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BurmaNet News: February 10, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: February 10, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 18:58:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
February 10, 2001 Issue # 1732
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Nation: Shan leader urges non-violence
*Bangkok Post: Hilltribe people evacuated as Burmese battle the Shan
*Bangkok Post: Border alert
*DVB: Burma: Government stations troops, armoured cars in Mandalay
*CIDKP: Situation of IDPs in 5th and 3rd Brigade (Muthraw and Kler Lwee
*Xinhua: Myanmar Blames Colonialists for Hindering National Development
*Agence France Press: Russia set to build nuclear reactor in Myanmar:
*Agence France Presse: Myanmar's military leader congratulates Thaksin
*European Union: Initial contacts between SPDC and NLD
*ITGLWF: Triumph urged to cease sourcing goods in Burma
*The Gazette (Montreal): Sanctions have their place
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Nation: Shan leader urges non-violence
February 9, 2001, Friday
LOI TAILENG - The leader of the Shan State Army (SSA) has warned his
followers about taking drastic measures against the mass relocation of
ethnic Wa into territory the Shan see as their own, saying hostile
actions against the minority group would play into the hands of the
Burmese military government.
At a recently concluded meeting between Shan village headsman and elders
from resistance groups, the SSA leader, Col Yawd Serk, said the dispute
between ethnic Shan and Wa over the use of land could be settled
SSA plans to discuss the matter with the United Wa State Army (UWSA), he
During the three-day gathering, a number of Shan villagers expressed
concern that ethnic Wa - thousands of whom have been relocated from the
north along the border with China to land near the northern Thai border
- are taking over land they claim as their own.
The relocation scheme is being carried out by the UWSA, a 20,000- strong
outfit allied with the Burmese military government. The group has been
accused by the United States of being the world's largest armed drug-
Yawd Serk refused to condemn the UWSA for the resettlement, saying "the
Wa are people of this land as well."
Army chief Gen Surayudh Chulanont yesterday said the Thai army is
monitoring the situation closely, but added that there not much could be
done because Burma is a sovereign state.
The Thai government sees the relocation of ethnic Wa along the country's
northern border as a security threat, saying the UWSA is trying to
expand its drug empire.
Yawd Serk, meanwhile, accused Rangoon of trying to instigate a fight
between his group and the Wa army with the mass relocation of Wa
Over the past decades, the Wa and the Shan armies have been arch-
enemies, clashing over territory as the two engaged in the drug trade.
Bangkok Post: Hilltribe people evacuated as Burmese battle the Shan
February 10, 2001
Hilltribe people have been evacuated from border villages as fighting
continues nearby between Burmese troops and Shan State Army soldiers,
A series of clashes was reported yesterday in an area about 3km inside
Burma, opposite Mae Fa Luang district.
About 200 villagers were moved to safer areas on the orders of
Chainarong Boonvivattanakarn, chief of Mae Fa Luang district, after
fresh fighting erupted on Thursday.
Pol Maj Rang Inthana, commander of the 327th border patrol unit of Mae
Chan district, said Rangoon forces had launched a dry-season campaign
against rebels. Small arms fire and explosions, probably from
rocket-propelled grenades, had been heard across the border since
Monday, alarming villagers.
At least six Burmese soldiers were reportedly killed, but so far there
were no reports of casualties among the SSA troops, he said.
The Burmese military is thought to have sent two rapid deployment units
to the area.
One of the groups clashed with Thai rangers three months ago.
Bangkok Post: Border alert
February 9, 2001
Troops along the Burmese border have been warned of a possible increase
in drug trafficking after Rangoon relocated Wa people to areas opposite
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces.
Army chief Gen Surayud Chulanont said many of the relocated Wa, who were
moved to Mong Hsat, were involved in drug production.
He said Rangoon said the move was part of its effort to stop opium
production. Thailand could do nothing since it could not interfere in
Burma's internal affairs.
DVB: Burma: Government stations troops, armoured cars in Mandalay
February 9, 2001, Friday
Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 8 Feb 01
DVB Democratic Voice of Burma has learned that many soldiers were
stationed at a certain ward in Mandalay. According to local residents,
thousands of troops and some Bren-carrier cars have been stationed there
since Monday 5 Feb . One eyewitness told DVB that troops and machine-gun
carrying armoured cars have been stationed near the vicinity of
Aindawyar Pagoda, Shwekyeemyint Pagoda, and Father Lafone's School. But
local residents say the reason for the deployment was not known.
