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BurmaNet News: October 16, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
          October 16, 2001   Issue # 1899
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*BBC: Burma rejects EU charges
*DVB: Restricting Muslims' celebration of Prophet's birthday Authorities 
said restricting Muslims' celebration of Prophet's birthday 
*Arakan News Agency: Taliban Scare caused Closure of Burma-Bangladesh 
*Xinhua: Myanmar Not Facing Food Problem: Leader
*The Los Angeles Times: Myanmar - Natural wonderland

MONEY _______
*AFP: Thailand fishery officials visits Myanmar
*DVB: Thailand to upgrade Myawadi-Moulmein road to boost border trade 
Thailand to upgrade Myawadi-Moulmein road to boost border trade 

*Bangkok Post: Red Wa strengthen town against attacks

*Bangkok Post: Burma situation discussed 
*Bangkok Post: Nationwide crackdown on illegal labour begins in two 
*Chiang Mai News (Thailand):  Burmese workers in Chiang Mai

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

BBC: Burma rejects EU charges

 Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK 

By BBC Burma analyst Larry Jagan 

The Burmese Government has rejected allegations made by European MPs 
last week that the army was still using forced labour. 
The Government spokesman told the BBC that the MPs had made up their 
minds without examining the real situation.  

Evidence was submitted to hearing at the European Parliament that 
British and French oil companies in Burma were dependent on forced 
labour to lay their pipeline to Thailand and that the Burmese army 
colluded in this practise.  

The Burmese Government remains convinced that most of its critics are 
politically motivated.  

In a statement to the BBC the military spokesman Colonel Hla Min said 
the European MPs had ignored the facts and were not prepared to 
acknowledge the real developments that had taken place in the country.  
ILO investigation 

On the issue of forced labour, Burma's military leaders have good reason 
to feel aggrieved - especially at the timing of the MP's renewed 
allegations. After all, the Burmese government has just allowed in a 
major investigative mission from the International Labour Organisation 
to assess Burma's efforts to stamp out the use of forced labour.  
Many of the documented incidents of forced labour tabled at the European 
Parliament occurred more than a year ago. The government says it 
outlawed forced labour officially late last year.  

The ILO mission has now completed its research and is currently 
preparing its report for the organisation¿s meeting in Geneva next 

It is going to be more thorough than any other UN investigation so far 
held into Burma's human rights record.  

While in Burma, the four-member team travelled independently of the army 
to locations they wanted to visit and used their own interpreters to 
gather testimonies.  
According to ILO sources, the team were impressed with the courage of 
those who came to talk to them.  

The mission then spent a week in northern Thailand talking to refugees - 
Shan, Karen and Karennis - who had fled Burma to escape being used by 
the army as porters.  

The ILO is remaining tight-lipped about the mission and say it will all 
be in the report when its published.  

In the meantime, the Burmese Government continues to insist the 
international community still has not given it credit for reforms 
implemented over the past year. 
The EU has already signalled its willingness to review its policy of 
isolating Burma if Rangoon is really committed to introducing political 

For Burma's part, the military spokesman told the BBC, the government 
always welcomed constructive, realistic and meaningful engagement.  

But the question remains to what extent are Burma's ruling generals 
actually willing to reciprocate.  


DVB: Restricting Muslims' celebration of Prophet's birthday Authorities 
said restricting Muslims' celebration of Prophet's birthday 

Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma(DVB) on 16 October 

DVB has learned that the SPDC authorities have been restricting and 
restraining  Burmese Muslims from celebrating Prophet Mohamed's 
birthday. The Burmese  Muslims held prayer services to commemorate 
Prophet Mohamed's birthday at  the Persian mosque in Keng Tung, Shan 
State on 12-14 October. But the SPDC  authorities, picking the current 
crisis between the United States and the  Islamic fundamentalists as a 
reason, tried to restrict and prevent the  ceremonies. The Shan State 
Peace and Development Council summoned the  Persian mosque elders on 8 
October prior to the occasion and warned them to  hold the ceremonies in 
a limited manner. The authorities also prevented  them from inviting the 
usual guests - the Chinese Muslims from Mong La  region and other 
Islamic brethren from around the nation.  

Similarly, in Amarapura, Col Hla Win, commander of Mandalay No. 7 
Region,  informed the responsible personnel from the respective regions 
to take care  of security measures in order to prevent religious riots 
and disturbances  and to remind the respective Muslim elders from the 

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 16 Oct 01 


Arakan News Agency: Taliban Scare caused Closure of Burma-Bangladesh 


By our Special Correspondent 

Maungdaw, Oct. 16: A widespread rumour of imminent Taliban incursion 
into Burmese occupied Arakan State across Burma-Bangladesh common border 
led to the temporary closure of the border and suspension of all 
cross-border traffic for three days beginning from October 13. 

