Compassionate letter No 5: The key to our future relations

Compassionate letter No 5: The key to our future relations

Respecting Human Rights is the key to our future relations


Dear Nan,
 Thank you for your surprised phone call early Sunday morning. It was not only a surprise for me; you were also surprised that I had already got out from bed early. Yes dear, only when you are away, I know more about your values and appreciate your daily house works which I am doing now.

Actually I was surprised, because you had already read my latest letter that I just sent through Burma Digest this week. And you just wanted to remind me to add one more analogy between Queen Pua Saw and Ah Ma Gyi Daw Suu. Queen Pua Saw had successfully helped the termination of the “Ta Yoke Pyae Min” and Daw Suu is seen to be going to do the same on “Kyat Pyae or Kyet Pye Min” SPDC.

But I was shocked when you told me that you still love me, but could not trust me fully yet! You want me to answer three questions. Yes three most important questions by a Shan woman for a Bama man to answer. Dear Nan, you already knew that I am fond of reading and I had learned a lot from the fables and fairy tales since I was young. I am used to various types of three wise questions and answers. Three tricky questions, three most important questions disguised in many forms from the numerous stories. And I already knew the answers to your three most important questions and even wish to reply instantly on the phone, but you requested for an official written reply in black and white on paper.

1.      What are the basic facts about the Human Rights? What is the “Role of Minorities in Democracy”? How do we protect the minorities’ rights from tyranny of majority?

2.      What do “Good Governance” means? Describe the basic principles.

3.      What is the origin of Shan, Ethnic Minorities and Burma? That is the history or roots of our ancestors.

Dear Nan, from your questions I understand your untold hidden agenda to make a new deal, matrimonial or nuptial contract for our reunion. You wanted to make sure of my own concepts, understandings of our future reunion. I could understand your feelings of do not want to just follow the emotions to rush into a deal.

You are right Nan, you must know whether I really understand, respect and value your companion. Love only is not enough; we must have mutual respect, meaningful discourse in future disagreements and after all my understanding in Human Rights, tolerance on different opinions is important for others.

Dear darling, the following basic Human Rights should be granted to all the citizens:

1. Rights of unrestricted internal travel in the whole of Myanmar/Burma.

2. Rights to travel abroad must be accepted by the government and to relax the strict present regulations on all Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

3. Equal access to education at all levels including postgraduate studies, locally and abroad, according to meritocracy.

4. Equal rights to all the government jobs and chance to be promoted according to meritocracy but not based on the Military experience or relationship.

5. Equal rights to settle and work in any parts of Myanmar/Burma.

6. Equal rights to serve and entitle for promotion to all the ranks in armed forces, Police, immigration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs etc.

7. Freedom of religion, worship, religious publications, building and repairing of religious buildings and religious schools etc.

8. Rights to allow participation in the election process and hold posts in all the levels in national and regional politics.

9. Rights to hold the political and administrative posts in various level of government and its’ agencies.

10. Freedom of speech and expression in any form of media is important. But freedom after speech is especially more important!

Dear Nan, despite the Universal Declaration’s denunciation of discrimination against minorities, we are sad to see some kind of discriminations in many countries including Myanmar.

Dear Nan, we all have to respect and follow the majority’s rules in all kinds of democratic governments but we also must accept that the majority have a duty to respect and protect the rights of the minorities’ rights.

As you had said before Nan, the essence of the true democracy is: we all must accept that there are limits on the concepts of the majority rule, to prevent tyranny of the majority. Majority must rule with the good heart by persuasion, understanding and kindness, but should never coerce the minority with force, threat, cruelty, violence, exploitation and abuse of power or racial riots.

Dear Nan, we all must recognize and implement:

(i) The Status, Rights, protection, participation and representation of all the Ethnic Minorities.

(ii) The Status, Rights, protection, participation and representation of all the Minority Religious groups.

(iii) The Status, Rights and protection of the poor and downtrodden.

(iv) Programme and implementation for the eradication of poor and general measures to increase the living standard of people. Handicapped people, youths, orphans, aged, disease inflicted people, homeless people, retrenched and unoccupied peoples’ rights and protection must not be ignored.

(v) Majority got the right to rule. But they must respect, protect and guarantee the Minorities’ rights.

(vi) Minorities must have the right of representation because the Majorities with their number of votes could totally monopolize all the good, lucrative and high places and positions, marginalizing the minorities.

