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BurmaNet News: November 4, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
November 4, 2001 Issue # 1911
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Forced labor for yet another death
*Shan Human Rights Foundation: Killing at Forced Labour Site in
*Irrawaddy: WGAD Cites Arbitrary Detention
*Kyodo: Japan, Myanmar sign debt relief agreement
*Irrawaddy: KNU Denies Ceasefire Talks Taking Place
*Upstream: Truckers revving up in Burma fight
*ARNO: [Rohingya organisation rejects link with any terrorist
*Far Eastern Economic Review: No Easy Cures For Burma's Ills
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Shan Herald Agency for News: Forced labor for yet another death railway
November 02, 2001
Sources that fled recently into Thailand told S.H.A.N. the Burma Army
had been conscripting people in southern Shan State for labor in the
construction of a new railroad from Hsihseng to Kunhing.
They said the Burma Army had been busy recruiting laborers since the
visit to Kunhing by Gen Maung Aye, Vice Chairman of the ruling military
council and army commander, on 23 October.
"In Namzang township alone, 240 people, age between 18-55, have begun
the task of clearing the area for the railroad," said one of the
sources, who, along with others, requested anonymity. He said they were
working under the supervision of Captain Than Naing Oo, Company 5, IB
Myanma Alin, the official bulletin, reported on 25 October that Gen
Maung Aye flew to Namzang, 62 miles east of Taunggyi, to inspect the
project sites and met with the officials concerned, including the 55th
Light Infantry Division.
Shan Human Rights Foundation reports in its illustrated The Shan Case
(1993): The 102-mile long Loikaw-Aungban railway was built with the
blood, sweat, tears, lives, money, homes and lands of the people. And
now, since January 6 1993, the same has been happening with the
Shwenyaung-Namsang railroad. People of both sexes, aged between 15 and
59, are being ordered to work for weeks. Absentees are fined K. 3,000
Irrawaddy: WGAD Cites Arbitrary Detention
By Zarny Win
November 03, 2001?The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention (WGAD) has recently declared the imprisonment of seven
political prisoners in Burma to be arbitrary, according to a statement
released by the WGAD on October 26.
In response to this declaration, the Assistance Association for
Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP) based in Mae Sot, Thailand, has
called on Burma?s ruling military government to immediately and
unconditionally release the seven prisoners.
The AAPP sent the WGAD a petition in February of this year asking the UN
group to review the terms of the prisoners? continued incarceration,
noting that their extended sentencing was in contradiction to
"The WGAD?s opinion will tell the regime that it is not acting in
international law, and they (WGAD) have asked the country to rectify
said Ko Tate, secretary of the AAPP. He added that the AAPP is hoping
the WGAD?s recent opinion may increase political pressure on Burma?s
military regime to adopt a democratic system.
The AAPP has said they will be releasing a statement soon concerning
student leader Min Ko Naing?s continued detention despite completing his
original sentence. Min Ko Naing?s case has been reviewed by the WGAD and
his detention has also been deemed arbitrary.
The group has already sent a petition to the WGAD asking for opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi?s case to be reviewed as soon as possible. Suu
Kyi remains under house arrest in Rangoon. The WGAD will review Suu
Kyi?s case at their November session.
Between 1991-1997, the WGAD has declared the detention of over 1,300
prisoners around the world to be arbitrary. They have also ruled the
detention of nineteen other prisoners to be legitimate. According to the
WGAD, 335 of these prisoners have been released.
Since 1993, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has authorized
the WGAD to take up cases on its own when sufficient evidence exists
that substantiates allegations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The WGAD not only attempts to free arbitrarily detained individuals but
above all seeks to have governments adopt the necessary legislation that
would prevent any new cases of arbitrary detention.
Shan Human Rights Foundation: Killing at Forced Labour Site in Murng-ton
SHRF MONTHLY REPORT
On 4.10.01, one of 17 villagers conscripted as forced labourers
was brutally beaten to death by SPDC troops from LIB519 at a military
camp in Wan Naa tract, Murng-Ton township.
On the day of the incident, 17 villagers, 10 men and 7 women, from Naa
Niu village in Wan Naa tract, Murng-Ton township, were conscripted by
SPDC troops of Co. No.3 of LIB519, led by Capt. Maung Swe, to work at a
military camp as unpaid forced labourers.
One of the villagers, Lung Kaw, male, aged 53, was not feeling very
well, but had to go because it was his turn and there was no one in his
family to go in his place.
Lung Kaw was forced to dig a ditch at the military camp and he
frequently needed to take a short rest because he got quickly tired and
weak from his sickness.
One of the SPDC troops overseeing the work site accused Lung
Kaw of not wanting to work properly for the military and kicked him,
causing him to fall down on the ground and lose unconscious.
