Daily News-June 03 - 2001- Sunday

  • At least 12 killed in Burma train crash
  • Flash flood derails Mandalay-Myitkyina train, "some casualties" reported
  • Two Dissident Writers to Accept 'Golden Pen Award'
  • The Talk of the Town Turns Ninety
  • Burma orders cease-fire groups to remove emblems from "public view"
  • Opposition news agency claims army ordered Wa to shell Thai site
  • Authorities order return of rubber office seals from village councils
  • U.S. Adds Khun Sa and Wei Hsueh Kang to World Drug Kingpin Suspect List
  • Chinese agency reports arrest of "key drug tycoon" in Golden Triangle

  • At least 12 killed in Burma train crash

    YANGON (Reuters) - At least a dozen people were killed and several injured when a train came off the rails in Myanmar in heavy rain, sources at Myanmar Railways said.

    The official Myanmar-language Kyemon newspaper said the engine and four carriages of the Mandalay-Myitkyina train were derailed near the town of Kantbalu, 550 miles (885 kms) north of the capital Yangon.

    The paper said the train was swept off the rails by "heavy rains and raging mountain torrents". Sources said rescue efforts were still going on.
    Flash flood derails Mandalay-Myitkyina train, "some casualties" reported

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jun 2, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese radio on 1 June

    The 41-UP Mandalay-Myitkyina passenger train of Myanmar [Burma] Railways under the Ministry of Rail Transportation departed Mandalay Railway Station at 2100 [all times local] on 31 May. At about 0410 today [1 June] while the train was crossing Sindaw Bridge - Bridge No 159 between Nyaung Khin and Htantabin Villages in Kanbalu Township, a flash flood occurred due to heavy rains and the engine and four passenger coaches were derailed.

    Immediately after the accident, Maj-Gen Soe Win, chairman of Sagaing Division Peace and Development Council and commander of Northwest Military Command, supervised a group of Defence Services personnel, Red Cross Brigade members, and Health Departmental employees and have been carrying out rescue operations.

    Rail Transportation Minister U Pan Aung and Myanmar Railways employees, Health Minister Maj-Gen Ket Sein and medical specialists, Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement Minister Maj-Gen Sein Htwa, and responsible officials arrived at Mandalay International Airport by Myanmar Airways this morning and proceeded to the disaster site and have been carrying out rescue work and providing medical treatment. It has been learned that there were some casualties and injured among the passengers due to the train derailment.
    Two Dissident Writers to Accept 'Golden Pen Award'

    By Tin Maung Htoo
    Burma Media Association (BMA)
    June 2, 2001

    Two prominent journalists who have been in prison for years are once again coming into the attention of world media as the global organization for the newspaper industry is calling its annual conference this Monday in Hong Kong.

    Editors, publishers, and writers from all over the world are now rolling in to Hong Kong to attend 54th conference of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and 8th of World Editors Forum (WEF), four-day event in which two imprisoned Burmese journalists are to be honored with 'Golden Pen Award'. In the last year, nearly 1,400 publishers, senior executives, and editors attended the conference in Brazil.

    WAN's Communication Director Larry Kilman, confirmed that the award presentation would be made on Monday (June 4), and the award would be accepted on their behalf by Burmese actor and democracy advocate U Aung Ko.

    "The Golden Pen of Freedom has been annually awarded since 1962, and this year award has been chosen for two Burmese writers, in recognition of their courage in the struggle for freedom of expression and press in Burma," said Mr. Kilman.

    This is the second time for Burmese journalists to receive the prestigious award after the Guardian editor U Sein Win obtained the award in 1963. Last year award was given to imprisoned Syrian journalist Nizar Nayouf.

    The two Burmese journalists were also glorified with other international press freedom awards. Reporters without Borders bestowed 'Foundation of France Award' to Daw San San Nweh, and UNESCO offered the World Press Freedom Prize to U Win Tin.

    The Paris-based WAN, which represents over 17,000 newspapers in 93 countries, initiated a campaign for the release of two journalists after a selection of Golden Pen Award in the last year November.

    In April they sent a letter to ruling military leader Gen. Than Shwe, expressing their concern and demand for freedom of two journalists. However, the military are still firm to accede to the request of world's press and seemed to disregard their widespread concern.

    "WAN, which is working with exiled Burmese journalists, is lobbying governments and intergovernmental agencies in an effort to pressure the junta to free the journalists," stated in the relevant campaign press, adding they are also doing fund-raising to provide medical supplies for two ill journalists.

    The latest report of Amnesty International highlighted the deterioration of Daw San San Nweh's health condition as being suffered from high blood pressure, arthritic, and kidney problems. The Amnesty International said she did not receive appropriate medical treatment.However, the latest situation of U Win Tin was unknown, and the past reports only indicated that he was transferred from the jail to the Rangoon General Hospital after serious illness. The aged journalist is reportedly suffering from hernia and heart disease.

