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BurmaNet News #168
------------------------- BurmaNet ---------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: 9th May
THE NATION: SLORC ARMY THREATENS INTRUSIONS
THE NATION; WIMOL GIVES GOVT SOME SOUND ADVICE
THE NATION: FROM APPEASEMENT TO ENCOURAGEMENT
THE NATION: THAI STAKE IN HOTEL AT HISTORICAL BAGAN
BKK POST: BANGKOK AND RANGOON DOWNPLAY TENSION ALONG BORDER
BKK POST: SANAN'S CHOPPER IN EMERGENCY LANDING IN MAE SOT
BKK POST: DOUBTS OVER DKBA ROLE IN KILLING
BRC: SIX YEARS ON THE RUN
DAILY YOMIURI: RESIDENTS CAUGHT IN MYANMAR'S REMODELING PLAN
THE NATION: BURMESE REBELS PLEDGE TO CEASE CROSS- BORDER RAIDS
THE NATION: OPPOSITION PUSHES FOR URGENT DEBATE ON KAREN INCURSIONS
MMR: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/ASIA CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON BURMESE REFUGEES
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The NCGUB is a government-in-exile, formed by representatives
of the people that won the election in 1990.
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or Burma Issues.
===== item =====
SLORC ARMY THREATENS INTRUSIONS
8 May 1995
General vows to pursue Khun Sa over Thai border
The Army continued to reinforce its troops on the tense Thai-
Burmese border yesterday following intelligence reports that
pro-Rangoon Karen forces were set to launch fresh attacks on a
refugee camp, and Burma's threat to send troops across the
border in pursuit of Khun Sa's guerrillas.
Groups of Burmese and Karen troops were also seen moving three
heavy guns and munitions to an area opposite Tak's Tha Song
Yang district, where the Shoklo refugee camp is located, said
a Thai military source.
An additional 300-500 well-armed Burmese and Karen have rein
forced three locations there.
The Thai Army moved more reinforcements to Tha Song Yang yes
terday after intelligence reports that the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army (DKBA) planned to attack Shoklo overnight, the
military source said.
"It's quite certain that they will attack either tonight [last
night] or tomorrow [today]," the source said.
Yesterday evening, there was brief exchange of gunfire between
Thai volunteers in Tha Song Yang district and DKBA forces,
adding to rapidly rising tension following Friday's cross-bor
der Thai air raid on a DKBA Salween River camp.
The Thai Army's blitz was in response to repeated DKBA
incursions and attacks on Christian Karen refugees on Thai
soil. Military movements on the Burmese side of the border
have alarmed Thai officials.
On Friday, a radio broadcast in Burmese which jammed the
police radio network in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, said
regular Burmese army troops intended to raze the town's border
market, which adjoins the Burmese town of Tachilek. Burmese
helicopters also patrolled the border.
Over the weekend, a military commander of the Burmese junta
(the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or Slorc)
threatend to send his troops into Thailand if drug warlord
Khun Sa's guerrillas continue cross-border attacks into Burma.
The Burmese have accused Thailand of allowing Khun Sa's Mong
Tai Army to use its territory for troop movement s and as a
staging ground for raids into Burma.
Khun Sa's headquarters is in the Burmese town of Homong, but
Burmese military authorities said he has an "office" in Mae
Burmese military authorities said a contingent Khun Sa's
forces forded the Mae Sai stream on March 20 and fought their
way several hundred metres into the Burmese border town of
Tachilek before retreating into Thailand.
"Next time I will let my force cross the river and chase them
inside Thailand," said regional commander Brig Gen Kyaw Win.
"I will be punished by my higher authorities in Rangoon, but I
don't care. I am very angry about this," he said while
addressing a contingent of reporters, United Nations officials
and foreign military attaches in Tachilek.
He showed reporters a cache of arms - M-16 and Chinese-made
AK-47 automatic rifles, rocket launchers, machine guns and
grenades - and angrily pointed out a box of ammunition with a
Bangkok, Thailand, manufacturer's address. "You can see where
it comes from yourself," Kyaw Win said. He added that although
the Thai leadership opposes Khun Sa, lowlevel officers are
helping the opium warlord.
"Cooperation from Thailand is the main factor" in Khun Sa's
ability to maintain his operations, Kyaw Win said. "When the
[Khun Sa's forces] crossed back into Thailand, there were cars
waiting for them, and the Thai people placed garlands on them.
They treated them like heroes." Reports in Thailand said Thai
authorities disarmed the Khun Sa guerrillas who fled into
Thailand. The Thai Army, meanwhile, said the border situation
was now under control.
