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BurmaNet news 16th Aug 1995
Thailand to offer condolences over Burmese deaths
THE Foreign Ministry is expected to send "a letter of condolence"
to Rangoon in the wake of last week's alleged murder of Burmese
fishermen aboard a Thai vessel, an incident which has seriously
strained bilateral ties, a government source said yesterday.
The Bangkok-based Burmese ambassador will be informed of
Thailand's sincere desire to resolve the incident when the envoy
pays a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Kaesium S Kasemsri in
the near future, the source said.
"The letter could be signed by the foreign minister or Prime
Minister Banharn Silapa-archa himself," he said.
According to the Supreme Command's Information Division, two
Thais identified as Kamsai Kaenkaew and Porn, whose surname was
not given, were arrested in connection with the murders.
Yesterday the bodies of two more Burmese fishermen were swept
ashore on son island near Kawthong, bringing the total number of
dead to four. Their wrists and ankles were tied with rope and
their bodies were covered with bruises and cuts.
A Burmese survivor of the incident, speaking to Thai authorities
in Ranong yesterday, recounted that on August 6 he was aboard one
of three fishing vessels owned by the Myanmar-Narong Canning
Company when they were informed that the Burmese government had
revoked the firm's fishing license.
The MNC is a joint venture between the Narong Canning Company and
the Burmese Fisheries Department.
"There were at that time 28 Burmese on the vessel I boarded,
including those who were simply Burmese villagers who asked for a
ride. Thais using knives and iron bars circled us and forced us
to lie down," the Burmese man, whose name was not revealed, said.
After the Thais tied the wrists and ankles of the Burmese, they
were beaten with the iron bars around the knees and some of them
were stabbed, the Burmese man said, adding that they were then
thrown into the sea.
The Burmese survivor alerted the authorities in Kawthong of the
murder after managing to swim back to the shore also known as
Victoria Point. As of yesterday, 13 Burmese fishermen who had
escaped after the incident and 11 others remained missing.
Earlier, the bodies of two Burmese crewmen were swept ashore near
Thrahtay Island south of Rangoon in Kawthong. Initial reports had
it that a group of Thais killed the Burmese because they had
alerted the Burmese authorities to illegal activities being
carried out by the Thai fishing company.
Rangoon consequently scrapped a joint venture deal with the MNC
after the allegations were proven.
Other Thai-Burmese fishing firms have also been affected by the
incident as Burma ordered them to report immediately to the
authorities. Yesterday more than 600 fishing vessels and ferry
boats were seen anchored in Ranong port.
Meanwhile, an official in Ranong claimed 5,000 armed Burmese
troops have been deployed in the area to prevent Thai vessels
from entering Burmese waters.
A team set up to probe the murders will visit Ranong province
today and, if approved by Rangoon, will travel to Kawthong in
Burma to gather information on the case, an Interior Ministry
Deputy Interior Minister Suchart Tancharoen will also accompany
Rangoon's order to bar Thai vessels from entering its waters and
close the Kawthong-Ranong temporary checkpoint has completely
sealed the Thai-Burmese border after the earlier closure of
checkpoints in Tak and Chiang Rai provinces.
The source said to ensure the Burmese government of the degree of
seriousness and sincerity Thailand has attached to the case,
Banharn is expected to handle the matter personally.
Meanwhile, Narong Piboonthanapatna, president of Narong Canning,
yesterday said the vessels involved in the murders off Kawthong
have been fishing under his company's license but it was not
involved in the incident.
"We were in operation for only about a month before the murders
took place. The company submitted a letter to the Fisheries
Department of Burma, detailing what happened. It seemed to us
that the Burmese have a greater understanding of the issue,"
Although Narong Cannijng was not involved in the murders, it has
informed the Burmese government it is ready to assist the
relatives of the victims, he said.
Earlier, the Rangoon government ordered the closure of two
temporary checkpoints, one in Chiang Rai linked to Burma's
Tachilek and one in Tak's Mae Sot district linked to Myawaddy in
Burma. The closures stemmed from Rangoon's suspicions that
Thailand harboured Burmese ethnic minorities, including troops of
drug warlord Khun Sa.
The Burmese government failed to react to leaflets which have
been distributed in its border provinces urging the Burmese
people to boycott Thai products and buy exports from other
Meanwhile, Ranong Chamber of Commerce president Somchai lamjit
said more Thais were expected to be arrested in the case.
According to Somchai, Burma has demanded that the Thai fishing
company pay compensation for the incident and the Thai government
take the incident seriously.
Malaria cases linked to Burma
THE Public Health Ministry plans to hold talks with Burmese
officials on methods of curbing the spread of malaria along the
Deputy Minister Sora-at Klinpratum said 60 per cent of people
suffering from malaria in Thailand were illegal immigrant
workers, most of whom were Burmese and Cambodians living near
Thailand's western and eastern borders.
