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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: July 20, 2000

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

July 20, 2000

Issue # 1580

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

*Inside Burma
















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


July 20, 2000

YANGON.  The lawyer of a British man serving 17 years in a Myanmar 
jail for pro-democracy protests said on Thursday his client would 
file a fresh appeal for clemency. 

 It is the second time in two months that James Mawdsley, 27, has 
appealed against his sentence. The first appeal was rejected by the 
Tachileck District Court near the Myanmar-Thai border. 

 Mawdsley's lawyer Kyi Win told Reuters Mawdsley, a human rights 
campaigner, planned to ask the Myanmar High Court in Mandalay on 
Friday to grant his freedom. 

 He did not say on what grounds the appeal would be made. 

 Mawdsley was arrested last August for crossing illegally into 
Myanmar from Thailand to distribute pro-democracy leaflets. 

 The Briton is serving his term in Keng Tung, about 650 km (400 
miles) northeast of the capital Yangon where, according to his family 
in Britain, he has been locked up for most of the day and separated 
from other prisoners. 

 Myanmar's military government tolerates no dissent and has been 
widely criticised for human rights abuses since taking power in 1988 
when it killed thousands who took part in a pro-democracy uprising. 

 The ruling generals ignored the result of the last general election 
in 1990 which the opposition National League for Democracy, led by 
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, won by a landslide. 

 Mawdsley, who had already been arrested twice before for pro-
democracy activities in Myanmar, reportedly staged hunger strikes 
last year and in March to protest against the imprisonment of Myanmar 
rights activists. 
 Myanmar authorities were not available for comment on Thursday. 




July 20, 2000

BANGKOK.   A Myanmar court has sentenced three Chinese nationals to 
more than 15 years in prison for possessing 1.28 kilograms (2.8 
pounds) of heroin, state-run television reported Thursday. 

 The seizures took place by intelligence agents in April at a check-
point between Kyugoke and Pansai, the country's northeastern cities 
bordering China, TV Myanmar said. 

 The officials acted on tip-off from a civilian, and the three 
traffickers were charged under the narcotic drugs and psychotropic 
substances law, the report said. 

 Following their arrest, an X-ray examination showed two men had 
taken a potentially fatal risk by apparently swallowing a number of 
small heroin-filled condom "bars." 

 The authorities found a total of 55 small heroin bars in their 
stomachs after undertaking urgent operations at a local hospital, it 

 The suspects were from China's Sichuan province and were sentenced 
to between 15 and 30 years by a criminal court in northern Myanmar's 
Musae town, the report said. 

 Myanmar is one of the world's largest heroin producers along with 
Afghanistan and is accused of being home to hundreds of narcotics 
factories along its east and northeast border regions. 



July 19, 2000

WEI Xuekang, a commander of the United Wa State Army who is wanted by 
the United States for trafficking narcotics, has bought an 80-per-
cent stake in the Rangoon-based May Flower Bank, a Burmese dissident 
said yesterday.

Wel, 53, bought the stake from one of the bank's founders, Kyaw Win, 
a Burmese-Chinese businessman who has also been labelled by the US as 
a drug 

The May Flower Bank, which has several branches in the Thai border 
areas, is said to be part and parcel of drug facilities and money 
laundering schemes in the region.

Why the bank's stake was transferred to the drug baron is unclear, 
but Kyaw Win once told close associates that the Burmese economy was 
in a shambles and running a business there was too risky Kernsai 
Jaiyen, a secretary of the Shan Democratic Union, said.

Kyaw Win reportedly has close links with Khun Sa, a so-called 
reformed drug lord, but Kernsai, who was Khun Sa's aide until 1996, 
said the drug baron had never mentioned a relationship with Kyaw Win.

