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BurmaNet News: May 24, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
May 24, 2001 Issue # 1809
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AFP: UN Envoy Razali To Visit Burma 1-4 Jun, Likely To Hold Talks With
*Bangkok Post: Four Muslim Leaders Die in Clashes
*The Dawn: 10 die in Myanmar communal clashes
*AFP: Myanmar agrees to ILO probe of measures against forced labor
*Xinhua: Some 131 Fires Occur in Myanmar in April
*Xinhua: Myanmar Cooperatives to Take Part in Kunming Trade Fair
*The Nation: Burmese Shelling a 'Deliberate Act'
*AP: Myanmar general castigates 'superpowers'
*Bangkok Post: Tough talking on drugs, weak stomach on border
*Bangkok Post: Shan Seek World Attention
*Reuters: Thailand to close Myanmar student camp by year-end
*The Nation: Burma insults former King
*AP: Villagers protest against Myanmar shelling of royal project
*AFP: Thai-Myanmar relations deteriorating: Thaksin
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Let's cultivate Alaungphaya spirit
*Xinhua: Myanmar Links Sovereignty to Development
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AFP: UN Envoy Razali To Visit Burma 1-4 Jun, Likely To Hold Talks With
May 23, 2001
[FBIS Transcribed Text] YANGON, May 23 (AFP) -- UN special envoy to
Myanmar Razali Ismail is to visit Yangon next week at a critical stage
of the eight-month-old dialogue between the junta and democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi, sources said. "He will come from June 1 to 4," a
source in Yangon told AFP. "His program is not known but he is likely to
see Aung San Suu Kyi." The green light for the Malaysian diplomat's
fourth trip to Myanmar comes after months of delays which had raised
concerns about the future of political reforms in the military-run
country. Razali, who brokered landmark talks between Aung San Suu Kyi
and the military regime which began last October, has been denied
permission to visit since January as the dialogue entered a delicate
Sources close to the secret talks said earlier this month that the
process had ground to a halt as dissenting factions within the junta
began to baulk at the prospect of ushering in far-reaching reforms.
Diplomats in Yangon said it was too soon to know whether the junta's
decision to allow Razali into the country was an indication that the
national reconciliation process was back on track.
"This is a good sign but we will have to see what kind of feedback he
gets when he gets here," one said. "Certainly, coming after the
indications that his next visit would not be on the cards for several
more months, if they have decided to let him in there must be a little
bit more flexibility." Razali's visit ends just a day before the
International Labor Organisation (ILO) convenes its annual meeting where
it is expected to roundly condemn the Yangon junta's record on forced
The ILO's governing body last November issued an unprecedented call for
its members to review their ties with Myanmar -- a move aimed at
tightening the sanctions load that has already helped cripple the
economy. Bitterly disappointed, the junta shot back by declaring it
would "cease to cooperate" with the ILO, in an apparent declaration that
a technical mission which had visited in October would not be allowed to
return. However, a four-man team again led by Francis Maupain of France
was allowed to travel to Yangon last week to negotiate an accord on the
eradication of forced labour with the junta, the ILO confirmed
The team was permitted to visit between May 17 and 19 to negotiate the
text of an accord under which the military government will independently
monitor the eradication of forced labour. The renewed contact with the
ILO is another sign that a political shift is under way in Myanmar, and
that the junta is willing to take some modest steps towards improving
its relationship with the international community. An ILO official in
Bangkok said the mission was likely to return to Yangon within the next
few months to implement the guidelines developed during the May visit.
"In late summer or early fall they will go back and follow up and
implement these terms of reference," he said.
Bangkok Post: Four Muslim Leaders Die in Clashes
Wednesday, May 23, 2001
At least four Islamic spiritual leaders were killed in Burma and
hundreds of Muslims forced to flee after clashes last week between
Buddhist and Islamic residents.
One Muslim, who managed to escape, said a curfew was imposed in Pegu
division after riots in Toungoo district on Friday and in Swa and Pyu
districts on Sunday.
The fighting erupted after Buddhist monks and their followers raided 14
mosques in Toungoo district while Muslims were praying, a source said.
Four spiritual leaders died when the raiders cut their throats and the
owner of a nearby restaurant was beaten to death.
Four mosques and more than 100 houses and shops in the town were burnt
down, forcing all Muslims to flee to nearby Kyauktaga, Zeyyawaddy, Yeni
and Myohla districts.
Buddhists also attacked Muslim passengers on Rangoon-Mandalay buses
arriving in Toungoo and set fire to more than 100 houses owned by
Muslims outside the town.
A curfew was imposed on Toungoo and security forces were sent to control
The source said nearly 1,000 Muslims became homeless after their houses
were burnt down in similar riots in Thagaya and Pyu districts on Sunday.
A curfew was then enforced all over Pegu division.
On Monday, a Muslim spiritual leader in Rangoon told BBC Radio the
situation had returned to normal and riots followed the destruction of
an ancient mosque in the town.
The Dawn: 10 die in Myanmar communal clashes
YANGON, May 23: Fighting between Muslim and Buddhist residents broke out
in Taungdwingyi town in upper Myanmar, the latest in a spate of
religious clashes that have reportedly left at least 10 people dead,
eyewitnesses and diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.
