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The Nation (28/5/99)

<center><bold>Students spill blood to mark Myanmar poll anniversary


filed at 14:35 hrs (THLD time) 

BANGKOK, May 27 -- Exiled students slashed their arms with knives and
soaked Myanmar flags with blood Thursday outside Yangon's embassy here in
protest at the junta's refusal to cede power to opposition democrats. 

More than 200 exiled students and Buddhist monks staged the protest on
the ninth anniversary of Myanmar's 1990 election which Aung San Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy won by a landslide. 

Three students cut themselves and spilled their blood over Myanmar flags
before setting them alight, police said. 

The crowd included refugees of several of Myanmar's many ethnic groups,
including Mons and Karens. 

Protestors called on Myanmar's military government to ''immediately
transfer political power to the parliament,'' elected in 1990 which has
not been allowed to meet. 

They also called on the government to release all political prisoners. 

Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD took 392 of the 485 seats on offer in the national
elections on May 27 1990. 

The Nobel laureate issued a call last year for a meeting of the
parliament, prompting a government crackdown on NLD members. 

Sources in Myanmar have said only 90 of the NLD MPs are still active in
the party. The rest have either died, are in jail or have distanced
themselves from the NLD. 

NLD leaders say the desertions are the result of coercion by military
intelligence, while the government says rank and file members are
disenchanted with the party leadership. (AFP)

EU wrap up landmark talks


filed at 13:15 hrs (THLD time) 

BANGKOK, May 27 -- ASEAN and the European Union wrapped up a landmark
meeting here Thursday after sidestepping differences on Myanmar which had
derailed relations for two years. 

But despite the upbeat spin officials put on the meeting Wednesday, they
hinted that differences over Myanmar's human rights record were likely to
cause more problems in the future. 

''These are questions that have to be considered,'' EU Director for South
and Southeast Asia Emiliano Fossati said Wednesday in response to
questions on Myanmar's role at future meetings. 

Organisers said a few rounds of golf were the last thing on the agenda
Thursday after three days of meetings this week which launched ''new

dynamic'' in ASEAN-EU relations. 

Officials from both sides said the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC)
meeting had covered subjects from forestry to narcotics and set up two
new sub-committees on the environment and drugs. 

The EU was a strong opponent to Myanmar joining the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in July 1997, citing gross human rights
abuses and its refusal to recognise the result of a 1990 election. 

EU officials have refused to sit down on the same terms as Myanmar
officials, causing the cancellation of two planned JCC meetings and a
foreign minister's meeting earlier this year in Berlin. 

The compromise which permitted Myanmar to join this week's talks in a
''passive'' role would have to be reconsidered for any ministerial
meetings as well as the next JCC meeting in Europe, officials said. 

Yangon officials face a visa ban in Europe under EU restrictions imposed
to punish alleged human rights violations in Myanmar. 

The sanctions were first applied in 1996 and effectively block ASEAN from
attending talks in Europe, which has shown no inclination to soften its
stance against the junta in Myanmar. 

''Our position will change when we believe there has been sufficient
change in the Burmese attitudes,'' Fossati said, using the old name for

Political talks between the blocs have been at a standstill since 1997
but officials said the next ministerial meeting could take place on the
sidelines of a forthcoming ASEAN meeting in Singapore in July. 

''The decision to convene a new political meeting is to be taken at the
political level,'' Fossati said. 

''So this issue (of Myanmar) could be again examined in a few months from

Apart from Myanmar, ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (AFP)