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BurmaNet News: September 11

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"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

BurmaNet News: Sunday, September 11, 1994


     "According to my judgement, America is the only country right now, that
     to a certain extent, understands Burma's situation, [and] politically
     stands on the side of democracy."

                         Saw Ba Thein, Prime Minister of the Karen National

     "If you are absent, a bullet will come to you."

                         Tatmadaw officer in a written order summoning a
                         village official, Karen State



Rangoon's Anglican Archbishop Andrew Mya Han, who is slated for a second
meeting with Karen National Union (KNU) leader Bo Mya to discuss ceasefire
talks, is likely to find a polite, but cold, reception upon his arrival.  The
KNU has been fighting Burma's central government since 1948 and is the
second largest insurgent group still in the field, ranking in size only
behind the Shan rebel army led by Khun Sa.

Privately, Karen leaders complain that Mya Han carries no new proposals from
Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and therefore 
there is nothing to talk with him about.  As one lower-ranking officer
deadpanned, "he can come--and he can go."  

Mya Han met on August 11 with Gen Bo Mya and senior Karen leaders in
Manerplaw, the KNU's headquarters on the Thai/Burma border.  Mya Han later
announced that he had assumed the role of mediator between the Karens and
Rangoon because of the plight of lower ranking soldiers in the KNU.

According to KNU Prime Minister Ba Thein: "we won't make any objections to
anyone who comes."  Ba Thein however stated that unless the SLORC is ready to
talk about a political settlement to the war, a ceasefire would be pointless.

A Karen source also revealed that SLORC has already sent three other
messengers, mostly Baptist preachers, with similar proposals for ceasefire
talks.  According to the source, each time the SLORC has refused to discuss
political issues and offered only terms that the Karen believe, amount to
conditional surrender.  Said the Karen official about the churchmen, unless
they bring something new, "we tell them to stay out of politics."

The Karen leaders, who are Christian, appear to be giving Archbishop Mya Han
somewhat more deference because of his rank, despite there being few
Anglicans in what they call the "Karen Revolution."  According to Ba Thein,
"we enquired about his intentions and whether he was sent purposely by the
SLORC or Khin Nyunt and he told us that nobody sent him."  He also said that
Mya Han told them that he "had no idea how the announcement leaked"

The Karens maintain that they want a peaceful settlement and that the 45-year
old conflict should be settled by political means.  They are however, averse
to negotiating inside Burma in part because they do not trust SLORC to
guarantee the security of the negotiating team.  They point to an incident
during a previous round of negotiations between the KNU and Ne Win's
government in 1963.  After the talks deadlocked then, the Burmese army
attempted to apprehend the Karen negotiators despite a guarantee that they
had given of safe passage.

The KNU is also that demanding a neutral international observer be present at
any talks.  According to Ba Thein, "the problem is that they [SLORC] are in
control of news media and can say anything...and people will think we are the
ones making trouble."  The SLORC has insisted that talks take place inside
Burma without observers.  SLORC also refuses to discuss political issues, but
is instead proposing to allow the Karens to keep their weapons and offering
to let them attend the National Convention as observers if they give up their
resistance.  Originally, the KNU had insisted on negotiations only in concert
with all Burma's other rebellious ethnic groups, a demand they have
essentially backed off of.

Be Thein tried, and failed, to suppress a laugh when asked about Mya Han's
estimation that at least half of KNU officers and an even larger percentage
of his lower ranking fighters are Anglicans.  By most counts, Buddhists and
Animists make up 95% of the KNU forces and even among the small number who
are Christians, Anglicans are few and far between.

The Karen Prime Minister said that he does not believe Thailand will allow
the KNU to reopen its Foreign Affairs office in Bangkok, which was closed by
Thai police earlier this year.  The U.S. government has since moved to cut
off military aid to Thailand unless pro-democratic opposition groups are
allowed to function without harassment and refugees from Burma are protected.