Clashes between the predominantly Buddhist population of Taungdwingyi,
450 kilometres north of Yangon, and a Muslim group were reported by
eyewitnesses on Tuesday night.
It was unclear whether anyone was killed in the latest clash, but
similar attacks on Muslims in the townships of Taungoo, Yadashe and
Nyaunglebin, all in upper Myanmar, have left at least 10 people dead,
according to diplomatic sources.
"We've heard reports of 10 to 30 people killed and up to 40 homes
destroyed," said a Western diplomat in Yangon. "It was a pretty big
rampage by the Young Buddhist Monks."
The clash in Taungoo was sparked on May 16, when Muslim youths allegedly
taunted Buddhist nuns who were making their rounds in the city with
begging bowls, according to sources in Yangon.
Enraged Buddhists attacked the Muslims, who fled into a mosque with the
Buddhists in hot pursuit. Sources said that the city was wracked by
religious clashes for two days, leaving at least 20 people dead,
including two Buddhist monks and a Muslim religious leader.
Myanmar's military junta has placed Taungoo under a night curfew, and
deployed troops to other towns to prevent similar clashes.
Myanmar's state religion is Buddhism, but the ruling junta claims to
allow religious freedom and allows its many minority groups to practise
their religion of choice, including Islam, Christianity, Brahmanism,
ancestor worship and animism.
Rumors abounded in Yangon about who was behind the clashes. "The rumor
behind the rumor is that regional military commanders have been
organizing the attacks on Muslims to get people's minds off their
economic hardships," said a diplomat.
The ruling State Peace and Development Council had yet to issue an
official statement on the clashes. Similar clashes, pitting Buddhists
against Muslims, occurred in Sittwe, on Myanmar's western coast near the
border with Bangladesh, in February.
AFP: Myanmar agrees to ILO probe of measures against forced labor
GENEVA, May 24 (AFP) - Myanmar, under fire from abroad over charges of
forced labour, will allow the International Labor Organisation (ILO) to
make an independent probe into government efforts to end the abuse, an
ILO official said.
It was earlier reported from Bangkok that an ILO team had made an
unpublicised visit to Myanmar last week to negotiate an accord with the
ruling junta on eradicating forced labor.
ILO team leader Francis Maupain, outlining the accord, told AFP here
the object of this month's mission had been to discuss modalities of an
ILO assessment of measures announced by the Yangon government following
an earlier ILO visit in October.
"The Burmese authorities have agreed to discuss the modalities of this
objective evaluation," he said.
The International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU), linking more
than 221 labour unions in 148 countries, said last year that nearly one
million people were subjected to forced labour in Myanmar, particularly
in building roads, railways and military installations.
The army has been singled out as a main offender due to its practice of
using villagers, often from ethnic minorities, as porters.
Last November, the Geneva-based ILO called on its members -- workers
and employers' groups, and countries -- to review ties with Myanmar and
take steps to ensure these ties did not support forced labour.
Maupain said an ILO team would return to Myanmar, probably in late
summer when it would be easiest to travel around the country.
Asked about the atmosphere of the Yangon talks this month, the official
said: "It's never easy, but we do have agreement."
Following the ILO visit to Myanamar in October, the Burmese interior
minister issued an order banning forced labour. This was later backed up
by a military directive in November.
But the ILO considered the measures indaequate and impossible to
verify, and invited members to reconsider relations with Yangon.
The junta retorted that it would cease to cooperate with the ILO, in an
apparent declaration that the monitoring mission would not be allowed to
Sources in Yangon said earlier the ILO team had been permitted to visit
on May 17 to 19.
"An ILO technical team came last week to Yangon," a senior spokesman
for the military government confirmed in a statement. "I cannot
elaborate on the content and results at this stage."
The renewed contact with the ILO is another sign that a political shift
is under way in Myanmar, where top junta leaders have been meeting with
Aung San Suu Kyi in secret for the past eight months.
If it can convince the ILO and foreign governments
that it is making headway on the issue of forced labor and taking steps
towards democratic reforms, the junta may be able to start peeling back
sanctions and start developing the creaking economy.
A report on the agreement reached this month in Yangon will next month
go before an ILO general assembly in Geneva.
Xinhua: Some 131 Fires Occur in Myanmar in April
YANGON, May 25 (Xinhua) -- A total of 131 fires broke out in Myanmar in
April this year, causing a loss of 197.47 million Kyats (about 564,200
U.S. dollars) worth of property, according to the country's Fire
Department Friday. However, it declined to disclose the casualties in
the fire. Most of the fire cases in Myanmar were generally due to
negligence, while the others resulted from electrical faults and the
rest from arson.
Although the rainy season has set in all over the country which will
last until the beginning of October, the Myanmar authorities are urging
the people to continue to take fire prevention measures and to have
buildings, factories, warehouses and hospitals well inspected and get
fire equipment ready. Myanmar's fire prevention services are carried out
through over 540 fire stations and by over 71,300 firemen, according to
Xinhua: Myanmar Cooperatives to Take Part in Kunming Trade Fair
YANGON, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-seven Myanmar cooperatives will take
part in the Kunming Trade Fair 2001 scheduled to be held in China's
southwestern city of Kunming from June 6 to 10, according to the Myanmar
Ministry of Cooperatives Thursday. The Myanmar cooperatives, with a
110-member-strong delegation, will open 19 booths at the fair to display
their products such as gems, traditional handicrafts, lacquerware,
wood-work, gold embroidery and sculptures.
