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BurmaNet News 5th May #165
------------------------- BurmaNet ---------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: 5th May 1995
NOTED IN PASSING:
BKK POST: BURMESE JUNTA HAS GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME
THE NATION: SCARED REFUGEES FLEE CAMP TO LOOK FOR SHELTER IN
THE NATION: 'CONCENTRATION CAMPS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION'
THE NATION: CHATICHAI TO HEAD MILITARY COMMITTEE
BKK POST: RESTRAINED ARMY REACTION RAISES EYEBROWS
BKK POKST: ARMY WARNS KARENS OF 'HOT PURSUIT' INTO BURMA
BKK POST: ARMED INCURSIONS BY KARENS EXPOSE DIPLOMATIC
THE NATION: ARMY POISED TO STRIKE KAREN
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The NCGUB is a government-in-exile, formed by representatives
of the people that won the election in 1990.
Burma Issues is a Bangkok-based non-governmental organization
that documents human rights conditions in Burma and maintains
an archive of Burma-related documents. Views expressed in The
BurmaNet News do not necessarily reflect those of either NCGUB
or Burma Issues.
BURMESE JUNTA HAS GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME
5 May 1995
Within the short space of two weeks, armed intruders, believed
to be elements of the Rangoon-backed Democratic Karen Buddhist
Army (DKBA), staged a series of cross-border forays, burning
down three Karen refugee camps in Tak and Mae Hong Son
In the most recent raid on Wednesday, the intruders
deliberately attacked a Thai police outpost in Sop Moei
District of Mae Hong Son and killed three policemen.
Reaction from the Thai Government to last week's raids in
which two refugee camps were torched and a number of Karens
forcibly herded back into Burma followed standard diplomatic
practice. A strongly-worded protest note was handed over to
the Burmese military junta by the Thai ambassador in Rangoon
and the Burmese ambassador in Bangkok was summoned to the
Foreign Ministry to receive the protest note.
Surprisingly, the response from the Army was unusually mild
and cautious compared to the harsh criticism levelled against
the Press which first carried the report about the incursion
of the renegade Karen fighters into Tha Song Yang District of
Tak in late April.
Instead of pointing an accusing finger at the intruders of
their master, attention was turned to the subject of moving
all the Karen refugees to a new camp deeper inside Thai
territory. It was only when a more brazen foray took place
which left three Thai policemen dead that the Army's voice
became harsher and more businesslike.
It may not be possible for the Army to guard the entire
Thai-Burmese border which is several hundred kilometres long
snaking up and down hills in rugged terrain. Yet, the
intruders must be served a no-nonsense message that their
blatant acts are not only deplorable and hostile, but also
cannot be tolerated. Somehow, the slow initial reaction and
the lack of retaliation might have sent the wrong message to
the intruders and their supporters which has, apparently,
caused them to become bolder and more aggressive.
All the incidents, particularly the unprovoked attack on the
police outpost in Mae Hong Son, are a clear indication that
protests alone will not convince the junta in Rangoon to
respond positively in order to put a stop to the repeated
trampling on of Thai territorial sovereignty. Yet, talks must
continue. In the meantime, through, it is necessary to flex
some muscle to convey an unmistakable message that enough is
Conversely, the idea of relocation of Karen refugees deeper
inland is not only logical, but would also help alleviate
Burma's deep-seated suspicion of Thailand's clandestine
support of the Karen rebels to undermine Rangoon.
Rangoon's denial of any responsibility claiming it has no
control over the DKBA is not only unacceptable; it is also an
unfriendly gesture. It is a well-known fact that the DKBA was
founded by renegade Karen Buddhists with the strong backing of
The conduct of the DKBA as manifested by their cruel treatment
of their own Karen brethren bears testimony to the contempt of
their masters for human rights and disregard for human life.
The use of the DKBA as its proxy to wage a campaign of terror
against Karen civilians on Thai soil is definitely not a
friendly act towards its neighbour. Perhaps the junta has
become so accustomed to resorting to force and arm-twisting
tactics to solve problems involving its own people that
similar action by their proteges are just considered as
something to be taken for granted.
If the violent incidents of the past two weeks are to provide
any pertinent lesson, they should at least demonstrate that
the constructive engagement policy towards Burma as espoused
and nurtured by Thailand should be given a rethink.
