Myanmar Folk Tale: Metamorphosis of Saviors into Monsters

Myanmar Folk Tale: Metamorphosis of Saviors into Monsters

  As SHWE BA in Burma Digest

Once upon a time, long long time ago, there was a village in a far away remote area of Burma called, let’s say, Shwe Bama village. Because of the constant disturbances of the wild beast, the villagers were wishing, praying and waiting for a hero to fight and kill the beast and to liberate them. 

One day a prince came to the village and offered his self-less humanitarian voluntary service for the liberation of the village. The prince fought and successfully killed the beast, so the villagers thanked him and offered all the rewards including the right to rule their village. But later the kindhearted, handsome and noble prince surprisingly disappeared from the village. Worse of all, there also suddenly appeared a new ogre (giant) in the forest near the village. So the villagers were very sad and just prayed and wished for another warrior to help them. 

Luck is on their side! One strong and brave warrior with a spear suddenly arrived at their village, offered his help, killed the ogre but he also disappeared again later. Unluckily another ogre, holding a spear, appeared in the forest and disturbed the villagers almost at the same time.

The story repeats it self like the wheel of the history and the show goes on with the arrivals and disappearances of warriors with one sword followed by two swords and appearances of new corresponding ogres. More than enough rewards and power followed their victories but they did not understand why those heroes disappeared later and similar new monsters appeared. At last the villagers suspected that some thing might be wrong with those saviors and possibility of transforming into monsters and start terrorizing the villagers they had saved.

At last the leader of village youths organized the youths and killed the two-sword monster. The head of the youth was wise enough to ask his fiancée to watch him closely and to remind him in time to avoid the fate of previous heroes. 

During the victory dinner, the youth suddenly disappeared again. That was noticed immediately by his lover and she tried to search for him. Actually the youth had just entered the nearby cage out of curiosity, because of the attraction by a nice music and golden glow coming out from it. He failed to notice the time because he was enjoying the wealth, delicious foods and drinks, beautiful young girls and the new found power in the cave. But because of his strong will power, attention, self-discipline and self-consciousness he managed to look into the mirror. To his surprise and horror he noticed some changes in his face, like an ogre. Coincidentally, his fiancée also appeared at the entrance of the cave and was calling out his name. He suddenly realized that the wealth and power that accompanied the success was corrupting him and slowly changing him into a monster. 

The two lovers managed to resist the temptation of power, destroyed the cave and its contents, and returned to their village. Then only all of them knew the secret of how their heroes were changed into the monsters by the ‘Power that corrupts’. 

No wonder the power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Just look at the cruel King Thi Baw’s replacement by the exploitations of the empire. After the revolution our allied Japanese changed into Fascists. There are some reports of BIA soldiers’ extreme cruel actions on some of the villages. Freedom fighter AFPFL also changed and corrupted and divided into two parties. BIA had to be replaced with BDA and later transformed into the present Myanmar Tatmadaw but its leaders, Ne Win, Saw Maung and Than Shwe are all corrupt and transformed  into biggest monsters and are still terrorizing the country.  

We all are waiting for NLD and all the opposition parties to liberate our Shwe Bama but hope and pray that they would be able to control themselves, like the wise village youth leader, from corruption and prevent changing into a monster. 

(The above was a very popular story played by the Burmese Government Cultural Opera in 70’s, but once the authorities realized that the opera carried a very good lesson they ordered to drop the curtain on it.) 

SHWE BA 

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Comments

Yebaw Day said _

Dear U Shwe Ba, your writings have always inspired me and I am glad you retold this story.  As a kid growing up in Rangoon in the 60s or 70s, I saw it in the movies in a cartoon version, as a short feature film;  instead of a cave, each hero went up to the castle nanndaw to fight the monster-dictator, and each time, the people just grew poorer and poorer.  With each dictator, the people lost more possessions.  In the cartoon version, the final hero and his father lost their oxen and they were reduced to pulling the plough by themselves and this is when they cannot take it any more;  the final hero goes to fight the dictator; when done, he discovers a treasure trove within the palace, his face becomes corrupt, but he sees his reflection in the polished surface of a golden vase and he regains his senses, destroys the palace, and truly liberates the people.  But no matter what the slight differences are in each version, it does not matter.  What matters is the lesson that you pointed out.
I just wanted to indicate a small discrepancy.
In the 2nd line of the third last para, “After the revolution our allied Japanese changed into Fascists.” This means 1942.
I hope you will not mind, but the Japanese were already corrupt, cruel fascists since the time they invaded Manchuria in the early 1930’s, circa 1933, and then invaded the rest of China during the rest of the decade.  “The Rape of Nanking” was in circa 1937 in which about 30,000 Chinese where brutally killed.  So you could say that the Japanese were already fascists since then.
But that small mistake you made does not change your thesis, which is correct, so true.
In the 70’s there was another movie, this one a full length,   in Rangoon, about revolution in one of the Latin American nations.  Like in your story, a revolution occurs, the leaders become corrupt, and their men terrorize the countryside; a young boy witnesses his mother and sisters horribly violated; his father and brothers come home to capture these government soldiers and his father teaches the young boy how to shoot (holding the machine gun together)  and execute the war criminals, telling him to say , “This is for my mother, for my sister, for my country!” He grows up to be one of the heroic revolutionary leaders and succeeds in liberating his land…..
and then, in the chaos that followed, the nation again degenerates into the same corrupt violence that occurred when he was a child.
It is very Tayah kyaht zayar, philosophically sobering.
ERGO, Let us hold up your story high to remind us,  to warn us  to beware of the very possible degeneration that can insidiously begin to corrupt us when our revolution finally succeeds.
Meanwhile, let us stay motivated.
Aung yaht myi, Aung yaht myi, Aung yaht myi!

 

A Peep behind the Curtain of Myanmar Education System

A Peep behind the Curtain of Myanmar Education System

 As SHWE BA (BURMA DIGEST)

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. (Aristotle)

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free. (Epictetus)

Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change. Education is essential to change, for education creates both new wants and the ability to satisfy them. (Henry Steele Commager)

In May 2006, township educational authorities in Yangon, Myanmar ordered the closure of private tuition classes, boarding houses, English TOFEL courses, GCE courses and speaking classes for various languages have also been banned. The Government schools teach with very low standard so the education quality declined. But the students are unable to study privately even if they have money even during school holidays. Although private schools in Yangon are ordered to close down, the schools that are working closely with the ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) government and those elite schools attended by the children of the SPDC, such as the ILBC, the Horizon and the like are allowed to be opened continuously.

Just after Ne Win’s coup d’état of Democratically elected U Nu’s government, emphasis was placed on developing instruction only in Burmese, but since 1980 the Military Governments have reintroduced English into the curriculum from primary school upwards.  But since late 1987 the education system has been disrupted by a series of frequent closures and reopening of all schools and Universities.  Educational standards deteriorated as a consequence of the closure of the universities by the military government in 1988 and few more times later when widespread student opposition erupted.  In January 1991 the SLORC allowed medical students to resume their studies, and technical colleges and universities gradually reopened, only to be closed again the following December after more anti-government protests.  They reopened again in August 1992.  In November1993 Yangon’s second university of arts and science opened but because of frequent student unrest, most of the universities are closed frequently.

Schools, Colleges, Universities and Institutes of Higher Learning are closed most of the time during the Military rule. These are seen by Military rulers as a fertile soil of dissent. Military leaders hate and scared the intellectual stratum.  

Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. (Lord Brougham)

Those are mine fields for the army. Ordinary students have no enough test books, exercise books, pen, pencils, school bags nor school uniforms. They do not have enough schools, buildings, furniture, teachers or other various necessary items. Students have to go on foot or take the overloaded buses. Students of the Military could go with Mercedes and Pajero cars. After graduation ordinary students do not get jobs, Military related children only get good jobs. Military officer training schools and Diplomatic corps are exclusive clubs for children of army. To be registered in the air force, it needs a very good connection in the cabinet. Military’s relatives monopolized all the government scholarships to study or on-job training abroad. Transfer to good places and promotions are all reserved for the same privileged class.

Children of General Ne Win and sons of his Education Minister Colonel Hla Han started the trend of scoring distinctions in all the subjects in the university entrance examinations. It is a shame that Ne Win and other generals’ children used to obtain all round Distinctions all the time but were found out to be just average level students in the universities. But they ‘curiously’ still manage to score high marks almost in each and every subject in all the classes. They were openly favoured in the schools and universities and eventually in competition for jobs, postgraduate training internally and abroad, transfers and promotions. Military leaders and Professors or Consultants’ children and their in-laws only are chosen and allowed to do postgraduate studies in various Faculties and most prominently in all the Medical Fields. Now many of them occupied very high posts in present Myanmar’s Medical fields.

Theories and goals of education don’t matter a whit if you don’t consider your students to be human beings. (Lou Ann Walker)

General Ne Win started with the tradition of providing his children with the examination papers few weeks before each and every examination, every year. Examiners were also required to provide with the answers. Just before the examination night or sometimes in early hours of the morning only, Ne Win’s children used to leak the questions to their best friends. From them it used to spread slowly, and there would be a major leak just before the examination especially in Yangon Universities. As that practice and leaks were for the elite schools and universities in Rangoon only, it is an unfair disadvantage for the ordinary students from the other parts of the country.

If any examiner did not toe the line and try to question the “special privileged VVIP students” in the examinations, he would get endless reprisals. Most prominent incident was a Ph.D. holder of Anatomy was dismissed eventually from his job.  Myanmar lost one of the only 4 PhD Anatomy holders at that time but that brain drain was positively tapped and used by Malaysia. Although he just crossed into Malaysia without any travel documents, he was given Red IC (like US’s Green Card) and later became Malaysian Citizen. He got the job as a Professor in UKM (National University of Malaysia), and is now still working in International Islamic University in Malaysia.

One of the “gifted”, “genius” princess who always score distinctions in all the subjects every year, failed badly in the Membership examination of the Royal College. Ne Win was humiliated because his attempt to bribe the Royal College with the gift of a hostel failed to get the desired result. But all other “less clever” nine candidates from Burma who sat the same examination together passed the exam. To put salt into the wound, the princess command of English was so poor that she was barred from re-sitting the exam within next three years. The successful candidates suffered the backlash. Their trip to UK for the postgraduate training and Part Two examination was delayed for few years due to jealousy.

