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BurmaNet News: October 19, 1995 #25

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Subject: BurmaNet News: October 19, 1995 #255

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The BurmaNet News: October 19, 1995
Issue #255

Noted in Passing:
I think the dialogue is not terminated now. It is still waiting for another 
opportunity to come up. - Yozo Yokota, the UN rapporteur on human 
rights in Burma. (quoted in: BKK POST: UN OFFICIAL EXPECTS 


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October 19, 1995 By Bertil Lintner in Chiang Mai

Drug lord Khun Sa's troubles are mounting
It's as regular as rain.  Each year, with the advent of the dry
season, Khun Sa's demise is predicted.  Then a few months later, 
the Burmese army's counter - insurgency drive grinds to a muddy 
halt amid reports that the Sino - Shan opium warlord is down but 
not out. And then the Golden Triangle gets back to business for 
another year.

This time, however, Khun Sa's survival won't be a matter of
course.  Burma's military rulers have ordered a massive troop
build - up next to his territory, after first isolating it by striking
a series of ceasefire deals with other ethnic rebel groups.  Khun
Sa's supply lines from Thailand are also at risk, with Bangkok
pledging last month to cut them off.  In addition, his movement
has been weakened by ethnic tensions, expressed in the recent
mutiny of a top lieutenant.

Military intelligence sources say elements of 20 government
battalions have entered the area between the Salween River
and the Thai border since the beginning of June.  These units
could total nearly 10,000 troops when fully deployed.  They
have already set up firebases on the southern flank of the
territory controlled by Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army, or MTA. 
The deployment was made possible by a March ceasefire 
agreement between Rangoon and ethnic Karenni rebels, 
who control the deployment area.

With an additional 2,000 government troops concentrated
north of Doi Lang, another MTA stronghold,  most observers
of the situation in the Golden Triangle expect major military
action, maybe even before the rains end in November. 

The Burmese army will face an MTA that has been
economically weakened by a nearly two - year government
blockade of Salween River ferry crossings north of Khun Sa's
base area of Homong. The blockade has pinched supplies of 
the MTA's lifeblood: opium from the fields of northern Burma,
which it refines into exportable heroin in labs near the Thai
border. Now, Thai officials say, those labs are cranking out
amphetamines or heroin mixed with amphetamines.  
"The MTA's been strapped for cash for more than a year," says
a narcotics official in northern Thailand. "They're switching to
amphetamines, but they mix it because it's of poor quality, as
it's getting harder and more expensive for the MTA to hire
good chemists.  The area has become a war zone."

Khun Sa's most important remaining supply routes, through
Thailand, now may also be at risk.  Though Thailand has been
protesting for years that it can't seal off its long and porous
border with Burma, Thai Defence Minister Chavalit
Yongchayudh led a military delegation to Rangoon in
September and promised to try to do just that.  

Burma has kept the main Tachilek - Mae Sai border crossing
shut since March, when it accused the Thais of letting the
MTA attack Tachilek from Thai territory.  Chavalit, with a
view to reopening the border and normalizing the lucrative
trade between the two countries, promised to cut the MTA's
supply lines from Thailand.  

The MTA's problems aren't all external.  Tensions between
the circle of ethnic Chinese businessmen who control the
MTA's economy and its more nationalist Shan rank - and - file
erupted into open mutiny a few months ago.  Led by veteran
fighter Bo Dewing, a Shan who was once the MTA's nominal
commander, and Kan Yawt, a young former member of a Shan
State literary movement, the mutineers are said to number
between 1,000 and 6.000 men -- depending on the source's
bias for or against Khun Sa.

The breakaway group, which calls itself the Shan State
National Army, declared that it was opposed to "Chinese
businessmen using the Shan national cause to conceal their
involvement in the drug trade."  This was an obvious reference
to Khun Sa himself, who is half - Shan and half - Chinese, as
well as to his Manchurian - born chief of staff, Chang Shu -

The mutineers also criticized the MTA for summarily
executing villagers and recruiting very young boys into the
force's ranks.  They further accused Khun Sa -- whom they
referred to by his Chinese name, Chang Chifu --  of having
ordered the assassination of many Shan national leaders. 
While sources close to Khun Sa may be right in claiming that
Burmese military intelligence had a hand in the split, many
Shans concede that the underlying grievances are real.

