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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: July 12, 2000

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

July 12, 2000

Issue # 1574

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:


*Inside Burma












__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


YANGON, July 12 (Reuters) - Myanmar's population stands at 50.13 
million and is growing at around 2.02 percent annually, official 
media reported on Wednesday. 

 ``As far as Myanmar is concerned, we welcome the growing population. 
There is no problem in our country,'' U Saw Tun, minister of 
immigration and population, was quoted as saying. 

 With 45 million acres (18.23 million hectares) of cultivable land, 
of which only 23 million acres are currently under cultivation, food 
security was not an issue in Myanmar, he said. 

 Saw Tun said the country's population density was 74 people per 
square km and added that women made up more than half of the 



Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 8 Jul 00 
Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 8th July

Dear listeners. It has been learned that Maj-Gen Sit Maung [commander 
of Coastal Region Command and chairman of Tenasserim Division Peace 
and Development Council] arrived in Kawthaung in Tenasserim Division 
on 4th July and held talks on matters relating to the dissolution of 
the NLD [National League for Democracy], prevention of subversive 
activities, and prevention of drug abuse control and illicit 
trafficking. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Myint 
Maung Maung filed this report. 

[Myint Maung Maung] The meeting was held at 1300 [local time] on 4th 
July. At the meeting, Maj-Gen Sit Maung gave detailed instructions to 
acquire obligatory service from private coastal passenger vessels and 
road transport enterprise vehicles to transport villagers from along 
the coast and villages respectively so that the attendance at the 
rally to be held in Kawthaung to denounce the NLD would exceed the 
target of over 10,000 people. 

He also urged regional security officials to coordinate and work 
closely with ward administrative personnel and Kyant Phut [derogatory 
term for Union Solidarity and Development Association] members and 
form watchdog groups to monitor monasteries, schools and Kawthaung-
Ranong [Thailand] border crossings in order to prevent anti-
government subversive activities in Kawthaung District.

Furthermore, illicit drug trafficking activities have been rising in 
Tenessarim Division since late 1999 in inland border areas as well as 
offshore. Up to June this year in Kawthaung Township the police have 
arrested people involved in 11 drug-related cases; the army, three 
cases; the navy, one case; and seven cases were by tip-offs from 
locals. At the meeting, Maj-Gen Sit Maung reportedly said the 
increase rather than decrease in drug trafficking shows lack of 
responsibility on the part of responsible personnel.




Information  Sheet
No.B-1435 ( I )                       8th July,2000

    Secretary-2 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Tin 
Oo  delivered an address at the coordination meeting on construction 
of Ye-Dawei-Myeik-Taninthayi-Bokpyin-Kawthoung Road at the meeting 
hall of  Public Works on 7 July. The Secretary-2 said that smooth and 
better transport  is a basic need for development of a region; the 
State, on its part, is  building new roads as well as new bridges to 
ensure better transport.  Taninthayi Division is a region which has 
good opportunities for development;  and smooth and better transport 
will lead to further progress of the  division. Old roads are being 
repaired and new ones constructed for  development of Taninthayi 
Division. Among the new road, arrangements to  upgrade Ye-Dawei-Myeik-
Taninthayi-Bokpyin-Kawthoung motor-road will begin  this open season.

[BurmaNet adds?The Yadana and Yetegun pipelines run between Ye and 
Tavoy [Dawei].  The road from Ye to Tavoy is used in part to provide 
security for the projects..  If this road project is implemented 
using standard procedures, i.e. forced labor, it could lead to more 
public relations headaches for the oil companies involved in the 



Shan State Army
July 10, 2000

On 7th July 2000, a 30-men-strong SSA detachment from Khun Sarng Ton 
Hoong column, led by Maj. Kham Leng, raided a newly built heroin and 
Yaa Baa (amphetamine) refinery at Wan Tark Let, a village situated 
near the Thai-Shan border, opposite of Mae Hong Son province.   
This refinery was under the control of the local commander of the 
SPDC troops and their drug producing partners. In this raid, SSA 
troops captured: 
1. Precursor of Yaa Baa  30 litres
2. Wu Sui (Chinese name, raw material for Yaa Baa) 1 container (6 
gallons) 3. liquid opium 2 containers ( appx. 12 gals.)
4. Saw Sua (Chinese name, raw material for Yaa Baa) 2 containers (12 
gallons) 5. Ether 2 bottles (1 gallon)
6. Yaa Baa 377 tablets.

