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BurmaNet News 7th May #167
------------------------- BurmaNet ---------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: 7th May 1995
NATION: BORDER TENSION RISES AFTER ATTACK
NATION: BURMA CALLS FOR THAI HELP IN FIGHT TO CRUSH DRUG-KING KHUN SA
NATION: BURMA COUNTERFEITERS COULD GET LIFE
REUTERS: GUNSHIPS POUND INTRUDERS FROM BURMA
AP: BURMA'S INSURGENCY NOT OVER
BKK POST: BURMA SAYS 'NO MAJOR PROBLEMS'
BKK POST: OVER 2500 KAREN RETURN TO BURMA
BKK POST: US SENATE MAY SOON JOIN MOVES TO PUNISH BURMA
BKK POST: REFUGEES ALLEGE SLAVE LABOUR ON GAS PIPELINE
NOTES ON KAREN REFUGEE SECURITY
TRAFFICKING OF BURMESE WOMEN BILL INTRODUCED IN U.S. SENATE
PAPER by THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE UNION OF BURMA
REPORT: A MEETING OF NCUB'S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE
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Attention to BurmaNet
c/o National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
815 15th Street NW, Suite 609
Washington D.C. 20005
Tel: (202) 393-7342, Fax: (202) 393-7343
Attention to BurmaNet
c/o Burma Issues
PO Box 1076, Silom Post Office
Bangkok 10500 Thailand
Tel: (066) (02) 234-6674, Fax: (066) (02) 631 0133
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.
===== item =====
BORDER TENSION RISES AFTER ATTACK
PM still wants Burma at Asean and insists on no policy changes
7.5.95/ The Nation
Tensions were rising along the frontier with Burma last night
with Katen rebels threatenning to sack a Thai border town in
retaliation for Friday's blitz on their Salween River camp and
reports that Rangoon was moving thousands more trooops into the
Intelligence sources said yesterday leaders of the Democratic
Karen Buddhist Army [DKBA] had vowed to burn the riverside
township of Mae Sariang, in Mae Hong Son province, if Thai
security forces did not cease their retaliatory action within
Police in Tha Song Yang district, Tak province,said they had
reports that Burmese troops had announced yesterday they intended
attacking and burninig Chokona Camp, about 300 metres inside
Thailand from the Moei River.
The camp houses 3-4,000 followers of both the Karen National
Union [KNU] and the DKBA, which broke away from the KNU in
December and allied itself with Rangoon.
On Friday, a radio broadcast in Burmese which jammed the police
redio network in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, said regular
Burmese army troops intended to raze the town's border market,
which adjoins theBurmese town of Tachilek.
The message prompted provincial governor Khamron Buncherd to call
an urgent meeting of border authority in the middle of the night
to prepare for the possible attack.
As of last night, no incident had been reported. Police sources
speculated the Burmese announcement was just meant to scare
Burmese people from crossing into Thailand. They said Burmese
troops often jammed their redio network.
Border sources said three Burmese helicopters on Friday flew near
Tachilek in an appaarent attempt to unnerve Thai security forces.
Meanwhile , fighting was reported in Shan State, an estimated 15
kiometres inside Burma opposite Mae Sai, as Burmese troops
continued to assault the strongholds of opium warlord Khun Sa and
his Mong Tai Army.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai yesterday stood firm on his
government's policy of constructive engagement with the Rangoon
junta and said Thailand would continue to back Burma's attendance
at the annual meeting of Asean in Brunei in July.
He said the current border tension should not affect policy.
"The border battles are specific incidents. We should not let
them undermine the main policy. We must stand firm and not be
shaken by the problem," he said
Chuan said he believed available Thai-Burmese border committees
would be able to deal with the problem.
He would welcome the return to Burma of the Karen refugees in
Thailand if Rangoon wanted them back , but that could be done
through negotiations involving various government and military
In Rangoon , the powerful first secretary of the ruling State Law
and Order Restoration Council [SLORC], Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, echoed
Speaking ahead of a visit by Laotian President Nouhak Phomsavanh,
he said Burma did not regard any " existing misunderstanding"
with its neighbours as a serious problem .
But " external instigations"may distort the situation, and "minor
problems can be exacerbated into major ones, "Khin Nyunt said .
Political analysts linked the remarks to Burma's relations with
Thailand rather than Laos.
State-owned newspapers in Burma have carried a series of articles
recently criticizing Thailand for its failure to cooperate with
Rangoon in its bid to crush Khun Sa and his followers.
Police and Army intelligence sources said Burmese army had moved
an extra 4-5,000 troops to Myawadi and Maetawaw camp, opposite
Thailand's Tak province.
According to the sources, three Burmese helicopters on Friday
flew near Tachilek in an apparent attempt to unnerve This
On Friday , four Thai Army helicopter gunships operating from
Thai airspace sprayed rebel positions just across the Salween and
Moei rivers in Burma with gunfire and rockets , inflicting heavy
There was no official casualty toll, but unconfirmed reports said
as many as 100 Karen guerrillas were killed.
The Thai attack followed several weeks of cross -border
incursions by raiders from Burma on Karen refugee camps, which
they targeted for arson, abductions and murders.
Border intelligence squads yesterday confirmed the Burmese had
reinforced Myawadi and Maetawaw with troops and artillery .
They also quoted DKBA fighters operating in the area as
confirming that the Burmese army did supply both provisions and
arms for DKBA operations against KNU followers residing in
Government and military leaders yesterday confirmed Thai security
forces had hit Karen camps from the air in Friday , but gave no
further details . They defended the actions as " appropriate" .
Defence Minister Vijit Sookmak said the Army had responded
according to the situation . Foreign Minister Krasae Chanawongse
also defended the reprisal raids.
*Reuter reports from Rangoon : A leading Burmese military
official said on Friday the government expects to hold peace
talks with the Karen rebel group within the next few months. The
Karen are one of the few remaining ethnic rebel groups still
fighting Burma's military government. More than a dozen other
groups have signed cease fire agree ments in recent years.
" We won't be meeting with them this month ," said Col Kyaw
Thein, a defence spoksman." But we will be meeting each other in
the next few months."
===== item =====
BURMA CALLS FOR THAI HELP IN FIGHT TO CRUSH DRUG-KING KHUN SA
RANGOON-_ With cooperation from Thailand, Burma could crush drug-
king Khun Sa and his troops in a matter of months a military
spokesman said on Friday.
Speaking in the border town of Tachilek, regional control
commander Brigadier General Kyaw Win said the Burmese government
has already urged the Thais to cooperate in coping with Khun Sa.
With cooperation from the Thai side, we could crush Khun Sa in a
matter of months, he told a group of foreign military attaches
and reporters flown to this town, some 440 kilometers northeast
of the capital in eastern Shan state this morning.
Kyaw Win also said a sox-point proposal to this effect had been
submitted at the recent joint-border committee meeting in
Thailand last month but there has been no response yet from the
In a briefing on the latest government offensive against Khun Sa,
Kyaw Win said between March 11 and May 4, Burmese soldiers had
fought 55 major battles against Khun Sa's Mon Tai Army (MTA)
forces in the Patumaing area in Shan state.
He added that 218 enemy had been killed against 76 government
dead and 176 wounded.
This was the first time in recent weeks that the military
government here made public its continuing offensives against the
The reports in state-run newspapers have hitherto been confined
to isolated incidents where innocent people were killed by
followers of Khun Sa in different parts of Shan state.
Military attaches from the United States, Japan and China were
taken along with a selected group of journalists to the site of
one of Khun Sa's strong-holds which had just been captured.
Some 38 of Khun Sa's other outposts in the area were also overrun
by government troops during the fifty-five days fighting, the
Khun Sa alias Chang Chi-fu, 60 has in recent weeks become one of
the main targets of the military here which has vowed to crush
In a series of officially inspired newspaper articles,
authorities here have criticized Thailand for lack of cooperation
in their offensives against Khun Sa expressing doubts as regards
===== item =====
BURMA COUNTERFEITERS COULD GET LIFE
The Nation-The Region/7.5.95
RANGOON_ Burma has amended a central bank law whereby
counterfeiters of bank notes and coins will receive prison terms
of 10 years to life, the government newspaper New Light of
Myanmar reported yesterday.
