Daily News- February 08- 2002- Friday

  • ICFTU: Carrying the torch for repression at Salt Lake City 2002
  • Thailand, Myanmar sign accord on taxation
  • Rangoon fires on Shan base
  • The border Belligerents priming up for battle
  • Kachin Newspaper Hits the Streets
  • About 100 Myanmar to Undergo Training in ROK
  • Myanmar Exports Less Rubber in First 10 Months of 2001
  • Burma ethnic army may end drugs output by 2005

  • ICFTU: Carrying the torch for repression at Salt Lake City 2002

    With the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City set to open tomorrow on 8 February, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has called upon the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to investigate official Olympic Games clothing supplier, 'Marker,' for reportedly producing the official uniforms of the 2002 Winter Olympics Torchbearers in Burma.

    In a letter sent to Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder stated that, "no responsible organisation or body should make use of products originating in Burma. This is particularly true for an organisation that has a goal to 'contribute to building a peaceful and better world.'"

    Burma, a country where forced labour is widespread, has been condemned by the ILO and the international community in general for its flagrant disrespect of labour standards and human rights.

    The ICFTU has published a list of companies with links to Burma, which is available online (burma/ ). This list is intended to encourage such companies to abandon their links with Burma. We hope that it will also encourage organisations with commercial relations with these companies, including the IOC, to take action.

    In addition to Marker Ltd., three other companies from the ICFTU Burma list - Lucent Technologies, Chevron Texaco and Samsung - are official sponsors/partners of the 2002 Olympic Games.

    The brutal military dictatorship, which has controlled Burma since 1962, is synonymous with harsh repression and systematic corruption. It is directly responsible for the use of forced labour in the country, as well as for a range of other human rights abuses. And, it is impossible to conduct any trade or engage in any other economic activity in Burma without providing direct or indirect support to the junta. This means that doing business with Burma, in effect, supports human rights abuses.

    ICFTU Secretary General Guy Ryder stated, "the Olympic Games are viewed worldwide by a huge global audience. The Olympic flame is a sign of hope, not repression. The International Olympic Committee should immediately act to disassociate itself from those trading with tyranny in Burma and reaffirm the historic values of the Olympic Games."

    The ICFTU represents 157 million workers in 225 affiliated organisations in 148 countries and territories.

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    Thailand, Myanmar sign accord on taxation

    BANGKOK, Feb 7 (AFP) - Thailand and Myanmar have signed an agreement on avoiding double taxation between the neighbouring states, state-run Myanmar media reported Thursday.

    The agreement was signed in Yangon Thursday by visiting Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Myanmar's Finance and Revenue Minister Khin Maung Thein, TV Myanmar said in a dispatch monitored here.The signing ceremony was presided over by the junta's vice chairman, General Maung Aye and secretary general Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, it said.It gave no further details.

    Surakiart, who headed an 18-member delegation, arrived in Myanmar's capital on Wednesday for an official three-day visit and to call on Myanmar's military leaders.A senior Thai foreign ministry official said Surakiart departed Yangon late Thursday to Myanmar's western beachside resort of Ngapali for meetings with his Myanmar counterpart Win Aung.

    "The talks between the two foreign ministers would cover areas, including narcotics, illegal migrants, trade and fisheries," Thai foreign ministry spokesman Ratthakit Manathat said earlier this week.

    Thailand's newly appointed Supreme Commander, Admiral Narong Yuthavong, also arrived in Yangon Thursday for an official goodwill visit at the invitation of Myanmar's army chief General Maung Aye, TV Myanmar said in a separate report.

    "The relations with Thailand had strengthened through the frequent exchange of visits at all levels as well as the personal amity and rapport between the leaders of the two nations," according to an official information sheet issued by Myanmar's ruling military junta.Surakiart is scheduled to return from Ngapali on Friday and depart for Thailand later that day.

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    Rangoon fires on Shan base

    The Bangkokpost

    Burmese troops yesterday fired mortar shells at a Shan State Army base in Gor Mueng, on the Burmese border opposite Ban Ja-dee.A security source said around 10 mortars reportedly fell near Gor Mueng base, manned by a few hundred SSA soldiers. There were no reports of casualties and the SSA had not yet retaliated.

    Yesterday's shelling was seen as a prelude to a major Burmese military offensive against several SSA bases on the border, including Gor Wan, the SSA's major command post near Ban Pang Noon.Ban Pang Noon saw fierce border fighting last year after Burmese troops crossed into Thailand and used Thai soil to attack SSA fighters in Gor Wan base.

