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BurmaNet News April 22, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------  
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"  
The BurmaNet News: April 22, 1997  
Issue #700

Noted in Passing:

"Today the Burmese Way looks much like the crony capitalism of the
Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos."

-- Dorinda Elliott and Sudarsan Raghavan


April 14, 1997

The following story is presented by the Muslim community inside who 
would like to express their opinion on the current Anti-Muslim riots in Burma:

March 22, 1997, Rangoon

01) At 16:00 on 22nd March 1997, about 40 monks came out of the 
Kabaraye pagoda compound which is under the very tight control of the 
SLORC army and where the Sangha Mahanayaka (SLORC controlled 
Nationwide Buddhist Monks Committee) is based. They forcibly stopped 2 
Dina pick-up buses of the No. 49 Bus Line and asked the passengers to get 
out. Then, they took the buses. About 30 minutes later, some people in 
regular civilian clothes, but with shaved heads like monks came out from 
the same compound and went away with 2 Dina cars.

02) At around 20:00, army officers and soldiers from the Office of Tactical 
Command came to the Kanbe Mosque in Yankin township and told the 
Muslim people taking care of that mosque that they (the soldiers) would take
care of the mosque, so the Muslims should return home. The Muslim 
leaders believed these words and the people locked the mosque and 
returned to their homes. 

During the night, this mosque was attacked by the Buddhist monks. The 
troops arrived at the mosque just after the attack finished. 

One of the monks participating in the attack did not put his robes on 
properly, so his robes became loose and fell down. Onlookers nearby 
noticed he was wearing the army-issue underpants which are usually worn 
by soldiers.

The group leader of those monks was holding mobile communication 
equipment in his hand.

03) On the same day, local authorities of the Army Tactical Command 
came to the BMO mosque in Thingangyun township and met with Muslim 
leaders. At that meeting, the officials said that they would ensure the 
security of the mosque and urged the Muslims to return home. They also 
said that if Buddhist monks came to that mosque, Muslims should appeal 
to them to not cause trouble at the mosque.  The authorities also said that 
that if the monks could  not be persuaded to leave, they should be allowed 
to attack the mosque until they were satisfied that they had inflicted 
enough damage, and SLORC would take responsibility for repairing the 

The Muslim community attending this meeting refused to act in 
accordance with the authorities' recommendations. 

04)  General Myo Nyunt, minister for religious affairs, had a meeting with 
the leaders of 6 Muslim organisations on the same day. He accused the 
NLD of being behind the attacks and said that the aim of NLD 
destructionists was to prevent the ASEAN countries from granting Burma 

On March 23, 1997

05) Some monks came to the Bangarlisu mosque on TheinPhyu road and 
hurled stones at it. Some of them had pistols and guns beneath their robes. 

06) Around 50 monks were roaming around Rangoon. Some of them were 
found holding walkie-talkies and what appeared to be mobile phones. 

07)  On that day, authorities of the Tactical Command came to the Mosque 
at 135th street in Rangoon and told the Muslim people that nobody was 
allowed to sleep overnight at the mosque as the  soldiers were taking 
responsibilty for the security of that mosque. 

Muslim leaders replied that the security personnel including the soldiers 
usually arrived only after attacks, so they could not accept that 

The army officer replied that these attacks were planned and executed by 
the NLD.

08) In other mosques also, the army officials came and asked the Muslims 
not to stay overnight, but in each case the army officials were turned down. 

March 24, 1997

Up to this date, in Rangoon, mosques in the following areas had already 
been attacked:

01) Kanbe
02) No: 7 Quarter in South Okkalapa township
03) Wartan street
04) Ayethakar quarters at Ahlone township
05) At Mayangone junction
06) Near Pazundaung Postoffice
07) At 48th street

09) Up to this point, neither monastery monks nor civilians had 
participated in these attacks.

10) It is peculiar that almost all of the attacks occurred only after 22:00 at 
night, usually between 22:00-04:30,  rather than during the day.

11)     Monasteries in Rangoon including famous ones such as Thayattaw, 
Nyaungdon, Theinphyu, Moegaung were surrounded by troops and monks 
were prohibited  from leaving the monestary grounds for any reason.

The abbots at these monasteries summoned their monks and told them not 
to join in these events, and if they did join they should leave the 
monasteries forever. 

