Daily News-September 26 - 2001- Wednesday

  • DVB says people coerced to lie to ILO team
  • Australia Quick to Award Junta
  • Malaysia, Myanmar Sign Cooperation Agreement

  • DVB says people coerced to lie to ILO team

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 24, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 23 September

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the visiting ILO [International Labour Organization] high-level teams have begun their study tour in Buthidaung, Arakan State and Kanbauk region in Tenasserim Division.

    An ILO team departed Rangoon by air yesterday for Akyab and has arrived in Maungdaw today. U Than Nyunt, office in charge of Maungdaw UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees], is expected to guide the ILO study group on the tour of the region.

    DVB has learned that Col Kyaw Thein from the Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence [DDSI] accompanied the group to Maungdaw. The ILO study group consisting 12 members arrived in Rangoon last Monday [17 September] to examine the use of forced labour in Burma.

    Although there were rumours that the team will first visit the Karen and Shan States, unexpectedly the ILO team split into two groups and went to Maungdaw and Kanbauk regions. Col Hla Min from the DDSI led the group to Kanbauk. The region, adjacent to the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] natural gas pipeline project, is well known for human rights abuses such as the use of forced labour, confiscation of land, and the forced relocation of villages.

    This is the first time that an ILO study team has been permitted to go on a study tour in Burma. The SPDC has assured the ILO that its team members will be free to travel but according to news received by DVB the local people have been coerced not to tell the truth to the ILO study group.
    Australia Quick to Award Junta

    By Kyaw Zwa Moe
    The Irrawaddy

    September 25, 2001--Despite the International Labor Organization's (ILO) ongoing investigation of the alleged continued use of forced labor in Burma, the Australian government has sent a team of aid workers to Burma in recognition of recent efforts by the junta to improve its political landscape.

    The aim of the team is to eradicate mal-nutrition among children in the country,said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. The team will spend three weeks training workers at Burma's Department of Health.

    Mr Downer said he was encouraged by the release last month from house arrest of National League for Democracy (NLD) Chairman Aung Shwe and Vice-Chairman Tin Oo.

    "However, we remain deeply concerned that many Burmese citizens remain imprisoned for their political beliefs and we will continue to impress the importance of further prisoner releases," he said in a statement.

    While some Burmese residents welcome the humanitarian aid put forth by the Australia government others feel it is a bit to early to congratulate the junta.

    "Any aid to Burma now is premature," a university student in Rangoon says. "We have yet to see if the ongoing talks between the NLD and the SPDC will bear any positive results," he adds.

    In 1999 Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi asked the Australian Government to halt its engagement policy with the junta. In a video smuggled out of Burma in 1999, she said, "Sometimes we are a little concerned that the policies of the Australian Government may not be such that would hasten the process of democratization in Burma."

    Last year, despite Suu Kyi's request and international criticism of Australia's soft approach to Burma's ruling military regime, the Australian government began dispatching a human rights training team to educate civil servants, including both police and prison officials, about human rights.

    Secret talks have been underway in Burma since October of last year between Burma's military government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Details of the talks have not been disclosed.
    Malaysia, Myanmar Sign Cooperation Agreement

    KUALA LUMPUR, September 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Malaysia and Myanmar Tuesday signed two documents to enhance bilateral cooperation in tourism and information.

    The signing of the agreement on cooperation in information and memorandum of understanding on cooperation in tourism was witnessed by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the visiting Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council and Prime Minister of Myanmar Than Shwe.Earlier, both Prime Ministers had a private discussion at Mahathir's office for about an hour before attending a meeting of the two delegations.

    Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told reporters after the meeting that the two leaders had discussed matters concerning ways to improve bilateral relations and trade.He said Myanmar had expressed the hope that more Malaysian companies would invest in the country especially in oil, gas, paper and pulp sectors.

    "We also discussed global current issues especially on the effect of the United States economic slowdown and the need for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries to work closely with each other and not to depend on one market," he said.

    On the political aspect, Syed Hamid said Mahathir had indicated his happiness that the military government of Myanmar had made various progress towards the restoration of democracy in the country.

    Syed Hamid said Malaysia had always stressed that the restoration of democracy in Myanmar should be done in phases that suit the political development in the country."As a member of ASEAN, we'd like to see Myanmar moving to the mainstream," he added.Than Shwe arrived here Tuesday morning on a three-day official visit to Malaysia.