These developments augur poorly for Khun Sa, but they don't
necessarily mean the drug trade will suffer.  Other ethnic
armies stand ready to take the warlord's place -- armies that
don't have Rangoon to worry about.

Since June, nearly 3,000 Wa, Akha, Kachin, Lahu and
Palaung troops -- mostly forces of the former Communist Party
of Burma, which made peace with Rangoon in 1989 -- have
agreed to join the Burmese army's campaign against the MTA. 
A fierce battle took place near Doi Lang on September 19.

The alliance between the Burmese army and these forces,
which are Khun Sa's rivals for control over the trade, has
raised questions about Rangoon's intentions.  "There are now
more heroin refineries in the former CPB area than under
Khun Sa's control," says the Thai narcotics official.  "Most of
their business is being conducted through China, but if they
manage to snatch Doi Lang from Khun Sa, they'll have a
secure route down to Thailand as well." 

So the Golden Triangle may indeed get back to business after
the dry season, even without Khun Sa.  As the narcotics
official put it: "They'll just be another cast of characters
running the trade."


Twenty Burmese battalions may be enough to bottle up Khun
Sa, but they can't change the law of supply and demand.  The
bulk of the Golden Triangle's heroin production is now making
its way to market via the Chinese province of Yunnan,
courtesy of the United Wa State Army, narcotics officials say.

The 15,000 - strong Wa army is the main remnant of the
former Communist Party of Burma's guerrilla force.  The
communist army received massive amounts of military aid
from China before it fractured into four ethnic groups in the
late 1980s, with the hill - tribe rank - and - file chasing their
old leaders into exile. 

Most Western observers had assumed that China's contact with
those armies ended then.  They were intrigued, therefore, by
the inclusion of a man named Lee Hsu - le, or Aung Myint, in
recent Wa army delegations to Rangoon.

Officially vice - chief of staff of the Wa army, Aung Myint is
an ethnic Chinese from Kawlin in upper Burma.  He fled to
China in the wake of Burma's 1967 anti-Chinese riots and was
trained by Chinese intelligence before returning in 1968 to the
Burmese communist "liberated area," where he became
personal advisor to the party chairman, Thakin Ba Thein Tin. 
When the Wa rank - and - file revolted against the party
leadership in April 1989, he escorted Thakin Ba Thein Tin
into exile in China - only to return to Burma a few months
later to join the mutineers.

An Asian intelligence official speculates that the Was' growing
role in the drugs trade, together with their troop strength,
makes them too important for the Chinese to ignore.  "After
all, the Was have more troops along the Chinese border than
Khun Sa has along the Thai frontier," he says. 


October 18, 1995

Dear friends,
The Slorc embassy in Bonn unusually invited some active members of the
democratic forces to a meeting in Bonn on 14th.Oct. in order to discuss
some changes and developments in Burma with the members of the Slorc white-
washing team, composing of U Ba Thwin (Foreign Ministry), Dr. Htun Shein
(Investment adviser), U Set Maung (Economist) and U Tin Tun ( ex-ambassador
and adviser to FM). The discussion was led by U Win Aung, the present Slorc
ambassador in Bonn.
The very first question raised by our democratic forces was precise and 
clear: Why Slorc failed to honour the will of the Burmese people, clearly
shown in the 1990 general elections? This 2-minute question was tried to
answer by Set Maung, Tin Tun and Win Aung, taking more than 20 minutes, by
just beating about the bush. The same question was again put up in more 
clear form: The Burmese people said loud and clear that they do not 
accept the military dictatorial system by giving their votes of over 80% 
to the Aung San Suu Kyi's N L D party. Why Slorc is pretending not to under-
stand the people's will? U Win Aung's answer was as usual: The Slorc leaders
are now in the process of democratisation and the national convention is 
still going on with more than 80 elected representives (out of about 700
delegates) in order to fulfill the needs of the people.
We, the democratic forces, declared that we totally rejected the national
convention held by the Slorc with the reasons # the Slorc has no mandate 
and hence no legitimacy to convene a national convention to draw a consti-
tution,# the guide-lines laid down in the national convention by the Slorc 
steering committee are entirely not in agreement with the international basic
democratic principles and # even the United Nations do not recognize such
process of national convention.
The Slorc whitewashers are, however, seemed to be well prepared concerning
investments and open economy, although the laws and regulations, which 
they used to quote with paragraphs and sections, are completely different
in their applicability as well as practicability in Burma.( Be sure that
you are dealing with substantial, political questions than wasting much 
of the time with their investment lectures).
Finally, they do admit that they are merely Slorc's servants having no
authority to decide, but what they could only do is to relay our opinions 
to their 'higher authorities'. We told them that such kind of open 
discussions with freedom from fear should be done more frequently inside
Burma with the people than wasting foreign currencies abroad.
The whole meeting, from the beginning to the last word, was well documented
by video, recording cassettes and photos. 

