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BurmaNet News January 24, 1997 (cor

Subject: BurmaNet News January 24, 1997 (corrected) 

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

The BurmaNet News: January 24, 1997
Issue #619

Noted in Passing:

		What does the DEA know? Their movement in Burma is 			closely controlled
by the military government there.
		 - a Thai narcotics officer 


January 22, 1997
by Gary Thomas in Bangkok

intro: The military government of Burma keeps tight control of
the domestic media and of information flowing into and out of the
country. But foreign reporters have noted some changes recently
as the Burmese government attempts to improve its international
image.  VOA correspondent Gary Thomas reports from our Southeast
Asia bureau in Bangkok.

text:  Many journalists who has covered Burma in recent years
speak of frustrations encountered in the job.  Although Aung San
Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy have
always been willing to talk to the media, their has been little
openness from the government.

However, something has changed in the last few months. Reporters
are finding covering Burma a bit easier.

Stephen Brookes -- correspondent for the "Asia Times" newspaper
and one of the few resident foreign correspondents in Rangoon --
says Burmese government information policy has undergone what he
says is an "absolute sea change" in the past year.

Mr. Brookes says the change apparently came about because of
government complaints  about international media coverage -- and
the foreign media's complaint about the lack of information.

                            // brookes act //

The complaint was that all the coverage surrounded Aung San Suu
Kyi and the NLD, but there wasn't any coverage of the positive
things the government here -- the State Law and Order Restoration
Council -- was doing.   So we said, "well, listen, if you want to
get a more balanced picture in the international press, then you
have to have to start actually talking to the international press."

                            // end act //

Since September, there have been monthly government news
conferences. Although there is no official spokesman, some
officials have now apparently been assigned to respond to
reporters' questions -- but usually on a background basis, with
the official speaking anonymously.

There are now official statements or comments, sent by fax to
reporters or even sent via electronic mail.  Some statements are
even posted on the internet.

Mr. Brookes says the SLORC has made a start with a small glimmer
of openness.

                                 // brookes act //

They've taken the first step, which is just to try to do it.
Before they  didn't even try at all.  And it's still, you have to
say, not as  sophisticated as you would find in countries that
have much more  experience with the international press.  They
tend to talk at the press  conferences about things that happened
a month before, or two months  before, which are old news.  But
they have shown themselves increasingly adept at fielding
questions -- and very tough questions -- from journalists who
come in.  And they seem to be quite open to inviting  journalists
in, even those who have written in quite a negative way about
this government.

[**BurmaNet Editor's Note: Many, many journalists who have been critical of
the government can not get a visa to go in.  In fact, now news agencies have
to call in journalists based far away because their Bangkok based
journalists cannot get visas.  2 of the wire services were unable to get
journalist visas for the last government press conference.  Mainichi
reporters cannot get journalist visas because their paper runs Aung San Suu
Kyi's Letters from Burma series. Journalists who regularly cover Burma from
the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Nation cannot get in.  The list goes
on and on.]

                                  // end act //

For all these changes, Burma remains a country where information
is tightly controlled.  The unauthorized possession of a fax
machine or a phone line by a Burmese citizen is punishable by a
jail term.  Access to electronic mail and the internet is only in
government hands.  The state-run "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper
-- which,  Mr. brookes describes as "written like a soviet tank
manual and has the all the flair and vitality of a grocery list"
-- still routinely publishes harsh criticisms of the coverage of
Burma by the international media, especially the BBC and VOA.


January 22, 1997  

RANGOON, Jan 22 (Reuter) - A top Burmese general and a commentary in
state-run media on Wednesday warned residents to beware of ``destructive
elements'' like Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy

``Destructive acts of groups relying on external elements are becoming more
obvious day by day. They organise to cause disintegration among national
races and Tatmadaw (armed forces) and the people,'' said Lieutenant-General
Tin Oo, Secretary Two of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council

``They are creating confrontation with the Tatmadaw govenment... The
destructive elements...use an opposition political style under the pretense
of fighting for democracy,'' official media quoted Tin Oo as saying in a
speech on Tuesday. 