12) Senior monks from monasteries including Thayattaw claimed that no 
monks in their monasteries joined in these events and their monks were 
ready to help the Muslims in guarding the mosques. They also expressed 
their desire to see monks caught participating in the acts of destruction 
properly tried.  

A senior monk at Myenigone in Ranggon told the people that no real 
monks were participating in these attacks and he was ashamed of those 

13) During the night, 3 mosques in Prome town, in Pegu division, were 
attacked by hundreds of monks. About 1000 soldiers standing near the 
mosques simply watched idly. Those 3 mosques were
01) Surati mosque
02) Kharkahr mosque
03) Shwekyarbin mosque

14) Mosques in Taungdwingyi township in Magwe division were also 

March 25, 1997

15) On the 24th and 25th, 3 mosques in Pegu were attacked. In Rangoon, the
mosque near the Pazundaung post office was attacked for the second time.

16) In Rangoon, about 10-15 policemen were stationed at every mosque. 
Muslims also guarded their mosques. Military trucks were roaming 
around. The Muslim religious school at 48th street and the religious school 
at Tharkaeta township in Rangoon  were attacked.

18) In the morning, 3 food shops owned by Muslims at Mahlwagon in 
Rangoon were destroyed.

March 26, 1997

19) In Thuwana township in Rangoon, anti-Muslim pamphlets urging 
people to destroy Muslim homes and abuse Muslim women were 
distributed by a group of people. 

20) At some mosques, some Buddhist people joined in guarding the 
mosque along with Muslim people.

21) In Rangoon, after several days of attacks the common strategy 
employed in the attacks emerged:

    At night, these monks came riding garbage collection cars from the City 
Municipal Department or trucks used to carry sand or stones for 
construction sites and approached the mosque. Then, they waited for a 
convenient place and time for attack. If everything was in order, they 
would complete their attack on the mosque within 20 minutes. After 
exactly 20 minutes, they abruptly halted the attack and left by truck. 
Immediately after their departure, the army trucks arrived. 

   So, the conclusion of the Muslim people is that these monks are not 
ordinary monks, but well trained persons wearing robes.

22) The monks arrested by SLORC were the real monks working hard for 
Buddhism and for the goodness of Burma. 
    No persons wearing Buddhist robes who joined in these anti-Muslim 
attacks were arrested by SLORC up until this date.

March 28, 1997

At about 14:00, monks from Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda in Rangoon came out 
marching, shouting demands calling for the release of arrested monks.  
They were stopped immediately by army troops using armoured cars .  

It was clear that no monks from the famous monestries in Rangoon such as 
Thayattaw, Nyaungdone or any Buddhist people participated in these 


April  18, 1997
U Hla Shwe

Did anybody incite the Mandalay unrest? ["Monks Amok," THE NATION, 
April 4]. Yes. The answer is simple -- SLORC. It's not a first from the 
State Law Order and Restoration Council. The military junta did it in 1967 
against the Chinese community in  Burma.  Soldiers donning the saffron 
robes of monks went around Rangoon shouting that the Chinese had raped 
some Burmese teachers. Result: many Chinese were killed and their 
properties looted, ransacked or burned right in front of the military.

   I remember the events vividly. The riots started when teachers tried to 
end a sit-in being staged by students at a Chinese school in protest at not 
being allowed to wear Mao badges in school. Burmese demonstrators led 
by the fake monks shouting the rape allegation against the students, 
retaliated by attacking the Chinese quarter.

   The real issue the military was hiding was rice shortages and high prices 
--  and expected protests. The same strategy has been applied against the 
Muslim minority. I followed up on details about the riots with different 
sources. The real issue: the monks in Mandalay received news of the 
deaths in jail of some 16 monks, who are among 3,000 monks in Mandalay 
prisons. SLORC learned that monks were planning to protest the deaths 
and demand the release of those in jail.

   As a diversion the military created a problem between the Buddhists and 
the Muslims. The monks now say they realize that soldiers donned holy 
robes to stir up the trouble and that they were made the scapegoats.

   U Hla Shwe

   Federation for Human Rights & Democracy In  Burma
   Long Beach, California


April 21, 1997
By Dorinda Elliott and Sudarsan Raghavan

Friends and family of the ruling generals prosper while Rangoon threatens to
burn -- and now one of their own is dead.

