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BurmaNet News: November 15, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 15, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 07:31:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________November 15, 2000 Issue # 1662__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Czech Press: Rise and Fall of God's Army
*AP: Myanmar withdraws from World Cup qualification
*Asian Age: George's Little rangoon in uproar over general's visit
George?s Little Rangoon in uproar over general?s visit
*India Abroad News Service: Myanmarese leader's visit exposes divisions
in Indian policy
*The Star: Dialog plans to tap Myanmar oil and gas sector
*Mizzima: India prefers to be silent on democracy while dealing with
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Czech Press: Rise and Fall of God's Army
By Maxmilian Wechsler
November 15, 2000
After almost three years of armed resistance against the SPDC the
exhausted and desperate remnants of the God?s Army had no choice but to
surrender to the 4th brigade of the Karen National Liberation Army
The group gave up in October 2000 and consisted of 22 mainly teenage
soldiers, including the legendary twin teenage leaders, Johnny Htoo and
his elder brother Luther.
All God?s army soldiers will receive all necessary assistance from the
4th brigade of KNLA and they will be gradually incorporated into the
KNLA structure and participate in the operation against the SPDC.
A small remaining group of 8 God?s Army soldiers who refused to join the
KNLA currently facing an uncertain future, abandoned in the jungles of
Tenasserim Division. The group is led by Dah Moo. The KNLA will continue
to persuade them to give up.
The God?s Army was formed on 3 March 1997 at Htaw Ma Pyo after over 200
deeply religious Karen Christian families abandoned villages they lived
for centuries and fled to Thailand in February 1997.
The twin brothers, 8 years old at that time had a vision from the God
who command them to lead their people against the SPDC. Both saw with
their own eyes the looting and harassment committed by the advancing
SPDC soldiers against their people and couldn?t let it go on.
The formation of the God?s Army was discussed with a high ranking
official of the Karen National Union (KNU) who promised to assist them
on every possible way sympathize with their plight. Unfortunately, the
KNLA was unable to protect the Karen religious families from the SPDC
The God?s Army proved to be a formidable force from the beginning and
their remarkable battlefield victories against the SPDC made them famous
and feared force.
The God?s Army had between 1997-1998 about 200 young soldiers, 100
armed.. They were supervised by battle hardened and experienced KNLA
officers who were sometimes frustrated because the God?s Army followed
orders of the twin brothers instead.
The God?s Army inflicted heavy casualty upon the SPDC troops and rarely
suffered death or injury. This phenomenon led the Karen people to
believe the twin brothers really possessing a supernatural powers. The
rumors about their powers also reach the SPDC soldiers who attempted to
avoid encounter with the God?s Army fearing of their mysterious powers.
In reality, the early successes of the God?s Army against the SPDC can
be attributed to their determination, bravery and knowledge of the
The God?s Army engaged in average 10 battles a week with the SPDC troops
between 1997-1998 inflicting a heavy casualties on them. In one battle
the God?s Army killed 23 enemy soldiers without losing a single man.
As the news of the God?s Army brave deeds spread around the world a
financial aid started to coming in from abroad, especially from the
South Korean and Japanese NGOs. The Koreans gave money to build a church
for the God?s Army at Takolan, Suan Phung district of Ratchaburi
In the height of the God?s Army successes in early 1999 some
opportunists within the God?s Army and the Karen Solidarity Organization
(KSO) attempted to wrestle the control over the group and from this
moment the fortune of the God?s Army started to decline. The internal
squabbling led to the sharp reduction in the combat readiness and
A founding member of the God?s Army and KSO executive Saw Toe Toe guided
12 Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors (VBSW) to the God?s Army camp in
early September 1999. The VBSW took the full advantage of the God?s Army
innocence and naivety convincing that they will be better off by joining
in the future operations.
Unfortunately, the God?s Army swallowed the bait because of some greedy
people who among them controlled Johnny Htoo and Luther.
