Daily News-November 14 - 2001- Wednesday

  • Businesses approved by dismissed generals express concerns
  • Cabinet clean-up and creative writing
  • Political Prisoner Committee Formed
  • Canadian journalists present international press-freedom awards
  • 200 Manipur insurgents held in Myanmar
  • Japan official says foreign aid cut will not affect Burma

  • Businesses approved by dismissed generals express concerns

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Nov 13, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 12 November

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that businessmen who have business dealings with the military leaders and those who are engaging in businesses with approval from the top military echelon are worried about the stability of their business ventures. Some businessmen engaging in businesses approved by the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited [UMEHL], headed by Lt-Gen Win Myint [dismissed former Secretary-3 of the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC], were told to halt their business activities for the moment. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung recording] Some entrepreneurs engaging in fisheries and export-import business with approval from SPDC Secretary-3 Lt-Gen Win Myint-led UMEHL were told to halt their operations. A businessman from Kawthaung told DVB that those who received UMEHL approval because of personal acquaintances with Lt-Gen Win Myint are extremely worried about the stability and validity of their business ventures.

    Similarly, the dismissal of Lt-Gen Tin Hla, who headed the military-owned Myanmar Economic Corporation [MEC], has also caused great anxiety among business people that are doing business with MEC approval.

    At the same time, companies that have invested in the country with the approval of SPDC's Myanmar Investment Commission [MIC] chaired by Vice-Adm Maung Maung Khin are worried the removal of Vice-Adm Maung Maung Khin could cause some changes and amendments in the MIC-approved businesses.

    When Lt-Gen Tun Kyi [former trade minister] was dismissed, 12 businessmen from Kawthaung who had close links with him were summoned to Rangoon for questioning. Businessmen from Kawthaung, who are friendly with some dismissed generals, are also anticipating when they will be called to Rangoon for questioning.
    Cabinet clean-up and creative writing


    There's been a lot of speculation about what brought on the weekend's sweep Myanmar's State Police and Development Council, described as one of the most sweeping sweeps of the old junta in recent years. Damn that Hudson -- that should be State Peace and Development Council.

    In the event, five cabinet thugs were swept aside on the weekend, this following two sackings Friday. The departures included two deputy prime ministers -- Vice-Admiral Maung Maung Khin, who still looks very smart in full naval dress at 72, and 70-year-old Lieutenant-General Tin Tun, a man of uneven sartorial reputation. Burma's effective dictator in chief, the always smartly turned out Secretary 1 Khin Nyunt, gave everyone his final salute.

    Included in the cabinet clean-up was Culture Minister Win Sein, who leaves unfinished business behind. Indeed, it might have been this very business that finished him off -- for a writing competition featuring novel, short story and article submissions had been announced at the weekend to coincide with the next Armed Forces Day.

    The competition sets contestants on the difficult task of exploring the "12 fine traditions of the Tatmadaw", which is not Burmese for "filthy slug" as is often thought, but translates roughly as armed forces. "The novel should be written within 50,000 and 70,000 words and short story 4,000 and 10,000," notes the New Light of Myanmarwith great care. Novel and short story writers aren't pinned down to a working title, but contestants in the article category must write under the heading, "Our Three Main National Causes." (Now they'll be no carry on about democracy, Hudson, just in case you have a mind to slip them something.) Entries must be sent to U Ko Ko Htwe, Secretary of the Armed Forces Day Literary and Photo Competitions Organizing Work Committee, Myanmar Radio and Television, Pyay Road, Yangon. Novelists certainly have no time to lose -- the deadline is January 31.
    Political Prisoner Committee Formed

    By Chan Mya Aye
    The Irrawaddy

    November 13, 2001-- Burmese democratic forces based along the Thai-Burma border established a new committee yesterday to increase public-awareness regarding Burma's 2,000 plus political prisoners and to ultimately secure their release.

    The 'Free Political Prisoners Campaign Committee (Burma)' (FPPCC) will be based in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot.

    "In accordance with the current needs of the political situation (in Burma), we feel it is necessary to launch a campaign that calls for the release of all political prisoners," said Bo Kyi, a spokesperson of the FPPCC. "The National League for Democracy (NLD) inside Burma has already been calling for this and we felt it was time to collaborate as a group from the outside," he added.

    The FPPCC is composed of representatives from eleven different pro-democracy organizations working in exile. Some organizations with representation are the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS) and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP).

    "In the past, many organizations have worked on this issue within their own groups, but we think that we can accomplish far more by consolidating our efforts," said Bo Kyi.

    The FPPCC will launch several campaigns to bolster support for their cause including a postcard campaign to government officials' abroad. They also plan on distributing informative pamphlets in front of Burmese embassies where they will also be asking individuals to sign a petition calling for the prisoners' unconditional release.

    There are sixty-eight documented accounts of political prisoners dying in Burmese prisons since 1988, however, the true number is thought to be much higher.

