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BurmaNet News: October 3, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
_________October 3, 2000   Issue # 1631__________

*AsiaWeek: Truth and Lies in Burma
*SHRF: Forced Labour and Looting of Temples and Monasteries
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta Continues To flaunt ILO

*AFP: Myanmar says tougher Swiss sanctions will hinder democracy 
*AFP: Britain accuses Myanmar junta of lying over beating of jailed 
*AFP: Myanmar dismisses Britain's fury over jailed pro-democracy 
*Czech Press: One Year After the Burmese Embassy Siege
*ILWU: Workers of the world stand up for Burmese rights

*Myanmar Times (SPDC): USDA looks to create wealth through vast "Human 
*Asahi Evening News: POV?It?s time for Tokyo to tighten the screws on 

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AsiaWeek: Truth and Lies in Burma 

[From the Asiaweek website?s ?From Our Correspondent? column.  Web 
version.  See

The junta lives in a world of self-delusion 


Asia Week, October 2, 2000
Web posted at 7:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 7:30 a.m. EDT 

I first met Aung San Suu Kyi a few days after the bloody coup of 
September 18, 1988, that ensconced the State Law and Order Restoration 
Council (SLORC). Looking tired and drawn after six weeks that had pulled 
her from total obscurity to global prominence, she was sitting stiffly 
in the somber study at 54, University Avenue, the home of her ailing 
mother, who lay upstairs in terminal decline.  

I apologized for asking a "sensitive question", but wanted to know if 
she felt her future lay in Burma or England, the country where she had 
resided with her family for much of her adult life. Suu Kyi bristled 
visibly, and told me in no uncertain terms that she had always made it 
perfectly clear she would return home to Burma when her country needed 
her. It was my first glimpse of her steely resolve, powerful sense of 
destiny and capacity for elegant bluntness. The truth, as we have since 
discovered, was that she was back in Burma for the duration -- to pursue 
at whatever cost a vision tightly bound to the dream her father, 
pre-independence hero General Aung San, had not lived to realize. "And 
why is that such a sensitive question?" she shot back at me.  

I shifted uncomfortably since one of the more obvious reasons was 
sitting alongside -- her husband, Michael Aris, an Oxford academic. He 
was quite impassive as the interview progressed, but the truth must have 
pained him greatly. The prospect of a normal married life had evaporated 
for the foreseeable future, possibly forever. Not then or at any point 
after in our encounter did Suu Kyi defer to Aris. Nobody then could have 
predicted the long years of cruelly enforced separation the couple and 
their two sons would endure as Suu Kyi doggedly clung to her vision of 
what was true and best for her homeland. When Aris died prematurely last 
year, he had wickedly been denied the chance of a last visit with his 
wife. This was purportedly on compassionate grounds. The junta argued, 
totally disingenuously, that he was too sick to travel and that medical 
facilities in Rangoon were inadequate.  

Even some members of Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, 
have faulted her for being too unyielding and stubborn in her dealings 
with the junta. In response, she has frequently pointed out that the 
generals are themselves far from reasonable. And in cynically rebuffing 
the wishes of a dying man, they proved she was telling the truth. 
Reasonable people with any sense of decency would never resort to such 
emotional blackmail.  

In recent weeks, Suu Kyi has been back doing what she does best: 
attracting international attention by highlighting simple truths. Though 
released from house arrest in 1995, she is many ways still a prisoner. 
Once again, she attempted to exercise some freedom of movement and 
travel beyond the confines of the capital. The first standoff on the 
outskirts of Rangoon was timed perfectly to embarrass the junta at the 
time of the United Nations' Millennium Summit. It worked.  

After almost a week Suu Kyi and her supporters were roughly bundled back 
to town. Her security was at risk if she proceeded, contended the same 
junta that renamed itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) 
in 1997 because "Law and Order" had been pretty much "restored". Later 
in September, Suu Kyi was again prevented from traveling, this time by 
train to Mandalay. No tickets were available. She'll know to book next 
time. On an earlier occasion, her carriage was simply uncoupled and she 
was left on the platform.  

The junta claims that Suu Kyi gives them no credit for their many 
achievements and that she consistently sours the outside world's opinion 
of a nation shamelessly ravaged by British colonialists. The truth is 
that the British departed more than 50 years ago -- well before they 
left a number of other countries in the region that have gone from 
strength to strength. For most of the time since independence, Burma has 
willfully isolated itself from any normal foreign relations, never mind 
"interference". This is the country that even saw fit to resign from the 
non-aligned movement.  

If, as the junta claims, it has pacified and stabilized most of the 
country, how is it that an allegedly free citizen cannot make a trip to 
Mandalay and other areas not particularly noted for ethnic unrest? 
Arguably, of all the population centers in Burma, Mandalay has seen the 
most dramatic changes in the past decade. It now even boasts an airport 
with one of the largest runways in the world. If this and other 
developments are genuinely achievements, wouldn't it make more sense for 
the generals to let Suu Kyi actually see them? What "truths" need they 
hide from her when they can showcase successes?  

But the "truth" in Burma doesn't seem to resemble the truth in most 
other parts of the world. Would it be untrue to say that letting in Aris 
for a last compassionate visit could have done the junta's stock nothing 
but good? Would it be untrue to say that Suu Kyi touring the countryside 
during the U.N. summit would have been interpreted as a sign of 
normalization and mellowing? Would not the same hold true for an overdue 
fact-finding visit to Mandalay?  

