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Issue No. 76, 2004
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KAO WAO NEWS NO. 76

An electronic newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma

October 9-24, 2004

READERS’ FRONT

spdc: CEASE-FIRE WILL BE MAINTAINED

FORCED LABOUR AND ABUSES IN YE RURAL AREA

BURMA ARMY’S TRAVEL BAN

BUY CALENDAR OR SUPPORT THATCH FOR THE ARMY

USDA MEMBERSHIP ON THE INCREASE

MON TEACHER WARNED BY MILLITARY INTELLIGENCE

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION IN HONOR FOR DR. SU-ED

MYANMAR ’S NEW PM LINKED TO SUU KYI ATTACK

FBC URGES LEADER FOR ENDING 14 YEARS OF DEADLOCK


READERS' FRONT

Dear Readers,

We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kao-Wao newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kao-Wao News will continue to grow to serve better the needs of those seeking social justice in Burma . And we hope that it will become an important forum for discussion and debate and help readers to keep abreast of issues and news. Above all, we hope the newsletter will be used as a vehicle for those who want to share their views and experiences.  We reserve the right to edit and reject articles without prior notification. You can use a pseudonym but we encourage you to include your full name and address.

Regards, Editor

kaowao@hotmail.com, kaowao@telus.net

www.kaowao.org  

____________________________

On the MNC’s Statement on Killing of Mon People by KNU Army

Dear friends,

 It is extremely sad to read this kind of statement. With all respect, a question came to my mind that why they didn’t manage to solve the problem in such a critical time even though the leaders of Mon and  Karen were ready to sit down and talk to arch enemy SPDC.

Sincerely,

Aung Tin, Toronto

(Via internet)

_____________________________________________

Regarding the incident happened to Hongsawatoi Restoration Army (HRA) Camp on October 18th of 2004, I believe that the following steps need to be followed: 

1. Conduct Investigation Committee with NDF

2. Need to investigate what cause such kinds of attack

3. Who were involved and why that happened?

4. How to prevent such kind of incidents not to happen in the future

As far as I can understand, KNU never adopted such policy of killing innocent people or treating its alliances in such violence act since it still taking leading role in NDF.  It will take reasonable amount of time to discover the misunderstanding and problems between both armed units in local area.

I believe that KNU will try its best to prevent such kind of violence not to happen again in the future.  It will take time to investigate since there was three parties (HRA, KNU and ABMU) got involved in the incident. All parties need to be patient one another since most of problems were caused by the interests of local level military units.  Such kind of statement issued by MNC or over reacting will not resolve the real problems, but create more conflicts and tension among the ethnic groups.  Be aware of that this is a kind of conflict that the SPDC like to see between MON and KAREN people or among all Democratic opposition groups.

With regards,

Mahn Kyaw Swe

(Via internet)


spdc: CEASE-FIRE WILL BE MAINTAINED   

(Taramon/ Sangkhlaburi: October 22, 2004)

The source from NMSP reported ceasefire will be maintained and National Convention will go ahead despite power struggle within the military regime.

According to Nai Aye Mon, Liaison Officer of New Mon State Party, Mon leaders led by General Htow Mon and Colonel Layeh Gakao met with the Southeast Military Command Commander Thura Myint Aung in Moulmein and the SPDC assured that the ceasefire agreement will be maintained and the National Convention will resume.

Another source from Thailand-Burma border based Mon youth organization said today that the Military Intelligence faces crackdown by local SPDC in Mon State and Three Pagodas Pass border area.

“Guns and some documents from the MI’s offices in Thanbyu Zayat Township were taken away, but no one has been arrested,” says Chairman of Mon Youth Progressive Organization, Nai Banyar Mon.

“The MI office was raided over the last two days by Military Training Center , Burma Army’s local base troops,” he added. “The MI office in Pha An township (Karen state) was raided yesterday.”

The ruling SPDC government announced Tuesday that Burma ’s Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt had resigned for health reasons.


Burma Army uses various forms of abuses in southern Burma

FORCED LABOUR AND ABUSES IN YE RURAL AREA

(Kao Wao: October 17, 2004)

Local witness reported Burma Army asked every household to bring materials to build police station in Kwan Tamoi Taotak village in southern Ye, Mon State .

