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BurmaNet news January 15, 1996

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

The BurmaNet News: January 15, 1996
Issue #321

Noted in Passing:
		I am not interested in politics.
		- the fifth phrase taught in English conversation
		textbooks in Rangoon.

SLORC TROOPS AND DKBA TROOPS      January 13, 1996

A  combination of SLORC  troops from Light Infantray Battalion 391, 10 and
some DKBA troops Democratic Karen Buddhist Army ( DKBA),  the splinter group
from KNU, issussed an order to 7 villages; Sep Poe Hta, Ah Neh Kae Hta, Ka
Law Hta, Thay P'Leh Hta, K'Law Wee Der and  Maw Kaw Der in Pa-Pun District 
(Karen State) to relocate. The deadline is Feburary 13th, 1996 and if they refused the 
order  these villages will be set fire. Said the villagers who fled from those villages.

On 29th December 1995, a village  called Keh Pa Hta  (Pa-Pun District; KNU
area) was being accused of having  support to KNU  and  was set fire by a
combination of SLORC troops from Light Infantry Battalion 391 and 105.

On 17.12.95 a columm from Light Infantry Battalion  (551) led by  Battalion
Comander Kyaw Kyaw entered Yeh Mu Plaw and Say Peh Hta villages and burned
down some of the houses.  One Church and 199 baskets of paddy were also set
fire.  Moreover,  some of the pountrly such as chicken, duck and buffallo
were taken away with them.

On the same day, another Slorc troop from Infantry Batallion (53) also
entered Ta Lu  Der village and took 13 chickens, 15 ducks and 10 goats from
the villagers. They set fire 740 baskets of paddy from that village.

On 23, 12,95 Slorc troops from Light Infantry Battalion 439 fired heavy
artilery shells into Ray Pe Soe village and killed 3 girls. They are Naw
Plaw (40) Naw Law P' Lee (18) and  an old woman age over (60).

Source: KNU, Dawn Win Studio
Translated: Saw Nelson Ku


January 14, 1996
compiled from information provided by: Brischmidt@xxxxxxx

On January 3, 1996, the Burma Action Committee requested that people stage
demonstrations in front of REI stores which sell clothing produced by Columbia
Sportsware.  Despite requests from the Burma Action Committee and others,
Columbia Sportswear has not agreed to withdraw from Burma.
The Burma Action Committee believes that this boycott has a good chance for 
success, because the company is very image-conscious and other clothing 
companies have responded to public pressure.

BAC members also believe Columbia is risking legal complications involving
forced labor.

Recently, a partial victory was achieved.  On January 12, REI informed the 
Burma Action Committee that they had told Columbia not to send it any 
clothing made in Burma.

BAC intends to reply to REI that they applaud this first step, but Columbia is
facing a boycott of all its products.  BAC is continuing to urge individuals
and businesses cease all their purchases of Columbia products. 


January 9, 1996

Since 1994, Columbia sportswear Company has contracted with an
independently-owned factory in Burma-Myanmar to manufacture a small portion
of our outdoor apparel offering. This factory meets Columbia's strict quality
standards, as well as our Standards and Business Practice Guidelines (attached).

Columbia's presence in Burma-Myanmar  is consistent with United States
foreign and commercial policy with regard to doing business there.

Columbia developed its Standards and Business Practice Guidelines to ensure
that all workers producing Columbia products are treated fairly, and are
provided a safe and clean working environment. Company management regularly
visits each of our manufacturing facilities to observe factory conditions. We
also station quality control personnel in each country of manufacture,
including Burma-Myanmar, to ensure our rigorous standrads, as well as our
Guidelines, are being met.

Columbia sources its products worldwide so we can provide consumers with the
best products at the best prices. While we may not agree with every style of
government, we strongly believe that business investment and trade foster
communication and understanding, hence opening markets and liberalizing
systems. We feel that free enterprise and capitalism will prompt politically
repressed countries to form democracies that best suit the people and

Columbia Sportswear will reconsider its manufacturing presence in
Burma-Myanmar if 1) The factory no longer meets our quality standards, or 2)
The factory fails to uphold our Standards and Business Practice Guidleins, or
3) There is a change in United States foreign policy with regard to US
companies doing business in Burma-Myanmar.

For more information, please contact Angela Dobrowski, Columbia Sportswear
Public Relations, at (503) 286-3676.

