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The Irrawaddy

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Burma Information Group:
VOLUME 3, Nos 23-25
Produced by the Burma Information Group


Irrawaddy Vol. 3, No. 23
Slorc arrests man for passing disinformation
5 October 1995

MILITARY intelligence officials have arrested a man allegedly 
sent false information about to a Bangkok based dissident 
group, the state-owned newspaper New Light of Myanmar said.
Ye Htut, 27, was arrested September 27. Military 
intelligence officers said he had incriminating documents and 
admitted sending fabricated information to Aung Zaw, alias Kyi 
Zaw, leader of the Bangkok-based Burma Information Group. Ye 
Htut said he had been paid for his services by the Burma 
Information Group since 1992. He also admitted sending 
information to dissidents in Canada, the paper said.
Burma Information Group publishes several newsletters 
critical of the military government including The Irrawaddy, 
Radio Burma and Burma Issue.
The newsletters are regularly sent to the United States 
Congress, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the 
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the paper said. (BP)

(Here is BIG's recent statement and explanation. Ed.)

	On Sept 28 Win Win Htay in Ottawa received a phone call 
from Rangoon. She could not help but pray. She was informed that 
her brother, Ye Htut, had been taken in for questioning by 
Burma's  military intelligence. 
	Afterwards, she called friends in Washington and Bangkok. 
She then tried to console herself by thinking that there had just been 
a misunderstanding.  A week later, the official New Light of Myanmar 
reported, "Author of concoctions on Myanmar for anti-government groups 
nabbed." Ye Htut, 27, admitted having sent "concocted reports" 
to dissidents in Canada and Thailand. 
	The state-owned media said action is to be taken against Ye 
Htut, who allegedly received payment for coming  up with reports that 
were used to "mislead other nations" with regards to views on Burma. 
	Ye Htut also allegedly sent false news to the Burma 
Information Group (BIG) in Thailand, the newspaper reported. 
But nothing was heard from Ye Htut himself as he never had a 
chance to tell his side of story. Nor did he even have a right 
to question why Burmese officials opened his letters. 
In reality, Ye Htut has disappeared since Sept 2 and family 
members still do not know where he is being held. Win Win Htay, a 
former political activist now residing in Canada, is a former member 
and full-time local correspondent for BIG.
	Since 1992, BIG had been trying to subscribe to the New 
Light of Myanamr  but it never received any reply from the publications' 
subscription department. 
	Finally, Win Win Htay decided to contact other members of 
family, as well as friends, and asked them if they could send her official 
newspapers and magazines. It was Ye Htut who agreed to do this work 
without knowing what the consequences of his actions would be. 
	All the while, Ye Htut believed he had been sending those 
materials only to his sisters and her friends.  As such, he was regularly 
sending copies of the New Light of Myanmar and other publications 
approved by officials. Additionally, he wrote letters to his sister. 
	Win Win Htay noted that most of the correspondence with her 
brother focused on family matters. "I like writing a lot. I considered it 
[writing letters to family members] normal because there weren't any sensitive
issues involved," she said in a recent interview.
	"I didn't think personal letters would effect my brother." 
But like many other Burmese Ye Htut may be one of those who 
believe in democracy. To many Burmese officials this can be a threat. 
	In his letters, Ye Htut complained about the rising prices.  
He wrote about sports, increasing traffic in Rangoon, the 
lives of Burma's famous movie stars and singers, opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Aids in Burma, the weather and etc. 
Ironically, Ye Htut sent copies of daily newspapers like the 
New Light of Myanmar and The Mirror. Were both of these papers 
publishing false and concocted reports in their pages? 
It is surprising that Burmese officials made a big issue out 
of it at all. They went to the extend of exaggerating Ye Htut 
was an enemy of the state because he sent false reports abroad.
As for their charge that Ye Htut sent "concocted news" to 
BIG in exchange for payment, the truth is BIG never employed 
anyone in Burma because it knew "the person" would be in 
serious and immediate danger if found out. 
	Nevertheless, Win Win Htay herself had agreed to assist the 
organization by availing it of copies of newspapers and magazines. 
Like Ye Htut, hundreds of Burmese send similar letters to 
their friends, and family and relatives residing in other countries. 
	In fact, the BBC World Service in London receives dozens of 
letters weekly from Burma. Some of these letters are broadcast in Burmese 
in the "letters to the editor" section, which commands a substantial 
Burmese audience. Most letters touched on injustice, repression, forced 
labour, high prices, arbitrary arrests and detention, and support to Suu Kyi 
and politicians. 
	Burmese officials and military supporters also send letters 
to this section. Obviously, they enjoyed freedom of expression.
If the ruling junta known as the State Law and Order 
Restoration Council has any real intention on cracking down on 
letters, they might need to arrest hundreds of Burmese all 
over the country. Why did they single out Ye Htut? What is 
their real intention? Why are they fretting over this man? Was 
it a strong warning to people in Burma who send letters to 
their friends or relatives abroad? 
	In truth, Ye Htut's arrest only demonstrates that the 
military intelligence services actually open and read all 
letters going in and out of the country. 
	Human Rights Watch/Asia said recently in a statement that it 
believed Ye Htut had been arrested "solely for having sent 
information to friends and contacts abroad," which under 
international law could not be characterized as criminal 
behavior. However, it seems that under Slorc's laws Burmese 
apparently have no right to write and send letters freely. 
The Slorc-controlled media criticism of the BIG also 
suggests that Burma's intelligence officers have no clue as to 
what BIG is all about, but openly considered it as a only seen 
as a "dissident group." 
	BIG was established in 1992 in Thailand by Burmese and 
foreigners mainly to enable Burma to have an independent voice 
since local radio, newspapers and television are completely 
controlled by the ruling junta. 
	Since 1988, several newsletters and bulletins have been 
published by dissident groups and political organizations at 
home and abroad, although most of them were anti-Slorc.
One of the organization's founding principles states "BIG 
decided to strive for impartial and independent news reporting." 
Since 1992, BIG has been producing reliable, uncensored and 
impartial information on Burma.  More importantly, BIG is not 
affiliated with any political party or organization. 
	BIG produces the Irrawaddy newsletters twice a month and 
also publishes reports that document regarding the national 
convention, human rights abuses and progress of discussions at 
the national convention. It also conducts political analyses on Burma.
Considering the situation there, reports from independent 
news agencies and the international media are necessary and 
play a pivotal role as an alternative source of news on Burma 
where press freedom has been dead for many years. 
BIG is one of several media groups that provides an 
alternative news service to the state-controlled media and 
opposition-controlled bulletins. 
	In its 1995 mid-year report, BIG said "It hopes that this 
news service will continue to develop and serve the great need 
for independent reporting on Burma."
	In addition, if one looked closely at the Irrawaddy 
newsletters, it easy to see that 65 per cent of news reports 
are reproduced from the Nation, Bangkok Post, Asian Wall 
Street Journal, Asiaweek, Far Eastern Economic Review, the New 
Light of Myanmar, the BBC World Service, Voice of America and 
other regional and local newspapers and magazines. Only 35 per 
cent of news is derived from its own sources. 
	This newsletter keeps most Burmese expatriates, Burma 
support groups, and Burma watchers from the US, Canada, 
Australia, England, the Middle East, Germany and Asean 
countries abreast with what is going on in Burma.
BIG has also reproduced articles that appeared in the New 
Light of Myanmar. Were they "false reports" and concocted news?"
The ruling junta accused BIG of being a "dissident group." 
But BIG has nothing to hide. While it is true that some BIG 
members living in Burma participated in the 1988 democracy 
movement, this should not be held against them as at least a 
million other Burmese took to the streets then as well. It is 
already a thing of the past.
	At present, there aren't any more "dissidents nor activists" 
in the organization as BIG requires only independent-minded 
reporters and workers. BIG's founding principles stipulates that it 
would only accept independent-minded individual.  It is a critical time 
for Burma it urgently needs independent newspapers and newsletters. 
BIG is determined to fill that role.
	Last year, BIG was criticised by some opposition groups in 
exile for having pointed to their weakness, factionalism, 
infighting, and lack of leadership role.  Besides the Irrawaddy Slorc 
alleges BIG also produces Burma Issues and Radio Burma. The latter two 
are actually  produced by non-governmental organizations based in Thailand.
In its 1994-5 proposal, it was noted that "in the future, BIG's real intention 
is to publish an independent newspaper in Burma should press freedom 
be restored." (Burma Information Group)


