Daily News- December 05 - 2001- Wednesday

  • Calls for Suu Kyi‘s Release Ahead of 10-yr peace prize anniversary
  • Gathering to commemorate Nobel Peace Prize award to Suu Kyi
  • AI: No sustainable peace without human rights
  • Burma Says UN Resolution Inaccurate
  • DVB: Shan group "optimistic" about future
  • Burma move 'does not go far enough'
  • Burma dismisses report two Pakistani nuclear scientists given political asylum
  • China delivers digital high-resolution satellite ground station to Burma
  • Indian armed forces training chief arrives in Rangoon on study trip
  • Indian customs arrest Burmese national with arms said bound for separatists

  • Calls for Suu Kyi‘s Release Ahead of 10-yr peace prize anniversary

    by AFP

    Pro-democracy activists Tuesday stepped up calls for the release of Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the Nobel Peace prize laureate prepared to mark the 10th anniversary of her award.

    Ten years after the democracy leader was awarded the prize on December 10, 1991 for her attempts to bring multi-party democracy to Myanmar, basic human rights were still being violated in the country, the Bangkok-based Union for Civil Liberty said Tuesday.

    "What has worried us is that Aung San Suu Kyi‘s freedom is still restricted as well as her freedom of expression and political participation, which are basic human rights," the group, led by prominent Thai political critic Sulak Sivaraksa, said in a statement.

    The leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has been held under loose house arrest at her lakeside residence for the last 14 months. "Peace cannot materialise if there is a continuing violation of human rights," the statement added.

    The group also called for a peaceful settlement between the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Aung San Suu Kyi‘s NLD, which have been the focus of reconciliation talks that started in October 2000.Despite the NLD winning a resounding election victory in 1990, the junta has refused to relinquish its grip on power.

    However, since the start of the talks, the political atmosphere has thawed, leading to the release from prison of nearly 200 opposition figures since the beginning of the year.

    But pro-democracy activists said the pace of progress was too slow and that they would use the 10-year anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi‘s peace prize which will be marked internationally on December 8 -- to press for more substantial results.

    "We will use this date to urge the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, along with all political prisoners held in Burma," the Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma told AFP.

    "We will call on the Burma government to have a real political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi. "And we will ask that the talks be more progressive, to show some result in the short-term."

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    Gathering to commemorate Nobel Peace Prize award to Suu Kyi

    By Yap Mun Ching
    source :Malaysiakini

    A Burmese pro-democracy group will hold a peaceful gathering this Saturday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the country’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    The Burma Solidarity Group Malaysia (BSGM) said in a statement the gathering is aimed at increasing public awareness of the political situation in Burma.

    The Dec 8 gathering at Plaza Putra, Dataran Merdeka, will include several speeches, a reading of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s awarding speech, screening of video shows and signing of petitions.

    Despite multiparty elections in 1990 which resulted in victory by the main opposition party, the military regime in the country has continued to hold on to power in the country. Key opposition leader Suu Kyi, has been held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, and was again placed under house detention since September 2000. She won the peace price for her commitment to human rights and democracy.

    Champion for democracy

    The BSGM was set up by Burmese exiles in Malaysia to continue championing for democracy in their country. In April 2001, the government deported a member of the organisation for staging a protest at the Burmese Embassy party in Kuala Lumpur.

    Peter Hee Man was arrested with three Malaysians on March 27 after some 20 activists gatecrashed the embassy party held at a leading hotel and stripped off to reveal T-shirts depicting Suu Kyi.

    The United Nations Special Envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, is presently on his sixth mission to Burma to facilitate conciliatory talks between the government and Suu Kyi. International pressure had led to the Burmese military government agreeing to hold talks with Suu Kyi last November.

    BSGM stated that despite the on-going talks, Suu Kyi remained under house arrest and systematic human rights violations continued in Burma.

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    AI: No sustainable peace without human rights

    While bombings continue in Afghanistan, violence surges in the Middle East and emergency legislations are being rushed through Parliaments, the Centennial Nobel Peace Prize will be celebrated in Oslo between 6 and 10 December 2001, in this atmosphere of global turmoil.

    As the Nobel Committee brings together previous laureates to discuss possible solutions for the 21st century's conflicts, Amnesty International -- as the 1977 Laureate -- will be at the forefront of the debate. Amnesty International will be calling on member states of the United Nations to uphold international protection for human rights, and not allow the human rights provisions upon which their nations have been built to be eroded.

