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BurmaNet News: July 27, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
           July 27, 2001   Issue # 1852
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*AFP : Myanmar releases Aung San Suu Kyi's relatives from jail 
*Far Eastern Economic Review: Burma - No News Is Bad News
*Amnesty International: Fear of torture/ill-treatment--Pastor Gracy [f], 
aged 27

MONEY _______
*The Nation: Fishing Rights--Burma Sets Strict Conditions 

*DVB: Burmese navy fires at Thai boats found fishing off coast
*Far Eastern Economic Review: MIGS Spell Trouble

*AP: Japan Min Asks Myanmar To Free More Political Prisoners
*The Japan Times: Tanaka tells Myanmar to free more prisoners held on 
political grounds 
*AFP: EU asks UN to push democratic reforms in Myanmar
*Bangkok Post: Burma, Vietnam against time zone change

*DVB : Interview with writer Daw San San Nwe of Tharawaddy 

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AFP : Myanmar releases Aung San Suu Kyi's relatives from jail 

YANGON, July 26 (AFP) - Myanmar's military junta Thursday released from  
prison a couple closely related to democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, 
for the  first time freeing political prisoners before their sentences 
were completed.  Nge Ma Ma, a first cousin of the Nobel peace laureate, 
and her husband  Myint Swe were released from Yangon's Insein prison 
Thursday morning, a  government spokesman said in a statement. 

"They are both in good health," he added. 

The pair was sentenced in 1997 to 10 years imprisonment for helping to  
smuggle a videotaped message from Aung San Suu Kyi out of the country. 
Seven  other people involved in the case were also jailed, but they 
remain in prison.  Dozens of political prisoners have been freed from 
jail over the past few  weeks, in what have been hailed as signs of 
progress from nine-month-old talks  between the opposition leader and 
the junta. 

However, all the others have been released at the end of their sentences 
or  on humanitarian grounds because of illness, and Nge Ma Ma and Myint 
Swe are  believed to be first to be freed before their sentences 

"We are always glad when our people get released from jail, especially 
now  that they do not have to stay for their full sentence," an 
opposition National  League Democracy (NLD) source told AFP. 

The source also said that another party member, Ko Tin Way, was released 
on  July 18. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2000, but is 
believed to  have been allowed home because of his poor health. 

Two of Aung San Suu Kyi's cousins have now been freed from jail, and 
only  one more is believed to be still in detention. 

The rash of releases over the past few weeks has gone some way to  
mollifying fears that the fledgling national reconciliation process had 
gone  off the rails in recent months. 

Temperatures were also raised last week when Aung San Suu Kyi failed to  
appear at an important national ceremony marking her father's 1997  

Diplomats speculated that the gesture may have been aimed at 
highlighting  the house arrest restrictions which were placed on her 10 
months ago, just  before the talks began. 

At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Hanoi 
this  week, Myanmar's Foreign Minister Win Aung insisted the dialogue 
remained on  track, and cited the releases as a sign of the health of 
the process.  

"If the talks are not smooth and if the confrontational approach went 
on,  there will not be any releases, of course," he told AFP. 

However, he refused to give a timeframe for multiparty elections or 
define  the type of government that might emerge from a breakthrough in 
the talks with  the Nobel laureate opposition leader. 

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also said at the meeting 
that  he detected signs of change from the military junta in Yangon 
which did not  exist 12 months ago. 

"This year I get a sense of movement. I don't want to overstate that but 
 there is a sign of some movement," he said. 

However, the European Union's external affairs commissioner Chris Patten 
 said in Hanoi that much more had to be done in Myanmar, and he urged 
the  government to include the nation's ethnic minorities in the 
The prisoner releases and recent visits to Myanmar by both the EU and 
the  International Labour Organization (ILO) had been "welcome progress 
but can't  be said to be great strides," he said. 

"We do want to see more done. ... We want to see dialogue involving all  
elements in the country." 


Far Eastern Economic Review: Burma - No News Is Bad News

Issue cover-dated August 02, 2001

The military junta's lack of transparency over talks with opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi could test international patience By Bertil 

IT'S SAID THAT NO NEWS is good news, but that adage could become cold 
comfort for Burma's ruling junta. While the generals, apparently acting 
under strong international pressure, resumed talks late last year with 
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, they have given no indication of 
how far the reconciliation process has really moved, if at all.  

When Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, 
failed to show up for Martyr's Day ceremonies in Rangoon on July 19 
marking the anniversary of the assassination in 1947 of her father, 
independence hero Aung San, speculation was rife that the talks had 

A Western diplomat, however, says the process continues and that she was 
absent from the ceremony by choice because "she wanted to show that her 
movements won't be dictated" by the military government, which is known 
as the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC. 

But while there may still be a process there appears to have been very 
little progress, and political analysts say the ball is now very much in 
the generals' court. "The key thing is whether at any stage there will 
be a public announcement about the talks," says the Western diplomat. 

There is no sign of that at the moment and time is running out for the 
generals. Says the Western diplomat: "If no real political progress can 
be noticed before October, or not even an announcement a year after the 
first talks were held, the international community will run out of 

That could include stronger United Nations resolutions condemning 
human-rights abuses and urging democratization, and perhaps even tougher 
economic sanctions. The United States Senate, for example, is due to 
decide soon on whether or not to ban garment imports from Burma on the 
grounds of alleged forced labour and child labour in the industry. 
Concrete signs of progress in the junta-Suu Kyi talks could have a 
bearing on that decision, say analysts. 

Western and Asian diplomats in Burma and Thailand reject recent regional 
press reports about an imminent breakthrough and the possibility of a 
national coalition government between the generals and the NLD as 
wishful thinking. And Aung Zaw, a prominent opposition Burmese 
journalist in exile in Thailand and editor of the Irrawaddy magazine, 
dismisses the talks with Suu Kyi as "an example of diplomatic skills and 
a PR offensive staged by the junta." By pretending that some "very 
delicate" talks are under way, the junta has been able to stave off 
international criticism, he says. 
If there are some kind of talks, what are the two sides focusing on and 
why the secrecy? Suu Kyi has been held almost incommunicado since 
September last year. But, she did meet Malaysia's Razali Ismail, the UN 
special envoy to Burma, in January and June. She also received a 
delegation from the European Union in January and held private talks in 
April with Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a Brazilian political scientist who 
had just been appointed UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma. 

None have disclosed much about their discussions with Suu Kyi and even 
less has been leaked about her talks with the military government. 
Foreign diplomats in Rangoon say that the SPDC most likely began talking 
to Suu Kyi because of pressure from the UN and member states of the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But they reckon there was no 
special agenda for the talks. 

The sources also say Suu Kyi has pressed hard for the release of NLD 
supporters who are serving long prison sentences. According to Aung Zaw, 
she presented a list of 200 political prisoners, mainly the sick and 
elderly. She has also asked the authorities to let the NLD reopen its 
offices around the country, most of which were shut down last year. 
She's had some limited success. About 150 prisoners--not necessarily 
those on her purported list--have been released since October. 

These include San San Nwe, a 56-year old journalist arrested in 1994 and 
sentenced to 10 years in jail for giving "false news" to foreign 
correspondents. She was freed on July 18. Others recently released were 
Suu Kyi's cousin and former aide, Aye Win, whose brother, Sein Win, 
leads an opposition government-in-exile, and popular comedians Pa Pa Lay 
and Lu Zaw. Known as The Moustache Brothers, the two were arrested in 
1996 for making fun of the government at public NLD gatherings. A small 
number of NLD offices have also been reopened in Rangoon and elsewhere. 

But, as the Western diplomat points out, "the names, not the numbers of 
people who have been released, are impressive." Amnesty International 
says there are still some 1,800 political prisoners languishing in 
prisons around Burma, while Suu Kyi herself remains under de facto house 

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi must be acutely aware that the first time she held 
talks with the generals, in 1994, the negotiations were stopped when she 
issued a statement reaffirming her commitment to democracy and 
dismissing rumours that she was about to make a deal with the 

That statement was smuggled out of the country, and the government 
accused her of breaking her promise not to disclose what was being 
discussed. Hence the secrecy this time, says a Rangoon resident: "If she 
said anything unilaterally, her meetings with junta representatives 
would stop, and there would be no more releases of political prisoners."


Amnesty International: Fear of torture/ill-treatment--Pastor Gracy [f], 
aged 27

     26 July 2001


Pastor Gracy, a 27-year-old political prisoner who is reportedly in poor 
health, has been transferred to a hard labour camp where conditions are 
particularly severe. Amnesty is concerned for her safety and wellbeing. 

On 18 July Pastor Gracy was transferred to Mawlaik-Kalay Akhin Htawng 
labour camp near Kalaymyo in Sagaing Division, where conditions are said 
to be extremely harsh. Pastor Gracy, who is a member of the Chin ethnic 
minority, had been sentenced to two years' hard labour on 6 July by a 
court in Haka, the capital of the Chin State. She was found guilty of 
having provided accommodation to the Chin National Front (CNF), a Chin 
armed opposition group fighting the central Myanmar government. Amnesty 
International is concerned that she did not receive a fair trial. 

