Daily News- April 18- 2002- Thursday
Myanmar moves Ne Win relatives to jail
Myanmar democratic opposition commemorates Buddhist new year
Myanmar blames Karen rebels for deadly border blast
Myanmar brushes aside olive branch from Shan rebels
Shan want Chavalit as mediator
Drugs focus of talks with Maung Aye
Burmese activist bailed in IndiaShan rebels "want talks with Burma junta"
Myanmar moves Ne Win relatives to jail
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Relatives of former dictator Ne Win who were arrested for allegedly plotting a coup have been shifted to Myanmar's main prison pending their trial for treason, an official said Thursday.
Ne Win's son-in-law and three grandsons have been moved to Insein prison in Yangon from the military compound where they had been held since their arrest on March 7, a senior intelligence official told The Associated Press. The official refused to say when the four men were moved or when the trial will begin.
"The relatives of Ne Win are kept at Insein prison like all other accused," he said. He spoke on condition he was not identified further. Aye Zaw Win, the husband of Ne Win's daughter, Sandar Win, and their three sons, were arrested at a Yangon restaurant on charges of plotting to overthrow Myanmar's military government.
Since then, authorities have put the 91-year-old Ne Win and Sandar Win under de facto house arrest, placing barbed wire barricades around their residential compound in Yangon.
The deputy chief of military intelligence, Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win, said earlier this month that all four would be tried for high treason and that thorough investigations were under way to build up the case. High treason carries a maximum penalty of death.
To The TopMyanmar democratic opposition commemorates Buddhist new year
YANGON, April 17 (AFP) - Myanmar's opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), on Wednesday commemorated traditional Buddhist new year with a gathering of its leaders and members, party sources said.
Over 150 NLD members congregated at the party's ramshackle Yangon headquarters to pay homage to six elders, including NLD chairman Aung Shwe and his deputy, Tin Oo, by giving food alms and listening to sermons.
Security agents of Myanmar's ruling military junta were deployed near the party's headquarters in a "low-key fashion" but did not intervene in the proceedings, the sources said.
The NLD, which won a landslide 1990 election victory but was prevented by the junta from taking power, has been allowed to reopen dozens of branch offices in recent months and membership numbers have swelled.The political mood shifted after NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi entered landmark talks with the military regime in October 2000.
Myanmar ushered in the year 1364 on the traditional Buddhist calendar with exuberant street celebrations and water-throwing which caused havoc on the streets of the capital earlier in the week.But Wednesday was reserved for piety and merit-making, with Yangon's residents visiting pagodas and monasteries to pay respects to monks and perform other good deeds.People were seen heading to the banks of rivers and lakes to release fish and animals, traveling to old-age homes, and washing and cutting the hair of the elderly.
Junta leaders were also known to have joined in the meritmaking by visiting favourite monks and temples, a well-placed source said. Absent from the NLD gathering was Aung San Suu Kyi, who has remained under virtual house arrest in her lakeside home since September 2000.
The reconciliation talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling generals began a month later, brokered by UN special envoy to Myanmar Razali Ismail, who is due to return to Yangon April 22.
To The TopMyanmar blames Karen rebels for deadly border blast
YANGON, April 17 (AFP) - Myanmar's military junta Wednesday blamed a rebel ethnic group for a bomb blast near the Thai border this week which it said killed five people and injured dozens.
A spokesman for the regime said the explosion Monday at the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge during Buddhist new year celebrations was the result of conflict between armed groups of the Karen, the country's largest ethnic minority.
"Regretfully, the KNU (Karen National Union) has been launching terrorist attacks on the civilian population, especially on religious occasions, and it now seems like a routine to them," the spokesman said in a statement."But this time it also seems like taking a revenge on the DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army) by indiscriminately killing innocent civilians."
The KNU, whose members are predominantly Christian, said in reports published Wednesday that it had no hand in the blast."We don't want to see blood spilled," Mahn Yein Maung, of the KNU's central executive committee, told the Bangkok Post.
Thai authorities said seven Myanmar citizens were killed and 27 injured when a bomb fitted to a three-wheel bicycle exploded in the Myanmar township of Myawadi just 20 metres (yards) from a military checkpoint.But the junta spokesman said five civilians were killed and 31 injured, including 15 seriously.
Thai military sources also said that the KNU were believed to have sought revenge against the DKBA, a rival group allied with Myanmar's military junta, after it bombed a gas station in Thailand's Mae Sot district last week, injuring four people.Traffic across the bridge between Myawadi and Mae Sot was much heavier than normal Monday due to festivities for the traditional Buddhist new year which began in both countries Saturday.Thai and Western tourists also use the bridge to cross into Myanmar, many traveling on day passes issued at the border.