Columbia Sportswear Standards and Business Practice Guidelines

Legal Requirements:
Columbia Sportswear expects all of its manufacturing partners to comply with
all applicable government regulations of the country in which they are
located regarding minimum wage; overtime; child labor laws; provisions for
pregnancy and menstrual leave; provision for vacation and holidays; and
mandatory retirement benefits.

Health and Safety Requirements:
Columbia Sportswear seeks manufacturing partners who comply with all applicable 
local government regulations regarding occupational  73 health and safety.

Employment Practices and Equal Opportunity:
Columbia Sportswear believes in equal employment opportunities and seeks
manufacturing partners that do not discriminate in hiring, salary, benefits,
advancement, termination or retirement on the basis of gender, race,
religion, age, sexual orientation or ethnic origin.

Working Wages, Hours, and Overtime:
Columbia Sportswear expects manufacturing partners to offer wages, benefits
and work conditions that are consistent with prevailing local industry
standards, as well as all applicable wage and hour laws, rules and
regulations, including those related to overtime.

Prison of Forced Labor:
Columbia Sportswear will not enter into a partnership with any suppliers or
contractors who use any form of forced labor -- prison or otherwise.

Environmental Standards:
Columbia Sportswear seeks manufacturing partners who share our respect for
the environment and comply with all applicable local environmental laws.
Columbia Sportswear Global Operations  (abridged)

Columbia Sportswear's  corporate headquarters and international distribution
center are located in Portland Oregon, and we distribute products in the
United States, Canada, Japan, China, Europe, South America, Australia and New

Columbia owns and operates eight outlet stores:  two in Portland, Oregon, and
one each in Lincoln City, Oregon; Gilroy, California; Birch Run, Michigan;
Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Medford, Minnesota. 


January 11, 1996

The Burma Action Committee is going to present an argument to Columbia
Sportswear that garment factories in Burma violate  its equal opportunity
guidelines, since businesses with more than five employees must hire from a
list established by the Township Law and Order Restoration Council.

We need evidence that LORCs may discriminate on the basis of gender,
religion, or ethnicity for determining whose name can be put on the list.
Specifics as much as possible are needed. Discrimination on the basis of age
and sexual orientation would also violate Columbia's guidelines.

This type of proof could then be used for any company with equal employment

Please email brischmid@xxxxxxx, or write PO Box 1926 Portland OR 97207

Burma Action Committee (formerly the Pepsi-Burma Boycott Committee) is a
Portland-based grass-roots organization supporting a boycott of companies
investing in Burma. It emphasizes consumer activism and education, supports
campus groups, and promotes local and national legislation that call for
divestment from Burma.

BAC's address is PO Box 1926, Portland OR, 97207. Columbia Sportswear's
address is 6600 N. Baltimore, Portland OR 97203, (503) 286-3676.


January 14, 1996

SLORC to receive official Washington sealed request 'within two weeks'

THE US government will officially ask the Burmese junta for the
extradition of opium warlord Khun Sa for trial in the United
States, where he was indicted in 1989 by a New York court on
charges of drug trafficking.

The request will be made in the form of a sealed official diplomatic note 
which will be handed to the Burmese rulers in Rangoon "in a week or two", 
according to a US official who asked not to be named.

Washington, indicated the source, "plans to officially present a
formal request for Khun Sa's extradition from Burma in a week or two."

The source said the junta, officially known as the State Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC), should honour its
widely-publicized pledge to prosecute Khun Sa.

The US decided to ask for the transfer of Khun Sa, who is widely
blamed for half of the estimated 200 tonnes of heroin produced
annually in the Golden Triangle, because of the access to him
that SLORC now has, the source said.

Since the Burmese junta ''has obvious access to Khun Sa, they are
in a position to make good on their long standing pledge to bring
this major drugs warlord to Justice.

We [Washington] have never bothered to ask for his extradition
because he was always out of bounds. But now he is within reach."

SLORC has denied that Burma and the US have a bilateral
extradition treaty, but the source insisted that Washington
signed one in 1947 with the Burmese provisional government of U
Nu before the country's independence from Britain in January 1948.

The source said the first Burmese administration after
independence had signed an official document to honour all the
documents previously signed by Britain on behalf of Burma.

"We believe that the extradition treaty is still in force," he said.
The official asked how SLORC could continue to apply some British
codes in its administration, while selectively dishonouring the
extradition treaty.

Rangoon has denied the existence of a bilateral treaty and has
publicly stated that it would not send Khun Sa to the US.
Burmese Ambassador to Thailand U Tin Winn said last week at a
banquet reception to mark Burma's 48th Independence Day that Khun
Sa, a half-Shan half-Chinese would be dealt with according to the law.

