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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America

KAOWAO NEWS NO. 109

Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
April 17 - May 4, 2006

Child poverty in displaced village on Thai Burma border

20 migrants die in Andaman Sea at border crossing

Last hope for survival, migrants waiting to enter Thailand

Teleglobe to pull out of Burma: a Call on World Press Freedom Day

A few Burmese asylum seekers show up for registration

Number of Mon refugees increasing daily in Malaysia

SONGKRAN: Buddhist Water Festival in USA

Authorities order relocation of private homes in Burmese border town

Burma’s Probability: Wooing China and India (By Nehginpao Kipgen)

Readers’ front


Child poverty in displaced village on Thai Burma border

(Kaowao: May 4, 2006)

Sangkhalaburi -- Over a hundred displaced children have no access to education or health services and live well below the poverty line near to a Thai village, according to a social worker who provides assistance to the needy people.

Their official status in Thailand precludes travel outside of the village in which many of the families have no chance to support themselves.

Nai Chan, a villager from Sangkhalaburi, who visits the stateless people said most of them hail from Wae Kwao village in Yebyu Township. There are about 80 men and 60 women plus their children.  “The children wear worn and dirty clothing, while their parents have difficulty finding jobs to put food on the table,” he added.

The displaced villagers built small huts near Ga-Ee Mong Thai village on the way to Halockhanee refugee camp and are taken care of by the Karen Abbot of the Buddhist monastery nearby.

Some women ready to give birth are unable to go to the local Changlook Christian Hospital or the Sangkhalaburi clinic due to not having identity papers to present to the authorities and have to give birth solo.

The whole population of 202 people, comprised of 49 households, originally fled from southern Mon State and Northern Tenasserim Division over the past years after their houses was destroyed by the Burma Army who accused them of supporting a Mon guerrilla group led by Nai Hloin and Nai Bin.

Hundreds of local villagers from Pauk Pinkwin (Wae Kwao), Ma Kyi and Hoay Kyar villages fled to the Thai Burma border during a military operation to wipe out the Mon insurgent groups, many homes were destroyed by Burma Army in 2004.

Nai Hla, a villager of 60 who wants to go home, said, “We have no money to pay traffickers to go into Thailand for work and there is no work around here.  The Burma Army took all our belongings, our rice, and then burned down our houses.  Many of us were tortured and arrested.  They accused us of helping the Mon armed group.” 


Migrant Watch

20 migrants die in Andaman Sea at border crossing

(Kaowao: May 2, 2006)

It is feared that 20 migrant workers from southern Burma drowned while they tried to cross the Thai Burma border near Ranong, southern Thailand.

A local source reported that the migrant workers came from Lamine city, southern Mon State and were swept away with the force of the rising tide while trying to escape the Thai Navy Police about 10 p.m. in the evening.

The victims who recently left their homes to work in Thailand were brought over by a boat from the opposite side, the southernmost city in Burma, Kawthaung.  The boat owner, Nai Win Aung who spotted the Thai navy on patrol let the passengers off to wade through the shallow water to the Thai mainland; the migrant workers were soon caught when the tide rose.  Among the 20 people who perished were three children according to a local witness who talked to Kaowao under the condition of anonymity.

The Thai search and rescue team who later monitored the incident by helicopter saved another 17 people and charged them with illegal entry into the Kingdom.

“It is tragic but it happens this time of year.  Human traffickers and migrants are unprepared for the journey, they just hope for the best when they set off through the rivers and jungle to go to Thailand,” Nai Myaing a resident from Ranong said.

“Many hundreds of Mon migrants face danger while making the journey and need to be informed from the moment they leave about crossing bodies of water, every year several drown in rivers not knowing how to swim. Especially vulnerable are women and young children who are led into difficult situations that threatens their safety, there is a social expectation among migrants that underestimate dangerous situations in terms of safety,” said Aleta Cooper working with a Burmese NGO.

Hundreds of Mon, escaping abject poverty and human rights abuses by the Burmese military, gathered recently at Thanbyu Zayat city in central Mon State waiting to enter Thailand before the start of the rainy season.  Many migrants head to Thailand where many thousands work for survival wages in the fishing, construction, tourism, and agriculture industries. 


Last hope for survival, migrants waiting to enter Thailand

(Kaowao: May 2, 2006)

Recognized as being one of Southeast Asia’s largest undocumented migration groups, hundreds of Mon migrants from southern Burma are gathering on the outskirts of Zubbu city in central Mon state planning to escape abject poverty and human rights abuses.