It said he urged Burmese to crush the acts of destructive elements in the
country. The SLORC regularly refers to Suu Kyi and her National League for
Democracy (NLD) as ``destructive elements.'' 

A commentary in official newspapers also warned people about the NLD, saying
it was creating chaos in the nation. 

``We should consider whether Daw Suu Kyi is a real democrat or a woman
dictator,'' said a commentary discussing a failed attempt by an NLD leader
to meet supporters at Shwedagon Pagoda on Saturday. 

``They are encouraging their lackeys...to breach the law and defy the state
power as they themselves are doing. They should not create chaos to cause
trouble to Myanmar (Burmese) people,'' the commentary said. 
January 22, 1997

MAE SOT, Thailand, Jan 22 (Reuter) - Moslem refugees from an eastern Burmese
village said on Wednesday that government soldiers had driven them from
their homes, forcing them to flee to a relief camp on the Thai border. 

Soldiers entered the Moslem-dominated Nabu village in the town of  Kaykareik
two weeks ago and forced about 1,000 of them to leave at gun-point, the
refugees told Reuters.

About 200 Moslems from Nabu had sought refuge at the Mae Lah refugee camp in
northwestern Thailand over the past 10 days, said camp head Law Hta. 

He said he expected more refugees to arrive soon. The camp is run by the
private Burmese Border Consortium.  [sic: it is not run by BBC, the BBC
provides rice and a few other supplies through the Karen Relief Committee]

``The soldiers forced the people to live in the jungle and moved into the
houses that used to belong to Moslems,'' one of the refugees said. 

He said the soliders tore down the village mosque after the Moslem community
had left Nabu. 

There are about four million Moslems in mostly Buddhist Burma, which has a
total population of 45 million. For years, Burmese Moslems have fled Burma's
western border into Bangladesh citing persecution by the army.


January 19, 1997

The Peasants and Workers Affairs Committee of the National Council of the
Union of Burma, NCUB, issued a statement following reports of the arrest of
38 peasants by the SLORC [State Law and Order Restoration Council] following
peasant demonstrations in Dipeyin and Ye-u Townships. The NCUB statement
expressed support for over 1,000 peasants who valiantly marched to Shwebo at
the end of last December to protest paddy procurement and condemned the
unjust act of arresting 38 peasants by SLORC. 

The SLORC unjustly bullied the peasants like the Chetiyar landowners of the
colonial period by exploiting the peasants. The SLORC's practise of
procuring paddy from the peasants by prescribing paddy quotas for the Trade
Department, SLORC, and the Defense Services amounts to SLORC's form of
feudalism. The Defense Services abuse the term, state, to oppress the people
during the military
dictatorial eras of the BSPP [Burma Socialist Program Party] and the SLORC.
Restrictions are imposed on the peasants who are in effect regarded as
serfs. Peasants who expose their plight are tortured. 

Statement No. 1 of the Peasants and Workers Committee of the NCUB called for
the release of the peasants, arrested following their demonstrations; for
ending paddy procurement at ridiculously low prices; for dismantling a
system that is not supported by the peasants; for allowing formation of a
free peasants union; and for the SLORC apologizing to the peasants who had
suffered under successive eras. 


January 20, 1997  (abridged)

LONDON - Governments that seek to restrain the freedom of speech and tax the
vast electronic commerce spawned by the Internet will almost certainly be
wasting their time, experts say.

The world-wide network of personal computers linked across telephone lines
allows ordinary citizens to communicate freely across international borders,
often for the first time.

This magical prospect for people is often heresy for governments. Even if
governments are not inclined to curb freedom of speech, they are all alive
to the dangers of loss of tax revenues.

But there will probably be nothing they can do about it.

The growth in personal computer use and the Internet has been stupendous.

The U.S. high-technology research company IDG says that by the year 2000,
more than one billion people across the world will be users of personal
computers, up from 450 million in 1996.

Dr Bob Glass of the U.S. technology leader Sun Microsystems said any attempt
by governments to curtail any of this would be a waste of time.

