Daily News-April 08- 2001- Sunday

  • Student Activists protest University`s Burma holdings
  • Burmese tourism boycott shunned
  • Burma Gets Set For Third International Airport
  • Burmese radio reports 24 villagers killed in attack by Karen rebels
  • Malaysia looking to Thailand, Burma for cheaper food supplies
  • Excavation work carried out in cooperation with French experts

  • Student Activists protest University`s Burma holdings

    Michigan Daily, Apr 6, 2001
    Ahmed Hamid
    Daily Staff Reporter

    Two student groups staged a sit-in yesterday at the office of Public Policy Dean Rebecca Blank over a professor’s involvement in a company that is building a gas pipeline in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

    Burma’s military regime is building a gas pipeline with forced labor, said SNRE sophomore William Ho, co-chair of the Environmental Justice Group, which staged the protest along with members of Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality.

    Business Administration and Public Policy Prof. Marina Whitman is on the board of directors of Unocal, a corporation involved with the pipeline. She was not in her office yesterday and did not return messages left at her home.

    Besides forced labor, Ho also expressed concern about the environmental implications of building the pipeline.

    The gas pipeline is a joint venture between Unocal, Total of France and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, Ho said.The government is generating profits from the pipeline that is being built with forced labor and running through Burma’s Tenasserim forest. Last I heard it was very close to being completed.

    The protesters also refused to call Burma by its new name of Myanmar, saying it was chosen by the military regime.

    “We have a unique opportunity to bring this issue to light, said Environmental Justice Group spokesman Ryan Bodanyi, an RC sophomore. It is an opportunity to voice our dissent.

    The protesters also wanted to address the University’s investment’s in Myanmar and to stop further investment.

    “The University has over $20 million of investments in companies that are doing business in Burma,” Bodanyi said.“Since Whitman is not at school today we will be doing a sit in at the dean’s office, he said.Our plans are to get Marina Whitman on the phone and we have a list of demands we will read to her.

    When asked whether they had tried other means to approach Whitman, Bodanyi said, We have met with Marina Whitman in the past and we agreed to disagree. We don’t believe any more letter sending will make a difference. We want to send the message that there is a groundswell of support for human rights in Burma.

    The group made a mock pipeline to represent the one in Myanmar. Students showed support by signing it and putting their palm prints on it. Ho said that Unocal is a U.S. corporation that invests in Myanmar even though the U.S.government passed legislation banning investment in the country.“We will demand Whitman to admit that Unocal’s investment directly benefits the military regime,” he said.

    The protest began on the Diag, later moving to Blank’s office for a sit-in. The dean arrived by 3 p.m. while the students waited in her office, crowding the chairs and the floor. The dean said that Marina Whitman is in New York and they could not get a hold of her,

    Ho said.She did say that we could leave the signed pipeline along with our list of demands andshe would guarantee delivery when Whitman got back.

    Blank also said that she wouldn’t call the event a sit-in. They clearly wanted to leave somethings and we accepted,she said.They told me about their literature and they expressed their concerns about the current government in Myanmar.

    Ho was pleased with the awareness the protest raised. I thought it went really well. We got a lot of people on the Diag to sign the pipeline. Our main goal was to raise public awareness about this issue,he said.
    Burmese tourism boycott shunned

    source : Electronic Telegraph
    By Rosemary Behan

    A FORMER member of the Burmese National League for Democracy (NLD), the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, owns and runs a hotel in Burma and openly encourages tourism there, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

    His stance is at odds with that of pressure groups in Britain concerned with Burma, which have successfully discouraged tourists from visiting the country because of its military regime. The groups, which include the London-based Tourism Concern and the Burma Campaign UK, have argued that tourism props up the dictatorship.

    In a letter to The Daily Telegraph last year, Tricia Barnett, director of Tourism Concern, said: "Aung San Suu Kyi and the party that the Burmese people have overwhelmingly chosen to represent them, the democratically elected National League for Democracy, have asked all tourists not to visit Burma until democracy is restored."

    But this week, U Ohn Maung - who was elected as an NLD member for the Yawngwe area of the Shan State in 1990 and both owns and runs the Inle Princess Hotel, on the eastern shore of Lake Inle - said he had resigned from the party three years ago to concentrate on tourism. Mr Maung did not want to be quoted, but a spokesman for the hotel said: "Tourism to Burma is growing. It is good."

    Myo Myo Myint, who works for Balloons over Bagan, a ballooning company based in Rangoon, said she, like most of her peers, took part in demonstrations in 1988 to bring about democratic elections. "I was angry for almost two years and then I finally realised that nothing was changing," she said. "I had to keep educating myself and earn a living for my family. I welcome tourists for the exposure, income and employment that they bring."

    But this week Barnett, who also encouraged a boycott of Lonely Planet's latest guidebook to Burma, said that, while she "respects and understands" the desire of some Burmese people to receive tourists, "this will not help them in the long run". "Until the NLD advises us otherwise, we will continue to support the party's wish that tourists do not visit until such time as democracy is restored."

