Daily News- March 06- 2002- Wednesday

  • Burma Denounces US Human Rights Report
  • Asylum-seeker to demand reparation for detention
  • Peace Prize Exhibit Shows History
  • Military dictators accused of drugs trafficking
  • Bodies of 13 Burmese found
  • Jets Arrive in Burma
  • Burma seeks inquiry into bodies mystery
  • Annual Myanma Gems Emporium Opens

  • Burma Denounces US Human Rights Report

    VOA News

    Burma's military government has called Washington's
    latest report on human rights "incorrect" and "outlandish."

    The U.S. State Department report, released Monday, labeled Burma's human rights record as extremely poor. The document accused Burmese leaders and soldiers of suppressing basic liberties, sentencing people to death without a fair trial, and committing rape.

    The military government responded to the report Tuesday by saying the United States does not have its facts straight. Rangoon also said the U.S. report was designed to find fault with others while exempting the United States from any blame.

    Another accusation in the report is that the military government maintained its tight grip on power, while keeping opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under virtual house arrest throughout the year.

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    Asylum-seeker to demand reparation for detention

    The Japan Times: March 6, 2002

    A Myanmar asylum-seeker told the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday that he will demand redress from the Justice Ministry and an explanation of why it suddenly reversed its dismissal of his application for refugee status just as his three-year court battle against the decision was about to end.

    The 29-year-old plaintiff, whose name has been withheld, is seeking 11.8 million yen in damages to compensate for his one year of detention by immigration authorities and to cover legal fees, his supporters said.

    The ministry sent the man a letter last month simply stating it has canceled the decision not to recognize him as a refugee. His lawyers claim this was an attempt to avoid a court ruling against the ministry's refugee-recognition process.

    The plaintiff came to Japan in 1998 and applied for refugee status, claiming he would be persecuted by Myanmar's military junta for his prodemocracy activism. The ministry rejected the application and then dismissed an appeal later that year.

    The man was detained at immigration facilities for almost a year after his arrival at Narita airport, until he gained temporary release upon his fifth request. After he filed the suit demanding nullification of the rejection, the ministry argued in court for almost three years that his claim was untrustworthy.

    At Tuesday's court session, his lawyers expressed their intention to continue the trial against the ministry by changing their demand to damages caused by the immigration authority's denial of his refugee status and for his detention.

    The man said his rights were violated by immigration authorities during the refugee-recognition process as he was treated roughly, taken to detention facilities in handcuffs, confined like a criminal, and had his letters to lawyers and friends censored.

    Shogo Watanabe, the leading lawyer for the plaintiff, told the court the ministry must explain how it reached its decision and use the case to improve its refugee-recognition system by making it more transparent and professional.

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    Peace Prize Exhibit Shows History

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Nelson Mandela releases a white dove. Mikhail Gorbachev stands beside a remnant of the Berlin Wall. Aung San Suu Kyi looks out a window. Yasser Arafat holds a picture of the late Yitzhak Rabin.

    Photographs of these Nobel Peace Prize winners reflect what U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the newest peace laureate, calls ``a century of savage loss and bloodshed, but also one of extraordinary progress and vision.''

    The new exhibit at U.N. headquarters commemorating the centennial of the Nobel Peace Prize opened Monday and continues through March. Annan said the exhibition illustrates the debt to previous winners, ``who worked so hard and took such risks, over the past century, to save humanity from the scourge of war.''

    Some like Mandela, who was instrumental in ending apartheid in South Africa, and Gorbachev, the Soviet leader key to ending the Cold War, succeeded.

    Others like Suu Kyi, who has been struggling to bring democracy to Myanmar and has been under house detention since September 2000, and Arafat, the Palestinian leader currently confined by Israel to the West bank town of Ramallah, have not.