Not even the most powerful computers will be able to effectively patrol the
world's telephone lines. Individual computer experts will always be one step

"Singapore has tried curbs. When you dial in you can only get the headlines
on Web sites. But people just call outside the country to another Internet
server," Glass said.

"The same in China. All Internet traffic is routed through Beijing
University which only allows the content the government allows. But they can
go via a telephone call to, say, Taiwan to find the information they want,"
Glass said.

Other countries have more direct methods of imposing their will. In November
(sic: September) Burma announced a law penalizing the unauthorized use of
modems or fax machines with up to 15 years in jail.

"They can try to control the telephone system with supercomputers, but when
low orbit satellites can give you direct phone service, no computer is going
to trace that," Glass said.

Even though their efforts are expected to be futile, that is unlikely to
stop governments trying to tame the beast. There have been suggestions that
a "byte tax" might provide a way to generate income from Internet activity.


January 22, 1997
By Chuang Peck Ming

     No hollowing out of economy as domestic operations
                  continue to grow, survey shows

[SINGAPORE] Regionalisation has fattened the bottomline of Singapore
companies and has not led to a hollowing-out of the economy, the Economic
Development Board said yesterday.

Singapore companies invested at least US$8.06 billion (S$11.3 billion) in
Asian countries last year, up 28 per cent from 1995.

 ...(D)estinations of Singaporean investments were China with US$987
million, Vietnam with US$952.5 million, Myanmar with US$554.74 million,


January 23, 1997
Reuter, AFP

China yesterday agreed to boost military cooperation with Burma while
Beijing negotiators said they and their Taiwanese counterparts were reaching
and understanding that could end a decades-old ban on direct shipping across
the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, the military agreement between China and Burma would boost
military cooperation, including training and exchange of intelligence, the
Far Eastern Economic Review said yesterday.

The agreement was reached when the the vice chairman of Burma's military
junta, Gen Maung Aye, "paid an unpublicised visit to China from Oct 22 to
29," the Review said in a press release.

Gen Than Shwe, the chairman of the junta, finalised the accord with Chinese
Prime Minister Li Peng a few weeks ago, it said.

"Under the deal, China will train 300 Burmese air force and navy officers in
flying skills, naval duties and the gathering of intelligence in coastal
areas, while the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will provide additional
places in staff colleges for senior Burmese officers," it said.

The two countries would exchange military intelligence. (TN)


January 23,1997

A few weeks ago, a rumour was spread that Khun Sa may no longer be in  a
military camp in Rangoon, but somewhere in the Shan State.

His eldest son and a number of his closest aides, who were living with him
in the Burmese capital since his surrender last January, were spotted in
Tachilek, just across Mae Sai, Chiang Rai.

"I believe Khun Sa is back in the Shan State because he never stays on his
own, all his closest aides are here," said a long time Khun Sa watcher.

This rumour was further fuelled when some foreign narcotics agents in
Bangkok claimed they and the US Drug Enforcement Administration had lost
track of the former opium warlord and self-styled Shan independence fighter.

But a seasoned Thai narcotics officer said: "What does the DEA know? Their
movement in Burma is closely controlled by the military government there."

"You wouldn't believe it, if I told you why his eldest son and closest aides
were in Tachilek," he said.

The group was spotted crossing the border into Mae Sai from where they were
driven to the Chiang Rai airport to board a plane to Bangkok.

All had valid identification documents, the eldest son whose mother is a
Thai national, has a Thai ID card, while the aides carried Burmese
passports. None are wanted by Thai authorities.

"They came to attend the wedding reception of a daughter of a wealthy (Thai)
businessman who is a friend and former business associate of Khun Sa. Even
Lo Hsing-han's son was there," he claimed.

The wedding party was held at a five-star hotel on Rajdamri Road, in the
second week of this month, and was attended by over a 1,000 guests including
leading businessmen and members of the diplomatic corps.

