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BurmaNet News: April 24, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         April 24, 2001   Issue # 1788
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

NOTED IN PASSING: ?...they flatly refused to allow us to see her. And so 
we decided amongst ourselves not to go to Myanmar to just see generals," 
Koster- Lossack

Angelika Koster-Lossack, Member of the German parliament.  See Deutsche 
Presse-Agentur: German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over Suu Kyi 

*The Nation: Drug rebels can expect free rein
*The Nation: Chasing the Burmese dragon
*Xinhua: Myanmar To Host Ministerial Meeting on Drug Control
*Bangkok Post: Karen attack, burn Wa speed storehouse
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta vanguard stalled by mines
*Asian Wall Street Journal: Ethnic Conflict Clouds Myanmar
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Power plant part of Maung Aye's pet 
project, says Maesai resident
*DVB : Burmese, Chin National Army troops clash

*Deutsche Presse-Agentur: German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over 
Suu Kyi access
*Bangkok Post: Bid to block shipment to Tachilek
*Today Newspaper (Philippines): Guingona Eyes Meeting with Burma's Suu 

*Reuters: Myanmar kyat falls to record low
*Xinhua: Tourists Visiting Myanmar Decrease in 2000

*Bangkok Post: The Burma convoy and accountability
*ALTSEAN-Burma: Help Needed to Differentiate Fantasy from Reality 

*Asian Women's Electronic Networking Training Workshop
*Nonviolent Action, a Workshop for Trainers and Facilitators

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

The Nation: Drug rebels can expect free rein

April 24, 2001.

The government can expect little help from Beijing or Rangoon in 
stopping the Wa army's drug trafficking, Don Pathan reports in the last 
part of a two-part series.  
For years, the Chinese government has vowed to cooperate with Thailand 
and Burma to tackle drug trafficking problems.  

However, Beijing has yet to say or show in real terms what it means. 
This is not to say that the Chinese people are not affected by the 
problem. In fact, a great deal of the Wa's heroin is smuggled through 
Yunnan, while more and more Chinese people there are becoming addicts at 
an alarming rate.  

But China's low-key approach towards the Wa's illicit activities is 
understandable given their historic links. The Communist Party of China 
was the main backer of the now-defunct Communist Party of Burma (CPB). 
The bulk of the CPB's foot soldiers at the time were made up of troops 
from the Wa faction. And when the CPB fractured along ethnic lines, the 
Wa leadership, who formed the UWSA shortly afterwards, maintained their 
strong links with the Communist Chinese.  

Moreover, said one senior Third Army official, the Wa's presence along 
the Thai border is growing by the day. Their troop strength in the area 
has increased from just over 3,000 to more than 10,000 in the past year. 
The officer also confirmed a recent report by Jane's Defence Weekly, 
stating that the UWSA had acquired an improved portable surface-to-air 
missile (SAM) capability from the Chinese.  

"The system marks a significant improvement over the older 
Soviet-designed SA-7, which the UWSA had earlier acquired from Cambodian 
black market sources through Thailand," Jane's said. Among its other 
attributes, according to the report, the recently acquired SAM can 
engage aircraft head-on.  

Besides the historical link, Beijing's passiveness towards the Wa's 
illicit activities has more to do with China's quest to become a 
superpower. As an emerging superpower, said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a 
security expert at Chulalongkorn University, China is not in a position 
to pick a fight with countries that can enhance its strategic interest.  

Panitan pointed to the massive infrastructure linking southern China to 
the Indian Ocean through Burma. And with the country being a "closed" 
society, he said, China, unlike Thailand, does not have to contend with 
the problem of political support from the general public. "China has 
over one billion people. Given its shear size, the Wa's activities do 
not constitute a national one." 
Unlike Thailand, China does not see the Wa's narcotic trafficking as an 
international issue, Panitan said.  

Thailand's relations with Burma, on the other hand, are largely based on 
mistrust fuelled by territorial disputes and accusations of 
interference. Burma has accused Thailand of supporting Shan rebels, but 
Thai officials say Rangoon has pitted the Wa against the Thais by 
allowing them to resettled along the Thai border.  
So what is the Thai government to do? 

For the time being, Bangkok will continue with its anti-Wa rhetoric and 
the push to make Rangoon accountable to the Wa's activities. Though 
Thaksin has vowed to bring the issue up with Beijing and the Burmese 
junta, few believe he will have much success.  

"Thailand is too weak to put pressure on Burma, much less China," 
Panitan said. "(The Thai government) will be going to the negotiating 
table against a group of warriors, from top to bottom, whose positions 
are consolidated and members unified at the top."  
Like other authoritarian countries, Burma's national interest is its 
utmost important issue when it come to any negotiation, he said.  

For the junta, issues pertaining to Rangoon-UWSA ties are a matter of 
life and death - literally. Foreign Minister Win Aung has made it quite 
clear that his government will not turn back the clock and go back to 
the day of insurgency and rebellious ethnic armies roaming Burma's 
frontier. In other words, Thailand needs to stop pointing its finger to 
Rangoon just because too many Thai youths have a bad habit.  
Besides, admitted a number of Thai army officers along the border, 
Rangoon is not in the position to pick a fight with the Wa. The 
implications would be too high and it would set a bad precedent with 
other groups who have come under the country's "legal fold", they said.  

For the time being, the concern over narcotics among the leadership in 
Rangoon, experts say, will continue to take a backseat to stability and 
national reconciliation. Rangoon's policy of negotiating ceasefires with 
ethnic insurgent groups has been one of its main success stories, and 
there is no indication that the junta would want to change that.  

Besides, Rangoon stands to gain tremendously from the Wa's illicit 
activities. According to a recent report by the US State Department on 
narcotics, "there is reason to believe that money laundering in Burma 
and the return of narcotics profits laundered elsewhere are significant 
factors in the overall Burmese economy, although the extent is difficult 
to measure accurately".  

