Daily News-May 31 - 2001- Thursday

  • Amnesty International names heroes, scoundrels
  • Thaksin plays it cool over Burma
  • Line-of-credit to Burma to be available free on board
  • Burma's " largest wildlife sanctuary,"
  • Thailand PM urged not to rush to Rangoon

  • Amnesty International names heroes, scoundrels

    By Mark Memmott, USA TODAY

    Illinois Gov. George Ryan was a "human rights hero" last year because he declared a moratorium on use of the death penalty in his state, Amnesty International will announce Wednesday.

    The human rights group will also say last year's "human rights scoundrels" included California-based energy giant Unocal and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole.

    Unocal is cited for providing "financial support to the brutal and repressive military government of Myanmar (also known as Burma) through its business operations in that country."

    Unocal spokesman Barry Lane says the company's 28% interest in a $1 billion natural gas project in Myanmar does not mean it endorses that nation's military regime. "Our one regret is there aren't 100 such projects in Burma," he says, because the company believes that if responsible corporations do business in a country, they can help initiate reforms.

    The Texas Board is cited "for operating a flawed capital punishment system" that "violates Texas' own Open Meeting Act." Amnesty charges that many of the board's decisions are made in secret. Board members could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

    Amnesty International, a 40-year-old organization that works to free "prisoners of conscience" around the world, has long opposed the death penalty. Ryan's moratorium was issued after 13 death row inmates in the state were freed because of new evidence in their cases.

    The naming of "heroes" and "scoundrels" will come in conjunction with the release of Amnesty's annual report on human rights conditions around the world. Other Amnesty "scoundrels:"

    Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, for heading a Communist Party that "maintains power through the widespread use of torture."

    ē Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, for allowing paramilitary troops to kill opponents and assault human rights activists.

    The multinational Stabilization Force for Bosnia-Herzegovina, for "failing to actively search for and arrest" indicted war criminals.

    Other Amnesty "heroes:"

    Akin Birdal, former president of the Turkish Human Rights Association, who has defended the right of free speech in his country.

    Mehrangiz Kar, a human rights advocate in Iran who has "fought to gain recognition of women's and children's rights."

    Tsitsi Tripano, now deceased, who led the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe organization.
    Thaksin plays it cool over Burma

    source : The Nation

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday dismissed his deputy's claim that his trip to Burma to mend deteriorating relations had been scheduled for next month. The trip was being prepared, but no date had been set, said Thaksin.

    "The Burmese government wants to talk to me," he added. "If we have time to talk, we should stop [the tensions]. But I can't give the exact date at the moment. We have to go through the protocol and diplomatic procedure."

    On Tuesday, to the surprise of the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said that Thaksin would visit Burma next month. He said the trip would help reduce the rising border tension between Thailand and Burma.

    Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee conceded that the problems between Thailand and Burma are too complicated to be resolved soon and that the best solution lies in promoting democracy in the latter.

    Speaking after a meeting of Foreign Ministry and Senate officials, Kraisak Choonhavan said he expected that a summit negotiation between leaders of the two nations would reduce the tension. But he said Thaksin should visit Rangoon after a visit to Bangkok by Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung scheduled for the third week of June. Kraisak said that two Thai leaders, Foreign Minister Sura-kiart Sathirathai and PM's Office Minister Thammarak Issarangu-ra, had already visited Burma, but to no lasting effect.

    He said issues concerning the neighbouring countries were discussed at length during the meeting. Among them were narcotics, double taxation and high transportation costs for exported goods. He presented a study by a special working group to the foreign minister about the situation in the Kokang area of Burma, an area he described as a semi-autonomous state over which Burmese authorities have little control.

    Mong Yawn, he noted, is a satellite town whose centre at Pangh-sang is crowded with modern facilities and casinos.Moreover, he urged a serious review of non-interference policy, saying Thailand should start talking tough with the Burmese and pursue "a long term policy that promotes people-to-people relations aimed at promoting democracy."
    Line-of-credit to Burma to be available free on board

    Financial Express, May 29, 2001

    Kolkata, May 29: THE Reserve Bank of India has notified that the $15-million line-of-credit to be extended to Myanmar under the Indo-Myanmar credit agreement, will be available on a free-on-board (FoB) basis. It will cover 100 per cent value of the eligible goods to be exported from India.

