[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

BurmaNet News: January 9, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         January 9, 2001   Issue # 1706
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*Bangkok Post: God's Army fighters get ultimatum--Surrender in a week or 
face death hunt

*AP: Myanmar, Suu Kyi have launched talks, U.N. says
*Reuters: Albright unsure if Myanmar-Suu Kyi dialogue genuine
*Xinhua: Annan Urges National Reconciliation in Myanmar
*AP: Bangladesh and Myanmar troops exchange gunfire 
*Reuters: Myanmar suspends dam building on Bangladesh border
*Agence France Presse: Mahathir praises Myanmar junta on return from 

*The Independent (London): The Obsessive Traveller?Burma Update 

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Bangkok Post: God's Army fighters get ultimatum--Surrender in a week or 
face death hunt

 - January 09, 2001.

Wassana Nanuam

The Karen God's Army guerrillas who killed six Thai villagers in Suan 
Phung district of Ratchaburi on Dec 30 have been given a week to 
surrender or they will be tracked down and shot. 

Army chief Gen Surayud Chulanont said the army had contacted the 
guerrillas through their relatives living along the border to turn 
themselves in to Thai authorities within seven days. 

A large number of Karen people would have difficulty crossing the border 
if the attackers did not surrender, as it would be sealed and security 
stepped up, he said. 
According to Gen Surayud, the anti-Rangoon Karen National Union has 
promised to help with the search for the 15 guerrillas, for fear of 
repurcussions from the possible closure of border passes. 

More than 200 villagers staged a rally in front of Suan Phung district 
yesterday to demand the relocation of Karen refugees away from their 

The villagers told the district chief they wanted the refugees removed 
from the camp in Tham Hin village of Suan Phung district. 

They criticised officials of the camp and the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees for negligence of duty, saying many Karen 
refugees entered and left the camp freely. Some reportedly provided food 
supplies to the so-called God's Army. 
District chief Phayakphan Porkaew promised to look into the complaint 
and forward their demand to higher authorities

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AP: Myanmar, Suu Kyi have launched talks, U.N. says 

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Myanmar's military junta and opposition leader 
Aung San Suu Kyi _ bitter rivals since the junta took power 13 years ago 
and violently crushed a democratic uprising _ have launched face-to-face 
talks, the United Nations announced Tuesday. 

 It was the first confirmation that Suu Kyi and the Southeast Asian 
nation's military rulers have ever spoken. 

 The announcement came just hours after U.N. envoy Razali Ismail 
concluded a five-day mission to Myanmar, where he met with the military 
government and with Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace 
Prize winner. 

 ``During his mission, Mr. Razali was able to confirm that the two sides 
had started a direct dialogue since last October,'' U.N. spokesman Fred 
Eckhard said in a statement. He said the sides are ``satisfied with the 
results achieved so far in the area of confidence building'' and are 
expected to start more substantive discussions on national 
reconciliation soon. 

 Stephane Dujarric, another U.N. spokesman, confirmed that Suu Kyi 
herself had taken part in more than one round of talks since October 
with Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, a senior leader in the ruling junta. 

 The talks represent a major advance in relations between the military 
government and Suu Kyi, who has faced years of harassment for her 
attempts to bring democracy to Myanmar. 

 Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military 
continuously since 1962. The current generals took power in 1988, 
gunning down thousands of pro-democracy protesters nationwide. Suu Kyi's 
National League for Democracy was formed two weeks later.
 In 1990, the military leaders organized general elections, and the NLD 
easily won, taking 82 percent of the seats. But the military refused to 
acknowledge the results and yield power. Afterward, NLD members were 
subjected to a nearly constant campaign of harassment and arrests.
 Suu Kyi spent the years from 1989 to 1995 under house arrest on 
trumped-up national security charges. Since her release, her movements 
and activities in Myanmar have been severely restricted. 

 In a cruel test of her commitment, the government in early 1999 refused 
to grant her husband, British academic Michael Aris, a visa to visit 
her, even though he was dying of cancer. The government suggested 
instead that she go to her spouse's side in Britain _ an offer Suu Kyi 
regarded as a one-way ticket to exile. She stayed, and her husband died 
in March of that year. 