Huge crowds gathered in the city over the past few days and are waiting to make their journey ahead of the rainy season and the scourge of malaria that comes with it, according to an eyewitness report from the area.

“The rainy season will start soon so many cross the border before the motor road closes.  Even now, the passengers have to pull the truck all the way to Three Pagoda Pass because of the rain,” said a passenger from Mudon, in Mon State.

Most are Mon nationals from southern Burma heading across the border to Ranong, southern Thailand on the Andaman Sea where many thousands of Mon and Burmese migrants work for survival wages in the construction, tourism, and agriculture industries. Others will find work on large rubber plantations in Hadyai, Surat and Phuket Provinces that are seen everywhere in southern Thailand and which represents the largest cash crop in the region and the security of a good wage.  

A town resident, Nai Ein told a Kaowao reporter that the Burmese local authorities will this time turn a blind eye to the human trafficking law as ordered by the SPDC. “The low wages and sky rocketing prices is driving people to migrant to Thailand, especially after the government increased civil servant salaries,” he explained.

For many of the young men and women, it will be their first time crossing the border. Some are following their partners who returned home before the Songkran New Year and are dreaming of sending money back home. Most are illiterate with 4 years of formal schooling and have little awareness of the dangers crossing the border or knowledge of HIV and other diseases.

The exchange rate at the border towns differs from place to place depending on the flow of migrant workers.  In Ranong, the exchange rate of 37.5-38 Kyat is equal to 1 Baht and in the Three Pagodas Pass the rate is from 39 or 39.5 Kyat to 1 Baht.

A Mon villager at the Three Pagodas Pass estimates that two hundred people pass the border daily.  The migrants wait along the border to enter the Kingdom where they negotiate a deal with local traffickers who work in cahoots with the Thais to get them across the border and into Thailand without being detected by the Thai police. It is at this point where they may encounter dangerous and unscrupulous individuals. Four migrants were shot and killed last week while crossing.

Nai Agga from the Maesot border town reported it is difficult to estimate how many people pass the border, but he figures the migrants pay the local traffickers from 7,000 to 15,000 Baht to enter the Kingdom.  Those who pay 15,000 Baht get a special bus, and those who pay 7,000 Baht are hidden in big trucks, while others slog through the jungles and rivers to avoid police checkpoints. There are no official estimates, but Burmese migrants leaving Burma over the past decade number in the millions, many have chosen to stay in Thailand and neighbouring countries to live a secure life.


Activism

Teleglobe to pull out of Burma: a Call on World Press Freedom Day

(Canadian Friends of Burma)

(Ottawa, April 3, 2006) -- On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB) is calling on a Canadian internet and telecommunication company, Teleglobe, to withdraw its internet service operations from Burma, for intolerable restrictions on the basic human right of freedom of _expression there.

Montreal-based Teleglobe, which provides internet and telecommunication services in more than 36 countries, started its operations in Burma at the end of 2005. The Burmese military government thoroughly controls all media and telecommunication in Burma and internet access to outside world is severely restricted. Burma is one of the most restrictive regimes of internet control on this earth and punishments are unreasonably severe.

“The presence of Teleglobe in Burma, with its modern technology and infrastructures, paves the way for the effective and systematic control over internet and other media freedoms there,” said Tin Maung Htoo, coordinator of Canadian Friends of Burma.

CFOB opposes any foreign business that benefits the ruling military junta in Burma. Internet security provided by Hong Kong-based SS8 Networks Inc. and internet filtering system known as Fortinet Fortiguard on the infrastructures and services provided by Teleglobe, clearly open up for a modern form of “Police State” in Burma. CFOB regards this kind of business operation as “collusion” on the restriction of freedom in Burma. 

CFOB also notes that Teleglobe was acquired in Feb., 2006 by an India company, Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) Limited. Nevertheless, CFOB will continue to pressure the company to pull out of Burma until and unless media freedom and freedom of _expression are recognized in Burma. CFOB will also try to draw more Canadian public attention on complicity of Teleglobe in unacceptable restriction of freedom of _expression in Burma.    