Khun Sa was indicted by the New York eastern district court in
December 1989 on 10 drug trafficking charges, including conspiracy to 
traffic heroin, following the February 1988 seizure in Bangkok of 1,080 
kilogrammes of heroin concealed in bales of rubber.

According to the source, the 61-year-old warlord started a secret
dialogue with SLORC in October when he sent a representative to a
meet a colonel from the Burmese Eastern Command in Kentung.
Dialogue continued and culminated with a visit to Rangoon by Khun
Sa's uncle, Khun Saeng, on Dec 18.

In the New Year, Khun Sa and SLORC stunned the world with their
deal, which diplomats and Thai officers believe includes an
agreement that Khun Sa would not be extradited to the US.

Under the agreement, Khun Sa agreed to withdraw his Mong Tai Army
(MTA) from the Doi Lang area and the MTA headquarters at Homong,
opposite Thailand's Mae Hong Son province, and allowed the
Burmese army access to add control of the strategic rugged terrain.

A report published on Friday by the stated-controlled New Light
of Myanmar said the 5,026 MTA troops had "returned to legal fold"
and a large MTA stockpile, including a weapons workshop, had also
been given up.

An official MTA surrender ceremony was held in Homong on Jan 7,
where the Burmese Eastern Commander Maj Gen Tin Htut participated
on behalf of SLORC together with Khun Sa and other top MTA officials.

The US official source believed SLORC was organizing a trip for
Rangoon-based diplomats and media to Homong. Several embassies
had already been informed of the tentative trip by the
Directorate of the Defence Services Intelligence.

According to the source, Washington in November decided to offer
a US$2 million reward for information leading to Khun Sa's arrest
and conviction, but the announcement was made only after Khun
Sa's deal with Rangoon was publicly confirmed, for both political
and practical reasons.

"We announced it for a political reason, that is for the SLORC to
know that we still want Khun Sa for drug trafficking, and for a
practical reason, that we want his arrest and extradition," said the source.

He said Washington had been aware of  the Khun Sa-SLORC secret
talks since September, but thought that the deal would be
presented under some facade where the drug warlord would be excluded.

"We knew about it, but it is still a surprise to us. We expected
the SLORC to do something more secret, to do it behind some
facade such as forming a new group, changing the name, and
justifying the deal by saying that they are not dealing with a
drug dealers and allowing Khun Sa to retire " said the source.

Thai military intelligence officers said yesterday they had
learned that Khun Sa, who is believed to be living now in Mokmai
near Homong, was negotiating a deal for his surrender to SLORC,
demanding a written guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US.

He expressed concern about the drugs situation in the Golden
Triangle after Khun Sa's deal with SLORC. "Burma has now become
the haven of Southeast Asia for international drug trafficking,
where anybody can produce heroin with impunity."

The source predicted deteriorating bilateral Burmese-US
relations, saying Burmese officials had ignored basic diplomatic
protocols such as returning telephone calls or diplomatic notes
with the Australian, UK and US missions.

With the emerging situation in Burma, and the increasing
harassment of opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi, there ''is a good chance" the US congress could pass the
sanctions bill against Burma, added the source.

Rangoon, said the source, had also denied visas to US officials,
and American tourists in Burma had been harassed by government
officials in recent weeks.

January 14, 1996   (abridged)

                  US warns Rangoon ties cannot improve

BURMA was sternly told yesterday that it can't expect relations
with the United States to improve unless drug warlord Khun Sa is
extradited to stand trial there.

The warning came at a press conference in Bangkok given by
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific
Winston Lord.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said last week: "We are
determined to get him (Khun Sa) sooner or later."

Mr Lord's stop in Bangkok is the first on a two-week working trip
of the Asia-Pacific region.

"We will urge them (Burma) not only to convict and detain him
(Khun Sa), but also to extradite him to the United States," said
Mr Lord in response to a question on the US stance towards the
drug warlord.

Mr Lord said human rights and cooperation in narcotics
suppression are the two main criteria that the Burmese military
regime must meet before relations between Burma and the United
States can improve.  As such, he said unless Khun Sa is extradited, 
bilateral relations will remain frozen.

"I don't want to exaggerate any one issue but this (cooperation
in narcotics suppression) is an important one (for the
improvement of relations)," he said.

