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BurmaNet News November 28, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------           
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"           
The BurmaNet News: November 28, 1997              
Issue #879


November 27, 1997
By V. Jayanth

SINGAPORE, Nov.26: Officials is Manila said Nobel laureate, during her
meeting last month with the Phillippine Foreign Secretary, Mr. Domingo
Siazon, agreed to AEAN arranging a meeting between her and the military
leadership in Yangon. Since her release in July 1995, Ms. Suu Kyi has
been saying she is for a dialogue with the junta. This year
representatives of the junta had meetings with functionaries of her
National League for Democracy (NLD). Though both sides have not revealed
the contents of these meetings, Ms. Suu Kyi has said the Generals cannot
succeed in driving a wedge between her and other NLD leaders. She has
made it clear that the party will not abandon her just to get ahead with
the dialogue process.

The recent change of name of the apex governing body in Myanmar, from
the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to the State Peace
and Development Council (SPCC) provides an opportunity for the ruling
junta to open a genuine dialogue with the pro-democracy opposition
parties. According to sources in Yangon, the dissension and the extent
of corruption in the erst-while SLORC have come out in the open now. Not
only have a majority of the old ministers been eased out, at least three
have been placed under house arrest. A detailed enquiry is reported to
have been ordered into charges of corruption and irregularites against
these Ministers and the Government agencies that functioned under them.
In particular, the Trade and Agriculture Ministers have been grilled and
so also their children on certain deals and transactions. Many of the
trading houses in Singapore, reportedly used the children of Generals as
conduits in their transactions with the junta.

Analysts believe that the inquiry and house arrests have served to
expose the differences among the ruling Generals and that this could
provide an ideal opening for the SPDC to initiate a dialogue with the
opposition for national reconciliation, "Considering the embarrassment
Myanmar has caused ASEAN and its Western dialogue partners, notably the
EU, it is time for the generals to realise that the credibility if ASEAN
is at stake in this process. Unless the grouping is able to persuade the
generals to open the door for political reforms, ASEAN may lose ground
in the international fora. It is imperative for both to effect some
perceptible changes in Yangon to convince the world that constructive
engagement is indeed the right policy", sources at the Institute of
South-east Asian Studies here said.

Without offering any solutions ASEAN can serve as a meeting ground for
the SPDC and the NLD to agree on an agenda for talks. But till now,
there is no indication from the junta on its accepting a role for ASEAN.
But analysts consider the visit of the Philippine President, Mr. Fideal
Ramos and his Foreign Secretary, Mr. Siazon's meeting with Ms. Suu Kyi,
as an indication of the junta's willingness, Since the Philippines
chairs the ASEAN Standing Committee this year and will host the annual
ASEAN Ministerial meeting in 1998, it should take the lead in brokering
a negotiate. settlement.

Sources say that ASEAN will surely want to show progress on Myanmar
before the 1998 meetings in Manila when its dialogue partners will meet
again with Myanmar. If there is no progress, some of them might abstain.
But before that, even the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) hangs in the
balance, as Malaysia insists on Myanmar's acceptance into the forum
while the EU is opposed to it.    


November 27, 1997

Oslo urged Norwegian companies to boycott Burma because of human rights
violations by its military government. Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik
said Oslo would consider stronger measures if companies didn't respect the


November 27, 1997

RANGOON, Burma (AP) - Burma's main opposition party accused the military
government today of a heightened campaign of persecution and harassment. 

The National League for Democracy cited in particular the transfer to distant
posts of civil servants related to party members. 

The military has ruled Burma for nine years, insisting all along that it
would one day establish civilian rule. But it recently hardened its stance
against pro-democracy leaders, particularly 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner
Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League leader. 

Earlier this month, Burma's four top generals consolidated their power in the
form of new ruling council, promoting several younger leaders and pushing
rivals into mainly ceremonial posts. 

The National League accused the reshuffled government of a campaign to
disrupt the social, as well as political, activities of NLD members with the
``sole reason that such activities threatened peace and stability.'' 