But it was a blessing for the students of Burma. General Ne Win ordered the reversal of the education policy by ordering to use English as a teaching medium. Before that reversal order, English teaching started only in secondary school and all the subjects were taught in Burmese except English proper in all the schools and universities. Since then he ordered to start teaching English from KG. And starting from the secondary schools, teaching media was changed into English. Those changes were sparked into full force when Ne Win found out the poor grasp of English among his grandchildren.

Malcolm X remarked: “Education is the Passport for the future.” All Myanmar/Burmese accepted this. As Myanmar Military and “the State” controlled all the business opportunity, they have no choice but to rely on education esp. the Professional degrees e.g. Medical, Dental, Engineering, Economics, Education, Forestry, Mining, Law etc. to guarantee their future carrier. Because of the popular demand there is a very high competition. Parents have to push their children and send to various tuition classes since primary school.

There was also another problem even in the schools starting from primary up to the high school level. The children of Military and rich people who could give presents to the teachers, lecturers and professors could get all the favours in the classes and in the examinations. In contrast to them the students who are poor or children of the ordinary parents and mixed blooded students were discriminated unfairly especially in the Medical schools. The professors simply follow the chauvinist trend and unjustly discriminate upon the mixed blooded students, sometimes openly calling names as Tayokes and Kalas. “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among rocks.” (Charlotte Bronte)

So even in Master Final examinations those well connected students pass without even able to identify the Spinal cord, definition of the Phimosis and unable to demonstrate the present of Ascities (accumulation of water in abdominal cavity). Now they are specialists and some became professors! The real unfairness is: if any Medical Student could not answer those facts they could be failed in the examinations but the above well connected candidates not only easily pass the examinations but got Distinctions even after committing those blunders.

Ye can lead a man up to the university, but you can’t make him think. (Finley Peter Dunne)

A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education. (George Bernard Shaw)

Because of the very low salaries and high cost of living and rocket-high inflations, government teachers have to double as tuition teachers although they are not allowed officially. Because the government salary is not enough, they have to take other second jobs sometimes even as the taxi drivers, if they are scared of punishment if they give tuition classes.

Although the official school fees are reasonably cheap, various compulsory donations are quite high and a burden on the poor parents. Uniforms, textbooks, exercise books and stationary are a rarity at official shops but the parents have to depend on the outside shops with exuberant prices. Because of political instability the schools closed off and on. With the bad economy, insufficient family income and inflation it is no wonder there is a very high drop out rate. When the school closed for various reasons, students started to involve in business or engaged in a job. Even when the school reopens, no one is that sure they would be able to get a chance to enroll in a professional course or the universities would be not close down again. So the students decided to remain in their job because they already got the taste of the income. Some of the students would just enroll into private education e.g. computer courses, account classes, foreign language classes etc. Rich people, well connected persons as those with relatives and friends abroad or the children of the Military who could solicit sponsors from foreign companies which have business interest in Myanmar could send their children abroad for studies.

Previously some foreigners were allowed to attend the Burmese universities for the undergraduate and postgraduate class. Now they are totally banned because of the political instability. Nowadays many countries and even the developed countries are encouraging the foreign students because of the good income generation. Myanmar Military should aim that kind of noble income. They generate more stable and long term income than the tourism industry. There should not be any excuse of not enough seats in the universities as the hard currency income from the foreign students could be used to expend the existing universities. Host country will not only get the education fees but the fees for the long term accommodation and foods. Many Asian students are eager to go to Myanmar universities because most of the degrees offered in Myanmar are accepted in their home countries. And with the competition of the foreigners the standard of Myanmar students could also become higher. Universities would get more funds for the various equipments and could offer better salaries for the staff. If there are twinning programs and exchange of the teaching staff and students the level of the education could be higher.

In Myanmar, Fellowship and Membership candidates were chosen and sent only on selected years only if there was a VIP candidate wishing to sit for that particular subject and exam. It is a shame there was no long term consistent Health and Education policy but just have to follow the whims and fancy of the children of VIPs. It is a strange and funny fact to note the shortsightedness of National Health and Education planners. They thought that there was an oversupply of Medical experts and sent for the training abroad for further studies in one Medical field only (not each and every Medical fields) for two three persons in every few years during 80’s. And even for the local Postgraduate trainings, they admitted two persons yearly in each and every subject in those 80’s. Local training is actually at no extra expenses for the government as there are enough professors and Medical Institutes in the country. And there is no wastage of manpower, as the doctors have to work while attending the course as it is a natural process of postgraduate training in all the Medical fields. And there are a lot of fresh graduate doctors waiting for a chance to get experience of working with the government. Sometimes they have to wait for up to three or four years.

But now only because of migration of doctors and population growth, Myanmar Government is facing or more accurately feeling the shortage of Medical Officers and Specialists. Now there is a new law of compulsory service and also made it almost impossible to resign from the government services. They opened more universities at various states but at the outskirts of the towns. There is no proper transport, no hostels, no enough infrastructure support and no enough teaching facilities and materials. For the five Medical Institutes nowadays Medical Students could not get cadavers to dissect. Only Military Generals’ children and rich students who paid exuberant prices could get the cadavers at the private Medical Tuitions. Medical students could not do practical training in labs and could not get a chance to check the patients because each Medical School is accepting thousand of new students every year. So there is no practical test, no viva voce, no short and long cases just theory tests only even for the Final Year Medical Students. They have to learn by watching the VCD of the dissections, operations and sign and symptoms of patients.

But as a blessing in disguise, the deteriorating Myanmar Education System had indirectly produced a lot of useful graduates. Many Burmese students stay away from the less useful local universities, worked out side and just enrolled as distant learning students. Many of them sometimes rightly choose the computer classes, language classes, accounting, and economy classes. Even many of them choose the vocational trainings.

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves. (Saint Francis de Sales)

Nowadays many Burmese citizens are studying around the world some in actual universities many in ‘practical life universities’. I am happy and am also proud to see that many young and old Burmese are speaking a lot of foreign languages as they had to work in various countries abroad. They got a lot of practical training in various business and factories, labs and universities. And many of them could save some hard currency. I hope that once our country gains the second independence and established a Secular Democratic Federal Union and started to practice to really free market economy, with the help of the US EU ASEAN our INTELLIGENT GRADUATES FROM REAL-LIFE-OPEN-UNIVERSITIES around the world and inside Burma/Myanmar could launch a rocket-speed rapid development of our country.

Learning from experience is a faculty almost never practiced. (Barbara Tuchman)

Education is the transmission of civilization. (Ariel and Will Durant)

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. (Marian Wright Edelman)

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. (Nelson Mandela)

SHWE BA (BURMA DIGEST)

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Comments

Mr. Mya said _

Very good. I agree – education is the single most important thing Burma needs to move quickly into democracy.

Lu Tha said _

Yes, I agree with the author. Education is the foundation to build a solid nation. However, we can’t be neglecting to cultivate humanity and virtue, which I think are also missing in the country.

 

Malaysia, Qatar & Burma

Malaysia, Qatar & Burma

As Mohd Noor Ibn Abdullah in Burma Digest

Malaysian P.M. Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi recently said, “APEC should return to its original purpose as an instrument for promoting economic growth through trade.” He criticized US for using APEC to pressure on other partners to pressure Korea and Burma. He reminded US that APEC is not the proper forum but security issues must be reserved for the Asean Regional Forum.

Update Note: He had also stopped the ASEAN’s action to punish Myanmar Military Generals after the bloody ruthless suppression of Saffron Revolution. His persuasion was recorded by one of Singapore TV cameras which was not switched off. Even Singapore DJ remarked with unbelief about his act.

So this Muslim leader is protecting the aggressor, anti Muslim military government and failed to help the Muslims of Myanmar (there are a lot of Muslims in Burma apart from Rohingya) who fled the atrocities.

In addition, Qatar, an OIC member, cast a protest vote in UNSC concerning discussions on Burma.

UN and Mr. Gambari are doing a great job for peaceful negotiation with the present military rulers of Myanmar and all the opposition. We need a stronger mandate for Mr. Gambari from the UN Security Council. However, Russia and China are strongly protesting Burma issue to be discussed in UN Security Council. Japan was also against but now thanks to US, it changed its stance.

 It is a shame that Malaysia and Qatar ignore the sufferings of all the Burmese People including the religious atrocities on their fellow Muslims and Christian citizens by the present military government. It is a shame that all the OIC LEADERS including Qatar, Malaysia and Arabs conveniently forget and ignored the sufferings of fellow Muslims Minorities out side OIC. It is time to change their mind-set now.

Mohd Noor Ibn Abdullah

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 

Dr Maharthir in his interview with BURMA DIGEST shockingly revealed that Malaysia had to wait for 450 years for their freedom. Therefore, we have the choice to wait a long time for a possible revolution and punish SPDC or immediately initiate a peace deal by cooperating with UN’s efforts through Mr. Gambari. We could request US to push other UN Security Members to give Mr. Gambari with more power.

We must be pragmatic and realistic. We cannot wait for more; our precious manpower or brain power is wasted under detention and exile. Moreover, Daw Suu and all the political leaders including Student Leaders are suffering in jail. SPDC jails are thousand of times worse then the Apartheid’s jail.

Yes, we need to do dialogue with the SPD Generals. Without concrete promise of immunity, we can not win their trust and cooperation for peaceful, meaningful dialogue, and national reconciliation leading to transforming to a true democratic transforming into a secular, federal Union of Burma.

All the present opposition should be united to form a formidable force. No one of us should just betray our noble cause of democracy and human-rights, and cooperate with SPDC for a short-term selfish gains. But we all must have a common flexible strategy to solve the present political quagmire or stalemate.

SHWE BA

 

 

 

Comments:

Mogyo said _

To be honest, I do not think there are enough reasons for the regime to have dialogue with opposition. If the opposition groups continue to be divided as they are now, military will finally got them one way or the other, sooner or later. The opposition groups have to put aside their personal or group interests and grudges to become united and work in every possible ways to achieve common good or they all will succumb into the doomed future along with all our people including our children, parents, brothers, sisters and relatives. Unless the day, all the oppositions are united, becomes reality, we all have to bear the sufferings, humiliation and indiginity. For the good of all people and to regain out national pride, to avoid being recorded as ineffective, divided, pathetic people, the only way is to become united or to transfer the leadership to new blood as it should be in democratic institutions.

The involvement of UN should reassure the junta that there will definitely be absolute amnesty for them if they want to exit. But it is almost impossible that regime will even think it as an opportunity for them to quit at all, because they are increasingly confident that everything is under their control and the oppositions are paper tigers. And they will say as once Napoleon said our people do not deserve democracy.

