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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America


Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
July 25 - August 12, 2005

























Dear Readers,


We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kaowao newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kaowao News will continue to grow to serve better the needs of those seeking social justice in Burma. And we hope that it will become an important forum for discussion and debate and help readers to keep abreast of issues and news.  We reserve the right to edit and reject articles without prior notification. You can use a pseudonym but we encourage you to include your full name and address.







(Kaowao: August 12, 2005)


On the sixteenth anniversary of the passing of New Mon State Party leader Nai Nonlar, Mon communities held a ceremony in his honour during the annual remembrance of the 8-8-88 uprising.


The commemoration ceremony was held at Waengka village along the Thai-Burma border and was organized by family members of the late president on August 8, 2005.  NMSP and MYPO (Mon Youth Progressive Organization) members attended the memorial service together with the local community at the Mon village.


In Canada, a similar commemoration ceremony was organized by the Mon Canadian Society in Calgary on Sunday, August 7, 2005.   Young people from the Mon community listened to speeches by community leaders and a biographical ballad written by Nai Khaing Waeng. 


The Mon community in Norway also organized a ceremony on August 7 offering food to Buddhist monks and holding talks about the story of the Mon national leader.


Nai Nonlar (aka) Nai Seiknoh was a native of Hnee Padaw village near Thanbyu Zayat and joined the Mon People’s Front at its founding.  He was a member of the Central Committee of the MPF at the time it surrendered to U Nu’s parliamentary government in 1958 in exchange for a promise of democratic reform.  When General Ne Win seized power in 1962, he was imprisoned together with MPF leader Nai Aung Tun.  When he was released in 1974, he rejoined the armed resistance of the Mon people, by then known as the NMSP. 


Nai Nonlar played a major role in Mon national politics for forty years and was well respected by Mons both in Burma and Thailand.  During this time he served the NMSP as Secretary General and was later elected President when the NMSP split into two factions after a conflict at the Party Congress in 1981.  When the two factions were reunited in 1987, he served as Vice President, working tirelessly until he passed away of heart failure while giving a speech to pro-democracy students and supporters at the Three Pagodas Pass border town on the first anniversary of the 8-8-88 general uprising in Burma.




(Kaowao: August 11, 2005)


Bangkok -- In order to raise awareness on the role of Mon women, portraits of Queen Shin Sawbu were distributed by Mon Unity League in Thailand.


According to MUL leader from Bangkok, the Mon Women Organization in Mon State promoted a Mon Women's Day by publishing a portrait of a famous Mon queen, Mi Jaobu (Shin Sawbu), the posters are now available by contacting the Mon Unity League in Bangkok.


Beginning May 2005, on the closing ceremony of Summer Mon Literacy Training Program in Mon State, Burma, the picture of Queen Shin Sawbu along with a brief history in Mon and English were distributed to the students.  The picture was found in the magazine "Arts of Asia, 1992, Vol. 22, No.5, pp.75ff". A terracotta image, thought to be made in the 15th century, with an inscription on it.  Shin Sawbu's original crown is now displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in England.


Shin Sawbu was the only ruling queen in the history of Burma. According to The History of Rangoon, by B.R. Pearn, published in Rangoon 1939, who observed that, "Two claims to fame are hers: one that she ruled the country well, no fair thing to say of Queen Victoria than to call her Shinsawbu reincarnate, and the other: that she embellished the Shwe Dagon Pagoda."

In the previous two years, Mon Women’s Organization of USA and Mon Women’s Organization (Canada) celebrated Mon Women’s Day in March (12th day of 12th Mon lunar calendar) choosing the day to honour the birth date of Mon Queen Shin Sawbu, the only woman to be queen in her own right in the history of Burma. She ruled Hongsawaddy kingdom in the 15th century A.D. During her rule, the glory of the Monland was peaceful and prosperous.


On Mon Women’s Day, exiled Mon organizations call on the international community to urge the Burmese regime to cease their military operations in the ethnic regions of the country and all forms of human rights violations, especially rape which is being used as a weapon of war against the ethnic nationalities of Burma.


To order a portrait of Queen Shin Sawbu, please contact; (USA) (EU) (Australia) (Thailand)


Wat-Chana-songkram-about-100 years ago


(Mon Unity League: August 9, 2005)


Bangkok -- A foundation stone was laid today for a Study Centre in the compound of the Mon temple near Kaosarn Road in Banglumphu in the heart of the Thai kingdom. 


The ceremony was led by the abbot of Wat Chana-Songkram, Somded Phra Mahar Thirajarn, Police General Chidchai Wanasathit, along with Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister.


The foundation stone ceremony was featured during an event to raise funds for the renovation of Wat Chana-Songkram as well as the building of the new Mon Study Center.


During the event, volumes of the newly published Mon-Thai Dictionary were distributed to those who donated money to build the new centre.  The 300-page dictionary was compiled by Mon and Thai scholars using as a base work previously carried out by a Thai Mon, Nai Ramarnwong.


