Daily News-October 10 - 2001- wednesday

  • Japanese foreign minister welcomes release of political prisoners
  • India steps up vigilance along Indo-Burma border
  • A date at the Acorn with James Mawdsley
  • Thousands of evicted Shan to ask Thaksin for refugee status
  • Burma Tries To Curves Flow
  • NSC Meeting Held in Mae Sot
  • Burmese Language Training Continues
  • Myanmar-Japan e-Learning Center Set Up in Yangon
  • Walkbridge backed for casino trade
  • Myanmar Airways to Extend Domestic Flights
  • Japan Coast guard arrests 12 Myanmars for allegedly trying smuggle selves

  • Japanese foreign minister welcomes release of political prisoners

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Oct 9, 2001
    Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo

    Tokyo, 10 October: Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Tuesday [9 October] she welcomes the release the same day of five more political prisoners by Myanmar's [Burma's] military junta. "The Myanmar government has been working positively on the release of political prisoners, including those elected to parliament in 1990, and I welcome the fact that the number of those freed have reached a considerable figure," Tanaka said in a statement.

    Tuesday's release brings to 174 the number of political prisoners affiliated with the National League for Democracy (NLD) who have been freed since January. Tanaka said Japan will "fully support" the process of dialogue and trust-building between the junta and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi which is expected to lead to political stability and eventual democratization in Myanmar.
    India steps up vigilance along Indo-Burma border

    By Our Special Correspondent
    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    Guwahati, Oct. 9: Personnel of the Army, the Border Security Force (BSF), and the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) engaged in guarding the Indo-Burma border have intensified patrolling aftermath of the US-led attack on Afghanistan. Five more companies of the CRPF have been deployed as reinforcement along the Arunachal-Burma border. High-level officials sources, not wanting to be named told Mizzima News correspondent that the Indo-Burma border has remained sensitive in view of spurt of activity of local militant groups.

    "The Mon, Naklak and Laju areas of Nagaland (bordering Burma) have been kept under strict surveillance so that underground outfits cannot sneak into the area, taking advantage of the terrain", sources said . It was also reported that security forces have been provided heavy arsenal to thwart any possible attack of the miscreants.

    Apart from Nagaland, we are keeping a close watch on the Manipur Burma border where several militant groups are now active”, the correspondent was told. A total of 15 BSF companies have been engaged in counter-insurgency operations along the Manipur-Burma border. BSF companies engaged in Counter-insurgency operations along the Indo-Bhutan border were deployed in Manipur following violence perpetrated by the militants.

    There are seven Muslim militant groups led by Muslim United Liberation of Tigers Association (MULTA) in the region. Sources revealed that Muslim fundamentalists might try to create disturbance in the region in collaboration with other militants groups in the region .

    Meanwhile , the Director General of the BSF, Gurbachand Jagat, visited the Indo-Burma (Myanmar) border on Sunday of last week in order to assess the situation in Manipur. During his visit to Khonghampat and Churachandpur in Manipur, Mr Jagat admitted that the issue of insurgent militancy in the North East is more complex than the situation found in Kashmir. He added that local people had failed to detect the movement of militants, further complicating the counter-insurgency operation. The DG also advocated the deployment of more BSF personnel along the Indo-Burma border, keeping in view the increased volume of activities of the militants who are taking advantage of neighbouring countries' support.

    Security has also been tightened along the Indo-Bangladesh border following the attack of the US-led coalition on Afghanistan. The DIG (Director Inspector General) western range, SC Srivastab, stated that a one hundred kilometer stretch of the border, from Mancachar to Ramrai Kutti, has been kept under strict surveillance in order to prevent Muslim fundamentalists from coming across the border. Mr Srivastab added that the Indo-Bangladesh border is well under control, and BSF personnel are ready to face any eventuality.
    A date at the Acorn with James Mawdsley

    Source: Western Morning News, September 27, 2001, Page 31

    JAMES Mawdsley - the young human rights campaigner from Lancashire who spent 14 months in a Burmese jail - is coming to Penzance to talk about his experiences.James studied philosophy and physics at Bristol University before spending 18 months travelling round the world.

