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BurmaNet News: December 4, 1996

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The BurmaNet News: December 4, 1996


December 3, 1996
By Vithoon Amorn

    RANGOON, Dec 3 (Reuter) - Burmese police detained some 300 students just
before sunrise on Tuesday after night-long street protests in the heart of
the capital, witnesses said.
Hours later police again blocked off access to opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi's residence on University Avenue in Rangoon to prevent her
supporters from going to meet her, witnesses said.
Suu Kyi was due to hold a news conference at 1.00 p.m. but with the
blockades up again, it appeared unlikely that foreign media could get to see
her, the witnesses said.
Monday night's street protests were the worst since the 1988 student-led
pro-democracy uprisings which the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC) crushed and in which thousands were killed or imprisoned.
There were no reports of violence in the latest demonstrations.
Witnesses said the students refused an order to disperse when cornered by
police near the central Shwe Dagon pagoda after a march that began on Monday
at Yangon (Rangoon) Institute of Technology (YIT), and were taken away by truck.
Those detained were part of a group of 400 who gathered near the pagoda
between 5.00 and 6.00 a.m. while the rest had agreed to disperse after the
The fate of those detained was not clear and police were not available for
immediate comment.
The protest began on Monday when some 1,500 students angry over police
handling of a brawl in October between YIT students and restaurant owners
marched from YIT to Rangoon University.
The demonstration had moved on Monday night from YIT to a busy road
intersection where the crowd had fallen to about 1,000.
The protesters sang the national anthem and carried banners saying "We don't
want unfair government" and continued the demonstration there, disrupting
"This is not political. We simply want to make known our demand for justice
and human rights," a student had told Reuters on Monday.
Another student leader said earlier that the protesters were not linked to
any political party and they had no intention of politicising the protest.
The demonstrators were upset over police handling of the brawl in October
and had accused police of unfair treatment after three students were
temporarily arrested and two ordered not to attend classes.
The students are also annoyed by leaflets distributed on their campuses by
people claiming to be students urging their classmates to improve their
behaviour and not to get involved in activities that could disrupt their
Student leaders earlier turned down government offers to negotiate with
senior education ministry officials.
"We demanded to talk to someone with real authority like Secretary One," one
said, referring to Khin Nyunt of the ruling SLORC.
The United States and other Western countries have accused the SLORC of
widespread human rights abuses and criticised its crackdown on the
pro-democracy movement led by Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi.
Student leaders said at the height of the protest on Monday that nearly
2,000 of the YIT's estimated 4,500 students took part in the demonstration,
the biggest since the brawl in October.


December 3, 1996

   RANGOON, Dec 3 (Reuter) - Burma's military government said on
Tuesday that most of the students held after night-long street
protests in capital Rangoon had been released after their
identities were checked.
    Witnesses had earlier told Reuters up to 300 students were
taken away just before sunrise in police trucks after they had
refused to disperse following a march through central Rangoon in
early hours of the morning.
    "They were not detained or faced any charges. They were
simply held briefly to sort out whether they were real students
or infiltrators," said a spokesman for the ruling State Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
    "After paper checks, they were sent back to their school and
hostels because we want them to continue their peaceful
studies," he told reporters after the monthly SLORC press
briefing. He gave no further details.
    Those held briefly were part of a group of 400 who had
gathered near the central Shwe Dagon pagoda after a march that
began at the Yangon Institute of Technology (YIT) and moved on
into the heart of the capital early on Tuesday.


December 4, 1996
by Shigefumi Takasuka, Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

Bangkok -- A local news assistant covering student demonstrations for The
Yomiuri Shimbun in Yangon was attacked by police and detained for more than
four hours by military authorities early Tuesday.

Myo Thant, a 39-year-old Myanmar national, was hit in the head and back more
than 20 times by more than 10 club-wielding policemen after passing through
a blockade line set up by authorities, he said.

Thant said he obtained approval from police to enter the cordoned-off area
to cover student demonstrations near the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

Police beat him even after repeated explanations that he was covering the
demonstrations as a news assistant for The Yomiuri Shimbun.  Police
continued to beat him even after he showed them a press identity card issued
by the Information Ministry, he said.

The policemen then detained Thant and his driver in a police truck for about
two hours before taking them to Yangon military district headquarters.

Thant was released after he identified himself to military intelligence

The authorities did not explain the attack on Thant, or why they detained
him, to The Yomiuri Shimbun


December 3, 1996

The deputy chief of the National Security Council yesterday urged the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to hold talks with Burma on
permanently ending the movement of Burmese to the Thai border.

NSC Deputy Secretary-General Khachadpai Burusapatana said direct contact
would be the most effective means of tacking the problem.

"I would like to see the UNHCR have a dialogue with and play an active role
with the Burmese government to ensure the return of Burmese displaced
persons to their country," he said.

