Daily News-July 06 - 2001- Friday

  • Missing Former Foreign Minister
  • UN Envoy lauds aid plan to Burma
  • Naga rebels expand statehood push to include Burmese land
  • Burma's Khin Nyunt speaks out against globalized cultural influences
  • Muslims fleeing religious riots swell numbers at Thai border
  • Border checkpoint opens; Tourism win in Thaksin's diplomatic overtures
  • Military-ruled Burma frees more opposition MPs
  • NLD Says Others Still In Detention

  • Missing Former Foreign Minister

    By Tin Maung Htoo (Canada)
    Burma Media Association

    July 4, 2001 Whereabouts of the ousted Burma's junta foreign minister U Ohn Gyaw is not only a puzzle for Burma observers, but also a ambiguous for Burmese diplomats who are in mission abroad, observed BMA based on relevant sources.

    Earlier account that reported on Burma Net News based on a source indicated that he went on hiding in Australia, seeking asylum there, but other sources closed to BMA suggested that he could also be in Canada, taking medical treatment in Montreal City. But Burmese diplomatic sources could not confirm about this news.

    The arrival of U Ohn Gyaw in Canada was rumored since the end of last year, and it is not clear whether his family is along with him or not. But the diplomatic sources said his son is in Japan and his daughter working at ASEAN Head Office is in Indonesia.

    His desertion reportedly shocked the whole Burmese Foreign Ministry and subsequently cost a high-ranking position in the Ministry. Colonel Ba Hein who provided a passport for the sacked minister was dismissed after the fake pilgrimage trip to India was unfolded.

    In fact it is not unusual in Burmese diplomatic circle as many similar dramas occurred since the rule of former dictator General Ne Win. U Thi Han who served as the foreign minister from 1962 to 1970 was also forced to quit after former Prime Minister U Nu went to India for the same pilgrim trip in order to escape from the country in 1970.

    In the past decades, a number of politicians and high-ranking government officials escaped using the channel of pilgrim trip as the most likely way to manage to escape. But for those who are already abroad, defection is relatively easy.

    Take a recent example of U Ko Ko, deputy representative of Burmese Mission to UN, before his defection, he just sent a notice to the embassy through fax machine, stating "I won't come back." That's how he does, so do others, but some diplomas went missing without even sending a notice or coming back to the office.

    But for U Ohn Gyaw no one can estimate that how many flights and places he has taken for his final destination. It is a dismay of him as his 40 yearlong foreign affair career was forcibly terminated in 1998 with the humiliation although he became the only civilian deputy foreign minister for the military government in October 1988 and full minister in 1991. He was not even given for an inferior position in the administration. Some of his parallel ministers who were also discharged from their relevant positions were still honored with some sort of less powerful positions in the governing body if they were not messed up with corruption act or other form of scandal.

    During his long career he also served as head of the ministry's South and Southeast Asia division and ambassador to a number of countries including Yugoslavia, the United Sates, Singapore, Australia and the former Soviet Union. The 1998 reshuffle was a painful turning point for his career and life; he was replaced with U Win Aung, a former military colonel and ambassador to England.

    The motive that made him to sneak out of the country is unknown yet. But it is sure that the move arisen from his wound in which he suffered after being expelled from the position he lovely sticks with for a decade could be a main factor. Although he gave his ultimate loyalty to his bosses, what he got in return is an incurable injury. The performance that he precisely followed with what the Generals ordered only attributes ever-lasting effect for the rest of his life.

    In outside world, he was known as a "yes man" who repeats "his master's voice" Moreover, he is the one who blatantly falsified the fact that only 20 demonstrators were killed in 1988 democracy uprising, and in his word the rest were "looters." He is also the one who unethically called pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as "Mrs. Michael Aris." It is reported that his careless, impolite and sarcastic manner even disturbed some ruling Generals. In the end, his overall performance did not convince the Generals to maintain his position, and a few months before his removable, some media reports even predicted for his karma.

