Daily News-August 30 - 2001- Thursday

  • DVB reports poor health of prominent political prisoners
  • Top Myanmar general to visit Thailand next week
  • Group in rally to stop deportations
  • Report fingers Rangoon for state bias against minorities
  • Burma women refugees face multiple discrimination
  • Yaa Baa Dealer Wounded In Mae Sot
  • Myanmar drug money laundered on Thai stock market
  • India plans new defence base
  • Malaysian defence minister addresses regional security meeting
  • Burmese TV reports 19 armed group members exchange weapons for peace in July
  • U.N. special envoy leaves Myanmar after 4-day visit

  • DVB reports poor health of prominent political prisoners

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 29, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 28 August

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that Democracy Party Chairman U Thu Wai has been transferred from Insein Jail to Rangoon general hospital prisoners' ward on the basement floor due to his poor health.

    U Thu Wai, who is suffering from a heart condition and low blood pressure, was transferred to Rangoon general hospital last week and given treatment due to his deteriorating health.

    At present security is very tight at Rangoon general hospital prisoners' ward because other prominent political prisoners such as U Win Tin, former editor of the Hanthawaddy newspaper, U Htwe Myint, vice-chairman of Democracy Party, and U Aye Thar Aung, secretary of the Committee Representing Peoples' Parliament, are all being treated there.

    Other people are not allowed to meet them while immediate family members are allowed the normal once-a-fortnight visit. It is known that Democracy Party Vice-Chairman U Htwe Myint's health is the worst of the four.

    The Rangoon political circle expects the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] government to release U Htwe Myint during UN Special Envoy Mr Razali's visit. Furthermore, they believe that the SPDC will also release sick political prisoners as soon as possible.

    Meanwhile, one social worker helping the political prisoners told DVB about the health condition of some political prisoners.

    [Unidentified social worker] (?U Ohn Maung Ngwe) was treated by Dr U Khin Maung Win and I think yesterday I had to buy new medicines and medicine strips for him. [sentence as received] Similarly, NLD [National League for Democracy] member Than Than Htay was also vomiting every morning and sometimes there is a little blood and they are not sure about the diagnosis. There are many similar cases like that. There are many who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
    Top Myanmar general to visit Thailand next week

    BANGKOK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Myanmar military intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt will pay an official visit to Thailand next week, officials said on Wednesday.The September 3-5 visit by Khin Nyunt, who is Secretary One of the ruling State Peace and Development Council is aimed at soothing tension over drugs smuggling and border clashes.

    "The bottom-up approach of negotiating between local units to solve bilateral problems did not work since they were not authorised to make any real decisions," Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Jongsak Panichkul told Reuters."So the top-down approach, where leaders of both sides meet regularly, will help solve all the problems better."

    Khin Nyunt, who will be the guest of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, will also be granted an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

    Relations between the two countries have hit fresh lows this year after a series of clashes along their 2,400 km (1,490-mile) border. Both sides accuse each other of backing ethnic minority armies involved in the narcotics trade. Ties have improved since an official visit by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Yangon in June.Chavalit, a former army commander and prime minister, often speaks of his good relationship with key leaders in military-ruled Myanmar. He has been promoting "defence diplomacy" where the military assists the foreign ministry in promoting relations with other countries.

    Khin Nyunt is to meet King Bhumibol on September 4, an honour usually given to heads of state and very important national figures.Other details of his visit were not disclosed for security reasons, but Thai newspapers have reported he plans to visit Shin Corp Plc, a telecoms company founded by Thaksin.
    Group in rally to stop deportations

    source : The Nation
    Published on Aug 30, 2001

    Burmese dissidents in the United States protested yesterday in front of the Thai Embassy in Washington, urging the government to reconsider the repatriation of more than 1,600 Burmese and 4,800 ethnic Karen who are currently taking refuge at a border camp in Tak province.

    "The Burmese junta and paramilitaries continue to persecute ethnic nationalities like the Karen," Aung Din of the US-based Free Burma Coalition said. "The Thai government has always been willing to protect defenceless refugees. Why change now?" he asked.

    The 1,600 are among thousands of Burmese who have arrived in Thailand seeking refuge since April, while the 4,800 who arrived earlier are ethnic Karen, whom the country maintains are illegal aliens,not legitimate refugees.

    The announcement to repatriate the Burmese and Karen came just a week ago, when the National Security Council's secretary-general Khajadpai Buruspatana said: "Our policy is to close refugee camps and send them [Burmese refugees] back home".