On April 9, three Thai men arriving from Bangkok were arrested at
Rangoon airport with five suitcases filled with 100 million kyats
worth of fake Burma bank notes. Six Burma kyats equal one US
===== item =====
THE NATION- LETTERS
Rangoon disclaims ties with DKBA
Whether it is independent or not, the voice of a newspaper should
not only reflect and promote the interest of its country but also
cultivate and promote goodwill, friendship and understanding
among nations. We believe that a newspaper, especially in dealing
with bilateral issues and a neighbouring country, should promote
this principles rather than breed hatred and misunderstanding,
which may blow out of proportion into confusion among its
readers. It is depressing to find that certain newspaper
reportage seem to be trying their best to make the recent border
situation look really bad.
A title in bold face on the front page of a local newspaper dated
May 4, 1995, such as "Burmese raiders killed three policemen", is
misleading indeed. The raiders the newspaper wished to refer to
are, in fact, the members of DKBA , a breakaway faction of the
KNU. The recent incursion of the DKBA into Thai soil are neither
backed by Myanmar government nor its armed forces involved in any
way. The DKBO is solely liable for these incursions. The Myanmar
government is not in the position to control the activities of
the DKBA, which still has to come into the legal fold. AT the
same time it is understandable for us they whatever action taken
by Thai security forces to defend it territory from the DKBO is
within its own rights.
Embassy of the Union Of Myanmar
After a protracted stay with a dear friend in Papua New Guinea, I
flew to Bangkok last evening with utter trepidation of having the
aircraft brought down in the outskirts of the city by DKBA anti-
aircraft fire. I am making a novena to our lady in lady
thanksgiving for my safe arrival.
Perhaps it is time to give emergency training to the boys scouts
and girls guides of the nation and get them out to the borders to
defend the country, if the army is incapable or unwilling to face
As I understand it, the Royal Thai government does not
acknowledge that there are any Burmese refugees living in
Bangkok, only illegal Burmese aliens, who are promptly deported
after being rounded up by the local police. If that is the case,
can anyone tell me why the UNHCR maintains such an extensive,
well-paid staff here in Bangkok? The UNHCR refuses to feel that
it is obligated to assist anyone in Bangkok rather than
individuals whom they have designated as "persons of concern".
However, it is alleged too often to be doubted that Burmese
wishing to travel to Bangkok from the border area generally have
to pay bribes to authorities in the neighbourhood of baht 2-3000
thousand to get pass the check points. If that is the case - as
it appears it is - then how can these people even get to the
offices of the UNHCR to apply for status as "person of concern"?
Isn't it time the UNHCR moved most of its staff out to the border
areas where Burmese actually have ready access to their services?
All that is needed here in Bangkok is one or two social workers
for the immigration detention unit, liaison for the student safe
area and for other social programmes. It's only fair to get most
of the UNHCR staff, including its administration, out to where
they can do the job they were sent to do.
===== item =====
GUNSHIPS POUND INTRUDERS FROM BURMA
May 6 (Reuters)
MAE SAM LAEB, Thailand (Reuter) - Thai army helicopter
gunships, firing machine guns and rockets, Saturday attacked a
group of Burmese-backed guerrillas dug in on a northwestern Thai
The gunships flew at least four sorties against about 150
guerrillas who Thai army officers said crossed a border river
and dug in on a Thai mountain about one mile south of this
deserted border trading settlement.
The guerrillas are members of a faction which broke away
from Burma's Christian-led anti-Rangoon Karen guerrilla army and
joined Burmese government forces in December.
Hundreds of members of the faction, the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army (DKBA), crossed into Thailand last week and burned
hundreds of bamboo-and-thatch houses in several refugee camps.
The DKBA say they want all 70,000 Karen refugees in camps in
Thailand, most of whom fled military offensives and human-rights
abuses in Burma, to return and live under their control.
Outraged by the cross-border raids that have killed several
Thais as well as refugees, Thailand has sent more than 1,000
reinforcements and a formidable array of military hardware to
reinforce the frontier.
Thai forces launched a cross-border attack on the guerrillas
Friday, hitting one jungle camp at the confluence of the Salween
and Moei rivers with salvos of missiles from helicopter
gunships, a Thai army spokesman said.
Meanwhile hundreds of refugees at the center of the
confrontation are returning to Burma convinced it is the only
place they will find tranquillity.
One diplomat said Saturday the raiders from Burma appeared
to be achieving what they intended. The attacks were making life
for the refugees in Thailand so precarious they saw returning to
Burma as the only way to find some security.
Since the DKBA stepped up cross-border attacks on the
refugees last week the flow of people going back to Burma has
surged from a few dozen to more than 250 a day, Thai authorities
According to Thai statistics more than 5,000 Karen refugees
have gone back in recent months and the pace of returns was
picking up, officials said.
===== item =====
BURMA'S INSURGENCY NOT OVER
May 6 (AP)
RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- In less than seven years, Burma has
accomplished something noteworthy to other nations wracked by
separatist fighting: peace deals with almost all the rebel groups
that have battled the central government for a half-century.
But the peace with Burma's ethnic minorities could prove
illusory unless authoritarian military rule gives way to greater
democracy for all, critics say. Some minority leaders are
complaining the government is not living up to its promises.
Analysts say a failure to solidify the peace could leave Burma
facing a Yugoslavia-style dismemberment or endemic conflict that
saps the potentially rich nation. Keeping the peace will require a
government system that harmonizes the goals of the Burman majority
with some 70 minority groups, they say.
The junta, which seized power in 1988 after crushing a democracy
uprising, largely used negotiations to bring 14 of 16 insurgent
groups into what it calls ``the legal fold.'' Secreted in jungles
and mountains, some of the rebels had been fighting since Burma
gained independence from Britain in 1948.
``Right now these armed groups are not fighting ... Right now
they are quite satisfied with the agreement reached between the
government and their groups. We have tried to solve this problem
forever,'' Lt. Col. Kyaw Thein, a key officer in the talks with
rebels, told Western reporters recently.
But despite the success in stilling the insurgencies, opponents
of the junta say it has not eliminated the roots of rebellion -- the
quest by minorities for greater autonomy and eradication of poverty
in long-neglected regions.
As part of the cease-fire pacts, the rebels are still armed and
control their own territories. Some groups, such as the powerful
Wa, use profits from the world's largest opium and heroin trade to
buy more arms.
The government ``didn't defeat anybody in the field,'' said
Josef Silverstain, an American expert on Burma with close ties to
rebel groups. ``The civil war isn't over by a long shot. Everybody
still has their weapons and they're not getting promised aid.''
Gen. Khin Nyunt, a leading member of the ruling junta, said
recently that the government has spent more than $20 million since
1989 to help ethnic minorities under the cease-fire agreements.
But reports from Kachin and Wa areas of northern and
northeastern Burma challenge this assertion and say disillusionment
about the truces could bring renewed conflict. Two groups, the
Karen National Union and New Mon State Party, are still fighting.
Asked about the junta's claims on money spent for minorities,
Chao Nyi Lai, secretary-general of the United Wa State Party who
signed a peace accord, said, ``It's a lie.'' He spoke earlier this
year with journalist Thierry Falise who traveled to the Wa area.
The Wa and seven other armed groups formed the Peace and
Democratic Front late last year, calling for greater democracy,
access to the national leadership and a say on development in their
regions. The front, which could field some 40,000 soldiers, is
discussing military options.
Minority leaders say a national convention working on a new
constitution for Burma is stage-managed by the military and
minority representatives have no power to shape it. Thus any
charter coming out of the convention will not prove lasting, they
Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize
winner now in her sixth year of house arrest, has stressed that
civil war can end only when all of Burma's people democratically
decide on a course for the country.
But with one of the most complex ethnic mixes in the world, some
analysts fear even democracy and a federal union might prove
Bertil Lintner, author of a recent book on Burma's insurgency
and narcotics trafficking, notes ethnic turmoil erupted in the
former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union following political
Lintner thinks the rebel groups face a new world. ``The
geopolitics have changed,'' he said in an interview. ``I think the
rebel armies belong to the past, to history.''
Previously, Thailand, China and India for various reasons
supported Burma's insurgents, but now its neighbors are more eager
for a stable country where economic profit can be reaped.
Still, Lintner and others warn, even without actual fighting,
smoldering tensions and unresolved differences would undermine
Burma's efforts to end its international isolation and build the
===== item =====
BURMA SAYS 'NO MAJOR PROBLEMS'
A Key Burmese leader claims there are no major problems with any
of the country's neighbours, although he warns that outside
interference could stir up trouble.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Rangoon by Laotian President Nouhak
Phomsavanh, Lt- Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council, said Burma did not
regard any "existing misunderstanding" with its neighbours as a
But "external instigation" may distort the situation, and minor
problems can be exacerbated into major ones," he said.