The country's under-regulated banking system and the absence of 
effective money laundering legislation, according to the report, have 
created an environment conducive to the use of drug-related proceeds in 
legitimate commerce.  

Given the fact that Thai-Burmese ties are at a low after cross-border 
shelling over two months ago between the two armies, any meaningful 
counter-narcotic efforts are likely to remain on the back burner for the 
time being


The Nation: Chasing the Burmese dragon

April 24, 2001.

The Thaksin government is poised to launch a major anti-drug offensive 
against the Burma-based Wa army. It stands a real risk of failure, Don 
Pathan reports.  
Two years ago when the bodies of nine Thai villagers, beaten to death 
with their hands tied behind their backs, were found scattered along the 
northern border, all fingers pointed to the Wa army which is based just 
on the other side of the border.  
It was a drug deal gone bad, and members of the United Wa State Army did 
it, Thai officials said.  

Though no one has proven exactly who carried out the brutal act, 
nevertheless the blame was conveniently placed on the Wa. After all, 
this 20,000-strong outfit has been dubbed the world's largest armed 
drug-trafficking group, and a number of its leaders have already been 
indicted by a US federal court on drug charges.  
Thai security agencies found themselves in a situation where they had to 
act and act fast. The army was brought into the picture, border 
crossings leading to the UWSA areas were ordered shut, and over 1,000 
Thai workers building everything from roads and hydroelectric dams to 
schools and hospitals in nearby Wa-controlled areas were told to come 

For the Thai troops along the border overlooking Doi Sam Sao opposite 
Thailand's Mae Ai district, this meant that their daily volleyball games 
with the Wa soldiers had to end.  
The Thai public and the media went along for the ride, and the Thaksin 
government, as well as the previous Chuan administration, couldn't 
resist jumping on the bandwagon in spite of its racist connotations. 
"Wa" immediately became a household name. And just like that, an entire 
ethnic group became demonised.  
To show that he meant business Thaksin, shortly after taking over as 
premier, launched a high-profile drug seminar in Chiang Mai. Photographs 
showed Burma's security chief, Lt-General Khin Nyunt, shaking hands with 
Wa leaders in Mong Yawn, a newly built town adjacent to Chiang Mai's Mae 
Ai district. Thai officials said Mong Yawn was the source of millions of 
methamphetamine pills heading for the streets of Bangkok and other major 
cities in the country.  

At the end of the two-day seminar, Thaksin boldly told the public that 
he would take the matter straight to Rangoon. China, said Thaksin, will 
also be brought into the picture to help with the counter-narcotics 

Thailand's latest move is to form a 400-strong anti-drug task force made 
up of staff from the Army Special Forces, infantry and Border Police 
units. They will be trained by a team of about 20 soldiers from the US 
Special Forces, starting this October under the supervision of the Third 

But while the public ate up the anti-narcotic rhetoric, little 
discussion was given to the implications and the possible fallout with 
Rangoon and Beijing, two sovereign governments whose priorities happen 
to be other than the Thai people's bad habits.  
A Bangkok-based foreign diplomat overseeing drug issues called 
Thailand's declaring war on the Wa a "knee-jerk" reaction without real 
understanding of the situation on the ground. For any anti-narcotic 
policy to be successful, according to Burma experts, it must include a 
meaningful political solution for all insurgent groups in the ethnically 
diverse country. Drug trafficking and insurgency, they say, are two 
sides of the same coin.  

In a recent interview with The Nation, the UN Drug Control Programme's 
regional representative Sandro Calvani said a strong foundation for 
regional countries to cooperate in their anti-narcotic efforts "exists 
in joint agreements, but real united action requires significant 

"Finger-pointing to drug-producers or drug-users helps no one. History 
in other parts of the world has shown that isolating a group does more 
harm than help," said Calvani, suggesting that regional UN coordinated 
action on the Wa and Burma might be more effective than fragmented moves 
by Thailand, Malaysia, China, India and other countries concerned.  

As for the country's anti-drug policy, an alliance that unites the 
government, the UN and the entire civil society must be created, while 
the private and public sectors, as well as government agencies and the 
community, must be included in this endeavour, he said.  

For years Rangoon has consistently come under attack by Western 
governments for allowing drug armies and opium warlords to operate with 
little hindrance. They point to the presence of the Wa army along 
Burma's northern border with Thailand and China, as well as the Kokang 
Chinese, also known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army.  

But the reality on the ground, say Thai and foreign drug officials, is 
that the Burmese government has little control over the Wa's activities. 
For one thing, Burmese troops must have permission before entering areas 
occupied by UWSA troops.  
Wa fighters were the foot-soldiers of the now defunct Communist Party of 
Burma. In 1989 the CPB fractured along ethnic lines, and the group 
formed the United Wa State Army, before working out an attractive 
cease-fire agreement orchestrated by security chief Lt-General Khin 

For Rangoon the truce neutralised a 20,000-strong insurgent group that 
had enough weapons to last them for another decade. For the Wa it was a 
green light to expand their heroin empire southwards from the Chinese 
border to areas adjacent to Thailand's northern border. Along the way 
they clashed with former drug kingpin Khun Sa, hastening his surrender 
in January 1996.  

Today, besides filling a vacuum left by Khun Sa, the presence of the Wa 
army along the Thai border is deemed a security threat to Thailand. The 
group is also perceived to be a significant factor in the tit-for-tat 
relations between Thailand and Burma. 


Xinhua: Myanmar To Host Ministerial Meeting on Drug Control

2001.04.24 11:55:34  

YANGON, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar is making preparation to  host 
the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of Six MOU (memorandum of  understanding) 
Countries on Drug Control in the Sub-Region from  May 7 to 11 in 
cooperation with the U.N. Drug Control Program  ( UNDCP), according to 
the Myanmar Ministry of Home Affairs Tuesday. 

The six countries, that initiated a MOU on control of illicit  drug 
trafficking and abuse in the sub-region in New York in  October 1993, 
comprise China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand  and Vietnam. 