 Suu Kyi has been held under virtual house arrest since last fall, when 
she tried to leave Myanmar's capital, Yangon, on party business. 

 Until now, Myanmar's military government has consistently refused to 
negotiate with the opposition if Suu Kyi took part. With word of a 
breakthrough Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged both sides 
to ``seize the momentum and work to achieve national reconciliation in 
Myanmar at an early date,'' Eckhard said.
 Earlier Tuesday, Razali told The Associated Press in Malaysia that his 
mission had been ``very satisfactory'' and that he intended to return 


Xinhua: Annan Urges National Reconciliation in Myanmar

UNITED NATIONS, January 9 (Xinhua) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan 
Tuesday reiterated his call for the government and the National League 
for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar to work toward national reconciliation at 
an early date. His remarks came after the conclusion of a recent trip by 
his special envoy for that country, Razali Ismail. Annan said he was 
"encouraged to learn" that during his visit, Razali was able to confirm 
that representatives of the Myanmar government and Aung San Suu Kyi's 
NLD had started a direct dialogue last October. The two sides in Myanmar 
are "satisfied" with the results achieved so far in the area of 
confidence building and are expected to start more substantive 
discussions shortly, according to U.N. information. 

Aung San Suu Kyi did meet directly with government leader Lt. Gen. Khin 
Nyunt, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday. Razali's visit is his third since 
his appointment last April. He is expected to make another trip to 
Yangon soon, the spokesman said. In May 1990, a general election was 
held by the present Myanmar military government which took power in 
September 1988. In the election, the NLD won the majority of the 
parliamentary seats. It complains that after 10 years the election 
results have not been materialized. Beginning late 1997, the government 
and the NLD have tried several times in vain to have their leaders meet 
formally, as the government insisted on excluding Aung San Suu Kyi from 
the meeting, while the NLD stuck to her inclusion. Meanwhile, the 
government has repeatedly stressed that it is a caretaker or 
transitional government without intending to hold on to power for long.


Reuters: Albright unsure if Myanmar-Suu Kyi dialogue genuine

WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright 
said on Tuesday time would tell if a new dialogue between Myanmar's 
military rulers and pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was 
 ``Obviously we will have to see where it leads and whether it is a 
genuine dialogue, rather than the kinds of patronizing and cruel 
conversations that were evident when I was there,'' Albright said, 
referring to a trip she made to meet Suu Kyi in Yangon in 1995, when she 
was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. 

 The military government, which has stopped Suu Kyi's National League 
for Democracy from governing despite its landslide election victory in 
1990, have held initial direct talks with her and are expected to hold 
more substantive discussions soon, a U.N. spokesman said on Tuesday.
 He was speaking after U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail ended a five-day 
trip to Myanmar saying he was optimistic about prospects for dialogue 
between the 1991 Nobel peace prize winner and the military government. 

 Suu Kyi has experienced years of isolation and harassment at the hands 
of Myanmar's military leadership. She spent six years under house arrest 
by the military until 1995 and three months ago was again padlocked 
inside her house after a nine-day protest against government 
restrictions on her freedom of movement. 

 Albright said the level of the dialogue was important, and it had to be 
one where Suu Kyi was taken seriously.
 She should be ``respected as a political leader and not, as was framed 
to me, as a 'little sister', that they had to take care of by keeping 
her in her house,'' Albright said. 

 Myanmar has faced international condemnation for its treatment of the 
National League for Democracy and its leader Suu Kyi. Razali was the 
first foreign diplomat to see her since she was placed under house 
arrest in September.
 President Bill Clinton's administration has long argued for a dialogue 
between Myanmar's government and the Nobel laureate, leader of the 
National League for Democracy.
 Albright praised U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for sending the 
Malaysian diplomat Razali to Yangon, where he told diplomats he was 
optimistic that political deadlock there could thaw.
 But speculation the restrictions on Suu Kyi would be eased during his 
visit proved groundless. 


AP: Bangladesh and Myanmar troops exchange gunfire 

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Bangladesh and Myanmar border troops exchanged 
gunfire over Myanmar's building of an embankment on a river that divides 
the two neighbors, officials said Tuesday. 

