Daily News-September 22 - 2001- Saturday

  • Aung San Suu Kyi marks year under house arrest, no sign of release
  • Gen Than Shwe sent message of sympathy to US
  • Rangoon blames dissidents for reports linking Burmese troops to Bin-Ladin
  • Rangoon blames dissidents for reports linking Burmese troops to Bin-Ladin
  • For Myanmar, it's business as usual
  • Locals horrified over US events
  • Passenger Bus Ambushed
  • Myanmar Textile Supply Falls Short of Demand
  • Relieved Survivors of Capsized Ship in Cape Town

  • Aung San Suu Kyi marks year under house arrest, no sign of release

    RANGOON, Sept 21 (AFP) -Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will by Saturday have spent one year confined to her lakeside home on the orders of Burma's junta, which has given no indication of when she will be released.

    Despite the restrictions, the Nobel peace laureate has had a productive 12 months, embarking on landmark talks with the military and receiving a stream of high-profile international visitors.

    Sources close to the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader say that during her long struggle against the generals in Rangoon she has used the periods of house arrest as an opportunity to meditate and reflect. This time, she has also been allowed to receive top officials from her party, as well as envoys from the United Nations, the European Union, the US State Department and the International Labor Organisation.

    Aung San Suu Kyi and all her party's central committee members were placed under house arrest last September 22, after attempting to journey by train to the northern city of Mandalay in defiance of the junta's travel ban. The move, initially announced as "temporary detention", saw military intelligence officers placed around the residences and a block on all diplomats and journalists from visiting the pro-democracy figures.

    Most analysts believe Aung San Suu Kyi will not emerge from the rambling residence until the talks with the junta which began last October have reached a stage where they can withstand intense public scrutiny. So far, the secret dialogue with the ruling State Peace and Development Council appears not to have progressed past the initial confidence-building phase.

    Some Burma-watchers believe the junta has no intention of giving up power, and that it entered the reconciliation process only to try to loosen international sanctions and rid itself of its status as a pariah regime.

    US financier George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation has a major project focused on Burma, said he was doubtful the process would produce a flowering of democracy after four decades of military rule.

    "I'll believe it when I see it. There have been too many false starts in that country," he told business leaders in Hong Kong Thursday, in an address broadcast at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand.

    Despite the scepticism, Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be taking an extremely serious approach to the dialogue, which has yielded the release of nearly 200 dissidents including her two top lieutenants at the NLD. The junta claims the democracy leader is cooperating with the limitations of her own free will. "It's her own choice of seclusion," said minister attached to the prime minister's office, Tin Win, recently.

    But diplomats say that by refusing to accept the junta's offers to leave the house on key occasions, including ceremonies to honour her father, assassinated national founder General Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi is making it clear she will have total freedom or none at all.

    "She does want to meet with people but she certainly wants to have freedom," one diplomat said, referring to the high-level envoys who have been driven to the rambling house on University Drive. "She doesn't want to give a semblance of normality to a situation which is anything other than normal," another diplomat said.
    Gen Than Shwe sent message of sympathy to US

    Information Sheet N0. B-1962 (I/L) 21st September, 2001

    This office is presenting the message of sympathy sent by H.E. Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council and Prime Minister of the Union of Myanmar to the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States of America on the 12 of September 2001 for your information.

    The Honorable George W.Bush
    President of the United States of America

    I was deeply shocked by the news of the dreadful violence perpetrated in the cities of Washington D.C, New York and Pittsburgh on 11 September 2001.

    At this tragic hour, the people and Government of the Union of Myanamr join me in offering our heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of the United States of America.

    Senior General Than Shwe
    Chairman State Peace and Development Council
    Rangoon blames dissidents for reports linking Burmese troops to Bin-Ladin

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 21, 2001

    Text of report from Information Sheet No. B-1958(I/L) issued by the "Myanmar Information Committee" in Rangoon on 20 September in English by Myanmar Information Committee web site on 20 September; subheading as published

    Dissident groups launching terrorist attacks on world travellers

    The government and the people of Myanmar [Burma] are quite surprised to learn that in Europe there is a malicious rumour going around stating that the Myanmar soldiers are going to join Usamah Bin-Ladin's forces.

    It is indeed regretful to come across such an ill-intended rumour deliberately created and spread by certain dissident groups to cause fear and concern among the innocent, potential and visiting tourists to Myanmar as well as to hurt the growing tourism sector which Myanmar is enjoying today.

