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______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

June 11, 2000

Issue # 1551

*Inside Burma














__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


  The junta fails to dent opposition popularity
  Thirty-eight members of the opposition National League for 
Democracy in Sagaing, near   Mandalay, had resigned "because they no 
longer wish to participate in the NLD's party politics."   So said 
Myanmar's ruling junta last week. In fact, such reports appear on a 
daily basis. Party   members claim they are pressured to quit and 
that many succumb. "They are afraid of   repercussions," says 
Mandalay-based party official Ko Kyi. "The military wants to destroy 
the   NLD." 
  The attempt may be backfiring. Despite the relentless crackdown, 
the NLD, led by Nobel Peace   laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, retains its 
nationwide popularity. In historic Sagaing, where the party   has 
endured severe harassment, local sentiment is firmly supportive. Near 
the town's central   market is a gold-embossed statue of Aung San, 
the nation's Independence hero and Suu Kyi's   father. "He was a 
great man," says the elderly custodian of a local temple. "I think 
that his   daughter is the same." The NLD, as Suu Kyi told Asiaweek 
last year, "is smaller now because a   lot of our members have been 
forced to resign or put into prison. But it's tougher and more 
tightly knit."   
  In May 1990, the party won 392 seats out of the 485 contested in 
Myanmar's first democratic   elections since military rule began 30 
years earlier. But the generals ceded it no role in running the   
country, let alone allowing it to form a government. The people, 
however, have not forgotten that   result, and few doubt that the NLD 
would repeat it if another poll were held. The military, of   course, 
disagrees. "People are fed up with the NLD because it doesn't help 
them," says   spokesman Col. Hla Min. "Opposing foreign aid and 
investment, opposing tourism -- it's like   breaking the rice bowl of 
the man on the street." Yet last week, when the NLD held a mass   
gathering at its Yangon headquarters to commemorate the 10th 
anniversary of its election victory,   many citizens showed up 
despite preventive barriers. 
  The regime denies it is cracking down on the party or forcing 
members to quit. "We don't need to   crack down on the NLD, because 
they are already cracked," says deputy national planning   minister 
Brig.-Gen. Zaw Tun. Ironically, the military's bullying tactics have 
reinforced the party's   strength. "The daily newspaper stories about 
dozens of NLD members resigning makes it seem   like there must be 
millions in the party," says a Yangon-based diplomat. "That's not 
only stupid, it's   counterproductive." But the generals believe that 
the strategy lets the populace -- and party   colleagues -- know that 
Suu Kyi's followers are on a downward slope.   
  For most Myanmar people, the key point is that the NLD offers an 
alternative to the regime --   which they regard as having ruined 
their resource-rich country by mismanagement. The party will   retain 
its appeal as long as the military administration pursues inept 
economic policies and the   NLD has Suu Kyi. The impact of "Aung San" 
in her name is impossible to overestimate. Even the   government, 
while it has removed her father's image from banknotes, routinely 
pays homage to   him in official announcements. 
  Over the past decade, Suu Kyi has undoubtedly proved that she is 
more than just her father's   daughter. She has developed into a 
consummate and courageous politician, who can sway   multitudes as 
few other Asian leaders can. "At NLD meetings, the others on the 
central committee   all read from texts and we fall asleep," notes a 
diplomat. "When Suu Kyi speaks, it's always   impromptu and we all 
listen. What she says, that's it."
  Another reason behind the enduring support for Suu Kyi and her 
party: There is no alternative.   The other political parties have 
such low profiles that even government officials have trouble   
naming them. For its part, the regime denies that it lacks public 
support. "Some people say they   don't like the army, but the people 
are not suffering as they did in the socialist time [under former   
strongman Ne Win]," says Zaw Tun. "We are satisfying the people." Suu 
Kyi counters that it is the   suffering brought about by the junta's 
misguided economic policies "which have swung so much   support in 
our favor over the last couple of years."
  Could that backing galvanize the long-suffering population into 
action? "I don't sense it," says a   Western diplomat in Yangon. "The 
NLD has called on the people to support it. They said the   
[election] anniversary would be a defining moment. Expatriate groups 
called on the people to take   action. But nothing happened." So what 
next? The diplomat throws up his arms. "I don't know," he   
admits. "Does the NLD sit back and hope the economy self-destructs? 
Do they hope the military   will split?" Many observers yearn for a 
compromise to bring relief to the people. There is hope that   new 
United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail, who will go to Myanmar 
this month to speak with   both sides, might make progress. As NLD 
chairman Aung Shwe said recently: "We have to have   give-and-take." 
Yet both sides will clearly hang tough.    
  "The future will be very difficult and uncertain for us," says NLD 
division secretary Kan Tun in   Mandalay. "But Suu Kyi is still 
strong and popular nationwide. We think the NLD will come to   power 
in 10 years." That is an eternity in politics. For the good of 
Myanmar, many are hoping that   a resolution will come a lot sooner.
  ASIAWEEK (16 June 2000)



