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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: August 7, 2000

Old school buds here:

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 

August 7, 2000

Issue # 1590

Earth Times: The Burmese Connection: Heroin and AIDS 
CHRO: Chin Woman Arrested and Humiliated by SPDC Soldiers
Shan Herald Agency for News: Anti-SPDC Alliance Denied Meeting UWSA

Nation:  Smugglers, the law and a driving ambition 
Bangkok Post:  Spy security threat
Kyodo: Myanmar rebels hijacking Thai boats for ransom: Thai officer 
The Asian Age:  40,000 Chin Burmese to be deported from India
The Nation: Remnants of Ayutthaya discovered in Burma 

Mizzima: Chile and Sweden support democracy in Burma 

Xinhua: Myanmar-Thai Joint Trade Commission Meets in Yangon

US Committee for Refugees: USCR Deeply Concerned Over Fate of Burmese 
Chin Deported and Detained by  India
The Sunday Times: Book--Enid Blyton goes to Burma? 

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Earth Times: The Burmese Connection: Heroin and AIDS 

Earth Times News Service, August 3, 2000 

Burma continues to be among the largest sources of illicit opium and 
heroin in the world, with poppy cultivation almost doubled since 
1988. To make matters worse, drug abuse-particularly intravenous drug 
use-is on the rise both in Burma and in neighboring countries, and is 
contributing to the alarming increase of HIV-infected people 
throughout the region. As a result, the combined impact of heroin and 
HIV/AIDS has been devastating in the health status and quality of 
life of people not only in Burma, but in neighboring countries as 

According to Burmese official statistics, townships have rates of 
injecting drug use (IDU) behavior among 1.7 percent to 25 percent of 
adults. Government statistics estimate the drug-addicted population 
at 66,463. The UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and Non-Governmental 
Organizations (NGOs) working in the health sector, however, estimate 
their number in 400-500,000.

In 1994, the World Health Organization helped the National AIDS 
Program measure HIV infection among addicts. The results showed that 
HIV infection rates among Burma's addicts are the highest among 
addicts worldwide: 74% in Rangoon, 84 percent in Mandalay, and 91 
percent in Myitkyina, capital of the distant Kachin State on the 
Chinese border. The lethal drugs-AIDS combination is particularly 
found in ethnic minority areas that are the source of the drugs. 
Because most addicts are men, this facilitates the fast spread of the 
infection to women. According to figures form the National AIDS 
Program, of all the HIV infections estimated to have occurred by 
1995, 50 percent were among pregnant women attending antenatal 

According to Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS's executive director, Burma has 
presently at least 440,000 people infected by HIV/AIDS, the second 
worst AIDS epidemic in Asia after Cambodia. The Southeast Asian 
Information Network (SAIN) and other non-governmental organizations 
have confirmed Dr. Piot's estimates. The Burmese junta, however, 
claims that there are in Burma only 21,503 confirmed HIV cases and 
2,854 AIDS cases. 

One of the reasons for the very high rates of HIV infection among 
drug users in Burma is needle sharing, practiced among addicts 
because of the extremely short supply of syringes in the country. 
Also, the "paraphernalia" laws in Burma make carrying needles without 
medical license a crime. Habitual injectors work in "tea stall" 
shooting galleries, where they reuse needles and transmit HIV through 
that mechanism.

Another reason for the combination of high rates of heroin use and 
HIV are the young Burmese internal migrants working in the jade and 
ruby mines in Shan or Kachin states. People come from all over the 
country to work in the mines, in numbers that in the dry season may 
reach the hundreds of thousands. Because many of the HIV positive 
young adults in central Burma have worked in the mines, they probably 
have played a key role in the wide dissemination of HIV across the 

The HIV epidemic among drug users in Burma has led to HIV epidemics 
in other border countries, such as China and India. The heroin route 
through western Burma, across the Indo-Burma border, as well as in 
the northeast Indian State of Manipur, has led to an explosive 
parallel outbreak of injection drug use and HIV spread. Something 
similar has occurred along Burma's eastern border, particularly in 
China's Yunnan province.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Health states that 80.4 percent of all 
HIV infections in China have been detected in Yunnan, and 60.0 
percent of all confirmed AIDS cases. The Chinese province of Guangxi, 
on the border with Yunnan and Vietnam, has recently experienced 
outbreaks of HIV and IDU associated with a third route from Burma and 
Laos, through northern Vietnam and into China. Drug users in the 
Indian state of Manipur have among the highest rates of HIV infection 
in India. In 1994, WHO estimated that the HIV infection rate among 
drug users in Manipur state was 56 percent, and is spreading rapidly 
into the general population.

