[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
BurmaNet News: October 26, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: October 26, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 09:46:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
_________October 26, 2000 Issue # 1649__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AP: ILO delegation meets leading Myanmar general
*United Nations: Report of the Secretary General on Razali?s Mission to
*The New Light of Myanmar: Myanmar to host 24th meeting of Heads of
National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA)
*AFP: Myanmar troops kill five Indian soldiers at border ambush
*AP: Thai soldier killed, two injured in clash with Myanmar troops
*AP: Thailand protests over border incursion
*Radio Myanmar: [Burmese delegation leaves for China visit]
*Suzuki Motor Co/Transnational Corp. Monitor Japan: On Suzuki?s
investment in Burma
*DVB: Interview with James Mawdsley
*Free Burma Coalition: Burma Talk: This Thursday at G'town University
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AP: ILO delegation meets leading Myanmar general
Oct 26, 2000
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) A group from the International Labor Organization
assessing Myanmar's efforts to end forced labor met Thursday with the
powerful chief of military intelligence, Myanmar officials said.
The five-member team from the ILO, which is considering unprecedented
sanctions against Myanmar, visited Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, who is the
third-ranking general in the ruling military council. Earlier, they met
Foreign Minister Win Aung.
A member of the ILO mission, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did
not know if the group would meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
before departing later Thursday. An ILO team met with Suu Kyi on a visit
to Myanmar in May.
Suu Kyi, whose party won general elections in 1990 but was prevented
from taking power, is being kept under virtual house arrest by the
military, which has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, for four
The United Nations and Western countries have long criticized Myanmar
for suppressing democracy and for its human rights record _ including
use of unpaid civilian labor on infrastructure projects.
The team will draw up a report for the ILO's governing body, which in
June voted to recommend that ILO members _ governments, workers and
employers _ ``review their links with Myanmar and take appropriate
measures to ensure (Myanmar) cannot take advantage of such relations to
perpetuate or extend the system of forced or compulsory labor.''
But the resolution, which was strongly opposed by Asian nations, put
off action until the ILO governing body meets in November to review the
United Nations: Report of the Secretary General on Razali?s Mission to
Abridged. Full text available at:
Report of the Secretary-General
...3. In implementation of resolution 54/186, in April 2000, I appointed
Razali Ismail, former Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United
Nations, as my new Special Envoy, replacing Alvaro de Soto. Mr. Razali
visited Myanmar from 29 June to 3 July 2000 to "build confidence" with
his interlocutors. During his visit, Mr. Razali held consultations with
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 of the State Peace and
Development Council, U Win Aung, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and
Brigadier-General David Abel, Minister in the office of the Chairman of
the State Peace and Development Council. He also held consultations
with leaders of two political parties, namely, the National League for
Democracy (NLD), including its General-Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.
4. Mr. Razali undertook his second mission to Myanmar from 9 to 12
October 2000. During his second visit, Mr. Razali held consultations
with senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 of the
Council, U Win Aung, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Major General Ket
Sein, Minister of Health, and Colonel Tin Hlaing, Minister of Home
Affairs. He also held two rounds of discussions with Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi at her residence and had a meeting with U Aung Khan Htyi, leader of
the Pao ethnic group, during his trip to the Shan State.
5. Mr. Razali's second mission took place during what I look on as a
setback in the atmosphere surrounding the efforts for national
II. Contents of the discussions
7. My Special Envoy and I have raised, separately, with the Myanmar
authorities the concerns of the General Assembly and the Commission on
Human Rights with the Myanmar authorities and other political figures,
as reflected in their resolutions adopted over the years on the
restoration of democracy and human rights in Myanmar, a dialogue
involving the Government, political parties - particularly the NLD -
and ethnic groups, freedom for political parties to conduct normal
political activities, the release of political prisoners, the visit of
the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, continued
access to prisoners by the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) and, last, but by no means least, on forced labour practices.
8. In our separate discussions with the authorities, my Special Envoy
and I pointed out that the recent events in Yangon underscored the need
for national reconciliation in Myanmar. During his second mission, my
Special Envoy therefore focused his efforts on finding a way to initiate
the process of dialogue that would lead to national reconciliation. The
Special Envoy reasoned that Myanmar should benefit from being a member
of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and that now was
the time for the two sides to begin talks. He called on senior General
Than Shwe, Lieutenant- General Khin Nyunt and other government leaders
to consider taking the initiative in opening dialogues with opposition
leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. At the same time, the Special
Envoy also urged Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to engage in a dialogue with the
authorities and to respond in good faith if they took positive steps
towards national reconciliation.
