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BurmaNet News: May 10, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 10, 2001   Issue # 1804
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*Far Eastern Economic Review: Tourism - Wish You Were Here?

MONEY _______
*Daily Star (Bangladesh): AB Bank CEO meets Myanmar central bank 
*Bangkok Post: Thai firm loses millions in Burma bushfire
*International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine  and General 
Workers' Unions:  Burma Pull-out Urged

*Bangkok Post: Incursions not worth a war, says Chavalit
*The Nation: Air strikes possible as Wa troops hold ground 
*AP: Wa fighters retreat from hilltop after heavy Thai assault 

*AFP: European Union expected to give rare visa to Myanmar minister
*Govt of Japan: Reply to Questions about Burma on ODA, Forced Labor and 
*ICFTU: Labor groups opposed to the entry in Belgium of Burmese Junta 
*Radio Pakistan: Chief executive reports to cabinet meeting on Burma, 
Vietnam visits 
*Mizzima: Burmese hunger-strikers face imminent arrest 

*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): The wicked scheme
*Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): Thai Troops Shells Ethnic Militia 
Position On The Border 
*Freedom News (Shan State Army):  Interview Confirms Junta's Involvement 
In Narcotics Trade & Committing Extrajudicial Killings 
*Xinhua (PRC): Myanmar to Turn Northern Division into Rice Bowl

*PD Burma: Burma Calendar
*Free Burma Coalition: Burma Action Conference 2001

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Far Eastern Economic Review: Tourism - Wish You Were Here?

Issue cover-dated May 17, 2001

In the second of two articles looking at tourism issues in the region, 
we examine the fierce debate over the rights and wrongs of visiting 
Burma By Katherine Tanko/LONDON and Bertil Lintner/BANGKOK

FEW PUBLICATIONS have the power of the Lonely Planet series, the 
phenomenally popular guidebooks that are so influential they can 
make--or break--a hotel, restaurant or even a destination.  

So when Lonely Planet Publications released its latest Burma guide last 
year, concluding in the forward that it was better to visit the country 
despite a four-year-old tourism boycott, Burma activists in the West 
were enraged. The London-based Tourism Concern and Burma Campaign UK 
launched a campaign to boycott Lonely Planet's publications in an 
attempt to force the publisher to withdraw the book. 

Twelve months on, Lonely Planet remains defiant--its Burma guidebook is 
still on the shelves and tourists continue to visit Burma. The question, 
though, of whether or not to visit Burma remains. Hardliners on both 
sides of the debate often paint the issue in stark terms, but most other 
participants concede that there are no simple answers. "Tourism to Burma 
is an issue with only grey areas," says Oliver Hargreave, a guidebook 
writer based in Thailand. 

Lonely Planet defends its Burma guide--the 7th edition of a book it has 
been publishing since 1979--as one of the few readily available sources 
of accurate information on the country. The company claims the 
guide--which includes a two-page section titled "Should You Visit 
Myanmar?"--allows travellers to make up their own minds whether to visit 
and gives tips on how to minimize supporting the military government and 
maximize the positive benefits for ordinary Burmese. Furthermore, it 
accuses British activists of practising censorship and playing into the 
hands of Burma's junta. 

"There is anger at the pretence of objectivity," says Yvette Mahon, a 
director of the Burma Campaign UK. "The section 'Should You Go?' would 
be more appropriately headed 'You Should Go'." That's rejected by Tony 
Wheeler, publisher of Lonely Planet: "I'm not interested in encouraging 
people to go to Burma," he says. 

The book's editorial stance reflects a growing sentiment among tourists 
that boycotting Burma is not the answer to that nation's political woes. 
With the ruling State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC, firmly 
entrenched and the National League for Democracy, elected in a landslide 
victory in 1990, unlikely to assume power any time soon, some argue that 
isolating the country only makes matters worse. 

"I think tourism certainly benefits the average people in the street," 
says Wheeler. "I think it is possible that visitors can serve a valuable 
purpose as observers. Would anybody have known about Tiananmen Square if 
a similar event had taken place in the years when China was totally 

Indeed, say opponents of the boycott, if you're going to blacklist 
Burma, shouldn't you also boycott other countries with poor human-rights 
records? No, says Mahon. "The argument is that Burma is a special case 
for a number of important reasons: Because of the scale of human-rights 
abuses directly connected to tourism, because tourism dollars are 
helping prolong the life of an illegitimate regime, and because the 
country has an elected government which has specifically asked all 
tourists to stay away." 

That's a reference to Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League 
for Democracy, who has said that tourists should not visit Burma. Suu 
Kyi has dismissed as "patronizing" suggestions that Burma's people can 
only benefit from contacts with outsiders--and that Western tourists can 
help promote democracy by spreading new ideas. "Burmese people know 
their own problems better than anyone else," she wrote in Tourism 
Concern's In Focus magazine. "To suggest that there's anything new that 
tourists can teach the people of Burma about their own situation is not 
just patronizing--it's also racist." Such views are echoed by other 
veterans of the Burmese opposition. "For the government, tourism is a 
great PR exercise," says Aung Zaw, a Burmese journalist in exile in 
Thailand. "It demonstrates to the world and its foes that the country is 
safe and secure because tourists are coming." 

Tourists, indeed, are coming. In 1995, Burma received 117,000 tourists, 
according to 
the World Tourism Organization, which defines tourists as overnight 
visitors. By 1999, the most recent year for which figures are available, 
that figure had risen to just over 198,000. Most of those came from Asia 
(see chart)--with almost 33,000 from Taiwan. (That figure, however, may 
be inflated by business people taking advantage of cheap tourist 
packages). So it's perhaps ironic that the debate over the rights and 
wrongs of visiting Burma is seldom raised by Taiwanese visitors. 

According to Rolland Yang of Taipei's Hong Yi Travel Agency, most 
visitors from Taiwan know little about human-right issues in Burma. 
Visiting the country does little to change their perceptions, he adds, 
as tourists tend to find Burma--at least on the surface--relatively calm 
and peaceful. Susan Su, of Toshin Travel Services, agrees, and adds that 
visitors from Taiwan are usually more concerned with whether Burma is 
safe and with what they can bring in and out. 

Such views, of course, are music to the ears of Burma's generals, who 
are keen to promote the country's tourism business as a means of 
bringing in hard currency. While economic data from Burma is notoriously 
unreliable, it's still possible to get some sense of the value of 
tourism. According to the World Tourism Organization, tourism receipts 
were worth $35 million in 1999. Exports, by contrast, were worth 7.03 
billion kyat--that's $1.2 billion based on the official exchange rate 
for the kyat, but just $19.5 million based on the then-prevailing 
blackmarket exchange rate. The hopes pinned on the tourist business have 
led to over-expansion: Between 1995 and 1998, the number of hotel rooms 
almost doubled to just under 14,000, the World Tourism Organization 
says, and there's now a glut of space. 

For many people, money is at the core of the Burma debate. According to 
journalist Aung Zaw, "tourism revenue only lines the pockets of the 
generals." He points to the existence of a range of state fees and 
charges levied on tourists that make their way to the ruling SPDC. 
Lonely Planet's Wheeler, though, rejects the "disinformation spread by 
some of the boycott movement" that tourists must pay an entry charge 
into Burma, though he acknowledges that tourists are still hit by a 
compulsory exchange that forces them to buy $200 worth of 
foreign-exchange certificates. 

"That money from tourism helps finance the SPDC is without doubt," says 
Hargreave, "but it also helps many Burmese make a living." While 
Hargreave has his own reservations about the ethics of visiting Burma, 
he fears that a dramatic decline of revenues would hit ordinary Burmese 
and force the state to pursue other--possibly less acceptable--ways of 
raising money. 

