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BurmaNet News: August 23, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
August 22, 2001 Issue # 1870
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Arakan News Agency: Massive demolition of mosques being carried out in
*Independent Mon News Agency: SPDC Tactical Command No. 19 Uses Headmen
to Collect Forced Laborers
*BBC: Burma's Economy in Crisis
*Oil and Gas Journal: Kværner to upgrade Yetagun platform
*PD Burma: Norwegian company cancels deal with Burma
*Bangkok Post: Junta troops killed in attack on rebels
*The Nation: Smuggling 'unabated'
*Bangkok Post: Tougher stance heralded on NGO staff working here
*The Asahi Shimbun: Japan should demand progress in Myanmar in return
*PD Burma: Burma Calendar
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Arakan News Agency: Massive demolition of mosques being carried out in
Maungdaw, August 1: By our special correspondent
The military authorities of Maungdaw township of Arakan state has
ordered to demolish a total of 70 mosques and religious schools in the
month of April 2001 which are located at villages kadirbil , Nalbannya,
Bagguna, Nurullafara, Shairafara, Fatonza, Gazzandia, Kiladong,
Godusara, Daunkhali, Charkumbaw, Lumbaguna, Kuinnafara, Hanssara,
Saindapara, Shilkhali, Khongyabill and Hanchurata all in the southern
side of Maungdaw township.
Orders have been issued to the Chairman, village Peace and Development
Council of the respective villages to get the said structures demolished
without delay or face punishment. As the Muslim chairmen of the said
villages were reluctant and hesitated to carry out the order for some
time, the border security force known as Na Sa Ka forced the chairmen,
secretaries, committee members and villagers at gun point to carry out
the demolition since the month of May. A total of 13 mosques Kadirbil
-1, Bagguna -2, Nalbannya -1, Nurullafara -3, Shairafara -1, Kiladong
-2, Daunkhali -1 and Gadusara -2 have already been completely demolished
and a total of 17 religious primary schools Kadirbil -2, Bagguna -3,
Nurullafara -6, Kiladong -1, Daunkhali -3, and Gadusara -2 have already
been completely demolished by the first week of July. Demolition of the
rest of the structures is in continuation.
The objective of the junta is to completely erase Muslim entity of
Arakan and turn it to a purely Buddhist State. The over 50 years old
Sandikhan mosque built by Gen. Sandikhan of the Bengal Army in 1430 at
Arakan?s capital Pattari Qilla (Mrauk U) was demolished in 1995. More
than 70% of Arakan?s mosques, Muslim monuments, religious schools have
already been demolished so far. The junta is also very busy in erecting
Buddhist pagodas and monasteries at every nook and corner of Arakan to
give Arakan a Buddhistic outlook so that within a few decades any
outsider cannot say that it had been a Muslim country.
Independent Mon News Agency: SPDC Tactical Command No. 19 Uses Headmen
to Collect Forced Laborers
Date, August 22
On July 7, 2001, army tactial commander no .1 of SPDC Tactical Control
Command No. 19, bases in Ye Township of Mon State, held a meeting with
local civilians in eastern part of Ye township and ordered them to build
a Strategic Command office building for them, said a Mon development
worker in the area,
On that day, army operation strategy commander, Col. Than Toe and Col.
Myo Win from battalion LIB No. 591 and Col. Soe Naing from battalion
No.583 under command of SPDC brigade. No. 19 gathered the village
headmen and villagers in Ye river (Ye-chaung pyar) area and hold a
meeting in Kyanug-ywa village PDC office. The plan connected with SPDC?s
deployment of 2 new military battalions in recent months.
In the meeting, SPDC brigade No.19 army strategy commander instructed
and gave a duty to villagers to construct three Strategic Command office
buildings for them in Kyaung-ywa village.
In their order for construction, they ordered to villagers to take
responsibility for work-duties depending the number of population in
village. Some small 18 villages as group in this area have to build one
office building according the development worker.
On July 10, 2001 Kyaung-ywa village headman collected money from
villagers and started construction. For construction supplies, villagers
have to buy by their own money and they also have to hire carpenters and
paid carpenters by their own money.
