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BurmaNet News: January 18, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: January 18, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 09:16:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
January 18, 2001 Issue # 1714
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Myanmar Times: [Government-NLD Talks]
*Reuters: Myanmar military says democracy will take time
*AP: Homes torched, Karen villagers flee Myanmar for Thailand
*United Press International: Burma's junta offers Karens olive branch
*Guardian (UK): Trouble brews in land of Burma's boy rebels
*Jane's Defence Weekly: Myanmar boosts defence with Igla surface-to-air
*Xinhua: Myanmar to Introduce Modified Vital Registration System
*AP: Myanmar's warrior twins finally act their age
*AP: Official--God's Army twins anxious to meet parents
*Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Two "God's Army" guerrillas charged with
murder by Thai police
*The Press-enterprise (Riverside, Ca.): DEA Official Retiring from
Agency, Not Anti-drug Mission
*Xinhua: Myanmar Leader Meets Chinese Public Security Minister
*AP: EU takes placatory stand on Myanmar ahead of troika visit
*AP: Thai police arrest 300 suspected illegal Myanmar immigrants
*AP: Bangladesh, Myanmar move to end embankment dispute
*AP: Thai, Myanmar forces join hands to sweep no man's-land islet
*Business Times (Malaysia): Unseen hand in new Yangon hopes
*International Herald Tribune : Try Compromising With Rangoon
*SOAS: Professor Ian Brown - Inaugural lecture at SOAS- "Eyes wide shut:
British colonial officials and the Burmese cultivator."
*European Commission call for proposals re. "European Initiative for
Democracy and Human Rights" (EIDHR)
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Myanmar Times: [Government-NLD Talks]
Talks step up as UN envoy leaves Yangon The Secretary-General of the
United Nations, Kofi Annan, has welcomed news that talks between the
Myanmar Government and the National League for Democracy (NLD) have been
underway since October, and would intensify in the wake of the visit
last week by his Special Envoy, Razali Ismail.Mr Annan said he hoped the
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the NLD would "seize the
momentum and work to achieve national reconciliation in Myanmar at an
early date". The Secretary-General also called on the rest of the world
"to continue to support the ongoing process of dialogue". "Mr Razali was
able to confirm that the two sides had started a direct dialogue...The
two sides are expected to start more substantive discussions shortly,"
said a statement from Mr Annan's office in New York. Mr Razali left
Yangon on Tuesday last week after a five-day visit to the capital.
The UN said the Special Envoy, on his third mission here since his
appointment in April 2000, met with representatives of the SPDC
including Secretary-1, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and Foreign Minister U Win
Aung.Mr Razali also held two meetings with the General Secretary of the
NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.In a brief door-stop interview at Yangon
Airport on Tuesday, Mr Razali told Myanmar Times that he was "very
pleased" with the nature and outcome of his discussions here, but
declined to elaborate.Outgoing US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
- one of the SPDC's most staunch international critics - cautiously
welcomed the news of dialogue between the Government and NLD."One of the
things that we have wanted to have is the establishment of such a
dialogue," said Albright, who traveled to Myanmar in 1995 when she was
her country's ambassador to the UN. "Obviously, we will have to see
where it leads."
Leaders of Myanmar's major ethnic groups were keen observers of
developments around Mr Razali's visit. Diplomats in Yangon also met with
Mr Razali, on the eve of a planned visit to Yangon later this month by a
three-member delegation from the European Union.German Ambassador Dr
Marius Haas said the EU delegation - including an official each from
Sweden, Belgium and the EU Commission (not France as reported in MT last
week) - would be in Yangon from January 29 to January 31.Asked if the
success of Mr Razali's visit would bode well for improved acting EU
presidency for Sweden, which does not maintain an embassy here.
Dr Haas said other details of the EU mission were yet to be confirmed.Mr
Razali's predecessor, Alvaro de Soto, made six official visits to
Myanmar from early 1995 to October 1999. In another key diplomatic
development, last week also saw the conclusion of the six-day visit to
Myanmar by Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed, during which he
met with the Chairman of the SPDC, Senior General Than Shwe.Dr Mahathir
was expected to make a statement on his visit to Myanmar upon his return
to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday last week. However, the statement was
concerned only with the PM's cabinet reshuffle. A diplomatic source told
MT that the Malaysians were "keeping things very tight". "So many things
are happening (in Myanmar), and this is the very early stages, it would
be impossible to comment," the source said.
Reuters: Myanmar military says democracy will take time
By Aung Hla Tun
YANGON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Myanmar's military has dampened hopes of a
breakthrough in moving the country towards democracy, with a senior
leader quoted on Thursday as saying democracy will take time to build
and will never follow the Western model.
News this month that senior members of the ruling military held secret
talks with pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi raised hopes
that the country's political stalemate could be finally broken.
But the official Kyemon newspaper quoted Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt,
Secretary One of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, as
saying Myanmar would resist international pressure to adopt
``It can be witnessed that some big neo-colonialist countries are
interfering and applying pressure on Myanmar on all fronts to force the
adoption of a democratic system identical to theirs,'' Khin Nyunt said.
``In fact, it is impossible to introduce the same democratic system to
all countries as they differ in historical backgrounds, geographical
conditions, national characters, traditions and culture, and the
evolution of their political, economic and social conditions,'' he said.
``A certain period of time is needed to implement the national policy
and create a disciplined and durable democratic system which will be the
most compatible with the desires of all nationalities,'' the powerful
intelligence chief said.
Myanmar's military, which has ruled since 1962, insists it is committed
to building democracy, but says premature political reform would cause
anarchy and national disintegration.
