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The BurmaNet News January 10, 1997

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

The BurmaNet News: January 10, 1997
Issue #609

Noted in Passing:

		If I am confirmed, I can assure you that the United States 
                will not hesitate to address frankly  the violation of 
                internationally-recognized human rights, whether those 
                violations occur in Cuba or Afghanistan, Burma, Belgrade, 
                or Beijing. 
		- Madeleine Albright (ASIA TIMES: YANGON WONDERS 			                WHAT


January 16, 1997

SINCE the early-December student unrest, troops stationed in Rangoon have
been issued with live ammunition. To analysts in the Burmese capital this
indicates that the authorities anticipate more unrest and that they are
prepared to use force to quell any challenge to the govenrment. In December,
only water canons were used against the rioters and some shots were fired in
the air. At a news conference on December 31, the junta's strongman, Lt. Gen
Khin Nyunt, blamed the Communist Party of Burma for the recent protests. The
party has been defunct for several years and the reference to it appears to
be a message to the soldiers that they are facing insurgents, not mere
protesters, in the streets. This, in turn, is seen as a signal to the
soldiers that they may use their guns against demonstrators. (FEER)


January 10, 1997

PRESIDENT Suharto of Indonesia will visit Burma next month as a guest of the
Burmese junta, the first by an Indonesian head of state in nearly four decades. 

Suharto's trip, which is scheduled for the third week in February, will not
only strengthen bilateral ties but also Burmese relations with the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), in which Indonesia is a
powerful leading member. 

The historic visit also heightens speculation that Burma, along with
Cambodia and Laos, will join Asean as a full member in July when the
grouping holds its annual foreign ministerial meeting in Malaysia. 

At their informal summit in November, Asean leaders decided to welcome the
three observer countries into the regional club simultaneously. They were
deliberately ambiguous over the timing of their entry, saying a date would
be announced later. 

But since Cambodia and Laos are expected to obtain membership this year,
Burma is more than likely to join the bandwagon despite strong opposition
from the Burmese pro-democracy movement led by Nobel Prize laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi. 

An informed diplomatic source said Burmese and Indonesian officials are
still working out a final itinerary for Suharto. 

Despite strong calls from the West for Burma's isolation, Asean countries
have retained close relations through their controversial policy of
constructive engagement with the governing Burmese State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc), which rose to power after a bloody coup in
September 1988. 

Suharto is the third Asean leader to visit Burma at Slorc's invitation after
Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and former Thai premier Banharn
Silapa-archa went to Rangoon in March 1995 and March 1996 respectively. 

In the past few years, Slorc leader Gen Than Shwe has visited almost all the
Asean member countries. Indonesia was the first Asean country he visited on
June, 1995, followed by Singapore. 

Suharto, president of Indonesia since 1966, has never visited Burma although
a number of his closest aides including Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and
Defence Minister Edi Sudrajat, as well as his youngest son Hutomo Mandala
Putra, a businessman who has interests in Burma, have visited Rangoon. 

Another businessman, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, whose brother is married to
Suharto's daughter, is one of the biggest private investors in Burma. He is
now constructing the largest cement complex in the country. 

Burma was among the first countries to officially recognise Indonesia's
independence on Aug 17, 1945 when the royal Dutch government, Indonesia's
former colonial master, was still claiming to be the legal ruler of the

Rangoon even hosted the headquarters-in-exile for Indonesian Airways,
Indonesia's first national flag carrier before Garuda Indonesia, when most
of the country was occupied by the Dutch military between 1948 and 1949. 

The Indonesian government later gave its first aeroplane, a Dakota C-47
named ''Seulawah", which used to operate from Rangoon during the armed
conflict, to the people of Burma. 

The aeroplane is now displayed in the compound of the Slorc-run Tatmadaw
Museum in Rangoon. It is predicted that Suharto will touch on the aeroplane's 
historical background, as well as its Burmese connection in his visit. 


