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BurmaNet News: December 6, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: December 6, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2000 04:35:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________December 6, 2000 Issue # 1677_________
NOTED IN PASSING: ?700,000 to 800,000"
The number of persons in Burma infected with HIV/AIDs. See Channel
NewsAsia: AIDS blooming in Myanmar, threat to Southeast Asia
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Channel NewsAsia: AIDS blooming in Myanmar, threat to Southeast Asia
*Shan Human Rights Foundation: November Report?excerpts
*Los Angeles Times: America Waits; Seminole Ballot Challenger Paid for
*Agence France Presse: : Japan to work out support for Myanmar reforms
within two years
*Kyodo: Japan, Burma discuss economic support, USA unhappy
*CAW: Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi to receive Canadian Auto Workers
union Human Rights Award
*Bangkok Post: Soldiers to have Burmese lessons
*Bangkok Post: Chettha meets junta to boost party ties
*The Nation: Yunnan plans road link to SE Asia
*AP Online: Anti-Mine Campaigners Renew Pressure
*Reuters: Landmines kill Bangladeshis along Myanmar border
*Foreign ministers head to icebreaking EU-ASEAN meeting
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Machinery Equipment Import Drops 9 Percent in Eight
*Wall Street Journal: Suing Suu Kyi
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Channel NewsAsia: AIDS blooming in Myanmar, threat to Southeast Asia
December 4, 2000 Monday
A health crisis is brewing in Myanmar.
Experts monitoring the country's AIDS epidemic said it was now the
fastest growing in Southeast Asia.
In the northern rice fields, farmers are sowing their second crop of the
But underlying these tranquil rural scenes, Myanmar is sitting on a
major health crisis.
Those monitoring the problem said it had reached epidemic proportions.
A survey in 1995 predicted that half a million people in Myanmar would
have HIV/AIDS by this year.
That number now looks conservative.
Dr Chris Beyer, Johns Hopkins University, said: "Unfortunately, epidemic
is exactly the right word. It is much more on the order of 700,000 to
800,000 cumulative infections. And there have already been 50,000 to
100,000, if not many more, deaths."
In a school for girls, health educators battle to get the safe sex
message out, despite cultural sensitivities.
Dr Nyun Nyun, AIDS educator, said: "Your body is what your valuable.
Your life is of value. Keep your value and you keep your head up."
At an annual festival, men dressed as women dance in a public display of
High risk sexual activity is prevalent there, but the promotion of
condoms is not allowed.
AIDS is not an issue Yangon's military rulers want out in the open.
Not only are they playing down the problem, they are also reluctant to
disclose the extent of the epidemic.
The rest of the world is also refusing to deal with the government,
making it difficult for international health educators to do their job.
The disease tends to spread along truck routes, with the highest
incidents of HIV occurring on the country's border.
Myanmar, which until now has labelled HIV/AIDS a foreign disease, is now
at the epicentre of an epidemic, and this could mean trouble for its
Shan Human Rights Foundation: November Report?excerpts
On 16 November 2000, the International Labour Organization
called for its member nations to impose sanctions against the Burmese
military regime because of its widespread use of forced labour. The
junta strongly denounced this move, insisting that it had taken
"concrete and detailed legislative, executive and administrative
measures (...) in accordance with the ILO Convention No. 29 on forced
SHRF wishes to comment that it has seen no evidence of any
effort on the part of the junta to decrease its use of forced labour in
Shan State. SHRF newsletters in recent months, including this month,
indicate that forced labour is still rampant.
This month SHRF wishes to draw attention to the continued use
of one kind of forced labour by the junta, namely "forced portering".
This issue details the brutal killing of two elderly porters who could
no longer carry their loads in Murng-Nai township.
"Forced portering" is one of the worst forms of forced labour
in which civilian porters are forced to carry heavy loads and walk long
distances with little rest and food, often for several days.
