Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 10:31 GMT

Chronology for Karens in Burma

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Karens in Burma, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3871b.html [accessed 24 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Jan 1990 The Burmese army has captured one of the last jungle strongholds of the Karen guerrillas, forcing another 2000 civilians to flee into Thailand (Reuters, 01/26/90). One soldier and eight guerrillas were killed in the offensive.
Apr 1990 Burmese troops, who have in the past year ousted Karen guerrillas from all but two major camps, are reported to be advancing toward the Karen headquarters at Manerplaw near the Thai border. Karen officials claimed 400 Burmese troops were killed in fighting during the second week of April, but said guerrilla casualties are few (Reuters, 04/23/90).
May 1990 A spokesman for the All Burma Students Democratic Front asserted that elections set for May should be boycotted because Rangoon's military government would keep its grip on power regardless of the results (Reuters, 05/15/90).
Nov 1990 A large group of Burmese opposition members and dissident monks are fleeing to the Thai border following an army crackdown in Mandalay. Troops have been ordered to intercept them. The politicians are thought to belong to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), many of whose members were detained last month when monks refused to minister to the religious needs of soldiers in Mandalay.
Mar 1991 A Burmese government report stated that a total of 818 rebels were killed in the past year, 279 were captured, and 115 surrendered. It also said troops seized 605 pounds of raw opium, 53 fishing trawlers, 696 mines and 603 detonators (The Associated Press, 03/25/91).
Apr 1991 A major Burmese offensive involving the use of artillery and air strikes against ethnic Karen guerrillas has captured 10 insurgent camps and left more than 100 soldiers dead, the official Rangoon TV reported (UPI, 04/04/91).
Oct 1991 The government indicates that its forces have killed 247 Karen rebels and captured 6 during fighting in October, while 17 soldiers and 18 policemen died (Reuters, 11/01/91).
Mar 1992 Burmese forces on an offensive against ethnic rebels intruded into Thailand, sparking a gun battle with Thai troops that left at least 8 soldiers dead and 3 wounded. Thailand warned that it would take "drastic action" if Burmese incursions continue (UPI, 03/17/92). Gen Bo Mya, President of the Karen National Union (KNU) guerrilla group, has called on the UN to investigate human rights violations committed by Burmese troops. He also called on the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo against the Burmese junta (AFP, 03/24/92).
Apr 1992 EC member states, who have stopped sales of military equipment to Burma, appealed for a worldwide ban on arms sales to pressure Rangoon into halting action against Burmese Muslims and Karen separatists (Reuters, 04/15/92). Burma's government called off a military offensive against Karen guerrillas that had come close to crushing the insurgency. Rangoon Radio announced on April 28 that "The Karen state offensive has been suspended for the sake of national unity and goodwill" (The Guardian, 04/29/92).
Oct 1992 Burmese government troops have attacked a Karen guerrilla position despite Rangoon's announcement that it had suspended military operations against the ethnic insurgents, a guerrilla official said. Thai officials state that about 500 guerrillas from the Karen National Progressive Party (KNPP), an ethnic insurgent group, captured a SLORC military base in eastern Burma. 19 soldiers were killed and 2 captured, while KNPP casualties were 3 dead and seven wounded (AFP, 10/08/92).
Nov 1992 9 Thais, including 6 soldiers, were killed in an attack inside Thailand by Karen guerrillas from Burma, Thai national TV reported (AFP, 11/10/92). Thai border police have rounded up 21 suspected Karen rebels in connection with the attack on a police outpost.
Jan 1993 According to a Karen official, Burmese guerrilla and opposition leaders convened a meeting of the shadow government, the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) at their jungle headquarters (AFP, 01/04/93). The meeting was aimed to parallel Rangoon's planned January 9 national convention that is to establish a new constitution.
Feb 1993 A group of Nobel Peace laureates promised thousands of refugees at the Thai-Burmese border that they would be able to return to a peaceful and democratic country (UPI, 02/18/93). The group of Seven are on a mission to put pressure on Rangoon's military regime to release the democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and restore democracy in Burma. Rangoon turned down visa requests by the laureates.
May 1993 A state run newspaper asserts that two Burmese politicians, members of the NLD-led shadow government, have surrendered to military authorities because they say the dissident government is riddled with internal strife and dominated by KNU (AFP, 05/21/93).
Oct 1993 The KNU guerrilla army, the largest force still fighting the military government in Rangoon, has repeated its demand that all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi be released before peace talks can begin. The KNU said the junta must announce an unconditional nationwide ceasefire and agree to a round-table discussion with all opposition groups, represented by the DAB, before it would agree to peace talks in the presence of international mediators.
Nov 1993 A UN Committee unanimously approved a resolution deploring Burma's human rights record and the lack of progress toward genuine democracy. The resolution is expected to be passed by the General Assembly. An Amnesty International report contends that the military is continuing severe human rights violations, including detention, torture and murder.
Dec 1993 Ethnic insurgent and pro-democracy groups are considering peace talks with the junta to end more than 40 years of conflict AP, 12/06/93). At a recent meeting, members of the opposition alliance decided to offer to send a delegation to Rangoon for preliminary talks. The alliance has also insisted on collective negotiations with the junta.
Jan 1994 Dr. Marta, the foreign affairs spokesman of the KNU said that his organization would have to negotiate separately with the SLORC, as the group was under tremendous pressure from the Thai authorities to do so (South China Morning Post, 01/08/94). KNU leaders have said Thailand, which used to dominate Burma's extensive logging, fish and gem business, was trying to appease the junta after Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia received lucrative contracts in Rangoon.
Jan 18, 1994 A new session of the National Constitutional Convention opened in Rangoon
Feb 1994 The KNU has decided to participate in peace talks with the junta. The DAB, headed by the KNU, had been attempting to persuade the SLORC to engage in peace talks with all the rebel factions at the same time.
Jul 1994 The Burmese Foreign Minister's appearance at a meeting of the ASEAN provides a "unique opportunity to facilitate the preliminary dialogue that may bring peace to Burma," the KNU President said (The Plain Dealer, 07/22/94). The group has asked the Foreign Ministers to arrange peace talks with the military junta.
Jan 1995 Myanmar's army won an important victory when it overran the KNU's headquarters at Manerplaw on January 27. It was the first time Manerplaw had been captured since the guerrillas began fighting for independence more than 40 years ago. Western diplomats in Bangkok said the attack with powerful Chinese weapons would throw doubt on ASEAN's policy of "constructive engagement" with Rangoon. Last December the junta broke the unilateral ceasefire it declared in 1992 to take advantage of a split in the KNU. The SLORC has been successful in exploiting religious differences between the KNU leadership, which is primarily Christian, and a group of KNU followers who are primarily Buddhist. A group of Buddhists apparently formed a new organization, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Organization (DKBO), and defected to the government side, taking along details of defense works and minefields leading to the guerrilla camps along the Thai border. One report suggests that the DKBO has 500 guerrillas, while the Christian-led KNU commands the remaining 3,500 (Financial Times, 01/28/95). The EC has allocated ECU 240,000 for a medical aid program for the Karens to be carried out in the Thai border camps, where about 70,000 Karen refugees live.
Feb 1995 A Japanese volunteer fighting for the KNU was killed in an attack by government troops. The man is believed to be the first Japanese fighting alongside the Karens. Five French volunteers, an American and an Australian had been killed in the conflict between the Karens and the government forces from 1986 to 1992.