"It is very difficult to eliminate malaria from Thailand,
especially from those border provinces where there are a lot of
immigrant workers and political refugees," he said.
Sora-at named Tak, Kanchanaburi, Mae Hong Son, Chantaburi,
Prachuab Kiri Khan, Ratchaburi, Ranong and Ubon Ratchathani as
the provinces suffering from the most rapid spread of malaria in
"Therefore, we have to move in the same direction with our
neighbours to solve the problem. Otherwise, we would still have
to bear the burden of the treatment costs of those workers," he
But the deputy minister did not set a time frame for the talks,
saying the date of the meeting was still unknown due to political
uncertainties in Burma.
He also did not mention any dates for talks with Cambodian
The Department of Epidemics reported there were 51,606 malaria
patients in the country last year.
Among them, 33,336, or 60 percent, were immigrant workers. The
record showed that about 400,000 immigrants receive health
treatment in Thailand annually.
UN envoy meets Suu Kyi and Burma foreign minister
RANGOON- United Nations deputy secretary-general Alvaro de Soto
met Burma's foreign minister and recently-released opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, official media and
De Soto, on a week-long visit to Burma, was expected to raise
questions of restoration of democracy in the southeast Asian
nation, following Suu Kyi's release from house arrest last month.
Burma's state-television, reporting De Soto's meeting with
foreign minister Ohn Gyaw, gave no details of the talks.
De Soto was seen entering the house of Nobel Peace prize winner
Suu kyi. He stayed for more than two hours but made no comments
to reporters as he left the compound.
Suu Kyi was unexpectedly released from nearly six years of house
arrest by the military government last month. She says she aims
to restore democracy in Burma.
De Soto, who on a previous visit was refused permission to see
Suu Kyi, was expected to meet powerful military intelligence
chief Khin Nyunt later this week, government officials said.
Although Suu Kyi has appealed for talks with military leaders, no
date has yet been set for formal talks to begin.
She said at a recent news conference she had contact with the
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), but would
give no further details.
Slorc officials have made no comment on Suu Kyi's release and
have given no indication when or if talks might begin.
Kyodo adds: Alvero de Soto, who arrived in Rangoon on Sunday to
deliver a message from Boutros-Ghali, met Immigration and
Population Minister Lt Gen Maung Hla and Foreign Minister Ohn
Gyaw on Monday.
The visit is one of several such attempts by foreign authorities
to put pressure on the leaders of the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc) to agree to talks with Aung San Suu
Ranong traders urge improved Burma ties concerns for future of
area's fishing industry
The Nation/ Business/16.8.95
THE Thai Chamber of Commerce yesterday urged the government to
improve its relationship with Burma before the situation
The recent closing of the Ranong Victoria Point border crossing
is likely to limit trade between the two countries and affect the
Thai fishery in Ranong, said Somkiart Sathajit, chairman of
Ranong Border Trade Group.
In the past, the value of Thai exports to Burma through Ranong
were valued at Bt5 billion, while imported fish from Burma was
worth Bt20 billion. "But this two way-trade vanished overnight,"
Speaking at a roundtable talk on the "Future of the Thai Fishery
Industry under the new Government," Photipong Lamsam, president
of Thai Chamber of Commerce said: "The essence of the problem is
unfriendly relations between the countries."
The border closing was prompted by this fundamental factor, which
is out of the hands of the private sector, Photipong said.
Photipong added that he will discuss the issue with the Foreign
Minister next week.
Burma closed the 10, because of allegations that Burmese
employees were killed by NCC Asia Fishery Industries Co Ltd.
Photipong also expressed concerned about the morality of Thai
trawling companies which often breach contracts with host
"We the Thai Chamber of Commerce, cannot impose a penalty on
anyone but we want all Thai investors to follow proper business
etiquette," he said.
Photipong led the Thai mission to Burma in February, in which he
assured the Burmese that the Thai Chamber of Commerce supported
only Thai operators which act in a fair business manner toward
The situation at Ranong has alarmed Thai investors. They fear
Burma may stop granting fishing licences to Thai trawlers.
Somkiart said there are 4-5 Thai trawlers hoping to receive
licences by next week. The Thai trawling companies have already
invested in a refrigerated storage facility and property in Marid
Ranong depends on the fishery and related industries and will
suffer the most from the border closing, he said.
Tourists, who used to spend about Bt1 million per day, also went
away, he added.
Many Thai trawlers are engaging in joint fishing ventures with
Burma, Indonesia, India and Vietnam because of depleted fish
stocks in Thai waters.
Udon chiterapunbul, president of the Thai overseas fisheries
Association has urged the government to create a fund to help the
trawling companies build a modern fishing fleet.
He said that Thai ships are too small and constructed of wood,
which makes it very difficult to catch fish in foreign waters.
Trawling companies need larger, steel ships but cannot build them
without financial support from the government, said Udon.
