[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
BurmaNet News: May 31, 2001 (r)
- Subject: BurmaNet News: May 31, 2001 (r)
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 09:08:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
May 31, 2001 Issue # 1814
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
NOTED IN PASSING: 36
The number of Thai citizens killed along the border by the Burma army
and its allies in recent years. See Project Maje: Body Count--Summary
of Thai Casualties of Burma Army and its allies
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Bangkok Post: Keeping the Faith
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Lahu leader--Junta employing a different
forced relocation program
*Bangkok Post: Old Roots for New Troubles
*The Nation: What's Behind Junta's Anti-Thai Campaign?
*Independent Mon News Agency: SPDC Plans to Construct a Gas-pipeline to
*Project Maje: Body Count--Summary of Thai Casualties of Burma Army and
*The Nation: If Thaksin Fails in Rangoon, it Could Mean War
*Freedom News (SSA): Excerpt on interviews with Sao Yawd Serk
*DVB : Palaung region reportedly permitted to grow poppies for road
*Bangkok Post: Drug Suppression--plans for a Wa State Could Threaten
*The Nation: PM's Burma Surprise
*The Nation: Thaksin Plays it Cool over Burma
*Kyodo: Japan--Trade unions set up office to help promote democracy in
*Energy Day: Fuelling Oppression
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Wish they do not to cry their heart
out like BanyaU
*PD Burma: Calendar of events
*Amnesty International: Myanmar Country Report 2001
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Bangkok Post: Keeping the Faith
Tuesday, May 29, 2001
Jews in Buddhist Burma live freely but for how long?
Rangoon, Burma, AP
Moses Samuels refuses to migrate to Israel. He has a legacy to tend to.
The caretaker of Burma's only synagogue, Samuels is the standard bearer
for the country's rapidly shrinking Jewish community, now just 20 souls
and in danger of disappearing in another generation.
In this predominantly Buddhist country, Samuels, 50, is as much an icon
of Judaism as the 105-year-old Musmeah Yeshua synagogue, one of
Rangoon's most distinctive buildings with its blue Star of David and
brown window shutters.
&;If I leave, who will look after this place? asks Samuels, who
inherited the voluntary care taker's job from his father.
'This is our heritage. It is more important to me than Israel. Nobody
can force me to emigrate, he says while walking a visitor through the
The two-storey, whitewashed synagogue was built between 1893 and 1896 in
typical British colonial architecture, replacing an earlier wooden
structure erected in 1846.
Its interior offers a vivid contrast between the old and the new. On the
walls hang Israeli tourism posters and an oil painting of the Western
Wall in Jerusalem's Old City looking down on colonial-era teak benches
with woven wicker seats.
Two 100-year-old copies of the Torah, Judaism's holy book, are encased
in Oriental silver cylinders. Quartz clocks with Star of David faces
cram the shelves in an antechamber that serves as Samuels' office.
The Jews of Burma are descendants of 19th century migrants from Iraq,
Europe and India who came either with the British colonial army or as
teak, rice and cotton traders.
Before World War Two, more than 2,500 Jews lived in Burma, most of them
with roots in Baghdad, Iraq, which once had a thriving Jewish community
among its predominantly Muslim population.
By 1969, the number of Jews here had dwindled to 500, and now only eight
families remain. The rest moved to the United States, Australia, India
and Israel in search of better lives or drawn by their faith to the
Jews have fared well in military-ruled Burma, says Amir Shaviv of the
New York-based American Joint Distribution Committee, a nonpolitical
Jewish relief group.
Burma's junta is widely criticised for its human rights record against
political opponents such as democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and her
followers. But it is generally acknowledged that the government permits
freedom of worship to all faiths.
The politics of Burma has not affected the status of the Jewish
community at all. They don't suffer as Jews, says Shaviv, whose group
has been helping Jews here for 50 years.
The real threat to the Jewish community comes from a circle of
self-destruction. Emigration has made it harder for young members to
find spouses, leading to more migration and marriages outside the
Demographically speaking it seems that the community faces extinction,
Shaviv says. However, in our experiences many communities that were
labelled extinct have come to life when circumstances changed rapidly.
For example, he says, political change in Burma could spur business,
bringing foreign businessmen including Jews who could re-establish a
community just as others did two centuries ago.
But until then, the future looks gloomy.
Among Burma's 20 Jews, only five are unmarried: Samuels' 20-year-old son
and 22- and 25-year-old daughters, and a 38-year-old woman. None has any
immediate plans to marry.
Sammy Samuels, the youngest of Burma's Jews who recently returned after
spending a year in Israel at a kibbutz, plans to go to college in the
United States to study computer software.
But if I marry, I would want to her to move to Burma. Otherwise I won't
marry, he says.
With such a small community, Friday prayers are subdued affairs,
attended by four or five people. Always in attendance are Samuels and
his son. The synagogue hasn't had a rabbi since 1968, so Sammy leads the
prayers, being the only person who can read Hebrew.
During high holidays the synagogue comes alive, transforming into an
interfaith assembly of Jews and well-wishers that include non-Jew
spouses and Samuels' neighbours and friends in the predominantly ethnic
Indian neighbourhood where Samuels lives.
On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Samuels organises a feast,
serving typical Jewish food such as falafel, pita bread and roast
chicken. His Indian friends, who are Muslims and Hindus, bring Indian
savories such as samosas and rasgulla sweets.
The synagogue is in downtown Rangoon near the end of a narrow one-way
street lined on both sides with hardware stores owned mostly by ethnic
Samuels says money for the old synagogue's upkeep is always a problem.
He depends mostly on donations and help from the Joint Distribution
Samuels, who has Iraqi, Iranian and British heritage, often ends up
using money from his family's party-furniture rental business.
My father made me promise that I would never allow the synagogue to
close down as long as I live. I can't let him down, Samuels says.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Lahu leader--Junta employing a different
forced relocation program
30 May 2001
A leader of a Lahu opposition group told S.H.A.N. recently that Rangoon
had changed its tactics of getting rid of the Shan population by forced
relocations that was in force in 1996-98.
"This time it is to make life so miserable for the Shans that they have
no choice but to flee", said Japhet a.k.a. Jakui, 54, newly elected
General Secretary of the Lahu Democratic Front, an opposition group
from the Shan State.
"For instance, Mongpak and Mongkhawn near Kengtung used to be populous
and thriving villages in the past. But now hundreds of families have
gone, many of them into Thailand. Yet still many chose to flee to the
distant mountains and forests in order to be free to exorbitant
extortions and demands from the local Burmese forces", he said.
According to Japhet, although violations are also committed in non-Shan
sectors, they are "most severe" against the Shans. "The Burmese rarely
levy porters from the Lahu villages, but Shan villagers are constantly
on the demand not only for free portering but also for free labor in
building roads, barracks and all they can think of", he said.
Moreover, they are still expected to sell rice to the authorities in
accordance with the quota fixed earlier, which was clearly impossible
for most of them to meet. Others agreed with Japhet. "They faced
imprisonment on the one side and unpayable debts on the other, so most
of them chose to flee", said one of his colleague.
"Another reason is the confiscation of ricefields from the people
thereby depriving them of the means to make a living".
"It is happening in many parts of eastern Shan State", said another, an
ex-university student from Mongkhark, north of Kengtung. "It has forced
hundreds of thousands of Shans to leave their native places".
