Daily News- July 30- 2002- Tuesday

  • Myanmar vows to punish soldier rapists ,no Suu Kyi meeting imminent
  • Myanmar says it is prepared for grilling on human rights record
  • Monywa copper project in Myanmar seeks fresh finance
  • U Win Tin is transferred to Rangoon General Hospital Prison Ward
  • Myanmar not to hold talks with anti- govt group SURA
  • Thailand, Burma agree to settle border row


  • Myanmar vows to punish soldier rapists ,no Suu Kyi meeting imminent

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN,(AP) Brunei, July 30 - Myanmar rejected allegations that its soldiers used rape as a war tactic against ethnic rebels, but vowed Tuesday to punish any troops found to have committed the crime.

    Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Win Aung said that the military government has no plans to start talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She was freed from house arrest in May but has had no meeting with the ruling generals on the country's future.

    Win Aung told The Associated Press ahead of the Asia-Pacific's largest security forum that he would meet Secretary of State Colin Powell if invited, but that he has not requested talks.

    Western nations at the ASEAN Regional Forum are expected to raise the claims that hundreds of women were raped in the vast majority of cases by officers in front of their troops in areas of Myanmar's Shan state that are contested by the government and ethnic rebels. The claims, made in human rights reports, say that in some cases, pregnant women were stabbed with bayonets and men were burned to death as they watched their daughters being raped.

    Win Aung disputed the allegations, claiming that the reports came from sources that ''try to tarnish our image whenever possible'' and that the army was highly disciplined. Win Aung suggested that the reports would be investigated, but gave no details and did not say when.

    ''Action will be taken against those who are found to have committed such crimes,'' Win Aung said. ''This is not policy. We would never dream of that. We would try to find the facts, if there are factual truths to find.''

    Win Aung said that talks between the government and Suu Kyi are not on the agenda, despite her criticism that hopes of reconciliation will collapse without face-to-face talks soon.

    The government is ''laying the groundwork'' and ''analyzing the situation'' for talks, Win Aung said, but there is no sign when. ''I'm not an astronomer,'' Win Aung said. ''I cannot say.''

    The government has freed hundreds of political prisoners over the past year, but more than 1,000 are estimated to remain in the country's jails. Win Aung said that all of them would not be freed at once, but that some would be released ''in batches'' pending legal review.

    The annual ASEAN Regional Forum brings together the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with 13 other countries with security interests in the Asia-Pacific, including the United States, European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, both Koreas, Australia and New Zealand.

    The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962. Suu Kyi rose to prominence during street protests that were bloodily crushed in 1988. Her party overwhelmingly won elections that the army allowed in 1990, but was never allowed to take power. Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She spent most of the past 14 years under house arrest or other restrictions. She has been allowed an unprecedented freedom to move around the country since her latest release in May.

    Myanmar says it is prepared for grilling on human rights record

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, July 29 (AFP) - Myanmar is prepared to answer human rights charges to be levelled at it by the United States during an upcoming dialogue between ASEAN and its key trading partners, Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Win Aung said Monday.The European Union is expected to make similar accusations.

    "There are accusations which are not so reliable but we will address this and we will explain to those who come out with these accusations at the meeting," he told reporters on the sidelines of the ASEAN foreign ministers' talks which opened Monday."It is not a problem for us," he said.

    US Secretary of State Colin Powell has reportedly instructed his diplomats to express outrage at the meeting between ASEAN and its 10 partners Thursday over claims that Myanmar troops have systematically raped girls and women in the eastern Shan state.

    ASEAN officials stressed that Myanmar had made substantial progress on its human rights front since the end of 2000, notably the release of 300 political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in May.But human rights' concerns reemerged when troops were recently accused of using systematic rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minority women in Shan.

    A report by the Shan Human Rights Foundation and Shan Women's Action Network documents the rapes of 625 girls and women in the state by Myanmar troops, mostly between 1996 and 2001.The junta vehemently denied the charges but the United States has expressed concern over the report and urged Yangon to fully investigate the claims.

    Powell, who will attend the ASEAN meetings, has instructed his diplomats to convey their outrage over the report, the Washington Post said.

    U Win Aung said "sometimes some countries will like to look for something to accuse us. When they are running out of one item, they will stick on to another one. We have to face that and we will face that."He also rejected suggestions that Myanmar was "friendly with governments of terror or like that." He did not elaborate.

    It has been reported that Myanmar's military junta wanted to prevent elaborate discussion of its human rights record at the ASEAN meeting amid expected criticism from the EU and the United States.

    The junta has particularly objected to a paragraph on "the reconciliation process" in Myanmar for inclusion in a joint communique to be released by the ASEAN ministers after their talks, a Western diplomat said.The paragraph was intended to welcome the May release from house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as part of the reconciliation process in Myanmar, officials drafting the communique said.ASEAN officials said Brunei sought reinstatement of the paragraph in the ministerial communique.The latest draft of the communique made no mention about the political developments in Myanmar.

