Daily News-September 19 - 2001- Wednesday

  • ILO team to meet Myanmar generals before heading to Shan, Karen states
  • Forced labour 'unlikely to end'
  • One more Shan party official forced to resign
  • DVB : Government team investigates departmental news leak in Kawthaung
  • Burma's Khin Nyunt on "false accusations" against country's AIDS campaigns
  • Ship rescues crew from sunken Japanese vessel off Brazil
  • Chinese army chief meets Burmese air force commander

  • ILO team to meet Myanmar generals before heading to Shan, Karen states

    YANGON, Sept 17 (AFP) - International Labour Organisation (ILO) experts investigating forced labor in Myanmar are expected to meet with top junta officials over the next three days before setting off to the border regions, sources said Tuesday.

    The ILO, which has insisted its four-member team of eminent jurists be given total freedom in the military-run country, is keeping the schedule secret.

    But government sources said the mission, led by former Australian governor general Sir Ninian Stephen, met with Foreign Minister Win Aung and top military intelligence officials after arriving in Yangon Monday.And over the next few days they were expected to see various government ministers including from the foreign, home and social welfare ministries.They are also scheduled to meet with the chief justice and attorney-general before visiting industrial zones and social welfare establishments around Yangon.

    "Though we are not privy to their exact plans... we think they will then target the Karen and Shan states, where most of the complaints on forced labor appear to have come from," a labor department official said.

    Emphasizing their independence from the military regime, the team declined to accept accommodation arrangements made for them at the five-star Traders hotel in Yangon and instead chose the equally upmarket Pan Sea.

    The junta is by all accounts taking the visit extremely seriously, stung by an unprecedented censure at the ILO last year over its failure to crack down on forced labor, and under threat of more sanctions if the practice continued.

    "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 labor situation," the organization said in a statement from Bangkok.In a bid to fend off the ILO censure, the junta in November made forced labor illegal for the first time and said its directive had been "circulated right down to the village level and posted in every police station."

    But it remains unclear how the ban is being enforced, and how effective it has been against military personnel fighting border insurgencies, who for decades have enlisted villagers to work as porters and guides.Rights groups say nearly a million Myanmar people have been forced into building roads, ports and tourist resorts as well as assisting in military maneuvres on the unstable borders.
    Forced labour 'unlikely to end'

    The Nation (BKK) Published on Sep 19, 2001

    It was unlikely the Burmese government could ever stop its use of forced labour if the regime's "bankrupt situation" was taken into consideration, a leading human rights organisation said yesterday.

    In a statement released yesterday, the Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) said the Burmese regime had been preparing for a visit by a team from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which will hold meetings with opposition officials and foreign diplomats in Rangoon today.

    The ILO team is visiting the country to verify if the Burmese junta has ended their practice of forced labour - an allegation Rangoon has consistently denied.

    The NDD said the Burmese government had taken several measures, including sending out instructions to their military commanders throughout the country to stop all forced labour. The network, which claimed to have first-hand accounts of the much condemned practice, said Burmese convicts were still forced to do work.

    "From 6am to 6pm they are made to work without a break. Clearing jungle, removing tree stumps, digging ditches and dams and weirs, ploughing fields, planting and harvesting are some of the work," an NDD statement said.

    The four ILO team members met with Burma's opposition members yesterday, and is expected to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi later on their visit.
    One more Shan party official forced to resign

    Shan Herald Agency for News-18 September 2001-No: 09 - 09

    Military authorities had forced yet another Shan political party functionary to resign, a source from Taunggyi reported this morning. Sai Panlu, 40, from Banyen, Hsiseng Township, 30 miles south of Taunggyi, had submitted the letter of resignation to the Hsiseng Electoral Commission on 3 September, citing health and livelihood problems.

    Until then, he had been serving as the secretary of the township party branch of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the largest winning party in Shan State and the second largest winning party in the whole of Burma.

    "I'm not surprised," the source commented. "Prominent party members always run into junta-made difficulties when trying to make a living."

    He was credited as being an active Shan literacy campaign, known popularly as Five Horses Campaign, until the SNLD was formed in 1988, according to Sai Aung Mart, former Joint Secretary of the party.

    Two party branches so far have been ordered by the authorities to dissolve: one from Langkher, 114 miles southeast of Taunggyi, on 21 January and the other from Mongkerng, 108 miles northeast of Taunggyi, on 28 May.
    DVB : Government team investigates departmental news leak in Kawthaung

    Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) on 17 September

    DVB has learned that a special investigation team from Rangoon has arrived in Kawthaung to investigate the leaking of departmental news of Kawthaung Township, Tenasserim Division, to foreign broadcasting stations.The team comprises eight staff officers with the rank of colonel and it has been learned that they are questioning all departmental staff members in Kawthaung. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report:

    [Myint Maung Maung] A special investigation team comprising eight staff officers with the rank of colonel arrived in Kawthaung on 10 September. The team is questioning each and every departmental staff member regarding the leaking of departmental news of Kawthaung Township, Tenasserim Division, to foreign broadcasting stations. They are collecting information about their personal history, relationship with the NLD, and participation in the 8 August 1988 nationwide mass demonstrations.

