Daily News-August 31 - 2001- Friday

  • After visit to Myanmar, UN envoy confirms parties' commitment to reconcile
  • U.N. envoy leaves Myanmar, talks at critical stage
  • UN expects more Burma releases
  • Analysis: Burma talks enter new phase
  • Burmese Refugees Face Forced Return
  • Burmese troops take thai ranger base as test ahead of Khin Nyunt visit
  • Burma can learn from Malaysia's experience on development
  • Midwife Daw Thein Yi Wins 38th Florence Nightingale Medal Award
  • Mid-Year Gems Emporium to be held from 7 to 14 October

  • After visit to Myanmar, UN envoy confirms parties' commitment to reconcile

    source : UN Newservice

    30 August- A United Nations envoy today confirmed that all parties to the conflict in Myanmar remained committed to the process of national reconciliation, and expressed hope about the possibility of further progress in the ongoing talks between the Government and the National League for Democracy (NLD).

    Ambassador Razali Ismail, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Myanmar, concluded on Thursday a four-day mission aimed at facilitating national reconciliation and the democratization process in Myanmar.

    During his stay in Yangon, Ambassador Razali met with leaders of the Government, including Lt-Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and Foreign Minister Win Aung, a UN spokesman said in New York.

    Ambassador Razali also met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior NLD leaders, including Chairman Aung Shwe and Vice Chairman Tin Oo, who were released from house arrest last Sunday as well as ethnic group representatives. The Envoy will report the results of his mission to the Secretary-General when he visits New York in September.
    U.N. envoy leaves Myanmar, talks at critical stage

    YANGON,(Reuters) Aug. 30 - United Nations envoy Razali Ismail left Myanmar on Thursday after four days of meetings with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling military, but failed to meet the the reclusive state's top general.

    Razali remained tight-lipped throughout his visit, refusing to comment on progress in landmark reconciliation talk between Suu Kyi and the government, except to say the U.N. would issue a statement in the near future.

    Diplomats in Yangon who were briefed by Razali declined to comment,but said the dialogue had reached a sensitive stage.

    U.N. officials said Razali had arrived in Yangon on Monday expecting to meet Senior General Than Shwe but that his requests had not been granted. They declined to comment on the reasons.

    Sources close to the talks said Razali was scheduled to return to Myanmar in the next two months.

    During his visit, Razali met twice with National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Suu Kyi at her lakeside home in Yangon, where she has been held under de facto house arrest since September following a crackdown by the military. On the government side, the U.N. envoy met Secretary One of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Khin Nyunt, the ruling military's third most powerful leader.

    Razali held talks with NLD Chairman Aung Shwe and Vice Chairman Tin Oo, who were released from de facto house arrest on the eve of his arrival in a move widely seen as a goodwill gesture by the military. He also met top leaders of the country's ethnic minorities, whose support for any transition in Myanmar would be vital.


    Khun Tun Oo, leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), said Razali had appeared positive over the talks between Suu Kyi and the military. ''Mr Razali is becoming more optimistic about the ongoing talks,'' he told Reuters after meeting the U.N. envoy.The SNLD came in second in 1990 elections won by the NLD in a landslide, but the military refused to hand over power.

    Most ethnic minority groups have said they were willing to be left out of the bilateral negotiations between Suu Kyi and the military in their early stages, but wanted to be involved when the talks begin to cover substantive issues.

    But some fear that a secret deal could be struck that does not address their concerns and have called for greater transparency in the talks. ''Of course we welcome the talks, but it would be better if we could know something about the contents of the talks,'' Khun Tun Oo told Reuters.

    Razali is credited with playing a central role in brokering the dialogue between Suu Kyi and the government. But there has been persistent speculation this year that the talks, which began in October, may have hit an impasse.

    The government has made some concessions since the talks with Suu Kyi began, releasing more than 150 detained NLD members and allowing the party to re-open some of its offices.But Suu Kyi's refusal to attend an important official ceremony last month was interpreted by some diplomats as a signal that the talks had run into problems.

    Despite the releases of NLD members, Amnesty International estimates there are still 1,500 political prisoners in Myanmar. The government insists it is committed to moving towards democracy, but that too fast a transition would risk anarchy and national disintegration.(With additional reporting by Dan Eaton in Bangkok)
    UN expects more Burma releases

    source : BBC

    UN officials have told the BBC they expect more political prisoners to be released in Burma as a result of a visit of their special envoy, Razali Ismail. Mr Razali ended talks with leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and members of the military government on Thursday.

    On his departure from Rangoon, Mr Razali declined to comment on the talks, only saying that a statement would be released at a later date.