Yet, the party said in a statement, ``there has been no instance where
community peace and stability were disrupted by such NLD activities.'' 

The party also accused the government of a policy of requiring party members
who want to become Buddhist monks to get permission from local authorities. 

The party said the policy amounts to violation of the United Nations Human
Rights Convention, to which Burma is a signatory. 


November 24, 1997

(from a political prisoner who was in Insein from 1990-2 and is 
now in exile)

The Medical Care system that failed to prevent HIV spreads in Insein Prison
1. The Medical Care System in Insein Prison
There is only one approximately 100 bed hospital in Insein Prison for ten
thousand prisoners.  The hospital is governed by Dr. Soe Kyi, the officer
in-charge of the prison hospital and the two assistant surgeons, Dr. Tun Tun 
and Dr. Aung Than Myint, who are under his supervision. Dr. Soe Kyi was 
honored by the military junta with the title of Kyaw Thura for his approval 
signature on the death certificate of (41) demonstrators who suffocated to
in a prison van on the way to the prison in March, 1988. The prison hospital is 
governed directly by the prison department of the Home Ministry. 

The out-patient clinic is only open one a day for the prisoners in each
prison hall (different days for different halls). The procedure to get a
medical check up is lengthy because of the bureaucratic red tape system
inside the prison. The ill prisoner must present himself first to the A Khan Lu 
Gyi ( the head prisoner of the cell who is selected by the warden to monitor 
regulations), then if he approves the need for a
medical check up, he must next present himself to Tan Si (a long-term
serving head prisoner who is selected to monitor the prison regulations for
a whole building- 8 cells or 16 cells). Then another approval from the
assistant warden and the warden is needed for registration on the list of
out-patients, who have the right to receive medical check up on the assigned
day of the week. Most of the prisoners failed to receive proper
medical treatment during the lengthy process of the prison system. Usually the
out-patients only received drugs like Asprin, Paracetamol, Buspro, and
Sodamint without properly treating their underlying illness. The prison doctors
give prescriptions and medics usually follow with injections and medications

Most of the medics do not have background medical knowledge and are selected
and appointed from the criminals who are jailed for drug abuse. They have
tacit license to keep a syringe. 

Fourth-fifths of the in-patients who are admitted to the jail hospital
are not really ill patients, but they have paid a bribe to the medical
officers so as to enjoy special favors granted by the authorities and to be
from having to do hard labor. Some drug-addicted criminals pay money to 
the prison doctors to stay in the hospitals so that they can have access to 
needles and syringes and use drugs freely.

Prison medical care system that drives the spread of AIDS
The medics use the same needle to inject several patients. One of my own
experiences is that, in late July 1990, because I was seriously ill, I lied
down on a thin sheet in my prison Block for 4 or 5 days. I didn't have any
proper medical treatment during those days. Although my fellow political
prisoners reported my illness to the authorities, later I had to go through
many different authorities to get permission to be admitted to the hospital, 
even though I blacked out frequently.

The next morning after I arrived at the hospital, Dr. Soe Kyi and two other
criminal medics came and examined me. They gave me some medicine such as
Tetracycline, Paracetamol and Burmeton. After the doctor checked me, a
drug-addicted medic came to me with a syringe filled with some sort of liquid
medicine. Then he asked my name and he said he had to give me an
injection.  Being injected by a fellow prisoner is an ordinary prison
routine, and I didn't want to make any complaint, but I wondered what kind
of medicine I was going to receive, so I asked him. He replied " Are you a
doctor or a patient? If you are a patient, you must follow the doctor's
prescription. You don't need to ask anything at all. Otherwise you don't
need to come here and you can get out of here! " The medic who I met was a
criminal who had been sentenced to a five-year term in prison, and he bribed 
Dr. Soe Kyi to let him stay in the hospital to avoid hard labor in outside
He could use drugs freely.