For more info contact: Tin Maung Htoo at (519) 860-4745, or Jameel Madhany at (613) 884-8015Email: cfob@cfob.org, Website: http://www.cfob.org


Refugee Alert

A few Burmese asylum seekers show up for registration

(Kaowao: May 1, 2006)

Only a few Burmese asylum seekers showed up to renew their registration for refugee status at the local office in Sangkhalaburi, Karnchanaburi Province on the Thai-Burma border.

Local sources reported that during the renewal process for recognition of UNHCR status, about 130 applicants contacted the authorities for an interview.  The renewal dates started April 25 to 27, 2006 and was administered by Thai officials. “Many probably fear arrest if they show up,” one observer noted.

In 2004, 274 people in this area were granted Non-Indochinese or NI refugee registration papers to enter the refugee camp set up by the Thai government.

“It has been a long wait, the situation isn’t secure here anymore on the border, I now have chance to move to another country where my children can attend school,” said a relieved Nai Htow from Pa-an township who escaped forced labour back home 5 years ago.  They are expecting to enter the camp and resettle in a third country in the coming months.

The UNHCR officer who oversaw the process was really surprised to see only a few people came to apply for the refugee status, said Nai Myint an asylum seeker from Waeng Ka village. 

“The waiting process is too long, the people can’t wait that long, they have no other means of survival and have to move on to find work so they can eat, this area is too small, they have to move on to Bangkok or Mahachai where they can find work,” he added.

Several former Hongsawatoi Restoration Party members led by Colonel Pan Nyunt had applied for political asylum at the office 2 years ago.  The HRP split from the New Mon State Party in 2002 and fought against the military regime, but their base camps were mortared in a military offensive in southern Mon State and Northern Tenasserim region when the Burmese military launched its sweeping operations looking for the insurgents. As a result, many of HRP soldiers deserted to the border for protection.  Some were recognized by the UNHCR.

Provisional Administration Board comprised of eight Thai authorities and one official from the UNHCR who cannot speak Burmese or Mon monitored the refugee registration. The source reported that those who failed to contact the office at this specific date would fail to receive an interview in the refugee process.

Most of the asylum seekers are Mon, Karen, Tavoyan and Burman from rural areas in Burma and have fled from forced voluntary labour for the Burmese government and human rights abuses by the Burmese military over the past two years.


Number of Mon refugees increasing daily in Malaysia

(Kaowao: April 30, 2006)

The influx of Mon asylum seekers in Malaysia has increased since the closure of UNHCR office in Bangkok, according to Mon Refugee Centre.

Several Mons are looking for help in applying for refugee status at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Kualur Lumpur but their chances of securing the status is minimal given Malaysia’s restrictive protection environment regarding refugees, says a social worker from the Mon Refugee Center, Nai Lawee Chan.

However, Mon refugees with the help of local NGOs formed the Mon Refugee Centre, a small office to coordinate with the newly established protection network underway in Malaysia, which is to address and recognize the problem of incoming refugees, while the center is unable to secure refugee status they are able to provide advice and assistance in looking for work and medical care, as well as providing shelter, food, and clothing.

In terms of seeking protection, many Mon asylum seekers claim that the UNHCR officials have only accepted a few refugees who have medical notes from local doctors which entitles them for a further interview toward either securing temporary resident or refugee status.

A Mon youth Ong Chem Tala, who fled Burma by boat fearing arrest of local militia in An Khae, Thanbyu Zayat in Mon State, was recently recognized as a refugee after a long waiting process.  Malaysian police arrested him after he held a protest in front of the Burmese Embassy and the UNHCR officials conducted an interview with him in prison.

Nai Roy Mon from Beelu Kyun Island, a social worker who now stays at the MRC office added that several thousand villagers, mostly from southern Mon State, have fled their homeland to escape massive repression by the Burmese military by land and sea.  Many of them chose Malaysia for a better life instead of Thailand but they are stuck there due to the still insecure situation of refugee protection.

“It is unfortunate that our Buddhist communities don’t help each other, while other Muslim and Christian groups are working tirelessly at lobbying for the non-Buddhist refugees,” says Soiha Raejae who fled from his village in northern Ye after the local authorities looked to him as a scapegoat in the murder of a village headman, Nai Mae.

Since human rights violations continue in Mon State, many have fled to Malaysia as illegal immigrants.  Many work and live under miserable conditions; they have no contact with any officials and know nothing about the UNHCR.  They have no idea how to apply for refugee status and are not informed by advocacy groups like the Red Cross or Refugee International,” said, Nai Minnyan, a Mon community leader from Gorge Town, Penang.

