Daily News- March 11- 2002- Monday

  • Top Burma officials sacked
  • Yangon calm after abortive coup attempt
  • Burma Fund Conference Concludes
  • Rangoon says Thai soldiers aided SSA
  • Bangladesh to Boost Economic Ties With Myanmar
  • Myanmar beefs up security around former dictator's house
  • Ne Win's son concerned for father's health after "coup" arrests
  • Behind the Coup Plot in Rangoon
  • Rangoon still enjoys normalcy
  • Burma sacks three senior military officers
  • Thai premier scrubs Myanmar trip after coup attempt scuttled
  • Secretary-1 accepts donations for construction of Thabbyinnyu Stupa

  • Top Burma officials sacked
    source : BBC

    Burmese Government officials have privately confirmed that three senior military officers have been sacked. Those dismissed are the head of Burma's air force, the country's chief of police and the recently-appointed military head of the country's northern region.

    Burma's military authorities announced earlier that they had arrested the son-in-law and three grandsons of former strongman Ne Win on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

    The BBC's correspondent in Rangoon, Larry Jagan, says a major purge of the military is believed to be under way, but it is not clear whether the sackings are connected to the arrests.

    Emergency talks

    No official statement has been made about the fate of air force chief Major General Myint Swe, police chief Major General Soe Win or the other sacked commander.

    Diplomats believe the country's senior generals are currently involved in tense discussions inside what is known as the War Office. The country's leader,General Than Shwe, has not been home for more than two days, diplomats say.

    Many fear that the purge will be used to root out the liberals who have been supporting the dialogue process with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, like the intelligence chief Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt.

    Gang violence

    Major-General Kyaw Win, the deputy chief of military intelligence, said Ne Win's son-in-law Aye Zaw Win and his children were taken into custody on Thursday. "We have arrested them for attempting to seize the state power and to split the armed forces," the general said.

    Foiled conspiracy

    Ne Win - now in his 90s - seized control of Burma in1962 and continued to wield influence after he stepped down in 1988. General Kyaw Win denied earlier reports that Ne Win himself and his daughter, Sandar Win, had been arrested.

    Aye Zaw Win, a prominent businessman, is the daughter's husband. He and his sons were arrested at a restaurant in Rangoon, where they had been discussing their plans with an unnamed former commanding officer, General Kyaw Win said. The military intelligence officer said a number of military units and "some commanding officers" had also been involved in the plot, which was foiled in "the nick of time".

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    Yangon calm after abortive coup attempt

    YANGON, March 10, Kyodo - Myanmar's capital of Yangon remained calm Sunday, one day after deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Kyaw Win revealed to reporters an alleged coup attempt by former President Gen. Ne Win's son-in-law and three grandsons. The air force chief and a regional commander are also known to be among those arrested in the case.

    Apart from the hot sale of Sunday newspapers carrying news of the event, traffic and business in the city were as usual, though schools and offices were closed for the holiday.

    Many questions remain to be answered, including just how much Ne Win was involved in the alleged coup attempt and what was the real objective of the attempt. Aye Zaw Win, the former dictator's son-in-law, had reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the junta over the loss of business and of privileges.

    But a retired politician doubted that economic satisfaction alone could have been reason enough for such a dangerous gamble, saying there must have been political reasons.

    ''Aye Zaw Win and sons are only the players. There must be more important planners behind them,'' said the octogenarian, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    He noted that the alleged coup attempt took place at a time when dialogue between the government and opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has been proceeding to overcome their long-standing political deadlock.

    Asked about the possible effect on the dialogue, he said the incident will have no serious impact. ''In fact, it could even accelerate the process,'' he said, speculating that both sides could have been negatively affected if the coup attempt succeeded.

    It was the second abortive coup attempt in Myanmar after Ne Win seized power from a civilian government in March 1962. In July 1976, several army captains were arrested while planning to assassinate government leaders, including Ne Win, to protest the dismissal of then armed forces commander-in-chief Gen. Tin Oo, who is now NLD vice chairman.

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    Burma Fund Conference Concludes

    By Shawn L. Nance
    The Irrawaddy

    March 10, 2002 - A conference sponsored by the Burma Fund to brainstorm critical issues facing democratic transition and to facilitate policy research to inform the process of change in Burma concluded last Friday.

    The two-day conference, "Transforming Burma: Brainstorming Transitional Strategies and Policy Options" was held March 7-8, 2002 at the Pathumwan Princess Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.

    The Burma Fund brought together dozens of researchers and policy experts to explore the challenging task of capacity-building and managing transition as well as to serve as a launching pad to open up a broad-based and participatory dialogue on vital initiatives for the future of Burma.