9. The authorities repeated that their Government was a transitional
government, compelled to take the reigns of power in 1988 to prevent the
country from disintegrating, and that they would be ready to hand over
power once unity, stability and a degree of economic development took
hold. Noting that NLD showed no sign of sincerity and mutual respect,
the authorities said that one way of demonstrating sincerity was by
showing a desire to "work constructively" instead of attacking
everything the Government did. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, for her part,
expressed her continued readiness to engage in a dialogue with the
Government at any time. My Special Envoy met with a representative of
one ethnic group who expressed a desire to see a political dialogue
take place between NLD and the military authorities. In my Special
Envoy's view, the first step in the resumption of a political dialogue
towards national reconciliation should be to ease the sense of mutual
distrust between the military leadership and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He
pointed out that, while the United Nations was willing to assist their
efforts, national reconciliation was an issue that they themselves had
10. My Special Envoy stressed the need for the authorities to deal
seriously with the requirements of the International Labour Organization
(ILO) regarding the practice of forced labour. The authorities assured
him that the Government had done its best to comply with the
requirements of ILO on that subject and that it was prepared to discuss
specific measures with the ILO technical mission during its visit to
Yangon from 20 October. He also conveyed to the authorities the
widespread concern of the international community over the situation in
Myanmar, especially the imprisonment of people who are perceived from
the outside as being no more than political activists. Such actions, in
his view, could not but impact negatively on the Government's goal of
returning the country to democracy. While appreciating the release of
three elderly people from prison during the summer, my Special Envoy
also requested that the authorities do more. The Government indicated to
my Special Envoy that it would review more cases of prisoners for
possible release, while assuring him of its continued cooperation with
ICRC concerning visits to prisons and other places of detention,
according to its standard procedures. I was pleased to note that, as a
result of the Special Envoy's efforts, another five elderly people were
released from prison on 17 October.
11. In his meetings with the authorities and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, my
Special Envoy also discussed the possibility of a greater United Nations
humanitarian assistance, especially in the health sector to deal with
the ever-increasing issues of HIV/AIDS, malaria and lack of
immunization. The Government mentioned maternal and child welfare as an
area in which international assistance is also required.
12. The issue of the visit of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission
on Human Rights was raised, but there was no response from the
authorities as to when such a visit could take place.
13. I welcome the fact that my Special Envoy was able to hold a
discussion with the senior General Than Shwe and to meet twice with Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi during his second mission to Myanmar. I also welcome
the announcement by the authorities that universities and colleges in
Myanmar have been reopened for the first time in three years. While I am
unable to report concrete progress on other issues that the
international community has raised time and again in successive General
Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions, it is my strong
hope that the discussions that my Special Envoy had with the top
leadership of Myanmar and with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will give rise to a
new momentum for a resumption of the process of dialogue between the two
sides in the coming months. I stand ready to continue to do my utmost
to assist the process of national reconciliation in Myanmar, in
particular with the assistance of countries in the region.
The New Light of Myanmar: Myanmar to host 24th meeting of Heads of
National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA)
(Thursday, 26 October, 2000
YANGON, 25 Oct-Myanmar will host the 24th meeting of Heads of National
Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) in Asia and Pacific regions from
14 to 17 November at Hotel Equatorial. A preliminary meeting of
Organizing Committee for holding of the meeting was held at Myanmar
Police Force Headquarters. Chairman of the Organizing Committee
Secretary of Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control Police Maj-Gen Soe
Win spoke. Also present were the Deputy Director-General of MPF,
departmental officials and members of Work Committees.
AFP: Myanmar troops kill five Indian soldiers at border ambush
GUWAHATI, India Oct 26 (AFP) - Myanmar soldiers killed five Indian
paramilitary troopers and wounded six in an ambush along their joint
border late Wednesday night, police said on Thursday.
A large Myanmar army contingent attacked a border post belonging to the
Assam Rifles paramilitary agency in Mon district of adjoining Nagaland
state, an official said.
"It appears to be a case of mistaken identity as the Myanmarese army
thought our soldiers to be outlawed militants and started firing,"
Lukhei Sema, the police chief of Nagaland, told AFP by telephone from
state capital Kohima.
