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BurmaNet News: October 25, 1995 #26

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Subject: BurmaNet News: October 25, 1995 #260

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"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: October 25, 1995
Issue #260

Noted in Passing:
It's an ethnic conflict, not an ideological one, in which the
parties are unable to reconcile by political means. - former 
Thai Deputy Foreign Minister, Surin Pitsuwan on the 
conflict in Burma

SLORC, Aung San Suu Kyi or others, they are all Burmese. 
We (Thailand) cannot side with any particular party. - Thai 
Foreign Ministry  spokesman Suvidhya Simaskul


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I have just returned from India.  I interviewed numerous people who have 
recently come from Sagiang and Chin State.  The estimate given to me by 
these refugees is that in any given year 80% of the population of these 
states must perform forced labor.  All interviewees indicated that there 
is more forced labor in 1995 than last year.

The situation in western burma goes from worse to worser.

Michael Beer



FBC Home Page is up and you can download Oct. 27 poster! 
(We'll add campaign pictures and literature very soon.) 

Here is the site:


October 27, 1995 (From: brelief@xxxxxxx)

Suu Kyi Prods the Generals, but Still No Dialogue

Aung San Suu Kyi is a determined woman.  Since her release
in July from six years of house arrest, she has repeatedly
asked the generals who run Myanmar to discuss the country's
political future with her.  The military junta, or State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), thinks time is on
its side.  It seems content to reap what benefits it can from freeing 
one of the world's most famous political prisoners without hurrying 
to meet her.  Myanmar's ambassador to Thailand, Tin Winn, recently 
said that "the government doesn't need dialogue with anybody."

Suu Kyi last week served notice that she will not be ignored. 
Her party, the National League for Democracy, reinstated her as 
its secretary general. Inspired by Suu Kyi, the NLD won 80% of 
the seats in the 1990 parliamentary elections, though SLORC 
refused to honor the results.  The party's central committee was 
forced to expel her from her post in early 1991, and to oust her 
from the party altogether later that year.  Two other former leaders, 
Tin U and Kyi Maung, were also given top posts in the party last 
week.  Both were released from detention in March. Tin U will be 
responsible for organizational and legal matters and Kyi Maung for
research and foreign relations.

A government election commission reportedly rejected the
NLD's new line-up.  But as of mid-week, an assistant to Suu Kyi 
could not confirm that the NLD had received notification from the 
commission.  The group has the authority to discipline political parties 
and prohibit any changes in their leadership.

An NLD spokesman said that the reshuffle was an internal party 
matter and would stand even if the commission did not approve it.  
Suu Kyi would play a leading role in the NLD even without a title.  
Giving her the top job was a way to help resuscitate a party that 
SLORC had nearly snuffed out.  Suu Kyi has insisted that SLORC's 
divide-and-rule tactics weakened the NLD, but didn't split it.  As 
proof, the party retained as chairman Aung Shwe.  He had headed what 
the government called the "legal" NLD, and he also represents
the party in the slow - moving National Convention, the
government - appointed body drafting the constitution. 

SLORC has few incentives to speed up the transition to civilian rule.  
Suu Kyi's release was aimed in part at placating foreign investors and 
international donors who were uneasy about working with a government 
that was holding a Nobel laureate in detention.  Though Suu Kyi advised 
against it, Japan has resumed limited humanitarian aid, and such
organizations as the Asian Development Bank and the International 
Monetary Fund are considering granting loans to Myanmar.

Although she has ventured outside Yangon only once, to visit a 
revered monk in Karen state, Suu Kyi has done her best to keep 
international pressure on SLORC.  She sent taped messages to the 
Women's Forum in Hauirou, China, at the end of August, and to a 
labor and human rights conference in the Philippines in mid October. 
 She has met with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine
Albright, and with Yozo Yokota, the U.N.'s special representative on 
human rights in Myanmar.