Appeal letter to the US President and EU leaders

Appeal letter to the

US President and EU leaders

 

To the US President and EU leaders,                                 

Thank you all for supporting the democratization of Burma. Any UNSC resolution would be vetoed by the Russians and Chinese, by giving the excuse that they do not feel Burma, as a threat in the region and UNSC is not the proper forum or place to discuss Burma/Myanmar issue. As they are holding the veto power, there is no use to argue or reason with them any more.  So instead of initiating a renewed attack at UNSC, where there are these two stubborn governments, who are not going to think twice to perpetrate the same atrocities even on their own citizens, are always willing to shield Myanmar Junta.

Yes, we need to tell Russia and China that they were right in stating that the UNSC is not the proper stage to discuss Myanmar issue. Therefore, we all need to request them to support the new resolution of UNSC to submit or propose the (ICC) International Criminal Court to accept the complaints about the alleged accusations of attempted Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing cases to investigate, start a prosecution and prepare for trial proceedings.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We must fail forward to success. Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Yes we must use our falling heroes; Monks, Burmese and foreign citizens’ sacrifices effectively to bring down the unjust, cruel SPDC criminals at the ICC.

The former Superman actor Christopher Reeve also said, “I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to preserve and endure in spite of overwhelming obstactles.”

I strongly believe that there are more than enough evidences for the indictment of SPDC Generals with Genocide and Crimes against Humanity.

Depayin massacre alone could be enough for preliminary indictment. If combined with the atrocities in the ethnic minority areas and their religious persecutions, our indictments would strongly stand as the castle built on solid rock. SPDC Generals could not have any solid ground of defense and their defense would collapse like a hut built on quick sand.

If Russia and China are still opposing the above proposal, please kindly bring those Criminal SPDC Junta to the International Criminal Court for cold blooded killing of the Japanese photo-video Journalist.

The proof is already in the photographs and Video below. The whole SPDC from the Senior General Than Shwe to the soldier who had done the shooting are all equally guilty of this killing. The  two serial, composite, extraordinary still pictures and video, attached at the end of this letter, from Rangoon, the Burmese capital, appear to show the cold blooded killing of a Japanese photographer cum video journalist, during the regime’s crackdown against pro-democracy protesters.

The first image shows a prone photographer – apparently injured – taking pictures of fleeing protesters as government troops approach. The SPDC soldier stands over him, pointing a gun at his chest although he was no threat to anyone, except for his camera, the pictures could show the proof of atrocities committed by SPDC soldiers. Myanmar soldier could easily grab the camera instead of killing almost pointblank on the chest.

In the second image, apparently taken just moments later, the photographer lies flat on the floor, his mouth contorted in pain. The soldier has moved on, clearly after firing the fatal shot into the chest of the Japanese video-Journalist. The military have also fired into sections of the crowd in the city with semi-automatic weapons not only to disperse the demonstrations but to kill. SPDC wish to intimidate the people of Burma that they mean business when they are not merely threatening with the words when they order the shoot to kill policy.

soldier-pointed-rifle-to-fallen-jap.jpg

The first image shows a prone photographer – apparently injured – taking pictures of fleeing protesters as government troops approach. The SPDC soldier stands over him, pointing a gun at his chest.

soldier-walk-away-rifle-after-shooting-jap.jpg

In the second image, apparently taken just moments later, the photographer lies flat on the floor, his mouth contorted in pain. The soldier has moved on.

P.S.

This Youtube Video shows

Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai

‘being shot deliberately’

Loading…

This Youtube Video shows Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai

‘being shot deliberately’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUUQi1ooEAs&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Etimesonline%2Eco%2Euk%2Ftol%2Fnews%2Fworld%2Fasia%2Farticle2550369%2Eece

Times online http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article2550369.ece

Footage capturing the last, terrible seconds of Kenji Nagai’s life has been aired on Japanese television – horrifying a nation and raising official suspicion that the 50-year old photo-journalist was murdered by Burmese troops (writes Leo Lewis in Tokyo).

The shaky, indistinct moments of footage appear to show Nagai, who was on the edge of a crowd of panic-stricken demonstrators, shoved violently to the ground by a soldier and shot dead at point-blank range.

The crowd flees, leaving behind a visibly agonised figure believed to be Nagai – dressed casually in shorts and flip-flops – on his back in the street. In his right hand is a video camera, held above the ground to protect it from the fall.

A loud crack is audible as a soldier points his rifle at the prone figure before launching himself at the dispersing crowd of protesters.

A doctor at the Japanese embassy in Burma confirmed a bullet entered Nagai’s body from the lower right side of his chest, pierced his heart and exited from his back.

The footage, say Japanese experts, squarely contradicts the official Burmese explanation of Nagai’s death – that he was killed by a “stray bullet”.

In the few seconds before he was killed, Nagai appeared to being filming the Burmese military as it faced down the crowd. One of the soldiers seems to spot him doing so, and launches his deadly response.

Yasuo Fukuda, Japan’s Prime Minister, said that Tokyo would press the regime for a full explanation of Nagai’s death, nonetheless ruling out immediate sanctions against Burma.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister, Masahiko Komura said that the footage appeared to show that Nagai was slain deliberately by Burmese troops as they charged on a crowd of civilians. The government is to dispatch the deputy foreign minister to Burma to establish the truth behind Nagai’s death.

Japanese media are hailing Nagai as a heroic crusader for the truth. His elderly mother, who made a brief, tearful statement this afternoon, said that she begged her son not to go to Burma, but Nagai had simply told her that it was his job to go to places nobody else wanted to. “I wept through the night as I thought about my son,” she said, “his job always made me prepared for the worst, but every time he went away my heart would beat fast.”

Nagai’s father said that if his son had indeed been shot dead at point blank range, it was the cruelest way to die.

Japanese television stations today showed a montage of Nagai’s work – mostly video taken during conflicts in the Middle East. His photo-journalism focused heavily on the victims of any conflict he covered.

The largest foreign donor of overseas development aid to Burma, Japan has officially said it will not cut off aid to the military-run nation. But foreign ministry sources today told The Times that its multi-million dollar donations to the country were now under review.

In Rangoon today several thousand protesters took to the streets once more in defiance of the soldiers and riot police, who sealed off much of the city centre with barbed wire barricades.

Soldiers were stationed inside and outside five large monasteries whose monks had previously led the protests, and today none were allowed to emerge.

The protesters tried to make the best of the absence of much revered monks from the protests. “The monks have done their job and now we must carry on with the movement,” one told a crowd.

About 20 truckloads of soldiers broke up a demonstration of 2,000 civilians near the Sule Pagoda, beating them with clubs and firing into the air. Smaller protests in other areas turned into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game in the side streets.

One Western diplomat said: “There have been massive arrests, certainly in the hundreds. The death toll is certainly higher now.”

Bob Davis, the Australian Ambassador to Burma, said that the number of dead was probably “several multiples” more than the ten officially acknowledged by the Burmese authorities.

Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, called for an end to the violence and said he too was speaking to Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Prime Minister and President Bush about the crisis.

“I condemn the violence that has been used against the unarmed Burmese protesters who have been exercising, with great bravery, their right to peaceful protest,” Mr Brown said in a statement.

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It has confirmed the identity of the dead man as Kenji Nagai, 50, from Tokyo. Nagai, a video journalist, worked for APF News Inc. based in Tokyo, which produces video news programs by freelance journalists, according to the company. Nagai was hit, along with other several people, by bullets fired by security forces while he was filming.

Video Shows Japanese Journalist Shot at Close Range in Burma

By VOA News
29 September 2007http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-09-28-voa53.cfm

 
This series of photos released by the Democratic Voice of Burma shows the sequence of events of Kenji Nagai's death on the street in Rangoon
This series of photos released by the Democratic Voice of Burma shows the sequence of events of Kenji Nagai’s death on the street in Rangoon

Japanese television is airing a video that shows a Burmese soldier firing at a Japanese journalist during Thursday’s pro-democracy protests in Rangoon.

Pictures broadcast by the Fuji television network show a soldier pointing his rifle and shooting from close range. Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai was thrown to the ground, apparently shot in the chest. Later photographs of the scene indicate the 50-year-old man died there a short time later.

Burmese authorities originally said the Japanese victim was hit by a stray bullet. However, analysts who studied the video obtained by the Japanese network, from the Democratic Voice of Burma say the pictures squarely contradict the official version of events.

Japan’s authorities have sent a senior diplomat to Burma to press for a full explanation of Nagai’s death.

The pictures seen in Japan also have been posted on the Internet on youtube.

They show Burmese soldiers chasing protesters on Thursday near Rangoon’s Sule Pagoda. Nagai, who had been filming the scene at the edge of the crowd, is suddenly thrown to the ground from a sidewalk at the sound of a bang. Lying on his back, apparently wounded and unable to get up, the journalist moves his arms up and down, still gripping a video camera in his hand, while a soldier points a rifle at him at point-blank range.

Nagai worked for the Japanese photo and video agency APF.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

19 Responses to “Appeal letter to International Leaders”

  • #1 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 1:16 am   editPlease read this article http://burmadigest.info/2007/09/28/bravo-lets-march-forward/

    Excerpt

    As far as I know, real soldiers always wear boots on duty. I had even seen the various diseases of the feet of soldiers who never take off their boots, day and night, for almost six months. They rightly said that during the operations in the jungles, any type of emergency could come out; they do not want to be caught with bare foot.
    The “soldier” who shot Kenji Nagai was curiously wearing the slippers. May be there is some truth in the repeated rumors that SPDC officers trained the convicted criminals to shoot the rifles (or semi-automatic machine guns) and given the stimulants like Amphetamines or Ecstasy pills to commit the atrocities like killing the monks and civilians. There are also repetitive reports that the SPDC soldiers are given the same stimulants like Amphetamines or Ecstasy pills to commit raping of ethnic minorities. I think this is the first time our world had witness a regular government soldier without boots. If that is true, the one who ordered or give the command would be more guilty then the actual perpetrators. This is a very important point to remind our prosecutors at ICC.

  • #2 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 1:22 am   editPlease read the following article to understand the proceedings of ICC
    http://www.tayzathuria.org.uk/bd/2007/2/25/e/soa.htm

    Excerpt _

    Crime against humanity

    For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

    (a) Murder;

    (b) Extermination;

    (c) Enslavement;

    (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

    (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

    (f) Torture;

    (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

    (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

    (i) Enforced disappearance of persons;

    (j) The crime of apartheid;

    (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

    According to the Commentary on the Rome Statute:

    Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of meriting the stigma attaching to the category of crimes under discussion.

