Daily News- December 18 - 2001- Tuesday

  • IM2 students protest lack of hostel accommodation
  • Burma frees student leader, more releases expected
  • MYANMAR Peace talks will fail if we are excluded, minorities warn
  • Thailand defends refugee policy
  • Burmese students ask for one more year
  • Burma jails 11 over photos of Taleban-destroyed Buddha images
  • Burma reshuffles military intelligence
  • Myanmar Leader Calls for Development of Traditional Medicine
  • Myanmar Endeavors for Increased Seafood Export Earning

  • IM2 students protest lack of hostel accommodation

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 16, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 14 December

    About 400 students staged a demonstration at the Institute of Medicine-2 in North Okkalapa Township on 6 December. The demonstration which lasted about three hours was to protest the lack of students' hostel accommodation.

    The incident started when the registrar rejected a request by students from the districts to occupy two empty hostels. The registrar said the hostels have already been chosen by the health minister to transform them into hospital units but the students argued to let them stay as a temporary measure before the hostels are being transformed.

    Eyewitnesses said after a heated debate the student number swelled to over 400 and anti-government slogans were heard.

    The students' demonstration dispersed after the registrar held talks with five student representatives. Nothing is clearly known whether the students will be allowed to occupy the hostels.

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that problems frequently arise with students' hostel accommodation at all universities in Burma including the medical colleges.

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    Burma frees student leader, more releases expected

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 17, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 16 December

    One of more than 50 political prisoners whose release dates have been overdue was released by the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] authorities without any announcement on 12 December. One of the All Burma Students' Union leaders Ko Yin Htwe, age 35 years, was released from Tharawaddy Jail.

    He was arrested by the SPDC Military Intelligence in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment under Section 10-A of the Emergency Provisions Act. Later his sentence was reduced to 10 years imprisonment under a General Amnesty Order. He was not released when his due date arrived in 1999 but instead was detained again under Section 10-B of the Emergency Provisions Act. Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Burma, AAPP, stated that there are currently 51 political prisoners in Burma whose release dates have been long overdue.

    According to latest reports received by DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma], about 1,500 political prisoners including 18 elected representatives are still languishing in SPDC jails. But National League for Democracy [NLD] spokesperson U Lwin told DVB in one of the interviews that the SPDC's rate of releasing political prisoners is pretty slow and that they should release more political prisoners more frequently.

    Further reports revealed that the SPDC is planning to release the jailed students. They are given questionnaires to answer and an undertaking to sign. The most important question is what they plan to do in future once they are released from jail. The main fact is for the students to sign an undertaking that they will not engage in any form of political activity once they are released from detention. The majority of detained students have been unwillingly signing the undertakings to secure their release. DVB has learned that the current SPDC plan to release imprisoned students does not include any NLD members.

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    MYANMAR Peace talks will fail if we are excluded, minorities warn

    WILLIAM BARNES in Bangkok
    South China Morning Post

    Myanmar's many ethnic minorities say secret talks between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military regime will fail to forge a fairer future unless minority groups are invited to participate soon. The same point was made at the recent Nobel Peace Prize celebrations in Oslo and reiterated yesterday by ethnic representatives on the Thai-Myanmar border.

    There had not been a single sign that even if the ruling generals were prepared to do a deal with an ethnic Burmese opponent like Ms Aung San Suu Kyi that they would be willing to accommodate any of the minorities' aspirations, they said.

    "The failure to find a workable distribution of power between the Burmese and the other nationalities has been a disaster. "Aung San Suu Kyi has been tussling with the military since the 1990 election, we've been wrestling [with Yangon] since independence in 1948," Hte Bupeh, of the Karenni National Progressive Party, said.

    The closed-door talks that started in October last year have so far not gone further than confidence-building exchanges, the release of some political prisoners and reopening of a few offices belonging to Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

    The United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail, who is brokering the talks, has said he hopes to see progress in the negotiations "very soon". He has warned the minority groups that they should be ready to participate next year. But many, perhaps most, ethnic leaders harbour a deep traditional distrust of the ethnic Burmese, who account for up to two-thirds of the population, let alone a prickly military drenched in Burmese sentiment.

    "The ethnic trust question needs to be crossed very quickly. This can never be an afterthought. It's the key to the whole thing," said Khun Kya Nu, a veteran member of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.

    Ms Aung San Suu Kyi commands unique respect among the minorities, yet some complain that her confrontation with the military is drawn in David and Goliath terms, leaving the minorities out in the cold.