Based on studies from a variety of fields, including molecular 
epidemiology studies of HIV, narcotics investigations, and behavioral 
studies of injecting drug users, one can assert that Burmese heroin 
export routes are playing a crucial role in the spread of both 
injecting drug use and HIV infection throughout South and Southeast 
Asia. The failure of the Burmese junta to deal effectively with the 
epidemic of injecting drug use bodes ill for their ability to cope 
also with the AIDS problem. By all practical measures, the Burmese 
junta has become a health threat not only to Burma's own citizens, 
but to those of neighboring countries as well.

(Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international medical consultant and the 
author of "AIDS: A Modern Epidemic." Dr. Chris Beyrer is the Director 
of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training Program and 
the author of "War in the Blood: Sex, Politics and AIDS in Southeast 



Chin Human Rights Organization: Rhododendron News

August 2, 2000

A Chin woman named Pi Sai Sung 29 years old farmer was arrested by a 
group  of Burmese soldiers led by Captain San Lwin from Light 
Infantry Battalion  266 on 26 June 2000 in Bungkhua village of Chin 
State. She was accused of  having relationship with CHRO field 
monitor Mr. Zothang who was killed by  the Burmese soldiers on the 
same date. (  Note: the killing of Mr. Zothang  and two villagers 
were already reported by CHRO in July ). 

She was brought ( on foot ) to Thantlang town which is 28 miles away 
from  Bungkhua village. According to the villagers, the soldiers 
covered her mouth  with rags and let her wear only her bra and under 
skirt along the way. 

Meanwhile Pi Sai SungÆs husband is detain by the SPDC authority in 
Kalaymyo  jail. He was accused of supporting Chin National Front CNF 
and arrested in  July 1999. Two of their children 11 years old 
daughter and 5 years old son  were look after by villagers.

Mr. Zothang was arrested and killed on the spot, along with two 
villagers Pu  Zadun 32 and Mr. Siamhmingthang 24, while he was taking 
rest and chat with  the villagers at Pi Sai Sung's house.

The dead bodies of the victims were buried by the soldiers and they 
plant  land mines near their graves. The villagers requested the 
soldiers for  permission to bury the victims at the village cemetery. 
They got permission  from the soldiers to  take the dead bodies of Pu 
Zadun and Mr.  Siamhmingthang and rebury at the village cemetery, but 
the Burmese soldiers  refuse to clear the land mine they planted at 
the grave of Mr. Zothang of  CHRO.

In addition, Capt. San Lwin and his troops stole Kyats 24,000/- from 
Pu Mang  Hlun and a tape recorder from Pu Chan Hre of Bungkhua 


Shan Herald Agency for News: Anti-SPDC Alliance Denied Meeting UWSA

Shan - EU News

August 4, 2000

In a joint statement dated 2nd August 2000, the anti-Rangoon alliance 
comprising of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), Chin National Front 
(CNF), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Karen National 
Union (KNU),  and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) denied 
having met the United Wa State Army (UWSA). UWSA is accused of being 
heavily involved in drugs trafficking by the United States and 

The statement said that it strongly rejected the Bangkok Post report 
of 31st July, which stated that the UWSA had attended the anti-
Rangoon alliance held somewhere in KNU controlled territory. It said 
no such meeting has ever taken place.  

The joint statement further rejected the possibility at any time to 
have working relationship with the UWSA, so long as it is allied with 
the Burmese military regime.  

The five party alliance shared the same common belief in solving the 
problem of political deadlock through dailogue and peaceful means. It 
also stated that so long as the peaceful settlement of the conflict 
is being denied, the anti-Rangoon alliance has no other choice but to 
fight on. 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________

Nation:  Smugglers, the law and a driving ambition 

August 7, 2000

  A COMBINATION of plenty of cash and a lax attitude among border law-
   enforcers could well facilitate the flow of 800 million 
methamphetamine tablets   across Thailand's border from Burma this 

  Drug traffickers predominantly use just 15 routes. 

