Daily News-October 11 - 2001- Thursday

  • (EU)EP/BURMA: Humanitarian aid for those who need it most
  • Muslims Kept Under Watchful Eye
  • WLB concluded its Presidium Meeting
  • Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation delegation arrived in Rangoon
  • Burma's cows being smuggled across the borders
  • Ne Win returns to Myanmar after treatment

  • (EU)EP/BURMA: Humanitarian aid for those who need it most

    Source: Agence Europe, October 08, 2001

    Strasbourg, 08/10/2001 (Agence Europe) - In a resolution on the political situation in Burma, the Parliament calls on the Commission to study how humanitarian aid may be carried to the populations that need it the most, with the least political interference possible on the part of the military.

    The EP also calls on Burma to put an end to the practice of forced labour and reminds the Rangoon regime that the relative concessions it has made are not seen by the Union as a sign of real change.

    Despite the opening of talks about one year ago, there has been no significant release of political prisoners, the Parliament notes in particular. Political pressure must not ease up, admitted Commissioner Poul Nielson during a short discussion.
    Muslims Kept Under Watchful Eye

    By Maung Maung Oo
    Irrawaddy online

    October 10, 2001- Muslims living in Burma have seen their movements restricted and communities watched by the government since the September 11 attack on the US, according to a Burmese Muslim living in Rangoon.

    A source in Kawthaung, in southern Burma, told The Irrawaddy that last week a Muslim man was pulled off a plane in Kawthaung without reason that was bound for Rangoon and had has ticket canceled. Airport authorities in Kawthaung refused to comment on whether Muslims are currently permitted to board planes in Burma.

    "Thousands of Muslims live in Kawthaung and many have connections with Muslims living in Malaysia. The government is concerned about reprisals from Muslim extremist groups in the region," said a security guard working at Kawthaung's airport.A Muslim man in Rangoon vehemently denied that Islamic terrorists operate in Burma despite reports indicating that they do.

    Police officers have formed additional checkpoints on highways throughout the country and have been asking detailed questions as to where Muslims are traveling and why. Burmese citizens must carry state issued identification cards that indicate their religion.

    Two or more police officers have also been stationed at Mosques throughout the country and plain clothed officers have been attending Muslim religious gatherings as well, according to sources in Rangoon.

    In Rangoon, the government tightened security around the US Embassy as well as other western embassies and yesterday the US embassy in Rangoon closed for security reasons.
    WLB concluded its Presidium Meeting

    Mizzima News

    Chiang Mai, Oct. 10: The Women's League of Burma (WLB), an umbrella of Burma's women organizations in exile, ended its Presidium Board meeting yesterday in Thailand. All the presidents of its member organizations, members of WLB Secretary and regional responsible persons attended the meeting, which was held from October 7 to 9 at Chiang Mai in Thailand. This is the second meeting of the WLB's Presidium Board members.

    According to the WLB sources, during the three-day deliberations, the women leaders discussed the various matters including assessment of the activities implemented by the women league during the past eight months, the present political situation in Burma and the role of WLB and organizational matters such as new membership requests and the detailing for future activities.

    Women's League of Burma, which was formed in December 1999 in a Thai-Burma border area, organizes of workshops and trainings to promote knowledge and skills of Burma's women activists in exile and works together with the country's pro-democracy and ethnic organizations to achieve peace and national reconciliation in the military-rule Burma and to maximize the use of the ability of women in the national tasks.Moreover, it joins together with regional and international women organizations on common issues and participates at United Nations forums and other international meetings.

    At present it has eleven women organizations including the country's ethnic women organizations based in border areas and cities of Thailand, India and Bangladesh. The women league holds its Presidium Board meeting, which is composed with the Presidents of the member organizations, every eight months and its general conference is held every two years.

    Mizzima News has learnt that leaders of the WLB will soon travel to India, Thailand and Bangladesh in an organizational trip to meet Burma's pro-democracy and ethnic activists based in these countries.
    Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation delegation arrived in Rangoon

    The New Light of Myanmar (Wednesday, 10 October , 2001)

    Yangon, 9 Oct-A delegation led by General Secretary of Thai-Myanmar Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association General Sanan Kajornklam arrived here on a goodwill visit this morning.

    The guests were welcomed at the Yangon International Airport by Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association led by General Secretary of Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association Col Ba Hein (Retd) and members.

    Chairman of Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association Lt-Gen Kyaw Than (Retd) received the goodwill delegation led by General Secretary of Thai-Myanmar Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association General Sanan Kajornklam at Tatmadaw guest house this afternoon.