January 10, 1997

THE United States yesterday reiterated that Burma's proposed membership in
the Asean must be used as leverage in helping Burma restore democracy,
Foreign Ministry spokesman Surapong Jayanama said.

He added that the US believes that Thailand, as Burma's neighbours, is in
the best position to encourage a compromise between various Burmese groups
in conflict, including the military junta and the opposition led by Aung San
Suu Kyi.

The spokesman was speaking after US ambassador  to Thailand William Itoh
paid a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Prabchab Chaiyasarn at the
ministry. Surapong quoted Itoh as saying that Thailand's economic and
political development could serve as a good example for Burma.

Itoh told the minister that Burma's application for Asean membership could
be used as leverage by Asean, and that once membership is granted, that
leverage will disappear, Surapong said.

The seven-member Asean has said it will consider membership for Burma,
Cambodia and Laos in a single package; the three are now Asean observers.
Burma's application is the most controversial of the three because of its
continued suppression of the opposition and a large number of reported
violations of basic human rights.

Western countries have called for the isolation of Burma while criticising
Asean's policy of constructive engagement. (TN)


January 10, 1997

Charles University in Prague today will confer an honorary doctorate of law
on Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi in recognition of her "long
and continuing struggle".

A statement released by the Open Society Institute Burma Project in New York
said the award, to be received by Mrs. Suu Kyi's British husband Michael
Airs on her behalf, was part of the 20th anniversary celebrations in the
Czech Republic of a charter for open societies.

Czech President Vaclav Havel, founder of the Charter 77 movement when the
former  Czechoslovakia was communist-ruled, will deliver the main address.


January 10, 1997
Stephen Brookes, Yangon

The National League for Democracy, Myanmar's main opposition party, quietly
expelled two of its elected members of parliament this week for disagreeing
with NLD leadership. 

According to Than Tun, one of the expelled members, he and fellow MP Thein
Kyi were summoned on Monday to a meeting with the NLD's disciplinary
committee chaired by top party leaders Kyi Maung and Tin Oo, where they were
accused of "disobeying party policies" and "creating disunity".  Both were
expelled after an hour-long discussion. 

The NLD has not announced the expulsions and the office of party leader Aung
San Suu Kyi refused comment. 

One diplomatic source confirmed the events, noting that the disciplinary
committee had held an "extensive inquiry" and found that the two MPs had
been encouraging other NLD members to resign. The expulsions were endorsed
by the NLD's central executive committee. 

Than Tun, 47, a former political prisoner, said the expulsions stemmed from
a 10-page report that he and six other NLD members had submitted to the
leadership last summer. It called for the party to adopt more realistic
policies and argued against Suu Kyi's opposition to foreign investment and
her decision to pull the NLD out of the constitutional convention started by
the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). 

"They met with us in July to discuss the report," said Than Tun, "and they
were not happy. They said they wouldn't expel us as long as we didn't try to
organize other members. I told [Suu Kyi], 'you must be more tolerant, we're
only about 10 people - we're not a threat.' But the NLD has become more like
a socialist party. It doesn't tolerate any dissent." 

There were others in the party who felt as they did, said Than Tun, but were
afraid to speak out. He said he expected to see more expulsions in the future. 

The tension between the dissidents and the party leadership grew over the
last several months. When hundreds of NLD representatives were detained by
the government in late September, Suu Kyi repeated her vow to draw up the
NLD's own constitution. 

She has often argued that the NLD, not the SLORC, are the legitimate leaders
of Myanmar. 

The NLD won a landslide victory in general elections in 1990 but was not
allowed to take power. 

But many within the NLD believe the decision to pull out of the
government-run constitutional convention in November 1995 was a mistake. "We
said that a constitution is a document embodying disagreements," said Than
Tun. "You have to compromise." 

He and other NLD dissidents also argued against Suu Kyi's call to be given a
total mandate for decision-making, which she said was necessary since the
government interfered with the party's ability to hold party congresses. 

Suu Kyi's calls for economic sanctions have also met with criticism from
younger NLD members, who say the older leadership is out of touch with
modern realities. "They think that the government will just fall down if
there are economic sanctions," said Than Tun. "But that's not realistic." 