There is so far a total of 18,159 cooperative societies in Myanmar which
were formed since the country promulgated its Cooperatives Law in 1992
in line with its market-oriented economic system.
The cooperatives in Myanmar contributes 2.1 percent to the country's
national gross domestic product. According to official statistics,
Myanmar's foreign trade, including the border trade, totaled 4.086
billion U.S. dollars in 2000, of which imports were valued at 2.567
billion, while exports amounted to 1.519 billion. Myanmar's main foreign
trading partners are Singapore, China, Thailand, Republic of Korea and
The Nation: Burmese Shelling a 'Deliberate Act'
Wednesday, May 23, 2001
Commander Wattanachai says shells were fired to incite and distract Army
Five artillery shells were intentionally fired across the border from
Burma yesterday, landing in the compound of the Royal Project at Doi
Angkang in Chiang Mai's Fang district, according to Third Army Commander
Lt Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong.
This prompted return fire and a strong protest from the Thai military,
Wattanachai said the shells landed in the peach orchards of the Royal
Project, which is situated near Hua Lone Hill, the scene of recent
fighting between the Army and troops from the United Wa State Army
(UWSA). There were no reports of casualties or serious damage.
?It was a deliberate act,? said Wattanachai, adding that it was the
first time that shells had fallen into the Royal Project, which is less
than a kilometre from the border.
The commander said that the Army had returned fire with eight rounds of
artillery in the direction from which it suspected the shells were
launched. It also issued a strong protest about the violation of Thai
sovereignty to the Burmese members of the Township Border Committee.
Wattanachai said there was currently no fighting on the opposite side
that could have spilled-over into Thailand. He said the area was now
under Burmese control after the retreat of Shan rebels who had moved to
other positions. He said he suspected that Burmese troops had intended
to incite the Thai military in order to distract their attention from
other border spots.
However, he said the overall border situation remained calm due to the
Meanwhile, actress Preeyanuch Panpradab and her boyfriend, TV producer
Noppol Komarachun, denied going to Loi Tai Lang, opposite Chiang Mai's
Pang Mapha district, to join the Shan rebels' Resistance Day on Monday.
Preeyanuch said she was shooting a new TV series in Pathum Thani on
Monday. ?I never thought of going there. How could I join the party,
when I dare not go even to the border,? she said.
Preeyanuch, whose novel Pai Keb Paen Din Thee Sin Chat (Liberation of
the Lost Home) was inspired by the struggle of a Burmese minority group,
acknowledged that she had received numerous letters from Shan and Karen
people following the airing of the TV series Keb Paen Din, which was
based on her novel.
She denied that her new TV series about the drug cartels would include
scenes filmed in Shan territory.
Returning from Loi Tai Lang yesterday, veteran singer and songwriter
Surachai Chantima-thorn said his trip had nothing to do with the dispute
between Thailand and Burma.
?I joined them as one of their friends who sympathises with their
struggle. I see nothing wrong with my trip. Everyone has freedom of
thinking,? he said.
He and a few friends from Caravan, the legendary folk-blues band,
performed for the Shan soldiers for three hours. ?It was a very vibrant
party, joined by several thousand people,? he said.
AP: Myanmar general castigates 'superpowers'
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ The second-highest ranking general in Myanmar's
military government has condemned the ``bully-tactics'' of superpower
countries and said Myanmar will not give one inch of its territory.
Gen. Maung Aye's statements were reported in the state-controlled press
Wednesday as tensions continued with neighboring Thailand over frontier
disputes, ethnic minority rebels and drug trafficking. In recent months,
the tensions have escalated into cross-border shelling and minor armed
Also Wednesday, the Thai military said that Myanmar gunners, in a
``deliberate act of provocation,'' fired mortar shells into a royal
development project in northern Thailand on Tuesday.
Maung Aye, deputy military commander and deputy chairman of the ruling
State Peace and Development Council, was clearly referring to the
problems with Thailand when he said that ``continued use of
bully-tactics are seen in the present world.''
``Superpowers are trying to dominate small nations using various means
including pretexts of human rights, democracy and drug eradication,''
said Maung Aye at a meeting with local officials in Sittway, 500
kilometers (300 miles) northwest of Yangon, on Tuesday.
``We have no intention to encroach on others' territory and we will not
allow the loss of one inch of our territory,'' he said.
His remarks seemed to be directed not only at Thailand but also at the
United States, a close ally of Thailand and a leading critic of the
Myanmar government's poor human rights record and failure to stop the
Thailand and the United States say that the junta gives a free hand to
the Wa ethnic minority guerrilla group, which is believed to be a major
producer of the illegal drug methamphetamine in the border area near
Thailand. The drug has been declared by Thailand as its biggest social
Thai army recently dislodge Wa fighters from a hill
claimed by both countries.
