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BurmaNet News: June 6, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 6, 2001 Issue # 1819
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Reuters: Myanmar military prepares veterans for politics
*BMA: A Cabinet Minister Detained in Burma
*DVB: Anyone caught with anti-junta books, items to receive heavy jail
*Reuters: Myanmar Textbook Calls Thais Lazy, Pleasure Seeking
*Asian Human Rights Commission: State and Sangha in Burma
*AFP: EU earmarks funds for Myanmar refugees in Thailand
*The Assam Tribune: NKuki ultras form alliance to fight Naga, Meitei
*Reuters: U.S. envoy calls for Myanmar talk results soon
*AP: Leading Myanmar historian unhappy with anti-Thai textbook
*AP: Experts--Thailand as much to blame in war of words with Myanmar
*Project Maje: Loss of a Veteran Free Burma Activist
*Mizzima: Burmese women visits Tibetan headquarters in Dharamsala
*Burma Media Association: Burma's new history text not the view of
*Xinhua: Myanmar Calls For Enhanced Cooperation to Overcome
*PD Burma: Burma events calendar
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Reuters: Myanmar military prepares veterans for politics
YANGON, June 6 (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government has called on
war veterans to take a greater role in politics amid signs the ruling
generals may be preparing for some form of democracy and civilian
State-owned media on Wednesday quoted Myanmar leader Than Shwe calling
for the Myanmar War Veterans Organisation (MWVO) to become a stronger
``You have to make efforts for the emergence of a strong organisation
with dynamic efficiency in order to successfully carry out the...tasks
of the War Veterans Organisation: national politics, state defence,
security, economy, community service, social activities and welfare,''
Than Shwe told a MWVO conference on Tuesday.
Local political observers say military leaders may be setting the war
veterans up as their political vehicle, together with the
government-sponsored Union Solidarity and Development Association
(USDA), for possible future national elections.
At the conference, Than Shwe told the war veterans to step up
co-operation with the USDA.
``The USDA, formed with 16 million new generation youths, is already
discharging national political duties in the whole country as the
leading national political association,'' he said.
The speech came a day after United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail
wound up a visit to Myanmar by telling diplomats he expected a
transition from military to civilian government in two to four years.
During his visit, Ismail met senior military leaders and pro-democracy
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who have been in delicate talks
since the end of last year.
The MWVO, founded in 1975, has a vast organisational network with some
The USDA was originally formed in 1993 as a social association, but it
has since become a key pro-government organ, carrying out
anti-opposition campaigns and mass rallies.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last democratic
elections in Myanmar by a landslide in 1990.
The party was never allowed to govern by the ruling State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) and Suu Kyi spent long periods in the 1990s
under house arrest.
BMA: A Cabinet Minister Detained in Burma
A Cabinet Minister Detained in Burma
By Tin Maung Htoo
Burma Media Association
June 6, 2001
In the past years the interest of business and its rapidly emerging
conflict among Burmese military generals have been getting wider and
looming clear as a minister of Telecommunications, Post and Telegraphs
Brigadier General Win Tin is reportedly being detained in Burma, BMA
observed based on reliable sources in Rangoon.
This is the second time to ruin its top ministers after the deputy
minister of Economic and Planning Maj. Gen. Zaw Htun was ousted last
year on charges of criticizing his government's incompetent economic
plans, false statement of economic data and rampant corruption. But
this case is, according to sources, not related to political dissent or
opposing against the ruling military.
Sources in Burma said Brig. General Win Tin has been in Yaykyiai
detention center for one month and has been under investigation on his
role over a business conflict between his son and Kyaw Ne Win, the son
of Sanda Win. Both have the interest of conflict in illegal Burma's
unstable currency market.
The BMA sources monitoring the development in Burma from neighboring
countries Indian and Thailand confirmed about this news and suggested
the business interest of conflict could be the matter of victimizing the
minister Win Tin.
There have been some scandals reported in recent months regarding
telecommunication sectors, which is under the supervision of the
detained minister. Particularly, Skylink, mobile phones company, which
is owned by Sanda Win and her husband Aye Zaw Win, reported to sell to
Wa ethnic could be another possible matter of the center of the
conflict, suggested some other observers.