Feb 6, 1995 More than 800 Karen guerrillas have been sent back to Burma after they sought refuge in Thailand following an attack by Burmese government forces on their headquarters at Manerplaw. More than 6000 civilians and guerrillas fled Manerplaw at the end of January (Reuters, 02/06/95).
Feb 9, 1995 More than 3000 Burmese government troops and about 300 members of the Democratic Kayin (Karen) Buddhist Army (the DKBA, the military arm of the DKBO) have been fighting Karen guerrillas at Kawmoora for the past week. Around 1000 Karens are trying to defend their last major stronghold, located at the Thai-Burmese border. Sources indicate that over 50 soldiers and at least 3 Karens have died so far (Reuters, 02/09/95).
Feb 12, 1995 A senior leader of the Karen National Union (KNU) has been kidnapped from a Thai refugee camp by the DKBA and taken back into a government controlled zone in Burma (Reuters, 02/12/95).
Feb 15, 1995 Thailand has denied Rangoon's allegations that it is supporting the Karen guerrillas. A Thai military commander states that all access from Thailand to the Kawmoora base has been cut off (Reuters, 02/15/95).
Feb 21, 1995 Burmese forces have taken over control of the Karen base at Kawmoora. The Karen National Union alleges that government troops fired chemical shells in their final assault on the camp. A Thai army commander says that his forces are investigating reports about the alleged use of chemical weapons. At least seven guerrillas were killed and over twenty injured during the assault at Kawmoora (Reuters, 02/21/95).
Feb 22, 1995 More than 10,000 Karens have fled to Thailand since the government launched its military offensive against the ethnic group last December. There are already over 60,000 Karen in Thai camps along the Thai-Burma border (Reuters, 02/22/95).
Feb 26, 1995 Thailand has offered to act as a mediator between the Burmese government and the Karen guerrillas. During the government's campaign against the Karen bases at Manerplaw and Kawmoora, hundreds of shells landed on the Thai side of the border, forcing hundreds of Thai civilians to flee from their homes. Officials in Bangkok indicate that any further violation of Thai territory could lead to a re-evaluation of the "constructive engagement" policy with the Burmese regime (Reuters, 02/26/95).
Mar 1995 Karen guerrillas have attacked an army staging post in southeastern Burma. Two people were killed and more than ten injured (Reuters, 03/01/95).
Mar 2, 1995 Two refugees were seriously wounded when a rebel faction of the KNU (likely the DKBA) kidnapped a senior KNU official from a Thai refugee camp and took him into government-held territory in Burma (Reuters, 03/02/95).
Mar 9, 1995 The leader of the Karen National Union, General Bo Mya, says that his people will seek a share of the benefits from a planned natural gas pipeline that is to be built through its territory to Thailand. Mya plans to initiate talks with the French and American companies that are due to build the pipeline. Human rights workers allege that thousands of Mon and Karen villagers have been relocated in order to make way for the pipeline. Further, tens of thousands of people in southeast Burma have reportedly been forcibly conscripted in order to build a railway line to support the pipeline project. The military regime contends that the workers have freely volunteered their labor (Reuters, 03/09/95).
Mar 19, 1995 General Bo Mya is stepping down after more than 21 years as commander-in-chief and president of the Karen National Union. Mya's decision follows recent setbacks for the KNU, including the loss of its major strongholds on the Thai-Burmese border. A new leader will be chosen at the next party congress (Reuters, 03/19/95).
Mar 23, 1995 A government attack near Myawadi in southeast Burma resulted in the deaths of four Karen villagers and led approximately 3000 others to flee to Thailand. The KNU's temporary headquarters at Kanaelay was also overrun this week by Burmese troops (Reuters, 03/23/95).
Apr 1995 Over 100 Burmese troops and members of the DKBA crossed over into Thailand and set fire to a Karen refugee camp. More than 3000 refugees fled to another camp further inside Thai territory. Relief workers assert that the campaign of terror against the refugees is meant to drive them back into government-controlled areas in Burma and to deprive the KNU of its civilian base. The UNHCR has asked Bangkok to move all the Karen refugee camps further away from the Burmese border (Reuters, 04/26/95; Reuters, 04/28/95).
Apr 28, 1995 The Karen National Union has set a deadline of May 5 for a resumption of offensive operations, arguing that peace overtures to the military government had failed. The KNU had declared a unilateral suspension of attacks on March 24 and offered to open talks with the SLORC (Reuters, 04/28/95).
May 1995 Three Thai policemen were killed when over 40 members of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) attacked their checkpoint in northwestern Thailand (05/03/95).
May 5, 1995 Thai military forces, using helicopter gunships, launched a cross-border attack against a DKBA camp. No information was available on casualties. Thailand has also sent more than 1000 reinforcements to protect over 70,000 Karen refugees located in camps along the Thai-Burma border. Meanwhile, reports indicate that hundreds of Karen refugees are returning to Burma convinced that it is the only place they will find peace (Reuters, 05/05/95 & 05/06/95).
May 7, 1995 The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) says that it will cease its cross-border raids as it does not want to risk a war with Thailand (Reuters, 05/07/95).
May 10, 1995 Thai officials raided Karen refugee camps inside their territory and confiscated weapons belonging to the refugees (Reuters, 05/10/95).
May 16, 1995 Karen guerrillas have attacked a government army base in southeastern Thailand. Two soldiers were killed while ten others and two guerrilla fighters were wounded (Reuters, 05/16/95).
Jun 1995 The Burmese government has launched another military offensive against the Karen. More than 1000 troops attacked a Karen base near Myawadi which is close to the Thai-Burma border. No information was available on any casualties (Reuters, 06/08/95).
Jun 16, 1995 Forty-seven Karen guerrillas have surrendered to Burmese military authorities after they were ordered to assassinate U Thuzana, the leader of a rival Karen faction. Thuzana's group broke away from the KNU two months ago and joined forces with the government (Reuters, 06/16/95).
Jul 1995 Three people were killed and two wounded during a Karen attack against a Burmese army barracks in the northern town of Myawadi (Reuters, 07/12/95).
Jul 24, 1995 The Karen National Union began a week-long congress that is expected to purge the organization's old guard and pave the way for peace talks with the government. General Bo Mya will likely be replaced by Shwe Hser who is regarded as a pragmatist. The KNU is expected to follow the example of the 15 other ethnic groups that have reached ceasefire agreements with the military junta (Reuters, 07/24/95).
Dec 1995 An eight-year old girl was killed in a Thai village during a cross-border attack by the DKBA. Earlier this week, the DKBA raided a Karen refugee camp, wounding two people as it stole food and cash from the refugees (Reuters, 12/28/95).
Jan 3, 1996 A group of 20 Thai border patrol policemen was ambushed yesterday on the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese border by armed men possibly belonged to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) (British Broadcasting Corporation, 01/03/96).
Jan 13, 1996 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is holding talks with the Myanmar government to facilitate the return of over 80,000 Burmese refugees when things return to normal. Thailand has called on the Myanmar authorities to ensure the safety of Karen refugees as the Karens have not concluded a ceasefire agreement with the government. Some 75,000 refugees have been living in 18 camps along the Thai-Burma border since 1984, with another 10,000 living outside the camps, building shelters in forests and Thai villages (Xinhua News Agency, 01/13/96).
Jan 15, 1996 A spokesman for the Karen National Union (KNU) says that more government troops have been sent to KNU areas since last December's surrender of Khun Sa and his Shan group, the Mong Tai Army. Along with the Karens, the Naga and Arakanese minorities remain opposed to the domination of the majority Burmese government (Inter Press Service, 01/15/96).
