Daily News-September 18 - 2001- Tuesday

  • New Stamps with Nobel Prize Laureates
  • UN agency set to assess actions on forced labour
  • Burma "slave" probe opens
  • News of Attacks Hard To Find In Burma
  • Junta Allows New Email Accounts
  • Shans calls for refugee camps in Thailand
  • Education System must base on Human Resources Development
  • Myanmar's Domestic Tax Revenue Up in First Half of 2001

  • New Stamps with Nobel Prize Laureates

    September 9

    The Norwegian Postal Services are contributing to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize by producing a new series of stamps featuring the portraits of Alfred Nobel and seven peace prize recipients. The Nobel stamps will be on sale from September 14th. In addition, the Postal Services are publishing one album, "The Nobel collection of the Postal Services", while the Postal museum is organizing a thematic exhibition.

    The selection of the eight motives for the stamps was made together with the Norwegian Nobel Institute. In addition to Alfred Nobel, the seven peace laureates are: Henry Dunant (first prize winner, 1901), Fridtjof Nansen (1922), Martin Luther King jr. (1964), Mikhail Gorbatchev (1980), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992) and Nelson Mandela (1993). The peace laureates represent different continents and epochs, but the emphasis is on more recent winners.

    The stamps are produced by two of Norway's most important stamp artists, the engraver Sverre Morken and the graphic designer Enzo Finger. For one year, Morken has engraved the eight portraits, while Finger has contributed by filling out with illustrations. The stamps have been produced with a two-colored steel print, and a six-colored offset print. The stamps will be given values ranging from NOK 5,50 (domestic fee) to NOK 10,00 (international fee).

    Based on these stamps, the Postal Services are also issuing "The Postal Services' Nobel Collection". The 64-page album is richly illustrated, and provides an overview of the history of the peace prize. The album includes a special print of pre-tests from three previous stages in the work of Sverre Morken with the portrait of Fridtjof Nansen, as well as eight stamps, a page of stamps in miniature, five first day letters, as well as peace prize stamps from South Korea, USA and Sweden.On September 14, Day of the Stamp, the Postal museum in Oslo opens its thematic exhibition "The Nobel Peace Prize during 100 years - the people, the art and the stamps".
    UN agency set to assess actions on forced labour

    UN Newservive

    17 September - A high-level team from the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) left for Myanmar today for a three-week assessment of the Government's actions concerning forced labour.

    In a statement issued in Geneva, the ILO said the team would spend the first few days in meetings in the capital, Yangon, before travelling to various places around the country to investigate the situation.

    "This is the first time that the ILO has had an opportunity to travel around the country to make its own direct assessment of the forced labour situation," the statement said, adding that the team's mandate was to assess the impact on that situation of legislative, executive and administrative measures announced by the Government in response to previous ILO action.

    The team's establishment, which was agreed in May and considered by the International Labour Conference at its June 2001 session, is a new and significant development which follows a series of steps taken by the ILO to secure compliance by Myanmar with its obligations under the agency's Convention No. 29, of 1930, on forced labour.

    Under the terms of the understanding reached with the Myanmar authorities in May, the team will have full discretion to establish a programme of such contacts and visits as it considers appropriate across the country.

    The Myanmar authorities have made a solemn commitment through the team to the international community that no action of any kind will be taken against persons or their families, or organizations that may contribute information to the team or assist it in its work, nor will the authorities seek to identify such persons, ILO said. The team has itself also put in place certain precautionary measures as regards persons whom it may wish to contact.

    The team's report will be considered by the ILO Governing Body when it meets in Geneva in November.
    Burma "slave" probe opens

    By the BBC's Larry Jagan from Bangkok

    A high level delegation from the International Labour Organisation is due to begin a three-week investigative mission to Burma. The ILO said the mission has been guaranteed freedom of access and that any witnesses that gave evidence would be protected.

    Analysts said the mission was extremely significant, representing the first chance the international community has had to examine the situation of forced labour in Burma first-hand.

    Last November, the ILO censured Burma for its continued use of forced labour and has called on his members to consider implementing an international economic boycott.

    Access all areas

    The ILO mission is being led by four eminent international jurists who are used to dealing with authoritarian regimes. The mission's chiefs are not going to be hoodwinked, ILO head Juan Somavia said.

    "They know their business,they know what to look at and they know what to ask," he said. The team has been guaranteed access to any part of the country they want to visit, although Rangoon still has not been told most of the areas or projects the mission wants to visit, ILO sources told the BBC.

