- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

Reconciliation depends on prisoner release

BANGKOK Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is making a new plea for the outside world to pressure Burma's military junta into freeing all of the hundreds of dissidents it holds.

The military has released some 300 opponents over the past two years, including Mrs. Suu Kyi, the democracy activist who was let out of house arrest May 6. But more than 1,000 dissidents are estimated to remain in prisons.

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In a videotaped statement distributed in Bangkok on Wednesday, Mrs. Suu Kyi insisted that all must be freed quickly if progress is to be made in reconciliation talks in Burma. Mrs. Suu Kyi was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her pro-democracy campaign.

Scores reported dead in South Asian floods

KATMANDU, Nepal Monsoon rains that have already devastated large tracts of South Asia have killed at least 55 more persons in Nepal and India after a new surge of floods and landslides, officials said Wednesday.

A Nepalese Home Ministry official said 17 persons had been killed across the country in fresh floods this week. He said the death toll in Nepal since the monsoon season began in mid-July had now reached 333, with the worst affected areas in the central and eastern districts of the country.

In India, 13 million people have been affected by the floods.

World is watching East Timor trials

JAKARTA, Indonesia The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia warned Jakarta Wednesday that America and the world were closely watching East Timor human rights trials and the result would help determine if full U.S.-Indonesian military ties are restored.

Speaking at a media briefing to follow up last week's visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Ambassador Ralph Boyce also said he hoped Indonesia did not misinterpret a $50 million police and military aid package as a sign relations had been normalized.

The United States largely cut military ties with Jakarta after a wave of violence that swept East Timor when it voted to break from Indonesian rule in 1999.

Thai tourism facing environmental crisis

PHUKET, Thailand Thailand's resort islands are facing an environmental crisis, overwhelmed by development and the demands for water, and sewage and garbage disposal generated by millions of tourists, experts say.

Koh Phi Phi, the jewellike twin isles made famous by the Hollywood film "The Beach," have been so badly polluted that the tourist police have proposed closing them down for up to two years to repair the damage.

Samui Island, which burst on to the tourism scene in the 1980s and received 837,000 international visitors last year, is running perilously low on water, and last month, the waterworks opened its pipes for just half an hour a day.

And on Phuket, Thailand's biggest and most popular island destination, environmentalists despair about the damage to the reefs and endangered species caused by decades of exploitation of its natural resources.

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