Irrawaddy Vol. 3 No. 23

Col Kyaw Thein of military intelligence officer came to 
Thailand in October. He and his group held a talks with senior 
Karen leaders. It was the first time the two sides met, a 
source said. "It was just the beginning," added the source. 
But reports in Thai local dailies indicated Karen will sign in 
the end of this year. In a related development, Kyaw Thein reportedly 
told Karen leaders that Slorc is divided in to three. He is belonged to one 
faction led by Khin Nyunt. (BIG)

Irrawaddy Vol. 3, No. 23
Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe

	With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and Cory Aquino's 
earlier people's power revolution, it indeed seemed that the 
world, and Southeast Asia too, would be shaped by economic and 
political freedom, i.e., by the free market economy and 
"middle class" democracy. 
	The 1988 uprising in Burma which toppled Ne Win's one-man 
rule seemed part of a global democratization process.  Quite unexpectedly, 
however, outside actors... Singapore, China and the Thai military- stepped 
in to shore up the new military junta, Slorc, which emerged to forestall 
bloodily the rollback of authoritarianism. 
	This was followed in 1989 by an equally bloody Dengist 
rollback of the democratization aspirations of the Chinese people. Since 
then, there has been solidified what could be called a "free market, 
authoritarian front" of Chinese and Asean leaders and governments.
	The line pushed by the powerful front is that economic 
development must be (and can be) achieved without the 
contamination of such "Western" notions as human rights and 
individual freedoms, genuine people's sovereignty, public 
constraints of rulers, etc. 
	The clash between capitalist authoritarianism and capitalist 
democracy is precisely what Samuel Huntington's coming "clash 
of civilizations" scenario is all about.  The point to note is that the clash 
appears "cultural" only because culture, instead of the communist threat,
is now being used to defend authoritarian rule. 
	In substance, the Chinese-Asean authoritarian development 
model, shorn of its cultural icings, can be seen as nothing less than an 
attempt by authoritarian leaders to prevent a rollback of authoritarianism.. 
now justified on cultural grounds.
	The clash between authoritarianism and democracy is made 
complex by the economic success of "Asian" authorita-rianism, 
particularly in China (and by the "Asian dragons"), and the 
economic decline of democracies. 
	The perception of the West's economic decline has in turn 
unleashed a "cultural war" especially in the United States, whereby 
structures of democratic capitalism have come under increasing attack 
by conservatives as obstructing "wealth makers" (and "job-creators") and 
as the "coddling" of unenterprising elements, i. e.., the poor, the minorities 
(including immigrants, illegal and otherwise), welfare recipients, and so on.
	From a wider theoretical perspective, it seems that the collapse 
of communism has impelled authoritarian regimes to come up with a new 
paradigm in defence of authoritarianism. In this connection, there can be 
discerned a congruence of interest between national rulers and powerful, 
extranational economic actors to contain democracy, perhaps because 
democracy gives the powerless the capacity to "obstruct" profit-taking 
(on a global-regional scale). 
	A possible outcome of such a congruence of interest could be 
the transformation of national governments into "executive committees" 
(to quote Marx) of extranational entrepreneurs and investors, not only in 
the "Third World" and the former communist bloc, but even in the West as 
well.  The above trend is a global one, and it is unfortunate that Burma is 
now an arena where the opening battle of the global war between efficient 
wealth-making (espoused by authoritarian rulers and conservatives) and 
democratic capitalism (aspired to by the ruled) is being fought.
	In Burma, the battle is an unequal one since external support for 
democratic capitalism is, to quote a famous playwright, "all sound and fury, 
signifying nothing" whereas support for Slorc has been significant since it has 
fulfilled the role expected of national governments of the post-cold war, new 
world order as an executive committee for extranational wealth-accumulators 
and profit-takers.  

Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe is a Ph.D. candidate at the University 
of British Columbia, who is writing his dissertation on 
military intrusion into politics in Burma, Thailand and 
Indonesia. He also teaches in the Political Science Department 
at Simon Fraser University. His late father, Sao Shwe Thike is 
Burma's first president and died in prison after Gen Ne Win 
took power in 1962.