    According to a circular issued by RBIís exchange control department, the Letters of Credit should clearly specify that 100 per cent of the value of goods is financed from credit. In the circular, the apex bank authorities have also clarified that the Myanmar government and the State Bank of India, New Delhi, should be informed in respect of each approved contract by the Union finance ministry.

    According to RBI, all disbursements under the line of credit should be made under Letters of Credit opened by banks in Myanmar only. All Letters of Credit shall be advised by the banks in Myanmar to SBI, New Delhi, for onward transmission to the exporters either directly through SBI or through any other bank, as specified by the exporter.It is learnt that the Letter of Credit is negotiable after SBI issues an advice that is operative.RBI has also stipulated that ordinarily no agency commission shall be payable in respect of exports financed under the Line of Credit. However, the apex bank authorities may consider on merit, requests for payment of commission up to a maximum of five per cent of the free on board value in respect of goods which require after sales service.

    In such cases, commission will have to be paid in Myanmar by deduction from the invoice value of the relevant shipment and the reimbursable amount will be 100 per cent of the free on board value minus the commission paid and the approval for should be obtained before the relevant shipment is effected.
    Burma's " largest wildlife sanctuary,"

    Defense Week- May 29, 2001
    Reporters' Notebook

    WWII Landmark A Sanctuary: A remote valley surrounding a once vital allied supply route during World War II in Myanmar, formerly called Burma, is now the nation's largest wildlife sanctuary, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a recent statement.

    Where once American volunteer pilots, called the "Flying Tigers," flew high over the remote land battling the Japanese, now there's a 2,500-square-mile wildlife sanctuary protecting rare Indochinese tigers and rare leaf deer and other wildlife seldom seen.

    The sanctuary was officially created in April by the Myanmar government with the help of the conservation group. The sanctuary surrounds part of the old Ledo Road which connected India to the more familiar Burma Road in northwest Myanmar. The road, completed in 1944 at an estimated human toll of "a man a mile" was later renamed the Stillwell Road to honor American Gen. "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell, because it was his idea, the conservation group said. The road provided vital communications and supplies for the allies.

    Over the past half-century the Stillwell Road fell into disrepair and the entire valley is now largely uninhabited.
    Thailand PM urged not to rush to Rangoon

    Source : Bangkok Post

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should not be rushed into making his official visit to Burma as Rangoon has not demonstrated it wants to strengthen bilateral ties with Thailand, said Kraisak Choonhavan, the senate foreign affairs committee chairman.

    His comment came after Mr Thaksin yesterday said he would hasten his trip there in the hope it would strengthen ties and resolve mistrust and misunderstanding between the two countries.

    Mr Kraisak expressed surprise over the premier's abrupt decision. He said: "I agree with the idea that our premier should make the trip but I am doubtful whether it is the proper time to make such a trip now.

    " The government should not rush this, we have to wait and see for any positive development from the Burmese side."

    Mr Thaksin said he was very concerned about an escalation of border tension.

    "If we have a chance to discuss the issue then we should do it to tackle the problem once and for all, since the government still has other things to do," he said.

    Mr Kraisak, a senator from Nakhon Ratchasima, also doubted Burma's sincerity.

    Recalling a recent trip to Rangoon by Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Mr Kraisak said he found it unusual the trip coincided with a heavy border clash at Hua Lone hill in Chiang Rai's Fang district, where Burma-backed Red Wa soldiers seized the hill on May 7.

    He urged the premier not to rely solely on information provided by Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and said Mr Thaksin should find information from other sources to ensure objectivity.

    "I'm worried that this trip might be a failure. We have yielded a lot to Burma and have not got anything in return.

    "We should wait at least until the Burmese foreign minister returns us a visit before the premier makes his journey," he said.