Some analysts said the expulsions reflected deep policy divisions and a
growing inability of the leadership, including Suu Kyi, to tolerate dissent. 

But others noted that the NLD was only acting like political parties all
over the world in enforcing party discipline. 


January 10, 1997
Stephen Brookes

IT'S winter in Washington, birthing season for the new Congress. And by the
end of the month, the 105th Congress will have presented the United States
with a bouncing new secretary of state: The redoubtable Madeleine Albright. 

Albright's confirmation process, which began on Wednesday with a remarkably
friendly question-and-answer session in front of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, is being watched closely in Myanmar - not least because
Albright has been one of the most outspoken US critics of the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which she recently characterized
as "among the most repressive and intrusive [governments] on earth". 

Although this week's Senate hearings focused on Europe, China and Japan,
areas considered higher on the US foreign policy priority list than Myanmar,
everyone knew the subject of SLORC would come up at some point. When it did,
Albright vowed to keep pressure on the military regime to start dialogue
with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. 

After the hearings on Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman
Jesse Helms, who had earlier expressed his admiration for Albright when her
nomination was first announced, said she would be confirmed by the committee
in due course. Given Albright's antipathy toward SLORC and current
anti-Myanmar sentiment in the US Congress, economic sanctions could be
imposed on Myanmar within weeks. 

That has made Albright (known as "Mad Elaine" to some SLORC officials) the
subject of intense discussion in Yangon. As US ambassador to the United
Nations, she has focused an intense spotlight on human rights in Myanmar,
and has been one of the most ardent supporters of opposition leader Suu Kyi.
"I have never been as impressed with another human being," Albright bubbled
after a brief visit to Myanmar in 1995. 

The secretary of state-designate's affection for Suu Kyi was matched only by
her distaste for SLORC, and she was pointedly rude to Lieutenant-General
Khin Nyunt, head of Myanmar's military intelligence, during the visit. "We
did not get along very well," she boasted last summer at a ceremony in
Chicago honoring Suu Kyi. 

Small wonder relations were so cold. Albright never attempted to penetrate
the complex political realities of Myanmar, preferring the easy
morality-play version instead. In fact, she liked to elevate it to a
struggle of epic proportions. "The future of Burma matters not simply to a
people, but to all people," she intoned solemnly last summer. "At stake is
the ability of each of us to think and speak freely, to be human beings, not
robots, and to go about the daily business of our lives without fear." 

Now, that's just harmless preening when you're a diplomat representing the
US at the UN, where rhetoric is dispensed by the bucketful and no one is
listening anyway. But as secretary of state, Albright will be responsible
for looking after US interests abroad in a realistic and professional manner
- not just orating on the human rights soapbox. 

With a sanctions bill already making its way through Congress, Myanmar may
be one of the first test cases to determine Albright's ability to make the
necessary jump from UN rhetoric to State Department policy -making. 

She will be moving into the policy vacuum currently occupied by incumbent
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who has a quiet, low-profile approach
to the job. Albright will no doubt take quick steps to place her own
personal stamp on US policy, and few expect it to be quiet. And given her
strong feelings about Myanmar, she may encourage sanctions simply as a way
of sending out a symbolic message that human rights will have a higher
profile under her watch. 

But some observers think the importance of her new job will force Albright
to soften her antagonistic approach to SLORC. "She needs to provide
leadership and set her own direction, but she's also got to be part of the
team," says one diplomat in Yangon. "This isn't the play world of the UN
anymore. Reality will impose constraints on her. And she has a job to do." 

Some observers in Yangon, however, are skeptical that Albright will be able
to make the necessary changes to the personal style that got her where she
is today. "There's a saying: Ko mwe de myaut, ko pyan chaut," says one
Myanmar political analyst. "The monkey you've raised will give you trouble." 

