Daily News- May 29- 2002- Wednesday

  • Killings, prison, forced labour still Myanmar staple: Amnesty
  • Suu Kyi's freedom for how long?
  • Myanmar says "terrorist groups" exacerbating Thai border tensions
  • Aung San Suu Kyi plans to publish newspaper

  • Killings, prison, forced labour still Myanmar staple: Amnesty

    LONDON, May 28 (AFP) - Amnesty International on Tuesday praised Myanmar's release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi but said extrajudicial killings, political imprisonment and forced labour continued in the military-run state.

    "The May 6 release of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi after 19 months under de facto house arrest represented a very positive development in the human rights situation in Myanmar," the London-based rights group said in its annual report.But it highlighted the regime's continued poor human rights record and called for continued international pressure on the junta.

    "Amnesty International urged the international community to continue to encourage the Myanmar government to make further improvements," it said.The report said that while prison conditions were believed to have improved over the past year, some 1,600 political prisoners remained in prison by the end of 2001.They included hundreds of members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide election victory 12 years ago Monday but was barred from assuming power.

    "Extrajudicial executions and forced labour continued to be reported in the ethnic minority states, particularly Shan and Kayin states," the report said."Death from exhaustion and lack of medical care continued to be reported," it said of prisoners who were often sent to work in labour camps.

    The ruling State Peace and Development Council's 2000 prohibition of forced labour was reinforced last year, Amnesty cited the International Labour Organisation as saying.But it also warned that "forced labour of civilians was continuing, particularly near military camps, in spite of the SPDC's new decree."

    Some 52 prisoners remained behind bars despite completing their prison sentences, it added.It also noted that at least 64 political prisoners had died in custody since 1988, the year massive student demonstrations were staged across the country demanding an end to military rule in place since 1962.

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    Suu Kyi's freedom for how long?

    Ralph Bachoe
    The Bangkokpost

    Aung San Suu Kyi's recent release from house arrest gives her no guarantee that she would be allowed to move about freely. Instead it serves as a breather for the the military junta to concentrate on its attempt to crush Gen Ne Win and the National Unity Party (NUP).

    According to analysts, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has given Mrs Suu Kyi a ``temporary reprieve'' to give it more time to crush Ne Win's hold on the military and the NUP. Once this is achieved Mrs Suu Kyi would be again placed under house arrest.

    The military has two fronts open, one against the National League for Democracy, which does not really exist today, and the once military-backed NUP. But they are temporarily placed on the back-burner and is concentrating on Ne Win's institution which is the military. The SPDC has a lot of explaining to do in the military where there seems to be an implosion.

    Sources in Rangoon say Mrs Suu Kyi was denied her demands that she be allowed to move about freely, reorganise her party, and that all political prisoners be released.

    Shortly after United Nations negotiator Razali Ismail had announced that there would be an important announcement in regards to talks between Mrs Suu Kyi and the Rangoon government, the international media was invited to Rangoon by the junta to witness a major event.

    By April 30 the international media had gathered in front of Mrs Suu Kyi's residence with the assumption that the major event promised by the government had to be the release of Mrs Suu Kyi. They were disappointed.

    Mrs Suu Kyi did not show up until five days later after dozens of trips by senior military officers to see her. She finally relented under pressure from the international community and the media to walk out a free woman.

    During his last visit to Rangoon Mr Razali was alleged to have told Mrs Suu Kyi that if nothing came of his negotiations, he would withdraw from the talks process. Mrs Suu Kyi was supposed to have talked him into continuing with the negotiations and that she would co-operate. Officials of major embassies were also said to have been involved in persuading Mrs Suu Kyi into relenting to the military's wishes.

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    Myanmar says "terrorist groups" exacerbating Thai border tensions

    YANGON, May 28 (AFP) - Myanmar's military leaders on Tuesday accused Thailand of harbouring "terrorist groups" which were deliberately prompting border clashes which left up to 20 Myanmar fighters dead in the past week.

    Officials of the ruling junta said border tensions were being exacerbated by anti-Yangon insurgent groups including the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA), Myanmar's name for the Shan State Army.

    "These shooting incidents were found to have been deliberately caused by the SURA drug terrorists as well as KNU terrorists based inside Thailand," Lieutenant Colonel Myint Lwin of defence intelligence told reporters here.He said shooting and mortar incidents along the border with Thailand's Chiang Mai province May 20-26 left "both sides with sustained casualties estimated at 20 on the Myanmar side and 50 on the Thai side."By casualties Myint Lwin said he meant people killed or missing.

    A Thai army spokesman told AFP that no deaths from the border incidents had been reported in Thailand.

    Myint Lwin said a Myanmar army outpost with 60 troops had been abandoned after mortar fire, and just 40 of the troops were accounted for.He said the SURA and KNU had made "synchronised attacks on Thai military outposts and committed terrorist acts on Myanmar soil with the aim of creating tension and misunderstanding between the two countries."

    The Thai military has not accused the rebel groups of firing on Thailand's army positions, instead saying last week that the United Wa State Army, a Yangon-aligned ethnic militia, had fired into Thai territory.Last Tuesday Shan rebels said they killed 12 Myanmar soldiers.

    On Monday Yangon released a statement saying: "For decades Thailand has given sanctuary to many armed groups from Myanmar terrorising the population and threatening its security," adding that these groups were also involved in illegal activities inside Thailand.Myanmar military sources claimed that the groups were being supported and sustained by elements of the Thai military.

    Major General Kyaw Win, deputy chief of military intelligence, described the border situation as having gone "beyond normal.""Although we are militarily prepared this would be a last resort," Kyaw Win said. "We will see how the other side responds to our latest measures first."

    Last Tuesday the regime sealed its border with Thailand.On Tuesday Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said he would "soon" meet with top Myanmar officials in efforts to defuse tensions."Meanwhile we will wait to see how much of their troops have been withdrawn and how the situation at the border continues to develop," Kyaw Win said.

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    Aung San Suu Kyi plans to publish newspaper

    Source : AFP

    Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has unveiled plans by her National League for Democracy (NLD) to launch a newspaper in the military-ruled state.

    "Regarding the dissemination of information, we will apply for the right (to publish a party newspaper)," the Nobel peace laureate said Wednesday in an interview published in the Nation daily.

    "We have a plan (to do so). We'll see whether this will be allowed," she said in the interview which originally ran in Irrawaddy Magazine.

    All media in the military-run state is tightly controlled by the junta.

    "We have already accepted that there must be freedom of expression and (dissemination of information through media) to bring about a democracy," Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted as saying on Irrawaddy's website.

    Since October 2000 Aung San Suu Kyi and the military junta have been engaged in a secret dialogue on national reconciliation brokered by Razali Ismail, the United Nations special envoy to Rangoon.

    Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from 19 months house arrest on May 6, and has said her release is unconditional.

    She warned in the interview that restrictions on her NLD party were still in place, however.

    "I have not heard the regime mention anything about lifting restrictions on the NLD," she said.

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