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BurmaNet News January 22, 1996 #328
- Subject: BurmaNet News January 22, 1996 #328
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- Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 07:27:00
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"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: January 22, 1996
Noted in Passing:
INDEPENDENT REPORT: TALK OF THE TOWN
January 21, 1996
from a recent visitor to Rangoon
Latest information has it that the USDA were celebrating the new year in
especially grand style this year. It seems that USDA officials are being
given more 'perks' in an attempt to strengthen the organisation and
Fishermen in Pya Pone township in the Irrawaddy delta region made
especially generous 'contributions'. All of the 200 or so fishermen in the area
were required to pay 3,000 Kyat for a fishing licence for the season. Where
did this 600,000 Kyat go? Where else but to the CEC members of Pya Pone
USDA. A happy new year indeed.
Meanwhile, the Pya Pone farmers were also making
generous 'contributions'. The Slorc have recently been trying to increase
rice production by requiring farmers to plant second crops of 'summer
paddy'. More rice exports means more foreign exchange for the generals, of
course. Good for the generals, but not so good for the farmers, it seems.
In order to plant summer paddy, the farmers need to replenish the soil
with expensive fertilisers. Not only this, but they need to buy water
pumps and set up irrigation to keep the fields flooded in the dry season.
All this costs each farmer about 50,000 Kyat. Quite a lot of money,
considering that the summer crop can only be sold for about 30,000 Kyat--a
net loss of 20,000 Kyat plus quite a lot of hard work.
Keen to have their own new-year party, the local Ya Wa Ta (Suburb Law and
Order Restoration Council) have come up with the perfect compromise. In Pya
Pone (and, we suspect, elsewhere too) the farmers can simply 'donate' 20,000
Kyat to the Ya Wa Ta instead of planting the summer paddy. A perfect solution
all round. The Ya Wa Ta get their new-year party, and tell their superiors in
the Ma Wa Ta (Township Law and Order Restoration Council) that the paddy
has been planted. The Ma Wa Ta boys carry on like nothing happened, and
announce great success with the double-cropping scheme. The farmers get to
take a rest in preparation for the coming season, while losing the same
amount of money that they would if they had done all that hard work.
But the generals seem to have lost out on their foreign exchange, and perhaps
they won't be too happy when they find out.
Outside Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's house, the crowd continues to grow.
On Saturday, January 13, over 5,000 people gathered in front of No. 54 to
hear The Lady speak. Regulars say it was the biggest crowd since the NLD's
decision to withdraw from the National Convention.
Not everyone, though, is there for the speech. Those in the know say that the
rowdy group always near the front that seems to be supporting Daw Suu most
loudly are actually members of Military Intelligence 'Column 5'. For those who
may not have heard, these are the same people who are trained to cause problems
within opposition groups, and perhaps even infiltrate the VOA.
COMMENTARIES ON SLORC'S BAN ON STANFORD TOUR GROUP
January 21, 1996
posted individually on burmanet-l and compiled here.
The SLORC's decision to bar the Stanford tour group is, among other
things, a proof that SLORC is made up of a group of thieves who open
and read someone's private mail. They apparently inherit this (reading
mail) from Newin's regime. Shame on SLORC!
The non sequiters in this discussion group is touching indeed.
SLORC are thieves and snoops because one group was denied permission
to visit Myanmar on its conditions. Hmmm. What would your word be
for anyone who steals your chattel? Human rights activists?
The SLORC was called a bunch of snoops and thieves BECAUSE THEY
OPENED SOMEONE ELSE'S MAIL. How is this a non-sequiter?
Anxiously awaiting your cogent reply,
Very simple. The argument was that because they barred the Stanford
Tours group, SLORC is a bunch of thieves and snoops who open and
read someone's mail. That is a non sequiter. Are you suggesting by
the way, that by this token, because the United States Government at
one time, probably still does, read and open mail not meant for them,
it is also a thief and a snoop.
