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BurmaNet News: October 23, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
October 23, 2001 Issue # 1904
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*DVB : Buddhist-Muslim riots
*Radio Free Asia: Clashes Erupt In Central Burma, Pegu City Under Curfew
*Narinjara News: Famine creeps silently into Rakhine State, Myanmar
*Narinjara News: Forced Collection of Money for Labourers
*Burma Courier/Network Media Group: Red Cross Declares Prisoners Unfit
for Hard Labour
*Burma Courier: Khin Nyunt Turns Gloomy over Economic Prospects
*BurmaNet: Little known Rohingya group alleged to be part of bin Ladin
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Chance clash misses drug haul
*Burma Courier: Ex-dictator's "Health" Still a Hot Topic
*BurmaNet: Op/Ed Column--The Talks in Rangoon: Where to from here?
*Chin National Front: [Report on the Fourth Party Central Committee]
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
DVB : Buddhist-Muslim riots
Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma on 19 October
DVB has learnt that the Buddhist-Muslim riots which occurred in Prome on
9 October has spread to Pegu, Pakokku, and other towns. DVB tried to
contact some monasteries in Pegu and one monk gave the following
[Unidentified monk] Yes.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Reverend, I am calling from Norway. I heard that there
were some clashes between the Buddhists and the Muslims in Pegu. I
would like to ask about that.
[Unidentified monk] I don't know whether you should call it a clash with
the Muslims. About 100 monks became dissatisfied with the Muslims and
the authorities, as a precautionary measure, issued a curfew under
Section-144 in Pegu.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] The problem is between the monks and the police.
[Unidentified monk] Well, there was a clash with the police and a
scuffle broke out. Later the authorities issued a curfew under
Section-144. There was no casualty just some wounded.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] How did the problem start?
[Unidentified monk] The problem started with a war of words between a
Muslim and some young novice monks from the teaching monastery.
According to what we heard, he said something like an alms beggar
without mentioning monks intrinsically. But the monks took it as an
insult, got into an argument, and fighting broke out. The police
intervened and the disturbances started.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Where did it happen?
[Unidentified monk] It happened in the eastern part of Pegu. I don't
know about the western part.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Yes, Reverend. I heard that after the Prome incident,
it spread to Pegu, and then some other towns. What can you say?
[Unidentified monk] I also heard about the incidents in Toungoo and
Prome. The authorities, fearing similar violent riots like in Prome and
Toungoo, issued a dusk to dawn curfew.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] What is the latest situation since it is night there?
[Unidentified monk] From this morning to 2030 [1400 gmt] tonight, 19
October, there is nothing unusual. Everything is calm and normal. There
is nothing on the roads. Of course, the dusk-to-dawn curfew is still in
place. There are no further disturbances...
Similarly, religious riots broke out in Pakokku, central Burma, on 16
October where at least one Muslim was seriously injured while two
Buddhist monks were arrested. A trader from Pakokku gave the following
[Unidentified trader] Yes, it did happen, but it was not that serious.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] In what way?
[Unidentified trader] Well, fighting broke out on a minor scale between
the Indians [Muslims] and the Buddhist monks. One Indian had to be
admitted to a hospital.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] When did it happen?
[Unidentified trader] I am not quite certain but it was two days ago.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Was any curfew imposed?
[Unidentified trader] No.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] You mean, there weren't any security personnel
[Unidentified trader] There are security personnel.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] According to what we heard it started from a marriage
problem in Prome. How did it all start in Pakokku?
[Unidentified trader] It started with a Muslim wearing their traditional
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Do you mean a Muslim went to town in an attire to
attend a mosque?
[Unidentified trader] Yes, in a similar sense.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Were the Muslims beaten by the monks?
[Unidentified trader] Yes. Two monks were defrocked and arrested. They
are both in custody now.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] The Muslim guy was admitted to hospital, wasn't he?
[Unidentified trader] Yes and his injury required two stitches.
