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BurmaNet News: April 24, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: April 24, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 07:18:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
April 24, 2001 Issue # 1788
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
NOTED IN PASSING: ?...they flatly refused to allow us to see her. And so
we decided amongst ourselves not to go to Myanmar to just see generals,"
Angelika Koster-Lossack, Member of the German parliament. See Deutsche
Presse-Agentur: German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over Suu Kyi
INSIDE BURMA _______
*The Nation: Drug rebels can expect free rein
*The Nation: Chasing the Burmese dragon
*Xinhua: Myanmar To Host Ministerial Meeting on Drug Control
*Bangkok Post: Karen attack, burn Wa speed storehouse
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta vanguard stalled by mines
*Asian Wall Street Journal: Ethnic Conflict Clouds Myanmar
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Power plant part of Maung Aye's pet
project, says Maesai resident
*DVB : Burmese, Chin National Army troops clash
*Deutsche Presse-Agentur: German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over
Suu Kyi access
*Bangkok Post: Bid to block shipment to Tachilek
*Today Newspaper (Philippines): Guingona Eyes Meeting with Burma's Suu
*Reuters: Myanmar kyat falls to record low
*Xinhua: Tourists Visiting Myanmar Decrease in 2000
*Bangkok Post: The Burma convoy and accountability
*ALTSEAN-Burma: Help Needed to Differentiate Fantasy from Reality
*Asian Women's Electronic Networking Training Workshop
*Nonviolent Action, a Workshop for Trainers and Facilitators
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
The Nation: Drug rebels can expect free rein
April 24, 2001.
The government can expect little help from Beijing or Rangoon in
stopping the Wa army's drug trafficking, Don Pathan reports in the last
part of a two-part series.
For years, the Chinese government has vowed to cooperate with Thailand
and Burma to tackle drug trafficking problems.
However, Beijing has yet to say or show in real terms what it means.
This is not to say that the Chinese people are not affected by the
problem. In fact, a great deal of the Wa's heroin is smuggled through
Yunnan, while more and more Chinese people there are becoming addicts at
an alarming rate.
But China's low-key approach towards the Wa's illicit activities is
understandable given their historic links. The Communist Party of China
was the main backer of the now-defunct Communist Party of Burma (CPB).
The bulk of the CPB's foot soldiers at the time were made up of troops
from the Wa faction. And when the CPB fractured along ethnic lines, the
Wa leadership, who formed the UWSA shortly afterwards, maintained their
strong links with the Communist Chinese.
Moreover, said one senior Third Army official, the Wa's presence along
the Thai border is growing by the day. Their troop strength in the area
has increased from just over 3,000 to more than 10,000 in the past year.
The officer also confirmed a recent report by Jane's Defence Weekly,
stating that the UWSA had acquired an improved portable surface-to-air
missile (SAM) capability from the Chinese.
"The system marks a significant improvement over the older
Soviet-designed SA-7, which the UWSA had earlier acquired from Cambodian
black market sources through Thailand," Jane's said. Among its other
attributes, according to the report, the recently acquired SAM can
engage aircraft head-on.
Besides the historical link, Beijing's passiveness towards the Wa's
illicit activities has more to do with China's quest to become a
superpower. As an emerging superpower, said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a
security expert at Chulalongkorn University, China is not in a position
to pick a fight with countries that can enhance its strategic interest.
Panitan pointed to the massive infrastructure linking southern China to
the Indian Ocean through Burma. And with the country being a "closed"
society, he said, China, unlike Thailand, does not have to contend with
the problem of political support from the general public. "China has
over one billion people. Given its shear size, the Wa's activities do
not constitute a national one."
Unlike Thailand, China does not see the Wa's narcotic trafficking as an
international issue, Panitan said.
Thailand's relations with Burma, on the other hand, are largely based on
mistrust fuelled by territorial disputes and accusations of
interference. Burma has accused Thailand of supporting Shan rebels, but
Thai officials say Rangoon has pitted the Wa against the Thais by
allowing them to resettled along the Thai border.
So what is the Thai government to do?
For the time being, Bangkok will continue with its anti-Wa rhetoric and
the push to make Rangoon accountable to the Wa's activities. Though
Thaksin has vowed to bring the issue up with Beijing and the Burmese
junta, few believe he will have much success.
"Thailand is too weak to put pressure on Burma, much less China,"
Panitan said. "(The Thai government) will be going to the negotiating
table against a group of warriors, from top to bottom, whose positions
are consolidated and members unified at the top."
Like other authoritarian countries, Burma's national interest is its
utmost important issue when it come to any negotiation, he said.
For the junta, issues pertaining to Rangoon-UWSA ties are a matter of
life and death - literally. Foreign Minister Win Aung has made it quite
clear that his government will not turn back the clock and go back to
the day of insurgency and rebellious ethnic armies roaming Burma's
frontier. In other words, Thailand needs to stop pointing its finger to
Rangoon just because too many Thai youths have a bad habit.
Besides, admitted a number of Thai army officers along the border,
Rangoon is not in the position to pick a fight with the Wa. The
implications would be too high and it would set a bad precedent with
other groups who have come under the country's "legal fold", they said.
For the time being, the concern over narcotics among the leadership in
Rangoon, experts say, will continue to take a backseat to stability and
national reconciliation. Rangoon's policy of negotiating ceasefires with
ethnic insurgent groups has been one of its main success stories, and
there is no indication that the junta would want to change that.
Besides, Rangoon stands to gain tremendously from the Wa's illicit
activities. According to a recent report by the US State Department on
narcotics, "there is reason to believe that money laundering in Burma
and the return of narcotics profits laundered elsewhere are significant
factors in the overall Burmese economy, although the extent is difficult
to measure accurately".