Besides these chemicals, 3 of the operators were also captured red 
After the raid the instruments and the building were burned to ground.


June 2000

"The land of the Sunset Kings," as the homeland of the Shan was once 
known, is struggling to lift itself out of the shadow of cultural 
by Min Zin

On a hot, dry day in the first week of April 1999, the people of 
Rangoon were witness to a strange sight: Lt Gen Khin Nyunt and other 
leading generals in Burma's ruling military junta climbing to the top 
of the Shwedagon Pagoda wearing traditional baggy Shan trousers. The 
occasion was the hoisting of the ceremonial htidaw (umbrella) on to 
the top of Burma's most famous pagoda. In a country where every 
detail of an auspicious event is loaded with significance, the 
generals' choice of attire was assumed to have some deep meaning. 
Precisely what it meant, however, remained obscure. But for some 
Shans, the message was clear: their homeland, located in the 
northeastern part of what is now Burma, would always play an 
important role in the generals' plans to elevate their own culture 
above all others in the country.  

As Burma's largest ethnic minority, the Shan have always been pivotal 
in determining the direction of the country's destiny. "Shan will 
play a major role in the future of Burma as it was the site of the 
Panglong Agreement," remarked one Shan exile. Signed by ethnic Burman 
and minority leaders on February 12, 1947, the Panglong Agreement was 
intended to serve as the basis of the new federal state that Burma 
was supposed to become upon achieving independence from Britain in 
1948. When independence leader Aung San and other architects of the 
Panglong Agreement were assassinated in July 1947, however, many 
ethnic minorities felt that the spirit of this historic accord had 
also been killed. Since then, they say, Rangoon has set out to 
Burmanize the entire country by eliminating, through military and 
other means, any threatening vestiges of cultural independence in 
predominantly non-Burman areas. 

"When the Chinese conquer, they build moats. When the Burmans 
conquer, they build pagodas," according to one well-known Shan 
proverb. This has never been truer than under the present Burmese 
military regime, which has built many pagodas throughout Shan State 
since seizing power in 1988. Many of them are modeled after the 
famous Shwedagon. But very few local people choose to worship at 
these impressive structures, believing that they serve only as places 
for Burmese troops to perform acts of sorcery in order to achieve the 
complete subjugation of the Shan. Not only are they built in the 
Burmese style, but they are also given Burmese names, such as Maha 
Kanbawza Pyi Nyein Aye Jeti ("Peaceful Shan Land Pagoda").  

Language is an important aspect of cultural identity, and in Shan 
State, the status of the indigenous languageùShan (more closely 
related to Thai than to Burmese)ùis one indication of how well Shan 
culture is faring against pressures to conform to the Burman "norm". 

"Traditionally, Shan Buddhist teachings are in Shan, so I must teach 
our people to read Shan. But I am not able to do this 
freely,"commented one monk in an interview published in a border-
based NGO newsletter. He explained that Shan monks are required to 
get permission to teach people how to read their own language. Even 
those who do get official authorization are viewed with suspicion as 
possible subversives, he added. 

With Burmese as the only official language in the country, Shan and 
other ethnic minorities cannot survive without it. "Even in Shan 
State, if you can't speak Burmese, it is impossible for you to travel 
around and do business," said Khan Chuen, a young Shan artist now 
living in Thailand.  

Many younger Shans living in the Burman heartland have thoroughly 
transformed themselves to fit into the dominant culture. Although 
this can be seen as part of a natural process of acculturation, in 
Burma it must also be understood in the context of a political 
program of forced assimilation, say experts. "In fact, ethnicity is 
plastic," notes Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, a well-known Shan scholar based 
in Canada. "Ethnicity is not in the blood or `inside' a person. It is 
when assimilation is forced and/or demanded that it becomes a 

Seng Junt of the Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) says that Shan-
language illiteracy is becoming a growing problem inside Burma. "Many 
young Shans inside Burma who are younger than 30 cannot read standard 
written Shan. I think that only 60% of Shan can understand our Shan-
language newsletter." Others have noted, however, that non-political 
works published in the Shan language, including magazines, novels, 
short stories and cartoon collections, can still occasionally pass 
the military regime's censors. 

This relaxation of restrictions is apparently a response to the 
demands of Shan ceasefire groups seeking to preserve and promote the 
Shan language and culture. "Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and the MIS (Military 
Intelligence Service) camp have promised permission (to teach the 
Shan language)," says Khun Kya Nu, a former Shan resistance leader 
who now lives in Thailand. "But then local battalion officers step in 
and cancel everything." 