    The aim of his visit this week was to foster a long-running dialogue between the military and the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.Earlier, a senior NLD member told the BBC that Aung San Suu Kyi's message to Mr Razali was very clear - the military government should release all political prisoners as soon as possible as a goodwill gesture.

    Next step

    But a BBC correspondent in South East Asia says the issue now is whether the talks can move beyond confidence-building measures towards some form of political breakthrough in Burma.

    Talks between the two sides began nearly a year ago and were initiated by the envoy's efforts. They have been held in secret with neither side revealing the substance of the talks.

    The military has released more than 150 political prisoners so far this year but human rights groups believe there are more than 1,500 political prisoners in Burma's jails. The NLD won elections in Burma in 1990, but the military has never allowed it to take power.
    Analysis: Burma talks enter new phase

    source : BBC
    By regional analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

    The talks between Burma's military leaders and the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi are about to enter a new phase after the UN envoy's latest mediation efforts.While there is no official word from any of the parties involved, the UN's special envoy, Razali Ismail said the UN would issue a statement in due course.

    Talks between the two sides began nearly a year ago and were initiated by the envoy's efforts. They have been held in secret with neither side revealing the substance of the talks. Earlier this year many observers feared that they had stalled but Mr Razali's visit in June gave the dialogue process new impetus.

    Since then more than 60 political prisoners have been released; the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has been allowed to open many of its offices; and, most significantly, on the eve of Mr Razali's visit two other senior leaders of the NLD, Chairman Aung Shwe and Vice-Chairman Tin Oo were released.

    Everyone is being tight-lipped about the talks. The Burmese official media have not even reported his visit.This is because the talks have reached a particularly sensitive stage say Rangoon-based analysts.

    Air of expectation

    But there is an air of expectation in Rangoon, according to western diplomats based there.

    Sources in the UN told the BBC that they expected further releases of political prisoners as a result of Mr Razali's current trip.

    How many, and who, they say will reflect how serious Burma's generals are about the talks becoming more substantial. At present the NLD says they are still at the confidence-building stage. They are anxious too for them to pick up pace.

    "This can only happen if the military are prepared to release more political prisoners" a senior NLD member, U Lwin, told the BBC.He said the party's leaders understood they couldn't all be released immediately, and had submitted a list of priority categories. "But the bottom-line," he said, "is the release of all political prisoners within an agreed time-framework." Human rights groups believe there are more than 1,500 political prisoners in Burma's jails.

    International assistance

    The next stage must involve some discussion of international assistance to Burma. The international community has already begun to think along those lines.

    The Europeans and Japanese want to encourage the talks, but are reluctant to take any action which might slow the pace of the talks.Many observers still believe the military regime are only making the minimum concessions necessary in order to deflect international criticism of its conduct.

    But the NLD has also begun to discuss the need to allow what it calls limited humanitarian assistance from the international community.

    "The party's leaders are prepared to accept some aid international," U Lwin told the BBC, "for agreed programmes like health and education. However that can only be some time in the future when the military have met some agreed benchmarks," he said.

    Gathering momentum?

    The Burmese military leaders are aware that they have now ventured down a path which will gather its own momentum.Several government ministers have told visiting diplomats that they are serious about the talks and regard it as the last chance to save Burma.However as yet that sentiment has not been turned into anything concrete.
    Burmese Refugees Face Forced Return

    FEER, Issue cover-dated September 06, 2001

    More than 100,000 refugees along the Thai-Burmese border face forced repatriation. During his July 23-24 visit to Rangoon, Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh agreed to work hand-in-hand with the Burmese military government to send all refugees back across the border.

    "[The junta] will come with us to bring them back," Chavalit told the REVIEW on August 20, saying the process will be open and conducted "according to the law."

    Both the Thai and Burmese governments insist that Burma's civil war with its ethnic minorities has ended and it is safe to repatriate refugees. Most humanitarian groups working inside Thailand disagree.

    In late August, when the Thai National Security Council attempted to deport more than 5,000 refugees from the Mae La refugee camp in northwest Thailand's Tak province, the United Nations urged the Thai government to rethink the move.

    Fighting between the separatist Karen National Union and the Burmese army continues close to the camp. The Mae La plan was temporarily suspended, but repatriation in other refugee camps has begun,say aid workers.
    Burmese troops take thai ranger base as test ahead of Khin Nyunt visit

    source : Bangkokpost
    By Subin Khuenkaew

    Burmese troops took over a Thai paramilitary ranger camp on Doi Lang, Mae Ai district, on Wednesday, Third Army chief Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuenwong said yesterday.

