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BurmaNet News January 31, 1997

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

The BurmaNet News: January 31, 1997
Issue #625

Noted in Passing:

		We had no plan to take to the streets in December. It was 			Burma's
military intelligence service who pushed us out 			there. - Thet Hmu, wanted
by Khin Nyunt


January 31, 1997

Aung Zaw talks to two student leaders named by Burma's Khin Nyunt as
instigators of the December student demonstrations. The meeting took place
at a hideout on the Thai-Burma border.

Thet Hmu and Thar Nyunt Oo fled to the border after Burma's powerful
intelligence chief Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, accused them of having contact with
"communists" and agitating students. Thet Hmu, 27 and Thar Nyunt Oo, 26 took
part in students demonstrations in December last year. 

The military govnerment, officially known as the State Law and Order
Restoration Council, was caught-off-guard by the re-emergence of the
students. It responded by firmly putting down the 10-day protests and
shutting down universities as well as high schools to prevent the further
demonstrations of dissent. The school remain closed.

Soon after the clampdown, Khin Nyunt called a special press conference.
During a two-hour speech, the intelligence chief said the students protests
were precipitated by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and
underground cadres of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). The students, Khin
Nyunt said, had became victims of "false flag recruitment." 

There were also outside elements: foreigners, border-based insurgents,
opposition groups, international press and two giant radio networks, the BBC
and VOA, he said. Khin Nyunt made almost exactly the same accusations in
1989, the year the CPB collapsed. But the only difference this time was that
people at home and abroad paid little attention to him.

Thet Hmu and Thar Nyunt Oo, both former political prisoners, have a
different version of what happened. No one, they said,  including student
activists, expected the December protests to happen. 

"We had no plan to take to the streets in December. It was Burma's military
intelligence service who pushed us out there," said Thet Hmu who spent
almost seven years in jail before being released last year. 

The trouble began in October when some students from the Rangoon Institute
of Technology staged a rare protest as a result of the ruling junta's
mishandling of a brawl between fellow students and a restaurant owner. Soon
after the protest Slorc beefed up its intelligence presence on the RIT
campus. In November leaflets believed to be distributed by the military
intelligence service urged students to stay out of politics and pursue their

That hit a raw nerve. Many students were angry, Thet Hmu said. Moreover,
"the military intelligence tried to arrest some student activists in the
campus and dormitories," he said.  

Around the same time, the junta stepped up its heavy-handed pressure on
opposition leader Suu Kyi and her supporters. That added fuel to the fire.
In Thet Hmu's words: 

"The Slorc made terrible mistakes.

"We saw some elderly women beaten by riot police and thrown into a prison
van, we were outraged".  

A week after a Slorc-organised mob attack a Suu Kyi convoy, many students
from colleges and universities went to an intersection nearby Suu Kyi's
house to show support to the opposition leader. 

"That was an extraordinary show of support," recalled Thet Hmu. "No one
instructed us to go there, we went there by ourselves".

"We knew then that the time would arrive soon for us to do something," he said.

Back on the RIT campus, students were having secret meetings where they
discussed "the future plan" and current political situation.  Knowing what
students were up to, military intelligence agents made plans to crack down.
"Finally, students were in a corner and there was nowhere to run," Thet Hmu

Student leaders on the RIT campus took to the streets. Many students quickly
joined in. Unlike in 1988, the December protest spread quickly in a few days.
University students from Taunggyi [Shan state], Mandalay [Mandalay
division], Moulmein [Mon state] and Sittwe [Arakan state] held protests at
their campuses. What impressed Thet Hmu and Thar Nyunt Oo most about the
protest was Burma's new generation. 

"They are well-organised and mature. They have learned a lot from the 1988
generation," Thar Nyunt Oo said.

"When they gave speeches they were mellow and calm, like grown
politicians. In 1988 we had a lot of anger. I think the new generation
learned a lot from Aung San Suu Kyi's weekend gatherings," That Hmu said. 

Slorc was not the only target during the protests. Thet Hmu noted that Asean
was severely criticised by the students as well.  "We all said 'Asean should

The two agreed that the Slorc responded very quickly to quell the unrest.
"If they had given us two or three more days I'm quite sure workers and
servants would have joined in too," Thet Hmu said.

