NEWS:Myanmar General Defends Country

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Subject: NEWS:Myanmar General Defends Country
From: Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.org)
Date: Thu Jun 24 1999 - 08:11:51 EDT


Wednesday June 23 5:29 AM ET

Myanmar General Defends Country

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Contrary to reports, money laundering and
trafficking in women do not
exist in Myanmar, the military government's intelligence chief insisted
Wednesday.

Gen. Khin Nyunt made the comments at the opening of the second annual
Association of Southeast
Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime.

``There are stringent regulations against money laundering and,
therefore, allegations against Myanmar
of such practices are completely without basis,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt, nonetheless, conceded that money laundering and trafficking
of women, drugs and arms
were threats to regional stability and urged the 10-member group to come
up with measures to combat
illegal activities.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar,
the Philippines, Thailand,
Singapore and Vietnam. Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has been
ruled by the military since
1962.

International law enforcement agencies have been skeptical of Khin
Nyunt's claims.

Myanmar is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw material for
heroin. Many opium warlords
led ethnic insurgencies against the government. In order to end them, the
government has negotiated
cease-fire deals with the warlords and their armies.

Critics have charged that the deals allow the warlords to invest their
drug money in businesses in
Yangon and around the country, and perhaps even continue drug
trafficking.

Khin Nyunt said since 1993, the government has seized more than $274,000
in financial assets and
property from drug dealers.

He also said allegations that Myanmar is involved in the trafficking of
women are false ``and have been
spread by malicious elements. We consider such trafficking a heinous
crime and have brought the full
force of the law to prevent it.''

Women from Myanmar have been found in Thai brothels in increasingly large
numbers in recent years,
according to women's groups and Thai officials.

The Thai-Myanmar border is porous and smuggling of all varieties of
contraband is common.


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