 No casualties were reported during Monday's skirmish along the River 
Naaf that forms part of a 500-kilometer (310-mile) frontier between the 
two countries, Maj. Gen. Fazlur Rahman, head of Bangladesh frontier 
forces, said. 

 The gunfire began after the Myanmar border troops roughed up a 
Bangladeshi guard who had carried a letter protesting the construction 
of the embankment 100 meters (yards) inside Bangladesh , Rahman said.
 In Dhaka, the foreign ministry lodged a protest with Myanmar's 
Ambassador U Ohn Thwin.
 ``We are awaiting reports from our government,'' the Myanmar ambassador 
told reporters after the meeting. 
 Bangladesh has reinforced its 1,000-strong border guards along the 
river, 310 kilometers (200 miles) south of Dhaka. 

 Tension mounted in the region where Bangladesh has put up nearly 22,000 
Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled Myanmar in 1990, accusing the Myanmar 
soldiers of torture and persecution. 



Reuters: Myanmar suspends dam building on Bangladesh border

DHAKA Jan 9 (Reuters) - Myanmar has suspended the construction of a 
controversial dam on a border-river after an exchange of gunfire with 
Bangladesh troops, Bangladesh security officials said on Tuesday. 

 ``The building of the dam has been suspended after Monday's brief 
exchange of fire,'' Colonel Mohammad Shawkat Ali, a sector commander of 
the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border guard, told Reuters. 

 A Bangladesh security official in the border town of Teknaf said troops 
from the two sides briefly exchanged fire across the Naf river, although 
there were no reports of any dead or wounded. 

 ``Myanmar messengers crossed the Naf river into Bangladesh, waving a 
white flag, following the exchange on Monday, and informed us they have 
stopped construction of the dam,'' Ali said.
 Myanmar authorities have released no official statements on the issue 
and could not immediately be reached for comment. 

 Bangladesh Home Minister Mohammad Nasim said he wanted a high-level 
meeting with Myanmar to settle the dispute. 

 ``We are concerned...I have requested the foreign ministry for a 
high-level meeting with Myanmar to settle the dispute. I believe it will 
be settled,'' Nasim told Reuters on Tuesday. Bangladesh officials said 
Myanmar began building the dam last week at Totardia, some 100 km (62 
miles) southeast of the Bangladesh town of Cox's Bazar. 

 They warned the dam could cause flooding and erosion of its territory, 
could damage shrimp farms and also violated a 1962 agreement on the 

 Myanmar Ambassador Tint Lwin was summoned to the foreign office on 
Monday where he was conveyed Bangladesh's concerns, a foreign ministry 
official said. 

 BDR officials said on Monday that more than 1,000 BDR soldiers were 
deployed along the Naf river border where they were facing some 2,000 
Myanmar troops. 

 There are usually just a few hundred soldiers stationed on both sides 
of the border at the Naf river, they said. 

 ``We are ready to defend Bangladesh's interests along the 320 km (200 
miles) border with Myanmar,'' Col. Ali said. 

 The BDR has nearly 40,000 soldiers. 

 The two countries fought a brief border battle in 1967 over a similar 
attempt by Myanmar to build a dam on the Naf.


Agence France Presse: Mahathir praises Myanmar junta on return from 

January 9, 2001, Tuesday 1:09 AM, Eastern Time 


Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad returned Tuesday from a 
week-long visit to Myanmar and praised the military junta's development 

Mahathir, quoted by Bernama news agency, said the purpose of his visit 
was to obtain first-hand information on the situation there. 

"There were reports which we had obtained from other sources which 
showed that things were seemingly bad," he said. 

In fact, he said, the Myanmar government was trying to develop the 
country and its people, especially rural residents. 

The United States and European Union have imposed economic sanctions on 
Myanmar in protest at its human rights record. 

Mahathir said Myanmar has invited more Malaysian investment. 

"They would like Malaysia to study the possibility of investing in 
Myanmar for the processing of raw materials, including fisheries," he 
told a press conference. 

The country, he said, offered much investment potential and Malaysia 
could buy a variety of agricultural produce. 

Mahathir's visit coincided with one by the UN special envoy to Myanmar, 
Razali Ismail, who is a former Malaysian diplomat. 

