Daily News- November 10 - 2002- Sunday

  • E.Timor foreign minister to visit Burma
  • E Timor set on joining Asean: Horta
  • UN envoy Razali to make new bid to reignite Myanmar reform process
  • Burmese court to hear Ne Win family's appeal this week
  • Myanmar : Expansion of ICRC activities
  • Bangladesh Football team going to Burma

  • E.Timor foreign minister to visit Burma

    ABC Radio Australia News

    East Timor foreign minister Jose Ramos Horta has accepted an invitation from Burma's military regime to visit in early February.

    A vocal supporter of Burma's pro-democracy movement Mr Ramos Horta said he hoped to meet pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the country 's top generals.

    He said there were some positive signs taking place in Burma that should be encouraged.

    Burma's ruling generals have been seen as a possible barrier to newly independent East Timor's entry into the Association of South East Asian Nations regional grouping, because of the public backing East Timorese leaders have given Ms Suu Kyi.

    E Timor set on joining Asean: Horta

    By Kavi Chongkittavorn

    East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta says his country is a Southeast Asian nation that hopes to become an Asean observer next year and a member of the regional grouping in 2007.

    Horta said the world's newest nation's future would be tied to the region because of its geographical location, even though its ethnic majority is Micronesian. "We have made this strategic-conscience decision," he said.

    In an exclusive interview with The Nation over the weekend, Horta said the Asean Secretariat had notified him that it was not possible to have dual membership of both Asean and the South Pacific Forum. East Timor has already been admitted as a special observer of the latter, which is based in the Fijian capital Suva.As part of the preparations for joining Asean, he said, East Timor has already applied for a seat in the regionwide security group, the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), and is ready to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.Asean placed a moratorium on ARF membership in 2000 when North Korea was admitted at the forum's meeting in Bangkok. East Timor and Pakistan are the top candidates if Asean agrees to take in new ARF members.

    East Timor attended the Asean annual meeting in Brunei in July as a guest of the Asean Standing Committee and will be present at the next meeting in Cambodia in June 2003.

    But Asean still does not have a consensus for admitting East Timor, with Singapore and Burma opposed to its membership for different reasons. Singapore would like to see the new members Laos, Cambodia and Burma further integrated into the grouping first. Burma meanwhile is unhappy with the strong support East Timorese leaders have given to Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League of Democracy.

    Horta - who is accompanying President Xanana Gusmao on a five-day official visit to Thailand - said he was scheduled to visit Rangoon early next year as part of a familiarisation tour. "We are becoming an Asean member. We have to play by the rules of Asean as well as [maintaining] our commitment to support for the democratic movement in Burma," he said.Both Gusmao and Horta are friends of Suu Kyi.

    Horta added that East Timor would not lecture neighbouring countries on democracy because it realised that the democratisation process was a slow one.

    As an Asean observer, he said, East Timor would have time to prepare itself to join the grouping because the country needed to build its economic, political and social infrastructure. "We don't want to be a burden on Asean, and we will proceed gradually to become an Asean member," he said, adding that East Timor would in the meantime strengthen its bilateral ties with Asean countries.East Timor became an independent nation in May, following two years of a transitional United Nations administration.

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    UN envoy Razali to make new bid to reignite Myanmar reform process

    YANGON, Nov 10 (AFP) - United Nations envoy Razali Ismail arrives here this week on a mission to revive a critical dialogue between the junta and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi which is believed to have ground to a total standstill.

    In October 2000 Razali brokered landmark contacts between the two sides which were aimed at paving the way for democratic reforms to end four decades of military rule in Myanmar.But after a surge of optimism prompted by Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest in May, the regime's promises to begin a political dialogue and release hundreds of jailed dissidents have come to nothing.

    Despite the distractions of a looming US-Iraq war and the bombing in Bali which highlighted the risk of terrorism in Southeast Asia, the international community is becoming increasingly impatient with the junta.

