BurmaNet News, November 17, 2004
editor at burmanet.org
Wed Nov 17 11:53:24 EST 2004
November 17, 2004, Issue # 2603
Xinhua: Myanmar to host ASEAN engineering conference
DVB: Foreign teachers expelled from Mandalay
Irrawaddy: Karen Refugees have window on the world, Conference told
Narinjara: India Supreme Court notice to CBI on Burmese detainees of
AP: Rights group: More than 8,000 victims of land mines in 2003, though
treaty has reduced the carnage
AFP: Activists urge UN to prosecute recruiters of child soldiers
OPINION / OTHER
Irrawaddy: The FEER factor
M2 Presswire: UN: Third Committee approves draft resolutions on human
rights in Myanmar, protection of migrant workers, prevention of
November 17, Xinhua General News Service
Myanmar to host ASEAN engineering conference
Myanmar is making preparations to host the 22nd Conference of ASEAN
Federation of Engineering Organizations (AFEO) in December, aimed at
quickening the pace of ASEAN integration and enhancing global
competitiveness, according to Wednesday's New Light of Myanmar.
Organized by the Myanmar Engineering Association (MEA), the two- day
conference on Dec. 18-19 will be held with the theme of "Engineering
Capacity Building for ASEAN Integration and Global Competitiveness".
Delegates from engineering associations of ASEAN member countries will
present papers on the sector, the report said.
The AFEO started from 1998 to spearhead the mobility of engineers within
the formation of the ASEAN Engineering Register in line with the ASEAN
Secretariat program for the liberalization of professional services within
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prepare for
globalization under the World Trade Organization initiative.
The AFEO, a non-governmental body made up of the national institutions and
organizations of engineers of the regional countries, was formed with the
main objectives of promoting goodwill and mutual understanding,
establishing and developing standard of engineering profession and
engineer mobility within the regional member countries.
It was initially established with engineering organizations from five
members in 1980, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore
and Thailand, and was formally set up in 1982.
MEA became an AFEO member in 2000 and the AFEO now has 6,615 members.
The last AFEO conference was held in Indonesia in 2003.
November 16, Democratic Voice of Burma
Foreign teachers expelled from Mandalay
Seven foreign teachers who have been teaching orphans at a Buddhist
monastery in Mandalay had been expelled from Burma by the local
authorities of State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
The teachers, 2 males and five females of British, US, German, Japanese
and Finish nationalities were voluntarily teaching at Phaungdaw-U
Monastery charitable school, were driven away by some plain-clothed
soldiers without warning on 4 November.
They were taken to a guesthouse belonging to the immigration office in
Rangoon and their visas cancelled. Then, they were immediately put on a
plane flying out to Bangkok.
DVB contacted the abbot of the monastery, Reverend U Nayaka but he refused
to give details of what had happened. A tenth standard pupil confirmed
that the foreign teachers have not been seen recently at the school.
The school, based in Patheingyi Township was founded by the Reverend U
Nayaka in 1993 with the purpose of providing free education to poor and
The number of students increased gradually, thanks to the efforts of
foreign volunteer teachers and the fund from a non-governmental
organisation in New Zealand.
Before the "Prime Minister" General Khin Nyunt was ousted, he often
visited the school to make donations, and he was said to be friendly with
the abbot. Now, people are barred from donating money and materials to the
school and the teachers are being expelled by the ruling authorities.
November 17, Irrawaddy
Karen Refugees have window on the world, Conference told - Yeni
Despite their lack of access to modern technology, Karen refugees along
the Burma-Thai border had a window to the outside world, an
international conference in Chiang Mai was told on Wednesday.
Lee Sang Kook, of the National University of Singapores Department of
Sociology, described the Karen as a scattered but connected people. They
had a network within Burma and also overseas links, he said.
Lee was speaking to a three-day conference on the Impact of
Globalization, Regionalism and Nationalism on Minority Peoples in
Southeast Asia. About 300 representatives from Thailand, Laos, China,
Malaysia, the Philippines and some western countries attended the
conference, which ended Wednesday.