Third Army Region Chief Staff Maj Gen Prasit Mongkoltham said
after meeting in Phitsanulok province yesterday that any
military action by the security forces would be "drastic,
swift and effective", as ordered by Army chief Gen Wimol
Wongwanich. "We've controlled the situation along the
Thai-Burmese border in Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces since
Saturday," Prasit said.
He said there were about 3,000 DKBA troops along the border
patrol police troops stationed along the frontier in Mae Hong
Son province react promptly to any attack.
Maj Gen Sanan and about 30 government officials, accompanied
by reporters, yesterday observed the border situation from
helicopters in Mae Hong Son and Tak provinces.
A thunderstorm forced the helicopter carrying Sanan to make an
emergency landing on farmland about 10 kilometres from Tha
Song Yang as he was returning to Tak's Muang district. On
Friday, four Thai Army helicopter gunships operating from Thai
airspace sprayed rebel positions just across the Salween and
Moei rivers in Burma with machine gun fire and rockets,
inflicting heavy damage.
There was no official casualty toll, but unconfirmed reports
said as many as 100 Karen guerrillas were killed. The chairman
of the House committee on foreign affairs yesterday objected
to the use of force to settle disputes along the Thai-Burmese
"The government should change its policy to make it
constructive," said Sutin Noppaket (PDP_Bangkok) in Mae Hong
Son's Sop Moei sub-district. "The issue should be negotiated
by national, not local, representatives from both countries. I
disagree with the use of force because that won't lead to a
settlement of the problem."
Sutin said the House committee would recommend a possible
solution to the Foreign Ministry for consideration. (TN)
===== item =====
WIMOL GIVES GOVT SOME SOUND ADVICE
8 May 1995
"Don't think to much" was the Army's unambiguous message to
the government ahead of this month's censure debate. Although
the Army has repeatedly declared its neutrality in politics,
it did not stop Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Wimol Wongwanich
from picking the most pressing political issue at the moment
as the topic for a discussion among the top officials of the
Thai Life Insurance company. "I don't know which route the
government will take. But it shouldn't be afraid of the
consequences of dissolving the House. Don't think too much and
the people will get the chance to choose their MPs," he said.
He also advised the opposition when it goes into the
noconfidence debate to "play by the rules". The opposition
should not attack the government for the sole reason of
wanting to bring down the coalition and take over the reins of
power. "There must be some rules in politics," he said.
While not afraid to speak his mind on the censure debate,
Wimol did appear decidedly touchy when other political issues
were raised by reporters.
He confirmed he would not enter politics after his mandatory
retirement, only four months and three weeks away. Wimol said
he was not afraid of transferring anyone in the Army because
after all he was not seeking to build a political power base
in the Army.
"I can transfer anyone I want to. I have transferred a lot of
officers but each transfer was based on the principle of
suitability for the job," he said.
The Army chief then swiftly turned on reporters, asking them
why they enjoyed dragging him into politics. He aid he knew
reporters would love to ask him about the problems along the
Thai-Burmese border but he obliged them only with a joke.
"All the soldiers have had their lives insured with the
company, so don't worry about the border conflict. We will
fight," he said.
However, he quickly retracted the quip, fearing he may be
misinterpreted. "I'm just kidding. Thai soldiers are smart.
You reporters, it's only a joke. Don't say I will let my men
die," he said. (TN)
===== item =====
FROM APPEASEMENT TO ENCOURAGEMENT
8 May 1995
Amid the hail of machine-gun and rocket fire that came raining
down from Thai gunships on DKBA and Burma's other warring
ethnic groups: Welcome to the new world order and watch your
Barely had the guns cooled from Thailand's most serious
military action since the 1988 Bann Rom Klao war with Laos,
and Thai and Burmese leaders were referring to the
cross-border assault as if it had never happened.
"There are no problems at all between our countries," Interior
Minister Sanan Kachornprasart told reporters yesterday as he
inspected the battlescarred frontier.
The minister's comments came just hours after Burmese
newspaper hit the streets with quotes from junta leader Khin
Nyunt saying Burma had no "major problems" with its
neighbours. the about face was stunning. Within 48 hours, the
leaders of both country's had gone from sabre rattling to back
The Thai operation, which followed a green light from Rangoon,
and was reported to have killed as many as 100 guerrillas,
should have finally woken the DKBA up to the fact they were
never more than pawns in a deadly Slorc game to wipe out
ethnic resistance to its rule.
Nurtured, armed and prodded into confrontation with Thai
border troops, the breakaway Karen group was abandoned the
moment it become a publicly unacceptable impediment to the
greater goal of Bangkok and Rangoon - the building of a
flourishing economic relationship.
Decades of suspicion have been cast away as the two
governments eye the prospects of economic gain - although it
is for slightly different reasons.