In this case, to avoid the so-called the army?s requisition of
compulsory labour from the villagers, army commanders transferred all
duties to the concerned village headmen in the area with order,
according the same source.
BBC: Burma's Economy in Crisis
(LEAD IN: Burma's economy is continuing to worry its military leaders.
The kyat is plummetting against the dollar on the informal market and
the cost of basic foodstuffs are spirally out of control. While the
Generals insists that it the economy is growing steadily, analysts in
the region are convinced that the government's economic management is
only going to worsen the country's economic crisis. Some members of the
United Nations are so concerned about the situation in Burma, that they
have privately urged the international community to end the country's
international isolation. From Bangkok Larry Jagan has more)
In the past few days the value of the kyat on the informal market has
fallen by more than twenty percent. It's currently seven hundred kyat to
the dollar. This is back to its lowest value some four months ago before
the government stepped in and arrested most of the capital's currency
dealers. Speculators say the kyat is set to fall further. One analyst
told the BBC that he thought preparations for the forthcoming gems
exhibition -- a special trade fair where gems, jade and pearls are sold
-- may be causing the current run on the kyat. Over the last few weeks
the price of edible oils has also increased drastically. Since the
beginning the cost of living of the average family, according to aid
officials, has declined markedly as the price of eggs, vegetables and
oil have all increased in the past month.
Rice is the only commodity which the government has effectively been
able to regulate. Privately some UN officials fear a massive
humanitarian crisis is looming. They estimate that one child in three is
already malnourished. If the economic crisis continues unchecked they
fear this will double within the next twelve months. The situation, they
say, is extremely critical in the countryside. Bus fares and taxi prices
have all increased dramatically since May when the government stiffened
petrol rationing. As a result fewer people are taking taxis or bus
trips, diplomats told the BBC.
Women are bearing the brunt of this increased economic hardship
according to observers, their concern to ensure there is food on the
table has also meant that many of them are no longer buying beauty
accessories or make-up. The government has little idea of what to do to
stem the economic crisis. The government had hoped tourism might provide
much needed foreign exchange, but this has not eventuated. Now the
Generals are seeking foreign assistance. In the last few weeks senior
diplomats from Britain, the US and Japan have had talks with both the
military and the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. They have made it
clear to the military that major progress in the talks between the two
sides would be rewarded and the lifting of the international embargo
would be seriously considered.
Oil and Gas Journal: Kværner to upgrade Yetagun platform
By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Aug. 21 -- Premier Petroleum Myanmar Ltd. awarded the Singapore
office of Norwegian company Kværner ASA a contract as part of the
upgrade of the Yetagun platform in Myanmar's Gulf of Martaban, said
The 2.92 tcf Yetagun gas-condensate field is 400 km south of Yangon (OGJ
Online, Aug. 7, 2000).
The project will upgrade the platform to 300 MMscfd of capacity from
Oct. 1. Further upgrades are planned, said Kværner.
Kværner will provide engineering, procurement, and construction
management services for the upgrade program, which has a total installed
cost of $30 million.
Earlier this year, Kværner completed front-end engineering design for
During 1998-1999, Kværner's Singapore office performed the detailed
engineering for the initial development of the 230 MMscfd production
Premier Petroleum Myanmar Ltd. is a unit of Premier Oil PLC of the UK.
Partners include Malaysian company Petronas, Japan's Nippon Oil Co. and
PTT Exploration & Production PLC of Thailand.
PD Burma: Norwegian company cancelled deal with Burma
August 22, 2001
The Anglo-Norwegian engineering group Kvaerner ASA (y.kva) announced
yesterday the signing of a $30 million deal with Premier Petroleum
Myanmar Ltd. to upgrade the Yetagun platform, south of Rangoon in Burma.
After massive criticism from the Norwegian media- and human rights
organisation PD Burma/Worldview Rights, Kværner ASA cancelled the
contract. It was Kvaerner ASA`s office in Singapore that had signed the
contract - without consulting the head office in London.