The Myanmar troops were "probably" on the lookout for militants of the
banned National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) along the border
when they came upon the Indian outpost, Sema said.
In New Delhi, defence ministry officials were not immediately available
for comment, but sources said the government would be in touch soon with
Myanmar for more details of the incident.
The NSCN are a group of Indian guerrillas fighting for an independent
tribal homeland. Their bases are located in regions between Chin and
Kachin districts in northwest Myanmar, bordering India's Nagaland state.
A NSCN spokesman said its militants were the intended target of the
"The military junta was planning to attack our headquarters and they
mistook the Assam Rifles soldiers to be our cadres and so killed them",
the spokesman told AFP by telephone.
Myanmar authorities have launched a crackdown against the Indian
guerrillas. In February, at least 40 Myanmar soldiers were killed by the
NSCN in a fierce gunbattle within Myanmar's territory.
For years, the NSCN have been using Myanmar as a base to carry out
their offensive against Indian troops in Nagaland.
AP: Thai soldier killed, two injured in clash with Myanmar troops
Oct 25, 2000
MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) One Thai soldier was killed and two more were
injured in a border clash with Myanmar troops early Wednesday, Thai
A Thai patrol unit exchanged fire briefly with about 50 Myanmar troops
who crossed into Thai territory, an officer of Thailand's military Task
Force No. 4 based in Mae Sot said on condition of anonymity.
A Thai patrol unit usually numbers about 10 to 15 troops. The unit was
from Thailand's Naresuan Task Force.
It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties among the
Myanmar troops, from Light Infantry Battalion 283, based at Kawkareik in
Myanmar's Karen State. Myanmar officials were not available for comment
The Myanmar troops are deployed in the area to fight anti-government
Karen insurgents who operate along the Thai-Myanmar border. Skirmishes
occasionally occur between Myanmar and Thai troops patrolling the
Wednesday's firefight with assault rifles and M79 grenades happened at
Mae Jan, in Umphang district of Tak province, some 320 kilometers (200
miles) northwest of Bangkok, the Thai officer said.
The body of the dead soldier, Sgt. Maj. Suan Imlem, was brought by
helicopter to Mae Sot, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of Umphang.
The two injured men were being treated in Umphang hospital, the officer
As the monsoon season draws to a close, Myanmar battalions are arriving
at the border to step up their fight against guerrillas of the rebel
Karen National Union, which has been battling for more autonomy in
Myanmar for five decades.
At the start of October, one Thai civilian was killed and two more
injured when 90 Myanmar troops raided a market inside Myanmar opposite
Mae Jan, Thai officials in Umphang said.
AP: Thailand protests over border incursion
Oct 26, 2000
MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) Thailand's military sent a letter of protest
Thursday to Myanmar over an alleged border incursion by Myanmar forces
that exchanged fire with Thai troops, killing one and wounding two more.
Col. Chainarong Thanarong, commander of Thailand's Task Force No. 4,
who is chairman of a Thai-Myanmar border committee, told reporters he
had sent a letter of protest to his Myanmar counterpart about the clash
A Thai patrol unit _ which usually consists 10-15 troops _ exchanged
fire briefly with about 50 Myanmar troops at Mae Jan, in Umphang
district of Tak province, some 320 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of
Bangkok, according to Thai military.
It was not clear if there were any casualties among the Myanmar troops.
A Myanmar government spokesman in Yangon did not respond to a faxed
inquiry about the incident.
The Myanmar troops are deployed in the area to fight anti-government
Karen insurgents who operate along the Thai-Myanmar border. Skirmishes
occasionally occur between Myanmar and Thai troops patrolling the
The Thai Foreign Ministry would also contact the Myanmar Embassy in
Bangkok about the incident, said Maj. Gen. Chamlong Phothithong, deputy
commander of the Thai regional military command that patrols that part
of the long Thai-Myanmar border.
On Wednesday, Myanmar troops opened fire at the Indian-Myanmar border,
where anti-Yangon insurgents are also active, killing at least five
Indian paramilitary soldiers and wounding six others, police in
northeastern India said Thursday.