Both Wheeler and Hargreave agree that if visitors are concerned about 
contributing revenues to the Burmese state, the best solution is simply 
to spend as little as possible and try to avoid state-owned 
establishments. "It is ironic that by spending less, a tourist is likely 
to benefit the general Burmese more," says Hargreave. "Whether the 
average Burmese would benefit more politically if tourists were to spend 
nothing at all, however, is a question that is likely to remain 

David Lu in Taipei contributed to this article


Daily Star (Bangladesh): AB Bank CEO meets Myanmar central bank governor

C M Koyes Sami, President and CEO of Arab Bangladesh Bank Limited, along 
with Arif Quadri, Vice President, recently visited Myanmar to oversee 
the operation of the bank's representative office in Myanmar, says a 
press release. 
They also called on Kyaw Kyaw Maung, Governor of the central bank of 
Myanmar, to discuss business development between the two countries. Sami 
apprised the governor that LCs generally opened in Bangladesh to import 
commodities from Myanmar are usually advised by the banks in Singapore, 
resulting in high cost of merchandise and loss of valuable time for the 
Bangladeshi importers and as well as the exporters of Myanmar. 

To overcome the situation, he emphasised allowing the bank's 
representative office to handle LC advising and bill discounting 
facilities with approval of the central banks of both countries. 

U Than Lwin, Deputy Governor and Chief of Foreign Exchange of the 
central bank, Myanmar, assisted the governor Mahmudur Rahman, 
Representative of ABBL in Myanmar, was also present during this 

Later in the evening, Sami attended a dinner party at a local hotel 
arranged in honour of bankers and leading businessmen and elites of 
Myanmar. Sami also placed some suggestions before Myanmar exporters 
regarding the difficulties being faced by the importers of Bangladesh. 



Bangkok Post: Thai firm loses millions in Burma bushfire

A bushfire in Burma destroyed a thousand logs worth millions of baht 
owned by a Thai firm, border sources said.

The fire spread across the forest opposite Ban Mae Ngao in Khun Yuam 
district and burned down timber owned by Polpana Co.

The commander of the 337th battalion, told to guard the timber, is under 
investigation. The logs were among those left stranded in Burma after 
the Salween logging scandal.

Polpana Co, FA Pharmaceutical, B&F Goodrich and Thai-Korean Veterans' 
Welfare Co have been trying to haul back the timber since 1996.

The fire is another financial blow to log importers who have already 
lost more than one million baht from the delays.


International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine   and General 
Workers' Unions:  Burma Pull-out Urged


  No. 24/2001

  10 May 2001

  Burma Disinvestment Campaign:
  Unocal Shareholder Lobby as Unions Step up World Action

  Pressure to end forced labour in Burma and restore democracy has been  
 stepped up by the 20-million-strong International Federation of 
Chemical,   Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM).

  In the USA, the ICEM today urged shareholders of energy multinational 
Unocal   to support two Burma-related resolutions on human rights and 
ethical   conduct, to be voted on at the company's upcoming May 21 
annual meeting. 
  Meanwhile, ICEM Asia-Pacific has launched a poster, leaflet and 
Internet   campaign to rally support for the Burmese workers. It says 
that unions in   the region should ask companies to pull out of Burma, 
and should, if   necessary, prepare to organise consumer boycotts of any 
firms that refuse to   do so.

  "The ICEM has consistently pressed multinational companies in its 
industries   to withdraw from Burma until full democracy and human 
rights, including   trade union rights, are restored there," commented 
ICEM General Secretary   Fred Higgs in Brussels today. "Through the US 
shareholder lobby, the   Asia-Pacific action and other means, we are now 
intensifying that campaign." 
  Investigations by the UN's International Labour Organisation had 
"shown   beyond any shadow of a doubt that the use of forced labour in 
Burma is as   systematic as it is brutal," Higgs said. "The ILO has 
advised companies,   states and international organisations to review 
their relations with Burma,   so as to ensure that they do not in any 
way support or condone forced   labour.

  "We once again call upon all companies in our sectors to disinvest 
from   Burma," he said. "This applies not least to those oil and gas 
corporations   whose continued presence there is helping to prop up one 
of the world's most   repressive regimes.

  "Any company that continues to do business with the Burmese junta will 
do   itself great discredit," Higgs pointed out. "So will any company 
that   continues to do business with the Burmese state oil company MOGE, 
which has   helped to launder the money generated by the junta's 
worldwide trafficking   of illegal narcotics."


  In the US, the first of the ICEM-backed resolutions for the Unocal 
annual   meeting is sponsored by the LongView Collective Investment Fund 
of the   Amalgamated Bank of New York, which is a shareholder. It urges 
the Unocal   board of directors to adopt, implement and enforce a code 
of conduct based   on the ILO's trade union rights conventions.

  The second resolution, sponsored by shareholders Maryknoll Fathers and 
  Brothers, the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility, As You 
Sow   Foundation and Walden Asset Management, urges the Unocal board of 
directors   to appoint a special committee of the board to review ways 
to link executive   compensation with the company's ethical and social 
  In a letter sent today to Unocal's top 100 institutional investors, 
Kenneth   Zinn, ICEM North American Regional Coordinator, said that "by 
adopting   exemplary standards of corporate governance and best global 
practices in   human rights in the workplace, the company will be taking 
significant   measures to enhance shareholder value."

  Zinn pointed out that over the past two years, Unocal shares have 
fallen   more than five percent compared with a 69 percent gain for its 
industry peer   group, and that the company's uneven exploration record 
has raised concerns   for its financial future.

  Unocal has received significant criticism over its investments in 
Burma. It   is a participant in a 1.2 billion US dollar joint venture 
with the Burmese   government in the Yadana gas pipeline, a project on 
which forced labour is   alleged to have been used.

  A law suit against Unocal by Burmese plaintiffs in a US district court 
in   California was dismissed last August but is currently under appeal. 
Judge   Ronald Lew stated in his opinion: "The evidence does suggest 
that Unocal   knew that forced labour was being utilised and the Joint 
Venturers   (including Unocal) benefited from the practice."

  "If Unocal truly implemented a workplace code of conduct that fully 
complied   with the ILO conventions, it would have to pull out of 
Burma," said the   ICEM's Kenneth Zinn today. "The outlawed trade unions 
and the democratic   movement in Burma have called for foreign companies 
to withdraw, and Unocal   should follow the example of the many other 
companies that have pulled out   of that country."

  The full text of the ICEM's letter to Unocal shareholders is online 
at:   http://www.icemna.org/ecmpbrm7.htm


  "There can be no human rights without trade union rights in Burma," 
the ICEM   Asia-Pacific campaign insists.

  The campaign is online on the ICEM Asia-Pacific website at:   

  ICEM Asia-Pacific is also distributing posters and leaflets on rights 
abuses   in Burma. Unions in each country should decide the most 
appropriate forms of   action, it says. Four basic action points are 
  - Seek wider support: "Ask the trade union movement in your country to 
  participate fully in this campaign. Ask your government to publicly 
condemn   the military regime of Burma and to pledge support to the 
trade union   movement in the fight for change in Burma. Ask employer 
organisations and   employers that your union works with to do the 

  - Target companies that trade with Burma: "Check if any of the 
companies   that your union has members at trades with Burma. If they 
do, ask that they   stop doing so until real change is achieved in 
Burma. Be prepared to expose   them publicly if they refuse and run a 
campaign to boycott their goods." 
  - Protest: "Write letters of protest to the Burmese authorities in 
your   country. Press the trade union movement to organise rallies and   
demonstrations outside their Embassy. Use the media in your campaign." 
  - Education: "Make sure that union members are aware and involved in 
the   campaign. Get their support for the restoration of union rights 
and the end   of forced labour in Burma. Raise the issue at union 
meetings. Ask the   membership to pass resolutions supporting the trade 
union campaign." 


  The ICEM action is part of a wider Burma campaign by the world trade 
union   movement as a whole. At a special conference in Tokyo this 
March, union   internationals agreed to step up the pressure.

  More details are available online from the International Confederation 
of   Free Trade Unions at:



Bangkok Post: Incursions not worth a war, says Chavalit

 May 10, 2001.

Military determined to push them back
Wassana Nanuam and Subin Khuenkaew

The defence minister confused and frustrated front line troops 
yesterday, saying repeated incursions by Burmese and Red Wa soldiers on 
Thai soil were a very small matter and should not be taken seriously. 

Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said insurgents who occupied Hua Lone hill saw 
it as a vantage point in the defence of Takhi outpost in Burma against 
the Shan State Army, and should be allowed time to withdraw. 

Soldiers along the border said they did not understand how the defence 
minister could even suggest Thai soil was not worth fighting for. 

Army chief Gen Surayud Chulanont insisted the military would force the 
intruders off Hua Lone hill and back across the border. 

"The hill belongs to Thailand and we have to push them out regardless of 
whatever reasons they might have [for the intrusion]," he said. 

"We have a duty to fight, while our superiors have a duty to negotiate 
and take diplomatic action. "Fighting can take place while negotiations 
go on," he said. 
Gen Chavalit said if the intruders did not retreat, the township border 
committee in Burma would be notified. If they remained on Thai soil 
after a given period, then Thai soldiers could open fire and drive them 
out-after notifying the nearest Burmese military unit. 

Gen Surayud said a protest had already been passed to Burma's township 
border committee and to the Burmese military attache in Bangkok. 

Burmese and United Wa State Army soldiers have occupied Hua Lone hill 
near Ban Norlae in Fang district of Chiang Mai, remaining put despite an 
artillery bombardment. 
Following Gen Chavalit's remarks, an all-out attack to drive them out, 
planned for yesterday, was put on hold and the shelling of the hill came 
to a halt. 
Gen Chavalit said there was no doubt the army was ready for combat. But 
the intrusion by 20-30 soldiers a couple of hundred metres into Thailand 
was of little significance because relations between Thailand and Burma 
had considerably improved. 
"People became excited after reading the news and seeing pictures. In 
fact, it was nothing," he said. 

Asked if the repeated intrusions by ethnic minority soldiers, allies of 
Rangoon, was with permission from Burma, Gen Chavalit said: "With such 
permission or not, no matter what, we have to try to prevent such 
occurrences. We have to resort to negotiations."A settlement could be 
reached in just a few days, and the tensions that had arisen since Feb 7 
might just go away as if nothing had ever happened. 
On Feb 8, Burmese soldiers moving against Shan State Army rebels seized 
a Thai ranger outpost near Ban Pang Noon in Chiang Rai's Mae Fa Luang 
The military responded by shelling the outpost and dislodged the 
Burmese, inflicting heavy casualties. 

The Burmese retaliated by shelling Mae Sai border town with mortars, 
killing three Thai civilians. Following the incident, border checkpoints 
in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Tak provinces were closed. 

Gen Chavalit recalled a Thai-Burmese dispute over Hill 419 in Chumphon 
district many years back. The two sides exchanged artillery fire for 
nearly seven days for nothing, he said-implying it was not worth it for 
both sides to resort to violent action. 
Third Army soldiers yesterday expressed frustration at Gen Chavalit's 
One officer said he was disappointed with Gen Chavalit. He was surprised 
that the defence minister, who was once the army commander, could make 
such remarks. It would certainly demoralise soldiers on the front line. 

"We've not fired a single shot today because we are professional 
soldiers and are taught to obey the orders of our commanders," said the 
Pha Muang task force officer. 
The Third Army's planned offensive against the intruding forces at Hua 
Lone hill was called off yesterday pending further instructions from 

The Pha Muang task force, which is in charge of security along the 
border area opposite Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, had planned to launch a 
full scale offensive to dislodge the Burmese forces from the hill. 

Another junior officer said it was his duty to protect the country. He 
said he and his men were disheartened by Gen Chavalit's comments. 

"We were taught we must sacrifice our lives for the country if need be, 
and not to give an inch of our land to the enemy," he said. 

"But our defence minister is trying to convince us that the seized 
territory was not worth fighting for.  "As a defence minister how could 
he make such a remark?"

Col Chucheep Srisomboon, the Third Army spokesman, said the intruding 
forces were still occupying Thai territory. 
It was the army's duty to dislodge them.

He declined to comment directly on Gen Chavalit's statement. 

"What I can say is that Red Wa soldiers who are supported by the Burmese 
military are still occupying our land and we have to push them back," 
Col Chucheep said.


The Nation: Air strikes possible as Wa troops hold ground 

May 10, 2001  
AIR FORCE ON ALERT: Air strikes possible as Wa troops hold ground 
The Army yesterday continued its cat-and-mouse strategy in an effort to 
dislodge some 50 Wa rebels from Hua Lone hill, but could change tactics 
if the latter refuse a total withdrawal.  
Army chief Surayudh Chulanont said ground troops backed by artillery and 
mortar fire were able to retake some ground where the rebels had 
retreated, but were still a long way from driving them off the hill, 
some 400 metres inside the border of Fang district.  
Surayudh said he was confident his troops would eventually retake the 
Col Chucheep Srisomboon, chief of the Pha Muang Task Force civil 
division, said the army had to switch from using infantry to retake the 
hill as the insurgents held the higher ground.  

The Air Force, meanwhile, has put jet fighters on standby in case an air 
strike is needed.  

"At this stage we believe that the ground troops can handle the 
situation," said Royal Air Force commander ACM Pong Maneesilp.  

Pong said that, if necessary, jet fighters from Chiang Mai-based Wing 41 
will be used, supported by F-16s from Wing 4 from Nakhon Sawan, and Wing 
One from Nakhon Ratchasima and F-5s from Ubon Ratchathani, Surathani and 
Lop Buri.  

The Army has lodged a protest over the incident with the Burmese 
Township Border Committee and the Burmese military attache in Bangkok 
but has not received a reply.  
Foreign Ministry spokesman Norachit Singhaseni yesterday urged Burma to 
take responsibility for the insurgency at Hua Lone Hill.  

Norachit cited the agreement, reached with Rangoon during Foreign 
Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's trip last week, that the two sides 
would abide by the facts in resolving any border flare-up.  

He said Thailand had a legitimate right to use force to repel any 
The Pha Muang Task Force started to shell the rebels, who have held the 
hill since Monday.  

In a joint operation with Burmese troops last week, they successfully 
retook nearby Hua Nok hill and other two bases from the Shan State Army 

No casualties have been reported in the area, which is about 780 
kilometres north of Bangkok.   The Army has accused Burmese troops of 
using artillery to support the Wa fighters on Thai soil.  

In Rangoon, Lt Col San Pwint, a senior military intelligence officer, 
said Burmese troops had only fired warning shots. He claimed that the 
"ethnic militia" occupying the hill had retreated on Tuesday night. He 
did not identify the militia.  
The Burmese side also said the location of the hill was disputable as 
the two countries use different maps of the border.  

"The incident has clearly shown that Burmese troops are supporting the 
Wa, because the Wa rebels do not have such heavy artillery," said Col 
Somkuan Saengpattaranetr, an Army spokesman.  

In a related move, another group of Rangoon-backed ethnic rebels clashed 
for a second time with Thai troops at Molithai village. An initial clash 
last week resulted in the deaths of three civilians on the Thai side.  

Border authorities said eight fighters from the Democratic Karen 
Buddhist Army had entered the village in the Phop Phra district of Tak 
and headed toward the military outpost.   The firefight lasted 10 
minutes before the rebels retreated into Burma. No casualties were 


AP: Wa fighters retreat from hilltop after heavy Thai assault 

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ In a show of strength, a Thai F-16 fighter jet 
flew along the Thai-Myanmar border after the army said Thursday it had 
driven out a group of ethnic guerrillas allied to the Myanmar regime 
from a disputed hill. 
 Thai army spokesman Col. Somkuan Saengpattaranetr told The Associated 
Press that a single jet flew two sorties at the border. He said the 
fighters of the United Wa State Army withdrew from Hua Lone hill late 
Wednesday after coming under heavy bombardment from the Thai army. 

