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BurmaNet News: May 16, 1995 [#173]
- Subject: BurmaNet News: May 16, 1995 [#173]
- From: burmanet@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 20:51:00
------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: May 16 1995
BKK POST: THE RIGHT WAY TO END MONEY LAUNDERING
BKK POST: 13 BURMESE HELD IN CSD RAID ON SHOP
BKK POST: KAREN CAMP RAID YIELDS MORE ARMS
BKK POST: THE RIGHT WAY TO END MONEY LAUNDERING
TAK CLASH CAUSES 7-HOUR BLACKOUT
THE NATION: SURIN HITS BACK AFTER BURMA'S ALLEGATIONS
BKK POST: GOVT WILLING TO WORK WITH BURMA TO REPATRIATE
BKK POST: PRESIDENT OF LAOS ENDS GOOD-WILL TRIP TO RANGOON BKK POST:
28 ILLEGAL BURMESE, KHMER WORKERS HELD
BKK POST: MEMORY LAPSE LANDS SANAN IN A FLAP
THE NATI0N: ARMY NETS HUGE WEAPONS HAUL AFTER RAIDING TWO
BKK POST: RANGOON TV SHOWS SLORC MEETING DKBO
THE NATION: SOLDIER INJURED AFTER CLASH WITH GUERRILLAS AT
BKK POST: HUNT FOR HIDDEN ARMS OF KAREN REFUGEES TO GO ON BKK POST:
BANGKOK AIMS FOR PEACE IN THE REGION
BKK POST: POLICE TO GET SPECIAL TRAINING TO FIGHT DRUGS
BKK POST: CHIANG RAI READY FOR BORDER CLOSURE
THE NATION: EX-FOREIGN MINISTER URGES KRASAE TO BE MORE ACTIVE
IN HIS NEW ROLE
THE NATION: BORDER RESIDENTS SHOULD NOT WORRY, INSISTS ARMY
BKK POST: LAOS AND BURMA SIGN AGREEMENTS ON RANGE OF
FEER: IT'S RANGOON, NOT REBELS
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13 BURMESE HELD IN CSD RAID ON SHOP
15 MAY 1995
THIRTEEN Burmese, one of them a women, were arrested in a raid b
Crime Suppression Division police early yesterday morning on a lathe
shop on Charan Sanitwong Road in Bang Plad District. They were
charged with illegal entry. Komchai Kornchamraskul, 42, the shop on
Charan Sanitwong Road in Ban Plad District. They were charged with
illegal entry. Komchai Kornchamraskul, 42 the shop owner, was also
arrested some 200 illegal Burmese immigrants.
On Saturday, Immigration and Border Patrol Police(BPP) repa- triated
some 200 illegal Burmese immigrants in a round-up cam- paign at
three locations in this western town on the Burmese border.
some 100 immigration and BPP officers were involved in the operation
which focussed on the regular hangouts and places which provide
employment for the illegal immigrations.
Most of the 227 people rounded up in the campaign were chil- dren
and women. They were immediately sent back across the border by Thai
Pol Mai Prasit Krathinthong, immigration police inspector of Tak,
said the campaign would continue in a systematic manner for a period
of time under a plan decide upon by the local border peace-keeping
BKK POST: THE RIGHT WAY TO END MONEY LAUNDERING
15 May 1995
Drug traffickers smuggle narcotics because of the huge prof- its.
Thus, an obvious way to attack them is through their fat
pocketbooks. This simple truth is the key to an international
strategy aiming to hurt drug kingpins and halt their law-brea- king.
On the surface, the strategy is simple enough: seize the illgained
earnings of known drug gang leaders. but turning the goal into
reality has proved difficult, to say the least. In our own country,
as in many others, drug trafficking kingpins have sometimes shown
that crime does pay. They have made their criminal activities
profitable through a complex, shadowy pro- cess knowing in general
terms as money laundering.
Money laundry is a fitting term. It involves taking the
"dirty" money paid by hapless drug users to their dealers and
bringing it into society spanking"clean." The crumpled bills handed
over by hundreds of desperate heroin addicts in Bangkok turns up in
a Swiss bank account, and is used to purchase an automobile in
America. The suitcase of cash paid to a marijua- na smuggler on a
Canadian island reappears a few months later from a Singapore bank,
and is used to pay contractors working on a hotel in Rangoon.
Money laundering is an intricate, often mysterious process which
exploits legal loopholes, international banking and hu- man trust -
to say nothing of outright greed. In its simplest form, it is a drug
dealer who walks into a bank, opens a James Bond bag filled with
cash, and deposits it in his account. from here, he may write a
cheque to pay for a new home or car, or he may telegraph the funds
to another account in another country. The dirty money has been
laundered, and reappears in the economy as clean - just like a dress
or shirt laundered after a day of wear. Some 20 years of education
and coopera- tion between anti-drugs officers and bankers have made
this simple scenario increasingly rare, but it remains the simples
example of money laundering.
An international community concerned with the high-handed and
dangerous marketing tactics of drug kingpins is working des-
perately to cash up with sophisticated narcotics dealers.