According to sources, Sanda Win, the daughter of former dictator Ne Win,
could be the main player of this arising sign of conflict as she
effectively manipulates some influential generals in the current
military government. She is supposed to be a closed friend and a leading
collaborator of military leader Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt in lunching a
counterrevolution against the 1988-democracy movement in Burma, thus it
could a retroactive effect of her influence in today's Burma.
DVB: Anyone caught with anti-junta books, items to receive heavy jail
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that announcements have been
put up at the ward Peace and Development Council [PDC] offices in
Rangoon that anyone caught with anti-SPDC [State Peace and Development
Council] government books and tapes will be arrested. DVB correspondent
Myint Maung Maung filed this report.
[Myint Maung Maung] These announcements signed by the district chairmen
have been posted at the ward PDC offices in Rangoon since 1 June. The
announcement stated that anyone caught with anti-government magazines,
books, tapes, CDs, or videos in their possession will be arrested and
sentenced to 5 to 10 years imprisonment while anyone caught renting,
selling, or reproducing such items will be arrested and sentenced to 10
to 20 years imprisonment. The announcement also stated that anyone
caught publishing, producing, selling or renting any pamphlet, magazine,
book, tape, CD, or video without the approval of the relevant government
ministry or the regional administrative authorities will be regarded as
an anti-government individual and will be punished accordingly.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 4 Jun 01
Reuters: Myanmar Textbook Calls Thais Lazy, Pleasure Seeking
June 6, 2001 9:20 am EST
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai-Myanmar relations soured further Wednesday with
the distribution of a compulsory Myanmar school textbook which describes
Thais as lazy, opportunistic and pleasure-seeking.
"They have little desire to depend on themselves and very little
interest in violence or hard work," a chapter on the Thai national
"Thai people are characterized by indulging in beauty and pleasure," it
says. Myanmar's exiled democracy movement apologized for the textbook,
while Thailand called it a "misunderstanding" that could harm already
strained bilateral ties.
Relations between the two Southeast Asian nations -- enemies for
centuries -- have been deteriorating over the past few months following
a series of clashes on their 2,400-km (1,490 mile) border. Thailand
accuses Myanmar of fostering a booming cross-border drugs trade, while
Myanmar says Thailand is encouraging unrest among its many ethnic
The text book, which will be compulsory for students between the ages of
nine and 14 years, particularly criticizes what it says is Thailand's
"bend with the wind" foreign policy.
One chapter, which focuses on the future of bilateral relations, says
Thailand is a "bad neighbor" which has the wrong attitudes toward the
Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said on Wednesday he had not
taken any diplomatic action over the book but would raise the issue when
he met Myanmar leaders. "Creating misunderstanding is not healthy for
the relations of the people of both countries," he said. He said
Thailand thought the textbook content was an incorrect interpretation of
history, but that the issue was ultimately a domestic one.
Myanmar's foreign minister Win Aung is scheduled to pay an official
visit to Thailand during June. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
has also said he plans to visit Myanmar soon to improve bilateral ties.
"We would like to apologize to the people of Thailand for the
publication of the textbook," the Bangkok-based All Burma Students'
Democratic Front said in a statement. "We deeply regret this and would
like to state that this is not the view of the people of Burma
Asian Human Rights Commission: State and Sangha in Burma
AHRC - Human Rights SOLIDARITY -
July 2000 Volume 10 No. 7 - State and Sangha in Burma
Gautama Buddha envisaged a role for the Buddhist clergy, the Sangha, as
moral guardian of political life: "In the Aggana Sutta the sociogenesis
of political power is traced to a social contract. In his discourses to
kings, the Buddha indicated his preference for consensual government
based on just laws... Unleashing state terror against the people, the
Buddha warned rulers, would drive resentment underground. Violence
would erupt again and society would be caught in an unending spiral of
violence and counter-violence." (Nalin Swaris, Magga: The Buddha's Way
to Human Liberation, 1997, p. 403.) Other discourses, such as the Satta
Aparihaniya Dhamma, offer rulers advice on ensuring their people's
In Burma, the Buddhist clergy historically served as a counter-weight to
oppressive governance. For centuries, kings both sought the Sangha's
approval and attempted to limit its power, as monks held a range of
unique social, political and economic sanctions with which to undermine
incompetent rulers. Later, under the colonial regime, their
legitimising influence was no longer sought and government agents
merely viewed monks with suspicion: "Nearly every, if not every,
serious uprising against the British Government was concocted in some
form of monastery... It seems strange that monasteries, rather than
courts of justice or private dwellings, were the favourite haunts of
these scheming scoundrels." (WW Cochrane, The Shans, Vol. 1, 1915, p.
