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The BurmaNet News December 29, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------     
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"     
The BurmaNet News: December 29, 1997        
Issue #901

SPDC: INFORMATION SHEET No.262(I) 17-12-97  (sic: 27-12-97)

December 29, 1997

After peaking at 400 kyat to the U.S. dollar last week, the kyat is now 
hovering at approximately 380/dollar.  When the kyat hit 400, the military
started arresting people in the marketplaces who were trading at this rate.

A recent visitor to Burma also reported that the staff at his hotel refused 
to change FECs into kyat, because they said the value of the FECs was 
changing so rapidly.


December 28, 1998
by Ralph Bachoe

INTERVIEW: Unless the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(which now calls itself State Peace and Development Council) take
steps to make drastic changes in its political and economic
outlook, there will never be peace in Burma, says Moe Thee Zun.,
former chairman of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front
[sic: Moe Thee Zun is the current Vice-Chairman of the ABSDF].

There are four major problems confronting the military regime in
Burma, says Moe Thee Zun, a former student leader [in Burma].

Chief among them is finding a way to wind up the interminable
National Convention drafting a new constitution. Most members of
the convention, given the task in 1993, were hand-picked by Slorc
to ensure its continued dominance.

The NLD pulled out of the convention in 1995, saying it was of an
undemocratic nature, and it has not convened since mid-1996.

The second is the 1990 election which was free and fair and won
by Aung San Sun Kyi's NLD with 82 percent of the vote. The result
was ignored by Slorc.

Third is the "unconditional" surrender of 14 of the armed ethnic
minority groups which have been fighting Rangoon for autonomy for
more than 40 years. These groups were told to first lay down
their arms before political issues could be worked out. This has
not happened to this day.

Fourth, is how to settle the political activities of Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi and the military activities of the Karen National Union.

The four must be dealt with collectively, says Moe Thee Zun.  "We
see that Slorc is treating this lightly. As long as Slorc does not take 
the matter seriously, there will be no end to the political problems 
facing Burma."

Since Slorc is now a member of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, it should tailor its political and economic positions to
suit those of the regional organisation.

"Civilian rule must be restored, meaningful political dialogue with Daw 
Aung San Sun Kyi must be held, colleges and universities must be reopened, 
and runaway inflation must be checked," said Moe Thee Zun.

The ABSDF supports dialogue between Slorc and Aung San Sun Kyi.
It is imperative that Aung San Sun Kyi talks with SLORC. "However, 
we see no indication of Slorc wanting to talk to her. To get both sides 
to meet, pressure is needed from people within the country and the 
international community as well," said Moe Thee Zun.

And if Slorc continues to be adamant in keeping Aung San Suu Kyi
out of any process towards a political solution, there is great
danger the 1988 uprising could be repeated.

Moe Thee Zun said Slorc's decision to call itself SPDC, (State
Peace and Development Council) does not mean a thing because it
involves no change in policy and management. "We have yet to see
what change comes of it," he said. "After all, a snake is a snake
no matter how many times it sheds its skin."

There is also the question of foreign investment and how to
overcome trade sanctions imposed by the United States and
restrictions placed by the European Community, such as the (visa) 
ban on senior junta officials and their families.

"Slorc had not expected the US to impose economic sanctions, but
when it did it severely shook them," said Moe Thee Zun. "We see the 
Burmese economy is in very bad shape and it has nothing to do with the 
US sanctions. The economy was in the doldrums long before that."

The kyat now is more than 300/US dollar while the official rate
remains at 6/dollar. Petrol has soared from 25 kyat a gallon in
June to 180 kyat and is only available in cities such as Rangoon
and Mandalay. It is almost impossible to buy it at the official
rate in places such as Taunggyi in the Shan States.

The regime also is finding it difficult to acquire loans from
institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank
and Asian Development Bank.  "This is one of the major reasons
why Slorc has been so desperate in seeking membership of Asean."

Moe Thee Zun does not believe the kyat can be restored to
anywhere near its former value and suggests it be brought down to
100/dollar if there is to be meaningful business with Asean.

Rampant inflation is a major headache for the junta which pays
the average official 1,500 kyat a month. In 1996, the government
granted loans ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 kyats to officials.
A public servant who took a 50,000-kyat loan has to repay 500
kyat a month towards the borrowed sum, then 200 kyat for
state-subsidised rice. In addition there are medical expenses for
the family. All these deductions leave the official with take-home 
pay of six-nine kyat.  "Not to mention," Moe Thee Zun says, "tuition 
fees and other daily expenses for the family not taken into account."