Wei, also known as Prasit Chevinnitipanya, has been in the narcotics 
business along the Thai border before Khun Sa surrendered to the 
Burmese junta in 1996. He was arrested in November 1988 in Chiang Mai 
but jumped bail and hid out under the protection of the junta



July 20, 2000

   Myanmar is planning to hold an annual traditional performing arts 
competitions later this year to promote and propagate Myanmar 
traditional music, dance and performing arts as part of its efforts 
to uphold and safeguard the country's cultural heritage against 
influence of the alien culture.

The Eighth Myanmar Traditional Performing Arts Competitions, which 
include drama contest, is to be sponsored by a special committee 
formed by the government, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar 
reported Thursday.

Speaking at a preparatory meeting of the committee here on Wednesday, 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the Myanmar State 
Peace and Development Council, noted that such competitions are 
gaining more and more success every year due to active participation 
of the country's artists.

"Thanks to the competitions, Myanmar traditional culture is spreading 
widely among the youths, especially the students," said Khin Nyunt, 
who is also the patron of the committee for organizing the 

He added that the spirit to cherish and safeguard traditions and 
culture, the love for the nation and union spirit are flourishing 
more in the minds of nowadays' Myanmar youths, pointing out that the 
number of them is on the rise in studying classical songs.

He told the meeting that starting from this year, the government will 
send expert teams from the central level to respective states and 
divisions to give training to artists of those regions which have not 
fully taken part in the competitions.

He called on the Ministry of Information to make greater efforts to 
ensure effectiveness in assigning artists duties to revitalize folk 
songs, stressing that the songs of the national people should also be 

He emphasized the need to broadly study the international music to 
systematically adopt its suitable portions in uplifting Myanmar 
traditional culture, calling for extende conduct of international 
music note courses to enable Myanmar artists to be well versed in 
international music.

In the seventh Myanmar traditional performing arts competitions held 
in October last year, a total of 2,525 contestants took part.

Myanmar has held the competitions annually since 1993.



July 20, 2000.

Chumphon-Two Burmese men have been sentenced to death by the Criminal 
Court for a series of crimes that culminated in five murders.

The former Mon soldiers, identified as Chai and Mai, used M-16 
assault rifles to kill five Burmese workers and a Thai identified as 
Sathien Polsena, in Tha Sae district on June 10.

Before the murders, the men raped some of the victims and robbed 
them. They fled the scene but were captured three days later. 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


July 20, 2000 

BANGKOK.  PRIME Minister Chuan Leekpai did not mince his words on 
Wednesday when he appealed to Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao for 
Beijing's support in combating the drug trade along the Thai-Burmese 
border. In stating Thailand's concerns over the issue, Chuan has 
finally brought into the open just how deeply worried the country is. 
For years, drug smuggling by minority groups in Burma has been 
cutting a swathe through Thai society and it is easily the most 
serious and daunting issue facing the country. 

Hu, who visited Burma before coming to Thailand, said drug 
trafficking is a grave threat to regional security. China has offered 
Burma assistance in planting sugar cane as a crop substitute for 

Thailand and China share a common drug problem because they both have 
borders with Burma. Most of the drugs that come out of Burma go 
through these two countries and out into the world. Of late, the drug 
trafficking route that cuts across southern China has become very 
popular. But herein lies the rub: China is the Burmese junta leaders' 
best friend. 

The relocation of the Wa minority under the control of the United Wa 
Army from the Burmese-Chinese border down south towards the Thai-
Burmese border shows the depth of Rangoon's intimacy with Beijing. 
While Rangoon wants to appease Beijing, it has no hesitation in 
continuing to challenge Bangkok, repeatedly failing to pay due 
respect to its concern over cross-border trafficking. In the past 
several years, the Burmese junta leaders have successfully 
used "divide and rule" tactics with their numerous minorities. Now, 
it is using the armed Wa as a bargaining chip with Thailand. 

Therefore, Chuan's discussion with Hu underlines the long-term 
implications of the drug trade on the otherwise excellent Thai-
Chinese relations. Thailand would like to see China play a proactive 
role in helping to stem drug smuggling along its borders with Burma, 
especially of the methamphetamine tablets produced by the Wa 
minority. Millions of these tablets are floating around Thailand and 
being consumed in increasing quantities by the young. 