    Monywa copper project in Myanmar seeks fresh finance

    YANGON, July 29 (Xinhuanet) -- The Myanmar Ivanhoe Copper Company Ltd, a Myanmar- Canadian joint venture, is seeking fresh finance from Japanese companies for the implementation of the second phaseof its huge copper project in Myanmar.The Monywa copper project in Myanmar's northwestern Sagaing division is the biggest of its kind in the country.

    The Myanmar Times on Monday quoted the Ivanhoe president as saying that the company will see a total annual production rise to155,000 tons, based on further development of the Letpaduang deposit, another deposit after Sabetaung and Kyisintaung in Monywa.The Sabetaung and the Kyisintaung deposits have been yielding 27,500 tons of top-grade copper annually since the first phase of the project began in 1998.

    The Ivanhoe, which holds a 50-percent joint venture with a Myanmar state mining enterprise, invested 60 million US dollars in the project with an extra 90 million dollars financed by Japanese corporations including Marubeni and Nissho Iwai in the first phaseof the project.

    However, in the implementation of the second phase of the project, another factor influencing the task is the availability of very large amount of electric power as it is five times bigger than the first phase and is estimated to require up to 70 megawatts (mw) of the power, according to the president.

    Official statistics show that foreign contracted investment in Myanmar's mining sector so far amounted to 522.5 million dollars since the country opened to such investment in late 1988, standing as the fifth largest sectorally.

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    U Win Tin is transferred to Rangoon General Hospital Prison Ward

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 29 July 02

    U Win Tin, the former chief editor of Hantharwaddy Newspaper was transferred from Insein Prison to Rangoon General Hospital Prison Ward on 27th July.

    Together with him, U Aye Tha Aung, 52, secretary of the Committee for Representing People's Parliament (CRPP), U Htwe Myint (Vice-Chairman of the Democracy Party) and Dr Than Nyein (NLD elected representative) were also transferred from Insein Hospital Prison Ward to Rangoon General Hospital Prison Ward.

    Amongst them, U Aye Tha Aung's health condition is the worst. According to family source, he might be suffering lung cancer and it might be operated tomorrow, on 30th July if the authorities permit.

    U Win Tin is suffering from pile problem. U Htwe Myint who was prolonged imprisonment by using act 10/A is suffering from Parkinson's disease and unable to walk. Dr. Than Nyein is getting medical treatment for liver problem, according to the family source.

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    Myanmar not to hold talks with anti- govt group SURA

    YANGON, Jul 30, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Myanmar government declared Tuesday it will not have peace talks with the Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA), saying the SURA does not represent an ethnic group.

    Meeting with the press, Major- General Kyaw Win, vice-chief of the Military Intelligence, said except SURA, an anti-government armed group, the government is keeping the door wide open for such talks with other anti-government armed groups including the Kayin National Union (KNU).

    At the press briefing, Colonel San Pwint, deputy head of the Department of the Defense Ministry, disclosed that since 1996, the SURA, which operates on the Myanmar-Thai border, has launched " destructive acts" 25 times on civilian and government targets, killing 220 innocent people and injuring 140.He said that the KNU has also carried out such acts 50 times since then, killing over 100 and injuring over 230.

    Meanwhile, talks between the government and the KNU have been held for six times, bearing no fruits.

    San Pwint accused Thailand of providing the two armed groups with various shelters and arms supply to prolong their existence in the country.

    On May 21, the SURA, allegedly backed by Thai armed forces, overran four government outposts on the Myanmar side of the Myanmar-Thai border. All of the outposts were claimed to have been recaptured by the government forces on June 24. The border incident has brought about tense situation between Myanmar and Thailand.

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    Thailand, Burma agree to settle border row

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, July 30 --Thailand and Burma agreed on Tuesday to work to peacefully settle a bitter row which shut down their common border after a series of bloody clashes in May.

    Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai met his Burmese counterpart Win Aung for more than an hour in Brunei, the highest-level dialogue between the two Association of South East Asian Nations members since the row erupted.

    ''We have a much better understanding now,'' Surakiart told reporters after the meeting, a day before a security dialogue of foreign ministers from 22 Asia Pacific nations and including the United States in Brunei.

    ''We will continue to work together to solve common problems and we both will meet again in the very near future,'' he said.

    He said the two sides had yet to agree on when the border, closed in June, would be reopened.

    Bangkok and Rangoon accuse each other of supporting rival ethnic guerrilla armies involved in the drugs trade in the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet.

    The region is the source of much of the heroin sold in the West and is a growing production area for methamphetamines, known on the streets as ''ice.''

    Win Aung said he was confident relations between the two countries would return to normal soon.

    ``I am confident we can move onwards,'' he told reporters.

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