Even more damaging to the Shan culture is the forced relocation of 
large parts of the population. The center of village life in rural 
Shan State is the temple, reflected in the traditional Shan 
saying, "Where there is a village, there must be a temple and monks." 
Relocated villagers are forced not only to abandon their homes and 
fields, but also their monastic communities. "It is like destroying 
the soul of our people," said the Shan monk interviewed in the NGO 
newsletter. Burmese troops also loot temples of their Buddha images 
and burn ancient texts, said the monk. Soldiers have also been known 
to kill monks suspected of supporting Shan resistance groups. 

Unable to work or earn a living, many Shan turn to drugs and 
gambling. "Because of drugs and gambling, the morale and morality of 
our Shan people have been seriously damaged," says Khan Chuen, the 
Shan artist. "In Muang Pan, the southern Shan relocation site where I 
used to live, drugs and gambling ruined the lives of many young 
Dire poverty and oppressive treatment at the hands of Burmese 
soldiers have driven many Shans into exile in neighboring Thailand, 
where their ability to preserve their way of life is also severely 
limited. "Migration has a tremendous impact on Shan culture. They are 
all illegal in Thailand and cannot practice their customs, traditions 
and culture here," says NGO worker Pippa Curwen, who has been 
assisting Shan migrants for years.  

Even in their homeland, the Shan are made to feel like strangers. 
Familiar place names such as Yawnghwe, Pang Tara, Kengtung, Hsipaw 
and Mong Hsube have been Burmanized and rendered unintelligible as 
Nyaungshwe, Pindaya, Kyaingtawng, Thibaw and Maing Shu. "The original 
names have meanings in our Shan language. But in the new Burmanized 
version of the same name, there is no meaning at all," says former 
resistance leader Khun Kya Nu. 

Last year, the Burmese regime`s regional commander for Shan State 
gave an order to all of the regiments and battalions under his 
command to destroy every signboard bearing village names written in 
the Shan script in their respective areas of control. "They are 
trying to create an entirely new nation which they call Myanmar," 
observed one journalist who has been covering Burma for many years. 

The most spectacular display of the regime's disdain for Shan culture 
came in 1991, when the old royal palace in Kengtung was destroyed 
against the protests of local abbots and others who wished to 
preserve this important structure, which had figured prominently in 
modern Shan history. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the 
Kengtung Palace had served as the administrative center of the 
largest and most powerful of 33 former Shan principalities until the 
Shan Sawbwas (Chaofa in Shan) relinquished all their power in 1959 
and it became the property of the elected Shan State government. It 
was blown up in 1991 to make way for a new five-star hotel.  

To add insult to injury, huge pieces of timber from the demolished 
palace were used to build a school for the children of army staff, 
and the stone rubble was scattered on th
e roads around the military base in Kengtung. "It was a blatant 
debasement of the Shan's valued heritage," commented NGO worker Pippa 
Curwen in an article published in Bangkok-based newspaper The Nation. 

The regime's habit of spending huge sums of money to rebuild or 
renovate structures that point to Burma's past glory, such as the 
palace of the Burmese King Thibaw at Mandalay and the ancient palace 
of King Bayinnaung in Pegu, is another source of Shan anger. 
Independence, a Shan resistance newspaper, reflected this resentment 
in an article that ran under the headline, 

"Swallowing Our History, and Resurrecting Theirs." 

Ironically, the regime's exercises in cultural self-aggrandizement 
have met with little appreciation even amongst the country's Burman 

"I don't think Burmans see the rebuilding of their ancient palaces 
and the repairing of Pagan, or even the renovation of the Shwedagon 
Pagoda, as the regime's great effort to preserve and promote Burmese 
culture and history," said one Rangoon-based writer and publisher who 
is also an authority on Burmese culture. "We Burmans also have lost 
much of our historicity and culture. Here we encounter cultural 
destruction as well," he added, referring to the regime's efforts to 
construct a spurious historical basis for its claims to power.  

"In fact, ethnicity and the issue of ethnic identity should be 
treated as non-political," argues Chao Tzang Yawnghwe. "A real 
nation, a workable one, is a nation that is ethnic-indifferent or 
ethnic-neutral. If one accepts this idea of a nation, there will then 
be no need at all to destroy ethnic identities." 

