Daily News- November 12- 2002- Tuesday
Clarke embarrassed as attack on Burma goes up in smoke
Suu Kyi lawyers ask court to summon brother in property dispute
Burma court began hearing Ne Win family's appeal against coup convictionU.N. envoy says his statement of quit not ultimatumU.N. envoy arrives Burma on his 9th visit for crucial talksBurma accuses some nations of interfering in internal affairsUNHCR Shame at the Burmese Demonstration in IndiaRazali start holding talks with General Khin Nyunt and Suu KyiThailand ready to be a link for national reconcilation in Burma
Clarke embarrassed as attack on Burma goes up in smoke
Kenneth Clarke, former chancellor of the exchequer, was facing acute embarrassment last night after saying he was "uncomfortable" with investment in military-run Burma - overlooking the fact he is deputy chairman of British American Tobacco (BAT), which has significant involvement there.
"The problem with Burma arises when companies start collaborating with an extremely unpleasant regime which is totally contrary to our notions of civil liberties and democracy," he breezily told one of his local Nottingham constituents in a letter.
The gaffe was seized on by human rights activists who pointed out that BAT pays workers 23p a day at a factory which it owns jointly with the "unpleasant" government.
The Burma Campaign, which has already managed to force one British firm, Premier Oil, out of the Asian country this year, said Mr Clarke must now ensure the exit of BAT.
"Ken Clarke is absolutely right," said John Jackson, director of the Burma Campaign in Britain. "BAT's collaboration with the regime is helping to keep this brutal dictatorship in power. He should get them to pull out immediately."
BAT has a Burmese subsidiary called Rothmans of Pall Mall Myanmar, which is a 60/40 joint venture with the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, a company owned by the military government.
Myanmar is the name given to the country by the soldiers who have run it for four decades and which refused to allow the National League for Democracy to take its rightful place in government despite it winning 82% of the seats in free elections in 1990.
The Burma Campaign claims the BAT factory near Rangoon earns the regime $400,000 a year - enough for 20,000 AK47 assault rifles - and is located in an industrial zone which was upgraded by child labour.
Activists add that it would take 85 years for one of BAT's workers in Burma to earn what the company chairman, Martin Broughton, earns in a day.
BAT's activities sit awkwardly with recent statements from Mr Broughton about the company's aims. "Our goals are to continue creating long-term sustainable shareholder value, and to lead the tobacco industry in demonstrating corporate social responsibility and wider accountability," he has said.
Mr Clarke has talked in the past about the need for BAT to "ensure an impeccable reputation in every sphere".
Yesterday Mr Clarke said despite his comments to a constituent there was no question of BAT, whose brands include Dunhill, Rothmans and Lucky Strike, quitting Burma. "We employ more than 400 people in Burma and I see no benefit to them in us simply pulling out. The best way forward is to continue to contribute to local welfare through pursuing employment, environmental and social development goals," he argued.
BAT, which acquired Rothmans International in 1999, boasts it is spending $50,000 digging new wells to provide clean water to villages and insists its employees are among the highest paid in Burma.
To The TopSuu Kyi lawyers ask court to summon brother in property dispute
YANGON, Myanmar (AP)- Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers asked a court Monday to force her estranged brother to testify in a lawsuit he filed two years ago seeking a share of the family house where Suu Kyi lives.
Neither Suu Kyi nor her brother, who lives in the United States, has appeared in court in connection with the case, which has been fought by their lawyers and representatives.
Her legal team filed a petition with a district court in the capital,Yangon, arguing that Aung San Oo's presence in court would lead to a ``much fairer hearing'' because his representatives have been ``unable to give satisfactory explanations to our questions,'' said lawyer Tun Tin.
Aung San Oo's lawyer, Han Toe, told the Yangon Division Court that the petition was ``meaningless,'' saying his client has been well represented by his personal agent. The hearing was adjourned until Nov.27, when Han Toe said he would submit a formal objection to the application.
Suu Kyi has been sued by Aung San Oo, who is a U.S citizen, for an ``entitled share'' of a 2-acre (0.8- hectare) property that includes a two-story lakeside house in Yangon where Suu Kyi has lived for the past 14 years.