    The Burmese military government was stung into action last November when the ILO condemned Burma for its use of what the international community defines as slavery.

    Economic boycott

    The organisation called on members to implement what would in effect by an international economic boycott of Burma. With Burma's economy plunging deeper into crisis,the government acted to counter the threat and has, for the first time, officially outlawed forced labour and circulated the directive throughout the country.

    The ILO mission said it hoped to assess to what extent forced labour has been stopped, but the organisation said it is well aware that what is really needed is a permanent presence in Rangoon to continually monitor the situation.

    Juan Somavia described the mission as an important start in that process. "The ILO constituency is pretty aware and will not be satisfied with something that doesn't appear to be real progress," he said."It is progress for a mission to be there, but progress has to continue."

    This visit has been interpreted as another sign that Burma's ruling generals want to lessen the country's international isolation.But for the army, stamping out the use of forced labour is likely to be more divisive than holding talks with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    According to Burmese military sources, the army could not function properly without press-ganging villagers into service as guides and porters.
    News of Attacks Hard To Find In Burma

    By Kyaw Zwa Moe
    source : The Irrawaddy

    September 17, 2001-The National League for Democracy (NLD), Burma’s main opposition party, issued a statement on September 13th condemning the recent terrorist attacks in America, while Burma’s ruling military government has remained silent.

    The NLD statement described a series of attacks carried out against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 11th as "totally inhuman and cowardly." The NLD also expressed its sorrow over the deaths of thousands of innocent people killed in the attacks. According to US-based news agencies and officials, the death toll has now risen to over 5,000.

    Meanwhile, the military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has been quiet about the attacks and has yet to condemn the perpetrators or offer any condolences to the victims. It is not yet known what impact the terror in America will have on Burma.

    News about the attacks in America is scarce in Rangoon and throughout Burma due to heavy-handed censorship in the military-ruled country. The state-run newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, and the state-run Myanmar Television (MRTV) briefly announced the attacks a day after they occurred.

    "We are very anxious to know about the attacks, but the news has not appeared in most of the Burmese journals," said one person in Rangoon. Only The Myanmar Times, in its edition dated September 14th, covered the attacks. The weekly newspaper, which is run by an Australian editor, is believed to have close ties to high-ranking military intelligence officials. The paper reportedly sold out as soon as it hit the stands last week.

    A bookseller in Rangoon told The Irrawaddy: "The Myanmar Times is the only journal that has reported the attack so far. Some other journals owned by the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) have not reported anything."

    Because of the junta’s continued censorship of all news in Burma, the Burmese people rely heavily on short-wave radio stations like Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the BBC’s Burmese-language service for information. RFA, which is based in Washington, D.C., began to cover the attack minutes after it occured.

    "We would know nothing about the attack if we only watched and listened to the government radio and TV," said a Burmese man in Rangoon, "But we are able to receive news from RFA and the BBC."
    Junta Allows New Email Accounts

    By Zarny Win
    source : The Irrawaddy

    September 17, 2001-Burma’s military government has allowed for the creation of roughly 4,000 email accounts inside Burma despite a continued ban on access to the World Wide Web, according to the Rangoon-based Living Color magazine.Up to this point in Burma only companies and businessmen with close ties to the military leaders were able to access and use email, according to a business source in Rangoon.

    Although there are no Internet cafés in Burma, there are some email shops in Rangoon where email is available. "There are four or five shops near Sule Pagoda (in downtown Rangoon). However, it is not a legal business," explained a journal editor in Rangoon. The customers are reportedly allowed to send and receive emails as well as use CD-ROMs, but access to the World Wide Web is prohibited.

    Burmese communication systems still remain the lowest in all of Southeast Asia, according to this month’s issue of Living Color, which is published by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt’s son, Ye Naing Win.

    However, tourists and business travelers can legally email from some of the more expensive hotels. A tourist who recently visited Rangoon said that, "I wrote an email from one of the expensive hotels (the Kandawgyi Palace), and I had to pay two dollars for ten minutes and then an extra two dollars for every email that I sent. I thought this was very expensive and quite unusual."

    A dozen businesses in Burma now also have websites but they do not have email accounts where they can receive feedback or answer questions regarding their services. "Sometimes I want to contact them (Burmese websites), but they have no email address. So giving feedback is a problem," said a Burmese student in Thailand.
    Shans calls for refugee camps in Thailand

    Shan Herald Agency for News--17 September 2001-No: 09 - 08:

    Amid warnings by some Thai government agencies to send back Karen and Karenni refugees to Burma as early as possible, Shans in Thailand have decided to campaign for the establishment of havens for hundreds of thousands of their countrymen who have fled from Burma.

