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BurmaNet News: June 19, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: June 19, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 21:43:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 19, 2001 Issue # 1828
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*DVB: Freed opposition chairman calls for release of other detainees
*DVB: Veteran politician welcomes release of prisoners, urges
*Bankok: King and Queen to be invited to Burma- Junta hopes to make
amends for royal slur
*Burma Courier: Condition of Elderly Political Prisoners Deteriorates
*Burma Courier: Relief Team Reaches Nagas Burned out of Their Homes
*Burma Courier: Canadian Imports from Burma on Steep Upward Curve
*PlanetRice.net: Thai-North Korea Deal Fails; Myanmar May Export 300,000
*DVB : Army allegedly takes 10 girls hostage after five soldiers die in
*Bangkok Post: Rangers shoot two dead, seize pills
*BurmaNet: ILO prepares for mission to Burma
*Burma Peace Foundation: Burma at the ILC
*BMA: Thai-based Two Activists Tour across Canada
*Bangkok Post: NGOs blast Burma trip
*Bangkok Post: Political harmony looms: Peace, unity and prosperity on
the way, says Chavalit
*The Asian Wall Street Journal: Nasty Regime- Watchword for Burma--
*The Guardian (UK): Backpacker?s Crusade[Criticizing Mawdsley as Tory
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): An insight into the tale of Ayutthaya
*Images Asia: Letter to Calgary Herald--Quotation error in article on
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
DVB: Freed opposition chairman calls for release of other detainees
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] contacted Dr Saw Mra Aung, chairman of
the Committee Representing Peoples' Parliament [CRPP], who was released
from the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] government guest
house on Thursday [14 June], about his release. Our first question was
about his living conditions there.
[Saw Mra Aung] Well, living conditions there are so-so. They have
separate living quarters though. It seems like an old office building.
They have added a bathroom and a water tank. They never had that before.
[Khin Hnin Htet] Yes. Do you mean to say living conditions were squalid
and neglected before?
[Saw Mra Aung] Well, the vicinity of the quarters was not clean. Only
when I personally started to clean it myself then they began to clean
the area with brooms and rakes. They also repaired the broken sewage
pipes. First you had to take the initiative. Furthermore, the bathroom
floor was cracked and uneven. It was also slippery. I started to
complain and after some coaxing they repaired the floor. The bathroom
was not big so they even put white tiles on the walls. Sometimes there
was no water. I had to save some water for bathing, washing, and for
[Khin Hnin Htet] How about health care?
[Saw Mra Aung] Well, a medical specialist team from Mingaladon military
hospital came every fortnight and did all the checking. They even took
videos and photos. If you bring your own medicines you can use them in
an emergency. When there is an emergency like diarrhoea or vomiting and
when you call them they will come immediately and give you treatment.
[Khin Hnin Htet] Can you tell us about your future plans as the chairman
[Saw Mra Aung] Firstly, they held the elections. They were free and fair
and accepted by the world and the UN. Many wish for the convening of
parliament. If there is a parliament then any future task could be
carried out in accordance with the resolution of all the elected
parliamentary members. That is what we want but we do not know when we
will be able to reach that goal.
[Khin Hnin Htet] Well, will you have a chance to meet Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, the general secretary of NLD [National League for Democracy] and
member of the panel of secretary of the CRPP?
[Saw Mra Aung] Well, I want to meet her. I want to discuss future plans
with her, but I myself have only just been allowed to return to my
house. So the idea of meeting her is not possible at the moment. No-one
is allowed to enter her compound.
[Khin Hnin Htet] What are your expectations about the prevailing
[Saw Mra Aung] I really cannot say anything much about the prognosis. It
is very premature at this stage. I was just permitted to return home. I
don't know what future lies ahead.
[Khin Hnin Htet] You were recently released. How do you feel about the
other colleagues who are still being held at the government guest
[Saw Mra Aung] There were many detained. Some were accused of crimes and
later sentenced. I want all the political prisoners to be freed because
although I alone was released, I feel for my colleagues. My desire is
for the release of all the political prisoners and the people's elected
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 16 Jun 01
DVB: Veteran politician welcomes release of prisoners, urges
Democratic Voice of Burma [DVB] has contacted and interviewed veteran
politician Thakhin Thein Pe to give his opinion on the release of some
political prisoners including U Saw Mra Aung, chairman of the Committee
Representing Peoples' Parliament [CRPP]. Our first question was the
reaction among the people and the political forces.
[Thakhin Thein Pe] Well, it was the release of some arrested leaders of
Daw Suu's party. The people are under the impression that the situation
has improved. Everyone hopes that they will continue to strive for
national unity and peace.
[Khin Hnin Htet] Yes. What about veteran politicians like you?
[Thakhin Thein Pe] As for us, we too were very happy to hear the news.
We believe the situation will gradually improve.
[Khin Hnin Htet] We heard that U Thein Lwin, general secretary of
Democracy Party, and the party vice-chairman were also released. But
Democracy Party Chairman U Thu Wai and some prominent political
prisoners are still being detained. What about that?
[Thakhin Thein Pe] What is happening here is, we do not get any news
from the media [laughs]. Furthermore, it did not say how many political
detainees were released. We know only by listening carefully to foreign
newscasts. There is nothing from the Burmese radio [laughs]. In reality,
the release of political prisoners is a very good gesture. For all the
people to be happy and to assess the situation, all this news should be
in the local newspapers. About the release, we ourselves have to listen
to foreign radio broadcasts. This is one of the things the people have
been expecting, and it is a very good gesture. I cannot think of a
reason why such news is not in the local newspapers.
[Khin Hnin Htet] What you mean to say is that the SPDC [State Peace and
Development Council] government did not mention anything about the
release in their own news media but they did send the information to
foreign news media. What is your opinion about the non-disclosure in the
[Thakhin Thein Pe] That is hard to fathom. For a politician, this is a
very good political move and they will benefit by informing the people
through the local media. This will also make the people in the country
happy. Since there is no news we are finding it difficult to understand
what is going on. I think we still have to wait.
[Khin Hnin Htet] Well, at the moment there are allegations that the SPDC
government is deliberately inserting anti-Thai articles in school texts
and inciting the recent religious riots. Some observers believe they are
exploiting the situation to divert the people's attention from the
country's woes. What is your opinion?
[Thakhin Thein Pe] Well, as we mentioned before, there is only one way
out. There is no other way except reconciliation. If the reconciliatory
dialogue succeeds then the way out will be smooth.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 16 Jun 01
Bankok: King and Queen to be invited to Burma--Junta hopes to make
amends for royal slur
Bangkok Post: June: 19, 2001
By Wassana Nanuam
Rangoon plans to invite Their Majesties the King and Queen to visit
Burma, a military source said yesterday.
The source said Burmese Prime Minister Gen Than Shwe would inform Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of the plan during his two-day visit to
Rangoon, beginning today.
Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Gen Sommai Wichavorn, who made final plans
for Mr Thaksin's visit, was advised of the plan by Burmese Foreign
Minister Khin Maung Win, the source said.
Burma's Foreign Affairs Ministry would draft and submit the invitation.
They hoped to clear any misunderstanding caused by an article in the New
Light of Myanmar newspaper hitting out at a late Thai king, although
another one praised Their Majesties, who visited Burma decades ago.
The source said Burmese military leaders planned to raise several issues
with Mr Thaksin, including Burmese minority groups, the Shan State Army
and the role of the Thai media.
Rangoon felt uncomfortable about the making of a Thai movie Suriyothai
depicting a war between the ancient Thai kingdom of Ayudhya and Burma.
Thai representatives explained the film would focus on the roles of Thai
characters and visual effects, rather than details about Burma's role.
Earlier, Burma voiced discontent about a Thai historical movie Bang
Rachan and the TV series Atita.
