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BurmaNet News: December 6, 1996

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News:  December 6, 1996
Issue # 586

Noted in Passing:

		I would like the world to know that the repression in 				Myanmar is
getting worse - Daw Aung San Suu Kyi


December 5, 1996
Rangoon, Agencies

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi remained in her compound
yesterday after authorities warned they could not guarantee her
security she left home. The warning amounted to-an order
restricting Mrs Suu Kyi's movements n the wake of the largest
protest  critical of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(Slorc) in years. It came less than a month after a mob,
allegedly organised by the government attacked her, car.

Mrs Suu Kyi protested against her confinement by the military
regime, labelling the move illegal. She was restricted her home
on Tuesday following demonstrations by students of the Yangon
Institute of Technology  in Rangoon.

"We will make it known to the authorities that we protest this
illegal confinement. Every time there is a demonstration some
people always take it as their job to put up roadblocks," Mrs Suu
Kyi told Reuters. 
She said she believed the confinement was imposed because the
student protests on Monday and early Tuesday made Slorc feel the
situation was volatile.

"But the volatile situation has nothing to do with me or the National League
for Democracy (NLD), she said, referring to her pro-democracy  party which
won elections in 1990 by a landslide but has never been allowed to rule.    

Mrs Suu Kyi denied any  links between the student protests and
the NLD, but noted that there was a "moral tie" between the
students' cause and that of her organisation as both sought
justice and human rights. 
While authorities continued to maintain she was free, NLD party
covice chairman Tin Oo denounced her confinement as "virtual
house arrest".           

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday Mrs Suu  Kyi demanded that she be permitted
to meet with party president Aung Shwe, and co-vice chairman Kyi
Maung and Tin Oo

"If you don't fulfil my wish I will rush through and go and see
them myself," he quoted the Nobel Peace laureate as saying before
the meeting was allowed.

Major Hla Min of the military's office of  strategic Studies said
authorities had simply requested that Aung San Suu Kyi stay
inside her house "for her own safety."

"She was requested not to go out because of what is happening out
side," Hla Min said.
"Yesterday she complied, but if she wished to go out, it's her
own choice."
Hundreds of students Monday began the most  defiant protest in
Burma since the ruling junta took power in 1988, marching through
Rangoon demanding students' rights, before they were forcibly
bundled into trucks by hundreds  of riot police early on Tuesday 
All 609 demonstrators, including 487 students and 122
non-students, were released Tuesday afternoon after an identity
check, said Hla Min. Witnesses had estimated that  as many as 700
people had been taken away.
While Rangoon remained quiet yesterday, diplomatic sources said
that students believed some of the demonstrators were still being
held, though they added that such reports were unconfirmed.
Students were at the forefront of the pro-democracy
demonstrations in 1988 that were crushed by the military, after
which the ruling junta called the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc) came to power.
Analysts said the  demonstration  had been a stronger expression
of general discontent with Burma's political and social system
than the sit-down protest held soon after the October incident.


December 4, 1996
Rangoon, Dec. 4: Human rights watchdog Amnesty  
International said on Wednesday that five supporters of Ms  
Aung San Suu Kyi had been detained by Burma's military  
authorities after leaving the leader's compound.  
The five youth members of Ms Suu Kyi's National League for  
Democracy were arrested on Tuesday after leaving her home,  
which has since been sealed off, the London-based group said in  
a statement received here. 
The arrests came as Burmese security forces rounded up at least  
300 student demonstrators on Tuesday when they refused to  
disperse after an overnight student protest march in Ran- goon.  
"Amnesty International considers the five to be prisoners of  
conscience, detained solely for excercising their right to free  
association," it said. 
Amnesty said it was concerned for the safety of the five, citing  
recent reports of beatings and torture of suspects detained by  
the Burmese police, adding that young people were particularly  
vulnerable to police harassment. 
Ms Suu Kyi has also been prevented from leaving her home or  
from receiving visitors.  However, analysts said Ms Sun Kyi's  
situation did not appear to be linked with the student protests.  
The students began demonstrating on Monday to demand  
action against police officers accused of beating students in  
October, the release of prisoners jailed by the military junta and  
the right to form a student union. 
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Sun Kyi said that while she  
believed the students had no political links, she supported "any  
movement which is a demonstration against police brutality."  


