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Wa Becoming A Bad Word?:

17 July 1999 

Wa Becoming A Bad Word? 

Until recently, nobody cared very much for Wa, whose territory is in the
northeast corner of Shan States. Those who did in a modest way knew them as
the guys who toppled Burmese communism in 1989 and, later on, as somewhat
good guys who tackled with Khun Sa, then the world's "No. 1" drug lord. 

But when a Thai police general lately made a mistake by announcing that the
"Red Wa group" (popular name for the United Wa State Army) was led by
Mahasang, leader of an anti-communist Wa group (officially the Wa National
Organization) that is currently an ally to the anti-narcotic Shan States
Army and member of the opposition umbrella organizations, namely, the
National Democratic Front, the Democratic Alliance of Burma, and the
National Council of the Union of Burma, it made one start wondering if it
was a warning that the word "Wa" had taken an unfavorable meaning - that
anyone who is of Wa blood is becoming fair game to the happy drug hunters. 

One observer remarked, "In the past, the drugs caught by the Thai
suppression units were almost always publicized as coming from Khun Sa. It
was as though to say otherwise would make one's capture an insignificant
achievement. Now the same thing is happening with the Was". 

Another also agreed. "In the past, it was bad luck to be born a Shan.
Because most of the people's mind, the word was synonymous to Khun Sa, and
consequently to drugs. Nowadays, you're going to be eyed suspiciously for
being a Wa". 

However, this does not mean good news for the Shans, that they are now out
of the plughole. Not by a long shot. Since Wa Territory is in the Shan
States, the chance is that  both of them might still find themselves
swimming home in the same waters. 

It's therefore up to both to decide whether it is better to save their own
skins or work together to free themselves from the same shackles that have
bound them for so long. 

/// END \\\ 

For further information, please contact S.H.A.N. at: 
Shan Herald Agency for News. 
P.O. Box. 15 
Nonghoi P.O., 50007 
Ph/Fax: (053) 807 121
e-mail: <shan@xxxxxxxxxxxx>