Daily News- May 18- 2002- Saturday

  • US extends sanctions on Myanmar
  • Burmese dissident often uses Havel's words about power
  • Contract for Russia to build nuclear research centre in Burma delayed
  • Attacked village neither military outpost, nor drug camp: military
  • Myanmar cops to help trace stolen vehicles
  • US pleased that Aung San Suu Kyi can travel


  • US extends sanctions on Myanmar

    WASHINGTON, May 17 (AFP) - The United States on Friday extended sanctions on Myanmar for one year, in a routine move which nevertheless underlined its insistence that Yangon's generals must embrace reform before they can expect concessions from Washington.

    The sanctions, which include investment restrictions, a visa ban and a bar on lending by international financial institutions, were imposed by then-president Bill Clinton in 1997, and have been renewed every year since.Notice of their renewal was posted Friday in a declaration by President George W. Bush in the Federal Gazette, a daily digest of government business.

    "Because actions and policies of the Government of Burma continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on May 20, 1997 and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond May 20 2002."

    The United States told Myanmar's military rulers this week that they could expect a "positive response" from Washington if they moved their country towards democracy, after a 12-year-stalemate with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    But far reaching change in Myanmar, the former Burma, still appears a long way off, despite the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest last week, and her secret dialogue with the government brokered by United Nations envoy Razali Ismail.

    The United States said Wednesday it was preparing an aid package to help tackle Myanmar's accelerating HIV/AIDS crisis.The decision has been seen small gesture to the regime in Myanmar, but may be intended to bolster Razali's credibility in his painstaking task of convincing the military to offer genuine political reform.

    To The Top

    Burmese dissident often uses Havel's words about power

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 17, 2002
    Source: CTK news agency, Prague, in English 0820 gmt 17 May 02

    Prague, 17 May: The world's most famous dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, said that she often uses the words of Czech President Vaclav Havel about the power of those without power, in an exclusive interview for today's issue of the daily Mlada fronta Dnes.

    Asked what people in Burma feel after she was recently released from an 18-month house arrest, she said that they hope for better times.

    Suu Kyi, 57, was kept under house arrest for six years in 1989-1995 as well. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Havel's proposal, the paper writes.

    Suu Kyi said in the interview that people always have big hopes, but do not do much practically. It is quite comprehensible because they have lived long in depression and therefore are not sure what they can afford, she added.

    Mentioning the above words of Havel, she said that people need to find out that they do have power, that they themselves can contribute to progress in the country.

    In reply to a question how important for Burma the policy of the European Union is, Suu Kyi, said that the EU provides big support to Burma.But the support would be even more effective if all member states cooperated and took a joint stand on Burma, she said.

    Suu Kyi said that she would not say now whether she would like to be the head of her country. She said that she had never claimed that she would like to hold a post because the political situation changes very quickly.

    She refused talking about "sacrifice" in connection with what she had done for Burma. She said that she herself had chosen participation in the struggle for democracy.

    According to Suu Kyi it is not correct to do something and then speak about sacrifice. She said that many people had suffered much more though she herself had had to give up some things.

    To The Top

    Contract for Russia to build nuclear research centre in Burma delayed

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 17, 2002
    Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1311 gmt 17 May 02

    Moscow, 17 May: Contracts for the construction of a nuclear research centre in Burma are unlikely to be signed earlier than August or September 2002, Atomstroyeksport managing director Vadim Mayorov [Viktor Kozlov listed elsewhere as managing director] told Interfax.

    "Burma currently holds the blueprints of the nuclear research centre, which is estimated at 150m dollars, and it so far has not presented them to Russia," Mayorov said. The official said that after Atomstroyeksport receives the blueprints, it will initiate talks with the client regarding commercial and technical issues, which traditionally take quite a long time. Mayorov said that this centre may be built in three or four years.

    On 15 May Russia's government approved a draft agreement with Burma's government on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear research centre in Burma.Under this agreement, Russia is expected to build a basin-type nuclear reactor for research. The reactor will have a capacity of 10 MW, two laboratories for nuclear analysis and medical isotopes production as well as facilities for producing silicon alloys and a number of maintenance facilities, including some for recycling and storing radioactive waste.