    Nine Burmese soldiers had seized the 31st paramilitary ranger base. A team had been sent to negotiate for their withdrawal.

    A source said there were no rangers at the camp, which was occationally used for anti-drug smuggling operations, but it was clearly marked with a large wooden sign featuring the Thai flag.

    Lt-Gen Watanachai said the border committee had sent a protest letter to Burmese authorities, and the Pha Muang task force on Doi Lang had stepped up security.``Burma should not have sent soldiers to a ranger base like this, because it could cause conflict,'' he said.

    ``I know all nine Burmese troops were not from this area, but from somewhere else. I think they want to see our reaction, shortly ahead of a Burmese leader's visit to Bangkok.''

    Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council, is to visit from Sept 3-5.
    Burma can learn from Malaysia's experience on development

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 30, 2001
    Text of report in English by Malaysian news agency Bernama web site

    Yangon [Rangoon], 30 August: Myanmar [Burma] can fast-track its development by learning from Malaysia's mistakes and experience, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak said yesterday.He said Myanmar was in a very advantageous position given the good relations which existed in the early stages of its development.

    "I look forward to the exchange of views with our leaders as well to learn more on the challenge facing Myanmar. As you know Malaysia is committed to see Myanmar developing alongside other members of the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] family", he said in his speech during the opening of the seminar entitled "Towards a Comprehensive Approach on Regional Security" here.

    Najib is currently on his first official visit to Myanmar to promote bilateral ties in military investment and information technology. The minister said Malaysia would support and encourage Myanmar in its overall development in tandem with the rest of ASEAN region as a "prosperous Myanmar will indeed lead to a prosperous ASEAN". He said that Malaysia had an open economy which was highly internationalized based on global trade.

    Myanmar Defence Minister Maj-Gen Kyaw Win [previously listed as director of Defence Services Intelligence, not defence minister], in his speech, said that his country had drawn up the necessary plans and programmes towards a comprehensive development which were now in the process of being implemented. "We have done our best to conform to international practices and procedures but in ways that it will be in harmony with our national identity", he said.

    He said Myanmar realized that it could learn from many countries which were utilizing the latest techniques for development in combination with the rapid communication and technology in efforts to enhance human resource development.
    Midwife Daw Thein Yi Wins 38th Florence Nightingale Medal Award

    Information Sheet N0. B-1937( I ) 30th August,2001

    A ceremony to honour the 38th Florence Nightingale Medal Award winner was held at the Institute of Nursing in Yangon on 29 August, attended by Chairman of the National Health Committee Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.

    In Myanmar, there are many people with compassion.Myanmar won a Henry Dunant Award and three Florence Nightingale Medal Awards.Sai Aung Hlaing Myint won Henry Dunant Award. Major Daw Khin Ohn Mya won Florence Nightingale Medal Award in 1963, Daw M Yaw Nam in 1993 and midwife Daw Thein Yi of Thaungthut Village in Homalin Township, Saging Division in 2001.

    Daw Thein Yi saved the life of an eight-year old girl from a burning house at the risk of her life. The ICRC presented her the award for her noble sacrifice.

    The Minister for Health elaborated on participation of nurses' associations in health development activities, public health care services and the National Health Plan, opening of two nursing institutes under the guidance of the Head of State, conducting of nursing courses, opening of nursing and midwifery training schools in some major districts in states and divisions.

    The Secretary-1 presented Florence Nightingale Medal Award and certificate to midwife Daw Thein Yi. The Minister for Health presented the gold medal and the promotion order.

    The 12th International Red Cross Conference held in 1912 decided to present Florence Nightingale Medal Award to nurses and Red Cross volunteers who provided excellent service to the sick or the wounded during war or peace time. The award is presented every two years. The ICRC announces the award winners on 12 May, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
    Mid-Year Gems Emporium to be held from 7 to 14 October

    Information Sheet N0. B-1937( I ) 30th August,2001

    The Mid-Year Gems Emporium will begin on 7 October. Gems inspection time for the merchants is from 7 to 9 October. Raw Jade will be sold through competitive bidding from 10 to 12 October, the gem lots on 13 October, and the pearl lots the next day. Quality jade and gems will be put on sale at the emporium.

    The merchants to the emporium can visit the Myanmar Gems Museum and buy jewels at the special sales at the Gems Mart. Invitations have already been sent to the regular foreign gem buyers. The new merchants or regular buyers who have not received the invitation yet may contact the Myanmar embassies or consulates abroad to attend the mid-year gems emporium.