BurmaNet News, October 8, 2004
editor at burmanet.org
Fri Oct 8 12:25:36 EDT 2004
October 8, 2004, Issue # 2576
DVB: Burma army pressurising ceasefire groups
Kao Wao News: Youths warned about leaks to news media
Irrawaddy: Burmas child mortality rate still high: Unicef
Irrawaddy: Burmese workers seal legal victory in Thailand
Xinhua News Agency: Mekong countries to set up meteorological station in
Reuters: Asia-Europe leaders to sidestep call to free Suu Kyi
AP: Chirac prefers dialogue with Myanmar to sanctions
The Guardian: Burmese ban for European firms
AFP: US House joins Senate in seeking UN action against Myanmar
October 7, Democratic Voice of Burma
Burma army pressurising ceasefire groups
Burmas military junta, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has
been planning to put military pressures on armed ethnic groups which
signed ceasefire agreements with the junta and attended the recently
adjourned Nyaung-hnapin National Convention for discussing
New Burmese army bases have been built for artillery and light infantry
battalions (LIB). The constructions of a new Artillery base and two LIBs
were completed in September near the territory of the most powerful group,
United Wa State Army (UWSA) in northeast Shan State. Two LIBs and a
military intelligence (MI) base were also built near Kachin Independence
Army (KIA) areas.
Similarly, army bases have also been built and troops have been placed in
various areas of Shan and Mon States.
According to an exiled Burmese army expert U Htay Aung, the junta is
planning to disarm ceasefire groups systematically once the opportunities
arise so as not to yield to the demand of the groups for autonomy.
October 6, Kao Wao News
Youths warned about leaks to news media
Local youth organizations in Mon and Karen states have been warned by the
Burmese military regime not to speak to foreign radio stations about
events in their areas.
A Mon youth leader told Kao Wao News that when the BBC, VOA, RFA and DVB
broadcast local news, youths suspected of being informants were called and
warned. He said that only youth organizations are now actively involved in
the community and that they challenge the Union Solidarity and Development
Association (USDA) and National Womens Affairs groups, which are
controlled by the Burmese military regime.
Another Mon youth who occasionally shares information voluntarily with a
local media group said that he was often followed by the Military
Intelligence Service (MI).
I cannot even pull my pen out of my pocket when I travel in rural areas,
said the activist. I have to be very careful because the MI could accuse
me of being a reporter and put me under arrest.
Even though the MI turns a blind eye to activities of the local business
community after receiving bribes, some telephone owners have been called
by the local MI to verify if their phones are only being used for business
Satellite hand phones bought in neighboring Thailand are widely used in
southern Burma by local community to communicate with family members and
October 8, Irrawaddy
Burmas child mortality rate still high: Unicef
A country-by-country report released on Thursday by the UN Childrens
Fund, or UNICEF, says Burmas mortality rate for children under five years
old is 109 deaths per 1,000 births in 2002. Despite the agencys goal to
reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, the report says that no
region has met that standard. The report also said that Indonesia,
Cambodia and Laos suffer from high child mortality rates.
October 8, Irrawaddy
Burmese Workers Seal Legal Victory in Thailand
After two years of battling in the Thai courts, 18 Burmese migrant workers
finally received compensation on Thursday for unpaid back wages and
exploitation, said Moe Swe, director of the Mae Sot-based Yaung Chi Oo
Burmese Workers Association, which backs Burmese migrants working in
On August 24, the Thai labor court in Tak Province ruled that the owner of
the Nut knitwear factory in Mae Sot, on the Thai-Burma border, must pay 18
of his former workers a total of 1,170,000 baht (US $29,250) in back pay
and compensation for abusive treatment at the workplace.
The Nut factory workers complained that they were regularly forced to toil
on shifts much longer than the regulation eight-hour day and for less than
half the legal minimum wage of 133 baht. In October 2002, 40 of the
factorys workers protested publicly against their working conditions and
low pay rates. The Nut company then dismissed the protesting workers.
The workers and the organizations that helped them were regularly harassed
and intimidated by local thugs after complaining about their working
Initially, the Labor Protection Office awarded the workers 4.6 million
baht in compensation. Some workers returned to Burma before the verdict
was announced and others settled with the factory owner out of court.
Although the 1.2 million baht compensation package awarded to the
remaining 18 disaffected workers is only a fraction of the original
settlement, it is the first time Burmese migrants have registered a legal
victory over their employer in the Thai courts.
This gives hope to the other Burmese migrant workers [working in
Thailand], said Moe Swe.