212.) Given that the Europeans had comprehensively dismantled the
social structures through which monks and nuns derived authority and
consistently desecrated Buddhist places of worship, monastic opposition
to their presence should perhaps have been less surprising.
The Sangha's traditional relationship to the government underwent
renewal in more recent times. Both the post-independence
government and successive military regimes have desired the clergy's
sanction, yet have attempted to diminish its influence to a passive
non-threatening level. The current regime has taken both to new
lengths. In the absence of another governing ideology it
has developed a role for itself, in mimicry of ancient monarchs, as
religious patron. Almost daily generals queue to offer donations and
oversee openings of new religious institutions (see official media at
www.myanmar.com/nlm). Simultaneously, the government exercises control
through a central committee of senior monks and a programme for
"purification" of the Sangha, amounting to the systematic eradication of
anti-military elements within its ranks. Years of infiltration and
intimidation have seemingly weakened resistance, yet monks and nuns both
prominent and obscure continue to defy government edicts.
Recent reports indicate a new public rift between State and Sangha. It
said to have begun when two popular abbots, Pegu
Kyahkhatwine Sayadaw and Maha Gandhayon Sayadaw, admonished both the
armed forces and democratic opposition for the ongoing political
stalemate in the country, ten years since results of the last election
were rejected by the military. In response, the army began imposing
restrictions on the abbots and lay-followers. The conflict grew and
soon, according to exiled monks in Thailand, plans were afoot for a
march on Rangoon. Official media sources reported that police met with
select senior monks and told them "to be on guard against the insidious
danger of some members of the Sangha". About one hundred monks arrived
individually in Rangoon from Mandalay, in spite of restrictions imposed
on travel, but authorities were aware of their presence. In the
capital, the deadline for protests passed apparently without incident.
Independent radio stations reported on disturbances in Mandalay, and
Mergui in the south, however these appear to have been stifled by an
intimidating military and police presence.
That nothing much seems to have happened is not surprising. Almost
without exception, mass uprisings in Burma have occurred
spontaneously. Proclamations for change have met with vigilance from
authorities and corresponding muteness from the populace. But nor should
the absence of open confrontation be taken as a lack of activism on the
part of either clergy or lay-people. Numerous examples testify to the
stand by monks and nuns in Burma against militarization, such as when
Aung San Suu Kyi was welcomed by the famous Thamanyar Sayadaw after her
release from house arrest in 1995. Photographs of the meeting were
widely circulated and this simple act by the old abbot was enough to
send military minds reeling. And while the actions of
important persons attract widespread attention, courageous acts of
less-prominent religious figures have also become the stuff of legend.
In the east of the country, a local militia commander in a civil war
area informed an abbot that his soldiers were going to burn down a
nearby church. The Sayadaw replied, "When you have finished, come back
and burn down my monastery too" and spoke to the officer on the virtue
of all religions, averting the arson. The devotees of an abbot in the
north were forced to labour on a road rather than attend a religious
festival, so the monk came to the construction site. The villagers laid
down their tools while the abbot preached that suffering occurs in
countries with rulers who have breached the moral laws laid out by
Buddha in the Cakkavatta Sihanda Sutta. In Burma to make such criticism
of the military, however obtuse, is nothing less than a
No doubt the last decade has left Burma's Sangha worse for wear. The
intimidation, arrests and subjugation of "destructive
elements" within its ranks have been thorough and relentless. However,
reports suggesting it has been weakened to the point of
ineffectuality are ultimately unconvincing, as recent events serve to
demonstrate. They tell us more of the media's weaknesses
than those of the clergy. Currents of resistance often run deep, not
easily recognised by the casual observer. Regardless of
headlines, the Sangha will doubtless continue the struggle to fulfill
Gautama's mandate in quiet day-to-day defence of human rights and
dignity in Burma.