Irrawaddy Vol.3,  No.24
Khin Maung Nyunt

	Just after the coup that took place in Burma on September 18, 
1988, the Slorc vowed and made known worldwide to establish 
democracy based on the true will of the people with 
participation of political parties in Burma. In addition, the 
then coup leader, Gen Saw Maung made a promise that soldiers 
would return to barracks after transferring power to the 
government by the people's representatives who were to be 
elected in elections. 
	Well, let's recall the political events that followed. General 
elections were held in May 1990 and the NLD won most of the seats 
with overwhelming support from the people. Then, the Slorc declared 
that drawing up of a new constitution was a must before the transfer of 
power.Thus, the National Convention was organised with the Slorc 
handpicked delegates and M.Ps elected by the people. Anyhow, 
the number of the former is much larger than that of the latter! 
	At the sessions of the Convention, the Slorc has 
manipulated through the former to include such strange, 
substandard and undemocratic clauses as Parliament must 
consist of not only people's representatives but also those 
chosen by Tatmadaw (armed forces); Tatmadaw must take a 
leading role in national politics; a coup can be staged by the 
commander-in-chief of Tatmadaw in times of national chaos, 
disorder and danger; Head of the State must be a typical citizen of 
Burma, not married to a foreigner. These are just a few to mention.
	The National Convention and a new constitution which would 
be adopted at the end of this year or in the following year, 
reflect the true colour of the Slorc instead of transferring 
power back to its own people, it consolidates its present 
position with the aim of making Tatmadaw a sole and 
uncontested heir of political power in Burma.
Almost after six years of house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has 
been released because of pressure and the confidence of the 
Slorc in itself. Since the release, Suu Kyi has persistently 
requested the Slorc to open a dialogue in order to cooperate 
and coordinate efforts for a timely national reconciliation 
and rebuilding of the country, one of the poorest nations in 
the world today despite its richness in natural resources and....
Gen Ne Win who foolishly clung to power for 26 years by 
using Tatmadaw as a stooge, has virtually destroyed Burma and 
its people in almost every sphere of life education, health, 
economy, national character and so on. We Burmese have already 
had very painful lessons at the expense of our identity in the 
world today. Enough is enough. Now, it's a national duty and 
responsibility of every citizen of Burma not to let that 
history be repeated.
	When my friends and I were at the Defence Services Academy 
(DSA) in Burma from 1955 to 1959, we had to learn a lesson 
called Appreciation in military science in order to draw up 
practical strategy and tactic that would in turn guarantee 
victory over a potential enemy. 
	Now, the time would be a bit late but I sincerely believe 
there are still some workable options left. For this reason, 
may I take this opportunity as a last earnest request to all 
professional soldiers of Tatmadaw and some of my friends who 
still hold positions in the Slorc to do a genuine appreciation 
again for proper understanding and recognition of facts and 
situation, not relating to any possible enemy this time, but 
for our country and people who have longed for genuine 
democracy and a true national reconciliation since March 2, 1962.

The author is the graduate of DSA's first batch. In 1965 he 
was detained along with Brig-Gen Aung Gyi, Col Kyi Maung and 
other military officers for their democratic ideas. He was 
released in October 1968. In 1972, he joined Parliamentary 
Democracy Party led by the late Prime Minister U Nu, waging an 
arm-revolution against Ne Win. In late 1974, he resigned from 
the revolution. Since then, he has been living in Thailand as 
a political exile. He contributed this article to the Irrawaddy.


Irrawaddy Vol 3, No. 23

	Everyday on TV Myanmar program, the Slorc publicizes 
its biggest development projects. At the top of the list is the 
Kabaw valley development program New life projectö. Kabaw 
valley is located in northern Sagaing division, close to India-Burma 
border. It seemed to be part of the border development project.
The following interview with a former prisoner who had to 
work on the Kabaw project sheds light on the true conditions 
of Slorc projects.)

ôPlease allow me not to use my name and village. I am a Karen, 
Buddhist and married. My friends and I cut down trees and sold 
them to Thai traders. We had to give 500 baht a week to 
Slorc's army camp. In the beginning of 1993, we were arrested 
by a patrol from another unit and put on trial in Myawaddy. 
The court sentenced me to 3 years in prison. I was beaten in 
the early days in police detention cell and the Moulmein 
prison. Four months later, Moulmein prison authorities sent me 
to the Rangoon-Mandalay road project. It was only 6 or 7 miles 
from Rangoon and my duty was to crush stones. I was chained 
because the rule said all prisoners at work camps have to stay 
one year in chains. About two months later, they sent me to 
Kalewa hydro-electricity project. I had to work two months for 
a contractor who paid  80 kyats a day for a prisoner to prison 
authorities. But we received nothing and the food we had was 
the worst we had ever had. Then, we were sent to Kabaw valley 
work camp, in the northern part of Kalewa. It was the camp for 
those who had to clear thousands of acres of land for rice planting.
	There were always over one thousand prisoners. If there 
were less than one thousand prisoners, they brought more  from 
other prisons. Our duties were to clear the ground and grow 
rice for all seasons. There were no machines or draft animals. 
We cut down trees and removed them and stones (to create 
fields), ploughed the ground, grew seedlings, transplanted 
them and did everything. Those who did not know how to do it 
were beaten. The work started from about 9 a.m (mist usually 
disappears around 9 o'clock in that hilly region) and finished at 4 a.m. 
	The authorities issued only one blanket per person even 
when it was very cold. There was a clinic which had no medicines. 
Seriously sick prisoners were allowed to rest. Food wasn't bad 
(we ate meat once a week) but the work was very hard. At least 
one or two prisoners died everyday. The maximum number of dead 
was six in one day in the hot season. They died because of 
fever, exhaustion and cholera. Some died because trees fell on 
them. Cutting trees and removing them was very dangerous and 
hard. Ten prisoners from Moulmein prison worked together with 
me at Kabaw valley project. When I left, only two were alive. 
I worked nearly 2 years there before I was released. The Slorc 
proudly publicized that Kabaw New Life project was part of 
its successful development program. But for us, it was the 
hell. To us, it was the New Death project. (BIG)

This story was interviewed and translated by Min.


