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Regarding ABSDF

Burmese Relief Center--Japan
DATE:September 4, 1995
(This piece was written in July, but BRC-J was unable to
upload it during our stay in Thailand.  We submit it now, with
apologies for its lateness.)

Early this summer Christopher Johnston posted an article on
the net entitled "Whispers on the Web."  We appreciate Mr.
Johnston's concern for democracy in Burma, but we fear that
his article presents a somewhat distorted picture of the
situation on the border.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Johnston happened to link up with
the splinter group led by Moe Thee Zun rather than the
legitimate mainstream ABSDF under Dr. Naing Aung. 
Surfers on the BurmaNet may have noticed that there are two
sources of information, both calling itself ABSDF.  While Moe
Thee Zun's voice may be more frequently heard and thus
seemingly louder, Dr. Naing Aung's is certainly clearer, less
strident, and more democratic in its approach to the issues,
often preferring to to be heard in conjunction with other
pro-democracy groups.

Let us first look at the history of ABSDF.  The first chairman,
elected in 1988, was Ko Htun Aung Gyaw, a young man who
had been imprisoned in the 70s because of his involvement in
the demonstrations at the time of U Thant's funeral.  (Ko Htun
Aung Gyaw is now working for Burmese democracy in the
United States.)

At the end of 1989 ABSDF held a Second Conference at which
Moe Thee Zun, newly arrived at the border, was elected
chairman for a two-year term.  Despite fears on the part of
several important members, Moe Thee Zun's democratic
election was recognized.

In October 1991, at the Third Conference of the ABSDF,
realizing that he would not be re-elected, Moe Thee Zun
walked out of the conference and Dr. Naing Aung was elected
by secret ballot.  Moe Thee Zun, refusing to accept defeat,
continued to use the name ABSDF, but he became chairman of
the "Central Leading Committee," as opposed to the "Central
At an emergency conference held at the students' headquarters
of Dawn Gwin in July of 1993, Dr. Naing Aung was re-elected
chairman.   The mainstream ABSDF is an active participant in
the National Council of the Union of Burma, the umbrella
organization comprising those elected in the 1990 election who
fled to the border, all the ethnic groups opposed to the SLORC,
and the students.

According to ABSDF analysis, after the fall of Manerplaw and
the old Dawn Gwin headquarters, there are two crucial aspects
to the political situation--civil disobedience and conflict
between SLORC and groups which have entered into a

To this end ABSDF is strengthening its  underground network
inside the country to make political contacts and to educate the
people by producing and distributing materials in Burmese on
federalism, human rights, and democracy, and by contributing
to the Democratic Voice of Burma which broadcasts into
Burma daily from Norway.

As a member of Democratic Alliance of Burma, ABSDF
played a prominent role in producing a draft constitution.  This
Federal Union of Burma Constitution is not intended as a
finished product, but as a model, to be studied, discussed,
responded to, and improved upon.  It is hoped that this process
will help the people and their leaders to gain a better
understanding of democracy and human rights.

ABSDF cooperates very closely and practically with most of
the ethnic minorities.  Since 1988 ABSDF has fought hand in
hand with Karen National Union.  Even as of this writing (July
1995) ABSDF members are fighting along side of the Karenni
National Progressive Party, after SLORC broke its own
cease-fire  agreement.  In the north ABSDF members are
cooperating with the Kachin Independence Organization.  In
every region, there is regular discussion between ABSDF
leaders and leaders of the ethnic groups.  The ethnic minorities
have allowed ABSDF to use their land and have given them
the opportunity to have contact with common people.  In
return, ABSDF, in cooperation with the leaders, provides
medical care and education for the people.

All along the Thai-Burma border, in Kachin State, throughout
Burma, along the border with India, in Norway, in the United
States, in Germany, in Australia, and in England, members of
ABSDF are working to bring about real democracy for their
beloved homeland.

The true picture is much brighter than the one that Christopher
Johnston invokes by stating that the Tenasserim jungle valleys
hold "the last refuge for democracy-minded rebels."  ABSDF,
like all Burmese, except only the SLORC leaders, look to
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for leadership and aim to practice
what she teaches.  ABSDF supports Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
in her call for national reconciliation.  Should the SLORC
refuse her initiative, however, ABSDF is prepared to stand fast
with the people, continuing its struggle, until, with the
overthrow of the military dictatorship, there can be genuine
peace in Burma.

The following is taken from "Burma in Revolt, Opium and
Insurgency Since 1948," by Berttil Lintner, Westview Press,

>  Frictions soon arose between the original group and the late->comers.  Acco
rding to Bo Kyaw Zaw: "Aung San and Ne
>Win quarrelled quite often [in Hainan] . . . . Aung San was
>always very straightforward; Ne Win much more cunning
>and calculating.  But Aung San's main objection to Ne Win
>was his immoral character.  He was a gambler and a
>womaniser, which the strict moralist Aung San--and the rest
>of us as well--despised.  But for the sake of unity, we kept
>together as much we could.