Daily News-August 10 - 2001- Friday


  • Secret Burma talks revealed
  • Junta urges exiles to contribute in the Nation-Building Task
  • 88 Bloodshed Observed around Canada
  • Democracy Uprising Remembered
  • Russia to sell jet fighters to Myanmar
  • Jet-Fighter Training Needed in Burma
  • Burma’s spy chief Khin Nyunt to visit Thailand soon
  • Thai prime minister orders troop reinforcement along Burmese border
  • 37kg of heroin seized in Thailand
  • Exhibition of Bangladeshi goods in Myanmar in Oct
  • Rakan Muda Zodiac aircraft arrives safely
  • Bangladesh says 10 wounded by Myanmar firing


  • Secret Burma talks revealed

    AM - Thursday, August 9, 2001 8:18
    This is a transcript of AM broadcast at 0800 AEST on local radio.

    LINDA MOTTRAM: The first reliable details have been emerging of the secret dialogue between Burma's ruling junta and democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. And far from the power sharing discussions reported by some, it's now clear that talks have not progressed past confidence building.

    On top of that Burmese Government Ministers have told the ABC in exclusive interviews that the lengthy process of drafting a new constitution must precede any transfer of power, raising new questions about the junta's real intentions.

    South East Asia correspondent, Geoff Thompson, reports.

    GEOFF THOMPSON: It's been almost a year since Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's ruling generals agreed to talk, locked in a covenant of utmost secrecy. Now for the first time, that secrecy has been penetrated and sources who know have contacted Burma scholar, Bertil Lintner, divulging the essence of the talks and setting straight some wild speculation that power sharing deals were imminent.

    BERTIL LINTNER: Information has come out of Burma through secret channels with details about the secret talks and it's the first time that anyone has been privy to information directly from the talks in Rangoon.Exactly who the source is, is of course impossible to say because that would mean that there will be no more releases of prisoners if the sources could be identified. But the information is solid and it also rings very true because there is nothing actually at all to indicate that politics or political issues have been discussed during these talks, not even the Government has claimed that.

    GEOFF THOMPSON: After so much silence, at last some light has been thrown on the mindset of Aung San Suu Kyi. Bertil Lintner.

    BERTIL LINTNER; Basically Aung San Suu Kyi has agreed to these talks in order to get her people out of gaol. And there are about 2,000 political prisoners in Burma today. She thinks that the process is going far too slow. She has also said that there should be no rewards in the form of aid and assistance until all political prisoners have been released.

    The Government has agreed to some of these demands by letting people go in order to attract foreign aid and investment but Suu Kyi is opposed to any other resumption of aid. That is basically what is being discussed in Rangoon right now. No one is talking about power sharing or Coalition Governments or other rather outlandish speculations which we have seen in the press here in the region.

    GEOFF THOMPSON: That assessment on the status of the talks has been backed up by two senior Burmese Government Ministers. Tin Win is a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office. He told the ABC that the talks are still focussed on confidence building and said that the long debated issue of drafting Burma's next constitution must be settled before any discussions about transferring power.

    TIN WIN: Without any new constitution, it can help us move forward.

    GEOFF THOMPSON: Deputy Foreign Minister, U Khin Maung Win, confirms that the constitutional debate that has dominated Burmese politics for decades must be resolved before any transitional government is formed.

    U KHIN MAUNG WIN: Without a constitution how can there be a transfer of power? Because you know, the previous constitution was a one-party state.

    GEOFF THOMPSON: So we won't see a transitional government until we have a new constitution?

    U KHIN MAUNG WIN: Yes. Constitution must come first.

    LINDA MOTTRAM: Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister, U Khin Maung Win.

    TO LISTEN

    Junta urges exiles to contribute in the Nation-Building Task

    Excerpt from Information Sheet N0.B-1915(I) 9th August, 2001

    The Government of Myanmar Urges Those With Confrontational Attitude to Come Out from Living in the Past and to Meaningfully Contribute in the Nation-Building Task

    The Government as well as the independent observers are surprised to learn that U Khin Kyaw Han, an MP-elect who was released from a Government Guest House fled to the Thai border to join the armed outlawed groups. It is indeed regretful that U Khin Kyaw Han not only has refused to meaningfully participate and cooperate in the reconciliation-process taking place between the Government and the NLD party but has been sidetracked by those groups which desire to continue with the policy of confrontation and to live in the past.