Irrawaddy Vol 3 No. 23

Dear Editors,
	I have read your commentary on U Thaung's Bangkok Post 
article, Blank cheque for Aung San Suu Kyi, in your esteemed 
newsletter of 15 August 1995. For fairness' sake kindly let 
met share my different point of view with your readers regarding this article.
	U Thaung's good works for the sake of Burma's struggle for 
democracy are appreciable and, as one of the most well-known 
old hand journalists living outside Burma, his tireless effort 
for Burma's freedom are really admirable. However, I was 
indeed shocked by the said article in which he opposed the 
inclusion of the ethnic leaders in the widely supported demand 
for a tripartite dialogue between the present military 
government, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi And other political leaders, 
including representatives from the ethnic groups. 
	Far from being a demand made by one or two dissident 
voices from stray politicians abroad (sic!) as he has mentioned in 
his article, the tripartite dialogue has actually been advocated by Daw 
Aung San Suu Kyi, the United Nations and the political actors at the 
front-line of the democratic struggle such as the National Coalition 
Government of Union of Burma, Democratic Alliance of Burma, 
National Democratic Front, All Burma Student Democratic Front, 
National League for Democracy (Liberated Areas), National Council of 
the Union of Burma, the Kachin Independence Organisation and the 
underground All Burma Students Union active inside Burma.
	In supporting this tripartite dialogue Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 
stated that ôit has always been the firm conviction of those working for 
democracy in Burma that it is only through meaningful dialogue between 
diverse political forces that we can achieve national reconciliation, which 
is the first and most vital requisite for a united and prosperous country. 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's demand for a 100% support from the entire 
Burmese people does not mean to exclude the ethnic leaders from the 
proposed tripartite dialogue. The keywords in her concept are "national 
reconciliation" and building "a united and prosperous country".
	Two times in his article U Thaung emphasized that to 
prioritize the ethnic problem ahead of the democratic process 
would certainly delay the march toward the goal. The concept 
of national reconciliation actually prioritizes neither the 
ethnic problem nor the democratic process but is a process by 
itself and the absence of the ethnic leaders in the tripartite 
dialogue would make the national reconciliation process 
completely meaningless. The ethnic issue and the long standing 
civil war has been undeniably the main source from which the 
military has built up its power and eventually kicked the 
civilian politicians out of power. Thus, the key three 
political players throughout our history since Independence 
have been ethnic groups, the military and the civilian 
politicians. It is surprising to read U Thaung's further 
statement that "it is obvious that as almost all ethnic groups 
signed the cease-fire agreement, what they want is nothing but 
a chair at the meeting table for themselves." The present 
ceasefire agreements, made between the military regime and 
some ethnic organisations, are, of course, complicated if not 
analytically assessed in light of historical context of Burma's civil war.
	Burma needs a genuine nation-wide ceasefire and peace 
parleys to stop bloodshed and to alleviate the sufferings of 
the people, and to pave the way for a peaceful political 
atmosphere conducive for national reconciliation to proceed. 
The present piece-meal cease-fires, with the military's broken 
promises and breaching of the agreements, have yet to come any 
closer to a long term solution to Burma's political problems 
as envisioned by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic leaders.
	Throughout the history of Burma's civil war almost all 
Burman-led armed revolutions  ceased to exist half-way before 
reaching their declared goals and their leaders surrendered to 
the military rulers leaving behind the ethnic nationalities. 
Some classic examples are the Parliamentary Democracy Party, 
led by the ex-Prime Minister U Nu, Thakhin Soe's Red Flag 
Communist Party of Burma and U Aung San's People's Volunteer 
Organi-sation that had gone underground following his 
assassination and Burma's Independence. 
	General Ne Win managed to make a big media coup in 1980 
with fanciful coverage of his meeting with his battlefield 
adversaries such as U Nu, Thakhin Soe, Bo Thet Htun of the 
White Flag Burma Communist Party and other "back to the legal 
fold" returnees. But the propaganda at that time neither 
convinced the Burmese masses in general nor the ethnic 
nationalities in particular that the struggle for freedom had 
come to an end. Neither did it serve as a point for rejoice 
nor celebration of ôpeaceö restored. But the extinction of 
these armed organisations did not mean that their leaders had 
willingly accepted the military dictatorship. During the 1988 
mass uprisings U Nu and Bo Set Yaung, one of the leaders of 
the underground PVO and nick named ôson of Aung Sanö because 
of his obsessive love and respect for U Aung San, re-emerged 
on the political scene and voiced their opposition against  the one-party 
system. Bo Set Yaung was eventually tortured to death in prison. 
	Even Thakhin Soe, at the height of the 1988 uprisings, 
voiced his support for the people's demand for democracy and 
from his death-bed demanded the military step down! Moreover, 
many of the ex-PDP, CPB, BCP, PVO etc. embraced the people's 
demand for democracy and rejoined the ethnic armed revolutionary 
camps in the jungles after the 1988 uprisings were brutally crushed, 
not to mention the many newly-formed organisations led by our Burman 
brothers that had freshly joined the armed ethnic groups.
	Peace talks or ceasefire agreements made between the 
military regime and the ethnic nationalities and other armed 
organisations prior to 1988 failed to bear fruits and therefore fighting 
resumed again and again. 
	Despite the present ceasefire agreements there is no way of 
saying that the civil war has ended and no one has ever rejoiced nor 
celebrated them as such.  It may be the reason why Daw Aung San Suu 
Kyi said during an interview after her release from the house arrest that 
"now that ceasefire agreements have been made, it is necessary to 
sign peace accords".
	Moreover, the earlier ceasefire groups recently formed an 
alliance called the Peace and Democracy Front, made up of Wa, 
Kokang and three other groups, and jointly declared their support for 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and called for genuine political dialogue. 
NLD members and some elected representatives, including 
members of the ABSDF who have left the liberated areas and 
"surrendered", still voice their support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
	At present the following NDF members have not yet signed 
any ceasefire agreements with the military, namely Arakan 
Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Karen National Union 
Organisation, Palaung State Liberation Front, Pa-O People's 
Liberation Organisation, Wa National Organisation. The Karenni 
National Progressive Party, also a member of NDF that had 
signed a ceasefire agreement, but has recently resumed fighting. 
The other NDF members, the New Mon State Party and the Kayan 
Newland Party still maintain their membership with the front 
despite the cease-fire agreements. Cease-fire or not the 
ethnic organisations remain a significant political force that 
should not be ignored and this force will never simply disappear.
	U Nu's PDP and the White Flag CPB became defunct because 
of their apathy towards the ethnic nationalities' long standing 
demand for mutual respect and national equality in the form of 
federalism. History should not be allowed to repeat itself in 
this way if we are to gain freedom and democracy. 
	It is high time that we all draw lessons from our past 
history and work together towards building a truly united and 
prosperous new federated nation. Tensions arose between the 
ethnic nationalities and the NCGUB when the later failed to 
incorporate the ethnic representatives in the exile government, 
and as a result the NCGUB was unable to secure the vital 100% 
support from the ethnic groups. However, the recent reformation of 
the NCGUB, which has included some federal union and its 
consequent call for "all forces, inside or outside Burma, whether they 
have signed ceasefire agreements, are in the process of negotiating 
ceasefires or are continuing their resistance...., to unite and double 
their efforts...." is a welcome move.
	The NDF, the alliance of the ethnic nationalities, has 
offered its platform as a spring board for the democratic forces from 
the urban areas to expand the struggle for freedom and democracy 
into the international political arena.  Consequently these urbanites 
together with the Burmese exiles contribute enormously for the 
common cause of the entire Burmese people. 
	After a long bloody history that the ethnic nationalities 
have been sharing with the Burmese, many controversies among 
today's front line fighters have, unlike in the past, been relatively overcome. 
At this critical moment of time the mutual understanding, 
respect and solidarity among them to remains strong. Despite 
the different approaches, U Thaung's otherwise good efforts 
for the sake of Burma's freedom and democracy are really valuable.
	Finally, to be realistic, it is important to take note that 
given the present power holders' rather bizarre way of thinking, 
the prospect of the proposed tripartite dialogue remains unclear. 
"To be cautiously optimistic...." and "....to be united" is the message 
to the people from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Salai Kipp Kho Lian
European Burmese Association Hamburg, Germany


