KAOWAO NEWS NO.
Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
2 - 10, 2006
SPDC bullies teacher and Mon School Students
Village extortion as rural development
Human rights abuses as result of gas pipeline
explosion in Mon State
Speaking Mon Contest reflects ancient heritage
MRC, clear commitment to achieving Mon Independence
59th Mon National Day, Canberra
SPDC cause great economic hardship of Mon village
Hopes and Tears of Burma: Kanbawza Win
Pro-democracy movement should prepare for the post-regime change
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SPDC bullies teacher and Mon school students
(Kaowao, February 10,
Sangkhalaburi -- Mon
National School students in southern Mon State were forced to work as
laborers, while the local State Peace and Development Council commander
scolded the teacher after she complained she would have to stop the classes,
said the teacher, Ms. Mi Wa to a Kaowao reporter.
“The commander and his
troops came to my house and threatened me not to teach at the Mon National
school, instead they want me to teach at their (SPDC) school and offered me
three times the salary I make now,” said Ms. Wa who just arrived at the
Thai-Burma border four days ago after she fled from the area.
Ms Wa teaches English, Mon,
and Burmese and, earns 5000 kyats (6 US); an average soldier makes 6000 kyats
per month as stipend.
“He said bluntly to answer
his question on whether I will teach at Mon National school or at the SPDC
government school. I couldn’t make such a decision and suggested to him (SPDC
commander) to discuss the matter with the higher officials of the education
department, not with me,” said the teacher who wasn’t afraid to speak her
Ms. Wa said her students in
Khao Jear (Khaw Zar in Burmese) sub-township were forced to work as laborers
on the construction of the SPDC high school, carrying food and water for the
military camp, feeding the camp pigs, and doing other odd jobs such as
cleaning the toilets and picking up garbage around the camp.
“The students are very
afraid to attend the (Mon) school, despite me encouraging them to come,” she
“Students near the village
such as Krone Ka-nyar have to walk 90 minutes to get to the school in the Khaw
Zar sub-township and were sometimes stopped by the SPDC’s troops who guard the
village,” she explained further.
Students sometimes cannot
enter their village because of the 5 p.m. curfew for villagers to be back by 5
p.m. from working on their farms or risk being shot or tortured, so students
have to sleep outside the village.
“I have a total of 70
students, but only 50 attend the class because they are afraid of the Burmese
authorities and their restrictions,” she added.
“I was told that I must
close the Mon National School and let my students attend the government (SPDC)
school,” Wa added.
“The continual threats on
us to report on our activities including staff meetings have forced me to
leave the area,” she said.
The Burmese government
represses the teaching of the ethnic languages in all of Burma’s States,
including the Shan, Mon, Chin, and Karen. The crackdown on the Mon National
Schools began in earnest in 2003, at that time the SPDC launched an offensive
in the area against a Mon guerilla armed group who has been active in the
jungle since 1997, two years after the New Mon State Party reached a ceasefire
agreement with SPDC, the Burmese government.
extortion as rural development
(Kaowao, February 9,
Sangkhalaburi -- On orders
from the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Ham-Gam village will be
extorted money to solve the flooding problem during the rainy season reported
Ham-Gam village located in
southern Mon State, consisting of about 3000 households, must provide up to
30,000 kyats each to the authorities, those who are too poor to pay will face
problems by the authorities, says the Kaowao source from the area.
“To widen a small stream
near the village to avoid flooding during the rainy season, the village
headmen was ordered by the SPDC to collect money from the villagers, but only
the richer households can afford to pay the hefty sum of thirty thousand
kyats, while the poorer ones pay three thousands kyats,” said Nai Mon Lvi (not
his real name) to Kaowao reporter by satellite phone from the area.
“The extorting process will
be delayed because most cannot afford to pay on time; they need to save the
money which could take a couple of weeks.”
The programme to widen the
stream, started in the third week of January, was not introduced by the SPDC,
but by the village headmen who has to pay bribes to the commander to allow a
bulldozer to come in and dig the stream.
“The village must buy the
fuel for the bulldozer and give supplies to the driver to implement the rural
development programme,” Lvi said.
“About 30 members of the
Mon National School teachers in the village who earn a small salary of 5000
kayts monthly will find it difficult to pay,” he added.
They will be taken to the
township authorities for interrogation if they cannot pay, he added.