He thought that many people must have fled to Thailand though he heard
reports about some small Shan settlements popping up in remote mountains
According to Dispossessed, a report published by the Shan Human Rights
Foundation in 1998, some 15,000 villages comprising 300,000 villagers in
central Shan State during the Burmese Army's campaign against the Shan
State Army of Yawdserk.
Bangkok Post: Old Roots for New Troubles
Thursday, May 31, 2001
As if things weren't bad enough along our border with Burma, a couple of
generals in Rangoon are having a row and this is just making things
A good old-fashioned struggle between the forces of change, in the shape
of Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the sinisterly titled State
Peace and Development Council, and the forces of keeping things just the
way they are, in the form of Gen Maung Aye, the Burmese army
commander-in-chief, is being blamed for the present oppressive mood
along the border dividing Thailand from Burma.
The recent shelling of a royal project in Chiang Mai's Fang district
from across the border and sharp criticisms of two past Thai monarchs by
Burma's state-owned New Light of Myanmar newspaper can be traced back to
this conflict in Rangoon, according to knowing sources.
The sharp criticism of the Thai kings came as a real surprise, said one
senior member of the Thai cabinet. Rangoon should be well aware that
this kind of attack on our highest institution must worsen ties between
our two countries.
The minister is convinced that the recent escalation of tensions along
the border are the direct result of the intensifying power struggle in
Rangoon between Gen Maung Aye and Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt. The latter is the
head of the Burmese military intelligence and No.3 in the overall junta
Among the pair's differences was Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt's strong opposition
to Gen Maung Aye's efforts to name Lt-Gen Tin
Oo, who died in a helicopter crash near our border in late February, as
One veteran border watcher said the Stalinist New Light of Myanmar was
under the direct command of Gen Maung Aye.
It was Gen Maung Aye, the State Peace and Development Council's
vice-chairman, who accused Thailand early this month of bombing and
firing rockets from an F-16 jet fighter at Burmese troops posted near
the disputed Hua Lone hill. The claim has been rejected by the top Thai
government and military chieftains.
It is widely believed among border watchers that Gen Maung Aye was also
a prime mover behind Rangoon's surprise demand for the Thai army to
withdraw its troops from the disputed Doi Lang in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai
There are real concerns here that the Burmese troop build-up along parts
of the border, including the rugged terrain
around Doi Lang, could degenerate into military confrontation.
But a lieutenant to Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh quoted
the boss as saying he thought things could be worked out through the
process of informal discussions.
There are some encouraging developments from above that the situation
will soon return to normal, said the go-for.
Neither side will benefit from a worsening border situation, so the
defence minister is trying his utmost to prevent tensions from turning
The Nation: What's Behind Junta's Anti-thai Campaign?
Thursday, May 31, 2001
By border clashes and media smerars, the Burmese military seeks to
distract attention from drug trafficking, quieten the opposition and
The trip to Burma by UN special envoy Ismail Razali may give a hint
about the junta's motivation behind the border clashes and the anti-Thai
campaign in the state-owned Burmese media. The last minute cancellation
of a Township Border committee meeting prompted Burma observers to
seriously scrutinise the juta's internal politics.
We might first assume that the increasing tension between the Thai and
Burmese military is simply a consequence of the bordr clashes. Or
perhaps the junta is henuinely concrned about foreign invasion. There
assumptions see no political motivation behind the current conflict
between the two nations.
But some observers and most of the exiled political forces reject this
perception. Rather, the y see the current media affronts to Thailand or
the threat of war between the two nations as instruments used by the
military to accomplish a certain political agenda. The list of their
motivations include: to enforce their bargaining position in the
territorial despute at the border; to change the nature of conflict from
drug trafficking to a national clash implicating history and
anti-imperialism; to shift the public discontent on the exonomy,
education and politics to a foreign enemy; to push Aung San Suu Kyi and
the National League for Democracy to accept a certain political agenda;
to perpare for the total crushing of opposition forces as a consequence
of the failure of this dialogue.
In Burma, when the word yodaya- a colloquial but historically
contemptuous word for Thais - appears on a page, the censor's office
usually asks an editor to delete it and use Thai before public
distribution. 'But in the April issue of Myanmar Dana magazine, I found
a sentence printed on the editorial page that read yodaya instead of
recently too, the junta went too far by publishing a profane article
about a Thai monarch.
Had the conflict been simply a border clash, the junta would clearly be
seen to have over-reacted. However, the Thailand government should
review its policy on sanctions of strategic connodities in the border
trade in order to ensure that it has not provoked a violent backlash by
In fact, it hurts the Burmese pwople and Thai merchants more than the
United Wa State Army (UWSA). Furthermore, it is just a symbolic and not
a practical tgesture since the drutg warriors already have sound
knowledge of border routes and a network inside Thailand to transport
their commodities. Without trageting sanctions nrewly to hurt the UWSA,
the policy can be interpreted by the Burmese military as intent of
invasion. Obviously, it also gave the political elite room enough to
manipulate the nature of the drug conflict into a problem of national
sovereignty - a sensitive issue to any army in the world.
concern for an invasion is not just professional, but forms the sole
self-justified legitimacy of the Burmese military since its performance
in exonomy and politics after 1962 has been such a messy failure. In
October 2000, I called a friend who is a close friend of one of the
tactical commanders of Regional command in lower Burma. According to my
friend, a confidential internal memo reported that a colonel from the
CIA visited Rangoon in September 2000 as a tourist in order to spot
sites for air raids. Almost at the some time, another friend told me
that a colonel at military head-quarters warned him of a possible
disastrous event in Rangoon. Only the CIA is able to verify this
information. Anyway, it indicates either the junta's concern or phoney
manipulation of politics.
A public appearance on May 18 by Ne Win, well known as the Master
Manipulator in Burmese politics, may also be significant in the current
situation of the junta. General Maung Aye, Lt-General Khin Nyunt and
military and former party leaders attended a religious cermony held by
Ne Win at Mahawizaya Temple.
According to Dr Maung Maung, the last chairman of Burmese Socialist
Programme Party, Ne Win promised him to hold nimself ready to help in
the trasition, even after he had retired, if matters fell into violent
Teneral David Abel, minister of the prime minister's office, told
Barbara Victor, author of The Lady: Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, published
in 1998, that on several sccasions they tried to consult him. Clearly
the dialogue between Suu Kyi and the military leaders and the
Thailand-Burma conflict are serious enough to be included on the list of
the several occasions for the junta.
His political map has laid out a multiparty system provided that the
country is in order through military control. Keen observers take his
appearance as a sign of a political turn in the dialogue and an enforced
call for unity in the army. Whether this is good or bad for Burmese
politics should be looked at after Razali's trip.
Rationally, the Burmese military leaders cannot afford to stage a war
against Thailand in the current situation of domestic politico-economic
distress. But when it needs to consolidate its power primarily as an
institution, a war- at least, an imaginary one against foreigners - is
essential for its survival. Both hard-liners and moderates in the
military chose this path in the past.
Thailand policy makers should look closely at the twists and turns of
Burmese dialogue. Should Razali's comments be negative, people of both
countries should expect the worst. Otherwise, the current media campaign
may just be a fatuous manipulation by the junta to serve its political
ends- territorial quiet or both.
*Geoffery Hock is the pseudonym of a Burmese graduate student.
