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BurmaNet News: October 20-21, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: October 20-21, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 01:22:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
October 20-21, 2001 Issue # 1902
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AFP: Myanmar imposes curfews after religious clashes
*Xinhua: Roundup: Myanmar Takes Measures in Tobacco Use Control
*Reuters: Moderate earthquake hits northwest Myanmar
*Reuters: Korea Daewoo to sell rights to hunt gas in Myanmar
*Mizzima: Security tightened along international border
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Border Pass reopened
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Villagers flees from death threat
*Kyodo: 8 Myanmar soldiers killed by rebel-laid land mines
*Bangkok Post: Drugs - Army Counts on Helpful Neighbours
*AFP: Myanmar to chair committee on regional railway
*AFP: Cuba, Myanmar sign accord on bilateral cooperation *Mizzima: Envoy
got full cooperation from Burmese govt.: UN
*Free Burma Coalition: Student Leader Marks 39th Birthday Behind Bars in
*Grant Announcement from the ASIA Fellows Program
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AFP: Myanmar imposes curfews after religious clashes
YANGON, Oct 21 (AFP) - Myanmar's military government has imposed curfews
in several northern towns following clashes between Muslims, Buddhists
and state riot police in recent weeks, a government official said
Long-standing tension between some members of the Muslim and Buddhist
communities intensified on October 8 after a local religious dispute in
Myanmar's Bago district touched off conflicts in neighbouring towns.
Officials say a clash ensued between Muslims and Buddhist monks in
Prome, also known as Pyay, over a rumour that a Buddhist woman who
eloped with a Muslim man had been forced to convert to Islam.
Myanmar riot police intervened as Buddhist monks reportedly tried to
ransack a Muslim-owned pharmacy, the spokesman said, adding that no one
was hurt in the melee.
"In Pyay on October 8 and 9 there was a quarrel between religions due
to some rumours fabricated by unsavoury elements to deliberately create
misunderstanding between religions," the spokesman said in a statement.
"The local authorities together with leaders of both religions in Bago
swiftly worked together to bring the situation back to normal and a
precautionary curfew has been imposed."
Myanmar officials have bolstered security in the towns of Pyay and
Pegu, in the Bago division north of Yangon, and Taungoo since the
September 11 attacks on the United States and amid the US-led strikes
The historically volatile towns are home to devout Buddhists and
Muslims alike and have become a focal point for Myanmar security forces
who are reportedly restricting travel by Muslims, local sources say.
The curfews from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am are seen locally as an indication
that the junta is clamping down more than usual to prevent rioting over
the fighting in Afghanistan, which has stirred tremendous interest here.
Local newspapers and magazines have seized on the US-led strikes while
state media has not carried reports of the religious clashes in Bago
division and Taungoo.
Meanwhile, a heavy security presence has been laid out around the US,
British and Israeli embassies and diplomatic residences and major Muslim
mosques in Myanmar are under close surveillance, local sources say.
Xinhua: Roundup: Myanmar Takes Measures in Tobacco Use Control
By Duan Tingchang
YANGON, October 20 (Xinhua) -- Among Myanmar's general population, the
prevalence use of tobacco is 38 percent, of whom men account for 63
percent, according to official statistics. In the country's urban
general population, 46.6 percent use tobacco. Of students aged 10 to 20
years, 44.6 percent have experienced smoking.
Total tobacco consumption is in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 cigarettes
per adult per year. Smoking not only constitutes a major threat to the
health of human being and an impact on social and economic development,
but also brings about pollution to the environment. In face of the many
dangers brought about through tobacco, the Myanmar government is
positively responding to the call by the World Health Organization
(WHO), taking control of the cultivation of tobacco and production of
cigarettes and working towards gradual realization of the target of
The Myanmar government has mainly taken the following measures in
tobacco control. Firstly, disseminate health education messages via mass
media as well as exhibitions to promote the community awareness on
tobacco control, urging people to actively participate in the anti-
tobacco activities. Secondly, ban cigarette advertisements in the
newspapers and TV and ban sale of cigarettes near the environs of
hospitals and schools.