    On the other hand_

    (a) an individual may be guilty of crimes against humanity

    (b) even if he perpetrates one or two of the offences mentioned above, or

    (c) engages in one such offence against only a few civilians,

    (d) provided those offences are part of a consistent pattern of misbehavior by a number of persons linked to that offender (for example, because they engage in armed action on the same side or because they are parties to a common plan or for any similar reason.)

    (e) Consequently when one or more individuals are not accused of planning or carrying out a policy of inhumanity, but simply of perpetrating specific atrocities or vicious acts, in order to determine whether the necessary threshold is met one should use the following test:

    (f) one ought to look at these atrocities or acts in their context and

    (g) verify whether they may be regarded as part of an overall policy or

    (h) a consistent pattern of an inhumanity, or whether they instead constitute isolated or

    (i) sporadic acts of cruelty and wickedness.

  • #3 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 1:27 am   editAt least four journalists arrested in Rangoon, including Japanese daily’s correspondent by Reporters Without Borders

    http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23837

    Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association call for the immediate release of Min Zaw, the Burmese correspondent of the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun, and three young Burmese journalists, who are apparently being held incommunicado by the security forces. Their arrests bring the number of journalists detained in Burma to 10. At least a thousand people have been arrested since demonstrations began a month ago.

    “One reporter killed, five others arrested and about 10 injured or harassed – the toll from the media’s attempts to cover the pro-democracy demonstrations mounts by the day,” the two organisations said. “The international community most do something to stop the repression and must demand the unconditional release of the detained civilians.”

    The Japanese deputy minister who is due to arrive in Burma to investigate the murder of Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai must also intervene with the authorities to get Min Zaw released as soon as possible, Reporters Without Borders and the BMA added.

    Min Zaw, 56, was arrested at his Rangoon home on 28 September. The Associated Press reported that the authorities confiscated his mobile phone but let him take his medicine for diabetes and high blood pressure with him to prison. His family said all he did was cover the pro-democracy demonstrations. According to the AP, he is the son-in-law of leading journalist Sein Win, who is the correspondent of the Japanese agency Kyodo and a former AP reporter.

    The Foreign Correspondents Club of Myanmar, of which Min Zaw is a member, yesterday called for his release in a letter to the authorities. Several other correspondents of foreign news media, including Reuters and Agence France-Presse, have been physically attacked or prevented from working during the past month.

    The news website Irrawaddy reported that three other Burmese journalists – Kyaw Zeya Tun, 23, who works for the newspaper The Voice, Nay Lin Aung, 20, who works for the weekly 7 Day News, and an as yet unidentified female journalist employed by Weekly Eleven News – have been missing for several days. It is believed they were arrested when the military dispersed demonstrations.

    A colleague of Kyaw Zeya Tun confirmed to Reporters Without Borders and the BMA that he has disappeared.

    According to Burmese human rights organisations, at least a thousand people have been arrested since 19 August, the date of the first demonstration.

    Reporters Without Borders and the BMA have learned from local sources that military censorship department, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, is harassing editors to get them to bring out issues of their newspapers and magazines containing propaganda articles. Most privately-owned Burmese publication have not appeared or have been closed since the start of the crackdown.

  • #4 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 1:40 am   editAppeal to the Japanese government and Japanese and Singapore people
    Min Zaw, the Burmese correspondent of the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun,
    Please do not just take action for your own blood Japanese journalist killed by SPDC Junta.
    Please demand SPDC to release correspondent of the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun, Min Zaw.
    Japanese government must give asylum to the whole family of Min Zaw. You can use this Burmese speaking journalist in other countries, e.g. ASEAN, where Burmese migrant workers are regularly exploited by local police, immigration and volunteer thugs in some countries.
    Although we are sorry for the death Japanese, at least you have the courage. See the Singaporean was hit by the LIFE BULLET. Coward, greedy, Singapore government announced shamelessly that a Singaporean was hit by the RUBBER BULLET.
    If they are right, accept my apology. But I suspected that SPDC NEVER use Rubber Bullet! Shame on you Singapore Kaisu Government. Singapore people must teach a lesson to their government if the bullet is proved not to be a rubber.
  • #5 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 1:47 am   editAppeal to UN, US and Singapore law enforcement officers

    Depayin Massacre Myanmar PM General Soe Win is in death bed in Singapore. May be He could understand his mistakes, crime and want to ask for forgiveness if he repented. He would be prevented by Burmese guards.

    Please remove the Myanmar Guards and talk to him.
    We could get the BEST EVIDENCE of the Depayin Massacre to try SPDC Junta, esp Sr Gen Than Shwe.

  • #6 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 2:29 am   editAppeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao
    Dear Sir,
    Japanese Photographer Kenji Nagai was killed because the SPDC soldier thought he was a CHINESE. If he knew that that was Japanese he would not dare to shoot and kill.
    So if you continue to support SPDC who never care your overseas Chinese, it is up to you. Please read the Wikipedia, Burmese Chinese if you want to know about the Massacre of Burmese Chinese at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_Chinese by the first Military Dictator, General Ne Win
  • #7 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 12:17 pm   editBurmese opposition esp NLD must promise and guarantee the safety of all the SPDC Generals, soldiers, USDA, Swan Arrshin and their families.

    U Kyi Maung’s speech of sending Military Generals esp General Khin Nyunt to Nuremberg had made the Generals scared to death and refused any negotiation.

    Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also failed to convinced the Generals. She said that she could forgive and forget but to take action on the perpetrators of atrocities, it is up to the victims and Burmese people. In stead of those words, she should give very strong guarantee by saying that if anyone wants to revenge the Myanmar Tatmadaw Generals and personals, she would personally defend. Even should use the words, over her dead body.

    Now, if the SPDC Junta refuse the demands of UN, US, EU and Burmese opposition, they should be threatened with the ICC. But if they give in and start a reconciliatory process and allow Daw Suu led NLD and opposition, UN, US, EU and all the opposition should guarantee the safety of Myanmar Tatmadaw and SPDC Generals.

  • #8 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 12:22 pm   editPlease read the views of Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s views;
    BURMA DIGEST: Do you see any sign of possible changes in Burma in a near future?
    Dr Mahathir…Burma is of course not a democratic country and is ruled by the Military Junta. When that happens, it is very difficult to change because the Junta will feel unsafe if they give up power, actions could be taken against them.
    This has happened in the case of Bangladesh when Ershad giveup power. He was jailed.
    It had happened in South Korea when Chun Doo-hwan gave in to the democratic process, he was charged and he was actually sentenced to death.
    And it also happened in Indonesia when Suharto agreed to the democratic process. Action had been taken to try and punish or to jail him.
    So these models do not encourage authoratian rulers from giving up their power easily. So it is going to be very difficult to change the political culture of Myanmar/Burma.
    Read the hole interview at http://www.tayzathuria.org.uk/bd/2006/11/12/soa.htm
  • #9 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 3:18 pm   editWhen I mention of the granting carpet amnesty and formation of Interim government together, some of my shortsighted comrades are angry and even accused me as SPDC admirer. They pointed about the sufferings of activists who sacrificed their lives, jailed, tortured, wounded, crippled, lost jobs etc.

    I just pointed out to them that if they are powerful enough and could overthrow SPDC by force, go ahead. Now we are powerless, weak and we are not in any position to impose our will on SPDC by force. If we want them to transfer the power peacefully, we must negotiate and guarantee their safety.

    And what is the use of hanging or punishing the dethroned dictators if we ignored the sacrificed activist. Just see Iraq. We must try to forget the incidence and give up the attempt to punish them even if we could not forgive the perpetrators.

    Like the no fault compensation in some insurance schemes, the State of Burma/Myanmar should compensate all the sufferers, with lump some rewards, monthly pensions, giving employment, projects, land, shop-lots, interest free loans etc.

    Then only it will be a win-win situation for all of us, including SPDC and Tatmadaw. After all we could not disband the 400,000 strong Myanmar Tatmadaw. Just look at what happens in Iraq. Not only the jobless ex-military could give trouble, our country’s security would be compromised. We need them to protect us from foreign aggressors and hard-line separatists to prevent the total disintegration of Burma/Myanmar.

  • #10 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 1st, 2007 at 3:26 pm   editJust the coincidence or quick reaction after reading my FIFTH COMMENT, SPDC urgently brought back PM General Soe Win. Read the following report from Mizzima_

    Ailing Prime Minister to go back to Burma, Rangoon commander ousted

    October 1, 2007 – Soe Win, the ailing Prime Minister of Burma may fly back to the country from Singapore this afternoon, sources said.

    Lieutenant General Soe Win’s special flight will land in Rangoon at about 5 p.m.

    “His condition is not good and he will die soon. He will be taken to the military hospital in Mingaladon,” sources close to the military said.

    The Prime Minister, who is a Senior General Than Shwe loyalist, is notorious and had executed the Deepayin ambush on Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, now under house arrest on May 2003.

    ” (Lieutenant General) Thein Sein will replace Soe Win when he dies and Tin Aung Myint Oo will replace Thein Sein as Secretary-I,” the sources added.

    Source http://www.mizzima.com/MizzimaNews/News/2007/Oct/Oct-1-2007.html

  • #11 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 3:33 pm   editTo President Hu Jintao,

    China used to protect Myanmar at the UNSC with the veto, claiming that it does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. But actually this protecting of the criminal SPDC with veto is actually against the majority (more than 80% according to the last election) of Burmese population’s interest. Because of this, Chinese Embassies around the world were protested.
    Please change your policy of protecting or shielding the criminal SPDC at UNSC and international arena. If not, we are going to increase our campaign to boycott Chinese Olympics, support Taiwan Independence, Tibet’s struggle, Yunan Chinese Muslims, Turkic peoples of Xinjiang (Sin-kiang, Uyghur, East Turkestan or Urghurstan) Muslims, Kazakhs Hui Muslims, Kyrgyz Muslims, Uzbek Muslims, Tajik Muslims, Mongolian liberation and Falun Gong Buddhists’ freedom of religion.
    Regarding the Beijing Olympics_
    Forced evictions have increased as Beijing clears entire neighborhoods to make room for Olympic sites and to beautify the city. An official with the Beijing Municipal Administration of State Land, Resources and Housing has indicated that some 300,000 people are scheduled for relocation to accommodate beautification projects alone. With courts offering little protection, residents have banded together to protest collusion between developers and local officials who forcibly evict them from their homes or sell off the land they have been farming. Residents rarely win, in part because land is not individually owned. In mid-September, Beijing municipal authorities shut down over 50 unregistered schools for children of migrant workers, leaving tens of thousands of children without access to education. This followed a discussion by the authorities about ways to expel one-million migrant laborers from Beijing.
    Please read more about Chinese government’s atrocities on its own citizens at http://www.tayzathuria.org.uk/bd/2007/1/21/mhbdl.htm

  • #12 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 3:42 pm   editChina has more influence over Myanmar’s ruling generals than any other country. Indeed, without Chinese support, it is debatable whether the regime could sustain itself. So, while the current crisis is not of China’s making, any peaceful settlement may be possible only if China acts to support it.
    China is thus facing an unwanted test of its claim to be a responsible stakeholder in the international community. With 3,000 villages destroyed and 1.5 million people already displaced in eastern Myanmar, a humanitarian disaster has been unfolding for some time now. Throughout these troubles, China has held its tongue, sticking to its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of any nation.