    However, it is undeniable that he could accomplish some successes for the regime. Within his ten-year tenure Burma became a new member of ASEAN and rejoined the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as strengthened relations with China although he could not wipe out growing western's concern over Burma. But all these efforts that he merited are not only far short of getting reward from his bosses, but also regarded as terrible errors for pro-democracy advocates in the legitimization of the military junta in the regional and international arena.

    However, all deeds and misdeeds that he worked out are now over for him. The legacy that he left is a good lesson for all people who are humbly serving for paradoxical military leaders. That is, no matter how much you are allegiant to your superiors and regardless of how strictly you are obedient with the given order, you are still a pawn and could be ended up with a heart breaking.
    UN Envoy lauds aid plan to Burma

    The Japan Times: July 6, 2001

    Tan Sri Razali, the visiting U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, praised Japan's planned aid for renovation of a hydroelectric power plant in Myanmar, saying it would help improve the country's economy.

    In talks with Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, Razali said the Japanese project is gaining more international understanding, against some criticism of Japan's aid for the military regime, which is accused of human rights violations.Tanaka replied that the aid is humanitarian in nature, a Foreign Ministry official said.

    Japan is planning to offer some 3 billion yen to repair the Baluchaung power plant, which was built by Japan in east Myanmar in 1960.It is feared that leaving it unrepaired could lead to a serious accident, according to the ministry.

    Tokyo's stance is that it offers economic assistance to engage the military regime in dialogue and improve the human rights situation.

    Razali also said the recent release of political prisoners is a positive move and an important step for enhancing dialogue between the military regime and democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the official said.
    Naga rebels expand statehood push to include Burmese land

    S. N. M. ABDI in New Delhi
    source : SCMP

    Insurgents in northeastern India have threatened to annex ethnic Naga-majority areas of Burma to create a "greater Nagaland" state.

    Tiny Nagaland's two million ethnic tribespeople, formerly headhunters who embraced Christianity in the 19th century, have so far fought for an independent state covering Naga-inhabited areas of three adjoining Indian states: Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

    The Naga armed rebellion against Indian rule since 1947 - the world's longest-running insurgency - claimed an estimated 25,000 lives before a 1997 ceasefire agreement with New Delhi.

    The separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland, headed by Burmese-born Naga leader S. S. Khaplang, has now added sizeable parts of Burma to its list of coveted territories. The rebels' new move has jolted New Delhi, which is working to improve relations with Rangoon's military junta.

    "There are 1.3 million Nagas in western Burma alone. They and their land are an integral part of the sovereign Naga homeland we are fighting for," N. Kitovi Zhimoni, the council's general secretary and "prime minister" of the People's Republic of Nagaland, said at the group's heavily fortified tactical headquarters in Nagaland's Mokukchung district. Mr Zhimoni said the stage was set for an armed campaign to "liberate our brothers and their land from Burmese rule".

    Last month, 3,000 people from Burmese Naga tribes fled to Nagaland after Rangoon launched a military offensive against Naga separatists. According to the Naga People's Movement for Human Rights and the Naga Students' Federation, the refugees fled after Burmese troops burnt down three predominantly Naga villages - Chen Hoyat, Troilho and Nyaching in western Burma.

    Last month, New Delhi extended its ceasefire agreement with the rebels to other northeastern states where Nagas have a presence. The truce had been confined to Nagaland - guerillas operating outside Nagaland were not spared by Indian security forces. The extension of the ceasefire met with stiff resistance in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, where it was seen as a prelude to the creation of a greater Naga state with their territory.
    Burma's Khin Nyunt speaks out against globalized cultural influences

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 5, 2001

    The first work coordination meeting to hold the 9th Traditional Burmese Culture Performing Arts Contest was held at the National Museum on Pyay Road in Yangon [Rangoon] at 1430 today. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, patron of the 9th Traditional Burmese Culture Performing Arts Contest Supervisory Committee and secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council [SPDC], attended and delivered an address.

    Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt explained the annual Traditional Burmese Culture Performing Arts Contest sponsored by the government with active cooperation of veteran artistes and the energetic and remarkable participation of all contestants including the students and youths has met with more-than-expected success each year. He said he believed the annual contest this year will also be successful and achieve its objectives. Khin Nyunt added the government is holding the contest every year to let the Myanmar [Burmese] youths to cherish and appreciate genuine Myanmar culture and tradition and help preserve them and to instil cultural awareness.

    The secretary-1 said due to the rapid development of science and technology internationally has led to the process of globalization. He noted it can be seen that some big countries which are enjoying technological and economic advantage are penetrating and influencing small developing nations politically, economically, and culturally and attempting to mould them to their desires. Especially, they are using the advantage of their media to dominate culturally the youth in developing countries. Khin Nyunt remarked national tradition is vanishing among the youths in the nations with weak national spirit where the situations are becoming uncontrollable as some big nations are exporting their ideology and social systems to them.

    He explained it is the pride of Myanmar as the nation is in the forefront in preserving traditional culture and the Myanmar youths are also safeguarding their cultural heritage. He added Myanmar is able to preserve her tradition and culture throughout its history. SPDC Secretary-1 Lt Gen Khin Nyunt said as some big nations are trying to dominate Myanmar in political, economic, and cultural sectors, the nation need to preserve the traditions and culture with firm conviction...

    Source: Radio Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 4 Jul 01
    Muslims fleeing religious riots swell numbers at Thai border

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 5, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 4 July

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that more refugees have arrived at the Karen refugee camps near the Thai-Burma border. It was also discovered that the majority of the refugees are Muslims. DVB correspondent Maung Tu filed this report from Mae Sot [in Thailand].

    [Maung Tu] It was learned that just as 2,000 new Burmese refugees arrived at the refugee camps from 15 June to 2 July, almost 200 new refugees have been arriving daily. The almost 2,000 refugees which arrived at the Karen refugees camps of (Ban Kalo) and (Ban Lamoi) from the middle of June till today were not the usual refugees that fled the fighting near the villages along the border regions in Karen State but from the inner big cities.

    The majority of the refugees happen to be from the Islamic faith that escaped from the Muslim-Buddhist riots which erupted recently in Toungoo. The refugees total about 2,000 from 400 households across the country including 15 households from Thaton, six households from Mandalay Division's Yamethin, 14 households from Pegu, nine households from Nyaunglebin, nine households from Bilin, 20 households from Rangoon's Thaketa, 25 households from Dagon Myothit, and 14 households from Mandalay's Myothit.

    It is believed that there are now almost 100,000 Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burma border trying to escape the atrocities committed by the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council].
    Border checkpoint opens; Tourism win in Thaksin's diplomatic overtures

    Bangkok Post - Thailand; Jul 5, 2001

    The popular border checkpoint between Burma and Thailand at Mae Sai-Tachilek was reopened on June 25 after a nearly five-month closure, paving the way for visitors to cross freely between the two countries. The reopening of this and a number of temporary border checkpoints (which are restricted only to citizens of the two countries) along the Thai-Burmese border followed the recent visit to Rangoon by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

    The Thai prime minister discussed the issue with his Burmese counterpart and urged the reopening of the border checkpoints in order to pave the way for a resumption of trade and tourism activities between the two countries.

    Minister to the Prime Minister's Office and Tourism Authority of Thailand Chairman Somsak Thepsutin commented, "As soon as the Mae Sai-Tachilek checkpoint reopened, there was an immediate improvement in trade and tourism activities between the two countries. "I am optimistic that the tourism industry will soon be back to normal. This will benefit citizens of both countries and help promote overland tourism between the two countries."

    Burma and Thailand are linked by three international border checkpoints: Mae Sai-Tachilek in Chiang Rai- Mae Sot-Myawaddy in Tak- Ranong-Kawthaung in RanongThere are also 13 temporary border checkpoints located in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Prachuap Kirikhan and Chumphon.

    Visitors can travel between Thailand to Burma only via the three international border checkpoints while the rest can be only used by citizens of the two countries. The Mae Sai-Tachilek international border checkpoint is open daily between 5:30am to 6:30pm. Foreign visitors can obtain a one-day border pass after providing a copy of their passport and $5.
    Military-ruled Burma frees more opposition MPs

    source : Reuters

    YANGON, July 6 Myanmar on Friday released from jail seven members of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, bringing the total number of opposition members released in recent weeks to 29.