The ministerial meeting will be preceded by a senior officials' meeting 
and high-level bilateral meetings between Myanmar and  Thailand, between 
Myanmar and China, between Cambodia and Vietnam  and between Cambodia 
and Thailand. 
According to the ministry, delegates attending the MOU meeting  will 
witness Myanmar's 15th annual ceremony of destruction of  seized 
narcotic drugs in Yangon and visit the country's opium  producing areas 
of Kokang and Wa in northern Shan state. 

The last three ministerial meetings of the six MOU countries  were 
alternatively held in Beijing in 1995, in Bangkok in 1997 and in 
Vientiane in 1999. 

Meanwhile, a sub-regional drug control program of the six MOU  countries 
on reducing illicit drug use in the highlands of East  Asia was 
implemented at six villages in Muse and Bhamo regions in  northern 
Myanmar's Shan and Kachin states respectively from 1997  to 2000, using 
1.52 million U.S. dollars provided by Britain and  the UNDCP, involving 
the contribution of Japan. 

More similar programs are expected to be implemented in other  Myanmar 
villages with the contribution of donor countries.   

According to official statistics, in 2000, Myanmar seized 2.28  tons of 
narcotic drugs including 1.52 tons of opium, 158.68 kilos  of heroin and 
590 kilos of marijuana as well as 26.6 million  tablets of stimulant 


Bangkok Post: Karen attack, burn Wa speed storehouse

April 23, 2001.

Sounds of battle clear in Mae Sot
Supamart Kasem

Soldiers of the Karen National Union attacked a warehouse thought to be 
a storage depot for methamphetamines on the outskirts of Myawaddy, 
opposite Mae Sot, early yesterday. 

Mahnshar Lapan, KNU secretary-general, said they had information that Wa 
soldiers had stored several million methamphetamines in the warehouse. 

The building, about 1km south of the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge, was 
set on fire during the attack. Billowing smoke could be seen from the 
Thai side of the border. No drugs were recovered. 

The attack was launched by the KNU's 6th division at 3.40am, a source 
The exchange was fierce, with the sound of mortars, rocket launchers and 
small arms fire clearly audible in Mae Sot until 4.45am. 

Two mortar rounds landed on Thai soil, but caused no damage. Thai forces 
along the Moei river responded with 120mm mortar smoke shells as a 
warning. Villagers at Ban Huay Muang were evacuated to bunkers. 

Two soldiers of the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army were 
reported killed and four wounded. Two Burmese women were injured in the 
cross-fire and sent to Mae Sot hospital for treatment.  

The KNU said two of its men were wounded. They seized one M79 grenade 
launcher and one rifle. 

The KNU also reported an earlier clash, on April 14, with a combined 
force of Burmese and DKBA troops in Kawkareik district of Karen state, 
claiming 12 Burmese and two DKBA soldiers killed and 21 wounded, for the 
loss of two KNU soldiers killed and four wounded. 

- Two Thai men were arrested with 368,000 methamphetamine pills in Muang 
district of Tak on Saturday. 

The pills were found in a pick-up driven by Thanom Phosa, 36, on Mae 
Sot-Tak road, heading to Sukhothai. 

He said he was hired by Boonchai Sothorn-aree, 23, of Chiang Rai, for 
50,000 baht to deliver the drugs from Phop Phra district to Ban Dan Lan 
Hoy and Thung Saliam districts of Sukhothai. 

Mr Boonchai was arrested later in Phop Phra district.

Pol Maj-Gen Luerit Puipanthawong, the Tak provincial police chief, said 
the 7.6 million speed pills seized in Phop Phra district on April 16 and 
the 368,000 seized on Saturday were part of a 40 million pill shipment 
the United Wa State Army had planned to smuggle into Thailand during the 
Songkran festival by using DKBA soldiers. 
He believed more pills were stored in Burma opposite Tak, awaiting 
shipment into Thailand.


Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta vanguard stalled by mines

April 24, 2001

Burma Army's advance guards marching towards their border post occupied 
on  Sunday by the Shans ran into a minefield last night, said a Shan 
State Army  source.

Elements from IB 227 (Mongkhark) and LIB 519 (Mongton) that arrived in 
the  neighborhood of Pakhee base, opposite Doi Angkhang, Fang District 
of  Chiangmai Province, came upon a minefield last night.

The army source said he heard explosions during the night but that all 
was  still quiet this morning.

Apart from the local troops of Mongton, units from the neighboring 
Monghsat  are on their way to help dislodge the Shans from Pakhee, said 
a border  watcher form Fang.

The Shan force in the area is under the command of Lt-Col Awngkham under 
 whom are Lt-Col Khunjaw of Brigade 241 and Maj Khiaofah of Khunsang  
Tonhoong Column.

"Pakhee can be reached through 3 routes," said the border watcher. "1. 
>From Maeken, 15 miles south of Mongton, through Loisarng and BP-2. It  
is the longest and the attacking forces will have to march on foot all 
the  way.

2. From Nakawngmu, 20 miles further south. It is shorter but there is 
still  no motor road to Pakhee.

3. From Pungpakhem, 15 miles south of Nakawngmu and 15 miles north of 
BP-1.  They can go by truck until Namhukhun 5 miles further east and 
march north  to Pakhee. It is the shortest."
The Shan State Army is commanded by Yawdserk, whose group already made  
headlines since February when the pursuing Burma Army clashed with Thai  
border forces.

It is believed to be the strongest among the three armed resistance  
movements along the Thai border. The other two are Karen National Union/ 
 Karen national Liberation Army and Karenni National Progress Party /  
Karenni Army.

Commenting on the situation, Analytica Birmanie, a private thinktank, 
said:  "The new round of fighting (along the border) might indicate  
disillusionment with the current talks in Rangoon and the loud silence 
from  it."