Thailand is expected to pass an anti-money laundering law
shortly, probably when Parliament disposes of the
no=confidence debate. The new proposed new law has won wide support
from the government and Opposition, as well as Thai businessmen.
Increasingly, society has been both embarrassed and outraged by the
sight of drug dealers profiting from their crimes, rather than
paying for them.
Work to close down the money laundries will not be easy. But the
effort must press forward. justice may work carefully - and thus
slowly - but it must prevail. More than 80 cases brought under the
1992 law permitting seizure of drug dealers' assets remain pending.
It is said criminals are encouraged at this. But when the law
prevails, they will feel otherwise. The most encouraging aspect is
the support of the business communitwn, capitalistic and open
societies to launder their proceeds. decent societies which
encourage investment are the targets of drug kingpins, both to sell
their drugs and to
launder their cash. It is no accident that nations such as the
United States, Britain, Taiwan and Thailand are the chief targets of
Our welcome to investors must not be mistaken for weakness. Ruthless
drugs marchants profit through the suffering and other exploitation
of our citizens. Their use of our economic system to further their
ill-gotten gains and personal lives adds great insult to the very
real injury they have inflicted. Our industrious and honest workers,
executives and businesses have no need of their dirty money.
The government has acted wisely in moving cautiously on the
anti-laundering bill. By gaining support from the private sector, it
has made success of the measure more likely. It has balanced the
honest citizen's need for economic privacy against society's demand
to catch, stop and punish the drug trafficker. It may move us closer
to the day that crime doesn't pay. (BP)
NATION: KAREN CAMP RAID YIELDS MORE ARMS
15 May 1995
The Thai Army have seized a large amount of weapons during a raid on
a karen refugee camp, the second discovery in four days, the
Thai-Burmese border area commander said yesterdays. The weapons
allegedly belonged to Karen National Union guer- rillas, Colonel
Philbul Burcha said.
More than 150 border patrol police and soldiers stormed the Mae Lama
Luang Refugee Camp and a nearby village in Mae Hong Son province
late on Saturday, and confiscated rocket launch- ers, rifles,
rocket-propelled grenades, sub-machine funs, an- ti-tank rockets and
more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, he said.
"We will continue to search for weapons that might be hidden in the
refugee camps to demonstrate to the Burmese government that Thailand
does not support anti-Rangoon guerrillas,"
Former officers of the KNU reportedly stored the arms in the two
villages which lie opposite Manerplaw - one of the last two KNU
strongholds which fell to Rangoon forces earlier this year, he said.
That fighting sent some 10,000 Karen across the border, where they
joined some 60,000 ethnic people already in Thai refugee camps.
About 400 Thai border troops launched the first pre-dawn raids on
Wednesday against refugee camps at Huay Ma Noke, Sho Klo, Kler Kho
and Mae La in Tak province, south of Mae Hong Son, and a quantity of
arms were seized.
The searches came after the Burmese government and a Karen splinter
group complained that Thailand was harbouring anti- Rangoon
TAK CLASH CAUSES 7-HOUR BLACKOUT
15 May 1995
A government patrol clashed with an unidentified force in Tha Song
Yang district yesterday morning and the exchange of gun- fire
damaged a power transmission line, causing a seven-hour blackout in
the area, a military source said.
The clash took place at about 10 a.m when cavalry soldiers
patrolling in two jeeps between kilometre 55-56 on Mae Sot-Tha Song
Yang Road were fired on by an unidentified armed force with RPG
rocket launchers and rifles.
The clash cite was about three kilometres from the Thai-Bur- mese
The patrol returned fire with machine-guns and rifles.
Seven armoured personnel carriers, five jeeps and a helicopter
gunship immediately rushed to clash site.The unidentified
force withdrew after about 15 minutes.
No casualties were reported and damage was restricted to the power
transmission line which caused a seven hour blackout in Tha Song
Two men were later arrested near the scene of the fighting and taken
to Task Force 34 headquarters in Mae Sot for question- ing.
It was not yet confirmed whether the attacking force was from Burma.
SURIN HITS BACK AFTER BURMA'S ALLEGATIONS
13 May 1995
The Foreign Ministry yesterday strongly criticized as
incorrect and unacceptable recent allegations by Rangoon that
Thailand is harbouring anti-Burma terrorists and
supporting drug traffickers.
The ministry totally rejects allegations by Burma's ministry of
defence which could imply that Thailand has allowed Burmese
insurgents, including drug warlord Khun Sa, to hide here and to
travel in and out of the country and implement
antigovernment activities, Deputy Foreign Minister Surin
Thailand and Burma have been engaged in border conflicts after
incursions by a Karen splinter group which attacked Karen
refugee camps in Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces.
Rangoon's defence ministry, in a statement issued by its
embassy here, alleged that the border problems occurred
because Thailand has been harbouring the terrorists.
The problems that have occurred on the Thai-Myanmar [Burma] border
are a consequence of Thailand having harboured for
various reasons terrorists who seek to oppose Myanmar, the
Surin yesterday stressed that Thailand has the absolute right
according to internationally-accepted standards and
international law to provide shelter for people escaping
internal fighting in their homeland.