The idea of inviting Burma to observe the forthcoming Asean
foreign ministers' meeting should also be reviewed. The only
mitigating factor would be if the Burmese junta suddenly
decided to reform its ranks and behave in a proper civilised
SCARED REFUGEES FLEE CAMP TO LOOK FOR SHELTER IN FOREST
5 May 1995
Shoklo Refugee Camp, Tak-Thousands of Karen refugees, the
target of a spate of raids by renegade guerrillas from Burma,
have fled this camp to live in surrounding forests despite the
presence of a formidable-looking Thai Army security force.
"The DKBA know this camp, they can attack us any time despite
Thai forces patrolling," Tha Wa Zaw, a 37-year-old father of
four said yesterday.
He was referring to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA),
which broke away from the autonomy-seeking Karen National
Union (KNU) late last year and joined Burmese government
Last week, the DKBA raided and burned several refugee camps on
the Thai side of the border. They also forced hundreds of
refugees back into Burma, refugee workers say.
Thailand sent hundreds of troops and police to reinforce the
border, but the extra security has not stopped the raids.
Three Thai policemen were killed in a shootout with a group of
DKBA gunmen on Tuesday night.
Thai Army helicopter gunships clattered over Shoklo every
half-hour yesterday and three armoured personnel carriers and
100 heavily armed troops patrolled the camp perimeter.
A Karen refugee leader said 4,000 of the camp's 9,000
inhabitants had fled from Shoklo to live in the jungle or at
nearby Thai villages.
"They are afraid of attacks by the DKBA. They said they will
return when the feel safer," Way Har 68, said.
Dozens of people left the camp yesterday, waiting for trucks
to take them to what they hoped would be safer places.
"We are looking for a new place to live, maybe in another
camp, maybe in the jungle," said Mya Zo, 23, who was leaving
with six relatives and their bundles of possessions.
There are more than 70,000 Karen refugees in Thailand, many of
them KNU supporters who have fled Burmese army offensives
against the guerrillas and what the United Nations has
described as consistent human-rights violations in Burma.
Hay Har said the Karen at Shoklo, the biggest of the camps,
will return to Burma only when democracy is restored.
Until now the refugees were housed in 23 camps strung out
along a 170-kilometre stretch on the Thai side of the border.
Thai authorities now say about half of them will be moved to
two new deeper in Thai territory.
In interviews last week, DKBA leaders threatened to continue
their attacks on the camps until all the refugees returned to
The DKBA was formed by several hundred Buddhist KNU guerrillas
who mutinied against their predominantly Christian leaders and
joined Burmese government forces last December.
The cross-border attacks since then have drawn angry
complaints from Thai leaders who say Burma's military
government must be held responsible for their allies' actions.
'CONCENTRATION CAMPS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION'
5 May 1995
Elected representatives from the United States and Britain
have deplored the repeated attacks by Burmese forces on Karen
refugee camps in Thailand while expressing concern over the
Army's proposal to relocate the refugees to a central maximum
"Concentration camps are not a sensible solution," they said
in a letter to Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai released in
The letter was signed by US Congressman Bill Richardson (of
the select intelligence committee), British Mps Sir David
Steel, Jim Lester (of Britain's foreign affairs select
committee), Baroness Cox and Glenys Kinnock, a member of the
"We urge you to step up Thai government efforts to protect the
refugees from these raids, and we also urge you and your Asean
partners to rethink the policy of constructive engagement with
Burma in light of the ongoing attacks," the letter said.
It welcomed the prime minister's instruction to Army chief Gen
Wimol Wongwanich to take steps to ensure the refugees' safety.
"On the other hand, we are disturbed by General Wimol's stated
desire to push all refugees out of Thailand or, failing that,
to move Karen refugees into a single camp deep inside Thailand
protected by barbed wire and land mines.
"Concentration camps are not an acceptable solution and it is
a cruel twisting of facts to blame the refugees, as General
Wimol implicitly has, for the cross-border attacks."
The press release followed a spate of attacks by the
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) on Karen refugee camps
in Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces during the past two weeks.
"We urge you to bring regional pressure to bear on those
ultimately responsible for the violations of the rights of
refugees: the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc)
and its allies the Democratic Karen Buddhist Organization [the
renegade group's political wing]," the letter said.
It asked Asean countries to get a written commitment from
Slorc "to cease the cross-border raids and respect
international human rights and refugee law".