Wat Chana-Songkram was one of the most important monasteries in the early Ratanakosin (Bangkok) period.  Before the Ayuthaya period, it was known as Wat Klangna -- monastery in the middle of rice field -- then it was called Phae Tongpu by the Mon people.


During the 1780s, Crown Prince Mahasurasinhanat, the younger brother of King Rama the First, mobilized the Mon people throughout Thailand to fight against the enemies of the kingdom.  When Thailand was invaded by a neighboring country, the Mon people bravely assisted in the struggle against the enemy.  After Songkram kao-tharp – the 9 battalion war -- the Crown Prince renovated Wat Klangnar to reward the Mon soldiers who had played their part in winning the war.  The royal family donated the Wat to the Mon Buddhist monks and community and it was renamed Wat Chanasongkram meaning War Victory Temple. 


The Mon civilization flourished before the period of Dwarawaddy.  The Mons are pioneers of civilization in the South East Asia region and many cultures and traditions in the region came from the Mon (Matichon Newspaper, 02 August, 2005).




(Kaowao: August 8, 2005)


Sangkhalaburi -- On the 17th anniversary of the 8-8-88 uprising the Mon Youth Progressive Organization (MYPO) joined with other exiled pro-democracy groups in a new call for a national political dialogue in Burma.  


The MYPO was the only Mon group to sign a statement in honor of the nation-wide uprising of 8-8-88 in Burma.  Along with other pro-democracy groups, the MYPO statement demanded the release of all political prisoners in the country including democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Shan leader Khun Tun Oo.  The Mon youth also demanded a halt to military operations by the Burmese Army in southern Mon State and an end to the sexual attacks against Mon women in the area.  They also called for tripartite negotiations inclusive of the military regime, pro-democratic parties and non-Burman ethnic groups.


In August of 1988, the 8-8-88 uprising broke out in Burma sparking a nation-wide general strike that was joined by people from all walks of life. The present military regime, however, seized state power in September of that year, killing many unarmed protesters including Buddhist monks and students.


The MYPO was formed at a gathering of Mon youth and students in Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, in November, 2001. It aims at forging solidarity among Mon youth in co-operation with the youth of other ethnic communities, as well as other democratic groups and the international community.  Some of its leaders resettled in other countries after the MYPO office was raided by Thai authorities.




(AFP: August 11, 2005)


Yangon -- Myanmar's ruling junta has reshuffled powerful military leaders for the second time in less than three months, a source close to the military said, with government ministers also changing posts.


In the most significant shift, Lieutenant General Ye Myint, one of four special operations commanders and a member of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, moved back to active military service, the source told AFP.


Ye Myint traded posts with Lieutenant General Kyaw Win, chief of armed forces training. Analysts said this was the first time an official had left the SPDC to return to the military mainstream.


One analyst described the swap as a "strange and quite unprecedented" reshuffle that could affect future important military appointments.


Generals usually receive the title of special operations commander when they are headed for retirement, analysts said.


Major General Maung Maung Swe, head of the northern military command in Myitkyina in Kachin state, and Major General Ohn Myint of the Coastal Command have also swapped posts, the source said.


The reshuffle came less than three months after a May 29 shake-up, as the military continues to reorganize and promote its staunchest loyalists after Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was ousted last October in a sweeping purge.


Khin Nyunt received a 44-year suspended sentence last month after being convicted on eight charges including bribery and corruption.


State media Thursday also reported four other changes in government.


Education minister Than Aung was sacked and replaced by Chan Nyein who was previously deputy minister at the ministry of science and technology, official media said.


Than Aung had been considered close to Senior General Than Shwe, the country's supreme leader.


Two people attached to the prime minister's office -- minister without portfolio Brigadier General Pyi Sone and Than Shwe, who has the same name as the senior general -- were also "permitted to retire," state media reported. No replacements were announced.


Colonel Thurein Zaw, a new appointee tapped from the military, was named deputy minister at the ministry of national planning and economic development.


The four orders were signed by the SPDC's first secretary, Lieutenant General Thein Sein, effective August 10. They were published in the state press Thursday.


No reasons were given for the changes. Analysts said the cabinet changes were not as significant as the military reshuffle but they expected more to follow.



Commentary: Advisory piece



(By Kanbawza Win)


It would be a fool if one remains jubilant at the Junta's giving up its chairmanship and witnessing the uncomfortable Li Zhaoxing, China's Foreign Minister chastising the Junta's bulldog, General Than Shwe. Geopolitics dictates that Burma is just a small cactus among the mammoth viz the dragon, the elephant, with the flying eagle under the scorching sun. All of them are out and out to outshine each other driven by self-interests, priorities and concerns. But the most important aspect is that the Junta is still in the driver seat and is heading at full speed for its power in perpetuity.