As far as anyone knows, Cho Lei Oo was an innocent, and it was her father
whom the bombers were after.  He is Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, one of the most
powerful men in Burma.  In the heavy-handed jargon of the ruling junta, 
he is officially "Secretary No. 2" of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC).  Now he is in the line of fire.  This December, two
explosions killed five people in Rangoon's famous Kaba Aye Buddhist 
temple, only hours after Tin Oo paid a visit.  No suspects were caught, but 
last week Tin Oo was once again a target, and once again escaped while a
bystander was killed: his 34-year-old daughter, Cho Lei.

Why did she die?   The source of the bomb was a mystery.  SLORC 
claimed to have traced it to Japan and thus to the international network of 
Burmese dissidents who support Aung San Suu Kyi, champion of Burma's 
harshly suppressed democracy movement, who denied involvement.  
Diplomats suggested the attack may have sprung from infighting between 
generals who want to ease SLORC's grip and those (including Tin Oo) who 
do not.  IF the motive was unclear, the symbolism of the bombings was not.  
These were the first terror attacks ever to strike Burma's military dictators 
in Rangoon, where SLORC generals live in high style, and rule from a 
fortress ringed with barbed wire.  The December attacks targeted a temple 
SLORC promotes as a tourist destination, just a few blocks from luxury 
hotels built to lure foreign investors.  The bomb last week came in a mail 
delivery, and exploded inside the walled compound of Tin Oo's villa on the 
posh outskirts of the capital. This is a home and playground to many top 
SLORC officials and the beneficiaries of their rule -- a privileged new class 
that is deeply resented throughout Burma.  Cho Lei likely died by the 
accident of her birth: she was one of the dangerously rich.

This elite did not exist as recently as 1991.  Back then Rangoon was rich
only with faded memories of life before Ne Win, the general who seized 
power and sealed the borders in 1962.  Under Ne Win's cramped vision of 
socialism, "the Burmese Way," Rangoon was left stuck in time, with 1950s 
Chevrolets rattling past British colonial buildings.  By the late 1980s 
students, monks and workers had taken tot he streets demanding freedom 
and democracy. Instead Ne Win was followed by SLORC, which stole an 
election victory from Aung San Suu Kyi in 1988 (sic) and crushed the 
demonstrations that followed. SLORC would, however, lift the atmosphere 
of repression in one respect.  In 1992 it abandoned the facade of socialism.  
A favored class was allowed to court foreign investors and get rich, and 
today they are visible all over Rangoon.  "These people care least about 
politics," says a Rangoon doctor, whose son is joining the new elite with a 
salary 10 times the monthly average ($25) working for an import-export 
firm.  "For them, life has never been better."

Today the Burmese Way looks much like the crony capitalism of the
Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos.  The biggest winners are the SLORC
generals, their children and businessmen with close ties to them.  They 
wear Western clothes instead of traditional, ankle-length sarongs.  Their
satellite -television dishes dot the skyline, their Japanese cars clog the
streets and their conversation drifts to a distant symbol of quick riches --
America.  At video clubs around the country requests flood in for bootleg
copies of their favorite recent movies: "Twister" and "Independence Day."

The children of the elite are partying while the country threatens to burn.
On the dance floor at the Galaxy disco, smoke billows up around a surreal
Rangoon vision of America.  Teenage sons of the elite turn out as clothing
clones of Bronx home boys: baseball caps turned backward, oversize shirts,
pants bagging around their ankles and big, flashy sneakers.  "I love to
dance," shouts one of them, swinging a glass of Coke and whisky as he
gyrates around the floor.  Outside, revelers crowd into a Japanese station
wagon and cruise the streets of Rangoon, passing a bottle of Russian vodka
and blasting the Macarena on the stereo.  Their aspirations?  "We want to 
be as free as we are now," says a university student.

For average Burmese, that much freedom is hardly enough.  They are left 
out of an economy growing at the modest rate of around 3 percent each 
year. Inflation is running at more than 30 percent, so the government is 
printing money to subsidize the army and civil service, while prices soar 
for the poor.  Eggs have soared from five cents a dozen to a dollar in recent 
years and because SLORC's reputation is so bad, Burma gets little 
international aid.  While the military pays 15 cents a gallon for gasoline, 
the public pays $1.75.  Stores are full of Toshiba TVs and knockoffs of 
Calvin Klein and other American products, but most people can't afford to 
buy.  The $3 beer at the Galaxy disco is way out of reach.  The growing 
frustration was palpable one Sunday afternoon at the Rangoon City Golf 
Resort, where the $3,000 membership fee is 20 times the average annual 
salary.  As potbellied businessmen sipped lime sodas and beer with clients 
from Singapore, Thailand and China, a driver waited outside among the 
Land Rovers.  "This is for rich people, military people," he said in disgust.  
"normal people don't come here."