Inflation has soared from about 30 years ago when a family of
four could survive on 10 kyat a day to enjoy three square meals.
Moe Thee Zun says prices of basic commodities, gold and land
skyrocketed after Khun Sa, the drug lord, capitulated to Slorc in
1996. He was never brought to justice and lives in comfort under
the protection of the military, which has given him a
transportation concession in upper Burma.

After he and other top drug traders such as Lo Hsin Han gave up
to the authorities, money laundering became rampant. "Black"
money was converted into "white" money as the traffickers began
investing in legitimate sectors of the economy. This means more
money had to be printed and triggered price rises in all sectors.
"Ordinary Burmese and traders have now lost faith in the value of
the kyat," Moe Thee Zun said.

Land prices in the affluent district of Windermere Road in
suburban Rangoon are almost equivalent to Manhattan. "When
Princess Diana wanted to buy an apartment in Manhattan, the
price quoted was $3.7 million. At about the same time, a house at
Windermere Road belonging to a well-known Burmese gentleman was
sold for $2 million."

Burma, he says, could soon face rice shortage, and therefore a
serious price rise of the commodity, especially after recent serious 
floods in the rice-growing central and Irrawaddy delta regions. Flooding 
in July and August destroyed most of the monsoon rice crop.

Inflation, Moe Thee Zun says, has also resulted in the influx of
Burmese refugees into Thailand which now stands at 1.5 million.
They are concentrated mainly in border towns such as Mae Sot and
Ranong where there are more Burmese than Thais. They are
everywhere, in Thai lockups and in brothels.

Moe Thee Zun also attributes the Burmese predicament to Asean's
"constructive engagement" policy. "What Asean and Thailand, in
particular, do not realise is that the influx of refugees poses a
security threat to this country," he said.

"In the beginning, it was only the Burmese living along the
border who crossed over to seek employment. Now they are coming
from all parts of the country, as far as Arakan State, which
borders Bangladesh," he said.

Among them are young intellectuals who have become drug addicts
because of the aimless lifestyle in border areas. Apart from Aids
and prostitution, drugs have become a major headache, not only
for the refugees but also for Thailand.

Acute problems facing these displaced people are AIDS and
prostitution. There are presently 30,000 Burmese women working as
prostitutes in Thailand. In Rangoon alone, there are more than
100,000 plying their trade for want of decent employment.  There
are about 500,000 people infected with Aids, which is also rampant
in prisons because of inadequate medical treatment and factors
such as the scarcity of needles.  Sources in Burma say at least 20
Thai inmates in Rangoon prisons have died of Aids.

"The international community can no longer ignore the situation,
and we ask them to investigate the matter, both in prisons and
nationwide. Burma has no statistics on the spread of the
disease," said Moe Thee Zun.

Burma is also the major source of methamphetamine and heroin, he
says.  The production and the export of these drugs into
Thailand  has tripled since ceasefire agreements were reached
between most of the ethnic forces and the Burmese military. As
Slorc put it, 14 groups have  returned to the "legal fold"- the
Karen National Union being the only organisation  to hold out.

Sources in Burma say it costs more to buy needles and syringes
than opium which is available freely all over the country.
Intravenous use of heroin, available in drip bottles in the districts 
and along the border areas, is contributing to the spread of HIV/Aids.

Indifference on the part of the authorities to contain the use of
heroin is such that one could get away with two to three years in
prison if caught with the drug. Possession of leaflets or literature 
distributed by democratic forces could bring a jail term of 14-20 years.

Another social problem presently confronting the Burmese is alcohol.  
It is now widely available in all districts and towns after the government 
recently issued licences to whoever wanted to set up a distillery.
The outcome is the production of cheap alcohol made from
methanol  and the rise in number of alcoholics among the young
generation. These young people with no other forms of
entertainment have taken to drink. It is estimated that there are
about 20 shops in each district selling alcohol.

While the world is contemplating how to deal with political,
economic and social issues as it approaches the year 2000, the
military, it seems, has no plans for the dawn of a new era.