There are a lot of things you can blame on the Burmese
government, indeed any government democratic or autocratic. But let
us keep that blame within believable limits. What I have noticed in
this discussion about Burma is the naive belief that SLORC can be
blamed for anything and everything. Yet when the Soviet Union and
China blames the United States for anything and everything wrong with
the world, Moscow and Beijing are blamed for being communist.
There are a lot of things wrong with Burma. Let us focus those
issues and see how Burma can be brought back to a level of reasonable
acceptance. That is what I find missisng in this discussion. If
Burma does not serve good quality Argentine beef at a dinner for a
visiting dignitary, then that is good enough reason, it seems, to
accuse SLORC of eating boiled babies for breakfast.
It is not irrelevant to conclude that SLORC are thieves and snoops. Nor is
it improper to blame SLORC for everything that is wrong in Burma today. Let
us not forget SLORC is an outlaw government. It has assumed total authority
over every aspect of life in Burma. Therefore, whether it wants to
acknowledge the responsibility which accompanies usurped authority, SLORC is
responsible. It is responsible for the reign of terror it has imposed. It is
responsible for the corruption which exists. It is responsible for all, since
its claims authority for all. It can only be relieved of this responsibility
when it transfer political power to the elected government. We do not have
to be nice to tyrants. We should only be honest.
RESPONSE TO OSAMU YASUDA'S PIECE ON BURMA
January 22, 1996
(the full text was posted in BurmaNet #327)
"Does Suu Kyi not realize that ASEAN's constructive engagement and
China's impressive economic inroads echo a common chord within the
Myanmar people?" -- Osamu Yasuda
Citizens of Burma, does this man speak for you? If not, please let him
know. He can be reached at the following address:
Mr. Osamu Yasuda, Director
Nomura Research Institute
Kanagawa-ken 240 JAPAN
RESPONSE FROM ZAR NI: (excerpts)
January 21, 1996
What is noteworthy is that these staunch advocates of the so-called
constructive engagement seem to be the ones who are poised to gain much for
themselves from kowtowing the illigetimate SLORC, which even the world's
most influential pro-business paper calls "thugs".
If Osamu Yasudasan is serious about doing research (one would assume from
his title he does some research on Burma, despite his apparent ignorance of
politics, culture, and economy of my country) on contemporary Burma and Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi's economic and political vision, he should begin his first
lesson with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Oxford Lecture "Towards a True Refuge",
which can be found in "Freedom from Fear" (1995 Revised Edition).
Before he makes himself look stupid again, Director Osamu Yasuda would do
well to read the following edited volume which provides thoughtful and
informed analysis on many past and several current sanctions and episodes:
David Cortright and George A. Lopezz (ed), Economic Sanctions: Panacea or
Peacebuilding in a Post-Cold War World (Oxford: Westview, 1995).
BKK POST: INTERNATIONAL TEAM SEEKS WAYS TO RESTORE
DEMOCRACY IN BURMA January 19, 1996
By Ralph Bachoe
AN investigation team from the International Parliamentary
Delegation met senior executives of the National Council of the
Union of Burma yesterday to discuss the prospects for democracy
in their country.
The five-member team was presented with a position paper prepared
by the NCUB at a two-hour, closed-door meeting at the Dusit Thani Hotel.
The Burmese opposition group called on the parliamentarians to
explore what means are available within United Nations principles
and procedures to expedite the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council's compliance with General Assembly resolutions.
Some resolutions demand that the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC) take necessary steps, including the release of
political prisoners, the lifting of restrictions on political
parties and initiation of substantive dialogue with opposition
The NCUB also asked the team to initiate moves towards an
international inquiry into the involvement of the SLORC in
international drug trafficking.
Kjell Magne Bondervik chairman of the delegation, said: "We
wanted to be informed of the situation in Burma, to be updated."
He also said the purpose of the meeting was to express support
for the opposition National League for Democracy, which was
denied its 1990 election landslide victory by the generals.
"We recognise the NLD as the real authority in Burma," Mr
Bondervik said. The delegation also wanted to meet the SLORC to
help start dialogue with opposition groups.