December 5, 1996
The Myanmar Opposition leader, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 
saying she had not been allowed to leave her home since 
Monday's student protests in Yangon, appealed on Tuesday for 
moral and practical support for her party. 
Speaking by telephone to the former Commonwealth Secretary 
General, Mr. Sonny Ramphal, in Cape Town, Ms. Suu Kyi said: 
"I would like the world to know that the repression in Myanmar 
is getting worse." 
She said she had been prevented by police from leaving her 
home since the student protests, resulting in the arrest of 300 demonstrators. 
The students were protesting against what they called unfair 
police handling of a brawl between some of their colleagues and 
restaurant owners in October. 
Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate and leader of the National 
League for Democracy (NLD). is a member of the board of Mr. 
Ramphal's Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy 
and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), which met in Cape Town. 
"We as a party are subjected to so much persecution that it is 
almost unbelievable.  We are supposed to be a legitimate party, 
duly registered, and yet we are not even allowed to do regular 
party work," she said in a call taped and played to reporters. 
"My house is barricaded off every weekend and today it is 
barricaded off and probably they will close the street for a few 
days to come.  Members of our party are subjected to very, very 
severe persecution all the time.  People are evicted from their 
homes, people have been threatened with loss of jobs and our 
elected Members of Parliament are forced to resign," she said.  
"We would welcome the moral and practical support of right-
thinking people..... she said. 
Mr. Ramphal promised to broadcast Ms. Suu Kyi's appeal 
adding "where better to send that message to the world than 
from South Africa". 


December 5, 1996 
Vithoon Amorn rangoon, reuters

Burma's biggest student demonstration since 1988 took the 
country's military rulers by surprise and was unlikely to be the
last such challenge to the government, diplomats said on Tuesday.
Nearly 2,000 students of the Yangon (Rangoon) Institute of
Technology (YIT) took part in a peaceful 20hour protest which
started on their campus on Monday before spilling into  the
streets of central Rangoon before sunrise on Tuesday.

"We were surprised by the number of students taking part in the
protest, which was much bigger than the previous ones," said one
diplomat, who declined to be identified.
"They (the government's security forces) must have been caught
unprepared and were not organised to set up roadblocks," he said.
A Western diplomat said the Rangoon government might also have
been reluctant to deal harshly with the students at a time when
it faced international criticism of its human rights record.

It's partly a problem of organising security forces and partly
restraint," he said.

The United States and some other Western countries have accused
the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) of
widespread human rights abuses, attacked a recent crackdown on
the pro-democracy movement led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi
and accused the government of involvement in the heroin trade.

The Western diplomat said although Rangoon had since returned to
its normal pace, more student-led protests could not be ruled out
in the next several months.
"You may not see another protest next week or next month but it
will likely happen again," he said.
Students had said they were protesting against what they termed
police manhandling  of colleagues involved in a brawl with
restaurant owners  in October. Diplomats said at one point the
protest displayed a clear political tone, however.
"It had a more visible political edge than the ones in October,"
said the Western diplomat. YIT students staged a smaller protest
against the handling of the brawl in October.

The diplomat referred to banners calling for human rights,
justice and fair government which did not feature in the October protest.
Another Western diplomat said for the first time since 1988, the
YIT students demanded a right to organise an independent union on
their campus.

Witnesses said some students were seen carrying a portrait of
Burma's independent hero Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi,
early on  Tuesday shortly before riot police cordoned off about
400 protesters near a d junction close to the Shwe Dagon | Pagoda
in central Rangoon.
After the October brawl, three students were arrested temporarily
and two ordered not to attend classes.