Predicting the generals' next moves is never easy.  They could try to 
check the NLD with legal maneuvering.  Or they may attempt to 
finesse the issue of negotiations by allowing her access to the
 National Convention.  If the revitalized NLD leadership decides 
to endorse the party's involvement in the convention, SLORC 
would be off the hook.  But the price of such a major concession 
from the NLD may be allowing Suu Kyi some say in forming the 
constitution. SLORC postponed the next session from Oct. 24 to 
Nov. 28.  The official reason was that delegates wanted to be home 
for an important religious festival and the post - monsoon
farming.  More likely, the generals didn't want to resume
meeting at the inauspicious time of a solar eclipse.

The military continues to defend its role in politics by insisting 
it is the only force capable of maintaining national unity.  The 
National Convention has adopted this principle.  The generals are 
not heading back to the barracks anytime soon. And if they have 
their way, Suu Kyi will never be president.  Several provisions in the 
constitution, barring from the presidency anyone married to a foreigner 
or without detailed knowledge of military, would clearly preclude her. 
Still, Suu Kyi has never said she wants the job, and the NLD would 
have no difficulty fielding an appropriate candidate: Aung Shwe, Tin U 
and Kyi Maung are all former senior army officers.

But talk of an NLD presidential contender is still premature. The generals 
must first meet with Suu Kyi.  Right now, the only thing resonating out 
of Myanmar is, as they say there, is the sound of one hand clapping. 


ILLEGAL   October 24, 1995   Associated Press

(BurmaNet editor's note: the Bangkok Post ran a shorter version of
the same article)

RANGOON _ Burma's military government has ruled that
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's reappointment to a
leadership role in her political party is illegal, a government
official said yesterday.

The ruling by the election commission, which regulates all
political parties, cited a 1991 rule banning further changes in
party leadership, a commission member who demanded anonymity

Suu Kyi, who was freed from six years of house. arrest in July,
was reinstated on Oct 9 as general secretary of the National
League for Democracy which she helped found.

The election commission ruling also prevents Tin Oo and Kyi
Maung, former political prisoners released in March, from
assuming their new posts as vice chairmen.

The National League for Democracy was forced to expel Suu Kyi,
Tin Oo and Kyi Maung in 1991 to retain its status as a legal
party. A government regulation proscribed parties from having
members who were charged with offences by the state.

Suu Kyi was detained, but never tried on charges of endangering
national security.

Changes in party leadership must be submitted in writing to the
election commission. The commission informed the National League
for Democracy of its ruling last week.

The commission member said the party can still function legally
with its old leadership line-up. The party's chairman is Aung
Shwe, a former military leader.

The National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in 1990
elections, but the military government refused to hand over power.

Instead, it said that the elections were to set up a national
convention to draw up guidelines for a new constitution. The
ongoing convention has been labelled a sham by human rights
organizations because opponents of the regime have not been
allowed to participate.

Many government opponents are still in prison or exile.

The government assumed power in 1988 after slaughtering thousands
of pro-democracy demonstrators on the streets of Rangoon and
other major Burmese cities. It has set no date for a return to
civilian rule.

## Reuter adds from Manila: Burmese pro-democracy activists
opened a six-day conference in Manila yesterday aiming to draw up
their own version of a constitution to rival the one being
drafted by the military junta in Rangoon.

Saw Bo Mya, chair of the Democratic Alliance of Burma, said in a
statement sent to the conference organizers a new democratic
constitution would help "ensure lasting peace, stability and
progress" in Burma.

"The usurpers of power, the Slorc (State Law and Order
Restoration Council), is still ruling with the ruthless system of
military dictatorship," he said.

"The Slorc has been feverishly attempting to draft a State
Constitution having no essence, by holding a sham national
convention in order to perpetrate and legitimize its hold on
power," Saw (Bo Mya) added.

The conference will discuss a draft federal constitution for
Burma and ways to implement it.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the main opposition
National League for Democracy, is expected to send a taped
message to the conference later, organizers said.

She was freed in July after six years of house arrest, but the
military junta in Burma has refused to hold talks with herd on
the future of the country.


October 24, 1995   Reuter
(BurmaNet editor's note: the Bangkok Post published a slightly shorter
version of the same article.)

