Daily News- March 10- 2002- Sunday


  • Myanmar's military government fires heads of air force and police chief
  • Ne Win's family members arrested for plotting coup
  • Burmese ruling council leader absent from ceremony, speech read by minister
  • Myanmar junta sacks top police, military figures
  • Ne Winís Family Members Arrested
  • DVB reports three more political detainees released
  • Myanmar told IAEA of nuclear plan last year
  • Burmese man, woman arrested
  • China, Myanmar to Step Up Anti-Drugs Intelligence Exchange
  • Top Myanmar officials sacked over coup plot
  • DVB Interview with Phyo Wai Win
  • Regional commanders summoned to Rangoon following coup attempt


  • Myanmar's military government fires heads of air force and police chief

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    YANGON, Myanmar, March 9 - Myanmar's military government fired the chiefs of the air force and police a day after four relatives of former dictator Ne Win were arrested over an alleged coup plot, diplomats said Saturday.

    Air Force Commander in Chief Maj. Gen. Myint Swe and Police Maj. Gen. Soe Win were removed from their posts Friday, but the dismissals had not yet been officially announced, two diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

    It was unclear whether the dismissals were connected to the arrests Thursday of the son-in-law and three grandchildren of Ne Win, 90, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1962 and retired in 1988 just before a popular uprising for democracy. His authoritarian rule sullied his reputation as a national hero, earned when he was at the forefront of Myanmar's struggle for independence from Britain, achieved in 1948.

    Maj. Gen. Kyaw Win, deputy head of military intelligence, told a news conference Saturday that the four who were arrested "businessman Aye Zaw Win and his three sons" had admitted they were planning to overthrow the government. Kyan Win said they were arrested at a restaurant where they were planning to meet an army commander whom he did not name.

    A 1990 election in Myanmar 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.

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    Ne Win's family members arrested for plotting coup

    YANGON, March 9 (AFP) - Myanmar's ruling junta Saturday announced it had arrested the son-in-law and three grandsons of former dictator Ne Win for attempting to overthrow the regime in a military coup.

    Aye Zaw Win, the husband of Ne Win's favoured daughter Sandar Win, was arrested last Thursday along with their sons Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win, all aged in their 20s and 30s.

    "The four have been arrested for attempting to seize power from the current leadership," deputy chief of intelligence Major-General Kyaw Win told reporters in the capital Yangon.

    Kyaw Win said no action had been taken against 92-year-old Ne Win or his daughter, who since the arrests have been held at their lakeside residence in Yangon behind an armed guard, with the telephone lines cut.

    "This is not a matter of house arrest, we are not arresting them or taking any action against them," he said. "It is a security measure for their own safety."

    Ne Win's offspring were arrested at a restaurant in Yangon where they had been discussing the conspiracy with a former commanding officer, the spokesman said, without identifying the officer. The four men were also accused of involving a number of military units in their plan to wrest power from the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

    "The government took steps to prevent this conspiracy, which not only threatened military unity but also the peace and stability of the country ... They were arrested in the nick of time," he said.

    Kyaw Win said Ne Win's family, who had long enjoyed special privileges that allowed them to build a sizeable business empire, had grown unhappy with the lack of favours now being extended to them.

    After the arrests, carried out by dozens of armed soldiers who piled out of trucks to swoop on the restaurant, Sandar Win made urgent calls on her mobile phone, saying she was barred from leaving the house, diplomats said.

    A squad of military intelligence officers then replaced the regular guard from the army unit whose sole purpose was to protect Ne Win.

    Sources in Yangon said the men in the unit had been taken to a police cantonment outside the capital under suspicion of involvement in the coup. Their families were given two days to pack up and leave Yangon.

    Observers said that while Sandar Win has so far not faced any charges, her role in the plot will come under scrutiny in the following days.

    Reputed to be the brains behind the family, she is known to be extremely ambitious and currently carving out a high public profile for herself in what some said was part of a plan to become a future political leader.

    Sandar Win is the closest family member to Ne Win, as the rest of the relatives are largely estranged. She is deeply involved in the family's business interests.

    Kyaw Win rejected rumours flying around the capital that the top-three in the junta, Senior General Than Shwe, army chief General Maung Aye and military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt were engaged in a power play.

    "(The three) are all together and there is no disagreement among them. They will continue to lead the nation and do what is necessary," he said.