As Lung Kaw regained consciousness and tried to get up, one of
the soldiers beat him on the back of his neck with a stick, killing him
instantly and throwing him down into the ditch he had been digging.
When it was sure that Lung Kaw was dead, Capt. Maung Swe warned
all the rest of the forced labourers not to tell anyone about the
beating, but to say that Lung Kaw had died from a severe stroke, and
threatened to kill every one if any one of them dared to reveal the
truth to other people.
In addition, the other villagers were forced to pay 3,000 Kyat
of money for a truck to take Lung Kaw?s body back to their village.
Kyodo: Japan, Myanmar sign debt relief agreement
YANGON, Nov. 2, Kyodo - Japan on Thursday agreed to provide Myanmar debt
relief of 1.8 billion yen, the Japanese Embassy in Myanmar said Friday.
Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Shigeru Tsumori and Myanmar Deputy
Finance Minister Brig. Gen. Than Tun signed and exchanged notes on the
debt relief Thursday evening in Rangoon, according to a press release
issued by the embassy.
Japan, Myanmar's largest aid donor, had extended 402.9 billion yen to
Myanmar by the time it was declared a least developed country in
Since then, Japan has extended debt relief grants to Myanmar regularly
to relieve the burden of debt owed by the Myanmar government. The
arrangement is aimed at eventually writing off the entire debt.
Yangon and Tokyo signed the previous agreement for debt relief of nearly
2 billion yen in March.
Irrawaddy: KNU Denies Ceasefire Talks Taking Place
By Ko Thet
October 31, 2001?The Karen National Union?s (KNU) supposed talks with
the Burmese government regarding a ceasefire agreement have been
fabricated, according to a KNU official. The rumor claimed that the two
parties met in Bangkok last week, but KNU General Secretary Phado Mahn
Sha denied the alleged meeting ever occurred.
"The KNU did not talk with the regime; this news is just a rumor. Our
troops are still fighting with government forces throughout our
controlled areas. The government has actually stepped up efforts against
us now that the rainy season is ending," Phado Mahn Sha told The
The KNU is the most powerfully armed ethnic minority group in Burma that
is currently fighting against government troops. The KNU has 12,000
troops based along the Thai-Burma border. KNU officials met four times
with military officials during 1995-1996 to discuss a ceasefire
agreement but the two sides were never able to agree on a settlement.
During the Burmese junta?s Secretary One Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt?s recent trip
to Bangkok, he met with Thai Third Army Commander Gen Wattanachai to
discuss Burmese insurgent groups operating from Thai soil. Phado Mahn
Sha said that he has not heard anything from the Thai government
regarding this meeting
Upstream: Truckers revving up in Burma fight
October 12, 2001
By CHRISTOPHER HOPSON.
Teamsters protest to Amerada Hess over Premier's presence in country
with poor record on human rights
PROTESTERS campaigning against oil company involvement in Burma have
attracted a new and somewhat unusual band of followers in the shape of
US truckers working for Amerada Hess.
The truckers, members of the US union the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, are sending a strong message to chairman and chief executive
officer John B Hess imploring him to drop its stake in UK-based
The Hess Teamsters, wearing stickers which read "Hess out of Burma",
argue the company is supporting brutal forced labour and the suppression
of democracy in Burma through its stake in Premier.
"Hess Teamsters are appalled that their company, whose success they
help to create, would be connected in any way to the denial of human
rights," said general president of the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, James P Hoffa.
Around 300 Teamsters - the majority of whom are truckers in the
north-east US and South Carolina - have joined in the protest by sending
in "an appeal for justice" to Hess. Amerada points out its investment
in Premier is "ring fenced" and does not extend into Premier's
interests in Burma.
"Our directors do not take part in any discussions on Burma assets,"
said a company spokesman.
While oil companies have often been quite successful in countering the
protests of an assortment of pressure groups, some of them know through
bitter experience picking an argument with their own truckers can
prove a costly mistake.
ARNO: [Rohingya organisation rejects link with any terrorist
Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
[Text of press release issued by the Central Executive Committee of
Arakan rohingya National Organization on 29 October] [FBIS Transcribed
Text] Our attention has been drawn to the news item(s) appeared in
BurmaNet dated October 23, 2001 and other international media, including
the Burmese SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] press,
implicating Rohingya groups to have connection with terrorist
organisation. So far Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) is
concerned, we strongly reject any direct or indirect link with any
ARNO condemns the terrorist attacks in United State on 11 September 2001
and believes that terrorism is an evil on earth that knows no homeland,
nationality, religion, or race and so everybody must disown it and
condemn it. At the same time, the importance of making distinction
between terrorism or wanton killing of innocent people and freedom
struggle or the right to fight against injustice must not be overlooked.
