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New Year Message Statement From S.H


( 1 January 1998 )

        We have received disturbing news about the resumption in Shan State
of the forced relocation of the populace after a brief respite during the
monsoons. They are taking place in two townships, namely, Mongkung and Kesi.
Twenty battalions are involved in this horrendous operation affecting
approximately 100,000 people.

	The forced exodus began in early 1996 when Khun Sa surrendered to the
Rangoon government and peace was declared as restored in Shan State. A part
of Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army, formerly the Shan United Revolutionary Army
(SURA), refused to surrender but instead offered to sign a cease-fire
agreement like other armed groups. However, the offer was spurned the
Burmese military.  It vowed to destroy the SURA and all the people in its
area of operations, mainly in the central Shan States. 

	Since then hundreds of thousands of households from villages have been
moved to relocation centers.  Many women have been raped, many men forced to
"contribute" free labor, and many, including Buddhist monks, have been
killed by soldiers. SURA then joined the SSA and SSNA (Shan cease-fire
groups) on 13 September 1996 to form the Shan State National Organization
(SSNO) and the Shan State Army (SSA) in the hope that SURA's desire for
peace might be recognized. Together they appealed to the SLORC to accept the
SSNO/SSA as non-hostile forces. The SLORC's clear answer was to wage an
all-out military offensive against SURA and the people in its operating
areas. The above indicates that the military is not serious about restoring
peace, and that its real intention is to empty the central region of Shan
State of its inhabitants.

	Many of the people who survived the killings, and unable to make a living
in towns fled to Thailand, the land of their ethnic cousins. In Thailand
they were not recognized as refugees, which is just as well, for they do not
wish to be so either. They wanted to stand on their feet and 
work in order to survive. 

	The overnight downturn of the Thai economy have changed everything.
Forcibly displaced are now faced with a terrible choice: To go back to Shan
State where prosecutions, neglect and starvation await them, or to remain in
Thailand and risk the danger of arrest and forced 

        We therefore appeal to His Majesty King Bhumibhol and the Royal
family, the government of Thailand, the opposition parties, and individuals,
and other governments and international community to seek humanitarian and
practical ways to help thousands upon thousands of families driven off at
gunpoint from their villages and fields.  

	We will be most honoured to cooperate with all individuals, organizations,
and governments in their efforts to resolve the problem of forced
dislocation . We further take this opportunity on New Year day to thank all
those who have done their best to help us so far.

Shan Herald Agency for News

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