Stocks have to be taken and the Burmese opposition in Diaspora should meticulously plan out what the next objective should be in their endeavour to their cherished goal. Now that several battles such as the ASEAN chairmanship, President Bush signing the law and very lately the WFP James Morris report that genuinely reflect the real situation of the country to the international community has been won, we should prepare for the coup de grace. But still our war of liberations face many hazards and is still far from over and we have to work more relentlessly.


Since the fateful announcement of relinquishing the post of a chairman, Burma has become a fair lady, where every eligible bachelor tries to woo. Of course the first person happens to be our neighbour, the pigtail Pauk Paw who is very worried that the neighbouring damsel might elope with another person and came rushing over the fence shouting "Wor I Nee" bringing 400 trucks.


The second one is a conglomerate of our family members better known as ASEAN, who altogether vividly sees the writings on the wall of the Pauk Paw's influence over Burma came rushing towards Burma, all eager to help the country on her road to democracy. How come when all these years of one and half decades they have not lifted a finger to help Burma in the prevalence of democracy and human rights are now suddenly all eager to help? If the ASEAN had chosen to coax the Junta to have some semblance of democracy as releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or good governance or a genuine National Convention earlier, then Burma would have taken up this prestigious chairmanship without anybody objecting and to everybody's delight. The centre of their hypocrisy is ASEAN self interest. The economic exploitation of the Burmese under the smokescreen of Constructive Engagement has carried them too far and in their endeavour to counter weigh China with the help of Uncle Sam has now back- fired. "Oh darling you came late"


Soon more dignities from ASEAN, Japan and other countries may follow suit and so it is no wonder that Thailand’s Deputy Prime minister Surakiart Sathirathai had made a one-day visit to Rangoon, on the 25th ultimo, which will soon be followed up by Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhonon by the end of this month. Both of them are endeavoring to put some sense and logic on the conservative, obstinate Burmese supreme. Than Shwe, whose obsession to become the Burmese emperor has drives him a little crazy and dragging not only his country and people down the drain but also pulling ASEAN on its descent.


The third person is of course the smelly, greasy Ka lar who came in from back door of the kitchen to make his presence felt to the Burmese lassie with infrastructure, economic incentives such as the gas pipe line and suppressing the Burmese ethnic and democratic forces and so on. Shaking his head he seems to say, "Thum Ko Hum Pyar Hae" Obviously the Junta will play off one with another as long as that suitor can guarantee the Junta in power. How do we react to this and follow up our goals is food for thought? The Junta has many choices and will carefully choose the one that will guarantee the best. What card do we play is to be carefully considered. 


International Front


To understand some of the nature of what is going in around us and beyond, we must understand the nature of the hegemony game in the world. We should remember that Burma is such a small country, is merely a pawn in the game of international political chess, which can be sacrificed easily to achieve a greater goal by one of the two components particularly the dragon and the flying eagle. Obviously, the flying eagle's nourishing meal is a snake, as according to the Burmese myth, a Galon bird likes the taste of the dragon flesh, which indicates that finally the eagle will prevail.


The Sino American relations became very crucial for ASEAN's survival and longevity and Burma is the black sheep that is spoiling all these relations. The Deputy Secretary of Sate Robert B. Zoellick visits to China after the ARF meeting on 2nd August indicates that the two countries are trying to normalize their bilateral relations. Earlier in July, Condeelezza Rice had visited Beijing. The fact that China is supporting the Burmese Junta and US is enforcing the punitive actions reveals that the Burmese regime is one of the major thorns, in the bilateral relations of the two mammoths. Burma hosts China's only military base on the Indian Ocean that can monitor the American base in Diego Garcia, and also plays a crucial part in the growing rivalry between India and China. It has big reserves of natural gas, which it already sells to Thailand and plans to pipe it to Kunming.


Another meeting between US and China is schedule before Christmas in Washington. Hitherto, unheard of the regular meeting between the two countries disclose that the relations of the two are not going well and both sides are desirous to level it. We should also note that since Dr. Rice took over Collin Powell's place, as Secretary of State, the bilateral relations of the two giants has run into road blocks. The publication of the former Chinese Foreign Minister Chang Xi Ching's article accusing America of trying to be the sole mega power in perpetuity, in the People's Daily clearly indicates that a sort of a small under the table Cold War is going on between the two. It seems that even though China regards America as a co-worker is not satisfy over its hegemony while the US eyes China as a competitor that eventually one day would challenge him. It is already outline in Samuel Hungtinton's "Clash of Civilizations" after the Muslim came the Chinese. But it is a fact that China is growing stronger day by day and Uncle Sam is getting nervous, and is bent on preventing it by any means and the classic example is the episode of the purchase of the Unocal oil company by CNOOC.


