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BurmaNet News: January 24, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: January 24, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 07:53:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
January 24, 2001 Issue # 1718
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*The Nation: Junta Admits Aids a Scourge
*Shan Herald Agency for News: The Wa invasion--Wa force expanding
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Shan priming for another attack of border
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Non-Burman front revived amid dialogue
*Time: Little Lords Of The Jungle; Two kiddie guerrillas leave the
battlefield for their mom's arms. But who really called the shots?
*Bangkok Post: Wife 0f Khun Sa Faces Charges in the US
*Mizzima: Nasaka on Indo-Burma border
*Xinhua: Myanmar Rohingya Separatist Leaders Remanded in Bangladesh
*Times of India: Bangla, Myanmar border talks collapse
*Foreign Report: India and China eye Burma
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
The Nation: Junta Admits Aids a Scourge
Wednesday, January 24, 2001
RANGOON - A senior military leader in Burma has acknowledged in a
published article for the first time that HIV/Aids poses a threat to his
country, official sources disclosed yesterday.
"HIV, Aids. It's a national cause. If we ignore it, it will be the
scourge that will destroy entire nations," said the junta's First
Secretary Lt General Khin Nyunt in an interview with the Myanmar Times.
Khin Nyunt's statement was in stark contrast to his remarks in Oetober
1999, when he claimed the Aids scare was being used by the junta's
political enemies to "attack" Burma.
Burma's ruling military regime has been widely criticised for its stance
of "denial" about the spread of HIV/Aids, especially in its border areas
where drug abuse and prostitution are common. While the UN Aids
programme has estimated that more than 440.000 people in Burma have the
virus, the government's estimate is close to 25,000.
Khin Nyunt, in his interview, acknowledged that the government had faced
problems in getting an anti-Aids programme going.
"We are a very conservative, religious society, and it was rather
against our culture to put condoms on show as a means of prevention,"
Khin Nyunt said. However, he added that recently the Health Ministry had
taken a more enlightened approach in making villagers aware of HIV.
And in what appeared to be an appeal for more aid, Khin Nyunt said: "To
be frank, monitoring infected cases is difficult. We have no means of
getting exact data on how many cases there are. To test each person
would cost around US$2 [Bt86], and we really can't afford it."
The interview was published at a time when the junta had reportedly
initiated talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National
League for Democracy party.
Shan Herald Agency for News: The Wa invasion--Wa force expanding
24 January 2001
A source close to the United Wa State Army told S.H.A.N. yesterday the
Wa division that has been taking over border security from Rangoon
forces since late last year is recruiting from the resettlers coming
from the north.
Division 171, commanded by Wei Hsiaokang, has already added two new
battalions to its original 6 during the last few months, and is due to
add another 7 during the year 2001, said the source. (A Wa battalion,
he said, is about 250 strong).
New men are expected to be recruited from both the locals and the
resettlers, roughly half of the targeted 50,000 households of whom have
already arrived in Monghsat and Mongton townships, opposite Chiangmai
and Chiangrai provinces. As for officers, graduates from Wei's school
at Command Post 46 (near Monghsat) would be selected.
"Wei does not trust men and officers from other units in the south, such
as Division 214 of Ta Palong and Special Force of Wei Hsaitang," he
Wei Hsiaokang, who is among both Thailand and the United States' wanted
list on drug charges, has left the day -to-day work in the division to
his younger brother, Wei Hsiaoying a.k.a. Sophol Jandi, whom Thailand
has also issued an arrest warrant since 1984.
Division 171, formerly Division 525, was formed out of former Wa
fighters in the Kuomingtang forces and became part of the UWSA in 1989,
following Wa mutiny against ruling Communist Party of Burma. Although
its nominal commander and "Political Commissar of Southern Wa" was Ai
Hsiao-xi, Wei Hsiaokang was already handling the real job since then,
according to several sources.
Pao Yuyi, elder brother to Pao Yuqiang, present Wa leader, succeeded Ai
later. But he has not been successful in handling Wei Hsiaokang and his
rival, Wei Hsaitang. Panghsang, the Wa capital, next tried to straighten
things out by summoning Wei Hsiaokang to the north who refused.