    The call for a nation-wide ceasefire, freedom to meet and free passage for negotiators made by a leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Khun Htoo Oo, to Mr Razali in Yangon was given unanimous support by minority leaders in Oslo.

    "We couldn't make a step towards Rangoon [Yangon] without risking getting shot. The regime acts as if it hates us so how do you think we feel about our chances of participating in the talks," a representative of the Karen National Union said. The regime underlined such doubts recently when it complained that the leaders of "illegal" minority parties had attended an opposition ceremony in Yangon.

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    Thailand defends refugee policy

    From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

    The Thai government has defended its refugee policy after criticism from the European Union. A Thai Foreign Ministry official, Laxanachantorn Laopahan, said the country was already housing more than 120,000 Burmese refugees. She pointed out that Europe had accepted fewer than 400 Burmese refugees for resettlement.

    A European Union official Andreas List has accused Thailand of not rigorously adopting international standards on the acceptance of refugees. The diplomatic spat comes as international concern mounts over the fate of some 800 ethnic-Karen villagers who are hiding inside Burma. They include 63 refugees returned to Burma against their will.

    The BBC correspondent in Bangkok says the European Union will deliver a formal protest later this week to the Thai goverment on its treatment of refugees.

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    Burmese students ask for one more year

    The Nation

    Dissident Burmese students who are staging a hunger strike against the closure of Maneeloy camp yesterday urged the Thai government to allow them to stay for another year until the UN completed the resettlement process.

    Some 240 students applying for resettlement in third countries are now waiting for interviews with officials from host countries, said Maung Maung Kuu, secretary of Burmese Students Committee.

    "The Thai government should not move the students to border areas since they may be hurt by Burmese armed forces,'' he said.

    The National Security Council said earlier that 176 students who had been granted "person of concern" status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would be relocated to a shelter in Suan Phung district pending their resettlement.

    Meanwhile another 130 people who illegally entered Thailand and are not recognised by any organisations would be deported to their homeland.

    Set up in 1993, the Maneeloy camp is a shelter for Burmese students who fled the 1988 military crackdown. However, the camp has become troublesome for the Thai authorities as some dissident students have used it as a base for their political movement against the Rangoon junta.Some members of the camp were involved in a siege at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok in October 1999 and the storming of a hospital in January 2000.Thailand has repatriated some 2,100 students since the incidents.

    Students at the camp have been conducting a hunger strike to oppose the closure, now scheduled for December 27.However, yesterday only nine students continued the hunger strike with five protesters having been hospitalised.

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    Burma jails 11 over photos of Taleban-destroyed Buddha images

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 17, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 15 December

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] has passed heavy prison sentences to some Buddhist leaders from Akyab for copying and distributing photos of the world's biggest twin Buddha images destroyed by rockets and artillery fire by the Taleban religious fundamentalists in Afghanistan. Eleven Buddhist leaders were arrested in May for their actions. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Thet Naing filed this report.[Thet Naing] Khaing Aung Kyaw from Arakan State Human Rights Watch gave the following comment.

    [Khaing Aung Gyaw] The Buddhist leaders from Akyab in Arakan State distributed the photos of the Buddha images for the people to remember and venerate. As the Muslim fundamentalist Taleban Government is a terrorist government so is the SPDC Military Government because the arrest of religious leaders for distributing photos of Buddha images illustrated total disregard for religion and violation of human rights.

    [Thet Naing] He said 11 religious leaders, including U Tha Tun Aung, were detained and that he had sought the assistance of Amnesty International for the release of the religious leaders detained illegally by the junta.

    [Khaing Aung Gyaw] The SPDC government's arrest of Buddhist Arakan nationals showed their support for the Taleban terrorist government. We urged the SPDC military government to immediately release the Arakan Buddhist leaders and we have also sent an appeal to Amnesty International to intercede on our behalf.

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    Burma reshuffles military intelligence

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 17, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 15 December

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] has restructured 29 former Military Intelligence [MI] units into 12 MI Battalions. The MI units were restructured after the reorganization of the Defence Ministry's Office of Strategic Studies in October. The headquarters of the various MI Battalions are:

    Military Intelligence Battalion [MIB] No 1 - Myitkyina;
    MIB No 2 - Lashio;
    MIB No 3 - Keng Tung;
    MIB No 4 - Taunggyi;
    MIB No 5 - Moulmein;
    MIB No 6 - Mergui
    MIB No 7 - Bassein
    MIB No 8 - Ann
    MIB No 9 - Monywa
    MIB No 10 - Mandalay
    MIB No 11 - Toungoo

    The Army MI Headquarters and the Central Intelligence Battalion will continue to be stationed at the War Office in Rangoon.

