Daily News- November 27- 2002- Wednesday

  • Suu Kyi wraps up lengthy trip to Shan state
  • Burma uncovers over 2500 drug cases
  • Thai firms win win approval from Rangoon for Four mega-projects
  • Drug trade is not to be scoffed at
  • Hacktivismo's software to fight Censorship, Human Rights Violations

  • Suu Kyi wraps up lengthy trip to Shan state

    Rangoon, Nov 27 (AFP) - Burma's pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi left Shan state for home Wednesday, wrapping up her longest political trip outside the capital since the military junta first placed her under house arrest 13 years ago.

    "From a political organization point of view, it was quite successful," U Lwin, spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), told AFP of the mission on which the opposition leader was often greeted by throngs of supporters.

    "She is on her way back to Rangoon," he said, calling Yangon by its former name.

    By mid-day she had reached the oil town of Yenangyaung, on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River some 370 miles (590 kilometres) north of Rangoon, U Lwin said.

    She was due to arrive late Wednesday, but heavy flooding in the north threatened to delay her arrival by a day.

    The Nobel peace laureate took full advantage of her May freedom from house arrest, spending two weeks criss-crossing the restive state known for its simmering ethnic rebellions.

    She presided over the re-opening of four NLD offices in Shan state, bringing to 72 the number of offices reopened since an easing of restrictions on the NLD. More than 230 remain shuttered, however, U Lwin said.

    On several occasions Aung San Suu Kyi was met by large numbers of supporters who lined roads and congregated in villages where she stopped.

    "We did not expect such huge crowds to greet her," U Lwin said.

    A cheering crowd of about 30,000 gathered in Lashio, the capital of northern Shan state, to hear her speak despite what U Lwin described as "warnings by the authorities that no one should come and greet her."

    Aung San Suu Kyi has made several political trips around the country since she was released in May from 19 months under house arrest with a guarantee that she would have complete freedom of movement.

    Her trips have gone off smoothly, although Rangoon is informed of her movements in advance and dispatches a security detail for her "protection" wherever she goes.

    In Shan state she met with the state's major nationalities in efforts to engage various ethnic groups who till now have been excluded from national reconciliation talks between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the democratic opposition.

    "This trip was very important because this is the area with the most ethnic diversity," U Lwin said.

    It came at a sensitive time for Shan state, which has been in the spotlight recently with the release of a report alleging systematic sexual abuse of ethnic minority women there.

    Two UN envoys, Razali Ismail and human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, visited Burma recently but both cancelled their scheduled trips to Shan state.

    Ethnic Shan rebels who oppose Rangoon rule said that Burmese government troops had attacked one of their positions during Aung San Suu Kyi's visit and accused them of attempting to disrupt her trip.

    Aung San Suu Kyi was already considering her next political trip, U Lwin said, though he did not offer a destination.

    "There are many more places to go," he said.

    Aung San Suu Kyi was first placed under house arrest in 1989, a year before her NLD party won a sweeping election victory that was never recognized by the junta.

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    Burma uncovers over 2500 drug cases

    Source : Hoovers Online (U.K) via Radio Myanmar

    Since Burma started implementing the 15-year plan to totally eradicate drug use and production, during the 2002-2003 poppy growing season from the period between 1 September to 20 November 2002, 117.46 acres of poppy fields were destroyed in Northern and Eastern Shan State.

    Between January to 15 November, action was taken against altogether 3,730 drug traffickers - 3,020 male offenders and 710 female offenders - from 2,529 drug cases.

    In connection with these cases, seized were 1,737.1983 kg of opium from 363 opium cases; 299.6057 kg of heroin from 892 heroin cases; 261.5759 kg of marijuana from 209 marijuana cases; over 9.19 million stimulant tablets from 482 stimulant tablet cases, 1,710.62 kg of ephedrine powder from 8 ephedrine powder cases.

    The amount of seized narcotic drugs of opium and heroin cases has increased over those of previous years, as a result of cooperative efforts, exchange of information among the national racial groups, neighbouring countries and international organizations in implementing the eradication of drugs. That Tatmadaw [Defence Services] and Burma Police Force are continuously collaborating with the people to search and seize narcotic drugs.

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    Thai firms win win approval from Rangoon for Four mega-projects

    Source : The Bangkokpost

    Rangoon has given the go-ahead for four mega-projects by Thai firms in Burma, Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said yesterday.

    They are the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Salween river by MDX company, a coal mine in a Burmese town opposite Prachuap Khiri Khan, a port project in Tavoy and a Mae Sot-Rangoon road project.

    Gen Chavalit was speaking after a meeting of the Thai-Burmese Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association, which is coordinating the projects with approval from the Rangoon government.

    Gen Chavalit co-chairs the association with Air Marshal Kyaw Than of Burma.

    He said Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council first secretary Gen Khin Nyunt had given approval for the association to lead Thai businessmen to invest in Burma.

