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BurmaNet News: November 13, 1995 #2

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Subject: BurmaNet News: November 13, 1995 #277

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: November 13, 1995
Issue #277

Noted in Passing:

	At least I will let the world know it is not only Thais hurting 
	Burmese, but Burmese hurting Thais, too.  -  Governor Siri 
	Chavanavirach of Ranong, Thailand.  


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November 11, 1995               Bagan

For poor, isolated and repressive regimes, foreign tourists represent both
opportunity and threat.  The government of Myanmar is accentuating the 
positive.  The New Light of Myanmar, mouthpiece of the ruling military junta, bluntly editorialised on November 3rd that tourism "can bring in
foreign exchange in large amounts in a short period".  But the junta knows
it can also bring foreign ideas, and headaches for the secret police.

In Bagan (Pagan), a tourist site, the junta has tackled the dilemma with 
ruthless simplicity.  It told the residents of "old Bagan" to move and reportedly arrested some who refused.  They were ordered to build new homes in what is now a soulless village of guest-houses known as New Bagan.

They are not the only victims of Myanmar's drive for tourists.  A report released on November 6th  by Yozo Yokota, the United Nations' investigator
into human rights in Myanmar, alleges that forced labour is being used to spruce up the country for foreign visitors in readiness for "Visit Myanmar Year 1996".

The junta, which calls itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council, denies the accusation.  Khin Nyunt, its "secretary-1" has said people are "contributing their voluntary labour happily."  In Myanmar, a devoutly Buddhist country, restoring a pagod

a is a way of "gaining merit", getting 
closer to Nirvana.

In New Bagan, however, they have little time for Khin Nyunt and friends.  The residents do not believe the pretext for their removal- archaeological
excavation, says the junta.  They think the junta wanted to clear the way 
for tourists and keep locals away from its generals, who frequently travel
to Bagan to consult fortune tellers and gain merit of their own (with cash
rather than sweated toil).

On a vast plain of the Irrawaddy River, the area around Bagan is dotted with 2,250 surviving temples, pagodas, an monasteries built in the two centuries
before Kublai Khan's Mongol hordes swept down from the north in the 
1280s.  It is a miracle of religious faith.  Tourist hub, however, it is not.
There are only about 343 hotel rooms, none of them luxurious.  For indiv-
idual travellers, local transport is still by rented bicycle or horse and cart.
It is tourism for the hardy with a taste for the exotic.

Originally, the aim of Visit Myanmar Year was to attract 500,000 visitors.
Now. officials talk about 250,000 and stress that the year in question will
not really get underway until the tourist high season begins in October
1996.  But the new target is still over-ambitious.  In 1988, the year of 
unrest that culminated in the junta's bloody seizure of power, fewer than
10,000 visitors came.  Officials reckon that 100,000 will be the figure
this year, most of them, about 60%, from Western Europe.

Even if the number turns out to be well below 250,000, it is not clear
how they will arrive, or where they will stay.  There are 4,100 seats a
week on international flights into the capital, Yangon - virtually the only
way in for tourists.  Yangon has 1,900 hotel rooms and a further 1,500
being built.

Desperate for foreign currency, the junta is serious about its tourist push.
Myanmar's first beach resort is being developed; 379 private tour 
operators have been licensed, and the state has relinquished its monopoly
on air travel.  Air Mandalay, a joint venture with a Sinagporean company,
is already flying.  Yangon Air, a Thai joint venture, was established on
November 1st.  At the launch party, Khin Nyunt quoted Rudyard Kipling,
the poet of British imperialism.  He said he hoped to disprove Kipling's line
that "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."

In New Bagan, residents also hope Kipling was wrong.  Westerners are 
troublesome and impious, but they are preferred to the junta.  The
entrances to the most active pagodas are lined by money-changers and hawkers.  The border between the sacred and the profane is drawn 
eccentrically in Myanmar.  In a pagoda, everyone goes barefoot, but maroon-robed monks cadge and smoke cigarettes.  The gold-domed Shweizigon 
pagoda is like a spiritual funfair, with mechanical dioramas of the Buddha's
life.  In the long run, tourism poses another threat - to the preservation of
ancient and unique traditions.  But Myanmar's (sic) are resilient.  If they
can survive the junta, they can survive Visit Myanmar Year.