Pastor Gracy was initially arrested on 13 February. She had been 
detained at Haka army camp, where there are believed to be no separate 
facilities for women. In May, she was reported to be in poor health. 

Pastor Gracy, who studied theology at the Chin Christian College in 
Haka, is the minister of Rinpi Baptist Church in central Chin State. 
Ninety per cent of the Chin people, who inhabit the Chin State and 
neighbouring Sagaing Division in the far west of Myanmar, are Christian. 
They are frequently persecuted by the mostly Buddhist, ethnic Burman 
authorities. Chin pastors have reportedly been arrested, crosses and 
churches destroyed, and Christian civilians subjected to forced labour. 

Pastor Gracy's elder brother Pu Hoi Mang was sentenced to two years' 
hard labour last year for supporting the CNF. He is also serving his 
sentence at Mawlaik-Kalay prison camp. He and pastor Gracy are the only 
known political prisoners to be held in hard labour camps. 


The Nation: Fishing Rights--Burma Sets Strict Conditions 

July 26, 2001.

Veena Janroung

Junta says Thai trawler operators must adhere to restrictions in 
exchange for reinstatement of lost concessions 

Burma has set tough conditions in return for granting fishing 
concessions to Thai trawlers that were revoked last year after the 
seizure by Burmese dissidents of its embassy here, Thai officials said 

Burmese junta leaders told Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh 
during his recent visit to Burma that they had awarded all the 
concessions to Singaporean firms, the officials said. 

However, Lt General Khin Nyunt indicated that Burma would discuss with 
Singapore about sharing half of the concessions with Thailand, said 
General Pat Akanibutr, an adviser to Chavalit. 

To make it easier for Burmese authorities to supervise Thai trawlers, 
Khin Nyunt wanted them to operate under a single company rather than as 
many companies, Pat said. 

During their meeting with Chavalit, the Burmese leaders complained about 
Thai concessionaires' tendency to ignore concession terms, such as by 
exceeding the number of trawlers allowed per company, said Monthon 
Kraiwatnusorn, another adviser to the defence minister. 

Another headache for Burmese authorities was that Thai concessionaires 
had the habit of selling their permit at a profit to other trawler 
operators, said Monthon, a former deputy agriculture minister. 

The Burmese leaders wanted Thai trawlers to adhere to strict 
requirements. They should use fishing nets with broader meshes for 
catching tuna, trawl in designated areas only, radio to Burmese 
authorities before their arrival to establish proper communications, and 
refrain from transferring their catches to other boats offshore, 
according to Monthon. 

Monthon said the public and private sectors would closely coordinate to 
ensure that the Burmese conditions were obeyed if concessions were 
awarded. Among the likely measures was for the Marine Police to check 
that trawlers leaving for fishing grounds off Burma met the 

He expected the Burmese government to allow between 500 and 600 Thai 
trawlers to operate in that country's territorial waters. 

Khin Nyunt is expected to discuss the possible resumption of fishing 
concessions during his visit to Thailand next month, Monthon said. 

The Burmese junta revoked all fishing concessions awarded to Thai 
companies in apparent reprisal for Thai authorities allowing Burmese 
dissidents, who took many hostages at the Burmese Embassy in October 
1999, to be released in the jungle along the common border.Sanan 
Kachornprasart, the interior minister at the time, described the raiders 
as "students fighting for democracy in their homeland". The label 
infuriated the junta, which preferred to call them "terrorists" 


DVB: Burmese navy fires at Thai boats found fishing off coast

Text of report by DVB on 25 July

DVB has learned that the SPDC navy boats have fired upon Thai fishing 
vessels caught  illegally fishing in Burmese territorial waters near 
Kawthaung in  Tenasserim Division. Two Burmese sailors working onboard 
the Thai vessel  were killed.

At about 1730 [local time] on 22 July the SPDC naval vessel 448 fired at 
 three Thai fishing trawlers illegally fishing in Burmese territorial 
waters  at the border of Thai and Burmese territorial limit in Kawthaung 
District  east of Boyar Island. The boats escaped by entering Thai 
territorial waters  but one of the boats owned by Pithamein Warehouse 
from Parkhong suburb in  Ranong was hit by M-60 machine gun fire. Two 
Burmese sailors working aboard  the Thai vessel were killed instantly 
while one Thai and another five  Burmese sailors were seriously wounded.

