aung, foreign affairs
director of the All Burma Students Democratic Front, said the group's
activities continue as usual and nothing has changed.
However, student networks in Burma have recently been meeting near the
Thai-Burma border to seek strategies for a new direction.
"We will not use violent means to fight for democracy," she said,
referring to the embassy incident and an armed hostage-taking at the
Ratchaburi regional hospital by God's Army rebels in January.
"We just want [Burma's military] to talk to the National League of
Democracy's leader. We will never give up," Soe Aung said.
Debbie Stothard, co-ordinator of the Alternative Asean Network on Burma,
said the reason many of the Burmese students' goals cannot be
accomplished is that activists are arrested before they even carry out
The restrictions on their freedom by Thai authorities have been
especially severe since last October.
At Maneeloy, Burmese students cannot conduct political activities
without running the risk of being sent to the Immigration Detention
Thai authorities, on the other hand, say their job has become more
difficult since last October, arguing they have had to work harder to
maintain national security and peace.
They say they would like to see the Burmese students either return home
voluntarily or migrate to a third country.
A high-ranking police officer said the authorities do not strictly
follow all of the activities of the Burmese students but focus on the
more violent student groups stationed along the border.
In addition, he said, most Burmese students see a better future in a
third country and do not want to be considered a political risk when
they are screened.
Preecha Raungchan, deputy governor of Ratchaburi province and supervisor
of the Maneeloy centre, said refugees are allowed to conduct any
activity except organise politically. Those who do, he said, will be
detained at the Immigration Detention Centre.
"We have never sent anyone to jail for no reason. If they broke the
rules, they deserved it. Sometimes we can compromise, but they should
understand that Thailand can not be used as a stage to fight for
democracy in Burma," said Preecha.
At the moment, fewer than 1,300 refugees live in the camp and all have
applied for third country asylum. On October 24, about 50 Burmese will
be sent to New Zealand.
The camp might close down soon afterward, if the government and United
Nations High Commission for Refugees continue their policy of sending
student refugees to a third country.
CHRO: Nowhere to Go: Hundreds of Chin Refugees Trapped in the Island of
September 30, 2000
Chin Human Rights Organization CHRO had learned that about three
hundreds Chins are taking refuge in Guam, a small island in the Pacific
Ocean which is a United States territory. They all claimed that they
fled from the merciless persecution of the ruling Burmese military
regime State Peace and Development Council SPDC in their homeland.
The refugees include men, women and have various backgrounds such as
Church leaders, politicians, doctors, teachers, lawyers, traders,
students and farmers. They are seeking refugee status in United States
and waiting to be determined their case by the United States
Immigration and Naturalisation Service US INS.
Some of the refugees are charged with illegal entry and detained by the
authority of Guam on their arrival. Many more are surviving in the
island with the help of local Churches and Chin communities around the
Last week, one of the refugees Mr. K ... ( name omitted ) who is under
detention in Guam had called CHRO office in Ottawa to explain the
situation of Chin refugees in the island.
" I am lucky among the refugees because I am in detention and I do not
need to worry for food and shelter. But those who are surviving in the
island have problems for their survival, they are facing shortage of
food, shelter and even clothing" he said.
Mr. K....was Church Council Chairman of Thantlang Baptist Church which
have more than 3000 members and the biggest church in Thantlang
township, Chin State. He was accused of supporting Chin National Front
CNF and arrested twice by the military regime. Chin National Front CNF
is an armed resistant party fighting against the ruling Burmese
military regime to restore democracy and self determination.
Mr. K ... said that " we have nowhere to go, we faced rampant human
rights violations in our own home. We canÆt even conduct worship
service without their ( the military authority ) permission. The people
are living in constant fear of the Military Intelligence Service MIS.
Even if we fled to neighbouring countries there is still no safety. We
could be arrested at any time and send back to Burma".
Last month Indian authority had arrested hundreds of Chin refugees in
Mizoram State and deported to Burma.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
AP: Hong Kong jade buyers expected to dominate Myanmar gem sale
Oct 2, 2000
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Merchants from Hong Kong are expected to make up
the biggest group of buyers when more than dlrs 38 million worth of
gems, jade and jewelry go on sale at Myanmar's mid-year gems emporium in
Yangon this week, Deputy Minister of Mines Myint Thein said Monday.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, produces some of the finest quality jade,
rubies, sapphires and pearls in the world.