    The team told those responsible to keep records of the goings and comings of departmental staff members and reminded them of the existence of national traitors. The team questioned Maj Aung Myint, secretary of Kawthaung District Peace and Development Council [PDC], and Capt Kyaw Win, chairman of Kawthaung Township PDC, on 13 September and reprimanded them, saying the news leakage was due to their lack of responsibility. This is the team's first visit to Kawthaung and it is believed that they will be coming again soon.
    Burma's Khin Nyunt on "false accusations" against country's AIDS campaigns

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 17, 2001

    The 33rd meeting of the National Health Committee [NHC] was held at the meeting hall of the Health Ministry on Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Road in Dagon Township, Yangon [Rangoon] at 1400 [all times local] today. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] secretary-1 and NHC chairman, attended the meeting and delivered an address.

    The secretary-1 said: the NHC is implementing the tasks systematically in accord with the guidance of SPDC Chairman Than Shwe and the resolutions of the NHC meetings. SPDC chairman has laid down the five tasks for rural development. The two tasks supply of clean drinking water and providing effective health care services to the people in the rural areas directly and are directly concerned with the Ministry of Health. Therefore, these tasks are to be implemented with the cooperation of related ministries. Sr Gen Than Shwe gave guidance on efforts for production of potent medicines and providing effective diagnosis and treatment regarding common diseases in Myanmar [Burma].

    Efforts are being made for production of potent medicines in the country for treatment of malaria, diabetes, hypertension, and dysentery. Moreover, research is being conducted for production of traditional medicines that can cure those diseases, with modern methods. Production of anti-malaria drugs from Cinchona tree and Artemesia tree is now ready to begin. There are potent traditional medicines to cure hypertension and diabetes and research work is successful. The people have accepted those potent traditional medicines and there are a lot of high quality medicines. Much progress has been made in the traditional medicine sector due to the government's encouragement and united cooperation of traditional medicine practitioners...

    Although Myanmar is systematically carrying out anti-HIV and AIDS works, it is not widely publicized in the international circle. There were false accusations about the campaigns by unscrupulous people. It is clearly known HIV and anti-AIDS tasks are being undertaken with increased momentum. Efforts are to be made for publicity in international circles and social associations including women organizations and government departments are widely participating in the tasks. Ways and means are to be sought for international cooperation and arrangements are to be made for implementation of bilateral cooperation in the health sector between Myanmar-Thailand and combating diseases in the border areas in accord with the bilateral agreement.

    He called for continued efforts for construction of a new modern psychiatric hospital and construction of health research centre in central Myanmar and implementing regular tasks under the National Health Plans...
    Ship rescues crew from sunken Japanese vessel off Brazil

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 17, Kyodo - A Panamanian-flagged ship has rescued another crew member of the Japanese-owned vessel which sank Thursday in the Atlantic 2,200 kilometers off the Rio de Janeiro coast, Brazilian port authorities said Monday.

    The Panamanian-flagged Pole Star rescued Soe Naing, a 29-year-old Myanmar national, late Friday and is heading for Capetown in South Africa where it is due Friday.

    ''He was on a life boat when we rescued him. He has endured 10- meter-high waves, but fortunately managed to survive,'' South Korean ship captain Xin Yong Jae told Kyodo News over the radio.

    Two other ships which sailed close to the area at the moment of the accident had rescued 13 members of the Kamikawa Maru which belongs to Japanese shipping firm Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., according to local authorities.

    There were four crew members from South Korea and 19 from Myanmar, according to the crew list the South Korean Consulate in Sao Paulo has supplied.

    The South Koreans among the missing crew members are captain Gim Seang Min, Im Chul Ho, Gang Su Mo and Chong Kwang Su. The missing crew from Myanmar include U Soe Win Myint, Ko Ko Gyi, Win Aung, Aye Win and Saw Maung Thein.

    The Kamiwaka Maru sank Thursday after seawater flooded one of the holds through a lid which broke in a storm, authorities said. The ship had left port on the Guaiba Island 100 kilometers west of Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 7 and was bound to Kashima carrying 140,000 tones of iron ore, according to port authorities.

    The ongoing rescue operations coordinated by the Brazilian Navy include two ships and an air force plane which keeps flying over the area. The Japanese firm has dispatched a vessel to the area from Argentina to participate in the operations, according to the navy department in charge of the rescue missions.
    Chinese army chief meets Burmese air force commander

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 18, 2001
    Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

    Beijing, 18 September: Fu Quanyou, chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, met here Tuesday with Myint Swe, commander-in-chief of Air Force of Myanmar [Burma], and his party.

    Fu, also a member of the Central Military Commission, said that China and Myanmar are good-neighbourly countries, and the friendship between the two countries remains unchanged despite changing international situation.

    He noted that the military relations between the two countries have kept developing, and the cooperation between the air forces of the two countries, in particular, is satisfactory. China will maintain and further the existing relations with Myanmar.

    Myint Swe said that Myanmese armed forces attach importance to its relations with their Chinese counterpart, and is ready to promote bilateral cooperation in all fields.