[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

The BurmaNet News: May 10, 1999

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

The BurmaNet News: May 10, 1999
Issue #1267


7 May, 1999 

BANGKOK, May 7 (Reuters) - Myanmar's powerful military intelligence chief
has shrugged off the nickname ``Prince of Darkness,'' saying he is just a
loyal servant of the state.

Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, considered the most powerful figure in
Myanmar's military government, was asked by an interviewer to comment on
the media tag.

``I read an article or two that carried the term you mentioned,'' he said.
``I leave it to you to answer the question. Personally I would like to
think of myself as a servant of the people who is trying to do the best for
the country.''

Khin Nyunt's remarks were contained in the text of an interview sent by the
Yangon government to news organisations on Friday. He rarely talks to

The head of the Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence is identified
by Myanmar dissidents as the power behind tough government suppression of
political opposition.

Khin Nyunt rejected allegations that the government had forced mass
resignations from the opposition National League for Democracy over the
past year and blamed its leader, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, for
being ``confrontational.''

``They keep saying they want a dialogue with the government, they are
actually not sincere ... and are trying to put obstacles in the path to
discussions,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt also brushed aside criticism of closure of the country's
universities for much of the past decade because of student unrest.

``The closing of the universities is only temporary and we are trying to
reopen them in the near future,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt said the ruling State Peace and Development Council remained
united and rejected suggestions of splits.

``This is a myth and a misinformation first spread by expatriate dissident
groups and then picked up by the media with the malicious aim of causing
splits or at least giving the impression of splits within the SPDC,'' he said.

He insisted that Ne Win, the octogenarian architect of authoritarianism who
ruled from 1962 until 1988, was retired and dismissed suggestions he still
influenced decision-making.

``He has retired completely from politics and is now engaged in religious
devotion only. Since he is no longer engaged in political matters, the
question of his influence in this sphere no longer arises,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt also rejected as ``misinformation from insurgent sources''
reports of forced military conscription and defended relocation of
villagers to make way for construction projects.

Relocations were unavoidable with infrastructure projects like dams but
villagers were consulted in advance, informed of the benefits, and steps
were taken to minimise disruption.

``Therefore there are no genuine complaints from villagers who realise it
is they themselves and their communities who will benefit in the long
run,'' he said. 


4 March, 1999 

[Note from Chao Tzang Yawnghwe: The Legislative Assembly of British
Columbia, Canada, passed a motion in support of Burma's parliamentarians
and the struggle of the people of Burma for democracy on May 4, 1999. This
is the first motion of this nature in North America -- direct political
support by elected legislators for Burma's parliamentarians -- and is
therefore a significant and historic one.]

The Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, Motion No. 61

Mr. Hartley moved--

Be it resolved that this Assembly deplores the continuing violations of
human rights in Burma, including extrajudicial and arbitrary executions,
rape, torture, inhuman treatment, mass arrests, forced labour, forced
relocation and denial of freedom of expression, assembly, association and
movement, as reported by the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur;

Be it further resolved that in the opinion of this Assembly these human
rights abuses in Burma are the result of policy at the highest level and
that the regime's officials bear political and legal responsibility for them;

Be it further resolved that this Assembly urges the military regime in
Burma to:

(a) --- immediately and unconditionally release all detained political
leaders and all political prisoners, to ensure their physical integrity and
to permit them to participate in the process of national reconciliation;

(b) ---  repeal all regressive laws;

(c) ---  stop all the violations of human rights and in particular the
unlawful coercion against the National League for Democracy (NLD) members
leading to surrendering of their membership and the closure of NLD offices;

(d) ---  immediately initiate a substantive political dialogue with the
Committee Representing the People's Parliament before there is further
violent upheaval in Burma.

Be it further resolved that the Legislature condemns the State Peace and
Development Council (formerly named the State Law and Order Restoration
Council) for:

(a) ---  openly encouraging the production, trade and export of opium and
heroin into North America; and

(b) ---  racially-motivated genocide against the ethnic peoples in Burma,
especially those in Karen, Karenni and Shan States;

Be it further resolved that the Legislature urges the Government of Canada to:

(a) ---  recognise as the legitimate instrument of the will of the Burmese
people the Committee Representing the People's Parliament formed by the
National League for Democracy on 16 September 1998 as acquiring the legal
authority of 251 MP's and support of the four non-Burman ethnic political

(b) ---  take all necessary action to achieve coordinated international
action in support of the restoration of human rights in Burma;

(c) ---  direct the federal drug enforcement agency to increase counter
narcotics efforts specific to the flow of heroin into Vancouver from Burma;

(d) --- appeal to the UN Secretary-General to send a special envoy to Burma
to continue discussions with the leaders of the military regime as well as
with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders in order to make significant
advances towards the democratization of Burma.