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 25 Jul 01 


Far Eastern Economic Review: MIGS Spell Trouble

Issue cover-dated August 2, 2001 

By Bertil Lintner

Just when Burma's military rulers had started to reap some of the 
rewards of engaging with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, they may 
have blown it. Japan announced in January--after the talks became public 
knowledge--a $28 million aid package to refurbish a hydroelectric power 
plant in northeast Burma. It was the first major new Japanese aid 
project since 1988, when most donors suspended aid in protest at the 
brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement, and bucked the trend 
of Western countries that maintain aid embargos on Burma because of the 
repressive policies of the regime. But news in July that Burma would buy 
10 MiG-29 fighter aircraft for $130 million from Russia "risks 
undermining its case for further foreign aid and loan write-offs," the 
United States-based on-line newsletter BurmaNet News wrote on July 13. 
Every year, Japan forgives about $150 million in interest payments on 
previous loans. Burma's total foreign debt amounts to $6 billion, of 
which half is owed to Japan. 
The acquisition of the MiG-29s marks the first time Burma has purchased 
a sophisticated interceptor and it is seen as an attempt to offset 
Thailand's air superiority. Relations between the neighbours are 
prickly. Earlier this year, Burmese troops clashed with Thai soldiers 
while attacking ethnic rebels along their mutual border. The Thais 
buzzed the Burmese forces with their U.S.-supplied F-16s to demonstrate 
their air superiority. 

The planned purchase will worry countries such as the U.S. that abhor 
the military regime in Rangoon and are anxious to see stability in 
volatile Southeast Asia. 
Washington approved the sale of eight AIM-30 advanced medium-range 
air-to-air missiles to Thailand once the deal with Russia became known. 
It had previously opted to keep such sophisticated weapons out of the 

The irony is that the Thais may have inadvertently helped pay for the 
MiGs. The downpayment, 30% of the total, came in the same week that the 
state-owned Petroleum Authority of Thailand paid Burma $100 million in 
royalties for gas due to be piped ashore from fields in the Gulf of 
Martaban. Before the Thais paid up under the terms of a 1995 contract, 
Burma had almost depleted its foreign exchange reserves. 

According to Robert Karniol, Asia editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, the 
Russians were unwilling to sell aircraft to Burma until revenue began to 
flow from the Martaban gasfield, which is one of the country's few 
sources of significant foreign exchange. But if the Burmese keep on 
spending their meagre hard-currency reserves on military hardware, even 
Japanese aid is in jeopardy, talks or no talks in Rangoon. 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AP: Japan Min Asks Myanmar To Free More Political Prisoners

Thursday July 26, 4:37 PM

HANOI (AP)--Japan's foreign minister said Thursday that she has asked 
Myanmar to free as many political prisoners as possible and take other 
steps to improve relations with Japan.  
Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka met in Hanoi with Myanmar's Foreign 
Minister Win Aung, during an annual conference sponsored by the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations.  

Speaking afterwards with reporters, she said Myanmar's contention that 
it faced "internal problems" wasn't an excuse not to make progress.  

"It's true Myanmar has internal problems, but all countries have their 
own problems," Tanaka said. "Myanmar should develop as quickly as 
possible into a country with which we can cooperate."  

Tanaka said she also discussed the situation of pro-democracy leader 
Aung San Suu Kyi.  

Myanmar's military has been holding talks with Suu Kyi since late last 
year, and recently has freed some political prisoners, but the human 
rights group Amnesty International says hundreds more remain behind 

Win Aung told reporters earlier this week that the talks with Suu Kyi 
are not stalled, as has been widely speculated.  

In April, Japan broke ranks with Western-led sanctions against Myanmar, 
providing it with a $28 million aid package for a dam project.


The Japan Times: Tanaka tells Myanmar to free more prisoners held on 
political grounds 

July 27, 2001



HANOI (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka urged Myanmar on Thursday 
to quickly release more political prisoners to promote democracy in the 
country, a Japanese official said. 

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Win Aung, she said that the release 
of more political prisoners by Yangon's ruling junta is key to 
democratizing Myanmar, the official said...

Win Aung said Myanmar has been edging toward democracy and national 
reconciliation and that he hopes the trend will continue, according to 
the official. 
But he also insisted that Myanmar could be thrown into confusion, such 
as that in Indonesia, if democracy movements are pushed too hastily. 

