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BurmaNet News January 7, 1997

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

The BurmaNet News: January 7, 1997
Issue #606


January 6, 1997

Shoklo Mortar Attack

On January 4,1996,  three 81 motar shells were fired from the Burmese side
into Shoklo Refugee Camp on the Thai side. Two of the shells exploded but o=
did  not. Three refugees were wounded and two of them very seriously. These
two were taken to Measot Hospital. Neither the SLORC nor the DKBA has yet
claimed responsibility but the unexploded shell had markings of SLORC stock=

KNU Information Center


Jan. 6, 1997 TODAY daily newspaper (Philippines)
By Butch Fernandez

Sen. Raul Roco pressed the Senate yesterday to declare its support for Nobe=
Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in her fight for democracy against the ruling
military junta in Burma.

Roco said this should be one of the New Year resolutions the 24-man
chamber should pass when Congress starts regular sessions on January 20.

Roco earlier filed Resolution 448 and a supplementary resolution expressing
support for Suu Kyi, which the Senate has yet to act upon.

He pressed for early passage of the resolution and expressed hopes that
other democratic governments would do the same amid recent reports of
increasing repression against Suu Kyi and her followers in the Burmese capi=

Roco said reports that the Burmese junta recently required Suu Kyi to infor=
it of her movements and her visitors "blackened Myanmar's [the junta's new
name for Burma] image before the international community."

It was also reported that the junta barred journalists from meeting with Su=
Kyi at her home, adding that if they wanted to, they can meet her elsewhere
- a condition that human rights advocates found ridiculous, since Suu Kyi
has been under virtual house arrest since student protests rocked the
capital, Rangoon.

"As a nation, we are proud and zealous of our freedoms and democratic syste=
in this part of the world," Roco said the manifestation of support from
other countries is important to Suu Kyi and her National League for
Democracy, as it was with freedom- loving Filipinos who resisted and
successfully toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

"When Filipinos were fighting repression under martial law, our resolve
would be strengthened upon news of support by other freedom-loving peoples
[and it is the same for Suu Kyi and her followers now," said Roco.


January 6, 1997  (abridged)
by Assawin Pinitwong

MAE HONG SON: A large number of ethnic minority groups seeking
shelter along  Burma' s borders are to gather today at a border
area opposite the Thai province of Tak to discuss their line of=20
attack against Burma' s military junta.
The groups, who include Kayah, Mon, Wah, Shan, Arakan, Kachin, Chin, and
members of the Karen National Union (KNU), are currently living in Burma's
troubled regions bordering Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.
The move comes  three days after troops from Burma attacked a
Karenni refugee Muang district.

Col Char chai Nakprapai, deputy commander of Mae Hong Son's 7th
Infantry special task force, described the incident as an invasion of Thai

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident, which is believed t=
have been carried out either by Slorc  troops or by a breakaway group from=
the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) supported by the  Junta.=20
Although several of Burma's ethnic groups have signed cease-fire
agreements with the junta in recent years, SLORC violations of
the pacts have led to further incidents of violence flaring up
along Burma's  borders. The minority groups report both political
and social discrimination under the hands of the military regime.

The Bangkok-based  All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF)
yesterday issued a statement condemning the SLORC and calling on
the international community to help Burma's plight.


January 6, 1997   Reuters

RANGOON : A Buddhist relic which was on the site of a December 25
bombing that killed five people and injured 17 has not been moved
as planned to Mandalay, a source in Burma's Ministry of Religious
Affairs said yesterday.

The sacred Tooth Relic, believed to be a tooth of the Lord
Buddha, is on loan to Burma from China for 90 days and was due to
be moved to Burma's second city Mandalay yesterday.

But the original itinerary of the Tooth Relic might be changed in
the wake of the recent bomb attack in the Kaba Aye Maha Pasana
Cave which houses the relic, the source said.

"It is still early to know for sure how (the itinerary) will be changed.=20
What we can be sure about is that it will be changed," he told Reuters.

