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BurmaNet News December 1, 1995

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The BurmaNet News: December 1, 1995
Issue #292

Noted in Passing:

	I am a Gurkha and loyal to the people of Burma, but I cannot 
	be loyal to a government that punishes those who are honest. 
	My family and I have nothing, but I am free. My freedom makes 
	me a very rich man. - Dilip Kumar, Burmese Army Sergeant 
	who defected.  (see BKK POST: BURMESE EMBASSY 


TENSIONS RISE November 29, 1995

SANTA MONICA, CA.--NOV. 29--  The Santa Monica (CA) City Council voted
unanimously last night to prohibit city contracts with companies doing
business in the Southeast Asian nation of Burma, where a military junta
continues to thwart Burmese aspirations for democracy.

The move was seen as a slap in the face of Los Angeles-based oil
giant Unocal, which had lobbied against the measure.  Some Unocal
executives and employees live in Santa Monica, and the city has contracts
to buy Unocal gasoline.  Unocal is a partner with  Burma's State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) in a highly controversial $1 billion natural gas
project that has resulted in forced labor, forced relocation, and numerous
other human rights violations. In a unanimous 6-0 vote, Santa Monica (pop.
86,000) becomes the third U.S. city this year to impose tough "selective
contracting" laws against Burma. The laws are modeled on those used successfully 
during the campaign against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980's.  The other
cities are Berkeley (CA) and Madison (WI).

"These laws hit companies like Unocal, Texaco, Pepsico and Arco
where it hurts, right in the wallet" says Simon Billenness, senior
analyst at Franklin Research and Development in Boston.   "During the next
year we expect similar legislation to be introduced in several states and
major cities in the U.S., as well as Canada, Great Britain and Japan.

Santa Monica's move was well-timed:  In Burma, the pro-democracy
party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi this week announced a boycott of
the SLORC's national convention process, which is widely denounced as a
sham.  The SLORC has jailed several dissidents, and issued threats against
anyone criticizing the convention.  Amnesty International fears that recent
detainees face torture, which is endemic in the SLORC's prison system.

"This action in Santa Monica is a precious gift to Aung San Suu
Kyi and the Burma democracy movement" says Ko Latt, a refugee and torture
victim from Burma.  "It shows that the world is watching, and that people
care about the restoration of human rights and dignity in my country."

Several multinationals, including Levi Strauss, Eddie Bauer,
Macy's and Amoco have withdrawn from Burma.  Reports from Human Rights Watch
Asia and refugees escaping to the Thai-Burma border detail systematic use
rape, torture and murder in the Unocal pipeline area.  Unocal responds with
blanket denials, but refuses to provide access to the area to independent human
rights monitors.

The City Council members took a close look at a situation that is often ignored, a
nd were highly critical of the companies propping up the SLORC.  "I hope that 
Santa Monica can be an example to other cities" says Council member Ken Genser.  
"We should avoid the products of these companies in our daily lives as well."

For her part, Aung San Suu Kyi this week said that under current
circumstances in Burma, companies wishing to do business in Burma "should
jolly well wait."

The Santa Monica meeting was attended by representatives from
Amnesty International, the Burma Forum, the Los Angeles Campaign for a Free
Burma, the UCLA Student Environmental Coalition, the Karen National Union and
the All Burma Students Democratic Front.


November 30, 1995

A  veteran Burmese editor and his wife were arrested at 
their home in the outskirts of Bangkok yesterday morning. 
Source said 71-year-old U Ye Gaung and his wife, Daw Khin 
Hlaing, 65, were taken away  by Special Branch Police from 
their apartment a.m. Also arrested was their son, 28, said 
to have been visiting his ailing mother at the time of the 
police raid.The Burmese editor is an illegal alien who 
arrived in Bangkok from a Karen-held area in 1991, and was 
then granted refugee status by the United Nations. But he soon 
lost his refugee status and the allowance that goes with it 
after he refused to enter a safe camp established by the 
Thai Government in Ratchaburi.

U Ye Gaung is a former editor of several magazines and 
newspapers in Rangoon. A journalist for 40 years, he 
presently helps edit the New Era Journal, a bi-monthly 
opposition newspaper. 

November 29, 1995) added: 

Burmese dissidents said Thai police were arresting Burmese opposition
figures in Bangkok to prevent them from protesting against the convention. 

    The crackdown was also being launched ahead of a visit by Burmese
military officials to Thailand next month to participate in an Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting and summit. 