With its merciful provision of shelter, Thailand should not be
accused of providing shelter for antigovernment
insurgents, Surin said.
It is not important who the refugees are and which side the belong
to antigovernment or government. If they flee the
fighting into our land, we have to accept them on humanitarian
grounds and on a temporary basis.
When the internal situation returns to normal, they will
return home on their own, Surin said.
He stressed that the conflict was between Thailand and Burma and
that Thailand did not want to upgrade the problem to Asean level.
Asean groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
The minister also referred to Burma's statements about attacks by
Khun Sa, such as one launched through Mae Sai, Thailand, on the
Burmese town of Tachilek on Mar 20.
The statement said that when the Burmese army launched
offensives against the drug traffickers, they were able to take
refuge in, and bring reinforcements of manpower and
materials through, Thailand.
Surin said the international community had recognized
Thailand's attempts to suppress drug trafficking and related
activities and therefore the criticism from Rangoon was
Referring to a recent report that Khun Sa carries a Thai
identity card, Surin said if that was true, the identity card would
certainly be revoked.
He said without elaboration that Thai authorities are
considering revoking the ID cards of certain people. (TN)
PRESIDENT OF LAOS ENDS GOOD-WILL TRIP TO RANGOON
13 May 1995
Laotian President Nouhak Phoumsavanh ended a four day
good-will visit to Burma yesterday during which the two
countries signed a trade pact and an agreement on agricultural
Instruments of ratification of an agreement on a fixed
international boundary between the two neighbours along the Maekong
River, signed last year, were exchanged during the visit.
Details of the trade and agriculture agreements, signed
Tuesday, were not released, but state-run Radio Rangoon said at the
time they were of fundamental importance for short-and long-term
relations and cooperation .
A joint communique released after Phoumsavanh flew back to Vientiane
said his visit had provided a firmer basis for
further strengthening the friendship and cooperation of the two
countries, thus contributing to peace, stability and
cooperation in the Southeast Asian region.
It said his talks with Burmese leaders had afforded a close and
cordial exchange of views on development and experiences of their
respective countries as well as on current
international issues. (BP)
GOVT WILLING TO WORK WITH BURMA TO REPATRIATE KARENS
13 May 1995
Thailand is willing to cooperate with Burma to repatriate the 90,000
Karen refugees as soon as possible, deputy foreign
minister Surin Pitsuwan said yesterday.
The best solution is to send them back, but the problem is, they
don't want to go. And we can't force them, said Surin. The question
of the return of the refugees was raised at a meeting on Thursday
attended by officials of the Foreign,
Defence and Interior ministries and of the National Security
According to Surin, at refugees has increased by 20,000 from the
70,000 recorded on May 1.
Surin said Thailand needed to hold discussions with Burma both at
the local level and through the appropriate diplomatic
channels in order to resolve the problem.
He said Thailand needed to reassure the refugees about their safety
before returning home.
Commenting on allegations made by Burma's deputy military
intelligence chief Colonel Kyaw Win earlier this week that Thailand
cooperated with and supported anti-Rangoon groups, Surin said they
were unacceptable and unfounded.
However, Surin declined to respond to the allegations more
aggressively, saying the Foreign Ministry has already made its point
in a series of protest notes handed to the Burmese
ambassador to Thailand since the beginning of the year.
The ministry has summoned Ambassador U Tin Winn eight times over the
past few months to discuss the 15 incidents in which armed men
intruded into Thai territory.
The last time, the aide memoire warned Burma of Thailand's right to
self-defence against violations by Burmese troops of its territorial
Surin defended Thailand's assistance to the refugees on
humanitarian grounds. He said that no matter which faction they came
from, they are disarmed. This practice is
consistent with international law and does not mean that
Thailand is hostile or unfriendly toward Burma, he said.
He said Thailand fully cooperates with Burma and international
agencies in drug suppression. It has closed some border
checkpoints and revoked the Thai nationality of a number of
convicted drug dealers who illegally obtained Thai
The deputy minister said he would discuss the issue with
Burmese officials at a meeting on cooperation on drug
suppression organised by the United Nations on Drug
Cooperation Programme (UNDCP) in Beijing, China on May 26-27.
Ministers from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma will be
present at the meeting.
Meanwhile in Mae Hong Son, Defence Minister Gen Vijit Sookmark said
Thailand wanted to see national reconciliation in Burma, saying it
would help relieve the burden of refugees who had sought shelter in
Gen Vijit made the comment while inspecting the border. He said
Burma should understand how Thailand had suffered over the refugee
Thailand has sheltered this burden for a long time, which has been
caused by internal strife in Burma among minority groups and caused
us trouble, said the defence minister.
Gen Vijit said he was optimistic that border problems would
gradually be improved, and he did not believe that Burmese forces
would make cross-border attacks into Thai territory. He said
Thailand and Burma had coordinated closely through border committees
at the local and regional level.
Gen Vijit ruled out any possibility of a military clash
between the security forces of the two countries.