    But that policy may no longer be tenable, because it is in China’s interest to find an effective alternative to a brutal crackdown, which would only remind the world vividly of the massacres in Yangon in 1988 and in Tiananmen Square the following year.
    With some international celebrities already keen to start a campaign to boycott the Beijing Olympics because of China’s support for some of the world’s most repressive and incompetent regimes, a military crackdown in Myanmar is the last thing the Chinese authorities can afford.
    Moreover, China’s rulers are focused on the looming 17th Congress of the Communist Party, which could likewise be spoiled by a bloody confrontation in Myanmar.

    Yet China may be able to pre-empt such an outcome by making the option of a brutal crackdown prohibitively high to the Myanmar regime.
    Read more http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Tuesday/Columns/20071002072320/Article/index_html

  • #13 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 3:49 pm   editAmnesty calls for arms embargo on Myanmar

    BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – Amnesty International on Monday urged the U.N. Security Council to impose a mandatory arms embargo on Myanmar, and urged the country’s main arms suppliers _ China and India _ to suspend all deals.

    “It is unacceptable for states to continue to supply arms to a government that is already responsible for persistent serious violations of human rights and which now resorts to violence against peaceful demonstrators,” Khan was quoted as saying.

    The U.N. embargo should remain in place until the junta takes real steps to improve the human rights situation, the statement said.

    Amnesty also called on the principal suppliers of arms to Myanmar, particularly China and India, in addition to Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and Southeast Asian nations, to stop arms deals with Myanmar.

    Since 1988, Amnesty said, China has supplied Myanmar’s army with a range of military equipment. India is also reported to have agreed to supply military equipment to Myanmar, Amnesty said.

    Read more http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/10/1/apworld/20071001184941&sec=apworld

  • #14 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 4:02 pm   editTo President Putin, “with love”_

    Russia is protecting Myanmar with veto ast UNSC because they are actually scared as they know that what the Myanmar Tatmadaw is doing on the ethnic minorities are same as what they are doing on their own ethnic minorities like Chechens, their own citizens, their political dissidents and the neighbouring countries. And the Russians know that they had killed jailed and tortured more of their citizens than in Myanmar. Myanmar Tatmadaw’s atrocities pale when compare to the atrocities of their red army. Russians had also committed unrecorded atrocities on the people of Poland and Czechoslovakia. So Russians are scared that the Myanmar case became a test case or precedent to punish the Russians for the similar atrocities they are committing.
    Recently Kremlin critic and former spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed by poisoning with the polonium-210. Alexander Litvinenko accused that Russia President Vladimir V. Putin was behind his poisoning.
    Ukranian President Victor Yushchenko was poisoned by the massive dose of dioxin while he was campaigning as a Candidate for the Presidency. He accused the Ukranian government of poisoning him in order to knock him out of the presidential race. Yushchenko stated that he believed he received came from a dinner he ate with Ukraine’s security chief three months ago. The ultimate origin of dioxin is believed to be Russia. Tests revealed that Yushchenko’s blood contained 6,000 times the normal concentration of dioxin.
    According to the Reporters sans frontières – Reporters Without Borders , “through the use of powerful state companies, the government is pursuing its take-over of the nation-wide independent media belonging to the “oligarchs” of the news sector. There is no freedom of information in Chechnya, and pressure is increasing on journalists in the various republics of the Russian Federation. Journalist Grigory Pasko is back in jail.”
    Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man and the head of the Yukos oil company. The company’s assets had been took over under the state control. Khodorkovsky was unfairly convicted of fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in a labor camp just because he supported the opposition.
    According to the recent Human Rights Watch report 2007_
    The murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaia in October 2006 symbolized the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Russia. Anna Politkovskaia was known for her independent reporting, particularly about abuses committed in the war in Chechnya, Politkovskaia was a fierce critic of the Kremlin and the pro-Russian Chechen government.
    In The Northern Caucasus Local human rights groups reported as many as 5,000 people ‘disappeared’ since 1999 and at least 54 so far in 2006. Reports of torture, especially in unofficial detention centers run by the ‘Kadyrovtsy’ increased in 2006.
    The Russian government failed to pursue any accountability process for human rights abuses committed during the course of the conflict in Chechnya. Hundreds of victims of abuse have filed applications with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The court issued landmark rulings on Chechnya, finding the Russian government guilty of violating the right to life and the prohibition of torture with respect to civilians who had died or been forcibly disappeared at the hands of Russia?s federal troops. Hundreds of similar claims are pending before the court.
    Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), activists, and independent journalists working on human rights issues, particularly the war in Chechnya, faced increasing administrative and judicial harassment. In some cases, these individuals also endured persecution, threats, and physical attacks.

    In November 2005 authorities in Dagestan held Osman Boliev, a human rights defender who investigated kidnapping and other abuses by police. He was tortured in custody and later acquitted and released. Boliev fled Russia in July 2006 when police charged him again with aiding the terrorists.
    In January President Vladimir V. Putin signed into law new regulations that impose burdensome reporting requirements on all NGOs and grant registration officials unprecedented authority to interfere with or restrict the work of NGOs. President Vladimir V. Putin is acting like Senior General Than Shwe of Myanmar SPDC.
    On June 17, 2006, it was reported that Russian special forces killed Abdul Khalim Saidullayev in a raid in a Chechen town Argun. According to The New York Times, Russian television channels showed gruesome images of a body that appeared to be Saidullayev, and a Web site linked to the Chechen rebels, the Kavkaz Center, confirmed his death and declared him a martyr. The successor of Saidullayev became Doku Umarov. On July 10, 2006, the FSB announced that agents had killed Basayev and up to 12 Chechen separatists in Ingushetia by detonating a truck bomb near cars carrying the separatists.
    Russia is selling weapons, arms, ammunitions and nuclear technology to Myanmar Government. Russia is helping Uranium mining, extracting and Uranium enrichment programmes. Russia is also helping Myanmar to build the nuclear reactors. Many Burmese people including students and monks are oppressed; maimed and killed using those bastards-communists’ weapons.
    Read more http://www.tayzathuria.org.uk/bd/2007/1/21/sb.htm

  • #15 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 4:13 pm   editTo the ASEAN leaders,
    Please kindly read the following news articles and change your previous stand of shielding Myanmar every where.

    1. Razali: Belief in constructive engagement was an illusion
    KUALA LUMPUR: The belief that constructive engagement with Myanmar was working was an illusion, said former UN Envoy to Myanmar Tan Sri Razali Ismail.

    “Many people knew that the constructive engagement was not constructive because there was very little engagement.

    “Only the Foreign Ministers (of Asean) insisted that the constructive engagement was working.

    “It is an illusion they placed before their eyes and the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) has burst the bubble of delusion,” Razali said when contacted yesterday.
    Read more http://burmadigest.info/2007/09/30/razali-belief-in-constructive-engagement-was-an-illusion/

    2. Malaysia PM: Asean’s constructive engagement with junta has failedNEW YORK: The crackdown on protests in Myanmar shows that Asean’s constructive engagement with the military government of that country has failed, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says.

    “It has been the formula used when we deal with Myanmar but up to this stage, it has not been successful although it has been many years already,” the Prime Minister said.

    He acknowledged that Thursday’s statement from Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations), which expressed revulsion over the violent force used against the demonstrators, was unprecedented because of its bluntness. Read more http://burmadigest.info/2007/09/30/malaysia-pm-aseans-constructive-engagement-with-junta-has-failed/

  • #16 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 4:16 pm   editAccording to William Shakespeare –
    “The evil that men do lives after them…”
    (Julius Caesar III ii.75).
  • #17 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 12:18 pm   editPlease read back my comment No 5 at 01 Oct 2007 at 1:47 am_

    Depayin Massacre Myanmar PM General Soe Win is in death bed in Singapore. May be He could understand his mistakes, crime and want to ask for forgiveness if he repented. He would be prevented by Burmese guards. Please remove the Myanmar Guards and talk to him.
    We could get the BEST EVIDENCE of the Depayin Massacre to try SPDC Junta, esp Sr Gen Than Shwe.

    And my comment No 10 at 01 Oct 2007 at 3:26 pm_
    Just the coincidence or quick reaction after reading my FIFTH COMMENT, SPDC urgently brought back PM General Soe Win.

    Today there is the report of his death in Mizzima dated October 02, 2007 http://mizzima.com/MizzimaNews/News/2007/Oct/today-demonstration.html
    Burmese Prime Minister pass away
    Burma’s ailing Prime Minister Lt-Gen Soe Win has died at the military hospital in Mingalardon, Rangoon on Tuesday, sources said.
    Soe Win, who returned to Burma on Monday from a secret medical treatment in Singapore, died at about 5:00 p.m (local time), sources added.
    The Burmese Prime Minister is known to have been suffering from Leukemia and had secretly received medical treatment in Singapore.
    Soe Win, who is a Senior General Than Shwe loyalist, is also known as “the Butcher of Depayin” for orchestrating the Depayin massacre in 2003 by ordering mobs to attack on pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s motorcade.

    May be just the coincidence because of my goodluck or

    May be it was a quick reaction after reading my 5th COMMENT, SPDC urgently brought back PM General Soe Win, and after talking to him as he was really repented and wish to ask forgiveness. If that theory is true, SPDC has no choice but forced to shut his mouth. If not the whole SPDC would be hauled to ICC as criminals. Only god will know the truth.

    But when his medical condition was a top secret, I may have just a curious premonition of his death. But anyway, we lost the best opportunity to prove the Depayin Massacre.

