BurmaNet News, February 3, 2005
editor at burmanet.org
Thu Feb 3 15:37:13 EST 2005
February 3, 2005 Issue # 2648
TV Myanmar via BBC Monitoring: Burma's Maung Aye receives Thai forces
Asian Tribune: Burma Army attacks continue while regime talks peace
Kyodo News: 4 Myanmar officials get jail over forced labor
Associated Press: Mild earthquake in Myanmar sends some fleeing
ON THE BORDER
SHAN: Rangoon shares border tax with ceasefire groups
BUSINESS / MONEY
Narinjara: Burma authorities propose meeting on tri-nation gas pipeline
Irrawaddy: Asean lawmakers off to Burma
Jakarta Post: ASEAN MPs to send mission to Myanmar
Irrawaddy: Thai Army Chiefs Burma visit brought closer ties
Irrawaddy: Work starts soon on Burma highway
OPINION / OTHER
DVB: Burmese democracy party views exclusion from National Convention
February 1, TV Myanmar via BBC Monitoring
Burma's Maung Aye receives Thai forces commander
Rangoon: Vice Sr Gen Maung Aye, vice-chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council SPDC deputy commander in chief of the Defence Services
and commander in chief of the Army of the Union of Myanmar Burma , met Gen
Chaisit Shinawatra, supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, and
party, at the Zeyathiri Beikman on Konmyinttha in Yangon Rangoon at 1900
0230 gmt today.
Present at the meeting together with Vice Sr Gen Maung Aye, vice-chairman
of the SPDC, deputy commander in chief of the Defence Services and
commander in chief of the Army, were Gen Thura Shwe Mann, this is the
third-ranking military leader's first reported public appearance since 7
January SPDC member from the Ministry of Defence; Lt-Gen Thein Sein, SPDC
secretary-1 and adjutant general; the SPDC members - Lt-Gen Ye Myint,
Lt-Gen Aung Htwe, Lt-Gen Khin Maung Than, Quartermaster General Lt-Gen
Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, Lt-Gen Kyaw Win, chief of Armed Forces
Training, and Lt-Gen Tin Aye - from the Ministry of Defence; Vice-Adm Soe
Thein, commander in chief of the Navy; Lt-Gen Myat Hein, commander in
chief of the Air; Maj Gen Myint Swe, Yangon Division Peace and Development
Council and Yangon Command commander, and U Nyan Win, minister of foreign
February 3, Asian Tribune
Burma Army attacks continue while regime talks peace
Burmas regime has escalated its military offensives against the Karen and
Karenni ethnic groups in eastern Burma, despite calling for a new round of
According to reports from relief teams in the area, fresh attacks have
been launched against Karen villages along the Toungoo-Mawchi and Kler
La-Busakee roads. Earlier this month, a Karen National Union (KNU) camp at
Kalaw Waw was attacked.
Burma Army troops have also shelled a Karenni base on the Thai-Burmese
border, near Mae Hong Son. According to the Thai newspaper The Nation,some
20 mortar shells landed in Thai territory two kilometres from the Burmese
border. The Burmese junta, known as the State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC), has requested co-operation from the Thai authorities to
help them capture the Karenni base.
Continuing military action in northern Karen State has resulted in the
capture and murder of villagers, widespread use of forced labour and
systematic violations of human rights in Toungoo District. At least 440
new Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) are now in hiding, and in urgent
need of rice supplies. A relief team has been able to reach them and
provide limited food and medical supplies but, according to their report,
the need for sustained food supply is critical.
There are a total of over 20,000 IDPs in Toungoo District, and over one
million in eastern Burma. Almost every village has been attacked at one
time or another, and even those able to return to their villages are
forced to flee again and again, claimed the relief teams report.
The Burma Army has seized new land in the area between Liet Tho and La Pae
villages, to build a new military camp. KNU Central Committee member and
spokesman in Europe, Saw Sarky (aka Saw Hsar Hgay), said: In spite of our
gentlemans agreement ceasefire, sustained major operations in
Nyauglebin and Toungoo districts continue, with forced relocation of
civilians, torching of Karen and Karenni villages, rape, torture and
extrajudicial executions of civilians.