The property was given by the government to Suu Kyi's mother after her husband, independence hero Gen. Aung San, was assassinated in July 1947. Her mother died in Dec. 1988.
According to Myanmar's Buddhist inheritance law, children of Buddhist parents have the right to inherit property left by their parents. But a 1987 law forbids foreigners from owning or transferring property without a special waiver by the government.
An earlier lawsuit filed Aung San Oo in November 2000 seeking an equal partition of the property was dismissed in January last year on technical grounds.
Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her democracy struggle, was confined to that house from September 2000 to May this year after defying a travel ban imposed by Myanmar's military regime.Her National League for Democracy party won general elections in 1990 but was barred from taking power.
To The TopBurma court began hearing Ne Win family's appeal against coup conviction
Source : AFP
Burma's Supreme Court has begun hearing an appeal lodged by the son-in-law and three grandsons of former dictator Ne Win who were sentenced to death for plotting to overthrow the junta.
Chief defence counsel Tun Sein told the court Tuesday there was no basis for a lower court's decision in September to convict the four of treason.
"We are submitting this appeal in the hope that the Supreme Court will reverse the decision by the divisional court," he told judges Tin Aung Ayea and Khin Myint.
Tun Sein called for Ne Win's son-in-law Aye Zaw Win and three grandsons Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win to be acquitted of the charges.
The men were sentenced to death by hanging after being arrested in March in a swoop against the once all-powerful family that stunned the nation and remodelled Burma's political landscape.
The junta said the Ne Win clan had grown disgruntled at losing their economic and political privileges as their patriarch's power waned, and had used black magic and voodoo dolls as part of their plot to seize power.
Most observers doubt they were seriously attempting to mount a takeover, but believe the current regime installed 14 years ago, now known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), wanted to demonstrate it is firmly in charge.
Since the arrests, Ne Win and his daughter Sandar Win -- reputedly the brains behind the family which accumulated an extensive business empire -- have been held under virtual house arrest at their Rangoon home.
Ne Win stood down in 1988 after a quarter-century in power but until the crackdown on his family he had widely been seen as an extremely influential figure who exerted control over the ruling generals.
To The TopU.N. envoy says his statement of quit not ultimatum
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters)- - The United Nations special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail said on Tuesday he may quit if talks between the country's military rulers and pro-democracy opposition for political change do not start soon.
Razali told Reuters, before boarding a flight to Burma for a five-day visit to meet key generals and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, that he wanted to see progress to carry on.
However, he said that his statement should not be construed as an ultimatum ahead of his ninth visit to the impoverished Southeast Asian country.
Razali brokered talks between Suu Kyi and the military junta in October 2000, but the two sides have never moved beyond "confidence-building" to address substantive issues.
"In my mind, I do not want to be the special envoy that wanders around for 15 years doing things with no light at the end of the tunnel," he said in an interview.
"It's not being dramatic or playing to the gallery, I am going in a very realistic mood."
Asked if he had a deadline after which he would quit, he replied: "No, no, we'll have to talk to the principals."
Diplomats in Rangoon have said that Razali needs a breakthrough to salvage what little confidence is left in his efforts to prod the junta toward democracy.
Razali clarified that when he said in August that he expected substantive talks "very soon" between the government and Suu Kyi, he had been thinking in terms of weeks not months.
"That was my understanding of the assurance given by (Myanmar military intelligence chief) Khin Nyunt, a couple or so weeks, no more than that," he said.
Following strong international pressure, Suu Kyi was released from 19 months of house arrest in May, but since then she has had no meetings with senior members of the junta. She has repeatedly called for meaningful talks to begin as soon as possible.
Razali, who answers to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said there was clamour for progress.
The United Nations, in a statement released in Rangoon late on Monday, said Annan feared early hopes of a breakthrough after Suu Kyi's release from 19 months of house arrest in May were fading.
"The secretary-general is very concerned, people in the U.N. are asking me what's happening, we would like to see some answers," Razali said. "I am going there to make a big effort to get it going," he added.