Yaung Chi Oo, the Chiang Mai-based Migrant Assistance Program, the Thai
Human Rights Commission and the Law Society of Thailand provided the
workers with legal assistance, protection, food and shelter.
October 8, Xinhua News Agency
Mekong countries to set up meteorological station in Myanmar
Four lower basin Mekong countries -- Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam,
have agreed with Myanmar to set up a meteorological station in a Myanmar
border town opposite to Laos as a precautionary measure against annual
Mekong river flood, a local news journal reported in its latest issue.
The setting up of the flood-monitoring meteorological station in the
Myanmar-Lao border point was proposed as the existing two such stations in
China are far away from these four lower-reaches countries, the 7-Day
quoted the Water Resources and River Development Department as saying.
For the construction of the two stations, the four countries will be
responsible for the cost as well as equipment supply, while the Myanmar
side will offer land and communications staff under the agreement, the
The four lower Mekong countries established the Mekong Commission in
Chiang Rai in 1995, agreeing to cooperate for the sustainable development
of the Mekong river.
Meanwhile, the Lancang (2,160-kilometer section in China)- Mekong River,
the first international waterway linking China with Southeast Asia, opened
to commercial navigation in China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in June
The 4,500-km Mekong river originating from China's Qinghai, stands as a
boundary river of Myanmar and Laos, and the river runs through Myanmar,
Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam down to South China Sea near Ho Chi
Initiated by the Asian Development Bank, the Greater Mekong Subregion
(GMS)-Economic Cooperation was founded in 1992 to bring together the six
countries along the Mekong river. The GMS nations signed an agreement and
a protocol in April 2004 in Phnom Penh with regard to cross-border
October 8, Reuters
Asia-Europe leaders to sidestep call to free Suu Kyi
Leaders from Asia and Europe will call on Myanmar to open talks with the
party of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi but did not specifically call
for her immediate release from detention, according to a draft final
The statement, obtained by Reuters on Friday and set to be delivered at
the end of a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting summit on Saturday, also touched
on U.N. reform and pledged to improve cooperation in the fight against
"The leaders noted the explanation by Myanmar's chief delegate on the
recent political situation in Myanmar. The leaders encouraged all
interested parties in Myanmar to work together for a successful conclusion
of the national reconciliation process now in progress," the draft said.
The draft did not refer to Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, whose National
League for Democracy (NLD) won a 1990 election by a landslide, by name.
Myanmar's military, which has ruled in one guise or another since a 1962
coup, ignored the 1990 election result and has crushed all dissent ever
since. Suu Kyi has been kept in detention for more than half of the last
Myanmar's military rulers say they have begun reforms and that a National
Convention involving more than 1,000 delegates to overhaul the
constitution was proof of that.
Suu Kyi's NLD has boycotted the meeting because she and other senior
leaders were still under house arrest and because of restrictions on
debate. Myanmar dissidents say the convention is a sham aimed at
enshrining the military's grip on power.
The ASEM leaders' statement said Suu Kyi's party must be allowed to take
part in a substantive reconciliation process.
"The National League for Democracy must be an important part of the
national reconciliation process now in progress, and the process must be a
forum of substantive and open dialogue involving all political groups in
the country," the draft said.
"The leaders welcomed the assurance by Myanmar that restrictions placed on
specific political parties are provisional, and looked forward to the
withdrawal of these restrictions at earliest time."
The statement also described terrorism, separatism, proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction and crimes across national boundaries as among
new global challenges and threats.
It said leaders reaffirmed their commitment "to take a multilateral
approach and collective action through close cooperation to counter these
It said the leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to combat terrorism
in all its forms.
"The leaders stressed that the fight against terrorism requires a
comprehensive approach, collective efforts and international cooperation
in which the United Nations plays the leading role," it said.
The Hanoi summit is ASEM's fifth biennial gathering and the group
comprises 25 members from Europe, 13 from Asia plus the European
Myanmar formally joined ASEM on Thursday despite the European Union saying
the same day that it would impose stricter sanctions on the military-ruled
country because of its poor rights record.
Fellow Asian nations Cambodia and Laos as well as 10 other European
countries also joined the group on Thursday.
The leaders also reiterated their support for the ongoing process of
reforming the United Nations and its major organisations.
October 8, Associated Press
Chirac prefers dialogue with Myanmar to sanctions
French President Jacques Chirac said Friday he hoped the European Union
could avoid imposing additional sanctions it has threatened against
Myanmar to pressure the Southeast Asian nation toward democracy.