HER BEHALF   November 11, 1995      By Diplomatic Editor
typed by the News & Information Dept. of FTUB (West Burma)

New Delhi, Nov 10: Myanmar's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has 
conveyed to India her inability to visit New Delhi to received Jawaharlal 
Nehru Award for International Understanding.
        The award, to be presented at a ceremony on Tuesday, will be received 
by her family friend, Daw Than Aye. The presentation ceremony will take 
place at Rashtrapati Bhan, where the President will hand over the award.
        Ms Suu Kyi has written to the Vice President, Mr K. R. Narayanan, 
chairman of the panel deciding the award, that she is unable to attend the 
ceremony. Her communication has avoided an unseemly controversy, which could 
have soured Indo-Myanmarese relations had Ms Suu Kyi decided to travel to 

November 10, 1995   by Wassana Nanum, Matchima Chanswangpuwana 
and Wanchai Waiirasasithorn

  Move comes as six Thais are killed in Burmese mutiny on the high seas 

A DEMAND by Rangoon for compensation for the deaths of three
Burmese in a Mong Tai Army assault has taken Thai military leaders aback.

The demand came as reports reached Bangkok that six Thai crewmen
had been killed by Burmese aboard a trawler in Burmese waters on Sunday.

A thorn in increasingly sensitive relations has been the murder
of three Burmese crewmen aboard a Thai trawler in August.

The call for compensation was made by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first
secretary of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, to Gen
Chetha Thanajaro, deputy army commander, in Rangoon, a source
said yesterday.

Deemed by the junta a precondition to improved ties, the Burmese
said Bangkok should pay because Khun Sa's forces launched their
attack on Tachilek from Thai soil.

Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt told Gen Chetha he had to act because he would
otherwise be accused of failing the Burmese people.

It was initially reported that 30 Burmese soldiers were killed in
the March attack but there was no word of civilian casualties.  The 
Burmese junta claims three civilians were killed in the crossfire.

The demand came out of the blue and was not raised by Maj-Gen
Khet Sein, commander of Burma's Southeastern Force, when he met
Gen Chetha for border committee talks in Mae Sot, Tak.

The SLORC official was quoted as saying: "The quicker the issue
is settled, the better it will be for relations."

A Thai military official said: "It is beyond our understanding how Burma 
can make such a demand and hold us responsible for the incident."

Gen Chetha was also told by the SLORC official that legal matters
needed to be tackled before work on the Thai-Burmese Friendship
Bridge could resume after the June 7 suspension.

The source said the bridge issue could be complex because Burma
was linking it to accusations that Thais laid rocks and built
structures on the bank of the Moei River in Mae Sot which
encroach upon Burmese territory.

Thailand insists the rocks or concrete structures were built to
offset the effects of a changing current and could not violate
Burmese sovereignty.

The source said Gen Chetha was also urged by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt to
settle the case of Burmese crew killed in August.

The latest murders on the high seas involved the trawler Paknam 5
as it was reportedly fishing illegally in Burmese waters on November 5.

A Thai crewman who jumped into the sea and was picked up by
another Thai vessel two days later said 13 Burmese crew mutinied.

The Burmese, using knives and wooden staves, attacked the Thais
and dumped their bodies into the sea, said Supanya Ketchan, 16.
Among the six believed killed was the skipper Supol Bampensri.

Mr Supanya survived despite being stabbed in the waist, said
Suthee Nangsue, owner of the 5.5-million-baht trawler, which was
taken further into Burmese waters.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Monthon Kraiwatnussorn suggested the
cause of the conflict in both cases was the high-technology
equipment on the vessels.

Since Thai vessels were involved, he said, any action must be
handled by Thai courts.

Fisheries Department deputy director Kitjar Jaiyen said the
latest development was unlikely to induce Rangoon to lift its ban
on Thai trawlers even though the victims were Thai.

It took place in Burmese waters, which had clearly been violated,
Mr Kitjar said.

Foreign Ministry representations would have to be tempered because 
Thailand could not be seen to be trying to protect wrongdoers, he said.

Rangoon banned Thai trawlers after the three Burmese crewmen were
murdered by Thais in August and said its forces would fire on any
Thai. fishing vessel in its territorial waters.

Several meetings have been held by high-ranking officials of the two 
countries but no significant progress has been made towards easing relations.

