CHRO

VOLUME IV.NO.VI. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2001

VOLUME IV.NO.VI. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2001

 

Contents:

 

SPDC uses Forced Labor in Army Owned Farm

 

SPDC Troops Forced Chin Villagers To Serve as Porters

 

Forced Portering In Thantlang Twongship

 

SPDC Soldier Robbed Villagers

 

SPDC Lt. Colonel Demanded Solar Plate From Chin Villagers

 

Civilians Forced to Repair Army Camp

 

SPDC Soldiers Looted From Civilians

 

Can’t Afford Identity Card

 

Burmese Army Force Chin Civilians to Sell Liquor

 

” You Must Play Soccer” Said SPDC Captain

 

ICRC Suggests Some Prisoners Not Relevant to Hard Labour

 

LETTER & PRESS RELEASE:

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Letter to The Burmese Regime

 

Burma’s Democracy Leader Still Under House Arrest, Ten Years After Winning Noble Peace Price

 

FACTS & ARGUMENTS:

 

Canadian Ties to Burma’s Dictatorship

 

HUMAN RIGHTS:

 

SPDC uses Forced Labor in Army Owned Farm

 

The Burmese army has been forcing the civilian to work in the army-owned farms in Kankaw township of Western Burma, according to the testimony of U Kyaw Win (Name changed for security reason). A 48 year-old village headman from XXX village, U Kyaw Win testified to the CHRO field reporter that amidst claims by Burmese junta of having eradicated forced labor in Burma, the practice continues.

 

According to him, the Burmese army has a large plot of farm in the vicinity of Taung-khin-yin Village of Kankaw Township, Magwe division, Western Burma. The farm is operated under the supervision of army North Western Command since 1996.

 

From the beginning, villagers were forced to clear 15,000 acres of virgin land. Since then, forced labor never ceases in our area. From 1997 to 2001 the farm was operated under the command of Major Kyaw Soe of Light Infantry Battallion LIB 269 based in Tidim.

 

From March 2001, Major Kyaw Soe was replaced by Major Zaw Oo from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 226, based in Haka. Civilians from around the area have to work at the army farm from the time of sowing to harvesting time. Sometimes the soldiers are unsatisfied with the human labor, and forced laborers are made to bring along their bulls and buffaloes to work at the farm

 

This harvesting season (2001), civilians from Taung-khin-yin village, Tha-lin village, Shwebo village, Thin-taw village, Hnan-kha village, Min-tha village, Kung-ywa village, A-lay village and Ywa-ma villagers are among those forced to work at the army farm from June to Septermber¡̈

 

U Kyaw Win added that; besides the farm works, villagers have to do manual works for the army such as building the army barracks, cutting woods for the army, carrying waters and making furniture for the army officers.

 

( CHRO: interview U Kyaw Win on October 1, 2001 )

 

SPDC Troops Forced Chin Villagers To Serve as Porters

 

The Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 from Lentlang army camp, Tidim township of Chin state, forced 15 civilians from Lentlang village to serve as porter on September 8, 2001.

 

The porters were herded by Sergeant Tin Myint of LIB 268, and his troops from Lentlang village to Tio village of Falam township, Chin State. When they arrived to Tio village, the porters were forced to carry ration for the army. Overburdened, the porters could not carry the loads.

 

Thus, Sergeant Tin Myint demanded two more porters from Tio village. While the porters were packing the load, one soldier took a stick and started to beat the porters saying that they are too slow in packing the load. He stopped beating them only after an elder from Tio village begged the soldier to stop.

 

The next day, on September 9, 2001, Sergeant Tin Myint and his troops took another 15 porters from Tio village and forced them to carry army ammunition from Tio village to Lentlang army camp.

 

Ms. Nini (an eye witness of the incident), 29 years old villager from Tio village reported the incident to CHRO field worker on September 15 2001.

 

(CHRO note: the name Nini is not her real name. We changed the name to protect her identity for security reasons)

 

Forced Portering In Thantlang Twongship

 

Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274 and LIB 268 conducted a joint military operation in Thantlang township, Chin State in the month of August 2001. Commanding in charge of military intelligence unit in Chin State, Hla Myint Htun led the operation.

 

To aid in the supply needs during the operation, Hla Myint Htun and his troops arrested many civilians to serve as porters. The huge loads of army supplies, however, exceeded the availability of civilian porters. Thus, the troops demanded horses from the civilians to carry the loads.

 

The operation lasted for three weeks, and villagers from Thantlang township had to endure grueling conditions during the whole operations.

 

SPDC Soldier Robbed Villagers

 

Captain Hlaing Hlaing of Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 274 Mindat battalion robbed 10000 Kyats from Pu Dun (Name change for security reason) of Pintia village of Matupi township, Chin State on August 25, 2001.

 

Pu Dun and his friends were traveling when they met with Captain Hlaing Hlaing and his troops. The soldiers stopped Pu Dun and his friends and search their bags and took 10000 Kyats from Pu Dun. The incident occurred at Khemu stream between Hlungmang and Zawngling village.

 

 

 

SPDC Lt. Colonel Demanded Solar Plate From Chin Villagers

 

The following report is provided by Pu Than Kip, a 60 year-old farmer from Lungcawi village of Matupi township in Chin State.

 

Commander of Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274 from Mindat, Lt. Colonel Maung Maung and his troops came to Lungcawi village to patrol around the India-Burma border on 24th August 2001. As soon as they arrived, the Lt. Colonel demanded 4 villagers to porter army supplies. Thus, the village headman has to quickly assemble the villagers to serve as porter. As most of the villagers were working at their farm at the time the army arrived, the village headman had to ask some elderly people to serve(including Pu Sui Kung 55 year old, who was sick at that timer) as porter to meet the Lt. Colonel demand.

 

Pu Sui Kung and three other villagers had to carry rations and ammunition for Lt. Colonel and his troops for four days. After four days, they came back to Lungcawi village on 28 August 2001.

 

While Lt. Colonel Maung Maung was in the village, the village headman and some village elders took the opportunity to ask him to give them permission for making a ferryboat to be used for crossing the Bawinu river, which separates India and Burma, for easy access to goods from the India side. Lungcawi area is so remote and isolated from major towns in Burma that it is easier for the villagers to get their commodity supplies from India.

 

Lt. Colonel told the villagers that if they give him a solar plate and 10000 Kyats, he would give them his permission. Thus the villagers bought a solar plate, which is worth 50000 Kyat and gave it to Lt. Colonel Maung Maung along with 10000 Kyats.

 

Civilians Forced to Repair Army Camp

 

Villagers from Matupi township of Chin State were forced to repair army camp in the month of September.

 

Captain Hlaing Hlaing of Burmese Army from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274 based in Mindat ordered villagers from Sabawgte area to repair Sabawngte army camp.

 

Nine persons from Pintia village, 10 villagers from Hlungmang village, 10 villagers from Sabawngpi village, and 8 villagers from Tawnglalung village have to repair the fence of Sabawngte army camp from September 10 to 15, 2001.

 

The work started from 6 AM to 5 PM every day. The villagers have to carry their own tools and rations.

 

During the third day of their work, 14 year-old boy laborer from Pintia village got bitten by a snake. Even though there is a military medic present in the army camp, the boy did not get any treatment from the army. Thus, villagers treated him with traditional method and carried him to his village.

 

One village elder said that there was an order issued by the home ministry to prohibiting the practice of forced labor, but the army still used forced labor and called civilian for porter whenever they needed. “It is very difficult to make a living here. We spend most of our labor working for the army”̈ said the villager.

 

SPDC Soldiers Looted From Civilians

 

The Burmese military launched offensive against the Chin National Front, the armed opposition group, in the month of August and September. Thus, the Burmese military forced many people to serve as porters during the operation.

 

A Captain ( name not known ) from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 Falam battalion established a temporary command camp at Ngaphaipi village, Thantlang towship during the military operation. One 21 August 2001, the Captain ordered Fartlang village, Khuapilu village, La-u village, Ngaphaipi village, that each village must bring two tins of rice, five chickens and 8600 Kyats to the camp.

 

Similarly, Captain Myo Kyaw Htun, Company commander from LIB 274 Vuangtu army camp established temporary army camp between Lungcawipi and Ngaphaipi village. As the camp was on the trade route to Mizoram State of India, Captain Myo Kyaw Htun looted 300000 Kyats from cattle traders on 28 August 2001.

 

One of the Cattle traders reported the incident to CHRO on 15 September 2001.

 

 

 

Can’t Afford Identity Card

 

In the area around the townships of Tamu and Kalay of Sagaing Division, Western Burma, people are being required to pay a cost of 40,00 Kyats in order to obtain a national identity card. Ordinary citizens such as farmers are finding it difficult to afford the high cost. Possession of national identity card is a mandatory requirement for every Burmese citizen, which must be carried along at all times.

 

A person has to pay 4000 Kyats in Burmese currency to the department of immigration in order to be issued the national identity card. If the card is destroyed or lost, an additional 6000 Kyats have to be paid to the department for issuance of a new card.

 

Unable to afford the cost, most farmers have to get reference letter from the village headman whenever they travel, as a temporary substitute for the card. The reference letter is valid up to three months from the date of issue. Village headmen are charging 250 Kyats per reference letter per person. If the immigration department finds out that someone is using expired document, he/she is subject to fine up to 1500 Kyats to 2000 Kyats.

 

In Burma, registration for national identity card is made mandatory to every citizen and everyone must carry it with him or her at all times especially when traveling. Travelers or visitors have to report their presence to the village or township authority in which they are visiting. Immigration officials and military intelligence conduct door-to-door surprise and random checks at night. Anyone found without proper guest registration or without identity card is subject to fine or arrest.

 

Burmese Army Force Chin Civilians to Sell Liquor

 

Chin Christian villages from Thantlang Township, Chin State were forced to sell liquor by the Burmese army in September 2001.

 

The order to sell liquor was signed by Captain Myo Kyaw Htun, commander of Vuangtu army camp, of Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274, known as Mindat battalion.

