Daily News- Septemebr 30- 2002- Monday

  • Sex slave report rocks Burmese embassy in Pretoria
  • Myanmar blames western nations for ignoring others' backgrounds
  • First internet cafes to open in Myanmar
  • Gesture, not reform, seen from Downer Myanmar trip
  • Isolation won't work with Burma
  • Burma group targets PwC and Kuoni
  • Rockets fired into Thailand from Myanmar
  • 5- year- old Korean boys drum up support for Burmese canoe racers in Busan
  • Burma's Kay Thi Win set weightlifting world records in Asian games

  • Sex slave report rocks Burmese embassy in Pretoria

    Marietie Louw
    source : www.news24.com

    Pretoria - The ambassador at the Myanmar Embassy in Pretoria plans to "take on" the police after a high- level investigation into alleged sex slavery at this embassy was revealed.

    This follows a report in Friday's Mail&Guardian that a "15-year-old girl" had laid charges of sexual molestation and assault. She reportedly said she was sexually and physically assaulted at the embassy of this Southeast Asian country, formerly known as Burma.

    Counsel minister Hla Myint said on Friday that the complainant was ambassador Tin Latt's domestic help.

    Myint showed the woman's passport to Beeld on Friday afternoon. According to the information in it, she was born on August 22, 1982. The details in the passport list her length as 1.25m. Her visa only expires in November this year, and states that she is a domestic worker for the ambassador.

    Myint said the complainant had absconded from the embassy last week. "We went to the Brooklyn police office to report it. The next we heard was when the Eesterust police phoned us to say that she was being taken to the child protection unit."

    He said the embassy was "very shocked" about the course of events. "The complainant is twenty and not 15 years old. She is of very small build and looks like a teenager."

    The report reads that the girl came to South Africa as an 8-year-old. Myint said she came to the country in October last year with the Myanmar ambassador.

    Police suspect she is a minor

    Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht, police spokesperson on international affairs, confirmed on Friday that a high-level investigation was conducted by the unit for domestic violence, child protection and sexual crimes.

    "We do not want to mention the complainant's age, as it is part of the investigation. We have strong suspicion that she is a minor," said Engelbrecht. Martins-Engelbrecht said the girl was currently at a place of safety.

    Professor André Thomashausen, head of Unisa's international law centre, told Beeld on Friday that foreign officials were above the law because of diplomatic immunity. "They cannot be charged and prosecuted for any crime in South Africa," he said. South Africa could only lodge a request that the specific officials be recalled to their land of birth.

    A statement by the department of foreign affairs reads that the charges are regarded as very serious: "As the investigation has not yet been concluded, we cannot say what possible consequences it could hold for South Africa and Myanmar."

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    Myanmar blames western nations for ignoring others' backgrounds

    YANGON, Sept. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar leader General Khin Nyunt has blamed some western nations for ignoring the characteristics of political, economic and social backgrounds of developing countries.

    Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, made the remarks Saturday when meeting with basic education teachers in Pyin Oo Lwin in the country's northernMandalay division, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Sunday.

    "Instead of understanding and providing assistance to the developing nations that are facing historical events, the western countries are demanding continuously that those developing nationspractice their social systems and social norms and putting pressure on them," he said.

    He said the culture, social system and norms and values of big nations, that have superior economy and technology, are penetrating and dominating the developing countries without any hindrance due to advancement of information and communication technology.

    He noted that developing countries like Myanmar are making efforts to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and the other gaps in terms of technology and development among the nations of the world. He attributed the weakening of national solidarity to evil legacy of divide-and-rule policy of the imperialists, saying that time and energy for national development were wasted because therewas no peace and stability in Myanmar for about half a century.

    Despite internal and external hindrance, Myanmar has made some achievements with the help of united strength of its own national forces, he said. He added that in the 21st century, education plays a vital rolein national development, predicting that in the future, high technology will dominate society. He warned that only when the government builds the highly-qualified human resources, will challenges in development be overcome.

