Written by U Ne Oo on 2001-04-17

Dr U Ne Oo

18 Shannon Place

Adelaide SA 5000


17 April 2001

Mr. Yoheo Kono

Minister for Foreign Affairs

2-2-1 Kasumigaseki

Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0013


Dear Minister:

re: Japan ODA and Debt relief program to Burma

I am a Burmese national currently residing in Adelaide Australia. I should like to express my concerns regarding with the Government of Japan's proposed resumption of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to the military junta in Burma. The Kyodo news reported that Japan will grant USD 24 million to repair the Baluchaung hydro-power station in Karenni State in eastern Burma. I understand that the Government of Japan had cut off government to government aid to Burma since 1988 general uprising. I belive Government of Japan resuming financial aid to Burmese military junta at this time is inappropriate for many reasons.

Firstly, there has been no progress made by the Burmese military government on improving the situation of human rights in Burma. The military government is refusing to cooperate with International Labour Organisation with respect to ceasing the practice of forced labour in Burma. Many political prisoners who pose no threat to peace and stability are continue to be held in prisons. For many years, millions of Burmese refugees and displaced people have continue to languished in neighbouring countries.

In recent months, the international media has been reporting about political discussions taking place between the Opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Burmese military junta. However, there has been no official announcement made regarding with such political discussion especially inside Burma, by the junta as well as Opposition NLD. Therefore, it is concluded that such news of dialogue has been manufactured by the junta so as to reduce international pressure. Therefore, the Government of Japan resuming ODA to Burma at this time will be totally premature and it will not positively contribute the process of democratisation in Burma.

I am particularly concerned that, as of recent, the Burmese army is planning to launch a military offensive against the Karenni rebels. We are very much aware that the Burmese junta has been willing to crush the ethnic rebels by military means; and I feel sure that junta will take every opportunity in doing so. As such, the Government of Japan granting of ODA will become an excuse for the military junta to crush these Karenni ethnic rebels.

Finally, I urge the Government of Japan to refrain from granting any form of ODA unless tangible progress are made within the area of human rights and democratisation in Burma. In addition, I request the Government of Japan to suspend the granting of debt relief program to the Burmese junta.

In closing, I thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours respectfully,

Sd. U Ne Oo

Japan mulling grant for Burma to repair power station

TOKYO April 9 Kyodo - Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told visiting Burma Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win on Monday that Japan is considering offering the country a grant to repair an aging hydroelectric power station, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

Kono did not specify the amount or timing of the aid, but suggested it signals that Tokyo wants to encourage dialogue that has been initiated between the military junta and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the official said.

''It is important that the dialogue proceeds while gaining the understanding of the international community,'' Kono reportedly told Khin Maung Win.

The official said the project amount would possibly be around 3 billion to 3.5 billion yen in scope and that if everything proceeds smoothly the grant would be approved by the Japanese cabinet by the end of this year.

The Japanese government will send a mission to Burma in the near future to study the specifics of the planned project and determine the exact amount needed to carry out the repairs on the No. 2 power station in Baluchaung, near the border with Thailand, according to the official.

The grant, if realized, would follow Japan's pledge in late March to donate 849 million yen to Burma to finance a water-supply project and provide medical equipment. The pledge marked the first Japanese grant to Burma since 1995 when Tokyo donated 1,625 million yen to Rangoon's campaign to expand facilities for nursing.

Bangkok Post: Burmese poised for attack on Karenni

April 11, 2001

Mae Hong Son-Thousands of Burmese troops have been deployed near the border to mount an offensive against the last stronghold of ethnic Karenni rebels.

A border source said more than 1,000 guerrillas of the Karenni National Progressive Party were preparing to defend their stronghold in Burma's Kayah state, opposite Mae Hong Son.

Four Burmese battalions have been deployed in the Khun Huay Dua area, opposite Muang district.

The Karen National Union and the Shan State Army are also prepared to help their Karenni allies in the fighting, which is expected to force more than 1,000 refugees into Thailand next week.

Thai soldiers of the 7th Infantry Regiment have been placed on alert.}

Letter to Mr Yoheo Kono, Japanese FM