Thirdly, designate no smoking areas. The Myanmar government bans
smoking in all hospitals, schools, cinema halls, factories and
government offices as well as buses, trains, boats, airplanes and at the
airport. Fourthly, draw up and implement anti-tobacco plan of action and
draft law on smoking control. The Myanmar government introduced a plan
of action in July 2000 and is now in the process of implementation. In
addition, an expert committee has drafted a law on smoking control and
is in the process of scrutiny at the Ministry of Health.
According to the data published by the WHO, Myanmar has been producing
an average of 40,000 tons of unmanufactured tobacco annually since 1990,
equivalent to 0.5 percent of the world production. In 2000-01 fiscal
year, Myanmar produced 2.521 billion cigarettes, taking up 0.1 percent
of the world total.
Myanmar owns two tobacco manufacturing factories with a total of 88,400
people engaged in work related to tobacco. Myanmar grows two types of
tobacco -- Virginia and Myanmar tobacco. In mid-1980s, Myanmar's total
harvested area of tobacco reached up to 53,460 hectares. At the end of
the 20th century, Myanmar's total tobacco harvested area declined to
36,045 hectares, accounting for only 0. 5 percent of the country's
arable land. To realize as early as possible the target of a world
tobacco- free, the Myanmar government has called for enhancing of
cooperation and coordination among countries against tobacco, urging
developed countries to provide necessary aid to the developing
Reuters: Moderate earthquake hits northwest Myanmar
YANGON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - A moderate earthquake shook northwest
Myanmar, but there were no reports of damage or loss of life, officials
said on Saturday.
The quake, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, struck near Sittwe, the
capital of Rakhine State, at around 1:30 p.m. (0730 GMT) on Friday.
``We haven't heard anything about damage or fatalities yet,'' said an
official from the meteorology and hydrology department.
``We don't think there would be severe damage because the intensity was
moderate and there are no high-rise buildings.''
Reuters: Korea Daewoo to sell rights to hunt gas in Myanmar
Friday October 19, 3:12 PM
SEOUL, Oct 19 (Reuters) - South Korea's Daewoo International Corp.
<47050.KS>, former trading arm of the now-defunct Daewoo Group, said on
Friday it planned to sell some of its natural gas exploration rights in
Daewoo International is in talks with India's ONGC Videsh Ltd, a
subsidiary of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation , Gas Authority of India
Ltd. and Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS)
<36460.KS> for the sale of rights in an offshore gas block in western
Myanmar, Daewoo spokesman Kim Bum-seok told Reuters.
"Daewoo International is planning to sell about 30 percent of its stake
in the block with 20 percent of it going to ONGC and the remaining 10
percent expected to go to either to GAIL or to KOGAS," Kim said.
Daewoo International was granted development rights in the block in the
Bengal basin from the Myanmar government in August last year, Kim said.
The company, in the second phase of its feasibility study, has so far
estimated natural gas reserves of a minimum of three trillion cubic feet
worth $100 million, he said.
More detailed study may reveal more gas reserves, he said.
Exploratory drilling will be decided in 2003 and commercial production
will begin in 2008, the spokesman said.
ONGC Videsh said on October 1 it was in talks with Daewoo International
for the gas exploration block as the domestic output of state-run ONGC,
India's largest oil exploration firm, has been falling because its main
oil fields are declining.
Daewoo International was spun off from Daewoo Corp last December. Shares
of Daewoo International ended up 40 won at 1,650 on Friday, while the
benchmark index <.KS11> rose 0.73 percent.
Mizzima: Security tightened along international border
By our correspondent
Guwahati, Oct. 21: The security forces engaged in counter insurgency
operations have stepped up vigilance along the international border in
view of spurting activities of Muslim fundamentalists. After the US
attack on Afghanistan, a new militant group- Islamic Security Force of
India (ISFI) - has expanded its activities in Assam, Tripura and Manipur
with active support from the neighboring countries posing a serious
threat to the region.
The activities of the militant group came to light following recovery of
vital documents from a remote area along the Indo-Bhutan border .The
ISFI was constituted in Mumbai last year with the help of Al-Qaeda
headed by Osama Bin Laden and now it has expanded the network in the
North East India with active support of a section of Muslim to launch a
Jehad against the Indian government. What is more alarming is that the
militant group has close links with the Hizbul Mujahideen, Laskar
-E-Toiba, and Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) through which it
has been abetting terrorism in the country.
