BurmaNet News: December 27-29, 2003
editor at burmanet.org
editor at burmanet.org
Mon Dec 29 14:48:45 EST 2003
December 27-29, 2003, Issue #2396
Asian Tribune: Burma: The Junta's Another Round of Dirty Game
ON THE BORDER
SHAN: Junta employs scorched earth against Shan army
Bangkok Post: Rangoon asked to scrap relocation plan
Bangkok Post: Wa keen on expanding scheme
Narinjara: Forced Labour Continues in Arakan
The Nation: REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE: The Bangkok process: one hand clapping
Mizzima: NATIONAL RECONCILIATION - the long and painful path
Channel News Asia: Myanmar artist creates beautiful masterpieces from palm
Asian Tribune: Burma needs a full time UN Envoy - Myint Thein
Asian Tribune, December 29, 2003
Burma: The Junta's Another Round of Dirty Game
By Zin Linn
Burma's military junta lashed out at London based human rights watchdog
Amnesty International for its recent negative assessment of conditions in
the military-ruled country and criticized that Amnesty International
instead ought to seek a common ground in improving human rights.
Amnesty International ended on 19 December, a ''17-day Official Mission in
Burma'', its second visit of the year, and issued a statement at a press
conference held in Bangkok on 22 December, outlining a wide range of their
serious concerns during the visit, and called on the Burmese military
rulers to take urgent steps to improve the human rights situation, which
has deteriorated significantly including an upsurge in detention of
political prisoners since the violent Black Friday attack on democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi and on the other important leaders of the National
League for Democracy (NLD).
The Burmese military regime said in its statement faxed to the media, that
it regretted about the recent negative statement issued by the Amnesty
International, which was aimed at the regime and to discourage the ongoing
political process in the country. It also said that Amnesty
International's criticism of the democracy situation in the country comes
at the time, when many nations around the world including the
Secretary-General of the United Nations hailed the junta's efforts of the
7-steps national reconciliation.
The authorities have told us to be patient, and that change may come
soon. But these assurances ring hollow in the face of continuing
repression. We will judge progress on human rights in Myanmar by concrete
improvements on the ground. Fine word, and vague promises for the future
without any timetable for change carry little weight. Amnesty
The two-member team, which spent 17 days in the country, was not allowed
to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest.
"We are waiting for action to match those fine words," said Catherine
Baber, Deputy Program Director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific region.
According to the AI mission, the team obtained clarification about the
legal status of named individuals detained on or after the 30 May. The
SPDC acknowledged the continued detention of 23 people (not including Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi) arrested on that day and the detention or imprisonment
of 52 persons arrested and detained after 30 May. But the regime failed to
give the actual number of the total detainees who were arrested during the
Dapeyin premeditated ambush.
According to some reliable sources, the SPDC's number of detainees on and
after May 30 was in conflict with the figures arrived by the local
analysts. Number of detainees in Dapeyin ambush is 118 according the names
of those arrested. After the ambush there was a manhunt and it was learnt
that a total of 197 people were detained. Although it was an imperfect
detainee-list, there was a serious difference in numbers, but so far not
acknowledge by the SPDC of the actual number of people being detained.
Up to the date, altogether nearly a hundred people from the Dapeyin attack
were released. That means the real number in prison is still 210, who were
arrested consequent of the Dapeyin incident, local analysts reveals.
According to a news source in Rangoon, it is reliably learnt that there
are around 1560 political prisoners languishing in Burma's 39 prisons.
Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had already said that there
was no sign in the form of any evidence to believe that the military junta
was interested in any democratic reforms. In her strongest criticism on
the junta since her earlier release from house arrest on 6 May in 2002,
the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said officials had harassed her repeatedly
on her visits to supporters in states and divisions of the country.
''They don't want change, but change is inevitable,'' Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
pointed out during a press conference earlier held at the headquarters of
her National League for Democracy (NLD).