Another meeting between Burmese Deputy Prime Minister Maung Maung
Khin and Defence minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is scheduled to
be held here next week.  The Burmese Deputy Premier is due for a five-day 
visit on November 14.

Mr Kitjar said a number of Thai vessels were still defying the
Burmese ban and he admitted there was little to stop them
violating territorial waters of neighbouring countries. 

Tough new proposals, including a requirement that fishing vessels
have international fishing licences and report all foreign
voyages to official agencies, were being considered by the
National Fishery Committee, he said.


November 10, 1995

Aung Zaw on another round of finger pointed among Bangkok-based

Police state, state of emergency, state of paranoia. Whatever it is called, 
Burma today is a country where nobody trusts anybody, so pervasive is 
the intelligence network set up by Burma's ruling generals.

For Burmese students and dissidents who have escaped to Thailand,
the situation is little better.

In early September, a man calling himself Maung Maung sent a
letter to Artit, a Thai-language magazine, claiming to know seven
Burmese spies he said had infiltrated Burmese dissident groups
based in the country. He stressed that his real intention in
sending the letter was to flush out those who had been snooping
around in Thailand.

He later provided the names of the alleged seven "spies", but
failed to provide any information on their activities, or any
evidence to back up his accusations.

He said that the seven were receiving instructions from Burma's
military intelligence unit. That the ages of two spies fell
between 40-50, one is 35, while the rest are under 30. Three of
the alleged spies are former members of the All Burma Students
Democratic Front (ABSDF), two are members of the Overseas
National Students Organization of Burma (ONSOB), which is
currently based in Bangkok, one is a former member of the Karen
National Union (KNU), while another is a former member of the
Burma Information Group (BIG).

"Carrying their notebooks during dissident's meetings, the spies
asked strange questions," wrote Maung Maung.

The spies enjoy special privileges, he said. They have passports
and receive salaries from Slorc. "If they are caught [by Thai
police], they are freed almost immediately," he noted.

The spy story is nothing new to most Burmese. In 1994, the
Thai-language newspaper Naew Na published a front-page story
quoting a source in Thailand's Foreign Ministry, who said Slorc,
under the command of Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, was planning to send five
spies to work in the Burmese defence office in Bangkok, with the
aim of expanding its intelligence network and espionage activities.

Not surprisingly, the allegations triggered more finger pointing
in Bangkok. "Rubbish," said one of the accused spies, an asylum
seeker in Bangkok. But the person added that two out of the seven
are widely suspected to be spies. He had his own questions. "Who
is Maung Maung?" "What is his real intention?" "Is he himself a
spy?" "Is he trying to muddle things?"

In spite of that, it would hardly be surprising even if the seven
were found to be spies or informers for Slorc.

Padoh Laina, a former KNU official, was one of the seven spies,
according to the article in Artit. But a close friend of Laina
said otherwise. "It's absolutely not true. " Sources in Chiang
Mai said the rumour around the city was that Laina may be an
informer. It was learned that Laina supported the Karen Buddhist
group which broke away from the KNU earlier this year. Laina is
currently in the US, added his friend.

"If you don't like somebody, then spread a rumour that he/she is
an informer or spy. But that is not right," said Than Oo, who is
a former member of BIG. He is also alleged to be one of the seven
spies. He said he had been preparing to send his own statement to
Artit to refute the allegations.

Whether or not that is true, it is a fact that Burma's military
intelligence units keep a watchful eye on political opponents not
only at home but also abroad, and particularly in Thailand where
thousands of political dissidents have sought refuge.

Soon after the September 1988 coup, thousands of activists fled
to the jungle and came to Thailand. But they also included Slorc
informers and infiltrators, who, however, declared themselves as
freedom fighters.

They then penetrated the many dissident groups that were based
along the Burmese-Thai border.

"They are around," said a former dissident who has been based in
Chiang Mai since the 70s. "Many [informers and spies] masqueraded
as traders, brokers and activists," he said. "They can speak both
Thai and English," he added. After living in Thailand for almost
two decades, he stressed that he takes caution when meeting or
talking with someone on the phone. "You'll never know what can
happen to you."

Indeed, there is a danger and responsibility in making such accusations.

"It is a touch-and-go situation. If we do not have strong
evidence, we should not impute somebody, as he or she would be in
serious danger," said a senior member of the ABSDF.