In the meantime, Tanaka reiterated Tokyo's readiness to resume aid to 
Myanmar to repair an aging hydroelectric power station in the country. 

Japan began studying the resumption of providing grants to Yangon 
following the start last October of dialogue between the junta and Suu 
Kyi after a seven-year hiatus. Tokyo stopped governmental grants to 
Myanmar in 1988 after the junta took power. 
The Cabinet is expected to approve a grant of about 3 billion yen to 3.5 
billion yen in official development assistance by the end of this year. 

AFP: EU asks UN to push democratic reforms in Myanmar

Thursday July 26, 9:55 PM

HANOI, July 26 (AFP) - The European Union urged the United Nations 
Thursday to continue prodding Myanmar to embrace democratic reforms 
following the release of dozens of political prisoners in the 
military-ruled Asian country. 
The dissidents' release, including a couple closely related to Nobel 
laureate democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, came after talks between the 
junta and Suu Kyi brokered by Malaysia's Razali Ismail, a special envoy 
of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. 

"We hope Ambassador Razali will be able to go back soon to Burma 
(Myanmar) and resume his mission of intermediation so that the recent 
progress can be strengthened," said Foreign Minister Louis Michel of 
Belgium, the current holder of the EU presidency. 

Michel was addressing counterparts from the Association of Southeast 
Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi during annual talks. 

Myanmar is a member of ASEAN, which also comprises Brunei, Cambodia, 
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and 

Myanmar Foreign Minister Win Aung did not attend the EU dialogue, 
sending instead a senior government official who rebutted point by point 
Michel's statement, according to an official who was present at the 

The Myanmar official, who was not identified, said Razali was welcome to 
visit Yangon any time. 

Myanmar's junta for the first time freed two political prisoners before 
their sentences were completed. 

Nge Ma Ma, a first cousin of Aung San Suu Kyi, and her husband Myint Swe 
are closely related to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been held 
under de facto house arrest since September just before she embarked on 
the landmark talks with the junta. 

Dozens of political prisoners have been freed in recent weeks in what 
have been hailed as a sign of progress from the nine-month-old talks 
between the opposition leader and the junta. 

Michel said the EU hoped that the release would "put this important 
country on the way back to democracy, national reconciliation and the 
rule of law". 

"It is essential that the current discussions between the authorities 
and the opposition continue and develop into a real process of 
rebuilding the nation in harmony," he said. 
On Wednesday, Michel told AFP that Myanmar should do much more than 
release political prisoners to show it was serious about restoring 

But Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said changes in Myanmar 
would occur gradually through dialogue. 

The EU has imposed sanctions against Myanmar for human rights 
violations, but ASEAN has adopted a policy of "constructive engagement" 
with the ruling generals. 
"It is more productive. You cannot isolate countries. If you isolate 
countries you will not allow them to change," the Malaysian minister 
told reporters. 

"We think that people should bring Myanmar into the mainstream by 
bringing economic development, by assisting them to grow and by 
interacting with them. They will become more comfortable and they will 
be able to change accordingly. 
"But if we force upon them, they have been closed for a long, long time 
and they have survived," Syed Hamid said. 

The country also "would like to be democratic, to be free, but they also 
have to tackle their ethnic differences, their economic development 
programmes", he said. 
Myanmar would have a family to rely on in ASEAN.

"We believe that Myanmar ultimately will be like any one of the 
democratic ASEAN countries," the minister said. 


Bangkok Post: Burma, Vietnam against time zone change

 July 25, 2001.

Burma and Vietnam were cool to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's idea 
of advancing Thailand's time by one hour, Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh 

The defence minister said in Rangoon yesterday that Mr Thaksin had asked 
him to sound out reactions from neighbouring countries on the proposed 
time-zone change. 
When he raised the idea with Burmese Prime Minister Gen Than Shwe, he 
got a reply that the current Thai time was just fine, Gen Chavalit said. 

Vietnamese Defence Minister Pham Van Tra reacted the same way when they 
met in Hanoi last week, he said.  

Gen Chavalit said he had conveyed Mr Thaksin's invitation for Burmese 
military leaders to visit Thailand. Gen Than Shwe responded that he 
would have to clear any trips first. 


DVB : Interview with writer Daw San San Nwe of Tharawaddy 

DVB is pleased to present interviews with a prominent writer Daw San San 
Nwe of Tharawaddy, who was released on 18th July, and was a co-recipient 
along with editor U Win Tin of the Golden Pen of Freedom award. 
Welcome to DVB home page at http://www.dvb.no/.


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