    The world community has not yet recovered from the effects of the tragic incident which took place in New York and Washington, DC last week. Exploiting this tragically unprecedented incident for a vested interest is indeed tantamount to launching a terrorist attack on the innocent world travellers and the people of Myanmar.
    Burmese authorities reject reports troops linked to Bin-Ladin

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 21, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 20 September

    The SPDC's [State Peace and Development Council] Information Committee issued a statement today, noting reports about a connection between SPDC military government troops and troops of Usamah Bin-Ladin, who is wanted in connection with terrorist attacks on New York in the United States. The said committee dismissed these reported as unfounded rumours.

    The information committee also noted widespread reports in Europe of preparations being made by Burmese troops to fight on the side of Usamah Bin-Ladin. The committee said these reports are being spread deliberately by exiled anti-government troops to discredit the government and to prevent tourists from visiting Burma.

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has contacted Europe-based Burmese democracy groups but they said they have not heard the rumours although they are aware of the statement issued by the SPDC Information Committee.

    In a letter to the International Herald Tribune, citing the newspaper's article of 17 September on the existence of terrorist organizations in Burma, the SPDC embassy in Washington stated that the Burmese government opposed terrorism and that there are no terrorist organizations in Burma.
    For Myanmar, it's business as usual

    By Myo Lwin and Thet Khaing
    Myanmar Times-September 17-23, 2001 -Volume 5, No.81

    THE terrorist attacks in the US appear to have had little or no impact on the business community in Yangon. A wholesaler at Mingala Zay,Yangon biggest consumer goods market, said business there was normal.

    She said initial concerns about currency fluctuations had not been realised. She said most of the commodities being traded in Yangon are from Thailand and China, with few products originating from the United States.

    In Bayintnaung, Yangon's major wholesale trade centre, most traders said they did not expect any changes because of the attacks."We do not have direct trade with the United States. So business here has not been affected by the attacks," wholesaler U Ann Kauk told Myanmar Times.

    But, he added that an economy such as Taiwan would be greatly affected by the attacks because 70 per cent of its exports are destined for the US.

    U Chan Mya, the general manager of Asia Wealth Bank, the country's biggest private financial institution, said the attacks would not effect the banking sector as Myanmar bankers were only allowed to handle the local currency.

    The secretary-general of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, U Zaw Min Win, said the impact on the business community would be minimal because of the small amount of trade with the US.

    However, the attacks have been followed by a sharp increase in the price of gold. Prices of the precious metal jumped K3000 to K97,000 a tical in the days following the attacks. Even though gold prices usually rise at this time of the year, the increase was a direct effect of the strikes in the US, a spokesperson for Shwe-bon-tha jewellery shop told Myanmar Times.

    The strikes have created brisk business for newspapers and journals. On Wednesday, one day after the attacks, a copy of Kyemon (Mirror) was selling at K100, well up on its price of K10 a copy. The Myanmar edition of the Myanmar Times was selling at K300, although its cover price is K195.
    Locals horrified over US events

    By Myanmar Times reporters
    Myanmar Times-September 17-23, 2001-Volume 5, No.81

    REACTIONS in Yangon to the deadly terror attacks in the United States last Tuesday ranged from an immediate tightening of security at the American embassy to expressions and shock and disbelief among residents.

    The security precautions at the US embassy on Merchant Road were clearly visible. Barricades on the footpath outside the embassy building were moved onto the road and at least two police vans were deployed at the site around the clock. Apart from essential personnel,all local staff were sent home until further notice. Security was also tightened at Washington Park, the official residence for American diplomats on Pyay Road.

    The US State Department has warned Americans around the world to remain vigilant and keep a low profile. Other embassies, including those of Australia, Britain, France, Israel, Italy and Japan, were operating normally. The Australian Ambassador, Mr Trevor Wilson, was among the Yangon residents who expressed shock at the attacks, saying that many Australians were among the victims of the attacks. Some residents were outspoken in their condemnation of the attacks.

    Out on the streets of the capital a man in a coffee shop told Myanmar Times he was saddened by the deaths of thousands of innocent people.Such a reaction typified that of Myanmar people Foreign tourists also expressed disbelief at news of the attacks. Duncan Russell, 23, from Britain said his initial reaction was one of "total shock." He said television footage of the attack on the World Trade Centre was "like something out of a horror movie." Mr Russell said his shock had not been diminished by watching repeated television footage of the attacks.