The source reported, to build two militia police stations in Yong Reah and Kwan Tamoi Taotak villages, the LIB No. 568 led by Captain Ngwe Soe ordered every household to collect logs and bamboo in the forest since August on a daily basis.

The village is divided into four tracks and one track must build the station every day. A youth leader Chan Norn (not his real name) said, even the cosmetic make-up for the Captain’s wife was bought from with money taken by local villagers.  Nai Kyin from Yong Reah was forced to pay for make-up worth 5,000 Kyat for his wife and supply a dry battery worth of 5,000 so that he could have his car licensed.

Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA opened a football match in Kaloin Ong area of Ye Byu Township last month and collected 100,000 Kyat each from every village. The village headmen collected between 150 to 5,000 Kyat from their households in the villages. Some village did not join in the match because it was too costly. They said it would cost about 300,000 including extra expense for the BA and USDA members.

Torture and extortion

Nay Ri, age 27 from Chak Toa village, Mudone township, Mon state was beaten by a Burmese Army soldier while on his way back to his village from fishing outside at about 8 p.m. He was accused of grabbing the soldier’s gun and asked for 20,000 Kyat to drop the charges by the BA.  His parents immediately paid to Htun Aung, the drunken soldier to avoid further threats and charges by the BA.

Ms Mi Kye Kye Mon, age 2 from Kwan Hlar village, Mudone Township , Mon state died in the hospital after she accidentally fell into the canal near her house, her parents had to bribe the local police to stop accusing them of not looking after the child and who asked for 20,000 Kyat to drop the charges against them.

Last month every household in Mon State was ordered to pay 3,500 Kyat each to conduct a new census in Mon state.


BURMA ARMY’S TRAVEL BAN

Ye -- In northern Yebyu Township of Tenasserim Division, local people have been barred to go their farms and gardens.

The curfew of Burma Army came out after the Mon armed group Hongsawatoi Restoration Party seized six arms with 400 bullets from the SPDC militia force in Kyauk Ka Din village.  The purpose claimed by the Burma army was the people would support the guerrilla if they go to the farms.

In eastern and southern Ye township, the SPDC has been barring the town people and the local villagers not to travel to their farms and gardens for fear of security since last month.

According to the source close to New Mon State Party (NMSP), HRP soldiers actively patrol around the area. The SPDC also suspects that the NMSP cooperates with the HRP, after two HRP members surrendered to the NMSP last month.

In Kyar-in Seik-kyi Township of Karen State , the rural Karen people were not allowed to go their farm and gardens last month due to a fighting between the KNU and the SPDC. The passengers who travel by boats along the Zami River have been forced to buy drinking water worth 900 Kyat, which was more than threes time the normal price.


BUY CALENDAR OR SUPPORT THATCH FOR THE ARMY

(Kao Wao: October 14, 2004)

Civilians in the Mon State ’s capital Moulmein are forced to buy tickets and calendars from the authorities of State Peace and Development Council.

Nai Lun, a businessman from the capital said his household was forced to buy various tickets and calendars issued by the government organizations.  “Civil servants go door to door making everyone buy their calendars.  If we don’t buy them, they assume we do not support them and are for the other side (opposition),” he said.

In Kyar-in Seik-kyi Township , LIB No. 386 forced local Mon and Karen people to bring thatch, bamboo, and small trees for fencing and roofing. Some villages unable to find the needed supplies for the Army are fined for the cost of bamboo and thatch. A village headman says they were called to the military camp to avoid the 1/99 act, which bars unpaid labour.  The troops ordered the village headmen to act as volunteers since the BA is pressured from ILO and international radio stations. In northern Tenasserim, Yebyu Township , some local people were arrested and tortured for providing shelter to the Mon guerrilla group and even the cease-fire group the NMSP.  They were also forced to pay taxes.

The source close to the NMSP in southern Mon state reported local people are forced to pay taxes, forced to work for motor road repairing, forced to collect logs to build police station and farmers are prohibited to go to their farms and gardens.


News Report

USDA MEMBERSHIP ON THE INCREASE

(Taramon and Cham Toik: October 16, 2004)

Members of Union Solidarity and Development Association or USDA have increased in Mon State , southern Burma but critics say those who join the government-organized association are mostly opportunists.