Thar Nyunt Oo said this time the junta acted with considerable restraint. In
the wake of the protests almost 100 students and activists were apprehended
and according to the Slorc, 35 students and activists received heavy jail

Thar Nyunt Oo said many former student activists are now jail or
interrogation centers. He said Min Ze Ya, a prominent student leader, was
among those arrested. Students activists Soe Htun, Ko That, Lay Lwin and
Htun Htun Oo have also disappeared since December.

"There are more who have gone to Insein to study," joked Thet Hmu. 

The two activists claimed some innocent people have been also received
lengthy jail terms. They named, Ma Thi Da, Kyaw San [a] Cho Seint and Aye
Naing as among those arrested. According to the two, they were neither
students nor activists, just friends.

In his press conference, Khin Nyunt claimed his intelligence service had
arrested underground activists and communists. For Thet Hmu and Thar Nyunt
Oo that pure farce. "If he thinks they caught all underground elements open
the schools now," he challenges the junta.

According to Khin Nyunt, from 1994 to 1995, "Nyein Myint",  an underground
agent working for CPB, 4828 committee, carried out subversive activities by
inciting students.

Four students, Toe Toe Htun, Min Naing, Htay Aung and Thar Nyunt Oo, then
met and established underground groups. 

"We've never heard of Nyein Myint," said Thar Nyunt Oo.

"It was true that we have met several times at a tea shop but Toe Toe Htun
never gave any instructions to anyone as we are just friends", said Thar
Nyunt Oo, who was a first year medical student in 1988. He was jailed and
expelled from the medical school because of his active involvement in the
1988 democracy movement. 

"This is Slorc's old-style politics - arrest whoever they want and label
them communists. But they don't know that propaganda isn't working anymore,"
Thet Hmu said. 

"What Slorc should know is no one can manipulate us - we represent
ourselves," Thet Hmu said. 

Thet Hmu said he believes that the student movement is gathering  momentum.

He said he can't think own education but only to fight back against the
regime. "We have political problems in Burma but we need to find a solution
by political means, not through violence." The soft-spoken student activist
predicts there are more troubles waiting for the generals.

"And not only in the campuses," he warned. (TN)