Independent Mon News Agency: SPDC Plans to Construct a Gas-pipeline to
Lands and Houses are Confiscated
[Internet posting May 30, 2001]
Tenasserim Division, Mon State
Since November 19, 2000, SPDC s some government departments and army
have planned to construct a gas-pipeline to bring natural gas from
Yadana gas field via Kanbauk area of Tenasserim Division to Pa-an
township of Karen State to provide the required energy for an extent
cement production factor in Myaing-kalay area of Pa-an township of Karen
State. There is an existing cement factory there and now SPDC has
extended another factory and so for the operation of this factory, SPDC
planned to construct a gas pipeline from Tenasserim Division, passing
into Mon State and then connecting into Karen State.
To implement this pipeline construction project, SPDC s Nationality Race
and Border Area Development Ministry, Construction Ministry (Minister Oo
Win) and Southeast Region Military Command (Southeast Command) have
coordinated each other and formed a gas pipeline constructing
corporation and planned all rough construction processes to complete
within 7 months. Thus, the concerned ministries department and army
battalions have participated in this project.
The corporation have planned to construct the pipeline along Yebyu-Ye
motor road that connects Tenasserim Division and Mon State; between Ye
and Moulmein motor and railways roads; along Moulmein-Kyaikmayaw motor
road by passing Attaran river bridge; from Kyaikmayaw township of Mon
State into Pa-an township of Karen State by passing Gyaing river bridge.
When corporation officials cleared the route for pipeline along Yebyu-Ye
motor road, it had passed into Yapu village tract and the lands and
fruit plantations owned by villagers were also confiscated by the
authorities. When the route passes into villages, the officials ordered
to cut down trees that lied in front of their house surrounding. The
bushes and trees along the motor road were also cleared by villagers
When the route passed between Ye Moulmein motor and railway roads, some
paddy farmlands in these areas have been also confiscated. When the
route into a Mon village near Thanbyuzayat town, called Wae-rat, about
20 houses and their gardens were also confiscated by officials on
November 27 and the villagers were ordered to destroy their houses, cut
their trees and leave from their houses within three days. The villagers
have been homeless and landless within 3 days.
Similarly when the route passed Wae-thun-chaung village, near Thanbyuzat
town, about 10 houses and lands were confiscated on November 29 and the
villagers were ordered to destroy their houses, cut their trees and
leave their houses within three days. Among the villagers, the houses
and lands owned by (1) Nai Mun Tin; (2) Nai Nai Nyan Sein; (3) Nai Ai;
(4) Nai Pyin; (5) Nai Kyaw Aye; (6) Nai Ohn; and (7) Nai Sein were also
confiscated and they became homeless within three days. Nai Sein had
lost totally about 0.7 million Kyats. As common abuse by government
authorities in Burma, no land and house owned by villager were
compensated and they also did not provide any new space of lands. Then,
the villagers suddenly displaced due to this government development
Accordingly to villagers, these confiscated lands have price about 0.5
million Kyat to 2 million Kyat per plot of lands. The lands price
differs because of different land spaces and trees have been grown in
lands. The villagers have been resided with their families in these
spaces of lands for over one hundred year and now they displaced within
Then, when the route passes into Kyaikmayaw township along the motor
road, although it does not cross into a village, about 50 feet of lands
which have some fruit trees and paddy farmlands owned by the villagers
in Kyaikmayaw township were confiscated. As estimation, about 200 acres
of lands with fruit trees and rice-fields along the motor road are
confiscated in Kyaikmayaw township and nobody received any compensated
Therefore in the official pipeline construction conducted by SPDC, some
hundreds of civilians in Tenasserim Division, Mon State and Karen State
have lost their lands, trees and houses. The government officials never
take responsibility for these victims and just gave a complaint that all
lands in Burma are own by the State.
Project Maje: Body Count--Summary of Thai Casualties of Burma Army and
May 30, 2001
The willingness of Burma's regime to slaughter "its own" citizens of all
ethnicities is notorious. Less well-known is the rather substantial body
count of Thai nationals. The deaths of Thai women, men and children;
civilians, soldiers and police, at the hands of official Burma military
units and their proxy militia (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army,
primarily) have gone largely unremarked on over the years. Compensation
is not paid to the victims' families, apologies are not issued, and the
arbitrary execution of these citizens of a neighboring free nation is
glossed over. The smooth commercial nature of Thai/Burmese relations
never seems to suffer for a moment. Imagine another sovereign state's
reaction if the troops and militia of a neighbor casually killed a dozen
or more of its people. One would think relations would grow icy if not
into full scale conflict.
The Thai "body count" below was researched on the BurmaNet news archive
using key words such as "Thai" "villager" "killed" "shelled" and "shot."
It is certainly not a comprehensive list. It covers 1995-1997; with a
few quite recent additions. There are many other examples, such as the
mid-90s shooting in the back of a mentally retarded Thai man by Burma
soldiers aiming across the northern border river. One hopes that these
victims will be remembered, not just by their grieving families, but by
those who understand the repressive nature of Burma's regime and how
widespread is the harm it does.
These reports are not all verified, but they give an indication of the
scope of the problem. Not included are the numerous instances in which
Thais were wounded and maimed by Burma regime troops and militia, or
were robbed of property or had their homes destroyed. As with the
marketing of methamphetamine and heroin, the heinous Yadana gas swindle,
and the all too symbolic bombardment of a particular peach orchard,
Burma's military junta apparently feels it can do anything it wishes to
Thailand, and receive nothing but ASEAN brotherly unconditional love in
1. April , 1995: "unconfirmed reports that 1 Thai soldier was killed" by
"intruders" at a refugee camp.
2. November 11, 1995: DKBA assault on a truck in Thailand, 9 year old
girl (Thai?) killed.
3. November 26, 1995: Driver (Thai?) of tourist van killed by DKBA.
4, 5. December 10, 1995: DKBA kills a Border Patrol officer and an
6. December 27, 1995: DKBA kills an 8 year old girl, Suda Panyasupatho;
near Mae Sot)
January 4, 1996 report: "6 Thais have been killed, including a Border
Patrol Police officer and three children" by the DKBA; since November, 4
incidents on the Mae Sot-Mae Sarieng Highway and 2 in Pop Phra district.
7. early February, 1996: Senior Sergeant Major Chamnong Charoenying
killed by DKBA.
8, 9, 10, 11,12,13. March 29, 1996 report: "Since last August... 6 Thais
were killed in 2 major clashes at sea" with Burmese Navy. (Asiaweek)
14. April 19, 1996: DKBA kills driver of pickup truck, Ms. Rungthip
Khampradit, 26, on Mae Ramat-Than Song Yang Highway.
15, 16, 17. August 1996: DKBA kills 3 Thais, including a Buddhist monk,
in Tha Song Yang
18, 19. August 30, 1996: "Recent killings of 2 Thai... workers by the
Burmese Navy." Wit Khan-ngern 39, Thanet Changmek, 35.
20. January 1997: DKBA raid on Don Pa Kiang (Huay Bong) refugee camp,
one Thai villager reported killed.
21. January 28/29, 1997: A Thai merchant is killed as DKBA raiders burn
refugee camp in Tak Province.
22, 23, 24. January 31, 1997: DKBA attacks police post and monastery,
killing a police officer, a Buddhist monk, and a villager.
25. February 18, 1997: NCUB claims that "a member of the Thai forces was
killed" during attack by SLORC troops.