However, Rangoon had no problem with the Third Army's plan to erect a
statue of King Naresuan the Great in Chiang Rai.
King Bayinnaung of Burma had taken care of Prince Naresuan as his
adopted child for seven years in Burma before the prince became king.
Mr Thaksin is due to arrive in Rangoon on a flight from Phnom Penh about
4pm today. He will be greeted by Gen Than Shwe before they inspect a
guard of honour.
In the evening, the first secretary of Burma's State Peace and
Development Council, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, will have a private talk with Mr
Thaksin at the state guest house near Inya Lake.
The prime minister and his delegation will later attend a reception
hosted by Gen Than Shwe.
Tomorrow morning, Mr Thaksin and his team are to visit the Shwedagon
pagoda in Rangoon and then meet Gen Than Shwe, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and
Burmese army chief Gen Maung Aye for official talks.
The Thai delegation is scheduled to leave Rangoon for Bangkok at 4.30pm
following tomorrow afternoon's ministerial-level meetings between the
Burma Courier: Condition of Elderly Political Prisoners Deteriorates
MAE SOT, Jun 16 (AAPP) - A bulletin released by the Assistance
Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says the health of U Aye Tha
Aung, one the key members of the Committee Representing the People's
Parliament (CRPP) has taken a serious turn for the worse and that he has
been removed to the prison ward at Rangoon's General Hospital.
According to the AAPP bulletin, Aye Tha Aung is being treated for heart
disease, stomach problems and neck pains. It attributes his
deteriorated condition to the "absolutely inhumane prison conditions" he
suffers in prison and the lack of medical care at Insein prison where he
is being held.
U Aye Tha Aung, the representative on the CRPP of four political parties
representing Shan, Arakan, Mon and Zomi nationalities, was arrested in
April, 2000, after he met with representatives of other minority
political groups on issues related to political dialogue. Following
torture at the infamous interrogation centre of the military junta's
intelligence service, he was sentenced to three consecutive 7-year terms
in prison. He was denied legal defence at his trial.
In an accompanying bulletin, the AAPP notes the chronic poor health of
four elderly MPs who have been in prison for years. It says that U Ohn
Maung, 73, serving a 7-year term in Insein prison, is suffering from a
liver condition and unable to control his bowels.
It notes that U Sein Hla Oo, 63, a prominent journalist who has already
finished his seven-year sentence but continues to be detained, is
suffering from heart disease. As a result he has become "thinner and
thinner" while incarcerated at the Myitkyina prison.
Dr. Than Nyein, 64, has been suffering from heart disease. He underwent
two operations that removed hemorrhoids and his gall bladder after he
was sent to the prison ward in Rangoon General Hospital last year. He
has since been returned to Insein Prison where he is serving a
seven-year sentence. U Tun Kywe, 76, is currently hospitalized for an
unknown reason. He has been detained since his arrest in September of
"We are deeply concerned about their safety," the bulletin says. "Since
the military seized power in 1988 at least 43 political prisoners have
died as a result of torture and neglect."
Burma Courier: Relief Team Reaches Nagas Burned out of Their Homes
Based on a report from the Naga relief team in Kohima: June 7, 2001
KOHIMA - Delegates from a team formed by the Naga People's Movement for
Human Rights and the Naga Students' Federation have been able to deliver
relief supplies to more than 3,000 Naga hill people who fled Burma last
month, following attacks by the Burma Army on their villages.
They report that the villagers from Chen Hoyat, Throilo and Nyanching
have taken refuge in Naga villages closed to the border in the Mon
district of the Indian state of Nagaland. But they say that many more
are still hiding in the mountainous jungle region northwest of the town
of Lahe in Burma's Sagaing division.
According to the refugees the team found at the village of Chen Mohu
"the atrocities meted out on them were gruesome" One couple suffered
excruciating tortures leading to the death of the husband. The wife was
raped for two days and released at another village. Two of their
children are missing while the bodies of three other who died for
starvation have been discovered.
Those who reached safety could not imagine how the people are sustaining
themselves in the jungles in the rainy weather of the summer season.
Except for a few houses and granaries in the outskirt of Throilo
village, all three villages where the refugee lived have been burnt to
ashes. Many of the cattle were eaten up by the Burma army during the
Naga campaign. The other animals were shot and left to rot in the
Before leaving the Burma army planted landmines around the destroyed
villages. The villagers believe it will be unsafe for them to return
The relief team "would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the
concerned Nagas including churches, organizations, and individuals whose
selfless contributions have enabled us to respond in a little way to
the distress call of the refugees. This will not be the last time the
Nagas in the eastern sector will be requiring our help."
Burma Courier: Canadian Imports from Burma on Steep Upward Curve
OTTAWA, June 14 (CNS) - Figures released by Canada's Trade Commissioner
Service show that imports from Burma were up by more than 65% in the
first quarter of 2001.
Burma's clothing exports to Canada during the quarter were valued at C$
13.367 million (US$ 8.783 million) up by 57% over the same period last
year. The export of fish, prawns and seafood products to Canada was up
even more sharply by 177% to total C$ 4.159 million (US$ 2.732 million)
over the same period in 2000.
Burma's legal exports to Canada more than doubled last year to a total
of C$ 60,794 million (US$ 39.941 million). Clothing imports amounted to
77% of the total, while seafood and related products came to 17%. The
increases have been registered in spite of Canada's refusal to extend
favoured nation preference to Burma.
Promises by major Canadian retailers not to buy clothes sourced in Burma
have apparently had no effect on the import of cheap clothing produced
by Rangoon sweatshops.
Burma's imports from Canada are tiny in comparison to its exports. In
2000 the total came to only C$ 139,000 (US$ 90 thousand), consisting
mainly of a single shipment of sulphur.
No figures exist to account for the value Burma's major export to Canada
-- No. 1 grade white heroin - which arrives indirectly through other
countries in the southeast Asia region, China and Fiji. Vancouver
serves as a major transfer point to other North American centres for the
PlanetRice.net: Thai-North Korea Deal Fails; Myanmar May Export 300,000
June 16, 2001
Source: Sun Thai
BANGKOK--Asian rice prices held firm on June 14, as Thailand faced tight
local supplies after recent heavy rain, and as North Korea held talks
with Thailand during the worst drought in years, Reuters reported.
"Recent rains in Thailand have disrupted the drying process of the rice,
resulting in fewer supplies coming onto the market," a trader said.
"Supplies are hard to find."
Millers can dry unhusked rice with drying machines, but most prefer to
dry it in the sun to cut costs and improve the taste, Reuters reported.
With high demand from Asia, and also from Nigeria, Thai 100 percent
parboiled grade was quoted at US$193-$195, FOB, up from around $185-$187
Myanmar (Burma) may export 300,000 tons
Myanmar is estimated to have up to 300,000 metric tons of rice to
export, traders told Reuters.
The military government, which controls the rice trade, was increasing
efforts to capture overseas markets by making prices cheaper than other
Asian rice, traders said.
The Geneva-based trading firm Novel recently signed a contract with the
Myanmar government to buy up to 10,000 tons of 25 percent broken rice
grade at around $122 per ton FOB, traders said.
London based-Louis Dreyfus has also bought 43,000 tons of Myanmar 25
percent broken rice grade for African markets for June/July shipment,
traders said. During January-May 2001, Myanmar exported a total of
119,000 tons of rice, compared with only 23,000 tons exported in the
same period last year, figures from cargo surveyor Societe Generale de
Surveillance Myanmar (SGS) showed.
The country shipped a total of 110,000 tons of rice in 2000, mainly to
Bangladesh, compared with a total of 63,700 tons exported in 1999.
DVB : Army allegedly takes 10 girls hostage after five soldiers die in
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace
and Development Council] troops have taken 10 villagers as hostages
after a battle between them and the opposition armed groups in Mon
State's Ye Township in the first week of this month.