    In a statement timed to coincide with Razali's upcoming ninth visit to Yangon, the United States hit out at the ruling generals, accusing them of making no progress towards reform since Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

    "Given such a positive step earlier this year, we expected that dialogue between the regime in Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi would be well under way by now," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher."We have seen no signs of the discussions critical to the future of Burma," he said, using the country's former name which was dumped by the junta. However, Boucher reiterated strong US support for Razali's role as a catalyst for change, saying it was "key to a better future for the Burmese people."

    UN chief Kofi Annan also conveyed his impatience with the glacial progress of Myanmar's reform process when he announced Razali's visit, which will run from November 12 to 16 and include a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi.Annan was "concerned that the positive momentum generated for the ongoing national reconciliation process in Myanmar... could dissipate unless some tangible progress is made in the near future," said his spokesman Fred Eckhard.

    He said Annan attached particular importance to discussions Razali hopes to have with Senior General Than Shwe, leader of the junta which is known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

    Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), remains sceptical that Razali's visit will produce any dramatic results but acknowledges his intervention remains crucial."It depends on his facilitation. Everybody is hoping for the best, but I cannot say. It really depends on both sides," said NLD spokesman U Lwin."For our part we've already extended our hand and are ready to sit down at the table to discuss any topic at any time. We are waiting patiently. But there has been no response," he told AFP.

    U Lwin said there were sporadic communications between the two sides, but "it doesn't mean the starting of a real meaningful dialogue".

    Political observers in Yangon said Razali faced an extremely difficult task in attempting to spur action from the junta which has for many years ignored both threats and promises designed to hasten political reform.

    "He happens to be in an unenviable position of being stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea... with an impatient international community demanding quick results on the one hand and a batch of generals who do not feel compelled to change things in a hurry on the other," said one Yangon analyst.

    The junta, which disallowed 1990 elections won by the NLD in a landslide, has repeatedly promised that it is committed to democracy but that the process must be worked out carefully to avoid internal conflict.

    "We will not be swayed by sweet words or bowed by threats in the pursuit of our national goal of a peaceful, modern and prosperous state," the SPDC's powerful First Secretary, General Khin Nyunt, has said.

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    Burmese court to hear Ne Win family's appeal this week

    ABC Radio Australia News

    Burma's Supreme Court will hear an appeal against death sentences handed to the son-in-law and three grandsons of former dictator Ne Win for plotting to overthrow the junta.

    A Military intelligence spokesman says the Supreme Court has accepted the submissions lodged by defence lawyers and the hearing will be held this week.Since the arrests of the four men in March, Ne Win and his daughter Sandar Win have been held under virtual house arrest at their Rangoon home.

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    Myanmar : Expansion of ICRC activities

    Source : www.icrc.org

    With the government's consent, the head of the ICRC delegation in Myanmar is currently touring the border areas of Shan state in order to meet with the local authorities and the civilian population and to discuss with them the possibility of expanding ICRC protection and assistance activities in those areas.

    The ICRC delegation in Myanmar has been carrying out regular visits to detainees since 1999. Over the years, it has engaged in constructive dialogue designed to build up a relationship of trust with the authorities, and it is now seeking to expand its activities to include other target groups. With this in mind, it has asked for permission to increase its presence in the country so that it can assess the overall humanitarian situation. If its request is granted, it will regularly report its findings to the authorities on a confidential basis with a view to working out appropriate measures to ensure the protection and security of the civilian population.

    It should be noted that, by virtue of its mandate, the ICRC cannot investigate the allegations recently made in the report License to Rape.

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    Bangladesh Football team going to Burma

    Source : The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

    Bangladesh football team will play two friendly international matches against Burma at the leg of this month. The first match will be held on November 22 and the second on November 24, Burma Football Federation confirmed yesterday. A tough South East Asian Football nation, Burma has invited Bangladesh as part of their build up to the Tiger Cup.

    The national football team, now training under coach George Kottan at the BKSP for the SAFF Championship, is scheduled to fly to Burma on November 20.

    This is the third time a Bangladesh football team will visit the neighboring country. Bangladesh last visited Burma in 1997 to play a couple of exhibition matches.

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