"But", said Mr Bondervik, "that has been impossible since they
don't want to meet us."
Mr Bondervik, parliamentary leader of the Norwegian Christian
Democratic Party and former foreign minister, and his delegation
were refused visas by the Rangoon regime to visit the country.
He said he and Lennart Bodstrom, who represents the Olof Palme
International Centre in Sweden, recently told the press in Oslo
of the SLORC's decision. Mr Bodstrom in also an ambassador and
former foreign minister.
Mr Bondevik and Bodstrom said basic human rights had to be
realised all over the world. "This," said Mr Bondevik "can be
found in the UN Declaration of Human Rights whereby it is not
limited to the Western part of the world. It is for the whole
world, and also for Asia."
Asian countries, including Thailand, have long argued that
Western values cannot govern human rights. Referring to
"constructive engagement", Mr Bondevik considered Thailand to
play a key role as a neighbouring country and the delegation
understands the difficulties.
He said the group expressed their views at the Foreign Ministry.
"The main point for Thailand is to get [Burma] out of isolation.
But my question is how will this affect the democratisation of Burma?"
He cited South Africa as an example of where a combination of
pressure, economic sanctions and support for the
opposition led to the restoration of democratic law and order.
Mr Bondevik also expressed disappointment at the ongoing
investment by foreign companies, including two from his country
which are contemplating doing business in Burma.
Investing in Burma would only "strengthen the regime" he said,
and he has recommended Norwegian companies not to invest in Burma
because of the oppressive political climate.
Other members of the delegation at the meeting with the NCUB
included Mrs Yasudo Takemura of the Japanese Socialist Party and
a Diet member; Sri Lankan MP Neelan Tiruchelvam; and Abdul Hasan
Chowdhury, International .Affairs Secretary in the Bangladesh
Two more members of the. group who failed to make the trip
because of political commitments in their countries are Mrs
Sheikh Hasina, president of the Awami League; and
US Congressman Bill Richardson.
The NCUB is made up of the National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma the National League for Democracy (Liberated
Area), the Democratic Alliance of Burma and the National
Also included as members by; right are all MPs elected in the
1990 elections who arrived in; the liberated zones of Burma.
A press conference was later held where testimonies were heard
from five people from Burma about the atrocities and forced
labour practiced by the Burmese military regime.
The five included a 56-year- old Karen woman, a Mon refugee
coordinator, a board member of the New Era Journal, and two
young men who had a been conscripted as forced labourers in
Burma. Each of them gave a brief a account of how they had suffered at
the hands of SLORC troops.
On January 20, 1996, The Nation (Lawmakers mull plan of action in bid to
pressure Burma) added:
Lennart Bodstrom, a former Swedish foreign minister and part of
the visiting group, said he will do everything in his power to
get the current Swedish minister for foreign affairs to raise the
Burmese issue within the European Union before the first
Asia-Europe Summit in Bangkok on March 1-2.
Many countries had supported the annual UN resolution on Burma,
Bodstrom said. He was hopeful that European countries such
Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and a number of smaller
countries, will be interested in discussing the issue.
NATION: KAREN REBELS THREATEN TO ATTACK THAI REFUGEE CAMPS
January 21, 1006
MAE SOT _ A splinter group of Burma's Karen rebels is threatening
to attack Thai refugee camps in an effort to force members of the
Karen guerilla group back into Burma.
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) has accused the Karen
National Union (KNU) of hiding large arms caches in Thailand and
of operating from inside the Kingdom.
Cpt Kyaw Thay, the DKBA commander at Kawmoora, a camp opposite
Thailand's Mae Sot district in Tak, said that as long as the KNU
remains in Thailand his forces will continue their efforts to drive it out.
The DKBA, he said, has repeatedly entered Karen refugee camps in
Tak's Tha Song Yang district because Thai authorities had failed
to act against many KNU members taking shelter there.
He said he knows where the KNU has hidden its arms in Thailand
and that his Karen Buddhist forces will try to find them.
