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BurmaNet News: February 17, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: February 17, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 08:14:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
February 17, 2001 Issue # 1738
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*DVB: Defence chief orders combat readiness along Thai border
*Bangkok Post: : Junta calls for right to strike Shan: Talks fail amid
rival compensation claims
*Bangkok Post: Shan to invite in aid agencies
*Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, Arakan: Anti- Muslim riot spread to
all parts of Arakan
*This is Bradford (UK): Ex-missionary returns to Burma to find little
*Agence France Presse : Thai army may bring in top brass to resolve
Myanmar border tensions
*Xinhua: Thai Military Ready for Combat If Border Talks Fail: Commander
*Economic Times (India): Sauce for Myanmar can't be sauce for Pak:
*The New York Times: Visit by High Indian Minister Warms Ties With
*Free Burma Coalition: LSE Students Pioneer Free Burma Resolution
*The Independent (Bangladesh): BIMSTEC confce begins in Yangon
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
DVB: Defence chief orders combat readiness along Thai border
Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 15 Feb 01
The commander in chief of the defence services has ordered all SPDC
[State Peace and Development Council] army, navy, and air force troops
along the Burma-Thai border to be on full combat ready status.
Long-range heavy artillery pieces have been sent to the camps along the
border. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Myint Maung Maung
filed this report on the SPDC's preparation for military operations.
[Myint Maung Maung] The military alert has been in place since 24
January when a Thai jet fighter intruded Burmese air space and flew over
Bokpyin Township and Kawthaung. After recent clashes at Tachilek and Mae
Sai [in Thailand] the SPDC has supplied long-range heavy artillery
pieces to camps spread along the border with Thailand. More troops are
being sent to the border areas as reinforcements. Rangoon has also sent
new military hardware by boat to Zadetgyi island naval base on 13
February. Battalions positioned along the border have been ordered to
report to the respective Tactical Operations Command every hour while
the War Office in Rangoon is directly controlling all military
operations along the border. The Thai side is also cautiously evaluating
the situation and Thai warships and naval vessels are patrolling the sea
offshore from Ranong. The Thai Border Patrol Police are also reported to
be in combat readiness.
Bangkok Post: : Junta calls for right to strike Shan: Talks fail amid
rival compensation claims
February 16, 2001
Tension heightened along the northern border yesterday as Thailand and
Burma failed to reach any agreement in talks.
Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, the Third Army commander, ordered
nearly 100 more armoured cars to deploy along the border from Mae Sai to
Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai and Pang Ma Pha district, Mae Hong
Son. He expects Burmese troops to launch an assault on Shan State Army
The armour will reinforce Scorpion and Stingray light tanks from cavalry
bases in Chiang Mai and Phetchabun.
ACM Pong Maneesilp, the air force commander, said fighters and
reconnaissance aircraft have been on stand-by at Wing 41, Chiang Mai.
F-5 jets at Wing 4, Nakhon Sawan, and F-16s at Wing 1, Nakhon
Ratchasima, were also on full alert after Gen Sampao Chusri, the supreme
commander, ordered the three armed forces chiefs at yesterday's meeting
to keep their troops in position.
Decisive military action would be taken in case of intrusion, he said.
The meeting of the township border committee was held both in Burma and
Thailand yesterday after the two sides could not agree on a specific
venue. The first meeting was held in Tachilek and the second in Mae Sai.
Thai negotiators were led by Maj-Gen Tawat Jaruklat, commander of the
Chiang Rai Military Circle, while the Burmese were led by Lt-Col Aye
Sources said at the meetings Burma asked to use the Thai base at Ban
Pang Noon in Chiang Rai's Mae Fah Luang district as a springboard to
attack the Shan.
He said troops had to capture the base as it served as a vantage point
for an effective military offensive. He denied Burmese troops had fired
on a Thai army helicopter over Doi Lang in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district.
Burma also said an area called Phu Teng Nayong in Mae Sai district
belonged to it and it had the right to send troops to that area.
It was Thai soldiers who first attacked Burmese soldiers so Thailand
must compensate for the loss of lives and properties to Burma, said
The Thai side turned down Burmese proposals, especially the one for
Burma to use the base at Ban Pang Noon for an onslaught on the rebels.
The Thai side, in return, proposed that Burma stop violating Thai
sovereignty and compensate for the deaths of villagers inflicted by the
Burmese shellings of Mae Sai last Sunday and for the damage made to the
army helicopter over Doi Lang.
