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Online Commentary

The Junta's Mentality and the APC Weapons

Kanbawza Win

Taking into considerations of the Burmese regime's egregious records of human rights violations, if there are any people on earth who harbor serious doubts about the will of the Junta using chemical weapons, maybe two screws lose in their upper storey. Maybe this category of people is under the secret pay roll of the Junta hired to soften the carnage. Previously, the Junta has openly hired lobbying firms for its cause and now may have switched to new tactics and instead contract with some jobless diplomats or a chicanery Burman, whose intellectual capability can be fully used for its ethnic cleansing purpose.

Very lately strong evidence beyond doubt has come up when an eye witness account of how the yellow smoke, with highly irritating odor, came out of the shell that was fired by the Burmese army. In order to camouflage the nerve gas, napalm bombs were drooped so that would burn everything leaving no trace of chemical weapons. The latest casualties were of course five Karenni ethnic fighters who suffered nerve- racking disease duly confirmed by Dr.Martin Panter of the CWS.

Burmese regime has been waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against several major ethnic groups fighting for autonomy for years and this use of chemical was not the first or the last time. This Chemical weapon episode first emerged way back in 1985 when the mighty Burmese Tatmadaw (army) starting testing its chemical weapons. It was in Baegalaw, a Karen village that they first drop the chemicals attached to the balloons, which burst on landings. The simple ordinary villagers did not know what it was and carried on their daily chores.

But when the rains come these chemicals were washed into their crops resulting in dysentery leading to death to more than 20 persons.

In 1988, soon after the Burmese students joined the ethnic fighters, in the battle of Wankha a gas canister were found. Three years later US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) put up the incident to the US congress proving that the Burmese army had acquired chemical weapons including its delivery system since 1981. The Burmese army at once issued an order to stop the use of chemical weapons in order to quiet down hue and cry. But off and on they used it secretly in deep jungles where they construe that nobody would know about it.

Then in the early 1993, dry season offensive, the Burmese army launched its first assault on the KNU headquarters, Manerplaw firing gas projectiles from air and several the gas canisters were gathered by the KNU. However it were already burnt by napalm and cannot be tested as what sort of nerve gas were fired. The suspected chemicals were Sarin and Pulmonary agents. Again the casualties were the resistance fighters.

But the most massive use of chemical weapons combined with napalm bombs were used in early 1995 when the Burmese army launched a big operation on Khawmura base. The KNU fighters experienced that as if acid rain has fallen on them, coughing and nausea pains. Even though these gas casualties were brought to the Thai hospitals a thorough test, as what category of nerve gas was used was never tested by the Thai chemist due to political pressure. For this, one can read the report of a doctor (sorry I cannot reveal his name) "I was asked to re- assess the men involved in the incident on Feb 15 2005. They had already been seen by an English doctor, 5 days after the attack at a Karenni base just inside the Burmese border at Nya My, about 10 km West of Mae Hong Son. They knew enough however to realize that this was something new in their experience of warfare, and needed investigating, thus turned to someone whom they could trust. The English doctor who first examined them, lives in Chaing Mai with his family, I promised to protect his identity, as he did not wish anything such as any potential publicity to jeopardize his status in Thailand . However he conducted very careful and thorough examinations of three of the soldiers effected by this explosive device and took the men, following his examination (With some necessary bribes) to a Thai hospital in Chaing Mai. However when the Thai doctors learned of the alleged cause of their illness, they gave them first aid, refusing any 'tests' whatever, and discharged them. The Karenni refugees, who live in Thailand , are in a very subordinate and fragile relationship with the Thai authorities. Frankly they are scared stiff of them, as most have served time in Thai goals as 'illegal immigrants' often at a 'whim' of the Thai police or border guards, or if they do not have the right documentation on them." So it is no wonder when Thai Border Security Commander, Maj Gen Thanongsak Apirakyothin said that the ethnic nationalities are making this noisy complaint to draw attention from the international community.

As most recently as 2002, the Burmese army again used the chemical weapons, this time a biotoxin known as Yellow Rain. Its effect and use were clearly written Jane's Defense Journal. But the Junta's information Minister Brig. Gen. Kyaw San of the Junta, as usual, lied about it and vehemently argued that Burma has no technology to produce any chemical weapon and besides is Burma is a signatory to an international treaty banning chemical weapons at the Hague , Netherlands Chemical Weapons Convention. However, Kyaw San did not mention that Burma had never rectified that treaty and is at liberty to use it as if conscience may dictate and whims may please. How can one trust them when "Lying the very concept of truth" is their cornerstone policy.

But it is a fact that a German company FitzWarner (Defense Production Company), was and is very prominent in Rangoon , as it is the one to construct a string of Defense Factories all along the Western bank of Irrawaddy River starting from Hsin Dé, Htone Bo etc. From 1978 to1989 the Burmese Army officials, altogether 15 of them were sent to be trained at Germany Army about the APC (Atomic, Pathological and Chemical) production warfare and that a German firm has sold raw materials for chemical warfare to the tune of 16 million Mark and another 7 million Mark worth of completed APC weapons (one can refer to the 1991 German parliamentary debate). We dared not blame the Germans for having a Nazi mentality as it is hereditary but what we would like to emphasis is that Kyaw San words were hallow.   

Of course the Germans were proud to claim that they were the first to use these APC warfare way back in the First World War when it deploy 160 tons of chlorine gas against the allies and the British were the first to suffer. Then it improved it on to mustard gas that paralyze the nerve of the body. But in the Second World War, the Germans used a more advance type called Posterior and Nerve Agents. In the Iran- Iraq war Saddam use these chemical weapons, which was very much publicized. In the extermination of the ethnic Kurds , Iraq continue to use this gas and it is no wonder that the Burmese army has got the mentality and the capability to use these APC weapons in its ethnic cleansing policy. Yesterday, they have used it on the Karen; today they are using it on Karenni and who can say tomorrow they will use it on the Shan for daring to declare independence.

If it is an emotive allegations that all the atrocities committed by the Burmese Army are to be denounced and condemned in no certain terms, as some Junta's advocates claim, then why didn't they come to Chiangmai and take 15 minutes flight to Mae Hong Son to see things for themselves? It will carry more weight instead of crowing with their computers. Or are we trying to frame Burma issue in a way that would sound an alarm and put the country on the radar screen of policy makers that Burma was 'rogue' state ruled by the mad generals who must not be entrusted with any chemical weapons or even allowed to entertain the dreams, that would be a threat to peace and security of the region? If so why is the Burmese army selling arms (including chemical weapons) to the Muslim militants of India and Bangladesh (see the Indian papers) Walter Cronkite, (dean of American journalism) said 'the first causality of war is Truth and that Truths can be prostituted for political and financial gains. If it were to prove it otherwise why didn't the Junta allow the international inspection team to inspect their defence industries in the West bank of Irrawaddy and Inya lake or let the neutral team to interview the ethnic women for rapes and refute the allegations? Actions speak louder than words. All in all it is for the international community to decide whether to let Burma 's ethnic tribes in the list of vanishing tribes of the world and let the Burmese army do the dirty jobs of the killing field.

Chiang Mai

The views express here are solely the opinion of the author. (Kaowao's Editor)


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