Burma may be ready for the truth, but apparently not yet the generals. 
Recently, the junta has been trying to convince the world that James 
Mawdsley, a young British-Australian held in solitary confinement in 
jail at Kengtung near the Thai border, blackened both his eyes and broke 
his own nose with his handcuffs during a scuffle with prison guards. 
Nobody believed similarly nonsensical explanations in the beating of 
Malaysia's former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Indeed, there is 
very real cause for concern about Mawdsley, given what he now knows 
firsthand of the true conditions inside Burmese prisons.  

The last comparable case was that of James Leander 'Leo' Nicols in 1996. 
Nicols was a de facto honorary consul to various Scandinavian countries 
and a supporter of Suu Kyi. A diabetic, he was imprisoned for owning an 
unregistered fax machine. After relentless interrogation, he died having 
been denied appropriate food and medicine. A senior government spokesman 
claimed he was a victim of too many "fatty foods" -- not normally a 
complaint made about the cuisine at Rangoon's infamous Insein Jail. In 
fact, a brazen lie.
Surprisingly, the biggest recent casualty in the SPDC's battle with the 
truth has been one of its own brighter rising stars. At a business 
seminar in July, the deputy minister of national planning and 
development, Brigadier General Zaw Tun, spoke with a candor possibly 
unprecedented in a serving officer since General Ne Win staged his coup 
in 1962. Among many topics covered during a three-hour talk, he spoke of 
his superiors' fixation with a possible currency crisis (that already 
exists), inflated growth figures, failure to develop a free-market 
economy, and the counter-productive propaganda on state television. 
"Some who are holding responsibilities in the country lack proper 
awareness," he tactfully confided to his audience.  

Zaw Tun was promptly dismissed for having the temerity to suggest the 
generals might be deluding themselves. His frankness, however unwelcome 
among the top brass, is actually a breath of fresh air. It proves that 
there are members of the widely reviled Burmese military establishment 
who at least recognize the truth -- even if they dare not speak it.  

For Suu Kyi, who has never been afraid of speaking the truth as she sees 
it, there may be some cause for hope here. Even if they do not agree 
with much of what she has to say, it's actually quite easy for senior 
figures in the military to halt the flow of lies. The real challenge is 
for the two feuding parties to start discovering which truths they may 
actually be able to agree upon. Only then can they get beyond emotions 
and start trading facts instead of vitriole. Fact No. 1: it's never too 
late to start dealing with the truth.  


SHRF: Forced Labour and Looting of Temples and Monasteries

Shan Human Rights Foundation

         On 27.7.00, SPDC troops from IB246 dismantled several temples 
and  monasteries in the forced relocation areas in Kun-Hing township and 
took  away the tin roofs and the lumber.

         On the day of the incident, about 80 SPDC troops from IB246 led 
by  Capt. Min Oo forcibly recruited 54 young men, aged between 20-35, 
and 14  trucks in Kun-Hing town and drove them to Wan Lao tract where 
there were  many deserted villages that had been forcibly relocated to 
other places in  1996-97.

         The troops then forced the 54 men to dismantle deserted temples 
 and monasteries in 6 deserted villages in Wan Lao tract and trucked the 
 lumber and tin sheets roofing back to IB246 military base. The 54 
workers  and the 14 trucks received no pay whatsoever.

         Later, on 4.8.00, the same troops again forcibly took some 
workers  and trucks in Kun-Hing town and went to deserted villages in Ho 
Yaan tract  that had also been forcibly relocated a few years ago.
         The troops disassembled deserted temples and monasteries in the 
 following 6 relocated villages and trucked away the lumber and the tin  
sheet roofing to the IB246 military base.

         On 10.8.00, the same troops again conscripted 87 workers from  
Kun-Hing town and forced them to build a big tent-like building to house 
 the lumber and tin sheets roofing from the dismantled monasteries in 
the  base of IB246.


         On 22.7.00, Akha villagers of Phaa Khaao village in Murng-Paeng 
 township were forcibly taken by SPDC troops to serve the military 
without pay.          

On that day, a column of about 60 SPDC troops from IB245  surrounded 
Phaa Khaao village in Si Paw tract, Murng-Paeng township, and  forcibly 
took 13 Akha villagers to serve as porters for the military.          On 
the same day, the villagers were forced to carry heavy  baggages, the 
contents of which they did not know, and set off towards  Murng Sen and 
Murng In tracts in Kaeng-Tung township.

         The troops went through several villages and tracts for 3 days  
until they reached Murng-Kok village in Murng-Sart township where they  
released the porters without paying them anything.

         During those 3 days, the troops forced the villagers of the  
villages they were passing through to cook meals for them to eat  
immediately as well as put into packages for them to take away to eat on 
 the way.

         The porters, however, only received a very small amount of food 
 per day and were scolded, kicked and beaten along the way when they 
slowed  down due to hunger and weakness.