Meanwhile, the junta has issued a fresh invitation to the KNU for another
round of ceasefire talks, which first started a year ago. But rumours
persist of continuing in-fighting among the SPDCs senior leaders.
Reports have also emerged of serious harassment of dissident Min Ko Naing,
who was released two months ago after almost 16 years in jail. According
to the US Campaign for Burma, for the past few weeks, Burmas military
intelligence has followed and harassed Min Ko Naing as he attempted to
recover from serious health problems he had developed during his time
behind bars. Min Ko Naing has been suffering heart problems since his
release, due to his prolonged detention and lack of medical care in
Christian Solidarity Worldwides (CSWs) National Director Stuart Windsor
said: The situation in Burma continues to be appalling. Gross violations
of human rights continue on a daily basis. We urge the regime that, if it
is serious about peace talks, it must immediately end the military
offensives against ethnic groups, and stop harassing dissidents.
CSW also backs Burma Campaign UKs launch this week of a new boycott of
tourism in Burma, called Im Not Going. This campaign won the support of
over 70 celebrities and politicians, including Prime Minister Tony Blair,
Opposition leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles
Kennedy. Stuart Windsor said: CSW firmly and unreservedly supports the
tourism boycott, and we urge all our supporters not to go on holiday to
Burma until democracy is restored and human rights are respected.
February 3, Kyodo News
4 Myanmar officials get jail over forced labor
Four local officials in Myanmar were sentenced to prison terms from eight
to 16 months last Monday, for using forced labor in public development
projects, a U.N. official said Thursday.
"This is a very significant development because this is the first time
anybody has ever been found guilty of imposing forced labor in Myanmar,"
said Richard Horsey, a liaison officer from the International Labor
Organization in Yangon.
The Kawmhu Township court gave 16 months in jail to Sein Paw, and
eight-month jail terms to Kyaw Thin, Myint Thein and Aung Khin, in two
separate cases filed by villagers in the township in mid 2004.
Sein Paw and Aung Khin were the heads of village councils in two villages
and the others were council members. Kawmhu is in the Yangon Division,
about 50 kilometers south of the capital.
The villagers said the four forced them to work on a road construction
project under threat of punishment.
Myanmar has been accused by human rights groups and many countries of
widespread use of forced labor in the country, especially for public work
projects such as road building.
In 2000, the ILO's governing body took the unprecedented step of
recommending its member countries impose trade and other sanctions on
Myanmar because of the lack of cooperation by Myanmar authorities in
tackling rampant forced labor.
"Although the problem remains serious, this step will go some way to
changing the climate of impunity surrounding those who impose forced labor
and this can help to reduce the prevalence of the practice," Horsey said.
February 3, Associated Press
Mild earthquake in Myanmar sends some fleeing
A low-intensity earthquake felt in the Myanmar capital Thursday prompted
some residents to flee their homes.
The epicenter of the magnitude-3.5 quake was 26 kilometers (16 miles)
south of Yangon, the Seismic Department said.
"The tremor was slight and there is no damage or casualties," department
official Htaik Htaik Myo said in a telephone interview. "Some residents
did not feel the tremor but others living in highrise buildings in Yangon
fled their apartments."
Myanmar was among 11 countries hit by the powerful Dec. 26 earthquake
which spawned a tsunami that took the lives of 61 people in Myanmar,
according to the official account. International aid agencies estimate a
higher death toll.
Between 158,000 and 178,000 died across Asia, with as many as 142,000
people missing, according to the latest statistics.
ON THE BORDER
February 3, Shan Herald Agency for News
Rangoon shares border tax with ceasefire groups - Sal
The lion's share of the tax levied at 3 border crossings with China goes
to the armed ethnic groups that have concluded ceasefire pacts with
Rangoon, say border watchers in Thailand.