DVB tried to contact the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council]
authorities but to no avail. SPDC spokesman Col Hla Min told foreign
news agencies that it was true a night curfew was imposed in Prome last
week but there was nothing serious. According to latest reports
received by DVB, a dusk to dawn curfew remains in place in Prome with
many security forces stationed there. Similarly, the SPDC has posted
security forces near monasteries, mosques, and thoroughfares in
Mandalay, Pakokku, Taunggyi, Toungoo, Syriam, and Akyab. At the same
time, the SPDC authorities have severely restricted the travel of
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 19 Oct 01
Radio Free Asia: Clashes Erupt In Central Burma, Pegu City Under Curfew
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - Burma?s central city of Pegu was under curfew
Friday following a clash between Moslems and Buddhists in the 16th
century capital, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
A disagreement Monday in Hinthagone Ward between a Moslem pharmacy owner
and several Buddhist monks sparked the clash, according to a monk who
asked not to be named. No one was seriously injured, several local
residents said. ?It all started over the purchase of some medicine by a
monk. After an argument, the monks assaulted the shopkeeper,? a monk who
witnessed the incident told RFA.
Government security forces, called in to restore order, then clashed
with the Buddhist monks and imposed a 6:00 p.m.- 6:00 a.m. curfew,
according to witnesses interviewed by phone from Pegu.
They detained several monks and sent others back to their hometowns in
northern Burma, the witnesses said. All the monks involved were
reportedly students at the Thathana Mandaing monastery.
As of Friday, the curfew remained in force from 8:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m.
and the city had returned to normal, witnesses said.
U Kyaw Hla, president of the Moslem Liberation Organization of Burma,
sought to downplay the clashes in an interview from the Thai-Burmese
border. "I can't understand how a clash can start over the purchase of
medicine by a Buddhist monk at a pharmacy owned by a Moslem,? he said,
but noted other recent violence between Buddhists and Moslems in Prome.
Narinjara News: Famine creeps silently into Rakhine State, Myanmar
Cox's Bazaar, 22 October: In Minggan and Rinnabraung quarters of
Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State, at least three people have died of
starvation last week, according to our correspondent from the town.
Reports of starvation in Hmainjee, another quarter near the military
garrison, and from other remote areas of Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Ponnagyun
and Paletwa townships have also been reported. The price of rice, the
staple food grain of Myanmar, has risen sharply in the western part of
Myanmar, Rakhine State and Chin State in recent weeks, our correspondent
adds. People now buy a bag of rice at 8,000 kyats, while the price was
below 5,000 kyats a couple of weeks ago. With the fear of a war in
Afghanistan, and its long shadow over Southeast Asia, people specially
the Muslim community have started panic buying and hoarding rice.
The smuggling of rice into Bangladesh has also accelerated. Meanwhile,
the military regime has been shipping thousands of tons of rice weekly
from Sittwe to Yangon, the capital city, since the beginning of the
rainy season in May this year. Carrying rice from one township to
another is banned in the state unless a written permission is obtained
from the Township Peace and Development Council. Yet bribing the
officials, smugglers usually take out boatloads of rice through
waterways to Bangladesh. In many remote parts of the state, the
villagers have to eat rice gruel and look for wild yam or anything worth
eating, our correspondent adds.
The picture there is that, because of wholesale forced labour in most of
the townships during the monsoons this year, when it was agriculture
season in Rakhine, the farmers and peasants failed to attend to their
rice paddies. It is feared that, there will be a shortage of rice in
Rakhine State, this year. Though the harvest season is near, famine has
crept into the remote villages in this fertile part of Myanmar. The
government sell rice and some other daily necessities, through
'cooperative' ration shops, only to the government service holders so
that the general public face very difficult times ahead.