         On 23-24.8.00, SPDC troops from LIB360 conscripted 21 villagers 
in  Pet Kaang tract, Murng-Paeng township, to serve as forced and unpaid 
 porters for the military.
         A column of about 60 SPDC troops from LIB360 came through Pet  
Kaang village tract and seized 6 villagers from Kung Sa village, 9  
villagers from Wan Tong village and 6 villagers from Nawng Kaa village.  
        The villagers, 21 in all, were taken to Tong Ta village where 
they  were forced to carry heavy loads and headed towards Murng Sen and 
Murng In  tracts.

         Most of the things the porters had to carry were dried food,  
ammunition and clothes of the soldiers. Though they had dried food with  
them, the troops did not eat it, but forced the villagers of the 
villages  where they stopped for meals to cook and provide food for them 
and the porters.          The troops went through several villages and 
tracts and, after 4  days of strenuous journeying, they released the 21 
porters at Wan Mawn  village in Nam In tract without giving them 

         All the porters were suffering from severe shoulder wounds at 
the  time of their release and they did not know the purpose of the 
troops and  where they were going to.


 On 19.8.00, SPDC troops of IB244 forced the villagers of Wan Lawng  
village in Murng Zaem tract, Kaeng-Tung township, to fix and renovate 
the  2-furlong-long driveway between the main road and their base.       

According to the local people, the SPDC troops had already forced  
people from several villages in Murng Zaem tract many times to take 
turns  and build the driveway but it did not seem to be finished.        
  One person from each of the 27-28 houses in Wan Lawng village had  to 
get up early, prepare some food for midday meal and go to work from  
07:00 hrs in the morning until 17:00 hrs in the evening, stopping only a 
 short while around mid-day to eat the day meal.

         While the villagers were working, about 25 fully armed SPDC 
troops  from IB244 were always present, overseeing the work site and 
guarding the  villagers as if they were prisoners.

Since June 2000, SPDC troops of LIB327 have been forcing the  villagers 
of Kaeng Pin village in Murng-Khark township to grow an acre of  chilli 
for them.

         The villagers have to use a part of their cultivating land for 
it  and have to do the work from the beginning until the end of the 
cultivation  -- fencing, tilling, sowing, planting, weeding and up to 
harvesting of the  crop.

         In other areas such as Murng Nung tract and Nam Wok tract,  
villagers are also being forced to cultivate chilli, vegetables and  
cucumber farms for the military.

         Starting from 24.7.00, SPDC troops from LIB520 led by Capt. 
Kyaw  Win have conscripted 6 civilian trucks and 108 forced labourers in 
 Murng-Pan township and forced them to fix and clear the sides of the  
Murng-Pan - Larng-Khur main road.

         The labourers had to fill up cracks and potholes in the road 
with  stones, rocks and earth gathered by the civilian trucks, and clear 
the  bushes on both sides of the road, from Murng-Pan all the way up to  
Larng-Khur town.

         Starting from 27.7.00, SPDC troops from Company No.3 of IB99 
led  by Capt. Aung Phe had conscripted 5 civilian trucks and 163 forced  
labourers in Larng-Khur township and forced them to fix the main road 
and  clear the bushes on both sides of the road, from Larng-Khur up to 
Murng-Nai  town.

         Starting from 5.8.00, SPDC troops from Co. No.5 of IB248 led by 
 Capt. Saw Hpyu had conscripted 3 civilian trucks and 87 forced 
labourers in  Murng-Nai township and forced them to fix and clear the 
bushes on the sides  of the main road, from Murng-Nai all the way up to 
Nam-Zarng town. 

         Starting from 19.8.00, SPDC troops from Co. No.4 of IB225  
conscripted 8 civilian trucks and 120 forced labourers in Murng-Pan  
township and forced them to fix the road starting from the base of IB225 
at  Wan Naa village in Murng-Pan township. A new shift of trucks and 
labourers  would replace the old one every 15 days.

         All the forced labourers had to bring and use their own tools 
such  as hoes and spades in road fixing and their own knives to clear 
the  roadsides. They had to provide their own food and received no pay, 
no  matter how long they had to go for the forced labour.


Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta Continues To flaunt ILO

3 October 2000

No: 10-2

Reporter: Maihoong

Despite the International Labor Organization's warning on 14 June, 
Rangoon  has not let up their forced labor practices, reported S.H.A.N.  
correspondent from eastern Shan State on 26 September.

During August and September, local people in Mongton (opposite 
Chiangmai)  were summoned to set them in several tasks, such as 
construction of chicken  coops pigstys and Chinlong (Takraw) courts, 
digging latrine holes, mending  and constructing latrines, and pulling 
weeds in army's bean fields and corn  fields.

The reason people had to build chicken coops and pigstys for the army 
was,  as explained by the sources, because "they have no chickens and 
pigs to  feed the soldiers, and cannot afford money to buy them for the 
army's  consumption anymore." One viss (1.6 kilogram) of chicken costs 
K.600 (B.60)  and the same weight of pork K. 1,000 (B.100).

In addition, each household has been given the following long-standing  
fixed monthly duties:

1. Guarding roads               2 days and nights
2. Guarding army posts  2 days and nights
3. Portering                    7 days and nights
4. Working in the army's fields 2 days
5. Building fences, mending     1 days
6. Sanitation of army posts     1 days

Altogether 15 days per month.

For those who have motor-transports, it is required for them to stay in  
army posts 7 days each month in anticipation of emergencies. Each car 
owner  is also expected to provide a driver and fuel.