 Thailand claimed that between 30 and 60 men had encroached on its 
territory. Myanmar said the location of the hill was disputed as the two 
countries use different maps.   The incident has deepened the rift 
between Thailand and Myanmar, whose relations are at the lowest point in 
years after their armed forces clashed at the mountainous border in 

 The United Wa State Army reached a cease-fire with the Myanmar military 
junta in 1989. It has virtual autonomy in a swathe of the country's 
eastern Shan State and is widely believed to be a major producer of 
illegal drugs. 

 A senior Myanmar government official, speaking on customary condition 
of anonymity, said Thursday the ``ethnic militia did not retreat but 
withdrew to a more strategic position further inside Myanmar 
territory.'' He did not identify the militia. 
 Yet in a sign of continuing tensions, state-owned Thai News Agency said 
that the air force had staged an airstrike at another hill along the 

 The air force and the army denied this, describing loud noises and 
shaking felt by local people twice Thursday morning as sonic booms of 
the F-16 on a routine mission. 
 Thailand said it fired dozens of artillery and mortar rounds to 
dislodge the Wa fighters on the hill, located about 780 kilometers (475 
miles) north of Bangkok. 

 Lt. Col. Peeranet Kethem, of Pha Muang border task force, cited 
unconfirmed Thai intelligence and field reports that 20 Wa guerrillas 
were killed and 22 others injured. 
 But Somkuan, the army spokesman, said soldiers have to make sure the 
area does not have land mines before they reach the hill, ``so I cannot 
confirm the casualty report.'' 
 Bilateral disputes over demarcation of the frontier are common, but 
relations have become severely strained, principally because of the 
trafficking of methamphetamines and heroin from border regions of 
Myanmar to Thailand. 

 According to Thai and U.S. narcotics experts, the Wa army is the 
leading producer of illegal drugs in Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle. 
Myanmar denies Thailand's contention that it uses the Wa army as its 
proxy and does little to stop the drugs trade. 
 Myanmar accuses Thailand of helping ethnic rebels fighting military 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AFP: European Union expected to give rare visa to Myanmar minister 

BANGKOK, May 10 (AFP) - The European Union is expected to
allow a Myanmar minister to attend a UN meeting in Brussels this month, 
in a rare exception to its ban on visits by
leaders from the military-run country, officials said

The German embassy in Yangon, which represents Belgium in
the military-run country, confirmed that Minister of
National Planning and Economic Development 

U Soe Tha planned to attend a conference on the Least
Developed Countries. 

"Yes he has applied (for a visa)," a spokeswoman told AFP.   European 
Union officials here said the bloc's five-year-old ban on giving visas 
to senior figures in the Myanmar junta was likely to be waived in this 

"As it's a UN conference there's a certain access guarantee for whoever 
is participating and so it would therefore circumvent the restrictions 
in place for senior Burmese ministers going to the EU," a spokesman 

"In this case this should be applied, as it has been several times in 
the past." 

UN sources here said nations which agree to host UN conferences are 
compelled to accept all members of the global body regardless of their 
national regulations. 

These "host country agreements" are usually negotiated months or years 
in advance and also apply to meetings at UN headquarters in New York. 

However, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), 
which has campaigned against the widespread practice of forced labour in 
Myanmar, has appealed to Brussels to ban U Soe Tha from entering the 

"It is unacceptable that the junta member, who is blacklisted on the 
European Union list against Burmese officials, be given a visa to enter 
Belgium," it said in a statement. 

"Belgium's access obligations as the host of a UN conference (should 
not) overrule the ethnical principles included in the European Union 

The ICFTU said it had sent a letter to Belgian Foreign affairs Minister 
Louis Michel calling on him to ensure that the German authorities 
refused U Soe Tha's visa application.   "Burma could still send a 
delegation to the UN conference
that did not include blacklisted junta officials," it said, using 
Myanmar's former name. 

The controversy over U Soe Tha's visit comes as the international 
community is maintaining a close watch on secret talks between Myanmar's 
democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta which began in October. 

The generals in Yangon have made a series of modest concessions since 
the dialogue started, including ordering the official media to cease its 
vicious routine attacks on the Nobel peace laureate. 

Nations usually highly critical of the regime, particularly the United 
States and the EU member nations, have held back from heaping further 
pressure on its leaders as they wait to see the outcome of the process. 

However, in recent weeks observers in Yangon have said that the talks 
appear to have run into trouble, as dissenting factions within the 
military baulk at the prospect of far-reaching reforms.


Govt of Japan: Reply to Questions about Burma on ODA, Forced Labor and 

[BurmaNet adds: Under the Japanese Parliamentary system, Mps can submit 
written questions to the government which the government has to answer.  
Yasuku Takemura, a Member of the Japanese Parliament and of PD Burma 
submitted questions on Japanese development aid to Burma, forced labor 
and Suzuki?s activities in Burma.  This is the response to those 
questions as translated by PD Burma-Japan.  PD Burma is a league of 
parliamentarians from around the world who support the movement to 
restore democracy in Burma.]



Reply to the questionnaire submitted by Ms. Yasuko Takemura, PD Burma 
member  Translated by PD Burma-Japan 

To: Mr. Yutaka Inoue
Chairperson of the House of Councillors,

Prime Minister of Japan

April 20th, 2001

Re:  Questionnaire by Yasuko Takemura, a member of the House of 
Councillors, regarding the policy of Japanese government on Myanmar 
1, We think highly of the direct dialogue between the Government Myanmar 
and Aung San Suu Kyi which started from December of Heisei 12th, as an 
important step toward democracy in Myanmar. To bring this dialogue, 
there has been preserved effort by the international society including 
Japan, especially by Mr. Razali Ismail, Special Envoy of UN Secretary 
General. We will continue to encourage Myanmar to put effort towards 
democracy through various channels by co-operating with Mr. Razali 

The article in the New York Times indicates that the Government of Japan 
is going to resume its total Aid, which has been ceased since Showa 
63rd. The dialogue is the main reason. However, regarding development 
Aid to Myanmar, we had been practising under the scheme of case-by-case 
bases such as continuous programs and basic human needs programs, which 
directly benefit the people, by having the democratisation and human 
right situation in our mind. There have been no plans to change this 
policy, nor to resume the total Aid. 

2, The Government of Japan replied to the letter from Mr. Juan Somavia, 
General Secretary of ILO as follows; 

1) The relation between Japan and Myanmar does not include conducting 
forced labour in Myanmar, directly or indirectly. There have been no 
Japanese programs, which are involved in forced labour practices.  

2) The Government of Japan hopes the forced labour problem in Myanmar 
will be solved as soon as possible. For this purpose, we hope 
constructive dialogue between Myanmar and ILO will be taken in its 
earliest occasions. 

3) It is not the fact that the office of ôMyanmar economical adjustment 
task forceö is existing in the building of the Ministry of Economy 
Planning in Myanmar. Regarding the symposium of ôPromotion of Investment 
to new ASEAN entriesö, it was held for the purpose of promoting 
co-operation between Japan and ASEAN. It aims to encourage investment 
from Japan to the new ASEAN members: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and 
Vietnam, to adjust the economical difference and to support the 
integration process in ASEAN. It does not have any factors to conduct 
forced labour in Myanmar. 

Regarding the development Aid to Myanmar, we had been practised under 
the scheme of case-by-case bases, such as continuous programs and basic 
human needs programs, which directly benefit the people, by the 
democratisation and human right situation in our mind. This scheme is 
depend on the ODA charter (approved by the cabinet in June 30, Heisei 
4th), to pay attention to promoting democratisation in developing 
countries, ensuring the basic human rights and freedom. The ODA has been 
enforced by considering every aspect of the requests by the 
counterparts, economical and societal situation, and bilateral 
relations. Japan does not suppress the direct investment on Myanmar by 
Japanese private investors. The Government of Japan thinks it will 
benefit the democratisation process in Myanmar to have various ties 
between international societies. 

4, We understand that Suzuki Corporation is producing daily- life- use 
of two-wheeled  vehicles (125cc) and four-wheeled vehicles (1000cc) by 
establishing Myanmar Suzuki Corporation together with Myanmar Auto 
Diesel Industry Corporation (MADI) and other two enterprises. The 
Government of Japan thinks the direct investment on Myanmar will promote 
the democratisation process in Myanmar to have various ties between 
international society. We think this will be applied on the venture 
businesses between Japanese private enterprises and the public sectors 
of Myanmar. 