Even beneficiaries of the SLORC system are cynical about the money 
required to make it work.  One 26-year old son of a hotel owner owns a 
Japanese car and watches CNN regularly.  Despite his comforts, he can't 
stand a regime he describes as openly "corrupt."  He says three different 
ministers refused to give him a permit for his car until he paid them "a lot" 
of money.  "If they like you, they'll give you so many facilities," he says.  
"If they don't like you, they'll send you to jail."  Nor is he a supporter of 
Suu Kyi; he sees her call for an international boycott on Burma as a threat 
to prosperity.  In the last year, Pepsi, Kodak and other Western companies 
have pulled out under criticism from Washington for consorting with 
SLORC, and Rangoon's new class is none too pleased to lose their business.
"I want to make money," says the hotel owner's son.  "That's 

In Burma's second largest city, Mandalay, anger is high over the sudden
prosperity of ethnic Chinese merchants, who began moving in after 
SLORC relaxed investment rules.  Locals accuse the Chinese of funding 
businesses with drug money and have turned on all outsiders.  In recent 
weeks, Buddhist monks have rioted against local Indian Muslims.  
According to the government, which has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, 
the riots began after a Muslim allegedly raped a Burmese girl, but tension 
has been growing in the city since at least January.

Monks are angry at SLORC's efforts to cloak their kleptocracy in the robes
of Buddhism -- the major religion in Burma.  The official New Light
newspaper trumpets Buddhist slogans and reports of the government's 
building new pagodas.  AT the sacred Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay, 
monks are saying that bumbling government repairmen recently melted the 
gold and bronze on a famous image of Buddha, and then walked off with 
precious stones and gems. Inside the pagoda, the government has posted 
large photographs of uniformed SLORC generals sitting with senior monks 
clad in orange robes.  Across the country, soldiers routinely swagger into 
temples with their machine guns. "We think this is very strange to have 
soldiers in our temples, because politics and religion shouldn't mix," says 
one young monk in Mandalay.  "But it is a reflection of the situation in our 

SLORC generals know they have become targets.  Their paranoid mood is 
on display every night on the television news, which sometimes features a
wholesome looking woman singing patriotic songs against background 
footage of warplanes dropping bombs.  On the road to the Rangoon airport, 
huge red and white billboards proclaim in English and Burmese that it is 
"The People's Desire" to "oppose those relying on external elements, and 
stooges holding negative views" and "to crush all internal and external 
destructive elements," Spies scour the population for Suu Kyi 
sympathizers, and blacklist them from government jobs.  A Western 
diplomat in Rangoon says SLORC "is taking on a kind of siege mentality, 
as if the country were teetering on the verge of mayhem."

The December bombing in Rangoon was a turning point.  It followed the 
latest round of protests by Rangoon university students: this time, they 
were careful not to risk arrest by pushing for democracy.  Nonetheless, they 
are supporters of Suu Kyi. She won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading 
Burma's democracy movement, but the military still restricts her 
movements.  During the protests senior government ministers were ordered 
to sleep in their offices.  Since then dozens of Suu Kyi's supporters have 
been thrown in jail.  Troops patrol the streets of Rangoon, and military 
barricades block the road to Suu Kyi's lakeside villa.  Her supporters still 
gather every weekend afternoon at Gold Leaf Corner in hope that she will 
show up.  One man leaning against his car muttered to a recent foreign 
visitor: "Bad SLORC.  Dirty SLORC."  

All over the country, people tune in to the BBC and Voice of America to 
hear recorded messages from Suu Kyi -- calling for democracy, talks with 
the government, a new, democratic Constitution.  In an interview with 
NEWSWEEK shortly after the December bombing, Suu Kyi worried that 
the government's constant threats to "crush" and "annihilate" opponents 
would inspire more violence and terror.  "I'm very much aware of people 
saying, ' We can't sit still.  We need to take firmer action.' And some of 
this means armed action," she said.  "This is exactly what we don't want."  
IT's exactly what Burma got with the bombing last week, and the violence 
appears likely to continue.

