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BurmaNet News: October 4, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: October 4, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2000 09:49:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
_________October 4, 2000 Issue # 1632__________
NOTED IN PASSING: A ``hundred lashes.''
What the regime is threatening Aung San Suu Kyi if she continues to
abuse its ¡®hospitality.¡¯ See AP: Government warns Suu Kyi not to
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AP: Government warns Suu Kyi not to abuse `hospitality'
*South China Morning Post: DRUGS - Fears give reprieve for opium fields
*UPI: Burma classifies caffeine as narcotic drug
*AFP: Vietnam confirms Myanmar contacts but rules out intervention
*Reuters: Vietnam says ASEAN rejects Myanmar mediation
*Bangkok Post: REFUGEES - Bangkok urges UNHCR to hold talks with Rangoon
Fresh influx of Burmese feared
*Nouvel Observateur: 700 kilometers of useless pipeline, Thailand chokes
with Burmese gas
*Letter From Emma Mawdsley on her brother James
*PD Burma: Calendar of events with regard to Burma as of Oct 4, 2000
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AP: Government warns Suu Kyi not to abuse `hospitality'
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) Calling pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi a
guest in Myanmar, a government newspaper warned that she would be driven
out with a ``hundred lashes'' if she abused her hosts.
The warning, delivered in a verse published in the state-owned Myanma
Alin daily, is the latest in a litany of personal attacks on Suu Kyi who
has repeatedly challenged the government's restrictions on her personal
and political freedoms in recent weeks.
Apparently referring to her marriage to a British man, who died last
year, the verse said Suu Kyi was a guest of the country.
''If the guest is good, it contributes to the welfare of the house. But
if the guest is bad it affects the household; thus the guest should not
abuse the host or else she'll be driven out with hundred lashes,'' the
Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel peace laureate, and other leaders of her National
League for Democracy have been under virtual house arrest since Sept. 22
after her second attempt in one month to travel outside Yangon was
blocked by authorities.
The regime's actions have drawn international criticism, and this week
Switzerland joined a list of Western nations in imposing sanctions on
Myanmar's military junta has refused to hand over power to the NLD,
which swept the 1990 general elections. It kept Suu Kyi under formal
house arrest from 1989 to 1995. Even after being freed, her movements
have remained heavily restricted. Besides, hundreds of her followers
have been jailed.
Wednesday's Myanma Alin also published a separate commentary saying Suu
Kyi's insistence on traveling outside and her declaration to draft a
constitution were confrontational that only widened ``the gap between
the government and the opposition.''
The article noted that drafting a constitution was illegal and
punishable by prison sentence or a ban on the organization that did the
``She is being confrontational and provoking arrest apparently because
she has someone to depend on. Anyone living in the country must abide by
the laws ... or leave the country.
``Our country relies on our own resources and we are not afraid of any
foreign pressure,'' the commentary said.
The United Nations is planning to send a special envoy to Myanmar,
Razali Ismail of Malaysia, in the second week of October in a bid to
break the political deadlock in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Razali's predecessor, Alvaro de Soto, visited Myanmar six times but
made no headway.
South China Morning Post: DRUGS - Fears give reprieve for opium fields
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
WILLIAM BARNES in Bangkok
A fungus developed to wipe out the Golden Triangle's opium fields is
unlikely to be used following research which shows it could affect other
crops. The finding has also lessened a unique chance to test the
Burmese military regime's good faith over drugs.
Fears that the hi-tech fungus being developed with US and British money
could run amok to create an ecological disaster have spread to the
United Nations, a UK television programme aired on Monday night
Confidential documents from the UN show its experts are worried that
once spread on poppy fields in Burma and Afghanistan, the fungus - which
could be ready in a couple of years - might be difficult to contain.
There are also worries that the fungus might mutate in forms that could
be used by terrorists, it was reported on Panorama.
The prospect of crippling the world's greatest sources of heroin with
something that looks like fur on old bread is tantalising. Sceptics do
not believe the military regime's claims that it will wipe out all poppy
fields within a decade. Burma, with a population of about 45 million,
has a bloated military of some 400,000 personnel in uniform.
