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BurmaNet News: November 7, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 7, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 07 Nov 2000 14:41:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________November 7, 2000 Issue # 1657__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AFP: Myanmar junta makes last-ditch attempt to head off ILO sanctions
*AP: Official: Three injured as Myanmar troops fight with Karen rebels
*Myanmar Times : Dalton to leave town
*Taipei Times: Burmese scholar drops integrity to rewrite country's
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta and Wa continue buildup
*Mizzima: Chins from Burma stranded in a Pacific Island Chins from Burma
stranded in a Pacific Island
*Bangkok Post: Tourism hit by fighting, casino ban
*Xinhua: Myanmar-Japan Business Committee Meeting Held in Yangon
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AFP: Myanmar junta makes last-ditch attempt to head off ILO sanctions
Tuesday, November 7 7:44 PM SGT
YANGON, Nov 7 (AFP) - The Myanmar government said Tuesday it had issued
a powerful directive banning forced labor, in a sign of its deep concern
over sanctions threatened by the International Labor Organisation (ILO).
The decree from the feared State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
represents the highest level order available in the military-run country
and backs a Home Ministry directive on the same issue.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win said the SPDC handed down the
directive on November 1 in line with a request from the ILO team which
visited last month to assess Myanmar's progress in stamping out forced
"There are some points that the ILO wanted spelled out in detail -- that
forced labor is illegal and an offence under existing law," he told AFP.
"This order has been circulated right down to the village level and
posted in every police station," he said.
"It states that all responsible persons including the armed forces,
police and local authorities should not requisition forced labor."
The ILO's governing body is now meeting in Geneva to consider the team's
report and decide how far Myanmar has gone towards complying with
recommendations it laid down two years ago.
If Myanmar is found not to have done enough, the ILO could bring down a
range of measures, including further sanctions from its member nations
that could deal a mortal blow to the already decrepit economy.
The deliberations come at a time when the junta is already under intense
pressure from the United Nations to fall into line with the
international community or risk being permanently branded a pariah
By all accounts, the military government is taking the ILO's threat very
seriously and has repeatedly said it is willing to cooperate.
Khin Maung Win said that with the decree from the SPDC, Myanmar had now
done everything possible to convince the ILO it was serious about
eliminating forced labor.
"I am convinced that the government is showing the necessary political
will to ensure there are no more instances of forced labor," he said.
"But how the governing body will decide is hard to forecast. We hope for
the best but we are prepared for the worst."
The minister said another cause for concern was that Myanmar was not
even sure what punishment it could face if the ILO decision went against
"No one in the ILO really knows what the implications are because there
is no precedent for such a resolution," he said.
Myanmar still refuses to officially admit that forced labor is a
problem, despite reams of evidence from rights groups and a 1998 ILO
committee of inquiry which found the practice was "widespread and
Refugees who escape over the border in Thailand tell depressingly
consistent accounts of military raids on villages, where even the old
and infirm are rounded up and put to work carrying weapons and supplies.
While their crops wither and livestock die, they are forced to work long
hours for no pay and insufficient food. And in the worst cases, those
who are unable to keep up are beaten or killed.
The SPDC directive is seen as speaking directly to the powerful military
commanders fighting insurgencies in Myanmar's north that the brutal
practice will not be tolerated.
Some commanders have argued that "portering" is a traditional practice
that has been going on for centuries and which is vital to the
operations of the cash-strapped military.
AP: Official: Three injured as Myanmar troops fight with Karen rebels
Nov 7, 2000
MAE SOT, Thailand (AP)
Myanmar troops attacked an ethnic Karen rebel base with artillery and
mortar during heavy fighting that left three Karen villagers injured,
officials said Tuesday. A Thai official said about 20 shells landed on
Thai soil during the fighting Monday between the rebel Karen National
Union and Myanmar government soldiers. The fighting occurred in a
Myanmar border area opposite Phop Phra district of Thailand's
northwestern Tak province, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of
No Thais were reported injured, the official said, but one ethnic Karen
women was seriously wounded and two other Karen men suffered minor
injuries after the two sides exchanged fire throughout the evening.