    Similarly, the Nation newspaper of Thailand dated 9th August printed an article entitled "Protesters urge junta to reopen universities" written by Subhatra Bhumiprabhas. The reporter quoted some elements of outlawed armed terrorist group assuming the name All Burma Student Democratic Front stating that the universities in Myanmar are still closed and only the military-run universities are allowed to open. It is really sad to learn that this so-called student democratic front is not aware of the fact that all the universities and colleges in Myanmar are opened and running in full steam for over 2 years already and that institutions like medicine and engineering have been running for much longer while post- graduate courses have never been closed.

    It is quite understandable that the outlawed armed groups like the so-called student democratic front are applying black propaganda in this case and it will be extremely shocking that they are showing interest in taking the responsibility and interest in protecting the Myanmar student rights when these self-interest groups are believed to be unaware of the present developments of the higher education and the campus situation in Myanmar. But independent observers are also not ruling out the fact that such a ridiculous news title may be solely the work of the newspaper itself.
    88 Bloodshed Observed around Canada

    By Tin Maung Htoo
    Burma Media Association (www.bma-online.net)
    August 8, 2001

    While 13th anniversary of 8.8.88 Burma Democracy Uprising is taking place in dozens of countries in the world, Burmese and Canadian activists who live in the second largest country in the world are holding the event in separate locations.

    Despite that cities they live are hundreds and thousands mile away from each other, as well as varied dates and the historic heat line crossing over Canada, they have enthusiasm to show their remembrance and respect for those who sacrificed their precious lives for the Democracy in Burma.

    Today in Ottawa, about 30 demonstrators reinforced with student activists, who traveled five hours away from Toronto, gathered in front of Burmese Embassy at local time 2:00 p.m. and asked for a change in the country. They also plan to reassemble at Canada's Human Rights Monument at 8:30 p.m. this evening in order to honor for those who sacrificed their lives in the movement with the candlelight vigil.Ms. Soha, program officer from Canadian Friends of Burma, said they delivered a statement to Burmese embassy through a Canadian policeman.

    Canadian Friends of Burma with the coordination of the Burmese Students' Democratic Organization (BSDO) and Chin Human rights Group stated in the press release, "[we] urge the Canadian government to impose full economic sanctions against Burma so that Canadian companies cannot continue to support a brutal dictatorship." They also demanded Canadian companies stop doing business in Burma, saying that their investments are not benefiting the poor people of Burma, but only propping up the military in power.

    Yesterday in Vancouver, about 30 activists gathered in front of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., which invested 300 U.S dollar in Burma's mining sector, and the demonstrators denounced the company direct or indirect involvement in human rights abuses in Burma, displaying colorful signs and posters at the entrance of the office. Vancouver regional chairman of Burmese Students' Democratic Organization (BSDO) San Aung said on the phone that the demonstration was joint effort of BSDO, Canadian Karen Community (C.K.C) and Mon Community of Canada (M.C.C), along with the support of Canadian activists from Vancouver Burma Roundtable.

    "Our numbers weren't large, but we did try to lift up our voices loud enough to be heard in the executive suite of Ivanhoe on the ninth floor of the office tower which houses company headquarters. Nobody waved in response," Burma Courier editor Eric Snider who took part in the demo said.

    Keynote speaker in the event is a famous Canadian poet and two times governor-general Award winner Karen Connelly, and she is involved in Burma issues, and recently issued her latest book of poetry, 'The Border Surrounds Us', based on experience and people she has talked with at the Thai-Burma border.

    "We have chosen this place to gather to commemorate the 1988 democracy uprising in Burma because Canadian investors and corporations like Ivanhoe Mines willingly and knowingly work with and uphold the same violent military regime that tortures, imprisons, enslaves, and murders its own people," said in her keynote speak.

    As well in Admonton where World Track and Field competitions are going on,activists from Burma Watch International are busy with the event for tomorrow. According to their press release the commemoration is organized with the help of United Church Interfaith and planning to hold it in a city's church with the candlelight vigil and speeches of some well known Canadians.