    ``For the moment we are living in the state of fear because of the
reports that the Thai authorities are beginning their crackdown on the
opposition movement in Thailand,'' said a senior Burmese dissident, who
declined to be identified. 

    Thousands of Burmese dissident students and politicians escaped military
suppression after bloody protests against military rule in 1988 and sought
refuge in the jungles or in Thailand. 

    Many of them continue their underground activities against Rangoon from
border hideouts or from Bangkok. 


November 28, 1995

This morning, Khit Pyaing (New Era journal's press) was raided by
the Thai police, and a Veteran journalist U Ye Khaung (71) and his
wife (65) were arrested. This journal has been run since 1991
based on the Thai-Burma border. This journal is very unhappy to
SLORC and any people who reading this journal are sure to be
arrested and sentenced to jail if he was found with it inside
Burma. It might be preventive measure to crackdown the Burmese
opposition group by Thai authorities before Slorc Gen. Than Shwe
and Khin Nyunt arrive to BKK. Yesterday, 9 Burmese students were
also arrested by the Thai police.


November 30, 1995

About 15 Burmese protesting in front of the Burmese 
Embassy on Sathorn Road were rounded up by Yan Nawa police 
for questioning yesterday. The protesters, led by Maung 
Pein, demanded that the ruling State Law and Order 
Restoration Council free all Burmese students detained in 
prisons; hold talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi 
to promote peace and democratic rule; call off the drafting 
of a constitution; and call for a truly democratic constitution.

A police officer said those found to be Burmese aliens 
without travel documents would be charged with illegal entry 
while those who are students will be sent to the holding 
centre at Ban Maneeloy in Ratchaburi's Pak Tho District. 


November 29, 1995

Burmese students arrested during their hunger strike
        Five Burmese students were arrested today by the Thai police while
they were holding hunger strike in front of the Burmese embassy in
Bangkok.  The hunger strike organized by the five members of All Burma
Basic Education Students Union (Thailand) began at 12:30pm. It suppose to
be 180 hours hunger strike but it was immediately stopped by the Thai
police as soon as they began. They are Maung Pain, Segeral Secretary of 
ABBESU, Ko Thet, In-Charge of Information, Nyein Moe, Secretary-2, Maung 
Maung, member and Myat Nge, member. In their statement released today, they
called for the release of all political prisoners including student leader
Min Ko Naing, to stop immediate the National Convention organized by
Slorc, to abolish all unjustice law immediately and to hold dialogue
meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Slorc.  They also called the
international community to put more pressure and protest against the
ASEANs constructive Engagement and urged China to stop selling weapons to
Slorc, Japan to stop ODA assistance to Burma , United Nations to take more
concrete action on Buma. 
        There was also a series of arrest in Bangkok yesterday and today. 
Nine students were arrested at the office of FISRAPT (Foundation in
Support of Refugee Assistance Programs in Thailand) on SOI.39 Suthisarn.
The office of Khit Pyaing (New Era) was raided this morning and U Ye Gaung
(Myawaddy) and his wife were arrested.  Also four other Burmese students
including Min Thein and Ko Hintha were arrested in Suthisarn area in this
evening.  Since Thai authorities is taking precaution steps for the
upcoming trip of Lt.Gen Khin Nyunt in December, Burmese watcher believes
that there would be more arrest in the future. 
ABSDF News Agency


 Now the arrested students are in Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok.
Most of them have been accepted to resettle in Australia and are leaving for Australia
in December, 1995. I would like to request that you and your organisation to take
an Urgent Action for them to be released from  the IDC and to be allowed to
go Australia for  resettlement.

Burmese Students who are arrested by Thai police.
1.      Nicky
2.      Kyin San
3.      San Myint
4.      Aye Ko
5.      Hla Win
6.      U Htay Win
7.      Tayza Ye Tun
8.      Tayza Oo
9.      Thet Naing
and 10. U Ye Gyaung (75 yeras old).

Thank you.
M Aye, A Burmese student in Australia.


November 30, 1995     By Ralph Bachoe

A Burmese Army sergeant working in the Defence 
Attache'soffice in the United States has defected, a source 
from Washington said on Tuesday. The defector was identified 
as Dilip Kumar, a sergeant working as a clerk/accountant at 
the Burmese Embassy.
Kumar said he "chose freedom" rather than punishment for 
exposing rampant corruption including the embezzlement of 
funds at the embassy. He told the source that he uncovered 
how a senior official and others had stolen tens of 
thousands of dollars for personal shopping sprees.