He was speaking at a seminar entitled "the Status of Thai Immigration Law
and The Post-Cold War Period with Respect to Displaced persons".

The one-day forum was organised by the Asian Research Centre for Migration
and the UNHCR to review Thailand's laws and policies, and conditions of
displaced persons living in Thailand.

Other UN agencies have to join forces in an "offensive strategy" to improve
political and economic conditions in Burma which will be a preventive
measure, Khachadpai said.

The NSC official said the constructive engagement policy of Thailand and
other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is aimed at
persuading the Burmese government to improve the situation in its country.

Once the situation is improved they will go back to their country, he said
of the Burmese living at the border.

"The Western approach will never succeed. The more pressure there is, the
more the Burmese will flee to Thailand," he said.

Mae Hong Son governor Puckdee Chompuuming agreed to the call, saying the
international community "should help Burma, and that will end this problem".

Thailand houses some 100,000 Burmese have fled the conflict to Thai camps
near the border with Burma.

Thailand insists they are not refugees and treats them as displaced persons,
so that the UNHCR is not allowed to be involved.

The country allows only non-government organisations to provide them with
humanitarian assistance.

Lt-Gen Sanan Kajornklam of the Supreme Command said that there would be
improvements in the next few years as a result of Burma joining Asean.

Thailand would be able to use Asean as a forum to talk to Burma to bring the
Burmese back after it becomes a member of the grouping, he said. 

Asean leaders of  Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam, at their informal meeting on Saturday in Singapore,
agreed to admit Burma to the grouping at the same time as Cambodia and Laos,
without specifying a time-frame. (BP)


December 3, 1996

Thailand is to mediate in talks between the Karen National Union and Burma's
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) according to Army
Commander-in-Chief Gen Chestha Thanajaro.

He said Rangoon asked for the mediation, but added that the talks would not
be held in Bangkok.

According to Gen Chestha, a ceasefire between the two parties would benefit
Thailand as it shares a border with Burma. As neighbours, Thailand has
employed constructive engagement with Burma, he said.

Other countries should come to understand this stance because the two
countries have hundreds of kilometres of common border, he said.

Thailand cannot avoid dealing with the Slorc, and Thailand had
government-to-government contact with Burma, he said.

Slorc is the legitimate Burmese government, he claimed. Thailand will not
meddle with its neighbour's internal affairs, he said.

Ceasefire talks between the KNU and Slorc are under way following an
invitation by the junta, which sent Lt Khun Mya, Prof Tun Aung Gyi and Aye
Saw Myint to meet KNU President Bo Mya in Mae Sot in September. (BP)


November 29, 1996

ONE AREA OF critical interest to India on which New Delhi can usefully probe
the mind of the visiting Chinese President, Mr. Jiang Zemin, is Myanmar, or
Burma, which shares a common border with both countries and had in the past
proved a haven for tribal insurgents from the North-East. It has been one
long period of darkness for that country, suffering in the decade soon after
independence under the disastrous policies of a paranoid dictator who chose
to seal the country off and now under the boot of a junta that refuses to
heed the call of the international community. 

The State Law and Order Restoration Council [SLORC] knows that its days are
numbered but, like the proverbial drowning man, clings to the fond hope that
its few benefactors can still save it. One country providing a protective
shield is China. Beijing has, no doubt, been religiously denying any such
connections but it is unthinkable that it expects nothing at all in return
for its heavy economic and diplomatic investment in the SLORC regime. Such
altruism is alien to present day international politics.

China has given considerable economic and financial assistance to successive
regimes in Myanmar since the middle of the Eighties. It has built a
strategic roadway which has seen a steady flow of military hardware to help
prop up the
 lately-beleaguered regime in Yang on. In return -- or for whatever
undramatic consideration -- China has been allowed  to have listening posts
on the Great Coco island off the  Andamans for surveillance of the sea
route. It is also said
to be developing harbours that can, if the need arises, serve military
purposes. Weaning Myanmar from the Chinese was in fact one of the basic
postulates of the Association of South East Asian Nations' policy of
constructive engagement of the military regime. A majority of the members of
the Asean now acknowledge that the policy has been a failure. It has only
served to increase the clout of the junta, the military cornering all the
benefits of the investment flow emanating from the Asian grouping and Japan.
The China card still seems to have currency. The military regime displays
few signs that the mild pressure that the United States has been applying is
impacting at all. The U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton's advice to the
regime to resume its suspended dialogue with
the democracy leader, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, is therefore needed and timely.
It contained no explicit warning but, with Washington coming under
increasing pressure from domestic public opinion to act to end the
repression and human rights violations in Myanmar, sanctions are the next
step. After the regime's shameful display of intolerance earlier this month
when it did everything in its vast power to neutralise Ms. Suu Kyi, the
international community is left with no option. The European Union, which
from the beginning was opposed to the policy of constructive engagement, may
soon impose sanctions to block exports to the EU from Myanmar. By themselves
sanctions may not help restore democracy and end the repression but they can
be an effective tool to twist the junta's arm and hit where it hurts most,
the purse. The military regime, for all its longevity, is basically unstable
and sustains itself through artificial props, indigenous and imported.
India, with its historic connections to the people of Myanmar and its vital
interest in peace in the region close to the North-East, has in the past
year been moving to resume trade and commercial contacts across the border.
It must persuade China to help effect a peaceful change in Myanmar. 
Democracy-led political stability in that country will have a beneficial
fallout in the whole region. 


