Daily News- March 09- 2002- Saturday

  • Burma Releases 20 More Female Detainees
  • Peace for Burma, to be prayed
  • Indian insurgents get base in Myanmar
  • Thai police arrest labor smugglers in deaths of 13 youths
  • Rohingya refugees from Myanmar 10 years in Bangladesh
  • Myanmar military: Former dictator's family tried to stage coup
  • Myanmar Foils Coup Attempt

  • Burma Releases 20 More Female Detainees

    RANGOON, March 8 (Xinhuanet)-- The Burma junta Friday released 20 female detainees on humanitarian grounds, according to an official Information Sheet reaching here. All of the detainees, who are either pregnant or with young children and were incarcerated for various criminal activities, were freed from various "correctional facilities," the information sheet said.

    The release was another batch in a series since the junta granted amnesty to criminal offenders by releasing 68 of them since February 22 this year and the number of such release on humanitarian grounds has been brought to 195.

    In February this year, United Nations Human Rights envoy to Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, visited the country for 10 days and three days after the end of his trip, the Burma junta started releasing criminal offenders on humanitarian grounds.

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    Peace for Burma, to be prayed

    Network Media Group

    Chiang Mai - The day of pray for Peace in Burma was organized to hold worldwide on March 10, said Amy Davison from Christians Concern for Burma. She said that the Christians Concern for Burma already got responses from Australia, America, England and Hong Kong to take part in the day of pray for peace in Burma.

    This year, there will be lightening of candles as a symbol for peace in Burma, which will be different from previous years at the regional time of 9:00 pm in different parts of the world. The churches from Kachin and Karen areas have already given responses to take part for the day of pray for peace in Burma, Amy continued.

    The preparations were made three months prior to the event and different kinds of media advocacy stuffs such as a press release, a radio program, a cassette tape and a brochure, have been developed and distributed.

    "Generally, we mark the second Sunday of March as the day of pray for peace in Burma. There were people from more than 50 countries took part in the day of pray last year. We could only know people from how many countries join this year only after the day," Amy told in a telephone interview.

    The day of pray is not only for Christians but also for the people of other believes. The people of other religions were also urged to take part and day of pray by praying in their own customs in their holy places or at homes.

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    Indian insurgents get base in Myanmar

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    Guwahati, March 8: Several underground organizations of the North East India have lately consolidated their bases in Myanmar (Burma), according to Indian intelligence sources.

    The four militant groups of the North East India: United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Manipur People's Front (MPF), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Socialist Council Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) are now operating from Myanmar causing a serious problem for the security forces deployed along the border for counter insurgency operations.

    The North East India, comprising seven states Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya has been badly hit by the prolonged militancy problem during the last couple decades. Of the seven states, the problem in Manipur, Assam and Nagaland has taken a worse turn as the militants groups have started operating from the neighboring countries, forcing the security forces to step up operation to contain the problem.

    These Indian states are surrounded by the three foreign countries- Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan and taking advantage of the situation, the insurgent groups are gradually making a strong hold in these countries. Moreover, the international borders have remained open, which helps the militant groups easily cross over the border.

    According to official statistics, during the last couple of years over 3,000 people were killed in the North East India in the militancy-related violence and during the same period, over 5,000 militants belonging to the ULFA, NSCN-K, MPF and the UNLF surrendered. Inspite of this, the militancy problem in the region is getting more complicated. The security forces deployed in the area are facing a tough challenge from the militants, though they shot dead 20 cadres of the ULFA in the bordering areas during the last week.

    Highly-placed official sources who are monitoring the situation in the aftermath of stepped up activities of the ultras are of the view that the entire eastern Myanmar is dominated by the militant groups of the North East India. "The ultras are running several camps in the area with active support from the local people", the sources added. On spurt in activities of the militants along the Indo-Myanmar border, they opined that the region is covered with hostile terrain and taking advantage of it, the underground groups are concentrating in this part.