To The TopU.N. envoy arrives Burma on his 9th visit for crucial talks
Rangoon (Reuters)- - A key United Nations envoy arrives in Burma later on Tuesday for crucial talks with the ruling generals and democratic opposition, as hopes fizzle for political change in the impoverished southeast Asian country.
Razali Ismail's five-day visit comes at a time of mounting pressure from the outside world for the military, which has ruled Burma for four decades, to open talks with Nobel peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Diplomats said Razali, on his ninth mission to Burma, needed a breakthrough to salvage what little confidence was left in his efforts to prod the junta toward democracy.
The veteran Malaysian diplomat brokered talks between the junta and Suu Kyi in 2000 when she was put under house arrest following an effort to visit supporters outside the capital.
But substantive dialogue between the generals and Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, has yet to materialise with the only sign of movement on the junta's part being the release of some 600 political prisoners.
"I honestly feel he has begun to lose his optimism and some people even think it might be his final visit unless tangible progress comes out of it," one Rangoon-based Asian diplomat close to Razali told Reuters.
"We think, if he gives up, all the progress achieved so far will be gone."
The United Nations, in a statement released in Rangoon late on Monday, said Secretary General Kofi Annan feared early hopes of a breakthrough after Suu Kyi's release from 19 months house arrest in May were fading.
"The positive momentum generated for the ongoing national reconciliation process in Burma since the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom...could dissipate unless some tangible progress is made in the near future," said the statement, issued by Annan's spokesman.
It added that Razali had requested meetings with the junta's top three leaders -- Senior General Than Shwe, junta vice-chairman General Maung Aye and powerful intelligence chief Khin Nyunt. He would also meet Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi has repeatedly called for substantive talks on the political future of Burma, crippled by Western economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, but has said political prisoners remain a major stumbling block.
A U.N. human rights envoy who visited Burma last month said there were some 1,200-1,300 political prisoners still languishing in Burma's jails.
The United States last week called on the junta to begin "substantive dialogue" with Suu Kyi and her party, which won 1990 elections by a landslide but was never allowed to take power.
"We expected that dialogue between the regime in Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi would be well under way by now," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, referring to the country by its former name. "Instead we have seen no signs of the discussions critical to Burma's future."
To The TopBurma accuses some nations of interfering in internal affairs
Source : Xinhua News Agency
Rangoon, Nov. 12 -- Burmese leader Khin Nyunt has accused some western nations of interfering in the internal affairs of his country.
Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, made the accusation when meeting with basic education teachers in Hlegu, about 30 kilometers north of Rangoon, on Monday evening, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday.
"The destructive groups, with the assistance of neo-imperialistnations, are leveling one groundless accusation after another against Myanmar," he said, adding that they made such accusations in connection with human rights, forced labor and narcotic drugs.
He said Burma has witnessed outside instigation to cause disintegration of the union before, and such danger will continue to exist not only now but also in the future.
"Unless we can build a consolidated national force, there will exist the danger to the disintegration of the union. Outside instigation is waiting to interfere in the affairs of the country. All Myanmar people should be aware of the fact," he warned.
However, he was convinced that the strength of unity will bringabout national development and noted the historical lesson that the country lagged behind in development when there was an armed opposition.
He also noted that with the aim of strengthening the national economy, developing modern science and technology and being able to stand tall among world nations, the state is endeavoring to promote international relations and cooperation.
However, he further warned that due to such increased international relations and advancing information technology, there will be much alien penetration into culture.
He called for greater efforts to perpetuate and safeguard the national culture and characters.
To The TopUNHCR Shame at the Burmese Demonstration in India
Source : Asian Tribune
More than 300 Burmese youths including Chin and Kachin nationals demonstrated in front of the office UNHCR today in New Delhi.
Slogans : UNHCR Shame, Shame....
We are refugees.... We are refugees....
We need human rights.... We need human rights....
The above are slogans from the demonstration in front of the UNHCR's office in New Delhi. The demonstrators said that they came to India because of various violations of human rights and oppressions by the SPDC military government.
They also added that most young people in Burma are losing educational and economical opportunities and with them their futures.