 

Captain Myo Kyaw Htun ordered villages headmen from 28 villages to come to Vuangtu army camp without fail for an important meeting. When the villages¡| headmen, except the headman of Banawhtlang village who was absent, came to Vuangtu army camp, he ordered that each village headman have to sell 48 bottles of liquor in their village as the rate of 120 Kyats per bottle.

 

The Captain was outraged due to the absence of the headman of Banawhtlang in the meeting. Thus, he sent a warning letter to the headman of Banawhtlang village that if he could not give satisfactory explanation for failing to come to the meeting, he will be automatically considered as a strong supporter of Chin National Front and the army will take necessary action against his village.

 

The warning of the Burmese Captain terrified all the villagers. Pu Thang Ling 54 year old village elder from Banawhtlang village said that the reason their village could not go to the meeting was due to the fact that the village was facing shortage of food and village elders were busy managing to get food for the village.

 

 

 

“You Must Play Soccer” Said SPDC Captain

 

Captain Myo Kyaw Htun, commander of Vuangtu army camp from Thantlang towship Chin State issued an order that there be a soccer tournament at Vuangtu village on August 14, 2001. He ordered 28 villages from Thantlang towship to participate in the tournament.

 

The villagers have to bring their own foods and all necessary accessories for the tournament. In addition, each village is ordered to pay 2500 Kyats to the Captain as an admission fee to the competition. He further decreed that selling of liquor during the tournament is compulsory.

 

Even though August is the busiest time for farmers in Chin State, the villagers do not dare to deny the order and the entire villages, except for Banawhtlang village, were compelled to participate in the competition.

 

Enraged by the absence of Banawhtlang village, Captain Myo Kyaw Htun sent a warning letter saying that the village headman have to explain in person the reason why they did not participate in the tournament. Besides, Banawhtlang village still have to pay 2500 Kyats admission fee, 3 bags of rice and a pig (a big one), despite their absense.

 

The headman of Banawhtlang village was so scared to meet with the Captain. So he asked Lulpilung village headman Pu Biak Mang to meet Captain Myo Kyaw Htun on his behalf. Thus, Banawhtlang village sent 10000 Kyats to the Captain through Pu Biak Mang. Pu Biak Mang explained to the Captain that Banawhtalng village were facing food shortage and they were in great trouble and he asked the Captain to reconsider his order regarding Banawhtlang village.

 

The Captain took 10000 Kyats and told Pu Biak Mang that Banawhtlang village have to send 5000 more kyats and a chicken.

 

List of Villages Ordered to Participate in the soccer tournament

 

Banawhtlang, Lulpilung, Salen, Tikir A, Tikir B, Tlangrua A, Tlangrua B, Zephai A, Zephai B, Ngalang, Belhar, Lawngtlang A, Lawngtlang B, Hriphi A, Hriphi B, Vomkua, Khuabung A, Khuabung B, Zabung, Hlam Phei, Hmunhalh, Hriangkhan, Thao, Fartlang, Lungcawi, Ngaphaipi, Ngaphaite, and Lailen.

 

Order Sent by Vuangtu Army Camp Commander to Banawhtlang Village

 

( CHRO translated it from original Burmese )

 

Order

 

To.

 

Banawhtlang village

 

All the youth representatives have a meeting on 28 July 2001. Even though Banawhtlang village have received the order, they failed to come to the meeting. This letter is to inform you that there will be a soccer tournament at Vuangtu army camp on 14 August 2001. You must bring 3 bags of rice, a ball and a pig.

 

Admission fee: 2500 Kyats

 

First Prize : 15000 Kyats

 

Second Prize : 10000 Kyats

 

Third Prize : 7000 Kyats

 

Sd./

 

Company commander

 

Vuangtu Camp

 

To.

 

Village headman

 

Banawhtlang village

 

Date 29. 7. 2001

 

You failed to obey my order to send the youth from your village. We sent you several orders to come to the camp, but still ignored the order of the army. The army considered you and your village as strong supporter of the underground Chin National Front. As soon as you get this order, you must come to the camp without fail. If you fail to come to the camp, I have to report the case to my superior and will take necessary actions.

 

Sd./

 

Company commander

 

Vuangtu Camp

 

 

 

ICRC Suggests Some Prisoners Not Relevant To Hard Labor

 

November 2, 2001

 

Some of the prisoners are going to be sent back to original prisons from hard labor camps of number one “new life project” near Indo-Burma border due to suggestion of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

 

Local Burmese doctors will under take the prisoners from Thanan, Myothit, Bandula and Razagyo number two camps a medical check up before ICRC’s visit to these camps. Those who are not in suitable health conditions will be sent back to original prisons for food substitution, rest and medical treatments, mentioned in an order released by Directorate of Prison Affairs under Ministry of Home Affairs on October 25.

 

Prisoners who are in good health from Kalay prison will be replaced in these sent back prisoners, also mentioned in the order.

 

ICRC visited to so call “New Life Projects” in Kabal valley near Indo-Burma border from September 1 to September 19 and suggested more than 130 prisoners in these camps were not suitable for the hard labor. The ICRC delegation visited Oak-pho, Sayasan and Razagyo number one camps in the same new life project number one.

 

More than 120 prisoners from these three camps were sent back to their original prisons and about 200 prisoners from Monywa prison were replaced in the camps, NMG reported in a previous article.

 

Although ICRC visited and suggested for better situation in hard labor camps, five prisoners from Razagyo number one camp ran away on October 25, while they were doing their work under tight security. The security guards rearrested those run away prisoners and beat them, a source from Indo-Burma border reported. All of five prisoners as well as other 6 who were alleged to discuss for escape were put in shackles and halters.

 

ICRC made two visits during September to hard labor camps and made suggestion on the situation of the camps, mentioned in leaked reports. ICRC found out that the food given to prisoners were not good enough in both quality and quantity, drinking water is not safe, prisoners do not get rest including who suffering from illnesses, improper health care system and prisoners are frequently beaten. ICRC suggested to prison authorities of Burma to improve these conditions, NMG learnt from the reports leaked out.

 

All together eight “New Life Projects”, all over Burma, were opened for the prisoners, who are charged for imprisonment with hard labor, with the instruction of Senior General Than Shwe in 1994.

 

Burmese regime is using these labors to implement its long-term agricultural projects. The mortality rate in these hard labor camps ranges from 24 to 30 percent because of continuous hard labor, malaria and insufficient food, according to the prison authorities reports.

 

Network Media Group

 

Letter & Press Release:

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Letter To The Burmese Regime

 

11 December 2001

 

Senior General Than Shwe

 

State Peace and Development Council

 

Ministry of Defense

 

Signal Pagoda Road

 

Yangon, Myanmar

 

Dear General Than Shwe,

 

We were gratified to learn of your public statements in response to our call for the release of our colleague Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, full respect for the human rights of the citizens of your country and agreement to extend confidence building talks with Aung San Suu Kyi to include dialogue with the leaders of political parties and ethnic minorities.

 

It is heartening to learn of your belief that we are all on “the winning side” in that we share “the common objective of creating Myanmar to become a fully functioning democracy.” Your statement declared: “Today we are in the process of joining hands walking on the same path toward our common objective while successfully maintaining the hard-won peace stability and national unity.”

 

We are concerned with the misunderstanding that you report exists between the National League for Democracy and the Government of Myanmar. We are of the strong belief that misunderstandings can best be resolved through open and respectful dialogue. We are willing and prepared to support this process in any way. To do so, we would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience. We respectfully request that you agree to welcome a delegation of Nobel Peace Laureates to your country so that we might meet with you and your colleagues as well as with our colleague, Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

We sincerely believe that the “path toward our common objective” to which you refer can be made more open by your willingness to agree to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political detainees immediately. It will also be enhanced by your agreement to move forward with a genuine and substantive dialogue that includes leaders of political parties and ethnic minorities with the aim of achieving national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy.

 

Such action will not only move your nation closer to realizing the common goal of a fully functioning democracy, but also to considerably enhancing your standing in the world. We look forward to supporting you in this process and to the full integration of Burma into the international community.

 

Sincerely and respectfully yours,

 

Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu

 

Chair, Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi

 

And the People of Burma

 

 

 

Burma’s Democracy Leader Still Under House Arrest, Ten Years After Winning Nobel Peace Prize

 

For Immediate Release

 

Aung San Suu Kyi urges end to Canadian investment in Burma because of dictatorship’s human rights abuses, collaboration with heroin traffickers

 

OTTAWA, December 7, 2001. Ten years ago on December 10, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s democracy movement, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her remarkable non-violent struggle against one of the world’s worst military dictatorships. Today, she continues her struggle, while waiting for her chance to take the office she legally won, in a landslide general election, more than a decade ago.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won an overwhelming victory in her country’s democratic elections in 1990. But instead of handing over the reins of government, Burma’s military rulers illegally nullified the election results and kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest where she has spent most of her time since 1989.

 

In the ten years since then, the military regime has earned continuous international condemnation for its widespread use of forced labour, its violent campaign against ethnic minorities, and its complicity in the multi-billion-dollar heroin trade. As a result, the dictatorship is an international pariah with few friends.

 

But in spite of these abuses, the dictatorship remains firmly in power. An important reason for this is that only one country, the United States, has imposed sanctions against investing in Burma. With no firm rules prohibiting investment in Burma, companies from most countries, including Canada, are free to choose for themselves.

 

In a video smuggled out of Burma in 1999, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the people of Canada, thanking them for their continued support of Burma’s democracy movement. She also repeated her call for Canadians not to do business in Burma, stressing that “investment only benefits the military authorities and their allies…we do not think that investment in our country at this time can do our country any good.”

 

She has a good point. Foreign companies investing in Burma are usually steered into joint ventures with state-owned enterprises, which are run by the generals. Some Canadian companies have heeded Aug San Suu Kyi’s urging to cut business ties with the Burmese military dictatorship. These companies include Wal-Mart Canada, Sears Canada, and The Bay.

