BurmaNet News: May 31-June 2 2003
editor at burmanet.org
editor at burmanet.org
Mon Jun 2 17:31:01 EDT 2003
May 31-June 2 2003 Issue #2249
LA Times: Myanmar cracks down on opposition
Nation: Suu Kyi seriously hurt: report
Irrawaddy: NLD member missing
AP: Myanmar officials turn away university students after Suu Kyi detention
NYT: Burmese rulers close more offices of pro-democracy party
SHAN: Salween dam survey goes on
Kyodo: Japan concerned about Suu Kyi detention in Burma
Kyodo: Thai premier calls for normalcy in Myanmar soonest
Kaladan: 704 Rohingyas repatriated in May
SHAN: Plant awaits power producer from Japan
Reuters: UN urges Myanmar to free democracy leader Suu Kyi
AP: EU calls for release of Myanmar opposition leader
AFP: Britain summons Myanmar ambassador over Aung San Suu Kyi detention
Reuters: US urges Myanmar to release Suu Kyi
Reuters: Australia calls on Myanmar to release Suu Kyi
NCGUB: Scores killed in junta attack on NLD motorcade
State Dept.: Detention of Aung San Suu Kyi
Nation: Burmese hopes dashed again
AI: Safety of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party in danger
Los Angeles Times June 2 2003
Myanmar Cracks Down on Opposition;
Nation's military rulers hold pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi for
a third day. Party offices and universities are shut down.
By Richard C. Paddock
In a major crackdown on Myanmar's democracy movement, the country's
military rulers held opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for a third day
Sunday, closed offices of her party and shut down universities.
Suu Kyi, who had been taken into "protective custody" Friday in northern
Myanmar, was transported to Yangon, the nation's capital, and detained at
a guest house.
Suu Kyi, 57, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, spent a total of
7 1/2 years under house arrest. Her National League for Democracy won
parliamentary elections by a landslide in 1990, but she and her party were
never allowed to take power.
She was released a year ago after 19 months in captivity and began
traveling around the country, previously known as Burma, to rebuild her
On Friday, fighting erupted between her supporters and a crowd of about
5,000 pro-government demonstrators as she entered a town in northern
Myanmar, authorities said. The government reported that four people were
killed, 50 were injured and she was taken into custody.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Sunday that he was
following the situation "with concern." U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail
was scheduled to arrive in Yangon later this week for talks originally
aimed at restarting negotiations between Suu Kyi and the government.
Pro-democracy activists outside the country condemned Suu Kyi's arrest and
said the riot was staged by the government, giving authorities a pretext
to take her into custody.
"This is the regime's most serious crackdown on democracy in years," said
Aung Din, a former political prisoner who is policy director of the
Washington-based Free Burma Coalition. "This latest outrage proves yet
again that Burma's regime has lied to the international community and lied
to the Burmese people."
The Free Burma Coalition suggested that the riot might have been an
attempt to assassinate her. The government denied reports that an
unidentified gunman shot at her car.
A Washington-based opposition group that calls itself the National
Coalition Government of Burma alleged that as many as 70 people may have
been killed and that Suu Kyi was struck on the head in an attack organized
by the government. The coalition, citing sources in Myanmar, said soldiers
and convicts recruited from Mandalay prison were among the crowd of more
than 500 attackers.
Government officials blamed the clash on Suu Kyi and said she had created
unrest by giving speeches critical of the regime. They also accused her of
opening party offices in some locations without notifying authorities.
"These incidents happened because Aung San Suu Kyi had taken advantage of
her party organizational trip to campaign publicly, thereby making many
people resent her actions," Labor Minister Tin Win told reporters
At least 18 National League for Democracy leaders were detained with Suu
Kyi. Other party officials were placed under house arrest in Yangon,
formerly known as Rangoon. Western diplomats who attempted to visit them
were turned away by authorities.
National League for Democracy offices were closed in Yangon and other
major cities, and the phone lines apparently were cut. Government
spokesman Than Tun said the party headquarters would remain closed "until
the present problem is solved." Universities, which have been centers of
anti-government opposition in the past, were ordered shut indefinitely
Sunday, a day before a new semester was to begin. Student protests
prompted authorities to close campuses from 1996 to 2000.
Hundreds of political prisoners had been released in the last year, but
human rights activists estimated that more than 1,000 remained in custody.
Suu Kyi has made their release one of her top demands.
Since the military brutally crushed a popular uprising in 1988, Myanmar
has been increasingly isolated from the outside world.
The United States and other Western countries have imposed economic
sanctions and the country's economy has stagnated. Today, the export of
illegal drugs is one of Myanmar's major businesses.
After Friday's clash and the detention of Suu Kyi and other party leaders,
democracy activists called on Congress to pass even tougher sanctions.
"These killings and arrests demonstrate that increased international
pressure through sanctions and isolating the regime politically and
economically is the only policy option we have," Aung Din said.
Nation June 3 2003
Suu Kyi seriously hurt: report
Burma's Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi suffered a serious head injury
in violent clashes between her supporters and a government-run
organisation in a northern Burmese province over the weekend, an
opposition group said.
The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) said Suu
Kyi, leader of National League for Democracy (NLD) and Nobel laureate, had
afterwards been taken to Rangoon and put under house arrest in a "secure
location" along with 19 followers.
"During the clashes, Aung San Suu Kyi was hit on the head and suffered a
serious head injury," the NCGUB said.
The death toll in the violence remained unclear. Burmese military
officials said four had been killed and 50 injured while the NLD and other
dissidents said the toll could be higher, with as many as 17 dead and
dozens more hurt.
