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BurmaNet News: February 18, 2000

=========== THE BURMANET NEWS ===========
Friday, February 18, 2000
Issue # 1465


"If you get enough cities doing this, the federal government may take 
notice and say, 'Shouldn't we be doing the same?' What the cities are 
doing is almost shaming the federal government." 

Stephen Dun of Seattle, a Karen refugee at a Congressional hearing 
regarding Burma selective purchasing laws.  (See OREGONIAN: PORTLAND'S 


Inside Burma--








February 17, 2000

By Aung Hla Htun

Yangoon, Feb.17: Burma's military government which maintains tight 
control over its media, has surprisingly allowed the launch of the 
country's first privately-owned English language newspaper edited by a 

The Myanmar's Times a weekly whose editor-in-chief is Ross Dunkley, hit 
the streets this week. The state run newspapers all publish dull 
pro-government articles, often denouncing the opposition National League 
for Democracy, led by Nobel peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi and the 

The tabloid paper, printed in four colors, on high-quality imported 
paper, looked more breezy them existing publications. A Burma government 
spokesman said that the government had no involvement in new paper, 
except to give it permission to publish. "Actually, this new project is 
launched by the private sector working with Australian firm," he said.

He declined to identified the Australian firm. Complimentary copies of 
the nation's second English language daily were being distributed 
through a local book store. The paper joins a host of government-run
weekly journals, two Burma-language and one English-language newspaper, 
The New Light of Myanmar, to be published and circulated in Burma. The 
new tabloid is owned by a joint venture between local and foreign 
partners, called Myanmar Consolidated Media Co Ltd. In a front page 
announcement, The Myanmar Times said; "Welcome to the MT. The joint 
venture journal, The Myanmar Time is first major step in aiming to 
broaden the world's perspective on Myanmar. The publication is a private 
venture between both foreign and local partners and as such is the first 
truly, free press in the nation for more then three decades."

Editor-in Chief Dunkley said: "I am optimistic about the future of this 
journal. It is aimed at white collar audience and 60-70 percent of its 
readership will comprise Myanmar people." He also declined to name the 
Australian investor in the joint venture owning the newspaper. Mr. 
Dunkley was previously involved in Vietnam's government owned Vietnam 
Investment Review. The paper's publisher U Than Naing was not available 
for comment.

A staff member of firm told Reuters that the paper would be priced at 
$2-a hefty sum by Burma standards when compared with 35 Kyats for other 
journals and newspaper now in circulation with government approval. He 
said the owners hoped to sell about 5,000 copies weekly in Burma and 



February 18, 2000

Before the Internet, you moved information between one computers by 
copying it on a floppy disk at one computer and then walking the floppy 
disk over to another--sneakernet.  The sneakernet has reemerged in 

On December 13th, 1999, the regime ordered the closure of Myanmar Eagle 
IT, an Internet service provider run by Pat James, an American 
businessman married to a Burmese.  At the beginning of February, Eagle 
IT was allowed to reopen for one week to allow customers to get their 
42,000 incoming email messages that had piled up on Eagle's servers 
since the December closure.  The only catch was customers had to come in 
person to Eagle's office--and bring a floppy disk.



KNU Mergui-Tavoy District Information Department
February 17, 2000
Mergui-Tavoy District, Burma: On 9 February, 2000, the villagers from 
between Theybyu and Maw Taung (Mo Daung) were ordered to relocate to the 
west bank of Nyaung Bin Gwin village and/or Bok Pyin town and also 
families from the military units were ordered the same by the local 
military authorities. LIB 561 HQ at Theybyu was shifted to Hsonedaw in 
Tenasseim Township.
According to [our] information some of Khun Sa's Wa troop s  will be 
transferred to the  now empty area between Th e ybyu and Maw Taung to 
set up business.  In Tavoy district  we also  have information that Khun 
Sa's troops may be sent by the SPDC to  an area between Aing Wine and 
Law Aw in the east of Tavoy. The area  is  situated  on the eastern side 
of the Tenasserim River and  to the west of  the Thai-Burma border.

