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Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 22:13:11 +0000
Subject: BURMA CALLS BOYCOTT OF THAI GOODS, CURRENCY
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Organization: Forum for Democracy and Human Rights
BURMA CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF THAI GOODS, CURRENCY
26 January 1996.
Bangkok, Jan. 25: Burmese troops are trying to eradicate Thai economic
influence in parts of northeast Shan state which they recently took over from
drug lord Khun Sa, a Thai security officer said on Thursday.
The move, which includes a call on people in the area to boycott Thai goods
and to stop using the Thai baht as a medium of exchange, comes after a year
relation between the neighbours.
"Burmese soldiers told villagers to stop consuming Thai food, to stop buying
Thai products and to minimise the use of Thai Baht," the security source said.
Burmese troops moves into areas of Shan state adjacent to the border with
Thailand earlier this month after veteran drug lord Khun Sa agreed to end his
guerrilla war and surrender to the government.
Burmese troops are now on large parts of their border with Thailand for the
first time in decades following Khun Sa's surrender of his zones at the beginning
of the month.
The Shan and Thai people are ethnically, culturally and linguistically closely
linked. This affinity has for decades been enhanced by the politic of the region
with rebels groups, such as Khun Sa's army, pitted against the Burmese Army
and looking to Thailand as a politically neutral source of smuggled supplies.
Before Khun Sa's surrender most rice, other food and household products
were smuggled in to his zones from Thailand and Thai Baht were far from more
common than Burmese Kyat as a medium of exchange.
Burmese soldiers have set up checkpoints along trails leading to the border to
stop all smuggling in and out from Thailand, the Thai security officer said.
Burmese troops were even ordering people to remove any connection with
Thailand, he said.
Chinese goods were now replacing Thai products in the markets and shops,
and the Burmese rice on sale was about one-third the price of Thai rice
previously sold in the markets. Many of the thousands of inhabitants of Ho
Mong, where Khun Sa had his headquarters, had moved out because the ban on
trading Thai products had deprived them of their livelihood, he said.
Burmese launched a similar campaign against Thai products along other parts
of the border last year when relations between the two countries were strained
after a series of border incidents, including rows over fishing in the Andaman Sea.
Bangkok played down that boycott, saying it was just a local-level move and
did not reflect Rangoon's policies.
Meanwhile, three Thai fishermen were sentenced to 25 years in prison for the
murder of two Burmese seamen in the Andaman Sea last August.
The Thai fishermen, sentenced in the southern port of Rangoon on Wednesday,
attacked the Burmese seamen who were working on the Thai vessel after the
boat lost its lincence to fish in Burmese waters.
The incident infuriated Burma and led to the closure in August of all crossing
points along the entire Thai-Burmese border and a ban on all Thai boats fishing
in Burmese waters. The border closures and fishing ban are still in effect.