Political analysts in Rangoon linked the remarks to Burma's
relations with Thailand rather than Laos. The remarks were seen
as significant in light of tensions between Burma and Thailand.
===== item =====
OVER 2500 KAREN RETURN TO BURMA
More than 25,00 Karen refugees in Tha Song Yang District have
returned to Burma in the past two weeks following the raids of
three Karen refugee camps by Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
Informed sources here said the refugees from Huay Ma Noke and
Kamaw Lay Kho camps reluctantly went back because they were
afraid of further attacks by renegade Karens.
Most of the returnees hire hired long tailed boats which took
them to Mae Ta Wah camp on the Burmese side after they underwent
searches by Thai border officials. They were received upon
arrival at the pier in Mae Ta Wah by members of DKBA.
Informed Border Patrol Police sources said between 100-200 Karen
refugees had returned to Burma through Mae Ta Wah each day since
last month. At least 6,000 Karens have returned since the
beginning of this year, said the sources.
Pu Aye Daw, leader of Hway Ma Noke camp which was touched by DKBA
forces, complained that the remaining refugees have been living
in temporary shelters around the burned-out camp. The conditions,
he said, are bad and will get worse with the arrival of rain.
He said that most refugees wanted to be relocated as quickly as
===== item =====
US SENATE MAY SOON JOIN MOVES TO PUNISH BURMA
The United States' Senate may soon join several city and state
legislatures that have passed or are considering measures calling
for economic sanctions against Burma.
Senator Mitch Mc Connell, the Kentucky Republican who initiated
sanction legislation against South Africa in 1986, said he was
considering a similar bill against a Burmese regime that has been
harshly criticised for allowing widespread human rights abuse and
"This is a fairly simple issue for me," Mr. Mc Connell said in a
telephone interview with The Washington Times.
He called on the US to take a leadership role in its opposition
to the illegitimate Burmese government.
Burma has been ruled by the military State Law and Order
Restoration Council [SLORC],since 1988, when it instituted
martial law against a student pro-democracy movement.
Mr McConnell anticipates sanction legislation could be introduced
in the next few weeks.
There is strong bipartisan support for such a bill, according to
Robin Cleveland, an aide to Mr McConnell. Just last week , the
Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution that urges
an international economic boycott of Burma until the human rights
violations cease and control of the government has been
transferred to the winners of the 1990 democratic election.
The measure also named several corporations whose continued
investment in Burma " supports the military government and its
cruelty toward the Burmese people".
That action followed the Berkeley, California, city council's
February 28 decision to boycott the goods and services of
companies doing business in Burma.
The city was the first to pass such a bill in the anti-apartheid
campaign against South Africa.
The Massachusetts legislature's House Ways and Means Committee is
also considering a no-business-in -Burma bill that would prevent
the state from purchasing or doing business with companies that
invest in the country.
The state passed a similar bill against South Africa in the
The involvement of many of the same politicians and legislatures
active in the South African campaign in no coincidence .
Supporters of divestment in Burma say the successful efforts
against apartheid prove such sanctions can succeed.
The new South Africa demonstrates that economic pressure can be
effective in moving government away from oppression, according to
state representative Byron Rushing ,who introduced the
Legislation like that passed in Berkeley and Seattle could cause
corporations doing business in Burma to lose millions of dollars
of municipal and senior analyst at the Franklin Research firm in
"As cities and states penalise companies doing business in Burma,
the process will build political support for federal economic
sanction." he said.
Burma is barred from receiving US government aid because of the
The Macy's department store chain last month announced its
decision to end business activity in Burma.
===== item =====
REFUGEES ALLEGE SLAVE LABOUR ON GAS PIPELINE
Thai French and American oil companies, already under fire for
the Tavoy pipeline they are building in collaboration with
Burma's military regime, now face allegations from refugees
arriving at the Thai border of wide-scale slave labour directly
on the pipeline.
These are the first detailed accounts of slave labour on the
Previous allegations have focused on the Ye-Tavoy railway line,
which is being built by tens of thousands of slave labours, but
which the oil companies claim is not related to their project.
If the accounts given by the refugees prove accurate, the number
of villagers subject to forced labour on the pipeline could be
will into the thousands.
see Sunday perspective 17,24
" They took my field for the pipeline ," says Kyaw Myint, one of
the refugees from along the Thai border.
"They took my income. Before the pipeline , there was forced
labour, but it was possible to live. Now it [forced labour ]is
all the time.
" Now ,I cannot eat with my family openly and in peace. I cannot
sleep with my family openly and in peace. When they see a man ,
they take him for labour. I had to leave."
Another refugee gives a similar account of the situation along
the pipeline route , saying : " When they [Slorc] ask for money,
I always gave. When they asked for forced labour , I went. But in
the night, the soldiers still come to take `emergency forced
The natural gas pipeline is being built by French and American
oil-giants Total and Unocal, in partnership with Burma's ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council [Slorc].
The sole consumer for the gas is the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand [Egat] with pipeline construction on the
Thai side being done by the PTTEP [Petroleum Authority of
Thailand Exploration and Production Public Co Ltd], a subsidiary
of the Petroleum Authority of Thailand .
Under the terms of a 30 year contract signed on February 2,
Thailand will initially pay the companies and the Slorc $400
million per year for gas pumped from the Yadana field in the Gulf
The pipeline will cut through 65 kilometers of land belonging to
members of the Tavoyan, Karen and Mon ethnic minorities in Burma.
On February 2, in a ceremony in held in Rangoon, representatives
from Unocal, Total and the PTTEP and the Burmese gathered to sign
a final contract. At the signing, J.M. Beuque, signatory for
Total, refused comment on allegations that the pipeline would
lead to human rights abuses, saying: "This is not the time to
talk politics, this is the time to celebrate."
At 6 a.m. the next day, land clearing using slave labour began at
a village called Hpaungdaw, claims refugees from the area.
According to the refugees, they were ordered to clear 300-foot-
wide right-of-way for the pipeline and accompanying roadway,
starting at the sea.
By the refugees' accounts, forced labour on the pipeline
consisted of cutting trees and vegetation, pulling stumps,
knocking down structures and breaking rocks.
Work began at 6 a.m. and went on each day until 5 p.m with a two-
hour break at midday.
The villagers claim that no one was paid and that workers and
their families had to provide their own food.
Laying of the pipeline is not a scheduled to begin until later
this year or in early 1996, under the supervision of French
By then, the forced labour phase of the construction is likely to
According to Kevin Heppner, a Canadian working with the Karen
Human Rights Group, the Slorc has used forced labour in the
preparatory phases of several previous oil developments before
foreign personnel were brought for technology-intensive phases of
"That way", claims Heppner, "the white guys can say with a
straight face that they didn't see anything.
===== item =====
TRAFFICKING OF BURMESE WOMEN BILL INTRODUCED IN SENATE
by SENATOR PATTY MURRAY U.S.A. (D-WA)
Dear Burma Watchers,
The Seattle group was successful in persuading Senator Murray to
introduce in the Senate the sense of Congress resolution (see below)
that was introduced earlier by Rep. Louise Slaughter in the House.
This is important because most Congressional offices don't really
take such resolutions seriously unless there are bills in both the
House and Senate. Having it introduced in both places is indicative
that there are real plans to pass it, rather than just have it
introduced to appease some group of constituents. The Murray bill is
exactly the same as the Slaughter bill (H. Con. Res. 21).
I have spoken to both Murray and Slaughter's staff persons and their
view is to try and line up as many co-sponsors as possible in the
next few months. Slaughter and Murray are both planning to issue
"Dear Colleague" letters urging their colleagues to co-sponsor but
the grass-roots will have to do its part too with letters and phone
calls. When an elected representative reads the actual text of the
bill, there is really very little they could be opposed to -- after
all, everyone is against forced prostitution and trafficking of women
(with the exception of the corrupt Thai police and brothel owners
profiting from it). It's just focusing their attention to get them to
co-sponsor that is difficult.
Please take the time to write or call your Senators to tell them to
examine the bill and co-sponsor it. If they want additional
information on this situation in Thailand, they should talk to Human
Rights Watch/Asia in Washington, D.C. at (202) 371-6592. The report
they want to obtain from them is called "A Modern Form of Slavery:
Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand".
It's very comprehensive in detailing this horrible situation.
According to Slaughter's staffperson, Kate Keplinger, Human Rights
Watch/Asia was thrilled to learn about the introduction of the bill
in the Senate and will also be making calls to Senate offices.