Radio Myanmar: [Burmese delegation leaves for China visit]
BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political
October 26, 2000, Thursday
SOURCE: Radio Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 25 Oct 00
Text of report by Burmese radio on 25th October
A Myanmar Burmese delegation led by Lt-Gen Win Myint, secretary-3 of the
State Peace and Development Council SPDC , left Yangon Rangoon by air
this afternoon for the People's Republic of China PRC to pay a goodwill
visit at the invitation of the Association for Building International
Understanding of the PRC.
The delegation was seen off at Yangon International Airport by Gen Maung
Aye, vice-chairman of the SPDC, deputy commander in chief of the Defence
Services, and Army commander in chief; Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt,
Secretary-2 Lt-Gen Tin Oo, Maj-Gen Khin Maung Than, SPDC member and
Yangon Commander; Deputy Prime Minister Lt-Gen Tin Hla, Transport
Minister Maj-Gen Hla Myint Swe, Education Minister U Than Aung, Director
General Lt-Col e Nyein of the SPDC Office, heads of departments, PRC
Ambassador Liang Dong, and the officials concerned.
Secretary-3 Lt-Gen Win Myint is accompanied by Col Thein Nyunt, minister
for progress of border areas and national races and development affairs;
U Thaung, minister for science and technology; Brig-Gen Khin Maung,
deputy minister for agriculture and irrigation; and Brig-Gen Aung Thein
Linn, deputy minister for industry-2.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Suzuki Motor Co/Transnational Corp. Monitor Japan: On Suzuki?s
investment in Burma
[The following letters between an NGO that monitors transnational
corporations and Suzuki Motor Company are illustrative of the conflict
between foreign investors in Burma and civil society groups supportive
of democracy in Burma].
October 20, 2000
FROM: Suzuki Motor Corporation
Executive Managing Director
General Manager, Administration Dep.
TO: TNC Monitor Japan
Mr. Shinichi Sakuma
Consumer Union of Japan
Ms. Hiroko Mizuhara
RE: Suzuki's Enterprise in Burma
I would like to answer to your inquiries about Suzuki's enterprise in
1) The answer to the first inquiry is as follows:
"Business Outline of the Myanmar Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd."
Date of Establishment: November 16, 1998
Capital: U.S. $ 6.7million
Investment Ratio: Suzuki 60%, Tomen (a general trading company) 5%, SPA
5%, MADI 30% *SPA: Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar) Ltd., MADI: Myanmar
Automobile & Diesel Engine Industries
Business Contents: Production and sales of Suzuki's cars and
motorcycles Executives: 8 executives
Number of Employees: 50 employees
Number of the dispatch employees from Japan: 3 employees
2) The answer to the second inquiry is as follows:
Suzuki's joint partner is the MADI, not the Ministry of Industry (2). We
have no comment toward the FBC's "Boycott Suzuki Campaign."
3) The answers to the third and fourth inquiries are as follows: Myanmar
is a state recognized by the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian
Nations). Therefore Suzuki's investment into Myanmar is entirely legal
action. Considering the traffic condition in Myanmar, Suzuki thinks that
the supply of inexpensive transportation will lead to an economic
development and improvement in living standards.
Therefore Suzuki thinks that the investment was decided for humanitarian
*******(Reference: The Letter of Oct. 14 ) *******
October 14, 2000
FROM：Transnational Corporation Monitor of Japan
Consumer Union of Japan
TO:Suzuki Motor Corporation
Chief Operationg Officer
Mr. Masao Toda
RE: Suzuki's Enterprise in Burma
Dear Mr. Toda,
We would like to inquire and propose about your enterprise in Burma
As we assume you have already known about it, we have recently received
"An appeal for Suzuki International Day of Action on Oct. 14th" from the
Free Burma Coalition (FBC, Headquarter in Washington DC), which is
organized by Non-Governmental Organizations that support Burma's
democracy from 28 countries.
We are always doing monitoring activities of Japanese corporations'
business activities in foreign countries and the Japanese government's
Official Development Assistance (ODA), but if the indications in the
"FBC appeal" are factual, it will be exceedingly deplorable that your
Burma operation is against the efforts of international society toward
the democratization of Burma.
Below are some inquiries and proposals about your enterprise in Burma.
We know that you are busy, but we would be glad if you can answer them
to the address below.
1.Please let us know about your business outline, Myanmar Suzuki Motor
Company's date of establishment, its capital, its investment ratio, its
partnerships, its business contents, its executives, its number of
employees, and its number of the dispatch employees from Japan.