Nwe Aung / Burma Bureau (Germany) 
           Fax: +49 2173 83364 


RESETTLE REFUGEES                    October 18, 1995
Yindee Lertcharoenchok

An ethnic Mon guerrilla group has urged Thailand to help in the repatriation 
and resettlement of 18,000 Mon refugees in camps along the Thai border, a 
six-month operation which will begin next month.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) has also asked the Thai government to open 
a permanent checkpoint at the Three Pagodas Pass and to allow a five year 
import tax exemption on agriculture, fishery and wood products from Burma
 to encourage about 200,000 illegal Mon immigrants working in urban Thai 
provinces to return home.

In a letter dated Aug 1 to National Security Chief Gen Charan Kullavanija, the 
NMSP President Nai Shwe Kyin thanked Charan and the Thai government for 
having guided and advised the Mon group in its ceasefire agreement on June 
29 with the Burmese junta.

Nai Shwe Kyin, in his lengthy five-page letter, obtained by The Nation, explained 
that under the peace pact, the Mon group would control 12 deployment areas with 
eight others remaining under its supervision for six months. Mon troops were to 
operate within a five miles radius of their controlled territories.

The NMSP, he said, also agreed to halt all its political activities and wait for the 
development on the drafting of a new constitution by the National Convention, 
"which we might be allowed to attend as observer".

The letter, which was signed and dispatched before a six-week trip to Burma, 
said the group was sending, at that time, a delegation to discuss economic and 
business activities with the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc).

Both Slorc and the Mon group would work together to rehabilitate the southern 
Mon State and to eliminate the chronic poverty suffered by the local people 
because of the protracted guerrilla war, now put on hold, he said.

The Mon leader then explained in detail the group's resettlement and repatriation 
plan for about 18,000 refugees from temporary border camps either side of the 
Thai border to nine new villages in Tavoy and Mergui districts and areas in Bee 
Ree and Three Pagodas Pass. The refugees would be resettled at the rate of 3,000 
per month starting next month.

Nai Shwe Kyin urged the Thai government to act as a central body for donors who 
want to assist in the resettlement programme. He also attached a list of materials 
and basic necessities, including food and medical provision, needed for six months.

The Mon leader, however, did not mention the need for cross-border assistance, 
using non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in assisting the resettlement, 
nor international monitoring of the returnees' safety.

In separate interviews, Mon and foreign refugee relief workers have expressed 
their surprise that Nai Shwe Kyin did not express those points in his letter to 
Charan, and wondered if he raised them with Slorc leaders during his trip to 
Burma, his first since 1963.

A senior official of the UN High Commissioner for refugees said his office's 
main concerns were about the willingness of the refugees to return and the
 monitoring of their safety. The UNHCR has an office in both Bangkok and 
Rangoon and could monitor the return from either the Burmese side, if Slorc 
agrees, or the Thai side, he said.