China being a dictatorial communist regime is not shy in encouraging the dictators of the world, whether they are communist or otherwise and this was demonstrated when the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing was chastising Than Shwe for its diplomatic set back, in not taking Burma's rightful chair, Beijing is laying out the red carpet welcome to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, another equally pugnacious dictator of Africa. So in this impending new Cold War, Burma became crucial, when the West has already made known that democracy and human rights as its hall mark. Beijing will do anything to counter the Western move on democracy as it not only encourage Mugabe and Than Shwe but also Uzbekistan dictator, Islam Karimov who imitate the Burmese uprising of 8888 and shoot into the crowd of peaceful demonstrators. It was in this scenario that we would have to make a move. But how, is a strictly confidential policy paper, which cannot be written here.


We should note that the resolution of the chairmanship problem, have unwittingly remove a campaigning target from Burma's more vociferous critics and we in Diaspora are now back to square one. Hence the unwritten contest of "statesmanship" is between the Junta and the Diaspora with the backing of the NLD. The Junta's decision reveals a very shrewd awareness of where their real interests lie and when, as a regime which is almost totally impervious to external pressures, can give away gracefully when the benefits of so doing far outweigh the disadvantages. Are we prepared for that kind of compromise taking into consideration the internal and international affairs? Careful strategies have to be laid out.


Neighbouring Front


India’s emergence as an important player on the Asian theatre was a fact and recognized by the nearly hundred leaders from Asia and Africa during the 50th anniversary of the Bandung summit in Jakarta when in a rare gesture, China, Japan and the host country Indonesia stepped aside to let Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lead Asia, at the anniversary celebrations. Again Manmohan Singh is about to add more global feathers in India’s cap with its impending admission to the East Asian Summit (EAS), and his historic visit to Washington at the invitation of President Bush. But India’s recognition as a global power by the US came after Condoleeza Rice took over as the Secretary of State from Colin Powell, who was known for his pro-Pakistan tilt. Administration officials disclosed that Rice during her recent Indian visit, had presented a policy outline to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on helping India become a major world power. Condoleeza Rice when she came to India. She held out similar assurances to Natwar Singh and at a joint press conference on April 16 saying that US wants to be supportive of ‘positive trends in India’s global role.’


China seems to be worried that the United States with the help of Japan, is wooing India which is an emerging economic power next only to China to stem Beijing’s influence ‘ both its military and economic clout. China is, therefore, trying to counter-balance the moves of these two countries through such overtures to India as the `guiding principles’ to resolve the border dispute, which were signed during Wen Jiabao’s visit to India, and the formal recognition of Sikkim as part of India.


The US concern is China’s military modernization and its need to create strong alliances in the region that will contain the growing aspirations of China. The foreign policy honks, at the State Department have openly cautioned that the ‘Red sun rising has to be managed by being active in making certain that our alliances in the region are as strong as possible.’ The message of Dr. Rice to New Delhi was to convey that America was forging alliances to contain the emerging China. Will the Indian elephant ready for an alliance with the American flying eagle against the rising dragon is still to be seen.


If India has remains true to its conviction as the biggest democracy in the world and continues encouraging the democratic forces, there is some hope for the Burmese resistance. At first we thought that because the BJP was in power, there was a slight change in the Burma policy, but as of now the Congress Party in power, so far no improvement has been detected. It is hope that the Indian leaders will soon remember that the founding fathers of both India (Pandit Nehru) and Burma (Bogyoke Aung San) has fought shoulder to shoulder in their country's independence.


Whether India, which has a long record of historical relations with the Burmese struggle, is ready to help the Burmese cause or parley with the Junta in their effort to contain China will be known soon. A proper approach must be made on a give and take basis instead of solely on moral grounds have to be figure it out. If there is any possibility of the American and India joining together then what the average man in Burma dreams can come true. Their thinking is if America has invaded Iraq why hasn't it invaded Burma are the only questions, which the people of Burma are asking. A Buddhist monk, a taxi driver, a student, all shyly and secretly ask this crucial question of whether America might not be prevailed upon to topple their dictatorial regime next. The country is stuck in such a rut that the prospect of a foreign invasion is a fond hope, not a fear. Can we reach that level with what we are doing now?


Home Front


The Junta have no intentions of handing over power or preparing the way for a civilian government, Burma’s military rulers are digging in and doggedly eliminating all potential opposition, including within the army as the fate of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt particularize. It has not only centralized its power among the top hand picked Generals but also moving the capital to Pyinmana demonstrates that they are prepared for the worst. However the most disturbing aspect is the vitriolic attacks on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, when government-sponsored women’s groups demanded that she be expelled from the country in what is clearly a concerted and coordinated campaign that clearly specifies a hardening of policy. It also clearly demonstrates that all political parties except those sponsored by the Burmese army will have no future, to play after the new constitution, which is worst than the 1977 Burmese Socialist Constitution. But the unmistakable message is that the regime will not negotiate with the ethnic groups and the word Federalism is as anathema as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is. If possible would like to exterminate all the un Burmanized ethnic groups in their quest to have one nation (Burma), one language (Bama) and one religion Buddhist better known as 3 Bs. Releasing of the few hundred political prisoners it has endeavor to repair its image an also by the sham trial of Khin Nyunt, the Junta wants to manifest to the international community that it is moving to national reconciliation in lieu with the National Convention. So from these events it is predictable that the National Convention in November year will be just a brief short sessions and discussion will not be allowed and every body must be a chameleon nodding their heads, if they did not want their heads to be chopped off.     


