Daily News- January 26 - 2002- Saturday

  • Student Leader's Sentence Increased
  • Burmese seek refuge in UN office
  • Rohingya Seek Asylum
  • Reactor plan too risky, groups say
  • Terror War Targets Burma Drug Lord
  • Ex-druglord condition hopeless, says source
  • Burmese troops move into Mongyawn
  • Myanmar, India to Establish Consulates-General in Major Cities

  • Student Leader's Sentence Increased

    The Irrawaddy
    By Kyaw Zwa Moe

    January 25, 2002- Student democracy leader Min Ko Naing recently had another year added to his sentence by Burma's military government, according to a reliable source in Burma.

    Already imprisoned for 13 years, Min Ko Naing’s sentence was extended another year under the State Protection Law 10 (a), the source says.

    According to the State Peace and Development Council’s State Protection Law 10 (a), any prisoner’s term can be extended by one-year intervals for up to five years by order of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

    The source says that this was the third extension for the student leader since 1999, when he had completed his ten-year term. He remains detained without any new charges brought against him.

    Contrary to persistent rumors that the harsh prison environment has badly affected his health, the source says that Min Ko Naing remains in good physical and mental condition.

    During Burma’s 1988 democracy movement, Min Ko Naing served as chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), reviving the organization that was disbanded in 1962.

    Min Ko Naing (aka Paw Oo Tun) was incarcerated on March 23, 1989. In September 1991, he was sentenced to an additional 15 years under Burma Penal Code (124) and 17(1) Printing Act by a military tribunal.Then in 1992, his sentence was reduced to ten years by the limited amnesty of the military government, then known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

    In 2001, he and the ABFSU were awarded the Student Peace Prize for their "courageous, enduring and non-violent struggle against one of the world’s most brutal regimes." The Student Peace Prize Committee is based in Trondheim, Norway.

    There are approximately 2,000 political prisoners still languishing in Burma’s notorious gulags. Fifty-two prisoners, including Min Ko Naing, are still being held under the State Protection Law 10 (A) even though they have all served their original sentences.

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    Burmese seek refuge in UN office

    source : BBC

    A group of Burmese Muslims has taken refuge in the grounds of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

    The group of 28 men, women and children said they were seeking asylum after fleeing persecution in Burma. They are all members of the Rohingya community in Burma's western state of Rakhine, across the border from Bangladesh.

    "We are stateless, we can't go back to Burma because of the oppression," one of the refugees, Habib Peter, said across the fence of the compound. "We can't stay in Malaysia either because of the constant police crackdown. Seven of our family have been arrested and we are asking for help from the UNCHR."

    Cases considered

    Mr Peter said the group entered Malaysia illegally several years ago, and were now scared of being deported back to Burma.

    Yoshiteo Tsuji, a senior UNHCR official in Malaysia, said the group would be allowed to stay temporarily while their cases were being considered. He said that some of the refugees had previously applied for asylum, but their requests were rejected.

    Another group of Burmese refugees, who later tried to enter the UNHCR office, was stopped by the Malaysian police.


    Thousands of Rohingya Muslims from predominantly Buddhist Burma still remain in refugee camps in Bangladesh, a decade after 250,00 fled there to escape alleged persecution under the Burmese military, including killings and rape.

    International human rights groups have said recently that Burma must improve the treatment of Rohingyas, who face discrimination, forced labour and arbitrary confiscation of their property.

    In a report two years ago, Human Rights Watch accused the Burmese Government of refusing to recognise the Rohingyas' claim to Burmese citizenship. It said many refugees had a well-founded fear of persecution if they returned to Burma.

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    Rohingya Seek Asylum

    The Irrawaddy
    By John S. Moncreif

    January 25, 2002- Twenty-eight asylum seekers from Burma broke into the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) compound in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this morning and are refusing to vacate the building. The group, comprised of ethnic-Rohingya from Burma's Arakan State, told a UNHCR official that they had no where else to go.

    "They will be allowed to stay the night, while the UNHCR negotiates with them and awaits instructions from its headquarters," says UNHCR Associate Protection Officer Yoshiteru Psuji. "The situation is very quiet, they have been given food and are under control."