Narinjara News: Forced Collection of Money for Labourers
Cox's Bazaar, 23 October: Though there is no more call for forced labour
in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in the western part of Myanmar,
the residents of the township have to provide monthly monetary
contribution to the State Peace and Development Council Junta through
the township authority, according to a woman trader from Sittwe,
speaking to our correspondent at the border area. At Phayre Street in
the town, Ya-wa-ta or Residential Quarter Peace and Development Council
Chairman U Saw Maung collects the monthly compulsory contribution of 800
kyat for each family at Paloktaung. At Rupa-north quarter Chairman U
Maung Nu collects at least 500 kyat a family every month. The picture
is the same in all the towns of Rakhine State, she added. Sometimes the
residents are made to pay more than once in a month in order to repair
roads, for the reception ceremony of the SPDC high-ranking officials
from Yangon, for cleanliness drive, etc. Though there is no more
conscription for forced labour in the towns, there are still wide scale
practice of forced labour in the remote villages across the state.
Burma Courier/Network Media Group: Red Cross Declares Prisoners Unfit
for Hard Labour
Based on news from the Network Media Group: October 17, 2001
MOREH (at the Indo-Burma border) -- A total of 200 prisoners from Monywa
are to be sent to hard labour camps in the Tamu district of on the
They will replace more than 120 convicts who were sent back to their
prisons on October 15 on the recommendation of the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has been conducting visits to
the hard labout prison camps run by Burma's military government.
Those sent back include 39 from Oakpho hard-labor camp, 60 from Saya San
camp and 24 from Yazagyo No 1 camp. The ICRC recommended that they
should not be forced to do hard labor due to their health or their
advanced age or because some were too young.
The conditions of the prisoners at the so-called "new life project" in
the hard labour camps has deteriorated due to long hours, insufficient
food and malaria. An internal report of the prisons department of the
Home Affairs Ministry obtained through a leak showed that the mortality
rate of the prisoners in the hard labour camps ranged from 24 to 30
percent every year. A prisoner who escaped from the Saya San camp
earlier this year told an investigator from the Chin Human Rights
Organization that 70 prisoners out of total 450 had died during the
three months he was confined there.
The investigation team from the ICRC visited the Indo-Burma border camps
and made the recommendation at that time.
Burma Courier: Khin Nyunt Turns Gloomy over Economic Prospects
Based on news from NLM, Myanmar Times, BBC: Updated to Oct 18, 2001
RANGOON - Gen Khin Nyunt of the ruling military council has warned that
Burma's economy will not escape the effects of the global economic
shakedown resulting from the terrorist attacks in the United States in
"The international situation today is greatly complicated and delicate.
It may be seen that vast transformations taking place in the world are
having unbelievably adverse effects on the world economy," Khin Nyunt
told an audience of cabinet ministers and top-level civil servants who
were present at the closing ceremony of course for diplomatic personnel
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "There is no doubt that this
situation will have a negative impact on small countries like ours that
are not economically strong.,"
The sombre tone of Khin Nyunt's remarks on the economy contrasted
sharply with a chirpy, upbeat speech by the regime's GenThan Shwe in
Kuala Lumpur three weeks ago. He told potential investors of the
national chamber of commerce there that Myanmar was "economically
vibrant and dynamic" and "on the threshold of rapid economic growth",
urging them to combine Malaysia's technology and capital with Myanmar's
great human and natural resources.
A World Bank report this week said that economic growth in Asia's tiger
economies would slow by 40% this year. It said that output in its east
Asia reporting region, which includes the ASEAN countries, growth would
be down to 4.6% this year from 7.3% in 2000.
Although the region's poorer economies, such as Burma, Laos, Cambodia
and Vietnam, might not suffer as badly, the implications for individual
citizens of the growth slide could nonetheless prove severe.
Investment delays in the wealthier economies of the region caused by
lack of consumer confidence and purchasing power will mean fewer jobs
and less household income, according to Hosni Kharas, the bank's chief
economist for East Asia and the Pacific. "This outcome will certainly
be bad news for the world's poor," he said.
The report follows bank predictions that the world's poor will be the
worst hit by the global slowdown, made much worse by the terrorist
In order to prepare for the impending crisis in Burma, Khin Nyunt said,
SPDC chairman, General Than Shwe, had urged "increased productivity" and
the "frugal use of electricity and lubricants". He did not elaborate
There was little evidence that the military regime was taking its own
advice on frugality and reduction in energy consumption very seriously.
