Daily News- February 15- 2002- Friday


  • Freed reporter attacks Burma prison sham
  • Reporters Without Borders Welcomes Release of Burmese Journalist
  • ILO to dispatch high-level mission to Burma on forced labor
  • Burma's Nuclear Plans Worry IAEA
  • Southwest China Finds Ocean Outlet
  • Army forcibly recruits porters in Tavoy District for border operations
  • Pakistani Trade Delegation to Visit China, Burma
  • Korea to Send Trade Delegation to Indonesia, Thailand and Burma
  • Burma seizes over 400 kg of heroin, opium
  • UN envoy says to meet Burma's Suu Kyi on Monday


  • Freed reporter attacks Burma prison sham

    From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

    A Burmese magazine editor, who has just been freed from prison, has accused the prison authorities of misleading international envoys.

    Myo Myint Nyein was serving a 14-year jail term when he was freed on Wednesday in an apparent goodwill gesture coinciding with the visit of the United Nations human rights envoy, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

    But in a BBC interview, Myo Myint Nein said it was normal practice for prison authorities to relax restrictions on the prisoners ahead of such inspections, allowing detainees to talk to each other and move around more freely.

    He said normal rules allowing prisoners out of their cells for only 15 minutes a day were reimposed after the visits.

    Myo Mying Nyein vowed to continue taking part in political activity to support the national reconciliation process. He was imprisoned for 12 years for writing a satirical poem and a letter to the UN about harsh prison conditions. Last year he was given a press freedom award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

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    Reporters Without Borders Welcomes Release of Burmese Journalist

    VOA News

    The media rights group Reporters Without Borders is welcoming the release of a Burmese journalist who spent 12 years in a Burmese prison. But the rights group expresses regret that Myo Myint Nyein was not released earlier, in view of what Reporters Without Borders describes as the serious deterioration in his physical and mental health.

    Myo Myint Nyein was freed Wednesday, two years before the end of his term. He was jailed for seven years in 1990 for publishing a poem criticizing the military government, and was given another seven years in 1995 for writing a letter to the U.N. about harsh prison conditions.

    Reports Without Borders says he was never given proper treatment in jail for psychological and stomach ailments that plagued him during his years in a filthy cell. He was freed along with four members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. The move coincided with the 10 day visit to Burma of U.N. human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

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    ILO to dispatch high-level mission to Burma on forced labor

    GENEVA, Feb. 14 Kyodo - The International Labor Organization (ILO) plans to send a high-level mission to Burma next week on a fact-finding mission that could lead to the lifting of sanctions imposed against the country over the issue of forced labor, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

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    Burma's Nuclear Plans Worry IAEA

    FEER, Issue cover-dated February 21, 2002

    While Burma has admitted entering into negotiations with Russia for the installation of its first nuclear reactor, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are alarmed. Diplomats in Rangoon say IAEA inspectors recently visited power stations in Burma and found that safety standards were terrible, raising concern about likely standards at any nuclear plant.

    Burma has hydroelectric as well as gas- and diesel-fired power stations. Russian diplomats, meanwhile, say that while some 300 Burmese have been sent to Moscow for nuclear training, no final deal has been signed between the two countries. They add that Russia is still engaged in discussions with the Vienna-based IAEA over the Burma project.

    One Moscow diplomat says Russian safety inspectors would have to be based at the site in order to allay the concerns of the IAEA.

    Rangoon's military junta has said the reactor would be used for peaceful purposes, but the United States has called on Burma and Russia to ensure that the proposed project include extra security to ensure radioactive material would not be vulnerable to theft.

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    Southwest China Finds Ocean Outlet

    FEER, Issue cover-dated February 21, 2002

    China has established a commercial outlet on the Burmese coast that will help open up new markets for its landlocked southwestern provinces. Asian diplomats say a new Chinese-built port and shipyard was inaugurated at Thilawa, 25 kilometres south of Rangoon, on February 2 some three years after work commenced on the first phase of the project.

    The sprawling facility can handle ships of up to 10,000 deadweight tonnes-of which the Burmese have only a few-and is designed to cater primarily for Chinese exports on Chinese ships.

    It was designed, built and equipped by the China National Constructional and Agricultural Machinery Import and Export Co. Official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports that the first phase of the project will allow for the construction of five vessels a year and the repair of 50.

    China has for years eyed Burma as an outlet for exports from Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in its southwest. The Irrawaddy River, which flows through Burma, has also been dredged to allow for bigger barges to carry Chinese goods to the ocean.