For the moment the junta is taking no chances.  SLORC has extended its
crackdown to the annual Water Festival, traditionally a giddy celebration 
of the lunar New Year.  The festival is an excuse for all Burmese to relax 
and enjoy the freedom to soak perfect strangers with water guns, hoses or
balloons.  But this year, the generals have created a Water Festival
Disciplinary Committee to make sure the celebration does not get out of
control.  They have warned that no criticism of the government will be
tolerated during the festival, which takes place this week.  And they have
announced penalties of two years in jail for filling a water balloon, three
years for throwing one.  Just to make sure they aren't in the line of fire,
the generals recently dismantled their festival viewing stands in Rangoon.
Most of them will pass the festival in the tranquil city of Pagan, far from
the terror that now threatens them in the capital.


April 21, 1997
by Kachorn Boohpat 

MAE HONG SON: The Burmese junta failed last week in talks with an
ethnic rebel group when the rebels rejected the junta's demand to evacuate
encampments near the Salween River.
	A source from the Shan state-based Mong Tai Army (MTA) said a
representative of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) met
with senior figures of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) on April 13 at Ban
Pengkam, opposite the Mae Ai district of Chiang Mai province. 
	At the talks, the Slorc demanded that all remaining UWSA troops
withdraw from the east bank of the Salween River to Pasawng township by June
and then surrender unconditionally to the junta before 1999.
	However, the UWSA strongly rejected the Slorc demands.
	The Slorc has also proposed the construction of a hydroelectric
dam for electricity production around the Mae Kon  River southward to Ban
Peng Kam, about 15 kilometres from the Thai-Burmese border.
	The UWSA also opposed the plan, saying the dam should instead be
constructed near Yon township, which is occupied by the UWSA, in
order for Wa residents to benefit from the dam.
	The source also  said that despite the disagreement, there was a
report that the Slorc had already begun inspection in February for possible
construction at the site.
	The source believes that if the Burmese junta insists on building
the dam, it will face the strong objection of over 35,000 UWSA troops, who
are stationed at various strategic points in the highlands form Doi Lang,
DoiLaem, Doi Sam Sao, Ton, Sa, Peng, to Pasawng township.


April 21, 1997

BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuter) - A clash between Burmese soldiers and rebels
searching for the weapons and hidden treasure of former opium warlord Khun
Sa killed 23 people and wounded dozens, Thai and rebel sources said Monday.
	The clash took place on April 10 between troops and rebels from the Shan
United Revolution Army (SURA), a Thai security source said.
	About 500 guerrillas attacked two Burmese army jungle bases near Ho Mong,
Khun Sa's former stronghold. Ten Burmese soldiers died in the fighting and
about 40 were wounded, the source said.
	"(SURA commander) Colonel Yod Suk said three months ago he would come for
Khun Sa's hidden weapons and if the Burmese intercepted they would fight,"
the source said.
	Guerrilla sources said SURA has about 5,000 fighters.
	The SURA sources confirmed the fighting and said that 13 guerrillas were
also killed and 17 wounded in the day-long fighting at a base about 15 miles
northeast of Ho Mong.
	Ho Mong, on the edge of Shan state about 14 miles from the Thai border,
used to house more than 10,000 civilians and guerrillas during the peak of
Khun Sa's power in the 1980s.
	Khun Sa, half Shan and half Chinese, once commanded about 20,000 Mong Tai
Army (MTA) guerrillas and said he was fighting for the freedom of Shan
state. But he was accused of using the MTA as his personal troops to protect
his heroin business in the Golden Triangle where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet.
	A U.S. court indicted Khun Sa on heroin trafficking charges in December
1989, and Washington has requested his extradition to face charges in the
United States.
	But Burma's military government has refused the request, saying it will
deal with Khun Sa under Burmese law.
	Khun Sa surrendered to Burmese troops in January 1996 and Ho Mong has since
become a ghost town. He is said to be living a life of luxury in Rangoon and
running several business in Burma.
	The rebel sources said they had heard that Khun Sa hid weapons, jewelry and
gold in Ho Mong before he surrendered.
	"The former MTA officers who are now with us knew that there was treasure
hidden there before Khun Sa surrendered," a SURA source told Reuters.
	The source would not say how much treasure was believed to be hidden in the
jungle, but said Khun Sa had handed over only about one-tenth of the MTA's
weapons when he gave himself up.
	The MTA disbanded after Khun Sa's surrender.
	"Khun Sa does not totally trust Burma so he hid valuables and weapons
before his surrender, and reliable sources say most of his money is still in
banks in Thailand," the source said.
	The Thai security source was not able to confirm the hidden treasure but
said many weapons were believed to have been hidden in Ho Mong.
	"Our information shows that Khun Sa acquired about 110 SAMS (surface to air
missiles), but he handed over only seven when he surrendered, so the rest
must be hidden," the Thai source said.

