[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

BurmaNet News: January 2, 2001

______________ 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 
slipping currency 

*AP: Myanmar state newspaper says no worries over slipping currency 
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Old hands to lodge complaints against new 
border unit

*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 
Nov. 1. 

 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 
exchange earnings. 
 ``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 
border unit

Jan. 2, 2001

Reporter: Moengzay

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 
graft soon. 

"Old hands clearly are not happy with Nasaka", said a source in 





___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

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 
- this
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 
politicking which

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 
partially successful. 


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 
than 400,000."

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 
Associated Press. 

 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 
longer exists.
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.
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 
in 1998. 
 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. 


The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar) from around the world.  
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by 
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx

To automatically subscribe to Burma's only free daily newspaper in 
English, send an email to:

To subscribe to The BurmaNet News in Burmese, send an email to:


You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

Voice mail or fax (US) +1(202) 318-1261
You will be prompted to press 1 for a voice message or 2 to send a fax.  
If you do neither, a fax tone will begin automatically.

Fax (Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143


Burma News Summaries available by email or the web

There are three Burma news digest services available via either email or 
the web.

Burma News Update
Frequency: Biweekly
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at http://www.soros.org/burma/burmanewsupdate/index.html
Cost: Free
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project

The Burma Courier 
Frequency: Weekly 
Availability: E-mail, fax or post.  To subscribe or unsubscribe by email 
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Cost: Free
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article. 
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.

Burma Today
Frequency: Weekly
Availability: E-mail
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Cost: Free
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders 
Promoting Democracy in Burma)


T O P I C A  http://www.topica.com/t/17
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Your Favorite Topics