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BurmaNet News: January 2, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: January 2, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001 06:59:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
January 2, 2001 Issue # 1702
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
NOTED IN PASSING: ?416", ?425", ?435."
The plunging value of the kyat to the dollar. 416 kyat to the dollar
on Nov 1, 425 to the dollar on December 1. 435 kyat to the dollar on
January 1. See AP: Myanmar state newspaper says no worries over
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AP: Myanmar state newspaper says no worries over slipping currency
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Old hands to lodge complaints against new
*Guardian (UK): US papers reveal rift with allies on drugs
*Courier News Service: Chretien's Name Linked to Chinese Arms Sales to
*AP: Thai investigators blame God's Army for village attack
*The Nation: Officials say God's Army not to blame
*Bangkok Post: God's Army Role in Killing of Six Villagers Ruled out
*AP: Malaysian opposition urges Mahathir to pressure Myanmar's gov't
*Arakan League for Democracy (in exile) : On the handing over of three
ALD members to MIS, the military government of Burma by Thai Police
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AP: Myanmar state newspaper says no worries over slipping currency
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A state-controlled newspaper said the public
should not worry if the value of the country's currency falls because
the nation is self-reliant and has abundant natural resources.
The commentary in the Myanma Ahlin newspaper, published in two parts
Monday and Tuesday, was in apparent response to the recent weakening of
the kyat's free market exchange rate.
The official exchange rate of six kyat to the U.S. dollar is ignored in
daily transactions, and the government tolerates a black market.
One U.S. dollar fetched 435 kyat in the black market Tuesday. The
exchange rate was 425 to the dollar on Dec. 1 and 416 to the dollar on
The kyat started last year at 320 to the dollar, but dwindled sharply
after civil servants were granted a fivefold pay rise in March. It
reached a low of 443 kyat on Dec. 16.
The slide has added to the many woes of the military state's moribund
economy, which financial institutions say suffers serious structural
problems, leading to high inflation and a dearth of foreign investment.
``The rise in the dollar price will not affect the Myanmar public as
Myanmar is endowed with abundant natural resources on land and in
water,'' said the commentary in Myanma Ahlin.
The commentary claimed that ``some quack economists'' were predicting
that Myanmar will face an economic crisis because of its poor foreign
``The Myanmar economy is not buttressed by the dollar and we are not
begging assistance from superpower countries,'' it said. ``Our economy
is based on internal resources ... with cooperation and understanding
from friendly countries and neighboring countries.''
The military regime that took power in 1988 has instituted limited
economic liberalization, particular encouraging foreign investment, but
kept many trade and currency restrictions.
The economy, however, has failed to take off, leaving Myanmar _ also
known as Burma _ one of Asia's poorest countries.
2001-01-02 Tue 06:16
Shan Herald Agency for News: Old hands to lodge complaints against new
Jan. 2, 2001
Officials who have long been in the border area with Thailand are
preparing a report against the border control unit, Nasaka, said
Several officials from civilian, police and military sectors in
Tachilek, opposite Chiangrai province, are joining hands with MI-24
(Military Intelligence unit in Tachilek) of Maj. Thuta Sway to lodge
complaints against Nasaka (Border Area Work Inspection and Disciplinary
Battalion) when Gen. Maung Aye, Vice Chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council, arrived on 6 January, they said.
Both Nasaka and Military Intelligence Service are said to be under
direct command of Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary 1 of the SPDC.
During Gen. Khin Nyunt's visit on 21-22 December, he was reported to
have gibed at the locals at a meeting on the second day that he could
not under stand why the newly arrived Nasaka could collect B. 200,000
each day from the cross-border checkpoint where before it was never
more than B. 50,000 per day.
On 27 December, MI-24 and Nasaka quarreled over the former's arrest of a
pickup that was issued a permit by the latter. The former said it was
transporting contraband goods.
Since then visitors have been allowed to carry commodities no bigger
than a basketful each across the bridge that joined Thailand with
Burma's Shan State.
