Ceasefire Concern, Security tightened in Gas Pipeline Areas

HURFOM: The situation in the southern part of Mon State has become increasingly unstable as senior SPDC military leadership has applied pressure to the New Mon State Party (NMSP) to reduce its armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), into becoming a subservient border guard force or militia force. Tension increased within the NMSP after an April 22nd meeting in which a top SPDC commander invoked, for the 1st time since its formation, terms suggesting the “return to a pre-ceasefire relationship”.

When the military government pressured the NMSP to agree to a ceasefire in 1995, it was at a time when the Burmese Army was working to ensure security for company staff belonging to multi-national oil corporations, Unocal and Total, in order to construct the 60 miles long Yadana/Yetagun gas pipeline. Today the military government has a serious concern that if the ceasefire breaks, Mon and Karen insurgent forces can move up to the pipeline region.

In May and June of this year, the Burmese Army sent 7 companies of troops, or about 300 to 400 soldiers into the northern part of the Yadana/Yetagun pipeline, specifically along the Ye to Tavoy motor road and along the coastal regions in southern Ye and northern Yebyu Township.

The military government is concerned for the gas pipeline, that if the MNLA troops break the ceasefire and co-operate with the Karen insurgents, they will threaten the security of the lucrative pipeline.

After the boosted security in the area of northern Yebyu Township of Tenasserim Division and southern Ye Township in Mon State, the Burmese Army has employed a multiple cut strategy to sever all types of supports by the local villagers to insurgent armed troops. This June, the Burmese Army has ordered the fencing of villages in Yebyu Township to prevent insurgent armed groups form accessing the villages. As a result villagers have lost their crops and property. They have no chance to prepare their plantations and orchards at the beginning of rainy season, when farmers traditionally prepare for a new season of growing. At the same time, villagers have to provide all types of assistance to Burmese Army soldiers who are based in their villages.

Finally, in order to ensure the protection of the whole gas pipeline project, and to control the whole area, there have been significantly more Burmese army soldiers active in Mon territory, increasing the suffering of the people – people who have not broken the 1995 ceasefire.

Ceasefire Concern, Security tightened in Gas Pipeline Areas

Than Shwe Briefly Hospitalized

Burmese military chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe was briefly hospitalized at a Rangoon hospital on Wednesday night, according to sources in Naypyidaw and Rangoon.

The 77-year-old junta leader, who is known to have a diabetes, was hospitalized at Pun Hlaing International Hospital in Rangoon, the sources said. But he was believed to be no longer at the hospital on Thursday morning, according to journalists in Rangoon.

There was no response by the hospital to phone calls on Thursday byThe Irrawaddy.

Burmese Buddhist monks in India who met Than Shwe during his recent visit there said he appeared to be in ill health.

In December 2006, Than Shwe spent two weeks in Singapore’s General Hospital, reportedly receiving treatment for intestinal cancer . He reportedly refused surgery.

Naypidaw sources speculate that the regime chief is likely to seek further medical treatment in Singapore if his health worsens.


Thai academic: Junta might get away with it yet

In a somewhat dramatic departure from his usual diplomacy, Surapong Jayanama (pronounced Chaiyanarm), the Thai academic and current advisor to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (pronounced Pirom) told an audience gathered at Chiangmai University’s Operational Building yesterday that the anticipated victory for the Burmese junta-backed party (the USDP) in the upcoming elections might likely be endorsed by the international community.“In fact, it might be a good exit strategy for the powers concerned,” said Surapong. “They’ll say ‘We’ve done what we could, now it’s time to be back to business as usual,’ ‘Having elections is better than no elections’ and ‘The regime deserves the benefit of the doubt, shouldn’t we allow it the opportunity to prove itself?”

Responding to a question posed by Aung Moe Zaw, leader of the exile Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), Surapong added, “If it [the junta] is able to organize the elections by adopting measures in subtle ways to allay suspicions about the overall fairness, eventually the [international community] will most likely recognize the new government of Myanmar.”

However, he conceded that the said new government would still just be old wine in a new bottle. “The more it changes, the more it will stay the same,” he said.

His statement echoed what a senior Indonesian diplomat said earlier in an interview given to the Asian Times on 26 July; “While we will use every opportunity to push the Myanmar authorities to greater democracy, in the end we will probably end up being a big rubber stamp.”

Surapong, in defense of his prediction, said, “This is not hypocrisy. It has to do with national interests, because the post-Cold War world has become an interdependent world. No country, not even the United States, can deal with major problems by itself.”

The regime, provided the international community’s reactions to its election results are good, can then start to address issues which have been long standing headaches – principally Aung San Suu Kyi and the non-Burman ceasefire armies – without fear of worldwide criticism.

Surapong, however, warned not all is going to be plain sailing for Burma’s junta. “(The last Soviet Union leader) Mikhail Gorbachev launched his Glasnost and Perestroika campaigns to strengthen the communist system, but, contrary to his expectations, the campaigns went wild ending in the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he said. “Similarly, Burma’s regimes, aiming to extend its rule, may well be sowing the seeds of its own destruction.”

Barely 5 months remain before the year ends, but Burma’s ruling military junta remains tight-lipped about the date of its promised elections. The October 10 prediction has been dismissed by most news agencies. It also remains to be seen whether the country’s detained icon of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, will be released in November when her 18 months detention terminates.

Karen squad ambushes 110 junta troops, kills nine including officer

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Karen rebels in a 15-member squad equipped with only automatic rifles and the rain ambushed a government battalion with more than 100 troops on Tuesday, killing nine junta soldiers including the force’s deputy commander and wounding 14 others, the Karen National Liberation Army has said.

Having received advanced warning from villagers of the approach of the junta’s 110-strong 62ndInfantry Battalion, the KNLA 22nd Battalion had lain in wait in the mountainous terrain of central Karen State, south of Paikyone Township.

Their attack killed seven lower-ranking soldiers and deputy field commander Major Tun Min Kyu. Reports said one of the wounded junta soldiers later died.

The KNLA forms the armed wing of the independence movement, the Karen National Union (KNU). The battalion it attacked is under the Burmese Army’s Military Operations Command No. 19 based in Yay Township.

“There was heavy rain and creeks were flooded with torrents of water, which made them difficult to cross,” Pa-an district KNU chairman Pado Saw Aung Maw Aye told Mizzima. “Moreover, there are no proper roads in this area. We took position and posted lookouts, then ambushed them.” Continue reading “Karen squad ambushes 110 junta troops, kills nine including officer”