According to a Mon community leader in Moulmein , many youths from the main opposition political party National League for Democracy (NLD) have joined the USDA in Mon State in recent months.  He asserted these youths want to seek business opportunities, to avoid paying several taxes imposed by the military junta and to travel freely around the country.

Independent Mon News Agency, on October 15, 2004, reported that the Secretary of Mon State Peace and Development Council, Lt Col. Soe Myint Aung ordered Chaungzon (Bilu Kyoon) Township’s USDA to develop into a battalion.  At the meeting on October 3, 2004, he demanded to recruit over 140,000 members in Chaungzon Township

According to a speech from the USDA township leader in Kyaikmayaw, Mon state, the USDA plans to become a nationwide political organization, forming the backbone of the SPDC in the coming election. 

Members are given special status by the military junta and have gained popularity as a reliable organization in the country. They can travel freely throughout the country with their membership cards, at times however they are stopped by the authorities even after showing their cards.

Under the USDA banner, the former NLD members have now more of a chance to get involved in political activities having already launched health care programs by helping local people. So far they are not pressured or threatened as NLD members like they have been in the past.

“Not only former NLD members, but many Mon youths are joining the USDA seeking opportunity and diving into union affairs.  We even encourage them to join in so they can get to know and learn about action plans and to gain experience from the USDA,” a Mon community leader happily said while talking to Kao Wao’s reporter.  Hundreds of youth who keep low profile were normally accepted as USDA members so as to fill the government quota organization without properly checking their background.

A Mon businessman trading along the Thai-Burma reported that some Muslims in Mon state relied on the USDA membership cards to get around the country and for other purposes because they do not have Burmese citizenship identity cards.  “I saw a Muslim woman being stopped by the army on her way from Mon state to Myawaddy at a checkpoint, after she showed her USDA card she was not allowed to pass,” he witnessed.

In many cases, USDA members interfere in the community and disturb the general public even though they were human right’s victims in the past and were forced to hand over various taxes imposed by the military junta.

Recently, the USDA members from Ye came down to Duya village, cooperated with Nai Than Maung of the local Peace and Development Council, and threatened community leaders for not informing them about a congratulation’s event that encouraged Mon youths for further study.

“They insulted and threatened Nai Tin Shein and Nai Yu because these people organized the congratulation’s party without informing the USDA and giving bribes to the headmen for this event.  Our villagers get upset, because the congratulation’s party is only for educational purposes, it doesn’t involve politics,” Nai Jeh from Duya said.

A USDA leader from Moulmein who spoke under anonymity said over ten Mon nationals who are members of the USDA and Labour Union from Mon and Karen states were selected to attend the National Convention near Rangoon, but most of them did not like the government sponsored NC.

The USDA aggressively gets involved in various activities and often interrupts the authorities including within the justice and legal affairs.  Since many members try hiding behind the banner of USDA, civil servants are disappointed and criticize its role in the community. 

“Some civil servants complain that the USDA is challenging their power,” a Mon politician who has a good relationship with senior officers of Mon State Administration said.  They predict the USDA will one day collapse because it is not based on any commitments and is made up of only opportunists, plus it doesn’t have a clear goal or mandate of any kind on what objectives are.

Even though the USDA is not well respected by the public, people normally ignore them to avoid hassles and danger.  Only civil society such as Mon youth organizations and Buddhist monks sometimes speak out about their wrongdoings.  Many activists and patriotic youths are quite familiar with the tactics of the SPDC so avoid becoming to friendly with USDA members and often walk away from them.

“My friend told his relative, the secretary of USDA in the village, not to come over and visit his house,” Nai Lavi from a Mon village in Pha-an Township of Karen state said.  Many are unhappy with USDA members especially those who converted over from other political organizations. 

“As well, the Mon people living in the rural areas also join the USDA because of poverty and, because there are no other choices for survival; if they could they would go to other countries to work and many youths who can not leave finally end up joining the USDA.  They are normally seen as genuine opportunists and civilians believe it will one day collapse under all its weight when the huge democracy storm finally hits,” a Mon politician from Ye said.


