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An Appeal to Prime Minister Banharn

Subject: An Appeal to Prime Minister Banharn Silapa-archa Fax: 66-2-281-1169

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Burmese Relief Center -- Japan
Tel: (07442) 2-8236  Fax: (07442) 4-6254

December 1, 1995


While the Burmese military is ranting against Nobel Peace
Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and making vicious
threats to "annihilate'' anyone who tries to disrupt the state, Thai
authorities are moving against Burmese pro-democracy
activists.  These Burmese patriots have sought asylum in
Thailand from the implacable political oppression in their
homeland.  While in the Kingdom they have devoted themselves
to working non-violently to bring peace, democracy, and human
rights to Burma by ending the military dictatorship.

Veteran Burmese journalist U Ye Gaung, 75, and his wife were
recently arrested when Thai police raided the offices of Khit
Pyaing, or New Era Journal, a vital, independent Burmese
newspaper with a worldwide circulation.  Because the official
Burmese media are entirely controlled and wholly unreliable,
Khit Pyaing offers Burmese readers a vibrant, clear, uncensored
alternative view of the world in general and Burma in

The only "crime" of the other detained dissidents was their
intention to undertake a hunger strike to protest the Burmese
military's attempt to enshrine its oppression in the sham
constitution being written by its hand picked minions.  These
students reportedly have already met Australia's stringent
requirements for refugee status; their protest was to be silent
and peaceful.

In recent years over 3 million Burmese refugees have sought
safety in Thailand.  Too many of them have found, however,
that Thailand offers no escape from persecution.  Detainees in
Thai prisons are subjected to conditions far below standards set
by the International Red Cross, with severe overcrowding,
inadequate food, plus the threat of violence by guards, who are
often particularly prejudiced against Burmese.  

The Thai government has a long history of vested interests
inside Burma; the Thai military has strong fraternal ties with
the Burmese military SLORC (State Law and Order
Restoration Council).  Thailand has numerous logging and
fishing concessions in Burma.  Thailand also stands to profit
from hydroelectric dams and gas pipelines soon to be built from
inside Burma.  Thailand calls this "constructive engagement"
while those committed to Burmese democracy call it
opportunism and oppression of their movement.  

We urge the Thai authorities to end their mistreatment of
patriotic Burmese, to free journalist U Ye Gaung and his wife
and all imprisoned Burmese students.  If Thailand cannot
support the aspirations of the people of Burma for democracy,
peace, and human rights, we call on the Thai government to at
least remain neutral by ending its persecution of Burmese
dissidents within the Kingdom.