Daily News-September 21 - 2001- Friday

  • Busting bras for Burma
  • Center turns away Burmese blood donors
  • Chinese congress vice-chairman meets Burmese delegation
  • Myanmar to Build First Coal-Burning Power Station
  • Suu Kyi marks a year in confinement
  • Crop-switch move okayed

  • Busting bras for Burma

    By SEan Healy

    SYDNEY-- Holding signs saying "Support breasts not dictators", 100 supporters of labour rights gathered in fromt of the Grace Borthers department store in the Pitt Street Mall on August 28 to protest underwear manufacture Triumph's presence in Burma.

    The Swiss-based garment company operates a factory in the Burmese capital Rangoon, on an estate rented from the military.The Burmese military regime is notorious for its violation of labour and human rights conventions, including suppressing free trade unions and kidnapping, torturing and murdering labour rights advocates.

    The crowd, including representatives of several Australian trade unions, the Burmese community and anti-sweatshop group Fairwear, staged a ceremonial cutting up of a Triumph bra (the police would not allow a burning).

    Fairwear spokesperson Lixa Wriley told Green Left Weekly that the campaign would next target retailers, including Myers-Grace Brothers, David Jones, K-mart and target, seeking to get them pull Triumph products from their stores.

    Triumph issued a statement of the day of the protest, saying that it "does not comment on the political climate in any country where we operate".

    Similar campaigns in the United States has had considerable success, with the Sara Lee corporation, which manufactures Hanes brand T-sharts, announcing plans to pull out of Burma following a concerted campaign by sweatshop opponents. The company is the 16th to pull out of Burma in the last year.
    Center turns away Burmese blood donors

    The Japan Times: Sept. 21, 2001

    The Japanese Red Cross Society has turned away a dozen Burmese residents wanting to donate blood, saying HIV risk-assessment interviews cannot be effectively conducted with foreigners, a group representing Burmese residents said Thursday.

    Members of the League for Democracy in Burma visited a blood donation depot on June 17 in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, hoping to perform a good deed prior to the June 19 birthday of Burmese's prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, they said. One of the members speaks Japanese.

    According to the league, the Red Cross has previously accepted blood donations from its members. The Red Cross later apologized to the group, promising to accept their blood should they return in the future, the group said.

    The group accused the Red Cross of discrimination. A Red Cross official rejected the accusation, saying workers at the depot were unaccustomed to foreigners.
    Chinese congress vice-chairman meets Burmese delegation

    Xinhua (New China News Agency)

    Beijing, 20 September: Bu He, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), Thursday [20 September] met with a delegation of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) of the Union of Myanmar [Burma].

    The delegation, headed by U Than Shwe, central executive committee member of USDA and minister at the Prime Minister's Office of Myanmar [Burma], are here as guests of the Chinese Association for International Understanding.
    Myanmar to Build First Coal-Burning Power Station

    YANGON, September 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar will build its first coal-burning electric power station in the country's northeastern Shan state to help fulfill the nation's power requirement, according to sources at the state-run Myanma Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) Thursday.

    The 120-megawatt (mw) coal-burning power project is to be implemented by the MEPE with the cooperation of the state-run Myanma Mining Enterprise in Pinlaung township of the state with the use of coal mined in the township's Tikyit area, it said. It added that Myanmar will import the main equipment from abroad for the project.

    Meanwhile, the MEPE is also implementing five hydro-power plants in the country, namely Paunglaung, Zaungtu, Mone, Thaphanseik and Maipan. Three of them are being built by China.

    Official statistics show that in 2000, electric power generated by the MEPE went to 5.028 billion kilowatt-hours, 17 percent more than 1999.

    The statistics also reveal that since 1988, Myanmar's electric power installed generating capacity (IGC) has increased by 509 mw, of which that of natural gas power plants rose by 255 mw, while that of steam power ones by 143 mw and that of hydropower ones by 111 mw. The IGC of the MEPE remained at 1,172 mw at the end of June this year, according to the statistics.
    Suu Kyi marks a year in confinement

    YANGON, Sept. 21(REUTERS)- Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spent the last year locked inside her Yangon house, cut off from contact and with her voice silenced, yet she has come closer than ever to a political breakthrough.

    In the early hours of September 22 last year, police forcibly ended an attempt by the 56-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate to leave Yangon and escorted her back to her lakeside house. For the past year she has remained there, with her telephone cut, and with only a handful of foreign diplomats given permission to see her.

    But while the ruling generals have tried to keep her out of sight, they have also begun an unprecedented dialogue with her on Myanmar's political future, and offered a series of olive branches to the opposition after years of repression.Few details of the talks have emerged, and the dialogue has not passed beyond the stage of confidence-building.

    But for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won Myanmar's last election in 1990 by a landslide but was never allowed to govern, the talks have provided hope.

    ''There was no understanding or mutual confidence between us before September 22, 2000. We have now gained some understanding and reached the confidence-building stage,'' NLD Secretary U Lwin told Reuters. ''But there is still plenty of room for improvement. As you all know, our leader still faces restrictions and there are a number of our members in prison.''


    The start of dialogue was welcomed by the international community and by representatives of Myanmar's many ethnic groups. But the goodwill will not last forever. Opposition members and ethnic groups are pressing for more transparency and for concrete signs of progress, to prove the dialogue is more than just a public relations exercise.

    ''Of course nobody can expect too much too quickly, but there is still real doubt about whether the government is serious about these talks,'' said one Western diplomat in Yangon. ''Until Aung San Suu Kyi is free to speak her mind, and to give her verdict on the talks, that doubt will stay.''

    Suu Kyi, daughter of Myanmar independence hero Aung San who was assassinated when she was a child, was held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995. Over the past decade hundreds of NLD members have been harassed and detained.

    Last year Suu Kyi twice tried to travel outside Yangon in defiance of government restrictions on her movements. When the government blocked her car south of Yangon in August 2000 she spent more than a week in a roadside standoff that drew international condemnation of Myanmar's military government. Her attempt to travel to the city of Mandalay by rail a year ago was also blocked -- the government claimed no tickets were available and removed Suu Kyi from the station before launching a widespread crackdown on the NLD.

    But the start of talks with Suu Kyi in October last year was marked by a thawing of the military's stance. More than 150 NLD detainees have been released over the past year, and the NLD and government have agreed to stop public attacks on each other.

    ''It has certainly been a year of progress,'' the diplomat said. ''But what we need now is an end to the restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi.''
    (With additional reporting by Andrew Marshall in Bangkok)
    Crop-switch move okayed

    source : the Bangkokpost
    Yuwadee Tunyasiri

    Rangoon and the Wa have welcomed Bangkok's offer to encourage ethnic minorities to stop growing drugs, says Prime Minister Office's Minister Gen Thammarak Issarangkura na Ayuthaya.

    A Thai delegation led by a deputy chief of the Narcotics Control Board had been sent to the North for talks about anti-drug schemes proposed by Thailand, and backed by Burmese and Wa authorities at a meeting in Beijing.

    Thailand had offered to help Burma and the Wa grow and promote plants such as grape, lychee, longan and coffee in return for co-operation on fighting drugs, he said.

    "During the recent Thai-Burmese regional border control meeting, Burma proposed joint patrol operations. This shows that a better relationship benefits talks at various levels and also leads to collaboration," he said.

    Burmese military leaders say they want to make Burma drug-free by 2005. Anti-drug programmes under the Thai government's Palang Phaendin strategy were going well, with more budget money approved for fiscal 2002.