April 21, 1997

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, April 21 (Reuter) - Repatriation of Burmese Moslem
refugees from Bangladesh, suspended for three weeks, resumed on Monday with
58 men, women and children crossing the Naf border river, officials said.
	They sailed home from refugee camps in Cox's Bazar district under
supervision of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and Bangladeshi
repatriation officials.
	Nearly 229,000 refugees, called Rohingyas, had gone back home in west
Burma's Moslem-majority Arakan province before the process was abruptly
halted on April 1 for what Bangladeshi officials said was a delay by Burmese
immigration to give clearance to the returnees.
	Earler, the two governments agreed to complete repatriation of more than
250,000 Rohingyas by March 31.
	The Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh in early 1992 to escape alleged military
attrocities in Arakan. The repatriation began in September that year
following an agreement between Dhaka and Rangoon.


April 21, 1997

HO CHI MINH CITY - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will
send a fact-finding mission to Burma today to look into its preparedness in
joining the regional group, an Asean source said on Saturday.
	The mission will consists of senior officials form all Asean
member countries, the source said.
	He said that similar delegations sent to Cambodia and Laos last
year found that those two countries  were short of human resources but
determined to join the group.
	The source said Burmese delegates to a meeting in Ho Chi Minh
City last week of Asean's senior economic officials also expressed his
country's firm determination to join Asean.

April 21, 1997

NAKORN RATCHASIMA, Thailand, April 21 (Reuter) - Thailand's prime minister
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh on Monday downplayed comments he made over the weekend
that his Burmese counterpart General Than Shwe may resign soon.
	He also told reporters during a visit to the outskirts of Bangkok that he
would be visiting Rangoon for two days from May 3-4.
	``My counterpart will definitely be his excellency (General) Than Shwe,''
Chavalit told reporters as he appeared to play down earlier remarks that the
top Burmese general was about to quit.
	Chavalit had told reporters that the imminent resignation of Than Swe, head
of Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), was
hampered by problems with a reshuffle in the lower level Burmese military
	Burma, which is set to join the Association of Southeast Asean Nations
(ASEAN) in July along with Laos and Cambodia, has has been fraught with
image problems as it continues to curb the pro-democracy movement led by
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
	ASEAN groups Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam
and Brunei.
	Chavalit's weekend comments on Than Shwe had appeared to echo remarks by
some diplomats and analysts that there may be a split within the SLORC that
could lead to a restructuring of the Burmese leadership.
	Than Shwe is considered a moderate leader within the SLORC, diplomats said.


April 21, 1997

	Thailand and Burma will hold talks to deepen bilateral ties in a
joint commission tentatively set in July, Foreign Minister Prachuab
Chaiyasarn said yesterday.
	He said the Foreign Ministry was trying to hold a Thai-Burmese
Joint Commission meeting in Phuket before the annual gathering of
foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
	The Asean ministerial meeting will be held in Kuala Lumpur in
July. Mr Prachuab and his Burmese counterpart Ohn Gyaw will co-chair the
meeting of the joint commission formed to boost all aspects of ties between
the two countries.
	Mr Prachuab made the point after playing golf with U Ohn Gyaw,
Cambodian Foreign Minister Ung Huot and Laotian Foreign Minister
Somsavat Lengsavad.
	But he said they did not discuss the future of Burma, Cambodia an
Laos in seeking membership of Asean. 
	"Their visit did not relate to their Asean membership," he told
	Mr Prachuab reaffirmed that Asean foreign ministers would
evaluate their readiness to join the seven nation grouping in a meeting in
the Malaysian capital on May 31 before submitting their evaluation to the
Asean ministerial meeting in July.
	"The decision needs consensus and Asean countries are trying to
find a common stance on the issue," he added.