"They have yet to tell the people what to look forward to in the
future.  But all they are doing is making life more difficult.
We don't have much time left," said Moe Thee Zun.


December 27, 1997  (Shan Herald Agency for News)

The Shan States Army (Southern)'s Kornzurng Column, during its recent
engagements with the SPDC troops, managed to capture a heroin refinery 
near Murng Kerng, according to an SSA source.

The place was heavily defended by SPDC rearguard until they were able 
to remove the finished product.  As a result, only the raw materials and
utensils were captured. The date was 15 November.

The source also claims that Kanna, the militia chief, and General Tin Oo,
SPDC's Secretary-2, jointly own at least two refineries. The other one is at
Wan Phaleng, Sangha Circle, Kesi township.

One of the six Guiding Principles of the Shan States Army (Southern),
formerly the Shan United Revolutionary Army, is to assist in the solution
of the Shan drugs problem. Its commander is Yordserk. The army is
affiliated to the Shan Democratic Union, the exiled Shan group. Both
support the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the party that won the
most seats in the Shan State during the 1990 elections, to speak for the
Shan State.



December 29, 1997

News reports after the ASEAN Conference held in Kuala Lumphur 
in mid-December stated that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested
new elections should be held in Burma.  

In fact, in his Kuala Lumpur press conference on December 17th, which 
was the origin of these reports, the SG only referred to elections in the 
most general terms as one of the many aspects of democratization.  

"The Chairman [Than Shwe] told me that they are opening up their society,
they are moving toward democratization, and no timetable has been established
as to when.  If you talk of democratization, in the end it has to be the
will of 
the people, elections, and all that.  But no timetable has been established
for some
of the things one would normally expect in the move towards a democratic

He also said that he did not raise this with Than Shwe, and that it was not
up to 
him to suggest anything like this.  

Given that the UN resolutions have called for "all necessary steps towards
democracy in the light of the results of the election held in 1990", a UN
call for new elections  would have seemed like something of a climb-down.

When the full text of the press conference is available, we will post it on 


SPDC: INFORMATION SHEET No.262(I) 17-12-97  (sic: 27-12-97)
December 28, 1997  (abridged)

[BurmaNet Editor's Note: The military junta is slowly reopening graduate
degree courses and distance education courses but not undergraduate courses 
on campus.  The graduate students are few in number and easy to control.  
The diploma courses referred to below are short-term courses on specific 
subjects.  The junta is afraid of allowing large numbers of  students back 
on campus, because they are likely to start demonstrating against the regime 
again.  Pyinmana Agricultural College and Myitkyina College are the only 
undergraduate institutions currently open that we know of.]

(4)   Master's Degree and Diploma Courses on Medicine to Open 2 January

Master's degree and diploma courses on medicine for 1997-98 academic year
will open at the universities under the Medical Science Department on 2
January 1998. Those eligible for the courses are to attend the opening
ceremony to be held in the Institute of Nursing, Yangon, the same day. Those
eligible to attend the Institute of Medicine-1 the Institute of Medicine-2,
the Institute of Dental Medicine, the Institute of Paramedical Sciences and
the Institute of Pharmacy are to report to the respective universities and
those eligible for the Institute of Medicine, Mandalay, to the Medical Science
Department without fail during office hours on 1 January 1998, it is learnt.


December 22, 1997

This latest report contains information gathered directly from the
areas concerned. The purpose of the report is to demonstrate the
Burmese Military's continuing policy of systematic persecution and
uprooting of Karen communities in disputed areas of military control.

Some solitary abuses against villagers may be the actions of
individual soldiers or troop sections. However, the underlying theme
of the following incidents, and those widely documented in other
reports, bear witness to a sustained strategy of the Burmese Army to
persecute civilian populations in contested areas.

There are several reasons for this campaign. The main one is to deny
local Karen troops a source of food, information, manpower, and a
possible source of taxes.

Another is that if Burmese troops suspect a village or any of its
residents to be sympathetic to the KNLA cause, they punish it for its
apparent association, sometimes destroying it completely to disuade
the civilians from contacting the KNLA in the future, or relocating it
nearer to a local Burmese Army base.

A third example is when Burmese units take out their anger and
frustration on local villages, in reaction to recent ambushes or
attacks from highly mobile groups of Karen soldiers.