Terrorism practiced by the state is most dangerous and, in this
connection, it is to be mentioned that the Burmese SPDC is a terrorist
military clique, which is practicing the most outrageous crimes and has
killed hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians and democracy
activists across the country. SPDC with the vested interests is now
trying to exploit the grave situation the world is facing today, in the
wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in United States, and is
making conspiracy to discredit its oppositions particularly the Rohingya
organisations--being Muslim groups--and to "tar them with the same
It may here be mentioned that ARNO is one of the two component
organisations of Arakan Independence Alliance (AIA) and the other is
National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) which is made of largely Rakhine
or Buddhist community of Arakan. AIA is a joint freedom movement of the
all people of Arakan, without distinction as to race, colour, or
religion in order to liberate and restore their lost independence. The
former Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) is no more in existence as
it was already dissolved and merged into ARNO. Thus the question of its
alleged link with Osama Bin laden Network does not arise anymore.
The Burmese military has subjected the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan to
large scale persecution, ethnic cleansing, genocide and extermination.
As a result, nearly half of their population have been in exile in many
countries of the world while those still at home are counting their days
in utter dismay and frustration, on account of SPDC's continued state
terrorism. In recent weeks, Muslims in Burma have become vulnerable
after terrorist attacks in the United States and conflict in
Afghanistan. The military SPDC or citizens of other ethnic groups may
think that they can justify anti-Muslim activities as part of "the war
Increasing signs of Muslim and Islam hatred and climate of victimization
of Muslims in Burma have been reported across the country. Persistent
rioting and clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, destruction of Muslim
shops and houses in towns and cities, tightening of travel and worship
restrictions on the Muslims and stepping up of persecution of Rohingya
Muslims in Arakan have taken place. SPDC is responsible for these
violence on religious line. At this trying situation, we also condemn
the Burmese military SPDC for perpetrating state terrorism. [Description
of Source: Chittagong Arakan Rohingya National Organisation in English:
Website advocating self-determination and Independence for Burma's
Arakan State. Based in Bangladesh]
Far Eastern Economic Review: No Easy Cures For Burma's Ills
By Bertil Lintner
Issue cover-dated November 08, 2001
Burma: The State of Myanmar, by David Steinberg. Georgetown University
Press. $67.50 Burma: The Curse of Independence, by Shelby Tucker. Pluto
Press. £12.99 ($18.50)
BURMESE WHO cherish their independence will not like the subtitle of
Shelby Tucker's book--The Curse of Independence--but it is one of the
most comprehensive accounts of modern Burmese history written in recent
years. He outlines Burma's descent into chaos after independence from
Britain in 1948, and gives his view on why the country has been engulfed
since then in a civil war.
Tucker, a British-based American lawyer and writer, walked through
rebel-held areas in northern Burma from January to April 1989. This is
his second book. His first, Among Insurgents, is a lively description of
that trek, from China to India, across areas controlled by Burmese
communists as well as ethnic rebels.
David Steinberg's Burma covers a broader range of issues. It is an
account of recent developments in the country, especially since the
crisis of 1988, when massive street demonstrations almost toppled the
military-dominated regime. It is also a serious attempt at a more
objective look at the situation of "the sick man of Southeast Asia" by a
scholar who has written numerous books and articles about that country.
While Tucker's book is likely to make the Burmese government furious,
Steinberg's suggestions that the outside world should create an
atmosphere conducive to dialogue--by dampening criticism of Burma's
human-rights record and restoring aid--is bound to be perceived by the
opposition as pushing a policy of appeasement with the ruling junta.
That contradiction in itself reflects the Burmese conundrum: Why is it
that some sort of compromise has never been part of the Burmese
equation? Why is the country still at war with itself?
Tucker and Steinberg seem to agree on a few points. One is that both
consider Burma's ethnic issue to be at the root of the country's many
problems. Burma, with its present borders, is a colonial creation,
linking people who have little or nothing in common other than that
The authors, both eager to see peace, normality and democracy restored
in this troubled nation, have entirely different outlooks.
Steinberg identifies areas where he believes Burma's many opposing
groups and parties could find common ground. Among his suggestions are
that the outside world should guarantee Burma's territorial integrity to
"assuage fears of national dismemberment." But that assumes that a main
reason why the military holds on to power is its fear of the country
Tucker, on the other hand, writes that he has "little faith in
fundamental change happening through peace as an inherent dynamic of
healing and reconciliation, or trust-building by economic and social
progress." The generals' vested interests in continuing the existing
system is too entrenched and their fear of reprisals for what they have
done to the population too strong, he argues.
Perhaps there is no solution, and Burma may survive by hobbling on from
crisis to crisis. That is at least the impression gleaned from reading
these two different accounts of the background to the situation in Burma
What the books have in common is that neither offers convincing
arguments that change is possible. But that is not the fault of the
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