Assimilation Policy

MON TEACHERS WARNED BY MILLITARY INTELLIGENCE

(By Taramon/ Sangkhlaburi: October 9, 2004)

Military Intelligence threatened Mon national school teachers in Lamine not to teach Mon language after the village was promoted as a town.

The MI in Ye Township warned the Mon teachers that the Mon language should not be taught in town and that the national school should not be built in town, said a woman leader from Lamine, Ye.

“The MI in the town regularly comes to the school every two or three days and tells the teachers to stop teaching Mon,” she said. The teachers, most of them women, are afraid of the MI who threatens them.  They also threaten villagers who provide accommodation for the teachers and not to allow the teachers to stay in their houses.  However, Buddhist monks in the town encourage the teachers to continue their works.

The villagers built the school since NMSP and SPDC reached a ceasefire agreement in 1995. The agreement allowed the Mons to build a Mon National School if the Mon cease-fire party and the local people wanted to teach their language.  Mon national schools have increased in Mon area after the NMSP and the SPDC reached a cease-fire.  However, most of the schools were closed later and the Buddhist monks criticize the NMSP for it weakness to protect the long tradition of national education.

Mon workers in Singapore , Malaysia and Thailand financially support building the school following the request from revered Mon monks. 


Dr. Su-Ed at Bangkadee (Kun Yekha, October 17, 2004)

“I’m really happy to see Mons from Monland and Thailand working together and showing solidarity, unity, and cooperation,” remarked Dr. Su-ed in his welcoming speech on October 16th.

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION IN HONOR FOR DR. SU-ED AT BANGKADEE

The Mons from two countries held an honoring ceremony for Dr. Su-ed on his 80th birthday at the Headquarters of the Thai-Ramarn Association, Bangkadee Mon village of Bangkhunthian .

Dr. Su-ed Gajaseni, the professor of Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital and Mahidol University , is a well-known figure among Mon communities in Burma and Thailand , referred to as “Mor Su-ed”, designated as the sixth generation of the great Commander Banyae Join ancestors.

Both the Mons from Burma and Thailand gathered together to celebrate Dr. Su-ed’s 80th birthday. “I’m really happy to see Mons from Monland and Thailand working together and showing solidarity, unity, and cooperation,” remarked Dr. Su-ed in his welcoming speech on the first of a two-day celebration on October 16th.

Mon and Thai Mon communities in the thousands gathered inside the 17 Rai (about 10 acres) association campus. The area was bustling with activity as people queued up and down along the perimeter of the campus flanked by Thai security police patrolling the area. Long lines of taxis, motorbikes and mostly old and new Toyota vehicles inched along while those on foot entered the main gate with two statues of the Golden Sheldrake, the Mon guardian bird set atop each column, looking over the procession, reminiscent of past celebrations when teams of bullock carts was the customary mode of transportation during the biggest traditional gatherings like the “Takok Khamaing Buddhist Festivals” held annually after Songkran in Monland.

Today though the Mon have modernized, their communication amplified within a modern world of technology and rituals, people talking on their cell phones trying to locate their missing friends, others with digital and video cameras circulating among the various activities. The area was vibrant with color, mostly dominated with red and white, like the portable canvas tents of Coca Cola set up to provide shade for cooking, washing and a meeting area, including group photos—the soft drink white lettering of the Coca Cola logo with a red background, matched or color coordinated it seems with the Mon traditional red sarong and white shirts worn by the men. The grounds in turn were decorated with carnival, tube light structures set high above the audience, which were shaped like the Buddha nimbus, blinking blue, orange, and white in intervals, several surrounding the grounds. A stage for dancing and speech making was decorated with portraits of Dr. Su-ed and flanked by two Golden Sheldrakes, beside a red gravel road that led from the main gate to the hall.

Three hundred and fifty tables were arranged with blue and red chairs in two groups, with ten persons per table. “Before, we arranged only three hundred tables, and three hundred tickets, but they were gone after a three day announcement,” said Nai Saha, the convening committee who worked hard bringing everything together for the occasion. Many people without tickets were happy to stand during the festivities in the hall beside the stage. Advanced table tickets were not enough since many Mons were anxious to join in the festivities of the great ancestor of Banyae Join, Dr. Su-ed.