Originally, the relic was to be transported by road to Mandalay
with stops in six towns for one night each. After four weeks, a
similar trip was to be made with stops in six different cities.

Thousands of pilgrims were paying homage at the cave on the
outskirts of Rangoon on Christmas Day when two bombs exploded.
The blasts did not harm the relic.

Burma's military government has blamed exiled students and the
rebel Karen National Union ethnic group for the bombings. Both
groups have denied involvement.=20

Public access to the relic was temporarily suspended but has been
resumed. Official media said yesterday the relic is still in the
cave where homage can be paid during the daylight hours.


January 6, 1997

Organized by the ALL Burma students League (ABSL)=20

Burma  achieved its independence from the Britishcolonial rule on 4th
January 1948. However, the people of Burma have not been benefitting from
the freedom
they had fought for but face various hardships and pains under the
authoritarian regimes in the country since 1962. The people are now waging
their "Second
independence struggle" fighting against the ruling military government and
for the restoration of democracy and human rights in the country, with the
cooperation of the All Manipur students Union (AMSU) and Kuki students
Organization (KSO), the All Burma Students League is organization a
political programme of "Celebration of the 49th Anniversary of Burma's
Independence Day" on 4th January 1997. The celebration will be held at
border township between Burma and India. The venue of the programme will be
at Krishna
Cinema Hall of Moreh township  of Manipur state in India.=20
     The main objectives of the programme are:

     (1)   To renew the solidarity of the people of India, particularly of
Manipur who have extended support to the people of Burma in their struggle =
the restoration of democracy and human rights in the country ,

     (2)   To highlight the present political, social and economic situatio=
inside Burma under the ruling military regime to the outside world,=20
     (3)   To promote the "the people to people " relationship between the
two communities,

     (4)   To pressurize the authorities of Burma for the prompt
democratization process in the country.

The celebration will start at 11:00 AM and it will be attended by the
political leaders, students and youth leaders, human rights activists and
intellectuals of
Manipur State. Moreover, the Burmese community who are staying in the
Indo-Burma border area will participate at the Independence Day Ceremony.
The chief guest of the ceremony is Mr. O. Joy Singh who is the governor of
the friends of Burma in Manipur and also the President of the Manipur
Peoples Party (MPP). The (MPP) is the biggest local political party in
Manipur state. The eminent speakers include Mr. Kh. Jibon Singh, Secretary
General of Janata Dal party in India. Leaders of Congress Party, Dr. R.K.
Ranjan, Deputy Registrar of Manipur University, Mr Ksh. Santa, State
Secretary Council Member of Communist party of India (Marxist) and Mr. L.
Sotinkumar, State Executive Council member of Communist Party of India.
Com. Myat Thu, President of the All Burma Students League, will deliver the
Presidential address at the ceremony. Com. Kyaw Than, Vice-President of the
All Burma Students League (ABSL) will express "Vote of Thanks" to the
speakers and participants at the end of the ceremony. The celebration of
Independence Day will be followed by a "peace march" and a "public rally" a=
the border town. The peace march will highlight the ongoing human rights
violations in Burma committed by the ruling military junta, namely the Stat=
Law and Order Restoration council (SLORC).  The peace marchers will issue a
memorandum demanding the military generals of Burma to transfer the state
power to the National League for Democracy (NLD) immediately and to accept
the offer of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for "the dialogue" to solve the countries
problems politically and peacefully. Moreover, the memorandum will urge the
international community to impose the "Global Trade Embargo" against the
ruling military regime in Burma as it did against the apartheid regime of
South Africa.

Date: 4th January 1997, Place: Imphal, Manipur State of India.