It's no secret that China enjoys the most collaborative relationship 
of any country with the military junta in Rangoon, which has been 
relying heavily on Beijing's generous military and economic aid 
(Beijing-Rangoon military ties have already become a regional 
concern). So Chuan's appeal to Hu - the first by Thailand at this 
level - is a serious one. Deputy Foreign Minister MR Sukhumbhand 
Paribatra is scheduled to visit Kunming soon to discuss drug issues 
with the Chinese authorities. 

If this problem is to be solved, Thailand and China must cooperate 
with one another. One area is to share intelligence information so 
that anti-narcotic suppression operations can be carried out more 
effectively. Such cooperation will also strengthen both countries and 
show their sincerity toward each other. If possible, there should 
tripartite cooperation between the two countries and the US Drug 
Enforcement Agency, which has been closely monitoring the drug 
situation in the region. This would constitute a new effort that 
would bring in concerned parties to tackle this problem together. 

With the armed Wa minority operating so close to the Thai border, 
Burma has become a factor in Thai-Chinese relations as never before. 
Bangkok and Beijing are currently celebrating 25 years of diplomatic 
relations. Both countries have navigated this relationship well, 
leaving drugs - and the Mekong cooperation project - untouched. But 
given the insidiousness of trafficking, it can no longer remain that 
way. China must not let Burma play it off against Thailand over the 
drugs issue. Similarly, China can no longer afford the luxury of 
indulging in a policy of ambivalence or non-interference. 



July 19, 2000

By Wassana Nanuam 

The Red Wa's road construction project along the northern Thai-
Burmese border will pose a security threat to Thailand since it will 
facilitate drug trafficking and Burmese military deployments, the 
Third Army chief said yesterday.

Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuenwong also slammed Thai contractors hired to 
build the 150km road, saying they were willling to receive dirty 
money from the illicit drug trade without any concern for their 

Thai security troops would have to work harder and adjust plans to 
deal with drug smuggling and other border problems, he added.

The general also urged the Foreign Ministry to raise the matter for 
talks with Beijing, which has been giving support to Burma.

A source said the Wa's 90-million-baht road project was meant to 
facilitate transport of goods to their Mong Yawn town, which has been 
made difficult since last year by Thailand's closure of the San Ton 
Du checkpoint in Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai.

Several northern border areas, now being held either by the Red Wa, 
Burmese government troops or the Shan State Army, have become major 
sources and smuggling routes of methamphetamines, especially those 
destined for Thailand



July 20, 2000

Post Reporters

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai asked for China's support yesterday to 
end widespread drug trafficking along the border with Burma.

Mr Chuan raised the issue during an hour of talks with Chinese Vice-
President Hu Jintao and asked for collaboration from Beijing, which 
maintains strong relations with Rangoon.

Government spokesman Akapol Sorasuchart said Mr Hu told the premier 
China regarded drug trafficking as a grave threat to regional 
security. He had earlier discussed the issue with Burmese leaders and 
pledged financial support for crop substitution projects among ethnic 
minorities in border areas as a long-lasting solution.

The Burmese government asked Beijing to support sugar cane planting 
in border areas and to buy sugar from Burma, Mr Hu was quoted as 
saying. China was willing to help despite a domestic sugar surplus.

The Chinese vice-president is in Thailand to celebrate the 25th 
anniversary of diplomatic relations. Burma was his first stop on a 
trip which also takes him to Indonesia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Mr Akapol said border drug problems would be discussed during the 
meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian 
Nations next week in Bangkok.

On other matters, the two leaders agreed to encourage more bilateral 
investment. Thai investments in China already total US$4.5 billion 
(180 billion baht).

