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BurmanNet Newss: September 8, 1995

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: September 8, 1995
issue# 218

Noted in Passing:
(The Tatmadaw) brings peace of mind, security, and tranquility 
to the people.- New Light of Myanmar 
(quoted in Border Stories and Uncertain Bridges)

     	      FREE MARKET
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September 6, 1995

      DHAKA, - Bangladesh and Burma have begun long-agreed
border trade allowing free flow of goods across the Naf river, which
officials said was a new landmark in ties between the two countries. 

    Dhaka and Rangoon signed the border trade agreement in May last year but
its implementation was delayed until Tuesday for unexplained reasons. 

    Commerce Minister Shamsul Islam and Burmese counterpart
Lieutenant-General Tun Kyi launched the trade in the presence of businessmen
in the Bangladesh border town of Teknaf and Moungaw township on the other
side, the official BSS news agency said late on Tuesday. 

    Under the agreement, traders will be able to import or export goods worth
US$2,500 at a time without registration or opening of letters of credit.
Businessmen are also allowed to make 48-hour trips across the border. 

    Commerce Ministry officials said on Wednesday the official two-way trade
between the two countries stood at nearly $18.7 million in fiscal 1994/95

    ``The event is a milestone and a turning point in the bilateral ties and
this would go a long way in promoting the trade and commercial relation
between two friendly countries, Islam said. 

    ``The beginning of the border trade would serve as the corner stone for
promotion and consolidation of the bilateral ties in the coming days,'' BSS
quoted Tun Kyi as saying. 

    Bangladesh will export pharmaceutical products, iron rods, irrigation
pumps, plastic pipes and ready-made garments to Burma and import rice, pulse,
beans, timber, bamboo, livestocks, fish and vegetables, officials told

September 4, 1995

    SINGAPORE- Unocal Corp said it plans to spend US$400
million to US$500 million per year in Asia over the next one to two years in
various oil and gas projects.
    Unocal Corp chairman and chief executive officer Roger Beach told a news
conference to announce the company's secondary listing in Singapore that the
projects would be concentrated in Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and the
"In the short-term, Unocal's estimated budget for investment in Asia
would be US$400 million to US$500 million ... short-term means one to two
years," Beach said. 
 -- Singapore newsroom (65 8703199) 

August 3, 1995
by Richard Humphries

The policy of constructive engagement to change the Burmese
government's ways has its supporters and  detractors, pitting
governments and companies against activists.  Richard
Humphries examines the harsh  effects on the people caught
literally in the middle -- the Karen ethnic group on the Thai-Burmese border.

"After they entered the camp, we couldn't go back to get our
belongings, so they burnt our houses and our belongings too. 
We just ran for our lives without anything.  My sister and I
didn't know where to go.  One shell exploded behind the
monastery.  Many shells exploded inside the camp.  I can't say
exactly how many, but some exploded so close to me, so close
I thought I must have been hit."

This terrifying account was given by Ma Htway (not her real
name), a 20-year-old Muslim Karen woman, on April 29,
1995, to representatives of the Karen Human Rights Group
(KHRG).  Her refugee camp at Baw Noh in Thailand, some
130 kilometers north of the Thai town of Mae Sot, had been
attacked and largely destroyed the day before.  The "they" that
Ma Htway referred to were primarily members of a breakaway
Karen faction, the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Organization
(DKBO), whose defection from the largely Christian-led Karen
National Union and subsequent alliance with the Burmese
Army last December, ostensibly on religious grounds, has
allowed the Burmese government to score significant gains in
its 45-year-old civil war with Burma's Karen minority. Some
of the attackers were probably Burmese Army regulars,
identifiable because they did not speak Karen and reinforced
by the fact that other non-Karen-speaking attackers wearing
Burmese Army insignia had been seen in similar attacks on
camps along the border.  The shells were Burmese, coming
from the nearby army camp on the Moei River, which forms
the border between Burma and Thailand, at a point opposite
the Thai village of Mae Ta Waw.  Ironically, the small Karen
security complement in Baw Noh had been disarme by Thai
forces the day before, in an attempt to appease Burmese
government sentiment.