All these militant groups have been providing financial assistance and
arms and ammunition to the ISFI for expanding ISLAMISM in the region
.The self- styled General Secretary of the outfit Mustafa Mutwaqil is
maintaining a cordial relation with the fundamentalist of both
Bangladesh and Pakistan to launch a Jehad against the Indian government,
the evidence of which was found in the documents recovered from the area
It is pertinent to mention that the North East region has been a hotbed
of the Muslim Fundamentalists due to its population structure, which has
become a matter of concern. Taking advantage of porous international
border, the Muslim fundamentalists have been spurring militancy leading
to a major problem for the security forces.
Highly placed security forces sources monitoring the situation in the
North East admitted that it would create a serious problem if timely
actions are not initiated. They however said that some pockets of the
region have been identified as sensitive in the context of stepped up
activities of the militant groups and more companies have been deployed
accordingly to foil the evil design of the militant groups. "We have
divided the region into four parts in view of the growing activities of
the Muslim Fundamentalists in the aftermath of the ongoing war in
Afghanistan?, sources said. Moreover, security sources further revealed
that the ISFI has started recruiting Muslim youths from the Char areas
taking advantage of their illiteracy. Meanwhile the Unified Command
Operations, which have been going on for the last 7 years, have decided
to review their operations to contain the activities of the
Shan Herald Agency for News: Border Pass reopened
20 October 2001
The border pass between a township in eastern Shan State and Chiangmai
was reopened yesterday (19 October) by the military authorities of Burma
after being closed for close to three months, said S.H.A.N. source from
The weekly market at BP-1, between Mongton and Shan State, was full with
both visitors and traders from across the border who came in as many as
40 trucks, which is half the number of trucks that came to the market
before 26 June, when it was ordered sealed.
The reason, the source believed, was due to the visit to Mongton by a
top official, presumably Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, 4 days earlier. "At 16:45, a
helicopter gunship arrived at Mongton. It stayed there for only
15-minutes. But soon afterwards, an order went out to reopen all the
checkpoints from Wanna (the gateway to Mongton from Mongpan) to BP-1,"
On 17 October, a group of Thai businessmen had petitioned to Kosin
Katethong, Governor of Chiangmai, to designate BP-1 (Kiew Phawok) a
permanent border pass. The governor replied it would be up to the
National Security Council to decide.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Villagers flees from death threat
20 October 2001
Shan villagers who arrived recently in Thailand's northern border
reported that they could stay no more in their ancestral land because of
the threat to the lives of their families, according to a report
S.H.A.N. received yesterday.
8 villagers together with their family members who sought sanctuary in
Fang, 160 km from Chiangmai, said they were from Naniu Village, Wanna
Tract, Mongton township, the seat of which is 83 km from the Thai
On 4 October, 17 of the villagers, that included themselves, received an
order from Captain Maung Shwe, Commander, Company 3, LIB 519 (Mongton)
to build fences and dig ditches around the company base camp. "One of
us, Loong Kaw, 53, was ill and, as a result, could work only very slowly
and took too much rest. The soldiers accused him of being lazy and
kicked him until he became unconscious. They then took a big stick and
beat him at the nape of the neck once and he fell down dead in the
ditch," said one.
Maung Shwe then lined up the rest and warned them not to utter a word
about the incident because the alternative would be death to all of them
and their families.
The villagers also had another "bonus", said another source. They had to
pay for the transport of Loong Kaw's remains back to the village, K
The incident occurred while the ILO investigation team was still in
Burma. The country, according to Rangoon authorities, had already banned
forced labor since 14 May 1999.
Kyodo: 8 Myanmar soldiers killed by rebel-laid land mines
MAE SOT, Oct. 19, Kyodo - Eight Myanmar soldiers were killed and 15
others injured late Wednesday from land mines laid by ethnic Karen
rebels of the Karen National Union (KNU) near Myanmar's border with
Thailand, a Thai military source said Friday.
The incident took place in an area of Myanmar opposite the Phop Phra
district of Thailand's Tak Province, some 500 kilometers northwest of
The rebels have recently stepped up their offensive against Myanmar
Earlier this week, three Myanmar soldiers were shot to death in a border
area of Kayin State opposite Thailand's Mae Sot Province.
