Daily News- May 04- 2002- Saturday

  • Archbishop Tutu,Albright Calls on Immediate Release
  • Counterfeit 1,000 kyat notes said discovered in Pa-an, Pegu
  • Foreign Ministry dismisses agency report on opium crop
  • Myanmar insists opium crop won't fill gap left by Afghan shortfall
  • Anti-Govt Armed Group Activities Rampant in Myanmar
  • Six ethnic groups relocated
  • Fingers still crossed for Suu Kyi's release
  • Vigil outside Aung San Suu Kyi's house as release awaited
  • Thailand congratulates Myanmar on Aung San Suu Kyi's expected release

  • Archbishop Tutu Calls on Immediate Release

    source : Worldview Rights

    Oslo - Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called today for world leaders to seek the immediate unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in Rangoon Burma.

    "With the eyes of the world on Burma, the time is now for the international community to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma", said Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and a Chairperson of the Oslo based Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma.

    It was highly anticipated that the military government of Burma would release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in Rangoon as early as today. By evening on Friday she remained under house arrest.

    "Burma is the next South Africa", said Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. "Its people are engaged in an epic struggle for freedom. Now, Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma need the world’s support in the same way we South Africans did, he said. "We owe them nothing less."

    Secretary Albright and Archbishop Tutu called for world leaders and governments to press the military government of Burma for the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the estimated 1500 political prisoners in Burma. They also called for an immediate end to the Burma’s documented system of forced labor and negotiations toward a transition to democracy that include Burma’s ethnic nationalities.

    Archbishop Tutu and Secretary Albright are Chairpersons of The Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma. The group hosted an international "Salute to Aung San Suu Kyi" in Oslo Norway on December 8 where 20 Nobel Peace Laureates commemorated the tenth anniversary of her award of the Nobel Peace Prize on a stage in downtown Oslo together with the Norwegian human rights organization Worldview Rights. Thousands of supporters participated in forty simultaneous events in cities around the world that were connected to the Oslo event through satellite and the World Wide Web.

    Secretary Albright, who chairs the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), led a Washington DC event that was broadcast live to the stage in Oslo.

    The Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma continues to organize support for Aung San Suu Kyi through a network of political leaders, human rights and democracy advocates, NGOs and individual supporters throughout the world. Three thousand elected members of parliaments from ninety-three countries signed a declaration of support calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. The statement was released at the December 8 event in Oslo.

    Earlier this week, speaking to reporters in Malaysia, United Nations special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail Razali said he expected "something big" to happen in Rangoon in the coming days. Yesterday, National League for Democracy Vice-Chairman Tin Oo told reporters that he believed there would soon be good news: "The army has just said they would release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but we do not know when," he said.

    The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, the government-in-exile of Burma, released a statement from Washington yesterday welcoming the news of her imminent release. It called on the international community however to "continue to closely monitor the situation and to not prematurely relax restrictions which helped to bring about the talks in October 2000 between the SPDC and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

    Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the National League for Democracy that won over 80% of the seats in the Parliament in 1990, Burma’s last democratic elections. Burma’s military rulers have held her under house arrest for most of the last eleven years. She won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful pursuit of human rights and democracy for Burma. According to Amnesty International, there are more than fifteen hundred political prisoners in Burma. They include twenty-one elected members of the Burmese Parliament who have been denied the right to take office by the ruling military.

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    Counterfeit 1,000 kyat notes said discovered in Pa-an, Pegu

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 3, 2002
    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 2 May 02

    It has been learned that counterfeit 1,000 kyat [Burmese currency unit] notes have been spreading nationwide. The fake notes were discovered in Pa-an, Karen State and Pegu. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung - recording] Five counterfeit 1,000 kyat notes were discovered from the money deposited by Saya Talan cement shop of Pa-an Central Market at Asia Wealth Bank branch in Pa-an, Karen State on 30 April. Members of Pa-an Township police force arrested the shop owner, Saya Talan, and his son the same day.