ICFTU: Labor groups opposed to the entry in Belgium of Burmese Junta 

ICFTU and FGTB opposed to the entry in Belgium of Burmese Junta official 

Brussels May 09 2001 (ICFTU OnLine): The International Confederation of 
Free Trade Unions has learn from reliable sources that a member of the 
Burmese junta, U Soe Tha, Minister of National Planning and Economic 
Development, has applied to German consular authorities for a Schengen 
visa (Belgium does not have an embassy in Rangoon). His intention is to 
attend the Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries 
scheduled to take place from May 14-20 in Brussels.

For the ICFTU and its Belgian affiliate, the FGTB, it is unacceptable 
that the Junta member, who is blacklisted on the European Union list 
against Burmese official, be given a visa to enter Belgium. 

For this reason, the FGTB addressed a letter to the Belgian Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, Louis Michel to call on him to use all the resources of 
the Schengen procedures available to him, to request the German 
authorities to refuse the Junta member's entry. Mindful of Belgium's 
access obligations as the host of a UN Conference, the ICFTU and FGTB 
insist that these obligations must not overrule the ethical principles 
included in the European Union Position of April 2000(1). The FGTB 
pointed out to the Minister that Burma could still send a delegation to 
the UN Conference that did not include blacklisted Junta officials. 

Moreover, the ICFTU, in its edition of May of its monthly magazine, 
"Trade Union World", provides details of the secret misinformation 
campaign operated by the Burmese junta to attempt to avoid pressures 
applied by the ILO, on its widespread and continuous use of forced 
labour. The copy of an SPDC memorandum, exclusively in the hands of the 
ICFTU, labels the ICFTU, along with several western countries, as 
"enemies" of the junta for their continuous pressure on Rangoon to make 
democratic changes and to end forced labour practices.

(1) Council Common Position Point 5
(b) amended 26 April 200

"in order to prevent the entry into, and transit through, the territory 
of the Member States by senior members of the State Peace and 
Development Council (SPDC), Burmese authorities in the tourism sector, 
senior members of the military, the Government or the security forces 
who formulate, implement or benefit from policies that impede 
Burma/Myanmar's transition to democracy, no visas for entry or transit 
shall be issued to any persons, whose names are listed in the Annex and 
their families. (the name of U Soe Tha appears)


Radio Pakistan: Chief executive reports to cabinet meeting on Burma, 
Vietnam visits 

May 9, 2001 4:39pm

The chief executive briefed the cabinet on his recent visit to Myanmar 
[Burma] and Vietnam. He said that he had explained the Kashmir issue to 
both the leaders of Myanmar and Vietnam. Now they understand the issue 
in its correct perspective. They believe that Kashmir problem needs to 
be resolved through dialogue between India and Pakistan. The chief 
executive said understanding of Myanmar and Vietnam on Afghan issue is 
now realistic as a result of our meetings. Describing the visit 
extremely successful, the chief executive directed the Ministry of 
Commerce to identify areas of bilateral trade to enhance the economic 
cooperation with both the countries.  

Source: Radio Pakistan, Islamabad, in English 1600 gmt 9 May 01 


Mizzima: Burmese hunger-strikers face imminent arrest 

May 10

The 24 Burmese asylum-seekers who have been staging a hunger strike for 
the third consecutive day today face the imminent arrest of the local 
police as no agreement has reached yet between the UNHCR office and the 

The UNHCR office in New Delhi has informed the protestors that it will 
start interviewing some cases from Monday onwards and the results will 
be out as soon as possible. However, UNHCR has not given any assurance 
to the protestors that all of them will get the refugee status.  

Speaking to Mizzima News Group, one of the hunger strikers said that 
they would continue the strike until all of them are granted refugee 
status and monthly subsistence allowance by the UNHCR.  

The Burmese started their ôindefiniteö hunger strike on May 8, claiming 
that UNHCR has neglected their plight for protection. They said that 
they left Burma due to the repression of the military government in 

Meanwhile, the local police officials (Lodhi Police) have warned the 
protestors that they will have to take necessary action if the 
protestors do not call off their hunger strike by this evening.  

Entering into the third day of the hunger strike, the health of the 
Burmese protestors, which include a six-month old baby have started 
deteriorating. A Raja Sabha (Upper House) Member of Parliament and a 
senior journalist Mr. Kuldip Nayar visited the place and met the Burmese 
asylum-seekers this afternoon.  


Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): Thai Troops Shells Ethnic Militia 
Position On The Border 

May 10 2001

The Myanmar border security forces recaptured Pachee monitoring post on 
3rd  of May which was overrun on 22nd April by the Shan United 
Revolutionary Army  (SURA) drug bandits with the support and assistance 
of the army of a  neighbouring country. 

Pachee monitoring post was established since 1988 when the Myanmar 
border  security forces managed to take the position from the Wa 
National Army (WNA)  in a military operation in its fight against drug 
bandits. Since then, the  WNA has shifted its camps and these camps are 
being given sanctuary inside  Thailand along the common border with 
Myanmar. This is also an ethnic Wa  group being together with Ywet Sit?s 
(SURA), Bo MyaÆs-Kayin National Union  (KNU) and Byar Yare?s breakaway 
faction of Kayinni National Progressive Party  which had in 1995 come to 
a peace agreement with the Myanmar Government.  Regretfully, all these 
groups are now being given sanctuary and refuge inside  Thailand 
together with the remnants of the KMT which had also set up a number  of 
their own camps along the Thai side of the common border and have been  
heavily involved in drug activities: smuggling restricted goods, 
procurement  of innocent 

child-women and women for exploitation elsewhere and committing many 
other  criminal activities such as forcefully taking over of a foreign 
embassy, a  civilian hospital and jail-breaking as well in Thailand. 

Even though Thailand is being unbelievably quick and active in defending 
 these groups as freedom fighters cum drug busters but the reality lies 
in how  and where these groups get funds to support their activities 
including  procurement of arms to fight the Myanmar Government and 
terrorize the local  people residing in those areas. It is quite obvious 
that they are not  involved in any legal businesses leaving them 
resorting only to survive on  the illegal and criminal activities along 
the common border. Some observers  claim that this can be possible only 
if the Thai authorities do not support  and fund these criminal 
organizations to pursue its own hidden agenda.  
During the fight to retake Pachee monitoring unit from SURA late last 
month,  this strategic hillock which the Thai side is now claiming to be 
theirs, was  an outpost from which the SURA was providing shelling 
against those who were  trying to recapture Pachee. After Pachee fell to 
the Myanmar border and  security units, the SURA from this hillock 
together with those from Pachee  simultaneously left their outpost and 
retreated into the Thai territory.  Since then, the Myanmar authorities 
have re-established Pachee monitoring  unit and are once again taking 
the responsibility of monitoring and  preventing armed bandits and drug 
traffickers from carrying out nefarious  acts while some local ethnic 
militias have also taken this strategic hillock  to prevent unscrupulous 
elements from carrying out illegal activities and  terrorizing the 
locals in that area. 

It is indeed difficult to understand why the Thai authorities are 
shelling  this hillock and claiming that it is suddenly theirs. 
According to their own  statement and much publicized policy, the Thai 
authorities have clearly  stated that it is their policy not to allow 
any armed groups to exploit  Thailand by utilizing its territory to 
terrorize and attack any neighboring  country. Their claim on this 
hillock seems to contradict their own stated  policy and the Myanmar 
authorities are quite confused. It is our hope that  the Thai 
authorities avoid the "knee-jerk" policy and cooperate in resolving  any 
outstanding issue through quiet diplomacy and also stop providing 
support  and assistance to criminal organizations, utterly being the 
main cause for  all the unnecessary and unhappy conditions that both 
nations are unavoidably  encountering at present. 


