[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
BurmaNet News: March 11, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: March 11, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 07:56:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
March 11, 2001 Issue # 1752
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Bangkok Post: Dam head taken, three dead in raid
*Bangkok Post: Burma mobilises for attack on Shan base
*Reuters: Myanmar drug production set to explode, Thais say
*The Nation: Three major gangs, 87 production plants
*The Nation: Deadly river of pills fed by five main tributaries
*Ontarion (Canada): Campaigning for Freedom
*AFP: Myanmar bans energy drinks, MSG made in Thailand
*Xinhua: Myanmar to Hold 38th Annual Gems Emporium
*Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): ?unsubstantiated accusations?
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Bangkok Post: Dam head taken, three dead in raid
Karen rebels boast of March 5 conquest
March 11, 2001
A dam construction director was abducted and three Burmese soldiers
killed in a raid by Karen National Union rebels on a construction site
in Mon state on March 5, a KNU officer said yesterday.
Mahn Sharlaphan, general-secretary of the KNU, said the foray was
carried out by soldiers from the KNU's 6th Division led by Capt Hte Nay,
Capt Sa Klae and Capt Mahn Htun.
The attack was on a military force protecting the dam construction site,
50km south of Moulmein, the capital of Mon state.
The assault was launched shortly after midnight. Burmese troops withdrew
from the site after a 30-minute exchange of fire, leaving behind three
dead soldiers, one of them a captain.
The KNU soldiers set fire to a warehouse, destroying 120 drums of fuel
and lubricants for heavy machines, before fleeing. They took with them
Tint Lwin, the dam construction director.
Pado Mahn Sharlaphan said the KNU soldiers were heading for a KNU
stronghold opposite Tak province where the construction director would
The officer said the raid was intended to show Rangoon the KNU is able
to provide protection for people living along the border and also repel
invaders in areas under its control.
However, he said the KNU still adheres to the policy of holding
ceasefire talks with Rangoon.
Rangoon and the KNU reached a ceasefire agreement in 1992, but they
failed in subsequent talks to find ways of peaceful co-existence and
Bangkok Post: Burma mobilises for attack on Shan base
March 11, 2001
Burma has prepared more troops to areas opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Fah
Luang district for a new attack on the Shan State Army, a Thai military
intelligence source said yesterday.
The fresh reinforcements were believed to be from the United Wa State
Army, who will be backed up by 3,000 Burmese soldiers.
The SSA was preparing for battle by reinforcing its forces and
evacuating civilians, said the source, who expects a new round of
clashes in the next few days at the SSA base at Doi Kor Kham, opposite
Ban Therd Thai.
Boonchob Suthamasanwong, a Mae Fah Luang assistant district chief, said
authorities and local leaders were ready to move people to Ban Therd
Thai from nine border villages located along the path of the shelling.
More Thai troops were deployed in the border district yesterday.
Reuters: Myanmar drug production set to explode, Thais say
By Trirath Puttachanyawong
CHIANG RAI, Thailand, March 11 (Reuters) - The tide of methamphetamines
flowing into Thailand is set to increase by 40 percent this year as
production in Myanmar is stepped up, the Thai army said on Sunday.
``We estimate that this year's production will increase to 700 million
pills from 500 million last year,'' Thai Army Chief of Staff General
Boonrawd Somtas, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on
Thailand's drug problem.
Boonrawd said drug production was expected to grow in Myanmar in order
to sustain a larger population in drug-producing areas near the border
with Thailand. The Myanmar government and its Wa ethnic minority
militia allies have undertaken the large-scale relocation of Wa people
from areas near the border with China, south to areas near the Thai
border. ``The Wa aim to complete the relocation of 200,000 people to
the Thai-Burmese border area this year,'' he said. ``This will result in
an increase of drug production.'' He said since 1999, some 50,000
ethnic Wa had been moved, and methamphetamine production had risen by
Thai army sources say the relocation of Wa people is aimed at boosting
the strength of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an ethnic Wa militia
group which controls most of Myanmar's drug production and is allied
with the Myanmar army. The Myanmar army and the UWSA are a battling
separatist Shan guerrillas in northeastern Myanmar's Shan State.
