PANGLONG NEWS 17.JULY 2013
Burmese officials on the hunt for North Korean hostages in Tachilek, opposite Thailand’s Chiang Mai, say they still have no news on their presence in Burmese soil.
“The last we heard of North Koreans on their way to Thailand was 4 years earlier,” a security officer who asked not to be named told SHAN. “They had mistaken the Burmese shore north of Tachilek for Thai territory and had embarked there. We told them to return to where they came from.”
The Mekong, beginning from China and flowing past Burma and Thailand in the West and Laos and Cambodia in the West to Vietnam into the Pacific, has long been a means of travel and transportation for people in the region especially after its rapids were demolished by the Chinese a decade earlier.
Apart from the Burma Army, there are Burma Army-run People’s Militia Forces (PMFs) and Border Guard Force (BGF) 1008 and elements of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) active in the area.
Burmese officials interviewed by SHAN also maintained that there are no poppy fields in areas northeast of Tachilek. SHAN’s Shan Drug Watch researchers have reported existence of poppy fields northwest of Tachilek. “It’s been a few years since we have received any reports of poppy fields in the northeast,” said a researcher.
The Burmese officer interviewed by SHAN wondered whether the 64 North Koreans as reported by AFP on 13 July were actually in the neighboring territory, meaning Laos.
Burma, Laos and Thailand meet at what is now known as the Golden Triangle.