Daily News-July 30 - 2001- Monday

  • Burma warned on talks with Suu Kyi
  • DVB says seven political prisoners released unannounced
  • YCDC will launch new radio station
  • Myanmar census will be first in twenty years

  • Burma warned on talks with Suu Kyi

    Monday 30 July 2001
    The Age

    Burma's military regime is under renewed pressure to reach a deal with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to return the country to democracy or face further international sanctions.

    Western governments and Japan are signalling a growing impatience with the slow pace of secret talks between Ms Suu Kyi and senior military officials that have been under way since late last year.

    Senior Western diplomats attending the annual meetings of the Association of South-East Asian Nations in Hanoi last week said the United States and European Union were preparing to increase pressure on the regime if there was not clear evidence within the next two to three months that it was ready to compromise with Ms Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy.

    Several Western ministers are believed to have warned Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung that the regime's recent decision to release about 150 political prisoners was not enough to end the trade and investment sanctions that have crippled the economy.

    "We have to show there is more to democracy than just releasing several political prisoners," Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said.

    European Union External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten said Burma must demonstrate a commitment to reform and end continuing human rights abuses, including forced labor, if it wanted European sanctions lifted.

    Japan, once Burma's most important aid donor, also appears to be toughening its stance towards the generals under the leadership of Junichiro Koizumi. Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka told Mr Win Aung on Thursday that the regime must hasten the release of the 1800 political prisoners still in detention and ensure the early release of Ms Suu Kyi, who has been under de facto house arrest since last September.

    "I told him that although Myanmar (Burma) may have domestic problems, I want it to return her to society as quickly as possible so that we can work together with the international community," Ms Tanaka said.

    While Ms Suu Kyi has still made no public comment on her talks with the regime, her decision not to attend a ceremony two weeks ago marking the anniversary of the assassination of her father, independence hero Aung San, has been interpreted as evidence that the dialogue has stalled or remains far from a breakthrough.

    But Mr Win Aung said at the weekend that the talks were making progress and insisted that the regime's objective was to return the country to democracy."Now the atmosphere is good. Now we are moving forward. The process has started. We are patient, we are cautious and, yes, we are optimistic," he told Reuters news agency. But he warned that the process could not be rushed or the country risked "disintegration and anarchy" and said continuing economic sanctions were impeding progress.

    "It's like walking through a minefield. People will tell you to walk faster but you must be cautious ... Our ultimate goal is to turn the country into a democratic state."

    Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said after meeting Mr Win Aung on Friday that he believed progress was being made in the talks with Ms Suu Kyi."Things are looking a little bit better now, but of course it's not game, set and match by a long chalk, but at least it's heading in the right direction," he said.
    DVB says seven political prisoners released unannounced

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jul 28, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 27 July

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military government has released another seven political prisoners without announcing on 18 July.

    They are Dr Kyi Min and U Tint Wai from Insein Jail, and U Tun Kyaw, U Kyi Nyunt, U Sein Maung, U Mya Saing, and U Kyaw Tha from Thayet Jail.

    When Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Kyi Min supposedly said that this kind of woman is rare in Burma and that he is proud to be Burmese. He used his office stationary and distributed the pamphlets. He was arrested by the SPDC Military Intelligence [MI], in 1991 and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

    U Tint Wai was arrested last year without charge and later sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

    Political sources in Rangoon told DVB that Dr Kyi Min was released because his time was up while U Tint Wai was released because of his chronic TB disease.

    The other five including U Tun Kyaw from Aunglan were arrested by the MI in 1997 for disrespecting acts against the national flag and later sentenced to five years imprisonment each. They raised the SPDC flag and the NLD flag together at an Independence Day ceremony but forgot to pull down the SPDC flag at night so action was taken against them out of malice.

    Exiled democracy activists have pointed out that at present there are over 1,000 political prisoners in jails and the SPDC dare not issue any announcement on their release because it could expose their malicious arrests.