The attacks on the refugee camps are among the many human
rights violations investigated since 1992 by the KHRG, a
small but active monitoring and advocacy organization which
was based at the Karen resistance stronghold of Manerplaw
until that base fell on Jan. 27, 1995.  Founded by a young
Canadian, the group continues to operate along the Thai -
Burma border, conducting interviews, collecting information
and translating Burmese documents.  It provides raw material
for use by other advocacy groups and journalists who report on
Burmese human rights violations.

Refugee camps are not normally happy places.  Especially
when located in unsympathetic countries, they are more of a
dead end, uncertain refuges where victims of war and
oppression find limited sanctuary and try to piece together a
semblance of their past lives and perhaps dream about either
going back or moving on.  "Could you please sponsor my
daughter to America?" one of the camp leaders at Baw Noh
would inquire of American visitors.  Still, the camp at Baw
Noh, home to roughly 7,000 Karen refugees, was not without
its attractions.  The area was lush and fertile, the visual
atmosphere comprised of a highland tropical preserve sur-
rounded by small hills.  Karen women in their lonygi and
colorfully decorated white (if unmarried) and red (if married)
homespun blouses could be seen doing the wash in the stream
that ran through the camp.  Children laughed and sang in the
schoolyard at the entrance to the site.  The bamboo houses
were basic but adequate, constructed in rows with signs on
each residence listing by sex the number of refugees living

All this is gone now.  Both the school and the camp's hospital
were destroyed in the attack, and the refugees have been
moved to a larger camp some 50 kilometers away, supposedly
for their protection but just as likely as a first step toward the
forced repatriation of the refugees, of whom there are over
90,000, back to Burma.

One might ask why should people who had fled their country
because of oppression, and were not even safe in their present
sanctuary, be subjected to the threat of forced repatriation. 
The answer could be that they are at the cutting edge - in the
true sense of the word cut - of the policy of "constructive
engagement"practiced by many Southeast Asian countries
toward Rangoon.  The threat of repatriation is real.  In the
April 20 edition of the Bangkok Post, the Thai Army chief,
Gen. Wimol Wongwanich, was quoted as saying, "If we were
not afraid of being criticized by the world community on
humanitarian grounds and if it would not give the country
problems, then this army chief would take only one week to
push them all out, regardless of how many hundreds of
thousands of Karen were now in the country.  I used to do this
with over 40,000 Cambodian refugees, If we were able to do
the same with Karens, I would finish the task in just one
week," The repatriation of the Karen refugees holds
advantages for all parties concerned except for the refugees
themselves: Thailand does not want them, the DKBO needs
people to control, and Burma does not like this inconvenient
and internationally accessible reminder of its brutal policies.

Supporters of constructive engagement are now pointing to the
release, on July 10, of the Burmese pro-democracy leader and
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi as fruit of their
policies.  It is still too early to tell why she was freed after six
years of house arrest, and it is also too early to predict what
course Burmese politics will now take, though attacks on
minorities along the country's borders have continued.  Suu
Kyi herself has injected a strong note of caution to potential
international investors and aid donors, urging at a July 14
news conference that they wait for genuine reconciliation and
real moves toward democracy before proceeding, "I have been
released, that's all. Nothing else has changed," she stated. 
Observers have noted that Nelson Mandela, to whom Suu Kyi
often has been compared, continued to insist on tough eco-
nomic measures against South Africa for two to three years
after his release.  For its part, the Burmese government
reminded its people that it fully intended to retain power,
insisting in the July 15 issue of the government - run
newspaper New Light of Myanmar that the army "brings
peace of mind, security, and tranquility to the people."