2. In the "FBC appeal," it states, "Their partner in the deal-General
Saw Lwin, is the former director of training for Burma's army-the same
military that has brutally suppressed the Burmese people for nearly 40
years, and Suzuki is tying-up with the Ministry of Industry (2), which
is producing arms for the regime." Is this indication factual? Also,
please let us know your opinion toward the FBC's "Boycott Suzuki
3. While international societies of European and American countries are
stopping ODA and/or self-controlling or withdrawing of their investment,
the Japanese government that reopens ODA and its enterprises that
actively invest in Burma are internationally frowned upon because they
participate in accepting the military regime, which oppresses human
rights. Please let us know your view about this.
4. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is a leader of the Burma democracy movement and
Nobel Peace Prize winner, is repeatedly appealing to international
enterprises not to invest in Burma where its violations of human rights
are being conducted by the military regime. Levis Strauss Co. echoed her
appeal and withdrew from Burma, stating "It is not possible to do
business in Burma without directly supporting the military government
and its pervasive violations of human rights." Your Burma's operation,
under its conditions of unreasonable suppressions toward Aung San Suu
kyi and the leading members of the National League of Democracy, plus
violations of human rights towards journalists, lawyers, and general
citizens, is reason for concern of your business ethics. We request you
to reconsider and withdraw your business from Burma. Please let us know
your views about this matter.
The Transnational Corporation Monitor of Japan
c/o Catholic Kiyose Church
1-21-12 Matsuyama Kiyose-shi, Tokyo
DVB: Interview with James Mawdsley
Democratic Voice of Burma
[Unabridged text of interview]
Interview with James Mawdsley by Aye Chan Naing from DVB, Oslo
Sunday October 22, 2000
Why do you think the military finally let you free?
Certainly because of the buildup of pressure from the international
community putting more and more attention on the junta. They had broken
the international law so many times on separate points. They had no
right to keep me there.This is the case with thousands of prisoners in
Burma. They are innocent men and women and there is no reason for them
being in prison except that the junta wish to oppress. But unfortunately
for the Burmese there is not the international attention. For me they
eventually became so afraid and ashamed of all the buildup that they
thought, "we have to get rid of him."
Basically from the beginning they didn't want to keep me in prison, but
they wanted to save face; they wanted to show their strength.
Can you tell me which laws you are talking about?
I came in with a one-day pass with a visa. My passport was stamped, so I
went in legally. The counsellor staff confirmed that. They saw my
passport and said that I was here legally. But they gave me five years
on an immigration charge for which there is no provision at all for a
prison sentence. The maximum recommendation is deportation. They said I
had broken the conditions of immigration. The maximum they could give me
was deportation, but in fact they gave me five years. And even that law
shouldn't have applied at all because I distributed my letters and was
prosecuted under the Printing and Publishing Act. Then they added the
immigration charge by saying that I had broken the law and that is
illegal. So they charged me twice on the same issue. That in itself is
wrong. And as for the seven years for the Printing and Publishing Act, I
was at no stage allowed to refer to the content of what I had
distributed, and there is provision for distributing religious or social
material. I don't care because what I wrote was, "this regime is corrupt
and we need to re-open universities, release political prisoners, and
the SPDC should have dialogue with the NLD." I said that straight and I
don't consider that to be anti-government. I consider that to be
pro-truth. It needs to be done. And apart from anything else, the SPDC
is not the government; the NLD is government.
During the last years that you were in prison you tried to fight legally
with the charges that they had imposed on you?
When I got there, I was saying for four months that I am not even going
to bother with the appeal because I have no faith in the judicial system
because it is so corrupt. That was proven by them not even admitting the
appeal. They dismissed it eventhough U Kyi Min, my lawyer, proved that
they had broken their own law. They are absolutely obliged to hear that
appeal. The whole legal approach was basically just to highlight the
corruption, and I knew that I would get out through international
pressure and nothing to do with the legal system. Part of the pressure
was showing how corrupt the legal system was.
Recently we heard that you have been badly beaten by the prison guards.
Can you tell us a bit about that?