26. May 30, 1997: DKBA kills Suthep Chankhamsaeng, 32, in raid on Thai
27, 28, 29, 30. August 28, 1997: Thai helicopter reportedly shot down by
SLORC Light Infantry Division 32; crew of 4 killed.
31. January 11, 2001: Sgt. Maj. Suvit Rungarunkarn killed by military
32, 33. February 10?, 2001: Two Thai villagers killed by Burma military
34, 35, 36. May 2, 2001: Three Thais are killed by DKBA, Phop Phra,
Compiled by Project Maje, May 2001
The Nation: If Thaksin Fails in Rangoon, it Could Mean War
Thursday, May 31, 2001
The prime minister's trip to Burma will have crucial consequences
regarding hostilities, drug measures and redress for media insults
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's eagerness to visit Rangoon could be
a diplomatic catastrophe in the making for Thailand since it could be
construed as a sign of weakness in dealing with the dictatorial Burmese
Without being considered nationalistic, the highest-level visit should
only take place after Rangoon sends a clear signal that it really wants
to make peace with its eastern neighbour.
Moreover, the dust should settle here over who is taking charge of
executing Thai foreign policy towards Burma.
Apparently, at the moment, the army is speaking very loud and clear - if
war fits, wear it! - while Thaksin as a leader
cannot calm the discord between Defence Minister General Chavalit and
the aggressive army.
Apparently, Rangoon's prime concern is its domestic politics. Its
fragile political dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would
have a far-reaching impact on the survival of military rule. Given high
expectations for these talks, both inside and outside the country, their
failure could be detrimental to the country's stability.
Nevertheless, a series of border spates with Thailand which began in
February have temporarily shifted the focus of attention away from the
talks, if not completely. By fanning the hatred of the Burmese against
Thailand through the revival of historic hostility, Rangoon hopes to
gain popularity among its people. And if the internal rifts within the
top echelons of the Burmese leadership are real, a potential war with
Thailand could be the only reason for them to keep united.
Similarly, scepticism is high and rising here among military observers
that the Thai army is using the same tactic, deliberately or not, to
garner political support for the military institution whose image was
badly tarnished in the May 1992 crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.
In the broader picture, the Thai army is worrying about its diminishing
strength amid the perceived existence of a cold war among regional
powers, each struggling to wield their political and economic muscles.
It should go down on record that, in no time at all, about six aide
memoires about border incidents and media attacks were exchanged by both
sides over the past month as if they were mere correspondence with no
diplomatic weight. There were at least three known border skirmishes
between Thai and Burmese troops and/or Rangoon-allied minority groups.
Against this backdrop, however, Burma is negotiating with Thailand from
a position of strength since it still speaks with one voice.
As for Thailand, the perceived successful anti-drug campaign has now
degenerated into a mere trap used by Rangoon to provoke border incidents
over the past few months.
Military observers warn the tide of nationalism fanned on both sides of
the border has reached a level of danger that it could be used to
justify the rise of militarism in the two countries. They say the use of
force, however, had but one effect: torpedoing the current fragile unity
of Asean, to which both nations are members and which might eventually
invite third parties to intervene.
Nevertheless this begs a question about why Rangoon dared to allow its
mouthpiece, The New Light of Myanmar, to publish two articles affronting
the Thai monarchy despite the fact that the junta knows how sensitive
the issue is to the Thai people.
Moreover, Burmese shells that landed on a royal agricultural project at
Doi Aungkhang on May 22 was a deliberate act to fan nationalism on the
Both cases provide enough justification for the Thai army, as an
institution closely linked to the monarchy, to react by force. But what
are they waiting for?
In the conduct of international relations, military means will be used
only when all diplomatic avenues are exhausted. In this case, Thaksin's
trip to Burma is Thailand's only trump card after two ministerial trips
to Burma and three diplomatic protest notes failed to quell border
tensions. If he fails, hostilities could escalate into war.
When the prime minister sits down with foreign affairs and security
policy makers tomorrow, he should define clearly what is the current
Thai national interest vis-a-vis his anti-drug campaign, which has now
proven to be only a short-term gain for the government since its effects
have snowballed on the border.
Thus there are only three reasons justifying Thaksin's trip to Burma.
Border retaliation and spins on nationalism should end on both sides.
The Burmese should make a sincere effort to fight the drug flows
originating in the territory of its allied minority groups.
After that, Thaksin should get a clear gesture from Rangoon on what is
an appropriate remedy to the damage caused by the Burmese media's
insults to the monarchy.
Freedom News (SSA): Excerpt on interviews with Sao Yawd Serk
Shan State Army
31 May 2001
(21st May 2001)
On the Anniversary of Shan Armed Resistance Day Ceremony held at Loi Tai
Leng, on 21st May 2001, foreign reporters interviewed Sao Yawd Serk,
Chairman of the RCSS (Restoration Council of Shan State). The following
are some main contents from the interviews in summarized version:
On the Task Force 399
We welcome the joint US-Thai military operation against drugs. But they
should raid where the drugs are, instead of confining their targets in
Thailand alone. Thailand is only a transit point and is not where it is
manufactured, therefore operating in Thailand alone will not be enough
to wipe out the drugs in the golden triangle area.
Policy of SSA
The struggle for freedom not being an individual task that could be
overcome, every single inhabitant has the duty to serve his land and
nation. So long as there is a nation, a standing army is an essential
structural need to protect the people. The existence of SSA is thus born
out of such necessity.
After Khun Sa's surrender in 1996, we reviewed our past policy and came
to the conclusion that the renewal of our policy is needed for the past
policy is not bringing us any near to our goal. During the past 43 years
of struggle for freedom, the cunning Burmese military dictators have
divided our indigenous people into many factions, using narcotic drugs
as their weapons, they had branded patriots with bad names, such as drug
lords, narco-army and so on, in order to undermine their political
At the same time, most of these armed resistance group leaders dare not
oppose drugs openly, fearing it could hurt the financial support for
We can generally put our struggle into several phases; during the time
of freeing our country from the invaders, we need to cut down our
expenses as much as possible so that we can rely on our people for
provisions without putting much pressure on them. Once a liberated area
is established, the army can take care of themselves. After sovereignty
of the Shan State is restored, with the consent of the people we can
arrange development plans for the country where mass investment will be
During this time of struggling for freedom, we cannot spend much money.
We also want to make sure that we stay within the bounds of accepted
international law and moral obligation. That is why we have changed our
With the inter-ethnic problems created by the Burmese junta, we will try
to avoid conflicts as much as possible. Peaceful solution and political
means will be used to solve these problems. Military solution will be
employed only as a last resort.
Aung San Suu Kyi and Her movement for Democracy
We admired Aung San Suu Kyi, but she is not representing the Shan
people. Sao Khun Htoon Oo, the chairman of the SNLD (Shan National
League for Democracy) whose party has won the 2nd largest votes in 1990
election is the only person representing the Shan State and Shan people,
for the people have given him their trust through ballots. Once our
sovereignty is restored, we will respect the rights of our electorate in
accordance with the democratic norms.
The Shan Armed Resistance Day
There will be Shan Armed Resistance Day ceremony annually, where
everybody including reporters and observers from international
communities will be invite for observation. This year we are glad to
receive foreign reporters. We are truly glad to host the Thai singer and
composer, Nga Caravan and his team as well as gifts from Add Karabao. If
we are just a bunch of lawless bandits, these guests won't be here. We
found that they believe in human rights and democracy, they were
appalled to witness the suffering of our poor people who have fled their
ancestral homeland. This is the reason why they are here.
