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Burma Focus,Vol.5,No.1,,16UJan94

Subject: Burma Focus,Vol.5,No.1,,16UJan94

/* Written  2:21 am  Jan 18, 1994 by absdf@xxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.seasia */
/* ---------- "Burma Focus,Vol.5,No.1,,16UJan94" ---------- */
*                                                               *
*                         BURMA FOCUS                           *
*                                                               *
*      Published By the All Burma Students' Democratic Front    *
*                       (Europe Office)                         *
*                    Bi-monthly News Letter                     *
*                                                               *
*  Vol.5                     No.1               16 January 1994 *
Talk with SLORC
The Burmese junta's calls for ceasefire negotiation with armed
ethnic groups have started talk with the Karen, Karenni and Mon --
the final hold-out minorities -- either being pressed to enter
talks or already tied to a "loose truce" with Rangoon.
"Since the beginning of this year, 1993, we have come under
increasing pressure from some Thai sources, most probably in the
line with the Thai government policy of constructive engagement
with Slorc," leaders of the three ethnic groups said in a signed
joint letter to one of Thailand's highest institution.
The pressure include threat to push ethnic minority refugees back 
into war zone, cut off food supplies and restricting travel for
medical treatment within Thailand.
While the ethnic opposition has pressed unsuccessfully for a
collective deal or negotiations with Slorc, Slorc has continued to
approach individual groups to enter into bilateral peace pacts.
According to well-informed sources, the Mon and Slorc agreed at a 
meeting late last year in Moulmein in Burma's Mon State to an
"unofficial" or "loose truce deal," and Karenni delegation met with
a Slorc delegation team during second week of January.  The most
powerful guerrilla force, Karen National Union(KNU) in an emergency
meeting on Dec 30-31, decided to enter preliminary talks with the
Slorc and also formed a three-members delegation to represent it.
"It is time for Karen to review our position, otherwise we would be
isolated by our comrades," senior Karen officer said. "The Slorc is
set to have peace talk with Karenni and a few other small armed
factions in Kayah(Karenni) State and it put pressure on Karen to
soften our position," he said. An emergency meeting of the DAB
which concluded on Dec 14 was formed of the Karen decision to enter
talks with Rangoon.  The emergency meeting was called following the
Karen's decision to open bilateral talks with Slorc.  The meeting,
which opened on Dec 9 in Manerplaw, the DAB's headquarters at the
border between Burma and Thailand, comes as joint pressure from
China and Thailand has already resulted in part of the opposition
negotiating a separate ceasefire with the Slorc.
Karen, Karenni and Mon forces suffered a political and military
setback in September when their strongest ally in northern Burma,
Kachin Independence Organization, struck a truce with the military
Ironically, while Slorc's officials are talking with surrendered
ethnic groups including Kachin, at the army guest house in Rangoon,
the Karen and some remaining groups who have refused to surrender
or agree to talk separately are facing offensive threat by the
Burmese army.
According to a reliable source, in Dec and early Jan, about 400
villagers in southern Burma and Karen state were forcefully taken
by soldiers to front-line in order to attack Karen and other
The All Burma Students' Democratic Front(ABSDF) called efforts by 
Slorc to forge separate ceasefires with the ethnic groups as a
policy of "divide and rule." The junta "lack of sincerity in
addressing the underlying p|roblems of the current political crisis
and ....will not be able to bring about a national reconciliation
or a genuine, long-lasting peace in Burma," the ABSDF said in a
statement issued on Dec 14. "In our view, separate negotiations
based on a limited aganda of achieving a cease-fire without
addressing the major political issue will not be able to bring
geuine peace to Burma," the ABSDF said.
Meanwhile, more than 100,000 members of Union Solidarity
Development Association led by SLORC who crowded a Rangoon sports
stadium called on rebels to lay down their arms and join Burma's
junta in developing the country and condemned "neo-colonialists"
who have made "false accusations" against Burma. So far groups have
initiated talks with Slorc.  They are; Kachin Independence
Organization(KIO), Kokang's Myanmar Nationalities Democratic
Alliance, the Wa's Myanmar National Solidarity Party, the Shan's
Union of Myanmar Democratic Alliance, the Kachin Nationals Progress
and Development Army, the Pa-O National Organization, the New
Democratic Army, the Palaung State Liberation Army and the Kayan
National Guards.(Sources#The Nation, Jan 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 &
Bangkok Post, 16)
Inside Story
Karen Flee Battle
Bangkok Post, Jan 1 - More than 100 Karen civilians fled fighting 
in Burma and crossed into Thailand on Jan 1.  Field reports said
the refugees, mostly women and children, crossed the Salween River
which marks the Thai and Burmese border, when Slorc's troops
mounted an attack against the Karen National Union's base in Saw
Hta, opposite Mae Hong Song.  The attack began on 29th Dec and
fierce fighting raged until Dec 31, the report said.
