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Burma Focus, Vol.4,No.12,Dec94

Subject: Burma Focus, Vol.4,No.12,Dec94

/* Written  2:16 am  Jan 18, 1994 by absdf@xxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.seasia */
/* ---------- "Burma Focus, Vol.4,No.12,Dec94" ---------- */
*                                                               *
*                         BURMA FOCUS                           *
*                                                               *
*      Published By the All Burma Students' Democratic Front    *
*                       (Europe Office)                         *
*                    Bi-monthly News Letter                     *
*                                                               *
*  Vol.4                     No.12             31 December 1993 *
Backing the SLORC !
Investors Pledge for Billion Dollar Projects
1994 will begin with more than $2 billion already earmarked for
foreign investment in Burma despite call for economic boycott on
Burma because of its poor human rights standard.
According to the junta's planning and economic development
minister, Brig-Gen David Abel, the foreign investment pledges are
in addition to some 78 projects worth more than $1 billion already
under way.
US and Thai companies are the leading investors, pouring in twice 
as much money as third-and fourth-ranked Singapore and Japan,
according to official figure.  The Netherlands and Austria lead the
European investors.
The oil and gas sector accounts for $381 million, more than one-
third of the total, followed by hotels and tourism, US$287 million
and mining US$155 million.  
Burmese junta is hoping that island-hopping, golfing plus Burma's 
culture relies and natural beauty will help tourists forget the
brutal suppression of 1988's uprising.  Last year tourists arrivals
had edged up to some 11,400 and the junta, seeing the thriving
tourist industries in neighboring Thailand and Malaysia among
others, decided that it wanted a bigger share of tourist dollars.
Junta hopes to declare a Year of Tourism in 1995 but is putting off
a final decision until mid-1994.
Agriculture, which dominates the domestic economy and is a key
sector target for future investments, accounts for only $2.69
million in current projects.
Livestock and fisheries, forestry and industry are other sectors
which have already attracted significant foreign investments,
officials said.  With about 75% of the world's teak reserves and a
large quantity of other hardwoods, the Junta has invited up to 100%
foreign investment in everything from sawmills to furniture
factories. Analysts say, the junta have eased their control over
the economy but are reluctant to relax their grip on the country's
political life.  However, much of the population has insufficient
access to water, health care and adequate food supplies, according
to experts.(Sources#Bangkok Post, Dec 25, 27 & The Nation, Dec 20,
Inside Story
Junta Tightens Grip on Power
BANGKOK, UPI, Dec 23 - Burma's military government, despite growing
international pressure to restore democracy, is poised to
strengthen its control in 1994 through a new constitution.
The authoritarian regime, called the State Law and Order
Restoration Council(SLORC), in September approved the "basic
principles" of the new charter, drawn up by a convention of about
700 council-appointed delegates meeting intermittently since
The principles mandate "genuine multi-party democracy," but they
also call for an executive president chosen not by parliament, but
by an electoral college and the armed forces.
The new constitution also would allow the military to manage its
affairs independently and permit the armed forces commander to take
power in times of national emergency.
Foreign residents in Rangoon expect a new government to emerge in 
Burma by late 1994 or early 1995, once the constitution is prepared
and adopted. But they say the country would only have the semblance
of democracy -- the military would hold the reins of power.
A report released in October by the London-based human rights group
Amnesty International said the council was also holding hundreds of
other political opponents in jail under atrocious conditions and
subjecting members of ethnic groups to forced labor, torture, rape
and summary execution.
A United Nations resolution on Burma in December also expressed
"grave concern" over human rights abuses by the council and said
the regime had made "no evident progress toward turning over power
to a freely elected civilian government." It also noted the
national convention drawing up the new constitution excluded most
of the representatives elected in 1990.
The National Convention has been on and off for the past nine
months but the drafting of the new constituion is not making any
progress," one dissident said. The last meeting was held in Sept
for a week and the meeting will reconvene on 17 January 1994.
SLORC Rejects talks with Alliance 
Junta rejected the latest proposal for peace talk by the Democratic
Alliance of Burma(DAB), an alliance of over 20 armed and unarmed
anti-junta groups.