Having failed on every legitimize its hold on power, Slorc is
hoping it can deflect and embittered population's passions
from politics to making money. Thailand's interests are nearly
as cynical. In a world were trade and economics now set the
agenda, it doesn't want to lose the comparative advantages of
its front line position to its Asean allies as they make the
jump on Burma. There is also the additional Thai fear of
allowing Burma to be sucked in by the China's creeping "sphere
This policy, known as constructive engagement, originally came
packaged with pledges to try to improve human rights
conditions in our woebegone neighbour. Prime Minister Chuan
Leekpai and his ministers made it clear on Saturday, however,
that they are losing interest in the pretence of trying to
draw any kind of concessions from their counterparts in
"The national policy on Burma will continue and nothing will
change it," Chuan said Saturday, apparently referring to an
ongoing crackdown on dissidents in Rangoon and the armed
assaults on Thailand's integrity. The government's line has
become the cowardly Asean refrain of not meddling in the
internal affairs of a neighbour. "They have their own system
of government and it is not our position to interfere." The
stand is shameless. Not only is it an abdication of Thailand's
international responsibilities to work for the improvement of
human rights in Burma but even more distressingly, it is a
signal to Rangoon that it now has the unspoken support of
Thailand for the disgraceful way it rules. Thailand's policy
is no longer just appeasement of one of the region's most
worrisome sources of unrest but outright encouragement.
And all this in a week Rangoon-backed guerrillas rampaged
through Thailand provoking Thailand to launch air strikes on
Moral outrage it seems, is no match for bare-faced economic
===== item =====
THAI STAKE IN HOTEL AT HISTORICAL BAGAN
8 May 1995
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced the signing of a
Memorandum of Understanding with the Burmese Ministry of
Hotels and Tourism to invest in and manage a US$23 million
luxury hotel planned for development at the historical site of
Mandarin Oriental intends to have a 25 per cent stake in the
property and the and The Oriental Hotel (Thailand) Plc will
have a further 50 per cent. The third partner will be Italian-
Thai Development Plc (ITD).
The single-storey property will have 100 suites spreading
throughout 35 acres of landscaped gardens, and will feature
types of services and amenities provided by the Mandarin
Oriental. The group says it intends to develop the hotel to
take into account the cultural and environmental sensitivities
of the region.
Bagan, lying on the eastern bank of the Ayarwaddy River, is
one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. Once the
country's capital city, today the ruins of Bagan cover an area
of 16 square miles and contain over 2,000 well-preserved
religious monuments with a rich architectural heritage. At the
announcement, Robert E Riley, managing director of Mandarin
Oriental Hotel Group, claimed, "We are both proud and excited
to have the opportunity to be involved in the development of
this unique project and also to expand our group of deluxe
hotels into Myanmar. We look forward to working with the
Ministry of Tourism on creating an extraordinary hotel that
will be in keeping with this important area of Myanmar's
The agreement is dependent on finalization of the terms and
the hotel is scheduled to open mid-1997.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the owner and operator of
city properties in Bangkok, Hong Kong, London, Jakarta, Macau,
Manila, San Francisco and Singapore. Two resort properties are
also managed by the Group in Koh Samui and Phuket in Thailand;
under development are hotels in Hawaii, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico
City and Surabaya. (TN)
===== item =====
BANGKOK AND RANGOON DOWNPLAY TENSION ALONG BORDER
8 May 1995
Recent murderous attacks on both sides of the Thai-Burma
border have triggered a surprisingly mild response from
Bangkok and Rangoon who seem intent on promoting bilateral
ties despite tensions.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai over the weekend dismissed the
multiple raids from Burma in the past few weeks, targetting
Karen refugee camps for arson, abduction and murder, as
something that could be settled at the local level.
"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.
A day earlier, the powerful first secretary of Burma's ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), Lt Gen Khin
Nyunt, said Rangoon did not regard any "existing
misunderstanding" as a serious problem.
Deaths on both sides - as many as 100 Karen rebels killed in a
Thai air raid on their base in Burma, and an unknown number of
casualties, including three Thai border policemen, in raids
from Burma - have not so far caused a break in ties.
Business interests are the key to relations between the two
neighbours, with Burma courting much-needed Thai investment,
and Thailand eager to gain a solid foothold before the Burmese
market is thrown wide open, regional analysts say. "It's
business first, business second and business again," a western
diplomat commented. "Burma and Thailand agree on their
Bilateral business interests include a lucrative pipeline deal
that will transport gas from offshore field in Burma to
The situation at the Thai- Burma border contrasts with that at
the Thai-Cambodian border where spillovers in the fighting
between Phnom Phen forces and Khmer Rouge guerrillas bring
immediate, heated protests.