Even optimists admit the UN drug-control programme's poppy crop
substitution projects in Shan State - heartland of the Golden Triangle -
can be easily circumvented.
"Frankly, without a magic bullet, I don't see anything dramatic
happening in the Shan State for many years. It's too lucrative for too
many people," said a foreign drugs officer in Bangkok. "Now I am
beginning to wonder whether anyone will have the courage to try the
fungus," he said.
Such a move would be a unique test of the Burmese Government's sincerity
about eradicating an industry that has tripled in a decade.
The regime claims that a rugged terrain and battle-hardened drug armies
are too prickly to tackle head on. It vigorously denies allegations that
drug money helps prop up the economy and lines the pockets of top
generals, though it admits to "low-level" drug corruption.
The fungus is being developed by former Soviet germ warfare experts and
others at a research institute in Uzbekistan. The US and British
governments have contributed substantially to the search for a virulent
form of the mould, Pleospora papaveracea, which, in its mild, natural
form, is no more than an irritant to opium farmers.
The Uzbekistan strain causes poppies to wither and die and - unlike
chemical plant killers - spreads naturally by wind.
Reports from the research centre talk of "100 per cent success" in
trials. It is described as "aggressive, infectious, self-propagating and
deadly". Mixed with talc and silica gel, it can be dropped by plane.
UK plant pathologist Paul Rogers told the TV researchers that the fungus
"could easily become a poisoned chalice". He urged "great caution". But
British microbiologist Mike Greaves, who is overseeing the project for
the UN, said: "I love it. It's actually working".
UPI: Burma classifies caffeine as narcotic drug
UPI, Rangoon, 4 October 2000.
Burma's state-controlled media Wednesday published new government
caffeine a narcotic drug.
"The Ministry of Health of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) proclaimed
caffeine a narcotic drug or a chemical used as a precursor in making
psychotropic substances, in exercise of sub-section (b) of Section 16
and sub-section (b) of Section 30 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances Law," said the brief announcement.
The announcement in the English language New Light of Myanmar newspaper
did not say whether coffee drinkers would be prosecuted under the law or
what the penalties for possession would be.. Burmese law carries tough
penalties, including death, for the possession of narcotics such as
heroin and opium. It also classifies amphetamines, the production of
which are rampant at clandestine laboratories along the Thai border, as
The U.S. government has accused the ruling junta in Burma of widespread
and systematic involvement in the production of opium, heroin and
AFP: Vietnam confirms Myanmar contacts but rules out intervention
HANOI, Oct 4 (AFP) - Vietnam confirmed on Wednesday that it had held
contacts with its southeast Asian partners over the mounting crisis in
Myanmar but insisted they had concluded there should be no intervention.
"Vietnam has exchanged views with Myanmar and certain concerned
countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)," of
which it is the current president, foreign ministry spokeswoman Phan
Thuy Thanh, told AFP.
The exchanges were held "on the basis of the priciples of consent and
non-interference in each other's internal affairs," she said.
They concluded that "the recent development of the situation in Myanmar
is an internal affair for the Burmese and that foreign countries should
There have been mounting reports in recent days of an imminent
diplomatic initiative by Vietnam as ASEAN chairman in the face of
mounting criticism from Western countries of Myanmar's human rights
The Bangkok Nation reported Tuesday that Hanoi had contacted Yangon
over the possibility of sending an ASEAN delegation following an
approach from UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
The UN chief has appointed former Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail as
special envoy in a bid to promote reconcilation between the military
junta and the opposition.
Myanmar's decision to place opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under
house arrest last month prompted the European Union to express "deep
concern" and Switzerland to announce tighter sanction.
But Vietnam has steadfastly opposed any action by ASEAN states
insisting last month that the Myanmar crisis was a "purely domestic
affair" in which the regional grouping had "never intervened."
Itself a frequent target of Western human rights criticism, Hanoi has
long been a vigorous defender of the principle of non-interference and
also opposed Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia.