The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won elections in
1990 by a landslide but has never been allowed to govern.
Suu Kyi, released from six years house arrest in 1995, has been kept
confined to her residence since September, after angering the government
by twice trying to travel outside Yangon.
But the military now appears to be taking a more conciliatory line.
Articles and cartoons attacking the NLD, usually common in the country's
official newspapers, have suddenly ceased.
Chances of a quick breakthrough, however, remain remote.
Khin Nyunt said foreign countries should stop meddling in Myanmar's
``Such undue influence and interference will hinder the democratisation
process in Myanmar,'' he was quoted as saying.
At a meeting in Laos last month between ministers from the European
Union and Association of South East Asian Nations, Myanmar offered an
olive branch by agreeing to a visit by an EU delegation.
The delegation will visit Myanmar from January 29 to 31, and says there
will be no restrictions on who it can meet.
(With additional reporting by Andrew Marshall in Bangkok)
AP: Homes torched, Karen villagers flee Myanmar for Thailand
Jan. 18, 2001
BOR WI, Thailand (AP) _ The latest refugees of a guerrilla war between
ethnic Karen rebels and the Myanmar regime said Thursday they were
forced to flee to Thailand after Myanmar troops torched their homes.
Sheltering under tarps propped up by bamboo at a temporary camp, some
81 ethnic Karen villagers said they had to leave more than 40 of their
old and sick relatives who were unable to make the arduous journey.
One of the villagers, Pert, 24, said the group had walked eight days
through jungle after Myanmar troops raided their settlement at Mae Kong
Ni in eastern Myanmar, killing one Karen man and taking another
17-year-old woman away. Her fate is not known.
``I can't remember how many times we've moved on. We have to hide in
the jungle to save our lives,'' said Pert, who uses only one name.
``I miss home but I don't dare to go back,'' he said at the camp, set
up 10 kilometers (six miles) inside Thailand.
A volunteer who works with displaced Myanmar civilians at the border,
feared there could be hundreds more trapped inside Myanmar opposite
The volunteer, who requested anonymity, believed that 200 or more
villagers had been heading toward the border near Bor Wi, but had either
gotten lost or were forced into hiding in the forest.
``When the 81 who got here arrived three weeks ago, I saw the children
sitting down, not even looking up, just grabbing the food and stuffing
it in their mouths. I don't know how long it had been since they'd
eaten,'' the volunteer said.
About 100,000 Karens, Myanmar's largest ethnic minority, have taken
refuge in Thailand after being displaced in a campaign by the military
regime to flush out rebels fighting a guerrilla war for more autonomy
for their people.
The war is led by the Karen National Union, whose influence has waned
under withering assaults from government forces. Other rebel groups have
also fought ineffectual battles, including the God's Army, a ragtag
group whose twin teen-age leaders surrendered Tuesday to Thai
The group at Bor Wi arrived in Thailand Dec. 20 with virtually no
``Five years ago, life was very different,'' said one villager, who did
not want to be named, referring to when they lived in an area under KNU
``I lived well and I didn't have to hide. There was plenty of food.''
The plight of the Karens in this area of the border, opposite
Thailand's western Ratchaburi province, has worsened over the past year
amid growing military pressure from Yangon forces, according to local
Thailand has also tightened its control over the frontier, cutting off
sources of basic supplies.
United Press International: Burma's junta offers Karens olive branch
January 17, 2001, Wednesday
Burma's government-controlled media Wednesday held out an olive branch
to the country's last major anti-government insurgent group, quoting
junta strongman Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt as saying he was ready to "join
hands" with the Karen National Union.
An editorial in Rangoon's New Light of Myanmar newspaper quoted Khin
Nyunt, who is first secretary of the ruling council and head of the
feared Military Intelligence, as saying, "The problem of insurgency that
broke out with the regaining of independence is now almost resolved with
only one group, the KNU group, operating out of the border region with a
He expressed "hope that the KNU, too, would be able to join hands with
the government in the not-too-distant future."
The peace offer was made amid a general softening of the junta's
normally shrill propaganda against its enemies, including the National
League for Democracy and its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The United Nations announced last week that secret talks were underway
between Suu Kyi and Khin Nyunt with the aim of resolving the country's
decade-long political deadlock.
Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory in the country's only free
election in 1990, but has been blocked from taking office by the junta.
Khin Nyunt said the government's efforts to achieve peace among the
country's various ethnic groups had paid off and "national races
residing in different parts of the nation are enjoying peace and
progress unprecedented in their memory."
Local analysts pointed out that the junta has indeed managed to co-opt
many of the country's insurgencies, including those of the ethnic Shan,
Kachin and Mon, but at a price of granting local autonomy to the former
insurgents. In some areas this has included turning a blind eye to the
growing of opium poppies.
The KNU, with its mainly Baptist leadership, has been fighting against
Rangoon since shortly after the British granted independence to the
country in 1948.
Khin Nyunt accused the foreign media of distorting the real situation in
Burma, saying "the standard of living and the quality of life of the
people are improving day by day, and anybody visiting Myanmar can see
that the political and economic picture painted by the foreign media
does not reflect the true situation.
Guardian (UK): Trouble brews in land of Burma's boy rebels
Rangoon and Bangkok put squeeze on ethnic Karen separatists
John Aglionby, south-east Asia correspondent
Thursday January 18, 2001
The surrender to the Thai authorities on Tuesday of the twin boys who
led a mystical band of Burmese rebels consigns one of the world's most
romantic independence movements to the history books.
Ever since taking dozens of people hostage in a Thai hospital 12 months
ago, Johnny and Luther Htoo's ragtag militia, God's Army, has captured
the imagination of the west.