"It is the same in other townships," said a shopowner in Mongton. "ILO's 
 warning hasn't fazed the army one little bit."

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AFP: Myanmar says tougher Swiss sanctions will hinder democracy 

YANGON, Oct 3 (AFP) - Myanmar's military junta Tuesday scoffed at the 
toughened sanctions announced by Switzerland, saying they would hinder 
rather than hasten the cause of human rights and democracy. 

 "Myanmar regrets that Switzerland has decided to impose certain 
measures against (the country) like those adopted by the European 
Union," the foreign ministry said in a statement. 

 "At a time when an increasing number of international observers have 
come to acknowledge that the policy of sanctions is not working, this 
action by Switzerland will obstruct rather than hasten the process of 
promoting human rights and democracy in the nation." 

 The junta was reacting to the Swiss government's announcement on Monday 
that it would begin freezing funds held in the country by members of 
Myanmar's junta as well as banning the supply of materials which could 
be used for internal repression or terrorism. 

 Myanmar's junta has long been accused by human rights organizations of 
severe repression of those who show any signs of dissent. 

 The beefed-up sanctions bring Switzerland into line with measures taken 
by the European Union and the UN Security Council. 

 "The action will not have any great impact since there are no funds 
held by members of the Myanmar government in Switzerland and Myanmar has 
not brought items prohibited under the said decision in recent year," 
ministry added. 

 "Myanmar is not a recipient of any large-scale assistance from 
Switzerland," it said. 

 The tougher sanctions being adopted by Bern, which has already had a 
restrictive policy in place towards Myanmar since 1996, were implemented 
by the 15-member European bloc in April. 

 The Swiss government's decision to step-up sanctions comes against the 
backdrop of an apparent renewed campaign by the junta to crack down on 
the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). 

 Two weeks ago, Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders were escorted 
from Yangon's railway station by police after being barred from 
travelling to the northern city of Mandalay to investigate reported 
crackdowns on the party. At least 100 party supporters were rounded up 
and detained. 

 NLD deputy chairman Tin Oo is still being held at a military base 50 
kilometres (30 miles) north of Yangon while Aung San Suu Kyi and other 
NLD central executive committee members remain under de facto house 

 The NLD won a landslide general election victory in 1990, but the junta 
has never recognised the result. 


AFP: Britain accuses Myanmar junta of lying over beating of jailed 

LONDON, Oct 3 (AFP) - Britain has rejected as a "tissue of lies" a 
denial by Myanmar's junta that a British pro-democracy campaigner was 
badly beaten while in prison. 

 Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, junior minister in the Foreign 
Office, said the Myanmar ambassador to Britain was summoned on September 
27 to hear a protest over the alleged beating of James Mawdsley. 

 "I was met, I regret to tell you, by barefaced denial," she told the 
House of Lords on Monday. 
 "I was told that there had been no assault, that James Mawdsley had, 
while handcuffed, caused the injury himself. You will not be surprised 
to hear that I was not willing to accept that tissue of lies," she said. 

 Britain would continue to seek a "proper response," she said, adding 
that the treatment of Mawdsley was "a grave abuse of human rights and we 
will not tolerate it." 

 "Burma today is in a worse condition than ever before," she said. "Its 
people are abused. Its economy is on the ropes. Its international 
standing is at an all-time low. Time is running out for the regime. 

 "World opinion will not give up on Burma. For the generals to continue 
down the present blind alley is as risky as it is irresponsible." 

 Mawdsley, 28, has said he was badly beaten by guards at Keng Tung 
prison in northern Burma, where he has been held in solitary confinement 
since September 2, 1999. 

 A British vice-consul visited him last week and reported that he had 
suffered "two black eyes and a suspected broken nose." 

 Myanmar's junta last week denied that Mawdsley has been beaten and 
accused Britain of "making irresponsible remarks and groundless 
accusations merely to discredit the government of Myanmar." 

 Mawdsley, who has British and Australian nationality, is serving a 
17-year jail sentence after being arrested near the border with Thailand 
last year in possession of pamphlets denouncing Myanmar's military 

 The Yangon junta has resisted all attempts to force it to relinquish 
power to the National League for Democracy of Aung San Suu Kyi, which 
won 1990 elections. 


AFP: Myanmar dismisses Britain's fury over jailed pro-democracy activist 

YANGON, Oct 3 (AFP) - Myanmar's ruling military junta Tuesday dismissed 
Britain's accusations that a jailed British pro-democracy campaigner was 
badly beaten while in prison. 
 "The British government's recent negative remarks and irresponsible 
criticism on James Mawdsley's and Ms (Aung San) Suu Kyi's issues are 
quite self explanatory," Myanmar's foreign ministry said in a statement. 

 They could be put down to Britain's "lost colony syndrome attitude 
towards one of her former colonies which refuses to serve (its) 
interests," the ministry said. 

 Myanmar, or Burma as it used to be known, gained independence from 
Britain in 1948. 
 The junta was responding to furious criticism by Britain's junior 
foreign minister, Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, who rejected as 
a "tissue of lies" a denial by the Myanmar authorities that Briton James 
Mawdsley had been badly beaten by guards at Keng Tung prison in the 
north of the country. 