Although his words made me very angry, my 104' F temperature kept me quiet.
He tapped my hip three times and poked the needle-point into my flesh. Later
he pulled it out and fixed the tube of the syringe and called another
patient to inject him with the same needle. When I asked the person in the
bed beside me about this, he replied " this is the routine since a long time
ago in prison". The ill
prisoners have no other choice.  They know the risk of becoming infected
with HIV from injections is great, but if they don't get an injection, they
might die from their illness. So first and foremost is to overcome their

Two weeks later when I was at the hospital, the medic attempted to inject me
again. There was a quarrel between him and me. Then Dr. Soe Kyi arrived and
asked us what had happened. When I explained to him what was going on, he
replied to me rudely that "this is a jail hospital, we can't use a
disposable needle. If you want to be injected by your own single-use needle,
you can do whatever you want when you are outside jail ( when you are
released). But this is jail and you must accept our rules, whatever they
are." He turned his head to the medic and gave the order " Don't give him 
any more injections".

Blood transfusions in a jail hospital are rare though minor surgery for
boils and skin infections are common and the practice is also very risky for
the transmission of HIV because the same instruments are used without enough
disinfection first.


Drugs in Prison

In the cell blocks, prison halls, and prison hospital, drug use is rampant.
Drugs can be found in the halls for detainees who are under trial and the
halls for prisoners who have been sentenced, especially hall #5.  It is easy
to buy heroin, sedatives, marijuana, and opium in Insein Prison.  

There are three ways to smuggle drugs into Insein: first with the warders,
second prisoners who go to trial and come back can carry drugs with them,
and third hidden in the food sent by visitors.  

The drugs which are smuggled into Insein are then used by the recipients or
sold to other prisoners.

>From 1990 to 1992 when I was in prison, the main drug dealers were Maung
Maung Gyi, Thein Htun, Clark, Soe Soe in Hall #1, and Ko Thein and Raju in
Hall #5.

The prisoners who were imprisoned for drug abuse always continued to use
drugs.  These prisoners bribed the doctor in the prison hospital so that
they were able to stay in the prison hospital.  They tried to get needles
and syringes in the hospital.  Some prisoners sold these needles and
syringes to the prisoners in other cell blocks and halls.  Sometimes they
made their own syringes.  If the needle points got dull, they sharpened them
on the floor and used them again, up to 70 times.  

In mid 1991, two criminal prisoners, Nga Shin and Kyaw Thu, overdosed from
their own drug injections.  Nga Shin died.  Although Kyaw Thu recovered, he
wasn't punished at all.

Homosexuals in Prison

In Insein Prison, some criminal prisoners try to rape other prisoners by
using force and threats.  Many of  most senior prisoners in each cell or
hall try to persuade or threaten young and good-looking prisoners to have
homosexual relations with them.  This includes children under 14.  The cell
leaders even dare to rape other men in the daytime.  

For example, Aung Htun, the hall leader in Hall #5, coerced a fourteen year
old boy into having sex with him every night.  That boy was sentenced to
three years in prison for stealing his parents' belongings.  Some prisoners
reported to the prison authorities what the hall leader had done, but they
didn't do anything about it.

Mya Maung, hall leader in Hall #4, raped a child, and told the child not to
talk to any other prisoners.  One day, Nga Shin and Moe Thu were talking to
that boy, and after that Mya Maung killed them (because of jealousy).

Soe Myat, the hall leader of Hall #1, threatened a political prisoner with a
knife and tried to rape him.  Kyaw Thu interfered to stop the rape, and then
Soe Myat quarrelled with him.

Clark, from one of the dog cells, threatened  another political prisoner
with a knife and tried to rape him, but other political prisoners got angry
and stopped him.

No Education about STDs including AIDS transmission
No education about sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, and the
negligence of the prison authorities has caused  HIV infection
in Insein Prison to become widespread. Tattooing, having limited access to
shaving materials, and genital reshaping (inserting metal balls) by illegal
minor surgery are also common causes for HIV transmission.      