"Because of this, they accused me of stealing, something I 
did not do. I never even handled any embassy money," Kumar 
said. Kumar fled after he was recalled to Rangoon. "I knew that I would 
be imprisoned or killed if I returned and now I fear for my life."

Contacted at 9.15 p.m. Bangkok time on Tuesday for 
confirmation of the defection, Mr Lynn, a Burmese official 
in Washington, said he knew nothing about it. However, Mr 
Lynn was sceptical about the reply and insisted the call was 
local. When told it was from Bangkok and the Bangkok Post, 
Mr Lynn said: "No, I don't believe you. You are calling from 
here. You should call another number."

When the reporter asked for the number, the phone went dead. 
Sources in the United States say corruption at the embassy 
is rampant. An investigation is said to be under way to 
determine if embassy officials are using their diplomatic 
immunity to hide behind a scheme to sell alcohol and tobacco 
products without US taxes being paid. Diplomatic personnel 
are free to buy products tax-free for their personal use; 
the re-sale of such items is prohibited. If this is taking 
place, sources say closing the embassy would be an option 
that would be pursued."I am a Gurkha and loyal to the people 
of Burma, but I cannot be loyal to a government that punishes those 
who are honest. My family and I have nothing, but I am free. My 
freedom makes me a very rich man," Kumar said. 


International donors flirt with Burma's generals
23 November 1995
By Michael Vatikiotis in Bangkok and Nigel Holloway in 

BURMA'S ruling military junta has as good a reputation in 
macro economics management as it has in human rights. But 
lately, the generals have shown a willingness to press on 
with economic reforms - and international donors are taking notice.

The Washington-based International Monetary Fund will send a 
special mission to Rangoon later this month, after maintaining only meagre 
contacts with the generals since they cracked down on Burma's pro-democracy 
movement in 1988. 

There's no IMF or World Bank Loan money in sight yet- some countries on 
the donors' board and the United States in particular, oppose helping the 
regime. But that may change.  As the IMF's modest "technical mission" suggests, 
proponents of closer ties with Burma, namely Japan, Germany, Switzerland and 
France, are pushing for loans, not lectures.

"It's the first time the IMF has had a policy on Burma since 1988," says a Western 
diplomat in Rangoon. And it could be the first step towards broader cooperation. 
The governor of Burma's Central Bank, Kyi Aye, told a Japanese newspaper in 
late October that the IMF faces strong pressure from donors that want to invest 
more in the country.

If Burma is to attract such investors, it must shape up and stabilize- by slashing 
support for its rickety, state-owned enterprises and providing foreign investors 
with a realistic, more stable value for its currency. That's the economic lesson 
the generals seem to understand. Burma began small-scale privatization this year 
and it has a sweeping state-enterprise reform programme- on its agenda, at least. 

The next step, a big one at that, is a massive devaluation of the decades-old rate 
of six kyat to the dollar. Economists argue it must come into line with the far 
cheaper black-market rate- 110kyat to the dollar.That's where the IMF comes in. 
The fund's staff members who will visit in November will work to set up a 
statistical database by which to measure the economy. That way, the IMF 
would be able to monitor what happens if the kyat were to be devalued. The 
statistics would help the Burmese and other too: No one has a very good idea 
what's going on in the Burmese economy.

Burmese officials have recently said that only with IMF advice and financial 
support can the local currency be devalued in a stable manner. The fund has told 
Burma in no uncertain terms that if it wants help, it must push on with 
economic reforms. And in a once-a-year August meeting in Rangoon, fund staffers 
got the impression that the government was prepared to bite the bullet a little harder 
than before.While the fund is moving forward, an outright loan programme 
to help cushion the effects of a devaluation is a non-starter for now. As a US 
government official says, Washington "wants to see progress on three issues: 
democracy, human rights and counter-narcotics efforts. Without progress 
on all three, the US would oppose any international financial assistance" to 
Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council. 

The US, with a 17.8% share, is the fund's biggest voter, partly because of the 
donations it gives. But the US faces pressure. Japan, Germany, France and 
Switzerland are key IMF board members as well, and they want to see loans 
extended to Burma, according to the Burmese Central Bank's Kyi Aye. Last 
month in a small show of support Japan approved Y1.6 billion ($16 million) 
in grant aid to Burma, for a nursing school in Rangoon.  The political stand-off 
notwithstanding, Western diplomats in Rangoon say that Kyi Aye's optimism is 
justified in one respect. The IMF's executive board discussed Burma on 
October 20, and expressed confidence in the reforms process and in the 
eventual devaluation of the kyat.