"When the European head office heard about the contract, we informed the
office in Singapore to cancel trade with Burma", said the publicity
manager Marit Ytreeide in Kværner ASA yesterday.
Trine Johansen, Project Manager of PD Burma/Worldview Rights, said
yesterday she was shocked to hear about the Kvaerner ASA contract. "It
is severe that contracts like this is signed by Norwegian companies.
Simultaneously, Kvaerner deserves som credit as they did show a serious
attitude with regards to the human rights situation in Burma when being
consulted with the fact" Johansen said.
Bangkok Post: Junta troops killed in attack on rebels
August 22, 2001.
Three Burmese soldiers were killed when junta forces attacked a camp
occupied by democratic opposition forces, opposite Tak province.
The recent afternoon raid on the camp of the Karen National Union, the
All Burma Students' Democratic Front and the Parliamentary Democracy
Party was repelled after an hour-long battle, sources said. Burmese
troops employed 81mm mortars during the assault with about 10 shells
landing on Thai territory and destroying a village.
The attack was launched to protect an amphetamine factory located about
a mile from the camp, the sources said.
The Nation: Smuggling 'unabated'
Published on Aug 22, 2001
About 700 to 800 million methamphetamine pills are expected to be
smuggled into the country in the second half of this year, the National
Security Council (NSC) told a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Most of the drugs would be for the local market, while the remainder
would be destined for other countries, the NSC said.
The agency described the drug situation in the first half of the year as
"stable," a source said. The number of speed pills smuggled into
Thailand in the first half of this year were unavailable.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra proposed yesterday that a meeting of
Thai, Chinese, Burmese and Lao leaders should be held shortly after the
meeting of foreign ministers from those countries scheduled for later
The timing of the summit was aimed at "sending a signal" to government
officials in those countries that their leaders were serious about
tackling the drug problem, Thaksin said.
Foreign ministers from the four countries are scheduled to meet this
month in China to discuss intelligence cooperation and suppression of
the drug trade.
Interior Minister Purachai Piumsombun yesterday said the blacklist of
police officers allegedly involved in the narcotics trade would soon be
forwarded to Thaksin. He said he expected the premier to instruct the
national police chief on what action to take against those listed.
Legal and disciplinary action would be taken against police with strong
evidence against them, Purachai said. If there was no compelling
evidence against the accused officers, they would be seconded to
inactive positions, he added.
Methamphetamines, also called yaa baa or "crazy drug", have hooked an
estimated 300,000 addicts in Thailand and another 2.7 million "casual
users". The synthetic stimulant, produced across the border in Burmese
territory controlled by the United Wa State Army, is expertly marketed
by a nationwide network of Thai pushers to schools, colleges and slums.
What worries the government is that the drug has become immensely
popular in the past six years with the younger generation, especially
teenage boys who account for about 90 per cent of the addicts.
Bangkok Post: Tougher stance heralded on NGO staff working here
November 22, 2001
Foreigners sent by foreign non-governmental organisations to work here
will be screeneed under strict criteria, amid concerns their activities
could upset neighbouring countries.
A meeting of the Labour and Foreign Affairs ministries said measures
would be stepped up to ensure the operations of foreign NGOs and
foundations in Thailand, especially those with more than five foreign
staffers, do not affect national security.
Some foreign NGOs were using Thailand as base to do social security work
in neighbouring countries, and were using research projects as a front.
A Labour Ministry source said law changes were in the offing.
Input from various agencies would be sought.
In the meantine, the Foreign Ministry would ask foreign NGOs to recruit
Employment Department head Wanchai Phadungsupalai said the ministry
would take a tougher stance on foreign NGOs wanting to bring in more
than five foreigners, or hold meetings or activities here.
Foreign NGOs would be asked to seek temporary-stay visas and work
permits at least 30 days in advance, he said.