Kyaw Thay said the DKBA wants the KNU's weapons and has asked to
negotiate with Thai authorities for permission to search for
them. But Thai officials have refused to do so, he added.
"Thai authorities probably do not know where the KNU has hidden
its arms caches, but we do. That's why we want to get permission
to enter Thailand to unearth them without hurting anybody.
We want the weapons only because if the KNU keeps them, it can
use them to fight us.' said the 33-year-old commander.
His group, he said, has sought to hold talks with the KNU and
sent a letter on May 19 last year to KNU Sixth Brigade Commander
Gen Shwe Saing. The Karen leader has never replied to the letter.
Kyaw Thay, whose forces seized the Kawmoora camp early last year
from the KNU, said his group has often been wrongly accused of
attacks on Thai citizens within Thailand.
He said that his group was not responsible for the robbing of
Thai border villagers or a hand-grenade that exploded in a
tourist coach last year.
The DKBA threat to continue trespassing into Thailand has
prompted the Kingdom to boost the strength of its forces along a
100-kilometre stretch of border to stop any increase in attacks.
Thai intelligence officers in Mae Sot said Karen refugees in Baan
Huay Kalok camp were warned by the DKBA that its forces would
enter their refuge between Jan 18 and 21.
The threat led many of the more than 6,000 refugees to flee to
other camps or elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Thai officers said the Burmese junta plans to
designate Homong, the site of the headquarters of opium warlord
Khun Sa, as a new district in the Shan State. Homong lies
opposite Thailand's Mae Hong Son province.
The decision came during a visit on Thursday to Homong by Lt Gen
Maung Thint, Burma's minister for Border Areas and National Races
Development, and Maj Gen Tin Htut, commander of Burma's
BKK POST: KNU TROOPS KILL 8 RIVAL CAMP SOLDIERS IN ATTACK
January 21, 1996 Tak
AT least eight soldiers of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
died yesterday in clashes with Karen National Union troops across
the border from Tha Song Yang.
The 150-strong KNU force, led by Col Bena, went into the attack
at about 1 a.m. using 81mm and 60mm mortars and recoilless guns.
Their target was a DKBA operational base near Hill 608 where
there were about 50 soldiers commanded by Maj Maung Soe.
After an hour, some 60 Burmese government soldiers from Hill 608
arrived to reinforce the DKBA.
Another clash occurred after about 150 KNU soldiers of the 7th
Division, led by Col Maung Tone, shelled a DKBA position at Maw
Klae, across the border from Ban Mae La.
The attack forced the DKBA to withdraw. The KNU soldiers who
cleared the area at about 5 a.m. found seven bodies of DKBA
soldiers at the site.
About 50 KNU soldier retreated across the border into Thailand
but were repulsed by the 344th Border Patrol Police Company and
422nd Infantry Company.
The body of a DKBA soldier, Lt Maung Rawa, was found on the Thai
side of the border with an AK47 rifle and rocket launcher.
The KNU attacks are believed to be retaliation for the January 9
murder of a former KNU general, Hta Lue, at Mae La camp for Karen
refugees in Tha Song Yang.
BKK POST: DRUG DEAL NO SURPRISE SAYS KAREN LEADER
January 21, 1996
Khun Sa's Shan state empire, believed to be largest supplier
of heroin in the world, has broken down at the hands of Burma's ruling
Slorc. Bangkok Post Assistant Editor Ralph Bachoe talks to Karen leader
General Saw Bo Mya about what happens now to the drug trade.
THE United States will not be able to convince the ruling Burmese
military junta to extradite drug warlord Khun Sa to stand trial in the US
on drugs charges, according to Karen leader General Saw Bo Mya.
Khun Sa and the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council
(Slorc) were collaborators in the narcotics business, said Gen Bo
Mya. "I have always told the Americans that this is the case."
He was speaking at the recent 3rd Central Committee Meeting of
the Democratic Alliance of Burma at an undisclosed location in
the Karen National Union 6th Brigade's Headquarters inside Burma.
