Daily News- July 19 - 2002- Friday

  • Rights group urges UN focus on Myanmar Muslims
  • Two Myanmar nationals escape forced labour on Thai trawler
  • Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi attends official Martyrs' Day ceremony
  • Myanmar opposition calls for dialogue to resolve national crisis
  • Iris ready to start e-Passport in Myanmar

  • Rights group urges UN focus on Myanmar Muslims

    NEW YORK, July 18 (AFP) - Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged the UN special envoy to Myanmar to take up the plight of the Southeast Asian county's embattled Muslim community when he visits next month.

    In a 12-page report released prior to the visit, the New York-based rights watchdog listed a spate of attacks on Myanmarese Muslims and the steady erosion of their religious freedoms.

    "The government must protect the rights of Muslims. Instead, it has imposed restrictions on Muslim religious activities and taken no action to punish those responsible for destroying Muslim homes and mosques," said Human Rights Watch director Mike Jendrzejczyk.

    Violence against Myanmar's Muslim minority was triggered by anger among the overwhelmingly Buddhist population at the destruction in March 2001 of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan by the hardline Islamic Taliban regime then in power.

    In some cities outside the capital, Yangon, there were credible reports of military intelligence officers "stirring up anti-Muslim violence," the human rights group said.The worst violence occurred in May and September last year when Myanmar's economic crisis was at its most severe.In Taungoo north of Yangon, more than 1,000 people led by "robed Buddhist monks" attacked Muslim shops, homes and mosques.There were beatings and at least nine deaths, according to witnesses cited in the report.Since then, Muslims nationwide have complained of restricted freedom to travel and to worship.

    The UN special envoy, former Malaysian ambassador Razali Ismail, is due to make his eighth trip to Myanmar on August 2.He is expected to meet with ethnic leaders as well as members of the ruling military junta and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

  • Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper

    Two Myanmar nationals escape forced labour on Thai trawler

    YANGON, July 18 (AFP) - Two Myanmar nationals were rescued at sea after escaping from a Thai trawler where they had been forced to work and suffered abuse, a report in Myanmar's official press said Thursday.

    The pair drifted on the sea for around three days before being rescued by a Malaysian tanker earlier this month, the New Light of Myanmar reported.Aung Myo Htwe, 22, and Kyaw Win Tun, 19, "jumped off the trawler as they could not bear the tortures inflicted on them by Yodaya sailors of the fishing boat while working on it in July," the report said.

    Yodaya is a former name of Thailand which has been used in a derogatory manner in Myanmar's state-run press since a diplomatic brawl erupted between the neighbours, sparked by a border dispute in May.

    The New Light of Myanmar said that during their time on the Thai boat the two young men were subjected to abusive language, kicks and punches, and were whipped and had boiling water thrown at them.The Malaysian tanker transported the two to Singapore, from where they were taken back to the capital Yangon on July 12, it said.The two had reportedly gone to Thailand's southern Ranong province where they found work on board a fish transport ship, but were transferred to two different trawlers.

    Kyaw Win Tun said he understood enough Thai to realise they had been bought for 10,000 baht (248 dollars) and would be forced to work on the trawler for three years without payment, the report said.The two then stole flotation buoys from fishing nets and jumped overboard at night, it said.

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    Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi attends official Martyrs' Day ceremony

    YANGON, July 19 (AFP) - Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday attended a government ceremony marking Martyrs' Day, which honours the anniversary of her father's assassination in 1947.

    General Aung San is highly respected both by the junta and the pro-democracy movement for his role as the nation's founder and independence hero.The ceremony, held amid tight security at the Martyrs' Mausoleum in the shadow of Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda, began with a 15-minute appearance by a delegation from the military junta.

    Led by Cultural Minister Tin Win, officials including Chief Justice Aung Toe and Attorney-General Tha Tun laid wreaths as the national anthem was played.Military buglers then played the Last Post as the national flag was lowered to half-mast.