Irrawaddy Vol. 3 No. 23

	I, Ms. Win Win Htay, am writing to you concerning the arrest 
of my brother, Ye Htut of Rangoon, by the Burmese government called 
the State Law and Order Restoration Council, Slorc or ôNa Wa Taö. Ye 
Htut, 27 is my full blood younger brother, not my cousin as Slorc 
said. It is true there has been correspondence, once every two/three 
months, between us since the days I fled Burma in September 1988 
after Gen Saw Maung's coup. This is the one and the only curative of 
my nostalgia, in exile first in Thailand and then here, Canada, 
reading letters, few and far between, from my loved ones.
	My brother, Ye Htut, on my insistance, sometimes sent to me 
some monthly Burmese magazines such as Ma Hay Thi, Si Pwar Ye, Dana , 
Ah Pyo Ma and other popular magazines in Burma all passed by the Press 
Scrutiny Board called Sar Pe Si Sit Ye , an agency completely 
manned by Na Wa Ta's Military Intelligence (MI) officers. 
As a matter of fact, Ma Hay Thi is published by an ex Burma Army 
Major turned publisher and is purely a non political magazine. Si 
Pwa Ye and Dana are business magazines published by the pro 
military circles who thrive by collaborating with Slorc, both echoing 
and sometimes even indirectly supporting Slorc's forced developments 
and shun the open-door market economy in which only those in green 
and their newly recruited parasites are thriving. A Pyo Ma or Belle is a 
magazine devoted totally to women's interests and has nothing to do with 
	I know that my relatives and my fellow citizens are living in 
a hellish country under Slorc's iron rule. We strictly limit our 
letters to our own family, such as which of my elders is no more or 
which of my brothers or sisters is getting married to who or who has 
moved to where, to other new places etc. I always make sure that they 
do not mention the situation in Rangoon. Because I do not need to 
know the continuing terrible situation in my native land from them. 
We have ample sources to know about Burma these days, from sources 
such as the Internet or the BBC or the foreign media or even from 
Amnesty in London and so on.
	Two years ago, I was working with the Burma Information Group. 
I asked Ye Htut to enclose some newspaper clippings, from Burma's only 
two newspapers, namely, New Light of Myanmar and the Mirror and 
to send them only by the regular, slow and unsafe government postal 
service to make it legal. 
	None of this was urgent or serious to know I wanted to configure 
things at home in my vague memory by means of this news, so to speak. 
BIG itself asked me to get the newspapers since it did not receive 
any reply from the New Light of Myanmar. 
	My brother did it. His doings were absolutely legal acts, even 
under the existing Laws and Orders of Slorc.
	But when I heard of his arrest by Slorc on the ground that he 
was passing news to Canada, as if Canada is a belligerent country to 
Burma, I was so surprised that my surprise even inundated my anger 
and sorrow. I also heard that he was forced to confess his guilt. But 
I do not understand how this act of writing to a sister abroad has 
become illegal in Slorc's eye. 
	I by no means am an arch political rival of Slorc. I used to work 
for the BIG as an independent stringer. I'm just an exiled Burmese 
who is now going back to school in Canada dreaming that my continuing 
study here might be useful for my native country, Burma, in a time I 
do not know when. My brother, Ye Htut, also is by no means a big guy 
in Burma who can challenge Slorc's power or its military might. He is 
just a daily wage earner who innocently loves his sibling sister who 
has missed the family since 1988.
	All I can say now is that, even here in Canada, half a world 
away from home, I feel that I still am being persecuted by Slorc. I have 
nightmares of Slorc's soldiers torturing my brother. I wonder why 
can't the rest of the world stop Slorc doing these atrocities to 
Burmese people, one of them is Ye Htut, my beloved brother.

Ms. Win Win Htay 


Irrawaddy Vol 3, No. 23

"God I hate it when they do that", says Bob, pointing to the 
same goons in sunglasses who'd stared us down during dinner.

We'd began our night out at the Inya Lake Hotel, reputedly 
the best restaurant in the city (apart from Sylvie's, the 
French alkies' joint). Powdered Cream of Asparagus Soup 
served in a neon lit, Stalinist aircraft hangar. Being 
Saturday night, it was pretty busy with at least five of the 
80-odd tables occupied by paying customers, plus another two 
taken by our dorky looking 'minders'.