    In the special report released on World Press Freedom Day by Burma Media Association specified about his condition. The report based on a personal account of writer Zin Linn, who was detained with U Win Tin in the prison, wrote, " U Win Tin was not healthy. He always had to use one of his hands to lift his hernia. Besides this, he had already suffered from a stroke twice, and his eyes and teeth were in bad condition."

    Detailed report can be seen on the Burma Media Association's web site (www.bma-online.net).
    The Talk of the Town Turns Ninety

    source : The Irrawaddy News Magazine

    With the talks between Burmaís military rulers and the democratic opposition still under wraps in Rangoon, the talk of the capital has turned to the latest public appearance by former dictator Ne Win.

    On May 14, Burmaís erstwhile supreme ruler celebrated his 90th birthday in the company of his cronies and successors at the Maha Wizaya Zedi, a pagoda built during his nearly thirty-year reign. On hand for a special merit-making ceremony were intelligence chief Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and his wife, Daw Khin Win Shwe, as well as Lt-Gen Win Myint, secretary three of the current junta, and senior members of Ne Winís old regime.

    Sources reported that security was tight at the gathering, with numerous commandos posted around the pagoda for the safety of the man still widely reviled for ending Burmaís brief era of democratic rule.

    According to one informed source, members of the ruling junta had expressed serious concerns about Ne Winís plans to make his second public appearance so far this year.

    In March, the "Old Man" ended years of seclusion to attend a religious ceremony in his honor at Rangoonís Sedona Hotel.

    Some observers noted that Ne Win also provided his own "security". As a strong believer in numerology, with a special penchant for the number nine, the healthy-looking ninety-year-old retired despot left the pagoda at precisely 9:45 a.m. after donating nine items and 9,000 kyat to monks.

    Analysts inside Burma said they suspected Ne Winís recent re-emergence was somehow connected to the talks taking place between pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior military figures. But they added that it was still unclear where the aging former dictator, who is said to wield considerable influence behind the scenes, stands on the secret meetings.
    Burma orders cease-fire groups to remove emblems from "public view"

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jun 1, 2001

    Text of Shan Herald Agency for News report dated 31 May, carried in English by Burmese opposition electronic newspaper BurmaNet News on 1 June

    Groups that have cease-fire agreements with the junta were being ordered to remove their signboards and emblems from public view since mid-May, said a source from the Chinese border yesterday.

    On 16 May, MI-23, the military intelligence detachment of Muse, opposite Ruili (Mongmao in Shan) of Yunnan, called a meeting that was attended by several cease-fire groups.

    The officer (name not mentioned) was quoted as saying only signboards that described the groups as pure business firms would be permitted. Accordingly, names and insignias of each group must be pulled out. The source said it was the same everywhere in the Shan State. "In Taunggyi (the capital), owners of vehicles with the groups' names and stickers were told to wipe them out."
    Opposition news agency claims army ordered Wa to shell Thai site

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jun 1, 2001

    Text of Shan Herald Agency for News report dated 30 May, carried in English by Burmese opposition electronic newspaper BurmaNet News on 1 June

    Wa shelling of royal project site ordered by Burma Army, say source. A source from the border called SHAN [Shan Herald Agency for News] this morning to confirm that the Wa shelling of the royal project site in northern Thailand on 22 May was ordered by the Burmese army.

    The source, who lives in Monghsat, said the order came from Lt-Col Myint Aung, Commander, Light Infantry Battalion 333 of Monghsat to Ai Htoon, Battalion 212 of the UWSA (United Wa State Army) to shell Doi Angkhang (the royal project site).

    Five mortar shells landed in the Doi Angkhang royal development project site in Fang District, 160 km north of Chiangmai and 2 km from the border. Across the border is Pa Khee, the scene of fierce fighting between Shans and the Burma Army from 22 April to 3 May and later, 3-10 May, between the Thai Army and the Burma Army-backed Wa.

    He said, "It was the Burmese idea of celebrating the Shan Resistance Day that falls the day before. Doi Angkhang was chosen because that was where the fledgling Shan force of Noom Serk Harn formed by Sao Noi in 1958 established his first base, said the Burmese".

    The Shan State Army had marked the event on the previous day by inviting Nga Caravan, the celebrated Thai singer, thereby causing a sensation in the country. The SSA also irked many of its supporters by renaming it the Shan State Army Day.

    They argued that while it was true the Shan resistance army was born on that day, all had agreed to call it the Day of Resistance. "At least they could have consulted all those concerned before changing the name", one said. "What happens, I'm afraid doesn't bode well for the Shan State's democratic process".

