Daily News-April 15- 2001- Sunday

  • White House Memo for Secretary of State on Burma
  • Rangoon Lashes Out as EU Extends Sanctions
  • Burma democracy leader Suu Kyi's aunt dies at 93
  • Burma issues disciplinary rules for water festival
  • Burma's support for scheme sought

  • White House Memo for Secretary of State on Burma

    U.S. Newswire -13 Apr 18:05

    To: National Desk
    Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580

    WASHINGTON, April 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by the White House:


    SUBJECT: Report to the Congress Regarding Conditions in Burma and U.S. Policy Toward Burma

    Pursuant to the requirements set forth under the heading "Policy Toward Burma" in section 570(d) of the Fiscal Year 1997 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, as contained in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 104-208), a report is required every 6 months following enactment concerning:

    1) progress toward democratization in Burma;

    2) progress on improving the quality of life of the Burmese people, including progress on market reforms, living standards, labor standards, use of forced labor in the tourism industry, and environmental quality; and

    3) progress made in developing a comprehensive, multi-lateral strategy to bring democracy to and improve human rights practices and the quality of life in Burma, including the development of a dialogue between the State Peace and Development Council and democratic opposition groups in Burma.

    You are hereby authorized and directed to transmit the attached report fulfilling these requirements for the period September 28, 2000, through March 27, 2001, to the appropriate committees of the Congress and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register.

    Rangoon Lashes Out as EU Extends Sanctions

    source : The Irrawaddy News Magazine
    Maung Maung Oo

    April 14, 2001-Burma's ruling military junta angrily rejected a decision by the European Union to extend its sanctions against Burma for another six months. The sanctions include an arms embargo and a ban on non-humanitarian aid and visas for members of the Burmese regime.

    In a strongly worded statement, Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung said that the regime would disregard the EU's "bullying tactics", calling Burma "a dignified country that refuses to beg."

    EU foreign ministers, who announced their decision in Luxembourg on Monday following their monthly meeting, also called on the Rangoon generals to take "concrete steps" towards national reconciliation with opposition groups. They added that they could not find any evidence of substantial improvement in Burma's human rights situation.

    Earlier this year, an EU troika delegation, consisting of representatives from Belgium, Sweden, the EU Commission and the EU Council of Ministers,visited Rangoon. During their four-day stay, they met with both opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and military strongman Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.

    Last month the EU granted Burma duty-free access to the European market as a least- developed country. Many analysts suggested that this trade privilege for Burma was a result of the report of the EU troika delegation and a "green light" to Rangoon. The troika said in a statement following its visit that ongoing talks between the regime and the opposition National League for Democracy represented the "most interesting development since 1990" in domestic events.

    Last November, however, the International Labor Organization (ILO) signaled stronger international condemnation of some of the junta's practices by announcing an unprecedented censure measure aimed at ending the widespread use of forced labor in Burma. The Burmese junta has retaliated by setting up "ILO study groups", consisting of government officials and members of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The groups are compiling data supposedly representing the reactions of Burmese workers to the ILO sanctions. The United Nations Economic and Social Council will discuss the ILO sanctions at its coming July conference.

    Recently, a bipartisan group of United States senators urged the new Bush administration to maintain sanctions against Burma, imposed by former President Bill Clinton in 1997. Bush's Secretary of State Colin Powell has called for a review of US sanctions against 75 nations, a move that has encouraged the Rangoon regime. The regime's influential Office of Strategic Studies, under the direction of intelligence chief Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, recently organized a meeting attended by political specialists from the right-wing Zurich-based think tank, the European Foundation, to examine the likelihood of the US lifting sanctions. The meeting concluded that while most Americans felt that sanctions had failed, "they have some difficulties in admitting it."

    Meanwhile, Rangoon continues to blame Western sanctions for Burma's economic woes. But most people familiar with Burma's business environment blame the country's troubles on the junta's misguided and often inconsistent policies. "(The sanctions) are just covering their mismanagement, which is the real reason for the economic decline," remarked one businessman in Rangoon recently.

    While debate rages even among exiled activists about the value of sanctions, many consider the EU's action a timely reminder that little has materialized to date from the talks in Rangoon, which started last October.

    "The EU made the right decision," said Aung Thu Nyein, vice chairman of Democratic Party for a New Society and former general secretary of the All Burma Students Democratic Front. "There has been no significant progress in the seven- month-old dialog between the junta and Aung San Su Kyi."He added that moves by Japan to resume aid to Burma were premature.
    Burma democracy leader Suu Kyi's aunt dies at 93

    YANGON April 14 Kyodo - A funeral was held Saturday in Yangon for Khin Gyi, elder sister of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's mother Khin Kyi.

    Khin Gyi died Thursday, aged 93. Friends and relatives attended the funeral at the Yayway cemetery, but Suu Kyi was not seen.

    Khin Gyi's husband Thakin Than Tun, a communist leader, went underground in March 1948 and rose up in arms against the government three months after Myanmar gained independence from Britain. He died in the jungle in September 1968, assassinated by an aide.
    Burma issues disciplinary rules for water festival

    Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur

    Yangon, April 12, 2001: Myanmar's military rulers issued strict new regulations Thursday to ensure that this year's Thingyan, or "water festival," does not get out of hand.

    State regulations for the festival, celebrated in many Asian countries to mark the peak of the dry season and often tinged with spirited water fights, were announced by all state-run media outlets.

    "Vehicles must not be driven as if in a race," said the motor vehicle discipline enforcement committee. "Motorcycles must not remove their silencers. Vehicle plate numbers must be genuine. Vehicle doors must not be removed."

    "The state flag of any country must not be flown on cars," media said. "Drastic action will be taken against anyone who breaches the rules."

    The regulations stated that those caught throwing ice packets or soapy water from gas cans would be imprisoned for three years, while the sellers of either would be imprisoned for five years, the Yangon Division of Peace and Development Council warned through the media.

    Those possessing either the ice packs or filled gas cans would be imprisoned for one year, according to the council. The water festival is celebrated throughout most of Asia and dates back to ancient Brahman times.
    Burma's support for scheme sought

    source : Bangkokpost

    The International Organisation of Migration is seeking Thai help to secure Burma's support for a micro-financing scheme for the resettlement of refugees in Burma.

    Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathiarathai said the IOM was also interested in expanding work with hundreds of thousands of Burmese refugees in Thailand.

    Brunson McKinley, the IOM director-general, had asked Thailand to help raise the issue of micro-credit schemes with Burmese authorities before the IOM broached the issue with them directly.

    "Burma should trust the IOM since they are neutral, professional and non-political," Mr Surakiart said.

    The minister would inform Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra before raising the issue with his Burmese counterpart Win Aung during his visit to Rangoon on May 1-2.