The three people were brought to Thailand for treatment, said the
official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
A senior KNU official, who did not want to be named, claimed 12 Myanmar
soldiers were killed and nine wounded in the fighting. . The figures
could not be independently confirmed. The KNU's claims in the past have
sometimes turned out to be exaggerated. The KNU official said two
Myanmar battalions attacked the KNU camp at Wei Na Na Hta, using 81 mm
and 60 mm mortars. The Karens claim to have held the base. The Myanmar
government was not immediately available for comment. The end of the
rainy season, which began in July and tails off in late October, has
heralded a new round of fighting with the KNU, which has been battling
for greater autonomy in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for five decades.
Since last week, hundreds of forces from the Myanmar army and the
allied Democratic Karen Buddhist Army have been launching attacks on KNU
bases near the border.
The KNU once controlled a huge part of eastern Myanmar but in recent
years lost its last enclaves along the border with Thailand. Its forces,
thought to number 2,000 to 3,000, now fight in mobile guerrilla units.
Most ethnic armies have reached cease-fires with the military regime of
Myanmar, but the KNU has held out, saying it will only give up its armed
struggle if its political rights are guarantee.
Myanmar Times : Dalton to leave town
THE Chief Technical Advisor of the WA Alternative Development Project,
John Dalton, is leaving his post just short of the end of his two-year
contract.Mr Dalton was instrumental in setting up and managing the first
phase of the Wa project. Implemented in 1998 it was the first of its
kind in the Wa Special Region 2.
"It has been a very positive experience working with the Wa community
and Myanmar professionals," Mr Dalton said."I think that we have laid
the foundations of an excellent project. The team that remains is
extremely capable and, providing that they get strong support from the
institution involved, particularly the UNDCP, the Wa Authorities and the
Government of Myanmar, then the project will continue to support the Wa
objective of eliminating opium poppy cultivation in the area by 2005."
An independent evaluation of the project conducted in April determined
that it had been well established, and should be continued. The project
is funded by the US and Japanese governments. Additional contributions
for the second phase of the project are currently being sought.Mr
Dalton's contract was due to expire at the end of this year.He will be
replaced by Frenchman Xavier Bouan.
Taipei Times: Burmese scholar drops integrity to rewrite country's
A close friend of the country's ruling junta, academic and former
president of Burma Maung Maung has written a revisionist take on the
1988 uprising that rocked the world.
By Bertil Lintner
Taipei Times, Nov 6, 2000.
In August 1988, millions of people took to the streets of Burma's
capital Rangoon (now called Myanmar and Yangon by its military regime),
and every town and major village across the country.
They demanded an end to 26 years of military-dominated dictatorship, and
to a disastrous economic policy called "The Burmese Way to Socialism,"
which had turned what used to be Southeast Asia's most prosperous
country into an economic and social wreck.
What had begun as peaceful demonstrations turned into a bloodbath when
the military stepped in, first to crush the demonstrations in early
August and, when that failed, again on Sept.18 to reassert power.
On both occasions, thousands of unarmed demonstrators were gunned down
in massacres far bloodier than China's more publicized crackdown on its
pro-democracy movement a year later.
Dr Maung Maung, who served as Burma's president for a month during the
upheaval of August-September 1988, purports to chronicle these dramatic
events in this book.
But it is more an attempt to rewrite history, a white-wash of one of the
most brutal massacres in modern Asian history. More precisely, it is a
blind eulogy to Burma's ageing strongman Ne Win, and Maung Maung's
reverence for the "Old Man" is extended even to his children and
grandchildren. For these reasons alone, Maung Maung's book is worth
reading because it shows how far an academic sycophant is prepared to go
to please his mentor.
One of the worst examples of a deliberate distortion of history is Maung
Maung's version of Ne Win's infamous warning in July 1988 to the
increasingly restless people of Burma, who by then had begun to protest
against the old order: "As for the control of civil disturbances, I have
to inform the people that when the army shoots, it shoots to hit, it
doesn't fire into the air to scare. Therefore, I warn those causing
disturbances that they will not be spared if in the future the army is
brought in." However, Maung Maung quotes Ne Win as saying: "Soldiers are
trained to shoot straight on order, not overhead into the air. Let those
inclined to anarchy be duly warned: if they have to face the troops it
will be no laughing matter."