The country's under-regulated banking system and the absence of
effective money laundering legislation, according to the report, have
created an environment conducive to the use of drug-related proceeds in
Given the fact that Thai-Burmese ties are at a low after cross-border
shelling over two months ago between the two armies, any meaningful
counter-narcotic efforts are likely to remain on the back burner for the
The Nation: Chasing the Burmese dragon
April 24, 2001.
The Thaksin government is poised to launch a major anti-drug offensive
against the Burma-based Wa army. It stands a real risk of failure, Don
Two years ago when the bodies of nine Thai villagers, beaten to death
with their hands tied behind their backs, were found scattered along the
northern border, all fingers pointed to the Wa army which is based just
on the other side of the border.
It was a drug deal gone bad, and members of the United Wa State Army did
it, Thai officials said.
Though no one has proven exactly who carried out the brutal act,
nevertheless the blame was conveniently placed on the Wa. After all,
this 20,000-strong outfit has been dubbed the world's largest armed
drug-trafficking group, and a number of its leaders have already been
indicted by a US federal court on drug charges.
Thai security agencies found themselves in a situation where they had to
act and act fast. The army was brought into the picture, border
crossings leading to the UWSA areas were ordered shut, and over 1,000
Thai workers building everything from roads and hydroelectric dams to
schools and hospitals in nearby Wa-controlled areas were told to come
For the Thai troops along the border overlooking Doi Sam Sao opposite
Thailand's Mae Ai district, this meant that their daily volleyball games
with the Wa soldiers had to end.
The Thai public and the media went along for the ride, and the Thaksin
government, as well as the previous Chuan administration, couldn't
resist jumping on the bandwagon in spite of its racist connotations.
"Wa" immediately became a household name. And just like that, an entire
ethnic group became demonised.
To show that he meant business Thaksin, shortly after taking over as
premier, launched a high-profile drug seminar in Chiang Mai. Photographs
showed Burma's security chief, Lt-General Khin Nyunt, shaking hands with
Wa leaders in Mong Yawn, a newly built town adjacent to Chiang Mai's Mae
Ai district. Thai officials said Mong Yawn was the source of millions of
methamphetamine pills heading for the streets of Bangkok and other major
cities in the country.
At the end of the two-day seminar, Thaksin boldly told the public that
he would take the matter straight to Rangoon. China, said Thaksin, will
also be brought into the picture to help with the counter-narcotics
Thailand's latest move is to form a 400-strong anti-drug task force made
up of staff from the Army Special Forces, infantry and Border Police
units. They will be trained by a team of about 20 soldiers from the US
Special Forces, starting this October under the supervision of the Third
But while the public ate up the anti-narcotic rhetoric, little
discussion was given to the implications and the possible fallout with
Rangoon and Beijing, two sovereign governments whose priorities happen
to be other than the Thai people's bad habits.
A Bangkok-based foreign diplomat overseeing drug issues called
Thailand's declaring war on the Wa a "knee-jerk" reaction without real
understanding of the situation on the ground. For any anti-narcotic
policy to be successful, according to Burma experts, it must include a
meaningful political solution for all insurgent groups in the ethnically
diverse country. Drug trafficking and insurgency, they say, are two
sides of the same coin.
In a recent interview with The Nation, the UN Drug Control Programme's
regional representative Sandro Calvani said a strong foundation for
regional countries to cooperate in their anti-narcotic efforts "exists
in joint agreements, but real united action requires significant
"Finger-pointing to drug-producers or drug-users helps no one. History
in other parts of the world has shown that isolating a group does more
harm than help," said Calvani, suggesting that regional UN coordinated
action on the Wa and Burma might be more effective than fragmented moves
by Thailand, Malaysia, China, India and other countries concerned.
As for the country's anti-drug policy, an alliance that unites the
government, the UN and the entire civil society must be created, while
the private and public sectors, as well as government agencies and the
community, must be included in this endeavour, he said.
For years Rangoon has consistently come under attack by Western
governments for allowing drug armies and opium warlords to operate with
little hindrance. They point to the presence of the Wa army along
Burma's northern border with Thailand and China, as well as the Kokang
Chinese, also known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army.
But the reality on the ground, say Thai and foreign drug officials, is
that the Burmese government has little control over the Wa's activities.
For one thing, Burmese troops must have permission before entering areas
occupied by UWSA troops.
Wa fighters were the foot-soldiers of the now defunct Communist Party of
Burma. In 1989 the CPB fractured along ethnic lines, and the group
formed the United Wa State Army, before working out an attractive
cease-fire agreement orchestrated by security chief Lt-General Khin
For Rangoon the truce neutralised a 20,000-strong insurgent group that
had enough weapons to last them for another decade. For the Wa it was a
green light to expand their heroin empire southwards from the Chinese
border to areas adjacent to Thailand's northern border. Along the way
they clashed with former drug kingpin Khun Sa, hastening his surrender
in January 1996.
Today, besides filling a vacuum left by Khun Sa, the presence of the Wa
army along the Thai border is deemed a security threat to Thailand. The
group is also perceived to be a significant factor in the tit-for-tat
relations between Thailand and Burma.
Xinhua: Myanmar To Host Ministerial Meeting on Drug Control
YANGON, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar is making preparation to host
the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of Six MOU (memorandum of understanding)
Countries on Drug Control in the Sub-Region from May 7 to 11 in
cooperation with the U.N. Drug Control Program ( UNDCP), according to
the Myanmar Ministry of Home Affairs Tuesday.