Nasaka, commanded by Lt.-Col. Htay Naing, is also to set up a court
martial to try Maj. Win Aung, Tachilek Township Committee Chairman, for
"Old hands clearly are not happy with Nasaka", said a source in
Guardian (UK): US papers reveal rift with allies on drugs
Rob Evans and David Hencke
Monday January 1, 2001
American diplomats privately accused world leaders of being "tepid" in
their support for the so-called war against drugs, according to a US
presidential briefing paper obtained by the Guardian.
The internal document reveals how Washington sought to rally leading
governments behind an audacious UN plan to halt drug abuse. The
long-running US-led "war against drugs" has often been criticised by
sceptical governments and other critics as a mission doomed to fail and
a waste of money.
The briefing paper was written by American diplomats in the run-up to a
landmark UN summit which adopted a huge, two-pronged plan - to eradicate
the production of illegal drugs in the world by 2008 and to cut down
significantly the number of people who wanted to take drugs by 2003.
A key stepping stone towards that summit in June 1998 was another summit
time of the G8 leaders - which was held in Britain three weeks
beforehand. In a briefing paper to aides of the US president, Bill
Clinton, state department officials wrote that the crucial US goal was
to "send a strong message that the G8 will continue a vigorous fight
against international production, trafficking and abuse of illicit
The US was keen to secure international backing for the wide-ranging
plans of Pino Arlacchi, who had been recently appointed executive
director of the UN drug control programme (UNDCP). Mr Arlacchi, who had
previously helped to fight
the Mafia in Italy, was seen to have shaken up the organisation. He was
committed to an approach that moved beyond the usual methods of merely
catching drug smugglers.
But the state department officials noted in their paper that "other G8
governments have given only tepid and circumscribed support to the
UNDCP". They added: "We understand other governments' cautious reaction
to Pino Arlacchi's ambitious plan for a global attack on illicit drug
cultivations, especially coca and opium poppy."
"We all know, as does Mr Arlacchi, that the cost of such a programme
must be carefully considered. The obstacles to eliminating drugs
cultivations are daunting in Afghanistan and Burma, for example."
These two countries are responsible for growing the vast majority of the
opium used to produce heroin. Mr Arlacchi wanted to step up the
destruction of the illicit drug plantations, but this could only be done
with the compliance of the two governments.
Officials were aware there would be political opposition to the idea of
giving money to the Taliban in Afghanistan and the dictatorship in
Burma. "Nevertheless the UNDCP's ambitious plan for a global approach to
target drug crops is on the right track; it builds on our combined
experience with alternative development, eradication, and enforcement;
it targets all major cultivations simultaneously so that production does
not simply shift from one country to another," wrote the American
The internal paper was released to the Guardian under the US freedom of
information act. It also gives an insight into the high-level
goes into the drafting of communiques issued at international summits.
The Americans were unhappy with the wording of the proposed communique
to be released after the G8 summit in Birmingham. They were worried that
the draft wording was not strong enough in its championing of the UN
plans and suggested new sentences. It appears their attempt was
Courier News Service: Chretien's Name Linked to Chinese Arms Sales to
Courier News Service: December 28, 2001
TORONTO -- An article published in Canada's most widely circulated
newspaper has linked the name of Prime Minister Jean Chretien to arms
sales by China to Burma's military regime.
Writing in the December 27th edition of the Toronto Star on growing
Canadian investment and trade links with Burma, Penny Sanger, formerly
executive secretary of the Canadian Friends of Burma, remarked on
"worrying" signs of the "corporate connections that link Canadian
businesses (among them Power Corp and Prime Minister Jean Chretien's
son-in-law Andre Desmarais) with the sale of Chinese arms to Burma".
Desmarais, 43, is the younger son of Pierre Demarais, the head of Power
Corporation, a financial conglomerate with major investments in the
insurance, corporate banking, media and mutual fund management
businesses, mainly based in Canada. But Power Corp's largest single
foreign play is a 4% stake (worth about C$ 350 million) in CITIC
Pacific, a Hong Kong-based holding company with substantial investments
in airlines,telecommunications, electricity generation, transportation
infrastructure and real estate, principally in Hong Kong.. Andre
Desmarais is a company director of both Power Corp and CITIC Pacific.