The event was also attended by a number of border-based Karen social
organizations: the Karen Teacher Working Group, the Karen Womens
Organization, the Karen Office for Relief and Development and the Karen
Environment and Social Action Network. They held a roundtable session
entitled Indigenous Self-determination under Burmas Military Regime:
Karen Organization on Land, Knowledge, Women and Community.
Knyaw Paw, of the Karen Womens Organization said she believed
international participants in the conference were aware of what was
happening in Burma and sympathized with the suffering of the Karen
On Tuesday evening a documentary film on the plight of Karen refugees was
shown. Entitled Ceasefire, the Karen-made film documented instances of
forced relocation and acts of violence against the Karen.
The film is a strong advocate of the truth behind the so-called ceasefire
between the junta and the Karen National Union, said one member of the
November 17, Narinjara News
India Supreme Court notice to CBI on Burmese detainees of Operation Leech
Dhaka: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday issued notices to the Central
Bureau of investigation (CBI) and authorities in Andaman and Nicobar
Islands on a petition seeking release of 36 Burmese "freedom fighters"
arrested six years ago by the Indian Army during "Operation Leech"
according to an India local news agency, Press Trust of India, on 16
A bench comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice SB Sinha issued
notice also to the Chief Secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and
asked the respondents to reply within four weeks on the petition filed by
social activist Nandita Haksar.
The petition filed through advocate Kamini Jaiswal also annexed a CBI
report on the incident raising serious doubts over the veracity of the
Army's version of "Operation Leech".
CBI had been entrusted with the investigations into the alleged gun
running racket, which the Indian Army claimed to have busted with the
arrest of 73 people, of which 46 were released later as they were found to
The report said that the Arakanese nationals from Burma were members of
Arakan Army fighting for the liberation of Arakan that lost its
sovereignty in 1784 and had allegedly struck a deal with certain army
officials for bringing a consignment of arms and ammunition from Thailand-
Burma border to Landfall Islands of India.
According to the report, while the Burmese claimed to have been double
crossed by the Army, the CBI claimed that its efforts to get details of
the operation was stonewalled at every stage.
The petitioner said that due to this non-cooperation between Army and the
CBI, the Burmese were facing prolonged litigation without any progress in
In the operation Leech of India army in 1998, six top leaders of Arakan
Army and KNU, including General Khaing Raza and Brigadier general Saw Tun,
were reportedly assassinated by India army.
November 17, Associated Press
Rights group: More than 8,000 victims of land mines in 2003, though treaty
has reduced the carnage - Miranda Leitsinger
Trapeang Veng, Cambodia: More than 8,000 people were killed or maimed last
year by land mines, although an international treaty that banned the
weapons five years ago has reduced the carnage, an activist group said
Up to 20,000 more people could have fallen victim to land mines during the
period because so many cases go unreported, but even that was an
improvement on annual estimates from before the 1999 treaty, officials
from the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group said.
Countries increasingly are shunning land mines since the Mine Ban Treaty
came into effect in 1999, but the United States, China and Russia are
among those that haven't joined and still stockpile millions of the
devices, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said.
Since the treaty, the 143 countries that signed it have destroyed more
than 62 million stockpiled mines and cleared more than 1,100 sq.
kilometers (425 sq. miles) of land of the weapons, the group said in a
global report released Wednesday reviewing the progress made in the last
Only Myanmar and Russia have continuously used mines since 1999, the
"The international norm established by the ... treaty is rapidly taking
firm hold around the world," said Jody Williams, who shared the 1997 Nobel
prize with the group she helped create. "Clearly we are succeeding in our
struggle to eradicate this weapon."
But more countries should ratify the treaty and government should provide
more aid to victims, she said.
The land mine campaign is a collective of the rights groups Human Rights
Watch, Handicap International, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines,
Norwegian People's Aid and Mines Action Canada.
The report said 65 countries had completely destroyed their land mine
stockpiles since signing on to the treaty, though 42 countries still have
about 180 million mines. China, Russia and the United States hold the
largest stockpiles, the report said.
Aid groups estimate that around 26,000 people were killed or injured by
land mines each year in the 1990s, although there is no official count.
Sheree Bailey, of Handicap International, said unconfirmed casualties were
estimated to be about 20,000 in 2003.