If Slorc refused, Asean should make it clear that rangoon's
representatives would not be welcome at the Asean ministerial
meeting in Brunei in July, the letter said. (TN)
CHATICHAI TO HEAD MILITARY COMMITTEE
5 May 1995
Chat Pattana leader Gen Chatichai Choonhavan was yesterday
elected chairman of the House Committee on military affairs.
Chatichai was chosen during yesterday's House session to
replace Chat Pattana adviser Gen Arthit Kamlang-ek, who has
been a deputy prime minister since late last year.
Sunai Chulapongsathorn, Chatichai's personal secretary, said
the Chat Pattana leader accepted the post because he wants to
help solve the problem along the Thai-Burma border.
He said Chatichai is suitable for the position because in
addition to having been prime minister, he has been chief of
various ministries, including defence and foreign affairs.
"He knows the problem well. His knowledge will be useful to
the country," Sunai said.
Chatichai has been a vocal critic of the government's handling
of the recent tension along the Thai-Burmese border in the
North, where armed Karen troops, believed to be backed by
Rangoon, killed three Thai policemen in Mae Hong Son province
on Wednesday. (TN)
RESTRAINED ARMY REACTION RAISES EYEBROWS
5 May 1995
by Post reporters
What strikes most people about the repeated incursions into
Thailand by the Buddhist Karens is the belligerent attitude of
the attackers and the restrained reaction of the Thai army.
Although three Thai policemen have been killed already, not
one artillery round has been fired at the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army (DKBA).
If the same thing had happened along the Cambodian border, you
can be sure the Thai army would have already opened fire, as
they have done repeatedly when a stray shell from the fighting
inside Cambodian lands on Thai soil.
The first thing that comes to mind is that there is no love
lost between the Thai army and Phnom Penh, but relations
between a succession of Thai military leaders and the
Rangoon's State Law and Order Restoration Council_which holds
the leash on the DKBA_have been tight.
This may perhaps explain why the Buddhist Karens appear to
have no concern about a Thai reaction. But the ferocious
nature of their raids burning refugee camps and putting a gun
to the head of a Thai ranger commander guarding one of the
camps goes deeper than that.
The Buddhist Karens were part of the Karen National Union
fighting Rangoon before they defected and led Burmese troops
in attacks and the overrunning of their former Manerplaw and
The split between the Buddhist and Christian Karens, the
letter composing the majority of the KNU leadership, is in
large part due to their drastically different economic status.
The Christian Karens, which outnumber their Buddhist
counterparts, are better off through their border trade with
The Buddhist Karens are not very entrepreneurial and have been
watching their Christian brothers prosper while the two fought
side by side with the Burmese.
This has caused a lot of resentment on both sides to the point
where the Buddhist Karens decided to defect to Slorc. Part of
that resentment is also directed toward the Thais whom they
see as benefiting from natural resources such as logs and gems
in Karen-held territories.
Now they have driven the KNU out, they want to make sure they
remain in charge of the area without the possibility of the
KNU returning to dominance. Thus, they want the Karen
refugees, spread over some 30 camps over the Thai border,
under their control.
To do that, the refugees will have to return to Burma rather
than stay in Thailand where they can be recruited by the KNU.
Rangoon knows this. And despite its protests that it has
nothing to do with the incursions or has any control over the
DKBA, you can be sure they prefer to look the other way and
let the Buddhist Karens do whatever they have to do.
On the Thai side, the Government has all but ordered direct
retaliation against the DKBA. Interior Minister Sanan
Kachornprasart has even suggested that two artillery rounds be
fired on the DKBA forces to send them massage Thailand will
not stand by and allow its sovereignty to be infringed upon
and her officers killed.
Bur while the Government has taken the role of the hot head,
the military has adopted the reverse role and is cautioning
for reason for a charge.
Yesterday another clash with the Buddhist Karens occurred in
Chiang Rai and one Thai ranger was killed. The army issued
another warning threatening to pursue the foreign invaders
back across the border.
One senior military officer, who did not wish to be named,
argued that the role of the army in this incident was to
maintain good relations with Burma as a "friend".
"If the Government adopts aggressive measures and the soldiers
follow suit, then the situation will deteriorate," he said.
"That is not the way to solve the problem. We cannot isolate
Burma. That will only make things more violent."