    The day before yesterday in Toronto, a group of regional BSDO members also held a commemoration event at the Burmese monastery by offering food and donations for monks in order to pray for colleagues and friends who gave away their lives in the movement.

    It has been reported that a number of countries including Thailand, India, USA,Australia, Malaysia, and the Philippine have carried out commemoration and demonstration in their respective countries and cities.
    Democracy Uprising Remembered

    By Maung Maung Oo
    source : The Irrawaddy News Magazine

    August 9, 2001--Burmese dissident groups and democracy activists around the world yesterday recognized the 13th anniversary of the August 8, 1988 pro-democracy uprising in Burma, where thousands of innocent people were massacred by Burmese government troops.

    In Bangkok, a peaceful protest in front of the Burmese Embassy was attended by a about hundred pro-democracy supporters—mainly Thai activists and foreigners sympathetic to Burma's continuing struggle to bring democracy to the country, which has been ruled by an iron-fisted military dictatorship for almost four decades now.

    Only a few Burmese exiles took part in the rally due to the threat of a Thai police crackdown on the event. Many Burmese exiles living in Thailand risk arrest and deportation for staying in the country without proper documentation, said Aung Lwin Oo, a Burmese student living in Bangkok. "Most of them (at the embassy) are Thai activists and foreigners who sympathize with the Burmese democracy struggle," he added.

    In Maneeloy, about two hours’ drive west of Bangkok, residents of a holding center for Burmese students said that there were rumors Thai authorities planned to deport anyone from the camp who participated in the protest in front of the embassy.

    Up until two years ago, Burmese students in exile held a protest every year in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok commemorating the 8-8-88 massacre. But after a group of Burmese students stormed the embassy in 1999, Thai authorities have not allowed the exiled students to hold the protest.

    Meanwhile, similar demonstrations took place in front the Burmese Embassy in Manila, attended by both Burmese exiles and foreign sympathizers.

    Representatives from a variety of dissident groups attended an anniversary commemoration ceremony led by the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Karen National Union (KNU) at the Mae Kong Kah base near the Thai-Burma border. The National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) also held a similar event in Mae Sot, a Thai border town opposite Myawaddy in Burma.

    Also yesterday, the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) (NLD-LA) and the All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions (ABSFU) released a joint statement demanding the release of all details concerning the ongoing secret talks between the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the National League for Democracy (NLD)that began last October.

    Despite international commemoration of the massacre, Rangoon yesterday was quiet except for a noticeable increase in plainclothes officers from the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), who were closely monitoring all movements in downtown areas, according to some observers in Rangoon.The NLD, which had planned to hold a low-key ceremony at their Rangoon headquarters, cancelled their observance of the massacre for reasons that remain unclear.
    Russia to sell jet fighters to Myanmar

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 9, 2001

    Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

    Moscow, 9 August: Russia is expected to sell 10 MiG-29 fighters and armaments worth 150m dollars to Myanmar, well-informed sources in Moscow told Interfax on Thursday [9 August]. They said the two countries had been working on the contract since 1996.

    In the meantime, other sources told Interfax that a Russian military delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev completed a four day visit to Myanmar on Thursday.

    "The meetings and talks in Yangon focused mainly on questions of military-technical cooperation," a source said.

    Sources said MiG-29s decommissioned from the Russian air force will be delivered. "The fighters are in good condition and have undergone certain upgrading and improvements," a source said.
    Jet-Fighter Training Needed in Burma

    FEER, Issue cover-dated August 16, 2001

    It will take years before the 10 MiG-29 fighter jets that Burma has ordered from Russia can be seen as an effective addition to the country's antiquated air force, Western military analysts say.

    Burma does not have any pilots qualified to handle modern jet fighters, and training will be a major problem. One option, the analysts say, would be to hire Russian or other East European pilots to fly the aircraft.

    But given Burmese sensitivities regarding direct foreign participation in its defence, it is more likely that the deal to buy the aircraft will involve initial training in Russia and the posting of Russian instructors to Burma.

    In the past, Burmese air force personnel have been trained in Yugoslavia, Poland and China before the purchase of aircraft from those countries, and instructors from China and Russia have come briefly to Burma.

