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BurmaNet News: August 9, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
August 9, 2001 Issue # 1861
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AP: Uprising anniversary hardly noted in Myanmar capital
*AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi's party cancels 1988 uprising commemoration
*Democratic Voice of Burma: Mandalay monk arrested over critical sermon
*Xinhua: 442,264 Motor Vehicles in Operation in Myanmar
*Chin Human Rights Organization: A Village?s Dream To Solve Drinking
Water Problems Ruined
*Daily Star (Bangladesh): Exhibition of Bangladeshi goods in Myanmar in
*AP: Thai defense minister claims satisfaction with military reshuffle
*BurmaNet: Thailand Keeps Burma hard-liner as army commander
*Far Eastern Economic Review: Jet-Fighter Training Needed in Burma
*Reuters: Bangladesh says 10 wounded by Myanmar firing
*AP: Thai police seize heroin, arrest five suspects
*AP: Thai officials say 1,600 Myanmar refugees to be repatriated
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AP: Uprising anniversary hardly noted in Myanmar capital
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A key political anniversary passed without
incident in the Myanmar capital Wednesday, with no public commemorations
of a 1988 popular uprising against military rule.
Markets, schools and universities were open as usual and many people
appeared unaware of the significance of the day.
On Aug. 8, 1988, a student-inspired national strike began that nearly
toppled three decades of military rule. It was during the nationwide
1988 protests that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was propelled into
the political limelight.
The so-called 8-8-88 uprising ended in bloodshed, and the military
afterward consolidated its power despite losing a general election in
1990 to Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy.
``I'm fully occupied with my lessons and have no time to think about
the 8-8-88 anniversary,'' said Maung Soe Naing, a final-year chemistry
student who said he is going to sit for his final exams next month.
'' I am more excited to know the winning number of the state-lottery
today than the anniversary,'' said Myint Oo, a taxi driver who said he
has bet fifty kyats (dlrs 0.07 at the free market rate of exchange) on a
the unofficial ``two-digit'' lottery.
NLD Party Secretary U Lwin told The Associated Press that the party had
no plan to commemorate the anniversary. Suu Kyi, who is under house
arrest, has said on past occasions that the NLD would not commemorate
the occasion, as it was a day when Myanmar's people had shed their
Public opposition to the military regime inside Myanmar, also known as
Burma, has withered over the past 13 years. Hundreds of dissidents were
jailed and many others fled the country.
Recently, hopes for political progress have been raised with the
beginning of closed-door talks between Suu Kyi and the government late
Security in the capital and around the NLD headquarters in Yangon on
Wednesday was at its normal level, with about a dozen plainclothes
police watching the party office from across the street as usual.
In northeastern Myanmar near the Thai border, jungle-based opposition
groups held a ceremony to mark the anniversary and honor the Buddhist
monks, civilians and students who died in the uprising for democracy.
The ceremony was attended by about 100 representatives of 12 opposition
AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi's party cancels 1988 uprising commemoration
YANGON, Aug 8 (AFP) - Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party Wednesday
cancelled plans to mark for the first time in several years the
anniversary of the bloody 1988 student uprising in Myanmar.
National League for Democracy (NLD) sources told AFP that arrangements
for a low-key commemoration of the protests, in which hundreds of
democracy demonstrators were gunned down, had been abandoned.
They did not give an explanation for the decision, but the NLD has been
careful in recent months not to provoke the military regime while it is
holding reconciliation talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since the dialogue began last October, dozens of elected MPs have been
released from detention, the party has been allowed to re-open some of
its branch offices and NLD members have been given more freedom of
Annual ceremonies to mark the bloody protests of August 8, 1988 petered
out during the late 1990s crackdown on the NLD, which came close to
collapse in the face of a brutal campaign of repression and arrests.
Hundreds of democracy demonstrators were shot dead in the 1988 Yangon
student uprising, paving the way for a junta to take power from longtime
military strongman Ne Win the following month.
Democratic Voice of Burma: Mandalay monk arrested over critical sermon
Text of report by DVB on 7 August
Democratic Voice of Burma has learned that regional military
intelligence personnel have arrested a monk for delivering a sermon
criticizing the prevailing economic and political situations at an
umbrella raising religious ceremony held at the Mahamyatmunni Payagyi
Pagoda in Mandalay on 1 August.
The monk, Ashin Pandita, climbed on the pagoda's scaffolding and
delivered a sermon to the monks and guests attending the ceremony.
