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

July 28, 2000

Issue # 1586

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

*Inside Burma


















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


July 28, 2000

BANGKOK.   Anti-government ethnic groups in Myanmar met on Friday on 
the Thai border to discuss plans to counter a new military offensive, 
ethnic leaders told reporters. 

 Leaders of Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive 
Party (KNPP), Shan State Army (SSA) and Arakan Army met at a KNU base 
near Thailand's northern provinces of Mae Hong Son and Tak, 800 km 
(480 miles) north of Bangkok. 

 Their meeting comes after Myanmar's military government was 
reportedly helping a rival group to fight them. 

 ``This meeting is significantly urgent as we meet to map out a 
strategy to counter the Myanmar offensive plan,'' KNPP deputy 
commander Aung Mya told reporters. 

 Early this month, Yangon allowed the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an 
allied ethnic army, to repair a strategic 150-km (95-mile) road along 
the Myanmar-Thai border. 

 Permission to fix the road and operate buses along the border was 
interpreted by Thai security officials as an attempt to suppress the 
rival SSA and other groups still fighting Myanmar's government. 

 KNU secretary-general Pado Mhan Sa said Friday's meeting would last 
three days and would focus on the better political and military 
cooperation among anti-Myanmar ethnic groups to fight against the 

 The UWSA, which says it has 20,000 armed fighters, fought Myanmar's 
military rulers for greater autonomy in the Wa region until it 
unexpectedly agreed to a ceasefire in 1989. 

 Unlike the UWSA, the 3,000-strong KNPP is one of a handful of ethnic 
groups still fighting the Myanmar military for greater autonomy. It 
reached a ceasefire agreement with Yangon in the mid-1990s that later 
broke down. 

 The Arakan Army is estimated by Thai security sources to have about 
3,000 soldiers. 



(Editor's note: This article ran in  BurmaNet News July 27, 2000 
however part of the text was cut.  This is a rerun of the article in 
full text.)

July 27, 2000

Johnny and Luther Htoo are fighting a hopeless war. The small band of 
guerrillas they command is up against 21,000 troops of the Burmese 
army who have wiped out or displaced most of their people. But the 
war is really about a gas pipeline - and the company behind the 
pipeline is British. By Maggie O'Kane 

There is a crunch of bamboo stalks underfoot and the first of four 
bodyguards appears, wearing a black judo guerrilla uniform and a 
black headscarf. He scans the clearing. Then the 12-year-old 
commander of God's Army of the Holy Mountain arrives. 
Luther Htoo is dressed in a short-sleeved khaki shirt with an 
Airforce One badge on his right arm. On his forearm is the tattoo of 
a fish pierced with a spear. He nods to one of the bodyguards, who 
passes him a lit cheroot, then he spits and climbs on to his 
bodyguard's knee. His special protector is called Rambo, a 28-year-
old fighter who has been with him for three years. He likes playing 
with Rambo's long, thick, black hair. 

Luther, the leader of the youngest and most desperate guerrilla army 
in the world, accepts a chocolate biscuit. He says his younger twin, 
Johnny, second in command of Burma's God's Army of the Holy Mountain, 
might be along later. Or he might not. 

The meeting with the twins has taken two months to organise. The 
final part of the journey began in the middle of the night with a 
nervous, greedy taxi driver who could be bribed to drive to the 
jungle, but who played the Best Gospel Album in the World over and 
over to comfort himself. As he raced against the dawn to pass the 
last military checkpoint while its guards were still sleeping, a 
young Vera Lynn-like voice belted through Soul of My Saviour again 
and again. 

Then, mosquitoes and steamy jungle heat along a path that went up and 
up. A mountain jungle blocked by fallen trees, sprinkled with giant 
anthills and odd, empty cartons of UHT milk chucked into the bushes 
by passing guerrillas. 

God's Army of the Holy Mountain was born three years ago when the 
Burmese army moved in to swamp the route of a multi-million pound gas 
pipeline and clear thousands of people before them. For 50 years the 
Burmese army and the Karen, one of Burma's three main ethnic groups, 
had skirmished, but in the early 90s the Burmese army launched opera 
tion Spirit King. Its aim was to wipe out the Karen and secure the 
route of the pipeline. A hundred thousand Karen fled to refugee camps 
across the Thai border. 

The British consortium Premier Oil began pumping gas through Karen 
land in April. The UK energy consultant Wood McKenzie estimates that 
the pipeline will earn Premier Oil - which includes Japanese and Thai 
oil companies and the brutal Burmese regime - almost ££500m over the 
next 25 years. 

The roof of the jungle is webbed in a fine green net from the ferns 
of the bamboo trees. Today, there is a wind rattling the stalks of 
bamboo. When the wind stops there is complete silence. There are no 
birds: the people have eaten them, as they have eaten most of the 
jungle cats and wild monkeys. 