Asian Wall Street Journal: Ethnic Conflict Clouds Myanmar

New York, N.Y.
Apr 20, 2001

By Barry Wain

  MAE HONG SON, Thailand -- Secret talks taking place in Myanmar offer 
the prospect of a political breakthrough, as far as the international 
community is concerned. The discussions began last October between the 
ruling State Peace and Development Council and Aung San Suu Kyi, who 
heads the National League for Democracy. While nothing has been 
disclosed about the agenda or progress, the world waits to see if the 
military and its democratic opponents can overcome their stalemate and 
normalize conditions in the country formerly called Burma.

   But that isn't the way it appears to many of the nation's ethnic 
minorities, most of whom have fought for autonomy or independence for 
half a century. They regard the dialogue as a meeting between two 
factions of Burmans, the ethnic majority, who account for about 70% of 
the population. The minorities not only feel slighted by their exclusion 
from the discussions, but also convinced that long-term peace and 
stability demand their participation. 
   "All the ethnic groups are the same," says Doh Say, an official with 
the "foreign office" of the Karenni government in exile on the 
Thai-Myanmar border. "We don't trust Burmans."

   These dissident voices amount to a reality check. While the democracy 
movement has dominated the political scene since the military refused to 
recognize the results of an election in 1990, won overwhelmingly by the 
NLD, the issue that has torn the nation apart since independence in 1948 
is ethnic aspirations. Whether or not Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi reaches an 
accommodation with the SPDC, the absence of a comprehensive settlement 
between Burman Yangon and the diverse hinterland darkens the future.

   The trouble goes back to the country's original constitution, which 
provided for power to be divided between Burma Proper and the ethnic 
states. Among other things, it allowed for every state except Kachin to 
secede after 10 years. author Martin Smith describes it as lopsided and 
riddled with inconsistencies as any treaty drawn up in the era of 
British rule. "In short," he says, "it was a recipe for disaster."

   Almost immediately, the new administration was faced with the 
possible disintegration of Myanmar. In addition to the hill people who 
revolted, the Communists withdrew from the government and took up arms 
while Muslims from the Rakhaing area also joined the insurgency. For the 
minorities, the final straw was Ne Win's military coup in 1962, followed 
by the abolition of the constitution.

   The military leaders who retook control after troops shot and killed 
thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1988 have attempted to end 
the decades of civil war. They have negotiated cease-fires with 17 armed 
groups, allowing them to administer their own zones and regions and keep 
their weapons, in return for the development of infrastructure. At least 
five armed outfits continue to battle the Myanmar army.

   Although most of the cease-fires have held, allowing the SPDC to 
extend its nominal authority over large stretches of the frontier, some 
of the groups have become disillusioned with the deal. For example, the 
Kachin Independence Organization, which agreed to a cease-fire in 1993, 
saw an internal coup earlier this year, with Zau Mai, the chairman, 
deposed and arrested. Rivals accused him of gaining personally from the 
cease-fire, as well as being dictatorial and unwilling to listen to 
younger members. 
   Nor has the SPDC been able to organize a new constitution that 
addresses the ethnic fissures that will otherwise fracture the country 
again. A hand-picked National Convention began the drafting process in 
1993, but has effectively stalled since 1996, when the NLD walked out. 
While the SPDC has been able to insist on delegates writing provisions 
to ensure continued significant military influence, it has failed to 
find the language for the crucial political balance between the center 
and the periphery.

   It's only natural that Mr. Doh Say's Karenni government in exile, 
formed around the Karenni National Progressive Party, should be entirely 
unmoved by a possible compromise between the SPDC and the NLD. After 
all, the party and its armed wing, the Karenni Army, have been fighting 
and dying for independence since the 1950s. A cease-fire arranged in 
1995 collapsed within three months.

   But anecdotal evidence suggests that other ethnic minorities, on both 
sides of the border, are just as wary, including those who are observing 
cease-fires. Despite many differences, they seem to share a visceral 
distrust of the Burmans that won't easily be overcome. While they tend 
to give Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of assassinated national hero 
Gen. Aung San, the benefit of the doubt, they're good will hardly 
extends to the rest of the NLD leadership, or to the military brass.

   The extent of the ethnic divide showed up in a recent survey by a 
doctoral candidate who is researching the Kachin community. She asked 45 
college-age students, mostly offspring of Kachin Independence 
Organization leaders, to list the characteristics of various ethnic 
groups. Burmans ranked lowest -- described as lying, pretending, 
cheating, insincere and the like. The Buddhist Shans were as good as the 
Christian Kachin. Even Chinese, though often described negatively, 
ranked ahead of Burmans, in the eyes of the Kachin students.

   Given the depth of these sentiments, it isn't surprising that the 
ethnic minorities have reservations about Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi talking 
in private with the top generals of the SPDC. They were disappointed she 
didn't let them know, at least informally, before the official 
announcement. The silence since the dialogue started six months ago only 
heightens their anxiety. Still, they are sure that reconciliation, the 
declared objective, is out of the question without their presence.

   The minorities worry that Ms. Aung Suu Kyi might be tempted to join a 
coalition with the military, as widely speculated, a step they would 
regard as mere Burman power sharing. They make the point that democracy, 
to have any meaning, must be introduced nationwide. "It is important 
that these parties show more sincerity toward the ethnic groups," says 
Seng Du, general-secretary of the Pan Kachin Development Society. 
   Most minority groups don't doubt that it would be easier to make 
their case to a government led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. But while they 
have heard that she supports a federal system -- the only arrangement 
under which many of them would agree to remain part of Myanmar -- they 
don't think it would be endorsed in a democratic referendum. "The 
Burmans will not accept federalism," says Hte Bupeh, chairman of the 
Karenni National Progressive Party.


