Daily News- November 02- 2002- Saturday

  • Annan Worried Myanmar Reform Drive Losing Steam
  • Myanmar stresses importance of UN to international peace
  • Parcels did not come from Thailand
  • Mizoram-Burma border sealed to prevent terrorists' entrance
  • Koizumi to meet Burma junta leader in Cambodia
  • ICFTU Welcomes Accor Group Announcement of Withdrawal from Burma
  • Buddhist Monk shot by Chin insurgents in Burma

  • Annan Worried Myanmar Reform Drive Losing Steam

    By Irwin Arieff

    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Concerned that a political reform drive in Myanmar is losing steam, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday urged the Asian nation's military government and pro- democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to quickly launch talks laying the groundwork for democracy.

    "It is only through an all-inclusive dialogue that Myanmar will be able to ensure that national reconciliation is durable and the transition to democracy smooth," Annan said in a report to the 191-nation U.N. General Assembly.

    He also called on the authorities in the country formerly known as Burma to quickly release all remaining political prisoners and eliminate all remaining restrictions on the activities of legal political parties.

    The military has raised hopes for political change in the last two years by releasing around 400 political prisoners and freeing Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest in May. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won national elections in 1990, but has never been allowed to rule by the military, which has held power for the last four decades.

    Many Western countries, including the United States and the European Union , have imposed political and economic sanctions on Myanmar, a country diplomats say has been impoverished by decades of economic mismanagement.

    Annan noted it had been five months since Suu Kyi had been allowed to resume her activities as the leader of a lawful party, yet no talks had yet begun with the government on political reforms and national reconciliation.

    "I am concerned that the positive momentum generated since this spring could dissipate unless some tangible progress is made in the near future," he said. "It is my strong belief that the objectives of preserving stability and pressing ahead with much-needed reforms are mutually compatible."

    Despite the recent releases of political prisoners, his report said hundreds were believed still in custody including 220 members of the National League for Democracy, 400 nonmembers and "several hundred others, including students." In addition, the activities of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy has been limited in Shan state and the National League for Democracy has been prevented from publishing and distributing political material while the pro-government National Unity Party is allowed to do so, according to the report.

    Annan said Myanmar Foreign Minister Win Aung, during talks in New York in September, had assured him his government was committed to moving toward a multiparty democratic system "but at the same time stressed the need to build a strong nation that could withstand any challenge to its territorial integrity."

    Myanmar stresses importance of UN to international peace

    YANGON, Nov 1, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar leader Khin Nyunt on Friday stressed the fundamental importance of the United Nations to the preservation of international peace and security and to the promotion of economy and social development of mankind.Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, made the remarks at the opening ceremony here of the UN Poster Exhibition.

    He recalled that Myanmar became the 58th UN member on April 19, 1948, just more than three months after regaining independence, saying that it is a reflection of Myanmar's belief in the noble principles of the UN Charter.He noted that Myanmar has actively participated in the UN system since joining the organization and stands among the foremost members that have contributed peacekeepers to the UN peacekeeping forces.

    He cited Myanmar's membership of the Disarmament Commission since its inception, in which it served as chairman of the First Committee at the 55th UN General Assembly Session in 2000, and membership of the Governing Council of the UN Environment Program since January 2002.Moreover, he added, Myanmar has also been elected to serve in the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board beginning in January 2003.

    He also recalled that Myanmar citizens have also served in various important positions of the United Nations, citing prominent figures among them such as U Thant, the third UN Secretary-General who served from 1961 to 1971, and U Tun Myat, assistant secretary-general who is serving as UN security coordinator.

    He added that there exists today wide-ranging cooperation between Myanmar and the United Nations including human development initiative, health, education and anti-narcotic and crop substitution programs.

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    Parcels did not come from Thailand

    The Nation

    Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai yesterday voiced doubts about the origin of parcel bombs the Burmese government claims were sent from Thailand, as Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra downplayed what appeared to be the start of a new round of tensions with Burma.

    Speaking to reporters yesterday, Surakiart said he had instructed Thai embassy officials to inspect the packages' postmarks to determine whether they originated in Thailand."We have questioned whether the letters were sent from Thailand," Surakiart said.The premier yesterday ordered an investigation into the matter.

    On Thursday Burma claimed its embassies in Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore had received parcel bombs sent from Thailand."We can deduce that this is the work of a dissident group residing in our neighbouring country as all the letters had Bangkok postmarks," junta spokesman Lt-Colonel Nyan Lin told reporters.The devices were defused without injuries, he said, adding that they were marked "8/8/88" - the date on which widespread anti-government unrest broke out in Burma, leading to a military takeover.

    Burma on Thursday summoned Thailand's Rangoon ambassador to express its concern about the incident.