  • #18 Dr San Oo Aung Says:
    October 3rd, 2007 at 12:38 pm   editThere is a saying_
    Man propose, God dispose meaning; if man proposes evil, God disposes of it.
    [c 1420 T. À Kempis De Imitatione Christi I. xix.] The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. Oxford University Press, 2004.
    SPDC and Senior General Than Shwe (proposes) promoted General Soe Win to the post of Prime Minister of Myanmar, after the Depayin Massacre.
    But tragically, God disposed him with the Leukaemia.
    SPDC Junta Generals should get enlightenment from this incidence.

We need EITI in Burma

We need EITI in Burma

 

_ By Maha Bandoola

EITI stands for Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Myanmar/Burma  is a resource rich country, rich in minerals, jewelry, forestry products, petroleum and Natural Gas and as SPDC Military Junta is mis-using our country’s wealth, most of the people in Myanmar are poor. I believe that this is a very good message and knowledge to give to our people.

In the interview with Burma Digest, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, said_

 “It saddens me that a country that is, that has tremendous potential, very very rich should actually remained poor, because the government has not worked out a solution that would benefit the people of Burma. Do you know, Burma is very rich, a lot of minerals, a lot of precious stones.

But wealth by itself, existence of wealth by itself, does not mean anything, until the wealth is mobilized.

So the government can, even if it is an authoritarian, it still can work hard for the people.”

George Soros (born August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary) is an American financial speculator, stock investor, philanthropist and liberal political activist.

Currently, he is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute. The Burma Project was established OSI in 1994 for the purpose of increasing international awareness of conditions in Burma and helping the country make the transition from a closed to an open society.

His support for the Solidarity labour movement in Poland, as well as the Czechoslovakian human rights organization Charter 77, contributed to ending the Soviet Union‘s rule in those nations. His funding and organization of Georgia‘s Rose Revolution was considered by Russian and Western observers to have been crucial to its success. 

He recently went to Indonesia and campaigned there to take real action on Myanmar once Indonesia became the UNSC member in January 2007.

After that he visited Malaysia and pointed Petronas Twin Tower and mentioned about EITI.

The EITI supports improved governance in resource-rich countries through the full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining.

 

‘Weak governance breeds corruption and poverty’

Many countries are rich in oil, gas, and minerals and studies have shown that when governance is good, these can generate large revenues to foster economic growth and reduce poverty.

However when governance is weak, they may instead cause poverty, corruption, and conflict – the so called “resource curse”.

The EITI aims to defeat this “curse” by improving transparency and accountability.

“Knowing what governments receive, and what companies pay, is critical first step to holding decision-makers accountable for the use of those revenues,” EITI says.

“Implementing EITI as part of a programme of improved governance will help to ensure that oil, gas, and mining revenues contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction.”

Corruption and political instability caused by the plundering of national wealth, and poverty, are two challenges facing companies and investors in the extractive industries. Supporting EITI in countries where they operate, it is reasoned, can help mitigate these investment risks, which in turn threatens investments which are often capital intensive and long-term in nature.

 

Civil society

Civil society can benefit from an increased amount of information in the public domain about those revenues that governments manage on behalf of citizens, thereby increasing accountability and improving transparency.

 

Which countries are implementing EITI?

Some twenty countries have either endorsed, or are now actively implementing EITI across the world – from Peru, to Trinidad and Tobago, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, and East Timor.

 

Who else is involved?

EITI is supported by an International Secretariat presently based in the UK’s Department for International Development. The Secretariat works closely with the World Bank and the IMF. In addition to the implementing governments, EITI is supported by donors; by many of the largest oil and mining companies in the world, as well as investors in those companies; and by different civil society groups who work under the umbrella of the Publish What You Pay Coalition and the Revenue Watch Institute.

 

EITI Priniciples and Criteria

1.       We share a belief that the prudent use of natural resource wealth should be an important engine for sustainable economic growth that contributes to sustainable development and poverty reduction, but if not managed properly, can create negative economic and social impacts.

2.       We affirm that management of natural resource wealth for the benefit of a country’s citizens is in the domain of sovereign governments to be exercised in the interests of their national development.

3.       We recognise that a public understanding of government revenues and expenditure over time could help public debate and inform choice of appropriate and realistic options for sustainable development.

4.       We underline the importance of transparency by governments and companies in the extractive industries and the need to enhance public financial management and accountability.

5.       We believe in the principle and practice of accountability by government to all citizens for the stewardship of revenue streams and public expenditure.

6.       We are committed to encouraging high standards of transparency and accountability in public life, government operations and in business,

7.       We believe that a broadly consistent and workable approach to the disclosure of payments and revenues is required, which is simple to undertake and to use.

8.       We believe that payments’ disclosure in a given country should involve all extractive industry companies operating in that country.

9.       In seeking solutions, we believe that all stakeholders have important and relevant contributions to make – including governments and their agencies, extractive industry companies, service companies, multilateral organisations, financial organisations, investors, and non-governmental organisations.

The EITI Criteria

1.       Regular publication of all material oil, gas and mining payments by companies to governments (“payments”) and all material revenues received by governments from oil, gas and mining companies (“revenues”) to a wide audience in a publicly  accessible, comprehensive and comprehensible manner.

2.       Where such audits do not already exist, payments and revenues are the subject of a credible, independent audit, applying international auditing standards.

3.       Payments and revenues are reconciled by a credible, independent administrator, applying international auditing standards and with publication of the administrator’s opinion regarding that reconciliation including discrepancies, should any be identified.

4.       This approach is extended to all companies including state-owned enterprises

5.       Civil society is actively engaged as a participant in the design, monitoring and evaluation of this process and contributes towards public debate.

6.       A public, financially sustainable work plan for all the above is developed by the host government, with assistance from the international financial institutions where required, including measurable targets, a timetable for implementation, and an assessment of potential capacity constraints.

http://www.eitransparency.org/section/abouteiti/principlescriteria

 

EITI Countries

Over 20 countries have committed to EITI principles and criteria since the EITI Lancaster House Conference in June 2003. Some countries are only beginning to launch the process, while others have published revenue and payments data.

 

 

Africa

·                                 Angola

·                                 Cameroon

·                                 Chad

·                                 Congo, Democratic Republic of

·                                 Congo, Republic of

·                                 Equatorial Guinea

·                                 Gabon

·                                 Ghana

·                                 Guinea

·                                 Mauritania

·                                 Niger

·                                 Nigeria

·                                 Sao Tome and Principe

·                                 Sierra Leone

Europe and Central Asia

·                                 Azerbaijan

·                                 Kazakhstan

·                                 Kyrgyz Republic

East Asia and Pacific

·                                 Mongolia

·                                 Timor Leste

Latin America and the Caribbean

·                                 Bolivia

·                                 Peru

·                                 Trinidad & Tobago

 

Benefits of EITI

Countries rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, and mining have tended to under-perform economically, have a higher incidence of conflict, and suffer from poor governance. These effects are not inevitable and it is hoped that by encouraging greater transparency in countries rich in these resources, some of the negative impacts can be mitigated.

Benefits for implementing countries include an improved investment climate by providing a clear signal to investors and the international financial institutions that the government is committed to greater transparency. EITI also assists in strengthening accountability and good governance, as well as promoting greater economic and political stability. This, in turn, can contribute to the prevention of conflict based around the oil, mining and gas sectors.

Benefits to companies and investors centre on mitigating political and reputation risks. Political instability caused by opaque governance is a clear threat to investments. In extractive industries, where investments are capital intensive and dependent on long-term stability to generate returns, reducing such instability is beneficial. Transparency of payments made to a government can also help to demonstrate the contribution that their investment makes to a country.

For further reading: www.eitransparency.org

Warning to all the Universities around the world

Warning to all the Universities around the world

 MAHA BANDULA (that’s me in Burma Digest)

Nowadays Myanmar Military or Tatmadaw has opened their own universities. Now they have their own universities to produce Medical Graduates, Engineers, and almost all kinds of professionals. Entrance criteria are just to pass the tenth grade and must be pure Burmese Buddhists. If related to the Tatmadaw officers, they could be helped in the examinations and given an almost automatic acceptance in one of their universities. Scores and gradings are not important. Anyone who is willing to be enlisted in the Military, even if one just scored 20 marks out of 100 would be definitely accepted especially if one is related to someone in Tatmadaw. They are given monthly salaries from Tatmadaw as a military personal. And no need to worry about the examinations nor attendance percentages. All the exam questions, and answers to those questions, are usually given to exam candidates during revision classes before each and every examination. The causes of the drop outs or failures are due to the reports of their background checks by special agents only. Each and every one of those Military enlisted students, their parents and grandparents are checked thoroughly and if any one of them has mixed blood or involvement in politics, the student would be expelled from the respective university.

Because of the notorious, shameful, widespread knowledge about the lack of higher education of most of the Military leaders, now Senior General Than Shwe himself had ordered a new rule to improve the image of the Tatmadaw. All the Military officers’ wives are ordered to sit the 10th standard or matriculation examinations. For them also, there is no need to worry about the examinations because the questions are given in advance and they all are put into the special examination rooms in each and every examination centers so that they are free to copy from the note books. Even then many of them face difficulty to find the relevant and appropriate answers in their note books and text books. But even if they just score 10 marks out of 100 they were regarded or accepted as passing the examinations. And so there used to be almost 101% pass rates for the wives of military persons. (Burma Digest readers should not question the 101% as a ridiculous pass rate as all the Myanmar people had already accepted that there could be 1% error by the over enthusiastic examiners, who were ordered by the higher authorities to give at least 100% pass rate. And if the 1% error is on the minus side and the pass rate go down to 99% they could be punished, demoted or transferred to the remote places).

And those wives of military officers are encouraged to enroll in the open or distant learning Higher Institutes or Universities and are graduated in due course by just repeating the above system of examinations. Alas! Now at least the families of Military are graduates of Universities. Who in the right mind could claim that the SPDC Generals and Tatmadaw people are illiterate?

Workers, Farmers, Intellectuals, Students, Monks, Employers, Landlords, and Artists are not the favoured class under the successive Myanmar Military rulers. So the Military class is the most favoured in BSPP, SLORC and SPCD Military governments. Among them the families, in-laws, business partners and friends of the Generals form the VVIP class.

Myanmar Tatmadaw has failed dismally to perform even its first and primary function, which is to ensure the security, not only of the residents of the capital, but the people of the whole country.” Very large majorities of the people had openly rejected Myanmar Tatmadaw’s political function during the last free and fair elections, and this rejection must form the basic part of the political reform process.

