Daily News- May 31- 2002- Friday

  • Yangon lashes out, calls Thai leaders "bare-faced liars"
  • Myanmar accuses Thailand of aiding ethnic rebels, bans mention of Thailand in private press
  • Dissident Myanmar group says it is prepared for violence
  • Storm troops arrive
  • Aung San Suu Kyi exhorts party members to be politically active
  • Thai FM Doubts Reported Accusation Made by Myanmar Military

  • Yangon lashes out, calls Thai leaders "bare-faced liars"

    YANGON, May 30 (AFP) - Myanmar's ruling military junta on Thursday accused the Thai leadership of telling "bare-faced lies" and reiterated its charge that Thailand is harbouring anti-Yangon terrorists.

    Border tensions have escalated steadily between the two neighbours in the last week as army troops and ethnic minority rebel insurgents have engaged in sporadic clashes that have led to a worsening military and diplomatic row.

    Yangon upped the verbal jousting Thursday as deputy military intelligence chief Major Kyaw Win rejected Thailand's denial that its army was aiding ethnic insurgents and said Yangon had evidence and eye-witness accounts to the contrary."We have solid proof that they have allowed the SURA (the Shan United Revolutionary Army) to establish military bases inside Thailand and are giving them support, including recruitment and providing them with food supplies," he said.

    The SURA is Yangon's name for the Shan State Army, which for years has fought Yangon forces from the border areas.

    "For years they (Thailand) have provided both moral and material support to groups taking up arms against our government. "Now responsible leaders are denying such bases exist," he said. "This is tantamount to telling bare-faced lies."

    Kyaw Win produced area maps to pinpoint exact locations where Shan and Karen ethnic militias had set up camps within Thai territory.He also said the Karen National Union (KNU) have set up camp in Thailand under the guise of refugees.

    "These so-called refugee camps are in fact bases from which the KNU plan their attacks inside Myanmar," he said.

    On May 20 Yangon and Bangkok swapped protest notes after Thai troops and the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a Yangon-aligned ethnic militia, traded fire across the border in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Mai.The next day Myanmar closed its border gates with Thailand, and later announced it blocked official diplomatic missions from entering the country.

    This week Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said he proposed to Yangon that he be allowed to meet with top Myanmar officials in efforts to defuse tensions.Kyaw Win directly contradicted the minister's comments, saying "we have not yet been officially informed of this."Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra insisted Wednesday that Thai-Myanmar ties were in good shape, and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai urged the militaries of the countries to hold talks as soon as possible.

    Myanmar accuses Thailand of aiding ethnic rebels, bans mention of Thailand in private press

    YANGON,(AP)Myanmar - Myanmar's ruling junta on Thursday accused Thailand of giving weapons to anti-Yangon ethnic rebels on their common border, and in a sign of growing tensions, has banned all mention of Thailand in privately owned journals and magazines.

    Deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Kyaw Win told a news conference in Yangon there is "evidence that Thai troops and Thai police are not only harboring the armed ethnic rebel groups inside Thai territory but have been aiding them with food and weapons."

    Thailand denied the allegations."It's the Myanmar government's right to say whatever they want," Thai Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Suraphan Pumkaew said. "Let them talk. But we've already said that we didn't support the groups in any way."

    Meanwhile, in a further sign of deteriorating relations, a journalist in Yangon said Thursday that the Myanmar government had issued a directive to ban private journals and magazines from mentioning Thailand or advertising Thai products.

    The journalist, editor of a private magazine, said managing editors of such publications were summoned to the official Press Scrutiny Board a government censorship body on May 22 and had to sign an agreement to comply with the directive. The journalist did not want to be named.The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders has condemned the directive as "grotesque." Kyaw Win said Thursday he wasn't aware of the ban.

    Daily newspapers and electronic media, which are state-controlled and strongly reflect the opinions of the ruling junta, continue to carry critical stories and commentary on Thailand.

    Kyaw Win said that despite its disavowals, Thailand supports long-established rebel groups, the Karen National Union and Shan United Revolutionary Army.He said one Shan camp, Loitaing Lian, is located in Thailand and is surrounded by 37 smaller camps which host a military training school, a hospital and house 1,300 people.

    Shan and Karen rebels have been fighting for autonomy since the country gained independence from Britain in 1948. The fighting often spills over into Thailand, where more than 100,000 refugees from the conflicts are living.In the latest outbreak of border violence, the Thai army said Thursday that one of its outposts about 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of Bangkok was attacked by unidentified forces with small arms fire and mortars Wednesday night, injuring one Thai soldier.Thai locals said the Thai army retaliated with artillery fire for about an hour, firing about 30 shells into Myanmar.The clash came hours after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged his army to act with restraint to ease tension with Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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    Dissident Myanmar group says it is prepared for violence

    BANGKOK, May 30 (AFP) - A group of extremist Myanmar dissidents responsible for two sieges in Thailand in recent years said Thursday it was prepared for more acts of violence if Yangon refused to meet its demands.

    "We are ready to create more violence and non-violent actions to pressure the SPDC" if the ruling State Peace and Development Council do not adhere to the group's demands, the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors said in a statement sent to AFP.Burma was renamed Myanmar by its military rulers after 1988.

    The group demanded the unconditional release of all political prisoners in the country, peace talks with the opposition and ethnic leaders, and "a democratic civil government with people (who are) respected leaders".