    A military government spokesman told Reuters the seven politicians, elected in a 1990 general election, were released because of understanding reached between the ruling military and the NLD in recent talks.

    ''The remaining seven NLD MPs staying at government guesthouses in Yangon have left the guesthouses to return home to their families,'' the spokesman said. The government refers to some of its places of detention as ''guest houses.'' The spokesman said the seven were in good health.Myanmar authorities have released 27 NLD members and two members of an ethnic minority political party since the middle of June.

    Government officials have said the opposition politicians were released as a result of understanding reached in talks with NLD leader Suu Kyi. They have not elaborated.

    Brokered by U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, the talks between the ruling military body, the State Peace and Development Council and Suu Kyi started late last year but neither side has released details of the discussions. In recent weeks the government has also allowed the NLD to reopen 18 offices in Yangon Division including one in the city centre.

    The NLD won Myanmar's last general election in 1990 by a landslide but the ruling military ignored the result and cracked down on the party's representatives and supporters.Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi was released from six years' house arrest in 1995. Suu Kyi, NLD chairman Aung Shwe and vice chairman Tin Oo, have been restricted to their homes since September 22 after Suu Kyi angered the authorities by trying to visit party offices outside the capital Yangon.

    Some NLD members said they were hopeful the authorities would release Suu Kyi and her two colleagues before the July 19 Martyrs' Day anniversary of the assassination of Suu Kyi's father, Myanmar's independence leader, General Aung San.

    ''We're becoming more and more optimistic about the release of our leaders before July 19,'' one NLD member told Reuters on Friday. Aung San and eight others including several senior members of his pre-independence cabinet were shot dead on July 19, 1947, while the country was preparing for independence from Britain.

    The politicians released on Friday were identified as Win Myint, Thein Nyunt, Hla Thein, Thein Myint, Thein Oo, Myo Win and Myint Thein.Among those released earlier was Aye Win, a cousin and close aide of Suu Kyi's. Sentenced to five years imprisonment in June 1996 under a subversion law, Aye Win was freed on July 2.
    NLD Says Others Still In Detention

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP)--Myanmar released seven elected representatives of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party Friday, the last of nearly 200 who were detained three years ago when the party unilaterally tried to convene a parliament, an official statement said.

    "Today at 1 p.m. (0730 GMT) all the remaining seven NLD MPs staying at government guest houses in Yangon have left the guest houses to return home to their families," the brief government statement said.

    The releases are the latest sign that the government is easing its restrictions on Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which won general elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power. Hundreds of other party member remain in jail.

    However, a senior official of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, who requested anonymity, said that at least three elected representatives remained in detention in state guest houses in districts outside Yangon.

    Suu Kyi and her top two aides, party president Aung Shwe and vice chairman Tin Oo, also remain under house detention, enforced since Sept. 22 when Suu Kyi tried to travel outside Yangon, in defiance of official restrictions. During her confinement, Suu Kyi and the ruling military have held secret talks, the most significant direct contact between the two sides in a decade of bitter political deadlock.

    As a result of the talks, dozens of detainees have been freed. Since June, 29 NLD members who won seats in the 1990 elections have been released from government ''guest houses,'' a euphemism for detention centers mostly located on military camps.

    According to the NLD, nearly 965 party members, including 203 of its elected representatives, were rounded up in 1998 and put in such guest houses, soon after the NLD set up a committee which it said represented parliament.

    The NLD won 392 of the 485 contested seats in the 1990 elections. It set up the committee as the military had ignored its repeated demands that a proper parliament be convened.

    The government statement named the seven released Friday as: Win Myint, Thein Nyunt, Hla Thein, Thein Myint, Thein Oo, Dr. Myo Win and Myint Thein.

    According to a U.S. State Department report issued in February, Myanmar has at least 1,800 political prisoners. The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962.