To The TopMyanmar brushes aside olive branch from Shan rebels
BANGKOK(Reuters), April 17 - Myanmar's military government brushed aside an olive branch on Thursday from the largest rebel force still fighting its grip on the country, saying the Shan State Army (SSA) would have to surrender if it wanted peace.
Thailand's Bangkok Post newspaper quoted SSA commander Yod Suk as saying he wanted Thailand to mediate truce talks with the Yangon junta. But he said the SSA, which has battled Myanmar troops in the volatile Golden Triangle region for years, would not agree to lay down its weapons before starting peace talks.
A senior Myanmar military intelligence officer said the junta regarded the SSA as nothing more than a splinter group of the Mong Tai Army (MTA) of former opium warlord Khun Sa, who surrendered in 1996 with many of his troops.
''There is no way we will have peace negotiations with the (SSA) because they are a splinter group of the MTA that has already surrendered unconditionally to the government,'' Lieutenant-Colonel San Pwint told Reuters. ''But if they want to exchange their weapons for peace, they are welcome.''
Several guerrilla groups operate in Myanmar, a product of the country's bloody history and its fractured patchwork of different ethnic groups and religions. The military, which has ruled Myanmar since 1962, has often cited the danger to national unity posed by rebellious ethnic minorities as a justification for its grip on power.
Over the past decade the military government has pursued a policy of seeking deals with the ethnic minority rebel groups, and has reached peace agreements with 17 of them. But three major groups still stand against Yangon -- the SSA, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Karen National Union (KNU). The first two are separatist groups while the KNU is fighting for greater autonomy in a federal, democratic Myanmar.
Many of the government's deals have involved giving the former rebel groups considerable autonomy in return for dropping their fight against Yangon. Ceasefire groups such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA) have been allowed to keep control over their territory and retain their weapons. The UWSA is widely accused of being the region's main narcotics producer. But Myanmar's government says the UWSA is committed to eradicating drugs, and accuses the SSA of being the country's main narcotics producer and trafficker.
Yod Suk was formerly a lieutenant of Khun Sa, who now lives in Yangon after surrendering to the Myanmar military. Khun Sa was a major opium producer, but claimed he was forced to grow the crop to finance his struggle against the Myanmar government.
The Bangkok Post quoted Yod Suk as saying neither side should set preconditions for talks. It said the SSA commander wanted similar privileges to those granted to the UWSA -- which runs its part of Myanmar in northeastern Shan State as an autonomous fiefdom. The newspaper said Yod Suk suggested that Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh help broker peace talks. It said Chavalit would informally raise the issue of talks with Myanmar army chief General Maung Aye during his visit to Thailand on April 23 to 26.
Myanmar has in the past accused the Thai army of giving support to the SSA, and the two countries have fought sporadic skirmishes along their border over the issue. (With additional reporting by Andrew Marshall in Bangkok)
To The TopShan want Chavalit as mediator
Subin Khuenkaew Wassana Nanuam
Col Yawd Serk wants Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to negotiate truce talks between his Shan State Army and Rangoon.The SSA leader, who also chairs the Shan State Restoration Council in charge of the SSA's political affairs, made the call from his military base in Doi Sanju, opposite Chiang Mai's Fang district.
In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Col Yawd Serk said he would like the Thai defence minister to mediate truce talks between his Shan followers and the military junta in Rangoon.``I don't like him (Gen Chavalit) much but I like this idea,'' said the SSA leader.
An informed security source said Col Yawd Serk met one of Gen Chavalit's close aides last week to work out details of such talks.In order for such negotiations to move forward, neither side should set any preconditions, said Col Yawd Serk.He added the Burmese junta should refrain from using military means to solve Burma's political problems.
However, Col Yawd Serk was firm the SSA would never accept Rangoon's demand that it lay down weapons as a precondition for truce talks.Col Yawd Serk said the SSA wanted the same privileges as those granted to the United Wa State Army, whose forces were allowed to keep their weapons after they decided to end their armed struggle against Rangoon.
A security source said Gen Chavalit would informally raise the issue with the Burmese army chief during Gen Maung Aye's April 23-26 visit to Thailand.
Gen Chavalit recently said he agreed to help mediate peace between Rangoon and ethnic rebel groups in Burma after he realised the Burmese military leadership could not get in touch with the SSA or the Karen National Union (KNU), another main opponent of the Rangoon regime.
Rangoon first asked for Thai help late last year during the 18th Regional Border Committee meeting in Pattaya.During that meeting, Maj-Gen Thein Sein, then Burma's Triangle Region commander, asked Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, then Third Army chief, to help persuade three ethnic rebel groups to join the Burmese government's national reconciliation plan.The three groups were the SSA, the KNU and the less aggressive Karenni National Progressive Party.