 

However, many other Canadian companies continue to do business with the Burmese military. One of these, Marshall Macklin Monaghan (MMM) Ltd. of Toronto, helped to build the Mandalay airport, even though the military forcibly relocated villagers who lived near the site, and forced other local villagers to help build the road to the airport.

 

Another Canadian company, Ivanhoe Mines, which is in a 50-50 partnership with the dictatorship in the largest foreign mining operation in Burma, is a likely beneficiary of the regime’s use of forced labour. Testimony from local villagers indicates that the military forcibly relocated people from a total of eight villages in order to make way for the Monywa mine.

 

Although the Canadian government officially discourages investment in Burma, in reality Ivanhoe receives generous tax incentives for the Monywa mine operation.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for sanctions against the dictatorship echoes that of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and others, in their successful struggle against the South African apartheid regime. Last November, the International Labour Organization (ILO) called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to make sure they are not helping to perpetuate the system of forced labour there. Reports to the ILO say that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefiting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of its citizens are subjected each year.

 

Although Burma is thousands of kilometres away, literally on the other side of the planet, Canadians pay a heavy—and direct—social price because of the failure to impose comprehensive sanctions against the military dictatorship. According to the RCMP, most of the heroin imported to Canada comes from Burma. In spite of strong international pressure to stop the heroin trade, the Burmese generals allow convicted drug lords to live freely and even to launder drug money through state-owned banks.

 

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, launched fifty years ago, signaled the beginning of the end of Japan’s military expansion in China and Southeast Asia. Four years later, the defeat of the Japanese empire heralded a hopeful new era for the people of the region. And yet, over fifty years after Japan’s defeat, Burma still suffers under a dictatorship every bit as harsh and arbitrary as the Japanese occupation. And, like the Afghan Taliban regime, it is universally known as a corrupt and brutal collection of thugs who condone, and even profit from, the sale of heroin to the west.

 

As people across Canada prepare to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Aung San Suu

 

Kyi, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, they will also reflect on the inconsistency of Canadian policy toward rogue states.

 

At a time when the international community is working to strengthen money-laundering laws to fight terrorism, the military regime in Burma still makes it possible to launder profits from the drug industry. And notorious Burmese drug lords, indicted in the United States, continue to live freely and comfortably under Rangoon’s wing. Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters across Canada call for her immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all other political prisoners in Burma. When this happens, there can be tripartite dialogue between the NLD, Burma’s military regime, and ethnic minority representatives.

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Laureate and a prominent opponent of the former apartheid regime, has urged the international community and fellow Nobel Peace Laureates to salute and support Burma’s democracy leader and the people of Burma in their non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy.

 

Canadians will join Burma supporters all over the world in marking this important anniversary. There will be celebrations in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Canadian Friends of Burma, Ottawa, (613) 237-8056.

 

 

 

Facts & Arguments:

 

Canadian Ties To Burma’s Dictatorship

 

Although Burma is thousands of kilometres away, Canadians are very much connected to this Southeast Asian country of 50 million people. Ever since Burma’s military regime opened the country up to foreign trade and investment in 1989 for the first time in three decades, Canada’s corporate sector has been conducting business there. These commercial links have increased steadily over the past decade, rising sharply in the past few years to over $300 million of investment and $60 million worth of trade at the present time.

 

Burma’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the international community not to do business in her country under the current military regime. Leader of the National League for Democracy, which won an overwhelming victory in the country’s 1990 national elections, Aung San Suu Kyi stresses that foreign business only props up the military dictatorship and does not help the majority of Burma’s citizens.

 

More recently, reports to the ILO say that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefiting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of citizens are subjected each year. In response to this problem, last November, the International Labour Organization (ILO) called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to make sure they are not helping to foster the system of forced labour there.

 

Most of the heroin that comes into Canada originates in Burma according to the RCMP. Heroin has had devastating effects on people=s lives in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The military dictatorship does not just turn a blind eye to the heroin traffic, it supports by letting convicted drug lords roam free and by allowing heroin profits to be laundered through state-owned banks controlled by the military regime. Moreover, the report Out of Control 2, produced by the Southeast Asian Information Network identifies heroin refineries that are located next to army bases and others, which are partially-owned by senior Burmese military generals.

 

Canadian Policy:

 

Although concerned with the deteriorating human rights situation in Burma, the Government of Canada continues to allow Canadian business in Burma. In August 1997, Canada removed Burma’s preferential tariff eligibility and restricted Canadian exports to Burma, to encourage the military regime to enter into meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the democracy movement.

 

Despite these measures, imports to Canada from Burma have more than tripled in the past four years. Last year’s import value of $60.794 million was more than double the value of the previous year (Industry Canada).

 

The Canadian government imposes absolutely no restriction on investment, which has shot up to over $300 million to date mostly in Burma’s mining and gas sectors. CFOB’s most recent research indicates that, since 1997, at least 11 new Canadian companies have invested in or expanded already-existing investment in Burma[1]. The Government of Canada maintainsthat with regard to investment, their hands are tied because of the Special Economic Mea! sures Act (SEMA). The recent ILO resolution, however, now fully justifies triggering the SEMA to ban investment.[2]

 

Canadian Corporations in Burma:

 

The largest foreign mining venture in Burma, Ivanhoe Mines, is registered in Canada’s Yukon to take advantage of generous tax incentives provided by the Territorial government. Invanhoe is involved in a copper mine, which is a 50/50 joint venture with Burma’s military controlled Mining Enterprise No.1″.

 

In research conducted by CFOB, testimony was received from Burmese villagers[3] stating that eight villages were forcibly relocated in June 2000 to make way for the Monywa copper mine’s expansion. Ivanhoe has already invested $150 million in the project and is looking for a further $400 million for its expansion. In addition, nearly one million workers toiled on the building of a railway line from Monywa to the district centre of Pakokku, while another 5,000 villagers had to contribute their labour to the irrigation development around the Thazi dam near Monywa. The proximity of these infrastructur! e projects to the mine would make it extremely difficult for Ivanhoe to avoid benefitting from forced labour.

 

Another significant Canadian commercial venture in Burma is the $24 million contract that Canadian Helicopters International signed in 1997 for five years involving two aircraft operating from Rangoon and a third remotely operated. Previously, CHC provided helicopter services for a French oil company named Total, for its work on the Yadana pipeline which was constructed with the help of forced labour.[4]

 

Currently, one of Total Oil’s foreign partners in the project, the American oil giant, Unocal, is being sued by 14 villagers who had been living in the vicinity of the pipeline and suffered terrible abuses by the military regime in connection with the project’s construction and security. In September 2001, a US Federal Court judge stated that evidence suggested Unocal knew about and benefitted from forced labour on the pipeline.

 

Forced Labour in Burma: A Modern Form of Slavery

 

One of the most pervasive human rights violations in Burma is the military regime’s system of forced labour. Called a modern form of slavery, by the United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO), forced labour is used on a multitude of construction projects in numerous industries, from repairing tourist sites to carrying artillery for the army during military offensives.

 

The ILO took the strongest action it has ever taken towards a member country, against Burma, due to the country’s forced labour situation. In November 2000, the ILO called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to ensure that they are not helping to perpetuate the system of forced labour there. Reports to the ILO state that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefitting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of its citizens are subjected each year.

 

Generally any person in Burma can be forced into hard labour at any time by military authorities, men, women, children, the elderly, the sick and pregnant women. Forced labour is often accompanied by beatings, rape, deprivation of food, rest, and medical care.

 

ILO Report on Forced Labour:

 

After 30 years of criticism by the ILO of forced labour in Burma, in 1997, a commission of inquiry was set up to discover the facts. In July 1998, they released their findings in a 392 page document distilled from nearly 10,000 pages of testimonies and eye witness reports.

 

A year after the report was published, the military had still not taken any measures to fulfil the report’s recommendations to address the widespread use of forced labour. Therefore, in an unprecedented move, the ILO banned Burma from future meetings and from any future support until the regime takes significant steps towards positive change.

 

Report Excerpts:

 

There is abundant evidence before the Commission showing the pervasive use of forced labour imposed on the civilian population of Myanmar by the authorities and the military for portering, construction, maintenance and servicing of military camps, other work in support of the military, work on agriculture, logging and other production projects undertaken by the authorities or the military, sometimes for the profit of private individuals, the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, and bridges, and other infrastructure work..

 

… it appears that unfettered powers of military and government officers to exact forced labour from the civilian population are taken for granted…the manifold exactions of forced labour often give rise to the extortion of money…also to threats to life and security, extrajudicial punishment, physical abuse, beatings, torture, rape and murder.

 

Forced labour in Myanmar is almost never remunerated or compensated, secret directives notwithstanding, but on the contrary often goes hand in hand with the exaction of money, food and other supplies from the civilian population.

 

All the information and evidence before the Commission shows utter disregard for the safety and health as well as the basic needs of the people performing forced or compulsory labour…

 

A state which supports, instigates, accepts or tolerates forced labour on its territory commits a wrongful act…Whatever may be the position in national law…any person who violates the prohibition of recourse to forced labour under the Convention is guilty of an international crime, that is also, if committed in a widespread or systematic manner, a crime against humanity.

 

The Commission considers…the establishment of a government freely chosen by the people and the submission of all public authorities to the rule of law are, in practice indispensable prerequisites for the suppression of forced labour in Myanmar.

 

This report reveals a saga of untold misery and suffering, oppression and exploitation of large sections of the population. The government, the military and the administration seem oblivious to the human rights of the people, their actions gravely offend human dignity and have a debasing effect on the civil society, where human rightsare denied or violated in any part of the world it is bound to have a chain effect on other parts of the world and it is therefore of vital interest to the international community.

 

Burma’s Illicit Drug Economy

 

Since the ascendance of the current military regime in 1988, Burma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of heroin. The current military regime profits from, protects and supports Burma’s illicit drug industry.

