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BurmaNet News: November 14, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 14, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 10:00:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
November 13, 2001 Issue # 1918
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AFP: Two sacked Myanmar generals under interrogation, de facto house
*AP: Myanmar revamps military hierarchy after sacking senior officials
*AP: FAO: Don't blame logging alone for high rate of deforestation
*Times of India: 200 Manipur insurgents held in Myanmar
*DVB: Army directed to tighten security ahead of reshuffle Army directed
to tighten security ahead of reshuffle
*Bangkok Post: Revitalising the anti-drug battle
*AFP: US, French officials meet Myanmar junta leader
*AFP: World trade talks, forced labour in Myanmar, on ILO agenda
*Reuters: UN envoy plans Myanmar visit
*AFP: UN envoy Razali Ismail to pursue Myanmar reforms in November visit
*Xinhua: Myanmar Striving for Child Rights: Minister
*Dictatorwatch.org: Summary Prognosis for Burma
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AFP: Two sacked Myanmar generals under interrogation, de facto house
YANGON, Nov 13 (AFP) - Two top members of Myanmar's junta who were
sacked on the weekend under suspicion of corruption have been confined
to their homes and interrogated over their business dealings, sources
The third secretary of the ruling State Peace and Development Council,
Lieutenant-General Win Myint, and Military Affairs Minister
Lieutenant-General Tin Hla are under de facto house arrest in the
capital of Yangon, they said.
"Although officially it has not been admitted yet, everybody knows this
is to do with corruption," said a source close to the junta.
"There is a corruption case going on and they are being investigated.
It stands to reason that when they are being investigated their
movements would be confined."
The two generals were among seven high-ranking officials fired in a
sweeping reshuffle believed to be aimed at rooting out endemic
corruption and injecting fresh blood into the ageing leadership.
Both Win Myint and Tin Hla had been deeply involved in the economic
workings of the military state and headed its state business enterprises
-- Myanmar Economic Holdings and Myanmar Economic Corporation.
Diplomats said the pair, who virtually held the nation's purse strings,
had been punished for rampant corruption that eventually drew the ire of
Malaysia -- one of the regime's few foreign allies.
The junta source said the investigation was likely to delve into recent
business dealings and acquisitions, including Tin Hla's purchase of a
plot of land near the capital's Inya Lake worth some 500,000 dollars.
Diplomats said the pair were under intense surveillance by military
"The two men are not officially under house arrest but they are under
investigation and surveillance which means they have no freedom to go
outside their homes. There are guards outside their houses," one said.
Another Western diplomat said the latest action indicated that their
wrongdoing could be more serious than a simple case of corruption.
"Maybe they had been discovered to have taken vast amounts of hard cash
out of the country or something like that, although I would suspect it
was related to the initial charge of dodgy dealings."
The sackings appears to be a repeat of a dramatic and unprecedented
1997 sweep when four ministers -- for trade, tourism, agriculture and
transportation -- were fired after foreign investors accused them of
In that case too, the offending officials were detained and their
assets confiscated. To this day they remain under surveillance and their
movements are curtailed.
Another development causing a stir in Yangon are signs that nine
regional commanders have been brought to the capital to fill the
ministerial and military posts vacated by the seven sacked officials.
There is speculation that the 10 extremely powerful regional posts
might be consolidated to just four, controlling the country's north,
south, east and west.
"There's some kind of major shake-up of the top army structure
underway," one diplomat said.
The departure of Win Myint -- the regime's fourth-ranking general and
the most senior ever to be sacked -- also leaves another vacancy at the
top after the death of Second Secretary Tin Oo in a helicopter crash
earlier this year.
There is a possibility the regime's top-five could now be permanently
reduced to a ruling troika headed by Senior General Than Shwe.
Observers say this could strengthen the hand of Secretary One Khin
Nyunt, the chief of military intelligence who is believed to be guiding
the junta's historic year-long talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu
The international community is cautiously optimistic the talks could be
paving the way for some sort of democratic reforms in Myanmar, which has
been under military rule since 1962.
