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* Posted Mon 20 Oct 1997 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* --------------" 2/3)ICJ Report on Thai/Burma 1994 "---------------- */

Part 2/3.

Prepared by Burma Sub-Committee on behalf of the International
Commission of Jurists Australian Section - WA Branch
25 March 1994.


In considering the change in relations between Thailand and
Burma it is important also to keep in mind the reliance placed
by Thailand on Burma as a source of energy and export wealth.

2.2.1 Logging Concessions

  In 1988 when the military came to power in Burma, the country
  was on the brink of financial bankruptcy. It still however
  possessed rich reserves of natural resources such as
  timber(teak), minerals and gems. At the same time, across the
  border in Thailand, the environment had been stripped of what
  value it did possess. Thailand was already beginning to feel
  the ill effects of deforestation, with rainfall levels
  dropping in its denuded northern regions. The SLORC sold the
  rights to the timber on the Thai-Burma border quickly in order
  to promote foreign investment and raise capital. All those
  concessions were purchased by Thai business and the military
  with the encouragement of the Ministry of the Interior.

  As discussed above, SLORC announced in July 1993, that all
  Thai logging concessions in Burma would be canceled by the
  end of 1993, at a time when SLORC was becoming impatient with
  the Thai government in its support for ethnic minorities on the
  Thai-Burma border. Many of these minorities have used Thailand
  as a 'bridge' by which to advertise their plight to the
  outside world. Indeed, not long after the cancellation of the
  concessions, the SLORC announced that it wished to exploit its
  valuable reserves of timber in the processing market and would
  operate the concessions itself. Japan has expressed interest
  in buying Burma's processed timber.

  The loss of concessions is of major concern to Thai timber
  businesses and the military. It has prompted Thailand to
  radically alter its policies with regard to SLORC and Burmese
  pro-democracy forces.

  Burma's rate of deforestation through Chinese, Burmese and
  continued 'illegal' Thai logging is ranked as the third
  highest in the world at around 8,000 square kilometers at year

2.2.2 Salween/Moei River Dams

  The excessive logging of Thai forests in the northern regions
  of the country has caused extreme changes in rainfall
  patterns. River levels in Thailand have suffered perennial low
  levels causing serious problems for Thai agriculture and
  Thailand's own hydro-electric projects. Facing strong
  opposition to the development of more hydro-electric projects
  in its own country, the Thai National Energy Administration
  (NEA) has reportedly carried out feasibility studies on the
  construction of similar projects in either Burma or Laos.

  Thai and Burmese businesses have also been interested in the
  development of the north-west of Thailand for tourism. Again,
  however the development of the area requires water.

  SLORC has also been supportive in plans to build a dam on the
  Salween and divert the river into northern Thailand. While
  supplying Thailand with water, it would effectively cut off the
  water supply to ethnic minorities further downstream and
  deprive them of their only supply of freshwater.

  The largest of the dams is to be on the upper Salween River.
  The upper Salween dam is also to be used to divert the water
  into Thailand. The total cost of the project was to be some
  US$5.12 billion. Part of the funds were to come from a joint
  Thai-Burmese company and the remainder was to come from
  international banks. According to an adviser to SLORC on the
  dealings, "eight of the largest banks in the world", amongst
  them the Asian Development Bank, have agreed to provide loans.
  There has reportedly been agreement between the countries to
  commence with construction of the upper Salween dam.

  The result will be disastrous for ethnic minorities and also
  the environment. The Karen, Mon and Karenni who live on the
  lower reaches of the MOei stand to lose their greatest sources
  of water and transport. Without water supplies, ethnic and
  pro-democracy forces will be forced to negotiate with SLORC.
  More importantly, non-combatants in refugee villages on the
  border will also be deprived of fresh water supplies.

  The diversion of water will have an obvious and immediate
  effect on fauna and flora on the lower reaches of the river.
  UPstream from the largest of the dams, the Upper Salween, most
  of the proposed flood zone is to be in Burma, splitting the
  Karen and Karenni States. It is estimated that the zone will
  be over one thousand square kilometers submerging large areas
  of native forest and the Salawin Wildlife Sanctuary.

2.2.3 Natural Gas to Thailand

  In the last ten years there have been tow major discoveries of
  offshore natural gas in Burmese waters:

  The Yetagun gasfields are currently being established by
  Taxaco (USA), Premier Consolidated Oilfields (UK) and Nippon
  Oil. The SLORC owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE)
  also holds an option in an operating stake in the gasfields.
  Initial testing of the reserves has shown that the field can
  produce as much natural gas as Burmese reserves currently
  being exploited.