To mark the beginning, two Thai-Mon ladies announced the agenda in the honoring the event in Thai and Mon. About (50) performers opened the ceremony with “Krak Jalon” song, followed by the opening ceremony in which Dr. Su-ed was carefully brought onto the stage in a wheelchair and who cheerfully welcomed the people. He commented on everyone’s enthusiasm in honoring him and was moved in seeing such a show of strength and unity among the Mons from both Thailand and Monland. He urged the younger generation to work hard in improving Mon literature and culture. Even though he grew up in Thailand he spoke Mon fluently and vividly, his conversation made all the more livelier with plenty of old Mon vocabulary and grammar thrown in.

Mons from both countries gave dramatic and colorful performances with traditional dances followed by a popular vocalist show. The children danced in unison with “Rehmonya”, the most popular classic song, farmers danced (Leh Samar Bangae) and two Mon merchants (Ta Pao & Ta Bo) were appreciably applauded by people. Saik Zarn, the Thai-Mon vocalist, entertained the people supported by a group of line-dancers. Every segment of the community was recognized, after the entertainment the convening committee announced their home villages and those from the working factories supported awards to the popular players of football, volleyball and basketball.

More than half the audience, mostly made up of teens and migrant workers, stood up and shouted praise when popular vocalist Hong Chan took to the stage. Not far away from their motherland, they enjoy such entertainment venues, taking a break from their long days at work to spend some free time in Thailand . “It’s a great opportunity to see Hong Chan singing live and honoring Dr. Su-ed,” said a Kawt Saik villager from Mahachai. Many migrant workers here are legal, registered with work permits,” he added.

When Hong Chan sang “Chan Mon Chan Nai”, his most popular song, the people lined in front of the stage to sing along him. Ong Marn, the announcer for the show, frequently had to request the people not to shove each other or get too excited, which may cause problems and shut down the show. The people calmed down when Ong Marn announced no jumping on the chairs and tables.

Ramarn, another popular singer kept the beat going, singing romantic songs full of harmony, he also entertained people with pleasing melody song. Nai Sunthorn, secretary of Mon Unity League commented that, “it’s the biggest ceremony of Thai-Mon I have ever seen.”

Even though the entertainment was to close down after midnight, the audience shouted encore asking the singers for more songs, convening committee members requested them to end their show for the sake of security. “We’ll see you all again somewhere else,” said Hong Chan to his beloved fans.

Mon Youth Community in Bangkok (Thai-Mon) and The Light of Mon Youth Organization ( Mons from Monland, based in Mahachai) worked together for both honoring the birthday ceremony of Dr. Su-ed. This occasion was the second time the two organizations worked together, MYC and LMYO. “We want more cooperation among the Mons in Thailand and Monland for the sake of maintaining Mon literature, culture and some social matters of migrant workers,” said by Nai Sahamon Rajanon, the chairman of LMYO. For this special occasion, both sides eagerly spent a couple months working hard to prepare for the ceremony while working full time at their factory jobs. Thai-Mons were joined together wearing the Mon dresses of red and white colors with scholars remarking that the Mon community is getting stronger, more Mons in Thailand are proud to be Mon,” said Nai Oong Bangjung, the secretary general of Mon Youth Community in Bangkok.

On the second day, October 17, the ceremony was held in the community hall accompanied with religious donations. Long lines of people were waiting their turn to donate honey and sticky rice. There were about (15) food booths with many kinds of traditional Mon foods. As well, others donated desks, a small temporary clinic for administrating first aid, a Mon table for selling dresses and a publications’ distribution desk, as well as a place for selling honey, which was abuzz with people wanting to buy it. A book on the historical background of the Thai-Ramarn Association and a brief biography of Dr. Su-ed was also distributed. The book outlined a brief history of the Mon Association and the ancestral line of Dr. Su-ed, which was translated into the Mon language by Nai Sunthorn.

The Mons from Ratchburi, Phetburi, Ayudhaya, Lopburi, Bang Poon, Putram, Pathumthani, Monland, Bangkradee, Weanka and Phra Padeang all provided a helping hand serving people traditional foods. “I miss my native village when I served others in this kind of ceremony,” said a “Kaw Zoa” villager. Some were busy with serving cold drinks, including Pepsi and Coke while others were content washing and preparing dishes for the large crowd.