Suu Kyi and NLD members are believed to have been put in Rangoon's Insein
prison. The junta refused to confirm or deny this.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the government was
keeping a close watch on the situation and believed the Burmese junta
would act to bring the situation back to normal.
Burma's ruling junta intensified its crackdown on opponents yesterday,
shutting down nearly all schools and tightening its stranglehold on the
The junta cited Friday night's violence in northern Burma as justification
for closing all NLD offices.
A statement issued by the junta yesterday said all schools under the
Education Ministry and the Science and Technology Ministry were covered by
the order but those under the Health and Transportation Ministries were
The crackdown is the most severe in recent years and was accompanied by
sharp criticism of Suu Kyi and the NLD in the government-controlled press.
Irrawaddy June 2 2003
NLD Members Missing
Dozens of Burmese opposition members are missing after Fridays crackdown
and the arrest of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, sources inside the country say.
Pro-democracy groups now fear that the real number of deaths is much
higher than military reports of four. "Many of the opposition members who
accompanied Suu Kyi havent come back to their homes yet," a resident of
Mandalay, told The Irrawaddy. "We dont know their whereabouts and their
families are extremely worried."
Most of the people missing are from cities and towns in Upper Burma,
including Mandalay, Maymyo and Yenangyaung. More than 150 supporters from
the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) in Mandalay accompanied
Suu Kyi. Most are now missing. They include Win Mya Mya, a well-known
female NLD figure from Mandalay, and Myo Naing, also of Mandalay.
Sources close to the families of others who are missing say they
disappeared after the clash in Ye-Oo, Sagaing Division, last Friday.
Official reports from the military government say four people were killed
and 50 injured in the clash. But people are not convinced.
"The government always lies to us. If forty were killed, they will say
four people died," said a Rangoon resident, who has been following the
news on foreign broadcasters. A political observer in the capital said
that the news from the regime is completely one-sided and that the NLD
will definitely have a different story.
"I am pretty sure the situation is more serious than what they told us in
the newspaper," said a veteran opposition figure in Rangoon.
Unconfirmed sources say that most of the casualties were students. A
source in Mandalay said that a Buddhist abbot from Monywa was among the
dead and that an NLD photographer was shot.
According to the Washington-based the National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma (NCGUB), events on Friday were far more serious than
official reports. The crackdown involved a direct attack by hundreds of
military personnel and a group of organized civilians, leaving scores of
people dead, the NCGUB said.
Suu Kyi and her entourage reportedly faced open fire from military
personnel. According to several reports, she and party vice chairman U Tin
Oo were injured.
A journalist in Rangoon said that residents in the capital were shocked to
hear news of the clash and Suu Kyis arrest. People in the country believe
Suu Kyi was ambushed by the military and pro-junta groups. Soe Moe, an
exiled activist compared the attack to guerrilla-style warfare.
After the clash, the military regime shut down universities and colleges,
due to return for a new semester this morning. Witnesses in Rangoon say
soldiers and police are guarding the entrances to universities in Rangoon.
Last night, local authorities went around telling students in towns and
villages there would be no school tomorrow.
According to an Associated Press report, high schools around the country
will also stay closed. Military authorities have extended the summer break
until at least July 1.
Universities and high schools have always been the hotbeds of dissent in
Burma, and analysts say the regimes move to close them down is an
indication that the generals are worried about a snowball effect if
students organize demonstrations. Others say the closure is confirmation
that students were killed in the clash.
Associated Press June 2 2003
Myanmar officials turn away university students after Suu Kyi detention
By AYE AYE WIN
Myanmar authorities turned away students from universities on Monday, the
first day of a new semester, suspending classes just days after they
detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and closed her party's
The crackdown on Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party
follows a violent clash Friday in northern Myanmar between her supporters
and thousands of pro-government protesters, which officials said left four
people dead and 50 injured.
The junta said Saturday that it had placed Suu Kyi and 19 members of her
party into "protective custody" after Friday's clash.
But worries were growing over Suu Kyi, whose whereabouts were unknown, as
Myanmar exiled opposition groups suggested in unconfirmed reports that the
1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate might have been hurt in Friday's violence.
Australia, Germany, and the European Union joined international calls for
Suu Kyi's release.
"This repressive behavior confirms the regime's lack of interest in the
return to democracy," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana Solana said in
The government claims Suu Kyi's supporters instigated Friday night's
Exiled opposition groups, however, say Suu Kyi's motorcade was ambushed by
government-backed crowds and the military.
The Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition Government of the Union of
Burma, or NCGUB, said in a news release that Suu Kyi had suffered a
serious head injury in the confrontation.
A spokesman for the NCGUB, a self-styled government in exile closely
linked to the NLD, said its information came from multiple sources inside
Myanmar which have been reliable in the past.
Aung Din, the policy director for another U.S.-based group, the Free Burma
Coalition, said he had heard the same information.
The NCGUB and Aung Din also claimed that soldiers opened fire on Suu Kyi's
supporters, an allegation the government denies. The NCGUB said it has
heard reports that as many as 70 people had been killed in the
confrontation and at a protest the next day.
The military government exercises tights controls on the press, making it
difficult to confirm these reports.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Monday "the whole world" is
concerned about Suu Kyi's detention, and the junta would have to act to
bring the situation "back to normal."
"There can be no justification for the continued detention of Aung San Suu
Kyi and her supporters and I urge that they be released immediately,"
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement.
In Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Walter Lindner said Germany expects
"the leadership in Myanmar to take all necessary steps toward restoring
the unimpeded political work of the NLD, and to restore freedom of
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Saturday the violence underlined
the "urgent need" for the government and opposition to talk.
Annan's special envoy to Myanmar, Razali Ismail, still expects to visit
Myanmar on Friday.
In 2000, he brokered reconciliation talks between the government and Suu
Kyi, raising hopes of ending the country's political impasse, which dates
back to the NLD's landslide victory in a 1990 general election, never
honored by the military.
University sources said on condition of anonymity Sunday that authorities
had decided to suspend classes at all universities and colleges under the
Ministry of Education.
No reason was given for the suspension, and there was no official
announcement. It was not immediately known whether the closures were
related to the crackdown on Suu Kyi and the NLD.
Myanmar's university campuses in the past have been hotbeds of
pro-democracy activism. After intermittent closures since 1988, they were
shut down after 1996 student demonstrations and remained closed until
The latest order applies to institutions under the education ministry, but
classes were also suspended Monday at the Science and Technology
Ministry's Yangon Technology University, known for student activism.
Students at the gates of the University of Foreign Language in Yangon said
no prior notice was given about the suspension of classes.
"I am surprised and disappointed with the closure. I am about the get my
degree in another four months," said a university student who asked not to
The scheduled reopening of the country's primary and high schools was also
postponed by two weeks.
The schools are scheduled to reopen on July 1 instead of June 16, a school
teacher said on condition of anonymity.
New York Times June 2 2003
Burmese Rulers Close More Offices of Pro-Democracy Party
By SETH MYDANS
The military rulers of Myanmar continued a crackdown today that analysts
said appeared to signal a new, harsher period that would leave little room
for the activities of the democratic opposition.
One day after announcing that it had detained the pro-democracy leader Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi and padlocked her party headquarters, the government
moved to close other party offices around the country, according to
reports from Myanmar, the former Burma.
It also shut down universities, as it has periodically in the past in
order to prevent students from protesting government actions and demanding
more freedoms. Student riots led to a pro-democracy uprising in 1988 that
was crushed by force and that brought the current junta to power.
The government appeared today to have cut the telephone lines of members
of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, and
it was impossible to reach them for their account of events.
Diplomats in Yangon, the former Rangoon, said they had been turned away by
officials when they tried to visit the party headquarters.
The government said Saturday that it had taken Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and
19 officials of her party into "protective custody" after a melee
involving her supporters and a pro-government group that had caused 4
deaths and 50 injuries.
An unconfirmed report from a Washington-based Myanmar pro-democracy group,
the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, described the
incident as far more serious, involving a direct attack by the military
and a military-supported civilian group that left scores of people dead.
The incident took place in northern Myanmar, where Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi
was on her seventh trip to visit supporters around the country since being
freed from house arrest a year ago.
A government spokesman declined to say where or how long they would be
held or how long the party headquarters would be shut.
But analysts said that the crackdown was clearly a major one and that the
government appeared to be shutting off the limited political freedom it
had allowed Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party since her release.
That release appeared to be an experiment by the government aimed at
reaching an accommodation with the democratic opposition.
But whether it had ever intended to, the government never followed through
on its promises to free political prisoners and begin discussions with
Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi.
It may have been that the enthusiastic receptions she received from ever
larger crowds caused the government to have second thoughts.
"What was happening was that more and more people kept coming from greater
distances just to come and see her and give her that godlike treatment,"
said Josef Silverstein, a longtime expert on Myanmar at Rutgers
"As long as she has this charismatic hold over the people, the military
will never be accepting of it," he said. "Even when they were harassed,
people still showed up."
He said the military might have felt ready to take harsh steps now because
it had been working to insulate itself against pressure from the West by
strengthening relations with its large Asian neighbors, China, India and
"I think the Burmese have been on a long-term trajectory here on two
grounds," Mr. Silverstein said. "One, of altering their international
position and, two, of finally trying to eliminate Aung San Suu Kyi."
In recent months, he said, government leaders have visited their three big
neighbors to build up personal relationships and make large-scale business
deals. Those include loans, construction agreements, highway links and an
agreement on natural gas resources as a buffer against Western economic
penalties and denials of loans from major lenders like the World Bank.
These Asian neighbors are not as committed to democracy in Myanmar as
Western nations are. Their support could free the government's hands to
try to shut down Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's activities and seal her off once
again in house arrest. But the government has not shown itself to be a
very good judge of the public mood. It was taken by surprise and ended up
annulling the results of a parliamentary election in 1990 when Mrs. Aung
San Suu Kyi's party won 80 percent of the seats.
It has failed to turn the public against her with repeated campaigns of
vilification in the press.
As her year of freedom drew to an end and harassment increased, Mrs. Aung
San Suu Kyi was already voicing growing discouragement.
"Ignoring the results of the 1990 election amounts to insulting the people
and disrespecting the people," she said on May 27. "We, the National
League for Democracy party, stand firm for implementation of the results
of the 1990 election."
Shan Herald Agency for News June 1 2003
Salween dam survey goes on
The latest report by Salween Watch, a group formed in 1998 to gather and
disseminate information about the dam projects on the Salween, says survey
and road-building at the Tasarng dam site in Shan State is still
proceeding, despite approaching monsoons.