Without doubt, the price of exposure IS quite high. In 1992 in
Kachin state, approximately 15 alleged spies were executed at a
student army camp. But the mystery was that none was ever
actually proved of really being spies. Analysts at that time
believed the execution was an offshoot of a power struggle and
jealousy within the ABSDF. But because of this, many innocent men
and women have either disappeared or been killed. The question
that remains is, did Slorc need to send 15 spies to a student camp alone?

Sources close to Bangkok-based dissident groups said they
believed there are spies and informers who have already
penetrated the inner circle of opposition groups and community of
asylum-seekers in Thailand. Moreover, there are believed to be
more in the ABSDF and other organizations.

The well-placed source noted that some informers who may be
former activists are working for Thai intelligence units and not
for Slorc. ''We know who they are and what they are doing, but we
cannot do anything," said the source. "The informers" attend the
meetings and gather the records, the source added.

But if it is not in the jungle, execution or indefinite detention
are out of the question, said a member of the ABSDF based on the
Burmese-Thai border. "We have caught spies and informers [since
1998]," said the member, who requested anonymity. He believes the
ABSDF was targeted by Slorc and has been heavily infiltrated since 1988.

It is believed that the ABSDF headed by Dr Naing Aung still has
under detention two or three spies.

"Whenever there was a meeting, they [spies] raised odd issues
which led to serious conflicts among us," said the ABSDF senior
member. He added that he himself had investigated three spies
sent by Slorc. He described the obligation of spies: "Their duty
is not to kill or harm anyone but to create conflicts and
divisions among us." The spies, he said, were very divisive at
meetings. Later, the ABSDF discovered a spy ring, he recalled,
after one spy confessed. It was believed that many alleged spies
or informers were severely tortured. One Burmese man staying in
Thailand said with anger after he learned of the Artit story: "If
they are spies, they must be killed." One former activist was
bewildered to see the recent article because his friend was one
of the seven spies alluded to. He asked: "I stayed with him
[alleged spy] for four years and now he is accused of being a
spy? How can I believe this? Who can I trust?"

Are they [seven alleged spies] working for Slorc? There is a
current impasse among Burmese dissidents. But Slorc is a winner
in this "spy battle" with its foes. Dissidents are divided and do
not trust each other.

Aung Zaw is a free-lance writer. He contributed this article to The Nation.


November 10, 1995   
Gary Way talks to one of Burma's last book restorers

At a downtown Rangoon bookstore, in a lane which proprietor Ay
Ban Kyi "choose for it's quietness", the old man patiently inserts a page 
into an old hard-cover book. When he completes the task he leans back, 
content another piece of Burmese literature has been preserved.

"It's dying out," he said, waving to the book before him and
referring to his craft as a restorer of ancient books. "I am
alone in Southeast Asia, the younger men are not interested in
books anymore, only in television.

The recent increase in road traffic and construction outside his
door, as the country slowly lifts it's veil to the outside world,
may have defeated his choice of location, but not his
determination to save what remains of Burma's literary.

Regarded as the countries foremost expert in the preservation of
literature, the 66-year old "former merchant" has been patiently
repairing and collecting old books and in the process giving
scholars and universities within- and outside of Burma historical
insights on the nation's cultural past.

Probably referred to as a harmless "bookworm" in the West, a term
he accepts as a compliment, his undertakings have a far more
serious aspect in Burma where printing presses have laid idle for
the past 30 years. Except for occasional outbursts of government
propaganda, a large vacuum has been left in the literary

Though his subjects are firmly rooted in the past, he hopes the
preservation of his precious books the country will provide a
base from which literature will once again re-emerge.

"The literature is still developing in Burma, for the last 800 to
a 1,000 years we have been writing in prose form, only after 1900
we started writing in normal form." Kyi said.

As the National Library is still off limits to foreigners and
most of the books laying in boxes waiting to be repaired, Kyi is
also constantly sought out as a source of reference by visiting
scholars, diplomats and journalists.

Though he admits restoring books is usually passed from
generation to generation he explained it was the socialist-led
coup in 1962 that led him to become involved in books.

"I never studied I only read, by 1964 everything was gone, my
hobby was books so I started selling them"

Pointing to some of the 50,000 books that he has since collected,
he chuckled "I am rich in books only, if you look for money it's
not such a good business."

Mainly specializing in Burma, religion, philosophy and Southeast
Asia, he explained how many of the books came into his possession.