    The following day the police arrested U Har Phee of Pa-an and the son of Haji U Hla Sein of Sein Phu Village in Hlaingbwe Township who bought the cement from the shop. Since the news has spread all over Pa-an, shop owners have now refused to accept any 1,000 kyat note.

    Similarly, two fake notes were found at the LID [Light Infantry Division] 77 welfare shop in Pegu on 26 April while another counterfeit note was seized from U Saw Kyi's shop in Pegu Market. Furthermore, four bogus 1,000 kyat notes were also discovered from the money held at the Cooperatives Department in Myinmu Township, Sagaing Division on 22 April.

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    Foreign Ministry dismisses agency report on opium crop

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 3, 2002
    Source: TV Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 2 May 02

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today issued a press release regarding the incorrect AFP [Agence France Press] news which raised a false alarm that Myanmar [Burma] opium crop threatens to rise after Afghanistan production drops, carried by the News Express on 15 April 2002.

    This speculation was attributed to the unsubstantiated information that Myanmar peasants were being told by the drug lords to plant as much poppy as they could this season. AFP news stands in stark contrast with the actual situation.

    Since 1993, the Myanmar government has been undertaking opium yield surveys in cooperation with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] of the United States, and the last survey took place from 15 February to 2 March 2002 at townships in eastern and northern Shan State.

    The opium production has decline steadily since 1997. Production of opium declined by tonnage from 2,365 in 1997 to 865 in 2001, which represent the decrease of 64 per cent. Acreage of poppy cultivation has also decreased - 151,201 acres of opium in 1997 has declined to 61,824 in 2001, decreasing almost to 60 per cent.

    As part of the 15-year Narcotic Elimination Plan, the Opium Cultivation Control Project was started in 2002 April and will be implemented in the largest cultivated region in northern and southern Shan State. Although the project is currently focused on the most cultivated areas, the local authorities will extend the coverage of the project to other areas as required. By referring to these figures and efforts, there is no sound basis on the speculation that Myanmar opium crops production will rise. Regarding the cultivation of opium crop, the problem was tackled with energetic efforts at its source, together with sustained law enforcement measures to control the trafficking of drugs. Therefore, it is more likely the opium production would rather drop than rise.The government has determined to keep up with all the present efforts to totally eliminate the narcotic drugs as expected in the 15-year plan.

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    Myanmar insists opium crop won't fill gap left by Afghan shortfall

    YANGON, May 3 (AFP) - Myanmar's military government insisted Friday there was no threat of its illicit opium crop rising to meet demand left unfilled by the collapse of production in Afghanistan.

    Describing the concerns as a "false alarm", the foreign ministry said in a statement published in the official press that opium output had been falling steadily since 1997.It said opium production has declined from 2,365 tons in 1997 to 865 tons in 2001, representing a decrease of 64 percent.

    "In the light of these concrete figures and efforts, there is no sound basis for the speculation that Myanmar opium crop threatens to rise," the ministry said."In view of these energetic efforts to tackle the problem at its source, together with sustained law enforcement measures to control trafficking in drugs, it is most likely that opium production would rather drop than rise."

    The United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) put Myanmar's 1997 opium output at 1,676 tons, falling 34 percent to 1,100 tons in 2001.In its 2001 report, the UNDCP said as long as Myanmar was starved of international funds to combat drug production and trafficking, it would be hard to wipe out the opium-growing trade.

    The sudden drop in Afghan opium production in 2001 to 185 tons from more than 3,000 due to a ban on poppy growing enforced by the ousted Taliban regime would also put pressure on Myanmar, it said.

    "The history of drug control during the last 30 years provides evidence that opiate markets can rapidly shift from one source of ilicit opiates to another," it said."Myanmar is at present the only country where traffickers could find a potential to rapidly fill part of the heroin supply gap created by the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan."