Washington has unilaterally imposed trade and economic sanctions
on Burma since 1989.
Mr Lord said it was still unclear what the Burmese military junta
planned to do with Khun Sa. The US, he added, would keep a close watch.
He warned however, that if a deal was struck allowing Khun Sa to
go free, it would be an extremely serious problem and constitute
a defeat in the international war against narcotics.
Burmese government officials earlier argued that Khun Sa could
not be extradited to the United States because there was no
extradition treaty between-the two countries.

The drug warlord is reported to be living in his headquarters in
Ho Mong after the surrender of both himself and thousands of his
Mong Tai Army troops to Burmese forces last week.

The US assistant secretary of state also welcomed the verdict
handed down by the Thai Appeals Court to extradite former Nakhon
Phanom MP Thanong Siripreechapong to stand trial on narcotics
trafficking charges in the United States.

"We greatly welcome this (the ruling on Thanong's extradition to
the US). It's a great step. We hope it can be concluded in the
near future."

Thanong has been accused of smuggling 49 tons of marijuana into
the United States between 1973 and 1987.

January 14, 1996

The wives of 36 Burmese political prisoners have written to military 
authorities urging an end to human rights violations in Rangoon's Insein 
prison, a reliable source said yesterday.

The letter was sent recently to the Burmese ministry for home
affairs, a family member of the inmates said.

The 36 prisoners have faced harsher conditions since last
November when prison officials found anti-government documents,
newspapers and a short-wave radio in a cell at Insein jail, the
source said.

They had been put into military dog cells and were refused
permission to meet with relatives or to obtain medical attention,
the source said.

The women said in their letter they were deeply concerned about
the possibility of torture and ill treatment of their husbands in
detention. The men's health had suffered due to the severe
treatment, the letter said.

In late December, a Burmese opposition group said there had been
a crackdown on political prisoners at Insein in a bid to identify
the source of reports to Yozo Yokota, the United Nations special
rapporteur for human rights, on prison conditions.

Prison officials reportedly suspected the letter to Yokota was
written by a group of five leading members of the opposition
National League for Democracy, identified as Win Tin, Myint Wai,
Tin Shwe, Myo Myint Nyein and Saw Naing Naing.

Another source said the Burmese authorities learned of the
inmates' activities following inquiries from Yokota as he
prepared his annual report to the United Nations on the human
rights situation in Burma.

The full report is to be presented in Geneva next month.

Since April 1992, Burma has released more than 2,000 detainees
under a decision to free political prisoners no longer deemed a
threat to national security.

According to Amnesty International, the London-based human rights
group, Burmese prisons still hold several thousand political


January 14, 1996

HUMAN rights watchdog Amnesty International yesterday expressed
concern at the Thai Government's detention of Burmese dissidents
seeking asylum in Thailand.

"Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Thai
authorities to refrain from its widespread practice of arresting
Burmese political activists who are seeking asylum in Thailand,"
Amnesty said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, arrests continue on a regular basis," it said.

The London-based organisation cited the arrests in November of 25
Burmese political activists in Thailand, about half of whom were
picked up during demonstrations against the Burmese government in

Amnesty said most had been released and added it believed "police
detained the group in an effort to prevent public protests in
opposition to the continued rule of Myanmar's (Burma) military

Amnesty said asylum seekers are refused refugee status by the
Thai authorities and are routinely arrested and charged with illegal 
immigration, for which they are either fined or sentenced to prison terms.

Thai Immigration Police say their policy is to arrest Burmese who
enter the country with false passports, or who undertake political activities 
against a neighbouring country, or who work illegally in Thailand.

The police insist Burmese political asylum seekers are not arrested if they 
do not become involved in political activities or if they are sponsored by the 
United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Pakdi Rattanapol, director of the Interior Ministry's Foreign
Affairs Department which is in charge of the Maneeloy holding
centre for Burmese dissidents, said by law Burmese students
entered Thailand illegally and are regarded as illegal immigrants.

However, Thailand has always given them special treatment and
allowed them to stay in the country without pushing them back
into Burma, Mr Pakdi said.

Mr Pakdi said only a dozen or so detainees are being held at the
Bartgkaen Police Cadet School.


By U Thaung
January 14, 1996

1996 has come. It's "Visit Myanmar Year." Why not visit Burma?
For the would-be tourist to Burma on this occasion there should
be an extra-special tourist guide required to enjoy the exotic journey.

Certainly, Burma is a beautiful country that should not be
missed. "I felt that I was not in Paradise itself, I must be
somewhere in the neighbourhood," wrote Dr Marks, an English
missionary in his book Forty Years in Burma, in the 1880s about
his visit. Today, Burma is still beautiful.