Some Mons in Kuala Lumpur having been granted refugee status have left for third countries, yet many thousands remain hiding in Malaysia and live a hand to mouth existence sneaking out to work as illegal migrant labourers to buy food and clothing.

The UNHCR in Malaysia granted Rohingyas from Burma refugee status granting them temporary status in 2004, thus allowing freedom of movement around the country.  Chin Refugee Committee (CRC) reported, there are about 12,000 Chin living in Malaysia, of which more than 9,000 are registered with the CRC. More than 2,500 Chin have applied for registration as asylum seekers with the UNHCR and have been provided with documentation that identifies them to Malaysian authorities.

Refugees International recommends that the UNHCR continue its work protecting and assisting refugees in Malaysia and is speeding up the registration process for refugees and asylum seekers, especially in outlying areas where refugees are mostly unregistered.

The Mons for centuries had a long tradition of trade with Malaysia and have traveled back and forth between the two countries.  Several thousand Mons are hiding or working in Malaysia after being forced out of their homeland due to human rights abuse and the dismal employment prospects in Burma.


SONGKRAN: Buddhist Water Festival in USA

(Kun Yekha: April 17, 2006)

For the sake of culture unity and religious activity, Mons in Fort Wayne, Indiana happily celebrated their second Mon Songkran water festival in commemoration of the New Year.

"Songkran" is a word from one of the world’s oldest languages, Sanskrit, meaning to "move into" and refers to the orbit of the sun moving into Aries. It marks the end of the 12-month cycle and the beginning of the new solar year and is celebrated by most Buddhists as Songkran. In Burma, it is special time to get together with family and friends in the homeland and a festive way to cool down in 40-degree heat during water splashing, the major event during the festival that continues for 3 days in Burma and Thailand.

The underlying significance of Songkran is the process of cleansing and purification - the purging of all ills, misfortune and evil - starting the New Year afresh with all that is good and pure. Water, which has played a huge role in South and Southeast Asian cultures for centuries, is symbolic of the cleaning process and signifies purity.

On the first day, April 15th, various activities were undertaken for funfair such as running with round bamboo trays, biting cakes, tug a war, sports competitions, and dancing. In the morning, merit-making rituals were performed and offerings were made to the Buddhist monks. Mind-cleaning and personal cleansing were also part of this "renewal" process. In the evening, young girls and children swathed in traditional customs burst forth with energy dancing to Mon music accompanied by applause from the audience watching the show.

On the second day, Songkran rice was served to the devotees and the many guests who came to participate in the special event. Buddha images and monks were bathed with fragrance water in a gesture of respect after receiving the five precepts, the rules of the practicing Buddhist to follow the right path to enlightenment, while they recited some verses to the rhythm of cymbals. Later in the afternoon, the young people splashed water on each other to the sound of drum beating, followed by a lottery in which winners won Mon Buddhist calendars.


Authorities order relocation of private homes in Burmese border town

(Banyol Kin/ IMNA: April 27, 2006)

People in parts of Three Pagoda Pass town are being displaced to make way for the implementation of town development projects. Dozens of private houses were destroyed and local Thai military authorities relocated people on the Thai-Burmese border town recently.

More than 70 private house owners, near the police station in Three Pagoda Pass town have been ordered to move to Thaung Wine, northeast of town. Local authorities at a meeting yesterday decided the relocation programme, an official said.

“I think it is positive and good for us because we will own 40/60 feet wide land,” said Mi Mu Zaw, a member of a relocated family.

One local official, who asked not to be named, told IMNA that at the meeting authorities also agreed to provide compensation for 47 families who have house registration documents.

With their old houses destroyed, the people cannot move to a new place because they don't know where to live as authorities did not measure the land for them, according to an eyewitness.

Some are living in temporary shelters at their old place and some are staying  at friends' homes, he said.


Opinion/Analysis

Burma’s Probability: Wooing China and India

By Nehginpao Kipgen

April 26, 2006

As Burma strategists and political planners are pooling in the ballroom, varying thoughts and approaches are excogitated. Noting that multifarious engagements can help evolve a durable solution, there is an urgency of the critical importance of the two Asian giants – China and India – intrinsically demanding and inseparable to the impetus of a realistic democratization process in Burma. However, this emphasis does not convey that the pivotal roles of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), European Union (EU), United States (US), and the United Nations (UN) are underrated. Analyzing the precarious politics of Burma, the writer is reflecting strategies that are probable to engendering amicable solutions.