Jan 17, 1996 A United Nations official says that sources indicate that in Karen state there has been an increase in forced labor, physical abuse, appalling living conditions and arbitrary killings of porters who are unable to perform their tasks (Inter Press Service, 01/17/96).
Feb 1, 1996 Earlier this week, more than 80 Karen families fled to refugee camps at the border near to Mae Hong Son, a Thai town 920 kilometers northwest of the Thai capital. Aid workers state that since the middle of last year, as many as 1,000 new refugees have been crossing the border each month (Inter Press Service, 02/01/96).
Feb 12, 1996 Thai border police report that around 1000 Burmese civilians fled to Thailand's western province of Tak to escape fighting between the Karen National Union (KNU) rebels and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) (Xinhua News Agency, 02/12/96).
Feb 14, 1996 The Karen National Union has begun a second round of peace talks with the SLORC. The talks are the result of last December's preliminary negotiations. The KNU says that in conducting a dialogue with the SLORC the basic interests of the Karens and all other peoples in Burma will remain at the forefront (United Press International, 02/14/96).
Feb 21, 1996 A top-ranking Karen National Union (KNU) delegation is in Rangoon for meetings with the government, but Karen officials warn they remain skeptical and wary of the military' s commitment (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/21/96).
Feb 26, 1996 Saw Ba Thin, the secretary-general of the KNU, says last month's second round of talks with the SLORC failed to make any progress. The government rejected the KNU's call for the restoration of peace in the country through tripartite negotiations, which would include representatives of the National League for Democracy (NLD), all ethnic groups in Burma under the National Council of Union of Burma, (NCUB) and the SLORC. The KNU secretary-general says that SLORC representatives insisted that only a ceasefire agreement was necessary while efforts were made to secure national reconciliation, and they refused to sign any political agreement on the restoration of a permanent peace in the Union of Burma (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/26/96).
Apr 3, 1996 A Burmese opposition group asserts that villagers in southeastern Burma have been tortured and forced out of their homes after an attack on a field office of Total, the French oil company. Eleven Karen villagers were taken from their homes by junta troops on February 12 and tortured for allegedly having contact with the attackers, allegedly guerrillas of the Karen National Union. Total and the American petroleum company Unocal are cooperating with the governments of Burma and Thailand in the construction of a gas pipeline from the rich offshore fields in the Gulf of Martaban to Thailand (Agence France Presse, 04/03/96).
Apr 29, 1996 Representatives from the KNU traveled to Myawaddy, a Myanmar border town 250 kilometers east of Yangon, to meet with military officials in a bid to end hostilities. The six-member delegation, led by General Mahn Sha, deputy secretary of the Karen National Union, is expected to strike a ceasefire deal to end 46 years of insurgency warfare following two rounds of talks that began late last year. The KNU has demanded that the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) agree to a comprehensive peace accord, including political concessions and other benefits (Japan Economic Newswire, 04/29/96).
May 10, 1996 The National Council of the Union of Burma, the self-declared "federal parliament" of the opposition, meets near the Thai border at the headquarters of the Karens. The NCUB is a coalition of ethnic minorities and democratic opposition groups in Burma. General Mya, the chairman of the KNU, heads the NCUB (Agence France Presse, 05/10/96).
May 23, 1996 A land-mine explosion derails a train traveling from Mandalay to Rangoon, killing nine people and seriously injuring seven. Authorities blame the attack on Karen guerrillas (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/23/96).
Jun 1, 1996 Two Thai non-governmental organizations (NGOS) report that summary executions and other human rights abuses have occurred in the building of a natural gas pipeline from Burma's Yadana field to Thailand. Rebel groups have attacked the pipeline route three times in the past 14 months. Last March, Karen guerillas killed five Burmese employed by Total, the French oil company. In response, the Burmese army executed 11 Karens (South China Morning Post, 06/01/96).
Jun 14, 1996 A Burmese dissident group says that the Karen National Union (KNU) will hold a second round of ceasefire talks with the ruling military junta in the south of the country next week. KNU officials were unavailable to confirm the report (Agence France Presse, 06/14/96).
Jun 15, 1996 Thai Border police report that a Karen faction allied to the Burmese junta (likely the DKBA) lobbed shells into a Thai camp housing over 7,000 refugees. One Karen woman was killed (Agence France Presse, 06/15/96).
Jun 17, 1996 The governments of Thailand and Burma sign an agreement to exploit the offshore Yetagun gas field in the Gulf of Martaban of the Andaman Sea and export the natural gas to Thailand. The agreement was criticized by opponents of Burma's ruling junta who argue that the deal will benefit the military and hurt ethnic minority groups based in areas through which the gas pipeline will pass. Rebel groups state that Karen and Mon villagers have been forced from their homes in order to make way for the pipeline (United Press International, 06/17/96).
Jun 24, 1996 Sources indicate that in the past four months alone, Burmese troops have forced more than 100,000 villagers from their homes which are located in areas along the Thai border. Many Karens reside in these areas. The forced relocations of the villagers have increased the number of persons in Thai refugee camps. Thailand says immigrants from Burma constitute the majority of its estimated 700,000-strong illegal workforce (Agence France Presse, 06/24/96).
Jun 28, 1996 The Karen National Union sends an 11-member delegation led by Supreme Commander General Tamla Baw to continue the dialogue with the country's junta. This is the fourth round of truce talks. In January, KNU leader Bo Mya said he would like to achieve a genuine political dialogue with the SLORC and not just a ceasefire agreement. The KNU first began peace talks last December (Japan Economic Newswire, 06/28/96).
Aug 25, 1996 The DKBA renews its attacks on refugee camps in Thailand. A former KNU officer is killed (Agence France Presse, 08/25/96).
Aug 26, 1996 The DKBA injures two soldiers from Thailand's paramilitary border patrol police in an ambush on Thai soil. Two officials of a refugee camp were also taken hostage and Thai villagers were robbed (Agence France Presse, 08/26/96).
Oct 11, 1996 A senior military official says Burma plans to disarm all ethnic minority groups after drafting a new constitution. This is the first time a SLORC official has publicly announced its plans for ethnic minority groups in a post-constitution period, which is not expected in the near future (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 10/11/96).
Oct 16, 1996 Karen rebels assert that they will have to strike back using urban guerrilla tactics if the regime pushes them to the wall. The KNU says the targets will be military installations and factories in Rangoon and other towns and cities. However, the KNU states it will take strict measures to avoid civilian injuries. It says that it is refraining from attacks as peace talks are occurring (Agence France Presse, 10/16/96).
Oct 18, 1996 Reports indicate that the Burmese military government is demanding the unconditional surrender of the Karens instead of continuing with negotiations for a ceasefire. At the second round of talks in February this year, the 12-member KNU delegation tabled a 12-point proposal. While the members of the government's negotiating panel accepted the majority of the KNU's general demands, they categorically rejected five controversial issues. These included the declaration of a nationwide ceasefire by the government, the holding of a bilateral discussion on the political rights of the ethnic minorities within 30 days after the truce, and the holding of a tripartite dialogue between SLORC, KNU (and other ethnic groups), and the National League for Democracy (NLD). SLORC representatives reportedly insisted that they were a temporary administrative body and were in no position to discuss any political questions on ethnic rights and self-determination. They also warned the Karens to stick to bilateral issues (The Nation, 10/18/96). During the third round of negotiations in late July, the military told the Karen delegates that while the ethnic group will be allowed to retain its arms up to a certain period, it would have to eventually abandon its armed struggle and "return to the legal fold". The fact that the Burmese junta attempted to impose this condition of surrender only on the KNU, and not on some 15 other armed ethnic groups that had earlier agreed to a ceasefire with Rangoon, has heightened the Karens' belief that SLORC wants to use force to wipe out the Karen, historically its most stubborn enemy. SLORC's tougher stance against the KNU is believed to be the result of the surprise surrender in January of opium warlord Khun Sa and his Shan forces who turned over a large stockpile of weapons. His surrender not only helped strengthen the government's military power but also allowed the Burmese army to concentrate their efforts on the remaining KNU strongholds (Ibid.). A Karen rebel leader urges the United Nations to expel the Burmese junta from the world body and replace it with the party led by Nobel Prize laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (Ibid.).
