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BurmaNet News: November !, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies" 

The BurmaNet News: November 1, 1996
Issue #556


October 31, 1996

REGIONAL and international human rights groups joined the Burmese opposition
yesterday in declaring "war" against the Rangoon junta by formally launching
an alternative Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) group to
coordinate efforts and activities on democracy and rights there.

The network, which also plans to take up similar political issues in the
region, will function as a forum that reflects the voice, opinions and
concern of people in ASEAN countries, its organizers and rights activists said.

The new organization is intended to operate as "a parallel structure to the
ASEAN government body", and to influence the group's policy towards Burma,
said Asia Forum's Evelyn Balais-Serrano.

The Alternative ASEAN Meeting on Burma, held in Bangkok and attended by some
80 representatives form 40 organizations across the globe, also adopted a
tactical strategy and a plan of action to help push forward the restoration
of democracy and a respect for human rights. The solidarity network plans to
announce its Alternative ASEAN Declaration on Burma this morning, when its
members protest in front of the Burmese Embassy.

The network identified the campaign against Burma's admission into ASEAN as
its top priority and plans to mobilize " people power" across the region
against government decisions on the issue.

Debbie Stothard, from the Burma Solidarity Group in Malaysia, criticized
ASEAN's policy of constructive engagement for failing to help improve the
political situation in Burma. She pointed out that the ruling State Law and
Order Restoration Council (Slorc) needs ASEAN for economic and political
legitimacy reasons, more than vice versa, and she urged ASEAN to redefine
its policy on Burma into one that takes into account the interests of the
Burmese people.

During the meeting, political and human rights activists noted that in the
past ASEAN governments have been allowed a monopoly in conducting and
pursuing policies towards Burma. Over the past few years political tension
in Burma has worsened, particularly following the release of opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi after six years of house arrest.

"ASEAN people have to get involved, especially now that the association
wants to grant Burma membership. It's time to step up our campaign and
activities against the Slorc," said Somchai Homlaor, Thai human rights
activist and a leading member of Forum Asia. "The people, especially those
in civil societies, are going to declare war against the Slorc," Somchai
announced at a press conference yesterday.

Throughout its 30 year history, ASEAN has been functioning as "an
organization for the elite" and  although there was a recent proposal to
promote more widespread participation, the idea was eventually shot down.

Speaking fat the panel discussion yesterday, The Nation Executive Editor
Kavi Chongkittavorn said that as the 21st century approaches, ASEAN needs to
shift its focus to the people." A human agenda should be at the forefront of
ASEAN leaders' minds from now on," he said.

He added that if non-governmental organizations (NGOs) want their voice and
opinions to be heard by governments in ASEAN, they should lobby or pressure
those governments to recognize the importance of their contribution.

Kavi suggested that NGOs in ASEAN countries should call for the
establishment of an "informal consultative forum" with ASEAN
representatives, where views may be exchanged and input from the region's
grassroots organizations discussed. "It is better to talk to ASEAN people
face-to face," he said.

A leading expert on Burma and Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent
Bertil Litner said that while ASEAN policies are motivated by "economic
greed" , the West's policy towards Burma is "not entirely motivated by
democracy". He added that no divisions should exist between the East and
West on the issue of Burma.


October 30, 1996

   BANGKOK, Oct 30 (Reuter) - Thailand's foreign minister has said that
Burma should bring democracy to the country before becoming a full member of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Bangkok Post
reported on Wednesday.

    Foreign Minister Amnuay Viravan said Burma's ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) would be more welcome in the international
community once it finished writing its new constitution and held an
election, the newspaper reported.

    ``Burma used to explain and assure ASEAN that it is going to have a new
constitution. Therefore we (Thailand) want to push for it,'' the paper
quoted Amnuay as saying after a meeting with the visiting British Foreign
Secretary Malcolm Rifkind.

    Rifkind is accompanying Queen Elizabeth on a five-day visit to Thailand.

