Daily News-September 02 - 2001- Sunday

  • Ethnic groups end four-day conference on "political impasse"
  • New minorities group pushes for three-way democracy talks
  • France hails easing of restrictions on Myanmar opposition
  • Burmese withdraw
  • Khin Nyunt declines to ride in a military helicopter in Thailand
  • Myanmar official's Thailand visit key to ties
  • Drug-runners shot dead in Chiang Mai
  • 26 arrested after drug factory raid in Burma
  • Burmese authorities seize 1.36 kg of heroin in Kyu-hkok
  • Ya ba' labs shift to Laos to beat crackdown

  • Ethnic groups end four-day conference on "political impasse"

    Text of report by DVB on 30 August

    DVB has learned that a Conference of National Groups of Burma attended by over 50 delegates has concluded today.

    One of the panel of chairman told DVB that the four-day conference held at a KNU [Karen National Union]-controlled area near the Thai-Burma border held thorough discussions on Burma's prevailing political impasse and was attended by representatives of ethnic armed groups at the border and the national races that have signed cease-fire agreements with the SPDC government.

    This conference is similar in fundamental nature to the Maetharawhta Meeting held in 1997 and an official declaration will be issued tomorrow.

    Those who attended the meeting hoped the declaration would be accepted by the NLD just as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD accepted and supported the Maetharawhta Declaration.

    The declaration is believed to include some main facts such as the conference fully supports ongoing talks between the SPDC military government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; welcomes the mediating efforts of UN special envoy Mr Razali; and will also contain demands for holding tripartite talks with the national groups.
    New minorities group pushes for three-way democracy talks

    By Supamart Kasem
    source : The Bangkokpost

    More than 10 groups together in new bid

    A committee has been set up by pro-democracy Burmese ethnic minority groups to co-ordinate attempts to bring about peace and democracy in Burma.

    An agreement was reached at a three-day ethnic nationalities seminar which ended on Friday at the Karen National Union's Law Khii Lah camp opposite Tak.

    More than 10 pro-democracy ethnic minority groups resolved to form the Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Co-operation Committee to bring together Burmese minority forces pushing for tripartite peace talks.

    The panel will be chaired by KNU president Pado U Ba Thin. The groups which signed the pact were the KNU, Karenni National Progressive Party, United Nationalities League for Democracy/Liberation Area, Shan Democratic Union, Arakan Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Pa-o People's Liberation Organisation, Palaung State Liberation Front, and allied groups.

    All groups, it was decided, would support any activities and diplomatic approaches to ease conflict in Burma through talks between Rangoon, the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy party, and ethnic nationalities.

    ``We have kept watch on talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and the State Peace and Development Council which began in October last year. We consider this as a good sign and are willing to support it,'' U Ba Thin said. He said he appreciated United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail's Aug 27 visit to Rangoon to push forward peace talks.
    France hails easing of restrictions on Myanmar opposition

    PARIS, Sept 1 (AFP) - The French foreign ministry on Saturday hailed Myanmar's decision to ease restrictions on two senior opposition figures.The lifting of restrictions on the president and vice president of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung Shwe and Tin Oo, was "an encouraging gesture", ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau said.

    Like NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the two men had been kept under house arrest since September.

    "This gesture, following on the heels of the release of a certain number of political prisoners and the reopening of NLD offices in the Myanmar capital, could encourage the dialogue begun last year between Aung San Suu Kyi ... and the authorities," Rivasseau said."France hopes that the process of dialogue will continue and will yield real progress toward national reconciliation," he added.

    The NLD won general elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take office and its leaders were jailed or placed under house arrest by the ruling military junta.
    Burmese withdraw

    source : The Bangkokpost

    Burmese troops who took over a Thai paramilitary ranger camp on Doi Lang in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district withdrew into Burma early yesterday after talks between local border co-ordinators, said the defence spokesman.

    Col Palangkoon Klaharn said the Burmese did not want their actions to mar a visit to Bangkok by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, Secretary One of Burma's State Peace and Development Council on Sept 3-5.

