Daily News-September 11 - 2001- Tuesday

  • Myanmar junta says releases opposition politicians
  • Myanmar government free six more political prisoners
  • Burma working towards multiparty democracy, chief justice tells regional forum
  • Ethnic Groups Form New Committee
  • Time bomb discovered at Akyab meeting
  • Thailand Topped Group A After 3-1 Win Over Myanmar
  • Shan accept olive branch

  • Myanmar junta says releases opposition politicians

    YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government said on Monday it released six members of Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party "as a goodwill gesture". The release of the six, who include five elected representatives of the National League for Democracy (NLD), takes place amid continuing talks between the ruling junta and the opposition. The talks have been going on for almost a year.

    "Since January this year, a total of 167 NLD members...serving sentences at the various correctional facilities for criminal offences have been released," the government said in a statement. The statement gave no details of the offences but said five of the released were elected in Myanmar's last general election in 1990.

    Suu Kyi's NLD won those elections by a landslide but has never been allowed to govern and party members have been detained and harassed instead. Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has been under de facto house arrest for a year but there are signs the landmark talks between the government and the opposition have been making some progress.

    U.N. envoy Razali Ismail visited Myanmar last month for a series of meetings with Suu Kyi and the ruling generals which went well, according to a senior Asian diplomat based in Yangon. "All three parties -- the government, the opposition and Mister Razali himself -- were very pleased with the results," he told Reuters.

    Diplomats in Yangon briefed by Razali have said the political dialogue in Myanmar has reached a sensitive stage. Tensions between the two sides have eased in recent months with the release of the political prisoners but an NLD representative told Reuters there were still 23 elected members in jail. Amnesty International says there are 1,500 political detainees in Myanmar.

    The ruling generals insist they are committed to moving towards democracy, but that too fast a transition would risk anarchy and national disintegration.
    Myanmar government free six more political prisoners

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Myanmar's military government on Monday freed six more political prisoners as a ``goodwill gesture in the process of political transition,'' a government news release said.The releases were the latest in a series of such moves by the ruling junta since it began holding closed-door talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi late last year to break the country's political deadlock.

    Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, or NLD, won more than 80 percent of seats in a 1990 election, but the military, which has ruled Myanmar since 1962, refused to allow parliament to convene.

    Those freed Monday included five people who won seats in the election.The official statement identified the five as Kyin Thein, Aye Zan, Hla Min,Aung Kyin and Tun Kyi. The other freed prisoner was Ma Khin Hla Htay, an ordinary member of Suu Kyi's party.According to an NLD official, the freed prisoners had been serving sentences ranging from three to ten years.

    ``They are in good health and are back with their respective families,'' the government's statement said.

    Though details of the talks between Suu Kyi and the government have been kept secret by both parties, the NLD has said that the release of political prisoners has been one the topics discussed.

    Suu Kyi told her senior party colleagues that the release of prisoners has been slow but reportedly said she was optimistic with the ongoing talks.According to NLD vice chairman Tin Oo, Suu Kyi had requested that the authorities give priority to the release of women prisoners and members of ethnic minorities, as well as elderly and ailing prisoners.

    Last week, after an official visit to Thailand by the junta's No. 3 leader,Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, Thai Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh also expressed optimism about the talks.``We expect to see every party in Burma join together to set up a government to work for the people and the country,'' Chavalit was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post newspaper.

    Monday's government statement said that since January this year, a total of 167 NLD members including 48 member of Parliament ``were released before completion of the terms of their respective sentences.''

    NLD spokesman U Lwin said in August that 29 of the party's elected representatives and 1,500 political prisoners were still in prison.
    Burma working towards multiparty democracy, chief justice tells regional forum

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 10, 2001

    The Myanmar [Burma] delegation led by U Aung Toe, chairman of National Convention Convening Work Committee and Chief Justice, attended the 22nd General Assembly of ASEAN [Association of Southeaset Asian nations] Inter-Parliamentary Organization, AIPO, held in Bangkok from 3 to 5 September and addressed the meeting as head of the Myanmar delegation...