    But the likely arrival of more Russian instructors who will stay for longer periods--years, even--to train Burmese fighter pilots would mark a new era in Burma's foreign military relations. Until now, Chinese instructors have been the only foreign military personnel stationed in Burma.
    Burma’s spy chief Khin Nyunt to visit soon

    source : The Nation
    Marisa Chimprabha

    Burma’s intelligence chief, LtGeneral Khin Nyunt, will make an official visit to Bangkok on September 1 as a guest of the Thai government, a Defence Ministry official said yesterday.

    General Sanan Kajornklam said the visit would be the first since 1992 for the Burmese general, who is secretary general of the State Peace and Development Council and number three in the military junta. General Pat Akkanibutr, adviser to the Defence Minister, said the Burmese general’s visit was expected to help resolve ThaiBurma problems.

    There are some bilateral problems that need to be tackled as soon as possible, for the sake of both countries,Pat said. For example, the fishery problems [occurring because] Burma revoked all the fishing licences held by Thai companies,he said.

    Border demarcation, generally overseen by a joint border committee, would also be discussed, Pat said. There were sticking points that need to be discussed to resolve matters once and for all, he said.During Khin Nyunt’s visit, both countries are expected to discuss bilateral bordertrade problems sparked by a Burmese ban on about 40 Thai products.

    Defence Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said one of the top issues to be discussed would be joint border patrols to quell drug and people trafficking between the two countries.Chavalit said if a proposal could be agreed upon, both sides might formalise the issue of joint patrols while the Burmese general was in Bangkok.

    ThaiBurma relations have been at a low ebb of late, partly because of ongoing border skirmishes involving the Shan State Army, which is fighting the junta, and drug production by the Rangoonbacked United Wa State Army.
    Thai prime minister orders troop reinforcement along Burmese border

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 9, 2001
    Text of report by Thai radio on 9 August

    Prime Minister Pol Lt-Col Thaksin Shinawatra has called for the reinforcement of the military units along the border with Burma in Phophra District of Tak Province and pledged to take drastic action against government officials involved in narcotics trafficking.

    The prime minister said he had been informed about the clash between Thai troops and soldiers of the Karen Buddhist group, known as the DKBA [Democratic Karen Buddhist Army], in the vicinity of Houai Namnak and Chongkhaep villages in Phophra District on the morning of 7 August during which three Thai soldiers were killed and pointed out that the incident was the result of the intensified suppression operations against narcotics trafficking. The prime minister disclosed that authorities yesterday seized over 35 kg of heroin.

    The prime minister disclosed that authorities consficated more than 35 kg of heroin yesterday. He said he has also received a list of 377 police officers who are involved in drug trade. Further investigation will be conducted. If they are found guilty, their negligent superiors will also be punished. The prime minister said:

    [Thaksin] Since we have declared war against narcotics, we must take drastic action against traffickers. Our country will be in danger if we do not do anything.

    Source: Radio Thailand, Bangkok, in Thai 0000 gmt 9 Aug 01
    37kg of heroin seized in Thailand

    source : The Nation

    Police yesterday arrested five suspects, including two known associates of fugitive drug kingpin Wei Sia Kang, and seized 37 kilogrammes of heroin in two related operations.

    Narcotic Suppression Bureau Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Priewphan Damapong identified the five suspects as Boonsong Khamtan, 31, Eum Sunan, 29, Ahsuapha Laomee, 27, Arthit Kasemjit, 24, and Sombat Mongduang, 32.Police also seized three cars, six mobile phones, and a 9mmcalibre pistol.

    Priewphan said Sombat worked for the fugitive drug kingpin and had been blacklisted by police who were monitoring his activities.Sombat and Ahsuapha were arrested at a highway checkpoint in Kampaengphet after police stopped and searched their car, finding the heroin. The two men confessed that they were smuggling heroin from Burma via Chiang Rai to Bangkok, Priewphan said. The three other suspects were arrested in Bangkok where they were allegedly waiting for the drug to be delivered.

    Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said the AntiMoney Laundering Committee has frozen assets of five more people. About Bt20 million in assets have been frozen from the five people on suspicion they had earned the money from drug trafficking.
    Exhibition of Bangladeshi goods in Myanmar in Oct

    The Daily Star - August 09, 2001.

