Daily News-November 29 - 2001- Thursday

  • 52 Indian MPs support Declaration on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi
  • U.N. envoy meets with opposition
  • Government acts fast to quash rumours
  • Burma claims rebels use Thailand as base
  • U.N. envoy meets Suu Kyi during mission to end deadlock
  • NLD urges release of more prisoners

  • 52 Indian MPs support Declaration on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    New Delhi, Nov. 28: 52 Members of Parliament of India have, as of November 28, signed the 'MP Declaration on Burma' and thus expressed their solidarity with Burma’s democratic leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. This has been confirmed by the All Burma Students League which is currently launching a signature campaign among the Members of Parliament in Delhi.

    The Indian Members of Parliament who have already signed belong to various political parties (both ruling and opposition) and are joining the thousands of fellow Members of Parliament worldwide in signing a 'MP Declaration on Burma' which calls upon the Burmese military junta to release all elected parliamentarians and political prisoners in Burma.

    The signature campaign is jointly launched by the India-based All Burma Students League and Norway-based PD Burma and Worldview Rights organizations to mobilize Members of Parliament throughout the world in support of 1991 Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who remains under house arrest in Rangoon.

    Aung San Suu Kyi leads the National League for Democracy (NLD) that won a landslide victory in the 1990 general elections but was not handed over power by the ruling generals in Burma. She is the only Nobel Peace Laureate currently under detention for her commitment to human rights and democracy.

    The 'MP Declaration on Burma', which has been endorsed by more than 2,400 Members of Parliament from 89 countries, also calls upon the Burmese military government to recognize the right of the duly elected representatives to convene a parliament and to join the National League for Democracy and the representatives of ethnic nationalities in a dialogue to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy in Burma.

    Further to the campaign, the All Burma Students League and the Women’s League of Burma are organizing a special function on 8th December (the 10th Anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's reception of the Nobel Peace Prize) at the India International Center in New Delhi to salute and demonstrate solidarity and support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for democracy in Burma.

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    U.N. envoy meets with opposition

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ U.N. envoy Razali Ismail held talks Wednesday with top aides of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and said he is still optimistic about ending a political deadlock pitting the opposition against Myanmar's military regime.

    Razali went to Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party headquarters for talks with party leaders that lasted an hour. "We had a good discussion. It helps me in my work," Razali told reporters outside. He declined to elaborate. NLD secretary and spokesman U Lwin also sounded optimistic. "We had a very useful discussion and the results of the discussions are very encouraging," he told reporters.

    Razali met later Wednesday with the ruling junta's number-three ranking member, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt. No details of their talk were available. Razali arrived here Tuesday on his sixth visit to broker an end to the deadlock, resulting from the military junta's refusal to allow an elected government to take power.

    Asked if he was more optimistic about his visit this time, Razali said: "I continue to be optimistic about the eventual outcome."

    Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962. The current group of generals came to power in 1988 after leading a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations. The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results when the NLD won an overwhelming victory. Instead hundreds of NLD activists were jailed and Suu Kyi has been under house detention for the last one year.

    Razali, a former Malaysian diplomat, facilitated face to face talks between the junta and Suu Kyi, which started in October 2000. The contents of the talks have been kept secret and no breakthrough has been reported.

    U Lwin, the NLD spokesman, said the slow speed of the talks should be accepted with patience. "We have already waited one year," he said, adding that he was hopeful there would be some positive outcome in the future. He did not elaborate.

    On Tuesday, Razali met with Foreign Minister Win Aung and leaders of four ethnic political parties for talks during which he said his latest visit is aimed at speeding up the reconciliation talks.

    Asked if he had told the ethnic leaders there could be some tangible results by next year, Razali said: "We never discuss the roadmap or any date." Razali is due to the top leaders of the junta and Suu Kyi during his weeklong visit.

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    Government acts fast to quash rumours

    By Thet Khaing
    The Myanmar Times-November 26 - December 2, 2001 Volume 5, No.91

    PROMPT intervention by the government has quashed rumours about the two highest denomination currency notes which led to a brief outbreak of panic buying in Yangon. "The government has no plan to withdraw the K500 and K1000 currency notes now and no currency notes will be withdrawn at any time during its tenure," Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, the deputy chief of Defence Services Intelligence, told a media briefing on November 17. Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said the panic buying triggered by the rumour had not been widespread. This was confirmed by business sources in Yangon, who said it had been confined to the downtown area on November 16 and involved only a few people who had gone on a shopping spree.

    However, Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said the rumour had resulted in a few cases in up-country towns where shop-keepers had refused to accept K500 and K1000 notes. He said the rumour had begun after counterfeit notes were used in an unspecified border area. Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said reports that equipment used to make counterfeit notes had been found along the border with India were not true.

    A commodities merchant at the Bayintnaung wholesale market said the rumour had resulted in the prices of some goods in downtown Yangon rising by at least 10 per cent on November 16. But business had been normal elsewhere in Yangon including at the Bayintnaung market, which is about 12 kilometres from the downtown area, the merchant said.

    Private banks in Yangon and Mandalay said the rumour had no effect on their operations. An official with a large private bank, who requested anonymity, told Myanmar Times there had been no problem depositing or withdrawing K500 and K1000 notes early last week.

