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BurmaNet News: November 28, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies" 

The BurmaNet News: November 28, 1996
Issue #579

Noted in Passing: 

		The brave reformers in Burma led by Aung San Suu Kyi 			remind us that
their desires know no boundaries. Their 			aspirations are universal because
they are fundamentally 			human. - President Clinton (see: TN: CLINTON - 


November 27, 1996 (excerpts) (The Nation)

US President Bill Clinton addressed Chulalongkorn University yesteray.

The people of Cambodia and Mongolia proved that change is
possible in difficult circumstances. The brave reformers in Burma
led by Aung San Suu Kyi remind us that these desires know no boundaries. 
Their aspirations are universal because they are fundamentally human.

Every nation of the Asia-Pacific must preserve the best of its
traditions while pursuing the benefits of progress. But surely we
can all agree that human dignity and individual worth must never be
undervalued or abused. The United States will continue to stand
with those who stand for freedom in Asia and beyond. Doing so
reflects not only our ideals, it advances our interests. A nation
that respects the rights of its own people is more likely to
respect the rights of its neighbours, to keep its word, to play
by the rules, to be a reliable partner in diplomacy and trade,
and in pursuit of peace and stability.

Thailand and the US are close and committed partners in the fight
against drugs. We cannot afford to rest in the struggle, for the
lives of too many millions of our young people are at stake.
Thailand is setting a strong example for other nations.

We know we must do more to fight illegal drugs at the source.
Burma has long been the world's number one producer of opium and
heroin and now is also making methapethamines.

The role of drugs in Burma's economic and political life and the
regime's refusal to honour its own pledge to move to multi-party
democracy are really two sides of the same coin, for both
represent the absence of the rule of law. Every nation has an
interest in promoting true political dialogue in Burma - a
dialogue that will lead to a real fight against crime, corruption
and narcotics and a government more acceptable to its people.

Whether we are fighting drugs, combatting Aids, trying to open
bright new futures for our children, or working to protect the
planet we share, Thailand and the US are making our partnership
work for our people. For we both know we have much more to gain
from standing together than by going it alone. And we both
appreciate how much can be achieved when dialogue and democracy
are the life blood of two nation's relations with each other,
when policies are made through consensus, not coercion. Working
together, the US and Thailand can help lead the way to an Asia-
Pacific region in which economic success and greater freedom can
advance together and support one another.


November 27, 1996 
By Raju Gopalakrishnan

    JAKARTA, Nov 27 (Reuter) - The question of Burma's entry
into ASEAN is expected to be centre-stage at this week's summit
of the Southeast Asian grouping, ministers and diplomats said on Wednesday.
    Ali Alatas, foreign minister of host Indonesia, told reporters that none
of the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations' seven members opposed the entry of 
Burma, or Myanmar.  He said discussion of the issue during the summit was 
    'In principle, the entry of Myanmar into ASEAN poses no problems to ASEAN. 
All ASEAN members are agreed that Myanmar needs to enter, needs to be accepted 
as a member.'
    Diplomats said what was at issue was when Burma, the focus of international 
concern over its human rights record, would be granted entry.

    The one-day, free-wheeling meeting has no papers and no
fixed agenda, diplomats and officials said. But the recent
airing of differences by ASEAN leaders on when to grant Burma
full membership in the group is likely to occupy centre-stage.
    'We cannot say what they will talk about,' said a
Jakarta-based diplomat from one of the ASEAN nations. 'But I
would expect quite a lot of discussion on Myanmar.'
    The Burma issue has dominated ASEAN since the military
government in Rangoon launched a fresh crackdown on the
democracy movement of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in April.
    Western nations and human rights activists have said that
accepting Burma's application for full membership in ASEAN would
be tantamount to approving Rangoon's policies.
    ASEAN follows a strict policy of not interfering in the
internal affairs of member nations and officially maintains that
constructive engagement with Burma is the best way to achieve
political reform in that country. Isolating Rangoon would be
counter-productive, its leaders have argued.
    But last month, Philippine President Fidel Ramos said
ASEAN could review its constructive engagement policy with
Burma. Then Amnuay Viravan, then Thailand's foreign minister,
said Rangoon should introduce democracy before joining the group.
Earlier this month, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong,
whose country has made heavy investments in Burma, caused a stir
when he said he did not think Rangoon was ready for full
membership on economic grounds.
Diplomats said Malaysia and Indonesia were believed to be in
favour of quickly admitting Burma into the fold, perhaps next
year along with Cambodia and Laos, and that they expected the
issue to be thrashed out at Saturday's summit.
    Burmese leader General Than Shwe is to attend the meeting,
building on contacts in the group following a visit to Malaysia
earlier this year. Diplomats played down suggestions of sharp 
differences within the usually united ASEAN group.