Nevertheless, Albright's approach to Myanmar may benefit from far better
information and analysis about the country than her predecessor was getting.
A largely inept US diplomatic corps in Yangon has now been almost entirely
replaced by a seasoned team headed by Kent Wiedemann. 

"Under [former charge d'affaires] Marilyn Meyers, the embassy was almost a
press office for Aung San Suu Kyi," says one diplomat in Yangon. "The
embassy is sending a much more balanced picture back to Washington now." 

And no matter how much Albright may personally support Suu Kyi, her overall
job will be to work constructively toward regional stability, build more
influence for the US with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, help
develop markets for US business and find ways to control narcotics
production. Realistically, doing any of those things means forging working
ties with SLORC. 

But will it happen? Probably not. Even if Albright gives up her soapbox,
pressure for sanctions is building in Congress. If the US government imposes
them, whatever remaining influence Washington has in Yangon will vanish. 

Albright will have a mess on her hands dealing with ASEAN, which appears
ready to admit Myanmar along with Laos and Cambodia later this year. US
business will suffer, China's economic and military/political influence in
Myanmar will continue to expand, and Southeast Asian narcotics will continue
to flow into US inner cities. Those are all fairly high strategic prices to
pay to send a largely symbolic message. 

In fact, Congress would be doing Albright a favor if it held off on
sanctions, at least until she has a chance to work up a serious, realistic
strategy on Myanmar and Southeast Asia. From the UN talking shop to the real
world of policy is a big enough step without congressional meddling in
foreign affairs. (AT)


January 9, 1997  (excerpts)

           		Secretary of State-nominee Madeleine Albright's comments at 
		her confirmation hearing on foreign policy issues. 

             	--UNITED NATIONS: On the U.N. ... I think the important thing 
		to keep in mind is we created the U.N., and the U.N. is 
		important and good for the United States. It does need 
		reforming. That has been very much a part of my mission 
		in New York. And I think we've accomplished quite a lot, 
		but there's a lot more to be done. 

	--HUMAN RIGHTS: If I am confirmed, I can assure you that 
		the United States will not hesitate to address frankly 
		the violation of internationally-recognized human rights, 
		whether those violations occur in Cuba or Afghanistan, 			Burma, Belgrade,
or Beijing. 


January 9, 1997

The American state is considering passing a bill that would bar the state
govenrment and its agencies from contracting with companies that conduct
business in Indonesia, reports Inter Press Service's Theo Emery in Boston.

RESPONDING to heightened international attention to human rights abuses in
East Timor and Burma, Massachusetts officials have pressed for sanctions
against Indonesian and Burmese rulers.

This winter, lawmakers in the New England state will consider a bill
pressuring the Indonesian govenrment to end the 20-year occupation of East
Timor which it invaded in 1975 and annexed the next year. If passed by the
legislature the bill will be the first in the world to impose unilateral
sanctions on the Indonesian govenrment for human rights violations in the

"I felt that it was time for us to begin to serious address this issue by
putting pressure on the Indonesian regime, and there's no better pressure
than economic pressure," said the bill's sponsor, state legislator Antonio

Cabral cited a Massachusetts law levelling sanction at the Burmese military
govenrment as a precedent for the Indonesia bill. While seven US cities,
including San Francisco, have passed selective purchasing legislation aimed
at Burma, the Massachusetts law targeting Burma, is the first among US
states and the largest of its kind.

Passed in July of last year, the Burma law has figured prominently in
several companies' decisions to end business transactions in the Southeast
Asian nation ruled by the Slorc. Apple Computer announced its withdrawal in
early October, and Hewlett- Packard, Motorola, and Eastman Kodak quietly
followed suit.

The success of Burma law suggests that Massachusetts may be open to imposing
similar sanctions on President Suharto's govenrment in Jakarta, Cabral says.
"After seeing the success the Burma bill had, I thought the timing was good,
the piece were al there, and the state would be receptive," said Cabral.