"Considering everything, Yawdserk's peace initiative will be at best a
trying job until Panghsang has put its house in order," he concluded.
Yawdserk, Commander of the Shan State Army, whose area in control
opposite Chiangmai and Maehongson provinces has been encroached by Wa
since December, is trying to work out a deal acceptable to both sides,
according to SSA sources.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Shan priming for another attack of border
24 January 2001
Reports from two different sources from the border indicate that junta
units are beefing up defenses against possible attack by Shan State Army
Since last week, hills both inside and around Tachilek, opposite Maesai
(Chiangrai Province), have been occupied by junta troops and hilltribes
militiamen. "Even the two hills where Pupanya and little Shwedagon
pagodas reside are not spared," said a source.
The road along the Maesai river that divides the two countries are also
being patrolled at night. Agents in Maesai have also been busy probing
people about the 900-strong Kengtung Front, the local SSA unit, and its
commander, Lt-Col. Kornzuen a.k.a. Kham.
Kornzuen however could not be reached for comment. He is believed to be
with his troops opposite Mae Faluang District, Chiangrai Province.
Tachilek has already been raided twice during the past two decades: the
first time by Sao Yawdfah a.k.a. M.R. Priwat Kasemsri and his Tai
Independence Army on 1 January 1980 and the second time by Kornzuen
himself on 20 March 1995.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Non-Burman front revived amid dialogue
20 January 2001
A 4 day meeting on the Thai border ended yesterday with the resurrection
of a non-Burman united front quashed by Rangoon ten years ago.
The United Nationalities League for Democracy, an umbrella organization
for non-Burman political parties formed in the wake of the 1988
uprisings, was brought back to life by the exiled politicians after its
draft constitution was ratified and executive members were elected.
Khun Markoban, (M.P. Faikhun, Shan State) and Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong,
(Gen. Secretary, Chin National League for Democracy), dubbed
respectively as the "real Chairman" and "real General Secretary" of the
UNLD (Liberated Area), were reported to be the prime movers of the
inaugural congress (The UNLD only have presidium members and
Other well-known members of the UNLD (LA) are Daniel Aung (M.P.,
Mongpiang, Shan State), Lian Uk (M.P., Chin State), Dr. Zalei Htang
(M.P., CNLD, Chin State) and U Tha No (M.P., Arakan League for
The revival of the UNLD came at a time when reports of dialogue between
Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained Nobel laureate and leader of the National
League for Democracy, and junta leaders were dominating the news
One of the UNLD aims is to work for the realization of a Tripartite
Dialouge i.e. not only between the junta and the Burman-dominated
democratic movement but also with the non-Burmans who have been on the
struggle for their rights since 1948, the year Burma was granted
Independence by the departing British.
Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, "conscripted" patron of the UNLD (LA), said, "The
Union of Burma came into being because of Panglong (where Burman and
non-Burman leaders signed a treaty in 1947 "to fight for joint
independence and form a union of equal partners, as Khun Markoban put
it). It can only be preserved if the Spirit of Panglong is upheld by
all those concerned."
The Union is made up of Arakan (Rakhaing) Burma Proper, Chin, Kachin,
Karen, Karenni (Kayah), Mon and Shan states.
The UNLD maintains that Democracy and Rights of the Nationalities are
inseparable "like head and tail of the same coin". Khun Markoban, during
his address, likened them to two wheels attached to a vehicle. "They
must be given equal importance in order to move the whole country
forward," he said.
On ongoing dialogue in Rangoon
Participants in the meeting agreed that the reported dialogue between
generals in Rangoon and Aung San Suu Kyi did not come about because "the
junta is facing a crisis and not necessarily through its good will".
Concern was also expressed because the dialogue has yet to go any
further then "bipartite".
One participated, however, pointed out that had the two sides agreed to
convene a free and fair Constitution Drafting Assembly, the need for a
tripartite dialogue would not have been much.
One other concern was the possible emergence of an interim coalition
government between the NLD and the SPDC without consultation with the
The role of the UNLD, that is allied to both the NLD and the Shan
Nationalities League for Democracy led by Khun Htoon Oo, who is regarded
by most Shan groups as their leader and other non-Burman parties as
their spokesperson, at this period therefore was considered crucial by
An official statement however has yet to appear.