Immediately, the nearby military intelligence personnel took the monk
away towards the gate, defrocked him, and detained him at No 10 Police
Station. The authorities are planning to take action against the monk
for inciting unrest.
Although Ashin Pandita is believed to be a resident of a monastery near
the Mandalay Technological University his details are not known. His
actions caused a commotion among the monks who attended the ceremony
and he was later detained by the military intelligence.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 7 Aug 01
Chin Human Rights Organization: A Village?s Dream To Solve Drinking
Water Problems Ruined
SPDC Soldiers Looted 23,500 Kyats from Aru villagers
August 5, 2001
Lieutenant Kyaw Kyaw Naing of Burmese army LIB ( 274 ) and his troops
has looted 23,500 Kyats from 32 year-old Mr. Leitho ( name changed ) and
friends at Aru village, Matupi township of Southern Chinland on 19th
Mr. Leitho said that there is no sufficient drinking water in Aru
village. Thus, the villagers contributed money to buy water pipes to
drain water from the near by stream. But the money they contributed was
not still sufficient to buy the water pipe. The villagers then decided
to buy cattle with the money they contributed and sell them to Mizoram
hoping that they will be able to buy the water pipe with the proceeds.
In that way the villagers bought 4 mithuns and Mr. Leitho and friends
were asked to sell the cattle to Mizoram State of India, which is 5-days
journey on foot. On 17th July 2001, Mr. Leitho and friends were stopped
on the way between Sabawngte and Sabawngpi village by Lt. Kyaw Kyaw
Naing and his troops and demanded from them 20,000 Kyats. Athough Mr.
Leitho and friends explained to the Lieutenant the whole situation that
they are not mere traders and that they have no personal belongings but
only that of the villagers' contributions for buying water pipe for
Ignoring their explanation, Lt. Kyaw Kyaw Naing sent all the cattles to
Sabawngte army camp. He threatened them that if they refused to pay 20,
000 Kyats a ransom, he would arrest them and confiscate all the cattle.
Intimidated, Mr. Leitho and his friends went back to Sabawngpi village.
On 19th July 2001, Mr. Leitho and friends came back to Lt. Kyaw Kyaw
Naing to pay 20, 000 Kyats. Then, Lt. Kyaw Kyaw Naing demanded again
that besides 20, 000 kyats, Mr. Leitho and friends have to pay him a
goat or 3, 500 Kyats to buy a goat. Lt. Kyaw Kyaw Naing said that he
would seize all the cattle and arrest them all if they failed to meet
Thus, Mr. Leitho and friends paid another 23, 500 Kyats to Lt. Kyaw Kyaw
Naing on 19th July 2001.
Mr. Leitho said that their dreams of solving drinking water crisis in
the village is ruined.
Xinhua: 442,264 Motor Vehicles in Operation in Myanmar
YANGON, August 9 (Xinhua) -- The number of motor vehicles in operation
in Myanmar reached 442,264 at the end of March this year, an increase of
12,109 or 2.8 percent from a year ago, according to a
government-released figure. The latest issue of the official Economic
Indicators, published by Myanmar's Central Statistical Organization,
show that the total registered motor vehicles running in the country
included 174,749 passenger cars, 53,892 trucks, 16,866 buses and 174,489
motor cycles. Official statistics show that Myanmar has so far built
6,819 km of roads since 1988 with its total length extending up to some
28, 800 km.
Daily Star (Bangladesh): Exhibition of Bangladeshi goods in Myanmar in
August 8, 2001
A solo exhibition of Bangladeshi goods will be held in Myanmar in the
first week of October to develop an export market there. Besides, Export
Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh will arrange similar exhibitions of
Bangladeshi goods in Katmandu and Saudi Arabia soon, EPB director
Faridul Hasan told a meeting with Chittagong Chamber and
Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Promotion Council (BMBPC) in Chittagong
Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Farid Ahmed
Chowdhury said the huge reserves of bamboo and limestone in the Rakhain
state of Myanmar, close to Bangladesh border, would be more feasible to
use commercially by Bangladesh in establishing cement and paper pulp
But, it is necessary to construct a bridge over the river Naf and
jetties at the riverbanks on both its two sides to take the advantage
and turn the trade potential into reality, he said.
"We'll have to develop bilateral economic relation with Myanmar on the
basis of regional cooperation due to face the reality of competitive
global economic scenario," said BMBPC chairman Rashed Maksud Khan.