Thaton District (1st Brigade Area)

Thaton Township:
On November 8th, troops from LID 44 raped Naw Ma Aye (father's name -
Kyi Sein).

On November 12th, troops from LIR 102, a unit of LID 44, raped two
girls from Ta Reh Khee village. They are: 1. Naw Bee Lin (father's name - 
Hsa Pee); and, 2. Naw Tae Pa Kah.

On the same day, November 12th, a DKBA soldier named Than Htoo
extorted the following amounts of money and possessions from nine
villagers in Ler Hkaw village. They are:
        1. Khin Maung - forced to give one bull (worth 27,000 Kyat);
        2. Kyaw Lay - forced to give 10,000 Kyat in cash;
        3. Pa Kaw - forced to give 10,000 Kyat in cash;
        4. Maung Than - forced to give one cow (worth 10,000 Kyat);
        5. Naw Tee Hta - forced to give 10,000 Kyat in cash;
        6. Kee Shwe - forced to give one buffalo (worth 30,000 Kyat); 
        7. Law Htaw - forced to give 1.5 tons of wood planks (worth 
            10,000 Kyat);        
        8. Pa Ba - forced to give 10,000 Kyat in cash;  and,        
        9. Pa Ay - forced to give 10,000 Kyat in cash.

        The extortion totalled 127,000 Kyat.

On November 20th, Saw Po Hset (male, aged 50) was picking betel leaves
in a tree near the village of Mae Naw Hteh Khee. Troops of LIR 1, led
by Battalion Commander Hlaing Myint and Company Commander Sai 
Aung Win arrived in the area, and shot and killed him.

On November 27th, troops of LIB 30 came to Paw Ghee Kee village and
raped two girls - Kyi Win and Myint Aye.  On November 28th, joint troops 
from LIR 102 and the DKBA forcibly seized 100 tins of paddy rice from 
Naw K'Toh villagers.

Two days later on November 30th, a DKBA soldier named Pah Mer Ler
ordered civilians from each of the following villages to provide 1,600
kgs of charcoal: 1. upper and lower Naw K'Toh; 2. Tah Reh Khee;
3. Tah Maw Daw; 4. Noh Ber Baw; 5. Noh T'Law Aw.

On December 2nd, two DKBA soldiers named Shwe Tha Lee and Plaw Poh,
together with the Commander of No.3 Strategic Command and a Staff
Officer (Burmese Army rank - G3) ordered each house in Htee Nya Paw
village (approximately 200 houses) to provide them with 2 tins of rice
every day. These soldiers, stationed at the village, considered each
house to be able to provide this, based on the amount of rice the
villagers ate every day. The Burmese soldiers then sold the extorted
rice to pay for chicken, fish, frogs and other foods for their own meals.

On the same day, DKBA troops ordered all the villages in Tah K'Nu, 
Way Raw, Thae Paw Hta, and Gaw Ler village tracts, totalling 13 
villages, to pay 300 Kyat per household to them.

On December 4th, soldiers from the 4th Company of LIB 38 shot and
killed Saw Ka Pree (male, aged 50), a resident of Ghaw Po Pleh village.

On December 13th, the villagers of Lay Kay were holding a celebration
when the troops of LIB 36, a unit of LID 44, came to the village. The
soldiers were led by Battalion Commander Saw Lay, Deputy Commander 
Win Kyi, and one Intelligence Officer, who were all drunk. The troops
seized 100 people including women, children and the elderly, even as
old as 70 years. They beat and tortured this group of civilians, ten
of whom suffered lacerations to their heads.

        Bilin Township

On December 1st, troops from LIR 38, including Kyaw Min (a former 
KNLA soldier who defected to the Burmese Army), came to Htee Pah 
Doh Hta village and arrested the wife of Saw Tah Dah. They took her 
to their base at Yoh Kla. Her fate is unknown.

Five days later, on December 6th, the same soldier, Kyaw Min, came
back to the village, and stole one buffalo from Maung Pay.

On December 2nd, a DKBA soldier named Saw Win Hla extorted money 
from three villagers of Tah Paw village. Saw G'Roh and Pan Khin handed 
over 500 Kyat each, and Naw Ker Ker was forced to give 15,000 Kyat.

On the same day, December 2nd, DKBA Brigadier Commander Maung 
Kyi sent a letter to the chiefs of Bilin, Thaton, and Pa-an townships, and
ordered each village tract within these three townships to pay 300,000
Kyat each.