These ardent Christian child warriors - thought to be barely more than
13 years old - with allegedly supernatural powers were seen as bravely
standing up to the Burmese and Thai armies in their quest for a homeland
for the Karen people.
The deeper truth is that the boys were driven to their desperate acts by
the unrelenting pressure of constant military bombardment by both the
Thais and Burmese.
The struggle continues
The folly at the hospital in Ratchaburi, where all the hostage-takers
were murdered by Thai commandos, was the last roll of the dice by a
movement on the brink of elimination.
But the fall of Johnny, Luther and God's Army does not mean that the
wider Karen struggle for an independent homeland along the Thai-Burmese
border, which began 52 years ago, has come to an end.
The Karen, variously Buddhist, Buddhist-animist and Christian, fought
alongside the British against the Japanese in the second world war but
received no reward for their efforts.
Since Burmese independence they have never really lived in peace.
Although eclipsed in fame by the twins, the Karen National Union (KNU)
and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) are much larger
organisations and still very much alive, if not that well.
Both have suffered extremely heavy losses in the past few years as the
onslaught against them has intensified.
But some analysts believe that the defeats have actually transformed
them, particularly the KNU, into much more effective fighting forces.
Instead basing itself in big camps susceptible to attack, the Karen
resistance now concentrates on hit-and-run raids.
A typical recent example was an attack at the end of last year on half a
dozen illegal sawmills deep inside Burma.
Not only do they have to contend with the official armies, the Karen
also constantly suffer at the hands of the myriad armed narcotics gangs
taking their wares across the Burmese border into Thailand.
It is thought that one of these gangs was responsible for the murder of
six Thai villagers on December 30, although the Burmese and the Thais
have tried to blame the KNU.
The KNU responded immediately with a strong condemnation of the killing
in a statement which also summarised the movement's goals. "Together
with the Burmese democratic forces and the non-Burman ethnic
nationalities," it said, "we, the KNU, are struggling for freedom and
democracy, against the ruthless military dictatorship, in order to
establish a peaceful and friendly Burma for all the neighbours of the
country, and will always oppose tyranny, oppression and terrorism
against the innocent people".
The most visible legacy of all this oppression is the 150,000 Karens
(out of an ethnic population of about 7m) living in appalling conditions
in refugee camps in Thailand.
Recent research shows that tens of thousands of them have malaria,
tuberculosis is rife and HIV and Aids are starting to take a grip.
Foreign aid does reach the camps on a periodic basis but there are no
signs of a long-term solution anywhere in sight.
The same can be said for the main independence struggle. The Karen
receive next to nothing by way of international support for their cause
as they get squeezed into an ever smaller area.
Their plight could well deteriorate further once the new Thai prime
minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, takes office and seeks to strengthen
relations with Rangoon.
But despite their invisibility to most of the wider world, the Karen
people show no signs of giving up their fight.
Jane's Defence Weekly: Myanmar boosts defence with Igla surface-to-air
January 17, 2001
Robert Karniol JDW Asia Editor
Myanmar has obtained through international dealers at least 100
Igla-1E (SA-16 'Gimlet') low-altitude surface-to-air missile
systems, according to Bangkok-based intelligence sources.
The Igla-1E acquired by Myanmar is manufactured in Bulgaria by
Vazovski Machinostroitelni Zavodi, which is based in Sopot. It is a
licensed version of the improved second-generation Kolomna KBM Igla-
1E, a variant of the Russian-designed Igla-1.
The Igla-1E uses a passive infrared seeker. It can engage targets to
a maximum range of 5,200m and altitude of 11,500ft, or minimum range
of 500m and altitude of 33ft. The two-stage system weighs 16.65kg in
the firing position.
The missiles were obtained in mid-1998, but the contract has only
now been confirmed. They were trans-shipped through Thailand,
together with small arms and related material such as mortar fuzes
and rocket-propelled grenade fuzes. It is not known whether the
Bulgarian supplier was aware of the shipment's ultimate destination.
The dealers who brokered the sale are not based in Thailand, but
have previously used the country to cloak their activities.
Myanmar's air-defence capability has so far been mainly based on
anti-aircraft artillery systems, with guns ranging from 20mm to
94mm. It may have obtained the BAe Dynamics Bloodhound Mk II
surface-to-air missile system from Singapore in 1994, after this was
phased out of the inventory there; and could have about 60 HN-5A
manportable missile systems acquired from China in 1990, although
these have never been seen by reliable observers. Regardless of
whether the Bloodhound and HN-5A are operationally deployed by
Yangon, acquisition of the Igla-1E is a significant improvement to
its air-defence capabilities.
LOAD-DATE: January 16, 2001
BurmaNet adds: For more on the Igla, see
Xinhua: Myanmar to Introduce Modified Vital Registration System
YANGON, January 18 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will introduce modified vital
registration system in 45 townships in the country's Yangon division
beginning April 1, according to Thursday's official newspaper The New
Light of Myanmar. For the implementation of the modified system, a
four-day planning workshop is being held here since Tuesday. Myanmar
made a field-testing in 1999 of the modified vital registration system
in four pilot townships in the country's four divisions respectively
including Yangon and was said to have obtained improvement through the
application of the new system. The new vital registration system, which
covers all the birth and death statistics, is said to become a most
comprehensive source of vital information up to the community level.
The system is also said to help realize the Convention of the Right of
the Child which stipulates that the child shall be registered
immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name
and the right to acquire a nationality. At present, the vital
registration system and statistics system cover 261 townships with 91
percent of the urban population, but only 167 townships with 63 percent
of the rural population are included. The system was first introduced in
Myanmar in 1904 and covered a sizable portion of the population by 1931.