    Thai foreign ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

    A constitutional convention of delegates mostly hand-picked by the SLORC
has met intermittently in Burma since 1993 to draft guidelines for a new

    Amnuay said when Burma returns to democracy the problem of the
accusations against Rangoon over human rights should diminish.

    ASEAN groups Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore,
Brunei and Vietnam.

    The minister also repeated Thailand's stance that Burma needs ``some
time'' to prepare for admission as a full member of ASEAN.

    ASEAN has adopted a policy of ``constructive engagement'' aimed at
keeping Burma from becoming isolated in order to try and reform it. Rangoon
has observer status in ASEAN and has applied to join the group at its next
formal meeting in July.

    Western nations oppose Burma's entry into ASEAN because of the military
regime's human rights record and its failure to enter into dialogue with the
opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel Peace laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi.

    ASEAN's constructive engagement strategy came into question earlier this
month when Philippine President Fidel Ramos said leaders of the group might
review the policy. His comments followed a fresh crackdown on the NLD.


October 31, 1996

SINGAPORE, Oct 31 (Reuter) - Burma is not yet ready for membership in the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok
Tong said on Thursday.

Goh was speaking in an interview for television made available to Reuters by
MTV3 Finland. Burma has been pressing for admission next year.
Goh said: "I don't think Myanmar is quite ready in the near future to adopt
all the obligations of being a member of ASEAN."

Asked whether it was likely Burma would be the last of three applicants to
join ASEAN, Goh replied: "I think it is possible. I would not know myself at
this stage how Myanmar (Burma) would rank against the Laotians or the
Cambodians. But it is possible that Myanmar may be the last member to join

Burma, Laos and Cambodia are candidates for membership in ASEAN, which now
groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and
Vietnam. Goh said the answer to whether Burma was ready to join ASEAN
depended on its ability to assume certain obligations like the ASEAN Free
Trade Area. Although Burma is under fire from some Western nations and
non-governmental organizations over human rights issues, Goh said Singapore
did not interfere in neighbors' domestic policies.  


October 31, 1996

Message from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for the students in Europe:

"I would like to thank the students of Europe for doing what they have
been doing to help the cause of democracy in Burma. We are always very
encouraged by the support of young people. Because the young people
are the future of this world. And if we have the support of the young
it means that our future is assured.

In Burma many young people lack all the rights that students in
Europe take for granted. They have no intellectual freedom, they have
no political freedom and once they have finished school and university
they do not have the economic freedom to live the kind of life they
want to lead. So when young people support us, we know that they
sympathize with us, that they understand what our difficulties are and
that really puts a lot of heart into us.

I would like to thank you again for all you have done and I hope
that you will continue to help us in our struggle for democracy in
Burma which is basically a struggle to live as dignified human beings in
justice, in peace and in freedom."

Thank you.
Aung San Suu Kyi.


October 29, 1996

RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Passers-by quickly duck into doorways as plainclothes
policemen fan out along a busy Rangoon road. A truckload of soldiers, rifles
at the ready, eye the area. Suddenly, a police car appears, followed slowly
by a white sedan with windows tinted pitch black.

Aung San Suu Kyi is here.

Burma's pro-democracy leader is surrounded these days by security heavier
than that of most heads of state. But it isn't meant for her protection. The
security is meant to isolate Suu Kyi -- to keep her away from the Burmese

The soldiers and policemen are there on the orders of the military junta
that rules Burma, and that repeatedly threatens to ``annihilate'' the
51-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Burma's generals, who kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for six years until
July 1995, denied a statement by one of her aides last week that the
military was restricting her movements to her home. Suu Kyi is free, they
said. But the generals have their own concept of freedom.

No one sees Suu Kyi except for a small circle of family and advisers.
Heavily-armed, short-tempered soldiers block the roads to her lakeside
compound. Her telephone line has been cut. As she is driven about town, she
is invisible behind the smoked glass windows of her automobile.

Suu Kyi never tells her driver where she is planning to go. Although she
sometimes rides with party leaders, she never discusses political work in
the car. When a journalist managed to run past police and approach Suu Kyi's
sedan, she refused to roll down the window.