About 60 combined KNU [Karen National Union], PDF [Peace and Democratic
Front], and ABSDF [All Burma Students' Democratic Front] forces clashed
with SPDC's LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] 299 column in Ye's Chaungcha
region on 5-6 June. The villagers were taken as hostages because the
SPDC suffered five casualties.
All the 10 abducted villagers were young Mon girls in their 20s from
Lechar and Kinmun Villages in Ye Township. The army officer who arrested
them was the commander of the military column, Lt Col Thein Tun, and the
fate of the hostages is still unknown.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 14 Jun 01
Bangkok Post: Rangers shoot two dead, seize pills
June 17, 2001.
Chiang Rai-Rangers seized 50,000 methamphetamine pills and shot dead two
Akha tribesmen in a clash with a drug convoy near the border in Mae Fah
Luang district early yesterday.
Acting on a tip-off, 10 rangers were sent to Ban Igor Arbae where a
group of hilltribesmen was about to cross the border from Burma to
deliver the drugs to Thai traffickers.
At 2.45 am, the rangers spotted the convoy and ordered it to stop but
the hilltribesmen opened fire.
The rangers returned the fire.
The group retreated into Burma, leaving behind two bodies, two assault
rifles and 50,000 methamphetamine tablets.
BurmaNet: ILO prepares for mission to Burma
June 19, 2001
In May, a delegation led by Francis Maupain, Special Advisor to the
International Labour Organization?s Director General returned from Burma
with a general agreement that will allow a high level team from the ILO
to enter Burma for three weeks in September to assess whether the
regime, as it claims, has stopped using forced labor. Before the team
will enter Burma though, the ILO needs to reach a specific arrangement
with the junta guaranteeing witness security and the team?s freedom to
operate inside Burma. Sources close to the process tell BurmaNet that
if the ILO cannot work in a way that guarantees witness protection or if
the regime interferes with its investigation, the ILO would likely scrub
the mission and issue a report highlighting the evasions.
ASSEMBLING THE TEAM
The next crucial step will be the ILO Director General?s appointment of
the High Level Team that will go to Burma. The choice is important
because the credibility of the ILO?s assessment will hang largely on the
reputation and skills of the investigative team. If the regime?s
defenders can successfully portray the investigation as a hatchet job,
they stand a fair chance of undermining its influence. Similarly, if
the team conducts a cursory investigation and reports that forced labor
has ended, the ILO?s institutional credibility will be damaged. To
insulate the findings from this kind of attack, the ILO?s procedures are
to choose persons independent of the organization to conduct the
investigation and allow them broad latitude in conducting it as they
see fit. A source close to the process described the Director Generals?
criteria for selecting the investigative team?s members as likely to
focus on jurists with unimpeachable reputations: ?We?re talking very
high level. These are not the kind of people who will easily have the
wool pulled over their eyes.?
It was largely the need to leave the team broad latitude to set its own
procedures that prevented the ILO mission in May from negotiating the
precise arrangements for witness protection and operating procedures.
But the measures to ensure the investigation?s independence put the ILO
in an awkward position at least until the high level team is assembled
and announces its plans. In response to BurmaNet?s question about
whether it was conceivable that the team would go into Burma without a
witness protection arrangement, Francis Maupain, who headed the recent
mission to Burma could not definitively rule it out. Maupain?s response
however makes clear why the prospect is remote. Saying that to proceed
without a witness protection arrangement ?would go against common
sense,? Maupain referred to concerns raised in debates at the ILO?s
annual meeting and said the team ?will have to establish their [own]
rules but when they establish them, they will have before them the
record and that was a recurring concern.?
FILLING IN THE BLANKS
The issue most likely to prove a deal-breaker in the agreement reached
between the regime and the ILO how to guarantee witness protection for
those who talk to the ILO team. Without the ability to interview
witnesses in a secure and confidential setting and a guarantee against
retaliation, the team would have little chance of finding witnesses
prepared to talk candidly. In a somewhat bizarre turn, it is the regime
which has an interest in candor.
The ILO has already convicted the regime of using forced labor so the
team will not be there to ask IF the regime has used forced labor.
Instead, it will be there to ask WHETHER the regime has stopped using
forced labor since October 2000 when it promulgated orders purporting to
In the past, the regime and corporations working in Burma have staged
press tours and purportedly independent investigations of whether forced
labor was practiced. To no one?s surprise, these Potemkin village tours
turned up no signs of forced labor whatever. To forestall further
sanctions, the regime must put forth, or at least allow the ILO to
discover evidence that the post-October 2000 orders are being enforced.
As the regime already stands convicted, a continued effort on its part
to deny that forced labor ever happened plays into the hands of those
who say that only harsh trade sanctions will get the regime to stop.
COMING TO CONCLUSIONS
The general agreement signed in May allows the high level team complete
discretion to see whomever it wants and to go anywhere in Burma, except
areas where there is active fighting. This is the so-called ?security
card? and some fear the regime will invoke it to keep the investigators
out of any area where forced labor has been used. As one person close
to the negotiations described it however, ?There is nothing to prevent
the government from playing the ?security card? but they do so at their
own risk.? The ILO?s Francis Maupain maintains that ?the best guarantee
[against abuse] is the report of the members of the mission. They are
no fools... if they see it is a futile exercise, they are free to say
If the ILO cannot get the witness protection agreements it needs or is
so hamstrung by regime interference inside Burma that they cannot work
effectively there, the team would likely scrub its mission and base a
report on information gathered along Burma?s borders. Refugees, often
fleeing forced labor, have long been the best source of information
about the practice.
Burma Peace Foundation: Burma at the ILC
11 June 2001
In June 2000, the International Labour Conference (ILC) adopted a
resolution on Burma which requested the ILO constituents (workers,
employers and governments) and international organisations to review
their relations with Burma and to take appropriate measures to make sure
these did not contribute to forced labour and requested them to help end
forced labour in Burma.(see text of resolution, below)
These "measures" have been interpreted as authorising sanctions
The ILC decided, by the same resolution, that "....the question of
the implementation of the Commission of Inquiry's recommendations and of
the application of Convention No. 29 by Myanmar should be discussed at
future sessions of the International Labour Conference, at a sitting of
the Committee on the Application of Standards specially set aside for
the purpose, so long as this Member has not been shown to have fulfilled
The first special sitting took place on 11 June 2001.
The main issue was the conditions under which the measures requested
by the ILC might be lifted.
In the light of the agreed visit to Burma in September of an ILO
High-Level Team (HLT), the SPDC and ASEAN spokespeople said that the
Governing Body, at its November 2001 session should "review the question
of Myanmar on the basis of the report of the HLT with a view to removing
Most of the speakers in the debate, however, said that the measures
should not be lifted until the three main recommendations of the ILO
Commission of Inquiry (amendment of legislation permitting forced
labour; cessation of the practice; and punishment of people found guilty
of recruiting forced labour) were fulfilled.
The latter view prevailed, and the Governing Body was not asked to
consider the question of lifing the measures. This means in practice
that the measures will stay in place for at least two years.