(vii) Majority must ‘sacrifice’ their absolute power by reserving some places and positions thus giving the Minorities the chance of participation and representation.

(viii) Workers rights and adequate protection. Rights of forming unions, strikes, compensation, recreation, various benefits, pension and etc.

(ix) On farsighted and fair distribution of investment policy in various fields of : Education, Research and Development, Science, Information Technology, Health, factories, Irrigation, Houses especially low cost houses and infrastructure projects.

There must be antitrust legislature to control the monopoly in each and every field.

We have to look, monitor and record at the –

(a) Distribution of wealth and opportunity among the different groups depending on race, religion and political alignment, Political patronage- awarding government contracts, appointments, promotions, scholarships, land distributions, permits etc.

(b) Rural development, Urbanization, squatter relocation and settlements.

(c) Basic infrastructure facilities, water, electricity, highways, telephone, multimedia facilities, railways, seaports and etc.

Dear Nan you had wisely reminded me not to forget the most important basic issue of :

(i) The Rights of Dissent and Disobedience of the people, parties, minorities and even among the Ruling Party (Party ordinary members, Central Committee Members, MPs and even Cabinet Ministers). Those individuals should not be forced or coerce to always toe the party line.

(ii) Dear Nan, you had even demanded that the minorities must have a say in the governance or at least the laws and rulings that are related or affected them.

(iii) Democratic governments must accept that accepting the participation of minority races and religions is better than hatred, resentment, revolution, racial riots or civil wars.

Dear darling, I never forget your words, “Counting the ballots is better than cracking the skulls”.

Dear Nan, your demands were quite advanced:

1. “The people, whether Majority or Minority must have the right to disobey or resist the commands of the oppressive, authoritative or tyranny governments, if their commands trespass the limit and no longer serve their interests.

2. There must be enough check and balance. ACA (Anti Corruption Agency) or any organizations dealing with corruption must be independent from the administrative branch of Government.

3. Newspapers, TVs and all the media must be free and independent to probe and do investigative reports.

4. NGOs and other right groups must also be free to express their views. All of them and various reporters must have a free access to the government and the big companies as long as there is no real danger of espionage or national security. There is a danger of over protection and trying to hide under the name of national security to avoid exposure of the corruption.

5. There must be real separation of powers in the government. Administrative power of the head of the government should not let to be able to influence the Judiciary, Attorney General’s office and Legislative assembly.

Dear Nan, in gist, the Rights we should get from the good governments are, Political, Civil, Human Rights & Economic Reform, including though not limited to:

Freedom of speech.

Freedom of association.

True, full democracy.

Separation of Powers between Government, Judiciary, Police & Military.

Independent, competitive non-government media, free from government censorship or editorial restrictions.

Full freedom of religious-thought, belief, expression & practice, including abolition of Government controls of religious affairs.

The right of self-determination.

The Rule of Law: The presumption of innocence until proven guilty; Trial by jury of peers; The right to a fair trial with appeal rights; The right to adequate & independent legal representation

Non-discrimination by Governments, individuals or organisations on the basis of race, nationality, colour, religion, gender, marital status, political belief or affiliation, physical or mental disability.

Religious & Political organisations must be permitted.

Dear Nan, my letter is quite long and too thick now and I am afraid that Dr Tayza and Burma Digest Editors would use their rights to throw away my boring letter, if I go into details of other Human Rights such as:

(i) Detainees’ Rights: Prisoners’ Rights, POW’s (Prisoners of War) Rights, Political Prisoners’ Rights etc. Free from torture and inhumane treatments. Right to engage a lawyer, right to remain silence, right to defend one self in proper open court of law, right of access to medical care, communication with the love ones, rights to recreate and rehabilitate in the prison etc.

(ii) Women’s Rights,

(iii) Children’s various Rights,

(iv) Senior citizens’ Rights, Handicapped Persons’ Rights, and various victims of diseases, HIV patients, Ca patients etc Rights.

(v) Workers Rights; Workers Unions’ Rights, Foreign Workers’ (legal and illegal) Rights etc

(vi) Foreigners’ Rights; Foreign temporary Residences Rights, visitors, tourists, Foreign Investors and Asylum or refugee seekers’ Rights etc

(vii) Diplomatic Rights, Inventors’ Rights, Artists’ Rights, Patent Rights etc. etc…

But Detainees’ Rights is our concern as our Ah Ma Gyi Daw Suu and many political activists including your uncle Khun (he is also my uncle! not yours’ only) are currently under various forms of detention and many of them were denied of their rights and were mistreated.