Several countries, particularly in Asia, have, for several years
promoted and engaged in economic ties with Rangoon
whatever the state of human rights in Burma.  Western
companies also have participated in development projects,
including France's Total and America's Unocal on a natural
gas pipeline from the Burmese coast over Three Pagoda Pass
into Thailand, benefiting the generals and, as critics charge
(Toronto Star, June 23), leading to the forcible conscription of
civilians for labor in the border area.  Unocal's outgoing
chairman, Richard Stegemeier, summed up the moral
ambivalence of his company's involvement in a recent
statement: "We are by necessity apolitical.  It's not only smart
business, but it's often required by law and certainly by our
contracts" (Houston Chronicle, May 23).

Indeed, the language used by Unocal and Asian proponents of
constructive engagement has a hollow ring to it.  In Thailand,
Burma is often described publicly as an old friend ("Thailand
and Burma have a long history of close and warm relations" -
Therdpong Chaiyaniat of the Democratic Party) that needs
coddling ("Constructive engament is the only way to win
Rangoon's trust" - former Thai Foreign Minister Krasac
Chanawongse, The Nation newspaper, May 5) despite a
history of disputes and a very real mutual dislike.  The Thai
fear of upsetting Burma's powerful military is matched by
Burmese contempt for Thai prowess.  A common element is
greed, though even here Burma gets the upper hand, raising the
stakes to keep the Thais off balance.  In Mae Sot, the Thai
government is financing the entire 3 million dollar cost of the
building of a "friendship" bridge over the Moei River to the
Burmese town of Myawaddy, a project meant to cement those
supposedly warm ties and to promote economic development
of the type that backers of constructive engagement assert will
ease SLORC's (for State Law and Order Restoration Council,
as the Burmese government is called) transition toward a more
internationally acceptable standard of behavior and
"integration into the region." 

Nonetheless, on June 5, SLORC Construction Minister U Khin
Maung Yin ordered a halt to work on the bridge, suggesting
that the Thai side's dumping of earth into the river as part of
the construction project was encroaching on Burmese
sovereignty (but conveniently ignoring Burmese attacks in
Thailand), and leaflets urging Burmese traders to boycott Thai
products began to appear in the area.  What Rangoon wants is
Thailand's complete cooperation regarding Rangoon's border
policy of suppression.  The tactic of biting the hand that feeds
it will probably work.  The then Thai Defense Minister Gen.
Vijit Sookmark expressed confidence that the bridge dispute
could be resolved (Bangkok Post, June 25, 1995).

Burma's language of justification exhibits a lack of
sophistication, but this is only to be expected.  Other countries
in the region have developed the art of silencing their critics
with such things as censorship laws and lawsuits, but Burma
has used sharper and more lethal instruments to this effect, so
the language it has employed has had a stunted development,
ranging from the blunt to the bizarre in the army-dominated
official media.

Forced labor camps are referred to as "labor contribution
camps" where people happily donate their services to the army
and are reluctant to leave when their work period ends.  The
Mon minority ends its revolt not because of Burma's
overwhelming military might, nor because of intense pressure
from Thailand, but because of "the noble desire and sincere
attitude of the State Law and Order Restoration Council."  Aid
workers helping refugees in Thailand also are subject to the
invective of Rangoon.  An official from one group, the
Burmese Border Consortium, was described by the New Light
of Myanmar as "like some sly tiger" that would grab for the
tail of its victim instead of for the neck.