A story in the Myanmar Times (see below) said the junta would keep in
place an expensive fuel subsidies for oil and gasoline consumption and
the national airline laid on extra flights inside the country. A news
item in the Sept 15 edition of Bangkok's Nation newspaper said that that
Thailand's national oil company, PTT, had been contracted for the first
time to supply between five million to seven million litres of diesel
and petrol a month to the regime in eastern Shan state. PTT will also
provide a million litres of lubricant a year for delivery to the
And there seems to be no lack of aviation fuel to power the flights of
the top coterie of generals, including Khin Nyunt, all over the country
to carry out "inspection" tours of everything from pagoda gilding
projects to groundnut farms.
BurmaNet: Little known Rohingya group alleged to be part of bin Ladin
October 23, 2001
The Independent Bangladesh, referring to unnamed diplomats and analysts
has identified the little known Arakan-Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) as
being the most likely group that Osama bin Ladin was referring to when
he reportedly referred to Burma as one of the countries where his
organization has forces present. The basis for identifying ARIF as a
terrorist organization in league with bin Ladin's Al-Qaeda is, thus far,
exceedingly tenuous. It amounts to one Bangladeshi newspaper citing
unnamed sources reacting to the BBC's translation of what a Pakistani
newspaper claims bin Ladin said. The article in question also appears
to reflect an effort by the Bangladeshi government to duck criticism
based on the fact that ARIF is based there.
Based on BurmaNet's research, here is what is, and is not known about
the Arakan-Rohingya Islamic Front.
First, what is not known: On the most important question--whether ARIF
has any connection to bin Ladin--there is very little evidence.
According to Jane's Intelligence Review, some Burmese Muslims have been
trained in camps in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda has some presence in Burma.
That the connection would be among the Rohingya groups is not
implausible but no evidence has been offered to support the allegations.
Now, for what is known: The current leader of the Arakan-Rohingya
Islamic Front appears to be Nurul Islam and the Deputy Chairman is Br.
Salimullah. ARIF is an armed group fighting the regime and probably has
fewer than 200 men under arms. It is based in Bangladesh and was
created in 1986 or 1987 but appears to be less active in the last few
years. The Bangladesh government has long tolerated the presence of
insurgent groups active against Burma just as the regime allows
Bangladeshi insurgent groups to operate from its territory.
ARIF was formed by the merger of Narul Islam's breakaway faction of the
Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) and an older group, the Rohingya
Patriotic Front. The RSO was formed in the early 1980s but the Rohingya
Patriotic Front has roots that go back much further. In 1964, the
Rohingya Islamic Force went into revolt over abuses in the Arakan State
by the Burma Army and in1973 became, or merged into the Rohingya
According to materials on Burma published by the US Department of
Justice, the Rohingya Patriotic Front force was formed by Muslims who
had supported Britain during World War II against the Japanese and its
Burma Independence Army allies. The association with the British
heightened Burmese suspicions of Muslims as traitors and led to the
repression which drove them into revolt.
The Justice Department materials refer to ARIF and the Rohingya
Solidarity Organization as rivals within the Rohingya Patriotic Front.
In 1991, ARIF called for the immediate transfer of power to the NLD and
sought to join the Democratic Alliance of Burma which is an umbrella of
both ethnic and Burman organizations opposed to the regime. Due to
intense opposition by the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), no Rohingya
organizations have been accepted as DAB members. The ALP is made of
ethnic Rakhine Buddhists who, like the regime, do not recognize Muslim
Rohingya as one of Burma's 'national races' or as citizens of Burma.
Wire service reports in 1995 refer to a merger of ARIF with the Rohingya
Solidarity Organization to form the Rohingya National Alliance (RNA) but
the merger appears to have been short lived. At least since 1996 ARIF
has been reporting abuses of Muslims in Burma to the International
Shan Herald Agency for News: Chance clash misses drug haul
October 23, 2001
An improvised ambush staged by Shans on Sunday (21 October) fell short
of capturing the drugs heading for Thailand, said a source from the
border this morning.