The six countries, that initiated a MOU on control of illicit drug
trafficking and abuse in the sub-region in New York in October 1993,
comprise China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The ministerial meeting will be preceded by a senior officials' meeting
and high-level bilateral meetings between Myanmar and Thailand, between
Myanmar and China, between Cambodia and Vietnam and between Cambodia
According to the ministry, delegates attending the MOU meeting will
witness Myanmar's 15th annual ceremony of destruction of seized
narcotic drugs in Yangon and visit the country's opium producing areas
of Kokang and Wa in northern Shan state.
The last three ministerial meetings of the six MOU countries were
alternatively held in Beijing in 1995, in Bangkok in 1997 and in
Vientiane in 1999.
Meanwhile, a sub-regional drug control program of the six MOU countries
on reducing illicit drug use in the highlands of East Asia was
implemented at six villages in Muse and Bhamo regions in northern
Myanmar's Shan and Kachin states respectively from 1997 to 2000, using
1.52 million U.S. dollars provided by Britain and the UNDCP, involving
the contribution of Japan.
More similar programs are expected to be implemented in other Myanmar
villages with the contribution of donor countries.
According to official statistics, in 2000, Myanmar seized 2.28 tons of
narcotic drugs including 1.52 tons of opium, 158.68 kilos of heroin and
590 kilos of marijuana as well as 26.6 million tablets of stimulant
Bangkok Post: Karen attack, burn Wa speed storehouse
April 23, 2001.
Sounds of battle clear in Mae Sot
Soldiers of the Karen National Union attacked a warehouse thought to be
a storage depot for methamphetamines on the outskirts of Myawaddy,
opposite Mae Sot, early yesterday.
Mahnshar Lapan, KNU secretary-general, said they had information that Wa
soldiers had stored several million methamphetamines in the warehouse.
The building, about 1km south of the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge, was
set on fire during the attack. Billowing smoke could be seen from the
Thai side of the border. No drugs were recovered.
The attack was launched by the KNU's 6th division at 3.40am, a source
The exchange was fierce, with the sound of mortars, rocket launchers and
small arms fire clearly audible in Mae Sot until 4.45am.
Two mortar rounds landed on Thai soil, but caused no damage. Thai forces
along the Moei river responded with 120mm mortar smoke shells as a
warning. Villagers at Ban Huay Muang were evacuated to bunkers.
Two soldiers of the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army were
reported killed and four wounded. Two Burmese women were injured in the
cross-fire and sent to Mae Sot hospital for treatment.
The KNU said two of its men were wounded. They seized one M79 grenade
launcher and one rifle.
The KNU also reported an earlier clash, on April 14, with a combined
force of Burmese and DKBA troops in Kawkareik district of Karen state,
claiming 12 Burmese and two DKBA soldiers killed and 21 wounded, for the
loss of two KNU soldiers killed and four wounded.
- Two Thai men were arrested with 368,000 methamphetamine pills in Muang
district of Tak on Saturday.
The pills were found in a pick-up driven by Thanom Phosa, 36, on Mae
Sot-Tak road, heading to Sukhothai.
He said he was hired by Boonchai Sothorn-aree, 23, of Chiang Rai, for
50,000 baht to deliver the drugs from Phop Phra district to Ban Dan Lan
Hoy and Thung Saliam districts of Sukhothai.
Mr Boonchai was arrested later in Phop Phra district.
Pol Maj-Gen Luerit Puipanthawong, the Tak provincial police chief, said
the 7.6 million speed pills seized in Phop Phra district on April 16 and
the 368,000 seized on Saturday were part of a 40 million pill shipment
the United Wa State Army had planned to smuggle into Thailand during the
Songkran festival by using DKBA soldiers.
He believed more pills were stored in Burma opposite Tak, awaiting
shipment into Thailand.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta vanguard stalled by mines
April 24, 2001
Burma Army's advance guards marching towards their border post occupied
on Sunday by the Shans ran into a minefield last night, said a Shan
State Army source.
Elements from IB 227 (Mongkhark) and LIB 519 (Mongton) that arrived in
the neighborhood of Pakhee base, opposite Doi Angkhang, Fang District
of Chiangmai Province, came upon a minefield last night.
The army source said he heard explosions during the night but that all
was still quiet this morning.
Apart from the local troops of Mongton, units from the neighboring
Monghsat are on their way to help dislodge the Shans from Pakhee, said
a border watcher form Fang.
The Shan force in the area is under the command of Lt-Col Awngkham under
whom are Lt-Col Khunjaw of Brigade 241 and Maj Khiaofah of Khunsang
"Pakhee can be reached through 3 routes," said the border watcher. "1.
>From Maeken, 15 miles south of Mongton, through Loisarng and BP-2. It
is the longest and the attacking forces will have to march on foot all
2. From Nakawngmu, 20 miles further south. It is shorter but there is
still no motor road to Pakhee.
3. From Pungpakhem, 15 miles south of Nakawngmu and 15 miles north of
BP-1. They can go by truck until Namhukhun 5 miles further east and
march north to Pakhee. It is the shortest."
The Shan State Army is commanded by Yawdserk, whose group already made
headlines since February when the pursuing Burma Army clashed with Thai
It is believed to be the strongest among the three armed resistance
movements along the Thai border. The other two are Karen National Union/
Karen national Liberation Army and Karenni National Progress Party /
Commenting on the situation, Analytica Birmanie, a private thinktank,
said: "The new round of fighting (along the border) might indicate
disillusionment with the current talks in Rangoon and the loud silence
Asian Wall Street Journal: Ethnic Conflict Clouds Myanmar
New York, N.Y.