  They vary the use of these routes according to security conditions 
at the time and   along the way have established safe houses, bulk-
storage facilities and illicit   laboratories to further refine the 
drugs. The drugs come from Burmese border   regions to Thailand's 
northern provinces, such as Chiang Mai and Mae Hong   Son. The Third 
Army Region gave The Nation an opportunity to investigate these   

  The 15 routes are critical for the smugglers, millions of speed 
pills being carried   along them. 
  From the north, nationwide networks deliver them to end users. And 
the   authorities are simply not doing enough to curb the increasing 
trade. Most   checkpoints along the 15 routes have not been 
conscientious enough when   searching passing vehicles, and that 
enables drug traffickers to elude detection   much of the time. 

  Worse still, when Thai officials do take tough action and engage in 
shootouts with   the drug gangs, during which the gangs may lose some 
of their number, the rings   can easily recruit new members to act 
as "mules" to lug their produce. Few   legitimate professions can 
match the dollars offered by the illicit-drugs business.   Each 
smuggler carrying the drugs and those protecting them receive a few 
baht   for every methamphetamine tablet successfully smuggled into 
Thailand. Those   managing the depots are paid Bt1 a pill. 

  The carriers are usually Chinese Haw, Wa, Thai Yai or Hmong, but 
their well-   armed protectors are mostly Laha Na. The smuggling 
gangs normally set off from   Toh, Tha, Pang Sang or Yon in Burma, 
which lie about five kilometres from the   border. 


Their end destinations are Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao and Mae 
Hong Son.   Following a 36-hour investigative survey, The Nation is 
in a position to   summarise how drugs are smuggled along the 15 
routes. The first route's starting   point is Toh, and its 
destination is Wiang Haeng district, via Piang Luang.    To cover the 
350km route, the gangs travel by car for 200km inside Burma, then   
take up their journey on foot along rugged and mountainous paths that 
wind into   Thailand. Despite the arduous journey, this route is 
regarded as worth the effort,   because it offers the best chance of 
evading Thai authorities.    The second route starts from Tha, with 
the smugglers possibly stopping over at   Pang Sang to observe Thai 
movements in the border region.  
  From there the smugglers make their way to Nam Piang Din village, 
where   methamphetamines carried from Burma are further refined into 
tablets.    These are then transferred to Pang Mapha subdistrict and 
then to Pai district in   Mae Hong Son, before departing for their 
eventual destination, Chiang Mai.   There are several military and 
police checkpoints along the route, but they do   absolutely nothing 
to stem the smooth flow of drugs. 
  One military checkpoint was observed recording car registrations 
but not   searching vehicles for payloads of illicit drugs. Despite 
this, The Nation's camera   gear was thoroughly searched then seized, 
despite the fact that smugglers have   never been known to conceal 
drugs in expensive camera gear.    The camera gear was eventually 
returned, but it was explained that that   particular checkpoint was 
close to a Thai Yai ethnic army base over the Burmese   border, so 
that no camera gear was allowed. 
  Another checkpoint in Pai district was manned by just one police 
officer.    He simply asked to see identity cards and spoke to both 
motorists and   passengers, confirming they were Thai. 

  The remaining checkpoints along the route were poorly manned.    
The third delivery corridor is from Toh to Wiang Haeng district, via 
Pak Sam.   Once smugglers reach Pak Sam, if set checkpoints are 
unmanned, they travel by   car. 

  In the checkpoints are operational, carriers simply either wait 
until the coast is   clear or continue on foot. 

  When The Nation was in the vicinity the checkpoints along the route 
were   unmanned. The fourth route begins at Toh, ends at Wiang Haeng 
district and   takes the smugglers through either Baan Nong Khew or 
Baan Arunothai.    There are some checkpoints along this way, but 
people are rarely searched for   illegal substances. 

  The fifth route also begins in Toh, and.drugs are then taken 
through Baan Muang   Na, then Baan Nong Uog and on to Baan Huay Luk. 

  Via this route the smugglers end their journey in Chiang Dao 
district.    However, because the Chiang Dao checkpoint is very 
strict, smugglers normally   split their shipment at Baan Huay Luk, 
dividing it among several teams to   increase the chances of at least 
some of the drugs reaching their intended   destination. 

  Once successfully through Chiang Dao, the teams efficiently work 
their way to   Chiang Mai city, using every available means of 
transportation.    They travel by bus, motorcycle and bicycle. Some 
disguise themselves as   tourists. Smugglers using this particular 
channel are believed responsible for   deliveries to Buaktuey and Mae 
Sa Mai districts in Chiang Mai.    The sixth route is again from Toh 
to Wiang Haeng district, but via Baan Nong   Karang and Baan 

  And once again, lenient checkpoints offer smugglers a good chance 
of a hassle-   free journey. 

