Daily News- September 15- 2002- Sunday

  • US lays framework for recovery of US servicemen remains in Burma
  • Thailand Security believed Junta uneasy, likely to maintain tension
  • Thai Troops dispatched after Wa shootout
  • Low-key ceremony to mark founding of alternative parliament in Burma

  • US lays framework for recovery of US servicemen remains in Burma

    Source : AFP

    US officials met with Burmese scientists in Rangoon this week, to outline a framework for the recovery of US servicemen's remains, whose aircraft crashed in Burma during World War II, the US Defense Department said.

    Four sites have been identified in the north of the country where C-47 cargo aircraft crashed in 1944 and 1945.

    The Burmese government pledged full support for the missions, the department said in a statement issued Saturday.

    Deputy assistant secretary of defense for prisoner of war and missing personnel affairs Jerry Jennings has also invited Burmese officials to visit the US Army Central Identification laboratory Hawaii next month.

    During the visit the officials will meet with US scientists who lead the field excavations and conduct forensic identification work, to familiarize them with US remains recovery and identification procedures.

    Technical talks will be held in Burma in November to arrange details on the excavation of the four sites in early 2003. The US team hopes to visit each site during the November talks.

    More than 78,000 Americans are missing in action from World War II.

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    Thailand Security believed Junta uneasy, likely to maintain tension

    Source : Bangkok Post

    Security authorities believe Rangoon is likely to maintain tension with Thailand for the time being in a bid to rally Burmese people against an external threat, a military source has said.

    The Burmese junta government felt insecure after the release of opposition leader Aung San Su Kyi and was now using international relations for political benefit, the source said.

    This opinion was recently voiced at a joint meeting of the army, the Supreme Command and the National Security Council.

    ``The Burmese government doesn't want peace. They are afraid of change which can bring them down. So they have to picture Thailand as a threat to maintain their status,'' the source said.

    The recent postponement of the scheduled Sept 6 meeting between Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and his Burmese counterpart, U Win Aung, was part of the Rangoon strategy.

    In line with this, security authorities believe that talks scheduled for Sept 30 will again be put off, the source said. Burma had shown no enthusiasm in holding local meetings with Thailand, let alone government-level talks.

    The planned meeting of the Regional Border Committee in a Burmese town has been delayed since April this year without any positive signs from Burma.

    ``They haven't set a date so far and all we can do is to make sure we are ready,'' the source said.

    Meanwhile, the 3rd Army has reported that Burma is stepping up security at its military bases near the Thai-Burmese border in the north.

    It also reported that drug trafficking had increased along the Thai-Lao border with narcotics being smuggled via Laos' Ban Ton Phueng in Bo Kaew and Ban Pakkob in Chaiburi. The source said the traffickers had links in Chiang Rai, Nan and Phayao provinces.

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    Thai Troops dispatched after Wa shootout

    Source : The Nation

    Military reinforcements were dispatched to the border with Burma in Chiang Dao district yesterday following a deadly shootout on Friday with a United Wa State Army (UWSA) drug convoy.

    Task Force commander Lt-General Nakorn Sripetchphan ordered back-up troops sent in because of the risk that Wa militia remained in the vicinity instead of retreating to their unit, military sources said.

    A 10-member task force platoon intercepted a 40-man drug caravan Friday morning and exchanged gunfire with UWSA escorts who fled, leaving behind 500,000 methamphetamine tablets.

    Two more platoons were dropped from an Army helicopter and marched three hours to the area in case the Wa retaliated to retrieve the goods.

    After the ambush, three Wa troopers were found dead and a resident of Ban Arunothai in Chiang Rai's Fang district, identified as Asang Sae-wang, was found wounded. He remains in military custody.

    Asang told interrogators that he and nine other ethnic Chinese from his village were hired to carry out the shipment from deep inside Burmese territory.

    The Army believes that the half million speed pills came from UWSA's Brigade 171, stationed in an area in Hmong Hsat controlled by fugitive drug lord Wei Hsueh-kang.

    Wei is wanted by both the United States and Thailand on drug charges and has a US$2-million (Bt86-million) bounty on his head.

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    Low-key ceremony to mark founding of alternative parliament in Burma

    Source : AP.

    Rangoon- - Burma's opposition National League for Democracy party will hold a scaled-down ceremony Monday to mark the fourth anniversary of its alternative parliament, a party spokesman said.

    The decision to hold a smaller celebration than in previous years is seen by some diplomats and observers as a conciliatory gesture toward the ruling junta, which is currently holding closed-door talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, or NLD.

    The formation of the Committee Representing the People's Parliament on Sept. 16, 1998 infuriated Burma's military rulers, who responded with a crackdown on pro-democracy activists.

    "Leaders of ethnic political parties are invited for lunch to mark the occasion, but the NLD will not hold the ceremony on a large scale," NLD spokesman U Lwin said Saturday.

    The alternative parliament was primarily backed by the NLD, which won a landslide victory in a 1990 general election but was denied power by the military, which refused to allow parliament to convene. The parliament committee also includes members of ethnic political parties.

    The NLD declared that the committee would perform parliamentary functions until a formal parliament was convened. However, it exercises no real power or even influence.

    The government declared it illegal and insisted it be abolished, following up its warnings with a wave of opposition arrests.

    Parliament committee secretary Aye Thar Aung was given a 21-year prison sentence in 2000 for violating political emergency and publishing laws. The committee's speaker, Dr. Saw Mra Aung, was detained at a government guest house in 1998.

    Saw Mra Aung, 83, was freed last year and Aye Thar Aung, who is being treated for lung cancer, was released last month on humanitarian grounds.

    The NLD had long insisted that the 1990 election results be honored but at the parliament committee anniversary celebration last year, the party did not reiterate that demand.

    In late 2000, Suu Kyi began closed-door talks with the junta to end the country's political deadlock, which has made Burma a pariah state in the eyes of many Western countries.

    Little tangible progress has been made aside from the release of several hundred political prisoners. More than 1,000 of them are estimated to remain behind bars.

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