I will be continuing to monitor the situation and staying in touch
with Murray and Slaughter's staff. You can reach me at (301)
270-1009 (h), (202) 778-4517 (w) or reaproy@xxxxxxxx for updates.
Thanks for your interest -- good luck! Cheers, Phil Robertson
S. CON. RES. 12
Expressing the sense of the Congress concerning the trafficking of
Burmese women and girls into Thailand for the purposes of forced
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 4 (legislative day, May 1), 1995
Mrs. Murray submitted the following concurrent resolution; which
was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
Expressing the sense of the Congress concerning the trafficking of
Burmese women and girls into Thailand for the purposes of forced
Whereas credible reports indicate that thousands of Burmese women
and girls are being trafficked into Thailand with false promises of
good paying jobs in restaurants or factories, and then forced to
work in brothels under slavery-like conditions that include sexual
and physical violence, debt bondage, exposure to HIV, passport
deprivation, and illegal confinement;
Whereas credible reports also indicate that members of the Thai
police force are often actively involved in, and profit from, the
trafficking of Burmese women and girls for the purposes of forced
Whereas the United States Government conducts training programs for
the Thai police and United States arms and equipment are sold to
the Thai police;
Whereas the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women requires all States Parties `to take
all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all
forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women';
Whereas Article 1 of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the
Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and
Practices Similar to Slavery calls for the complete abolition or
abandonment of debt bondage;
Whereas forced labor, defined under the 1930 Forced Labor
Convention as `all work or service which is exacted from any person
under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has
not offered himself voluntarily,' is internationally prohibited;
Whereas the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in
Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others finds
the traffic in persons for the purposes of prostitution
`incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person,' and
calls on States Parties to punish any person who procures for the
purposes of prostitution, keeps, manages or knowingly finances a
brothel, or rents premises for the prostitution of others;
Whereas Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and
Humanitarian Affairs John Shattuck has testified that the United
States `urgently needs to encourage countries in which trafficking
of women and children goes on with impunity to enact new laws, and
to enforce existing laws. A particular target of this stepped-up
law enforcement should be government officials who participate in
or condone trafficking, as well as brothel owners and traffickers';
Whereas Secretary of State Warren Christopher stated before the
1993 World Conference on Human Rights that `(g)uaranteeing human
rights is a moral imperative with respect to both women and men':
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring),
That it is the sense of the Congress that--
(1) trafficking in persons violates the fundamental principle
of human dignity, and forced prostitution involving physical
coercion or debt bondage constitutes a form of forced labor and
a slavery-like practice;
(2) the United States State Department should continue to
press the Thai Government to strictly enforce all laws that can
lead to the prosecution of those involved in trafficking and
forced prostitution, including procurers, traffickers, pimps,
brothel owners, and members of the Thai police who may be
(3) the State Department should ensure that Thai police
participants in United States Government-sponsored police
training programs are systematically vetted to exclude those
who are implicated in trafficking and forced prostitution;
(4) the executive branch should take steps to assure that
weapons and equipment provided or sold to the Thai police do
not become available to members of those forces who might be
involved in trafficking, forced prostitution, or abuse of women
and girls who are apprehended;
(5) the State Department should urge the Thai Government to
protect the rights and safety of Burmese women and girls in
Thailand who are freed from brothels or who are arrested as
illegal immigrants because their status as trafficking victims
(6) the United States Agency for International Development
should target a portion of its assistance to Thailand for AIDS
prevention and control to the foreign population in Thailand,
particularly Burmese women and girls in the Thai sex industry;
(7) the State Department should report to Congress, within 6
months of the date of this resolution, on actions that it has
taken to advocate that the Thai Government implement the above
===== item =====
PAPER by THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE UNION OF BURMA
Position Paper on the ASEAN Meeting Scheduled for
July 21, 1995 in Brunei.
The National Council of the Union of Burma [NCUB] is the largest
umbrella organization of Burmese opposition groups. The four
groups that compose the NCUB represent the overwhelming majority
of the organized Burmese political opposition to the military
dictatorship of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
[SLORC] . The four component groups are the:
- National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma [NCUB]: A
parallel government composed of representatives elected in the
- National Democratic Front [NDF]: A coalition group composed of
the ethnic minority organizations.
- Democratic Alliance of Burma [DAB] : A coalition group composed
of both ethnic minority groups and multi-ethnic pro-democracy
- National League for Democracy[ NLD liberated area ]: The
political party that captured 80% of the parliamentary seats in
the May 1990 elections.
The National Council of the Union of Burma [NCUB] recognizes the
Association of South East Asian Countries [ASEAN] as the most
important regional organization in this part of the world.
Although a regional organization, the position and policies of
ASEAN have direct and important internal effects on each country
in the region. Recognizing the full significance of the role of
ASEAN in regional affairs, and more specifically, the significant
effects of ASEAN policy on the country of Burma, the NCUB, as the
largest umbrella organization of Burmese opposition groups,
submits this Position Paper regarding ASEAN's upcoming July 21,
NCUB POSITION NUMBER ONE:
The NCUB strongly objects to the invitation extended by ASEAN to
the SLORC military dictatorship of Burma to attend the upcoming
ASEAN meeting as an observer. NCUB asks ASEAN to withdraw this
Analysis of Position Number One:
ASEAN has been engaged in an official policy of "constructive
engagement" with the SLORC military dictatorship in Burma. This
policy was designed to stimulate significant improvement in the
human rights situation and to promote the democratization of
Burma through a series of mainly business contacts and
connections between the ASEAN nations and the country of Burma.
Unfortunately, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
[SLORC], which holds power illegally in Burma, has not responded
to this policy of constructive engagement. The situation in Burma
concerning human rights and democratization is as bad today as it
was when the ASEAN policy of constructive engagement began. This
is easily demonstrated by reviewing facts such as:
-Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has not been released. This is
a stain on the reputation of all of South East Asia. The only
Nobel laureate anywhere in the world being held under arrest is
held by a South East Asian government.
-No effort is being expended by SLORC to implement the results of
the May 1990 election. All international observers and SLORC
itself admits this was a free and fair election which expressed
the will of the people of Burma . But SLORC has consistently
refused to recognize the results of this election, thereby
turning itself into an illegal regime.
-Instead of trying to implement the results of the May 1990
election, SLORC has attempted to hold a so-called " National
Convention" to write a sham constitution that will permanently
enshrine the military as the real government of Burma. SLORC
knows that no such constitution would ever be approved in a free
and fair referendum of the people of Burma. So it has resorted to
the bogus and illegitimate device of calling a so-called
"National Convention," which consists of delegates picked by and
approved by SLORC. A smattering of token, so-called "opposition"
delegates also approved by SLORC were cynically thrown into the
process in a failed attempt to convey legitimacy on the bogus
"National Convention". [ However, even with this hand-picked
body, opposition to the SLORC military dictatorship runs so deep
in Burmese society, that the so-called National Convention has so
far refused to turn out a document acceptable to SLORC despite
several years of work ]
-The human rights situation in Burma has not improved. For
example, in March 1995, Amnesty International released another
report detailing how the SLORC government continues to
systematically subject many thousands of its citizens to back
breaking forced labor in order to move military supplies for the
army and to build government construction projects. Once again,
SLORC creates a stain on the reputation of all of South East Asia
which now becomes the only region of the world where the practice
of temporary enslavement of the population is employed by a
government. This barbaric practice has been abandoned everywhere
in the world except in the South East Asia country of Burma, and
by inviting SLORC as an observer to the Brunei meeting, ASEAN
will be seen by many as accepting temporary enslavement as a
legitimate device of government . Such a perception can only hurt
ASEAN's international reputation.
SLORC's treatment of ethnic minorities has not improved. We need
look no further than the latest offensive conducted against the
Karen minority, to see an example of SLORC's continuing anti-
minority policy at work. In December 1994, SLORC abruptly broke
its own declared cease fire in the Karen area and launched a full
scale military offensive against the Karens. In February 1995,
the SLORC army eventually succeeded in occupying Marneplaw, the
Karen capital, in February 1995 and in pushing thousands of Karen
refugees over the border into Thailand. In order to carry out
this operation, SLORC armed and financed a small bland of break-
away Karens, establishing them as a SLORC ethnic front
organization under the name of the Democratic Karen Buddhist
Organization [DKBO]. This is an example of the cynical divide and
rule policy that SLORC employs when dealing with Burma's ethnic
minorities. Force , bribery, and the creation and stimulation of
internal rivalries and divisions continue to be the hallmarks of
SLORC's ethnic minority policy. Lasting peace in Burma can never
come from such a policy - no matter how many temporary cease-
fires are signed by ethnic groups under military duress.
