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The BurmaNet News: May 4, 1999

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

The BurmaNet News: May 4, 1999
Issue #1264

Noted in Passing: " It is not appropriate to exchange NLD members who are
in prison if all political prisoners - students monks, workers and etc -
remain under detention of various kinds as long as the will of the people
is not met." - Tint Swe, Member of Parliament NLD (see THE NATION: NLD WILL


3 May, 1999  

RANGOON - Aung San Suu Kyi's Burmese opposition has furiously turned on a
group of its MPs, branding them  "lackeys" of the junta after they called
for talks with the party's bitter enemies in the military.

In a sharply worded statement received here at the weekend, party leaders
accused three MPs of "collusion with the military intelligence" for
questioning opposition tactics in the long struggle with the government.

"Three of our parliamentarians, who have vowed to fight for democracy and
human rights, have now become lackeys of the military intelligence," said
the statement issued by the National League for Democracy (NLD)

The leadership, clearly angered by the appeal, accused the group of
"attempting to sow disunity" within the party.

"We strongly condemn their despicable act," said the statement.

The three MPs targeted by the statement - Than Tun, Tin Tun Maung and Kyi
Win - are long standing NLD members elected in the party's crushing 1990
general election victory which the junta has never recognised. All three
have been recently detained by the military during a country-wide sweep
against the NLD apparently designed to crush its political network.

The MPs were behind a letter sent to NLD leaders urging fresh attempts to
initiate dialogue with the junta, which is accused by the party and foreign
groups of gratuitous human rights abuses.

The letter, obtained by AFP, said Suu Kyi's call last year for a meeting of
a parliament elected in 1990 had badly backfired.

It said the move had led to a political stalemate, encouraged the
government to systematically dismantle the NLD by arresting MPs and
triggered mass forced resignations from township organisations set up with
"great difficulty."

"This stalemate has also slowed down economic development and much needed
foreign investment and strained international relations," the letter,
signed in all by 25 NLD MPs said.

Tremendous damage had also been inflicted by the continued closure of
universities and colleges by a military government fearful of student
revolt, it added. The military government says it is always ready to talk
to the NLD but refuses to sit down with Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, whom they
regard as a traitor.

NLD leaders say talks are impossible without the presence of the woman
regarded by many in Burma and abroad as a heroic figure of political
resistance. However, the letter says dialogue is the only way out of
Burma's political quagmire.

"We firmly believe that the authorities continue to leave the door wide
open for such a dialogue which would finally lead the way to democracy and
the  acknowledgment of the 1990 general elections," the letter said.

In an interview, one of the instigators of the initiative urged the NLD
leadership to change tactics and fervently denied colluding with the

"We're willing to provide an alternative plan so both sides can save their
faces but it's too early at this stage to reveal it," he said.

It is understood that any such plan would recommend low-level contacts
between the military and the NLD to test the ground for full talks in the
future. The instigator of the letter, who asked to remain anonymous, said
that most of the hundreds of opposition NLD members detained in what the
government refers to as "guest houses" had now been freed.

Only those regarded as prime agitators are still in custody following the
crackdown, he said.

However, large numbers of government opponents are still in jail on
politically motivated charges, say dissident groups and foreign rights

All efforts to unblock Burma's stalemate have so far foundered.

A World Bank/United Nations plan to progressively match aid to political
reform is understood to be still alive, but only just, after it was
revealed in media reports last year.

Burma's community of foreign diplomats appears split between those who
believe Suu Kyi's war of attrition with the government is the only course
and others frustrated at the political impasse.

The political climate was further poisoned in recent months by the junta's
refusal to grant a visa to the terminally ill British husband of Suu Kyi
who succumbed to cancer in March.


3 May, 1999 from: Tint Swe, Member of Parliament NLD


Khin Nyunt, the Secretary One of State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC), brought a group of Rangoon-based diplomats to the northeast Shan
State on April 26. The delegation was invited by Pau Yuqiang of the United
Wa State Army (UWSA), which, according to the United States, remains
"heavily involved" in the drug trade.