Other important points contained in the Committee's Conclusion:
* The call to ECOSOC to take action was repeated
* Witnesses in contact with the HLT should have full protection and
immunity from reprisal
* The mission of the HLT should just be seen as the first step in a
* The HLT should be large enough to cover all the areas it wants to
* It should have full access
Resolution adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 88th
Session (June 2000)
The International Labour Conference,
Meeting at its 88th Session in Geneva from 30 May to 15 June 2000,
Considering the proposals by the Governing Body which are before it,
under the eighth item of its agenda (Provisional Record No. 4), with a
view to the adoption, under article 33 of the ILO Constitution, of
action to secure compliance with the recommendations of the Commission
of Inquiry established to examine the observance by Myanmar of its
obligations in respect of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29),
Having taken note of the additional information contained in the
report of the ILO technical cooperation mission sent to Yangon from 23
to 27 May 2000 (Provisional Record No. 8) and, in particular, of the
letter dated 27 May 2000 from the Minister of Labour to the
Director-General, which resulted from the mission,
Considering that, while this letter contains aspects which seem to
reflect a welcome intention on the part of the Myanmar authorities to
take measures to give effect to the recommendations of the Commission of
Inquiry, the factual situation on which the recommendations of the
Governing Body were based has nevertheless remained unchanged to date,
Believing that the Conference cannot, without failing in its
responsibilities to the workers subjected to various forms of forced or
compulsory labour, abstain from the immediate application of the
measures recommended by the Governing Body unless the Myanmar
authorities promptly take concrete action to adopt the necessary
framework for implementing the Commission of Inquiry's recommendations,
thereby ensuring that the situation of the said workers will be remedied
more expeditiously and under more satisfactory conditions for all
1. Approves in principle, subject to the conditions stated in
paragraph 2 below, the actions recommended by the Governing Body,
namely: (a) to decide that the question of the implementation of the
Commission of Inquiry's recommendations and of the application of
Convention No. 29 by Myanmar should be discussed at future sessions of
the International Labour Conference, at a sitting of the Committee on
the Application of Standards specially set aside for the purpose, so
long as this Member has not been shown to have fulfilled its
(b) to recommend to the Organization's constituents as a whole
governments, employers and workers that they: (i) review, in the light
of the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry, the relations that they
may have with the member State concerned and take appropriate measures
to ensure that the said Member cannot take advantage of such relations
to perpetuate or extend the system of forced or compulsory labour
referred to by the Commission of Inquiry, and to contribute as far as
possible to the implementation of its recommendations; and (ii) report
back in due course and at appropriate intervals to the Governing Body;
(c) as regards international organizations, to invite the
Director-General: (i) to inform the international organizations referred
to in article 12, paragraph 1, of the Constitution of the Member's
failure to comply; (ii) to call on the relevant bodies of these
organizations to reconsider, within their terms of reference and in the
light of the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry, any cooperation
they may be engaged in with the Member concerned and, if appropriate, to
cease as soon as possible any activity that could have the effect of
directly or indirectly abetting the practice of forced or compulsory
(d) regarding the United Nations specifically, to invite the
Director-General to request the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to
place an item on the agenda of its July 2001 session concerning the
failure of Myanmar to implement the recommendations contained in the
report of the Commission of Inquiry and seeking the adoption of
recommendations directed by ECOSOC or by the General Assembly, or by
both, to governments and to other specialized agencies and including
requests similar to those proposed in paragraphs (b) and (c) above;
(e) to invite the Director-General to submit to the Governing Body, in
the appropriate manner and at suitable intervals, a periodic report on
the outcome of the measures set out in paragraphs (c) and (d) above, and
to inform the international organizations concerned of any developments
in the implementation by Myanmar of the recommendations of the
Commission of Inquiry;
2. Decides that those measures will take effect on 30 November 2000
unless, before that date, the Governing Body is satisfied that the
intentions expressed by the Minister of Labour of Myanmar in his letter
dated 27 May have been translated into a framework of legislative,
executive and administrative measures that are sufficiently concrete and
detailed to demonstrate that the recommendations of the Commission of
Inquiry have been fulfilled and therefore render the implementation of
one or more of these measures inappropriate;
3. Authorizes the Director-General to respond positively to all
requests by Myanmar that are made with the sole purpose of establishing,
before the above deadline, the framework mentioned in the conclusions of
the ILO technical cooperation mission (points (i), (ii) and (iii), page
8/11 of Provisional Record No. 8), supported by a sustained ILO presence
on the spot if the Governing Body confirms that the conditions are met
for such presence to be truly useful and effective.
BMA: Thai-based Two Activists Tour across Canada
By Tin Maung Htoo
Burma Media Association (BMA)
June 15, 2001
Two Burmese activists, a former political prisoner and a women rights
campaigner, arrived in Canada on April 30 and started their long
passage, from Vancouver to Montreal, crossing the prairies shield and
stopping at Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa.
When they reached to their scheduled cities, they held several meetings
with Burma activists, supporters, and various national and local
Canadian rights groups, sharing their experiences and hearing other
experiences as well, a report updated by Ottawa-based Canadian Friends
of Burma said.
As a final destination of their campaign trip, they arrived at Montreal
and now learning some campaign strategies and techniques presented by
the Canadian Foundation for Human Rights (CFHR), which started on June
11 and lasts until early next month.
Ms. Corinne Baumgarten, Program Director of Ottawa-based Canadian
Friends of Burma, accompanied with the two activists, said, "we could
take advantage of their time in Canada to offer them exposure to groups
that pertain to their work in Thailand and at the same time promote the
Burma cause in Canada."
The two visitors namely Minn from Assistance Association for Political
Prisoners (AAPP) and Charm from Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN) are
actively working for their relevant fields in Thailand and Thai-Burma
Sources closed to the tour said that Minn was detained in for nine years
for his political activities in Burma, and after released he escaped to
Thai-Burma border in order to keep up with the struggle for Democracy in
Burma. Charm is Shan's women rights activist and working with Shan
women who had been forced into sex industry in Thailand in terms of
daily hardships and various rights abuses in Burma.
Ms. Baumgarten said the journey was fruitful but extremely fatigued for
the two activists, as they could not even have a chance to explore the
Canadian cities they arrived due to the time-constraints and a wave of
preceding events in each city.
Bangkok Post: NGOs blast Burma trip
June 19, 2001
Three human rights NGOs yesterday issued a statement opposing Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's visit to Burma.
The Committee Campaigning for Democracy in Burma, Forum Asia and Peace
and Human Rights Resource Centre said Burma had never shown its
sincerity in solving border and drug problems with Thailand.
Also, Burma's human rights violations had led to influxes into Thailand
of migrant workers and refugees which had caused a lot of social
Mr Thaksin leaves today for a two-day visit to Burma.
The statement said Mr Thaksin's visit would be tantamount to supporting
the Burmese military junta's human rights violations.
It also suggested that should the prime minister insist on visiting
Rangoon, he should also raise the issue of human rights violations.
Thailand should offer to take a role in helping bring about national
reconciliation in Burma, including mediating talks between the junta and
the opposition National League for Democracy and minority groups.
The NGOs also said Mr Thaksin should ask to meet Aung San Suu Kyi.
Bangkok Post: Political harmony looms: Peace, unity and prosperity on
the way, says Chavalit
June 19, 2001
Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said the reduced tension
between the Burmese democracy movement and the ruling junta could lead
to the formation of "a national government".
He said the national government would eventually help bring political
reconciliation, peace, unity and prosperity to the country.
The current political atmosphere in Burma was very encouraging, Gen
Chavalit said, and could help break the political impasse.
He said the national government would probably include several senior
members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu
Political dialogue has already begun between the ruling State Peace and
Development Council and the NLD, he said, but Mrs Suu Kyi might not
actively take part in the new government.
"I've a sixth sense that something positive is going to happen soon. The
trend is quite encouraging,"
The junta was reported to have released eight political prisoners who
won parliamentary seats in the 1990 elections. They also allowed some
opposition parties to reopen their offices.
A government spokesman said the release was the result of talks between
the military and the NLD.
"The national government would undoubtedly help lessen outside pressure,
create unity and lessen political rivalry," Gen Chavalit said.