Mr Hu told Mr Chuan that preparations are being made for the royal 
visit by Her Majesty the Queen to China in October, taking in 
Beijing, Xi-an, Zhengzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou and Guilin. In a luncheon 
speech, the prime minister looked forward to closer and active co-
operation between the two countries.

Collaboration would be expanded to cover development schemes in the 
Mekong sub-region.

The Chinese vice-president met separately with New Aspiration Party 
leader Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Chart Thai Party leader Banharn 
Silpa-archa yesterday before leaving for Government House.

Gen Chavalit reiterated the NAP's one-China policy, and explained 
about the Pak Moon dam protest in front of Government House and 
assured him that the rally would not affect his visit.

Mr Banharn said he expected closer co-operation between the two 
countries in international forums, including Asia-Pacific Economic Co-
operation and the World Trade Organisation, of which China will 
probably be granted membership this year.

Mr Hu was granted an audience with Their Majesties the King and Queen 
at Klai Kangwol Palace in Hua Hin yesterday, and will wrap up his 
visit with a trip to Chiang Mai tomorrow.



July 19, 2000

   Myanmar is preparing to work in cooperation with Thailand to 
implement a bilateral project of combating and controlling three 
communicable diseases in border areas of the two countries worked out 
at a meeting of health ministers in Thailand earlier this month.

Wednesday's official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar quoted First 
Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt as stressing that priority should be 
given to implementing control and treatment programs concerning the 
three communicable diseases -- malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis 
(TB) with the participation of international organizations and 
humanitarian associations as well.

Khin Nyunt, also chairman of the Myanmar National Health Committee, 
called for efficient use of funds financed by the government as well 
as by donor nations and humanitarian associations.

Myanmar's disease control program is one of the six extensive 
programs under the country's five-year national health plan (1996- 
2001) and out of the 17 projects under the program, 11 are prevention 
of the three communicable diseases which are regarded as those of 
national concern.



July 20, 2000

A foreign ministry representative spoke yesterday to a seminar on 
drugs in Chiangmai that the ministry saw no better option than to 
continue treating Rangoon patiently.

Laksana Janthorn, speaking for the foreign ministry spokesman, asked 
her audience, "Should losing patience with Burma be the way out for 

The participants, that included top officials from the military, 
police and civilian sectors, were lamenting the inability of 
Thailand's anti-drug forces to do anything about the drug refineries 
just across the border in Burma's Shan State. "It's a so-near-yet-so-
faraway situation for us," one of the military officers told S.H.A.N..

According to Thamnu Sirisingh, Director of the Office of Narcotic 
Control Board (Northern), more than 660,000 students out of the total 
5.3 million have been found using drugs. "That's about 1 out of every 
8," said a monk.
"What's happening to our youth, the hope of our future?"

The seminar shall continue until Friday at Chiangmai hills Hotel.



July 20, 2000

PRIME Minister Chuan Leekpai yesterday urged Beijing to persuade 
Rangoon to make serious efforts to eradicate its vast drug 
manufacturing and smuggling trade.
Chuan and visiting Chinese Vice-President Hu Jintao agreed on an 
alliance to combat the widening drug problem which they said is doing 
great harm to neighboring nations, particularly Thailand, government 
spokesman Akapol Sorasuchart said. 

An informed source told The Nation last night that both countries 
would also cooperage in intelligence exchanges related to drug 

Hu, who had earlier visited Burma, told Chuan that China offered to 
assist the Burmese minorities in crop substitution programmers such 
as growing sugar instead of opium. But Beijing considers the drug 
problem involving the United Wa State Army (UWSA) a matter of Burmese 
internal affairs that should be solved by Rangoon. 

Chuan briefed Hu about the visit to Chiang Mai last year by Chairman 
of the State Peace and Development Council Than Shwe, who pledged to 
help Thailand tackle the drug flow from across the Thai border under 
the UWSA group.
But the flow of drugs, especially met amphetamine tablets, has 
increased exponentially in Northern Thailand. 