    The exhibition includes the first Nobel peace laureate in 1901, Jean Henri Dunant, the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    Arafat is pictured holding a photo of Rabin, the slain Israeli prime minister who shared the 1994 prize. The caption says, ``Bethlehem heralded an eternal message to the world: 'peace on earth and good will toward mankind.' Let the year 2000 be a transition, for the realization of the dream of all people: peace, love and brotherhood everywhere on earth.''

    Next to Arafat's image is that of the third winner that year, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, with a dove flying above him. He wrote: ``While previous human history was written in red ink, the color of war; we hope that the future history will be written in green color, the color of hope.''

    In his portrait, Annan holds a white dove while looking at a globe. The caption from his December lecture says: ``Peace is not the sole responsibility of any individual, institution or nation but the responsibility of each and everyone.''

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    Military dictators accused of drugs trafficking


    Opposition spokesperson Sai Wansai declares in Lisbon that the armed struggle against the oppressive regime in Rangoon must continue and claims that the military dictatorship is held in power by drugs money.

    Sai Wansai, leader of the Shan Democratic Union (SDU), claims that there are two ways forward: continuing with dialogue but also with the armed resistance to the oppressive regime in Rangoon, led by General Ne Win.

    The regime has carried out mass killings, genocide, the attempted extermination of various ethnic groups, and deportations from thousands of villages around the country, as the regime tries to silence internal opposition, mainly from the SDU, KNU and SNLD. The villagers are herded into concentration camps, where they are watched over by soldiers on turrets.

    "Ne Win has managed to transform one of the world’s leading producers of rice into an international bastion for drugs production", claimed Sai Wansai, who added that "the drugs money is all channelled into the purchase of weapons or combat aircraft".

    The three sides to this conflict are the Military Junta led by General Ne Win, the National League for Democracy and the armed factions of the eight ethnic groups. Sai Wansai defends the creating of a Federation of States and a continuing process of dialogue to solve the country’s problems.

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    Bodies of 13 Burmese found

    The Nation

    Police yesterday launched an investigation into the brutal killings of 13 people - including five children and some with heavily bruised bodies - who were found in rice sacks on a waste site in Muang district. Police rushed to scene after being alerted by a local villager.

    Provincial deputy police commander Pol Col Pinit Satcharoen said that some of the victims had broken necks and severe bruises, while others appeared to have drowned.

    Their clothes were still wet and their bodies bore no trace of gunshot or knife wounds, Pinit said, adding that some were also suspected of having been poisoned.

    The victims were a man, seven women, three boys and two girls. They were believed to have been dead for at least eight hours but less than 24 hours before being discovered, Pinit said. The rice sacks containing the bodies were dumped under sacks of fertiliser and animal waste. "We are still looking for more evidence at the scene," Pinit said.

    Police found tyre track traces near the scene, leading them to believe the victims were murdered elsewhere and moved to the site by truck before being dumped.

    Police suspect those killed were Burmese immigrants as they wore longyi -Burmese sarongs. A note written in Burmese and Burmese bank notes were found among the bodies. Several local villagers told police that the dead were possibly workers from a nearby construction site. Police said they were transporting the bodies to the Police Hospital in Bangkok for autopsies.

    Prachin Buri Governor, Chaijit Rattakajorn, said the sacks were produced in Samut Prakan and were imprinted with a logo from the Krungthep Animal Food Co.

    The murders come at a time when the government is trying to encourage employers of Burmese workers to join a registration programme, allowing the government to better ascertain the number of Burmese workers in Thailand.

    Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said he believed the victims were Burmese nationals working illegally in Thailand.

    Last month, 20 corpses, believed to be of ethnic Burmese, were found floating downstream in a river along the Thai-Burmese border in Tak's Mae Sot district. Last October, the Labour ministry registered around 560,000 of an estimated two million illegal workers in an effort to control the flow.

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    Jets Arrive in Burma

    By Win Htein
    the Irrawaddy

    March 06, 2002- Burma's new fleet of twelve MIG-29 jet fighters arrived at Methtila Air Base in central-Burma last week, according to military observers on the Thai-Burma border. Russia sold the MIG-29s to Burma last year in a highly controversial deal.