SLORC Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw was reported by The
Associated Press (June 11) as having stated that the Western
concept of human rights "is not to the requirement of the Asian
perception" and certainly differs from how SLORC thinks it
should be.  While SLORC may have learned this response,
however poorly stated, from its friends and investors in the
region, the language it uses with villagers in the border area is
not couched in the same ambiguity.  Orders signed by Burmese
Army column commanders this year have been smuggled out
of the country.  One issued to newly occupied Karen villages
(names withheld to avoid retaliation) states, "If the army camp
calls you, come.  If the army asks your help, help. ... There is a
patient army; there is an impatient army.  Choose which you
like." Another informs certain villages that they should
"Continuously comply with the following as soon as you have
received this letter to collect people from villages (for labor) ...
" and that if enough people do not go, "responsibility for that
will fall on whoever doesn't go." (KHRG report, May 1,

Elsewhere the same brutal pattern continues.  Some 100
kilometers south of Mae Sot and about a 15-kilometer drive
along dirt roads inside Burma lies the Karen village of
Mawkee.  A quiet place, Mawkee consisted of a number of
scattered houses in the traditional raised - platform style.  Last
Christmas, the villagers were hard at work building a new hos-
pital of bamboo and wood, "We've been working for two days;
in three more we'll be finished," said one villager confidently. 
A five-person team consisting of Burmese and Karen medical
trainees had just arrived from Dr. Cynthia Maung's well-known refugee clinic i
n Mae Sot to bring health care to an area
that until then hadn't seen much fighting.  Following the fall of
the Karen strongholds at Manerplaw and Kawmoora early this
year, the Karen leadership moved to the area and consequently
the Burmese military began to attack these backwaters,
attracted as well by the timber-extraction possibilities nearby. 
Mawkee was captured in April, and many more refugees
crossed the border into Thailand.  Among these new refugees
were some who were not native to the area, but people who
had been seized by the Burmese to serve as forced labor or, if
one wants to use the Burmese Army's term for this, "labor
contributors."  The words of one Min Htoo (not his real name),
a Burman Buddhist and dock worker from Moulmein, are
instructive: "I was arrested in Moulmein on March 9. 1 was
arrested by 104th Battalion soldiers.  We carried supplies like
rice and ammunition to Mawkee. ... They ordered us to dig
bunkers and trenches around their camp. ... My hands were
torn open, so one day I told them I could not do it that day. 
Then a soldier beat me again and again, at least 10 times.  I
saw porters beaten every day...."

The people along the border are not benefiting from the
investment flowing into Burma resulting from constructive en-
gagement policies.  The hotels being built in anticipation of the
1996 Visit Myanmar Year are not for them.  These people
may well be in Burma in 1996, not as tourists but as frightened
villagers, "constructively" compelled to return.  An elderly
Buddhist Karen widow from Baw Noh, whose house was also
burned down in the raid, best expressed the refugees' real
sentiments when interviewed by the KHRG: "I will say the
truth.  While we were staying in Burma, the Burmese were
oppressing us in many ways.  That's why we fled to Thailand. 
And while we are staying in Thailand we thank our (refugee]
leaders very much for the way they try their best to look after
us.  We don't want to go back to Burma to be oppressed and
suffer so much pain.  We want to stay here."

Richard Humphries, a freelance writer who resides in Osaka,
worked for five months at Dr.  Cynthia Maung's refugee clinic
in Mae Sot and has traveled extensively along the
Thai/Burmese border.
September 7, 1995
by Achara Ashayagachat & Somporn Thapanachai
Bandar Seri Begawan

ASEAN Economic Ministers and Japan will discuss an interim report
on an assistance framework to help Indochina and Burma move
towards a market economy.

The report, prepared by a  working group set up last year, will
provide tangible measures  to assist Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia,
and Burma in their economic transition.

If approved, ASEAN economic ministers and their Japanese
counterpart, Ryotaro Hashimoto, the Minister for Industry and
International Trade, will announce the plan for implementation.

The working group, comprising ASEAN economic officials has met
three times in Thailand and Japan to work out a framework of
cooperation among 10 South East Asian countries with support from
Japan, said Hidetoshi Nishimura of the Japan Overseas Development

Various ideas have been discussed and proposed including specific
projects from the Indochinese countries especially Vietnam.

"The so-called Market Economy Accelerated Policy has been created
to be applied to Indochina and Burma. The idea is that some areas
or cities will be chosen as models to be on trial penetration of
market economy so that foreign investors will feel comfortable
with all procedures," he said.