Some sources say that Khun Sa 's  troops will be allowed to do business 
in the areas deserted by Karen villagers since 1997 SPDC offensive.
In the beginning of 2000 Khun Sa' s Wa troops were sent to Karen state's 
Myawaddy-Kawkareik area opposite Maesot (Tak province in Thailand) by 
the SPDC with 40 army trucks to set up business there.



Shan Herald Agency for News

17 February 2000

No: 2 - 16

19 Shans Massacred By Junta Troops
Reports of the killings of 19 Shans by Rangoon troops in southern Shan 
State last month were confirmed yesterday by Maihoong who arrived at the 
border yesterday.

19 Shan villagers including 3 women who were clearing bushes in order to 
 resettle in their former village of Kengkham, were lined up and shot 
down  by a Burmese patrol from Nanzang at noon on 30 January, he said.

"Twelve days earlier, on 18 January, villagers from Kengkham who were  
relocated to Kunhing were summoned by Lt.-Col. Kyaw Aye, commander, IB 
246. He told them that since Rangoon had decided to repopulate sections 
on both  sides of the Kunhing-Kengtawng road, those who wished to go 
back would be given safe passes at K. 50 each", he reported.

The villagers deliberated for ten days, according to him, before 19 of 
them led by Jawngsu, 57, decided to make a try by applying for safe 
passes which they got.

"On the second day, while they were still clearing bushes that had 
accumulated during their long absence, a 85-90 strong patrol from IB 66 
of Namzang led by Capt. Zaw Thein arrived there with 40 porters."

According to Maihoong's sources, who witnessed the event, the villagers 
were surrounded and interrogated as to why they were in a free fire 
zone. When the villagers explained showing the safe passes, he brushed 
off by  saying, "If you have passes, then you must have bribed Col. Kyaw 
Aye," and ordered his men to shoot them down.

After the massacre, relatives reported to the IB 246 officers who had 
issued the passes, to which the officers responded by telling them not 
to lay blame on other units without evidence. "If you have witnesses, 
bring forth," they were reported to have said.

"Of course, nobody dared to come forward to bear witness for fear of 
being subject to the same fate," he added.

"So far I have not heard any action taken against Capt. Zaw Thein, the 

The names of the 19 victims were:
1. Jawngsu      57      male
2. Kaling       51      male
3. Awzayya      47      male
4. Panla        47      male
5. Mala         45      male
6. Jawla        44      male
7. Zai Woon     41      male
8. Zarmkhurh    36      male
9. Htoon-awng   33      male
10. Zai Mint    30      male
11. Zai Min     27      male
12. Awngsa      24      male
13. Zai Nu      20      male
14. Zai Man     17      male
15. Zai Lao     16      male
16. Zai Mu      15      male
17. Nang Ing    34      female
18. Nang Nyunt  26      female
19. Nang Htoon  22      female



Shan Herald Agency for News

18 February 2000

No: 2 - 17

Three nabbed For Mongyawn Explosions 

An unconfirmed report says three Lahus were arrested by the Was in 
Mongyawn for last month's explosions that rocked the Was' southern 

Ruang (not his real name) a Thai national, who makes a living across the 
border, reported S.H.A.N. that 3 Lahu hilltribesmen had been arrested 
for the explosions on 23 January which reportedly blasted an electricity 
plant,  2 gas stations and one building.

Ruang said he did not learn their identities except that they had 
already confessed their action.

Meanwhile, a Burmese soldier was found dead on 12 Februray near 
Piangkham, a Shan village outside Mongyawn. "The Burmese have demanded 
that the Was produce the culprit soon or else they would have to pay 
heavy damages," he said.

He also saw thousands of Wa settlers in Talarng, Monggarn and Mongtoom, 
along the Monghsat - Tachilek road, cutting wood and weaving thatches to 
build their new homes there. Trucks form the Was' Hongpang Company were 
also seen unloading rice bags for the settlers.