The officer argued that Thailand stood to lose a lot from an
armed response because the security situation along the
border, where there are a lot of minority groups, could spin
out of control.
But foremost on his mind was the effect it would have on
border trade _a view chaired by most Thais who live or trade
along the border with Burma.
The military insists that the developing of trade along the
border and opening up Burma through economic links, as well as
physical means like the Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge over the
Moei River in tak Province or gas pipelines through
Ratchaburi, is the best solution to all problems with Burma.
This, of course, is not to mention the billions of baht in
logs and gems that pass through the border areas.
But can the Thai army continue to make empty threats while a
small renegade band makes a joke of it?
This will also determine the relationship between Thailand and
Burma and her minority groups long into the future. (BP)
ARMY WARNS KARENS OF 'HOT PURSUIT' INTO BURMA
5 May 1995
Thai troops will not hesitate to wipe out Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army forces if they continue their cross-border
raids, Third Army Region commander Lt-Gen Surachet Dechatiwong
He warned that his soldiers could pursue the Rangoon-backed
forces into Burma if necessary.
"Whenever we know for sure where DKBA forces are located, we
will not hesitate to wipe them out with drastic and violent
means," he told a press conference at Naresuan Maharaj
Military Camp, the Third Army 's headquarters, in Phitsanulok.
He sees no reason why the DKBA cannot be attacked if its bases
are found in Burma.
"Why not? They violated our sovereignty. It is the army
chief's policy for us to retaliate drastically."
Lt-Gen Surachet called the conference yesterday on instruction
from Army chief Gen Wimol Wongwanich, following a spate of
attacks on Karen refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border.
On Wednesday, there of five policemen manning an outpost at
Ban Mae Ngao in Sop Moei District, Mae Hong Son Province, were
killed by intruders believed to be DKBA soldiers. The DKBA
denies any responsibility for this attack.
Almost simultaneously at Ban Mae Sam Laeb, about 20 armed
intruders crossed the Salween River, torched a Karen refugee
camp and robbed nearby Thai villagers of 10,000 baht in
Army-trained rangers and about 50 intruders believed to be
DKBA fighters clashed at Huay Mae Pua, north of Mae Sam Laeb,
The incident was reported to the Mae Hong Son assistant
governor for security affairs by defence volunteers. Four
helicopter gunships were used against the intruders. No
reports of casualties emerged from either side.
Lt-Gen Surachet said witnesses to Wednesday's attack on the
outpost could not identify the attackers, "but we initially
suspected it was the work of the Buddhist Karen".
He said Thai border forces had not been able to take action
against the DKBA because of the rough terrain. Also, all Karen
refugee camps were very close to the border, making it
difficult for Thai forces to protect them.
Claims the Thai military's intelligence work was inefficient
had some grounds, he said.
"We accept the criticism because it is not possible for us to
succeed in all our work. We will have to improve our
intelligence work and coordinate more effectively with other
Lt-Gen Surachet said it was difficult to prevent Buddhist
Karens from infiltrating the refugee camps as it was hard to
differentiate between the Christians and Buddhists.
He denied the attacks on refugee camps might be collusion
between Thai and Burmese authorities.
"There has been no such collusion. We perform our duties
straightforwardly," he said.
The transfer of Task Force 34 commander Col Direk Yaemngamriab
was for reasons of "suitability", he said.
Lt-Gen Surachet said about 1,000 soldiers had reinforced
border areas in Tak and Mae Hong Son.
Gen Wimol said in Nakhon Pathom that Burma must be held
responsible for the incidents because the intruding forces
were all from Burma, regardless of which group they belonged
He said the military was duty-bound to take whatever action
was necessary to defend Thailand's sovereignty.
DKBA commander Lt-Gen Toe Hlaing told the Bangkok Post his
targets were elements of the Karen National Union (KNU) and
Karen refugees loyal to the KNU. He never thought about
attacking Thais or their forces.
Lt-Gen Toe Hlaing believes Wednesday's attack stems from
personal conflicts between Karen and local police.
Two or three months ago five Karens, two of them women, were
arrested while returning home after working in Chiang Mai.
"The police at the outpost extorted 20,000 baht from them, all
they had with them. What is worse is the police at the booth
raped the two women before letting them go," Lt Gen Toe Hlaing
He said He had learned that similar incidents had happened to
Burmese and Karen immigrants seeking jobs in Thailand but
those victims did not dare to inform the police.