    In his address at the opening ceremony on 3 September, the leader of the Myanmar delegation, U Aung Toe, said genuine multiparty democratic system will be practised in the country according to the fundamental principles and detailed provisions laid down by the National Convention. He said favourable foundations are to be built for emergence of a democratic state that will practise a genuine multiparty democratic system. These tasks are being implemented for smooth transition from the old system to a new one. If everything goes according to the plan, success will be achieved in a short time.

    Therefore, the State Peace and Development Council is striving for this purpose with determination. By doing so, a peaceful, modern, developed nation - a democratic nation that is stable and peaceful - will surely emerge. In order to restore a genuine multiparty democratic system, tasks in conformity with our country are being undertaken step by step, taking into consideration the experiences of some nations in the world...

    Source: TV Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 8 Sep 01
    Ethnic Groups Form New Committee

    source : The Irrawaddy
    By Zarny Win

    September 10, 2001--Representatives from seven ethnic-minority groups established a working committee in late August in hopes of joining the secret talks that have been underway in Burma since October of last year between the ruling military government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee was created after leaders of the different groups met during an ethnic leaders' seminar held in the last week of August along the Thai-Burma border.

    Saw Ba Thin, chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU), an armed resistance group that has been striving for self-determination since 1949, will head the seven-member committee. He told The Irrawaddy that, "We welcome and support the current talks between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi." He added: "Although we definitely want unity and peace in our country, we will fight together if the junta does not recognize our needs and attempts to crack down on us."

    Khun Tun Oo, chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy said in a radio interview on the BBC that, "Tripartite dialogue is essential, as we ethnic people have to present our issues and our feelings ourselves. This is the most suitable way to alleviate the current problems."

    Burma is home to over 100 ethnic groups. Some of these groups have been involved in a decades-long civil war with Rangoon since Burma regained its independence from British colonial rule in 1948. Ethnic groups working both inside and outside Burma have been asking the SPDC to join in a tripartite dialogue in order to bring about a peaceful resolution to the political conflict in Burma.

    Saw Mya Aung, chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy as well as the Future People’s Parliament, said that he believes in Aung San Suu Kyi. He said he is confident that Suu Kyi will not compromise the rights of the ethnic groups.

    The ethnic groups also said they welcomed the efforts of UN special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail, who has been credited with brokering the talks taking place in Rangoon. Razali made his most recent visit to the Burmese capital in late August, but declined to comment on his meetings with Burmese leaders.Although the talks have been underway for almost one year, no details have been released regarding their substance, leaving many Burma watchers to question the sincerity of the junta’s professed desire to share power.

    The military government, which seized power after a military coup in 1988, has cease-fire agreements with sixteen armed ethnic-minority groups. In 1990, the government sponsored a multi-party democratic election in which the opposition groups won the vast majority of the seats in Parliament. However, the government never recognized the results of that election.
    Time bomb discovered at Akyab meeting

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 10, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 9 September

    A local resident told DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] that a time bomb, due to go off in less than half an hour, was discovered and defused during the Arakan State Union Solidarity and Development Association [USDA] Annual General Meeting.

    The meeting, held at Akyab Town Hall, was attended by State Peace and Development Council [SPDC] Science and Technology Minister U Thaung, Brig-Gen Khin Maung, deputy minister of agriculture and irrigation, and Brig-Gen Than Swe, commander of military operations management command, who attended on behalf of western military commander. Furthermore, over 400 USDA members also attended the meeting.

    A local resident who does not wish to be identified told DVB that while the USDA General Meeting was in progress a bag was found near the venue. After investigation, the authorities discovered that it was a time bomb set to go off in the next half hour. DVB has learned that the regional military intelligence personnel have arrested some suspects in Akyab in relation to the incident.
    Thailand Topped Group A After 3-1 Win Over Myanmar

    By Azman Zakaria

    KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 (Bernama) -- Defending champions Thailand beat Myanmar 3-1 tonight to top Group A in the SEA Games men's football competition.Both teams had already qualified for the semifinals and tonight's match at the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) Stadium in Kelana Jaya, near here, served to decide who topped the group.