The hill is located near Doi Angkhang, the site of the royal
agricultural project that was reportedly targeted by Myanmar shells
Thai Army Col. Akadet Thongwarawit said he sent a protest note to his
Myanmar counterparts charging that Myanmar forces intentionally fired at
least five mortar rounds into the royal project in Chiang Mai province.
He said Thai gunners retaliated with warning shots across the border,
adding that Thai troops would retaliate in the event of further border
The Doi Angkhang project is one of numerous development efforts by Thai
King Bhumibol Adulyadej to improve rural incomes and get hilltribe
people to grow coffee, vegetables and other crops instead of opium.
Given the king's great popularity, the shelling was likely to spark
tension and resentment against Myanmar, Krisada Boonraj, the local
district chief, said in a telephone interview.
He said one shell landed less than 100 meters (100 yards) from a royal
villa on the grounds of the project. No injuries were reported.
Bangkok Post: Tough talking on drugs, weak stomach on border
May 24, 2001.
Military stand-offs detracting from drugs effort, despite Thaksin's
extravagant promises Anuraj Manibhandu and Achara Ashayagachat
The government would not accept the stalemate on the Thai-Burmese border
as a barometer of its performance in foreign affairs.
The dispute persists, however, and has not been helped by conflicting
messages from ministers.
While the government talks tough on drugs, it appears to lose its nerve
when Burma violates its sovereignty. Such confusion may not be doing
either cause much good.
In the government's defence, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathiarathai
says border skirmishes and exchanges of invective were around long
before he and his colleagues took office.
The disputes were at a local, not government level, he said, without
mentioning Foreign Ministry protests against Burma's incursion into Thai
territory at Hua Lone Hill on May 7.
Rangoon has ignored the protest, and an earlier one after its push into
Ban Pang Noon in early February, and keeps its border at Tachilek
Few would challenge the government if Thai Rak Thai Party leader Thaksin
Shinawatra had not boasted about his ability to sweet-talk the generals
into changing their ways even before he was installed as prime minister.
During a post-election visit to the Bangkok Post on January 29, he said
the government would persuade Burma that democracy was a good thing. He
said Burmese leaders had wanted to talk with him for a long time but he
had been in no position to make it happen.
Ten days later, as he was installed as prime minister on Feb 9, Burmese
troops thrust into Ban Pang Noon.
On Feb 12, Mr Thaksin said he would go to Rangoon with Defence Minister
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. Several conflicting statements later, on May 15,
Mr Surakiart said the prime minister would postpone the trip until
Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung visited Bangkok.
The government's first mistake was its vow to use personal relations to
mend ties with Burma, says Kraisak Choonhavan, chairman of the Senate
foreign affairs committee.
The border stand-off had thrown into sharp relief the defence minister's
tiffs with the army, especially its Third Region in the North.
Gen Chavalit, known for an accommodating stance towards the junta since
his controversial repatriation of Burmese students in 1988, did not
endear himself to the troops by suggesting that Hua Lone hill was not
worth the effort.
Chaiyachoke Chullasiriwongse, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn
University, said he was worried about the differences. Co-ordination was
lacking, he said.
While the foreign minister was in Rangoon trying to mend ties, he said
army radio broadcast an interview with a Shan leader which Rangoon
probably took as evidence of
Thai support for the Shan, whose fighters are embroiled in the border
conflict along with the Red Wa, which the junta backs.
M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, former deputy foreign minister, said
conflicting remarks by the minister and Third Army Region commander
Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong had caused "disarray".
The Democrat-led government had never condemned the junta in Rangoon,
and Thai-Burmese relations had deteriorated "right after the workshop"
in Chiang Rai presented Mong Yawn as a drugs production centre.
Surapong Jayanama, former East Asian Affairs department head for the
ministry, said Burma was a military state with a militarist mindset. The
government should convince Burma to co-operate by applying "a strong
gesture, not by appeasement", he said.
"Unity in our society is important. We have to show a more collective
stand," he said. Diplomacy with Burma could only be effective with the
public support inherent in a democratic system and military back-up.
The government's failure to break the border stalemate could be
explained by the higher priority it sets on fighting drugs-though one
could argue that drugs and the border amount to one and the same thing.
Mr Surakiart said the border was not unimportant, but the biggest issue
in Thai-Burmese relations was drugs.
The government could also argue that most of the shared 2,400km border
has been left undemarcated for years.
But critics could say that no other government has been confronted with
such a long border stand-off, which even beats the rifts on the border
with Cambodia during the civil war there 20 years ago.
Burma, which has procrastinated on the demarcation issue, seems to be
testing the government's resolve. A joint boundary committee is
effectively on ice. The issue peaked during talks in China, the United
States and Burma, just three of the 14 countries the minister says he
has visited in three months.
To claim real success, Mr Kraisak said, the minister must secure Burma's
signature on a drug-fight memorandum of understanding that has been in
the pipeline for years.
Drawing China into the drugs fight with Thailand and Burma was another
good move, he said.
