Daily News- December 26 - 2001- Wednesday

  • Thailand to shut dissident camp within a day: governor
  • Thailand seizes assets of wanted Myanmar drug lord
  • Villagers killed, hundreds flee as Myanmar attacks rebel base
  • Chinese Contracted Pulp Factory Starts Building

  • Thailand to shut dissident camp within a day: governor

    BANGKOK, Dec 26 (AFP) - Thailand will evacuate and close a controversial border camp housing Myanmar dissidents on Thursday, an official said. Ratchaburi provincial governor Komet Daengthongdi told AFP Wednesday that some student dissidents living at the Maneeloy Holding Center would be moved to the Tham Hin refugee camp in western Paktau district.Another group of more than 100 dissidents not considered refugees would be handed to immigration officials at the border, he added.

    Komet said it would take only one day, Thursday, to evacuate the Myanmar dissidents who fled the Myanmar junta's 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy activists.He added that he believed there would be no violent resistance during the evacuation because the students knew of the longstanding government plan to close the center. "I believe there will be no violence because they understand our intention," he said in a telephone interview.

    Hundreds of Thai villagers staged a protest Monday to demand provincial authorities quickly expel Myanmar dissidents who they said had hurt the local economy and were a source of crime.

    Since 1993, the Maneeloy camp has held thousands of Myanmar student dissidents, many of whom have been resettled in third countries with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in June that Maneeloy and refugee camps along the Myanmar border would be gradually closed, and that he would tackle the problem of illegal immigrants, who number about a million.

    Thailand is home to more than 120,000 refugees who fled fighting between Myanmar troops and rebel ethnic armies. Many of them are from the Karen minority and live in camps on the Thai side of the border.

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    Thailand seizes assets of wanted Myanmar drug lord

    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai police said on Wednesday they had seized more than 20 million baht ($454,700) worth of cash and other assets belonging to drugs baron Wei Xuekang, who has a $2-million price on his head in the United States.

    Wei, 49, also known as Prasit or Chanchai Chevinnitipanya, was arrested in November 1988 in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai, but jumped bail and has been living in Myanmar.

    Wei, widely known as the commander of the United Wa State Army's (UWSA) southern military command based in Myanmar near the Thai border, has been indicted by the United States on drug trafficking charges.

    The Thai Supreme Court sentenced him to life imprisonment in absentia in 1994 on charges of collaborating with others to smuggle 615 kg (1,356 lb) of heroin out of Thailand. Thailand blames the UWSA for producing much of the drugs flooding the country, particularly methamphetamines.

    Thai officials said in a statement on Wednesday they found 90 bank accounts worth 14 million baht as well as jewellery, vehicles and other assets belonging to Wei and his associates after simultaneous searches of nine premises in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. Wei, Chinese by birth, was granted a Thai citizenship in 1985 but this was revoked in July this year.

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    Villagers killed, hundreds flee as Myanmar attacks rebel base

    MAE SOT, Thailand, Dec 26 (AFP) - Two Myanmar villagers were killed and another two injured Wednesday when Myanmar troops and allied soldiers attacked a rebel base near the Thai border, a Thai military source said.

    Some 400 Myanmar villagers fled the early morning clash and crossed the border into Thailand, the source added. About 100 Myanmar troops and members of the Yangon-allied Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) opened fire with mortars and machine guns on a base belonging to the rebel Karen National Union (KNU).

    The seige on the base, located in Myanmar some 500 meters from the Thai border opposite western Ta Song Yang district, lasted about an hour. The KNU has fought a 51-year battle for greater autonomy against the central government in Yangon and is one of the last major insurgent groups fighting the junta.

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    Chinese Contracted Pulp Factory Starts Building

    YANGON, December 26 (Xinhuanet) -- A major bleached pulp factory project in Thabaung, Myanmar's southwestern Ayeyawaddy division, contracted by the China Metallurgical Construction (Group) Corporation, has started and a ground-breaking ceremony was held Monday at the project site. The cost of the factory is 90 million U.S. dollars provided by the Chinese seller's credit.

    The Thabaung pulp factory using bamboo as raw material will be built on a land plot of 448.48 hectares under a contract signed on August 31 last year between the Chinese company and the Myanmar Paper and Chemical Industries of the Ministry of Industry No.1. According to the contract, the Chinese side is to undertake the design, supply of equipment and technical supervision, while the Myanmar side is responsible for the building.The building of the factory is scheduled to complete in 2004 and will produce 200 tons of pulp per day on completion.

    It is expected to meet the paper demand of Myanmar with the addition of the major factory. Myanmar plans to add 14 more paper and pulp mills of 50 to 500 ton daily capacity in the country during the five-year plan periodfrom 2001-02 to 2005-06. Myanmar's per capita consumption of paper is 2.6 kilograms and its total domestic paper demand in the present fiscal year of 2001-02 is 117,600 tons.

    The country produced 16,894 tons of paper in 2000, accounting for only 14.36 percent of the total demand, and it has still to import over 100,000 tons of the paper or 85.64 percent of the total demand.

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