        Pa-an Township

On December 4th, a DKBA soldier named Pah Nee came to Mae Theh 
village and searched Saw Poe Htoo's house. During the search, he helped
himself to 7 shirts, 3 blankets, 1 towel, 1 pair of earrings, 12 spoons, and 
2,500 Kyat in cash.

Taungoo District (2nd Brigade Area)

On December 4th, troops from LIR 540 burnt down the village of Oo Per.

Nyaunglebin District (3rd Brigade Area)

On November 27th, troops from LIB 48 arrested 3 male civilians from
Aung Chan Thar village, and later killed them when the unit came under
attack from KNLA troops. They were: 1. U Pyin Nyar; 2. Min Min Latt;
3. Theh Bu.

On December 5th, troops from LIR 440 arrested 3 civilians from Hsaw
Htee Way village in Shwegin Township, while they were tending their
lemon grove at Wah Koe Law Teh Tha Traw. The soldiers severely beat
them and stole all their money, totalling 30,000 Kyat. The names of
the civilians are: 1. U Toe;  2. Saw Pa Gaw; and, 3. Heh Kyee Peh.

Mergui/Tavoy District (4th Brigade Area)

On November 24th, unidentified Burmese Army troops burnt down 48
houses in Mee Kyaung Thet village.

On the same day, November 24th, the 4th Company of LIR 285, led by
Company Commander Maung Lwin Oo, burnt down 23 houses in Ka Plar
village, one house in Theh Hsaw Kyo, and one house in Poe Tha Baw Der.

Eleven days later, on December 5th, the same troops, the 4th Company
of LIB 285 led by Company Commander Maung Lwin Oo, had moved on 
to Hsa Deh Win village. Here, they burnt down 34 houses in the village,
including a church.

On November 26th, Burmese Army troops burnt down Saw Taw Paw's house
(valued at 50,000 Kyat) in Peh Char village. Later that day, Battalion
Commander Khin Maung Win of LIB 280 ordered 5,000 Kyat from each 
house in the village. The burning of Saw Taw Paw's house was seen as a
warning to any family who could not pay.

On the same day, November 26th, troops LIR 204 shot and killed Saw Peh
Koh from Paw Tha Shu village.  They also killed a 35-year old male at a place
known as Ya Wah Hta. His name was Saw Hker from T'Peh Lay village.

On December 7th, LIB 280 Battalion Commander Yeh Naing Soe extorted
porter fees from P'Saw Oo and Ler Pah Doe villages. Each village had
to pay 100,000 Kyat. Nine days later, on December 16th, LIB 280 again
extorted money from P'Saw Oo village. This time, Sergeant Kyaw Min
ordered them to pay 6,000 Kyat. Three days earlier, the Battalion
Commander of LIB 208, which is based at Palaw, had also demanded 1,000
Kyat from P'Saw Oo village.

On December 8th, LIB 101 Battalion Commander Hla Kyi and Deputy
Commander Soe Win stabbed 4 porters to death in a forest area as the
military unit was on its way to attack the KNLA's 10th Battalion. Two
of the villagers were from Shan Aye Taung village, another was from
Nyaung Pin Kwin, and the fourth was unknown.

Two days later, on December 10th, the same troops, LIB 101 and their
porters, reached Leh Pa village. The troops shot and killed one
villager - Moe Thein - and then stripped his body naked. They also
took one shotgun and one carbine from his house. During this visit,
the Burmese soldiers also arrested 2 females and 4 males. Their names are:
1. Naw Keh Meh; 2. Naw May Ray; 3. Naw May Ray's husband;
4. Saw Way Lin; 5. Paw Yoh; 6. Saw Poe Dee;

On the same day, 7 porters managed to escape from LIB 101. They showed
signs of torture, and spoke of not having sufficient food. Their names are:
        1. Maung Win Thien - male, aged 33 from Mergui town;
        2. U Win Naing - male, aged 52 also from Mergui town;
        3. U Win Nyunt - male, aged 46 from Kan Pyar village;
        4. U Shwe Paing - male, aged 46 from 6 Mile village;
        5. Saw Lweh Say - male, aged 56 from Th'Keh village;
        6. Poe Paing - male, aged 30 from Th'Keh village;
        7. Kyaw Khin - male, aged 30 also from Th'Keh village.