    Nine Burmese soldiers took over the 31st paramilitary ranger base on Wednesday while the rangers were away on patrol.
    Khin Nyunt declines to ride in a military helicopter in Thailand

    The Nation, Associated Press- Published on Sep 1, 2001

    Burma's intelligence chief Lt-General Khin Nyunt has declined to ride in a Thai helicopter during his three-day official visit to Thailand, Thai security sources said yesterday.

    Instead, the Thai military has arranged a bulletproof motorcade to take him to his appointments, the sources said.

    Burmese officials have also requested that Thailand keep Khin Nyunt's itinerary a secret until the last moment, including the time and place of his arrival on Monday, the sources said.Thai authorities are preparing other extraordinary security precautions for the rare visit by Burma's third-ranked leader.

    "Special Branch police will mobilise forces and provide maximum security for Khin Nyunt and will coordinate with the military's National Security Centre," Special Branch police chief Maj-General Tritot Ronrittiwichai said.

    A tight security shield will be set up around his hotel and the royal residence in the seaside resort of Hua Hin, where he will be granted an audience with Their Majesties the King and the Queen, Tritot said. A police surveillance helicopter will keep an eye on the motorcade to Hua Hin and back.

    "Most of the members of the anti-Burmese government movement are inactive mainly because their leaders have taken asylum in a third country, and the remaining leaders understand that their movements on Thai soil have to be in accordance with Thai law," Tritot said.

    Khin Nyunt, who is also Secretary Number One of the junta, will have a meeting with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra shortly after his arrival and later meet Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai in the afternoon.On Tuesday, he will visit either Shin Corp or the Telecommunications Authority of Thailand to observe telecommunications technology. A source quoted Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh as saying that Burma wanted to see a Shin Corp company in Pathum Thani province.The Burmese general will be granted his audience in the afternoon. He will return to Rangoon on Wednesday.

    While Khin Nyunt is here, Thailand and Burma will sign a memorandum of understanding on anti-drugs cooperation to put into practice many measures against drug trafficking, Surakiart told reporters.Both sides will also discuss what form of fisheries cooperation will be mutually beneficial - concession, government-to-government or joint venture, Surakiart said.

    Burma has banned Thai trawlers from its territorial waters and cancelled concessions with Thai fishing firms in anger at Thai fishing firms and fishermen violating the concession and fishing regulations.

    Thailand will also ask Burma to take back the displaced persons currently accommodated in Thai refugee camps along the common border, now that the situation in Burma has normalised, Surakiart said.

    "Thailand will cooperate with international organisations and friendly countries to set up a self-help community to create jobs for returnees as a form of humanitarian assistance," he said.The Burmese side will be informed of Thailand's new policy on illegal foreign workers that will allow them to register and legally work in the Kingdom. Most of the illegal migrants are from Burma.
    Myanmar official's Thailand visit key to ties


    Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt's visit comes as Bangkok believes engagement is the only way to solve problems

    BANGKOK - Monday's visit to Thailand by Myanmar's military intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt is the clearest sign yet of Thailand's new policy of engagement, as it attempts to woo a neighbour Thais have long distrusted.

    Secretary One Khin Nyunt, the third most powerful man in Myanmar, is due to meet Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai before an audience with the Thai King. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt's three-day visit represents a complete reversal of the previous government's policy.

    Former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai never visited Myanmar, but Mr Thaksin is eager to improve relations by boosting trade and commerce ties with Yangon. He visited Yangon in June, and believes engagement is the only way to solve a host of related problems that impact Thailand.

    Mass migration, the return of more than 100,000 ethnic minority refugees,border trade, demarcation disputes and security cooperation are all topics that Mr Thaksin may raise with Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt during a working lunch on Monday. Thailand wants to endorse an agreement to post an anti-narcotic official in each other's country.

    Foreign Ministry officials have also prepared anti-drugs proposals, among them a groundbreaking suggestion that Thailand help develop Myanmar's remote Shan State, source of the bulk of the world's heroin and millions of methamphetamine pills, by providing technical assistance on opium poppy crop substitution and alternative development projects.

    The area is so poor and remote that drug production is one of the few ways to make money. Although the United Nations Drug Control Programme already runs a crop substitution project in the Shan State, it lacks the money to really do any good thanks to sanctions which limit aid funding to Myanmar.Thailand, which was flooded by more than 600 million methamphetamine pills last year, wants to do more to help and its officials have been trying to quietly win over Myanmar's government but building trust and 'normalising' relations are s een as crucial.