The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): The wicked scheme   

Thursday, 10 May, 2001 

Uncle Phyo: So early  

Po Khwa. What do you want to know? Come, take your seat.   
Po Khwa: How are you Uncle Phyo? Nothing very new. I have my friends 
here as  they want to accompany me. Many persons including my friends 
are interested  in the incident at Myanmar-Thai border. Everybody at the 
cafs is talking  about this matter.  

Phyo: What do you want to know? Come, let's enjoy green tea while we 
Khwa: My friends are asking me. In the recent Pachee incident, they are 
the  intruders, and yet they are making accusation against us concerning 
the drug  problem. They must be hypocritical.  

Phyo: Yes, it is the case of the thief shouting " Stop thief!" During 
the  attack on the outpost in our territory, Ywet Sit's opium smuggling 
group was  placed in the forefront for show and followed by Thai troops 
from the rear;  searchlights were projected from the Thai military base 
and heavy weapons and  small arms supporting fire was launched from the 
base in the other country.  The Pachee outpost was seized by the 
Tatmadaw from opium smuggling insurgents  during the Moe Hein military 
operation in about 1988 to control and stop the  flow of drugs into 
Myanmar. So, it is clear why they launched a desperate  attack to 
reoccupy the outpost. They want to relocate the opium trafficking  
insurgents, who are being raised and supported by them, at the outpost.  
Khwa: Oh! Uncle Phyo, the outpost is in our territory. They shouldn't 
have  done like this.  

Phyo: What I mean is their way of doing things. The Ywet Sit group which 
 arrived at the outpost bringing along with them narcotic drugs to the 
camp  and then made allegations. Such slanderous acts are not new.   
Khwa: Yes, their attitude towards Myanmar is not sincere.  
 Phyo: Besides, their TV channels and dailies reported on the Pachee 
incident  variously. 

 Khwa: Because its not their domestic affair. 

 Phyo: They placed their adopted sons in the forefront. Recently, a Thai 
 military camp fired with heavy weapons and small arms on our BP-1 camp 
all  day long. 

 Khwa: Concerning the Pachee outpost, didn't we launch a retaliatory 
attack?  It's in our territory. 

 Phyo: But they did. Our Tatmadaw never intrudes upon or insults any 
country.  And it never accepts any intrusions. It always counters all 
aggressions and  it is attacking the intruders.  

Khwa: Not long ago, accusations were made as if Wa people were engaging 
in  opium business in Mongyun region.  

Phyo: That's an example. Wa ethnic people are conducting farming in 
Mongyun  region. Wa people have been living in the region since many 
many years ago. I  do not want to say whether Wa people were engaged in 
opium business or not in  the past. But now, the Wa people are gaining 
success in implementing regional  development and opium eradication 
tasks with correct objectives under the  leadership of the government. 
They are making loud accusations as they are  jealous of seeing the Wa 
people's success. 

 Khwa: Are the Thai army troops still firing at our camps?   
Phyo: Yes, they are firing with heavy weapons on BP-1 camp and on the  
Tatmadaw columns trying to recapture the Pachee outpost. 
Besides, about 60 men of Ywet Sit group and 200 Thai army troops made a 
night  attack on BP-1 camp on 25 April.  

Khwa: Did the camp fall? 

 Phyo: No. There were only 20 to 30 Myanmar soldiers at the camp. The  
attacking force was made up of over 200 men, which was ten times greater 
than  our manpower. Over 500 heavy weapons shells were fired at the camp 
from the  Thai side. There were no deaths or injuries on our side. The 
Tatmadaw showed  its military calibre in the battle. The Pachee outpost 
fell as they stabbed  from the back while showing their cordiality in 
the front; in reality, they  took advantage of Myanmar's amity and trust 
in attacking the outpost. They  could not easily get into our territory 
if they have to face Myanmar soldiers  in an equal situation.  

Khwa: What are our plans for the Pachee outpost?  

Phyo: As our territory is intruded, we are launching attacks and heavy  
weapons covering fire to recapture the outpost. As the area is so close 
to  the border, we have to take great care to make sure that not any of 
our heavy  weapons or small arms rounds landed inside other country's 
territory. They  said they had to fire about 20 rounds as warning shots 
on our territory as  our shells had landed inside their territory. In 
reality, the number of  rounds fired by them were many.  

Khwa: They intruded into our territory and fired heavy weapons whenever  
rounds landed in their territory. They have gone too far.   
Phyo: There is a plot. They are firing with heavy weapons and launching  
attacks on Myanmar side to intentionally provoke us; they are also 
floating  fabrications in attacking our nation; and when our nation 
cannot tolerate any  more and strike back, they will say that an 
internal problem has led to  regional instability and that the crisis is 
concerned with narcotic drugs.  They are trying to create the problem in 
accord with the wish of their  masters. 

 Khwa: Anyhow, they should respect each other's sovereignty.   
Phyo: Your knowledge is improving  

Po Khwa. Concerning the narcotic drugs, our nation has laid down and is  
implementing the 15-year drug elimination project. But they are ignoring 
our  drug seizures and destructions. From my point of view, these are 
the plots of  the countries which want to manipulate Myanmar by applying 
neo-colonialism.  They are making the problem by accusing us of being 
engaged in drug business.  

 Khwa: The other day, my friend who came from Tachilek told me that the 
Thais  had halted the machines at Maesai. These machinese were imported 
by national  people for a power station to be installed in Tachilek 

Phyo: As it is a coal-burn power station, there were persons in the 
other  country who tried to block the project and others who staged 
demonstrations  against it. At last, the machines were transported back 
to Bangkok. They do  not wish to see Myanmar developed. Because, if we 
become developed, they will  not get any raw materials and lose their 
export market. They are afraid of  losing raw materials and their export 

Khwa: They are too bad and are opposited to the good-neighbourly 
Phyo: Not only that. I have read on the Internet that an American team 
would  come to Thailand to give special anti-drug training; that a unit 
was formed  in northern Thailand last year; that about 30 instructors of 
the American  team were going to conduct the training; and that two 
helicopters were bought  for anti-drug purposes at the border.  

Khwa: It seems that they are finding fault to give it as an excuse to 
launch  perpetrations against Myanmar. 

 Phyo: In the past they did such plots against Laos and Cambodia. But  
beginning from early 2001, their attitude towards Myanmar has changed. 
They  have started to hatch plots to find faults and make insults on 
Myanmar. But I  would like to say that it is the duty of the entire 
national people to  maintain our reputation as good citizens and our 
good-neighbourly practices.  You too should not forget the duty and 
should give suggestions to your  friends and young men of your age to 
view the Thai-Myanmar border problem  with national outlook and should 
discharge this duty. 

 Author :Po Khwa. 


Freedom News (Shan State Army):  Interview Confirms Junta's Involvement 
In Narcotics Trade & Committing Extrajudicial Killings 

10 May 2001

Interview With A Burmese Junta's Soldier
Confirmed Junta's Involvement In Narcotics Trade & Committing 
Extrajudicial Killings 

An interview with a Burmese soldier from 385th Infantry Battalion who 
had joined the SSA. 

Q.      May I know your name and your biography?
A.      My name is Cho Lwin Oo, age 32, a Buddhist Burmese from the 
delta region, in the town of Pa Thein Kone, district of Bassein , 
Irrawaddy (Ayeyawadi) division. My parents are U Kyaw and Daw Kyi Kyi 
Win, and I am the elder of their two children. I left my younger sister 
with my parents at Pa Thein Kone. As we are poor, I only managed to 
complete primary school (4th standard). 

Q.      And what about your rank, post and your battalion? 
A.      I am an ordinary soldier and my private number is 177370. My 
assigned battalion is 385th infantry battalion, based at Mo Ngyin (Mong 
Yang) in the Kachin state. When I was posted there, the battalion was 
160 strong in men including officers. Sergeant Maung Maung was my 
platoon leader and Lieutenant Win Naing was my company leader. I had no 
chance to learn the name of the battalion commander until I left the 

Q.      Where and when did you contact SSA?
A.      In early 2001, I was sent to a front line, in central Shan 
Sstate that covers Laikha, Murng Kerng, Pang Long and Kho Lam area. On 
5th March 2001, when we were bivouacking near the camp of 515th infantry 
battalion at Laikha, I deserted and on 11th March 2001 entered Wan Zing 
tract. Later I managed to make contact and surrendered my arms to the 
SSA's 758th Brigade. 