The system was reorganized in 1962 with the Health Department
registering all vital events such as birth and death and late fetal
death and the CSO processing and compiling vital returns and producing
statistics. Myanmar's population is estimated to have reached 50.12
million in 2000, growing by 2 percent annually. Of the population, that
in the capital of Yangon was registered as 3.85 million as of 2000.
AP: Myanmar's warrior twins finally act their age
Jan. 18, 2001
SUAN PHUNG, Thailand (AP) _ In the jungles of Myanmar, nobody questioned
the word of Johnny and Luther Htoo. The guerrillas who looked to the
twins for divine inspiration in their fight against the Myanmar military
believed the two could repel bullets.
But when the teen-age enigmas finally emerged from the forest and
surrendered in Thailand this week after 12 months on the run, they
looked like little more than chastened schoolboys.
Cosseted by armed Thai border police, who held their hands and gave
them crackers, an anxious-looking Johnny and Luther surveyed with wide
eyes the hordes of journalists witnessing the end of their bizarre
The 5-foot-tall (152-centimeter) twins obediently sat on plastic chairs
Wednesday at a Thai border police base, alongside 12 followers who
surrendered with them. Most looked too young for high school.
Thai army chief Sarayud Chulanont summed up what everyone was thinking:
``They're just kids.''
The twins became icons for youthful rebels around the world after the
widespread circulation of an Associated Press photograph showed the
angelic-looking, long-haired Johnny next to his tougher-looking,
cigarette-puffing brother, Luther.
The boys claimed to be 12 when the picture was taken in December 1999.
The slightly built boys look no older than 8 now.
Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai flew by helicopter to the border
police base Wednesday to meet the young rebels.
He held up Johnny's left arm and looked at a tattoo on it before moving
on to Luther, who touched his palms together and bowed before the prime
minister in a traditional Thai greeting.
Chuan held Luther's hand and touched him on his head. The nervous
Luther _ a chain-smoking warrior prince who used to order guerrillas
into battle at whim _ broke into a broad smile.
Asked if the twins look like killers, Chuan shook his head and said,
``I'd like to see them with their parents and going to school.''
Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military
since 1962. The main rebel army, the Karen National Union, once
controlled a huge swathe of eastern Myanmar, but has lost ground
steadily over the past decade.
God's Army, an armed group of ethnic Karen, was formed a few years ago
after an assault on the twins' village, when they allegedly inspired a
daring and successful counterattack against Myanmar troops. That rare
victory gave birth to a local legend about their mystical powers.
The group gained notoriety after it gave refuge to another group of
Myanmar dissidents _ known as the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors _
who had taken hostages at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok in October
1999. Authorities sealed the frontier and the God's Army base, a few
miles inside Myanmar, faced heavy weapon assaults from both Myanmar and
Ten rebels later took hostages at a Thai hospital in a disastrous
attempt to pressure Thailand to provide sanctuary for their civilian
followers. Thai commandos killed all 10.
The twins have been on the run since then, variously reported to be
hiding in villages on either side of the border, their ragtag army
On Tuesday, Johnny and Luther surrendered: Forced by hunger, fatigue
and a fresh Thai clampdown at the border.
Thailand says it will consider giving the twins asylum if they are
found to be legitimate refugees fleeing war. If so, they will likely
join the more than 100,000 other Karens in refugee camps along the
Thai-Myanmar border. Their mother is rumored to stay in such a camp;
their father's whereabouts are unknown.
Other than a few whispered words into the reassuring ear of Prime
Minister Chuan, the twins have kept their mouths shut. Their fate
AP: Official--God's Army twins anxious to meet parents
Jan. 18, 2001
SUAN PHUNG, Thailand (AP) _ After eluding a massive manhunt for 12
months, the teen-age twin leaders of God's Army rebels relaxed in Thai
custody Thursday, chain-smoking and playing with children's toys while
awaiting a reunion with their parents.
Johnny and Luther Htoo's parents live in one of Thailand's several
refugee camps that hosts some 100,000 Myanmar citizens, mostly ethnic
Karen minority displaced by a decades-old war between Myanmar's military
regime and Karen rebels.
The boys are eager to meet their mother and father, said Payakkaphan
Phokaew, the chief of the Suan Phung district.
``Soldiers have informed the parents that they (the boys) are under the
protection of the Thai authorities,'' he said.
Johnny and Luther, whose followers attribute them with mystical powers,
turned themselves in to Thai authorities in Suan Phung on Tuesday along
with 12 followers, most of them youngsters. Suan Phung is about 160
kilometers (100 miles) west of the Thai capital, Bangkok.
Three more members of God's Army, a fringe Karen rebel group,
Johnny and Luther, believed to be 13 or 14 years old, have also
promised to cut down on smoking, Payakkaphan said.
``I told them to quit cigarettes and Johnny and Luther promised to cut
down,'' Payakkaphan told The Associated Press, interrupting the
interview to ask an official to buy lice medicine for the twins.
The twins' surrender brought to an end an ineffective hit-and-run armed
campaign that their ragtag guerrilla group had carried out for the last
three years against Myanmar forces.
Payakkaphan, who had a breakfast of rice and chilly squid with the
twins Thursday, said they ``seem happy enough.''
``At least they have more food and are not afraid of their enemy,'' he
The twins and their colleagues are being kept at a three-story house at
the border patrol police headquarters in Suan Phung. They could be seen
in the compound playing with toys given by security forces -- Johnny was
looking curiously at a plastic helicopter while his brother played with
a soccer ball.