  The other major find has been the Martaban fields being
  operated by Total(France) and Unocal (USA) with MOGE also
  having an option to an interest. The Petroleum Authority of
  Thailand (PTT) also has an interest in the Martaban fields.
  Total has reported been quite open about its plans for the
  sale of gas from the Martaban field to Thailand.

  The Thai Petroleum authority has been anxious to purchase
  natural gas from the fields as it faces an energy crisis in
  its own country. The gas in intended for supply for power
  plants on the Thai-Burma border to supply Thailand with
  electricity. The concern for Thailand is that the pipelines
  that will deliver the gas to the border must be built through
  Burma. In June 1993, a delegation of officials from the PTT
  visited Burma to discuss the sale of natural gas to Thailand.
  There was an agreement signed as to the sale and construction
  of pipelines, the majority of which is to be paid by Thailand.

  Since that agreement SLORC troops have been actively engaged
  in the clearing of 'buffer zones' around potential sites for
  the pipelines. The point where the combined pipelines will
  cross into Thailand still remains unconfirmed although many
  experts suggest that it will cross in the vicinity of
  Nat-en-Taung village in the Tavoy region of South-eastern
  Burma. To reach this point the pipeline must cross areas that
  the military has been unable to control for some 40 years
  because of minority opposition. SLORC has commenced human
  rights abuses against villagers in the area in an attempt to
  silence opposition.

  According to a number of sources the Thai military have also
  commenced forced repatriation of Burmese refugees who inhabit
  villages in the path of the pipeline. In April 1993 Thai
  troops repatriated Burmese refugees from the Nat-en-Taung and
  Democracy Village. Approximately 500 of the refugees fled
  across the border into Burma. Thai soldiers burn the villages.
  Further reports claim that Pyi Thein, No. 9 Mine Camp, Ale
  Store and Kanaung Se, all of which have been in existence for
  2 years, and are now in the path of a potential pipeline
  through Nat-en-Taung, and have also been destroyed by Thai
  forces. Thai officers in command during these operations, when
  asked why the villages were being destroyed, said that they
  had been directed to drive all ethnic minorities back into
  Burma away from the pipeline.

  The proposed pipeline through Nat-en-Taung will pass through
  virgin forest and areas inhabited by a number of endangered
  species of Asian fuana. Access roads in order to maintain the
  pipeline will also need to be built through these forests
  increasing the rate of deforestation.

  The pipeline will also be built through areas controlled by
  ethnic minorities. The proposal to send natural gas through
  areas where the pipeline is vulnerable to attack raises the
  spectre of further environmental destruction.


  The increased economic pressure SLORC has put on the Thai
  government by canceling logging concessions and jeopardisiong
  large capital works projects, has managed to destabilise
  civilian rule in Thailand. As discussed above, Thailand has an
  important economic and political interest in maintaining links
  with Burma. The Thai military and internal security forces are
  affiliated with Thai business interests. Threats to Thai
  business interests are taken seriously by the military. As a
  result of these threats the military and internal security
  forces have acted to support those interest and have taken
  advantage of the waning influence of the Prime Minister's
  Office and the Foreign Ministry in foreign affairs to push
  their own policy of dealing with SLORC.

  To maintain the confidence of SLORC, Thailand has initiated
  diplomatic efforts to increase the standing of SLORC amongst
  other Asian nations. Whilst support for Thailand's efforts may
  be forthcoming there is still serious concern for how Western
  nations will react to Thailand's efforts and the repercussions
  for other nations in the region who may also lend support.

  Thailand has also commenced efforts at home to control the
  large Burmese refugee population both on the Thai-Burma border
  and in major centres such as Bangkok. In order to achieve this
  end, Thailand has enacted laws to make any gathering of
  Burmese refugees illegal and individuals liable to arrest,
  detention and repatriation. In country areas, the Thai
  military have commenced relocating refugee communities back
  into Burma.

  Other Thai interest are extensive. The plans for the supply of
  natural gas and the building of hydro-electric dams currently
  serve a number of purposes; firstly, to raise funds for SLORC
  and ensure political survival for the Thai government;
  secondly, as a step in Thailand's efforts to build stronger
  ties with its resource rich neighbour; thirdly, to provide
  greater legitimacy for the SLORC administration; and lastly,
  the by-products of many of these plans will harm the ethnic
  minorities' and pro-democracy forces' ability to continue
  resistance. Already both SLORC and Thai forces have commenced
  operations to clear 'sensitive areas' of potential sources of
  interference. The effects of these energy plans and continued
  logging will be to destroy large areas of the environment.


/* Endpart-2/3 */