    Despite the May 6 release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, "too many political and revolution prisoners (including students) still remain in the country", the statement said.

    The Warriors stormed the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok in 1999, seizing several hostages.The group then demanded that the SPDC release political prisoners and enter into talks with Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy.They obtained passage to the Myanmar border by helicopter and escaped.

    Three months later the group joined another extremist faction known as God's Army and seized a hospital in Ratchaburi province, 100 kilometres west of Bangkok, with further demands. Ten of the dissidents were killed by Thai military commandos.

    The group said in Thursday's statement that it "deeply regretted" the incidents."We expect that kind of accident will never occur again on Thai territory," it said.

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    Storm troops arrive

    Shan Herald Agency for News -No: 05 - 25:

    50-military trucks carrying troops from Light Infantry Division 33 from Sagaing reached the staging area of Nakawngmu in Mongton Township, opposite Chiangmai Province, last night to attack the Pang Maisoong stronghold seized by the Shan State Army last week, reported S.H.A.N. source this morning.

    "We didn't know it was the 33rd last night, because it was dark and already 11 p.m.," said the source. "But this morning their insignias were plain for everybody to see." However, most of the troops must have marched off into the night to Mong Jawd and then to Mongtaw, 16 km north of Pang Maisoong, opposite Chiangmai's Wianghaeng District before the trucks reached Nakawngmu, he said, "because we saw only a few of them in each vehicle."

    There are already 1,000-1,200 local troops in Mongtaw plus 4-5 howtizers from the 385th Artillery Battalion, under the command of Col Than Myint from Mongton, taking positions around the besieged SSA fighters.

    The LIDs are known for their "keep-on-coming" charges against the strongholds of rebels despite heavy casualties on their part that generally force the outnumbered and outgunned insurrectionaries to abandon their positions. The SSA took Pang Maisoong on 21 May.

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    Aung San Suu Kyi exhorts party members to be politically active

    YANGON, May 31 (AFP) - Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi exhorted members of her party to be politically active during a visit to the township of Kyimyindaing Friday.

    In a speech to the National League for Democracy's (NLD) township office in west Yangon, Aung San Suu Kyi reminded party members that they must be active and serve the people.

    "We established the NLD with the purpose of serving the people and we must be able to serve them under any kind of circumstances. I am very glad to see that we are united and active," she said."We need to be strong mentally to be able to serve the people under any kind of circumstances. It will not do if we are politically active only under safe and secure conditions."

    The Nobel peace laureate's speech was broadcast via a public address system to a thousand-strong crowd that had gathered in the hope of at least catching a glimpse of her.

    It was the largest crowd to have greeted Aung San Suu Kyi since she started visiting township offices within the Yangon area following her release from 19 months house arrest on May 6.

    "When you become active in politics you need to be mentally strong. It is not right that you only become active in a secure environment, when things are going well," she said."That is why I would like you to nurture a strong mental attitude because nothing is more important than that."I would like to be candid and say that I don't really appreciate the kind of members who are active only when times are good," she added.

    After her address to the party, Aung San Suu Kyi emerged to speak directly to the crowd, but she emphasised she was not talking to them as if they were at a rally.

    "I have not come to address you as at a rally. I am here just to greet you, because I have a chance to do so. If you would like to hear more of what I have to say come and listen to me when the situation allows it," she said.

    Nevertheless, she told her listeners they must also work towards democracy.

    "I am advocating democracy because it provides the best opportunity for you to have a better life. But you must also take part by showing your responsibility and working together with us," she said.

    "The NLD cannot do much for the people at this time. I cannot raise false hopes by promising too much, but I will say this: We will do as much as we can, but it is up to the people themselves to also help."

    Aung San Suu Kyi has said that her release by the country's ruling military junta is unconditional, but observers are keenly awaiting her first visit outside the capital.She was placed under house arrest for attempting to travel on party business in September 2000.The NLD office in Kyimyindaing -- or Kemmendine -- was reopened after a "reconciliation dialogue" was opened between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military in October 2000.

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    Thai FM Doubts Reported Accusation Made by Myanmar Military

    BANGKOK, May 31, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai Friday expressed doubt on the reported accusation made by Myanmar's ruling military regime that Thai leaders are liars, saying the report might be based on misinformation.

    Myanmar's deputy military intelligence chief Kyaw Win was quoted by a foreign media as accusing the Thai leadership of telling "bare-faced lies" and reiterating Thailand is harboring anti-Rangoon terrorists.

    Speaking in an interview from Sydney where he accompanied Prime Minister Thaksin to Australia, Surakiart said he had received reports that the Myanmar government ordered a special check of Thai printing media in the country and censorship of news, the Thai News Agency reported. He said the ministry had sought information from the Thai Embassy in Rangoon, but had not yet received any verbal or written assurance. They were just unofficial reports.

    The foreign minister said he personally did not believe the reports would be true. On the reported criticism by the military leader that Thailand is harboring Myamar's ethnic groups, he said he was not sure the words came from Kyaw Win.

    "I would like to reiterate that the premier has a clear policy that Thailand won't harbor any ethnic groups in neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia because the conduct could lead to mistrust," Surakiart said.

    "The conflicts with ethnic groups are an internal affairs of our neighboring countries. What we could help is to encourage the national reconciliation in their countries," he added. He said the Thai government had a clear policy not to allow forces of ethnic groups to establish their base in the Thai territory.

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