The KNU is the largest armed group of Karens. It took up arms against
the central government in Yangon in 1949 to fight for establishment of a
federal union in which all the states would have equal rights and the
right to self-determination.
Bangkok Post: Drugs - Army Counts on Helpful Neighbours
October 21, 2001.
Security stepped up on trafficking routes
Subin Khuenkaew Shinawat Singha
The Third Army commander hopes to stamp out drug trafficking with the
co-operation of three neighbouring countries.
Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkhasingh said the anti-drug drive could get a boost
from joint patrol operations along the Mekong river by Thailand, China,
Burma and Laos. The idea was raised at a recent meeting in Beijing
between the countries.
``It is being considered by the Foreign Ministry. Personally, I believe
it would benefit us all. I hope to use such operations in suppressing
drugs,'' he said.
Lt-Gen Udomchai was happy to hear that drug manufacturing plants on the
Burmese border were moving further inland.
Some were reportedly moved along the Burmese-Lao border close to the
The commander said security would be stepped up in areas thought to
serve as trafficking routes.
``The Mekong river is likely to be used to smuggle drugs,'' said Lt-Gen
Special Task Force 399 had been deployed along the Burmese border in
Tak's Phrop Phra district.
The task force is an elite unit, well-equipped and specially trained for
ground operations at night.
Lt-Gen Udomchai believed Burma was sincere in its efforts to solve
border problems, especially trafficking.
He said booby traps which injured four Thai soldiers on a patrol mission
in Mae Hong Son's Pang Ma Pha district were not planted by drug
The traps might have been planted by Burmese ethnic rebels to guard
against attacks by Rangoon troops, he said.
AFP: Myanmar to chair committee on regional railway
YANGON, Oct 21 (AFP) - Myanmar will lead a working group to plan a
regional railway linking Singapore and China, government officials told
the Myanmar Times newspaper.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Khin Maung Win said Myanmar would
chair the committee starting January 1, according to the weekly's
edition to be published Monday.
It said the exact route for the railway, which would connect Singapore
and the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, would be decided at the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Brunei next
Myanmar has reportedly made plans for the proposed railway to include a
spur line linking Bayar Thone Su, on the border with Thailand, with
Mawlamyine, about 190 miles east of Yangon.
Myanmar was selected to chair the working group at a ministerial
meeting of the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation (AMBDC) forum
in the Thai city of Chiang Rai earlier this month.
The meeting focused on fund-raising for the project, with Khin Maung
Win reportedly saying that money for the railway would be scarcer in
light of the global economic downturn.
But the project would benefit from contributions through the Asian
Development Bank from Japan and South Korea, who had been observers at
earlier AMBDC meets but were approved by the committee as fully fledged
"We believe their participation is very important because they are more
economically advanced than the AMBDC states," Khin Maung Win was quoted
AFP: Cuba, Myanmar sign accord on bilateral cooperation
BANGKOK, Oct 20 (AFP) - Cuba and the ruling Myanmar military junta have
signed an agreement to boost bilateral cooperation on economic and
technological issues, state-run media reported Saturday.
The agreement was signed in Yangon by deputy Cuban Foreign Minister
Jose Armando Guerra Menchero and his Myanmar counterpart Khin Maung Win,
TV Myanmar said in a dispatch monitored here.
Guerra Menchero is heading a delegation that arrived in Myanmar on
The Cuban minister held separate meetings with several Myanmar
ministers including the junta's powerful secretary general Lieutenant
General Khin Nyunt and Foreign Minister Win Aung, TV Myanmar said.
No further details of the discussions were given.
Mizzima: Envoy got full cooperation from Burmese govt.: UN
Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)
Oct. 18: The United Nations today said that its Special Envoy on Human
Rights in Burma received full cooperation from the Burmese government
during his recent mission to the military-run Burma. But the opposition
political quarters in the country had criticized the envoy that he did
not spend enough time with them.
?(T)he Special Rapporteur said he had received full and unhindered
cooperation on the part of the Myanmar Government during this mission?,
said the United Nations press release today.
The special envoy Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro arrived Burma on October 9
on his first fact-finding mission and planned to stay there until
Saturday. However he cut short his visit for health reasons and returned
to his native Brazil on Wednesday.