    The conference aimed to further consolidate the working relations between the larger democratic movement and the Technical Advisory Network, a project to facilitate networking among Burma scholars and academics to serve the needs of democratization in Burma.

    The conference also highlighted challenges facing the new generation of scholars, policy makers and media professionals during Burmaís political transition.

    For more information, please contact:The Burma Fund,1319 F Street, N.W., Suite 303,Washington D.C. 20004,Tel: (202) 639-0636,Fax: (202) 639-0637, Or email to Zaw Oo: zawoo@american.edu , www.Burmafund.org

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    Rangoon says Thai soldiers aided SSA

    Wassana Nanuam
    The Bangkokpost

    More checkpoints have been set up to beef up the border with Burma in Mae Fa Lung district to prevent Shan State Army soldiers from entering Thailand, according to the 4th Cavalry Regiment Task Force commander. Col Surasak Boonsiri said the action was taken following a formal protest by Burma at the March 6 meeting of the Thai-Burmese township border committee in Tachilek, opposite Mae Sai district.

    Apart from the protest through the TBC, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, handed a personal letter to express his concern with Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

    The Burmese delegation, led by Lt-Col Tun Aung, said anti-Rangoon SSA soldiers had been allowed to stage an attack on a Burmese government base from Thai territory. They also alleged that Thai soldiers used artillery fire to support the SSA attack.Col Surasak, who headed the Thai TBC, said the allegations were denied and the Burmese side was given an assurance that Thailand would never allow SSA fighters to use Thai soil to attack Burmese troops.

    The Burmese delegation also accused Thailand of sending reinforcements to a disputed area on Doi Lang, in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district. The Thai side again denied the accusation. The two sides then forged a written agreement not to increase their troop strengths in the area.The Burmese side also accepted a Thai request not to build a pagoda in Kuteng Nayong, a disputed area in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district.

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    Bangladesh to Boost Economic Ties With Myanmar

    DHAKA, Mar 10, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Bangladesh will launch a week-long marketing blitz in Yangon on March 26 to boost trade and economic ties with neighboring Myanmar and attract more business, A source in the Commerce ministry Sunday said that signing of a coastal shipping agreement between the two countries is expected to cap the event, termed as the Bangladesh Festival.

    This is for the first time that the foreign and commerce ministries have joined hands to project the country's commodities in a neighboring country towards increasing trade volume. The festival is intended to explore alternative markets for different exportable items and also introduce several Bangladesh goods to the local population.

    Commerce Minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, due to leave Dhaka on March 24 at the head of a 60-member delegation, and his Myanmar counterpart Brigadier general Pyi Sone will jointly inaugurate the festival.

    Bangladesh entrepreneurs familiar with Myanmar market feel that through more projection of Bangladeshi commodities, exporters can expect to make further inroads into the Yangon markets.Products ranging from cosmetics to toiletries and newsprint to fertilizer are due to receive boost.

    The proposed agreement aims at establishing a coastal shipping line that will provide sea links between the Bangladesh ports of Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Teknaf, the last tip of Bangladesh, and the Myanmar ones of Yangon, Akyub and Maungdaw. The proposed shipping line will enhance bulk movement of cargo and restore a very old trading route in the region.

    According to available figures, Bangladesh exported goods worth 22.3 million U.S. dollars to Myanmar while importing products worth 1.3 million dollars in the last fiscal. A border trade agreement between the two countries is already in force.

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    Myanmar beefs up security around former dictator's house

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Authorities tightened security around the house of former dictator Ne Win, whose son-in-law and three grandsons were arrested last week on charges of trying to overthrow Myanmar's military government.

    Eight barbed-wire barricades were placed Sunday on a small lane leading to Ne Win's house in a residential area in northern Yangon. Four plainclothes security officials stood guard and checked traffic.

    No announcement was made concerning reasons for the additional security. On Saturday, barricades were placed only in front of the iron gate of Ne Win's house, which occupies the same compound as the home of his detained son-in-law, Aye Zaw Win, and Aye Zaw Win's three adult sons.

    The four were arrested on Thursday and later accused by a military spokesman of planning to overthrow Myanmar's government with the help of some army commander whom he did not name. Ne Win's status was unknown.

    Ne Win, a leader of Myanmar's struggle for independence from Britain, seized power in a bloodless coup in 1962. But his reputation was sullied by an authoritarian rule and disastrous socialist economic policies. He retired in 1988 just before a popular uprising for democracy.

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    Ne Win's son concerned for father's health after "coup" arrests

    BANGKOK, March 11 (AFP) - A son of former Myanmar dictator Ne Win, whose relatives have been accused of plotting a coup against the military regime, has said in an interview he is concerned about his father's declining health.