Apr 20, 2001
By Barry Wain
MAE HONG SON, Thailand -- Secret talks taking place in Myanmar offer
the prospect of a political breakthrough, as far as the international
community is concerned. The discussions began last October between the
ruling State Peace and Development Council and Aung San Suu Kyi, who
heads the National League for Democracy. While nothing has been
disclosed about the agenda or progress, the world waits to see if the
military and its democratic opponents can overcome their stalemate and
normalize conditions in the country formerly called Burma.
But that isn't the way it appears to many of the nation's ethnic
minorities, most of whom have fought for autonomy or independence for
half a century. They regard the dialogue as a meeting between two
factions of Burmans, the ethnic majority, who account for about 70% of
the population. The minorities not only feel slighted by their exclusion
from the discussions, but also convinced that long-term peace and
stability demand their participation.
"All the ethnic groups are the same," says Doh Say, an official with
the "foreign office" of the Karenni government in exile on the
Thai-Myanmar border. "We don't trust Burmans."
These dissident voices amount to a reality check. While the democracy
movement has dominated the political scene since the military refused to
recognize the results of an election in 1990, won overwhelmingly by the
NLD, the issue that has torn the nation apart since independence in 1948
is ethnic aspirations. Whether or not Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi reaches an
accommodation with the SPDC, the absence of a comprehensive settlement
between Burman Yangon and the diverse hinterland darkens the future.
The trouble goes back to the country's original constitution, which
provided for power to be divided between Burma Proper and the ethnic
states. Among other things, it allowed for every state except Kachin to
secede after 10 years. author Martin Smith describes it as lopsided and
riddled with inconsistencies as any treaty drawn up in the era of
British rule. "In short," he says, "it was a recipe for disaster."
Almost immediately, the new administration was faced with the
possible disintegration of Myanmar. In addition to the hill people who
revolted, the Communists withdrew from the government and took up arms
while Muslims from the Rakhaing area also joined the insurgency. For the
minorities, the final straw was Ne Win's military coup in 1962, followed
by the abolition of the constitution.
The military leaders who retook control after troops shot and killed
thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1988 have attempted to end
the decades of civil war. They have negotiated cease-fires with 17 armed
groups, allowing them to administer their own zones and regions and keep
their weapons, in return for the development of infrastructure. At least
five armed outfits continue to battle the Myanmar army.
Although most of the cease-fires have held, allowing the SPDC to
extend its nominal authority over large stretches of the frontier, some
of the groups have become disillusioned with the deal. For example, the
Kachin Independence Organization, which agreed to a cease-fire in 1993,
saw an internal coup earlier this year, with Zau Mai, the chairman,
deposed and arrested. Rivals accused him of gaining personally from the
cease-fire, as well as being dictatorial and unwilling to listen to
Nor has the SPDC been able to organize a new constitution that
addresses the ethnic fissures that will otherwise fracture the country
again. A hand-picked National Convention began the drafting process in
1993, but has effectively stalled since 1996, when the NLD walked out.
While the SPDC has been able to insist on delegates writing provisions
to ensure continued significant military influence, it has failed to
find the language for the crucial political balance between the center
and the periphery.
It's only natural that Mr. Doh Say's Karenni government in exile,
formed around the Karenni National Progressive Party, should be entirely
unmoved by a possible compromise between the SPDC and the NLD. After
all, the party and its armed wing, the Karenni Army, have been fighting
and dying for independence since the 1950s. A cease-fire arranged in
1995 collapsed within three months.
But anecdotal evidence suggests that other ethnic minorities, on both
sides of the border, are just as wary, including those who are observing
cease-fires. Despite many differences, they seem to share a visceral
distrust of the Burmans that won't easily be overcome. While they tend
to give Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of assassinated national hero
Gen. Aung San, the benefit of the doubt, they're good will hardly
extends to the rest of the NLD leadership, or to the military brass.
The extent of the ethnic divide showed up in a recent survey by a
doctoral candidate who is researching the Kachin community. She asked 45
college-age students, mostly offspring of Kachin Independence
Organization leaders, to list the characteristics of various ethnic
groups. Burmans ranked lowest -- described as lying, pretending,
cheating, insincere and the like. The Buddhist Shans were as good as the
Christian Kachin. Even Chinese, though often described negatively,
ranked ahead of Burmans, in the eyes of the Kachin students.
Given the depth of these sentiments, it isn't surprising that the
ethnic minorities have reservations about Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi talking
in private with the top generals of the SPDC. They were disappointed she
didn't let them know, at least informally, before the official
announcement. The silence since the dialogue started six months ago only
heightens their anxiety. Still, they are sure that reconciliation, the
declared objective, is out of the question without their presence.
The minorities worry that Ms. Aung Suu Kyi might be tempted to join a
coalition with the military, as widely speculated, a step they would
regard as mere Burman power sharing. They make the point that democracy,
to have any meaning, must be introduced nationwide. "It is important
that these parties show more sincerity toward the ethnic groups," says
Seng Du, general-secretary of the Pan Kachin Development Society.
