Daily News- October 17- 2002- Thursday

  • Suu Kyi wraps up political trip to northern Myanmar
  • Thai-Myanmar border shocked after 6 bombs found after reopening
  • China donates opium-substitute crop seeds to Myanmar
  • Burma rejects Human Rights Watch report on child soldiers
  • Myanmar leader calls for efforts to achieve food sufficiency
  • Empty Rice Bowl in Burma

  • Suu Kyi wraps up political trip to northern Myanmar

    YANGON, Oct 16 (AFP) - Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's latest political trip to the country's north has been extremely successful, her party said Wednesday as the journey drew to a close.

    The Nobel peace laureate departed Monday on the four-day trip to the town of Pyay in Pago division, some 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Yangon, which took in many towns and settlements along the way.

    The journey, one of several taken since she was freed from house arrest in May with permission to travel the country freely, had been "very successful and informative", an NLD official told AFP.

    On Tuesday Aung San Suu Kyi visited Padaung, a town about 20 kilometres (13 miles) from Pyay and after meeting with party members there she journeyed on to a government dam project, he said.

    The party leader and her entourage returned to Pyay where she spoke to some 500 supporters from the town."She spoke words of encouragement and expressed her feeling of sympathy for the problems they continue to face with regard to shortages in electricity and high commodity prices," the party official said."These problems will be solved if we all work together," she was quoted as telling the gathering.

    On Wednesday she left Pyay to visit a government irrigation project in nearby Shwe-Daung and visit the NLD office there where more than 200 supporters had gathered to greet her.

    The group, which includes NLD vice chairman Tin Oo and 15 members of the party's youth wing, will spend the night at the town of Nat-ta-lin before heading for Yangon on Thursday, he said.

    Myanmar's military government repeatedly blocked Aung San Suu Kyi's attempts to travel outside Yangon until a stand-off over a planned trip to the northern city of Mandalay resulted in the opposition leader being placed under house arrest for 19 months.The latest trip is taking place ahead of a visit by UN human rights envoy to Myanmar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro who is due to arrive on Thursday.

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    Thai-Myanmar border shocked after 6 bombs found after reopening

    BANGKOK, Oct. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Security was beefed up on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border after six bombs were found planted in and around the Myanmar's town of Myawaddy, opposite to Tak province and 450 kilometers west of Bangkok, within 36 hours of Rangoon reopening its checkpoints.

    According to the Bangkok Post Thursday, no injury was reported after three of the bombs exploded, while the remaining three were discovered and disarmed before they could be detonated.

    Wittaya Ruangmaneeya, chief of the Thai-Myanmar Cooperation Office, said Myanmar authorities had warned of possible sabotage attacks by parties adversely affected by the border reopening.

    The first bomb exploded at noon on Tuesday, the day checkpointswere reopened, about two kilometers from the border, while a second bomb at this site was discovered and disarmed before it could be detonated. The second blast was reported Wednesday at 6:30 a.m., near the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge. A second bomb near the bridge, butalso close to a school, was disarmed. The third bomb to explode went off at about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday.

    After the explosions, Thailand's 23rd Infantry Regiment Task Force was put on high alert as a precaution. Meanwhile, Mae Sai checkpoint in Chiang Rai province, 900 kilometers north of Bangkok, was also warned of possible attacks.

    Myanmar blames rebels for explosions

    YANGON (Kyodo News)- Myanmar's junta put the blame Thursday on Kayin National Union (KNU) rebels for two bomb blasts in and near the border town Myawaddy, 240 kilometers east of Yangon, on Tuesday.

    Two bombs exploded in Myawaddy, one at 6 a.m. and another at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday in the town, which is directly across the border from the Thai town Maesot. There were no casualties and no damage from the blasts, state-run newspapers said.

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    China donates opium-substitute crop seeds to Myanmar


    China has donated agricultural crop seeds to the authorities of Kokang,Shan State Special Region-1ofMyanmar,to help substitute for the region's poppy cultivation under the Myanmar-China drug control program.

    According to a report of Myanmar's Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control available in Yangon Thursday,the donation,made by the National Narcotic Control Committee (NNCC)of China on Tuesday in Laukkai of Kokang region,included 11tons of potato,600kilograms of China lablab bean and 400kilograms of green peas.

    Attending the donation ceremony were NNCC Deputy Secretary-General Wan Gan and Deputy Director-General of the Myanmar Police Force Brigadier-General Zaw Win.