    In 1997 he made the first of several trips to Burma/Myanmar where he witnessed the regime's genocidal campaigns against ethnic groups in the country's border areas.He was detained on three occasions for protesting against these massacres and was eventually sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.

    However, he made the headlines on October 2000 when, at the age of 27, was released 14 months into the sentence. During his time in jail he was kept in solitary confinement, tortured and beaten.

    James has been invited to Penzance by the local Amnesty International Group and his visit coincides with the release of his book detailing what he saw and experienced whilst in Burma.

    The Penzance and Kerrier Amnesty International Group is currently working to release another prisoner of conscience -Thet Win Aung - who is serving a 59 year jail sentence for distributing anti-government literature in Burma.

    Despite tales like this, James remains convinced that democracy will come to Burma when the outside world makes the commitment to supporting the struggle of the Burmese people. Amnesty expects a lively question and answer session after the talk, which will be held at The Acorn Theatre on, from 8pm on October 2.
    Thousands of evicted Shan to ask Thaksin for refugee status

    Subin Khuenkaew
    The Bangkokpost

    Monk says they are trapped along border

    More than 300,000 Shan who claimed to have been evicted from Burma and fled into Thailand between 1996-1998 are seeking refugee status.A source said representatives of Shan people seeking refuge in Thailand's border areas would submit a letter to the prime minister requesting refugee status.

    The National Security Council has yet to decide whether to recognise the group as refugees, though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has agreed to welcome the Shan to refugee camps, the source said.

    Phra Khru Inta Inthawaro, abbot of Wat Pa Pao in Chiang Mai who has long helped Shan immigrants, said more than 300,000 Shan people were living harsh lives along the border because they could not return to Burma and were considered illegal These people needed permission from the government to seek refuge in Thailand and would be willing to go home when the situation returned to normal, the monk said.

    ``It was tragic that they had to flee into the country after being suppressed by armed troops who claimed to be Burmese soldiers and came to seize their assets, houses and farmland.``Many who resisted were killed and several hundred others died while escaping. In most cases, the soldiers set fire to their homes and evicted them from the villages,'' he said.

    Phra Khru Inta said many of the Shan immigrants were living in border areas and working as labourers.About 10,000 others were stranded along the border opposite Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son since they were not allowed to enter Thailand.

    Jai Nuan, a Shan, said many Shan immigrants, who earned their living as workers in fruit orchards in border areas of Fang district, risked arrest since their employers did not register them as foreign labour.``We do not want to violate Thai law but it can't be helped. Hundreds of women have become prostitutes and hundreds of teenagers have to work for drug dealers in border areas. We need help from the Thaksin government and Thais for humanitarian reasons,'' Jai Nuan said.
    Burma Tries To Curves Flow

    By Maung Maung Oo
    The Irrawaddy

    October 9, 2001-Rangoon's latest attempt at curving the flow of illegal migrants heading to Thailand is bad news for thousands of Burmese nationals who rely on Thailand's job market. A new law enacted on October 5 states anyone caught illegally crossing into Thailand from Burma faces a fine or a mandatory prison sentence, according to Irrawaddy sources in Kawthaung, a Burmese border-town opposite Ranong in southern Thailand.

    On October 5, the Tenasserim Division's General Administration Department notified all police stations, immigration departments and township-level authorities of the new law. The number of migrant workers crossing into Thailand has been increasing substantially in recent months as the October 13 deadline for obtaining a legal work permit approaches.

    Burmese analysts see the new law as an attempt by the Burmese government to cooperate with Thai authorities in reducing the flow of illegal immigrants into Thailand, a problem that has plagued Thailand for decades.

    Sentencing under the law is divided into three sections depending on one's age and residence. Anyone under thirty-five years of age living in Kawthaung faces one-and-a-half years in prison or a 15,000-kyat fine and anyone over thirty-five years of age faces two-years in prison or a 20,000-kyat fine. The last section is for all Burmese nationals living outside of Kawthaung, if apprehended they face a three-year prison sentence or a 30,000-kyat fine.