    Thailand needed only a draw to head the group while Myanmar must win to overtake Thailand. Thailand have collected a maximum 12 points from four matches, while Myanmar garnered seven points after two wins, a draw and a defeat.

    The defending champions had a rude shock when Myanmar, who controlled the earlier part of the first half, took the lead after 12th minutes of play. Off a freekick from the left, Soe Lin Tun sent the ball into Thailand's penalty area which the Thai defenders' failed to clear, and Soe Myat Min tucked the ball in following a goalmouth scramble.

    Surprised by the goal, Thailand played with more urgency controlling the midfield and began attacking in waves. After coming close on a few occasions, the Thais finally drew level in the 39th minute.

    Sarawut Treephan floated a cross from the right and Manit Noyvach timed his run perfectly, beating the off-side trap and heading in the ball unchallanged with the surpried Myanmar goalkeeper Hein Zayar Kyaw rooted to the spot.

    In the dying minutes of the first half, Thailand almost surged ahead when Phichitpong Choeichiu's drive from on top of the penalty area, after playing a neat one-two with Manit, hit the upright before bouncing back into play.

    In the second half, Thailand and Myamanr continued their fast attacking games which entertained the 4,000 spectators, mostly Myanmar supporters. Thailand's second goal came in the 61st minute when Manit robbed the ball from a Myanmar defender near the half-line, outpaced his marker into the penalty box and cooly placed his hot underneath the body of the onrushing Hein Zayar Kyaw.

    Thailand thereafter played even more confidently and had the Myanmar players back pedalling. The Thais again managed to prise opened the Myanmar defence in the 74th minute for their third goal, through Sarawut Treephan who cleverly lobbed the ball over Hein Zayar Kyaw into the goal.

    THAILAND: 1-Umarin Yaodam, 2-Jukkapant Punpee, 7-Rungpoj Hawanchri (4-Kraikiat Beadtaku), 9-Boonyarit Karnpakdee (15-Yuttana Chaikaew), 12-Anucha Kitpongsri, 13-Surapong Thamwongsa, 17-Sarawut Treephan, 9-Phichitpong Choeichiu, 21-Jetsada Jitsawad, 24-Manit Noyvach (14-Teeratep Winothai), 25-Dussagon Tonglao.

    MYANMAR: 18-Hein Zayar Kyaw, 2-Min Thu, 4-Soe Myat Min, 5-Soe Lin Tun, 6-Tint Naing Tun Thein, 8-Aung Kyaw Moe, 9-Nay Thu Hlaing, 13-Min Thwin, 16-Lwin Oo, 17-Aung Tun Naing (12-Yan Paing), 19-Aye Min Tun (15-Aung Kyaw Myint).Referee: Luong The Tai (Vietnam).
    Shan accept olive branch

    source : The Bangkokpost
    By Subin Khuenkaew

    The Shan State Army is ready to hold peace talks with Rangoon if asked, or fight on, its leader Col Yodsuek said.The SSA leader and chairman of the Shan State Restoration Council told the Bangkok Post his group would be willing to hold talks with the Burmese government at any time to bring about peace in Burma.

    Preliminary discussions should be co-ordinated by Thai authorities, he said. This would ensure the SSA and Rangoon would have the chance to learn out what the other side wanted to raise at peace talks, Col Yodsuek said.

    ``In fact, I am ready in every way, either to continue our fight with Burmese troops or to enter into peace talks,'' he said. `` In 1999 and 2000 I sent letters asking for talks with Burma but there was no response. We thought that Burma just wanted to fight us.''

    Col Yodsuek said the SSA's 758th division was continuing the battle against five Burmese five battalions near Kengtung and Nam Jang towns in Shan state as part of the SSA's fight against deforestation.

    Asia World Company had obtained a concession from Rangoon to log in Kengtung's abundant teak forest.He said a number of Burmese soldiers were reported killed in clashes at Nam Jang, about 150km northwest of Mae Hong Son province.