Thai negotiators insisted no-one would be allowed to use Thai soil to
attack others and proposed that Phu Teng Nayong area in Mae Sai be a
demilitarised zone pending border demarcation.
The Thai side also asked to make corrections to an agreement signed by
the Thai soldiers by mistake during talks on Saturday.
Subin Khuenkaew and Wassana Nanuam
Bangkok Post: Shan to invite in aid agencies
February 16, 2001
The Shan State Army is willing to open the area it controls to
international aid agencies to help combat the production of illicit
drugs in Burma.
Col Yod Suek, chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State, said it
was the SSA's policy to end drug production and fight for independence
from the Burmese junta.
The state was ready to let in foreign aid to help combat drugs, which
posed a serious threat to the Shan people.
He rejected as groundless Rangoon's allegations that Thailand was
backing the SSA in its fight.
"It's our policy to suppress drugs. Thailand is not involved in our drug
crackdown or in our fight against Burma. It's our prime duty to fight
for greater autonomy," he said.
Col Yod Suek was speaking at the SSA's Doi Kaw Wan base, across the
border from Mae Moh village in Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai.
Weapons seized from Burmese troops in recent clashes were displayed.
"We are confident that we will enjoy greater autonomy some day. We are
now equipped with weapons stockpiles. We also do hope that the world
community will not isolate us," said Col Yod Suek.
He denied he was on a US drug blacklist. This was an allegation made up
by Rangoon, he said.
Shan efforts to fight drugs along the the border opposite Mae Fah Luang
district had disrupted trafficking in the area and the operations of the
Burmese military and its ally, the United Wa State Army.
"International countries should join forces to combat drugs. "The SSA
has asked the United Nations to look into the problem," said Col Yod
He denied the Burmese junta's allegation that the SSA had provoked
cross-border fighting between Thai soldiers and Burmese forces.
The Burmese planned to create problems with Thailand, he said.
Subin Khuenkaew and Wassana Nanuam
Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, Arakan: Anti- Muslim riot spread to
all parts of Arakan
February 16, 2001
The anti-Muslim riot that broke out at Akyab on 4th February has now
spread to other parts of Arakan, According to reliable information
received by phone from Rangoon, the rioting took heavy toll of lives,
destruction of properties and sacrilege of places of religious worship
in the town to Rathidaung, Mrohaung, Kyawktaw, Minbya, Ponnagyun and
Myebon in north Arakan and Kyawkpyu, Man Aung (Chedube) Sandaway in
Southern Arakan. Contrary to the claim of the Burmese junta that the
riot has been controlled, it is continuing in three places till today.
In the capital city of Akyab as many as 800 people have been killed,
over 2000 injured and several hundred remained missing who are mostly
students of Akyab Degree College staying in dormitories in the centre of
the city where the riot started.
A total of six Muslim quarters viz. Molvipara, Amlapara, Rohingyapara,
Kawshypara, Nazirpara, and Sakkibazarpara have been burnt to ashes -
with total destruction of over 2000 houses, shops, hotels and other
business installation. Six mosques have also been completely burnt down.
The extent of damage, destruction and losses of lives in other towns is
yet to be ascertained. However according to reliable sources at least 15
people have been killed and more than 30 houses have been burnt down in
Rathidaung township, some 50-km north Arakan. Although the rioting has
now stopped in Akyab after enforcement of curfew, the plight of the
affected people are very serious and deplorable. While thousands of
injured people are mostly lying unattended in government hospitals for
shortage of facilities, medicines and equipments others are sleeping
under open sky without receiving any relief material from any quarter.It
has been clearly unmasked that ruling military junta had its hands
behind the recent anti-Muslim riot of Arakan.
The incident had been pre-planned, motivated and engineered by
intelligence agencies of the junta in collaboration with
anti-Muslim/Buddhist fanatics. The scheme is part of the ongoing
extermination and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan by
the military junta. It is presumed that the junta, encouraged by recent
anti-Rohingya crackdown in Bangladesh and media vilification campaign
against Rohingya resistance groups, had carried out such heinous crimes
taking it for granted that the Bangladesh government would not interfere
in any anti-Rohingya scheme inside Arakan. We earnestly appeal to UN
Human Rights Commission, International Human rights Organisations,
Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Peace loving countries of
the world, particularly the government of Bangladesh, to take note of
the serious situation in Arakan and take necessary steps so that the
ongoing carnage against the Muslim is stopped forthwith.