Lt-Gen Toe Hlaing's information is similar to a report to
police chief Pote Boonyachinda by deputy police chief Gen
Chumpol Atthasart who was in Mae Hong Son to see the
Pol Lt-Gen Chumpol told the police chief by telephone that the
killing of the three officers on Wednesday might have been
sparked by the arrest of Karen leaders by Thai authorities.
The arrested were made after the leaders allegedly trespassed
on Thai territory and allegedly intimidated and physically
abused Thai officials.
Pol Lt-Gen Chumpol yesterday led senior police officers to
inspect the border where the outpost was attacked.
Prime Minister Chun Leekpai said initial reports reaching him
did not confirm which Karen group was behind the attack.
Gen Wimol's promise to take drastic action against the DKBA
would not affect Thai relations with Burma, Mr Chun said.
Burma had said the Buddhist Karens who torched refugee camps
were out of its control. (BP)
ARMED INCURSIONS BY KARENS EXPOSE DIPLOMATIC SHORTFALLS
5 May 1995
The repeated incursions into Thai territory, resulting in
death and destruction to Thais as well as Karen refugees, have
exposed flaws in the country's defence capacity and diplomatic
The statements of top men in the military establishment and
the foreign ministry have also shown up a familiar lack of
coordination that time and again has weakened the country's
position in issues important to Thai people as well as
Thailand's standing in the international community.
The three Thai policemen shot dead on Wednesday were the first
Thai fatalities in a series of cross-border raids by
pro-Rangoon forces that have taken place since April 19.
Killed at Ban Mae Ngao, in Sop Moei District, Mae Hong Son
Province, the policemen were believed to have been casualties
of the so-called Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).
For two weeks before that, the army widely believed to be
supplied by the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(Slorc) in Rangoon had rampaged on Karen settlements in a
series of raids on border areas of Mae Hong Son as well as
Karen homes at Ban Mae Tuen, in Tha Song Yang District of Tak,
were razed, the people's belongings stolen, and some 10 Karen
people abducted in the first raid on April 19 by an estimated
30 armed men of the DKBA.
Four days later, on April 23, the DKBA returned to the same
area, this time with a bigger contingent of about 100 armed
men. They burned five shanties and pushed some 50 Karens back
On the following day, another 400 armed men crossed the Moei
River for "secret" operations in Tha Song Yang. Nine Thai
villagers were forced to carry some injured armed men back to
Burma before they were later allowed to return to Thailand.
On April 25, about 300 armed men struck further north,
crossing the Salween River into Mae Hong Son. They clashed
with a Thai security unit, and burnt down dwellings at a Karen
settlement in the area before retreating.
In a second raid on the same day, another group hit a
temporary camp at Ban Kaemalaeko, in Tha Song Yang District of
Tak. Armed with heavy weapons, this group set fire to more
than 300 living shelters.
The DKBA leaders also threatened to continue their raids until
all the Karens return to Burma.
It was only after these two raids on April 25 that the Foreign
Ministry came out with a reaction. A written protest was
handed to the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc)
in Rangoon, and the Burmese Ambassador to Thailand U Tin Winn
was summoned for "discussions".
The fact that there have been more raids and worse violence
since then suggests complete lack of respect for Thailand's
observance of diplomatic propriety.
But a senior foreign ministry official insisted that the
protest letter was the best option. Thailand refrains from use
of force, believes such incidents can be solved at local
level, and does not want to further damage relations by
overreacting, the official said.
On the ground situation, Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Wimol
Wongwanich has prposed putting all Karen refugees now living
scattered in five districts of Tak Province into one centre
deeper inside Thailand.
The general argued that this would enable Thai authorities to
give better protection to the Karens.
Gen Wimol's proposal has drawn different responses from
Saranrom (the name of the palace where the Foreign Ministry is
housed)'s key men.
Deputy Foreign Minister Surin Patsuwan said he thought the
existing refugee camps - most of them located some 500 metres
from the Moei River - were already far enough from the border.
"We have to be sure, before moving the camps further from the
border, that there is enough space and safety for the refugees
and we must consider the effects on Thai people already living
there," he said.
Foreign Minister Krasae Chanawongse however said the Foreign
Ministry had no objection to the army chief's proposal.
The minister, who inspected the border area on Tuesday, also
said if he had to choose between human rights and national
security, he would choose the latter.