The village headmen is
ordered to skip collecting money from about 45 members of SPDC schoolteachers,
Women Affair Committee, USDA in the village who are the privileged class.
The village headman plans
to widen the stream 16 feet on either side and deepen it to prevent it from
overflowing, he said.
The farmlands owned by
three people who live adjacent to the stream will be relocated, but there was
no discussion on whether they will receive compensation or not, he added.
The village household list
on a signboard shows 2000 households as residing in the area, however, the
exact figure is about 3000, leaving it open for corruption in which the
authorities can pocket cash extorted from the extra 1000 households after he
pays his superiors.
rights abuses as result of gas pipeline explosion in Mon State
(Kaowao: February 8,
An explosion near the Kan Bauk - Myaingkalay gas pipeline in central Mon State
in the first week of February prompted the Burmese military, the State Peace
and Development Council, to force 96 villagers to guard the pipeline, a
project built by the SPDC military in 2000 in Mudon Township, with some being
suspected and subsequently tortured with electric shocks and beatings, sources
“A total of 96 people from four villages in the area adjacent to the pipeline
explosion were rounded up and forced to guard it along with soldiers (State
Peace and Development Council troops),” said a man from Kwan Hlar village to a
Kaowao reporter, who requested not to be identified for security reasons.
“The secretary of Kwan- Hlar village, arrested for suspicion, was tortured by
electric shocks, now he has lost his memory,” quoted a family source.
Mr. Nai Nok, in his fifties, the former chief of the village militia force of
the SPDC and Mr. Nai Raer Jaer, in his forties, are being held in the Mon
State detention center. It is thought that they will not be released until the
bomb setting culprits are found.
The villages will be all burnt down if another explosion occurs in the area,
he quoted a SPDC commander as saying in an emergency meeting held in the
village on February 5.
People are too afraid to go outside of their village because of heavy
restrictions imposed on their movements. The SPDC is checking up on New Mon
State Party members who are active in the area.
The SPDC has put up photos of ‘dangerous men’ related to the incident in the
public areas in Mon State including around the area of the explosion, where
Muslim and Karen Nationals were last seen about a week before the explosion,
but no Mon were reportedly seen, a witness said.
“SPDC Local Battalion No. 62 in the area said the bomb explosion is not
related to the NMSP,” says a local villager who wishes not to be named and who
has close ties to a local SPDC commander.
Hundreds of local people were rounded up and subsequently questioned, but were
freed when no information was forthcoming, others suspected of knowing
something were tortured, the source said.
In 2003, when the last explosion occurred, NMSP contacts were brought in for
questioning, with no arrests.
The Kan Bauk – Myaingkalay pipeline transports gas from the Yadana Gas
offshore field in Tenasserim to a cement factory in Myaingkalay village in
A series of explosions have occurred in Mudon Township starting in 2002, three
times in Mudon township, one time in Thanbyuzayat township and one time in Ye
township, 2 of which were ruptures that released gas throughout the local area
causing fires and environmental damage.
Mon Contest reflects ancient heritage
(By Kun Yekha, Kaowao:
January 25, 2006)
Fort Wayne -- The third anniversary of the “Speaking Mon Contest” was held at
a Buddhist temple in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. The contest tests local Mon
youth living in Fort Wayne on their Mon speaking and conversation skills in a
bid to preserve and interest second generation Mon youth.
“I always practice Mon at home. I am concerned that my friends are only
speaking in English, they should try to speak Mon as well,” said Saik Chan, a
grade 7 student at the Summer Mon Literacy class who won the first prize in
the speaking contest. The idea was received strongly by about 70 Mon students
from the summer class, (21) of them participated in the contest. “I was
excited when they called my name to come and talk in front of so many people,”
said Mi Ah Htaw.
The Mon language, while classified in the Austro-Asiatic language family, is a
language developed from some of the world’s oldest languages, Sanskrit and
Pali, the languages of Buddhism, culture and philosophy, over 1500 years ago
with an independent script that dates back to the 5 century A.D. The language
developed in conjunction with the settlement of Mon cities along the rich
fertile flood plains of Lower Burma and central Thailand.
Mon culture, religion and
language are inseparable, so when the Mon resettled in a third country, like
the United States, the very first thing they did was build a Buddhist Temple.
The speaking contest required the contestants to give a 3 to 4 minute speech
with creative output, spoken with clarity and elegance characteristic of the
Mon language. The candidate had to use the right vocabulary and tone according
to the social context in front of an audience.