That the Thais are supporting SSA, according to the Burmese news is
totally false. There is no military or political support from the Thais.
But the Thais, as a progressive and civilized nation, believe in human
rights and democracy and that's why we could live along the border. We
have not come to make war with the Thais because they are not our
enemies. We respect the Thai law and avoid offending them, that's why
Thais do not harm us. If we are involved in drugs which are devastating
Thai social fabric, violate their human rights and offend the Thai law,
there is no way they will keep us unharmed.
To eradicate drugs in our homelands, we have appealed for international
support several times. Drugs cannot be eradicated from the Golden
Triangle, without the co-operation from the people of Shan State.
Listening to the Burmese military dictators alone is not enough. If the
Burmese military dictators truly want to get rid of drugs, they should
negotiate and co-operate with the SSA.
As long as the internal problems of Burma persist and the Burmese
soldiers still stationed along the Thai border, the border problems
could not be solved, and drug problems will persist. Such problems could
not be solved through military means, but only through political
initiatives. The Thai Army's 3rd Region commander is an honest patriot
doing his duty to protect the sovereignty and his motherland. On the
opinion concerning General Chavalit, it is an internal affairs of
Thailand and I have nothing to comment. If Thai support us, our struggle
for freedom won't need to have lasted for 43 years. Only when a free
democratic Shan State is established, the border problems as we have
witnessed for decades can be solved.
For now, my duty is to achieve freedom for Shan State and I will do my
best. In this period we need to make sure and clear, who are our friends
and who are foes. After independence it's up to the people to decide how
our country should be run. But as this is the time of struggle for
freedom, it is hardly possible to put in place the practice of
administration like countries with full sovereignty.
DVB : Palaung region reportedly permitted to grow poppies for road
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that poppies are cultivated
on a large scale in the Palaung region with approval from Lt-Gen Khin
Nyunt [secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC].
Anti-Insurgent Organization, AIO, is also urging the Palaung people to
grow poppies. DVB correspondent Maung Too filed this report.
[Maung Too] Lackeys of U Kyaw Myint, the head of the Pan Sin Village
AIO, have been urging local people from over 30 villages including
Namhpakka, Manaung, Tarlu, Parpyin, and 12-Mile-Market Village in
Namhkam Township in the Palaung region to grow poppies on a large scale.
U Kyaw Myint, the AIO head of Pan Sin Village, asked permission from
SPDC Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt to grow poppies to raise funds for
the renovation of the Namhkam-Namhpakka strategic road in the Palaung
region. According to the local people most of the paddy, tea, and
vegetable plantations have now been transformed into poppy fields.
Because of the Palaung region poppy fields, the local AIOs have become
rich with the taxes while there is no end in sight for the renovation of
the Namhkam-Namhpakka strategic road. At the same time, when anti-drug
squads came the local poppy farmers would bribe them with eight to 10m
kyat [Burmese currency unit] to destroy only the bad crops.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 23 May 01
Bangkok Post: Drug Suppression--plans for a Wa State Could Threaten
Thursday, May 31, 2001
Drug production expected to increase
The Wa tribal minority's plan for a Wa state could pose a threat to
national security, says the Third Army commander.
Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuanwong said the United Wa State Army would need
more money to pay for its plans and a huge increase in drug production
could be expected.
The United Nations Development Programme had moved 50,000-100,000 Wa
people from Burma's northern border to areas opposite Chiang Mai to stop
them making opium.
They had turned to making methamphetamines for the Red Wa, since help
with occupational development was rather slow, Lt-Gen Watanachai said.
Drug factories in Mong Yawn were moved into jungles near the Salween
river and that was why Thai officials on a recent trip to the
Wa-controlled town did not spot any drug activity.
There were a lot of mobile factories which could be moved anywhere, he
The Red Wa also moved some factories to border areas opposite Tak and
used the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army to make and sell
Lt-Gen Wattanachai said some reports suggested that five factories were
operating in a military base in Laos, which used a resort owned by a
Burmese as a front.
He said Thailand was intercepting only 10% of drugs from Burma. An
estimated 600-700 million pills would be made this year.
Lt-Gen Watanachai said special task force 399, set up to deal
specifically with drugs and trained by American soldiers, would not
cross the border to crack down on manufacturers because that violated
Drug factories would have all been gone if we really launched
cross-border operations, he said. But we won't do that because it is not
He appointed a panel to investigate officers who allowed six trucks to
enter Burma through a closed border pass in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai
district on Tuesday. Some officers in border areas were corrupt, he said
The Nation: PM's Burma Surprise
Wednesday, May 30, 2001
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will seek to visit Rangoon next month
without waiting for diplomatic clearance, deputy premier and Defence
Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said yesterday.
Chavalit's announcement of Thaksin's hastily scheduled visit to Burma
caught Foreign Ministry officials off guard. They had anticipated a trip
to Thailand by Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung, scheduled for the
third week of June, would be the last hurdle to clear before the Thai
leader's first visit to Burma.
Thaksin had said on Monday that he would go to Burma only when the
timing was right and protocol permitted.
Border tensions with Burma escalated in February, owing partially to the
Thai government's stepped-up anti-drugs campaign. They have not subsided
despite separate visits to Rangoon last month by Foreign Minister
Surakiart Sathirathai and PM's Office Minister Thamarak Isarangura.
Chavalit said Thaksin's visit was meant as a goodwill gesture
demonstrating that Thailand wanted to restore bilateral relations
quickly. The sooner the better for both countries, said the minister,
who will travel with Thaksin.
The minister, who favours a personal approach to relations with Burma,
cited the damage caused to bilateral relations by a series of articles
published in the Burmese state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar over
the past week as one of several reasons that Thaksin's visit was
urgently needed as the articles contained an affront to the Thai
Chavalit's aides told The Nation that permission for Thaksin's visit had
been requested through personal channels in Rangoon. A Burmese response
was expected within two weeks.
In the latest of a series of articles, all by the same author, the New
Light of Myanmar on Monday accused King Rama V of turning the country
into a Royal guest house for all and sundry during the period of Western
Rangoon on the same day lodged a written protest against what it said
was a vicious smear campaign on the part of the Thai media intended to
denigrate Burma. The malicious attacks have reached new heights with
articles aimed at destroying national unity, tarnishing the image of the
country and the government and inciting instability and unrest, the
It was apparently prompted by reports in two Thai newspapers published
on May 18 and 21.
It also warned Thai authorities: If such a campaign is allowed to
continue unabated, it could adversely affect relations between [Burma]
and Thailand. The apparent tit-for-tat diplomatic move comes after the
Thai government escalated its diplomatic offensive against Burma over
the past two weeks.
Surakiart yesterday called on Burma to take quick and appropriate action
to remedy serious damage caused by its official media's attack on the
We reiterated that if this matter was not attended to it would damage
relations between the two nations and peoples severely, Surakiart said
after meeting Burmese Ambassador Myo Myint.
It was Myo Myint's first visit to Surakiart since being summoned twice
to the Foreign Ministry in the past two weeks to receive protest notes.
The Nation: Thaksin Plays it Cool over Burma
Thursday, May 31, 2001
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday dismissed his deputy's claim
that his trip to Burma to mend deteriorating relations had been
scheduled for next month.
The trip was being prepared, but no date had been set, said Thaksin.