At present there is no anti-SPDC State Peace and Development Council
political activity in Mandalay. Some observers from Mandalay and Rangoon
believe that the deployment was to prevent the Buddhist and Muslim riots
that broke out in Akyab on 4 February, from spreading to Mandalay. Some
say it is because of rumours about forthcoming political changes. Many
of the troops were stationed in Mandalay after news of a planned coup
emerged last Saturday and Sunday. The SPDC has denied the reports.
According to news received by DVB, a Police Special Branch SB security
unit has been ordered to provide security for Mandalay and Rangoon since
late January. Previously this was the responsibility of the Military
Intelligence under Defence Ministry . The SB is directly under the Home
Ministry. It was not known whether the deployment was for increased
security or was there a real rift among the top SPDC leaders?
CIDKP: Situation of IDPs in 5th and 3rd Brigade (Muthraw and Kler Lwee
[Situation in 5th Brigade is as per Dec. 2000 Committee for Internally
Displaced Karen People?s report on IDPs in Muthraw District. For more
information, see CIDKP: Karen IDP?s Report]
Over 2,000 new IDPs have fled from Kleer Lwee Htoo (3rd Brigade) into
Western Muthraw due to attacks, or the forced labor and relocation
operations of the SPDC.
The Burma Army is now stockpiling rice, oil, salt, and other foodstuffs
along the Salween for transport to their forward units. Supplies are
also being sent down the road from Kyauk Kyi to Saw Hta. Hundreds of
sacks of rice line the Salween River in front of major SPDC strong
points. During the last weeks of January, every SPDC commander in
Muthraw was recalled to higher headquarters at Naunglybin, Toungoo and
Rangoon. It is not clear what this means, but the local population are
preparing for another dry season offensive by the SPDC. The villagers
and IDPs in Loo Thaw township north of the new road continue to face
extreme hardship and it has not been possible to provide regular
assistance to that population. This is a black area where the SPDC
troops shoot to kill. The new road is patrolled aggressively by 10
SPDC Battalions, who have also erected a bamboo fence with land mines
all along the road, thus making it difficult for relief teams to cross
or for IDPs to escape through to the south. Some however have managed
to break through and have resettled in Yae Mu Plaw village tract,
putting great pressure on the land and natural resources that are
already at their limit in providing sustenance for the villagers and
IDPs of Yae Mu Plaw.
A quote from and IDP in Yae Mu Plaw, "We don't want to run any further,
we want to stay in our land, we are not brave, we can do no other, we
leave all in the hands of God. We believe God will protect us."
KLER LWEE HTOO (Naunglybin)ù3rd brigade
Since November 2000, over 2,000 IDPs have crossed the Bilin River from
Kler Lwee Htoo district. On 30 January 2001, 200 more IDPs from Htee
Bla and Saw Tha Kee came into Muthraw district. IDPs from Htee Maw
Kway Hta, Law Moo Der, Htee Ler Pah Hta, They Ko Ser Der, Htee Bla, Mee
Tha Nang Der, Saw Tha Kee, Saw Roko, Lo Khee, and Kyaw Pla Kee villages
have all fled because of attacks on their villages by the SPDC as well
as demands for forced labor.
In this area 124 people have been killed, women raped and many tortured.
Most recently, on Nov. 4, 3 villagers at Saw Roko village were beaten
to death by troops of LIB 360 while they were gathering rice. On Nov.
10, a father and his two children were wounded by an SPDC mortar attack
and on Nov. 16, one was killed by an SPDC land mine. Paddy is
routinely desstroyed resulting in over 5,000 people being deprived of
rice in January 2001 alone.
Relocation operations in Kler Lwee Htoo continue. The following are
forced relocation sites.
Kyawt Naga 5 villages => (more than) 1,000 people
Kwin Seit 8 villages => 1,500 people
May Po Hta 5 villages => 500 people
Win Maung 10 villages => 2,000 people
Each site is fenced, patrolled and the inhabitants must provide labor
free of charge to the SPDC. Labor includes road improvements, bridge
building, gathering bamboo (often in mined areas), and portering.