In line with their esteem for democratic values, the ideals and principles of democracy are seen embedded inherently in the politics of the United States of America and the United Kingdom governments among others. Conversely, People’s Republic of China (PRC) is emphatically projecting its communism to be efficacious governance than other administrative systems. This is a question that often raises the eyebrows of some observers and politicians: “if communism does better than democracy.” Let us inject a comparative study to suffice the dilemmatic spectrum of the two.

China’s communism is neither a replica of Burma’s military junta nor the democracy of its traditional rival India. Nonetheless, the shadow of a single party dominated communism is not ulterior to the standing image of Burma’s military dictatorial regime. Administration is convenient and decision-making is easier in a communist government. Though marred by human rights abuses and religious persecutions similar to Burma, China proves to be thriving economically and militarily than India. On the other hand, India, which is the world’s largest democracy, is basically a country of public opinions. Checks and balances at the three branches of government – legislative, executive and judiciary squarely matter in all administrative units. Although legislative changes and constitutional amendments may be seldom, if happens, they are representatives' mandate, which is an essential practice in a democratic institution.

China toward Burma

The steady emergence of PRC economically and militarily has immensely effected changes both regionally and globally. While the western world is propagating for the spread and burgeoning of democracy around the world, China is exuding its result-oriented communist ethos. There is no doubt about the implications of China on other countries with its myriad imports and exports. Burma’s markets and households are overwhelmed with cheap but impressive Chinese products ranging from essential commodities to bulky merchandized goods. China has succeeded in ingraining its cultural and financial influences on Burma. Many of the wealth-to-do families and businesses have rested on the shoulders of the Chinese community. In other words, China has proven itself to be one of the biggest Burma’s trading beneficiaries and partners thereby entailing to be one of its strategic ally.

Sanctions from western countries, particularly the EU and US on Burma, are yet another incremental mileage for China. While Burma is largely seen cornered and isolated by the international community, China extends its soft hands to the hierarchy of the regime by offering variant incentives. This cemented diplomatic cordiality serves as one hardest substance to penetrate the periphery of the ruling regime. The hardening of this rigidity is augmented by the renewed Burma-Russia relationship. Both China and Russia status as permanent members at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is even a greater challenge when it comes to dealing with Burma.

India toward Burma

Had China not been aggressively advancing in the region, India might have taken a different road map toward the perplexed Burma. While seeing China as a traditional rival and potential threat to its territorial integrity, India cold-shoulders to the hue and cry for a democratic change in Burma. Economic interest is another important factor. The world’s biggest institutions of communism and democracy are on hot pursuit for regional influence and international presence. This is one of the reasons why Indian politicians and decision makers seemingly have contradicting statements when they are in the opposition camp and once ascended to power. The bottom line here is that national interests and security matters most for individual countries.

Moreover, the racial diversity of India also has a tremendous weight in shaping its foreign policies. Majority of the people in the eight sister states of the northeast India are racially of mongoloid stock of people, different from majority of the Indian population. A sense of being foreign to Indian mainland and an alleged step-motherly treatment from the Indian government to people of these states have resonated with insurgency campaigns ranging from statehood demand to secession. Curbing the activities of these insurgents, many have bases in the soil of Burma, necessitates their cooperation. In reciprocation, India needs to extend a good will gesture to appease the Burmese military leaders. This may also pertains to the launching of India’s “Look East” policy.

Despite the low ebb enthusiasm, India appears to be more considerate and concerned over the Burmese democratic struggle than China. Thousands of both registered and unregistered refugees from Burma are allowed to settle in the country through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ New Delhi office and some local Non-Governmental Organizations. Privileges and opportunities given to the Burmese community in India by the government is by and large less significant than those of the Tibetans, yet this is one evident example construed to be India’s discreet solidarity to the Burmese democratic struggle. In the calculations of many world political analysts, these actions are apparently too little to help resolve the decades’ old Burmese political problems.

Probable Solutions

Different political strategists may conceptualize on how to bring forth a genuine democracy in different perspectives. Here, “genuine democracy” connotes a type of democracy that can mutually be acceptable to all sections of the peoples of Burma. Probable solutions to the ongoing political imbroglio in Burma, according to the writer, may be achieved primarily in two different ways – Intervention and Popular Uprising.