AP: Myanmar revamps military hierarchy after sacking senior officials
November 13, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ In the most significant revamp of Myanmar's
military regime in four years, 10 powerful regional army commanders are
to be reassigned to the capital, military sources said Tuesday.
All will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and take up
positions in the Ministry of Defense, a senior military officer, who did
not want to be named, told The Associated Press.
Analysts said the moves are likely to accord the commanders more
privileges, but probably less power and autonomy. It indicates that the
ministry in the capital was expanding and consolidating its strength,
The reassignments, which have yet to be officially announced, follow
the surprise dismissals last week of seven top officials including the
junta's fourth ranking general Lt. Gen. Win Myint and deputy prime
minister Lt. Gen. Tin Hla, who was also minister for military affairs.
Also sacked were two aging deputy prime ministers while three other
ministers were ``permitted to retire.''
The government has given no reasons for the changes.
It is the biggest shake-up of the regime since November 1997, when the
original junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC,
was dissolved and renamed the State Peace and Development Council, with
younger officials drafted in to replace corrupt and old military
Myanmar's 12 regional commanders are all members of the elite 16-member
SPDC, but the council is dominated by its three top generals _ junta
leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe, army chief Gen. Maung Aye and military
intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt. However, in their areas of
control in the provinces, the regional commanders are very powerful.
The Cabinet of ministers is appointed separately and is much less
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by its military since
1962. It has faced international condemnation for alleged human rights
abuses and refusing to honor the 1990 landslide election victory of
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house
detention in Yangon.
It was not yet clear if the 10 regional commander positions had been
filled yet, or whether the incumbents would retain their positions in
Only two of the current regional military commanders will remain in
their posts: Brig. Gen. Myint Swe, at the southeastern command, and
Brig. Gen. Aye Kywe, at the coastal region command, military sources
Among those being moved to Yangon is Maj. Gen. Thiha Thura Tin Aung
Myint Oo, the commander of the northeastern military region in the
northern Shan State. He will replace Tin Hla as army quartermaster
general, the senior officer said.
Also, Maj. Gen. Thein Sein, commander of the Triangle region _ where
the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet _ replaces Win Myint as
adjutant general, the officer said.
Of the other eight regional commanders being promoted, four will become
chiefs of special operations bureaus and four will take up the positions
of chief of military training, chief of air defense, chief of military
procurement and military inspector general.
At least some of these positions were new and it did not appear that
other top officers were being forced to step down to make way for the
outgoing regional commanders.
AP: FAO: Don't blame logging alone for high rate of deforestation
November 13, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) Forests in Southeast Asia are disappearing at an
alarming rate, but logging alone is not to blame as is widely done, the
U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Tuesday.
The main causes of deforestation are forest fires and conversion of
forest land for agriculture such as the slash-and-burn method used in
Indonesia and the Philippines, Patrick Durst, the senior forestry
officer of the FAO, told reporters.
He said that deforestation, seen mostly in developing countries, is the
result of increasing population and poverty.
``When people have opportunities to make money from something other
than the forest .... they often take that opportunity,'' he said.
``The best solution to the deforestation problem is economic
development,'' he told a news conference to release a report of a study
commissioned by the FAO on the impact of logging on natural forests in
The report says governments in the region have banned logging mostly as
a knee-jerk reaction to activists calling for action, usually after
flash floods caused by soil erosion.
The logging bans are ``an extreme measure with sometimes unpredictable
or unintended impacts,'' says the report titled ``Forests out of
It says that often logging ban in one country results in increased
logging in neighboring countries where enforcement is lax, such as in
Cambodia and Myanmar, which supply illicit timber to Thailand. Logging
ban also encourages corruption and deprives livelihoods to poor forest
dwellers, it says.
``A key conclusion to be drawn from the Asia-Pacific experience is that
logging bans are neither inherently good nor bad,'' says the report on
the study conducted over 2 1/2 years in China, New Zealand, Philippines,
Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the FAO, Southeast Asia is losing forests five times
faster than the global net annual forest loss of 0.2 percent experienced
worldwide between 1990 and 2000.