November 27, 1997

Please allow me to share part of an unofficial report on the Burmese economy 
by the former chairman of the Bank of Burma. This was first reported at a local 
economic seminar in Rangoon in English. - Kyaw Tint


By U Maung Maung Hla, Ex Chairman of the Union of Burma Bank
(Reported on September 9, 1997)

" ... economic progress (under SLORC regime) has been somewhat mixed, and 
it has been accompanied by High Inflation in the transformation process. 
It would seem (obviously) that further deregulation and reform measures, 
particularly in the trade and exchange sectors, would be needed to remove 
existing Price Distortion, and for economic progress to gain (real) 

"Although GDP has grown at an average of 8 percent during the past four 
years (1992-1995), aggregate demand as indicated by the expansion of 
broad money (M2) has grown much more rapidly (average 31%) during the 
same period whereas the aggregate supply or real output is only 8%. As a 
result, the inflation rate as indicated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) 
has averaged 22% to 33% in the past four year."

TABLE: GDP and Agricultural Output (in Billion Kyats)
            1990-91     1991-92     1992-93     1993-94   1994-95   1995-96
GDP          50.3        49.9         54.8        58.0            62.4
(% increase)   2.8       -0.6         9.7          6.0        7.5        	9.8
Agri-output   19.5       18.7         21.0        22.0       23.5      	26.2

"The table shown below shows that currency in circulation grew by more 
that 10 times for 1985-1996 period and the CPI or inflation also grew by 
_more than_ 8 times in the same period, while real output (aggregate 
supply) increased by only one fifth."

TABLE: Inflation Indicators, (based on 1985 index point as 100)

		1990-91   1991-92  1992-93   1993-94   1994-95   1995-96
Demand Indicator       
Currency Circulation    287.0    380.5    521.8    597.7     844.1     1062.5
Supply Indicator       
 GDP Real Output          89.8     89.2    97.6     103.37    115.5     122.4  
Price Indicator       
 CPI                     258.5    333.9   409.4     545.5     668.0

"The main cause of excess expenditure and monetary expansion is the high 
budget deficits over the past five years. These deficits have been 
largely financed by borrowing from the Central Bank of Myanmar."

TABLE: Budget Deficits, Bank Financing, and Money Supply Changes (in 
Billion Kyats)
                  1990-91     1991-92     1992-93     1993-94     1994-95
Budget Deficit     -11.5       -12.9       -13.1        -15.5      -25.8
Bank Financing      10.8        12.7        12.9         14.9       14.0
Narrow Money (M1)   13.6        13.4        18.1         14.0       19.9

"It can be seen from the table above that there is a high degree of 
correlation between budget deficits, Central Bank financing, and monetary 
expansion (M1). Again, the rate of expansion of narrow money or currency 
in circulation is highly associated with the rate of increase in the CPI."

"We can therefore deduce that high budget deficits have contributed to 
High Inflation, accompanied by Sluggish output, high cost of energy and 
transportation, and Shortage of Foreign Exchange leading to parallel 
market rates."


Fall 1997  (excerpts)

C.  The issue of citizenship
119.    In his report to the General Assembly (A/51/466) the
Special Rapporteur made some observations on the issue of
citizenship.  It would be useful to examine the legislation
governing citizenship, if only summarily, in the light of the
information that is available, as such examination may raise
questions concerning its consistency with internationally
recognized norms.  The Special Rapporteur notes that he has
not had the benefit of discussion with the Myanmar authorities
on this issue and that he proposes to do so when he is
authorized to visit the country.
              1.  The different types of citizenship
120.    Under the 1982 citizenship law there are three types
of citizens:  full, associate and naturalized.
121.    A full citizen must be able to prove his birthplace
and the nationality of his ancestors prior to the first
British annexation in 1823, and they must have belonged to an
ethnic group settled on the territory before that year.
122.    An associate citizen is a person one of whose
grandparents was a citizen of another country.  Associate
citizenship is thus reserved for former foreign citizens or
Stateless persons.  One must note, however, that, in
accordance with decree No. 3 relating to the citizenship law,
the deadline for submission of applications for associate
citizenship expired on 15 October 1982, and foreigners and
Stateless persons can thus no longer apply for associate citizenship.