    Such a rare high-profile visit by a leading member of the regime might normally attract huge opposition from Thai-based Myanmar opposition groups - there was even a suggestion the general might be housed in a military barracks rather than a hotel during his stay.However, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt has refused to fly by Thai army helicopter to the palace and instead will be travelling by a bullet-proof motorcade.
    Drug-runners shot dead in Chiang Mai

    source : The Bangkokpost

    Three suspected Burmese drug traffickers were shot dead in Chiang Mai's Muang district on Friday, allegedly while delivering 70,000 speed pills to police agents.

    The incident took place as Interior Minister Purachai Piumsombun was visiting the province to inspect night entertainment areas as part of the government's get-tough policy against nightspots nationwide.
    26 arrested after drug factory raid in Burma

    Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

    Security forces in Burma say they have arrested 26 people and seized enough chemicals to make 800,000 amphetamine pills in a raid on a drug factory in the heart of the Golden Triangle region.

    They say the raid, by a combined anti-narcotics force of army, police and military intelligence officers was carried out on August 24.

    A military spokesman says it is the first time Burmese security forces have captured such a factory. They say it was not only well hidden, but also surrounded by a security cordon.
    Burmese authorities seize 1.36 kg of heroin in Kyu-hkok

    Text of report by Burmese radio on 31 August

    A combined team comprising local intelligence unit and Myanmar Police Force [MPF] members, acting on a tip-off, searched the house of Htaukshwinmon at No 85, Ward 5 in Kyu-hkok Panghsai on 5 August. They seized 16 blocks of heroin weighing 1.36 kg.

    The authorities arrested Htaukshwinmon, son of U Htaukkyisein, together with Laukhat, son of U Lushauk of No 28, Ward 5, Kyu-hkok Panghsai, and Lawpaung alias Phupaukyin, son of U Phukya of Mangye Village, Mongko. The MPF station concerned has booked them under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law.
    Ya ba' labs shift to Laos to beat crackdown

    source : The Nation - Published on Sep 1, 2001

    Golden Triangle drug bases are moving across the border, says official

    Drug trafficking along the Mekong River is likely to increase significantly as more clandestine drug labs along the Burmese border shift to Laos, a senior counter-narcotics officer said yesterday.

    A significant number of methamphetamine labs belonging to Thai nationals and Burmese drug lords, as well as to units of the United Wa State Army, have been relocated to the Lao side of the border in Bokeo province, adjacent to Chiang Rai province, said Chartchai Suthiklom, assistant secretary-general for the Office of the Narcotic Control Board, yesterday.

    Chartchai said that ethnic Hmong belonging to an anti-Vientiane movement, together with Lao drug dealers, were involved in the illicit activities.Chartchai said that the number of clandestine labs inside Burma in areas adjacent to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son had decreased following the tight squeeze by the Thai authorities along the border.

    Chartchai said these operations had shifted over the Mekong River and relocated in Laos' Bokeo province in Muang Mom and Ton Phueng. These areas are adjacent to Chiang Rai's Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong districts.

    "The exact number of methamphetamine labs that have relocated to Laos is still unknown, but it is clear that many have been relocated from the Burmese side of the border to the Lao side with the help of Lao nationals," Chartchai said."We believe the production will not be as high as that of the Wa on the Burmese side of the border because of limited access to the precursor chemicals needed to make the drugs," he said.

    Besides the Lao nationals, Chartchai said there was reason to believe that ethnic Hmong belonging to an anti-Vientiane movement were involved in the illicit activities. The overall drug situation in Laos is likely to get worse, with more drugs smuggled into Thailand, he said.Chartchai said that Lao government agencies were cooperating with their Thai counterparts by exchanging intelligence.

    Tailand's Third Army has suggested that troops from both sides conduct joint patrols along the Mekong River, the natural boundary that separates the two countries, but Vientiane has yet to respond to the idea. The area in question, known as the Golden Triangle, has for decades been the major source of the world's heroin supply. The volume of opium production in Laos is estimated to be 100 tonnes, compared to 1,000 tonnes in Burma, Chartchai said.