Kachin Independence Army (KIA) will participate in a political meeting scheduled for this year between the government and United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a leader of the 88 Generation Students Group said.
Mya Aye, one of the leaders of the pro-democracy student group, disclosed the information at a press briefing held in Yangon on January 10, after his group’s study tour of northern Kachin State from January 3 to 5.
KIA said it would take part in talks during the meeting between KIA Major General Gwan Maw and the 88 Generation Group last week, according to Mya Aye.
“KIA clearly stated that it would attend the meeting between the Myanmar government and UNFC even if a political dialogue is not possible now as the war escalates,” Mya Aye said.
KIA still sticks to the policy of political dialogue and is willing to hold talks only if the government reduces its offensive and guarantees political engagement, he added.
The government has offered to hold preliminary talks beginning in mid-January as part of the peace-making efforts together with UNFC, said Min Zaw Oo, director of Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon, on January 6.
Armed clashes between the Myanmar army and KIA resumed in June 2011, ending a 17-year ceasefire agreement between two sides. About 2,400 small and large skirmishes had occurred up to December.
Railroad aimed at promoting economic development for ethnic minorities
THANBYUZAYAT, Myanmar–The Myanmar government has announced plans to complete a railroad and highway to promote economic development in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities on the route of the Thailand-Burma Railway built by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
The rail link was built to transport military supplies from Thailand to Burma (now Myanmar). The section in eastern Burma was largely abandoned after the war since the area was controlled by armed insurgents associated with ethnic minority groups, such as the New Mon State Party and the Karen National Union.
However, restoration of the route became possible this year after the Myanmar government signed armistice agreements with both the NMSP and KNU.
Aung Min, minister of the President’s Office of Myanmar, who is in charge of peace talks with the two groups, said the railroad and highway would traverse a 100-kilometer stretch of the old railway, starting from Thanbyuzayat, the old railway’s terminus on the Burmese side, to Three Pagodas Pass on its border with Thailand.
The Myanmar government began field surveys on the route in mid-December, and Myanmar President Thein Sein has recently endorsed funds to cover surveying of the highway portion.
The Imperial Japanese Army began construction of the railway in July 1942 to connect Thanbyuzayat with Nong Pladuk, Thailand. The 415-kilometer link was completed in October 1943, and was built by British prisoners of war, Asian laborers and others.
Due to oppressive working conditions and constant epidemics, more than 70,000 workers are said to have died during the construction. An iron bridge of the railway, dubbed the Death Railway, in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, was the setting for the 1957 movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”
Myanmar has announced plans for several special economic zones along the Thai border to aid economic development in areas heavily populated by ethnic minorities, including one in the Three Pagodas Pass area, according to Aung Min.
On the Thai side, a highway has already been built from Bangkok to near Three Pagodas Pass.
In addition to plans to connect with this highway, the government plans to discuss with the Thai side the possibility of reviving the defunct section of the old railway between Myanmar and Namtok, Thailand. It hopes to attract foreign manufacturers through infrastructure improvements in the special economic zones, Aung Min said.
With plans to develop a port near Mawlamyine, capital of Myanmar’s Mon State, a new railroad and highway could become a trade artery connecting India and Europe with Thailand and Vietnam, where many Japanese companies have factories.
While Aung Min said his government welcomes foreign funds in the construction, indicating that overseas development aid would be accepted, he added that Myanmar would also fund the project.
January 12, 2013 1:00 am
Immigration police arrested 307 Rohingya migrants yesterday and plan to send them back to Myanmar, a senior police officer said.
Pol Major Thanusilp Duangkaewngarm, an inspector at the Songkhla Immigration Office, said the 307 Rohingya were found hiding in a warehouse in Ban Dannok village in Sadao district on the Thai-Malaysian border.
The arrests came a day after police rescued 397 Rohingya people, who were lured by a human-trafficking gang and detained at rubber plantation Ban Chaikhuan village also in Sadao district.
Meanwhile, Thanusilp said the 307 Rohingya arrested yesterday had travelled to Thailand voluntarily and hoped to use the Kingdom as a transit point to a third country.
The 307 Rohingya – 230 men, 30 women, 22 boys and 25 girls – will be deported because they entered Thailand illegally, he said.
The 397 Rohingya, who were rescued, will be temporarily detained at four immigration offices.
Police have also arrested four Myanmar citizens, two Rohingya and two Thais for allegedly trafficking and illegally detaining the 397.
Officials yesterday rescued some 400 Rohingya people from Myanmar who had been kept at a rubber plantation for three months by an alleged human-trafficking gang in Songkhla’s Sadao district on the Malaysian border.
The gang reportedly planned to traffic the Rohingya for Bt60,000 per head to clients in Malaysia to work on fishing boats. The authorities raided the plantation in Tambon Padung Besar and rescued the Rohingya, who included five girls and 61 boys under the age of 15.
Police arrested five Rohingya men who were minding the group, and seized a shotgun, a home-made pistol, 10 cellphones and a notebook.
A police investigation found that the Rohingya were smuggled into Thailand via Ranong province and were transported in 10-wheeled trucks to a temporary shelter on the rubber plantation, which reportedly belonged to a local politician. The gang had transported a total of 2,000 Rohingya people in this way before, the police found.
Officials evacuated the Rohingya out of the area and contacted related agencies to aid them, while police continued to investigate the accused human traffickers.