"Thailand-and Asean as a whole - believes Burma shows real
promise. It's a big country with a supply of both natural and
human resources and will some day be an important player in
Southeast Asia," a regional diplomat said. But the regional
diplomat denied suggesstions that Asean's
"constructive engagement" policy in Burma - as opposed to US
calls for the diplomatic isolation of Rangoon - was solely
aimed at making money.
"This policy will make a difference," he held. "With exposure
to other systems and other style of government, the Slorc will
===== item =====
SANAN'S CHOPPER IN EMERGENCY LANDING IN MAE SOT
8 MAY 1995
FOUR helicopters carrying a delegation led by Interior
Minister Sanan Kachornprasart to inspect the border with Burma
had to make an emergency landing in Mae Ramat District when
they ran into a rain storm yesterday evening. Accompanying the
minister were Deputy Interior Minster Udorn Tanti sunthorn,
Interior Permanent Secretary Aree Wong-sraya, Police Chief
Pote Boonyachinda, Local Administration Department Chief
Chuwong Chayabtur and border Patrol Police commander Kowit
"That was an exciting trip, thought we weren't going to make
it," Maj-Gen Sanan said of the emergency landing. Maj-Gen
Sanan has earlier been scheduled to inspect the Kamaw Lay Kho
refugee camp in Tha Song Yang District which had been attacked
by the DKBO on the April 26.
Inspection of that camp had to be cancelled because of weather
Mr Udon said the government would soon set up a temporary
shelters to house Karen refugees.
They are looking at 3,000 rai along the Mae Ramat-Ban Tak Road
to accommodate all 33,000 refugee.
Tak provincial authority is proposing use of 2,000 rai of
deteriorated forest at Ban Mae Hla and 1000 rai at Sho Klo in
Tha Song Yang for two separate refugee shelters. (BP)
===== item =====
DOUBTS OVER DKBA ROLE IN KILLING
8 MAY 1995
THE DKBA might not have been responsible for the killing of
three Thai policemen at Ban Sop Moei in this northern province
last week, Third Army Region Deputy Commander Maj-Gen Saimitr
Klaiyanamatir said yesterday.
Maj-Gen Saimitr said the case not yet been finalised, but he
did not believe that the DKBA's forces were responsible for
the attack on a police outpost at Sop Moei's Ban Mae Nga and
the killing of three border police officers posted there.
The police outpost was located about 31 kilometres from the
border on the Thai side and it was unlikely the DKBA would
launch an assault that far inside Thailand. The Deputy
Commander said it was possible that the attack on the outpost
might have been carried out by "interest group" which bases in
the country. He would not elaborate any further.
Earlier, DKBA commander Lt-Gen Toe Hlaing totally denied the
allegation that DKBA forces had attacked the outpost and
killed the three officers. He said it was not the DKBA's
policy to attack Thai security forces.
He suggested that the killing of the policemen was the result
of personal conflicts between Karen people and local police.
Maj-Gen Saimitr said last Friday's assault on DKBA forces
operating along the border had inflicted substantial military
damage on them.
Thai army reinforcements will now stabilise the situation in
the area. He said the army would swiftly respond and conduct
hot pursuits into Burma if the DKBA continued its cross-border
raids on Karen refugee camps located inside Thailand.
Interior Minister Sanan Kachornprassart yesterday made an
inspection trip to the police outpost in Sop Moei's Ban Mae
Nga where the three policemen were killed.
The minister said the border situation was nothing to be
concerned over, nothing that security forces could still
maintain order and safety in the area. Maj-Gen Sanan, a former
cavalry officer, said he was confident that the security
situation would gradually improve following the army's tough
measures against foreign forces encroaching on Thai territory.
Meanwhile, in Tak's Mae Sot District, a local health official,
Amorn Boonmark, was killed yesterday by six armed Karens who
crossed the border rob Thai villagers at Ban Nong Bua, 3
kilometres from the district police station. Mr Amorn, a
health official of Phop Phra District, was killed as he was
walking in the area while armed Karens were robbing villagers
in Ban Nong Bua.
A police report said the armed Karens took two gold necklaces
from villagers and four motorcycles which they used to flee
the scene. (BP)
===== item =====
SIX YEARS ON THE RUN
(From Burmese Relief Centre April 1995 Newsletter)
"Yes, it's difficult. But it's difficult for everyone. Every
time they attack us, I feel stronger It makes me realize there
is no way to five in a country ruled by this kind of
San San Myint is a member of the All Burma Students'
Democratic Front (ABSDF) and lives along the Thai-Burma
border. She is also a medic, a wife and the mother of two
"When I first arrived in 1988, 1 thought I would be here for
about one year and then go back home. But we students can't go
back. To go back to Burma would mean imprisonment or worse".
