Daily News- August 22- 2002- Thursday

  • Outcry over arrest of Burmese
  • Talks to focus on resolving disputes fast
  • Trial of Aye Zaw Win and sons continues

  • Outcry over arrest of Burmese

    The Bangkokpost

    Lawmakers and human rights advocates blasted the government yesterday over Tuesday's arrest of dozens of Burmese nationals, saying the action is linked to Burma's precondition for reopening its border with Thailand.

    They voiced concern as the National Security Council (NSC) directed border officials to closely monitor activities of anti-Rangoon groups.Police in Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri district arrested 31 Burmese nationals on Tuesday, saying they were all illegal migrant workers.

    M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, a Democrat MP and former deputy foreign minister, conceded illegal migrants must be rounded up for detention, but he questioned the timing of and real intention behind the government's campaign aimed at anti-Rangoon groups.M.R. Sukhumbhand said he believed the arrest was made to please Rangoon ahead of Thai-Burmese talks scheduled for early next month, with reopening the border high on the agenda.

    However, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai maintained the arrests of the 31 Burmese had nothing to do with the government's bid to restore relations with Burma.The arrests were not requested by the Burmese leadership. Nor had the matter ever been discussed between the two governments, he said.So far, Mr Surakiart said, Rangoon had made no approach for those arrested to be sent back to Burma.

    Kanchanaburi governor Prasart Pongsiwapai said there was no evidence that any of the arrested belonged to any groups that opposed Burma's military government.

    But the Bangkok-based Forum Asia regional human rights group, showed what it claimed to be proof that the arrested Burmese were either student exiles or opposition members wanted by the junta. The group also claimed a total of 34 were arrested.

    Kraisak Choonhavan, chairman of the Senate foreign affairs panel, yesterday expressed concern that those arrested could be repatriated within 24 hours.Senator Kraisak also submitted a letter to the foreign minister stressing the need for Thailand to exercise care in arresting Burmese exiles since it could seriously hurt the national image.

    Forum Asia said if the arrested were forcibly sent back, they would end up in the hands of government soldiers and ``will be detained, tortured, and are likely to be killed''.

    Forum Asia identified 14 of the arrested as members of the following groups: National League for Democracy (Liberated Area), Democratic Party for a New Society, All Burma Students Democratic Front, Mon Youth Progressive Organisation, People's Democratic Front, and the Karen National Union.

    Twenty others were attending a Bible study class run by the Baptist Church, Forum Asia said. At least three of them were reported to be carrying cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, it said.Forum Asia appealed to the government to delay their deportation and allow legal repressentatives access to the detainees.

    In Mae Hong Son, officials from the National Security Council, the Interior and Foreign ministries, and the armed forces held talks with border security agencies yesterday. They also visited a refugee camp.NSC deputy chief Prakit Prachonpachanuk emphasised plans to prevent illegal entry by ethnic minority people from Burma through the northen border into Tak and Mae Hong Son.He also told local authorities to try to resolve problems with Burma through the joint Township Border Committee.

    Talks to focus on resolving disputes fast

    The Bangkokpost
    Yuwadee Tunyasiri

    Talks between Thailand and Burma early next month will focus on how to stop problems between the countries getting out of control.Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said Thailand would ask Burma how to create state-level and border-level measures to solve problems.Preparations for the meeting coincide with reports that Thai police are rounding up Burmese, supposedly on Rangoon's orders.

    Mr Surakiart said the Foreign Ministry was waiting for Rangoon's reply whether the meeting could be held on Sept 7 or 8 in Chiang Rai or Tak as requested.``Any future problem must be cleared within 12 or 24 hours. Problems must not be left unresolved as in the past, when it took two to four weeks to call a border committee meeting,'' he said.

    Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said the talks should help Thailand find out why Burma had closed the border.

    In the border district of Kanchanaburi, police yesterday rounded up 31 Burmese activists in Sangkhla Buri, and charged them with illegal entry.The Asian Network for Free Election (Forum-Asia), a human rights advocacy group, said they were members of various activist groups, including the National League for Democracy and the Burma Students' Democratic Front, and were staging activities against the military regime in Rangoon.But a police official in the district insisted all were Burmese labourers working illegally in Thailand.The round-up was routine for police cracking down on illegal migrants, he said.

    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.

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    Trial of Aye Zaw Win and sons continues

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 21 Aug 02

    The trial of relatives of former dictator Ne Win continues and final arguments of the legal counsels was postponed to Friday due to the fact that the government prosecutor has not yet completed his argument. Aye Zaw Win, son-in-law of Ne Win and his three sons are being tried with the charges of plotting to overthrow the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), or high treason.

    According to reliable sources, defense attorney on Wednesday pleaded innocence of his clients and demanded unconditional release of them. The defense attorney also pointed out that the evidences presented by government persecutor are not strong enough to prove the guilt of accused.

    The government prosecutor said that Aye Zaw Win and three sons telephoned to Colonel Than Htay, commander of Ne Win's security guard, on 7 March and made an appointment for a meeting in the evening at a restaurant in Rangoon to discussed plan to topple SPDC. As Colonel Than Htay informed military intelligence officers, Aye Zaw Win and sons were arrested in the restaurant. Defense attorney in his argument counter-attacked Colonel Than Htay by asking why not he presented recorded voices of the discussion since there was an enough time to record the discussion.

    All other arguments by the government prosecutor is almost the same as what the government officials presented in the press conference held to expose the plot and arrests. Government accused Aye Zaw Win and sons of trying to establish monarchism in the country as part of an attempt to heal their economic losses.Aye Zaw Win and sons are also charged with 13 economic related crimes. DVB has learnt that final arguments from both sides on these economic crimes would be made on Thursday.

    Final court decisions on all crimes are expected by the end of August. If found guilty of high treason, maximum punishment Aye Zaw Win and sons would receive is death sentence. Fortune teller Boedaw Aung Pwint, who was arrested and charged along with Aye Zaw Win and sons for conspiring the crimes, has been sentenced to twenty years even though he himself turned to government side.

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