Ba Thein went on to say that "according to my judgement, America is the only
country right now, that to a certain extent, understands Burma's situation,
[and] politically stands on the side of democracy."

He expressed moral support for the Mon refugees at Halockanie who were forced
to return to Burma this week after soldiers from the Ninth Army Division
impounded their food stocks.  Asked whether the 60,000 Karen refugees in
Thailand were being urged to leave, Ba Thein responded that "even now the
pressure is there.  We feel that slowly, slowly the pressure will build." 
One Karen trader reported that he relayed a `friendly warning' from a Thai
National Security Council officer to Gen Bo Mya that it would be better for
the Karen leader to cut a deal with SLORC soon because as the NSC officer put
it, "we would rather visit the President [Bo Mya] in his home than in a
refugee camp in Thailand."

Ba Thein went on to deny reports of an armed conflict at Manerplaw which
surfaced in the Bangkok press in August.  According to the report, 50 persons
were killed and Bo Mya wounded in what amounted to an attempted coup. 
According to Ba Thein, Gen. Bo Mya was unhurt in the incident, which was
unrelated to politics.  According to Ba Thein, a deranged prisoner at the
jail wrested a gun from a guard and killed three people, including the
warden.  Ba Thein said that the prisoner, Bodo Wie, then barricaded himself
under the jail and that Karen soldiers used an explosive charge to knock down
the barricade.  Bodo Wie was then killed by Karen sharpshooters.

Ba Thein's version of events is borne out by a western human rights worker,
who also noted that Bodo Wie had been campaigning for "Lord Mayor of
Manerplaw," a non-existent position, prior to his detention for allegedly
raping his sister-in-law.  According to friends, Bodo Wie lost touch with
reality after suffering severe health problems in the past year and losing
several close family members in a road accident.  About the earlier erroneous
report in the Bangkok press, Ba Thein maintained that "this is the work of
the SLORC."

September 10

Bangkok:  The Thai military yesterday denied it had forced some 6000 Mon
refugees back into Burma, and charged the Mon had burned down their own
houses in July to have an excuse to cross the border into Thailand.

The Supreme Command statement was in response to a report Thursday by the
London-based human rights group Amnesty International that charged Thailand's
blockade of food and water to the Mon was forcing them back into unsafe areas
of Burma.

The refugees have said they fled into Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, 130
kilometres northwest of here, when Burmese soldiers torched homes and
kidnapped some of them from a camp inside Burma on July 21.

But the Supreme Command statement said the July 21 incident "prompted the
ethnic minority Mon who wanted to migrate to Thai territory to burn down
their own houses and move to Thailand, reasoning that Thailand was a safer

"In repatriating the Mon, the Thai armed forces did not use any force but
sent them back after having given them humanitarian aid and also provided
them with transportation for their return to their motherland."

"Also, the Thai armed forces coordinated with he Burmese armed forces, asking
them to stop attacking the Mon," it said.

Thailand has a policy of not providing new refugee camps in its territory.

On August 10, troops blockaded the only road to the Mon camp and in late
August seized a storage warehouse containing rice given to the Mon by
international relief organizations.  

Most of the Mon have now returned to Burma.

September 9-10
by Paul M. Sherer

Bangkok--Total SA of France, Unocal Corp. of the U.S. and the state energy
companies of Thailand and Burma plan to sign an agreement Friday in Rangoon
to build a natural gas pipeline from Burma's Yadana offshore field to the
Thai border.

The project, subject to final approval by the Thai and Burmese governments is
expected to be lucrative for all its participants.  But it is markedly less
popular among human rights organizations and Burmese opposition groups.  They
say slave labor in Burma is being used to build a railway that will support
the pipeline and charge Burma's military regime with evicting villagers from
the pipeline's path.

Meanwhile, a Mon ethnic group fighting the SLORC regime has threatened to
destroy the pipeline, which will pass through Mon and Karen territory in the
thickly forested mountains along the border between Thailand and Burma.