The Indonesia bill, like the Burma law, would bar the state govenrment and
its agencies form contracting with companies that conduct business in
Indonesia. Cabral's legislation also prohibits the state from investing
employee pensions in financial institutions which loan to companies
supplying arms to the Indonesian government. The bill would remain in effect
until Indonesia complies with UN resolutions calling for self-determination
in  East Timor.

In the past, Massachusetts has  set precedents for similar laws at federal
level. The Commonwealth's 1983 sanctions against South Africa, backed by
Massachusetts. Paved the way for federal anti-apartheid action, and the US
government is currently edging toward imposing unilateral sanctions on Burma.

"The idea that we can influence the foreign policy of the US by doing things
ourselves is becoming more and more a viable strategy," says Representative
Byron Rushing, the author of the Burma law.

Massachusetts' leadership is pushing for human rights abroad makes residents
likely to support sanctions against anti-democratic regimes, according to

"The idea of grassroots involvement  in influencing foreign policy has life
and legitimacy in Massachusetts. It's something the people id Massachusetts
understand," said Rushing, who also authored the bill imposing sanctions on
South Africa.

Both Indonesia and Burma have drawn international attention for the
repression of pro-democratic opposition and widespread human rights abuses.

Since Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, more than 200,000 East
Timorse out of a population of 600,000 have either disappeared or been
killed by Indonesian troops, and since the 1991 massacre of pro-independence
protesters in Dili, human rights groups claim that rights violations,
arrests, and torture have been facets of daily life in the former Portuguese

In July of last year, Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) supporters in
Jakarta clashed with police for several days following the governments'
engineered ousting of PDI leader Megawadi Sukanoputri, unrest which Suharto
met with threats to shoot dissidents on sight.

Similarly, Burma has been soundly condemned for repression of political
opposition. Since a 1988 military crackdown against the country's
then-robust, pro-democracy movement, Slorc has restricted basic civil liberties.

Human rights organisation have also documented Slorc's use of forced labour,
summary execution, torture, rape and forced relocation against the Burmese

Since last May, Slorc has detained nearly 1,000 supporters of the country's
opposition party, the National League for  Democracy, and the US state
Department recently confirmed long-held allegations of Slorc's complicity on
the heroin trade, 60 per cent of which originates in the Burmese hills.

The two countries also share the distinction of having Nobel Peace Prize
recipient as the pre-eminent dissidents in both countries. Two East Timorse,
Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo of Dilio and Jose Ramos-Horta, received
the 1966 prize on December 10, and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi was the 1991 Nobel laureate.

But while the Burma law slid through the Massachusetts legislature largely
unopposed and received a ringing endorsement from Republican governor
William Weld, Cabral expects strident opposition to the proposed Indonesia
sanctions. Unlike Burma's stagnant economy, Indonesia's economy is one of
the fasting growing Asian nations.

With Indonesian economy growing at 7.8 per cent and Suharto's govenrment
luring foreign investors - 959 new foreign projects in 1996 worth $29.9
billion - multinational corporations are vying fiercely to capture the
country's growing markets, and will probably oppose unilateral action which
will bite into contracts in Massachusetts or Indonesia.

When Cabral unsuccessfully introduced the bill last year, representatives is
several major corporations, industry associations, and the
American-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce lobbied against the legislation.
Donald Baldini, vice-president for legislative policy at Associated
Industries of Massachusetts, testified that the bill would do little to
alter Indonesia conduct, and would ultimately harm both Massachusetts and
Indonesian citizens.

"It is not the proper role of states to engage in foreign policy
freelancing," Baldini said, maintaining that his organisation will most
likely oppose the bill again in 1997.

While Cabral anticipates stiff opposition to the bill, he is confident that
as in the case of the Burma law, perseverance will ultimately pay off.

"We expect all the big guns to come out, but we hope that we will prevail in
some fashion, because the citizens of Massachusetts in the past have
supported these sorts of initiatives, and these are the kinds of resolutions
that residents will continue to support," he says. (TN)


January 10, 1997

In the year since the Golden Triangle kingpin 'surrendered' the drug
situation in Burma has not improved. Yindee Lertcharoenchok reports.