But then the army didn't use violence at all. In Maung Maung's bizarre
interpretation of what happened in Rangoon 12 years ago, some Buddhist
monks opened fire on "looters." The president at that time and Maung
Maung's predecessor as head of state, Sein Lwin, who became universally
known as "the Butcher of Rangoon" for his role in the killings, was "as
soft as soft could be."
The people of all ages who in 1988 risked their lives to demand
political and economic change are called "hooligans, looters, arsonists,
headhunters" and the only reason why the world paid any attention to the
upheavals was because "sensational news was not breaking out elsewhere
in the world in 1988."
But despite such far-fetched interpretations, the book contains precious
little about the events of 1988. Nearly three quarters of the text is a
glowing account of Ne Win and his efforts to build up Burma's armed
forces to a formidable and "responsible" institution. It is even
questionable whether the title of the book, "The 1988 Uprising in
Burma," is Maung Maung's own. Nowhere in the text does he call the
events of 1988 an "uprising." Instead, he uses "the disturbances" and
similar terms to describe the events of 1988, echoing the military
regime's own description of the popular uprising.
It is far more likely that the title was given by the American scholar,
Franklin Mark Osanka, who met Maung Maung in Burma in the mid-1990s and
then obtained the original manuscript. Osanka's foreword to the book
also reveals some astonishing ignorance about Burma and Maung Maung.
Osanka, for instance, believes that Maung Maung was elected President of
the Union of Burma on Aug. 18, 1988. Maung Maung was appointed -- not
elected -- president on Aug. 19 by the inner circle of the then besieged
ruling party, the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP).
This is a very sad book. Under different circumstances, an obviously
intelligent and well-educated person such as Maung Maung could have been
an outstanding scholar. But he decided to adjust his scholarship to
please one of Asia's cruelest dictators and, in the process, to become a
defender of mass murder. It is perhaps even more astonishing that Yale
University's Southeast Asia Program, a respectable institution, chose to
publish this book without a serious and objective commentary.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta and Wa continue buildup
6 November 2000
No: 11 - 5
Rangoon and Wa forces are building up their positions along the border,
said sources coming across the border.
On Saturday (4 November), 100-strong unit from LIB 330 (Mongphyak)
arrived in Khailong, opposite Pang Mapha District of Maehongson. LIB
329 (also Mongphyak) at least 100 - strong, was already there in the
area in order to check the movements of Yawdserk's Shan State Army that
was reported to be active in the area.
Since 26 October, minor clashes have been reported, prompting the local
junta command to force the local populace to stand sentinel over the
Nakawngmu-Homong road, west of Mongton.
It was also confirmed by another source close to the Wa army that Gen
Khin Nyunt, the powerful Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC), has assigned the United WA State Army to cooperate in
the border security and "development" during the meeting with Pao
Yuchang, the Wa commander-in-chief in mid October. (Gen. Khin Nyunt was
attending the joint military drills at the time, according to S.H.A.N.
report # 10 - 11).
The Wa leader was reported to have asked Gen Khin Nyunt whether he was
trying to destroy both the Shans and Was indirectly to which the latter
denied saying his motive was sincere.
The source from the Wa said, "No matter what the agreements are between
Rangoon and Panghsang, it is up to the SSA that will decide whether or
not the Wa should declare war on them. So far the SSA has not managed
to convince the UWSA that its intentions towards the latter are not
The source confirmed the Wa actively took part in the 22-23 September
fight that erupted between the junta and Shan forces near Loihtwe,
between Thailand's Chiangdao District and Shan State's Mongton
Township. "We lobbed most of our grenades against them, but they were
lucky that few exploded," he said. "The reason is we are still equipped
with our arsenal of the Loilang Battle(1982 - 96)."
The Wa would henceforth be jointly responsible for security from Mongton
in the east to Mae Aw in the west, where Shan State, Thailand and the
Karenni meet, he said.
Mizzima: Chins from Burma stranded in a Pacific Island Chins from Burma
stranded in a Pacific Island
New Delhi, November 7, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
Hundreds of Chin who fled from military repression in Burma are stranded
in a small island in the Pacific Ocean, where they continue to face
uncertain future, said Canada-based Chin Human Rights Organization
About three hundreds Chins are taking shelter in Guam, a small island of
United StateÆs territory in the Pacific Ocean. They claim that they fled
from the brutal repression in Burma, a South East Asian country
presently ruled by the military.