''If the SPDC is truly interested in the welfare of this country, they
should cooperate with the NLD. I'd like to ask why the SPDC doesn't
contact the NLD,'' earlier it was reported the Nobel laureate chided the
In the past 14 years since the democracy uprising in 1988, little progress
has been made in the areas of democracy and human rights in Burma. The
U.N. Special Rapporteur Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro also criticized
Burma's political reforms were going simply too slowly. He also made a
strong suggestion to speed up change; and insisted that all political
prisoners must be freed.
"I think there is no excuse to delay the unconditional and immediate
release of political prisoners. It's very difficult to have a political
dialogue - national reconciliation - with hundreds of political prisoners
behind bars. It's necessary that the government take some bold steps to
release these prisoners," Mr. Pinheiro spoke to journalists in Bangkok on
26 March 2003 after his visit to Burma.
Currently, the SPDC turned a deaf ear to the issues of political prisoners
and a political dialogue with the oppositions as well.
In various prisons, there's a lot of evidence that, political prisoners
are tortured worse, more than criminal offenders. For instance, they
appear to be often deliberately sent to remote prisons that make family
visits very difficult or impossible. On the contrary, sending to remote
areas affects prisoners' conditions severely for they depend on family
support to sustain themselves in prison.
It is appalling news to learn that so far more than one hundred political
prisoners passed away in the junta's jail.
In such a desperate situation it is learnt Amnesty International a human
rights advocacy group, urged the Burmese authorities to release all
prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally. And also it was
urged to stop the use of repressive legislation to criminalize freedom of
expression and peaceful association in the country.
At a 12-nation meeting held in Bangkok on 15 December 2003, the junta's
Foreign Minister Win Aung promised his regime would hold a national
convention to write a new constitution in 2004, as the first step in a
seven-point democracy "road map".
But, Burmese people are used to the military regime playing political
chicanery and never keep its words. Without knowing the junta's
wickedness, some leaders of the neighboring countries guarantee on behalf
of the Burmese generals that they are sincerely heading for democratic
reforms. But it's a politic of duplicity. Unfortunately Burmese are
enslaved over forty long torturous years under the military.
Actually, there could be no genuine democratization process and national
reconciliation in Burma while the military junta is stubbornly keeping
political prisoners locked up in the notorious prisons, and the Nobel
Laureate locked up in her own house thus suppressing and denying the basic
freedom and human rights in the country.
Burmese the aggrieved people want freedom from the clutches of the Burmese
generals and we have heard lot of speeches and appeasement words. We urge
the World to come forward to match its words with deeds.
ON THE BORDER
SHAN: December 26, 2003
Junta employs scorched earth against Shan army
The local people in two eastern townships: Monghpyak and Tachilek, are
being made to pay for the presence of Col Yawdserk's Shan State Army
troops in the area, according to sources from the border.
Soon after hostilities broke out between the two sides on 20 November,
local army units were dispatched to each village to be billeted with the
village temple. Each village also had to be responsible for the troops'
provisions. (Curfew in Tachilek, S.H.A.N., 7 December)
On 14 December, Light Infantry Battalion 316 of Talerh, 48 km northeast of
Tachilek, issued order to each surrounding village tract to arrange for
its provisions. "The village headmen complained it would be extremely
difficult for them to track down the battalion's movements so they could
prepare their food in time," said a trader from the area. "They therefore
issued a new order that each household contribute 2,000 kyat (80 baht) to
their daily allowances."
Reports of confiscation of villagers' possessions are also received. "On
21 November, Pabong and Markyang in Fangmin tract (Tachilek township) were
raided," reported a villager. "The excuse was they were looking for hidden
weapons. But they took everything valuable they came across. I myself lost
700,000 kyat although no weapon was found."
"They might put it down as confiscation," he retorted hotly to S.H.A.N.'s
question." But everybody knows it's down-and-out robbery."
The Burmese troops also destroyed paddy found outside the village limits.
"On 26 November, a patrol from Light Infantry Battalion 316 found us
preparing to transport our harvested paddy back to our village," said a
villager from Fwehai, West Monglane tract, Tachilek township. "They
accused us of planning to send the paddy to the SSA and burned everything
down including the farm huts in the field."