Boonrawd said Thai authorities were having only limited success in
intercepting drug consignments entering Thailand across its porous
borders with Myanmar and Laos. ``At least 85 percent of this
production gets through to addicts - about 2 million throughout the
country,'' he said. The street value of methamphetamines - stimulants
which affect the central nervous system - is around 50 baht ($1.14) a
STUNNED PRIME MINISTER
Newly elected Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters he
was stunned by photographs shown at the conference of a prosperous and
growing drug-producing town in Myanmar. He said Thailand wanted
``sincere'' discussions with Myanmar on the drug issue.
``We need a decisive response from Myanmar to help solve this problem,''
he said. Thaksin did not say when he or other ministers would meet
their Myanmar counterparts.
The conference, attended by Thai government, police and army officials,
focused on the flood of methamphetamines from the ``Golden Triangle'' -
the region where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet. The
Golden Triangle has long been notorious as one of the world's main
opium-growing regions -- heroin is refined from opium -- but the drug
gangs in recent years have been diversifying into methamphetamine
production. In recent weeks fighting between the Myanmar army and its
UWSA allies, and ethnic Shan rebels has simmered along the Thai-Myanmar
border, with skirmishes occasionally spilling over onto Thai territory.
Thai army sources have said the fighting is linked to control of the
drugs trade. ($1 - 43.5 baht)
2001-03-11 Sun 03:51
The Nation: Three major gangs, 87 production plants
March 10, 2001
THERE are 87 methamphetamine production plants across the Thai-Burma
border, according a report by the Third Army Region's investigation
Most of the factories stretch from Panghsang on the Chinese border to
Mong Yawn, adjacent to Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district, a source quoting
the report said.
Three major trafficking rings were using 15 different routes to smuggle
the drug into Thailand, the source said. Each monthly assignment in
Chiang Mai alone earnt these gangs at least Bt1 billion, the source
The army apparently knew about the bustling drug trade in the area but
had done nothing because politicians and senior military officers
protected the gang leaders, the source said.
The information compiled by the investigative team will be presented at
the anti-drug trafficking meeting in Chiang Rai today and tomorrow.
The information of drug trafficking in the northern provinces compiled
by the Third Army Region will be presented to the meeting of government
agencies on anti-drug trafficking to be held in Chiang Rai today and
According to the report, just under a third, or 23 of the 87 factories,
mix the chemicals first for methamphetamine production. The chemicals
are then passed to the other plants to be moulded into tablet form.
Every tablet from these plants carries a "WY" trademark.
The plants churning out these tablets are about five kilometres away
from the Thai border.
The tablet-making plants have two machines each that produce seven
tablets per second and can be run for six consecutive hours. Each of the
64 plant has two tablets making machines, each of which and produces
seven tablets per second or 25,200 tablets per hour. Each machine can
work for six consecutive hours.
The plants where these tablets are churned out are located about five
kilometres away from the Thai border. They are scattered along the
border, from area opposite Mae Hong Son's Pang Mapha district to Chiang
Mai's Wiang Haeng, Chaiya Prakan, Fang, and Mae Ai districts to Chiang
Rai's Mae Sai district.
The tablets are first stored in Burmese towns along the border before
being carried into Thailand, the source said.
The tablets are stored in key Burmese towns along the border before they
are smuggled across the border via the 15 routes, the source quoted the
report as saying.
Third Army Region Commander Lt General Watthanchai Chaimuanwong said an
estimated 800 million to one billion tablets were produced last year,
and about 200 million tablets were in storage waiting to be smuggled
across the border.
Smugglers are given Bt1 to Bt3 for each tablet they carry across the
border, those providing protection earn between Bt1 to Bt2 per tablet
and those who allow the drug to be stored at their homes earn about Bt1
Because of to this "value-added system" the price of every
methamphetamine tablet is based on the how far it is carried. For
instance, each tablet transported three kilometres across the border
carries a wholesale price-tag of Bt15 to Bt18.