Sheikh Deen Mohammed
Rohingya Solidarity Organisation
This is Bradford (UK): Ex-missionary returns to Burma to find little has
February 16, 2001
By Sam Strangeways (author email
A FORMER missionary has made an emotive return journey to the country he
has not revisited for 35 years.
Retired vicar Pat Ryley set out for Burma, where he had made a home for
himself as a missionary for five years.
The 70-year-old, of Ilkley, travelled across the globe to meet his past
after being invited to a special celebration. A Diamond Jubilee
festivity was to be held in the diocese of Sittwe to mark 75 years of
Christianity for the Khumi Chin people.
Mr Ryley hoped to attend the celebrations in the remote settlement of
Paletwa, where he had lived from 1960-1965.
As the area was closed to foreigners, the Bishop of Myanmar worked hard
on his behalf to secure permission for him to enter.
This was eventually denied but Mr Ryley was allowed to attend
festivities in another part of Sittwe.
Mr Ryley said: "The Burmese are quite happy to have tourists. There are
other restrictions - you cannot stay with people you know and you have
to change your money into Burmese currency.
"But I was not aware of any other difficulties when I was there."
Mr Ryley, of Little Lane, said he experienced a sense of homecoming in
the politically troubled land.
He said: "It was like coming home again. I just felt I hadn't left. It
was as if 35 years had disappeared.
"Obviously some things had changed. There were many more cars and a
certain amount of development, but it still seemed like the country I
Mr Ryley, who was a vicar in Kings Lynn before retiring to Ilkley, in
1995, was able to catch up with friends he had not seen for three
decades. Many had travelled more than 100 miles from the forbidden
territory of Paletwa to meet him.
Mr Ryley said: "The bishop I had known as a boy came down with one or
"My wife had our first child in Burma. The girl who helped with the baby
all those years ago came down. It was marvellous."
Mr Ryley says he was also overwhelmed by the growth in Christianity and
the ground-swell in faith, which had occurred since he left.
He said: "There has been terrific growth since I left. That is what I
was hearing all about.
"When I left there were 3,000 Christians. Now there are 13,000. I praise
God for the privilege of sharing in it all."
Agence France Presse : Thai army may bring in top brass to resolve
Myanmar border tensions
BANGKOK, Feb 16
The Thai army said Friday it may draft in its top brass to negotiate
with Myanmar over border clashes that erupted on the weekend, after
initial talks failed to ease tensions.
The Mae Sai-Tachilek checkpoint, which was bombarbed with artillery and
gunfire as the two armies traded fire in a conflict touched off by
warring ethnic rebels, has been shut since Tuesday.
With large troop build-ups on either side, there are fears new fighting
could break out at any time.
"We are still considering upgrading the negotiation team from a township
border committee to a regional border committee," said army spokesman
Colonel Somkuan Sangpattaranetr.
Although Thailand did not anticipate the conflict to escalate into a
full-blown war, its armed forces were at maximum alert, he said.
"Our army commander has reiterated that Thailand is not at fault in this
matter. It was not the first to start hostilities."
The two countries opened their first formal negotiations Thursday with
local-level officials meeting on both sides of the border.
They failed to reach any agreement over compensation or a withdrawal of
forces from the disputed area, but agreed to meet again at an
If the talks are upgraded, the commander of the Third Army which patrols
the region will lead the delegation. It will be the first time in almost
two years that the two sides have met at that level.
Somkuan said the army would keep the important Mae Sai crossing closed
as a tactic to disrupt logistics links for the Myanmar forces and
pressure them to continue with the negotiations.
"Products such as petrol, medicine, food and water are vital to our
neighbouring country and by not receiving these necessities its ability
to reinforce operations around the border has decreased," he said.
In Thursday's talks, both sides set out demands for compensation over
the deaths of three Myanmar nationals and two Thais, as well as
extensive property damage caused when crossfire hit Mae Sai and
The Thai army has also demanded that the disputed Phu Teng Na Yong hill,
a strategic spot to which Myanmar has laid claim, be declared a
Xinhua: Thai Military Ready for Combat If Border Talks Fail: Commander
DATELINE: BANGKOK, February 16
Supreme Commander of Thai Armed Forces Sampao Chusri has said the Royal
Thai Armed Forces wanted to see the Thai-Myanmar border problem end in a
peaceful manner, but reiterated they are ready for combat if the ongoing
talks to ease the tension failed, the Thai News Agency (TNA) reported
Speaking after the meeting of top-brass officers to discuss the border
situation on Thursday, he said commanders of the three armed forces were
told to keep their forces on alert for any untoward incidents.