Fighting though sporadic is still being reported as the Army launched a
On 18 December, a joint patrol of Hawngleuk-based LIB 359 and Jakuni
militia ran into an ambush near Wanmai Akha in Monghai tract, Monghpyak
township, 83 km north of Tachilek.
The 10-minute clash left 6 dead on the Burmese side, according to a
So far, on the SSA side, there were at least 2 dead and 6 captured, they
"They took pictures of the 6 fighters and distributed leaflets both in
Shan and Burmese, exhorting the SSA to surrender," said a source from
Bangkok Post, December 29, 2003
Rangoon asked to scrap relocation plan
By Wassana Nanuam
Authorities are worried that moving northern Wa people southwards close to
the Thai border will affect Thailand's anti-drug campaign.
The United Wa State Army (UWSA) plans to move about 100,000 Wa people from
the Northern Wa Region close to China to the Southern Wa Region near the
border next year. Since 1998, 80,000 people have been moved in this way.
Thai authorities are concerned the new arrivals will revive Wa drug drug
production which they are trying to replace with agriculture.
M.R. Disnadda Diskul, director of the royally initiated Doi Tung
Development Project, said he had asked Burma to scrap the plan and
proposed development schemes for northern Wa people right in their
``I have told (UWSA chairman) Pao Yu Chang and (Burmese Prime Minister)
Gen Khin Nyunt that relocating 100,000 Wa people would not be appreciated.
We are introducing a crop substitution scheme there. I will introduce Doi
Tung development projects to northern Wa,'' he said.
He promised to launch development projects for seven towns in the Northern
Wa Region, in Baan Tang Yang, Pang Sang, Mon Pawk, Mon Hla, Nawng Hkio,
Mandalay and Mong Kyawt.
The Doi Tung Development Project is already in place in Baan Yong Kha, Wan
Hong, Yong Pang and Hwe Aw towns in the Southern Wa Region.
Thai staff working there say public health problems are getting worse in
Yong Pang, where dozens of local people have sought treatment for
tuberculosis, leprosy and malaria since last month. Yong Pang has 25,000
Kanya Wacharin, public health chief from Chiang Rai province, who joined
the Doi Tung Development Project in the Southern Wa Region said most Wa
people falling ill suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis and
Burmese and Wa authorities want more Thai doctors working at Baan Yong Kha
hospital, which opened recently and employs one local doctor and four
nurses. Two Thai doctors work there at intervals, sometimes accompanied by
a Thai dentist.
Bangkok Post, December 28, 2003
Wa keen on expanding scheme
By Wassana Nanuam
United Wa State Army leader Pao Yu Shang has asked Thailand to expand its
crop substitution programme to other areas under Wa control.
The Wa leader conveyed the message to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
through Thai representatives who visited the Red Wa-controlled Baan Yong
Kha on Friday.
Pao Yu Shang has admitted that drug kingpin Wei Hsueh-kang, wanted by both
the United States and Thailand on multiple drug charges, had been with the
Red Wa, but claimed that the man had fled into hiding.
The UWSA president yesterday voiced his appreciation for Mr Thaksin for
allowing the transport of tangerines from Baan Yong Kha to Rangoon,
Mandalay and China via Chiang Mai's Kiew Pha Wok checkpoint.
``In the past, we could not sell our tangerines. But the Thai prime
minister's permission would help the Wa people a great deal. We must say
thank you,'' the Red Wa leader said.
Pao Yu Shang wants the crop substitution schemes modelled on the Doi Tung
Development Project expanded to other Wa-controlled areas such as Pok,
Tang Yan, Pang Zang in northern Burma in a bid to eradicate the drug
He also praised Doi Tung Development Project director M.R. Disnadda Diskul
for his dedication to crop substitution programmes in Burma and thanked Mr
Thaksin for approving another 20 million baht for the Baan Yong Kha
Mr Pao denied his people were involved in methamphetamine production as
they did not have the chemicals and the expertise to do so. He attributed
the Wa's poor reputation on ``outsiders''.
``We regret that the global community is unfair to us. We do not produce
drugs but are always accused of doing so. We have no media to speak out
for us, but we are ready to prove our innocence.''