    According to the report,the NNCC has also conducted short-term courses on agricultural methods two times for farmers in the region.

    Since the 1990s,China has strengthened effective cooperation with Myanmar,and through labor force,capital and technical assistance,it helped Myanmar grow agricultural and economic cropsto replace poppy in northern Myanmar,pushing the socio-economic development of the region.

    According to incomplete statistics,China's Yunnan Province has injected more than 300million yuan,cultivating 25,000hectares of various opium-substitute crops in northern Myanmar and sending experts to the area to have trained nearly 1,000Myanmar agricultural technicians.

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    Burma rejects Human Rights Watch report on child soldiers

    Source : AFP

    Burma's military regime rejected a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report which estimated that more than a fifth of the soldiers serving in its national army could be children under the age of 18.

    The report released Tuesday by the US-based watchdog found that children as young as 11 were being forcibly recruited into the army where they were made to participate in human rights abuses.

    "The government of Myanmar refutes the claims made by the HRW and furthermore finds it very difficult to understand on what basis it is making such claims saying that 20 percent of the national army is made up with underage (people)," the junta said in a brief statement on Thursday.

    The report claims to be the most comprehensive study of its kind and drew on interviews with more than three dozen current and former child soldiers.

    According to the investigation, army recruiters focus on boys at train and bus stations and markets, threatening them with jail if they fail to join.

    The boys are given no opportunity to contact their families, and are sent to camps where they undergo weapons training and are routinely beaten and brutally punished if they try to escape.

    Burma's army has doubled in size since 1988, and with an estimated 350,000 soldiers, it is now one of the largest in Southeast Asia.

    Human Rights Watch said estimates put the number of conscripts under the age of 18 at more than 70,000.

    The rejection of the report comes ahead of the arrival here Thursday of UN rights envoy Paulo Sergion Pinheiro who will spend two weeks here.

    During his visit, Pinheiro has been asked to investigate allegations made in another recent report, which found that the military used rape as a weapon of war against the Shan ethnic minority.

    Burma's government has repeatedly denied the rape allegations contained in a study released by two Thai-based Shan rights organisations in July.

    The investigation, which drew international outrage, detailed the sexual assault of 625 girls and women, mostly between 1996 and 2001.

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    Myanmar leader calls for efforts to achieve food sufficiency

    YANGON, Oct 16, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar leader General Khin Nyunt Wednesday called for efforts to bring about food sufficiency, saying that it is the most basic requirement for the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous world. Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, made the call at a ceremony here marking the World Food Day.

    Despite the rise in the global food production resulting from the attention given by the majority of nations to secure food sufficiency under the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), over 800 million people are still suffering from hunger and malnutrition, he said.Khin Nyunt stressed the need for all developed and developing nations to strive hand in hand to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and to bridge the technical divide confronted by a large number of the world nations for the emergence of a peaceful and pleasant earth for the entire mankind.

    "Only when we all make collective efforts to keep the planet free from undesirable situation such as environmental deterioration, terrorism, wars and racial discrimination, and build a peaceful and pleasant world, will the entire mankind be able to enjoy all the social happinesses including sufficient food, clothing and shelter needs with peace of mind," the Myanmar leader said.

    With regard to Myanmar, he said his country possesses a favorable climate, rich soil and water resources and is in a position to fulfill food requirements of the country and in the region.

    He said that 65 percent of Myanmar's 52-million population rely their living on the agriculture, forestry and livestock and fishery sectors, and that the country's agricultural growth has contributed 48 percent of the gross domestic product with 18.3 percent in the export sector.

    He also said that of the 45 million acres (18.225 million hectares) of the nation's cultivable land, 25 million acres (10.12 million hectares) has been put under crops.

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    Empty Rice Bowl in Burma

    Source : Far Eastern Economic Review

    Tens of thousands of hectares of Burma's rice crop have been wiped out by flooding this year and the consequences could be severe. Bangkok-based Western diplomats say the flooding losses will mean big shortages and higher prices in a country where the cost of rice has historically been a barometer of social stability.

    In an effort to keep urban rice prices low, Burma's military government requires rice farmers to hand over a certain proportion of their expected yields to the government each year.

    In recent weeks, though, government collectors have often been returning from their rural rounds empty-handed, say the diplomats. A steep climb in rice prices in 1988 set the stage for the street protests that ended in a bloody military crackdown.

    The diplomats believe this year's shortages will start to bite by January.

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