Luther and Johnny were discovered three years ago by a television 
crew who went looking for the Burmese students who had fled after 
taking over the Burmese embassy in Bangkok. The cameras found the 
students in the camp of the twins, who were nine years old at the 
time, and the myth of the guerrilla children who smoked cheroots and 
were scarcely big enough to hold an M16 rifle was born. In Canada, 
prompted by the TV pictures, a retired Playboy bunny offered to adopt 
them. A website, johnnyandluther.com, was registered. 

Then the twins disappeared in the jungle. Now, they keep disappearing 
in the middle of a question to slide down the river banks with the 
other boys in their group on the back of a cardboard box with the 
words "Instant Noodles in Sour Shrimp Paste" written on in black ink. 
Their army is an army of orphans, their camp a mobile foster home for 
the remnants of the Karen people's 50-year fight for independence 
against the Burmese. 

Two years ago, at the end of 1998, God's Army had 500 soldiers and 
Johnny and Luther were reported to be working miracles: landmines 
were jumping up in front of them and soldiers who fought with them 
were able to brush off bullets like a jungle shower. The Baptist 
preachers who had brought Christianity to the Burmese jungle from 
Salem, Massachusetts, 100 years ago had also brought the cult of 
deliverance to a destroyed people. The Karen needed saviours. 

In March 1997, in the Htaw MaûLmaw district of eastern Burma, a local 
pastor brought two illiterate nine year olds to the military chief 
and said the Lord had spoken to them and they would save the Karen 
people. News of the visitation passed through an area where the 
Burmese army was cracking down hard after the Karen had killed eight 
workers on the pipeline. 

The military chief gave the children a "pistol complete with bullets 
and everything", says the pastor, Thah Hpay, who also went with the 
twins into their first battle. 

"That morning there were 20 enthusiastic men there and our commander 
Luther shouted 'God's Army!' and everyone in the cart shouted 
back 'God's Army!' At 6.20pm at the Manderlay church where the enemy 
was we selected eight from among us to serve as commandos and we 
named them 'Jesus Commandos'. We attacked the enemy at Manderlay and 
shot dead 24 of them. For the next battle, at AûLmlat, we started to 
fight at 3pm and the battle lasted for two hours. Those that attacked 
were 16 but the enemy were hundreds." 

So the beautiful myth of divine salvation for a desperate people was 
born and the cult of the twins began to grow. The old Karen military 
had become corrupt, and the twins represented purity. Hovering in the 
background at the camp, dressed in loud Hawaiian shirt, is the twins' 
dwarf uncle, a man called Mr David, who reminds them of the 
rules: "No duck, no pork, no eggs, no swearing, no womanising." 

Johnny doesn't smile much. He is dressed in a black judo suit and his 
long chestnut hair just covers his shoulders, where a badge 
reads: "Number One Military Commander". 

Luther does the talking from his bodyguard's knee, swatting at a 
yellow butterfly that comes again and again to settle on his head. 

"I shoot the Burmese army because of what they do to our people," he 
says. "They beat and rape Karen women, they steal from us and burn 
down our houses. Some holy thing touched my heart and I became a 

"How did the holy thing touch you. Did it come in the night?" 

"No, in the day." 

"How did it touch you?" 

"I don't remember." 

"Would you like to go in an airplane and see the world outside the 

"No, I want to stay here with my people. In my homeland, in my own 

"What do you do all day?" 

"I play - at fake battles, shooting birds. We use real guns." 

"When was your last real battle?" 

"A month ago. We were gathering chillies in the field and we saw a 
Burmese army patrol and we killed two of them." 

"Do you miss your mother?" 

"Yes." She is in a refugee camp on the Thai border. "But I love my 
people more." 

Luther is bored now with questions and wants to play with the tape 

"Give it to me and I will take it into the battle. I will tape the 
sounds of fighting on the battlefield and when we capture a Burmese 
soldier I will ask him questions and give it to you." 

There was nobody with a tape recorder to tape the sounds of the 
Burmese army arriving at the village of Ler Per Her 10 days ago. The 
only sound there now is the plop, plop, plop of giant raindrops 
dripping through the holes in the roof of the schoolhouse that the 
army burned down. 

The remains of Friday's lesson are still on the blackboard. The 
senior class was doing multiplication; the juniors were learning a 
song in English: "I'm a little teapot short and stout. Pick me up and 
pour me out." 

Now, like the other Karen villages that once lined the route of the 
pipeline, Ler Per Her is near-deserted. Its only remaining 
inhabitant, a woman named Wah Wah, is cooking rice in a hut in the 
afternoon downpour. She is tired of running: over the past 10 years 
she has been driven from four villages by the Burmese army. 