    More than 50 political prisoners have been released since UN Special Envoy Mr Razali's June trip but they remain the only seven political prisoners whose release was not announced. But NLD Central Executive Committee Member U Lwin said at an interview yesterday that those recently released were either overdue or on health grounds and they have nothing to do with the agreement. If it were in accord with the agreement then many should be released simultaneously.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 27 Jul 01
    YCDC will launch new radio station

    The Nation - July 28, 2001

    Burma's military government plans to liven up Rangoon's airwaves with 'light and entertaining broadcasts from a new FM radio station to be launched by the end of the year, a report said yesterday.

    The City Development Committee will run the station from city hall, treating listeners to a potpourri of daily traffic reports, city news and entertainment, The Burmese Language Myanmar Times reported.

    The committee expects to deploy a team of reporters across the city who will file dispatches via walkie - talkie to the station while providing 'early warning' traffic reports for motorists who tune in.

    Programmes airing on the station will be 'light and entertaining' and unlike the decidedly more stern broadcasts heard on Burma's state radio. Western and Burmese music will also be featured.

    More than US$ 100,000 (Bt 4.6 million) worth of broadcast gear has reportedly been ordered from Singapore to equip the station. According to the report, the radio station will be broadcast on the 99Mhz frequency.

    The radio station would be the latest modern amenity in Rangoon, a city of 5.5 million inhabitants where posh residential houses, shopping malls and high-rise office buildings have become increasingly common. The FM station is slated to begin broadcasting by November.
    Myanmar census will be first in twenty years

    Burma Courier No. 280- Jul 22 - 28, 2001
    Based on news in the New Light of Myanmar: July 27, 2001

    RANGOON-Myanmar is to conduct its first national census in almost twenty years, according to Gen Khin Nyunt of the country’s ruling military council.

    Speaking at a meeting of top officials and staff of the Ministry of Immigration and Population on Thursday, Khin Nyunt announced that "arrangements are to be made for enumerating the population".

    He said the data collected would be of "paramount importance at a time when national plans were laid down and being implemented to keep abreast with other nations in terms of development". The Population Department would be equipped with the appropriate electronic devices and computers systems needed for the enumeration, he said.

    According to the official press the general took time after the meeting to look over the census questionnaire and the computerized data the population department has already collected from across the nation.

    The last official census was conducted in 1983 in the time of the Burmese Socialist People’s Party administration of General Ne Win. All subsequent estimates have been based on statistical and demographic calculations based on that enumeration. Current estimates used by international agencies and press services put the population total at anywhere from 42 - 52 million people.

    Official data provided by the government’s Central Statistical Organization to the International Monetary Fund in 2000 indicated the department was using a population figure of 47.3 million in September, 1999, and an annual growth rate of approximately 1.94 %, for official stats purposes.

    Based on these figures, the population in mid 2001 would be around the 49 million mark, but a few weeks ago Population and Immigration Minster Saw Tun proudly announced that the number of people in Burma now topped the 52 million mark.

    Official population estimates have been seriously distorted by the large numbers of people in border areas who have crossed over into Thailand,Bangladesh and India as refugees fleeing civil strife or in search of work. The number of illegal immigrants of Burmese nationality in Thailand alone is estimated at over 700,000.

    Reports indicate that hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals, coming in the opposite direction, have taken up residence in northern and northeastern Burma in recent years, many of them assuming the identity of officially "deceased" persons.

    The matter of issuing registration cards to those not qualified to be citizens had come to his attention, Gen Khin Nyunt said, an offence he considered to be "tantamount to ruining one’s own race and betraying the national cause". He also drew attention without specifying national origins to "aliens who were left as an evil legacy in the Union of Myanmar after the regaining of independence". All employees were to perform their duty according to the law, he said. "Therefore, emphasis is to be placed on promoting their morals." General Khin Nyunt did not specific what moral discipline was contemplated.