Most minority groups don't doubt that it would be easier to make
their case to a government led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. But while they
have heard that she supports a federal system -- the only arrangement
under which many of them would agree to remain part of Myanmar -- they
don't think it would be endorsed in a democratic referendum. "The
Burmans will not accept federalism," says Hte Bupeh, chairman of the
Karenni National Progressive Party.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Power plant part of Maung Aye's pet
project, says Maesai resident
April 23, 2001
An informed resident of Maesai told S.H.A.N. this morning the power
plant under construction in the twin city of Tachilek across the river
was part of General Maung Aye's plan to make the city an industrial
The lignite power plant, located on a 25 acre land near Ponglo Pagoda at
Ban Sansai in Tachilek, is 4 km away from the border. Its foundation
was laid down by Gen Maung Aye, who, apart from being Vice Chairman of
the ruling State Peace and Development Council and Commander-in-Chief
of the Army, is also responsible for economic affairs, on 9 May last
The cost of the plant that is expected to generate 12-megawatt of
electricity is reported to be B. 250 million. The generator was
purchased from Shandong Yangguang Engineering Corporation in China at a
cost of B.160 million. The expenditure was reported to be underwritten
by Myanmar Mayflower Bank, the largest shares of which belong to Wei
Hsiaokang, the Chinese-Wa chieftain who is on the wanted list of both
Thailand and the United States.
Large deposits of lignite coal to be used at the plant are located in
Monghpyak and Kengtung, 78 km and 160 km respectively north of Tachilek.
Both had already been surveyed by Siam Lignite Company last year under
the auspices of Maj-Gen Thein Sein, Commander of the Triangle Region
Command with headquarters in Kengtung.
Residents in Maesai, Chiangrai Province, had protested against their
district officer on his return from the foundation stone laying ceremony
in May last year. The grave effects of the power plant towards the
environment and tourism were also discussed at a seminar at Wangthong
Hotel in Maesai on 30 August.
DVB : Burmese, Chin National Army troops clash
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that clashes have broken out
between the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] forces and Chin
National Army [CNA] troops in northern Chin State.
Fighting erupted between the CNA and the Tiddim-based SPDC LIB [Light
Infantry Battalion] No 269 in Tonzang Township on 11 April. Two SPDC
soldiers were wounded. The SPDC soldiers retreated after forcibly
recruiting some villagers from the surrounding villages as porters to
carry their wounded.
The CNA pursued the SPDC troops and another battle took place near the
Tiddim to India border road. Ko Khin Maung Soe Minn filed the report
from Aizore near the India-Burma border that one soldier each from CNA
and SPDC were killed in that battle.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 22 Apr 01
Deutsche Presse-Agentur: German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over
Suu Kyi access
April 24, 2001
German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over Suu Kyi access
A German parliamentary delegation visiting Southeast Asia said Tuesday
it had scrapped plans to travel to Myanmar (Burma) on the trip because
the military junta there denied the group access to opposition leader
Aung San Su Kyi.
Delegation leader Adelheid D. Troscher, of the Social Democratic Party's
group on economic cooperation and development, said the six Bundestag
members were strongly rebuffed two weeks ago by the ruling State Peace
and Development Council.
"They did not want us visiting opposition leaders. They said they would
rather not want us at the moment," Troscher told Deutsche Presse-Agentur
dpa after arriving in Hanoi for a four-day Vietnam visit.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a 1990 election but the
military voided the vote and arrested Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace
Prize a year later.
The opposition leader was released in 1995 but has lived under virtual
house arrest since, though she has been able to meet with several
international groups over the years.
"I think it is shameful we were not allowed to meet with her," said
Angelika Koster-Lossack of Alliance 90 - The Green Party, saying she had
mistaken the junta's recent dialogue with Suu Kyi to be a possible
reversal of their "policy of isolation".
"But they flatly refused to allow us to see her. And so we decided
amongst ourselves not to go to Myanmar to just see generals," Koster-
Lossack said. "We are disappointed because a dialogue needs to be
established with the outside world," she added. "It was a chance
The high-ranking, multi-party delegation consists of six members of the
Bundestag's committee on development cooperation, which is touring the
region to get a better understanding of Southeast Asia's sustainable
management and development projects.
The sector is one of the most significant areas of German aid to Vietnam
On Wednesday the delegation meets with several members of the government
of communist-ruled Vietnam, which last weekend anointed a reform-leaning
moderate, Nong Duc Manh, to be its new leader.
Bangkok Post: Bid to block shipment to Tachilek
April 24, 2001.
Burmese power project opposed
Subin Khuenkaew and Yuwadee Tunyasiri
People in Chiang Rai have vowed to use any means, including violence, to
block any further attempt to deliver power generators and construction
materials to a coal-fired power plant project in Burma's Tachilek border
A large convoy carrying power generators and construction materials from
China was stopped by the Third Army on Friday before it crossed the
border in Mae Sai to Tachilek.
The shipment was halted at the crossing by regional commander Lieutenant
General Wattanachai Chaimuenwong on orders from Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, whose administration launched a "war on drugs" last month.
Lt-Gen Wattanachai fears the generators will be used to power
A war of words between Bangkok and Rangoon over who is responsible for
Thailand being flooded with amphetamines has seen tensions rise between
the two countries.
An angry demonstration followed the attempted shipment on Saturday by
some 2,000 Mae Sai residents who feared the power plant would pollute
their environment, forcing the convoy to return to Bangkok.
Pang Polajai, secretary-general of the Rak Mae Sai club, yesterday said
his group and local leaders would meet today to plan strategies to block
any future attempt to send the cargo across the border to Tachilek.
"We fear the government may later order [Third Army commander] Lt-Gen
Wattanachai [Chaimuenwong] to allow the cargo through Mae Sai," he said.
Mr Pang said people from Mae Sai and Mae Chan districts would also join
today's meeting in Mae Sai.
The meeting would come up with a "tough" resolution because local people
feared their environment could be polluted in the near future by
emissions from the coal-fired power plant being built just across the
border, he said.
