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BurmaNet News: June 14, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: June 14, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 02:57:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 14, 2001 Issue # 1825
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Mizzima: General's son died in car accident, driving drunk
*VOA: Reports Say Burma's Forced Labor Centers On Ethnic Minorities
*Tokyo Journal: Do Not Pass Go / Go Directly to Jail
*PD Burma Japan: Foreign Minister Tanaka is cautious on Baluchaung
*Calgary Herald: Warfare killed 4,000 child soldiers last year: Myanmar
has most youth recruits
*The New York Times: Taliban's Eradication of Poppies Is Convulsing
*BurmaNet: Regime seeks to eject chief accuser at ILO
*Reuters: Thailand hopes for new era after PM visit to Myanmar
*New Straits Times: Court rejects Myanmar guilty plea of causing
*Bangkok Post: Chavalit scraps plan to go to Rangoon
*Bangkok Post: Chavalit has his way
*BMA: Hacker Attacks Survey of Burma Tourism
*Naew Na (Bangkok) [Editorial says Thaksin trip to Burma ?totally
*Siam Rath/Krungthep Thurakit (Bangkok): [Editorials on Burmese
textbooks slighting Thailand]
*?An Earnest and Urgent Request by Bohmu Aung and Colleagues?
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): The truth that cannot be concealed
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Mizzima: General's son died in car accident, driving drunk
Rangoon, June 13, 2001
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
One of the Burmese top military generals' son died in a car accident
last week in the capital while driving in excessively drunk. Sai Wanna
Zaw, son of Lt-General Win Myint, Secretary 3 of the ruling State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) died last Saturday early morning in
The sources close to the family said Sai Wanna Zaw won a "two-digit"
illegal lottery a day before the accident. At night, he gave a party to
his friends at "Dream" restaurant situated between Bogyoke Aung San
Street and War Tannlan Street in Rangoon.
"Around 4 o'clock in the morning, the party was ended and he left the
restaurant in an excessively drunk condition. He drove off himself",
said a waiter of the restaurant, who wants to remain anonymous.
Minutes after he left, his car first hit a shop on the street and then
it hit another car which was coming from opposite direction. The
incident happened around 4.30 a.m.
VOA: Reports Say Burma's Forced Labor Centers On Ethnic Minorities
Bangkok - 13 Jun 2001 01:36 UTC
By Gary Thomas
Burma is coming under new criticism for the use of forced labor. Two
leading human rights groups have issued almost simultaneous reports
contending that the practice continues, even though it has been
In almost identical reports, both Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch accuse Burma of still utilizing forced labor.
Burma officially outlawed the practice in October. But both Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch say the ban is apparently being
The reports say the country's ethnic minorities have been singled out
for use as porters on construction projects. Based on interviews with
migrants entering Thailand, the two groups allege that laborers are
forced to haul heavy loads over long distances. Amnesty International
charges that hundreds of people have died from exhaustion and beatings.
In an interview in April with VOA, Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister Khin
Maung Win said the government is committed to ending the practice. "We
are now taking the necessary legislative, executive, and administrative
measures to see the end of forced labor in our country," he said. "In
fact, right now, due to the directives we have issued, the instructions
that we have issued, due to the legislative measures we have issued,
forced labor is illegal and is an offense under our law."
But both human rights groups say more international pressure is needed
to get the government to enforce its own ban. Amnesty International
researcher Donna Guest says the central government has to do a better
job of getting word of the ban down to lower levels.
"The generals have adopted a law and they have made it illegal, both for
the army and for civilian administrators, to use forced labor," she
said. "And what we hope is that this trickles down to the local level,
to the local commanders, because I think that is really the problem.
What has happened is that troops are not getting paid properly,
according to reports, so what they do is that they use forced labor to
work on infrastructure projects, and even to farm. They even use
civilians to work on farms because they do not have any food."
Last November, the Geneva-based International Labor Organization called
for member countries and labor organizations to review their ties with
Burma because of the issue.
Khin Maung Win said Burma "greatly regrets" the ILO move, and accused
unnamed internal forces within the organization of trying to smear Burma
over the issue. "Unfortunately, some powerful forces in the ILO are
trying to paint a very black picture regarding the forced labor issue,"
he said, "But you know, last year we have tried to cooperate as much as
possible with the ILO, and even had two of their technical cooperation
missions to our country."
Last month, Burma's military government gave the ILO permission to
conduct an independent probe. On Monday, the ILO announced it plans to
send a team to Burma in September to investigate the country's progress
in ending forced labor
Tokyo Journal: Do Not Pass Go / Go Directly to Jail
By Richard Humphries
We away from Mother s garden
Sighing repeatedly from the prison s iron bars
At our rotten future
Can only utter empty threats
(From Scent of Steel Flowers from Prison, a collection of anonymous
verse by imprisoned Burmese women)
Most societies undergo a generational pattern of defining experience.
This might be a war, worldwide as in the 1940s, or more localized, as
later in Vietnam. It could be an economic cycle-the disheartening depths
of depression years or, conversely, the irrational exuberance of a boom
s gilded age. Burma s present and previous generation have an
acquaintance with both war and depression but is there a clearer symbol?