January 30, 1997

News Analysis
>From C. Raja Mohan
NEW DELHI, Jan. 29. "We finally tied the Peps! Animal down! We did it!!!! 
We all did it!!! ... We now KNOW we have had the grass-roots power to 
yank one of the most powerful corporations in the world." That is a 
message posted on the Internet by an activist celebrating a major triumph 
of the civic movement in the United States to force American businesses 
out of Myanmar. The exit of Pepsi from Myanmar is likely to give a big 
boost to the defiant struggle of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to restore 
democracy in Myanmar by stepping up the international pressures on the 
military rulers in Yangon.
The move could also, however, escalate political tensions between the 
United States and South East Asia on Myanmar, and deepen the ideological 
cleavage between an American civil society ready to intervene 
aggressively to promote liberal internationalist principles, and the 
Asian states that are jealous in their defence of national sovereignty. 
How Asia copes with the rising tide of a new internationalism in America 
will be one of the most important features of international politics in 
the coming years.
Bowing to intense pressures from religious, human rights and other 
activist groups in the United States, the American multinational Peps! 
announced this week that it is severing all links to Myanmar. Peps! now 
joins a long list of American and Western corporations that have quit 
Myanmar in the recent months, under pressure from domestic public 
opinion. These include Apple, Walt Disney, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard ' 
Eastman Kodak, brewing companies like Heineken and Carlsberg, apparel 
companies like Levi Strauss, Macy's, London Fog and J.Crew, and 
investment companies like Peregrine.
As the focus of the Western human rights groups shifted to Asia after the 
collapse of-the Soviet Union and the end of Cold War in Europe, the 
tensions between the United States and Asia have mounted. The Clinton 
Administration added fuel to fire by seeking to intensify the linkage 
between trade and human rights in China and elsewhere in Asia. But the 
Administration eventually let down the activist groups as it began to 
appreciate the commercial opportunities in the emerging markets of Asia. 
The moralists in the United States lost the first round to the 
capitalists, but now have struck back by targeting the corporations in 
the most important of the markets -- the domestic one in the United States.
ASEAN concern
Pepsi's surrender on Myanmar was extracted through civic action within 
the United States. Protests against Pepsi's Myanmar connection came last 
year from one of the company's key market segments -- high school and 
college students -- and it began to hurt. Under pressure from student 
activists supporting democracy in Myanmar, Harvard University turned down 
for a $ million contract. Stanford University decided not to allow Taco 
Bell, a Pepsi-owned restaurant chain, an outlet on campus after 2,000 
students petitioned the university to boycott companies doing business in 
In the recent months, a number of state and local governments in the U.S. 
have passed laws that prohibit dealings with corporations with business 
involvement in Myanmar. The arguments of the American companies that 
economic engagement of Myanmar will promote prosperity in that nation and 
democracy will inevitably follow have worn thin. In contrast the latest 
appeal to the American students by ' Ms. Suu Kyi, "please use your 
liberty to promote ours," and discourage corporate America from business 
in "the shadowlands of lost rights" has a powerful resonance.
The companies that have withdrawn from Myanmar did not have significant 
investments in that country. About two thirds of the foreign investment 
that has flowed into Myanmar since 1988 is said to be in the oil and 
natural- gas sector. The activist movement has already targeted the 
American oil company Unocal - the single largest American investor in 
Myanmar. Unocal has developed an offshore natural gas field and, along 
with the French Company Total, it is building a pipeline to transport the 
gas to Thailand. Unocal has been accused of colluding with the military 
rulers in Myanmar to use forced labour to build the pipeline and shoring 
up the regime with a project that could provide regular and substantive 
hard currency earnings.
Religious groups, trade unions and human rights activists in the United 
States have begun to build a major campaign against Unocal. Taking on the 
big oil has never been easy, but the effort has got a boost from the 
investment banker, Mr. George Soros -- who made his billions on the stock 
market and has now turned into a crusader against the ills of capitalism. 
Mr. Soros has declared that "nothing would hurt" the Myanmarese regime " 
more than the oil companies suspending their operations on the Yadana 
pipeline". The activist movement in the U.S. is also pleased with the 
appointment of Ms. Madeline Albright, who has been a keen supporter of 
democracy in Myanmar, as the new Secretary of State.
As the campaign to isolate the military rulers in Myanmar gathers 
momentum in the United States, there is growing irritation in South East 
Asia, whose leaders now seem determined to bring the nation into ASEAN 
despite American and European objections. The dispute comes amidst 
growing anger in ASEAN at the sweeping Western interventionist agenda 
built around such issues as human rights, workers' rights, child labour, 
prison labour, environmental standard, and corruption. The ASEAN is also 
concerned that isolating Yangon would push it into a tighter embrace with 
China, whose economic and strategic presence in Myanmar has significantly 
increased in the recent years. Their worst suspicions may have now been 
confirmed with reports that the two countries have signed an unpublicised 
pact to deepen military cooperation.


January 31, 1997
by Michael Richardson 

Singapore -- Unocal Corp., the largest American investor in Burma, said
Thursday that it was expanding its petroleum business there despite
strong concern in the United States aboutt human rights abuses in the
country and a law that empowers President Bill Clinton to ban new
investment there if the problem worsens.

Shortly before Unocal announced its expansion, PepsiCo Inc. this week
became the latest American company to pull out of Burma in responose to
pressure from shareholders, consumers and human rights activits. 

Unocal said its Unocal Myanmar Offshore Co. subsidiary and TOTAL Myanmar
Exploration & Production Ltd., a unit of TOTAL SA of France, had signed
a production-sharing contract with state-owned Myanmar Oil & Gas
Enterprise to begin exploring for oil and natural gas in a new area in
the Adaman Sea.

The area covers 11,068 square kilometers (4,427 square miles) and abuts
the zone where Unocal and TOTAL found the giant Yadana gas field.

The new contract expands a relationship in which Unocal and TOTAL are
partners with state-owned companies in Burma and Thailand in a $1.2
billion project to pump gas from the Yadana field to Thailand via an
undersea and overland pipeline.

TOTAL has a 31 percent stake in the project, Unocal has 28 percent, PTT
Exploration & Production Co. of Thailand has 26 percent, and Myanmar
(sic)  Oil & Gas has 15 percent.

The project -- which accounts for nearly one-quarter of the $5.27
billion in foreign investment reported by Rangoon since 1988 -- has
become a major focus for human rights groups.

Thailand, which needs to gas to generate electric power, will pay $400
million a year for the pipeline supply, which is to start inmid-1988.
Rangoon and the oil companies will split the revenue.