This time, she says, the attack came at 3pm. "It was a Sunday. 
Everyone panicked and started running for the river. There were 
nearly 2,000 people in this village, but we had only three canoes. 
People were throwing their children on to them and loading them down 
to within an inch of the water. Some people didn't wait for the 
canoes, they just panicked and started swimming." 

Wah Wah had five children, but in the decade she has spent on the run 
from the army, four of them have died. 

"They died from illnesses that I couldn't get medicine for because we 
were hiding in the jungle," she says. "Do you know what age they 
were? One was eight, two were four and the other one was one and a 

Across the river that marks the Burma-Thailand border, Dr Bill 
Greiser of the Christian fundamentalist group Strategic World Impact 
is one of the few aid workers treating the Karen who have 
escaped. "These people are mostly suffering from exhaustion and 
stress from being continually on the move," he says. "There's 
malaria, there's malnutrition, but mostly they are chronically 
depressed - they've been running like this for years." 

A preacher, a tall American in his 30s, calls on these wet, miserable 
people who are covered in jungle muck to stand up and "take the Lord 
into their hearts". Under the leaking bamboo shelter, he shares out 
anti-malaria pills with his big, warm, white American hands, then 
raises them towards the roof and cries: "We thank the Lord for 
bringing us home to you." 

It was in a heaving, overcrowded refugee camp that Luther's 
bodyguard, Rambo, found God three years ago. He wears his Bible 
around his neck in a green silk purse. His only other valuable 
possession is a Burmese passport carefully wrapped in plastic that 
tells him he is a citizen of a country he is not allowed to live in. 

"Other young Karen men like me are trying to get out, to go to 
Australia, but God has told me to fight for my country and to follow 
Luther and Johnny." It is Rambo's job to translate the scriptures 
that the illiterate Luther can't read. He opens his Bible and in a 
halting, reverent voice reads from the Book of Corinthians. 

" 'But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound 
the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to 
confound the things which are mighty.' 

"That's one of his favourites," says Rambo, searching again through 
his Bible wrapped in paper with pale pink roses. "He likes this one 
as well. Timothy, chapter 6, verse 12: 'Fight the good fight, lay 
hold on eternal life, where unto thou art also called.' " 

When Luther is faced with a diffi cult question he turns to Rambo. On 
philosophical matters he is vague. 

"I say my prayers and the Lord inspires me." 

"What prayers do you say?" 

"I can't remember them." 

"Why did God choose you and your brother?" 

Luther looks puzzled and Rambo fills in: "God chooses the weakest to 
do his best for the people. It matches with what God says in the Book 
of Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 27." 

On military matters, Luther is more precise. "We have lost 13 of our 
God's Army soldiers. They sacrificed themselves in the battle. Two of 
them were children. No, I am not afraid. I am serving my people." 

"Have you been wounded?" 

"No, the Lord has protected me." 

Beneath his eye is a round scar. "We were playing with bamboos," he 
says. "Someone scratched my eye." 

Johnny, who is in charge of food supplies and logistics, sits beside 
his brother and plays with a catapult. 
Even with God behind them Luther and Johnny Htoo can't fight the gas 
pipeline that brought 10 Burmese infantry battalions to their land. 
By January this year there were 21,000 troops in an area where there 
had once been 1,500. "Economically, the gas pipeline had to go 
through at all costs," says Sister Mary Roberts, a Catholic nun from 
California who arrived in the area from China in 1951. 

"The military used forced labour to clear the forests, people were 
kidnapped to work as porters and build the military security camps. 
They were being wiped off the land and nobody was helping them. In 
the daytime, the women were taken to work as porters for the army and 
at night they belonged to the soldiers. 

"The oil companies were very clever. They let the Burmese military do 
the dirty work and then pretended they didn't know anything about 

Premier Oil, the British company running one of two pipeline 
consortiums cutting through the Karen area said that they knew there 
were human rights abuses by the military and they condemned them. 
Chief executive, Charles Jamieson also said: "We're satisfied that 
human rights abuse aren't taking place in the area we are respon 
sible for. If we come across them we report them to the relevant 

"Premier believes in constructive engagement with the regime - not 
empty rhetoric," he added. 

The Jubilee Campaign, the human rights organisation based at 
Westminster and and campaigning for the Karen says: "Its is a 
nonsense for Premier to report abuses to the 'relevant authorities - 
the 'relevant authorities' are the Burmese military. Premier should 
admit they are working with mass murderers." The Jubilee Campaign 
claim that at least 30,000 Karen have died in the military's secret 
genocide against these people. 