Mu Traw (Papun) District (5th Brigade Area)

On December 1st, troops from LIR 704 pillaged Baw Mu Der village in
southern Mu Traw District. Here is a list of the villagers affected
and the possessions they lost:

        1. Pa Mu Traw - had one trunk stolen;
        2. Saw Teh - had one trunk and 16 old silver coins (his
        family's heirloom) stolen;
        3. Pa Ta Baw - had one trunk stolen;
        4. Saw Tu Heh - had two trunks stolen;
        5. Naw Shee Paw - had two trunks stolen;
        6. Pa Boh Say - had one trunk stolen;
        7. Naw Bee Bah - had one trunk and two wicker baskets stolen.
        Her rice barn was also burnt to the ground;
        8. Pa Beh - had two trunks, 30 old silver coins (his family's
heirloom), and one elephant tusk stolen. His rice barn was also burnt
to the ground, containing 12 tins of paddy;
        9. Saw Bweh Gaw - his house and rice barn, containing 320 tins
        	of paddy, were burnt to the ground;
        10. Saw Gweh Gaw - his rice barn, containing 80 tins of paddy,
        	was burnt to the ground;
        11. Naw Bu Paw - had one wicker basket stolen;
        12. Naw Nay - had one wicker basket stolen;
        13. Maw Gweh - had one trunk stolen;
        14. Naw Bay Dru - had one trunk and two pairs of earrings stolen: 
        15. Naw Play Htee - had one wicker basket stolen; 
        16. Naw Day Gay - had one wicker basket stolen; 
        17. Naw Rah Paw - had one wicker basket stolen; 
        18. Naw Say Lay - had one wicker basket stolen;
        19. Naw Klo Thaw - had one wicker basket stolen; 
        20. Naw Bay Paw - had one wicker basket stolen; 
        21. Naw Pla Say - had one wicker basket stolen;
        22. Naw Dweh Mu - had one wicker basket stolen; 
        23. Hsaw Pa Wah - had one trunk stolen. The troops 
	also burnt down a further 11 houses in the village.

(N.B. A trunk is a large wooden box, kept by many families to store
their clothing, personal belongings, and other items of intrinsic
value, such as national identity papers, family heirlooms etc. Losing
this signifies losing most, if not all, of one's personal belongings).

Six days later, on December 7th, troops from the same regiment, LIR
704, moved into Kyo Mu Lay Der village. Here they burnt down all the
houses in the village. This was in response to two skirmishes that
happened earlier in the day, when KNLA troops attacked them. The same
day, troops from the same unit, LIR 704, moved onto Kyo Po Lay Der
village and razed 12 houses and Saw Po Kya's rice barn, containing 120
tins of paddy, to the ground.

The next day, December 8th, the same troops entered Po Hta village and
burnt down five houses.

On December 2nd, troops from LIR 341 came to G'Law Hta village tract
in Northern Mu Traw District, and split into two groups. One group was
positioned along the top of Ter Rgaw ridge, while the other went into
G'Law Hta village.

When this information was collected, it was unsure what the plans of
the Burmese troops was. However, the villagers believe that they had
come to order the villagers to store their recently harvested paddy
communally, so that the soldiers could oversee the use of the paddy,
and ensure that none was syphoned off and supplied to local, mobile
KNLA forces. (N.B. Usually, each family stores its rice in its own
rice barn. This arrangement, however, is very difficult to monitor).

On December 3rd, at 7:00 a.m., troops from LIR 28 came to Wah Thoh
Khla village in southern Mu Traw District. As is typical when Burmese
soldiers arrive in a village, many of the residents ran to hide,
fearing possible violence, extortion or capture. As is also typical
when villagers run to hide from Burmese soldiers, the soldiers of LIR
28 started shooting randomly at them. Fortunately this time, no-one
was injured or killed.

The next day, DKBA soldiers arrested 5 village elders from Bler Ber in
southern Mu Traw District. They were severely tortured and taken to
the DKBA's camp, where 1,500 Kyat was demanded for each of them to be
released. Their names are: 1. Po Day; 2. Po Klay; 3. Hpa Hkay; 4. Hpa Hkeh;
5. Maung Myint.