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    First internet cafes to open in Myanmar

    YANGON, Sept 29 (AFP) - The first cyber cafes in military-ruled Myanmar are set to open from November, with five slated for the capital and another five for the northern city of Mandalay, according to a media report here.

    Full access to the Internet will not however be permitted, the Myanmar Times reported in its edition to be published Monday.

    "Cafe-goers will have access to Myanmar intranet, email services, enjoy online network games, entertainment such as MP3 music, movies and access to about 1800 websites through Bagan Net," director of sales at Bagan Cybertech, Kyaw Kyaw Moe, was quoted as saying.

    The local Myanmar intranet provides access to a limited number of websites.Bagan Cybertech, a semi-government organisation established last year, is to be the internet service provider (ISP) for the cafes.

    Prior to its establishment, Myanmar's state-owned Post and Telecommunications was the country's only ISP and provided e-mail services only.

    "Later, we hope to provide full internet access in the cyber cafes," Kyaw Kyaw Moe also told the English-language weekly.Currently Internet and e-mail use is strictly limited in Myanmar, where access to all forms of communication is severely restricted.

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    Gesture, not reform, seen from Downer Myanmar trip

    BANGKOK (Reuters) Sept. 30 - Australia's foreign minister travels to Myanmar this week for talks with the ruling generals and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi but diplomats do not expect a major a breakthrough in efforts to promote democracy.

    Alexander Downer's trip, the most senior by a Western politician for many years, is being billed as a fact-finding mission by Australia, which has long taken a more conciliatory approach to Myanmar than the United States or European countries.

    The October 2-3 visit may conclude with a minor bilateral announcement, perhaps on educational programmes or exchanges, and probably a carefully crafted statement from the ruling generals about their commitment to eventual democracy, they say.

    ''We can expect some cosmetic change -- window dressing -- but we can't expect the Australian government to succeed in bringing democratic change in Myanmar when so many others have failed,'' said Min Zin of the Thai-based Irrawaddy magazine, run by exiles.

    Myanmar's opposition has welcomed Downer's visit as an attempt to open dialogue with the military that has ruled the country, formerly known as Burma, for the last four decades. But it is increasingly doubtful that the ruling generals have any intention to move towards democracy and relinquish power.

    Hopes for change were raised in May when Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) was released from 19 months of house arrest. The NLD won Myanmar's last democratic elections in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern. Suu Kyi's release was brokered by United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail, who has said that meaningful talks on the country's political future could begin soon.


    But there have been no talks and even a visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is reported to have close personal ties with some members of the ruling military, failed to produce a breakthrough.

    ''If neither Mahathir and Razali can pull anything off, it is difficult to see anyone else being successful,'' said a Yangon-based Western diplomat.

    Australia is playing down expectations, saying meetings between Downer and Senior General Than Shwe and other members of the ruling State Peace and Development Council should at least produce warmer relations between the two countries. The visit is the first by an Australian government minister to the Southeast Asian nation since 1983.

    ''It is more a sounding out,'' an Australian government spokesman said in Canberra last week.

    Suu Kyi, due to meet Downer on Wednesday, is desperate to begin meaningful talks with the military, NLD sources say. She last week issued a remarkably conciliatory statement to try to woo the military into dialogue and will hope Downer will put additional pressure on the military to talk to her.But her overtures appear to be falling on deaf ears.

    Diplomats say junta leader Than Shwe opposes any move towards democracy now and believes Myanmar can engage the outside world without committing itself to reform. Than Shwe appears to be firmly in control of the country following a trial of members of the family of former dictator Ne Win, which ended last week with death sentences for all four accused on charges of masterminding an attempted coup.

    ''Than Shwe is consolidating his power and wants to slow down any progress towards change, at least for while,'' said Min Zin. ``Outside pressure is not going to make a difference.''