A senior opposition leader said the release of the prisoners "could be"
a sign that talks between the generals and Mrs Suu Kyi were making
The Asian Wall Street Journal: Nasty Regime- Watchword for Burma--
By Mitch McConnell
In a speech before the British Parliament in 1982, President Ronald
Reagan declared "We must be staunch in our convictions that freedom is
not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and
universal right of all human beings." These hallowed words bear truth
today, but they unfortunately ring hollow in Burma.
The international community has a moral obligation to stand by Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy in their struggle for
democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Burma. Under some of the
most repressive conditions in the world, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and her
supporters have waged a decade-long, nonviolent struggle to claim what
they rightfully won in the May 1990 elections: legitimate leadership of
the Texas-sized, Southeast Asian nation. Burma's military-led State
Peace and Development Council annulled a free and fair election and the
Burmese people's aspiration for democratic rule.
With few exceptions, the SPDC has been roundly condemned for its
mismanagement of the country and the maltreatment of the people of
Burma. To be Burmese today is to endure unimaginable hardships and
humiliation imposed by thugs and thieves more interested in protecting
the status quo than bringing the country into the 21st century. Under
the SPDC's oppressive hand, the political, economic and social
development of Burma has been set back for decades. An exploding
HIV/AIDS infection rate that is propagated by the military's involvement
in the illicit opium trade and prostitution has already permanently
handicapped generations of Burmese, all of whom have been denied the
most fundamental human rights and civil liberties. The 2001 Human Rights
Watch World Report offers a blunt assessment of the importance the SPDC
places on the welfare of the Burmese people: The corrupt junta "took no
steps to improve its dire human rights record."
The international community must maintain political and economic
Rangoon. In Geneva, the 89th Session of the International Labor
Conference is underway and Burma's use of child and forced labor will be
on the agenda.
Last November, in an unprecedented move, the United Nation's
International Labor Organization called for sanctions against Burma
because of its use of forced labor. This outrage was echoed in the U.S.
Senate where legislation was recently introduced to ban the import to
America of any goods produced or manufactured in that country. The
international community should respond to the SPDC's systemic
forced-labor practices firmly and in accordance with the ILO mandate.
The world can no longer tolerate the use of Burmese children as soldiers
and porters for army patrols.
Vigilance must be the watchword for Burma. The United Kingdom and the
States continue to have an important leadership role in maintaining and
increasing global pressure on the junta. On May 15, President George W.
Bush declared an emergency to deal with the threat posed to America's
national security and foreign policy by the SPDC, which triggered the
continuation of the ban on new investments in Burma by American
individuals and companies. As the author of the 1997 law that prohibits
such investments, I am particularly pleased by the president's support
of the ILO's call for all member states to end ties that abet the
continued use of forced labor in that country. On the heels of its
successful election campaign, the Labour Party in the U.K. should make
similar statements in support of the Burma boycott.
Japan should be publicly censured for approving a $28.6 million aid
package to Burma for the reconstruction of a hydroelectric dam. There
simply is no justification for one of Asia's strongest democracies to
provide assistance to an illegitimate regime. To restore their national
honor and stature among the world's democracies, Japan should
immediately suspend the assistance package and publicly reaffirm its
commitment to the de facto global ban on bilateral and multi-lateral
assistance to Rangoon.
Next month, the U.S. and other nations will gather in Hanoi for the 34th
Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting and
Post-Ministerial Conferences. The Asean foreign ministers have already
decided to put drugs high on their agenda and with good reason:
Methamphetamines from Burma have flooded Thailand and the region in
recent years, and according to the U.N. Burma is again the world's
of opium. The U.S. and other Asean dialogue partners have a unique
opportunity to reaffirm their opposition to the lawlessness and
repression of the SPDC -- and for their support of a democratic Burma.
Despite the recent release of some NLD leaders generated presumably by
the secret dialogue between Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and military generals,
efforts of U.N. envoy Razali Ismail have yielded few results. Democracy
activists remain imprisoned and the NLD continues to be prohibited from
meeting in Burma. In testifying before the U.S. Congress last month,
Secretary of State
Colin Powell offered a more sobering assessment of the talks, saying
they offer "a few rays of hope, but they are few and they are dim."
The 42 million people of Burma deserve more than dim rays of hope for
the future. It is the international community's responsibility to stand
hand-in-hand with the Burmese people until they are no longer denied
their unalienable rights of human dignity and freedom. To do less would
only aid and abet the heinous crimes and injustices of the SPDC.
Mr. McConnell is a U.S. senator (Republican-Kentucky) and ranking member
of the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.
The Guardian (UK): Backpacker?s Crusade[Criticizing Mawdsley as Tory
Three times James Mawdsley entered Burma to protest against the regime,
three times he was arrested, the last time sentenced to 17 years' jail.
Released and prospering, he has now become a Conservative Party
activist. What was it all for, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark ask him
Saturday June 9, 2001
What does a man who admits he has little knowledge of Burmese history,
few contacts among the country's dissidents, and no understanding of its
democracy struggle hope to achieve by standing in a Burmese market
handing out copies of his English booklet while playing freedom songs on
a tape recorder?
James Mawdsley, a 28-year-old former Bristol University student, did
just that in August 1999 and was seized by the Burmese military regime,
the third time he had been arrested since launching his career as an
activist two years earlier. This time last year he was 300 days into a
17-year sentence in Kengtung Prison, in north-eastern Burma, dressed in
a filthy sarong and plastic flip-flops, sharing his cell with "toads,
rats and bats" and an ecclesiastical text.
When Mawdsley was unexpectedly released last October, his story was
splashed across the front pages. "I have built a platform and seen what
I needed to see. I'm very glad I went in and I'm very glad to be out,"
he told reporters at Bangkok airport. In Britain, the response to him
was ambivalent. There was a degree of cynicism about his professed
Christian zeal, and suggestions that he was reckless to have stuck two
fingers up at a dictatorship that has slaughtered thousands of its own
people. But there was also grudging respect for his conviction, altruism
and bravery. Terry Waite called to offer advice. James Mawdsley entered
the psyche of Middle England somewhere between St George and St Joan.
He proved an unlikely hero. He may have been God-fearing and slightly
dowdy, but he had taken a new phenomenon to the extreme. Mawdsley had
become the spokesman for Lonely Planet activism that seeks out just
causes to fit a gap year, that justifies the expenditure on a
round-the-world ticket and pays back with experiences to cite on a CV.
He had gone one stage further - doing time for what he believed in - and
he would inspire others to follow. In September 1999, Rachel Goldwyn, an
LSE student, was sentenced by the Burmese to seven years' hard labour
for singing freedom songs in Rangoon. Wars are today becoming
hard-to-find havens akin to the marooned paradise in The Beach. Refugee
camps and jungle bunkers are the new staging posts, places where the
comfortable or numb go to feel something. In any good bookshop a shelf
of opportunities presents itself. North Korea is, according to the
travel guide, "a fascinating blend of George Orwell's 1984 and Cold War
comic opera". Burma is a place of "magical sites", another "Orwellian
society that has withdrawn from contact with the late 20th century". And
for a growing number of dissatisfied students and graduates, most of
them British, almost all of them white and middle class, it is to Burma
that they flock.
But what do they achieve? Goldwyn's story was spread across the Daily
Express and she was appointed LSE Student Union honorary president. This
year she was recruited to the judging panel of the New Statesman's New
Media Awards. Sally Becker, a television extra who became the face of
Bosnia, dubbed the Angel of Mostar in 1993, wrote a book and was the
subject of a documentary, although she was derided by aid agencies as
"an unguided missile". And when Mawdsley touched down at Bangkok airport
on October 21 last year, he became a global cause célèbre, almost as
famous as the woman who had inspired him: Aung San Suu Kyi, the
pro-democracy leader of Burma who has spent the best part of 12 years
incarcerated in her Rangoon home. Since then Mawdsley has walked into a
promising career: a documentary, a six-figure book deal and a leg-up in
his chosen new vocation. He has given up Burma to become an activist for
the Conservative Party. Why did he choose Burma as his cause? Mawdsley
mumbled like a nervous curate. "Well, there was a Burmese boy in my
class at school. I suppose that was when I first became aware," he says.