The Karen leader said Slorc would never hand over Khun Sa to the
Americans and that the drug warlord would not be tried in Burmese
courts. "Or even if there should be a trial, it will be one of a
token nature," he said.
Mention of a $2 million reward America posted for the capture of
Khun Sa caused Saw Bo Mya, 67, to burst out in laughter. "America
has offered $2 million for Khun Sa's arrest. Now what if Khun Sa
turns around and offers Slorc $20 million? Then what would the
American government do?"
The Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP), as well as the Slorc,
have always been involved in the opium trade, he said. "Now the
Slorc dares not hand over Khun Sa to the Americans because they
are afraid that he will spill the beans concerning their
involvement in the drug business."
Two years ago, when Slorc troops were marching on Khun Sa's
stronghold, they turned back after the warlord gave them 40
million kyats ($6.6 million official or 720 million kyat on the black market).
This, Saw Bo Mya said, was disclosed to him by officials of the
now-defunct Shan State Army.
Reuters recently quoted an officer of the Mong Tai Army as
saying: "Since 1992, Khun Sa paid 500,000 kyats ($5,000 on the
black market or $83,333 at the official rate) a month to the
general commanding this region ."
Meanwhile, Tin Maung Win, vice-chairman of the Democratic
Alliance of Burma, said of Khun Sa's deal with the Slorc: "I
don't think it will have an impact as to the. reduction of opium output.
"Production will remain stable or even perhaps increase in
tonnage. There is the possibility of many drug bonfires being
staged in the near future as a smokescreen to demonstrate their
sincerity in drug eradication.
"Second, I would not like to predict the outcome in the wake of
the deal cut between Slorc and Khun Sa. However, it comes as a
great relief to all of us because in the future authors from
around the world, including those from the West, who come out
with books like Opium Politics and Burma, and Opium Politics in
Asia and Revolutionary Resistance Forces will not be able to make
any more blanket accusations against revolutionary forces like us
from this day on.
"In the future only the Slorc and Khun Sa will have to be fully
responsible when it comes to matters pertaining to opium
At one time, he said, the Karens were accused of dealing drugs.
An influential Thai businessman hinted that Saw Bo Mya and Khun
Sa had come to an understanding in the drug trade after they met
five years ago at MTA's Ho Mong headquarters.
It was alleged Khun Sa had then paid Saw Bo Mya an undisclosed
sum of money. Tin Maung Win claimed the allegation shocked
Washington, which believed the rumours.
"So now that Khun Sa has gone over to the Slorc and is no more in
the territories occupied by the democratic forces, it has come as
a great relief to the revolutionary fighters. Also, now Khun Sa
can legally deal in opium with the Slorc's full blessing," he said.
"In addition, Khun Sa's move has also proved a boon to Shan
nationalists in the sense that their credibility as freedom
fighters would be restored," Tin Maung Win added. Shan
nationalists had earlier deserted the Mong Thai Army.
Saw Bo Mya said the Khun Sa-Slorc deal came as no surprise. "From
the very beginning Khun Sa has been a Slorc lackey. Before he got
into the opium growing business, Khun Sa was leader of the
Village Defence Force [local militia] under the BSPP. In return
he was given a free hand to deal in opium and guns.
The Village Defense Force, or Ka Kwe Ye, was formed as a
deterrent to revolutionary forces fighting the Rangoon junta.
Khun Sa was conscripted into the force in 1950. Years later he
ran into trouble with the military regime and was jailed for four
years before being released in 1973. He later moved to Ho Mong
and set up the MTA.
Saw Bo Mya believes the BSPP had told Khun Sa to go underground.
"This is because the Burmese military had never seriously staged
an attack on the MTA despite receiving 10 helicopters and
financial support from the United States to suppress Khun Sa.
"All the Slorc did was to attack the Karens and other minority
guerrilla forces," he said.
Before Slorc captured the KNU headquarters at Manerplaw in
January 1995, they declared they would launch an attack on Khun
Sa's base, and Washington believed them.