The reason for their demonstration being that they are still not recognised as refugees by the UNHCR even though their application forms had been submitted for more than six months.
They demanded the High Commission to interview them before the end of December and to issue dates for interviews for the applicants within two weeks and to reconsider the cases of people who were refused refugee status.
The UNHCR officials pledged to comply their demands and in return, asked the demonstration to be terminated. The Indian police also acted as negotiators between the demonstrators and the UN officials. Accordingly the demonstrators ended their protest.
To The TopRazali start holding talks with General Khin Nyunt and Suu Kyi
Rangoon (Reuters)- - A United Nations envoy met a top Burmese general and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday after saying he might resign if the ruling military junta failed to soon take steps towards democracy.
Razali Ismail arrived at the start of a five-day visit amid mounting pressure from the outside world on the military, which has ruled Burma for four decades, to open talks with Nobel peace laureate and opposition leader Suu Kyi.
Razali held separate meetings with the junta's powerful intelligence chief General Khin Nyunt and Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy won 1990 elections by a landslide but has been denied power by the armed forces.
The veteran Malaysian diplomat, on his ninth visit to the impoverished southeast Asian country, has made no public comments, but told Reuters in Kuala Lumpur before boarding the flight to Burma that he wanted to see some progress to be able to carry on mediating.
"In my mind, I do not want to be the special envoy that wanders around for 15 years doing things with no light at the end of the tunnel," Razali said.
But he said his comments should not be seen as an ultimatum.
The junta has repeatedly said it is moving toward democracy but that too speedy a transition would destabilise the country.
Suu Kyi was released from house arrest after 19 months in May, sparking hopes a breakthrough was imminent.
But the junta has never moved beyond tentative gestures, such as the release of Suu Kyi and some 600 political prisoners.
The European Union issued a statement in Rangoon on Tuesday urging the junta to take advantage of Razali's latest visit by opening substantive political dialogue with the opposition.
Washington also called on Burma's generals last week to take steps toward democracy, including the release of more than 1,000 political prisoners still languishing in Burma's jails.
Diplomats say Razali needs a breakthrough to salvage what little confidence the international community has left in his efforts to prod the junta toward democracy.
Suu Kyi has called repeatedly for substantive face-to-face talks with the junta on the political future of Burma, crippled by Western economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
After his last visit to Burma in August, Razali expressed high hopes talks would start "very soon".
On Tuesday he clarified those comments, saying he had been led to believe the junta would initiate talks in a few weeks.
Razali, who answers to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said there was clamour for progress.
The United Nations, in a statement released in Rangoon late on Monday, said Annan feared early hopes of a breakthrough after Suu Kyi's release from house arrest were fading.
It said Razali had requested meetings with the junta's top three leaders -- Senior General Than Shwe, junta vice-chairman General Maung Aye and Khin Nyunt.
To The TopThailand ready to be a link for national reconcilation in Burma
Seoul, Nov 12 (Asian Tribune)- - Thailand is ready to be a coordinator for all parties concerned for the sake of the success of the national reconcilation in Burma, according to Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.
Surakiart told TNA reporter yesterday that the Thai government has a clear stance on supporting the development of democracy and national reconcilation in Burma.
The kingdom, therefore, had been and would be ready to be a coordinator of all parties concerned, including the Burmese military junta, the opposition led by Ms. Aung San Su Kyi, armed ethnic groups and representatives of the United Nations, in efforts to achieve the planned national reconcilation in Burma, he stated.
"We would like to see political negotiations between the Myanmar military junta and Ms. Su Kyi take place as soonest as possible. Thailand is ready to be a coordinator of all parties concerned for the matter", he was quoted by the reporter as saying.
The reporter is accompanying Surakiart in his ongoing trip to Seoul to attend the Second Ministerial Conference on the Community of Democracies, which was inaugurated yesterday.
At the inaugural session, Ms. Su Kyi urged the international community through a video confernece to support negotiation processes in Burma to achieve democracy and national reconcilation in her motherland, according to Surakiart.
A UN special envoy would visit Rangoon soon to mediate for the political negotiations between the Burmese military junta and the opposition, he disclosed.
To The Top