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BurmaNet News: July 4, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
           July 4, 2001   Issue # 1836
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

NOTED IN PASSING:  "We know that government officials have been going 
round to money-lenders in the capital trying to buy up dollars, so we 
suspect that they only have a few months of hard currency reserves 

A diplomat in Rangoon quoted in The Irish Times:  Prices soar as Burma 
faces financial collapse 

*Shan Herald Agency for News:  Shan headmen being nabbed in connection 
with Shan rebels
*Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Progress in Burmese reconciliation 

MONEY _______
*The Irish Times:  Prices soar as Burma faces financial collapse 
*Financial Times (London): Premier Oil receives Dollars 19m Thai gas 

*Korea Times: North Korea, Myanmar Explore Military Cooperation
*Bangkok Post: Military Reshuffle--Surayud Ready for Career Boost; 
Chavalit Tipped to Offload Burma Role 

*Sydney Morning Herald: Thais reel under flood of drugs from Burma 

*San Francisco Chronicle: A cruel welcome in Thailand 
*Inter Press Service: Ex-prisoners Keep Watch over Those Still Detained 
*China Post: Burmese Students among Four Women Killed in Fire
*The Washington Times: Battling oppression of Christians; Group's relief 
workers rescue slaves and give aid to persecuted people

*Channel NewsAsia (Singapore): Myanmar says isolation makes fight 
against drugs more difficult 

*The Independent (London): Book Review-- Stone of Heaven--Myanmar - 
Where a Miner's Life Really Is the Pits
*People's Daily (China): Myanmar Beats China 2-1 in Women's Sepak Takraw 

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Shan Herald Agency for News:  Shan headmen being nabbed in connection 
with Shan rebels

July 3, 2001

Since fighting died down in May between Burmese-Wa forces and Shan State 
 Army, Shan headmen along the Shan State-Thai border were being summoned 
and  interrogated by local Burmese authorities.

According to the report received on 30 June, Hpawka, headman of 
Mongharng  Village, Mongton Township (60 miles north of Chiangmai 
border) was arrested  on 17 June by Captain Han Sein, Commander, Company 
1, IB 65. He was charged  with collaboration with the Shan army led by 
Yawdserk and taken to the  battalion command post.

On 21 June, he was temporarily released to treat his injuries incurred  
during the interrogation but taken back into custody five days later. 
"He  wasn't heard since," said the local sources.

On 27 June, Captain Mya Maung, Commander, Company3, IB 225 of Mongton 
came  to arrest Tawya, secretary to the headman of Hwe-aw, 20 miles 
north of the  Thai border on the same charge. "But, luckily, Tawya 
wasn't at home and  they went back empty-handed," said the source from 
Hwe-aw. "He has not been  seen in Hwe-aw ever since then."

The same company also summoned Headman Teng of Poongpakhem, 10 miles  
further south, on the same day to be interrogated. He was later released 
 without harm.

"As for Headman Nyein, who was arrested on 28 May, nothing has been 
heard  about his fate," said a source from Nakawngmu, 30 miles north of 
the  Chiangmai border. "Authorities have also forbidden each and 
everyone from  asking anything about him. Anyone who dares to do so is 
threatened with  execution."

Shan rebels claimed to have captured nearly 200,000 pills of  
methamphetamines at the Burmese post of Pakhee, opposite Fang District 
of  Chiangmai, where fighting lasted from 22 April to 3 May.

The bridge near Mongharng was blown out by the SSA during the battle. 
Mongharng was the village where King Naresuan the Great (1555-1605) died 
 while marching to assist the embattled Khamkai Noi, Prince of Hsenwi. 
His  unexpected death cost the Shans their independence.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Progress in Burmese reconciliation 

July 03, 2001.

Geoff Thompson - Bangkok 

Historic talks between Burma's military rulers and democracy leader Aung 
San Suu Kyi are showing new signs of progress, with the release of more 
political prisoners. 
After western diplomats decribed the dialogue as stalled, real hope has 
returned with the release from prison after five years of Aung San Suu 
Kyi's cousin and close aid U Aye Win. The 61 year old was reunited with 
his family and has been descibed as looking well even a bit stouter than 
before his imprisonment.Recent weeks have seen Burmese military junta 
release dozens of members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for 
Democracy who were voted into office in 1990's disallowed elections.Nine 
members were released just last week. The failure of the junta to 
release NLD members has been criticised for hindering the progress of 
secret talks which began last October. It's believed that Aung San Kyi 
set the release of political prisoners and the reopening of NLD offices 
as pre-conditions to the talks continuing.


The Irish Times:  Prices soar as Burma faces financial collapse 

July 2, 2001 

With inflation at 20 per cent and rising rapidly, many Burmese can no 
longer pay for basic necessities, reports Nicole Veash from Rangoon 

Burma is facing its biggest economic crisis of recent years and has just 
two months foreign currency reserves left, local diplomats say. With 
inflation running at 20 per cent and rising sharply, the cost of many 
consumer goods is spiralling out of control. 

Diplomats based in Rangoon say that recent fighting on the Thai-Burmese 
border, which hit exports badly, proved to be the catalyst for the 
financial freefall. 