"But all they did was to concentrate on Manerplaw while they were
not serious in really going after Khun Sa's forces because Slorc
forces withdrew from the scene of the battle with the Shans after
only two or three days."
The Karen leader had met his Shan counterpart only once to
negotiate a deal about stemming the flow of drugs to West
Germany. Local press reports, however, said that Saw Bo Mya had
visited Ho Mong to buy artillery rounds and also to train the MTA
in using landmines. The KNU denied the report.
According to Saw Bo Mya, the reason for the trip to Shan state
was to relay a message from a West German named Dr Duther who he
had earlier met.
The German, according to Saw Bo Mya, had told him that many
youngsters of rich German families are becoming drug addicts and
their families were prepared to financially support the cause of
drug eradication in their country.
He asked if it would be possible for Saw Bo Mya to contact Khun
Sa and convince him to stop heroin production. "If this was
possible," said Saw Bo Mya, "the German told me that both Khun Sa
and the Karen revolution would be rewarded financially for our
efforts. So I undertook the journey."
Describing his meeting, Saw Bo Mya said he told Khun Sa to stop
his activities as the world was against drugs.
He said he told Khun Sa: "If you are prepared to work towards
opium eradication, Germany is prepared to support you
financially, so how much would it cost annually?" Khun Sa was
said to have replied that he would require $50 million a year and
if that was possible, opium production would be eradicated in six
to eight years.
However, Khun Sa told Saw Bo Mya the growing of opium would not
be halted immediately, but would be gradually reduced from year to year.
"That was Khun Sa's promise, but the German failed to show up,"
said Saw Bo Mya.
After his visit, he waited three months for the German to contact
him. After he failed to show up, the general concluded the German
had probably been killed by drug dealers in Germany.
Saw Bo Mya related another incident concerning the US Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) when he visited Taiwan around 1976. He
said he met a DEA official with whom he discussed the drug
problem in the Golden Triangle.
"This official." he said. "told me that the work of eradicating
drug production and trafficking is not an easy task. It involves
a lot of factors. "Just imagine if we had to drastically crack
down on heroin production at one go, what would then come of the
DEA workers? They would soon be out of work."
Drawing an analogy between this alleged conversation and the
Slorc, a Burmese democratic dissident explained why the Rangoon
junta had to have a 300,000-strong military.
He said it would look pointless for Slorc in the eyes of the
international community to keep expanding its armed forces if
there were no external or internal threats.
So instead of staging an all-out offensive and making it appear
that it was difficult to come to terms with the rebels, and by
not calling for a ceasefire all these years, the Slorc has been
able to justify its arms build-up.
Likewise, the dissident source said, if America had years ago
waged an all-out war against drug barons for the immediate
cessation of heroin production, the DEA would not exist today.
According to Jack Anderson, a Washington D.C. based columnist 79
US Federal agencies are involved in one capacity or another in
dealing with the drug trade from the DEA to the Coast Guard. And
this does not include the local police force.
BKK POST: BO MYA URGES SINCERITY
January 21, 1996
Bo Mya talks about the prospects of peace with the Rangoon
government and touches on other subjects like his impressions of
Aung San Suu Kyi. Bangkok Post Assistant Editor RALPH BACHOE
DESPITE recent talks between a Karen National bunion delegation
and senior members of the ruling State Law and Order restoration
Council, and a second and scheduled for next month, prospects for
an end to the 47-year conflict are remote.
The two sides met last month in Mon State capital of Moulmein and
in Rangoon for the first time since their failed negotiations in
the Burmese capital in 1963.
Since 1989, the military junta has signed ceasefire deals with 15
guerrilla army groups, including the powerful Kachin Independence
The recent feather in the cap for the Slorc was the surrender of
drug warlord Khun Sa and his Mong Tai Army this month.
But KNU leader Gen Saw Bo Karen people hinted that peace would
not come easily because the sincerity of the Slorc remains open
"I seriously doubt the Slorc is sincere about achieving genuine
peace because it continues with its policy of forced labour,
portering, torture and other human rights abuses against the
The 67-year-old patriarch of the Karen said fighting would end
only after mutual agreement is reached between the two groups
whereby there would be give and take.