 Mawdsley, 28, who has British and Australian nationality, is serving a 
17-year jail sentence after being arrested near the border with Thailand 
last year in possession of pamphlets denouncing Myanmar's military 

 He had previously told Britain's vice-consul to Myanmar that he had 
sustained several days of beatings at the hands of his guards because he 
had protested about being held in solitary confinement. 

 The junta has resisted all calls to hand power to opposition leader 
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy which won a landslide 
victory in 1990 parliamentary elections which were subsequently annulled 
by the military. 



Czech Press: One Year After the Burmese Embassy Siege

2 October 2000

No: 10-1

One Year After the Burmese Embassy Siege

Reporter: Maxmilian Wechsler Bangkok, Czech Press

On October 1, 1999 the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors (VBSW) seized 
the  Burmese embassy in Bangkok and took hostages. The drama ended the 
next day.  All hostages were freed and the VBSW gunmen flown by a 
helicopter to the  God's Army base.

Exactly one year later the vast majority of the Burmese dissident 
leaders  agree that the embassy siege was a major setback for the whole 
opposition  movement as the sentiment of the Thai government and the 
population turned  against it.

The US State Department issued strongly worded statement deploring the 
Only one foreign mission in Bangkok benefited from the siege as piles of 
 secret documents were delivered to them directly from the Burmese 
embassy.  How this was arranged is still a mystery.

The biggest losers is the God's Army, a group led by two young Karens  
Johnny Htoo and Luther. The God's Army was exploited and tricked by the  
VBSW. They promised new uniforms, food, medicine, weapons and ammunition 
to  them in return for their support.. None of their promises 
Kyaw Ni a.k.a Johnny who led the VBSW gunmen in to the Burmese embassy 
was  able to establish a close friendship with Johnny Htoo by supplying 
him with  the cigarettes. Johnny Htoo is a chain smoker despite his 
young age. 
In a letter dated October 12,1999 and addressed to the Thai Prime 
Minister  Chuan Leekpai, the VBSW apologized for their action and 
explained their  motives behind the embassy takeover.

As a sign of reconciliation with the Thai government, the VBSW returned 
a  pistol seized from the special branch policeman inside the embassy. 

The handing of the pistol to the Thai official was done on behalf of the 
 VBSW by the God's Army military commander Shwe Bya at Takolan. 

This gesture by the VBSW encouraged the Thai government. A team of Thai  
negotiators was dispatched on November 4, 1999 to meet with the  
representatives of the VBSW and persuade them to surrender.
The Thai officials met with Kyaw Ni and Pida urging both to give up.  
Several VBSW members who arrived form the Maneeloy camp appealed to 
their  comrades to give up and negotiate the terms of the surrender. 
Kyaw Ni and  Pida refused and demanded to negotiate directly with the 
Thai Prime  Minister. The Thai officials couldn't accept his condition. 

Making the situation even worse, the unarmed Thai negotiators were  
humiliated during the surrender talks by about 30 God's Army soldiers 
who  encircled them inside the Thai territory brandishing loaded 

After the talks broke down the Thais didn't retaliate against the God's  
Army, thuogh having the capabilily to do so. the V:BSW gunmen and God's  
Army soldiers were allowed to walk back several kilometers to their camp 
 inside Burma.

After the Ratchaburi hospital incident on January 24, 1999 the God's 
Army  soldiers became even more disillusioned with the VBSW and started 
to  question the promises made by Kyaw Ni of better life and plenty of  
everything. In fact, the living conditions of the God's army 
deteriorated  since then.

Johnny Htoo and Luther finally realized that their association with the  
VBSW is leading them to a disaster and withdrew their support. Johnny 
Htoo  who always accompanied Kyaw Ni, abandoned him.

This move initiated a split within God's Army and 10 of their soldiers,  
including Shwe Bya, formed the Democratic God's Army (DGA) in March. 
Kyaw Ni planned to strike against the Thai government facilities at any  
cost to revenge the death of his close friend Pida and other comrades at 
 the Ratchaburi hospital. He targeted an oil refinery somewhere in 
Thailand.  Fortunately the DGA didn't possess the capability to strike 
inside Thailand. 
Kyaw Ni decided to kidnap four Thai workers employed by the Thai mining  
company contracted by the SPDC inside Burma in May. The DGA demanded 
Baht 5  million ransom from the company but settled for Baht 2 million. 
After they  were paid the hostages were released unharmed. This incident 
was never  reported even though the Thai authorities knew about the 

The Karen National Union (KNU) made a lot of efforts starting from 
October  1 to convince their Karen brothers in the God's Army that had 
chosen the  wrong path by joining with the VBSW in their struggle to 
free the Karen  people from the SPDC terror.

Unfortunately, the God's Army started listening to the KNU too when the  
damage was done already.

The God's Army managed to make headlines from several interviews which  
didn't help their cause. They were presented to the public like a 
fanatical  religious group.

As for the DGA, they are facing a grim future. Without any support they  
will vanish sooner of later. The group is suffering from shortage of 
food,  medicine, ammunition and Kyaw Ni himself is reported to be 
suffering from a  serious skin disease. Obviously, the ransom money 
don't benefit them. There  were some questions concerning his mental 
state during his stay at the  Maneeloy camp.

The events which started on October 1 of last year proved that it is 
also  the political leadership not just the barrel of gun that the 
Burmese  opposition must employ in order to achieve their objectives. 
There is no  place for  extremists.


