Daily News-October 19 - 2001- Friday

  • Special repporteur on human rights in Myanmar ends field mission
  • UN rights envoy admitted to hospital before cutting short Myanmar trip
  • Student Leader Turns 39 in Prison
  • Karenni urges to include all the ethnic and opposition forces for National Reconciliation
  • Four Thai border police wounded in attack on outpost by "unknown group"
  • Shipping line to connect Bangladesh-Myanmar ports
  • Cooking Oil Consumers Turn to Grease
  • Myanmar killed in construction site trench landslide

  • Special repporteur on human rights in Myanmar ends field mission

    UNITED NATIONS -Press Release
    18 October 2001

    The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has just concluded his first fact-finding mission to that country.

    At the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur arrived in Yangon on 9 October after a stop-over in Singapore where he had consultations with officials and with academic institutions. Mr. Pinheiro made an initial visit to Myanmar earlier this year.

    In Yangon, where he stayed for four days, the Special Rapporteur met with Government officials and ethnic minority leaders, and visited educational, religious, academic and other institutions. He also met with the UN country team, members of the diplomatic community, and international civil society organizations.

    On 13 October the Special Rapporteur went with his team to Lashio (Shan State), where he was received by local authorities. The mission visited a Wa cease-fire area, the new border town of Muse, and the Lashio prison.

    The following day the mission travelled to Mandalay and had meetings with local authorities, visited the office of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Mandalay central prison, Hton-Bo labour camp, and a university in Sagaing Division.

    On 17 October, the mission, originally scheduled to last until 20 October, had to be suspended due to an ailment of the Special Rapporteur, who was obliged to return to his home country of Brazil. As a consequence, visits to Kachin State, Insein prison, and a labour camp near Yangon had to be cancelled. The Special Rapporteur was however able to meet the Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister, as well as the leadership of the NLD, including its Secretary General.

    Before leaving for Brazil, the Special Rapporteur said he had received full and unhindered cooperation on the part of the Myanmar Government during this mission. He said he hoped to be able to return to Myanmar as soon as his health permits to pursue his fact-finding mission and efforts to develop partnership with all interested parties towards improving the human rights situation in the country.
    UN rights envoy admitted to hospital before cutting short Myanmar trip

    YANGON, Oct 18 (AFP) - United Nations human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was admitted to hospital in the northern city of Mandalay before cutting short his mission to Myanmar, a government source said Thursday.

    Pinheiro departed Yangon Wednesday after a meeting with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her top lieutenants, which was hastily arranged after he was taken ill on an upcountry tour and forced to cut three days from his trip.

    UN officials said Pinheiro, who is aged in his late 50s, was suffering from a pre-existing condition that had flared up during the tour, and that his doctor had recommended he travel back to Brazil for treatment.

    "He was not in pain but it was difficult for him to move on and travel around," a UN spokeswoman said, while declining to identify his condition.

    A government source who helped organise the envoy's second trip to Myanmar said Pinheiro spent two days in hospital after completing a tour of northern Shan state Monday. The UN spokeswoman said the stay was shorter.

    He was forced to cancel a trip to Kachin state to meet with the Kachin Independence Organisation, the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army which is one of the ethnic militias to have signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. A visit to the ancient city of Bagan was also canned.

    The UN spokeswoman said that before he flew out of Yangon, Pinheiro managed to attend the crucial meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi and top members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) which lasted for nearly two hours. She said she hoped that would go some way to defusing complaints from NLD secretary U Lwin that the envoy had spent too much time with junta leaders and had neglected the pro-democracy groups.

    "This was a very important meeting so that was one effort he was really concerned to make... From what I understand it went well." "I hope that all the misunderstandings were clarified," she said, adding that scheduling problems had prevented Pinheiro from seeing the NLD leadership until Wednesday just hours before his departure.

    U Lwin told BBC's Burmese-language service earlier this week that he was "displeased" with the trip. "I heard he has no plan to visit local prisons and to call on political prisoners, which is very strange," he said.

    "Especially on this trip Pinheiro has spent a lot of time with senior military officials... and on his previous visit he called on NLD officials for only 30 minutes," he added. "I do not expect too much from his this visit."

    However, Shan NLD spokesman Khun Tun Oo said his meeting with Pinheiro Friday, along with other ethnic pro-democracy groups, had helped ease concerns that the envoy was not addressing their problems.