"We know that government officials have been going round to 
money-lenders in the capital trying to buy up dollars, so we suspect 
that they only have a few months of hard currency reserves left," said 

In the past few weeks, the value of the Burmese currency has halved to 
around 800 kyat to the dollar. In some shops, labels have been removed 
from goods because prices are changing so rapidly. 

In the past month there have even been whisperings of discontent from 
Burmese, who know that any form of dissent can lead to years of 

Mr Mo Chu (33), a bus driver, says that even basic necessities are now 
beyond his reach. 

"Everything has doubled in price since April," he said. "A sack of rice, 
a cup of tea, even clothes - it's all so expensive." 

One month ago, a sack of rice cost 2,400 kyat. This month the same rice 
was selling in Rangoon for 4,000 kyat; while a cup of tea went up from 
35 to 70 kyat in the same period. Bus fares and taxi prices have 
similarly increased. 

The price of petrol on the black market has seen a 300 per cent rise. 

Meanwhile, the country's ruling junta is thought to be propping up the 
economy by printing more money, a move that could further fuel inflation 
and add to Burma's economic difficulties. 

Despite the economic problems Burma's second city of Mandalay and much 
of northern Burma is proving to be a magnet to entrepreneurial Chinese 
businessmen from across the border. 

Happy to exploit the moribund Burmese market, which many Western 
companies have boycotted in protest at the unelected regime, they are 
providing cheaply made goods to a product-starved nation. In the city's 
Zeigyo market, the stalls are packed high with Chinese goods. 

Prof Wiorasakdi Mahatdhanopol, from Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, 
observed: "Despite Burma's economic problems, the Chinese know that the 
country is a huge market for their products. 

"The Burmese people are poor and they can't afford to buy the materials 
needed to manufacture their own products or pay for things from 
neighbouring countries like Thailand. 

"By selling their goods inside Burma at very low prices," Prof 
Mahatdhanopol said, "the Chinese are cleverly positioning themselves as 
the dominant force in their neighbour's economy." 


Financial Times (London): Premier Oil receives Dollars 19m Thai gas 

July 3, 2001,  By DAVID BUCHAN 

Premier Oil announced yesterday it had received Dollars 19.3m (Pounds 
13.7m) from PTT of Thailand for gas the Thai utility has contracted to 
buy but does not need. 

The payment for Burmese gas, made under a contract that obliges PTT to 
pay for a set amount of gas from Premier whether or not it uses the 
fuel, will ease analysts' concerns about the UK independent's dependence 
on ambitious Asian gas contracts. 

Such contracts are essential for a smooth revenue flow, particularly in 
the case of a relatively small company such as Premier running a big 
operation such as the Dollars 650m Yetagun gas field off Burma. But 
there is often a note of doubt whether a small company has the clout to 
get them enforced. 



Korea Times: North Korea, Myanmar Explore Military Cooperation

July 4, 2001, Wednesday 

North Korea and Myanmar are strengthening bilateral military cooperation 
through exchange visits by foreign affairs and defense officials. 

 A South Korean government official said yesterday that a high-level 
North Korean delegation visited Myanmar's capital of Yangon on June 

The Pyongyang delegation, led by Vice Foreign Minister Park Kil-yon, met 
Myanmar's Deputy Defense Minister Khin Maung Win and discussed 
cooperation in the defense industry. 

In November last year, a delegation of the Yangon government made a 
secret visit to the North and had talks with high-ranking officials of 
North Korea's People's Armed Forces Ministry, the official said. 

Another Seoul government official said North Korea and Myanmar appear to 
be seeking conventional arms sales and technology transfers rather than 
high-tech weapons sales. 

According to reports by Jane's Defense Weekly, a Britain-based defense 
magazine, North Korea sold Myanmar about 20 howitzers with a range of 27 
kilometers in 1998. 

Meanwhile, officials said that in the two rounds of talks, Pyongyang and 
Yangon did not discuss the reopening of official ties severed after 
North Korea's 1983 terrorist bombing of a South Korean delegation in 


Bangkok Post: Military Reshuffle--surayud Ready for Career Boost; 
Chavalit Tipped to Offload Burma Role 

July 2, 2001 

[BurmaNet adds--Moving Surayud to the position of Supreme Commander 
would be an effective demotion.  On paper, the Supreme Commander 
outranks the Army chief but in practice, the Army chief has real troops 
under his command and the Supreme Commander does not.  It is 
traditionally a slot filled by people too powerful to sack but who are 
out of favor with the Defence Minister who makes the appointment--in 
this case Chavalit.  A case in point--the last time the positions were 
to be filled, Chavalit angled to have is protege Sampao installed as 
Army chief.  Instead, Sampao was sidelines as  Supreme Commander, while 
Prime Minister (and Defence Minister) Chuan Leekpai gave the Army 
chief?s job to Surayud.]

Army chief Surayud Chulanont is ready to take up the post of supreme 
commander, saying it is a step forward in his military career. 

He admitted yesterday he knew Supreme Commander Sampao Chusri would 
nominate him for the post, but said he had not discussed the matter with 
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. 

Gen Surayud declined to reveal who he would pick as his successor. 

But he had talked the matter over with army unit commanders and would 
submit the army's reshuffle list to the supreme commander by the end of 
the month. 