Under terms of the agreement, the Petroleum Authority of Thailand will pay 10
billion baht ($400.8 million) annually for a delivery rate of 15.8 million
cubic meters of natural gas a day.  The total cost of developing the gas
field--which proven reserves of 171 billion cubic meters--and building the
pipeline is estimated at $1 billion, says Kenneth Stevens, head of Research
at Credit Lyonnais Securities (Asia) Ltd. in Bangkok.

Heavy Price

To deliver the gas, Total and Unocal will build a 400-kilometre pipeline from
the gas field to the Thai border.  The Thai petroleum authority is expected
to announce plans to build a 10-billion baht, 300 kilometre extension of the
pipeline running from the border to a 2,800 megawatt power plant that will be
built in Ratchaburi province.

But whatever Thailand agrees to shell out, critics charge that Burma's Mon
and Karen minorities already have paid a heavy price for the project. 
Between October and April, Slorc is said to have conscripted between 120,000
and 150,000 slave laborers to work on the 176 kilometre Ye-Tavoy railroad,
according to human-rights organizations and Burmese opposition groups.  The
groups say the railroad is being built in part to help Slorc secure the area
and to deploy and supply troops to protect the pipeline, and the groups
charge Slorc with forcibly evicting residents of 15 villages from their homes
in "strategic zones" along the route of the pipeline.

General Pattern

The slave-labor charges are supported by the top official of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Thailand.  "there seems to be a
general pattern of making use of local labor force without paying them," says
Ruprecht von Arnim, the UNHCR representative in Bangkok.  "I know slave labor
has been used for other purposes, and once the gas pipeline is to start, it
is most likely that it will be done the same way."

But Mr von Arnim stresses that his responsibility is to determine the reason
for refugee flows, saying it is beyond his brief to oppose or support the
pipeline project.

Slorc wouldn't be the first to use slave labor in the area.  Part of the
pipeline will parallel the route of the "Death Railway" that Japan built
between Burma and Thailand during World War II using prisoners of war--16,000
of whom died--as slave laborers.

The agreement to be signed Friday exposes both sides to the risk that the gas
flow will be disrupted.  If the producers are unable to deliver the gas to
the border for any reason, they must compensate the Thai petroleum authority;
similarly the Thai petroleum must pay for delivered gas even if it is unable
to accept it, says Mr Stevens of Credit Lyonnais.

"That's why the border line is so important," he says.  "It depends what side
of the border they blow it up on."

"We're committed to the project, and it's an important part of our Asian
growth strategy," says a Unocal spokeswoman.  "In terms of the pipeline, the
government of the country is responsible for protecting the elements of its
infrastructure.  We're convinced the pipeline will be kept secure."

To express their commitment to the project, government ministers from
Thailand and Burma also Friday are expected to signa memorandum of

The deal, Thailand's first purchase of foreign natural gas, was driven by the
country's growing hunger for new power sources.  Thailand's daily gas
consumption is expected to rise to 72 million cubic meters by 1999 from 27.6
million this year, according the Thai petroleum authority.

The Thai authority currently buys 15 million cubic meters of gas a day from
Unocal's fields in the Gulf of Thailand, but the authority signed a deal with
Unocal earlier this month to increase daily purchases to 22.2 million cubic
meters by late 1996.

Meanwhile, gas from the Burmese field is expected to begin flowing in 1998,
reaching the rate of 15.8 cubic meters a day by the middle of 1999.

Total Myanmar Exploration and Production Co, a subsidiary of Total, will own
52.5% of the output under a production sharing contract, with Unocal Myanmar
Offshore Co., a subsidiary of Los Angeles based Unocal, owning the balance.

However, PTT Exploration and Production PCL, the exploration arm of the
Petroleum Authority of Thailand,  is expected to exercise an option giving it
a 30% share in the production contract.  Any Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise,
Burma's state owned petroleum company, has an option to take a 15% share,
says the Unocal spokeswoman.