"If the government allows the cargo to return to Mae Sai, I can bet it
won't have a chance to cross the border or even another chance to return
to Bangkok. Mae Sai and Mae Chan villagers are ready to fight to the end
because they know well what the power plant will bring," he warned.
Mr Pang also criticised Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's comments
linking the power plant project with the Wa's methamphetamine production
The power plant is believed to be partly owned by the United Wa State
Army. Mr Thaksin said after the convoy was halted that it was unlikely
such goods would be allowed to cross the border since it would help
strengthen the Wa.
Yesterday, Mr Thaksin also said the power plant in Tachilek, once
completed, could lead to an increase in the production of
methamphetamines destined for Thailand.
Mr Pang said the premier's comments had clouded the real issue "We are
not protesting against drugs but against the coal-fired power plant that
will pollute our environment."
Mr Pang also claimed the prime minister might be trying to buy time for
Burma. The government would likely permit the cargo to be delivered to
Tachilek once Burmese authorities insisted the power plant belonged to
the Rangoon government, he said.
PM's Office Minister Thammarak Issarangkura na Ayuthaya said the problem
over the cargo would likely be be raised for discussion during Foreign
Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's May 1-2 visit to Rangoon, if the issue
was not already settled before that.
Meanwhile, the Customs Department chief said yesterday that the 44
containers carrying the generators and construction material for Burma
were being kept at a bonded warehouse on Bang Na-Trat highway.
The containers were not opened for examination because his department
did not think there were any illegal goods inside the containers, Manit
However, the department would allow other state agencies to open the
containers and check the goods if such actions were deemed necessary, Mr
Today Newspaper (Philippines): Guingona Eyes Meeting with Burma's Suu
April 23, Monday (PHILIPPINES)
by Malou Talosig-reporter
IN what could be his first diplomatic salvo, Vice President and Foreign
Secretary Teofisto Guingona will brave dangerous waters by arranging to
meet with Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi when he goes to Burma next week, officials at the Department
of Foreign Affairs revealed yesterday.
Officials who requested anonymity said a non government organization,
Free Burma Coalition, called on Guingona and requested that he see Suu
Kyi in Rangoon.
Guingona is schedule to attend the "retreat" of the foreign ministers of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This will be his first
ever-trip as foreign secretary and it is regarded as his baptism of fire
The ASEAN foreign ministers had earlier decided to "retreat" so that
they can have another meeting among themselves, away from the clutches
of their bosses.
There would be "more candid and frank" exchanges of any issues that
foreign ministers would like to discuss in two-hour "retreat".
But this "retreat" will be hosted by Burma, whose government is ruled by
a military junta that has been considered a pariah in many parts of the
international community, after disregarding the 1990 parliamentary
elections where the party of Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy
(NLD) won by a landslide.
Other Filipino diplomats believe that Guingona's plan to meet with Suu
Kyi at the sidelines of the Asean foreign minister's retreat would be
"inappropriate" since the host is the Burmese government.
But the Free Burma Coalition apparently convinced Guingona to meet with
Suu Kyi. At one point, foreign affairs officials said, they heard
Guingona's consultant, Vic Luna, exclaim that Guingona will postpone his
trip to Burma if he is not allowed to meet with the Burmese opposition
The officials pointed out that the planned meeting between Guingona and
Suu Kyi "would do more harm than good for both Suu Kyi and the
At the moment, they said that Suu Kyi "is not keen on receiving foreign
ambassadors" in her residence and has in fact "recognized" the "positive
developments" made by the Burmese military junta. These developments
include the holding of dialogue between the Burmese government and the
opposition party at a low level and the reception by the Burmese
government to the European Union troika representatives.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Reuters: Myanmar kyat falls to record low
YANGON, April 24 (Reuters) - Myanmar's kyat currency fell to a record
low of 680 per dollar on the black market in late trade on Tuesday
compared with 603 on Friday amid reports of "panic selling", dealers
Black market dealers reported heavy demand for dollars and said the fall
in the currency may have been induced by reports of low export revenue
and rising inflation.
"It's very hard to say exactly what is making the demand (for dollars)
grow," said one local businessman. "We hear some private companies are
A black market dealer told Reuters he had not detected any measures by
the Myanmar authorities to halt the kyat's slide. Myanmar officials were
not immediately unavailable for comment.
The Myanmar government has increased salaries of civil servants by five
to eight times since April last year to help them cope with spiralling
prices but its action has further fuelled inflation estimated at around
20 percent a year.
Xinhua: Tourists Visiting Myanmar Decrease in 2000
YANGON, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The number of tourists visiting Myanmar
came to 234,900 in 2000, falling by 9.3 percent from 1999, according to
the latest figures published by the country's Central Statistical
Of the tourists, 49 percent entered the country by land through border
Up to now, there were 492 different hotels and motels with 13, 984
rooms. Of them, 21 are foreign-invested, four are joint ventures, 439
are private-run and 28 state-operated.
There has also been 521 licensed tour companies in Myanmar including
508 private ones, 12 joint ventures and one foreign company.
According to the data published by the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and
Tourism, there are 3,768 registered tour guides. Of them, English
language guides account for the majority with 2,644 in number, while
Japanese language guides take 486, Chinese language guides 222 and
French language guides 189.
Due to the impact of the Asian financial crisis, Myanmar's tourism
business is seen as very poor with most of its hotel rooms remaining
The country's recent target for tourism is to draw 500,000 tourists
Since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in 1988, such contracted
investment in the sector of hotels and tourism has reached 1.054
billion U.S. dollars in 42 projects.
Bangkok Post: The Burma convoy and accountability
April 24, 2001.