April 20, 1997
Yuwadee Tunyasiri, Prasit Tangprasert

Project 'won't threaten wildlife'

THE Yadana gas pipeline project must be completed before July 1 next year to
coincide before July 1 next year to coincide with the commencement of the
supply of gas through the pipeline by Burma, Industry Minister Korn
Dabbaransi said yesterday.
	Construction of the pipeline on the Burmese side is scheduled to be
completed next March, but work is yet to start on the Thai territory, said
the minister who then pleaded with opponent of the project to rethink their
	He assured that the project would not threaten wildlife or the pristine
condition of the forest in Kanchanaburi. Nor wouldn't it threaten the life
of Kanchanaburi residents, he said.
	Only a strip of land 260 kilometers long and 20 metres wide will be
sacrificed for the project, he said, adding that all the 1,400 landowners
whose land the pipeline will go through have approved the project.
	The pipeline will be buried underground and trees will be planted along the
route with 100 million baht already allocated by the Petroleum Authority of
	"There should not be any worry that the forest would be threatened. On the
other hand, there will be more trees," said Mr Korn.
	While insisting that only a six-kilometre section of the pipeline would
lass through the pristine forest, he said the PTT would replenish the
denuded strip to try to restore its pristine condition.
	He dismissed fears that the natural gas could catch fire and cause
catastrophe like the New Petchburi Road gas explosion some years ago which
killed scores of people and injured many others.
	The natural gas to be brought in from Burma is light and quickly evaporate
into the air if leaked out, he said, adding that the same kind of natural
has been supplied from gas filed in the Gulf of Thailand through a network
of in-land pipelines for 15 years and still there is not a single incident
of dangerous gas leak.
	Meanwhile, environmental groups opposing the Yadana gas pipeline project
are urged to "be reasonable and to take into consideration national interest
as the main concern," National Security Council deputy secretary General
Kachadpai Buruphat said yesterday.
	Mr Kachadpai said that although he was aware of the environmentalists'
genuine concern over the impact the pipeline could have, he said he would
like them to adopt a "middle-path approach, to be reasonable and to weigh
the advantages and disadvantages of the project."
	He also urged the protesting environmentalists to always bear in mind the
national interest which might be affected by their actions.
	"We should come face-to-face and talk with reason," he said, adding that if
the environmental groups have any doubt about the project, the authorities
concerned - namely the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, should be able to
give clarification.
	The NSC deputy chief also urged the media to inform the public about the
project through "straightforward reporting" to do away with the fear in the
minds of the public about certain aspects of the project.
	He called upon all parties concerned to show responsibility and to
safeguard the national interest.
	Environmental groups have mounted a campaign in Kanchanaburi, claiming that
the life of people in the province will be at great risk if there is a leak
in the pipeline. They also claimed that the pipeline could rupture because
it is sitting on a fault line. (BP)


April 21, 1997

TWO Thai villagers were badly injured and another one went missing after
steeping on a land mine on the Burmese side of the border opposite Tha Song
Yang district, Tak yesterday morning.
	Jamras Khamkwang, 36, his brother Phichit, 20, and other workers were
allegedly cutting logs illegally in Daung village opposite Tha Song Yang
district. They were reportedly hired by a Thai logging company.
	One worker is still missing but he has not yet been identified by the
	Border Patrol Police has warned villagers not to cross the border because
of mines laid by unknown groups. (BP)


