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Solidarity with Democratic Voice of

Subject: Solidarity with Democratic Voice of Burma

Solidarity with the Democratic Voice of Burma (D V B) 

Background:  The management committee of the D V B has steadily and continuously

strived by all possible means to improve the quality of broadcasting reception
Burma. The latest attempt was made a couple of months ago with the German
(Deutsche Telekom), which seemed to be quite promising and encouraging. 
We are much obliged to the German Telecom for the willingness and understanding
our democratic cause. Unexpectedly, the following press information was released
October 22 1996 by German Wave (Deutsche Welle) in Cologne:

"German Foreign Ministry vetoes Deutsche Telekom contract with exiled Burmese
station backed by Aung San Suu Kyi"

 ' We cannot understand this decision (of the Foreign Ministry)' was the
reaction of the 
Deutsche Telekom.
The German Foreign Ministry has vetoed a contract that German Telecoms giant
Telekom was about to sign with the exiled Burmese radio station backed by
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Deutsche Welle's English Service reported on Tuesday,
October. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Deutsche Welle the contract with
the Norway-
based Democratic Voice of Burma radio was blocked because 'no foreign opposition
ever been granted permissions to use a German state-owned company to broadcast 
programmes which go against a government in its own country.'
Deutsche Telekom is state-owned, although partial privatisation is underway.
Under the 
contract, estimated tobe worth US$ 100,000 a year. Deutsche Telekom would have
relay facilities on one of its international transmitters for the radio
station's one-hour daily 
broadcasts. But when the deal was about to be signed in early August, the
Foreign Ministry 
intervened. Mr. Harn Yawnghwe, a senior advisor to the Burmese
government-in-exile who 
was involved in the negotiations told Deutsche Welle: 'Deutsche Telekom had
capacity and they believed they could help us to increase our broadcasting time
and frequency.
We got to the stage of drafting a contract. But then they said, ' we are very
sorry, the Foreign 
Ministry vedoed the contract.'
Deutsche Welle has obtained a letter sent by Deutsche Telekom to the Democratic
Voice of 
Burma. The letter, dated 6th. August, confirms the veto, and says:' We cannot
understand this 
decision (of the Foreign Ministry) and we deplore that there seem to be some
objections (to 
the contract).' Sources said the vedo may be the first ever such Foreign
Ministry intervention.
The Democratic Voice of Burma broadcasts in Burmese and other ethnic languages,
and aims 
to provide information banned by the country's military rulers. After reception
problems with 
broadcasts sent from Norway, the station contacted Deutsche Telekom in order to
improve the 
service. The station is the official voice of the Burmese government-in-exile,
which is based on 
the Thai-Burmese border.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and official head of the government-in-exile Aung San
Suu Kyi has 
publicly supported the service. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the
decision on the radio
'is separate from our concern for human rights in Burma, and we support recent
European Union 
demands for the release from prison od pro-democracy activists there.' The
German government 
does not recognise the Burmese government-in-exile, he said. The Democratic
Voice of Burma 
is currently transmitted by the Norwegian state-owned broadcasting company NRK.
The station 
has a license from the Norwegian government.
Cologne, 22nd. October 1996
144/96                    End of the press release

Dear friends of Democratic Burma,

You are invited to express your free opinions on this matter, in which the
German Foreign Ministry 
has unfortunately failed to respect and encourage the fundamental right of
freedom of expressions 
(Article 19). In my next immediate message, I am going to report the reactions
on German Foreign 
Ministry's veto by different leading German politicians.

Solidarity with the DVB,

Nwe Aung / Burma Bureau, Germany.