Quote from an IDP family, "We can't work our own land, we can't feed
our families so we ran away."
IDPs from Kler Lwee Htoo continue to flee into Muthraw district but due
to new SPDC outposts on the west side of the Bilin River, this is
Xinhua: Myanmar Blames Colonialists for Hindering National Development
YANGON, February 10
Myanmar leader Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt has blamed colonialists and
neo-colonialists for hindering the country's national development,
reported official newspaper The new Light of Myanmar Saturday.
Meeting with delegates of Myanmar national races attending the country's
upcoming Union Day celebration which falls next Monday, Khin Nyunt,
first secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council,
recalled that Myanmar national people were subjected to torture and
exploitation of colonialists for over 100 years.
Khin Nyunt, who is also chairman of the Committee for Organizing the
54th Anniversary Myanmar Union Day, accused some neo-colonialist nations
of imposing economic sanctions on Myanmar in an attempt to sow seeds of
mistrust among the national races to destroy the national solidarity.
He urged the delegates to seriously uphold the objectives of the
country's Union Day to safeguard the national policy.
Myanmar's Union Day was designated on February 12, 1947 when Myanmar
ethnic leaders met at the Panlong conference in northeastern Shan state.
Myanmar regained independence on January 4, 1948 from the British
Agence France Press: Russia set to build nuclear reactor in Myanmar:
MOSCOW, Feb 10
Russia will begin talks with Myanmar on building a nuclear reactor in
the South Asian country for scientific purposes, a government spokesman
said here Friday.
If Myanmar's authorities agree to the deal, Russia's nuclear energy
ministry will present appropriate proposals to the Russian government,
the spokesman was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
The Myanmar junta is accused by the United States and other Western
opponents of carrying out a string of human rights abuses, and crushing
all political opposition.
However, Russian officials said earlier that Moscow considers Myanmar a
promising partner in Asia and the Pacific region.
Agence France Presse: Myanmar's military leader congratulates Thaksin
February 9, 2001, Friday
BANGKOK, Feb 9
Myanmar's military leader Friday congratulated Thaksin Shinawatra on
becoming the 23rd prime minister of Thailand, state-run Myanmar media
Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC) -- the official name of the ruling military junta -- sent
a message of congratulations to the new prime minister, Myawaddi TV
Channel reported late Friday in a dispatch monitored here.
The report gave no further details of the message.
Thaksin and his senior advisers are seen as more sympathetic to the
junta than the previous administration of Chuan Leekpai.
Thaksin has said he plans to start addressing strained relations with
Myanmar by making it the destination for his first official visit as
Yangon has welcomed his announcement.
Thaksin was formally installed as prime minister on Friday, more than a
month after his Thai Rak Thai party scored an historic election victory.
European Union: Initial contacts between SPDC and NLD
Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Burma
Press Release, Brussels, 8 February 2001
The EU welcomes the initial contacts that have taken place between the
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi,
Secretary-General of the National League for Democracy (NLD). The Union
considers these developments to be the most interesting since 1990. They
need to be encouraged.
At the same time, the EU notes that the political situation in Burma
remains worrying. It emphasises the need for concrete measures leading
to national reconciliation, democracy and the respect of human rights,
in line with the EU's common position and the resolutions of the United
Nations General Assembly. The EU sincerely hopes that the confidential
contacts that have started between the SPDC and NLD will lead to real
progress in all these areas. The EU stands ready to support further
developments in these contacts. The EU also welcomes the recent release
from detention of a number of opposition activists.
The EU reiterates its strong support for the efforts of the UN Secretary
General's Special Envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail, upon whom the Troika
called in connection with its mission to Rangoon.
The European Union welcomes the contacts that its Troika mission had
with all the parties during its visit to Burma from 28 to 31 January.
The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European
Union, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,
Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, the associated
countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, and the EFTA countries Iceland,
Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area align
themselves with this declaration.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
ITGLWF: Triumph urged to cease sourcing goods in Burma
Jan. 31, 2001
International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation
Triumph International, the lingerie giant, has been urged to stop doing
business in Myanmar (Burma), a military dictatorship that in the past
35 years has jailed, tortured, killed and displaced millions. The call
comes from the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and
Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF), an international labour union
which says that by operating a joint venture in Burma, Triumph is
directly supporting one of the world? most brutal regime.