The Asahi Shimbun: Japan should demand progress in Myanmar in return for
Aug. 18, 2001
Myanmar's military rulers have kept a vice-like grip on power for 11
years since the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi
won the 1990 general election by a landslide. The military junta
justified its continued rule by saying a new Constitution was needed
before a transfer of power could be contemplated. But the promised new
Constitution has not materialized. The shift to civilian rule is nowhere
in sight. As it turned out, the junta insisted on the drafting of a
Constitution before moving aside. But that was only as a ploy to
continue holding on to the reins of power.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been under virtual house
arrest since last September. Despite sporadic talks between the military
government and pro-democracy forces, no significant progress has been
achieved. The junta has released a number of imprisoned politicians and
activists since the beginning of this year, but many more remain in
jail. A growing number of young people yearning for freedom despair of
their country becoming a democracy during their lifetimes.
Myanmar's social systems are riddled with fundamental flaws that hinder
efforts to weave human rights and democracy into its social fabric.
One of the big obstacles to progress is the citizenship law, which
divides the Myanmarese into three categories by pedigree and give full
citizenship only to people who can prove familial links dating back to
an era before British colonial rule started in the 19th century. Those
who can trace their family trees back to the time around the country's
independence after World War II are treated as second-class citizens,
while the others are classified as naturalized citizens.
People without full citizenship face huge disadvantages and unfavorable
treatment in the fields of land ownership, employment and education.
This discriminatory law has sown the seeds for rampant corruption among
government and military officials who take advantage of the system to
receive money under the table.
The military government has brushed aside international criticism of the
law, arguing that the question of citizenship is an internal affair.
Even so, legally classifying the people for the purposes of
discrimination represents an open challenge to the widely accepted human
rights creeds of today. The country should revise the citizenship law
and guarantee equality for its people.
Forced labor is another serious human rights issue. The International
Labor Organization last year imposed sanctions against Myanmar, accusing
the military regime of forcing citizens to serve as construction workers
or porters. A report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
referred to cases in which boys were forced to walk ahead of soldiers in
mine fields for the soldiers' safety.
Under mounting international pressure, the military junta has declared
that forced labor is illegal. But the practice continues in rural areas.
The international community should keep a closer watch on what is going
over there to ensure that such violations stop.
Japan has been pursuing a kind of engagement policy toward Myanmar,
supplying aid for the construction of airports and other infrastructure
while trying to encourage through dialogue the military government to
move toward democracy.
During the war, Japan occupied Myanmar, then known as Burma, and set up
a nominally independent Burmese regime. This led to an anti-Japanese
resistance movement by disillusioned pro-independence militants. It may,
therefore, be inevitable for Japan to adopt a different posture toward
the country from those of the Western democracies that try to prod the
military government into democratization with the threat and use of
The problem is that Japan's diplomatic approach has produced no
discernible changes in the country. It is not even clear what Tokyo
wants to achieve through dialogue with the country's undemocratic
Obviously, Japan should strongly demand the junta in Yangon (Rangoon) to
revise the citizenship law and enforce the ban on forced labor. It
should also urge the regime to present a schedule for the transition to
civilian rule. The Japanese government needs some tangible achievements
in these respects to win public support to its continued aid to the
PD Burma: Burma Calendar
 August 24th :Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will
pay a one-day visit to Burma.
 August 27th : UN Special Envoy Ismail Razali to visit Burma.
 August 29th : European Burma NGO meeting in Brussels.
 Aug. 31st- Sep.7th : World Conference against Racism and Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance, South Africa.
 September 1st : Burmas intelligence chief, Lt General Khin
Nyunt, will make an official visit to Bangkok.
 September 12th : Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand:
Panel--Unraveling Burma's Crisis. Bangkok.
 September 21-23rd : The Fifth Annual Working Conference of the
Free Burma Coalition American University. For More Information, Contact:
Free Burma Coalition at info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
 December 1st : Worlds Aids Day
 December 8th : World wide celebration for the Nobel Peace
Prize for Aung San Suu Kyi.
 December 10th : 10th Year Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize
for Aung San Suu Kyi.
 February 2002 : The fourth Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka
and Thailand-Economic Cooperation (BIMST- EC) meeting, Colombo.
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