 

The regime allows notorious Burmese drug lords, such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, to operate as legitimate businessmen in Burma. The South East Asian Information Network (SAIN) in a 1998 report, listed five army regiments with headquarters or outposts alongside heroin refineries. It reports that bulk heroin exports from the refinery at Paletwa in north-west Burma were carried by army helicopter into Bangladesh, there being no roads for transportation. Dr. Desmond Ball, an Australian researcher, identified in 1999 three infantry battalions that, between them were maintaining six heroin refineries along the drug routes in north-eastern Burma. He also identifies senior generals that were part owners of heroin refineries at the time of his research.

 

Money Laundering:

 

Desperate for foreign currency, the Burmese military regime has created legislation that helps launder the proceeds of drugs. In levying a 40 per cent tax rate on declared assets, the regime makes no inquiry into the source of the assets. Moreover, Burma’s military junta openly allows profits from the drug trade to be channeled through military-controlled companies such as banks and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises. As a result of this money laundering, illicit drug profits permeate Burma’s economy.

 

In such an environment, foreign companies have no way to ensure their operations in Burma are clean. A prime example of this problem was the case of Wal-Mart Canada, which was found in 2000 to be importing from a clothing company in Burma owned by the notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han.

 

Burma Heroin in Canada:

 

Canadians are not immune from the scourge of Burma’s heroin trade. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP states that most of the heroin coming into Canada originates in Burma. Meanwhile, heroin has had devastating effects on people’s lives in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Therefore, Canadian companies which support Burma’s military regime through their business there, are inevitably and ironically contributing to social problems in Canada.

 

In 1997, Burma was responsible for about 60 per cent of the word’s supply of heroin. Production of raw opium exceeded 2500 tonnes, or more than double the yield in 1988 when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the forerunner of the SPDC took power. Opium poppy cultivation in Burma has also increased from some 92,300 hectares to more than 200,000 under the SPDC (Dr. Desmond Ball,”Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the global drug trade! ” in Asia-Pacific Magazine, No.14, 1999).

 

The regime has created legislation which helps launder the proceeds of drugs. The Burmese regime levies a 40 % tax rate on declared assets other than real property, but as long a! s the tax is paid, there is no inquiry into the source of the assets (US State Department, 1998). Also banks launder dubious money in exchange for a 25 % to 40% fee. In 1996, there was US $250 million of unexplained investment attracted by the scheme (The IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development in the Sunday Times [London] May 10, 1998).

 

Money laundering and the return of narcotic profits laundered elsewhere are very significant factors in the overall Burmeseeconomy and are officially sanctioned by the junta. The SPDC openly allows profits from the drug trade to be channeled into private and public enterprises through Burma’s national company, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises (MOGE) and the banks. (Leslie Kean and Dennis Bernstein, People of the Opiate in the Nation, Dec. 16, 1996).

 

A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cites large expenditures unaccounted for by the junta: Despite the fact that Burma’s foreign exchange reserves from 1991-1993 were only approximately $300 million, the SLORC purchased arms worth $1.2 billion during the period (The Nation, Dec. 1996).!

 

A Unless there is a democratically elected civilian government that can win the support of all the Burmese people, including the ethnic minorities, progress on the drug front will be impossible. (Michael Jendrzejeczyk, Director of Human Rights Watch/Asia, the New York Times, Feb.12, 1993).

 

A major dimension of the corruption [of the military dictatorship in Burma] is the involvement of the regime – from the most senior members of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) which rules the country, down to infantry soldiers stationed in border areas – in drug trafficking. (Dr. Desmond Ball, Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the global drug trade in Asia-Pacific Magazine, No.14, 1999).

 

# The opium-heroin trade in Burma is a sophisticated, world-wide multi-billion dollar business which requires a large infrastructure, especially for refining, transporting and protecting the product, from Burma’s borders to its neighbouring countries. (Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, The War on Drugs and Drug Policies; paper distributed at the International Conference on Drugs, 1996).

 

# US anti-drug assistance to the Burmese government has failed in the past, and in the last four years Burmese authorities have made no discernible effort to improve their performance…SLORC has been part of the problem, not the solution. (Robert S. Gelbard, former US assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law-enforcement affairs, Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov.21, 1996).

 

The United States: We are increasingly concerned that Burma’s drug traffickers, with official encouragement, are laundering their profits through Burmese banks and companies–some of which are joint ventures with foreign businesses.It is hard to imagine a lasting solution to this region’s narcotics problem without a lasting solution to Burma’s political crisis. (Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, Jul.1997).

 

Britain: Burma is the largest single world producer of opium, and it has achieved that infamous position precisely because it has a government that does not act against the drug barons. It is not only a deeply repressive regime, but is also a deeply irresponsible regime in that it is one of the few governments in the world whose members are prepared to profit out of the drugs trade rather than to seek to suppress it (Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary, South-China Morning Post, Sept.2,1998).

 

Thailand: Thai anti-narcotics officials have been quoted as saying that the Burmese military are actively supporting the United Wa State Army believed to be one of the main drug trafficking organizations in the Golden Triangle (The BBC, Jul 25,1999)

 

Burma’s Military-Controlled Economy

 

International investment may help open societies and bring democratic change in some countries. In Burma, however, foreign investment helps perpetuate the cruelty of a repressive unelected junta. While the majority of Burmese receive no benefit from foreign enterprise, foreign exchange allows the military to maintain its rule by force of arms.

 

The military regime’s own figures state that expenditure on defence since 1988 to the present had increased from 22.35 per cent to49.93 per cent. During the same period, spending on health-care and education had dropped from 4.71 per cent and 12.9 per cent to 2.53 and 6.98, respectively.

 

Full foreign ownership of companies operating in Burma is generally forbidden and almost all large investment in Burma is carried out through joint ventures with the military regime, notably the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH). The UMEH is owned in part (40%) by the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Procurement, whose main function is to import armaments. The other 60% of UMEH shares is reserved for active and retired military officers, army-owned business enterprises and friendship societies, including veteran groups.

 

Since the ascendance of the current military regime in 1988, Burma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of heroin. This very fact is just one of the many examples that point to the regime’s profiting, protection and support of Burma’s illicit drug industry.

 

The regime allows notorious Burmese drug lords, such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, to operate as legitimate businessmen in Burma. The South East Asian Information Network (SAIN) in a 1998 report, listed five army regiments with headquarters or outposts alongside heroin refineries. It reports that bulk heroin exports from the refinery at Paletwa in north-west Burma were carried by army helicopter into Bangladesh, there being no roads for transportation. Dr. Desmond Ball, an Australian researcher, identified in 1999 three infantry battalions that, between them were maintaining six heroin refineries along the drug routes in north-eastern Burma. He also identifies senior generals that were part owners of heroin refineries at the time of his research.

 

Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratically elected National League for Democracy have been calling for sanctions against their own country since it became obvious that foreign investment was only benefiting the military authorities and their allies. In a video smuggled out of Burma in August 1999, Aung San Suu Kyi stated that:

 

“We do not think that investment in our country at this time can do our country any good…Investment made at the right time in the right way could be of enormous benefit not only to the people of Burma but to thos who are investing in Burma. But that time has not yet come.”

 

Just as the South African anti-apartheid movement called for economic sanctions against their own country, Burma’s democracy movement is calling for an end to foreign financial support to the brutal military dictatorship.

 

The Situation of Women in Burma

 

Like all their fellow citizens, Burma’s women face the day-to-day struggle of life under military rule in Burma. But the country’s women also face particular problems and abuse on account of their gender. Apart from the general maltreatment and discrimination directed against women in their society, Burmese women and girls, especially in ethnic minority areas, are faced with the constant danger of being raped or trafficked into the sex industry.

 

Sexual Assault:

 

Women are subjected to rape and other sexual assaults in a variety of contexts; in their villages and fields; during flight; while they are serving as forced labourers or forced porters for the army; and under assorted pretexts in which soldiers abuse their authority and claim to be checking women’s documents. Women are raped by Burmese soldiers in their own homes, while they are internally displaced, and while they are on their way to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. These abuses have escalated over the past decade under because soldiers have become used to taking what they want under the current military regime which allows them to do so with impunity. (See School of Rape by Earthrights In! ternational, Convention for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Shadow Report)

 

Trafficking into Sex Industry:

 

The burgeoning sex industry in Burma and trafficking of Burmese women to Thailand and other countries also gives rise to enormous health difficulties, most notably HIV and AIDS. As well, Burmese sex workers (often coerced into the industry) in Burma, in Thailand, India and Bangladesh suffer from high rates of sexually transmitted disease and are often victims of beatings and other physical assaults.

 

An estimated 80,000 women from Burma are engaged in prostitution in Thailand. Along the Thai-Burma border, agents recruit women with false promises of providing them with employment or legal resident status in Thailand or force them into prostitution under threats to their lives. Many brothels are surrounded by electric fences and armed guards to avoid escape. They rarely have access to heath care or HIV education. Their rate of HIV infection is much higher than among Thai prostitutes.

 

Women’s Health:

 

Maternal motility rate in 1993 was 140 per 100,000 live births. In 1987, abortions accounted for 52 per cent of all registered maternal deaths. Though the practice is illegal in Burma, induced abortion is resorted to in the absence of knowledge and other means for family planning. Other causes of high material mortality are malaria, malnutrition,goiter, severe anemia, sexually transmitted diseases and the limited coverage of trained birth attendants in remote areas.

 

According to UNICEF, the national infant mortality rate in 1996 was 105 per live births, which can be compared to 33 in Vietnam, 31 in Thailand and 11 in Malaysia. One million children are reportedly malnourished. 9 to 12 percent of them severely so. The high rate of babies with birth weight below 2,300 grams is probably reflection of the high malnutrition levels among pregnant women. Under the current regime which took power in 1988, these figures have likely increased since health care has deteriorated significantly. Moreover, this data is not completely accurate because it does! not include information from Burma’s ethnic civil war areas, where health conditions are even worse, because UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations have limited access.