The place in which Dr. Su-ed sat to accept visitors paying their respect was decorated with a variety of flowers and two big golden Sheldrakes, Dr. Su-ed himself wearing a garland of yellow flowers around his neck. In the community hall, others donated lunch alms donation for about 140 monks with an abundance of food. Beside the hall, Mon traditional music was played, the musicians were from Ayudhaya, labeling their residents “Kwan Prasat”.

When Dr. Su-ed accepted the pouring of water for traditional protection, the people eagerly queued up in a long line. Others paid their respects pouring water on Dr. Su-ed, while others were happily talking to his younger brother Supher Gajaseni, the former supreme commander of Thailand .

Dr. Su-ed was born on October 17 of Buddhist year 2467, is from a family of six siblings. After studying at Siriraj, he accepted the position of house and senior house officer at Siriraj Medical Department. Later he was chosen as a state scholar and sought out further education at Graduate School of Medicine and Episcopal Hospital of Pennsylvania, USA. He received a Diploma of Advance Hindi at Baranasi University in India and got his Doctorate of Medicine at Mahidol University , Bangkok . Currently, he is the Chairman of Thai-Ramarn Association.  


MYANMAR ’S NEW PM LINKED TO SUU KYI ATTACK

(Darren Schuettler, Reuters News: October 21, 2004)

Bangkok : Myanmar 's new prime minister, Soe Win, is a trusted deputy of junta strongman Than Shwe and has been blamed for an attack on pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy last year.

Lieutenant General Soe Win, who shot to notoriety in 1988 when he helped crush a democracy uprising, replaced Khin Nyunt who was sacked as premier this week, dashing faint hopes for reform in the military-ruled country.

The United States said Soe Win is believed to have been directly involved in the May 2003 attack by pro-government youths on Suu Kyi and her supporters near Mandalay , leading to her detention.

"We see no indication that the leadership change will have any tangible impact on relations between the junta and the democratic opposition," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington on Wednesday.

"We note that the new prime minister was reportedly directly involved in the decision to carry out the brutal attack on Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy on May 30th, 2003."

The U.S. blamed "government-affiliated thugs" for the attack in which exiled dissidents say dozens were killed by youths wielding bamboo and iron rods. The junta says four people died.

Rights activists say the attack was orchestrated by the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a political arm of the junta in which Soe Win is a senior figure. He was also regional commander of the area where the incident occurred.

"The only slight chance Myanmar could transform into a democratic country has ended after the man who commanded the paramilitary troops that wanted to kill Suu Kyi has become the prime minister," said Sunai Phasuk, a Thai consultant for the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"A FRIENDLY GUY"

Southeast Asian leaders, who have seen little gain from their policy of constructive engagement with Yangon , urged the junta to implement its democracy "roadmap" despite the purge of Khin Nyunt who unveiled it last year.

Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said he was confident Soe Win would carry on with the roadmap, a seven-step plan to civilian rule denounced as a sham by some Western critics because it has so far excluded Suu Kyi.

"He's quite a nice guy, friendly. We have known each other for quite some time. He is not a typical stern army type of guy. He is not authoritarian. He has an international view," Surakiart told Thai radio on Thursday.

But Soe Win has shown little inclination to negotiate with Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won elections in 1990 but was barred by the military from taking power.

In a profile of Soe Win, the Thailand-based Irrawaddy magazine quoted him as once telling a USDA meeting that the junta "not only will not talk to the NLD, but also would never hand over power to the NLD".

Born in 1949, Soe Win entered the Defence Services Academy in 1965 and quickly rose through the ranks.

When resentment against military rule boiled over into pro-democracy protests in 1988, he commanded an infantry division that helped crush the uprising in the capital Yangon, according to Irrawaddy . Thousands of people were killed in the nationwide military crackdown.

Soe Win joined the ruling military council in 1997.

When Khin Nyunt was appointed prime minister by Than Shwe in August 2003 - a demotion according to some analysts - Soe Win replaced him in the powerful position of Secretary One.

Soe Win shadowed Khin Nyunt on several key committees and sometimes accompanied the premier on foreign visits. His last trip was at the head of a military delegation to China in July.