    Anna Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Burma Campaign UK, took a similar line: "Tourism doesn't help the vast majority of the population, who are farmers. It helps to sustain the government and gives it legitimacy. There is at least one incidence of a hotel that was built using forced labour."

    But Andrew Brock, managing director of Andrew Brock Travel,based in Uppingham, Leics, said he had been using the Inle Princess Hotel for 18 months and "had no doubt" that it helped local people. "It is the area's best hotel and employs local people. While time has stood still for the Burma action groups over here, people over there are finding that it would be nice to make a little money."

    Paul Strachan, who owns the Irrawaddy Flotilla company, said money from tourism had been used to fund local schools and orphanages.
    Burma Gets Set For Third International Airport

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP)--The cornerstone has been laid for the terminal building at Myanmars planned third international airport near Bago, 80 kilometers north of Yangon Construction of the new airport is scheduled to be completed in four years, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Saturday.

    Speaking at the cornerstone-laying ceremony Friday, Transport Minister Maj. Gen. Hla Myint Swe said the facility, to be called "Hanthawaddy International airport,"would boost tourism, reported the newspaper. Hanthawaddy is the ancient name for Bago, which is also called Pegu.

    The new airport will have the capacity to simultaneously serve 1,000 arriving and 1,000 departing passengers, said Hla Myint Swe at the ceremony, which was attended by Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, a top member of Myanmar's ruling military council.

    The Department of Public Works has been working on the 12,000 foot long, 200 foot wide runway since 1994, and 22.94% of the earthwork has been completed, saidthe newspaper.

    Construction of the airport building and related facilities such as the control tower, taxiway and power system will be undertaken by the South Korean company Archon Co., said the transport minister. The cost of the construction project wasn't reported.

    Myanmars second international airport opened last year in Mandalay, the country's second largest city, 560 kilometers north of the capital. The country's main airport inYangon has been renovated over the past few years.
    Burmese radio reports 24 villagers killed in attack by Karen rebels

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 6, 2001

    The KNU [Karen National Union] terrorist insurgents have been carrying out terrorist acts such as destroying regional peace and tranquillity, engaging in destructive acts, and killing innocent people.

    On 23 March, a combined team of 10 KNU members led by Lt Saw Pi Kho, company commander of 1st Battalion from KNU 3rd Brigade, and 15 insurgents led by Capt Saw Ke, company commander from KNDO [Karen National Defence Organization] 1st Battalion, carrying small arms and weapons, came to Moesapyint Mountain in Kyaukkyi Township and took away 27 villagers, who were chopping wood there, for not paying tax. The KNU members then ruthlessly killed the villagers with sticks and crowbars at a mountain slope about 300 yards away from where they were captured.

    Two villagers - Kyaw Min Aung from Maubinseik Village, Kyaukkyi Township, and Myint Lwin from Taikkyi Village, Tantabin Township, escaped with severe head injuries. They were both admitted to Kyaukkyi Township hospital on 24 March. Similarly, Aung Moe from Nganemyaung Village in Kyauktaga Township escaped and returned to Nganemyaung Village on 24 March. The remaining 24 villagers were brutally killed on the spot by the KNU terrorist insurgents...The military columns are in hot pursuit of the KNU terrorist insurgents.
    Malaysia Government looking to Thailand, Burma for cheaper food supplies

    NSTP -07 April 2001

    The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry is looking to Thailand and Myanmar as alternative and cheaper sources of food supplies.

    Fish, vegetables, fruits and beef are the items on the Ministry's list when a delegation to be headed by its Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin visit both countries next month.Also included in the itinerary is a study on the distribution pattern of food supplies in these two countries and its pricing and how it will benefit Malaysian consumers when the supplies are brought in.

    Muhyiddin said Malaysia had been importing food items from the two countries prompting the ministry to look for more, better and cheaper source of food supply from the two countries.

    "Our task there is to study the marketing system and pricing of the commodities there. This will help us check if there is any excessive profiteering by our importers. "One example is our visit to India, the result of which, we have succeeded to help stabilise the price of imported beef from India to RM6.50 per kilogramme," he told reporters after launching a religious programme for Malay students at Kompleks Sukan Pagoh today.

    Muhyiddin also said the visit to Myanmar was to explore their fresh fish venture. "They catch more than they can consume and that means they have excess which can be exported. It is, therefore, viable to import fish from Myanmar to fill the shortage faced by our country. But we will have to observe their harvest and their operations so that we can ultimately secure the cheapest possible price before we allow any import," he added.
    Excavation work carried out in cooperation with French experts

    source : NLM

    Yangon, 6 April Excavation work on pre-historic bronze age and iron age at Hnawgan region started on 23 February by Department of Archaeology, Ministry of Culture.

    The excavation site is located near Hnawgan village in Mahlaing Township, Meiktila District, Mandalay Division. The work in collaboration with National Research Centre, France, began on 9 March.

    It is being carried out in an effort to discover the missing historical links of bronze age and iron age in the history of civilization in Myanmar. Shells of snails, iron weapons, rock beads and bundles of copper strings were already unearthed from the site.Minister for Culture U Win Sein inspected the site on 4 April.