 

[1]Ivanhoe Mines, Aeroground Group Services, Cavern International Industries, East Asia Gold Corporation, First Dynasty Mines, International Bio-Recovery, Leeward Capital Corp, Marshall Macklin Monaghan, Northrock Resources, Prime Resources Management, Suzuki Canada

 

[2]This is because the ILO resolution responds to the Act=s allowance that a resolution from an international body, such as the United Nations, empowers such an action. AThe Governor in Council may, for the purpose of implementing a decision, resolution or recommendation of an international organization of states or association of states, o! f which Canada is a member, that calls on its members to take economic measures against a foreign state.

 

[3]Individual identities are not disclosed to protect their security

 

[4]ATotal Denial [email protected] by Earthrights International, 2000

 

 

VOLUME IV.NO.VI. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2001

Contents:

SPDC uses Forced Labor in Army Owned Farm

SPDC Troops Forced Chin Villagers To Serve as Porters

Forced Portering In Thantlang Twongship

SPDC Soldier Robbed Villagers

SPDC Lt. Colonel Demanded Solar Plate From Chin Villagers

Civilians Forced to Repair Army Camp

SPDC Soldiers Looted From Civilians

Can’t Afford Identity Card

Burmese Army Force Chin Civilians to Sell Liquor

” You Must Play Soccer” Said SPDC Captain

ICRC Suggests Some Prisoners Not Relevant to Hard Labour

LETTER & PRESS RELEASE:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Letter to The Burmese Regime

Burma’s Democracy Leader Still Under House Arrest, Ten Years After Winning Noble Peace Price

FACTS & ARGUMENTS:

Canadian Ties to Burma’s Dictatorship

HUMAN RIGHTS:

SPDC uses Forced Labor in Army Owned Farm

The Burmese army has been forcing the civilian to work in the army-owned farms in Kankaw township of Western Burma, according to the testimony of U Kyaw Win (Name changed for security reason). A 48 year-old village headman from XXX village, U Kyaw Win testified to the CHRO field reporter that amidst claims by Burmese junta of having eradicated forced labor in Burma, the practice continues.

According to him, the Burmese army has a large plot of farm in the vicinity of Taung-khin-yin Village of Kankaw Township, Magwe division, Western Burma. The farm is operated under the supervision of army North Western Command since 1996.

From the beginning, villagers were forced to clear 15,000 acres of virgin land. Since then, forced labor never ceases in our area. From 1997 to 2001 the farm was operated under the command of Major Kyaw Soe of Light Infantry Battallion LIB 269 based in Tidim.

From March 2001, Major Kyaw Soe was replaced by Major Zaw Oo from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 226, based in Haka. Civilians from around the area have to work at the army farm from the time of sowing to harvesting time. Sometimes the soldiers are unsatisfied with the human labor, and forced laborers are made to bring along their bulls and buffaloes to work at the farm

This harvesting season (2001), civilians from Taung-khin-yin village, Tha-lin village, Shwebo village, Thin-taw village, Hnan-kha village, Min-tha village, Kung-ywa village, A-lay village and Ywa-ma villagers are among those forced to work at the army farm from June to Septermber¡̈

U Kyaw Win added that; besides the farm works, villagers have to do manual works for the army such as building the army barracks, cutting woods for the army, carrying waters and making furniture for the army officers.

( CHRO: interview U Kyaw Win on October 1, 2001 )

SPDC Troops Forced Chin Villagers To Serve as Porters

The Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 from Lentlang army camp, Tidim township of Chin state, forced 15 civilians from Lentlang village to serve as porter on September 8, 2001.

The porters were herded by Sergeant Tin Myint of LIB 268, and his troops from Lentlang village to Tio village of Falam township, Chin State. When they arrived to Tio village, the porters were forced to carry ration for the army. Overburdened, the porters could not carry the loads.

Thus, Sergeant Tin Myint demanded two more porters from Tio village. While the porters were packing the load, one soldier took a stick and started to beat the porters saying that they are too slow in packing the load. He stopped beating them only after an elder from Tio village begged the soldier to stop.

The next day, on September 9, 2001, Sergeant Tin Myint and his troops took another 15 porters from Tio village and forced them to carry army ammunition from Tio village to Lentlang army camp.

Ms. Nini (an eye witness of the incident), 29 years old villager from Tio village reported the incident to CHRO field worker on September 15 2001.

(CHRO note: the name Nini is not her real name. We changed the name to protect her identity for security reasons)

Forced Portering In Thantlang Twongship

Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274 and LIB 268 conducted a joint military operation in Thantlang township, Chin State in the month of August 2001. Commanding in charge of military intelligence unit in Chin State, Hla Myint Htun led the operation.

To aid in the supply needs during the operation, Hla Myint Htun and his troops arrested many civilians to serve as porters. The huge loads of army supplies, however, exceeded the availability of civilian porters. Thus, the troops demanded horses from the civilians to carry the loads.

The operation lasted for three weeks, and villagers from Thantlang township had to endure grueling conditions during the whole operations.

SPDC Soldier Robbed Villagers

Captain Hlaing Hlaing of Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 274 Mindat battalion robbed 10000 Kyats from Pu Dun (Name change for security reason) of Pintia village of Matupi township, Chin State on August 25, 2001.

Pu Dun and his friends were traveling when they met with Captain Hlaing Hlaing and his troops. The soldiers stopped Pu Dun and his friends and search their bags and took 10000 Kyats from Pu Dun. The incident occurred at Khemu stream between Hlungmang and Zawngling village.

SPDC Lt. Colonel Demanded Solar Plate From Chin Villagers

The following report is provided by Pu Than Kip, a 60 year-old farmer from Lungcawi village of Matupi township in Chin State.

Commander of Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274 from Mindat, Lt. Colonel Maung Maung and his troops came to Lungcawi village to patrol around the India-Burma border on 24th August 2001. As soon as they arrived, the Lt. Colonel demanded 4 villagers to porter army supplies. Thus, the village headman has to quickly assemble the villagers to serve as porter. As most of the villagers were working at their farm at the time the army arrived, the village headman had to ask some elderly people to serve(including Pu Sui Kung 55 year old, who was sick at that timer) as porter to meet the Lt. Colonel demand.

Pu Sui Kung and three other villagers had to carry rations and ammunition for Lt. Colonel and his troops for four days. After four days, they came back to Lungcawi village on 28 August 2001.

While Lt. Colonel Maung Maung was in the village, the village headman and some village elders took the opportunity to ask him to give them permission for making a ferryboat to be used for crossing the Bawinu river, which separates India and Burma, for easy access to goods from the India side. Lungcawi area is so remote and isolated from major towns in Burma that it is easier for the villagers to get their commodity supplies from India.

Lt. Colonel told the villagers that if they give him a solar plate and 10000 Kyats, he would give them his permission. Thus the villagers bought a solar plate, which is worth 50000 Kyat and gave it to Lt. Colonel Maung Maung along with 10000 Kyats.

Civilians Forced to Repair Army Camp

Villagers from Matupi township of Chin State were forced to repair army camp in the month of September.

Captain Hlaing Hlaing of Burmese Army from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274 based in Mindat ordered villagers from Sabawgte area to repair Sabawngte army camp.

Nine persons from Pintia village, 10 villagers from Hlungmang village, 10 villagers from Sabawngpi village, and 8 villagers from Tawnglalung village have to repair the fence of Sabawngte army camp from September 10 to 15, 2001.

The work started from 6 AM to 5 PM every day. The villagers have to carry their own tools and rations.

During the third day of their work, 14 year-old boy laborer from Pintia village got bitten by a snake. Even though there is a military medic present in the army camp, the boy did not get any treatment from the army. Thus, villagers treated him with traditional method and carried him to his village.

One village elder said that there was an order issued by the home ministry to prohibiting the practice of forced labor, but the army still used forced labor and called civilian for porter whenever they needed. “It is very difficult to make a living here. We spend most of our labor working for the army”̈ said the villager.

SPDC Soldiers Looted From Civilians

The Burmese military launched offensive against the Chin National Front, the armed opposition group, in the month of August and September. Thus, the Burmese military forced many people to serve as porters during the operation.

A Captain ( name not known ) from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 Falam battalion established a temporary command camp at Ngaphaipi village, Thantlang towship during the military operation. One 21 August 2001, the Captain ordered Fartlang village, Khuapilu village, La-u village, Ngaphaipi village, that each village must bring two tins of rice, five chickens and 8600 Kyats to the camp.

Similarly, Captain Myo Kyaw Htun, Company commander from LIB 274 Vuangtu army camp established temporary army camp between Lungcawipi and Ngaphaipi village. As the camp was on the trade route to Mizoram State of India, Captain Myo Kyaw Htun looted 300000 Kyats from cattle traders on 28 August 2001.

One of the Cattle traders reported the incident to CHRO on 15 September 2001.

 

Can’t Afford Identity Card

In the area around the townships of Tamu and Kalay of Sagaing Division, Western Burma, people are being required to pay a cost of 40,00 Kyats in order to obtain a national identity card. Ordinary citizens such as farmers are finding it difficult to afford the high cost. Possession of national identity card is a mandatory requirement for every Burmese citizen, which must be carried along at all times.

A person has to pay 4000 Kyats in Burmese currency to the department of immigration in order to be issued the national identity card. If the card is destroyed or lost, an additional 6000 Kyats have to be paid to the department for issuance of a new card.

Unable to afford the cost, most farmers have to get reference letter from the village headman whenever they travel, as a temporary substitute for the card. The reference letter is valid up to three months from the date of issue. Village headmen are charging 250 Kyats per reference letter per person. If the immigration department finds out that someone is using expired document, he/she is subject to fine up to 1500 Kyats to 2000 Kyats.

In Burma, registration for national identity card is made mandatory to every citizen and everyone must carry it with him or her at all times especially when traveling. Travelers or visitors have to report their presence to the village or township authority in which they are visiting. Immigration officials and military intelligence conduct door-to-door surprise and random checks at night. Anyone found without proper guest registration or without identity card is subject to fine or arrest.

Burmese Army Force Chin Civilians to Sell Liquor

Chin Christian villages from Thantlang Township, Chin State were forced to sell liquor by the Burmese army in September 2001.