``This week we want to give them time to recuperate,'' Payakkaphan
He said a committee comprising senior officials and the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees would probably meet next week to
determine if the twins and their followers qualify for refugee status.
Among those who surrendered with the twins are three teen-agers who are
suspected of taking part in a Dec. 30 gunbattle in a Thai village that
killed six villagers.
The three youngsters were taken Thursday to the village of Ban Wai Noi
Nai where they re-enacted the shooting, a customary practice in
Thailand. They will be produced in court Friday.
Police say the re-enactment helps the investigation, but it is also
seen as being done for the benefit of news television channels.
Ban Wai Noi Nai, a village of 10 families, is located 20 kilometers (12
miles) from Suan Phung and 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Myanmar
God's Army was formed a few years ago after an assault on the twins'
village, when they allegedly inspired a daring and successful
counterattack against Myanmar troops. That rare victory gave birth to a
local legend about their mystical powers.
The group gained notoriety when it gave refuge to another group of
Myanmar dissidents, which had earlier taken hostages at the Myanmar
Embassy in Bangkok in October 1999.
A few months later the group seized a Thai hospital, triggering a
manhunt and crackdown on the God's Army by the Thai authorities since
Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Two "God's Army" guerrillas charged with murder
by Thai police
January 17, 2001
Thai police on Wednesday charged two members of "God's Army", a
jungle-based, ethnic Karen guerrilla group, with robbery and the murder
of six Thai nationals.
The previous day, 16 fighters - including their mystic leaders,
12-year-old twins Luther and Johnny Htoo - surrendered to Thai
authorities, days after their stronghold along the Myanmar (Burma)
border was surrounded and food supplies cut off.
The Thai army has been pursuing the insurgent group since December 30,
when a band of heavily-armed men crossed into the Suan Pueng district of
Thailand's Ratchburi Province, 140 kilometres west of Bangkok, and
robbed a grocery store before killing six villagers.
"We interrogated the Karens until 1 a.m. Wednesday when, finally, two of
them confessed to the killing," said the Ratchburi Police Commander,
Major General Chalong Sanjai.
Police immediately pressed charges against the two Karen insurgents,
aged 16 and 19, with robbery and murder, for which the maximum sentence
in Thailand is death.
The remaining 14 members of God's Army, including Luther and Johnny,
will be sent to refugee camps along the border, said Chalong.
God's Army is a splinter group from the Karen National Union (KNU), one
of the world's oldest insurgencies, which has been waging a war for the
autonomy of the Karen State since Myanmar (Burma) won independence from
Britain in 1948.
Some 100,000 ethnic Karens live in temporary camps along the Thai
border, where they are classified as "displaced persons" rather than
God's Army, led by two Karen cheroot cigarette-puffing twins supposedly
endowed with magical powers, have been on Thailand's blacklist since
January last year, when 10 members of the insurgency seized Ratchburi
Hospital and held about 800 hospital staff and patients hostage for 22
hours to press their political demands.
Thai commandos finally stormed the hospital and killed all the
The hospital incident followed the seizure of the Myanmar Embassy in
Bangkok in October 1999 by five Myanmar dissidents who dubbed themselves
the "Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors".
The five, including their leader "Johnny", were allowed to escape by
Thai authorities, who flew them to the Suan Pueng area in Ratchburi
Province, where some of them allegedly joined God's Army. dpa pj fz
The Press-enterprise (Riverside, Ca.): DEA Official Retiring from
Agency, Not Anti-drug Mission
January 13, 2001, Saturday
Lisa O'Neill Hill; The Press-Enterprise
Drugs have been a big part of Richard Keller's life for more than three
A veteran U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Keller has
targeted Mexican cartels moving cocaine over the border, supervised
street buys of heroin in besieged areas of Los Angeles and tracked the
distribution of methamphetamine in the Inland Empire and the Midwest.
His career has taken him to Thailand, Belgium, Hawaii, Savannah, Ga. and
numerous places in between.
"Every workday has been a different day for 32 years," Keller said.
Keller, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's Riverside office,
which investigates drug trafficking in Riverside and San Bernardino
counties, is retiring from his post. He spent Friday packing belongings
and saying goodbye to co-workers.
"I've had a very rewarding, adventuresome career in the DEA," he said.
But he is not leaving his expertise in drugs behind.
Keller is moving to Santa Fe, N.M., to become a consultant for the
National Drug Intelligence Center, a federally funded group that tracks
intelligence on drug operations and reports them to the federal drug
czar. It was an offer Keller, 55, said he could not refuse.
Keller was assigned to Brussels, then Savannah, and onto Honolulu, where
he became a supervisor.
In 1992, he was sent to Washington, D.C., where he supervised DEA
operations in southeastern Asian countries such as Burma, now called
Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand.
He spent three years on "Operation Tiger Trap," an effort started with
Thai officials to stop the Shan United Army in Myanmar from distributing
heroin into the United States. The army used the money from narcotic
sales to back its cause.
A dozen people were indicted in the United States in connection with the
distribution operation. Several were extradited and convicted, he said.
The Shan United Army eventually cut a deal with the central government
of Myanmar to stop producing heroin and supplying it to the U.S. The
army now distributes amphetamines, but the drugs stay in the area, he
Drugs coming in from Mexico continue to be the DEA's biggest challenge,
especially because corruption there is common, he said.
The problem will not go away until Mexico agrees to help dismantle the
trade and eliminate the supply, he said.
"Drug trafficking will be here as long as there are drugs to sell as
well as somebody to buy them," he said.