    Colm O'Cuanachain, Chair of Amnesty International, will be in Oslo to focus the debate on human rights and the need to strike a balance between security and human rights. Meanwhile, Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, will be on the borders of Pakistan talking to victims of that country's long-standing conflict and will mark Human Rights Day there (10 December).

    Selected highlights:

    Mr O'Cuanachain will be delivering a lecture entitled: Peace and human rights: the unbreakable bond at the Nobel Peace Prize Centennial Symposium. (Amnesty International is only one of nine Laureates to be delivering lectures at this Symposium). Amnesty International Norway will organize a candlelight procession through Oslo on 10 December (Human Rights Day).

    Mr O'Cuanachain will join other Nobel Laureates in an appeal for Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Nobel Laureate -- highlighting the plight of thousands of other political prisoners in Myanmar.

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    Burma Says UN Resolution Inaccurate

    by DVB-AFP 2001-12-03

    Burma`s military government said Monday that a human rights resolution adopted last week by the United Nations reflected positive developments in the country but contained inaccuracies.

    At an impromptu meeting, Burma‘s Labor and Cultural minister Tin Winn told reporters that the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 30 was intended to maintain pressure on the military-ruled country.

    "The final draft reflected some of the positive developments in the country," he said. "But there still remained a few inaccuracies based on false premises obviously left in to maintain pressure on us." The minister, who attended last week‘s UN session in New York, said measures taken by the regime to improve its human rights record, which has been roundly criticised, did not indicate it had caved in to international pressure.

    "Our response was that the measures we had been taking were not because of the pressure put on us but simply because it was incumbent upon us to do the needful after due consideration," Tin Winn said. He added that several Asian countries had defended Burma against "harsh terms" contained in an earlier draft, and called for a fairer assessment of the military-ruled country.

    Still, the newly appointed minister said the resolution was "not totally fair" due to some of the nearly 40 co-sponsoring nations that want to "keep on pressuring us, specifically with regard to alleged human rights abuses".

    The resolution laid out the concerns of UN member states, touching on efforts by UN rights rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who visited Burma last month, and envoy Razali Ismail,who wrapped up his sixth visit Monday.

    Describing the UN as "gravely concerned" about conditions in Burma, the resolution said the country‘s legal system was "used as an instrument of oppression".

    But the declaration added that the world body was "cautiously encouraged" by recent prisoner releases and the relaxation of some constraints on political parties. It also said it was concerned about the "slow progress in the talks" between the junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under de facto house arrest since September 2000.

    The UN Human Rights Commission passed a resolution in April with the support of 53 countries saying human rights abuses and persecution of the political opposition in Burma were unacceptable.But the ruling junta insisted that the resolution failed to accurately portray the situation, particularly because it relied on information supplied by the UN‘s previous rights rapporteur.

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    DVB: Shan group "optimistic" about future

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 4, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 3 December

    At a meeting with diplomats in Rangoon [Yangon] this morning, UN special envoy Mr Razali Ismail disclosed that he is satisfied with his latest mission to Burma [Myanmar]. A Rangoon-based diplomat noted that although no details were given Mr Razali said he will issue a report on his trip to Burma after he returns to UN headquarters in New York.

    This is Mr Razali's sixth Burma trip. During the visit, he met separately with SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] Secretary-1 Lt Gen Khin Nyunt and SPDC Foreign Minister U Win Aung as well as NLD [National League for Democracy] leaders including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He also met with four ethnic nationalities leaders and travelled to northern Shan State and met with the Wa and Kokang region leaders. Democratic Voice of Burma [DVB] has learned that Mr Razali met Foreign Minister U Win Aung late this afternoon and has already departed Rangoon.

    Mr Razali met with NLD Leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi twice during this trip. Although no details were disclosed, diplomats believed the talks were pegged to urging the SPDC to speed up the process of releasing political prisoners and matters relating to future tripartite talks including the ethnic nationalities. One extraordinary thing at this trip was Mr Razali's assurance to ethnic nationalities leaders that he hoped there would be a road map for national reconciliation by 2002.

    Among the ethnic leaders that met Mr Razali, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy [SNLD] Chairman U Khun Tun Oo said he felt optimistic about Mr Razali's current trip. SNLD leader U Khun Tun Oo explained to Mr Razali on the need to allow the ethnic nationalities to prepare and operate freely in order to achieve a common stance.