With the escalation of a dry season offensive by the junta
against the Shan State Army along the Thai border, reports have reached
SHRF that porters have been used to carry supplies for the junta's
This has been the practice of the junta's troops for decades
and there is no sign that they have changed their tactics, despite the
ruling of the ILO.
CIVILIAN PORTERS SHOT DEAD IN MURNG-NAI
On 16.10.00, a patrol of about 30 SPDC troops from
Kun-Hing-based LIB524 led by Capt. Win Maung conscripted 18 civilian
porters, including young and old men, from some villages in Kaeng Tawng
area in Murng-Nai township and forced them to carry their things and
continued to patrol the area.
When they came to a field where 6 villagers' draught-oxen were
grazing, the troops shot all the oxen dead and forced the porters to cut
them up and dry the meat. After some time, the troops forced the
civilian porters also to carry the meat back to their base in Kun-Hing
After they had gone some distance, 2 of the porters who were quite old
became too weak and tired to continue carrying the meat, which was 20
viss for each (about 35 kilos). Big drops of sweat ran down their faces
and bodies and they could not go any further and could not speak
properly. Thinking that they were pretending, the troops beat and
kicked both of them, causing them to fall down on the ground.
Since the 2 men could not get up, some of the soldiers took
away the meat and told them to stand up. When they could not do that,
some troops pulled them up by the hands and told them to walk along
with the patrol.
The 2 old men, however, were too weak and were so badly kicked and
beaten up by the troops earlier that they were unable even to walk
slowly on. The commander of the troops then became very angry and said
that the 2 men were defying orders and did not want to even walk slowly
without having to carry anything, and ordered his troops to shoot them.
The 2 porters were shot dead and left on the road.
ARREST, EXTORTION AND FORCED LABOUR IN KAENG-TUNG
On 15.8.00, 7 policemen from the SPDC's People's Police Force
in Kaeng-Tung township arrested 3 villagers at Wan Laao village in Loi
Long tract, Kaeng-Tung township, and locked them up at the police
station in the town.
The 3 men, Zaai Sai, aged 36, Zaai Zaen Sen, aged 30 and Zaai
Peng, aged 25, were Shan farmers who earned a simple living by growing
rice and some other crops and vegetables. They had been arrested on a
charge of dealing in methamphetamine.
Since there was no evidence against them, when the village
headman and some fellow villagers came on 18.8.00 to plead with the
police authorities for the release of the 3 men, stating that they
guaranteed their innocence, the police released them, but only after
the villagers paid 3,000 Kyat to each of the 7 policemen for their time
and effort used in arresting them.
During their detention in the police station, the 3 villagers
were forced to work from 09:00 hrs to 14:00 hrs every day. Each day,
altogether about 11-12 detainees were forced to work in the police
station; doing sanitary work, weeding grass, fetching water and
polishing floors, etc.
FORCED PORTERING USED IN DRUG TRADE IN MURNG-SART
On 28-29.9.00, SPDC troops from IB49 conscripted 17 unpaid
civilian porters from several villages in Murng Lung tract, Murng-Sart
A column of about 60 SPDC troops from the said battalion seized
6 villagers from Wan Long village, 8 villagers from Wan Hung village
and 3 villagers from Wan Pen village in Murng Lung tract to be used as
These villagers were forced to carry heavy bags without knowing
the contents from a remote place north of a village called Nawng Leo
down to Phak Tu Murng village near the main road.
The 2 places were quite distant and the villagers could transport
the mysterious bags only 1 time per day. It took them 2 whole days to
carry all the bags that had been forced on them.
The bags the porters had to carry on their soldiers were about
half the size of a regular rice sack and the contents were felt like
some sort of seeds or grains, and were quite heavy.
It was later learned by some of the porters that the contents
were hundred of thousands of amphetamine tablets, produced at some
remote places in the jungle in Murng Kok & Murng Lung areas by some
dealers, but actually protected by SPDC troops.