Reuters: Vietnam says ASEAN rejects Myanmar mediation
HANOI, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Vietnam, the chair of ASEAN, said on Wednesday
that it and ``relevant'' members had rejected a proposal for the
regional group to mediate in Myanmar as it would represent interference
in Yangon's internal affairs.
The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations agreed in July in
Bangkok to form a ``troika'' of three of its members to try to help
resolve regional political and security disputes.
Last month, the Thai newspaper the Nation quoted diplomats as saying
that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had suggested the troika help
mediate in Myanmar, where the ruling generals are locked in a
confrontation with the pro-democracy opposition led by Nobel laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi.
Responding to a question, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan
Thuy Thanh said:
``Vietnam has exchanged opinions with Myanmar and some relevant
countries in the association on the basis of consensus and
non-interference in each other's internal affairs and we recognise that
the latest changes in Myanmar are Myanmar's internal affairs and
external parties should not interfere.''
Suu Kyi and seven senior NLD colleagues have been kept locked in their
homes since September 22, when she was forcibly removed from Yangon's
main railway station after the authorities blocked her attempt to travel
outside the city by rail.
Myanmar's treatment of the opposition has sparked world condemnation
and thrown into doubt a planned meeting in Laos in December between
ASEAN and European Union foreign ministers.
The idea of a troika has not been whole-heartedly supported by some
ASEAN members who have long cherished the group's policy of
non-interference in the internal affairs of members.
ASEAN contains two authoritarian communist states -- Vietnam and Laos
-- as well as several countries with varying degrees of democracy.
Several members, including Thailand, are concerned by the security
implications of a Myanmar government at odds with much of its
Myanmar's official media have rejected mediation, pointing to ASEAN's
principle of non-interference and saying that all issues between member
countries should be solved by consensus.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Bangkok Post: REFUGEES - Bangkok urges UNHCR to hold talks with Rangoon
Fresh influx of Burmese feared
- Oct 4, 2000.
Thailand yesterday called on the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees to hold talks with Burma "the soonest" to prevent a new influx
of Burmese refugees.
The call was made by Kachadpai Burusapatana, secretary-general of the
National Security Council, in his speech to the 51st session of the
executive committee of the UNHCR programme in Geneva.
Mr Kachadpai urged the UNHCR to persuade Rangoon to let the UN body
monitor and assist in safe "repatriation and re-integration of some
100,000 displaced Burmese in Thailand.
"Playing host to the displaced persons has not been without its cost in
terms of administration, personnel, environmental degradation,
deforestation, epidemic control and the displacement of affected Thai
villagers, as well as the psychological impact on the local Thai
population," he said.
Despite these burdens, Thailand has remained firm on its humanitarian
position by giving temporary protection to the displaced people, he
However, after 15 years of their temporary stay in Thailand, it was
about time they were helped to go home "in safety and dignity", the NSC
Thailand, Mr Kachadpai said, supported the co-operation between the
UNHCR and Burma in restoring peace and in development activities that
would facilitate the voluntary and safe repatriation of displaced
"Only in this manner will the problem of the Myanmar (Burmese) displaced
persons be addressed at its root cause and in a comprehensive manner,"
Mr Kachadpai said in his speech.
He stressed that a comprehensive and durable solution must be based on
the UNHCR's principles of international solidarity and burden-sharing.
Besides some 100,000 displaced Burmese in Thailand, about 2,000 former
Burmese students housed at Ratchaburi's Maneeloy centre also needed the
attention of the international community, Mr Kachadpai said.
"These students should be encouraged to resettle in the third countries
in order for them to receive proper education and training," he said.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Nouvel Observateur: 700 kilometers of useless pipeline, Thailand chokes
with Burmese gas
(Translated from French)
September 21 2000
by Francis Christophe
Ten years after deciding to begin exploiting the Yadana gas field Total
is at the heart of an inextricable political and financial imbroglio:
Must Thailand pay for gas which it does not use?