"Some Englishmen married Burmese ladies, their children grew up
to be ambassadors and brought me books back, then diplomats from
other countries took them away during the socialist regime." he said.

Though loathe to lose more books overseas, he's resigned that it
may be the best place for them, with the lack of air
conditioning, high humidity and the abundance of paper eating
insects in Burma, his rare books are rapidly decaying.

"The old books are very hard to find now, the paper they were
printed on is no good, we have plenty of books in Burma but they
just disintegrate before they are 75 years old." he said.

"I think they are living things, they are not a commodity. I
actually like second-hand books. The printing industry started
500 years ago each book has a little something of it."

Since 1992, the 20-year ban on the import of books has been
slightly eased, and politically neutral topics such as physics
and accounting and novels such as George Orwell's Burmese Days,
with it's satirical portrayal of British colonial rule, are allowed for sale.

Though he doesn't really care for them, Kyi stocks such titles
and coffee table books which he sells to tourists to supplement his income.

With the starting price of a rare book at $100, and written in
Burmese, he is well aware they are out of the reach of the
average citizen and only of interest to visiting scholars.

Though the government has relaxed its grip on power and reopened
the universities after a closing them down in 1989, there are few
other signs pointing to a literary renaissance on the horizon.

Newspapers are still strictly controlled by the Ministry of
Information and the publication of any form of literature without
official permission is strictly prohibited. Several of Burma's
leading writers have also been arrested and jailed for "dissident

With this in mind, Kyi looks to the future with a patience
garnered from the years painstakingly spent repairing his books,
"We have so many clubs to form, history, publishing ... but now
it is not possible, we have a long way to go."


November 11, 1995

RANONG Governor Siri Chavanavirach yesterday urged the Burmese
authorities to help arrest 13 Burmese suspects involved In n the killing of six 
Thai fishermen aboard a Thai vessel off the Burmese coast last Sunday.

He urged the Burmese to reply within 10 days to the Thai request,
saying that Burma should reciprocate Thailand's previous assistance in 
arresting the Thai fishermen who killed at least two Burmese co-workers 
aboard a Thai fishing boat in early August.

Siri said the Burmese attack aboard the Paknamranong 5 has badly
shaken Thai fishermens' morale, and that he would not let the
victims' deaths be for nothing.

"Even the Burmese considered [the Thai attack on the Burmese
fishermen] so serious that they sealed off the border," he said.

" As an administrative official, I will not let their [the Thais'] deaths 
be in vain. At least I will let the world know it is not only Thais hurting 
Burmese, but Burmese hurting Thais, too. Within 10 days the Burmese 
authorities will have to tell us why the Thais were killed and where the 13 
Burmese [suspects] are," said the governor.

He said he did not understand why the Burmese authorities have
made no response to the disturbing incident, particularly as Thai
authorities arrested the Thai crewmen involved in the August

"The Burmese must show their sincerity toward the problem. We
have shown ours," he said.

However, the governor said the border checkpoint at Ranong would
not be closed for the moment. "We will wait to hear from them
[the Burmese first," said the governor after a meeting with
officials from other government agencies concerned.

Supreme Commander Gen Wiroj Saengsanit yesterday said he believed
the incident would not affect ongoing attempts to settle border
disputes between the two countries.

He believed the Burmese would agree to resume construction of the
Thai-Burmese bridge across the Moei River when Burmese Deputy
Prime Minister Maung Muang Khin meets his Thai counterpart, Gen
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, next week. The Burmese minister was
invited by the Thai government to pay an official five-day visit
which begins next Tuesday.

Thailand has sent several high-ranking officials to Rangoon to
persuade the Burmese junta to reopen the three border passages
with Thailand which have been closed since early this year after
several border disputes and incidents. The Burmese also halted
construction of the Moei River bridge at that time

Burma closed Kawtiaung crossing with Thailand's southern Ranong
province after the killing of two Burmese fishermen, and demanded
that Thailand arrest the culprits. While Thailand considered the
matter a private-sector crime, the government promptly arrested
the Thai suspects in an attempt to improve bilateral relations
and convince the Burmese to reopen the frontier.

Fisheries Department Secretary-General, Plodprasop Surasawadee
said the incident should be settled following legal procedures,
and the Burmese crewmen sent to Thailand's court since the
killings occurred on a Thai boat.

