DKBA Threatens to Close Thai Border Trade

Saw Lah Pwe, the leader of a breakaway faction of the DKBA. (Photo: Irrawaddy)

A faction of Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) has threatened to suspend border trade between Mae Sot and Myawaddy townships in response to the Thai government placing its leader on a list of “five most wanted people” over alleged links to the drugs trade.

“We have an order to close border trade already,” said Maj San Aung of the DKBA. “We will close it in the next two to three days. We have already informed the [Burmese] government about this.”

Even if the Burmese authorities do not close their border, we will shut it from our controlled areas because this order comes from our high officials, he added.

The DKBA has a stronghold of bases along the Thai-Burmese border from Umpiem to Waw Lay by Kawkareik Township, Karen State. Thai goods mainly cross the frontier through gates run by rebel troops before being transported to different part of Burma.

DKBA leader Saw Lah Pwe held a press conference on Tuesday at his base in Myawaddy Township. Both Burmese and Thai media groups heard him denounce as “groundless” the accusations from Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung on April 20 that he was a drug dealer.

He accused the Thai authorities of risking border stability and invited a delegation to investigate his base, adding that if they uncovered nothing that his name should be struck off the wanted list. Otherwise, he threatened to bring the matter to an international tribunal.

Chalerm responded by telling Thai Channel-3 TV that there was no other way to resolve the dispute apart from the DKBA leader turning himself over to the police in Thailand.

Border trade was still crossing normally on Wednesday, but the Thai authorities have tightened security and even deployed tanks near to the Burmese side.

The Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board offered a total reward of 12 million baht (US $388,000) for the capture of 25 suspected criminals. A bounty of one million baht ($32,000) was offered for Saw Lah Pwe, according to an announcement on April 20.

But he told The Irrawaddy soon after the report came out that, “I never do [drug trafficking]. I have no desire to be rich in that way. [The Thai authorities] hurt not only my image, but also the image of my people and my state. They look down on us.”

Saw Lah Pwe broke away from the mainstream DKBA with around a quarter of its estimated 6,000 troops in late 2010. He reached a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese authorities in November 2011.

6 Responses to DKBA Threatens to Close Thai Border Trade

  1. ၿမန္မာၿပည္သား - စစ္နိုင္

    This is a threat statement to both nations. Time to get rid of this thug.

    • What do you know about Thai Government?
      Thai Government need to show solid evidence of Saw Lah Pwe was involving in drug trafficking and producing if Thai Government genuinely believes Saw Lah Pwe was doing drug business.
      I know about why Thai Government is doing this to Saw Lah Pwe because of favor Burmese Government it wants to get rid of Saw Lah Pwe.
      I won’t wake-up every time dog barks.

  2. Thai government and malitary official must to solve the Thai-burma border when Burma is going on the democratic way. This is seems like thailand just want Burma to continuing conflict and Thailand will get more involve in business issues to get more benefit. Thailand authorities seem like they are not supporting the peace of Burma. If they continues pointing out drug case of DKBA I suggest it will effect the unstablity both Thai and burmese people.

  3. I think Chalerm is trying to grab the tiger by its tail.He messed up with the wrong person.
    The Thai soldiers are chicken hearted, never have military experience, no skills, and no gut to do such thing. The DKBA has been having their military experiences for more than 60 years. Who the hell will come to the Burmese restive area in hope of $388,000 bounty and kill General Saw Lah Pwe? I’m sure all the DKBA troops will stand up to wipe out this foreign invasion. They should! Blood is thicker than water.
    Chalerm must be crazy.

  4. Chintaung Maung Maung

    Every Burmese politician in the 21st century knows who Brig-Gen. Saw Lah Pwe is. He is no less than Leonidus of ancient Sparta, a selfless war hero and a fearless commander, who sacrificed his soul and heart for the freedom of his people.
    Accusing Saw Lah Pwe as a drug dealer only will create the unity of the ethnic rebels of Burma. Chalerm Yubamrung should not say things he will regret later.

  5. What kind of bounty hunter will dig their own grave by going to the Burmese wartorn frontline to kill Gen. Saw Lah Pwe? It is ridiculous! Thai Prime minister must be dreaming a nightmare, or must have listened to his stupid advisers. The prime minister is damaging his own image by barking up the wrong tree. He should apologize Saw Lah Pwe while there is still time.

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