Daily News- December 10 - 2001- Monday

  • Signs of hope for Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Prayers for peace in Burma
  • The al-Qaeda connection of Pak nuclear scientists in Burma
  • Tripartite means three issues, says Shan leader
  • Fate of 10 military commanders unclear one month after purge
  • Hundreds of Chinese Prisoners to be released
  • Nepal's Maoists Look for Guns
  • Vehicles and drivers without licenses charged by USDA
  • Burma nabs Thais for log poaching
  • Myanmar to Open First Maritime University
  • Burma says working with Suu Kyi for democracy
  • Thai company to build 5.25 million dollar resort in Burma

  • Signs of hope for Aung San Suu Kyi

    By BBC Burma analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

    Every aspect of life is tightly controlled in Burma

    Ten years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for her efforts to bring democratic change to Burma. At the time she was under house arrest. Ten years after her award, Burma seems to have changed very little.

    The country is still ruled by the Burmese army who tightly control almost every aspect of life. Protests, demonstrations or public criticism of the regime is not allowed. Anyone who dares to challenge the army is thrown into jail.

    Six years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi was officially released - but was not allowed to travel outside the capital Rangoon. When she tried, she was forcibly returned to her home. She's been a virtual prisoner there again for the last 15 months.

    Although there's been little change politically, there have been significant developments. Over the last 10 years the capital Rangoon has turned into a bustling city, with its own traffic jams.

    Rebel ceasefires

    The generals of the army and some of the urban middle classes have managed to get wealthy. But for most of the country's people, living standards have declined. The United Nations estimates that two out of five children are suffering from malnutrition.

    Ten years ago the Burmese army did not control most of the country's border areas - especially the borders with China and Thailand. Now it has signed ceasefire agreements with all but one of the main ethnic rebel groups and taken full control of all of its borders. Ten years ago Burma was almost totally isolated internationally, with China its only ally.

    Aid hope

    Now it's a member of the south east Asian regional grouping ASEAN, and the international community is pondering reducing Rangoon's isolation even further.

    The United States, Europe and Japan are seriously considering resuming limited humanitarian aid to encourage the dialogue process between the Burmese generals and Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Although there have been no substantive results from this process which started more than a year ago, at least the two sides are talking to each other. Ten years ago there was no hope of political change, now there is a glimmer of hope.

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    Prayers for peace in Burma

    09 Dec 2001

    Churches across Britain were today taking part in a day of prayer for peace and democracy in Burma.It is part of an international series of events timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's pro-democracy leader.

    Michael Taylor, chairman of the Burma Campaign UK, said: "Aung San Suu Kyi has asked for international support for the struggle for peace and democracy in Burma."This national day of prayer is a response to that call, as well as an expression of the deep concern for justice we believe we share with God."

    Burma has been ruled by a military dictatorship since 1962 and there are currently more than 1,500 political prisoners languishing in jail.

    The National League for Democracy, led by Suu Kyi, won more than 80 per cent of the vote when elections were held in 1990 but the regime refused to accept the results and has clung to power ever since.Suu Kyi, who has spent much of the last decade under house arrest, has come to symbolise Burma's struggle for freedom.

    Churches holding the services will have collections to raise funds for the pro-democracy campaign. Members of the congregation will be also encouraged to send postcards and wear yellow flowers to highlight their support.

    Yesterday Foreign Secretary Jack Straw paid tribute to Suu Kyi and called on the Burmese authorities to fulfil recent announcements that they are considering a return to democracy.

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    The al-Qaeda connection of Pak nuclear scientists in Burma

    India Express Network

    The United States wants to interrogate two Pakistani nuclear scientists, who had taken refuge in Myanmar with the tacit consent of the Pakistani government, according to the New York Times.

    Significantly, CIA director George J Tenet visited Pakistan last weekend to put pressure on Islamabad to hand over the two scientists, said the paper quoting White House officials. The US anxiety to question the two nuclear experts, stemmed from intelligence reports that the two experienced scientists Suleiman Asad and Muhammed Ali Mukhtar had links with Taliban and al-Qaeda outfit.

    Two other Pakistani nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudry Abdul Majeed, were detained and questioned by Pakistan following US directive to probe their links with the al-Qaeda and Taliban.