MONG YON, Burma _ Fuelled by age-old nationalism and the spoils
of the opium trade, fighting is intensifying in Burma's remote Golden 
Triangle between the country's two most powerful guerrilla armies.

Commanders of the ethnic minority Wa army, allied with Burma's
military government since a 1989 ceasefire, vowed yesterday to
push guerrillas loyal to the Shan opium warlord Khun Sa out of
the hills in this region of northeastern Burma.

"We must fight Khun Sa and defeat him or else he will completely
swallow the Wa people like he has done to so many other groups,"
said Lin Wen, a senior United Wa State Army commander.

Several thousand Wa reinforcements have been brought down from
their headquarters area in northern Shan state on the border with
China to this region in the south of the state, near the Thai
frontier to battle Khun Sa's army since the current round of
fighting began in June.

Another 2,000 reinforcements are on their way and more will be
brought in until Khun Sa's fighters are driven out of the area,
Lin Wen said.

The Burmese government has given permission for Wa troops to move
from the north through government territory and mule caravans are
travelling with them from the government town of Mong Hsat,
loaded with mortar bombs, rocket grenades and other ammunition,
supplied to the Wa by the Burmese army.

While helping their Wa allies in the Mong Yon area, the Burmese
army is moving into position to launch an offensive against Khun
Sa's main headquarters area some 200 km to the west.

Wa frontline commander Ja Lor Phu said his forces were preparing
to fight Khun Sa to the finish.

"The fighting must continue, if we don't fight them they will
come to fight us," Ja Lor Phu said.

Below his command post perched on top of a ridgeline, his troops
and Khun Sa's fighters fired mortar bombs and machine guns at
each other from their fortified hilltop posts several hundred
metres apart.

The Wa say Khun Sa's forces tried to cut their main supply route
north to the government town of Mong Hsat, a vital lifeline since
Thailand sealed the border last year following Burmese government
complaints that Khun Sa was benefiting from cross-border-smuggling.

The Wa built a road about halfway through the rugged hills
between their headquarters near the Thai border and Mong Hsat and
say it will cross a main Khun Sa east-west supply route.

"At first they thought they could cut our main supply route but
they failed. We have to make sure our supply route is safe," said
Ja Lor Phu.

The Wa, former headhunters who made up the rank and file of the
Communist Party of Burma's military wing, mutinied against their
communist leaders in 1989 and agreed to a ceasefire with the
Burmese government.

Thai and Western anti-narcotics agencies say the Wa now rival
Khun Sa as the main producers of opium and its refined form
heroin, but the Wa say they recently reached an agreement with the
Burmese government to begin eradicating the harvest.

They deny their fight with Khun Sa is merely a fight over opium
and say he and his Shan nationalist forces fighting for the
independence of Shan State will completely dominate the Wa and
other ethnic minority groups unless he is resisted.

"We need our own place to live. If we don't fight Khun Sa he will
fight us and he will swallow the Wa people," said Lin Wen.


October 24, 1995    Agence France-Presse

RANGOON _ France is the surprise leader among Western countries
coming to do business in Burma, according to ambassador Bernard

French businessmen normally prefer to follow the leader when it
comes to business, but this time they are in the forefront,"
Pottier remarked.

The latest Burmese government statistics show France with
investments of US$455 million - in large of part due to Total's
oil and gas exploration projects - second to Britain with just
under $600 million.

The figures fail to reflect, however, the vagaries of company
registrations internationally, and in fact the French constitute
the single largest group, Pottier said.

In about a year, the number of French companies installed in
varying forms in Burma has soared from eight to 25.


ON CAMBODIA     October 24, 1995    

Report: Nussara Sawatsawang
Soft-peddling on the Burma issue

WHEN IT comes to Burmese issues, Thailand stays away from the
United Nations, a mechanism it used successfully to
internationalise the Cambodian problem.