Oct 20, 1996 Thai police and rebel sources indicate that Burmese troops clashed with KNU forces near the Thai border. More than 2000 Burmese troops have been deployed in the past week, bringing the total forces in the area to more than 4000 (Agence France Presse, 10/20/96).
Oct 26, 1996 Burma's state-run radio says 33 KNU insurgents have surrendered to the ruling military authorities (Agence France Presse, 10/26/96).
Dec 3, 1996 General Khin Nyunt, a senior Burmese intelligence official, says that success in ceasefire negotiations with the ethnic Karen National Union (KNU) appears to hinge on a technical issue regarding arms. The military government has required all ethnic groups to discard their armed struggle before being accepted into the "legal fold" (Agence France Presse, 12/03/96).
Dec 5, 1996 The Karen National Union (KNU) says it is willing to attend a fifth round of peace talks with Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) government but it expects another military offensive against the group (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/05/96).
Dec 9, 1996 The international aid organization, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), asks a Thai hospital near Burma to help prepare for the possible influx of refugees following the likely failure of peace talks between the Burmese government and the Karen National Union (KNU) (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/09/96).
Dec 13, 1996 Some 100 Burmese people protest at the Unocal oil pipeline construction site. Thirteen are arrested. Reports indicate that the Mon and Karen are being used as forced labor on the site (Agence France Presse, 12/13/96).
Dec 25, 1996 Five people are killed and 18 wounded when two bomb blasts rock a Buddhist temple complex in Rangoon that is frequented by government officials. The site has been housing the Buddha's Sacred Tooth Relic, which was brought over from China this month. The relic was not damaged. The junta blames the All Burma Students' Democratic Front and the Karen National Union for the bombings, which it says were aimed at destroying the relic and undermining relations with China. China is the chief arms supplier to Burma. Exiled Burmese students and the Karens strongly deny any involvement. The ABSDF says it believes that SLORC organized the bombings to discredit the pro-democracy movement and give it an excuse for a renewed crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators (Agence France Presse, 12/26/96; Deutsche Presse-Agentur, December 28, 1996; The New York Times, 12/27/96).
Jan 2, 1997 The government says that the Christmas Day bombing of a Buddhist sanctuary in Rangoon will not obstruct talks with the KNU, which the junta blames for the blast (Agence France Presse, 01/02/97).
Jan 4, 1997 Two people are dead following an attack on a refugee camp in Thailand by pro-Burma forces (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/04/97).
Jan 15, 1997 Representatives of fifteen ethnic groups from across Burma, including the Karen National Union, attended a meeting in Karen-held territory on January 15. The groups signed the Mae Tha Raw Hta agreement which calls for the establishment of a democratic, federal union in Burma. Among those present at the meeting were representatives of the Kachin, Wa, Karenni, and Mon groups with whom the ruling junta has signed ceasefire agreements over the last few years. The delegates also expressed support for Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and for the need for a tripartite dialogue between the Burmese regime, the NLD, and ethnic groups. The State Law and Order Restoration Council's (SLORC) efforts to draft a new constitution were described as a "sham" (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97)
Jan 29, 1997 Thai and United Nations officials state that more than 100 soldiers have crossed the border from Burma into Thailand, burning two refugee camps, killing at least three people and leaving about 8000 others homeless. The soldiers are members of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, a Karen faction supported by the ruling junta (United Press International, 01/29/97).
Jan 30, 1997 Thailand's top army general says the Burmese government is not to blame for cross-border incursions into Thailand that have left at least nine people dead in the past three days. Thai Army Commander-in-Chief General Chetha Thanacharo says the attacks were carried out by a renegade faction of Burma's Karen minority (United Press International, 01/30/97). The United States deplores this week's attacks on refugee camps in Thailand by Burmese-backed Karen rebels and calls on Rangoon to cease its support for the DKBA (Agence France Presse, 01/30/97).
Feb 1, 1997 Three, likely DKBA, members are killed after a clash with Thai troops after the government-supported Karens attacked three refugee camps in the Thai border area of Tak province (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/01/97).
Feb 1997 Seventeen ethnic rebel factions including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Karen National Union (KNU) meet in KNU-controlled territory under the banner of the newly-revived National Democratic Front (NDF). The NDF fought against the military in the 1970s and 1980s until the KIA signed a cease-fire agreement with the government in 1992 . A spokesman says that several rebel groups are set to renege on their cease-fire deals and resume fighting. Reports indicate that the government has launched a military offensive in Karen areas to stop the groups from reuniting (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97; Reuters, 02/06/97).
Feb 3, 1997 Burma's military government says the DKBA is responsible for the torching of three refugee camps inside the Thai border in the past week. It says they were responding to an attack on one of their villages in December by members of the Karen National Union (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/03/97).
Feb 4, 1997 Thailand summons the Burmese Ambassador to Bangkok to register a diplomatic protest against cross-border raids on Karen refugee camps last week that violated Thai territory and left thousands of refugees homeless. The Thai Foreign Ministry says that Rangoon wants to stop the cross-border raids by shifting the refugee camps into Burma (Agence France Presse, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/04/97).
Feb 5, 1997 Thailand informs the United Nations that Karen refugees in the north of the country who face attack from pro-Rangoon guerrillas are to be moved to safer locations (Agence France Presse, 02/05/97).
Feb 9, 1997 The KNU expects intensive attacks will be launched against its strongholds across from the Thai border as it reports that some 10,000 government troops are heading east toward the area (Japan Economic Newswire, 02/09/97).
Feb 13, 1997 About 16,000 Karen refugees arrive in Thailand after Burmese troops attack Karen National Union (KNU) guerrilla camps in Burma. Border police sources in the Umphang district of northern Thailand state that the refugees had scattered into the jungle. After two days of heavy fighting, KNU troops torched their most recent headquarters at Htikapler, a 15-minute walk into Burma from Thailand. The KNU says its next headquarters will be mobile and preparations have been made. The KNU used a mobile headquarters in 1949 when it started its armed struggle until it settled down in Manerplaw in 1974, said Mahn Sha, who was the KNU negotiator for seven rounds of peace talks with the SLORC between December 1995 and November 1996 (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/19/97; The Guardian, 02/14/97).
Feb 16, 1997 Foreign aid officials are baffled as to why Burmese refugees in Thailand have not been protected from attacks by allies of Rangoon's junta. Thousands of Karen refugees face the threat of disease after fleeing to the jungles of western Thailand to escape Burmese troops who captured a rebel headquarters. More than 100,000, mostly Karen, refugees already in Thailand are living in fear of cross-border raids by the DKBA, reportedly acting on the orders of the State Law and Order Restoration Council. Reports indicate that the attacks against refugee camps are due to the KNU's role in organizing January's meeting among 15 ethnic groups. The SLORC is reportedly concerned that the ethnic groups will unite and it is growing impatient in not being able to get the Karens to sign a peace agreement (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97; South China Morning Post, 02/16/97).