The Mon refugee diaspora is estimated to be roughly about one thousand people
living in Europe and North America. The Kaowao website posts information on
learning the Mon language for those interested. The major concern among the
Mon refugee community is that second generation Mon will not be able to read,
speak, and write in their mother tongue.
The Mon community in Fort
Wayne, Indiana State is the biggest in the western world. In the US, the Mons
have built three Buddhist temples where they teach Mon literature during the
MRC, clear commitment to achieving Mon Independence
Kun Yekha, Kaowao:
February 5, 2006)
Fort Wayne --
After a two-day conference in
Fort Wayne and an online meeting by Mons throughout the USA, an agreement was
finally reached for substantial reforms of the Monland Restoration Council
(MRC) in a bid to work together as a team toward Mon self-determination in
The last meeting concluded
yesterday after all state representatives decided to work together to advance
Mon national affairs by supporting Burma human rights and political freedoms
for all ethnic groups in Burma.
Nai Pon Nya Mon was elected as
president of MRC (Central) and the General Secretary position will be held by
Nai Soeng K Mahn. They decided to enlist two representatives to lead the
Coordinating Committee of Oversea Mons, which includes representatives from
Australia, the EU and Canada.
“Achieving Mon independence is
our top priority, we all have agreed toward expanding dialogue and struggle
together for the realization of our common objective,” said the newly elected
president, Nai Pon Nya Mon.
In order to run MRC (Central)
activities, all individual state communities will find ways to increase their
coffers and the Central Committee itself will manage their own budget.
On December 25-26, Monland
Restoration Council held its 12th conference in Fort Wayne with Mon
representatives from Ohio, North Carolina and New York in attendance. All
representatives agreed to work on political activities in supporting positive
change within the Central and Community Branches of MRC.
The MRC (Central) will lead
the activities of media relations, Foreign affairs, Mon national aid section
and Mon national funds, while Community Branches will work in their respective
states with their own community activities.
Mon National Day, Canberra (Australia)
The Mon community in
Canberra welcomes everyone to come along and join in its annual celebration of
Mon National Day on Saturday, February 18th, starting
from 4:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Nearly everything is free including parking and
admission to the church hall.
Speeches by local leaders
and academics, exotic music and food, and lively dance performances by Mon
woman are among the events to take place at the 59th Mon Day
The Mon people are an
ethnic group from Myanmar (Burma) who possess a rich cultural tradition with
deeps roots in Southeast Asia that reaches back over 2000 years. We agree that
Mon National Day is a perfect time to celebrate multiculturalism in Australia
and we are proud to be able to do this after settling here as refugees who
sought asylum and peace. It’s a privilege that we are able to share our
culture, language and heritage with you, our host country, Australia.
Celebrations will include
traditional music and original dance performances and a photographic showcase
of our people living in Burma and Thailand, accompanied by an information
booth, will be presented.
Mon people in Burma, which
is ruled by the Burmese military dictatorship, have been working tirelessly
since 1757 to regain our political independence and freedom. Mon National Day
was an idea brought about by our people in 1947 to raise political awareness
among our people to continue the struggle for freedom in a modern world.
Under successive oppressive
regimes in Burma, the Mon people have managed to celebrate their National Day
even at the risk of life imprisonment, a far cry from our own recent Australia
Day celebrations. Fortunately, Mon people in Australia are free to openly
celebrate the 59th Mon National Day here in Canberra.
For those who love dance
and culture, we welcome you, so please come along and join us in this happy
celebration at St John’s Church, Constitution Avenue, Reid.
Mr Banya Hongsar
0404 330 924
Mr Din Pla
Hongsa 0402 632 166
cause great economic hardship of Mon village
(Kaowao, February 4,
The Local State Peace and
Development authorities in Wear Kwao (Pauk-pin-kwin in Burmese) village,
southern Burma recently destroyed a betel nut plantation worth seven million
kyats after the plantation's owner Ms Mi Min was accused of being a Mon rebel
"The SPDC commander ordered
the villagers to cut down every single tree that was on the land owned by the
widow Ms. Mi Min," said Ms Mi Tin Shwe age 56 to a Kaowao reporter.
"Her garden covers three
acres and was situated in a good area to grow betel nut trees," said Mi Min
who fled from the village.
