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BurmaNet News December 30, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------     
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"     
The BurmaNet News: December 30, 1997        
Issue #902


December 10, 1997

(BurmaNet editor's note: The reconstruction of King Bayinnaung?s palace
in Pegu (Bago), Burma has been a joke.  The archaeological team was not
able to complete its excavations, because the generals wanted the site to 
be quickly prepared for tourists.  Replicas of the former palace were to be 
erected as fast as possible, even though the archaeologists had not 
determined the exact site of the former palace building in the extensive 
palace grounds.  Moreover, no drawings existed of the former palace, so 
the archaeologists and historians working on the project could not duplicate
the original design.  Under pressure from the regime, they went to Thailand 
to get ideas from drawings and paintings of Thai palaces during that period.  
Yet the military, as claimed below, is insisting that the new building is an
exact replica. The reconstruction was completed amid great controversy and 
under strict security measures.  And with the new buildings in place, the 
opportunity to do a proper excavation of the site may have been lost forever.)

YANGON, 9 Dec-Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen
Khin  Nyunt this morning visited the construction site at King Bayintnaung's
Kanbawzathadi Palace in  Bago, accepted cash donated towards rebuilding 
of the Seinthalyaung Reclining Buddha Image  Tazaung and inspected 
Hanthawady International Airport Construction Project.

 The Secretary-1 then said King Bayintnaung' s Kanbawzathadi Palace is being
reconstructed  preserving its original designs so that the visitors will
realize the fact that high standard of culture and  civilization of Myanmar
people did exist many years ago. In other words, he said, it is an
undertaking to contribute towards uplift of national prestige and integrity.

 A cultural museum displaying cultural objects of Hanthawaddy Period, a lake
and a park are to be  constructed along with the Kanbawzathadi Palace, he
 said, adding that he believed those who have collected cultural heritage of
Hanthawady Period will  donate the articles they have kept since the time of
ancestors to the State when the museum comes into being. The cultural objects
will then be on display gracefully, he said.

 He pointed out King Bayintnaung was a leading emperor in Mynmar history and
it would be  necessary to build the complete and majestic Kanbawzathadi Palace
matching his honour without  contradicting historical evidence and he called
on all the responsible personnel to collect evidence  on the history of
Hanthawaddy fully and to make concerted efforts to build the cultural museum on
the Hanthawaddy Period along with a lake and a park.


December 30, 1997

The majority of the inhabitants of  the Western Burma border area are Chin, 
Naga, Kuki, and Kachin - highland dwellers who survive by farming, hunting, 
fishing, and collecting forest products.  These groups straddle the Burma-India 
border, and are locked in struggles for autonomy on both sides.  

The Northeastern States bordering Western Burma are as follows:
Arunachal Pradesh - Kachin State
Manipur - Sagaing Division
Mizoram - Chin State

Kachin people, called Singpaw in India, live in Arunachal Pradesh.
Nagas, Kukis and Manipuris can be  found in Manipur, and 
Mizos (closely related to Chins) inhabit Mizoram.  Chin refugees 
and migrant workers from Burma can be found in Manipur and Mizoram.

The region of Northeastern India is mainly inhabited by Tai peoples (related 
to Thais and Shans). The state of Manipur was an independent Hindu kingdom 
in the past, which was often at war with Burma. In the early 1800s, Manipur 
was a vassal state to the Burmese kingdom in Mandalay.  Northeastern India
only came under Indian control after World War II.  Indigenous groups 
opposed to Indian rule soon took up arms against the Indian "imperialists".   
Although some areas, such as the State of Mizoram, are now peaceful, in 
many areas (in particular Manipur) the insurgencies have continued until the 
present day.

Most of the resistance groups from both sides of the border sent troops  up to 
northern Kachin State for military training from the Kachin Independence 
Army in the 80s and early 90s.  Training there stopped in 1993 when the KIO 
(political wing of the KIA) signed a ceasefire with the SLORC and an agreement 
with the Indian government.

The various armed groups generally have not worked well together and have
put forth contesting territorial claims.  Both the Indian Army and the Burmese
military junta have tried to exploit the divisions between the groups.  At
the SPDC has allowed Northeastern Indian insurgents to use Burmese 
territory while the Indian Army has allowed anti-SPDC resistance forces to 
use Indian territory.

In 1995, the SLORC and the Indian Army conducted their first joint operation, 
Operation Golden Bird, to eliminate insurgent groups along the common border.  
However, when the Indian government gave the Nehru Award to Aung San Suu 
Kyi, the SLORC immediately halted the operation and stopped Indian veterans 
from WWII who were on a memorial march through Western Burma at that time.  
Since then, joint operations have not been resumed.