Zhu Rongji, the Chinese premier, and Mr Thaksin over the weekend agreed
to include Laos as a fourth participant, and to involve heads of
government, not just foreign ministers. China offered to host the
meeting of prime ministers in Kunming. Laos' inclusion came as a
surprise but Mr Surakiart said he had broached the matter with his Lao
counterpart, Somsavat Lengsavad, during a visit to Vientiane.
Mr Kraisak also believed Japan, a major provider of humanitarian aid to
Burma, should be included in a collective drive against drugs. Beyond
drugs, the government's foreign dealings have followed its economic and
Mr Thaksin has yet to deliver on his promise to help Thai fishermen,
half of whom went out of business after Burma closed its waters in
October 1999 when its embassy in Bangkok was seized by exiles. He is
also under pressure from Malaysia to get the gas pipeline going,
although Mr Surakiart said talk of rapid progress in three months was
Malaysia's interpretation of a turn of phrase.
But the prime minister has made much of deals he made with Mr Zhu,
including pledges to buy Thai rice and rubber, and consider tariff
breaks for dried lamyai.
The return favour China seems to expect is worrying. Mr Zhu repeated
China's wish to invest $1 billion in paper production from eucalyptus
trees to be planted in Thailand. Will this government yield where the
Chuan Leekpai government resisted on such an environmentally sensitive
issue? Citing headway with neighbours and a diplomatic drive supportive
of the government's bid for economic recovery, Mr Surakiart argues his
mission is succeeding.
If third-party diplomatic pressure (from China or Japan, for example)
succeeds in bringing Burma around to the drugs fight cause, well and
But the confusing messages the government sends on border incursions and
drugs can only be to Burma's advantage. People could be forgiven for
questioning its sincerity.
Meanwhile, Rangoon gives with one hand while it takes with the other.
Bangkok Post: Shan Seek World Attention
Wednesday, May 23, 2001
Gravity of situation is in Burma, they say
Subin Khuenkaew and Nauvarat Suksamran
A Shan State Army leader has called on the world community to help stamp
out drug production in Burma and end the problem once and for all.
Col Yod Suek, chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State, made
the call during celebrations to mark Shan Resistance Day at a base
opposite Mae Hong Son's Pang Ma Pha district.
While praising the world community for helping Thailand in its fight
against drugs, Col Yod Suek said they should focus on drug manufacturing
?It is good to help Thailand, but it is just a transit point. The
gravity of the situation is in Burma where the drugs are produced.
?However, our campaign against drugs, a means to total independence from
the Burmese junta, hasn't received any support,? he said.
The SSA was willing to co-operate with any country that wanted to stamp
out drugs, he said. His forces had been successful so far in their fight
Col Yod Suek said it had always been the SSA's policy to combat drugs
and border clashes with Burmese troops were part of that campaign.
?We were fighting drugs before Thailand stepped in, and we'll continue
doing it,? he said.
Singer Surachai Chantimathorn showed up at the Shan base for the
celebrations, attended by almost 1,000 people, to sing them
Mr Surachai, also known as Nga Caravan, said he was there to lend moral
support and study the life of Shan people who have been fighting
suppression for decades.
?I've been performing in Indochina for a long time. I express what I've
seen through songs and writing,? he said.
Reuters: Thailand to close Myanmar student camp by year-end
BANGKOK, May 24 (Reuters) - Thailand hopes to close a border camp for
exiled Myanmar students by the end of the year after sending the
refugees to other countries, a senior Thai official said on Thursday.
Bhairote Brohmsarn, a deputy permanent secretary at the Interior
Ministry, told Reuters Thailand was trying to send all
498 Myanmar students at the Maneeloy camp to other countries.
``We are trying to send the remaining students to the third countries
and hope to close the camp as soon as possible, possibly by the
year-end,'' Bhairote told Reuters.
The camp, around 150 km (95 miles) west of Bangkok, was set up in 1992
to host pro-democracy student activists who fled Myanmar after
crackdowns by the military in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It once
held as many as 3,000 refugees.
The Myanmar military held elections in 1990, which were won by the
National League for Democracy of Aung San Suu Kyi. But the military
ignored the result and many opposition supporters fled the country.
Bhairote said Thailand had coordinated with the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees to relocate the students to the United States, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia.
He said about 50 students in the camp had not yet been found a country
to go to.
Thai security authorities last year said they hoped to close the camp
early this year.
Maneeloy is one of 11 refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border
housing a total of around 140,000 refugees.
U.N. agencies have voiced concerns about living conditions in some
camps. But Thai officials have defended them, saying conditions there
are no different from villages nearby.
Bhairote said Thailand also planned to close down a small refugee camp
near the Thai-Laos border, after all 38 people there had been sent to
AP: Villagers protest against Myanmar shelling of royal project
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Villagers shouting anti-Myanmar slogans
demonstrated in northern Thailand Thursday to protest against shelling
by Myanmar troops that narrowly missed a royal villa.
About 3,000 villagers from various communities gathered outside the
town hall in Fang in Chiang Mai province, waving national flags and
banners and shouting anti-Myanmar insults through loudspeakers.
They demanded that the government take tougher action against Myanmar
Border tensions between Myanmar and Thailand have escalated into a
series of skirmishes in recent months, plunging their relations to the
lowest level in years.