Instead of focusing their military efforts against the SPDC, the VBSW
attacked two targets inside Thailand: The Burmese embassy in Bangkok and
the Ratchaburi hospital. The God?s Army blindly participated. Both
events had a catastrophic consequence for both groups because they made
Thailand the second enemy.
Because of disagreements within the God?s Army leadership the acting
commander Shwe Bya left in March 2000 and formed the Democratic God?s
Army (DGA). He was joined by his close associate Kyaw Ni a.k.a. Johnny
who played a major part in the seizure of the Burmese embassy in
Bangkok. Instead of fighting the SPDC, the DGA concentrated to make
money by kidnappings and extortion.
Soe Toe Toe was more lucky than his colleagues. He and his family were
granted a refugee status in the United States.
Unfortunately, most of Saw Toe Toe?s Karen countrymen weren?t so lucky.
Around 418 God?s Army soldiers and relatives crossed to Thailand from
Burma between 2-3 February, 2000, after the SPDC mounted an offensive
against them. They ended at refugee camp in Thailand.
The Thai authorities also retaliated against the God?s Army evicting
some of their relatives from Takolan and detaining them at refugee camp
Rumors spread Sangkhlaburi during March 2000 connecting the Thai forces
to the alleged disappearance of 44 God?s Army men. A high level inquiry
was ordered by the Thai government after a complaint was lodged by the
Thai NGO. An exhaustive investigation conducted by the top Thai
government officials, which went on for several months, completely
cleared the Thai security authorities from any complicity as no evidence
of any wrong doings was discovered.
After the Ratchaburi hospital fiasco, the faith of the God?s Army was
sealed as all sponsors abandoned them, including the 4th brigade of KNLA
who tried desperately and unsuccessfully to convince their leaders and
the twins not to believe the VBSW promises and instead to listen to
their Karen brothers in the KNLA.
In the middle of 2000, the 4th brigade of KNLA decided to give a
humanitarian food aid to the suffering God?s Army soldiers and their
families pleading them again to give up and join the KNLA.
Finally, the God?s Army agreed to give up for the good of themselves and
the entire opposition movement.
AP: Myanmar withdraws from World Cup qualification
November 14, 2000; Tuesday
Myanmar has withdrawn from the qualification stages of the 2002 World
Cup, FIFA said Tuesday.
World soccer's governing body said it had received a fax from the
national association of Myanmar stating that the country, also known as
Burma, would not compete in the preliminary competition between members
of the Asian Football Confederation.
FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said the fax did not give a reason for the
Myanmar's first match was to have been against Tajikistan in Iran on
Nov. 24. Group 2 of the event now only has three teams in it Iran,
Tajikistan and Guam.
FIFA said the case would be submitted to the World Cup organizing
committee for ''appropriate action according to the regulations.''
Under the regulations governing the event, a team which withdraws after
March 1, 2000, loses its entry fee of 3,000 Swiss francs (dlrs 1,700)
and can be fined up to 40,000 francs (dlrs 22,600).
The World Cup finals will be in Japan and South Korea, May 31-June 30,
Asian Age: George's Little rangoon in uproar over general's visit
George?s Little Rangoon in uproar over general?s visit
By SEEMA MUSTAFA
New Delhi, Nov. 15: ôYou want to speak to the Burmese students,ö asked
the obliging member of defence minister George FernandesÆ staff at his
official residence, and promptly connected the line to the president of
the All Burma StudentsÆ League, Mr Kyaw Than, who attacked the Vajpayee
government for playing host to the second-most powerful man in the
Burmese military junta. Mr. Kyaw Than, who lives with Mr. Fernandes
along with several other students, did not mince words in questioning
the Indian governmentÆs decision to ôjoin hands with the oppressorsö in
laying out the red carpet for the vice-chairman of BurmaÆs ruling State
Peace and Development Council and chief of the armed forces, General
Maung Aye. ôWe are worried, we are very concerned,ö said the student
leader, adding, ôWe are very disturbed to see democratic India joining
hands with the military junta as this will not be fruitful in the
long-term interests of both countries.ö
Mr. Kyaw Than did try to defend his long-tern host, Mr. Fernandes,
saying, ôHe is personally supporting our cause but what can he do about
the governmentÆs policy? He has to accept it even though he has said he
is extending us his fullest support.ö He said, however, that the
students and the ôdemocratic forcesö were very worried about the
possibility of arms sales by India to Burma.
