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Last week's BurmaDoc entries

Reply-To: Burma Issues <durham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Burma Issues, a Bangkok-based organization, maintains a documentation
center that archives a wide variety of materials (newspaper clippings,
reports, statements, press releases, books, videos, etc.) related to
Burma.  We currently have over 12,000 sources in our archives.  Every week
a summary of the past week's entries is made.  In the past, this list has
been used within the organization to keep our volunteers and friends
up-to-date on current developments.   

This week, we decided to place the list on Burmanet for the first time.
Many of the articles that are summarized below have already been placed on
Burmanet.  Each article is followed by an abbreviation that corresponds to
the source of the document, a date and a code that corresponds to our
internal indexing system used to retrieve copies of the original document.
If such a listing is helpful, please let us know.  Otherwise we will
discontinue posting the list (and stop wasting internet bandwidth).  For
people who are interested in a document contained in the list, feel free
to request a copy.  Bear in mind that, in most cases, the document will
take 1 to 2 weeks to arrive via international post.  In urgent cases we
can fax documents.  

Burma Issues
PO Box 1076
Silom Post Office
Bangkok 10504
	Recent News Items & Other BurmaDoc Entries: 
		27 Mar. to 3 April 1997

Themes: reports from the border - forcible repatriation; religious unrest;
the fight against drugs; regional relations; foreign investment; legal
issues; analysis and editorials; general interest.

	Reports from the border - forcible repatriation

In an open letter to a Thailand army officer by the 2,700 refugees at Pu
Muang camp, the refugees said they will  face terrible abuses from the
Burma army if sent back. It was reported that the officer threatened to
send the refugees back against their will.  1,700 of those at the camp are
suffering from diarrhoea, malaria and other maladies.  UNHCR has been
refused access to the camp. 
Thailand troops have pushed Karen men and boys back into a war zone and
trucked 3,000 others away from the area where the gas pipeline is planned.
Opposition groups have accused the Burmese army of gross human rights
abuses in conjunction with the ongoing offensive.  The Karen refugee
population in Thailand has climbed to nearly 100,000 while an unknown
number have entered as migrant workers.  The Thai army has given some
refugees at Hti Hta Baw camp a two-day ultimatum to be trucked south or
return to Burma.  200 men were pushed back into the Minthamee area where
Burmese troops were shelling.  BP970327 OA/10GA/006

There are now around 3,500 refugees collected at the new site of Huay Sut
in Ratchaburi.  Concern as to adequacy of water supply and men have been
told they have to return after assisting in setting up the new site.

Pu Maung camp has been without any form of health care for at least 2 days
(as of 24th).  No permission has been granted to allow the refugees to
build temporary shelter.  A bamboo shelter built to house some Burman
monks in the camp as a sign of respect, was destroyed by the Thai army. At
Meh Pya Kee there are around 1,000 refugees reported at the borderline
waiting to cross.  970328 OST/10G/003.

About 1,200 Karen villagers crossed the border over the weekend and have
found shelter in Ban Bo Wi in Suan Phung district of Ratchaburi.  The
refugees are mostly women and children and are continuing to arrive.
BP970401 OA/10G/033

Thailand police have raided the offices of Burma exiles in BKK, allegedly
stealing equipment, demanding payoffs and sending dissidents back to
Burma.  Thailand government officials and military officers have
repeatedly denied that Karen civilians have been repatriated forcibly or
otherwise.  BP970329 OA/10G/032

	Religious Unrest:

Buddhist-Muslim tensions  appeared to be receding in Rangoon, but unrest
broke out in Prome where three mosques and Muslim property were attacked.
Monks at one Rangoon monastery which was prominent in pro-democracy
demonstrations in 1988 have been complaining to security forces posted to
monitor their movements.  They believe outsiders have been donning robes
and stirring up trouble for which the monks are being blamed.  So far, 17
mosques and Muslim houses have been stoned or ransacked in Rangoon.  11
mosques in Mandalay have also been attacked, and a night curfew remains.
The AMIO has appealed for all Muslims to remain calm, refrain from
spreading rumours, shouting militant slogans from mosques and congregating
in groups.  The Muslim man who was accused of assaulting a Buddhist girl
in Mandalay was seriously injured in an attack on his family's home on
March 16.  Local authorities refused to come to his assistance.  A
quantity of gold and 650,000 kyats were stolen while the house and car
were destroyed.  TN970328 OA/3F/013 

Burma  authorities disrobed 150 monks and detained 10 members of ASSK's
NLD in the wake of communal unrest in Mandalay. A dusk till dawn curfew
remains in effect. A curfew  at Tounggo has been imposed and exams have
been cancelled for monks apparently to keep the unrest from spreading.
TN970330 OA/11J/002. Armed troops are still guarding religious sites
although some restrictions have been lifted.