The report says there were 8,065 new land mine casualties reported in
2003, down from 8,333 in 2002. Countries with the most improvement were
Afghanistan, Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Bailey said the decline was heartening, but noted that most of the
estimated 400,000 people worldwide who were living with land mine injuries
are in poor countries that often couldn't afford to care for them
"The majority of mine survivors need assistance for their lifetime," she
said. "It's not just a matter of patching someone up and sending them back
Countries affected by land mines "are in the developing world and most
national governments just don't have the resources to assist mine
survivors or to clear the mines from the ground," she said.
November 17, Agence France Presse
Activists urge UN to prosecute recruiters of child soldiers
London: A coalition of human rights groups Wednesday urged the United
Nations to start prosecuting those who recruit children as soldiers, in a
comprehensive new report showing hundreds of thousands of children
fighting in more than two dozen wars worldwide.
Though the coalition condemned governments and armed groups in many
African, Asian and South American countries for recruiting child soldiers,
it also criticized the United States and Britain for enlisting people
younger than 18 to serve in their armed forces.
With such a widespread problem, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child
Soldiers is urging member nations of the UN Security Council to "provide
the political leadership to enforce a ban on child soldiers," the
coalition's director Casey Kelso told a press conference in London.
Founded by groups like London-based Amnesty International and New
York-based Human Rights Watch, the coalition backs the prosecution of
child recruiters by the International Criminal Court of Justice.
The court, which was established in 1998, defines the recruitment of
children under 15 as a "war crime."
The coalition is also campaigning for restrictions on military assistance
or training as well as economic sanctions on governments and
non-governmental armed groups who violate a "de facto ban" on recruiting
soldiers younger than 18.
Some 85 countries have ratified the so-called 2002 UN child soldiers
treaty (optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child)
that bans using all children under the age of 18 in hostilities.
Mehr Kahn Williams, deputy commissioner for the Geneva-based UN Human
Rights Commission, said hundreds of thousands of children, some as young
as nine years old, were engaged as child soldiers in more than two dozen
She said the coalition's "key message is the enforcement of laws that exist."
Kahn Williams and Kelso said that the number of children recruited to
fight by their governments was decreasing slightly, but armed groups
worldwide were still recruiting as many as ever.
"They are making some effort to live up to their obligations but ... it's
not enough," Kahn Williams said.
She said that it is "illegal, morally unacceptable for children to fight
in adult wars."
The Coalition studied more than 20 countries and territories where armed
hostilities occurred between March 2002 and March 2004, as it prepared the
most comprehensive report on child soldiers ever.
Between 2001 and 2004, children were involved in armed conflicts in
Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Guinea, India, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Israel and the occupied Palestinian
territories, Indonesia, Liberia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, the Russian
Federation, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, the report said.
Governments using child soldiers were listed as: Burundi, DR Congo,
Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and the
Some governments, like Colombia, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, did not
directly recruit children, but backed groups which used children to fight
and kill, the report said.
Though the United States ratified the child soldiers treaty, at least 62
soldiers aged 17 participated in US military operations in Afghanistan and
Iraq in 2003 and 2004, the coalition said.
Some 10,000 recruits every year enlist voluntarily at the age of 17 for
active duty in the armed forces.
In Britain, where the minimum recruitment age is 16, the coalition said
"between 6,000 and 7,000 under-18s" were serving in the armed forces.
OPINION / OTHER
November 12, Irrawaddy
The FEER Factor
The death of the Far Eastern Economic Review in late October signaled the
end of an erafor the weekly newsmagazine and for hard-hitting journalism
and press freedom in Asia.
As Asias leading English-language news source, the Review was fresh,
informative and courageousin a region where much of the media has been
tamed by autocratic leaders and trigger-happy hit-men.
Dow Jones took editorial control of the Review in 1992. And in recent
years the magazines readers, writers and editors have complained about
the companys deliberate dumbing down of the content in order to make it
After 58 years of publication, the Review bowed out with an eight-page
spread about chilies. Not exactly the hot stuff its readers were
accustomed to a decade ago when the magazine chronicled the intense
changes sweeping the region, making it an indispensable source of
information on politics and business in Asia.