Intervention

In resolving any political conflict involving two opposite groups, the intervention of a third party is one of the most viable solutions. Noticing the different levels of interventions such as diplomatic intervention, economic sanctions, and military intervention, let us study if these interventions are probable solutions for Burma. Diplomatic intervention and economic sanctions have been unevenly used in the past 10 plus years by the international community, particularly by the EU, US and the UN. These actions unequivocally brought immense impacts on both the populace and the ruling military regime. Had these engagements been concerted efforts involving Burma’s neighboring countries – particularly China and India, juggernaut changes could have happened. With the recalcitrant nature of Burma’s military leaders and appeasement diplomacies of some of the deciding countries on their side, no pragmatic transformation has been visualized till date. While many tend to see the EU and US for tougher actions including military intervention, its reality is far from near. Imminent dangers posed by countries such as Iran, North Korea and the unabated Middle-East crisis overshadow problems in the Southeast Asian country like Burma.

The 2005 informal briefing on Burma at the UNSC, which was the culmination of Burmese democratic movement for the year, was words that ended without enforcement. China and Russia stance on the ground that “Burma is not a threat to international peace and security,” which is the basic objective for forming the United Nations, has stalled the Security Council’s unprecedented maneuver. In yet another encouraging sign, ASEAN, while sidelining its traditional non-interference policy on member country, reached agreement to push for the speedy democratization process. However, this initiative turned out to be only a rhetoric remarks when the ASEAN special envoy, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, visiting Burma in March 2006, had to cut short his three-day trip by one day and returned home empty-handed without even meeting Aung San Suu Kyi. Albar's visit followed a trip by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Rangoon only to signaled Jakarta's growing interest in engaging with the junta-led administration. These failures further dashed a hope for the regional bloc’s anticipated engagement.

At this juncture, the feasibility of one intervention could be a formal discussion of Burma’s issues at the UNSC with binding resolutions. To achieve this objective, cooperation from lobbyists and advocates including the Burmese activists and members of the Security Council is necessary. If any binding agreement can be reached, non-compliance on the part of the Burmese military regime will be moved in accordance with the resolutions. Any intransigent reaction on Burma could even entail sending of UN peace keeping forces.

Popular Uprising

When talking about Burma politics, the 1988 democracy uprising, popularly known as the 8888 uprising, cannot remain untouched. This was the turning point of a democratic struggle permeating beyond international borders. The 1990 country-wide general election and the birth of umpteen political parties thereafter are the consequences of this historic popular uprising. Had not the 8888 uprising happened, the international awareness of Burma’s issues could have been in the shadow of the world’s politics.

A noble cause to rise up for another popular uprising is not an easy question to answer. The massive loss of lives and properties, the horrendous massacre and incarceration of several brave demonstrators by the military personnel have tremendously demoralized the nerves of many in the country where justice does not prevail. Despite all these cumbersome tasks and bemoaning scenario, Burma’s political turmoil and the continued rampant human rights abuses speak far exceedingly. Some international observers express reservations on the probability of a mass uprising. However, glimpsing at transitional governments around the world, changes generally come from within. This does not simplify that movements in exile should abandon its trend of moving forward. When movements from both within and outside the country are at its melting point, people’s power will prevail.

Finally, support and cooperation from the international community is an ever demanding diplomacy. Coordination of pro-democracy campaigns from within and outside Burma is at its prominence to effect changes in the country. When the western world, particularly the United States government and like-minded countries, is exerting its pressure at the United Nations Security Council, advocates and lobbyists around the world should impress other international players to accentuate the move. It now evidently appears that exploring amicable solutions to the Burmese myriad problems with the preclusion of its two neighbors – China and India is a hard nut to crack. Umpteen engagements from the western nations are found to be effective to a certain extent, yet a proactive cooperation of these two Asia heavy weights is a paramount importance.

The writer is the General Secretary of the US based Kuki International Forum (KIF) and a researcher on the rise of political conflicts in modern Burma (1947-2004). He can be reached at nehginpao@yahoo.com.


Readers’ front

On Kanbawza Win’s “The Bulldog and the ASEAN”

As a "once been economist" and "a born again--- substitute any label”, I thank Kaowao News" for the opinions/analysis of Kanbawza Win’s “The Bulldog and the ASEAN”.  There are "protagonists" and "apologists" either for   democracy and/ or dictatorship in Burma.