Time: Little Lords Of The Jungle; Two kiddie guerrillas leave the
battlefield for their mom's arms. But who really called the shots?
January 29, 2001
To the Karen, they were deities. To the Thais, they were demons. But
when they staggered down from the mountains of Burma (now known as
Myanmar) at dusk last Tuesday, Johnny and Luther Htoo bore neither
miracles nor M-16s, just Bibles in their knapsacks. The tiny teenage
twins and leaders of the mysterious rebel force known as God's Army
approached a company of Thai soldiers and asked for sanctuary. Whisked
to a police compound in the nearby town of Suan Phung, they soon found
themselves exchanging bewildered stares with Prime Minister Chuan
Leekpai and a dozen of Thailand's top generals. As Chuan inspected his
prizes, he gently stroked the boys' lice-ridden locks. "He totally
demystified them," says Sunai Phasuk, of Forum Asia, a human-rights
group. In Thailand, where people still crawl before royalty, "you don't
pat a god on the head."
God's Army shot to prominence almost a year ago when 10 rebels from the
group's camp stormed a hospital in the Thai town of Ratchaburi, taking
500 patients and staff members hostage. They were demanding that the
Thai military stop shelling their mountain and that doctors treat their
wounded. Witnesses said Thai commandos executed the 10 after they
surrendered. The bloodshed briefly focused the world's attention on the
strange tales seeping from the Burmese jungle. Although the
rifle-toting, 12-year-old leaders had never ventured more than a few
miles from their base on Kersay Doh, or God's Mountain, their photos
flashed around the world. The two became instant objects of fascination
and fear. Johnny and Luther had long been legends, however, in the hills
of Burma and the refugee camps in Thailand.
The Karen have been fighting for independence from military dictators in
Rangoon for a half-century; by 1997 their rebellion was near collapse.
Most Karen fighters fled, but not Johnny and Luther. Leading a
half-dozen rebels, the stories go, they beat back entire companies of
Burmese soldiers. Their followers swore they had magic powers and were
impervious to bullets. For a desperate people, the boys became messiahs.
At the police station, they seemed anything but saviors. Shorn of their
weapons and fatigues, they appeared to be scrawny, stunted children
smoking Thai cigarettes and munching on shortbread cookies. So what were
"They're just kids," said General Surayud Chulanont, commander in chief
of the Thai army, after meeting them. "We think they may have been used
as fronts by older rebels." But at least one Karen elder gives them
credit. "They really did defeat the Burmese with just a handful of men,"
he says. Karen Christian priests, who also had frequent contact with
God's Army, confirmed the twins' exploits. If the boys were natural-born
fighters, it was clearly in the interests of their band to elevate them
to something more.
It was Surayud who ensnared the boys, engaging a group of Karen elders
to persuade God's Army to talk to the government, slowly building
contacts between the two sides. The strategy seemed to be working, until
New Year's Eve when the rebels got into a dispute with a group of
drunken Thai villagers and opened fire. The slaying of the six Thais was
the death knell for God's Army. The Thai public demanded retribution. A
combined force of soldiers, police and border-patrol units cut off the
rebels' supply routes to Thailand, hoping to starve them out. Though the
guerrillas managed to slip through the net, hunting deer and monkeys for
food, the mood among them had changed. A Burmese army unit was less than
three miles away, suggesting that the government in Rangoon might be
planning to hit the Karen hard. The noose was tightening. The rebels did
not want to be killed by the Burmese but did not know whether to trust
the Thais. With coaxing from the elders, the boys decided to try. The
slow walk to Thailand, however, was a long leap of faith.
Johnny and Luther will most probably be allowed to live with their
mother, who has been residing in a Thai refugee camp, Thai authorities
said. Meanwhile, not all of God's Army have been cast down from the
mountain. About 30 rebels still roam the jungle. Refugees still walk
over the border and hide in Burma's forests, fleeing Rangoon's soldiers.