ILWU: Workers of the world stand up for Burmese rights

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Dispatch
Oct 2000

By Tom Price

In the race to the bottom that is the finish line for corporate 
globalization, one country has a clear lead. With textile workers making 
four cents an hour, Burma has the distinction of having the world's 
lowest wages for people who actually get paid. With as many as 800,000 
people forced into labor by the military regime, Burma, renamed Myanmar 
by its military rulers, may have the worst human rights records in the 
world. Around the globe labor and human rights groups are joining 
together to pressure the international community to restore democracy in 
Burma. Cities and states in the U.S. passed no-trade laws, unions 
demanded government sanctions, and a large-scale consumer boycott of 
Burmese products is underway. But the military regime has yet to budge, 
and persecution of elected leaders and unionists is getting worse. 
Burmese workers in exile founded the Federation of Trade Unions, Burma, 
in 1991 after the military refused to turn over power to the elected 

Burma's long borders with India and China, both rival nuclear powers, 
puts it right in the middle of any regional conflict. China's proposed 
construction of a naval base on Burma's Bay of Bengal shores will not be 
seen as a friendly act in India, a country that faces 500,000 Chinese 
troops on their northern border in Tibet. Texas-sized Burma also shares 
a short border with Tibet, and its sensitive geo-political position 
should qualify its 45 million people for the same serious international 
attention as Iraq, Bosnia or Kosovo. From colony to democracy to 
Burma achieved a relatively smooth transition to independence from Great 
Britain in 1947. Independence leader Aung San's party won 248 of 255 
seats in parliamentary elections in April of that year, and workers 
formed legal labor unions. In July the military assassinated Aung San 
and five of his advisors, but the country recovered from WWII to become 
the most prosperous in the region. It remained a troubled democracy 
until 1962 when General Ne Win staged a military coup. He stepped down 
in 1981, though he continues to exercise serious influence in the 
government to this day. Ne Win banned unions after his coup, but workers 
continue organizing in secret and in exile. 

Military repression continued through the last four decades as the 
country's economy sank to one of the poorest in the region. In March 
1988 workers and students held mass demonstrations against the 
government, and the movement grew until Aug. 8 when the military began a 
crackdown, killing between 6,000 and 10,000 people. General Saw Maung 
took over a month later, and promised real elections. Ne Win handpicked 
the military government that held the elections, apparently thinking his 
side would win.

To the surprise of international election observers, the military held 
relatively fair elections in May 1990 and the National League for 
Democracy won by a four-to-one margin. Aung San Suu Kyi, the party's 
leader and daughter of Aung San, was promptly arrested and she remains 
under house arrest today. 

Life under the military regime is nightmarishly repressive. Possession 
of an "unauthorized" cell phone can land a person in jail. Communicating 
with the outside world on human rights abuses can get the offender life 
plus 17 years in some of the worst prisons in the world. This happened 
to petro-chemical union head U Myo Aung Thant, who was arrested in 1997 
along with U Khin Kyaw, an official in the ITF-affiliated Seafarers' 
Union of Burma. Khin Kyaw disappeared into the labyrinth of the Burmese 
prison system without benefit of trial.

International labor organizes

The International Labor Organization effectively kicked Burma out in 
June 1999 over the regime's use of forced labor. The ILO, a United 
Nations agency founded in 1919 under the League of Nations, had never 
before taken such a drastic measure. Burma has until Nov. 30 this year 
to prove to the ILO it has eliminated forced labor. If it can't, the ILO 
will ask its 174 member states to review their relationship with Burma 
and take measures to ensure that its rulers "cannot take advantage of 
such relations to perpetuate or extend the system of forced or 
compulsory labor," according to an ILO March, 29 2000 press release.

The ILWU and other labor organizations have joined an international 
movement to pressure the regime. The union's International Executive 
Board passed a Statement of Policy Aug. 25 condemning the regime and 
demanding a withdrawal of all U.S. investments until democracy is 
restored (see page 12).  

Longshore Local 10 members showed their support for Burmese seafarers 
back in 1997 when they refused to cross a human rights picket line in 
Oakland. The Mare Caspium was held up for 25 hours on a health and 
safety beef while union members respected the line, which included a 
Burmese seafarer. 

"We picketed the ship in order to convince the captain to let an ITF 
inspector on board," Jane Jordan of the Free Burma Coalition told The 
Dispatcher. The arbitrator eventually ordered the dockers back to work, 
but not before ITF Inspector Barry Binsky determined the crew were badly 
paid, and had been forced to sign an agreement to refund any pay the ITF 
might win for them. The crew of the ITF demonstration ship Global 
Mariner picketed the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand in August 
1999, demanding the release of Khin Kyaw. As a piece of political 
theater to dramatize their point, the crew made a bamboo prison cell and 
a seaman volunteer got inside and was carried to the embassy gates. An 
ITF April 2000 resolution calls on affiliates to organize whatever 
protest action possible against the military government. ITF ship 
inspections in India, Burma's largest export customer, turned up 
numerous violations. 