January 3, 1997
by Strider

In April of this year Stephan Brookes, who is trying to build a
journalistic career on articles sympathetic to the SLORC, made a number of
predictions in an article printed in the Asia Times entitled "What the
year 1358 has in store for Myanmar."  By the Burmese calendar, 1358 isn't
quite over yet but as 1996 has come and gone, it is worth looking back at
Brooke's predictions and assigning a tentative grade.=20

by Stephen Brookes=20

 Prediction One: Myanmar'[s economy will continue to grow
 rapidly.  Despite the remaining distortions in the economy,
 gross domestic product can be expected to expand at a rate of
 more than seven percent annually, due to continued capital
 inflows, mobilization of domestic savings, confidence in
 political stability, increased opportunities for entrepreneurs,
 continued privatization of state - owned enterprises, improved
 infrastructure, the likelihood of increased foreign aid, and  other factor=

 Agriculture, which makes up 55 percent of GDP, is being
 aided by government sponsored irrigation and fertilization
 programs, and is expected to continue the spectacular growth
 it has enjoyed for the past several years.

 And one of the key obstacles to industrial expansion -- the
 inadequate energy supply -- should be helped by new supplies
 of natural gas coming on line and the installation of gas turbine engines.

REALITY: Brookes was wrong.  Burma's economy is comatose.  If there is any
growth this year, which is unlikely, it will be de minimis.  Foreign
investment has dropped dramatically and many western companies have
already pulled out.  Even Asian companies are showing a reluctance to set
up shop in Burma because selective purchasing laws in the United States
would penalize them for doing so.  Foreign aid is almost non-existent and
the rice crop doesn't look good.  Foreign oil companies even briefly
stopped shipping gasoline to Burma because the government defaulted on its
bill.  Another default, which has not been widely reported yet, will cost
an American tractor manufacturer several million dollars because the SLORC
can't afford to pay for tractors its ordered and took delivery of.=20

 Prediction Two: Foreign investment may level out, but
 domestic investment will increase.  Businessmen are still
 scared of missing out on Myanmar's spectacular growth, but
 as more realistic expectations set in, foreign investment may
 slow from its frenetic pace of past years.  Much of the recent
 investment has been in the hotel sector, and that may slow as
 investors assess occupancy rates during Visit Myanmar Year  1996.
 Domestic investment is expected to increase, however, as
 more opportunities become available.  Myanmar's first stock
 market will be opening this year, the banking sector is slowly
 being liberalized, and the huge amount of domestic savings
 that is now in the underground banking sector is starting to
 move back into the mainstream economy as savers regain
 confidence in the economy.

REALITY: Brookes was wrong.  Foreign investment has not leveled off.  It
is in a free fall.  There has been almost no significant investment in
Burma since the middle of 1996 and the country is now in an economic
crisis.  The rate of inflation is over 35% and the interest rate paid to
savers is sharply negative.  Most, if not all of the domestic investment
seems to be coming from narcotics related figures such as Lo Hsing Han and
the Asia World Company and Khun Sa.  The most recent foreign investor to
pull out is Peregrine, which generally does well even in countries plagued
by corruption.  That Burma is governed so poorly and corruptly that even
Peregrine can't make money is not a promising sign for the SLORC.=20

 Prediction Three: International aid will not flow in on a major
 scale.  Myanmar is deeply in arrears on its foreign debt, for
 which it may receive help from individual countries.  Japan,
 for example, recently agreed on the extension of debt - relief grants.

 However, while a number of countries, including Japan and
 South Korea, would like to see the IMF resume loans to
 Myanmar (specifically to provide the balance - of - payments
 support that would allow a smooth devaluation of the kyat),
 Washington is likely to continue to veto such aid.  But as the
 SLORC moves to meet more of the IMF economic criteria for
 loans, Washington will face increasing isolation.

REALITY: Brookes was right, sort of.  Foreign aid is not forthcoming.=20
Washington is anything but isolated on this score because the lack of
transparency in the Burmese economy is such that no outside organization
is likely to put money into the country without significant economic reform=

 Prediction Four: Aung San Suu Kyi will go on the offensive.=20
 Yangon is rife with rumors that the NLD, frustrated over
 increasing irrelevance, is planning a dramatic confrontation
 with the government.  One possibility is that Suu Kyi and her
 supporters would deliberately get themselves arrested in an
 act of civil disobedience, thereby refocusing the attention of
 the world press on themselves and possibly inspiring a
 national popular response.