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    Anti-Govt Armed Group Activities Rampant in Myanmar

    YANGON, May 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Two anti-government ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, the Kayin National Union (KNU) and the Chin National Army (CNA), launched several attacks on civilian targets in April-May this year, according to sources at the Myanmar Ministry of Defense Friday.

    The KNU mined and fired at two light passenger buses on Kawkareik-Myawaddy road in Kayin state on April 30, wounding three persons, the sources said.On the same day, three other KNU members blew up a gas pipeline near Thabyechaung creek bridge in Ye township, Tanintharyi division. The pipeline is transporting gas from Kanbauk to Myainggale.

    On May 1, a mine explosion allegedly planted by the CNA hit a 13-year-old girl in Falam township in Chin state, cutting off her two legs from the knees and wounded both of her hands. The mine was said to aim at blowing up passenger buses and cargo trucks travelling along the Tiddim-Haimwai-Ti O chaung road.

    According to earlier official report, on January 6 this year, the KNU placed two rocket propelled grenades near the Yangon International Airport, allegedly aimed at destroying the facility.The KNU also planted bombs in Myawaddy on April 15, killing five people and wounding 31.

    There are more than 10 anti-government armed groups in Myanmar,of which the KNU, the Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA) and the Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP) are the strongest groups.During the past five years since 1997, the SURA has launched 23 such attacks, killing a total of 107 people and wounding 53.Official statistics show that 17 anti-government armed groups have reached cease-fire agreements with the government since 1989.

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    Six ethnic groups relocated

    Supamart Kasem (The Bangkokpost)

    Burma has relocated six ethnic groups away from border areas after bilateral talks on suppressing drug activities.

    According to a source who sits on the joint border committee, Maj Thet Lwin, commander of Burma's 310th Light Infantry Regiment, had also deployed troops to areas opposite Tak to crack down on illegal logging and the smuggling of contraband goods.

    The six groups" United Wa State Army; Shan State Army-North; New Mon State Party; Kokang; Kayah; and 7th Special Administration of Palaung and Than Daung" were allegedly heavily involved in illicit border activities.

    They were moved from camps opposite Tha Song Yang, Mae Ramat, Mae Sot, Phop Phra and Umphang districts to their bases in the Burmese interior. Only the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army remained in the area.

    Local officials met their Burmese counterparts at the end of March to discusss joint drug suppression efforts.Veeradej Surasit, Tak deputy chief, and Pol Lt-Col Tin Maung Htay, director-general of Burma's Drug Suppression Bureau, agreed to set up border liaison offices to co-ordinate their crackdown.

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    Fingers still crossed for Suu Kyi's release

    YANGON, May 3 - The world's most famous political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi, is set to be freed from 19 months in house arrest within days despite fears a last-minute hitch had delayed her release, political sources said on Saturday.

    Myanmar has been abuzz all week with speculation that the 56-year-old Nobel peace laureate was about to be freed after striking a deal with the ruling junta in a breakthrough after years of political stalemate. Senior leaders of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) say she told them this week she expected to be released soon following secret meetings with the junta. But the military government has been silent and the way to Suu Kyi's home on University Avenue in Yangon was still blocked off on Saturday by barricades and a ''No Entry'' sign.Every day, scores of opposition activists have crammed into the dilapidated headquarters of the NLD waiting for word. So far, they have heard nothing.

    Political sources told Reuters it was probable Suu Kyi would be freed on Sunday or Monday, and that she would speak to the media on Monday. But there was also speculation that her release had been held up by haggling over whether there would be any conditions attached.


    Suu Kyi spent a previous spell in house arrest from 1989 to 1995, and her release then was marked with jubilant scenes as large crowds thronged the street outside her residence.

    Diplomats say the junta wants to avoid a repeat and has been trying to reach agreement with Suu Kyi that she will keep a low profile after her release. They said this may be a sticking point in the talks to secure her freedom.

    ''The military regime is very reluctant for an unconditional release,'' Sann Aung, a minister in a shadow government set up by exiled opposition politicians, told Reuters in Bangkok. ''They're still bargaining.''