    Asad and Mukhtar were said to have been involved with the Pakistani nuclear weapons programme. Pakistan has resisted US efforts to interrogate their scientists and engineers, for fear that the intelligence reports may be a ploy by Washington to learn details of Pakistan's nuclear programme, Pakistani officials told the Times.

    There are reports that the two Pak scientists had been deliberately hidden so that the Americans do not get to interrogate them.Indian intelligence reports have it that Musharraf himself rang up one of Myanmar's military rulers to ask him to provide temporary asylum for the two nuclear specialists, assuring them that they had no terrorist links.

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    Tripartite means three issues, says Shan leader

    Shan Herald Agency for News No: 12 - 07:

    Contrary to usual understanding, Tripartite Dialogue, the expression that has become a byword of the opposition in general, means a dialogue on three issues more than anything else, said Khun Kya Nu, a Shan member of the National Reconciliation Program yesterday (8 December 2001).

    The 66-year old Shan, who is also known as Sengsuk "Gem of War", told the 150 activists gathered to honor the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize won by Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, at a "Liberated Area" that the resolution of the three issues i.e. Dictatorship, Democracy and States' rights through dialogue was the key to peace in Burma.

    "What with the pressure from Japan, Australia, Asean and even our powerful neighbor, chances of the junta turning back from the path of dialogue is zero," he said.

    According to a paper issued by the Canada-based National Reconciliation Program, the underlying intent of 'Tripartite Dialogue', a term first used in the 1994 United Nations General Assembly, is 'to emphasize the fact that the Burmese problem is a constitutional problem - not just minority or ethnic problem which can be resolved at a later date once democracy is established. The question of democracy, military rule and the constitutional arrangement with the non-Burman ethnic nationalities are intrinsically intertwined and cannot be resolved one without the other.'

    The paper also argues "the problem in Burma is not just a 'minority' problem. A minority problem affecting 5% - 10% of the population can be resolved at a later date. In Burma, the non-Burmans make up at least 40% of the population and the ethnic states occupy 57% of the total land area.

    "The problem in Burma is also not an 'ethnic' problem as in the former Yugoslavia. The ethnic nationalities are not fighting and killing each other, requiring a strong army to maintain law and order."

    The ceremony was chaired by Hsengnoung Lintner, President of the Women's League of Burma, who said, "Ceasefire does not mean there is peace in Burma," alluding to the fact all the groups that enjoyed truce agreements with Rangoon were still arming themselves.

    Two speakers, Aye Saung of People's Liberation Front and Dr. Tint Sway of Delhi-based "National Coalition Government" branch office, went into loggerheads with each other. While the latter, an NLD-Member of Parliament elected, exhorted the audience to put all their trust in the Nobel laureate the former warned against people's tendency to place all their hopes in 'minlaungs' (saviors). "We need to learn to rely on our own efforts also," said Aye Saung.

    Meanwhile, Mi Su Pwint, a speaker from the WLB, said the danger to peace was also in the minds of the people. "Even perceptions to good or bad have changed," she told the gathering as she related her meeting with an elderly villager from the Shan-Karenni area a few years ago. "The new major is very kindly. When our village headman failed to meet the quota of labor he needed, he only punched him three times," she quoted him as saying. "It made me feel very sad about the future of our country."

    Celebrations of the event held along the border areas in Chiangmai, Maehongson, Tak and Kanjanaburi provinces have called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house custody.

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    Fate of 10 military commanders unclear one month after purge

    Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma on 7 December

    Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council [SPDC], has issued an order appointing Coastal Region Commander Maj-Gen Aye Kywe, one of the 12 military commanders, to act concurrently as a minister representing the government within his jurisdiction. The Order No 40/2001 issued on 15 November was not published in the news media but was included in Burma Gazette No 47.

    Although the sackings of seven top generals including SPDC Secretary-3 Lt-Gen Win Myint was officially announced, the SPDC has so far refrained from publicizing the shuffle of 12 military commanders. According to news received by DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma], of the 12 regional military commanders only Maj-Gen Aye Kywe and Southeast Military Commander Maj-Gen Myint Swe remained in their posts while the other 10 were recalled and attached to the Defence Ministry.

    One month after the purge of the generals nothing has been officially announced about the fate of the 10 remaining commanders. The SPDC-owned newspapers have mentioned Triangle Region Commander Maj-Gen Thein Sein as Adjutant General while Southwest Commander Maj-Gen Thura Shwe Mann was cited as attached to the Defence Ministry. As there was no official announcement, many rumours have sprung up about the future of the 10 former commanders and their fate remains unclear.