    Opposition military observers say although the SPDC did not issue any announcements on the reorganization it is thought to be related to the recent revamping of military commands by the SPDC.

    Furthermore, since the MIBs are stationed at every Military Command, observers believe it will reduce the management complication that existed between the MI and Military Commands. The person holding the reins of the MI is SPDC Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt. It is not clear what outcome the restructuring will produce regarding the power struggle between MI Chief Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Maung Aye.

    Meanwhile, the inauguration ceremony of the new MIB No 6 was held in Mergui on 9 December. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung] A ceremony to inaugurate Tenasserim Division MI Headquarters and MIB No 6 Office was held at 0900 at the premises of the Coastal Region Military Command Headquarters in Mergui on 9 December. Col Thet Tin, former commander of MI-19 was appointed as Tenasserim Division MI chief. At the ceremony the new chief declared that MI-19 units stationed in Tenasserim Division have been abolished. He officially reported the matter and handed over the MI-19 office seal to Coastal Region Military Commander Maj-Gen Aye Kywe.

    Lt-Col Aung Thu was officially appointed as commander of MIB No 6. There are four companies under MIB No 6 and Company No 1 is stationed in Tavoy District, No 2 in Mergui District, No 3 in Kawthaung District, and No 4 is attached to MIB No 6. The newly-restructured MIBs have more manpower than their predecessor MI units and more positions have also been introduced. Furthermore, navy, air force and police special branch personnel have been incorporated into the MI platoons.

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    Myanmar Leader Calls for Development of Traditional Medicine

    YANGON, December 17 (Xinhua)--Myanmar top leader Senior-General Than Shwe has called for harness and systematic development of the country's traditional medicine, which is rich in essence, by using modern scientific methods.

    Than Shwe, chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, made the call in his message on the occasion of the country's Second Traditional Medicine Practitioners' Conference ( TMPC) which began here on Sunday, the official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Monday.

    "With proper standardization and good quality assurance, the role of traditional medicine will be greatly enhanced, which will be popular not only in Myanmar but also abroad," he said. However, he warned that if such medicine is not systematically developed and nurtured, it is bound to slowly fade away and disappear.

    The government has encouraged research and scientific development on the practice of traditional medicine that has been handed down from generation to generation and on various methods and portions that are well known for its effectiveness in certain regions of Myanmar, he said.

    Myanmar traditional medicine, composed of such ingredients as roots, tubers, bulbs, natural items and animal products, has in a historical perspective represented the typical Myanmar culture and traditional value and norms.

    According to official statistics, Myanmar has built a total of 10 traditional medicine hospitals in the country's 10 major cities, including Yangon and Mandalay, and the total number of hospital beds has reached 208 with over 214 township and district dispensaries already added.The last Myanmar TMPC was held in December 2000.

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    Myanmar Endeavors for Increased Seafood Export Earning

    YANGON, December 17 (Xinhua)--Myanmar is making efforts to increase its export earning of seafood by raising its standard of processing of the commodity. Out of 120 seafood processing plants in the country, 25 were upgrading their plants to an international standard known as the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, the local weekly journal The Myanmar Times said in its latest issue.

    Quoting an official of Myanmar's State Fishery Department, the journal said "Investment in processing operations, which added value to marine products, would ensure better prices on overseas markets." U Tin Win, the department director, encouraged more private investment in the country's seafood industry to help achieve sustainable growth, pointing out that "One of the main benefits of the private sector involvement was technology transfer in harvesting and processing."

    Meanwhile, Myanmar is receiving technical aid for the development of its fishery industry from the Bangkok-based Snwtheast Asian Fisheries Development Center, to which Myanmar is a member since 1999.

    According to the journal, during the fiscal year 2000-01 (April-March), Myanmar produced 1.28 million tons of fish and prawn, of which 140,000 tons were exported, earning more than 200 million U.S. dollars. It is estimated that production for 2001-02 ending next March will reach 1.37 million tons.

    Official statistics show that since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988, foreign companies coming from Bangladesh, China, Germany, Japan and Thailand have injected 197 million dollars so far in the sector of fishery. In addition, Myanmar government has also worked out a three-year fishery development plan starting 2000, encouraging the local private enterprises to engage in the sector by setting up fishery joint ventures with the government and foreign companies.

    The fishery sector is the third productive mainstay of Myanmar' s economy after agriculture and foreqtry, contributing 7.3 percent to the country's gross domestic product, standing as the third largest foreign exchange earner. The annual per capita consumption of fish and prawn of myanmar people is 18 kilograms.

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