Daily News-April 14- 2001- Saturday

  • EU submits Burma resolution to U.N. human rights commission
  • Burma / Myanmar : extension of the Common Position / Declaration by the EU et al
  • Burma campaigner re-enacts crucifixion
  • US Special Forces join drugs war
  • Burma's Foreign Trade Up 13.8 Percent in 2000
  • Korean bulker sinks without trace
  • Five inmates shot dead in attempted prison breakout

  • EU submits Burma resolution to U.N. human rights commission

    GENEVA April 12 Kyodo - The European Union on Thursday demanded freedom of movement for opposition leaders in Myanmar, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and criticized the human rights record of the military government in Yangon.

    An EU draft resolution submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Commission currently meeting in Geneva, called on the Myanmar government to release political prisoners and those detained in ''government guest houses'' and to permit ''unrestricted communication with and physical access'' to Suu Kyi and other political leaders.

    It noted that human rights violations such as ''extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances, rape, torture, inhuman treatment, mass arrests'' have continued in Myanmar.

    Such human rights abuses have had ''a significant adverse effect on the health and welfare of the people of Myanmar,'' the draft said.

    The EU also said the Myanmar government ''has failed to cease its widespread and systematic use of forced labor of its own people'' and called on the country's military rulers to cooperate with the International Labor Organization, which imposed sanctions on Myanmar last year.

    ''Concrete legislative, executive and administrative measures to eradicate the practice'' of forced labor should be adopted, the draft resolution said.U.N. sources said the draft resolution is scheduled to be taken up by the human rights commission on Wednesday.

    At a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission on Thursday, Chinese exiled dissident Wei Jingshen, who currently lives in the United States, was given time allocated to an Italian non-governmental organization to make a speech.Wei criticized authorities in Beijing for corruption and called for legal reforms to upgrade the standing of ordinary citizens in China.
    Burma / Myanmar : extension of the Common Position / Declaration by the EU et al.

    Press Release: Brussels (12-04-2001) - Press: 147 - Nr: 7892/01

    Subject :Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union regarding a declaration by the Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union, the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, concerning the extension of the Common Position on Burma/Myanmar

    The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union, the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, declare that they share the objectives of common position 2001/284/CFSP defined by the Council of the European Union on 9 April 2001 on the basis of Article 15 of the Treaty on European Union concerning the extension of the Common Position on Burma/Myanmar. They will ensure that their national policies conform to that common position.The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.
    Burma campaigner re-enacts crucifixion

    Evening Standard, Apr 13, 2001

    Human rights campaigner James Mawdsley has appealed for help for the world's oppressed at a re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion.Mr Mawdsley was taking part in the Good Friday ceremony in central London.

    He was freed in October from a Burmese prison after serving 14 months of a 17-year prison sentence for distributing pro-democracy leaflets,Mr Mawdsley, who said his Catholic faith helped him during his incarceration, told the congregation: "Like our Lord, people are suffering, and suffering unto death. Other people are dying slow, cruel and agonising deaths. "

    A-level student Yohannes Hailelul, 18, from St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, west London, carried a cross through Westminster at noon, helped by Mr Mawdsley, from Lancashire, who was wearing a sober grey suit. It is the 10th year the ecumenical ceremony has taken place. It is raising money for The Passage, a homelessness shelter, and Jubilee Campaign, a human rights organisation which has worked with Mr Mawdsley.

    Mr Mawdsley, a former Bristol University physics student, spent 416 days in solitary confinement in Burma's Kengtung prison, during which his nose was broken and he was given contaminated food after he wrote protest slogans in his cell.

    The procession met opposite Westminster Abbey for a gospel reading from Foreign Office minister Baroness Scotland, who worked for Mr Mawdsley's release.It then marched to Westminster Cathedral for reflections by Mr Mawdsley and messages from the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Monsignor George Stack beneath the 50ft tall Jubilee Cross.The procession then headed back to Westminster Abbey for a message from the Rev Dr Malcolm White, of Methodist Central Hall.
    US Special Forces join drugs war

    source : The Nation

    CRACK troops from the United States will join Thailand's war on drugs in the coming months, in a new bid to stem the enormous flow of drugs from Burma.About 20 soldiers from the US First Special Forces Group will train Thailand's newly formed Task Force 399 starting from October, a senior Third Army officer said yesterday, on condition of anonymity.

    The secretive task force - made up of 100 members of the Thai Special Forces, two infantry units with about 100 soldiers each and a 100-strong unit of Border Police - will be based out of Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district, the officer said.The American Special Forces will arrive here next month along with 5,000 other American soldiers to take part in the annual joint-military exercise, Cobra Gold, with their Thai counterparts.

    Creating the anti-drugs taskforce is the latest tactic by authorities to curb the flow of illicit drugs, mostly methamphetamines, from areas under the control of Burma's armed ethnic rebels, particularly the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which operates with little hindrance in Burma's Shan State.

    Anti-narcotics cooperation between Thailand and the US has a long but relatively unpublicised history, Panitan Wattanayagorn, a security expert at Chulalongkorn University, said.Past operations were pretty much focused against opium-poppy cultivation and heroin trafficking, which Thailand sees as mainly affecting other countries. But because growth in synthetic stimulant abuse has become a local issue detrimentally impacting just about every corner of Thai society, said Panitan, news about the American Special Forces working with local troops was likely to attracted great attention.

    Up to 800 million speed pills produced in Burma's north were expected to flood into Thailand this year, the officer said, adding that the UWSA was responsible for most of the illicit drug production.

    The UWSA came into being in 1989 shortly after the fall of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). It soon signed a cease-fire with the military government in Rangoon. The bulk of the UWSA's troops served as infantry for the CPB, which was backed by the Chinese Communists before it fell apart.