    His first report released after an inaugural five-day trip to Myanmar in April "did not represent the true situation of ethnic minority political parties," he said. "It was based on what the ceasefire groups had told him." But he said Pinheiro had promised to incorporate their views into his next report.

    "We were all very satisfied that we could meet with this man, spend over one and a half hours with him, and explain our feelings," he told AFP.

    Pinheiro, the first UN human rights envoy to travel here in five years, has established a good working relationship with the junta, which released five top political prisoners to mark his arrival on October 9.

    In the second release to coincide with the visit, on Saturday it also freed a young dissident named Chan Myay Win, who had been sentenced to 21 years in jail, an official source said.
    Student Leader Turns 39 in Prison

    By Ko Thet
    source : Irrawaddy

    October 18,2001-Burmese democracy activists across the world celebrated the 39th birthday of student leader Min Ko Naing today as the chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) served his twelfth consecutive birthday in prison.

    A quiet celebration was held in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot where democracy activists from the area came to pray for his release and safety. Following the celebration, a statement was released by Burmese student and youth organizations.

    "He is our strong spirit, our symbol of democracy, freedom and peace for the Burmese students. However, we all should not only pray for his release, but also move on in our practical ways in the hope for the release of Min Ko Naing and other political prisoners," the statement said.

    Bo Kyi, a childhood friend of Min Ko Naing and spokesmen for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) told The Irrawaddy that, "Min Ko Naing is a hero for both Burmese students and youths and he still struggles in prison after serving over twelve years for fighting for democracy and human rights in Burma."

    The Washington D.C. based Free Burma Coalition (FBC) also held a candlelight vigil marking Min Ko Naing's birthday yesterday evening in front of the Burmese ambassador's residence in Washington.

    Burmaís ruling military government has placed Min Ko Naing in solitary confinement for 24 hours a day and refuses to allow any visitors to see him. He is currently imprisoned in western Burma in Sittwe prison.

    Min Ko Naing was arrested on March 23, 1989 and later sentenced to fifteen years in prison by a military tribunal. His real name is Paw Oo Tun. He was elected chairman of the ABFSU in 1988 as he and others began revitalizing a student movement that had been squashed after a 1962 coup that saw the military take power.

    The sentence was shortened to ten years in 1992 by Gen Than Shwe. While Min Ko Naing has completed his sentence, he remains incarcerated under the State Protection Act that allows the government to detain people even after their sentences have been completed.
    Karenni urges to include all the ethnic and opposition forces for National Reconciliation

    Network Media Group

    KNPP welcomes discussion between Thai and British leaders

    Mae Hong Son, October 18, 2001 -Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) welcome the discussion between Thai Defense Minister and British Ambassador to Bangkok on the national reconciliation process in Burma and urged to include all the ethnic nationalities and democratic forces in the process, mentioned in the statement issued on October 17.

    Thai Defense Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and British Ambassador to Bangkok Lloyd Smith met on October 15 and discussed on the national reconciliation process in Burma, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported. "Thai minister would begin with the Kayah (Karenni) rebels and Karen National Union (KNU)," reported the Bangkok Post.

    In the statement issued by KNPP stated that KNPP believes that a final agreement on national reconciliation cannot be reached if the discussion is only between the SPDC and three ethnic Nationalities armed opposition groups- namely the KNPP, the KNU and Shan State Army (SSA).

    "National reconciliation process should go with the tripartite political dialogue including all the forces as UN resolution adopted for several years," said Rimond Htoo, Secretary of the KNPP. "Without the participation of any group will not bring the real peace and national reconciliation," he continued.

    KNPP signed cease-fire agreement with Burmese regime on March 21, 1995. The cease-fire only lasted for few months and broke on June 28 in the same year. KNPP is one of the major ethnic armed groups continuing fighting against Burmese regime. Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt has asked Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to get the rebel groups talking, reported Bangkok Post in October 16 issue.
    Four Thai border police wounded in attack on outpost by "unknown group"

    Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma on 17 October

    An unknown armed group from the Burmese side fired at a Thai Border Patrol Police [BPP] unit near the Thai-Burma border in Mae Hong Song Province this morning [17 October]. Mae Hong Song provincial officials have also confirmed about the incident. DVB correspondent Maung Too filed this report about the border incident from somewhere near the Thai-Burma border.