The "Land of the Sunset Kings," as the Burmese once called the 
homeland of the Shan, has long suffered under the despotism of rulers 
who sought to outshine their neighbors with their own empty claims to 
glory, only to plunge themselves and all around them into an 
oppressive darkness. Only when a new vision of nationhood, one that 
recognizes and accepts the intrinsic worth of every culture, finally 
prevails in Burma will the true greatness of the country be 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


BANGKOK, July 12 (AFP) - The first batches of cheap ecstasy produced 
by drug warlords inside Myanmar have hit Bangkok's streets, a report 
said Tuesday after police seized 1,000 of the new pills. 

 Three teenagers caught selling the drug at city nightspots confessed 
they had bought the pills from a dealer connected to the feared 
United Wa State Army, police officials told the Bangkok Post. 

 A Thai narcotics control source told AFP late last month Wa rebels, 
the most powerful of several ethnic militant groups fighting the 
Myanmar junta, were about to diversify into the new drug. 
 The Wa are accused of being one of the world's main producers of 
heroin, and the biggest manufacturer of methamphetamine pills, 600 
million of which flooded into Thailand last year. 
 But they were forced to expand their range after being stung by Thai 
military strikes against their opium poppy plantations and offensives 
to stamp out their jungle amphetamine labs, the source said. 

 Police who interrogated the three teenagers said they were hunting 
for the drug gang which supplied the batch of pills, the report said. 

 Deputy commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, Inthadej 
Pornpeeraphan, said the seized pills were distinct from those 
smuggled in from the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, where most 
ecstasy is made. 

 And at 50 baht (1.25 dollars) instead of the normal price of 800 
baht (20 dollars) charged in Bangkok's upscale nightclubs, they were 
significantly cheaper. 

 "He was concerned the Wa Army's drugs would spread among Thais 
because they were far cheaper than those from Europe," the Post said. 

 The report did not say whether the drugs had been analysed but 
quoted Inthadej as saying the seizure was proof the Wa Army was able 
to produce pills of the same quality as those produced in European 

 The Thai military source said last month that the cost-cutting, 
designed to capture as wide a market as possible in Thailand, could 
result in a pill that was must more poisonous than pure ecstasy. 

 "Hundred percent pure ecstasy is not so harmful but these pills will 
not be pure and could be very dangerous," said the expert, who is 
familiar with Thailand's anti-drugs program on the northern border. 

 The poor quality, however, is expected to largely prevent the Wa 
from trafficking their ecstasy into third countries, he said. 

 Instead they would move it into Thailand along effective new 
smuggling routes, using aircraft and boats to minimise losses caused 
by the rough overland road network. 

 Amphetamines, known in Thailand as "ya baa" or "crazy drug" for 
their effects, are by far Thailand's biggest drug problem, and 
regarded as its top national security threat. 

 But ecstasy is fast catching on -- authorities seized 24,205 tablets 
last year, up from 4,517 tablets in 1998. 



WEDNESDAY, July 12, 2000 

Police have arrested a prominent ChiangMai resident and charged him 
with arms smuggling. The case of Payungsak Yodbangtoey is especially 
important since it may involve selling arms to Burmese rebels. This 
prosecution must be dealt with promptly and openly. 
Police and prosecutors must have a single goal in the case of 
Payungsak Yodbangtoey. Their duty is to hold an investigation that is 
completely honest and above-board. Not only that, but the inquiry 
must be totally transparent. The public must see there is no question 
about the prosecution of Mr Payungsak. This case is a litmus test of 
the government and of Thai security authorities. 
Mr Payungsak is well-known in Chiang Mai. His reputation stems 8 
mainly from the reputation of his younger brother. Maj-Gen Intharat 
Yodbangtoey is, to understate the case, influential in the North, 
particularly in Chiang Mai province. He is a senator-elect. Maj-Gen 
Intharat also has been named in literally hundreds of press reports 
about politics in Chiang Mai, including some involving shady deals. 

The case his brother faces makes all of Maj-Gen Intharat's alleged 
associations pale. Police arrested him in Chiang Mai, and properly 
transported him immediately to Bangkok, on charges of dealing in 
illegal weapons. Initial charges allege Mr Payungsak can help police 
investigate the attempted theft of M-16 rifles and ammunition from 
the Police Ordnance Division. Detectives also are looking into other 
unsolved arms thefts and suspected arms sales. 