 Few think a strategy is realistic, however.  "Suu Kyi thinks
 that the country is ripe for revolution, that people will rise up
 against the government."  says one diplomat in Yangon.  "But
 it isn't -- that's just wishful thinking on her part.  And the
 SLORC isn't stupid.  They know that arresting her would
 only strengthen her position.  They would arrest her
 supporters and leave her alone."

REALITY: Brookes was wrong.  The country, or at least the universities,
were ripe for revolution.  Aung San Suu Kyi has mostly played it cool.=20
She has called for sanctions and regularly criticizes the regime, but has
not called for street demonstrations or staged acts of civil disobedience.=
Students on the other hand have staged a number of disciplined and
non-violent demonstrations that came as a surprise to the SLORC.  Suu Kyi
does not appear to have had any role in organizing the demonstrations but
the students also pretty clearly share the same goals and don't think of
her as irrelevant.  If anything, the lengths that the students have gone
to to disclaim any overt allegiance to her or the NLD bespeak their
concern for her safety.  SLORC has been the one to push for a
confrontation.  The SLORC orchestrated physical attacks on her and other
NLD leaders and has imposed a limited house arrest on her.=20

 Prediction Five: Some personnel changes in the government
 are possible.  Many of the members of the ruling SLORC are
 over the usual mandatory military retirement age of 60 and
 may retire this year.  A number of military officials have been
 promoted in the past year, creating seven new Ministers Without Portfolio.

REALITY: Brookes was wrong.  So far, the only major change is the demotion
of one minister to "Minister without Portfolio" because of his unseemly
involvement with American investor Miriam Marshall Segal.  Segal lost a
multimillion dollar judgement to her former employer Peregrine and a SLORC
minister was implicated in Segal's attempt to defraud the Hong Kong based
company.  On another note, Gen. Than Shwe is rumored to have suffered a
stroke and does not appear healthy in public appearances.  He may well be
cashiered before 1358 is over.=20

 Prediction Six: The policy of forced labor may be gradually
 abandoned.  The government has been defending its use of
 forced labor in road building and other projects in recent
 months, but may decide that the negative international
 publicity isn't worth the price of free labor.  It's already
 started to give out new road projects to private companies.

REALITY:  Brookes is probably wrong.  SLORC is making a show of using more
military labor on infrastructure projects but the evidence is ambiguous.=20
There may be some reduction in the amount of forced labor.  But if there
is a reduction, is is a modest amount so far and it would be a reduction
from such a high starting point that even a reduced amount of slave labor
would still constitute a violation of human rights on an extraordinary
scale.  The U.S. Embassy in Rangoon estimated the amount of slave labor
used in Burma in 1995 to be equal in value to 27% of the government's cash
revenue.  That would require about 800,000 people per day on each day of
the year.  No other country uses slave labor on such a massive scale (even
China with 20X the population probably does not use as many workers in its
prison labor system).  The road project that Brookes referred to as going
to a private company went to a company owned by Lo Hsing Han, the heroin
warlord.  While the use of narcotics revenues to fund infrastructure is
arguably less egregious than using slave labor, it is not endearing SLORC
to western narcotics officials or governments.=20

 Prediction Seven: The United States will become increasingly
 isolated.  Despite the likelihood of more student protests on
 college campuses and the posturing of some Congressmen and
 Senators, the Clinton administration is unlikely to risk
 abandoning its fence - sitting policy during the election year.=20
 Moreover, the US business community is said to be
 increasingly hostile toward legislation that would forbid
 American companies from investing in Myanmar.