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    Burma claims rebels use Thailand as base

    The Bangkokpost
    Supamart Kasem

    Burma has asked Thailand to hand over leaders of the Karen National Union and other rebel groups they say are living in Thailand and using the country as a base for cross-border attacks.

    A senior Burmese officer yesterday said a string of recent KNU attacks in Burma launched from bases in Tak province could jeopardise improvements in Thai-Burmese relations.

    Burma called on Thailand to act against the rebels at the 17th Thai-Burmese Township Border Committee meeting in Mae Sot district yesterday. The meeting was co-chaired by Col Saksin Klansanoh and Lt-Col Tin Aye.Lt-Col Tin Aye said KNU leaders and soldiers and the leaders of other rebel groups were living in Thailand and using Thai soil to launch attacks in Burma.

    He named KNU president Pado U Ba Thin Sein and military leaders Gen Bo Mya and Col Saw Soe as among those who had made Thailand their home. Lt-Col Tin Aye said the rebels travelled freely across the border.

    He said that during the past three months, the KNU had launched 11 attacks in Burma from bases in the Tak districts of Tha Song Yang, Mae Ramat, Mae Sot and Phop Phra.Lt-Col Tin Aye said the incidents could jeopardise improvements in Thai-Burmese relations.

    Col Saksin stressed it was Thai policy not to allow foreign forces to use its soil to attack neighbouring countries. He said Thai authorities, in co-ordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, had tried to control the movements of refugees across the border.

    At yesterday's meeting, the Burmese delegation said authorities in Myawaddy had recently seized a total of 6.8 million methamphetamine pills in two incidents.

    Lt-Col Tin Aye also asked Thai authorities what had been done on finding and sending back eight Burmese soldiers who fled with five rifles from the 538th Infantry Battalion and the 28th Light Infantry Regiment while in Kanchanaburi. The Thai delegation promised to look into the matter.The two sides agreed to hold a committee meeting at least once a month and to hold more sporting, religious and cultural activities.

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    U.N. envoy meets Suu Kyi during mission to end deadlock

    YANGON, Myanmar, Nov. 29 - A U.N. special envoy met with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday in his latest attempt to speed up reconciliation talks between Myanmar's ruling military regime and pro-democracy forces.

    Reporters saw three cars entering Suu Kyi's lakeside house carrying the envoy, Razali Ismail, a former Malaysian diplomat. Razali was accompanied by Patrice Coeur Bizot, resident representative of the U.N. Development Program, and Leon de Riedmatten, a representative of Center for Humanitarian dialogue.The talks lasted two hours and included a working lunch, sources said on condition of anonymity. Details were not immediately known.

    Razali, who arrived in Yangon on Tuesday, is on his sixth visit here since he stepped in last year to help broker an end to the country's political deadlock over power and democracy.

    On Wednesday, he met with Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the No. 3 leader in the ruling junta, Foreign Minister Win Aung, and senior leaders of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party.

    The military regime began holding closed-door talks with Suu Kyi in October 2000, apparently after facilitation by Razali. The confidence-building talks have been kept secret by both sides and have shown no sign of a major breakthrough. However, diplomats say six visits in 18 months by a U.N. special envoy is significant. They say Razali wouldn't be making such frequent visits unless he was optimistic of resolving the deadlock.

    Since January, when the existence of the talks were disclosed by Razali, the government has freed 190 political prisoners, mostly NLD members. On Wednesday, Razali told reporters he continued to be optimistic about ''the eventual outcome.''

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    NLD urges release of more prisoners


    YANGON, Nov. 29 - Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition said on Thursday year-old reconciliation talks with the ruling military were still at the ''confidence-building stage'' because of the number of political prisoners still behind bars.

    National League for Democracy (NLD) secretary U Lwin made the comment after a two-hour meeting between party leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- held under de facto house arrest by the military for more than a year -- and a special United Nations envoy mediating the talks.

    ''We must have patience,'' U Lwin told reporters in answer to questions about progress in the secretive talks, which began in October last year. ''The talks are still at the confidence-building stage because there are many prisoners still waiting to be released,'' he said.According to Amnesty International, more than 1,500 political prisoners are still in Myanmar's jails.

    ''Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who led the NLD to victory in parliamentary elections in 1990, and U.N. special envoy Ismail Razali were tight-lipped after their meeting. Razali on Wednesday said he remained ''optimistic'' the talks were progressing after meeting with the ruling State Peace and Development Council's powerful Secretary 1 and military intelligence chief, Khin Nyunt. Razali arrived in Yangon on Tuesday amid signs of growing frustration among opposition and ethnic minority groups with the talks.

    Critics say the military has shown no sign of loosening its grip on power, which it has held in different guises since a coup in 1962. Although restrictions remain on Suu Kyi's movements, the military says it has made several concessions to the opposition since talks began, including the release of about 200 imprisoned opposition politicians and the reopening of many NLD offices.

    ''Leaders of Myanmar's main ethnic minorities said on Wednesday that Razali had told them he was aware the reconciliation talks needed more urgency. Ethnic minority leaders said they had also asked Razali to put pressure on the military government to release more political prisoners and allow political parties to function more freely.

    ''(With additional reporting by Dan Eaton in Bangkok)

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