US President Herbert Hoover once remarked that the Burmese were
the "only genuinely happy people in all of Asia." It was once the
truth. Today, it is history. Burma today is a hell for its citizens.

Since the beginning of military rule, regular services provided
by government agencies were turned over to the public. If a
community requested a new school, the government would provide
half and encouraged local people to collect funds themselves for
other half. Otherwise there would be no school.

The same combination was used to build hospitals, water
pipelines, roads, telephone exchanges and so on. Building of
utilities has to be shared by the people. People understood that
their tax money was needed to be used in the expense of ever
increasing army, and they submitted to the new system and shared
their hard-earned assets to~get those services.

The procedure is so convenient for the military rulers who used
the system for entire government building projects, and
eventually it turned out that the whole nation was transformed
into a huge slave labour camp.

When roads, railway lines and so on were built preparing for
"Visit Myanmar Year", happenings at those slave labour camps were
more than hell. "The rape of women serving in forced labour camps
is said to .be common. Soldiers view rape as right, and sometimes
it is encouraged by officers," said a recent human rights report
presented at the United Nations which exposed incidents of raping
and gang-raping women.

The document released in November last year at the UN noted
"credible reports of instances of brutality sometimes resulting
in the killing of civilians by the Myanmar military forces."

These are the real pictures of Burma preparing for the tourist
year, portrayed by the special rapporteur Yozo Yokota of the UN.
It was for the would-be tourist to decide whether to go or not.

More than 95,600 tourists visited Burma last year and the
government earned 32.65 million kyats from the trade. This. year
the Rangoon government envisions half a million tourists to visit
this fair land and expects revenue generated from this industry
to be five times more than last year.

The Burmese military government is seriously in need of foreign
exchange to keep the big army active. Even though many foreign
investors have pledged a great amount of investment, most of them
have yet to begin their business. They, together with the World
Bank, are waiting for a peaceful political climate, which the
military cannot provide.

Those were the reasons the Burmese military is betting heavily on
the tourist trade.

The SLORC (the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council)
has mapped out in detail plans to prepare for the expected influx
of tourists this year. English-language courses were given to the
public to offer hospitality to visitors. Most lesson books begin
with such conversations:

"Good morning."
"How are you?"
"I am quite well Thank you."
"My name is Ko Ba."

And the fifth phrase of the conversation course in the textbook
is:     "I am not interested in politics."

So advice to the tourist is do not discuss politics with the
people. They could be arrested and imprisoned because of a
talkative tourist.

Another warning was distinctly printed in the official tourist
guide, published by the Tourism Development Management Committee
that states the departure procedure a tourist would have to go
through before leaving Burma _ a body-search.

Regarding security, tourists are totally safe in Burma today.
Almost all the armed rebels have signed ceasefire pacts with the
government. Accordingly, armed rebels were permitted to keep
their arms and rule their areas while the central government
forces take care of Burma. While the armed forces are busy
intimidating the people they rule, they have no time to harm

Essential guidelines for all tourists as once advised by
columnist Al Goldstein in Playboy magazine are: "Never schedule a
visit to a country that has recently undergone a name change and
an addendum: Never enter a country whose government is promising
free election sometime soon."

U Thaung is former editor and publisher of the Burmese language
newspaper The Mirror Daily. He presently edits The New Era
Journal, a bi-monthly opposition democratic Burmese-language
newspaper published in the Liberated Area on the Thai-Burmese
border. The writer now resides in Florida, USA.


January 14, 1996

FAITH DOHERTY of Southeast Information Network (Sain) reports
from Rangoon.

BURMA is undergoing a devastating epidemic of HIV/Aids, according
to figures compiled by the country's National Aids Programme.

There are many talented and dedicated physicians, nurses and
public health workers in Burma, and many are committed to HlV
prevention and Aids care, but resources are scarce, and the
political situation and the isolation of their country makes
their efforts all the more difficult.

HIV was first detected in Burma in the late 1980s. In 1989-90,
significant rates were identified in injecting drug users. Just
three years later, in 1993, the virus was found wherever testing
could be done, in the big cities of the Irrawaddy delta, in towns
and villages in the far north, in the deep south, on the Thai
border to the East and on the India border to the West.

In Kachin State, a remote mountainous province bordering China,
93% of several hundred addicts tested in a 1994 survey were HIV
infected, the highest rate reported among injecting drugs users
in the world. Wandering the battered pavements of Rangoon and
Mandalay, it's hard to imagine that as many as 400,000 of the
gracious and longsuffering people one sees are carrying a fatal
virus: but they are.