In the press release, the United Nations said that the Brazilian
academic hoped to return to Burma as soon as his health condition
allows. ?He said he hoped to be able to return to Myanmar as soon as his
health permits to pursue his fact-finding mission and efforts to develop
partnership with all interested parties towards improving the human
rights situation in the country?.
Prof. Pinheiro first visited Burma in April this year as an ?exploratory
visit? after being appointed as special envoy in February by U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. His predecessor, Rajsoomer Lallah, was
never allowed to visit Burma by the military regime.
During his visit, the Special Rapporteur met with military government
officials, ethnic minority leaders and leaders of National League for
Democracy (NLD), including Aung San Suu Kyi who remains under house
arrest in Rangoon. The NLD won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections
but never handed over power by the military junta.
The United Nations said that Prof. Pinheiro and his team also visited
prisons in Mandalay and Shan State and a university in Sagaing Division.
Due to an ailment, his planned visits to Kachin State, Insein prison,
and a labour camp near the capital Rangoon had to be cancelled.
While he was still in Burma, a spokesman for the opposition National
League for Democracy (NLD) Party criticized him for ?not spending enough
time consulting with local communities?.
Free Burma Coalition: Student Leader Marks 39th Birthday Behind Bars in
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 18, 2001
Jeremy Woodrum, Aung Din (202) 547-5985
Students in Six Countries call for Release of Political Prisoner
WASHINGTON ? Burmese student leader and political prisoner Min Ko Naing
spent his twelfth consecutive birthday behind bars today. Students in
the United States, Thailand, Belgium, the Philippines, the Czech
Republic, and Canada are holding events calling for his immediate
?If the military regime is honest about its hopes for democracy, it
should free Min Ko Naing and the other 1,800 political prisoners
immediately? said Aung Din of the Washington, DC-based Free Burma
Coalition, referring to recent statements by the regime that it is
talking with Burma?s 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and plans to establish democracy in the country.
Around the world, activists will hold ceremonies and send letters to
embassies of Burma?s ruling military regime calling for Min Ko Naing?s
freedom. In the U.S. and Canada, over 30 universities and colleges will
take part in efforts to stop American companies from propping up Burma?s
regime. Much of the actions will focus on UNOCAL, the California-based
oil company that is being sued for human rights violations associated
with its pipeline venture in Burma. Students and faculty will call on
the TIAA-CREF pension fund, a major investor in UNOCAL, to pressure the
company to withdraw from Burma. Thousands of university and college
professors invest retirement money in TIAA-CREF.
?We don?t think our teachers should pay for their retirement with money
earned from repression in Burma,? said Pamela Bertelson, a student at
American University and leader of the campus chapter of the Free Burma
Min Ko Naing has been imprisoned since 1989 for his role in organizing
nationwide demonstrations in Burma, in which millions of Burmese marched
on the streets and called for a transition to a democratic government
after decades of military rule. The military regime violently suppressed
the uprising, killing as many as 10,000 nonviolent demonstrators. Min Ko
Naing was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a military tribunal, a
sentence that was later shortened to 10 years. He remains imprisoned
under the State Protection Act even though his sentence has been
Then-Congressman Bill Richardson, who later became Secretary of Energy
under President Clinton, was the last Westerner to visit Min Ko Naing,
in 1994. It was reported that Min Ko Naing refused an offer by the
regime to be exiled to the United States in exchange for giving up the
struggle for democracy. Instead, he asked the Congressman to relay a
message to his fellow students, ?Don't give up.?
Grant Announcement from the ASIA Fellows Program
October 11, 2001
The ASIA Fellows Program is pleased to announce its fourth round of
competition for the grants to conduct studies/research projects in a
participating Asian country for up to nine months. The competition is
open to young and mid-career Asian scholars and public intellectuals,
including policy makers, journalists, and media professionals.
Applications are accepted for projects in the arts, humanities and
social sciences. The deadline for 2002-2003 applications is January 11,
The Program announcement is enclosed for your information. [see bottom
of message] Further information can be found from the Program website:
Or be requested from:
ASIA Fellows Program
Institute of International Education (IIE)
518/3 Panunee Bldg. 6th Fl., Ploenchit Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Tel:
(66-2) 652-0653-4 Fax: (66-2) 652-0633
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