Bob's company had recently invested about US$80 million into 
Burma, so he's on the list of people to be protected from 
the pernicious gossip" and "evil influence" of local people. 

He and his young Slorc shadow are inseparable- which would 
certainly set tongues wagging in Bangkok. After eating, we 
head for the Nawarat Hotel, to the only bar in town. And I 
do mean the only bar. Reputedly owned by the daughter of 
General 'No.1' Ne Win, the bar only accepts US dollars or 
American Express cards (God bless'em, never leave Western 
democracies without them).

Quiet during the week, on Fridays and Saturdays, the long 
thin bar is reminiscent of a scene from James Bond. A crush 
of dodgy diplomats, Slorc spies, CIA, the gilded, overweight 
youth of Tatmadaw, Russian prostitutes and me. Slugging down 
tequila and pitchers of draught beer, this bizarre crowd 
know how to party, swaying and boogying to the sensuous, 
pulsating rhythms of the exotic Filipino cabaret band 
playing Knock Three Times.

"Dancing is actually against the law in Burma." Even TV 
singers are forbidden from moving their arms in case they 
arouse the hot passions of the chicks in longyis. But under 
the security umbrella of No.1's daughter, the well-heeled 
007 set openly do their curious wiggles when the band breaks 
into Tie A Yellow Ribbon. 

Is this some reference to Aung San Suu Kyi perhaps? Even the 
hatchet-faced Burmese tyranny who runs the diplomat's 
prostitution ring is seen smiling, tapping his manicured 
hand against smooth shaven thighs.

Our goons, however, are not smiling. Positioned by the door, 
they stare intently and note down precisely how many beers 
we've downed. I want to invite them over, but Bob advises 
no. They'd get in trouble if their cover was found to be 
blown. We're not supposed to notice they've been following 
us for four hours now.

A couple more beers, then we go in search of a mysterious 
new disco reputed to have opened in the ballroom of an empty 
hotel in middle class Golden Valley- but the lights are out 
when we arrive. The police closed it down because there was 
too much 'inter-racial mixing' going down in the karaoke room.

Desperation sets in. Next stop is to pick up some black 
market gasoline from amongst the prostitutes and junkies 
hanging around darkened avenues around the university. 

Patpong this is not. We briefly considered the leisure 
possibilities, but reckoned the Strand Hotel would not 
appreciate a couple of smacked out, $5, sarong-Suzies accom-
panying us to our $300 night rooms.

We did take a detour round Aung San's house, but it seemed 
she was out... Bob's still fretting about the spooks. 
"They'll be ringing me up about you, first thing Monday 
morning", he says. He wouldn't even stop when we drove past 
a crowd of citizens being marched by soldiers down Sule 
Pagada Road. Spoilsport.It's getting pretty late by Rangoon 
time (around 9.30 pm), so we make one last attempt at fun. 
We've just missed the local jazz band at the Strand Hotel 
bar, which is empty except for the Austrian general manager, 
Sue 'Third' Reitz, who's flicking through six month old 
copies of Marie Claire, and some British Embassy people and 
their (presumably) Burmese staff strumming songs on an 
acoustic guitar.

The gin fizzes are excellent, but I can only take the 
strains of the Second Secretary wailing Kum By Ya My Lord 
for so long. I make a dash for the baby grand, bash out a 
few chords of Rule Britannia whilst a game English couple 
simulated sex on the piano lid. The Peter, Paul and Mary of 
the Diplo-Set glared daggers, and violently strummed Leaving 
On A Jet Plane. Oh I wish! 	 

If you have any ideas on how to improve Rangoon's moribund 
nightlife, you can contact Brig Gen Abel on tel 89666 or 
80817, or fax 82101.And don't say I gave you the number... 
(Metro Magazine)

Irrawaddy Vol .3 No. 23

IT was Maung Maung Kyaw who shook hand with the then Army 
chief Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudth in 1989. It was Maung Maung 
Kyaw who agitated the socialist regime headed by Gen Ne Win. 
He was well-known student leader during "June Affairs" in 
Rangoon University compound in 1988. Although like many 
other students he fled to Thailand he and his group 
surrendered to Slorc in 1989.

He was detained in Insein prison for almost four years after 
his return. 

He founded the exile National Liberation Party (1988), was 
believed to be disheartened by his fellow exiled students 
and the rather small number of followers the NLP had 
compared with the ABSDF.

He was seen with Thai student activists on many occasions in 
1989. He is back. But no one knows why he came to Thailand. 
Some said he is fear of arrest and possible uprising.  According to 
sources in Bangkok he wants to establish a new student group. [BIG]

Irrawaddy Vol.3 No.23

Believe it or not, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, Slorc first secretary, 
has called for an elaborate ceremony to commemorate the 
United Nations' 50th anniversary. Burma has regularly 
observed UN Day on October 24 but plans to do it "on a grand 
scale" this year in order to "significantly express the 
country's fine tradition of active cooperation with the 
organisation," official newspapers quoted Khin Nyunt as saying.

His statement came out as UN Rapporteur Yozo Yokota was in 
Burma to collect facts for an annual human rights report on the country. 

Yokota's previous request to meet Suu Kyi were turned down 
by the junta. ICRC office in Rangoon was kicked out as the 
junta refused to cooperate. Now Lt Gen Khin Nyunt is 
commemorating the United Nations' 50th anniversary. 

[If you have any comment you can directly write to Lt Gen 
Khin Nyunt. Ed] 


Irrawaddy Vol.23 No. 3

"Don't expect they [Slorc and Suu Kyi] are going to have a 
formal meeting. Rather expect something informal," a Burmese 
marchant in Rangoon said. 

The atmosphere should be peaceful and the two sides should 
both be in good moods, he added. 

A tea party or reception where they can have informal talks 
then, if they think they can go ahead, then there should be 
a serious discussion, he added.

He blamed western governments and opponents calling  for a 
"dialogue". What do they expect? he asked. 

Sitting face to face in a meeting hall and talking about 
politics or sharing power "No way!" he said. 