Lo Hsing-han, before Khun Sa came along, was the most powerful opium warlord
of the Golden Triangle since the 1960s. He was arrested in 1973 after
crossing into Thailand with members of the Shan State Army (SSA), which was
fighting for the Shan State's independence from Burma.

They were trying to contact the US embassy in Bangkok to work out a deal to
end opium production in the Shan State, in exchange for development aid and
support for the Shan independence cause.

Thai authorities extradited Lo and a junior SSA officer who was arrested
with him, one month after their arrest, even though Thailand and Burma did
not have an extradition treaty.

Lo was sentenced to death for "insurrection against state" rather than drug
trafficking because of his links with the Shan independence movement.

His sentence was later commuted to life and he was released seven years
later during a general amnesty.

Since then he has worked closely with the Burmese government, providing
advice in business development and even drug suppression.

Gradually, he recovered to become one of Burma's wealthiest businessman. His
son, who attended the wedding, has entered into the well-publicised
five-star hotel investment deal with Singapore's Shangri-la Group.

Some anti-Rangoon groups claim that drug money may have been involved. In
deciding to surrender to the Burmese government, Khun Sa may have believed
that he would be treated the same was as his predecessor, opium warlord Lo
Hsing-han. (BP)


Vol. 2 No 2, November 1996- February 1997  (abridged)
(For more information, contact TERRA at <terraper@xxxxxxxxxx>)

Feature Article--
Thailand's Yadana pipeline: Proposed route starts controversy

The on-going international controversy over the Yadana gas pipeline project
in Burma focuses on forced labour, evictions of communities, and other human
rights abuses by Burma's military regime in the implementation of the
project. On Thailand's side of the border, the pipeline route will cut
through one of the largest protected forest ecosystems in mainland Southeast

Noel Rajesh examines some of the critical issues involving the planned
pipeline in Thailand

The 670 km pipeline to send natural gas from the Yadana fields in offshore
Burma to fuel electricity plants in Thailand has faced opposition both
inside Burma and internationally, making it one of the world's most
controversial infrastructure projects. Since construction began in early
1995 in Burma, international human rights groups have demanded that the two
oil companies -- Total of France and Unocal of USA -- pull out of the
project on the grounds that revenue from the gas will strengthen the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), Burma's repressive military
regime. (See box: The Yadana Fields: gas at any cost.) 

As construction of the Yadana pipeline in Burma continues, the Thai side of
the pipeline undertaken by the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) is
stalled by concerns that the pipeline will destroy large tracts of
undisturbed forest ecosystem in western Thailand. The US $676 million Thai
section of the Yadana pipeline stretches 297 kilometres (km) from where the
pipeline enters Thai territory at Ban I - Tong village, Kanchanaburi
province, and would run southeast to feed a 4,600 megawatt (MW) power plant
being built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) in
Ratchaburi province. 

Gas delivery is scheduled to begin on 1 July 1998, with an initial volume of
141 million cubic feet per day (mf3/d) and increasing to 525 mf3/d 14 months
later. Upon its completion in 2001, the 4,600 MW natural gas - fueled
generating station at Ratchaburi would account for more than 20 per cent of
EGAT's forecast electricity demand of 21,990 MW. According to the 30-year
gas supply agreement signed in 1995 between MOGE and PTT, Thailand will pay
between US$200 400 million per year to SLORC. 

In early 1996, a consortium of Canada's Nova Gas and OGP Technical Services
of Malaysia received the US$19.2 million pipeline engineering contract for
the Thai part of the pipeline from PTT. In the competition to win the
contract to construct the pipeline, the German company, Manessman, has
proposed the lowest construction price, and is expected to complete contract
negotiations with PTT in November 1996. 

EIA rejected

In May 1996, the Experts Committee of Thailand's National Environment Board
(NEB) rejected the project's environmental impact assessment (EIA) citing
inadequate information on the potential impacts on wildlife. Final approval
of the project by the Thai Cabinet must wait until it is passed by the
National Environment Board. 