The Burmese military attache to Thailand, Col Thein Swe said the
SLORC chairman Gen Than Shwe "officially rejected" the DAB
proposal.  The DAB, in response to recent SLORC calls for peace
talks with rebel groups, agreed early this month to hold
preliminary talks in Rangoon on condition that the junta meet the
DAB as a united body.
"As we have stated before, we will not be able to accept(them as) 
the DAB.  We will deal with respective (ethnic) groups.  We still 
prefer to talk with individual ethnic groups because each group has
its own priorities and interests," Thein Swe said.
Gen Saw Bo Mya, chairman of the DAB dismissed the SLORC's calls for
separate peace talks with individual groups as a mere strategy to 
undermine DAB unity.
The junta threatened to resume military offensive against the DAB, 
based in Manerplaw in the Karen State near the Thai border, and
other rebel groups if they do not agree to separate peace talks.
Meanwhile, the deputy military intelligence chief, Col Kyaw Win
offered protection to Mon villages on Thai-Burma border which Karen
rebels threatened to destroy if Mon rebels enter peace negotiation
with the junta separately.  The threat had kept the Mon from taking
the final step, Kyaw Win said.  He said that encouraging headway
had been made with two armed groups in the Kayh(Karenni) and Mon
states bordering Thailand.  Both Mon and the Kayah are affiliated
to the DAB.
Ten ethnic-based armed groups fighting against the junta have so
far struck cease-fire deals with the junta.(Sources#The Nation, Dec
16 & 18, Rangoon, AFP, Dec 25)
International Relations
Thailand Rejects Visas to Senior Burmese Exile
The Nation, Dec 16 & 22 - National Security Council chief Charan 
said Thailand denied the visas to Burma's exile Prime Minister Dr 
Sein Win and other key opposition leaders in United States as part 
of its commitment to stop Burmese opposition figures from using
Thai territory to fight Rangoon.
The opposition leaders flew to United States in early October to
visit the United Nations General Assembly.  The stranded leaders in
US include U Bo Hla Tint, a minister of exile government, U Win
Khet, chairman of the NLD(liberated Area) and dissident student
leader Dr Thaung Htun.
Meanwhile, Chief adviser of Thai-Burma security affairs Lt-Gen
Sanan said "some of the non-governmental organizations(NGO) are
assisting the anti-government minority groups with the aim of
helping them to fight the Burmese military junta."  He added that
the military is closely watching some of the NGOs which have broken
their promise to provide support only for Burmese people and not
minority groups fighting against the junta.
Sanan dismissed a report that Thailand is planning to close the
border with Burma. A Thai local newspaper on Dec 20 quoted National
Security Council sources as saying the security agency had
lambasted Bangkok's policy towards Burma, citing western attacks on
Thailand's exploitation of Burma's natural resources and charges
that the "constructive engagement" approach towards Rangoon was
House Committee opposes Junta in ASEAN
The House committee on justice and human rights of Thai parliament 
earlier this month sent a letter opposing Burma's membership in the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to its parliamentary
counterparts in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Asean's sixth member, Brunei, has no parliament. 
The letter called for agreement on three preconditions to Burma's 
membership in the regional grouping: the immediate and
unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political
prisoners, the cessation of political repression and violations of
the rights of minorities, and a guarantee of peace and safety for
all minority groups.
However, Deputy Foreign Minister Surin said on Dec 27 that it would
be out of character for Asean's Inter-Parliamentary Organization
(IPO) to attempt to interfere in Burma's internal affairs as urged
by a House of Representatives Committee. He said the
democratization process in Burma was an internal affair and would
proceed at its own pace, and other countries should not attempt to
Foreign Minister Prasong Soonsiri, who will chair the ASEAN foreign
ministers' meeting, has insisted that Burma have the right to be
Non-members can attend Asean meetings as "guests", in which case a 
consensus among Asean members is not needed.  But an "observer"
status for non-members will require a consensus from the members. 