He insisted the Burmese way is most appropriate one. Meet 
and talk at some kind of ceremony or in front of a respected 
monk will be the best way. (Inside sources) 


Irrawaddy Vol 3 No. 23

Sometimes the Mirror U Thaung may be too out-spoken and 
hard-hitting. In an article in the August edition of Radio 
Burma, he said Burmese won't forgive Japan if it helps the 
military junta. Obviously the author is unhappy to learn 
Tokyo's recent decision to resume development aid to Burma.

The beginning of his story is interesting indeed. Many 
Burmese still cannot forget Japanese brutality during the 
war. "I myself wrote a true story [after the war]," U Thaung  said.

The story went like this "A small Japanese warship was shot 
up by a British fighter. 

A Burmese fishing boat near the ship rescued five Japanese 
soldiers from drowning. 

On the fishing boat there were four fishermen. As the boat approached 
the jetty one young man took a mirror to comb his hair. 

When the Japanese officer saw it he began a terrible and 
merciless interrogation of the Burmese man as he suspected 
the young guy had signalled the British planes.

He was tied up. But the Japanese soldiers had no guns and 
not even bayonets. So they looked around. 
Discovered a weapon. It was a mouse hiding on the boat. 

He then placed the mouse on the chest of the young man and 
then covered it with a pot. The mouse ate the young man's stomach."

Though, the Japanese lost the war,  Burmese have no hatred 
against them, U Thaung wrote. But since the coup in 1962 
Tokyo assisted the Ne Win regime because of this, many 
Burmese were unhappy. 

And now Tokyo is helping the dictators in Rangoon because of 
they freed Suu Kyi.  U Thaung warned at the end of his article that if 
Japan helped the Slorc before achieving democracy Japan's repeated 
apologies for its war crimes mean nothing.

"The Burmese population will not forgive Japan," U Thaung 
said. (Radio Burma & BIG)        


Irrawaddy Vol .3 No.24

The trial of the US-based triad connection, Hong Kong 
citizen Kon Yuleung, saw lengthy testimony on money 
laundering. The money laundering process detailed in 
Thailand is taken from records of Kon's trial, which centred 
on drug sales and money movements in the late 1980s. 
Bangkok-based officials said the money obscure since then.

To begin the laundering process, the US-based part of this 
cartel gathered the money from heroin sales in cash. 

Hired "mules" then carried cash-stuffed suitcases  to Hong 
Kong and to Paraguay. The dollars went directly into 
legitimate banks deposits.

The Paraguay diversion was the first the many washings of 
the money, designed only to wear off suspicion by constant 
laundering. Cash deposits were credited to the Che Watch Co, 
an actual firm in Paraguay but controlled by the heroin 
cartel. Che Reta wired the deposit to Kon's Hong Kong 
accounts immediately after its arrival at the Paraguay bank.

After disposing of the cash from heroin sales by the bank 
deposits, the gang now could begin serious laundering. One 
of the main tasks was to finance further heroin purchases from 
the Burma-based manufacturers such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing-han. 
The problem was to get the money from Hong Kong to Burma.

For this purpose, Kon and his gang turned to a money-moving 
network using both legitimate and "parallel banks" in Hong 
Kong, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Mae Sai.

Cash was withdrawn from the Hong Kong accounts and carried 
to the Phoe Kuan Cahn Man Choeng Finance Co at Hong Kong 's 
Western Market district. Chan Man Choeng now is known as a 
major firm in the parallel banking system. (Phoe Kuan is a 
Tae Chew Chinese phrase which literally means "message house").

>From Hong Kong, this firm contacted the Chin Hua Heng 
goldsmiths to notify it of a deposit from the triad. 

The Bangkok shop thus had authority to release equivalent 
funds?minus a small transaction fee?to Suchin, the Thailand 
head of the trafficking cartel. Suchin collected the baht 
equivalent of the PhoeKuan transfer from the goldshop. 

He then immediately deposited the cash in accounts he had 
set up and controlled in legitimate banks in Bangkok.

>From Chiang Mai shops. The funds moved along the parallel 
banking trail to Mae Sai. The money now was firmly in the 
hands of a single extended family in four Thai and Burmese 
cities. This family was trusted by the drug cartel to launder and 
move their money to the final destination. The trust was well placed.

Notification was first sent from the Chiang Mai family member to 
his sibling in Mae Sai. If anyone thought the money laundering 
process was already confusing, he hadn't seen anything yet.

The money itself seemed to disappear at Chiang Mai. At Mae 
Sai, the Phoe Kuan dealer did not hand over a large amount 
of cash to her customer. 

Instead, using a prearranged formula, she gave the drug 
dealers only a few l-kyat notes from Burma. The only 
outstanding point about these notes was that they were new, 
and numbered consecutively.

(In recent years, thanks to Burmese inflation, money 
launderers have begun using 10-kyat notes for this purpose.)

Each Kyat note represented a certain amount in Thai, Burmese 
or even US currency. For example, one of the kyat bills 
might be redeemed later for 10,000 baht, or 10,000 kyat or, 
in some known cases, $10,000. 

The advantages are obvious. A drugs middleman could walk 
into the hills of Burma to a drug warlord without fear of 
being robbed. Business was transacted on a face-to-face 
basis, and everyone trusted the Phoe Kuan dealers to reveal 
the laundered money later on. No extra security was 
necessary. Finally, the heroin seller and heroin buyer need 
not trust each other, but only trust the parallel banking system.

The heroin purchase concluded, the gang was set for another 
round. It only remained to smuggle the heroin into the 
United States to begin again. 

Not counting Paraguay, use of this system involved at least 
four different national currencies, two bank deposits, three 
bank wire transfers, at least three conversions from paper 
money to bank account and back, and a minimum of four 
branches of the Phoe Kuan system?all of this in four 
countries.	  (BP&TN)


Irrawaddy Vol 3 No. 25
The honeymoon is over. The battle is about to begin. 
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi let her cat out of the 
bag. Suu Kyi's party the National League for Democracy 
boycotted the Slorc-sponsored national convention.  

She explained at her lakeside residence the convention does 
not abide by the democratic principles and did not represent 
the will of the people. Suu Kyi and NLD leaders said some 
changes are needed at the convention. But the junta refused 
to budge. Instead the junta severely attacked Suu Kyi and her party. 