He said Thailand had turned over the suspects of the August
killings to the Burmese authorities and Rangoon should reciprocate.

However, he suggested a joint-office with absolute authority of
middle level officials of the two countries be set up to oversee
fishing in both countries' waters.

He said the proposed office could be under a government agency,
and pointed out that the joint-office with Vietnam has been successful.

Plodprasop also suggested a joint patrol be launched to ensure
security over territorial borders.

The Navychai and Paknamranong 5 vessels were last week attacked
in Burmese territorial waters and six Thai crewmen were killed.
Burmese seamen mutinied last Saturday morning, according to the
surviving Thai seaman who jumped overboard the Paknamranong 5 and
was rescued by a passing boat. Sophanya Ketwan, 16, reported the
incident to Paknam police on Thursday.

He said the 13 Burmese of the total 20 crew members, mounted a
mutiny on the boat owned by Somkiet Sae Teo and kippered by
Suphol Bampensri.

# Relations between Thailand and Malaysia have been maintained
despite Malaysian authorities "excessive use of force" against a
Thai trawler poaching in Malaysian waters, according to Supreme
Commander Gen Wiroj Saengsanit.

On Monday, a Malaysian navy vessel fired "warning" shots at a
Thai trawler fishing in its waters, which killed the captain and
a boy on board. It was later discovered that the vessel was
riddled with bullet holes.

Army Commander Gen Pramon Palasin said the incident was treated
"too severely" by the Malaysian navy as the boat was only "a
small fishing trawler".


WOUNDS OPENED   November 11, 1995

BURMA and Thailand are exchanging high-level visits over the next
few days amid renewed border tension sparked by the brutal
killings of Thai fishermen by Burmese crews.

Burmese Deputy Prime Minister Maung Maung Khin will lead a
high-level delegation on a five-day official visit to Thailand on Tuesday.

He will be accompanied by the Minister of Hotels and Tourism Lt
Gen Kyaw Ba the Minister for National Planning Brig Gen David
Abel and five other deputy ministers from the ministries of
energy construction, livestock breeding and fisheries, home and
foreign affairs.

The Burmese deputy premier and his 26-member delegation will
proceed from the airport to the Grand Palace where respects will
be paid to the late Princess Mother before calling on Deputy Prime 
Minister Chavalit Yonchaiyudh, his host, at the Defence Ministry.

In the afternoon he will visit the Stock Market, call on Prime Minister 
Banharn Silapa-archa, and attend a welcome dinner hosted by Chavalit.

Maung Maung Khin will visit the office of the Tourism Authority
of Thailand on Wednesday before playing a round of golf.

On Thursday, the Burmese delegation will visit the Petroleum
Authority of Thailand, the Board of Investment and then fly on to
Nakhon Ratchasima to visit the Worldtech 95 fair, and later spend
a night in Pattaya.

He will visit the Eastern Sea Board, the Petrochemical company
and play golf. Chavalit will host another dinner in Pattaya.

The Burmese team will visit Bangpakong industrial estate before travelling 
back to Bangkok. They will return to Burma in the late afternoon.

The government hopes that the trip by Maung Maung Khin, the most
senior Burmese official to visit Thailand, will help improve
bilateral relations which have been strained since early this
year following several border conflicts.

The Burmese junta, known as the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc), has accused Thailand of abetting and supporting
anti-Rangoon ethnic Burmese guerrilla groups, including opium
warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army (MTA), and of reclaiming land on
the bank of the Moei River.

Slorc retaliated by closing the Tachilek and Myawaddy border
crossings with Thailand and suspended the construction of a
Thai-Burmese bridge across the Moei River. It later shut the last
border checkpoint at southern Kawthaung after the killing of Burmese 
fishermen aboard a Thai fishing vessel by Thai crewmen in early August.

Informed sources said they had expected Maung Maung Khin to
announce the reopening of at least one border checkpoint during
his trip here. But the killing on Nov 5 of Thai fishermen by a
group of Burmese aboard a Thai trawler has cast doubts over the
announcement, they said.

They said Thailand. had tried every possible means to appease
Slorc and had sent several senior government officials and military 
officers to Rangoon to convince the junta to reverse its decision.

The sources observed that Slorc was playing a hard game and
despite efforts by the government to please, including the arrest
of Thai suspects in the killing o Burmese fishermen and the
dismantling shophouses on the disputed Moei Rive bank, Rangoon
still had not heeded the Thai requests.