Feb 17, 1997 The Karen National Union blames the ruling junta for the breakdown in peace talks. The SLORC sent a peace delegation to the KNU's headquarters on January 31st and they reportedly informed the KNU that if it does not give up its armed struggle and return to the legal fold, the SLORC military intelligence department will stop the talks. The KNU, however, urged the delegation to reconsider what it proposed in its three main points. The KNU told the delegation that it would like to continue the dialogue for the peace of the country. In the beginning of February, the SLORC broke off the dialogue and began a military offensive in Karen areas. Thousands of Karens have abandoned their villages, some of which have been burnt down, and many are being forced to become porters for the army (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/17/97).
Feb 19, 1997 The United States criticizes Burma for sending its military against Karen civilians near the Thailand border saying it is "deeply disturbed" by the attacks (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/19/97).
Feb 20, 1997 Relief officials say the Burmese army's latest offensive against Karen rebels has increased the number of refugees fleeing into northern Thailand to more than 100,000. The influx of mainly Karen and Mon refugees into the northern provinces of Mae Sot and Tak is the biggest mass exodus into Thailand since the Cambodian refugee crisis of the early 1980s. According to figures from the Burmese Border Consortium, a total of 101,175 refugees from Burma are taking shelter in camps along the Thai border. More than 79,000 of them are Karens in 23 camps aided by the consortium, which is a collection of non-governmental relief organizations. The Christian-led Karen National Union has borne the brunt of the Burmese junta's latest military offensive. In the past week between 12,000 and 15,000 Karens, mainly women and children, have fled to Thailand to escape Burmese artillery, mortar and infantry attacks. Many of those who have been unable to escape have been forced to work as ''porters,'' carrying weapons and other supplies for Burmese troops (United Press International, 02/20/97).
Feb 22, 1997 The Burmese government declares February 28th as the deadline for the surrender and disarming of Karen National Union forces and pledges to launch a massive suppression operation after that time. A high-ranking military officer of the Burmese government disclosed that over 90,000 soldiers, 40,000 porters, and a number of bulldozers have been deployed in Karen-controlled areas as preparation for a major suppression drive. The military officer admitted that Karen battalions suffered very few casualties from the recent attacks launched by government troops. Moreover, no Karen leaders have surrendered to the government, as reported earlier (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/22/97).
Feb 23, 1997 Burmese newspapers report that at least 41 KNU rebels have been killed since the army launched its dry-season offensive against the group earlier this month. Some 53 clashes have occurred since February 11 when an estimated 6000 troops were deployed in areas along the Thai-Burmese border to wipe out the remaining bases of the KNU (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/23/97).
Feb 24, 1997 The Burmese regime asserts that the KNU, which has held four rounds of peace talks with the government's representatives, has ignored prevailing developments and has unilaterally broken off talks. It contends that since February 11th, a total of 511 KNU officers and men have surrendered. So far, 243 assorted weapons, including 85 heavy artillery pieces, have been recovered (British Broadcasting Corporation, 02/24/97).
Feb 27, 1997 The US State Department criticizes Thailand's forcible repatriation of some 900 Karen women and children from areas in Ratchaburi, near the southern Burma border (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 02/27/97).
Feb 27, 1997 Burmese troops are repelled by Thai soldiers when they crossed over into Thailand to raid a refugee camp sheltering 2,300 Karens. In the past few days, Thai soldiers have sent up to 5000 Karen males back into Burma -- including children and old men (The Washington Times, 02/28/97).
Feb 28, 1997 Burmese exiles and aid workers are deeply concerned about a perceived "new understanding" between the Rangoon junta and the Thai Army after Thailand blocked attempts by Karen villagers to flee across the border. The Burmese opposition reported that 3000 Karen refugees were forced back into a war zone after they had sought shelter in Thailand. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is monitoring the situation but is not officially involved with the camps (Asiaweek, South China Morning Post, 02/28/97).
Mar 1, 1997 Thailand's army chief has reportedly halted relocations of Karen refugees after the military faced international criticism for pushing hundreds of civilians back into Burma (Agence France Presse, 03/01/97).
Mar 2, 1997 The Karen National Union (KNU) vows to keep fighting a massive Burmese government offensive unless the ruling junta resumes peace talks (Agence France Presse, 03/02/97).
Mar 3, 1997 Hundreds of new Karen refugees fleeing a massive Burmese government offensive have arrived at the border and over 1000 others at risk have been allowed to find safety in Thailand. Some 700 to 800 refugees arrived over the weekend at a camp inside Burma, which was already holding 1,400 Karens (Agence France Presse, 03/03/97).
Mar 4, 1997 Australia condemns Burma's military regime over its military campaign against Karen refugees living in camps on the border with Thailand (British Broadcasting Corporation, 03/04/97).
Mar 5, 1997 The Karen National Union (KNU) denies accusations of terrorism by Burma's junta, but does not rule out guerrilla strikes on military targets outside Karen territory. A Karen spokesman estimated that 30,000 SLORC forces, including support troops, were being deployed in KNU territories, while the rebels could muster 5,000 troops, including civilian militia. He denied accusations of a KNU role in the bombings of the Rangoon-Mandalay train in May last year and a Buddhist pagoda in Rangoon on December 25 (Agence France Presse, 03/05/97).
Mar 6, 1997 The head of the Thai Army says that all unarmed Karen refugees crossing into the country from Burma would be allowed to remain in Thailand (New York Times, 03/06/97).
Mar 8, 1997 A Burmese opposition coalition says that 15 Karen refugees have died in a cholera epidemic in camps near the Thai-Burma border because humanitarian aid groups have been denied access (Agence France Presse, 03/08/97).
Mar 9, 1997 Thai authorities have let medical staff from relief agencies into Karen refugee camps to treat an epidemic of diarrhea (Agence France Presse, 03/09/97).
Mar 11, 1997 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has offered to expand its presence to the Burmese side of the Thai-Burmese border when conditions are peaceful. UNHCR officers in Bangkok state that SLORC has not yet agreed to the proposal (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/11/97). Thailand has pushed about 3500 Karen refugees back into Burma, but apparently without cutting off relief assistance, aid workers said. The Thai ninth army allegedly told Karens in two temporary camps that they had the option of moving back to sites just across the border or to a larger holding center in Tak province to the north (Agence France Presse, 03/11/97). Karen rebels appeal for a halt on all foreign investment in Burma stating that all the incoming money only serves to strengthen the hand of the military junta (Ibid.).
Mar 13, 1997 Amnesty International says it fears that the Thai government may still be returning Karen refugees to Burma despite pledges to give them sanctuary (Agence France Presse, 03/13/97).
Mar 20, 1997 Burmese troops attack a KNU village in the country; some 1000 Karens flee to Thailand (Chicago Tribune, 03/20/97).
Mar 23, 1997 The Karen Refugee Committee asks Thailand to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide aid to the 90,000 Karen refugees along the Thai-Burma border. Thailand has expressed concern that allowing the UNHCR into the region might send the wrong signal to Rangoon (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 03/23/97).
Mar 26, 1997 Two key Karen guerrilla leaders in hiding are allegedly wanted by Thai army officers for what they claim will be Thai-mediated talks with the Rangoon junta on the resettlement of Karen refugees fleeing Burma. The Thai army reportedly wants the two men to talk with the SLORC within 10 days and then the refugees will be sent back to Burma (The Nation, 03/26/97).