The pipeline route will cut a 20- 80 metre - wide route through 26 km of
Thailand's western forest ecosystem, which covers an area of about 600,000
hectares contiguous with forests across the border in Burma. The western
forest complex forms one of the largest protected area in mainland southeast
Asia comprising 14 Protected Areas of which the Thung Yai Naresuan-Huai Kha
Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary complex is an internationally recognized site
accorded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. 

The project area will cut across the Thong Pha Phum forest area, which is in
the process of being designated a National Park by the Thai government.
According to the EIA document, the Thong Pha Phum forest area "is located in
the centre of other protected areas such as the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife
Sanctuary, Khao Laem National Park, Sai Yok National Park."
The western forest complex supports 120 species of land mammals, 45 per cent
of Thailand's total, and 33 per cent of mainland Southeast Asia's total
known species. Forty five mammal species are classified threatened in
Thailand (53 per cent of the country's total), and at least 15 are
internationally classified as threatened including tiger, clouded leopard,
guar, banteng, wild water buffalo, and elephant. The forest area is home to
nine endangered mammal species including white-handed gibbons, Malayan
tapirs, elephants and tigers. In terms of insects, the western forest
complex is regarded as the richest in terms of species diversity in mainland
Southeast Asia. 

The EIA study required for the project was completed by TEAM Engineering
Consultants for the PTT in January 1996. In Thailand, TEAM has a history of
producing EIAs that do not study the most serious potential environmental
impacts of large-scale infrastructure products. In May 1996, the Committee
of Experts established by the National Environment Board (NEB) to review's
TEAM's EIA for the pipeline refused to approve the EIA for consideration by
the NEB and instructed the PTT to work with the Royal Forestry Department to
further study the pipeline's potential impacts on forest ecology and
wildlife in the project area. 

As the project area is located inside an area of international conservation
importance, TEAM's assessment of the potential impacts of the pipeline has
drawn criticism from various academics and government officials. Wildlife
experts within Thailand's Royal Forestry Department (RFD) are skeptical of
the EIA's information as well as its survey methods for evaluating the
ecological impacts. 

According to an independent biologist working in the RFD, the EIA by the
TEAM consultants is based on inaccurate information and contains sweeping
statements and theories, "TEAM's conclusions regarding a species presence or
its relative abundance in the vicinity of the project site are unfounded. 

"Without any information regarding the sampling effort undertaken, broad
conclusions regarding species cannot be made, nor can independent reviewers
determine whether TEAM's evaluation is reliable. For example, Section 3.143
suggests that the Red Data Book species, and WARPA 'Reserved Status'
species, Malayan Tapir and Fea's Muntjac do not occur in the immediate
vicinity of the project site, whereas they are recorded for the Thong Pha
Phum National Park.1 

"Without extensive and further sampling, it is impossible to state with such
assurance that important wildlife species do not occur within the project
site, simply because TEAM did not observe them on their limited survey. It
is likely that the project will not only have immediate effect upon flora
and fauna in the immediate vicinity of the project but will also affect
wildlife in the surrounding areas."
Meanwhile, Thailand's RFD is expressing concerns about the route of the
pipeline through forest areas classified as 'watershed 1 A' zones (the
highest conservation rating for watersheds) and protected areas including
the Sai Yok National Park. The RFD has demanded a technical hearing of
concerned parties about the impacts of the pipeline on important wildlife
species in the area. In response to the concerns, the NEB assigned the RFD
to implement an additional study on the wildlife completed in October 1996.
Meanwhile, the PTT plans to arrange a technical hearing in Kanchanaburi in
November, to listen to the concerns of various conservation groups about the
project's environmental impacts. However, PTT's Public Relations Director,
when announcing plans for the technical hearing, limited the options
available on the re-routing of the pipeline, saying "The PTT is trying to
divert the pipeline away from the fertile forest areas and national parks as
much as possible. We chose the most suitable route for the pipeline and it
will never be changed."
PTT's pipeline project director, Somphong Tantivanichakul, has tried to
dismiss environmental concerns by stating that the pipeline would be built
underground so as to not permanently disturb the forest. However, it is
highly questionable whether the construction of an underground pipeline can
avoid destroying large areas of undisturbed forest. 