IN the underworld of the narcotics business, Burma stands out - not least
because of the contradictions. It is categorised as one of the least
developed nations by the United Nations, but the country is the world's
largest producer of the most profitable crop, opium, with an annual output
of around 2,300 metric tonnes, That amount generates roughly 230 metric
tonnes of heroin, about 60 per cent of total global production of the drug.

While leading heroin producers and traffickers in Burma's northeastern Shan
State, which forms part of the renowned Golden Triangle, make huge profits
from their drug activities, poor opium farmers receive only meagre return
form their hard labour.

Before the ruling Slorc rose to power in the September 1988 coup, major
ethnic rebel groups in the Shan State generated easy income from the illicit
drug trade to sustain their survival and struggle - a decades-long fight
against the government that was more or less political.

The fighting came to an after a cease-fire deal was signed with the Slorc in
early 1989. But Burma's leading drug kingpins - primarily those from the
ethnic Kokang and Wa groups - today remain heavily armed, and enjoy greater
liberty to traffick drugs and freely launder their huge profits with
impunity through investments in the Burmese economy.

A key heroin trafficker if the 1960s, Lo Hsing-han, who helped broker the Wa
and Kokang cease-fire agreements and who still retains close links with
current narcotic traders, is now a "respectable" businessman after a
govenrment amnesty in June 1980 lifted a life prison sentence, that was
handed down after an earlier death sentence in November 1976 was commuted.
Lo's investment empire already stretches beyond Burma's borders to
neighbouring countries and beyond through his connection with other regional
business tycoons.

"Since the formation of Slorc in 1988, opium reduction in Burma has
doubled," wrote Robert Gelbardm US assistant secretary of State for
International Narcotics and Law-Enforcement Affairs, in an article that
appeared on the Nov. 21 issue of the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review.

"And the nature of the drug trade has changed in an unmistakable way:
Burma's most important narco-traffickers are no longer hold up in jungle
hideaways. They are buying real estate in Rangoon and Mandalay, investing in
Burma's economy and openly courting military officials," he said.

Gelbard attacked the collapse of the rule of law that resulted in the
corruption and criminalisation of the state and the entrenchment of the drug
trade in Burma's political and economic life.

The most dramatic twist in the Burmese drug tale was the controversial
"surrender" in January last  year of heroin warlord Khun Sa and his powerful
MTA to the Slorc.

Since then, Khun Sa, whom Washington wants extradited to stand trail in the
US on narcotic trafficking charges, remains at large and his activities and
where abouts are a top state secrecy.

The normally outspoken drug kingpin, who loved posing for photographers and
giving interviews to journalists who dared cross the rugged northern Thai
frontier to meet his Homong stronghold, has suddenly turned media-shy.

Sporadic press reports about him are largely speculative.

Although he is said to have been debriefed at a safe house in Rangoon since
early March during which he gave out crucial information and names of those
who were on his payroll, the Slorc has withhold any official comments about
his fate and the secret peace deal.

The regime has not reacted to repeated reports that he has since enjoyed a
luxurious life from his drug money, living in a well-protested, huge
compound in Rangoon. He is also said to have invested the illicit earnings
in several businesses and industries.

What is certain about the 62-year-old half-Shan, half-Chinese is that the
Slorc will never surrender him to American authorities nor prosecute him for
the deaths of hundreds of Burmese troops who fought against the MTA. 

In fact, the Slorc has successfully called the bluff of Washington whose
repeated threats of retaliation against Rangoon for its poor anti-drug
efforts and human rights abuses have come to nothing. Washington's immediate
offer of a US$2 million  (Bt50 million) reward for information leading to
Khun Sa's arrest and prosecution remains unclaimed. And President Bill
Clinton's decertification of Burma a three months later for being
uncooperative in the fight against narcotics, the decision which subjects
Burma to certain economic sanctions, did not startle the Slorc.

On the contrary, the Slorc has claimed a victory in bringing about "the
unconditional surrender" of the US' number one heroin enemy and a big
success in saving world humanity through its efforts to eradicate poppy
cultivation and suppress drugs trafficking.