The MV Pagan incurred the wrath of dockers and the ITF when it sailed 
into Calcutta Aug. 20, 2000 with a load of logs and a badly underfed 
Burmese crew, according to the Mizzima News Group, an organization of 
exiled Burmese journalists.  "The wages they get are far below the (ITF) 
standard," said Parbati Das of the Calcutta Port Shramik Union, an ITF 
dockers' affiliate. Longshore workers refused to discharge cargo until 
the ship's master and agent agreed to correct the situation. Burmese 
crews are employed through a government-run agency called the Seamen's 
Employment Control Division.

"We have not had any official response from the Burmese authorities," 
Nishi Kapahi of the ITF's Delhi office told the Mizzima News Group. "But 
our intention is to make them aware of our solidarity and our support 
extended to the Burmese seafarers."  The Burmese ship Chin Shwe Haw 
faced delays in the Indian port of Vishaka Patnam in July, while letters 
protesting the treatment of the Seafarers Union of Burma workers were 
delivered to the captain. 

"We have always supported the cause of the Burmese Seafarers' Union, 
which is in exile since trade unionism is not permitted in Burma," 
Kapahi said. Back in the U.S. the United Food and Commercial Workers has 
demanded that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, cease doing 
business with companies that have ties to the Burmese junta. In a July 
18 press statement the union, representing 1.4 million workers, claimed 
Wal-Mart Canada shipped 70 tons of garments from Burma into Canada in 
the first half of this year and condemned Wal-Mart for doing business 
with Burmese garment manufacturers owned by drug lords.

"Wal-Mart should immediately sever all ties with Burma and companies 
that trade with Burma," UFCW Vice President Mike Leonard said in the 
press release. "Consumers should not be forced to subsidize drug thugs 
through purchases at Wal-Mart."  In response the company issued a press 
statement July 19 saying it would no longer buy from Burma.

More help is on the way from the United Auto Workers. A joint UAW and 
AFL-CIO effort called "Labor Rights Now!" started a major campaign 
earlier this year put pressure on the 
Burmese to free labor activists. 

"We will continue to fight until brothers Khin Kyaw, Myo Aung Thant and 
all other union detainees are freed, and labor and human rights are 
respected in Burma," UAW President Steven Yokich said.

Keeping up the pressure

Response from the U.S. government has been erratic. While President 
Clinton used an executive order to impose sanctions May 1997 that banned 
additional investment in Burma, the U.S. came under pressure from the 
WTO over Massachusetts statute boycotting of firms that do business in 
Burma. That state lost a federal lawsuit and a Supreme Court appeal when 
the high court ruled June 19 that only the federal government could 
impose sanctions. The ruling, which makes illegal the kind of boycotts 
that helped overthrow apartheid in South Africa, effectively tossed out 
dozens of similar local ordinances. The boycott had been working--Pepsi, 
Texaco and Kodak had already withdrawn assets from Burma before the 
court ruling. Burmese trade with the U.S. has increased despite the 1997 
sanctions, and will total more than $340 million this year unless real 
sanctions are imposed. Profit off the extreme low wages goes in part to 
the government, a joint partner in most businesses. It spends massive 
amounts on the military to suppress various ethnic groups and maintain 
the dictatorship. Adidas, Kohl's, Warner Bros., Bugle Boy, Jordache and 
Nautica are among the companies still doing business in Burma, according 
to the National Labor Committee. Criminal penalties for violation of the 
Burma Sanctions Regulations of the U.S. government include fines of up 
to $500,000 for corporations and $250,000 for individuals and ten years 
in jail. 

"Under current circumstances, it is not possible to do business in 
Myanmar without directly supporting the military government and its 
pervasive violation of human rights," the Levi Strauss Company said in a 
statement after it pulled out of Burma. The International Confederation 
of Free Trade Unions estimates that nearly a million unionists, human 
rights activists, students and other citizens in Burma have been forced 
to work on a variety of projects from pipeline construction for Unocal 
and Total oil companies, to human land-mine clearing, in which they are 
forced to walk into suspected mine fields. According to reports from the 
Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, Burma, under the Myanmar regime, has 
become the world's largest supplier of opium, and 60 percent of heroin 
seized in the U.S. originates there. Suu Kyi remains active during her 
detention. She tried to leave her house Aug. 15 to attend a party 
function and was held up by the military on the outskirts of Rangoon for 
nine days. Nearly 200 heavily armed soldiers surrounded her car, ending 
the standoff Aug. 24. She returned home to find her phone lines cut. The 
military refused to allow the British ambassador to visit her, and she 
remains under house arrest with extremely limited outside access. 

Undaunted by the government's threats, Suu Kyi vowed Sept. 20 to attempt 
to leave her house to organize her party. As we go to press she is again 
defying the military rulers of Burma.

"Stop us if you dare," she said.


_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Myanmar Times (SPDC): USDA looks to create wealth through vast "Human 

September 25-October 1,2000  Volume 2, No

Photo - SPDC Chairman Sen-Gen Than Shwe, SPDC Vice-Chairman Gen Maung 
Aye and Secretary-1, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, greet USDA delegates at its 
annual meeting 

THE Union Solidarity and Development Association ? a nationwide 
organisation with more than 14 million members - held its Annual General 
Meeting in Hmawbi last week.More than 417 delegates from across the 
country attended the five-day gathering to discuss organisational, 
social and cultural issues and to hear an opening address from the 
group's patron ? and Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council 
? Senior General Than Shwe.