Explains ITGLWF General Secretary Neil Kearney: "Through its
partnership with the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH), a
holding company of the Ministry of Defence, Triumph International is
funnelling perhaps as much as 16% of its profits to the military, which
spends it on weapons to use it against its own people". "This is truly
the dark side of globalisation, where multinationals source from the
cheapest producer available, no matter how appalling the working
conditions or how repressive the regime", says Kearney. "The country
offers rock-bottom prices - and no wonder.
Burmese garment workers earn some of the world?s lowest wages: US $8
per month for 45-hour workweeks, or about four U.S. cents per hour.
Working 60 hours a week is not uncommon. And under martial law, factory
owners don?t need to worry about labour unrest: problems are sorted out
by bringing in army officers to threaten strikers with arrest".
"Clearly, Myanmar is no place for any company concerned with human
rights. Triumph should take a closer look at the regime it is
bankrolling", advises Kearney. "Over the past ten years, an estimated
two million people, including women, children and elderly people, have
been conscripted as forced labourers in public construction projects or
as porters in the army, where they are sent out ahead to locate
Many face beatings, torture, rape and murder. "An estimated 800,000
people, mostly women and children, have been displaced either by the
government?s ?relocation? policy or because of fighting, while another
300,000 have been forced to flee the country. "An estimated 1,500
political prisoners are being held in jail in horrendous conditions,
many suffering torture.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition National League for
Democracy, has been released from six years of house arrest, but still
has only limited freedom of movement". In November of last year,
concern over the use of forced labour in Burma prompted the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) to call on its member states to
impose sanctions on the country. It was a measure unprecedented in the
organisation?s history. The ITGLWF has asked Triumph International
immediately to withdraw from Burma until the rule of law is restored in
________________ OPINION/EDITORIALS ______________
The Gazette (Montreal): Sanctions have their place
February 10, 2001
Ten years ago, the broad-based coalition that went to war against Iraq
was united in imposing trade embargoes against a regime that coalition
members considered illegitimate. Within a few short years, however, it
was apparent that sanctions were ineffective in getting Saddam Hussein
to respect the United Nations resolutions that followed the Gulf War.
The coalition nations are painfully conscious that inside Iraq,
sanctions are experienced as an unjust punishment of an entire people.
Iraqis are told their babies are dying because of the sanctions. Inside
a nation cut off from the world, who is to tell them any differently?
It comes as no surprise that at the United Nations, a committee has been
meeting since last April trying to determine how to improve the impact
of sanctions. While it should go without saying that measures as onerous
as economic sanctions should be carefully assessed to make sure they are
having the effect the world community hopes to achieve, there is no
reason to assume that sanctions are a tool that has had its day.
The primary role of sanctions should be to uphold international
principles such as the respect for human rights and international law.
For example, at what point would the world community decide that forced
labour in Burma is no longer deserving of sanctions? A few thousand
fewer forced labourers here or there shouldn't lead to a loosening of
Politicians from the era of apartheid in South Africa, where sanctions
were kept in place for nearly 30 years, like to say that the embargoes
had no real effect on the country's economy or internal functioning. But
they made the country a pariah among nations. They spelled out a clear
message that was heard everywhere in the world: that it is immoral to
treat people as substandard because of the colour of their skin. It
should not be forgotten that sanctions serve a wider purpose.
The UN committee is looking at rewarding full or partial compliance with
the terms of sanctions, using a carrot for a change rather than only a
stick. There are examples of this approach being used successfully: for
instance, when the United States gradually lifted its sanctions on
Poland as the Polish government began lifting martial law.
So-called smart sanctions with their more narrow target - leaders or
factions - are demonstrably useful. These sanctions include freezing the
assets of abusive leaders or governments; denying them visas and
residency permits; and, most powerful of all, subjecting them to
The creation of an effective International Criminal Court to prosecute
those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
wherever their crimes occur would be useful as a protector of human
rights. The effects are sometimes diffuse, but no less beneficial, as
the case of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shows. The idea
that a human-rights violator would be forever accountable to
international justice has now gained currency.
Sanctions should not in themselves violate humanitarian principles,
however. Food, medicine, water, clothing, shelter - all basic human
needs - should not be used as leverage against a country, no matter what
the failings of its government. Too many innocent people are made to
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