Civilians Used as Porters in Drug War
The Nation, Jan 15 - Burma's junta are press-ganging hundreds 
of Shan farmers from the Kengtun area into acting as porters in
their current offensive against drugs warlord Khun Sa, according to
some who recently escaped to the Thai border.
About 30 of the porters who escaped to a small village on the
border in northern Chiang Mai province said they were forcibly
taken from their villages by the Burmese soldiers in early
December. "We were fed only a cup of rice per day and were treated
worse than animals.  They were forced to carry between 40 and 80
kilos of weapons and food," said one man.
The refugees said they only realized they were being used in the
offensive against Khun Sa when they arrived in the Doi Pang Thong
Chinese, Wa in Mandalay
The Nation, Jan 14 - Local and foreign visitors who visit Mandalay 
lately are taken aback at the sheer sight of strong Chinese and
Burmese ethnic presence and influence in Burma's second largest
city.  The booming trade and economic investment there attracts a
number of new Industrial estate projects and Chinese capital flow
into Mandalay.
An Asian visitor who just returned two weeks ago from Burma said he
was extremely amazed to see ethnic Wa troops roaming around the
city in green military uniform with logo of the Wa army.  Wa has
engaged itself in cross border business and trade and for the past
four months been exporting cars to Kunming, China.  They have
established five branches in Mandalay and just started a joint
venture with Slorc in the jade business.
Burmese archaeologists dig into Thailand's past
The Nation, Jan 10 - A Burmese archaeologist claims he and his 
team have found the brick foundation of a wooden building built by 
the Thais within King Bayinnoung's Palace in the township of Bago, 
50 miles north of Rangoon.  He also claims that the building was
lived in by Thai princess Chao Fa Supankullaya, King Naresuan the
Great's older sister.  U Nyunt Han, Deputy Director General of
Burma's Department of Archaeology, revealed this information to
Thai archaeologists of the Fine Arts Department.
King Bayinnoung's Palace is in the ancient city of Hanthawaddy,
Pega, known as Hongsawaddy to Thais, which dates back to the 16th
century, and is currently called Bago.  King Bayinnoung, known as
the "Omnipotent Conqueror" was a great king of the 16th century
Burmese empire who united many independent towns, including Mon,
Pyu, Ava and Marid, to build Burma as a great empire.  He was the
first Burmese king to achieve success in conquering the Ayutthaya
"I believe the recently unearthed building on the foundation was
resided in by Thai Princess Supankullaya" said U Nyunt Han. 
Although there are few standing remains on the site, as the entire
palace and Hanthawaddy city were destroyed and set on fire during
the invasion of the northern Arakanese in 1599, the archaeologists
are confident enough to identify the remains of each building
within the compound.
"We found the remains of a palace.  We tried to identify what
palace it was and who the palace belonged to.  We have ancient
literary records and we base our research on the study of the
ancient records." he said.  He added that there are approximately
68 buildings inside the 40 acre compound.
We found the remains of a square brick form.  On top of the square 
brick from platform sits a teak wood form.  The superstructure of 
this building was made of "brick and wood" he said.
Nikom Musikacama, the Fine Arts Dept. deputy director general who 
recently visited the site explained that the pattern of the
foundation is not traditional Burmese but is traditional Thai.
International Relations
Honored Guest
Far Eastern Economic Review, Jan 13 - Thailand intends to invite 
Burma to the annual Asean foreign ministers meeting due to take
place in Bangkok in July 1994.  The move is seen as a boost for
Burma's effective ruler, the hardline intelligence chief Khin
To avoid controversy within Asean - including possible opposition 
from Malaysia and Indonesia, which have condemned Rangoon's
treatment of the country's Muslim minority - Burma will be a "guest
of the host country." 