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    Isolation won't work with Burma

    The Australian -Editorial

    WHILE Australia's engagement with Burma has been less intense than that of many other countries, we have, nonetheless, remained in contact with a regime others refuse even to talk to. It is true the junta that overwhelmed the election of the National League for Democracy in 1990 has been consistently authoritarian and often brutal in its treatment of those with opposing political opinions. Aung San Suu Kyi, however, in spite of being under house arrest for much of the past decade, and seeing her democratic movement hobbled by the junta, has taken a similar line to our own Government. She has been ready to parley but without compromise.

    Her high profile has not only gained her the Nobel Peace prize in 1991, but the resolute loyalty of her supporters. Some have even paid the supreme sacrifice for their faith in eventual freedom, losing their lives in the democratic struggle. So it is both appropriate and encouraging that Alexander Downer should be visiting the torchbearer of freedom in Burma, as well as the ruling generals.

    As the first visit by an Australian foreign minister for almost 20 years, it carries real significance. The Government's "limited engagement" policy, much criticised as a form of weakness by diehard critics, leaves a way open for the sort of dialogue that offers some hope of compromise and reconciliation. After all, the isolation of Aung San Suu Kyi has been deleterious to progress, but so has the rejection of any dialogue with the generals. Painted into a corner by their own actions, a more open path offers some hope of accommodation.

    If the junta has often been intransigent, it has also sought to legitimise its position with the ASEAN powers, with some measure of success. After all, these countries have their own fears of instability and disorder, compounded by the threats and complexities of the war against terrorism. The junta has been able to use such fears to justify draconian law and order policies. If the effectiveness of UN interventions are often in question, this is one situation where the UN has been instrumental in forwarding the possibility of reconciliation and the return of real democratic norms. The hopeful signs are the apparent readiness of the ruling Peace and Development Council to embrace talks with the opposition as a signal of the need for change.

    There is a long way to go. It takes some time for the leopard to change its spots, and it is unlikely the generals, having tasted and exercised power for more than a decade, will suddenly embrace reform. Nonetheless, it is in their collective interest to come to terms with the widespread demand for the introduction of real democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi can also act as some sort of guarantee of the generals' own safety, as they are inevitably the targets of future retaliation.

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    Burma group targets PwC and Kuoni

    The Guardian
    By Terry Macalister

    Human rights campaigners, fresh from their apparent success in forcing Premier Oil to withdraw from Burma, are targeting accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Kuoni Travel.

    The Burma Campaign said these were two of a number of companies that would be put on a "dirty list" to be published this autumn as part of a wider campaign against those who do business with the military- run country.

    PwC is said by the Burma Campaign to be offering advice through a local accountancy firm to companies setting up in Burma. The accountancy group does not have a subsidiary in the country but activists believe the work it does encourages links with Burma. The company said last night that it would "look into these claims" but could make no further comment.

    Kuoni is based in Switzerland and has holiday business interests in Britain including Kuoni Travel in Dorking, plus House of Specialists and Voyages Jules Verne in London. It also controls Alp Air Holdings in Jersey but its main involvement in Burma comes through a Pandaw and Pagodas cruise operation it runs to Rangoon and Mandalay.

    The Burma Campaign said it had called on Kuoni to halt its connections with the country but the company denied it had received any such correspondence. "If they do contact us we will listen to what they have to say," a Kuoni spokeswoman said. "We have operated there for a number of years but we do not push it or promote it as a destination."

    Mark Farmaner, a spokesman for the Burma Campaign in Britain, said he was confident of bringing Kuoni out of Burma. "So far we have a 100% success rate with our campaigns."

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    Rockets fired into Thailand from Myanmar

    MAE SOT, Thailand, Sept 30 (AFP) - Several rockets were fired into Thailand from Myanmar, injuring at least one Thai villager and forcing the evacuation of homes and temples, police and rebel sources said Monday.

    The shells were fired into Ban Mae Kokine village in western Tak province around 9:30 pm (1430 GMT) Sunday, leaving one man injured by shrapnel and damaging seven houses, a border police officer told AFP.

    The officer said the attack was likely a salvo from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a militant group aligned with Myanmar's ruling military junta, aimed at intimidating Thai forces who had been firing on drug smugglers.