Even after the logging bans were imposed, the forest cover had reduced
in four out of the six countries studied by the FAO.
The biggest loser was the Philippines where the forest cover reduced
percent of the country's total land in 1980 to 19.4 percent in 2000.
Philippines banned logging in 1991. In Thailand, only 28.9 percent of
the total land is covered by forest at present, compared to 36.4 percent
in 1980 even though logging was banned in 1989.
Logging bans are ``simply one set of policy tools'' available to
governments that should be adopted selectively and used with other
policies, the report says.
``Underlying all efforts there must be adequate support and resources _
including political will _ to follow through on clearly established
goals and objectives,'' it says.
Times of India: 200 Manipur insurgents held in Myanmar
November 13, 2001
MPHAL: At least 200 United National Liberation Front (UNLF) insurgents,
including some top ones, were arrested in Myanmar by its army during
raids on underground camps close to the Manipur border recently, a
defence release said here on Tuesday.
About 1,400 weapons, Rs 1 crore cash and a huge quantity of gold and
were seized from the camps during the raids conducted between November 2
and November 8, it said.
Among those arrested were 'vice chief', 'secretary general' and 'defence
secretary', of the UNLF, secretary of the central bureau and general
secretary of the eastern bureau of Revolutionary People's Front (RPF)
and chairman of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), the release said.
The seized weapons included 72 mortars, 386 AK 47 rifles, and 10
The release said the special drive by the Myanmar army was still
continuing along the Indo-Myanmar border.
The army personnel were keeping a strict vigil on the border to detect
movement of other underground members, the release said.
UNLF and RPF are active in Manipur under the banner of Manipur People's
Liberation Front (MPLF) which also includes People's Revolutionary Party
of Kangleipak (Prepak). The KCP operates separately.
( PTI )
DVB: Army directed to tighten security ahead of reshuffle Army directed
to tighten security ahead of reshuffle
According to latest reports received by DVB, the War Office in Rangoon
has issued a directive yesterday, Saturday [10 November], to the
regional military commands that the replacement for the seven top
generals and ministers will be from among the regional military
The positions vacated by the regional military commanders will be filled
with divisional commanders and column commanders while their places, in
turn, will be replaced by strategic commanders and tactical commanders.
The Military Appointments General's Office has ordered the qualification
sheets of present strategic commanders and tactical commanders to be
sent to the office before 20 November.
At the same time, the battalions are also directed to have security
awareness. The officers from the various military commands, divisions,
battalions, and companies are warned to maintain close control over the
soldiers and to inspect the weapons facilities and ordnance depots twice
daily. Furthermore, the usage of ammunition and ordnance by the forces
in the forward areas are to be reported daily and the officers are urged
not to allow the soldiers to listen to any foreign radio stations.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 11 Nov 01
Bangkok Post: Revitalising the anti-drug battle
Tuesday 13 November 2001
The war on drugs hit the headlines against last week. The Thaksin
government, which started off so well on this front, was shown to be
lacking. The rash of violence by suspected drug-crazed men was troubling
to all citizens. A young female student died in one incident, which saw
enraged bystanders retaliate. An innocent pavement vendor was killed
when a drug addict landed on her during his suicide. A helpless
four-year-old was abducted from her own home and killed, apparently by a
drug addict desperate for money. A TV crew in Nakhon Ratchasima taped a
maniacal drug abuser as he cavorted on a high-tension power pole, before
he fell and badly injured himself.
This cluster of dramatic incidents highlighted the serious, continuing
problem in our society. Thaksin Shinawatra, a former policeman and
trained criminologist, came to power with great promises of reducing and
then eliminating drug trafficking and abuse. The past six months,
however, appear to have accomplished little, if anything. In foreign
affairs, after an initial confrontation, he has pandered to the Burmese
authorities. At home, he has stopped speaking out on the country's most
serious security threat.