Some Karen refuse to believe the twins are finished. They say the boys
will grow strong again and return to vanquish their foes. The Karen are
a people still in need of a savior. And so in the mist-covered mountains
of the Thai-Burma border, many will be praying for the second coming of
Johnny and Luther Htoo.
OUT OF THE WOODS?
GODS OR FACADES? Thai officials suspect the boys were a front for older
commanders. The kids were still assertive. Luther cold-cocked one of the
soldiers, bloodying his nose
CROWDED LAND Thailand is home to 100,000 Karen refugees, including the
NEW LIFE The Thai district chief caring for the boys says what they need
now is anti-lice shampoo. He has also asked them to cut down on their
Bangkok Post: Wife 0f Khun Sa Faces Charges in the US
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2001
Prosectors are awaiting a request from the US to extradite one of Khun
Sa's minor wives to stand trial on drug charges.
Peng Hui Lan, 54, and five others were arrested at a hotel on Sukhumvit
road on Friday for possessing 1.4kg of heroin. They are also wanted in
the US in connection with a shipment of 57kg of heroin to New York.
Chullasing Wasantasing, director for international affairs, said the US
had not yet contacted the office of the AttorneyGeneral's international
affairs bureau about extraditing Mrs Peng.
Anti-drug police must put in a report to prosecutors who will then ask
the Criminal Court to order the suspect detained. They would carry on
gathering evidence before filing a lawsuit seeking extradition within 60
days, he said.
The US government submits its extradition request through diplomatic
channels. An extradition request for Yang Wan Hsuan, or Lao Tai, former
secretary to Khun Sa, is also awaited.
Mizzima: Nasaka on Indo-Burma border
Moreh, Manipur, January 24, 2001
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
The Nasaka, a border control unit composed of personnel from army,
police, immigration, customs, and intelligence, has now come to the
Indo-Burma border and the previously stationed customs and immigration
forces at Tamu-Moreh border are being replaced with the Nasaka.
Since the beginning of this month, the Nasaka forces have been put into
work at the border trade-gates No. 1 and No. 2. There are at present
about 40 Nasakas at Tamu only.
The Nasaka have been active in the Thai-Burma border and
Bangladesh-Burma border areas for sometimes. In Bangladesh-Burma border,
its headquarters is situated at Maung Daw township in Arakan State and
they work not only along the land border but also in the Bay of Bengal.
Xinhua: Myanmar Rohingya Separatist Leaders Remanded in Bangladesh
DHAKA, January 24 (Xinhua) -- A court in Bangladesh's southeast Cox's
Bazar region put two Rohingya separatists leaders arrested in Chittagong
on Sunday night on ten-day police remand for interrogation, said reports
reached here Wednesday. Police also sealed two houses in Chittagong,
suspected to have been used by the Rohingya guerrillas fighting for
establishing a separate state in Arakan Province of Myanmar. The move
followed arrest of the chief of military staff of the guerrillas and his
Police also recovered foreign currencies and important documents,
photographs, including one of Salimullah, chief of staff of the Arakan
Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), with Libyan leader Moammar
Gaddafi. Meanwhile, police have launched a hunt for other Rohingya
militant leaders, who had supposedly operated from Chandgaon base in
Chittagong for several years. According to police, ARNO is an alliance
of extremist fundamentalist groups of Myanmar, including of Rohingya
Solidarity Organization (RSO), National United Party of Arakan (NUPA),
fighting for the independence of Arakan from Myanmar.
Police said Sunday's raid followed an operation launched on August 29
last year by a joint team of police, Bangladesh border guard and
magistrate to trace a hideout atop the 700-foot Jumusia hill at Cox's
Bazar. In that operation, two Rohingya militants, including the camp
commander Abu Yasir, were arrested along with uniforms and some
important documents while others fled. In course of investigation,
Palit, a police officer, said he found out that the militant leaders
were running arms trade from their bases in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar,
to raise funds for the Arakan liberation movement. The reports said the
Rohingya militants have set up training camps in deep forest along the
Bangladesh-Myanmar border at Bandarban point. Myanmar often charges
Bangladesh of aiding the Rohingya guerrillas.