Xinhua: Myanmar Leader Meets Chinese Public Security Minister
YANGON, January 17 (Xinhua) -- First Secretary of the Myanmar State
Peace and Development Council Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt met visiting
Chinese Minister of Public Security Jia Chunwang here Wednesday. The two
sides exchanged views on combating transnational crimes, especially on
drug-related ones, cooperation in drug control and promotion of exchange
between the public security departments of the two countries as well as
matters of mutual concern. Khin Nyunt said the friendly ties between
Myanmar and China, which were forged by Myanmar and Chinese leaders of
older generations based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence,
have developed well.
In recent years, he noted, the frequent exchange of visits of
high-ranking leaders between the two countries has further deepened
bilateral ties. Myanmar and China have supported each other in
international affairs, he said, adding that the Myanmar people will
never forget the economic aid extended by China. He stressed that the
Myanmar government and people will stick to the "one-China" policy. At
the meeting, Jia said China and Myanmar are friendly neighbors linked by
mountains and rivers. After the founding of New China, Myanmar was one
of the earliest countries that diplomatically recognized the People's
Republic of China. During more than half-century's time in the past,
Sino-Myanmar relations maintained a steady pace of development no matter
how the international climate changed, he noted.
Last year, China and Myanmar issued a joint statement on bilateral
cooperation in the future, he recalled, saying that the two sides are
making positive efforts to implement accords signed between them. On the
issue of drug control, Khin Nyunt said Myanmar and China have conducted
good cooperation. The two countries share a very long common border and
Myanmar is sure to further strengthen cooperation with China in this
field, he noted. Jia described narcotic drugs as the common enemy of the
human society. The Chinese government has made tireless efforts to
control drug abuse, he said, hoping that the Myanmar Ministry of Home
Affairs will strengthen cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Public
Security in suppression of drug-related crimes. Jia arrived here on
Tuesday for a five-day visit at the invitation of Myanmar CCDAC Chairman
and Minister of Home Affairs Colonel Tin Hlaing. Enditem
AP: EU takes placatory stand on Myanmar ahead of troika visit
Jan. 18, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Preparing to send a fact-finding team to
Myanmar, the European Union is striking a conciliatory tone toward the
Southeast Asian country's military rulers who have been blasted by the
West for suppressing democracy.
The EU team scheduled to visit Myanmar Jan. 29-31 will not insist on
the immediate release of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from
house arrest, Sweden's ambassador to Thailand, Jan Nordlander, told
Sweden is the current president of the European Union and a Swedish
official will lead the four-member team to Myanmar.
The team will expect to meet with Suu Kyi, other members of her
National League for Democracy party, Foreign Minister Win Aung and the
No. 3 leader in the junta, Khin Nyunt.
Even Suu Kyi herself is accepting ``in a temporary way'' the
restrictions on her ``as long as the dialogue goes on,'' Nordlander
``One should not be more holy than the pope,'' he said.
Myanmar's junta refuses to recognize the results of the 1990 general
elections that were swept by the National League for Democracy. In the
last decade, the generals have imprisoned scores of NLD members and kept
Suu Kyi under long periods of house arrest. In the latest round, she has
been kept under restrictive custody in her house since Sept. 22.
But after a visit to Myanmar, the United Nations' special envoy to that
country, Razali Ismail, announced this month that the junta has been
holding secret reconciliation talks with Suu Kyi.
Nordlander said the talks may be the result of pressure ``from the
inside and from the outside,'' and cited the role of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations, the 10-member regional grouping of which
Myanmar is a member.
``It is apparent that great efforts have been made from many quarters,
not the least from some other members of ASEAN and this has perhaps been
the decisive factor,'' he said.
ASEAN has long insisted on engaging Myanmar's rulers in regional
affairs to persuade them to turn to democracy, rejecting the Western
policy of imposing sanctions.
Asked if ASEAN's policy has been vindicated, Nordlander said: ``Any
country would be more sensitive to the views of her neighbors and
immediate friends than to the views of those who are very far away and
with whom she has lesser deals.''
``Personally, I don't think it would yield any results to isolate
Myanmar. If you want to achieve changes you must talk to your partner,''
Nordlander said that the EU will maintain its sanctions on Myanmar
until its generals restore democracy, release all political prisoners
and respect human rights. But ``one must be rather patient. This is a
The EU troika will be led by Borje Ljunggren, the director general of
the Asia desk in the Swedish Foreign Ministry. The other members will be
Ljunggren's counterpart in the Belgian Foreign Ministry, Patrick Van
Haute, and two officials from the European Commission and the Council
AP: Bangladesh, Myanmar move to end embankment dispute
Jan. 18, 2001
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ With troops on high alert, Bangladesh and
Myanmar have agreed to hold talks to end a dispute over Myanmar's
building of an embankment on a river shared by the two neighbors, a
Bangladesh official said Wednesday.
No date or venue has been set for the talks to be held by officials,
Foreign Secretary C.M. Shafi Sami was quoted as saying by state-run
Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency.
He said Myanmar had also accused Bangladesh of building an embankment
on the river, which Dhaka has denied.
Myanmar has proposed that officials from the two countries jointly
verify each other's allegations on embanking the river, Sami said.
``We have agreed to the proposal,'' he said.
Tension was high along the Naaf River after Myanmar started building an
embankment on the border river early this month.
Border guards of the two countries exchanged fire on Jan. 8, but there
were no casualties.
Both countries since then reinforced troops along the 273-kilometer
(170-mile) frontier, part of it formed by the river. Thousands of
villagers fled their homes, fearing an outbreak of gunbattles.