And given the state of Burma's public health system and the
political and social realities of life under the country's military 
dictatorship, the Burmese Aids epidemic is just getting started.

The global HIV/Aids epidemic has taken a new turn in the 1990s.
The World Health Organisation estimates that the HIV virus is
currently spreading faster in Asia than in any other part of the
world. The worst hit countries in the region so far are India,
with more than 1.5 million infections; Thailand, with at least
800,000; Burma, with perhaps 400,000, and Cambodia with close to
200,000 of a relatively small population of less than 7 million.

While these figures are disturbing, it is not the absolute
numbers of people infected that have caused such concern in the
international public health community but the unprecedented speed
with which HIV is spreading in these densely populated Asian
nations. This is nowhere more evident than in the case of Burma,
where backward medical conditions, poverty, 'the country's
ongoing political crisis, mass population movements, and a flood
of cheap heroin have led to explosive HIV spread.

Of the principal routes of HIV spread (unprotected sexual
intercourse, sharing of injection equipment among drug users,
transfusion of infected blood and blood products, and mother to
infant) there is evidence that HIV transmission in Burma now
involves all four.

Condoms were illegal until 1992, and they are now used by less
than I per cent of the population, making virtually all sex
unprotected. Prostitution is illegal, and men who patronise sex
workers can be charged under laws dating from the 1880s British
colonial penal code which equates these acts with rape.

Sentences can be harsh: Up to ten years in prison, and this
drives prostitution deeply underground and, tragically, out of
the reach of public health workers who might educate sex workers
and clients about the HIV problem. Still, there is prostitution
in the country, and trafficking of Burmese women into other sex
markets in the region is a significant problem.

Making the blood supply safe has been a priority of the
underfunded and understaffed national programme, and progress has
been made but the supply is far from safe, even in the big
cities. In the rural areas blood is still often transfused
without testing; two of Burma's 14 states and divisions have not
yet started HIV testing.

Because so many pregnant women are anaemic, and prenatal care so
limited, transfusions after delivery are much more common than in
developed nations, compounding the problem.

And of course, there is the war. While many ethnic groups have
now signed ceasefire agreements with the SLORC (State Law and
Order Restoration Council) fighting continues in Burma's 40 years
civil war even in these areas. Battlefield conditions in these
rural ethnic areas are ideal for HIV spread through unsafe
medical practices.

A further problem is that about 80% of medical practitioners work
in the private sector. Resources are limited, syringes expensive,
and re-use of non-sterile equipment is thought to be a major
problem. Even in government facilities, universal precautions to
prevent HIV spread in medical procedures are a
luxury few hospitals can afford.

While sexual transmission and unsafe medical practices are
compelling problems, the most significant route of HIV spread in
Burma is through sharing of injection equipment by addicts.
Western governments, and in particular the Clinton
administration, have long pointed to Burma as one of the major
opium growing and heroin exporting countries of the world.
Estimates vary, but even the lowest suggest that Burma produces
some 40% of the world's heroin. What is less known is that Burma
has also become a heroin consumer.

The junta currently admits that as many as one in 100 adult men
is an active heroin addict, though an earlier (unpublished)
report suggested that the percentage may be closer to I in 25
men. Possession of drugs and syringes is illegal, and carrying
syringes can lead to long incarceration.

Syringes are also in desperately short supply. As a result
addicts go to "tea stalls," shooting galleries behind shops and
tea houses where professional injectors give them their doses. Up
to 40 people may be injected with the same needle, efficiently
spreading not only HIV but other blood-borne infections including
Hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and malaria.

HIV rates among these addicts in 1994-1995 were over 80 percent
in Rangoon, Mandalay and other cities and towns where tests were
done. Most of these addicts are young men, so sexual spread to
other groups, including wives and girl friends, is likely. Not surprisingly, 
HIV rates among pregnant women are rising rapidly as well.

Burma poses special challenges to HIV researchers, donor
agencies, non-governmental organisations and bodies like Unicef
and the WHO, all of which have active Aids programmes in
neighbouring countries including Thailand and India.

While it is clear that Burma will need international support to
attempt to control HIV and to cope with the large number of Aids
patients, it is also clear that working under the generals in
charge of Burma's ruling junta is both difficult and ethically

The Burmese junta is feared and widely mistrusted by the people,
and many of their policies and laws may actually be facilitating
the spread of HIV.