Wear Kwao village has faced
increased economic hardship over the past decade due the SPDC's
self-sufficient policy and its location to a Mon splinter group active in the
area. Located in the remote border area of Mon State and Tenasserim Division
the four hundred or so households depend on traditional horticulture to
sustain a livelihood based mostly on the production of betel nuts or areca
nuts, which is chewed by the locals and exported to urban areas in Burma.
The village grows betel nut
more than any other fruit. The Areca palm tree or betel nut is an indigenous
fruit and has been cultivated by Mon villagers for generations. They spend
years cultivating the trees that yield 250 nuts per tree, per year. The fruit
is cut up and combined with mineral lime and wrapped in the leaf of a betel
palm and chewed as a stimulant.
Local SPDC authorities
banned the villagers from working and harvesting betel nuts since a local Mon
splinter group became active in the area after the ceasefire between the New
Mon State Party and the Burmese government was signed.
"When the betel nuts ripen,
the SPDC prevents us from going to our gardens to collect the fruit. Instead
the soldiers collect the fruit and sell them back to the local people and
stores," claimed a villager named Shwe. "The betel nuts were stolen from the
villagers' gardens while the gardeners were barred to go their gardens," the
villager further explained.
Ms Mi Nyunt and Han Tin who
run the village stores are forced to buy thirty thousands betel nuts. The
soldiers demand five kyats per nut compared to the market price of ten kyats.
"We must pay that price or
be fined, we have no choice," she said. "Every household is forced to buy 200
betel nuts from the soldiers at a price they demand."
In order to sustain their
military base in the area, the local SPDC commanders order five villagers
every day to collect one thousand betel nuts each to sell to the village
stores under force. The revenue they make pays the military's expenditures in
The garden owners must
allow one person to come and gather the nuts from their trees or they would be
tortured for not doing so.
"My son couldn't climb the
betel nut trees, so he had to ask for help from one of his friends," she
Another problem is the
weather, the betel nut flowers have suffered due to warmer weather, gardens in
the past were able to produce more than four hundred thousand betel nuts, but
now only produce about fifty thousand," points out Nai Hla Aung age 64, the
husband of Mi Tin Shwe.
"A longer summer and a
shorter rainy period makes the trees produce less nuts," the farmer explained.
Meanwhile, the local
people, the majority being Mons and a minority of Tavoyans, this year cannot
harvest their rice since they are banned from going outside their village.
"Mr Nai Apha age 60 was
captured in his garden and killed by SPDC Light Infantry Battalion No 273 for
working in his garden," claimed Mr Nai Hla Aung age 64 who fled to the
"The villagers must spend
time portering and guarding the railway road from Ye township, Mon State
crossing the boundary to get to Ye Byu Township, Tenasserim and they cannot
work properly on their gardens," the villager explained.
"We must porter and guard
the railway road for about five days at a time, at other times we have to
porter about once a week," Aung said. "We have no time to work on our gardens
and we are barred from entering them to collect the fruits. We cannot survive
The gardeners suffer
greater hardship economically since they are banned to go to their gardens
regularly. The villagers who risk going to their gardens can be captured and
extorted for money by the SPDC troops who are relocated every four months in
the offensive area.
"Mr Nai Aboh age 30 and Mr
Nai Akyin age 35 were extorted seven hundred kyats to be released after they
were accused of being linked to the rebels. The abbot of the village must
ensure the villagers are not linked to any of the Mon rebels in the area,"
Aung further explained.
"Other people who cannot
porter must find a replacement and pay them 1500 kyats per day, sometimes they
are taken for three days when the troops need to launch an offensive," Aung
In 2000 when the splinter
armed group held a celebration of Mon National Day on February 13, in the
village, some households suspected of being linked to the rebels were looted,
destroyed and burned down by the SPDC soldiers.
"People who fled to the
border from the village told me that about 80 houses were looted and
everything of value was taken by the SPDC soldiers, everything else was
destroyed" said a Mon National teacher who fled from the area about two months
ago for security reasons and who has a contact in the area. "They left with
nothing when they fled."
An elderly couple, Mr Nai
Hla Aung and Ms Mi Tin Shwe, are now too old to work as laborers in clearing
bush or on rubber plantations in Thailand; with no other options for survival
they fled the troubled area to the Thai Burma border. They hope to return to
their village and live in peace one day.
and Tears of Burma
For more than half a
century (to be exact since 1962) the people of Burma has been under the boots
of the military with a fonder hope that some miracle or an outside power would
intervene to save them from the clutches of the tyrannical Burmese Generals.