The Thai military lodged an official protest on Wednesday, saying
Myanmar gunners, in a ``deliberate act of provocation,'' fired mortar
shells into the Doi Angkhang royal development project in Chiang Mai
province on Tuesday.
``Myanmar troops fired mortars on a highly respected place like the
compound of the royal project. It is unacceptable to Thai people,''
protest leader Phanit Kamolrattan told The Associated Press in a
telephone interview from Fang.
He claimed that Myanmar troops have fired more than 10,000 shells into
Thailand during the past month. ``I think it is time for Gen. Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh as defense minister to do something or resign,'' Phanit
The Thai army said Myanmar forces intentionally fired at least five
mortar rounds, one of which landed less than 100 meters (yards) from a
royal villa on the grounds of the project. No injuries were reported but
Thai gunners retaliated with warning shots, the army said.
The Doi Angkhang project is one of numerous development efforts by the
highly popular Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej to improve rural incomes and
get hilltribe people to grow coffee, vegetables and other crops instead
The Nation: Burma insults former King
May 24, 2001.
NEW LIGHT OF MYANMAR:
Burma's state-run New Light of Myanmar on Monday attacked a Thai King
who ruled Siam in the mid-19th century, distorting a Thai academic's
work to accuse the monarch of wrongdoing.
Due to legal implications, The Nation is unable to quote verbatim from
the article titled "Never been enslaved, but real slave", which appeared
in Monday's edition of New Light of Myanmar. It was penned by Ma Tin
Win, of Burma's Institute of Education.
Quoting at length the research by Thai historian Rong Syamananda as a
pretext to |heap criticism on this particular king, Tin Win chose to
interpret Rong's scholarly and respected work - which detailed Siam's
negotiations with Britain on August 16, 1855 - in ways that appear
designed to serve Bur-ma's ongoing propaganda campaign against Thailand.
Tin Win also compared the differences between Burma's and Siam's
response to colonial pressures. She concluded that Burma was smarter in
dealing with Britain because Burma refused to give extra-territorial
jurisdiction to Britain following its defeat in the first Anglo-Burmese
The New Light of Myanmar is the official mouthpiece of the Burmese junta
leaders, known as the State Council of Peace and Development.
In response to this serious allegation, and others made on Saturday and
Sunday by the same mouthpiece, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai
yesterday instructed Thai ambassador Oum Maolanond to lodge an oral
protest to U Thaung Tun, Burmese Director General of the Political
Department of the Foreign Ministry, according to the ministry's
spokesman, Norachit Singhaseni.
The spokesman said that these articles were not conducive to
Thai-Burmese relations. "It will inevitably cause damage to bilateral
ties. The Royal Institute is the most revered institute in Thailand. To
engage the Royal members in such a way is unfitting and will not help
boost ties," Norachit said.
This is not the first time the New Light of Myanmar has attacked a Thai
monarch. In the past few months, it has criticised Thailand and Kings in
general without naming names, as it did in the past few days.
During the previous government, the strongest protest by top leaders and
summons of Burmese envoys were common.
On May 19 last year, the junta's mouthpiece threatened to expose Thai
officials engaged in drug-trafficking "including those of Royal blood".
In response, former foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan confronted Gen Khint
Nyunt on June 6 at Don Muang Airport.
Thailand raised this issue again at the Asean Summit last November in
Singapore. Former deputy foreign minister MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra also
summoned previous Burmese ambassador U Hla Maung when Burmese troops
violated Thai territory.
Thai-Burmese relations have undergone severe tests under the Thaksin
government. Border clashes and other forms of agitation have been
frequent along the 2,401-km border. Since coming to power, Thai leaders
including the prime minister, Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
and Foreign Minster Surakiart Sathirathai have expressed a desire to
visit Burma. Surakiart did go recently, but failed to achieve any
Thaksin also said he would visit Burma to improve ties. Yet no Burmese
leaders have visited Thailand. Burmese Foreign Minister U Win Aung said
he would pay a return visit to Thailand but has so far given no
timeframe for such a trip.
Xinhua: Thai FM Orders Protest Against Myanmar for Controversial Article
BANGKOK, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai
has instructed the Thai ambassador in Rangoon to lodge a strong protest
to Myanmar government over a controversial article in a Myanmar official
newspaper that is said to have insulted a much revered Thai monarchy,
the Thai News Agency reported Friday. Surakiat was quoted as saying that
the state-run New Light of Myanmar on Monday published an article, which
attacked a Thai King in the mid-19th century, distorting a Thai
academic's work to accuse the monarch of wrongdoing.
He also ordered the Thai foreign ministry to summon the Myanmar
ambassador in Bangkok to receive a memorandum on the protest, which is
considered an act of the strongest protest in a diplomatic way. The
minister said he had called on the Myanmar government to step up efforts
to ease the misunderstanding and give an assurance that the event would
not happen again. Surakiat said he had also assigned officials to stop
spreading the distorted article since it has an English version and
could be reached on the net. The incident, he said, had caused a
widespread discontent among Thai people, and it could inevitably cause
damage to bilateral relations and impede efforts by governments of the
two countries to normalize the ties. After the incident, the Thai
government is reportedly reviewing its stance towards Myanmar.