Shan Herald Agency for News: Power plant part of Maung Aye's pet 
project, says Maesai resident

April 23, 2001

An informed resident of Maesai told S.H.A.N. this morning the power 
plant  under construction in the twin city of Tachilek across the river 
was part  of General Maung Aye's plan to make the city an industrial 

The lignite power plant, located on a 25 acre land near Ponglo Pagoda at 
 Ban Sansai in Tachilek, is 4 km away from the border. Its foundation 
was  laid down by Gen Maung Aye, who, apart from being Vice Chairman of 
the  ruling State Peace and Development Council and Commander-in-Chief 
of the  Army, is also responsible for economic affairs, on 9 May last 
The cost of the plant that is expected to generate 12-megawatt of  
electricity is reported to be B. 250 million. The generator was 
purchased  from Shandong Yangguang Engineering Corporation in China at a 
cost of B.160  million. The expenditure was reported to be underwritten 
by Myanmar  Mayflower Bank, the largest shares of which belong to Wei 
Hsiaokang, the  Chinese-Wa chieftain who is on the wanted list of both 
Thailand and the  United States.

Large deposits of lignite coal to be used at the plant are located in  
Monghpyak and Kengtung, 78 km and 160 km respectively north of Tachilek. 
 Both had already been surveyed by Siam Lignite Company last year under 
the  auspices of Maj-Gen Thein Sein, Commander of the Triangle Region 
Command  with headquarters in Kengtung.

Residents in Maesai, Chiangrai Province, had protested against their  
district officer on his return from the foundation stone laying ceremony 
in  May last year. The grave effects of the power plant towards the 
environment  and tourism were also discussed at a seminar at Wangthong 
Hotel in Maesai  on 30 August.


DVB : Burmese, Chin National Army troops clash

DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that clashes have broken out 
between the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] forces and Chin 
National Army [CNA] troops in northern Chin State.

Fighting erupted between the CNA and the Tiddim-based SPDC LIB [Light 
Infantry Battalion] No 269 in Tonzang Township on 11 April. Two SPDC 
soldiers were wounded. The SPDC soldiers retreated after forcibly 
recruiting some villagers from the surrounding villages as porters to 
carry their wounded.

The CNA pursued the SPDC troops and another battle took place near the 
Tiddim to India border road. Ko Khin Maung Soe Minn filed the report 
from Aizore near the India-Burma border that one soldier each from CNA 
and SPDC were killed in that battle.

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 22 Apr 01

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Deutsche Presse-Agentur: German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over 
Suu Kyi access

April 24, 2001

German parliament cancels Myanmar visit over Suu Kyi access 

A German parliamentary delegation visiting Southeast Asia said Tuesday 
it had scrapped plans to travel to Myanmar (Burma) on the trip because 
the military junta there denied the group access to opposition leader 
Aung San Su Kyi.

Delegation leader Adelheid D. Troscher, of the Social Democratic Party's 
group on economic cooperation and development, said the six Bundestag 
members were strongly rebuffed two weeks ago by the ruling State Peace 
and Development Council.

"They did not want us visiting opposition leaders. They said they would 
rather not want us at the moment," Troscher told Deutsche Presse-Agentur 
dpa after arriving in Hanoi for a four-day Vietnam visit.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a 1990 election but the 
military voided the vote and arrested Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace 
Prize a year later.

The opposition leader was released in 1995 but has lived under virtual 
house arrest since, though she has been able to meet with several 
international groups over the years.

"I think it is shameful we were not allowed to meet with her," said 
Angelika Koster-Lossack of Alliance 90 - The Green Party, saying she had 
mistaken the junta's recent dialogue with Suu Kyi to be a possible 
reversal of their "policy of isolation".

"But they flatly refused to allow us to see her. And so we decided 
amongst ourselves not to go to Myanmar to just see generals," Koster- 
Lossack said.  "We are disappointed because a dialogue needs to be 
established with the outside world," she added. "It was a chance 

The high-ranking, multi-party delegation consists of six members of the 
Bundestag's committee on development cooperation, which is touring the 
region to get a better understanding of Southeast Asia's sustainable 
management and development projects.

The sector is one of the most significant areas of German aid to Vietnam 
and Cambodia.

On Wednesday the delegation meets with several members of the government 
of communist-ruled Vietnam, which last weekend anointed a reform-leaning 
moderate, Nong Duc Manh, to be its new leader.


Bangkok Post: Bid to block shipment to Tachilek

 April 24, 2001.

Burmese power project opposed
Subin Khuenkaew and Yuwadee Tunyasiri 

People in Chiang Rai have vowed to use any means, including violence, to 
block any further attempt to deliver power generators and construction 
materials to a coal-fired power plant project in Burma's Tachilek border 
A large convoy carrying power generators and construction materials from 
China was stopped by the Third Army on Friday before it crossed the 
border in Mae Sai to Tachilek. 
The shipment was halted at the crossing by regional commander Lieutenant 
General Wattanachai Chaimuenwong on orders from Prime Minister Thaksin 
Shinawatra, whose administration launched a "war on drugs" last month. 
Lt-Gen Wattanachai fears the generators will be used to power 
drug-making factories. 

A war of words between Bangkok and Rangoon over who is responsible for 
Thailand being flooded with amphetamines has seen tensions rise between 
the two countries. 
An angry demonstration followed the attempted shipment on Saturday by 
some 2,000 Mae Sai residents who feared the power plant would pollute 
their environment, forcing the convoy to return to Bangkok. 

Pang Polajai, secretary-general of the Rak Mae Sai club, yesterday said 
his group and local leaders would meet today to plan strategies to block 
any future attempt to send the cargo across the border to Tachilek. 

"We fear the government may later order [Third Army commander] Lt-Gen 
Wattanachai [Chaimuenwong] to allow the cargo through Mae Sai," he said. 

Mr Pang said people from Mae Sai and Mae Chan districts would also join 
today's meeting in Mae Sai. 

The meeting would come up with a "tough" resolution because local people 
feared their environment could be polluted in the near future by 
emissions from the coal-fired power plant being built just across the 
border, he said. 

"If the government allows the cargo to return to Mae Sai, I can bet it 
won't have a chance to cross the border or even another chance to return 
to Bangkok. Mae Sai and Mae Chan villagers are ready to fight to the end 
because they know well what the power plant will bring," he warned. 