A spokesman for Slorc said on Tuesday two policemen involved in
the student arrests had been fired and given two-year jail sentences.

Some students protested that the police punishment was too
lenient compared with a seven-year jail term facing convicted
armed pick-pockets.
Senior Slorc officials declined to confirm the number of students
briefly detained on Tuesday but claimed all were released later
after their identity papers were checked.

YIT campus sources said about 81 students who had participated in
the protest reported back to their school by late Tuesday
morning. They could not say how many were still absent.


December 4, 1996

BANGKOK, Dec. 4 (UPI) _ Burmese students protesting the detention of
hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Rangoon earlier in the week have
staged a rally outside the Burmese embassy in Bangkok.

The gathering included several key members of the All Burma Students
Democratic Front and the Independent Karen National Students Organization.

An estimated 2,000 Burmese students took to the streets in Rangoon on Monday
to protest the police handling of a brawl in which three students had been
detained in late October.

The protest continued throughout the night and ended only when police
removed a reported 700 demonstrators in trucks. A spokesman for the State
Law and Order Restoration Council later claimed that all had been released
after their papers were checked.

Leader of the Bangkok protest Saw Pai Htoo Chit, who is secretary- general
of the Karen group, together with other Burmese students in exile staged
their protest for over an hour outside the Burmese embassy.

Signs saying ``We support student movement in Burma'' and ``Release all
political prisoners'' were placed at the embassy gates as guards and police
looked on.


December 5, 1996

   TOKYO (AP) _ Burmese democracy advocates protested briefly in
front of the Burmese Embassy Wednesday, demanding that the nation's
junta release students detained after protests in Rangoon, police said.

   In Tokyo, about 30 Burmese supporters stood in front of the
embassy for about 10 minutes with their mouths taped shut, said a
police official. No arrests were made at the peaceful
demonstration, he added.
A letter handed through the gates of the embassy expressed
support for the protesters in Burma, and urged the country's
military rulers to release everyone taken into custody, according
to a police report.
The letter said the Tokyo demonstrators taped their mouths shut
to dramatize what it called the use of force to silence Burmese


December 5, 1996

Burmese journalists working for the foreign media condemned the
beating of one of their colleagues by police while he was
covering this week's student street protests.

Myo Thant, a reporter for the Japanese newspaper  Yomiuri
Shinbun, was beaten up early on Tuesday as police dispersed about
400 demonstrating students from the Yangon Institute of
Technology (YIT) in central Rangoon, the Foreign Correspondents
Club of Myanmar (FCCM) said.

The FCCM, which groups 18 Burmese journalists working for foreign
news agencies and publications, complained to the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) that Myo Thant, 40, was
beaten despite his attempts to identify himself as a journalist.

"The FCCM strongly condemned the brutal and humiliating act of
the security personnel on member U Myo T ant, while he was on
legal routine news coverage duty, and decided to ask the
authorities to take appropriate action against the security
personnel involved," the FCCM said in a statement.

Myo Thant's family said yesterday he had been admitted to
hospital for medical checks.

He had earlier told the FCCM that he was detained by security
personnel for about three hours along with other protesting students.

The demonstrators were protesting what they called unfair police action.


December 5, 1996

	The United States cautioned Myanmar military rulers Tuesday against
harming protesters involved in the country's biggest student demonstration
since 1988.
	"We are calling upon the SLORC to respect the rights of the 
demonstrators to assemble peacefully in the streets of the city and to 
express their views," said State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns.
	"We believe that no harm should come to them," Burns told reporters.
The Myanmar government should listen to students and to the opposition NLD,
led by Aung San Suu Kyi," and engage in a systematic conversation with them 
about the future of the country," he said.
	Washington has slapped a visa ban on senior SLORC officials and has
passed legislation allowing U.S President Bill Clinton to impose economic
santions if repression in Myanmar worsens.