  The seventh path begins at the Burmese villages of Na Kong Mu and 
Nam Ru   Kun, from where smugglers track to Baan Tham Ngob, then to 
Chaiya Prakan   and Baan Huay Luk, before finally reaching Chiang 

  Despite strict enforcement and checks at the Chiang Dao checkpoint, 
smugglers   can generally make their way through the town because 
officers do not work   round-the-clock. 

  The eighth route, from Na KongMu and Nam Ru Kun villages in Burma, 
to   Phayao, via Baan Yang, Chaiya Prakan and Chiang Rai's Mae Suai 
district, is   often used because smugglers prefer to avoid any 
possibility of encountering the   officers manning the Chiang Dao 

  The ninth route begins in Toh, continues through Nam Ru Kun and 
then Baan   Luang and Mae Soon Noi. 

  From Baan Mae Soon Noi, the smugglers have a choice of two 
routes.    If they are headed for Chiang Rai, they make for Fang, Mae 
Ai and then Baan   Thaton. However, if they intend to make for Chiang 
Dao, they go via Chaiya   Prakan. Although Baan Luang is widely 
regarded as being home to one of the   largest methamphetamine depots 
in the North, there are few checkpoints in the   area. The 10th route 
starts from Yon and takes smugglers to Toh and Nam Ru   Kun villages 
in Burma. 

  When the smugglers step onto Thai soil at Baan Lan, they either go 
to Chiang   Rai via Mae Ai or head towards Chiang Dao via Fang and 
Chaiya Prakan.    The 11th route follows a similar path within Burma 
then goes to Baan San Ju and   Mae Ai. At Mai Ai the smugglers assess 
which destination, Chiang Dao or Chiang   Rai, is more convenient. 

  Convenience is determined by checkpoint status along the way.    
The gangs might choose to go directly to Chiang Rai if the way is 
considered   clear, otherwise they move through Fang and Chaiya 
Prakan, to reach Chiang   Dao. The 12th route starts in Yon, tracks 
to Baan Huay Sala and Sukruthai   villages and then continues to Mae 
Ai. Via this channel, the smugglers are again   offered a choice: 
they can move from Mae Ai to Chiang Rai, or they can go to   Chiang 
Dao via Fang and then Chaiya Prakan. 

  Baan Huay Sala is allegedly home to a large holding depot, where 
drugs are   stored in lots of at least 100,000. 

  Information received by The Nation put the largest single shipment 
to pass   through this village at five million pills. 

  It is said the notorious drug lord Lao Ta controls the area's 
operations.    The 13th route is from Yon to Baan Hua Muang Ngam and 
Mae Fa Luang.   Traffickers using this route then make for Mae Chan 
and then Chiang Rai.    Along this channel, speed pills are normally 
stockpiled at Sukruthai, Santisuk and   Patuem villages. Each 
community, at any one time, is believed to be hiding at   least 10 
million methamphetamine tablets. Despite tip-offs about drug   
movements through the area, the smuggling gangs in the area have not 
yet been   apprehended. But then sources said the gangs enjoyed 
political protection. The   14th path also begins at Yon. The speed 
then reaches Thailand at Baan San Ma   Ked. From there the pills are 
carried via Baan Therd Thai and often stored for a   while in Baan 
Hmong. The smugglers then continue to Mae Fa Luang and Mae   Chan 
before reaching their Chiang Rai destination. 

  The military source said that Wuei Sia Kang, known as Prasit in 
Thailand, was   this area's drug lord. 

  The final route is along the Mekong River from either Burma or Laos 
via the   Golden Triangle to Chiang Khong district in Chiang Rai.    
The illegal substances being smuggled are ready-made 
methamphetamine   compositions, which are then refined into small 
tablets in either the Golden   Triangle or Laos. From Chiang Khong 
the pills are transferred by road to the city   of Chiang Rai via 
Wiang Chai district. It is quite clear the Thai authorities could, 
if   they wished, dispatch forces to beef-up the anti-drugs effort 
along each of these   routes. 