    Though several organizations have demanded erection of fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border considering the gravity of the situation, the Director General of the Border Roads Organization (BRO), Government of India, Lt. Gen. Prakash Suri has rejected it. According to him, fencing along the international border is not feasible due to prevailing of hostile terrain and rivers. He, however, said that some patches of the border could be fenced to prevent entry of the militants.

    Disappointed with militancy problem, the military government in Myanmar had carried out raids in the hideouts of the UNLF spreading over Tamu and Kalaymyo of Myanmar recently and arrested senior leaders of the outfit besides recovering of a huge cache of arms and ammunitions. But, the leaders are yet to be extradited by the Myanmar government despite repeated demands from the Indian Government.

    Meanwhile, the secretary of the NSCN-K Mr. N Kitovi Zhimomi told Mizzima correspondent that the situation of eastern Myanmar would be volatile as several underground groups have come under one umbrella to launch a joint armed movement. The NSCN-K and the Government of India have signed a ceasefire agreement during last year to pave the way solving militancy problem of Nagaland. However, Indian Government is yet to initiate a formal talk with the underground group.

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    Thai police arrest labor smugglers in deaths of 13 youths

    BANGKOK - Thai police arrested six people Thursday for alleged involvement in the deaths of 13 youths from Myanmar whose bodies were found Monday dumped in an abandoned quarry in the northeastern province of Prachin Buri.

    Police said they arrested three Thai men in the northwestern province of Khampaeng Petch, a Thai man and an ethnic Karen man from Myanmar in the northwestern border town of Mae Sot and a Thai woman married to one of the suspects arrested in Khampaeng Petch in Phitsunalok Province. (Kyodo News)

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    Rohingya refugees from Myanmar 10 years in Bangladesh

    The Independent Bangladesh (08-03-02)

    The Rohingya refugees are the by-standers to a long-running political conflict. From Myanmar, this ethnic group of approximately 250,000 Muslims were pushed across the border into Bangladesh in 1992.

    After ten years, some 21,500 of them are still sheltered in two camps in the area of Cox's Bazar and Teknaf in South-eastern Bangladesh. There seems to be little political will to solve their predicament; repatriation of the refugees back to Myanmar progresses at a very slow rate. The government of Bangladesh is reluctant to initiate integration procedures before all other options are exhausted.

    WFP is responsible for delivering food items for the refugee population of the camps. Every week, members of refugee families receive a food ration with a combination of rice, pulses, oil, salt and sugar. Babies who are born underweight receive a special high-nutrition combination of blended food. The refugees remain wholly dependent on this food for their survival.

    For several years, WFP has worked to increase the participation of women in the daily life of the camps. Through NGOs, women are being targeted for food-for-work and self-help activities. This is not always easy as the Rohingya are a conservative Muslim group of people, with many practising purdah, the seclusion of women from public space.

    WFP works for gender equality so, to maintain its commitments to women and, more specifically, to empower the women refugees of the two camps, WFP organised a gender workshop in February 2002. The aim of this was to introduce to participants of the camp population, as well as local GOB officials, NGO and UN staff, key understandings of relations between men and women. It was stressed how these are not written in stone, but may be changed by individual and collective action. The way we communicate and act on gender issues has effects on the present and future status of relations between men and women. One facilitator in the workshop was an Imam of the local area who spoke to the refugees about issues of family planning mentioned in the Qu'ran. He emphasized how it is important that husband and wife together make decisions relating to their family.

    Balancing between its commitments to women on the one side, and sensibility to the culture and customs of the Rohingya people on the other, WFP emphasises that women could be more involved in different camp activities. This includes collecting their weekly supply of food. There are now separate lines for food collection for men and women. Before, only men would be present when the food was handed out. Now women and men share this activity.

    Another way of involving women in camp activities is for them to participate in food-for-work activities, which aims at improving the infrastructure in and around the camps. It is hoped that through the involvement of women in activities that take them outside the household, the female members of the camp population will start a process of integration, which will eventually lead to greater gender equality. Improving the livelihoods of women is not easy in this conservative religious community. Even if things progress slowly, many women express satisfaction that issues relating to family, household and food distribution are now being openly discussed..