Thai government spokesman Abhisit Vejjajiva said he wasn't familiar with the
slave-labor allegations and therefore couldn't respond to them specifically,
but he reiterated his government's belief that constructive engagement with
Burma would lead it to reform.  "We're trying to create change from within."

An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
September 2, 1994     /     KHRG #94-23

Following are the direct translations of some SLORC written orders
sent to villages in the area of the Ye-Tavoy railway line between
Mon State and Tenasserim Division, which is currently being constructed
entirely by the slave labour of tens of thousands of Mon, Karen,
Tavoyan and Burman villagers (see the related report "The Ye-Tavoy
Railway", KHRG 13/4/94).  These orders are now months old, but
copies of them have only recently been obtained by the Karen Human
Rights Group.  The work has been ongoing since late 1993, and
similar orders are still being issued now.  We would like to thank
those who provided this set to us, though these people cannot
be named.  All of the orders were signed by SLORC officers or
officials, and in most cases were stamped with the unit stamp.
 Photocopies of the order documents themselves may be enclosed
with this report, and if not they are available on request.  Where
necessary, the names of people, villages, and army camps have
been blanked out and denoted by 'xxxx' to protect the villagers.
 Many of the orders end with phrases like "Should you fail to
obey it will be your responsibility".  The villagers know that
this means that should they fail for any reason, SLORC will likely
send troops to loot the village, destroy some houses, seize porters,
execute villagers, or in some cases shell the village with mortars.

Note: While SLORC stands for State Law & Order Restoration Council,
it administers locally through State or Divisional LORC, Township
LORC, Village Tract LORC and Village LORC.  This abbreviation
LORC (Law & Order Restoration Council) is used throughout this

                     Order #1

To:     Chairman                Frontline #3 Company
     xxxx village            #61 Light Infantry Battalion                   
        Date: 1-12-93

          We need 50 government servants to build along the railway line.
 Therefore send 50 government servants right away, each with a
machete, and 10 tree-cutting [2-man] saws.  Send the men with
supplies for 7 days to Bauk Pin Gwin village right away.

     Send them tonight or tomorrow morning at 0600 hours without fail
 .... Chairman, come along and see me, I hereby inform you.
                                  [Sd. illegible]
                                 Company Commander
                                     #3 Company
                               #61 Light Infantry Battalion

[Note: "government servants" is the direct translation of an expression
often used by SLORC officers to refer to porters in written orders.
 Between themselves, they often refer to porters as "ghosts".
 This written order shows that they also use "government servants"
to refer to many forms of village slave labour.]

                    Order #2

The original of this order is 2 pages long and was apparently
sent to many villages throughout Ye Township.

                    SECRET                  URGENT
                               Township LORC group
                               Mon State - Ye Township
                               Letter #100/2-10/TLORC(Ye)
                               Date 1994 January 11
To/     Chairmen
     All Ward/Village LORC groups
     Ye Township

Subject:  For all villages to cooperate to build the Ye-Tavoy railway line

1)  The project of building the Ye-Tavoy railway line (Ye -  ?? Kwin Lam Bai)

we're going to implement as described below.

  a)  Work Site #1 (between Chaim Taung and Kalaw)

  No.     Village              Deadline to send the labour     [Army] Camp
                     to the specified place        to report to
  1)      Chaung Taung                 14-1-94                 Chaung Taung
  2)      Nit Kayin                    14-1-94                      "
  3)      Kaw Dut                      14-1-94                      "
  4)      Hla Mine                     14-1-94                 Kalaw Gyi

  b)  Work Site #2 (between Kalaw and Ko Mine)