The Burmese military junta and the Indian government have held three or 
four rounds of border talks over the past two years.  These talks have included 
discussions of military cooperation and the expansion of trade between the 
two countries.  Specifically, the two governments agreed to build a bridge 
over the Tiao River linking Chin State and Mizoram.  The Indian government 
agreed to pay for the construction of the bridge and has already laid
foundations, but the Burmese military junta then asked that the construction be 
stopped.  It is likely that they are using the same tactic they have used
with the 
Thais over the bridge at Mae Sot-Myawaddy.  Namely, they will ask the Indian 
government to make more concessions before construction can be resumed.  A 
gas pipeline project  bringing gas to NE India is also under consideration.


November 15-30, 1997  (bi-monthly magazine)

In a chance meeting with a Chin underground leader, it could be
understood that the Chins of Myanmar were deeply concerned over the
escalating Kuki-Paite clashes. [note: Kukis and Paites are closely related
to Chins]

Among the spirited audience to warm up the moments of a North-East
extravaganza in the Capital on Nobember 1. (section missing) 
We want independence from Burma. It will be an independent State for 
the Chin people, he said with a smile on his face. It has been the demand 
of the Chin National Front, an insurgent group, formed in Champhai 
(Mizoram) in 1988 for liberating the Chin people from the clutches of 
the Burmese military junta. The man in the ethnic Chin dress was a top 
leader of Chin National Army (CNA), the armed wing of the CNF.

In the backdrop of the Kuki-Paite clashes in Manipur -both the tribes
along with the Mizos are originally the Chins, speaking the same
language- the importance , attached by the CNF into the Indian affairs
has naturally increased. But the outfit strongly denies the rumour that
it has side with the Paites, In a release on September 3, 1997, CNF
terms the problems of the Kuki and Paite within Chins as the works of
some anti-Chin elements.

The close interaction of this militant outfit, across the border, with
those of the North-East dates back to their joint training in Kachin (in
Burma) by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), a group established
by Zaw Maing in the fifties. In those days, the CNA cadres used to play
football matches and sing songs together with those of the NSCN, ULFA,
and other N_E insurgent groups.

However, during the Operation Golden Bird of the Indian Army against the
NE insurgents, its relations with the India government were strained as
it was aiding the Khaplang group of the NSCN (one of the Naga factions
fighting for autonomy in Burma and India). Now it claims that it has severed 
its relation with that faction of the NSCN.

Like the North East India, Myanmar is also infested by hordes of
insurgent groups. The country's Shan tribe itself has 10 different
militant outfits. The insurgent groups of other tribes like Chin,
Kachin, Karen etc, have demanded self rule in their respective territory.

The dictatorial regime of General Than Shwe, who is the present chairman
of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in Myanmar, has
led the moderates to join hands with the extremists. The umbrella
organisation, called National Council of Union of Burma (NCUB) has 
now taken as its constituents some student organisations, exiled
groups, National League for Democracy/ Liberated Area and some 
insurgent groups including the CNF. The prime objective of this 
coordinating body is to establish democracy and a federal structure in 

In the country, ruled by the military generals for years, the democratic
practice is totally alien to the Burmese . Aung San Suu Kyi's party,
National League for Democracy (NLD), was not allowed to form the
Government even though it won an overwhelming majority with 394 
seats in a house of 485 after the May 1990 general election.

The military junta struck terror upon the NLD members, arresting its
members indiscriminately. As many as 32 members crossed to the India
side and they are now stationed in five places-Moreh ( Manipur), Imphal,
Champhai, Aizawl (Mizoram) and Delhi. Interestingly these include some
democratically elected MPs from the Burmese Parliament.

When contacted by the North-East Sun, Dr.Ro Ding general secretary of
National League for Democracy/ Liberated Area (NLD/LA)-India remarked,
'"even my father U Do Thawng, an MP was arrested by the military regime. 
The military regime crackdown on NLD intensified after some MPs
recently met at Mandalay (second largest city in Myanmar) for
restoration of democracy in the military-ridden country. The members of
the NLD had no other option but to take refuge in some other countries."

Because of the common culture and tradition, the Chin refugee of Myanmar
could easily adjust with the Mizos in Mizoram and the Kukis and Paite in
Manipur. Till the 15th century, the Kukis and Paites lived together at
Teddim  in the Chin hills of Burma. In the Chin language, the Paite (a
later migrant) itself means the people who have left.