    "Russian air force officials are ready to train twenty Burmese pilots at the base," defense analyst U Htay Aung told the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). He added that Burmese Air Force Chief Maj Gen Myint Swe also visited Russia in late February for special training.

    Burmese observers' have criticized Burma's cash starved regime for spending an estimated US $130 million on the jets.

    Meanwhile, five Russian missile experts believed to be assisting Burma in the building of a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Battery arrived in Burma's southern coastal region last week. An unknown member of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) reportedly accompanied the group to Alechaung Village in the Tenasserim Division's Mergui District, according to the DVB.

    "Since last year, they (Burma's government) have been reinforcing their air power and they have also built new air defense mechanisms along the Thai-Burma border," said U Htay Aung.

    According to reports in the Thai media, Thai military officials and the United States are both concerned over the recent increase in military ties between Russia and Burma.

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    Burma seeks inquiry into bodies mystery

    source : BBC

    Burma's military junta has asked the Thai Government to launch an inquiry into the deaths of 13 Burmese nationals whose bodies were found dumped in north-eastern Thailand.

    Police in Prachinburi province initially said they believed the Burmese - who included children and teenagers - had been murdered. But a forensic investigation has found they suffocated, probably accidentally during the difficult journey from Burma. Officials in Thailand say they believe the Burmese were the victims of an illegal smuggling racket.

    A police spokesman, Major General Pongsapat Pongjaroen, told the BBC it was possible the victims had suffocated as they crossed the border underneath a truck. The bodies, in empty sandbags, were found dumped at a quarry and hidden under piles of fertiliser sacks.

    Migrant workers

    The head of the police forensic department, Major General Chid Samathiwat, said he estimated the victims were aged between 12 and 25 years old and that they died late on Monday night. He said the victims' heads were twisted due to rigor mortis, and that their necks were not broken as was previously thought.

    Thailand has just begun a campaign to repatriate thousands of Burmese working illegally in the country. Burma has set up a camp at Myawaddy, on the Thai-Burma border to receive them.

    Before the forensic findings emerged, Kyaw Win, Burma's deputy chief of military intelligence told reporters he believed the 13 Burmese had been murdered.

    "This is something that should not have taken place at all at a time when we are repatriating," he said. "We will make a request through the foreign ministry to the Thai Government to take serious action against the murderers after investigation and to prevent similar incidents from breaking out and to give Burmese workers protection."

    The Burmese workers in Thailand are known to be unpopular with the local population. Last month the bodies of about 14 workers, thought to be Burmese, were found dumped in a creek in north-western Thailand.

    Officials said they suspected those victims were Karen migrant labourers killed by their Thai employer to avoid paying them, or hired for criminal activity and then killed when they had finished the job.

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    Annual Myanma Gems Emporium Opens

    YANGON, March 5 (Oana-Xinhua) -- The 39th annual Myanma Gems Emporium opened here Tuesday, putting on sale a total of US$24.83 million worth of locally-produced quality gems, pearl and jewelry through competitive bidding, tender and at fixed prices.

    So far, a total of 174 merchants of 74 companies from 13 countries and regions, including those from China, China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Japan, Singapore and Thailand, came to attend the eight-day state-sponsored emporium. Meanwhile, local gem traders are also invited for the bidding.

    Besides the annual events taking place every year in March since 1964, Myanmar also used to hold mid-year ones in October to boost the country's gems sale. At the 38th annual and 10th mid-year Myanma gems emporiums held in 2001, US$10.12 million and US$9.556 million were fetched, respectively.

    Myanmar, a well-known producer of jade, ruby and sapphire in the world, has earned a total of US$339.834 million of foreign exchange from its 38 annual and 10 mid-year gems emporiums, according to official statistics.

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