75% of the border tax collected by the newly formed Nakatha unit at
Kambaitti (Kachin State) is for the National Democratic Army-Kachin
(Special Region #1) of Sakhong Ting Ring. "The same goes for Laiza (Kachin
State) for Kachin Independence Organization and Chin Shwehaw (Shan State)
for Kokang," said a monitoring source.
Incoming and outgoing fees are 2 yuan each way for each person, 2 yuan for
motor vehicles and 25 yuan for cargo trucks. ($ 1 = 8 yuan)
The Nakatha (Border Commerce), founded on 11 January to replace the
disbanded Nasaka, formed by Gen Khin Nyunt during his tenure, comes under
the Economy and Commerce Ministry, which in turn coordinates between its
immediate superior the Prime Minister and the Trade Policy Council, headed
by Vice Senior General Maung Aye.
The Nakatha units themselves are made up from 5 components: Customs,
Immigration, People's Police, Myanma Economic Bank and Internal Taxation.
One result of its is a huge overlap among different departments that in
turn results in confusion. "It's a big mess right now", one officer was
quoted as saying. "I'm not sure whether we'll be able to sort it out."
One pleasant outcome of the "concoction" is that the new setup is "more
honest" than other government agencies. "That won't last long," assured a
businessman in Tachilek. "When the Nasaka was first established in 2001,
its commander Htay Naing looked and acted like a virgin. No one was able
to bribe him. But the space under his bunk, by the time he was taken back
to Rangoon in chains (late last year), was said to be crammed with packets
Network Media Group also reported on 31 January, the business community in
Myawaddy, opposite Maesod, was also having a hard time trying to bribe the
newly-arrived tax collectors.
The Nakatha units have been set up in 11 border towns, according to
sources: Muse, Loije, Kambaitti, Laiza and Chin Shwehaw on the Chinese
border; Tachilek, Myawaddy and Kawthaung (Kawsawng) on the Thai border;
Maungdaw on the Bangladeshi border; and Reed and Tamu on the Indian
Units on the Chinese border report to Lt-Col Hla Maw Oo. But Tachilek and
Myawaddy on the Thai border each has its own head officer: Lt-Col
TheinHlaing and Lt-Col Saw Hla Tun respectively.
BUSINESS / MONEY
February 3, Narinjara News
Burma authorities propose meeting on tri-nation gas pipeline
Dhaka: The Burmese authorities sent a proposal to both India and
Bangladesh, to hold the first meeting of the working committee of the
proposed tri-nation gas pipeline, in Rangoon on Feb 14, said an official
report of the Bangladeshi Energy Ministry.
If Bangladesh and India agree to Burma's proposal, the meeting will be
held in Rangoon.
If held, the meeting will be the first for the tri-nation gas pipeline
project's working committee, after all three nation's energy ministers
agreed on the gas pipeline project at a meeting in Rangoon in mid January.
The project proposes to transport gas from Arakan State, in Burma, on to
India through Bangladesh.
According to sources, the six member working committee, two
representatives from each nation, will attend the meeting which aims to
settle policy issues of the project.
Burmas representatives for the working committee are to be the Director
General of the Energy Ministry and the Managing Director of Myanmar
Petroleum Corporation, said a Burmese official source.
The committee is to hold discussions in all the three countries in order
to determine the pipelines route and work out ownership and other
The committee plans to prepare and submit a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU), to facilitate the signing of the tri-partisan agreement, by April.
On January 12th and 13th, Burmese Energy Minister, Brigadier General Lun
Thi, Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Mani Shanker Aiyar, and
Bangladesh Energy and Mineral Resource Minister, AKM Mosharraf Hossain,
attended the first tri-nation gas pipeline project meeting in Rangoon.
In the meeting they agreed to cooperate in gas exploration and an on-land
pipeline project to pump offshore natural gas from Burmas western state of
Arakan, to India, through Bangladesh.