    Also any residents of Kawthaung caught housing individuals who are trying to illegally enter Thailand will be subjected to the same penalties. The law states that Township-level courts must hand down judgements within twenty-four hours of the individual arrest. If the fines can be paid the subjects will reportedly be returned to their homes and have their movements restricted, according to sources familiar with the law.
    NSC Meeting Held in Mae Sot

    By Ko Thet and Chan Mya Aye
    The Irrawaddy

    October 9, 2001--The secretary general of Thailand's National Security Council (NSC) met with regional authorities in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot last week to discuss the status of Burmese migrants and refugees living in the area, according to a source who attended the meeting.

    The meeting, which took place on Oct 4, was held to discuss progress in implementing a recently introduced program that would allow Burmese migrants to work legally in Thailand if they or their employers paid a registration fee. Also on the agenda were the roughly 120,000 refugees from Burma housed in camps along the border.

    "Before starting this program, we expected that at least 500,000 migrant workers would have registered by now. But after ten days, only about 180,000 have applied for work permits," the NSC secretary general, Khajadpai Buruspatana, was quoted as saying. Khajadpai also said that Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) had pledged to assist Thailand in its efforts to control the migrant worker population. "When (SPDC Secretary One) Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt was in Bangkok last month, he agreed to co-operate in resolving the Burmese migrant worker problem, but the details will be worked out later," he said.

    Concerning the large number of refugees currently sheltering on Thai soil, Khajadpai said that Thailand had been taking care of over 100,000 refugees from Burma for fifteen years, but like Cambodian and Laotian refugees before them, they would eventually have to go back home.

    However, Padoh Mahn Sha, the general secretary of the Karen National Union, told The Irrawaddy that Thailand should regard Rangoon as the source of the refugee problem, rather than a potential partner in resolving it. "The main cause of refugees in Thailand is Rangoon's offensives in ethnic regions. The only way to end the refugee crisis is to stop the offensives and resolve the problems by political means."

    In the Mae Sot area alone, there are three camps-Beh Klaw (Mae La), Umphiem and Nopho-housing an estimated 60,000 refugees, according to Padoh Mahn Sha.
    Burmese Language Training Continues

    By Zarny Win
    The Irrawaddy

    October 9, 2001-Thai Prison officials began a four-month Burmese language course this week in the Thai-Burma border-town of Mae Sot in order to communicate with the growing number of Burmese prisoners. There are more than 1,400 prisoners incarcerated in Mae Sot, which is located in Tak province, and roughly half of them are Burmese.

    "According to our government's policy, government employees working in border areas must learn the language of the neighboring countries," said Tanachai Pyayoomsa Wat, a high-ranking prison official in Mae Sot. "If we know their language, we can solve their problems much easier."

    The Burmese prison population has been on the rise in border areas due in part to a renewed police crackdown against Burmese nationals living and working illegally in Thailand. There is estimated to be three million Burmese in Thailand.

    Thai officials from throughout Tak province also recently finished a three-month Burmese language course to better deal with the areas swelling migrant worker population. The language course was the first of its kind and was attended by forty officials from a variety of departments including Immigration, Customs and Transportation.

    Winmit Yosalawin, the Burmese language teacher in charge, said that trainees are not only learning to speak but to also read and write. According to officials taking the course, they are also learning about the Burmese culture so they can better understand Burmese people and in turn have better relations. Tak province is home to thousands of Burmese migrant workers and businessmen as well as a large number of Burmese pro-democracy supporters living in exile.
    Myanmar-Japan e-Learning Center Set Up in Yangon

    YANGON, Oct 9, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A Myanmar-Japan electronic (e)-learning center has been established here to help boost the development of Myanmar's education sector in the wake of world's rapid advance in science and technology, especially in the field of electronics.

    The e-learning center, jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, e-National Task Force of Myanmar and the Myanmar Computer Federation and was inaugurated on Monday, will start with a six-week course to train Myanmar teachers from computer-related universities and schools by Japanese experts, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday.