    Khajadpai's statement was aimed at silencing the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), which appears to be at a loggerheads with the Thai government over the fate of the people.

    The UNHCR says that, if repatriated, the people are likely to face great uncertainty when they return to their homeland.

    Kajudpai accused the UNHCR of wanting to unnecessarily keep the Burmese and Karen in Thailand and insisted the war in Burma was over. The United Nations and rights groups were quick to question the security chief's claims,pointing to numerous reports maintaining that human-rights atrocities and forced labour continue in Burma.
    Report fingers Rangoon for state bias against minorities

    Bangkok Post - August 29, 2001.

    Issue to be raised at Durban conference

    A report documenting forced labour and discrimination against ethnic minorities in Burma was released yesterday on the eve of Friday's World Conference Against Racism in Durban.

    ``For an ethnic minority in Burma, where one of the world's most repressive regimes holds power, discrimination is a part of life,'' said Naw Musi, an ethnic Karen and Thailand-based co-ordinator of EarthRights International's Women's Rights Project.

    ``My colleagues and I have experienced this first hand, and now we have interviewed scores of victims who confirm the widespread pattern of ethnic discrimination in my country by the military junta.''

    The report, Valued Less Than A Milk Tin, was researched by staff of EarthRights International who interviewed mainly Karen and Shan victims of state-sponsored discrimination, forced labour, rape, destruction of identities and suppression of language.

    The report documents state-sponsored discrimination against minorities in schools and government institutions, discriminatory violence in conflict zones, and a pattern of targeting minorities for the worst abuses of forced labour.

    EarthRights International will use the Durban conference to call on the Burmese junta to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, allow the use and teaching of ethnic minority languages, culture and history, and eliminate the use of forced labour and forced relocation by the military.
    Burma women refugees face multiple discrimination

    August 29, 2001, Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
    Durban, South Africa

    "Ethnic minority refugee women from Burma are facing multiple discrimination in neighboring countries and the international community should ensure that these refugees from Burma are not to be repatriated as long as the military is in power in the country", said Naw Musi, a Karen woman from Burma at the on-going World Conference Against Racism NGO Forum at Durban in South Africa.

    She was speaking at a regional discussion forum being held as a part of preparations for the final NGO declaration, which will come out at the end of the conference.

    "We are treated with disrespect and dislike in the best cases, and with cruelty and hatred in the worst. We are unwelcome guests in the host country, but we have nowhere else to go", said Naw Musi who is living in a refugee camp in Thai-Burma border.

    "The Burmese regime also must acknowledge the problem of racial and ethnic prejudice within the country. Racism is like a disease. It creeps across borders and travels back and forth freely", added Naw Musi, who is here as a part of Women's League of Burma (WLB) delegation to the conference.

    More than 7,000 delegates from all over the world are participating in the conference to discuss the issues relating to racism and other related issues including gender, religious intolerance, ethnic cleansing, globalization, militarization, poverty and indigenous people. The conference is being held from the 28th to 31st August.

    Burma exiled activists including a six-member delegation from the Women's League of Burma (WLB) are participating in the conference to raise the issues of multiple discrimination faced by the people under the military government in Burma and to raise the awareness on the struggle of Burmese people for the restoration of democracy and human rights. Panel discussions and exhibition on Burma are also being organized in the conference.

    "Racism is one of the route causes of Burma's problems. By sharing experiences with other international delegates and raising the issues of ethno-politics, militarization and racial discrimination in Burma, we hope that the international community will support for the meaningful political changes towards democratization in Burma", said Khin Ohmar, another delegate of WLB.
    Yaa Baa Dealer Wounded In Mae Sot

    By Zarny Win
    source : The Irrawaddy

    August 29, 2001--A Burmese drug smuggler was shot and wounded yesterday, outside the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot, before being apprehended by Thai border police while his accomplice escaped back into Burma, according to police in Mae Sot.

    The police, acting on a tip,spotted Kyaw Kyaw, 48, from Mandalay, as he attempted to cross the Moei River into Thailand early yesterday morning. The police seized over 96,000 methamphetamine tablets, known locally as yaa baa.

    "Kyaw Kyaw suffered a gunshot wound to his leg. His accomplice, who has been identified as Ba Oo and is also from Burma, escaped uninjured," said Major Surawat from border police unit No. 346, which was responsible for the arrest.

    The methamphetamine tablets were purchased from Kachin and Chinese dealers living in Mandalay, Burma's second largest city, for 100 kyat apiece, (US$ 1= 700 kyat). The drugs were then transported to Rangoon before coming overland to Thailand via Myawaddy, a Burmese border-town opposite Mae Sot, according to Kyaw Kyaw who is currently being treated at a Mae Sot hospital for the gunshot wound. He said this is the second time he had smuggled drugs into Thailand.

