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BurmaNet News: January 18, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         January 18, 2001   Issue # 1714
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*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 
Western-style democracy. 

 ``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 
Ratchaburi province. 

 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 
personal possessions. 

 ``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 
neighboring country..." 

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". 

Refugee camps

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.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

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 
Thai forces. 

 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 
remains uncertain. 


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, 
surrendered Wednesday. 

 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 
January 2000.


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 
reporters Wednesday. 

 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,'' 
he said. 

 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 
long process.'' 

 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 
secretariat. ^vj< 


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 
by Myanmar. 


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 
economic reforms.
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 
in July. 

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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