    The move comes in response to a recent government campaign to crack down on illegal workers in Malaysia. Malaysia, which has no recourse for asylum seekers, treats refugees as illegal immigrants. Eleven of the twenty-eight asylum seekers are under the age of eighteen and some in the group have already had their appeals for asylum rejected by the UNHCR.

    "Although the (Malaysian) government informally tolerated the Rohingya in the early 1990s, their situation has deteriorated significantly in recent years," according to a Human Rights Watch report in 2000.

    Ethnic-Rohingya began coming to Malaysia in the early 1990s in an effort to escape from Burma's impoverished Arakan State, where they were the victims of routine discrimination by Burma's military government.

    According to the Human Rights Watch report, the Rohingya population in Malaysia is estimated to be between 5,000 to 8,000 people. In 1999, only 43 Rohingya applicants out of 1,510 were granted refugee status in Malaysia by the UNHCR.

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    Reactor plan too risky, groups say

    The Bangkokpost

    Another Chernobyl crisis in the making

    An alliance of Burmese pro-democracy and ethnic groups said it was ``ridiculous'' for Rangoon to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia.Rangoon confirmed the plan but said the reactor would be used for peaceful research purposes.

    Gen Bo Mya, the Karen leader of the National Council of the Union of Burma, rejected the reasons cited for the purchase. ``This military junta can't even manage to feed or look after the basic health needs of its own people. But they want to spend millions of dollars on a reactor,'' he said.

    In a statement called ``Burma the next Chernobyl'', he said the plan would be an environmental disaster for the region.``Considering their long history of economic incompetence, how do they intend to maintain the safe operation of the nuclear reactor and where will they dispose of the deadly nuclear waste?'' he said.

    ``Burma should listen to the concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which said Burma failed to meet the minimum safety standards needed to operate a nuclear reactor,'' he said.A reactor would pose security, environmental and health risks to the region. Burma's Southeast Asian neighbours should oppose it, he said.

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    Terror War Targets Burma Drug Lord

    Far Eastern Economic Review : Issue cover-dated January 31, 2002 - The United States has begun to target the assets of suspected Burmese drug lords because of possible links between terrorism and the proceeds from narcotics trafficking. Western anti-narcotics officials say the move is supported by the Thai authorities.

    During raids in late December, the Thai police seized 100 million baht ($2.3 million) worth of assets, including cash, houses, vehicles, jewellery, land deeds and bank accounts belonging to people close to fugitive drug lord Wei Xuegang.

    Wei, who is wanted by both Thailand and the United States, jumped bail in 1990 and escaped to Burma where he runs a business congolmerate and heads the drug-trafficking United Wa State Army. In 1994 a Thai court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for drug trafficking.

    Money changers in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai have also come under scrutiny. Western and Thai police believe they are fronts for underground Chinese banks, which transfer millions of dollars every year without leaving any paper trail, and which may be used by terrorists and drug lords to transfer their funds.

    "This is the first time I have seen such high-profile people and institutions being targeted," says one Western anti-narcotics official.

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    Ex-druglord condition hopeless, says source

    Shan Herald Agency for News

    A source from Kengtung reported yesterday that the leader of a cease-fire group was discharged from a Chinese hospital recently after concluding as a hopeless case.

    Leader of Special Region No. 4 (Mongla), Sai Leun a.k.a. U Sai Lin a.k.a. Lin Mingxian, 53, was paralysed after suffering a second massive stroke in two years on 28 October. He was rushed off to a hospital in Kumming, the capital of Yunnan province, and had been receiving treatment there until lately.

    "His wife wanted him to go to Hongkong for further treatment," said the source. "But his lieutenants objected saying it would be too risky given his reputation." The source said he was still looking for more details about Sai Leun's illness.

    He also found that there was general anxiety about who was to succeed him in the event that he was permanently incapacitated. "If Kyi Myint (Zhang Zhiming, his close associate) is able to prove himself acceptable to the majority, it's okay," he said. "But if he is not, confusion will follow and afterwards the Burmese army."