    Under an agreement with the Burmese junta that allows it some degree of autonomy, the 20,000-strong outfit has extended its power base in Burma's Shan State from along the Chinese border southward to areas across from Thailand's Mae Ai and Fang districts. New towns such as Mong Yawn and Mong Mai, built by hundreds of Thai labourers and Thai construction companies, have sprung up in recent years as millions of methamphetamine tablets, known locally as yaa baa, have been sent across the border and sold in Thai cities.

    The trade proceeded relatively unperturbed until two years ago when the bodies of nine Thai nationals from Chiang Mai's Fang district were discovered by the border near the Wa area. All fingers pointed to Mong Yawn for the murderers. Thai authorities were forced to impose economic sanctions against the Wa by closing the border crossing to their territory.

    The Burmese regime, on the other hand, has come under strong criticism from both Thailand and Western countries for turning a blind eye to the Wa's illicit activities.

    Thailand's Third Army commander, Lt General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, has accused a number of top Burmese military chiefs of taking bribes from the Wa.
    Burma's Foreign Trade Up 13.8 Percent in 2000

    YANGON, April 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar's foreign trade, including the border trade, totaled 4.086 billion U.S. dollars in 2000, up 13.8 percent from 1999, according to the country's Central Statistical Organization (CSO).

    Of the total trade volume, imports were valued at 2.567 billion dollars, increasing by 6.51 percent, while export amounted to 1. 519 billion dollars, rising by 28.94 percent. However, the trade deficit stood at 1.048 billion dollars, the CSO said in its latest data released for 2000.

    During the year, the import value of consumers goods, capital goods and intermediate goods accounted for 44.2 percent, 28.2 percent and 27.6 percent of the total imports respectively.

    Myanmar mainly exports agricultural products, timber and marine products. The figures also indicate that Myanmar's private sector is playing a leading role in the country's foreign trade.

    During the year, the import value of the private sector made up 76.8 percent of the total imports, while its export value represented 68.5 percent of the total exports. The import and export value of the government sector during the year accounted for only 23.2 percent and 31.5 percent respectively.

    Myanmar's main foreign trading partners are Singapore, China, Thailand and Japan.
    Korean bulker sinks without trace

    An elderly bulk carrier is missing believed sunk off the southern part of Japan, the Japanese Coast Guard reported Wednesday.

    The ship, the 40,000-dwt Honghae Sanyo(built 1976), was carrying a cargo of sea sand bound for Ieshima Island in Hyogo Prefecture from the Korean port of Inchon when it went missing.

    A solitary lifeboat from the missing ship was found drifting about 47 kilometres south of Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture by the Japanese Coast Guard.No trace has been found of the 28 man crew.

    The ship is registered to Pusan-based Hong Hae Universal Co. A company spokesman said search and rescue operations were currently underway.

    Almost twelve months ago the Korean-flagged ship was detained in the Japanese port of Wakayama after port state control inspectors uncovered six different deficiencies.

    Prior to that it had two port state control inspections both of which uncovered a number of deficiencies. But on neither occasion was the ship detained.
    Five inmates shot dead in attempted prison breakout

    source : The Nation

    FIVE inmates were killed and two wardens seriously injured in a failed jailbreak attempt by Thai and Burmese drug detainees at the Bangkok Remand Prison yesterday, Corrections Department officials said.

    A senior prison official said preliminary investigations showed that a suspected Burmese drug king detained in the jail's exclusive section for defendants in drug trafficking cases arranged the jailbreak from behind bars by promising to pay outside accomplices Bt5 million to help him and his friends escape.While wardens were subduing the chaos inside the jail yesterday, prison guards and police intercepted a van outside and arrested three men suspected to be waiting to pick up the drug detainees.

    The melee broke out at about 12 pm when five inmates in the Central Correctional Ward attacked wardens with iron chains and metal sticks, prison officials said.The five men were joined by 15 other detainees but were subdued by wardens who rushed in to help. Gunfire broke out and five of the inmates in the break-out attempt were found dead with gunshot wounds when the 20-minute skirmish was over, the officials said.Two wardens, Wichian Tanalert and Chaleo Chujan, were reportedly seriously injured in the attack and later underwent emergency operations in hospital.

    The names of the five dead inmates as released by the prison were Newin (a Burmese national), Vorapot Amkham, Krong Sae Nam, Pramote Neungsuwan and Visarut Lamtee. They had been held at the prison on charges of trafficking amphetamines in quantities numbering from 1,020 to 205,000 pills. Their cases were pending in court.

    Corrections Department Director General Siwa Saengmanee said yesterday that interviews with the recaptured inmates had revealed that one of the detainees trying to break out, Cheng Long Wien, a Burmese drug suspect with the alias Ah Lieng, was the mastermind of the attempted jailbreak.The suspected drug king was arrested with more than 1 million amphetamine pills and had been detained at the prison for about 20 days, Siwa said.

    Director of the Central Correctional Ward Sopon Thitidhammapruek said investigations showed that Ah Lieng had hatched the jailbreak plan from behind bars and offered outside accomplices Bt5 million to help him and his friends to escape.He said the suspect and the other inmates might have tried to flee after they heard news about the first execution of a convicted amphetamine trafficker during the term of the current government earlier this week.

    The three suspects arrested in the van waiting outside the centre, Thossapon Lertnimitmongkol, a former member of the national Taekwando team, and brothers Wichian and Wichai Amkham, were detained at Prachachuen police station for questioning.

    Sopon said the recaptured inmates claimed that there were six vehicles waiting to pick them up but prison guards said they spotted only a sedan and a pick-up speeding away when they intercepted the van with the three men aboard.