Myanmar Military has a credibility problem, the Tatmadaw, or the armed forces, lack popular support. Not only has the Tatmadaw failed to perform its duties. The Tatmadaw is killing the innocent people, committing violence in ethnic minority areas, creating religious riots, and practicing ethnic cleansing.

Furthermore, while Burma remains one of the poorest countries in the world, the Tatmadaw’s defense spending is 40% of the national budget and the generals and their families have become the country’s millionaires. Ironically, Burma’s generals claim that they had ‘saved’ the country. But today, this has become a joke in Burma. Despite holding power for more than 40 years, the self-styled armed ‘saviors of the country’ have saved only themselves, their families and friends.”

“For a long time the state of Myanmar’s children was perhaps one of the country’s best kept secrets. Decades of self-imposed isolation, fabricated statistics and the absence of social research and journalistic inquiry had created a false image of social developments… In fact, neither the outside world nor even the authorities inside Myanmar have an accurate or complete appreciation of the very serious conditions in the social sectors.”

After wasting time for many years without transferring the state power to the rightful owner, NLD, by giving lame excuses, the Army even dare to blame and belittle Daw Su, contrary to the internationally accepted norms. It is like the thief running away from the pursuing crowd, in order to confuse the people in front of him, shouting, “Thief! Thief! Thief! Then only the real thief, SPDC Generals could disguise as a Good Samaritan pursuing the thief. What a shame! Burma Military robbed the whole country and trying to confuse the people of the whole world.

In his annual Armed Forces Day address to the country on March 27 General Than Shwe, the chairman of SLORC said, “by seizing power in September 1998, the military had ‘saved the country from all dangers’. If it had not done so, the country ‘would have fallen like some east European nations which fell apart, and bloodshed would have continued to the present’. The army was not ‘like a blind elephant pushing its way through the jungle’, but was “systematically managing and implementing the political, economic and social sectors by laying down firm objectives”. The three main political duties of the armed forces were maintaining peace and stability, national reconciliation and producing a new state constitution.(Sic) He highlighted the success of the junta in inviting most of the armed insurgent groups to return to the legal fold. He added that, with the changing situation in the international arena, it was “essential to remain ever vigilant and safeguard independence and sovereignty”. (Usual propaganda by all the dictators of the world).

By the end of the 1990s, cease-fire accords with the junta had been signed by 17 ethnic groups in exchange for a large measure of autonomy and advantageous concessions which included holding on to their weapons, control of lucrative cross-border trade, exploitation of teak forests, mining of precious stones and, sometimes, management of the opium trade.

But Burmese people are not easily fooled with these propaganda warfares of Than Shwe. Neither the whole world population believes them, except the Neo Fascist Japanese leaders, mainland Chinese leaders, Indian Government, Russia government and some Asean leaders like Thaksin from Thailand. But most of us already knew that those leaders support the illegal Myanmar Military government had their own agenda guided by sheer greed not only for their nations but especially for their cronies, families and friends’ business. We hope they would repent in time and pressure their naughty friends, Myanmar Military Generals to avoid the fate of Suharto, Mussolini, Starling and Hitler etc.

The children and relatives of Tatmadaw or Myanmar Military are openly favoured in the schools and universities and eventually in competition for jobs, postgraduate training internally and abroad, transfers and promotions. Military leaders’ children and their in-laws only are chosen and allowed to do postgraduate studies in various Universities, Faculties, most prominently in all the Medical Fields. And if there is any offer of scholarship from abroad for further studies or training abroad, they are favoured, chosen and sent without any professional meritocracy or seniority.

So we hereby wish to forewarn the various Education, Health and Public Services Authorities around the world about the low quality Military Education system practiced upon the Military relatives. If you all wish to curry the favour of the SPDC Junta you accept them to study, train and work in your countries with your own risks. You risked the legal actions of your own citizens affected by those lowest grades valueless Myanmar Military Graduates.
MAHA BANDULA

………………………………………………

Comments

Saw Winston Taw said _

           Well said. Every University all over the world worth its salt should take heed.

Dave Law said _

Dear General Bandula, once again, your pen has proved to be mightier than all the swords of Pyinmanar Min.

After reading the sad state of Myanmar Military higher education, I can only say that for them, and for them especially, we must change the Burmese word, Bwairt Hninn Thabin (Graduation Ceremony), into Bwet Ninn Thamin (Stepping into the MUD deliberately). Well, to be grammatically correctly, the adverb, thamin (deliberately), in Burmese should be placed before, not after.

So, for the stupid sons and daughters of the military, they are “thamin bwet ninn” or deliberately stepping into the mud.

Almost 30 years ago, back in 1978 or 1979, the darling daughter of [Yoo] Ne Win [i.e., Ah Nar Yoo] Dr. Sanda Win, went to UK, the real UK, not Upper Kyandaw, to take the entrance exams of the British medical system.  ….one of those MRCS or FRCS programs that are extremely difficult to pass. She failed, and she blamed the Burmese education system.  So Daddy Ne Win ordered an improvement of the system.

Well, now, almost 30 years have passed…..and the Mighty Myanmar Army has risen from the small 180,000 men of that era to the NOW, almost 500,000 men.  And now, they have nuclear potentials, bigger naval gunboats, MiG fighter squadron, and the latest MA 1, MA 2 assault rifles. As well as helicopters, rockets, trucks, and tanks. Such a Mighty, Myanmar Army…..

But in reality, all of it is based on nothing but just Myanmar Mud (Burmese Bwet).  How can Pyimanar Shin hope to run a proper modern army, let alone a nation, with a bunch of mud-headed graduates?

Aung Kyaw Soe said _

I agree that it the Burmese educators and examiners let wives of some armed forces officers pass high school leaving exams without learning.

I agree that military affiliated institutions are enjoying unfair privileges over civilian peers. Admission criteria for some candidates with right connection may be lowered by officials. I also doubt about the academic freedom and room to grow in those military universities.

But I disagree that all graduates of pseudo-military universities are substandard. I think they are as competent as graduates from civilian institutions. Many of them are the sons of any ordinary Burmese who chose those military universities over civilian universities because of career options, mobility and guaranteed employment.

UNITED WE STAND, divided we loose

UNITED WE STAND, divided we loose 

MAHA BAN DOOLA (One of my Pseudonyms) in Burma Digest

 

 

Daw Aung San Su Kyi once comments regarding the political extremists, religious fanatics and ultra nationalists,  

“Well, there are people who think that it’s right to do any thing in the name of their religion, their race, their family, or any organization to which they may belong.” 

During my schooling days, my one Englis h teacher was a Jew and another was a Christian. My Mathematics teacher was an Indian Hindu, Chemistry teacher was a Muslim. Our football coach and PT teacher was also a Muslim. He was like “COACH CARTER” to us. (Coach Carter was a real story of a very famous basketball coach.) Because of his discipline and intelligent handling of our team, our school team was the best in the whole district and all our team members got good marks and enter the professional universities. I, a Burmese Buddhist, was the team captain playing at midfield. My partner was a Muslim and because of the two of us’ team work and support three Burmese and one Rakhine shooters could score a lot. Our goal keeper was a Brahman and if he was in front of the goal posts we felt secured as if the goal post was sealed with cement.  One tough Chin and another stout Karin backer also saved us from many goals. Our two best Chinese friends never played football but never missed a match to encourage us and they successfully forced their rich fathers to support our team with more than enough financial supports. Although now we were all married and most of us migrated to different countries, we all are still in touch and we missed each other. I even dreams about them not less than once a month.  

Please don’t angry with me before finished reading this whole paragraph. I am a born Buddhist just for name only. Never practice whole heartedly. Later I married a Chinese Christian Lady from a well to do family in this new country  and I had to just follow the Church with her. But later this unfortunate incident made me a popular “Free Thinker” or a modern virtual religious-less person. I have the good luck of having a lot of close friends from various faiths, Hindis, Punjabis, Taos, Muslims and of course many Buddhists and even some Rohingyas. The real actual fact that, all of them are so good on me and among each other made me to become curious why there are a lot of religious based problems around the world and back home in Burma. I started reading about all the religions and am surprised to find out the common good virtues that all the religions taught. Later I realized that the biggest difference is in the form and external practice only. May be we are looking at the same GOD from different perspectives. But may be blessing in disguised, larger portion of my heart is filled with Buddha’s teachings. Never mind I am not here to discuss about the religions but the clashes or wars or fights based on religious differences.  

The world is so wide and there are a lot of twist and turns. It would be much better if we look at the facts that trigger the Inter-religious conflicts and riots to stop them or prevent them from happening again. For me no excuse is right, conflicts should be avoided at all costs from both sides. I am not going to search who is right or wrong, but the basic causes or events that trigger the conflicts only. I believe that if anyone fight or try to use force, both sides are wrong. I am searching the ways to avoid the repeat of those conflicts.  

We all must unite, if not we will fall. I will now try to search the triggering sparks of racial and religious riots in Burma/Myanmar. 

I search the views of third parties in the libraries. I don’t want to consider the views, excuses and blaming games from the interested parties. I found four reliable persons and sources seem to be middle men and free of bias: 

1.                  Morris Caulis, British, was the Judge during the first Indian Burmese conflict. He wro te the eye witness accounts and was amongst the British Ruling Class at the time. He wrote details account of that conflict in his book, “Trials in Burma.”

2.                  Moshe Yegar was the Jew, Diplomat at Israel Embassy in Rangoon in 1960. He did his M.A. at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; with the thesis about “The Muslims of Burma, A Study of a Minority Group.”

3.                  Bertil Litner married a Shan Lady and he is the Burmese Expert among the European journalists. He had even successfully predicted about 2 1/2 months in advance in the Bangkok Post that Ne Win Government would create an anti-Muslim riots but at last both races would unite and the snowball effect would cause the downfall of Ne Win’s Government.

4.                  US States department’s Human Right Reports about Religious Problems in Burma/Myanmar. I do not wish to write any details but just read this web page http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41637.htm to see what the SPDC Junta is doing on Buddhists, Christian, Muslim citizens and the Ethnic Minorities of Burma/Myanmar.  

I hereby promised my Christian and Muslim friends that I am not here to blame anyone of you. Don’t suspect me just because I was a born Buddhist and now also I am still a Buddhist in my heart but externally a Christian. So also for the Buddhist friends, there is no reason to suspect me that I would be bias against you.  