[This article first appeared in the Religious Groups for Human Rights
e-newsletter of June 7,
AFP: EU earmarks funds for Myanmar refugees in Thailand
BRUSSELS, June 6 (AFP) - The European Commission said Wednesday it has
allocated 4.5 million euros (3.84 million dollars) in humanitarian aid
to help Myanmar refugees in frontier areas of Thailand.
In a statement, the European Union's executive branch said the funds
would be channelled by its humanitarian aid office ECHO "through
partners working in the field" which it did not identify.
"The aid allocated for 2001 will be used for basic food aid, including
the provision of drinking water, and health care, including community
health programs and education in health and sanitary issues," it said.
It added that ECHO was also engaged in efforts to prevent the forced
repatriation of refugees.
Some 90,000 refugees in four different camps are covered by Wednesday's
announcement, the statement said.
ECHO has been operating refugee camps on the Thai border since 1995, it
said. Total funding for 1999 and 2000 amounted to nine million euros.
The Assam Tribune: NKuki ultras form alliance to fight Naga, Meitei
Guwahati, Saturday, June 2, 2001
AIZAWL, June 1 ?? Four tribal militant groups of Manipur and one of
Myanmar recently formed an umbrella organisation to fight unitedly
against Naga and Meitei insurgents, highly placed police sources said
here on Friday, reports PTI. Indigenous People??s Revolutionary Alliance
(IPRA) consisted of Zomi Revolutionary Organisation (ZRD), Kiki National
Front (P), Kuki National Front (MC), Hmar People??s Convention ??
Democratic (HPC-D) and Myanmar??s Kuki National Army, the sources said.
Formation of IPRA came close on the heels of cessation of ethnic clashes
between the Kukis and the Paites/Zomis in Manipur who wanted to protect
the Zo ethnic groups against NSCN-IM and Meitei groups like UNLF, PLA
and PREPAK. Zro President Thanlianpau is the chairman of IPRA, former
general secretary of KNF (P) and KNA??s ??army chief?? Vipin Haokip are
the vice chairman and general secretary respectively, the sources said.
Zro and its armed wing ZRA procured arms from Myanmar, they said.
Reuters: U.S. envoy calls for Myanmar talk results soon
By Nopporn Wong-Anan
BANGKOK, June 6 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official called on Wednesday
for progress in historic talks between the Myanmar military and
pro-democracy opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi, following reports that
the dialogue may have stalled.
``We hope the dialogue, which has been going on for eight months, would
produce a result in the near future,'' Ralph Boyce, the State
Department's deputy assistant secretary for East Asia, told reporters
after meeting Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.
Boyce's trip to Southeast Asia follows a four-day visit to Myanmar by
veteran Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail, the U.N. special envoy to
Yangon. Razali's trip ended on Monday.
Razali is reported to have said he hoped civilian rule would emerge in
the decade-long military-ruled Myanmar within four years and urged the
opposition to have confidence in historic peace talks with the military
But Boyce, speaking in Thai, urged ``Myanmar-interested nations'' to
wait for the outcome of the dialogue before they gave any extra
assistance to Myanmar.
The United States has long been one of the sternest critics of
Myanmar's ruling military and its suppression of Suu Kyi and the
Washington has imposed sanctions against Myanmar including the
suspension of assistance programmes, a ban on sales of military items,
suspension of Myanmar's access to favourable tariff rates and opposition
to multilateral lending.
The United States has also banned new U.S. investment in the country
and visas for senior Myanmar officials.
But Japan said in April it would grant Myanmar a 3.5 billion yen ($29
million) aid package to reward the military government for entering
talks with Suu Kyi.
The grant, for developing a hydroelectric power plant in eastern
Myanmar, was the largest Japanese aid package for Myanmar since 1988,
when many countries ceased assistance to Myanmar after the current
military government took power.
Leading members of the military have been holding regular meetings with
Suu Kyi since October, raising hopes that the political statemate that
has gripped Myanmar for more than a decade could finally be broken.
Both sides agreed to keep the content of the talks confidential and
even senior members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD),
which won elections by a landslide in 1990 but has never been allowed to
govern, say they have no information on what progress has been made.
Foreign diplomats in Yangon say they believe the dialogue has been
stalled in recent months, amid talk of a heightened power struggle
between senior members of the government.
Boyce said he was still not happy with the human rights situation in
Myanmar where many political prisoners have been jailed.