Apr 7, 1997 A bomb explodes at the house of Lieut. Gen. Tin Oo, the Army Chief of Staff and Secretary No. 2 of SLORC, killing his daughter and setting off a renewed security alert in the capital, Rangoon. The government blames the attack on the Karen National Union. The All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) says it believes the attack was carried out by someone within the SLORC, citing recent reports suggesting that there was a serious rift in the junta which seized power in 1988. The Karen National Union (KNU) issued a denial of involvement in the attack, blaming it on an internal SLORC power struggle (Agence France Presse; New York Times, 04/07/97).
Apr 11, 1997 The European Union approves humanitarian aid worth $897,000 for Burmese Karen refugees living in Thailand. The funds will go to the Paris-based NGO International Medical Aid (AMI). AMI has been working to help Karen refugees in Thailand ever since they first started fleeing across the border to escape persecution in their country in the late 1980s (Inter Press Service, 04/11/97).
Apr 14, 1997 Reports indicate that due to alleged harassment by Thai authorities and fear of the Burmese military, many women refugees from Burma on the Thai border have been forced into prostitution to provide for their families. It is estimated that at least 40,000 girls between the age of 10 and 16 have been taken to work in brothels in Thailand (Inter Press Service, 04/14/97).
Apr 17, 1997 Karen refugees living in Thailand are being squeezed between Burma's army and Thai economic interests. Thai authorities have prevented the Karens from rebuilding their homes and barred relief agencies from helping them after the DKBA burnt down their refugee camps because they are classified as "displaced," and not refugees. Many are sleeping on the muddy ground as the annual rainy season approaches. Some analysts believe the Thai government, with the support of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, is preparing to forcibly return the refugees to Burma (The Washington Times, 04/17/97).
Apr 23, 1997 A federal court in Los Angeles, USA, will hear a class- action motion filed by a group of 14 Burmese nationals on behalf of tens of thousands of victims who suffered alleged human rights abuses due to the controversial Yadana gas pipeline project. Unocal and Total are two of four partners in the consortium exploring and tapping natural gas in Burma's Gulf of Martaban for sale to Thailand via seabed and overland pipelines. The other partners are the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and Thailand's Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT). The group was joined by Louisa Benson, a representative of the Karen National Union (The Nation, 04/23/97).
Apr 27, 1997 One man is dead following a clash between Thai civilian militia and DKBA rebels at a Karen refugee camp inside Thailand. Thai authorities state that a group of 15 to 20 armed men crossed from Burma and invaded a refugee camp, torching 19 shop stalls and houses (Agence France Presse, 04/27/97).
Apr 29, 1997 Two SLORC envoys visited a Karen National Union stronghold a few days ago to discuss new peace talks (Japan Economic Newswire, 04/29/97).
May 20, 1997 A UNHCR report states that 184,000 Burmese from various ethnic groups, including former students and pro-democracy activists, are living in neighboring countries, particularly in Thailand. Another 350,000 economic migrants are living without documentation in refugee-like conditions in Thailand. Internal displacement, which was recorded at 19 million people worldwide in 1996, was especially severe in Burma, where some 500,000 to one million people have been forced to relocate (Japan Economic Newswire, 05/20/97).
May 22, 1997 Burma's military government has launched fresh offensives against ethnic rebels operating in border areas. More than 1000 troops under the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) have attacked camps run by Karen and Mon rebels as well as camps of a dissident students' group in the Tenessarim Division of southern Myanmar (Japan Economic Newswire, 05/22/97).
Jun 9, 1997 The leader of the Karen National Union (KNU), rejects a fresh invitation from the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to visit Yangon for a new round of talks aimed at securing a ceasefire agreement. Bo Mya says that the KNU will only engage in the new peace talks when the junta halts all military offensives and stops violating human rights (Japan Economic Newswire, 06/09/97).
Jun 16, 1997 Thailand has begun to relocate 2400 Karen refugees from a camp near the Burmese border to a larger and safer camp further inside Thai territory (Agence France Presse, 06/16/97).
Aug 1, 1997 The representatives of 15 ethnic groups who met in Karen-held territory in January of this year assert that the military is attempting to establish unity with force. They also state that the ethnic groups that have signed ceasefires with the SLORC are not representative of the 15 ethnic nationalities. Some groups have confessed that they agreed to sign only under forced conditions (British Broadcasting Corporation, 08/01/97).
Aug 6, 1997 The Burmese military torches 178 villages and kills 83 civilians in a bid to cut off support to the Karen National Union (KNU). Some 46,000 civilians have been left homeless or forced to relocate in four districts in Karen state and Pegu division in eastern Burma since junta forces launched a major offensive against the KNU in February (Agence France Presse, 08/06/97). The European Community donates about $2.6 million in humanitarian aid for the more than 100,000 Karen and Mon refugees camped along the Thai-Burmese border (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 08/06/97).
Aug 26, 1997 Canada and the US have imposed economic sanctions against Burma due to its human rights record (BBC, 08/26/97).
Oct 3, 1997 The Burmese government accuses the KNU of killing six relatives of a Karen rebel who recently surrendered (Agence France Presse, 10/03/97).
Nov 3, 1997 Since last week, some 2000, mostly Karen, villagers have fled from Burma into Thailand and are likely to face repatriation. The villagers who fled forced labor at the hands of the Burmese military and poverty conditions in Karen state have been denied access to Thai refugee camps because they are not escaping from the fighting (Agence France Presse, 11/03/97).
Nov 18, 1997 The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is looking into allegations that Thai soldiers killed three Karen villagers who were fleeing the conflict in Burma. The Karen Refugee Committee alleges that the soldiers were trying to force them back into Burma (Japan Economic Newswire, 11/18/97).
Nov 19, 1997 More than 1000 Karens have been repatriated to Burma as Thai officials regarded them as illegal immigrants rather than refugees (Agence France Presse, 11/19/97).
Dec 9, 1997 Thailand and Burma agree to set up a joint commission to address the issue of some 100,000 Burmese refugees residing in Thailand (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/09/97).
Dec 16, 1997 A cross-border raid into Thailand's northern Mae Hong Son province by the Rangoon-backed Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) results in the death of a Thai paramilitary ranger (Agence France Presse, 12/16/97).
Jan 9, 1998 Australia says it is will contribute an additional $650,000 in humanitarian relief for the over 115,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand. While most of the refugees are Karens, there are also Mon and Karenni peoples residing in camps (Xinhua News Agency, 01/09/98). The leader of the KNU, Bo Mya, says his organization will not attempt to blow up a controversial gas pipeline along the Thai-Burmese border (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 01/09/98).
Feb 15, 1998 More than 1800 Karen refugees volunteer to return to Burma by March 1 rather than being relocated within Thailand. Thailand is currently trying to relocate 12,000 Karens from old camps along the Myanmar border -- where many have lived for the past two years -- to more secure positions further inside Thailand. The refugees contend that the new camp will be overcrowded and too hilly to live on. Myanmar democracy activists assert that some refugees had been beaten and accused the Thai military of trying to protect lucrative logging interests in the area (Agence France Presse, 02/15/98).
Feb 25, 1998 For the first time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will soon be allowed access to Burmese refugee camps on the Thai border. The UNHCR's permanent presence -- coming after growing concern that thousands of refugees might be sent back across the border -- is widely seen as giving much greater security to the 120,000 or so people in the camps (South China Morning Post, 02/25/98).