``My driver is M.I.,'' she later explained.

M.I. is short for military intelligence, the pervasive network of secret
police and informers that spins a web of fear, ensnaring a nation in
perpetual paranoia.

There are many groups opposed to military rule in Burma, including
nonviolent democrats, ethnic insurgents and student revolutionaries. But
their forces are fragmented, cut off from each other by the intelligence
apparatus. Planning and coordination are difficult. No one is sure who to
trust. No one is sure who is spying for M.I.

``The M.I. are everywhere,'' said a former member of Suu Kyi's party. ``They
are even in her house.''

Across from Suu Kyi's home, the M.I. has rented a villa from which it
photographs her compound. The men inside her gate recording the names of
visitors are M.I. Her personal bodyguards are M.I., although Suu Kyi
requested them. Her people had no security training, so she asked for the
services of the agents who were her jailers during house arrest.

Kyi Maung, the 78-year-old vice chairman of Suu Kyi's party who was picked
up for questioning on Oct. 23 and released Monday, never asked for an M.I.
detail. Nonetheless, one watches his home every day, photographing visitors.
There also are agents stationed by the house of the party's other vice
chairman, 69-year-old Tin Oo.

Late some nights, truckloads of soldiers have pulled up to their homes.
Troops jumped out, rifles loaded, sweeping in all directions in search of
some unseen enemy.

There are no known guerrilla infiltrators in Rangoon. But there are ``ax
handles of the imperialists'' as the generals call Western diplomats and
journalists. Some visit Kyi Maung and Tin Oo in the evenings. As a group of
them left Kyi Maung's home in a car one night, a sedan full of M.I. men
immediately followed.

``They moved as in a thriller chase,'' a state-run newspaper said of the
pursuit. But the diplomats, simply lost in the dark labyrinth of roads, were
laughing while the M.I., convinced they were trying to escape, grew furious.

As each one was dropped off, M.I. men followed on foot, lurking in the
shadows, until they could dart forward and photograph the foreigners.

Suu Kyi, in a recent newspaper column, estimated the M.I. spends 80 to 90
percent of its time, energy and money spying on her party. ``How much more
sensible it would be to come to a civilized settlement that would remove the
need for spies and sieges,'' she said.

Col. Kyaw Thein, a high-ranking intelligence officer and government
spokesman, said a settlement with Suu Kyi and her colleagues is not what the
military has in mind.

The colonel is a firm believer that ``there is no need for an opposition,''
in Burma. With nearly 1,000 arrests of democracy activists this year, his
agents are doing their best to make sure there isn't one.