"I was also vaguely aware of a woman imprisoned there, someone just
fighting on her own, pitted against an immensely brutal regime. We
didn't even know her name and I think we called her something like
Lapsang Souchong. Beyond that, everything else I knew was from John
Craven's Newsround. Yes, I think that's where it all started." Mawdsley
left his Lancashire public school with five As at A-level and was on
course to become a particle physicist until the age of 22, when he
surprised everyone by dropping out of university. "I wasn't interested
in politics and spent most of the time in the bar. I suppose I dropped
out because I thought there was something more important to be getting
on with. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew it wasn't in laboratories
or pubs." Like many of his contemporaries, he packed his anti-malarials
and headed for Asia.
When he reached New Zealand, he had a chance meeting with Burmese
refugees who talked about "the atrocities they had witnessed and
suffered". A place of "injustice and savagery", a country "ruled by
terror and violence". A memory from his childhood resurfaced. So this
was why he became a human rights activist? "I really hate that term. I'm
not a human rights activist. I don't know what to describe myself as.
I'm just me. My goals are how things affect individuals, not the great
big scheme, the great big picture. Only God has that great big vision.
We don't have it. We've got a command, which is to obey and to love. And
when we do it in a small way, his vision will unfold," says Mawdsley.
Despite his recent experiences, he is still not well-versed in Burma's
big picture. "I've read a little bit of Burmese history, but couldn't
tell you much about it." He also reveals that the few Burmese students
he has met tried to dissuade him from direct action. He has no opinion
on whether Suu Kyi is winning the fight for democracy or, as some in her
own party claim, is a barrier to change. He has no view on the debate
raging among Burma's democracy activists: one faction hailing Western
sanctions for weakening the regime, another warning they only harm the
Burmese people. Mawdsley does say that the generals in Rangoon are
"terrorist scum". The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),
the regional economic forum, are "wankers" and "Who cares what they
think anyway?" The Indonesians, once sponsors of the Rangoon regime,
"are thugs who would have chopped down all their rain forests by now if
they had better machinery". And the government of Singapore, a Rangoon
ally, is "a dictatorship".
It was the suffering of those he met in New Zealand that motivated him
to buy a ticket to Bangkok in 1997. He headed for Chiang Mai, Thailand's
adventure tourism capital, gateway to the Golden Triangle and home to
tens of thousands of Burmese pro-democracy campaigners. The Lonely
Planet guide to Burma advises, "If you want to go off the usual tourist
route... make it up as you go along." Today, names such as James and
Rachel fill the visitors books of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
in Chiang Mai. One group that specialises in smuggling film footage out
of Burma is deluged with offers from volunteers fresh off the overnight
bus from Bangkok. But the backpackers are not well received. "There is
seldom work for them. Often they just get in the way and get themselves,
and us, into trouble," the group's Thai coordinator told us: "The work
takes years not days. It's low-key, building programmes slowly with no
publicity or glory. Most of these guys should just go home and start
lobbying domestically. Some are really terror tourists, stalking war
zones, feeding on adrenalin. Why are they doing it, for Burma or for
Mawdsley says that he was surprised to be rejected by the Chiang Mai
lobby - "But that wasn't going to stop me." He is the first to admit
that he enjoys taking risks, and that he is impatient. "If someone told
me I would have to write to MPs or lobby the Foreign Office, and hope
that they will change their policy and our diplomats out there will
start haranguing the Burmese generals - what a nightmare."
Instead of stepping into the package tour Jeeps that whisk tourists to a
Disney World of ethnic villages, Mawdsley dived into the jungle. And
like his fellow activists, he trekked to Thailand's porous border with
Burma, a place enticingly described by the travel guides as "extremely
dangerous", populated by "smugglers, rebel armies and refugees". In this
exotic "opium-sodden" region, Mawdsley found a bed in a refugee camp
where he exchanged his jeans for a sarong, a green chicken curry diet
for boiled rice and fermented fish. "Every young person should go to
Burma, once, to live and learn. In the West we're so much into our
consumerism and comfortable career lifestyles. We should feel guilty
that other people put their lives on the line for issues that are worth
it," Mawdsley says. For the dozens who make it to these camps, there
are hundreds more at home, surfing for a cause. Peter Watson, a Scottish
student we met on a mountain top in the middle of the Golden Triangle
last November, was on his way to teach orphaned children from the Shan
tribe after learning of their plight on the internet. "It was a toss-up
between Burma and Inner Mongolia. But Burma sounded more exciting and at
least they speak some English here. It was difficult when I first
arrived in Chiang Mai," Watson said. "The NGOs weren't very friendly.
But I got here in the end. By foot." Mawdsley says he was looking for
something "immediate" and "authentic", two words that crop up frequently
in his lexicon. He found it soon enough - Burmese army shells raining
down on the Karen tribe refugee camp that he had made his home,
destroying his makeshift English school, forcing him to flee "carrying a
baby in my arms". Diana, his mother, recalled him saying he was "so
frightened he could not stop shaking" but it was too late to turn back.
"I fell in love with the jungle, my hosts and their culture," he says.
The aid agencies working in the refugee camps on the border have even
less patience with the likes of Mawdsley. The Burmese Border Consortium
(BBC) last year juggled a budget of more than £9m to care for 120,000
refugees. Foreign workers are prohibited from living in the camps to
"minimise aid dependency and to help preserve the cultural identity of
refugee communities". The Thai government stipulates that if foreigners
are found living in the BBC camps, the projects will be shut down.
Mawdsley was not deterred, and after being driven out of his camp by the
rocket attack, set off for Rangoon. "God tells us that we cannot walk
away from suffering. Going to Burma was the only thing that would
satisfy me emotionally." The Lonely Planet guide to Burma partially
agrees: "Visitors can to a certain extent bear witness to the conditions
in the country... it is Lonely Planet's contention that by targeting
expenditure and avoiding government-sponsored tourism, visitors can
improve the plight of the general populace."
Not the view of Suu Kyi, who has called on foreigners to stay away.
In September 1997, Mawdsley chained himself to a Rangoon school gate and
sprayed the pavement with the Buddhist expression metta (loving,
kindness) before being interrogated and deported. In April 1998, he
crossed the Thai border into Burma to play pro-democracy songs on his
tape recorder and served 99 days of a five-year sentence. Finally, in
1999, he crossed the Thai border to hand out his self-penned booklet,
Real Freedom. As he was led off to jail, he shouted: "You're an illegal
and immoral crowd of terrorists."
He recounts a dream from his youth. "I always wondered what it would be
like to be marooned on a desert island. I had a fascination with
enforced isolation." It was something he would confront during 18 months
of solitary confinement in Burma. "It became a huge honour and pleasure
to know that I was on the side of Right and that I was challenging
Wrong. Knowing that I was not wasting my life on materialism but serving
His will occasionally put me in absolute rapture."
Mawdsley is adamant that his actions were not a publicity stunt. "A
brief story about a white boy in jail is unlikely to tip the balance."
The media coverage of his plight was simply a by-product that aided his
security, ensuring that he "did not disappear". So why did he do it?
"I'm just trying to benefit the people at the bottom. I can go right out
there, meet that prison officer, spend a lot of time with him, hopefully
we'll learn a bit about each other, change our attitudes, come close to
each other. It's much more direct."