    To The Top

    Attacked village neither military outpost, nor drug camp: military

    YANGON, May 17 (AFP) - Myanmar's military government on Friday denied Thai press reports that a village attacked by a rebel group earlier this week was a military outpost harbouring drugs.

    However, the ruling military regime confirmed that an attack on Min-let-pan by the Karen National Union (KNU) and the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), occurred on Wednesday, killing three and wounding seven.

    "In the first place, neither the Myanmar army nor the Democratic Karen Buddhist Association (DKBA) maintain outposts in the area, and in the second place, this is an area that has always been free of drugs," official spokesman Lieutenant Colonel San Pwint told reporters.

    The DKBA is a Yangon-supported splinter group that broke away from the KNU in 1994, while the KNU is the country's largest armed ethnic group. It has fought with Myanmar's ruling military for independence for more than five decades.The ABSDF is a coalition of pro-democracy students.

    "Thai media reports claiming it (the village) was a DKBA outpost and that 200,000 stimulant tablets were seized during the raid are entirely fabricated and false," San Pwint said.

    Major General Kyaw Win, deputy military intelligence chief, said it was not usual government policy to refute such reports from the foreign press.However, he said "we are concerned that such news could adversely affect our public."

    Myanmar's ruling military junta has come under harsh international criticism for its alleged involvement in the narcotics trade and its failure to clamp down on illegal drug producers. The regime however denies the charges.

    To The Top

    Myanmar cops to help trace stolen vehicles

    The Star

    KUALA LUMPUR: Myanmar will give Malaysia its full co-operation in investigating vehicles reported stolen here and smuggled into the country via Thailand.

    Police Colonel Sit Aye, director for International Relations Department, said Myanmar police were ever willing to assist any Asean member country in investigations pertaining to transnational crimes.

    The government of Myanmar, especially the police force is very particular about transnational crimes. So far we have not heard of any such vehicles seized but will look into it if there is any request by our fellow colleagues,

    "We are currently facing traffic jams in our country and the government is concerned about it. We are checking if any of the vehicles are smuggled,’’ he said at the Second Asean senior Officials Meeting on Transnational crime here yesterday.

    When asked if stolen Malaysian vehicles were being sold to the United Wa army in his country, he said: "We are not aware." He said Myanmar police would investigate and give full co-operation if there were any such vehicles there.

    The Star had reported on April 29 that car thieves with international links had smuggled the stolen cars to Thailand and disposed the vehicles to the clandestine United Wa army in Myanmar. The syndicate’s operation came to light following Thai police operations along the Thai-Myanmar border of Chiang Rai. Thai and Malaysian police, in a joint operation, managed to recover 20 four-wheel drives stolen from Malaysia and smuggled into Thailand.

    Pure imagination that Myanmar drug money being used to finance terrorism

    The Star

    May 17: THERE is no evidence that drug money in Myanmar is being used to finance terrorist activities or groups in the world.Dismissing such claims as "pure imagination", the country's director of international relations department Colonel Sit Aye said his country supported any action against terror groups.

    "We are willing to extend our cooperation to combat terrorism, including at international level," he said at the sidelines of the 2nd annual Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime.Sit Aye said although Myanmar did not face much threat from terrorism back home, it did not mean the military government was oblivious to the need to combat groups espousing violence.

    He also dismissed contentions that rapid development taking place in the border areas in the country was funded by drugs money."The Government has initiated a border area development programme where the local administrators are given loans and assistance. Funds are also derived from economic activities like logging."

    He said the Myanmar Government had initiated a programme this month involving 200,000 farmers where 10,000 hectares of land used to grow poppy were cultivated with alternative crops like sugarcane and buckwheat.

    "We hope to reduce by half the area planted with poppy." However, he did not say how big was the poppy-growing area in Myanmar now.Sit Aye said there is a vast area of co-operation between Myanmar and bordering nations, especially Thailand including preventing the trafficking of drugs.He said Myanmar in its bid to curb drug-related problems, had adopted a 15-year drug elemination initiative since 1999.