    "We were monitoring the situation on drugs and then we met up with some members of a drug gang. We exchange fire for 10 minutes before heavy fire from the DKBA with rockets and bullets went on to the Thai side," he said."Drug smugglers know that we have teams hiding near the border waiting to make drug arrests, so they ask for help from the DKBA to fire into Thailand to make Thai officials run out the area," he added.

    However, a spokesman for the Karen National Union (KNU), which regularly clashes with Myanmar troops in the area, said government forces had fired the shells during a battle with the ethnic army.KNU secretary Mahn Nyine Maung said they engaged in a 20-minute firefight with Myanmar troops before the Thai village was attacked. One government soldier was killed during the confrontation, he said.

    "Usually when the Burmese and Karen fight, the Burmese soldiers open fire on the Thai side," he said, adding that this was designed to create misunderstandings between Thai authorities and ethnic groups.

    Thai border task force commander Colonel Saksin Klansanoh said some 60 Thai army commandos secured the area and continued to patrol there on Monday.Around 130 villagers and monks were evacuated from their homes and temples Sunday but were allowed to return to their homes early Monday under army protection.

    The shelling came less than a week after Myanmar's Foreign Minister Win Aung made a high-profile visit to Thailand aimed at restoring ties which had deteriorated badly following deadly May border clashes and rocket attacks.Win Aung and his Thai counterpart Surakiart Sathirathai said they held friendly and productive talks, but they failed to set a date for the reopening of border checkpoints which have been slammed shut since May.The ministers said they discussed the drafting of "ground rules" on border issues including how to minimise drug trafficking.

    Sunet Jangkla, a captain in the Thai army's border taskforce, said the downgraded ties between the countries had prevented authorities from lodging a protest over Sunday's incursions."Thailand has not submitted the protest letter yet because we can not make contact with Myanmar," he said.

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    5- year- old Korean boys drum up support for Burmese canoe racers in Busan

    BUSAN, South Korea (AP)- - Burma, a poor nation that sent a handful of athletes but no fans to the Asian Games, received unexpected encouragement Monday from a group of 5-year-old orphans playing traditional Korean music.

    With sweat flowing down their brows, the 40 children vigorously hammered away on their jing and jango, or gongs and drums, to spur on the Burma's canoeing team as it practiced at the Nakdong River.

    "I don't know where Myanmar is. People of Myanmar who live far from Busan can't come to cheer for their players, so I do this instead of them," said Kim Jong-seok.

    The children, from the Youngsun Orphanage in Busan, have performed on jing and jango at various regional festivals.

    They were drafted as stand-in supporters by Park Su-hwan, chief of the Busan Western Probation Office, who was impressed by their performance while visiting the orphanage.

    "I hope there will be an interrelationship between the kids and the players from Myanmar," said Park.

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    Burma's Kay Thi Win set weightlifting world records in Asian games

    BUSAN, South Korea (AP / AFP)- - Chinese weightlifter Li Zhuo and Burma's Kay Thi Win both tied world records for snatch and total lift in the women's 48-kilogram division Monday at the Asian Games.

    Li won the gold on the basis of lighter body weight after both she and Kay Thi Win lifted a total of 200 kilograms 90 in the snatch and 110 in the clean and jerk on the first day of the games' weightlifting competition.

    China's Wang Mingjuan, who is not competing in Busan, set the records of 90 for the snatch and 200 in total on June 1.

    Indonesia's Raema Lisa Rumbewas took the bronze medal with a total of 195 / 85 in snatch and 110 in clean and jerk.

    Li and Kay Thi Win both reached 90 on their third and final attempt in the snatch. In their final tries in the clean and jerk, Li failed at 115.5 and the Burmese and Indonesian lifters at 115.

    Li holds the world record of 115 in the clean and jerk.

    According to latest report China's Li Zhuo won the first gold medal in women's weightlifting on Monday, edging Kay Thi Win of Burma on lower body weight.Li lifted a total of 200kg to match her own world record and squeeze out Kay Thi Win by virtue of being 0.25kg lighter.
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