Information on Karen rebels and Students in Myanmar (ex-Burma) [BUR1324]

For a general view on the nature and activities of the Karen rebels, please see the attached section of Revolutionary and Dissident Movements, (London: Longman Publishing Group, 1988), pp. 33-35, and the attached copy of "The Students Struggle On", in Asiaweek, 28 October 1988, pp. 28-30. Also attached, are the following reports published in East Asia Daily Report, (Washington, Foreign Broadcast Information Service): 2 December 1988, pp. 44-45; 6 December 1988, pp. 28-29; 21 December 1988, p. 51; 23 December 1988, pp. 28-29; 28 December 1988, p. 42; 30 December 1988, p. 41. Also regarding rebel and student activities in 1988, please find attached the copies of Keesing's Record of World Events, (London, Longman Publishing Group), October 1988, pp. 36221-36225.

Although the commander of the Thailand army made a visit to Burma in December 1988, no reports of a counter-insurgency agreement between the two countries could be found among the available sources. However, according to the attached report found in the East Asia Daily Report of 28 December 1988, p. 42, the government of Burma (now Myanmar) reportedly reached an agreement with Mon rebels for cooperation in fighting the Karen rebels. Nevertheless, through a non-military agreement between the governments of Burma and Thailand, many Burmese students were forcibly returned to their country (see below).

Some of the attached reports provide information on the location of rebel camps and the size of some groups of students who joined the Karen. No exact location of the Karen's camps could be found among the sources presently available to the IRBDC.

After the 1988 student riots and the following repression, thousands of students fled from Burma fearing reprisals by the government; many fled to Thailand, from where they were later forcibly returned. Various reports indicate that students returning to Burma under a government amnesty were detained and tortured; at least one died soon after his release. Street demonstrations in Burma are reported to have resumed six months after the events following the military coup of September 1988, but on a smaller scale.

The relationship between student organizations and the Karen rebels is not clear; although the leader of the All-Burma Federation of Students' Unions (ABFSU) denied any involvement in an "armed struggle", the accompanying report indicates the existence of contacts between the rebels and the ABFSU. For the latest available reports on rebel and student political activities in Myanmar, please see the attached reports:
-"On the march again", from Far Eastern Economic Review, 13 April 1989, p. 19;
-"Around the world", in The Globe and Mail, 19 April 1989, p. A12, and 20 April 1989, p. A16.
(MNE) Montenegro / Monténégro