Johnny and Luther have tired of sliding on the cardboard box and now 
the saviours of the Karen people are splashing in the river with 
other boys, just a little older, all lost in oversized military 
shirts from Thai army surplus shops. Their old Vietnamese guns lie 
abandoned on the river bank. 

"For me there is no reason not to believe that at a time when people 
are being exterminated God should send someone to fight at their 
side," says Sister Mary Roberts. 

But over the last two years, the soldiers of God's Army have began to 
drift away to find work in the fishing ports in Thailand that nobody 
else will do, supporting the Karen women and children who now 
permanently live in the refugee camps. 

"There are about 20 of us now," says Luther. But most of those 20 are 

"If the army finds Luther and Johnny they will kill them," says 
Rambo. He looks like a man who would die trying to stop that happen. 
And he may have to.

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


July 28, 2000

BANGKOK - Cambodia and Laos Friday signed on to the European 
Community-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement, a pact aimed at enhancing 
trade and investment between the two regions. 

 The signing by the two newest members of the Association of 
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaves Myanmar, shunned by the 
European bloc for its poor human rights record and military rule, the 
only ASEAN nation yet to join the accord. 

 "The extension of the agreement to include these two countries 
will ... help them integrate further into important areas of the 
European Community and ASEAN cooperation," said French Minister of 
State Charles Josselin. 
After the signing ceremony, on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting 
here, Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said he hoped the 
Europeans and Myanmar would soon work out their differences. 

 "I hope the remaining member of ASEAN will join the EC-ASEAN 
agreement very soon," he said. 
ASEAN groups all ten countries in the region: Brunei, Cambodia, 
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, 
Thailand and Vietnam. 

 The EU and Myanmar have been at loggerheads for nearly four years. 
In October 1996, the bloc adopted economic sanctions as a protest 
against Myanmar's military dictatorship and alleged human rights 
The EU also bars members from giving visas to high-level officials of 
the Yangon military regime. 

 Relations between the EU and ASEAN have been chilly since Myanmar 
joined the Southeast Asian organisation in 1997. 

 However, a ministerial-level meeting is scheduled to be held in Laos 
late this year, aimed at warming up relations between the two 



July 28, 2000

BANGKOK.  The increasing spread of HIV/AIDS across Southeast Asia 
represents the number one threat to regional security, health and 
development, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Friday. 

 Albright, speaking here to her counterparts from the Association of 
Southeast Nations (ASEAN), said the increasing infection rate in 
Thailand and growing AIDS epidemics in Cambodia and Myanmar 
were "alarming" in their scope. 

 "There is no greater danger to the health and security of this 
region," Albright said of HIV/AIDS, which Washington earlier this 
year classified as a threat to US national security. 

 Her comments followed similar remarks to the annual ASEAN 
ministerial meeting by Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar 
who called on the regional grouping to create joint efforts to fight 
the plague. 

 The United Nations estimates that there were 1.3 million new HIV 
infections in Southeast Asia last year alone, with the most dramatic 
increase among its youth. 

 "We must create the means for effective national and regional 
responses to this scourge of the modern age," Syed Hamid said, 
supporting an April call from ASEAN health ministers for a special 
summit on AIDS to be held in Brunei next year. 

 Albright, noting existing US anti-HIV/AIDS programs in place in 
Thailand and Indonesia and a joint US-Japan expert mission to 
Cambodia last year, vowed that Washington would enhance that 

 "The United States has been and will continue to work closely with 
ASEAN nations to address this threat," she said, adding that American 
work in the region to halt other infectious diseases such as 
hepatitis, tuberculosis and malaria and encephalitis would also go 



July 27, 2000  

BANGKOK.  Myanmar received ''lenient'' treatment in talks between the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue 
partners during the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting this year, an ASEAN 
official said Thursday.

Myanmar's ruling junta's suppression of democracy activists, human 
rights violations and production of illicit drugs were previously 
focuses of heated debates, particularly from the United States and 
the European Union (EU).