In her article in the Star, Sanger links CITIC Pacific directly with
Polytechnologies, a company that engages in the sale of Chinese military
hardware on a global basis.
"Desmarais is on the board of directors of CITIC Pacific (China
International Trust and Investment Corporation), the huge Chinese
conglomerate that spawned the country's military export agency,
Polytechnologies. As everyone knows, military might -- with the help of
Chinese weapons, aircraft and armoured vehicles -- is what keeps Burma's
50 million people docile. The Chinese military contract, worth about
$1.2 billion, has helped the Burmese army grow in recent years to more
But the relationship between CITIC Pacific and Polytechnologies is
somewhat more remote than that suggested by Sanger. The connecting link
in this case is the China International Trust and Investment Corporation
(CITIC), a major player in China's international investment banking
interests with assets of US$ 25 billion under management. CITIC in turn
is the majority shareholder in CITIC Pacific which serves to channel
investment funds both to and within Hong Kong and mainland China.
Less clear is the relationship between CITIC and Polytechnologies, one
of several companies peddling China's military hardware on a worldwide
basis. Both companies are reported to be headed by Wang Jun, the son of
China's late President Wang Zhen. Moreover, Polytechnologies is housed
in CITIC's headquarters building in Beijing. There's lots of scuttlebutt
about arms sales by "China Poly", as it is known, to "rogue" states like
Iran, Iraq and Burma and a much repeated story about an attempted
shipment of AK-47s to unknown clients in the U.S. There are also reports
that "China Poly" has changed directions in recent years and moving away
from military sales.
Evidence for CITIC's involvement in arms sales to the junta will be hard
to come by. What is known is that the company has signed on to finance
the sale of two Chinese-made hydro-electric plants for multi-purpose dam
projects at Thaphanseik and Monchaung in Sagaing and Magwe divisions.
With installation of a 75 MW generator, the Mon Creek project will
produce about 380 million kilowatt hours annually, while the Thaphanseik
station will have three 10MW generators with a potential to produce
about 117 million kilowatt hours. It would appear that completion dates
for both projects are still at least two to three years away.
Unless more detailed evidence can be brought forward, the alleged links
between Power Corp and arms sales to Burma's junta or even electricity
generating projects in the country are not very convincing. And
connections with PM Chretien seem even more remote.
[BurmaNet adds?The second and third of the following reports flatly
contradict the first. The contradictions reflect disagreements amongst
Thai authorities as to whom they think is responsible.]
AP: Thai investigators blame God's Army for village attack
Jan. 2, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Thai military and police investigators on
Tuesday blamed remnants of the Myanmar rebel group God's Army for
killing six Thai villagers and seriously wounding one in a cross-border
raid over the weekend.
One of the group of armed raiders died in the attack on a village shop
about 10 kilometers (6 miles) inside Thailand's western Ratchaburi
province on Sunday. Police said the dead man had been previously
pictured carrying one of the 12-year old twin boys who lead God's Army.
``Witnesses and evidence prove that remnants of God Army were
responsible for attacking and killing Thai people,'' said Police Maj.
Gen. Chalong Sonchai, the provincial police commander, told The
The twins, Johnny and Luther Htoo, are believed by their followers to
have mystic powers that make them invulnerable in battle. But the group
is thought to have crumbled after it came under heavy attack last year
from Myanmar government forces. The twins' current whereabouts are not
God's Army and an allied rebel group called the Vigorous Burmese
Student Warriors earned notoriety when they stormed Ratchaburi
provincial hospital last January, demanding Thailand grant refuge to
Karen civilians living in rebel camps. All ten rebels involved were shot
dead by Thai security forces, freeing the hundreds of captives unhurt.
On Tuesday Thailand's two leading English language daily newspapers
quoted Thai military officials as saying that Sunday's attack could not
have been the work of God's Army as it had been wiped out by last year's
The Nation newspaper quoted an unnamed Thai army officer as saying
Myanmar troops positioned near the Thai border may have carried out
Sunday's killings. Among the victims were two children and a pregnant
But Lt. Gen. Banchorn Chavalsilpa, a spokesman for the Thai army,
dismissed the reports and confirmed the military's belief that remnants
of God's Army were responsible.