"In Banghoong, there is a big store selling all kinds of commodities to 
the local populace, both newcomers and oldcomers alike, he said. "They 
say it belongs to Wei Hsiaokang".

Wei is wanted by the Untied States for drug offenses.


Information Release about the Political Prisoners
18,Feburary 2000

Since 1988, the SPDC has consistently and continuously closed 
universities, and arrested students who protested this abuse of their 
rights, and worked for the freedom of their country.   The SPDC has 
denied the existence of the nearly 2,000 student political prisoners to 
the international community.  After the 9-9-99 action, the following 
students were given the following sentences and sentence extensions. And 
transferred to Thayet, TharYarWaddy and Taungue prison in january,22, 

Name ;Nyi Htwe(a)San Zaw Htwe
Age: 22
Sentence: 37 years under the 5(j), 17/1 ,Illegal Publication law.
University: Bothataung College, 2nd year
Major: History
Background: Nyi Htwe was involved in the 1996 student movements, during 
which he established many connections in the freedom education movement. 
 In 1998, he was again actively involved in the August 24 student 
demonstrations.  Some of his friends were arrested after this movement, 
and he was forced into hiding.  During his time in hiding, he became an 
extension member of the NLD-Youth and worked at the NLD Headquarters. In 
September 1999 he attempted to organize for the '9999' action so MI came 
to arrest him at his house on the evening of 9-9-99.  However, he was 
able to evade their arrest.  On September 20 the MI again attempted to 
arrest him, and searched his house and took some documents and other 
materials of his.  In November 1999 the MI succeeded in arresting him. 
On December 3,1999 he was sentenced in Insein Prison Court to 37 years 
with hard labour.    

Name ;Zaw Ye Win
Age:  27
Sentence: 17 years under the 5(j), 17/1 Illegal Publication law. 
Background: Ko Zaw Ye Win was involved in the 1988 uprisings in Burma as 
a RIT (Rangoon Institute of Technology) student and a member of the RIT 
student union.  In 1989 he became a member of the Democratic Student 
Front, Yangon division.  Together with this group he was involved in the 
memorial ceremony of Phone Maw on the 1990 anniversary of his death.  
Due to this activity, he was arrested by the MI and sentenced to 3 years 
imprisonment with hard labor. After he was released from prison, he 
continued his involvement in the political field.   In September 1999, 
he worked to organize the support of people for the "9999' action.  He 
was arrested again by the MI at the end of September 1999. On December 
3,1999 he was sentenced in Insein Prison Court to 17 years with hard 

Name ;Thet Htwe
Age: 29
Sentence: 21 years sentence with hard labour, under the 5(j) , 17/1 
Illegal Publication law. 
Background: In 1988, Thet Htwe was heavily involved in the '88 movement 
as a member of Rangoon University Students Union .  In 1989 he joined 
the Student Democratic Front, Yangon Division. In 1990 he was on the 
leading committee of All Burma Federation of Student Unions (lower 
Burma). At the end of 1990, after the election results of Aung San Suu 
Kyi's NLD party were denied, he fled to the border area.  In 1997 he 
secretly returned to the central area of Burma to work underground with 
Rangoon University of Students Union  .  In 1999 he supported the work 
for the '9999' action, and was subsequently arrested by the MI in 
November.  On December 3, 1999 he was sentenced in the Insein Prison 
court to 21 years in prison with hard labour.   

Foreign Affairs Committee
All Burma Federation of Student Unions

For more info ,please contact to(66-055-542 864) 

Foreign Affairs' Comittee
All Burma Federation of Student Union
Phone No: (055- 543001) (055- 542864)
Email Address: bakatha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx



Thursday February 17 12:29 PM ET
Dissident Group Closes Thai Offices
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - The main political group for exiled students 
opposed to Myanmar's military regime said Thursday it had closed all its 
offices in Thailand under pressure from Thai authorities.