Story Filed: Sunday, June 11, 2000 4:11

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Twin 12-year-old boys from Myanmar who 
command a rebel group called God's Army have temporarily laid down 
their arms and are devoting themselves full-time to Christianity, a 
Thai newspaper reported Sunday. 

The Bangkok Post reported that Johnny and Luther Htoo, whose 
followers believe they have magical powers, are now living in a 
Christian ethnic Karen village in Myanmar about 20 miles from the 
Thai border. It said they have shaved their heads to try to avoid 
being recognized and traded in their uniforms for traditional Karen 

But Luther was quoted by the newspaper as vowing to continue the 
struggle against the military government of Myanmar, also called 
``I clearly remember how Burmese soldiers killed my men and pregnant 
women,'' he said. ``I will seek revenge.'' 

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962. The Karen minority 
has been fighting for more autonomy since 1949, but has been losing 
ground steadily over the past decade. 

The Htoo brothers are the leaders of God's Army, an armed group of 
ethnic Karen. They have been on the run since late January, when 
their headquarters at Ka Mar Pa Law, just across the border from 
Thailand, fell to Myanmar government forces. 

God's Army achieve notoriety when it allegedly took part in seizing a 
hospital and hundreds of patients in western Thailand on January 24. 
Another fringe insurgent group called the Vigorous Burmese Student 
Warriors also took part in the raid, authorities said. Thai 
commandoes stormed the hospital the next day, killing all 10 hostage-
God's Army was believed to have 100 to 200 men and boys under arms 
before it lost its base. Afterward, Johnny and Luther fled with 10 
armed rebels and stayed in a Thai village for a week, hidden from 
Thai and Myanmar authorities who were searching for them. 

The boys, like many Karen, are fundamentalist Christians. They are 
said to have promised the headman in the village where they are 
staying that they will lay down their weapons and devote themselves 
to Christianity while they are there. 



June 11, 2000


Disarmed and in hiding in Burma

Preecha Srisathan 

The warrior twin child leaders of God's Army have temporarily laid 
down their arms and taken refuge in a remote Burmese village opposite 

Twelve-year-old Johnny and Luther Htoo are living in a Karen 
Christian village about 35km from the Thai border, roughly opposite 
tambon Bong Ti in Kanchanaburi's Saiyok district,

The community is led by a 70-year-old man, who at first refused to 
discuss the boys' out of concern for retribution if their presence 
became public knowledge, but relented on the condition no photographs 
were taken.

The twins, spiritual commanders of the Christian Karen guerrilla 
group, went into hiding after their jungle base in Kamaplaw, opposite 
Ratchaburi's Suan Phueng district, was overrun by Burmese troops. 
They had their heads shaved to conceal their identity and then 
promised the village headman to lay down their arms and devote 
themselves to Christianity during their stay in the village.

But Luther cannot get revenge out of his mind. "I clearly remember 
how Burmese soldiers killed my men, and pregnant women. I will seek 
revenge," he said, speaking through a Karen translator.

Burmese forces launched heavy assaults on anti-Rangoon groups in the 
wake of the occupation of Ratchaburi hospital earlier this year by 
ethnic gunmen said to be God's Army members.

They held doctors, staff and patients hostage for 22 hours before 
Thai security forces stormed the building and killed all 10 
After assessing the situation, Luther and his twin brother fled 
Kamaplaw, along with 10 other armed rebels, including a student known 
as Johnny who took part in the Burmese embassy occupation in Bangkok 
last October.

Luther said he did not know about the fate of other Karen fighters, 
only that they could not flee into Thailand because of the extra-
tight security.

His team kept close to the border as they headed north. He said they 
parted from Johnny, who was wounded in the leg, at a rebel base and 
had not heard from him since.

Luther and his people eventually crossed into Thailand and stayed for 
a week at a church in Ban Bong Ti, where he had his head shaved. 
In this Christian village the boys, who hold the rank of colonel, 
gave up their weapons and uniforms and changed into traditional Karen 

Throughout the interview, Luther talked while Johnny remained silent. 
The twins are respected by Karen fighters as spiritual commanders 
because they are different-they have black tongues which they said 
indicates they are children of God.