Dear Nan, but you must understand and accept truth that:

(i) I am not an official representative of all the Bamas and

(ii) no one is also foolish enough to give me the “General Powers of Attorney”

(iii) nor that no one had given me the mandate to speak on behalf of the whole country.

And you must know yourself, that you are also not a sole representative of all the Ethnic Minorities nor even for the Shans. But anyway I would request Dr Tayza to kindly publish my letter to you in their Burma Digest so that we could gather different opinions and decide to stay together with the improved second Panglong or Matrimonial Contract, which is fair to all the sides.

Dear Nan, when I asked you, why I need to answer your question No 3, when all you need is answers to Q No. 1 & 2; you told me that, you want to know whether I really love you, know your origin and the origin of other cousins, Ethnic Minorities.

Dear darling, why are you so smart? Only when I searched the history books and many web pages, I realized that we, all the Bamas, Ethnic Minorities and even those late comers, mixed blooded, Burmese Chinese and Burmese Muslims are all “The travellers on the same boat”.

I wish to apologise my Burmese Chinese and Burmese Muslim friends not to angry with me for this sentence calling all of you as new comers or late comers, mixed blooded etc. And I am afraid some of the Bamas and Ethnic Minorities would be offended by putting or downgrading them to the level of so called recent migrants or guest citizens. Please read my whole article first and then you could send your opposing opinions through Burma Digest as that is the main objective of the Burma Digest to form a forum of dialogue on these issues.

Dear darling, not only a lot of people in Burma/Myanmar, but also in almost all the countries around the world believe that they have the right to segregate others, feel superior to them and demanded that they should have more ‘Rights in every field’:

(i) Just because those other’s races or religions are different to what they are used to.

(ii) Or because they regarded themselves as the original natives “original people of the soil.”

(iii) Or simply because they are the majority or strongest among all the citizens.

(iv) Or because of combination of all the above facts.

In extremely religious or less developed countries:

(i) The racial discrimination is not considered wrong.

(ii) In addition, the methods to solve the racial and religious discriminations could not appeal to all races of all the countries.

(iii) And most of he political parties, governing and opposition parties around the world, usually tried to incite racial sentiments to gather support from the grassroots. And they act like they are the true champions of their own ethnic groups.

So if anyone is against the following “ideal ideas” of Human Rights, they could argue through Burma Digest because this is the main declared policy of this website to reach agreements and mutual understandings through proper discourse, dialogue, discussions and exchange of ideas and concepts about Human Rights and eradication of Racial Discriminations.

Dear darling Nan, I am also a little bit worried if UN or Mr Kofi Annan demand the copy rights fees from me as I could be easily be declared broke. I used to quote from them not because I am bankrupt of ideas. But I never regret quoting or adapting their views and concepts, as the whole world had accepted their words as norms and what am I to invent new ideas or concepts again?

Dear Nan, could you find someone who would accept, if I invent a totally different set of views when the concept of Human Rights is well established and accepted by the whole world as gospel truth? And I feel that there is no need to reinvent the wheels as it would be very foolish and waste of time only.

Dear Nan, our beloved father, General Aung San once gave his opinion regarding his belief about Races and Ethnic Groups as:

(i) A group of people who wish to stay together with a sense of unity and cohesiveness; in thick or thin, rich or poor, in war or peace and in good or bad times.

(ii) Refused to dissociate, ready to defend the disintegration of the mother- land and have a common destiny.

(iii) Race and Ethnicity depends on the sense and spirit of togetherness, cohesiveness, shared values and shared destination, although it must maintain and based upon individual groups’ social, culture, customs and beliefs.

Dear Nan, our father General Aung San had promised Democracy with fair treatment and respect for all the minority races and all religions in Burma. Because of his firm promises and assurances only, all the minorities agree to sign the famous Panglong Treaty, which leaded to the Independence of the whole of the Union of Burma.

His promises were later legally and officially confirmed on 2.10.1947 by U Chan Htoon, Advisor on constitutional affairs to the Constituent Assembly, who later became Chief Justice.

“…born in Burma, raised and educated in Burma, whose Burmese citizenship, according to paragraphs # 11 (ii) and # (iii) of the parents, or at least one of them, were Burmese (citizen), automatically had constitutional rights as citizens, they would enjoy the same status, rights and privileges as all other citizens of Burma.