For the country as a whole metaphorically, and for thousands more in a
very literal sense, the clank of the iron-barred prison door may well be
the collective memory.
It doesn t take much to earn cell space in Burma. Direct political
activity certainly makes the ruling junta see red. A series of laws,
some dating from British times, serve as justification. One, the 1950
Emergency Provisions Act has several clauses. Section 5(j) is used by
the junta to imprison up to seven years, or fine, or both, anyone who
''causes or intends to spread false news, knowing beforehand that it is
More recently the regime has targeted the microchip. Under the 1996
Computer Science Development Law, anyone who imports, keeps, or
utilizes a computer without government permission is in trouble. After
conviction, they will be punished with imprisonment for a term which
may extend from a minimum of 7 years to a maximum of 15 years and may
also be liable to a fine.
In Burma, even irony and satire are enemies to be routed. Pa Pa Lay and
Zu Law were well-known comedians and members of an a-nyeint troupe from
Mandalay. (A-nyeint is a traditional style of Burmese entertainment that
combines orchestral music with dances, jokes, and humorous skits.) Their
performance, lampooning the junta, at Aung San Suu Kyi s compound in
early 1996, was one the regime claimed was liable to destabilize the
country and affect the security of the state. The two comedians were
arrested, tried without legal representation, and in August 1996
sentenced to seven years imprisonment each.
For some, jail is the end of the road. James Leander (Leo) Nichols, a
65-year-old Anglo-Burmese businessman, honorary consul for Norway, and
godfather to Aung San Suu Kyi, died while under confinement on June 22,
1996. His infraction was the illegal possession of fax machines.
Evidently, the real reason was that those faxes were used to transmit
Aung San Suu Kyi s Letters From Burma series to a Japanese newspaper
that was publishing them.
In a recent report, Amnesty International estimated that there are
currently 1,850 people being held as political prisoners in Burma s
jails. This does not include those who have died from beatings or
through the lack of medical attention. Nor does it include those held
and subsequently released, often after years of incarceration.
One Thailand-based organization is working hard to help the victims of
imprisonment. The Assistance Association for Political Prisons (AAPP)
was founded on December 1, 1999 by a group of Burmese exiles. They know
their subject only too well. All spent time in Burma s jails.
Aung Din is one member. A student activist who organized pro-democracy
demonstrations against his country s military rulers, Aung Din was
arrested on April 23, 1989 by Military Intelligence. After 13 months of
confinement, he was sentenced to 4 years with hard labor. He spent most
of those years in solitary confinement and fled abroad after release.
Two other members, who prefer anonymity, came from much different
backgrounds. Both were in the Burmese Army during the 1989 troubles. X
was an officer and Y was a private and paratrooper in an airborne
unit. Their crime was that they possessed a sense of individual
responsibility in the face of hierarchical authority and did not follow
orders. The orders concerned the Army s response to pro-democracy
demonstrators and were shoot to kill. Today Y, an artist as well as
activist, teaches drawing to the children of migrant Burmese laborers in
Thailand free of charge.
Bo Kyi, spokesman for the AAPP, served two terms totaling seven years.
This March in Europe, he received a student peace prize from Norway and
accepted a Czech award on behalf of Min Ko Naing, the imprisoned student
leader. Bo Kyi had many talks with European officials and spoke with
them in fluent English. He learned that language in jail, without tapes
or books, by whispering with a cellmate when the guards were away.
Bo Kyi first became involved in politics in 1988 because, Most people
knew there were strikes at the Rangoon Institute of Technology, he
said. The government killed a student named Phone Maw and we protested.
Our movement was brutally crushed. I was involved in it because I hated
He spent time in three prisons, in Mandalay, in Thayawaddy, and in the
country s most notorious detention center, Insein, just outside Rangoon.
Insane just about sums up the conditions in these jails.
Torture is common and Bo Kyi was twice beaten severely for protesting
prison conditions. One of Bo Kyi s friends, doing hard labor at Myingyan
Prison, was beaten daily, fed poorly, and eventually died. Political
prisoners lack sufficient water for bathing and drinking. Authorities
routinely deny adequate medical treatment even when a prisoner s
condition reaches a life-threatening stage. When I was sick, it was
difficult for me to go to the hospital, Bo Kyi said. I had to use the
medicine my family provided instead.
Food is bland, usually rice, fish paste, and talapaw, a concoction
resembling, but hardy deserving, the name of soup. This food is not
enough and prisoners typically have to depend upon food (and medical)
parcels from their families.
Family aid is not always possible. Some are desperately poor, living at
the margin of survival. The regime exacerbates matters by often jailing
its enemies in prisons far removed from the prisoner s home. And there
is worse in store for families. According to the AAPP, Military
Intelligence (MIS) and local authorities regularly intimidate and
persecute the family members of political prisoners. The MIS frequently
confiscate their belongings and harass the economic, social, and
educational lives of the family members of political prisoners. In most
cases they lose their jobs.
Anyone who has read Solzhenitsyn knows how the Gulag authorities used
blatnye, imprisoned common criminals, to manipulate and terrorize
political inmates. In Burma it is much the same. We had a lot of
problems with criminals, Bo Kyi remembered, and they were treated much
better than us.