Intelligence reports surfaced earlier this year revealing that 
Beijing had pressured Rangoon to relocate Wa villagers living in the 
eastern part of Burma's Shan State away from the Chinese border which 
has been deluged with drug smuggling from the area.
Then Rangoon allowed the Wa to move their bases and drug refineries 
closer to the Thai border, raising fears that the flow of drugs from 
Burma into Thailand will increase.
Akapol quoted Chuan as saying he hoped China could help persuade 
Rangoon to be more pro-active in solving the problem. 

In another interview, Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said that, in 
asking China's help, Thailand was not asking Beijing to pressure 
Rangoon.He said Thailand has always discussed the issue with Burma at 
every level of discussion and on every available occasion. 

Thailand is very concerned with the amount of drug smuggling into the 
country and has identified about 50 factories along the Thai-Burmese 
border that produce the met amphetamine tablets, known as yaa-baa. 

How to combat drug smuggling throughout the region will be high on 
the agenda of the ministerial meeting to be held here next week.
Chuan and Hu praised the increase in trade between China and 
Thailand. Since the two countries established diplomatic relations on 
July 1, 1975, two-way trade has surged by 200 per cent. The two 
countries are planning to invest billions of baht in reforestation 
and paper mill projects. 

During a luncheon reception yesterday, Chuan said he was very happy 
to see more Chinese enterprises engaged in Thailand's infrastructure 
construction projects. Chinese companies are building dam projects in 
Nakorn Nayok and Nakorn Sithammarat, and the Rama 8 Menam River 

Chuan said Thailand and China will be more active in enhancing 
bilateral Cupertino in a multilateral framework, including Asean-
China and Mekong sub-regional Cupertino.
The prime minister also reaffirmed Thailand's commitment to Beijing's 
One China policy. All Asean countries have followed this policy but, 
like other Asean members, Thailand has maintained economic and 
cultural links with Taiwan. 

Chuan, who left for Tokyo last night to attend a brainstorming 
session with leaders of the G-8, told Hu that he will urge the G-8 
leaders to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries.
He said that given the current globalization, international trade 
should be fair and equal. Powerful nations should not put pressure 
upon the weaker countries, he said, but should sympathies with them, 
according to spokesman Akapol. 

In his arrival speech, Hu praised Sino-Thai relations as a model of 
peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit that proves how countries 
with different socio-political systems can learn to cooperage. 

However, he said the Cupertino was facing a new challenge in the 
coming century. With the joint effort of both nations, he said, 
mutual trust and Cupertino will allow a better path of benefit not 
only for the people of Thailand and China but also for regional peace 
and development. 

Hu and his wife had an audience with Their Majesties the King and 
Queen at Hua Hin Krai Kangwol Palace. 

Her Majesty the Queen will make an historic visit to China from 
October 9-23, becoming the highest-ranking Royal Family member to 
visit the communist country. 

The Chinese delegation will tour the northern ancient city of Chiang 
Mai tomorrow before leaving for Indonesia on Saturday morning. 



July 18, 2000


The rains have come and spirits are a little low for God's Army, the 
rag-tag Burmese insurgency that draws its inspiration from twin 12-
year-old soldiers. 

Coughing, scratching themselves and seeming bewildered by the world 
around them, the boys met in a jungle camp recently with an American 
journalist and complained that they were short of food and supplies. 

Swinging short machetes, the boys were helping to build bamboo and 
thatch huts in a clearing when the journalist, Jason Bleibtreu, 
having trekked through the mountains, arrived to photograph and film 
them as he had done once before, in April. 

Despite their claims of supernatural powers, the boys, Johnny and 
Luther Htoo, seemed as passive and childlike as ever, relying on a 
sort of nanny named Rambo to help them answer questions. 

Mr. Bleibtreu: "What are your plans now?" 

Rambo to Johnny: "We still have our plans. Tell him." 