February 3, Irrawaddy
Asean lawmakers off to Burma
Legislators from seven countries in the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, or Asean, will send a fact-finding team to Burma to meet
government officials and also hope to see opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi, currently under house arrest. They are members of the Asean
According to The Jakarta Post, the group wants to convey its hopes for
democratization in the country, to free Suu Kyi from house arrest and to
encourage a dialog between the ruling military junta, the National League
for Democracy (Suu Kyi's party) and ethnic-minority groups. Burma will
take over chairmanship of Asean in 2006. It joined the grouping in 1997.
Lim Kit Siang, Malaysian parliamentary opposition leader and a member of
the caucus, said that caucus president Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, a Malaysian
legislator from the ruling UMNO party, would write to Burma's foreign
ministry to inform it of the visit.
The Asean Parliamentary Caucus is a loose grouping of legislators from
Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
It also includes Burmese who won parliamentary seats in a 1990 general
election, since ignored by the ruling Rangoon regime.
February 3, The Jakarta Post
ASEAN MPs to send mission to Myanmar - Ivy Susanti
Legislators from seven Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
grouped in the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Caucus (IPC) will send a fact-
finding team to Myanmar to meet government officials and opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi.
Lim Kit Siang, a member of the caucus and Malaysian parliamentary
opposition leader, said that the group would convey the legislators'
aspirations for democratization in the country, to free Suu Kyi from house
arrest and to encourage a tripartite dialog between the junta, the
National League for Democracy (Suu Kyi's party) and the ethnic groups.
Lim, a parliamentarian from opposition Democratic Action Party, said that
the caucus' president, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, would write to the Myanmar
foreign affairs ministry to inform them of the visit. Zaid Ibrahim is a
Malaysian legislator from the ruling UMNO party.
Myanmar will take over ASEAN's rotational chairmanship in 2006.
"We will meet the chairman of SPDC (the State Peace and Development
Council), the foreign minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, the representatives of
the pro-democracy forces and ethnic groups some time in March.
"We also agreed that unless there is improvement in the political
situation in Burma (the former name of Myanmar), with meaningful
democratization and improvement in national reconciliation, for example a
meaningful National Convention, Burma is not qualified to be chairman of
ASEAN in 2006 and this must be the concern of all ASEAN parliamentarians,"
Lim told The Jakarta Post after the caucus meeting here on Wednesday.
National Convention is one of seven measures proposed in the Myanmar's
road map for democracy by the former prime minister Khin Nyunt after
international pressure for democratization and Suu Kyi's release.
But in a government shake-up in October, Khin Nyunt was dismissed and
detained on a corruption charge. The military junta announced last
November that the convention would be held this month.
The May convention was canceled because the NLD and two other political
parties refused to attend the convention unless Suu Kyi was freed. The
junta extended Suu Kyi's detention in October.
ASEAN Parliamentary Caucus is a loose grouping of legislators from
Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and
Thailand. The first informal meeting that served as an embryo to this
caucus was held in Kuala Lumpur last November.
Lim expressed hope that the caucus would develop into various working
groups aside from Myanmar, such as for good governance or human rights
During the two-day meeting here, which ended on Wednesday, the ASEAN
Inter-Parliamentary Caucus formalized the Indonesian parliamentary caucus.
Among Indonesian legislators who are members of the ASEAN Caucus are
Nursyahbani Katjasungkana of the National Awakening Party and Djoko Susilo
of the National Mandate Party.
Earlier, Ade Nasution, the vice chairman of the Committee for Inter-
Parliamentary Cooperation in Indonesia's House of Representatives, said
the caucus was for individual legislators who shared the same concerns,
and was not officially endorsed by the House.
"Myanmar is a member of ASEAN, and we can't really intervene in other
countries' affairs," he said.
February 3, Irrawaddy
Thai Army Chiefs Burma visit brought closer ties
This weeks visit to Burma by Thailands Army chief, General Chaisit
Shinawatra, had brought the two countries closer together, a Thai military
spokesman said Thursday.
