Daily News- October 25- 2002- Friday

  • Myanmar opposition's proxy parliament expands ranks
  • Myanmar calls for strengthening UN
  • UN rights envoy visits Myanmar regional police, court officials
  • ILO, Myanmar in discussion over high-level mission
  • Shan Leader Sentenced while Sick

  • Myanmar opposition's proxy parliament expands ranks

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - In a move that may test the tolerance of Myanmar's military regime, the country's pro-democracy movement said Thursday it is enlarging its self-proclaimed surrogate parliament - an assembly the government considers illegal.

    The Committee Representing People's Parliament, or CRPP, was established Sept. 16, 1998, by the opposition National League for Democracy party and other activists. The military reacted harshly, detaining dozens of would-be members of the proxy legislature.

    The National League for Democracy, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, swept a 1990 general election but was not allowed to take power. The opposition party said in 1998 that the CRPP would perform the functions of a legislature until a formal parliament is convened, but its activities have been limited to low-profile meetings. The military has not set a date for opening a parliament.

    The CRPP said its members met Wednesday and decided to expand the group's membership from 10 to 13, giving more representation to ethnic minorities.

    Aye Tha Aung, who formerly represented four ethnic political parties, would now represent just his own, the Arakan League for Democracy, the CCRP said in a statement. The new members represent the Mon, Shan and Zomi ethnic groups, the statement said.

    Aye Tha Aung was detained in April 2000 and given a 21-year prison sentence, but he suffers from liver cancer and was released from prison in August on humanitarian grounds.

    Suu Kyi and the ruling junta have been holding closed-door political reconciliation talks since late 2000, but with little apparent progress aside from the release of several hundred political prisoners. More than 1,000 more are believed to remain in detention. Suu Kyi was released from 19 months of house arrest in May.

    To The Top

    Myanmar calls for strengthening UN

    YANGON, Oct 24, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar leader General Khin Nyunt Thursday evening called for strengthening of the United Nations so the world body is able to tackle the problems being faced by mankind in the 21st century.Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), made the call at a ceremony here marking the 57th UN Day.

    Due to the challenges being faced by mankind today, the international community has unanimously acknowledged that the relevancy of the United Nations is greater than ever, he said, describing the world body as a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and in the search for the solutions of international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.

    "It is the first and foremost duty of all the member states to ensure that the U.N. never deviates from these time-tested principles in order to protect and promote the common interest of all member states, big or small, rich or poor, powerful or weak," he stressed.

    Khin Nyunt warned that the development gap between the industrialized and developing countries has continued to widen and the number of people living in poverty has not diminished.He emphasized that it is imperative that poverty alleviation efforts by the U.N. be given unstinting support by the international community.

    At the ceremony, a message from Myanmar SPDC Chairman Senior- General Than Shwe, read by Foreign Minister U Win Aung, called on all members of the international community to tackle the global problems together in a family spirit.

    "The problems facing humanity consist of both man-made and natural problems," he said, pointing out that "many of the problems are closely intertwined and the solution of one requires simultaneous solution of another or others with a comprehensive approach and coordinated strategy."

    On pursuit of development goals, he said, the most fundamental prerequisite is peace -- peace within countries, peace between neighbors and peace among all.

    He stressed the need for every country to respect and strictly abide by the principles on friendly relations between countries enshrined in the UN Charter and International Law, in one's relations with others in order to firmly root the foundation of peace.Myanmar became the 58th UN member when it joined the organization on April 19, 1948.

    To The Top

    UN rights envoy visits Myanmar regional police, court officials

    YANGON, Oct 24 (AFP) - UN human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro visited officials at a regional police station and law court Thursday as part of his ongoing fact-finding mission to Myanmar, according to an official source.

    Pinheiro, who arrived in Yangon last Thursday to assess the overall human rights situation, is currently on a three-day visit from the capital to Karen and Mon states in the southeast of the country.

    On Wednesday he met with Christian and Buddhist leaders in Karen state's Kyar-inn-seikkyi, and travelled to Tha-ma-nya-sayadaw, where he called on a highly-revered Buddhist monk of the same name.