At the same time, the minister said Thailand did not want the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) playing
a role on the Thai-Burmese border.
Thailand wants to solve the refugee problem here on its own
because its experience with displaced Cambodians has shown
that international help prolongs the problem, he argued.
Thailand seeks a long-term solution, and this means Burma
attaining national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, said
Thai officials contend that constructive engagement will
improve economics in Burma and encourage Slorc to become a
more sociable member of the international community.
But years after sticking with the controversial policy, both
goals seem to be out of sight.
On the economic front, the Thai government has shelved a plan
to allocated 300 million baht to Burma for upgrading the
164-kilometre Tachilek_Keng Tung road after the Thai private
sector withdraw from the project in the middle of last year.
The Finance Ministry has also suspended a plan to reduce the
soft loan interest rate from 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent
pending a political decision.
As for the hope of persuading Slorc to become more sociable,
the experience of Karens and Thai villagers living in border
areas of Tak and Mae Hong Song should from a crucial part of
Ordinary people simply want to live in peace and have some
money to spend. They look to soldiers to provide defence, and
diplomats to be effective go-betweens. (BP)
ARMY POISED TO STRIKE KAREN
5 May 1995
SOLDIER REPORTED KILLED IN ANOTHER CROSS-BORDER RAID
THE army is preparing to raid a stronghold of the Rangoon-
backed DKBA, blamed for recent violent incursions into
Thailand, Third Region Commander Lt Gen Surachet Daechawangse
The toughest Army stand on the repeated raids by the DKBA was
announced as Associated Press reported that a fresh rampage by
the Karen faction yesterday left a Thai solider dead. The
report could not be immediately confirmed.
Surachet said that once the Army had located the group's base
it would launch a surprise attack, and cross into Burma if
"If they can enter Thailand, we can enter Burma, Gen Surachet
said at a press conference in Phitsanuluk called to announced
Reporters were given a tour of the command's operations
center; followed by the press conference, at the instruction
of Army Chief Wimol Wongwanich.
It followed criticism of the Army's failure to stem border
incursions by the DKBA, a renegade Karen group which allied
itself with the Rangoon military junta to oust its former
ally, the KNU from its Burmese bases in February.
The DKBA leadership has admitted conducting several raids on
Karen refugee camps in Thailand. It has not, however, claimed
responsibility for the most violent incident early Wednesday
morning in which heavily-armed intruders stormed a border
police outpost in Mae Hong Son and killed three policemen.
Gen Surachet admitted that blaming the Third Region Command
for its failure to effectively defend the Thai border is
partially legitimate, but he said the rugged nature of the
long border with Burma makes it impossible to close it
Gen Surachet gave firm assurance that any action against the
DKBA would be "abrupt and decisive", but refuse to go into
AP, quoting border army sources who requested anonymity, said
that about 50 DKBA men killed one Thai soldier yesterday and
wounded a second in an attack on 60 troops near the Mae Samlap
refugee camp in Mae Hong Son.
The sources, Thai soldiers in the area, said they called in
reinforcements and four helicopter gunship and within 30
minutes had forced the Karen back into Burma. Authorities
added about 700 men later yesterday to the 300 normally posted
in the area.
Authorities also borough in about 800 soldiers yesterday to
add to the 200 guarding the border in Tak province.
Despite the army's announcement that it was poised to strike
back, senior Thai army officials told The Nation last night
that a main obstacle such and operation would be the DKBA's
ability to quickly blend into Karen villages where there are
elderly people, woman and children.
Army chief Wimol earlier said a harsh Thai counter-attack
Light backfire "If shells hit children and women".
Wimol emphasized caution, but countering critism that the Army
had done little in response to the aggression, he hinted that
certain secret operations have been carried out.
"We can't solve big national problems with anger, emotion or
words. If we have to inform reporters of very move we make,
there will be no time to act," he said.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai yesterday reiterated that the
Army id free to take whatever action it deems fit.
"A green light (to counter-attack the intruders) need not be
granted. This means the Army has absolute power to respond
rationally to border violations,: he said.
Gen Surachet yesterday denied by the DKBA fighters and the
abduction of KNU leaders could not have succeed without the
help of some of his subordinates.
He also announced the Army had located two sites in Tha Song
Yang district of Tak Province which could provide a safe haven
for about 7,000 Karen refugees, but said no decision has been
made yet whether to relocate all 70,000 to one site.