His criteria for selection would be their capability, experience and 

Sources confirmed Gen Sampao, who retires in September, was certain to 
pick Gen Surayud, who retires in 2003, for the top job at the Supreme 
Command. Gen Surapol Chinachit, deputy armed forces chief-of-staff, 
would step up to become the new chief-of-staff, replacing Gen Sommai 

There were three candidates in the running to replace Gen Tawat 
Ket-angkoon as defence permanent secretary Adm Preecha Puangsuwan, the 
deputy permanent secretary who retires next year, Gen Samphan 
Boonyanant, who retires in 2003, and Gen Thamnoon Kulpradit, who retires 
next year, the sources said. 

Gen Tawee Somraikhing, director of the Office of Defence Policy and 
Planning, who retires this year, was likely to be replaced by Lt-Gen 
Uthai Shinawatra, the deputy director and elder brother of Prime 
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. 

Sources said there were only two serious challengers in the running for 
the army chief's post Gen Niphon Parunnit, assistant army chief, and Gen 
Boonrawd Somthas, army chief-of-staff. Both are due to retire next year, 
but Gen Niphon is the more senior officer. 

Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuanwong, Third Army commander, was a strong 
candidate for the post of assistant army chief. The other candidate was 
Gen Wichit Yathip, a chief-of-staff officer and adviser to the defence 

But since Gen Chavalit was not happy with his role in handling the 
border conflict with Burma, Lt-Gen Watanachai might instead be made 
deputy armed forces chief-of-staff. 

At the navy, although Adm Prasert Boonsong is not due to retire until 
next year he might still be replaced by Adm Narong Yuthawong, the deputy 
supreme commander, who is said to be close to Gen Chavalit. 

At the air force, ACM Pong Maneesilp was expected to remain as air force 
chief until his retirement next year, the sources said. 


Sydney Morning Herald: Thais reel under flood of drugs from Burma 

July 3, 2001

By Alex Spillius in Doi Kew Hung 

Scan even the most detailed map of the Thai-Burmese border and you will 
be lucky to find Mong Yawn. There is certainly no hint of a bustling 
community with its own army and barracks, a school, a hospital, a casino 
and a hydro-electric power plant.

Yet the town is one of the Golden Triangle's biggest success stories. 
The reasons are clearly visible to the Thai soldiers peering through 
high-powered binoculars across the border into what is nominally Burma.

Clearly visible in the valley ringed by craggy mountains are a pair of 
large, shed-like buildings where, the Thais claim, up to 300,000 pills 
are manufactured every day.

Consisting chiefly of caffeine and the common cold cure ephedrine, the 
pills are sent across the border into Thailand's Chiang Mai province, 
carried by ant armies of smugglers along hundreds of forest trails.

Burmese officials claim that the buildings are rice warehouses. If so, 
it must be a particularly expensive strain of rice. Until recently 
little more than a simple bamboo settlement, like the surrounding 
villages that it now dwarfs, Mong Yawn now has a population of some 
60,000 and is expected to grow to 80,000 within two years.

International experts estimate that a billion pills will leave Mong Yawn 
and about 30 other factories in Burma this year. Two-thirds of them will 
be consumed in Thailand, which is fast becoming a nation on "speed".

Mong Yawn is controlled by an obscure guerilla force, the United Wa 
State Army (UWSA), a segment of the small but ferocious Wa tribe that 
gave up headhunting only a generation ago.

They were never mastered by British colonialists or the military regimes 
of independent Burma. Now the Thais are finding them hard to defeat in a 
war against the drug methamphetamine.

A Bangkok-based expert describes the UWSA's operation as a "country 
within a country" and the Wa as the new kings of the Golden Triangle, 
the mountainous region where Thailand, Laos and Burma converge and 
central authority has never had a grip.

For Thailand, the effects are horrendous. The press is full of stories 
of unemployed men wild on crazy medicine, as methamphetamine is known, 
committing serious acts of violence.

Schools have introduced urine testing to combat rampant abuse, while one 
in 10 novice monks have sought help for addiction.

The Thai army has beefed up border patrols, seizing 18million pills this 
year and provoking fierce clashes with the UWSA and regular Burmese 
forces, who have pledged to defend the guerillas against Thai 

Last month, the Thai and Burmese leaders agreed jointly to fight drug 
production and to resolve border tension. But there is much patching up 
to do. The two sides have engaged in months of mutual recrimination, 
with senior officers on both sides accusing the other of profiting from 

The Thais have accused Rangoon of turning a blind eye to the UWSA's 
activities as a reward for ending their guerilla war 12 years ago.

But Wei Hseuh-kang, the mastermind of the UWSA, travels freely between 
Thailand and Burma, is a citizen of both and is able to exploit corrupt 
officialdom on either side.

Whenever he leaves Mong Yawn, he knows an army of 20,000, equipped with 
automatic weapons, artillery and heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles 
will protect his interests.

The Telegraph, London


___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

San Francisco Chronicle: A cruel welcome in Thailand 

Burmese refugees fleeing poverty and war endure brutal treatment in 
neighboring nation

Sara Lazarovich, Chronicle Foreign Service    Tuesday, July 3, 2001 

Mae Sot, Thailand -- T
his story is one in a series on Pacific Rim issues and culture that 
appears every Tuesday in The Chronicle World section. 