Bat caves

Particular concern centres on the pipeline's impacts on the area's limestone
hills that are the world's only known natural habitat for the rare Kitti's
Hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), the world's smallest mammal
weighing only two grammes fully grown and classified as "protected" under

Shaky ground PTT's fault

The Tennaserim Range seismic zone has two major active faults: Si Sawat and
Three Pagodas Fault, leading to concerns about gas leakage, possibly
resulting in massive explosions, landslides and severe soil erosion from
building a pipeline in a known earthquake zone.  Almost the entire Thai
section of the pipeline is located practically on top of the Three Pagodas
Fault.  The Department of Meteorology recorded the epicentre of earthquakes
near the project area six times during 1983-1988 at Si Sawat and Thong Pha
Phum districts with magnitude of 4.1-4. 5 on the Richter Scale. 

The threat of earthquakes damaging or rupturing the pipeline is becoming
increasingly clear. In March 1959, a quake on the Three Pagoda's Fault
produced a 300 metre long, 2 metre wide and 1.5 metre deep ravine in the
ground. In April 1983, an earthquake measuring 5.8 points on the Richter
Scale, apparently occurring on the Si Sawat Fault, left a crack in the earth
more than 4 kilometres in length and moved entire blocks of rock in opposite

Landslides caused by earthquakes or erosion resulting from project
construction, while potentially damaging or breaching the pipeline, also
represent a major threat to the safety of village people living in the
vicinity of the project area, as well as damaging protected forest areas.
Once the pipeline enters Thailand, it will follow the route of an existing
dirt road running along a narrow earth ridge bordered on both sides by steep
ravines, and severe erosion is expected to occur. Officials from Thailand's
Office of Environmental Policy and Planning (OEPP) in the Science Ministry
have expressed concerns that the EIA report only gives a broad outline of
how to deal with the problems of erosion, landslides and what happens if
there is an earthquake. An OEPP official said: "It's not clear how the
pipeline will cross rivers and streams where sediment can wash down into
villages below." 

The PTT will present their revised EIA to the NEB in November, but the
specific dates for the technical hearings by the PTT and the Royal Forestry
Department are not known to the public. Sources within the National
Environment Board say that PTT officials are very worried about the previous
rejection of the project studies by the NEB's experts committee. As a
result, the PTT is putting intense pressure on senior officials in the NEB
to establish another Experts Committee with members sympathetic to the
pipeline project so as to ensure that the project can reach the NEB for
approval without further delay. 

More delays? 

A senior forestry official, who asked not to be named, said: "If the project
cuts through the Sai Yok National Park, the PTT will have to submit its
plans to the National Park Committee for consideration about its impact on
wildlife and the forest. The process may take several months, which would
delay the PTT's plans to start construction in November 1996." 

Expressing impatience at the delay, the PTT gas sector chief, Dr. Vichit
Yaboonruang said that the consequences could be "very uneconomical" for
Thailand. "If the government wants to have a hearing, it can have it, but it
will have to be done very fast." 

The PTT, having signed a contract with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Exploration
(MOGE) before the pipeline project had met the legal requirements of project
approval in Thailand, now finds itself in a difficult position. As Somphong
Tantivanichakul, the PTT's Director of Pipeline Project, explains, "If we
cannot meet the deadline to transfer gas from Burma to Thailand in 1998,
then the PTT will have to pay a 30 million baht (US$ 1.5 million) fine per
day to the Burmese government, and another 70 million baht (US$2.8 million)
a day to buy diesel oil to substitute the gas to be used at the power plant
in Ratchaburi."