AFP: Thai-Myanmar relations deteriorating: Thaksin
BANGKOK, May 24 (AFP) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra admitted
Thursday that the troubled relationship between Thailand and
neighbouring Myanmar was deteriorating further.
"All the problems have contributed to increasing misunderstanding. We
have to talk -- if not there is no way to resolve the growing distrust,"
A simmering row centred on the drug-infested border region flared again
this week when the state-run New Light of Myanmar published an article
criticising Thailand's revered monarchy.
The Thai government lodged a sternly worded aide memoire over the
article, a day after it issued an official protest over a shell attack
Tuesday which targeted a royal-initiated agricultural border project.
"The articles have gone beyond the accepted bounds and norms of
behaviour by thoughtlessly affronting the most revered institution of
the Thai nation and people," the aide memoire said.
The comments were designed to "incite hatred" between the people of the
two countries and were certain to "cause severe damage to Thai-Myanmar
relations and the momentum of rapport hitherto established by our
Thaksin said he would spend the next two days reviewing policy towards
Myanmar, and conceded that its stance needed to be adjusted as soon as
"There are two parts of the policy -- the first is security along the
border and the second is international relations. They should be tuned
so that they move in the same direction," he said.
The premier said the Thai government agencies dealing with Myanmar
needed to be better coordinated and improve their access to information
so that they were better equipped to map out correct policy.
The New Light of Myanmar Monday launched an attack on King Mongkut, who
ruled Siam in the mid-19th century, in an article entitled "Never been
enslaved, but real slave".
King Mongkut was popularised in the various musical and film versions
of "The King and I", which have always been banned here out of deference
to the monarchy.
The Thai parliament debated the article, which was splashed on the
front page of the local press, in a closed door session Thursday.
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Let's cultivate Alaungphaya spirit
Wednesday, 23 May, 2001
We have seen on TV, heard from radio and read in the dailies that the
people are presenting gifts to the Tatmadawmen discharging duties in
border areas at the risk of their lives to ensure perpetuation of
sovereignty. As the gifts are stuck with the words " cultivate the
Alaungphaya Spirit" and "apply the strategy of Alaungphaya" let along
the soldiers, ordinary citizens who have read the words are vitalized
with high degree of patriotism. King Alaungphaya (a) King Alaungmintaya
not only founded the Third Myanmar Empire with significant glory, but
also taught a good lesson to the Siamese (Thais), who made shameless
intrusion on regions in Myeik and Taninthayi when national solidarity
His son, King Hsinbyushin, too, decisively and totally defeated the
Siamese (Thais) to stop them from intruding into others' territory
again. What is Alaungphaya spirit? The Headman of Moakhsobo Village,
Alaungphaya selected 68 skilled cavalry men and began to reunite the
nation which broke up into pieces with all the physical and spiritual
abilities. But he never accepted anyone as master and never relied on
anybody. He never considered accepting foreign assistance. He built the
nation and crushed all the enemies with his own efforts and the internal
strength. What is the strategy of Alaungphaya? The brilliant military
strategy of Myanmar was shown during the Hainggyi Island incident. All
the battles, strategies and tactics of Alaungphaya were the milestones
in the history. The battles were launched with gallantry based on
physical and mental ability. The courageous spirit and strategies of
Alaungphaya who never intruded into others' territory, and never
yielded to any alien intrusions on Myanmar are still in the hearts of
The Myanmar soldiers are encountering the wicked Siamese (Thai) troops
and drug trafficking insurgents in remote border areas. Thus, all the
people should boycott Siamese (Thai) goods and provide gifts to the
Tatmadawmen in assisting the Tatmadaw. It has already been publicly
announced that consumption of the monosodium glutamate and soft drinks
such as Red Bull brand soft drink produced with wicked intention by the
Siamese (Thais) will harm the intellectual and physical growth; thus it
is a shame for anyone who continues to consume the Siamese (Thai) goods
out of low know-ledge. It will be like encouraging the enemy and will
lead to weakening of nationalism. As it is the national cause, no one
should remain indifferent. We hate the colonialist as we had to live
for nearly 100 years under them. We are still opposing the
colonialists. But we must be always aware of the nearest enemy who is
the colonialists' lackey. It is required to assess and face the Siam
(Thailand) which has always seen Myanmar as its enemy throughout
history. All should revitalize the Alaungphaya spirit. It is required
to teach the students and youth to know about the bad neighbour and to
render assistance in uplifting the youths' physical and spiritual
strength. Despite the good-neighbourly practices we are exercising, it
is showing aggressive attitude; if Siam (Thailand) continues to adopt
this attitude, we will have to prepare ourselves to react it in
appropriate manner. The wicked and crooked practices of Siam (Thailand)
are many. It is raising and using multi-insurgents at the border to
smuggle out various kinds of natural resources from Myanmar. Siam
(Thailand) in collusion with drug smugglers is trying to gain large
amounts of profits.