ASEAN rallied behind Thailand in keeping Cambodia on the world
agenda for 13 years from the time of the Vietnamese invasion in
late December 1978 through to the October 1991 Paris peace

"The Southeast Asian region especially Cambodia, is a success
story of the United Nations," said former deputy Foreign Minister
Surin Pitsuwan, attributing the accomplishment to the UN's
recognition of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Every year, ASEAN tabled and lobbied support for resolutions in
the UN General Assembly condemning the Vietnamese invasion and
demanding its withdrawal from Cambodia.

>From the mid 1980s, Indonesia helped reinforce this effort by
hosting a series of peace talks known as the Jakarta Informal
Meeting. Later, peace initiatives from France, Australia and five
permanent members of the UN Security Council culminated in the
Paris peace agreements.

The Vietnamese invasion posed a direct threat to Thailand and, by
implications, its neighbours in ASEAN _ then Malaysia, Indonesia,
Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei. Vietnam joined ASEAN in
July this year.

At its peak, Vietnam maintained 180,000 troops in Cambodia. UN
agencies and international non-government organisations
spearheaded assistance for more than 35,000 refugees who flooded
across the border and were kept in camps in Thailand.

Vietnam withdrew its troops from Cambodia in 1989 and the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees repatriated the Cambodians
in time for that country's elections in May 1993.

Foreign Minister M.R. Kasem S. Kasemsri noted that the UN was
instrumental in bringing peace to Cambodia by persuading all
rival factions to sign the peace pact.

Under the agreement, the United Nations Transitional Authority in
Cambodia _ which included civilians and peacekeepers _ saw the
country through to general elections and left after a coalition
government was in place.

But the success in Cambodia has not inspired Thailand to make
effective use of the UN to solve the problems of its western neighbour.

Some observers have advocated that Burma should be taken up as a
regional or even international issue, after nearly half a century
of civil war in the country between the military government and
ethnic groups.

The strife has spawned human rights violations, forced labour and
displaced persons along the Thai-Burmese border.

The ethnic rebels, including the Mons, Karens and Shans have called 
for autonomy since the end of the British colonial rule in 1947.

Pro-democracy forces inside and outside the country also demand
democracy. The Burmese military rulers have remained indifferent.

The State Law and Order Restoration Council, the ruling junta,
came to power in 1988, held elections in 1990 but refused to hand
over power to the winners _ the National League for Democracy.

It claims a new government will be formed after the so-called
national conventional completes drafting the constitution.

Representatives hand-picked by the junta have gathered for the
task since early 1993 and there is no end in sight for their work.

Thailand will not raise the Burmese issue before the UN for a
variety of reasons. First, it regards the issue as strictly an
internal affair, among various forces with their own vested

The Burma issue lacks the international dimension of the
Cambodian problem _ there is no foreign occupation.

"It's an ethnic conflict, not an ideological one, in which
parties are unable to reconcile by political means," Surin said.

Different rebel groups followed divided lines in their political
struggles against Rangoon, he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Suvidhya Simaskul agrees, saying the
Burmese will have to settle their own problems.

"SLORC, Aung San Suu Kyi or others, they are all Burmese. We
(Thailand) cannot side with any particular party," he said.

Suu Kyi was recently reinstated as secretary-general of the NLD
after the junta released her from six years' house arrest without
trial or charges.

M.R. Kasem S., who served as Thai Ambassador to the US during the
Cold War, said that super powers were involved in Cambodia, but
there were none in Burma's case.

He said that China and the United States, while having different
goals, used the same approach by exerting influence as permanent
members of the UN Security Council to push for their interests in

China supported the Khmer Rouge which was ousted by the
Vietnamese army in late 1978, while the US maintained its
position in the bi-polar world against the former Soviet Union
which supported Vietnam.

As for the Karens who fled persecution in their homeland and took
refuge in Thailand, the Thai government has denied access to UN
agencies to monitor the situation, claiming that the Karens are
"displaced persons" and "economic migrants", not political refugees.

During the Cambodian problem period, Thailand housed Khmer
refugees and displaced persons in camps along the border.

These people were the "population base" of the Cambodian
government in exile which Thailand supported.