The price rises to about Bt20 to Bt25 when it reaches distributors in
the North. The drug is retailed at between Bt30 to Bt40 in the northern
provinces, while the street price in Bangkok ranges from Bt50 to Bt70
Money from drug trafficking was laundered at 13 banks in Chaiya Prakan,
Fang and Mae Ai districts, according to the Third Army Region report.
The 13 banks had a joint circulation of about Bt2.4 billion a month.
Some 1.4 billion comes from lychee and orange trade, but the origin of
the remaining Bt1 billion could not be attributed, the source said.
The Nation: Deadly river of pills fed by five main tributaries
March 10, 2001
THE production in Burma of methamphetamine pills, almost all destined
for Thailand, is divided among five armed groups, anti-narcotics
The United Wa State Army is believed to account for 60 per cent. The
20,000-strong outfit is headquartered in Panghsang near the northern
border with China.
Over the years, it has expanded its stronghold to the southern part of
Shan State, where it established its southern command centre in Mong
Yawn, opposite Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district.
Chinese-Kokang drug lords, based in northern Shan State near the Chinese
border, are believed to be responsible for 20 per cent.
Next comes a splinter group of former opium warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai
army which, together with a fourth group, the Chinese Haw, accounts for
10 to 15 per cent.
The fifth group, believed to be responsible for 5 per cent, is composed
of remnants of the Communist Party of Burma still active in Mong La and
This small but wealthy group has entered into "joint ventures" with the
Wa and the Chinese-Kokang to produce narcotics. The area under its
control is also used as a major transit point for precursor chemicals
used in drug production smuggled in from China.
Thai officials said the thriving drug-manufacturing business in Burma
was directly linked to the continuing conflict between the military
government and the armed ethnic groups fighting for autonomy.
Many of these rebel groups have turned to drug trafficking to finance
their military campaigns. The country is the second largest processor of
opium and its derivative, heroin.
In recent years, these groups have turned to mass-producing
methamphetamine tablets, millions of which flood Thailand every month
with no end in sight.
Ontarion (Canada): Campaigning for Freedom
By Katie Meyer
(Note: "Ontarion" is the name of the student-run newspaper at University
Min Ko Naing was a student, but now he is a political prisoner. For the
last twelve years he has spent his life in solitary confinement
suffering physical and mental torture because he wanted something that
you and I take for granted every day.
Students at the University of Guelph and other campuses and
organizations around the country are now involved in a nation-wide
campaign for Min Ko Naings' release.
"We want freedom for Min Ko Naing and we want to raise awareness for
Canadian students so they can put pressure on the Burmese military
government," says Julia MacIsaac a 4th year Biology student and a member
of the University of Guelph's OPIRG (Ontario Public Interest Research
Group) branch in the South East Asian Working Group. MacIsaac returned
from Thailand last Tuesday where she met and interviewed Ko Bo Kyi, a
colleague of Min Ko Naing during her five-week stay in Mae Sot on the
The campaign was initiated by Burmese and Canadian activists through the
International Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Development
(ICHRDD). Amnesty International and Canadian Friends of Burma are two of
the groups working with ICHRDD to raise awareness in Canada.
"Amnesty International has a year-long campaign against torture and at
the moment we're concentrating on Burma. The first case we're focusing
on is Min Ko Naing because he should have been released by now and he
has been severely tortured," says Brian John, the Myanmar National
Coordinator for Amnesty International's Canadian English-speaking
The national campaign reached the University of Guelph's OPIRG who will
be distributing post cards this week asking for Min Ko Naing's
unconditional release and that of "all other prisoners of conscience."
"We're giving 100 cards to each residence hall president. They will get
signatures and OPIRG will collect them," says MacIsaac. Off-campus
students will be able to sign cards and put them into boxes located on
the Ontarion racks in the UC.
"60,000 cards have been produced in Canada," says MacIsaac. "Then in
February (March) the signatures will be presented to Ambassador U Nyunt
Tin at the Burmese Embassy in Ottawa."