The closure could be a crippling blow to the All-Burma Students 
Democratic Front, which has been under heavy Thai pressure since Myanmar 
rebels crossed the border last month and took hundreds of hostages at a 
Thai provincial hospital.

The siege ended with Thai commandos killing all 10 rebels, who included 
members of the radical Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors and God's Army, 
a fringe ethnic Karen group led by twin 12-year-old boys.

Though the front has disavowed the actions, Thailand, for years tolerant 
of Myanmar dissidents, has made clear it does not want the mainstream 
group to maintain a presence there.

Authorities have tightened security at the border with Myanmar, also 
known as Burma, where around 700 members stay.

``If our offices cannot open here anymore, we shall go back into the 
jungle of Burma,'' said Kyaw Kyaw, a central executive committee member.

On Wednesday, Thai police raided two of the group's offices in Mae 
Sariang district in northern Mae Hong Son province, 400 miles north of 
Bangkok. Three students were sent to a refugee camp along the border.

A third office in the district was immediately closed by the front 
itself, a member told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

A Thai official in Mae Sariang, speaking on customary condition of 
anonymity, confirmed the closures, saying it was Interior Ministry 
policy to ``keep all refugees in a camp.''

The front says its other offices have already shut.

The front was formed by students who fled the Myanmar military's bloody 
crackdown on a mass uprising for democracy in 1988.



   PHNOM PENH, Feb 17 (AFP) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen left 
Phnom Penh Thursday for four days of official appointments in India and 
Myanmar aimed at
strengthening trade and political ties, officials said.

   The visit is the first by a Cambodian premier to India in more than 
20 years, and the first to military-ruled Myanmar since Cambodia's entry 
into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April last 

   "His visit is a very interesting phase in history for Cambodia and 
India," said M.L. Bajaj, a senior Indian embassy official in Phnom Penh.

   "Cambodia and India can look forward to a new chapter in their 
relations," he added, describing the current visit as on of "grooming 
commercial ties."
  India was one of the few countries that supported the former communist 
government installed by Vietnam during the 1980's -- in which Hun Sen 
played a senior role as foreign minister and then prime minister.

   In India Hun Sen is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal 
Behari Vajpayee and other senior government officials, and sign 
agreement in
the fields of trade, economy, science and technology, tourism and 

   Continuing his tour in Myanmar, the premier is scheduled to hold 
talks with the junta chairman Senior General Than Shwe.

   Hun Sen was accompanied by a 35-strong delegation including cabinet 
minister Sok An, foreign minister Hor Namhong, commerce minister Cham 
Prasith, tourism minister Veng Sereyvuth and Industial minister Suy Sem.



Interpress Service

By Jim Lobe 

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (IPS) - In a major boost for the forces of economic 
globalisation, US President Bill Clinton has decided to back 
multinational corporations in a key court challenge to a Massachusetts 
law designed to promote democracy in Burma. 

In a brief quietly filed with the Supreme Court Tuesday, Clinton's 
Justice Department charged that cities and states which make it more 
difficult for companies doing business in repressive countries to win 
procurement contracts "impermissibly intrude into the national 
government's exclusive authority over foreign affairs." 

Joining a coalition of some 600 major multinational corporations, the 
European Union (EU) and Japan, the administration asked the Supreme 
Court, which will hear oral arguments on the case March 22, to declare 
the Massachusetts law unconstitutional. A final judgment by the 
nine-member court is expected in June. 

The case, called "Natsios versus the National Foreign Trade Council 
(NFTC)," has major implications for grassroots human rights and other US 
activist groups, which over the past 25 years have used state and local 
"selective-purchasing" laws to influence the behaviour of multi-national 
corporations abroad. 

Selective-purchasing laws are designed to force companies to choose 
between continuing to do business with repressive foreign governments 
and bidding on often-lucrative state or local government contracts. The 
Massachusetts law, for example, adds 10 percent to any bid by a target 
companies - foreign and domestic - on a state procurement contract. 