Japan is understood to be encouraging Thailand to take this step, 
which will be the first towards Burma's obtaining observer status 
with Asean and, at a later stage, possibly even full membership. 
Japan is said to be anxious to woo Burma away from increasing
Chinese influence, which explains its behind-the-scense
Clamping Down on Burmese
Bangkok Post, Jan 8 - The Thai government is clamping down 
on exiled Burmese dissidents who try to use Thailand to campaign
against Burma's military government.  Such activities have damaged
relations between Bangkok and Rangoon, Deputy National Security
Council chief Khachadpai Burusapatana said.  Khachadpai said
Thailand will stop non-governmental organizations from financing
trips abroad for Burmese dissidents opposed to the Rangoon regime. 
Burmese refugees are now being housed in 13 camps in Thailand.
About 50,000 of them are in Tak, 10,000 in Kachanaburi and several
thousand in Mae Hong Song. Repatriation of these Burmese, which has
been adopted as Government policy, has not been successful as the
refugees often claim there are no safe areas for them in Burma. 
Khachadpai said Burmese refugees in Thailand would be watched to
prevent anti-Rangoon activities, and aid organizations would be
monitored to ensure they did not break Thai law.
Junta's Helper
Asia Wall Street Journal, Jan 11 - He calls her "Miriam."  She
calls him "my General."  She's a wealthy New Yorker former Fifth
Avenue objects d'art boutiques blossomed into Burmese business
deals.  He's a devout Buddhist whose jet-flying lessons at Nevada's
Nellis Air Force Base eventually propelled him to No.2 in Burma's
air force and then into the unlikely job of Minister of Livestock
Breeding and Fisheries.
Their liaison has all the makings of a convoluted Burmese cinema
classic except one: What brings Miriam Marshall Segal and Brig.Gen
Maung Maung together isn't love.  It's shrimp, a tiny joint venture
processing them for export.
The setting is a 42 million people that was sealed off from the
morden world for nearly three decades, wrecked by sputtering civil
wars fought by Communist insurgents and secessionist hill tribes,
misruled since 1962 by a military dictator, and economically ruined
by his so-called Burmese Way of Socialism.  Once the World's
biggest rice exporter, Burma rice exporter, Burma sank into near
bankruptcy, a resource-rich but undeveloped Southeast Asian
afterthought where time stood still, water buffalo still plow
fields and elephants haul logs.  Rangoon, a commercial and social
mecca when Singapore and Bangkok were malarial swamps and opium
dens, sank into moldy decay.
Now, like China and Vietnam, Burma has begun to open up and stir. 
Market oriented "reforms" have begun to move a moribund economy,
sprout private Burmese entrepreneurs and lure foreign investors and
Burmese expatriates.  There's only one problem: Burma is ruled by
one of the world's most-loathed military junta, a group of 22
generals who seized power in 1988 under the banner of State Law and
Order Restoration Council, or SLORC, and proceeded to mow down
hundreds of unarmed students and other pro-democracy demonstrators,
imprison thousands more, and send then of thousands fleeing into
Which bring us back to our main characters, Gen Maung Maung, a
gentle man with a ready smile, work for SLORC as a cabinet minister
of fisheries.
Meanwhile, his partner, Mrs. Segal, has become Slorc's most
passionate American defender, even though she describes herself as
"not a political person at all."  She has become one of the most
visible American investors in Burma.  She has testified before
Congress on Slorc's behalf and bent telephone ears arguing that
SLORC is the much-maligned victim of bad diplomacy and biased
Meanwhile, the company she heads, MMAI Holdings ltd., has invested 
more than $4 million in Burmese ventures, including the shrimp
plant, a fishing venture and a cement-bagging facility.  The firm,
registered in the British West Indies. 
Meanwhile, SLORC tolerates no political dissension. "They have
released some political prisoners, but only the people they don't
fear," says a diplomat. Organized opposition has been decimated. At
least 27 opposition politicians elected in 1990 election remain in
prison.  Diplomats and Burmese in Rangoon say SLORC fears some sort
of spontaneous uprising and therefore rules through intimidation,
its network of information reporting to the military's vast
intelligence apparatus.
