Putting our side of the story

Source : Supreme Command, Shan State Army, Bangkok Post

For the sake of our relationship and co-operation with the Thai authorities regarding drug trafficking and arms smuggling in border areas, we would like to clear up some matters.

The Bangkok Post editorial of July 12 alleged that "the 11 men (this group includes officers from the SSA) are part of a broad, and continuing effort to steal and smuggle arms to Burma".

A second even more troubling problem is the allegation "that the arms in this case were to be sold to Shan rebels. The Shan State Army has long and infamous links to the opium and heroin trade in Burma and Thailand. Its recent leader was Khun Sa, the international heroin drug lord now being protected by Rangoon."These accusations stand without evidence, are historically incorrect, and are therefore unjustified. In fact, they contradict the whole policy of the Shan leadership.

The SSA has never at any point had any contact or business with the main suspect, Payungsak Yodbangtoey. Neither do we have any acknowledgements of this man and his business. The SSA strongly denounces the accusation that we are involved with this man.

To call the Shan soldiers "rebels" is a very degrading description of brave Shan men protecting and restoring what is rightfully theirs. It is the first time ever that staking a right to self- defence and claiming legal rights has been defined as rebellion.

When Khun Sa led the MTA, he was also the head of most of the drug trafficking in Asia. However, he surrendered to the Burmese military junta in 1996 and now works for them under their protection. Now Ne Win, Khun Sa and Lo Asing Han are the joint barons of the drug trafficking in Burma and the rest of Asia. There has been no contact between Khun Sa and the present SSA at any time as he is on our enemy's side.

Since 1998, the Shan State Army has controlled an area inside Shan State/Burma along the Thai border. Active strategies have been set up with the benefit and restoration of our land and people in mind.

We aim to promote and achieve the six following objectives: unity among the ethnic groups in our land to push back the Burmese invaders; to restore and protect our freedom and independence; to protect and promote a democratic way of living for our people; to promote the welfare of our people; to enforce the eradication of narcotic drugs; and to gain peace for our country.

According to our fifth objective, we acknowledge that the narcotics problem in our region is also the world's problem.

We hope and trust that the United Nations, the United States, the Thai and other international communities will help us in this cause. The SSA is in strong favour of the United Nations and the US plans to eradicate drugs in our region.

Since setting our objectives, we have been successful in eradicating drugs and refineries to the best of our capacity.

In many cases, the drugs have been handed over to Thai authorities and officers with the government. We believe that our drug eradication policy has contributed to mutual co-operation between our countries.

We will always be ready to join hands with Thailand in order to put a stop to this destructive trade in drugs.

The SSA also invites the international community, including our neighbouring countries, to come and see for themselves the situation in our land. They can witness our achievements and our goals set for the prosperity of our country and the outside world.