Sen-Gen Than Shwe spoke about issues including the peace settlements 
struck by the Government with insurgent groups, infrastructural 
development in the agricultural sector and efforts to protect 
traditional culture while promoting economic reform. He said the country 
wanted to build a modern and peaceful nation through two primary forces 
? one with patriotism from Union spirit, the other with vast human 
resource to exploit rich Myanmar natural assets.The association was 
formed seven years ago, on 15 September 1993, and now has state and 
division, district, township, and ward and village-tract branches.

Membership of the association is voluntary and members are required to 
stay away from party politics.A spokesman from the USDA central office 
said the purpose of the association was essentially social." It is a 
non-partisan organisation," said U Thein Lwin, head of the USDA social 
and cultural department."Members take part in social, public health or 
humanitarian tasks."They will never get involved in the promotion of any 
political party."We are financially independent from the government," he 

ügWe have the Myan-Gon-Myint Group of Companies which has business 
undertakings in the fields of export-import and general merchandise 
trading, passenger transport, manufacturing and construction as well as 
travels and tours to support ourselves," he added. "State or Division 
USDAs also have their own businesses."The association is nurturing its 
members to become leaders of tomorrow."In the course on international 
relations, for example, trainees are given a topic to discuss among 
themselves such as they would encounter during an international 

U Thein Lwin said benefits accrued through membership to the USDA 
included the right to attend vocational, language, management and other 
courses.These courses, which to date had been attended by more than half 
the association's 14 million members, sought to boost participants' work 
skills, knowledge and national spirit, U Thein Lwin said."Members can 
attend the basic or advanced courses on computer for which they pay 
K1000 and K1500 respectively," he said.


Asahi Evening News: POV?It?s time for Tokyo to tighten the screws on 

October 2, 2000

Point of View
Guest editorial.  Special to Asahi Shimbun.
By Kavi Chongkittavorn, Executive Editor of The Nation, Bangok.

With the eyes of the interatnational sommunity still focusing on the 
plight oof Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the hardening 
instransigenge of the junta leaders in Yangoon, Japan?s Myanmar policy 
has once again come under the world?s microscope.

Japan is by far the biggest and most eager donor of humanitarian aid to 
Myanmar.  Tokyo has indicated it is willing to grant additional 
assistance of the regime move3s toward reform and further 

More than other counrtries, both in the Westa and Asia, Tokyo is betting 
that the junta leaders? goodwill and survival instincts will lead to 
loosen up after further contacts and exchanges. Japan hopes its policy 
will enventually lead to a political environment that encourages 
dialogue and national reconciliation.

After a decade, it is still an unfulfilled wish.

Japan is not alone in entertaining this approach.  In the past two 
years, Australia has been trying to teach the regime it once strongly 
condemned to respect human rights and adopt the principles of democracy.

Canberra has been spending a lot of money on experts and seminars, 
hoping that the junta would follow the successful experience in 
Indonesia and set up a national human rights commission.  But 
Australia?s soft approach is being criticized at home.  

It was no coincidence when a cablegram written by the new Australian 
envoy to Rangoon to his boss in Canberra was leaked to an Australian 
daily newspaper recently.  It said the prospect for improvement of human 
rights inside Burma was slim.

Painting a gloomy picture, it noted that the much-heralded appointment 
of Dato Ismail Razali, special representative for Myanmar, and his visit 
in July has not yielded any positive result.

Razali is scheduled to visit Yangon again in early October to prepare a 
report on the situation for Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United 
Nations.  It comes on the heels of the blockade of Suu Kyi?s travel, and 
the report is expected to be harsh on the regime.

Since the crackdown on the prodemocracy movement in 1988, Japan has been 
ambivalent in its Myanmar policy even though it showed toughness in 
earlier years by halting official aid.

After Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997, Tokyo became more accommodating with 
the junta.  Given its historical sentiment and business interests there, 
Japan has already established footholds in Myanmar, arguing that it is 
pivotal to keep the dialogue open while the West continues to isolate 

Now, its Myanmar policy is at risk and could potentially clash with 
ASEAN.  At the moment, the organization still maintains solidarity on 
Myanmar, but this blanket support is wearing thein.  Thailand broke 
ranks with ASEAN in July when it acted alone and abstained from a 
crucial vote in the International Labor Organization (ILO) to sanctoin 

With its labor situation up for review at ILO in mid-November, ASEAN 
members and the European Union are in limbo with their wait-and-see 
attitude toward Myanmar.  They are keeping their fingers crossed that 
Myanmar will comply with ILO recommendations to halt all forms of forced 
labor.  There has not been any progress.

If Yangon remains stubborn, ASEAN?s core countries are expected to 
follow the Thai example and vote individually.  Such a move can also 
derail the long awaited ministerial between ASEAN and the European Union 
in December.  Finally, if Japan maintains its status quo, it would 
jeopardize its overall ties with ASEAN as well as Japan-Thai relations.

Tokyo needs to take a more assertive role on Myanmar given its 
substantial aid and leverage as well as close rapport with the regime?s 
leaders.  Japan?s policy can work better if it tightens the screws and 
cooperates closely with the international community.

Without a broader and tougher policy, Myanmar will continue to 
manipulate and drag its feet on the reconciliation process.  Worse, the 
regime will benefit form Tokyo?s generosity without resorting to 
political dialogue.



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