The order to sell liquor was signed by Captain Myo Kyaw Htun, commander of Vuangtu army camp, of Light Infantry Battalion LIB 274, known as Mindat battalion.

Captain Myo Kyaw Htun ordered villages headmen from 28 villages to come to Vuangtu army camp without fail for an important meeting. When the villages¡| headmen, except the headman of Banawhtlang village who was absent, came to Vuangtu army camp, he ordered that each village headman have to sell 48 bottles of liquor in their village as the rate of 120 Kyats per bottle.

The Captain was outraged due to the absence of the headman of Banawhtlang in the meeting. Thus, he sent a warning letter to the headman of Banawhtlang village that if he could not give satisfactory explanation for failing to come to the meeting, he will be automatically considered as a strong supporter of Chin National Front and the army will take necessary action against his village.

The warning of the Burmese Captain terrified all the villagers. Pu Thang Ling 54 year old village elder from Banawhtlang village said that the reason their village could not go to the meeting was due to the fact that the village was facing shortage of food and village elders were busy managing to get food for the village.

 

“You Must Play Soccer” Said SPDC Captain

Captain Myo Kyaw Htun, commander of Vuangtu army camp from Thantlang towship Chin State issued an order that there be a soccer tournament at Vuangtu village on August 14, 2001. He ordered 28 villages from Thantlang towship to participate in the tournament.

The villagers have to bring their own foods and all necessary accessories for the tournament. In addition, each village is ordered to pay 2500 Kyats to the Captain as an admission fee to the competition. He further decreed that selling of liquor during the tournament is compulsory.

Even though August is the busiest time for farmers in Chin State, the villagers do not dare to deny the order and the entire villages, except for Banawhtlang village, were compelled to participate in the competition.

Enraged by the absence of Banawhtlang village, Captain Myo Kyaw Htun sent a warning letter saying that the village headman have to explain in person the reason why they did not participate in the tournament. Besides, Banawhtlang village still have to pay 2500 Kyats admission fee, 3 bags of rice and a pig (a big one), despite their absense.

The headman of Banawhtlang village was so scared to meet with the Captain. So he asked Lulpilung village headman Pu Biak Mang to meet Captain Myo Kyaw Htun on his behalf. Thus, Banawhtlang village sent 10000 Kyats to the Captain through Pu Biak Mang. Pu Biak Mang explained to the Captain that Banawhtalng village were facing food shortage and they were in great trouble and he asked the Captain to reconsider his order regarding Banawhtlang village.

The Captain took 10000 Kyats and told Pu Biak Mang that Banawhtlang village have to send 5000 more kyats and a chicken.

List of Villages Ordered to Participate in the soccer tournament

Banawhtlang, Lulpilung, Salen, Tikir A, Tikir B, Tlangrua A, Tlangrua B, Zephai A, Zephai B, Ngalang, Belhar, Lawngtlang A, Lawngtlang B, Hriphi A, Hriphi B, Vomkua, Khuabung A, Khuabung B, Zabung, Hlam Phei, Hmunhalh, Hriangkhan, Thao, Fartlang, Lungcawi, Ngaphaipi, Ngaphaite, and Lailen.

Order Sent by Vuangtu Army Camp Commander to Banawhtlang Village

( CHRO translated it from original Burmese )

Order

To.

Banawhtlang village

All the youth representatives have a meeting on 28 July 2001. Even though Banawhtlang village have received the order, they failed to come to the meeting. This letter is to inform you that there will be a soccer tournament at Vuangtu army camp on 14 August 2001. You must bring 3 bags of rice, a ball and a pig.

Admission fee: 2500 Kyats

First Prize : 15000 Kyats

Second Prize : 10000 Kyats

Third Prize : 7000 Kyats

Sd./

Company commander

Vuangtu Camp

To.

Village headman

Banawhtlang village

Date 29. 7. 2001

You failed to obey my order to send the youth from your village. We sent you several orders to come to the camp, but still ignored the order of the army. The army considered you and your village as strong supporter of the underground Chin National Front. As soon as you get this order, you must come to the camp without fail. If you fail to come to the camp, I have to report the case to my superior and will take necessary actions.

Sd./

Company commander

Vuangtu Camp

 

ICRC Suggests Some Prisoners Not Relevant To Hard Labor

November 2, 2001

Some of the prisoners are going to be sent back to original prisons from hard labor camps of number one “new life project” near Indo-Burma border due to suggestion of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Local Burmese doctors will under take the prisoners from Thanan, Myothit, Bandula and Razagyo number two camps a medical check up before ICRC’s visit to these camps. Those who are not in suitable health conditions will be sent back to original prisons for food substitution, rest and medical treatments, mentioned in an order released by Directorate of Prison Affairs under Ministry of Home Affairs on October 25.

Prisoners who are in good health from Kalay prison will be replaced in these sent back prisoners, also mentioned in the order.

ICRC visited to so call “New Life Projects” in Kabal valley near Indo-Burma border from September 1 to September 19 and suggested more than 130 prisoners in these camps were not suitable for the hard labor. The ICRC delegation visited Oak-pho, Sayasan and Razagyo number one camps in the same new life project number one.

More than 120 prisoners from these three camps were sent back to their original prisons and about 200 prisoners from Monywa prison were replaced in the camps, NMG reported in a previous article.

Although ICRC visited and suggested for better situation in hard labor camps, five prisoners from Razagyo number one camp ran away on October 25, while they were doing their work under tight security. The security guards rearrested those run away prisoners and beat them, a source from Indo-Burma border reported. All of five prisoners as well as other 6 who were alleged to discuss for escape were put in shackles and halters.

ICRC made two visits during September to hard labor camps and made suggestion on the situation of the camps, mentioned in leaked reports. ICRC found out that the food given to prisoners were not good enough in both quality and quantity, drinking water is not safe, prisoners do not get rest including who suffering from illnesses, improper health care system and prisoners are frequently beaten. ICRC suggested to prison authorities of Burma to improve these conditions, NMG learnt from the reports leaked out.

All together eight “New Life Projects”, all over Burma, were opened for the prisoners, who are charged for imprisonment with hard labor, with the instruction of Senior General Than Shwe in 1994.

Burmese regime is using these labors to implement its long-term agricultural projects. The mortality rate in these hard labor camps ranges from 24 to 30 percent because of continuous hard labor, malaria and insufficient food, according to the prison authorities reports.

Network Media Group

Letter & Press Release:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Letter To The Burmese Regime

11 December 2001

Senior General Than Shwe

State Peace and Development Council

Ministry of Defense

Signal Pagoda Road

Yangon, Myanmar

Dear General Than Shwe,

We were gratified to learn of your public statements in response to our call for the release of our colleague Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, full respect for the human rights of the citizens of your country and agreement to extend confidence building talks with Aung San Suu Kyi to include dialogue with the leaders of political parties and ethnic minorities.

It is heartening to learn of your belief that we are all on “the winning side” in that we share “the common objective of creating Myanmar to become a fully functioning democracy.” Your statement declared: “Today we are in the process of joining hands walking on the same path toward our common objective while successfully maintaining the hard-won peace stability and national unity.”

We are concerned with the misunderstanding that you report exists between the National League for Democracy and the Government of Myanmar. We are of the strong belief that misunderstandings can best be resolved through open and respectful dialogue. We are willing and prepared to support this process in any way. To do so, we would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience. We respectfully request that you agree to welcome a delegation of Nobel Peace Laureates to your country so that we might meet with you and your colleagues as well as with our colleague, Aung San Suu Kyi.

We sincerely believe that the “path toward our common objective” to which you refer can be made more open by your willingness to agree to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political detainees immediately. It will also be enhanced by your agreement to move forward with a genuine and substantive dialogue that includes leaders of political parties and ethnic minorities with the aim of achieving national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy.

Such action will not only move your nation closer to realizing the common goal of a fully functioning democracy, but also to considerably enhancing your standing in the world. We look forward to supporting you in this process and to the full integration of Burma into the international community.

Sincerely and respectfully yours,

Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu

Chair, Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi

And the People of Burma

 

Burma’s Democracy Leader Still Under House Arrest, Ten Years After Winning Nobel Peace Prize

For Immediate Release

Aung San Suu Kyi urges end to Canadian investment in Burma because of dictatorship’s human rights abuses, collaboration with heroin traffickers

OTTAWA, December 7, 2001. Ten years ago on December 10, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s democracy movement, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her remarkable non-violent struggle against one of the world’s worst military dictatorships. Today, she continues her struggle, while waiting for her chance to take the office she legally won, in a landslide general election, more than a decade ago.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won an overwhelming victory in her country’s democratic elections in 1990. But instead of handing over the reins of government, Burma’s military rulers illegally nullified the election results and kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest where she has spent most of her time since 1989.

In the ten years since then, the military regime has earned continuous international condemnation for its widespread use of forced labour, its violent campaign against ethnic minorities, and its complicity in the multi-billion-dollar heroin trade. As a result, the dictatorship is an international pariah with few friends.

But in spite of these abuses, the dictatorship remains firmly in power. An important reason for this is that only one country, the United States, has imposed sanctions against investing in Burma. With no firm rules prohibiting investment in Burma, companies from most countries, including Canada, are free to choose for themselves.

In a video smuggled out of Burma in 1999, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the people of Canada, thanking them for their continued support of Burma’s democracy movement. She also repeated her call for Canadians not to do business in Burma, stressing that “investment only benefits the military authorities and their allies…we do not think that investment in our country at this time can do our country any good.”

She has a good point. Foreign companies investing in Burma are usually steered into joint ventures with state-owned enterprises, which are run by the generals. Some Canadian companies have heeded Aug San Suu Kyi’s urging to cut business ties with the Burmese military dictatorship. These companies include Wal-Mart Canada, Sears Canada, and The Bay.

However, many other Canadian companies continue to do business with the Burmese military. One of these, Marshall Macklin Monaghan (MMM) Ltd. of Toronto, helped to build the Mandalay airport, even though the military forcibly relocated villagers who lived near the site, and forced other local villagers to help build the road to the airport.

