It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Chiang Rai _ An unidentified armed group attacked a Chinese patrol boat on the Mekong river yesterday morning, injuring three Chinese police officers.
''This is a very sensitive international issue because the ambush occurred at a spot near the borders of many countries,'' said Chiang Rai governor Preecha Kamolbutr as he visited the three victims at the hospital yesterday.
The Chinese boat was patrolling the river where it flows between Burma and Laos, under a regional cooperation scheme aimed at fighting drug trafficking in an area renowned for opium and now a major producer of amphetamines.
A second boat carrying half a dozen suspected drug traffickers opened fire as it approached the Chinese vessel, near the border between Burma and Laos, about 10 kilometres to the north of Chiang Rai's Chiang Saen district, navy officials said.
As the boats neared, the attackers boarded the Chinese craft, shooting and stabbing some of the six police before jumping back on their own vessel to escape, said Commander Pakorn Pothichai of the Thai Navy Mission for the Mekong.
The clash lasted about five minutes.
However, Burmese officials admitted the area was under the supervision of an ethnic minority group, led by Knorkham. They said the group had already surrendered to the junta government and has been appointed as a volunteer group to keep order in the area.
Sources said Knorkham is a former aid of late drug kingpin Khun Sa, the leader of the now-defunct Mong Tai Army (MTA) rebel group. The armed group led by Knorkham allegedly extorted money from vendors in Tachilek and tried to expand its influence to other business areas in Laos and along the Mekong. His group often appeared in Burmese soldier's uniforms, the sources added.
Knorkham is also on the wanted list of Thai drug suppression officials.
''Suspects in a heroin case told police the drug belonged to Knorkham,'' said an official of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, referring to a drugs bust in late 2005.
SOURCE | bangkokpost.com | Read more...
It is a bestseller, but barely popular with its readers. The 194-page volume, which hit the bookstands in Burma on April 24, was the long-awaited draft constitution authored by the country's military junta, without consulting most of its people. The draft was published just a fortnight before the people are due to vote on it, apparently as a formality.
By its most widely publicized provision, the draft laid down that "a person who is entitled to the rights and privileges of a foreign government, or a citizen of a foreign country" could not run for office in the envisaged democracy. The provision was clearly meant to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi, the primary symbol of the country's pro-democracy struggle, from holding any office.
Suu Kyi, top leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), has been under house arrest for a total of 12 years now. She had led her party to a landslide victory in the last general election in 1990, and the junta had responded by installing its own rule for an indefinite period. Sixty-two years old now, she will be disqualified for any official post because she had a British husband, Michael Aris, who died in 1999.
The draft, which the junta took 15 years to prepare, also makes sure full civilian rule is not restored and the military is assured of an important place in the new dispensation as well. No less than 25 percent of the seats in both houses of Parliament and state assemblies will be reserved for the Army. More than 75 percent of votes in the Houses, however, will be needed for any change in the constitution. No amendment, in other words, will be possible without the Army's support.
The referendum will not be any the more reliable for the fact that the junta has disallowed any monitoring of the exercise by any United Nations agency or the European Union, as witnessed recently in Pakistan and Nepal. The military rulers, who have rejected such monitoring as a monstrous attack on Burma's "sovereignty," have not so far agreed even to coverage of the event by foreign correspondents.
While unceremoniously rejecting the demands of the pro-democracy camp, the draft seeks to win over the estranged ethnic groups by offering them autonomy of an undefined kind. These armed groups, with the bitter experience of decades-long battles with the junta and the Burmans (the dominant ethnic group), however, are the ones to call for the boycott of the referendum.
Movements of the marginalized groups like the Karens, Shans and Kachins, in fact, have proclaimed they are keeping their powder dry as they fear a ferocious military onslaught on them after the referendum. The Karen National Union (KNU), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Shan State Army (SSA), have fought Rangoon for long, with the KNU carrying on a 60-year-long armed struggle in east Burma. Some of the groups like the SSA had entered into ceasefire agreements with the junta, but may now threaten to revise that stand.
This is not the only reason to fear the referendum may not lead to restoration of democracy and peace. Far more frightening, for some, are rumblings within the junta. The referendum is not popular with all sections of the rulers, to go by some inside accounts. Junta-watchers do not rule out sections loyal to SPDC Vice Chairman Gen. Maung Aye staging a revolt, at an opportune time ahead, against Chairman Than Shwe, the 75-year-old senior general known to be suffering from acute diabetes and breathing problems.
In this precarious, even perilous, pre-referendum situation, what is the stand of the "democratic world," led by the USA?
SOURCE | t r u t h o u t | Read more...