July 27, 2000

Maggie O'Kane 

A British company, Premier Oil, went ahead with a £500m project to 
pipe gas through Burma despite warnings that its partner, the Burmese 
military, was using slave labour - including children - on the 
pipeline, according to an internal report obtained by the Guardian. 
Premier's American partner, Texaco, has since pulled out of Burma. 
But despite the British government taking the unprecedented step in 
April of asking Premier to leave, the oil company has refused. 
The Burmese have been accused of using "security" issues in the 
pipeline area of Tanasserim to drive ethnic Karen people from the 
land. There are now 120,000 Karen living in refugee camps and human 
rights groups say at least 30,000 Karen have been killed. The army's 
tactics include rape and summary executions. 
The report says the army was extorting money from local people and 
using children and forced unpaid labour - described by the special UN 
rapporteur to Burma as a modern form of slavery - to build military 
"The harsh conditions of those carrying out the labour, including 
young children and the testimony of local people, belies the 
government claim that such work is voluntary," said the report. 
Mr Jamieson, Premier Oil's chief executive, said he was unaware of 
any military barracks constructed in the area and that he would have 
to check the location. 
Premier said it was aware of the contents of the report but had not 
been in charge of the pipeline - just a member of the consortium - 
when the abuses took place. The company said it reported any abuses 
it encountered to the "relevant authorities". 
Burma's democratic leader and the Nobel peace prizewinner, Aung San 
Syu Kyi, held under house arrest for the last 10 years, has said 
Premier "should be ashamed of itself" for continuing to give moral 
and financial support to the military government. 
Wilfred Wong of the Jubilee Campaign, the Westminster-based human 
rights organisation, said: "It is nonsense for Premier to say it 
reports abuses to the 'relevant authorities'. The relevant 
authorities are the Burmese military. Premier should admit they are 
working with mass murderers." 
Since its takeover of the pipeline from Texaco in 1997, Mr Jamieson 
insists that Premier has ensured that the work was carried out 
according to the highest "international employment standards". 
People who worked on the pipeline told Earth Rights International 
that the "Englishmen" (a name the Karen use for white foreigners) 
were aware of what was going on. A 15-year-old girl interviewed by 
Earth Rights said: "I had to clear bushes and other things. While we 
were working, there were two English guys watching us. On the first 
two days the English came and gave us 200 kyt (£1.04) for a day. On 
the third day the soldiers came back again and said, 'Your work 
yesterday was not good enough'. We didn't see any English and we 
didn't get paid." 
Texaco pulled out of Burma in 1997 after pressure from the US 
government and Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive said recently that 
it would not consider working in Burma "with the current situation."



July 27, 2000


THE United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is considering Asean's 
appeal for international support to develop human resources in the 
Mekong sub-region, which encompasses all three new Asean members, 
Laos, Cambodia and Burma. 
UNDP Asian and Pacific director David Lockwood discussed the issue 
during a series of informal meetings with Foreign Minister Surin 
Pitsuwan while the Asean Ministerial Meeting took centre stage this 
past week. 
Lockwood also met with Surin's counterparts from Laos, Cambodia and 
Burma in the corridors of the Asean Ministerial Meeting, to assess 
their needs. The UNDP's current five-year assistance program for Asia 
ends next year. 
"We will begin the process of consultation with the Asean secretariat 
and individual Asean countries in the [coming] months to assess their 
needs," he said. The UNDP will produce a needs assessment report, to 
present to the executive committee, by April next year. 
Lockwood said that while all of the new Asean members had human 
resource problems, he had learned from his meetings that their needs 
were varied. 
He said, for example, Laos was currently concerned about the rapid 
development of information technology sweeping the region. 
Asked whether the current level of funding to Burma would increase, 
he said: "I would say we can only sustain the current program with 
Burma, due to political sensitivity". 
The UNDP's primary funding source is countries opposed to the current 
Burmese regime, such as the United States and Canada. 
As a result, said Lockwood, only humanitarian programmes, currently 
focussed on community development and HIV/Aids programmes would 
probably be approved. 
The UNDP currently has bilateral programmes with Laos, Cambodia and 
Vietnam, to increase their capability to attend year-round Asean 
It has also offered public and private sector training programmes 
under a trilateral framework, using Thai expertise to help develop 
human resources in the Asia Pacific region. 
The multi-funding agency established dialogue with Asean in 1975 to 
help strengthen the organisation, which at that time comprised five 
Asked about a possible UNDP role in the Mekong agenda, for which 
Asean was pushing, Lockwood said the organisation could offer 
expertise in human resources development, but it was not keen on 
infrastructure development. 
The development banks were better suited to that role, he said. 
"The advantage we have is that we are capable of mobilising multi-
lateral resources and funding, to finance national projects with 
regional dimensions," he said. 
Asean ministers will have to defend their Mekong agenda when they 
meet with dialogue countries today to discuss bilateral issues and 
seek potential donors' assistance. 
Several countries harbour doubts about Asean's push for the Mekong 
Because there are several development agencies and donors already 
involved in developing the Mekong region, funding for new programmes 
could be hard to come by.