The EU had demanded that Myanmar release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi from house arrest and take other steps ahead of the opening of the
Asia-Europe Meeting in Hanoi on Friday or face tougher sanctions.
The deadline, however, passed without concessions by Myanmar, and the EU
was to decide on the sanctions on Monday. Chirac, however, said the
Europeans were still talking with Myanmar and that he hoped a compromise
could be struck.
"I very much hope we will not need to take new measures, which will hurt
the poorest people," Chirac said, explaining that he preferred the path of
persuasion and dialogue to coercion.
The EU has taken a strong stand against Myanmar's dismal human rights
record and its stifling of the pro-democracy movement. The group fiercely
opposed the admission of Yangon into ASEM this year.
Asian members, however, argued that Myanmar should be engaged rather than
isolated, and threatened to block the addition of 10 new EU members to
ASEM unless Myanmar was allowed to join.
The EU relented, but threatened new sanctions on Myanmar and some European
leaders -- Chirac included -- skipped the enlargement ceremony Thursday
where Yangon was welcomed as a new member.
The proposed sanctions include an extension of the visa ban on Myanmar
military authorities and their families, a prohibition on EU companies
providing loans and other financing to Myanmar state-owned companies, and
October 8, The Guardian
Burmese ban for European firms
The European Union will on Monday ban all European companies from
investing in Burmese firms controlled by or linked to the military
dictatorship in Rangoon, senior Dutch diplomats said yesterday.
In a package of sanctions planned by the EU against the regime in Burma,
foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, will also vote against extending
any loans to the country from international financial institutions such as
the World Bank and IMF.
Speaking as leaders from 38 countries descended on Hanoi for the
Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, Thom de Bruijn, the Dutch EU
ambassador, said the failure of the Rangoon authorities to respond to EU
demands for reforms on democratic and human rights, including freeing
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, meant there was no
choice but to impose sanctions.
In August the Burma Campaign UK published a "dirty list" of 95 companies
directly or indirectly helping to finance the regime, including
Rolls-Royce, the aero-engine maker, operating through a Singaporean
subsidiary, and Lloyd's of London.
Others, including British American Tobacco, accountants Pricewaterhouse
Coopers and advertising group WPP, have ended their involvement in the
past year, the campaign said.
Amid misgivings about how the sanctions will be policed, ministers will
prohibit EU-registered companies from making financing such as loans or
equities available to Burmese state-owned firms, including banks and
manufacturers. One aim is to enable Burma's neighbours, such as Thailand,
to exert more pressure on Rangoon.
The EU is concerned that the sanctions hit the military authorities and
their "cronies" in state-run firms rather than the Burmese people but
there is scepticism this can be achieved. "It is not our intention to take
sanctions that would hurt the population," Mr de Bruijn said.
But ministers, who will expand a visa ban list to include all Burmese
military officers above the rank of brigadier-general, will increase aid
for health and education after consultations with local democratic groups,
including the National League for Democracy headed by Ms Suu Kyi.
According to British campaigners, imports from Burma have more than
tripled since Tony Blair came to power in 1997 and reached pounds 62.2m
October 8, Agence France Presse
US House joins Senate in seeking UN action against Myanmar
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the United
Nations Security Council to take immediate action to restore democracy and
the rule of law in military-ruled Myanmar.
"With the United Kingdom and United States chairing the United Nations
Security Council, respectively, in October and November, we should use
this opportunity to press for action by the Security Council on Burma,"
said Republican representative Elton Gallegly, who proposed the bill.
A near identical resolution on Myanmar, previously called Burma, was
adopted by the Senate last month.
The junta has come under constant criticism from the United States,
Britain and other Western powers for human rights abuses, including the
detention of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and the clampdown on her
National League for Democracy (NLD).
"The regime poses a serious threat to regional stability of Southeast
Asia," Gallegly said, citing cross-border flow of illegal narcotics,
trafficked persons, unchecked spread of HIV/AIDS and an exodus of 200,000
refugees into neighboring Thailand and Bangladesh.
In addition, he charged that the junta had attempted to acquire military
hardware from nuclear-armed North Korea, China and Russia.
"Burma is ruled by one of the world's most brutal military dictatorships,"
The United States in recent months has stepped up pressure on the junta to
release Aung San Suu Kyi after imposing wideranging sanctions on the
The NLD won elections in 1990 by a landslide but their victory was ignored
by the military, which has ruled Myanmar since a 1962 coup.
The European Union warned Thursday it would slap tougher sanctions on
Myanmar for failing to heed its demand for the release of the opposition
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