Daily News- October 14- 2002- Monday

  • Thaksin keen on mediating role
  • Opposition leader Suu Kyi makes political trip to northern Myanmar
  • Burma denies U.S. charges on religious freedom
  • Text of EU declaration on the recent arrests in Burma

  • Thaksin keen on mediating role

    The Bangkokpost
    Wassana Nanuam

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has delegated 12 lines of responsibility regarding bilateral cooperation with Burma to eight ministries and an anti-drugs agency.The move means the Foreign, Defence, Interior, Transport, Agriculture and Cooperatives, Commerce, Labour, and Public Health ministries, and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, have to closely work with Burmese authorities on 12 aspects.

    These include military leaders visiting each others' countries, drug suppression, trade and agriculture, fisheries, immigrant labour employment, deportation of Burmese refugees, transport route development, tourism, imports and exports, border disputes, crime and efforts to resolve Burma's internal problems.Mr Thaksin will deal with Burma's internal situation and promoting tourism between the two countries.

    A source said Mr Thaksin wanted to play a mediating role for Burma, and was keen to push for the formation of a national reconciliation government between the State Peace and Development Council and leaders of all minority groups, including National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in a bid to create peace there.

    Mr Thaksin raised the national reconciliation government proposal with Gen Maung Aye, deputy chairman of Burma's ruling SPDC, during his visit to Thailand in April.The prime minister has instructed the Foreign and Defence ministries to coordinate with Burmese authorities on reconciliation.

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    Opposition leader Suu Kyi makes political trip to northern Myanmar

    YANGON, Oct 14 (AFP) - Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi departed Monday for a four-day political trip outside the capital Yangon as she continued to exercise her newly-won right to travel freely around the country.

    The Nobel peace laureate was en route to the town of Pyay in Pago division, some 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Yangon, sources from her National League for Democracy (NLD) told AFP.

    "She is presently heading for Min Hla which is around midway between Yangon and Pyay where she will break the journey for lunch," the NLD official said."The trip is basically party-related during which she will naturally take the opportunity to meet the local people and receive feedback on their living conditions," he said.

    Escorted by NLD vice chairman Tin Oo and 15 members of the party's youth wing, she will spend the night in a town along the way before arriving in Pyay on Tuesday morning.

    Aung San Suu Kyi's first attempt to travel to Min Hla in July 1998 was aborted when military authorities stopped her before she could cross the state line and she was forced to head back home.Similar attempts to travel outside of Yangon were also thwarted until a stand-off over a planned trip to the northern city of Mandalay resulted in the opposition leader being placed under house arrest.

    She was freed in May after spending 19 months confined to her lakeside home, on the understanding she would be free to travel around the country on party business.Since then she has made several extended trips and others to outlying districts of the capital.

    The latest four-day trip is taking place ahead of a visit by UN human rights envoy to Myanmar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro who is expected to arrive on October 17.

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    Burma denies U.S. charges on religious freedom

    Rangoon (AP) - Burma's military government on Monday dismissed as politically motivated U.S. allegations that it restricts religious freedom.

    The Foreign Ministry claimed some information in the U.S. State Department's annual International Religious Freedom Report "came from insurgent groups or unscrupulous persons with the aim of damaging the image of Myanmar."

    Burma was classified along with five other countries the report said were guilty of totalitarian or authoritarian attempts to control religious belief or practice. The others were China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam.

    "This classification does not in any way represent the true situation in the country," the ministry said in a press release.

    The report, issued last week, said that people can worship officially recognized religions as they please in Burma, but that the government infiltrates or monitors virtually all organizations, including religious ones, and discriminates against minorities.

    "It systematically has restricted efforts by Buddhist clergy to promote human rights and political freedom, has discouraged or prohibited minority religions from constructing new places of worship, and, in some ethnic minority areas, has coercively promoted Buddhism over other religions," the report said.

    Denying all these charges, the Foreign Ministry said the allegations "are groundless and they must be considered as being politically motivated and represent an attempt to exert pressure and interfere in the internal affairs of the country."

    Burma is a predominantly Buddhist country, but it also has Muslim, Christian and Hindu minorities. The military has ruled the country since 1962 and has faced tough criticism from the United States and other Western countries for its poor human rights record and ignoring its defeat in a democratic election in 1990.

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    Text of EU declaration on the recent arrests in Burma

    Source : http://ue.eu.int/Newsroom

    Brussel (11 Oct 2002)--The European Union notes with grave concern the reports of recent politically motivated detentionsand arrests in Burma/Myanmar, including the detention of several students in August and, most recently, of 30 people in the last week of September.

    The European Union, along with the members of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, has repeatedly called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma/Myanmar.

    The European Union has welcomed the release of over 300 political prisoners in the past 18 months. However this modest progress is undermined by the completely unjustified resumption of politically motivated detentions and arrests.

    The European Union calls on the authorities of Burma/Myanmar to immediately cease the arrest and detention of people on political grounds. The European Union also calls upon the authorities in Burma/Myanmar to take advantage of the forthcoming visits by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the United Nations Secretary-Generalís Special Envoy to make urgent progress towards the promotion of national reconciliation, respect for human rights and the return of democracy.

    The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union, the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

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