The rumour spread like wild fire causing panic among the local people 
and visitors from Bangladesh, who have to stay in hotels allowed by the 
government, for fear of possible search and arrest. By 2 P.M. on October 
13 almost all visitors who went to Burma holding visit permits for 
various purposes gathered at Maungdaw jetty to return to Bangladesh. 
Maungdaw is an extreme border town in northern Arakan State on the bank 
of the common river Naf dividing the two countries. However the 
immigration authorities did not allow them to return until a senior 
Bangladeshi official intervened and the visitors were finally able to 
depart after six hours of ordeal under heavy downpour and uncertainty.
All border crossing points were ordered closed from the Burmese side 
since October 13 and security has been beefed up considerably. However 
an understanding has been reached between the two governments to reopen 
the border with effect from October 16 under a new procedure. According 
to the new arrangement only 10 persons from each side will be allowed to 
cross to the other side everyday after ensuring that those visited 
earlier have returned to the respective sides. 

Abdur Rashid
Chief Reporter
Arakan News Agency


Xinhua: Myanmar Not Facing Food Problem: Leader

YANGON, October 16 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar leader Lieutenant- General Khin 
Nyunt claimed on Tuesday that his country does not face any food 
problem, saying that it will never face the problem in the future 
either. Speaking at a ceremony here marking the World Food Day, Khin 
Nyunt noted that in addition to fulfilling its local demand, his country 
will also help fulfill the local and international food requirements to 
the best of its ability. He told the ceremony that Myanmar's surface 
area and population are in a proper proportionate ratio. 

He said the Myanmar government is applying various means to extend 
cultivated areas, to supply adequate amount of irrigation water and to 
develop farm machinery manufacturing enterprises as well as making 
arrangements to develop the use of modern agricultural methods and 
high-yield crop strains. He called for cooperation among all developed 
and developing nations to ensure food sufficiency for the whole 
civilization to be free from poverty and hunger. 

Myanmar's agricultural sector, in which 65 percent of its labor force 
are engaged in, contributes to the country's gross national product by 
42 percent. The cultivable area of Myanmar's agricultural sector is 
18.225 million hectares, of which 10.125 million have been put under 
crops, while 8.1 million remain to be utilized. To promote agricultural 
development, Myanmar government has exempted the import duties of 
agricultural implements including fertilizer, pesticide, improved 
variety and machinery. 


The Los Angeles Times: Myanmar - Natural wonderland


In a country that's been off-limits to most tourists for years, it's 
finally possible to explore one of the most beautiful beaches in the 
world  By Carl Duncan
Special to the Los Angeles Times
Originally published October 14, 2001

As the sun rose above a curtain of coconut palms in Myanmar, the honey 
light revealed a scene along Ngapali Beach so achingly photogenic that 
it felt unreal. 

Twenty oxcarts and women with bamboo baskets hanging from poles across 
their shoulders waited on the sand for the night fishing fleet. Many of 
the solid old boats -- with square sails, long oars and not a motor 
among them -- undoubtedly dated to the days of these fishermen's 
grandfathers. The men landed and dragged their iron anchors onto the 
beach. Two by two, men and women, smiling and laughing, ferried baskets 
overflowing with silver fish to immense plaited mats, where the fish 
were spread to dry, sparkling like mirror shards. The oxcarts were 
pulled slowly into the water alongside the boats and took on the bigger 
fish, the barracudas and the yellowfin tuna that would be taken fresh to 
the morning market or to the kitchens of the beach resorts. 

This was pure old Burma, whose tangled and troubled past wiped it off 
the tourist map decades ago. Burma's leaders squandered the wealth of 
what was once the richest nation in Southeast Asia, hobbled its people 
and, as the world watched disapprovingly, drove the country into an 
abyss of isolation, slamming the door shut on the world. 

The people, 42 million divided among 132 ethnic groups, many of whom do 
not speak a common language, carried on in a place where the cultural 
clock stood still, without access to outside media, international 
phones, the Internet and, in many cases, visitors. 

And yet here I was on the beach, among these friendly villagers, 
everyone wearing grass sandals and longyis (the traditional Burmese 
sarong), the men tucking theirs up short and the women letting theirs 
swirl in the water as they brought in the night's catch. I took one last 
look and turned around, heading back to the beach resorts and the 21st 
century, to the new Myanmar, a country quietly inviting the world back 
by opening the tourist infrastructure to private enterprise and foreign 
investment and all but eliminating travel restrictions. 