Thai authorities acted both legally and correctly in halting the convoy
to Tachilek last week. Indeed, the more information about the shipment
that dribbles out, the more it seems it should be rejected outright.
Thai authorities should give Burma a chance to explain why Thailand
should help to ship the power-generating equipment. If the explanation
is weak, Thailand must consider destroying or sending back the
Initial evidence indicates that the convoy carries equipment to build an
electricity generating plant in northern Burma. Rangoon decided to ship
the containers through Samut Prakan and Thailand as the fastest way to
get to the region. Exactly why Burma refused to move the equipment
through Rangoon port to its northern area is unknown.
The electricity may-or may not-help expand the region's largest
drug-producing centre. Mong Yawn city, centre of the United Wa State
Army, is a new town that is still power hungry. If the proposed power
plant is for Mong Yawn, it is arguably a direct threat to Thai security
and should be destroyed just like any drug precursors or unauthorised
Thailand cannot help-and cannot be seen to be helping-any aid destined
for Mong Yawn and the UWSA. The city is the nerve centre for the
production and trafficking of drugs into, and through, Thailand.
Almost certainly not by coincidence, Rangoon's captive media publicised
pitiful crackdowns on drugs at the weekend-as the fate of the convoy was
under discussion. Authorities in Mandalay seized almost 300,000 speed
tablets from a local trafficker. A court in Lashio last month sentenced
five men to 20 years in prison for trying to sell speed. These are
hardly worth bragging about.
As always, the Burmese silence shows the junta's arrogance. But it also
feeds rumours. At the weekend, there were unconfirmed reports that Thai
customs officers had found methamphetamine-making chemicals on the
convoy. By refusing to make a public statement to justify its power
plant, Burma gives the impression it always gives: Rangoon will do what
it wants, no matter what impact it has on neighbours or its own people.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra quickly realised the environmental
problems involved. Samrerng Bonyopakorn, the current Chiang Rai
governor, used to serve in Lampang. He is well aware of the opposition
to unregulated lignite-fired power plants, having helped to negotiate a
settlement with residents around Mae Moh. Thailand must closely examine
how a lignite facility abutting the frontier will affect the
environment, residents and the Chiang Rai tourist industry.
Then there is the entire background of petty Burmese bloody-mindedness.
In October of 1999, Burmese rebels stormed and seized the Rangoon
embassy on Sathorn road. Thai officials resolved the problem without a
casualty. But this did not meet Burma's standards. So the dictatorship
unilaterally ended all joint fishing licences with private Thai
companies. Rangoon still refuses to discuss the honouring of those
contracts, either with Bangkok or the fishermen it tried to ruin.
Thai border authorities correctly refused to open the Mae Sai border
gate to let the convoy pass. Thailand has urged Burma for several months
to open the frontier for normal trade. It has refused. Burma has shown
no urgent reason to open the gates for one convoy. It cannot demand
privileges for big shots.
Tit-for-tat retaliation is not an acceptable reason to halt the convoy
at the border. But there are several vital reasons why it should not
proceed. By available evidence, Burma intends to continue construction
of facilities that pose direct risks to Thailand. The convoy should be
parked under close guard in Bangkok until this sorry episode is
completely, and publicly, sorted out.
ALTSEAN-Burma: Help Needed to Differentiate Fantasy from Reality
Oral intervention at the UN Commission on Human Rights
Item 19: Advisory services and technical co-operation in the field of
(Delivered by Deborah Stothard, April 20, 2001)
Owing to time constraints, content in [ ] will not be uttered
I speak on behalf of Aliran [Kesedaran Negara].
Last year, under this item, I called for the provision of refresher
courses on human rights to some government delegations. This was to
address the yawning gap between the human rights that some delegations
speak of, the human rights violations their governments practice and
human rights as is understood by the Office of the High Commissioner
on Human Rights.
Last year, I also sought that technical and advisory services be
provided to help governments overcome the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome
which induces them to vociferously proclaim their human rights
achievements while they perpetrate yet more violations at home. Just
last week, as the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission was
congratulating itself on its achievements here in this very room, the
Kuala Lumpur home of Muslim legal expert Dr Badrul Amin Baharom was
being surrounded by more than 20 police. Dr Badrul was taken from his
home at 2 a.m. local time, [obviously at an hour that he was less
likely to be in a militant mood]. He is now being detained without
trial at a secret location under the Internal Security Act [a similar
fate to that being suffered by the seven other ISA detainees. ]
[Dr Badrul Amin Baharom has a degree in Syariah Law from the Al-Azhar
University in Egypt, studied comparative law at the University of Kent
and obtained a doctorate in philosophy from Birmingham. He is a former
law lecturer at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur,
is a well-known preacher and motivational speaker, and is Youth Exco
member of the National Justice Party. It is anticipated that activist
Abdul Malek Hussein and Justice Party Youth leader Lokman Noor Adam
are also targets for detention without trial under the ISA. Abdul
Malek Hussein was subjected to various forms of torture, including
sexual abuse, when he was last detained under the ISA in 1998.]
The Jekyll and Hyde situation has not changed, so we are here again to
report and discuss issues that may not be discussed at home. It is also
tragic to note that many governments continue to be misguided by the
precept that depriving people of their human rights is the best way to
increase people s value for their rights.
Therefore, you can imagine my concern when I discovered another urgent
need for technical assistance to help governments differentiate
between reality and fantasy. I am not addressing the general tendency
to diplomatic euphemism, or to embroider and/or stretch the truth. I
am referring to situations where governments rip the truth to shreds,
throw the pieces to the ground and then proceed to dance a jig upon
A compelling example is document E/CN.4/2001/140 in which the Myanmar
delegation claims the country is free of human rights abuses. It claims
such concrete achievements as the significant economic progress, and
the social and cultural uplift and the improvement of the living
standards of the people .