Still there are some small victories. Once in 1996, when I was in
Insein, there were two criminals mixed in with two political, Bo Kyi
recalled. One of the political prisoners was very good looking. The
criminals tried to rape him but we were able to stop that.
The country has some 36 major prisons of which 20 hold political
prisoners. This is not the only form of detention, however. In the past,
when Aung San Suu Kyi s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD)
announced a conference or other political gathering, NLD members were
frequently picked up and taken to government-run guesthouses, supposedly
for consultations. Aung San Suu Kyi herself has been subjected to
periods of house arrest, the longest being for five years until 1995.
Now the ruling junta is engaged in secret talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.
The stated goal is to produce a political settlement to Burma s woes.
These talks may in time produce results though their initial nature,
that of a controlling junta bargaining with a single individual confined
to her home, has caused more than one observer to liken them to
speaking to a bird in a gilded cage.
The AAPP is working towards several objectives. It is documenting and
reporting on the oppression suffered by political prisoners and
encouraging the international community to pressure the regime to
prevent further persecution. It is also struggling to ensure that basic
human rights are respected in the prisons and that authorities provide
the basic necessities of food and medicine. Just as importantly, it is
striving to protect prisoners and their families after any are released
and trying to help ex-prisoners with needed physical and mental
For now the jails remain a malignant cancer on Burmese society. And for
voices (like the poet above) that speak out in agony there are special
dangers. After release, another poet revealed part of his imprisonment
trauma to the AAPP. One of the intelligence officers screamed at me
You are a poet? You wrote this satire against our government? Which
material did you use? You used these fingers to criticize us. After
that my fingers were stretched upon the concrete and they proceeded to
trample my fingers with their jungle boots.
PD Burma Japan: Foreign Minister Tanaka is cautious on Baluchaung repair
June 14, 2001
In a reply to Diet member Mizuho Fukushima (Social Democratic Party)
at the session of the House of Councilors legal affairs committee on
June 11, Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka showed a cautious posture with
respect to grant aid for the controversial Baluchaung hydroelectric
Fukushima, referring to American government criticism of Japan?s
support to Burma in the timing of aid, and the decision of the ILO
requesting sanctions on Burma by members countries, asked Tanaka to show
the relation between the four principles of Japan?s Overseas Development
Aid (ODA) charter and the grant aid to the military government.
Tanaka responded that the Japanese government is trying to help basic
life of Burmese people directly, but she recognizing what Fukushima
pointed out. The minister added that she wants to gather information to
examine from different channels and not only from Ministry of Foreign
Calgary Herald: Warfare killed 4,000 child soldiers last year: Myanmar
has most youth recruits
June 13, 2001 Wednesday
More than 500,000 children under 18 serve as soldiers in 87 nations, and
about 4,000 were killed in combat last year, according to a report by a
coalition of international human rights groups.
Among the nations with the worst records of sending child soldiers into
battle are the African countries of Uganda, Sudan, Sierra Leone and
Angola, according to a study by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child
Soldiers. Others cited for poor records are Indonesia, Colombia,
Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Philippines.
The London-based coalition's 450-page report, prepared with the support
of the United Nations, is the first major study on children in uniform
and details recruitment and forcible conscription in 180 nations. The
coalition, whose members include Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch, also faulted the U.S. for sending soldiers under the age of 18 to
the Persian Gulf War and Somalia.
"The problem is not confined to developing countries in the midst of
conflict," said Jo Becker, chairman of the coalition, who said the U.K.
The study gave no estimate of whether the number of child soldiers, most
of whom are between 15 and 17, has increased or decreased in recent
years, or what per cent was forcibly conscripted. It said the number of
child soldiers is decreasing in Latin America, the Middle East and the
Balkans because of changes in military recruitment policies.
The single largest number of child soldiers is in Myanmar, where the
report says 50,000 are involved in internal political clashes and border
disputes with Thailand. Uganda and Burundi, countries also involved in
civil wars and fighting with their Central African neighbours, have up
to 15,000 child soldiers, according to the report.
"Sometimes I fell asleep when I was on guard duty, I was beaten by my
corporal," former child soldier Chitralekha Massey wrote. "He beat me
like a dog, like I was an animal, not a human being. There were two or
three suicides during that time, of boys who has been hospitalized and
finally shot themselves."
In Iraq, according to the report, thousands of children aged 10-15
participate in the Saddam Lion Cubs youth movement. They receive
training in small-arms use and hand-to-hand combat.
The report found girls 11 to 15 in Sri Lanka have been recruited by the
rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam since the mid 1980s. Many were
trained as suicide bombers.
The New York Times: Taliban's Eradication of Poppies Is Convulsing Opium
UNITED NATIONS - June 13, 2001, Wednesday
Late Edition - Final
By BARBARA CROSSETTE
The unexpected success of the Taliban in Afghanistan in eradicating
three-quarters of the world's crop of opium poppies in one season is
leading experts to ask where production is likely to spring up next.
The director of the United Nations Drug Control Program, Pino Arlacchi,
said there was no chance that opium from other sources would compensate
this year for the loss of Afghan crops, and the prices of opium and
heroin will rise substantially, with opium already worth five to seven
times its usual price. His program helped convince the Taliban that
opium is a disgrace to Islam.