San San Myint is the daughter of a Burmese government official
from a small town in Karen State. She remembers even as a
young girl how corruption saturated every part of Burmese
society, even her home town.
"Because of my father's position, our family used to get
access to better food and merchandise. Of course, the army
personnel got much more. I remember thinking there is
something very wrong in this country".
In 1988, San San Myint was 18 years old and was preparing to
enter university when the nationwide anti-military
demonstrations spread to Karen State. "I became one of the
central committee members who were organising the
demonstrations. After the massacre in September, all the
committee members were forced to flee. We decided to go to the
border and spent 9 days walking through the jungle to reach
the Salween river. We joined up with the thousands of other
students already there"
Soon after arriving, San San Myint found herself in a KNU
medic training program near the village of U Tha Hta. After
graduating, she began working at the local hospital. A year
later in 1990, SLORC troops attacked the village and burned
down the hospital. San San Myint then fled to another camp on
the Salween river called Mae Baw Mu Hta.
"At that time I was very sick. I had chronic malaria with
attacks every 6 or 7 days. I was too ill to work. It took me a
year to recover." Still weak, San San Myint was transferred to
fighter duty at the ABSDF information office at the KNU
headquarters of Manerplaw. It was there she met her future
husband, Tin Aung, another ABSDF student working in the
After regaining most of her strength, San San Myint was more
determined than ever to continue her struggle against the
SLORC. "I was angry. First the SLORC chased us from our homes
and families. Then they followed us into the jungle and
attacked our camps. They burned down our hospitals and our
schools. I realized that for those of us who are pushing for
democracy, nowhere in Burma is safe".
In order to improve her medical skills, San San Myint next
attended a 6-month training course by the Burma Medical
Association. Her exam results placed her 5th out of the group
of 50 multi-ethnic students attending the training. After the
course she began working at the new hospital at the ABSDF
headquarters of Dawn Gwin.
Three months after arriving at Dawn Gwin, she married Tin Aung
and a year later her twins were born. Caring for her children
then became San San Myint's full time job. Both of her
children have had malaria at least 7 times as well as
dysentery and numerous chest infections.
San San Myint feels she has no option, however, but to bring
up her children in the jungle. "I know it would be easier to
bring them up at home m Burma since my mother or sister could
help, but if I go back now, SLORC will be waiting for me. I
don't want my children to grow up without a mother".
Since the beginning of this year, San San Myint and her family
have already moved house 4 times. As the SLORC military
machine relentlessly swallows up more and more border
territory, all of Burma's border based opposition groups are
constantly having to find new homes.
The student headquarters of Dawn Gwin is now in ashes and the
ABSDF are in the process of setting up yet another
headquarters along the Thai-Burma border.
According to San San Myint, the Burmese people must rid the
country of the military dictatorship by themselves, but she
also admits that those groups along the border need outside
"I would like to tell those people living in foreign
countries, at least those who support democracy, not to forget
about us and help pressure the SLORC to hand over power to the
Burmese people. I'll stay here and continue to do what I can."
===== item =====
RESIDENTS CAUGHT IN MYANMAR'S REMODELING PLAN
(The Daily Yomiuri, May 5, 1995)
By Toshio Toma
Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
YANGON-Myanmar's military regime is turning its attention to
"remodeling" the capital into an attractive sightseeing spot
for foreign tourists.
Designating 1996 as "the year of sightseeing," the Myanmar
government is ordering Yangon residents to demolish old houses
and build new ones. It has also told residents to stop chewing
betel leaves, which turns saliva and teeth red and is regarded
as offensive to tourists. The government is also mandating a
new dress code for singers who perform in the capital.
However, many of Yangon's 4.8 million residents are becoming
increasingly frustrated over the plan, largely viewing the
government's redevelopment project as self-serving and
Last June, residents of Yangon's Dalla district, located
across the Yangon River from downtown, were caught off guard
when they were ordered to demolish "obsolete and dangerous
buildings" and build a "beautiful" neighborhood by 1996.
The order was issued by the Yangon City Development Committee,
a pro-government capital redevelopment committee headed by
Yangon Mayor U Ko Lay.
The Dalla district is congested with one-story wooden
houses-the average residential dwelling seen in Yangon. The
residents claim their homes are not "dirty" or "dangerous" as
the committee claims.
But orders from the military regime, which interprets the law
at its own discretion, are absolute. In line with the
directive, residents began demolishing their "obsolete" homes
At the same time, the committee is trying to redraw
residential blocks and make improvements to streets.