Before going to war, the fighters pay their respects to the boys in a 
spiritual ceremony and receive blessings for good luck and victory.



June 9, 2000

In the evening of 16th May 2000, from 22:00 to 22:30 hrs., Sgt. Sai 
Oong, 164th Battalion of Sur Kharn Fah Column raided the enemy camp 
at Nam Lan, Hsipaw township. The 7-men hit team was led by Cpl. Ar 
Law Ka. In this raid the casualities of the enemy were not known 
while all of our men were safe. Later on 19th May 2000, news was 
heard that at least one enemy soldier was killed in this skirmish.  

In the morning of 17th May 2000, at 03:00 hrs., Lt. Noom Mong and 2nd 
Lt. Hsaw Na led men from 757th Brigade to make a raid on the enemy 
camp of Hai Phak, Mong Nai township. The casualities of the enemy 
were not known while our men were safe.  

On the 17th May 2000, SSA men made a routine check on the highway 
between Kho Lam and Nam Sarng township.A skirmish occured when they 
met with an enemy patrol from Khart Lua (Nam Sarng township). The 
losses of the enemy were 2 wounded, and our men were intact. 
On 23rd May 2000, at 11:30 hrs., a battle was fought when when our 
men from 757th brigade led by 2nd Lt. Sai Mart met with enemy troops 
east of Kharm Look Maurk Khai, Loi La tract, Mong Nai township. The 
casualities of the enemy were unknown while our men intact. 

On 28th May 2000, our men from 757th Brigade led by Maj. Naw Serk had 
a battle with enemy troops whom they met near Loi Kherme, Mong Nai 
township. The casualities of the enemy were not known while our men 
were intact. 		

On the 30th May 2000, a battle was fought when SPDC troops pursued 
SSA men from 150th battalion led by Lt. Maung Na at a place between 
Parng Kae Tu and Kesi town. In this battle the enemy lost in 3 dead 
and 7 wounded. SSA men were all safe. 

On 31st May 2000, at about noon, a battle was fought when men from 
SSAÆs 156th battalion, 758th brigade, led by Lt. Sai Sarm made a 
crossing on the highway between Parng Kae Tu and Kesi township. 
Although they did not intend to fight a battle they were met by SPDC 
troops from 514th IB of Murng Kerng and our troops had to fight back. 
In this battle the enemy lost 11 dead and 8 wounded. Among the dead 
were one major, one lieutenant, one sergeant and one corporal. SSA 
lost 2 wounded including Lt. Sai Sarm himself, while protecting his 
own men. 

SSA News 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


June 11, 2000

HONG KONG (AP) _ Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa drew criticism from a 
local human rights group for meeting a senior Myanmar official 

 A government statement said Tung met with Gen. Maung Aye, Deputy 
Chairman of Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council, during the 
general's stopover in Hong Kong following a visit to mainland China. 

 Tung briefed Maung Aye on the latest developments in Hong Kong, 
including the progress of the territory's economic recovery following 
the Asian financial crisis, the statement said. 

 Law Yuk-kai, director of the local Human Rights Monitor, described 
the meeting as shameful. 

 He told Radio Hong Kong it was unacceptable for Tung to give a high-
level reception to an official of what he called a repressive regime. 

 The council has held power since replacing an earlier military 
regime in 1988 and crushing anti-government riots. It has refused to 
hold a dialogue with the National League for Democracy led by Aung 
San Suu Kyi, the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. 



June 10, 2000

The army has never accused Burma of producing narcotics as alleged by 
a junta newspaper, according to Gen Surayud Chulanont. Gen Surayud 
said the army had never mentioned Burma as a drug or methamphetamine 
producer but had said drugs were being smuggled into Thailand from 
neighbouring countries.
"Do not force me to have a fight with Burma," said Gen Surayud, 
responding to a commentary in which the New Light of Myanmar pointed 
the finger at authorities and respected figures in the Thai 

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________


Saturday, June 10, 2000 9:22 AM EST 

Tokyo, Jun 10, 2000 (EFE via COMTEX) -- Japan will break with 
policies adopted by the United States and the European Union (EU) by 
holding a joint economic cooperation forum with Myanmar, the Nihon 
Keizai newspaper reported Saturday. 

Representatives of the private sector from both countries will meet 
in Yangon in late June to discuss ways of implementing structural 
reform in the former Burma. 