Johnny: "Now? We still have our plans." 

God's Army made headlines in January when 10 of its members staged a 
suicidal raid on a hospital in the Thai border town of Ratchaburi, 
holding hostage more than 800 patients and medical workers before 
being shot dead by security forces. 

Since then, remnants of the group of no more than 200 fighters have 
been on the run from both Thai troops and the forces of Myanmar, the 
former Burma, where they are a splinter faction of an ethnic Karen 

But they told Mr. Bleibtreu that the little camp where he met them in 
a remote stretch of mountains was in fact just inside the border of 
Thailand. It seemed for the moment that even their pursuers had lost 
interest in them. 

A number of the fighters apparently have drifted away to refugee 
camps along the border that shelter Karen civilians fleeing the 
conflict inside Myanmar. No more than 30 fighters -- half of them 
teenage boys -- accompanied the twins in their jungle camp. 

Dressed in military-style fatigues but looking frail and 
undernourished in Mr. Bleibtreu's videotape, the boys spent most of 
their energy smoking fat cheroots. At one point, Johnny sucked 
alternately on two of them, one in each hand. 

On his previous visit, Mr. Bleibtreu met only with Luther. This time, 
with both boys present, he said he detected a hint of sibling 

"Luther was moody and looked like he was a little bit upset that 
Johnny was getting the attention this time," Mr. Bleibtreu 
said. "Between the two of them, Johnny is a brighter bulb, more 
talkative and outgoing. When I started paying attention to Johnny, 
Luther got up and left and was in a bad mood." 

More than once when he was filming Luther, Mr. Bleibtreu said, the 
child raised a machete at him in what seemed to be a threatening way. 

Johnny also seemed edgy about the attention his brother had received. 

Mr. Bleibtreu: "What kind of weapons do you like?" 

Johnny to Rambo: "Did he ask these questions during his last visit?" 

Rambo: "He asked." 

Johnny: "What was the answer?" 

As with most of Mr. Bleibtreu's questions -- on both visits -- there 
never was a coherent answer. It was not clear that the boys had much 
of an idea what the journalist was doing there or what an interview 
was all about. 

The uneducated sons of a peasant farmer, they have been venerated as 
the reincarnations of ancient Karen heroes since they were small boys 
and their words are received as the wisdom of oracles. 

They -- or their followers -- claim that the boys command 400,000 
invisible soldiers, and that they can change shape, predict the 
future and walk through minefields unscathed. 

It is a strange life for a small boy to be carried everywhere on the 
shoulders of armed men and handed a lit cheroot whenever he 
murmurs, "I want a smoke." 

It seems a lonely life as well. 

"Of course, we would like to see our parents," Johnny said. 

And he looked on listlessly from his regal perch on Rambo's lap as a 
group of armed boys raced through the campsite, as if at a summer 
camp, playing a game of tag. 

Mr. Bleibtreu: "What games do you like to play?" 

Johnny: "I don't know how to play."  