The best example of such policies is Burma's extensive prison
system. All educational materials (indeed all reading materials)
are banned in SLORC's jails, making education of prisoners next
to impossible. Condoms are not available, ensuring that what sex
does occur is unsafe.

But more importantly, prisoners are still used for collection of
blood products, and collection equipment is often reused, making
even donation of blood unsafe. A refusal on the part of the junta
to monitor conditions in the'se prisons recently caused the
International Committee of the Red Cross to pull out of Burma.

Burma activists, meanwhile, fear that Aids control programmes are
unlikely to reach the people who need help the most, that
accountability of funds is virtually impossible to assure, and
the regime, which craves international recognition will attempt
to use high profile Aids programmes to seek legitimacy.

SLORC have allowed some HIV programmes to function, and have
sanctioned the National Aids Programme. These steps may mask
another, deeper reality of the Aids situation under the regime.

Conversations with health professionals point to 1988 as the year
heroin use became widespread among Burma's youth. Before 1988
there had been scattered addicts, and traditional use of smoked
opium was common among some ethnic groups, but no Burmese could
remember rampant and widespread use of heroin until 1988-1989.

The heroin epidemic coincides with the suppression of the mass
movement of 1988 when millions of Burma's people rose up against
years of military misrule and demanded democracy in the
non-violent uprising that swept Aung San Sun Kyi to national prominence.

Following the violent crackdown by the junta, elections were held
under UN auspices in 1990, and Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy won an overwhelming victory, but the military refused
to step aside.

The rise in domestic heroin use in Burma closely followed the
junta's consolidation of power. Their control of the country is
close to absolute. The one sector of the economy they deny
involvement in is the drugbusiness, though heroin is easily
Burma's most lucrative cash crop.

Is the military directly involved? One student veteran of the
1988 movement had this to say, "If you put up a poster about
democracy at Rangoon University you get 156 years in jail, if you
hold a meeting to discuss human rights you get 15 years in jail,
but you can sell heroin in the college dormitory and nobody will
bother you."

The dilemma for the Burmese people is that HIV will not wait for
the restoration for democracy. However, should the junta remain
in power, the political and social realities of their rule may
frustrate any attempt to control HIV, even with donor agency
involvement and international participation.

Perhaps the position of Archbishop Desmond Tutu during the
apartheid struggle best illustrates where Aids researchers and
organisations eager to help the Burmese people now find themselves:

Tutu opposed immunisation programmes Unicef wanted to mount in
the old South Africa. Unicef's position was that "children are
above politics". Tutu's position was that it was the apartheid
system, not lack of vaccines, at the root of the disproportionate
morality among black children.

Since Unicef's involvement would give legitimacy to the apartheid
government's claims to be "helping" blacks, it had to be
resisted. The tragedy of Burma may be that without a political
solution to the country's current crisis, HIV will be impossible to control.


January 14, 1996

SLORC's brand of peacemaking is a kind that promotes greater
disorder, banditry and anarchy, writes Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe.

On the face of things, it would seem that the State Law and Order
Restoration Council has terminated the 30 to 40 years of armed
conflict in Burma.

In a sense, it has at least stopped the shooting. However, the
cessation of fighting has not brought peace to the people of
Burma, in particular, the Kachin, Shan, Karen, Wa, Lahu, Kokang
(etc) populace. They are still under the guns of SLORC's
predatory soldiers and spies, and as well under the guns of
former resistance armies, now allied with SLORC.

The ceasefires- and other arrangements (the "surrender", for
example, of Khun Sa) made by SLORC with former foes is actually,
firstly, a strategy for survival in the face of smouldering, mass
opposition to it from the Bama populace.

And secondly, these arrangements represent the formation of a new
alignment of power and alliance among warlords, based on the
"ownership" of the "means of coercion". The situation in SLORC's
Burma can be roughly compared, though on a smaller scale, to
China in the 1920s and 1930s.

>From the standpoint of the non-Bama, who have supported the
leaders of their resistance armies, and in consequence sacrificed
much and suffered tremendously for it, the alliance of their
resistance leaders with SLORC is, simply put~ a shameless
betrayal. Though it may seem from the outside that the ceasefire
or i'surrender" arrangement is a "peace settlement'' between
SLORC and the non-Bama segments, the substance of it is very
different, however.

In substance, those that have gained from the alliance (and
ceasefires) with SLORC are top non-Bama (Wa, Kachin, Kokang, Shan
etc) war leaders and their old and new economic patrons (former
black-marketeers, big heroin players and outside entrepreneurs).
KHUN SA: Strategy for survival?

