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BurmaNet News: December 13, 1996

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The BurmaNet News:  December 13, 1996
Issue # 591


December 12, 1996

10 am, 11th December, more than 400 students including medical
students who wearing white shirts and green longyi, have demonstrated in a 
sit-in protest in front of the No. (2) Institute of Medicine in Rangoon. 

2 pm, 11th December in downtown Rangoon, more than 100 medical
students have staged a sit-in protest against the Slorc military
regime in front of the No.(1) Institute of Medicine.

Now, all the high schools and universities and colleges are shut
down in Burma by the Slorc military regime without any
announcement in state run newspapers, on radio and television.

11th December, 20 military trucks full of soldiers are in the
position of alert and being lined up in front of the Rangoon city
hall, 300 meter opposite of US embassy.

11th December, the military, riot police trucks and some army
ambulance cars are patrolling in Rangoon.

At the moment, it is very difficult to make phone calls
between Rangoon and Mandalay, second city of Burma. 

Now, the main strategy of the Slorc is to cut any kind of
communication system between present student demonstrators and 
experienced 1988 students and the citizens.

There are some hit and run demonstrations in Mandalay by 
students and Buddhist monks.

It is heard that more than 200 lawyers in Burma around the
country have had their licences banned by the Slorc military
regime since 1989.

Since 5th December, altogether 6 foreign journalists have been
deported  from Rangoon to Bangkok by the Slorc military
intelligence. One is from Norway and another from Holland. The
rest of four are still unknown.      


December 12, 1996

RANGOON -Aung San Suu Kyi remained confined to her home yesterday
as the Burmese junta told embassies that the pro democracy leader
might take advantage of student demonstrations.

Amid reports of a brief demonstration outside the US embassy
overnight, Rangoon missions received a Foreign Ministry statement
yesterday saying that authorities had requested the National
League for Democracy (NLD) leader to stay inside her compound
"for her own safety until the situation returns to normal " 
"Since it is likely that she may try and take advantage of the
situation and that some international media may be misled by her
claims, the true fact is that the authorities have asked for her
cooperation in true sincerity, it said. 

Yesterday morning, about 10 NLD members were escorted by security
officials to her compound on University Avenue which is still
blockaded for a meeting originally to be held at the NLD
headquarters about two kilometers away, a source within the
house told Agence France Presse by telephone. The NLD leader has
not left home since Saturday.

Student protesters have said their demonstrations are non-
political, and customarily chant the name of the late Burmese
independence hero and father of the armed forces, Aung San, and
not his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi.

Yesterday, witnesses and diplomats said Burmese security forces
late on Tuesday arrested about 20 students amid scattered
protests in the capital Rangoon.

They were among a group of 50 Rangoon University students who
staged a brief anti-government protest in front of the US Embassy
in the centre of the city at 10 pm.

About 20 of them were still unaccounted for and believed to be
under detention, they said, adding that a further 30
demonstrators were missing following a march from Kyimyindine
college in downtown Rangoon on Monday.

Government confirmation was not immediately available. 

On Tuesday, students from university and high schools staged
protests in several locations across the city but face mounting
problems in grouping together. 

There is stringent security, including a blockade of several
square kilometers surrounding the main university campus, while
students also face pressure to return home after the suspension
of classes on Monday.

While their educational institutions remain officially open,
students have been requested to submit a leave application for two weeks.

Parents and families face repercussions such as the withdrawal of
business licences if their children are caught demonstrating,
said students, who also fear government infiltration of their ranks.

More than 100 students at a medical school in central Rangoon
shouted anti-government slogans at the gate of their campus on
Tuesday and later dispersed, witnesses said.

Police and military personnel manned checkpoints in the vicinity
of the university and the Rangoon Institute of Technology for the sixty day.

Diplomats said the protests had also spread briefly over the
weekend to two universities in the northern city of Mandalay.


December 5, 1996

"Nobody Knows How This Will End" 

[Spitz] Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, has the Burmese junta de facto placed you
under house arrest? 

[Suu Kyi] No, I have not been placed under house arrest. On Tuesday and
Wednesday [3 and 4 December], I was not allowed to leave my house, but today
[Thursday, 5 December] I was able to get out. However, it is a fact that
the street in front of my house continues to be blocked and no visitors can
come to me. And now they have also closed the street in front of our party

[Spitz] Why is the military regime again increasing the pressure on you now? 

[Suu Kyi] The reason is the latest student riots, which made the rulers
again very nervous. Now they want to shuffle the riots off on us (National
League of Democracy -- the editors) and hold us responsible for them. 

[Spitz] Are you afraid that the situation might escalate as in 1988, when
thousands were killed by the military during protests? 

[Suu Kyi] The escalation of the situation does not depend on us. The rulers
have to find a way. They have to bring about a peaceful solution. We
continue to bank on a dialogue. Only in this way can a civilized solution to
the conflict in this country be found. 