    Some 50 representatives from Shan organizations and individuals that participated in the two-day seminar, 15-16 September, made their decision yesterday.

    "The Burmese don't want us and are doing all they can to ruin our lives," said a participant from eastern Shan State. "We had to work for them when we should have been working in our rice-fields. They then demanded we sold them our produce at K. 300 per basket when the price was K. 1,200 at the market. They confiscated our land at will for themselves or to sell them to Wa and Chinese. What could we do except flee?"

    He claimed that a few years ago, eastern Shan State, roughly one-third of the whole area of Shan State (160,000 square kilometers), had a population of 2.5 million. "Now they say there's only 1.9 million. So where has the good part of the 600,000 absentees gone if not to Thailand," he asked.

    According to Shan Human Rights Foundation's report, Dispossessed, 300,000 people from southern Shan State were forcibly relocated in 1996-98 a third of which had escaped into Thailand. No statistics have been kept since, but estimates run as high as 200,000 more coming in 1998-2001.

    Of which a mere 8,241 are being taken care by the Shan humanitarian organizations:Maehongson 4,437,Chiangrai 898,Chiangmai 2,906.

    The elected 7-person Campaign Committee for Shan Refugees was led by Shans born in Thailand: Thanu Wittayakarnyuthakul (Chairperson) from Maehongson; Bawdin Kinawong (Vice Chairperson) from Chaingrai and Prasert Pradit (General Secretary) from Maehongson."We'll try to get at least 'temporary shelters' for them," Thanu a.k.a Ood vowed.

    Only Karens and Karenni were permitted by the Thai government to set up refugee camps. The majority of Shans, known as invisible refugees who are ethno-liguistic cousins of Thais, in the meanwhile, have been designated illegal immigrants.

    One participant however expressed disappointment with the absence of some prominent members of the Shan community who are against setting up camps. "I think they should have been invited", he confided to S.H.A.N.; "Those people don't have any better alternative to offer anyway and anything they said would easily have been voted down."
    Education System must base on Human Resources Development

    source : Network Media Group
    Chiang Mai, September 17.

    Burmese Oppositions and Ethnic leaders hold an Education Seminar

    An Education seminar was held on Thai-Burma border from September 10 to 13 organized by National Health and Education Committee (NHEC), said a spoke person from NHEC. During the four days long seminar, curriculum development and teaching ethnic language were the topics to discussed in the seminar and Burma's education system must be based on the Human Resources Development, said Dr. Thein Lwin, academic coordinator of NHEC who recently got his PhD. from England.

    The seminar is the part of the two years education program of NHEC and attended by more than 50 representatives of the educational personnel from Burmese opposition and ethnic groups and youth groups. Five education experts from England, Norway, Philippines, India and Thailand also joined the education seminar. The New York based Open Society Institute and Danish Burma Council supported the seminar, said a spoke person from NHEC.

    "SPDC's education system is centralized education system. The system and the curriculum were based on some politically motivated propaganda which makes the students to accept the military rule," said Dr. Thein Lwin. "Burma's education system must base on the Human Resources Development," he continues.

    A similar education seminar was held during last April and discussed on the children's education opportunity and real situation, also said Dr. Thein Lwin.

    The National Health and Education Committee is a non-governmental organization and has been working on Health and Education on Burma and border areas for more than 10 years.
    Myanmar's Domestic Tax Revenue Up in First Half of 2001

    YANGON, September 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar's State Internal Revenue Department (SIRD) collected a total of 40.968 billion Kyats (86.79 million U.S. dollars) in domestic revenue from various taxes in the first half of this year, up 6.8 percent from the same period of 2000, according to the latest official Economic Indicators.

    Of the revenue obtained during the six-month period, 50.95 percent were from commodities and services taxes and commercial tax, 28.9 percent from income tax, 10.06 percent from profit tax, 8.14 percent from state lottery, and 1.95 percent from stamp duties.

    In Myanmar, individual citizen having an income amounting to 10, 001 Kyats (about 22.2 U.S. dollars) and above are assessed to tax under the country's Income Tax Law which also covers cooperatives, companies and joint venture enterprises. However, salary recipients are not required to pay for income tax as the tax has been paid by way of deduction at their income sources, according to the SIRD.

    According to official statistics, Myanmar received 53.25 billion Kyats (152.14 million dollars) in domestic revenue from various taxes in 2000.