Chalong said the raiders had deliberately used the kind of weapons held
by Myanmar government soldiers to try and create misunderstanding
between Thailand and Myanmar.
Bilateral relations have been strained since five members of the
Vigorous Warriors took hostages at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok in
1998. Thailand gave the rebels passage back to Myanmar to secure the
safe release of the hostages, which angered Yangon.
Violence along the border between Thailand and Myanmar, also known as
Burma, is common, often involving insurgents fighting the Yangon
military regime and drug traffickers.
The Nation: Officials say God's Army not to blame
Jan 01, 2001
ARMY officials and a leading Karen resistance group have dismissed
claims that the God's Army rebel group was behind the killing of six
Thais in Ratchaburi on Sunday.
Deputy Foreign Minister MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who vowed to take
decisive action, yesterday said it remains uncertain who was behind the
killings. Authorities are still investigating the incident, he said.
A Thai police officer in the area suspected a Karen splinter group who
call themselves the God's Army, a rebel group led by two 12-year-old
twins believed by their followers to possess magical powers.
But Thai army officials in the area, as well as officials from the Karen
National Union (KNU), dismissed the allegation, saying the God's Army no
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Thai army officer in Ratchaburi's
Suan Phung district said the robbery and killings might have been
carried out by Burmese government troops positioned in the area.
He said Burmese troops have controlled the area adjacent to the Suan
Phung district has been since last February after an all-out offensive
crushed God's Army positions and drove thousands of Karen refugees to
make-shift camps on the Thai side.
David Tharakabaw, the KNU's joint secretary-general, said the KNU
condemned the killings of innocent people and reiterated that his group
does not have any links with the God's Army.
The KNU is the largest armed resistance group fighting the military
government in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
Moreover, Tharakabaw said, the God's Army was wiped out last February by
advancing Burmese government troops. What is left, he said, is a band of
about 10 to 20 men who are still living in the area. The Karen villagers
in the area have taken refuge in the United Nations camp in Ratchaburi,
He said the KNU is looking into the incident to see if it was part of an
effort to discredit the resistance groups fighting the military
government in Burma.
Violence along the border between Thailand and Burma is common. The area
is home to insurgents fighting the military government for autonomy, as
well as drug lords producing and trafficking in opium and
The last major violent incident occurred a year ago. A group of radical
dissidents who called themselves the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors
stormed the provincial hospital, demanding that Thai troops stop
shelling the God's Army positions. They also demanded that Thailand
allow Karen villagers to cross over into the refugee camps as advancing
Burmese troops were about to overrun the area.
The hostage crisis ended when Thai commandos stormed the hospital in a
pre-dawn raid, killing all 10 rebels, reportedly after they had
Bangkok Post: God's Army Role in Killing of Six Villagers Ruled out
Tuesday, January 2, 2001
Area opposite scene under junta control
Burmese troops might have been responsible for the murder of six people
in Saturday's cross-border raid, officers of the Surasri Task Force said
The raid could not have been the work of God's Army, which was driven
from the border area opposite Suan Phueng district in an operation
launched by Rangoon forces, they said.
With Burmese forces in control of the area, the anti-Rangoon Karen group
could not possibly have launched the raid and fled back across the
border, they said.
Military authorities have been gathering evidence about the raiders to
find out which group they belonged to. Spent shells collected from the
attack scene were also being inspected.
During the attack, six villagers, including a pregnant woman and two
children, were killed on the spot while a boy sustained serious
They were identified as Ploen Inthanon, 30; his wife Mon Inthanon, 29;
Lamyai Sopha, 23, who was five months pregnant; Mrs Eiang Sopha, 30; Ple
Asaves, 5; and Ard Inthanon, 2. Ekkarat Asaves, 4, was still in critical
Speculation of the involvement of God's Army was based on the
identification of the killed intruder as Rambo or Maung Rin, 36. He was
reportedly a close associate of Preeda, one of the God's Army members
killed in the Ratchaburi hospital siege a year ago.