  There are, after all, only 15 routes along which trafficking needs 
to be stymied to   reduce the current flood of methamphetamines from 
Burma.    If the checkpoints along these routes were all as strict as 
the one at Chiang Dao,   the drug industry might not be as large as 
it is today.    Manning every available checkpoint, ordering all 
officers to be strict, and   establishing more checkpoints, are 
measures that could help curb the problem.    If the authorities fail 
to take the necessary action, then 87 methamphetamine-   producing 
factories in Burma, 23 of them producing ready-made compositions,   
the others refining them into tablet form, will this year deliver no 
less than 800   million speed pills to Thailand. 

  The Nation (August 7, 2000)


Bangkok Post:  Spy security threat

Aug 7, 2000

  Wassana Nanuam

  At least five Burmese spies are caught entering Thailand every 
month under the guise of   illegal immigrants and they pose a threat 
to national security, said a military intelligence   gathering unit.

  The unit identified two groups of spies. One gathers economic 
information about   Thailand and the other group spies on their 
fellow countrymen, said the Fourth Army   Region's intelligence 
gathering unit.

  On February 12 this year, four Burmese spies were arrested along 
the border in Ranong.   However, only one was prosecuted in court as 
he was found in possession of a list of   orders from a Burmese 
military unit.

  The infantry task force said the number of Burmese illegal 
immigrants in Ranong had   now reached 100,000, compared to 35,000 
ten years ago.

  Bangkok Post (August 7, 2000)


Kyodo: Myanmar rebels hijacking Thai boats for ransom: Thai officer 

RANONG, Thailand, Aug. 5 (Kyodo) -- Myanmar antigovernment guerrillas 
have been hijacking Thai boats near the southern Myanmar port town of 
Murgui and holding them for ransom, a Thai military officer said 

According to the officer, who declined to be identified, minority 
groups such as the Karen National Union, the Arakan Army, the Arakan 
Liberation Party and the All Burmese Students' Democratic Front have 
been taking fishing vessels and holding them for between 300,000 and 
5 million baht per boat, he said.

The groups operate in the Andaman Sea near Murgui, where all Thai 
fishing vessels have to pass before entering the southern Thai 
province of Ranong.

When the trawlers are seized, rebel agents in Ranong contact the ship 
owners and demand a ransom. Some owners are paying 500,000 baht every 
six months, he said.

''The reason Myanmar authorities revoked Thai fishing concessions in 
its waters was to cut a major financial resource for the 
antigovernment minorities,'' he said.

The two powerful Arakan groups, which are based in Myanmar's western 
coastal state of Arakan, operate not only near Thailand and Myanmar 
but also in the Malacca Straight.

They are armed with weapons and high-speed boats, and possess the 
ability to hijack heavy cargo ships, he said.

Since Myanmar ended Thai fishing concessions last October, following 
the siege at its embassy in Bangkok, the pirates have increased 
weapons smuggling, the officer added.

The Arakan and Karen groups trade weapons from the former battle zone 
of the Khmer Rouge to Lankan rebels, Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of 
Tamil Eelam and the Naga National Council, an antigovernment minority 
based in west Myanmar.

''But the weapons from the now-defunct Khmer Rouge are in low demand 
since they are old and outdated. The Tamil Tigers, the biggest 
customer, is now looking for modern arms from Singapore,'' the 
official said. $1=40.65 baht

The Asian Age:  40,000 Chin Burmese to be deported from India

August 6, 2000

New Delhi, August 5: India's decision to deport hundreds of ethnic 
Chin Burmese refugees living in Northeastern region has been 
criticized by the US Committee for Refugees.

Quoting from Chin Freedom Coalition sources, an organization of the 
Chin community, the USCR has claimed that Indian authorities have 
detained some of the Chins who were arrested in Aizawl and from other 
places in Tanhril, Babutlang, Vaiva, Kulikawn, Lungmual.

A USCR political analyst Hiram A. Ruiz said in a statement on 
Saturday that Chin Burmese should be treated as refugees.

He said that many of these people fled to India as they fear 
prosecution in Burma and their repatriation could constitute 
refoulement forced return, an action contrary to international law. 
The USCR believes that Chin people should be treated as other Burmese 
refugees. There are estimated 40, 000 Chin Burmese in Northeast 
living there as refugees since last decade.

The Chin community are among the many ethnic minorities who have 
suffered discrimination under the successive Burmese government and 
persecution by the present regime.

The USCR said that although India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN 
Refugee Convention, it is a member of UNHCR's Executive Committee.