It was too soon to invite Burma as an observer at the meeting,
Singapore Prime Minister Goh suggested during a meeting with his
Thai counterpart Chuan.(Sources#Bangkok Post, Dec 27 & The Nation,
Dec 28)
Copying Indonesian 
Burma was eager to promote economic relations with Indonesia and
study its development strategies of the last 25 years.  "We have
had very good discussions on bilateral relations and ways to
promote economic relations between the two countries," Burmese
military intelligence chief, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt said after meeting
Indonesian President Suharto.
He arrived on 20 Dec for a five-day visit with a delegation, which 
included six ministers.
Diplomats and officials said that while both nations hoped to
profit from increased economic exchanges, their reasons for
strengthening ties differed.  Indonesia hoped to boost its image as
an international mediator by nudging Burma into reform and bringing
it back into the world community.
Meanwhile, a 25-year-old Burmese woman from Rangoon was sentenced 
to life by an Indonesian state prosecutor for allegedly bringing
more than 15 pounds (7 kg) of heroin into Indonesia, news reports
said on 30 Dec.  
She was arrested by custom officers on Sept. 8 when she arrived
from Bangkok at Jakarta's Sukarno-Hatta International Airport. The
woman told the court that she did not know heroin was inside a
suitcase she received from a man in Bangkok's airport.(Sources#The
Nation, Dec 22 & JAKARTA, UPI, Dec 30)
Business Deal
The Nation, Dec 28 - A Malaysia company, Atlantic Outline Capital, 
has received the nod from the Burmese authorities for a major
tourism project on an island off the southern tip off Burma. The
company said they will develop the Pulu Basin island near the
Burmese-Thai border into an international tourist heaven costing
US$300 million.
US Congressmen Visit Burma
The Nation, Dec 18 - Four US congressmen led by Jack M Fields, 
Ralph M Hall, Paul E Gillmor, Michael G Oxley and Norman F Lent
visited Burma on Dec 13 at the invitation of Junta's Foreign
The visiting congressmen met military intelligence chief Lt-Gen
Khin Nyunt and leading Burmese ministers, including livestock and
fisheries, trade, forestry and transport and communication.
The senior US politicians discussed bilateral trade between the two
countries and the enviromental situation in Burma when they called 
Burmese ministers, the state-own radio said.
Opium War
Opium Warlord Asks U.S. Help
BANGKOK, IPS, By Richard Ehrlich, Dec 18 - Opium warlord Khun Sa,
grappling with a new Burmese military offensive and international
heroin seizures, has asked U.S. President Bill Clinton to help turn
his north-east Burman drug zone into an independent nation in
exchange for an end to smuggling from his territory.
Khun Sa's Shan United Army have had sporadic clashes with the
Burmese military in the past. But lately, fighting has intensified
and getting bloodier in the last few months.
Since Dec. 13, more than 10,000 Burmese soldiers have been engaged 
in savage battles with the forces of Khun Sa around his stronghold 
at Ban Muang Jod.  Thai police officer, monitoring the fighting
from the Thai border town of Mae Hong Son, estimated that at least
25 of the Khun Sa men and scores of Burmese soldiers have been
killed so far.
"How much longer the cause of the drug crusade will take is
anybody's guess, but one thing is clear: as long as hostilities
continue, both the people's sufferings and drug production --
strange but inseparable bedfellows -- will go on," he warns in the
letter.  U.S. officials have said 60 percent of the world's heroin
supply is from Khun Sa's section of Burma that is part of 'Golden
Triangle', where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet.
International drug authorities say total opium from the Golden
Triangle ranges from 1,200 to 2,200 tonnes a year. This season's
crop is said to be the largest.  The 66-year-old Khun Sa controls
thousands of impoverished Shan peasants who grow opium poppy pods.
In his letter to Clinton, the druglord says peasants who stopped
growing opium would need "assistance in their crop substitution
programmes. A period of five years would be adequate for this
But U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA) officials dismiss his request
for Shan independence as a poor attempt to justify his illegal
operations. International drug authorities say Khun Sa uses his
Shan United Army to protect opium caravans and to collect some
eight million dollars worth of 'taxes' annually on all drugs,
timber, jade, ivory and antiques that are smuggled through his
territory into northern Thailand and Southern China. In 1989, a
U.S. grand jury indicted him on ten separate charges for allegedly
smuggling more than 2,575 kilos of heroin into United States.