Diaspora Front


Anybody desirous to make a move both in the national and international front needs to have the people's mandate. Countless articles have been written that the NLD, which have the people's mandate could not move a bit as not only its head Daw Suu is under lock and key but also its body, the NLD central committee was scrutinized every move. Hence the historical duty fell on the shoulder of the Burmese Diaspora. But the Burmese Diaspora was not homogeneous lot there are the ethnic group under the umbrella of EN and the Burman group under the umbrella of the UB and LA groups. No doubt Burmese dissidents in exile together with their supporters around the world have transformed what had been an obscure democratic struggle in Burma into one of the largest human rights campaigns in the world. Almost in every country, Burmese dissidents and their supporters have successfully used of the Internet to form coalitions and share strategies and highlighted the Burmese cause in their efforts to weaken the grip of the military rulers of Burma. But now it seems that they have come to a full stop and is endeavoring to find the next move.


Conceivable Solution


After one and half decades of struggle, whether one likes it or not the mantle has fallen on the EN group to make a move and approach the various Burman groups to form a central authority. If not, we will be in the doldrums for another half a century and the various groups and strata will also be surviving on the dole out of the NGOs. Even though the EN has clearly realize that they are unable to face the Junta without the support of the Burman group, yet we have not notice any move in that directions. They are now in the position to visualize that if they don't unite the country and people will continue to suffer as according to the Burmese rhyme Sit Bo, Taik Hsauk, SitTthar, Gyaing Htauk and Pyi Thu, Baik Hmauk literally interpreted means the generals will continue to prosper constructing new houses, while a private soldier will be on the crutches having fought so many battles and the people have nothing to eat will have to sleep on their stomach to ease the pain of hunger. It is high time that the EN should prove to the Burman that they are not racist but one of them and at the same time take the initiative and educate their brethren especially the Wa and the Kachin and entirely stop letting the Junta to swindling the ethnic nationalities.


Credit should be given to where credit is due, the FTUB should be given the credit because it has thoroughly done its homework and the Junta is now thinking of withdrawing from the ILO, but if the FTUB is of any relation with the NCUB they should advice them to stop quarrelling with the NCGUB and come up as a united UB front in approaching the EN group. On the other hand is the historical task for the EN to play the role of the peacemaker, if they want to be the children of God.


The ethnic minorities who make up more than half of Burma's population that dominate the country's peripheral regions, have fought against the central government on and off since independence but the Junta has slyly managed to arrange uneasy ceasefires with 17 of them. Now, the Junta is forcing the ceasefire groups be disarm, and pursue their goals through the political process outlined in the road map. The architect of the truces, Khin Nyunt, was long gone and even though representatives of the ethnic militias are still participating in the National Convention, the Junta has completely ignored most of their suggestions. Indeed, the Junta had recently signal its intransigence by arresting the leader of one ceasefire group the (SSNA), along with various other politicians from Burma's biggest ethnic minority, the Shan drawing the conclusion that most of the ceasefire will not dare to go back to war.  Most of these cease- fire groups knew this as a trap and so far only one small group has surrendered its weapons. Others, especially the United Wa State Army and the Kachin are still well armed. The SSNA has shows its example by merging with another fighting Shan group and continue to resist. In face of such a scenario it is up to the dexterity of the EN groups to organize the formidable Wa and the Kachin, to drive home the point that their tribes would soon be extinct in the near future if they go along with the Junta and would soon be in the annals book of history books because the top brass is determined to press on with its plans, even in the face of fierce resistance.


It would be not much of a problem for the EN to organize these two groups as after the National Convention, they have realize the true intention of the Burmese brass. Besides, the younger generation of these two groups who are going to be potential leaders are more educated then their ageing leaders. The triumph card is held by EN, if they can weed out the pro Burman leaders in time. But the EN groups should also realize that they must think in terms of the whole country, if they want to have the support of the entire people of Burma other than their own tribe or race. They must think for the salvation of the entire country, if they are desirous to get the peoples' support. They cannot afford to ignore the pro democracy groups who are the majority, even though they may be splinter hopelessly. So among the Burma groups they should invite those who are willing to cooperate and work with them for the Democratic Federal Pyidaungsu and by passed the extremist Burman groups who are vociferous and refused to participate. This will be the very first step and after recruiting the academics, and the intelligentsia, they will get the mandate and began to move both in the international and national circle.