  1)      Ha Ngan                      14-1-94                 Kalaw Gyi
  2)      Kalaw Gyi                    14-1-94                     "
  3)      Maw Kanet                    14-1-94                     "
  4)      Taung Bone                   14-1-94                     "
  5)      Ayut Taung                   14-1-94                     "
  6)      Thaung Pyin                  14-1-94                 Ko Mine
  7)      An Din                       14-1-94                 Ko Mine
  8)      Thingan Kyun                 14-1-94                     "
  9)      Abaw                         14-1-94                     "


           Order #2 (Contd. - Page 2 of the original order)


  c)  Work Site #3 (between Ko Mine and Seneh Mine)

  1)      Zee Pyu Thaung               14-1-94                 Ko Mine
  2)      Ee Sin                       14-1-94                    "
  3)      Ko Mine                      14-1-94                    "
  4)      Galah Gote                   14-1-94                    "
  5)      Du Myaw                      14-1-94                    "
  6)      Du Yah                       14-1-94                    "
  7)      Kaw Line                     14-1-94                    "
  8)      Thee Ree Ma La               14-1-94                    "
  9)      Thee Ree Nan Da              14-1-94                    "
  d)  Work Site #4 (Bauk Pin Gwin)

  1)      Thee Ree Kay Ma         _       We are going to inform you
  2)      Thee Ree Say Ya         _       of your worksite and deadline
  3)      Yan Gyi Aung            _       again [i.e. later]
  4)      Aung Minga La           _
  5)      Aung Thu Ka             _
  6)      Aung Myitta             _
  7)      Kaw Hsa                 _

2)  We hereby inform you, the people of the wards and villages,
to go to the worksite with all the tools you will need.  Do it
without fail, as has already been arranged (Without Fail).

Note:   We have already arranged for train transportation from the
villages along the railway route on 13-1-94.  Therefore contact the 
authorities who are responsible for you.

                               [Sd. illegible]
                               (U Soe Win)
Copies to  - Chairman, State LORC group, Moulmein Township
        - Chairman, District LORC group, Moulmein Township
        - Commander Group, Military Command
        - Battalion Commanders, #61, 106, & 343 Battalions, Ye Township
        - Office Copy

[Notes:  The reason this is so 'Secret' is that it is ordering
slave labour from 29 different villages, while the SLORC claims
internationally that all the workers are paid volunteers.  Under
Work Site #2, the first army camp listed is spelt slightly differently
than Kalaw Gyi is spelt under Work Site #1, more like "Kalaw a'Gyi".
 This is probably a mistake by a semi-illiterate SLORC official.
 The place names "Ko Mine" and "Seneh Mine" actually mean "Nine-Mile"
and "Twelve-Mile" respectively.  The Note at the end about arranged
transportation means the villagers should report to certain sites
along the line on 13 January, and they will be transported to
their labour site; they should therefore notify the authorities
of when and where they'll be arriving.]


                     Order #3

#343 Light Infantry Battalion           To:     Chairman
     Intelligence                            xxxx village                   
        Date: 13-1-94

Subject:        Informing you about labour for the railway line

xxxx village must take responsibility for the railway line between
Bauk Pin Gwin and Ma Lweh Taung Gya.  The date to start work will
be after the 20th.  We will inform you of the exact location again
[i.e. later].  We hereby inform you to contact the camp on the
18th and gather the villagers.

                           Friendly and Respectfully,
                               [Sd. illegible]
                              Intelligence Officer
                          #343 Light Infantry Battalion

                       Order #4

To:     Chairman
     xxxx village
     xxxx village tract

Subject:        Informing you to be involved in railway labour

xxxx village, you are responsible for the railway line between
Bauk Pin Gwin and Taung Gya.  You must start working on 31-1-94.
 xxxx chairman and village head, report to xxxx army camp on 30-1-94
to discuss this.  We have hereby informed you.
                                 [Sd. illegible]
                               Intelligence Officer


                        Order #5

To:     xxxx (chairman)                                  Date:  28-2-94
     xxxx village tract