October 31, 1996 (Christian Science Monitor)
by Daniel Pruzin

A series of student demonstrations - which eerily resembled events leading up to
1988, when thousands of pro-democracy protesters were killed by the military,
has some observers in Burma concerned that history may be repeating itself.
The protests by hundreds of students in the capital, Rangoon (or Yangon, as it
is called now), have alarmed the country's military rulers, who responded with a
show of force and the arrest of one of the country's leading pro-democracy
The current crackdown began after two nights of demonstrations that were
sparked by the severe beating of three students by police on Oct. 20. The
military has since sent armed soldiers near the capital's main colleges to
prevent further protests.   
"It's as tense in Burma as it has been since 1988," says a diplomat here, citing
the student demonstrations as well as the ongoing crackdown against the
National League for Democracy (NLD), Burma's main pro-democracy party led by
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Both the government, known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC), and members of the NLD were keen to play down the importance of the
previous week's events and the most visible challenge to SLORC in recent years.
"There's no fear that the student demonstrations might get out of hand," said
Kyi Maung, one of the NLD's top leaders who was detained and accused of
colluding with the students to foment unrest. "I don't take the point of view
that the events of 1988 are being repeated," he told the Monitor a day after his
release. The NLD was also quick to disassociate itself from the students,
denying any involvement with the demonstrations. "The students are working
for their own cause," explains Tin Oo, another NLD leader. "The NLD is very
concerned to maintain peace and tranquillity. Violence and disturbances won't
solve our problems."
But the parallels to 1988 are still striking. That year, antigovernment
demonstrations were sparked by a tea shop brawl involving Rangoon students.
The police's heavy-handed response triggered student demonstrations, which
were later joined in by hundreds of thousands of ordinary Burmese.
As in 1988, last week's events were also sparked by a student brawl, this one
involving an altercation near the Yangon Institute of Technology. Three YIT
students were taken into custody and beaten, provoking student demonstrations
and a demand that the government apologize.
Surprisingly, SLORC responded with an apology of sorts. But the wishy-washy
wording - which said police "were discordant in relations" - had students on the
street again the following evening. More worrisome for the government were
reports that residents of the nearby working-class district of Oakkyin were
joining the protests.
With the carrot failing to appease the students, SLORC reverted to the stick. In
addition to stationing the 30 troop trucks near the colleges, eyewitnesses said
that five rows of soldiers, guns drawn, were stationed close by in order to
prevent any marches.
Coupled with the student demonstrations have been further jolts to Burma's
creaking economy. In 1988, the protests were fueled by general disgust with the
government's economic mismanagement. Over the past four months, Burmese have
witnessed a sharp drop in the value of the national currency, the kyat. And
although the price of gasoline has stabilized after doubling last month,
subsequent price hikes for basic commodities and an inflation rate estimated at
an annual 30 to 40 percent are making it difficult for many here to pay for
"The cost of living is getting out of hand," Mr. Maung says. "There's a lot of
discontent, especially in the rural areas...."
But whether the sparks that lit up the country in 1988 will rekindle a similar
conflagration in the near term remains questionable. Explains one local
observer: "Nineteen eighty-eight, in a nutshell, was a slow burn ... We have the
same ingredients now. I don't expect anything right away, but there's now an
edge to the situation that wasn't here before."
Others point out that the situation has changed dramatically from 1988. Despite
the current economic problems, some Burmese appear to have benefited from
the government's recent market reforms. Burma has also come under closer
scrutiny from the international community, which would likely respond in a
more forceful manner than it did in 1988 to any similar uprising.
But it is the massacres of 1988 that still trouble Burma. They in part explain
the NLD's arms-length attitude toward the student demonstrators as well as
SLORC's subsequent decision to lower tempers by releasing Maung and lifting
the barricades.


October 31, 1996

Diplomat Meets Aung San Suu Kyi

Yangon -- A Japanese Foreign Ministry official in charge of Myanmar (Burma)
affairs met pro- democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday, but details
of their talks were not immediately known, diplomatic sources said.

Shigeo Matsutomi, director of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's First
Southeast Asian Division, met Suu Kyi for 90 minutes at Japanese Ambassador
Yoichi Yamaguchi's residence, the sources said.

Matsutomi arrived in Yangon (Rangoon) on Tuesday on a fact - finding
mission, the sources said.  He is scheduled to return to Tokyo on Friday.


October 23-5, 1996 (compiled from 2 Xinhua reports on SLORC visit to China)

Beijing, 25th October: Chinese Premier Li Peng told Maung Aye, vice-chairman
of the State Law and Order Restoration Council of Myanmar, today
that more military exchanges between China and Myanmar will help promote
all-round friendship and cooperation.

   China, as a developing country, is willing to develop its friendship and
cooperation with all countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful
coexistence, Li said during a meeting with Maung Aye and his party in Beijing.

   China and Myanmar enjoyed traditional friendship, to which the Chinese
government attaches much importance, Li said, adding that the prospects for
furthering bilateral ties are promising.  

Invited by vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of China General 
Zhang Wannian, General Maung Aye's entourage include Chief-of-Staff of the 
Army Lieutenant-General Tin Oo, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Vice-Admiral
Tin Aye and Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force Lieutenant-General Tin Ngwe.
Chinese Vice Chairman General Zhang Wannian had paid a six-day goodwill
visit to Myanmar in April-May this year.