    Present were Vice-Chairman of Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association Vice-Admiral Nyunt Thein (Retd) and executives.

    They discussed bilateral cultural and economic cooperation. In the evening, Minister at the State Peace and Development Council Chairman's Office Brig-Gen Abel received the goodwill delegation at his office. Chairman of Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association Lt-Gen Kyaw Than (Retd) hosted dinner for the goodwill delegation at Karaweik Palace.
    Burma's cows being smuggled across the borders

    Mizzima News

    Oct. 10: The cross-border business of Burma's cows being smuggled into neighboring countries has been growing in recent years. As a result the price of cows in the country has increased, and draught cows are becoming relatively rare in Burma whose economy relies on agriculture.

    According to cow traders, Burma's cows are being smuggled from the border areas of Rakhine State, Chin State, Shan State, Kaya State, Kayin State and Tanintharyi Division in Burma not only to neighboring countries such as India, Bangladesh and Thailand but also to far away countries like Malaysia.

    In Rakhine State, cows are smuggled by boats to Bangladesh through the townships of Yen Bye and Kyauk Phyu. Cows from central Burma are smuggled across the Indian border via Mindat township of Chin State. Similarly, through Loikaw of Kaya State, cows are being smuggled daily into Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang in Thailand and from Shan State in Burma to the border of Chiang Rai district in Thailand. Smuggling of cows also takes place between Kyaik Hto Township in Mon State to the Thai border via Phar Pun Township. The smuggling routes from the Tanintharyi Division of Burma to Thailand are the Moe Taung - Pa Kyut border route, Kaw Thaung-Seit Phu-Kalapuri-Dawei-Nat Ai-taung route. Moreover, Burma's cows and goats are being transported by boats up to Malaysia.

    Sources in the border areas estimate that between three hundred and one thousand cows are being smuggled across these borders from Burma each day. As a result, the price of cows inside Burma increased. The price of two draught cows (cattle of an age fit to be used as a beast of burden) is at present above one lakh of Kyat (Burmese currency) while it used to be about eight thousand Kyat last year. Some pair-cattle fetch up to two lakhs.

    However, two draught cows are sold at a price of more than six lakhs if smuggled across the border, according to a cow trader. Cow smugglers pay bribes and "tax" to various police, army, intelligence units, and "cease-fire" groups (armed ethnic groups which have cease fire agreements with the junta) on their ways to border. "Sometimes, we need to give only 300 Kyats per cattle to a Gate and there are also Gates where we have to pay up to five thousand Kyats per cattle", said a trader.

    As there is much profit in the business for smugglers, more and more people become involved in it. On the other hand, as cows are still widely used in the country's farms, Burma is facing a scarcity of cows, and prices are going up.
    Ne Win returns to Myanmar after treatment

    YANGON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Former military leader Ne Win, who ruled Myanmar for more than 25 years and is still rumoured to wield influence behind the scenes, returned to Yangon on Thursday after medical treatment in Singapore, diplomatic sources said.

    "Ne Win got back here by special aircraft this morning," a diplomat from a country in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) told Reuters.

    Myanmar had been rife with rumours that Ne Win was in a coma and even that he had died. But asked about the former dictator's health, the diplomat said: "So far as we have heard, not as bad as the rumours said."

    Ne Win is said to have officially celebrated his 90th birthday in May this year, although some official accounts put his age at 91. He has suffered strokes in the past and travelled to Singapore for medical treatment on several occasions. His arrived in Singapore on September 29 for his latest treatment.

    Some analysts say Ne Win is staunchly opposed to talks between the military government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi aimed at ending the country's political deadlock. They say a deal might be easier after his death.But diplomats say the extent of Ne Win's influence over Myanmar's military rulers is unclear.

    Ne Win seized power in a coup in 1962 and ruled Myanmar, then known as Burma, until 1988. Under his system of a "Burmese Way to Socialism", the country was isolated and it went from being one of Asia's richest nations to one of the poorest. No opposition to military rule was tolerated. Ne Win's admirers say he held the country together when political instability and ethnic strife threatened to tear it apart. His critics say he was a mysticism-obsessed despot.

    The deeply superstitious Ne Win believed the number nine had mystical significance, and in the 1980s replaced the country's banknotes with denominations which are multiples of nine, such as 45-kyat and 90-kyat notes. He officially stepped down in 1988 at the hight of a pro-democracy uprising which was eventually stamped out by the military with substantial loss of life.