This hope still continues to spring eternal in the Burmese people's breast.
Last December, the UN Security Council, the world's most powerful joint body
was being brief on the woeful situation of Burma. True, Burma was not
officially in the United Nations Security Council's (UNSC) agenda but had
gained enough recognition as a threat to regional peace and security, so much
so that the members has to take up the matter.
case for potential threat was clearly outlined by the two Nobel Laureates,
Havel, former President of the
Czech Republic, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of
South Africa. Its alacrity and
recommendations to the UNSC under Chapter VII and Article 41 were clearly
outlined. Millions of refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and migrant
workers are present in the peripheral of Burma, posing a grave threat to its
neighboring countries and its prominent role as the region's narco powerhouse
with drug warlords as the illustrious gentlemen of Rangoon, are just some of
the irrevocable points, not to mention the persecutions of its political
opponents and of course the hush- hush nuclear reactor near Maymyo, all post a
severe threat to the international security.
But the big
power rivalry in the region which at present is
maintained by an unspoken
equilibrium or at arms length in international relations, the current latent
balance would be thrust to the front in the vortex of geopolitical active
competition, for strategic control or influence in this vital strategic
country, whose borders are shared by principal
competitors and overlooks the
important critical gateway to the Sea lanes of the Indian Ocean to the South
China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
embarrassed ASEAN over and
over again. Instead of offering political cover for the Junta, elected leaders
of other countries should be standing side by side with Aung San Suu Kyi and
others in Burma fighting for their rights. Because of continued political
support and trade with China, India, Thailand and other Southeast Asian
countries, the military government in Rangoon has
remained largely impervious to
sanctions by the United States and European Union.
In fact, even the military can lay claim to having some
sort of transitional strategy. While it is a sham, they have the National
Convention and the road map to democracy. Using these, the military will able
to emulate the 1974 election when the Junta transformed itself into a civilian
government. They will claim legitimacy without giving the Burmese people any
real political change.
During the Cold War era, Ne
Win, the father of the Burmese dictators, has perfected his isolationist
policy allowing the military to suppress internal opposition without
attracting international attention. They are bent on staying in power at all
cost and have crawled for dialogue and have tied themselves to China, ASEAN
and India, forging economic links that are difficult to break. The Burmese
Generals strategy is to isolate themselves from spheres of Western influence,
consolidate their power and marginalize Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD. It had has
served them well, allowing them to remain in power for 16 years. The Western
world and the US are shouting for democracy and political transition in Burma
but they have no clear strategy for how they will implement these things. They
have plenty to say, but no solutions for the Burmese people. It is time to
formulate a plan and a policy if we want to see a democratic Burma.
It seems that China and the
United States are not pushing harder for democratic reforms in Burma as they
had done in North Korea. China, Burma's strongest ally, has steered clear of
calls for democratization there, and has not pressed for Daw Suu's release.
Also, India, Burma's western neighbor, has spoken in general terms about the
virtues of democracy without directly criticizing the Junta or lending a
helping hand to the pro democracy movement. As hard as it seems all three of
them including the European Union and Japan need to play major roles in the
future of Burma and tough political decisions must be made by all sides if we
were to achieve our dire result. A Six-power conference (China, India, US, EU,
Japan and ASEAN) like Korea should be attempted on the Burmese thugs.
Burma's case it is very evident that the wills of the superpowers were sorely
In his second inaugural address, President George W. Bush pledged that "All
who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not
ignore` your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your
liberty, we will stand with you. And not only in spirit but we will defend
ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary" But did
the President really mean it? Now Bush II has pledged in an open forum that "all
who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know that when you stand for your
liberty, we will stand with you." Supposing to day if Taiwan were
to declare independence will the United States defend by force of arms? Bush's
followers will complain, "Well, of course he doesn't mean it'.
In spite of
the America's long and sometimes dubious history of encouraging opposition
groups only to stand by and watch tanks or helicopters mow the persecuted
people down our hopes are still pin on Uncle Sam. Even though we know that in
1956, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles pledged to the Hungarians and
ended up as thousands of Hungarians were slaughtered and in 1991, during the
first Iraq War the first Bush administration encouraged the Shiite to rise up
against Saddam Hussein. Helicopters flew and the Shiites were slaughter, yet
we look towards America.