[Spitz] Are there indications that the junta will give in? 

[Suu Kyi] No, so far the rulers have not made us a single concession. 

[Spitz] Do you believe that the young people, the students who make a stand
for democracy in Burma, have your patience? 

[Suu Kyi] Well, I cannot talk on behalf of others, but, of course, young
people have less patience: Nobody knows how this will end here. 

[Spitz] What do you now expect of the world public in view of new increased
reprisals of the junta? 

[Suu Kyi] The international community has to realize that the development in
this country is not right and more than ever it has to behave appropriately.
It has to press for the implementation of the Burma resolution of the UN
General Assembly (according to it, the parliament with its NLD majority,
which was freely elected in 1990, would have to be constituted -- the editors). 

[Spitz] Can Germany play a special role there? 

[Suu Kyi] Germany should clearly react together with the other EU states.
Joint action is better than isolated steps. 

[Spitz] You were attacked by a group of 200 people during a recent
appearance in Rangoon. The attack had apparently been initiated by the
military government. Do you fear for your life? 

[Suu Kyi] In an authoritarian state like ours everyone's life is in danger.
I am not an exception. 


December 12, 1996
by Thomas Fox  

'Now we are thinking of educating people about democracy'  

Bangkok, Dec. 11: Students protesting in Rangoon now are a  
different breed from those who took part in the 1988 uprising  
which was crushed by the military, according to Burmese exiles.  
Crowds enraged by 26 years of poverty and mismanagement 
under the hated military rule would sometimes leave dead 
soldiers in their wake during the 1988 uprising, one exile 
Burmese student told AFP.  
"Today the students are wiser, they have more exposure ... and 
they can listen to Ms Aung San Suu Kyi," Toe Zaw Latt said, 
referring to the Opposition who espouses non-violence in her 
drive to bring democracy to Burma.  
A former Rangoon university student, Toe Zaw Latt studies 
business administration in Thailand and is a "weekend activist" 
with the All Burma Students Democratic Front and other 
groups based in Bangkok.  
"In 1988, I joined (the demonstrations) without knowing 
anything - because my friends joined and because I hated the 
Burma Socialist Program Party."  
The BSPP was formed after a 1962 coup d'etat and served as 
the main political vehicle of Burmese strongman Ne Win until' 
'1988 when all military officials resigned from the party prior to 
the setting up of the SLORC.  
"Now we are thinking of reconstruction, economic reform, 
educating the people about democracy and human rights," he said.  
The past week has seen numerous protests break out around the 
capital, the largest of which attracted up to 1,000 people and 
was broken up by armed riot police and troops on Saturday morning.  
Security has been high in the Burmese capital, with riot police 
and troops stationed on the streets ready to disperse student 
demonstrators, who have been clamoring for the right to form a union.  
Analysts in Rangoon say the ruling State Law and Order 
Restoration Council, formed after a bloody crackdown 
following the 1988 uprising, is clearly unsettled by the renewal 
of student unrest.  
In March 1988 a scuffle in a tea shop involving students 
sparked nationwide mass protests which were brutally put down 
by the military.  Thousands were killed in the crackdown which 
was followed by mass arrests.  
However, exiled Burmese students in Thailand say today's 
protests are vastly different from the violence of the 1988 demonstrations.  
Before leaving home, I thought there was no way to solve this 
problem without armed struggle," said ABSDF member Myat 
Thu, formerly an undergraduate physics student in a college 
southwest of Rangoon.  
After 1988, Myat Thu joined the youth wing of Aung San Sun 
Kyi's National League for Democracy, which swept 80 percent 
of seats in the 1990 elections which never ratified by the State 
Law and Order Restoration Council '  
In the subsequent crackdown, along with thousands of other 
students and opposition activists, he fled to the border areas and 
on into Thailand. (AFP) 

December 12, 1996

   	RANGOON (AP-Dow Jones)--In an ominous warning to student 	protestors
and other opponents of the military regime, one of Burma's 	top generals has
vowed to annihilate anyone disrupting his 	government's work. 
   	The remarks by Gen. Tin Oo were carried in Thursday's state-run 	media
following six days of student protests in Rangoon and Mandalay. 
   	Thousands of students demonstrators, demanding an end to police 
	brutality, the right to form a student union and other freedoms have 
	staged the most serious show of civil dissent since the nationwide 
	democracy uprising of 1988, which was also sparked by student 	protests. 