"The renunciation of the drug trade by the MTA is a feather in our cap;
Myanmar (Burmese) govenrment, standing on it own feet, has achieved that
total eradication of opium cultivation and drug trafficking in Loilang and
Homong regions along the Myanmar-Thai border," said an official statement
released by the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok on Feb. 21, 1996.

"The truth is glaring right into our faces, Our success in causing U Khun
Sa's return to the legal fold amounts to delivering humanity from the horrid
threat of narcotic drugs," it added.

Washington does not seem to have recovered yet from the shock of Khun Sa's
surrender about-face Clinton's anti-drug czar Gen Barry McCaffery accepted
during his visit here in late November that Washington is at loss on how to
deal with Khun Sa, the enormous amount of heroin being produced in Burma and
its subsequent trafficking to the world market, including the US.

As it looks now, Khun Sa's surrender will have only a minor impact on drug
situation in Burma. IN fact, opium production this season is expected to
reach another record high of more than 2,000 metric tonnes.

Moreover, leading Wa and Kokang drug warlords have quickly moved into
replace Khun Sa, taking over his turf and trafficking activities. (TN)


January 10, 1997

Wa fighters were among the first of the ethnic groups to 'return to the
legal fold'. But their presence in Mandalay has been anything but peaceful
for local residents, Aung Zaw reports.

The brawl that erupted at the Lone Khen Hotel in Mandalay late  November was
nothing out of  the ordinary for Burma's second city. Such disturbances have
become common place since former Wa rebels from the United Wa State Party
(UWSP) started coming down from the hills after signing a cease-fire
agreement with the Slorc.

This night, however, ended in bloodshed after a senior police officer sent
to restore order was shot dead.

The event could cause more embarrassment and trouble for the ruling junta,
which was confronted with a fresh student uprising in Rangoon and Mandalay
last month.

Though Wa rebels enjoyed a special relationship with the top brass,
particularly with Lt. Gen Khin Nyunt, local residents and civil servants
have become uncomfortable with their unruly presence in Mandalay. There have
been number of incidents in the town and the least event has done little to
reverse the Wa rebels' reputation among locals as "opium bandits".

One example of many problems in Mandalay is the Wa rebels' penchant for
expensive cars. They drive around the city with little regard for traffic

"Since they don't know how to obey the traffic regulations they fight with
traffic and local police and all the time," said a resident in Mandalay. 

when problems arise, the Wa's customary responses is: "We only talk to Khin

United Wa State Party [UWSP], led by Chao Ngi Lai, become a Slorc militia
force  in 1989. Currently, it is 20,000-strong and under Ta Pang's
leadership. Chao Ngi Lai has been hospitalised for years.

Many analysts believes the UWSP continues to ply its illicit drug trade
under the disinterested eye of the junta.

The trouble at the Long Khen Hotel started after the hotel manager called
the police to complain that drunken Wa had started causing "problems."

Since the problem death with Wa the police decided to send a senior officer,
an Arakanese named Saw Maung, around to investigate.

"Saw Maung was forced to arrest a Wa officer as the noises and disturbances
being made by the Was were so rough." said a witnesses, adding that the
situation reached a turning point when the Wa officer was hand-cuffed. The
protested angrily prompting Saw Maung to fire a warning shot in the air.

"But the Was never learned to shoot into the air," a local resident said. 

Saw Maung was dead in front of the hotel employees and local residents. 

After sending Saw Maung to the hospital the chief of the local No. 8 police
station filed his report. Outraged residents also descended on the police

But shortly after the army commander of the Mandalay Division arrived at the
police station and tore up the paper. 

He reportedly said: "We cannot let our country disintegrate because of the
death of a policeman. The Wa have been contributing much to the country."

The army commander ordered the police not to file against the Was. 