Thousands of Burmese migrants who have fled poverty, war and forced 
labor are subject to cruel punishment by Thai officials, who are rarely 
charged with any crime, human rights workers say. 
"They are fair game, treated worse than animals," said Ko Thet Hmu, a 
member of a migrant workers' support group called the Yaung-Chi-OO 

Take Ma Se, one of many young women who came to Thailand to avoid forced 
labor demanded by Burma's repressive military government. 

"We were forced to work for months on road building," recalled the 
18-year- old refugee, who insisted on using a pseudonym. "My mother and 
father told me to escape over the border (to Thailand)." 

Shortly after arriving in this bustling border town last year, Ma Se was 
thrown into a police car after she failed to produce identification 
papers. She said she was driven to a deserted field outside town and 
raped by a police officer before she managed to escape. 

"No legal action will be taken, even though there were at least two 
witnesses to Ma Se's abduction," said Ko Thet Hmu. 

In recent months, undocumented workers have also been systematically 
ill- treated before deportation, according to Amnesty International. 
When caught, they are typically placed in cage-like trucks and carted 
off to detention centers, where they are beaten, shackled continuously 
for months at a time, held in solitary confinement for extended periods 
or held in extremely crowded conditions. Immigration police Col. 
Rutchata Sibasai says the government aims to return 300,000 illegal 
immigrants to their countries by September. 

Previously, foreign workers were tolerated because they provided 
low-wage labor, but after the economy took a sharp downturn in 1997, 
they have been regarded as a burden. 

The number of Burmese refugees is difficult to assess because the number 
rises and decreases according to military strikes by Burmese soldiers 
against rebel groups along the border and periodic crackdowns by Thai 
immigration officials. Most refugees are from the Karen, Kareeni and 
Shan ethnic minorities who are fighting the Rangoon government. 

The lucky ones find protection in camps under the auspices of the U.N. 
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some estimates say there are 1 
million illegal immigrants in Thailand from poorer neighboring countries 
such as Burma and Laos. In Mae Sot, there are an estimated 60,000 in a 
town of 28,000 permanent inhabitants with factories that use cheap 
migrant labor to churn out consumer products for the export market. 

The Burmese are fleeing one of the region's most repressive regimes; 
Burma has an annual per capita income of about $400 and an average life 
span of just 55 years. 

Last year, the International Labor Organization voted to urge 
governments and international donors to impose sanctions on Burma for 
its policy of forced labor. In 1997, the Clinton administration banned 
new American investments there. 

Burmese migrants -- including legitimate asylum seekers under 
international law -- have few legal options once they arrive in 
Thailand, because there is no law to determine whether a refugee has a 
well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, 
nationality, political beliefs or membership in a particular social 
group, the usual basis for establishing such status. 

Human rights activists say abuses against Burmese refugees stem partly 
from the failure of the Thai government to ratify the 1951 U.N. 
Convention on the Status of Refugees, the treaty that legally protects 

The result is a lawless limbo that leaves many illegals prey to police 
and immigration authorities, employers and criminal gangs. And while 
Burmese men are victims of robbery and murder, women appear to be the 
main target. 

"We must always be careful where we go," said Ma Se, who now works at a 
rubber-gloves factory, earning $1.50 a day for an 8-hour shift, less 
than half the nation's minimum wage. "I usually stay near the factory 
where I work because it is safer." 

Ko Thet Hmu says that in Mae Sot, there are an average of two reported 
rapes a month of Burmese women. 

And in a report released last year by the Women's Commission for Refugee 
Women and Children, a nongovernmental organization in New York, Dr. 
Cynthia Maung, a prominent physician who runs a border health clinic, 
told the commission that the bodies of Burmese women are often found 
burned and abandoned on local farms or roads. Maung said, "Rapes and 
murders of Burmese women occur here regularly." 

In a telephone interview, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
in Bangkok, who refused to give her name, said her ministry saw no need 
to investigate such accusations "since we have not received any 
evidence. We have only unclear allegations." 

Human Rights Watch in New York has criticized the UNHCR for not taking a 
stronger stance. While acknowledging the United Nations' need to 
maintain cordial relations with Thai authorities, the group claims the 
UNHCR "has been unnecessarily weak in its efforts to challenge Thai 
policies that undermine refugee protection." 

Moreover, the latest U.S. State Department human rights report on 
Thailand criticized the fact that "there is no legislation regarding the 
treatment of refugees." The annual report to Congress also indicated 
that even though the Thai government has investigated extrajudicial 
killings, it has prosecuted few police or military officers accused of 
such crimes. 

"Most cases were eventually dismissed because regulations outlined in 
the Criminal Code required public prosecutors to rely exclusively on 
recommendations of police when determining whether to bring a case for 
criminal prosecution," the report said. "Police investigators routinely 
determined that police took no wrongful action." 

Lt. Col. Sorrapol, former head of immigration in Mae Sot, reflected such 
thinking in discussing the widely known beating of a 15-year-old Burmese 
girl last year at a detention center then under his jurisdiction. 

"The men in my department wouldn't do such a thing. It must have been 
another agency," he said in a recent interview. "Bring the girl to me 
and then perhaps we can investigate." 

However, a witness to the beating who asked not to be named said he 
feared identifying the assailant. Activists say many witnesses return to 
Burma in fear for their lives. 

Activists say the situation for Burmese migrants will not improve until 
there is a policy change in Rangoon. 