Such laws were used most successfully during the late 1970s and 1980s to 
force scores of US multinationals - including such giants as Coca-Cola, 
IBM, and General Motors - to withdraw from South Africa because of 
apartheid. The resulting divestment, according to most experts, played a 
crucial role in bringing about majority rule. 

Similar laws in New York, California, Pennsylvania and other states and 
cities targeting Swiss banks and insurance companies which had failed to 
adequately account to Nazi Holocaust victims and their families helped 
prompt a settlement of outstanding claims in 1998. 

Some two dozen states and cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and 
San Francisco - which each year put hundreds of millions of dollars in 
contracts up for bids - have enacted selective-purchasing laws against 
companies doing business in Burma, where a military junta has repressed 
the democratic opposition led by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Multinationals naturally oppose these initiatives because they curb 
their freedom to do business where they like. But until now, they were 
reluctant to challenge the laws in court due to the negative publicity 
that could result from a company claiming a right to do business with 
abusive governments. 

In 1998, however, the NFTC filed a case in federal court challenging the 
1996 Massachusetts law on the grounds that it violated US constitutional 
provisions which gave the federal government the power to regulate 
foreign commerce and foreign policy. In an unprecedented step, the EU 
and Japan filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs on the NFTC's 

At the same time, Brussels and Tokyo also filed their own challenges to 
the law with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva. They claimed 
that Massachusetts, by enacting the law, had violated the WTO's 1995 
Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which forbids states from using 
non-economic criteria in deciding contract bids. 

The Clinton administration, deeply split on the issue, stayed out of the 
case. While strong supporters of globalisation, like the Treasury and 
Commerce Departments, argued for backing the NFTC, other offices,
especially in the State Department and the National Security Council, 
opposed taking any position. 

In a letter to state officials in April 1998, Secretary of State 
Madeleine Albright expressed the  administration's deep ambivalence. 

"Our challenge," she wrote, "is to ensure that America speaks with a 
single voice." She also noted, however, that "President Clinton and I 
recognise the authority of state and local officials to determine their 
own investment and procurement policies, and the right - indeed their 
responsibility - to take moral considerations into account as they do 

The latter position is the one taken by Massachusetts in the case. "The 
states should be free...to apply a moral standard to their spending 
decisions," according to a brief filed by the state, which, in a rare 
breach of legal protocol, was not informed in advance by the
administration - apparently to avoid publicity - of its own submission. 

"Nothing in the federal Constitution...requires the states to trade with 
dictators," argues the Massachusetts brief, which is supported by amicus 
briefs from more than two dozen states and cities, some 24 members of 
Congress, and a plethora of human rights and labour groups. 

The Clinton administration brief stresses that it, too, strongly opposes 
the current government in Burma and has imposed trade and other 
sanctions against it. 

"The disagreement," according to the brief, "is only over whether the 
State could permissibly take the sort of action reflected in the 
Massachusetts Burma Act." 

Citing complaints against the law by the EU, Japan, and the Association 
for Southeast Asian Nations, the administration goes onto argue that it 
has "complicated (US) efforts to develop a multilateral strategy" and 
thus "impermissibly infringe(s) upon the national government's exclusive 
authority to conduct foreign affairs." 

"Indeed, if the (Act) were sustained, a multitude of different, and 
differing state and local measures sanctioning foreign governments could 
be expected," the brief states, adding that similar selective-purchasing 
statutes have been or adopted or considered against companies doing 
business in China, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Morocco, 
Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Switzerland, Tibet, 
Turkey, and Vietnam. 

The administration's arguments echo those made by the two courts which 
have considered the case to date. In November 1998, US federal court 
judge Joseph Tauro ruled that "State interests, no matter how noble, do 
not trump the federal government's exclusive foreign affairs power." 

