Daily News- February 16- 2002- Saturday

  • Conditions harsh for Burma journalists
  • Man arrested for allegedly sending information to foreign radio stations
  • ILO to dispatch high-level mission to Myanmar on forced labor
  • India for actions against militant groups in Burma
  • Junta plans new mobile missile battalion
  • Military reshuffle continues
  • Military columns separately ambushed by Karen, Mon guerrillas
  • Burmese troops cautioned
  • Myanmar family seeking special residency loses suit

  • Conditions harsh for Burma journalists

    By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer

    BANGKOK, Thailand - Journalists in Burma work under abysmal conditions and are prohibited from writing about issues such as AIDS, corruption and the situation of students, an international press watchdog reported Friday.

    "The restrictions imposed by the ruling military junta make reporting on even the most mundane topics a risky business," said the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in a report received by news organizations in Bangkok.

    By the end of 2001, 12 journalists were imprisoned for their work and all journalists labor under a harsh regime of censorship, licensing and threats, it said. One was freed this week during a visit to Burma by a U.N. human rights investigator, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. "I found journalists dedicated to uncovering information and ideas," said Lin Neumann, the author of the report and who visited the military state. "The tragedy is that so little of what they know finds its way into print."

    Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by its military since 1962. In 1990, the junta overturned its defeat in general elections by the democratic opposition led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. In addition to direct censorship, the government allows no public Internet access, controls all news and owns the electronic media. Unauthorized ownership of a fax machine is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

    The report cites an unidentified editor of a weekly magazine as saying that the government censorship board forbids writing about the country's AIDS epidemic, corruption, education or the situation of students, who have historically been at the forefront of the democracy movement. The editor also said the magazine cannot write "any bad news" and must be careful about its coverage of political issues.

    The committee welcomed the release this week of former magazine editor Myo Myint Nyein, who had served more than 11 years of a 14-year prison term for writing a satirical poem about the military and a letter protesting prison conditions to the United Nations . He was freed along with four other opposition activists during an ongoing visit by Pinheiro, the U.N. investigator.

    "CPJ is extremely pleased that Myo Myint Nyein is finally free," said the committee's executive director Ann Cooper. "But he should never have been arrested in the first place and 11 of his colleagues remain in jail for doing their professional duty as journalists," she was quoted as saying.

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    Man arrested for allegedly sending information to foreign radio stations

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 15, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 14 February

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military intelligence personnel in Kawthaung have been closely monitoring Burmese nationals who returned from Ranong in Thailand. A Burmese national, who returned from Ranong on 12 February, was arrested by the SPDC authorities in Kawthaung and accused of sending information to foreign radio stations.

    Furthermore, the SPDC alleged that there are many informers sending information to foreign radio stations and noted that arrangements are under way to arrest them as soon as possible. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung] Ko Tin Saw alias Tharkhan, who returned from Ranong on 12 February evening, was arrested by a combined group of Bayintnaung Market security forces and Kyant Phut [derogatory term for Union Solidarity and Development Association] members in front of Daw Khin Kyi's shop in Bayintnaung Market, Kawthaung. He was caught with a mobile phone and the February issue of Khit Pyaing journal [an anti-Burmese government monthly journal published in Thailand] and was accused of passing information to foreign radio stations.

    Ko Tin Saw was handed over to Kawthaung-based No 3 Military Intelligence Battalion that same evening. After torturing and interrogating Ko Tin Saw, the military intelligence obtained through his confession the list of another five persons who have allegedly passed information to foreign broadcasting stations and arrangements were made for their early arrest.

    A combined team has been monitoring and questioning those who returned from Ranong at Mway Kyun, Bayinnaung Bridge, and Dhammayone jetties. Two SPDC military intelligence personnel have been waiting everyday at Kawthaung Airport ready to arrest any suspect. Furthermore, another 10 informers have already been sent to Ranong. On 29 January, Kawthaung Border Committee sought the assistance of Ranong Border Committee to arrest and repatriate anti-SPDC activists in Ranong.

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

    GENEVA, Feb. 14, Kyodo - The International Labor Organization (ILO) plans to send a high-level mission to Myanmar 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.

    The delegation will leave for Myanmar on Monday and hold talks with officials of the Myanmar military government.

    A diplomatic source said the ILO sanctions, imposed since November 2000, would be removed if the delegation finds ''convincing'' evidence that the Myanmar military government will take effective measures to stamp out the practice of compulsory labor. The ILO delegation is expected to present a report of its findings to the ILO Governing Body next month.

    According to diplomatic sources, the focus of talks in Myanmar would be on key issues: whether the Myanmar military government would recognize a permanent ILO representative in Myanmar and whether the military government would set up an independent watchdog system to oversee human rights in the country.

    These are some of the key conditions the ILO Governing Body set in November last year for the removal of ILO sanctions. Japan and some other countries have urged the ILO to lift sanctions against Myanmar, while the United States and others have called for leaving the sanctions in place.

    The upcoming ILO fact-finding mission could affect a decision on the fate of the sanctions expected at the International Labor Conference to be held in Geneva in June.

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    India for actions against militant groups in Burma

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    Guwahati (Assam), Feb: 15: The Union Defence Minister Mr. George Fernandes today said that India has initiated diplomatic talks with Burma to take actions against the North East militant groups which are taking shelter in the country for the last couple of years.

    Talking to a private TV channel after concluding his hectic election campaign in the state, the Defence Minister further revealed that the talks have been progressing at the highest level to bust out the camps of militants in Burma.