When Slorc "abandoned" socialism and opened the country to foreign 
investors in 1988, investors were slow to arrive.  This was
possible because - in a move of extraordinary ineptitude - Slorc
renamed the country Myanmar, thereby lowering its profile
Mrs. Segal's 16-page press kit, which she proffers in lieu of
resume, includes photos and newspaper clips of her meeting Gen.Khin
Nyunt and U Ko Lay, Rangoon's mayor.  The biographical section
describes her as being "an accomplished person who rode at the
frontier of, and exemplified, the trends of her times."  Gen Maung
Maung met some of the latter in a visit to the U.S.  In April that
Mrs. Segal arranged - the first by a Burmese of cabinet rank in 33
She has also developed an ability to explain Eastern ways.  When an
Asian magazine published photos recently of Burmese chain gangs
building roads, she telephoned a reporter from Hong Kong to say:
"Those are murderers and drug addicts, not political prisoners."
Child Prostitution
Mii Chu was 12 when her stepfather, an opium addict, sold her into 
prostitution.  She was brought into northern Thailand from her
village in the Akha hill tribe region of neighboring Burma by a
Thai policeman, who paid her stepfather the equivalent of $192 and
deliver her to a brothel in the town of Chiang Rai.  She says she
was forced to have sex with three men at her first day.
"The first man I had to service was Thai," she said.  "I was very 
scared, and I cried, but he didn't beat me.  The second person was 
an old man, and he beat me.  I said, 'I can't do this.'  He said: 
'I already paid money for you.  You have to do this.'"
For all her suffering, Mii Chuu was luckily.  She was eventually
rescued and brought to a shelter run by an American missionary in
this northern Thai city.  She has tested negative for the HIV virus
and plans eventually to "go to Bible school and be a teacher."
Others are less fortunate.  A friend of Mii Chuu's is among child 
prostitutes who have tested positive for HIV, and thousands of
other girls are still in brothels.
Despite a campaign by the government of Prime Minister, Chuan to
eradicate child prostitution in Thailand, it continues to thrive.
In recent years, Thailand commercial sex industry has turned
increasingly to ethnic minorities in the north and migrants from
Burma, Laos and even China to supply cheaper, more pliable and
ever-younger recruits.
Uneducated Burmese hill-tribe girls are tricked into prostitution 
by relatives, local traders or professional recruiters, who promise
to find them jobs in Thai cities as dishwashers, waitresses or
In an another event in Ranong, southern part of Thailand opposite 
Kawthoung, Burma, a  pregnant 14-year-old Burmese prostitute was
beaten up by her pimps to induce a miscarriage.  "We rescued her
and she was sent to hospital," says Samphasit, director of the
Center for the Protection of Children's Rights.  As a result,
police raided three Ranong brothels and rounded up 144 Burmese
prostitutes, 42 of them underage.  But of these, only 58 of the
older women were sent back to Burma.  The younger ones were
released to return to their brothels.
The police decided that the 14-year-old in hospital was suffering 
from diahorea, rather than a miscarriage.  "She was released from 
hospital, and has since disappeared," says Sanphasit.  "Since then 
our volunteers have been unable to go to the province because they 
are threatened with violence by the pimps."
Thailand sex industry is protected by pervasive police corruption. 
Child prostitution is "getting worse, despite government policy," 
says Sanphasit.<B>(Sources#Far Eastern Economic Review, Jan 13,
1994 and International Herald Tribune, Dec 29, 1993)<D>
Appeal from ABSDF!
Ko San Lin, 31, leader of the ABSDF's student camp, Saw Hta was
arrested by the Burmese army on 8th November during his
organization tour at Kyauk Taung village, Ye Ni in Madalay
We are very much concerned about his life and possible torture by 
the SLORC.  We would like to appeal our readers to send a letter to
the Chairman of the SLORC, Senior Gen Than Shwe, Chairman, State
Law and Order Restoration Council(SLORC), Ministry of Defence,
Signal Pagoda Road, Yangon(Rangoon), Myanmar(Burma) to allow him to
meet his family and treat him according to the Universal standard.
Ko San Lin, 31-year-old civil engineer from Pegu Division left for 
Thai-Burma border in Sept 1988.  At the border, he was elected as 
a member of the ABSDF Central Committee for two consecutive terms 
and assigned as Secretary of Supply Department.  After the third
conference, he returned his camp, Saw Hta and worked as an
organizers, sharing his knowledge of human rights and fundamental
democratic rights among the people inside Burma. 
During his organization tour at Kyauk Taung village, he was
arrested by Burmese troops on 8th Nov.
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