He accused the Slorc of only demanding the minority guerrilla
forces to return to the legal fold and questioned the legality of
the military junta.
"Is there any legality in the Burmese government? After all, the
Slorc just wants us to surrender, and that we cannot do. Both
sides must arrive at a mutual understanding."
The Karen have been fighting for greater autonomy since 1949, and
later for a federal system of government in Burma.
Saw Bo Mya said the Slorc's strategy is to convince ethnic
guerrilla forces to surrender and return to them a limited number
of small arms so the guerrillas can take up the role of Village
Defense Forces (militia).
With a note of sarcasm, he said the so-called deals struck
between the SLORC and the minority guerrilla groups is presented
in the local press as surrender, not ceasefire.
"They will say," he said, "the Karen have surrendered
unconditionally after having realised the error of their ways,
and have now returned to the legal fold."
But on the ground, little is changing. The SLORC's dry season
offensive on the mobile headquarters of the Karen National
Liberation Army's 6th Brigade area has already begun, said Saw Bo
"Battles are now raging in Toungoo, Naunglebin and Papun
districts," he said. "However, the Slorc troops have not advanced
on the 6th Brigade area as yet."
He said his 20,000 troops have been deployed along the perimeter
from Toungoo in southeastern Burma down to the Mergui-Tavoy
district in the south, and are well prepared to meet the enemy.
But in a compromising tone, the Karen leader said he is prepared
to give up his armed struggle and support Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt,
Secretary I of the Slorc, if he would be noble enough to restore
full democracy to Burma.
"If he can do this," he said, "he will be recognised as a leader
and I will guarantee no revenge will be taken against him. In
addition he will have my full backing."
The Karen leader said he was prepared to forgive the defection of
the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army to the Slorc, which led to the
eventual capture of the KNA's Manerplaw headquarters and Kawmoora
base last year.
The DKBA broke from the KNU in December 1994 and joined the Slorc
forces early the following year. The breakaway group had accused
the Christian-dominated top echelon KNU members of discrimination
against rank and file Buddhist Karens.
He said: "The KNU is prepared to forgive and forget these people
who have gone over to the Slorc but I can offer no guarantee to
the deserters guilty of acts of violence against Karen refugees.
He was referring to the renegade Buddhist Karens accused of
harassing refugees at border camps in a campaign of looting,
kidnapping and killing to coerce them to return to Burma.
According to Saw Bo Mya, 50 of the 400 or so DKBA soldiers have
so far rejoined the KNLA. The rest, he explained, have not
returned either because they are afraid to confront angry
villagers or are under close surveillance by the Slorc.
As to the present relationship with Thai authorities, Saw Bo Mya
said he and his forces are being left alone. "We have no problems
However, he complained that it appears Thai officials are turning
a blind eye to the frequent incursions by DKBA troops on Karen
refugee camps along the border.
"They [Thai security forces] are not providing adequate
protection for the refugees." He believes this indicates the
Thais want the refugees to return to Burma.
Talking about his impressions of Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, Saw Bo Mya hoped she would follow in her father's footsteps
to help solve the ethnic question.
"She is an educated person and is the daughter of Gen Aung San. I
hope she would follow in her father's footsteps whenever the
ethnic problem arises and also where the ethnic policy is
He said that based on her personal experiences after having being
under house arrest for almost six years, "she should correctly
analyse the present situation and I hope that she would do her
best for the people of Burma."
He emphasised that Burma's ethnic enigma is unique and very
difficult to tackle. Even though Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is sincere
in wishing to solve the issue, he said: "She should press the
Slorc into peace talks with her and the Democratic forces and the
"Also I would like to suggest that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her
National League for Democracy have a clear cut policy concerning
the ethnic minorities and a federal system of government."
He pointed out Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is facing tremendous
difficulties in convincing the Slorc to engage in dialogue for
national reconciliation and peace, and that he is convinced she
now realises that the Slorc is not sincere.