Pao Yu Shang conceded that poppy cultivation continued in northern Wa
state, but said he would try to eradicate it by 2014.
He promised to take reporters from Thailand to visit opium plantations in
northern Wa state, especially in Pang Sang, the UWSA's stronghold, in
February next year. ``I am ready to reveal everything so the global
community will understand and help us. It may take time, but I will get
rid of opium from Wa state no matter how difficult the task,'' the UWSA
The Wa leader said drug warlord Wei Hsueh-kang, blacklisted by the US and
Thailand, was made a UWSA unit commander two years ago, but the man later
fled into hiding and his whereabouts were unknown to the Red Wa.
He said Wei's misconduct was the reason why the world only saw the UWSA as
a drug producer and seller.
Also on Friday, Col San Pwint, deputy head of Burma's military
intelligence, who also visited Baan Yong Kha, confirmed that Rangoon and
the Wa would cooperate to eradicate opium, heroin and methamphetamines
from Burma by 2014. Three measures to be used under the plan would be crop
substitution schemes, anti-drug education programmes, and heavy penalties
for drug offenders, he said.
He said Bangkok and Rangoon have agreed to turn Tachilek, opposite Chiang
Rai's Mae Sai district, Myawaddy, opposite Tak's Mae Sot district, and
Kawthaung, opposite Ranong into drug-free zones.
Narinjara, December 28, 2003
Forced Labour Continues in Arakan
Sittwe, December 28: Despite the junta claims that there is no forced
labour in Burma, there have been incidents of forced labour continue to
happened in Ann Township, Arakan state.
Between November 15-20th, 25 villagers from May La Maung village of Ann
Township had to collect material for the building and forced to build them
without receiving any wages.
This incident occurred under the direction of Captain Thu Raine Htun, the
commander of Ann region under the Western Command. The buildings are to
house the engineers and workers for the Ann-MaEi road building.
Similarly, 30 villagers from Ka Zu Kaine village were forced to clear the
shoulders of the road.
According to the local sources, the road between Ann and Ma Ei building
has progressed to half a mile by the end of November, and the regional
military authority are getting the local people to "volunteer" at the road
building by saying that "you should work to build the road you are going
to use, and who else would come and build for you."
The Nation, December 29, 2003
REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE: The Bangkok process: one hand clapping
By Kavi Chongkittavorn
The Thaksin administration has done a good job in deceiving the Thai
people and international community into thinking that the informal meeting
on Burma recently was a triumph for democratic reform there. The Bangkok
process, as it is now called, was the latest attempt by Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra to legitimise the military junta leaders in Rangoon and
annihilate the opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
The tactic is simple: Bangkok will serve as a springboard for Burma to
demonstrate its willingness to proceed towards the seven-point road map to
democracy, one step at a time. Burma's Prime Minister Khin Nyunt announced
the plan in August following the Thai effort to rekindle the stalled
political process with its own road map. Therefore future progress inside
Burma will be at a pace commensurate with the level of collective pressure
applied by the international community.
If Burma can continue this charm offensive for an additional 30 months,
the international community, especially the dialogue partners of Asean,
will have to accept the fait accompli of the Rangoon junta. Burma is
scheduled to host the annual foreign-ministerial meeting and the Asean
Regional Forum in July 2006.
This time frame should not be a problem, because the junta has been able
to drag out the process of national reconciliation and political dialogue
very much to its own design since May 1990, when it lost the election to
the National League of Democracy. If this scenario proves correct, the
international community of various convictions on Burma will not be able
to unite against the junta in months to come.
Burma's calculated move is an imitation of the Iraqis' experience in
handling the process of on-site inspections for weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) before the US invasion of Iraq in March. During his
reign, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein drove a wedge between the US
European allies as well as the UN in their search for WMD. For a decade
after the Gulf War, Iraq successfully deployed the so-called "one step
forwards, two steps backwards" tactic to engage the international
community seeking WMD.