In the mid 80s when Gen Chavalit headed the army, he successfully mediated for an end to decades of armed struggle between the Malaysian government and the Communist Party of Malaya.
Rangoon this month deployed three battalions, about 1,500-strong, signalling it was preparing for a dry-season offensive against the SSA.There are five SSA bases located near Pang Noon in Chiang Rai's Mae Fa Luang district, including Kaw Muang, regarded as the strongest, and Kaw Hom, which houses a training camp and a field hospital.Tensions have been high around Pang Noon since February, when Burmese troops launched a surprise cross-border raid and captured the outpost, which they hoped to use as a springboard for strikes against other SSA positions.
The Burmese were repelled by Thai troops after demands for their immediate withdrawal were ignored. Up to 80 Burmese troops were reportedly killed in hails of mortar and artillery rounds.Rangoon protested strongly, claiming the intrusion was unintentional and that Thai border troops had overreacted.
To The TopDrugs focus of talks with Maung Aye
Tackling drugs along the Burmese border will be top of the agenda for talks with Burmese army chief Maung Aye on April 23-26. Supreme Commander Narong Yutthawong said he and the armed forces chiefs would discuss joint efforts to fight drugs and other border problems with Gen Maung Aye.
``We understand that Burma wants to co-operate in fighting drugs. But Burma still has internal problems to tackle such as those involving ethnic minority rebels,'' he said. The military would offer help on how to grow substitute crops to replace opium, and pass on new fishing methods. Adm Narong said Gen Maung Aye's visit showed that relations between Thailand and Burma had improved.Gen Maung Aye would be granted an audience with His Majesty the King at Chitrlada Palace on Tuesday.
A source at the Defence Ministry said security would be tight for the Burmese army chief's stay, adding that his programme was often changed for security reasons.According to his schedule, Gen Maung Aye arrives at the air force airport on April 23. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh would take him to the Supreme Command headquarters on Chaeng Wattana road where he would be welcomed by a guard of honour.
Gen Maung Aye would meet military chiefs for talks, then pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The government would host a dinner for him at Government House.On April 24, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai would take Gen Maung Aye to Phuket for a round of golf with Mr Thaksin and other members of the cabinet.On April 25, the Burmese army chief will hold informal talks with Gen Chavalit and military leaders on border issues and play more golf.
Burmese activist bailed in India
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
A Burmese pro-democracy activist has been given bail by a court in India in connection with the hijacking of an aircraft nearly 12 years ago.
Soe Myint has lived in India since hijacking a Thai Airways flight to Calcutta in November 1990. He set up an internet website on Burma and was not pursued by the Indian authorities until last week, when he was arrested.
The arrest came days after India's Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh, visited the Burmese capital, Rangoon. Observers believe India could be attempting to appease Burma's military authorities by arresting Burmese pro-democracy activists.
To The TopShan rebels "want talks with Burma junta"
BANGKOK (Reuters)- - One of the main ethnic militias fighting Burma's military government wants Thailand to mediate truce talks with the Rangoon junta, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Thursday.
Colonel Yod Suk, head of the Shan State Army (SSA) that has battled Burma troops for decades in the east of the country, said in an interview that Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh could help broker the talks.
"I don't like him much, but I like this idea," Yod Suk told the newspaper.
Chavalit says he has close personal relationships with senior Burma leaders and has offered to mediate talks between Rangoon and the militias still fighting military rule.
Several militias operate in Burma, a product of the country's bloody history and its fractured patchwork of different ethnic groups and religions.
Over the past decade the military government pursued a policy of seeking deals with the militias, and has reached peace agreements with 17 of them.
But three major groups still stand against Rangoon -- the SSA, the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Karenni National Progressive Party.
Many of the government's deals have involved giving militias considerable autonomy in return for dropping their struggle against Rangoon.
Groups like the United Wa State Army (UWSA) have been allowed to keep control over their territory and retain their weapons. The UWSA is widely accused of being the region's main narcotics producer.
But Burma's government says the UWSA is committed to eradicating drugs, and accuses the SSA of being the country's main narcotics producer and trafficker.
Yod Suk was formerly a lieutenant of opium lord Khun Sa, whose Mong Tai Army held out for years against the Burmese military. Khun Sa struck a peace deal with the government in 1996 and now lives in Rangoon.
The Bangkok Post quoted Yod Suk as saying neither side should set preconditions for talks. It said the SSA commander wanted similar privileges to those granted to the UWSA.
The newspaper said Chavalit would informally raise the issue of talks with Burma army chief General Maung Aye during his visit to Thailand on April 23 to 26.
Burma has in the past accused the Thai army of giving support to the SSA, and the two countries have fought sporadic skirmishes along their border over the issue.
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