One thing I understand about Burma is that everyone is afraid with very
good reason. When I was in Insein prison I understood perfectly the
fear. I was devestated by fear in Insein prison. Fortunately after two
months I got my feet back and was no longer afraid. But I understand
that when someone is given the order to give someone a beating, it is
not easy to outright argue with that. So, the guards and prisoners who
carried it through, some of them were reluctant, some of them weren't
and went ahead with great enthusiasm. It was severe beating, but I know
that the Burmese people that I have met have had far worse treatment
that has gone on for weeks and weeks with torture and real abuse. I am
aware that the conditions that I was kept in was much better than so
many prisoners in Burma, so I have no right to complain. In my heart I
had to recognise how lucky I was. Even with the beating I recognised
that for a Burmese it would have been so much worse.
Why did they do that?
I spent a whole year in prison protesting; I didn't stop. They were
finding it impossible to contain me because they don't know how to sit
down and listen to someone. The regime as you know and everybody in
Burma knows, will not listen to anyone. The solution is always to come
back with violence. And by coming back with violence they can, for the
meantime, think they are in control in the country. But they are not;
they are just building up a problem that is going to explode. With me,
they avoided the violence as long as they could because they were scared
of the international response. But at the end of the day they didn't
know what to do. They thought they could shut me up like that. But even
after three days, I was still saying that I was going to continue. Then
they said, " we're sorry; we're not going to do it again. What is your
point? What do you want to say? We will take it to the higher
authorities." They were probably lying.They made a mistake by drawing so
much attention to themselves on their brutality
We also heard that last December that you had a hunger strike demanding
to release Min Ko Naing. Can you tell us a bit about this?
The first time was the 7 day hunger strike and in March and April there
was a 20 day hunger stike. One day for each day of Min Ko Naing's 20
year sentence. Basically throughout my involvement with Burma, I have
been so inspired by the courage of those I met, and those I haven't met,
but only read and heard about. I just know that I am not suffering out
there and that there are people in far worse conditions. I believe Min
Ko Naing keeps strong in prison. I have heard of his resistance.
I don't want the outside world to say, "look here is a white man who
spent one year in prison." Min Ko Naing has done more than 11 years in
solitary, and there were 6 men in Keng Tung prison who were there for
life. That means until they die, not 25 years. I want to bring the
attention of the West to this; to shake them up and say, "what are you
doing in England or America that is as important as the injustice
happening in Burma?"
Min Ko Naing is a huge inspiration to me.
Can you tell me breifly about your daily life in prison?
To try to keep a rutine. To do a lot of exercise in the morning. I was
lucky enough, due to British and Australian Counsellor staff, to have a
bible in my cell. Later I was able to get quite a few books. To be able
to read and to pray. I got a book from the authorities on the Mingla
Suit; the 38 points of the Mingla Suit. It is brilliant; it is truth. It
sounds foolish to say, but if only people respect the truth of Buddhism
because the regime chokes out so much propaganda. They want to give the
impression they are Buddhist, but they are not; they are evil. Buddhism
is so true. I am a Christian, but I see them both as paths to the truth.
So, in my cell it would basically pray, exercise, and read.
Were you able to meet other prisoners?
Not really, but there were of course a lot of people guarding me because
the regime are so paranoid and stupid. They could have had one guard
outside my cell, but there were up to 12 at the time, and I am sure the
guards were there to watch each other rather than watch me. Some of them
helped me just by a smile. It was good to get to know some of these
prisoners and guards over the year, and they kept me alive.
You, the DVB, are broadcasting to Keng Tung prison. Please give the
message to the prisoners and guards, who might not even know they were
helping me, that just a kind word or a kind smile meant the world to me.
Burma means the world to me, and I don't want to be a stupid white guy
charging in and who doesn't understand the problems. When Burmese people
treat me with kindness......
We will definately convey the message. Why are you risking your life for
I believe that I will live. I believe I can do more alive than dead, and
I am very very careful. I know what the outside people think, "he is
cracy; he is taking big risks," but I am extremely careful about what I
On my journey from Thailand to Moulmein I had the best help in the world
from the KNU and other people who helped get me to Moulmein. I could
trust them absolutely. There is no way they would allow harm to come to
me. They are the funniest soldiers I ever met; they are brilliant, and I
could trust them and the members of the ABSDF, who have helped me in
tight spots and the KNPP. So I don't really fear for my life, but the
reason I am committed to Burma is two reasons.
One is the inspiration of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who I think the whole
world should value for what she is teaching us and showing us.
