Daily News-October 30 - 2001- Tuesday

  • DVB details recently released political prisoners
  • Muslim militant groups active in NE India
  • Burmanet Editor Branded as Pro-Rohingya
  • DVB reports gun attack on passenger train

  • DVB details recently released political prisoners

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Oct 28, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 27 October

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that Dr Daw Shwe Pon from Pegu, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, was among the eight political prisoners released yesterday by the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military clique. The other seven were Daw Aye Aye Win, U Myint Kywe, U Win Naing, U Mya Han, U Kan Saung, U Thein Kywe, and U Tin Ko. All eight political prisoners are members of the National League for Democracy [NLD].

    Dr Daw Shwe Pon was arrested in mid 1999 for her alleged involvement in the 9-9-99 activities. Ko Bo Kyi, coordinator of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma [AAPP], told DVB that although Dr Daw Shwe Pon was released the other 18 persons arrested together with her still remain in jail. They were all arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly distributing pamphlets instigating mass unrest on 9-9-99. The AAPP said of those released yesterday, U Kan Saung and U Mya Han, both NLD members from Dalla Township, were arrested in end 1995 for wishing and praying for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's health and well-being and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

    An SPDC statement said that they were all in good health. But U Win Naing who was suffering from an eye ailment and released yesterday seemed not to have received any medical treatment. Both, U Win Naing and U Myint Kywe, were arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment for holding a religious ceremony for NLD elected representative U Tin Maung Win who died in prison.

    NLD Secretary U Lwin criticized the SPDC government yesterday claiming that the rate of release of political prisoners was very slow. He said at first, they released the prisoners once a week, then once a fortnight, and now once a month only. He also said many NLD members were still being detained including NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Ma Khin Khin Le, Ma Thuzar, and U Ye Tint, who were all arrested together with Dr Daw Shwe Pon, were recently awarded with the human rights prize by an American university.
    Muslim militant groups active in NE India

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

    Guwahati, Oct. 29: Panic gripped people along the Indo-Bangla border following stepped-up activities of Muslim fundamentalists in the area. Recently, Dhubri district in Assam State (bordering Bangladesh) has witnessed an increase of violence perpetrated by Muslim fundamentalists with active support from Bangladesh, forcing the security forces to review their ongoing operations.

    In the second major attack within 48 hours, the fundamentalists ambushed an Assam police patrolling party in Dhubri district on Sunday, killing five police personnel and injuring seven. The police team had intended to raid a militant hideout when their vehicle was fired upon, followed by a major blast. The militants also triggered a powerful blast at Puja pandal on Friday killing at least seven people.

    Security had previously been reinforced along the Indo-Bangla border in the wake of ongoing US attacks on Afghanistan. Official sources said that several Muslim fundamentalists had managed to sneak into the state and expanded their activities in the entire North East region of India, aided by local militant groups.

    The Indo-Bangla and the Indo-Burma border are said to be sensitive areas because of foreign mercenaries' attempts to destabilize the region by abetting terrorism. “According to reports, several Muslim militants groups are active in the region, and they said to be supplying arms and ammunitions to the militant groups in the region“, the sources added. More alarming still is the fact that the region has become a hotbed of militants for which Border Security Forces (BSF) has been kept under strict surveillance.
    Burmanet Editor Branded as Pro-Rohingya

    By Tin Maung Htoo
    Burma Media Association

    Oct 28 Toronto. While a series of Burmese-Muslim riots are taking place in one city to another in Burma, Burmanet Editor Douglas Steele brings about a new wave of criticism, with an article defending Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front(ARIF) over it's possible connection with Osama bin Laden terrorist Network, Al Qaeda.

    The article posted on Oct 23 also criticizes Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) in refusal of bringing up the group into a broader democratic body, Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), while Muslim Liberation Organization (MLO) and All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) had no problem to affiliate with DAB in the past.