One can appreciate that Mr Thaksin has many responsibilities. But the
battle against drugs is not just another problem. It is the chief threat
to the security of the nation. Foreign drug traffickers routinely
violate our borders. Big-time drug dealers bribe and control government
officials and security agents with billions of ill-gotten baht. They
threaten our very financial system through manipulation of the stock and
The eruption of violence reminded everyone of the real, continuing cost
to the country. Three entirely innocent people died by irrational acts
committed by abusers.
The death of Kasetsart University student Jitra Ruamchareonchai at the
hands of a clearly deranged man shocked everyone. Two days later, Luk-in
Phut-eak died while sitting peacefully at her Klong Toey district
lottery stall when an apparently crazed man leapt from the building
above her. The abduction and killing of four-year-old Kanyarat
Kanchanaot added to the nation's heartbreak.
The initial government response to last week's disturbing events has
been as troubling as the needless, senseless violence. The prime
minister, so outspoken and assertive earlier this year, made no initial
statement. One of his deputy advisers announced Mr Thaksin was
concerned. The response is to be yet another workshop, on Dec 7, so that
officials can search for ideas on how to combat the menace.
How short are some memories? Mr Thaksin and his government led a series
of such workshops earlier this year, shortly after Thai Rak Thai formed
the government. A policy of sorts was set. Authorities were to conduct
an inclusive campaign against drugs that combined legal crackdowns as
well as community-oriented campaigns at schools and on the streets.
Incidents like those of last week would be reduced because help would be
provided to addicts.
The Thaksin cabinet appears to suffer from the same mistakes as previous
governments. Ministers discuss the drug problem, agree that action is
needed, and pass on to the next ``urgent'' difficulty. The drug
traffickers love it. So does the Burmese regime. Rangoon has again taken
the friendship of the Thai government as an excuse to continue its
support for drug-producing friends in the north and northeast,
particularly the Wa United State Army. It is not enough for the
government to be concerned. A strong leader, taking strong action, will
receive the full support of Thai people, who have suffered from drugs
AFP: US, French officials meet Myanmar junta leader
BANGKOK, Nov 12 (AFP) - Senior delegations from the United States and
France have held talks with the Myanmar junta's number three in Yangon,
an official statement said Monday.
The US delegation was headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Matthew Daley and the French officials were led Dominique Girard,
assistant secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs, according to the
Both missions called separately on the junta's number-three
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt at the ministry of defence in capital
Yangon last weekend, it said.
Khin Nyunt is the first secretary of the ruling State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), the official name of the military regime and
he is also head of military intelligence.
The meetings were also attended by Myanmar deputy foreign minister Khin
Maung Win as well as French ambassador Bernard du Chaffaut and US charge
d'affaires Patricia Clapp, the report said without giving details of
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions and
investment restrictions on the Myanmar junta, which took power in 1988
in a bloody military coup, until "definite and positive" progress is
made towards restoring democracy.
It was the third trip to Myanmar by a US state department delegation
Ralph Boyce, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and
Pacific affairs, visited Yangon in February and August.
During the first trip, Myanmar authorities allowed Boyce to meet
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her compound, where she has been
held under de facto house arrest since September last year.
AFP: World trade talks, forced labour in Myanmar, on ILO agenda
GENEVA, Nov 12 (AFP) - Globalisation of trade and forced labour in
Myanmar are set to dominate the agenda of the bi-annual assembly of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) over the next four days.
Officials said that on Monday the 56-member ILO governing body would
debate an ILO report on the social impact of globalisation, which
coincides with attempts by 142 countries to launch a new round of trade
liberalisation talks at the World Trade Organisation's ministerial
conference in Doha, Qatar.
The report by an ILO working group on the social dimensions of
globalisation counters assumptions about freer trade stimulating
economic growth and says that they "rarely apply in the real world",
according to an ILO statement.
It added that some developing countries have paid a heavy price to
adjust to trade liberalisation, experiencing "a contraction in output,
high unemployment and wide trade deficits".
The report follows calls at a Global Employment Forum organised by the
ILO ten days ago for an international effort to minimise the social
costs of trade liberalisation, "through measures such as prior analysis
of their social impact", including the effects of price changes on the
poor, the possible destruction of markets for poor producers and shifts
in the demand for labour.