    Thaksin meanwhile was quick to downplay the parcel bombs, saying Thai-Burmese relations were unaffected by the incident. Despite a recent calm, tensions with Burma have been high in recent months, following a series of border clashes earlier in the year.

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    Mizoram-Burma border sealed to prevent terrorists' entrance

    Source : The Independent (Bangladesh)

    The government on the reports of different intelligence branches has sealed 172 kilometres along the Mizoram-Burma border to prevent terrorists from crossing the border for safe shelter elsewhere. The army has declared red alert in the areas adjacent to the border. The BDR men have been kept alerted.

    The government has taken up the measures on the reports by the intelligence branches that the listed terrorists in the face of joint raids by army and police across the country have taken shelter in Bandarban town and in the remote hills as safe places.

    The report indicates that the terrorists may cross the border if raids are intensified. The government has identified 47 points as vulnerable passing an order that the terrorists could in no way enter Bandarban through these points.

    The movement of unknown persons in Bandarban town has been reported. The remote hills are reportedly being frequented by unknown people. The selection of Bandarban areas by the godfathers in the face of army raid for safe shelter has left the people in panic. The men in the hills are always in panic.

    Police Super Shamsul Alam said vigilance had always been kept on the movement of new faces, saying that measures had been taken to stop the entrance of the outside terrorists into Bandarban.

    He said that raids would be conducted as soon as the location of the terrorists could be identified.

    The local people said that hundreds of new faces who appear to be Bengalis in alliance with the hill people are living in the hills.

    The terrorists do not spend more than one night in one place. Most of them in the guise of day labourers, boatmen, wood cutters, beggars and brickfield workers are living in the hill areas.

    They are distributing money among the tribes people to get their sympathy for shelter.

    Sources said the listed terrorists from across the country have come in good terms with the tribal terrorists and are living at ease and comforts in the hill areas.

    The hill people said the terrorists who have gathered in Bandarban have expressed their resentments saying that those who have become billionaire, MPs and ministers with their help have deserted them in the midst of army raids.

    Most of the tribes people are not opening mouths about the existence of the outsider terrorists.

    Sources said the joint operation is being delayed in Bandarban as the authorities are not certain about the actual number of terrorists and the quantity of arms at their disposal.

    A reliable source said the concerned authorities have prepared a list containing atleast 500 terrorists equipped with arms. Joint raids are expected to be started soon.

    The source said the terrorists have chosen the dense jungles in the hills and the tribal people inhabited areas as their safe shelter before the operation starts.

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    Koizumi to meet Burma junta leader in Cambodia

    Source : Japan Today

    TOKYO Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will meet Tuesday with Burma Gen Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, in Cambodia, Japanese government officials said Friday.

    Koizumi, who will be in Cambodia to attend a series of summit meetings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is expected to call on Than Shwe during their meeting to promote political dialogue with Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest in May.

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    ICFTU Welcomes Accor Group Announcement of Withdrawal from Burma

    Source : ICFTU

    Brussels -- The multinational leisure chain, Accor, announced at a meeting with the IUF that it would be withdrawing all operations from Burma, closing the doors of two hotels in Rangoon and Mandalay for the last time. Their decision is strongly welcomed by the ICFTU.

    Under increasing pressure from international trade union campaigning to halt investment in Burma, Accor is the latest on a growing list of multinational investors to pull out of the country.

    With the Burmese military junta approving each foreign direct investment through its foreign investment body and a number of companies in joint ventures with junta-controlled front companies, the ICFTU maintains that the very fact of doing business with Burma provides support to this brutal dictatorship: a dictatorship that is directly responsible for the extensive and increasing use of forced labour and a wide range of other grave human rights abuses, as well as being heavily implicated in money-laundering and the production of opium and other illicit drugs.

    On 28 October, on behalf of the Global Unions Group, the ICFTU released a new version of a database with over 320 foreign companies with business links to Burma.

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    Buddhist Monk shot by Chin insurgents in Burma

    Rangoon (AP) - Ethnic Chin insurgents shot and killed a Buddhist monk in northwestern Burma, a state-run newspaper reported Saturday.

    Two rebels from the Chin National Army allegedly entered a monastery in Paungmoewa village on Thursday and abducted head priest Sumingala, 40, before later shooting him dead, the official Myanma Ahlin daily reported.

    The newspaper said local residents pleaded with the gunmen to spare the monk, a 20-year veteran of the monkhood. The village is near the Indian border and about 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of Rangoon.

    The newspaper criticized the insurgents for being "jealous of the prevailing tranquility" in military-ruled Burma and accused them of "torturing the innocent." Military units were pursuing the rebels, the report added.

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