Suvidhya said the Thai government did not want to put Burma
before a regional or internationals forum because doing so would
open the way for outside powers to dictate the country's

Apart from having a special rapporteur nominated by the UN Human
Rights Commission observe the situation in Burma since 1992, the
UN General Assembly has passed resolutions about problems in

However, this kind of pressure is far from effective. The
resolutions steer clear of internal affairs which are the root
cause of human rights violations.

Since the assembly's resolutions were non-binding, UN members
need not abide by them, unlike those issued by the Security
Council, the director of the UN Information Centre in Thailand,
Khaled Khali, said.

"Once the decision is made and the resolution is passed by the
General Assembly, it's up to the member states whether to
implement it," he said.

"What's happening in Myanmar (Burma) is internal."

But the UN could express concern, unlike in the case of Cambodia
which became internationalised after the Vietnamese invasion and
Cambodia's calls for help from the organisation, he said.

Thailand, on the other hand, has to look after its own interests.

Surin said that every year Foreign Ministry officials worked hard
to tone down the assembly's; resolutions on Burma, which were
initiated by Scandinavian countries, the United States and

"Instead of 'condemn' we sometimes push for 'concern' in the
resolution to show our sincerity toward the Burmese government
and to help our communications with it," he said.

Suvidhya said disputes, including those involving the Khmer
Rouge, which pulled out of the Paris peace pact, and fighting in
Burma, could be resolved within the countries concerned or under
the newly established regional mechanism.

ASEAN last year formed a regional forum involving 18 countries in
the Asia-Pacific region and the European Union to find ways to
guarantee security and stability in the region.

Surin said the world has moved away from armed conflict to trade
wars, exploitation of natural resources and information
competitiveness. The UN should think beyond the "traditional"
agenda and focus on these new issues.

"The image, prestige and legitimacy of the UN still exist in the
region and so there is a need for the UN to foster closer
cooperation," he said.


FOR NEW COMMITTEE     October 24, 1995 

Report: Subin Kuenkaew
Rift may assist Khun Sa's return

ONLY TWO months after taking over Khun Sa's Shan State
Restoration Council, divisions are emerging in the new central
executive committee led by Zao Gun Jade, raising fears the
charismatic drug kingpin may return to power.

The division stems from two crucial policy issues in the Shans'
50-year struggle for self-determination: opium and relations with
the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council, according to
reliable sources.

The overwhelming majority of the committee's members favour
giving up drug trafficking, which has been the main source of
income both for living and for the fight against Rangoon, but
which has given a bad name to the Shan, killing any chance of
international assistance.

About 80 per cent of the Shan support the majority view, but a
few committee members ask two questions which cannot be answered
effectively: What is the alternative to drug trafficking and what
will the people eat?

These members, although a minority on the committee, are
comparable to its bankers. Without them the new leadership will
soon run out of cash, opening the way for Khun Sa or another drug
warlord to take over, repeating the vicious cycle that has
trapped the Shan for decades.

Zao Gun Jade and committee members who favour giving up drug
trafficking thought about the issue before taking over from Khun
Sa, according to sources. But it is no easy matter to build
development in the Shan state which has known only subsistence
living and drug trafficking.

Soon after taking over, the committee sent a letter to United
Nations' secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali informing him of
the changes in the leadership of the Shan movement and expressing
hope the new leaders would be internationally acceptable.

The UN was asked to help deal with drug production and
trafficking. The committee pledged to put its entire
administration and its army under UN command for the purpose.
There ate no reports of a reply from the world body.

Burmese Ambassador to Bangkok Tin Winn described the letter as
"very funny" during an interview last month.

The letter's main purpose was to answer a long cherished need of
the Shan to be accepted internationally as an ethnic group with
the right to self-determination, the sources said.

But the new leaders were realistic enough to know the UN would
not, indeed could not intervene, even though they cherished some
hope it would.

Drug trafficking in the Shan state, long infamous as the main
source of narcotics to the United States, has spun out control
since Khun Sa stepped down. Small groups, some of 50-60 people,
have begun to buy raw opium from villagers scattered around the
state and then refine it in the jungle for export through China,
Vietnam and Cambodia, the sources said.