The account that covers the period between 13 March-19 May claims the
digging of 4 tunnels, two on each side of the river at Tang Palao dam
site, and drillings of perpendicular holes that reach the water level, had
already ceased a month after MDX-Thai Sawad joint team arrived there on 21
"The villagers said they were not involved in the tunneling chores and
thus escaped sudden deaths that occurred when the tunnels caved in," reads
one part of the draft report in Shan, rejecting earlier S.H.A.N. report:
(Residents advised to move, 14 February). Citing poor wages, 500 kyat per
day, they managed to avoid the job that involved such hazards. The company
then hired workers from lowland Burma, 30 of whom perished due to the
cave-ins and other causes. "We only knew how many died when the religious
rites were held for them afterwards," one villager told the reporter.
The locals however were not allowed to go scot-free, continues the report.
Villagers from Palao and Sala were required to carry supplies, cut wood
and construct shelters for the army units assigned with security duty for
the Thai team. Infantry Battalion #225 was stationed at Palao and Infantry
Battalion #99 at Sala further south at the time. Some 30 Thais were
quartered east of the village. (An insider source reported earlier that
construction of 9 huts roofed with zinc sheets had been completed on 5
Four of them were seen each morning and evening in Palao, where bamboo
stakes, two cubits long, stood along the water-line, each within eyesight
of the other, stretching 3 miles upstream. There were also three stakes
that went up the steep bank, each about 6 ft high and 6 ft distant from
The rest of the Thais and remaining Burmese workers, using 2 tractors and
3 bulldozers, were engaged on the construction of a gravel road, 25 ft
wide, from the Tasarng Bridge in the south to the dam site, about 15 km
long, according to a Thai Sawad executive. "Some two kilometers south of
Palao, their work was impeded by a 50-meter high rock cliff that needed to
be blasted," says the report. "That would take time, but the rest would be
An old road used by Thai Sawad while it was still logging the area ten
years ago still stands, but lying west of the new road at a low elevation,
it would be unusable during the monsoons when the water level was high.
The reporter rejects previous reports about a new road being in
construction that would skirt along the eastern bank south of Tasarng
Bridge and make a wide detour of the township's seat, Mongton, before
entering Thailand. (Dam cover-up for strategic road, S.H.A.N., 23 April
"I saw no loggable trees anymore," says the reporter. "The area east of
the Salween from Tasarng up to Tapaw (north of Palao) was denuded of
timber. The only forested area I could find was between Tapaw and the Hsim
confluence further north."
Kawpa, a village one mile southwest of Palao on the opposite bank and
abandoned during the Kuomintang incursion more than 40 years earlier,
still had its huge Sitting Buddha, 7 meters tall if the 3 meter high
throne was added, on the reporter's last visit. "It was no longer there,"
he says. "Instead, the whole place had been leveled out to make way for
two helicopter pads."
A Thai dam activist, after listening to the draft report, wondered whether
the Bangkok-based MDX knew that another dam project on the Salween down
south, that is being planned by the Electricity Generating Authority of
Thailand, on conclusion, would create a back flood that would reach as far
as Tasarng, just short of the Hsim confluence but well above the projected
dam site in Shan State.
"It will be interesting to see how it will react to the news," he said.
A new report in Thai on the dam projects on the Salween: Sokanatakam Song
Phaendin (Tragedy on two lands) is being launched tomorrow (2 June) by
Southeast Asia Rivers Network.
Kyodo News Service June 2 2003
JAPAN CONCERNED ABOUT SUU KYI DETENTION IN BURMA
Japan expressed concern Monday 2 June about the detention Friday of
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by Myanmar's Burma military
"Japan expects the Myanmar government to treat those in custody
appropriately and rectify the situation immediately, including ensuring
them freedom of political activities," Foreign Ministry spokesman
Hatsuhisa Takashima said in a statement. Takashima said Tokyo "has been
closely following, with concern, the situation involving Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and other members of the National League for Democracy (NLD)".
The military government said Saturday that Suu Kyi and some other NLD
members have been placed in "protective custody" after violent clashes
between Suu Kyi's supporters and pro-junta protesters in northern Myanmar
where throngs of people turned out to welcome her.
Kyodo News Service June 2 2003
Thai premier calls for normalcy in Myanmar soonest
By Varunee Torsricharoen
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Monday that Myanmar's military
government has to bring normalcy back to the country as soon as possible
because the international community is increasingly concerned over the
internal politics in Myanmar.
Thaksin was responding to questions about Myanmar's junta putting
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi into 'protective custody' last week.
'I think the whole world is concerned and I think Myanmar's government
understands it. The Myanmar government probably will have to try to do
something to bring everything back to normal as soon as possible,' Thaksin
said during a trade ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) forum which began Monday in Khon Kaen in northeastern
Meanwhile, another Thai parliamentarian expressed concern ongoing
stalemate in Myanmar will tarnish image of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN).
'The re-arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi is regrettable because it delays the
process of dialogue leading to national reconciliation and it could hasten
a decision by the international community to take further action,' said
Kobsak Chutikul, a deputy chairman of Thai lower house's committee on
foreign affairs, during the Khon Kaen talks.
Kobsak added the arrest should be a 'paramount' concern for the
international community, and can 'only aggravate' the political and
economic situation in Myanmar.
'Any unrest in Burma (Myanmar) will have a negative impact on Thailand at
the same time any continued stalemate in Burma will sap vitality from
ASEAN and present a continuing problem for the image of ASEAN,' said the
parliamentarian and former Foreign Ministry bureaucrat.
Kobsak urged the Thai government, as an important neighbor to Myanmar, for
a policy review toward Yangon because Myanmar is to hold ASEAN
chairmanship and host key meetings with ASEAN's trading partners,
including the European Union and the United States, in the next three
If the partners will not go to Yangon for the ASEAN meetings, 'it will
affect the credibility of ASEAN and set a bad precedent,' he warned.