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    Hundreds of Chinese Prisoners to be released

    Network Media Group

    Chiang Mai, December 9, 2001 - Hundreds of Chinese prisoners from 8 prisons in Burma will be released today on December 9 in order to promote China-Burma friendship, a source reported from Sino-Burma border.

    The Chinese prisoners from Meiktila, Kalay, Myitkyina, Banmo, Katha, Lashio, Taunggyi and Kyaing Tong prisoners are going to be released at 3 border checkpoints today with the criminal ruling code 401 (1).

    "The release of prisoners can be related to the Chinese president Jiang Zemin visit to Burma", a political researcher who watches the progress on Burma said. Chinese President Jiang Zemin is visiting Burma from December 12 to 15.

    The Chinese prisoners who are to be released include 202 man and 28 women, according to the report. Most of the Chinese prisoners were charged for illegal entry with the immigration law. The report did not mention are there any prisoner charged with criminal laws amongst these prisoners.

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    Nepal's Maoists Look for Guns

    FEER-13th December

    A large consignment of weapons seized by Burmese police near the northwestern border with India on November 2 may well have been headed for Maoist guerrillas in Nepal.

    India is battling its own insurgencies in the border area, but Asian intelligence officials believe neither the ethnic Nagas, Assamese or Manipuri rebel groups have the finances to order such a large number of weapons. They believe the haul of 200-400 assault rifles were bought by Nepal's Maoists, who recently broke a ceasefire agreement with Kathmandu and renewed their armed struggle.

    They are not known to have brought in weapons from overseas before. The guns were allegedly trucked across northern Burma by the United Wa State Army, an ethnic-minority force which has a ceasefire agreement with Burma's military rulers that effectively allows it to move drugs, guns and contraband along government-controlled roads, according to the intelligence officials.

    But this consignment was seized because, while most of the weapons are believed to have been purchased in China,some were said to have been bought from poorly paid Burmese soldiers.

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    Vehicles and drivers without licenses charged by USDA

    Network Meida Group

    December 9, 2001 - Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) charged vehicles and drivers without licenses in November with the permission of District Peace and Development Council Chairman in Tachileik, a source from Mae Sai reported.

    In Tachileik, a border town facing to Thai northern border town of Mae Sai, vehicles and drivers without licenses were charged 500 Baht and 100 Baht each respectively by USDA with permission of Tachileik district PDC chairman, the source said.

    "Tachileik PDC allowed USDA to charge the vehicles and driver as fund raising and USDA got more than 70,000 Baht last month", another source told NMG. More than 140 vehicles and 100 drivers were charged for not having licenses, said the source.

    According to the merchants on the border, Tachileik PDC gave permission to run top gambling on four animals (Lay Gong Gin) and Chinese domino gambling (Paik Kyu Phe) for fund raising of District Maternal and Child Care Association and District Fashion and Beauty Association during last November.

    USDA was formed as the spare force for Burmese Army with the instruction of State Peace and Development Council Chairman Senior General Than Shwe.

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    Burma nabs Thais for log poaching

    The Bangkokpost

    Burmese soldiers yesterday arrested seven Thais and four Karen people for allegedly cutting trees on the Burmese side of the border.The 11 suspects, one of them a Thai woman, were arrested near Sendai hill, opposite tambon Aow-noi, in Muang district. They were sent to Mergui in Burma for interrogation.

    Thaworn Porsombat, the Prachuap Khiri Khan deputy governor, said Burmese authorities rejected a Foreign Affairs Ministry request that the Thai suspects be returned to face charges in Thailand. Rangoon said it had sufficient evidence to press charges against them. But Thai police were not convinced the suspects were actually cutting trees in Burma.

    Pol Col Detnarong Sutthicharnbancha, deputy superintendent of Prachuap Khiri Khan police, said the area was a popular transit route for stolen motorcyles and illicit drugs.

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    Myanmar to Open First Maritime University

    YANGON, Dec 9, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar will open a Maritime University, the first ever one in the country, in August next year, aiming at producing international-standard maritime officers, engineers and architects for ship building, according to sources at the Myanmar Ministry of Transport Sunday.