December 4, 1996

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The Clinton administration and other major powers put
profits ahead of human rights, weakening efforts to stop offenses around the
world this year, a U.S. human rights group charged Wednesday.

But the group, Human Rights Watch, credited growing consumer aversion to
products made under harsh labor conditions for helping to counter the trend.

In its "World Report 1997," the group slammed governments and organizations,
including the United States, Japan, the European Union, and the World Bank,
for claiming that their trade and political policies would eventually
bolster human rights in countries like China, Bosnia and Russia.

"The most disturbing trend that we saw in the last year was that the major
powers repeatedly deferred the immediate promotion of human rights in the
name of often dubious long-term strategies,"said Kenneth Roth, executive
director of the group.

"While quite willing to exert economic pressure in the name of human rights
on poor states like Burundi, Cuba, Libya, or Sudan, they acquiesced in
abuses by economically attractive countries like China, Indonesia, Mexico,
Nigeria , and Saudi Arabia," the group said in its seventh annual report,
which covered human rights developments in 74 countries.

Roth singled out the Clinton administration for failing to use its leverage
on trade issues with China to spur Beijing to release political dissidents
and religious activists.

"The Clinton administration simply collapsed," he said. "Chinese officials
were given every reason to conclude that for the rest of the world, access
to Chinese markets far outweighs concern for the rights of Chinese citizens."

In Bosnia, the report slammed Washington and the European Union for dropping
their pursuit of war criminals and endorsing "seriously compromised" elections.

"The major powers squandered a historic opportunity to create an
international system of justice for the most culpable human rights abuses,"
Roth said, referring to Bosnia and Rwanda.

In Russia, atrocities in Chechnya went unchecked, the group said. "Instead,
at the height of Russia's renewed slaughter of civilians in Chechnya, the
Council of Europe ignored its own human rights standards to admit Russia as
a member, and the International Monetary Fund awarded Russia a $10 billion

In the Middle East, the Clinton administration tolerated arbitrary arrests
by the Palestinian and Israeli authorities and Syrian repression of
dissidents in order to save the peace process, the report said. But it added
that the human rights abuses themselves created an air of mistrust that
undermined peace talks.

Human Rights Watch hailed positive steps in several countries, including
South Korea, South Africa, India and Guatemala, where governments brought
people to justice for the first time for abuses committed by officials in
the past.

The most favorable trend was in consumer pressure on companies that used
sweatshops and child workers or damaged the environment, Roth said. The best
responses came from the apparel industry, where brand name image was
essential, he said, pointing to Levi Strauss and Co and Liz Claiborne as
examples. Oil and minerals companies had been less willing to change.

Because of the impact of consumers, Human Rights Watch is now putting
significant effort into investigating human rights practices of
multinationals around the world, including French oil giant Total and
U.S.-based Unocal, which are working on a gas pipeline in Burma, British
Petroleum in Colombia, and Royal Dutch/Shell in Nigeria, Roth said.


December 5, 1996 (Thailand Times)
by Assawin Pinihvong

TAK Burma' s military junta has delivered an ultimatum to the
Karen rebels yesterday, demanding they surrender unconditionally,
a Thai military source said yesterday.

The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) recently sent
an ultimatum to Gen Bo Mya, leader of the Karen National Union
(KNU), demanding that his group lay down their arms and give up
fighting the military government.

The SLORC also demanded the KNU sign a peace agreement with the
government as other minority groups the Kachin and Mon  have done
and cooperate in developing the country.

Rangoon's ultimatum came days after the latest round of peace talk with 
the KNU failed to reach substantial progress.

According to the source, who asked not to name him, the SLORC has
offered to provide accommodation, private car and maids in
Rangoon to Bo Mya like other minority group leaders, should he
agrees to surrender.

However, the source said, the KNU leader rejected the demands
and vowed never to surrender.