Actually you all will find out that I am just searching the ways to avoid the split of the democracy forces inside and outside Burma. We all know that Than Shwe is an expert on Propaganda Warfare. I foresee that the enemy SPDC Junta Generals and their Intelligent Mechanism would try to split our forces and at the same time divert the attention of all the Burmese people and the world’s spectators by creating racial or religious conflict. United we stand, divided we loss! 

The followin g facts are the gist of what I get from the above third party sources: I hereby wish to advice all of you that many real actually correct facts would hurt both sides. I am opening the old wounds or doing the Post Mortem on the death issues to search the triggering factors so that we could do the damage control any time if the similar things start to appear. Mutual understanding, mutual respects and the granting of basic Human Rights irrespective of Race, creed, colour, religion or ethnicity would defuse most of the ill feelings among us.

In 1930 there was the first anti Indian riots in Burma under British rule. This was not aimed on the Muslims or Islam but on Indians in general.  

The problem started in Yangon port, because of the irresponsible action of the British firm of Stevedores. It had employed hundreds of cheap Indian labourers. While those Indians were on strike, that firm had employed the Burmese workers just to break the strike. So the Indians had to give in and ended the strike. Next morning when the Burmese workers came and report for work they were told by the British firm that their servic e was no more needed. Some of the Indian workers who were angry because they had to end the strike at failure because of these Burmese workers laughed at them.  

Some Burmese workers were angry and started the fight and Indians retaliate. It grew rapidly into anti Indian riots. Even within the first half-hour at least two hundred Indians were massacred and flung into the river. Authorities ordered the police to fire upon any assembly of five or more who refuse to lay down the arms, under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. That was a black day of 26 May. Within two days it spread to the whole country and no one knew the ex act causality.   

There was another anti Indian/Muslim riots in 1938, while still under British rule.

The real basic hidden agenda was aimed at British Government but the Burmese dare not show this openly. The growing Nationalistic sentiments fanned by the local media disgui sed as anti Indian/Muslim to avoid the full blown force of mighty British Government machinery.  

The Burmese Nationalists fanned the anti – Indian Muslim sentiments by using the following facts. 

1.      Problems in mixed marriages. Issue of conversion of the Burmese girls and the religious and legal matters that follows, e.g. non-conversion, divorce, death and inheritance.

2.      Economically the Indians/ Muslims were better and some amount of jealousy set in.

3.      Buddhists could not accept Myanmar Muslims as fellow citizens but look down on them as Kalas or foreigners who are dirty, poor and low standerd.

4.      Burmese Newspapers started the hate campaign against the Indians/Muslims since 1935. They use the words such as “Indians/Muslims had taken their wealth and girls”, to incite hatreds. They called to expel the Indians/Muslims from the government service and to ‘deport’ them.

5.      There was a religious argument between a Moulvi Hassan Shah and a Buddhist, Maung Pan Nyo. A book came out in 1931 about that and Buddhists published pamphlets again to attack Islam. Burmese Muslim Abdulla Maung Sin wrote the rebuttal claiming that Maung Pan Nyo’s book offended Islam and the Prophet. Then Maung Shwe Hpi, a Myanmar Muslim published a book and included all of the above-mentioned books and articles. Hasan Shah published the new edition of his book.

6.      In June 1938 a Buddhist journalist published the most offending extracts against Buddhists from those books. Newspapers, organizations and Buddhist monks demanded action against the author. They called to stop inter marriages to prevent the spread of Islam.

7.      The monks called for the boy court of all Indian/Muslim business and even guarded with whips in the markets to prevent the Buddhists from purchasing at Indian/Muslim shops.  

8.                  On 26.7.1938. anti Muslim rally was held at Shwe Dagon pagoda. They started the Burma for Burmese Campaign.

9.                  They marched to the Muslim (Surti) Bazar. While the Indian Police broke the violent demonstration, three monks were hurt.

10.              Burmese Newspapers use the pictures of Indian police attacking the Buddhist monks to further incite the spread of riots.

11.              Indian properties: shops, houses and mosques were looted, destroyed and burnt to ashes. They assaulted and even massacred the Hindu Indians. It spreads to all over Burma and recorded that 113 mosques were damaged.

On 22.9.38. British Governor set up the Inquiry Committee.

They found out that the real cause was the discontent in the government regarding the deterioration in sociopolitical and economic conditions of Burmans.

The book was used as an inciting factor by the irresponsible Burmese newspapers. They use the anti Muslim propaganda as a disguise to cover up for the political struggle to gain independence.

The Simon Commission (The Royal Statutory Commission, appointed according to the Law of the Government of India1919, The Montague-Chelmsford Law) to inquire the effects of Dyarchy system of ruling Burma. But the British Government refused to accept all those recommended except the separation, at the round table committee on India held in London in 1930.

Recent remarks of UN Secretary General Koffi Annan are the best comment and advise for both Burmese and Indian/Muslim journalists of 1930’s.

“We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable,” 

“He believes that the freedom of the press should always be exercised in a way that fully respects the religious beliefs and tenets of all religions.”

UN spokesman continues the UN Secretary General’s view, 

 the importance of overcoming misunderstandings and animosities between the people of different beliefs and cultural traditions is through peaceful dialogue and mutual respect”. 

Anti-foreign sentiment and Nationalism. 

The pride and good feelings of nationalism: the love for the country, race and religion is frequently exploited and used by many politicians, ultra-nationalists, religious fanatics, racial extremists and present Military Junta of Burma.    

Adolf Hitlar of Nazi Germany and Slobodan Milosivic, were the most prominent and indisputable example. But it is shameful to admit that many governments and politicians around the world are guilty of this crime one time or another to get or accomplish their own agenda or to cover up their faults and failures. 

They use to threaten their own people with the foreign powers and enemies, western colonists, imperialists, religious terrorists, Communists and possible out break of racial riots, danger of losing independence of their beloved country.  

It is sad to note that, that propaganda warfare is usually successful with the help of the local government controlled media and because of the use or exploitation of the nationalistic spirit. People against this would be labeled as unpatriotic or traitor. 

Once intoxicated with the patriotism and nationality fever, people were blinded. They are ready to do any thing for that patriotism. They are even willing to kill or dare to be killed. They are willing to sacrifice themselves, their family, their property and every thing on earth. Patriotism could mobilize the whole nation. 

I have to remind my Muslim friends that In Islam, there is a widespread misuse of the word called jihad and breed terrorism around the world that back fired on them in the whole world and in Burma.  

With the Globalization, the whole world is becoming a Global Village. So we, “SHWE” Myanmar/Burmese are also spreading like wildfire around the whole world.

It is said to note that the hatred to foreigners is rooted to fear of losing, insecurity, low self-esteem and jealousy of the respective locals. Then now we all Shwe Myanmars are in the same position as the Indian, Chinese foreigners in our own country, Burma/Myanmar. 

We Burmese are now migrating, working legally and illegally in many different countries. Now many of those host citizens are hostile to us, Burmese/Myanmar Citizens, claiming that we are taking their jobs, replacing them. They claim that  because of our cheap labour they could not demand for pay rise. We are poor, dirty; we bring in diseases into their country etc. 

We Burmese are accused by our own brothers, Ethnic Nationalities that Bamas are  acting like big brother, arrogant, want to assimilate or destroy them, raping them etc. The curative portion of medicine is already in the UN Charter. 

The purposes of the United Nations are… to achieve International cooperation… in

promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language and religion…”  

 “Equality, justice, dignity” is the emblem that represents the goals of the Human Rights

Committee. The comprehensive implementation of actions against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances is a very important topic because these forms of intolerance have been global issues since biblical times.  

For decades, thousands of people have been victims of discrimination, preferences and exclusions in view of their race, skin color, sex, religion, language, national or ethnic origin and form of expression, causing extreme suffering and even loss of life.  

Racial discrimination is the ability or power to make distinctions among people based on race, color, decent, national or ethnic origin rather than individual merit. Xenophobia i s a fear of the foreign, of what is strange. Religious intolerance occurs when someone’s opinions and beliefs are not respected by others due to their religion or way of thinking. (Wikipedia free Encyclopedia) 

In extremely religious or less developed countries, sexism is practiced, and racial discrimination is not considered wrong. In addit ion, the methods of solving racism could not appeal to all countries. Lots of people believe that they have the right to segregate others and feel superior to them, just because they are different to what they are used to. The following are only some of the many examples in which discrimination has been highly presented:  

During World War II, the Holocaust genocide by the Nazis exterminated over 15 million

people. In the course of the 11th- 13th centuries, the Crusades took place, in which European Christians fought the Muslims and a lot of casualties on both sides. 

There is no country in the world exempt of discrimination. No matter how severe or how mild the ratio of discrimination is, no nation is free from it. Either for one circumstance or another, not all countries are capable of giving the importance and dedication this issue needs. Even though we are all consciously aware of this topic, there is still a long road to cross. 

The United Nations Secret ary General, Kofi Annan stated:  

“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda… Our mission therefore is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will and must be defeated. Almost every country in the world suffers prejudice among its own people, either racial discrimination, xenophobia or religious intolerance.” 

After the 27 years in prison of  the Racial discriminatory Apartheid Whites, the  noble response of Nelson Mandela, when he became  the South African

Leader should be the example to all of us. He used his nonviolence strategy and fought to

eradicate the object of racial division and turn it into the open democracy that today exists and the country prospers. 

So back to my personal experiences. If not for my best teachers; those Christians, Jew, Muslim, Hindus and of course many fellow Burmese teachers and lecturers I would not be in this position. If not for my Ethnic Minority footballers, other race co-players and my football coach “Carter” we could not win any tournaments. 

Lord Buddha teach us to detach from “ATTA”, I, my, me, mine. I realized that it could extend to my family, my relatives, my race, my religion, my home, my town, my country. And Buddha even advised to love and pity all humans and animals including our enemies. 

Our common enemy SPDC would definitely create another racial riot in a near future to divert the discontented people and smoke shield the world opinion.  

We all are like the married couple. In Burmese, married couple is compared with the tongue and the teeth. We could unintentionally bite the tongue. If we could understand that the teeth is helping the tongue by chewing the food into smaller pieces to get better taste and forgive all will be OK. 

In Burmese there is a saying. If we are near we always frequently fight amongst each other. Once we are away only we missed each other too much as if going to die if we cannot see each other. 

Now I missed all my friends of different races and religion. We must unite against our common enemy whether we are in Burma proper or abroad.  

UNITED WE STAND divided we loose.