Daily News- August 21- 2002- Wednesday

  • Six students arrested in Myanmar capital: dissident group
  • Democracy Supporters Arrested: Suu Kyi Speaks Out
  • DVB: Dr. Than Nyein's health worsen
  • Mahathir's Meddling Not Welcomed
  • To avoid upsetting Myanmar's generals, Mahathir didn't meet Suu Kyi
  • Thai Police arrest Burmese 'activists' near border

  • Six students arrested in Myanmar capital: dissident group

    BANGKOK, Aug 20 (AFP) - Six students have been arrested by Myanmar's military after one of them staged a peaceful protest in the capital, a dissident group said Tuesday.The All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) said that three university students were arrested on Saturday, a day before final year law student Thet Naung Soe staged a lone protest outside Yangon's city hall.

    Thet Naung Soe himself was arrested after the protest, along with two more students, the group said, adding that all six remain under arrest. Authorities have not released any details.

    "Even though the regime claims to the international community ... that they released some political prisoners and are reducing political suppression, the reality shows there are still arrests and oppression to the activists of the freedom movements in Burma," ABSFU spokesperson Min Naing said in a statement.Burma is the former name of Myanmar.

    "ABFSU have strongly condemned the arrests of these students and call on the regime to release all the students unconditionally," he added.

    On her release from house arrest on May 6, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her party's top priority was to secure the release of some 1,500 political prisoners in the military-ruled country.

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    Democracy Supporters Arrested: Suu Kyi Speaks Out

    By Ko ThetThe Irrawaddy

    August 20, 2002-Nearly three-dozen Thai- based Burmese democracy supporters were arrested today, after Thai police raided two offices and a church in the Thai-Burma border town of Sangklaburi, according to residents there. The move sends a fresh signal to Burmese dissidents in Thailand that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government is poised to stop Burmese pro-democracy groups from operating in Thailand.

    Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told The Irrawaddy today, "It is not appropriate to crackdown on dissidents and pro-democracy supporters who do not break the laws [in their host countries]" She also said that those who have been expressing their political beliefs peacefully should not be harassed.

    The arrests also come less than a week after the London-based Burma Campaign issued a press release warning of a potential crackdown on Thai- based Burmese pro-democracy groups.

    According to reliable sources in Sangklaburi, ten people were arrested while attending an English course at the Democratic Party for New Society's (DPNS) office and four people were arrested at the National League for Democracy's (Liberated Area) (NLD-LA) office. Another 17 individuals-including children- were arrested after Thai police raided the Sangklaburi Fellowship Church. The pastor of the church, Baw Gyi who has a Thai ID card, was also arrested and charged with housing illegal immigrants.

    "We don't know why they arrested our people," says Kyaw Htet, chairperson of the People's Democratic Front (PDF). He added that the police did have an arrest warrant, and that those arrested did not have proper identification cards allowing them to be in Thailand.

    Members of the DPNS, the PDF, the NLD-LA, the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Mon Youth Progressive Organization (MYPO) were among those arrested today. They still remain in custody as of Tuesday night.

    In December 1998, the Thai army raided all offices in Sangklaburi belonging to Burmese pro-democracy groups. Dozens of Burmese pro-democracy organizations are located along the Thai-Burma border.

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    DVB: Dr. Than Nyein's health worsen

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 20 Aug 02

    Dr. Than Nyein, imprison NLD elected representative is in serious health condition. He is suffering from liver problem, heart disease, high-blood pressure and other diseases.

    Dr. Than Nyein was detained at Insein prison for four-year before he was sent to Rangoon hospital and has been suffering from stomach pain and heart diseases. Long ago, human rights activities have been urging the authority to send him to Rangoon General Hospital where he can get better treatment.

    Only on 7th of April, he was sent to Rangoon hospital where he was operated immediately. The doctors later informed his family that he was suffering from gastroenteritis.

    Dr Than Nyein, a NLD member of parliament from Kyauktan township, Rangoon Division, was arrested in October 1997. He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for joining a trip with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to one of the NLD branch offices in Rangoon. Few months before his arrest, authority accused him of opening a clinic without permission and revoked his medical license.

    Furthermore, health condition of U Win Tin, the former chief editor of Hantharwaddy Newspaper and U Htwe Myint (Vice-Chairman of the Democracy Party) who were transferred to Rangoon General Hospital Prison Ward on 27th July are not improved yet. U Win Tin is suffering from pile problem. U Htwe Myint who was prolonged imprisonment by using Article 10/A is suffering from Parkinson's disease and unable to walk.

    DVB has also learnt that U Kyaw Than; a NLD member from Kemmemdine township, Rangoon Division; who is now in Thayet prison is also in serious health condition.

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    Mahathir's Meddling Not Welcomed

    By Kyaw Zwa Moe
    The Irrawaddy

    August 20, 2002 - Malaysia's prime minister is only interfering in Burma's ongoing reconciliation process, say Burmese opposition leaders in and out of the country, claiming his totalitarian views are not desired nor needed. The heated remarks come on the heels of Mohamad Mahathir's two day visit to Rangoon that ended yesterday, in which the Malaysian dictator advised the country's military regime not to rush the country's pending democratic reforms.

    U Khun Tun Oo, chairperson of the Shan National League for Democracy, yesterday told the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) that Mahathir's intrusion into Burma’s political affairs is unwarranted and outside of his jurisdiction.

    In reference to the Malaysian prime minister's remarks that Burma's transition to democracy should be both slow and gradual, U Khun Tun Oo said: "[Mahathir] should not have commented on that, particularly, at this delicate moment. What he says is not only insulting to the ruling State Peace and Development Council, but also to the people of Burma. And these, in fact, are our internal affairs."