On December 7th, Burmese troops came to Htee Law Thee Hta village with
6 medics, apparently offering local health care. All the villagers
were given vaccine injections, but when they presented their medical
history cards to record the vaccination, the medics just entered the
words "Na M'Lay Bu" (literally translated - "Not understand").

The villagers are seriously concerned about the lack of information
about the injections given, and fear that this may be some kind of
trick by local Burmese soldiers. We hope to be able to monitor the
health status of this village in the coming months.

On December 10th, DKBA soldiers arrived at Lay Po Hta village. The
villagers began to run away and hide, fearing the DKBA's intended
activities. In response, the soldiers started firing at the fleeing civilians. 
Fortunately, no-one was killed or injured, but two villagers were seized 
and 1,000 Kyat was demanded for each of them to be released.

On December 12th, soldiers from LIB 38 shot and killed 5 villagers - 1
woman, 2 children, and 2 men - at Htee Theh Lay village. They were:
        1. Naw Kweh Rgay - female, aged 30;
        2. Hpo Tay - boy, aged 10;
        3. Saw Heh Nay Lweh - boy, aged 7;
        4. Saw Heh Mya - male, aged 20; and,
        5. Saw Aung - male, aged 40.

On December 15th, Burmese troops came to Baw Tho Hta in southern 
Mu Traw District, and started shooting at villagers. Fortunately, no-one
was killed or injured.

Duplaya District (6th Brigade Area)

At about 7:00 in the evening of November 10th, a battle broke out
between KNLA troops and soldiers from the Burmese Army's LIB 454, near
the village of Waw Lu. The next day, soldiers from LIB 454 killed one
civilian from the village, arrested 5 others, and tortured 15 more, 3
of whom suffered serious injuries.

On November 17th, soldiers from LIB 231 arrested one woman from Mah
D'Ler village, and took her to Hsaw Hta (also known as Azin) village. The 
Burmese Army has a base at Hsaw Hta. The fate of this woman is unknown.

On November 22nd, at 12:15 in the afternoon, soldiers from the 3rd
Company of LIR 547, led by Company Commander Kan Khun, shot and killed
a 37-year old male at Ma Ner Gone. His name was Saw Myint Shwe from Oh
Pah village.

The next day, November 23rd, the same troops shot and wounded a
52-year old male at Noh T'Gaw Khee, near Daw Praw village. His name
was Saw Ber Bah from Set Geh Weh village.

LIB - Light Infantry Battalion
LIR - Light Infantry Regiment
LID - Light Infantry Division
KNLA - Karen National Liberation Army
DKBA - Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (a faction of the KNLA which
defected to the Burmese Army in December 1994) 
1 tin of rice = 14 kgs


December 17, 1997
(BurmaNet Note: this is presumably referring to Unocal)

   A US oil multinational has announced plans for an estimated 2bn-dollar gas 
pipeline project for India, All India Radio reported on 10th December. The 
project will be a component in its trans-Asia natural gas network and will
bring gas supplies to West Bengal from  Burma,  where the company is 
developing  another pipeline project. The company's trans-Asia natural gas 
network will include existing pipelines in Thailand and  Myanmar,  as well 
as proposed pipelines in central and south Asia. 


December 23, 1997

SOURCE: Marine Drilling Companies, Inc.
Company Press Release

 [BurmaNet Editor's Note: a violation of the U.S. sanctions law?]

SUGAR LAND, Texas, Dec. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Marine Drilling Companies, Inc.
(Nasdaq: MDCO - news) today announced that it has entered into an
approximately $23 million contract with Premier Oil for the semi-submersible
KAN TAN 3 rig.

The initial contract term is for nine months, beginning about April 1, 1998,
for work offshore Myanmar in Southeast Asia. Marine Drilling has a bareboat
charter agreement for the Chinese-owned KAN TAN 3 for a five-year period,
with charter fees payable only when the rig is under contract. Marine
Drilling expects to formalize a contract for subsequent work within the next
few months.

Marine Drilling owns 16 rigs and operates 17 rigs located in the U.S. Gulf
of Mexico, India, Southeast Asia and Europe. The Company's common stock is
listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol MDCO.

Address: One Sugar Creek Center Blvd., Suite 600
               Sugar Land, TX 77478
Phone:  (713) 243-3000 Fax:  (713) 243-3080
Industry: Oil Well Services & Equipment, Sector: Energy
Employees: 800
Officers: Jan Rask, Pres./CEO
               Robert L. Barbanell, Chmn.