In February, the U.S. State Department strongly criticised the military
government in its annual report on human rights, saying the people of
Myanmar were denied the most basic social and political freedoms.
AP: Leading Myanmar historian unhappy with anti-Thai textbook
June 6, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A well-known Myanmar historian expressed
unhappiness Thursday at a new fourth-grade history textbook that
portrays Thais as lazy and servile.
``We are not happy about it. Neither side should indulge in hatred and
continue it,'' said Than Tun, one of Asia's leading historians.
``As Buddhists, enmity should not be responded by enmity. The matter
should be dealt with diplomatically,'' he told The Associated Press.
Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said Wednesday that the
textbook would worsen Thai-Myanmar relations, which are already at their
lowest point in years. He, however, ruled out lodging a diplomatic
The 12-page supplemental history book, introduced Monday in government
schools, also blames former Thai kings of being war mongers.
``Wars between the two countries in the past were conflicts between the
feudal kings and not between the people of two nations,'' said Than Tun,
Than Tun, who got his Ph.d from London University in 1952, worked in
various capacities at the Yangon and Mandalay universities until 1982.
He later worked as professor in charge of Myanmar language branch at the
Tokyo university and visiting professor at the Michigan University in
the United States. He won the Fukuoka Asian Academic prize of Japan last
The textbook says Thai people are given to ``fun and appreciation of
beauty. They are disinclined to self-reliance and hard work.''
``In order to keep their thrones, Thai kings often yield to the West
European nations,'' says the Myanmar-language books, in an apparent
reference to the fact that unlike other Southeast Asian countries
Thailand was never colonized by a Western power.
Another Myanmar historian, who declined to be identified for fear of
retribution by the ruling military junta, said the textbook could
instill hatred against the Thais in young minds.
He said the book was apparently introduced in the curriculum to counter
anti-Myanmar Thai textbooks that portray Myanmar kings as thieves and
Many Thai analysts also said Wednesday that Thailand is equally guilty
of distorting history concerning its neighbors.
Myanmar history expert Sunait Chutintranon said Thai history textbooks
talk about neighbors as enemies.
Thai-Myanmar relations have soured over Thai accusations that the junta
does little to stop the production of drugs in its border areas where an
ethnic armed group, the United Wa State Army, has virtual control. The
drugs, largely methamphetamines, land in Thailand in huge quantities.
Myanmar says it is doing everything it can to stop the trafficking and
says Thailand should crackdown on corrupt officials who are also
involved in the trafficking.
AP: Experts--Thailand as much to blame in war of words with Myanmar
June 6, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Thailand is equally guilty of distorting
history concerning its neighbors, analysts said Wednesday after Myanmar
released a new fourth grade textbook that portrayed Thais as lazy and
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, apparently hoping to prevent a new
war of words with Myanmar, or Burma, declined to comment on the book and
urged both sides to stop trading angry words.
``Myanmar is very sensitive to news report from Thailand, so the best
thing for both sides it to stop trading accusations and let the leaders
settle matters,'' Thaksin told reporters.
The Education Ministry in Myanmar, or Burma, introduced the 12-page
history textbook supplement for the 2001-2002 academic year in state-run
schools that reopened Monday. One section of the book says: ``Thai
people are given to fun and appreciation of beauty. They are disinclined
to self-reliance and hard work.''
The textbook was released as Thai-Myanmar relations are at their lowest
level in years, principally over Thailand's accusations that Myanmar's
ruling military junta aids drug traffickers.
Myanmar denies the charge and accuses Thailand of supporting
anti-government rebels. Their arguments have sparked frequent border
skirmishes since January.
Myanmar history expert Sunait Chutintranon warned that the textbook
will have a lasting impact on bilateral relations if young Burmese were
``taught to hate the Thais.''
But Sunait and other experts agreed that Thailand must also set its own
house in order and stop portraying its neighbors in a negative light in
its textbooks and movies.
``In Thai history textbooks, we talk about our neighbors as our
enemies. We only tell stories of wars that we won and made people of
neighboring countries our slaves. From now on we should put other
aspects in our textbooks,'' Sunait told ITV television network.
Thai textbooks portray medieval Myanmar kings as thieves who only
wanted to loot Siam, as Thailand was formerly called.