Gems emporiums have been held annually since 1964, with mid-year sales
instituted just a few years ago, when the government liberalized the
economy and allowed private dealers to participate.
More than 400 gem dealers from 13 countries _ Australia, Austria,
China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea,
Thailand, the United States and Vietnam _ are expected to attend the
emporium, which will run from Oct. 3 to 10, Myint Thein said.
The largest contingent of merchants, more than 260, will come from Hong
Kong, whose buyers usually dominate the jade auction, he told reporters
at a preview of the sale.
The second and third largest groups of buyers are expected to come from
China and Thailand.
Myint Thein said that more than dlrs 32 million worth of gems and jade
will be sold by auction and some dlrs 4.3 million in gems, jade and
pearl will be sold by tender.
Another dlrs 1.3 million worth of gems, jewelry and jade carvings will
be sold at fixed prices, he said.
The minister said that more than 95 percent of the merchandise to be
sold belongs to private enterprises, which mine jade and gemstones under
The government takes a 10 percent commission on sales at the emporium
by private dealers.
One of the 1500 lots of jade to be sold at the emporium will be a 1.5
ton jade boulder with dlrs 2 million floor price.
Bangkok Post: Burma must listen to Asean appeal
(Editorial), October 1, 2000
Why won't Burmese leaders listen? This is the mystery behind the
unfolding tragedy and senseless conflict that is dragging the country
into economic ruin, political violence and international disrepute. The
dictatorship hears and responds angrily to every word of criticism, from
this column to the US secretary of state. But it refuses to hear appeals
from neighbours and would-be friends. The junta cannot hear the voices
of loyal Burmese eager to work to lift their country.
Last week, hundreds of Burmese police again rushed to surround and seize
the petite woman who threatens to make Burma into a respectable nation
again. This time, Aung San Suu Kyi was trying to take a train up
country, specifically to Mandalay. That, thundered the military council,
threatened the state.
Earlier this month, Mrs Suu Kyi got in her car to try to drive a few
kilometres south of Rangoon-roughly equivalent to a drive to Samut
Prakan from Bangkok. Again, the battalions of police, secret police and
troops rushed to block this "sinister" trip. Again, the dictatorship
alleged that Mrs Suu Kyi was threatening stability in Burma and must be
prevented. And in the past five days, hundreds of security agents have
ensured the Nobel Prize winner could not publicly celebrate the 12th
anniversary of her political party.
The consuming paranoia with Mrs Suu Kyi is not the cause of Burma's
problems, but a symptom. The dictators refuse to take any views into
account but their own. It is 10 years since Burmese voters told the
military that they preferred to have a civilian regime. Historic
elections returned Mrs Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy by an
overwhelming majority. That did not meet the military's views, so the
election was ignored.
Burma has the nastiest mouth of any regional government, an unpleasant
fact alluded to last week by our own Deputy Foreign Minister. M.R.
Sukhumbhand Paribatra was visiting Washington when the subject came up.
Thailand and Asean, he noted, have only sweet words to use in dealing
with the dictatorship. Thai policy has consistently been to deal with
neighbours with words. One should never use a big stick with neighbours,
Those sweet words are fine, and true. The problem is that Burma has not
been amenable in any manner to such tactics. Thai officials have tried
countless times to negotiate serious problems with Rangoon, both
bilateral and regional. So long as Burma gets what it wants, there is
not problem. But when there is a difference of opinion, Burma only turns
When Thai authorities freed the Burmese hostages and embassy without a
casualty, Burma cancelled economic contracts and criticised Thailand.
When Thai officials tried to suggest that Asean could help to mediate
the dispute that Burmese dictators have with Mrs Suu Kyi, the cries of
"meddling" were loud. Burma's response to numerous Thai requests for
help against Burma-based drug dealers has been particularly nasty. The
head of the military junta embraced the head of the amphetamines cartel
It is time for Burma to listen to offers of help. How Burma develops is
the affair of its citizens. But the point is that all citizens should
have a voice. At the moment, patriotic and well-meaning Burmese are
jailed, tortured or put under house arrest for making suggestions of
change. That includes Mrs Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy supporters. It
also includes thousands of other concerned Burmese.
It is Asean's business how Burma develops its international affairs. The
regional group has a mechanism to address egregious behaviour-such as
threatening security by supporting drug trafficking. It is up to Vietnam
to put that mechanism into action. But all Asean members should press
Burma to listen to reason.