 'ASEAN is very cautious but never backtracks,' said one. 'It does have 
to go through debate in reaching a consensus. It takes time, but it has its 
own merits.'
The leaders at the summit, who represent some of the fastest growing 
nations in the world, were also likely to finalise a common stand to be 
taken at the inaugural meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Singapore 
next month, diplomats said.
They said much of their position will flow from decisions taken at the 
APEC summit, which was attended by all ASEAN members except Vietnam.
But one major area of difference will be ASEAN's opposition to the linking 
of labour and human rights to trade and investment issues, the diplomats said.


November 26, 1996

A human rights foundation led by Takako Doi, Leader of the Social
Democratic Party, said Monday it will give its first award to supporters 
of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democracy
movement of Myanmar.
The Asian Human Rights Award will be given collectively to all people
who have supported Aung San Suu Kyi, rather than to specific groups or 
individuals, the foundation's award selection committee said at a news
conference in Tokyo.
The Foundation for Human Rights in Asia will hold the award ceremony Dec.
14, which will be attended by Myanmarese activists staying in Japan.
At the same ceremony, another of the foundation's human rights awards-
the Takako Doi Award--will be given to Lee Oo Chung, a long time human
rights activist in South Korea, the foundation said.
Lee became a representative for a national association of groups of
South Korean women in 1987.
The award selection committee members include writer Rokusuke Ei,
Waseda University Professor Jun Nishikawa and Saison Corp. Chairman Seiji


November 21, 1996 (excerpts)


Myanmar, China, Nigeria, Iraq, Among Countries Responding to 
Allegations of Violations             

Despite good news on the human rights front over the last few years,           
many countries based their authority not on popular consent but on coercion,
the representative of the United States told the Third Committee (Social,
Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon as it continued its discussion of
human rights issues.         

Several representatives criticized the increasing politicization of           
human rights as a tool to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign
States.  The representative of Myanmar said countries with different cultural
and social backgrounds and levels of economic development had different 
human rights priorities.  No country or group of countries should seek to
the world in their own image.  The conclusion that there was no freedom of
thought, opinion and expression in Myanmar was a travesty.  There had been
tremendous change and transformation in the country which was in turmoil 
eight years ago.               

The representative of China said that the attacks by the United States
were unfounded.  Before accusing others, America should take a look in the
mirror.  Serious human rights violations existed in the United States. 

U PE THEIN TIN (Myanmar) said renewed interest in human rights would not
benefit mankind if it was not pursued with objectivity, impartiality and non-
selectivity.  There should be respect for diversity, and the historical,
cultural, religious, social and economic backgrounds of nations.  Countries
with different cultural and social backgrounds and levels of economic
development had different priorities with regard to human rights.  No country
or group of countries should seek to reshape the world in their own image.
His Government was gravely concerned that smaller countries were singled out
for alleged violations of human rights while other countries, where human
rights abuses abound, were treated with sympathy and understanding.  Such
unequal treatment was bound to undermine human rights.  He said the 
conclusion that there was essentially no freedom of thought, opinion and 
expression in Myanmar was a travesty.  There had been tremendous change 
and transformation in the country, which was in turmoil eight years ago.  
Today, peace and stability had been restored.  With peace and stability and 
the adoption of a market economy, the country's economy was on the rise.

It was regrettable that in their clamour for human rights, the misguided
few in Myanmar and their ardent supporters abroad had chosen to ignore the
right of its people to development, he continued.  It was demeaning for any
State, organization or individual to compel investors to stay away from
Myanmar, where the political process was essentially a matter for the people
to determine by themselves.  No outsider should assume the right to comment in
any form on the working procedures of the ongoing National Convention.  One
particular party had turned its back on the forum and was insisting on a
dialogue", a stand which was supported by some countries using pressure to
manipulate developments in Myanmar to their own liking.  No country could
permit an individual or an organized group to jeopardize national           
reconciliation, or condone acts that led to a breakdown of law and order.  It
had become necessary to promulgate a law to ensure orderly and systematic
transfer of the responsibilities of the State, and the progress of the
National Convention.  Whoever violated its provisions was liable to           
imprisonment or fines.  No one had been put behind bars merely for political
beliefs.  Statements calling for the immediate and unconditional release of
all political prisoners and a dialogue with political parties and ethnic
groups were unacceptable to his Government. 

The authorities in Myanmar had their own version of reality.  They claimed 
their opponents were inspired by outsiders, when in fact the opposition was 
indigenous and deeply patriotic. Their constitutional convention was a sham, 
fully controlled and orchestrated by the Government.  They claimed to be
illegal narcotics, when, in fact, the military had turned a blind eye to the
and trafficking of drugs.  Accordingly, her government would urge the Assembly 
this year to express its strong support for democracy and human rights in
The Assembly should call for a genuine democratic dialogue, for free
assembly and 
free speech, for the release of political prisoners and for an end to forced
forced labour and forced porterage.           