Feb 28, 1998 About 40 members of the DKBA fire at Thai troops and burn down a ranger base in Thailand's northern Mae Hong Son province. The DKBA has threatened to burn down all Burmese refugee camps in Thailand after Bangkok in early February began suppression of illegal logging in Salween National Park and Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, an activity from which the minority group was believed to have benefited (Japan Economic Newswire, 02/28/98).
Mar 4, 1998 The first of some 10,000 Karen refugees begin moving to a new camp in western Thailand. The move comes after an apparent breakthrough in deadlocked negotiations with Thai authorities. About 1600 people from 400 families are moving to their new home, further inside Thai territory, after a three-week stand-off with military and provincial officials (British Broadcasting Corporation, 03/04/98).
Mar 8, 1998 Thai security forces arrest six DKBA members after they illegally crossed into Mae Hong Son province (Agence France Presse, 03/08/98).
Mar 11, 1998 A refugee camp in a western province of Thailand near the Burma border is burnt down by the DKBA. Two refugees are killed and more than 8000 are made homeless. Thai authorities state that the attack was in retaliation for Bangkok's suppression of illegal logging in the nation's Salween National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, to which the DKBA and Myanmar government officers have been linked (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/11/98). Thai authorities ask Myanmar to investigate two separate cross-border attacks by Karen DKBA rebels on Karen refugee camps which have left two Thai citizens dead (Agence France Presse, 03/11/98).
Mar 12, 1998 Burma's military government denied US accusations that it is waging a "campaign of terror" against ethnic minorities in Thai refugee camps after a violent attack this week. The UN has urged the Thai government to take measures to guarantee the security of refugees near the Thai-Myanmar border (Agence France Presse, 03/12/98).
Mar 14, 1998 Some 1000 Burmese troops attack a key KNU base manned by some 300 rebels (AAP Newsfeed, 03/14/98).
Mar 17, 1998 Karen National Union (KNU) rebels abandon a key base in Burma after five days of bombardment by government troops. Fears remain high in refugee camps along the Thai border as reports indicate that troops are amassing on the Burmese side (AAP Newsfeed, 03/17/98).
Mar 19, 1998 Two Thai villagers are killed when the DKBA attacks a Thai house and then retreats back into Burma (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/19/98).
Mar 20, 1998 Thai authorities admit that a lapse in security led to a cross-border attack on a Karen refugee camp by Myanmar -backed forces last week. Four people were killed (Agence France Presse, 03/20/98).
Mar 23, 1998 For the second time in two weeks, DKBA members cross into Thailand and burn down a refugee camp. Some 48 houses were torched and nine Karen refugees wounded in the attack on the Ban Morgeryang camp in the northern Thai province of Tak (United Press International, 03/23/98).
Mar 25, 1998 Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai approves military action to retaliate against pro-government DKBA guerrillas from Myanmar who have launched repeated cross-border attacks against refugee camps inside Thailand (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/25/98). Prime Minister Leekpai says that Thailand will change its policy to allow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees an unprecedented say in the running of camps for 90,000 Burmese refugees. While the UNHCR will be given free access, it will not be allowed to fully manage the camps. The landmark policy shift comes after a string of attacks by Myanmar troops and their allies in Thailand's northwest which prompted the UNHCR to urge the removal of the refugees to safety (Agence France Presse, 03/25-26/98).
Mar 26, 1998 Burmese authorities state that three villagers were seriously wounded when KNU rebels attacked their village in Burma (Agence France Presse, 03/26/98).
Mar 27, 1998 Some 150 KNU rebels simultaneously attack three camps (including the headquarters) of the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) inside Burma, near the Thai border. At least 50 people were killed and some 200 houses and three sawmills burnt. The KNU says it staged the attacks in retaliation for DKBA raids against refugee camps in Thailand (AAP Newsfeed, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Japan Economic Newswire, 03/27/98).
Mar 29, 1998 The leader of the Karen National Union (KNU) vows that the group will neither give up its arms nor surrender to Myanmar's military junta despite the capture of most of its strongholds (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/29/98). The DKBA is believed to have kidnapped an Australian man and a Thai woman in northern Thailand as thousands of troops massed along the Myanmar side of the border (Agence France Presse, 03/29/98).
Apr 1, 1998 An Australian man and a Thai woman abducted by the DKBA have been released (Japan Economic Newswire, 04/01/98).
Apr 3, 1998 About 300 Karen National Union (KNU) rebels launch surprise assaults against four government and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) bases. More than 30 government troops and DKBA members were killed (Malaysia General News, 04/03/98).
Apr 6, 1998 The KNU says it has recaptured one of its key bases after the Burmese army abandoned it when it came under heavy attack last month. The rebels retook Tha Ko Sutha, the headquarters of the guerrilla group's 7th brigade (AAP Newsfeed, 04/06/98).
Apr 18, 1998 A breakaway faction of the Karen National Union (KNU) has handed over weapons to the military regime of Myanmar. KNU central executive committee member and former economic minister Phado Aung San, who left the KNU a few weeks ago, stressed that the arms handover ceremony was not a surrender. His faction, which includes some 250 Karens, split with the KNU under longtime leader Bo Mya after Phado Aung San was accused of mismanaging economic affairs, which chiefly involve logging activities. Phado Aung San and his band of 70 soldiers handed over 51 assorted weapons and 5,182 rounds of ammunition to the local military commander (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/18/98).
Apr 20, 1998 A high-ranking defector from the Karen National Union (KNU) claims the rebel group is down to 1000 soldiers. He also says that the KNU has close relations with the National League for Democracy (NLD), which is led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/ 20/98).
Apr 27, 1998 A DKBA member was killed in a clash with Thai rangers when the group crossed the Moei River into Thailand (Japan Economic Newswire, 04/27/98).
Apr 28, 1998 Two KNU guerrillas are killed and another injured when some 50 KNU members launch a surprise attack on a DKBA base in Burma (Japan Economic Newswire, 04/28/98).
May 5, 1998 Thai authorities officially protest to Myanmar over the shooting of a Thai man by suspected guerrillas of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) (Agence France Presse, 05/05/98).
May 8, 1998 A report prepared by the independent Burma Ethnic Research Group states that the Burmese government's military activities have resulted in the displacement of about 480,000 Karens, or 30% of the rural Karen population. As many as 200,000 Karens have been forcibly relocated or are hiding in the jungles of eastern Burma to escape a campaign of terror by the Burmese army. Between 100,000 and 200,000 Karens are displaced along Burma's border areas adjacent to Thailand while more than 90,000 Karen refugees remain in camps inside Thailand (The Nation, 05/08/98).
May 13, 1998 Eleven Thai villagers are abducted by the Myanmar junta and the DKBA who accuse them of being informants for the KNU which launched a surprise attack on their bases opposite the Thai border (Japan Economic Newswire, 05/13/98).
May 28, 1998 The arrest of a DKBA member for drug trafficking in Thailand triggers a cross-border shootout involving hundreds of people in which four guerrillas died. It ended after a Thai village headman contacted the guerrillas by radio and promised peace talks in exchange for a ceasefire. A delegation of three Thai officials went to the DKBA camp to negotiate a peace deal. They were promptly taken hostage with the DKBA fighters demanding the release of the youth held on drug charges. The arrested boy was released in exchange for the three Thai officials (Agence France Presse, 05/28/98).
May 31, 1998 The UN Special Rapporteur on Burma stated in January that Burmese troops have been abducting ''increasing numbers of women, including young girls and the elderly'' who have become victims of rape and other abuses. The raping of ethnic women is being used as a tool of war (The Nation, 05/31/98).