ASEAN's annual chairmanship is rotated by alphabetical order. Cambodia is
After Cambodia, next rotations are Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.
Myanmar's junta said Saturday that Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy
(NLD) Vice Chairman Tin Oo and 18 NLD youths are being detained following
a clash between her supporters and pro-junta protesters in northern
Myanmar where throngs of people turned out to welcome her.
It is not known whether Suu Kyi, who was released from 19 months of
confinement to her home in Yangon in May 2002, was injured or not.
Suu Kyi has led the fight for democracy within Myanmar through the NLD,
which won the country's 1990 elections by a landslide but was never
allowed by the generals to take up its seats in parliament.
Kaladan Press June 2 2003
704 ROHINGYAS REPATRIATED IN MAY
Coxs Bazar, June 02: A total of 704 Rohingya refugees belong to 121
families were repatriated to their homes in Burma from Ukhiya and Teknaf
camps in May, according to BSS of Coxs Bazar.
Sources in UNHCR and local officials said this is the largest group of
refugees who went back since in August 1997.
UNHCR officials said nearly 250,000 Rohingya refugees fled from Burma to
Bangladesh in late 1991-1992 to escape the reported widespread human
rights abuses at the hand of military and the Nasaka forces.
So far, 234,007 Rohingya refugees belonging to 46,776 families have been
repatriated to their motherland, while 21,197 are still remaining in the
two refugee camps waiting their turn.
The refugee repatriation process step up after meeting with Burmas
director general of immigration last May 18-22, the Bangladesh authorities
requested Burma to set up the repatriation process.
Despite of clear record of discrimination towards Rohingyas and
un-congenial atmosphere in Arakan by the Government of Burma, the office
of the UNHCR has stepped up repatriation efforts in an attempt to phase
out its responsibilities to the 21,000refugees residing in camps in
It is clear that camp officials to coerce refugees to return to Burma.
Methods of coercion such as insufficient food supply, forced relocation
within the camps to poorer housing, beatings, and, most commonly, threats
of and actual jail sentences, said RI.
I have only two choices: I go to jail, or I go back to Burma. Going to
jail is better than going to Burma, one refugee told to our
The refugees who do not want to return cannot stay in refugee camps. The
Government will send them back even if they do not want to go. Bangladesh
is a poor country and cannot take care of this situation.
There is also the issue of the 16,000 refugees whom the government of
Burma has not yet approved for repatriation.
Some refugees have chosen to leave the camps and live illegally in hiding
in surrounding towns.
Shan Herald Agency for News June 2 2003
Plant awaits power producer from Japan
Sources coming to the border told S.H.A.N. work has stopped at the biggest
waterfall in Shan State since the last visit made by two Japanese
engineers in February.
"We were told that the work would resume on the arrival of generators from
Japan," said a former headman from Kengtawng, where the 975 ft high
Zong-arng Falls with an estimated power capacity of 60 megawatts is
Kengtawng, a sub township of Mongnai, is 100 miles east of Taunggyi and 31
miles northeast of the township seat.
The Japanese, during their three day visit, 2-5 February, had inspected
the western part of Zong-arng, which is 14 miles south of Tonhoong, the
The Kengtawng power plant project, abandoned in December 2001 by Chinese
engineers after 62 members died through various causes, was officially
underway again after Vice Senior General Maung Aye made a visit to the
waterfall on 15 November last year. According to the New Light of Myanmar,
there will be three turbines generating 30 metawatts at the first phase
and another turbine generating 15 megawatts at the second phase.
A 25-ft wide gravel road had been completed during the dry season. "Since
then we saw only thousands of troops from around the area engaging in
continuous military exercises," said a 50-year old native of Kengtawng who
recognized IB 246, LIB 332 and LIB 524 from Kunhing, IB 99 from Langkher
and IB 294, LIBs 520, 575 and 577 from Mongpan, among others.
A basic military training school had also been set up at Wiang-kao, west
of Tonhoong, since January 2002, that is producing 2,500 new soldiers
every 4-months, under the supervision of Col Tint Lwin. Nakhaozao or
Nakholiang, an abandoned field south of the school is being used as the
"It was Col Tint Lwin who informed us on the Shan New Year (5 December
2002) that by the year 2004, Zong-arng would be supplying electricity not
only to Kengtawng but also the whole southern Shan State," reported
another who brought a video taped record of the event.
There are three logging companies currently working in the area west of
Kunhing-Tonhoong-Mongpan road: Asia World of Law Hsinghan, Shan State
South of Maha Ja and a local firm owned by a Toon Myat. The three had been
authorized to cut 3,000 tons of teakwood: AW 1,500, SSS 750 and TM 750.
"Since the logging started in 2001, about 50% of our forested areas have
gone," he estimated.
Kengtawng, one of the most scenic areas of Shan State, used to boast a
hundred villages before the 3-year massive forced relocation drive was
launched in 1996. Now it has no more than 20 villages, regrouped under 4
tracts: Tonhoong, Nawnghee, Kunmong and Kunlong, which in turn report to
Nyi Nyi Aung, the sub-township officer.
