Daily News-September 08 - 2001- Saturday

  • Is "Power Sharing" Really Coming Soon?
  • Karen woman tells world of junta's racism
  • Signatures handed over to Office of High Commissioner
  • Myanmar Exports Less Teak, Hardwood in First Four Months
  • Myanmar Exposes 1,536 Drug-Related Cases in Half Year
  • SEA Games: Myanmar beat Singapore 2-1

  • Is "Power Sharing" Really Coming Soon?

    By Aung Zaw
    source : The Irrawaddy

    September 07, 2001-- If one were to base oneís suppositions about how Burmaís alleged transition to democracy is coming along from some of the more recent reports appearing in the Thai papers, one could be forgiven for thinking that a new era is at hand.

    "Everything is fine, there will be good news coming soon," according to a high-ranking Thai official, following a meeting with Burmaís third-in-command, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, during his recent visit to Bangkok. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt said his government has already proposed a power-sharing arrangement in his discussions with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Thailandís Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, after speaking to the Burmese general, said, "There has been talk on sharing (power) and we hope to hear good news soon if the other side accepts the proposal."

    Khin Nyunt also told his Thai counterparts that he meets with Aung San Suu Kyi every two weeks to discuss these purported arrangements. One might think they are merely hammering out the final details as they prepare for the historic day when the army finally relinquishes power and returns democracy to Burmaóa day Khin Nyunt would like you to think is just around the corner.

    However, a senior opposition leader in Rangoon who meets with Suu Kyi on a weekly basis said he had no knowledge of this power-sharing arrangement that the ruling junta continues to refer to.

    U Lwin, secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), told The Irrawaddy, "I donít know anything about this." He added: "Since the release of U Tin Oo and U Aung Shwe two weeks ago we have been meeting with Suu Kyi three times a week and we have not heard of anything resembling a power-sharing arrangement." U Lwin was the only senior NLD leader able to meet with Suu Kyi while fellow NLD leaders U Tin Oo and U Aung Shwe were under detention.

    "I have met her more than 100 times already. But I donít have any knowledge about this power-sharing proposal," U Lwin reiterated. "I hope you can understand our situation."

    An NLD lawyer in Rangoon commented that even though the mood in Bangkok is optimistic regarding Burmaís political situation, things in Rangoon are quiet, with no signs pointing to the military government loosening its grip on power. The NLD headquarters in Bahan Township has been under constant watch by military intelligence officers, according to sources in Rangoon. Hardly the atmosphere envisioned after listening to Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and his credulous friends in the Thai government.

    Speaking to the BBC, U Lwin went so far as to say that there is "in fact no dialogue process going on at present." He also denied Chavalitís claim that Suu Kyi and Khin Nyunt were meeting every other week. "Thatís not the case," he told the BBC. "He hasnít seen her for several months."

    The Thai government has made no attempt to hide its desire to improve relations with the Burmese junta at any cost, leaving analysts to question the motives of officials. Some Burma-watchers feel that by helping the regime to soften its image, Thailand could end up making Burmaís popular opposition party seem rigid and uncompromising if the current talks fail. During the past few years, Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung has repeatedly told the international press that the NLD has declined to participate in a dialogue with the junta.

    Meanwhile, a writer in Rangoon said that people inside Burma are trying to cope with the rising prices of oil and rice and are not interested in the talks. "People have low expectations," he said. "Some Burmese intellectuals are hopeful that there may be some political breakthrough in the future, but no one is convinced that a political settlement is coming in the near future."

    Concerning Thailandís optimism, a Western diplomat based in Rangoon remarked: "If you were here, you would get a totally different impression. They (the junta) are here to stay."
    Karen woman tells world of junta's racism

    source : The Nation
    Published on Sep 8, 2001
    Subhatra Bhumiprabhas

    DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - Ethnic women from Burma made their voices heard this week at the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, demanding the military regime stop its decade of human rights violations, as well as urging Asean governments to review their policy towards Burma.

    Naw Chai Mei Hua, an ethnic Karen woman from Burma, on Wednesday drew the world's attention to the plight of ethnic groups in Burma. Representing the "Women's League of Burma", Naw Chai Mei Hua delivered her speech in front of her government's delegation, the NGO community and the media at WCAR's plenary session.

    She accused the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of being the root cause of multiple discrimination faced by people, especially the women of ethnic groups.

    "Discrimination is exacerbated in ethnic lands due to the war raging against the ethnic nationalities by the Burmese ruling authority. The soldiers commit sexual violence against ethnic women with impunity, the most obvious form of discrimination," said Naw Chai Mei Hua.

    Naw Chai Mei Hua, who was presented to the WCAR official panel by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, told the conference that she and her female counterparts have faced multiple discrimination because they were women of an ethnic origin and refugees. "Ethnic persecution, a form of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance has led us to flee Burma. Some have become refugees and some, undocumented migrant workers in neighbouring countries. Again we face more discrimination because we are non-nationals," she said.

    Naw Chai Mei Hua also brought a petition signed by 51,487 internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants on the Thai-Burma and Burma-Indian borders, asking the WCAR to address the consequences of racial discrimination and related human rights violations committed by the ruling junta. At the end of her statement, Mei Hua requested the United Nations to encourage the SPDC to negotiate a nationwide cease-fire and enter into a genuine dialogue with all the political factions in Burma.

    "Particularly, we request Asean, China, India and Japan to review their policy towards Burma and to take a leading role for the development of a national reconciliation process and meaningful political change in Burma," she said.

    Meanwhile members of the NGO community staged a peaceful protest against the Burmese junta outside the hall. They raised pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi and held banners reading "Stop militarisation in Burma", "Free Burma" and "In Burma, the military is racist and sexist". Some of them taped their mouths with white paper as a symbol of "no freedom" in Burma.