Mr Pang also criticised Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's comments 
linking the power plant project with the Wa's methamphetamine production 
in Burma. 
The power plant is believed to be partly owned by the United Wa State 
Army. Mr Thaksin said after the convoy was halted that it was unlikely 
such goods would be allowed to cross the border since it would help 
strengthen the Wa. 

Yesterday, Mr Thaksin also said the power plant in Tachilek, once 
completed, could lead to an increase in the production of 
methamphetamines destined for Thailand. 
Mr Pang said the premier's comments had clouded the real issue "We are 
not protesting against drugs but against the coal-fired power plant that 
will pollute our environment." 
Mr Pang also claimed the prime minister might be trying to buy time for 
Burma. The government would likely permit the cargo to be delivered to 
Tachilek once Burmese authorities insisted the power plant belonged to 
the Rangoon government, he said. 
PM's Office Minister Thammarak Issarangkura na Ayuthaya said the problem 
over the cargo would likely be be raised for discussion during Foreign 
Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's May 1-2 visit to Rangoon, if the issue 
was not already settled before that. 
Meanwhile, the Customs Department chief said yesterday that the 44 
containers carrying the generators and construction material for Burma 
were being kept at a bonded warehouse on Bang Na-Trat highway. 

The containers were not opened for examination because his department 
did not think there were any illegal goods inside the containers, Manit 
Withayatem said. 
However, the department would allow other state agencies to open the 
containers and check the goods if such actions were deemed necessary, Mr 
Manit said.


Today Newspaper (Philippines): Guingona Eyes Meeting with Burma's Suu 

April 23, Monday (PHILIPPINES) 
TODAY newspaper 
by Malou Talosig-reporter 
IN what could be his first diplomatic salvo, Vice President and Foreign 
Secretary Teofisto Guingona will brave dangerous waters by arranging  to 
meet with Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung 
San Suu Kyi when he goes to Burma next week, officials at the Department 
of Foreign Affairs revealed yesterday.  
Officials who requested anonymity said a non government organization, 
Free Burma Coalition, called on Guingona and requested that he see Suu 
Kyi in Rangoon.  

Guingona is schedule to attend the "retreat" of the foreign ministers of 
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This will be his first 
ever-trip as foreign secretary and it is regarded as his baptism of fire 
in diplomacy.  

The ASEAN foreign ministers had earlier  decided to "retreat" so that 
they can have another meeting among themselves,  away from the clutches 
of their bosses.  
There would be "more candid and frank" exchanges of any issues that 
foreign ministers would like to discuss in two-hour "retreat".  

But this "retreat" will be hosted by Burma, whose government is ruled by 
a military junta that has been considered a pariah in many parts of the 
international community, after disregarding the 1990 parliamentary 
elections where the party of Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy 
(NLD) won by a landslide.  

Other Filipino diplomats believe that Guingona's plan to meet with Suu 
Kyi at the sidelines of the Asean foreign minister's retreat would be 
"inappropriate" since the host is the Burmese government.  

But the Free Burma Coalition apparently convinced Guingona to meet with 
Suu Kyi. At one point, foreign affairs officials said, they heard 
Guingona's consultant, Vic Luna, exclaim that Guingona will postpone his 
trip to Burma if he is not allowed to meet with the Burmese opposition 

The officials pointed out that the planned meeting between Guingona and 
Suu Kyi "would do more harm than good for both Suu Kyi and the 
Philippine government".  
At the moment, they said that Suu Kyi "is not keen on receiving foreign 
ambassadors" in her residence and has in fact "recognized" the "positive 
developments" made by the Burmese military junta. These developments 
include the holding of dialogue between the Burmese government and the 
opposition party at a low level and the reception by the Burmese 
government to the European Union troika representatives.


_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Reuters: Myanmar kyat falls to record low

YANGON, April 24 (Reuters) - Myanmar's kyat currency fell to a record 
low of 680 per dollar on the black market in late trade on Tuesday 
compared with 603 on Friday amid reports of "panic selling", dealers 

Black market dealers reported heavy demand for dollars and said the fall 
in the currency may have been induced by reports of low export revenue 
and rising inflation.  
"It's very hard to say exactly what is making the demand  (for dollars) 
grow," said one local businessman. "We hear some private companies are 
buying dollars."  

A black market dealer told Reuters he had not detected any measures by 
the Myanmar authorities to halt the kyat's slide. Myanmar officials were 
not immediately unavailable for comment.  

The Myanmar government has increased salaries of civil servants by five 
to eight times since April last year to help them cope with spiralling 
prices but its action has further fuelled inflation estimated at around 
20 percent a year.

Xinhua: Tourists Visiting Myanmar Decrease in 2000

2001.04.24 09:27:17  

YANGON, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The number of tourists visiting  Myanmar 
came to 234,900 in 2000, falling by 9.3 percent from 1999, according to 
the latest figures published by the country's Central Statistical 

Of the tourists, 49 percent entered the country by land through border 
Up to now, there were 492 different hotels and motels with 13, 984 
rooms. Of them, 21 are foreign-invested, four are joint  ventures, 439 
are private-run and 28 state-operated. 
There has also been 521 licensed tour companies in Myanmar  including 
508 private ones, 12 joint ventures and one foreign  company. 

According to the data published by the Myanmar Ministry of  Hotels and 
Tourism, there are 3,768 registered tour guides. Of  them, English 
language guides account for the majority with 2,644  in number, while 
Japanese language guides take 486, Chinese  language guides 222 and 
French language guides 189. 

Due to the impact of the Asian financial crisis, Myanmar's  tourism 
business is seen as very poor with most of its hotel rooms remaining 

The country's recent target for tourism is to draw 500,000  tourists 
Since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in 1988, such  contracted 
investment in the sector of hotels and tourism has  reached 1.054 
billion U.S. dollars in 42 projects.



Bangkok Post: The Burma convoy and accountability

April 24, 2001.