REALITY:  Brookes was wrong.  The U.S. has become less isolated as the
Europeans have warmed to the idea of sanctions.  The European Union just
imposed sanction on Burma for its use of slave labor.  The Clinton
Administration will probably impose sanctions under the Cohen-Feinstein
bill as well, which could trigger further European trade sanctions.=20

 Prediction Eight: Myanmar will move closer to Asean.  In
 fact, Myanmar may join the ASEAN Regional Forum this
 year, as part of its desire to become more involved in regional
 security and political issues.  In contrast tot he position taken
 by the United States, ASEAN has expressed a desire for
 "constructive engagement" with Myanmar.  With the US and
 Europe still opposing the SLORC's politics, Myanmar's
 future looks increasingly closely involved with its Asian neighbors.

REALITY:  Brookes was right, sort of.  SLORC sought to move closer to
ASEAN but ASEAN took some pains to move further away from SLORC.=20
According to some diplomats, SLORC's attempt to exploit ASEAN membership
to deflect criticism over its human rights record was embarrassing.=20

SUMMARY: Out of eight predictions Brookes was wrong on six and gets=20
partial credit on two.  As an analyst, Brookes' merits a D- or F. =20

Since Brookes went out on a limb to make predictions, it is only fair=20
(although probably not wise) to do the same.  So here are a number of=20
predictions for 1997:

1. The United States will impose sanctions on Burma pursuant to the=20
Cohen-Feinstein Amendment, which will prohibit future investment in Burma=
by Americans.

2. Unocal will sell its stake in the Yadana pipeline to another=20
investor.  Likely buyers are Total and Thailand's CP Group.

3.  There will be more student demonstrations in 1997, to be followed by=20
more arrests.

4. After the U.S. imposes sanctions, SLORC will formalize the de facto=20
house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi.

5. After SLORC formalizes the house arrest of Suu Kyi, the Japanese will=20
stop forgiving the foreign debt SLORC owed them ($150 million in interest=
every year on a principal of $3 billion).

6. Lo Hsing Han and/or one or more members of the SLORC will be indicted=20
in the United States on drug related charges.

7. After Singapore's election is over, the United States will increase=20
pressure on Singapore's government to cut its links to the SLORC through=20
its Government Investment fund.  Singapore will distance itself from the SL=

8. The economy will continue to deteriorate and inflation will continue=20
at over 30%.  News of SLORC's defaults on payments to foreign creditors=20
will scare off most new foreign investment.


January 5, 1997

Burma's ethnic Mon guerrillas have been struggling for  more than
half a century for equal rights and  self-determination - and
their battle is far from over. The ceasefire that the New on
State Party (NMSP) agreed to with the ruling Burmese military
junta in June 1995 is anything but a permanent solution to the
longstanding political turmoil involving the country's rich ethnic diversit=

Unless the controversial political question is properly addressed
to the satisfaction of more than a dozen major ethnic races, the
country's 130-plus ethnic tribes, as well as the 15 armed ethnic
groups, including the Mon. vow not to lay down their arms or surrender.=20

Like other ceasefire groups, the Mon are unhappy with the
temporary truce and the junta's vague promise of prosperity from
economic activities and social development in areas under their control.

In fact, gross violations of human rights continue unabated, though
different forms. Instead of forcibly recruiting villagers as unpaid workers=
troops now use a new method of taxing and extracting the already meagre
income of the poor locals to pay off their labour force.

Some 17 different enterprises that the NMSP hoped would secure
them a steady financial income during the transitional period
have on the whole not-taken off and those that have usually run
into difficulties from authoritative restrictions.

An agreement from the ruling Burmese State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc) to allow the teaching of the Mon
language and culture in NMSP-controlled schools and villages was
met with a blunt order to end to such practices.

(*BurmaNet Editor=92s Note: This is not exactly true.  At the time of the
ceasefire, the SLORC said they would not pay the salaries of Mon teachers
teaching the Mon curriculum.  They would pay the salaries of teachers
teaching the SLORC curriculum, including former Mon teachers who were
retrained to teach the SLORC curriculum.  If the Mon wanted to use their
curriculum, they could, but with no financial support.  Since the NMSP gave
up its right to tax the people, they have little money for a large-scale
educational program.  Nevertheless, they have managed to continue teaching
their curriculum in most NMSP-controlled areas, although some teachers have
faced intimidation from SLORC officials and troops and have had to close
their schools.  The Mon Education Department has also sponsored the teachin=
of Mon in Slorc-controlled schools.  The Mons wanted to be able to teach Mo=
during school hours but were forced to accept an arrangement to teach after
school is over.  Various Mon groups have also organized summer education
programs.  The SLORC will not allow them to use schools for the Mon
programs, so they must teach in monasteries or pavillions.)