Last June, in a more sweeping decision, a three-judge federal appeals 
court in Boston found that "the conduct of this nation's foreign affairs 
cannot be effectively managed on behalf of all the nation's citizens if 
each of the many state and local governments pursues its own foreign 

But supporters of the Act remain confident. "This could actually 
backfire against the administration," noted Robert Stumberg, a professor 
at Georgetown Law Centre. "Some justices who might have been more 
sympathetic to the administration's case may now be more inclined to see 
in this a major extension of federal power at the expense of state and 
local authorities." 

The Court's majority consists of justices appointed by Republican 
presidents, who generally have been more solicitous of state and local 
rights. Ironically, President Ronald Reagan's attorney-general, a strong 
supporter of apartheid South Africa, opposed a constitutional challenge 
to the selective-purchasing laws against Pretoria for precisely that 

"The administration's brief amounts to an unparalleled attack by the 
federal government on state sovereignty and local democracy and really 
makes a sharp contrast with even the Reagan administration's view that 
selective-purchasing laws were constitutional," says Simon Billeness, a 
financial analyst in Boston who has led the anti-Burma campaign there. 

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, however, the case's main impact may 
actually work against the WTO, which was already badly wounded by the 
debacle of its Seattle meeting last December, according to Stumberg. 

In 1994, when the administration was negotiating with Congress over 
Washington's membership in the WTO, it offered assurances to the 
attorneys-general of all 50 US states that private corporations could 
sue states in connection with WTO agreements, including any 
constitution-based challenges to state laws. 

"To get it through Congress, that's what the US Trade Representative 
agreed to," said Stumberg. "Now the fact that the administration is 
lining up with the corporations will not help the USTR's credibility 
when new trade agreements come up."


Human rights activists testify on Capitol Hill that city sanctions can 
and do have real effect 
Wednesday, February 16, 2000

By Mark O'Keefe of The Oregonian staff 

WASHINGTON -- In 1998, Portland's City Council joined more than 20 other 
local governments in taking an economic stand against the human rights 
violations of Myanmar. 

Tuesday on Capitol Hill, activists on the issue said the stance was 
making a difference. 

"If you get enough cities doing this, the federal government may take 
notice and say, 'Shouldn't we be doing the same?' " said Stephen Dun of 
Seattle, who escaped from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and its 
military regime. "What the cities are doing is almost shaming the 
federal government." 

Dun made the comment after testifying to the Congressional Human Rights 

Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., a member of the caucus, also praised Portland 
and the other cities.

 "A lot of our involvement with Myanmar is people-to-people diplomacy in 
business, trade, academia and cultural organizations," said Pitts, who 
has made fighting religious persecution a personal crusade. "These 
cities help create a consensus that government policies are important 
and effective." 

Pitts said he hoped the effort could one day equal the momentum of 
sanctions against apartheid in South Africa, sanctions which helped lead 
to reforms. 

The Portland City Council unanimously voted to ban certain city 
contracts with firms that do business with Myanmar. New York, Los 
Angeles and San Francisco have enacted similar bans. 
Myanmar's economy, which prospered in the early 1990s as the military 
regime introduced partial reforms, has deteriorated. Western companies 
upset about the lack of progress on human rights have pulled out, citing 
worries about Myanmar's image. In 1996, for example, Columbia Sportswear 
of Portland ended manufacturing in the country, partly because of public 

Myanmar, which was renamed by the ruling junta, is a country in which 
the military takes 50 percent of the national budget. It has a 
significant drug trade: As much as 60 percent of the heroin on U.S. 
streets comes from Myanmar, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement 
Administration. Religious persecution is rampant, particularly toward 
ethnic minorities, such as the Karen, who are mostly Christian. 
Congress has prohibited new investment in the country but has not gone 
so far as to ban the federal government from doing business with U.S. 
corporations that remain in Myanmar. 

Edith Mirante of Portland was one of the activists who urged the 
Portland City Council to take its 1998 stand. She was not in Washington 
Tuesday but said in an interview that the Portland law is seen as a 
model of clarity by other communities considering similar action. 