Human Rights Watch says that even though Burmese officials issued a 
decree last year abolishing forced labor, they have violated their own 
ban by continuing to allow local leaders to requisition village labor to 
"build roads, 

dams, maintain military bases, construct temples, guard villages and 
porter for military patrols." 

"Villagers receive no pay, must supply their own food and have been 
threatened with imprisonment should they refuse to participate," said a 
Human Rights Watch report. 


Inter Press Service: Ex-prisoners Keep Watch over Those Still Detained 

July 2, 2001, Monday 

By Satya Sivaraman 

MAE SOT, Thailand, Jul. 2 

In this highly-selective club, the minimum qualification for membership 
is at least a few years spent in one of Burma's numerous and notorious 

Welcome to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a 
lobby group set up by former Burmese political prisoners in exile to 
campaign for the release of those still in jail and to find financial 
support for their families inside Burma. 

Since its inception in 1999, the group has emerged as a consistent voice 
on behalf of the country's jailed dissidents and a constant reminder to 
the rest of the world about their plight under the military regime. 

"We do not admit even seasoned pro-democracy activists fighting the 
military regime in Burma -- if they have not spent some time in a 
Burmese jail," says a proud Bo Kyi, the softspoken chairman of the AAPP 
who spent eight years in jail. 

A former student activist, his crime, like that of all other AAPP 
members, was to demand the restoration of democracy in Burma. 

Since the pro-democracy uprising in 1988, hundreds of student and other 
activists have been imprisoned by the military junta in Rangoon for 
treason, subversion and other charges. 

According to the AAPP, there are now more than 2,500 political prisoners 
inside Burma. The human rights group Amnesty International sets the 
figure at around 1,700. 

>From its office in the western Thai town of Mae Sot bordering Burma, the 
AAPP monitors the situation of political prisoners and tries to create 
public awareness about their condition. 

The organization also collects funds from supporters worldwide to be 
channeled to families of political prisoners, who use this for both 
their own sustenance as well as for regular visits to their kin in jail. 

"The AAPP is the first step toward creating an independent Burmese human 
rights body and I think they have a strong vision to work on the 
transition to justice in future Burma," says Min Zin, a Burmese 
journalist based in Thailand. 

In its brief couple of years of existence, the AAPP has run several 
international campaigns for the release of political prisoners, most 
notably on behalf of well-known student leader Min Ko Naing who has been 
in prison since 1989. 

Serving a 20-year sentence, Min Ko Naing has been held for long periods 
in solitary confinement and is currently reported to be in poor health. 

"The idea of setting up an organization of former Burmese political 
prisoners was born not just because of the growing numbers of prisoners 
under the repressive military government but also in recognition of 
their special needs," says Bo Kyi. 

Often imprisoned without trial, physically tortured and psychologically 
tormented, Burma's political prisoners need concerted efforts both to 
secure their release as well as rehabilitation once they come out of 
prison, he explains. 

"It was the combination of physical torture, the systematic attack on my 
emotions, thoughts and the lack of information about anything outside 
the prison that was unbearable," recalls Ko Myo, a 26-year-old former 
student activist who now lives in exile. 

He spent six years in prison, out of which nearly three were in solitary 

Human rights activists and former detainees say physical torture is 
rampant in Burmese prisons and is the first line of attack pursued by 
authorities when they try to extract information from prisoners or break 
their morale, and intimidate them into abandoning their political goals. 

"When the activists or suspected persons arrive at an interrogation 
center, they are treated very brutally and they have no choice except to 
confess what they know," says an AAPP document on the status of 
prisoners in Burma. 

It says new prisoners are kept in the interrogation center for one to 
three weeks, during which there is non-stop interrogation by rotating 
teams of military intelligence personnel. Most are not allowed to sleep 
and usually not fed or given any water, the paper adds. 

On a routine basis, critics say, the methods of abuse and torture 
include electrocution, sleep denial, forcing people to stand or squat in 
uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, rolling iron or wood 
rods along a person's shins, pouring water over a person's head covered 
in plastic and forcing them to kneel on sharp stones or pieces of glass. 

Some women also suffer from sexual abuse, such as having some or all of 
their clothes removed during interrogation. 

According to the AAPP's estimates, at least 43 political prisoners are 
known to have died in custody since the military's suppression of the 
democracy movement in 1988, although the true number could be much 

"One of the most frightening aspects of being a prisoner is that Burmese 
prisons have become distributing centers of communicable diseases, such 
as AIDS, because one needle is used on many political prisoners when 
they feel sick or are vaccinated," adds Bo Kyi. 

According to him, many of the deaths in custody have been also because 
there is not enough medicine, doctors or timely treatment and the 
prisoners' health deteriorates as a result of torture, improper food and 
inappropriate accommodation. 

In 1997, the Burmese regime, under pressure from various international 
human rights groups as well as its own need to improve its global image, 
announced a program to improve prison conditions. But the improvements, 
the AAPP says, have been too minor to make any difference. 

Since May 1999 for example, the International Committee of the Red Cross 
has been allowed to visit prisons inside Burma. 

But AAPP activists point out that the prisons are usually "well prepared 
and spruced up" prior to such visits, making the entire exercise a 
public relations stunt. 

Some prisoners, like Tun Zaw Zaw, an opposition youth leader arrested in 
June 1998 who lost his vision while in prison, have been given an early 
release. But hundreds of others who are critically ill continue to 
languish in Burmese jails. 