Motion agreed to nemine contradicente on the following division:

YEAS -- 66

[Names included in original.]


9 May, 1999 by Supamart Kasem 



The anti-Rangoon Karen National Union has denied planning to attack a
motorcade of Malaysian tourists soon to visit Burma, saying it issued a
warning because the travellers could be in danger from other armed groups.

David Tharckabaw, director of the KNU's Karen Information Centre, quoted
KNU leader Gen Bo Mya as saying his troops would not harm the visitors, who
intend to travel by road from Myawaddy to Rangoon.

"The KNU has no intention of attacking Malaysian tourists. We just sent a
warning letter to the tour leader because we are concerned about their
safety," he said. The tour group planned to pass through Myawaddy,
Kawkareik, Pa-an, Thaton and Kyaiktho before reaching Rangoon. These areas
were held by a variety of groups -- Burmese soldiers, the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army and the KNU.

The KNU leader feared that either Burmese soldiers or pro-Rangoon DKBA
guerrillas would attack the Malaysian tourists and falsely accuse the KNU.
The director of the Perak Motor Club, Douglas Choong, plans to take a party
through Burma along the Asian Highway. 


9 May, 1999 by Ritu Sarin 

NEW DELHI, May 8: Next Tuesday, 73 Burmese and Thai nationals arrested on
charges of gun-running may walk out of Port Blair's Protharapur prison and
kick off what could be a messy controversy and a major diplomatic
embarrassment for the Government.

Most of these prisoners are rebels fighting the Burmese junta. They and
their weapons had been apparently promised safe passage by the Indian
government. And human rights groups representing the prisoners allege that
they were arrested and six of them shot in cold blood all senior leaders --
in the remote Landfall Islands on the northern tip of Andaman and Nicobar.
In fact, one of those killed was the key person negotiating with a senior
Military Intelligence officer.

It was treachery, say representatives of these prisoners, accusing New
Delhi of first striking a deal with them and then -- for reasons still not
clear -- double-crossing them by cosying up to the Myanmar Government.

All this would have remained unknown for quite a while had it not been for
the mud flying around the Fernandes-Bhagwat war, some of it sticking to
what is called Operation Leech. But more of that later.

First, the story of Leech, based on official records and an eyewitness
statement obtained by The Indian Express. According to the FIR lodged in
Port Blair by R. S. Dhankar, Deputy Naval Provost Marshall, the story is
pretty straightforward: On February 11, 1998, at Landfall Islands, 73
foreign nationals were captured for alleged gun-running. Six tried to
escape and fired on Indian troops who retaliated. The six "were seen
disappearing in the sea and are presumed dead.'' On May 11, 1998, with no
charge-sheet in sight, the 73 men were detained under the National Security

However, records show that in this case, these prisoners aren't just gun
runners. Out of the 73, almost half are from the Arakan Army, the armed
wing of the Myanmarese National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) which has
been fighting a long war with the Myanmarese junta. There were also 37 Thai
and Mynarmarese fishermen who were ``hijacked'' by the Arakans en route
Landfall Islands. NUPA claims that senior Arakan officers began talks with
New Delhi as early as April 1993. And were soon discussing the possibility
of India providing a safe passage of arms from Thailand to Myanmar via

The first tangible ``breakthrough'' came in 1996 when an official of the
Joint Intelligence Committee and Lt Col V.J.S. Grewal, a Military
Intelligence official met the Arakan leaders at their Mizoram headquarters
at Parva. The Arakans were represented by one Major Saw Tun. Grewal wasn't
available for comment.

Soon after the talks, Tun told his bosses that Grewal had "suggested'' a
payment of Rs 5 lakh for New Delhi to clear the "plan.'' The Arakan Army,
therefore, sent $20,000 via a messenger who returned with the Operation's
code name, maps and photographs of the site: the Landfall Islands. NUPA
officials claim they have photographs and copies of air tickets to show
that Grewal was in constant touch.  According to the plan, the landing was
scheduled for May 21, 1997, with Grewal and Tun scheduled to reach the
islands via Chennai to "receive'' the expedition.  But a cyclone blew the
plan away. Until January, 1998, more than six months after the initial
scheduled date, when Grewal was given the names and photos of those Arakan
men who would be on board and another $10,000.

NUPA says the expedition began on February 8, when the Arakan flotilla --
two high-speed gun boats and two trawlers -- set sail from the Deeva camp
in Thailand. It reached the Landfall Islands around noon on February 10,
picking up along the way 35 Burmese and two Thais who were fishing
illegally. The first batch of Arakan personnel, including senior leaders,
was received by Grewal and Tun. More than two hours later, the rest of the
expedition landed. There was a reception in the evening and by next
morning, the balance had tilted.  According to one eyewitness, Dynyalin,
who is in prison right now and whose statement is part of a petition sent
to the NHRC this is what happened:

At first, Khaing Raza, an Arakan leader, reached the island and met Tun,
Grewal and another Indian Army officer. They had a ``party'' on the beach
while the rest of the crew waited for instructions. The next morning, Raza
asked the crew to unload their weapons for ``inspection'' by an Indian Army
officer. They were then asked to fall in line while Raza, Tun and four
other Arakan leaders -- all unarmed -- were led away by Grewal.