The Nation: Remnants of Ayutthaya discovered in Burma 

Aug 6, 2000.


MOST Thais consider the final fall of Ayutthaya one of the country's 
most humiliating defeats. 

Many would rather not even think about it, while others continue to 
hate the Burmese for the invasion that wiped out what was once one of 
the most prosperous and beautiful cities in Asia. 

Ask Thammasat University historian Kwandee Attawavutichai about it, 
however, and you'll definitely hear a different version of the story. 

For the past year, Kwandee has been searching for descendants of the 
30,000 Thais (or, as they were then known, Siamese) who were taken 
back to Burma as prisoners of war 233 years ago. The second to last 
king of Ayutthaya was thought to be among them. King Uthumporn was 
ordained as a monk but was taken back to Burma nonetheless. 

The first group she met reside in Mandalay. They dress like Burmese 
and none of them speak Thai. 

Asked what struck her the most about these people, Kwandee mentioned 
their facial composition, which is distinct from that of other 
Burmese; the fact that they still tell their offspring that their 
ancestors came from Ayutthaya and that they're proud of it; and the 
way the women tie up their hair, which she described as quite unique. 

Some traditional rituals, such as making sand stupa, are still 
practised. These rituals are conducted during Visakha Puja Days and 
not Songkran, as in Thailand today. 

Residents also recall the name of a village named Reuhaing, which may 
be a corrupt pronunciation of Rahaeng, a village in Tak province. 

Many residents are still goldsmiths, a profession widely known and 
practised in the Ayutthaya period. 

Kwandee said she's certain of their origin from their gold patterns 
and motifs, which are definitely not Burmese. 

What's more, some of them even call themselves Yodhaya people, 
meaning Ayutthayan in Burmese. 

Kwandee also discovered what might be the ruin of a brick stupa 
marking the death of a member of the Ayutthaya royal family. The 
stupa and its inscription are too ornate and beautiful to be a lay 
person's, she said. 

Others suggest it might be a stupa to commemorate the bicentennial of 
those who were taken from Ayutthaya. Some villagers volunteered to 
draw a sketch of how the stupa once looked, and to Kwandee it 
resembled a royal coffin, with its reversed vertical cone shape. 

Kwandee later said it was not King Uthumporn's tomb because he died 
while he was a practising monk and the Burmese practice is to cremate 
monks rather than bury them as they do lay people. Who this seemingly 
royal tomb was dedicated too remains a mystery. 

An elderly woman in an area called Yodayaweng told Kwandee that her 
ancestor was a classical dancer for the court of Ayutthaya and played 
the role of Hanuman, or monkey king, in the Ramayana epic. In that 
community, a small shrine with four Siamese classical puppet masks 
were found. 

There's also another community called Mindasu, which can be 
translated as the abode of princes and princesses. 

Kwandee suspects this is a place where descendants of the Ayutthaya 
royals live. 

Other Burmese call them ajintor, which means "my noble friends". Some 
said their great-grandparents were princes of Ayutthaya but didn't 
know which ones. They still practise dance and keep some lyrics which 
are quite Siamese. 

"The Yodhaya blood still runs vigorously in all my veins and 
arteries," said a doctor by the name of Thinh Hmong.

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________

Mizzima: Chile and Sweden support democracy in Burma 

New Delhi, August 7, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

Aung San Suu Kyi is a very courageous woman and she is in the same 
area of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, said 
Chile President Mr. Ricardo Lagos on 29th July. He was participating 
in an internet conversation with his counterparts from Sweden and 
South Africa. The conference was a part of World Festival 2000 
organized by the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY).

"I am sure that like the others, she will have a victory at the 
endàOur solidarity is with her fight and she has to know that her 
fight is our fight and the fight for all mankind", said the President 
of Chile, a country once ruled by a dictator.

The International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), an organization 
made up of 134 socialist, social democrat and labor youth 
organizations representing a hundred countries around the world, 
organized a world youth festival from 24th July to 30th July at 
Malmo, Sweden. More than 6,000 students and youth participated in the 
festival and eight pro-democracy activists from Burma were among them.

The live internet conversation held at the closing session of the 
festival was participated by Sweden Prime Minister Mr. Goran Persson 
and South Africa President Mr. Thabo Mbeki.