The AAPP is also skeptical about the release of several dozen political 
prisoners, mostly belonging to the opposition National League for 
Democracy (NLD), since January this year. It points out that much more 
needs to be done urgently. 

The release of prisoners, including many NLD members of parliament who 
won in the 1990 elections that the junta refuses to recognize, follows 
months of dialogue between the regime and opposition leader Aung San Suu 
Kyi for the normalization of political activity in the country. 

"The release of these activists has been possible only because the 
regime wants to continue its political dialogue with the NLD. But we 
will welcome such moves only when the authorities release hundreds of 
political prisoners every month," said an AAPP statement on the recent 
developments inside Burma. 

A fundamental change in the condition of Burmese political prisoners 
will come only when there is a democratic government that respects human 
rights and values and solves political problems in the right way, the 
group maintains. 


China Post: Burmese Students among Four Women Killed in Fire 

July 3, 2001

Hsinchu police said two of the four women killed in yesterday's predawn 
fire at a rental house on the city's Chunghua Road were international 
students from Burma. Local fire department received the call for help at 
around 4:20 a.m. and immediately dispatched 11 fire trucks along with 
some 100 volunteer firemen to arrive on the scene to put out the house 

However, as rescuers got to the site, they soon discovered that the 
street where the burning building was located was too narrow for the 
reach of some fire engines. Pressed for time, firemen were forced to 
rely on less efficient fire-fighting devices to extinguish the fire. 

And when rescuers finally managed to keep the blaze under control, they 
then discovered four badly burned bodies, all female, on the second and 
third floors of the house. Upon investigation, authorities learned that 
the two Burmese students killed in the fire were students at Minghsin 
Institute of Technology in the area. 

Other than the two international students, one of the other two women 
perished in the predawn blaze was the wife of Hsu Chung-chen, the man 
who leased the rental house from its owner. Authorities said aside from 
Hsu's wife, the three women found dead in the tragic incident were all 
tenants who subleased rooms in the house from Hsu, said investigators. 

Meanwhile, upon an initial survey of the scene, fire fighters said the 
blaze first broke out on the three-story house's first floor, where Hsu 
and his late wife used to run a vegetarian restaurant. Investigators 
also pointed out that the reason the occupants died was because all 
exits that could have been used as fire escapes were all installed with 
anti-theft iron bars. 


The Washington Times: Battling oppression of Christians; Group's relief 
workers rescue slaves and give aid to persecuted people

July 03, 2001

Emily Rahe

FRONT ROYAL, Va. - It's only a small, unimposing two-story wooden house 
on a quiet street in a sleepy northwestern Virginia town, but from this 
quiet base, members of Christian Freedom International strategize how to 
sneak doctors into Burma, supplies to oppressed Christians in Indonesia 
and slaves out of Sudan. 

Braving perils from shootings to land mines, contagious diseases and 
arrest, CFI's relief workers conduct missions in territory more 
befitting paramilitary groups than nonprofit organizations. 

"It's not the sort of thing for the faint of heart. It's not a picnic," 
said Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who has 
accompanied CFI on trips to Burma and Indonesia. "You can't come away 
without a sense just of hideous tragedy." 

The human rights advocacy group helps persecuted Christians in oppressed 
areas and war zones. CFI began in 1983 as the U.S. branch of the 
Christian Solidarity International group based in Switzerland. It broke 
away in 1995, and since 1998 has been functioning under its current 

Its small staff and modest accommodations help the group maintain a low 
overhead. Funded by private donations and small foundation grants, the 
organization directed 84 percent of its $653,000 budget towards its 
programs in 2000. 

One ethnic group to which they devote significant resources, the Karen 
in Burma, has been persecuted by that country's military since the end 
of Word War II. 

"The military junta of Burma is one of the most repressive regimes in 
the world," CFI President Jim Jacobson says. "I believe the ongoing, 
systematic oppression in Burma, especially in the minority areas, is one 
of the most underreported stories of our time." 

Some 300,000 ethnic Karen, many of them sick and malnourished, hide in 
remote villages or flee to refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border. CFI 
has developed two relief programs for them, "freedom hospitals" and 
"backpack medics." 

The "freedom hospitals" program constructs mobile clinics and staffs 
them with ethnic Karen medics. Six hospitals currently exist, each 
staffed with 12 medics. They are simple structures consisting of a few 
rooms enclosed by bamboo planks and leafy roofs. Each "freedom hospital" 
costs $7,740 per month to supply, staff and maintain. 

In the past three years, at least five CFI field hospitals have been 
attacked and burned to the ground by Burmese militia. 

The "backpack medic" program sends ethnic Karen trekking into Burma with 
a sack of medicine and Bibles to supply the hospitals and assist people 
in isolated areas. 

CFI has also established five "jungle schools" staffed with Karen 
teachers. Development director Vickie Koth says these informal academies 
help Karen children, who usually spend their lives either bored or on 
the run, to get an education. 

"These people, given that they've been oppressed and persecuted for so 
long, statistically speaking, could be wiped out in 10 years," she says. 
"The hope being that by providing medicine and an education for these 
people, they can stand strong and not die out." 

For those who manage to flee the jungles, CFI gives aid at refugee 

The group has also established Karen orphanages, a self-help program, 
and a child-sponsorship program. 