The Burmese government wants to talk to me, he added. If we have time to
talk, we should stop [the tensions]. But I can't give the exact date at
the moment. We have to go through the protocol and diplomatic procedure.
On Tuesday, to the surprise of the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Prime
Minister and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said that Thaksin
would visit Burma next month. He said the trip would help reduce the
rising border tension between Thailand and Burma.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Commi-ttee
conceded that the problems between Thailand and Burma are too
complicated to be resolved soon and that the best solution lies in
promoting democracy in the latter.
Speaking after a meeting of Foreign Ministry and Senate officials,
Kraisak Choonhavan said he expected that a summit
negotiation between leaders of the two nations would reduce the tension.
But he said Thaksin should visit Rangoon after a visit to Bangkok by
Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung scheduled for the third week of June.
Kraisak said that two Thai leaders, Foreign Minister Sura-kiart
Sathirathai and PM's Office Minister Thammarak Issarangu-ra, had already
visited Burma, but to no lasting effect.
He said issues concerning the neighbouring countries were discussed at
length during the meeting. Among them were narcotics, double taxation
and high transportation costs for exported goods.
He presented a study by a special working group to the foreign minister
about the situation in the Kokang area of Burma, an area he described as
a semi-autonomous state over which Burmese authorities have little
Mong Yawn, he noted, is a satellite town whose centre at Pangh-sang is
crowded with modern facilities and casinos.
Moreover, he urged a serious review of non-interference policy, saying
Thailand should start talking tough with the Burmese and pursue a long
term policy that promotes people-to-people relations aimed at promoting
Kyodo: Japan--Trade unions set up office to help promote democracy in
Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0321 gmt 29 May 01
Tokyo, 29 May: The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) said
Tuesday 29 May it has set up an office in Tokyo to help promote
democracy in Myanmar Burma .
The Burma Office (Japan) is jointly run with the Federation of Trade
Unions-Burma, the League for Democracy in Burma and the National League
for Democracy (Liberated Area), Japan branch - all outlawed in Myanmar -
Rengo officials said.
"Myanmar's junta cracks down on trade unions, too. We would like to help
support democratization," a Rengo official said.
Rengo will finance the running cost of the office, to which it will
dispatch a senior official, the officials said.
Rengo will ask the Foreign Ministry in the near future to suspend a
government plan to resume official development assistance to Myanmar. It
will also make similar appeals to political parties and economic groups.
The office, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, will publish in-house magazines in
Japanese and English, the officials said.
The International Labour Organization in November adopted a resolution
to impose sanctions on Myanmar, saying the ruling junta has failed to
scrap its forced labour practices.
Energy Day: Fuelling Oppression
28 May 2001
By Yvette Mahon, Director, The Burma Campaign UK
Directors of most reputable companies would rather forgo their annual
bonuses than invest in Burma. Not so the Directors of Premier Oil for
whom the military dictatorship's appalling human rights record presents
no bar to business, and who once again drew the wrath of both
institutional and private shareholders at the AGM this May over their
continued refusal to withdraw from the country.
Premier is defiant. Never mind that the legitimate government of Burma
led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has repeatedly urged them to
leave. Never mind the British Government's view that Premier's
investment helps underwrite repression and undermine efforts to restore
democracy, or abuses of Burma's people so terrible they warrant the UN
label "a crime against humanity". 8 million people, including children,
are used as forced labour each year on pain of torture, murder and rape.
One and a half million others have been forcibly displaced from their
homes. Death in custody, arbitrary arrest and detention are routine.
Premier's exploitation of the Yetagun gas field will make a few people
very rich indeed. Partners including the state owned Myanmar Oil and Gas
Enterprise, stand to make profits in excess of $820 million. This
revenue will enable a junta, which spends half its annual budget on
defence, to further expand its vast army whilst its people are pushed
further into poverty. Once a rich country Burma now has UN Least
Developed Country status.
Military occupation of the pipeline area to provide 'security' for the
project has also proved controversial. First hand testimony from
victims, witnesses and army defectors from the pipeline corridor,
testify to a litany of abuses including forced labour, forced
relocation, torture and rape carried out by pipeline security troops. A
1996 impact assessment report warned Premier and partners of potential
problems: "the local people have and probably will continue to be
subject to heavy levies of money and food from the military. Military
security will not only need to be maintained at its current levels, but
will have to be increased or relocated to enable the pipeline to be
built. There is a potential for any continuation of the past harsh
policies of the army to be blamed on companies involved in the project."
Premier and its partners wittingly contracted troops renowned for their
extreme brutality to provide them security - in an area where hundreds
of families were living.
In November 2000, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) urged its
member governments, employers and unions to "review their relations with
Burma" to "ensure that such relations do not perpetuate the system of
forced or compulsory labour". A recent proclamation by the International
Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM)
calls on oil and gas companies to "cease investment in Burma while the
use of forced labour continues."
Premier is unmoved. Instead it has taken to staking out the high moral
ground using the language of 'development' and 'social responsibility'.
A Social Audit commissioned by Premier explores the 'benefits' the
company's investment has brought. That the exercise has so far neglected
to include engagement with those forced to flee abuses in the pipeline
area, says more than enough about the sincerity of the process for most
concerned humanitarian organisations. The report also fails to employ a
methodology appropriate for canvassing the views of communities living
in Burma's oppressive political climate. Warwick Business School - who
verified Premier's social auditing process - agrees that the repressive
environment: "unavoidably compromises the ability of Premier Oil's
community stakeholders to be fully expressive". The report makes almost
as much of a mockery of Premier's stated commitment to human rights as
does the company's presence in Burma.
In Burma the case for 'constructive engagement' is turned on its head.
In the context of business all 'engagement' with Burma's Generals can
only be destructive. In attempting to prick Premier's conscience in this
regard, a Burmese proverb springs to mind: "it's harder to wake someone
who is pretending to be asleep." Premier knows all too well the degree
to which it is responsible for misery-making, but to the necessity to
act responsibly and withdraw, the company is making a clear choice to
keep its eyes wide shut.
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Wish they do not to cry their heart out
Tuesday, 29 May, 2001
You all may be wondering why I have suddenly changed my trend to Mon
King BanyaU while presenting Siam (Thailand). It is hardly surprising.
Siam is closer to Lower Myanmar. According to the geographical
condition, Siameses and Mons have been very near since the early times.
Siameses are pretending that they had been victimized by Myanmars and
putting on an air of victims. As I would like to say about it, I have to
write this article.
When Jun marauders attacked Oktha Bago in Bagan Period, the king of
Oktha Bago appealed to the king of Bagan for help. Therefore, Kyansittha
and his men went there. You all will remember how Jun marauders were
defeated. Jun marauders were a group of men coming from Siam. They were
assumed to be relations of Cambodians. It is sure that they came from
When the king of Oktha Bago repulsed the attempts of Jun marauders to
invade Oktha Bago, he presented his daughter Manisanda to King
Anawrahta. King Anawrahta understood that the dignity of the king of
Oktha Bago and the dignity of Oktha Bago were tied to the princess. So
he did not give the hand of the princess even to Kyansittha, and he
himself took her to wife.