Another Canadian company, Ivanhoe Mines, which is in a 50-50 partnership with the dictatorship in the largest foreign mining operation in Burma, is a likely beneficiary of the regime’s use of forced labour. Testimony from local villagers indicates that the military forcibly relocated people from a total of eight villages in order to make way for the Monywa mine.

Although the Canadian government officially discourages investment in Burma, in reality Ivanhoe receives generous tax incentives for the Monywa mine operation.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for sanctions against the dictatorship echoes that of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and others, in their successful struggle against the South African apartheid regime. Last November, the International Labour Organization (ILO) called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to make sure they are not helping to perpetuate the system of forced labour there. Reports to the ILO say that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefiting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of its citizens are subjected each year.

Although Burma is thousands of kilometres away, literally on the other side of the planet, Canadians pay a heavy—and direct—social price because of the failure to impose comprehensive sanctions against the military dictatorship. According to the RCMP, most of the heroin imported to Canada comes from Burma. In spite of strong international pressure to stop the heroin trade, the Burmese generals allow convicted drug lords to live freely and even to launder drug money through state-owned banks.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, launched fifty years ago, signaled the beginning of the end of Japan’s military expansion in China and Southeast Asia. Four years later, the defeat of the Japanese empire heralded a hopeful new era for the people of the region. And yet, over fifty years after Japan’s defeat, Burma still suffers under a dictatorship every bit as harsh and arbitrary as the Japanese occupation. And, like the Afghan Taliban regime, it is universally known as a corrupt and brutal collection of thugs who condone, and even profit from, the sale of heroin to the west.

As people across Canada prepare to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Aung San Suu

Kyi, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, they will also reflect on the inconsistency of Canadian policy toward rogue states.

At a time when the international community is working to strengthen money-laundering laws to fight terrorism, the military regime in Burma still makes it possible to launder profits from the drug industry. And notorious Burmese drug lords, indicted in the United States, continue to live freely and comfortably under Rangoon’s wing. Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters across Canada call for her immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all other political prisoners in Burma. When this happens, there can be tripartite dialogue between the NLD, Burma’s military regime, and ethnic minority representatives.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Laureate and a prominent opponent of the former apartheid regime, has urged the international community and fellow Nobel Peace Laureates to salute and support Burma’s democracy leader and the people of Burma in their non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy.

Canadians will join Burma supporters all over the world in marking this important anniversary. There will be celebrations in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa.

For more information, please contact:

Canadian Friends of Burma, Ottawa, (613) 237-8056.

 

Facts & Arguments:

Canadian Ties To Burma’s Dictatorship

Although Burma is thousands of kilometres away, Canadians are very much connected to this Southeast Asian country of 50 million people. Ever since Burma’s military regime opened the country up to foreign trade and investment in 1989 for the first time in three decades, Canada’s corporate sector has been conducting business there. These commercial links have increased steadily over the past decade, rising sharply in the past few years to over $300 million of investment and $60 million worth of trade at the present time.

Burma’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the international community not to do business in her country under the current military regime. Leader of the National League for Democracy, which won an overwhelming victory in the country’s 1990 national elections, Aung San Suu Kyi stresses that foreign business only props up the military dictatorship and does not help the majority of Burma’s citizens.

More recently, reports to the ILO say that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefiting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of citizens are subjected each year. In response to this problem, last November, the International Labour Organization (ILO) called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to make sure they are not helping to foster the system of forced labour there.

Most of the heroin that comes into Canada originates in Burma according to the RCMP. Heroin has had devastating effects on people=s lives in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The military dictatorship does not just turn a blind eye to the heroin traffic, it supports by letting convicted drug lords roam free and by allowing heroin profits to be laundered through state-owned banks controlled by the military regime. Moreover, the report Out of Control 2, produced by the Southeast Asian Information Network identifies heroin refineries that are located next to army bases and others, which are partially-owned by senior Burmese military generals.

Canadian Policy:

Although concerned with the deteriorating human rights situation in Burma, the Government of Canada continues to allow Canadian business in Burma. In August 1997, Canada removed Burma’s preferential tariff eligibility and restricted Canadian exports to Burma, to encourage the military regime to enter into meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the democracy movement.

Despite these measures, imports to Canada from Burma have more than tripled in the past four years. Last year’s import value of $60.794 million was more than double the value of the previous year (Industry Canada).

The Canadian government imposes absolutely no restriction on investment, which has shot up to over $300 million to date mostly in Burma’s mining and gas sectors. CFOB’s most recent research indicates that, since 1997, at least 11 new Canadian companies have invested in or expanded already-existing investment in Burma[1]. The Government of Canada maintainsthat with regard to investment, their hands are tied because of the Special Economic Mea! sures Act (SEMA). The recent ILO resolution, however, now fully justifies triggering the SEMA to ban investment.[2]

Canadian Corporations in Burma:

The largest foreign mining venture in Burma, Ivanhoe Mines, is registered in Canada’s Yukon to take advantage of generous tax incentives provided by the Territorial government. Invanhoe is involved in a copper mine, which is a 50/50 joint venture with Burma’s military controlled Mining Enterprise No.1″.

In research conducted by CFOB, testimony was received from Burmese villagers[3] stating that eight villages were forcibly relocated in June 2000 to make way for the Monywa copper mine’s expansion. Ivanhoe has already invested $150 million in the project and is looking for a further $400 million for its expansion. In addition, nearly one million workers toiled on the building of a railway line from Monywa to the district centre of Pakokku, while another 5,000 villagers had to contribute their labour to the irrigation development around the Thazi dam near Monywa. The proximity of these infrastructur! e projects to the mine would make it extremely difficult for Ivanhoe to avoid benefitting from forced labour.

Another significant Canadian commercial venture in Burma is the $24 million contract that Canadian Helicopters International signed in 1997 for five years involving two aircraft operating from Rangoon and a third remotely operated. Previously, CHC provided helicopter services for a French oil company named Total, for its work on the Yadana pipeline which was constructed with the help of forced labour.[4]

Currently, one of Total Oil’s foreign partners in the project, the American oil giant, Unocal, is being sued by 14 villagers who had been living in the vicinity of the pipeline and suffered terrible abuses by the military regime in connection with the project’s construction and security. In September 2001, a US Federal Court judge stated that evidence suggested Unocal knew about and benefitted from forced labour on the pipeline.

Forced Labour in Burma: A Modern Form of Slavery

One of the most pervasive human rights violations in Burma is the military regime’s system of forced labour. Called a modern form of slavery, by the United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO), forced labour is used on a multitude of construction projects in numerous industries, from repairing tourist sites to carrying artillery for the army during military offensives.

The ILO took the strongest action it has ever taken towards a member country, against Burma, due to the country’s forced labour situation. In November 2000, the ILO called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to ensure that they are not helping to perpetuate the system of forced labour there. Reports to the ILO state that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefitting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of its citizens are subjected each year.

Generally any person in Burma can be forced into hard labour at any time by military authorities, men, women, children, the elderly, the sick and pregnant women. Forced labour is often accompanied by beatings, rape, deprivation of food, rest, and medical care.

ILO Report on Forced Labour:

After 30 years of criticism by the ILO of forced labour in Burma, in 1997, a commission of inquiry was set up to discover the facts. In July 1998, they released their findings in a 392 page document distilled from nearly 10,000 pages of testimonies and eye witness reports.

A year after the report was published, the military had still not taken any measures to fulfil the report’s recommendations to address the widespread use of forced labour. Therefore, in an unprecedented move, the ILO banned Burma from future meetings and from any future support until the regime takes significant steps towards positive change.

Report Excerpts:

There is abundant evidence before the Commission showing the pervasive use of forced labour imposed on the civilian population of Myanmar by the authorities and the military for portering, construction, maintenance and servicing of military camps, other work in support of the military, work on agriculture, logging and other production projects undertaken by the authorities or the military, sometimes for the profit of private individuals, the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, and bridges, and other infrastructure work..

… it appears that unfettered powers of military and government officers to exact forced labour from the civilian population are taken for granted…the manifold exactions of forced labour often give rise to the extortion of money…also to threats to life and security, extrajudicial punishment, physical abuse, beatings, torture, rape and murder.

Forced labour in Myanmar is almost never remunerated or compensated, secret directives notwithstanding, but on the contrary often goes hand in hand with the exaction of money, food and other supplies from the civilian population.

All the information and evidence before the Commission shows utter disregard for the safety and health as well as the basic needs of the people performing forced or compulsory labour…

A state which supports, instigates, accepts or tolerates forced labour on its territory commits a wrongful act…Whatever may be the position in national law…any person who violates the prohibition of recourse to forced labour under the Convention is guilty of an international crime, that is also, if committed in a widespread or systematic manner, a crime against humanity.

The Commission considers…the establishment of a government freely chosen by the people and the submission of all public authorities to the rule of law are, in practice indispensable prerequisites for the suppression of forced labour in Myanmar.

This report reveals a saga of untold misery and suffering, oppression and exploitation of large sections of the population. The government, the military and the administration seem oblivious to the human rights of the people, their actions gravely offend human dignity and have a debasing effect on the civil society, where human rightsare denied or violated in any part of the world it is bound to have a chain effect on other parts of the world and it is therefore of vital interest to the international community.

Burma’s Illicit Drug Economy

Since the ascendance of the current military regime in 1988, Burma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of heroin. The current military regime profits from, protects and supports Burma’s illicit drug industry.

The regime allows notorious Burmese drug lords, such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, to operate as legitimate businessmen in Burma. The South East Asian Information Network (SAIN) in a 1998 report, listed five army regiments with headquarters or outposts alongside heroin refineries. It reports that bulk heroin exports from the refinery at Paletwa in north-west Burma were carried by army helicopter into Bangladesh, there being no roads for transportation. Dr. Desmond Ball, an Australian researcher, identified in 1999 three infantry battalions that, between them were maintaining six heroin refineries along the drug routes in north-eastern Burma. He also identifies senior generals that were part owners of heroin refineries at the time of his research.

