Daily News- January 31 - 2002- Thursday

  • Suu Kyi meets top brass
  • National League for Democracy branch to reopen 30 January
  • Protestor Located in Insein
  • Burma detains UNHCR project employee in Arakan State
  • Myanmar Leader Stresses Importance of Education
  • Myanmar Newspaper Emphasizes Outside Assistance in Poverty Elimination
  • U20: Myanmar Beat Indonesia 2-0 in ASEAN Soccer

  • Suu Kyi meets top brass

    Larry Jagan, Bangkok Post

    Meeting raises hopes of being released soon

    Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has secretly met one of Burma's senior leaders. Diplomats in Rangoon say the opposition leader may have even met the country's head of state, General Than Shwe.

    ``What is certain is that Aung San Suu Kyi met one of the country's most senior generals,'' said an Asian diplomat who didn't want to be identified. ``She went to the Government Guesthouse and we believe met either General Than Shwe or Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt.''

    This meeting is the first with a senior Burmese general for some time, almost a year according to some diplomat sources. ``The very fact that she has met one of the top generals, no matter who it is, is significant,'' said another Rangoon-based diplomat. The meeting is certainly being seen as a sign that the dialogue process, brokered by the UN envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, may now be on the verge of a significant breakthrough.

    ``She would never have left her compound if it wasn't to see one of the top brass, someone like General Than Shwe or Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt,'' said a Western diplomat.

    Since she was placed under house arrest 18 months ago, Suu Kyi has almost never left her residence, although she has been allowed a string of visitors, including UN envoys and senior diplomats. She didn't even attend the Martyr's Day ceremony last year which marks her father's assassination.

    News of the latest meeting came amidst growing speculation that the talks between the two sides had in fact stalled. Despite more than a year of contact between Suu Kyi and the Burmese military leaders mainly through a military intelligence liaison officer there's been few tangible results from the dialogue process.More than 200 political prisoners have been released. But as international human rights groups point out, there's still more than 1,500 political prisoners being held in Burma's jails.The opposition National League for Democracy itself says there are more than 800 of its members still in prison.

    Many diplomats in Rangoon had begun to fear that Burma's generals were now simply dragging the process out and had little intention of discussing real political reform. ``While the junta is being given the benefit of the doubt and appear to be committed to the process, they'll never make any real political concessions,'' said one Western diplomat in Rangoon.

    The United Nations envoy, Mr Razali, whose constant visits to Rangoon have kept the dialogue process alive, has been urging the Burmese military regime to step up the process. For this to happen, the two sides would have to start taking about substantive issues. The main obstacle to that remains the pace of the release of political prisoners and the lifting of the restrictions on the opposition leader herself.

    UN sources say that Mr Razali has told the Burmese generals that Suu Kyi's release from house arrest was a necessary prerequisite for the dialogue process to progress. He's also urged them to speed up the release of political prisoners.As the talks between the two sides are being conducted in strict secrecy, it is impossible to know what was discussed at last week's meeting. But the issue of political prisoners must have been high on the agenda.

    Suu Kyi has insisted all along that the remaining elected members of parliament, believed to be currently 19, would have to be freed before she would consider being released herself.

    UN sources say that Mr Razali has discussed with both Suu Kyi and the Burmese generals a proposal that would allow Suu Kyi to be freed, at least temporarily.The latest meeting between Suu Kyi and the senior generals of the junta has again raised hopes that the opposition leader may be released from house arrest in the near future.

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    National League for Democracy branch to reopen 30 January

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 30, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 29 January

    A ceremony to reopen Latha Township National League for Democracy [NLD] office has been planned for tomorrow [30 January]. NLD spokesperson U Lwin told DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] that a total of 31 NLD Township Offices have been reopened in Rangoon [Yangon] Division so far.

    U Lwin said, as more and more NLD Township Offices have gradually reopened, NLD members are also enjoying more freedom of movement. U Lwin added, ordinary NLD members visiting the NLD Headquarters before were questioned by military intelligence personnel and sometimes prevented from going but now they are all free to come and go anytime.

    U Lwin noted that although he was satisfied with the improvement in the freedom of movement, he was displeased with the ongoing dialogue [between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC] and the release of political prisoners.

    The NLD's 54th Anniversary Independence Day Statement issued on 4 January urged the SPDC to release all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as soon as possible and to increase the momentum of the ongoing dialogue.

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    Protestor Located in Insein

    The Irrawaddy
    By Kyaw Zwa Moe

    January 30, 2002 - Imprisoned protestor Dr Salai Tun Than is being detained in Rangoon's Insein prison and authorities said he would be prosecuted for distributing pro-democracy pamphlets in downtown Rangoon, according to a very reliable source.

    Dr Salai Tun Than also suffers from an eye disorder that requires daily treatment and it has possibly spread to his other eye since his detainment, according to the source. He has not been permitted to have any visitors since his arrest on November 29, 2001, however, his family has been able to send him medicine via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Rangoon.

    A Christian and a member of the Chin ethnic group, Dr Salai Tun Than was arrested by the Mililtary Intelligence Service (MIS) from Botataung township due to his solo protest in front of Rangoon City Hall and his distribution of a letter that called for Burma's military leaders to hold a free and democratic election.