    [Maung Too] An unknown armed group based in Shan State attacked a Thai BPP outpost near Ho Nang Village in Bhama Phat District, Mae Hong Song Province in Thailand at about 0600 [local time] on 17 October. Mae Hong Song provincial authorities said four members of the Thai BPP were wounded in the attack. But the Thai BPP said the unknown armed group that crossed over to Thailand from the Burmese side could be the Wa armed group [United Wa State Army] or the SPDC soldiers who had lost their way and wandered into Thai territory.

    Furthermore, some thought the group could be drug traffickers because the location where the incident occurred happened to be on the drug trafficking route. Both sides have agreed that this is a time when high-level Thai and Burmese officials have been promoting bilateral goodwill and economic cooperation between the two nations. Observers believed that such border incidents could create some obstacles to the slightly improving bilateral relations.
    Shipping line to connect Bangladesh-Myanmar ports

    CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A private Singapore-based shipping company will introduce a freighter service between Bangladesh's main Chittagong port and Yangon of Myanmar, company agents said on Thursday.

    Singapore-based Sea Consortium Private Limited (SCPL) will connect Chittagong with Yangon as part of a planned expansion of its shipping network in the region. "The freighter service between Chittagong-Yangon will commence in January next year," Captain S.A. Chowdhury, general manager of Regency Shipping Lines (RSL), told Reuters.RSL is the Bangladesh agent of SCPL which operates eight ships on Chittagong-Port Kelang-Singapore route.

    Presently consignments are shipped between the two neighbouring ports via Kelang of Malaysia. The annual official trade between Bangladesh and Myanmar totals around $20 million, officials said. They said Bangladesh imports logs, agro-based products and spices from Myanmar and export mainly garments, jute and medicine.
    Cooking Oil Consumers Turn to Grease

    By Maung Maung Oo
    source : Irrawaddy

    October 18, 2001-Due to a continuing shortage of vegetable based cooking oils in Burma, consumers have turned to the cheaper and more readily available cooking grease, according to a business source in Rangoon. Burma has been facing a cooking oil shortage since May of this year due in part to a ban on cooking oil imports by non-staterun companies.

    In Rangoon ten viss (16 Kg) of cooking grease costs only 700 kyat (US$ 1) where one viss of the popular palm oil costs 1,000 kyat. Many consumers not wanting to ingest the unhealthy cooking grease and cannot afford palm oil have also turned to fish oil as a cheaper and healthier alternative. The fish oil costs around 350 kyat per viss.

    "We canít afford to buy the palm oil. Despite the smell (of the fish oil) itís very cheap and I donít think it is as bad for you as the grease," said Ma Ohmmar, a housewife in Rangoon.

    The fish oil is a locally manufactured product but in order to satisfy the consumer demand for cooking oils in Burma, oil traders began importing cooking grease last month from Malaysia and Indonesia, according to a businessman from the Bayint Naung wholesale market in Rangoon. The government has not yet restricted the importation of cooking grease by non-staterun companies."The grease is now the biggest seller in the market," said a vendor in Rangoon.

    Lt Gen Khin Nyunt said last Tuesday, at a ceremony marking World Food Day, that Burma does not face any food shortages presently and will not face any in the future.

    Myanmar Economic Holding Co Ltd (MEHCL) is currently responsible for the importation of all cooking oils in Burma.
    Myanmar killed in construction site trench landslide

    by Audrey Dermawan
    The New Straits Times Press

    PENANG -A 31-year-old Myanmar national died shortly after he was pulled out of a trench following a landslide at a construction site at Jalan Pokok Cherri in Air Itam here this morning.

    Nor Ahmad Mohd Sofi, whose left hand was almost severed while being pulled out from the two-metre deep trench with the help of an excavator, died while on the way to the Penang Hospital. A police spokesman said the victim was laying some pipes inside the trench when the loose earth gave way at 10.30am.

    One of Nor Ahmad's friends who witnessed the incident, then alerted the others and used an excavator to "haul" him out from the earth-laden trench. Nor Ahmad's cousin, Mohd Yaakob Mohd Ayob said the victim started work at the construction site about three months ago. Mohd Yaakob said the incident took place just shortly after resumed work after having his breakfast. The victim leaves behind a widow and two children in Myanmar.