July 20, 2000  


For the sake of our relationship and co-operation with the Thai 
authorities regarding drug trafficking and arms smuggling in border 
areas, we would like to clear up some matters.
The Bangkok Post editorial of July 12 alleged that "the 11 men (this 
group includes officers from the SSA) are part of a broad, and 
continuing effort to steal and smuggle arms to Burma".
A second 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."These accusations stand 
without evidence, are historically incorrect, and are therefore 
unjustified. In fact, they contradict the whole policy of the Shan 
The SSA has never at any point had any contact or business with the 
main suspect, Payungsak Yodbangtoey. Neither do we have any 
acknowledgements of this man and his business. The SSA strongly 
denounces the accusation that we are involved with this man.
To call the Shan soldiers "rebels" is a very degrading description of 
brave Shan men protecting and restoring what is rightfully theirs. It 
is the first time ever that staking a right to self- defence and 
claiming legal rights has been defined as rebellion.
When Khun Sa led the MTA, he was also the head of most of the drug 
trafficking in Asia. However, he surrendered to the Burmese military 
junta in 1996 and now works for them under their protection. Now Ne 
Win, Khun Sa and Lo Asing Han are the joint barons of the drug 
trafficking in Burma and the rest of Asia. There has been no contact 
between Khun Sa and the present SSA at any time as he is on our 
enemy's side.
Since 1998, the Shan State Army has controlled an area inside Shan 
State/Burma along the Thai border. Active strategies have been set up 
with the benefit and restoration of our land and people in mind.
We aim to promote and achieve the six following objectives: unity 
among the ethnic groups in our land to push back the Burmese 
invaders; to restore and protect our freedom and independence; to 
protect and promote a democratic way of living for our people; to 
promote the welfare of our people; to enforce the eradication of 
narcotic drugs; and to gain peace for our country.
According to our fifth objective, we acknowledge that the narcotics 
problem in our region is also the world's problem.
We hope and trust that the United Nations, the United States, the 
Thai and other international communities will help us in this cause. 
The SSA is in strong favour of the United Nations and the US plans to 
eradicate drugs in our region.
Since setting our objectives, we have been successful in eradicating 
drugs and refineries to the best of our capacity.
In many cases, the drugs have been handed over to Thai authorities 
and officers with the government. We believe that our drug 
eradication policy has contributed to mutual co-operation between our 
We will always be ready to join hands with Thailand in order to put a 
stop to this destructive trade in drugs.
The SSA also invites the international community, including our 
neighbouring countries, to come and see for themselves the situation 
in our land. They can witness our achievements and our goals set for 
the prosperity of our country and the outside world.
Supreme Command, Shan State Army 



July 19, 2000


PEOPLE are still talking about God's Army. What is this attraction to 
and mystique about God's Army? Ironically, the truth is actually more 
fascinating than all the rumours, gossip, and speculation. 

In the Tennaserim River valley in Burma's Tennaserim Division (Ta-now-
see in Thai), the Karen people have lived for years in one of the 
most self-sufficient cultures in the world. Burma was to the west and 
Siam to the east, but most Karens never went to either place. 

Eventually, the Karen insurgency - starting in urban, lower and 
central Burma - spread to their area. But the insurgents were Karen, 
spoke Karen, organised Karen festivals and cultural activities, and 
only really requested a few baskets of paddy tax each year and a 
place to stay and eat during their travels. So the two groups got 
along; yet it would be nae to extrapolate from this to say the 
Karens here actually supported the "revolution", or any other modern 
political doctrine. 

The Burmese, both army and people, on the other hand, were objects of 
horror and terror in many local stories. At a young age, you learn 
that the Burmese are bad, they kill and burn, and you run if ever the 
Burmese come. The Karen insurgents held the territory safe for many 
years, and the Karen people of the Tennaserim River valley carried on 
with their lives. 

After the Thai authorities and businessmen and the Burmese 
authorities and their financiers, together with some Karen leaders 
who sold out, made economic deals - specifically concerning the Bong 
Ti-Tavoy road and Thailand's Western Seaboard project - the Burmese 
army was able to race into the Tennaserim River valley in 1997. 

The Karen insurgent force retreated and the area was taken over; most 
people ran into the jungle, others to Thailand as refugees, while 
many villagers were shot and killed. The Burmese army troops burned 
all the houses and rice stores in any Karen village they came to. The 
villagers here have always grown up with guns and are very familiar 
with living, hunting, sleeping and eating in these jungles. When the 
force that was to protect them had abandoned them, and a foreign 
armed force had come into their homeland and terrorised them, their 
only legitimate reaction was to fight back. 

With consideration not to over-simplify, and noting that most 
villagers do not speak Burmese, do not listen to BBC radio 
broadcasts, and are not considered politically astute by any measure, 
this appears more to be a territorial war, and not a political war 
for democracy or even Karen nationalism. Because the Tennaserim River 
valley villagers who took up arms can move like ghosts in the jungle, 
live and sleep (and ambush) anywhere, they have quickly developed a 
mystique among the Burmese army frontline soldiers. 