"You try to guard yourself by saying it is not real," Somerset Maugham 
once wrote of Burma. "It is a beauty that batters you and stuns you and 
leaves you breathless." Maugham knew it, and now Myanmar wants the world 
to know it, too. 

On this fine february morning, i ended my run at the Bayview Resort and 
walked over to the pool deck, where Maria, my traveling companion, sat 
sipping English tea. I ordered robust French coffee, eggs benedict, half 
a papaya with lime, and chilled orange juice. And some warm, just-made 

For years, Burma was completely off the circuit. Since the early '60s, 
the country has been ruled first by a military despot and then by the 
military itself. Then, a glimmer of light: The first free multi-party 
elections in 30 years, held May 27, 1990, gave the main opposition 
party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a decisive victory. But the light faded 
quickly; the military refused to hand over power and has been ruling 

When the government organized a "Visit Myanmar Year 1996/97," Suu Kyi, 
daughter of one of the country's early heroes and winner of the 1991 
Nobel Peace Prize, and her party called for a tourist boycott, saying 
the proceeds would go into military coffers, not to the people. 

In those days, when tourists were forced to use overpriced government 
hotels and inefficient government transportation almost exclusively, the 
boycott made sense to many. "Visit Myanmar Year" was a flop. It 
embarrassed the government and disheartened the people, tens of 
thousands of whom lost their jobs when the expected tourists never 

The 1997 Asian financial crisis further strained the economy. Together 
they helped galvanize the government into making much-needed reforms. 
New ministers replaced old; government red tape was cut; liberal 
privatization laws encouraged foreign investors and local entrepreneurs; 
and travel restrictions were lifted. A new era of internationalism had 

Today tourists can use private hotels, airlines and travel agencies and 
countless private entrepreneurs exclusively as never before. With 
privatization and a growing free market, tourist dollars are directly 
supporting growing numbers of local people, and enthusiasm for the 
tourist boycott has dwindled. Even Paris-based UNESCO now favors 
increased international tourism to Myanmar and disagrees with leader Suu 
Kyi and her National League for Democracy, who still oppose the 
development of the tourism industry. 
The tide is turning, but the numbers are still small. Last year, 
according to official Myanmar statistics, 200,000 foreigners entered the 
country, although those numbers may be inflated. That's a trickle in a 
nation the size of England and France combined. 
Those who do visit, however, find a warmth and a welcome that are 
touching, even overwhelming. One afternoon, while I stood on the 
platform below the immense golden Shwe Dagon pagoda in Rangoon, now 
called Yangon, an elderly monk making his meditational rounds stepped up 
beside me and lowered his fan. "What country are you from?" he whispered 
in cultured British English. When I told him America, he smiled. 
"So glad you're here!" he said.

The new spirit of international tourism, with its nearly unrestricted 
geographical freedom, has finally opened up the coast, one of the last 
natural wonderlands of Southeast Asia, and made it easily accessible to 
independent travelers. 

The beaches of Myanmar loop south from Bangladesh nearly to Phuket in 
southern Thailand, a 1,760-mile coastline that includes more than 850 
tropical islands (the largest of which is larger than Tahiti). Much of 
this area is virgin territory to the tourist. Ngapali Beach (known as 
Sandoway to the British who once ruled the country) on the Bay of Bengal 
in the sparsely populated state of Rakhine is the shining exception. 
We had heard about this beach years ago from an old Asia hand who had 
been there. "If you ever get the chance," he had said, "check out 
Sandoway Beach. Best-kept secret in Southeast Asia." 

So we were drawn here, as are others, by a culture that is authentic and 
undiluted, by a people who are deeply religious and respectful, by a 
place that is stunningly beautiful and unmarked by the masses. 

At Sandoway, sea turtles swim ashore at night to lay their eggs in the 
still-warm sand. And just off the beach you could swim with huge whale 
sharks, docile, vegetarian creatures that congregate offshore during 
their winter migration. 

In the past, travel along the coast was slow and difficult. Now our 
50-minute flight to Thandwe from Yangon saved us about 15 hours by car 
or five days by ancient coastal vessel. We flew northwest over a rugged 
mountain range that still isolates Rakhine state from the rest of 
Myanmar. Until 1783, this coastal region was an independent kingdom 
called Arakhan. (The fabulous ruins of Mrauk U, about 175 miles north of 
Ngapali, was the capital.) No taxis waited outside the sleepy airport, 
just a half-dozen small buses beside the banana trees, one from each of 
the beach hotels. 