    A 25-year-old Swiss tourist who asked to be identified only as Caroline said the attack was "something that would change the way people think all around the world." "An incident like this hurts all of us as humans," she said. "You think America is untouchable and when something like this happens you realise that terrorists can strike anyone, anywhere. "I hope they can find a way to punish people who do things like this without harming innocent lives. "We have no choice, we have to do something. We have to stop it now," she said.
    Passenger Bus Ambushed

    By Chan Mya Aye
    source : The Irrawaddy

    September 21, 2001-Two Burmese soldiers and two civilians were killed in the Tenasserim Division of southern Burma last week when an unidentified group ambushed a passenger bus that was being safeguarded by military troops, according to sources in the Tenasserim Division. The attack occurred near the village of Mayang Chaung on the Tavoy-Yae highway on September 14th as the bus was making its way to Rangoon from Tavoy.

    "The junta has not said who is responsible for this attack, but it might be a group of former New Mon State Party members," a man living in Tavoy, captial of Tenasserim Division, told The Irrawaddy.

    The group reportedly fired on the soldiers with both machine guns and grenade launchers. Twenty civilians on the bus were also injured in the attack. The injured were taken to a hospital in the Ka Laine Aung district of Yepyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

    The soldiers were from Infantry Unit 282 and were being led by Captain Win Maung. There were also soldiers from a local anti-insurgency militia who were accompanying the government troops when the attack occurred. The attack is currently being investigated by local authorities.

    "This attack has shown that peace in the Tenasserim Division is still a long way away," said a villager from Tavoy.The New Mon State Party signed a cease fire agreement with Burma’s military regime in June of 1995.
    Myanmar Textile Supply Falls Short of Demand

    YANGON, September 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar textile industry can at present meet only 13 percent and 9 percent of the nation's yarn and cloth demands respectively, according to sources with the country's Ministry of Industry No.1 Friday.

    The demand for Myanmar's growing population, which has reached 52 million now, is 1.699 kilograms of cotton yarn and 14.624 meters of cloth per capita per year, while the country requires 85, 158 tons of cotton yarn and 732.662 million meters of cloth.

    To meet the demand, the government has agreed with two Chinese companies to build three textile plants in Salingyi, Pakokku and Pwintbyu areas in central Myanmar.

    The two Chinese companies, which will install the plants, are China National Import and Agricultural Machinery Import and Export Corporation and Tianjin Machinery Import and Export Corporation ( Group).

    The prior one will undertake the Salingyi project, while the other will implement the Pakokku and Pwintbyu projects. The three mills will start running respectively in 2002 and 2003. The capacity of the three mills totaled 89,280 spinning wheels and 2,256 automatic looms and will generate over 10,000 jobs for the local people.

    The sources said that after the completion, the first and the second plants will each similarly produce 1,707 tons of carded yarn and 10.364 million meters of grey fabric, while the third plant will produce 648,312 kg of yarn, 648,312 kg of PC yarn, 4. 559 million meters of poplin and 4.559 million meters of PC cloth.

    The completion of the three plants will also be followed by building of more textile and garment factories in three other areas. The sources disclosed that to supply enough cotton to the factories, the government has designated the area from Thayet on the west bank of the Ayeyawaddy River in Southwestern Magway division to Salingyi on the west bank of the Chindwin River in northwestern Sagaing division as a special cotton belt which will produce quality long-staple cotton.

    Meanwhile, a total of 262,440 hectares of land will be put under cotton in the belt to produce 179,000 tons of cotton per year.
    Relieved Survivors of Capsized Ship in Cape Town

    September 21, 2001
    Monde Dlakavu
    Cape Town

    THE traumatised survivors of the Kamikawa Maru cargo ship, which capsized in the Atlantic ocean last week, looked relieved as they stepped onto South African soil.

    The 13 survivors are from Korea and Myanmar, formerly Burma.A further 10 crewmen, including the captain and his officers, are believed to be missing.

    The survivors were airlifted from the Aldebaran, by Canadian Helicopter Co-operation Africa (CHC Africa) about 32 nautical miles off the South African coast yesterday and taken to Cape Town Harbour.The Aldebaran had gone to the aid of the troubled Kamikawu Maru, and had plucked the survivors from a lifeboat.

    Members of the crew, who were dressed in all-weather jackets, did not speak to anyone and were whisked away to a city hotel.It is expected that they will be flown to their respective countries only once it has been established what happened to the Kamikawu Maru.

    While there are few details of what happened, it appears that the crew abandoned the ship in two lifeboats but one of the lifeboats has not been found.

    The bulk carrier was carrying a cargo of iron ore from Brazil to Japan when she ran into heavy weather half way across the Atlantic and was badly damaged.The South African tug John Ross, which sailed from Cape Town last week to the Kamikawa, has arrived in the area where the ship was last seen, but has not found it yet.The ship was last seen floating upside down.