July 27, 2000

TRANSNATIONAL crime and drug trafficking will be high on the agenda 
at today's Post Ministerial Meeting (PMC) when Asean foreign 
ministers meet their European Union (EU) dialogue partners, 
diplomatic sources said yesterday. 
Cambodia and Laos will also sign the 1980 Asean-European Commission 
Cooperation Agreement, which will enable them to take part in all 
bilateral functions and assistance between the two regional 
The EU refused to allow Burma to sign on to the agreement citing the 
military junta's unfavourable human and labour rights records. Burma 
and Laos joined Asean in 1997, while Cambodia became a member last 
Besides transnational crime, Asean ministers and their EU 
counterparts will exchange views on regional, international and 
economic issues, sources said. 
Among the issues to be discussed during the meeting today are 
developments on international economic and financial issues, the 
trafficking of women and children, drugs as well as human resource 
development in the Mekong sub-region. 
The ministers are expected to exchange views on East Timor, Burma and 
the outcome of the meeting between Asean ministers and their 
counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea. 
There will also be a ceremony for the establishment of the Japan-
Asean General Exchange Fund, into which financial aid given to Asean 
from Tokyo will be placed. 
In the joint communique released at the end of the 33rd Asean 
Ministerial Meeting on Tuesday, the ministers expressed hope that 
their dialogue partners would make it a priority to support the 
recovery and growth of Asean. 
The statement also called on the EU to cooperate with Asean in trade, 
investment, market access, human resource development, science and 
technology, information technology, the environment and social and 
cultural development. 
In the past year, economic cooperation was the most important aspect 
of Asean's relationship with its EU dialogue partners. At today's 
meeting, social and political problems are also to be discussed 
between Asean and the EU.



July 28, 2000

Supamart Kasem 

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai has been encouraged to travel to Burma 
to discuss the border dispute and smooth relations with Rangoon.

Officials said his visit would ease border tensions between the two 
countries and lead to mutual co-operation in cross-border trade, 
tourism and fishing.

The trip was suggested during a meeting of joint public and private 
committees aimed at solving the economic problems of 10 border 
provinces, namely: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Tak, 
Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuab Khiri Khan, Chumphon 
and Ranong.

The meeting was chaired by Tak governor Nirat Vatjanaphum Abhisit 
Chonsakhon, vice-chairman of the Tak Chamber of Commerce, said Mr 
Chuan's visit would help improve ties with Rangoon, which 
deteriorated after Burma's embassy in Bangkok was raided in October.

Burma's military regime accused Thailand of being too easy on the 
terrorists and closed its border in retaliation, crippling trade and 

A representative from the Ranong Chamber of Commerce said the fishing 
industry in his province was badly affected after Rangoon revoked 
fishing concessions.

Other fishing-related businesses were also affected and were forced 
to close.



 July 28, 2000

The Thai Foreign Minister says the European Union "wasted 10 years" 
shunning Burma until the recent softening of its policy of non-
engagement with the military regime. 

"We told them that shunning the Burmese would get them nowhere. We 
welcome this new policy," said Surin Pitsuwan, after meeting the 
European Commissioner for External Affairs, Chris Patten, and EU 
foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana. 
"We have also maintained that only by talking to these people, 
dealing with these people, will you ever hope to change them. You 
can't shut a country in a box and think it will magically change by 
The EU said on Wednesday it was willing to sit down with Asean, 
treating Burma as an equal member of the group. The new policy will 
allow Burma to participate in the joint EU-Asean ministerial meeting 
in Laos in December. 
Mr Patten, Hong Kong's last governor, said although the EU had 
decided not to risk damaging its relations with Asean for the sake of 
its Burma stance, it would maintain tough sanctions against the 
Burmese Government. 
"Burma should be at the beating heart of Asia; it should be a very 
important country. And it will be - when it has a democratic 
government. The EU generally supports full engagement and trade but 
Burma is a special case - not many countries have turned over a 
freely-elected government," the former Hong Kong governor said. 
Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung, responding to pressure at the 
forum, said yesterday the military Government was not evil but a 
group of loving, caring and kind-hearted human beings. 
"If it were so the country would be in flames. In fact, it is we who 
have extinguished the fires. Peace prevails throughout the length and 
breadth of the country like never before," the Foreign Minister said. 
"What we have is a happy people."


July 27, 2000

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Myanmar's military government wants people to 
know that they are not evil as some think, but are in fact loving, 
caring and kindhearted. 
'What we have is a happy people' ?EMyanmar foreign minister  

The country's foreign minister told his counterparts at a meeting of 
the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) that Myanmar has 
been unfairly vilified by the world. 
"Peace prevails throughout the length and breadth of the country," 
said Win Aung. "What we have is a happy people." 
The military dictatorship has come under fire at ASEAN's regional 
forum being held in Thailand. 
The European Union and the United States have condemned Myanmar for 
the treatment of its pro-democracy opposition, labour and human 
rights abuses and its drug industry. 
Earlier this week, the EU external affairs minister told the press he 
felt Myanmar poses a risk to Asian regional security. 
But Aung insists that the nation poses no threat to neighbours. He 
also says his government has been waging a war on the drug industry. 
Myanmar did get a sympathetic ear from China and Laos, which 
supported the country's problem-solving efforts.