We should note that the Diaspora works from the outside, and is not afraid to confront issues, he is extremely familiar with western ways therefore makes him a valuable commodity. He acts out his ideas to test probabilities and moves accordingly.  The other person is an ethnic nationality and although working to a similar pattern, works from the inside, and on the battlefield, therefore holds first hand knowledge of the situation on the ground. What we now need is the nexus of these two. We must understand that both work for the same goal even though they work independently of each other but, inadvertently perhaps, are building the same wall, they simply started at opposite ends? (Please read Collective comment of the 15th July issue) Of course there will be some differences in the combination of bricks and perhaps the type of brick used, but in essence, the individual skills held by each party is the key to a door which for too long, has kept Burma imprisoned?  The job requires two determined minds of different categories, which can battle out solutions without holding back through fear or criticism, even if at times, they lose their footing and are forced to back peddle for a while. These two groups are most prominent figures to emerge from what was decades of stagnation. For many years the same old voices and loyalties to tradition, and the inaptness of those who have dictated progress, or the lack of it, now finally it is time to meet. Both have displayed their courage in different ways, but both have moved the goal posts of Burma politics into focus. They have travel to the same destination, but it is inexorable their routes will meet.


Once this central authority is formed then the Burmese intelligentsia including our foreign advisors and donors will flock to give advice and help to this authority of how to steer our noble cause.  Because of their critical reasoning skills, intellectuals are obligated to raise questions of social and political importance. Because the domain of the critical intellectual is to write and speak within the public sphere, denouncing oppression and fighting for justice, human rights, and other values so dear to our heart. Given the cruelly repressive nature of the regime, the Burmese intellectuals inside the country is finding extremely difficult to fulfill the role of the critical thinking. But this critical thinking both inside and outside Burma, is crucial to finding a solution of our country's troubles and would be very happy to corporate with this central authority going all the way step by step. The nixies of the domestic policy (Diaspora policy or rather the Home policy) with the foreign policy are very crucial, if not, the key to the success of our cherished goal.


We should bear in mind that the NLD is willing to be flexible if the generals would only agree to negotiate and there is talk of ending the party's support for international sanctions and calling for more foreign investment and tourism, including a prominent role for the army in politics. This proposal if carried out, will surely sideline the ethnic group as in the days of U Nu and so the EN must not missed this golden opportunity to transform itself as a serious working group capable of representing the whole country and people and a viable alternative other than the Junta. This seems to be the only solution for the moment.


It seem ridiculous to write confidential policy papers in the Internet where access is public and should presented restrictedly only to the central authority. But in the absence of the latter there seems to have little choice. The top secret has become bottom open for there is no platform to write such policy paper save through the Internet. We hope and pray that the leaders of the Diaspora to be Wary and Wise, and will not shrink their duty to take the initiative.




The views express here are solely the opinion of the author. (Kaowao's Editor)



(Kaowao, August 5, 2005)


Heavy rains and flooding have closed down the primary schools along the Jine River between Mon and Karen States, a primary school teacher told a Kaowao reporter from the Three Pagodas Pass border this morning.


'The young students cannot wade through the water to get to the school which is located just outside of the village,' he said. 'The middle schools (junior high school) are open because the older children can walk through the flooding water which remains at knee level during the heavy downpours.'


Yesterday, heavy rains fell throughout the whole day leading to the school closure. Local teachers do not expect to open the school until the rains have let up.


'The motor road between Mon and Karen States links to the Myawaddy border town (Braewatoi in Mon), which is at a lower level, and is now mostly under water,' the teacher added. The flooding during the raining season damaged the road making it impassable.


The primary and middle schools in this low area usually close during the raining season in July and August, local people say.


The parents are concerned for their children who are vulnerable during the flooding season, says a Mon villager from the southern Pha Ann township of Karen State, situated along the boundary.


'The children usually get sick, some get malaria and the flu,' the woman said.


'The mountain water flows heavily and the river water rises at this time, which leads to flooding,' says a senior Mon community leader from the area speaking from experience.


There are over 30 villages; many are Mon, situated along the river banks of the Jine River that flows into the Andaman Sea near the capital of Mon State, Moulmein.


'The flooding may wipe out newly planted paddy fields if it continues to rain like this,' he added.

The Mon farmers in the area take advantage by fishing during the raining season. They travel by small boat to catch fish. Some fish by sitting on the roofs of their houses. The low and medium tall built houses in the area sink in the water when there is heavy raining and flooding during this time.


The water level does not decrease for one month and poor families have to relocate to higher ground. Their houses get damaged because they remain under water for a long time.


Animals, such as cows and buffalos, die and get sick for lack of grass to eat. 'The primary schools close during this time, and it is up to the weather to when the schools reopen,' the school teacher said.




(Independent Mon News Agency: August 2, 2005)


Mon State authorities have set up new rules for Moulmein University students who stay at the private owned hostels according to students.