AP: Thai police arrest 300 suspected illegal Myanmar immigrants
Jan. 18, 2001
MAE SOD, Thailand (AP) _ Thai police raided 16 buildings in a
northwestern border town and arrested about 300 Myanmar people on
charges of entering the country illegally in search of work, officials
They also arrested 14 Thais on suspicion of sheltering illegal
immigrants, Immigration Police Lt. Col. Preecha Suwannason said.
The raids were conducted Tuesday on three-story buildings housing
karaoke bars and restaurants, many of which were operating without
license, said Preecha, who led the raids.
He said the Burmese men and women were found hiding in the second and
third floors. Police seized fake passports and a large quantity of
condoms and birth control pills, leading to suspicion that the women
were planning to work in Thailand as prostitutes.
Preecha said the hide-outs were temporary shelters for illegal Myanmar
migrants before they went on to Bangkok to look for work.
Mae Sot is 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of Bangkok.
Over the past year, Thailand has cracked down on the estimated 1
million illegal migrants who have come from poorer neighboring
countries, especially Myanmar, to find work.
Tens of thousands of Myanmar nationals have been deported but many have
returned, tempted by the 60 baht (dlrs 1.40) daily wage paid on farms
and factories in Thailand, three times what they can earn for manual
work in military-run Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Migrants can earn twice as much as in Bangkok as they do at the
Thai-Myanmar border, but still far less than the Thai minimum wage of
162 baht (dlrs 3.77).
AP: Thai, Myanmar forces join hands to sweep no man's-land islet
Jan. 18, 2001
MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) _ In a rare show of cooperation, Thai and Myanmar
security forces on Thursday supervised the destruction of shelters and
foliage on an islet that they say is being used as a staging ground for
The islet forms a no man's-land between the two countries. It is
located near the Thai-Myanmar friendship bridge that links the Thai city
of Mae Sot, 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of Bangkok, with the
Myanmar town of Myawaddy.
Thai officials have said that the 7.2-acres (1.48 hectare) islet in the
Moei River was being used to hide drugs, smuggled cigarettes and liquor
and criminals, and that activities illegal in Thailand such as gambling
took place there.
Thai officials said the sweep of the islet was their first joint
operation with Myanmar and symbolized their friendly relations.
Traditionally, on-the-ground relations between the two nations' forces
have been cool.
Thursday's action came two days after members of a small but
high-profile Myanmar ethnic rebel group surrendered to Thai authorities.
The activities of the God's Army group, led by adolescent twin boys
believed by their followers to have mystic powers, had earned the enmity
of both nations' militaries.
One hundred Myanmar civilians and 100 Thai civilians, joined by 60 Thai
soldiers and Border Patrol Police, knocked down shelters and destroyed
vegetation in the islet which could be used as hiding places.
Dozens of people were seen crossing over to Myanmar from the islet
The sweep was commanded by Myawaddy governor, Capt. Aung Myint, and the
Thai military commander for the area, Col. Chainarong Thanaroon.
``Since it is owned by both countries, there should be no houses on the
islet. It must be a real no man's-land,'' said Chainarong.
At the end of November last year, about 50 Thai Border Patrol Police
raided the islet without cooperation from Myanmar, arresting one Thai
man and five Myanmar citizens. Myanmar soldiers fired several gunshots
toward the Thai shore after the raid.
A spokesman for the Myanmar government said at the time that its
soldiers had fired warning shots after the Thais shot into the air and
intruded onto Myanmar territory.
Historically, the border between Thailand and Myanmar _ also known as
Burma _ has been tense, in large part because ethnic rebel forces
opposed to Myanmar's central government operate there.
Depending upon the prevailing political winds, the Thai military has
tended to turn a blind eye to the rebels using Thai territory.
Myanmar's government also believes camps on Thai soil housing 100,000
refugees are used as support bases for the rebels.
SOAS: Professor Ian Brown - Inaugural lecture at SOAS- "Eyes wide shut:
British colonial officials and the Burmese cultivator."
School of Oriental and African Studies
Jan. 18, 2001
Open Inaugural Lecture to be given by Professor Ian Brown, Professor of
the Economic History of South East Asia in the University of London
"Eyes wide shut: British colonial officials and the Burmese
Chair: Professor C D Cowan, CBE
5:00pm, Wdnesday 7 February 2001
Lecture Theatre, Brunei Gallery, SOAS
School of Oriental and African Studies
Thornhaugh St, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
SOAS can be reached easily from Russell Square, Goodge St, Euston,
Euston Square and Tottenham Court Rd underground stations. Enquiries to
(020) 7898 4075.
Business Times (Malaysia): Unseen hand in new Yangon hopes
January 16, 2001
THE tune they sing for Myanmar is changing. With "secret" talks already
under way between the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the
country's military Government, hopes are soaring for Myanmar to return
to democracy and economic progress. The International Labour
Organisation (ILO), which only last November called on its members to
review their ties with Myanmar over the issue of forced labour, a move
which threatened to increase the sanctions load that has already helped
cripple the economy, seems to have softened its stand, saying that it
believes Myanmar will eliminate forced labour this year.
For Malaysia, a friend of Myanmar, this is a long-awaited good news. For
the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean), too, it is a
development that augurs well for its membership (Myanmar joined Asean in
1997). Although economically backward, Myanmar has the potential to
rejoin the region's economic mainstream. Myanmar provides a fresh market
for various Asean products, even though it not a rich one. Myanmar is
also a potential source of labour for its more developed neigbours and
Malaysia is one of those considering the possibility of bringing in
workers from that country to meet its growing labour needs. To prosper a
relatively poor neighbour is to prosper all Asean economies.