"It's local, but it can have a real effect when done in conjunction with 
other cities," said Mirante, who heads an international Myanmar 
information organization called Project Maje. 

Some in the business community see these laws as foreign policy-making 
by cities and states. A business coalition led by the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce challenged a Massachusetts law that barred the state from 
buying goods and services from companies doing business with Myanmar. 
The Supreme Court recently agreed to review the case. 
No matter what the outcome of the review, Dun said Tuesday that city 
ordinances such as Portland's have helped the victims of the Myanmar 

"People are encouraged," Dun said. "They say, 'Oh, wow. We're not 
forgotten. At least someone is thinking about us.' " 

Mark O'Keefe can be reached at The Oregonian's Washington, D.C., office 
at 202-383-7857 or by e-mail at mark.okeefe@xxxxxxxxxxxx 



Jan. 2000

Washington, D.C.-- The Mongolian Ambassador to the United States, Jalbuu 
Choinhor, has presented the Order of Freedom medal to Michael Mitchell.  
The Order of Freedom is one of the highest civilian honors that can be 
bestowed by the Mongolian government.  He joins former Secretary of 
State James A. Baker III as the only other American and just the third 
foreigner in Mongolian history to receive this award.   

"My government has instructed me, on behalf of the Mongolian people, to 
present Michael Mitchell with the Order of Freedom," Choinhor stated.  
"At a time when we are celebrating ten years of democratic rule, we want 
to honor Michael¹s contributions in helping us build a new society based 
on democracy and human rights as well as strengthening the bond between 
our two governments and the people of our two countries. We want to 
offer our heartfelt thanks for his efforts," he said  

The Order of Freedom medal and a certificate from the Mongolian 
parliament was presented to Mitchell during a private ceremony at the 

"I want to express my deep gratitude to the Mongolian people and the 
government of Mongolia.  It has been my honor to work with them as they 
build a new society that embraces democracy, individual rights, freedom 
of the press and the rule of law," Mitchell stated.  "I accept this 
honor on behalf of the Mongolian people, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the 
jailed student leader Min Ko Naing, the recently deceased Tin Maung Win, 
and each and every person in Burma who is fighting for freedom, 
democracy, and human rights; I accept the Order of Freedom on their 
behalf," Mitchell said.  

Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia is the only country in 
Central Asia that has cast off its communist past and linked free market 
economics with democratic governance.  The parliamentary elections held 
in 1996 saw a transfer of power from the ruling Mongolian Peoples 
Revolutionary Party to the Mongolian Democratic Union.  The first 
peaceful transfer of political power the region has seen in modern 

Mitchell¹s work in Mongolia began in 1993 when he organized political 
party training programs for the International Republican Institute, a 
non-profit organization. He has also spent years working with Burmese 
democracy activists who are using non-violent methods, commonly called 
political defiance in Burma, to oppose the military regime and press for 
a transfer of power to Burma¹s democratically elected 1990 Parliament.   
Mitchell has played a role in fostering ties between Burmese democracy 
groups and the Mongolian government and political parties.  

Spearheading this effort was Tin Maung Win, editor of the New Era 
Journal.  Before his death, Win traveled to Mongolia¹s capital, 
Ulaanbaatar, to participate in a seminar on consensus-building with 
members of Mongolia¹s parliament and top political leaders.  During the 
visit, Mongolian political figures expressed their deep concern about 
the situation in Burma and pledged to support the non-violent movement.  
Mitchell also provides information on the military¹s involvement in drug 
trafficking and the torture and detention of Burmese political prisoners 
to the U.S. Congress. 

"My great hope is that someday very soon I can greet Aung San Suu Kyi, 
Min Ko Naing and the millions of other Burmese and ethnics in a free and 
democratic Burma," Mitchell said.  "I hope those good people in the 
Burma army realize that the country is being destroyed by a corrupt 
elite and join with the Burmese people in demanding democratic reforms," 
he stated.  



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