``In a way, the Myanmar textbook is a quid pro quo,'' said Sulak
Sivaraksa, a leading Thai social critic.
He said the textbook may be a Myanmar government effort to deflect
attention from its own troubles -- a weak economy, accusations of human
rights abuses and international pressure to allow a return of civilian
``The (Myanmar) government is very weak right now and they need to find
a common enemy. I feel sorry for them,'' Sulak said.
He said he did not believe the Myanmar people would be influenced by
the textbooks issued by their ``oppressive government.''
``It's very simple. In Burma nobody takes the government texts
seriously. The Burmese people are a lovely people and on the whole they
like the Thais,'' he told The Associated Press.
In addition to the border skirmishes, Thai-Myanmar relations have been
strained by Myanmar newspaper articles criticizing the monarchy and a
recent Thai movie, Bang Rajan, about an 18th century Thai-Myanmar war.
The movie, a box office hit, is about a group of Thai villagers led by
a young man who rides a buffalo to valiantly but unsuccessfully defend
his land against invading Myanmar troops before they sacked the ancient
Siamese capital of Ayuthaya.
``Thailand and Myanmar should be more open to each other in terms of
culture and academic knowledge exchange,'' said Kraisak Choonhavan, a
senator and a proponent of better relations with Myanmar.
``We cannot change history, but we can make it based on truth,'' he
told the AP
Mizzima: Burmese women visits Tibetan headquarters in Dharamsala
Dharamsala, June 6, 2001
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
For the first time, exiled Burmese women activists visited the
headquarters of the Tibetan Government in exile at Dharamsala in
Himachel Pradesh of India and exchanged experiences with the Tibetan
women activists. At the invitation of the Tibetan Women?s Association
(TWA), six leaders of India-based Women Rights and Welfare Association
of Burma (WRWAB) visited the Tibetan establishments in Dharamsala from
During the three-day visit, the Burmese women visited the various places
of the Tibetans? headquarters including the Reception Center for newly
arrived Tibetan refugees, Tibetan Children?s Villages (TCV), Tibetan
Institute for Performing Arts, Tibetan Museum, Tibetan Medical &
Astrological Institute and Stitches of Tibet.
?We are very glad to host the Burmese women delegates. Through these
exchange visits, we hope to strengthen the friendship between Tibetan
and Burmese sisters and hope to promote extending support and solidarity
each other?, said Mrs. Dolkar Lhamo, president of Tibetan Women?s
TWA was originally founded in Tibet on March 12, 1959, a day after the
national uprising of March 10, 1959 against the Chinese occupation of
Tibet. The organization was reinstated in 1984 by Tibetan women in exile
with the main objective of raising public awareness about the abuses
faced by Tibetan women in Chinese-occupied Tibet. The central office
being situated in Dharamsala, it has now 40 branches all over the world
with more than ten thousands members. It also places great priority on
the contributions of Tibetan women towards the preservation and
promotion of the distinct religion, culture, and identity of the Tibetan
people. ?Women in Tibet are double oppressed. First they are oppressed
being Tibetans and secondly they are oppressed being women? added Mrs.
During the visit, the Burmese women delegates also met the Tibetan women
Members of Parliament and visited the Tibetan parliament in session.
?Out of 46 members in the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples? Deputies in
exile, there are at present ten women parliamentarians, with more than
20% of the parliamentarian seats held by women?, explained Mrs. Dolkar
Lhamo, a Member of Parliament herself.
?It was a great opportunity for all of us as we learnt many things from
the vast experiences of Tibetan women activists. In the three-days, we
also explained about the situation of Burmese women, our activities and
Burma?s democratic movement to the Tibetan friends and sisters. They
support our movement as well?, said Daw Molly, president of WRWAB at the
end of the visit.
Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1949, His Holiness the
Dalai Lama escaped to India and formed the government in exile to carry
out the struggle of Tibetan people against the Chinese occupation. Due
to the continued Chinese occupation and human rights abuses in their
homeland, about two hundred Tibetans continue to escape to India every
month through Nepal. There are estimated one lakh and thirty thousands
Tibetans living as refugees in various parts of India.