As a Burmese we can only applaud the US resolve on Burma issue, and its launch
of what could be a snowball effect in its international drive to effect the
change in Burma. There is hope and the fifty million plus people cling on to
it. Even at the State of the Union address, the other day President Bush said
"We seek the end of tyranny
in our world….At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world
live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half in places like
Burma…, because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require
their freedom as well." To the Burmese
people these kind of words rings like sweet bells in their ears. What we need
is the follow up actions.
briefing of the UNSC the consensus was "The
most important point we came away with was the Secretary General's comment
that this situation obviously requires further scrutiny," commented
John Bolton the British representative. The UN Secretary General has tried his
level best since a decade ago, when he endeavor to facilitate national
reconciliation and democratization but was hampered by the Junta, who refused
to let the Special Envoy Razali Ismail into the country.
In the words
of Ibrahin Gambari, Kofi Annan's political chief, who brief the Security
Council "The people of Burma has endured
unnecessary social and economic hardships. In the longer term, deep-rooted
chronic and accelerating poverty growing insecurity and increasing political
tension appeared to be moving Burma towards humanitarian crisis.
Clearly this was a man made disaster, in other words is a disaster imposed by
the Generals over its own people. The consensus of the UNSC was that the
Burmese problem needs to be addressed. Now the Burmese people are hoping and
praying that the UNSC will keep Burma firmly under it international security
and of course all power should be give to the US and Britain to take the lead
in changing Burma.
It is already
high time for a UN Commission of Inquiry
to be established to
investigate the longstanding dire human rights situation in Burma and the
possibility that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed.
Burma remains one of the most repressive countries in Asia, despite promises
for political reform and national reconciliation by its authoritarian military
continues to commit
systematic, widespread, and well-documented abuses in
ongoing conflicts with ethnic
minority rebel groups, including extra-judicial
executions, rape, torture,
forced relocation of entire villages, and forced labor. Perhaps it is time for
the civilized world to stop the tear drops and the Burmese people and hear
their sorrowful and pathetic cries.
Pro-democracy movement should prepare for the post-regime change era
By Salai Za Ceu Lian
In today’s struggle for
democratization in the Union of Burma, apparently, there are two politically
contested views among the pro-democratic forces: to topple the regime from
power should be our sole movement focus advocated by one side and, as opposed
to this view, the other side of view is those strongly believing in the need
to simultaneously prepare for the post-military regime change era while
struggling to remove the military dictatorship from power.
Between the two, those
proponents of zeroing the movement in on toppling the regime should be the
movement priority and the talk about issues like rebuilding the Union should
be the next step argue that all human, intellectual, and financial resources
should only be geared towards the programs leading to overthrow the regime
from power. Their reasoning explains that overthrowing the military junta from
illegal power is first and the talk about federalism and preparation for
programs like state constitution and federal arrangement etc. should be
addressed after the fall of the military junta.
On the other hand,
visionary leaders and advocates of taking further steps by working out a
blueprint how the country should be restructured at the same time while
attempting to overthrow the military junta from power strongly propose the
essentiality of preparing ourselves and getting well-organized for the
post-regime change era with view to avoid chaotic situations and various
tensions. They believe that removing the military regime from power is the
only first step in our pro-democracy movement and not enough in itself. In
line with their political beliefs, visionary leaders have taken systematic
initiatives by means of spearheading and promoting their political agendas
such as processing the state constitutions drafting initiatives, raising
awareness about what federalism means for a multi-ethnic country like Burma,
and implementing various capacity building projects in anticipation of the
post-military regime change era.
As briefly laid
out above, the main argument between both sides lies in the question of
whether or not the movement indeed should be made narrowly focused on removing SPDC from power? Even though there is an ideological split between these two
sides on the question of making the movement more efficient and effective, it
is crystal clear without question that the first and foremost objective of
both sides and the ongoing pro-democracy movement as a whole is to overthrow
the military junta from power. It is common sense and understandable that
toppling the regime from power should come first by all means. Unless the
military regime is removed from power, it is clear that the drafting of state
constitution and different programs that are designated to be practically
implemented in the post-regime era cannot be employed anywhere else.
However, what the movement as a whole need to foresee is that the fall of this
dictatorial regime from power will surely occur one day in the future. The
only question is WHEN that change - collapse of regime - would take place?