He also echoed the Army's reluctance to allow the UNHCR to
take over administration of Karen camps. He explained that
UNHCR innervation would limit the Army's authority in dealing
with the border situation.
The Foreign Ministry has a separate mission, to use diplomatic
channels to settle the problem.
Foreign Minister Krasae yesterday defended Thailand's policy
od constructive engagement with Burma as the only way to win
Krasae also warned that any response to the Burmese border
incursions which generates further tension would be
detrimental to the interests of both countries.
"What Burma needs most it for us to increase confidence-
building measure," Krasae said.
The House Committee's call came after three months od
merciless military operations by Rangoon's forces against Gen
Bo Mya's border-based KNU and Khun Sa's MTA.
The operations triggered an influx of refugees into Thailand
and led to repeated intrusions by Burmese government troops
and their allies, the DKBA.
Three Thai border Patrol Police were killed in Mae Hong Son on
Kreasae said excluding Burma from the 28th Asean Ministerial
Meeting in Brunei in July as punishment would be counter
Burma attended the Asean annual meeting last year in Bangkok
last year as the guest of Thailand.
Krasae said he needs all the facts the military can provide
before he makes any decision about the border intrusions.
The House of Representatives briefly addressed the border
issue yesterday but finally suspended an urgent motion by New
Aspiration MP Krit Kongpetch who wanted immediate
parliamentary debate. (TN)
DOPE, BUCKS AND SPIES
Burma in Revolt: Opium and Insurgency Since 1948 by Bertil
General Li's 3rd Kuomintang army at Tam Ngob was the best
organized drug trafficking group in the region. The other main
unit, the 5th KMT under Duan Xiwen, was based at Mae Salong in
the hills northwest of Chiang Rai, but most of its troops were
active along the Mekong River in Laos, guided by the CIA and
assigned to collect intelligence from across the border in
As the Vietnam War was escalating, it was becoming of utmost
importance to find out about, and if possible, to disrupt, the
flow of Chinese weapons and other supplies to North Vietnam.
Apart from Gen. Duan's troops, there was also an... Elite unit
called... "Bataillon Special 111." Commanded by the highly
competent Li Teng, it was manned mainly by ex-POWs from the
Korean War. The allied forces had captured more than 20,000
Chinese PLA troops from the human-waves of young conscripts
which communists had sent down across the 38th parallel.
More than two-thirds of the Chinese POWs were violently
opposed to the idea of returning to their communist homeland,
and after careful vetting by Taiwanese intelligence agents, a
fair number of them were resettled on the Nationalist Chinese
island. The most trustworthy were given special training and
had slogans like "Death to Communism.!" Tattooed on their arms
to prevent defection. They were sent to the Chinese frontier
in northern Laos, where they remained for years as the most
secretive of all the mercenary gr valley of Mong Wa in eastern
Shan State, close to the Mekong River, served as a third major
The Vingngun base was perhaps the most important because of
its proximity to an area of Yunnan where even the central
Chinese government exercised little control. The base was led
by Col. Sao Tuensung, a high-ranking intelligence operative.
His three main assistants. "The Wei Brothers," were engaged in
both espionage and opium trading. Ma reported directly to the
CIA base at Nam Yu in northwestern Laos, passing on vital
intelligence on the movement of Chinese supplies to Hanoi and
to the Pathet Lao guerrillas in Laos. Observed French
researcher Catherine Lamour: "Ma Ching-ko had built up the
grandest infiltration operation of secret agents that ever
took place in any country after World War II."
The coexistence of drug trafficking networks and espionage
rings with U.S. connections has led many authors and
journalists to jump to the conclusion that drug money was used
the finance covert operations, and that the CIA was somehow
behind the traffic.
People with years in the field deny such allegations. U.S.
covert operations, they say, were financed by secret funds
from Washington. Drug money provided extra income, or "pocket
money", for some of the people who where involved in these
operations. In the case of the KMT, drug money was also
undoubtedly used to buy equipment and rations, and to pay
soldiers. In a surprisingly candid interview with a British
newspaper in 1967, Gen. Duan of the 5th KMT declaimed:
"We have to continue to fight the evil of communism and to
fight you must have an army, and an army must have guns, and
to buy guns you must have money. In these mountains the only
money is opium." (FEER)
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