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Slorc boasts success in helping min
Subject: Slorc boasts success in helping minorities
Bangkok Post July 10th
Slorc boasts success in helping minorities
Ethnic leaders lead civilised lives after ceasefire: Minister
A Burmese minister denied yesterday that peace efforts with minority
groups had failed, claiming some ethnic leaders were now enjoying
"civilised" lives after ceasefire deals reached a few years ago.
Lieutenant-General Maung Thint, Minister for Progress of Border Areas
and National Races and Development Affairs, said the government had been
"truly successful" in developing remote areas, since it initiated
ceasefire agreements in the late-1980s.
Development included building roads, dams, power plants and industrial
factories, creating jobs for doctors and nurses in their hometowns and
increasing rice production, Lt-Gen Maung Thint said.
He said the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) had
also granted privileges to ethnic leaders and their associates to allow
them to go into business to make a living after putting down their
He did not give details, but said no groups were dissatisfied with the
"Now these people can do anything they want ... They can even send their
children to study in Bangkok, Singapore and the United States," he said.
The visiting Burmese minister believed that the government's effort to
improve the lives of people living in remote areas would gradually
reduce the up to 800,000 Burmese and non-Burmese who illegally sought
jobs in Thailand.
Lt-Gen Maung Thint, in Bangkok to attend a ministerial meeting on drug
cooperation in the Mekong region, was commenting on allegations by
several ethnic groups that Slorc had failed to deliver on promises to
help minority groups. They said the junta continued to violate some
points of the agreement by using forced labour and relocations.
A meeting of disgruntled Burmese ethnic minorities held in mid-January
included representatives from the United Wa State Party, New Mon State
Party, Kachin Independent Organisation and Kayan New Land Party.
Ethnic groups at the meeting agreed to collectively boycott any Slorc
proposal in the constitution drafting convention launched by Slorc in
1993. The so-called national convention has not been held since it was
interrupted last year.
Lt-Gen Maung Thint said the complaints came from "some 10 to 15 people
who rejected ceasefire deals".
He said the military government had reached ceasefire deals with 17
ethnic groups. Drug warlord Khun Sa, of Shan State's Mong Tai Army, was
the most recent to surrender to the Slorc, in January last year.
Despite international calls and pressure, the Burmese government does
not communicate with the Karen National Union (KNU), led by Bo Mya, or
with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Lt-Gen Maung Thint said he did not believe Bo Mya would agree to develop
Burma jointly with Slorc because he said the KNU and Mrs Suu Kyi
received financial aid sponsored by the United State's Central
Intelligence Agency, which aimed to overthrow the current government.
The American government's interference in Burma's affairs arose because
Slorc refused to follow its orders, he said.
"THERE WILL BE NO REAL DEMOCRACY IF WE CAN'T GURANTEE THE RIGHTS OF THE
MINORITY ETHNIC PEOPLE. ONLY UNDERSTANDING THEIR SUFFERING AND HELPING
THEM TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHTS WILL ASSIST PREVENTING FROM THE
DISINTEGRATION AND THE SESESSION." "WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THEIR
STRENGTH, WE CAN'T TOPPLE THE SLORC AND BURMA WILL NEVER BE IN PEACE."
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