October 22-30, 1996


Sanwa Bank Ltd., recently opened a representative office in Rangoon.  Sanwa
is one of the eight Japanese banks granted presence in Burma.

The Korea First Bank (KFB) opened a representative office in Burma on
October 24.

Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) is planning to launch an office in Burma in
mid-November after obtaining an official approval from the Burmese authorities.

The National Bank of Bangladesh became the 43rd foreign bank to open a
representative office in Burma this week (October 30).


The eight-day mid-term Myanmar gems emporium has netted a total of 3.34
million US dollars by the sale of gems, jade and pearl lots.  The mid-term gems 
emporium, was attended by 148 companies from 15 countries and regions.  Over
half of the companies were from Hong Kong. 


Japan Airlines (JAL), is planning to open an office in Rangoon,  at the
beginning of November, when "visit Myanmar year '96" is to begin.  The plan
was discussed during JAL vice-president Yoshida Tatsuhito's meeting with
SLORC Minister of  Transport Thein Win.  They also talked about arranging
chartered flights from Japan  directly to Rangoon.  At present, JAL takes
Japanese tourists from Japan to Rangoon via Bangkok.  Another Japanese
Airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), formally established an air link with
Burma in July and operates on the Osaka-Rangoon route. 


China Central Television (CCTV) and the Myanmar (Burma) Television and Radio
Department (MTRD) have signed an agreement on cooperation in the area of
television.  The two parties agreed that they would provide each other with
TV documentaries for broadcasting on China's national day and Myanmar's
independence day.  CCTV agreed that MTRD could receive via satellite and use
CCTV's "China Today" and "English News" , while MTRD agreed that CCTV could
receive via satellite and rebroadcast news from Burma . They agreed that the
subsidiary company which will be set up by MTRD in the near future would be
the agent distributing home videos of Chinese TV programs in Myanmar.


October 29, 1996 (Business Times)

GERMAN automotive equipment and power tools maker Robert Bosch has set up a
$12 million regional headquarters in Singapore.

Its Asian subsidiary, Robert Bosch (South East Asia), also said it would be
granted business headquarters status by the Economic Development Board (EDB)
on Friday.

Besides Singapore, Bosch also operates in Malaysia, the Philippines,
Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. It will be setting up offices in Myanmar
and Cambodia soon.


October 28, 1996 (Latin American markets - Vol. 9; No. 41; Pg. 1)

Myanmar, with one of the most draconian regimes in recent history, has drawn
increased criticism from the world community for its intensified crackdown
on political opposition. However, even though there has been a withdrawal of
some direct investment, international capital, particularly Asian, seems to
remain keenly interested in this underdeveloped Asian land that is rich in
natural resources.

   SLORC's latest round of dissent squashing is sending a clear message that it
has little concern for world opinion and is not presently prepared to pursue any
true form of democratic government. The prime leader for democratic change,
Suu Kyi, continues to be constrained in her activity and has been prevented from
giving any public speeches. In addition, Rangoon announced tough new security
measures which are aimed at "traitors who are attempting to destabilize society
at a time when all-out efforts are being made to develop and modernize the
nation." It is clear that the "traitors" are essentially the political

   The environment in Myanmar is certainly volatile, economically, socially and
politically but this has not as yet motivated an exodus of outside capital from
the country. True, some multinationals such as Heineken, PepsiCo and
Levi-Strauss have scaled back or sold off local operations, but the trend seems
to be in favor of keeping options open and maintaining, expanding or creating a
presence in the country. For example, despite the threat of U.S. sanctions
against Rangoon, the president of American Fortune 500 company United
Technologies stated that he was prepared to invest in Myanmar in the next three
years, calling it a "strategic developing country that can provide excellent
ground- floor opportunities." TOTAL of France is assuming a "politically
neutral" stance and expects to increase petroleum exploration activity.