He said other countries will make use of the advantage if the two
countries fail to utilise the natural resources of both sides despite
Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are now considering investment in
Myanmar due to its resources, he added.
CCCI senior vice president SM Nurul Huq, vice president MA Latif, BMBPC
vice chairman Syed Mahmudul Huq, EPB Director in Chittagong Kazi
Mahbubur Rahman, former CCCI president Engr Ali Ahmed and Youngone
Corporation chairman Kihak Sung also spoke at the meeting, said a press
AP: Thai defense minister claims satisfaction with military reshuffle
August 9, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Thai Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
said Thursday he was satisfied with the results of the military's annual
reshuffle, whose most significant aspect was that it kept Army Commander
Gen. Surayud Chulanont in his job.
Chavalit had reportedly sought to have Surayud kicked upstairs to the
less powerful post of Supreme Commander.
Chavalit, who is also a deputy prime minister, was quoted by the state
Thai News Agency as saying he was very pleased with the reshuffle, which
was announced late Wednesday.
``The result of the reshuffle is good. It is a mix between seniority
and capability,'' he said.
The position of army commander is considered the most powerful military
post, and carries with it a lot of political clout.
Surayud is generally regarded as an honest and independent reformer,
not always willing to do the bidding of Chavalit, who stepped down from
the position of army commander more than a decade ago to enter politics.
He now heads his own New Aspiration Party.
While the annual promotion list is the result of bargaining among the
military, the defense ministry and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
have the ultimate say in deciding appointments.
The Bangkok Post newspaper reported Thursday that about 20 former
classmates and two close relatives of the prime minister were promoted
in this year's reshuffle. Thaksin graduated from the Armed Forces
Academies Preparatory School and later from the Police Academy, and left
police service with the rank of colonel to enter business and later
The most high profile promotion was that of Lt. Gen. Wattanachai
Chaimuanwong, who was promoted to a full general as assistant Army
Wattanachai had been commander of the Third Army Region along the
border with Myanmar, and his aggressive response to tensions with
Myanmar government troops had put him sharply at odds with the
conciliatory approach favored by Thaksin's government, especially
BurmaNet: Thailand Keeps Burma hard-liner as army commander
August p, 2001
The retention of General Surayod Chulanont as Thailand's Army Commander
raises the likelihood of further armed conflict between Thai and Burmese
soldiers over the regime's promotion of the narcotics trade. In the
normal course of events, Surayod would have been promoted to a
ceremonial post or retired in order to allow other senior commanders to
The retention of Surayod, despite efforts by Thailand's collaborationist
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to sideline him is perhaps most
significant in confirming Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's quiet
support of robust action to counter the regime's drug allies. In public,
Thaksin frequently sounds conciliatory notes with respect to Burma and
ratcheting down the military confrontation. While Thaksin often sounds
like his collaborationist Defence Minister Chavalit, he has repeatedly
though quietly backed the actions of Lt. Gen. Surayod at several crucual
turns since border fighting began earlier this year at Mae Sai. In the
most recent clash,
three Thai soldiers were killed this week by regime-sponsored Democratic
Karen Buddhist Army troops as they were smuggling 500,000
methamphetamine pills into Thailand.
Over Defence Minister Chavalit's objections, Thaksin has reaffirmed
operational control of Thai troops, restricting the Defence Minister to
general policy decisions. Thaksin has also allowed Surayod to continue
supporting cross border counter-narcotics operations and prevented
Chavalit from asserting control over Task Force 399, the Joint US-Thai
military effort to intercept drug traffickers. Thaksin also allowed
Surayod to use force to eject a Burmese-led contingent of United Wa
State Army troops southwest of Mae Sai and has authorized the deployment
of most of Thailand's best combat units, its Special Forces, Armor and
Armored Cavalry along the border in an arc from Mae Sai to Mae Hong Son.
These troops, who are are carrying full weapon loads, are according to
to a Thai Third Army spokesman, facing more than 200,000 Burmese
soldiers just across the
Surayod's retention is unlikely to lead to any immediate action on the
border as the rainy season slows movement to a crawl. In keeping
Surayod though, Thailand's government has shown it is as serious about
combatting large scale drug trafficking as Burma's is in promoting it.
The potential for a collision between these policies could make for a
combustible dry season come December and January.