Purely token gestures such as the recent SLORC release of several
illegally imprisoned political opponents should be noted for what
they are: cynical gestures designed to demonstrate bogus human
rights improvement, at the politically correct moment, when in
reality SLORC has shown no intention of improving Burma's human
rights disaster. Merely let any one of the small handful of
recently released prisoners try and exercise their universally
accepted human right to publicly criticize their government, and
SLORC's reaction would tell the true current story of human
rights in Burma.
In summary, SLORC has thumbed its nose at the ASEAN policy of
constructive engagement .It has not followed through in any
meaningful way on the democratization and human right's reforms
that the policy of constructive engagement was designed to
encourage . The military dictatorship of Burma should not be
rewarded for this behavior with an invitation as an observer to
the July 21st ASEAN meeting . The NCUB at this time formally
urges ASEAN to retract the invitation at the earliest possible
NCUB POSITION NUMBER TWO:
The NCUB urges ASEAN to either scrap its policy of constructive
engagement, or at the very least, to modify the policy to make
its continuance conditional on specific actions begin taken on
the part of SLORC that would demonstrate a genuine commitment to
making progress on the critical issues of human rights and
democratization in Burma.[ The release of Aung San Suu Kyi would
be an example of such an action.]
Analysis of Position Number Two :
Since the current policy of constructive engagement with SLORC
was started by ASEAN, the following results can be listed:
-No perceptible improvement in human rights or democratization.
-A flood of opium production. Between 1988 when SLORC first took
power and 1993, opium production in Burma more than doubled to
2,500 tons and this year some experts are predicting a record
opium crop approaching the 4,000 ton level. Burma, under SLORC,
is the growing, undisputed number one source of opium in the
world. Once again the Southeast Asia region receives a stain on
its international reputation because of the policies adopted by
the Burmese military dictatorship .
-A flood of refugees. Hundreds of thousands of Burmese refugees
prefer to live in primitive refugee camps in Thailand rather than
live in Burma under a brutal military dictatorship which has a
policy of respecting neither human rights nor the rights of
ethnic minorities .Hundreds of thousands of Burmese refugees are
also to be found on the Bangladesh border as a direct result of
SLORC's long-standing policy of discrimination against its Muslim
-More regional instability.
After the military offensive against Marneplaw , SLORC troops or
members of ethnic SLORC front organizations crossed the river
forming the international boundary with Thailand to kill, kidnap
and rob refugees . This was a direct threat to the sovereignty of
its neighbor, and Thailand closed its border with Burma on April
Explosion in the size of the army at the expense of national
Even though it faces no current military threat from its
neighbors, SLORC has added 150,000 men to its armed forces which
now stands at 350,000. This staggering increase in military size
has been necessary because SLORC is an illegal government,
overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Burma in the May 1990
elections, and SLORC can only stay in power by deploying massive
military force against its own people. As a result, SLORC spends
70% of the national budget on the armed forces in order to
control the people of Burma who demonstrated in a free and fair
election that they do not want SLORC to be their government. This
leaves a pitifully inadequate 30% to be spent on national
development. This is a very inappropriate way to try and run a
As can be seen by reviewing the list above, the results of the
ASEAN policy of constructive engagement have not been
encouraging. In fact, the results have been nothing short of
disastrous for the great majority of the people of Burma, as well
as for the reputation of the Southeast Asian part of the world.
Only firm coordinated international and regional pressure against
SLORC will change the situation for the better. For this reason,
the NCUB proposes that at the July 21 meeting, ASEAN countries
carefully reviews the policy of constructive engagement with an
eye towards abolishing it because it has been a manifest failure
in causing any constructive change in the behavior of the SLORC
military dictatorship. At the very least, ASEAN countries should
consider modifying constructive engagement by making continuance
of that policy contingent on SLORC taking certain clear, well-
defined actions [ such as the unconditional release of Aung San
Suu Kyi ] that would demonstrate a genuine commitment to change
and reform .
NCUB POSITION NUMBER THREE:
The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma [NCGUB]
should be invited, as an observer, to the July 21 ASEAN meeting.
Analysis of Position Number Three:
Both the SLORC and the NCGUB are governments with defects. The
primary defect of SLORC is that it is an illegal government. It
was openly and overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Burma and
it continues to rule through force of arms only, which is to say
it continues to rule illegally. The primary defect of the NCGUB
is that it does not physically control the majority of the
territory of Burma. The NCGUB nevertheless has the stronger legal
claim to be the current legitimate government of Burma in that
its members were at least elected to positions in the Burmese
parliament by the people of Burma in the free and fair elections
of May 1990. In a battle between defective governments, ASEAN
should not be seen as favoring guns and force over ballots and
free elections. The minimum required in this situation is a
parallel invitation to the NCGUB, if SLORC is to be accorded
NCUB POSITION NUMBER FOUR:
Regardless of how the question of SLORC's attendance at the July
21, 1995 ASEAN meeting is resolved, ASEAN should use all of its
available influence to persuade the SLORC:
1. to release unconditionally and immediately Nobel Peace Prize
Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now in her sixth year of
detention trial, and other political prisoners, as is
specifically called for in UN General Assembly Resolution 49/100
of 13 December 1994, paragraph 4.
2.to take all necessary steps towards the restoration of
democracy in accordance with the will of the people as expressed
in the democratic elections held in May 1990, as is specifically
called for in UN General Assembly Resolution 49/100 13 December
1994, paragraph 7.
3.to permanently dissolve the so-called "National Convention".
This is a meeting of "delegates", (none of whom are elected by
the people to be delegates for the purpose of writing a
constitution, all of whom have been carefully pre-screened and
pre-selected by SLORC) whose declared purpose is to prepare a
national "constitution". The critical portions of this sham
document have already been predetermined by the SLORC military
dictatorship, and those critical portions naturally ensure
continuing military control of the government in violation of the
express will of the people voiced in the 1990 elections. The so-
called National Convention should be permanently dissolved
because in terms of legitimacy it is as illegal and illegitimate
as the illegal body -- SLORC - that called it into being and
controls its every move.
4.to initiate a " substantial political dialogue with Aung San
Suu Kyi and other leaders, including representatives from ethnic
groups " as expressly called for in UN General Assembly
Resolution 49/100 of 13 December 1994 , paragraph 5.
5.to engage in this "substantial political dialogue " under the
supervision of the UN secretary General or his representative.
6.to engage in substantive political dialogue with armed ethnic
organizations which lead to a political settlement of the
political problem underlying the long civil war, rather than
simply a military ceasefire.
Analysis of Position Number Four:
The four numbered points 1,2,4& 5 above, which NCUB calls upon
ASEAN to adopt at its July 21 meeting, require no analysis. They
are well established positions that the international community,
through the United Nations General Assembly has strongly
endorsed, and they are positions which ASEAN, in its critical
role as the leading regional organization in the South East Asia
community, is undoubtedly well familiar with and should be ready
to support with formal resolutions.
With regard to point 6 above, it has always been the position of
the opposition alliance that the political problems of Burma can
only be solved by political means. The most appropriate approach
to finding such a solution is for there to be a process of
political settlement involving all the political and ethnic
organizations. Unfortunately the SLORC has always refused to
agree to negotiate with any opposition organizations other than
the armed ethnic organizations, separately. Some ethnic
organizations have negotiated ceasefires separately with the
SLORC, some because of external pressure, some because of the
intolerable level of suffering of their people during the long
war, some because they have been prepared to see the ceasefire as
a necessary precondition for political dialogue. What is clear,
however, is that these ceasefires have not produced anything more
than an unstable end to hostilities. They do not end human rights
abuses by the Burmese military in ethnic areas, they do not open
the way to economic development, nor have they opened the way to
the necessary political dialogue other than an invitation from
the SLORC to attend their so-called National Convention. The
SOLRC must be persuaded that the negotiation of any ceasefire
must be a process of political dialogue which moves towards
genuine peace through a nation-wide ceasefire and a national
Point 3 above , calling for a permanent dissolution of the so-
called National Convention, may, however, be less familiar to
some ASEAN members, and the NCUB therefore offers the following
facts and analysis concerning this so-called "National
To fully understand the fraudulent nature of the so-called
"National Convention", it is first necessary to return to the
events preceding the nationwide multi-party elections held on May
27, 1990. These national elections were set up in response to
statements made in a public speech by General Saw Maung, the
Chairman of SLORC, eighteen months earlier on September 23, 1988.