After Oktha Bago collapsed and before Hanthawady was established, the
kings of Mons had to settle themselves at Mottama. At that time, the
king of Chiang Mai attacked Mottama. BanyaU repulsed the attack of the
king of Chiang Mai. At that time, BanyaU had a white elephant and put
too much reliance on it. When the elephant died, he thought that he
conquered Chiang Mai and it was because of that white elephant, and that
he needed to have another white elephant. It was for four months that he
entered the forest and were searching for a white elephant. After these
four months, he got the news that his relatives seized Mottama. So he
attempted to retake Mottama. He lost many heroes but could not conquer
Then, BanyaU went to Donwun and lived there. Although he was living
away, Byahtaba planned to attack Donwun. While the two brothers were
attempting to defeat each other, the king of Chiang Mai was invited. It
was reported that the king of Chiang Mai was also preparing his troops.
BanyaU thought that if Byahtaba and the king of Chiang Mai were allied,
he would not be able to oppose them. And BanyaU consulted his ministers.
According to the counsel of his ministers, BanyaU gave five young
elephants, ten viss of gold and his daughter to the king of Chiang Mai.
BanyaU requested the king of Chiang Mai not to take sides with Byahtaba.
The king of Chiang Mai did not join the troops of Byahtaba. But the
daughter of BanyaU, Talamaythiri was tortured cruelly.
After fighting against his brothers for six years, BanyaU fled to the
region now called Bago. When he established Hanthawady Bago, the
political situation became stable. However, he got a letter to the
effect that his daughter, Talamaythiri was tortured mentally and
physically and nearing her death. The princess sent the message to him
after having gone through her ordeal for six years as a scapegoat.
BanyaU was at his wits' end. He was afraid that the king of Chiang Mai
would meddle in the military affairs if he took back his daughter while
he was under attack by his brothers.
He wrote a letter to his brothers to the effect that they were now in
high position because he promoted them; they were attacking him, and so
their niece Talamaythiri was in great trouble; he urged them to stop
attacking him; only then could he get back his daughter. His brothers
also replied that if he did not take their possessions and punish them,
they would stop attacking him; in the case of bringing back their niece,
they also helped him.
He had to give 10 young elephants and ten viss of gold to the king of
Chiang Mai to bring back his daughter. It was a very bad matter.
Byahtaba also gave five viss of gold. When the king of Chiang Mai got
these things, he returned the princess Talamaythiri. On seeing his
daughter, BanyaU was choking with emotion.
Then, hugging each other, the father and the daughter cried. Those who
saw them, who heard about them and who read about them were deeply
touched. King BanyaU nurtured Talamaythiri with great affection. Later,
a hero called Thameinmaru asked for the hand of the princess. The one
who did not dare to look up at the princess in the past even asked for
BanyaU thought hard. As his daughter had lived with the king of Chiang
Mai, her reputation was tarnished. Any princes would not ask for her
hand. He thought that a courageous man like Thameinmaru was suited to
his daughter. Then, he married his daughter off. The princess, who
became the wife of Thameinmaru, was just a puppet. Before BanyaU passed
away, Banyanwe, who would later become Razadariz, left for Dagon, now
Yangon, and rose in rebellion. When BanyaU died, Banyanwe seized Bago.
Talamaythiri and Thameinmaru were arrested. Talamaythiri was not to
blame. Thameinmaru devised so many wicked plans to take the throne even
before Banyanwe became king. That was why they were arrested and killed.
It was the very tragic life of Talamaythiri. If BanyaU had known all
about it, he would have burst into crying again. If it is said that
Talamaythiri was unfortunate, other people will say in chorus that she
was unfortunate. The answer will not be found. If all things are
considered, it is because of disunity of brothers, reliance on outsiders
and establishment of alliance with others. ThatÕs why Talamaythiri had
bad luck. When she was released, her father and his brothers were
united. It can be concluded that she was released due to the unity of
her father and his brothers.
I write this historical event not for the sake of sympathy. In Myanmar,
there were many people like BanyaU. Considering only profits, they
sacrificed their sons and daughters. A friend of mine lived in a town
near the border. He visited his native town very often as his relatives
lived there. Whenever he came to his native town, he said that the
children from his town went to Siam and worked there; as they earned a
little in their town, no one wanted to work; parents also wanted their
children to go to the other side. Although I did not feel happy, I kept
silent and just listened to him. I could not say anything to BanyaU
since he had already died nor reply to the parents who sacrificed their
children. During last Thingyan, my friend went back to his town. When he
returned, I heard him crying like BanyaU and telling bad news. Let me
relate it in his tone.
" I know now that Siam has never been a good place for our Myanmars.
They got the children from our town to work with low wages. The children
did not have to eat enough food. They secretly put stimulant tablets
called Yaba into drinking water and food. After drinking that water and
eating that food, the children had to work hard. When their health
failed and they got addicted to that drug, they were sacked. When these
children arrived back home, their health condition was not normal. They
got addicted to drugs. As there were drug addicts, there were drug
pushers. When drugs were seized, it was found that they came from Siam."
While I am writing about this, I am feeling unhappy. Since an agreement
was signed with Bowring, Siameses have been familiar with opium free of
custom duty flowing into Siam. As it began in 1855, it has been for a
long time. It is common knowledge that they bear prejudice against
Some people know all these bad things. They say that their children
cannot make a living here and they send their children to the other side
to work there. I would like to warn these people. Perhaps, the amount of
profits may be small. If there are no bad consequences, they will not
lose their investment. If there are a lot of profits with their
attendant bad consequences, they will have to cry their hearts out like
BanyaU. Beware of it.
Author : Dr Ma Tin Tin Win ( Institute of Education )
PD Burma: Calendar of events
As of May 27, 2001
May 27th : 11th Anniversary of the 1990 election in Burma
May : ARF Senior Official Meeting, Hanoi
May 31th ? June 1st :International Conference on Burma After The
Military Dictatorship, Berlin.
June : Meeting in the Governing Body of the ILO
June 1-4 : UN special envoy Razali Ismail is to visit Burma.
June : Meeting of the Socialist International Council, Lisbon
June 8-10th : Burma Desk during the Italian Forum for Responsible
Tourism, Venice ? Italy More info., contact r.brusadin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
June 19th : Aung San Suu Kyi birthday party and Burmese Women's Day
July : Belgium takes over EU Presidency
July : 8th RFA Ministerial Meeting, Hanoi
July : 34th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post-Ministerial Conference
July : ASEAN Summit
Aug. 31st- Sep.7th : World Conference against Racism and Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance, South Africa
December 1st : Worlds Aids Day
December 10th : 10th Year Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize for Aung
San Suu Kyi
February 2002 : The fourth Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka and
Thailand-Economic Cooperation (BIMST- EC) meeting, Colombo
Amnesty International: Myanmar Country Report 2001
Covering events from January - December 2000
Union of Myanmar
Head of state and government: General Than Shwe Capital: Yangon
Population: 46.8 million Official language: Burmese Death penalty:
Hundreds of people, including more than 200 members of political
parties and young activists, were arrested for political reasons. Ten
others were known to have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment
after unfair trials. At least 1,500 political prisoners arrested in
previous years, including more than 100 prisoners of conscience and
hundreds of possible prisoners of conscience, remained in prison. Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy
(NLD) were placed under de facto house arrest after being prevented by
the military from travelling outside Yangon to visit other NLD members.
Prison conditions constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and
torture of political prisoners was reported. The military continued to
seize ethnic minority civilians for forced labour duties and to kill
members of ethnic minorities during counter-insurgency operations in the
Shan, Kayah, and Kayin states. Five people were sentenced to death in
2000 for drug trafficking.