    At the university run by the ministry, six degree courses will be conducted which cover naval architecture, marine engineering, port and harbor engineering, river and ocean engineering, marine electrical systems and electronics, and nautical science. The university will initially admit a total of 300 students to study these courses, each of which takes five years, the sources said.

    Meanwhile, the Myanmar government is also planning to open an Aerospace Engineering University to produce aerospace engineers.

    According to official statistics, the government built 110 universities and colleges in the last 13 years since 1988 when it took office, bringing the total number of institutes of higher learning to 142 at present. Meanwhile, during the period, the number of students studying at these higher education institutions increased by 416,719, bringing their total number to 556,456.

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    Burma says working with Suu Kyi for democracy

    BANGKOK (Reuters)

    - - Burma's military government on Monday rejected international criticism of its treatment of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, saying it was working with the opposition leader to create "a functioning democracy".

    Responding to an appeal from Nobel Peace Prize winners and world leaders for Suu Kyi's release from house arrest, Burma's government said it was working with her to reach a political settlement for the country.

    It did not say whether Suu Kyi would be freed.

    "Today we are all in the process of joining hands walking on the same path towards our common objective while successfully maintaining the hard-won peace, stability and the national unity which the nation is at present enjoying for the first time in its modern history," the government said in a statement.

    South African anti-apartheid advocate Desmond Tutu and East Timorese independence campaigner Jose Ramos Horta led 30 Nobel Peace Prize Winners gathered in Oslo on Sunday in demanding Suu Kyi's freedom.

    Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, a year after her National League for Democracy Party's (NLD) landslide election victory.

    But Burma's generals have never allowed the NLD to rule, saying any weakening of the military's grip on power could send the country into chaos, torn apart by ethnic divisions.


    Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for most of the last decade, but recent talks between the government and opposition have raised hopes of a breakthrough in the political stalemate.

    "We know that Aung San Suu Kyi, you are on the winning side and we want to say to (the Myanmar government) join the winning side," Tutu said in Oslo.

    Suu Kyi received other written tributes including one from U.S. President George W. Bush for her "determination and resolve" and "quiet dignity".

    Burma's government, which has often criticised what it says is "interference" by western governments in its internal affairs, said its relations with the opposition had improved.

    "The government of Myanmar warmly appreciates the opinions, concerns and interest of its partners in the international community and believes that all of us are on the winning side already since we all have the common objective of creating Myanmar to become a functioning democracy," the statement said.

    "But regretfully in the past due to misunderstanding between the NLD party and the government of Myanmar, cooperation did not exist."

    Secretive talks between the government and the NLD began late last year, brokered by United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail.

    Since then the Burmese government has released dozens of political prisoners and allowed the NLD to reopen some offices.

    But human rights campaigner Amnesty International says more than 1500 political prisoners still languish in Burma's prisons.

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    Thai company to build 5.25 million dollar resort in Burma


    - -A Thai company plans to build a 5.25-million-dollar hotel in Burma catering to domestic tourists and international travellers on package tours, a report said Sunday.

    Singthong Thammarongwit, director of Jaguar Travel and Tour Company, signed an agreement with Burma's hotel and tourism chief Khin Maung Latt to build the 100-room resort hotel, the Myanmar Times newspaper reported.

    The property -- to be built over two years in the military-ruled state -- will be located in a border area near the Three Pagodas Pass, famous as a stopping point along the route of the infamous World War II "death railway."

    The historic railway, featured in the book and film "The Bridge on the River Kwai", was built under deadly conditions by thousands of Allied and Asian prisoners of war held by the Japanese military.

    Khin Maung Latt reportedly praised the project, saying it would create jobs for local residents and would boost tourism in Burma.

    The hotel and tourism chief estimated that the resort would lead to a four-fold increase in the number of tourists visiting the Three Pagodas Pass, according to the Myanmar Times.

    An official from Burma's Hotels and Tourism Ministry was quoted as saying that Thai tourists would be allowed to cross the border at the pass, but only international tourists on package tours would be able to stay at the hotel.

    The resort would be the latest such venture launched by Thai investors in Burma.

    Last week, a Thai senator and businessman announced plans to build a nudist colony on Burma's St Luke's island in the Andaman Sea, for which he was granted a 45-year concession.

    Local reports said the Thai entrepreneur, Vikrom Isiri, earlier launched a casino and luxury hotel on Burma's Son island, also in the Andaman Sea, for which he also has a 45-year concession.

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