This question of WHEN is a key here to think about. This is the very reason
and notion challenging and motivating visionary leaders of the day to step
up the need to take political initiatives with broad view to lead the
post-regime era Union of Burma into prosperous and peaceful one. Therefore,
at this stage of our struggle, the rationale advocating that the movement
should narrowly focus on overthrowing the regime from power without
necessarily considering the challenges ahead that would inevitably confront
the future Union of Burma is NOT adequate move.
The questions needed to be
considered are these: If the military regime falls from power in the near
future, what would the Union of Burma face? What kind of Union and political
system we want to have? Do we want a classical federal system or con-federal
form of Union or unitary system? These are the questions leaders of the day
both outside and inside Burma should keep in mind before the actual change
takes place. As a matter of fact, if the regime hands over power to the
civilian government, which will happen one day for sure, the post-regime
change leaders would be faced with the question of what and how to lead the
collectively owned Union of Burma. Therefore, it is a must based on the past
experiences and the historical task demanding the visionary leaders of our
movement today to prepare for the post-military regime era of the future Union
of Burma by means of courageously, rationally and openly tackling and
addressing the historical impasses and political roadblocks confronting the
ongoing movement without waiting for the future democratic leaders to tackle
It is foreseeable that the
sole focus to topple regime from power without preparation for the post-regime
change era can be a dangerous move, which could lead the Union of Burma into
deplorable situations. In order to astutely avoid such deplorable tensions
that would challenge the post-military regime era of Burma, it is essential
for all leaders of the movement to unconditionally accept and support the
concept encouraging leaders of the ongoing movement to take further steps by
working out the blueprints and political roadmap sketching how the Union be
Understanding the movement
challenges and with the intension of saving the Union from undergoing through
such destructive conflicts associating with the collapse of the military
regime, it is very impressive to witness the fact that the dominant forces of
pro-democracy movement embrace the notion supporting the need to prepare for
the post-military regime era. In line with the guiding principles in
rebuilding the federal Union of Burma under democracy, visionary leaders and
policy makers in the political fronts such as the United Nationalities League
for Democracy (UNLD), National Democratic Front (NDF), National Coalition
Government of Union of Burma (NCGUB), National Council of Union of Burma
(NCUB), leading individuals, and other fronts put considerable amount of
efforts in drafting the State Constitution and capacity building projects in
anticipation of having a smooth transition and rebuilding a genuine federal
Union of Burma. This historic move is timely, relevant, and noble step that
the entire pro-democracy forces need to strongly endorse.
Notably, the call for a
genuine federal form of Union under democracy has been widely supported by all
forces of the ongoing movement for democratization in Burma except group of
dictators and like-minded individuals who still refused to recognize the
national equality of all constituent member states of the Union of Burma. Let
us be assured once again here. For a multi-ethnic country like the Union of
Burma, made up of diverse national races, where a political identity based on
a collectively shared sense of nationalism and separate land ownership like
Karen nationalism, Kachin nationalism, Chin nationalism, Burman nationalism,
Rakhine nationalism, Karenni nationalism, Mon nationalism, and Shan
nationalism shape the political landscape of Burma so strongly, the classical
federal form of Union is the only best system which would best accommodate
diverse national interests and competing issues in the Union. Therefore, in
order for the Union of Burma to be stable, united, and developed, all the
constituent member states of the Union should unequivocally support the timely
call made by visionary leaders of the day which is to rebuild a genuine
federal Union of Burma.
this juncture of our movement, it is clear that making the movement narrowly
focused on removing the regime from power is not alone enough. Therefore, all
the pro-democracy forces need to stand in unison behind the political beliefs
of the visionary leaders of the day and their ongoing historic initiatives
advocating the need to prepare for the post-military regime change era which
Commentator, Salai Za Ceu Lian, a second year student at the University of
Winnipeg, Canada, doubly majoring in political science and communication, is
currently the General Secretary of Burmese Community Organization of Manitoba,
Canada. He is assistant general secretary of the Chin National League for
Democracy (Exile), a political party which won 3 Parliamentary seats during
the 1990 general elections in Burma. He was a former Chin Youth representative
at the United Nationalities Youth League (UNYL), multi-ethnic youth alliance
based in Thailand, a former general secretary of Chin Students' Union (CSU),
and was a former Assistant General Secretary of the Committee for Non-violent
Action for Burma (CNAB) based in India. He also works as Associate Editor for
Chinland Guardian and Rhododendron News, a bi-monthly human rights newsletter
published by Chin Human Rights Organization)
Guardian: February 2, 2006)