``Soon, another Indian Army Colonel and another Army Officer ordered
us...to 'hands up'....our hands were tied and we were blindfolded. I told
them we wanted to take orders from our leader Raza. We were then ordered to
lie down on the sand. Around 10 minutes later, we heard a sound of gun
shots from the direction in which our leaders had been taken. The number of
shots we heard may have been around 20 to 30... .  We are confused, scared,
we do not want the remaining 73 to be killed,'' says a Myanmarese refugee.
The Government, for its part, is not keen to explain. In fact, when a
Madurai-based lawyer, Henri Tiphagne, allowed by Port Blair's Chief
Metropolitan Magistrate to meet the prisoners, was recording his first
interview, the Union Government obtained a stay from the Madras High Court
and Tiphagne was asked to leave the prison.


8 May, 1999 

A car rally from Kanchanaburi to Burma scheduled to start today, with Gen
Surayud Chulanont, the army chief and his family, taking part, has been put

The four-wheel-drive rally from Ban-I-Tong to Moulmein, organised by the
army and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, could not start because the
TAT had failed to complete immigration formalities on time.


7 May, 1999 

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions -- Asia & Pacific Regional

Dear Minister, 

13th meeting of ASEAN Labour Ministers, May 10-15, Rangoon

On behalf of the ICFTU-APRO representing over 30 million workers in the
Asia Pacific region, I am writing to raise with you an important issue
relating to the basic rights of workers in one of the ASEAN member
countries.  This issue has a direct impact on the view taken by the
international community of ASEAN as a grouping of nations that is
increasingly concerned with promoting respect for international labour

This issue is the systematic and continuing use of forced labour by the
Government of Myanmar (Burma), despite that nation's obligations as a
country which has ratified ILO Convention No. 29. Since you will be
travelling to Burma to attend the 13th meeting of the ASEAN Labour
Ministers from May 10-15 in Rangoon, we would like to propose that you
raise this issue with the Government when you are there. Specifically, we
request you to strongly urge the Government of Myanmar (Burma) to comply
without failure with the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry
on Forced Labour in Burma, including the immediate cessation of use of
forced labour, punishment of those guilty for its use and amendment of the
relevant colonial laws to bring them into compliance with Convention 29.
The ILO Commission set a deadline of May 1, 1999 for the Government of
Myanmar (Burma) to comply with these recommendations but it is now clear
that the Government has no intention of meeting that deadline.

The ILO Commission, which was composed of neutral, highly respected
international jurists, reported that the problem is widespread.  The
Commission found that "There is abundant evidence before the Commission
showing the pervasive use of forced labour imposed on the civilian
population throughout Myanmar (Burma) by the authorities and the military.
The manifold exactions of forced labour often give rise to the extortion of
money in exchange for a temporary alleviation of the burden, but also to
threats to the life and security and extra judicial punishment of those
unwilling. All the information and evidence before the Commission shows
utter disregard by the authorities for the safety and health as well as the
basic needs of the people performing forced or compulsory labour.  Forced
labourers, including those sick or injured, are frequently beaten or
otherwise physically abused by soldiers, resulting in serious injuries;
some are killed, and women performing compulsory labour are raped or
otherwise sexually abused by soldiers."

The widespread abuse of forced labour by the Government of Myanmar (Burma)
is without precedent in Asia after World War II.  Together with the
international trade union community generally, the ICFTU/APRO firmly
believes that forced labour in any form is an affront to the basic rights
and dignity of working persons everywhere.

The reports gathered and submitted by the ICFTU to the ILO indicate that
there is no evidence to suggest the Burmese authorities have taken any
serious measures to implement the recommendations made by the Commission of
Inquiry.  Further we believe that the Government of Myanmar (Burma) has
failed to consider recommendations with the required seriousness and
commitment and that it is treating the ILO, and its supervisory bodies,
with contempt by allowing forced labour to continue unabated.

On such a flagrant case of abuse of the fundamental rights of working
people, we believe that every country in ASEAN needs to clearly state that
a continuation of this situation should not be allowed.  Please take the
opportunity of the May 10-15 meetings to raise, both publicly and
privately, our concern that the pervasive use of forced labour in Myanmar
(Burma) must cease immediately.

Yours sincerely

Takashi Izumi
General Secretary