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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 _______________

*Arakan News Agency: Massive demolition of mosques being carried out in 
north Arakan 
*Independent Mon News Agency: SPDC Tactical Command No. 19 Uses Headmen 
to Collect Forced Laborers

MONEY _______
*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 
for aid 

*PD Burma: Burma Calendar

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Arakan News Agency: Massive demolition of mosques being carried out in 
north Arakan 

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 
this project. 

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 
this month. 

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. 


___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Bangkok Post: Tougher stance heralded on NGO staff working here 

November 22, 2001

Penchan Charoensuthiphan 

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 
staff carefully. 

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 
military rulers.


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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