Daily News- July 08- 2002- Monday

  • Bagan temples may become Myanmar's first World Heritage site
  • U.N. special envoy Razali to visit Myanmar in Aug.
  • Thai PM praised for sheltering Shan
  • Malaysian veteran leader to visit Myanmar next month
  • Myanmar striving to be well-ordered democratic nation: official

  • Bagan temples may become Myanmar's first World Heritage site

    YANGON, July 7 (AFP) - A United Nations official has suggested the temples of Bagan could become Myanmar's first World Heritage site if the military government nominates the spectacular complex, a report said.

    Beatrice Kaldun of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) also told the Myanmar Times that Bagan had potential to be nominated to the elite list if it overcame vital restoration challenges.

    "If Myanmar worked actively with UNESCO and the international community it (Bagan) still has a good chance of becoming a World Cultural Heritage site," Kaldun said in the paper's edition to be published Monday."We can only encourage Myanmar to submit a nomination; it is up to the government," Kaldun said.

    In 1994 Myanmar became a signatory to the UNESCO convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage in 1994.Signing the convention is a requirement for states that nominate a site for world heritage status.

    Bagan stands as one of Southeast Asia's most remarkable archaeological wonders, with 2,217 religious structures intact and over 2,000 ruins.As the former Burmese capital from the 11th to 13th centuries, it reflected the religious zeal, architectural mastery and opulence of its leaders and is considered the finest example of the country's Golden Age.

    Kaldun, who addressed a Bagan seminar on sustainable ecotourism on June 27, said restoration work, though a major challenge, would be necessary at some temples and stupas to ensure they did not collapse, the paper said.

    "But I am not sure that they all need to be restored; sometimes it is better to leave a monument as it is," the paper quoted her as saying.

    There was no reason given for why Mynamar's ruling military junta has not nominated the site, and Kaldun expressed concern that there had been a "misunderstanding".Since 1995 UNESCO has been involved with preservation and restoration efforts at Bagan, which is one of impoverished Myanmar's top tourist destinations, the newspaper said.

    Southeast Asian temple complexes of similar magnitude, namely Cambodia's Angkor and Borobudur in Indonesia, have been on the world heritage list for over a decade.

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    U.N. special envoy Razali to visit Myanmar in Aug.

    YANGON, July 7 Kyodo - U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, who has brokered dialogue between Myanmar junta leaders and opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi, will make his eighth visit to the country in early August, diplomatic sources said Sunday.

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    Thai PM praised for sheltering Shan

    The Bangkokpost

    The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development has thanked the government for delaying repatriation of Shan refugees to Burma, fearing they might be killed by Burmese troops on their return.In a letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the forum praised the government's response to calls for humanitarianism.

    A total of 617 refugees were temporarily being sheltered at Wat Mak Kok Kam and Wat Mak Kayon in Wiang Haeng district, Chiang Mai. They crossed the border to escape fighting from Ban Huay Yao and Muang Tor on May 20.The refugees said Burmese troops and pro-Rangoon Wa rebels viewed them as spies for the Shan State Army, and feared they might be killed if they were sent back.

    Burmese and Wa soldiers have staged bloody battles against the SSA which has taken control of a strategic hill.The fighting triggered an exodus of Shan refugees into Chiang Mai.

    The forum conveyed its concern in a letter signed by Somchai Hormla-or, its secretary-general, at the government's lack of a clear decision on the refugees' future.The concern, it said, came on the heels of reports that Rangoon had offered to reopen the border in exchange for repatriation of the refugees.

    The forum insisted the lives, freedom, and dignity of the refugees, mostly women and children, must not be a condition in bargaining for resumption of border passage.

    Adisuan Nanthachaipan, Wiang Haeng district chief, said any repatriation was pending clear instructions from the Third Army Region next week.He assured that by next week a definite direction on what to do with the refugees would be made known.He conceded the refugees were reluctant to return, saying rival Burmese and Wa soldiers had retained a presence in abandoned villages.

    Authorities were worried the refugees would be forced to set up new villages if pushed back and their proximity could pose a problem for royal-initiated projects situated near the border.

    Mr Adisuan said the province had no policy of establishing a holding centre for refugees due primarily to a limited budget.Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkasingha, Third Army Region commander, said border skirmishes in areas opposite Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai had subsided to a certain extent. Some fighting persisted between Rangoon and SSA troops but the situation was not a pressing concern.He said Rangoon was willing and ready to take back the refugees.

    The refugees have lived in fear after hearing about colleagues crossing back being slaughtered.He said the government would need to shoulder the burden for a while longer and help from the Foreign Ministry may be sought to send the refugees to a third country.The army has proposed turning a one-kilometre radius of the borderline into a demilitarised zone to cushion against border friction.Lt-Gen Udomchai said he believed keeping minority rebels away from the border would improve the border situation.

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    Malaysian veteran leader to visit Myanmar next month

    By SEAN YOONG, Associated Press Writer

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will visit Myanmar at the invitation of the military junta, tentatively on Aug. 18-19, Malaysian officials said Monday.

    Mahathir's trip would come just after U.N. envoy Razali Ismail, a former Malaysian diplomat, makes a visit to accelerate the thaw between the ruling generals and the opposition led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Mahathir, one of Asia's longest-serving leaders, has long resisted what he sees as a Western campaign to criticize Myanmar's military regime, saying it will eventually embrace political change and bring about economic improvement if given time.

    The Malaysian leader played a pivotal role in shepherding Myanmar, also known as Burma, into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1997 despite stiff criticism from Western nations that favored sanctions as the best way to force democratic reform.

    A Malaysian foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Mahathir would deliver a speech to business leaders in Myanmar during the visit, his first to the country since January 2001. The rest of his itinerary was still being finalized.

    Razali is tentatively scheduled to visit Myanmar on Aug. 2. He was appointed a special envoy of the U.N. secretary general two years ago and was instrumental in starting closed-door reconciliation talks between the junta and opposition leader Suu Kyi that began in October 2000.

    Soon after his last visit at the end of April, Suu Kyi was released unconditionally from 19 months' house arrest. She has since been testing the limits of her freedom without provoking confrontation with the junta.

    The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962. The current generation of generals came to power after a crackdown on demonstrators left thousands dead in 1988. The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power after Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won overwhelmingly.Instead, party members were harassed and jailed, and its offices closed down. Suu Kyi was put under house arrest several times and her movements restricted. Hundreds of her followers remain in prison.

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    Myanmar striving to be well-ordered democratic nation: official

    YANGON, July 8 (Xinhuanet) -- A high-ranking Myanmar official said on Monday that his country is striving to become a modern, developed and democratic nation, especially a well-ordered democratic one.

    Tin Hlaing, president of the Myanmar Human Rights Committee, made the remarks here at the opening ceremony of the international seminar on child's rights and the question of their application.

    "To achieve this, we cannot work alone. It is necessary for all the people to clearly understand and act spontaneously and collaborate in a disciplined manner," said Tin Hlaing who is also Minister of Home Affairs.

    The five-day seminar, which is a continuation of last year's, will cover topics of the best interests of the child, the constraints in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Myanmar and transforming the guiding principles of the CRC into action in the country.

    The seminar will also discuss child abuse, child in conflict with the law, child in jail, criminal intervention and how to create a manual for training against abuse. The seminar is organized by the International Institute for the Rights of the Child in collaboration with the Myanmar Human Rights Committee and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue. The first International Seminar of the Rights of the Child was held in Yangon in November 2001.

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