"Aung San Suu Kyi is worth all support. She is courageous. She has a 
right and the demand for democracy, free election that she stands 
behind is also something that we in the social democratic movement 
around the world has stood up for", said Swedish social democrat 
Prime Minister. 
"We are sending a message to her and all fighting comrades in Burma 
that we support you and we wish you the best and we will be with you 
in a fight for democracy and freedom", continues the Sweden Prime 
Minister who was present at the festival spot.

Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister of the Burmese government in exile also 
sent a message to the conference, seeking support from the social 
democrats around the world. "There is a reason for explaining the 
suffering of youths, students, and the other people in my country 
today: that people who enjoy freedom should not take it for granted, 
and that there are many people in this world today who are giving up 
their lives just to gain the most basic of freedoms", said Dr. Sein 
Win in his message, which was read out by a Burmese participant in 
the internet conference.

(See: www.sap.se for the whole internet conversation).


_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Xinhua: Myanmar-Thai Joint Trade Commission Meets in Yangon 
YANGON (Aug. 5) XINHUA - A joint trade commission (JTC) between 
Myanmar and Thailand held its session here Friday to review the 
economic development and bilateral trade between the two countries 
under a memorandum of understanding signed in February 1990, official 
newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Saturday.

Attending the second session of the JTC were Myanmar commercial 
delegation, led by Commerce Minister Brigadier-General Pyi Sone, and 
its Thai counterpart, headed by visiting Thai Deputy Prime Minister 
and Commerce Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi.

The two delegations included officials of chambers of commerce and 
industry and banking entrepreneurs of the two countries.

The discussions focused on implementation of border trade and related 
banking arrangements agreed upon by the designated banks of the two 
sides, purchase of natural gas, tourism development and further 
industry promotion.

Supachai, who arrived here on Thursday for the JTC session, agreed 
with his Myanmar counterpart Pyi Sone that there exists potentials 
and prospects for further expansion and cooperation in the fields of 
overseas and overland trade.

The first session of the Myanmar-Thai JTC took place in Bangkok in 
September 1998.

According to Myanmar official statistics, bilateral trade between 
Myanmar and Thailand, including the border trade, stood at 393.83 
million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 1999-2000 which ended in 
March with Myanmar's import from Thailand amounting to 330.45 million 
and its export to Thailand valued at 63.38 million.

Their bilateral trade in the year accounted for 10.32 percent of 
Myanmar's total foreign trade with Thailand standing as Myanmar 's 
third largest trading partner after Singapore and China.

Besides, Thailand has so far invested a total of over 1.252 billion 
dollars in 46 projects in the country in the sectors of oil and gas, 
hotels and tourism, livestock and fishery, industrial estate and 
transport, also standing the third largest foreign investor in 
Myanmar after Singapore and Britain.


US Committee for Refugees: USCR Deeply Concerned Over Fate of Burmese 
Chin Deported and Detained by  India

August 5, 2000

The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) has told the government of 
India that  it is deeply concerned regarding the fate of several 
hundred ethnic Chin  Burmese refugees whom the Indian authorities 
have detained. In a letter  dated August 3, USCR senior policy 
analyst Hiram A. Ruiz said, "Many of  these persons fled to India 
because they feared persecution in Burma....  Deporting members of 
this group to Burma could constitute refoulement»forced  return of 
refugees. Such an action would be contrary to international law  and 
would warrant strong international condemnation."

Because they fled Burma for reasons similar to those of Burmese who 
are  considered refugees in other countries, USCR considers the 
estimated 40,000  Burmese Chin who have fled to Northeast India over 
the past decade to be  refugees. However, the Indian government does 
not recognize them as  refugees. Neither does it permit the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees  (UNHCR) to visit Mizoram in order to 
ascertain whether the Chin would fall  under its mandate. In the 
past, UNHCR has said that the Chin in Mizoram  might qualify as 

According to the Chin Freedom Coalition, the Indian authorities are  
detaining some of the Chin whom they recently arrested in prisons in 
Aizwal  and Tanhril, and at police posts in Babutlang, Vaiva, 
Kulikawn, and  Lungmual. Thousands of other Chin Burmese living in 
Mizoram are now fearful  of being arrested and forcibly returned to 
Burma. Some are said to be in  hiding.

The Chin, who are largely Christian, are among the many ethnic 
minorities  who have suffered discrimination under successive Burmese 
governments and  persecution by the present Burmese regime.