Washington has repeatedly condemned the Burmese military grovernment for
what Madeleine Albright, the new US secretary of state, last month
called " a kind of rolling repression in which small steps forward
alternate wioth crackdowns and episodes of intimidation and violence "
against democratic forces.

Myanmar is the name given to Burma by the State Law and Order
Restoration Council, which seized power in 1988 after crushing a
pro-democracy uprising. Hundreds of people were killed, injured or
imprisoned in the crackdown.

" We are happy to expand our opportunities in Myanmar ", John
Vandermeer, Unocal's vice president for new ventures in South and South
east Asia, said. "This step reflects Unocal's strategic focus of
connecting growing energy markets to vitally needed energy resources."

Carol Scott, a company spokesman, said in Rangoon that the
gas-development project was creating jobs, raising living standards and
bringing new opportunities for the 35,000 people lving in the area where
the pipeline crossed Burma en route to Thailand.

"We believe that keeping the door open to foreign business is the way
to promote change in Burma", she said.

But analysts said Burmese opposition groups and American human rights
activists, who have already filed two cases against Unocal in US courts
to try to end its involvement in the pipeline project, were likely to
intensify theier efforts to force the remaining Western petroleum
companaies out of Burma.

Besides TOTAL and Unocal, Texaco Inc. and Atlantic Richfield Co of the
United States, and Premier Oil of Britain maintain operations in Burma.

Mr. Clinton signed into law in September a bill allowing him to impose
sanctions including a ban on new investment by US companies if
repression in Burma worsens or if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace
laureate and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, is
detained or placed under house arrest again.

In a speech read by her husband at the American University in Washington
this week, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called for a worldwide boycott of
companies doing business in Burma.

" Investment  that only goes to enrigh an already wealthy elite bent on
monopoloizing both economic and political power cannot contribute
towards equality and justice, the fondation stones for a sound
democracy, " she said. " Please use your liberty to promote ours. "

US companies that have cut links with Burma in the past couple of years
include Eastman Kodak Co., Walt Disney Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., Liz
Claiborne Inc and Oshkosh B'Gosh Inc. The brewers Heineken NV of the
Netherlands and Carlsberg AS of Denmark have also pulled out. PepsiCo
said Tuesday it had stopped selling its soft-drink concentratae to a
bottling franchise in Burma, ending its business ties with the country.
PepsiCo cut back its presence in April 1996 when it said it would sell
its 40 percent stake in a bottling joint venture.


January 31, 1997  (Excerpts - see above article for more information)  
Stephen Brookes, Yangon 

"There are no indications yet that there are any gas deposits there," said
Herve Madeo, head of Total Myanmar Exploration and Production. During the
first two years of the contract, he said, the consortium would conduct
seismic tests to check for potential drilling sites. "After that, we'll
interpret the data." 

Unocal has been coming under domestic pressure to withdraw from the separate
US$1.2 billion Yadana natural gas project that also includes Total, MOGE and
the Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration and Production. Production
from that project is expected to begin in mid-1998. 

Human rights groups have argued that the pipeline project involved
relocation of villages and the use of forced labor, charges that Total and
Unocal denied. "Those accusations are absolutely unfounded and untrue,"
Unocal president John Imle said. "There have been no villages moved in the
area of this pipeline and there has been no use of conscripted labor on this

Earlier this week human rights activists said they planned to step up
protests against oil companies. "The next focus is certainly the oil
companies," said Larry Dohrs, spokesman for the Free Burma Coalition which
has headed a campaign to stop investment. 

Protesters said other targets for their campaign, apart from Uncoal and
Total, would include Texaco, which plans commercial production of natural
gas off Myanmar in 1999, along with Nippon Oil. 

Unocal said the threat of a ban on new US investment had no impact on
negotiations, which had been underway for at least six months. "We've let it
be known for quite a long time that we were interested in this block," said
Unocal's Carol Scott. "It's not as if this is a slapdash deal."  (AT)


January 29, 1997

BurmaNet Editor's Note: The deported monks are now in a safe place in the
border area.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Authorities raided two temples and on Wednesday
deported 97 Buddhist monks to Burma for illegally entering Thailand,
immigration police said. 

The Bangkok temples, Wat Prok and Wat Dawn, were raided Tuesday and the
ethnic Mon monks were charged with illegal entry, an immigration police
spokesman said on condition of anonymity. 