                     2.  Obtaining citizenship
125.    Regarding applications for citizenship, the only
provision still enabling applications is section 8(a) of the
1982 citizenship law, which gives the authorities the
possibility to confer in the interest of the State, on any
person, citizenship or associate or naturalized citizenship. 
The decision would thus seem to be completely within the
discretion of the authorities, as there is no clear legal
right to obtain citizenship upon fulfilling certain criteria.
133. Although not precluded by the citizenship law, an
associate citizen cannot in practice own land or fixed
property, be educated as a doctor or an engineer or work as a
private teacher or for a foreign firm, United Nations agency
or foreign embassy or stand for any elected post.

                  1.  Citizenship identity cards
135. The identity cards are coloured differently according to
the type of citizenship one possesses.  The cards must be
produced to enjoy a number of basic rights and services:  to
vote, to buy travel tickets, to stay outside one's ward of
residence with friends or family or in hostels, to receive
health services or to attend high school or university. 
Identity cards are routinely checked by the police and the
army.  The card number is noted in connection with the
smallest transaction and is sent to the relevant authorities. 
In 1990 the identity cards were changed, and now also include
mention of ethnic origin and religion.  The necessity of
mentioning a person's ethnicity and religion in this way
remains open to question.
136. The confiscation of identity cards has also been used by
the authorities as a means of harassment of recognized citizens.
137. On 26 January 1997 two NLD executives, who were staying
in the Tawwin guest house in Myaungmya township were searched
and had their citizen identity cards confiscated by local
authorities.  The cards were returned only after they had
signed a pledge to return immediately to Yangon.  Their
meeting with the Chairman of the NLD Irrawaddy Divisional
Organizing Committee was thus prevented.
138. The lack of proof of citizenship in the form of identity
cards affects numerous aspects of life of those concerned. 
First, the right to freedom of movement is restricted.  Not
only are these persons prevented from travelling abroad, but
they cannot even travel outside their ward of residence, as an
identity card is needed to register as an overnight guest. 
The lack of an identity card in addition precludes access to
health services and prevents young people from attending high
school or university.
                 2.  Groups particularly affected
139. Many persons belonging to ethnic minorities have no
identity cards, even if they would be entitled to full
citizenship under the citizenship law.  Proving entitlement to
citizenship is made difficult by lack of access to written
records and the difficulty of travelling to government-
controlled areas for registration.  Furthermore, government
officials are said to be generally unwilling to register
persons belonging to minorities.
140. It is almost impossible for the Rakhine Muslims, or
Rohingya, to become registered citizens, in particular
children born in refugee camps.  Following the promulgation of
the 1982 citizenship law, all citizens were obliged to
register for new identity cards.  By December 1992, only
845,000 out of 1,200,000 inhabitants of Rakhine State had
applied, the lowest percentage in the country.  About 30 per
cent of the relatively few applications made in Rakhine
State were either rejected or are still awaiting a decision. 
Still, none of the returnees from Bangladesh is said to have
received identity cards classifying them as any form of
citizen.  In fact, the Government of Myanmar refers to the
returnees as Bangladeshi citizens.  The army was said to have
taken away the old identity cards from the 1950s and 1960s
from many Muslims as they left the country.  The only identity
documents owned by many Rakhine Muslims are thus allegedly
copies of so-called family lists, or lists of household
members that are kept by local villages or township
authorities as proof of residence.  In July 1995 the
Government issued new temporary registration certificates,
intended for foreign residents or Stateless persons, to the
population of northern Rakhine State, at least in theory both
to returnees and to persons who never left.  The cards were
issued not on the basis of the 1982 citizenship law
but on the basis of the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration
Act and the 1951 Residents of Burma Registration Rules, both
reintroduced solely for the purpose of registering the
Rohingya.  No figures as to the number of Rohingya who have
in fact received the cards are available.
141. Most of the Muslim population of Rakhine State have not
been issued citizenship cards under the existing
naturalization regulations, and indeed most of them are not
even considered so-called foreign residents.
142. The 1982 citizenship law would in fact seem to be
intended to prevent the Rakhine Muslims from being recognized
as citizens, as the majority of the group settled in Myanmar
after 1823.  The law is, however, not always applied, and the
Rohingya were permitted to vote and to form political parties
during the 1990 elections, which must be seen as a de facto
recognition of the status of the Rohingya by the Government.