Dhaka, however, rejects the charge. In 1991, alleged repressions by
Myanmar authorities on the Rohingya Muslims drove nearly 100,000
families to take refuge in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar. Later, Yangon took
back most of the Rohingya refugees in phases after intervention of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Times of India: Bangla, Myanmar border talks collapse
Jan. 22, 2001
by Ershadul Huq
DHAKA: Talks between the border security force commanders of Bangladesh
and Myanmar have collapsed over Myanmar's refusal to sign the minutes of
a flag meeting that took place over the weekend.
Media reports of the flag meeting between the commander of paramilitary
Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the commander of Myanmar's "Nasaka" border
security force reaching here said the Myanmar side displayed a
"bellicose attitude" and refused to sign the proceedings of the meeting.
The meeting was held on Sunday at Maungdau in Myanmar.
The reports said the Myanmar delegation led by Commander U.Kyaw Sanhala
had suggested that they would repair the damaged parts of an embankment
running along the river Naf, which divides the two nations, to defuse
border-related tensions. BDR Commander Lt. Colonel Rafiqur Rahman
Bhuyian, who led the 11-member Bangladesh team to the talks, rejected
the proposal, saying the embankment was constructed in flagrant
violation of the border treaty between the two countries and further
construction or repair of it would not be allowed.
According to the reports, this led to the Myanmar side leaving the
meeting abruptly. A Myanmar proposal to form a Joint Survey Commission
(JSC) to defuse border tensions was also left hanging in the balance
because of the failed talks.
It was not known till Sunday whether the JSC would be formed, but
foreign ministry sources here said the JSC would be formed at the "local
command level," involving the border forces of the two countries.
Meanwhile, reports from Myanmar say that two light infantry regiments
have been deployed at forward positions, some 500 yards from the
Bangladesh border. About 15,000 regular troops have also been stationed
near the border with Bangladesh. (IANS)
Foreign Report: India and China eye Burma
A publication of Jane's Information Group
January 25, 2001
IS INDIA trying to blunt Chinese influence in Burma? It certainly looks
that way. Just before Christmas, General Maung Aye, the number two in
the country's military junta, recently renamed the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), and one of the men responsible for crushing
its pro-democracy movement, arrived in India for a week long trip. His
visit followed one by the country's interior minister, Tin Hlaing, and
was the first exchange at the higher political level between the two
neighbours since 1987, when the late Indian prime minister, Rajiv
Gandhi, went to Rangoon. Maung, in an attempt to allay fears about
growing Chinese military influence in Burma, said at the time: "My
country will not be used as a military base by any power against India."
There have been many changes since then.
India and Burma have close cultural, religious, economic and trade ties.
Both were ruled by the British. However, during the post- independence
period, ties between the two weakened as Burma slipped
into isolation under the rule of General Ne Win. Relations were dealt a
further blow in 1989, when India denounced Burma's decisions to annul
democratic elections and crush the country's pro-democracy movement.
China quickly moved into the vacuum and improved trade and political
ties with Burma. Much to the Indian government's annoyance, China also
provided military assistance to Burma, helping to upgrade its ports and
building radars on the Cocos islands in the Andaman Sea. To make matters
worse, since 1992, people living on the Burma-India border have been
cultivating and peddling ever larger quantities of drugs.
India's response since 1995 has been to build behind -the-scenes links
of its own with the junta. It was in 1995 that the two countries
launched a joint military operation against several insurgent groups
which had been striking at targets in India from bases in Burma. Cross
border trade, encouraged by both sides, has grown from $13 million to
$196 million since 1980.
Burma asks India for foreign aid
Burma is thought to have sought Indian help in developing its ports and
power projects, such as the Tamanthi dam project on the Kaladan river.
India is also helping to build a road in the border area and is
considering the construction of a highway along the Kaladan river. The
Indians may be generous: they see Burma as a bridge to South-East Asia,
a potentially huge market for Indian exports .
Maung's visit to Delhi suggests to Indian optimists that this strategy
is paying dividends. They should think again. India can only hope to
stem the flow of Chinese aid to Burma by throwing in more aid of its
own. But that will go down badly in the United States and the European
Union, where many people support the detained opposition leader, Aung
San Suu Kyi.
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