The chairman of the Central Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins, Frederick
Starr, said the West, especially Europe, had been inexplicably slow in
recognizing developments in Afghanistan. "The reduction is probably the
most dramatic event in the history of illegal drug markets, not only in
scale, but also in the fact that it was done domestically, without
international assistance," he said. He added that Europe, where most
Afghan heroin was consumed, had been "stunningly dysfunctional" in
helping Afghan farmers who have sacrificed livelihoods and in moving to
prevent new fields from springing up in other poor countries.
United Nations narcotics officials are looking at three regions that may
be tempted -- Myanmar, Pakistan and Central Asia.
In an interview from the drug agency headquarters in Vienna, Mr.
Arlacchi said he was skeptical about including Myanmar, formerly Burma,
because Thailand and China have put tremendous pressure on the military
junta there to control narcotics production. He said the ethnic groups
in northern Myanmar who once were the largest poppy producers have
instead turned to making chemical compounds. American experts agree that
the greater problem now is synthetic drugs like ecstasy, which are
becoming increasingly popular among young Asians.
In Pakistan, Mr. Arlacchi said, the government, working with the United
Nations, has completed one of its most successful eradication programs
over the last two decades. "Production is down to almost zero in the
last few years," he said.
Central Asia, he said, has the most potential for poppy production. The
United Nations has been working there with limited funds to cut down
trafficking in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In the
last four months, more than two tons of heroin have been seized on the
"But even if in the long term this reduction of supply is a major
success, it will be sustainable only with a parallel reduction in the
demand in the industrial countries," Mr. Arlacchi said. Narcotics
experts say they do not see matching efforts in rich countries to cut
"The prices of heroin and cocaine have been declining over 10 years,"
Mr. Arlacchi said. "That trend will now be interrupted. Prices will
increase without demand reduction, and there will be more powerful
incentives to cultivators and traders."
Mr. Starr, of Johns Hopkins, said special attention should be paid to
Kyrgyzstan, parts of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as well as Xinjiang, in
western China. "Kyrgyzstan was the largest legal producer of opium
poppies in the world during Soviet times," he said. Opium was used to
make morphine for medicinal use. "Presumably the people who made it work
then are still on the ground -- and unemployed."
BurmaNet: Regime seeks to eject chief accuser at ILO
June 14, 2001
In a formal challenge dated June 12, 2001, the regime?s representative
to the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva is seeking to
have the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB) derecognized by the
Currently, the Burmese labor organization is represented at the ILO by
its Secretary General Maung Maung, who have been included as a member of
the the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
BurmaNet has obtained copies of the challenge, contained in a letter
from Soe Nyunt to the ILO and a rebuttal by the ICFTU. The ICFTU, in
cooperation with the FTUB, layed the forced labor charges against Burma
which have resulted in the ILO?s current sanctions on the regime.
In the challenge, Soe Nyunt questioned the standing of the FTUB to file
allegations against the regime on the grounds that it does not have
?proper registration? as a labor organization and calls for it to
produce ?relevant certificates of registration.? The FTUB is banned in
The regime also alludes to its previous allegations against, Maung
Maung, saying cryptically ?We have certain information about the true
identity of Mr. Maung Maung [alias] Pyi Thet Nyunt Wai? and inviting the
ILO to write to its Permanent Representative in Geneva for details. The
regime has previously accused Maung Maung, in collaboration with the
ICFTU, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial
Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the National Endowment for Democracy of
plotting terrorist activities in Burma.
In a scathing rebuttal, the ICFTU called the insinuations about Maung
Maung ?unsubstantiated, baseless and insulting? and reminded the ILO of
previous bizarre allegations by the regime such as a supposed plot by
ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan and the President of the AFL-CIO,
John Sweeney of having plotted in a Rangoon hotel to bomb embassies in
Rangoon. ?It is? the ICFTU noted, ?a matter of public record that
[neither] has ever set foot in Burma [and] allegations made by the
government...concerning U Maung Maung's personal background are of the
The regime?s attempt to eject its chief accuser at the ILO will do
little to calm fears about the safety of witnesses who speak with the
ILO?s high level team that will go to Burma in September to assess the
credibility of the regime?s claim that it stopped using forced labor.
The challenge is unlikely to succeed however because the ILO has no
mechanism to eject accredited representatives from groups like the
ICFTU. A senior ILO official told BurmaNet that ejecting the FTUB ?is a
Reuters: Thailand hopes for new era after PM visit to Myanmar
BANGKOK, June 13
By Nopporn Wong-Anan
Thailand's prime minister visits Myanmar next week hoping to clear the
air and improve often stormy relations between neighbours that have been
enemies for centuries.
Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said on Wednesday he
believed the trip would put relations on a much better footing.
``I believe the bilateral relationship will start with a new page in
history after the visit,'' Chavalit, a former army chief, told
Relations between Thailand and Myanmar have deteriorated since Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was elected in January on a promise to
``wage war against drugs.''
Thailand says most of the drugs pouring into the country from the
notorious Golden Triangle region, where Thailand meets Laos and Myanmar,
are made by ethnic minority groups inside Myanmar.