Given his background in physics, it is not surprising that Mawdsley's
methodology is borrowed from the laboratory. He believes in chain
reactions, that his one, lone action will shake the Burmese people out
of a terror - induced torpor. "Let me tell you about the shit bucket man
in Kengtung jail, a prisoner who nobody else would talk to. He had the
worst job - cleaning out the latrines. I started talking to him every
day and it surprised everyone else. Soon other prisoners were talking to
him. I made a difference to this man's life. Could I have done that
writing letters? Changing this man's life made it all worth it. The
power of protest rests on its authenticity, on genuine compassion, on
fearlessness. This is what will make the biggest impact in Burma.
Anything else will fade away. Only truth will prevail." However,
according to Mawdsley, only certain people are able to pass on the
truth. Goldwyn, for example, is "an idiot. She just went into Burma and
sang some songs." What is the difference between going to Rangoon to
"sing some songs", and repeatedly crossing the border into Burma to
"play pro-democracy songs on my cassette recorder" (as did Mawdsley)?
"Well for a start it's a total mistake to aim at publicity without
taking up the issues politically," he replies.
Last January, their differences turned into a public row. David
Mawdsley, James's father, accused Edward Goldwyn, Rachel's father, of
being misguided, "inflicting harm on the pro-democracy cause in Burma",
for winning freedom for his daughter by doing a deal with the junta.
Edward Goldwyn promised the generals that Rachel would cease criticising
them if she was freed. Rachel Goldwyn responded with a letter to the
Times: "My family made my release their immediate and sole objective.
James's family do not want to fight for his release." But diplomats in
Rangoon confirm that when Mawdsley was eventually freed last October, it
was as a result of the intervention of Premier Oil, a British company
vilified for investing heavily in Burma. Premier Oil's continued
presence in Burma depends on the country's rehabilitation. "It's
slightly bizarre," is Mawdsley's only comment. He stops for a moment.
"People who society fears are always rubbished as loonies. What did you
really think of me at the time? Did you think I was meddling and naive,
Surely the answer lies in the effects of his actions. Did his suffering
in a Burmese jail invigorate the democracy struggle in Burma? Amnesty
International has published a leaflet, "Myanmar, Beautiful Country,
Brutalised People", that gives awarning to those travelling to Burma:
"Remember, do not talk to Burmese people about politics or human rights.
You will be OK but they risk imprisonment and torture. Remember you can
come and go but the people of Myanmar [Burma] will remain to face a
government that violates human rights with impunity."
Mawdsley seems to have forgotten a statement he made soon after arriving
back in Bangkok, telling how his fellow convicts had been too frightened
to look him in the eye for fear they would be beaten. Rachel Goldwyn,
who initially claimed the world "is much wiser about human rights
violations in Burma" following her arrest, admitted last year that the
Rangoon-based mother of an exiled Burmese student who had helped her,
had been arrested by the junta. In this land of paranoia, even a
conversation with a foreigner in a bus queue is likely to lead to a raid
on a house by the feared Military Intelligence, plain-clothed spies who
routinely use torture, caging their prisoners in dog kennels. The hard
truth is that neither Mawdsley nor Goldwyn can know what has been won or
lost. What has happened to the shit bucket man? Mawdsley cannot say.
The NGOs on the Thai border, however, are now counting the cost to their
programmes. For years activists have slipped into Burma unannounced,
quietly providing needles in areas obliterated by HIV, distributing rice
to villagers whose crops are stolen by the army, smuggling schoolbooks
into communities where education is banned for fear it kindles dissent.
Now everyone who flies into Rangoon is perceived as a Mawdsley or a
Goldwyn. The Thai border is saturated with Military Intelligence and
soldiers. Inside Burma, there are some who are infuriated by Mawdsley
and his contemporaries, accusing them of casting the Burmese people as
victims and themselves as saviours. "Naive romanticism angers many of us
in Burma. [Western] college students play at being freedom fighters but
it is we Burmese who pay the price for these empty heroics," one of Suu
Kyi's former aides recently commented.
"For years outsiders have portrayed the troubles of my country as a
morality play: good against evil. The response by some in the West has
been equally simplistic, waging a moral crusade against evil." Mawdsley
concedes that it was skin colour that saved him in the end and not his
moral character. His father agrees: "If James was not white they would
have killed him long ago. The Burmese junta are scum."
Mawdsley has prospered since his return. His father says that he has
"built up credibility and more than done his bit". In his own words,
James Mawdsley has upgraded his lifestyle, "eating in slightly better
restaurants, wearing slightly better shirts, taking a cab instead of
walking". He says: "Money comes and money goes. God provides money, as
much as I need." Mawdsley has appointed AP Watt, the literary agency to
represent him. His autobiography, The Heart Must Break, has been bought
by Random House for "a whopping advance", rumoured to be more than
£145,000 and is to be published in September. There is already talk of
serialisation deals with the Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail as well as a
movie. He is on the verge of a nationwide publicity tour.
According to the publicity material, Mawdsley's book will be "in the
tradition of some of the finest prison writing from Solzhenitsyn to
Brian Keenan", and our attention is drawn to his "sympathetic
tenderness". Asked about the title, Mawdsley says: "It's Sébastien-Roche
something Chamfort - a French philosopher, late 1700s, who used to throw
away little cleverisms I think. Anyhow, Random House recommended the
title and I know better than to argue with them about the cover... It's
more of a story than fact. I'm impatient. I want to churn it out and get
it out the way. Move on to the next thing."
It is apparent that Mawdsley is slowly repositioning himself. At our
second meeting, he was keen to tell us that although he'd spent the
morning helping to carry a cross through London in an imitation of Simon
of Cyrene, who assisted Jesus on his way to Golgotha, he was also due to
go on a bender that night. "It's no good being portrayed just as a good
Christian boy. I am quite normal. I'm meeting my mates later in Covent
Garden for some of the good stuff." One thought immediately comes to
mind: Rotherham and the young William Hague sinking 14 pints.
The thought is not wide of the mark. Mawdsley came out in March,
confessing to have "Tory blood", before climbing aboard the battle bus
in May. Hague was delighted to borrow from Mawdsley's notions of
optimism, bravery, radicalism and faith, beliefs we were reminded had
been honed during his days in Burmese prisons.
Today, Britain's best-known human rights activist cites Margaret
Thatcher as his inspiration rather than Aung San Suu Kyi. He claims that
the former Tory leader is the "only British politician who understood
that you have to stand up to dictators", apparently forgetting that she
recently lobbied to spring General Pinochet from his Home Counties jail.
"I can't wait until the Tory Party is back in office. We share the same
outlook. I believe passionately in the Conservative philosophy of
individual responsibility and the prime importance of freedom and
justice," he told the Daily Telegraph. "Look at how Mrs Thatcher dealt
with the Iron Curtain and the Argentine junta in the Falklands. I met
William Hague a few weeks ago and I trust him far more than anyone in
Mawdsley will not acknowledge that the Conservative Party has no policy
on Burma and that under the Tory governments of the 80s and 90s Britain
became the largest foreign investor in the military regime.
During this election Mawdsley gave doorstep sermons about beatings with
wooden batons before reflecting on a Britain where freedom and democracy
reigned. Hague's crusader appealed to dithering voters to reject a Prime
Minister who was "fickle and beholden to the press" in favour of a
candidate with "real political courage". In the next election he plans
to be a parliamentary candidate and undoubtedly harbours leadership
ambitions. What does a man who admits he has little knowledge of
Burmese history, few contacts among the country's leading dissidents, no
understanding of its democracy struggle, hope to achieve by standing in
a crowded Burmese market handing out copies of his English booklet while
playing freedom songs on a tape recorder? Read James Mawdsley's lips.
He's not talking about Burmese democracy and human rights abuses any
more. He's talking about himself. "I have learned about Burma. Now it's
time I learned about British politics."
The Stone Of Heaven: The Secret History Of Imperial Green Jade, by
Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
on June 14, priced £20.