The non-Bama are now not only unprotected, as ever, from the
predatory whims of undisciplined, poorly-paid Bama soldiers, but
face further danger from unpaid or neglected soldiers of the non-
Bama warlords. In short, SLORC's brand of peace-making _ peace
among predatory warlords _ is a kind that promotes greater
disorder, banditry and anarchy, rather than the rule of law and
civil order.

Both the Bama and the non-Bama now share a common bitter
experience _ their betrayal by ''owners of the means of coercion"
who were supposed (in principle) to protect them. The lesson
which they can learn from their experience of betrayal and their
current dark plight is that ethno-nationalism whether Bama or non
Bama (or for that matter German, Japanese, Serbian, Hutu
ethno-nationalism etc), is often a tool of enslavement.

Nationalism (or ethno-nationalism) is a potent drug that dulls
the sense of outrage at the violation of one's rights and
freedom, and seduces one to tolerate (or applaud) outrages
perpetrated upon the ethnically-different "other. "

In the above regard, it must be noted that in countries or
societies where much emphasis is placed on ethno-nationalism (or
cultural patriotism), "nationalism" is often hijacked by those
who "own" the "means of coercion". A significant outcome, as
human history and current events show, is dictatorship and
despotism, impoverishment, internal war, ethnic cleansing,
cultural genocide (or plain genocide), external aggression (and
interstate, or even global, wars).

Looking at Burma's history, the Bama _ because of their pride in
Bama nationalism _ at one time took great pride and placed much
trust in their Bama Tatmadaw. The Tatmadaw (or the chief, Ne Win)
in turn played upon Bama pride and fears to unleash a rule of
terror on the non-Bama populace, on the pretext that the Bama
nation was in danger of being destroyed by Karen, Mon, Rakhine,
Shan, Kachin secessionists. The ultimate result has been the
impoverishment and enslavement of the Bama and the killing of
Bama protesters (almost annually since 1962), culminating in the
nationwide massacres of 1988.

On the other side of the coin, in the face of the Bama Tatmadaw's
rule of terror, the non-Bama supported, at great cost in lives
and with meagre resources, the resistance armies and war leaders
who emerged to defend them and their national/cultural integrity,

In fact, in the 30 to 40 years of war, it was the people who
protected the resistance armies (rather than the other way
round), and suffered horrendously for it at the hands of the Bama
Tatmadaw. The end result has been, as recently seen, the betrayal
of the non-Bama populace by their war leaders.

In the light of Burma's sad history stemming from the
ethno-nationalism (or cultural patriotism) of both the Bama and
non-Bama, the foremost task of the people of Burma is henceforth
to turn their backs on the seductive poison of ethno-nationalism,
an opiate which has dulled their common humanity and led them to
put their trust in the "owner of the means of coercion".

Considering the terrible consequence of both Bama and non-Bama
ethno-national ism, it would seem that the people of Burma must
from now on work together to build a new kind of nationhood an
national unity, one based on an ethnic neutral formula, namely, a
solidarity base on fraternity, liberty and equality _ in short, a
national identity and political culture based on democracy and
people's power.

Until and unless the Burmese are able to firmly cast aside
ethnic-oriented national ism (or cultural patriotism), they risk
the danger, time and again, of being seduce and betrayed by those
who are dependent on ethno-nationalism to maintain power and
justify their very existence _ the "owners of the means of

Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe is a son of the late Sao Shwe Thaike, Burma's
first independent president from 1948-1952. This article was
contributed to The Nation.


January 14, 1996

MAE HONG SON _ Ethnic Karenni guerrillas, who lost their
headquarters near the northern Thai border early this month to
the Burmese army, have cut the Burmese supply route, forcing them
to forage in Thailand.

Thai security officers in Mae Hong Son said about 20 Burmese
soldiers from the 218th Battalion had intruded into Baan Nam
Pieng Din in Muang district.

Two were arrested and handed over to the military for questioning. They 
confessed that they entered Thailand to look for food, the officer said.

They said the Burmese troops are facing a severe food shortage
because forces of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP)
have been successfully raiding Burmese supply convoys.

They added that KNPP forces clashed heavily at 5 pm on Friday
with Burmese troops around Doi Saeng and Thanakway, which was
captured by the Burmese army early this month.

The officers said they believe the KNPP will continue their
efforts to recapture the strategic bases they lost.