The studentsÆ league leader, however, laughed in embarrassment when it
was pointed out that he should take up the matter with the defence
minister at home as the defence deals would go through his office. The
same argument was offered by Samata Party spokesperson Shambu
Srivastava, who insisted that Mr Fernandes had to officially welcome
Gen. Aye but, politically, ôwe are all opposed to the military regime.ö
The defence minister obviously has carved out a dual role for himself:
officially he does what is required for him as a minister of the
government, unofficially he continues to support causes, even those
which his government is working against.
Significantly, it was left to Mr. Kyaw Than to speak of late Prime
Minister Jawaharlal NehruÆs foreign policy wherein India had decided to
support the cause of the oppressed and victimized in the world. It is
perhaps a coincidence that the visit by the military chief of Burma has
coincided with NehruÆs birth anniversary. The foreign office maintained
its usual stoic silence on the brewing controversy. When contacted by
The Asian Age, MEA spokesperson Raminder Jassal remained unavailable for
comment. The Burmese studentsÆ leader pointed out that there had been a
distinct shift in policy with the government diluting its full support
of the Palestine issue to a neutral stand in the present
Palestine-Israel crisis. He said, after persistent questioning, that
they might take up the matter with Mr Fernandes ôat the appropriate
The Burmese students will hold a demonstration in New Delhi on Thursday
to protest against IndiaÆs decision to welcome BurmaÆs military chief.
General Aye has arrived with a high-profile delegation and will be
accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will also
address Indian industrialists at the CII in a bid to further economic
ties between New Delhi and Rangoon, apart from meeting government
leaders and attending banquets in his honour. Officially, however, India
continues to oppose the military regime. The decision has drawn flak
from political parties, with CPI leader D. Raja pointing out that the
government was obviously trying to cultivate relations with the military
junta in a complete reversal of foreign policy. There is concern in
foreign policy circles about the undeclared shift, with experts
wondering at the governmentÆs refusal to articulate its policy on Burma.
India Abroad News Service: Myanmarese leader's visit exposes divisions
in Indian policy
Wednesday November 15, 1:25 PM
By P. Jayaram,
New Delhi, Nov 15 - The visit of a top leader of the Myanmarese military
regime has brought out to the surface differences within and outside the
Indian government over New Delhi's policy towards its eastern neighbor
Opinion is divided on whether New Delhi should do business with the
totalitarian regime there or support the pro-democracy forces led by
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who continues to be kept in house
detention by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SDPC).
SDPC Vice-Chairman, Gen. Maung Aye, who is on a weeklong visit to India,
is the senior-most Myanmarese leader to visit this country in a decade,
a reflection of the warming ties between the two countries. But certain
government leaders and opinion-makers feel that New Delhi's bonhomie
with the Yangon regime has been at the cost of its democratic ideals.
An indication of this schism may be available as President K.R.
Narayanan rolls out the red carpet to receive the visiting dignitary in
the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, on
November 17, when Aye arrives here after a visit to the Buddhist pilgrim
town of Bodhgaya. Narayanan's Burma-born wife, Usha, is reported to have
refused to receive Aye and his high-powered delegation that includes his
wife Daw Mya Mya and daughter Daw Nander Aye.
Rashtrapati Bhavan officials, when contacted, however declined to
confirm or deny these reports. Defence Minister George Fernandes, who as
an opposition leader was a strong supporter of the pro-democracy forces
in Myanmar, would also not be attending any function hosted in
connection with the Myanmarese leader's visit, sources close to him
But others, like former foreign secretary J.N. Dixit, who was
instrumental in normalization of ties with the SPDC regime under then
prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's government, strongly support the
government's policy towards Myanmar and feel that it was not for India
to decide what sort of government another country should have.
