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BurmaNet News: January 24, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         January 24, 2001   Issue # 1718
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*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

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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

Reporter: Hawk

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

Reporter: Moengzay

Reports from two different sources from the border indicate that junta  
units are beefing up defenses against possible attack by Shan State Army 
of  Yawdserk.

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 
secretariat members.) 

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.

Related News

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 
the  participants.

An official statement however has yet to appear.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

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 

Robert Horn/Ratchaburi 

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 really? 

"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. 


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 
boys' mother 

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


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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