But according to Dow Jones chairman and chief executive officer Peter
Kannwho took credit for killing the publicationthe weekly news format is
a throwback to a bygone age. I believe the era of regional newsweek-lies
is nearing an end given the many other available sources of daily and more
frequent news and analysis, he said of the Reviews demise.
Some see it differently. Philip Bowring, a former editor of the Review,
called Dow Jones act corporate imperialism. The Review was in direct
competition for advertising with Dow Jones flagship publication the Asian
Wall Street Journal. Asiaweek, another regional weekly was bought by
Time-Warner and then folded a few years later. In direct competition with
its other regional weekly Time Asia, the local Asiaweek was chosen to get
Asias autocratic leaders and venal businessmen will sleep easier knowing
their misdeeds will no longer be chronicled in the influential and widely
Kann said the new Review will reappear as a monthly opinion-led
magazine. The combination of the Wall Street Journals right-wing
editorial stance with its new headquarters inget thisBeijing gives cause
November 17, M2 Presswire
UN: Third Committee approves draft resolutions on human rights in Myanmar,
protection of migrant workers, prevention of involuntary disappearances
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today adopted
without a vote three draft resolutions on human rights questions,
including a text on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, a draft to
protect migrant workers and their families, and a draft to prevent
enforced or involuntary disappearances.
The draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar would
have the General Assembly call upon the Government of Myanmar to end the
systematic violations of human rights, restore democracy and release Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi, other members of the National League for Democracy, and
all detained or imprisoned political prisoners. Following the adoption of
the draft, the representative of Myanmar reiterated his delegation's
position that the text was based on unsubstantiated allegations by remnant
insurgents and anti-government groups, which were waging a war of
disinformation on Myanmar. He said the resolution was a blatant attempt to
interfere in Myanmar's domestic political process and was therefore
contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
The Committee then heard statements from the representatives of Cambodia,
Algeria, Cuba, Turkmenistan, Viet Nam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Belarus,
Venezuela, Sudan, Iran, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal,
Syria, India and Zimbabwe, all of whom rejected the politicization of
human rights issues and expressed their opposition to selectivity and
double standards in the area of human rights. They said cooperative
approaches through dialogue were preferable to country resolutions that
lacked objectivity and impartiality.
Also speaking after the adoption of the draft on human rights in Myanmar,
the representative of the United States said the situation in Myanmar had
deteriorated significantly. She called on Myanmar to take tangible steps
including the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political
prisoners, allowing the full participation of the National League for
Democracy and the initiation of a national dialogue to advance genuine
national reconciliation and the establishment of democracy.
[TEXT REMOVED NOT RELEVANT TO MYANMAR]
The Committee then turned to consideration of the text on the situation of
human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/59/L.49), which would have the
General Assembly express its grave concern at the ongoing systematic
violation of human rights, including political, economic, social and
cultural rights, of the people of Myanmar; the events of 30 May 2003 and
the continuing detention and house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and
members of the National League for Democracy; the fact that the Special
Envoy of the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur of the
Commission on Human Rights have not been permitted to visit the country
for six and twelve months, respectively; and the continuing restrictions
placed on the National League for Democracy and other political parties,
among other circumstances.
Among other provisions, the text would have the Assembly call upon the
Government of Myanmar to end the systematic violations of human rights,
restore democracy and respect the results of the 1990 elections and
release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, other members of the National League for
Democracy and other prisoners of conscience, as well as all detained or
imprisoned political prisoners. The Government would be called upon to
initiate a full and independent inquiry, with international cooperation,
into the Depayin incident of 30 May 2003, and to cooperate fully with the
Special Envoy and the Special Rapporteur. It would also be called upon to
put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
A statement on the draft's programme budgetary implications was contained
in document A/C.3/59/L.76.
The Committee was also informed that the name of France had inadvertently
been omitted from the list of co-sponsors. It was also informed that the
Republic of Moldova had withdrawn as a co-sponsor.
Making a general statement as the text's main sponsor, the representative
of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said he
wished to express appreciation to the delegation of Myanmar, and to other
delegations that had participated in the negotiations on the draft. The
European Union regretted that the document on programme budgetary
implications had been issued at such a late stage - 14 days after the
draft's issuance. It was to be hoped that, on future occasions, deadlines
would be respected. He also expressed satisfaction that the draft would
once more be adopted without a vote.