Thaksin addressed the nation in a weekly radio show last weekend and
said talks with Myanmar's military government would focus on curbing the
Thaksin's two-day visit to Myanmar from Tuesday will follow trips to
Laos on June 12 and Cambodia on June 18.
Chavalit said on Wednesday he was ``one hundred percent'' confident
Thaksin's trip would yield success.
He said ``the clouds will disappear'' after his Myanmar trip.
Chavalit, who says he has good personal relations with various Myanmar
military leaders, says the most important issue for both countries was
to build trust before both nations could iron out other issues.
AIM TO REACH UNDERSTANDING
``The border problem is a minor issue, but we should understand each
other more at first `` he said.
Thailand sent reinforcements to its northern border with Myanmar after
recent fighting between Thai troops and a pro-Myanmar government ethnic
militia group, the United Wa State Army, which is accused by Bangkok of
being a major producer and supplier of methamphetamine stimulants and
Myanmar disputes this and in turn accuses rebels along the 2,400 km
(1,490 mile) Thai-Myanmar border of being the region's main drugs
The latest row, which further soured already tense relations, occurred
last week when a Myanmar school textbook described Thais as lazy and
Since coming to power in January's landslide election victory, Thaksin
has promised to stem the flow of an estimated 700 million
methamphetamine tablets entering Thailand each year through its porous
Chavalit on Tuesday denied local press reports that he would join
Thaksin for the Myanmar trip, saying he would instead travel to China.
Thai newspapers on Tuesday reported that Thai Foreign Ministry
officials objected to Chavalit's inclusion in the Myanmar trip, saying
they did not want Thai foreign policy to be seen as military-dominated.
``There is no reason for me to go. Even if I went, I would not add any
more contribution,'' he said.
New Straits Times: Court rejects Myanmar guilty plea of causing
Malaysia - 13 June 2001
By Letitia Samuel
The Sessions Court today rejected the guilty plea of a Myanmar ship
officer accused of causing the death of his shipmate early this year.
Sessions judge Yew Jen Kie rejected the guilty plea of Hlato (No full
name in the charge sheet) when the officer denied kicking shipmate Saw
Bernard Law after the latter had fallen to the ground after a scuffle.
Hlato, who is unrepresented, denied kicking Law when the facts of the
case was read to him by the court intepreter.
The judge then fixed July 9 for hearing.
Hlato had earlier pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide not amounting
to murder of Saw at Jalan Ban Hock here at 4am on Jan 26.
The facts of the case, presented by prosecuting officer ASP Ng Ah Lek,
stated that the accused had a fight with Law over taxi fare.
Bangkok Post: Chavalit scraps plan to go to Rangoon
June: 14, 2001
By Post Reporters
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has abruptly cancelled his trip
to Burma next Monday, a day before the premier's official visit, amid
unease at the Foreign Ministry that it is improper, sources said.
The sources said last night Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and
senior officials were unhappy with the minister's advance trip, which
they deemed unnecessary.
The sources said Gen Chavalit's trip might send signals that it was the
defence minister who was in charge of foreign policy.
Gen Chavalit had planned to meet Burmese Prime Minister Gen Than Shwe,
chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, and other members
of the junta including army commander Gen Maung Aye and intelligence
chief Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.
"Gen Chavalit is trying to help but he is not the foreign minister,"
said one source who closely monitors Thai-Burmese ties.
However, Gen Chavalit played down reports of a rift, saying he decided
to cancel the trip because he was due in China on June 20-24 and could
not fit everything in.
He said he was confident Thaksin Shinawatra's visit would be a success
and would open a new era of bilateral relations, much strained during
Chuan Leekpai's term of office.
"This trip will help improve understanding between Thailand and Burma,"
he said. Gen Chavalit said mistrust and suspicion should not be left
intact, noting that both sides had to turn to each other to discuss
measures that would help clear up misunderstandings.
Armed forces chief-of-staff Gen Sommai Wichaworn and Gen Vichit Yathip,
chief of the defence minister's staff officers, flew to Rangoon last
week to make preparations for Mr Thaksin's visit.
Defence Ministry spokesman Col Chongsak Panichakul dismissed reports of
a rift between the Defence and Foreign ministries.
"The report is untrue since there is no such rift," he said.
Col Chongsak said Gen Chavalit did not want to go to Burma from the
beginning but was asked by the prime minister to help mediate and
Bangkok Post: Chavalit has his way
June 14, 2001
The power behind the prime minister has again had his way and so the
premier is to drop everything so he can pay his best respects to the
political masters across our western border. Also disposing of the usual
rules of procedure and protocol is one of the premier's party-men, who
is determined to go after perceived enemies. More cautious is the more
seasoned Newin as he awaits his inevitable chance.
Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has been more than fulsome in his praise for
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra since he decided not to wait for a
visit from Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung before he rushes off to
The defence minister had been pushing extraordinarily hard for the prime
minister to waste no time in getting across to Rangoon to meet the
general's good friends in the military dictatorship.
He apparently was worried his friends could not be put off until after a
visit here by their foreign minister. Win Aung is expected here before
the end of this month as a courtesy call after Foreign Minister
Surakiart Sathirathai presented his credentials to Rangoon last month.