November 27, 1997  (abridged)

MAE HONG SON, Thailand, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Gangsters linked to the son of
former opium warlord Khun Sa ambushed a group of Thai narcotics police in
northern Thai jungles, killing three policemen and wounding six, officials
said on Thursday. 

``An informant told us that gangsters loyal to Khun Sa's son were responsible
for the attack on the Thai police,'' a police spokesman told reporters. 

The shoot-out took place late on Wednesday in the Golden Triangle region
after 40 policemen raided a heroin factory in the mountainous district of
Pangmapha, near Khun Sa's former stronghold in Burma's Shan State. 

One official said two of Khun Sa's sons were now cooperating with the UWSA in
the heroin business. 

The UWSA is a former rebel group from Burma that struck a cease-fire with
Burma's military government in the early 1990s. A former rival to Khun Sa and
his men, it has controlled opium growing and heroin production in the Golden
Triangle since Khun Sa surrendered to Burmese troops in January, 1996. 

The unclear border demarcation has often caused disputes between Thailand and
Burma over whether the heroin factories raided by Thai narcotics police were
on Thai or Burmese soil. 

The heroin factory raided on Wednesday was in Thailand, about 200 metres from
the border. 

The Golden Triangle region, where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet, produces
about 70 percent of all heroin sold in the United States, the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration says. 

The Thai military launched a month-long campaign this week to destroy opium
fields in northern Thailand, vowing to eradicate about 80 percent of this
year's crop.  


November 28, 1997  (abridged)   


Health authorities have voiced concern over the rate of Aids
virus infections among alien workers with a report of 12 in every
100 of them testing positive.
The provincial health office findings show the incidence of HIV
infection among alien workers is much higher than that of Thai
people, said Boonriang Chuchaisaengrat, a health of official. 

He said that while 12 per cent of immigrant workers are tested
positive for the deadly virus, only two in a hundred Thais test positive.
He said the state has to take responsibility for new-born babies
whose mothers die of the Aids virus.  "According to records of state 
hospitals here, three out of 10 women in labour are Burmese workers," 
he said.  

Mr Boonriang said the situation would worsen if officials do not
take immediate action on the spread of HIV among alien workers.


November 28, 1997

About one million illegal alien workers must be repatriated to
prevent them competing with Thais for jobs, a House labour and
social welfare committee said yesterday. 

Chairman Somboon Wanchaithanawong yesterday said the committee
had decided to push non-registered alien workers back home to
help jobless Thais.

"The influx of alien workers has posed a threat to national
security as well as to Thai workers who could lose their jobs to
these immigrants. If they are not sent back home, Thai workers
will suffer. Concerned agencies must launch drastic crackdowns on
illegal immigrants. They must be arrested and sent back home," he said. 
"Of all alien workers working legally or illegally in our
country, Burmese rank first. In Samut Prakan, there are 300,000
Burmese, mostly non-registered workers. We must urgently push
these workers back home as their presence here would cause 
social problems. Besides the Burmese Laotian, Cambodian,
Bangladeshi and Indian workers must go also,' said Mr Samret.

According to a law on immigrant workers, people who hire or give
shelter to them are liable to imprisonment of between 5-10 years
and a fine  of between 50,000-100,000 baht. 


November 27, 1997
SUPAMART KASEM in Tak Province


Rangers have been deployed in Tha Song Yang forest reserves to
prevent encroachment by foreign troops and to protect more than
500 seized logs, border authorities said.

Troops of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army are allegedly
responsible for illegal logging in Tha Song Yang forest reserves.
Another 500 logs are believed to have been smuggled into Burma's

Thai investors are said to be funding illegal logging activities.
Processed wood is then smuggled into the country via  Mae Sariang
and Sob Moei districts of Mae Hong Son.