    Mr. Steele, the founder of Burmanet News and lawyer in his professional,asserted in the article that "The ALP? like the regime [SPDC] do not recognize Muslim Rohingya as one of Burma's 'national races' or as citizens of Burma." Exiled Burmese communities, especially ethnic Arakanese activists, are kindled with his writing, and raise the question of his understanding of Arakan history and background.

    Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin, student activist and Ph.D. candidate in Law with Arakan background said, "He is very supportive person to the Rohingya. He knows very little of Rakhine history and Rakhine background," adding that "the reason is unknown but the mentality of his misperception is obvious."

    When asked the reason, Mr. Steele replied that he has well intention for his article, adding the issue he tries to arise is deeper than it could be simply thought. And he said the condition could eventually lead to a wonderful advantage for the Burmese military regime while U.S. administration is wild with international support from any corner of the world in its effort to wipe out terrorism if it's not taken into serious account. The military, according to his observation, is well aware of this overwhelming fact and playing the card to exaggerate the issue by cracking down some Islamic groups and inciting riots between Buddhists and Muslims in the country.

    Ko Khine Myo Min Aung, a member of Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), nevertheless blames the phrase comparing his organization "like the regime." "For this sentence, I strongly condemn you as a member of ALP and Arakan national,"writes in the letter sent to Burmanet editor.

    Rohingya, also known as Bangali in Burma, have been fighting for autonomy within Arakan State for decades, and stated 2 million Rohingya, out of 8 million Muslim in Burma, are living under the fear of discrimination and repression. They also claim 1.5 million of their people were already expelled to foreign countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia since 1962.

    However, majorities of political groups in Burma including ethnic are still reluctant to cooperate with Rohingya in fear of a backlash in future as they are being regarded as "radical" or sort of "foreign residents". But in a surprising move, National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) formed political alliance with them a few years ago, provoking a pool of outcries from various Arakan organizations.

    The possible link between ARIF and Osama bin Laden is unveiled in a Bangladesh-based Independence English newspaper, quoting diplomatic and other sources. Also in recent development, various reports indicated that two Burmese Muslim fighters are among a dozen of Taliban captives in the hands of opposition Northern Alliance forces, but which group they represent and as to whether members of ARIF is unclear.

    However, Mr. bin Laden verified in an interview that his network exists in Burma, but did not identify the group involved, and these glimmers subsequently tracked down a possible link of his network in Burma. Some Burmese, especially Arakanese, have long been aware of engagement of some Burmese Muslim with foreign Islamic militia groups and military training missions at foreign lands in what is believed to be a preparing of warfare campaign in Arakan State.

    However, Burmanet editor defends that whether ARIF has any connection to bin Ladin is "little evidence." But he does not totally rule out the possibility of Burmese Muslim's connection with bin Laden. Referring Jane's Intelligence Review, he writes, "some Burmese Muslims have been trained in camps in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda has some presence in Burma", but insisted, "that the connection would be among the Rohingya groups is not implausible."

    But Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin said on other point of view, "there are thousand of sleeping Rohingya-bin laden agents inside Rakhine State as well as all over Burma. As all of you can see, riots and bin Laden supportive newsletters are increasing in Burma."

    ARIF is one of the three Rohingya organizations that merged into a single organization, Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) in November 1998 after dissolving each faction for unity purpose. Mr. Nurul Islam, the leader of ARIF, became the president of the umbrella group of ARNO.Since ARIF is no longer standing as a group, finger pointing could be finally arrived at ARNO as umbrella body of all Rohingya groups based in Bangladesh and Burma-Bangladesh border. But it is still too early to say that who and which organizations are connected to Osma bin Laden. ARNO was contacted to clarify its position but no reply has obtained so far.
    DVB reports gun attack on passenger train

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Oct 30, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 29 October

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that a group of unknown gunmen ambushed the Tavoy-Ye passenger train on 21 October afternoon killing one passenger and wounding another six.

    The unknown group of gunmen using small arms attacked the Tavoy-Ye passenger train near Kyetlok bridge between Kinmunchaung and Aukpingwin Villages of Yebyu Township. It is still not known which group was responsible. The wounded were taken to Ye Township General Hospital for treatment.