    After the official delegation departed, Aung San Suu Kyi was escorted to the site by Brigadier-General Than Tun, who acts as her liaison officer with the regime.Dressed in black and white, and without the usual sprig of flowers adorning her hair, the pro-democracy leader was accompanied to the monument by five young girls.She solemnly laid three baskets of lilies and orchards, as one of the girls held an umbrella aloft to shield her from the gentle drizzle that fell during the morning ceremony.The opposition leader kowtowed -- bowing from a kneeling position -- three times and left within a few minutes.

    Aung San Suu Kyi did not attend last year's Martyrs' Day ceremony, as a gesture to highlight the house arrest conditions imposed by the junta since September 2000.The Nobel peace laureate was finally released from house arrest on May 6 this year, a move that raised hopes for the reconciliation process she began with the generals a month after she was confined to her home.

    In recent weeks, however, there have been concerns that the landmark dialogue between the opposition leader and the ruling State Peace and Development Council has failed to make further progress.In a positive sign, Aung San Suu Kyi made a triumphant nine-day visit to the northern city of Mandalay and other places earlier this month, which appeared to have been facilitated by the junta.

    In other events to mark Martyrs' Day, members of the families of the other soldiers assassinated along with Aung San, and foreign diplomats, also laid wreaths.Aung San Oo, Aung San Suu Kyi's elder brother who is suing for half-ownership of her Yangon residence, did not attend the ceremony this year but a close friend, Nan Nwe, laid a wreath on his behalf.

    The public was allowed to pay its respects at the mausoleum only after the official ceremony was completed. Across Yangon, flags were being flown at half-mast.Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is scheduled to hold its own commemorative ceremony this afternoon.

    Myanmar opposition calls for dialogue to resolve national crisis

    YANGON, July 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), Friday called on the government for a meeting as soon as possible to find settlement tothe country's political and economic crisis.

    U Tin Oo, NLD Vice-Chairman, made the call at the party's headquarters here marking the country's 55th Martyrs' Day. Ever since Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), NLD General Secretary, was released from 19 months' house arrest by the government on May 6, the NLD has called for face-to- face discussions with the ruling military on policy matters to find solution on them, saying that so long as these have not been resolved, the party's original policy and stance will not change.

    The policy matters cover dealing with the result of the 1990 general election, national convention, drawing up of state constitution and other sectors such as politics, economy, health and education, and foreign investment.

    Despite ASSK's release, which signaled the end of the 18-month confidence talks between the government and the NLD, no exact timetable has been worked out by the government to continue the dialogue as a follow-up in the course of national reconciliation.

    The Martyrs' Day meeting was attended by NLD Chairman U Aung Shwe, ASSK, other senior party leaders, elected parliament representatives in the 1990 general election, foreign diplomats and newsmen as well as the party's supporters totaling about 300.

    Meanwhile, the government had also held a state ceremony earlier Friday at the Martyrs' Mausoleum to mark the event, at which ASSK laid wreaths and baskets of flower at the tomb of her father, Myanmar's national independence hero General Aung San who was assassinated along with his eight councilor members on July 19,1947 before the country regained independence in 1948.

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    Iris ready to start e-Passport in Myanmar

    The star
    Hong Boon How

    IRIS Corp Bhd expects to start its pilot project on the implementation of the electronic passport (e-Passport) system in Myanmar next month. Iris managing director Tan Say Jim said the company had received the appointment from the E-National Task Force of the Union of Myanmar on July 15.

    Myanmar will be the second country after Malaysia to use the e- Passport which the Malaysian Immigration Department implemented in March 1998,’’ Tan said at a media briefing on the company’s operations in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. He said the pilot project would involve the implementation of the complete system from front-end capture systems for passport personalisation to automatic gates for faster immigration processing at Myanmar’s international airport.

    Iris will also work on the local integration of the system which includes the transfer of technology to the relevant agencies involved in the pilot project. Iris’ 49.5%-owned associated company Iris Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd is involved in the manufacture of smart cards for identification and passport uses.

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