ABYMU has accused SLORC of killing 3 monks and arresting 100 others during
a wave of communal arrest that has swept the country.  Demonstrations
continue.  Military intelligence agents are blamed for stirring up trouble
between Muslims and Buddhists to distract monks from their grievances
against the junta.  BP970403 OA/11E/003  The junta has not commented on
the reported detentions nor the whereabouts of the 100 monks detained last
week. The junta has blamed the unrest on unnamed political agitators
seeking to destabilise the country and sabotage its likely entry into
All Slorc members attended the Army Day celebration at Resistance Park.
Witnesses said that it was the first time that security had been so tight
for an Army Day celebration.  Than Shwe extolled the military's efforts to
prevent disintegration of the union.  "Non-disintegration of the union
means that we will never remain indifferent or look on with folded arms in
the event of attempts at separation, partition or loss of any part of
existing territory of our country."  He didn't mention anyone in
particular, but Than Shwe peppered his speech with warnings against
"destructive and traitorous elements".  BP970328 OA/12I/001

Photo w/ caption:  A Burmese beggar and a Slorc guard show stark contrast
at the entrance of a Rangoon temple.  The regime tightened security
throughout the capital because of religious unrest and yesterday's Army
Day celebrations.  BP970328 OA/10F/002

	The Fight Against Drugs:

Thai anti-drug police sent a letter to their Burmese counterparts
requesting the deportation of Li Yun-chung.  Authorities have been
tracking him under "Operation Double Take" and believe Li crossed the
border at Mai Sai, then flew from Tachilek to Rangoon.  A Narcotics
Suppression Bureau (NSB) officer also met with a top Burmese narcotics
official who was attending a conference on drugs in Japan.  The US is very
upset with Li's escape, and Thai officers have assured the US that it will
be the last such case in Thailand.  The event also upset Thai drug police
who have complained that drug suspects who are released on bail often
resume their activities.  The number of suspects who have jumped bail has
increased over the years.  TN970329 OA/10J/033 
Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) said it does not accept
Burma's denial that Burma is harbouring Li Yun-chung without reservations.
However, SLORC has increasingly cooperated with Thailand to suppress drugs
and thereby improve its image.  Mae Hong Son has the second-largest area
for poppy cultivation next to Chiang Mai and there has been a big crack
down on the area this year.  BP970329 OA/10J/034

	Regional Relations:

The Thai gov.  wants Thai NGOs to take a more prominent role in assisting
in the development of neighbouring countries.  FM  Prachuab remarked that
NGOs have the knowledge and experience other countries need.  He also
referred to the government's new policy of assisting neighbouring
countries' provinces that adjoin Thailand, rather than giving aid to those
countries' capitals.  TN970328 OA/14D/001.  Thus, the government is
drafting a strategic plan guiding Thailand investment in neighbouring
countries.  The Finance and Foreign Ministries and the BoI are
coordinating their work on the plan. The government's Neighbouring
Countries Economic Development Cooperation Fund is its way of supporting
Thailand investors in infrastructure projects in neighbouring countries.
BP970401 OA/4EC/019

The NCGUB criticised the US-Asean Business Council for "trying to sanitise
the brutal image of the regime" in a "desperate" attempt to block
sanctions.  BP970327 OA/9B/010 

Thailand fishing operators accused Rangoon of breaching a new fishing
agreement.  They are complaining that they are not being allowed to
transport catches out of the fishing concession area despite the
agreement. In 1995, all fishing deals between Burma and operators in
Ranong were scrapped following the killing of Burma crewmen by Thailand
fishermen.  Rangoon claims Thailand fishermen have violated the agreement
by fishing outside the concession areas and taking more fish than they are

