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BurmaNet News: August 23, 1995

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The BurmaNet News:August 23, 1995


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===== item =====

23 AUGUST 1995, Bangkok Post
By Subin Kheunkaew

Opium warlord Khun Sa has announced he would give up the narcotics trade and
his leadership in the rebel army in return for being allowed peaceful

He said he would quit all important positions in the Mong Tai Army (MTA) and
was willing to give his full consent to world organisations to manage areas
currently under his army's domain without condition except that he be allowed
to lead a peaceful life after "retirement".

The MTA leader told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview that he wanted
to retire and step down as head of the MTA for a number of reasons.

He made it clear he was prepared to order his military personnel to put their
guns down to allow a UN development organisation or the European Union to
develop MTA controlled areas in Shan State.

"I hereby declare our willingness to drop our weapons and hand over the area
we now control to one of the international organisations, either the UN or EU.

"I trust the organisations' capability in resolving problems in Shan State,"
said the 62 year-old Khun Sa through an interpreter.

He decided against asking for help from Asean countries, citing their high
investment interests and political ties with the Rangoon regime as the reason.
The MTA chief harboured doubts whether Asean would be sincere in assisting the
development plan.

The proposal to unconditionally cease all military activities would benefit
people in the MTA domain and the military personnel, said Khun Sa adding that
international organisations have what people of Shan State lack_ the ability
to improve the quality of life and tackle problems regarding basic human

"We are ready to cooperate [with international organisations] in upgrading the
quality of life for the people. I believe if the people can be assured of
their safety, the worldwide attempt to end the spread of illicit drugs would
be a great success. Widespread poppy plantations [in Shan State] would soon be
wiped out," said Khun Sa.

"We need sincere and devoted people. If they are able to show their true
commitment to contribute to the improvement of people's lives, who knows,
maybe they will receive the Nobel Peace Prize?" he said.

For many decades, Khun Sa, or Chang Si Fu, has gained worldwide notoriety as
an opium warlord responsible for producing and distributing a vast amount of
heroin to many countries.

But the drug warlord title is not welcomed by Khun Sa, who has been trying to
shrug off the tag all these years.

Khun Sa conceded his many attempts to clarify his position in the drug trade
with international organisations including the UN and the EU have been to no
avail. The organisations, he said, have paid little attention to the drug

"The organisations never give us a chance to explain ourselves. Instead, they
accuse us of producing and being involved in the illicit drug trade. I'm
beginning to believe the drug issue has been turned into a political ploy,"
said Khun Sa.

The deployment of drug suppression drives in the past was proven ineffective
due to the lack of understanding on the steps required in manufacturing and
trading the drug.

The complexity of political problems in Burma also stood in the way of drug
suppression operations, he said.

The drug warlord was confident of transforming his controlled area into a
narcotic free zone, but could not give his personal assurance he could not
give his personal assurance he could do the same for the whole of Shan State.

Khun Sa has flatly refused to hold talks with the Burmese Government over the
drug problem, saying the Shan State's ongoing struggle to free itself from
Burma's rule has made any negotiations impossible.

I don't want to talk with Burma [government] because it never takes the drug
problem seriously. Burma still insists Shan State is part of its territory.
There is no way we will agree to that," said Khun Sa.

To permanently end the drug problem in Burma, cooperation from him and the
now-defunct Revolutionary Council leader Gen Ne Win must hand democracy back
to the people and allow him [Khun Sa] to live a peaceful life after his

This way the drug problem would be eradicated once and for all, Khun Sa added.
According to a source at the MTA, Khun Sa has begun to feel mounting pressure
from within the force, following the pullout of about 500 military personnel
loyal to Lt Kanyod, an influential figure in the MTA.

The rebel army was reportedly dissatisfied with Khun Sa, accusing him of being
unfair in promoting only his loyal followers.

Angry with the favouritism, the breakaway troops led by Lt Kanyod later
withdrew from the MTA and headed to the north of Shan State.

In a bid to remedy the rift in the army, most felt there should be a major
shakeup of MTA high-level administrators and Khun Sa may be the first to go,
according to the source.

A group of key MTA administrators and Shan State National Congress President
Kan Chet have appointed a 10-member committee to take over the MTA.

Kan Chet is tipped to succeed Khun Sa. Committee Secretary-General Khwan Mong
said Khun Sa's name was excluded from the list of committee members. "The
majority [of MTA personnel] think he deserves to rest now," he said. (BP)

23 AUGUST 1995, Bangkok Post

A Thai fact-finding committee will go to Burma next week to interrogate
Burmese seamen as part of its investigation into the murder of four Burmese
seamen allegedly killed by Thai fishermen.