The monks were brought Wednesday to a checkpoint on the Thai-Burma border,
then were sent to Mon state in Burma, he said. 

Wat Prok and Wat Dawn have been raided repeatedly during the past several
years as Thailand has improved relations with Burma's military government and
withdrawn support rebellious ethnic groups in Burma. 

The Mon in Thailand regard themselves as refugees; the Thai government views
them as illegal immigrants. 


January 30, 1997
by Steven Erlanger

WASHINGTON -- Despite U.S. efforts, from jawboning to sanctions, human
rights performance worsened last year in China, Nigeria, Cuba and Myanmar,
according to the administration's annual report on human rights in 193
countries, which is to be released Thursday.

According to the document's "overview" and some of the reports, Russia's
record is "mixed." Relatively free presidential elections and the withdrawal
of Russian troops from Chechnya were offset by discrimination against
minorities, hazing of military recruits, uneven legal reforms, little
investigation of pressure on
journalists and a worsening of already harsh prison conditions.

In some other former Soviet states where Washington has pushed
democratization, progress has been uneven. In Belarus, the report says,
there was "serious backsliding" toward dictatorship, while in Armenia,
"progress toward democracy was set back" by "flawed elections."

These reports, noted for their objectivity even by critics of Clinton's
human rights policies, take aim at both friends and foes -- criticizing
Germany, for instance, for increased discrimination against the Church
of Scientology.

Officials argue that the reports are gaining importance in U.S. policy
decisions and that human rights is a formal criterion for imposing trade
sanctions, providing aid and selling arms.

For example, Washington bans the sale of arms that can be used for
crowd-control to Indonesia, which the report calls "strongly authoritarian,"
for its restrictions on opposition and its stifling of dissent.
Congressional critics of Indonesia's record are blocking Clinton's wish to
sell F-16 fighters to that country.

But officials admit that with complex, powerful or resource-rich countries
like China, Russia or Saudi Arabia, U.S. interests require that human-rights
concerns do not "dominate or distort" a "multi-faceted relationship."

For China, the report measures the failure of Clinton's policy of
"constructive engagement" to improve human rights, as Clinton admitted at a
news conference Tuesday.

China's "economic pragmatism and increasingly robust ties of trade and
commerce with the United States and many other countries" have not
prevented or ameliorated "widespread and well-documented human rights
abuses," the report states.

Although Myanmar formally ended the house arrest of the pro-democracy leader
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the military regime "stepped up its 'rolling
repression' and systematic violation of human rights," the report says.

A law signed by Clinton mandates a ban on U.S. investment in Myanmar,
formerly Burma, if Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi is harmed, significantly harassed
or re-arrested. Officials say the White House is close to activating that
law, which is sharply opposed by United States companies with interests in
Myanmar, like the oil company Unocal.

Washington has imposed a ban on visas for leaders of repressive regimes, as
well as suspending economic aid and blocking arms sales or loans to the
countries from international institutions.


January 31, 1997
Associated Press

RANGOON -Soldiers burned more than 1,400 kilograms of captured illegal
narcotics yesterday as the govnerment said the drug production has plummeted
since the surrendered of an opium warlord last year.

As official watched on, soldiers set bundles of heroin, opium, marijuana and
opium oil on fire and steamroller cough syrup and millions if amphetamine

"The production of illegal drugs has dramatically declined in Burma since
the unconditional surrender of drug warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army in
1996," Gen Soe Win of the central committee for drug abuses control.

Burma is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw material for heroin.
Between 60 percent and 70 percent of the heroin sold in the United States
originates from the Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Burma,
Laos and Thailand converge.

For many years, much of the opium trade was controlled by Khun Sa, a
half-Shan, half-Chinese warlord who had about 15,000 troops under his
command, and said he was fighting for Shan independence.

Several international law enforcement officials recently contradicted the
Burmese view that drug production will drop this year, predicting that the
opium will crop will exceed 3,000 tones, a new record.

They say other groups, particularly the Wa ethnic group which has a
ceasefire agreement with Rangoon, have taken over Khun Sa's drug business.

The United State has criticised Burma's drug-fighting efforts, contending
the regime is not serious about ending opium growing and may be benefiting
form the proceeds.