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    Army forcibly recruits porters in Tavoy District for border operations

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 14, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 13 February

    The No 1 Strategic Command has issued an order demanding 600 porters each from Launglon, Thayetchaung, and Yebyu Townships in Tavoy District, Tenasserim Division. Thus, relevant village authorities in Launglon Township have issued a suborder to local villagers to supply 13 porters for every 1,000 villagers. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung] In accord with the order, village authorities have forcibly begun collecting porter fees of 1,800 kyat per household from 9 to 13 February. They said that the porter fees are to pay those porters that will actually follow the military columns.

    At the same time, in every village combined teams comprising police, Kyant Phut [derogatory term for Union Solidarity and Development Association], fire brigade, and village security personnel have been rounding up people who go out late at night and forcibly recruiting them as porters. Those rounded up were sent to Launglon Township Police Station while the collected porter fees were distributed among the township and village authorities.

    The No 1 Strategic Command is planning to use the porters for its front-line columns engaging in clearing operations along the border in Karen and Mon States and Tenasserim Division.

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    Pakistani Trade Delegation to Visit China, Burma

    Source : Asia Pulse / PPI

    KARACHI, Feb 15 -- A strong Pakistani trade delegation would be visiting China in March for boosting trade and economic ties between the two friendly countries, official sources said in Karachi on Feb 13.

    Talking to reporters, the sources said that the delegation would also visit Burma and explore the possibilities of boosting trade relations between the two countries. The government has reserved a special quota for women entrepreneurs, new exporters and small and medium entrepreneurs etc, the sources added.

    The selection of members of the trade delegation will be made on merit and the financial status (export performance during the last three years duly verified by the bank), quality of product and business achievements.

    Interested exporters have been advised to apply by Feb 25. Efforts are also being made to finalise another trade delegation for Vietnam and the Philippines as well. According to plans, the delegation would visit these countries sometime in April this year. Interested exporters are to contact the Export Promotion Bureau latest by Feb 28, the sources added.

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    Korea to Send Trade Delegation to Indonesia, Thailand and Burma

    Source : Asia Pulse / Yonhap

    SEOUL, Feb 15-- South Korea will send a trade delegation to Indonesia, Thailand and Burma from Feb. 17-24, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Friday.

    The 20-member delegation, led by Trade Minister Hwang Doo-yun, will be comprised of business executives from local small and mid-sized firms.

    Hwang plans to hold trade talks with his Indonesian counterpart to seek support for South Korean firms operating in the Southeast Asian country and call for a resumption of a national car project involving South Korean carmaker Kia Motors.

    The Korean side will conclude a double taxation avoidance pact with Burma and hold working-level trade talks with Thailand.

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    Burma seizes over 400 kg of heroin, opium

    Source : MSNBC / Reuters

    Rangoon, Feb. 15- Burma authorities raided two heroin refineries in the north of the country at the end of last month, seizing 42 kg (92 pounds) of heroin and 383 kg of raw opium, state-run media reported on Friday.

    Burma, one of the world's biggest opium producers, said the latest haul was the biggest by the country's law enforcement officials this year.

    Burma, on a U.S. black-list of countries deemed not to be doing enough to combat narcotics production, says it will wipe out opium growing by 2014.

    Opium is a raw ingredient in heroin production. Last year, Burma seized a total of 92 kg of heroin.

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    UN envoy says to meet Burma's Suu Kyi on Monday

    Source : MSNBC / Reuters

    Rangoon, Feb. 15- A top United Nations human rights envoy said on Friday he is to meet on Monday with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was placed under house arrest by the military regime more than a year ago.

    U.N. envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is visiting Burma to try to persuade the ruling military, engaged in slow-moving talks with Suu Kyi's pro-democracy opposition, to release more political prisoners and to report on human rights.

    ''I will meet her (Aung San Suu Kyi) on Monday, but I haven't fixed a time yet,'' Pinheiro told Reuters on his return from a three-day tour of northern Kachin state, where he visited a prison and met with ethnic minority leaders.

    Pinheiro said he was satisfied with the military junta's cooperation during his visit so far.

    He arrived on Sunday and is due to leave on February 19.

    A positive report from Pinheiro could lead to a softening of the West's stance towards Rangoon's military rulers, who prevented Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy taking power after its sweeping win in 1990 elections.

    The United States and the European Union maintain aid and trade sanctions on Burma, but have said they could change their policies if there is progress towards democracy and an improvement in the country's human rights record.

    About 1,500 political prisoners, many of them arrested soon after the 1990 election, languish in Burma's jails, according to Amnesty International.

    Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since September 2000.

    But since U.N.-brokered talks between the NLD and the government began the same year, more than 200 political prisoners have been released and the NLD has been allowed to re-open some of its offices.

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