Police also have arrested five active and retired police and military 
men, and five hilltribesmen in the case. They allege the 11 men are 
part of a broad, and continuing, effort to steal and smuggle arms to 
Burma. Of course, all are assumed to be innocent until a court rules 
otherwise. All have, properly, been denied bail at least until their 
next court hearing early next week. 

Two items set this case apart from normal arms smuggling 
investigations. The first is Mr Payungsak. One of his first actions 
after his arrest was to call his influential younger brother. To his 
credit Maj-Gen Intharat promised publicly to stay clear of the case.  
Police and prosecutors should make sure that promise is  kept, and  
inform the public if it is not. Arms smugglers cannot be allowed to 
use  influence, of any kind, to escape exposure or justice. 

The second and even more troubling problem is the allegation that the 
arms in this case were to be sold to Shan rebels. The Shan State Army 
has long and infamous links to the opium and heroin trade, in Burma 
and Thailand. Its recent leader was Khun Sa, the international heroin 
drug lord now being protected by Rangoon. 

Initial inquiries also show that Mr Payungsak has business dealings 
with the United Wa State Army. The UWSA makes and sells the 
methamphetamines and other drugs corrupting Thailand and ruining I 
our youth. Police say Mr Payungsak has helped building projects for 
the drug dealers. This is legal, but hardly admirable, behaviour. 

These two conditions make the Payungsak case one of the most 
important in recent years. Police are well aware of this. National 
police | commissioner Pol Gen Pornsak Durongkawiboon has promised to 
investigate, and prosecute, with neither fear nor favour. Bangkok 
chief Pol Lt-Gen Wannarat Kotcharak, in charge of the weapons theft 
case, has put his highest assistant on the case. 

Prosecutors and the government must match the determination of the 
police in this case. The stench of possible political influence is 
strong. The senior-most authorities-Premier Chuan and Interior 
Minister Banyat must make it clear they expect an honest police 
investigation. The prosecutors must not be sidetracked by any hint of 
outside influence in this case. 
Let's be clear. This is a watershed arrest. Police say the evidence 
against Mr Payungsak is compelling. So it must be investigated and 
taken to court. The investigation must be transparent. There must be 
no hint of outside influence. It is well known that high ranking and 
influential Thais have helped build the corrupt drug trafficking from 
Burma. No such corrupt person must be allowed to escape justice. 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________


July 11, 2000 Tuesday 


     A U.S. judge will decide within four to six weeks whether a 
lawsuit, claiming energy group Unocal Corp has been complicit in 
human rights abuses in Myanmar, will be allowed to proceed in federal 
court, according to a Unocal spokesman. 

The Unocal spokesman said federal judge Richard Lew is reviewing the 
evidence under submission and that a written decision is likely to be 
released within the next four to six weeks. 

Analysts are not scrutinising the case too closely at this stage, but 
they said they are keeping an eye on developments. 

"We pay attention, Unocal has good relations with its workers, but 
they are in a difficult situation," said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at 
Fahnestock & Company, adding that Unocal are not responsible for the 
actions of Myanmar's military government. 

Fahnestock & Company have a 'buy' recommendation on Unocal stock.   
Mark Fisher, an analyst at Banc of America Securities, said Unocal 
watchers are more focused on the outcome of its reformulated gasoline 
patent and the potential for fresh exploration success in the Gulf of 
Mexico and Indonesia. 

"In the Gulf of Mexico, they (Unocal) have just taken delivery of a 
new deepwater rig, and they have some exciting prospects there," said 

Banc of America also has a 'buy' recommendation on Unocal, a fair 
value price target of 40.00 usd a share and a high end value of 47.00 
usd a share.   A coalition of groups including Washington-based 
EarthRights International is seeking millions of dollars in 
compensation from Unocal for people it says were assaulted and used 
as forced labor on the 1.2 bln usd Yadana gas pipeline in Myanmar. 

The Myanmar military government, through the Myanmar state oil 
company, holds a 15 pct stake in the pipeline which is operated by 
France's TotalFinaElf. 

Shares in Unocal closed at 32-7/8 on the New York Stock Exchange, up 
1/2 compared with Friday's close. 