In a separate interview in Tak, he said Thailand has no policy of
supporting minority rebels in Burma.
Col Pibul Bucha, commander of the Third Army's Task Force 35,
yesterday briefed the defence minister over security, saying the
situation had been improved greatly as a result of
reinforcements in the area.
The Third Army Region and the Police Department sent troops to the
border after elements of the Rangoon-backed Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army conducted a series of cross-border attacks on camps
holding anti-Rangoon Karen rebels and intimidated Thai security
forces protecting the camps.
Rangoon has denied any link with the DKBA. In a related
incident, a local security source said that Burma has asked for Thai
cooperation over a report that forces of the Karen National
Progressive Party (KNPP) had transferred a large
amount of illegal logs into Thailand through provincial
They want us to close the crossing points, the security
source said. (BP)
28 ILLEGAL BURMESE, KHMER WORKERS HELD
14 May 1995
Illegally-employed Burmese and Khmers threatened to jump from the
second and third floors of a Pattaya building site during a Tourist
Police raid yesterday.
The workers panicked when the police arrived at the Pattaya Plaza
Twenty-eight of them were arrested after police persuaded them not
Two Thai foreman were also charged with illegally employing aliens
and providing them with accommodation.
The workers admitted they had illegally crossed the border to seek
jobs in Thailand, police said. (BP)
MEMORY LAPSE LANDS SANAN IN A FLAP
14 May 1995
A Memory lapse had Interior Minister Sanan Kachornprasart in a flap
He could not remember whether he gave written approval for processed
wood to be imported from Burma on March 20.
After learning the Opposition Planned to grill him for
allegedly allowing Thai Veneer Industry Co to bring in 400,000 cubic
metres of processed wood from Burma. Maj-Gen Sanan
phoned Foreign Affairs Division director Pranai Suwannarat. Mr
Pranai said the minister had never signed such an order. The
official told him he found no announcement in the Royal Gazette
ordering the opening of border passes along the
Thai-Burmese border to enable wood imports. (BP)
THAI-BURMA BORDER PROBLEM ON AGENDA
14 May 1995
A meeting called by the National Security Council will be held
tomorrow to consider Thai-Burmese border problems, a
Government House source said yesterday.
NSC secretary-general Gen Charan Kullavanijaya on Friday sent an
urgent message inviting commanders-in-chief of the three armed
forces, the permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry,
representatives of the Police Department and officials
responsible for security affairs to the meeting at the NSC assembly
hall at Government House.
Matters to be discussed include measures to protect national
sovereignty, control and repatriation of refugees and aid for the
refugees from various organisations, the source said. (BP)
RANGOON TV SHOWS SLORC MEETING DKBO
14 May 1995
While Rangoon denies any involvement in the incursions by
armed Buddhist Karens into Thailand, Burmese television
recently reported on a visit by high-level members of the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) to the head office
of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Organisation (DKBO). The television
report, monitored in Tak's Mae Sot district, showed the second
secretary-general of Slorc Lt-Gen Tin Oo, Interior Minister Mya
Thein, Military Chief-of-Staff Lt-Gen Maung Hla, Southern Force
Commander Maj-Gen Ket Sein, the
Agriculture Minister and many high-ranking military officers
visiting the DKBO's headquarters in a temple near Thu Mew Hta
village north of Manerplaw, a former Karen National Union
(KNU) camp opposite Sop Moei district of Mae Hong Son.
The Burmese officials were greeted by soldiers in Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army (DKBA) uniforms.
Pra U Htu Zana, the founder of the DKBO, gave the visiting officials
a report on the activities being conducted by his organisation.
Lt-gen Tin Oo was full of praise for Pra U Htu Zana, saying he
believed the DKBO would be able to bring back all the Karen refugees
to Burma and pledged to give his full support to the organisation,
according to the television.
Situation reports prepared by Tak's Tha Song Yang authority have
indicated that after the KNU had lost several camps in Burma, DKBA
soldiers crossed the border into Thailand on 35 separate occasions
between February and early May to abduct KNU leaders, attack and
burn down Karen refugee camps,
threaten Thai authorities, rob and murder villagers along the border
and threaten non-government organisations giving aid to Karen
All of this was undertaken to force Karen refugees to return to
Tha Song Yang district chief Wallop Sripa said about 7,000 Karen
refugees had returned to Burma via Mae Ta Wah camp
opposite Tha Song Yang after incursions by the DKBA.
The DKBO yesterday distributed leaflets along the Thai border
claiming it had no intention of causing serious incidents in
Thailand, adding that it only wanted Karen refugees to return home
to join in the nation's development.
The DKBO was established by Pra U Htu Zana, 46, late last
Its headquarters are located in a temple near camp at
Manerplaw, opposite Sop Moei District of Mae Hong Son
Military sources said Pra U Htu Zana was being supported by the
Slorc to divide the KNU, containing both Christians and Buddhists.