The Town Peace and Development Council (TPDC) distributed the new rules for students and hostel owners last month. Each hostel has to pay 800 Kyat per copy.


Every student had to fill out the “Personal Form” and pay 200 Kyat. They were ordered to send copies of the form to the police, the TPDC office, the TPDC chairman, the municipal office and the hostel owner, according to students.


The new rules have 15 points including: (1) Students must not be involved in any political party, and can not read, save or possess publication or material against the state rule of law; (2) Female students cannot go out after 8 p.m. and male students cannot go out after 10 p.m.; (3) Students have to sign out if they go out during weekends. If the student does not follow the rules or acts against the rules he or she will be expelled from the hostel.


For hostel owners, authorities set up 16 rules. If the owner does not follow the rules or acts against them, he or she must stop running the hostel and face the law. Hostel owners must take responsibility for the rules and sign them.


“It is very strict,” a second year university student said. Students were also banned from entering the school after 9 p.m. The authorities order to appoint a student leader to monitor and take responsibility for any problems, according to students.


“It is very strict if compared to our times," said a graduate who faced countrywide student demonstrations in 1996. "Authorities should not set up the rule because students are staying in the private hostels. They are not staying at the university hostel.


Each student has to fill out the form for four months at a time. The TPDC chairman from the Myaing-thar-yar township quarter signs the new rules.


More than 100,000 students attend Moulmein (Mawlamyine) University, which was opened for more than five decades. Most students are from southern Burma: Karen State, Mon State and Tenasserim division rely on it for education.




(Kaowao: July 31, 2005)


The State Peace and Development Council reopened the Three Pagodas Pass border town today, says a Mon national from the border this morning.


“The border will open permanently from today,” said a Mon businessman from Three Pagodas Pass. “Gasoline trucks started to move across to the Burmese side,” reported a Thai citizen who lives on the Thai side. “Motorcycles are now crossing,” he added.


However, TPP residents said that the local SPDC commander requested to the Thai local authorities to allow the transporting of gasoline to the Burmese side for one day, where the price of fuel is over three Baht per litre higher than it is on the Thai side.


“Lieutenant Colonel Soe Htet, the commander of Light Infantry Battalion No, 38, plans to sell the transported fuel from the Thai side to Burmese side before he switches to another Battalion No 51,” a Mon businessman said.


He wasn’t lucky enough for doing personal interest compared to previous commanders because his term was during the border closure, the man said.


Some Mon and Burmese businessmen and women gave him some presents or gifts yesterday in his farewell ceremony.


‘He got at least about fifty thousand Baht during his farewell ceremony,’ the businessman said.

A Thai citizen said that the border most likely would open and proceed under normal conditions.

Yesterday, Thai authorities met in Kanchanaburi to discuss on reopening the border.


‘Only the (Thai) forest department did not agree to reopen the border, which leads to transporting timber from Burma to Thailand including furniture,’ said a Thai businessman.


The prices of goods, most from Thailand, have skyrocketed in Mon and Karen state due to the Myawaddy border closure and fake Thai currency has circulated on the border, sources from Mon and Karen States said. However, a businessman from Mon State in Rangoon said that the price increase is due to the FEC, the Foreign Exchange Currency which is getting unstable in Rangoon. Some SPDC senior member families stole cash out of the FEC and left the country.


“The price of goods in Mon state is getting higher than the normal price,” a local Mon businesswoman said.




(By Maxmilian Wechsler, Czech Press)


In stark contrast to Burma's leading exiles who often fly from one country to another, making speeches or migrating to the west, the leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU) Mergui-Tavoy District instead look after their people inside Burma, something rarely publicized and little known to the outside world.


Saw Thaw Thi was appointed as the District Secretary by the KNU's 13th Congress held last January. As the second-in-charge of the district, he supervises around 130 KNU personnel and oversees civilian affairs and functions such as education, culture, finance and organization departments, food supplies and other matters.


"It is a big task which requires me travel a lot, mainly in mountainous areas. I don't go around by car or motorcycle, but only on foot, and I have to walk three to six days to and meet with our front-line staff," Saw Thaw Thi said. He gave some details about the district, which is located in what the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) calls Tenasserim Division, where over 1 million Burman, Karen, Merguian, Mon, Salon (sea gipsy) and Tavoyan people live.


"The people in our district are animists, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims who live together in harmony. Most of the population survives on fishing, agriculture and mining - mainly tin. Of course," Saw Thaw Thi continued, "we can't control the whole District but only areas where the SPDC is not present, and this represents about 10 percent of the land with the population of around 80,000."


To a question on how the KNU finances its operations, he answered: "We receive some supports from Burmese and Karen businessmen who live in Burma and abroad. Despite our finance problems, we have completely stopped cutting trees since 1997 because we want to preserve our country for the future generations. Also, we don't collect taxes from the people because they are very poor, but they can give our soldiers who travel around some  food and shelter."