Chavalit reportedly has good connections with the junta and has been
linked indirectly to many businesses involving Rangoon TN970402
OA/4CB/001.  Chettha has submitted requests to Maung Aye asking for the
release of the remaining 280 Thai fishermen imprisoned in Rangoon.
Chettha and Maung Aye met at Tachilek and Myawaddi.  Chettha added, "We
need to be careful, since we have asked [Burma] for help many times.  But
I think there will be no difficulty in such negotiations."  He called Thai
fishermen selfish for entering Burmese waters.  He also condemned the KNU
for appealing to the UNHCR to intervene in the handling of Karen refugees
taking shelter in Thailand.  TN970327 OA/9CA/031

During talks with Mahathir Mohamad, Japanese PM Ryutaro Hashimoto
expressed concern over Burma's full membership in Asean.  Hashimoto
remarked that Burma's membership might help the military government
conceal its suppressive policies toward the pro-democracy movement.
BP970328 OA/9CA/034

Thailand is ready to admit Laos, Burma and Cambodia into the grouping as
soon as possible. Cambodia, Laos and Burma would be admitted into Asean at
the same time according to Thailand foreign minister, as 'we do not
consider what goes on inside another country'.  BP970329 OA/9CAA/032.
Thailand said the grenade attack in Cambodia would not affect Cambodia's
prospective membership into Asean as Asean simply considers the economic
structure of prospective membership and technical questions.

Asia Watch called on Asean to link Cambodia's prospective membership with
effective action against political violence as it will have a major impact
on future decisions on bilateral and multilateral assistance.  BP970402

Laos and Burma have agreed to hold close consultations as they prepare for
admission to Asean.  Burma has offered to allow Laos to use its ports and
has proposed a road link with Laos and pledged support for an
Asean-initiated plan for road and railway networks linking SEA and
southern China.  BP970403 OA/4AF/002

The Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) came into
force last week after Cambodia and Singapore ratified it leaving Indonesia
and the Philippines the only nations in the region to not ratify it so
far. The pact imposes a nuclear weapon ban in the region, was signed by
the 10 SEA countries in Dec 1995 and has an annexed protocol open for the
5 nuclear nations to sign.  Asean is hoping that these nuclear powers will
accede.  TN970401 OA/9CAA/033.  Asean will seek China's support for its
pact to ban nuclear weapons when members meet in mid-April.  China is one
of the 5 nuclear powers whose recognition of the SEANWFZ treaty has not
been secured.  The treaty came into effect on March 27.  BP970402

Foreign Investment:

According to Nick Moore of Quantas and British Airways, Thailand will
become an increasingly important hub for international flights when
Burmese authorities loosen regulations.  Quantas and BA are studying
Burmese destinations, and BA will likely become the first of the two to
offer stopovers in Rangoon.  TN970327 OA/4CD/011

The US company, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) which signed a
production-sharing agreement with Burma's ministry of oil & gas in 1995
has struck commercially-exploitable gas in the Andaman sea.

Unocal and Texaco are also involved in consortia to exploit Burma's
natural gas reserves.  Oil companies make up the bulk of US investments in
Burma.  TN970329 OA/4EC/018 
Thailand has agreed to support Russia's  bid for membership in the ASEM.
Thailand believes RUN should be admitted because it will play 'an
important role in the future'. Thailand and RUN have agreed in principle
to increase bilateral trade to 50 trillion baht by the end of this year.
BP970403 OA/4AD/005

Law Issues:

A US federal court in LA last week accepted a precedent-setting case
brought by Burmese victims of alleged human rights abuses against oil
giants Total and Unocal, the contractors for the Yadana gas pipeline. The
plaintiffs are seeking an injunction ordering the MNCs to stop their
activities and to pay compensation for alleged international human rights
abuses that occurred as a result of the construction of the pipeline.

This sets a ground breaking precedent as it allows victims the right to
sue MNCs for violations of international human rights law. Thai human
rights and environmental workers said this success may allow a similar
lawsuit against the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT).  TN970403

A Connecticut legislative committee approved a bill that would prohibit
the state from purchasing goods and services from companies doing business
with Burma.  BP970403 OA/9CB/055 

	Analysis and Editorials:

Analysts and opposition sources inside and outside the country have said
the attacks on Muslim private and public property might be an expression
of discontent by monks with the ruling junta as the junta were reported to
have clamped down on previous attempts by monks to arrange demonstrations
protesting the death of 16 monks in prison camps.  BP970402 OA/9B/012 