A group of at least 11 Thai fishermen allegedly killed four Burmese workers on
board a vessel owned by the Narong Canning Company early this month. The
incident prompted Burmese authorities to suspend traffic between Ranong
Province and Victoria Point.

The Interior Ministry set up the fact-finding committee to probe the murder.
The committee is chaired by ministry deputy permanent secretary Damri

Mr Damri said yesterday that the committee will go to Victoria Point next week
to question Burmese seamen involved in the incident.

Up to this point, the fact-finding committee is of the opinion that only two
Burmese were killed as there is no evidence to prove that the others still
missing are dead, he said.

Thai police have arrested two of 11 Thai suspects and the captain of the
vessel, the JV 44, is among the nine suspects still at large.

The Local Administration Department has been asked to provide information on
residences of the suspects. They will be prosecuted by Thai authorities as the
incident occurred on a Thai boat. (BP)

23 August 1995, The Nation

DEMOCRATIC MP Supatra masdit yesterday failed to videotape an address by
Burmese opposition leader Suu Kyi, which was to be played to the Bejing non-
governmental forum on women, after the Burmese Embassy continued to stall on
issuing her an entry visa.

Khunying Supatra, a convenor of the Bejing conference, told the The Nation
yesterday she had been informed by the embassy on Friday that her visa
application would need approval from Rangoon. Until yesterday, she had not
received any response from the Burmese mission.

Supatra travelled to Rangoon on August 7 and met Suu Kyi the next day when she
extend an invitation to the Burmese pro-democracy leader to attend the Bejing
women's gathering.

Since Suu Kyi has declined all invitations to travel abroad, she agreed to
send a videotaped message to the conference.

Supatra sough a Burmese visa to personally videotape Suu Kyi's 20 minute
speech to be broadcast during the Aug 30- Sep 8 meeting of private women's
groups that will take place simultaneously with the United Nations Fourth
International Conference on Women.

A Kyodo report from Rangoon yesterday quoted local diplomatic sources as
saying Burmese authorities had refused to grant Supatra visa.

A Foreign Ministry official in Rangoon said: "Miss Supatra Masdit arrived in
Rangoon by Burma Airways on Aug 7. On her arrival card, she gave her
occupation as a businesswomen and her guarantor in Rangoon as the United
Nations Development Programme. That is the only record we have.
"I do not know about the current refusal of a visa in Bangkok. All Burmese
mission abroad are authorized to use their discretion in issuing visas," said
the official who asked to remain anonymous.

A team of Nation reporters and a video cameramen who were to accompany Supatra
on the mission were rejected visas last Friday.

Another Nation reporter was also dropped from the list of Tai reporters who
are to accompany Defence Minister Gen Chavalit during his official two-day
visit to Burma between Sep 1-2.

A Defence Ministry officer, who organized Chavalit's Burmese trip, quoted the
BUrmese Embassy as requesting the dropping of any Nation reporters from the
Thai-language newspaper Krungthep Thurakij, the sister paper of Nation, was
also dropped from the entourage.

A Thai political analyst suspected the Burmese refusal to let Supatra in the
country stemmed from fears that Suu Kyi's video-taped speech would give her
the first public exposure to a big international gathering since her release
on July 10 from nearly six years of house arrest.

The conference is expected to attract some 40,000 participants.

Suu Kyi's speech on women's role in politic is considered a "political
message" which the Slorc may find too sensitive, said the analyst who
requested not to be named. (TN)



August 23 1995, The Nation

FRESH Burmese government troops are advancing into the mountains of eastern
Kayah state to try to crush once and for all a small but stubborn force of
ethnic rebels who have been fighting for independence for generations, rebel
sources said yesterday.

Karenni guerrillas, while ceasefire with the government collapsed in June,
said about 50000 Burmese reinforcements were on their way towards their remote
region up against the border with Thailand in an attempt to finish them off.

"They want to eliminate us completely r make us surrender," an official from
the rebel KNPP said.

"We must try to protest ourselves. We're willing to make a ceasefire but we
can't just surrender, just lay down our arms," said the official by telephone
from the Thai- Burmese border.

"We will not give up but the situation is getting worse and worse every day,"
the rebel official said.

A Thai security source monitoring developments along the frontier said clashes
between the several thousand strong band of rag-tag were increasing.

"The fighting has intensified, more than expected," said the source, who
declined to be identified.

"They don't have any permanent fixe positions. they're running around, playing
for time, refusing to surrender. (TN)