"Our goal is to come alongside indigenous communities and try to make 
them self-sufficient and free from persecution," Mr. Jacobson says. 

To create jobs for refugees, CFI purchases hand-crafted Karen products 
and sells them in the United States. Free-lance writer Sam Dealey, who 
has accompanied CFI on four trips to Burma and Indonesia in the past two 
years, said he can see progress as a result of CFI's efforts. 

"You can see the schools and the clinics and the good that's doing in 
the community, but you also see that the Karen are losing the war and 
being run out of base camps," he says. 

CFI will host a "Christian Freedom Conference 2001" at the Washington 
Court Hotel Sept.13-14 in the District to educate the public and 
government about religious persecution. 

"Jim Jacobson 's whole plan is that these places are such hellholes that 
he wants to bring awareness to the West and the world at large," Mr. 
Dealey says. "You've snuck into a totalitarian state in an active hot 
zone and you're hearing land mines going off and shots in the distance. 
It's not a cakewalk." 

Needless to say, hostile regimes are not receptive to CFI's work. 

"Most relief groups operate where they have permission," Mr. Jacobson 
says. "But we have found that regimes that are trying to wipe out their 
own people never offer invitation to bring relief to their victims." 

CFI also sponsors an Indonesian project, where it distributes hammers, 
saws, fishnets, chisels and other necessities. It encourages business 
development in areas around Ambon in the Moluccas, also known as the 
Spice Islands. These have been devastated by a religious war that began 
in January 1999. 

CFI also has an "underground railroad" operating in Sudan for runaway 
slaves. Locating needy persons through familial contacts in the United 
States, CFI completes paperwork, secures train tickets to Cairo, and 
takes care of the asylum seekers once they arrive in Egypt. 

"We have worked hard to move legitimate cases of slavery and persecution 
from bondage to freedom, without providing financial incentives for the 
abduction of others," Mr. Jacobson says. "CFI does not support slave 
buybacks in Sudan or any other place." 

Its former parent organization, Christian Solidarity International, does 
favor the redemption of slaves. The differing philosophies over whether 
to offer money for slaves to Arab slave traders is what led to the split 
between CFI and CSI. 

"CFI goes into the worst places in the world to help the people the 
civilized world has forgotten," says one journalist who accompanied CFI 
on several trips to Southeast Asia and East Africa. "The hospitals they 
build are burned, but they keep building. The medics that they train are 
sometimes captured and killed, but they refuse to give up and that's 
what makes CFI unique." 



Channel NewsAsia (Singapore): Myanmar says isolation makes fight against 
drugs more difficult 

July 2, 2001 Monday 

Myanmar says no country can solve the region's drug menace on its own 
with isolation and sanctions making matters worse for poorer ASEAN 

Opening Yangon's first ever Drug Museum, Secretary of the State Peace 
and Development Council, LTG Khin Nyunt also noted that problems cannot 
be solved by finger pointing and making unfounded allegations. 

He was referring to recent charges by Thai authorities that Myanmar 
troops were assisting drug lords in smuggling drugs across their common 

It was a colourful affair in Myanmar's capital as senior military and 
government officials witnessed the opening of the US$1.8 million drug 
elimination museum. 

The museum, say officials, is to educate people on the adverse 
consequences of the drug trade. 

But more importantly it is to show the world that Myanmar is taking the 
drug war seriously and making sincere attempts to eradicate drugs 
despite border problems with its neighbours. 

"The drug problem in Myanmar is a very complex and delicate issue since 
it is linked not only to the political, social and economic aspects of 
the nation but also involves the national races in border areas who lag 
behind in development." said the general. 

"So the problem must be tackled with patience and understanding and will 
necessitate a certain amount of time," added LTG Khin Nyunt. 

The history of Myanmar's drug eradication is displayed via dioramas and 
wax models. 

They show the government's success in achieving peace with 16 ethnic 
armed groups and the crop substitution measures in places like the 
northern Shan state to prevent villagers from going back to Opium or 
Amphetamine manufacture. 

Critics are charging that the government is not doing enough to remove 
drug traffickers and their factories located in Myanmar. 

But officials say its 15-year plan to remove all drugs from Myanmar must 
be given a chance to work. 

"The people who are directly involved in addressing the drug problem are 
very serious especially not only our neighbouring countries but all the 
countries in the world especially in ASEAN," said Colonel Kyaw Thien, 
Member, Myanmar Central Committee for Drug and Narcotics Control. 

"I have attended a lot of ASEAN senior officials drug meetings and I 
have seen them, met them and talked with them and I know they are quite 
serious," the colonel added. 

Also in pride of place at the museum is a large picture of Thai Prime 
Minister and Senior General Than Shwe at the signing of a drugs 
agreement, a clear sign that the two neighbours are back on talking 

Although the opening of the museum is aimed at showcasing Myanmar's 
fight against drugs, the main challenge say officials is in getting 
enough funds to fight rich druglords that operate on the countries 

Without adequate funding, the war against drugs is expected to continue 
for a long while more. 