    The release of Suu Kyi is among the top demands of the international community, which has isolated Myanmar and imposed economic sanctions on the impoverished country in a bid to force political change.

    The United States said this week it would welcome freedom for Suu Kyi but told the junta her release must be unconditional and would not automatically lead to a lifting of sanctions. The NLD has also said it wants her to be released with no restrictions on her movement.

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    Vigil outside Aung San Suu Kyi's house as release awaited

    YANGON, May 4 (AFP) - The world's media maintained their vigil outside Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's home Saturday, in anticipation that she will be freed in the next few days after 19 months under house arrest.

    However, hopes the Nobel peace laureate would be released on Saturday faded as the Yangon headquarters of her party, the Nation League for Democracy (NLD), was closed and its top officials kept a low profile.

    The party's chairman Aung Shwe and vice-chairman Tin Oo also declined to make any comment Friday when they emerged from the headquarters for their regular thrice-weekly visit to their leader's University Drive residence.But on Thursday Tin Oo said the party expected Aung San Suu Kyi to be freed from house arrest "very soon" after last-minute negotiations on conditions for her release are resolved.

    Source close to the ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), told AFP that there were strong indications Aung San Suu Kyi would not be freed until Monday morning.

    Diplomats and observers said it was likely the two sides were continuing to negotiate conditions for her release, and could also be preparing a highly anticipated statement on the secret talks they began in October 2000.

    Dozens of reporters continued their wait on the road leading to the lakeside villa, which since September 2000 has been cordoned off with barbed-wire barricades and a heavy security presence.

    As well as the Myanmar journalists dressed in the traditional longgyi, or sarong, all the main Western news organisations were represented and there was a large contingent from Japan -- Myanmar's biggest aid donor.

    Sitting at wooden tables under the shade of an ancient spreading acacia tree, and sipping from pots of tea served by a nearby stall, they prepared Saturday to put in another day of watching and waiting.The junta has issued an unusually large number of journalist visas in recent days, allowing for a flood of foreign press into the reclusive country.

    Keeping a close eye on the visitors are the ever-present plain-clothes military intelligence officers who have maintained a visible presence on University Drive and at the NLD headquarters.

    Anticipation that the restrictions against Aung San Suu Kyi would soon be lifted were sparked on Tuesday when UN envoy to Myanmar Razali Ismail, who visited Yangon late last month, hinted the release could be imminent.Diplomats say the agreement on her release is likely to cover her freedom of movement, the release of political prisoners and the future operations of the NLD.

    The party has said Aung San Suu Kyi is concerned at the prospect of returning to conditions she endured after 1995 when she was freed from six years under house arrest but forbidden to leave the capital Yangon.

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    Thailand congratulates Myanmar on Aung San Suu Kyi's expected release

    BANGKOK, May 4 (AFP) - Thailand has congratulated Myanmar's military-ruled regime on signs that it is about to release democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest.

    "Thailand congratulates and supports the decision of the Myanmar government, if they release Aung San Suu Kyi," Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said in a statement issued late Friday.However, Thailand has "not received confirmation from the Myanmar government of when they will release Aung San Suu Kyi," he said.

    The leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has been under house arrest at her lakeside residence since September 2000, a month before she embarked on secret talks with the ruling military junta.

    "If she is released, Thailand would not be surprised because the government has been informed regularly about the progress of the reconciliation talks," Surakiart said in the statement."Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi is a good thing, and an important step in the reconciliation process."

    The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990, but Myanmar's generals refused to relinquish their rule of the country.Anticipation that the restrictions against Aung San Suu Kyi would soon be lifted were sparked on Tuesday when UN envoy to Myanmar Razali Ismail, who visited Yangon late last month, hinted the release could be imminent.The NLD has said last-minute negotiations over the conditions for Aung San Suu Kyi's own liberation were still being deliberated.

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