    "I am really worried about my father," Phyo Wia Win said in a weekend interview with the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an Oslo-based dissident radio station."I am trying to appeal to dignitaries in the government not to make any harm to my father. He is now very old."

    The transcript received here did not indicate where the interview had taken place, but Phyo Wia Win is known to reside in Scandinavia.

    Over the weekend the junta announced it had arrested the son-in-law and three grandsons of Ne Win, and that the 92-year-old autocrat and his daughter were being held at their home behind a military guard "for their own safety". No action has been taken against Ne Win or his daughter, but the four family members were being questioned over a plan to seize power from the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), officials said.

    Ne Win stepped down in 1988 after a 26-year rule over the country once known as Burma, which he renamed Myanmar. Even though his once considerable influence has waned with his age, the aggressive action against Myanmar's "First Family" has shocked observers in Yangon who saw the "Old Man" as an untouchable figure.

    The junta said the family, which 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.

    Sources close to the regime said over the weekend that the nation's chief of police, air force chief of staff and military commander had been sacked in the first of an expected series of dismissals as the ranks were purged.

    Phyo Wia Win confirmed rumours that Ne Win is now largely disconnected from political life, saying his father was now engaged in daily meditation and living a quiet existence. "As far as I know, my father is not involved in the economic and political matters of the nation," Phyo Wia Win told DVB. "He doesn't want to know about anything. So I am really worried about my father's health."

    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.

    Phyo Wia Win said he had "no idea" about the activities of his arrested relatives -- brother-in-law Aye Zaw Win and nephews Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win, all aged in their 20s and 30s. "For me, I am not involved either in politics or in the economic matters of the nation," he said. "They might have committed a mistake, but I have no information about that. But they will never succeed in implementing such a plan. "These are just my personal opinions and I have no connection with them. I am not a spokesman for them."

    Since Ne Win's retirement, his protege, Khin Nyunt, has been seen as the family's guardian, but lately he has tired of their dodgy business dealings and bad behaviour. Last year Khin Nyunt said he was "washing his hands" of Kyaw Ne Win, a notorious hooligan whose "Scorpion" gang roamed Yangon with impunity.

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    Behind the Coup Plot in Rangoon

    By Win Htein Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    March 11: Many people were surprised when the military government in Burma announced on Saturday that they had arrested the son-in-law and three grandsons of ex-dictator General Ne Win for a coup plot against the current military leadership.

    However, some observers say that the news of coup and arrests were very confusing since they canít understand how the dictatorís son-in-law Aye Zaw Win who is just a businessman, not a military commander tried to stage a coup. Some suspect that there are things hiding behind the arrests.

    Even Ne Win's son does not believe that his brother-in-law and nephews had planned to stage coup from the current leadership. "They might have committed a mistake. But I don't think about that. They are very young as well", commented Phyo Wai Win, elder son of Ne Win in a telephone interview with Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma. Phyo is currently in a Scandinavia country working as a pilot.

    But military intelligence deputy chief Maj-Gen Kyaw Win claimed Aye Zaw Win, and his three sons: Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win were arrested at a restaurant in Rangoon while they were waiting to discuss with a senior commanding officer to plan a coup. However, he did not enclose the commander's name.

    Later, the police chief Pol-Gen. Soe Win, air force chief Maj-Gen. Myint Swe and Triangle Region (where the borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos converge) commander Brig-Gen. Chit Than were removed from their positions while 17 mid-rank military officers from LIB-304, 305 and 352 which took security for Ne Win's residence in Rangoon were reportedly arrested.

    However, Kyaw Win said no action had been taken against Aye Zaw Win's wife Sanda Win or his father-in-law Gen. Ne Win. "This is not a matter of house arrest. We are not arresting them or taking any action", he told reporters.

    Burmese politicians in exile questioned why the junta is not arresting Ne Win and Sanda Win if Aye Zaw Win did plan a coup?

    "This is very strange. We must wait and see how the junta punishes them. If it is a real story, they must face a death-penalty as similar case of Capt. Ohn Kyaw Myint", pointed Dr Tint Swe, an exiled Member of Parliament from the National League for Democracy. Ohn Kyaw Mint was sentenced to a death penalty when his group tried to stage a military coup from Gen. Ne Win in 1970s.

    Meanwhile, some analysts fear that the abortive coup and developments that followed might effect to the 18-months old on-going talks between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the opposition NLD. However, the NLD and ethnic parties in Rangoon said that there is no effect on the talks until now. "This is an internal matter of the SPDC. There might be no problem on the confidence-building talks", the NLD spokesman U Lwin told DVB.