   Although some other Western corporations are not quite as publicly
enthusiastic as United Technologies or TOTAL, Asian enterprises are generally
bullish. One of the biggest infrastructural projects proposed for Myanmar will
ostensibly be partially led by a Thai company, the Industrial Estate Authority
of Thailand (IEAT). The Tavoy deep seaport to be built in southern Myanmar
will link up with a major industrial center currently under construction.
IEAT which is part of an international group of companies now building a new
airport at Mandalay has stated that it plans to "commit long term to Myanmar
(because of) its excellent possibilities." Corporations from Taiwan,
Malaysia, Singapore and India have made similar statements and are generally
positive, long-term, about the country.
Despite Western opposition it seems that the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) will soon approve full membership for Myanmar in the near
future. If Myanmar is granted a normal position in the organization a jump in
Asian investment is likely. "Despite the rough politics of SLORC, Myanmar is
much too attractive from a natural resources point of view for ASEAN and
investors to ignore," said Sam Kua, a Hong Kong businessman with interests in
Myanmar. "This country has petroleum, timber, rubber and mineral wealth that
has hardly been exploited. Labor is fairly skilled and inexpensive," he added.

   Even though Rangoon has shown little flexibility for democratic reform in its
mode of government, it has made progress in creating a more comfortable
commercial environment for foreign investors. SLORC hopes that if it can
provide enough incentives for outside capital the political problems of the
country will not be as large an issue for investors. While not a bed of
roses by any means, for now, investors are willing to deal with these risks
because the perception is that in the long run there is considerably more to
gain than lose by being in Myanmar.

Excerpted from the weekly exotic debt report published by Cantrion Capital
Markets, Inc.


October 27, 1996

 After having realized their wrong doings, Private Api, Private Saw Yali,
and Private Tin Htwe of the 7th Brigade of the jungle-based Karen armed
group [Karen National Union] returned to the legal fold at a frontline
military camp in Hlaingbwe Township, Karen State on 23 October 1996. They
brought in three M-13 rocket- propelled grenades, two M-16 automatic rifles,
two AK-47
automatic rifles, one M-62 rocket launcher, and one 2-inch motor. A wife of
one of the privates also came along with them. 

Colonel Thein Aung, commander of the No. 99 Light Infantry Division
Headquarters in frontline; departmental personnel, including chairmen of the
Karen State Law and Order Restoration Council and Hlaingbwe Township Law and
Order Restoration Council, and local residents cordially welcomed the
returnees and provided needed assistance to them. 

It has been learned that more armed Karen rebels in the jungle will return
to the legal fold once they realize the genuine goodwill of the state and
the Defense Services. 


October 28, 1996
>From timothy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

The Youth Working Group of National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) 
was formed at the meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the NLD(LA) 
held on July 1996.


(1) To train and cultivate the youths for the emergent of youth leaders for the 
future generation.

(2) To co-ordinate with the NLD(youth) within the Country and other Students 
and Youth Organizations.

(3) To co-operate intimately with the alliance organizations and student
in the liberated areas.

(4) To be able to co-operate intimately with the International Youth

(5) To implement the principles and programme of the NLD(LA).


To work under the direct leadership of the Central Executive Committee of
the NLD(LA) in accordance with the principles and programme of the NLD.


(1) Tun Aung Kyaw Leader - In charge of Irrawaddy Division of the
(Member of all Burma Central Leading Youth)

 (2) Kyi Win (Paw Tun Aung) Deputy-Leader  In charge of Arakan State of the
(Member of all Burma Central Leading Youth)

(3) Kyi Win Member In charge(1) of Mayangon Township of the NLD(Youth)(former)
(Member of Leading Youth of Rangoon Division)

(4) Maung Myint  Member, In charge(2) of Waw Township of the NLD(Youth)(former)

(5) Naing Tun Member In charge (1) of Yedashe Township of the NLD(Youth)(former)

(6) San Ni  Member of the Youth Working Group of Bogalay Township(former)

(7) Aung Zaw Twe Member of the Youth Working Group of  Hline

(8) Win Than Member of the Youth Working Group of Sagaing Division (former)

(9) Min Aung Member of the Youth Working Group of Myitkyina Township (former)


October 29, 1996  (International Herald Tribune)

It was heartening to hear Bill Clinton state the other day that in Burma
''those taking risks for peace and freedom know that the United States will
stand at their side.'' But those who have recently taken such risks might wish
that his administration would stand just a bit closer.