May I remind the Commission of the World Bank s findings that
government spending on education [as a share of national income is
amongst the lowest in the world], in real terms has fallen to less
than a tenth of what it was ten years ago. [Official data shows that
it has fallen from about 1,200 Kyat per child (5-9 years) in 1990-91
to 100 Kyat in 1999-2000. Source: Myanmar: An Economic and Social
Assessment World Bank 1999]. The Asian Development Bank has
highlighted the disturbingly high rate of child mortality and the
higher than average rate of infant mortality. [The ADB finds the
declining expenditure on health and education particularly worrisome
and notes that the benefits of economic growth do not seem to be well
distributed with wide regional and ethnic differences Source: Asian
Development Outlook 2000, Asian Development Bank 2000]. The SPDC s
achievements include the following realities:
* Four per cent of men and 2 per cent of women in Burma are heroin
abusers [compared with the global population average of 0.22%. Source:
World Drug Report 2000, UNDCP 2001]
* UNAIDS figures estimate that 530,000 HIV infections occurred in the
year 2000. The regime only admits 25,000 HIV-positive people.
* An estimated 2 million people have been displaced by military
activities in recent years [Burma Ethnic Research Group]
* State parties have killed Hundreds of people in massacres and other
* Hundreds of pro-democracy and human rights activists have been
subjected to a revolving door system of detention, torture, release
and re-arrest. There are also long-term prisoners, some of whom have
been permanently disabled by the conditions of their detention, and
some of whom have already served their sentences but not have been
* A significant number of the 35,959 primary schools claimed by the
SPDC were actually established and maintained by local communities,
not public spending. [The only contribution of the regime has been to
install its own notice board.]
The vivid imagination of the SPDC has no place in this Commission.
Urgent technical assistance of various kinds is needed to help the
Myanmar regime, and certain other governments in this Commission,
understand what is acceptable as the truth and what is not. Otherwise,
the threat of infection is great. It would be a global tragedy indeed,
if the U N Commission on Human Rights were to become a hostage to
fantasy and deceit.
Asian Women's Electronic Networking Training Workshop
The Asia Women's Resource Exchange (AWORC), an Internet-based network
of women's resource and information providers in Asia will hold the
Third Asian Women's Electronic Networking Training Workshop or WENT2001
on July 2-8, 2001 at the Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, Korea.
The annual workshop aims to build the capacities of women and their
organisations to utilise new information and communication technologies
in social and policy advocacy. This year's workshop offers three
parallel instructional tracks: Web-based Information Services, Using
ICT for Social and Policy Advocacy, and Information Management Using
All participants will engage in extensive hands-on training using the
Sookmyung Women's University's advanced computing and networking
facilities. The instructional tracks will be led by an all-women
training team composed of library administrators, database developers,
web developers and system administrators who have extensive experience
in running training workshops.
WENT2001 is open to all women whose organisations play or will play a
significant role in promoting the use of information and communication
technology to enhance women's role and capacity in social and policy
advocacy, as well as to strengthen women's organisations and networks
in Asia and the Pacfic.
For more information about WENT and AWORC, write to
went-info@xxxxxxxxxxx or visit: http:// www.jca.apc.org/aworc
The training workshop will be from July 2-8, 2001. Participants should
be at the workshop location by the evening of July 1. Departure from
Seoul will be on July 9.
APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION
Deadline for submission of application is May 15, 2001. Application
can be sent via web, email, fax, or post.
HOW TO APPLY
APPLICATION CAN BE DONE VIA WEB, EMAIL, FAX OR POST.
1. If applying by ELECTRONIC MAIL, copy and paste the questionnaire on
your email message.
***Please use plain text, no attachments.***
The "Subject" line of the message should contain your surname or
family name in the following format:
Subject: WENT2001 Application: last-name, first-name
Applications submitted electronically should be sent to:
2. If applying by FAX or POST, print and fill up the application form
and send to:
Asian Pacific Women's Information and Network Center Sookmyung
Women's University 53-12 Chungpa-Dong 2-Ka,
Youngsan-Ku, Seoul, 140-742, Korea
Attn: WENT2001 APPLY
Tel. No: +82-2-710-9886, 9687
Fax No: +82-2-710-9689
3. WEB applications will be available from April 20, 2001.
Nonviolent Action, a Workshop for Trainers and Facilitators
Invitation to Free Burma Activists
At the newly established Eden Valley Training Center situated at a
lovely retreat north of Washington DC. Eden Valley is a new (affordable)
social change training center for citizens located in Dayton, Maryland.
May 12, 13th 2001 Sat and Sunday all day
Guided by Nadine Bloch, long time activist & trainer and
Michael Beer, Director, Nonviolence International.
Cost: sliding scale, suggested fee $100, includes camping or sleeping
space and food.
Register ASAP, email nbloch@xxxxxxx and dancinrainbow@xxxxxxxxxxxxx We
have only a few spaces remaining.
This workshop is provided for activists in the Washington-Baltimore area
who want to improve their skills as a nonviolent action
facilitator/trainer? Are you looking for new training methods and
approaches? Are you looking to integrate more powerful nonviolent action
into your environmentalist, feminist, unionist, revolutionary, religous,
or internationalist circles? Come join with other diverse DC-Baltimore
Activists. If you have more questions, you can contact the emails above
or reach Michael Beer at 202-244-0951.
The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive
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