    "It's not easy to buy the tablets from the Burmese. I have to deal indirectly with Kachin and Chinese dealers living in Mandalay to get the tablets," Kyaw Kyaw said, who added that, "Although I realized that I could be arrested, I continued to smuggle the drugs due to the economic crisis in Burma."

    Dealers in Mae Sot reportedly pay the smugglers 25 baht per pill (US$ .50) before selling them for twice that on the local market. The methamphetamine pills are thought to be primarily manufactured by the United Wa State Army who controls a large area of the Shan State in northeastern Burma.

    This is the second time this month that Thai border police in the Mae Sot area have exchanged fire with drug smugglers. Three Thai officers were killed on August 7th during a gun battle with the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army who were also attempting to smuggle methamphetamine pills into Thailand.
    Myanmar drug money laundered on Thai stock market


    BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Police have cracked a drug ring that laundered at least 70 million baht (dlrs 1.5 million) on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, officials said Wednesday.

    Five Thai suspects were arrested and more than one million methamphetamine pills seized in sting operations in the cities of Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Bangkok on Monday and Tuesday.

    Police Col. Vichai Saengprapai, chief investigator for the case, told The Associated Press that one of the suspects, Chadaporn Euachua, had laundered at least 70 million baht (dlrs 1.5 million) of money through Adkinson Securities Co. on the Thai stock market.

    Police believed the cash was linked to the United Wa State Army, an ethnic army in neighboring Myanmar thought by narcotics experts to be the main producer of illegal drugs in Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle. Huge quantities of heroin and methamphetamines are smuggled from Myanmar, also known as Burma, to Thailand.

    Thai narcotic suppression police and the Anti-Money Laundering Commission say they have launched a nationwide crackdown against drug money as part of a concerted attempt by Thailand to control the drugs menace. ``This is the first case that we discovered drugs money laundered through a securities company,'' Vichai said. The five suspects were detained on charges of conspiring to traffic drugs and violating the money laundering act, he said.

    A spokeswoman for Adkinson Securities Co said that the company was shocked by the allegation of money laundering and was investigating. It would issue a statement later, she said, on customary condition of anonymity.

    Police said the 70 million baht (dlrs 1.5 million) were transferred from two Thai companies, Siam Power 1999 Co. and Chanayon Import-Export Co. for investment in stocks through Adkinson Securities.

    A spokeswoman for the Stock Exchange of Thailand, or SET, said it was not the duty of the SET to investigate the case, but the anti-money laundering commission. She spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
    India plans new defence base

    Khaleej Times

    NEW DELHI - India yesterday unveiled plans to set up a strategic command in its Andaman and Nicobar islands to make its navy more effective in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

    The islands, which lie 1,190km east of the southern city of Madras, were the site of naval skirmishes between India, the Dutch and the Portuguese in the 18th century and later between the British and Japanese.

    Last year the military establishment called for a strategic command there, arguing that such a facility would counter Chinese monitoring centres in Myanmar.

    "The Joint Andaman and Nicobar Strategic Defence Command, to be established for the first time in the country, will be in place by the end of September," Defence Minister Jaswant Singh told parliament's upper house. The new command, which would comprise the army, navy, air force and the coast guard, will initially have a naval commander-in-chief appointed by the cabinet, Mr Singh said.

    Mr Singh also said that the integration of military headquarters with the defence ministry, which is run by bureaucrats, would be completed by September. Speaking on the possible appointment of a commander for India's newly acquired nuclear arsenal, Mr Singh said the government believed the issue needed further consultations.

    "Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will take a decision on the issue after the consultation process is completed," he said of the post.Mr Singh, who is also foreign minister, said sweeping measures had been taken to inject efficiency and stamp out corruption in India's military procurement systems.

    "I have received the stamp of approval for its revamping and it will be open to anybody in a transparent manner," Mr Singh said. "The procurement process presently involve 32 steps, some of them cumbersome, and leads to unusual delays and the idea of revamping is to overcome the complex procedure," he said, adding all transactions would be put on government web sites within 15 days.

    The minister said the government was also reviewing the issue of middlemen in defence deals. "This too is in final stage and will be put on the web sites. The defence ministry will have nothing to hide," Mr Singh said. Meanwhile, Mr Singh yesterday accused China of delivering illegal arms shipments to Pakistan.