The committee is allowing residents to build new two-story
houses and choose prime building sites along main streets,
provided they have enough money to pay for the houses. Those
who can afford only one-story houses are given the remaining
building sites while those with no financial ability are being
relocated to other local areas.
Moe Moe Aung, a 28-year-old middle school teacher, says her
eight-member family-her parents, sister and her
children-scratched together 30 0,000 kyat (Yen 300,000) from
savings and loans needed to build a new one-story house.
With her 1,200 kyat monthly salary, she has a hard enough just
making ends meet. The added monthly loan payment for the house
is putting even more strain on the family budget.
"We are much better off than people who were relocated," she
said. "It would be impossible to commute to work from the
relocation site and there would be no job available there."
About 50 percent of the Dalla residents were ordered to move
out, she said.
The committee is also pushing the redevelopment project in at
least four other districts in the city.
Downtown Yangon, which is lined with classical brick buildings
from its colonial period, is no exception. Since last May, the
committee ha ordered an average of 10 building per month in
the downtown area to be rebuilt, claiming they are in danger
Dissatisfaction is also simmering because many people suspect
that the military and construction companies are conspiring to
evict owners of buildings in exclusive areas so that hotels
and other buildings can be built with foreign capital.
In its remodeling plan, the military regime is also tampering
with the traditional practices and customs of ordinary
One of these practices is the use of kon, spices wrapped in a
betel piper leaf that Myanmar people have been chewing since
around the 11th century. The government banned its use in the
downtown area on April 1.
The military government says it is not suitable for "an
international city" to have globs of red saliva on the street.
One portion of kon cost 5 kyat to 10 kyat. More than 70
percent of male adults habitually chew kon.
"Kon is good for stopping palpitation and killing pinworms,"
said Zaw Mingt, a friend of Moe Moe Aung. "There are many poor
people out there who try to relieve hunger with kon."
Furthermore, the government, as part of its program to lure
more international travelers, has established dress and
behavior codes for singers to keep indigenous Myanmar culture
Lt. Gen. Myo Nyunt, commander of the Yangon Command, recently
announced a strict 10-point code for singers.
According to the code, female singers are encouraged to wear
longyi, a traditional wrap-around Myanmar costume. They are
prohibited from wearing skirts with deep slits, tight jeans
and revealing dresses.
"These moves destroy the much freer atmosphere generated by
economic revitalization," a diplomatic source said. "They will
only serve to fan antimilitary sentiments'
===== item =====
BURMESE REBELS PLEDGE TO CEASE CROSS- BORDER RAIDS
MAE TA WAW, Burma- Renegade rebels from Burma who have been
attacking Karen refugee camps in Thailand said yesterday they
were not ready for war with Thailand and would cease their
A commander of a rebel faction which broke away from Burma's
anti-Rangoon Karen guerrilla army and joined Burmese
government forces in December said their religion leader, a
Buddhist monk, had ordered them to cease the attacks.
"U Thuzana has ordered us to cease all operations for the time
being and wait to see the Thai reaction on the refugee issue,"
Thai Maj Toe Hlaing, a local commander of the Democratic Karen
"Our leader said we are not ready to declare war with Thailand
but we can defend ourselves if necessary," he said in the
forest on the Burmese bank of the Moei River, which forms the
border with Thailand.
Toe Hlaing admitted his group was responsible for raiding
several refugee camps in Thailand last week and burning down
hundreds of bamboo and thatch refugee dwellings.
The raids angered Thailand and prompted an official complaint
to Burma's ruling military body, Thailand also moved in more
than 1,000 reinforcements and a formidable array of military
hardware to reinforce the frontier.
Thai Army helicopter gunships, firing machine guns and
rockets, attacked a group of DKBA guerrillas dug in on a
northwestern Thai border mountain on Saturday.
Thai helicopters also attacked a DKBA camp in Burma late last
week, firing salvos of rockets into the rebel position at the
confluence of the Salween and Moei rivers.
The DKBA was formed in December by hundreds of Karen
guerrillas who mutinied against their leader in the Christian
-led anti Rangoon Karen National Union [KNU]. The DKBA says
its raids on the refugee camps in Thailand were aimed at
forcing the 70,000 Karen refugees, many of whom are KNU
supporters, back to the Government's zone of control in Burma.
Toe Hlaing said he did not object to a Thai plan to move the
refugees away from the border to safer locations deeper in
Thailand, but he wanted Thai authorities to ensure that no KNU
guerrillas were among them.
He said his faction would demand that Thailand hand over any
KNU members found on Thai soil.
Meanwhile, a Burmese colonel told Thai reporters on the
Burmese side of the border that Rangoon troops on alert at the
frontier were instructed to shoot down any Thai military
aircraft that violated Burma's air space.