This speech was made just five days after SLORC had seized power
in Burma and the Chairman, on behalf of SLORC, promised as
"We have no intentions to hold on power indefinitely .All
the armed forces personnel, my colleagues and I would like
to solemnly promise not to hold on power for a long time.
We will not break this promise for any reason. Moreover, we
additionally promise that the armed force, after
transferring power to a democratically elected civilian
government which will emerge from a free and fair election,
shall perform its principle tasks of defence, security of
the state and maintaining law and order and etc."
Subsequently, SLORC issued an election decree that called for
nationwide multi-party elections to held on May 27, 1990 for a
People's Assembly. During the approximately 14 month period of
electioneering activity preparatory to the elections, SlORC gave
state funds and numerous other forms of state support to the
National Unity Party [ NUP]. It was an open secret known to the
overwhelming majority of Burmese citizens and to the diplomatic
community in Rangoon that the NUP was the political party
supported by SLORC. SLORC apparently believed that the use of
significant amounts of state resources to support the NUP,
combined with severe restrictions placed on the opposition
parties [ for example , putting Aung San Suu Kyi, the leading
opposition figure, under house arrest during much of the
electioneering period] would insure a dominant NUP presence in
the new people's Assembly. When the results of the May 27, 1990
election were tallied , however ,the NUP won only a minuscule 10
out of the 485 seats. It was thus clear that the will of the
overwhelming majority of the Burmese people was that political
parties not connected to SLORC should control the new People's
Assembly. The Burmese people now waited for SLORC to announce
when it would carry out its promise to transfer power to the
newly elected People's Assembly which would then form an interim
Instead , on May 30 ,1990 , SLORC issued a formal statement
containing two parts . In the first part SLORC acknowledged that,
" We have carried out significant, free and fair multi-party
election." In the second part, SLORC made the following enigmatic
"Nevertheless, we have not yet finished our task. What we
have to realize is that, until and unless legitimate
government has been formed, we have to take responsibility
for peace and maintaining law and order in the country".
It soon became clear that SLORC would not allow the People's
Assembly [ a body it had created and named itself] to meet . The
promise publicly made by SLORC to the Burmese people and the
international community on September 23, 1988, to transfer
" power to a democratically elected civilian government which
will emerge from a free and fair election" would simply not be
honored by SLORC if it could not control the People's Assembly.
This situation nevertheless left the military dictatorship with a
very difficult problem. By refusing to honour the results of a
multi-party election, that SLORC itself had officially labeled
"free and fair", SLORC had turned itself into a completely
illegal government. It no longer had the pretext that its power
seizure was a legitimate temporary emergency measure designed to
prepare the way for multi -party elections. The first outline of
how SLORC would try deal with the problem of its own illegitimacy
after the elections of May 1990 came to light on June 1, 1990 at
a press conference. SLORC announced:
" Multi- party democracy election was successfully held on
May 27. However, until strong government has been formed
constitutionally, we have to take responsibility... The
new constitution must be drawn by the representatives from
the winning political parties; and, accordingly, the power
will be transferred to that legitimate government."
This June 1, 1990 statement revealed for the first time SLORC 'S
newly declared objective of writing a "new constitution" and then
transferring power to the "government" formed under this new
constitution. This idea of writing a "new constitution" was a
radical alteration of everything that had been promised and
planned before. The elections of May 27, 1990 had been for a
people's Assembly according to SLORC's own election decree. This
legislative body was to have received power from SLORC, formed an
interim government, and only then decided which method and which
timetable Burma would use in writing a new constitution. Not only
was SLORC 'S newly declared need for a new constitution, before
power could be transferred, a blatant example of changing the
rules in the middle of the game, SLORC's announced method of
writing this new constitution, by using "the representatives from
the winning political parties", was equally illegitimate. These
"winning representatives" had been elected by the people of Burma
for the express purpose of forming a People's Assembly to govern
Burma on an interim basis until a constitution was written some
time in the future. Not one of these "winning representatives"
had been elected by the people for the purpose of writing a
constitution. They had been elected to serve in a People's
Assembly, a legislature, not serve in a Constituent Assembly, a
constitution writing body.
This new SLORC objective [ a constitution ] and the SLORC method
for writing the constitution [ using the representatives elected
to form the People's Assembly for the completely different
purpose of writing a constitution ] were both formally declared
by SLORC in its Order No. 1/90 dated July, 1990. As to method for
writing the constitution, SLORC could not have been clearer when
it declared in paragraph 20 of Order No. 1/90 that: "the
representatives elected by the people are those who have the
responsibility to draw up the constitution of the future
democratic state". Despite its formal written statement in
Paragraph 20, however, SLORC could not use the representatives
elected in May 1990 to write the constitution and still remain in
power. Given the huge outpouring of anti-SLORC sentiment
expressed in the May elections, quite clearly any constitution -
writing body composed of people elected to parliamentary seats on
May 27 1990 would write a constitution depriving SLORC, and the
group of military officers whose interests SLORC represented, of
It was obvious to most observers then in the summer of 1990 that
SLORC would have to find another method- other than using freely
elected representatives of any type- to try and obtain its
declared objective of a new constitution. A long period of
waiting subsequently ensued to see what scheme or new method
SLORC would attempt to devise for writing a "constitution" that
allowed the military officers to control the government.
The waiting finally ended after nearly two years on April 24,
1992 when SLORC issued declaration No 11/92. This declaration
announced an entirely new body that had never been heard of
previously: the "National Convention". [ All mention of the
People's Assembly, and all mention of paragraph 20 in Order 1/90,
with "its representatives elected by the people" language, had
simply disappeared from any official communications.] The purpose
of this new body was to draw a new constitution, and a
preliminary meeting of the National Convention was called for on
June 23, 1992.
The most significant part of this newest SLORC initiative,
however, was not the call for drawing up a new constitution, an
objective which SLORC had, after all, formally announced nearly
two years earlier. Most attention was quite properly focused
instead on how the delegates to this National Convention would be
The methods employed by SLORC to ensure complete control of the
so-called National Convention could not have been more blatant.
There orders decreed that 702 delegates would attend. Of these,
603 delegates would be chosen directly by SLORC. The remaining 99
delegates would come from among the 485 representatives elected
to serve in the never assembled People's Assembly two years
previously - but exactly which 99 would attend the so-called
National Convention would also be a decision made by SLORC. In
addition, the entire delegate selection process was shrouded in
deep secrecy. There was no explanation for how the totals of 702,
603 and 99 had been arrived at or what they were based on. There
was no explanation of what criteria SLORC would use to pick these
delegates (other than certain fixed numbers of delegates would
come from broad undefined sectors of the society like "peasant
groups" or the "intelligentsia"). To this day there is no list
of the delegates who are attending the so-called National
Convention, and equally ominous, no list of the numerous
delegates who have withdrawn from or been kicked out of the so-
called National Convention in the nearly three years its various
proceedings have dragged on.
In spite of having near absolute control of the delegates
attending and of the procedures used at this sham meeting, SLORC,
realizing the depth of its unpopularity among all sectors of
Burmese society outside the military, felt it had to take one
additional step to ensure it got a governing document that would
give it a permanent grip on power in Burma. Accordingly, in
SLORC's official National Convention Procedural Code [ January 1,
1993], the 702 delegates were ordered to limit their discussion
to a document that would guarantee "Participation of the military
in the leading role of national politics in the future". In other
words, merely controlling the entire delegate selection process
was not enough insurance for the worried SLORC generals. They
felt only by predetermining the outcome of the "convention" in
writing, in advance could they prevent their own picked delegates
from perhaps rebelling and turning out a constitution that did
not contain clauses designed to perpetuate an indefinite grip on
power by the military clique that composes SLORC.
This so-called national convention is a slap in the face of the
entire international community. For SLORC to believe that such a
transparently controlled and manipulated constitution drawing
process could result in the international community eventually
accepting the armed forces as the legal and legitimate government
of Burma, is to show the depth of contempt SLORC holds for
accepted international norms of governmental behavior, and indeed
for the intelligence of the world community. The proper response
from important international organizations, such as ASEAN, is to
call on SLORC to cease its sham constitution writing process
immediately, to dissolve the so-called National Convention, and,
in its place, to engage in the "substantial political dialog"
with Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders urged by the
United Nations General Assembly.