Equally important is the security situation in Myanmar. A Myanmar
threatened by political instability will jeopardise the region's own
stability. With Indonesia still rather fragile after the political chaos
resulting from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, a volatile Myanmar will
put the region in an even more precarious position. The willingness of
NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military Government to sit down
together to discuss the future of the country is very crucial. Even the
All Burma Students' Democratic Front, exiled opponents of the Myanmar
military, has hailed the talks, calling them a "truly historic
breakthrough after 12 years of struggle". There is finally hope that the
opposing parties in Myanmar will be able "to begin to overcome the major
problems of civil war and bring about democratisation. This will start
the process of healing and reconciliation". The front said this was the
"the most positive sign we've seen since the general election held in
What's a little irritating is the fact that not much credit has gone
Asean's way in helping pave the way for the talks. No mention of
Malaysia's role in persuading the Myanmar military Government to open
its doors to talks with Suu Kyi (Tan Sri Razali Ismail, a major figure
in getting the "secret" talks to take place, is referred to only as
United Nations special envoy to Myanmar). As it is, the foreign news
reports tend to attribute the latest development in Myanmar to the
relentless pressure applied by the European Union, including imposing a
travel ban to Europe on Myanmar's officials. The ILO will also want
credit for putting the pressure on Yangon about forced labour last
How much of it is because of Asean's "consultative engagement" approach
with regards to the Myanmar issue? How much of the decision by the
military Government and Suu Kyi's NLD was influenced by the diplomacy of
Asean and its economic partners in Asia like Japan, China and South
Korea? And how much of it is owed to the simple fact that Razali is a
one country that has continued to support the economic development of
Myanmar with various bilateral cooperation initiatives and its political
standing by supporting Yangon's inclusion in Asean? Wherever the talks
between Suu Kyi and the military Government in Myanmar leads, there is
every reason to restore faith in the approach and strategy that Asean
members have applied all these years in dealing with the challenge posed
International Herald Tribune : Try Compromising With Rangoon
Jan. 18, 2001
David I. Steinberg
RANGOON Encouraged by mediation from the United Nations and Malaysia, a
quiet dialogue between the military junta in Burma, which calls itself
the State Peace and Development Council, and the opposition National
League for Democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been taking place
in a shroud of secrecy since October. Where the talks will go is
unclear, but they are potentially important.
Although many analysts in Burma and abroad remain skeptical that
political progress is assured, there is a widespread recognition that
the stalemate must be broken. Burma needs an infusion of foreign
investment and aid for an economy that has faltered. This is
increasingly apparent even to apologists of the military regime.
The currency system is weak, reflecting a lack of economic faith in the
government. One former Burmese official quipped that the government does
not have the money to buy the ink to print the money. Politics in Burma
leads economics, and thus political progress could be a precursor to
U.S. Burma policy under the Clinton administration largely focused on
human rights concerns. These will be quite low on the list of priorities
of a Bush administration. As a result, it is timely to consider what
changes might be made and under what conditions.
A ban on new U.S. investment in Burma is in place; U.S. visas for
high-level Burmese officials are denied; there is no American ambassador
in Rangoon, although the embassy operates under a chargé. U.S. policy
has been personalized. It is the product of a close relationship between
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and outgoing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Now is an opportune time for a set of mutual actions that could lead to
better relations between the United States and the European Union on the
one hand and Rangoon on the other. It is ironic that as the world
welcomes the new dialogue in Burma, talks with ranking Burmese officials
cannot take place in the United States because visas are refused. The
absence of a U.S. ambassador in Rangoon impedes diplomatic processes.
Imposing sanctions because of political repression and human rights
abuses has increasingly come under question, given the far less rigid
U.S. approach to North Korea, China and Vietnam, all of which have major
problems with political and civil rights. There are other U.S. interests
at stake in Burma relating to its important strategic location between
China, India and Southeast Asia, and social concerns such as AIDS and
the drugs that emanate from its territory.
If the Bush administration is to alter its policies on Burma, there
needs to be some convincing change within the country, otherwise the
Congress in Washington will balk. Still, the new administration should
be considering what steps might be taken, when and how, and what quid
pro quos would be both feasible and appropriate.
As the United States calls for flexibility on the part of the junta and
the opposition in Burma, it should be ready to respond with compromise
of its own.
The writer, director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University in
Washington, contributed this comment to the International Herald
European Commission call for proposals re. "European Initiative for
Democracy and Human Rights" (EIDHR)
Jan. 18, 2001
The European Commission has today issued its call for proposals for
projects to be funded by the "European Initiative for Democracy and
Human Rights" (EIDHR), which was formerly known as the Phare and Tacis
Democracy Programme. The programme now covers all regions of the world
outside Western Europe, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Projects must be for a miminum budget of 300 000 EURO, and may last a
maximum of 36 months. Local organisations can be funded up to 100%,
others will receive up to 80%. The deadline for proposals is 19 March at
16h00, and applicants should (theoretically) be notified of the results
Projects will be selected only if they fall into one of the 10 priority
categories the Commission has drawn up. Priorities vary from one
geographical region to another. For this reason applicants should
consult carefully the guidelines for applicants, which lists the ten
themes and geographical regions to which they apply.
The announcement, guidelines, and other relevant documents can be found
at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/scr/cgi/frame12.pl. To get to the
announcement you must select "OTHER" on the left hand side of the
screen, then select "open" under the heading "Status", then select
"grants" under the heading "Type", and finally click on "submit query".
The call for proposals itself is entitled "European Initiative for
Democracy and Human Rights", and is at the bottom of the page.
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