    Since Ne Win's retirement in 1988, his protege Khin Nyunt has been seen as the family's guardian, but lately even he has tired of their dodgy business dealings and bad behaviour.

    Last year he said he was "washing his hands" of Kyaw Ne Win, a notorious troublemaker who is regularly trailed by a squad of military intelligence officers whose job is to keep him out of trouble.

    Ne Win, who seized power in the former Burma in a 1962 coup, stepped down in 1988 but was reputed to continue to wield considerable behind-the-scenes political influence in the country he renamed Myanmar.

    However, the stunning move against his family, which took diplomats in Yangon by complete surprise, has indicated his standing has eroded with his advancing age.

    "This is confirmation that he's not playing any political role any more and that the junta is not afraid of the consequences of this action," said a Yangon-based diplomat.

    The state of Ne Win's health is a perennial topic on the Yangon rumour mill. He was hospitalised amid tight security at a Singapore hospital last year to be fitted with a heart pacemaker.

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    Burmese ruling council leader absent from ceremony, speech read by minister

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Mar 9, 2002

    Head of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt did not attend a teacher training course closing ceremony at the Central Institute of Civil Service in Phaunggyi on 8 March. His speech was read out by Education Minister U Than Aung, who also gave out the prizes on Khin Nyunt's behalf.

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    Myanmar junta sacks top police, military figures

    YANGON, March 9 (AFP) - Myanmar's ruling junta has sacked the nation's chief of police, a senior military commander and the air force chief of staff, after announcing it had foiled a coup attempt, sources said Saturday.

    Police General Soe Win, air force chief of staff Myint Swe and military commander Brigadier General Chit Than were linked to the relatives of former dictator Ne Win who allegedly plotted the take-over.

    "They have been sacked because of their association with Aye Zaw Win," said a source close to the junta, referring to Ne Win's son-in-law who was arrested along with his own three sons Thursday.

    Chit Than was one of 12 extremely powerful military commanders.

    The departure of the top figures in the Myanmar regime could be the first signs of a purge as junta leaders investigate what they described as a conspiracy to oust the regime.

    The three were known to be personal friends of Aye Zaw Win, but there was no immediate sign that they were directly involved in the coup.

    Aye Zaw Win, the husband of Ne Win's favoured daughter Sandar Win, was arrested with his sons Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win, at a Yangon restaurant on Thursday night.

    Deputy chief of intelligence Major-General Kyaw Win told reporters earlier Saturday that the four had been meeting with a former military commander who was being recruited to help carry out the coup.

    Kyaw Win said no action had been taken against 92-year-old Ne Win or his daughter, who since the arrests have been held at their lakeside residence in Yangon behind an armed guard with the telephone lines cut."This is not a matter of house arrest, we are not arresting them or taking any action against them," he said. "It is a security measure for their own safety."

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    Ne Winís Family Members Arrested

    By Aung Zaw
    source : The Irrawaddy

    March 9, 2002 - Burmese authorities arrested Gen Ne Winís son-in-law and three of his grandsons for plotting to seize state power. Maj Gen Kyaw Win, deputy intelligence chief, told a news conference yesterday that Aye Zaw Win and his three sons were arrested on Thursday evening on charges of planning to overthrow the military government and split the armed forces.

    Aye Zaw Win, a businessman in his early 50s and husband of Ne Winís daughter, Sandar Win, was arrested Thursday night while dining at a Chinese restaurant with an unnamed former army commander. Three of his sons, all in their 20s and 30s, were also apprehended. The Burmese government held a press conference today.

    Kyaw Win denied reports that ex-president Ne Win and his daughter were under house arrest. Witnesses said security around the residence of the retired general in central Rangoon had been tightened since the arrests.

    According to reliable sources, authorities discovered that Aye Zaw Win and his sons were involved in persuading army leaders to take over the state. "This is a serious crime," added the source.

    Late last year, the Burmese government sacked high-ranking generals including Lt Gen Win Myint, who was considered the fourth ranking member of the ruling junta known as the State Peace and Development Council.

    Aye Zaw Win and Sandar Win run a hotel, a jewelry business and a mobile phone business. They have three sons: Aye Ne Win, Zwe Ne Win and Kyaw Ne Win, the leader of the notorious Scorpion gang which was cracked down on recently by the authorities in Rangoon.Observers said it is likely that authorities will arrest more people who may include government officials and army officers.