"The order from the Slorc [State Law and Order Restoration
Council] is clear, that we must shoot down aircraft
trespassing our air space without having to wait for a
shooting order," the colonel said.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sanan Kachornprasart said he
believes the border situation is under control and no further
violence is expected.
Sanan, just returned from a border inspection, said the Army
and combined security forces are on full alert and well
prepared to deter further raids by armed groups from Burma.
"They are prepared and ready to respond to whatever the
Burmese government intends to do, " Sanan said.
He said it has not yet been determined who killed three Thai
border police last week, but investigators should be able to
find out by examining the bullets.
"If the bullets are proven not to be from the Thai Army, a
conclusion could easily be reached as to which side fired
them," Sanan said.
Defence Minister Vijit Sookmak said the border situation is
now stabilized and he expects the current military operation
against the raiders will not hurt Thai-Burmese relations.
Vijit backed the proposal to relocate refugee camps to Burma
but said there is need to get Burma's agreement.
===== item =====
OPPOSITION PUSHES FOR URGENT DEBATE ON KAREN INCURSIONS, VIJIT
COOL TO HOLDING OPEN HOUSE DISCUSSION OF 'SENSITIVE MATTERS'
The opposition yesterday filed an urgent motion calling for a
House debate on the violent border incursion by the Democratic
Karen Buddhist Army.
In a letter submitted to House speaker Marut Bunnag yesterday,
the opposition said the debate is urgently needed and called
on the government to talk swift action to prevent repetition
of the incursions, which have terrorized Thai villagers along
The letter also called on the House Committee on local
administration to investigate the incidents. The guerrillas
have burned Karen refugee camps, abducted their leaders and
robbed Thai villagers.
The murder of three Thai police last Wednesday prompted the
Thai Army to retaliate by attacking a DKBA base opposite Mae
Hong Son's Sob Mei District.
"The problems need to be resolved quickly by authorities to
restore security and protect villagers' lives and properties.
In addition, these are sensitive matters concerning peace and
order as well as national sovereignty," the letter said.
The letter was signed by opposition MPs from the Chat Thai,
Chat Patana and New Aspiration parties. Local MP Panya
Jinakham (Chat Thai- Mae Hong Son) was also a signatory.
Since March, the border raids have disturbed the lives of
villagers from Sob Mei, Mae Sarieng, Mae Sa Riang, Mae La Noi
and Khun Yuam District in Mae Hong Son Province. however,
their request for security to be stepped-up along the border
has not been met simply because the security forces have
insufficient manpower, the letter said.
The House Committee already begun its own investigation into
the border incidents at the request of Panya.
CPP leader Gen Chatichai Choonhavan last week criticized the
government and the Army for their failure to use existing
channels to stem the violent incursions by the DKBA.
Rangoon has denied any responsibility for the killings,
claiming it does not support the DKBA, which is said is out of
The DKBA itself blamed its former ally, the Karen National
Union for the slayings.
It was unclear whether the debate could take place during this
week's two-day House session but Defence Minister Vijit
Sookmark said government officials will testify on the
government's reaction to the border violence and the
coordination among all relevant agencies.
However, Vijit was guarded about open debate on the issue,
contending that national security matters could not be made
public. Meanwhile, the exiled Burmese government has called on
the international community, especially the Thai government,
to take tough action against Rangoon's brutal crackdown on
Karen refugees, or face riskier consequences.
The democratically- elected National Coalition Government of
the Union of Burma, in a letter dated May 5, lambasted Rangoon
for its attacks on Karen refugee camps in Thailand. It said
the State Law and Order Restoration Council [Slorc] had shown
no restraint and little regard for human lives despite
protests by Thailand and the international community.
"The International community should not be surprised that
beneath its mask Slorc has bared its fangs," the statement
"For Thailand, already much has been lost and there is much
more at stake. It should start to act now and show Slorc that
these brutalities will have to end."
===== item =====
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/ASIA CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON BURMESE REFUGEES
MMR: Human Rights Watch/Asia
Human Rights Watch/Asia today condemned three attacks on
Burmese refugees in Thailand since April 23 by Burmese
government troops and their allies, the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army (DKBA), and called for Thailand to increase the
protection of refugees in all camps. In the course of the
attacks, the combined Burmese and DKBA forces burned refugee
camps, forced scores of refugees to return to Burma against
their will and may have been responsible for the deaths of two
refugees. Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Burmese and
Thai governments to allow an international monitoring presence
along their border in the area where the raids took place and
on the Thai government to allow full access to the refugee
camps by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and
other humanitarian agencies, with whatever security protection
may be necessary.