This slow but determined process allowed Iraq to continue to conceal its
weapons programmes and stay afloat. It also further divided the
international community, especially within the UN Security Council. In the
end, strong ambivalence within the council led to the failure to obtain a
UN mandate and the US government's decision to act alone, leading to the
current situation in Iraq.
However, in the Burmese situation things are quite different, favouring
the junta. First of all there has never been strong and sustained
solidarity among the international community. The May 30 incident was
exceptional in uniting the benign Asean, moderate Japan and hard-line US
and EU in calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
When the Asean leaders met in Bali in October the much-heralded appeal for
her release was no longer so evident. Thaksin urged Asean leaders to give
the junta under Khin Nyunt a chance.
The junta's next logical step was to create a virtual
national-reconciliation process that would duplicate the Asean turnaround
in the EU. The immediate aim was to pacify some key EU members. It is
working already, as some have expressed support, although cautiously.
Suddenly, concerned countries have forgotten to discuss the further
release of political prisoners, political freedom for opposition parties
and an investigation into the May 30 incident.
Burma's formula is to ascertain that the process is moving in a sustained
way, even though at a creeping pace, as expressed by the UN special envoy
Tan Sri Ismail Razali following the Bangkok meeting.
The main tactic here is to get the National Convention going as soon as
possible. Foreign Minister Win Aung said Burma would hold the National
Convention next year. The pledge quickly garnered support. He added that
representatives of Burmese society, comprising minorities, academics and
political parties including the NLD, would be invited to send
representatives to the convention.
That much was clear. Thailand would like to see some tangible progress
before calling for a follow-up meeting later in 2004. The sooner the
convention is held, the better for Thailand's reputation.
The junta has in mind a total of 800 representatives taking part in the
convention. Ninety representatives would come from the NLD. At the moment,
nobody knows if the NLD is free to pick its own people or if the junta
will do it for them. Judging from the regime's past behaviour, it will
likely be the latter.
Burma hopes that during the convention the NLD participation will obscure
the fact that the whole process has been orchestrated by Rangoon. As long
as Suu Kyi continues her silence, cut off from the process, and the
political status quo remains without major hiccups, a sense of ambivalence
This will lead to further indecisiveness in Western countries. That is
exactly the junta's intention. For the time being, with Thailand as
Burma's underwriter, Asean is off the hook. After all, it is Thaksin's
show. No wonder he is eager to further cement ties with Burma and to show
that the pariah state means business.
The game plan is to allow the Bangkok process to move along even if it
leads to the destruction of democratic forces inside Burma.
Mizzima, December 28, 2003
NATIONAL RECONCILIATION - the long and painful path
By Salai Kipp Kho Lian
Amidst the complexity of conflict between Burma's rival political forces
and the subsequent long and painful sufferings inflicted upon our
country's national psyche are the seemingly unending calls for solutions
that are as diverse and complicated as the conflicts itself. Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi reduces all these complexities into a few simple words in which
one can find a philosophy or path our people can embrace to bring the
country out of its long nightmare and lead towards unity and prosperity.
These key words are National Reconciliation.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said, "It has always been the firm conviction of
those working for democracy in Burma that it is only through meaningful
dialogue between diverse political forces that we can achieve national
reconciliation which is the first and most vital requisite for a united
and prosperous country."
After a long and fierce debate among themselves, the Burma Strategy Group
(BSG) has reached a consensus to embrace the path of national
reconciliation as their firm political conviction as a solution to our
It is firmly believed that the process of national reconciliation will
eventually bring about peace, unity and prosperity for the entire people
This political path, contrary to some critics' assertion, is not an easy
path but rather a remarkably difficult path. The starting point of this
long walk to freedom is in the 'mind set' of all those working for
democracy in Burma - the psychological preparations that pains one's heart
and at the same time challenges ones long-held prejudices. The words
'national reconciliation' themselves imply, among others, forgiveness.
Moreover, for national reconciliation to bear fruit, it is completely
impossible for a single force or a group of forces to walk the path alone.
The chosen path, at its core, demands all former rival forces to walk
together towards achieving a single goal - no more as rivals but as
partners in re-building a prosperous country.