December 3, 1996

At the end of its informal summit in Jakarta, the Association of Southeast
Asian nations (Asean) decided that it will admit Burma into the regional
grouping, though the question of timing still remains.

Burma's military regime, the so-called State law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc) had hoped to be a full member by next year but has not
helped its case by continuing to crack down on pro-democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi.

Although Asean is not a bastion of democracy, some of its members like
Thailand and the Philippines are finding it increasing difficult to defend
the Burmese generals in Rangoon. Yet, Malaysia's Prime Minster Mahathir
Mohamad remains adamant that Asean's policy of constructive engagement has
yielded results. "You may have noticed that the Burma of today, or the
Myanmar of today, is quite different from the Myanmar of many years ago. And
we claim that it is because of our constructive engagement that Myanmar has
changed. So if anybody says that constructive engagement has got no effect
on Burma, or Myanmar, then they must be thoroughly blind," Mahathir said at
a press conference in Jakarta.

That view is certainly not shared by many Western nations. But here again,
Mahathir is resolute. He has stated that Asean was not in the business of
giving assurance of the West. And that in any case, the regional grouping
does not really care what others in the world think.

This is unfortunate as Asean now is perceived as a grouping dictated by
authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia. Mahathir, together with his
Indonesian counterpart President Suharto wants Burma to be included, along
with Laos and Cambodia, in order to fulfill the Asean's founding fathers'
vision of a united 10-member Asean by the grouping's 30th anniversary next year.

But Asean will have to pay a price for the inclusion of Burma. The
Slorc-ruled Burma will undoubtedly be an embarrassment for the regional
grouping with the ongoing human rights abuses there and the current pariah
status the junta has within the international community.

Before Mahathir's press conference, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Ali Alatas
went one step further and said the internal situation of a "prospective
member" will not be criterion of its acceptance of the country. "If internal
affairs become our consideration, it means that Asean intervenes in the
internal affairs of other countries," said Alatas.

It is with strong intentions that Indonesia made in this statement.
Jakarta's rule over East Timor has been harshly condemned by the
international community. And the Asean warning, issued to Portugal on
Saturday that Lisbon's position o East Timor was "aggravating" relations
between Asean and the European Union, was a moral victory for Indonesia. But
the fact of the matter is that the differences one Asean member has with
another country becomes the common quarrel of the regional grouping. So much
for preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution in the region. It's
interesting to note how successfully Indonesia, with the aid of Malaysia,
has been at "exporting" the principle of see no evil, speak no evil to its
neighbouring countries.

But it seems that there might be something to Asean's constructive
engagement after all. The transfer of ideas has not been a one-way flow.
Just as Slorc-sponsored hooligans were destroying cars in Suu Kyi's
motorcade early last month, goons from Mahathir's Umno's youth wing stormed
into a Kuala Lumpur hotel and disrupted the Asia Pacific Conference on East
Timor, much to the delight of Indonesia.

Sad to say, the direction Asean is now heading seems to be led by
unregulated force. Goons with guns rule rather than the rule of law and
respect for democracy. (TN)


December 2, 1996

    WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuter) - A U.S.-funded radio station
began beaming short-wave broadcasts to Tibet on Monday in a
move certain to annoy China.
    Radio Free Asia, as the station is known, said it was
broadcasting half-hour Tibetan-language news shows, updated
three times daily, to the Himalayan land where Chinese troops
crushed a popular uprising in 1959.
    Tibetan marks the second language service of the station,
created by Congress as an Asian counterpart to the
anti-communist Radio Free Europe and set up as a private
corporation. The station aired its first programmes in Chinese
on Sept. 29.
    Beijing has blasted Radio Free Asia as a "Cold War
propaganda" machine and accused it of interference in China's
internal affairs.
* The station, which does not disclose the location of its
* transmitters to avoid embarrassment to its hosts, next year
* plans to phase in local-language broadcasts to Burma, North
* Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
    Its mission, under the 1994 International Broadcasting
Act, is to provide accurate and timely information, news and
commentary about events in countries where "people do not
fully enjoy freedom of expression."


