A Letter of Response to the Foreign Correspondent Programme, ABC Television(221, Pacific Highway, Gore Hill, NSW 2065) Telecast on 20th June, 2001( 2130 hrs) by the Ambassador of Myanmar Embassy in Canberra, Australia

The Production Manager
Foreign Correspondent Programme
ABC Television
221, Pacific Highway
Gore Hill, NSW 2065

Date: 21 June, 2001

Dear Sir,

It has come to my attention that last night, on the evening of Wednesday 20th June, the Foreign Correspondent program of ABC Television carried some comments and clandestine video footage about scenes that were supposedly taken in the border area of Myanmar, and passed on to ABC TV by narcotics traffickers and their supporters.

At first, I had thought that the presentation may be balanced, giving both sides of a story- what Australians describe as ? a fair go?. But from the outset it became immediately evident that it is no more than a propaganda campaign aimed at championing the lost cause of insurgents and drug smugglers. I find it most unfortunate that ABC TV has allowed itself to be tricked and made to believe the narcotics terrorists, and to swallow their disinformation, hook, line and sinker. What I find to be most objectionable are the wild and vindictive accusations without any foundation whatsoever, that individuals in our country?s leadership, such as the Secretary One of the State Peace and Development Council is somehow involved in the despicable activities of the insurgents and drug traffickers. On the contrary, he is in the forefront, together with the rest of our leadership, in the unending fight to rid the country and the world of the drug menace?developing the border areas to educate and wean away those who previously had planted illegal drugs; building infrastructure where none had existed before, such as roads, railroads and bridges; constructing schools and hospitals to uplift the livelihood of the populace. The list goes on, accomplished with great personal effort and sincerity.

For the Foreign Correspondent to wildly accuse such a person of improprieties does a great disservice to our country, the truthfulness and credibility of your reporting, and indeed to the very cooperation that exists between Myanmar and Australia to rid the world of narcotic drugs.

To begin with, the narcotics smugglers that the Foreign Correspondent chooses to champion are none other than the small and insignificant remnants of drug dealing insurgents, the vast majority of whom have in the recent past ceased their illegal activities and have surrendered to the authorities. This is an undeniable fact that has been admitted even by these small remnants themselves.

Another indisputable fact that is accepted by the international media is that Myanmar does not produce precursor chemicals essential for the refinement of opium into heroin. Yet the Foreign Correspondent unwittingly protects the identity of outsiders who smuggle these chemicals illegally into our country.He does this by not choosing to offend the hosts by not asking a simple yet impolite question as to how such illegal products are allowed to be smuggled into Myanmar. The same goes for the raw materials necessary for the illegal manufacture of amphetamines. It follows that those who sow the wind must necessarily reap the consequences.

But now these drug traffickers claim that from being narcotic bandits, they have immediately and suddenly become some type of freedom fighters. That begs the question; if they no longer deal in drugs, then with what did they buy their new and modern weapons, and abundant ammunitions and supplies? Even those in some quarters of the western media who are critical of us have stated openly and on various TV programs shown internationally and here in Australia, that they do not believe the outlandish claims of the drug dealing insurgents.

A question also arises as to why the Foreign Correspondent did not check into the authenticity of the video footage shown. It is obvious that mock attacks and explosions were staged and then passed on to the Foreign Correspondent as the genuine article. As for the narcotics ?found?, even a child can guess where narcotic traffickers can readily obtain drugs to plant and then ?discover? and ? show as evidence? on video. By the Foreign Correspondent?s own admission, he has acknowledged that the so-called SSA Yawd Serk and his unholy group are ?drug runners turned drug fighters?, but found it impolite to dispute Yawd Serk?s claim that ?he no longer runs drugs?. Sounds like the fox can be trusted with the keys to the chicken coop.

The video concocted by the drug runners went to the disgusting extreme of showing a supposedly ?dead? body dug up after being buried for some time. It is unbelievable that a long dead body can be so fresh and clean after being exhumed . It almost seems that the so-called dead body is that of a person pretending to be ?dead?. Very much different from the decayed bodies and bones we often see on television where dead bodies are exhumed in other parts of the world. The point is that interviews with insurgents, their families and relatives will naturally yield unproven anti-government allegations which the Foreign Correspondent unfortunately takes to be the gospel truth. The same goes for the comments of one Bertil Litner who long ago had illegally crossed into Myanmar, lived with and assisted the insurgents in their destructive activities, and harboured vindictive views of the Myanmar authorities.

In sum, one wonders if the true intent of the presentation is to provoke misunderstanding among two neighbouring countries. If not, why is it that the program is aired at the very time that the Prime Minister of Thailand is leading an official goodwill delegation on a friendly visit to the Union of Myanmar? For your information I am attaching a copy of the Joint Communique which was issued at the conclusion of the successful visit. It certainly reveals a very different picture than the one fabricated by the Foreign Correspondent.

Finally, we have stated before and we clarify again that our security forces have sacrificed life and limb, and have suffered thousands of casualties in dead and wounded in their fight to help eradicate the menace of narcotic drugs. To accuse them of dealing in drugs after many of them have made the supreme sacrifice, is to mock the memory of those who have died so that your Foreign Correspondent and his children may enjoy a drug free world.

Yours sincerely,

U Aye
Myanmar Embassy
Canberra, Australia

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