The other is individuals that I have met first of all on the Burma-Thai
border, but also elsewhere in Burma. They are dedicating their lives. I
have seen the injuries they have from bullets. I have seen the dead
bodies and the dying bodies. These people that the world is not hearing
about, who with such amazing courage and dedication, obviously to their
own country, are far more important to me, or far more of an inspiration
to me, than when I look around London or England. In this country we are
missing the point. The freedom and truth is everything, and it is worth
all of your dedication. From what I have learnt in Burma, I would even
now like to help my own country to focus on the essentials of life,
which is to fight for your dignity and truth. The Burmese have taught me
and helped me far more than I have done for Burma.
Yesterday during the press conference you charged the regime for
committing genocide. Can you tell a little more about it?
Saying genocide is not an exaggeration; it is not just throwing around a
word. What is happening in Burma is genocide. There is a legal
definition, and there are five criteria. Any one of these criteria prove
genocide. What is happening in Burma satisfies three of these criteria.
I would prefer if you talk to someone like Lord Alton of the Jubilee
Campaign who understands far more than I about international law. But
they have shown me proof that I cannot repeat now; legal arguements.
What is happening is genocide, and of course the Western governments are
reluctant to admit that, because then they must act or else they have no
moral authority in our country. We will say to them, "what is the point
of admitting this is genocide if you will not take international strong
action?" If we can push our government to admit the truth, and to look
at the facts that this is genocide. Our country is changing too, and we
need to shape them up. Lets tell the British people to obey the facts
and take consequences for those facts, which means we have a duty to use
force on the SPDC because they are breaking international law, and for
me, more importantly, they are breaking every moral law and God's law.
What they are doing is wicked, and the way to stop that is through legal
means; possibly through the UN. Preferably, the SPDC will disappear and
the NLD and CRPP are established as governments in Burma
Upon your release, did you have to sign any paper that you are not going
back to Burma?
Not at all. They wanted me to sign something, but there was no way that
I would sign anything for the whole 416 days I was there. I refused to
sign anything even just the list of inventory. I said, " Look you are
not the government. " On my first day of arrest during the
interrogation, I said, " You do not represent the government. You are
illegal, anti-constitutional, terrorist thugs. You are wicked, and I am
not going to sign anything. I am not even going to answer your
questions. The NLD is government, and I will answer questions from a
representative of them or a judge or a policeman appointed by them in
the court." When they asked me if I was quilty or not, I said " you are
not a judge and this is not a court, and I will not recognise the SPDC's
authority because they are anti-constitutional. I will recognise the
NLD. " I said that in court clearly three times. On the court record
they wrote down that I pleaded guilty and understood the charges. They
lied so much, they broke their own law. They said I pleaded guilty to
three charges. They only levelled two charges in the court room and then
added on my previous sentence later.
I would sign nothing, and I would never bow the knee to that regime.
After two months in Insein prison I basically got a big help from God. I
will never bow the knee to the junta, I will never recognise them
because they are not the government. They are an army; they have no
legal, moral or constitutional authority. A representative of the junta
said to me at Rangoon airport, when I was handed over to my Ambassadors,
" will you sign this paper?" I said "no, " and he said, "are you willing
to go back to Keng Tung?" I said, " yes, I will do another year. Send on
the next plane back to prison. I am not signing your paper." The
Ambassadors did great work to make sure they could not argue with that.
So they were trying up to the last minute to make you sign something?
I think eventually the Ambassadors signed it saying that Mawdsley has
read this document. They wanted us to say that I had understood it, but
I don't understand their lies. They could have sent me back to prison,
and I wouldn't care. I wasn't going to sign.
After being in prison for more than 400 days, did you hear any news
about yourself being in prison or about the people demonstrating
Obviously I don't want to make life difficult for anyone there now, but
I did get messages from DVB and BBC, and it gave me great encouragment.
I love Burma. A lot of people in Europe don't understant why I did it. I
think most people in Burma understand perfectly, because we all know how
unjust and oppressive the regime is, and there has to be protest against
it. When a Burmese person protests, and they do, they are in for a
terrible time. But when a Westerner protests, we has so much protection,
and live in much better conditions for the very short time we are in
prison compared to what the Burmese go through. So, when I get messages
about what the DVB and the BBC are reporting, that makes me very happy.
Are you going back to Burma again?