Meanwhile, a KNU senior official has welcomed an idea to have
Thai army chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro act as middleman between
the two sides, but confirmed the KNU still clings to its original

The KNU's demands include setting up of territory under its
control and equal rights for the Karen people. 


December 5, 1996

RANGOON - Thailand's Central Group, operator of department store and hotel
chains, this week officially opened its 132-room floating hotel, moored at a
waterfront in western Rangoon.

Food and beverage manager Paiboon Sari said the four-decked floating hotel
enjoyed an average 50 per cent occupancy rate, up from about 30 per cent in
July 1995 when it first opened for business.

He said Burma's Visit Myanmar Year, which started last month, would bring
more foreign tourists to Rangoon.

Paiboon said the Central Group invested about Bt300 million (US$12 million)
in the Finnish-built hotel. (TN)


December 3, 1996 (Editorial)

   Tonight City Council members will stray from local issues such as
bike paths or speed bumps, and turn their sights halfway around the
world. On the agenda is a proposal to establish Boulder's formal
boycott of corporations doing business with Burma.
   Despite the fact some folks snicker at the 'People's Republic of
Boulder' entertaining a foreign policy, we urge support of the proposal.
It is in Boulder's best interests, and it will make a difference in the
fight against human-rights abuses.
   Boulder and other U.S. cities are directly affected by a Burmese
regime responsible for more than 60 percent of America's heroin
supply. Boulder should be especially concerned since heroin sales have
reportedly increased on its streets (Daily Camera, Nov. 15).
   Drug production has more than doubled since the military junta took
control of Burma in 1988. The junta, called SLORC (State Law and
Order Restoration Council), was born out of a bloody massacre of
Burmese citizens who were peacefully protesting 26 years of single-
party rule. Thousands of demonstrators were killed, jailed and
tortured. Bodies were hastily disposed of in a crematorium - some
demonstrators were still alive.
   SLORC remains in power after throwing out the results of Burma's
1990 elections, in which 80 percent of Burma's parliamentary seats
were captured by a democratic party (National League for Democracy).
NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and was
not released until 1995.
   Last month a car carrying Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with rocks
thrown by a mob working for the junta. Her followers and activists in
the states fear for her life now more than ever.
   Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Laureate and daughter of a general who
liberated Burma. She represents what other countries don't offer - an
   Burma's unique situation has led eight U.S. cities and Massachusetts
to pass proposals that prohibit spending taxpayers' dollars on
companies that do business in Burma.
   Boulder would be joining a growing number of grassroots groups in
sending a message to corporate boardrooms. And that message speaks
to the bottom line in the same language which finally brought the
release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
   Oil companies (Total, Unocal, Texaco) are the biggest financial
supporters of Burma's brutal regime. A project is well underway to
extract and transport natural gas using a pipeline 40 miles off Burma's
coast. The military will reap $400 million each year from the gas.
   And don't think that those funds will help the country's sick, poor
and uneducated. More than 50 percent of Burma's budget goes to the
military to purchase arms (despite a lack of outside enemies). A
meager 2 percent goes to education and less to health care.
   The pipeline is both the country's largest potential source of liquid
funds, and the largest source of conflict between the military and pro-
democracy groups. And like others in the past, this venture is being
linked to slave labor and destruction of villages.
   Oil companies either flatly deny abuses or claim political neutrality.
It's impossible to deny first-person accounts pouring out of refugee
camps or from the pages of human rights organizations' reports. One
mother with a newborn was forced to work on a road project to
benefit the military and Unocal. An impatient soldier couldn't stand
for the mother to take feeding breaks, and threw the baby into a
nearby fire.
   Boulder's City Council isn't being asked to support sending troops or
even killing the pipeline. It is being asked to say that Boulder
recognizes Burma's democratically elected government, and only that
government can sell the country's natural resources to benefit all of
the people.


December 5, 1996 (editorial)

Burma's claim that it is the victim in the international narcotics trade is
unconvincing. Rangoon says drug trafficking has its rots in colonialism.
Apart from the historical inaccuracy of the claim, Burma continues to miss
the pint. It sown failures are a major reason for drug problems both at home
and abroad.