The two trips, while not officially linked, raised suggestions that 
Malaysia could play a key role in breaking the political deadlock 
between the junta and the oppostion. 

Mahathir gave no indication Tuesday that he had played any political 
role during his visit. 

Razali confirmed that the junta has held secret talks with opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi. 


The Independent (London): the Obsessive Traveller--burma Update 

January 7, 2001, Sunday 

I have been planning to visit Burma for several years and, because it 
has been out of the news for a long time, could you tell me something 
about the current situation. What are the best ways of getting there? 

John Masters 

Hayes, Middlesex 

Phil Haines replies: 

Tourism is the world's fastest-growing industry, representing about 7.5 
per cent of total world trade. Consequently, it has an ever-growing 
responsibility. Travel to Burma is a controversial issue, with the key 
debate being whether to exercise the freedom to travel, or to eschew the 
country on political grounds. 

The question of tourism to Burma is as hotly disputed as its name. The 
ruling military dictatorship changed the name to Myanmar in May 1989, 
but, although recognised by the UN, it is rejected by the elected 
government, that of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. 
The Nobel Peace Prize winner said as recently as January 1999: "I still 
think that people should not come to Burma because the bulk of the money 
goes straight into the pockets of the generals. They seem to look on the 
influx of tourists as proof that their actions are accepted by the 
world. It's not good enough to suggest that by visiting Burma tourists 
will understand more. If tourists really wanted to find out what's 
happening in Burma, it's better to stay at home and read some of the 
many human rights reports there are." 

Indeed, the notion of "going and seeing for yourself" is arguably 
irrelevant in a state that has moved villagers from tourist areas, 
including the capital. You will neither see where your expenditure ends 
up nor how forced labour is used for tourism and tourism-related 
projects. Furthermore, if you decide to travel independently, hoping to 
stay in people's homes and use local restaurants, you will still be 
obliged to exchange $ 300 on arrival and use domestic airlines, hotels 
and "dollar-only" retail outlets owned by the regime and its associates. 

The British government and European Union have taken the unprecedented 
position that tourism to Burma is inappropriate under the current 
regime. Last May, the Foreign minister John Battle stated: "The 
Government wishes to draw attention to the views of Aung San Suu Kyi, 
and other pro-democracy leaders in Burma, that it is inappropriate for 
tourists to visit Burma at present. We think it right that those 
considering a visit to Burma, and travel guide publishers promoting the 
country, should be aware that Aung San Suu Kyi and others have urged 
tourists to postpone their trips to Burma." 

I visited Burma in 1984 and feel sad and frustrated to be unable to 
return; not because of the culturally fascinating and breathtakingly 
beautiful gilded pagodas of Rangoon, the 4,000-plus temples and pagodas 
of Pagan and Kipling's Irrawaddy at Mandalay, but because of the violent 

To obtain more detailed information that may help your decision contact 
The Burma Campaign (tel: 020-7281 7377; email: bagp@xxxxxxxxxx), which 
will send you a copy of its Alternative Guide to Burma. More background 
on responsible tourism can be obtained from Tourism Concern (tel: 020- 
7753 3330; net: www. tourismconcern.org). 

Send your questions to: Travel Desk, Independent on Sunday, 191 Marsh 
Wall, London E14 9RS. Or email: sundaytravel@ independent.co.uk. 

GRAPHIC: Burma abounds with beautiful statues, shrines and temples, but 
human -rights activists advise against visiting the country TONY STONE 


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

To automatically subscribe to Burma's only free daily newspaper in 
English, send an email to:

To subscribe to The BurmaNet News in Burmese, send an email 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


Burma News Summaries available by email or the web

There are three Burma news digest services available via either email or 
the web.

Burma News Update
Frequency: Biweekly
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at http://www.soros.org/burma/burmanewsupdate/index.html
Cost: Free
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project

The Burma Courier 
Frequency: Weekly 
Availability: E-mail, fax or post.  To subscribe or unsubscribe by email 
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Cost: Free
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article. 
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.

Burma Today
Frequency: Weekly
Availability: E-mail
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Cost: Free
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders 
Promoting Democracy in Burma)


T O P I C A  -- Learn More. Surf Less. 
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Topics You Choose.