Far Eastern Economic Review: Jet-Fighter Training Needed in Burma
FEER, Issue cover-dated August 16, 2001
It will take years before the 10 MiG-29 fighter jets that Burma has
ordered from Russia can be seen as an effective addition to the
country's antiquated air force, Western military analysts say. Burma
does not have any pilots qualified to handle modern jet fighters, and
training will be a major problem. One option, the analysts say, would be
to hire Russian or other East European pilots to fly the aircraft.
But given Burmese sensitivities regarding direct foreign
participation in its defence, it is more likely that the deal to buy the
aircraft will involve initial training in Russia and the posting of
Russian instructors to Burma. In the past, Burmese air force personnel
have been trained in Yugoslavia, Poland and China before the purchase of
aircraft from those countries, and instructors from China and Russia
have come briefly to Burma.
But the likely arrival of more Russian instructors who will stay for
longer periods--years, even--to train Burmese fighter pilots would mark
a new era in Burma's foreign military relations. Until now, Chinese
instructors have been the only foreign military personnel stationed in
Burma on a long-term basis.
Reuters: Bangladesh says 10 wounded by Myanmar firing
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Bangladesh said on Thursday
that at least 10 Bangladeshi fishermen were wounded when Myanmar border
guards fired on them inside Bangladesh territory.
``Myanmar border guards shot and wounded at least 10 of our fishermen
inside Bangladesh's water territory in the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday,''
Lt. Col. Rafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan said.
He told reporters the guards fired on four Bangladeshi boats fishing
near Saint Martin's island. Bhuiyan said Bangladesh had lodged a protest
with the Myanmar government.
AP: Thai police seize heroin, arrest five suspects
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Thai narcotics police announced Thursday that
they seized 37 kilograms (81.4 pounds) of heroin, the second largest
such seizure in the country this year.
Five suspects, all Thais, were arrested in connection with the seizure,
said a news release from the Narcotics Suppression police.
It said two suspects were arrested Wednesday at a highway checkpoint in
Kampaengphet, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Bangkok, after police
stopped and searched their car and found the heroin.
The two men confessed that they were smuggling heroin from neighboring
Myanmar via the northern Thai province of Chiang Rai to customers in
Bangkok, said police.
The other three man were arrested in Bangkok where they were allegedly
waiting for the drug to be delivered
Possession of such a large quantity of heroin is legally considered
tantamount to trafficking, which carries the death penalty.
Last month, police seized another 74 kilograms (162.8 pounds) of
heroin, arresting seven persons as suspected traffickers. That heroin
also was said to have come from Myanmar, also known as Burma, the
worlds' biggest producer of heroin and the opium from which it is
AP: Thai officials say 1,600 Myanmar refugees to be repatriated
MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) _ About 1,600 refugees from Myanmar will be
repatriated to their homeland around the middle of this month, Thai
district officials in the border province of Tak said Wednesday.
The refugees have been staying at the Mae La refugee camp, home to
about 30,000 long-term refugees, about 500 kilometers (310 miles)
northwest of Bangkok
More than 100,000 refugees from Myanmar, mostly from the Karen ethnic
minority, shelter in Thai border camps after fleeing fighting and mass
Referring to those who are to be repatriated, Thasaungyang district
chief Nirat Phusit said that the office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees had determined that ``they are not real
refugees and they did not flee from a battle area.''
``They arrived at the refugee camp with the aid of relatives and
friends,'' he said.
Neither the U.N. agency nor Thai military and civilian officials in
Bangkok were available to take calls to confirm his account.
Nirat said the list of names of those to be repatriated had already
been given to section leaders of the refugee camp, but neither he nor
other officials would disclose exactly where in Myanmar _ also known as
Burma _ the refugees would be sent back to.
Some refugees said they were worried at the prospect of returning to
``I'm sure that we will get a nice beating and other such lessons from
the Burmese government,'' said one woman refugee, speaking on condition
of anonymity. ``Another thing is, where are we going to stay in Burma?
We cannot stay in our villages where our lives are not safe.''
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has been holding talks with
Myanmar's military government about their eventual repatriation to
eastern Myanmar since last year.
The Karen refugees fled their homes to escape fighting between
government forces and Karen guerrillas, who are fighting for autonomy.
They have refused to sign peace deals unlike other ethnic rebel groups.
The Karens are predominantly Christians and a minority in their
overwhelmingly Buddhist country.
The UNHCR has said that the refugees won't be repatriated until the
fighting ends. The refugees also refuse to return without guarantees of
safety from the government.
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