Although India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, 
it is a  member of UNHCR's Executive Committee, and generously hosts 
several large  refugee populations, including Tibetans, Sri Lankans, 
and Afghans. USCR  urged the Indian authorities to extend their 
hospitality to Burmese refugees  living in Mizoram.

For further information contact:

Hiram A. Ruiz
Senior Policy Analyst
U.S. Committee for Refugees
(202) 347-3507


_____________________ OTHER  ______________________

The Sunday Times: Book--Enid Blyton goes to Burma? 
by Amitav Ghosh 
HarperCollins ú16.99 pp552 
Amitav Ghosh is probably best known for The Calcutta Chromosome, his 
strange and brilliant metaphysical thriller, so the tagline on the 
cover of his hefty new offering comes as rather a surprise. It 
says: "The magnificent, poignant, fascinating novel of three 
generations that starts in Mandalay . . . " Which clearly indicates 
that the publishers think this is a middlebrow family saga. 

They're right. The Glass Palace is just that. It is commercial rather 
than literary fiction, a marked comedown for a writer of Ghosh's 
proven talent. And we all know that "magnificent, poignant, 
fascinating" translates as "long, soapy, tedious". There isn't one 
badly composed sentence in the book, except the very last, which 
seems to have slipped a grammatical cog somewhere; on the other hand, 
there isn't one particularly good sentence, either. 

The prose trundles along on deeply uninspiring lines. "King Thebaw 
was of medium height, with a plump face, a thin moustache and finely 
shaped eyes." Police descriptions can be livelier. "After this, in 
what seemed like an impossibly short time, Dolly and Uma became good 
friends." Pure Enid Blyton. "Dinu endured his month-long spell in 
hospital with exemplary stoicism, earning accolades from the staff." 
And this seems to have strayed in from a parish newsletter. 

Thebaw, in case you were wondering, is king of Burma in 1885. When 
his customs officials get into a dispute with a British logging 
company, Britain sends Indian army troops to seize Mandalay, his 
capital, and depose him. Rajkumar, an Indian orphan boy working at a 
food stall, witnesses the sacking of the king's palace, not by the 
soldiers but by the Burmese population, who bow and scrape 
apologetically to the royal family while making off with their 
trinkets. This is when Rajkumar first sets eyes on the beautiful 
Dolly, another orphan, serving as handmaiden to the queen. 

Dolly is one of the few staff who accompany the king and queen into 
exile at Ratnagiri on the west coast of India. Rajkumar, meanwhile, 
grows up and makes his fortune in the teak business; there is quite 
an interesting account of the logging process, fulfilling the genre 
requirement for laboriously researched incidental detail. Then 
Rajkumar also makes his way to Ratnagiri where, courtesy of Uma, the 
wife of the Indian district administrator, he gains an introduction 
to Dolly. 

They marry and raise two sons, Neel and Dinu, back in Rangoon. Uma, 
finding herself tragically widowed, travels the world and becomes a 
leading light in the Indian independence movement. As the second 
world war looms, Indians are expected to defend an empire they are 
increasingly fed up with. The now-adult Dinu, a mild-mannered 
photographer, thinks this is fair enough. He tells Uma, "Hitler and 
Mussolini are among the most destructive leaders in all of human 

Uma refutes his argument. "Racialism rules through aggression and 
conquest. Is the Empire not guilty of all this?" Her nephew Rajun, a 
newly commissioned Indian army officer, thinks she is batty and sides 
with Dinu, but once war breaks out he sees the error of his ways and 
defects to join the pro-Japanese Indian National Army (INA). Ghosh 
lays on the crisis-of-conscience stuff with a trowel, but fails to 
make it convincing. 

The authorial voice assures us that, to "the Indian public", the INA 
were not turncoats but heroic resistance fighters. This is, indeed, 
the received Indian opinion, but it doesn't bear much examination, 
since a Japanese victory would hardly have advanced the cause of 
independence. Ghosh goes on to remark that "imperialism and fascism 
were twin evils, one being a derivative of the other". In truth, they 
are both offshoots of nationalism, the very vice Ghosh is indulging 

Towards the end, the novel includes a passage about a rubber 
plantation in 1950s Malaya. The emergency going on at the time is not 
mentioned, presumably because it involved a successful British 
campaign against an attempted communist takeover; and Ghosh, who 
lives in New York, doesn't want to alienate American readers by 
suggesting these particular anti-British rebels were good guys. The 
effect is somewhat comical, unlike much else in this worthy, plodding 



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