    SSA military commander Jao Yord Serk instructed his fighters to be on full alert following rumours Burmese troops might launch a rear assault from Thai territory.

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    The border Belligerents priming up for battle

    Shan Herald Agency for News No: 02 - 04: 7 February 2002

    Both Shans and their opponents Burmese-Wa troops had been assembling on the border area opposite Chiangrai, several sources report.

    A commander from the Shan State Army, interviewed by S.H.A.N. by telephone, said: "There are three battalions around Loi Kawwan (Kengtung Front Force's headquarters) and they have been beefing up the past few days."

    The three battalions are LIB 244 (Kengtung) near Pangnoon, LIB 359 (Tachilek) at Loi Maemaw and LIB 331 (Tachilek) on the Maesai, according to him. "If there is going to be any shooting, it'll will be with us," he said.

    Earlier, another officer had speculated that the Burmese-Wa forces would launch an operation aiming at wiping out Kengtung Front's mobile unit commanded by Maj. Sangsaw, who was operating behind the lines in Hpaktumong.

    Observers commented the operation could be in anticipation of the Thai-initiated crop replacement project for the Wa resettlers in Nayao, called Yawngkha by the Wa, northwest of Loi Kawwan.

    Six six-wheelers carrying troops from LIB 332 and IB 282 had also arrived in Mongton, opposite Chiangmai, yesterday. The source however was not sure which direction they were headed. SSA's 727th Brigade commanded by Maj Ternkhurh and elements from Brigade 241, commanded by Lt-Col Khunjaw, are known to be active in the area.

    Opposite Maehongson, the SSA, whose general headquarters is in Loi Taileng, is facing Burma Army's 9 battalions and the United Wa State Army's 2 battalions: the 615th commanded by Ta Lu and the 616th commanded by Ah Htang. Both battalions are units from drug fugitive Wei Hsiaokang's Division 171, but their immediate boss in the area is Jalaw Bo, a Lahu officer, according to the sources.

    The SSA and the Wa exchanged fire at Hwe Khaharn, north of Loi Taileng, on 29 January. "The clash lasted 15 minutes" said Col Khurhngern, Sao Yawdserk's second-in-command, "and when we pulled out afterwards, it was reported the Wa suffered 2 dead an 1 wounded." He claimed the SSA suffered no loss.

    Thai border watchers told S.H.A.N. in the meanwhile they were watching closely the developments along the border. Paramilitary rangers from 32nd Regiment were said to have taken positions around Loi Kawwan also from the Thai side.

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    Kachin Newspaper Hits the Streets

    The Irrawaddy
    By Shawn L. Nance/Chiang Mai, Thailand

    February 6, 2002óThe Kachin Post released its inaugural issue today, becoming the first publication of a Jinghpaw-language newspaper in nearly forty years. The new monthly, published in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is aimed at readers in Kachin state, Burma, as well as the sizeable Kachin communities in India, Thailand and China.

    Currently, only state-run newspapers published in Burmese language, as well as the English-language Myanmar Times and The New Light of Myanmar are available in Kachin state. But anodyne stories chronicling the achievements of the military and news from Rangoon have failed to capture the interest of Kachin readers. "In Kachin state, nobody wants to read those papers," explains Kachin Post editor, Naw Seng.

    Thus, Naw Seng has set out to raise awareness of international and local events and to promote a free and fair press in the Kachin community. In the paperís mission statement, the editor explains the need to develop writing and analytical skills among the Kachin and "to improve the ideology and the thinking of the Kachin people."

    The first edition focuses primarily on political and social issues featuring local Kachin news, news of other ethnic groups, Burmese news, international news, and editorials as well as entertainment articles. "This is an historic step towards a Kachin literary revolution," says the editor.

    Most Jinghpaw-language publications in print include only religious or apolitical cultural texts and a limited number of books on Kachin history. The Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) broadcasts a weekly 15-minute program in Jinghpaw, while the twice daily Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) broadcasts from Manila are confined mostly to religious content. Naw Seng hopes that his paper can fill this void in the Jinghpaw-language media while laying the foundation for building a Jinghpaw literary tradition.

    The last Kachin newspaper in circulation, The Jinghpaw Prat (The Jinghpaw Times), a weekly paper founded in 1958, was forced to cease publication in 1962 after Ne Win seized power by military coup.