ARMY NETS HUGE WEAPONS HAUL AFTER RAIDING TWO KAREN CAMPS
14 May 1995
The Army said yesterday it has seized more war weapons in the latest
raids on two Karen refugee camps in Mae Sariang and Sop Moei
The operations at Mae Lamaluang and Baan Paumaloo camps on Friday
came after the first coordinated raids which netted big caches of
arms from four refugee camps in Tak province on
The weapons confiscated from the Mae Hong Son camps included 27
AK-47, seven M-16 and eight HK-33 assault rifles, three rocket
launchers and a large assortment of ammunition, Col Piboon Boocha,
commander of the 35th Border Task Force said. He said the raids were
part of efforts to step up security on the border and to reduce
tension with the Burmese government and its troops, both of which
have accused Thailand of
supporting the Karen National Union (KNU).
The colonel said the situation along the Thai-Burmese border was
returning to normal after months of incursions by armed insurgents
Piboon said soldiers had been sent to provide security for people in
the areas prone to fighting. He urged people to
inform his task force if there was trouble.
On Wednesday, about 400 men from the police and Army searched Saiko,
Maan Huay Manok, Baan Koekoe and Baan Ma Hla camps in Tak's Mae Sot
They seized five machine guns, four rocket launchers, 29 M-16
assault rifles, four hand grenades and more than 3,000 rounds of
Deputy Army Commander-in-Chief Chettha Thanajaro said
yesterday Thailand and Burma still had a good relationship, despite
the attacks on Karen refugee camps in Thailand.
He said the Foreign Ministry had asked the Burmese government to
produce evidence to back its charges that Thai forces had injured
innocent people during reprisal attacks against the renegade
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army in Burma.
He said it was more appropriate that the ministry should
handle the border issue as soldiers were responsible only for
protecting the country's sovereignty.
"I do not believe the situation will get any worse," he said. (TN)
SOLDIER INJURED AFTER CLASH WITH GUERRILLAS AT BORDER
16 May 1995
A Thai soldier was injured after an unidentified armed group
engaged his security unit in a gunfight as it guarded a
refugee camp in Tha Song Yang district here early yesterday, border
According to the source, the clash at the Shoklo border camp took
place around 4 a.m. It lasted 10 minutes before the 10 armed
intruders retreated into Burma.
Sgt Jen Sornpaiboon was shot in the left leg and was admitted to Tha
Song Yang District Hospital.
The incident followed an ambush on a Thai patrol jeep on the Mae
Sot-Tha Song Yang border road on Sunday. Thai helicopter gunships,
tanks and jeeps equipped with machine guns expelled the intruders
after a 15-minute clash which produced no
casualties, said border sources.
In a related development, the chief of the 10th Cavalry
Battalion, Maj Yothin Bunchuay, said yesterday his men
arrested two KNU members for illegally entering Thailand and
confiscated their jeep.
The battalion handed over the two Karen to the 34th Border Task
Force for interrogation.
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said
yesterday that the relocation of Karen refugee camps on the border
deeper into Thailand and the dispatch of senior Foreign Ministry
officials to Rangoon are probably not necessary as the Thai and
Burmese armies seem to have the border situation under control.
However, Surin said talks on the repatriation of the refugees are
still necessary to make sure it is acceptable to both the Burmese
government and the Karen refugees.
Surin yesterday said Burma's attitude to the border problems had
"improved." Just last week, Rangoon accused Thai elements along the
border of aiding ethnic insurgents fighting the
Burmese government. It also denied responsibility for repeated
intrusions into Thailand by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
"The [border] situation seems to have returned to normal. The Thai
and Burmese armies in the past few days have been in
closer cooperation to solve the conflicts," Surin said.
He said Burma had also shown a positive response toward
Thailand's repeated calls for Rangoon to stop the DKBA's
incursions into Thai territory.
"The relocation of the 17 Karen camps 10 kilometres deeper inside
Thailand may not be necessary at the moment," he said. Surin's
statement came as the National Security Council called a
brainstorming session yesterday with senior officials from the
Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry, Interior Ministry, the armed
forces and the National Intelligence Bureau to review the border
situation and formulate strategies to handle future incidents.
Surin did not attend the meeting but was later briefed by his
ministry's senior officials.
He said coordination between Thai authorities handling border issues
was becoming smoother.
Karen who eventually want to return will be allowed to, while those
who are still uncertain about the situation would be allowed to stay
put, Surin said. (TN)
HUNT FOR HIDDEN ARMS OF KAREN REFUGEES TO GO ON
16 May 1995
The Thai authorities will continue to search for weapons which may
have been hidden by Karen refugees on the Thai side of the border
with Burma, National Security Council chief Gen Charan Kullavanijaya
Drastic legal action will be taken against any refugees found to
have them in their possession, in order to reduce the
fighting between warring Karen factions in Burma.
Col Charan was speaking after a meeting with representatives of
government agencies responsible for national security to discuss the
problem on the Thai-Burmese border and ways of tacking it.
Attending the meeting were the permanent secretaries of the Foreign
and Defence ministries and representatives of the
three armed forces, the Police Department and the National
"Thailand does not want the Karen refugees to have war weapons with
which they can conduct terrorist activities in Burma," he said.