    "Joint development will make border areas more open and help eliminate bad people, minority people and bad things hidden along the border and ensure greater security,'' Gen Chavalit said.

    Drug production would decline if minority people were cleared from border areas through peaceful means.

    He agreed with Rangoon that the Thai military's estimate that one billion methamphetamine pills would be trafficked through Thailand in the next year was excessive, given Burma's collaboration with Bangkok in drug suppression.

    ``I am certain that Thailand and Burma will be best friends forever. From now on, we will have no conflicts or problems stemming from different viewpoints,'' Gen Chavalit said.

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    Drug trade is not to be scoffed at

    Source : Editorial
    The Bangkokpost

    Rangoon's ridiculing of a Thai army forecast that up to one billion methamphetamine pills are expected to cross the border into Thailand next year is not surprising. The damning disclosure by Maj-Gen Naris Srinetr, chief of staff of the Third Army, obviously touched a raw nerve with the Burmese junta, as it promptly issued a denial and questioned the credibility of the prediction. They may have a point, but the Burmese generals are in no position to deny the open fact that the bulk of the speed pills flooding this country originate from Burma and were produced by its ally, the United Wa State Army, quite possibly with the connivance of senior-ranking Burmese military officers.

    Based on the rule of thumb that for every speed pill seized nine more get through and end up in the hands of drug users, Thai narcotics agencies estimate that up to 700 million tablets could be smuggled from Burma, many possibly through Laos, into Thailand this year. The Thai army forecast of the methamphetamine influx next year represents a 42% increase. The figure is alarming but hardly improbable given the resources of the UWSA and the many laboratories it has moved deeper inside Burma to better protect them.

    In the final analysis, it does not matter whether the final figure is closer to 700 million or one billion. Either number is huge and so many speed pills pose a real security and social threat to this country. No government, no matter how irresponsible, can sit by and treat this threat as routine. We expect action and, sadly, this government's record to date on the methamphetamine problem has been a major disappointment.

    Despite the full knowledge that the methamphetamines consumed by our population come mainly from Burma and are produced by the UWSA, this government appears unwilling to take up this issue directly with Rangoon. Is it really so worried that frank and open discussion on a matter so vital might hurt our good neighbourly relations? Why is so much time spent on discussing cooperation to eliminate opium crops when the Wa-controlled laboratories located not that far from the opium fields churn out millions of the far more insidious speed pills each day to supply the ever expanding Thai market?

    The porous border which divides Thailand and Burma stretches more than 2,000km along mostly barely penetrable terrain, making it easy for traffickers to sneak across undetected. Sealing the entire border is the stuff of dreams, and even simply policing known trafficking routes is a task requiring many more troops and far more modern equipment than the Thai army can comfortably afford. This is the sad reality, and so it is all the more frustrating that the only Thai army unit fully equipped to intercept drug caravans from Burma, Task Force 399, has recently had its role cut back by a government all too ready to appease a Rangoon which has accused the unit of carrying out cross-border forays.

    Thailand will never truly be able to win the battle against the methamphetamine scourge without the help of Rangoon. This will require that our government leaders engage the Burmese government leaders in open, frank discussion. This does not mean confrontation, but it does mean that those people we have elected to represent our interests do not shy away from stating some home truths.

    Rangoon should realise that turning a blind eye to the crimes of the UWSA against the Thai people and denying outright that any problem exists is wholly unbecoming of a good neighbour. But more importantly, having an ally like the UWSA, which wallows in drug money and is very capable of becoming a major militant force, could one day come back to haunt the generals and their people.

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    Hacktivismo's software to fight Censorship, Human Rights Violations

    Source : Dennis Fisher

    A hacker group on Tuesday released a novel license agreement that gives end-users the power to enforce the agreement and sue governments and other entities that misuse software covered by the license.

    The Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source Software License Agreement (HESSLA) is designed to prevent governments, corporations and other organizations from using Hacktivismo's applications to censor Internet content or subvert human rights, the group said. The license is based on the open-source concept of transparency but builds in some unique legal provisions designed to make the application's user base a volunteer enforcement army.

    "We tried to create a licensing regime that balanced the transparency of open-source software with protecting the special needs of our end-users, most of whom are living behind national firewalls," said Oxblood Ruffin, founder of Hacktivismo, an offshoot of the well-known Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective. "We've been accused of using the license as a publicity tool, but that's really a cheap shot. Granted it will achieve a certain short-lived notoriety with the press, but we've got our eye focused on the end-game."

    Under the HESSLA, users are free to make changes to applications covered by the license and redistribute them, but the agreement also gives them the right to sue if they find someone using the application for malicious purposes. There is also a provision that dictates if any government uses the software as part of a scheme that violates human rights, the government thereby waives its right to sovereign immunity from prosecution in foreign courts.

    "In other words, if Myanmar or China want to keep violating human rights, then they have no choice but to steer clear of Hacktivismo's software," the group said in its release announcing the user agreement.

    The concept of sovereign immunity essentially protects governments from being sued without their consent.

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