    "China has repeatedly been saying that whatever arms supplies it was making to Pakistan were in accordance with international law, but I am not satisfied," Mr Singh, who is also defence minister, told parliament's upper house. "This is a matter of great worry to India," Mr Singh said.

    The Indian foreign ministry said on August 13 that Mr Singh was planning a trip to China sometime this year. Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is planning a trip to New Delhi in November,while Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is likely to pay a return visit to Beijing next year, the ministry said. - AFP
    Malaysian defence minister addresses regional security meeting

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 29, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese TV on 28 August

    The opening ceremony of the New Thinking in Regional Security; the Challenges of Uncertainty Workshop, under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence in cooperation with the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre [MSRC] and the sponsorship of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, was held at the Traders Hotel on Sule Pagoda Road in Yangon [Rangoon] this morning.

    Present were ministers, the chairman of the Civil Service Selection and Training Board, the Malaysian minister of defence and party, deputy ministers, officials of the Ministry of Defence, ambassadors and military attaches of the embassies in Yangon, officials of the MSRC, private banks and NGOs and guests.

    Executive Director of the MSRC Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda and Programme Adviser of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation Lau Sim Yee extended greetings. Maj-Gen Kyaw Win of the Ministry of Defence delivered the opening address. Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Haji Mohamad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak delivered a speech.The workshop will continue until 30 August.
    Burmese TV reports 19 armed group members exchange weapons for peace in July

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 29, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese TV on 28 August

    The State Peace and Development Council, upholding our three main national causes, has been relentlessly striving for national reconsolidation with genuine goodwill to ensure the emergence of a new, modern and developed nation. Realizing their past misdeeds and understanding the genuine goodwill and correct endeavours of the government, remaining armed group members have been exchanging arms for peace individually or in groups.

    The following persons exchanged arms for peace between 1 and 31 July:

    Coastal Region Command: Ptes Zaw Zaw Moe, Saw Thein, Saw Kawshed, Saw Htoobo, Pinu, alias Rumlay, village head U Kyi Pha, alias Saw Kye Hak, and U Maung Satt of KNU [Karen National Union] armed group, along with one .22 rifle, one magazine, five rounds of ammunition, one rifle, one long-barrel gun and five rounds of ammunition, and one grenade; and Ptes Saw Kawday and Saw Khin Maung Win of No. 10 Battalion along with one .22 pistol, one grenade; Ptes Win Zaw, Saw Dha, alias Saw Lay Oh, Tun Sein, alias Kuki, and village head Shwe Paung of No. 11 Battalion together with one hand-made gun, five rounds of ammunition and two M-8 mines, Kyaw Than, alias Moe, of the ABSDF [All-Burma Students' Democratic Front].

    Southeast Command area: Ptes Zaw Lin Khaing, alias Win Khaing, of No. 2 Company of No. 208 Battalion of the ABSDF and Min Thu of No. 9 Battalion.

    Northern Command: Cpl Yaungsan of NSCN [National Socialist Council of Nagaland].

    Northwest Command: Second Warrant Officer Yakyeoh of CNA [Chin National Army, Urban Movement].

    Western Command: Lance Cpl San Aung of ALP [Arakan Liberation Party] together with one .30 carbine, one magazine and 82 rounds of ammunitions.

    Officials concerned warmly welcomed the 19 persons who exchanged arms for peace and attended to their needs. More persons of armed groups are expected to exchange arms for peace.
    U.N. special envoy leaves Myanmar after 4-day visit

    YANGON, Aug. 30, Kyodo - U.N. special envoy to Myanmar Razali Ismail left Yangon on Thursday afternoon after a four-day trip aimed at advancing dialogue between the country's ruling generals and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).

    Since his arrival Monday on his fifth visit to Myanmar since being appointed last year, Razali met junta chiefs, NLD leaders, foreign businesspeople, diplomats and representatives of Myanmar's ethnic minorities.

    On the political side, he met Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the junta's first secretary, Foreign Minister Win Aung, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, members of the NLD central executive committee, foreign ambassadors and representatives of several minorities, including Shan, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and the Zohmi groups.

    Razali offered no signs of disappointment with his trip, but he also declined to speak with reporters about his meetings, stating only he has to report first to the U.N. secretary general.

    NLD and ethnic representatives expressed satisfaction with their meetings with Razali, but gave few details of the discussions.

    He did, however, reportedly assured the ethic leaders they would be included in any future junta-NLD dialogue.

    One businessman who at one of Razali's meetings said, the U.N. envoy was ''optimistic about the solution, although he warned us not to be over-optimistic.''