Thai authorities acted both legally and correctly in halting the convoy 
to Tachilek last week. Indeed, the more information about the shipment 
that dribbles out, the more it seems it should be rejected outright. 
Thai authorities should give Burma a chance to explain why Thailand 
should help to ship the power-generating equipment. If the explanation 
is weak, Thailand must consider destroying or sending back the 
Initial evidence indicates that the convoy carries equipment to build an 
electricity generating plant in northern Burma. Rangoon decided to ship 
the containers through Samut Prakan and Thailand as the fastest way to 
get to the region. Exactly why Burma refused to move the equipment 
through Rangoon port to its northern area is unknown. 
The electricity may-or may not-help expand the region's largest 
drug-producing centre. Mong Yawn city, centre of the United Wa State 
Army, is a new town that is still power hungry. If the proposed power 
plant is for Mong Yawn, it is arguably a direct threat to Thai security 
and should be destroyed just like any drug precursors or unauthorised 

Thailand cannot help-and cannot be seen to be helping-any aid destined 
for Mong Yawn and the UWSA. The city is the nerve centre for the 
production and trafficking of drugs into, and through, Thailand. 

Almost certainly not by coincidence, Rangoon's captive media publicised 
pitiful crackdowns on drugs at the weekend-as the fate of the convoy was 
under discussion. Authorities in Mandalay seized almost 300,000 speed 
tablets from a local trafficker. A court in Lashio last month sentenced 
five men to 20 years in prison for trying to sell speed. These are 
hardly worth bragging about. 

As always, the Burmese silence shows the junta's arrogance. But it also 
feeds rumours. At the weekend, there were unconfirmed reports that Thai 
customs officers had found methamphetamine-making chemicals on the 
convoy. By refusing to make a public statement to justify its power 
plant, Burma gives the impression it always gives: Rangoon will do what 
it wants, no matter what impact it has on neighbours or its own people. 

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra quickly realised the environmental 
problems involved. Samrerng Bonyopakorn, the current Chiang Rai 
governor, used to serve in Lampang. He is well aware of the opposition 
to unregulated lignite-fired power plants, having helped to negotiate a 
settlement with residents around Mae Moh. Thailand must closely examine 
how a lignite facility abutting the frontier will affect the 
environment, residents and the Chiang Rai tourist industry. 

Then there is the entire background of petty Burmese bloody-mindedness. 
In October of 1999, Burmese rebels stormed and seized the Rangoon 
embassy on Sathorn road. Thai officials resolved the problem without a 
casualty. But this did not meet Burma's standards. So the dictatorship 
unilaterally ended all joint fishing licences with private Thai 
companies. Rangoon still refuses to discuss the honouring of those 
contracts, either with Bangkok or the fishermen it tried to ruin. 

Thai border authorities correctly refused to open the Mae Sai border 
gate to let the convoy pass. Thailand has urged Burma for several months 
to open the frontier for normal trade. It has refused. Burma has shown 
no urgent reason to open the gates for one convoy. It cannot demand 
privileges for big shots. 

Tit-for-tat retaliation is not an acceptable reason to halt the convoy 
at the border. But there are several vital reasons why it should not 
proceed. By available evidence, Burma intends to continue construction 
of facilities that pose direct risks to Thailand. The convoy should be 
parked under close guard in Bangkok until this sorry episode is 
completely, and publicly, sorted out.


ALTSEAN-Burma: Help Needed to Differentiate Fantasy from Reality  

 Oral intervention at the UN Commission on Human Rights
 Item 19: Advisory services and technical co-operation in the field of 
human   rights
 (Delivered by Deborah Stothard, April 20, 2001)
 Owing to time constraints, content in [ ] will not be uttered  
 Mr/Madam Chairperson,
 I speak on behalf of Aliran [Kesedaran Negara].
 Last year, under this item, I called for the provision of refresher 
courses   on human rights to some government delegations. This was to 
address the   yawning gap between the human rights that some delegations 
speak of, the   human rights violations their governments practice and 
human rights as is   understood by the Office of the High Commissioner 
on Human Rights.  

 Last year, I also sought that technical and advisory services be 
provided   to help governments overcome the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome 
which induces   them to vociferously proclaim their human rights 
achievements while they   perpetrate yet more violations at home. Just 
last week, as the Malaysian   National Human Rights Commission was 
congratulating itself on its   achievements here in this very room, the 
Kuala Lumpur home of Muslim legal   expert Dr Badrul Amin Baharom was 
being surrounded by more than 20 police.   Dr Badrul was taken from his 
home at 2 a.m. local time, [obviously at an   hour that he was less 
likely to be in a militant mood]. He is now being   detained without 
trial at a secret location under the Internal Security Act   [a similar 
fate to that being suffered by the seven other ISA detainees. ]  

 [Dr Badrul Amin Baharom has a degree in Syariah Law from the Al-Azhar   
University in Egypt, studied comparative law at the University of Kent 
and   obtained a doctorate in philosophy from Birmingham. He is a former 
law   lecturer at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur, 
is a   well-known preacher and motivational speaker, and is Youth Exco 
member of   the National Justice Party. It is anticipated that activist 
Abdul Malek   Hussein and Justice Party Youth leader Lokman Noor Adam 
are also targets   for detention without trial under the ISA. Abdul 
Malek Hussein was   subjected to various forms of torture, including 
sexual abuse, when he was   last detained under the ISA in 1998.]
 The Jekyll and Hyde situation has not changed, so we are here again to  
 report and discuss issues that may not be discussed at home. It is also 
  tragic to note that many governments continue to be misguided by the   
precept that depriving people of their human rights is the best way to   
increase people s value for their rights.
 Therefore, you can imagine my concern when I discovered another urgent 
need   for technical assistance to help governments differentiate 
between reality   and fantasy. I am not addressing the general tendency 
to diplomatic   euphemism, or to embroider and/or stretch the truth. I 
am referring to   situations where governments rip the truth to shreds, 
throw the pieces to   the ground and then proceed to dance a jig upon 
the remains.  