Units stationed in Kengtawng: LIB 569 (Kunmong), LIB 576 (Pasa) and LIB
574 (Takoon) are commanded by Col Thaung Shwe who is headquartered at
Nawng Ook, a village south of Tonhoong. The colonel reports in turn to
Brig-Gen Nyunt Hlaing, Commander of the Military Operation Command #17, in
Reuters June 2 2003
UN urges Myanmar to free democracy leader Suu Kyi
The military says Suu Kyi was taken into ''protective custody'' after four
people were killed in clashes between her supporters and pro-government
Most of the party's offices around the country and all universities
and colleges -- traditional hotbeds of unrest -- were closed after
the Nobel peace laureate and other opposition leaders were detained
on Friday while touring northern Myanmar.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling
the detentions ''most regrettable,'' urged the government to
''renew its commitment to political reform and human rights,
starting with the immediate and unconditional release'' of Suu Kyi.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan was also worried by Suu Kyi's
detention and wanted her immediate release, a spokesman said.
''Suu Kyi, as both a national leader and the leader of the NLD,
must be allowed to play a role, in cooperation with the government
and others, in taking steps to bring about national reconciliation,
in Myanmar,'' spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
The people of Myanmar ''are overwhelmingly in favor of change,''
Diplomats said they feared the new detentions could deal a death
blow to stalled national reconciliation talks between the generals
and the opposition, which began in 2000.
U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, who brokered the talks, is due in
Myanmar on Friday, and Annan has instructed Razali to press the
government to start the process of national reconciliation, Eckhard
Associated Press June 2 2003
EU calls for release of Myanmar opposition leader
The European Union criticized Myanmar's military government Monday and
called for the release of the country's opposition leader Aung San Suu
Suu Kyi - who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1991 - was detained Friday
following a deadly crackdown on opposition supporters
Myanmar is also known as Burma.
"The EU Presidency notes with great concern the latest developments in
Burma/Myanmar, in particular the acts undertaken by the regime against the
democratic opposition," a statement said.
"The Presidency deplores the decision of the Burmese authorities to detain
(Suu Kyi) ... offices and to suspend the activities of the universities
throughout the country."
The statement was issued in Greece which holds the current presidency of
Myanmar's junta came to power in 1988 after crushing pro-democracy protests.
Suu Kyi, who heads the National League for Democracy, was kept under house
arrest from 1989 to 1995 after being held without trial on national
A number of nations, including the European Union and the United States,
have placed sanctions against Myanmar.
Agence France Presse June 2 2003
Britain summons Myanmar ambassador over Aung San Suu Kyi detention
Britain Monday called in Myanmar's ambassador in London, Kyaw Win, to
express its "deep concern" over the detention and welfare of pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, detained by Myanmar's military junta.
Junior Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell reiterated a call for the
immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel peace laureate, who
was taken into "protective custody" at the weekend following pro-democracy
protests that turned violent Friday.
"Reports from Burma that Aung San Suu Kyi may have been injured during the
attacks cause us particular anxiety, and I have sought assurances from the
Burmese government that they will protect (her) welfare and safety," said
Rammell in a statement.
"It is wholly unacceptable for the regime to detain, in this manner and
circumstance, someone who clearly commands such significant political
Rammell added: "I explained to the ambassador that we are very disturbed
by reports of violence between supporters of (Aung San Suu Kyi's) National
League for Democracy (NLD) and supporters of the military authorities.
"Our deepest sympathies go out to those injured as well as to the families
of those killed.
"I asked the ambassador to convey to the regime our fundamental concerns
about the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League
At the time of her arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi had been on a month-long
political tour of northern Myanmar, one of a series she has made since she
was released from house arrest a year ago.
Another 18 members of her entourage were also put under "protective
custody" after clashes between her supporters and a pro-junta mob on
Friday left four dead and 50 injured, according to the military, while the
entire leadership of the opposition NLD was under house arrest in the
Reuters June 2 2003
U.S. Urges Myanmar to Release Suu Kyi
The United States has told the government of Myanmar it expects to see
the quick release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained
last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Monday.
"We have joined with other nations in condemning the placement of Aung San
Suu Kyi into protective or any other custody," he told reporters on his
way to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for an Arab-American summit
"The Burmese authorities say they did it as a way of protecting her during
a disturbance. If that is the case, therefore we expect she will be
immediately or promptly released and we have conveyed this through
diplomatic channels to the Burmese government," he added.
The United States continues to use the old name Burma as a political
gesture against the military rulers.
The State Department on Monday urged the Myanmar authorities to release
leading members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and let the
party headquarters reopen.
Most offices of the party around the country were closed on Monday after
the Nobel Peace laureate and other opposition leaders touring the north of
the country were detained on Friday.
The military says she was taken into "protective custody" after four
people were killed in clashes between her supporters and pro-government
State Department spokeswoman Amanda Batt said, "We hope that any detention
is indeed momentary and that she and those traveling with her will be
released immediately in line with the official statement that she was
detained temporarily for protection."
"The closing of the NLD headquarters is not consistent with the regime's
interest in providing protection. We urge the regime to allow the NLD
headquarters to reopen immediately," she added.
The spokeswoman said the authorities had detained party spokesman U Lwin
and central executive committee member U Nyunt Wei under a provision of
Myanmar's public security act that covers "subversive acts." The
opposition party leaders appear to be confined to their homes with their
telephone lines cut.
Reuters June 3 2003
Australia calls on Myanmar to release Suu Kyi
SYDNEY: Australia has called on Myanmar to release opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi after the pro-democracy leader was taken into custody in
Yangon as part of a broad crackdown on dissent.
"There can be no justification for the continued detention of Aung San Suu
Kyi and her supporters and I urge that they be released immediately,"
Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament yesterday.