Widespread antipathy towards Muslims makes them an easy scapegoat when the
government is feeling particularly unloved.  The recent violence against
Muslims in Burma might have been instigated by the Slorc.  On Saturday
about 15 monks in Ahlone township destroyed a mosque, joined up with other
monks, marched to a second mosque inside the Ahlone Forestry Dept.
compound.  Muslims inside fled.  Other monks attacked the mosque
frequented by Indonesia embassy officials.  Religious minister Myo Nyunt
told Muslims to allow the monks to destroy mosques promising them that the
government would reimburse them.  Some think the Muslims are victims of
Suharto's visit because Suharto strongly backs the Slorc.  In Mandalay,
the riots began because monks in the area had planned a protest for March
13, the unofficial human rights day.  Slorc learned of the plan and
arrested the monks which resulted in demonstrations on March 15.  The rape
issue had been cleared up earlier, but Slorc officials circulated the
story to draw attention from human rights issues.  Monks were also getting
fed-up of reports that the Slorc had been looting pagoda treasures in
upper Burma.  As anti-Slorc sentiments grew among the monks, the Slorc
used Muslims as a scapegoat.  The Slorc then increased security to protect
Muslims.  However, some Muslim leaders believe the riots were created by
Slorc.  The Muslim Liberation Organization of Burma recently sent an open
letter to Muslim countries that reported the anti-Muslim activities
happening in Karen state.  TN970328 OA/3F/014 

The NEB's unprofessional and unethical approval of the PTT's EIA made the
NEB little more than a rubber stamp for gov.  projects.  The PTT knew the
NEB would approve the project and signed a construction contract with a
German construction firm earlier this month.  The construction firm was
told not to begin work until Monday to prevent criticism from
environmentalists.  Chavalit chairs the NEB and his cabinet members serve
as board members.  The board has never stood up against government
"development" projects regardless of the amount of damage they do to
society and the environment.  The PTT can't wait for EIAs to be completed
because it signed a contract with Burma by July 1998 or face heavy fines.
Thailand is being made to abuse its own environment and people for the
Burmese military junta.  A NEB board member admitted the go-ahead for the
pipeline had been given due to a bilateral deal between Bangkok and
Rangoon.  The Thai government should not underestimate the environmental
movement in this country.  Residents of Kanchanaburi province managed to
stop the Nam Choan Dam project have pledged to fight the pipeline for the
same reasons.  There is an urgent need to reform the NEB.  TN970327
American diplomats in Thailand were enraged when Li Yun-chun, an alleged
drug-trafficker awaiting extradition to the US, jumped bail in Bangkok
last month.  But even more worrying for US and Thai narcotics officials is
that he had somewhere safe to escape to:  Burma.  There are 8 drug-running
suspects in Burma that are wanted in the US.  Most of them are in the open
running businesses.  Li was linked to a 486 kg heroin shipment seized in
California in 1991.  Li was born in Burma and has good connections 
with Khun Sa, who a senior DEA official insists is still running heroin
refineries along the Thai border.  Following Li's escape, Thais reacted
quickly to contain the damage.  A government investigation has been
launched into why he was granted bail.  Li's reappearance in Rangoon is
bound to affect already strained relations.  FER970327 OP/10J/002

Last July Congress passed a law calling for a ban on new American
investment in Burma if its repressive gov.  harmed or arrested ASSK or
cracked down on the democracy movement.  Now the president's top
foreign-policy advisers are divided.  For the sake of not only democracy
in Burma, but also American credibility when dealing with other
dictatorial regimes, Clinton should invoke the law.  The case for
sanctions on Burma is more convincing than perhaps anywhere else in the
world.  Opponents argue that once sanctions are applied, Washington's
influence would dissolve.  TN970328 OA/9KC/001

	General Interest:

Article about Min Wae Aung who rose to become the best known painter in
Burma, mentor to young craftsmen, advocate for Burmese artwork overseas,
and patron of an older generation of painters.  He started the first and
only journal about art in Burma and often takes trips with colleagues
looking for new scenes to paint.  FER970327 OP/10M/001

Book review of Fielding's Thailand, Including Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
Sadly most travel books about northern Thailand are of little help.
Fielding's book dwells on the "alluring and dangerous" aspects of the
Golden Triangle although, in reality, they hardly exist.  The information
is somewhat out of date.  Michael Vatikiotis gives some of his own travel
suggestions for the area.  FER970327 OP/15F/002