Italian-Thai Co Workers Flee Burma Conflict

Some 50 workers of the Italian-Thai Development Company (ITD) have fled from Burma to the Thai side of the border to escape fighting between Burmese government troops and Karen rebels that broke out near their work site on Thursday, according to various sources.

ITD, Thailand’s largest construction firm, is contracted to build the Kanchanaburi-Tavoy Highway, linking the western Thai town of Kanchanaburi with the Burmese coastal town of Tavoy [Dawei] as part of the multi-billion-dollar Dawei Development Project.

Local residents in Kanchanaburi said that the workers, most of whom are Thai and Karen, are now sheltering in a makeshift camp on the Thai side of the border in Kanchanaburi Province. They left all their equipment and many personal effects behind as they abandoned the site in haste.

No company workers have been reported killed or wounded in the crossfire, but sources said the construction camp was hit by artillery shells.

At least six Burmese government soldiers were killed during the fighting, said Karen villagers who had also fled to the Thai-Burmese border for safety.

Hostilities broke out close to the worker’s accommodations and the construction site known as Base 1, as Burmese government forces came under surprise attack from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 4, according to a report by the Thailand-based Karen News.

The construction camp is located near a government military base at Ah Leh Satone on the Thai-Burmese border.

An official from KNLA Brigade 4 told The Irrawaddy on Friday that a unit of KNLA soldiers from Battalion 10 ambushed government troops on patrol. The Karen guerrillas also burned down a temporary Burmese outpost along the Kanchanaburi-Tavoy highway.

ITD’s construction project at the Dawei Development Project was approved in March last year by the Burmese military government. The US $60 billion project includes a deep-sea port, a giant industrial zone, roads, railways, transmission lines, and oil and gas pipelines.

In early July, ITD workers on the Kanchanaburi-Tavoy Highway project were prevented from working by KNLA troops.

The KNLA has warned that construction should be stopped after local villagers complained that the mega-project would have a severe negative impact on the local population and the environment. Displaced villagers also said that they have not been compensated for the loss of their land.

irrawaddy news


Burma Military uses 13-year-old boy to spy on KIA



The Burmese Military Affairs Security Unit (MAS) forced a 13-year-old local boy to spy on the movements of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) at the front lines in Kachin State, the victim’s parents said.
The MAS unit used the boy to observe and take pictures of the activities of KIA Battalion 10, based at Chipwi and under command of Brigade 1, in eastern Kachin State, the parents said.

On July 26, the Burmese Army gave him the camera and forced the boy to take pictures of the position of the bridge between the villages of Chang Zaw and Damu.

The boy was injured by a warning shot fired by KIA soldiers at 8 a.m. that morning, when he tried to enter the area and get the picture. His parents took him to the Chipwi hospital, a villager said.

“We are really angry because they (MAS) did not rescue the boy or take responsibility for his treatment or weather he was afraid, seriously injured or dead,” said a resident from Chipwi.

“MAS (Sa-Ya-Pha) agents were afraid to obtain the information themselves, so they forced a civilian to do it,” said the resident.

A clash took place on July 25 between the KIA’s Battalion 10 and the Burmese Army’s Light Infantry Battalion no. 121, based in Nga Oo, near Chipwi.


Facebook: Hundreds join movement against Burma Army

FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2011 14:24 S.H.A.N.
216 youths have enlisted with the Shan State Army (SSA) “in order to sacrifice their lives for the country and nation”, reported Tai Youth Campaign (TYC) Facebook yesterday.

Tai Youth Campaign group photo

The voluntary signing up took place during the 10-day Nampook battle around Wanhai, the SSA headquarters in Kehsi township, 11-20 July, it says.

They include migrant workers in Rangoon, Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo) and Taunggyi, workers from brokerage firms and truck drivers. “Among them are 26 male degree holders and 13 heroic women,” it says.

One of the new volunteers told SHAN he would be working in the public relations department. “Sao Pang Fa’s refusal to surrender, the courage of his troops to fight despite the odds and the excesses by the Burmese Army against the population had made me decide it is a cause worth fighting and dying for,” said another.

The SSA North, officially the Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) groups that had spurned Naypyitaw’s “one country, one military” program unless the rights to autonomy, democracy and human rights enshrined in the 1947 Panglong Agreement were honored by the country’s military rulers.