    Pinheiro held talks with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday, after which he said prospects for a long-running dialogue on national reconciliation in Myanmar were good."The prospect of dialogue is good. I do not want to elaborate on it. In fact, I have to keep everything confidential," he told reporters after their meeting.

    Talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's ruling military junta began in October 2000, but they are widely believed to have stalled, having not even progressed beyond a confidence-building stage.

    During his 11-day visit here, Pinheiro has also held discussions with leading members of the ruling junta including military intelligence chief General Khin Nyunt and Foreign Minister Win Aung.

    While outside Yangon, the Brazilian academic is also expected to visit Mawlamyine, the Mon state capital. He is likely to meet with veteran and elderly politicians being held in the jail there, according to Mon political sources.

    International concern has been regularly raised over elderly and sick prisoners failing to receive appropriate medical treatment while in Myanmar's jails.

    The junta originally invited Pinheiro to travel to northeastern Shan state, to investigate a report by two Shan women's groups based in Thailand who had alleged that the military used rape as a weapon of war.But Pinheiro cancelled the planned three-day trip, saying it was not possible to do enough fact-finding within the short period.The envoy is due to return to Yangon Friday, and is scheduled to depart Myanmar on October 28.

    To The Top

    ILO, Myanmar in discussion over high-level mission

    YANGON, Oct 24 (AFP) - The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said Thursday it was in talks with Myanmar's junta over sending a high-level mission to the country to implement programs aimed at eliminating forced labour.

    "What has happened is there has been discussion between the ILO and the government of Myanmar on the possibility of sending a high-level mission to Myanmar, but these discussions have not yet concluded," the ILO's liaison officer in Yangon, Hong-Trang Perret-Nguyen, told AFP.

    Myanmar is widely condemned by the international community for its use of forced labour. A 1998 ILO inquiry found the practice was "widespread and systematic" and targeted ethnic minorities living in border regions.

    "There is a possibility that a mission would take place but the dates and the agenda of the mission are not finalised," Perret-Nguyen added."The subject of the mission, or what the ILO has in mind, is a discussion or finalisation of some plan of action or program to implement the decisions of the government of Myanmar to eliminate forced labour."

    An earlier statement issued by the military inferred that the mission had already arrived, but a government official told AFP Thursday that they had merely agreed to an ILO proposal for a mission.

    "The main thing is that we agreed to their visit," he said, adding that they were now deciding on a date.Perret-Nguyen told the Myanmar Times this week that while the government had taken important steps to eradicate forced labour, more needed to be done.

    "Some very important steps have been taken by the government, in terms of issuing orders, instructions and circulars, but those circulars and orders have to be complemented and supplemented by more specific instructions and then they have to be implemented," she told the semi-official weekly newspaper.

    To The Top

    Shan Leader Sentenced while Sick

    By The Irrawaddy

    October 23, 2002-Despite obvious liver and kidney problems, a Shan politician, U Saw Nan Di, was yesterday sentenced to seven years imprisonment. His merciless sentence occurs just two weeks after fellow inmate U Sai Phat, vice chairman of the Shan State National League for Democracy (NLD) died in custody, sources said.

    U Saw Nan Di, 67, who was chairman of the organizing committee of the NLD in Shan State, was sentenced to seven years under section 5/j of the Emergency Provisions Act and six months under section 33 of the Drug Special Act in Kengtung, Shan State, a close relative said.

    "Before he was sentenced in court, he had been sent to a local hospital from the prison because he suffered from dizziness," the relative said. "The physician says he was suffering from liver and kidney diseases."

    U Saw Nan Di and U Sai Phat were arrested on Sept 13 and charged under section 5/j because of their active participation in the NLD’s organizational work.

    After being detained for one month, U Sai Phat, vice-chairman of the Shan State NLD, died on Oct 9. He was said to have died from cerebral malaria.

    This information on the sentencing of U Saw Nan Di was broadcast on Radio Free Asia [Burmese Service].

    To The Top