As such, to walk this path of national reconciliation entails painful
psychological preparations to be endured by each of us. And these
preparations take place in the parts of our psyche which provokes conflict
and terrible suffering inside us.
A few may falter at this earlier or initial stage of our psychological
preparations even before walking a single step on this long path. Some may
not be able to resist the terrible sufferings inflicted upon them by
friends for having chosen this path. We know this path will be a difficult
and painful one.
Nevertheless we have chosen and embraced this path determined to walk
together with all our compatriots until the envisioned goal of freedom and
prosperity is achieved.
Channel News Asia, December 28, 2003
Myanmar artist creates beautiful masterpieces from palm materials
The people of Myanmar have long used palm trees for their everyday needs -
from home utensils to medicine.
Now, one man has found yet another way of using parts of the palm that
used to be thrown away.
Artist U Thein Lwin has even managed to turn his creativity into a
profitable business, capturing rural life in Myanmar using only natural
The beautiful art pieces he creates are made from palm trees.
Toddy Palms thrive in Myanmar's dry and hot plains and parts of the palm
have long been used in various ways to make writing and roofing materials,
household utensils, for lumber, as ingredients for popular local snacks
and drinks and even medicines and soap.
And from the fronds to the root, almost every part of the palm is now also
being used to create a masterpiece.
The founder of the workshop also thinks this is one of the best ways to
U Thein Lwin said: "In the countryside, I saw villagers burning toddy palm
leaves to make a fire. I wanted to save money for the country by not
letting these materials go to waste. So I came upon an idea to make
pictures out of palm materials. I think it worked".
It certainly did for these art work have been well received by both locals
So with lots of hardwork and creativity - what you get is a very
Asian Tribune, December 29, 2003
Burma needs a full time UN Envoy - Myint Thein
Burma needs a full time UN Envoy, not a part-time envoy. Razali has become
useless in Burma because of his conflict of interest problem. Razali has
become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, Myint Thein,
Senior Advisor to the Burmese Resistance told in an interview.
Excerpts of the interview are given below:
Question : Bo Mya suggests that the ceasefire negotiations will take up to
two years. Do you agree with this prediction?
Myint Thein : KNU probably wants a UWSA type cease-fire agreement whereby
SLORC/SPDC troops cannot enter Karen held territory. KNU will also want
economic rights so that the autonomous Karen state can fund essential
social services. These types of negotiations can take many years.
Question : Why do you think the General Khin Nyunt Road-Map meeting in
Bangkok on December 15, 2003 was a joke?
Myint Thein : The Bangkok meeting made history as the first Conflict
Resolution Meeting that only invited one party to the conflict to attend
the meeting. They don't even know how to organize a "fake" conference.
Question : What is your opinion of Thaksin?
Myint Thein : Thailand should not overlook the threat on its national
security. The North Korean Scud Missiles, is being deployed by SLORC/SPDC
in lower Burma is within striking distance of Bangkok.
Question : What is your opinion of Razali?
Myint Thein : He is functionally useless. We need a UN Envoy who does not
have a conflict of interest problem. How can the UN say the ethic rules
that govern all UN employees do not apply to the UN Special Envoys. They
should be held to a higher standard, and not a lower standard. Razali is
now given an opportunity to resign.
We started monitoring UN envoy Razali due to an article in the Myanmar
Times (secretly owned by Burma's Military Intelligence) in their December
7, 2001 issue, which stated that UN Envoy Razali, accompanied by Secretary
1, Khin Nyunt, attended the 10th Anniversary Party of Serge Pun &
Associates at the Inya Lake Hotel.
This was a "lavish dinner party for over 1,000" guest. It is highly
inappropriate for the UN envoy, on an official UN visit, to be attending a
business party as a guest of S-1 Khin Nyunt.
Yet Razali stated in the International Herald Tribune (May 7,2002) that
he was so busy during his official UN visits to Burma that he didn't "have
time to brush my teeth twice".
Burma needs a full time UN Envoy, not a part-time envoy. Razali has become
useless in Burma because of his conflict of interest problem.
Razali has become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
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