    In 1998, another effort at establishing a vernacular press was the Jinghpaw-language monthly journal, Wun Rawt, published by a former Yangon University of Technology (Rangoon Institute of Technology) student. After five issues, the editor was arrested in Rangoon for failing to submit copy to the Press Scrutiny Board (PSB) censorship committee before publication and the paper was shut down.

    Swedish-American missionary, Ola Hanson developed the written form of Jinghpaw between 1890 and 1892 using the Roman alphabet with Swedish phonetics. Prior attempts to develop orthography for the Jinghpaw dialect using Burmese and Karen script were never completed. Jingphaw is the most numerous of the six main Kachin linguistic groups and has become the lingua franca for all Kachin tribes.

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    About 100 Myanmar to Undergo Training in ROK

    YANGON, February 7 (Xinhuanet) -- About 100 more Myanmar will be sent to the Republic of Korea (ROK) this year to undergo training under a program funded by the ROK government, according to the Thursday issue of the local weekly journal The Myanmar Times.

    Arranged by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)under the ROK Foreign Ministry, these trainees are to attend courses covering subjects of agriculture, economic and industrial development. The aid program will be increased year by year since Myanmar istrying to engage more with the international community, a ROK envoy was quoted as saying.

    KOICA was established in 1990 to assist developing countries through human resources development and since then nearly 380 Myanmar have been benefited from the courses. Meanwhile, since 1975 when the two countries established diplomatic relations, the Economic Development Cooperation Fund ofROK has disbursed loans to Myanmar to develop its communication and energy sectors, build container yards and purchase rail coaches.

    In addition, ROK has poured in Myanmar a total of 153.11 million U.S. dollars' investment in 26 projects since late 1988 when the country opened to foreign investment. Bilateral trade between the two countries in the first ten months of 2001 amounted to 328.61 million dollars, accounting for 7.61 percent of Myanmar's total foreign trade of the period.

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    Myanmar Exports Less Rubber in First 10 Months of 2001

    YANGON, February 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar exported 17,200 tons of raw rubber in the first ten months of 2001, a 21.1-percent decrease from the same period of 2000, the latest data of the official Economic Indicators show.

    The earning through the export of raw rubber during the period was registered at 8.38 million U.S. dollars, reducing by 25.57 percent compared with the corresponding period of 2000. Meanwhile, during the ten-month period, the country imported rubber goods worth 28.8 million dollars, 13.33 percent less than the same period of 2000.

    Myanmar has been striving to extend the cultivation areas of rubber which is one of its major industrial crops and one of its major foreign exchange earners. A latest report said the country has extended the rubber plantation area from two divisions and states to four with the increase of the area from 81,000 in 1994 to 182,250 at present. In Myanmar, 2.62 million hectares are reportedly suitable for rubber growing.

    Of the country's present rubber plantations, 13 percent is owned by the state and 87 percent by the private sector, while of the rubber production, 15 percent is shared by the state and 85 percent by the private enterprises.

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    Burma ethnic army may end drugs output by 2005

    BANGKOK (Reuters)

    - - Burma, one of the world's biggest opium producers, has said an ethnic army based in the country has promised to stop production of all kinds of drugs by 2005, Thai officials said on Friday.

    Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said Burma's military government made the promise on behalf of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a semi-autonomous militia to which it is allied.

    "Myanmar officials told me the Wa have promised to stop drug production, not only opium, but all kinds including methamphetamine, by year 2005," Surakiart told reporters after a three-day trip to Burma.

    Thailand has said it expects to be flooded with over 900 million methamphetamine stimulant pills this year, 200 million more than last year, due to higher demand and new plants in Laos. Thai authorities say most of the pills are produced by the Wa militia inside Burma.

    The Thai army has said falling opium production in Afghanistan has prompted growers in the "Golden Triangle", where the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand converge, to boost production to serve rising global demand for heroin.

    Until 2000, Afghanistan was the world's main producer of poppies, which are turned into opium and further refined into heroin. The then ruling Taliban ordered a partial ban on poppy production in 1999, and outlawed it altogether one year later.

    Burma is now the world's biggest opium producer, according to international narcotics agencies. The Burmese government denies this.

    Methamphetamine pills, also known as "Ya ba", or "crazy medicine", are increasingly supplanting heroin as the main drug produced in the Golden Triangle region.

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