    Mahathir warned reporters during his two-day visit of the potential fallout a hasty democratic transition could have: "While we uphold democracy and would like to see democracy practiced in a country, we are also aware the process of change must be gradual. We know from experience it is not easy to handle democracy. If we do not know how to handle it we will end up with anarchy."

    Prominent Shan intellect and academic Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe said Mahathir's rode to reform does not jibe with the country's opposition movement. "I think Mahathir is pushing for change or dialogue in Burma in his way," says Chao- Tzang "But his definition for democracy is not ours."

    Similar sentiments were voiced from other leading Burmese political analysts. A Rangoon-based political observer said: "It does not surprise me that Mahathir and the junta have the same opinion on the establishment of democracy, because both represent authoritarian governments."

    Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese political analyst in exile, told The Irrawaddy, "Mahathir, is not a democrat, it is certain that he will not encourage democracy."

    Sec-1 Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, however, was quick to back up Mahathir's slow vision of reform. Khin Nyunt told reporters yesterday, outside of a Burma- Malaysia technology conference, "Such transition cannot be done in haste and in a haphazard manner. The world is full of examples where a hasty transition from one system to another have led to unrest, instability and even failed states."

    The Malaysian prime minister has long been a supporter of Burma's military regime. In 1997 he led the charge to have Burma accepted into Asean. He is known to have significant influence over the regime, and is also thought to have persuaded them into reconciliation talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which began almost two years. The contents of that dialogue have not been disclosed. This was his third visit to Burma.

    To avoid upsetting Myanmar's generals, Mahathir didn't meet Suu Kyi, minister says

    By JASBANT SINGH, Associated Press Writer

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - including Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wanted to meet Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a visit this week but didn't in deference to their hosts, the ruling military junta, the foreign minister said.

    "I would have loved to see her," Syed Hamid Albar said Tuesday, one day after returning from Yangon. "But ... whatever we do ... we would not like to be interpreted as trying to interfere in the domestic political affairs of the country."

    Syed Hamid joined Mahathir on a two-day official visit to Myanmar that ended Monday. During the visit, Mahathir held talks Sunday with the junta's top leader, Gen. Than Shwe.Mahathir did not schedule a meeting with Suu Kyi, although Malaysian officials had said earlier this month that he would be willing to meet the Nobel peace laureate.

    Officials from Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy said she had been expecting a meeting with Syed Hamid early Monday at the Malaysian ambassador's residence, but that the meeting had been canceled without explanation.

    On Tuesday, Syed Hamid told reporters he had never been scheduled to meet Suu Kyi during the visit.He said Myanmar's military rulers had indicated they wanted Mahathir's visit to be "tailored to just an official visit with them."

    "I think the Myanmar side may not feel it is right, when we are making an official visit on their invitation, to see Aung San Suu Kyi," Syed Hamid said.

    Malaysia has played a role in brokering steps toward reconciliation between Suu Kyi and the junta. U.N. envoy Razali Ismail, a former Malaysian diplomat, is working on bringing to the sides together for face-to-face talks.

    Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962. The current junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising that killed thousands.Suu Kyi's party overwhelmingly won general elections in 1990, but the junta refuses to honor the results.The junta freed Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest on May 6 and has released more than 300 members of her party, but has made no clear promises about restoring civilian rule. Scores of political dissidents remain in jail.

    During Mahathir's visit, junta leader Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt said it will restore democracy at its own pace, a position backed by the Malaysian leader.

    "I think the fact that they have released Aung San Suu Kyi is a good step," Syed Hamid said Tuesday. "But they know that they have to take other steps."

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    Thai Police arrest Burmese `activists' near border

    Source : The Nation / Bangkok Post

    Police yesterday arrested more than 30 Burmese activists in the border district of Sangkhlaburi, charging them with illegal entry, amid attempts by the Thai government to get border checkpoints reopened.

    At about 9.30am, police from Sangkhlaburi police station raided several houses in the district where the Burmese dissidents live and work to promote democracy in their home country.

    The dissidents are members of Thailand-based pro-democracy organisations, including the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area), the All Burmese Students' Democratic Front, the Democratic Party for a New Society, and the People's Democratic Front.

    Members of ethnic rebel organisations, the Karen National Union and the Mon Youth Progressive Organisation, were also arrested.

    They are being detained at the station for questioning and will be deported to Burma in two days, said Sangkhlaburi police chief Colonel Vorachart Noppakhun.

    Burmese dissidents in Thailand said they believed the crackdown was a move to appease the junta in a bid to get the border reopened after a closure of three months.

    Meanwhile, activists working to protect the rights of ethnic Burmese in Chiang Mai have closed their office to avoid raids by the authorities.

    The Shan Women's Action Network and the Shan Human Rights Foundation said they had learned that the authorities would raid offices of people working for human rights.

    Vorachart, however, said the crackdown was a routine task for his station since the border district of Sangkhlaburi - where it connects to Burma at the Three Pagodas checkpoint - is a home of illegal migrants.

    "This is nothing relating to politics between Thailand and Burma. We don't care who they are, but illegal migrants are arrested in accordance with Thai laws," he told The Nation via telephone. However, Sunai Phasuk, a Forum-Asia analyst, said the arrests were carried out on orders of Rangoon's National Security Council.

    The move was in connection with conditions thought to have been imposed by Rangoon, before it would reopen the Thai-Burmese border, closed since late May, he said.

    The military junta was upset about the groups disclosing human rights violations in Burma, which scared away foreign investors, Mr Sunai said.

    The Burmese Embassy has shown a strong interest in the arrests, checking with Thai police in the district if the detainees are members the opposition National League for Democracy, said an official at the police station.

    Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai yesterday said his Burmese counterpart Win Aung would reply today on whether a meeting to reopen border checkpoints could take place by early next month.

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