   About 500 Burmese students have demonstrated against their government, the
biggest such protest in years. In a dictatorship as stifling as Burma's, such an
action took great courage. And those students, who dispersed peacefully on
Sunday after the military regime deployed armed troops, are not the only ones
risking their lives and futures for democracy. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
daughter of Burma's independence hero and the rightful leader of Burma, has
been under house arrest or subject to official harassment since before her
pro-democracy party won an overwhelming mandate in 1990 elections - a
mandate that the regime refused to honor. In recent weeks it has turned up
the heat again, cutting off telephones and preventing followers from
gathering at her gate, a weekend
tradition that had been Burma's only outlet for free speech.  

 Most damaging, the regime seems to be picking off her colleagues and
advisers one by one, arresting the aides she needs to function and hoping
that the world
will not notice. The most recent detention is of U Kyi Maung, 70. A deputy
chairman of the National League for Democracy and one of Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi's closest confidants, he already has spent five years in prison for peaceful
advocacy of democracy. His latest crime seems to have been mediating with the
student demonstrators to prevent another regime-led massacre of unarmed

Burma is a potentially wealthy country made poor by the folly of its rulers.
The outside world can have considerable influence by granting or withholding
aid and investment, particularly if concerned nations act together. Burma's
Southeast Asian neighbors should make clear that the regime's continuing
barbarity is inconsistent with entry into their regional association, ASEAN.
The European Union should proceed with the sanctions now under discussion.
And the United States should make clear that it is prepared to stand with
Burma's freedom fighters, in deed as well as word.


October 30, 1996

Slorc Economic Development Planning Minister David Abel held an emergency
press conference on Aug 2 to respond to two economic reports on Burma
published by the US Embassy in Rangoon ("Burma Debate", July/Aug 1996). Gen
Abel proudly stated that actual foreign investments in Burma far exceed the
amount announced when the agreements were signed.

He cited two examples. Traders Hotel was estimated to cost $50 million. They
have spent $85 million and the hotel is not yet complete. Sedona Hotel was
also estimated to cost $50 million. They have spent $90 million so far. Gen
Abel was so proud that foreign investors were spending more money than their
original estimates.

This clearly shows Gen Abel has zero training in economics, finance and
investment management. Traders Hotel has a 70 percent cost over-run; Sedona
Hotel had a 80 percent cost over-run. These type of cost over-runs are
financial disasters. This is something to be ashamed about. Not something to
be proud about. The bottom line is that Burma is a very expensive place to
do business due to corruption and poor infrastructure. The "Far Eastern
Economic Review" (Aug 15) states that foreigners experience "more pain than
gain" in investing in Burma.

Gen Abel, unlike Slorc Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw, is a decent individual. He
received his military training in England and speaks excellent English. But
he has zero training in economics, finance and investments. It will soon
become obvious to foreign investors that without trained economic expertise
to guide the economic development of Burma, SLORC's attempt at an "economic
take-off" will end in a crash landing.

The conditional sanctions legislation signed into law by President Clinton
on Oct 1 will, for all practical purposes, stop new American investment in
Burma. But what is more effective is the Selective Purchasing Laws passed by
the Magnificent Seven (the State of Massachusetts and six cities including
San Francisco). Selective Purchasing Laws are an "equal opportunity"
boycott. It penalizes both American and foreign (mainly Asian) firms that
are financing the military occupation of Burma. Selective purchasing
boycotts are the corporate version of Chairman Mao's guerrilla war.

I have been privately informed that foreign investors have quietly suspended
$1 billion in announced investments due to the lack of a political
settlement in Burma. Sooner or later, UNOCAL will experience 70-80 percent
cost over-runs on its $1.2 billion natural gas pipeline to Thailand and will
be forced to suspend this project. If we force the suspension of two-thirds
of announced investments in Burma, we will facilitate political change in Burma.

