Officials have unexpectedly opened the Burmese side of the Three Pagodas Pass border crossing with Thailand more than three years after it was closed.
Merchandise can now be legally transported between the town and Thailand’s Sangkhla Buri, one trader said, adding that the reopening had caught them by surprise.
The majority of the goods, such as lead and furniture, that used to pass through the crossing were legal, he said, although its closure had fuelled a clandestine trade in unreported merchandise.
Burmese officials are now reportedly collecting $US1 per person and $US1.30 per car crossing over from Thailand, while it is free for Burmese heading into Thailand.
The Three Pagodas Pass, or Payathonzu in Burmese, is not an essential trade point for the two countries, given that access routes on the Burmese side of the border from Rangoon and Mandalay are in poor condition.
Although locals claim the reopening was unexpected, it comes days after secret talks were held between Burmese foreign minister Nyan Win and his Thai counterpart, Kasit Piromya.
There had been speculation that the Monday meeting in the Burmese town of Tachilek would focus on negotiations over the reopening of the key Mae Sot crossing, which was closed in July following a dispute over Thailand’s construction of defensive walls on its side of the Moei river.
Thailand’s countrywide border trade generates around US$4.3 billion each year for the developing economy. There are upwards of 20 official and unofficial trade points along its border with Burma.
A commentary in Burma’s state-controlled newspaper decried the Aung San Suu Kyi-led opposition’s attempt to hold an ethnic conference as “anti-government” and said it would derail the government’s seven-step road map to “disciplined democracy.” The commentary said that even if the conference is held with good intent it would pave the way for anti-government groups to exploit the proceedings, adding that the state still faced internal and external destructive elements. According to the commentary, national reconciliation can only be worked out within the parliament. The Burmese military regime has made no response to Suu Kyi’s renewed call for dialogue to break the country’s political deadlock.Published Wednesday, 08 Dec, 2010
ဒီဇင္ဘာလ ၇ရက္။ ေစာသိန္းျမင့္ (ေကအုိင္စီ)
ကရင္ျပည္နယ္ လႈိင္းဘဲြၿမိဳ႕နယ္ရွိ မာနယ္ပေလာနယ္ေျမတ၀ိုက္တြင္ ကရင္အမ်ဳိးသားလြတ္ေျမာက္ေရးတပ္ဖြဲ႔(KNLA)က နအဖ လႈပ္ရွားတပ္ဖြဲ႕မ်ားအား ဒီဇင္ဘာလ ၅ရက္ေန႔မွ ယေန႔အထိ ၄ႀကိမ္ ေျပာက္က်ားတိုက္ခိုက္ခဲ့ရာ နအဖဘက္က ၆ဦး က်ဆုံးၿပီး ၄ဦး ထိခုိက္ဒဏ္ရာရရွိခဲ့သည္ဟု ေကအဲန္အယ္လ္ေအ တပ္မဟာ(၇)၏ သတင္းအရ သိရသည္။
ထိုသံုးရက္အတြင္း ေကအဲန္ယူ တပ္မဟာ(၇) တပ္ရင္း(၂၀၂)မွ ဒုရင္းမွဴး ဗုိလ္မွဴးေစာတာမလာ ဦးေဆာင္သည့္ တပ္စုတစုႏွင့္ ေကအဲန္ယူ တပ္မဟာ(၅)အေျခစုိက္ ေကအဲန္အယ္လ္ေအ အထူးေျပာက္က်ားတပ္ဖဲြ႕တုိ႔ ပူးေပါင္းကာ နအဖ အေရွ႕ေတာင္ တိုင္း စစ္ဌာနခ်ဳပ္-ရတခ လက္ေအာက္ခံ ခမရ(၃၃၈)၊ စအရတပ္ရင္း(၉၁၅)ႏွင့္ ခလရ(၂၈)တပ္ရင္းအား လႈိင္းဘဲြၿမိဳ႕နယ္ရွိ မာ နယ္ပေလာ(ယခင္ ေကအဲန္ယူ ဗဟုိဌာနခ်ဳပ္ေဟာင္း) ေဒသတြင္ ေျပာက္က်ားတိုက္ခိုက္ခဲ့ျခင္းျဖစ္သည္ဟု ေကအဲန္အယ္လ္ ေအ တပ္မဟာ(၇) ႐ုံးထုိင္မွဴး ဗုိလ္မွဴးေစာအယ္ဆဲဆဲက ယခုလို အတည္ျပဳ ေျပာဆိုခဲ့သည္။
၎က “၅ရက္ေန႔ ေန႔လယ္ ၁၂း၀၀ နာရီအခ်ိန္မွာ ဆင္ျဖဴေတာင္(ကေဆာ၀ါးေလး)မွာ ခမရ(၃၃၈)ကို က်ေနာ္တို႔တပ္ေတြ သြားတိုက္တာ မိနစ္ ၂၀ေလာက္ေတာ့ၾကာတယ္။ အဲဒီမွာ နအဖဘက္က ၅ေယာက္ က်တယ္။ MA-11 ေသနတ္တလက္ က်ေနာ္တုိ႔ ရခဲ့တယ္။ အဲဒီေန႔မြန္းလဲြ ၃း၀၀ေလာက္မွာပဲ ေျခာက္ဘီးကားႏွစ္စီးနဲ႔ တက္လာတဲ့ စစ္အင္ဂ်င္နီယာတပ္ရင္း (၉၁၅)ကို ၾကယ္ေျပာင္ကုန္းမွာ တိုက္ခိုက္ေတာ့ ကားက မုိင္းထိသြားတဲ့အတြက္ ကားတစီး လံုး၀ ပ်က္စီးသြားၿပီး ၃ေယာက္ ဒဏ္ရာရသြားတယ္။”ဟု ဆိုသည္။
ဆက္လက္၍ ဗိုလ္မွဴးေစာအဲဆဲဆဲက “၆ရက္ေန႔ မနက္ ၁၁နာရီက်ေတာ့ ထီးေသ့ခီးမွာ နအဖ ခမရ(၂၈)တပ္ရင္းကို က်ေနာ္ တို႔လူေတြ သြားတိုက္တာ နအဖဘက္က တပ္ၾကပ္ႀကီး ၁ေယာက္ ဒဏ္ရာျပင္းထန္ၿပီး က်ဆံုးေပမဲ့ ထိခိုက္မႈကိုေတာ့ က်ေနာ္ တို႔မသိရဘူး။ ဒီေန႔ ေန႔လည္ ၁၁း၂၀နာရီမွာက နအဖ ခမရ(၃၃၈)ကို ၾကယ္ေျပာင္ကုန္းမွာ တခါထပ္ပစ္တာ နအဖ ၁ေယာက္ ဒဏ္ရာရတယ္။”ဟု ေကအုိင္စီကို ယေန႔ ေျပာဆိုသည္။ Continue reading “ဒီဇင္ဘာလ ၇ရက္။ ေစာသိန္းျမင့္ (ေကအုိင္စီ) KIC”
Yesterday, I was among some 100 people who went to watch the 30-minute long documentary film, Where have all the fish gone? Killing the Mekong dam by dam, directed by Tom Fawthrop, at the Chiangmai University.
If you were looking for inspiration and stimulation, it wouldn’t disappoint you