The campaign also involves a series of lectures and seminars, some of
which took place in Guelph last November.
The campaign is going on in Guelph, Charlottetown, Ottawa, at the
University of British Columbia, University of Western Ontario and the
University of Alberta.
Tin Maung Htoo was a Burmese student who spent three years in a Thailand
prison for his political beliefs. He has since come to Canada where he
is a student and activist at the University of Western Ontario. Now he
is the General Secretary of the Burmese Students' Democratic
Organization (BSDO) another active group in the campaign.
"I know the feeling of being a political prisoner. I am now free in
Canada but I cannot forget the past memories," says Tin Maung Htoo.
"Sometimes it frustrates me that the movement is taking so long-12 years
now, but it still doesn't push me out of the movement. We still know
that there are civilians and students risking their lives for
Min Ko Naing is one of a reported 2500 political prisoners in Burma, but
he has gained international attention over the last few years because of
his devotion to the Democratic movement in Burma.
"If he admits what he did was wrong then he would be released. He
doesn't believe in violence and what he did was right for the people.
That is why I admire him," says Tin Maung Htoo. "Some students fled to
the border or fed the military a line. Not Min Ko Naing. He stayed in
Rangoon and encouraged people to fight in the struggle for democracy."
On December 10th 1999 Min Ko Naing was awarded the John Humphrey's
Freedom Award by the ICHRDD which spearheaded the campaign for his
release and raised more awareness about the political situation in Burma
"Prison conditions in Burma are appalling...The few people who have seen
Min Ko Naing have reported that he is in poor condition. He was made to
stand in water for two weeks until he collapsed. They say he suffers
from nervous tremors and a gastric ulcer," says John.
Activists in Canada and Burma are asking that economic sanctions be
carried out on Burma. "If we invest in Burma, we give the military money
and strengthen their power. We have to cut off our relationship with the
military," says Tin Maung Htoo.
Former Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Llyod Axworthy
passed a resolution in 1997, imposing voluntary economic sanctions to be
placed on Burma until their human rights record improves. This means
that though the government discourages investment in Burma, Canadian
companies can still negotiate trade with the Burmese military.
"This measure has been completely ineffective in promoting democracy
because since that time import trade has more than doubled," says
Corinne Baumgarden, Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Burma.
"Child labour, forced labour and other human rights violations are
imposed on the people," says Tin Maung Htoo. "That's why we're asking
countries not to invest in Burma because that's not investing in the
daily lives of civilians in Burma. The profit for the military is not
going to the people, its going to strengthen the military power."
"The most effective way for student to effect change is to show
solidarity as students," says Baumgarden. "By signing the postcards,
holding talks, passing resolutions or asking their student councils to
pass resolutions making sure that the University isn't doing business
with companies that support the Burmese military."
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
AFP: Myanmar bans energy drinks, MSG made in Thailand
YANGON, March 11 (AFP) - Myanmar stepped up its war of words against
Thailand Sunday, announcing a ban on imports of energy drinks and goods
containing the flavour enhancer MSG, made in the kingdom.
"Thai-made monosodium glutamate and various kinds of energy drinks such
as Red Bull ... are being illegally imported from Thailand into Myanmar
... and distributed in the country by smugglers," the official media
said. "With a view to safeguarding public health, authorities have
banned the importing, trading and consuming of above-mentioned illegally
imported items," it said, adding that they were "injurious to health."
Thai-made MSG and energy drinks are popular products in Myanmar and have
been widely circulated for many years in a trade that has until now been
ignored by the authorities. The move may have been prompted by ongoing
friction in the wake of clashes at the Mae Sai-Tachilek border crossing
between the two neighbours, which prompted Thai authorities to close the
checkpoint last month.
Thailand's army said last week that the crossing would be reopened from
Monday, but that supplies for the Myanmar military including medicine,
rice and fuel would still be blocked. The state press has defiantly
said that Myanmar would not be concerned if trade were permanently
halted at the northern border town as the military-run nation can easily
meet the needs of its citizens. "It is the Thai traders who will
suffer," an official commentary said Sunday.