"It is believed that there will be no more attacks and
burnings to force the Karens to go back home. They will
gradually go back anyway as the rice planting season has
come," he said.
This was a reference to recent attacks by Democratic Karen Buddhist
Army (DKBA) soldiers on Karen refugee camps in
BANGKOK AIMS FOR PEACE IN THE REGION
16 May 1995
Thailand aims to create peace and democracy in the region and to
eventually include Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma in the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Deputy Foreign
Minister Surin Pitsuwan said yesterday.
Mr Surin also reaffirmed that Thailand's policy towards
countries in the region including Burma, had not changed.
Thailand would push for all ten regional countries to gain ASEAN
membership, beginning with Vietnam in July, he said. Cambodia, Laos
and Burma will follow soon after.
he denied the Thai ambassador to Rangoon felt uneasy about
Thailand's constructive engagement policy with Burma, saying the
ambassador had come back to Bangkok on normal official duties and
then returned to Rangoon.
Asked whether the current situation along the Thai-Burma
border was obstructing the implementation of the constructive
engagement policy, Mr Surin said negotiations would help
improve the situation.
negotiations were not necessarily at a government or
ministerial level but could be carried out through many other
channels, he said.
Mr Surin said Thailand had lodged a protest with Burma
charging that it should be more responsible and not allow
Karen forces to violate Thailand's sovereignty.
The problems with Karen minority groups are Burma's internal affair
and Thailand will not interfere, he said.
On the suggestion that the Foreign Ministry seemed to be slow in
taking diplomatic action when there was a problem like the current
one with Burma, Mr Surin said the ministry had proved many times
that it was better to take steps prudently rather than to act under
POLICE TO GET SPECIAL TRAINING TO FIGHT DRUGS
16 May 1995
The Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) will hold a four day special
training course for its police units nationwide in an effort to map
out measures to drastically crack down on drug suppliers and
addicts, according to NSB Commissioner Somchai Milinthangkul.
The training starts today at Pattaya City and is organised in line
with the Police Department's plan and policy on the
prevention and suppression of illegal narcotics, NSB
To cope with the widespread use of drugs in society, narcotic
suppression units comprising eight members each will be set up at
all police stations countrywide, said Pol Lt-Gen Somchai. Each
police station under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police
Bureau and the Central Investigation Bureau will have a four-man
narcotics suppression team where as all Border Patrol Police units
will be provided with another training course, according to the NSB
Previous narcotics prevention and suppression campaigns were
directly carried out by the NSB and Office of the Narcotics Control
Board (ONCB) which mostly focused on drug kingpins. (BP)
CHIANG RAI READY FOR BORDER CLOSURE
16 May 1995
The provincial authorities are ready to close border
checkpoints for the safety of nearby villagers if ordered by the
Interior Ministry, Mae Sai District chief Padki Rattanapol said
Officials were concerned about the fighting inside Burma
between the Burmese Government troops and Mong Tai Army under Khun
Sa's leadership which may threaten the lives of Thais living along
the border, Mr Pakdi said.
The National Security Council has proposed the closure of the
Thai-Burmese border to ensure the safety of Thai citizens. The
Burmese Government ordered the closure of its border pass at
Tachilek over a month ago following fighting between one of Khun
Sa's commando units and the Rangoon troops.
However, only the Interior Ministry and the Chiang Rai
governor have the power to issue the order to close the border
If the ministry is to issue the order to close the border at Mae
Sai, two other temporary checkpoints at Ban Pang Ha and Ban Muang
Daeng shoulthe lead?
That's because the military cannot sit idle while the border attacks
continue. There was virtually no diplomatic action for quite some
time. If I had been the Army chief, I would have taking action. I
said in previous interviews that the military action had to be
drastic. There's no need to be too worried about the bilateral
relationship with Burma because that's the realm of the Foreign
Ministry. However, they should
Sometimes the foreign minister and prime minister expressed
different opinions on the Thai-Burmese dispute.
I don't know how often the foreign minister discussed the
problem with the minister, I normally called the prime
minister to let him know my decision before I took action.
Therefore, it's unlikely that we would have expressed
different opinions. I was his subordinate, so I had to consult him
There were press reports that the Burmese government would like
Thailand to give up its so-called 'constructive
That not true. I support that policy because it encourages economic
and academic cooperation. (TN)
BORDER RESIDENTS SHOULD NOT WORRY, INSISTS ARMY SPOKESMAN
16 May 1995
How is the situation along the Thai-Burmese border?
Military operations remain the same. We have found a lot of weapons.
When the Christian Karen fled into Thailand, they brought their
weapons with them. When they arrived, they
buried them. There are many refugee camps which are not
strictly controlled by us. Someday they will dig up those
weapons and use them to kill or rob Thai people. The situation is
much like that along the Thai-Cambodian border. There are a lot of
weapons buried there.
Why are there still so many illegal weapons along the
We have only a few border patrol police and volunteers. It is easy
to smuggle weapons into Thailand.
Do the Thai military have any plans to suppress the Buddhist Karen?