Gen Chavalit said the prime minister had shown his true worth in going
to Burma on June 19-20 despite protocol suggesting that he wait until
after Win Aung has paid his call.
"I really admire the premier for taking such a bold move by disregarding
protocol," he said. "The premier is fully aware that the most important
thing for mankind is amity, and he will certainly do anything to achieve
this goal. This has much impressed me."Gen Chavalit said he was sorry
that the prime minister had to work under such time constraints and he
would do what he could to ease the pressure.
The defence minister had planned to go to Burma himself on Monday, a day
before the premier, but he put off the trip due to the obvious
displeasure this had caused the Foreign Ministry.
He had planned to go early to smooth the way for the prime minister with
his old buddy Gen Than Shwe, the prime minister and chairman of the
ruling State Peace and Development Council.
One of Gen Chavalit's men at Defence said the boss was well aware of the
problems at the core of the recent uneasiness damaging relations between
Bangkok and Rangoon.
"Among these are Rangoon's suspicions that we support the Shan rebel
fighters," said the defence man, a trusted lieutenant. "The defence
minister has suggested confidence-building measures which will
eventually help dispel mistrust and restore mutual understanding."He
said the measures envisioned by the defence minister included opening up
the areas along the border where there have been troubles to joint
inspections and possibly patrols. Rangoon has not responded publicly to
Gen Chavalit blames the strength of the Shan State Army on financial
support from influential international organisations. He said the rebel
army had grown from a rag-tag force of 200 ill-equipped fighters a few
years ago to around 6,000 armed troops.
The lieutenant said Gen Chavalit was convinced there were attempts to
cause a rift between Bangkok and Rangoon by a third party which did not
want to see friendly ties.
He said Gen Chavalit was was hoping that Bangkok and Rangoon could
improve their ties and this and a stronger Asean could help bring peace
and stability to the region.
BMA: Hacker Attacks Survey of Burma Tourism
By Tin Maung Htoo
Burma Media Association
June 12, 2001
Online survey initiated early this month by an Australia travel agency,
Intrepid, regarding 'yes' or 'no' question on tourism in Burma was
attacked by a hacker, an official of the survey informed BMA today.
"The poll figures are totally skewed by a 'hacker' putting a 'robot'
onto our poll that voted 'no' every 5 seconds for some time. We've
taken the poll down for the time being as this menace jammed our
web-site. We hope to have a realistic poll back up soon," said Jane
Crouch, Responsible Travel Coordinator of Intrepid Travel Ltd.
BMA closely monitored the poll proceeding at its outset and found a few
days later that the poll was abruptly shut down without any immediate
announcement on the web site. BMA noticed that it was the time during
which more people were rolling on into the poll site, partly because of
the poll exposure of BMA and other activists on media and Internet.
When BMA checked out the result the last time on June 9, the 'no' answer
was overwhelmingly prevailing over 'yes' - with almost a thousand vote
in margin - 1126 versus 199. However, within another a few hours, the
survey was gone; instead of that, other Burma related page was put in
place, and that make a big surprised for all people coming over to the
Although the Intrepid's claim of being hacker-attacked in favor of 'no'
vote, they still need to provide some evidence as the case is so
sensitive for hundreds of thousands of Burma democracy advocates who are
opposing foreign businesses entering into Burma without considering
human rights and political once.
As a matter of the fact, anyone who wanted to vote in the survey had to
enter the name and email address before being able to vote, and if
hacker-attack was taken place, they could follow and check those
entering email addresses as to whether they are fraudulent or not.
What BMA learned from the poll is that hundreds of people, along with
their names and emails, not only voted in the survey against the
reinstatement of tourism business in Burma, but also expressed reasons
for opposing it, which could be still seen on the travel agency's web
One of the Burma activists who went to vote for this survey said, " we
would need to find out the company's actual intention for doing this
survey as the fact that they seem to be ambiguous and zealous to go back
and do business in Burma."
Intrepid travel agency that decided to suspend its trips to Burma in
1999 after a review of the political situation in Burma started its
business in Burma in 1995 and stated the business was successful and
profitable for the company.
The company's Responsible Travel Coordinator Crouch said that they
didn't know if they made the right decision two years ago. When they
decided to withdraw, they made a commitment to review their decision
within two years and said now is the time to get feedback whether to
resume the abandoned-but-profitable business in Burma.
However, the seeking feedback they have now obtained is widespread and
obvious that they should not go back to Burma until and after a positive
change in Burma is overcome. Presumably, the only thing that left for
the company is to keep their previous ethical decision, along with
announcing the poll outcome.