    This year, he added, Myanmar's central committee of drug abuse control to prevent the opium cultivation is offering growers seedlings, farming equipment and technologies.Aye said if farmers were to continue planting the illegal crop, legal actions would be taken against them.The move, he said, was initiated as the region, especially in the golden triangle, is faced with the problem of illegal poppy growing.

    The taskforce's decisions on action plans to counter the problem were to be adopted at the meeting he said but participating countries have yet to submit the project proposals."Once it is finalised, further cooperation with Thailand in the near future will be realised," he said.

    Sit Aye said among the main concerns of Myanmar Government were to severe the entry of precursor substances, which are required to produce drugs, into the country.

    Meanwhile, Royal Thai Police (special branch) deputy commissioner Maj Gen Amarin Niemskul said co-operation between Thailand and its neighbour Myanmar in countering drug-related problems is going the right direction as the issue is made focus by both countries at the 2nd Annual Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime.He said the drug problem burgeoning the countries of the Golden Triangle, Thailand, Myanmarand Vietnam has to be seriously addressed as the illegal activity is closely linked to acts of terrorism.

    "The funding of terrorists' activities comes from illegal activities mainly drugs as it derives the largest revenue for those involved," he said.The on-going meeting, he said, should initiate further actions to combat the problem."Then we can work more efficiently and won't be flooded with reports and after the meeting we hope there will be fewer meetings but rather undertake actions that concentrates on the fight against drugs," Amarin who is also Thailand's head of delegate, chairing the drug trafficking taskforce said.Myanmar is also on the taskforce as the deputy.

    Amarin added Thailand would now strive even harder in addressing drug problems."Through the many years of discussions with other Asean member countries, we have blossomed several working committees and sub committees but now we have to lessen that but focus on more follow up actions."

    To The Top

    US pleased that Aung San Suu Kyi can travel

    WASHINGTON (Reuters)---The United States said it was encouraged that Burma's military leaders had so far lived up to their promise to allow democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to travel freely, after she visited party members in suburban Rangoon.

    But in a sign that he has no intention of easing its hardline stance towards the junta, President George W. Bush went through the motions of renewing sanctions against Burma for another year.

    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that Aung San Suu Kyi had tested the military's word for the first time since her release from house arrest last week.

    "She stated that the visit has gone very well. We're encouraged that the regime is living up to its commitment to allow Aung San Suu Kyi freedom of movement," he said.

    "We urge the regime to continue progress by scheduling substantive talks soon with Aung San Suu Kyi and with the National League for Democracy to move forward in political reform and national reconciliation."

    Aung San Suu Kyi visited Shwepyitha township office of her National League for Democracy, which lies around 18 kilometers (11 miles) north of central Rangoon.

    The Nobel laureate and leader of the NLD was released May 6 after 19 months under house arrest at her lakeside villa.

    In an unrelated move, Bush extended sanctions on Burma for one year, underlining his insistence that Rangoon's generals must embrace reform before they can expect concessions from Washington.

    The sanctions, which include investment restrictions, a visa ban and a bar on lending by international financial institutions, were imposed by then-president Bill Clinton in 1997, and have been renewed every year since.

    Bush posted notice of their renewal in a declaration in the Federal Gazette, a daily digest of government business.

    "Because actions and policies of the Government of Burma continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on May 20, 1997 and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond May 20, 2002."

    The United States told Burma's military rulers this week that they could expect a "positive response" from Washington if they moved their country towards democracy, after a 12-year-stalemate with Aung San Suu Kyi.

    But far reaching change in Burma, still appears a long way off, despite her secret dialogue with the government brokered by United Nations envoy Razali Ismail.

    The United States said Wednesday it was preparing an aid package to help tackle Burma's accelerating HIV/AIDS crisis.

    The decision has been seen as a small gesture to the regime in Burma, but may be intended to bolster Razali's credibility in his painstaking task of convincing the military to offer genuine political reform.

    The United States is one of Burma's most vociferous critics, frequently lambasting Rangoon over its suppression of democracy, human rights record and the fact Burma is the world's top producer of opium.

    To The Top