The attack by Sergeant Kham and 7 fighters from the Shan State Army's
727th Brigade at 0830-0845 was launched between Mongharng and Maeken,
about 40 miles from the Thai border. According to the source, 3 trucks
were destroyed, 12 Burmese troops killed and another 5 wounded. The
attackers retired after another 15 truckloads of Burmese soldiers
arrived on the scene.
"One of the vehicles were two ethnic Chinese from Sinjai village,
Chaiprakarn District, 120 km north of Chiangmai," said the source. "One
was identified as Lao Wu. They had just purchased 150,000 yaba pills at
the price of B.11 per pill and were traveling with LIB 328 (Mongkhark)
to the border."
They had bought the said drugs from Captain Han Sein, Commander, Company
2, IB 65 (Mongton). Han Sein is known as the main salesperson in the
The Shan State Army's Information Department, however, said only 2
"enemy soldiers" were killed and 1 wounded.
Burma Courier: Ex-dictator's "Health" Still a Hot Topic
Courier News Service: October 16, 2001
RANGOON - Rumours continued to abound this week about the well-being or
lack-of-it of Burma's former strongman U Ne Win. The 90-year-old was
flown back to Rangoon last week after spending a week in a hospital in
Singapore, reportedly suffering from heart problems.
The Myanmarpyi news service reported former staff members had denied
that Ne Win had been in a coma in Singapore, saying that he was "strong
and healthy, as usual". Reliable sources had also 'revealed' that
ex-military boss of Burma had never been involved in the country's
politics since the day he resigned, the on-line journal said.
Nevertheless, reports of the demise of the general who bossed Burma for
thirty years continued to pop up on Internet news groups. 'Dragon'
wrote from New Zealand that a 'source', presumably from a different
background than the regime-friendly Myanmarpyi's informants, knew for
certain that Ne Win had been buried in the Mingaladon military cemetery,
with only a couple of representatives from the ruling military, a few
monks and and close friends, all sworn to secrecy, in attendance.
Not to be left behind in the scramble to cash in on the ex-dictator's
newsworthiness, Asiaweek's indefatigable Burma correspondent, Roger
Mitton, wrote in this week's edition of the magazine that he was
prepared to donate another box of chocolates (apparently he has given
away several already) in a desperate bid to obtain an interview with the
nonagenarian. No word yet on any takers for Mitton's too-too generous
BurmaNet: Op/Ed Column--The Talks in Rangoon: Where to from here?
Aung Naing Oo
[The opinions expressed in this op/ed column are those of its author.]
Burmese politics has entered a new phase in the past few weeks,
following the visit of United Nation envoy Mr. Razali Ismail to Rangoon
in late August, the release of two leaders of the opposition National
League for Democracy (NLD) and their subsequent meetings with imprisoned
party General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi. In Thailand, Deputy Premier
General Chavalit Yongchaiyoudh disclosed imminent ?good news? from the
talks in Rangoon confided to him by Burma?s intelligence chief General
Khin Nyunt during his visit to Thailand in early September. However, it
remains unclear how current efforts to mend fences will evolve into
A number of questions have to be asked to get down to the roots of the
events. ?As the demonstration of commitment to dialogue, would the
regime allow U Aung Shwe and U Tin Oo to participate in the talks? ?On
what basis did General Khin Nyunt assure his ally in Thailand on the
power-sharing conditions it has allegedly proposed to the NLD? ?Why did
the NLD deny the existence of such a proposal?
Similarly, positive developments have to be examined in the light of
policies and actions that the Burmese regime has continued. While it has
stopped attacking NLD and its key leaders, the Burmese junta has
continued to scandalize some prominent personnel and organizations in
the opposition movement such as the attack on U Win Tin, an NLD leader
in detention who recently won a prestigious journalist award.