Naew Na (Bangkok) [Editorial says Thaksin trip to Burma ?totally
June 7, 2001
[Summary translation of Thai language editirial by Thailand press
Naew Na editorial states that the PM's visit to Burma late this June to
restore and strengthen relationship will be totally useless since Burma
is never sincere or trying to solve the border and diplomatic conflicts
with Thailand. After each Thailand's visit, Burma always releases a sour
and harsh statement rather than a friendly one. Naeo Na believes that
Thailand-Burma conflict is apparently caused by Thailand's accusation to
Burma as the big narcotic producer and Burma's accusation to Thailand as
the big supporter of armed-struggled ethnic groups along border. Naeo Na
opines that Thailand is unable to settle conflicts with Burma alone. It
needs world community and ASEAN to help pressuring Burma to solve the
Siam Rath/Krungthep Thurakit (Bangkok): [Editorials on Burmese textbooks
June 7, 2001
[Summary translation of Thai language editirial by Thailand press
Siam Rath editorial and Krungthep Thurakit CHAI SIHO protest Burma over
its textbook which severely criticizes and tarnishes Thailand. However,
one good thing is that Thai people will know our weak points, and
realize how others see us. No matter whether the criticism is true, Thai
should be proud that we have far development, politically and socially,
than Burma. Thai government is urged to take deliberate action on this
before this small drop of honey becomes the big issue.
?An Earnest and Urgent Request by Bohmu Aung and Colleagues?
[BurmaNet adds: Bohmu Aung was, along with Aung San and Ne Win one of
the original ?Thirty Comrades? who led Burma to independence.]
An Earnest and Urgent Request by Bohmu Aung and Colleagues ( (Political
Veterans) To the State Peace and Development Council and the National
League for Democracy to Make a United National Effort to Overcome the
Crisis Facing the Country.
1. The masses are suffering great hardship from the increasing and
expanding difficult political, economic, and social conditions existing
in Burma today. Legitimate border trade has been shattered because of
border disputes with our neighbor country. That the value of the kyat
is tumbling, that prices of food, medicines and essential basic
necessities are unnecessarily skyrocketing are facts that cannot be
2. All this is the result of political perplexities arising out of the
dishonored general elections. As early as 1995 we have been advising
and requesting face to face talks to bring about reconciliation and
settlement by negotiation between the State Peace Development Council
(Military government), and National League for Democracy and
representatives of the nationalities.
3. From the experience of other countries and our own, we know that
difficulties can never be overcome by seeking to satisfy only one
individual, one group or one party. Problems are not solved by band-aid
measures that do not go to the root of the problem. We need to find
answers to solve problems that effect all the people and this can only
be achieved in a spirit of national unity. We make this statement in
4. What we had been hoping for months and years ago materialised in
October 2000 when the SPDC and the NLD started talking to each other.
This gave us and the masses reason for much rejoicing. We made a public
statement about this also. We believed that there would be a good
outcome for the country. In his speech on the 27th March, 2001
commemorating the 56th anniversary of Resistance Day (Military Day)
Senior General Than Shwe (Chairman of the SPDC) made these truthful
"without political stability, the country's economy cannot prosper".
He also said
"if you look at countries that have adopted the democratic system for
many years you will find that they are flourishing and prosperous with
modern industries where individuals enjoy big incomes and high
standards. No matter what differences the political parties have they
cooperate and work together on matters that effect the social and
economic welfare of the people."
Senior General Than Shwe went further and said " In solving the
problems between ourselves by confrontation we cannot succeed. So we
are trying to reach an accord. We all live in one country, drink the
same water and in building this country of ours we need to be united
with a spirit of love and charity."
This is the right spirit that should be adopted. The National League
for Democracy was formed basically for the purpose of obtaining
democracy and for equality and unity of all the different
nationalities. Therefore both sides are on the same track.
5. However, after so much time, no official statement about the
progress of the talks has been made which has given rise to much
speculation and apprehension in the hearts of all the people including
6. Over and above the great secrecy in the on-going talks, the fears,
the speculation, the rumors the whole country is now faced with
unprecedented sudden sharp rises in commodities and a plunge in the
value of the Kyats. These are facts that are undeniable. The poverty
stricken masses are suffering immensely.
7. We fear tremendously that catastrophe awaits the nation if proper
steps are not honestly and correctly taken to solve these many
8. Making accusations against one another during the period of these
talks should be
avoided. The talks should be as between equals. There should be
freedom and with no restrictions. To be specific, we think that the
people should be informed about the outcome of the talks so that their
minds can be settled. Movement restrictions placed on the leader with
whom the talks are conducted should be removed. Political prisoners
held in captivity should be released unconditionally. Legally
constituted NLD and other political organisations should be allowed to
perform their political activities with freedom. Only if such actions
are implemented, will the talks reach a successful conclusion swiftly.
Then solutions to other problems will follow.
9. The sooner the correct answers are found, the sooner will the
people be relieved from having to eat the bitter fruit of misery.
Only when political stability is achieved, the solution to other
problems can be obtained. This is our deep and honest conviction.
We declare that this urgent and earnest request is presented by us in a
spirit predominantly for the benefit of the country and is completely
free from the four vices of greed, hatred, fear and anger.
Dated 20th May 2001
Bohmu Aung on behalf of the political veterans.
Thakin Chit Maung
Thakin Thein Pe
Bo San Tha Gyaw
U Aung Myint
Bo Min Lwin
U Ba Tun
Bo Aung Naing
Bo Tha Tun
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): The truth that cannot be concealed
Saturday, 9 June, 2001
Po Khwa: Uncle Phyo! Uncle Phyo!
Uncle Phyo: What's all about? Tell me please.
Khwa: It's an offense, totally it is! Phyo: Again, you've cut into the
matter from the middle. Come on, tell me about it.