[BurmaNet adds: Financial analysts for investment banks (see above) 
are notoriously unreliable with respect to the firms they analyze 
because of a built in conflict of interest.  Investment banks arrange 
capital issues for firms.  Firms hire investment banks to handle 
capital issue in part depending on whether the bank's analysts say 
nice things about them.  Not surprisingly, 90% of all ratings issued 
by analysts are  "Buy,."  9% of recommendations are "Hold" and a mere 
1% are "Sell."  Of the 22 firms covering Unocal, 9 currently rate it 
a Strong Buy, 8 rate it a Moderate Buy and 5 rate it a Hold Due to 
systematic grade inflation, Holds are generally considered tantamount 
to a Sell recommendation. For more on Unocal and the market, go to: 




[BANGKOK] The Petroleum Authority of Thailand is in talks with 
Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional (Petronas) on a 10 billion baht (S$435 
million) gas separation joint venture plant in Myanmar, Prasert 
Bunsumpan, president of PTT's gas unit, said yesterday. He said the 
plant would produce liquefied petroleum gas from natural gas and 
other hydrocarbons from the Yetagun field in the Andaman Sea off 



July 11, 2000 

    By Doug Bandow 

It wasn't much by Western standards: a clearing in the dense foliage 
with a
half-dozen wood and bamboo buildings covered by thatched roofs. A 
short walk along the dirt path led to more houses, sitting on stilts 
and open to rain, animals and mosquitoes. There was also a small 
clinic, constructed with American aid. Dense, green jungle covered 
the Burmese hills that marched beyond. But 243 people, belonging to 
the Burma Karen ethnic group, called Law Thi Hta home until earlier 
this year, when the dictatorship styling itself the State Peace and 
Development Council (SPDC) displaced them, as it had done to 
thousands of other Karen over the last couple of decades. I visited 
the village in February, not long before its destruction. Electricity 
was unknown in the village, with the only running water located in 
the river. Its hospital, Freedom Hospital No. 1, as the American 
relief group Christian Freedom International called it, looked 
nothing like a real hospital.

Wooden platforms served as beds, operations were performed on bamboo 
tables and modern equipment was absent. Still, CFI head Jim Jacobson 
could take pride in his organization's work there. His clinic served 
children suffering from potentially deadly diarrhea, adults with 
typhoid and anyone who had stepped on a land mine. International 
attention to Burma has focused in recent years on Aung San Suu Kyi 
and her urban-based democracy movement. But the more serious threat 
to the ruling junta comes from the Karen and other ethnic groups, 
which have been fighting for greater autonomy since 1949. The SPDC 
maintains numerous bases in eastern Burma, also known as Myanmar, and 
periodically strikes at villages suspected of harboring rebels. It 
conscripts civilians as porters, women as well as men. Its hungry 
soldiers take villagers' crops and livestock. Refugees also report 
frequent beatings, rapes and murders. SPDC troops arrived at Law Thi 
Hta and Freedom Hospital No. 1 shortly after my visit. They burned 
the clinic and other buildings and sowed the area with land mines to 
prevent the residents from returning. The war has generated a million 
internally displaced persons and 200,000 refugees in Bangladesh, 
China, India and Thailand. 

How to end this grisly conflict? Western sanctions have failed, 
except in pushing Burma closer to China. A better alternative is a 
mix of diplomatic pressure, which can most effectively be applied by 
Japan, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and 
economic engagement from private individuals and organizations. 
Broader contact with the West might strengthen internal democratic 
forces. The West's most important role may be to help the Karen and 
other ethnic peoples cope with the SPDC's brutality. That largely 
means private assistance, since neither the U.N. nor Western 
governments will work in Burma against SPDC's express wishes. CFI is 
currently supporting six "freedom hospitals" in eastern Burma, which 
typically treat about 600 Karen a month, and will be constructing new 
facilities to replace ones destroyed earlier this year. It regularly 
sends teams of CFI-trained medics into the territory for up to four 
months at a time to provide basic medical care and distribute drugs, 
food, Bibles and hymnals.

 Moreover, a strong faith gives CFI a charitable zeal and flexibility 
that government agencies and other private groups lack. "What is 
making the SPDC so upset is that we change lives," Jacobson 
explained. He can also offer practical advice on treating such 
ailments as pervasive diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, measles, 
tuberculosis, typhoid and utero-infections - problems that reflect 
the lack of minimal sanitation. First, "We're going to try to get 
them to dig latrines," he says, and then to "pen up the animals." 
Such a message seems mundane in the larger geopolitical scheme, but 
it means lives saved in Burma. The Karens' only hope lies in groups 
like CFI, which can help to clean up the resulting carnage until an 
enduring political solution is found. 

Doug Bandow is a
Cato Institute Senior Fellow. 



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