But the recent chapter of Kuki-Paite enmity has indirectly disturbed the
Chin refugees, their original brothers from the Chin Hills of Myanmar.
Any involvement in the activities of one group leads the other group to
suspect them. Says Dr. Ding, himself a Chin, "Both Kukis and Paites are
the Chins and we want immediate stoppage of Fratricidal killings."

Through fighting for the common cause of liberating the Chin Hill area
from the Burmese control, Chins have now several groups. Jhon No Than
Kap, a former chairman of the CNF, has now headed a separate group of
Chins in Myanmar. Jhon followers are reported to have a good
coordination with the NSCN(Khaplang) and thus they are very much
involved in the Indian affairs.

Another Chin group, Chin Liberation Organisation(CLO) headed by a former
Rangoon University lecturer, Ro Za Thang itself is based in Mizoram, a
state which witnessed no major insurgency after Laldenga's joining to
the mainstream. The group of Ro Za Thang is often accused of siding
towards the Paites, Making the things more complicated for the Chins.

In the meantime, the Kuki National Front Submitted Aide- Memoire (a
memorandum) to I.K. Gujral on October 25 last, where it described Vuite
(Paite) along with Zou, Simte etc, as different Kuki clans. However, it
has no mention about its ongoing clashes with the Paites, nor has it
proposed to restrain from it.  The front basically reiterated its demand
for creating Kukiland "within the frame-work of the Indian Constitution
so as to protect and preserve Kuki ethnicity, custom, culture and tradition".

In spite of Government's best effort, the Kuki-Paite enmity and its violent 
reactions in Manipur's Churachandpur district have not receded as yet.


December 2, 1997

[BurmaNet Editor?s Note: There are also Burmese student groups based 
in Manipur and Mizoram.  Many Manipuri academics, journalists, and 
politicians are sympathetic with the Burmese pro-democracy movement,
and they have formed a group entitled The Friends of Burma (Manipur).]

The Friends of Burma (Manipur) is delighted to note that Captain Kaung 
Zan Oo, Chairman of Tamu township count has finally been transferred 
out form  the strategic posting on the  Indo-Burma border  area.  This 
Captain was a dictator incarnate...   he claimed  himself to  be S-in..1,  
thereby abrogating  legislative,  judicial and  executive powers in his  
single person. The hard, sincere and concerted efforts of  Manipuri  as  
well  as  Burmese  democracy  forces  has ultimately been bewared  
by  the replacement  of  this dehumanized, dictatorial  SLORC  
Captain.  However, till latest reports.

He has not handed over power to  new arrival, a military major whose 
identity is not known yet.  Facts about the Captain  Kaung Zan Oo received  
lately reveals the devilish machinations of the man.  In spite of  strong 
protest from Tamu  based  traders and legal verdict against  him, the
Captain adamantly  went  ahead  with  the construction of ill-conceived  
Namphalong market  complex near  Border Gate No.2.   He did so because 
he  could act and control all the activities and  people in  this market take  
primitive emperor.

It  is reported that before  the construction of market, Captain Kaung Zan Oo 
collected  various amounts as advance form  Tamu  local traders  promising 
them shop-plots after contraction.  But once the market was constructed,  he 
kept all  the strategically important and good plots to himself and  finally 
distributed them to  big traders form Mandalay and  other  areas by  receiving 
bribery of 15.000  to lakh kyats  per plot. Thus, Tamu trading community was 
seriously affected  and  precisely  for  this reason  that when the Namphalong  
market was burnt down, they felt that they had got poetic justice.

Another report says that Captain Kaung Zan Oo had received 50 million kyats  
from the SLORC's high authority to sabotage  the anti-drug Satyagraha   
programme in last October.  In fact, Captain Kaung Zan Oo had half-succeeded
in this plan by buying and bribing certain rested interests on  the Indian
These people could  only create some minor hurdles but ultimately their plan  
was  defeated because of the determination of Manipur's people, including
the strong support of AMSU and the different communities of Moreh.  This 
feature of Captain is said to be a major cause for his transfer. Though no 
definite evidence is available, it  is also reported that he  was deeply
hand in 
glove with the drug mafia operating on  the Indo-Burma border.

Lastly, Friends of Burma (Manipur) taken note of the change of command 
in the military junta. FOV feels that the change of  name from  SLORC to  
SPDC (State  peace and development Council) is a farcical attempt of the 
junta to befool Burma people and international community.  What the military 
rulers really  seem to want  is not real  democracy,  but cosmetic democracy 
under the  thumb of  junta boots  and guns.  FOB feels that only a meaningful,  
genuinely honest and sincere dialogue between military  rulers and the 
national league for  democracy,  NLD under the leadership of Nobel laureate
AUNG  SAN  SUU  KYI  can bring  about  democracy  in Burma.