Jul 14, 1998 Seventeen Burmese troops are killed in recent fighting in the country with the Karen National Union (Agence France Presse, 07/14/98).
Aug 13, 1998 The KNU vows to step up its military activities unless the junta bows to opposition demands for a parliament. Speaking near the Thai border, Karen National Union (KNU) leader General Bo Mya said the junta needed to reach an agreement with the opposition or accept outright the demands of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party (Agence France Presse, 08/13/98).
Aug 22, 1998 Burmese authorities state that twenty members of the KNU and two from the All Burma Students' Democratic Front surrendered in the first two weeks of July (British Broadcasting Corporation, 08/22/98).
Sep 30, 1998 Rangoon says that the KNU attacked a village in Burma. Two persons were killed (Bangkok Post, 09/30/98).
Nov 9, 1998 Burmese troops kill four villagers in Burma. They were suspected of having contact with the Karen National Union (British Broadcasting Corporation, 11/09/98).
Nov 15, 1998 Thailand and Burma agree to cooperate to stop illegal immigrants from entering Thailand and to work on joint tourism initiatives. The two states will also tighten security measures to prevent KNU members on the Thai side from attacking the Burmese regime (Xinhua News Agency, 11/15/98).
Nov 26, 1998 Burmese government forces have reportedly started destroying rice crops to starve out the KNU. International observers on the Thai-Burmese border also state that both the Burmese and Karen forces are using land-mines in the fight to gain territory in southern Burma (The Independent (London), 11/26/98).
Dec 18, 1998 Burma's ruling junta is planning to launch an intensive dry season offensive against the country's remaining ethnic rebels. Thai army officers state that Rangoon's troops are being deployed in large numbers in an effort to wipe out the last remnants of the Karen, Wa, and Shan rebel armies (United Press International, 12/18/98).
Dec 21, 1998 Burmese opposition groups state that twenty-three ethnic and political organizations attended a seminar on National Solidarity at Thoo Mwe Klo in Karen territory from December 12 to 14. The organizations signed an agreement that calls for the abolishment of the military government, the establishment of a democratic, federal union, the convening of the parliament based on the NLD electoral victory in 1990, and a ban on foreign investment until the regime changes. A Coordinating and Organizing Committee was formed to implement the organizations' decisions. Among those who signed the agreement are the All Burma Muslim Union, the Muslim Liberation Organization, the Arakan League for Democracy, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Chin National Front, the Chin NLD, the Karen National Union, the Shan Democratic Union, the ABSDF, and representatives of the Wa, Palaung, and Lau ethnic groups (British Broadcasting Corporation, 12/21/98).
Jan 12, 1999 The KNU denies Rangoon's claim that Aung San Suu Kyi is in danger of being assassinated by the KNU. It also denies being in contact with Suu Kyi (British Broadcasting Corporation, 01/12/99).
Feb 6, 1999 Japan's envoy to Thailand calls on the Karen National Union (KNU) to resume peace talks with the Burmese military junta in a bid to end half a century of fighting (Japan Economic Newswire, 02/06/99).
Mar 1, 1999 Jane's Intelligence Review states that India's intelligence organization, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), aided Burmese rebel groups in acquiring arms from Khmer Rouge members in Thailand for nearly two years. The groups include the Chin National Army, the Karen National Union, and the Arakan Army (03/01/99).
Mar 8, 1999 The KNU has reportedly killed 13 government officials who were abducted last month at the eastern border of Myanmar. They were killed while the KNU was transporting them to a city because the government broke its promise, the KNU said. Burma reportedly sent about 1500 soldiers to attack the KNU guerrillas and to rescue the hostages instead of meeting at the appointed place (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/08/99).
Mar 31, 1999 The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urges Thailand to immediately relocate some 9000 refugees at a camp near Mae Sot district (close to the border) to a new site due to security concerns. It also calls on authorities to improve access for UN personnel to other refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border (The Nation, 03/31/99).
Apr 4, 1999 Delegations from 15 Burmese dissident groups met near the Thai border last week to consolidate their power in preparing guerrilla troops to fight against the Rangoon government. The groups, under the umbrella of the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), held the meeting between April 2 and 4 in the jungle. The 4500-strong Shan State Army of Yawd Serk, a former aid to opium lord Khun Sa, has recently become associated with the DAB. Saw Bo Mya, chairman of the Karen National Union, was elected as the Chairman of the DAB. The delegates agreed that there is a need for the DAB to consolidate its organizational structure and to play a major role with the National Council of the Union of Burma, an alliance of ethnic and opposition groups (British Broadcasting Corporation, 04/12/99; Japan Economic Newswire, 04/09/99).
May 3, 1999 Thailand will summon a Burmese diplomatic representative to address concerns about an assault on a border police station. Thai authorities suspect the attackers were a combination of DKBA members and Myanmar soldiers (Japan Economic Newswire, 05/03/99).
May 10, 1999 Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan says that Thailand will retaliate against any future intrusion by armed units along the Thai-Burmese border following a series of attacks allegedly carried out by armed Burmese groups (The Nation, 05/11/99).
May 12, 1999 A Thai investigation into an assault on a police station in Mae Hong Son province early this month has concluded that it was the work of Burmese government soldiers and not the DKBA as earlier believed. The Burmese soldiers who took part in the cross-border attack on the police station and took hostage two Thai villagers wore Karen uniforms and left documents with Karen-group logos at the scene. The attack was likely due to illegal logging conflicts between the Burmese and the Thai police (The Nation, 05/12/99).
Jun 16, 1999 Five minority groups still fighting the Burmese junta meet in Karen territory near the Thai-Burma border to form an alliance. After two days of meetings, the groups agree to cooperate on military, intelligence, and political issues to unify the groups. Hosted by the Karen National Union, the meeting is also attended by the Shan State Army, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front. A commander of the Shan State Army says that the rebels are outnumbered 10 to 1 by the Burmese forces (Agence France Presse, 06/16/99).
Jun 24, 1999 A landmine believed to have been planted by the Karen National Union kills seven Burmese traders near the Thai-Burmese border (United Press International, 06/24/99).
Jul 16, 1999 Thailand will repatriate all displaced Burmese people living along the border within the next three years with the assistance of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The Thai National Security Council chief says his aim is to bring the problem of the presence of the Burmese on Thai soil to the attention of the international community now that the Kosovo conflict had ended. He says that UNHCR assistance might come in the form of an office inside Burma which would guarantee the safety of the returnees and give them the confidence to go back (The Nation, 07/16/99).
Aug 8, 1999 Thailand will help Myanmar reach deals with its warring ethnic minorities if the junta agrees to reach settlements through peaceful negotiations. The offer follows a recent Thai military sweep of suspected drug trafficking routes used by ethnic insurgents on Thailand's northern border with Myanmar. Drug trafficking by some insurgent groups, along with refugee flows and regular border incursions by both rebels and junta troops, have been an ongoing source of tension between Bangkok and Rangoon (Agence France Presse, 08/08/99).
Aug 19, 1999 Thailand will begin moving an estimated 100,000 Burmese refugees deeper inside its territory next week in a bid to reduce the risk of cross-border raids by junta-backed guerrilla forces, refugee workers said. The schedule for relocating refugees in Tak province on the Myanmar border was agreed on by Thai authorities and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) (Agence France Presse, 08/19/99).
Aug 23, 1999 Thailand and UNHCR officials start relocating an estimated 100,000 Myanmar refugees from the Thai border to safer areas inside the country (Japan Economic Newswire, 08/23/99).

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