The official said the differences between the NMSP and the Mon National Relief 
Committee on the repatriation and resettlement of the refugees should be settled 
and agreed upon by both sides before the repatriation begins.

In September's monthly report, the Mon relief committee said misunderstandings 
existed over the duration of external assistance to the returnees. Many NGOs and 
other international organizations were dissatisfied with Nai Shwe Kyin's letter 
concerning assistance to refugees, it said.

The report said the National Security Council and the Mon guerrilla group had 
earlier agreed to a one-year assistance programme and Nai Shwe Kyin's request 
for six months of aid could complicate the passage of supplies to the refugees.

The report said the issue was sorted out only when Nai Shwe Kyin explained 
that his six-month request was directed to the Thai government and not related 
to the one year for private relief groups.

In his letter to Charan, Nai Shwe Kyin said his group would urge Slorc to 
discuss the opening of the Three Pagodas Pass in Kanchanaburi with the 
Thai government to become a permanent checkpoint for cross-border trade. 
He said he also wanted the Thai government to reduce or provide a five-year 
import tax exemption on agriculture, fishery and wood products from Burma. (TN)

===== item =====

October 18, 1995

Opium warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army has captured at least three Wa villages 
near Kengtung in the southern Shan State and has asked four divisions of Wa 
forces to withdraw from the frontline opposing MTA bases.

Chao Ruenkham, an MTA coordinator, said he did not know if the MTA 
would use force to dislodge the Wa troops but that the best option would be 
to negotiate for cooperation between the two groups.

The Burmese junta, which mobilized the Wa forces to attack the MTA, 
deliberately allowed Khun Sa's troops to advance and capture the Wa 
villages to create misunderstanding between the MTA and Wa groups, he said.

Ruenkham said about 300-400 Wa and Lahu forces recently defected from 
the United Wa State Party and joined the MTA at Doilang opposite 
Thailand's Chiang Rai province.

He said  it was true the MTA was trying to establish a new base near the 
Chinese border, and that the area is under the control of the Wa. Pol Maj 
Gen Siriwat Thompithak, deputy commander of the Border Patrol Police, 
said the Thai side has prepared itself in case of impact from the fighting 
between the MTA and the Burmese and Wa forces, but said he expected 
any effect to be minimal.

He said the only problem could be an influx of refugees into Thailand. 
Thailand usually allows refugees to stay on a humanitarian basis but they 
must leave after the fighting dies down, he added.

Wiwat Sirichangkhapattana, president of the Chiang Rai Chamber of 
Commerce, said he does not think clashes in southern Burma's Shan State 
would have any effect on the ongoing negotiations between Thailand and 
Burma for reopening of the Tachilek-Mae Sai crossing. Wiwat said the 
Burmese junta had taken measures to protect Tachilek from raids by the 
MTA. He expected the crossing to be reopened next month. (TN)

===== item =====

October 18, 1995            Rangoon, AFP

A senior UN human rights official wound up his annual visit to Burma 
yesterday saying he was optimistic the junta and the opposition led by 
Aung San Suu Kyi would resume their dialogue.  Yozo Yokota, the UN
 rapporteur on human rights in Burma, told a news conference: "Both sides 
are still showing their willingness to re-start or continue the dialogue."

He declined to give any details of the meeting he had with Khin Nyunt, the 
first secretary of the military government, or the two rounds he had with Aung 
San Suu Kyi, but said he found them in general agreement over objectives.

"How to approach the final goal appears to be somewhat different, but once 
you agree on the objective, there is ample, ample opportunity for them to discuss 
and agree on concrete steps to be taken," he said.

"I think the dialogue is not terminated now. It is still waiting for another 
opportunity to come up." Yokota, who will address the UN general assembly
 in late November, said he was careful to look for both positive and negative 
developments since his last visit. (BP)

===== item =====

DESTINATION               October 18, 1995
By Dinesh C Sharma, New Delhi

As political relations between New Delhi and Rangoon improve, more and more
 Indian businessmen are looking to Burma as a new investment destination.

