Daily News- March 23- 2002- Saturday

  • Burma Sanctions Coalition Launched
  • FEER Articles Angers NLD-LA
  • KNU raid Burma army camp, 30 dead
  • Burma vows to help track down druglords

  • Burma Sanctions Coalition Launched

    By Tony Broadmoor
    The Irrawaddy

    March 21, 2002- The Burma Sanctions Coalition announced its formation on Monday in hopes of deterring companies from engaging in any new investment in Burma. A more specific aim of the coalition, however, is to pressure the United Kingdom and other European countries into implementing investment sanctions against Burma, according to a statement released by the group.

    The coalition declared in its founding statement that "any major new business deal with the regime could wreck the fragile talks" in Rangoon between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government. The coalition said if pressure against Burma's military government is prematurely eased through increased business investment the regime may walk away from the negotiating table. Reconciliation talks in Rangoon began in October 2000, however the content of the dialogue has yet to be disclosed causing many critics to feel that the talks have stalled.

    Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement marking the coalition's founding: "We find ourselves in a situation where governments are waiting on other governments to act - and so everyone simply waits. No country should wait for another to act first on this issue. No government should hide behind the need for multilateral action."

    Archbishop Tutu added that the United States has already implemented sanctions against Burma and that if the UK can find it in its mandate to do the same other European countries may follow. Tutu stressed the need for a movement of cooperating actors in order to achieve the ultimate goal of democracy in Burma.

    The coalition is comprised of businesses, unions and human rights and environmental groups. Some of the involved groups include The Burma Campaign UK, Anti-Slavery International, Global Witness, Tourism Concern and the National Justice and Peace Network.

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    FEER Articles Angers NLD-LA

    By Zarny Win
    The Irrawaddy

    March 21, 2002- An article published in the March 7 issue of the Hong Kong-based Far East Economic Review (FEER) has infuriated the Thai-Burma border-based National League for Democracy-Liberated Area (NLD-LA), according to party members.

    The article, titled "A Possible Thaw Among Burmese", appeared in the magazine’s Intelligence section. It claims that "members of the National League for Democracy located in rebel-held areas near the border with Thailand" issued a statement in January that said "the NLD has decided to march forward along with the SPDC [the ruling State Peace and Development Council] towards a meaningful dialogue."

    In a statement released on March 18, the NLD-LA said that the information cited in the article has "neither been lawfully nor systematically obtained from the NLD (LA)." It added that "it must be construed that the source of the allegations are the work of collaborators or sympathizers of the regime, deliberately geared to discredit and to tarnish the good name of our organization, and being carried out for the illegal purposes and practices of the regime."

    Tun Aung Kyaw, an NLD-LA central committee member, told The Irrawaddy that the article was "totally wrong and against our aims, objectives, and political stance." He added, however, that the group "firmly believes that the tripartite dialogue among democratic groups led by the NLD, military government and ethnic groups can rebuild the peaceful democratic union of Burma."

    According to the NLD-LA, the party strictly adheres to the aims and objectives of the Burma-based NLD. The NLD-LA, however, is a separate political party. The NLD-LA was formed on Feb 14, 1991 after NLD members fled Burma due to widespread human rights abuses against pro-democracy supporters. The NLD-LA now has branches in Japan, Australia, South Korea and the United States.

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    KNU raid Burma army camp, 30 dead

    Source : MSNBC / Reuters

    BANGKOK, March 23---Separatist ethnic Karen fighters launched one of their biggest attacks on the Burma army since the mid-1990s on Saturday, leaving about 30 dead, the Thai army said.

    A Thai military source told Reuters about 100 fighters from the Karen National Union (KNU) raided the large military camp, opposite Thailand's Phop Phra district of Tak province, 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Bangkok.

    A Karen villager who fled over the border to Thailand told Reuters that four civilians living in the camp were killed and several wounded.

    The KNU is one of several ethnic armies fighting for independence from the Rangoon military government.

    The Thai army source said around 30 people were killed in the attack, but did not say how many were Burmese troops or soldiers of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which split from the KNU in the mid-1990s to become allies of the Burma army.

    The fighting, which began shortly before dawn and lasted over three hours, spilled into Thai territory when mortar shells fired at fleeing KNU soldiers landed over the border, damaging several houses and wounding a Thai man.

    The Thai army said it had detained more than 30 KNU soldiers who had crossed into Thailand after the raid and would disarm them before sending them back into Burma.

    Thai soldiers were also preparing to move about 1,000 villagers on the Thai-Burmese border in Tak province further into Thailand.

    The KNU, accused by Rangoon of being heavily involved in the production of opium and metamphetamines, has carried out sporadic hit-and-run raids on Burma army units since its main mountain-top base was overrun by troops in late 1994.

    Over a week ago, the KNU attacked a Burmese army outpost near the Thai border, killing six soldiers. Thai army sources said some 80 KNU fighters launched the night attack on Burmese troops near the border town of Myawaddy.

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    Burma vows to help track down druglords

    BANGKOK, March 23 (Reuters)- - Burma has pledged to help Thailand apprehend most-wanted fugitive druglords Wei Xuekang and Surachai Ngernthongfu, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Saturday.

    "If the Thai government calls on us to hunt down Wei Xuekang and Mr.Surachai, we will ask our superiors to authorise their arrests," Tin Maung Htay, who oversees drug suppression at the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, was quoted as saying.

    Thai cabinet minister Thammarak Issarangura, who supervises drug suppression and national security, told Reuters he had yet to discuss the issue with Rangoon. "We have to look at the details first," he said.

    Without elaborating, Thammarak said Thailand and Burma generally cooperate in fighting the illicit drug trade.

    U.S. President George W. Bush in mid-February denounced Burma -- together with Haiti and Afghanistan -- for their failure to cooperate against the drugs trade last year.

    The United States is offering a $2 million reward for the capture of Wei, 49, who Washington has indicted on drug trafficking charges. He has been living in Burma since jumping bail following his November 1988 arrest in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai.

    Wei is widely known as commander of the United Wa State Army's (UWSA) southern military command based in Burma near the Thai border. Bangkok blames the UWSA for producing much of the illicit drugs flooding the country, particularly methamphetamines.

    Wei is Chinese by birth but he was granted Thai citizenship in 1985. This was revoked last year.

    The other fugitive, Surachai Ngernthongfu who is Thai, has been sought by Thailand since 1998 when he evaded arrest. He is also believed to have fled to Burma.

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