   	The protests have diminished to brief demonstrations during the 
	last two days as police and intelligence agents have sealed off 
	universities and other rallying points such as the thousand-year-old 	Sule
Pagoda in downtown Rangoon. 
	Schools remained closed for a fourth straight day Thursday, and 
	democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi remained confined to her home by
	the military. 
	Tin Oo is one of the four most powerful generals in the ruling 
	junta that seized power by violently crushing the 1988 uprising.
	More than 3,000 civilians were gunned down by the military,
	thousands jailed and schools closed for three years. 
	The military government will never allow the recurrence of the 1988
	disturbances and would annihilate any internal elements who are 
	trying to disrupt the country,' Tin Oo said. 
	Tin Oo is viewed as a junta hardliner, having also threatened to 
	annihilate Aung San Suu Kyi and her allies in the past. In his
	most recent speech he once again alluded to Suu Kyi. 
   	Tin Oo blamed the protests on 'internal axehandles under the 
	influence of external elements who did not wish to see the country
	Military men frequently refer to Suu Kyi and her followers as 
	axehandles of imperialists and claim she is a puppet of
	neocolonialists such as the U.S. and the U.K. 
	Burma was a British colony from 1824 until 1947, when Suu Kyi's 
	father, Gen.Aung San, won the country's independence. 
   	Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947, began his career as a 
	student leader, and students have been carrying his portrait in
	the recent protests. 


December 12, 1996

ARMY Commander Gen Chettha Thanajaro said yesterday he did not believe the
Burmese junta would use force to suppress student protests which began early
last week in Rangoon.

Chettha, the first Thai in authority to comment on the situation, said he
had been following the latest student demonstrations, against alleged police
brutality, and believed the situation will soon return to normal.

Political unrest in Burma was a domestic affair, not a matter for the Thai
Army, he added.

The Army chief, who has developed close relations with members of the
Burmese junta, said he sympathised with international calls for respect for
human rights in Burma, as they reflected the wishes of the global community.

The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) certainly had the
same idea, but it would need time, he said.

Chettha warned exiled Burmese students taking refuge in Thailand against
making violent protests against Slorc. The Army would not let this happen.

He said the Burmese fugitives should pursue peaceful, legal means of protest.

In Rangoon, sporadic student protests continued to flare up around Rangoon

A senior Slorc official accused the United States yesterday of trying to use
the government's current restriction on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's
movements as an excuse to impose sanctions on Burma.

Three days of school closures and a heavy military presence seemed to be
sapping the new student movement's strength. Their nearly week-long protests
demanding a student union and end to police brutality have been the most
brazen challenge to the military government since the nationwide democracy
uprising of 1988.

With troops guarding the universities, the students' natural gathering
points have been blocked. Eighteen troop carriers were also stationed near
the Sule Pagoda in central Rangoon.

The Sule Pagoda was the rallying point for protesters during the uprising of
1988, and is just a few blocks from the US Embassy, where students have also
demonstrated during the past few days.


December 12, 1996
by Zarni, founder, The Free Burma Coalition

Today, Massachusetts-based Reebok International Limited named as one of its
annual "human rights award" our sister activist Ma Thida, activist, writer
and a physician, I can not but think of a great irony here.  While I rejoice
in the  publicity it will bring to Ma Thida's solitary confinement and
inhuman treatment she has been subjected, I feel compelled to speak out
against a clear manipulation of human rights by a "bottom-line-institution".
Human rights has become arguable the most sacred organizing principle of
life in today's world.

Reebok sells its image as a human-rights-friendly and "socially responsible"
corporate entity.  It has beautifully worded codes of conduct that recognize
human rights and workers' rights.  Many "socially responsible" investors
would give Reebok high marks as a corporation that addresses these rather
popular issues.  Indeed Reebok does a first rate job on its PR campaign
which culminates in its annual human rights ceremony. The problem here is
not what Reebok says it does or wants its sneaker-buyers in the "first
world" to believe.  Rather it is in its day-to-day corporate practices,
which, in the final analysis, crystalizes into the-bottom-line.

A closer look at Reebok's corporate practices would tell a differnt story.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (September 6, 1996, p. A65) writes,
"(a)lthough Reebok's code of conduct calls for freeom of association, both
it and Nike work with subcontractors in China, where unions are illegal, and
Indonesia, where only the state-controlled union is recognized by the
government and where independent labor leaders have been harrassed,
detained, and, in one instance still under investigation, perhaps tortured,
raped, and murdered." Of course, Reebok management does not have any
leverage over how these Asian tyrants treat their subject populations,
workers or otherwise. Even if they do, the cost of labor in those places,
which according to, Donald Katz's book "Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the
Corporate World," is about $1.66 for a $70 pair of sneakers.  Easier to turn
a blind eye to the abuses of human rights than resist the promise of
$1.66/pair labor.

Well, perhaps Reebok would put into practice its much-publicized and
publicly-professed human rights faith in places where human rights are more
or less a reality of life, its home country the United States. Not so.  On
June 28, 1996, The New York Times ran an article "Campus Fight Leads Reebok
to Modify a Show Contract" where Reebok's attempts to include the infamous
non-disparagement clause in its varsity-corporate exclusive marketting
contract with the University of Wisconsin were exposed.  Basically, this
contract provision said that the "university will not issue any official
statement that disparages Reebok." Furthermore, it would require the
university to "promptly take all reasonable steps necessary to address any
remark by any university employee, including a coach, that disparages Reebok."  