I will never drop this cause before Burma has democracy, and I don't see
how I can stay away from Burma once it has democracy. Then I will be
over very soon. I don't know what will happen if I go back to Burma or
not. I don't think there is any need for me to go back to prison; I
don't think that will be helpful. The main reason I went was that I
wanted to understand why and how the junta is doing what it is doing.
How can such an eveil organisation exist? It comes about to untruth;
people who say there is no fighting in Burma. I have walked through the
Karen and Karenni states and I have seen bullets going over my head,
granates exploding, people shot and killed. I know there is fighting and
hundred thousands of displaced people and refugees, and yet the regime
is saying there is no fighting. If everyone rejected their lies solely
for the truth they couldn't exist, because people at lower ranks are
willing to accept their lies and repeat them. But the reason they do
that is because of fear. Even people in the West do the same because in
my country we are afraid to loose our material advantage; afraid to
loose our wealth; afraid to loose our safety.
Therfore, we make the lie that the Burmese people have made their
problem and it is their job to sort it out. That is a lie. The whole
world has made that problem because the whole world supplies the junta
with fighter planes, automatic weapons, and with internet technology for
communication and satellite phones. So, the junta has this massive
technological advantage over the people, so they can crack down with
real brutality. The world has a duty to sort out this problem, and yet
we in my country tell the lie that it is not our problem because we are
afraid, not of violence, but of loosing our comfort. So, it requires
every single person in every country to try their best to stick to the
truth and to give as much as they can. Although we face different
penalties for our stands, I don't want to die, so I am not going to
fight till the death without being sensible about what is the best
approach. If you die you die, but be sensible about what you can do.
There were people in the prison, the ABSDF, KNPP and KNU members, that
are standing up for truth, and they are saying the truth. That is what
you do at the DVB- giving the truth back into Burma in your own way. It
is so important to be as truthful as you can in the reports. This is
what will change the whole situation in Burma - the VOA, DVB, RFA, and
the BBC. If they can broadcast the truth of the situation it will bring
massive change. Most of all police officers, prison officers and
soldiers need to start living truthfully and should be saying, "my
orders are illegal, immoral and unjust, and I will not carry them out
even if it means no more promotion for me; even if it means I will loose
my job; even if it means I will go to prison, I am not going to obey
these orders. I want to obey the Lord Buddha, because if we obey him
things will be fine." But you can only do that as an individual. I can't
complain that the world has problems, I can only deal with the problems
that I have inside me. One year in solitary confinement is a good way
for me to try to make myself a little bit more humble and a bit less
Do you have any plans of sueing the Burmese government?
Really I can't speak about the future. The pressure for change in Burma
must be relentless and increasing, and I will be part of that.
_____________________ OTHER ______________________
Free Burma Coalition: Burma Talk: This Thursday at G'town University
Find Out What YOU Can Do To Support Burma's Struggle for Freedom,
Democracy, and Human Rights
Come Listen to Two Speakers -- Kyaw Thura and Michelle Keegan -- Discuss
The Situation in Burma
Thursday, October 26th 7-9 pm
White-Gravenor 201 A
Georgetown University, 3700 O. St., NW
Sponsored by the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and the Free Burma
Kyaw Thura: The United Nations says his country's dictators sponsor
murder, torture, rape and mass killing. His true elected leader, 1991
Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, remains under arrest in Burma.
Kyaw Thura, one of the leaders of Burma's democracy movement, had just
graduated from high school and awaited entrance into a university in
1988. Frustrated and angered by the execution of a student by military
police, Kyaw Thura joined organized and joined student demonstrations
and served as a member of his Township Student Union, supporting Aung
San Suu Kyi, a woman who would eventually win the Nobel Peace Prize in
1991. Secretly organizing students in and around Rangoon he smuggled
statements, pamphlets, and posters about democracy throughout the city
Michelle Keegan: She was a American Univeristy student, imprisoned in
Burma and sentenced to five years in prison with hard labor for
distributing pro-democracy leaflets in Burma's capital. Below is an
brief CNN transcript regarding Keegan.
The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive
coverage of news and opinion on Burma (Myanmar) from around the world.
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx
For a subscription to Burma's only free daily newspaper, write to:
You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:
Voice mail or fax (US) +1(202) 318-1261
You will be prompted to press 1 for a voice message or 2 to send a fax.
If you do neither, a fax tone will begin automatically.
Fax (Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143
T O P I C A The Email You Want. http://www.topica.com/t/16
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Your Favorite Topics