Thai officials in Mae Hong Son, some 30 kms from the fighting, said
Rangoon's attack has caused hilltribe people to flee the area and 
cross the mountainous border into Thailand. Khun Sa himself is
thought to be moving his followers to safer mountaintops. 
A representative of the opium kingpin, however, has told reporters 
that Burmese troops soon retreated after staging the attacks, which
he said were aimed only at impressing an unofficial delegation of 
four U.S. congressmen visiting Rangoon.
Remember Aung San Suu Kyi
The Nation, Dec 18 - Amidst all the hoopla Asian miracles and 
the Pacific Century and all that, there are a couple of black holes
that it are worthwhile to recall when the hubris threatens to get 
overwhelming.  North Korea is one, of course, an awful place with 
no economy or popular cultural but a thriving nuclear program and 
monopoly on status of Kim II-Sung.
Another is Burma, which has been relatively quiet of late.  No
news, in this case, does not mean good news.  At the recent
briefing on Burma, an analyst noted that Burma's army has doubled
in size since it won worldwide disgust for shooting thousands of
students in 1988, and now is approaching the target of 500,000 men.
Why does Burma need all these soldiers?  The simple answer is that 
it doesn't.  It faces no external threat.
The only reason Burma has an army twice as large as Japan's is that
it is run by military men and they like it that way.  A big army is
an easy way to keep the civilian population cowed.  With its big
army and big brother to the north, the Burmese regime looks set to
hunker down and misrule for years.  Except for Aung San Suu Kyi,
now passing her 53rd month in jail.  Truly, the thuggish sorts who
make up the junta don't know what to do with this elegant woman
whose quiet voice can move a nation.  They can't free her.  So they
will probably continue to detain her. Short of war, there is little
the world can do for Aung San Suu Kyi.  But we can at least
remember that in a closed little compound in Rangoon resides
Burma's best hope for a future of peace little harder to ensure
that those who imprison her are not rewarded for doing so.
Gas Pipeline
The Nation, Dec 18, (Letter from Karen National Union, Manerplaw)
- We, the Karen National Union(KNU) learned with immense relief
that the plan to build huge hydropower dams across Salween and Moei
rivers, the traditional lands of the Karen people have been
suspended indefinitely.
We have privately expressed our concern about the implementation of
the project at the present time for immeasurable disasters could
have been brought upon the local inhabitants, the environmental and
the natural resources above-ground as well as underground.
We know that power is important for development. In a different
time and situation in the future when there will be political
stability and peace in Burma, when we will have time to survey the
damages and take proper measures to control them, then we will be
ready to give all our support to projects as mentioned above.
For similar reason, we are much concerned about the gas pipe-lines,
the construction of which has been under way.  Here again, the
projected routes of the pipe lines cut through the traditional land
of the indigenous Karen and Mon peoples, where one of the few
tropical rain forests remaining in the world exists.
In this respect also, the hasty manner in which the project is
being implemented, the genocidal war the SLORC has been waging
against us, the democratic forces, and the scale of the
exploitation of irreplaceable natural resources have raised a dire
implication not only for the Karen and Mon but also for the entire
people of Burma. 
Accordingly, we the KNU, would like to request all concerned to
reconsider the matter and take relevant measures for the good of
the present and the future. 
Burma Focus is published by the All Burma Students' Democratic
Front.  It will be published bi-monthly documenting the information
mainly on human rights violations, ecological crisis, foreign
investment, refugee problems and illegal opium trading in Burma. 
Anyone who wish to get information are welcome to contact its
ABSDF-Head Office
P.O Box 1352 G.P.O
Bangkok 10500
Tel: 66-1-926 25 62
Tel & Fax: 66-55-531 952
ABSDF Europe Office
P.O Box 6720
St.Olavs Plass
0130 Oslo
Tel:   47-22-60 85 97
Fax:   47-22-60 85 98