    According to a reliable source in Rangoon, Aye Ne Win was ambitious and interested in politics. He studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and returned to Rangoon a few years ago. He was seen last year when Ne Win surprised everyone by holding a lavish religious ceremony at the Sedona Hotel in Rangoon attended by former powerful members of Ne Winís regime. Aye Ne Win was seen giving a speech to guests and invited monks.

    The source said that Aye Ne Win was being groomed by Sandar Win to become Burmaís "future leader" and that the ceremony at the Sedona was an attempt to promote Aye Ne Win for political succession.

    Kyaw Win said that Ne Win's grandsons were unhappy with the cease-fire agreements between the military and ethnic groups as well as the political dialogue between the generals and the National League for Democracy (NLD). They were also reported to have their long-standing privileges that allowed them to build a business empire revoked.

    Many Rangoon residents were shocked to hear the news of the arrest from shortwave radio broadcasts. Min Min who is in his 30s, remarked: "I could not believe it. They are ĎFamily Number Oneí in Burma. No one dares to touch them.

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    DVB reports three more political detainees released

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Mar 9, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 8 March

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] has freed another three political prisoners today. Those released were student leader Ko Ba Htoo Maung, writer Maung Hmaing alias Ko Min Hlaing, and Ko Hla Nyein.

    The SPDC spokesperson said they were arrested for their connections with illegal organizations. As far as DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] knows Ko Ba Htoo Maung and writer Maung Hmaing alias Ko Min Hlaing were arrested for their participation in the students' protest staged in December 1991 seeking the release of Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

    They were both sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but their sentences were later commuted to 10 years under an amnesty in 1992. According to the jail manual they were to be released in 1999 but were still detained. When their 10-year terms were completed last year they were again not freed but instead their sentences were increased under Section 10-A of the Emergency Provisions Law. It has been learned that they were released from Myingyan Jail.

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    Myanmar told IAEA of nuclear plan last year

    VIENNA, March 8, Kyodo - The military government of Myanmar notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year of its plan to build a nuclear research facility in Myanmar, diplomatic sources said Friday.

    IAEA officials have also confirmed that the international nuclear watchdog agency has been notified of the Myanmar plan.

    The Myanmar government, reacting to U.S. media reports that Myanmar was building a nuclear reactor with Russia's help, has acknowledged that Myanmar has a nuclear science program and insisted that Myanmar has nothing to hide.

    ''Our main objective to study nuclear science was for peaceful purposes, for the health and agriculture sectors, firstly to produce radio isotopes for medical purpose,'' Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win told reporters on Jan. 21.

    Diplomatic sources said the IAEA received a report from the Myanmar government last year that it plans to acquire a small nuclear reactor from Russia as part of its nuclear research program. When the IAEA inquired about the location and the size of the nuclear reactor, the Myanmar government told the agency that details had yet to be decided and they were holding talks with Russia, the sources said.

    The IAEA has told Myanmar to notify the agency of details of the nuclear facility once they are firmed up, the sources said.

    ''We want to continue this program and sought the advice and assistance of the IAEA in September 2000...The IAEA sent a delegation to Myanmar in June 2001 and gave us the necessary advice in their report,'' Khin Maung Win said.

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    Burmese man, woman arrested

    The Bangkokpost

    Another two people have been arrested in connection with the deaths of 13 Burmese nationals whose bodies were found in a dump. Two Burmese nationals were arrested yesterday, bringing the number of arrests to four. They were identified only as Mathuay and Tong, and caught in Kamphaeng Phet province.

    Two Thais, Som Poolsombat, 50, and his wife Bunta Phooto, 42, were arrested in Kamphaeng Phet and Nakhon Sawan on Wednesday and charged with breaking the labour law governing foreigners, recklessness resulting in the deaths of others and concealing bodies.

    The 13 victims were illegal aliens and died of suffocation while being smuggled from Tak to factories in Nakhon Pathom. Police yesterday brought the Burmese suspects to Bangkok to identify the bodies at the Nitivej Forensic Institute at Police Hospital.

    Mrs Bunta was taken to Prachin Buri for questioning while her husband stayed behind in Kamphaeng Phet. She appeared under severe stress, covering her face. She screamed when reporters took her picture, saying she was not responsible for the deaths.

    The Bangkok-based Co-ordinating Committee on Alien Workers and Families said the government should provide better protection for foreign workers. Meanwhile, police in Mae Sot arrested 116 men, 100 women and 37 children from Burma yesterday for entering Thailand illegally, AP reported.

