Daily News-April 10- 2001- Tuesday

  • EU renews Burma sanctions for another six months
  • Rangoon urged to announce Suu Kyi talks outcome
  • Indian lawyer fights for Burmese rebels
  • Seminar on Dhaka-Yangon relations
  • Smaller airlines find an advocate
  • Four Nations to Launch Shipping Service on Lancang Mekong Rivers
  • Junta to give reporters tour of Mong Yawn

  • EU renews Burma sanctions for another six months

    LUXEMBOURG, April 9 (AFP) - The European Union renewed Monday its sanctions against military-ruled Myanmar for six more months, stating that the human rights situation in the Southeast Asian nation remains "extremely serious."

    In a statement, EU foreign ministers said the common position of the 15 EU member states -- including an arms embargo, a visa ban on junta members and associates, and a suspension of non-humanitarian aid -- would remain intact through October.

    They said they welcomed "initial contacts" between the Yangon junta and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who leads Myanmar's democratic opposition, who is under house arrest in Myanmar's capital.But the foreign ministers added that, in their view, there has been "no substantive progress towards the objectives set out in the common position" set out in October 1996.

    "In particular, the human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar remained extremely serious," they said.

    Nevertheless, the ministers said they "sincerely hoped" that contacts between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) "would soon lead to concrete steps toward national reconciliation, democracy and respect for the human rights of all the peoples" of Myanmar.

    The European Union, they added, "stands ready to support such developments."Last year EU sanctions were beefed up to include a ban on exports of equipment that might be used for interal repression, and a freeze on funds held abroad by those on the EU visa black list.But at the same time the European Union expressed a desire to open a dialogue with Yangon -- a move that lead to a visit to Myanmar last January by an EU delegation that met Aung San Suu Kyi as well as junta members.

    Monday's statement declared that a similar mission could be sent again to Yangon "in due course."In the meantime, the situation in Myanmar will remain "under close review," with the common position liable to be reconsidered "at any time shouold developments ... so require."

    Monday's declaration also followed a visit to Yangon last week by the UN's new human rights expert for Myanmar, Brazilian academic Paulo Sergio Pinheiro -- the first of its kind since 1996.

    The EU ministers said they supported UN efforts in Myanmar, and backed an International Labour Organization (ILO) resolution calling on Yangon to put a "verifiable and definite end" to the use of forced labor.
    Rangoon urged to announce Suu Kyi talks outcome

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 9, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 8 April

    Bohmu Aung, a leader of Burma's struggle for independence, and party have issued an appeal on Resistance Day, 27 March, to publicly announce the result of talks between the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as soon as possible.

    Bohmu Aung and group's appeal urged the SPDC and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to issue a joint statement at the earliest instant for the joy of the entire public. Furthermore, all political prisoners should be unconditionally released. The appeal noted that this matter could be immediately agreed upon and would enhance the expectation of the populace.

    Bohmu Aung, a leader of Burma's fight for independence, and over 20 veteran political colleagues, have repeatedly written and urged the SPDC to hold talks to find solutions for Burma's political problems. The letter also claimed that they were overjoyed when they heard the news about the talks between the SPDC and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Bohmu Aung and colleagues have mentioned in their previous letters that dialogue is the only solution for the emergence of peace and development in the nation. Bohmu Aung fought together with National Leader General Aung San [father of Aung San Suu Kyi] in the struggle for independence and he is now over 90 years old. At the moment his health is not good and his hearing is failing.

    The appeal finally stated, on the 56th Anniversary of the Resistance Day we wish the ongoing talks between the two sides be materialized quickly for the good of the nation and its people.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 8 Apr 01
    Indian lawyer fights for Burmese rebels

    From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

    A human rights lawyer in India has asked a court to order the release of thirty-six Burmese rebels who have been held without trial in India's Andaman Islands for more than three years.

    The rebels belong to the National Unity Party of Arakans and the Karen National Union, two outlawed Burmese groups.

    The lawyer Nandita Haksar, told the court in the Andaman Islands off the east coast of India that the prisoners should be released because India's Central Bureau of Investigation CBI had not brought any charges against them for over three years. But she said they should not be repatriated to Burma as their lives might be in danger there.

    Related story :
  • 36 Burmese nationals remain under detention in Andamans Islands

  • Seminar on Dhaka-Yangon relations

    Permanent solution to border problems with Myanmar sought

    Diplomatic Correspondent
    The Independent Bangladesh

    Speakers at a seminar here yesterday observed that there were immense potentialities to expand trade and economic coperations between Bangladesh and Myanmar to the mutual benefits of the two nations.

    The seminar on "Bangladesh-Myanmar Relation" was organised at CIRDAP auditorium by the Centre for Strategic and Peace Studies (CSPS).

    The speakers, most of them diplomats, former diplomats , teachers and businessmen and former senior military officilas , stressed the need for infrastructural developments along the border to facilitate diversified economic ties between the two neighbours.

    Brigadier General (retd) Syed Jahangir Kabir in a paper on "Myanmar- Bangladesh Strategic Security Concerns Keeping in view the Quadrangular Relationship among China-India-Myanamar-Bangladesh "presented at the seminar, focused on strategical geographical advantages, suitable for forging regional cooperations.