The governing body is also expected on Wednesday to examine a report by
an ILO-appointed investigative team on forced labour in Myanmar,
following a three-week mission there which ended at the beginning of
October, a spokesman said.
The report by four independent experts, published last week, concluded
that forced labour under military authorities continues in Myanmar even
though the country officially outlawed the practice last year.
Myanmar has come under ILO scrutiny after a first investigation in 1998
revealed the "widespread and systematic" use of forced labour in the
country. The ILO had asked its members to "reconsider" their relations
with Myanmar last year but decided to maintain permanent surveillance
and contact with the authorities there.
The ILO is a tripartie organisation, bringing together 174 governments,
as well as employers and labour representatives.
Reuters: UN envoy plans Myanmar visit
YANGON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - United Nations special envoy to Myanmar
Razali Ismail will return to the country at the end of this month in a
fresh bid to unite the military government and opposition, a U.N. source
said on Monday.
``According to the tentative plan, Mr Razali will come here from
November 27 to December 4,'' the source told Reuters.
She said the planned visit was still to be formally approved by
Myanmar's military government.
Razali, a veteran Malaysian diplomat, has visited Myanmar four times
since he took up a mandate to promote human rights and democracy in
Myanmar in April 2000.
Razali last visited Myanmar in August and left saying he was hopeful of
progress in the talks.
On each of his visits he has met senior military figures and opposition
leaders, including Nobel laureate and leader of the National League for
Democracy (NLD) Aung San Suu Kyi.
The NLD won Myanmar's last election in 1990 by a landslide but was
never allowed to govern.
Suu Kyi has been under virtual house arrest for more than a year,
despite having entered into secretive talks -- brokered by Razali --
with the governing State Peace and Development Council.
Since the talks began in late 2000, the SPDC has released 186 NLD
members from detention and allowed the opposition party to reopen 25
According to rights group Amnesty International, Myanmar's jails still
hold more than 1,500 political prisoners.
The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962.
AFP: UN envoy Razali Ismail to pursue Myanmar reforms in November visit
YANGON, Nov 12 (AFP) - UN envoy Razali Ismail is to return to Myanmar
later this month to pursue his mission of fostering historic talks
between the junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, officials said
A UN official in Yangon said the Malaysian diplomat was tentatively
scheduled to arrive on November 27 and leave on December 3 or 4.
"We haven't met with the government yet to discuss the program so it's
never sure 100 percent sure until we have something clear from the
government," she told AFP.
"He will be following on from the previous mission, and seeing
basically the same people," she said, referring to Razali's August trip
where he held talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and top
Razali will "of course" again request a meeting with the Nobel peace
laureate, who has been held under house arrest for the past year, she
The UN spokeswoman said it was not yet clear whether the sweeping
cabinet reshuffle announced by the military regime over the weekend,
where seven ministers were given their marching orders, would interfere
in the planning.
Razali is credited with acting as a catalyst between the junta and the
pro-democracy leader, and spurring efforts to bring the warring sides
together during his six trips to Myanmar since June 2000.
He has apparently succeeded in winning the confidence of both sides of
the political divide, and driven a process which the international
community hopes will lead to democratic reforms after 40 years of
At his urging, some 186 pro-democracy dissidents have been released
this year, although rights groups say some 1,500 more still languish in
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan earlier this month called on the
military regime to continue releasing political prisoners in order to
consolidate the progress made this year.
"The national reconciliation process in Myanmar is at a crossroads,"
Annan said in a report to the United Nations General Assembly, and "more
much needs to be done to make the process irreversible."
He commended the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National
League for Democracy (NLD) for entering a dialogue on democratisation,
but said "the process is, however, still at the confidence-building
Annan noted "with regret" that Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house
arrest and said he hoped that the year-long talks between the two sides
"will soon lead to the restoration of her right to move freely around
The report was based on the three visits which Razali, as Annan's
special envoy, has made to Myanmar this year.