Q.      Why do you join the Burmese Army and again desert it? 
A.      Among the soldiers of the Burmese Army, 75 percent have been 
forced as conscripts with less than 25 percent join on their own. I came 
to know about this during my experience in the army. In about mid 2000, 
I left home and went to Tavoy to find a job, where I got one in a 
fishing boat. Near the end of August, our boat was hit by a storm and we 
came to a port to repair. At Tavoy port, I was captured by the Burmese 
soldiers as a porter. After I was locked up in their camp for one night, 
I was sent to the Tavoy recruiting camp, with 16 other forced 
conscripts. Some are jobless wanderers. Some poor peasants are promised 
with good opportunity to join the army. 

Q.      >From there did they send you directly to the boot camp? 
A.      No, first we have to past the medical check up. The result came 
out on 18th September 2000, with all of us passed. And on 19th September 
we were enrolled into the army. From there we were sent to the No. 8 
Military Training School (boot camp) at Shwe Bo, Sagaing division. 

Q.      Can you describe the life in the boot camp?
A.      It's a strange and unexpected experience in my life. Although it 
is a four and half month long course, we were made to break stones at 
Ngar Twin Gyi village, Kant Balu township for one month. Each team 
consists of 7-8 recruits for a quota of kyins per day (1 kyin = 100 
cubic feet). Except 2 meals a day we had no other allowance. Breaking 
stones in the quarry was very dangerous, there were accidents every day, 
from minor injury to severe cases, such as broken limbs and fratured 
skulls. If the victims became invalid, they are dismissed from the 
Burmese Army and sent home. Therefore the actually training was only 
three and a half month. 

Q.      And after that training?
A.      After the training, we are sent to our assigned battalion. 10 
men in our batch, including myself are sent to the 385th infantry 
battalion, based at Nam Mar, Mo Ngyin district, Kachin state. 

Q.      Was there a definite term to serve the Burmese Army? A.      
Before we were trained in the boot camp, we had to sign for 10 years 
service, but by the end of the training the term became 30 years. 

Q.      Are there any under aged children in the training school or in 
the army?
A.      Not only in the training school, even in the army units, nearly 
30 percent of the recruits are between age of 13 to 17. Any body who can 
handle a rifle is considered good enough to be recognized as a soldier. 
Age-limit is only written in the penal code. 

Q.      Was there a special assignment for you in your battalion? 
A.      At my base, my company leader assigned me to look after the 
battalion's poppy fields. His reason was that I have had some experience 
as a farmer in my home town. 

Q.      What do you mean, with the battalion's poppy fields? 
A.      Battalion's poppy fields means the opium poppy fields, which is 
grown by members of the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army). According to the order 
of the Northeastern Command, every battalion under this command must 
grow opium, at least 50 acres per battalion. Preparing the soi and 
planting seeds are done by forced labour, who are local people. Once it 
is grown, members and families of the battalion take care of the poppies 
until harvest time. The products of the battalions under the 
Northeastern Command are gathered and sent to the markets in northern 
Shan State. 

Q.      Are you saying that SPDC is now directly involved in illegal 
A.      Sure, every soldiers and local people in the areas are the 
eye-witnesses of their involvement. Once, I was assigned to guard a 
convoy bound for the Chinese border. There were six 4-wheels Toyota 
trucks and 7 Mitsubishi Pajaro jeeps in the convoy carrying what my 
superior said "important goods" that were   "narcotic drugs and jade". 
The officers receive in millions of kyats from each trip, but not a 
penny for the common soldiers except kind meals served by the traders 
along the journey. That was one of my first taste of discrimination in 
the Burmese Army. 

Q.      Is there any drug sold or used by the men in your battalion? 
A.      When I was in the base, I did not see any soldier or NCOs using 
or selling drugs. But for the officers, there were always drugs in every 
ceremony or feasts after they had succeeded escorting a convoy. I have 
seen some junior officers injecting heroin into their veins. 

Q.      What is the situation of discrimination in the Army? 
A.      We are totally discriminated from the officers. All ordinary 
soldiers are taught only to obey orders, and to be satisfied with what 
you are given. You must not complain about your surroundings. The pay 
4,500 kyats is just enough for a uniform and after that, there is 
nothing left for the whole month. So, we have to rely on home-shops, 
sold by the wives of the officers. By the end of the month, your pay is 
taken away by those debtors before it reaches your hands. It's like the 
old Burmese saying, "Even though it is meant to be given but one has 
never  received it; Even if being fed, it is still not being 
sufficiently done". That has been my life in the Burmese Army. Besides, 
you have to work for the welfare and personal profits of the superiors. 
Such dissatisfaction in the Army causes soldiers to abuse and rob the 
defenseless people, once they reached the free-firing front lines. 

Q.      Have you ever been ordered to abuse the people as you like? Are 
there such orders for other soldiers? 
A.      No, there are no such orders from my superiors. But they have 
shown they way in oral and practice. For example, on reaching a village, 
they show how to capture and have a victim, tortured and interrogated. 
You can accuse the victim as you like and confiscate all his properties 
before he is released or detained or executed. During these times, the 
superiors turn blind-eye,if nothing was happening. In one incidence, I 
ran into trouble with my column leader. It happened in February 2001, 
when our column was patrolling around the town of Pang Long, we found a 
family tethering their mules on the plain not far from Pang Long. This 
family consistsof an elderly couple and their 10 year old daughter (or 
probably grand daughter), who could not answer any of our question, 
because they could not speak Burmese. These victims were bound and 
dragged along. On reaching a village, the village headman beg for their 
pardon to release them on bail. But the column leader refused to release 
them. In that night, my company leader called me and said, a grave had 
been dug and ordered me to kill these poor people. When I was 
accompanying these people to their grave, a strang feeling filled my 
mind, looking these old couple and the poor girl, they remind me of my 
family in the delta region. I found that I could not kill them in cold 
blood. So, I decided to release them on my own account. As there was no 
much time, I could only manage to untied the old man and let them run 
through the darkness. After they had disappeared in the darkness, I 
fired a few rounds into the empty grave with my rifle and start to bury 
with a shovel. Before I could finish my company found out what I had 
done. He scolded and rebuked that he would kill me for not obeying the 
order of the superiors. Since then our relationship became sour, 
suspicion grows and we could not face each other. I believed, one day I 
could be killed in action by bullets of our own men. This was one of my 
cause for desertion.

Q.      Would you tell us some of your battles?
A.      I was in the Burmese Army only for five months, during this time 
I had not fought a battle. As far as I know all these men of the Burmese 
Army in the free-firing front line are spending most of their times by 
bullying and looting the rural people. 

Q.      Is there discrimination between Burmese and non-Burmese groups 
in the Burmese Army? What is your opinion on this? A.      As an 
ordinary Burmese I believe and accept that all non-Burmese people are 
honest and equal with the Burmese. But in the Burmese Army, I have 
learned well that non-Burmese people are regarded as inferior races. I 
have seen some Arakans, Karens, Kachins and Chins in the Burmese Army, 
but not a Shan. They may work hard but promotion and reward is not for 
them. In the frontline we frequently receive orders saying that "a Shan 
rebel or any person suspected of being a sympathizer must not be left 
alive". These discriminations only create hatred among the races. It's 
only the Burmese military junta themselves who are going against their 
own stated vow of "not to allow the Union to disintegrate". 