It is a popular defence these days to claim sympathy as a victims. The
criminal from the broken family, the killer who was driven to temporary rage
have become standard sights in courtrooms and police lockups around the world.

Also common is the government claiming to be the victim of heartless
neighbours or history when it abuses its citizens or makes war. Sometime,
people and small nations are victims, no doubt. And sometimes they are not.

Burma's latest line on illicit drugs stresses the claim that the nation has
been victimised. There were no drugs until the British colonised Burma,
according to recent statements from Slorc and its media. The always
entertaining New Light of Myanmar newspaper, in recent articles, has made
the interesting claim that poppy plantations only appeared after 1885, when
the British subdued the country.

There was no smoking of opium in Burma until after the British took over.
Not only that, but the nation is still trying to shed its colonial legacy
and this is why Rangoon is sometimes a little slow to react to drug problems.

It won't wash. Historical documents from centuries before British
colonisation show that opium poppies flourished in the area now known as
Burma. Not only that, but there are many such documents showing that use of
opium was widespread as medicine, including by Burmese monarchs. Colonialism
was a vicious system imposed unjustly upon Burma and elsewhere. But the
colonialists did not bring opium to Burma.

Nor has colonialism been a problem for Burma for quiet some time. Burma has
been an independent nation for many decades. Its regimes have forged a
series of policies. In Burma, not only did foreigners fail to influence the
policies, but successive Rangoon regimes have gone to great lengths to keep
out all foreign influence.

The truth about the narcotics trade in that Burma lags far behind its
neighbors and most of the world in dealing with this deadly problem. It was
written - on its own - some extremely harsh laws against drug trafficking.
it has joined - as an independent country - a number of treaties and
organisations against illicit drugs. No colonialist government or other
foreign country has victimised Burma during this process.

The media in Burma claim Slorc is committed to the  fight against drug
production and trafficking. The same media print statistics which show
another story. According to the Burmese press, between September 1988 and
the end of 1995, authorities seized 13,808 kg of opium and 1,815 kg of
heroin. Given the internationally accepted average yearly production of
2,000 tons of poppy, Burma produced at least 14 million kg of opium, enough
to make 1.4 million kg of heroin during that period. So Slorc has seized
about .001 percent of heroin produced.

Burma has made much of the fact it has signed drug agreements with its
neighbours, including Thailand, China, India, Laos and Bangladesh. All these
pacts aim at reducing production of drugs, interrupting the smuggling of
narcotics, and catching and punishing the international criminals who profit
from the trade. It is early in the day to make a final judgment, perhaps,
but so far Burma has made little progress in these goals.

Slorc's claim that it is a victim is far from credible. By attempting to lay
the blame on others, and on its legacy, Burma seeks to deny responsibility
for its own actions. It is time Slorc started working seriously to help its
own citizens and its neighbours with the serious narcotics problems both
face. (BP)


December 6, 1996

Tuesday, December 10, 1996 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Boston Common, near Park Street T Station
(Will be held at the Paulist Center, 5 Park Street in inclement weather)

A Candle-light Vigil is being held for Burmese prisoner of conscience
Dr. Ma Thida, recipient of the 1996 Reebok Human Rights Award. Ma Thida,
a physician and well known fiction writer is a prisoner of conscience in
Burma. She served as a campaign aide to Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu
Kyi, in the Burmese people's struggle for democracy and human rights.
During student protests in 1988, Thida risked her life to treat
demonstrators injured by the military. In 1993, she was arrested for
distributing leaflets and campaigning for democratic change. She was
convicted in a secret trial and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Dr. Ma
Thida is being held in solitary confinement and has serious health
problems but has not received adequate medical treatment.

Please join the candle-light vigil and learn more about the human
rights situation in Burma. Participate in the CALL TO ACTION
campaign to free Ma Thida.