Worse still, the order for the eviction of Mon forces from their
controlled territory in Mergui district brought about a serious
split within the NMSP. In early November, some 100 Mon troops
under the command of Col Oung Seik Hlein and Maj Sein Ba Than
rose up against their leadership, stationed some 100 kilometres
to the north, and formed their own movement called the Mon Army.

The split unfortunately weakened the already weak Mon
organisation that needs, more than  anything else, a unified
strong position to press, along with other armed ethnic groups,
Slorc to agree to political negotiations. =20
To boost the sagging morale and spirit of both the Mon  troops
and its civilians, the Mon National Liberation Army, the NMSP's_
military wing, decided to hold a celebration on Dec 18 at a=20
small village of Nyi Sa to mark the silver jubilee of its existence.=20

Some 500 Mon civilians from the neighbouring villages and towns,
including Moulmein, the capital of Burma's Mon State,
participated in the three-day event. About 30 Buddhist monks and
novices from various temples, near and far, also attended the
ceremony to give their blessings.

A popular performing troupe of traditional Mon classical dance;
travelled from Moulmein to entertain the locals and guests for
the three nights.=20

The highlight of the event was a colourful parade of some 450 Mon
troops, men and women, before the senior Mon leadership during
which they pledged allegiance to the political cause of the Mon.:

Although the celebration, which ended with a religious rite for,
the construction of a Buddhist pagoda, was a time of joy and
cheer, the Mon troops and people were repeatedly reminded that
they are in need of strong unity and a commitment to carry on the
unfinished task.

In a declaration released on the occasion, the NMSP said the Mon
was once a great kingdom and the Mon people, like other Burmese
ethnic minorities, want all their national and ethnic rights respected.

The ceasefire, it said, is not the answer to peace, national and
ethnic rights, and national reconciliation. For the country and
all its peoples to enjoy real peace and stability, a permanent
solution that addresses the thorny question of ethnic rights and
identities must be achieved through political dialogue.


January 7, 1997

The article entitled =93Burmese unrest seen fuelling trade in heroin=94 by =
Iampongpaiboon was a very interesting report which once again proves that a=
long as political problems are not resolved, drugs will continue to stay an=
grow despite victories over drug warlords.

However, I wish to point out that there=92s some misleading and unfounded
accusations that ex-MTA forces who have defected and formed their own
movements are involved in the drug trade.  The Shan United Revolutionary
Army is lead by ex-MTA and its guiding principles are:
1. National unity
2. Anti-aggression 9meaning SLORC as the aggressors)
3. Right of self-determination
4. Democracy
5. Peace
6. Anti-narcotics

Members are not involved in drug production.  They have pledged to a
neighboring government (that greatly fears the influx of Shan drugs) that
they will not engage in such activities and will do their best to cooperate
with that government.

- Sai Oot Kesi
Chiang Mai


January 5, 1997

It is not unusual for visitors walking on the main road in Mae Hong Son's
Amphur Muang to be approached and asked, "Would you like a girl, sir?"

Even before the visitor has a chance to reply, a small album
emerges from a pocket.  "Take a look, sir."

The book contains snapshots of girls, of different ages and in
various costumes from a youngster in a bathing suit to a smiling
student lying on a king-sized bed.

While the visitor scans the album, the salesman provides a
running commentary: "That girl is a Thai Yai [from Burma's Shan
State]. That one is a Pa-o [a Burmese hilltribe]. They just arrived."

Such meetings also occur in other border areas, including Chiang
Rai, Chiang Mai, and Tak. They take place in Kanchanaburi, in the
central plains, and even in Ranong in the South.