Project Maje: Loss of a Veteran Free Burma Activist
Our dear friend and mentor, Don Erickson, has died, leaving a legacy of
activists who know how to fight corporate power and stand up for
freedom. A veteran of the terrible conflict of World War II, a respected
teacher, a lifelong student of world history, Don poured his heart and
soul into the stuggle for Burma's human rights. As a Synapses member he
was well-experienced in fighting for global justice, and with the 1988
democracy uprising in Burma he understood the fledgling Free Burma
movement's strategic needs immediately. As an original participant in
the campaign for corporate withdrawal from Burma, he showed us all what
could be done and how to do it. Most importantly, he showed us that
nothing is impossible in this struggle. He was determined to stop
foreign investment from bankrolling the arms purchases of Burma's
Don faced down the oil giant Amoco, sometimes with just him and Winston
Khin holding each end of a banner in front of that company's enormous
Chicago headquarters. Don initiated the first shareholder meeting
actions on Burma, at Amoco, and arranged a face to face meeting with
Amoco executives (after wearing them down with many a demo in the cold
Chicago wind and snow.) Amoco pulled out of Burma, thanks to Don's
determined efforts. Don showed everyone that it could be done -- a huge
multinational petroleum company could be made to do the right thing.
Next, Don turned to the garment manufacturers going into Burma,
commencing a campaign that continues to this day. He personally
convinced national clothing firms Liz Claiborne and Oshkosh to pull out
of Burma, with a combination of small, focused picketing, compelling
letters, and meetings. As with Amoco, he literally showed the rest of us
how to do it, using his decades of experience in the peace and justice
movement. He endured corporate harassment, he relied on himself even if
nobody else would show up, and he always outlasted the companies. His
pressure on Unocal board member Dean Jacobs ceased only when Jacobs
resigned from the board.
A familiar face at many a Burma conference, Don quietly inspired us all.
He initiated the first Burma contact with the Center for Constitutional
Rights, which eventually led to the groundbreaking Unocal lawsuit, and
networked with many other organizations for the Burma cause, bringing in
university students, Catholic Workers, and many more. He contributed
ceaselessly of his own time, money, and energy. A slight, spry figure,
he always gave away a smile with a leaflet, and rarely raised his voice
unless in a chant against corporate power. He was a stalwart opponent
(often arrested) of the notorious School of the Americas training ground
for tyranny, and an early foe of harmful globalization, decrying the WTO
before most of us had ever heard of it. Staying fit through massage and
folk dancing, Don had an ever-young appearance, and kept up with the
teenaged marchers, with his daypack and blue jeans.
His final campaign was again versus an immense foe, the Dutch bank ABN
Amro, which owns Chicago's Lasalle Bank. Once again, with a textbook
anti-corporate campaign, often utterly alone, Don prevailed over the
powers that be, forcing the Dutch bank to announce termination of its
Burma business. The fact that Burma's regime admitted dwindling foreign
investment the day before Don's death is a tribute to our friend. He
personally removed much of the US dollars that were pouring into the
coffers of Burma's military in the 1990s. He prevented the SLORC/SPDC
from becoming an ever stronger, richer military regime, through his
actions, and his example. He lobbied, wrote letters to officials and
executives, picketed, marched, chanted, vigil'd, and inspired us. He was
vital to making the international Free Burma campaign the force it is
I will miss Don terribly, personally. He literally was my guru in this
struggle, as well as a true friend.. But even without his voice on the
phone, we should let him continue to inspire us, in our campaigns for
Sen. Harkin's export ban bill, in our pressure on the garment, teak,
mining and petroleum companies which continue to prop up Burma's brutal
junta. And one day -- before long -- when the brave people of Burma have
their freedom at last, we will again remember our friend Don Erickson,
in Moulmein and Mandalay and Myitkyina.
-- Edith T. Mirante
note email address for messages of condolence to Don's brother, below:
Subject: Re: Don Erickson
We're sorry to inform you that Don Erickson, our friend and brother in
the struggle for the people of Burma, passed away at 11:30pm on Sunday,
June 3 of cancer.
For many years, Don coordinated Synapses Project Burma with singular
focus and dogged persistence on behalf of the Burmese people and was
amazingly successful at driving exploitative companies out of Burma.
The family will have a private funeral service and Don's friends and
co-workers are planning a memorial service (details to be announced).