    [U Khun Tun Oo] I explained to him about the real situation. Some parties have been deregistered and could not do anything. Frankly, my party also could not do anything in the districts. Those whose parties were deregistered wanted their parties to be recognized again. As for me, I asked him to arrange a convention for all the ethnic nationalities groups - the cease-fire groups, the groups still engaged in armed struggle, the deregistered parties, and the current legally standing parties.

    I mentioned a time frame of 90 days where we could expect an answer. Then only all the ethnic nationalities could be able to form a common ground and agree on a common policy. I said it would not be right when the other side is ready and the ethnic groups are not. This is the only way for the ethnic nationalities to achieve one voice and a common policy.

    I also proposed that armed groups like the KNU [Karen National Union] and the SURA [Shan United Revolutionary Army] should be allowed free passage and given a time frame for cease-fire agreements.

    [DVB Correspondent Soe Win Nyo] What was Mr Razali's response?

    [U Khun Tun Oo] Well, he said by year 2002 he hopes to see it happen. He also said since the SPDC has accepted the reports of the ILO and Mr Pinheiro [UN human rights rapporteur], they will have to change according to that.

    He assured us that he would try to achieve some form of result. He admitted this time and said that the people outside also blamed him and that he would make every effort for change in Burma.

    I also told him that the people inside are also frustrated. This does not mean they do not have confidence but because the progress is very slow. I said the people have waited long enough and that they are facing great difficulties. His remarks were pretty strange and unlike before this time he gave some commitments.

    [Soe Win Nyo] What do you think of all that?

    [U Khun Tun Oo] I am optimistic. The process may be a bit long. He himself mentioned that the process might be long. It has already been long now. To cut a long story short, if the SPDC makes an attempt and try to amend the situation then I think everything will be OK.

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    Burma move 'does not go far enough'

    The Guardian - United Kingdom; Dec 4, 2001

    Pro-democracy campaigners yesterday welcomed a move by eight fund managers to highlight the dangers to shareholders of companies operating in Burma.But activists from the Burma Campaign said the initiative did not go far enough and should have called on companies such as Premier Oil, BAT and Sea Containers to pull out of the country.

    "The funds have given a clear warning that there are serious risks and repercussions for companies who choose to work in Burma and this is very welcome," said John Jackson, director of the Burma Campaign UK. "Their analysis is good but their recommendations aren't far-reaching enough. Given the risks, they should be calling for disinvestment."

    At the weekend, financial institutions with pounds 400bn worth of investments under management warned that companies operating in unstable political environments risked damaging their reputations and their share prices.They fell short of calling on operators to leave such countries, saying detailed risk as sessments and social programmes should be undertaken.

    Premier Oil yesterday reiterated its belief that it could help in the development of Burma through its massive investment project in gas production and pipelines. Executives said a recent report from the International Labour Organisation recognised that economic modernisation was crucial to changing the political and social environment there.

    John van der Welle, financial director of Premier, said: "The attitude of the international community towards Burma is changing towards constructive engagement. We have always believed in that and have been using independently assessed social audits and human rights training to help the situation there."

    The campaign questioned whether Premier could meet the criteria for good practice in the fund managers' statement. It said the British oil group had not sought investigation or prosecution of security forces protecting its pipeline, which had committed abuses.

    "You can't operate in Burma without financing its appalling dictatorship," Mr Jackson said.

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    Burma dismisses report two Pakistani nuclear scientists given political asylum

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 4, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese TV on 3 December

    A regular news conference was held at the Defence Services Guest House on Inya Road in Yangon [Rangoon] at 1000 [local time] today [3 December].

    The news conference was attended by Labour Minister U Tin Win, Vice Chief of the Office of Military Intelligence Maj-Gen Kyaw Win [formerly referred to as deputy director of the Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence], Deputy Information Minister Brig-Gen Aung Thein, senior military officials from the Defence Ministry, senior departmental officials, officials responsible for news and periodicals from the Information Ministry, U Sein Win, Kyodo correspondent; U Sao Kai Hpa, president of Foreign Correspondents' Club of Myanmar [Burma], and invited guests.

    Vice Chief of the Office of Military Intelligence Maj-Gen Kyaw Win and Labour Minister U Tin Win and officials replied to questions raised by local and foreign journalists at the news conference.