Burmese officials vigorously deny the charges, saying that the drug problem
is complex and more time is necessary to stop rebellious ethnic groups from
cultivating opium.

Yesterday's drug-burning ceremony was a demonstration" to the world the
extent f of our hatred and abhorrence for narcotic drugs and the extent of
our achievements to fight the evil menace," Soe Win said.

Meanwhile, more than 30,000 people have been convicted of drug offense - 20
receiving death sentences-since the ruling military junta took power in
1988, the govenrment news agency reported on Wednesday.

The report said that police, customs officials and the army seized more than
1,300kgs of opium, nearly 505 kgs of heroin, about six million psychotropic
pills and more than 38,000 litres of illicit chemicals in 1996. (TN)


January 31, 1997
Thousands in flight from border villages

Post reporters

Troop reinforcements poured into Tak yesterday after pro-Rangoon renegades
threatened to attack Tha Song Yang town Mae La refugee camp.

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army threats has forced 1,000 Thais to flee
three border villages and 20,000 Karen civilians in Mae La to evacuate
deeper into the hinterland along the Mae Sot-Mae Sariang road.

The Thai side of the Thai-Burmese Border Committee, meanwhile, prepared to
lodge an aide memoire with its Burmese counterpart based in Myawaddy
township over Tuesday night's attacks.

The Huay Kalok and Don Pa Kiang refugee camps were torched by the renegades,
leaving nearly 9,000 Karens homeless. Mae La camp was damaged slightly
before the renegades were intercepted by Border Patrol Police.

Army armored cars have been despatched to the border in Tha Song Yang, and
air force OV-10 spotter planes were moved to Mae Sot airbase from Chiang Mai
to monitor movements of the renegades and Rangoon troops.

Gen Chettha Thanajaro, the Army commander, is to meet Lt-Gen Thanom
Watcharapuk, commander of the Third Region, who oversees the border with
Burma, in Chiang Rai today.

Military sources said Gen Chettha had given field troops approval to
retaliate against intruders.

Officials in Tha Song Yang said they had intercepted a radio message from
Col. Sa Thwe, commander of the renegade Division 999, who threatened to
destroy Mae La and pour mortar fire into Tha Song Yang town.

Sompong Boonkwang, headman of  Ban Mae La Thai, said Col. Sa Thwe wanted to
force Karen refugees to return to Burma.

BPP men intercepted another radio message in which the renegades asked for
food,  ammunition and supplies from Rangoon troops near the border

Villagers from Ban Mae La Thai, Mae Ok Phaloo and Mae Ok Hu moved deeper
inland for fear of reprisals from the renegade Karens. More than half of the
25,000 Karens in Mae La have taken refuge in forest along both sides of Mae
Sot-Mae Sariang highway.

Col. Suvit Maenmuan of the Thai-Burma Border Committee said he had reported
Tuesday night's action to the army and was gathering evidence to lodge a
protest with Burmese authorities.

Every time the renegades crossed the border, Rangoon claimed they were an
outlaw force beyond its control.

The Foreign Ministry and army were at odds about which of them should lodge
the protest. One senior ministry official said the military should protest.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which had two
legal officers on a mission in the area, expressed deep concern over the
"attack and intrusions into three refugee camps."

"UNHCR deplores such attacks against civilian refugee camps," Amelia
Bonifacio, the representative in Thailand, said.

The raids had left about 7,000-8,000 Karen refugees homeless from Wangka and
Don Pa Kiang which were "looted and almost totally razed". At Mae La, the
attackers destroyed 17 houses, killing one and injuring two other refugees.

Ms Bonifacio said her office was discussing emergency assistance with and
security of the border population with the National Security Council. (BP)


January 30, 1997

BANGKOK, Jan. 30 (UPI) _ Thailand's top army general says the Burmese
government is not to blame for cross-border incursions into Thailand that
have left at least nine people dead in the past three days.

Thai Army Commander-in-Chief General Chetha Thanacharo says the attacks were
carried out by a renegade faction of Burma's ethnic Karen minority.

About 100 soldiers of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) crossed into
northern Thailand's Tak province on Tuesday and Wednesday, burning two
refugee camps and leaving about 8,000 Karens homeless.

The attackers killed two Karen refugees and one Thai merchant and later
engaged in sporadic firefights with Thai Border Patrol Police and members of
a rival Karen faction in which at least six combatants were killed.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned the attacks and
began plans to provide emergency food and shelter to the displaced Karens.