CLOSED OFF  (slightly abridged)
December 27, 1997
by Supara Janchitfah and Vasana Chinvarakorn in Kanchanaburi

Opponents of the Thai-Burmese gas pipeline have expressed fear
project supporters may attempt to seal off their protest site,
denying them food and raising the temperature of the conflict to
a new height.

"We have received reports that a group of local kamnan and
village chiefs are scheming against us," said Phinan
Chotirosseranee, leader of Kanchanaburi Conservation Group which
spearheads the protest.

Some 100 conservationists have since Sunday set up camps at the
entrances to the fertile reserves forests through which the pipeline 
will be laid to force the Petroleum Authority Thailand (PTT), the project 
developer, to re-route the pipeline away from the forests.

The first week of the "lie-in" protest has passed without
incident.  The protester have received a constant stream of
visitors, who dropped by to e them moral support.

But leaders of the conservation groups are concerned a
counter-protest is brewing.

"We're afraid that the main route to our protest site may be
sealed off shortly.  That would drastically affect our food
supply," said Mrs Phinan.

The PTT is working on other sections of the planned route and
expects to reach the protest site, also known as KP27 (the 27th
kilometre mark of the route), within the next ten days.  It has
announced it will take legal action to oust the demonstrators
from the site.

Supporting grassroots groups are drafting letters to invite a
number of prominent social and political figures to visit the
protest site.  Among those who have already accepted the
invitation are Dr Prawase Wasi, Sulak Sivaraksa, SeaWrite
laureate Naowarat Phongpalboon, and singer Yuenyong Ophakul,
popularly known as Aed Carabao.

A group of local high school students learned first hand about the
protest action.  Suwimol Chairat, leader of the Local Youth
Group, said they learned about the controversial project for the
first time when PTT sent its staff to their school.  They
decided to visit the protest site to learn the other side of the story."

Phibhop Dhongehai, another protest leader, said he was glad the
young students came.  He also pleaded with the local authorities
to allow his group to visit schools to present their case.

"We've repeatedly asked school authorities to let us in, but they
have rejected our requests.  They should be open-minded enough to
let people be informed and decided on their own," he said.


December 27, 1997 

The Second International Karen Youth Conference was successfully held in
Ottawa, Canada from December 22 to 26, 1997.  Representatives from the
following organizations were present at the conference.

American Karen Agency (AKA)
Karen Youth Organization- Australia
Karen Youth Organization- Canada
Karen Youth Organization- USA and
Karen Student Network Group (KSNG)

At the conference, the representatives resolutely agreed to establish a
unified body comprised of all Karens around the world.  The unified body 
shall be called the Karen National League (KNL).  The fundamental aim 
of  this unified body is to contribute, as a leading international  Karen 
organization, to the struggle of the Karen people for ethnic equality, freedom 
and democracy. This includes: developing the consciousness of the solidarity
between ourselves; making our national struggles better known domestically 
and internationally; and most importantly, fostering effective cooperation 
between Karen people and with other democratic movements.


December 24, 1997 

January 4th, 1998
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St, Toronto
Tickets are by donations at the door

               50 Years of Independence - 50 Years of Struggle

Come participate in marking Burma's 50th year of independence and honouring
the on-going struggle for freedom and human rights.

Organized by Canadian Friends of Burma and the Burmese Students in Canada

Through dance, music, theatre and the spoken word, the messages of Burma's
struggle for democracy will be given voice. Performers will include John
Ralston Saul, Canadian writer and Burma supporter; Wendy Law Yone, Burmese
novelist and daughter of Law Yone, a famous Burmese journalist; Yuzana Khin,
a Burmese political activist/actress who will perform excerpts from her
one-woman play "Struggle for Freedom"; Alan Clements, co-author with Suu Kyi
of the book "The Voice of Hope"; and a Pageant of the history of Burma from
Independence to present day, presented by the people of Burma in Canada with
the Burmese Canadian Student Organization.

Burmese food will be served and professional photographer Jeanette L.
Andrews-Bertheau will display her photographs from a recent trip to Burma.

Sponsors of the event include The Great Canadian News Company and Great
Canadian Books, the Open Society Institute and Michael Jantzi Research

For more information: Canadian Friends of Burma, ph# 613 237 8056 or