April 21, 1997
by Rupa Chinai

Imphal: India has paid little attention to its Myanmar connection. A
country whose western border adjoins the north-eastern Indian states of
Nagaland, Manipur and Arunchal Pradesh, Myanmar is shrouded in a veil of
secrecy. Since 1988 with the takeover by a military dictatorship, SLORC
(State Law and Order Restoration Council), Myanmar has closed its doors
to the outside world.
	Despite its isolation, growing evidence suggests that adverse economic and
health conditions in Myanmar are having repercussion in India and therefore
warrant New Delhi's concern and intervention.
	A visit to the area shows that lack of basic economic development on both
sides of the India- Myanmar border is encouraging an opium driven economy.
Opium is widely cultivated and used as a means of barter and its easy
availability encourages addiction.
	For the past several years, Myanmar has produced more than half of the
world's illicit opium, and is now the pricipal source of heroin for the
US market, according to US government reports. Observer say that with
the crack-down against heroin trafficking by Thailand, the drug trade
route has altered and can now be traced from within Myanmar, through
north-eastern India and possibly Banglsdesh as well.
	The Central government appears to be impervious to the fact that India is
emerging as a significant conduit in the international heroin trade
emanating from the Golden Triangle in Myanmar. A March 1997 report of
the United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board says India is
a "Significant trans-shipment point for heroin from south-west and
south-east Asia."
	Despite SLORC's claims of having launched operations to reduce opium
cultivation and crub drug lords, there is strong suspicion that
Myanmar's drug empire enjoys official patronage.
	The UN report states: " SLORC's business relationship with some of Burma's
top narco-trafficking minority groups raise the suspicion in the
minds of some observers that senior Burmese officials are profiting from
narcotics revenues... There are persistent reports that lower level
officials, particularly in the border regions, are involved in taking
bribes in return for ignoring drug smuggling."
	While western countries tried to pressure Myanmar to reduce opium
cultivation and step up economic development instead, this has not
happend. Hordes of young Myanmar refugees, primarily from the Chin and
Kachin States of Myanmar and now living in Mon(Nagaland), told this
correspondent that they fled economic oppression.
	Their description of life back home corroborates a report smuggled out of
Myamar which was compiled by an NGO based in Kachin. The NGO's survey of 41
villages and towns speaks of widespread opium cultivation in Kachin, and up
to 80% addition in these areas. They also speak of villages that are riddled
with Tuberculosis, and the absence of roads, schools, medicines and Doctors.
	The outpouring of millions of "migrants" from Myanmar into China, India and
Thailand, has also hightened the risk of HIV spread, say two US based
researchers, Denis Bernstein and Leslie Kean, whose finding were published
in the December 1996 issue of the US journal, The Nation. "The highest rates
of HIV infection in both China and India lie right at
their border with Myanmar," they state.
	According to published reports of the WHO and UN, there are close to
500,000 drug addicts in Myanmar. Almose 60 to 70 per cent of IV drug users
are HIV positive. These estimates are further confirmeed by 1995 sentinel
surveillance figures of the US Bureau of Census.
	Police and customs officials at Manipur's border town of Moreh admit there
is a problem. Moreh is the end point of National High Way 39,
infamous as the "number four" (pure grade heroin) route linking India
and Myanmar . KN Singh , sub-divisional police officer, admits that
besides heroin, firearms and precious stones from Myanmar are also
smuggled in. There are two check-posts here.
	" It is an open border with no checks, particularly between Moreh to
Molcham, a 100 km stretch," says Mr. Singh. " There is no road, only a
foot track and thick jungle. Any one can pass through. Very little
heroin is seized. In the past year, the only seizures have been small
amounts from drug addicts in Moreh. Last year's total haul was only half
a Kg. We know that a great volume of drug is comming, particularly
through the jungle routes. We do not, however, have an estimate.

April 18, 1997

ROJANA Industrial Park Plc's board of directors yesterday approved the 
company's plan to form a joint venture with a Burmese state agency to 
operate an industrial estate in Rangoon.
	Rojana told the Stock Exchange of Thailand that the company 
will take a 60 per cent stake in the new venture called Rojana Yangon,
which will have a registered capital of US$23.33 million (Bt600 million), 
and the remaining stake will be held by Burma's Department of Human 
Settlement and Housing Development.
	Rojana Yangon will sign a 50-year contract with the Burmese
government to lease a 630 rai lot for the industrial park.


April 18, 1997

BANGKOK: The government plans to coordinate a meeting between 
various agencies in order to work out how best to deal with the growing 
tide of Burmese immigrants, the deputy spokesman of the House committee 
on foreign affairs said yesterday.
	Nopadol Patama said agencies including the Interior Ministry, the
Public Health Ministry, the Army, the National Security Council and 
various non-governmental organizations will be invited to the meeting, 
which will be held in early June.
	Describing the influx of Burmese into the country as a "problem",
Nopadol said environmental damage and security in the border region.
	Over 100,000 Burmese Karens fled across the border into 
Thailand in February, when the Burmese Junta launched a major offensive
against the anti-Rangoon Karen National Union. The influx of refugees 
swelled the numbers of Karens already seeking shelter in Thailand.
	Nopadol said members of the House panel on foreign affairs have
visited several refugee camps in Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces, where 
they learnt first hand about the difficulties that the refugees cause.
	The government, he said, will have to systematically register all
those sheltering in the border region in order to control them more