"India cannot be the contractor for democracy in other countries. If the
people of Burma (Myanmar's earlier name) cannot generate sufficient
pressure for the restoration of democracy in their country, how are we
supposed to do it?" he asked. "Our major concern should be that our
relations with Burma are maintained so that our national interests are
served," he told IANS, adding that these included cooperation in
controlling narcotic smuggling and preventing insurgent activities in
the northeastern states.
New Delhi is also keen that Yangon does not become too closely involved
with China strategically and militarily, he said but added: "That does
not mean that we are in favor of military dictatorship."
G. Parthasarathy, who was India's envoy to Myanmar during 1992-95, said
while there was sympathy and support for the pro-democracy forces in
Myanmar, "as a government we have to develop good neighborly relations
with Myanmar like any other country."
He noted that the northeastern states of Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and
Arunachal Pradesh all shared borders with Myanmar and it was important
for India to ensure the stability of the border areas. "We were also
concerned about the growing Chinese influence and did not want it to
spread to our borders," he told IANS.
Since the normalization of bilateral relations, the two countries have
signed a series of agreements to enhance cooperation in a wide range of
fields, including border trade and cooperation in combating terrorism.
India also sees Myanmar as its land-bridge to the rest of Southeast Asia
and had funded the construction of the 160-km Tamu-Kalemyo road across
the border in that country that is expected to ultimately become part of
the proposed Trans-Asian Highway. The two countries are also exploring
cooperation in building hydroelectric projects, utilizing Myanmar's
tremendous potential, particularly in the border areas.
Senior officials noted that the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation project,
inaugurated in the Laotian capital of Vientiane last week by India and
five Southeast Asian nations, would have been a non-starter without
Asked about criticism about India's Myanmar policy, Parthasarathy said:
"I wish these same democrats will be as strong in their criticism when
they visit China."
Ravi Nair, of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre here,
criticizing New Delhi's policy of engagement with Yangon, said: "We seem
to have given a good-bye to issues of human rights and democracy. If
India feels that its interests are best served by consorting with
undemocratic neighbors, then it is myopic."
He said India's entire "Look East" policy seems to be based on Myanmar,
which had come to assume a pivotal role, whether it is the Mekong-Ganga
Cooperation initiative, the East-West corridor or the proposed
transportation network. "It will be interesting to see if the Indian
government discusses (with Aye) compensation for the property seized
when thousands of Indians were thrown out of the country in the 1960s
and 1970s or a whole range of other issues of rights of Indian
minorities in Burma, who are treated as second class citizens," he said.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
The Star: Dialog plans to tap Myanmar oil and gas sector
Wednesday, November 15, 2000
By Ahmad Zuber Ibrahim
Dialog Group Bhd, which provides support services for the petroleum and
petrochemical industry, plans to tap into Myanmar's oil and gas industry
as part of its expansion into the Asean region.
According to Dialog chairman and group managing director Ngau Boon Keat,
Myanmar will turn out to be a good market in the long term.
"We are still at the initial stage of exploring the Myanmar market,
looking for opportunities through our agent over there. Our people
actually went over to Myanmar only two weeks ago,'' Ngau told reporters
after Dialog AGM in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He said, however, that the company was not setting any specific targets
for Myanmar, stressing that the recent trip was more of a fact-finding
mission to identify the business opportunities and potential customers,
especially the foreign oil companies, in Myanmar.
"Myanmar, which produces some 50,000 barrels of petroleum daily, offers
many business opportunities. Petronas Carigali and oil companies from
the US and Britain are already there,'' he said.
Ngau said that the venture would only see returns over a long period.
He said that as in China, it would probably take the company five years
to land its first contract in Myanmar.
Dialog's core business lies in marketing and technical services. In
addition to being an engineering, procurement, construction and
commissioning (EPCC) service provider, it also provides plant
maintenance services, centralised tankage facility services and
petroleum retail services in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry.
Currently, Dialog has offices in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. It
also has done business in Brunei and the Philippines.