For Vietnam, Hanoi, the capital, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, the
central port, and Haiphong, the northern port, have been picked
as models, said a source.

Japan's initiatives were somewhat more specific than ASEAN's
proposal. Certain fields of cooperation were suggested such as
natural resource exploration, human resource, infrastructure and
sectoral industry development.

Sectoral industries include cars, textiles, electronics,
telecommunications, tourism and energy.

Thailand has also suggested a legal framework was needed to
create an environment conducive to a market economy.

A source said: "They have to promote privatisation and
modernisation in their countries. Even Ho Chi Minh City, which
is more acquainted with commercialisation, but some rules and
regulations are too stringent."

Vietnam has pursued economic reform inspired by the renovation
policy Doi Moi created almost a decade ago, however, the process
has been gradual.

Japan's influence is returning to Indochina. It resumed aid to
Vietnam in 1992 and has become the largest foreign investor.

The source said Vietnam still has bureaucratic problems that
ASEAN and Japan felt were deterring investors.

He cited example of investment in auto industries which the
investors needed to contact at least three agencies _
transportation, heavy industry and the state committee for
cooperation and investment. ASEAN proposed the establishment of a
one-stop agency for investors in the model cities.

The source said that once the policy had been approved, the
working group will draught a master plan of action to be
submitted at next ASEAN Economic Meeting in Bangkok ahead of the
ASEAN leaders' meeting.


September 8, 1995 
by Myint Thein, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.

Anthony Davis's "Law and Disorder" discusses the role of
the State Law and Order Restoration Council in the opium
trade (INSIDE STORY, Aug. 25).  It says that SLORC
permitted ex-CPB (Communist Part of Burma) groups "the
autonomy to step up heroin production" and that "Khun Sa
is relatively small-time compared to these guys."

The U.S. government is finally acknowledging SLORC's
role in the drug trade.  On June 20, Congressman Benjamin
Gilman, Chairman of the House Committee on International
Relations, requested the General Accounting Office "to
prepare a report to the Congress on the feasibility of
stemming the production of opium in Myanmar through
assistance to the Wa people."  It is his intent to provide up
to $15 million per year in narcotic control assistance to
(Myanmar).  The draft of this proposed legislation states
"recipients of assistance may not be connected to or
sponsored by SLORC."

I was discreetly given through an intermediary a U.S.
government report on Myanmar which I forwarded to the
SLORC leadership.  This report may have played an
important role in securing the unconditional release of Aung
San Suu Kyi.  It states that in recent years the SLORC has
publicly concluded cease-fires in place with several armed
ethnic groups, such as the Wa, Kachin and Karenni, under
which these groups retain their arms and control of certain
territory, which (Myanmar) government troops undertake
not to enter without permission.  These agreements appear
to constitute a formal acknowledgment by the government
of (Myanmar) that it neither controls large and well-defined
parts of its national territory, nor is it in a state of
belligerency with organizations that are in effective control
of these regions.

Consequently, arguably consistent with international law,
the U.S. government might:

++ not apply to such regions, or to goods originating from
such regions, any trade and investment sanctions that it
imposes on the part of Myanmar controlled by SLORC;

++ formally assert that Americans have the right to trade in
and with such regions, and to travel to and in them, and to
overfly them, without leave or hindrance from the SLORC

This could position (but not commit) the U.S. government
to make sure that anti-SLORC forces are able to buy food
and/or arms at a later date, to counterbalance SLORC's
Chinese arms.

August 29, 1995

UNOCAL Contact:  David Garcia 213-977-5047

	The events depicted in the motion picture, "Beyond Rangoon", 
predate and are beyond the scope of the Yadana project.  Therefore, we do 
not believe we are qualified to comment on the movie.
	Over time, energy development projects, like Yadana, have a 
positive impact on people's lives, regardless of a country's internal 
politics.  Such projects foster economic growth, improve living standards 
and stimulate social reform.  We've seen this happen repeatedly during 30 
years of direct, first-hand experience in Southeast Asian countries like 
Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
	We anticipate that the Yadana project will yield similar 
benefits, particularly to the people living in the pipeline vicinity.