Full Texts of the following press release from United Nations 
can be found on this URL - The Home page for United Nations.


November 27, 1996

     BANGKOK, Nov. 27 Kyodo - Thailand's newly appointed Prime
Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh plans to talk to Myanmar's junta to
encourage it to move toward democracy and improve that country's
human rights situation, a local English-language daily reported Wednesday.
''I will go talk to them (Myanmar's junta), let them understand
what's going on in the region, about globalization,'' Chavalit was
quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.
''The world has changed.  It's time Yangon changed with it,''
the daily quoted him as saying.
''I want to say, please listen to me.  Something is going to change.  
You can't stay like this anymore.  People are talking about human 
rights, democracy, and you still do this,'' said Chavalit, according to 
the daily.
The new prime minister set no date for his visit, but said he
would approach the generals as a ''best friend,'' the Bangkok Post said.
''Gen. Chavalit did not say whether he would ask the junta to
hold fresh elections, nor would he commit himself to blocking an
early entry for Burma (Myanmar) into the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) if his advice was rejected.  He said he would
need to take things step by step,'' the English-language daily said.
Chavalit was commander-in-chief of the Thai army from 1986 to 1990.
On Tuesday, visiting U.S. President Bill Clinton urged Thailand
to use its influence to encourage Myanmar's junta to engage in a
greater political dialogue as a move toward democracy in Myanmar.
Clinton made the statement to outgoing Thai Prime Minister Banharn
Silpa-archa during a 20-minute bilateral meeting, according to a
White House official.
Banharn was quoted as replying that Thailand has a different approach 
toward Myanmar although the two countries share a common objective, 
according to a top Thai Foreign Ministry official who attended the meeting.


November 27, 1996

   BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A day after President Clinton
criticized Burma's rulers for repression, the country's military
regime said Wednesday that the Burmese people would punish the
pro-democracy leader Clinton praised.
Commentary in Burmese newspapers reflecting the view of the
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council asserted that Nobel
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was destabilizing Myanmar, as
the regime has officially renamed the country.
``The people of Myanmar are disgusted with Suu Kyi and her
cohorts, whom they have branded as traitors and ax handles,'' the
commentary said. ``Suu Kyi and her followers will be punished by
the peace-loving Myanmar people.''
``Ax handle'' is jargon the regime uses to mean stooges of
foreign countries _ the official view of Suu Kyi _ using pressure
for democratic reforms as a way to bring Burma under foreign domination..
A mob allegedly organized by the government attacked Suu Kyi's
car on Nov. 9 with iron bars and rocks. She was unhurt. The attack
signaled a new willingness by the regime to use violence in
increasing harassment of Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy.
Referring to her brief appearance before 500 supporters at a
Rangoon intersection last week, the commentary said Suu Kyi ``hoped
to instigate unrest under the pretext of the democracy movement. No
one will accept her policy of disrupting peace and tranquility.''
   On a state visit Tuesday to Thailand, Burma's neighbor to the
east, Clinton praised the spread of democracy in Asia but singled
out Burma for strong criticism for human rights abuses and narcotics
The president praised ``the brave reformers in Burma led by Aung
San Suu Kyi'' and urged neighboring countries to support a ``true political 
dialogue in Burma _ a dialogue that will lead to a real fight against crime, 
corruption and narcotics and a government more acceptable to its people.''
Burma is the world's No. 1 producer of opium and heroin.
Later, Thailand's new prime minister, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, told reporters 
he would travel to Rangoon and try to persuade the generals to heed world 
criticism. He did not set a date.
Since September, the government has erected roadblocks to
prevent Suu Kyi from speaking to crowds that normally gather at her
home every weekend. The meetings had been the only regular contact
allowed her with the people.
Suu Kyi traveled to an intersection two kilometers (1.2 miles)
from her house Saturday and spoke to 500 supporters gathered there,
urging them to be ``courageous.'' The attack on her car Nov. 9 came
when she was traveling to the same crossroads.
One of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, a region that has boomed 
economically over the past decade, Burma has been ruled by the military 
since 1962.
Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero Aung San, emerged as
leader of the pro-democracy movement during street protests in 1988
that were bloodily suppressed by the army.
The opposition overwhelmingly won elections in 1990, but the regime never 
allowed parliament to convene. The government has rejected Suu Kyi's calls 
for dialogue since freeing her from six years of house arrest in July 1995.