As a Burmese, I was born and lived under Burma's Socialist Programme Party,
the name of Burma's military dictatorship before it changed itself to the
State Law and Order restoration Council, for 25 years.  We had a beautifully
written socialist constitution.  We were given freedom, citizens' rights,
and civil liberties--in theory.  Our collective memories and experiences
diverge radically from these words, as our self-proclaimed "leaders" talked
the talk but did not walk the walk.

Upon hearing Reebok's human rights award to someone like Ma Thida, I am
reminded of a gap between words and actions. I see a clear parallel between
Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) and Reebok International Limited.
BSPP's beautifully worded constitution, our state-sponsored exercise of
freedom of speech and of assembly and the human-rights-friendly Reebok;
Reebok's widely-publicized, but unenforceable code of conducts which
recognizes human dignity, labor rights, etc. etc. and its corporate
practices driven ultimately by its-bottom-line economic rationality.

It saddens me that the Reebok International Limited has come to be seen as
THE human rights leader in the corporate world.  Alas, the principle and
concept  of human rights for which people such as  1996 "Reebok's Human
Rights Award" winner Ma Thida have sacraficed so much is indeed being
manipulated and appropriated, for the promotion of $70 sneakers.

What kind of honor is it?


December 12, 1996(abridged)

BOSTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) _ Four young activists were honored Wednesday in
Boston as recipients of the 1996 Reebok Human Rights Awards.

Reebok Chairman and CEO Paul Fireman said such young activists over the
years ``have taught us unforgettable lessons about the true nature of
courage and humanity.''

Honored were:

_ Harvard-educated Julie Su, 27, a staff attorney for the Asian Pacific
American Legal Center who brought suit against an El Monte, Calif.,
sweatshop where 72 illegal Thai workers were being held in involuntary
servitude. As a result of her efforts, seven operators were sentenced to jail.

_ Jesus Tecu Osorio, 25, of Guatemala, who at the age of 11 survived the
massacre of 177 villagers, including his baby brother. He later testified
against soldiers involved and was instrumental in getting the government to
exhume mass graves.

_ Ma Thida, 29, of Burma, a doctor who has been in prison since 1993 for her
pro-democracy and human rights activities.

_ Innocent Chukwuma, 30, of Nigeria, who as project director for Nigeria's
leading human rights association was twice arrested for calling attention to
abuses by Nigeria's military government.

In addition, Reebok honored Canada's Craig Kielburger, 13, with its
Youth-in-Action Award for his work against child labor.


December 10, 1996

The Burmese community in the United Kingdom have staged a demonstration in
front of the Burmese Embassy located at 19-A, Charles Street, London W1,
between 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. today ( December 10, 1996). A number of
British supporters have also joined the Burmese protesters.

The rally was held to express our full hearted support and  solidarity for
the courageous students in Burma who have  been daringly protesting against
the brutal military regime  for human rights, freedom and the end of injustice.

We would also like to  warmly congratulate on the students for their
successful formation of the " All Burma Federation of Students' Union "
through extremely tough circumstances.

Since the military regime is to be blamed for the current situation facing
Burma, they will be held for any unfortunate consequences arising out of
this situation. We also strongly believe that the present difficulties could
have been avoided
if the regime have kept their promises and honour their commitments.

The protesting Burmese community in the United Kingdom:

--Condemn the regime for arbitrarily suspending classes 
   in Universities and Colleges causing unnecessary disruption 
   in the students' education. Such action would obviously 
   serve only to inflame the present situation. They should
   respect the students' rights and demands;
--Support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's vision for a solution regarding 
   the current problems and strongly urge the military regime to 
   urgently begin direct talks with the students as Daw Aung San
   Suu Kyi has pointed out;

--Demand the immediate release of all political and student prisoners;

--Urge the military junta to hand over the power to the elected
   representatives to avoid further violence and bloodshed in our
   motherland; and

--Plans to stage further weekly demonstrations until such time
   as circumstances are progressing better for the students
   and the democracy movement.


December 9, 1996

Rangoon, December 9 (XINHUA) - China National Complete Plant Import and
Export Yunnan Corporation and Myanma Railways [as received] signed here
today to build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract for a concrete sleeper
producing factory. 

The Chinese corporation will invest 12 million U.S. dollars to construct a
concrete sleeper factory in Mandalay in northern Myanmar [Burma], and
produce 300,000 concrete sleepers every year. 

Myanmar Minister for Railways U Win Sein, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen
Baoliu, and Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy Lin
Jian attended the signing ceremony. 



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