    The Mongkoe Defense Army (MDA), another cease-fire group further north, was blown off into oblivion on 24 November 2000, when the Burmese army entered the fray where two rival factions were fighting for control of the MDA.

    Sai Leun, a former communist leader, reached a cease-fire agreement with Rangoon in 1989 along with Kokang, Wa and others. His group, also known as Eastern Shan State Army, declared Mongla, 60-miles northeast of Kengtung, a drug free-zone in 1997. Two years later his name was scrapped off the US blacklist.

    The ESSA has 3 brigades: The 815th commanded by Lo Chingpao, the 911th of Sai Htoon (Sai Leun's brother) and the 369the of Oon-mao. Its deputy commander-in-chief is Khun Sanglu, but he has little influence outside his former brigade, the 369th, according to several sources.

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    Burmese troops move into Mongyawn

    Shan Herald Agency for News

    Burmese troops have entered Mongyawn, a hitherto exclusively Wa territory since 1996, said several border sources on Wednesday (23 January).

    Two companies from IB 65 (Mongton) took up positions in 361, the former Southern Wa HQ, and the border pass opposite Santondu (Mae Ai District, Chiangmai province), according to a Border Patrol Police source. The arrival of two other companies from LIB 333 (Monghsat) were also reported. The two units from IB 65 companies 2 and 4, were commanded by Capt. Maung Myint and Lt-Zaw Aye respectively and those from LIB 333 were commanded by Maj. Nyo Win. The date of their arrival was 16 January according to one source, but the BPP source put it earlier.

    Sources from Maehongson also reported the increased presence of Burmese forces in Homong. "Before there were only Infantry Battalions 66 and 99 and Light Infantry Battalions 429 (Bawlake) and 510 (Taunggyi), but now we are also seeing battalions 422, 511, 524, 248 and 249," he said.

    Unconfirmed reports said the Wa force in Sankarng (opposite Loi Tai Leng, the Shan State Army stronghold opposite Maehongson) was being ordered to move back to Mongtaw-Monghta area, opposite Wianghaeng district, Chiangmai province, and those in Mongyawn to move into its place. "The 171th Division had been there for over a year and hadn't done any fighting. Maybe the Burmese want Wei Hsaitang's 894th Brigade to do something concrete," said one source.

    This was the second time in five years that the Wa were being ordered to move out of Mongyawn. "The meeting between Wei Hsiaokang and Gen Khin Nyunt in Tachilek on 17 January and the latter's whirlwind visit to Mongton and Monghsat two days later might have something to do with the latest move," commented a border watcher.

    Although details of the directive were not clear, the Wa along the border were noticeably disturbed. The next day on 20 January, a Wa officer told S.H.A.N. source that he had just received orders form Panghsang "to put our troops on the alert."

    A Lahu source in Nakawngmu, Mongton township, opposite Chiangdao district of Chiangmai, was also reported to have been informed by Wa friends, "You might not be celebrating your New Year if trouble breaks out between the Burmese (army) and us." The Lahu New Year falls on 12 February.

    Some Thai border watchers however were not bothered by the reports. "I don't see why the Burmese should choose to get tough with the Wa at this time," said one. "The only reason that I can think of is that Rangoon must be badly in need of funds. So if the Wa are ready to hand over a sheaf of greenbacks, I'm sure everything will quiet down in a while."

    Meanwhile, the Wa southern commander Pao Yuyi, was reported to have met again with MR Ditsanadda Ditsakul, director of the royal project in Mae Fa Luang District, Chiangrai, on 22 January at Tonnam Guesthouse in Mae Fa Luang, although no details were made available. It was reported later yesterday that the Thai survey team had been escorted to the Yawngkha project site across Mae Fa Luang yesterday by Pao Yuyi.

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    Myanmar, India to Establish Consulates-General in Major Cities

    YANGON, January 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar and India will establish their consulates-general in major cities of the two countries soon under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on November 2, 2001, state-run Radio Myanmar reported Friday night.

    The consulates-general will be opened respectively in Calcutta of India and Mandalay of Myanmar, the report said. Myanmar and India established diplomatic relations in January 1948.

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