After our continuous military actions, the Buddhist Karen said they
would stop their operations. Our policy remains the same - if they
attack us, we will retaliate.
Will the military send the Christian Karen back to Burma?
We will definitely send them back. We have a clear policy that
states we don't want them to stay too long. But they must want to go
back and it must be safe for them. We don't want
permanent refugee camps in Thailand. We want to send them back
because often they fell trees and encroach on forests. We also have
to spend a lot of money taking care of them.
Critics say the military does not want to push the Christian Karen
back because it wants a budget from the government?
That's not true. Our major policy is that we don't want
illegal immigrants. We have to ask for a larger budget because we
have to increase the number of our staff taking care of them.
Previously we used some 100 officers to oversee illegal immigrants.
But now we have to control some 50,000 refugees.
How are the relations between the Thai and Burmese military? There
are no problems. What we have to do on our soil, we do legally. We
do not cross the border. We have the right to take immediate action
against any groups illegally entering
Do you think the situation along the Thai-Burmese border will
I'm confident that the situation will not escalate because it is a
local issue. The situation has improved after our actions against
the Christian Karen. The fact that we have sent more soldiers to the
border does not mean that the situation has worsened. This is just a
normal operation to increase the
confidence of Thai villagers, and for us to ensure we will be
well-prepared for any situation.
Are you confident that the Thai military can control the
I'm confident that we can defend the country. The people along the
border should not be worried. But they should tell us if they hear
any information that concerns illegal crossings. We have problems if
the people do not help us.
Why did the military allow intruders to cross the border on several
Please don't be disappointed with the Army. Everything is very
time-consuming. If the situation had escalated, we could have been
blamed for using aggressive measures. But if we decide to be
aggressive, we will be. We have to act carefully. We will use
military force, if negotiations fail.
But why has the military allowed the Buddhist Karen to violate our
sovereignty on several occasions?
We have taken action over that and the Buddhist Karen have called a
What was behind the Buddhist Karen launching attacks on Thai soil?
They side with Rangoon, which wants to separate the two Karen forces
and let them destroy each other. Buddhist Karen want power from
Rangoon, or they may have reached certain
agreements which we do not know about.
Have we become a tool of any side?
We are not anyone's tool. We don't want to fight Burma, but we have
to do our job.
What do you think about the suggestion from Suthin Noppaket
[chairman of the House Committee on foreign affairs] that
Thailand should not resort to military action as it could
damage bilateral relationships with Burma?
I would like him to repeat standing on the border when they [the
Karen guerrillas] open fire. But now people want him
dismissed. Military officials use a military strategy, while
In what way do you view the government's constructive
engagement with Burma?
this depends on the government. For a example, to sanction one
country will cause that country to turn to another. If we want a
country to be as developed as we are, we have to lead the way and
show what developed countries can achieve, such as Singapore and
Malaysia. They [the 'constructive' is a good word. They [the Burmese
government] with gradually learn that while they are engaged in
civil war, other countries are
Many parties think the constructive engagements arose because of a
selfish policy of Asean, designated to be profitable to Burma?
We may surmise that from now on Burma has no right to be
involved in Asean affairs, and should be isolated. If that happens
the only ones to suffer would be them. They [Burma] would have to
seek assistance from some other countries. They may turn to China.
LAOS AND BURMA SIGN AGREEMENTS ON RANGE OF ISSUES
16 May 1995
Laotian President Nouhak Phoumsavanh returned home from a
five-day visit to Burma on Friday with several agreements
signed by Vientiane and Rangoon.
His visit as guest of Gen Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), coincided with the first
meeting of the Laotian-Burmese Joint
Nouhak and Gen Than Shwe share the view that the visit "will help
excellent cooperation to flourish between Laos and
Myanmar," according to Radio Vientiane. they exchanged views on
Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad and Commerce Minister
Sompadith Vorasane were among Laotian officials on the trip. The two
governments signed an agreement on trade and
agriculture cooperation. They also ratified a border
demarcation treaty signed last year during a visit to
Vientiane by Gen Than Shwe. The countries share a
The general chose Laos as his first country to visit since Slorc's
seizure of power in 1988.
"The signing of the documents will lay a firm foundation for future
cooperation between the two countries," the national radio said.
Laotian ambassador to Burma Li Bounkham told Inside indochina that
according to the first joint commission meeting, both countries
agreed in principle to direct flights between
Rangoon and Vientiane to promote "Visit Myanmar Year" in 1996. They
agreed to open a permanent border checkpoint at Ban Wang Pong,
Tachilek district, in Burma's Shan state and at Muang Mom, Muang Ton
Pung in Bo Kaew province, Laos.
"We both want to upgrade the permanent checkpoints to
international level so foreign tourists can visit," Li said. Border
trade will be promoted.
Burma and Laos agreed to exchange military attaches. Laos has these
in all its neighbouring countries except Burma.
Nouhak's visit highlighted this year's exchange of visits
between the two countries.