The government called in Myanmar's ambassador in Canberra to explain its
concerns abut Suu Kyi's detention.
Australia's ambassador in Yangon was also to relay his country's concerns
to the authorities there.
Australia joined the United Nations, Japan and Thailand in expressing
concern about the situation in the Southeast Asian country.
Myanmar's ruling military stopped thousands of university students from
attending classes yesterday. Over the weekend most of the offices of Suu
Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) around the country were closed
after the Nobel peace laureate and other opposition leaders were detained.
Downer said he hoped the scheduled visit of UN special envoy Razali Ismail
to Myanmar on Friday would help move forward talks between the military
and the opposition on the country's political future.
NCGUB Information Unit June 1 2003
Scores Killed in Junta Attack on NLD Motorcade
NewsDesk has been informed by its sources from Burma that up to 70 people
may have been killed in the attack by junta Army and supporters on Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in
On Friday, 30 May, after leaving Monywa, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and on
arrival at Zidawgon village just passed the Northwest Military Command
headquarters, a convoy of military trucks suddenly appeared and tried to
block the road. About 20 cars including the one which Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi was riding in together with about 25 motorcycles succeeded in avoiding
the blockade and continued the journey.
About midnight, after the motorcade had passed through Tabayin, it came to
a halt at Kyi Ywa or Phaya Htwet Gon village just before it entered Ye-u
because the road was blocked by huge logs. The NLD members decided to use
an alternate route and drove through the forested area just beside the
As the motorcade of about 250 people drove through, about 500 armed
soldiers, members of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development
Association, and unknown number of convicts recruited from Mandalay Prison
with a promise of reward and freedom, rushed and attacked it. In the
ensuing melee which lasted for about an hour, the attackers beat up NLD
members, shot them with catapults, and soldiers also opened fire killing
and wounding a large number of NLD members.
NLD Vice Chairman U Tin U who also came under fire fell into a ditch but
he did not suffer any serious injury. But Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was hit on
the head and suffered a serious head injury.
The number of NLD members killed cannot yet be confirmed but more than 200
of them were arrested and taken to the Monywa-based Northwest Military
Hearing the news, people of Monywa marched on the USDA Office the
following day (31 May) where they were brutally beaten by the Army, USDA,
police, and members of other services. Gunfire was also reported during
Reverend U Pañña Thiri, abbot of Okkan Tawya Monastery, who was trying to
mediate the two sides to stop the violence, and a student were killed on
the spot. Another student was who was seriously injured later succumbed
to his injuries.
The residents of Monywa who had gotten hold of the reverend's corpse are
now planning to hold a grand funeral. The bodies of the students,
however, were taken away by the SPDC (ruling State Peace and Development
Council) and USDA officials.
Up to the time of this NewsDesk release, all telephone lines to Monywa
have been cut.
There were three deaths in Monywa alone. In addition, sources in the
Northwest Military Command said more than 65 bodies were secretly cremated
inside compound on 31 May. The over 200 NLD members are also still being
detained in that compound.
Maj Gen Soe Win, SPDC Secretary-2, is reported to have been commanding the
whole operation against the NLD. He was using the Northwest Military
Command as his command center.
The closure of NLD offices and the arrest of NLD senior executives and
township level officials by the SPDC are all aimed at covering up the
massacre and brutal crackdown which got out of hand.
U.S. Department of State
Philip T. Reeker
June 2, 2003
Burma - Detention of Aung San Suu Kyi
The United States condemns placing National League for Democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi in any sort of custody. The recent detention of Aung San
Suu Kyi and other senior leaders of her party marks a significant step
back for the military regime in Rangoon and for the people of Burma. The
closing of the offices of the National League for Democracy across the
country hinders national reconciliation and a peaceful transition to
democracy and is inconsistent with the will and rights of the Burmese
We call on the regime for the immediate release of these officials and the
reopening of their offices. A government that does not allow peaceful
political expression or an atmosphere in which citizens can peacefully
express their views cannot be counted as a responsible member of the
international community. The United States, in coordination with other
concerned members of the international community, including members of the
United Nations Security Council, is considering all measures available in
our efforts to foster this transition to democracy.
We also continue to support the efforts of United Nations Special Envoy
Tan Sri Razali Ismail to meet with all parties in Burma to encourage
national reconciliation. We urge the regime to provide the conditions that
will allow for a successful visit this week. Officials at the highest
levels of the military regime should meet with him and take advantage of
this visit to reverse this recent setback and make substantial progress on
the road to a better future for the people of Burma.
Nation June 3 2003
Burmese hopes dashed again
The juntas latest effort to destroy any chance of dialogue means a policy
rethink for the international community
Developments over the weekend in Burma have sounded the death knell for
the peace process between the military junta and the opposition.
Obviously, the Burmese regime's leaders have lied to the international
community that by releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest two years
ago, they could engage in serious political dialogue with her that would
lead to reconciliation. Now Suu Kyi has been detained yet again along with
party associates in the notorious Insein prison after her supporters
clashed with pro-junta crowds in north Burma. Four people were reportedly
killed and 50 injured during the melee and several vehicles and
A Rangoon spokesman was reluctant to reveal the whereabouts of Suu Kyi or
the charges that had been laid to detain her. But it seems clear that
without her as the opposition's figurehead the government can further
disarm and split its opponents. It is apparent that nothing is going to
stop the generals from clinging to power.
Coincidentally, Ismail Razali, the UN envoy for Burma, was scheduled to
visit Burma on Friday. But it would be sensible if he were to delay his
visit until the junta gives a valid explanation for what happened on the
weekend. As long as it keeps Suu Kyi in custody, the UN must make it
accountable for its actions.