The meeting convened on the heels of World Bank report on Burma, which 
also calls for a devaluation. The report says Burma's "pace of economic 
growth is still not rapid enough so as to establish the basis for sustained 

Burma is finding it harder and harder to make do with the piecemeal 
liberalization undertaken thus far. The black-market has grown so large that 
the government's tax base is in jeopardy, partly because so many cross-border 
transactions occur outside the reach of tariff collectors. 

While Burma's GDP has grown at about 4% per year over the last decade, 
public sector revenues as a share of GDP fell to 7% in the 1995 fiscal year, 
from 19% a decade ago.  Economists in Washington say unofficial trade accounts 
for more than half of Burma's international trade. The government, which has in 
the past relied on tax revenues to cover 60% of its budget, has had to slash 
spending to the bone. The World Bank report makes clear that it's Burma's 
junta that is ailing because of the exchange-rate discrepancy.

More worrying for the World Bank is Burma's current-account deficit, which 
has widened to $341 million in the latest fiscal year, from $292 million a year 
earlier. The Bank bluntly notes that "accumulation of arrears has increasingly 
been the means used to finance the external deficit."  One of the World Bank's 
other comments is that Rangoon should undertake a comprehensive reform of 
the state sector, which still accounts for 22.5% of GDP and generals over half 
the country's exports. The Bank warns that the main goal of Burma's fledgling 
privatization should be to maximize economic efficiency rather than the "pursuit 
of other goals." 

Various countries' privatization efforts have sought to generate revenue for the 
government and, less overly, to line the pockets of officials involved in the sale.
The last time Burma received help from the IMF was a one year stand-by loan 
worth $31 million that expired in 1982.

If the IMF staffers can't get a green light to give Burma loans to cushion a 
devaluation, they can still offer advice and encourage the country to go forward 
alone. Indeed, IMF staffers are aware the generals might pull away regardless, 
bristling at the prospect of foreign economists peering into their ledgers. 


November 29, 1995

Thailand has rejected a verbal request from drug warlord 
Khun Sa to be allowed to spend the remaining days of his 
life in this country. Giving refuge to Khun Sa not only 
violates Thai laws, but also goes against Thailand's 
commitment to the international community to fight narcotics 
trafficking, said Poldej Worachatr, director of the Press 
Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Poldej said that if Khun Sa is found in Thailand, he will 
be arrested and sent back to Burma or to some other country 
such as the United States which lists him as the most wanted 
international criminal for controlling between 70-80 percent 
of the total drug supply to the US.

Khun Sa stepped down last Wednesday as leader of the Shan 
liberation movement at a religious ceremony at his 
headquarters in Ho Mong. He said he wished to spend his 
final days in Thailand for both the Shans and the Thais 
shared the same religion, a similar language and way of life. Mr Poldej 
said there has been no official request from Khun Sa. 


November 29, 1995
TAK  Police arrested 52 illegal Burmese immigrants yesterday
morning on a truck belonging to one of the Supreme Command's
units and accompanied by one of its officers, police said yesterday.

     The truck, which had no license plate, but bearing the
insignia of the 33rd Mobile Development Unit of the National
Security Command, was stopped by local police and found to be
carrying illegal immigrants, with Lt Narong Chaoprathum and a
unit driver sitting up front, police said.

     Police learned from some Thai-speaking Burmese that each of
them paid Bt3,000 to some Thais involved in a smuggling ring to
enter Thailand after i being told that they could sneak into the
country using an armed forces' vehicle.

     The officer was eventually arrested after consultation
between the police and senior officers from the unit, who allowed
police to take legal action against Narong after an hour-long
discussion, they said.


November 30, 1995

     DEFENCE Minister Gen Chavalit Yonghaiyudh has ordered the
establishment of joint police and military force to provide the
highest possible security for the 10 Southeast Asian heads of
government converging here for a summit meeting next month.

     Col Vithawat Ratchata, an official from the Defence
Ministry's permanent secretary office, told reporters yesterday
that an hoc centre will be set up to coordinate security between
the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the Police
Department, and the Defence Ministry.

     He said the permanent secretary of defence will serve as
director of the centre, which will be located at the ministry's
policy and planning office.