In this particular shipment, the merchandise was produced and
owned by a Chinese trader named Aa Jung. The SPDC soldiers were taking
responsibility for the safe passage of the drugs.
Some SPDC authorities are making good money from giving
protection to the drug trade, and more so by using free forced labour.
Los Angeles Times: America Waits; Seminole Ballot Challenger Paid for
December 5, 2000, Tuesday, Home Edition
SCOTT GOLD, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The attorney behind a lawsuit charging that Republican operatives
altered flawed absentee ballot request forms in Seminole County spent
more than $ 100,000 on Al Gore's campaign, including as much as $ 60,000
on a television spot attacking Dick Cheney.
Details of Harry Jacobs' involvement in the Gore campaign--and the
extent to which he has sought advice from Gore representatives--were
revealed in a transcript of a deposition obtained Monday night. The
deposition, which hints at questions Bush lawyers are likely to pursue
when the case goes to trial Wednesday, was taken Saturday in Orlando,
In the deposition, Jacobs said he spent as much as $ 60,000 this year
financing a television spot attacking Cheney's business dealings at
Halliburton Co., the oil services firm he headed until he became the
Republican vice presidential candidate. The company dealt extensively in
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which has well-documented human rights
violations, including forced labor.
Jacobs and his West Palm Beach attorney, Gerald F. Richman, have also
said repeatedly that they are acting on their own--that no one from the
Gore campaign has been involved in their lawsuit.
The deposition does not indicate that Gore's campaign is directly
backing the lawsuit, a notion Republicans would relish proving. But
Jacobs acknowledged that he spoke to several Democratic Party
representatives in mid-November before filing his lawsuit, including
friend Mitchell Berger.
Berger, an influential Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney, is a Gore
campaign insider and fund-raiser.
Jacobs said he discussed with Democratic insiders an election "protest"
that he was preparing to file--a legal precursor to the lawsuit--but not
the lawsuit itself. And he said that he briefly discussed "whether or
not the Democratic Party, I guess Vice President Al Gore . . . would
provide assistance, join this particular lawsuit.
"And they did not, have not, would not," Jacobs said.
"Have they encouraged you or discouraged you?" asked GOP attorney Terry
Young, who is representing the Seminole County election canvassing
"Neither," Jacobs said.
The election supervisor in Seminole County, an elected Republican, has
conceded that she let two GOP operatives use her office to correct the
flawed absentee ballot request forms. Without the corrections, about
2,000 Bush supporters would not have received ballots.
Jacobs is seeking to persuade a Leon County Circuit judge to throw out
all of Seminole County's 15,000 absentee ballots--about two-thirds of
which were cast for Bush.
Agence France Presse: : Japan to work out support for Myanmar reforms
within two years
TOKYO, Dec 5
Japan and Myanmar have agreed to work together to produce a
recommendations on Yangon's economic reforms over the next two years,
the government said Tuesday.
"Japan and Myanmar agreed to aim to make policy suggestions for
structural adjustment within the coming two years," a foreign ministry
The report will be based on the discussions of three working groups
looking at economic and financial, trade and industry, and agricultural
The working groups will be composed of about 40 government officials,
businessmen, and economists from both countries, the official said.
The agreement was reached after two days's of talks here between
officials from Japan's foreign, finance and international trade
ministries and a Myanmar team lead by David Abel, a minister in
Myanmar's ruling body, the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace
No agreement to provide yen loans was made in the course of the
meetings, the foreign ministry official added.
Japan suspended all but a small amount of humanitarian aid to Myanmar in
the aftermath of the 1988 military takeover, but resumed in 1994. Tokyo
agreed in February last year to help finance the reconstruction of
Japan has stated its willingness to increase its supply of humanitarian
aid if the military government embraces reform.
Kyodo: Japan, Burma discuss economic support, USA unhappy
Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0923 gmt 5 Dec 00
Tokyo, 5th December: Japan and Myanmar Burma agreed Tuesday 5th December
to work on creating a report over the coming two years on Japanese
support for economic structural reform in Myanmar, a Japanese Foreign
Ministry official said.
