Intelligence (July 2008)
covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, June 20, 2024

Intelligence (July 2008)



Karens Return to Delta

Many Karen refugees and members of the Karen National Union (KNU) have returned to the Irrawaddy delta to assist the humanitarian relief effort and visit their families in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. Taking advantage of security lapses in Burma during the crisis, Karens who have been living along the Thai-Burmese border were able to sneak back to the delta region, where many have become actively involved in the relief mission, according to Karen sources. Several Rangoon-based Christian churches have played an important role in delivering aid to refugees and cyclone victims in the delta. A large number of Karens, both Buddhist and Christian, live in the Irrawaddy delta, which was a KNU stronghold until the 1970s.

High IQs May be Needed for Officers Seeking Plum Jobs

Three army officers who served as rectors at Burmese military academies were transferred to regional commander positions in the recent military reshuffle in June.
Brig-Gen Soe Win, Brig-Gen Ya Pye and Brig-Gen Kyaw Phyo were all tapped to occupy the prestigious and powerful command positions, which are regarded as gateways to higher responsibilities in the military government. 

Observers noted that the reshuffle of military academy rectors could signal that the junta’s top leaders are increasingly looking to fill higher level command positions with better educated officers.

The regional commander positions have been traditionally filled by battle-hardened officers, many of whom served on the frontlines. Some observers speculated that the decision to name well-educated brigadier-generals as regional military commanders could be linked to the regime’s preparations for the general election in 2010.

However, the strategic position of Rangoon commander was recently filled by Brig-Gen Win Myint, who commanded Light Infantry Division 77 in Pegu. Win Myint’s troops were involved in crushing the monk-led uprising in September 2007.

Drug Scam Suspected

Ecstasy pills are a popular illegal drug in Rangoon and other cities.
Not content with siphoning off some of the cyclone relief supplies for their own use, senior Burmese government officials and their cronies are now suspected of smuggling illegal drugs into the country disguised as foreign aid.

Police and customs officials believe ecstasy pills are being smuggled into Burma as part of shipments of relief aid from Burmese communities abroad. Sources said six customs officials were suspected of involvement but were released after interrogation.

Investigation of the suspected scam is holding up the clearance of containers at Rangoon port, and humanitarian agencies are reported to be worried that their relief supplies could also be delayed.

In May, the son of a senior general and a business crony were caught in a police dragnet operation searching for drug users among Burma’s high rollers.

Aung Zaw Ye Myint, son of Lt-Gen Ye Mint, and a business friend, Maung Waik, were arrested on suspicion of trafficking in ecstasy pills. Lt-Gen Ye Myint is reported to have lost his job in a recent military reshuffle, but it’s not known if his son’s activities had anything to do with his dismissal.

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