He pledged the military would make an all-out effort to defend the
country and protect people's lives and property.
On an accusation by Yangon that Thai troops give moral and military
support to the ethnic Shan guerrillas, Sampao said the military had
never backed any ethnic groups in Myanmar.
The Thai government clearly stated in the foreign policy it would not
allow any persons to use Thai territory for actions against their
enemies, he stressed.
So, the Thai troops had expelled Myanmar soldiers whenever the latter
invaded into the Thai frontier, Sampao noted.
"We have tried to talk with Myanmar officials to settle border conflicts
to our utmost. But, if the Myanmar continues to take cross-border
military action as happened in the border town of Mae Sai which killed
two people, we have no choice but to retaliate," said Sampao.
The supreme commander said he believed the border situation would ease
if the incoming government has a clear policy on ways to solve problems
arising along the border of the two countries.
Economic Times (India): Sauce for Myanmar can't be sauce for Pak:
Feb. 17, 2001
INDIA'S expanding ties with Myanmar, j5stified by External Affairs
Minister Jaswant Singh as being in the "national interest," cannot be
replicated in the case of Pakistan, analysts here say.
Although both are under military rule and share land borders with India,
the position of Pakistan is totally different from Myanmar, they said.
Singh, who concluded a threeday visit to Myanmar on Thursday and made
history by being the first high-level Indian dignitary to cross the land
border from Manipur and enter Myanmar, had told journalists in Yangon
that India and Myanmar were joined by land and "cannot be separated." He
also said Yangon was "geo-politically and geo-economically important"
for New Delhi.
Former diplomats and analysts fully justified Singh's statement and said
there could be no comparison between Myanmar and Pakistan.
"Myanmar has been a very friendly government. Its soldiers have shed
their life fighting antiIndian terrorist groups in the northeast. They
are looking forward to expanding economic cooperation with India, both
bilaterally and sub-regionally," said G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian
envoy to both Myanmar and Pakistan.
He noted that Myanmar had also been cooperating with India in other
areas, including prevention of narcotic smuggling. The country also
served as a land bridge from the northeast to markets in Southeast Asia.
"Under these circumstances, there can be no comparison between Myanmar
and Pakistan because Pakistan is a country aiding and abetting
crossborder terrorism, inhibiting development of SAARC (South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation) and regional economic cooperation
and unwilling to have even informal economic relations with us,"
K S Bajpai, a former secretary in the external affairs ministry and
former envoy to a number of countries including the United States, also
fully backed Singh's positive statements on Myanmar and said Pakistan
was a different case altogether, despite the common land border.
"These are two different situations. You have long-term considerations
with Myanmar because it is a strategically vital area for you. People
forget that the last major attempt to invade India was through Myanmar
in World War II," he noted.
Arvind Deo, former diplomat and commentator on South Asian developments,
said unlike Myanmar, Pakistan has been "inclined to destroy India from
the word go and has thrust wars on us." ? IANS
The New York Times: Visit by High Indian Minister Warms Ties With
By CELIA W. DUGGER
NEW DELHI, Feb. 15
Myanmar, ruled by one of the world's most repressive military
governments, welcomed a high-level Indian cabinet minister this week --
the first to visit since the generals set aside the 1990 elections there
and crushed the democracy movement.
India has continued diplomatic and trade relations with Myanmar,
formerly known as Burma, during the last decade, but the last important
official to venture to Myanmar was Rajiv Gandhi, who went there in 1987
when he was prime minister.
The chill between the two nations turned into a warm embrace this week.
Throughout his three-day visit, which ended today, Jaswant Singh,
India's minister of external affairs, or foreign minister, spoke about
the growing partnership between the two nations with an enthusiasm that
was clearly a welcome change for a government that has often suffered
India, the dominant power in South Asia and the world's largest
democracy, shares a border with Myanmar that is more than 960 miles
Mr. Singh today inaugurated the "Myanmar-India Friendship Center for
Remote Sensing and Data Processing," which was developed with Indian
technical expertise that will help Myanmar generate weather forecasts,
as well as crop and ground water surveys.
On Tuesday, at a ceremony to mark the opening of a 99-mile-long road
that India built for Myanmar -- the first such project between the two
countries -- Mr. Singh said it was a privilege for India to be a partner
in Myanmar's development.
