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Wired News on August 16 & 17, 1995

Attn: Burma Newsreaders
Re: Wired News on August 16 & 17, 1995

Thailand to apologise to Burma for fishing attack

     BANGKOK, Aug 17 (Reuter) - Thailand plans to apologise to Burma over an
attack by Thai fishermen on Burmese crew in which Burmese were tied up,
beaten and thrown overboard. 

    At least two died and 24 were missing, according to a Burmese state-run

    A government official said on Thursday that Prime Minister Banharn
Silpa-archa will send a letter of apology to the Burmese government with
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who visits Rangoon early next month. 

    According to Burmese authorities, Thai fishermen attacked their Burmese
crewmen after Rangoon revoked licences to fish in Burmese waters on August 3.

    The Thai boats had been using illegal nets and smuggling their catches
back to Thailand, the Burmese embassy in Bangkok said. 

    The Thais blamed the Burmese crewmen for tipping off Burmese authorites
about the illegal fishing which led to the cancellation of the licence. 

    Burma said some fishermen were beaten and thrown overboard while others
had jumped overboard to escape. 

    A Burmese rescue team had recovered two bodies, their hands tied behind
their backs, and was searching for 24 other crewmen listed as missing, the
state-run Burmese newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, reported on Saturday. 

    Banharn told reporters he ordered authorities in the southern Thai
province of Ranong to investigate the incident and had also ordered increased
Thai patrols in Thai waters in the area to prevent any further incidents. 

    Banharn said those responsible for the violence would be brought to
justice soon. 

    Many of Thai fishing boats operating out of ports on southern Thailand's
Andaman Sea coast employ crewmen from nearby Burma. 

    Authorities in southern Burma closed the border checkpoint with
Thailand's Ranong province after the attack. It was the last official border
crossing point still open. 

    The attack on the crewmen was the latest in a series of incidents which
have strained relations between the two countries since the beginning of the

    Burmese authorites had earlier closed the two other main border
checkpoints in the northeastern town of Tachilek and the southeastern town of
Myawadi following various disagreements with Thailand. 

Reut23:28 08-16-95

Burma's Khun Sa reshuffles posts as attack looms

      By Sutin Wannabovorn 

    BANGKOK, Aug 17 (Reuter) - Burma's embattled opium warlord Khun Sa has
reshuffled his leadership in an attempt to patch up an internal rift as he
prepares to face a coordinated assault from his main opium growing rivals and
Burmese government forces, guerrilla sources said on Thursday. 

    Sources in Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army (MTA) and its political wing said the
opium warlord had introduced a ``collective leadership'' in his rebel group. 

    ``The organisation has been changed from one-man absolute power to
collective leadership with the formation of an administrative council,'' said
Khwan Mong, a veteran Shan nationalist appointed secretary-general of the new
council at a weekend meeting. 

    Others appointed to top posts in the newly-formed 11-member Shan State
Administrative Council (SSAC) were Kan Chit, also a veteran Shan nationalist
who was made chairman and Zam Mai, another respected veteran appointed first
vice chairman. 

    Khun Sa's long-time right-hand man, Chang Shu-chuan, a former Chinese
nationalist soldier who is also known by the Shan name Sao Hpalang, was made
a second vice chairman of the new council, behind the Shan nationalists, in
an apparent move to defuse growing Shan resentment of Chinese influence in
the MTA. 

    But one Shan political source dismissed the changes as cosmetic, designed
to placate frustrated young Shan nationalists. 

    ``Khun Sa will never give up power. Appointing that committee means
nothing at all, he only did it to save his skin, to please some young Shan,''
the former guerrilla commander now exiled in Thailand told Reuters. 

    The changes follow the breakaway of several thousand MTA guerrillas who
mutined against Khun Sa in frustration with what they saw as his
preoccupation with the drugs trade and neglect of the Shan nationalist
movement, guerrilla sources said. 

    But Khwan Mong denied the new leadership structure had anything to do
with last month's mutiny. 

    ``The change has happened because we think it is the time to change. It's
nothing to do with the breakaway group,'' Khwan Mong told Reuters. 

    An MTA source said Shan guerrillas were continuing to defect from Khun
Sa's army and the total number had increased to more than 3,000. 

    ``These young people who have strong will to fight for the independence
of Shan state have realised that Khun Sa does not do as he promises,'' a
senior MTA source told Reuters. 

    Khun Sa says his MTA has a total strenth of 25,000. Shan sources put his
number of well-armed fighters at more than 10,000. 

    His internal difficulties came as Burmese forces and Khun Sa's main opium
trade rivals from the Wa ethnic minority guerrilla army were preparing to
launch an offensive against Khun Sa's main base areas in southern Shan state.

    After years of neglecting the opium warlord, Burmese government troops
attacked Khun Sa's strongholds in late 1993 and intermittent fighting, at
times heavy, has continued. 

    Khwan Mong said thousands of Wa guerrillas had joined Burmese government
troops preparing to attack Khun Sa. 

    Wa fighters, also seeking their own state within a federal Burma, have
clashed regularly with Khun Sa's forces in recent years over opium smuggling

Reut02:09 08-17-95

Karen rebels meet Rangoon team to explore peace

      MAESOT, Thailand, Aug 16 (Reuter) - Representatives of Burma's military
rulers met Karen guerrilla leader General Bo Mya to prepare for talks to end
one of the world's longest-running guerrilla wars, Karen sources said on

    A three-member delegation from the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC) met Karen National Union (KNU) president Bo Mya and others
Karen leaders on the Thai-Burmese border for an hour on Sunday, KNU sources

    ``General Bo Mya urged the SLORC to withdraw its troops from Karen areas
to pave the way for a peace initiative,'' a senior Karen official told

    The SLORC representatives from Rangoon were identified as U Khun Myint a
former member of parliament rom Karen state, Tun Aung Chain and Aye Soe

    The KNU has been battling for greater autonomy since 1949, a year after
Burma gained independence from Britain. 

    The Sunday meeting signalled a resumption of tentative moves towards
peace talks which ground to a halt late last year when the Burmese army
launched a major offensive against the KNU, capturing a large area of
guerrila territory in southeastern Burma including its headquarters. 

    The KNU had said earlier any talks should cover their political demands
and not just a ceasefire as the SLORC insisted. 

    The KNU official said the meeting was a positive step and more talks
would be held, but declined to elaborate. 

    A dissident Burmese student leader allied to the KNU, who witnessed the
meeting, said he was pesimistic about the chances of reconciliation. 

    ``I think the SLORC will only talk about a ceasefire, the same as they
did with others ethnic minority guerrilla groups. They never allow discussion
of a political settlement,'' Naing Aung, leader of All Burma Students'
Democratic Front (ABSDF) told Reuters. 

    The KNU and the Shan State National Congress of opium warlord Khun Sa are
the two major rebels factions still fighting the Rangoon government. Fifteen
other ethnic minority guerrilla groups have signed ceasefires since 1989. 

Reut02:31 08-16-95

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