"Choose any girl, sir, I'll bring her to you right away."

The offer is not necessarily one of prostitution, child labour is
peddled and sold in the same way, providing a heap work force for
construction, logging and mining jobs shunned y most Thai workers.

For those in need of restaurant workers or farm hands for
harvesting rice, planting onion bulbs or feeding pigs, this
source of inexpensive labour is readily available.=20
No job is too menial for an ever increasing number of hilltribe
people  Shan and several other ethnic groups as well as Burmans,
all of whom easily cross the thousands of kilometres, long border
Thailand shares with Burma along her western and northern frontiers.=20

The phenomenon is not just limited to Burma, either. Cheap
foreign labour is also arriving from Laos and Cambodia.
Some observers blame economic difficulties in these  neighbouring
countries for the influx of foreign workers.=20

However, a strong case can be made that blatant human rights
abuses committed by the governments of these countries is the
real reason why their citizens are leaving for Thailand.

Shan refugees: It was reported last March that Burma's ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) had launched one
of its largest relocation programmes ever within the Central Shan
State, a programme which continues to this day.=20
According to a recent report by the Shan Human Rights Foundation
(SHRF), the Slorc has relocated over 100,000 people from over 600
villages in over 8,000 square kilometres into 45 main relocation sites.

The report describes these new sites as nothing but barren land, and the
people must build their own shelter and find their own food. For many the
only "work" is forced labour on Slorc's infrastructure projects.

The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) and the Shan Herald Agency
for News (SHAN) estimate that over 20,000 Shan, including young
children and elderly men and women have fled into Thailand in
search of  food and security. With the addition ' of these Shan
and other refugees from I Burma, the number of displaced Burmese
in Thailand has swelled to , 700,000. However, when the deadline for illega=
immigrants in Thailand to apply for temporary work permits expired on
November 29, 1996, less than half this number actually registered.

Alien workers whether they be here legally or illegally, are
being employed at construction sites and farms throughout the
Kingdom, and, in some instances, women moonlight as prostitutes.

The 'four cuts': Displacement of Burmese tribesmen and the forced
re; location in the Shan State are nothing new. In 1950, when the
Burmese Army first entered the area on the pretext of driving
away the Chinese nationalist KMT (who were pushed into the Shan
State from China's Yunnan province by Mao Tse Tung's troops),
various human rights violations were committed by both the
Burmese army and the KMT.

The situation worsened after the military seized power in 1962
and resistance forces sprang up all over the Shan State. In their
attempts to crush the opposition forces, the Burmese Army gave
little thought to the well being of the Burmese people.

One-of their most infamous tools was the so-called "Four Cuts
Operation"=97the goal being to cut off food, funds, intelligence
and recruits provided by local villagers to the resistance
armies. Hence, whole villages were forced to move to sites which
could be closely guarded.

Throughout the past 30 years, large areas of the Shan State have
been subject to such disruptions. However, the massive forced
relocations in 1996 were unprecedented in scale.

Before the 1996 relocation: Last January, the Khun Sa-led Shan
Mong Tai Army (MTA) surrendered to the Slorc. Some members of the
army, however, moved north, away from former MTA areas along the
Thai-Burmese border, to join other resistance groups such as the
Shan State Army and the Shan State National Army, both of which
had signed ceasefire agreements with the Slorc.=20
These ex-MTA soldiers regrouped and formed a new army which was
later called the Shan United Revolutionary Army (Sura), under the
leadership of Major Yord Serk. By late January, the breakaway
Shan troops had moved north of the Salween River and were headed
toward Larng Kher.

Early in February, they clashed with Slorc Infantry Battalion 99
on the Larng Kher-Murng Pan Road, 4.8 kilometres east of Larng
Kher. Slorc troops suffered heavy casualties.

In an attempt to stop the Shan troops from heading further north,=20
the Slorc ordered locals to stand guard along the Murng Nai-Keng
Tong-Keng Kham roads.