The coverage on TV-Myanmar was a very high profile propaganda piece.
Hundreds of ethnic girls and women wearing colourful dresses danced,
garlanded and greeted the visitors. A small number of poor pigs were shown
on TV - they were said to be the substitution for opium cultivation.

Khin Nyunt pretended to be the potentate of the function and relatively
young Pau Yuqiang with spectacles was the organiser. UWSA and SPDC spent a
lot of money on the occasion while the entire people of Burma are hard
pressed to eat a square meal a day.

But foreign journalists did not miss the opportunity to expose the
situation. Foreign Minister Win Aung, who was with Khin Nyunt, told Reuters
that his government would release NLD political prisoners if the National
League for Democracy dissolved the Committee Representing Peoples'
Parliament (CRPP).

He also blamed the NLD for the call to boycott Visit Myanmar Year and to
foreign investors to shun Burma. Win Aung admitted that Visit Myanmar Year
failed because of the NLD, and this has resulted in the opposition having
lost the opportunity for a dialogue with the ruling junta.

Rangoon-based foreign diplomats estimated that around 2,000 political
prisoners are behind bars in Burma. Last month, Aung San Suu Kyi said 150
elected MPs had been detained. Apparently, Win Aung only mentioned the NLD
prisoners who are said to be detained in so-called guesthouses.

Win Aung also said that the NLD had squandered all its chances to talk.
However, Tin Oo, the vice chairman of NLD, expressed the party's unbroken
hope of solving problems in Burma through a substantive dialogue, which the
NLD proposed since 1989. NCGUB, the legitimate government in exile, still
holds that the NLD has a legal and democratic obligation to convene the
1990 parliament.

All of those arrested, detained, forced to resign and killed for wanting
democracy shall not trade their sufferings with the promise to dissolve the

It would be right to consider the dissolving of the CRPP if all the desires
and will of entire people of Burma were met. The people of Burma want
democracy, universally accepted human rights, and the parliament of the
1990 election. It is not appropriate to exchange NLD members who are in
prison if all political prisoners - students monks, workers and etc -
remain under detention of various kinds as long as the will of the people
is not met.

Win Aung's response cannot be regarded as a surprise or a positive
initiative from the SPDC. As a matter of fact, it reflects the
unwillingness on the part of the SPDC to talk to NLD.

The UN Human Rights Commission passed a critical and stronger resolution on
Burma last week in Geneva. Two days ago the European Union extended its
visa restriction and arms embargo on SPDC for another six months. It is up
to the military regime to avoid utter devastation in Burma.

Tint Swe
Member of Parliament NLD


1 May, 1999 by Barry Wain

PANGHSANG, Myanmar - A decade ago, army commanders mutinied against the
aging leadership of the Communist Party of Burma, the most powerful
insurgent group trying to topple the government In Rangoon.

With the leaders seeking sanctuary in China, the movement fractured into
four separate armies along ethnic lines.  The Wa, Who controlled the
party's headquarters at Panghsang, agreed to a cease-fire with the
government, following the example of the Kokang only days earlier.

Although nothing was put in writing, the agreements became the model for
accommodation between central authorities and ethnic-based guerrillas that
had been doing battle since soon after independence in 1948.  Between 1989
and 1995, 17 major outfits negotiated similar deals, leaving only one, the
Karen National Union, in open rebellion today.

Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary 1 of the ruling State Peace and Development
Council and head of military intelligence, this week visited Panghsang, in
eastern Shan state on the border with China, to mark the anniversary of the
revolt. He thinks the arrangements have given the country, renamed Myanmar,
its best chance of national reconciliation in 50 years.

"Nobody can deny the fact that during this 10-year period, all these
regions have developed with amazing speed," he tells several thousand
colorfully dressed minorities who greet him.  Actually, not everyone
interprets events so positively. Foreign critics maintain that the military
and the retired rebels are playing a sinister game.

The controversy started when the SPDC's predecessor junta shot unarmed
demonstrators in Rangoon, since renamed Yangon, and seized power in 1988.
Democracy activists and human rights bodies say the regime forged alliances
of convenience with the insurgents, allowing them to engage in narcotics
production and trafficking as long as they stopped fighting the government.

