Daily News- July 04- 2002- Thursday

  • Maung Aye in hot water over false reports
  • Chuan raps government over Burma
  • Sending refugees back 'a violation'
  • U.S. logistical and operational support the War on Drugs at Thai-Burmese border

  • Maung Aye in hot water over false reports

    Wassana Nanuam
    The Bangkokpost

    Burmese military leader Gen Maung Aye has been under fire following `false' news reports he had approved the Thai military joining in Rangoon's crackdown on the Wa, says Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

    Gen Chavalit said Gen Maung Aye's April 23-26 visit to Thailand led to political problems for the Burmese army chief after an English-language daily in Thailand reported that Gen Maung Aye had allowed the Thai military to join Burmese troops' in a clampdown on Wa soldiers.

    The truth was that Gen Maung Aye only promised to help close the United Wa State Army's Hong Pang Company in Tachilek and push for the withdrawal of all Wa soldiers from the Thai-Burmese border, he said.

    ``The most painful thing was that when he returned to Burma, our English- language newspaper I do not want to name reported that Gen Maung Aye agreed with our sending of soldiers to join Burmese troops' moving against the Wa.``Let's imagine what would happen to Gen Maung Aye after his visit to Thailand amid the on-going internal political problems in Burma,'' Gen Chavalit said.

    ``From his own observations and checks with the Supreme Command, concerned military units and army commander-in-chief Gen Surayud Chulanont, he found no deployment of Thai soldiers in Burma,'' he said.He would continue to help push for the forming of Burma's national reconciliation government in a bid to create peace in that country.It was his guess that economic hardships would force Burma to reopen its border checkpoints with Thailand within three weeks, which would help improve Thai-Burmese ties.

    Chuan raps government over Burma

    The Bangkokpost
    Supawadee Susanpoolthong

    Opposition leader Chuan Leekpai says the government has lost its grip on the Burma problem.It obviously did not quite understand the facts behind the issues.The military must be allowed to decide how best to defend the country while the government should stick to diplomacy, the Democrat leader said.

    As a democratic country, Thailand must be be firm in refusing to condone dictatorship in all shapes and forms.The government should not take pride in its ability to establish personal ties with the Burmese leadership. It must put the national interest before its own.

    ``It is unreasonable to expect people to keep on being tolerant,'' he said, referring to waning patience over Rangoon's border hostility and its verbal attacks on the monarchy.``We have been neighbourly, but they have no right to offend our head of state,'' he said.

    The Burma problem would not resolve itself. Certain principles such as military retaliation must apply.The armed forces must be allowed to proceed with territorial defence at their own discretion, instead of waiting for the defence minister's order all the time.Questions were being asked why the government appeared to ``mumble'' when it came to settling the dispute with Rangoon, he said.

    Some people wondered whether vested interests may have stalled the government's reaction to the situation. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's Shin Corporation was reported to have clinched a telecom deal with Burma recently.There had also been no direct response from the Burmese leaders themselves.``All we hear is [Burmese leaders] being quoted by our own people,'' the opposition leader said.

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    Sending refugees back 'a violation'

    The Nation

    The government might be violating international humanitarian practice by sending some 600 Shan refugees back to the Burmese side of the border during a time of uncertainty, the vice chairman of the House's Foreign Affairs Committee said yesterday.

    Kobsak Chutikul expressed strong concern over a report that the government planned to repatriate the ethnic Shan refugees who fled Burma following heavy fighting between government troops and rebel soldiers.

    "We should not be too hasty," Kobsak said. "This is a humanitarian matter and [there are] internationally accepted norms for civilians fleeing armed conflict."

    The vice chairman pointed to Thailand's international standing on humanitarian issues and added that the world community would be watching.The move to return the refugees could also be seen as Thailand giving in to pressure from Burma's military government following accusations from Rangoon that the Thai troops were providing assistance to the Shan rebels.

    The 600 refugees are currently residing at a temple in Chiang Mai's Wiang Haeng district. The fighting also displaced over 2,000 Thai residents along the border area as Burmese artillery and mortar shells rained down on villages.The latest round of clashes between the Burmese and the Shan rebels erupted late last month.

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    U.S. logistical and operational support the War on Drugs at Thai-Burmese border

    Far Eastern Economic Review

    It appears a new theatre is opening up in the U.S.-led war on drugs. European diplomats who recently visited the Thai-Burmese border say the United States has recently provided logistical and operational support for the Thai military in operations targeting the Burma-based ethnic Wa militia, which is behind the manufacture and cross-border trafficking of heroin and methamphetamine tablets.

    The diplomats say U.S. servicemen were so close to the action during recent border clashes that three of them were wounded at Mae Fah Luang in northern Thailand. U.S. officials strongly deny the assertion, which if proved to be true could be a violation of legislation restricting deployment of U.S. troops in foreign combat zones.

    The U.S. says its troops in Thailand, known as Task Force 399, are strictly limited to training Thai special forces in interdiction techniques. Late last month the U.S. conducted a series of exercises--dubbed Baker Torch--with Thai border police.

    U.S. officials in Bangkok say Task Force 399 is winding down its operations, mainly because of budget cuts. But diplomats assert that some members recently traded in their fatigues and are working directly for the Thais on the border. Designation as private consultants would exempt them from any legal hurdles at home.

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