Maj Veerasak Manee-In told The Irrawaddy: The visit of Gen Chaisit made
Thai-Burmas relations even closer.
Chaisit returned Wednesday from a two-day visit to Rangoon, during which
he met the ruling juntas top leaders, including Snr-Gen Than Shwe and Dep
Snr-Gen Maung Aye.
Chaisit told a press conference that relations between Thailand and Burma
were returning to normal after a disruption in communications between
the two governments.
This had occurred after the October purge, when everything had been
dependent on Maung Aye, who had now instructed the Burmese foreign
minister to reopen the channel of communications with Thailand, Chaisit
Thailand had had a close relationship with sacked Prime Minister Khin
Nyunt. But, said Maj Veerasak Manee-In: The claim that the sacking of
Khin Nyunt damaged the relations between the two countries has no grounds.
Khin Nyunt is not an element in our bilateral relations at all.
A statement, in Thai, released by the Thai military said the primary aim
of the visit was to encourage trust between both countries.
A further aim of the trip was to renew support for the Pagan Declaration,
a multilateral cooperation agreement, signed in November 2003 by Thailand,
Burma, Laos and Cambodia.
Chaisit also told the press conference that the juntas top leader,
Snr-Gen Than Shwe, had praised Thailands prosperity and booming economy.
February 3, Irrawaddy
Work starts soon on Burma highway
Construction will begin in the first week of March on the first section of
the Asian Highway linking Thailand and Burma, an official of Burmese
Ministry of Construction said Thursday.
The 18 km stretch will run between Myawaddy and Thingan Nyi Naung,
Kawkareik township, and will form part of a 1,300 km road from the Thai
border town of Mae Sot to Moreh in India, via Rangoon.
More than 3,000 km of the planned Asian Highway will eventually run
through Burma. The vast Asian Highway project envisages a 140,000 km
network of routes from the Far East to Europes Ural Mountains.
Details of the initial Burmese phase of the project were announced in Mae
Sot Thursday by Burmese Ministry of Construction superintending engineer
Khin Maung, after a meeting with a Thai Highways Department delegation.
The 18 km Burmese stretch of highway is to be built by Thailands Sor
Chiangrai Construction Company at a cost of nearly 119 million baht (US
$30 million). The work, financed by a grant from the Thai government, will
take one year to complete.
Burma will supply machinery and construction materials and also provide
security for the Thai workers under the terms of an agreement reach at Mae
Burma is eager to construct this part of the highway because this road is
important for the country, said Sophon Duankae, deputy director of
Thailands Highways Department.
February 3, Agence France Presse
China busts trafficking ring that sold 70 infants, with seven from Myanmar
Beijing: China has busted a baby trafficking gang in which village women
sold 70 newborns in an operation that spanned several provinces as well as
Myanmar, where seven babies came from, state media said Thursday.
The 104-strong gang operated out of Putian city in southeast China's
Fujian province and purchased or sold the babies in six provinces and
neighbouring Myanmar in the past decade, the Beijing News said.
Police made the first arrests late last year and have so far nabbed 40 of
the gang members and freed 44 of the babies after a year-long
Most of the infants were less than a week old.
To avoid raising suspicions, breast feeding women were recruited and
babies given a little time to acquaint themselves with the women before
they transported them on buses.
In an indication of how common and organized the black market trade in
babies has become, the culprits in this case were mostly village women,
including midwives and matchmakers who saw an opportunity to make money
and seized it.
Some were in charge of working with hospital staff to purchase unwanted
newborns, while others were in charge of transporting and feeding the
babies and making contact with cohorts in other provinces.
The women, often working with their relatives and friends, also used their
connections with government departments to make fake ID cards for the
China's one-child policy has fueled the abandonment of female infants by
making it illegal for couples to have more than one child.
In the countryside, couples can have a second child if the first is a
girl, but traditional preference for boys has led many families to abandon
baby girls so they can have another chance at trying for a son.