     It is the first time that the Thai Government has ever set
up such a combined force to handle security for a large crowd of
foreign dignitaries. Thailand will host the seven-nation Asean
summit on Dec 14 and a meeting of 10 Asean and other leaders the
next day.

     The two gatherings coincide with the Dec 9-17 Sea Games in
Chiang Mai, involving thousands of athletes.

     Immigration Police Commissioner Lt Gen Kiatisak Prapawat
said his office will launch special surveillance of international
organized crime groups that might try to stage acts of terrorism
during the summit meetings and Sea Games.

     The bureau is cooperating with the FBI and South Korean
police, both of which have provided blacklists of wanted
international criminals, he said.

     Kiatisak added that more staff are being employed for the
upcoming events and that immigration controls have been tightened.

     The government's extra security precautions and surveillance
are being backed up by crackdowns on illegal immigrants in
Bangkok and the suburbs that began during the past week.

     Police sources said yesterday Burmese political dissidents
are not the only targets of the crackdown despite their planned
protest during the summits, to which Burma's junta leader Gen
Than Shwe has been invited.

     The sources said police and plainclothed officers have been
searching apartment and houses where suspected Burmese dissidents
are staying and are rounding them up.

     Several thousand illegal immigrants of various nationalities
have already been detained, they said.

     Burmese dissident sources said U Ye Gyaung, 75, a senior
editor of the Burmese-language Khit Pyaing {New Era), his
65-year-old wife, Daw Hlaing and their son, Moe Kywe, were
rounded up at their apartment in Ram Indra area in a pre-dawn
raid yesterday by a group of plain-clothes special forces.

     They were taken to an unidentified' office of the special
enforcement forces and "we don't know how long they will be kept
there", said one source.

     On Tuesday, police also rounded up Burmese protesters
demonstrating against the Rangoon government in front of the
Burmese Embassy on Sathom Road.

     Cabinet Secretary-General Vishanu Krua-ngarm said the
government wants motorists' cooperation in avoiding routes to be
used by Asean leaders' motorcades during the summit.

     Vishanu said the government will launch awareness campaigns
to inform the public which routes should be avoided.

     He said sections of several roads will be closed as Asean
leaders arrive on the afternoon of Dec 13.

     The secretary-general said police will rehearse closing off
the sections and directing traffic a few days before-hand.


November 30, 1995 by James Fahn

BURMA'S nascent environmental agency desperately needs 
support if it is to effectively monitor the country's 
industrialization  programme, its chief officer said on Tuesday.

Daw Yin Yin Lay, Burma's representative to the Asia-Pacific 
Ministerial Conference on Environment and development, 
recently held in Bangkok, said her first priority was to see 
environmental impact assessments (EIAs) become mandatory for 
all major development projects.

"Foreign investors sometimes bring in their own consultants 
to do EIAs," she said. "They come and consult with us but we 
have no authority over the projects."

Yin Yin Lay is a member of Burma's National Commission for 
Environmental Affairs (NCEA) and serves as the deputy 
director of the commission's secretariat.

The secretariat has no director as yet, she said, and has 
only 15 staff members.

Burma's Minister of Foreign Affairs U Ohn Gyaw serves as 
chairman of the environment commission, and the committee's 
secretary also comes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"So actually our office is run by the Foreign Affairs Ministry with a 
budget from the Prime Minister's Office," she said.

Asked how big her budget was, Yin Yin Lay simply laughed.

Burma has no environment law, she said, and will require 
technical assistance in order to draft one. A national 
environment policy was adopted last year, however.

Many other laws related to the environment have also been 
passed, including the Forestry Act of 1992 and the Protection of 
Wildlife, Wild Plants and Natural Areas Act of  1994. However, most 
of the laws were quite old and outdated, she said.

Yin Yin Lay added that the Ministry of Forestry was the most 
active agency in terms of the environment. It oversees about 
16 national parks and was drawing up a new forestry policy 
which would most likely be adopted next year.

The NCEA office was also trying to forge links with the 
government's planning agency, which was drawing up the next 
national plan for the years 1996-1997 to 2000-2001.

"We have been asked to write a chapter on the environment 
for the plan, but I don't know if it will pass," said Yin 
Yin Lay, an economist by training.

"The government's main thrust is for development, which is 
given more priority, but the authorities are quite aware of 
environmental problems," she said.

"Myanmar is promoting investment, so we need a good 
monitoring system. There should be a regulation for EIAs, but I 
don't know when it will come. We will have to push for it." 


The BurmaNet News is an electronic newspaper covering Burma.
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