Subject:        To come and meet the column commander

All the Village LORC chairmen of all the villages in the village
tract, we inform you to come to the column office on 2-3-94 with
U xxxx to have a discussion about labour.  Come without fail,
we hereby inform you.
                                [Sd. illegible]
                              Intelligence Officer
                           #343 Light Infantry Battalion
Location:  xxxx camp

                        Order #6
#343 Light Infantry Battalion     To: xxxx                     17-3-94
       #4 Company                  Chairman
       Date 17/3                   xxxx village

Dear Village Head:  The part of the railway which your villagers
are responsible for is already finished.  Therefore, come and
give the money for the labour that we hired.  As soon as you receive
this letter, come to the worksite or to Selay-Mine [Fourteen-Mile]

If you can't come, send another of the village heads as soon as
possible without fail.  And xxxx, send him as well.

If you fail for any reason it will be your responsibility.
                               [Sd. illegible]
                              Company Commander
                               #4 Company

                         #343 Light Infantry Battalion

[Note:  We had no chance to discuss this order with the villagers
who received it, so it has a few possible meanings: a) the villagers
have finished their slave labour assignment, but the military
is still extorting more money from them for the labour that was
theoretically "hired" to help them (for example, villagers have
often been forced to pay to "hire" the bulldozers on site to "help"
them when their slave labour assignment is impossible to do with
manual labour).  b) The villagers' labour assignment was finished
by slaves from other villages before they got there, and the military
is using this as an excuse to demand money for its generosity
in not forcing the villagers to come.  c) The villagers refused
to go for labour so the military demanded cash instead, and the
villagers haven't paid yet (meanwhile, the military would simply
have obtained the required slave labour from some other village).]

                       Order #7
#343 Light Infantry Battalion    To:             10-3-93 [sic: should be 94]
       #4 Company                   Chairman
       Date 10/3                    xxxx village

As soon as you receive this letter, xxxx village head, send the
money to pay for labour and come to see me.
We've finished working, therefore if you can't find me at the
worksite come see me at Selay-Mine [14-Mile] camp.  Come as soon
as possible.
Absolutely do not fail.  Bring xxxx.
                                [Sd. illegible]
                                Company Commander
                                   #4 Company
                            #343 Light Infantry Battalion

[Note:  The date on this order should definitely say 94 and not
93, because the labour on the railway had not even begun in March

                      Order #8

#409 Light Infantry Battalion           To:     Chairman                    
       Column 1 Headquarters                    xxxx village

Subject:    Asking 3 big baskets of rice to feed the government servants

Regarding the above subject, we are asking you to bring 3 big
baskets of rice to feed the government servants of the LIB #409
Column.  As soon as you get this letter come and bring it to xxxx
village, as soon as possible.
                                 [Sd. illegible,26/12]
Along with this letter, bring the rice,            (for) Column Commander
10 viss [16 kg.] of dried fish,                         #409 LIB
10 viss of fishpaste,                   [Stamp:]   Intelligence Officer
and fresh living fish                           #409 Light Infantry Battalion

[Note:  In this case "government servants" means porters.  Not
only does the army not pay its slave civilian porters, it doesn't
even feed them - in this case it is stealing the food for them
from local villages.  The fish and fishpaste the officer added
to the list as an afterthought will not be for the porters, but
for the soldiers.]

                      Order #9

#409 Light Infantry Battalion    To:                        Date: 24-2-94
     Column 2 Headquarters          Village LORC chairman
      Date 24-2-94               xxxx village

We hereby inform you to come see the column commander as soon
as you receive this letter.  If you fail for any reason it will
be your responsibility, we inform you.

If you are absent, a bullet will come to you.

                                [Sd. illegible]
                         (for) Column 2, Column Commander



Since the reg.burma mailing list was begun two months ago, the number of
subscriptions to the reg.burma mailing list has climbed to eighty, with
twenty additions in the last month.

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de:       1         1
lv:       0         1
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th:       7         7
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Total:    62        80

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