The amount reaching refineries set up by Khun Sa very close to
Mae Hong Son on the Thai border is dwindling.

The SLORC is aware of the change in trafficking patterns but is
turning a blind eye, knowing that it affects the Shan, among the
last ethnic groups standing strong against the military,
according to the sources who believe the SLORC may even get a
share of the income.

The committee still has to decide on a policy toward the SLORC.
Three options have been proposed: to fight the SLORC as enough
weapons have been stock-piled, to open negotiations or just
continue as usual.

Since he stepped down months ago, Khun Sa has remained in his
headquarters at Hua Muang, patiently watching the new central
executive committee struggle to establish itself.

While it can only be speculated that he nurtures an ambition to
return to power, he is well a that he, too, will have to an the
same crucial questions o future of the Shan movement.

One of the major reasons he had to step down is that the Shan
grew tired of drug trafficking and, after nearly half a century,
there seems to be no end in sight for their struggle for self-determination.

The committee is suffering from a leadership crisis as Zao Gun
Jade, known for his military wit, and other committee members
cannot raise the Shan people's confidence about their ability to
deal with these is according to the sources.

Suggestions have been that Zao Chang, a Shan exiled in Canada who
retains the respect of many people, be asked to return to lead the
movement. But observers suspect he would decline the offer.


October 24, 1995

The Asian Development Bank will continue to fund hydropower projects in 
Laos until its government has received enough income to fund them itself, 
bank official Noritada Morita said yesterday.

However, the bank was only interested in supporting relatively small hydropower 
projects, not larger than 200-300 megawatts (MW), he said. Morita, director of 
the ADB's Programmes Department (West), said the bank would not fund the 
Nam Theun 2 project, which was slated to generate 681 MW. The Project was 
considered controversial because it would flood the Nakay Platelu, a prime 
wildlife habitat and conservation area.

"We are trying to discourage governments from big, 'dream' projects," he told 
reporters at an investment forum on the Greater Mekong Sub-region held 
yesterday in Bangkok.

Hans-Gerd Fischer, a general manager for the Australia-based Transfield Corp 
and project director for Nam Theun 2, also said the World Bank was unlikely to 
fund the project but may support it with a "political risk guarantee", basically an
 insurance programme for privatized infrastructure projects.

Project implementors would have to pay a premium for the guarantee. The Lao 
government has approached Thailand's Export-Import Bank to supply it with a 
loan for the project, Fischer said.

Speaking at the forum, he warned investors that anyone interested in putting 
forward hydropower projects would have to "go through the motions" of a 
complicated environmental assessment process.

Concerning other energy projects in the region, Mortia confirmed that the 
ADB has been approached unofficially by Thailand to finance a pipeline 
being built to import gas from Burma.

"The Petroleum Authority of Thailand have been sounding out several potential 
donors for the [Thai segment of the ] pipeline, including the ADB and bilateral 
agencies," he said. Financing for the Burmese segment of the pipeline was 
expected to come from overseas.

"We have to see the terms and conditions before deciding whether to fund the 
project," Morita said. "The project is essential for Thailand, as well [as Burma], 
considering the energy supply situation here."

The Burmese government, meanwhile, appeared to be talking a renewed 
interest in generating hydro-electric power from the Salween River. "We are 
interested. The project has great potential, up to 3,000 MW," said U Thinn 
Maung, an official from the Myanmar Investment Commission who was 
attending the forum. "But I don't think one country or company can handle 
the project alone.

"And we also have to worry about the environmental impact," he said. "If we 
divert the water from the Salween, it may have an impact on the river's 
ecology and navigation."

The gas pipeline and the proposed Salween Dam were also considered 
controversial because of their possible social impacts. The  Burmese 
government has been accused of using forced labour to build its infra-
structure projects. Morita said the ADB has not been approached recently 
by Burma about hydropower projects for the Salween River, although it did 
fund a pre-feasibility study several years ago. (TN)