    The Chairman of Shan National League for Democracy U Khun Htun Oo also said that although the situation is very complicated at the moment, there is no effect to the dialogue process.

    "We were invited to meet EU troika in the evening 15th March. And Mr. Razali (United Nations Special Envoy) will also be back again in Burma soon. There is no cancellation or postponement from the SPDC side on political process". However, analysts warned that the SPDC might use this opportunity to delay the dialogue process. "This is because they prefer a stalemate condition rather than to find a solution".

    Win Htein is a correspondent for Democratic Voice of Burma

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    Rangoon still enjoys normalcy

    Now the relative normalcy prevailed in Rangoon after the military junta took the siblings of former ruler General Ne Win into custody. There was no sight of unusual military presence in Rangoon.They were accused of hatching a plot to overthrow the present regime and replacing with the docile army government for their business interest.

    They were notoriously infamous for their ruthlessness and hooliganism, which terrorized Rangoon for a quite long time by forming a mafia-style gang called 'Scorpion'.

    Their rival gang 'White Snake' also sprouted up. Their intense rivalary led the random and brutal killings of innocents reportedly included the son of a army commander.

    Possibly, For a rare instance, the residents of Rangoon supported the action taken by Junta against the son-in-law and grandsons of General Ne Win.

    Furthermore, rumour has it that the all the military personel and power generator stationed inside General Ne Win compound were withdrawn and her daughter Sandar Win was under house arrest for further investigation.Everybody believed that General Ne Win and her daughter Sandar Win became the single biggest obstacle to national reconcilation.

    No wonder there is consternation among the Rangoon population against the backdrop of purging the traitors among the ranks of military elite. This is anybody guess that who will be the next fallguy.

    One of the locals said that "these people are thinking of the country as playground created by their grandfather. But we do not expect the major purge will be soon until the high school exam and Armed Forces Day ended."

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    Thai premier scrubs Myanmar trip after coup attempt scuttled

    BANGKOK, March 11 (AFP) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has cancelled a planned visit to Myanmar in the wake of what the junta says was an attempt to mount a military coup there, officials said Monday.

    Thaksin had scheduled a trip to Yangon March 21-22, but will instead use the time to attend a United Nations development conference in Mexico, said the premier's deputy secretary Wattana Muangsuk."Because of internal problems in Myanmar, we will go to Mexico during that time," Wattana told reporters.

    Officials in Yangon announced Saturday that the son-in-law and three grandsons of former dictator Ne Win, who ruled Myanmar between 1962 and 1988, were seized last Thursday while discussing plans for a coup.

    The nation's chief of police, air force chief and military commander were subsequently sacked, and observers said they expected more high-profile heads to roll in coming days as the regime purges its ranks.

    Ne Win, 92, and his daughter Sandar Win, whose husband Aye Zaw Win and three sons were arrested, were being held at their home behind a military guard "for their own safety", the junta said.The regime said no action has been taken against Ne Win or his daughter, but the four family members were being questioned over a plan to seize power from the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

    Thaksin is to travel to Moneterey, Mexico from March 18-22 for the International Conference on Financing for Development which will discuss finance issues affecting global development.Joining leaders at the meeting will be UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, World Bank chief James Wolfensohn, International Monetary Fund chief Horst Koehler and World Trade Organisation head Mike Moore.

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    Burma sacks three senior military officers

    Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma on 10 March

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military government has removed Police Chief Police Maj-Gen Soe Win, Triangle Region Commander Brig-Gen Chit Than and Air Force Commander in Chief Maj-Gen Myint Swe from their positions yesterday in connection with the alleged coup plot by U Aye Zaw Win, husband of former dictator U Ne Win's daughter Daw Sandar Win, and his three sons.

    According to unconfirmed reports, the military intelligence has been interrogating Lt-Gen Tin Hla, the dismissed military affairs minister and deputy prime minister, Vice-Adm Maung Maung Khin, the forced-to-retire former navy commander in chief, and some former military commanders who were relieved of their duties in 1997.

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    Secretary-1 accepts donations for construction of Thabbyinnyu Stupa

    source : NLM

    Yangon, 10 March- The 19th donation ceremony for construction of Thabbyinnyu Stupa was held at the Stupa in Mayangon Township at 4 pm today, attended by Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt. Also present on the occasion were Chairman of Yangon Division Peace and Development Council Commander Brig-Gen Myint Swe, ministers, the Yangon Mayor, deputy ministers, the chairman of the construction committee for Thabbyinnyu Stupa and members, officials of the State Peace and Development Council Office, departmental heads, wellwishers and guests.

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