Xinhua: Myanmar to Hold 38th Annual Gems Emporium
YANGON, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will start its 38th annual gems
emporium on Sunday, putting on sale a total of 29.13 million U.S.
dollars worth of locally-produced quality gems, pearl and jewelry
through competitive bidding, tender or at fixed price. About 300
merchants of 98 companies from 13 countries and regions, mostly from
China and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as
Thailand, are expected to attend the eight-day state-sponsored emporium,
said Myanmar Deputy Minister of Mines U Myint Thein at a press briefing
The emporium, sponsored by the Myanma Gems Enterprise of the ministry,
aims to enable national gem merchants to engage in gem trading in
accordance with the market-oriented system, to study the situation of
foreign gem market, to meet and coordinate with foreign merchants, to
boost earnings and to obtain the raw gems for making the finished gems.
At the 37th annual Myanma gems emporium held in March last year, a total
of 24.17 million U.S. dollars was earned, breaking the highest record of
1990's 27th emporium which fetched 14.839 million dollars. Myanmar, a
well-known producer of jade, ruby and sapphire in the world, has been
holding gems emporiums annually since 1964 with additional mid-year ones
being introduced in 1992. The country has earned a total of over 320
million dollars from its 37 annual and nine mid-year gems emporiums,
according to official statistics.
Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): ?unsubstantiated accusations?
Text of "Special Feature" in Information Sheet No. B-1737(I) issued by
"Myanmar Information Committee" in Rangoon on 8 March 2001 in English
carried by Myanmar Information Committee web site on 8 March
Let us enhance friendship and good neighbourliness and avoid in making
hostile and irresponsible remarks.
It is very unfortunate that certain quarters in Thailand are still
continuing to act in a hostile and irresponsible way by making
inflammatory remarks in spite of the understanding and goodwill shown by
the two governments in resolving the recent border tensions. It is also
disappointing to learn that a recent study shows that a steady stream of
irresponsible speculations and allegations have been systematically
launched against Myanmar Burma by some Thai officials.
Since the beginning of this year, a number of unsubstantiated
accusations were launched against Myanmar which eventually were found
out to be purely wild and irresponsible speculations or deliberate
cover-ups to serve the interests of certain quarters in Thailand.
To mention a few of the obvious ones:-
(a) The murder of six Thai civilians in Suan Pueng, 150 km west of
Bangkok on 30 December 2000, was alleged to be carried out by Myanmar
troops but later turned out to be committed by a faction of the Karen
National Union KNU (an armed terrorist group based in Thailand) known as
the God's Army.
(b) The very recent assassination attempt on the Thai prime minister
where a Thai Airways jet was sabotaged. The United Wa State Army was
almost staged as the culprit until the Thai Office of the Narcotics
Control Board dismissed that suggestion.
(c) The sensational story of the two so-called defected or captured
Myanmar soldiers by the KNU confessing that their infantry unit was
responsible for shooting down a Thai helicopter, 4 years ago.
Very soon, these very same sources will be daringly claiming that
Myanmar was responsible for the 1997 Asean Association of Southeast
Asian Nations financial crisis that hit the region.
The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive
coverage of news and opinion on Burma (Myanmar) from around the world.
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx
To automatically subscribe to Burma's only free daily newspaper in
English, send an email to:
To subscribe to The BurmaNet News in Burmese, send an email to:
You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:
Voice mail or fax (US) +1(202) 318-1261
You will be prompted to press 1 for a voice message or 2 to send a fax.
If you do neither, a fax tone will begin automatically.
Fax (Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143
Burma News Summaries available by email or the web
There are three Burma news digest services available via either email or
Burma News Update
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at http://www.soros.org/burma/burmanewsupdate/index.html
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project
The Burma Courier
Availability: E-mail, fax or post. To subscribe or unsubscribe by email
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article.
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders
Promoting Democracy in Burma)
T O P I C A -- Learn More. Surf Less.
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Topics You Choose.