    Obaidul Haque , teacher of the Department of International Relations of the Dhaka University, presented a paper on "A Friendly Myanmar for Bangladesh : Necessity and Reality "giving an account of salient features of the growth of bilateral ties between the two neighbours.Haque stressed the need for permanent solution to the problems related to repatriation of Rohingya refugees, transborder crimes and cross border insurgency.

    Chief Editor of the Holiday, AZM Enayetullah Khan suggested that relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh be developed in view of the dynamic political cooperation among the countries in the region."Vast resources in the Arakan region can be utilised for mutual benefits of the two neighbours" said Khan who was once Bangladesh ambassador to Myanmar.He stressed the need for implementation of the Asian Highway Project .

    Rashed Maksud Khan, President of the Bangladesh- Myanmar Chamber Council, said that the existing border trade between Dhaka and Yangon could be a mile stone for expansion of trade between the two countries.

    Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh U Ohn Thwin welcomed the Bangladesh traders and industrialists in his country.The Political Counsellor of Myanmar embassy here told the seminar that the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees had been going on.He clearly said that Myanmar would not allow return of the insurgents, having links with the fundamentalists in Bangladesh.

    The seminar, moderated by former ambassador Aanwar Hashim, was also attended by Professor Shahiduzzaman of Dhaka University,former ambassador Arshaduzzman,former ambassador Shafiulllah, Brigadier(retd) Hossain, Dr.Shahin Afroza of the BIISS and CSPS Executive Director Major General Syed Muhammad Ibrahim.
    Smaller airlines find an advocate

    Bangkok Post - Thailand; Apr 9, 2001

    The Singaporean managing director of Myanmar Airways International (MAI) has called on Asean aviation regulators to start relaxing traffic rights restrictions in a way that will give the region's smaller airlines room to grow. He also says it is time for the smaller airlines to consider setting up their own association to defend their interests.

    In a speech and subsequent interview at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Travel Mart last week, Prithpal Singh said the aviation cards were stacked too much in favour of established national airlines that were no longer in a position to operate the small, feeder routes that are needed to open up access to the emerging tourism destinations and secondary cities of Southeast Asia.

    Mr Singh represents a new group of Singaporean investors in MAI who this year took a 49% stake in the airline, replacing another Singaporean group that had quit two years ago. MAI now has two 147-seat Boeing 737s wet-leased from Malaysian Airlines and due to be returned by July. Talks are under way with other parties to lease another two aircraft of around 160/170 seats.

    He said Burma was a promising tourism destination that would become another Thailand in a few years, offering great promise for airline investors. However, because of the restricted aero-political environment in Asean, opportunities are few and as a result, MAI is looking to Chinese and Indian cities for its future expansion.

    He declined to identify which cities, but said the Burma-India bilateral agreement gave it the rights to fly to the four major cities: Bombay, Madras, New Delhi and Calcutta, while the agreement with China gave it rights to all the major cities there.

    Mr Singh is one of the few executives in Asean to have been involved in running an airline, a tour operating company and a hotel group over the last few years. As a former CEO of the Singapore-based charter airline Region Air, he was instrumental in opening up access from the city-state to Samui in the mid-1990s. Most of the new investors in MAI are former Region Air executives.
    Four Nations to Launch Shipping Service on Lancang Mekong Rivers

    Source : Asia Pulse

    KUNMING, April 10 --- A commercial shipping service jointly established by the governments of China, Laos, Burma and Thailand on the Lancang-Mekong River will be launched in late June.

    The four companies signed the agreement for the service in February, last year. Transport ministers of the four countries will attend the launching ceremony by then in Jinghong, a city in southwest China's Yunnan Province, the provincial shipping administration said Tuesday.

    Under the agreement the four countries inked on April 20 last year in Burma's border town of Tachilek, vessels of any signatory nation are entitled to sail freely on a 886.1-km section of the Lancang-Mekong River between Simao of China and Luangprabang of Laos.

    Along the section, 14 ports will be opened to ships and boats from the four signatory countries, including four in China, six in Laos and two in Myanmar and Thailand respectively.

    The Lancang-Mekong River, 4,880 km long, originates in China and runs through Laos, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam. International shipping service did not begin on the river until 1990 when China and Laos jointly organized a trial sailing.

    It is estimated that by the year 2010, ships traveling on the upper reaches of the Mekong, mainly in China and what is called Lancang, will carry 1.5 million tons of cargoes and 400,000 passengers.
    Junta to give reporters tour of Mong Yawn

    Source : Bangkok Post

    Rangoon will invite impartial reporters to inspect the Wa border township of Mong Yawn, to prove its construction and development was not funded by drug money.

    Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, the Third Army commander, quoted Burma's Triangle Region commander Maj-Gen Thein Sein as saying "non-biased foreign reporters" would be invited to visit Mong Yawn.

    Burmese authorities maintain that revenues from mine concessions and government budget financed the town's construction.

    The invitation was raised at a recent regional border committee meeting which took place in Kengtung, Burma. Lt-Gen Wattanachai represented Thailand to discuss border problems and restore ties with Burmese leaders.

    He said the closure of Tachilek border checkpoint was also discussed, and believed the border would be reopened soon as the township was falling short of necessary commodities.