O.Joy Singh
Friends of Burma (Manipur)

News and Information Bureau, All Burma Students League


December 22, 1997

One of  the uncanny things about money is its power to bestow legitimacy.
Whether it be in terms of what we consider successful, intellectually valid
or just plain worthwhile, it is hard to argue with prosperity's stamp of
It is what makes a life of hitting hockey balls folly but chasing golf
balls an almost honoured pursuit.  It is what allows investment bankers,
sometimes seriously, to refer to themselves as " Masters of the Universe".
The twists of fortune can make a businessman a politically adept and
visionary "rooster"     one  year, and an overreaching "feather duster" the

And so it seems to be with "Asian Values". As long as Asia was booming, they
could not be denied. Now that the wheels have fallen off the Tiger express,
they lie in disrepute.

Phrases like "strong work ethic" are interpreted to mean a lack of technical
inspiration, the "emphasis  on education " is understood as the myopia of
rote learning,  and the fondness  for discipline and centralised government
as a lack of respect for an individual's human rights and repressive,
transparent  government.

 In the current climate, much of this thus can not be denied.  The  financial
crisis has exposed the dark side of the "community-over individual " facade
that so many governments in Southeast and East Asia hid behind. In the end,
though, cronyism and  political corruption have only exacerbated  capital
flight and weakened the economic potential of the region.
 With barely disguised joy, the international press is documenting these
failing with much the same triumphant tone that local papers once employed
to herald Asia's "impending domination" of the world economy.

 But it would be as much a mistake to talk about the uniformity of "Asian
flaws" as it was to talk about the uniformity of Asian values.

 This year's rude interruption to a decades-long run of growth gives the
various governments of Asia and their citizens the opportunity to stop and
think  about where they are headed and what they stand for.

If these governments are truly representative of their people, their
ultimate aim should be the development  of "good societies" - communities
which not  only enjoy economic prosperity and social stability but which are
compassionate and humane as well.
Both governments and peoples in the region  should now be aware that in
order to sustain strong and vibrant economies, open and accountable
political and institutional governance is essential.  The protection of
human rights should be seen to have  implications for stability and order
and as a factor which can affect economic development.  But not in the 
negative way governments viewed them in the past.

 There are many lessons to be drawn from the turmoil that has engulfed Asia
in the past few months. One of the most important is that the old top-down,
erroneously-labelled "Asia" way of doing things no longer works.
If the emerging states of the region are to become the economic power houses
they aspire to be, then wealth and opportunities must be more evenly
spread among their general populations.  Only by  realising the full
potential of their people can these  countries remain competitive and
continue to develop. The choices facing Asian governments are about values -
human values, not prefabricated political ones.


December 4, 1997

Those who take the guise of champions of this and that never fail to
hurl accusations at small nations in order to belittle them and undermine
the good work being carried out.

Intense pressure was applied on the pretext of human rights and
democracy breaches by West-bloc nations in order to interfere in the
internal affairs of countries in the region, including Myanmar.  However,
when those accusations did not stick, they kept concentrating on drug abuse
or to be more specific, the production and trafficking in drugs.
The accusations concerning Myanmar were more intense in the aftermath
of 1988 disturbances which were stoked by the West-bloc. But the Government
which emerged at the time steadfastly stood on its right path and rebuffed
any and all such false accusations.

Times have changed.  In this day and age, when small nations pooled
their strength and resources to ward off the evil designs of the West-bloc,
they keep harping on the narcotics angle.

Though they give prominence to this act, Myanmar is unfazed. There is
firm evidence that even those of the armed groups which dealt in hard drugs
and were at odds with successive governments have come to terms with
reality, exchanging arms for peace.

Even the 10,000-strong Mong Tai Army of U Khun Sa surrendered
unconditionally, disbanded and are back in their villages leading a
drug-free, happy life.  Then, the formerly drug-infested Mongla area in
eastern Shan State has been recently declared a drug-free area.

All this hard evidence is to counter any accusation, the State Peace
and Development Council, said Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt to a 
meeting of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control yesterday.

The anti-drug combat is being won, but total win cannot be achieved
overnight.  That understood, nations in the region have been working
overtime to ensure success of their endeavours.