Ngau said the overseas market could contribute between 20% and 25% to
the group's overall growth in the current financial year.
In August, Dialog was awarded a RM170mil subcontract by Kvaerner
Petrominco Engineering Sdn Bhd for construction and procurement services
to the butanediol complex project in Gebeng, Kuantan, for BASF Petronas
Chemicals Sdn Bhd.
Mizzima: India prefers to be silent on democracy while dealing with
New Delhi, November 14, 2000
Editorial, Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
Second-top Burmese military leader General Maung Aye, who is the
Vice-President of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
and chief of armed forces, is on an official visit to India from
November 14 onwards. This is his second visit to India in this year. The
first visit was in January to Shillong at the invitation of former
Indian army chief General V.P. Malik.
Policy analysts in India maintain that India continues to support for
the aspirations of Burmese people for democracy, despite official policy
of Indian government for a closer relationship with the military regime
ôThe government of India has been a host to various refugee groups from
Myanmar (Burma) and members of the democracy movement. That has not been
changed over the years. This itself shows IndiaÆs stand,ö said Sanjoy
Hazarika, a senior fellow of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research
He said that the people of India at large are with the Burmese peopleÆs
struggle for democracy. ôThe civil society in India is completely at one
on Myanmar issueàThat the regime in Myanmar is seen as very brutal and
totally opposed to democratic practices and democratic rights,ö
continued Sanjoy Hazarika.
India was the first neighboring country, which criticized the Burmese
regime during and after the 1988 peopleÆs uprising. For some years,
India practiced the policy of ôcomplete disengagementö with the military
junta. However, since 1994, India has been establishing closer
cooperation with Burma not only in economic field but also in military
operations against the insurgent groups of both countries.
During the past six years, senior government ministers of both have been
visiting each other to cement the once-fragile relationship. ôThat a
country should have a two-truck diplomacy. It cannot depend only on
government or opposition,ö said Professor G.N. Jha from Jawaharlal Nehru
University in Delhi.
Indian policy makers say that India has to establish a ôworking
relationshipö with whatever government in power in Burma due to certain
compelling factors, including to balance the strong Chinese presence and
economic interests in Burma and the need of support from the Burmese
regime in curbing IndiaÆs northeast insurgents which have bases in
ôWhat has changed, however, is the government of IndiaÆs emphasis and
public recognition of the importance of the regime in Rangoon both from
the security point of view and in terms of economic relations with that
country,ö said Sanjoy Hazarika.
Another factor is economic interest. While the Western countries are
isolating the military regime with sanctions, Indian industry is keen to
trade with Burma. ôMyanmar is not economically isolated in spite these
economic sanctions. If Myanmar follows open-door economic policy and
focuses on economic development, I think nobody can oppose it and India
will be happy to support these efforts,ö said TK Bhaumik, Senior Advisor
of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The present policy of Indian government towards military regime,
however, has caused growing concern for the exiled Burmese community.
While they understand the compulsion of a government, they canÆt
understand why India has lately been silent on the political repression
in Burma. ôWe thank Indian government and the people for giving us
shelter. But that is not enough. India being the world biggest democracy
has the responsibility to actively support the democratic movement in
Burma,ö said a New Delhi-based Burmese democracy activist.
There has been no official word from the Indian authorities on recent
events inside Burma where Aung San Suu Kyi was not allowed freedom of
On November 12, three days before the visit of General Maung Aye, India
turned back a prominent exiled Burmese activist from Indira Gandhi
International Airport despite the fact that he was holding a six-month
valid visa to India, issued by Indian Consulate in Chinag Mai, Thailand.
This entry denial of a leader of exiled movement seems to suggest that
India will not allow anything, which will cause embarrassment to the
visiting generals of Burma. For that case, Indian government is cautious
about the annoyance of the Burmese government rather than listening to
the cry of Burmese people for democracy. And it is unlikely that Indian
government officials will raise the issue of democracy and human rights
in the military-ruled country during their discussions with General
A sad day for democracy!
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