Daily News- July 07- 2002- Sunday

  • Myanmar students-in-exile slam ruling junta
  • Locally produced beer dominates market in Myanmar
  • Karenni to be moved away from villagers

  • Myanmar students-in-exile slam ruling junta

    BANGKOK, July 7 (AFP) - Mynamar's exiled student leaders on Sunday slammed Yangon for dragging its feet on national reconciliation and called on the ruling military junta to take steps to "solve the political problems" there.

    A statement by the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) also called for the immediate release of political prisoners in the isolated state as well as the legalisation of all civil institutions including the ABFSU.

    The statement marked the 40th anniversary of the so-called July 7th affair, in which the student union building in the capital of Myanmar, formerly Burma, was demolished after students demonstrated against the military's 1962 takeover.

    "Today in Burma, people face economic, social, health and educational turmoil and they lack democracy," the ABFSU statement said."Students remain prohibited from establishing the student unions legally. In addition, thousands of students, including ABFSU chairperson Min Ko Naing ... have been detained in the regime's notorious prisons because of their peaceful involvement in political activities."

    Some 1,500 political prisoners are held in Myanmar jails, of which 800 are members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).

    The student group, which operates with relative openness in Thailand but whose leaders are occasionally forced into hiding, called for "a genuine dialogue in order to solve the political problems in Burma", and said they "vow to continue to fight to legalise and rebuild student unions in Burma."

    Myanmar was rocked by student-led demonstrations against military rule in 1988 which were suppressed by the military. Troops opened fire on demonstrators, leaving hundreds or thousands dead according to different estimates.

    On May 27, 1990, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD won a sweeping parliamentary election, but the junta refused to recognise the results.Yangon has been engaged in secret talks with Aung San Suu Kyi since October 2000, and although the Nobel peace laureate's house arrest restrictions were lifted two months ago, there has been little if any progress in the dialogue.

    Restrictions on students have been particularly harsh, with Myanmar's universities closed for much of the 1990s and only a handful of post-graduate programmes such as medicine open today."The student unions in Burma have traditionally struggled to end civil war and promote educational rights," the statement said, adding that the group was concerned about the junta's continuing offensive against anti-Yangon ethnic insurgents along the border with Thailand.

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    Locally produced beer dominates market in Myanmar

    YANGON, July 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Locally produced beer in Myanmar nowdominates the country's domestic beer market as demand has grown steeply over the past 10 years. Five brands of beer products -- Myanmar Beer, Tiger Beer, ABC Stout, Anchor and Ra shandy -- have about 83 percent of the local market with Myanmar Beer alone holding 75 percent, according to beer industry sources.

    The Myanmar Brewery Ltd (MBL), formed in March 1995 amid the country's adoption of the market-oriented economic system, is a semi-government enterprise with 45 percent stake held by the Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd and the remaining 55 percent shared by a multi-national corporation named Fraser and Neave Group basedin Singapore.

    Tiger Beer, ABC Stout and Anchor Beer, all of which are foreignbrands, are manufactured under license from Asia Pacific BreweriesLtd, while Myanmar Beer and Ra shandy are purely Myanmar brands. The two Myanmar-brand beer products, introduced since 1997, arefinding markets in Australia, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Singapore. Apart from these products, there are locally produced Mandalay Beer, Dagon Beer and Skol Beer. Of them, Mandalay Beer is the oldest brand brewed since 1886. Myanmar imports raw material such as malt and hop from Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

    Government statistics show that Myanmar produced 3.987 million gallons (18.12 million liters) of beer in 2001. Myanmar people consume less than one liter of beer per person per year, much lower than people in other countries, whose consumption range from 10 to 200 liters per person per year. Meanwhile, demand for imported liquor products is also increasing.

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    Karenni to be moved away from villagers

    Chewin Sattha
    The Bangkokpost

    Mae Hong Son authorities will move over 4,000 Karenni refugees to camps closer to the Thai-Burmese border to stop them from creating problems for Thai villagers.

    Pisanu Swasdee, deputy provincial governor, said administrative, military, police and security staff in the province had decided to move the 4,347 refugees from a temporary camp that is only four kilometres from communities in Ban Naisoi village in Muang district's tambon Pangmoo .They will be relocated six kilometres westwards to Pang Khwai, Pang Tractor and Ban Mai Pangphueng camps that are about one to two kilometres from the border.

    According to Mr Pisanu, the refugees are members of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) opposite Muang and Khun Yuam districts and have been in Ban Naisoi since 1991 when they were suppressed by the Burmese junta.

    Provincial authorities feel that the refugees' existence has brought alien attacks from the border to the village. The refugees have also stolen produce from Thai villagers, worked for illegal loggers and damaged the environment in the vicinity. Besides, they use drugs, have arms, make bootleg liquor, and dump garbage in water resources and plantations of the villagers.Mr Pisanu said that they had to be moved to end conflicts with villagers.

    Apart from the security and environmental problems, many poor villagers living near the camp were unhappy to see various organisations directing assistance packages only to the refugees while ignoring them, he said. The refugees will be moved July 15-Sept 15.

    Local police and volunteers will provide transport and Mae Hong Son's border command centre together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will keep tabs on them.

    The KNPP recently announced that Burmese troops were likely to attack several refugee camps along the border. The authorities will boost security measures at the camps.The Seventh Infantry Regiment and the 336th Border Patrol Police company will be responsible for security.The Ban Naisoi camp also houses 150 long-necked Karens but provincial authorities will let them stay because they are a tourist attraction.

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