    The SPDC came to power in September 1988 after killing thousands of peaceful protesters who were demanding the restoration of democracy and human rights.
    Signatures handed over to Office of High Commissioner

    September 7, 2001
    Mizzima News Group(www.mizzima.com)

    Durban, South Africa: More than fifty thousand signatures of Internally Displaced People, refugees and undocumented migrants from Burma who are living along the border areas of the country were today handed over to the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights situated in the International Convention Center (ICC) in Durban.

    High Commissioner Ms. Mary Robinson, who is also the general secretary of the World Conference Against Racism however was unable to receive the load of signatures personally due to her tight work.

    "The signatures were the testimony of the peoples against the Burmese military regime for the racial and multiple discrimination", said Naw Chai Mei Hua, a Karen refugee woman who handed over the signatures this evening.

    In July this year, Womenís League of Burma, which is an umbrella of exiled Burma women organisations launched a signature campaign calling for strong international pressure on the Burmese military regime to start meaningful political dialogue with all actors to solve the countryís problems.

    Total 51,487 refugees and migrants living on India-Burma and Thai-Burma border areas endorsed the petition. The World Conference Against Racism which started on August 31 is scheduled to end later today.
    Myanmar Exports Less Teak, Hardwood in First Four Months

    YANGON, September 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar exported 106,832.5 cubic-meters of teak in the first four months of this year, 2.83 percent less than the same period of 2000, according to the latest figures released by the country's Central Statistical Organization.

    Meanwhile, during the period, the country exported 98,625.5 cubic-meters of hardwood, a 48.33-percent reduction from the corresponding period of 2000.

    Export earning from teak and hardwood totaled 70.69 million U.S. dollars during the four-month period, 12.43 percent less than that in the same period of 2000.In 2000, Myanmar exported a total of 302,810 cubic-meters of teak and 494,259.5 cubic-meters of hardwood with their total earning amounting to 201 million dollars.

    Timber has become Myanmar's second largest export goods after agriculture products and foreign exchange earned through the export of timber accounted for about 20 percent of Myanmar's total export earning.Myanmar's forest covers 50 percent of its total land area, a 7- percent reduction from 1962 reportedly due to indiscriminate felling of trees.Of the forest area, 18.6 percent are reserved and protected public forest, the percentage of which is being targeted to increase to 30.
    Myanmar Exposes 1,536 Drug-Related Cases in Half Year

    YANGON, September 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The Myanmar authorities exposed a total of 1,536 narcotic-drug-related cases in the first half of this year, seizing 474.91 kilograms (kg) of opium and 27.89 kg of heroin, according to a latest compiled data of the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control.

    The seizure, made by army units, police and the customs, also includes 8,371 kg of marijuana, 6.14 million tablets of stimulant drugs, 1,889 kg of ephedrine and 269.28 liters of phensedyl.During the half-year period, the authorities punished 2,187 people for being involved in the cases, it revealed.

    Earlier official statistics show that in 2000, the Myanmar authorities exposed a total of 3,535 drug-related cases, seizing 2. 268 tons of narcotic drugs, of which opium accounted for 1,552 kg, while heroin represented 158 kg. During the year 4,881 drug offenders were punished.

    Meanwhile, the authorities also destroyed a total of 9,317.9 hectares of illegally-grown poppy fields in the country in the fiscal year 2000-2001 which ended in March.

    Following the declaration of its Mongla region in eastern Shan state as an opium-free zone in April 1997, Myanmar began in 1999 implementing a 15-year drug eradication plan in three five-year phases which costs 33,588.14 million Kyats (about 50 million U.S. dollars) plus 150 million dollars covering 25 townships in the first phase, 20 townships in the second phase and nine townships in the third phase.
    SEA Games: Myanmar beat Singapore 2-1

    Myanmar edged Singapore 2-1 in a SEA Games Group A men's soccer match on Friday to qualify for the semifinals. Myanmar's goals were scored by Aung Tun Naing in the 42nd minute and substitute Yan Paing in the 74th minute.

    The team was reduced to 10 men towards the end of the game. Singapore pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute through skipper Indra Sahdan Daud.

    Myanmar, who last qualified for the semifinals in 1995, still have a game in hand but after three matches have collected seven points.

    They are assured of at least finishing second in the group while Singapore have crashed out of the tournament. Singapore have six points from two wins and two losses after completing their fixtures.

    Don't Take It Easy Against Myanmar, M'sian Takraw Team Told

    By Elmi Rizal Elias

    KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (Bernama) -- The Malaysia sepak takraw team, who lost unexpectedly to Myanmar in Brunei SEA Games two years ago, must avoid suffering a similar fate in the Games here, said coach Nordin Sabarudin.

    He said the players should not take things lightly and must concentrate on winning the match against Myanmar to avoid playing defending champions Thailand in the semifinal. "Although we beat them (Myanmar) in friendly matches in Myanmar last month, we should not be over confident.

    The players should learn from the mistakes...they must play all out not only against the Myanmar but also the others. "I believe we can qualify for the semifinals but we have no choice when we play Myanmar. We must win otherwise we have to face Thailand in the semifinal," he said when met here Thursday.

    The sepak takraw competition offers three gold medals and Malaysia's target is one gold. The 1999, Malaysia collected one silver and one bronze.

    Nordin said that this was the best time for the country to regain their pride as they would be playing with home ground advantage. "The players are ready to carry Malaysia's challenge in the competition here. But, whether they can play their normal game on the match day we won't know," he said. Malaysia's 12-member squad include five senior players. Malaysia have never beaten Thailand in any major tournament since 1993. The Thais have emerged as a dominant force in what was supposed to be Malaysia's traditional sport.