Total's Burmese adventure - now TotalFinaElf' s - has been criticised
for years for its ecological and human impact. Could it lead now to an
industrial fiasco, a collapsing currency and a political scandal in
Bangkok? Such questions can be raised five years after signature of the
agreement which would allow power production at the Thai power-station
of Ratchaburi, using gas from the Yadana field extracted by Total and
its partners off the coast of Burma.
Four companies were involved in this project whose cost came to nearly 2
billion dollars: Total, Unocal of California, the Thai national
petroleum company PTT, and the Burmese junta's own MOGE. With 31.24% of
the capital Total led and operated the "Yadana project".After laying a
300 kms underwater pipeline followed by 345 kms land pipe, through
Burmese and Thai primary forest, which provoked a real ecological
disaster - in addition to accusations of forced labour, ethnic cleansing
and drug money laundering by Total's Burmese partners - the inventory of
the operation is a disaster: The Ratchaburi Power plant, run by the EGAT
(Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand), has yet to produce its
first kilowatt. In fact construction of the plant has not been
Which does not prevent the consortium headed by TotalFinaElf from
claiming payment for gas which has never been used...but which the two
Thai State companies, PTT - buyer of the Burmese gas - and EGAT - sole
user - have to pay, according to the terms of a "take or pay" agreement
signed in 1995. By June 2000 the gas debt amounted to 330 million
dollars. And the bill continues to swell by a daily 500 000 dollars. In
Thailand this is a burning issue. EGAT and PTT are just not able to pay
this debt. In rather unclear conditions, the government had to step in
and replace these failing debtors, after suffering the humiliation of
attempting, in vain,to have the contract renegotiated. The bill settled
last August - of 270 million dollars - was so large that it made the
baht fall to its level of the 1998 financial crisis.
Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai' s government is considerably
embarassed by this issue since it was in power then, when the contract
was signed early 1995. Yet, at the time, independent experts along with
Sulak Sivaraksa, one of the more representative figures in Thai civil
society, had very strongly opposed this project which they considered
both "useless and harmful". The World Bank' s response to a Thai request
added weight to their cause: It refused to co- finance this project,
which it judged did not correspond to the real needs of the country.
How both State companies found themselves involved - and trapped - in
such a risky venture is now a burning question in Thai political
circles.The key to this puzzle lies in the strategy used by Total in
winning the 1992 Burmese contract. According to Michel Delaborde,
director of communications for the petroleum group, this was done "as if
thegame was already won, with no need for any garantees in Thailand". In
this "petropolitical" game Total had an advantage as Serge Tchuruk, then
Total's CEO, had been granted an audience by Thailand' s King Bhumibhol
Adulyadej. With the prestige rising from having obtained this audience,
Total' s negotiating team had no trouble convincing the relevant
authorities of their rather generous estimate for future energy needs,
which they claimed would satisfy the then very rapid economic expansion
of the Thai "tiger".
The affair has reached such proportions that several EGAT officials have
already been questioned by the Commission of Finances of the Thai
Parliament, now investigating the case. While TotalFinaElf has
continually looked upon this Asian problem from a distance, its serenity
may soon be challenged. Some PTT officials have recently admitted that
they were forced to submit to the consortium' s wishes, i.e. Total' s,
in setting the pipeline' s route, schedule and cost. Now trapped by the
terms of the contract can the Thai government step backwards and obtain
from Total and the Burmese regime - severely short of cash - a
renegotiation of the gas supply agreement? Total' s spokesperson Eve
Gauthier said to the Nouvel Observateur, that "Renegotiation of the gas
supply contract with Thailand is not on the agenda" while insisting on a
" quality of relationship between Total and PTT, based on trust, and
which has lasted for decades". This "trust-based" relationship has not,
in the past, stopped
TotalFinaElf from including a clause of automatic adjustment in the 1995
contract. For the last few months this clause has made the Burmese gas,
sold to Thailand but unused, twice as expensive as that extracted - by
Total and Unocal - from the Gulf of Thailand...
Letter From Emma Mawdsley on her brother James
[Posted to the Internet via chain letters on Oct 3/4, 2000]
University of Durham
I hope you don't mind a personal request. I think most people know that
brother, James, is serving a 17 year prison sentence in Burma because of
peaceful pro-democracy protest.