As in previous years, the army continued to engage in skirmishes with
the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karenni National Progressive Party
(KNPP), and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South). Sixteen cease-fire
agreements negotiated in previous years between the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) and various ethnic minority armed opposition
groups were maintained.
Continuing political stalemate In spite of international and domestic
efforts, the military government of the SPDC refused to engage in
dialogue with the NLD. In August Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD
leaders left Yangon to visit NLD members. They were detained on the road
in Dalah township by the military authorities for 10 days before being
forcibly returned to Yangon. They were then held incommunicado under
house arrest for 12 days. The NLD headquarters in Yangon were raided and
documents reportedly confiscated. In September, when Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and NLD Vice-chairman U Tin Oo attempted to travel by train to
Mandalay, they were forcibly removed from the Yangon train station. U
Tin Oo was taken to Yemon Military Intelligence Base and detained there;
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and eight other NLD Central Executive Committee
members were placed under house arrest where they remained at the end of
the year. Almost 100 NLD members were arrested in connection with the
two attempted NLD trips, including NLD supporters who had gathered to
greet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the train station.
At least 1,700 people remained imprisoned for political reasons,
including 37 NLD members of parliament-elect. An additional 45 members
of parliament-elect arrested in September 1998, 43 of them members of
the NLD, continued to be held without charge in ''government
guesthouses''. They had been arrested in a pre-emptive move to prevent
them from convening a parliament after the SPDC's refusal to do so. Saw
Naing Naing, an NLD member of parliament-elect from Pazundaung township,
Yangon, who had been released in January 1999, was rearrested in
Ten political prisoners were known to have been released, including
five elderly men released after the Special Envoy of the UN
Secretary-General for Myanmar visited the country in October.
In the run-up to the 10th anniversary in May of the NLD election
victory, hundreds of NLD supporters were arrested. In press conferences
held in May and July, the SPDC accused the NLD of having links with
exiled opposition groups which it claimed were involved in ''terrorist''
U Than Lwin, an NLD member of parliament-elect from Constituency 2,
Madaya township, Mandalay Division, was arrested and sentenced in May to
nine years' imprisonment for sending a letter to the local authorities.
The letter protested against a demonstration held against him in March,
staged by the authorities, who reportedly forced people to attend. In
May scores of NLD members from Taungdwingyi township, Magwe Division,
were arrested for attending a party meeting; seven were sentenced to
eight years' imprisonment. U Aye Tha Aung, a prisoner of conscience and
leader of the Arakan League for Democracy, was arrested in April and
sentenced to 21 years' imprisonment. His health deteriorated
significantly following his arrest. He was the Secretary of the
10-member Committee Representing the People's Parliament which the NLD
and other opposition parties formed in 1998, and represented four ethnic
minority opposition parties, including his own. Seven Rohingyas,
including Serajudin bin Nurislam, were arrested in June for attempting
to travel to Yangon. They were later sentenced to between eight and 12
years' imprisonment and were held in Sittwe, capital of the Rakhine
State. Rohingyas, who are Muslims living in the Rakhine State, are
forbidden from travelling outside their home townships.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continued visiting
prisons, ''government guesthouses'' where members of parliament-elect
were detained, and some labour camps. However they were not known to
have had access to Military Intelligence Headquarters where torture was
most frequently reported. In April the ICRC announced that it had
identified some 1,500 ''security detainees''. Conditions in most prisons
were extremely poor, owing to lack of adequate food, water, sanitation,
and medical care. Myingyan Prison in Mandalay Division and Tharawaddy
Prison in Bago Division were known to be particularly harsh.
Daw San San Nweh, prisoner of conscience and well-known writer,
suffered from high blood pressure, arthritic rheumatism and kidney
problems, but did not receive appropriate medical treatment. Poor prison
conditions in Myanmar's largest facility, Insein Prison, further
exacerbated her health problems.
Torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners continued to be
reported. Methods of torture included severe beatings and kicks with
boots; an iron bar being rolled repeatedly up and down the shins until
the skin peeled off; near-suffocation; and ''the airplane'', where
prisoners are suspended from the ceiling, spun around and beaten.
A Karenni Christian farmer from Loikaw township, Kayah State, reported
that he was arrested by the army and accused of working with the KNPP
after a battle between the two forces in February. He was beaten with
rifle butts, punched in the face and kicked in the head so severely that
his hearing was permanently damaged. He was then forced to accompany
troops as a guide for one week during which time he was beaten every day
with sticks and tied with a rope.
The army continued to seize ethnic minority civilians from the Shan,
Karen and Karenni ethnic minorities for forced labour. They were made to
work on infrastructure projects and to carry equipment for patrolling
troops. Forced labour of criminal prisoners in labour camps, who were
made to break rocks or to work as porters for the army, was also
A Shan woman from Laikha township, Shan State, reported that in
February she had regularly been forced to cut bamboo, build fences, and
maintain military camps and roads.
Extrajudicial executions Extrajudicial executions of ethnic minority
civilians taking no active part in the hostilities continued to be
reported. In Kunhing township, Shan State, more than 100 Shan and hill
tribe people were believed to have been killed in January, February and
May. The SSA-South was reportedly active in Kunhing township.
The SPDC presented its initial report to the UN Committee on the
Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The Committee expressed
concern about, among other things, violations against ethnic minority
women and the plight of women in custody.
At the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference in June, the
ILO gave the SPDC until 30 November to enact ''concrete and detailed
measures'' to comply with ILO Convention No. 29 on forced labour, to
which Myanmar became a party in 1955. If the SPDC was found not to
comply, the ILO recommended, among other things, that ILO members should
review ''the[ir] relations... to ensure that [the SPDC] cannot take
advantage of such relations to perpetuate or extend the system''. In
November the ILO's governing body met and decided that sufficient
concrete measures had not been taken by the SPDC to comply with
Convention No. 29 and therefore it upheld the ILO measures adopted in
In April the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted by consensus its
ninth resolution extending the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on
Myanmar for another year and deploring ''the continuing pattern of gross
and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar''. A strongly
worded resolution was also adopted by consensus at the UN General
Assembly in December. In April the UN Secretary-General appointed a new
Special Envoy for Myanmar, whose mandate is to ensure implementation of
the 1999 General Assembly Resolution on Myanmar. He visited the country
in June and July, and again in October, when he met with General Than
Shwe and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In November the UN Special Rapporteur on
Myanmar resigned; during his four-year tenure he had never been
permitted by the SPDC to enter the country.
In May the USA renewed limited economic sanctions. In April the
European Union (EU) strengthened its Common Position to include freezing
the funds of SPDC members and other government officials in EU
countries; this was renewed in October. The SPDC postponed an EU troika
visit which was to have taken place in October, but the meeting between
the EU and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which
the SPDC attended, took place in Laos in December.
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
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx
To automatically subscribe to Burma's only free daily newspaper in
English, send an email to:
To subscribe to The BurmaNet News in Burmese, send an email to:
You can also contact BurmaNet by fax:
(Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143
Burma News Summaries available by email or the web
There are three Burma news digest services available via either email or
Burma News Update
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project
The Burma Courier
Availability: E-mail, fax or post. To subscribe or unsubscribe by email
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article.
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders
Promoting Democracy in Burma)
EASY UNSUBSCRIBE click here: http://igc.topica.com/u/?b1dbSX.b1CGhI
Or send an email To: burmanet-unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
This email was sent to: reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxx
T O P I C A -- Register now to manage your mail!