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News: August 7

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The BurmaNet News: AUGUST 7, 1995

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===== item =====


7 August 1995, Bangkok Post

THAI authorities will next month begin arresting more than 10,000 Karen
refugees who have refused to move to two camps arranged for them by the
Thai government in Tha Song Yang District.

A series of attacks on Karen refugee camps along the Thai Burmese border
by the DKBA earlier this year prompted the Thai authorities to set up Mae
Hla and Sho Klo camps in Tha Song Yang District, to ensure security as well
as for better control of refugees.

So far 20,173 Karen refugees have moved to Mae Hla camp and 8,8979 in Sho
Klo camps.

About 1000 refugees living at Mae Woei, Mae Pho Hta and Kaw Theelu camps
and nearby mountainous areas have refused to be resettled at the two "safe

The KRC and Thai authorities yesterday met at Sho Klo camp and agreed that
the refugees who refused to move into the two camps will be arrested,
starting from next month.

At the same time, NGOs have declared they will not provide any assistance
to the refugees outside the two camps.

Those arrested will be given two choice - to go into the camps or to be
sent back to Burma. If they did not select either option, they will face
legal action for illegal entry which mean both a jail term and a fine.

KRC vice-chairman Valles said the KRC will today again warn the refugees
outside Mae Hla and Sho Klo camps to make a decision. Those who want to
enter the camps will be provided with transportation, he said.

Mr Valles said some of these refugees want to return home because they fear
being attacked again by the DKBA if they remain in Thailand. (BP)

7 August 1995, The Nation

THE convenor of a NGO forum on women to be held in Beijing said yesterday
she would go to Burma to discuss how newly-released democracy leader Suu
Kyi might contribute to the meeting.

Supatra Masdit, convenor of the NGO Forum on Women, said Suu Kyi had
declined an invitation to attend the meeting but said they would meet in
Rangoon tomorrow to discuss how Suu Kyi might send an address to the
gathering. (TN)


7 August 1995, The Nation

RATHER than ending the debate with the widely-reviled junta in Burma, the
surprise July 10 release of opposition leader Suu Kyi has only intensified

>From Asean which advocates reform by a kind of osmosis, to Washington where
US congressmen want to impose stringent economic sanctions, Suu Kyi's
release was taken as vindication for a wide number of approaches being
pursued to reform the Rangoon government. Further, it provide the impetus
for the leading international players in Burma to intensify their divergent
and often conflicting effort to bring prosperity and democracy to the
military-controlled state.

Australia and European Union said they would re-evaluate their goals push
ahead with their "critical dialogue" with Rangoon; Tokyo dropped broad
hints that the release was a victory for its "quite diplomacy" and talked
of more aid and investment guarantees.

Asean hailed Suu Kyi's release as proof of the efficacy of "constructive
engagement" and warmly embraced Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw at last week's
annual meeting in Brunei. Burma was allowed to accede to the Treaty of
Amity and Cooperation, a primary step for membership, and Asean elders
painted grand visions of a prosperous 10-state Asean that included the
international pariah. Back in Washington, congressmen were drawing up new
deadlines for more punitive action to take against Burma unless Rangoon
releases political prisoners and implements democratic reforms.

About the only country that had nothing to say was China, which is
obviously quite content with the current leading role it has in Burma's

Rangoon's intentions
What the generals in Rangoon themselves are planning to do remains
something of a mystery. They have yet to give any indication that they are
preparing to follow up Suu Kyi's release with meaningful political changes
or lighten their heavy-handedrule.

Instead, they are showing more of the same contempt for reconciliation that
has marked there seven-year regime. Suu Kyi and her family again being
maligned in the state-controlled press and her appeals for dialogue
ignored. Ohn Gyaw reiterated in Brunei that a new constitution from the
ruling Slorc would exclude Suu Kyi for the fatuous reason that she is
married to a foreigner.

Encouraging stands
Against this dim background it is encouraging to see the Thai Foreign
Ministry taking a more aggressive and demanding position in relation to its
ties with Burma. The visit last week by Thai ambassador to Burma Posak to
Suu Kyi was the first by an envoy from an Asean country and risked raising
the ire of the Slorc.
But it was important for two reasons. Firstly, it served as a reminder to
Slorc, and to Thailand's Asean partners, that constructive engagement is
a give and take situation. The diplomatic recognition Slorc so desperately
wants and which it has been awarded by Asean is not being granted without
conditions - namely that it work toward a more open, democratic society.

Secondly, it was a prudent move on the part of Thailand to open up a
high-level contact with Suu Kyi who is destined to play a major role in
Burma's future despite the efforts of the Slorc.

In an interview with Thai television last week, Suu Kyi was highly
skeptical of Asean's constructive engagement approach, implying that so far
the only people to benefit had been businessmen and the government.

She also noted that her release means nothing if it does not lead to an
easing of the repression and terror that are part of life in Burma and the
eventual return of democracy.

The first law of international relationships id the establishment of mutual
respect. But respect has been sorely missing from the Thai-Burmese
relations and much of the blame must rest with Thailand.

Since the Slorc came to power in 1988 after killing thousands of
pro-democracy protestors, Thailand has displayed an embarrassing eagerness
to exploit Burma commercially ana a lamentable lack of interest in seeing
the country develop democratically.

Within months of the Rangoon massacres, then army-chief Gen Chavalit led
the first the first official foreign delegation to ]Burma to sign up
logging and fishing deals. On his return, hundreds of student dissidents
were forcibly repatriated to Burma.

Seven years later, Chavalit id talking of going back to Rangoon in a bid
to improve the current strained relations between the two countries. But
Chavalit's clubby, officer-to officer, business-first type of diplomacy is
outdated and will do little to improve long-term relations.

Real hope lies with the Foreign Ministry, which is taking moves to wrest
control for foreign policy away from the military and intelligence
services, a move which will hopefully lead to the forging of a sustainable
relationship built on the principle of mutual respect for the people's of
each country.

It may not happen soon, but it is the only hope for he future. (TN)