"Now this is not only an ethnic problem but has also become a
national problem to get rid of an evil system and establish a
democratic federal union.
"Anyhow we must work together and support one another," he added.
BKK POST: KAREN VILLAGERS TELL OF SLORC ATROCITIES
January 21, 1996
FORCED labour and harassment of villagers is a daily occurrence
Karens residing from Papun district down to the Mergui-Tavoy area
in the Tennaserrim Division are being forced to contribute free
labour or face the consequences such as death or destruction of
an entire village.
Two letters received recently at the residence of Karen leader
General Saw Bo Mya from Papun district testified to the existence
of such practice being brazenly carried out by the State Law and
Order Restoration Council (Slorc).
Slorc has repeatedly denied reports from human rights groups,
including those published by the United Nations, that forced
labour exists in the country. Instead they call it "voluntary labour".
Following are translations of the two letters from one village
elder and the chairman of Papun district.
This is what a Slorc commander wrote to U Htun Hla, a village
elder from Htwede village in the first week of this month. The
village is situated north of Papun district.
#Dear U Htun Hla,
I have repeatedly requested you to come to the camp. Why haven't
you come? Your village is always to supply us with six volunteer
workers. So far we have received. only two of them.
Neither soldiers or officials have visited our village. What do
you think of us? Are you trying our patience? If you people don't
accept the peaceful means and ways in our dealings with you, then
you all will be in trouble. Your lives would be ruined.
As soon as you receive my letter, I would like you to attend a
meeting with the platoon leader of Camp No. 434 which is on the
Included with the letter in the envelope was a bullet and a dried
chilli. This is a warning sign to indicate that if their
instructions are not followed, people in the village would either
be killed or the entire village would be burned to the ground.
The letter was written by the company commander of the 434 Light
A LETTER to the KNU headquarters from the chairman of Papun
district complaining about Slorc harassment of the villagers in
that area read:
#Slorc has now entered Taekhode Village and has burnt it to the
ground. They also torched all the rice barns in the village. A
total of more than 200 baskets (20,000 kilogrammes) of rice were
destroyed after the rice barns between Taekhode and Sawbwede
villages were put to the torch by Slorc troops.
The informer said he will write again when more details are
obtained. He continued:
#The people are suffering tremendously because of the shortage of
rice after the barns were destroyed in the fires.
The troops who went on the ram-page belonged to the LID 105, LID
434 and LID 340.
Frontline divisions have about 300 men to a unit.
BKK POST: DAB APPOINTS STUDENTS TO TEMPORARY POSITIONS
January 21, 1996
TEMPORARY appointments were made at the recently concluded Third
Central Committee meeting of the Democratic Alliance of Burma
(DAB) at an undisclosed location inside Burma.
The meeting was held from January 9-12, and was attended by 15
groups of the 19-member alliance.
Dr Naing Aung of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF)
was appointed joint-secretary of the DAB, and Moe Thee Zun, who
belongs to the breakaway faction of the ABSDF, was elected
assistant secretary of the military committee.
The two student leaders will hold their posts until mid-April
when the next congress will be convened.
Both student factions have also agreed to hold a reconciliation
meeting in the near future with the DAB to continue to play the
role of mediator.
The reconciliation committee is headed by Gen Tamla Baw, Ashin U
Khemasara, Khine Soe Naing Aung. All are advisers to the
Alliance. The other committee member is U Myint Zaw, acting
general secretary to the DAB.
In other developments, the Pa-o Peoples' Liberation Organisation
was voted in as the 20th member of the Alliance while the
application for membership by the Mergui-Tavoy Division United
Front was shelved for consideration.
The Central Committee of the DAB has assigned the Central
Executive Committee to scrutinise the application and to meet
with leaders of the Front to clarify policy matters before
deciding whether to accept the group into the Alliance.
Meanwhile Gen Saw Bo Mya and Tin Maung Win retained their
positions as chairman and vice-chairman of the DAB.