Saw Thaw Thi said that the pro-government Democratic Karen Buddhist Army or DKBA troops were not operating in that area. "And there is no  contact at this moment with two anti-Rangoon armed groups based there - the Mon-led Hongsawatoi Restoration Party and the ex-communist Mergui-Davoy United Front."


"Drugs are not a problem in our areas because our people and soldiers don't consume or deal with it. We have very strict laws against it. Anyone involved will be severely punished," the Secretary declared.


Saw Thaw Thi also pointed that the violations of human rights against his people by the SPDC had continued unabated and at the same rate as before. "They burned down many villages, destroyed plantations and caused problems to our people in re-location sites. There are, in fact, very few villages actually left in our areas, as almost 300 were destroyed. 


"We don't have any contact with the SPDC as it is the responsibility of the KNU's headquarters," the Secretary stated.


All military affairs in the District are under command of Brigadier-General Dah Gyaw, who also was appointed the 13th Congress. "We provide security for our people, helping them with various development projects and also provide a safe environment for Internally Displaced People (IDP) who lives in the District," said the General.


He admits that after the 1997 offensive by the Burmese troops, the strength of the 4th brigade has been decreasing, as it is difficult to find new recruits. "The discipline and trainings of our troops are still good, but I am not happy with the fact that since 1997 we have lost a lot of territory and soldiers. We are now in the most difficult period ever. Our soldiers face many obstacles, and it is a big obligation for our commanders and for myself personally to keep the morale of our soldiers high. This is also one of our main objectives, equally with their capabilities, but I can say truly that at this moment both are extremely good. We can't obtain all necessities for the troops as well as weapons and ammunition, but as a fighting organization we have to maintain our combat preparedness."


"Our rule of engagement is not to attack the SPDC first, but if they approach our territories for no reason and with arms, we will face them and respond with arms as well. We have to protect ourselves when attacked. Some clashes usually occur when the SPDC troops attempt to enter areas where the IDP stay. We usually know about their plans in advance and will try to warn them, and in some cases to move the people to other locations," Dah Gyaw explained.


"The number of clashes with the SPDC troops decreased dramatically after the cease-fire negotiations resumed in 2004, and both sides made a verbal gentleman's agreement as a result.  The scale of hostilities is nothing like in 2003. This is the good news for us and for our people but we (the KNU) don't want only a cease-fire but a genuine lasting peace for the country," the commander declared.


"Our relations with the Thai army across the border are good and whenever some difficulty arises, we will try to talk to them," Dah Gyaw added.


Concerning the issue of land mines, the commander said: "We will use this type of weapon only for our defense and in limited numbers. This has been strictly enforced after the last round of cease-fire talks."    


"The God's Army is finished - some of their soldiers have joined with the 4th brigade. Now they behave themselves except still smoke too many cigarettes. So do our soldiers. But these cigarettes, that they make themselves, are also a repellent against blood-sucking insects which are plentiful in the jungle," Dah Gyaw said.


Padu Thu Ye, who has been Chairman of the Southern Committee for the IDP for five years, is in charge of looking after their welfare.


"My duty is to protect them from 'search and destroy' attacks by the SPDC troops, to minimize their sufferings and to give them all necessities such as food, clothes, shelter and medicine. But it is impossible – because of geographical and other unfavorable conditions - to provide them with education and other services. We do not indoctrinate or lecture the IDP about democracy and resistance, nor force them to join with the KNU or with the KNLA. We educate them to work along with our personnel to protect their sites. All 7,000 IDP - this figure fluctuates upon the activity of the SPDC troops against them - don't want to stay at re- location sites set up by the government, and at the same time they don't want to cross the border to Thailand and enter the refugee camps. Now they are living in shacks in the jungle, and they want to be free and go back home when possible," Padu Thu Ye explained.


His team consists of 10 people who work jointly with about 30 personnel of the KNU's health department.


The biggest problem of the IDP is diseases, especially malaria, respiratory problems, intestine disease which cause stomach ache. Most of them drink water from streams and rivers, which cause disease, but where conditions permit they will boil it. Malnutrition is also a big problem, suffered mainly by children.


To look after the IDP requires a lot for money, Padu Thu Ye disclosed. His budget comes directly from the KNU headquarters, which receives funds or supplies from international organizations, foreign NGOs, churches and private citizens who care about the IDP. He does not communicate with the donors directly. 


Saw Kwe Htoo Win, Chairman of the of Mergui-Tavoy District since 1991, said that the district is under control of the KNU's Central Committee, and the 4th brigade of the KNLA is under command of its headquarters.


"The main political objective of the KNU is to have self-determination, equality for the Karen people. And to achieve this we need to have a democratic federal union," he said.


"We will uphold the gentleman's agreement, but if the SPDC attack us then we have to defend ourselves," Kwe Htoo briefly concluded.


The New Era Journal - August 9, 2005 (


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