 A compelling example is document E/CN.4/2001/140 in which the Myanmar   
delegation claims the country is free of human rights abuses. It claims  
 such concrete achievements as the significant economic progress, and 
the   social and cultural uplift and the improvement of the living 
standards of   the people .
 May I remind the Commission of the World Bank s findings that 
government   spending on education [as a share of national income is 
amongst the lowest   in the world], in real terms has fallen to less 
than a tenth of what it was   ten years ago. [Official data shows that 
it has fallen from about 1,200   Kyat per child (5-9 years) in 1990-91 
to 100 Kyat in 1999-2000. Source:   Myanmar: An Economic and Social 
Assessment World Bank 1999]. The Asian   Development Bank has 
highlighted the disturbingly high rate of child   mortality and the 
higher than average rate of infant mortality. [The ADB   finds the 
declining expenditure on health and education particularly   worrisome 
and notes that the benefits of economic growth do not seem to be   well 
distributed with wide regional and ethnic differences Source: Asian   
Development Outlook 2000, Asian Development Bank 2000]. The SPDC s   
achievements include the following realities:
 * Four per cent of men and 2 per cent of women in Burma are heroin 
abusers   [compared with the global population average of 0.22%. Source: 
World Drug   Report 2000, UNDCP 2001]
 * UNAIDS figures estimate that 530,000 HIV infections occurred in the 
year   2000. The regime only admits 25,000 HIV-positive people.  
 * An estimated 2 million people have been displaced by military 
activities   in recent years [Burma Ethnic Research Group]
 * State parties have killed Hundreds of people in massacres and other   
extra-judicial killings.
 * Hundreds of pro-democracy and human rights activists have been 
subjected   to a revolving door system of detention, torture, release 
and re-arrest.   There are also long-term prisoners, some of whom have 
been permanently   disabled by the conditions of their detention, and 
some of whom have   already served their sentences but not have been 

 * A significant number of the 35,959 primary schools claimed by the 
SPDC   were actually established and maintained by local communities, 
not public spending. [The   only contribution of the regime has been to 
install its own notice board.]  
 The vivid imagination of the SPDC has no place in this Commission. 
Urgent   technical assistance of various kinds is needed to help the 
Myanmar regime,   and certain other governments in this Commission, 
understand what is   acceptable as the truth and what is not. Otherwise, 
the threat of infection   is great. It would be a global tragedy indeed, 
if the U N Commission on   Human Rights were to become a hostage to 
fantasy and deceit.  

 Thank you.


Asian Women's Electronic Networking Training Workshop 	

 	The Asia Women's Resource Exchange (AWORC), an Internet-based network  
of women's resource and information providers in Asia will hold the  
Third Asian Women's Electronic Networking Training Workshop or WENT2001  
on July 2-8, 2001 at the Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, Korea. 

 	The annual workshop aims to build the capacities of women and their  
organisations to utilise new information and communication technologies  
in social and policy advocacy. This year's workshop offers three  
parallel instructional tracks: Web-based Information Services, Using  
ICT for Social and Policy Advocacy, and Information Management Using  
 	All participants will engage in extensive hands-on training using the  
Sookmyung Women's University's advanced computing and networking  
facilities. The instructional tracks will be led by an all-women  
training team composed of library administrators, database developers,  
web developers and system administrators who have extensive experience  
in running training workshops.
 	WENT2001 is open to all women whose organisations play or will play a  
significant role in promoting the use of information and communication  
technology to enhance women's role and capacity in social and policy  
advocacy, as well as to strengthen women's organisations and networks  
in Asia and the Pacfic.
 	For more information about WENT and AWORC, write to 
went-info@xxxxxxxxxxx 	or visit: http:// www.jca.apc.org/aworc

 	The training workshop will be from July 2-8, 2001. Participants should 
	be at the workshop location by the evening of July 1. Departure from 
Seoul 	will be on July 9.
 	Deadline for submission of application is May 15, 2001. 	Application 
can be sent via web, email, fax, or post. 

 	1. If applying by ELECTRONIC MAIL, copy and paste the questionnaire on 
	your email message.
 	***Please use plain text, no attachments.***
 	The "Subject" line of the message should contain your surname or 
family 	name in the following format:
 	Subject: WENT2001 Application: last-name, first-name 
 	Applications submitted electronically should be sent to: 
 	2. If applying by FAX or POST, print and fill up the application form 
and 	send to:
 	Asian Pacific Women's Information and Network Center 	Sookmyung 
Women's University  	53-12 Chungpa-Dong 2-Ka,
 	Youngsan-Ku, Seoul, 140-742, Korea
 	Attn: WENT2001 APPLY
 	Tel. No: +82-2-710-9886, 9687
 	Fax No: +82-2-710-9689
 	3. WEB applications will be available from April 20, 2001. 


Nonviolent Action, a Workshop for Trainers and Facilitators

Invitation to Free Burma Activists

At the newly established Eden Valley Training Center situated at a 
lovely retreat north of Washington DC. Eden Valley is a new (affordable) 
social change training center for citizens located in Dayton, Maryland.

May 12, 13th 2001     Sat and Sunday all day
Guided by Nadine Bloch, long time activist & trainer and
Michael Beer, Director, Nonviolence International.

Cost: sliding scale, suggested fee $100, includes camping or sleeping 
space and food.

Register ASAP, email nbloch@xxxxxxx and dancinrainbow@xxxxxxxxxxxxx We 
have only a few spaces remaining.

This workshop is provided for activists in the Washington-Baltimore area 
who want to improve their skills as a nonviolent action 
facilitator/trainer? Are you looking for new training methods and 
approaches? Are you looking to integrate more powerful nonviolent action 
into your environmentalist, feminist, unionist, revolutionary, religous, 
or internationalist circles? Come join with other diverse DC-Baltimore 
Activists. If you have more questions, you can contact the emails above 
or reach Michael Beer at 202-244-0951.


The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar) from around the world.  
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by 
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