Q.      Why do you desert the Burmese Army and on arrival in the SSA how 
do you feel? 
A.      In truth, I deserte the Burmese Army, because I could not stand 
the discrimination in the army and on other hand I do not wish to be a 
cold blooded murderer or robber against innocent defenseless people. I 
wish to be free from these tragedies, so I just left my post and 
wandered deep to the jungle. When I reached Wan Zing tract, I was 
exhausted due to lack of food and sleep. With fear in my heart, I had 
managed to enter a small house and surrender my arms to the owner, whom 
we could not understand each other due to language barrier. But he fed 
me well with the meagre food he had and let me rest for the night. The 
next day some men from SSA came to pick up me. The warm welcome of the 
men and officers of the SSA made me feel the difference with the Burmese 
Army. I knew at once SSA is not a bunch of non disciplined bandits. They 
are fighting for their just rights representing their people. 

Q.      Have you any idea to call along some of your comrades, when you 
A.      You have no one to trust in the Burmese Army, because nobody 
knows what is really in the mind of your close companion. Careless talks 
could cause you trouble. But I dare say, all common soldiers share the 
same dissatisfaction due to this discrimination and every body is 
looking for a way out. 

Q.      What kind of a weapon did you carry at the time of desertion? 
A.      When I deserted, I brought with me what I was carrying, one MA1 
rifle, 130 rounds of ammunition and 3 magazines. 

Q.      What do you wish to say to your comrades those are left behind? 
A.      Please stop your gang lying to the people. Don't lie any more 
even with the order from your superiors. May you be blessed with a way 

Q.      What is your future plan?
A.      In this time I need not to think twice. If I go back home, I may 
be killed or spend the rest of my life in jail. I have devoted my life 
to SSA and will do my best with my duty. 

Q.      Have you any hope of reunion with your family?
A.      I hope, one day, if I am still alive I will join them. The lord 
looks after the righteous one. 

Q.      Can you tell me the best and the worst thing SPDC has done? A.   
   Don't ask for the best, they have done nothing good. The worst is 
their autocracies and discrimination committed against  the non-Burmese 
people. Narcotic drugs have become a large source of income for all 
their units in the Burmese Army. 

Q.      And your opinion on SSA?
A.      Tough I have not learnt  about Shan history,  I have found that 
SSA is fighting to protect their people. The autocracies and 
discrimination, committed by the Burmese Army alone is enough for Shans 
to take up arms to protect their people. With a well recorded history, 
the necessity of a well disciplined Shan Army is more than enough. I 
hope Shan people will win the war against the evils and regain their 

Q.      Do you wish to say anything more? comment?
A.    As long as discrimination is prevalent in the Burmese Army, there 
will be no family spirit, in which we could live together in peace and 
trust. Every Burmese loves his  own nation, the same is with non-Burmese 
people. What I hate and a am concerned most is the autocracy and 
discrimination of the SPDC, which will cause inter-races hatred. Even 
among our own Burmese there is such discrimination, it is many times 
worse with non-Burmese people. 
To all my comrades, we are all good Buddhist. We need not only care for 
ourselves, we need to share the difficulty of others. Being born as a 
human being, don't let your good deeds get lost by your inhuman deeds, 
by the orders of the tyrants. There is a world with love and shining 
hope, I pray for for you all that you find an escape from the world of 
blood and tears. 


Xinhua: Myanmar to Turn Northern Division into Rice Bowl

YANGON, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar is striving to turn the country's 
northern Sagaing division into another rice bowl next to the Southern 
Ayeyawaddy division by implementing more river pumped- water projects. 
According to the Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, river 
pumped-water projects are now irrigating 392,850 hectares of crops at 
present. At the time when all the projects in the division are 
completed, they will irrigate up to 469,800 hectares of the crops. 
Meanwhile, sown area in the division at present is 573,885 hectares, up 
from 506,250 hectares in the past. According to official statistics, 
irrigated area of Myanmar covers nearly 2 million hectares, accounting 
for 21 percent of its cultivated land. The country's cultivable land 
stretches 18.22 million hectares, of which 9.31 million hectares have 
been utilized with 8.91 million hectares remaining to be reclaimed. The 
statistics also show that Myanmar exported a total of 141, 600 tons of 
rice in 2000, up 122 percent from 1999. The country's agriculture shares 
37 percent of its gross domestic product and 25 percent of the export 
value. To promote agricultural development, the Myanmar government has 
exempted the import duties of agricultural implements including 
fertilizer, pesticide, improved variety and machinery.


Free Burma Action Committee: Federal Police attack Burmese protest in 
Canberra, linked to Burma visit 

May 10, 2001

Federal Police last Friday, May 4, attacked a peaceful protest by 80 
Burmese people and supporters outside the Burmese Military Embassy in 
Yarralumla, on the pretext that the burning of the flag of the military 
dictatorship was a threat to order.
At the same time, the AFP Director General, Michael Keelty and a police 
delegation were in Rangoon (Yangon), where they visited the Criminal 
Investigation Department and attended the opening of an Australian 
Police Force Public Relations Office at the Australian Embassy. Keelty's 
group flew home on May 5.
"The AFP became more aggressive to our protest to facilitate their 
cooperation with the Burmese police and military regime," said Maung 
Maung Than of the Free Burma Action Committee, who was among those 
kicked and beaten by the police in Canberra.
"We call for a parliamentary inquiry into the attack by the AFP against 
our protest on May 4, and for a parliamentary review of the AFP program 
in Burma," said Maung Maung Than. "We appreciate the support of Wayne 
Barry, Labor Leader in the ACT Legislative Assembly, and Jeremy Pyner of 
the ACT Trades & Labor Council for an inquiry, and a formal police 
apology to the Burmese community.
"The Australian government is making the same mistake in Burma that it 
made in Indonesia and East Timor, by placing trust in a brutal military 
dictatorship," said Maung Maung Than. "Instead of cooperating with and 
legitimising these generals who have imposed forced labour on two 
million Burmese people, the Australian government should join the global 
movement to fully isolate and discredit the military dictatorship in 


PD Burma: Burma Calendar

May 10, 2001
 April 28-29th : Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai will visit 
Burma to discuss bilateral issues including the drugs crisis ╖ 
April 30th : Informal meeting of ASEAN ministers, Rangoon 
 May 14th : Election in the Philippines 

 May 13-20th : UN LDC III, UN conference on the LDC-countries, Brussels 

 May 22th : Shareholder meeting for Total, Paris 
 May 27th : 11th Anniversary of the 1990 elected 

 May : ARF Senior Official Meeting, Hanoi 

May 31th û June 1st :International Conference on Burma After The 
Military Dictatorship, Berlin. 

 June : Meeting in the Governing Body of the ILO 

 June : Meeting of the Socialist International Council, Lisbon 

 June 8-10th : Burma Desk during the Italian Forum for Responsible 
Tourism, Venice û Italy 
 More info., contact r.brusadin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

 June 19th : Aung San Suu Kyi birthday party and Burmese Women's Day 

July : Belgium takes over EU Presidency 

 July : 8th RFA Ministerial Meeting, Hanoi 

 July : 34th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post-Ministerial Conference 

 July : ASEAN Summit 

Aug. 31st- Sep.7th : World Conference against Racism and Racial 
Discrimination, Xenophobia and related 
 intolerance, South Africa 

 December 1st : Worlds Aids Day 

 December 10th : 10th Year Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize for Aung 
San Suu Kyi 
 February 2002 : The fourth Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka and 
Thailand-Economic Cooperation (BIMST- 
 EC) meeting, Colombo 


Free Burma Coalition: Burma Action Conference 2001

Where: American University

Who to contact:
Free Burma Coalition
Tel:	202-547-5985
Fax:	202-544-6118

Or register online at www.freeburmacoalition.org

Conference Convenor: Pam Bertelson, AU-FBC

Come rock and plan for a free Burma! Join hundreds of students, 
activists,  academics, and friends of Burma's democracy movement from 
around the world  for the three day Burma Action Conference and concert 
in Washington, DC.  The conference will take place at American 
University from September  21st-23rd, 2001.

We know that if you are interested in Burma, you are not the proverbial  
historian who looks on as the train of history passes by! Burma presents 
 one of the most important and intriguing test cases to those who care 
not  only about individual liberties, indigenous communities, and 
religious  persecutions, as well as environmental concerns and labor and 
women's  rights--in short, social and economic justice for all.


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