Not true, say senior army officers, who insist the "understanding" is that
the insurgents can keep their weapons and administer the territory they
controlled at the time, provided they renounce armed struggle. The
government promised a border development program and pledged not to
interfere in the zones.

As for narcotics, the officers say the guerrillas were told in general
terms that they would have to end their involvement in all drug-related
activities.  No timetable was set, they say, though it was understood that
subsistence farmers traditionally growing opium would need time to find
other forms of income.

I accepted a government invitation to join Lt.- Gen. Khin Nyunt's entourage
and a few diplomats and other journalists on a three-day foray, by
Russian-made MI-17 helicopter, to parts of former bandit territory.

The overwhelming impression is that while Yangon has made a good start, it
faces a massive challenge in trying to convert the ceasefires into a
permanent peace, eliminate the narcotics scourge and integrate frontier
areas into the rest of the nation.

The transformation of Panghsang, center of Northern Shan State Special
Region Two, is impressive. Huts in the remote mountain town have given way
to two- and three-story modern shopping centers and hotels.

In the Good Health Fine Jewelry workshop, 92 uniformed men and women,
trained by Thai experts, polish rubies and fit them into gold rings and
earrings.  Gold, rubies and jade come from mining concessions elsewhere in
Myanmar, which the government has given as assistance.

Yangon also has directed to the Wa region more than 6% of the 14.66 billion
kyats (about $43 million at current free-market exchange rates) that it has
spent on the border development program in the past 10 years.  The funds
have been used to build roads, bridges, hospitals, dispensaries, schools
and TV relay stations.  Most business is in the hands of a general trading
company, a type of cooperative in which 40,000 of the Wa region's 600,000
population have shares.  Other far-flung ventures include a pig-breeding
farm, a vineyard and an orchard.

Pau Yo Chan, chairman of the Wa administrative committee and identified by
the U.S. as a suspect in the heroin or amphetamine trade, denies that drug
money has been invested in such projects, just as he denies personal
involvement.  As well as using profits from mining, the region gets soft
loans from China, he says.

Mong La, a border post to the Southeast and the center of Eastern Shan
State Special Region Four_run by another breakaway faction of the defunct
Communist Party_is more prosperous.  It attracts about 500,000 Chinese
tourists a year, lured by a casino, religious sites and a nature reserve.

With no need to obtain a visa, visitors pay two yuan, (about 24 U.S.
cents), the only currency used in Mong La, for a day pass. They each spend
an average 100 yuan, entertained by a Thai transvestite show and performing
elephants, among other things.  Again, the government has spent 727.1
million kyats on infrastructure, while the area exploits deposits of
manganese and also receives help from nearby districts In China's Yunnan

Sai Lin, chairman of the region, dressed in a beige jacket with mandarin
collar and matching trousers, holds hands with Lt Gen. Khin Nyunt as they
approach a reception line.  Also identified by Washington as a drug
suspect, Mr. Sai Lin has been honored by Yangon for eliminating poppy
cultivation and declaring his turf opium-free two years ago.

"I don't need to defend myself at all," he says.  "I have a clear conscience."

The government has every reason to be pleased that the ceasefires are
holding and that it has access, however limited, to these vast swathes of
the country.  Stopping most of the fighting that characterized Myanmar for
45 years is a notable achievement.

Yet Yangon must tread carefully as it tries to overcome decades of
suspicion and avoid any action that might rekindle violence.  For instance,
in an effort to build confidence, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt leaves behind his usual
heavily armed bodyguards when he goes on such excursions, demonstrating
that he trusts once-implacable foes.

Pressuring the ethnic groups to abandon narcotics will require delicate
diplomacy, as the SPDC moves toward its stated goal of eliminating poppy
growing by 2014.  For example, while the Wa claim to have cut opium output
by 30% on the way to meeting their own 2005 deadline, Myanmar narcotics
officials say any reduction has been insignificant.

Eventually, stability in the borderlands will depend on a satisfactory
power-sharing arrangement in a new constitution being drafted since 1993.
Ominously, a national convention charged with the task hasn't met for
nearly three years, reportedly stuck on this very issue.