Additionally, the commander ordered Saw Maung's family not to publish a
death notice in the newspapers. The family, pleading Saw Maung's necrology,
eventually published the notice in the local newspaper on Nov. 28 - three
days after the incident. A Burmese soldier who accompanied the commander
expressed his anger: "Being a Burmese has no value. We soldiers have to
watch all these Wa opium bandits have their own way in the towns. I hope our
paths soon cross." 

Shortly after the shooting, Lt. Gen Tin Oo, secretary two of Slorc, and
Interior Minister Gen Mya Thin, spent almost a week in Mandalay, Maymyo and
Sagaing cities visiting pagodas and meeting famous abbots. 

Analysts, however, suggested the real intention of Tin Oo's visit was more
than visiting pagodas. A bigger concern was conflicts with groups of  Wa on
the border with Thailand and China.

Tension between Slorc troops and Wa rebels has been rising steadily in the
past few months.

sources said the UWSP have been recruiting Wa residing in China. The reason,
"to prepare for a possible battle, said one." 

"The Wa rebels are unhappy with the cease-fire agreement," a source on the
border added. Chinese military advisers are telling Burmese and the Wa to
avoid battle and resolve the problem on the negotiating table, the source

If conflict does erupt again, the UWSP will be a second group to have broken
its deal with the ruling junta following a split by a group of  rebels from
the New Mon State Party recently. The breakaway faction was displeased with
the NMSP's agreement with the Slorc and have since declared war with Slorc
and NMSP.

Back in Rangoon, the ruling generals, shaken by the student protests, have
created a new local organisation. The Pij Swan A: or 'strength of the
nation' has been set up to guard against possible unrest in the near future.

Just before and after the street-demonstrations Burma was swept by rumours.

Whatever the case, last year was pretty rough sailing for the generals who
have run the country for eight years.

Fortune tellers in Rangoon are predicting the new year will even rougher.

Though Slorc observers and activities can not foresee the future they agree
there will be more trouble for the ruling generals in 1997.

"Public resentment has been rising - there has been increasing repression
and regression in 1996," said Aung Saw Oo, former opposition party member
and supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Likewise, the anti-Slorc campaign and movement have been growing at the
international arena.
Aung Zaw is a freelance writer. He contributed this story to The Nation.


January 10, 1997
Supamart Kasem

TAK - REBELS of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army crossed into Thailand
territory on Wednesday in pursuit of former Karen National Union member who
in the morning had attacked a sawmill owned by the DKBA and Thai
businessmen, a source said.

A border officials said some of 10 DKBA rebels entered a Karen refugees
village between Mae Ramat and Mat Sot districts on Wednesday after KNU
forces, numbering about 15 and armed with  M16 and M79 assault rifles,
attacked the sawmill located on an island in the Moei River and took three
Thais hostage.

DKBA rebels several rounds of 60 mm mortars at the fleeing KNU forces, led
by Capt. Di Nu. Two of the mortar rounds landed in Tak but there were no
reports of casualties, according to the source.  The KNU forces escaped into

Later, 100 Thai soldiers led by 4th Infantry Regiment Task Force deputy
commander Col. Chainarong Thanaroon were dispatched to the scene to drive
out of the intruders and provide security to local villagers.

DKBA rebels, led by Capt. Maung Chit, however left after the KNU released
the hostages - Mrs. Buariab Puttharat, 35, Noi Kawema, 28, and TimBoonma, 43
in this afternoon.

In a related development, Thai-Burmese Border Committee chairman Col. Suwit
Maenmuen lodged a noted with Burmese authorities in Myawaddy on Wednesday to
protest the January 4 incident in which Burmese troops fired on a ranger
unit and the Sho Klo refugee camp. (BP)


January 10, 1997 Reuters

RANGOON - A BUDDHIST relic which escaped damaged during a December 25
bombing that killed five people and wounded 17 was moved to Mandalay
yesterday, four days later than originally scheduled.

A source in Burma's ministry of Religious Affairs said yesterday the Sacred
Tooth Relic, believed to be a tooth of the Lord Buddha, was flown to Burma's
second city of Mandalay. (BP)