The report will be prepared based on discussions by three bilateral
working groups, covering the fields of finance, industry and trade, and
agriculture and rural community development, the official said.
...The Japanese government argues the kind of support it envisions for
Myanmar would be humanitarian in nature and aimed at creating an
atmosphere that would lead to democracy in the country.
At the time of the Yangon meeting, the United States complained that
Japanese support would mean backing the military government and urged
Japanese officials to meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi while
in the country.
CAW: Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi to receive Canadian Auto Workers
union Human Rights Award
DATELINE: TORONTO, Dec. 5
Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi will receive the
Canadian Auto Workers union first Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award on
Saturday, December 9, 2:00 pm at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto, in front
1,000 CAW delegates gathered for the CAW's Council.
Under house arrest by the military dictatorship that rules Burma
Myanmar by the junta), Aung San Suu Kyi will be unable to accept the
person. The prime minister in exile, Dr. Sein Win of the National
the Union of Burma will receive the award on her behalf. Presenting the
will be Warren Allmand, president of the International Centre for Human
and Democratic Development, a Canadian institution based in Montreal.
The CAW's Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award recognizes "struggle,
and achievement in advancing human rights and social justice."
Aung San Suu Kyi was a founding member of the National League for
Democracy which emerged out of the pro-democracy uprising in Burma in
1988. Since then she has been placed under house arrest many times. In
she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for
democracy and human rights.
As recently as November 2000 the International Labour Organization
invoked Article 33 of its constitution for the first time in its 81 year
history calling on employers and governments to cease any activity with
that could directly or indirectly assist the practice of forced labour
Burma's notorious military and government engages in.
Companies such as Wal-Mart of Canada, Reitman's and Saan stores have
recently come under criticism for importing garments made in Burma.
The CAW commissioned Sylvie Boulanger to create the original
award to be given out once every three years. The union worked with A
Hands, a contemporary craft gallery in Toronto. A photograph of the
attached to this press release.
The Sheraton Centre hotel is located in downtown Toronto at 123
West and the presentation will take place in the lower level ballroom.
CONTACT: Jane Armstrong, CAW Communications Dept., Toronto, (416)
Bangkok Post: Soldiers to have Burmese lessons
Dec. 6, 2000
Soldiers will be taught Burmese and trained in the art of negotiations
to combat a spate of terrorist activities involving Burmese nationals,
says a source at the Supreme Command.
Three incidents involving Burmese criminals highlighted the need for
Thai soldiers to learn Burmese so they could negotiate in that language.
Burmese nationals were involved in the seizure of the Burmese embassy in
October last year, the seizure of the Ratchaburi regional hospital in
January, and last month's jailbreak from Samut Sakhon prison.
Lt-Col Thanongsak Khanongsuek, the only officer fluent in Burmese, has
served as an interpreter for Thai military leaders.
Two soldiers have been sent to Rangoon to study the language, to be
joined by others soon.
Bangkok Post: Chettha meets junta to boost party ties
- Dec 05, 2000.
Rangoon says things to improve after poll
Former army chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro visited Rangoon last week,
apparently to boost the stature of Thai Rak Thai party.
Gen Chettha, contesting the Jan 6 general election on Thai Rak Thai's
party list, met Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt to discuss the situation between
Thailand and Burma, a source said.
The two discussed a proposed road construction project worth more than
US$230 million (9.9 billion baht), fishing concessions and tax cuts for
Thai exporters, the source said.
The 130km road project linking Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri and Burma's
Tavoy is being considered by Myanmar Investment Committee.
Burma revoked fishing concessions for Thai fishermen following the siege
of its embassy in Bangkok by Burmese rebels in October 1999.
The source said Khin Nyunt told Gen Chettha things would change for the
better with a change of government after Thailand's election.
"Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt also wished Thai Rak Thai party and Gen Chettha
success in the election. He hopes things will get better after the
change," the source said.
Gen Chettha, who has maintained close ties with the Burmese military
leader, is placed 17th on Thai Rak Thai's party list.
His visit to Burma is seen as a move to lure support from business
groups with vested interests in Burma.
Gen Chettha is scheduled to help the party's campaign in Ranong during a
rally on Dec 17-18.
Supreme Commander Gen Sampao Chusri and military top brass are scheduled
to visit Rangoon on Dec 12-13.
The Nation: Yunnan plans road link to SE Asia
Dec. 5, 2000
CHINA's southwestern province of Yunnan will become an international hub
for land transportation, linking the country with Southeast Asia and the
sub-continent through a comprehensive network of roads, the state-run
Xinhua news agency quoted provincial governor Li Jiating as saying.
According to the agency, Li said the network would increase the number
of air routes, while the existing roads and railroads, as well as
waterways, would also be enhanced. Li introduced the ambitious plan to
the Beijing government last week, it added.
Moreover, according to Li, Yunnan has been dredging the water channels
running from the Mekong River in order to enhance the navigation system.
The work is also in line with a commitment China has with the Mekong
River Commission, which includes Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Burma.
Beijing will also help Laos and Burma dredge their waterways, in order
to ensure that transport services in the upper reaches of the
4,200-km-long Mekong River can operate as soon as possible.
Li said the highway from Yunnan's capital Kunming to Bangkok was an
important road for both China and Asean in terms of economics and trade.
Chinese authorities have said that once the conditions are ripe, they
would seek support from Thailand and the Asian Development Bank to help
Laos build the remaining 247-km stretch of highway inside Laos, which
has been described as the project bottleneck. The highway is scheduled
to be completed by 2004. Yunnan was dubbed as "The Silk Road of the
South", and served as a strategic international route during World War
AP Online: Anti-Mine Campaigners Renew Pressure
December 4, 2000
Anti-land mine campaigners marked Monday's third anniversary of the
signing of a global treaty to ban the weapons with a call on 54
governments to drop their ''excuses'' for staying out of the accord.
The treaty, clinched in Ottawa, Canada on Dec. 4, 1997, has now been
signed by 139 countries and ratified by 109. It bans stockpiles of mines
and commits nations to destroy stocks within four years and clear all
mines from their territories in 10 years.
The United States, China and Russia among the world's major holders of
land mine stockpiles have yet to sign.
''The civilian victims of land mines are tired of being told excuses,''
Jody Williams, who won the 1997 Nobel Peace prize for campaigning
against land mines, said in a statement.
''They are tired of being told that this nation has unique
circumstances, that that nation has special security requirements,'' she
The United States says it needs land mines to deter North Korea from
invading South Korea. President Clinton wants Washington to approve the
treaty by 2006, but only if the armed forces can produce an alternative.
Russia and China say they need land mines for defensive purposes.
The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines condemned Russia,
Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Congo and Angola which has signed the
treaty for continuing to lay the mines.
It also blasted their use by rebel groups in places including Congo,
Angola, Sudan, Myanmar, Colombia, Chechnya and Kashmir.
Reuters: Landmines kill Bangladeshis along Myanmar border
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Landmines have killed seven
Bangladeshis and four Myanmar nationals along the country's border with
Myanmar in the last month, security officials said on Tuesday.
They said border guards of the two countries recently held a meeting to
discuss the spate of landmine blasts and to find out who laid them and
Foreign ministers head to icebreaking EU-ASEAN meeting
Dec. 5, 2000
SINGAPORE (AP) _ Amid threats of boycotts by his European counterparts,
Singapore's foreign minister announced Wednesday that he will lead a
delegation to a meeting of European Union and Southeast Asian ministers
next week in Vientiane, Laos.