    In replying to a question about a report by some foreign news agencies that two Pakistani nuclear scientists have been given political asylum in Myanmar, Maj-Gen Kyaw Win firmly dismissed the report as totally false and baseless.

    The regular news conference with the local and foreign journalists concluded after Labour Minister U Tin Win, who attended the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, replied in details to questions about a resolution on Myanmar made at the United Nations General Assembly 2001 and the decisions of ILO Governing Body.

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    China delivers digital high-resolution satellite ground station to Burma

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 4, 2001
    Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

    Yangon [Rangoon], 4 December: The Chinese embassy in Myanmar [Burma] Tuesday [4 December] formally delivered here a digital high-resolution satellite ground station to the Myanmar Ministry of Transport (MMT) under the WMO/VCP Programme.

    The new satellite ground station manufactured by China is for the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) under the MMT.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Myanmar Deputy Ministers of Transport U Pe Than said "today is a very remarkable milestone in the history of the meteorological service of Myanmar" and the ground station presented by China to Myanmar is one of the good examples of the cooperation between the two nations.

    The new digital high-resolution satellite ground station is very beneficial to Myanmar, which is at its prime time of striving towards a modern developed nation, he stressed, adding that the DMH has been using the low-resolution satellite imageries for about three decades since 1973.

    In 1994, China presented Automatic Forecasting and Data Operating System-AFDOS, which provided additional information for weather forecasting.In 2000, China presented an electrolytic hydrogen generator and 1,000 pilot balloons to the DMH of Myanmar.

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    Indian armed forces training chief arrives in Rangoon on study trip

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 4, 2001
    text of report by Burmese TV on 3 December

    Director-General of Armed Forces Training of India Maj-Gen Ashok Vasudeva and party arrived in Yangon [Rangoon] by air on a study visit this evening.

    They were welcomed at Yangon International Airport by Chief of Armed Forces Training Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, Deputy Chiefs of Armed Forces Training Maj-Gen Win Myint and Brig-Gen Aung Kyi, senior military officers, ambassador of India to Myanmar [Burma] Vivek Katju, Military Attache Col Shakti Gurung ,and officials.

    Chief of Armed Forces Training Maj-Gen Kyaw Win received Director-General of Armed Forces Training of India Maj-Gen Ashok Vasudeva and party at Dagon Yeiktha of Ministry of Defence at 0900 [local time] today [3 December].

    Also present were Commander in Chief of Navy Commodore Soe Thein, Deputy Chiefs of Armed Forces Training Maj-Gen Win Myint and Brig-Gen Aung Kyi, Acting Colonel General Staff, Air, Lt-Col Zin Yaw, senior military officers, and Military Attache Col Shakti Gurung of Indian embassy.

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    Indian customs arrest Burmese national with arms said bound for separatists

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 3, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 2 December

    Military weapons smuggled from Burma were seized in India's Mizoram State on 30 November. The weapons were bound for Indian separatist rebels. It is learnt that SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military officers and cease-fire groups are involved in the gun running business. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Thet Naing filed this report.

    [Thet Naing recording] A Mizoram customs officer, Mr Lal Khawma, said a Burmese national was arrested and four AK-47 assault rifles, one AK-56 automatic rifle, two 9mm pistols, and 22 assorted magazines were seized during a search at Mizoram border checkpoint. Similarly, 26 rocket launchers were seized during a search on an express bus going from Izore to Pedang in Mizoram State on 28 November.

    Investigations are under way and although the weapons were found to be ownerless, it is believed they were smuggled from Burma because they were wrapped in old Burmese newspapers. SPDC Military Intelligence Deputy Chief Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said that in early November three houses in Tamu [Burmese border town] owned by Assamese rebels from Mizoram State were searched by SPDC military personnel and more than 900 automatic weapons were seized. Meanwhile, Indian intelligence sources say that armed separatist rebels from India's northeast region, who are fighting for a separate homeland, have been receiving financial backing from Usamah Bin-Ladin's Al-Qa'idah terrorist group and the Pakistani Intelligence Agency ISI.

    They are using that financial assistance to buy smuggled weapons from Burma. The Indian intelligence sources also claimed that the Wa and Kokang groups that have signed cease-fire agreements with the SPDC together with some SPDC military officials are involved in the gun running business on the Burmese side.

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