For months Suu Kyi has been travelling the Burmese countryside to shore up
support for the opposition and to open NLD branch offices. Wherever she
went, thousands of people showed up to listen to her speeches. But
obviously her rising popularity worried the junta, and they plotted
against her by organising thugs to disrupt her appearances and wreck the
For its part, Thailand must share some of the blame for the latest events
because of its strong support for the junta. The Thaksin government has
repeatedly taken a soft line on assistance for reconciliation and
democratisation for Burma. But after more than two years of this approach
things have become worse rather than better, making a joke of Bangkok's
policy towards Rangoon. As the weekend's events show, reconciliation is
back to square one.
In 1997 Burma was admitted to Asean, giving legitimacy to the junta. The
hope was that peer pressure, however subtle, by member countries might
work some changes, especially in respect of listening to the people.
Nothing of the sort has happened, as might have been expected.
Meanwhile recent global events have dimmed whatever small spotlight was
focussed on Burma. Not surprisingly, the junta has taken advantage of
international attention being diverted to the Middle East. Whether the
weekend's events will create even so much as a ripple on international
waters remains to be seen, but if there ever was a case for sanctions, now
is it. The junta has no intention whatsoever of engaging the opposition
party, a thing Suu Kyi has been waiting patiently for since her release
two years ago.
As events continue to unfold, many observers see something more sinister
in Suu Kyi's rearrest, and that is a conflict among the ruling military
The number-one strongman, General Than Shwe, seems poised to muster all
power under his leadership to ensure that nobody can open a dialogue with
Suu Kyi without his permission.
For 15 years the Burmese people have suffered under the regime. The time
has come for the international community to rethink its ineffectual
policies toward the junta.
Amnesty International June 2 2003
Safety of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Her Party in Danger
Amnesty International is strongly concerned by an escalation in political
violence and repression in Myanmar, following a reported confrontation
between authorities and members of the National League for Democracy (NLD)
on Friday 30 May 2003.
There is concern for the safety of more than 100 NLD members and students,
including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who have reportedly been held
incommunicado since Friday's incident, during which between four and 70
people are believed to have been killed. According to the reports, the
whereabouts of 150 members of the NLD who were travelling with fellow
party members remain unknown.
"The authorities must institute a full and independent investigation into
alleged grave human rights violations that occurred on 30 May 2003 and
bring suspected perpetrators to justice. The whereabouts and fate of
members of the political opposition who are reportedly missing must be
made publicly immediately," Amnesty International said.
"The organization is deeply concerned by this serious development. This is
a completely unwarranted and harsh crackdown on political party members
and others carrying out their legitimate activities," the organization
Amnesty International called on the ruling State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC) to release those who are being held on account of their
peaceful dissent. They should immediately make public a complete list of
those who have been detained, including their whereabouts and the legal
basis for their detention, and grant them access to relatives, lawyers and
"The SPDC must take immediate steps to uphold the right to freedom of
expression, association and assembly in Myanmar. The harassment, arrest
and detention of those acting peacefully to exercise these rights is a
step in the wrong direction".
On 30 May 2003 250 NLD party members accompanying party leader Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi on a tour of Upper Myanmar were reportedly attacked by members
of the police and military, when travelling on a road at night in a remote
area. Officials have stated that four persons were killed and 50 injured
after members of the NLD clashed with a crowd of 5,000 people
demonstrating against the political party at Yawayoo, on the road from
Budalin to Dapayin, and that local military authorities subsequently
According to unconfirmed opposition reports, 250 NLD members travelling in
a convoy, were attacked by a group of 500 soldiers, police, and prisoners
from Mandalay Prison, who reportedly shot at them with catapults and beat
them after they drove round the side of a road block. Soldiers also
reportedly opened fire on the group, killing members of the NLD.
Opposition sources state that 70 people were killed and up to 200 injured.
Amnesty International calls on authorities to fully and independently
investigate further unconfirmed reports by opposition sources of the
possibly excessive use of force against protestors the following day, and
to bring suspected perpetrators to justice. According to opposition
sources, a demonstration by students on 31 May 2003 in Monywa, Sagaing
Division, in protest against the attack on 30 May 2003 was suppressed with
violence by the military, who reportedly fired on and assaulted
demonstrators, leading to the death of an abbot and two students.
More than 100 members of the main opposition party, including the entire
senior leadership of the party, are believed to be in detention or under
house arrest and have reportedly had no access to lawyers or relatives.
Authorities have stated that they have put Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and 18
other senior leaders into "protective custody" and are giving them "proper
care and protection." Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is reportedly being held in a
military guest-house. NLD offices and Shan National League for Democracy
offices across the country have been reportedly closed down, and
authorities today have indefinitely closed high schools and universities.
Amnesty International is further concerned by official statements accusing
members of the NLD touring the country of "inciting unrest" by making
speeches critical of authorities, and calls on authorities not to penalize
the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. The organization further
calls on authorities to investigate reports that the Union Solidarity
Development Association (USDA), and other groups organized or supported by
authorities have reportedly been inciting protests against the NLD and
threatening violence against the political party on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's
recent visits outside the capital city, and to bring those responsible to
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, which
won the majority of votes in the 1990 elections in Myanmar, was released
from de facto house arrest in May 2002, after being held since September
2000. Since her release from detention, she has been able to travel to
meet party members outside the capital. In recent weeks NLD members have
been arrested and sentenced to prison terms, reportedly for their
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