Yesterday we found out that he was beaten systematically over three days
last week. His nose has been broken, his face is a mess, and we don't
know the extent of any other injuries. He told the Consul that at one
point 15 men were beating him with bamboo canes. As well as the
physical beating he is being punished in other ways.
We are now trying to put all the pressure we can on the junta to release
him. Would you mind writing a letter to one or all of the Burmese
Ambassador in the UK, the Burmese Minister for Foreign Affairs, and
Robin Cook? We are working closely with some human rights lobbying
organisations, and they say that letters are incredibly effective. I
have sketched out a couple of formats below, or please write your own.
If you could pass this on to as many people as possible, that would be
great - please collar unwary friends, family and colleagues.
I can't adequately express my thanks to everyone who has done or
offered so much up to now, and the same is true now, but we are truly
grateful. James angers and infuriates the junta, which is one sign of
what he has managed to achieve - the other is that the issue of Burma
(we are told) has taken on a significantly higher profile in the UK and
the US over the last year, partly because of lobbying around James.
Although my biggest concern is for James, this is part of a much bigger
condemnation of the murderous Burmese regime.
Sincere thanks - letters and addresses below
Houses of Parliament
Dear Mr Cook,
I would like to welcome your recent statement on the situation in Burma
and the treatment of James Mawdsley. Can I urge you to continue to make
every effort to secure James' release, and to support the
democratically elected National League for Democracy in their
opposition to the junta.
There is no need to reply to this letter.
Burmese Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
19A, Charles St Ministry for Foreign Affairs
London Pyay Street
W1X ATR Rangoon, Union of Myanmar
I would like to protest against the illegal detention and deplorable
treatment of James Mawdsley. You have sentenced him to seventeen years
in prison for asking for dialogue with the NLD, the democratically
elected Government of Burma. He also asked for the universities to
re-opened, but you continue to deny education to a generation of
Burmese students. Your regime is pursuing a pitiless war of ethnic
genocide against tribal communities like the Karen, Karenni and Shan.
Under your illegal rule, millions live in fear and poverty in a land
that should be rich and peaceful.
James Mawdsley is one of thousands of illegally detained political
prisoners, all of whom should be released immediately.
_____________________ OTHER ______________________
PD Burma: Calendar of events with regard to Burma as of Oct 4, 2000
Published by PD Burma.
¨Z October : Second EU "troika" mission to
¨Z October 6- 8th : The Special UN Envoy
Razali Ismail will visit Rangoon
¨Z October 11-13th : "In Pursuit of a Drug Free
Asean 2015", co-hosted by the
and the UN Drug Control Programme.
¨Z October : EU Foreign Ministers to review Burma
¨Z October 16-21st : 104th Inter-Parliamentary
¨Z October 17-18th : 4th Annual Meeting for PD
¨Z October 17th-21st : The ASEM 2000 Peoples' Forum
[see also www.asem2000people.org]
will take place in
¨Z October 19- 20th : The Asem Summit, Seoul
¨Z October 20th-21st : The ASEM 3 Summit
¨Z October 26-28th : The 50th Congress of Liberal
¨Z November : ILO Review of Burma's
¨Z November 2-17th : 279th Session of the Governing Body
and its committees, Geneva
¨Z November 17th : Global Day of Action on Open Schools
¨Z November 10-11th :Meeting of the Council of the
Socialist International, Maputo
¨Z December 11-12th : EU and ASEAN
Ministerial-level meeting, Laos
December : Japan-Burma panel on reform of Burma's
¨Z structure, Tokyo
¨Z January 2001 : Sweden takes over EU Presidency
¨Z February : Meeting of Solidarity Groups,
¨Z March/April : Teachers/ Students Union Conferences
¨Z March/April : EU Common Position Review
¨Z March/April : UN Human Rights Commission, Geneva
¨Z May/June : Meeting of Solidarity Groups
¨Z July : Belgium takes over EU Presidency
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