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    China, Myanmar to Step Up Anti-Drugs Intelligence Exchange

    KUNMING, Mar 9, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- China and Myanmar have vowed to cooperate more closely in anti-drugs operations along their borders at a bilateral meeting on the issue which closed Saturday in the capital of southwest China's border province of Yunnan.

    After reviewing the achievements of China-Myanmar anti-drugs cooperation and the drug smuggling situation in the region, senior police narcotics officers from both countries made "in-depth and active" exchanges on increasing cooperation by improving intelligence exchanges and developing agricultural substitutes for drugs growers.

    The Chinese delegation to the three-day meeting was led by Yang Fengrui, deputy secretary-general of the China National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) and director of the Anti-Drugs Department under the Ministry of Public Security. The two sides agreed that cooperation between China and Myanmar had reached a new level after the signing of a memorandum between the two countries and the Beijing Announcement last year, which defined the framework of the joint anti-drug cooperation among China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

    During the successive cooperation, Myanmar police arrested notorious Chinese drug smuggler Tan Xiaolin and extradited him to China. Myanmar police also worked closely with their Chinese counterparts in apprehending Chinese drug dealer Shang Chaomei and killing Chinese drug dealer Liu Ming while he resisted arrest. The three successful anti-drug operations have contributed a great deal to the international drugs-control efforts.

    Meanwhile, China has also helped former opium poppy farmers in Myanmar grow crop substitutes. Yunnan Province has invested over 300 million yuan on exporting expertise for this purpose. Agricultural training carried out in the northern region of Myanmar has yielded obvious achievements, which have won acknowledgment from international anti-drugs organizations.

    In February this year, 25 Myanmar anti-drugs police became the first officers from the country to receive drugs-control law enforcement training in China, which is expected to become a regular program sponsored by NNCC. Yang Fengrui said that China-Myanmar drugs-control cooperation has been pushed in a more successful direction with better awareness of the situation between the two sides.

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    Top Myanmar officials sacked over coup plot

    source : Reuters

    YANGON, March 10 ó Myanmar's chief of police, the head of the air force and an army general have been sacked in connection with an alleged coup plot by relatives of former military strongman, Ne Win, diplomats said on Sunday. Over a dozen more senior officers were also set to be sacked or arrested over the plot, they said.

    ''As far as we know, Police Chief Colonel Soe Win, Commander in Chief Air Major General Myint Swe, and Brigadier General Chit Than were relieved from their duty (on Friday),'' a well-informed Asian diplomat based in Yangon told Reuters. Chit Than was Commander of the Triangle Region in Kengtung, where Myanmar, Thai and Laotian borders meet.

    ''We heard that more than a dozen, including some high-ranking ones and a senior naval officer, will also be sacked in connection with this case. But we don't know yet how they are involved in it,'' he said.

    Myanmar military authorities declined to comment on the report. The military government said on Saturday they had arrested the son-in-law and three grandsons of former president, Ne Win, for attempting to plot a coup against the military. Kyaw Win, Myanmar's deputy chief of military intelligence, told a news conference Aye Zaw Win, and his three sons -- Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win in thei mid-20s -- were arrested at a restaurant on Thursday evening while waiting to discuss their coup plot with a senior commanding officer.

    HOUSE SECURITY TIGHTENED

    Security around the lakeside residence of the 92-year-old former dictator in central Yangon had been tightened after the arrests, witnesses said. Aye Zaw Win, a prominent businessman believed to be in late 50s, is the husband of Ne Win's daughter, Sandar Win, the eldest and the apple of Ne Win's eye.Sandar Win used to be a medical doctor in the army and she resigned from her job as a major about nine years ago and entered into business.

    Yangon was calm at the weekend apart from the normal hustle and bustle of the capital, a Reuters correspondent said. Security measures across the capital were also routine, except around the Resistance Park, where they have been tightened for about two weeks because of parade drills for the 57th Anniversary Armed Forces Day on March 27.

    But all 12 regional commanders were back in Yangon while the 13 members of the Yangon-based State Peace and Development Council members were holding a closed-door meeting on Sunday, a military source told Reuters. He said the military might hold another news conference next week.

    Kyaw Win said on Saturday the coup plotters were dissatisfied with their loss of business privileges from the government, and the government's priorities on ethnic groups and the political and economic changes. Aye Zaw Win and Sandar Win were two of the most privileged entrepreneurs before and during the early days of the present military government.