    We are worried over the ongoing insurgency in the North East India and a pragmatic step is a must in this regard, the Union Minister said. He charged Pakistan of encouraging cross border terrorism in the different parts of India. Pakistan's evil design has been exposed and now the world community has started believing that Pakistan is fully responsible for terrorism in the world, Mr. Fernandes added. He also categorically denied India’s nuclear test as claimed by the Pakistan President Mr. Pervez Musharaff.

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    Junta plans new mobile missile battalion

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 15, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 14 February

    Preparations are under way to establish a battalion of mobile surface to air missile [SAM] system in the Coastal Region Military Command area. The planned site is near Alechaung Village in eastern Mergui District.

    A team led by Lt-Col Lay Myint and Lt-Col Hla Thein Naing from the Directorate of Armoured and Artillery arrived in Mergui on 11 February to supervise establishment of the new battalion. They held discussions on the formation and setting up of the battalion and ordered the relocation of Alechaung Village.

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] began building the mobile surface to air missile system battalions last year. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the new battalion will be the fourth one to be established.

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    Military reshuffle continues

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 15, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 14 February

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] has continued to reshuffle its military and this time it has focused on Military Operations Management Command [MOMC] commanders.

    Brig Gen Saw Hla Min, commander of Hmawbi-based MOMC No 4, and Brig Gen Hla Myint, commander of Arakan State's Kyauktaw-based MOMC No 9, have been attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Similarly, Brig-Gen Thura [honorific title] Sein Thaung, commander of Kayah State's Pekon-based MOMC No 7, and Brig Gen Than Aung, commander of Kyaukpadaung-based MOMC No 11, have been attached to the Office of the Director of Military Intelligence. The appointments issued today were signed by the Military Appointments General.

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    Military columns separately ambushed by Karen, Mon guerrillas

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 15, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 14 February

    A lance corporal was killed and three soldiers - a second lieutenant and two privates were wounded when an SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military column was ambushed by the KNU [Karen National Union] guerrillas.

    A group of KNU guerrillas planted mines and ambushed the Rangoon junta's military operations outpost at Point 3000 hill near the Thai-Burma border in eastern Tenasserim Township, Mergui District where 2nd Company of IB [Infantry Battalion] 103 led by Company Commander Lt Zin Oo was stationed.

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that SPDC Lance Corporal Aung San Oo was killed while a second lieutenant and two privates were seriously wounded.

    Similarly, an SPDC military column led by Column Commander Maj Tin Maung Lwin from LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] 550 which was carrying out security duty in the Payathonzu region was ambushed by the breakaway faction of the NMSP [New Mon State Party] between Tutthwin and Apalone Villages. An SPDC soldier was killed and while a corporal and two privates were wounded.

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    Burmese troops cautioned

    The Bangkokpost
    Wassana Nanuam

    Burmese troops have been warned not to damage Thai property when they attack Shan State Army bases along the border, said the chief of Thailand's Township Border Committee.

    Col Surasak Boonsiri, the 4th Cavalry Regiment chief in charge of border security in Chiang Rai, said he told his Burmese counterpart, Lt-Col Tun Aung, to avoid causing unneccessary misunderstanding during Burmese military operations against minority rebels.

    Lt-Col Tun Aung, commander of the 526th Rapid Forces Battalion, asked Thailand for ``understanding'' and ``leniency'' if some Burmese artillery shells strayed into Thai territory. ``Burmese troops are concerned we may respond militarily if their shells accidentally fall on our soil,'' he said.

    Col Surasak said warning shots would be fired if Burmese shells accidentally landed on Thai soil. He did not rule out tough retaliation if cross-border fighting caused serious damage on the Thai side.

    Burmese forces suffered heavy casualties in February last year when Thai troops reacted to an intrusion by Burmese troops at Ban Pang Noon, in Mae Fa Luang district.Burmese soldiers wanted to use the border village as a springboard to attack SSA bases along the rugged border terrain.

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    Myanmar family seeking special residency loses suit

    The Japan Times

    A Myanmar couple and their child seeking special residential status lost a court battle Friday in Tokyo to overturn a justice minister's rejection of their application.

    Mayung Myinp, 45, his wife, Ma San Yu Pun, 36, and their 4-year-old daughter applied in September 1999 to the Justice Ministry for special permission to stay in Japan after staying here for years without legitimate visas, claiming they have become accustomed to living in this country.

    The father came to Japan in 1990 on a three-month tourist visa and worked in a printing factory in Tokyo. His wife came to Japan in 1994, and their daughter was born here and now attends a public nursery school.

    Their application for a special permit was turned down in February 2000 by then Justice Minister Hideo Usui. In rejecting the family's appeal Friday, the Tokyo District Court said the justice minister has the sole legitimate power to decide on their application, as the government has the sole authority to make decisions on its immigration policy.

    The ruling could lead to the immediate deportation of the family, but their lawyers indicated they would appeal the case to a higher court. They will be allowed to remain in the country until the court proceedings are concluded.

    The family was one of five that jointly applied for the justice minister's permission in 1999 in the first collective effort by visa violators. The special residential permission is considered the last resort for visa violators and is usually granted to those who are married to Japanese.Twelve families and three individuals, mostly Iranians, have applied for such permission.

    Five Iranian families totaling 20 people have so far been granted the special permits, while 12 families have seen their applications rejected. Aside from the Myanmar family, two of the rejected Iranian families have filed lawsuits with the Tokyo court.

    According to Asian Peoples Friendship Society, a citizens' group that has assisted the families' quest for legitimate residency permits, the Justice Ministry at least partly bases its decisions on whether a family has children who have spent many years at school in Japan and are accustomed to Japanese social customs. The ministry's decision appears to hinge on whether the children attend junior high schools in Japan, officials of the group said.

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