November 27, 1996 
By Deborah Charles
BANGKOK, Nov 27 (Reuter) - A senior Burmese government official on 
Wednesday dismissed comments by U.S. President Bill Clinton criticising the 
military government for failing to restore democracy to the country.
'We don't really have any comment on what he said,' said the
official, who read a transcript of the speech Clinton delivered
at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University on Tuesday.
'They have been saying this for years, there's nothing new
in his speech,' he said in a telelphone interview from Rangoon.
In a speech praising most Asia-Pacific nations for bringing democracy to the 
region, Clinton singled out Burma for its failure to recognise a democratically 
elected government, saying it showed Rangoon had no rule of law.
Clinton, on a brief visit to Thailand, also criticised Burma for being the
number one opium and heroin producer.
'The role of drugs in Burma's economic and political life and the regime's
to honour its own pledge to move to multiparty democracy are really two
sides of 
the same coin, for both represent the absence of the rule of law,' he said.
'Every nation has an interest in promoting true political dialogue in Burma
-- a 
dialogue that will lead to a real fight against crime, corruption and narcotics 
and a government more acceptable to its people,' Clinton said.

    Burma's military rulers have also been accused by the United
Nations and others of human rights abuses and for suppressing basic freedoms.
In a series of crackdowns on the democracy movement, the SLORC has arrested 
and released nearly 1,000 NLD members or supporters since May for trying to 
hold meetings.

But they said more needed to be done, and noted that Clinton had stopped short 
of taking a strong stance.
'This is the first step, having the U.S. here,' said Zaw Min, a spokesman for 
the All Burma Student's Democratic Front, whose members fled Burma during 
the 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations that the military crushed.
'It is a positive step, although he didn't mention very strongly what they
do,' he told Reuters.
Washington has slapped a visa ban on senior SLORC officials and has passed 
legislation allowing Clinton to impose economic sanctions if repression in
worsens or if Suu Kyi is re-arrested.
Some democracy activists have said the recent SLORC crackdown on the NLD 
should be enough to warrant the imposition of sanctions.


November 26, 1996

AMSTERDAM, Nov 26 (Reuter) - Burma has joined the United Nations 
Common Fund for Commodities as the group's 105th member, the Amsterdam-
based organisation said on Tuesday.

The Fund is an intergovernmental financial institution established under the
aegis of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1980 to
finance commodity research and development projects.

The group said Burma would benefit from membership as it now became eligible 
for Fund financed projects.


December, 1996

1. 	Next Meeting 

Next Roundtable meeting: Tuesday, December 4, 6:30 p.m. at Franklin 
Research and Development, 711 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, 
(617) 423-6655. Our special guest will probably be Marcia Poole of the 
BBC World Service, Burmese Section.  We hope to see you there! 


On DECEMBER 11, 1996, the Reebok Human Rights Awards will be held 
in Boston. Thida Ma, one of Amnesty International's Prisoner of Conscience 
will be one of 4 individuals presented with Reebok's annual award.  Thida Ma 
is a doctor and short-story writer, aged 28, who was arrested with ten other 
activists in 1993 for activities in support of the National League for
After a closed trial the following October, she was sentenced to 20 years in
for "contact with illegal organizations, endangering public peace, and
banned literature to foreign-based opposition groups." Currently, She is in
health, and has been kept in solitary confinement for the past year.  

There will be a candle light vigal and cultural presentation on December
10th to correspond with this important event.  It will be held at Boston
Common near the Park Street T-Station from 5:00-6:00 p.m. For more
information, please contact Shalini Nataraj at (617) 868-6600, ext. 225. 

On Sunday, DECEMBER 22, 1996, a presentation on Burma will be given 
to the Ethical Society of Boston at 10:30 a.m.  They will be meeting in 
Cambridge at the Longy School of Music at 1 Follen Street, near Garden 
Street and across from the Sheraton Commander Hotel.  For more details, 
contact Ed Roseland at (617) 479-2581.

4	Update on New York  Selective Purchasing Legislation

The log jam on the New York City Burma selective purchasing bill seems to be
breaking with the release of a report on the impact of the legislation by
the Mayor's office. One contract affected by the selective purchasing bill
in New York City, if passed, would be a $1.4 million PepsiCo contract with
the Department of Corrections.  The fact that the report was released means
that the bill can now continue through the legislative process.  There will
probably be further hearings in January.  
For more information on the New York City bill, contact:

National Coalition Government of the Union Burma (NCGUB)*
Burma UN Service Office
777 UN Plaza, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017
(212) 338-0048
(212) 338-0049 fax



BurmaNet regularly receives enquiries on a number of different 
topics related to Burma. If you have questions on any of the 
following subjects, please direct email to the following volunteer 
coordinators, who will either answer your question or try to put you 
in contact with someone who can:

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Boycott campaigns: [Pepsi] ai268@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx     
Buddhism:                    Buddhist Relief Mission:  brelief@xxxxxxx
Chin history/culture:        [volunteer temporarily away]
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History of Burma:            zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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volunteering: 		refugee_help@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
World Wide Web:              FreeBurma@xxxxxxxxx

Geographical Contacts:
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[Feel free to suggest more areas of coverage]



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