Foreign Minister Kasem S Kasemsri will tomorrow embark on a
hectic two-day visit to Burma where he will try to improve soured
bilateral ties.

Kasem will be the latest in a series of senior government and
military officials to make a trip to Rangoon in the past few
months in an attempt to convince the Burmese junta to reopen
border checkpoints closed since early this year and to resume the
construction of the Moei River bridge linking the two countries.

The foreign minister said earlier that his visit was aimed at
paving the way for a visit by Prime Minister Banharn Silapaarcha.
Banharn would be the first premier to travel to Burma since
premier Prem Tinsulanond about a decade ago.

Kasem will call on Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, a senior member in the
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) tomorrow
afternoon. His Burmese counterpart U Ohn Gyaw will host a welcome
dinner for him that day.

On Monday morning he will hold talks with Ohn Gyaw. After the
meeting he will make a courtesy call on Slorc leader Gen Than
Shwe and afterwards meet Trade Minister Tun Kyi.

Kasem will fly back to Bangkok- in the afternoon.


THE THAI SEX INDUSTRY   November 4, 1995 
(editor's note: not sure this is the correct date)


While many Thai prostitutes are leaving Thailand to earn a higher
income in other richer countries, many women from neighboring
countries, particularly the Burmese, are leaving their homes to
ply the sex trade in Thailand.

At present, Thailand not only exports but also imports
prostitutes. The sex industry has grown, and consequently, the
number of AIDS carriers has been higher.

In this connection, the Foundation for Women has initiated a
project called "HIV/AIDS Intervention for Burmese Women and Girls
in Thailand," with the major objective of creating understanding
about AIDS among Burmese and indigenous women in Thailand.

The project also aims to present work opportunities other than the sex 
industry, to Burmese and other indigenous women in Thailand.

According to an Asia Watch report here are about 30,000 Burmese
women working in the sex industry in Thailand.

"Compared to Thai prostitutes, they know nothing about AIDS, so
most of them are in greater danger," said Siriporn Sirobanek,
secretary-general of the Foundation.

"They don't know how to protect themselves. They cannot even
convince their customers to use a condom," she said.

In a research done by the Foundation which interviewed 21 Burmese
prostitutes between 18 and 22 years of age there emerged two
major groups of Burmese prostitutes in Thailand.

One group is composed of those who have been kidnapped or
coerced. The other group is made up of women who freely chose to
work in the sex trade, hoping to earn a big amount of money and
improve the lives of their families in the provinces.

"Many of them are below 18 years old, and few have finished
elementary education," said Foundation researcher Praphakorn

"They do not understand the Thai language, so all the AIDS and
pregnancy prevention campaigns in Pasa Thai completely escape
them," she said.

Although many brothel owners encourage their prostitutes to
convince patrons to use a condom, the sex workers are still
exposed to the danger of HIV infection.

Praphakorn told of some brothels that ostensibly promote the use
of condoms to reassure customers that their brothels are clean
but actually distribute substandard condoms.

Praphakorn told of the case of a Burmese prostitute who was infected with 
the HIV virus although she was well-informed about AIDS had always asked 
her customers to use a condom during sexual intercourse

"The tragedy happened because she was given low-quality condoms,"
said Praphakorn.

In Ranong, a border province where it only takes the Burmese 30
minutes to cross to Thailand, the local prostitutes face a higher
risk of AIDS infection more than In any other area.

The province has over 100,000 Burmese labourers due to the expanding 
labour industry, which in turn causes helps the local sex industry to grow.

However, since the Chuan Government launched the policy of sex
industry suppression in 1993, there are fewer brothels now. Surprisingly 
though, the number of sex workers did not decrease much.

Instead of working in brothels, Burmese women work as waitresses
in restaurants. At the same time, they are also prostitutes: As a result, it has 
become even more difficult for officials and NGO workers to pinpoint those 
who need to be informed about the risks of AIDS infection.

Prior to 1994, only two or three restaurants were in the sex
trade. At present, there are as much as 30 restaurants in Ranong
province that offer sex with the menu.

Apart from the Koh Song-Ranong route, the Burmese women also come
to Thailand through the Tachilek-Mae Sai route in Chiang Rai
province. and the Myawaddy-Mae Sot route in Tak province.