Since the fall of the Karen National Union (KNU) bases at
Manerplaw and Kawmoora in January and February 1995, over
10,000 Karen have sought refuge in Thailand, joining the
70,000 already in camps along the Thai-Burma border. The DKBA,
a breakaway group of Buddhist Karen who left the Christian-led
Karen National Union in December 1994, alleging religious
discrimination and human rights abuses by Karen officers, had
assisted in the Burmese government's offensive against the
KNU. Following the defeat of the KNU, the DKBA began raiding
refugee camps, kidnapping Buddhist Karen leaders and killing
others in what are thought to have been acts of revenge. The
most recent attacks are the most serious yet, and appear to be
linked to leaflets distributed by the DKBA in early April
warning all refugees to return to Burma by April 19.
On April 23, around 200 government and DKBA troops crossed the
river Moei which marks the border with Thailand and entered
Klay They Loo refugee camp, close to the river in Thailand's
Mae Sam Leb district. Fighting broke out between them and
Karen camp guards. Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least
two refugees were killed in the crossfire, and nine people
were taken by the DKBA.
The fighting spread to a nearby Thai Karen village, resulting
in all the residents of that village fleeing, and the village
was reported to have been razed to the ground. The following
day, April 24, further intrusions were made into Klay The Loo
camp and more refugees were abducted.
On April 25, a separate group of around 200 Burmese and DKBA
troops crossed into Thailand from the north, and were reported
to have attacked Mae Ra Ma Luang camp, north of Klay They Loo.
Unlike the other camps, this is a new camp established five
and half kilometers inside Thailand after earlier attacks on
camps close to the border. There were over 4,500 refugees in
the camp at the time of the attack. The details of the attack
are unclear, but it reports suggest that sections one and
three of the camp were razed. It is not known how many people
were injured in the attack, nor how many people were abducted.
Representatives of French and German aid organizations are
attempting to reach the camp today, but there has been no
confirmation as to whether they have succeeded. Without
protection from Thailand, the area remains very dangerous for
both refugees and those groups seeking to provide them with
food and shelter.
At midnight on April 25, a further attack took place in Kamaw
Lay Kho camp,which is south of Mae Ma Ra Luang, between the
river and the Mae Sot - Mae Sariang highway. Press reports
quoted a Thai army officer as saying that some 100 troops were
involved in this attack, in which 300 houses were razed and an
unknown number of refugees and Thai villagers were abducted.
Since the attack 3,000 residents of the camp have been forced
to live in the forest. A representative of the Burma Border
Consortium, the main provider of aid to the refugees, told
Human Rights Watch/Asia that these attacks have dramatically
increased the tension in the camps, with the fear that now any
camp could be attacked at any time. It is unclear how the Thai
military in the area responded to the attacks, but the Thai
Third Army Region Commander, Gen. Surachet Dechatiwong, is
reported to have traveled to the area to investigate the
incident. He had met with his Burmese counterpart, Gen Khet
Sein, at a Thai-Burma Regional Border Committee meeting on
April 25, where he was reported to have raised the issue of
incursions into Thai territory and was told that the SLORC
could not control the DKBA forces "who are like children
staying under their roof." While Human Rights Watch/Asia has
no details of the current relationship between the government
and the DKBO, it is known that they regularly meet and that
the government has provided financial and military assistance
to the DKBA. Moreover, as a paramilitary group operating from
inside Burma (and the headquarters of the DKBA is just across
base), the Burmese government remains responsible for their
Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Thai government to
protect civilians taking refuge in their country. In cases
where refugees are abducted and taken to Burma against their
will, the Thai government is responsible for permitting
refoulement, a violation of international law. It also calls
on the government to step up its protection of the camp,
rather than forcing the refugees to provide for their own
protection with armed guards,as this could lead to the camps
being considered legitimate military targets.
Human Rights Watch/Asia (formerly Asia Watch)Human Rights
Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to
monitor and promote the observance of internationally
recognized human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the
Middle East and among the signatories of the Helsinki accords.
Kenneth Roth is the executive director; Cynthia Brown is the
program director; Holly J. Burkhalter is the advocacy
director; Gara LaMarche is the associate director; Juan E.
Mendez is general counsel; and Susan Osnos is the
communications director. Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of
the executive committee and Adrian W. DeWind is vice chair.
Its Asia division was established in 1985 to monitor and
promote the observance of internationally recognized human
rights in Asia. Sidney Jones is the executive director; Mike
Jendrzejczyk is the Washington director; Robin Munro is the
Hong Kong director; Zunetta Liddell, Dinah PoKempner, Patricia
Gossman and Jeannine Guthrie are research associates; Mark
Girouard and Shu-Ju Ada Cheng are Luce fellows; Diana Tai-
Feng Cheng and Jennifer Hyman are associates; Mickey Spiegel
is a research consultant.
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