    Since secret talks between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and military officials began last year, 182 political prisoners have been released. Most of those released had already completed their sentences.
    Canadian journalists present international press-freedom awards

    Freedom Forum Online - 11.12.01

    Two journalists one a political prisoner, the other living in exile won the fourth annual International Press Freedom Awards of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

    The journalists honored are Dodojon Atovulloev, 46, publisher of Charogi Ruz, a newspaper critical of Tajikistan's leadership, and Myo Myint Nyein, 49, of Burma, a contributor to the satirical news magazine What's Happening to Us? Atovulloev lives in Germany and Nyein is in prison in Burma.

    "It's been said that destroying a man doesn't mean he ceases to exist," Canadian Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson told 500 journalists at the award presentation in Toronto on Nov. 8. "But I think that silencing somebody doesn't mean that they cease to be heard, either."

    Clarkson has had a distinguished career in Canadian broadcasting, journalism, the arts and public service, including serving as a television host, writer and producer. The CJFE awards recognize journalists who demonstrate a commitment to freedom of expression and who overcome enormous odds to produce the news.

    Atovulloev has devoted his life to freedom of expression, working to democratize Tajikistani society with his Charogi Ruz (Day Light),according to CJFE, which noted that the newspaper began as an outspoken journal published in Russian, Tajik and Uzbek and soon was attacked by supporters of Tajikistani President Imomali Rakhmovov. Atovulloev moved Charogi Ruz to Moscow, where he continued to publish, distributing 20,000 copies a month throughout Central Asia. In May of this year, threats to his life forced Atovulloev and his family to flee from Russia for Germany, where they currently live in exile. Charogi Ruz continues to be published, in print and on the Internet.

    Nyein has been locked up in a Burmese prison since 1990 when he was sentenced to seven years for "organizing youths and students to create instability" in the pages of What's Happening to Us? On March 28, 1996, he was sentenced to another seven years for his involvement with another group of journalists in a press-freedom movement.

    Nyein's daughter, Dali, who hasn't seen her father since 1997, hopes the award will resonate across the international community and cast light on his plight. "I am profoundly happy for my father," she told the Toronto Star. "This is a special event for him."

    Last July, Atovulloev was arrested in Russia. The Tajikistan government wanted him extradited to face a certain death, the Toronto Star reported, but an international outcry returned him to Germany. "Still, he presses on spilling ideas of freedom and democracy into his native land, where a silent battle is waged daily," the Star noted. On one side, he says, there is murder, money, thugs and drugs, the newspaper said. "And on the other side, there is an independent,honest, truthful word."
    200 Manipur insurgents held in Myanmar

    The Times of India

    IMPHAL: At least 200 United National Liberation Front (UNLF) insurgents, including some top ones, were arrested in Myanmar by its army during raids on underground camps close to the Manipur border recently, a defence release said here on Tuesday.

    About 1,400 weapons, Rs 1 crore cash and a huge quantity of gold and were seized from the camps during the raids conducted between November 2 and November 8, it said.

    Among those arrested were 'vice chief', 'secretary general' and 'defence secretary', of the UNLF, secretary of the central bureau and general secretary of the eastern bureau of Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) and chairman of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), the release said. The seized weapons included 72 mortars, 386 AK 47 rifles, and 10 ammunition boxes.

    The release said the special drive by the Myanmar army was still continuing along the Indo-Myanmar border. The army personnel were keeping a strict vigil on the border to detect movement of other underground members, the release said.

    UNLF and RPF are active in Manipur under the banner of Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF) which also includes People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak). The KCP operates separately. ( PTI )
    Japan official says foreign aid cut will not affect Burma

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Nov 13, 2001
    Text of report in English by Myo Lwin; published by Burmese newspaper The Myanmar Times web site on 5 November

    Myanmar [Burma] is unlikely to be greatly affected by the Tokyo government's decision to cut overseas development aid by 10 per cent for the fiscal year beginning next April, a Japanese diplomat said last week.

    "A 10 per cent decrease in Japan's total Official Development Assistance of 10bn US dollars will not have much impact on Myanmar," said Mr Masamichi Hashimoto, a second secretary at the Japanese embassy in Yangon [Rangoon].

    In the 2000 fiscal year ending last 31 March, Myanmar received 32.08m dollars in ODA from Japan. Just over half, 15.32m dollars, was for debt relief, while 3.92m dollars went to the popular grassroots grant aid scheme.

    Despite the cut in ODA, Tokyo has decided to increase funding for the grassroots scheme by 10m dollars to 80m dollars next fiscal year. Mr Hashimoto indicated that the decision would benefit Myanmar. "The grassroots assistance scheme is very effective as it benefits a lot of people and we would like to expand it," he told Myanmar Times last week.

    Japan has been providing aid to Myanmar under the grassroots scheme since 1993, mainly for projects involving education and water supply. Any non-profit group, including international and Myanmar non-government organizations, hospitals, primary schools and research institutions, may seek funding under the scheme. To be eligible for funding, projects must be geared towards meeting grassroots needs and be intended to have a positive impact on the community.

    Figures provided by the embassy show that 71 projects received funding in fiscal 2000, up from 47 the previous year. Mr Hashimoto said applications for grassroots aid had jumped by 50 per cent during the past year. The number of projects receiving funding during the current year would be an increase on 2000. So far this fiscal year 35 projects had been approved, he said.