The Secretary-1 cited collaborative efforts in drug abuse control and
regional development projects involving international organizations.
He also pledged stepped-up efforts to make the world, including fellow
ASEAN nations realize the enormity of the task and the degree of success

The Tatmadaw has sacrificed life and limb in the combat, and with
honour it will keep to its commitment for total eradication of the menace. 
Others must pitch in.

December 29, 1997

The Belgian-based alternative/backpackers tour operator 'Anders Reizen', has
confirmed rumours that it has cancelled Burma trips for 1998. In addition to
Joker Tourism, this is the second major alternative agent that stops Burma
trips since KWIA Burma group has launched its tourism campaign.

In its declaration Anders Reizen said it went to Burma with the aim to make
travellers more aware of what happens beyond the golden façade. Although
travellers have been informed extensively about human rights violations and
the general political situation before and during the trip, Anders Reizen
admits that only two people returned with a more open view, who would
strongly advise friends against visiting Burma under present conditions.

Birma Groep- Burma Group
Breughelstraat 31-33, 2018 Antwerpen, BELGIUM
Tel. 32-3-2188488     32-3-2377615
Fax  32-3-2304540


December 28, 1997
Media Release


The Honorable Janelle Saffin, M.L.C, Legislative Council, Parliament 
House, Sydney N.S.W. who is also Honorary Secretary, Burma Lawyer's 
Council Australian Section, will help celebrate Karen New Year in Sydney 
on 3 January 1998.

The Honorable Member said " The Australian Karen Organization works 
tirelessly to better our community and that of their Karen brothers and 
sisters who endure much suffering. Until recently their plight at the 
hands of the Burmese dictatorship was relatively unknown. They heave 
been forced to flee their homes into Thailand where they are stateless. 
As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says " The sufferings of our Karen brothers 
and sisters are our very own sufferings."

The Karens, whose homeland borders Thailand on Burma's south-east side, 
are famous as jungle freedom fighters who fought for Burma's Independence 
during World War II, with the British , against the Japanese.

They have survived discrimination and torture by the Burmese military 
dictatorship in Burma for the last fifty years. After World War II the 
Karens were refused a share of control in the newly independent Burma. 
Following a period of marginalisation and discrimination they were 
forced to take up arms to restore democracy to the country. They have 
continued this struggle alongside other pro-democracy groups for the 
past fifty years.

Saw Toke Han, whilst defending Karen Headquarters against the marauding 
Burmese troops, was wounded in the battle for Manerplaw in 1989 and had 
to have a leg amputated. ( He is available for interview).

The Karens are confronting many new difficulties as they try to begin a 
new life in the lucky country, our democratic Australia.

Out of a population of 45 million in Burma, the Karens make up 11 
million or 24.4% of the races. There are also approximately 200,000 
displaced Karens, living legally and illegally on the Thai-Burma border. 
Some 95,000 are forced to live there in 14 refugee camps. This is 
equivalent to the population of two towns the size of Dubbo in NSW 
living in camps and needing to be fed, clothed, treated and educated. 
These refugee camps are under constant threat of attack by Burmese 
forces, despite the protection of the Thai forces. One year ago 70,000 
refugees were forced to flee when Burmese forces attacked and destroyed 
three of the camps. There have been sporadic attacks on the refugee 
population since then.

Celebration for Karen New Year will be held in Sydney on 3 January 1998 
at St. Joachim's Church Hall, 2 Mills Street, Lidcombe from 11.00 am. 
Ethnic foods, cultural dances, the sale of Karen clothes and souvenirs, 
Karen drama and a photographic display will be the highlights of the 
celebrations. The children will be entertained with games and presenting 
the prizes from 8.30 am onwards.

Karen New Year is traditionally celebrated in the first New Moon in 
January. It is a time when Karen celebrate their cultural heritage, 
their solidarity and their devotion to their land, which was taken from 
them. It is a time to renew hopes to one day return to their homeland.

Messages conveying their best wishes have also been received from the 
Honorable Philip Ruddock MP, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural 
Affairs, the Honorable Janice Crosio MP, Federal Member for Prospect and 
Ms. Margaret Piper, Executive Director, Refugee Council of Australia.

Please help celebrate the Spirit of Survival by joining with us to 
advertise and participate in this joyous occasion.

Media Contacts 1) Saw Lwin Oo Secretary, Australia Karen Organization
                  Phone/fax: (02) 9632 7215 Mobile: 0411 743 941

               2) Mahn Orlando Chairman, Australia Karen Organization
                  Phone: (02) 9671 4393

               3) Saw Toke Han Committee member, A.K.O
                  Phone: (02) 9681 5219


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