The Chin asylum-seekrs, which include Church leaders, doctors, teachers
and political activists, are waiting for their application for refugee
status to be determined by the United States Immigration and
Naturalization Service (USINS).
The Guam authority detains some of them for illegal entry into the
territory. Majority of them survive only with the help of local
Christian Churches and support from Chin community around the world,
said CHRO in its Rhododendron Human Rights News Letter issued in
ôWe have nowhere to go. We faced rampant human rights violations in our
home country. We canÆt even conduct worship service without their (the
military authority) permission. The people are living in constant fear
of the Military Intelligence Serviceö, said a Chin asylum-seeker from
Guam, who is being charged with illegal entry by the Guam authorities.
It is not known clearly how they landed in this remote island of Pacific
Bangkok Post: Tourism hit by fighting, casino ban
November 6, 2000
Local tourism has dropped by two-thirds because of fighting across the
border in Burma and strict measures to prevent Thais from visiting a
casino in Myawaddy.
Samart Loyfa, Mae Sot district chief, said 500-600 tourists used to
visit the weekend Ban Rim Moei market, near the Thai-Burmese Friendship
Bridge. Last weekend there were only about 200.
He blamed the decrease on a clash last month between the army and
Burmese soldiers in Umphang district, which claimed the life a Thai
A battle between Burmese troops and the Karen National Union opposite
Phop Phra district was another cause for concern.
A National Security Council ban on Thais from outside Tak crossing the
border in Mae Sot, to prevent people visiting the casino, was also
having an effect.
Pol Capt Sombat Phannarong, owner of Umphang Hill Resort, said 200
tourists have cancelled trips to the area because of the fighting.
Only 70 people had confirmed their bookings.
"Some tourists have cancelled bookings to visit Thi Lor Su waterfall
because they believe it is near the war zone. "They are actually 30km
apart," he said.
Junta troops attack Karen strongpoint
Tak - Burmese soldiers from the 2nd infantry battalion attacked a Karen
National Union position at Waley Khee, about 10km from the Thai border,
A KNU source said four Burmese soldiers were killed and one Karen
trooper wounded in the clash, opposite Phop Phra district.
About 500 Burmese soldiers moved against the strongpoint under the
protection of an artillery barrage, the source said. The Karen were
commanded by Maj Nada, son of Gen Bo Mya, the KNU military leader.
The source said the Burmese recruited villagers from Palu Camp, opposite
Mae Sot district, to transport weapons and supplies during the
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Xinha: Myanmar-Japan Business Committee Meeting Held in Yangon
Xinhua, Rangoon, 4 November 2000. A business cooperation
committee of Myanmar and Japan Federations of Chambers of
Commerce and Industries (CCI) reviewed their cooperation in the last few
years at a coordination meeting held here.
The third meeting, attended by officials of the two federations of CCI,
discussed issues on trade and investment, nurturing of small-and
medium-sized businesses, human resources
development and previous agreements reached between them.
The meeting will also lay down future plans for their cooperation.
Speaking at the opening session of the coordination meeting on Friday,
Myanmar Minister of Hotels and Tourism and Acting Minister of Commerce
Major-General Saw Lwin said Myanmar is inviting investment and
technology of Japan to develop the country by exploiting its rich
natural resources, adding that profits will be shared equally among the
The business cooperation committee of the Myanmar-Japan federations of
CCI was established in February 1998, aimed at enhancing bilateral
economic cooperation between the two countries.
During the past four years, Japan's investment in Myanmar dropped from
72.148 million U.S. dollars in fiscal year 1996-97 to 26.85 million in
1997-98, to 4.69 million in 1998-99 and to 5.095 million in 1999-2000
which ended in March, according to official statistics.
However, Japan's total investment injected into Myanmar so far amounted
to 232.88 million dollars since late 1988 when Myanmar opened to
foreign investment, ranking the ninth in foreign investor line-up.
Meanwhile, Myanmar-Japan bilateral trade was valued at 321.92 million
dollars in 1999-2000, accounting for 8.44 percent of Myanmar's total
foreign trade in the year.
Japan stands as Myanmar's fourth largest trading partner after
Singapore, Thailand and China.
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