The Independent (London): Book Review-- Stone of Heaven--Myanmar - Where 
a Miner's Life Really Is the Pits

July 2, 2001, Monday 

The Stone of Heaven: the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade by Adrian 
Levy and Cathy Scott-clark (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Pounds 20) 

Justin Wintle 

IN JULY 1998, an extraordinary article appeared in the magazine section 
of The Mail on Sunday. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark had somehow 
managed to penetrate Myanmar's most guarded site. In the heart of what 
used to be called Upper Burma, they had visited a complex of valleys 
where a prized strain of jade was mined for the mainly Chinese market. 
But the tale they told was scarcely one of simple extraction. At 
Hpakant, the callousness of the Rangoon regime was grotesquely manifest. 

>From all over Myanmar, workers had been dragooned into a sealed system 
of profit and death. In a sprawling shanty city wages were part-paid in 
heroin and the rest spent on prostitutes. Needles were scarce (a 
solitary and illegal doctor estimated the share-rate as 800: 1) and 
condoms disparaged. Among miners, a near-100 per cent HIV infection rate 
pertained. The few who escaped returned to their villages to spread the 

The whole show was not only sanctioned but organised by the generals. 
The army provided the heroin and licensed both shooting galleries and 
brothels. It also milked fat profits, either by mining the best seams 
itself, or taxing Chinese entrepreneurs. 

For serious Burma-watchers, all this was and wasn't a revelation. The 
authors' exposures tallied too well with data filtering out of Myanmar, 
and with the growing acceptance that a regime that claimed to be 
fighting narcotics was overseeing their manufacture. But what astonished 
and dismayed was the sheer scale. Hpakant's floating, dying population 
was around a million. 

How did Levy and Scott-Clark gain access? In The Stone of Heaven, they 
describe how, having been blacklisted as journalists, they forged fresh 
credentials as gem prospectors and returned through the front door. From 
there it was a matter of paying bribes: a scary ploy, given that no 
other Westerner had been allowed near Hpakant, but one that paid off. 
Accompanied by a bullying English-speaking corporal, they got to the 

This scoop is now expanded into the most damning chapters I have yet to 
read about Myanmar's criminal government. Greed, oppression, corruption 
and concealment are the only instincts of Rangoon's self-enriching 
militocracy. But the same chapters form only a quarter of the narrative, 
albeit the culminating quarter. The bulk is given over to the 
extraterritorial story of Burma's "imperial green jade", from the 18th 
century onwards. 

Presumably, the purpose is to treat the reader to the largest possible 
tapestry of first oriental, then Western, venality, as a way of showing 
why Hpakant exists. Levy and Scott-Clark take us on a whirlwind tour of 
recent Chinese history. Cixi the Dowager Empress, Barbara Hutton and 
Madame Chiang Kai-shek are just some of the ghouls who crowd their 
pages. But, as historians, their skills lag way behind their talents as 
investigative reporters. 

Mao Zedong was not a founder of the Chinese Communist Party, any more 
than foot -binding existed during the Han dynasty. Cixi mounted her 
"charm offensive" against Western diplomats after, not before, the Boxer 
rebellion of 1900. But if there are elementary errors, then so too do 
the broad brushstrokes fail, beginning with the Chinese emperor 
Qianlong's foreign policy. While he may indeed have been obsessed with 
Burmese jade, to infer that this was the overriding motive of his 
Burmese strategy is mistaken. Rather, he pursued a well-established 
programme of shoring up China's landward defences, and denying Ming 
loyalists space in which to operate. 

Levy and Scott-Clark's vision of the past is speculative and 
tendentious, as though the bare mention of jade were sufficient 
explanation. Conversely, sifting through forgotten archives in New 
Delhi, they do shed light on early British activities in Upper Burma, 
while their wicked sketches of contemporary dealers - Christie's and 
Sotheby's as well as less honoured names in Hong Kong and Taiwan - are 
polemically valid. Compared, however, to their unquestionably heroic 
exploits in Hpakant, the surround does less than justice to the stone. 


People's Daily (China): Myanmar Beats China 2-1 in Women's Sepak Takraw 

July 2, 2001

Myanmar Beat China 2-1 in their second women's sepak takraw friendly 
game at the National Indoor Stadium Sunday night in Yangon. 

The sepak takraw game is played in a best of three regus, with each regu 
contains three sets and the visiting Chinese team jumped to an early 
lead of 1-0 as they trounced the home side 15-7 and 15- 12 in the first 

Myanmar team tied it at 1-1 after they took the second regu 15- 4, 8-15 
and 6-1 and never looked back to win the deciding regu in 15-4 and 15-4. 

Sepak Takraw, a traditional sports in the south-east Asia, is a ball 
game played by two teams of three players each, with only their feet 
kicking, passing, setting, striking and blocking the sepak takraw and 
prevent it from falling on the ground. 

Each team has three players on the court which being divided into to 
halves by a net. The sport has many similarities like volleyball, 
badminton but players only are allowed to play with their feet. 

China beat the host side 2-1 in their first encounter at the National 
Indoor Stadium here Friday. 

It is the first time the Myanmar team, which has been preparing for the 
coming XXI Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, playing with a international 
game in the country during 10 years. 

The Myanmar team is aiming to get gold medal in the SEA Games slated on 
September 8 to 17 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

In December 1998, Myanmar women's sepak takraw team won the gold at the 
XIII Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand. 

The Chinese team is on a three-game tour with the host side and the 
third game will be on the same venue on next Tuesday. 


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