Daily News-July 29 - 2001- Sunday

  • Burmese political prisoner release criticized by NLD official
  • Sanctions on Burma to stay despite progress, says Patten
  • AI-India welcomes release of political prisoners in Burma
  • Myanmar to host new international golf tournament

  • Burmese political prisoner release criticized by NLD official

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 27, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 26 July

    Exiled democracy groups say the ongoing talks between the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will progress more if all the remaining political prisoners are freed more quickly. Furthermore, they are criticizing the unfairness of the junta because the political prisoners were stealthily arrested en masse but they are being released in dribs and drabs of two to three a week.

    But, SPDC Foreign Minister U Win Aung remarked at the ASEAN Meeting that the release of political prisoners showed the progress of the talks.

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] contacted National League for Democracy Central Executive Committee Member U Lwin and asked him about his opinion of U Win Aung's remarks.

    [U Lwin] Well, I wonder how much U Win Aung knows to be talking in this manner. That is one matter.

    Another matter is although they have been releasing the political prisoners we do not know how many were released because they only inform us if it concerns our party. We are aware of the prisoners' release but we can tell you only what we were informed.

    Last week they released four and this week they released two, that's what we heard. These are the ones that have been released normally [preceding word rendered in English] after serving their sentences.

    If it is to show the progress of the talks then they should release more if you know what I mean.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 26 Jul 01
    Sanctions on Burma to stay despite progress, says Patten

    South China Morning Post
    Saturday, July 28, 2001
    HUW WATKIN in Hanoi

    Europe aims to boost links with Asean countries and others in Asia but will maintain sanctions against military-ruled Burma until it makes further concessions to democracy and the rule of law.

    European Union Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten said yesterday the 15-nation bloc did not wish to impose a solution on Burma, but expected its Government to reflect the will of the people.

    Speaking in the Vietnamese capital after meetings between Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers and key dialogue partners, Mr Patten said the EU was encouraged by the decision last October by Burma's ruling generals to reopen talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. "We've seen some hopeful signs, but we want to see a great deal more progress made, he said".

    Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung told Reuters: "The process has started. We are patient, we are cautious, and yes, we are optimistic."

    Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 1990 elections but has never been allowed to rule. The Nobel peace laureate has mostly been under house arrest since then. About 150 political prisoners have been released since October, but human rights group Amnesty International estimates at least another 1,500 remain incarcerated, a situation which has contributed to the EU's refusal to give Rangoon development aid or grant visas to junta officials.

    Burma's inclusion in Asean - which also comprises Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia - has led to tensions in Asean-EU relations, but Mr Patten said the bloc would issue a new policy on relations with Asia in September. "We have decided our political dialogue with Asean [shouldn't] be blocked . . . and that it is perfectly possible to include in that dialogue the expression of our concerns about the political policies pursued by [Burma's military regime]," he said.

    Mr Patten said he was also encouraged by an apparent policy shift in communist Vietnam. He applauded Thursday's statement by Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien that he would welcome a dialogue on human rights.

    Asean and its key allies - including the EU, the United States, Russia and China - this week endorsed a move towards more active "preventive diplomacy" in the region, and Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday that the message of openness and closer co-operation had been embraced by all Asean members.
    AI-India welcomes release of political prisoners in Burma

    New Delhi, July 28, 2001
    Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

    Amnesty International–India Section has welcomed recent release of political prisoners in Burma and urged the military government to release all those political prisoners remain in jail and end of human rights abuses in the country.

    Speaking to Mizzima News Group, India’s Section coordinator Mr. Vijay Nagaraj said that he is pleased to hear the release of some political prisoners in Burma.

    I think the pressure is beginning to tell. On the one hand, there is a strong international scrutiny and also many human rights organizations continue to focus on what is happening in Myanmar. On the other hand, you also have the UN Special Envoy and his intervention, which itself is an additional form of international pressure and increasing recognition within the military regime that they are in danger of isolation, he said.

    It is a positive thing but there is a long way to go before we see complete restoration of human rights.

    Along with several civil society groups in India, Amnesty International- India is planning to organize a public awareness function on human rights situations in Burma on the coming 8th August which is the 13th Anniversary of People’s Uprising in Burma. It is also organizing a signature campaign throughout India for a petition to be submitted to the Burmese military regime calling for the release of all the political prisoners and end of human rights violations in Burma.

    Amnesty said that torture and ill-treatment have become institutionalized in Burma with the security forces using torture as a means to extract information, punish, humiliate and control people.
    Myanmar to host new international golf tournament

    YANGON, July 28 (AFP) - Myanmar will soon play host to a new international golf tournament in another sign that the military-ruled nation is becoming a mecca for aspiring Asian professionals, organisers here said.

    Secretary of the fledgling Myanmar Professional Golfers' Association Chan Han said the championship called the Myanmar London PGA Championship would be held in Mandalay, 450 miles north of here from September 26 to 29.

    "The fact that we can hold this event here shows that the standard of golf in Myanmar is quite high," Chan Han told reporters ahead of the launching of the five-venue local circuit scheduled for July 30.

    An established leg on the Asian professional golf circuit, Myanmar already hosts the internationally recognised Myanmar Open. According to Han, who also runs the Han Golf Masters Pte Limited, the tournament will be the first-ever international-level championship held in Mandalay, the seat of Myanmar art and culture.

    "This is also another milestone for professional golf here, with 40 of our pros, including four to six of our top amateurs, having an opportunity to play against international players," he said.

    The championship organisers expect about 70 licensed professionals will take part in what has been described as an "opportunity tour" intended for second-tier professional players but have not qualified for major golfing competitions.

    "Looking at it from the point of view of our local players, this is truly a golden opportunity for them," Han said. "They will be able to compete with foreign players both here and in Mandalay." "As far as I'm concerned this is unbelievable, and we can even look forward to the local circuit eventually becoming an international event," he added.

    Han said Myanmar was to be one of four or five nations, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, who plan to introduce similar "opportunity tournaments" as stepping stones for the more than 500 Asian golf pros and up to 400 more attending qualifying schools.

    The local golf circuit was organised in 1998 under the auspices of the Myanmar Golf Federation and sponsored by Rothmans of Pall Mall Myanmar Ptd Ltd, a private joint venture with the ruling military government. The "London" tournament moniker was taken from the joint venture's locally-produced brand of cigarettes.

    Tournament developer David Parkin said in a statement that he was "honored" to stage another international golf event in Myanmar and "especially excited" that Mandalay had been chosen as the location.