Indo-Burma relations will see a further upswing in the coming months as 
direct air links are established between the two countries, after a break of 
over two decades, and a second point is opened for border trade in India's 
North-East at Champahi, in the State of Mizoram.

The first point for border trade was opened in March in Manipur, which links 
with Tamu on the Burmese side. This was a significant landmark in the economic 
relations between India and Burma which dropped after the State Law and Order 
Restoration Council (Slorc) assumed power in Rangoon seven years ago.

Reopening of airlinks with Rangoon after a long gap also would greatly boost 
trade and business links. In the absence of suck links, Indian businessmen have 
been flying to Rangoon from Singapore or Bangkok.

Indian Airlines (IA), the domestic airline, is slated to link the two capitals 
directly from November 1. The IA's Calcutta-Bangkok flight is to offer a weekly 
stop at Rangoon for both outbound and return trips.

Myanmar Airlines will link Rangoon with the south Indian port city of Madras. 
The flight is initially likely to be twice a week. Firm schedules are expected to 
be announced shortly.

Several Indian industrial houses are keen to step up exports to Burma and 
also set up local production units there. A few have already taken off, while 
others are at drawing board stage.

The Ahmadabad-based Core Parentals is one such company which has set 
up a turnkey project in Rangoon to supply intravenous fluids to the Burmese 
defence ministry.

The Bangalore-based liquor giant, United Breweries headed by Vijay Mallya, 
is another Indian group active in Burma. UB's subsidiary, UB Global Trading 
Corp plans to set up a $16-million brewery-cum-distillery unit in Rangoon.

It is already exporting UB's popular brands there, besides acting as a trading 
agent for other Indian companies like Ashok Leyland and Bajaj Tempo. Grasim 
Industries of the Aditya Biral Group, which has several joint ventures in the 
region, is also conducting feasibility study to establish a rayon-grade pulp factory.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry of national 
planning and economic development to use local bamboo plantations. Industry 
sources say it will take some more time for actual operations to start, as rules 
and regulations are not yet fully industry friendly. The Indian embassy, in its 
effort to boost Indian investments in Rangoon, has set up an India Business 
Club. (BP)



                       BURMA SUPPORT GROUP NEW YORK
There will be a meeting of the BSG on Monday 6 November* at 7.15pm 
at the Puffin Room, 435, Broome St. (2 blocks East of Broadway)
Dr Sein Win, cousin of Aung San Suu Kyi, and Prime Minister of
the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma will
speak on "Why US Companies should stay out of Burma".
The discussion afterwards will touch on such issues as Selective
Purchasing Legislation, and what New Yorkers can do to help
restore democracy and respect for human rights in Burma.
Further details from Tel (212) 338 0048

* Anyone who received the flyer announcing the meeting as the
16th of November should note that this was a typo.



Twilight over Burma by Inge Sargent, Univ of Hawaii Press, 1994, 240pp 
with 25 illustrations and maps, is available from the following:

University of Hawaii Press
Order Department
2840 Kolowalu Street
Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Phone: (800) 956-2840 from USA only; Others: (808) 956-8255
Fax: (800) 650-7811 from USA only; Others: (808) 988-6052

Price: $14.95 (paperback) plus $3 for the first book, $1.00 for each 
additional book in USA.  Outside USA $4.00 for first book, $2 for each 
additional book.  VISA, MASTERCARD accepted.

"A gripping tale from beginning to end...A touching memoir that would read 
like a fairy tale were it not for the unfortunate ending."---Booklist

"To marry a prince should portend living happily ever after in a kingdom 
filled with tranquility and love.  Sargent's 'ever after' with her Shan 
prince lasted little more than a decade: in a 1962 coup d'etat by Burmese 
Army General Ne Win, her husband, Sao Kya Seng, the Prince of Hsipaw...was 
executed.  An Austrian by birth, Sargent records in a tender, affecting 
manner their courtship and her introduction and adaptation to the varied 
social and cultural aspects of Shan life."----Library Journal

Posted by Professor U Kyaw Win

(Editor's Note: Twilight Over Burma is also available in Thailand from
Silkworm Press)