    Myanmar is implementing a four-year education promotion plan (2000-2004), aimed at achieving highly-qualified human resources development. The project includes the creation of a learning society and implementation of a plan to face the challenge of the knowledge age without losing the national identity. Under the plan, Myanmar started introducing electronic education data broadcasting system in the country in January this year, integrating the system into its education system. So far, a total of 203 e-learning centers have been reportedly opened across the country.

    Meanwhile, Myanmar and Japan have formed a joint information technology (IT) sub-working group, starting work in late 2000. In addition, Myanmar has also initiated relevant measures for cooperation with India for IT development and enhancement. Moreover, the Myanmar private sector has embarked on a plan to establish an IT park, the construction of which is underway by a consortium of some IT companies with the support of the government. Myanmar has set up over 300 IT classrooms from the primary schools right up to the university level.

    In cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Myanmar joined in signing the e-ASEAN Framework Agreement in November 2000, agreeing to fulfill the stipulation for establishing links with other member nations by 2004 and to strive for providing access to the country's 52 million people having a tele-density of 0.53 per 100 people.
    Walkbridge backed for casino trade

    Teerawat Kamtita
    The Bangkokpost

    Thai businessmen are pushing for a walkbridge across the Ruak River linking Burma to Chiang Saen district to benefit a hotel and casino complex, says an MP.Thai Rak Thai MP for Chiang Rai Sarit Ung-apinan said Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of Burma's State Peace and Development Council, had proposed the bridge linking the Golden Triangle to Chiang Saen.

    Thai businessmen affiliated with the Golden Triangle & Paradise Resort Hotel in Burma opposite Ban Sob Ruak had offered to fund the 1-million-baht project.The walkway needed approval from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the National Security Council and other agencies.Mr Sarit said he would sound out local opinion and he was against any project which supported gambling.

    Last month, then-Chiang Rai governor Samrerng Boonyopakorn presented Burmese authorities with a proposal to upgrade Ban Sob Ruak border crossing as a permanent checkpoint.

    On Sunday, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Transport Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha met Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt in Tachilek of Burma. They also inspected the site of the second Mae Sai-Tachilek Bridge.
    Myanmar Airways to Extend Domestic Flights

    YANGON, Oct 9, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Myanma Airways (MA), a state-run Myanmar airline, will extend its domestic flights in addition to the existing ones, commencing on October 18, according to sources at the MA Tuesday.

    Under the new extended flight schedule, Fokker-27 aircraft of the MA will fly from southern Bago division's Toungoo to six destinations of Heho, Loikaw, Monghsat, Namsang, Tachilek and Yangon; from northern Kachin state's Myitkyina to Bhamo and Putao; and from northern city of Mandalay to ten destinations of Bagan, Nyaung U, Bhamo, Heho, Kalay, Kengtung, Khanti, Magway, Myitkyina and Tachilek.

    In addition to the state-owned MA, there are two other private-run airlines in Myanmar -- Air Mandalay and Yangon Airways, operating on internal flights.

    Meanwhile, the Myanmar Airways International (MAI), the country 's single international carrier, has revised its flight schedule beginning on October 1 along with the world's other carriers following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and cutting down some of its services to Bangkok and Singapore.At the same time, the MAI has started collecting a surcharge of two U.S. dollars from passengers to cover higher insurance premium due to huge losses by insurers out of terrorist attacks.
    Japan Coast guard arrests 12 Myanmars for allegedly trying smuggle selves

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Oct 9, 2001
    Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo

    Kobe, 9 October: The Japan Coast Guard on Tuesday [9 October] arrested 12 men who said they are from Myanmar [Burma] on suspicion of attempting to smuggle themselves into Japan aboard a freighter that arrived in Kobe, coast guard officials said.

    The coast guard also arrested three Malaysian crew members of the 39,582-ton Bunga Raya Satu on suspicion of abetting the smuggling attempt. Around 0930 [local time], customs officials found the men hiding in the Malaysian-registered ship and reported the discovery to the coast guard.

    The ship left Pusan in South Korea on Sunday and arrived in Kobe shortly after 0800 Tuesday. The coast guard said the 12 may have boarded the ship in Pusan.