The struggle for Democracy continues, and reports from places, within and outside Burma (Myanmar), one can, if living outside Burma can access.  Who represents whom, who has been delegated to and by whom, to represent the people of Burma (Myanmar). To me, we can only try as concerned persons, to offer opinions and analysis based on our experience and perception, in the hope that leaders and states men/women would come to a point of political reconciliation.

The end game to me is first --- survival, then security of life/livelihood, whether it is the individual, or the group he belongs or identifies at the moment in his/her life.

Myo Nyunt

Myanmar Studies

Perth, Australia


On “Federal Constitution Seminar held in Kawthoolei”

Thanks for the briefing about a future federal union. Out of interest, how did the delegates determine the territorial boundaries for each state within this planned union?

Best wishes for the New Year!

Ruslana 


The FCDCC's draft has indicated about the principles in determining the territorial boundaries of the constituent states. It was in the provision for formation of new states.  The Draft will be distributed widely  in 2 months time for feed back and input from the grassroots communities, political parties and all spectrum of Burman and non- Burman Ethnic societies of Burma.

Basically, there will be 8 states as was historically accepted at Pang Long in 1947 namely: -

1. Araken State

2. Burman State

3. Chin State

4. Kachin State

5. Karen State

6. Karenni State (Kayah)

7. Mon State and

8. Shan State

Since change is needed based on the desire and aspirations of the grassroots communities of multi-ethnics societies of Burma and the Burman themselves, space has been provided for flexibility to meet the change.

- Burman themselves could create more than one state if they so desire.

- Ethnically mixed areas of present 7 divisions, any division such as Sagaing, Tennesarim, Pago and Irrawady, etcetera could decide whether they would like to create a mixed state for themselves to be a constituent state of the new federal union.

Changes could be made in accordance with the provision of the constitution (draft) which provides consultation, initiation by the local communities calling for a formation of a state, parliamentary enquiry made and decided by a referendum and then promulgated into law.

These are all aimed at Unity in Diversity or non-disintegration of the federal union, self-determination, democracy and equality based on the principle that people of Burma are SOVEREIGN.

I think some more thoughts should be given on this principle of "People are Sovereign" and practically empowering the people all the time. Not just the right to select and vote at election time and give all the legislative powers (sovereignty) to the MPs those were nominated by the political parties (Global mainstream constitutions where political party elite's powers were ensured).

I think the fourth institution, peoples' institution, should be invented to pass the line of mainstream constitutions.  That still has to be considered by the FCDCC drafters.  Recent Thailand's political events are to be a case study to avoid repeating it in future Union of Burma.

Best,

Seng Suk 


It was smoothing to read the FCDCC's statement with regard to the recently concluded seminar. I, once, asked a veteran politician and a member of FCDCC advisory board on the modus operandi of choosing delegates for the seminar. He assured that he would bring the issue to the attention of the masterminds at the summit. I haven't heard yet if his words were put into action. My primary concern was how inclusive are we in this exiled political game-plan.

Although the impact of this initiative remains to be seen, I sincerely appreciate every individual for your altruistic endeavors. I am looking forward to reading the outcome of the painstaking deliberation.

Sincerely,

Papao


On “Dilemma in funding Burmese NGOs”

It is a great idea for pointing out the NGO business and the professionals spreading around the border.  While our focus is working against the SPDC, we should also view ourselves and find out about our weak point.  Money is not very much needed for our movement but how to use it more affectively is also a good plan.

Mr. Grass

Thailand


The scathing criticism by Cham Toik and Saimon against NGOs concerning the allocations of fund provided by Canadian government for Burmese Democratic movement do not pinpoint the actual defect of misappropriation. How a tragic it is to embroil ourselves back in the old tactic of BSPP even among the new generation whenever we are meeting with Mr. Money. If we are not free from unethical war of envy left over by BSPP, how can we build the house of democracy in Union of Burma? We have a very proud history of thirty young men fighting against the British legions and successfully shouldered our sovereignty back to Burma in 1948. Now we are thousand of comrades marching only in name of democracy but trampling one another in the stampede among ourselves.

We all Burmese are still very sick from BSPP and SPDC virus and badly need one medicine to cure- that is Compromise, Compromise, and Compromise.

Sadly,

Ko Ko San


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