Making a general statement on the text, the representative of Myanmar said
that while the draft purported to promote human rights in Myanmar, its
real aim was for some powerful countries to put in power a certain person
and a certain political party of their choice. The text was based on
unsubstantiated allegations by remnant insurgents and anti-government
groups which were waging a war of disinformation on Myanmar. The
resolution was a blatant attempt to interfere in Myanmar's domestic
political process and was therefore contrary to the provisions of the
United Nations Charter.
He said that in August 2003 his Government had announced a seven-step
political programme for a transition to democracy, and that the road map
was welcomed in the country and well received by Myanmar's neighbours and
friends. The reconvening of the National Convention in May 2004 was the
first crucial step of the road map. The draft had not only failed to take
these positive developments into account, but had also attempted to
dictate the parameters of the next session of the National Convention.
He reiterated that the draft lacked objectivity, impartiality and
non-selectivity. His Government was firmly resolved in its determination
to promote and protect the human rights of all the people of Myanmar. It
was determined to implement its road map for transition to democracy.
Myanmar would not accept a resolution that politicized human rights with
the intent of exerting pressure on matters, which were within its domestic
Also making a general statement, the representative of Cambodia said the
situation of human rights in any country should be addressed only through
a cooperative approach, and with objectivity, impartiality,
non-selectivity and transparency while taking into consideration the
political, historical, social, religious and cultural characteristics of
His country was pleased to note that the Government of Myanmar continued
to pursue positive developments for the promotion and protection of human
rights, including through the establishment of a Committee for the
Prevention of Military Recruitment of Under-age Children, and through
cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Committee on the Rights of the Child and
other United Nations and international organizations. In conjunction with
other Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, Cambodia
felt that sanctions would not help to achieve the goal of ensuring the
well-being of the common people.
The representative of Algeria said cooperation within the area of human
rights must be based on equal exchange, dialogue and respect for
differences and must be free of selectivity and must remain focused on the
full implementation of all human rights. Resorting to country-specific
resolutions was regrettable and would not lead to a triumph of human
Myanmar had made progress in protecting and promoting human rights and had
committed to a process that should lead to the establishment of democracy.
Myanmar therefore deserved the understanding and encouragement of all.
The representative of Cuba said his delegation would not participate in
any consensus for country resolutions.
Selective and discriminatory exercises did not contribute to real
cooperation for human rights.
The representative of Turkmenistan said that the situation of human rights
in any country should be addressed in line with the principles of
cooperation, and with objectivity, impartiality, non-selectivity and
transparency. His country supported the position of the Government of
Myanmar on the draft resolution, as well as its efforts to promote respect
for the human rights of its people.
The representative of Viet Nam said that it was only through cooperation,
sincere dialogue and respect for the principle of non-interference that
the cause of promoting and protecting human rights would be advanced. The
introduction of country-specific resolutions, including the present one,
ran counter to that position. She also noted that the national
reconciliation of Myanmar would soon be accomplished and that the
international community should encourage, not complicate, that process.
The representative of Pakistan said his delegation was opposed to country
resolutions as they did not help to improve the situation of human rights,
but on the contrary tended to alienate the country and to cause
unnecessary ill will.
The representative of Indonesia said country resolutions were
counterproductive to human rights. Dialogue was more constructive in
persuading the country in question to improve its human rights record.
The representative of Belarus said his country understood the position of
Myanmar. While his country would join a consensus on the document, it
would do so on the understanding that his country's fundamental position
on country-specific resolutions remained unchanged. His country remained
opposed to an artificial politicization of the Committee's work. That work
should be cooperative, not confrontational. Belarus supported the
Government of Myanmar's intention to facilitate the reinforcement of
democracy in the country.
The representative of Venezuela said she wished to disagree with the
policy, adopted by some United Nations Member States, of individually and
selectively condemning certain States for violations of human rights. That
ran contrary to the Charter's principles of non-intervention and
non-interference in the affairs of States.
The representative of the Sudan said her delegation affirmed its position
that rejected the politicization of human rights issues and was opposed to
selectivity and double standards in the area of human rights.
The text on the situation of human rights in Myanmar was then adopted
without a vote.
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