The Petroleum Authority of Thailand signed the gas pipeline contract with
the SLORC dictatorship in Burma more than one year before completing an
environmental impact assessment for the proposed pipeline project or
fulfilling the legal requirements of the project approval process
established by the Thai government. Now, the PTT is complaining about the
money it must pay to SLORC if construction of the pipeline is delayed for a
single day, while a growing number of nature conservation organizations,
independent academics, and senior officials in the Royal Forestry Department
are voicing concerns about the impacts of the proposed pipeline on one of
the most important protected forest ecosystems in mainland Southeast Asia.
- Duangkhae, Surapon, "Ecology and Behaviour of Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat
(Craseonycteris Thonglongyai) in Western Thailand," in Natural History
Bulletin of the Siam Society, Vol.38, The Siam Society: Bangkok, 1990. 
- Earth Rights International (ERI) and Southeast Asian Information Network
(SAIN), Total Denial: A Report on the Yadana Pipeline Project in Burma,
July, 1996. 
- Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife
Sanctuary Management Plan, 1989. 
- Nutalai, Prinya, "Earthquakes and the Nan, Choan Darn," in The Ecologist,
Vol.17, No.6, November/December 1987. 
- TEAM Consulting Engineers Co., Environmental Impact Assessment of natural
gas pipeline project  Yadana field to Ratchaburi, Draft Final Report.
January 1996. 
- - - - - -

The Yadana Fields: gas at any cost

Located in the Andaman Sea about 60 kilometres off the southern coast of
Burma, Yadana is Burma's largest known off-shore gas field with confirmed
recoverable gas reserves of 5.7 trillion cubic feet (tf3). 

The Total Company of France has a 31.24 per cent share in the project, with
the US-based Unocal holding 28.26 per cent, PTT Explorations and Production
Plc of Thailand (PITEP, a subsidiary of PTT) 25.5 percent, and the Burma's
State-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Exploration (MOGE) a 15 per cent share. The
US$400 million per year gas deal with Thailand is estimated to be the
largest source of foreign capital for the Burmese military regime, the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). 

The onshore pipeline is planned to be laid during the dry seasons of October
1996 - April 1997, offshore platforms installed from mid-1997 to early 1998,
and gas delivery to Thailand to begin in July 1998. About 370 km of pipeline
will be underwater while the last 45 km will traverse the Tennaserim region,
home to ethnic communities such as the Karen and Mon. 

According to members of communities in the project area, about 10,000 people
have already been forcibly evicted from the proposed pipeline route in
Burma. Village people, including children, are being compelled by armed
soldiers to build the project's operational infrastructure as well as new
military camps. Forced labour is also being used to complete the railroad
from the town of Ye in Mon State to the town of Tavoy, allegedly for
transport of SLORC army troops to protect the 65 km of pipeline route in
Burma's southwestern region from attacks by ethnic insurgent groups. 

In late 1994, SLORC launched "Operation Natmin" (Spirit King) to destroy Mon
and other rebel forces and secure the pipeline route. However, the safety of
the pipeline is still in doubt. In March, 1995, three foreign members of a
petroleum exploration team were killed, along with 10 soldiers of the
Tatmadaw's (Burmese Army) 410 Light Infantry Battalion, who were escorting
the foreigners, at Kanbuak, near the western end of the pipeline. The
firefight appears to have been unintended, the result of the SLORC battalion
and ethnic rebel troops discovering the proximity of their over-night camps
when cooking fires were lit in the evening. 

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has openly welcomed
SLORC's efforts to build the pipeline at any cost. In April 1995, a
half-page EGAT advertisement in the Bangkok Post informed readers that, "The
Myanmar government aims to complete its part of the gas pipeline system by
1996. The pipeline will pass through Karen villages in Laydozoo District,
Mergui-Tavoy province and in Mon villages, Ye-Tawai province. Myanmar has
recently cleared the way by relocating a total of 11 Karen villages that
would otherwise obstruct the passage of the gas resource development project." 

Total and Unocal have dismissed mounting evidence, and denied repeated
accusations, that forced labour and relocation of villagers is occurring as
a direct result of the pipeline project. Total's Operations Manager in
Burma, Jean-Claude Ragot maintained that the presence of the companies is
good for Burma: "We've done everything we can to make sure the people in the
region have benefited from the project. And people seem very happy with how
they've been treated." 