Some EU ministers have threatened not to show up at the meeting if
Myanmar was represented _ in protest of the crackdown on pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Talks between the EU and Association of Southeast Asian Nations were
suspended three years ago when military-ruled Myanmar was admitted to
the Asian block organization.
In a statement, Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar said the meeting next
Monday would strengthen links between ASEAN and Europe.
``The leaders will discuss regional and global political-security
issues, exchange views on the regional and international economic
situation and review ASEAN-EU cooperation,'' said Jayakumar.
During a recent ASEAN meeting in Singapore, the group held steadfast to
its controversial doctrine of non-interference in members' domestic
affairs and defended Myanmar against criticism from the EU.
``If EU wants to exclude Myanmar and the dialogue is going to be called
off, then let it be called off,'' Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
said during the meeting. ``We can't allow an external organization to
dictate who should be in ASEAN.''
Suu Kyi, whose party won general elections in Myanmar in 1990 but was
never allowed to take power, has been kept under virtual house arrest
since Sept. 22 after she made her second bid in a month to travel
outside Yangon on party business.
Dozens of supporters of her National League for Democracy have been
rounded up. NLD vice chairman Tin Oo is being detained at a state guest
house and other party leaders are confined to their homes without
These developments have drawn a barrage of international criticism and
again led to a hardening of opinions in the EU, which had recently said
it didn't want the Myanmar issue to hold relations with ASEAN
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Xinhua: Myanmar's Machinery Equipment Import Drops 9 Percent in Eight
YANGON, December 6
Myanmar's import of machinery equipment, which include electric and
non-electric ones, dropped by 9 percent in the first eight months of
this year, valuing at 481.75 million U.S. dollars as compared with the
same period of 1999, according to the latest figures released by the
country's Central Statistical Organization.
During the period, the import volume of such machinery equipment
accounted for 26.8 percent of the total import volume which was
registered at 1.792 billion dollars.
Of this, the import volume of non-electric machinery and transport
equipment reached 353.45 million dollars, increasing by 6.3 percent as
compared with the corresponding period of 1999.
Meanwhile, the import volume of electrical machinery and apparatus
amounted to 128.3 million dollars, a drop of 31.54 percent from the same
period of 1999.
Myanmar is an agricultural country lacking development in industry. It
has to depend on import for the majority of its different machinery
[BurmaNet adds....One of the best forward looking measures of an
economy?s prospects is its imports/production of machinery equipment
because this kind of machinery is a prerequisite for producing more
goods in the future. Declining imports of machinery is an indication of
a further slowing economy.]
Wall Street Journal: Suing Suu Kyi
Dec. 4, 2000
Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel peace laureate and leading voice of
democracy in Burma, defended herself in court last week against a
lawsuit filed by her older brother, Aung San Oo, a California
businessman sympathetic to the oppressive State Peace and Development
Council. The junta's latest tactic--using the courts as a vehicle to
eradicate the democratic opposition under the guise of protecting
property rights is particularly insidious.
Ms. Suu Kyi's borther is claiming half-ownership of the estate that has
been both her refuge and prison since 1989 when she was first placed
under house arrest. Under Burmese law, inherited property must be
equally divided among siblings. But a 1987 law prohibits foreigners
from placing claims on immovable property in Burma without special
government dispensation. The Home Affairs Ministry granted Ms. Suu
Kyi's American brother an exemption on July 28, according to his lawyer.
It's not hard to see the regime's fingerprints. Ms. Suu Kyi's party
already faces eviction from its
headquarters. The legal moves come amid an especially virulent effort
to break the back of the democracy
movement. Score of NLD organizers and democratic sympathizers have been
intimidated, jailed and beaten
in recent months.
The SPDC may well succeed in shutting down the formal operations of the
NLD, but its doubtful
that this will finally pacify the increasingly impoverished country. No
matter how the military
junta tries, it will not be able to silence voices like Aung San Suu
Kyi, whose party overwhelmingly won
national elections in 1990.
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