In addition to this, these villagers were originally animist and 
later had some exposure to Buddhism, yet somewhat "converted" to 
Christianity about 100 years ago. This wonderful mixture of religious 
diversity, based on their own communalism and ecology and pitted 
against individualism and materialism, created the conditions for 
something like the Htoo twins to arise. It should not be surprising 
really. The twins actually did have some "visions" that proved to 
be "true", and the militia snowballed from there. The villagers of 
the Tennaserim River valley actually had a discussion and voted on 
what to call their newly-formed militia. God won out over Buddha and 
a diverse array of nature gods. 

They actually have held the Burmese army at bay on many fronts, 
creating a low-grade, prolonged guerrilla war situation in the dense 
mountain jungles. But the Burmese army did finally reach their main 
base, Kamerplaw, and tried to attack, and lost. The only way in was 
through Thai territory. The Burmese army attacked God's Army, the 
Burmese army withdrew, and the Karen soldiers laid landmines to 
prevent a second attack. The Thai army heard the gunfire and later 
went to investigate and Thai soldiers ended up stepping on the 
landmines intended for the Burmese. Yes, it was in Thailand because 
that's where the Burmese army troops attacked from. 

So, with the Thai army angry, and with God's Army supposedly still 
holding the Vigorous Student Warriors of the Bangkok Burmese embassy 
fame in their territory, the Thai army started to shell Kamerplaw. 
Radio reports indicated at least 50 villager casualties. Mortars blew 
away grass and bamboo lean-tos from two-three kilometres away. But 
God's Army could not understand this for they have never had any 
conflict with Thailand, and most have never even been there. 

First, they pleaded fruitlessly for the Thai army to stop the 
shelling. But later they convinced God's Army that they needed 
international attention (ie CNN) for their cause. The student 
warriors would help. They took the Burmese embassy, so why not some 
Thai government building? Some dissident Karen insurgent troops had 
also already joined God's Army, and they were trained and frustrated. 

Therefore, under some type of misinformed concession by God's Army, 
these bold, jungle-trained, soldiers came into Thailand looking for a 
target, and stupidly chose the Ratchaburi Hospital, clearly showing 
their ignorance of any internationally accepted ethics in waging war. 
(Of course, in fighting against the Burmese army, they have never 
seen any ethics in war). That force of 10 was likely about seven or 
eight Burmese of the Vigorous Student Warriors and two or three 
dissident Karen insurgent commandos. But it is very difficult to 
picture even one Tennaserim river valley villager in the group. Why 
would a jungle villager go to fight in an urban centre, to risk his 
life in a foreign place for some ideal still unclear? 

God's Army are just villagers, and not a trained terrorist force. 
They are not interested in Thailand and have no contention with 
Thailand, except when Thai forces lob bombs at them. They do not have 
modern weapons. All their weaponry is either their 20 to 30-year-old 
hunting rifles or weapons abandoned by Karen insurgents or stolen on 
raids on Burmese troops. The landmines? They could only initially 
come from two sources: the Thai army or the Burmese army. To say that 
God's Army is involved in, or even capable of, any planned attacks on 
anything in Thailand is absurd. Furthermore, anyone using these 
speculations in any media statements is only attempting to use God's 
Army for their own political or witch-hunt purposes. 

Leave God's Army alone. We do not necessarily have to support them, 
yet we also can, at the very least, understand their reasons and take 
a deeper look at the root causes of all this suffering. But to stir 
rumours and mock these Tennaserim river valley villagers is also an 
insult to a beautiful culture and people, unique in Burma and the 
world, caught in a horrible situation. To exterminate them under 
another's political and/or economic agenda is a sad crime. Let their 
100 or more people, with 90 or so guns, fight for their beautiful 



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