It is putting all the blame on Myanmar. It has been long since news are
coming out that Siam (Thailand) is stealing land to dam streams at the
border. It has become the centre of prostitution business. Petpon
located in Bangkok, the seat of the Siamese (Thai) government, is
infamous for its brothels. How can the army, police and civilian
personnel of a nation like that be sincere and of good character. It is
ridiculous that the nation of thieves is telling the beads. Siam
(Thailand) has no ability of its own, and nor has maintained cordial
relations with its neighbours and has instead, yielded to the domination
of the white men from afar. The only result is the thriving
prostitution and drug business and having to deal with the neighbours
as the enemies in accord with its masters, wish. And yet it is not
If the recent border clashes are studied, the insults and intrusions of
Siam (Thailand) can be seen clearly. It made aggressive attacks on
Myanmar side to force the Myanmar troops to leave O-7 hillock, which is
owned by Myanmar and always run by Myanmar troops, on 11 February.
Cowardly, Siam (Thailand) used heavy weapons fire power. The worst is
that it fired heavy weapons shells on Tachilek. It also attacked the
Pachee outpost at an unguarded moment with over 200 men using excessive
heavy weapons fire power on 22 April.
Only about 20 Myanmar soldiers were stationed at the outpost for area
security. Siam (Thailand) also shelled BP-1 camp with over 500 heavy
weapons rounds from 23 April to 25 April. Though its troops managed to
seize the Pachee outpost at unguarded moment, The Siamese (Thai) troops
had to carry their bodies and retreated into their territory. The
Siamese (Thai) troops had practically experienced the Alaungphaya
spirit of Myanmar Tatmadaw in BP-1 battle. The Myanmar Tatmadaw managed
to recapture the Pachee outpost on 3 May.
By witnessing the incidents, Siam (Thailand) should understand that the
Myanmar Tatmadaw never intrudes into any other's territory and that it
always crushes the intrusions with Alaungphaya spirit. We have no
racial hatred and never entertain ill will towards Siam (Thailand).
When Siam changed its name to Thailand, the Myanmars as the civilized
people called the nation Thailand. But the Siamese (Thais) cannot call
the official name "Myanmar" but instead they are calling us "Phama" or
'Burma". Moreover, the anti-Myanmar media gain strength. A Siamese
(Thai) film named "Banrajan' is about the Siamese (Thai) resistance
against the Myanmar army during the reign of King Alaungphaya.
The film shows Myanmars as cruel infidels. What the Siamese (Thais)
should know is that the true Theravada Buddhism has flourished most in
Myanmar throughout the successive eras. The Myanmar-Siamese wars during
the reign of King Alaungphaya were to teach Siamese (Thais) a good
lesson as they were intruding into Myeik and Taninthayi regions.
Siamese (Thais) greed for the ownership of Taninthayi peninsular is not
less than that for Kengtung. It can be found clearly in history, that
the Siam (Thailand) has always intruded into the Myanmar territory
whenever Myanmar was weak. It can be found in Siamese history that King
Anawrahta, the founder of the First Myanmar Empire, conquered all the
Cochinchina region in addition to winning the entire Siam (Thailand).
King Bayintnaung defeated Siam (Thailand) for many times. Till now,
Siamese (Thais) are worshipping King Bayintnaung as a divinity. King
Alaungphaya and his son King Hsinbyushin conquered the entire Siam
(Thailand). Every time when the calibre of the leader and the people of
the different nations are tested, the better ones always win. If Siam
(Thailand) can take this as a lesson, it should stop all its aggression
on Myanmar. As Siam (Thailand) is insulting others under the influence
of its masters, it is like one against many in the community. It does
not need to insult its neighbouring countries, if it wants to promote
Siam (Thailand) should crush its narcotic drug traffickers and try to
change its positions as being the centre of prostitution and to free
itself from the life of a total lackey of its masters. It will gain
nothing by launching programmes to hate Myanmar instead of trying to
guard against corruption, bribery and loss of culture. The only thing
it will gain is the sour relations with Myanmar. Moreover, I would like
to warn Siam (Thailand) that it will be given a good lesson by Myanmar
with the Alaungphaya spirit. .
Author : Htet Aung
Xinhua: Myanmar Links Sovereignty to Development
YANGON, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar can exist as a sovereign nation only
when its economic, political and social sectors develop on all fronts,
said Wednesday's official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar. Quoting
the country's senior leader General Maung Aye, the paper pointed out
that there are independent countries, sovereignty of which is not firm
or perpetual. Meeting with local administrative officials of Western
Rakhine state during his inspection tour on Monday, Maung Aye, Vice-
Chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council, Deputy
Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services and Commander-in- Chief of
the Army, said his government is striving on all fronts to enable the
country to stand firmly as a sovereign nation and to protect it from
falling under the domination of the big nations. He warned that his
government will not let an inch of the nation's territory be lost,
saying that at the same time it has no wish to intrude into or occupy
He also pointed out that at present, the practice of hegemonism is
existing in the world with the big nations applying various means to
dominate the small nations by giving human rights, democracy and drug
elimination as excuses. He pledged that Myanmar is exerting its utmost
efforts to stand firmly on its path and get abreast with other nations,
while building all sectors including the political, economic and social
fields. He reaffirmed Myanmar's foreign policy that it maintains its
cordial relations with other countries in accordance with the Five
Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the ten principles of Bandung
Conference. Myanmar regained independence and became a sovereign nation
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