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________


July 27, 2000

THE European Union reiterated yesterday that it would not lift 
sanctions against Burma, but would keep a channel open for future 
humanitarian assistance to the country. 

EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten told reporters 
the European region's policy on Asean had been "sensible and 
balanced" so far. 

He said the breakthrough that will lead to a ministerial meeting of 
the two blocs in Vientiane later this year was an indication of solid 
cooperation between the members, despite a lull period because of the 
differences over Rangoon. 

Patten made it clear the EU wants to provide humanitarian assistance 
to alleviate suffering in Burma, perhaps through various non-
government organisations involved in projects in the country. 

Currently, about 6 million euros (Bt231 million) is earmarked for 
humanitarian assistance, mainly to refugees. 

However, he said, the aid could only be provided when circumstances 

In short, a certain degree of cooperation from the ruling regime 
would be required. 

EU will send its own troika in October to assess the situation in 
Burma and nudge opposing parties into dialogue. 

It despatched a troika to Rangoon last year, but to no avail. 

Burma is the only Asean member yet to sign a 1980 EC-Asean 
cooperation agreement under which signatory states are eligible for 
EU assistance packages. Laos and Cambodia acceded to the accord on 

Patten said the EU would not let political disapproval of the ruling 
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) spoil overall relations 
with Asean and humanitarian considerations. 

"Asean in particular is regarded as an extremely important part," 
said Patten, before adding "for us, the most important thing is to 
establish dialogue with Asean on a sensible basis. 

"We are right not to allow the issue of Burma to take EU-Asean 
hostage," he said. 

Patten said he expected some progress would be made at the upcoming 
joint Asean-EU ministerial meeting. 

However, he also made it clear that the EU would pull no punches, 
especially on Burma, if the Rangoon military junta goes against its 
collective values of democracy, human rights and rule of law. 

He then voiced strong support for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, 
whom he hailed as a "torch bearer of democracy and freedom". 

However, it should not be construed that, by pursuing this policy, 
the EU was trying to impose its own solution to problems inside 
Burma, he said. 

Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong before the territory 
was handed over to China, stressed the need for more political 
substance at the 3rd Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be held in Seoul 
in October, aside from economic cooperation. 

The EU wants to cooperate with Asia on non-security matters such as 
demining operations and stopping proliferation of small arms, among 

Patten commended the rapid consolidation of the Asean grouping and 
the East Asian trio which consists of China, Japan and South Korea as 
being "extraordinary, sensible and healthy" and a good example for 
other regions to emulate. 

Patten will attend the Asean Regional Forum today, and the subsequent 
Post Ministerial Meeting.



July 27, 2000

By Aidan Foster-Carter
LEEDS, England - Burma's rulers are frequent targets of international 
condemnation. Yet they are standing firm on at least one issue of 
principle that might be expected to win them international support - 
North Korean terrorism. 

Since the Philippines established diplomatic ties with North Korea on 
July 12, Burma is the last ASEAN member to refuse to establish such 
relations with the regime of Kim Jong Il. North Korea's foreign 
minister, Paek Nam Sun, is attending the annual meeting of the ASEAN 
Regional Forum on security in Bangkok this Thursday. 

One might expect Asia's two most inward-looking states to be friends. 
Indeed they were, until Oct. 9, 1983. That was when North Korean 
agents (one of whom was captured and confessed) blew up the Martyrs' 
Mausoleum in Rangoon, in a bid to assassinate the visiting South 
Korean president, Chun Doo Hwan. Mr. Chun escaped but 17 senior South 
Koreans and four Burmese died. Burma severed relations. 

North Korea is on the diplomatic offensive. Relations have been 
opened this year with Italy, Australia and Kuwait, in addition to 
Pyongyang's participation in the recent inter-Korean summit. It is 
pressing Burma to let bygones be bygones. Rangoon's response is 
simple: North Korea must first admit its act of terrorism, and 
officially apologize. 

Thailand, which is hosting this year's meeting of the regional 
security forum, has long sold rice to North Korea - or given it, 
since Pyongyang rarely pays. But even Thai tolerance snapped last 
year when North Korea sent a hit squad to kidnap a defecting diplomat 
and his family. The diplomat escaped only when the car that was to 
spirit them across the Lao border crashed. Bangkok was furious - but 
it did not break off ties, nor even seek an official apology. 

Should the forum avoid the issue of North Korea's violent behavior in 
the past? Or should North Korea be required to make amends, or at 
least reciprocate in some tangible form? 