    Another disappointed supporter also said, "The right course always moves from a narrow base to a broad base. What we are doing is just the reverse".
    Authorities order return of rubber office seals from village councils

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jun 1, 2001

    Text of Shan Herald Agency for News report dated 31 May, carried in English by Burmese opposition electronic newspaper BurmaNet News on 1 June

    The local military authorities in the north had, on 24 May, issued a directive ordering all village and tract level councils to return their rubber seals raising questions whether Rangoon is going to adopt another new title for itself, reported SHAN [Shan Herald Agency for News] source from the Chinese border.

    The deadline for the Muse district has been given as 31 May. Prior to the order, 22 retired armed servicemen in the Northeast Regional Command with headquarters in Lashio had been sent to Rangoon for a refresher training in administration, intelligence and combat. "These two events maybe somehow connected", he guessed.

    According to the present Burmese administrative system, there are quarter peace and development councils within the town limits and tract peace and development councils and village peace and development councils outside the town limits.
    U.S. Adds Khun Sa and Wei Hsueh Kang to World Drug Kingpin Suspect List

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States added 12 suspected international drug kingpins, including seven from Mexico, to a blacklist aimed at blocking them from laundering profits.

    The names were added to 12 posted last year by the U.S. government under a law that punishes individuals and enterprises that do business with the alleged traffickers.

    The Mexicans added to the list included Joaquin Guzman, alias ``El Chapo,'' the alleged head of the Sinaloa cartel who escaped from a maximum security jail this year, and Miguel Caro Quintero of the Colima cartel whose jailed brother Rafael was already listed.Also named were Oscar Malherbe de Leon and Alcides Ramon Magana, reputed lords of the Gulf cartel; Jose Alvarez Tostado; Ismael Higuera Guerrero, and Osiel Cardenas Guilln, an associate of Tijuana cartel bosses Benjamin and Ramon Arellano Felix.

    The jailed brothers Jose de Jesus and Luis Ignacio Amezcua, the former ``kings of methamphetamines'' and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, brother of Amado, the late``Lord of the Skies'' and most powerful head of the Juarez cartel, were blacklisted last year.The new set of suspected kingpins includes Sher Afghan, Nasir Ali Khan, Chang Ping Yun, Jamil Hamieh and Joseph Gilboa.

    Burmese warlord Chang Chi-fu, also known as Khun Sa, who surrendered to Myanmar's military government in 1996 and has since lived free in the capital Yangon,was already listed. He was accused of being the main narcotics producer in the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos and Thailand meet.

    Also named was warlord Wei Hsueh Kang, a leader of the United Wa State Army, a rebel Myanmar group believed by narcotics experts to have stepped into Khun Sa's shoes in the Golden Triangle.

    The other people on the list issued a year ago were Noel Timothy Keith and Glenroy Vincent Matthews, both of St. Kitts-Nevis, and a Nigerian husband-and-wife team, Oluwole A. and Abeni O. Ogungbuyi.

    The 1999 Kingpin Act, enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department, targets foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations in an effort to deny them access to theU.S. financial system and all trade and transactions with American companies.Those breaking the law can face jail sentences of up to 30 years and fines of up to $10 million.
    Chinese agency reports arrest of "key drug tycoon" in Golden Triangle

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jun 1, 2001

    Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

    Kunming, 1 June: Tan Xiaolin, a key drug tycoon in the Gold Triangle Area, has been arrested through collaboration efforts between Chinese and Myanmar [Burma] police, Chinese police said here Friday [1 June].

    Tan is a key figure among the new generation of drug tycoons in the border area between China and Myanmar that emerged in the 1990s, the police said. Tan's group is the largest drug smuggling racket cracked by Chinese police over the last five decades, according to Sun Dahong, deputy head of the Yunnan provincial Bureau of Public Security.

    According to the police, Tan was born in southwest China's Sichuan Province in 1962. He went to Myanmar in 1993.Since 1995, Tan's group has grown into one of the largest armed drug smuggling groups in the Gold Triangle Area, operating a massive underground network of drug trafficking and money laundering.

    Chinese police has been following Tan for several years and have collected a large amount of evidence against him in their investigations.

    Based on intelligence provided by Chinese police, Myanmar police finally tracked down Tan on 20 April and transferred him to the Chinese side through a bilateral agreement.

    Before that, the Chinese police had launched a round-up of Tan' s followers in China, arresting 18 members and delivering knock-out blow to the group, the police official said. Since 2000, Chinese police have arrested 39 members of Tan's group, confiscating three tons of heroin, 28 motor vehicles, a large batch of telecommunications equipment and a large amount of drug money, Sun said.