Burma's own version of
fisherman's murder story
In the wake of growing concern over the murder of a Burmese
crewman on a fishing boat, the Burmese Embassy yesterday issued a
press release to give its version of what it claimed was the real
Official agencies including the Interior Ministry have come up
with conflicting accounts of the incident. The Burmese Embassy
said it hoped the content of the press release would give readers
a clearer idea of what had really taken place.
According to the embassy on July 29, the fishing vessel JV 44
owned by Thailand's Myanmar Narong Company entered Mergui to
undergo an inspection with 24 crew members seven Thais and 17
Burmese. Unable to tolerate ill-treatment from the Thai members
of the crew, 16 Burmese seamen decided to stay behind in Mergui.
Thee press release said the Burmese fishermen told Burmese
authorities the Thai fishing vessel had breached a fishing
agreement by catching marine animals, which was not permitted. On
August 5, the 16 Burmese crewmen travelled on board the vessel JV
47, also owned by the Myanmar Narong Co, from Mergui to
The JV 44 and 10 other boats later arrived at Kawthaung and
surrounded the JV 47. It was then that a Burmese police officer
boarded the JV 44 and the JV 47 to take away 10 Burmese nationals
for interrogation, apparently due to the complaint on violation
of the fishing agreement.
There were a total of 28 Burmese seamen on both the JV 44 and the
JV 47, according to the press release. After the 10 fishermen had
left the vessels with the police officer the Thai crew allegedly
began assaulting the remaining 18 Burmese seamen, forcing them to
Vessel JV 44 then chased the Burmese seamen and caught five of
them. The Thai fishermen then tied their hands and feet with
ropes and began beating them.
The five Burmese crewmen were later thrown back into the sea. One
of the crewmen, identified as Sein Aye Kyaw, managed to free
himself from the ropes and swam to shore where he met one of the
seamen who had jumped overboard.
The two reported the incident to Kawthaung police. The vessels,
JV 44 and JV 47, reportedly returned to Ranong from Kawthaung
port on August 6.
Following an intense search around Kawthaung and Tathay Kyun, two
bodies, believed to be those of the ill-fated Burmese crewmen,
were discovered. Each body was bound with ropes.
Burmese authorities have requested that their Thai counterparts
order a prompt investigation into the incident and take swift
action against the guilty parties. The Burmese Government warned
that mutual economic interests of Thailand and Burma would he
affected if uncertainty surrounding the case was not cleared up.
In the latest development, Ranong police apprehended two Thai
crewmen on suspicion they had colluded with fellow fishermen to
carry out the murder. The police named the suspects as Kamsai
Kankaew and Pon (surname not given).
Foreign Minister Kasem S. Kasemsri told reporters the Burmese
Embassy has forwarded a memorandum of understanding to the
ministry to officially confirm its request for an investigation
into the murder. Efforts must ensure that justice is done to
preserve the interests of both countries and prevent the problem
from worsening, he added.
The Government is worried as the problem is likely to have
adverse effects on various economic interests apart from the
fishing industry. The murder case has put extra pressure on Thai
authorities who are attempting to solve a number of existing
problems with Burma.
The Burmese Government has temporarily closed a border pass in
Ranong in what many see as a protest against Thailand over the
There have been conflicting reports oh the number of Burmese
crewmen killed. Thai authorities and their Burmese counterparts
have released different accounts concerning the murder case. g
The matter could take a turn for the worse if there is strong
evidence to confirm the report which claims many Burmese
fishermen were murdered. Appropriate measures must be up to
prevent a recurrence such incidents.
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh expressed concern over the
temporary closure of the border pass in Ranong, saying the
intensifying conflict between the two Countries had become more
He said representatives from the armed forces have been appointed
to the fact-finding committee set up with Interior Ministry
approval to probe the incident. The fact that his ministry is
looking to form its own committee to probe the was should confirm
the Government should be sincere with it, said Gen Chavalit.
Vice Adm Kraichit Sirisombat, director of the Information Office
attached to Supreme Command, Headquarters, said Gen Chavalit has
paid special attention to the murder case and has instructed the
Army to set up a committee to investigate it. Legal experts from
the Army and representatives from the ministry will sit on the
Supreme Command Headquarters, which oversees the committee
implementing Thai-Burma border policies, will closely monitor the
investigation and report any progress to, Burmese authorities,
said Vice Adm Kraichit.
Deputy Interior Minister Suchart Tancharoen said he would go to
Ranong today to attend a meeting of senior ministry officials on
Thai-Burma border policy.
A ministry source said I Prime Minister Banharn Silpaarcha has
assigned Mr Suchart to attend the meeting in the hope of finding
ways to lessen growing hostility over the border situation.
The committee members are expected to remain in Ranong for the
duration of the investigation and may begin work today.
Typed by the Research Department of the ABSDF(MTZ) 16/8/95