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    Myanmar military: Former dictator's family tried to stage coup


    YANGON, Myanmar, March 9 - Myanmar's military government said Saturday that four relatives of former dictator Ne Win were being detained for plotting a coup with some military commanders.

    Maj. Gen. Kyaw Win, the deputy head of military intelligence, said Ne Win's son-in-law and three grandsons admitted during questioning that they planned to overthrow the government because of dissatisfaction with its political and economic policies. The four were arrested Thursday.

    He did not name their alleged military co-conspirators and dismissed rumors of any conflicts among the nation's three military leaders.

    He said authorities took ''timely action because such a conspiracy could create disunity in the army and disintegrate the military.''

    He also said barbed-wire barricades at the home of Ne Win, who ruled for 26 years until retiring in 1988, were a ''temporary security measure.''

    Sources requesting anonymity said the Southeast Asian country's regional military commanders were summoned to Yangon for a meeting.

    Ne Win's son-in-law, Aye Zaw Win, and three grandsons were arrested at a Chinese restaurant where they planned to meet an army commander, said Kyaw Win, who is no relation to the former dictator's family. The foursome said they were in conspiracy with some ''commanders they know,'' he said.

    ''Upon interrogation, Aye Zaw Win and sons admitted that they were unhappy as they had suffered some losses in business due to the government's economic policy and that they were unhappy as they are not enjoying special privileges as before,'' Kyaw Win said.

    Access to the house they share with the 90-year-old former dictator and his daughter Sandar Win Aye Zaw Win's wife was blocked early Friday morning, neighbors said.

    A family member said Sandar Win, a businesswoman, was under a restriction order amounting to house detention. Ne Win's status was not known. Telephone calls to the house went unanswered.

    Employees at the Nawarat Hotel said the hotel's business center, where Sandar Win maintains an office, was shut down and she did not come to work Friday.

    Ne Win was at the forefront of Myanmar's struggle for independence from Britain, which was achieved in 1948, when the country was known as Burma. He seized power in a bloodless coup in 1962 and his subsequent authoritarian rule sullied his reputation as a national hero. The dictator retired in 1988 just before a popular uprising for democracy.

    A 1990 election catapulted Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of the late independence hero Gen. Aung San, to political prominence. But her victory at the polls was never recognized by the military. The military regime that succeeded Ne Win remains in power, while Nobel Peace prize winner Suu Kyi continues to lead the pro-democratic opposition.

    For the past year, the regime and Suu Kyi, who is under virtual house arrest, have held inconclusive talks to end the political deadlock.

    The reclusive Ne Win is believed to still influence the current government. In March last year, he made a rare public appearance at a religious ceremony at a Yangon hotel, where he offered a meal to 99 Buddhist monks. Video footage of the ceremony showed him apparently healthy.

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    Myanmar Foils Coup Attempt

    YANGON, March 9 (Xinhuanet) -- The ruling Myanmar government has foiled a coup attempt in time made by former president U Ne Win's son-in-law U Aye Zaw Win and his three grandsons Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win, a Myanmar high-ranking official told a special press conference here Saturday afternoon.

    U Aye Zaw Win and his three sons have been arrested on charge of conspiracy to seize state power to change the country's leadership and create split and conflict within the armed forces, Vice-Chief of the Military Intelligence Major-General Kyaw Win disclosed.

    He charged U Aye Zaw Win and his sons with plotting the coup with a military commander at a restaurant on March 7, which he said, was prevented in time.

    Questioned by the authorities, U Aye Zaw Win confessed that he and his three sons were dissatisfied with the loss of some of their private businesses engaged in the country as well as with the government's priority given to ethnic organizations as regard to business opportunities and with the political and economic changes made by the ruling state leaders.

    Former Myanmar president U Ne Win and his family have been confined to their Yangon residences since the arrest of his son-in-law and three grandsons, reliable sources here said.Kyaw Win added that the government is taking action against them for the plot.

    The present ruling government came to power on September 18, 1988, while the former president U Ne Win ruled Burma (now renamed as Myanmar) from 1962 to 1988.

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