November 28, 1996

U Saw Oo Reh of the National League for Democracy [NLD], a member of the
People'sAssembly in Hpru-so Township Constituency, Kayah State,
elected during the Multiparty Democratic General Elections,
citing old age and poor health, has, of his own volition,
submitted his resignation to withdraw as elected representative.

In accordance with Section 11, Subsection E, of the 
People's Assembly Election Law, the Multiparty Democratic 
General Election Commission has accepted his resignation 
effective today


November 24, 1996 (The New Light of Myanmar)

YANGON [Rangoon], 23 Nov--The 79th anniversary of Kayin [Karen] Baptist
Council wasobserved at Kayin Baptist Theological Institute on Seminary 
Hill in Insein Township this morning.Speaking on the occasion,
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt [secretary-1 of the State Law and Order
Council] said it was a rare chance to attend the ceremony to mark the
anniversary of Kayin Baptist Council. He said Myanmar [Burma] is the Union
inhabited by 135 national races collectively and unitedly and they have
lived through thick and thin for years countable by thousands, he said.
The Secretary-1 spoke of freedom of religion in Myanmar and noted that all
nationals can therefore hold the ceremonies relating to their religions
successfully well. Last year, he said, he attended the ceremony of Kachin
Baptist Council at the invitation of U Za Bwe John who was carrying out
peace tasks together with him and thus got chance to cordially meet the
national brethren. The country had become a colony for over 100 years due to
lack of national unity and independence was regained in 1948 due to united
and harmonious endeavours of the nationals, he said. He said that though
independence was regained, internal insurgencies emerged and even though the
successive governments had striven to restore internal peace, their
efforts were in vain. Since the time it assumed national duties, the State
Law and Order Restoration Council has striven to restore peace throughout
the country to terminate armed struggles which broke out due to suspicions
among the nationals and also due to ideological differences, he noted.

He explained that peace negotiations have been held with the armed groups
for three years to wipe out ideological differences and that after realizing the
Government's goodwill and attitude, 15 national races armed groups and
another one group, which had renounced its drug trafficking, have now
returned to the legal fold and are participating in regional development
tasks hand in hand with the Government. At present, only one national race
armed group remains in Kayin State [Karen National Union] and efforts are
now being made for that group to return to the legal fold, he said and hoped
that the aims will be realized if open negotiations could be made without
external interference.
He said that brethren of the nationalities had suffered miseries and could
not enjoy the fruits of independence and that efforts are thus being made for
prevalence of peace in the entire country. He elaborated on the efforts for
emergence of a modern and developed nation, laying down national objectives
and  leading the nation on the path to democracy, noting that the nation is
not in servitude of any nation and a disciplined democracy in conformity
with cultures, traditions and religions of over 45 million people and the
nation's history
will be established. He stated that in adopting a system suitable to the
nation, no outside interference will be accepted and works will be done on
self-reliance, speaking of the need for the entire nation to be united to
prevent the nation from
disintegration owing to external subversions and for all national brethren
to be consolidated for mustering forces within the country firm and strong
and to uphold centuries-old good tradition of working together in weal or woe.
He called for collaborated and united efforts of all nationalities for
restoration of peace in the entire country and building the nation to emerge
modern and developed with self- reliance. 


December 2, 1996

We, Democratic Burmese Students Organization (DBSO-USA), Committee for
Restoration of  Democracy in Burma (CRDB), National Coalition Government of
Union of Burma (NCGUB), Chin National Council (CNC), friends and  Burmese
communities in U.S. will hold a peaceful demonstration in front of Burmese
Embassy in Washington, DC on December 3, 1996 at 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

On December 2, 1996, 1,500 students from Rangoon University and Rangoon
Institute of  Technology (RIT) held a peaceful protest on demanding Burmese
authority to allow two excluded students, who were ordered not to attend
their classes due to participated in October protests, to be returned to
their classes and to explain whether the police, who brutally beaten three
students at the Insein Police Station in October, were punished. 

We, hereby, denounce such lawlessly treating the students and demand Burmese 
authority to allow the two students to be  included their classes in order
to achieve their educational goals. 

We, hereby, urge present ruling junta, Slorc, to expel its malice aforethought 
behavior of divide and rule policy  among the students in university and
campuses all over Burma that Slorc allows a group of students to contribute
leaflets. The leaflets only insult the students and urge to change their
behaviors of being "traitors."  If Slorc will not give up its maliciousness,
it is only Slorc's 
responsibility of creating to clash bloody violence in Burma, including


Times:			: 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Date:			: December 3, 1996
Place:			: Burmese Embassy, 2300 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008

Contact:		: DBSO (301) 984-6271, 770-1499
			: CRDB (703) 834-5670
			: CNC (301) 499-0499		



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