Fifteen minutes and two thatched villages later, we pulled into the 
Linthar Oo Lodge, a mid-range cabana hotel that sits in its own shady 
compound in the middle of the beach. We chose one of the older 
wood-and-fan bungalows at the northern end, liking the feel of these 
inexpensive units more than the newly upgraded concrete and 
air-conditioned cabanas on the other side. Ours had two beds and a 
cold-water shower, and a pleasant porch looking under the palms to the 

It was the British, ruling this region as a colony until 1942, who named 
this country Burma after the dominant ethnic group, the Burmans 
(although, at first, England referred to it simply as "further India"). 
Yangon was anglicized into Rangoon, and Thandwe ended up, poetically 
enough, as Sandoway, a name that attached itself also to the nearby 
beach. In 1989 the military government changed the official country name 
to Myanmar, reviving the formal, pre-British name. Many other names on 
the map followed. 

One afternoon, after a lunch of green curry chicken and crisp salad, and 
with a cold Mandalay beer to sip, I asked Oliver his opinion of the 
tourist boycott. 

"Tourism breaks chains," he said. "That's why I never could understand 
Aung San Suu Kyi and the boycott. A few months ago, I was driving my 
guests past the old government hotel here. There was a group of 
prisoners working on the road wearing their white longyis and white 
shirts. They had chains on their legs. It was hard to explain to the 
tourists what they were seeing." 

All prisoners, he said, must work, and hard labor shortens their prison 
time. "I wrote the minister of tourism a long letter and suggested it 
was not a good image for the tourists to see when the West thinks so 
badly of Myanmar anyway. Maybe, I suggested, the prisoners could wear 
their chains under their longyis so they wouldn't be seen. "Well, three 
weeks later I drove by the same prisoners again. I noticed this time 
they wore their longyis over their chains. Then the next time I saw them 
I couldn't believe my eyes. There they were in their white prison 
longyis, carrying axes and machetes, and they had no chains at all. I 
said to myself, 'Now the minister has gone too far. He's not only taken 
away their chains, he lets them go about armed!' That's when I realized 
that tourism can break chains." 

My travels have taken me all over Asia, so I've seen my share of 
beaches. I'd rank Ngapali as the most relaxing beach I've visited. Our 
afternoons were given over to rejuvenating siestas. We whiled away the 
hours in the half-shade and read and snoozed. Our sole distraction was 
deciding where to dine. Thursday night was easy: That was the big beach 
barbecue at the Bayview, with tuna and barracuda and a dozen kinds of 
pasta for just $10 per person. 

Like the more family-oriented Bayview, the Sandoway is a small resort, 
and the manager takes a personal interest in his guests. Alberto Peyre, 
from Milan, Italy, is not only the general manager but also the hotel 
architect. He oversaw the production, hired the local labor and chose 
the local material.
"You have to be a bit crazy to work here," he said. "Myanmar is crazy. 
But Myanmar is one of the last countries in Southeast Asia where you see 
the people with the natural smile."

Carl Duncan, who lives in British Columbia, last wrote about Hong Kong 
for the Los Angeles Times' Travel section, to which he is a frequent 


AFP: Thailand fishery officials visits Myanmar

Tuesday October 16, 12:23 AM

BANGKOK, Oct 15 (AFP) - A high-ranking official delegation from 
Thailand's fisheries department arrived in Yangon on Monday to meet 
Myanmar authorities to discuss re-deployment of Thai fishing trawlers in 
Myanmar waters, state media said. 
A 13-member Thai mission, headed by Dhammarong Prakobbon, Director 
General of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry's Fisheries 
Department, was welcomed at Yangon airport by their Myanmar counterpart, 
TV Myanmar reported late Monday. 
The official invitation to the Thai mission was made under the agreement 
of bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, it said 
without eleborating further details. 

Myanmar cancelled Thai fishing licenses in October 1999 after the Thai 
government supplied an escape helicopter to five anti-junta gunmen in 
exchange for the release of hostages held captive at Myanmar's embassy 
in Bangkok. 
Since then, Thai Fishery Department and Foreign Ministry officials have 
travelled several times to the military-ruled nation in the hope of 
negotiating a workable deal for Thai trawlers. 

Despite a series of talks, the two sides have failed to reach agreement 
on the revival of fishing concessions in a stand-off that has cost Thai 
fishermen dearly. 
The relations between the two neighbouring countries has improved 
following the two leadership's recent goodwill visits. Thai Prime 
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Yangon in June and the Myanmar 
junta's number three, military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, travelled 
to Bangkok last month.