Money Laundering:

Desperate for foreign currency, the Burmese military regime has created legislation that helps launder the proceeds of drugs. In levying a 40 per cent tax rate on declared assets, the regime makes no inquiry into the source of the assets. Moreover, Burma’s military junta openly allows profits from the drug trade to be channeled through military-controlled companies such as banks and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises. As a result of this money laundering, illicit drug profits permeate Burma’s economy.

In such an environment, foreign companies have no way to ensure their operations in Burma are clean. A prime example of this problem was the case of Wal-Mart Canada, which was found in 2000 to be importing from a clothing company in Burma owned by the notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han.

Burma Heroin in Canada:

Canadians are not immune from the scourge of Burma’s heroin trade. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP states that most of the heroin coming into Canada originates in Burma. Meanwhile, heroin has had devastating effects on people’s lives in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Therefore, Canadian companies which support Burma’s military regime through their business there, are inevitably and ironically contributing to social problems in Canada.

In 1997, Burma was responsible for about 60 per cent of the word’s supply of heroin. Production of raw opium exceeded 2500 tonnes, or more than double the yield in 1988 when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the forerunner of the SPDC took power. Opium poppy cultivation in Burma has also increased from some 92,300 hectares to more than 200,000 under the SPDC (Dr. Desmond Ball,”Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the global drug trade! ” in Asia-Pacific Magazine, No.14, 1999).

The regime has created legislation which helps launder the proceeds of drugs. The Burmese regime levies a 40 % tax rate on declared assets other than real property, but as long a! s the tax is paid, there is no inquiry into the source of the assets (US State Department, 1998). Also banks launder dubious money in exchange for a 25 % to 40% fee. In 1996, there was US $250 million of unexplained investment attracted by the scheme (The IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development in the Sunday Times [London] May 10, 1998).

Money laundering and the return of narcotic profits laundered elsewhere are very significant factors in the overall Burmeseeconomy and are officially sanctioned by the junta. The SPDC openly allows profits from the drug trade to be channeled into private and public enterprises through Burma’s national company, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises (MOGE) and the banks. (Leslie Kean and Dennis Bernstein, People of the Opiate in the Nation, Dec. 16, 1996).

A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cites large expenditures unaccounted for by the junta: Despite the fact that Burma’s foreign exchange reserves from 1991-1993 were only approximately $300 million, the SLORC purchased arms worth $1.2 billion during the period (The Nation, Dec. 1996).!

A Unless there is a democratically elected civilian government that can win the support of all the Burmese people, including the ethnic minorities, progress on the drug front will be impossible. (Michael Jendrzejeczyk, Director of Human Rights Watch/Asia, the New York Times, Feb.12, 1993).

A major dimension of the corruption [of the military dictatorship in Burma] is the involvement of the regime – from the most senior members of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) which rules the country, down to infantry soldiers stationed in border areas – in drug trafficking. (Dr. Desmond Ball, Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the global drug trade in Asia-Pacific Magazine, No.14, 1999).

# The opium-heroin trade in Burma is a sophisticated, world-wide multi-billion dollar business which requires a large infrastructure, especially for refining, transporting and protecting the product, from Burma’s borders to its neighbouring countries. (Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, The War on Drugs and Drug Policies; paper distributed at the International Conference on Drugs, 1996).

# US anti-drug assistance to the Burmese government has failed in the past, and in the last four years Burmese authorities have made no discernible effort to improve their performance…SLORC has been part of the problem, not the solution. (Robert S. Gelbard, former US assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law-enforcement affairs, Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov.21, 1996).

The United States: We are increasingly concerned that Burma’s drug traffickers, with official encouragement, are laundering their profits through Burmese banks and companies–some of which are joint ventures with foreign businesses.It is hard to imagine a lasting solution to this region’s narcotics problem without a lasting solution to Burma’s political crisis. (Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, Jul.1997).

Britain: Burma is the largest single world producer of opium, and it has achieved that infamous position precisely because it has a government that does not act against the drug barons. It is not only a deeply repressive regime, but is also a deeply irresponsible regime in that it is one of the few governments in the world whose members are prepared to profit out of the drugs trade rather than to seek to suppress it (Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary, South-China Morning Post, Sept.2,1998).

Thailand: Thai anti-narcotics officials have been quoted as saying that the Burmese military are actively supporting the United Wa State Army believed to be one of the main drug trafficking organizations in the Golden Triangle (The BBC, Jul 25,1999)

Burma’s Military-Controlled Economy

International investment may help open societies and bring democratic change in some countries. In Burma, however, foreign investment helps perpetuate the cruelty of a repressive unelected junta. While the majority of Burmese receive no benefit from foreign enterprise, foreign exchange allows the military to maintain its rule by force of arms.

The military regime’s own figures state that expenditure on defence since 1988 to the present had increased from 22.35 per cent to49.93 per cent. During the same period, spending on health-care and education had dropped from 4.71 per cent and 12.9 per cent to 2.53 and 6.98, respectively.

Full foreign ownership of companies operating in Burma is generally forbidden and almost all large investment in Burma is carried out through joint ventures with the military regime, notably the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH). The UMEH is owned in part (40%) by the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Procurement, whose main function is to import armaments. The other 60% of UMEH shares is reserved for active and retired military officers, army-owned business enterprises and friendship societies, including veteran groups.

Since the ascendance of the current military regime in 1988, Burma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of heroin. This very fact is just one of the many examples that point to the regime’s profiting, protection and support of Burma’s illicit drug industry.

The regime allows notorious Burmese drug lords, such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, to operate as legitimate businessmen in Burma. The South East Asian Information Network (SAIN) in a 1998 report, listed five army regiments with headquarters or outposts alongside heroin refineries. It reports that bulk heroin exports from the refinery at Paletwa in north-west Burma were carried by army helicopter into Bangladesh, there being no roads for transportation. Dr. Desmond Ball, an Australian researcher, identified in 1999 three infantry battalions that, between them were maintaining six heroin refineries along the drug routes in north-eastern Burma. He also identifies senior generals that were part owners of heroin refineries at the time of his research.

Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratically elected National League for Democracy have been calling for sanctions against their own country since it became obvious that foreign investment was only benefiting the military authorities and their allies. In a video smuggled out of Burma in August 1999, Aung San Suu Kyi stated that:

“We do not think that investment in our country at this time can do our country any good…Investment made at the right time in the right way could be of enormous benefit not only to the people of Burma but to thos who are investing in Burma. But that time has not yet come.”

Just as the South African anti-apartheid movement called for economic sanctions against their own country, Burma’s democracy movement is calling for an end to foreign financial support to the brutal military dictatorship.

The Situation of Women in Burma

Like all their fellow citizens, Burma’s women face the day-to-day struggle of life under military rule in Burma. But the country’s women also face particular problems and abuse on account of their gender. Apart from the general maltreatment and discrimination directed against women in their society, Burmese women and girls, especially in ethnic minority areas, are faced with the constant danger of being raped or trafficked into the sex industry.

Sexual Assault:

Women are subjected to rape and other sexual assaults in a variety of contexts; in their villages and fields; during flight; while they are serving as forced labourers or forced porters for the army; and under assorted pretexts in which soldiers abuse their authority and claim to be checking women’s documents. Women are raped by Burmese soldiers in their own homes, while they are internally displaced, and while they are on their way to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. These abuses have escalated over the past decade under because soldiers have become used to taking what they want under the current military regime which allows them to do so with impunity. (See School of Rape by Earthrights In! ternational, Convention for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Shadow Report)

Trafficking into Sex Industry:

The burgeoning sex industry in Burma and trafficking of Burmese women to Thailand and other countries also gives rise to enormous health difficulties, most notably HIV and AIDS. As well, Burmese sex workers (often coerced into the industry) in Burma, in Thailand, India and Bangladesh suffer from high rates of sexually transmitted disease and are often victims of beatings and other physical assaults.

An estimated 80,000 women from Burma are engaged in prostitution in Thailand. Along the Thai-Burma border, agents recruit women with false promises of providing them with employment or legal resident status in Thailand or force them into prostitution under threats to their lives. Many brothels are surrounded by electric fences and armed guards to avoid escape. They rarely have access to heath care or HIV education. Their rate of HIV infection is much higher than among Thai prostitutes.

Women’s Health:

Maternal motility rate in 1993 was 140 per 100,000 live births. In 1987, abortions accounted for 52 per cent of all registered maternal deaths. Though the practice is illegal in Burma, induced abortion is resorted to in the absence of knowledge and other means for family planning. Other causes of high material mortality are malaria, malnutrition,goiter, severe anemia, sexually transmitted diseases and the limited coverage of trained birth attendants in remote areas.

According to UNICEF, the national infant mortality rate in 1996 was 105 per live births, which can be compared to 33 in Vietnam, 31 in Thailand and 11 in Malaysia. One million children are reportedly malnourished. 9 to 12 percent of them severely so. The high rate of babies with birth weight below 2,300 grams is probably reflection of the high malnutrition levels among pregnant women. Under the current regime which took power in 1988, these figures have likely increased since health care has deteriorated significantly. Moreover, this data is not completely accurate because it does! not include information from Burma’s ethnic civil war areas, where health conditions are even worse, because UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations have limited access.

[1]Ivanhoe Mines, Aeroground Group Services, Cavern International Industries, East Asia Gold Corporation, First Dynasty Mines, International Bio-Recovery, Leeward Capital Corp, Marshall Macklin Monaghan, Northrock Resources, Prime Resources Management, Suzuki Canada

[2]This is because the ILO resolution responds to the Act=s allowance that a resolution from an international body, such as the United Nations, empowers such an action. AThe Governor in Council may, for the purpose of implementing a decision, resolution or recommendation of an international organization of states or association of states, o! f which Canada is a member, that calls on its members to take economic measures against a foreign state.

[3]Individual identities are not disclosed to protect their security

[4]ATotal Denial [email protected] by Earthrights International, 2000

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