Some saw it as the beginning of Than Shwe's bid to consolidate his power in the government and armed forces which resulted in this week's purge of his rival, Khin Nyunt.

"Soe Win is a Than Shwe loyalist," said retired World Bank economist and Myanmar watcher Bradley Babson. "There has been a pattern of Than Shwe loyalists put in key positions. He wants the whole pie."


Free Burma Coalition Urges Nation's Leaders to Seek Common Ground in Ending 14 Years of Deadlock

FBC URGES LEADER FOR ENDING 14 YEARS OF DEADLOCK

BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 15 (AScribe Newswire) -- In a 100-page report released today leaders of the Free Burma Coalition (FBC), which successfully led pro-sanctions campaigns from 1995-2003, warn their fellow Burmese that their country is fast becoming "the Cuba of the East." The new FBC report concludes that U.S. policy, crafted at the urging of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy icon, and designed to punish Burma 's military leaders, is actually punishing Burmese citizens.

The report's principal authors, Dr. Zarni and May Oo, are leading dissidents with 16 years of involvement in the Free Burma movement. The FBC Executive Working Group has endorsed unanimously the report as reflecting the official view of the coalition.

The FBC report entitled "Common Problems, Shared Responsibilities: Citizens' Quest for National Reconciliation in Burma/Myanmar" is based on the thousands of conversations which the authors have had with Burmese citizens both within and outside of Burma's armed conflict zones, as well as with politicians, diplomats and policy analysts in Asia, Europe and North America. It also draws on the insight from the authors' direct communications and meetings with representatives of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the ruling military junta, over the past 2 years.

The report takes a comprehensive look at the political developments in Burma , from Burmese citizens' perspective. As such, it is the first of its kind. It contains self-reflective understanding of the country's political cultures, the nature of the continuing political deadlock, the key players and influential supporters in Burmese politics, and the role of Burmese exiles, the "masses" within Burma and the role of the international community.

It argues that the 14 years of political deadlock between the election-legitimized National League for Democracy (NLD) and the SPDC, is causing a profoundly negative impact on the society and is arresting prospects for democratization and economic development.

"Daily realities of the ordinary Burmese people continue to be ignored while the key players in the country's politics keep repeating their policy prescriptions. In writing this report, we hope to move the Burma conversation out of this the simplistic 'good/evil' or 'black/white' quagmire," remarks Dr. Zarni.

While acknowledging the imbalance of power between the military leaders and the civilian democratic forces as a major impediment to democratic change, it argues that the deeply felt sense of siege mentality on all sides poses a greater obstacle toward reconciliation and rebuilding of the country.

The report is critical of the U.S. and the European Union for their well-meaning, but misguided policies toward Burma . On one hand, their pro-isolation, pro-sanctions policies give Aung San Suu Kyi a false and unrealistic hope that the West is coming to aid her non-violent struggle to liberate Burma . On the other hand, the West's policies make the generals in Rangoon feel politicians and bureaucrats in Washington , London or Brussels are not really interested in democratic change as a long and difficult process, but only in setting up a puppet liberal government with the NLD leader as its figurehead.

The report is also scathing when it comes to the subject of vocal Burmese exiles who "clamor for 'democracy back home' while closing their mind to that fundamental principle of democracy: diversity of ideas and approaches." It observes that a small but vocal group of exiles is putting more fuel into Burma 's conflict with their relentless propaganda campaigns through foreign-based radio stations such as the Radio Free Asia in Washington and the NLD's Democratic Voice of Burma in Norway .

The report calls for all parties in the current deadlock to try moving away from looking at Burma 's problems from a conflict-centered perspective to a more problem-centered perspective. It offers a new language or framework of "national interest," which takes into account concerns and needs of all key players -- the ruling military junta, the NLD, and ethnic minorities.


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Issue No.69
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Issue No.68
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Issue No.67
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Issue No.66
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Issue No.65
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Issue No.64
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Issue No.63
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Issue No.62
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Issue No.61
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Issue No.60
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Issue No.59
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Issue No.58
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Issue No.57
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Issue No.56
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Issue No.55
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Issue No.54
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Issue No.53
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Issue No.52
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Issue No.51
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Others
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History of South East ASIA

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