South Korea will cooperate with Myanmar to develop mineral resources including rare-earth minerals as it seeks to secure supplies amid rising raw material prices.
The two countries agreed to conduct a geological study and develop projects, South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today.
South Korea, which imports almost all its energy and minerals needs, is increasing spending on resources projects to line up supplies.
Vice Minister Park Young June asked Myanmar, during his Dec. 23 visit, to let South Korean companies explore for oil and gas onshore, which is currently prohibited to foreign companies, the ministry said.
A group of companies led by South Korean trading house Daewoo International Corp., is developing gas resources in Myanmar’s A1 and A3 offshore blocks.
Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) troops ambushed a Burmese military convoy transporting technicians to a dam construction project on Friday afternoon, according to Khu Oo Reh, the joint secretary of the KNPP.
The KNPP troops attacked 20 government military trucks near Pruhso Township, killing at least three persons including the foreign technicians, according to the KNPP. No information was provided about the number of people injured in the attack.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Khu Oo Reh said, “We attacked the convoy because it brought the persons who can harm local people by building a dam. The convoy came from Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State, and was headed to the dam project in the Ywathit area of Bawlakhe Township, Karenni (Kayeh) State.”
“We are investigating the building of this dam, including what company is investing in the project. We received some information that the regime began conducting secret surveys four years ago. At the beginning, we thought that they were working on the Weigyi dam and didn’t expect that they planned to build a new dam in Ywathit,” Khu Oo Reh added.
A member from Karen River Watch confirmed that there was a new dam project in Bawlakhe Township, but the organization is also still investigating the new dam project to obtain detailed information.
Currently, according to the Burma Rivers Network, only five proposed dam projects are on the Salween River.
The KNPP, an armed ethnic armed group, has recently formed an alliance with the Kachin Independence Army, New Mon State Party, Shan State Army-North, Karen National Union and Chin National Front.
In October, KNPP troops attacked government troops based at Pon bridge, which is located between Loi Kaw and Shar Daw, Karenni State. The bridge was destroyed during the attack.
The four-day talks will discuss various security issues including action against insurgent groups operating along the international border, strengthening of intelligence-sharing mechanism, arms smuggling and drug trafficking.
“MLAT will enhance the ability of the two countries to pursue their common objective of law enforcement by putting in place a legal mechanism to enable them to provide to each other assistance in connection with investigation, prosecution, prevention and suppression of crime — including those relating to terrorism,” said an official.
The treaty is likely to be signed on the concluding day of the talks on December 30. Myanmar deputy minister for home affairs U Phone Swi will head the Myanmarese delegation.
Pillai is likely to raise issues like activities of Indian insurgent groups operating along the Indo-Myanmar border, and would seek action against them by the Myanmar government.
A proposal to set up an institute to impart Myanmarese and English to soldiers of the two countries would also be discussed threadbare. According to the proposal, Indian security forces guarding the border would be taught Myanmarese, while Myanmarese soldiers would be taught English to overcome the language problem and better coordination at the ground level.
More than 200 Karen refugees were forcibly sent back into Burma from Thailand on Saturday despite unstable conditions and fighting near their villages, according to border sources.
The Thai army forced refugees sheltering at a Buddhist temple and a Thai school in Pop Phra-District in Thailand’s Tak Province back across the border, telling them the situation had become stable.
“They [refugees] are afraid of the Thai army and were forced back even though they dare not return to their villages,” said Blooming Night Zan, the joint secretary of the Karen Women’s Organization.
Many of the refugees forced back across the border remained in hiding close to the Moei River on the Burmese side of the border, ready to flee back across the river if fighting breaks out nearby, according to Mahn Mahn, the director of the Back Pack Health Workers Team.
Over 1,000 Karen refugees fled to the Thai border near Mae Sot when fighting between Burmese junta troops and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) brigade 5 troops broke out early in December in Phaluu village, Kawkareik Township, 40 kilometers south of the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border crossing on the Thai-Burmese border.
About 600 Karen refugees still remain in hiding at relatives’ homes on the Thai border as they are afraid they will be forced back.
“So many people illegally staying at the homes of their kin may cause problems in the longer term, but the refugees do not want to return as long as fighting frequently takes place near their villages,” said Blooming Night Zan.
More junta troops have deployed along the road from Phaluu to Wah Lay villages in an attempt to control the area and restrict the movement of Karen troops.
Meanwhile, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7, which is active in the Manerplaw area, launched separate attacks on Dec. 22 and 23, according to the Thailand-based Karen Information Center.
During the attack, nine junta soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion No. 106 and four from Infantry Battalion No. 588 were killed by KNLA troops, border sources said.
Karen refugees return home after fighting ends
Thai paramilitary rangers, administrative officials, and officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helped refugees at Sob Yuam military base in Mae Hong Son’s Sop Moei district to return home. Continue reading “Refugees Hide After Forced Repatriation”
The United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s political wing United Wa State Party (UWSP) has drawn another counter proposal which includes a point to demand for a state with the Right of Self Determination from the new government, according to UWSP sources.
The new proposal which is to be presented to the new government that is expected to be installed early next year includes the following 6 points:
- The Wa stands for the Wa State’s peace and development
- The Wa State shall have its own armed force. Wa weapons will remain in Wa hands. The Wa armed force will also remain in Wa State.
- The Wa will not secede from the Union
- The Wa will never demand or declare independence under any (Union) government
- The Wa will steadfastly demand for a state with the Right of Self Determination from every (Union) government until it is achieved
- The Wa are ready to discuss Wa affairs with the upcoming government, upholding a policy of non-alignment and neutrality.
“The words that we said that we will uphold non-alignment and neutrality policy means we [the Wa] won’t side either with the new government or with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s 21st century Panglong conference,” a Wa officer said. “But we will discuss Wa affairs with any new government until we achieve self-determination.”
The said proposal was drawn at the UWSP’s 5th annual district level party congress which is being held in Mongmai, 170 km north of its main base Panghsang from 20 December to 29 December.
Moreover, the group will not also stay under other countries’ policy, the officer added.
According to him, the UWSP leading party committee will send its delegation after the congress to talk with the new government on the basis of ‘Opposition to War’ and ‘Work for Peace and Development’ principle.
Thai paramilitary rangers, administrative officials, and officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helped refugees at Sob Yuam military base in Mae Hong Son’s Sop Moei district to return home.
Sixty-five persons, mostly women and children from 13 families, have travelled back home in an one-hour trip by long-tailed boats provided by the Thai authorities.
On Saturday, in Tak’s Phop Phra district, 250 ethnic Karenni were sent back home through a temporary border checkpoint.
Although, some NGO activists called for the Thai authorities to let them stay longer, the government insisted that the repatriation must continue given that the fighting on the other side of the border had died down.
The repatriation came after some Thai villagers in North Valley sub-district expressed concern about a possible outbreak after deputy village head Sutham Suwansri, who visited the refugees, fell ill with Menincoccal disease.
Officials cleaned the temporary shelter after refugees left.
Fighting between Karen rebels and Myanmar armed forces erupted in November after its first election in 20 years, forcing thousands of Myanmar civilians to flee across the border into Thailand. (MCOT online news)