Speaking in more philosophical terms, Mr. Singh said his trip to Myanmar
was guided by what he called "the primacy of geo-economics in the
He made no public calls during his visit for the generals to restore
democracy or to release the leader of the country's democratic
opposition, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for
much of the last decade.
Rather, Mr. Singh told Indian reporters traveling with him that he hoped
India could encourage a return to democracy through its engagement with
Myanmar and said India had raised such questions at an "appropriate time
"India's credibility towards democracy does not have to be proved," he
said. "But the government is also wedded to national interest."
Mr. Singh defined those interests as including greater trade and tourism
for both India's northeastern states and Myanmar, a goal that he said
would be aided by the opening of the new road, built at an expense to
India of more than $20 million. . It runs from Tamu, on the
India-Myanmar border, through Kalewa to Kalemyo in Myanmar.
At the ceremony in the small border town of Tamu, dancing
schoolchildren, a gaggle of uniformed generals and thousands of
flag-waving people greeted him.
Foreign reporters are generally not allowed into Myanmar. And none of
the Indian journalists with Mr. Singh quoted ordinary people, but the
correspondent for The Hindu, a daily newspaper, noted, "Reporters
accompanying him could see small children with Indian and Myanmar flags
making it clear that Yangon was happy with the project." Yangon,
formerly known as Rangoon, is the capital of Myanmar.
Mr. Singh said, "The significance of this road is its continuation of
our great tradition of social and spiritual linkages between our two
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Free Burma Coalition: LSE Students Pioneer Free Burma Resolution
London School of Economics Students took the lead in the fight against
the military dictatorship in Burma on 8th February in passing a
pioneering "Free Burma Resolution."
The Resolution cuts all ties between the London School of Economics
Students Union and companies doing business in Burma. LSE Students Union
will not invest, trade or bank with any companies that operate in Burma.
Foreign investment in Burma only serves to support the dictatorship, it
does not in any way help the people of Burma. Increased militarisation
preceeds all foreign investment, gross human rights violations follow
the Burmese army wherever they go.
"LSE students have taken the initiative to support their fellow students
in Burma who themselves have been key in the fight against oppression."
Said Lee Federman, General Secretary of LSE Students Union.
The resolution was welcomed by the exiled Burmese Government: "On behalf
of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, I would like
to extend my deepest appreciation to the Students Union of the LSE for
its initiative to support the struggle of people of Burma to restore
democracy and human rights in their country." Said Dr Thaung Htun,
Representative of the NCGUB.
"All foreign companies must form a joint venture with the military, and
the income the military earns through these arrangements has only served
to entrench their grip on power. 16% of all profits earned by foreign
companies in Burma goes straight into weapons purchase." Said Rachel
Goldwyn, LSE student and former political prisoner in Burma. "There is
no way a company can invest there and not support this illegitimate
For further information please contact:
Rachel Goldwyn: 07931 753 138
The Independent (Bangladesh): BIMSTEC confce begins in Yangon
YANGON, Feb 15: Bangladesh today said it wants to see the BIMSTEC as an
effective forum for boosting regional cooperation as the third
ministerial meeting of regional grouping began here today, reports
BSS.Bangladesh Commerce Minister Abdul Jalil who is leading a
five-member delegation told the meeting that BIMSTEC should be turned
into a strong platform to voice the issues of common concern of the
member countries and suggest measures to world bodies, specially WTO.
"It is unfortunate that trade amongst the BIMSTEC region is negligible
accounting for around 2.5 per cent of the region?s total volume of
trade," Commerce Minister Abdul Jalil told the inaugural session of the
conference.He added: "But a strengthened network of cooperation backed
by facilitating services in areas of common concern will no doubt
provide ample avenues for growth of intra-region trade and
investment.??He emphasised the need for implementation of the proposals
adopted in last two meetings to survive in the competitive world trade,
according to a message received here.
The commerce and trade ministers of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri
Lanka and Thailand, the nations, which groups the BIMSTEC, joined the
conference opened by Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, First Secretary of
Myanmar?s military government.Nepal is taking part as an observer along
with representatives from ADB and ESCAP. The grouping was established in
1997, to facilitate trade and investments among the nations linked by
the Andaman Sea.Opening the conference General Khin expressed hope that
with a combined population of over 1.2 billion people and abundant
natural and human resources, BIMSTEC would surely be able to bring about
greater prosperity to the region.
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