The United States and the EU have withdrawn investments and leveled 
sanctions on Myanmar's military government because of its repression 
of political opposition and systematic violation of human rights.  
Japanese Foreign officials told the newspaper that, despite the 
meeting, Japan would not immediately increase its development aid to 
Japan - host of the July 21-23 meeting of the heads of state of the G-
8, the seven most industrialized nations plus Russia - is the first 
in the group to open dialogue with Myanmar's military government and 
its leader, Than Shwe. 

A military junta seized power in Myanmar in 1988 and in 1990 ignored 
a decisive victory at the polls by the national League for Democracy, 
led by Aung San Suu Kyi. EFE 





The British Museum offers a taste of a lost world, says Sue Arnold 
Sue Arnold

Sunday June 11, 2000
The Observer

When my niece Aye Aye Mo was studying at Mandalay University, she 
asked me shyly if I would like to see her room. It was on the second 
floor of the women's accommodation block, windowless with a concrete 
floor, and just big enough to hold two beds (she shared with a school 
friend) and two narrow bedside tables. Nothing else. Light and air, 
from the central courtyard, filtered in through the 3ft gap between 
the ceiling and the wall that partitioned Aye Aye Mo's room from the 
The only ornament, indeed the only object apart from clothes and 
furniture that I can remember from the visit, was a deep round 
lacquer box, about the size of a biscuit tin, with a pointed lid. 
This was her junk box where she kept make-up, jewellery, wooden hair 
combs and photographs of her family back in the Shan States. 

It was a wonderful box, but then Burmese lacquer work is a wonderful 
craft. Its crimson, yellow and dark green pattern glowed richly in 
that sparse little room, reminding me of all the wealth and warmth 
that was synonymous with Burma and its people in the old days, the 
good days. Musing on this, I visited the new exhibition of Burmese 
lacquer at the British Museum, the first exhibition of any kind to 
come out of Burma since 1850. What makes it so special, apart from 
the magnificent artefacts, is that it provides a rare glimpse of a 
country which, through political isolation, has all but disappeared 
from the world map.  

In the days when tourists did visit Burma - and there were never many 
at the best of times, thanks to the primitive infrastructure, shabby 
hotels and terrible roads - you could guarantee their souvenirs 
included something lacquer. Perhaps it was a le phet jar bought from 
craftsmen in Pagan, or a tiered tiffin carrier from the floating 
market on Inlay Lake, or a last-minute set of coasters from the 
Rangoon airport shop. To visit Burma and come back lacquerless was as 
unthinkable as returning from Spain minus castanets. 

Lacquer, as this exhibition beautifully demonstrates, has been used 
in every facet of Burmese life - domestic, religious, artistic, and 
ceremonial since the twelfth century at least. At its most basic, it 
serves as a protective waterproof heat resistant coating for 
tableware; at its most ornate, painted, polished, gilded and 
mirrored, it decorates royal thrones and Buddhist shrines. Unique 
examples of both, together with ancient manuscripts, magnificently 
carved screens and statuary are all here.  

There is a tourist boycott of Burma now, as its brutal military 
regime keeps the country's elected leader, the Nobel Peace Prize 
winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi, under house arrest. And last month the 
ethical travel pressure group, Tourist Concern, and the Burma 
Campaign UK, launched a boycott of Lonely Planet guides because 
publisher Tony Wheeler refused to withdraw a book on Burma. If you 
are heeding Aung Sang Suu Kyi's heartfelt advice to stay away, until 
democracy is restored, a visit to this small, tranquil, exotic and 
curiously moving exhibition will serve as a satisfying hors d'oeuvre 
for the real banquet ahead.  

* Visions from the Golden Land: Burma and the Art of Lacquer is at 
the British Museum until 13 August. 



11 June 2000


Karen repatriation due in three years

Cheewin Sattha in Mae Hong Son

The United States has voiced support for the province's plan to 
repatriate some 35,000 Karen refugees to Burma in three years, the 
governor of Mae Hong Son said.

Governor Poj U-thana said US representatives who inspected two 
refugee shelters in Muang and Khun Yuam districts last week were 
satisfied with the living conditions of the refugees and agreed to 
the province's repatriation plan.

"They appeared to agree with our plan to send the refugees back home 
in the next three years.

"Anyway, there is still a problem with the UNHCR's move to establish 
its office in Burma.

"It may take some time (for the UNHCR) to contact Burmese 
authorities.  "And Rangoon has not yet agreed to welcome these people 
back to Burma so it will be up to the higher-ups to push for this," 
the governor added.  Currently, all four refugee camps in Muang, Khun 
Yuam, Mae Sariang and Sop Moei districts house a total 35,000 Karen 

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________


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