We, the NCUB, the largest umbrella group of Burmese opposition
groups, urge ASEAN to review the situation in Burma from a
perspective of justice and human suffering. The people of Burma
spoke clearly in the free and fair election of May 27, 1990. That
election ended any emergency period in which SLORC could
legitimately claim to be governing Burma for the purpose of
overseeing free and orderly multi-party elections. When on May
30, 1990, SLORC first indicated that it would not turn power over
to the newly elected People's Assembly, from that day forward,
SLORC became and remains to this day an illegal and illegitimate
This illegal government, in spite of having no significant
foreign enemies, has built an army of 350,000 men whose main role
in Burmese society is to maintain the illegal government in power
against the clearly expressed will of the Burmese people. SLORC's
armed forces are little more than armed jailers and the people of
Burma are SLORC's prisoners. SLORC's armed forces commit
systematic and brutal human rights abuses all over the country
[ a fact documented repeatedly by the United Nations and Amnesty
International ]. SLORC's armed forces attempt to solve the
problem of the ethnic minorities by using repeated military
offensives, such as the one just completed against the Karens_
offensives that drive tens of thousands of Burmese people over
neighboring borders as destitute refugees. SLORC's armed forces
drain away such a high percentage of national wealth that Burma
has become one of the poorest and least developed countries in
its region. Yet these same brave armed forces, so successful at
attacking defenseless civilians or outnumbered and under equipped
guerrilla forces, are somehow strangely impotent when it comes to
controlling the rampant opium production that has made Burma the
world's number one opium producer.
The people of Burma are suffering under the yoke of an illegal
military dictatorship. We urge you as matter of simple justice to
please consider the suffering such a government is inflicting on
the enslaved Burmese people, and we ask you not to invite SLORC
to the July 21 ASEAN meeting as an observer, to review the
policy of constructive engagement in light of the facts
indicating its failure to modify SLORC behavior, and to formally
adopt at your July 21 Meeting the five resolutions we have
suggested in this position paper.
April 28, 1995
===== item =====
To all NCUB members, ABSDF representatives and friends,
The above mentioned NCUB position paper is compiled by the NCUB
Campaign Committee. It was outlined by all concerned leaders from
various pro-democracy groups of the NCUB, in order to organize the
ASEAN countries through the Nations from Seven Dialogue Partners
Here we urge all NCUB members in different countries to
effectively organize each concerned country in solidarity as a
part for the struggle for restoration of democracy in Burma.
"Down with military dictatorship"
Joint-Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Central Committee, ABSDF
Tel/Fax: 66 2 379 2002
===== item =====
A MEETING OF NCUB'S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE ON 21/5/95 (? ed.)
It was attended by:
1. U Khine Soe Naing Aung NCUB secretary/NDF Secretary
2. U Tin Maung Win NCUB member/CRDB Chairman
3. Moe Thee Zun NCUB member/ABSDF Chairman(ABSDF-MTZ)
4. Aung Htoo ABSDF Secretary-1(ABSDF-NA)
5. Saw Ka like KNU Foreign Affairs
6. Ko Maung Maung FTUB
7. Ko Than Lwin DSF
Topic Discussed: A CAMPAIGN FOR ASEAN MEETING
1. To object to the invitation for the Slorc to attend the
forthcoming ASEAN meeting in July under observer status.
2. To submit a report on Slorcs inhuman deeds which is compiled by all
opposition groups under this NCUB Campaign Committee, in solidarity,
to this ASEAN meeting.
3. Approach to organize the ASEAN members through the Seven Dialogue
Partners of ASEAN.
4. Establish four main workshops:
Workshop In Charge Nations
Workshop 1- U Tin Maung Win Singapore, United states, India, Japan
Moe Thee Zun
Workshop 2- Aung Htoo Germany, Canada, Australia
Ko Than Lwin
Workshop 3- Saw Ka Lite
U Maung Maung Lat United Kingdom, Japan, Indonesia, Brunei
Workshop 4- U Tun Oo France, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand,
U Maung Maung Philippine
For more information please contact here.
Foreign Affairs Office
ABSDF Bangkok Thailand (379 2002)
Date: 25th April, 1995
===== item =====
NOTES ON KAREN REFUGEE SECURITY
Notes for discussion concerning the security and
protection of Karen refugees
The problem of refugees on the Thai-Burma border became a
significant one with an influx of about 10,000 in 1984 as a
result of an increase in fighting between the Burmese army and
the armies of the ethnic groups of the border region. In
response, a simple but effective relief operation was set up to
provide food and medical assistance through a small group of
The nature of the relief operation was determined by Thai
reluctance to accept international attention which would have
resulted from a call for UN assistance. From the Thai viewpoint,
a locally managed, limited programme of assistance would
facilitate early voluntary repatriation as soon as the fighting
ceased. At the appropriate time, it would be necessary only to
provide transport and basic supplies to help the refugees to re-
establish themselves. From the humanitarian viewpoint also there
were seen to be advantages. Such a system ensured that basic
needs were met but self reliance and self respect maintained. The
refugees' culture was not much affected and the community would
not become aid-dependent.
Of course it was assumed the problem was a short-term one. But
such was not to be the case. By the end of 1991 there were 55,000
and by now there approximately 95,000 refugees inside the Thai
Reconsideration of the value of international protection
There was always the potential for a conflict of interest between
the Thai government and the refugees. It might occur over the
level and kind of assistance provided but it was always more
likely to occur over timing and associated condition for
repatriation [i.e. whether it has become appropriate safe for
them to returned and whether satisfactory provision has been made
for their re-integration into the Burmese community]. Such a
conflict occurred during 1994 when a situation arose in which it
was clear that Thai policy of non-internationalization was
allowing the threat of repatriation of refugees to be used as
political leverage against the Mon and Karen regarding the
negotiation of ceasefires with the SLORC . Precipitate
involuntary repatriation was seen as a clear possibility
following the achievement of cease-fires. The issue initially was
whether the refugees should be regarded as `displaced by war' [in
which case it could be argued, as Thai authorities did, that
repatriation was appropriate once hostilities had ceased] or as
`refugees from persecution ' [ in which case they should be
protected from return to likely further persecution].
It was argued at that time that despite non-internationalization
of the Thai-Burma border refugee regime, the de-facto refugees
should be regarded as subject to international protection and
that repatriation should occur only in accordance with
international protection principles which specifically preclude
involuntary repatriation. The issue of the status of the Mon
refugees came to ahead, however, in mid 1994 when Mon refugees,
who had been repatriated in late 1993 to a location just inside
the Burma border, were attacked by SLORC troops and fled again
into Thailand. At that time it was argued that the physical
security of the refugees could only be achieved by allowing them
to remain in Thailand .
It was assumed that whether or not subject to formal
international protection, their physical security could be
assured by their being located inside Thailand.
Security and protection for refugees
The current crisis in the Karen refugee camps arises from attacks
on de-facto refugees inside Thailand. Being inside Thailand
clearly is not a guarantee of security. There are approximately
75,000 Karen refugees currently in camps inside Thailand along
the Thai-Burma border as a result of the long-running civil war
and systematic abuse of the civilian population by the Burmese
military. This includes approximately 10,000 recent arrivals who
fled Burma as a result of the recent military offensive by SLORC
troops against the KNU and the resulting withdrawal of the KNU
from its headquarters at Manerplaw and its base at Kawmoorah.
The refugees have been allowed by the Royal Thai government to
take refuge in Thailand and have been cared for by the Karen
Refugee Committee with the help of a consortium of NGOs working
in conjunction with the Thai authorities. Their welfare is
monitored informally by representatives of Bangkok -based
embassies and from time to time by a representative of the UNHCR.
In the past, the security of the refugees has not been a major
Before the recent offensive against Manerplaw, security of the
Karen refugees was not a major problem because the KNU controlled
most of the Salween -Moei river border. Undoubtedly the loss by
the KNU of that control has totally changed the situation.
Immediately following the recent SLORC offensive, SLORC troops,
together with renegade Karen who defected from the KNU to the
SLORC, began intruding into Thai territory, harassing unarmed
refugees, distributing leaflets urging Buddhist refugees to
return to Burma, threatening to destroy refugee camps and even
abducting refugees. A number of deaths occurred as a result.
These actions caused fear and confusion amongst the refugees.
Many fled from established camps to new and less accessible
locations and, in many camps, the refugees are still struggling
to complete the establishment of adequate shelter in advance of
the coming wet season.