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): An insight into the tale of Ayutthaya
Saturday, 2 June, 2001
Not so much or almost nothing about Siam (Thailand) has been included
in the curricula of all the basic education primary, middle and high
schools in Myanmar.
We have known since long that in Siam, the bad things about Myanmars,
true or false, have been exaggerated and taught at schools. We feel sad
about this, but we have no right to say anything. We have also known
that the Siamese (Thais) have portrayed ancient Myanmar kings as if they
were robbers; and that they have usually produced films or videos based
on the scripts magnifying the bad parts of the original true events. Let
it be, as it is just their own internal affairs.
In the ancient royal city of Ayutthaya, which is now a tourist
destination, the ruins are being displayed and exaggerated to be caused
by Myanmars. It is said that the words insulting the Myanmar kings and
the Myanmar people much can be heard there.
Ayutthaya was not included in our study programme. But when I made a
request to visit Ayutthaya, the host, Education Department, made
arrangements for our team to visit the ancient city on one Sunday. But,
on Sunday morning, I was getting trouble with dysentery. I was infected
with dysentery as I ate seafood during the visit to a Siamese beach. So,
I told other members of our team to visit E-yavun Hotel and to study the
devotional offering to the statue of a god situated in front of it. I
said "Please come back to the hotel at about 10 am and I would be ready
at that time." I remained at the hotel. But the dysentery was still
giving me trouble till they arrived back at the hotel. So, I could not
I recovered from illness only when our team arrived at Pitsanulok. While
having a conversation with the liaison officer, I happened to make
another request to visit Ayutthaya. The young liaison officer told me
that when we arrived back at Bangkok, we would have a half-day?s time
before making a return flight to Myanmar; and that he would take me to
Ayutthaya by his car. While talking with him, he said that he too might
accompany a study delegation to Myanmar. When I told him "Please do
come. I will take you to Bagan at my own expense", he jumped with joy.
But when we left Pitsanulok, I was troubled by dysentery again. I was
infected with the disease as I have the habit of tasting the local food
wherever I arrived. I ate too much roasted ray fish during my visit to
southern Siam. As I was troubling with the disease again and again, a
professor of our team said "Please don?t visit the ancient city as you
are not well. Besides, as we have not thoroughly read about Ayutthaya,
we will not know whether the facts explained by the host are right or
wrong. But, you might be embarrassed as you have known all about the
history of Ayutthaya". Thus, I had not visited Ayutthaya.
But the displays on and talks about Ayutthaya are an endless story. As a
Myanmar, I feel sorry for the displays and talks. But I believe not
every visitor would believe the exaggeration.
Though all the matters should be pacified at present, the Siamese news
and periodicals are still bearing grudge and carrying reports and
articles on it without due consideration.
I have read about Siam long ago, as it is our neighbour. The country is
closer to us than any other neighbours. We both are of the same religion
and our cultures have many similarities. I still remember finding an
ordination hall built in shallow water during our study of an ancient
town at Sukhothai. Our liaison officer pointed at the ordination hall
and said "Udaka Sima...Udaka Sima!" I said, "Yes it is, and we call it
"Yethein" (ordination hall built in shallow water). Udaka is a Pali ward
meaning "water" and Sima in Pali refers to "place". In English, it is
called "ordination hall". Concerning the religious culture, we both are
much similar to each other."
Thus, it is no wonder that I have read Siamese history. As a writer, I
read as much as I want to write much. But I was awaiting for a right
time. I had exercised restraint since long, for, we both are ASEAN
nations. At the time when we were silent about the bad parts, our
Embassy in Bangkok was raided. In reality, the receiving country has the
duty for the security of our Embassy. Let it be. There are people who
are endlessly recounting the past and those ones who are making false
statements with sole intention to harm Myanmar. There is no balance.
With the thought that it was time to write what I had known about Siam,
I presented about the Bowring Agreement in my articles. Ah! there
appeared a lot of noisy complaints in Siam. As I concentrate on reading
but hardly listen to foreign radios, I learned about the complaints only
afterwards. They (Siamese) feel much pain for just a minor matter though
they are randomly making ill remarks on Myanmar kings. I just want to
present about the bullies of the British on a monarch of the past feudal
era. Please do have little more magnanimity.
Telling about the bad things of Myanmars and the suffering of the
Siamese at Ayutthaya is like a growl. Here, I would like to refer to the
facts included in Myanmar history book "Yadana Thikha" The book is the
brief history based on "Maha Yazawingyi" of Konboung era.
An excerpt in the chapter on "The conquering of Ayutthaya" of the book
reads: "When the conquering army marched into the town, what they found
was the Royal Prince Bya-on Saosan chained to the neck and confined in
an elephant shed. He was punished by the Siamese King. The Myanmar
soldiers freed him from the chain and kept him under guard. When the
soldiers searched the entire town, they found the body of King Ecartat
of Siam at the western palace gate. He was hit by a weapon. His remains
were buried properly under the supervision of the Myanmar commanders."
This excerpt clearly indicates that the Myanmar soldiers were not
barbarous nor cruel; that they were engaging in the battle as the war
broke out. They even relieved the situation of an enemy, who was chained
in confinement resulting from the disagreements between the royal
brothers. As the royal remains were buried properly under the
supervision of the Myanmar commanders, it shows how much the Myanmar
soldiers gave respect! for the Siamese King. If the Myanmars were cruel
and barbarous, they would have left the enemy King?s body unburied. They
referred the King?s demise in fitting terms. Another thing is that the
Myanmars accommodated the Siamese Queen and the King?s daughters,
younger sister and grand-daughters in a house at the palace in a fitting
way. They also accommodated the King?s younger brothers, sons and
grand-sons outside the palace compound and provided them with adequate
amount of supplies. The Myanmars also kept the court officers in the
During the feudal eras, prisoners of war were enslaved or sold as
slaves. It is said that when Myanmar and Siam fought battles during the
reign of King Pintale, Myanmars were taken as prisoners and sold as
slaves. On the other hand, though Myanmars took the royal families as
prisoners, they treated them with respect.
Concerning Ayutthaya, I would like to say that as Myanmars were not
cruel to the dead King and the defeated enemy, instead treated them with
respect, it is impossible that Myanmars were ruthless as accused by the
Author : Dr Ma Tin Win ( Institute of Education)
Images Asia: Letter to Calgary Herald--Quotation error in article on
Attention: Editor, The Calgary Herald
cc.: Rory Mungoven, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
Editor, The BurmaNet News
I was extremely interested to read your June 13th article on the
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers' report about the use of
child soldiers in various countries, and its specific reference to the
horrific abuses committed against children as combatants in Myanmar,
also known as Burma. The issue is one that deserves much greater
international media attention than it currently receives, and I was
glad to see that a local Canadian paper such as the Herald gave it
I just wanted to correct a small mistake in the attribution of the
quotation used to "former child soldier Chitralekha Massey" (see copy of
article as it appeared in the list-serve BurmaNet, below). The quote is
actually from a Burmese child soldier whom we referred to as "Zaw Gyi"
(a pseudonym) in our 1997 report, "No Childhood at All: Child Soldiers
in Burma," where it appears on page 39. The report has been fairly
widely circulated to groups working on child conscription and related
human rights issues, including the Coalition, of which our organization
is a member. While perhaps not critical to the substance of the
article, since Chitralekha Massey is not a Burmese name, and the
immediately preceding sentence refers to African countries, the
confusion in the reference conceals the fact this teenager was speaking
of his experience in Burma. The Burmese government is notorious for
its forcible conscription of youths into its armed forces, thought to
number over 400,000.
I think this mistake probably originates with the wire service, in the
misreading of a press release, but just thought I should point it out.
Again, thank you for your coverage of the issue of child soldiers in
Burma and elsewhere, and keep up the good work.
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