Also, NLD statements and interviews have indicated things are not going
well as some think they are. For instance, they urged the regime to
release political prisoners who have been categorized as "priority" by
the party ?within the agreed time-frame?. Recently, the party called
for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from under house arrest. Does it
mean that power-sharing proposal does not include the release of
political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi herself? Certainly,
these calls for further show of sincerity and willingness to compromise
on the part of the Burmese junta would not have come out if secret talks
had gone smoothly.
Worse still, to undo what has been considered positive signs is the
speech of the Burmese Minister for Home Affairs given to his
subordinates during the quarterly meeting a few months ago, which was
leaked to opposition groups. Essentially, the speech outlined the
strategy and tactics of the Burmese regime. It is abundantly clear that
the Generals have changed their tactics and not the strategy ? meaning
that everything is business as usual for them and that they are not
prepared to give up easily.
Giving these contradictions, no further development from the talks is in
sight. And unfortunately, the prominence and attention the
reconciliation efforts have gained in its initial stage are likely to be
lost after terrorist attacks in the United States. Eventually, the lack
of progress in the direction of a substantive dialogue will lead the
international community and the NLD to question the willingness of the
regime. Questions may also raise regarding NLD's inability to persuade
the regime to further prove that it is ready to deal with the party.
Whatever the case may be, what is certain is that the Burmese politics
has become much more vibrant than a few months ago. Things that cannot
be negotiated in the secret dialogue have come out into the open.
Political issues that were considered taboo in the past are being
discussed. These may not help Burmese political problems immediately but
will prepare the nation to face the harsh realities that it encounters
in the near future.
"There is neither eternal enemy nor friend, " said NLD Vice-Chairman U
Tin Oo recently. Obviously, he was preparing his party for a change to
come - perhaps, a possible compromise. His speech also signaled NLD's
willingness to reach some kind of settlement with the Burmese military
junta. For the Burmese generals, however, it looks as if the time is on
their side. They seem to not be in a rush. As feared, they may be
creating a situation in which the NLD will have to negotiate with the
generals on their own terms.
Realistically however, something tangible should come out from the
negotiations a year after they began. It does not necessarily have to be
a substantial compromise from either side. But it must demonstrate the
continuity of dialogue and possibility of a deal in a not too distant
future. If nothing is to be emerged, "silence" on the talks will not be
good news any longer. Frustrations and suspicions will grow. Demands
will become louder and pressure will mount. And the dangers of
protracted negotiations may be lurking just around the corner.
Chin National Front: [Report on the Fourth Party Central Committee]
General Headquarters, Chinland
The fourth meeting of the Second Party Conference of the Chin National
Front was successfully convened at the party headquarters from 3rd to
25th of September 2001. The party leaders in and outside of the country
attended the meeting.
The meeting appointed Pu B. Hranglung and Pu Khar Mang as central
committee members to fill up the two vacant positions.
It was decided to put more efforts on addressing safety and welfare of
Chin people in and outside of the country who severely suffer under the
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), who mishandles the country?s
politics. And it was also decided to pay more attention on protection of
Chinland?s forest and wildlife.
The meeting further decided to lift the total liquor ban which was
imposed in some townships in 1996 and instead agreed to allow
consumption with some limitation and implement educating programs in
order to reduce liquor related problems.
The meeting viewed that the activities of regional commanders of the
Chin National Army, in view of systematic collection of taxes -- closing
some cross-border roads with limited periods and taking necessary action
upon those who disobeyed the order, were done as per the necessity for
the cause of democracy and the national revolution.
At the same time, the meeting strongly condemned the international
terrorists and their barbaric acts that shack and threaten security and
welfare of civilised humanity.
We are saddened by Indian army?s capture of liaison camp of tactical I
of the Chin National Army on August 02, 2001 as well as Victoria camp of
Chin National Front on August 25, 2001. We believe that it is only done
by the decision of regional army commanders. We do not believe that the
Indian Government, the world?s largest democracy, has a will to act
against the Chin National Front?s movement for democracy in Burma. The
Front wants to build mutual understanding and regular contacts with
Indian authority for peace and stability in the region, democratisation
and mutual cooperation.
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