In October, Burmese civilians victimized by rape and forced labour in the
pipeline project area, along with the National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma, recently filed lawsuits against Unocal, Total, MOGE, and
SLORC in a Los Angeles, California district court. The civilians charge that
the companies and their corporate officers are violating human rights in the
route preparation and construction of the natural gas pipeline project,
specifically accusing the companies of benefiting from the use of forced
labour and systematic destruction of village communities in the
implementation of the project. 

(Noel Rajesh is a staff member of TERRA, and is researching forest and land
use issues.)


January 18, 1997
Asia Human Rights Alert <ahralert@xxxxxxxxxxxx>

Dear Friends,

One of the needs identified during Bangkok & Manila DAGA-Interdoc
Meeting was to establish a mailing list for human rights appeals in
Asia.  This is a timely response to the need to have a common
platform to distribute human rights urgent appeals among the groups
and individuals in the Asian region through e-mail. As we all know,
e-mail has become one of the most efficient and cost-effective
campaign tool and this mailing list will serve for the purpose of
human rights appeals and an effective campaign platform.  We hope
that this mailing list will serve in promotion and protection of
human rights of the people in the Asian region through prompt action
and solidarity. 

We are glad to inform you that Japan Computer Access (JCA) will be
providing technical support in setting up and hosting the mailing list.

The following could be taken into account in subscribing to this
mailing list as well as in sending contributions: 

1.  The name of the list will be [Asia-HR-Alert].  (Asia Human Rights Alert)

2.  This list is only to distribute urgent appeals, campaign letters,
situation reports (in concise format), press releases, and other human
rights related material (in concise form) related to human rights in Asia. 

3.  Human Rights Urgent Appeals/ Urgent Campaign Letters, requesting
action, situation reports, press releases, and other human rights
related material could be sent to this mailing list. The issues may
relate to economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and
political rights in the region.

4. How to Subscribe and Post material:

* How to Subscribe:

To subscribe to this mailing list please send your subscription 
request to: AHRAlert@xxxxxxxxxxxx

Please include a brief profile such as your NAME, ORGANISATION,
ADDRESS, TELEPHONE, FAX, to the e-mail address in your request for 

* How to post material to Asia-HR-Alert:

You will be notified by e-mail once you are included as a subscribe 
to this list. After this you can directly post your material to this 
list by sending e-mail to:

Asia-HR-Alert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx  /  asia-hr-alert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

* How to un-subscribe / sign-off :

If you ever want to remove yourself from this mailing list,
you can send mail to "Majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx" with the following command
in the body of your email message:

unsubscribe asia-hr-alert your e-mail address

Example if you had subscribed to this list as ahrc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
then you will send following msg to: majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

unsubscribe asia-hr-alert ahrc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This will un-subscribe / remove your name from this list.
In case of difficulty please send your request to: 

5.  The moderator of this group will be Sanjeewa Liyanage of Asian
Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong.  He will moderate the mailing list
in consultation with other human rights bodies in the region. 
Boonthan Veravongse from ACFOD, Thailand and Akio Kawamura from
Hu-Rights Osaka, has agreed to assist in providing information and

We hope to hearing from you and Asia-HR-Alert will begin with an
initial mailing list consisting of groups and individuals in the field
of human rights movement in the Asia. 

- Sanjeewa Liyanage
  Asian Human Rights Commission
  Asia-HR-Alert Mailing List


January 23, 1997

The Free Burma Website at http://sunsite.unc.edu/freeburma/ has been
redesigned throughout the last month.  

The purpose was to make it easier to read and easier to find what you
need.  Also much of the information has been updated.

Throughout february we will update the remainder of the info and
continue to improve the various presentations.  

Although this work is never done, we would like to notify everyone
because we believe the site has reached a new level of usefulness for
the activist community, and a new level of effectiveness for educating
those unfamiliar with Burma.

FreeBurma.org received a bit of a facelift as well.

Please drop by if you haven't visited since 1/22/97.  Attached is the
new table of contents.  As always, we value and request your ideas and