Despite this, the Shan group managed to get through at Par Sar
village, eight kilometres sought of the battalion's base at Ton
Hong Keng Tong village, and the Slorc troops were furious.
According to witnesses, they set fire to Par Sar village.

By February, the breakaway Shan troops were in central Shan State.

The Slorc responded with drastic measures. In early March, to
prevent villagers from providing support to Shan soldiers, the
Slorc systematically relocated entire villages to sites along
main roads and near Slorc army bases.

Forced relocation: Once- thriving farming communities in eight=20
townships became depopulated "free-fire" zones; Larng Kher, Murng Nai,=20
Nam Zarng, Lai Kha, Murng Kerng, Kun Hing, Ke See and Murng Su.

The villagers were given five days to move. Soldiers threatened
to shoot anyone who did not comply.

Relocation sites were often a day away on foot. Villagers with
bullock carts were able to carry some of their belongings with
them; those walking could only bring what they were able to carry
in their arms. Farmers were forced to leave their arms. Farmers
were forced to leave their crops and most of their animals, many
of which were then "confiscated" by Slorc troops.

The relocation sites were merely empty areas along roads. Those
lucky enough to have relatives in towns were able to stay with
them; rest had to build makeshift huts for shelter.

Living conditions were crude and unsanitary, and many of the
villagers died of malnurishemnt and illness. Those that survived
resorted to begging.=20

At some sites, Slorc troops forced villagers to stand guard along
the roads and to clear trees and bushes so that reble soldiers
would not have a place to hide. Others had to work in Slorc
military camps or on road-building projects.

Over 100,000 people were affected and 20,000 of these have already
moved to Thailand.

Continuing migration;  An immigration officer in Mae Hong Son who
denied knowing anything about the forced relocation commented, "I
have a feeling that the influx will continue."

Ten illegal immigrants are arrested by Thai police every day.
They are taken to court, given jail sentences, and after serving
their prison term, are returned to various border points.

Despite such risks, the process then starts all over again once
the workers are released.

In the Burmese village of Na Mon, 10 kilometres from the Thai
border and 14 kilometres from Khun Sa's former Mong Tai Army
headquarters in Ho Mong, a steady stream of young men and women
make their way for Thailand.

When Sunday Perspective asked one young man where he was going he
answered matter of factly, "We are going to Mae Hong Son to find a job."


January 6, 1997

The Burmese Studies Group is a network of  students, academics and members
of the wider community who have a common interest in the better understandi=
of  Burma.  At present most of the Burmese Studies Group are located in
Perth, Western Australia, but have associates and members in other States
and in Burma, Netherlands, Canada, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore=

The aim of the BSG is the promotion of Burmese Studies and Knowledge of
Burma in Australia through the organisation of academic activities includin=
seminars, lectures, informal discussions, conferences, workshops etc on a w=
range of areas in Burmese Studies, including history, geography, economics,
politics, language,  environment, culture, and current affairs.

Membership is open to any person who has an interest in Burmese Studies.
Benefits to members includes
(i) notification of BSG activities
(ii) list of Burmese Studies research being  carried out by BSG members
(iii) free admission to BSG monthly seminars
(iv) opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with scholars of Burma in
Western Australia

The  operational cost  of the BSG is supported by an annual membership fee
and donations. The fee for students is $5.00 and for non-students $10.00.

The Burmese Studies Group Committee (interim) consists of-

Coordinator: Dr Nancy Hudson -Rodd,  Director, Centre for Development
Studies, Edith Cowan University
Secretary: Dr Myo Nyunt,  Research Scholar, Centre for Development Studies,
 Edith Cowan University
Committee:  Mr Thaung Naing; Mr Robert Peters; Ms Khin Myo Myint

Burmese Studies Group

Dr Myo Nyunt
Centre for Development Studies
Faculty of Health and Human Sciences
Edith Cowan University
Pearson Street, Churchlands
Western Australia  6018

Tel. (09) 2738572, Fax  (09) 2738872
email M.Nyunt@xxxxxxxxxxxx