Khwa: It is that a friend brought the 29 May issue of Daily News of Siam
(Thailand) when he returned home from the country. He came to me and
told me all about a news report in it.
Phyo: About what?
Khwa: Tairat Soon Thoongpra Phan (The Department of Foreign Strategic
Studies and Analysis) presented a slanderous article under the title
"The Burmese government's game of narcotics" in the daily. It is stated
in the article that the mass torching of narcotic drugs in Myanmar is
learnt from the journalists" news reports; that torching is a very old
method; and that nobody can tell when and where these drugs were
seized. The article also adds that it is doubtful whether the drug were
damaged or expired. Phyo: They are telling big lies intentionally. Not
long ago, a ceremony was held in Myanmar to destroy the seized narcotic
drugs. At the ceremony, the narcotic drugs were destroyed in the
presence of the delegates to the Meetings of Signatory Countries to
1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control in East Asia and the
Pacific Sub-region, diplomats and journalists from various news
agencies. The guests were able to examine the narcotic drugs at will.
Officials also explained to the guests about the seized narcotic drugs.
Then the guests including the diplomats made close examination of the
drugs before they were destroyed in accord with the agenda. You have
also seen the ceremony on TV.
Khwa: Yes. The guests keenly and closely touched and tested the drugs.
How many times did the drugs were destroyed?
Phyo: You are so forgetful. You have already written an article based on
my clarifications. But I will repeat it, please note in mind seriously.
It was the 15th destruction of narcotic drugs. At the ceremony,
130.1428 kilos of opium, 116.469 kilos of heroin, 439.931 kilos of
marijuana, and 27,248,615 stimulant pills weighing 2,724 kilos were
destroyed. The total value of the destroyed drugs is US $ 920 million.
Khwa: It is so inconceivable for me. Despite the presence of the guests
including diplomats, officials and journalists at the ceremony, the
article was written in a slanderous way.
Phyo: The statement in the Siamese (Thai) daily that "where these drugs
were seized is unknown" is a lie. The newspapers in Myanmar are
presenting daily the news reports on the seizure of the culprits and
the drugs and related materials and equipment by the anti-narcotics
bodies under the arrangement of Central Committee for Drug Abuse
Control. They are making brazen lies. Khwa: Were the international
guests invited to the previous ceremonies? Phyo: The seized drugs had
been destroyed for 14 times from 1990 to 2000. Officials and guests
from foreign nations and organizations and diplomats and local and
foreign journalists were invited to every drug destruction ceremony.
Not a single unreal drug destruction ceremony has ever been reported.
All are held in the presence of the guests including diplomats. Khwa:
Do the foreign news agencies report our drug destructions held with the
aim of eliminating the drugs?
Phyo: That's food for thought. Despite the presence of local and foreign
correspondents at the ceremonies, the international media has imposed a
blackout on the news. They hardly issue the news reports on our drug
Khwa: They are intentionally imposing a news blackout on our
accomplishments in the drug elimination efforts.
Phyo: The international media have never highlighted the news. They
rarely report the news. However much the news is valuable, they (the
international media) may withhold it. But they will highlight a
fabrication. Khwa: And they are going to point an accusing finger at
us. Phyo: They are one-sidedly pointing at and discrediting us only.
Here, I will tell you about a news report carried in the 22 May issue
of the Bangkok Post. Khwa: Oh, great! I would like to hear it.
Phyo: The news report states that a 42-year-old Thai police warrant
officer was arrested together with 1.1 million stimulant pills and 40
kilos of ephedrine used in producing methamphetamine at Chiang Rai in
Thailand on 19 May.
Khwa: Good news! The ones who wish to point at others are hit. It is so
obvious that a police personnel on duty was involved in drug
trafficking. We have no such cases here.
Phyo: There are more. On 26 May, about 2,000 kilos of ephedrine powder
packages were found in three Hilux light trucks loaded with vegetables
near Maesot Hospital when a check was made on vehicles as there was a
tour of a senior Siamese police official.
Khwa: Who were the traffickers?
Phyo: The culprits were one from Maela village and another two from
Haiphat ward, Maesot. The news about the seizure was withheld as the
culprits were Siamese.
Khwa: Though the Siamese are pointing at us with insincerity and
launching slanderous accusations against us, they are trying to conceal
their involvement in the drug business.
Phyo: We are totally clean. Not long ago, Siam made an accusation,
stating that Mongyun region was engaging in mass production of drugs.
So, the delegates to the Meetings of Signatory Countries to 1993
Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control in East Asia and the
Pacific Sub-region, diplomats, journalists and military attaches were
invited to the region to see for themselves about the true conditions.
Khwa: Good! As the guests had witnessed the true situation, all the
Siamese lies were exposed. The columnist should not knowingly write
that he had doubts about the drugs destroyed by Myanmars and he did not
believe it. Phyo: Despite the article's aims to disparage Myanmar, it
is in reality insulting the delegates, diplomats and journalists of the
various news agencies. Although it did not directly say that these MoU
delegates, diplomats and journalists were naive to believe Myanmar's
twists, it is like saying so. We don't need to heed any accusations.
History will prove who is true to his words. The world will gradually
come to accept that Myanmars are the kind of people who always keep
Author : Po Khwa
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