Further, the convention is being boycotted by Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy, which won an election in 1990 but wasn't allowed to
take office.  Although the government won't entertain the idea of talks
with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, it remains confident the insurgencies won't resume.

"Everybody is fed up with fighting each other," says Col. Kyaw Thein, who
was involved in the ceasefire negotiations.  "They don't want to start again."


4 May, 1999 


The Foreign Ministry today will summon a Burmese embassy official to
clarify an attack by pro-Rangoon Karen rebels on a Thai police station in
Mae Hong Son over the weekend.

An informed source said the National Security Council has stated that
armed foreign intruders at Ban Nam Piang Din on Saturday were leftist-Kayah
with connections with Burmese troops.

The attack badly damaged the police station but there were no casualties.

A senior ministry official said Thailand could not hold the Burmese
government responsible because the intruders were ethnic minorities. But he
said Bangkok wanted Rangoon to verify information and admit involvement in
the incident.

The call is being made ahead of a meeting of the Thai-Burmese Joint
Boundary Committee scheduled for Thursday in Rangoon, to discuss
demarcation and other border issues. Deputy Foreign Minister Sukhumbhand
Paribatra will co-chair the meeting with his Burmese counterpart Khin Maung

Nyan Lynn, the embassy's ministerial counsellor, has recently been summoned
to aid in intelligence gathering from the Burmese side regarding the
massacre of nine Thai villagers in Chiang Mai's Doi Ang Khang district by
an armed ethnic group in early April.

Meanwhile, the army and the police have formally protested to Rangoon for
letting Burmese minority rebels intrude into Thailand and cause unrest.

Gen Surayud Chulanont, the army chief, said a protest letter has been sent
to Rangoon and the frequent incursions would be raised for urgent
discussion at the Thai-Burmese local border meeting on May 21.

The latest attack by the rebels on Thai soil came on Saturday when the
so-called "Red Star" Karen army fired on Nam Piang Din police station in
Mae Hong Son.

Senior army officers suspected the attack was motivated by a clash of
interest in the drug trade.

Gen Surayud said the Naresuan Task Force has managed to defuse booby traps
believed to have been planted by the Karen army. He added army personnel
would maintain their presence in Ban Nam Piang Din for a while longer to
prevent and retaliate against any incursions.

A defence has been mounted along border areas prone to intrusion to boost
residents' confidence. The army chief, however, conceded intelligence on
the movement of the rebels was unclear, making attempts at monitoring
security difficult.

He insisted the military would not launch a reprisal for Saturday's attack
but added his troops were ready to move in at any time to fight off
external threats.


1 May, 1999 by Greg Torode

Burmese human rights activists are urgently seeking information on an
Australian woman sentenced to 10 years in Rangoon's toughest prison for not
declaring gems worth US$3,600 (HK$27,800).

Bangkok-based Burmese exiles said they feared for the safety of the
53-year-old woman inside the notorious Insein Prison and believed she was
being used to scare Burmese into keeping their money inside the country.

"Even by the standards of this military regime, it seems to be a very harsh
sentence indeed," one activist said.

"We know many families see gems and jewelry as the only way that they can
get money out, so we are very worried this woman could be used as a
warning, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the case."

The woman is seeking to appeal after being sentenced on gem smuggling
charges last November. A new hearing is expected this month.

She was apprehended in August after visiting relatives in Rangoon but it is
not known if she is a Burmese native. Australian diplomats who visited her
in prison confirmed she has a lawyer.

The said Australian privacy laws prevented them from revealing her identity.

It is understood consulate officers from the Australian Embassy in Rangoon
must still submit documents to prison authorities before passing them to
the woman.

Foreign Affairs officials said Australia could not be seen to openly
interfere in the court case at this stage, but said privately that the
"severity" of the sentence had been noted in Canberra.


4 May, 1999 

Dear friends,

I'm happy to inform you that DVB's radio talks and commentaries by Dr. Aung
Kin are avaliable both on text (English, Burmese) and audio at DVB home
page: http://www.communique.no/dvb/

Welcome to DVB home page !!

Best regards,

Thida (Thin Myat Thu)  
Web Editor    
Democratic Voice of Burma