Xinhua: Myanmar Striving for Child Rights: Minister
YANGON, November 12 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has been striving for the rights
of the children with whatever means and resources at its disposal, said
President of the Myanmar Human Rights Committee Colonel Tin Hlaing
Monday. Tin Hlaing, who is also home affairs minister, made the remarks
at the opening of the first International Seminar on the Rights of Child
in Myanmar, sponsored by the committee and the Center for Humanitarian
Dialogue and organized by the International Institute for the Rights of
He complained that before his country ratified the United Nations
Convention on the Rights, it was facing the imposition of several
sanctions by Western nations and hard pressed by internal matters. He
told the seminar that Myanmar is cooperating now with other nations on
international matters, having received the frequent visits of the
special representative of the U.N. Secretary General, special rapporteur
of the U.N. Human Rights Commission and the high level team of the
International Labor Organization. He said, "all of these delegates have
been allowed to go any where in the country and met any one they wish."
He disclosed that 10 sessions of workshop on human rights have been held
in Myanmar with the help of Australian, British and Swiss experts,
adding that more workshops are being planned for next year. Myanmar
ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child on July 15,
1991. The first report was submitted in 2000 and the second one is being
reportedly prepared for submission in the near future.
Dictatorwatch.org: Summary Prognosis for Burma
(extract of Burma and Chaos ? Updated, by Dictator Watch,
As described below, it is unlikely that Burma will achieve democracy in
the foreseeable future: at least five to ten years. The reasons for this
- The structures that support the dictatorship are far stronger than
those which oppose it.
- There is a mistaken appraisal on the part of the opposition regarding
the prerequisites for political change; for example, the current view
that pressure should be eased to facilitate the talks between the
dictators and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (and also as a reward for the release
of a few political prisoners). The correct view is that pressure should
be increased, to force the dictators to sue for peace. Indeed, the last
five or so years have seen the creation of a vicious cycle. When
pressure increases, the dictators soften. Then, when it eases, they
accelerate their repression.
- More generally, there is a failure on the part of the opposition to
accept that real instability must develop for change to occur, and that,
among other things, chances must be taken. There is a belief, one could
even call it a faith, that non-violent measures, i.e., activism and
diplomacy, will be sufficient.
It is not true to say that violence has never solved anything. Violence
as a part of self-defense is fully justified and in many cases, from
individual to national, it has succeeded. Even more, if you do not fight
for your liberty, you will be a slave (and if we do not fight to
preserve nature, it will be destroyed). We would note, though, that the
violence must be ethical ? it must not involve non-combatants or the use
of torture (and associated environmental damage must be minimized).
Violence itself is a strange attractor, which is why many political
systems established following violent revolutions have failed.
(Regarding the terrorism in America, it was, of course, completely
unethical, and it will not solve - or accomplish - anything. In
addition, without great care the violence which is part of the reaction
to it will itself solve nothing.)
- There is little cooperation among the different elements of the
opposition. Part of this is due to technical factors, such as the
difficulty of finding a means to surmount the measures imposed by the
dictators that restrict communications between forces inside and outside
the country. However, another part is psychological: for a variety of
reasons, different groups do not want to work together. We must ask, if
there is little cooperation now, how can we expect a cooperative
atmosphere to exist in a post-transition environment. (Cooperation, or
the lack thereof, is another strange attractor.)
- Lastly, a significant element in the opposition ? diplomacy by
democratic states ? has betrayed the cause. Such diplomacy is designed
to give the appearance of pushing for democracy, but its real objective
is to ensure the perpetuation of the dictatorship. Democracies rarely
confront dictatorships; they will not act on principle. In the new
global arena, nations compete, and the democracies want to maintain
their current economic advantages, and dominance. They recognize that
economic institutions in a democratic political system are far stronger
than those in a dictatorship. Hence, they prefer ? protestations to the
contrary ? that such nations remain dictatorships. This is why their
diplomacy is flaccid, and also why they refuse to rein in their domestic
corporations, those which support the regimes.
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