Burmese Information and Culture Minister Lt-Gen Aung Ye Kyaw visited
Laos country for five days ending April 27, two months after Laotian
Deputy Information Bouabane Vorakhoune went to Rangoon to strengthen
cultural ties and information
IT'S RANGOON, NOT REBELS
Burmese government behind camp attacks
By Bertil Lintner in Kamaw Lay Kho, Thailand
It was late at night when more than a hundred heavily armed
soldiers with guns at the ready came into Thailand's Kamaw Lay Kho
refugee camp, recounts Saw Kauk Cho, pastor of the Baptist church in
the camp 80 kilometres north of Mae Sot, a town on the border with
Burma. Within minutes, the attackers doused the ethnic Karen camp
with kerosene and set it ablaze. The story of April 25 is familiar
six such camps housing 10,000 refugees have been burned since April
19. Before that, Karen rebels lost the last of their strongholds at
Manerplaw and Kawmoora.
What's less known is that the attempts to drive the refugees back
into Burma are being carried out by the Burmese army rather than by
a breakaway Buddhist faction of the Karen fighters themselves, as
the Burmese Embassy in Thailand says. Most observers along the
frontier, from foreign aid workers to Thai intelligence officers to
refugees, offer evidence that points at troops of the Burmese
regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council.
"It's Burmese regulars, with a few ex-Karen national Union defectors
acting as guides, who are burning the refugee
camps," says a Western aid worker along the border. "But the claim
that it is the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army which is carrying out
the attacks makes it appear as if the present imbroglio is an
internal Karen conflict. For every DKBA soldier, there are at least
five to 10 guys from the Burmese army."
The Kamaw Lay Kho camp is a stone's throw from the Moei river, which
forms the border with Burma. The attackers came from across the
water, Saw Kauk Cho says.
Then, young privates poured kerosene on the bamboo huts in the camp
and lit them while older officers in the background directed the
action over walkie-talkies.
The pastor tells how mortars and rocket-propelled grenades were
fired into the dense maze of houses. Within minutes, the refugee
camp's 300 buildings became an inferno. The attackers told the
refugees they had to return across the border, or face a worse fate
in the next attack, the pastor says.
Rangoon and the Thai press say the attackers are from the
DKBA, a breakaway faction from the main KNU.
The Buddhist faction was set up on December 21, when some
Buddhist KNU soldiers mutinied against the predominantly
According to a border intelligence source: "Not more than
200-300 KNU soldiers defected last December, and the groups
attacking the refugee camps are much more numerous than the
so-called DKBA has ever been."
Sources along the border also point out that all the refugee camps
which have been attacked are located immediately
opposite major Burmese army positions such as Mae Tha Waw, south of
Manerplaw. Soldiers at the Maw Pokay base could walk to the Kamaw
Lay Kho refugee camp in less than an hour, for example.
Refugees at the camp say they recognized a few of the
attackers as former KNU soldiers from a hill tribe whose men shifted
sides and joined forces with the Burmese army in December.
The rest were unknown to the refugees; they either spoke
Burmese or spoke Karen with an accent typical of the Irrawaddy delta
south of Rangoon and far away from the hills bordering Thailand
where the KNU operates. Many ethnic Karens from the
government-controlled delta have been recruited into the
The evidence that the attackers weren't from the Karen faction could
explain the cautious response from the Thai side. It's true that on
May 5, Thai helicopter gunships fired salvos on a Karen Buddhist
position inside Burma.
Military and civilian leaders in Bangkok have protested what they
call the Karen Buddhist incursion, and called on the Burmese army to
rein in its rebel allies. And in an effort that signals Thai defence
of its sovereignty, Bangkok has sent reinforcements supported by
field artillery to the border. But in the refugee camps along the
border, there are few signs that the Thais have stepped up security.
Thailand's dilemma is obvious. The Thais do not want to comfort
regular Burmese troops, even ones wearing the uniforms and insignia
of the Karen Buddhist army. Some observers argue the Burmese motive
from the camp attacks is to shake Thailand's will to harbour the
Observers along the Thai-Burmese border say both the Burmese and the
Thai authorities want the refugees to return to Burma. Shortly after
the first cross-border raid, Thai army commander Gen. Wimol
Wongwanich said "it would take only a week to push all refugees back
to Burma," if he were permitted to do so. On May 2, Thai Interior
Minister Sanan Kachornprasart suggested that the 74,000-plus Karen
refugees in Thailand should be moved away from their 23 camps on the
border and concentrated in two or three protected camps. Refugee
workers point out that in the new camps the Karens would be more
difficult to attack and easier to push back into Burma.
KNU leader Bo Mya has appealed to the United Nations to
protect the refugees. But involvement of the international body
would constrain the refugees' movement. Presence of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees would also attract
international scrutiny, which the Thais clearly do not want. The
answer to the problem may be found down at the banks of the Moei at
Mae Sot itself. The Thais began building a new bridge across the
river last October and hope to finish it by 1996.
Already, concrete arch spans the Moei, and construction
workers cross the border as if there weren't any conflict
nearby. Markets and shops are springing up along the Thai road
leading down to the bridge, and all in all appears there's too much
at stake for the Thais to risk war with the Burmese over the refugee
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