Thanee Wiriyaratanaporn, a provincial forestry official, said the
encroached forests are close to the border and therefore
vulnerable to encroachment by foreign troops including Karen rebels.

in a related story about the situation in Mae Hong Son Province:
November 27, 1997, by Chakrit Ridmontri

The Forestry Department will tighten  security at border
checkpoints in Mae Hong Son suspected of having  facilitated
illegal logging in the Salween national park and wildlife
sanctuary, forestry chief Sathit Sawintara said yesterday.

More than 3,000 illegal logs have been seized in the park and
sanctuary this year following the opening of the checkpoints by
the Interior Ministry upon the request of four Thai companies 
which haul logs in from Burma.

Illegal logs would be hauled across the Salween River into Burma
and then stamped with  official seals to show they originated
from that country, he added.

"Some checkpoints will be closed down, and forest rangers will
step up patrol on log-hauling routes," he said.

In addition to these measures, Mr Sathit said, the department was
collaborating with other agencies to  relocate about 20,.000
Karen refugees who had  occupied the park.'and sanctuary.

Agriculture Minister Pongpol Adireksarn said yesterday he would
ask the National  Security Council and the Interior Ministry to
join forces in relocating the refugees to less fertile areas.

He said the Karens had felled trees in protected areas and sold
them to Thai logging companies with concessions in Burma.

(A) source charged that forestry officials in Mae Hong Son were
in collusion with the companies involved in illegal logging in
the park and the sanctuary. 


November 22  1997

ANDREW DRUMMOND in Thaton, northern Thailand
Villagers of a remote Burmese hill tribe who fled to Thailand to escape
their nation's military junta have been found in a "human zoo".

So far three have died, it is claimed, after being deprived of medical

The villagers, from Kayah state, went missing a year ago. They were
kidnapped by Thai businessmen and placed on land controlled by the Thai

Tourists, who have been paying 250 baht (HK$50) each to look at the women
at the Pakphongchai camp in Thaton are told by guides that the families
are living free under the care of the Thai military, which has generously
given them the land to live on.

But the families say they have been sold into slavery. They are paid only
HK$36 a month per family to look their best for tourists at the behest of
an "influential" Thai businessman with connections to the Thai military.

The businessmen sell them make-up, which they insist the women wear.

The discovery of the labour camp comes as Thailand promotes the women of
the tribe, known for their long necks, as a tourist attraction for an
internationally publicised "Amazing Thailand Year".

The women told The Times they had been beaten regularly and their
husbands had been forced to work for the Thai Army.

The group from the Padaung tribe, originally 34 in strength, fled Burma
for a village run by the Karenni Refugee Committee.

But only a few kilometres short of their destination, the group was put
on minibuses and driven away.

Karenni intelligence sources later learned that their guide had sold the
villagers to the Thai businessmen.

"We sent our troops after him but they got the news six hours too late,"
said Aung Myat, deputy chairman of the refugee committee.

Committee officials realised the group's plight when a tourist delivered
a tape on behalf of the refugees.

The tape started with the sound of women singing, then one pleading for

"Please come now. Things cannot be any worse," she said.

"We would rather die than live here."

For 30 minutes a succession of men and women poured out complaints in
their native Padaung.

"We are beaten when they see us writing or trying to talk to tourists
secretly," said one.

Another complained: "They won't let us leave. They guard us with guns."

Zaw Thet, a member of the committee, was sent to investigate. "When I got
there, there were 40 armed men at the gates", he said.

"They had M16s, and machine-guns. They pointed their guns at me and
refused me entrance."

Despite the pleas by refugee officials, and the Mae Hong Son Chamber of
Commerce, the only action taken by the authorities in Chiang Mai province
was to arrest some of the Padaung women and charge them with working

A Thai businessman, Thana Nakluang, was charged with using illegal
labour. Nakluang posted bail on the spot and sent the women back to work.