    Dr Salai Tun Than, a retired agronomist, had devoted himself to rural development in Ngaphe township of Magwe Division. In 1993, he established the Myanmar Integrated Rural Development Association (MIRDA), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), with the assistance of the Myanmar Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. The group cultivated orange, coffee and tea for villages in the area.

    Burma's ruling military government never allowed MIRDA to officially operate in the country. MIRDA faced continual disturbances from the regime and donors were prohibited from visiting MIRDA sites. The regime at one point destroyed over half of MIRDA's orchards. Dr Salai himself was also prohibited from conducting agriculture-training workshops, according to a source familiar with the MIRDA. It is believed that these disturbances caused the professor to protest against the junta, according to the source.

    Yesterday, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission made an urgent appeal for an increased international response to the doctor's arrest. In Burma a couple dozen NGOs are permitted to operate, however, the government strictly controls their activities.

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    Burma detains UNHCR project employee in Arakan State

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    January 30: A local employee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Burma's south-western state is being detained by the Burmese immigration and border security force, according to a news release of Arakan dissidents. Mr. Jafar Alam, a UNHCR project employee in Maungdaw township, which borders with Bangladesh has been detained by the Nasaka (Immigration and Security Task Force) since second week of January, the Narinjara News reported today.

    When contacted by our correspondent, the UNHCR office in Rangoon (Yangon) has confirmed the detention of local employee. "One person with that name is in detention at the moment. He is not a UNHCR staff. He is a person being employed for a UNHCR project", said UNHCR in Rangoon.

    The UNHCR further said that Mr. Jafar Alam is being detained for his personal activities, and his arrest is nothing to do with the UNHCR work in Burma. "He has been detained under alleged illegal private activities. And this has been under investigation by the authorities at the moment. And we have taken up with the authorities and we have been assured that it is not linked with the activities of UNHCR". UNHCR said that the authorities have not pressed any charges on Mr. Jafar Alam at the moment.

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    Myanmar Leader Stresses Importance of Education

    YANGON, January 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar top leader Senior General Than Shwe has stressed the importance of education, calling on intellectuals to equip themselves with advanced education at a time when globalization is in progress and science and technology are the dominant factor.

    Than Shwe, Chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, made the remarks when meeting trainees of a primary teachership course here, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

    "If we fail to acquire the advancing science and technology to apply them for the progress of the nation and the people, we will be left behind in the process of globalization," he warned.

    According to official statistics, Myanmar added 6,180 basic education schools in the whole country in 13 years' time since 1988 when the present government took office and the total number of such schools has reached 39,927 now.Meanwhile, the number of students receiving education in these basic education schools grew by 1.82 million during the 13-year period, reaching 7.05 million now.

    Besides, the government built 110 universities and colleges during the period, bringing the total number of institutes of higher learning to 142 at present. During the 13 years' time, the number of students studying at these higher education institutions increased by 416,719, bringing their total number to 556,456.In addition to the regular education, multi-media classrooms have also been opened at 481 schools and 203 electronic learning centers have been set up in the whole country.

    Meanwhile, Myanmar is implementing a 30-year long-term plan for basic education from the current fiscal year of 2001-02 to 2030-31 in six phases each lasting for 5 years, aiming at bringing about rapid development of qualified human resources in the country to meet the challenges of the present knowledge age.

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    Myanmar Newspaper Emphasizes Outside Assistance in Poverty Elimination

    YANGON, January 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The New Light newspaper emphasized the importance of outside assistance in poverty elimination in Myanmar, saying that such aid for rural development undertakings will accelerate momentum in launching poverty elimination projects.

    The paper attributed the poverty of Myanmar to the existence of the development gap between the urban and rural areas for various reasons which caused the low standard of living of rural people.

    "Due to the obstruction of the big nations which have no clear outlook on Myanmar, the country has not received outside assistance for a long time except for a small amount of aid presented by United Nations, the paper complained.

    It also blamed that the total assistance provided by the U.N. agencies in 2000 was less than one U.S. dollar per person, comparing to the amount of such aid received by other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam (about 15 dollars per person), Cambodia (about 42 dollars per person) and Laos (about 82 dollars per person).

    However, the paper went on to say that due to "bold and correct" policies of the country, Myanmar is achieving marked progress in poverty eradication.The paper added that the nation is gaining success to a certain degree in reducing poverty in the rural areas based on self-reliance efforts.

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    U20: Myanmar Beat Indonesia 2-0 in ASEAN Soccer

    MIC :Information Sheet No.C-2103 (I) 30th January, 2002

    The last match of the Group-A of ASEAN U-20 Soccer Tournament was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 29 January. The tournament is being held from 23 January to 4 February. In the match, selected Myanmar youth team beat selected Indonesia youth team 2-0.

    The Group-A round robin matches of the tournament finished on 29 January evening. Selected Myanmar youth team secured the second place in the group and moved into the semifinal with seven points. Host Thai youth team, the first in the group, also entered the semifinal with 10 points. The semifinals will be held on 1 February 2002 and the final will be held on 3 February.

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