The Statesman Newspaper (New Delhi): Suu Kyi?s strategy deepens junta?s
Dated October 1, 2000)
There is no let-up in the attack unleashed by MyanmarÆs military junta
ùironically named the State Peace and Development Council ù on Aung San
Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy. After her nine-day
stand-off with the military in a Yangon suburb about a month ago,
followed by her being barred from travelling to Mandalay, SPDC generals
have gone all out to stifle the 55-year-old Nobel laureate and her party
into silence. They have locked her up at her home and taken her key
party aides into protective custody and also ôtemporarilyö closed down
her party headquarters so that observance of NLDÆs 12th anniversary can
be stalled. These are signs of desperation; generals are nervous that
the irrepressible pro-democracy leader is working hard to arouse the 48
million Myanmarese people. In a renewed challenge, she and her party are
busy drafting a national constitution and are firm in their resolve to
continue with the two-year exercise of a proxy parliament. Her approach
of moderation and dialogue in ending the stand-off has not been
reciprocated by her tormentors who are threatening to ban the NLD
altogether. No less a worry is the remark of the Thai foreign minister
that Asean was having a ôserious image problemö because of continuing
political unrest in Myanmar.
The concern of the generals is understandable for other reasons too.
Despite their ruthless attempts to ôcrushö Suu Kyi and her
followers, they have not been able to snuff out resistance. The
attempt to destroy the NLD by forced resignations has only helped to
further strengthen the resolve of both Suu Kyi and her supporters. Also
Suu Kyi has timed her push when signs of disharmony are clearly visible
within the junta. The recent dismissal of Brig-Gen Zaw Tun, the deputy
minister for national development, for openly debunking the juntaÆs
claim of higher economic growth and criticising the inconsistency in the
trade policy have lent credence to Suu KyiÆs contention that Myanmar
under the junta has deteriorated both economically and socially and that
serious differences exist within the junta over key issues. One of the
brightest and articulate officers Zaw Tun blamed those holding
responsible posts in the junta for plummeting investment. The generals
manning key ministries ôdid not have proper awarenessö. In fact, his
criticism justified Suu KyiÆs point that government practices inimical
to a healthy society and failure to adopt sound macroeconomic policies
have pushed the country into an economic and social morass. What Zaw Tun
hinted at was that lack of good governance was at the root of MyanmarÆs
troubles; a point which has been repeatedly harped upon by Suu Kyi. This
suggests that even a section of the junta concurs with her views. It is
the fear of challenge from within that is presently haunting the
warlords. Any change that leads to accountable governance is still
anathema to the SPDC generals.
_____________________ OTHER ______________________
FCCT Bulletin: Landmine Monitor 2000: Burma and Thailand
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand
The BULLETIN September 29 2000 - Number 182
Wednesday October 11, 2000 (7pm) Dinner Bt280 members; Bt400
non-members; Bt250 non-members entry only. Panel discussion 8pm.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines Thailand and Burma/Myanmar
Landmine Monitor researchers will hold a press conference to discuss
their respective reports. Panelist will include: two landmine survivors
from Thailand and the Thai-Burma border; Nittaya Krisananont,
researcher, Thailand Campaign to Ban Landmines; Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan,
researcher, Landmine Monitor Burma/Myanmar; and a representative from
the Thailand Mine Action Center.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), co-winner of the
1997 Nobel Peace Prize, has established an unprecedented initiative to
monitor implementation of and compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
The ICBL's 1,100-page Landmine Monitor Report 2000: Toward a Mine-Free
World, released 7 September 2000, provides new details on mine use,
production, trade, stockpiling, demining and mine victim assistance in
every country of the world. The Landmine Monitor contains reports on
over 100 countries, including Thailand and Burma/Myanmar.
In Burma, the Landmine Monitor reports that the Burmese Army is one of
only 3 government military forces in Asia alleged to have used
anti-personnel landmines during the past year, and the only one in
ASEAN. In January of 2000 the Committee Representing the People's
Parliament stated that they would "recommend to the People's Parliament,
when it is convened, as a matter of immediate national concern,
accession to the Convention [Mine Ban Treaty].
The Thailand Campaign to Ban Landmines (TCBL) has released the Thailand
report and a precis of the report in Thai. Copies will be available.
Copies of the Landmine Monitor report for Burma/Myanmar in both English
and Burmese will also be available.
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