Messages may be sent to <synapses@xxxxxxx> or directly to Don's
brother, Bob, at <bevbob236@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Please help pass this message on to others who knew Don. Peace,
Burma Media Association: Burma's new history text not the view of
June 6, 2001
The new 4th graders' history textbook, which will be mandatory in all
schools in Burma, is offensive to Thai people and goes against the views
of the people of Burma. The ABSDF deeply regrets the revision of the
history, which is inaccurate and racist.
"We would like to apologise to the people of Thailand for the
publication of the textbook. It seems like the only purpose it serves is
to anger Thai people, worsen bilateral relations and create
misunderstanding. There is a total censorship in Burma, anything that
gets pass the censors represent the views of the ruling military
establishment. We deeply regret this and would like to state that this
is not the views of the people of Burma" comments ABSDF Chairperson Than
The democracy movement has a long-term aim at progressive education,
which teaches ideals of peace and respect. Schools in the liberated
areas are teaching a different version of history which focuses on
positive aspects of Thai - Burma relations. This includes ways to
correct the mistakes of the past and aims to harbour good relations in
the future. Good relations with Thailand are essential to the future of
Burma and there is no reason why the two countries should not live in
"History can be highly politicised. We can see how this is effecting
Japanese - Korean relations over the representation of World War 2
history. We hope Thai people will remember that Burma's ruling military
junta does not represent the people of Burma. While the SPDC is in
power, we will continue to teach peace and respect in history classes in
the liberated areas. We need a new curriculum with positive values which
can be used in a future democratic Burma" says Than Khe.
Xinhua: Myanmar Calls For Enhanced Cooperation to Overcome Environmental
YANGON, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar leader Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt
Wednesday called for enhanced international cooperation and efforts to
overcome environmental problems that the world is facing. Khin Nyunt,
first secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, made
the call at a ceremony here marking the World Environment Day. Noting
that all forms of life on earth are interlinked and intertwined in the
form of web, he warned a collapse in one system will impact the other
and eventually lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem. The planet
earth is very fragile with limited capacity to endure and tolerate
environmentally detrimental human actions and pressures, the Myanmar
leader said, adding that over-exploitation of earth's resources, huge
generation of solid wastes, gaseous wastes and wastewater are damaging
the ecosystems and posing serious threats to the environment. Khin Nyunt
emphasized the key role of international cooperation in addressing the
current environmental issues, and appreciated the efforts of the
international organizations, particularly the U. N. Environment Program,
and governments for successfully developing many important multilateral
He called on all nations, big or small, rich or poor, developed or
developing, to work together to make the world a cleaner and safer place
to live. In this respects, he stressed the need for strong support from
the developed countries in terms of technical transfer and financial
assistance to help the developing countries promote environmentally
sound technologies and strengthen environmental institution for
implementing environmental programs. With regard to Myanmar, he said the
country, which is a developing nation, is doing its best to become a
modern and developed state, paying due consideration to environmental
factors. Myanmar is green with more than 50 percent of its land covered
with forest. The land area of reserved and protected forest amounts to
more than 104,000 square kilometers. At present, there are 30
sanctuaries and 4 national parks in the country to protect the natural
environment as well as to protect and preserve wildlife, fauna and
flora. There are over 3,410 kinds of botanical plants in the country, of
which trees take up 2,700 kinds, bamboo 96 kinds and cane 36 kinds.
There are also more than 1,240 kinds of birds.
PD Burma: Burma events calendar
June 6, 2001
 June : Meeting in the Governing Body of the ILO
 June : Meeting of the Socialist International Council, Lisbon
 June 8-10th : Burma Desk during the Italian Forum for
Responsible Tourism, Venice ? Italy
More info., contact r.brusadin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 June 19th : Aung San Suu Kyi birthday party and Burmese
 July : Belgium takes over EU Presidency
 July : 8th RFA Ministerial Meeting, Hanoi
 July : 34th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post-Ministerial
 July : ASEAN Summit
 Aug. 31st- Sep.7th : World Conference against Racism and
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related
intolerance, South Africa
 December 1st : Worlds Aids Day
 December 10th : 10th Year Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize
for Aung San Suu Kyi
 February 2002 : The fourth Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka
and Thailand-Economic Cooperation (BIMST-
EC) meeting, Colombo
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