DVB: Thailand to upgrade Myawadi-Moulmein road to boost border trade 
Thailand to upgrade Myawadi-Moulmein road to boost border trade 

Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma on 14 October

DVB has learned that Thai deputy prime minister and party met and held 
talks with Lt-Col Kyaw Soe, chairman of Myawadi District Peace and 
Development Council, in Myawadi, Burma [Myanmar]. DVB correspondent 
Maung Too filed this report.  
[Maung Too] In his meeting with newsmen in Mae Sot this evening, the 
Thai deputy prime minister said that since Myawadi-Pa-an-Moulmein road 
is very narrow it is hampering the smooth flow of Thai produce from the 
border trade to reach Burma. That is why Thailand has planned to 
renovate and expand the road, that the Myanmar side has agreed on the 
proposal, that the project is estimated to cost about 300-700m baht, and 
the work is expected to begin soon. 
While the road project is under construction and since Myawadi-Rangoon 
trip takes about one day by car, the Thai side told the Burmese 
authorities that they would allow the Burmese traders to come to Mae Sot 
and fly to Rangoon in order to get there quickly. The Burmese side said 
they would inform the War Office in Rangoon [Yangon] and would accept 
the proposal of allowing the Burmese traders to go to Mae Sot and fly to 
Rangoon once they receive confirmation from Rangoon. But the Thai deputy 
prime minister failed to mention whether today's meeting also discussed 
that both sides lift the restrictions and allow the import and export of 
restricted items, and the subject of narcotic drugs trafficking from 
Burma to Thailand. 

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 14 Oct 01 


Bangkok Post: Red Wa strengthen town against attacks

Wednesday 17 October 2001

By Wassana Nanuam

The Red Wa-controlled Mong Yawn town in Burma has been fortified against 
anticipated air attacks on drug factories, an army intelligence source 
The United Wa State Army has installed Chinese-made anti-aircraft guns 
and started building a fence and forts around the border town last 
month, the source said.

The town's defence system was specially designed to cope with air 
attacks amid fears the Thai military would step up drug suppression 
efforts against the Red Wa.

The source said the Red Wa was expected to produce up to one billion 
speed pills next year despite the Rangoon government's policy to rid 
Burma of drugs in five years.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Bangkok Post: Burma situation discussed 

October 16, 2001.

Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and British ambassador Lloyd 
Smith met yesterday to discuss the national reconciliation process in 
Burma, a defence source said. 
Mr Smith said he was concerned about a reported conflict among the junta 
leaders which could pose a setback to the process, said the source. 

Gen Chavalit assured the ambassador there was no conflict among Burmese 
strongmen Gen Than Shwe, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and Gen Maung Aye. 

The minister said he was confident the process would get under way soon. 
Gen Chavalit has close ties with the Burmese military leaders. 

A dialogue process is under way between Rangoon and opposition leader 
Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt has asked Gen Chavalit to get the rebel groups 
The minister would begin with the Kaya rebels and the Karen National 
Union. The Shan State Army would be left until later as it had set a 
large number of conditions


Bangkok Post: Nationwide crackdown on illegal labour begins in two weeks 

October 16, 2001.
Nationwide crackdowns on illegal alien labour will begin on Oct 29 after 
the extended registration period ends, says Labour Minister Dej 

Workplace inspections would start the day before and a proposal to fine 
lawbreakers would go to cabinet soon. Officials were already preparing 
for the crackdown, the minister said. 

The official deadline expired on Saturday. Foreign workers who failed to 
tell the Labour Ministry about their intention to register are no longer 
eligible to register during the extended period. 

A small number of foreign workers turned up at registration centres 
yesterday but many requests were rejected because they had come in too 
Employees serving restaurants, hotels, bars, massage parlours and 
karaoke bars made up the biggest group of applicants before yesterday, 
94,279 of whom were Burmese, 20,816 from Laos, and 7,519 others from 


Chiang Mai News (Thailand):  Burmese workers in Chiang Mai

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

    October was a busy month for illegal workers in Chiang Mai and the 
provincial hall, who were busy registering and legalising Laos, 
Cambodian and Burmese illegal workers. Household help, labourers, 
waitpersons and farm workers who have no id cards and are working here 
illegally were allowed to register for a work permit at the provincial 
hall and the deadline for this was the 28th of October.

    Estimates are that there are around 16,000 -20,000 illegal workers 
in Chiang Mai who registered, but those under the age of 19 were not 
allowed to register and their numbers must surely be very high also.


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