It once again hit home what the activists have been saying all along that the Mekong has reached a critical juncture:
- There are 19 dams being planned (8 by China and the rest by downstream countries)
- 4 dams have already been completed by China
- The last one Xiaowan was opened last August
- With each dam built, the water level has been going lower, reaching the lowest last March
- China, together with Burma, are only observers at the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and not members like the other 4: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam
- China has steadfastly denied its dams have anything to do with the drying up downstream
- The film also ventures a question: Is the MRC doing enough to prevent further disasters?
I’m not an expert on rivers, or on anything. But after watching it, I’ve been asking myself whether we’ve been placing too much emphasis on the rivers like the Mekong and the Salween, which are international, more than the national ones like Chao Phraya and Irrawaddy?
The Shans, to whom the Salween wields a sort of psychical power on them (“As long as the Salween flows, the Shans live” notion), are more vulnerable. Had they placed their psychology on rivers inside their state borders like the Teng and Pang, I think they would have been less helpless.
Saying this, I also think the ruling junta’s decision to allow the Chinese to build the Myitsone dam on the Irrawaddy in Kachin State was a short-sighted and ill advised one. What can be more foolhardy than placing the long trumpeted “perpetuation of the national sovereignty” in the hands of another country? The “Union of Myanmar” (UM) or rather the “Republic of the Union of Myanmar” (RUM) may last longer without the Salween or the Mekong but not without the Irrawaddy.
That is not to say we need to give up the struggle against the regional governments and transnational conglomerates for the survival of the Mekong as well as the Salween. But we need not forget that the survival of Burma and Thailand rests more with the survival of the Irrawaddy and the Chao Phraya and both countries need to come up with a sound Plan B. Continue reading “Mekong fighters need to come up with Plan B”
The grisly remains of six Karen ceasefire troops who were captured by the Burmese army last week have been found close to the Thai border.
The discovery was made at 9am today close to Hpalu village in Karen state, once home to an outpost belonging to the KNU/KNLA Peace Council ceasefire group which came under attack on 30 November.
“They were found in a bush at the end of a maize plantation,” said Dr Timothy Laklem, head of foreign relations in the Peace Council. “They were not shot dead; they were brutally hacked to death with machetes. Peace Council badges remain with them.”
Burmese army officials had reportedly told the group that the six had been detained and were under interrogation. Suspicions that the men had been killed surfaced when the army failed to return them.
The ceasefire deal struck between the Peace Council and the ruling junta in 2007 now appears to be in jeopardy. Laklem said that the group will discuss “how to take action on the commander who gave the order [to kill the men]”.
The Peace Council is known to be close to a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) which is involved in heavy fighting against the Burmese army around Karen state’s Myawaddy township.
Clashes broke out yesterday morning and continued today after Burmese troops surrounded a DKBA unit near to Hpalu. “It has been going on the whole day and it is not finished yet,” said the DKBA’s Major Kyaw Thet, who is leading the Hpalu attacks. “They suffered losses. Nothing happened on our side.”
He added that four truckloads of around 100 Burmese troops had arrived yesterday and were reinforcing already substantial Burmese army units. The Burmese junta is looking to rout the DKBA and its newly-allied Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), whom it has fought a decades-long conflict against.
Karen refugees continue to move back and forth across the border with Thailand as hopes for calm in Burma’s volatile eastern state appear distant.