Part of the problem is that the United States set a fateful precedent 
with the Geneva Agreed Framework of October 1994. Under that deal, a 
U.S.-led consortium is giving North Korea half a million tons of fuel 
oil annually, and building new light water reactors worth more than 
$5 billion to generate electricity in the energy-short North. This 
rewards Pyongyang for freezing nuclear activity that is illegal under 
the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, of which it is a member. 

Dealing with North Korea entails difficult choices about priorities, 
compromise and reciprocity. But principle should not be sacrificed. 
Must the price of peace be letting Pyongyang get away with murder? 
Burma doesn't think so. 

- Aidan Foster-Carter, an honorary senior research fellow at Leeds 
University, commenting for the International Herald Tribune.



July 27, 2000

 By: Ai Tai

 (Shan State)  In order to conquer and rule the non-Burman ethnic 
groups, the Burmese military have repeatedly divide and stirred up 
problems among the ethnic groups within Shan State. They have tried 
this thrice recently.

First, the SPDC formed a Lahu Militia unit in the area east of the  
Salween, where SSA troops are active. These militia men were 
permitted to trade in whatever they like, on condition that they 
fight the SSA troops. However, after the Lahus learned that they were 
going to be used as instruments of SPDC, they refused to fight the 
SSA troops. In process, some of the local SPDC commanders were shot 
dead by their own Lahu militias, when they were urged to fight SSA 
troops. Following this occurrence, SPDC discarded this plan to use 
Lahu militias as its instrument.

Secondly, the Ko Kangs were used. They were sent in to settle in the 
SSA's active areas in the East Salween area. These Ko Kangs were 
given arms and allowed to establish drug refineries. These drug 
refineries should be a bait to lure SSA troops to raid, and it was 
hoped that SSA and the Ko Kangs would fight each others as rivals in 
process. But it did not occur according to the SPDC's plan. SSA 
straigthened this out by sending a message to the Ko Kangs, 
explaining the anti-narcotics policy of the SSA, also emphasizing 
that Shans and Ko Kangs are kins and have been living side by side 
for years and should not fight each other to benefit the SPDC. After 
this, the Ko Kangs discarded their plans and refused to become 
instrumental to the SPDC. Thus, the second plan also failed to 

The third and last one is the SPDC plan to use the UWSA against SSA. 
Wa troops were stationed around Loi Htway, Loi Keu Hoo Lom and Mong 
Kyawt . The SPDC told the Was that these areas will be incorporated 
into the Wa State, provided the UWSA  fight the SSA-S, coupled with 
the right to do business and trade of all kinds. This agreement with 
the UWSA to help the SPDC troops was hatched in a meeting between 
SPDC's 65 IB and UWSA's 171st brigade in Mongton on 15 June 2000. But 
whatever the agreement, the Was soon found out that they could do 
nothing without the permission of the local Burmese troops. They now 
know that they would become the instruments of the SPDC. More than 40 
years of experience has taught the non-Burman ethnic resistance 
armies to be sceptical and this time around, they seem to have 
learned the hard lesson and are refraining to become instrumental to 
the SPDC's policy of divide and rule.



July 28, 2000
>From your report "Apolitical Burmese students preferred" [The Nation, 
July 21], I was shocked to learn that Australia, a country to which 
we, Burmese students, have owed a debt of gratitude for accepting a 
great number of us for resettlement, has recently shown a hard-to-
swallow face to us. 
I am a Burmese student who is in the middle of the process of 
resettling to Australia. Just because a handful of Burmese students 
have caused trouble in Thailand, should the rest be indiscriminately 
looked at in the same light? 
Is it a problem that could jeopardise Thai-Australian relations if a 
resettled Burmese student, who has obtained Australian citizenship 
and become a doctor, returns to Thailand to help save the lives of 
tens of thousands of Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burmese border? 
What about a journalist or a human rights activist? 
Although the news item said Australia did not lay down resettlement 
conditions for Burmese students, it is obvious that some of us have 
been waiting for almost two years, and others for longer periods, 
which we have never experienced from any other third country except 
It is a shame for Australia to slow down our resettlement process 
because of a hypothetical concern that Burmese students may try to 
return to Thailand to cause trouble. What an irony that Australia 
plans to conduct human-rights training for the terrorist Burmese 
rulers in Rangoon who have destroyed the entire nation and its 
population. Countless Burmese people have been killed, intimidated, 
tortured and imprisoned. We fled from Burma under grave fear of 
persecution. If Australia has a heart to deal with such a regime, why 
is it afraid of those of us who are innocent and stateless? 
I would like to request the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and 
Canberra to please let us know as soon as possible which of us is or 
isn't eligible under the resettlement programme as there are none of 
us without a political background. 
A Burmese Student 


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