    BUSINESS MONOPOLY

    They used to have monopolies in hotel, fisheries and pearl-culture industries and were involved in a multi million dollar mobile phone installation project two years ago. The latter project was scrapped last year, leading to the removal of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications.

    The current military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council, has ruled since 1991 when it ignored a landslide election victory of the opposition National League for Democracy headed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar's army has for years been fighting several ethnic insurgencies over the last decade, but has agreed ceasefires with most. The ruling generals have also accused pro-democracy activists of armed insurrection in the past.

    Another Asian diplomat told Reuters on Sunday he thought the SPDC did not think Ne Win was involved in the coup attempt. ''So far as I heard, the authorities think U Ne Win doesn't know anything about the plot,'' he said.

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    DVB Interview with Phyo Wai Win

    Burma's military government announced Saturday that four relatives of former dictator Ne Win who were detained earlier this week had been plotting a coup with army commanders. Maj.Gen Kyaw Win told a news conferrence that the four-U Aye Zaw in( husband of Daw Sandar Win) and his three sons -has admitted under interrogation that they were planing to overthrow the government because they were dissatisfied with its political and economics policies.

    In an exclusive interview with the DVB on Saturday, Phyo Wia Win, elder brother of Sandar Win, expresses concerns about his father.

    DVB: Your brother-in-law and three nephews were arrested by the SPDC. How do you feel because of these arrests?

    PWW: I have no idea about their activities. They might have committed a mistake, but I have no information about that. But they will never succeed in implementing such a plan. They are very young as well. These are just my personal opinion and I have no connection with them. I am not spokesman of them. I am really worried about my father. I am trying to appeal dignitaries in the government not to make any thing harm to my father. He is now very old.

    DVB: Whom in the SPDC hierarchy do you contact for this reason?

    PWW: I am calling General Kyaw Win (from the Militarily Intelligence) whom I personally know. However I haven't got through; he may be busy with giving press conferences.

    DVB: Some reports suggest that the way your brother-in-law and nephews run the business within the country is very rampant. And your nephews are the leader of Scorpion gand which roams Rangoon with impunity ,and they are called nortorious hooligan . How about your comment?

    PWW: I have no knowledge about this. The only reason I am returning to Rangoon is to pay respect for my father and to see friends. I recently came back from Rangoon. I met my sisiter ( Sandar Win ) and her family as well. But I don't know about them at all. For me, I am not involved both in politics and in the economic matters of the nation. I never run business.

    DVB: How is U Ne Win's health now?

    PWW: He is well and satisfied (with the situation). He is in meditation every day and prefers to stay quietly.As far as I know, my father (Ne Win) is not involved in the economic and political matters of the nation. He doesn't want to know about anything. So I am really worried about my father's health. I have nothing else to comment other issues.

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    Regional commanders summoned to Rangoon following coup attempt

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Mar 10, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 9 March

    Regarding the arrest of U Ne Win's son-in-law and family members, DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] contacted some diplomats in Rangoon.

    A western diplomat said on condition of anonymity that this could be U Ne Win's real downfall. He said the move against his family has indicated that his reputation of wielding considerable behind-the-scenes political influence in the country has eroded and this is confirmation that he's not playing any political role any more.

    This could also be Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt's demise as well. But, another diplomat said it is premature to accept the presumptions.

    However, if the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] strictly adheres to the laws, U Aye Zaw Win and his three sons could be given the death sentence for high treason while U Ne Win and Daw Sandar Win could face detention and interrogation.

    Another diplomat noted if what Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said is true that the arrest of U Ne Win's family was carried out under orders of the top three in the military junta [SPDC Chairman Sr Gen Than Shwe, Vice-Chairman Gen Maung Aye, and Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt] then the military takeover in Burma did not occur in September 1988 but only now when the military seized power from U Ne Win.

    Meanwhile, the SPDC War Office has issued an order yesterday summoning all regional commanders to come to Rangoon. Furthermore, directives have been issued to all military battalions and units in the regional commands to be on full alert up to 27 March, Armed Forces Day, while the battalion and strategic commanders have been ordered to report any developments regularly to the War Office.

    DVB has learned that 14 military officers from U Ne Win's residence security units - LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] 304, LIB 305, and LIB 352, implicated in the attempted coup were detained together with a brigadier general, a colonel, and a lieutenant colonel. DVB is trying to find out the names of those involved and has so far learned that they include Col Maung Thaw, Lt-Col Ko Ko Lay, and Maj Hla Naing.

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