NLD's present chairman Aung Shwe read out his statement 
after he and all NLD delegates attended the opening of the 
national convention on 28 November. It was only to lend an 
ear to Myo Nyunt's speech. Lt Gen Myo Nyunt is the chairman 
of National Convention Convening Committee and religious 
minister. He is a former commander of the Rangoon division 
and it was believed that, the general was actively involved 
in the 1988 killings and following years of political persecution.

Aung Shwe later said NLD delegates found neither a 
compromising stance nor a willingness to open a dialogue 
between the party and the ruling junta. Just before the 
resumption of the convention Aung Shwe had sent two letters 
to chairmen of the national convention convening committee 
urging them to open a dialogue. 

Myo Nyunt said that the NLD move was aimed at disrupting the 
convention with a view of furthering the party's interests 
rather than those of the nation. He said Slorc won't 
tolerate any attempt to disrupt or destroy the progress and 
achievements made so far. 

Suu Kyi said "There are dangers involved, and we are 
willing to face them for the sake of the people." It is not 
unusual for Suu Kyi to take risks. But from now on, if she 
takes more risks, she herself and dissidents might find 
themselves in the dock.

Indeed, it is discouraging to see the current political 
development in Burma as not only a lack of progress but is 
also a setback. 

Since the opposition leader's unexpected release many 
crossed their fingers hoping to see a historical handshake 
as had taken place in the Middle East or South Africa between 
two opposing sides. But Suu Kyi, who some have called Burma's 
Nelson Mandela, realised there is no Burmese de Klerk. 

Suu Kyi, in the eyes of generals, is 'destructive element.' 
More strongly-worded charges are coming firebrand, 
malcontent or traitor. 

The military leaders now accuse her and the NLD of taking a 
confrontational line. She disagreed, saying she but asking 
for a face-to-face meeting. Perhaps?it won't happen. The 
door to dialogue is still shut. 

Seemingly, the military leaders do not believe in dialogue with the lady. 

The Slorc has, in another word, no intention to reconcile 
with the Suu Kyi-led movement. The junta leaders are just 
paying lip service to national reconciliation and buying 
time to consolidate their power. 

Without doubts, many dissidents in exile and democracy-
loving people in Burma would welcome the NLD's latest move. 
But it needs support not only from inside but also from outside. 

The UN, western countries, Japan and Asean should carefully 
monitor the present unhealthy atmosphere in Burma. The 
businessmen from the west and east should study the 
situation. They should hold back otherwise it will only 
encourage the junta.

"Something will eventually happen," said Burma expert Martin 
Smith whether it is sudden or slowly, over time." 
The grip in Rangoon is stronger. No dramatic positive 
changes are coming but worst might come in the near 
future.There is a possibility of a political crackdown in 
the near future. Slorc itself might create unrest and can 
put the blame on Suu Kyi. 

It is happening. All parties, particularly the human rights 
watchdogs must monitor the current development.

The junta today is strong and gaining confidence. Thanks to 
foreign investment, constructive engagement, Slorc's 
Secretary Two said the country was "building strong, 
consolidated and durable armed forces" and warned the armed 
forces would resolutely take action against and 'annihilate' 
those who mar the interests of the entire nation. In any 
case, the NLD's recent move is provocative but the right 
one. It has finally shown it respects the will of the 
people. At least, even though there will be no gain as a 
result of a boycott, the party did demonstrate to people at 
home and abroad that it won't allow itself to prop up the 
military dictatorship in Burma. Slorc lost face as it has 
invested so much in the national convention.

If the NLD is united and receives wide public support from 
in and out, the junta, in a nutshell, will have no choice 
but to open a political dialogue with the party. 

There is nothing to fear or ignore by talking if there are 
unresolved conflicts or problems. Slorc, for the sake of the 
country, should facilitate a genuine political dialogue. 
Dialogue doesn't mean winners or losers. The best solution 
can come out.

Suu Kyi has said openly there would be give and take in 
negotiations. But it seemed the military leaders opted for 
utter devastation. 

This is a political setback for the country's 45 million 
people. They have been suffering and sacrificing under the 
military dictatorship for decades. And obviously they still 

Suu Kyi said they are preparing for worst while hoping for 
the best. The worst is coming. Even so, it will only be a 
new battle for the restoration of freedom and justice and 
democracy in Burma. 	?The Editor

Irrawaddy Vol 3 No. 25

Karen State - 1995 July - Tint Naing and his wife returned 
to Phapon from Kyun Pin village where the two visited their 
relatives. On the way back, they were robbed by a group of 
soldiers. The soldiers, according to two reliable sources, 
beat Tint Naing to death while they raped his wife. She was 
four months pregnant. She was killed too. Names of the 
soldiers were not available but only identified as one 
sergant, one corporal and three soldiers from Regiment 77. 

But Tint Naing happened to be a relative of the second 
Battalion commander 19 based in Karen state. The military 
officer opened the case. Five soldiers were tried. But the 
outcome was not known.But sources added, when the result of 
matriculation was announced the couple was passed. "Many 
villagers and family members were very sad," sources said. (BIG)


Irrawaddy Vol 3 No. 25

23 November - approximately 15 Burmese asylum seekers were 
rounded up in Bangkok. One out of the 15 is a pregnant 
woman. Officials from the UN went to a police station and 
tried to negotiate with police. But the attempt failed. The 
15 were sent to the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC).

Prior to the Slorc chairman Senior Gen Than Shwe visit to 
Bangkok there would be a crackdown on dissidents in exile, 
said a military intelligence source. The NLD (LA) has been 
preparing to commemorate the diamond jubilee of the Rangoon 
University in Bangkok's safety place. (BIG)


Irrawaddy Vol 3 No 25

Informed sources said that military attache Col Thein Swe in 
Bangkok had earlier urged Thailand to deny entry into the 
country of ABSDF chairman Moe Thee Zun who might help 
instigate protests in Bangkok during Vice-Adm Maung Maung 
Khin's official visit.Moe Thee is reported to be visiting in 
the US with support from the Albert Einstein Institute. His 
close aides said he will be meeting with Burma support 
groups and activists in the US and Europe. He was joined by 
Aung Naing Oo from foreign affairs department. Aung Naing Oo 
left for Europe since last year. (BIG)