The report did not give the infants' gender and did not specify whether
they were abandoned by their parents, but suggests they were unwanted
rather than kidnapped because they were purchased from maternity wards.
OPINION / OTHER
February 3, Democratic Voice of Burma
Burmese democracy party views exclusion from National Convention
Text of telephone interview with NLD Spokesman U Lwin, in Rangoon, carried
by Burmese opposition radio Democratic Voice of Burma web site on 1
Newsreader Brig-Gen Khin Yi, SPDC's State Peace and Development Council's
police director-general, today accused anti-government organizations in
exile of sending specially-trained destructionists to destroy the National
Convention at Nyaunghnapin. The accusation was made at a press conference
held today. He said the destructionists, who are financially supported by
US-based the US Campaign For Burma and the Free Burma Coalition, have been
infiltrating into the country.
Brig Gen Khin Yi said three members of the Vigorous Burmese Student
Warriors, led by San Naing alias Ye Thiha, have entered Burma via the
border town of Myawadi to carry out bombings and other terrorists acts. He
said that is why the SPDC has tightened security measures. He added that
other democratic forces have been assisting the destructionists, and their
actions could be identified from the bomb blasts in Kachin State and Tavoy
in Tenasserim Division .
When journalists asked Brig-Gen Kyaw San, minister of information of the
SPDC, about the Nyaunghnapin convention, he said the convention will be
held successfully as planned. He said three organizations will not be
invited, referring to the National League for Democracy NLD and two other
When we contacted NLD Spokesman U Lwin about SPDC's comment that it will
not invite the NLD to the Nyaunghnapin convention. He said:
U Lwin - recording We refused to attend the first phase of the convention.
This convention is not a second convention. In short, those who attended
the first phase of the convention will have to attend the second.
Likewise, those parties which did not attend the first will not be
included in the second phase of the convention. Since we refused their
invitation in the first place, we would not be invited again to
participate when the convention resumes.
DVB, Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent From the current situation,
it seems like the authorities will resume the Nyaunghnapin convention
without the NLD. What do you think will happen as a result?
U Lwin We will have to wait and see what will happen after the convention.
They would carry on in accordance to six further steps mentioned in their
road map. There are many phases to carried out step-by-step, such as
drafting a constitution based on principles laid down by the convention,
forming a group to draft the constitution, holding referendums to adopt
the constitution, forming an election commission to enact the election
law, and holding elections. We would have to wait and see whether or not
these steps would be accomplished in time.
DVB correspondent We have heard that the Ta-Sa-Nya Party National Unity
Party has already started its campaigning and other preparations to
contest the election when the convention ends. What kind of preparations
has the NLD made?
U Lwin It National Unity Party is doing what it can. It seems like it has
drawn up plans for future programmes, and is following this plan. The
ability of the NLD to make preparations depends on the strength of the
party. We would have to take appropriate action according to different
situation. I think we cannot predict the future situation based on ideas
Newsreaer That was U Lwin's comment on the SPDC's plan to resume the
Nyaunghnapin convention without the NLD.
Dear listeners, at today's press conference, Police Director-General
Brig-Gen Khin Yi stated that the US Campaign for Burma have been sending
destructionists to destroy the Nyaunghnapin convention. We contacted Ko
Aung Din from the US Campaign for Burma.
Ko Aung Din - recording We would like to say that this accusation has no
grounds. We do not accept and believe that opposition forces have caused
the explosions in Burma. We believe that the SPDC military regime itself
made it up deliberately in an effort to frighten the people and to
discredit the opposition political forces. The US Campaign for Burma is
just a part of the Burmese democratic force that stands nonviolently
against the harsh military regime. We support all nonviolent activities,
and we will not engage in any violent activities. We believe the
convention would never succeed. The convention excludes main political
forces, including the NLD chosen by the people, and ethnic leaders. On the
other hand, the SPDC allows the drugs lords, who are wanted by the US and
Thailand, to attend the convention as ethnic minority delegates.
Therefore, this type of convention never has dignity, and could never
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