AP: Malaysian opposition urges Mahathir to pressure Myanmar's gov't
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Opposition officials on Tuesday urged
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to visit Myanmar pro-democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi this week and pressure the military junta for political
Teresa Kok, international secretary of the Democratic Action Party,
said Mahathir should ``not only focus on economic issues'' when he
visits Myanmar for a two-day official trip starting Wednesday.
``Mahathir has a duty to bring the SPDC back on the right track,'' Kok
said in a statement, referring to the State Peace and Development
Council, Myanmar's ruling military junta.
Syed Azman Syed Ahmad of the National Justice Party urged Mahathir to
visit Suu Kyi as ``a gesture of concern for her situation.'' She has
been under virtual house arrest in her Yangon home since Sept. 22.
Malaysia's longtime ruler is scheduled to meet Gen. Than Shwe, the head
of the SPDC, during his trip.
Myanmar does not often play host to foreign leaders, except those from
countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which
admitted Myanmar as a full member in 1997. Mahathir last visited Myanmar
Mahathir played a pivotal part in shepherding Myanmar into ASEAN,
snubbing the United States and other nations which urged isolating the
regime to force democratic reforms.
Mahathir insisted that isolating Myanmar, also known as Burma, would be
counterproductive and that engagement would eventually bring about
economic improvement and political change.
But most people in the country remain impoverished while foreign
investment has dwindled dramatically. The military, which has ruled
since 1962, refuses to hold talks with Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1991.
Mahathir is expected to be in Myanmar through Jan. 9 for a private
holiday following the two-day official visit.
Arakan League for Democracy (in exile) : On the handing over of three
ALD members to MIS, the military government of Burma by Thai Police.
Jan. 2. 2001
Democracy and Human Rights activists from Burma who are taking asylum in
Thailand, are being arrested and handed over to the death chambers of
the military government of Burma by the Thai Police. On 5 December
2000, Khaing Kaung San, Central Committee member of the Arakan League
for Democracy (in exile) (ALD -in exile) and other two members of the
ALD (in exile) named Hla Thein Tun and That Naing were arrested by the
Thai Police in Bangkok. Although they are recognized as refugees and
registered with UNHCR ofThai Branch, the Thai police ;handed them over
to the MIS of the Burmese military government. Such an irresponsible
and disgraceful act of Thai police is an act of violation of the United
Nations Declaration of Territorial Asylum, the General Assembly of the
United Nations on 14 December 1967 (Resolution 2312 (XXII) and the UN
universal declaration of Human Rights and UNHCR provisions.
The Thai Royal Government, as a democracy loving government, should not
turn a blind eye to the death groans of the people of Burma, the
country where the military government has been brutally killing its
own people, Human Rights are grossly violated, slavery and forced labor
exist, the people have been prevented from exercising their rights to
freedom of speech and assembly, and most basic of all, their right to
change their government has deliberately been denied.
We, Arakan League for Democracy (in exile), the winner party, in the
Rakhaing (Arakan) state, of the 1990 nation-wide General election of
Burma, strongly Condemn the Thai police who sent back the ALD members
to death chambers of the Burmese military government.
Moreover, we hereby express our gratitude to His Excellency King of
Thailand,the Thai Royal Government and Thai people who whole-heartedly
support our sacred struggle for democracy, human rights, and the right
of self-determination of all ethnic nationalities of Burma and appeal
that: The Thai Royal Government kindly grantDemocracy and Human Rights
activists form Burma in Thailand in temporary political asylum in
accordance with the United Nations Declaration on Territorial Asylum,
The General Assembly of the United Nations on 14 December 1967
(resolution 2312 (XXII) and the UN Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and UNHCR provisions until they can go back to Burma with full
human dignity and citizen=92s rights: and not to send them back to
slavery and death chamber of the brutal Burmese military government;
take necessary actions against those members of the Thai police who
violated international laws and handed over the democracy and human
rights activists from Burma to MIS of the Burmese military government.
The UN, the international community andHuman Rights Groups and Amnesty
International take urgent steps to save those unfortunate three ALD
members who were handed over to the folds of the MIS of the military
government of Burma by the members of the Thai police.
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