The earlier threats to the security of the refugees caused by the
intrusion of SLORC troops into Thailand, and efforts by the SLORC
to force the refugees to return to Burma, prompted the KNU, on
25th February, to appeal for monitoring of the refugee situation
on the Thailand-Burma border by an appropriate international
body. Subsequent announcement by the Thai military that they
would take steps to secure the camps were welcomed by the KNU. It
is known that the UNHCR requested the Thai government for
permission to play at least a nominal monitoring role through the
placement of a protection officer somewhere near the border, but
as yet there is no official response.
At first the incidents of harassment were frequent and
frightening, and after some delay arrangements were made for camp
security which seemed appropriate. It was hoped that the
situation would stabilize once it was made clear to the SLORC
that such incursions would be resisted unfortunately, the SLORC
has chosen instead to send larger armed groups which are able to
overcome the security provided, and these larger armed groups
have been able to carry out their harassment on a much larger
scale. Obviously with hindsight, we can say that the security
measures were not adequate.
The underlying cause of the current insecurity of Karen refugees
It must be recognized that what is happening now in the camps in
Thailand is an extension of the Burmese civil war into Thailand.
In a sense, what we have seen in the camps in the last few weeks
is what the Karen civilians have had to live with in Burma for a
long time. The SLORC has been trying for a long time to defeat
the KNU by attacking the civilian population. Inside Burma the
SLORC succeeded in making it dangerous for the people to go along
with the KNU.
The emergence of the DKBO both resulted from and further
facilitated SLORC efforts to discredit the KNU amongst the non-
Christian section of the Karen community. The internal situation
of the KNU may will have contributed to the alienation of many
Karen from the KNU, both inside Burma and in the refugee camps.
But the people know well what life is like for them in Burma
under SLORC control and most have shown they will not willingly
return to Burma. Possibly the escalation of violence reflects
this i.e. recognition that it is necessary to raise the level of
pain in the camps in order that return to Burma, despite its
known perils, begins to become a preferred option .
The recent escalation of violence against the refugee camps has
thrown into question how security of the camps can best be
achieved, and how the issue of security should be related to
international protection. A number of options have been put
1. Return the refugees to Burma
This option has been put forward most strongly by Thai Army
Commander in Chief, General Wimol Wongwanich, who has said that,
* If we were not afraid of being criticized by the world
community on humanitarian grounds and if it would not give the
country problems, then this army chief would take only one week
to push them all out, regardless of how many hundreds of
thousands of Karens were now in the country.
[Bangkok Post 30.4.95]
Gen Wimol acknowledged that the Foreign Ministry held a different
view on the matter.
2. Re-locate the refugees in a single secure camp
Again, General Wimol has been most vocal in advocating this
option , assuming that his first option is not viable. He has
advocated re-location to a site deep inside Thailand, well-
protected with a fence and land mines and one or two companies of
troops. [Nation 27.4.95, Bangkok Post, 30.4.95] Wimol's re-
location plan has the support of the Minister for Interior, Maj
Gen Sanan Kachornprasart, and Commander of the Third Army Region
[Which has responsibility for that section of the border], Lt Gen
3. Secure the existing camps
One of the obvious problems with the re-location is that it will
take time, will be logistically difficult, and may have adverse
repercussions on the Thai community in the vicinity of the re-
location site. [Bangkok Post 29.4.95, 30.4.95]
For these reasons, National Security Council Deputy Chief,
Kachadpai Buruspattana, suggested that, " it would be better to
make some adjustments at refugee camps which are located at a
Gen Surachat and Gen Wimol apparently believe that this option is
the more difficult one to implement. According to Gen Surachat,
there were, "so many Karen camps near the border they created a
problem for the Third Army to keep the situation in check". [
Bangkok post 29.4.95] Gen Wimol stated that the army was ,"
unwilling to waste funds and man-funds and man-hours taking care
of the refugees " [ Nation 30.4.95]
The KNU has on a number of occasions stated its view that it is
undoubtedly in the interests of the refugees that they return to
Burma, but insists that this should only occur through a
systematic programme of voluntary repatriation in accordance with
international principles and practices.
On a number of occasions the NGOs, the NDF and the KNU have
stated what they believe should be the elements of a satisfactory
repatriation programme. Essentially, " In accordance with
international guidelines, the repatriation of refugees from Burma
must be voluntary and to an area and situation where their safety
is ensured. International monitoring, and protection as well as
appropriate humanitarian and reintegration assistance must be
available "[NGOs, Statement On Repatriation Of Burmese Refugees
Staying In Thailand, 1994]
Clearly the SLORC also understands what constitutes a proper
repatriation programme since the SLORC is currently working in
conjunction with the government of Bangladesh and the UNHCR to
bring about the voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees to
Arakan state. The situation in Karen state is different from that
of Arakan and it can be argued that implementation of a
repatriation programme of this kind for Karen refugees could only
occur when a political solution is found to the political
problems underlying the long civil war, not just as a result of a
temporary ceasefire. That is why the KNU has continued to demand
that cease-fire negotiations with the SLORC include negotiation
of the necessary political settlement. Arrangement for a
satisfactory programme of repatriation and resettlement of
refugees and post-repatriation assistance to refugees should be
an integral part of cease fire negotiations .
2. Re-location to a new secure camp
Most of the refugees are rural villagers used to living in small
communities. There has always been agreement in the past that
although the refugee camps in Thailand look rough, they provide
an environment not too much different form the conditions which
the people come from. In many case the people are able to make
gardens and become at least semi-self sufficient and in these
fairly small camps, the people can more or less organize their
own lives. Such a system ensured that basic needs were met but
self reliance and self respect maintained. The refugees' culture
was not much affected and the community would not become
independent. One big camp would provide a situation more like the
big Cambodia refugee camps in which such self-reliance, self-
respect cultural integrity are difficult to maintain.
The one big camp solution should only be the last resort. It is
up to the KRC in conjunction with agencies of the Royal Thai
Government actually responsible for the refugees and their
security together with appropriate international agencies to
decide if and when that point has been reached.
If it appears that re-location deep inside Thailand is the only
effective way to provide security,
a) it should be implemented in a way which minimizes the
undermining of self-reliance, self-respect and cultural
integrity, should be accompanied by formal recognition of the
refugee status of the camp population and
b) it should be administered in conjunction with appropriate
international bodies responsible for the protection of refugees
such as the UNHCR(The UNHCR has previously proposed that refugees
should be moved away from the border.)
3. Securing existing camps
Any large scale relocation is of course a very large logistical
problem, made more difficult in the physical circumstances of the
Thai-Burma border once the rainy season begins. It may be worth
examining carefully the situation, camp by camp. In some case,
may be the camp security needs to be reinforced. In other cases,
may be a more securable location can be found.
If the resources require to make existing camps secure is the
major problem, possibly assistance of the international community
should be sought in the form of an international security force
as well as an international monitoring force.
The UNHCR had earlier sought agreement from the Thai government
for the placement of a protection officer at the border. Clearly
in the current circumstances this would be inadequate and
ineffective. In the wake of the recent attacks, the UNHCR in
Geneva has expressed its concern at the lack of security (Nation
29.4.95) and the UNHCR representative in Bangkok has stated that,
"Bangkok and international community should provide an effective
international presence able to provide security to the refugees".
(AFP, Bangkok 26.4.95)
KNU President Gen Bo Mya has approached the UNHCR in Bangkok
asking that the UNHCR provide Karen refugees with "official
protection and assistance". It is open for conjecture just what
kind of international presence might effectively deter further
violent attacks on the refugees.
The need for the political solution
The SLORC, using the pretext of Karen defectors which it can't be
control, has been prepared to allowed armed incursions across the
border and harassment of refugees with the declared purpose of
bringing about repatriation. In the short term, of course,
hopefully Thai government will take the necessary measures to
show the SLORC that they are not prepared to tolerate armed
forces carrying out armed incursion into Thailand. As well strong
signals must be given to the SLORC that repatriation can be
placed on the agenda, but that an appropriate path must be
The international community must encourage the Thai government to
adopt this stance with an indication of willingness to take the
pressure of Thailand. The international community must indicate
its willingness to provide the necessary resources, to both
protect and care for the refugees and at the same time insist in
direct input into the design of an appropriate model for the
necessary protection and care.
It is to be hoped that the current situation will help the
authorities in Thailand to acknowledge the reality of the
situation inside Burma and greatly expand Thailand's interest in
securing a political settlement between the SLORC and the KNU
such as will enable the refugees to be safely repatriated, and
that it will see the value of mobilizing international and
regional support to persuade the SLORC of the need for such an
(Compiled by a political academics)
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