"Yangon under Siege" read the headline of an eight-page newsletter "Myanmar
Business" published by Slorc apologist Ashook Nath in the Philippines. It is
becoming obvious even to hard-line Slorc supporters that SLORC's days are

 Myint Thein 


October 26, 1996  (slightly abridged)

Burma Study/Action Weekend
November 16-17, 1996
Takaradera, Yamazaki, Kyoto, Japan

One year ago, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said, "I have been released.
That is all.  Nothing has changed. "Nothing has yet improved; in fact, the
situation has gotten even worse. In spite of pleas from Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, the Japanese government (JICA and JETRO) is increasing assistance to
the SLORC.  

Burma Relief Center Japan Campaigns:

Boycott Visit Myanmar Year	
Save the Salween - Damn the Dams
Stop the Pipeline 

Burmese Relief Center Japan in cooperation with the Burma Youth Volunteer
Association will hold the seventh annual Burma Study/Action Weekend to 
consider the current situation in Burma and to discuss avenues for action.  
The program will include videos, slides, and discussions with visiting Burma 
experts and BRC-J members who have recently returned from the border.  
Hand-outs, reprints, and newsletters with the most up-to-date information 
on all Burmese issues will be provided. 

environment     imprisonment     torture     porterage  human rights
monks and Buddhism narcotics     deforestation     natural resources
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma     foreign governments
ASEAN     Thailand     forced repatriation     UNHCR     investments
malaria     dry-season offensive     constructive engagement   border camps
relief     medicine     clothes     orphanages     clinics
self-sufficiency     development     education     maternity and child care
medical assistance     relief     regular donations      fund raising
letter campaigns     petitions      posters   political  pressure
boycotts     demonstrations
handwoven Karen jackets      Burmese delicacies     Shan bags
raw silk scarves     Karenni blankets     longyis     T-shirts      keychains
handwoven chopsticks cases     magic bags      hand-painted greeting cards
hand-carved teak jewelry     postcards     telephone cards     note cards
books     video tapes     cassettes of Burmese music 
All proceeds, of course, will be used to help the Burmese   
Schedule and Directions
Activities will begin early Saturday afternoon and continue until Sunday
afternoon.  Burmese vegetarian meals and Burmese refreshments will be
provided.  Discussion will be in English, Japanese and Burmese.  

Come when you can; stay as long as you can.  Historic, scenic Tenno-zan
merits notice as well, so plan time for a hike!

Takaradera, a Shingon temple with important cultural properties, is in
Yamazaki between Kyoto and Osaka and can be reached by either JR or 
Hankyu.  Some  Rapid Service (kaisoku) stop at JR Yamazaki, but only the 
local (futsu) stops at Hankyu Oyamazaki.  From Hankyu
Oyamazaki Station, first walk to JR Yamazaki Station (about five minutes).
>From JR Yamazaki Station cross the tracks and go STRAIGHT up the hill.
(After you cross the tracks, DO NOT TURN RIGHT.  That takes you around the
hill to the Tenno-zan cherry trees.)  You will pass one temple before you
reach the gate of Takaradera on the right.  By car, continue past the stairs
and turn right, going around the main gate.  The parking lot is on the left.
The fifteen-minute walk up is quite steep.  A taxi from either station costs
about 750 yen. (The taxi stand at Hankyu Oyamazaki Station is not right at
the station.  You have to walk along the road to the left after you come out
of the station.)

Participation fee: 10,000 yen  (includes a donation)
For reservations, please contact:
Ken and Visakha Kawasaki, 266-27 Ozuku-cho, Kashihara, Nara 634
Tel:  (07442) 2-8236, Fax:  (07442) 4-6254, E-mail: brelief@xxxxxxx
Takaradera telephone number:  (075) 956-0047  (for directions to the temple;
NOT for reservations!)