The following is the list of Central Standing Committee of the Karen National
Union elected in the eleventh Congress of the KNU

Time : August 21-31, 1995
Place: Secret Location in Burma
Representatives: 106
Observers : 79

1.  Saw Bo Mya,    President  ( Chief of Bureau for Alliance Foreign Affairs)
2.  Saw Shwe Saing,      Vice-President ( Chief of Bureau for Defence Affairs)
3.  Saw Ba Thin,         General Secretary
4.  Malm Sha Lar Phan,   Joint Gen. Sec. (l)
5.  Saw Tu Tu Lay,       Joint Gen. Sec. (2)
6.  Saw Kaser Doh,  	 ( Chief of Bureau for Financial Affairs )
7.  Saw Aung San,   	 ( Chief of Bureau for Economic Affairs )
8.  Saw Gaw Soe,         ( Chief Of Bureau for Organizational Affairs )
9.  Saw Maung Maung,     ( Chief of Bureau for Central Administrative Affairs )
10. Saw San Lin,         ( Chief of Bureau for Social Affairs )
11. Saw Baw Yu Paw,      ( chief of Bureau for Disciplinary Work for Monitoring
12. Gen. Tamla Baw,           Central Standing Committee member.
13. Gen. Hla Htoo,                  CSC member
14. Brig- Gen. Ralph,               CSC member
15. Brig- Gen. Kyaw Thaung,         CSC member
16. Dr. Marta,                      CSC member
17. Saw Shwe Ya Heh,                CSC member
18. Saw Roger,                      CSC member
19. Saw David ThareKabaw,           CSC member
20. Mahn Satila,                    CSC member
21. Saw Gweh Htoo,                  CSC member
22. Saw Oliver,                     CSC member
23. Saw Mu Htoo,                    CSC member
24. Saw Klee Say,                   CSC member
25. Saw Tar Er,                     CSC member
26. Brig. Gen. Htin Maung,          CSC member
27. Saw Ah Toe,                     CSC member
28. Brig. Gen. Kyaw Lin,            CSC member
29. Saw Taki Baw,                   CSC member
30. Saw Hla Shwe,                   CSC member
31. Brig. Gen. Taw La,              CSC member
32. Brig. Gen. Sherman,             CSC member
33. Saw Authar Shwe,                CSC member
34. Brig. Gen. Ah See,              CSC member
35. Naw Lar Poe,                    CSC member

CSC = Central Standing Committee
KNU = Karen National Union


Dear BurmaWatchers, 

I've been asked by several people where to find information about the
McConnell bill, S. 1092, the Free Burma Act of 1995, which calls for
comprehensive sanctions against the SLORC regime.  

This information is available at the following world-web site:
http://thomas.loc.gov   This is the Library of Congress web site where
copies of all bills introduced in the current Congress (104th) can be
introduced.  Queries can also be run for subjects, like "Burma", to get a
list of all the bills which mention Burma.  Also, floor speeches as the
appeared in the Congressional Record can also be downloaded.  Give it a
whirl, it's pretty excellent!

For those American citizens who wish to lobby their Congressmen, it's
possible the more technologically advanced of those individuals may already
have a web site set up.  Most of them can be accessed at web site

Finally, if you're really serious about this, you should consider purchasing
an excellent Congressional guide (complete with addresses, phone and fax
contact information and breakdown of various Committees) called "Congress at
Your Fingertips".  The standard version is worth getting and it only costs
$7 or $8. Ask for more information at phone (703) 734-3266 or (800) 659-8708. 

If you have any questions about all this, please drop me a line at

Hope that you all find this helpful, 

Cheers and best wishes, 

Phil Robertson