    UNB, Dhaka- A solo exhibition of Bangladeshi goods will be held in Myanmar in the first week of October to develop an export market there. Besides, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh will arrange similar exhibitions of Bangladeshi goods in Katmandu and Saudi Arabia soon, EPB director Faridul Hasan told a meeting with Chittagong Chamber and Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Promotion Council (BMBPC) in Chittagong yesterday.

    Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Farid Ahmed Chowdhury said the huge reserves of bamboo and limestone in the Rakhain state of Myanmar, close to Bangladesh border, would be more feasible to use commercially by Bangladesh in establishing cement and paper pulp industry. But, it is necessary to construct a bridge over the river Naf and jetties at the riverbanks on both its two sides to take the advantage and turn the trade potential into reality, he said.

    "We'll have to develop bilateral economic relation with Myanmar on the basis of regional cooperation due to face the reality of competitive global economic scenario," said BMBPC chairman Rashed Maksud Khan. He said other countries will make use of the advantage if the two countries fail to utilise the natural resources of both sides despite existing opportunities.Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are now considering investment in Myanmar due to its resources, he added.

    CCCI senior vice president SM Nurul Huq, vice president MA Latif, BMBPC vice chairman Syed Mahmudul Huq, EPB Director in Chittagong Kazi Mahbubur Rahman, former CCCI president Engr Ali Ahmed and Youngone Corporation chairman Kihak Sung also spoke at the meeting, said a press release.
    Rakan Muda Zodiac aircraft arrives safely

    By Patrick Sennyah
    08 August 2001 The New Straits Times Press

    YANGON - The two Rakan Muda Zodiac aircraft which left the Sungei Besi airforce base on Aug 5 for the Asean Voyage of Friendship mission successfully arrived in Mergui, Myanmar at 8am today (Yangon time). The two aircraft had reached Kwangthoung in Myanmar on Aug 6 and were scheduled to leave for Mergui, about 144 nautical miles away the same day.

    However, according to Asean Voyage of Friendship co-ordinator Othman Harun, bad weather conditions had hampered efforts to take off and the aircraft only managed to leave Kwangthoung this morning.

    The two Zodiac experimental aircraft, the 9M-ERM and 9M-ERA are assembled by Rakan Muda volunteers and piloted by Colonel Zakaria Salleh , Shahrizal Azley Suleiman and Affendy Syed Omar and B. Sivanesh respectively. Othman said the flight path of the two Zodiacs, after arriving in Mergui was to depart for Yangon, more than 500 miles away.

    However, he said due to the uncertainty in the weather, the route had been altered and the Zodiacs would fly to Bangkok tomorrow. The journey is expected to take about three hours.

    Meanwhile, the Rakan Muda participants and support entourage, including members of the media on board airforce aircraft, CN235 arrived in Yangon yesterday about 3.45pm (Yangon time).

    The objective of the Asean Voyage of Friendship is to ensure that each Asean country gets a personalised invitation scroll on their soil from the Minister of Youth and Sports special envoy for his counterpart and the people in those countries to attend the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in September.

    Dr Ahmad Othman, who is the director of the Ministrys Skills Development Division is scheduled to hand over the invitational scroll to Myanmar Sports Minister Brigadier General Thura Aye Mint during a brief ceremony later today.

    Yangoon is the first country of the northern route for the Asean Voyage of Friendship. Other countries are Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The support entourage is expected to leave Yangon for Vientiane in Laos tomorrow where they will attend another handing over ceremony on Aug 10.

    The two Zodiacs, upon their arrival in Bangkok tomorrow are scheduled to refuel and leave for Veintiane where they will join the support entourage. The Asean Voyage of Friendship 2001 was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad on July 14 as part of the Rakan Muda Aviation Development Programme.
    Bangladesh says 10 wounded by Myanmar firing

    COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Bangladesh said on Thursday that at least 10 Bangladeshi fishermen were wounded when Myanmar border guards fired on them inside Bangladesh territory.

    "Myanmar border guards shot and wounded at least 10 of our fishermen inside Bangladesh's water territory in the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday," Lt. Col. Rafiqur Rahman Bhuiyan said.

    He told reporters the guards fired on four Bangladeshi boats fishing near Saint Martin's island. Bhuiyan said Bangladesh had lodged a protest with the Myanmar government.