The DKBA faction is supported by Burma's ruling military junta, which has
been trying to wipe out the faction's larger and older rival, the
Christian-led Karen National Union, since the 1960s.

Gen. Chetha, who left Bangkok on a border inspection tour (Thursday), says
the incident should not be allowed to spoil Thailand's good relations with

``We cannot blame the Burmese government,'' he said. ``They say (the attack)
was not carried out by their soldiers. This is true. The DKBA is a militant
minority that has broken off from the (other) Karen group.''


January 30, 1997

The ABSDF strongly condemns the attack by State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
(DKBA) troops on three refugee camps near Mae Sot on the
Thai-Burma border.

The ABSDF is calling on the international community to also condemn the
attacks which have left more than 10,000 Karen refugees homeless. 

The refugee camps were attacked by the troops on the night of Tuesday 28
January and two camps were burnt to the ground forcing the refugees to flee. 

We the ABSDF,

1. Condemn the attack against unarmed refugees, 

2. Condemn the SLORC for encouraging and supplying weapons to the 
   DKBA renegades,

3. Condemn the SLORC invasion of Thai sovereignty,

4. Condemn the SLORC attack for the fear it has generated among   
   the local Thai people.

Central Executive Committee
All Burma Student' Democratic Front


January 31, 1997        (Editorial)

The latest act of terrorism on Thai soil perpetrated by forces known to be
recruited, supported and equipped by the Rangoon military junta deserves the
strongest condemnation. Thailand cannot afford to pursue a policy
appeasement if its sovereignty is to be treated so shoddily. At the least,
we deserve an apology.

THE torching of two Karen refugee camps on Thai soil by elements of the
pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army on Tuesday night and the failed
attempt to raid a third camp constitute an act of terrorism against a
defenseless civilian population. It also represents a violation of Thai

The well-coordinated attacks appear to have had the rubber stamp of Burmese
field commanders in area opposite Tak province where the three refugee camps
are located, if not the consent of Rangoon. Field police reports show that
during the two-hour battle between a Thai border patrol police unit and a
detachment of DKBA troops near the Mae La camp in Tha Song Yang district,
several mortar rounds were fired on Thailand form the direction of a Burmese

Before the incident Tuesday night, Thai authorities were fully aware of
Rangoon's antipathy towards Thailand's approach to break the stalemate over
the building of the Friendship Bridge across the Moei River on an effort in
improve relations between the two countries. A planned visit to Rangoon by
Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro scheduled for the end of this
month to discuss the bridge with his Burmese counterpart was called off
abruptly without any explanation. They army chief was reported to have told
a close aide he wanted to find out what had upset the Burmese military junta
so that they had refused negotiations.

It now appears the army chief has his answer. But instead of delivering the
message in a civilised manner, renegade Karens known to be recruited,
supported and equipped by Rangoon were allowed to go on the rampage.

The use of brutal force to put down dissidents and the opposition has always
been the hallmark of Slorc, the military junta in Rangoon. Whether or not
the attacks on the refugee camps had Rangoon's blessing or only the consent
of its field commanders, the Burmese junta owes this country a clarification
and an apology.

The presence of a large number of Karen refugees near the border has always
been a cause of suspicion and mistrust among the Burmese junta, who strongly
believe the camps offer sanctuary to the anti-Rangoon Karen National Union
and provide a fertile recruitment ground for the resistance.

The Burmese govnerment earlier offered to allow the refugees to return home
safely. But most chose to stay in Thailand for obvious reason. The notoriety
of the brutal Burmese junta is not something easily forgotten, especially by
those who have lived in fear under the dictatorial regime.

Thailand would like to see the Karens return home and thus bring an end to
Rangoon's suspicions. But this is not possible without the consent of the
refugees themselves. Although they are illegal immigrants and must be
deported according to Thai law, forced repatriation   would subject Thailand
to the condemnation of the international community.

The Burmese junta has a mindset at odds to many of us. They simply do not
understand why this country has to adhere to international practices and
cannot expel the refugees without regard to international reaction as they
do with their own people.

Fostering relations with neighbouring countries such as Burma takes priority
under our foreign policy. But this policy should not be pursued at the
expense of our sovereignty. At least, were must strongly protest this latest
act of terrorism against defenseless refugees on our soil. (BP)