Paragraph 13 of our first Constitution guaranteed that all the citizens of Burma, (without regard to origin, religion, race, or sex) should be equal before the law.

Paragraph 14 guaranteed equal opportunity to all citizens in matters of public service and in employment in any post, professional or business whatsoever. They also were entitled to all the other privileges of the citizen mentioned in the constitution, even the right to candidacy for the election to the post of President of the State and to the membership in the two Houses of Parliament.”

Dear Nan, you told me that the word ‘Citizen’ is the concept started from the time of Romans. This concept originated from the Latin ‘city’ and came from the idea of city-nations and the people residing in them. ‘Citizen’ concept is created so that there would be loyalty to the authorities of the city: the king, Mayor, the church and the fellow city dwellers.

Dear Nan, I still could recall your words about ‘Nationalism’; the people’s pride and sense of togetherness based on their love, unique and unity in the cultural, social, historical and territorial identity.

Dear Nan, I got a rare chance to know that you could express your unique radical ideas by sugar coating with some sense of humour, when you joked that, “sometimes nationalism is associated with ‘the sense of illusion or delusion of self-greatness, self glorification and renaissance’.

Dear Nan, because of you I have to re-examine my love of the Nationalistic spirit. At first I strongly believe that it increased our pride and love for our own nation, race and religion. But I have to agree with your wise words that there is only a very thin razor line between true Nationalism and extremism or ultranationalist spirit. Those fanatics could spoil all the greatness and benefits associated with Nationalism and most of the times Nationalism was misused by various parties for their own benefits.

Dear Nan, regarding the ‘Minority Groups and Civil Liberties’. Among the most of the members of United Nations there are citizens with difference in race, religion, ethnicity, social, culture and language. And there are many nations in which some minority groups’ rights are compromised to a variety of extent. Most of the time, the minorities have to adjust or fine-tune themselves to avoid the confrontation or conflicts with the majorities.

Dear Nan, sometimes the minority communities’ wish, to be recognized as equal citizens, was denied in many countries and was even sometimes unfairly treated as pariahs or untouchables. In addition to that, their wish to be granted all the equal Rights of Citizens and for the protection according to the Internationally recognized ‘Basic Human Rights’ were conveniently denied by most of the majorities.

So dear darling, now I understand that your concerns for the possible tyranny of majority on your Ethnic Minorities could not be brushed aside but must be addressed before hand in advance.

Dear Nan, your request to at least basically accept without any conditions, the right to possess the following documents for all of our minorities’ citizens is fair and reasonable:

1. Birth Certificates

2. National Registration Cards.

3. Passports.

4. Family Registration Cards.

With the globalization and the world is shrinking to become a global village, we Shwe Myanmars are every where in various status. Now we knew that even among the foreigners, we were not treated equally by most of the Foreign Government Authorities.

Dear Nan, I have to accept the bitter truth you told me, Ko Tin Nwe, now only you are at the receiving end of the discrimination. You continued sarcastically that you were glad I could get the chance to learn and taste the bitter lessons of discriminations against others.

Lastly, but not least, before I finish my letter please me say dear darling now I’ve  realized that our Myanmar/Burmese ladies’ house works were rarely appreciated in our country even if the house wife is also a bread earner or just compliment the overall household income. As non working house wives’ house works could not earn a cent, their whole day’s house work’s value was never obvious for laymen. For a working house wife, they have to work at their schools, hospitals, office, factories, and various other places and once came back home have to do some house works again whether they have maids or others to help them.

Yes dear, I cannot just came back from work and straight away go and sit on the sofa, in front of TV now, as you were not around. Even if we bought back food to eat at home, I could even relax with a book or newspaper, but you have to reheat, put into the plates etc. After that while you were washing dishes and cleaning the dining room, I could relax again. Yes dear, even when our children were around, boys will relax and let the girls to do the entire house work. This is serious gender discrimination in our society. Although you had tried to train our boys, once you are away their laziness forced them to commit gender discrimination on their sisters.

I still remember your words dear, and I agree with you that even all the strict laws, regulations and procedures are useless if we always search for the loop holes of the laws and the more powerful party tried ‘to walk on the eyebrow of others’. Mutual understanding and reciprocal respects are more important in the long run. Understanding the basic knowledge and practising of ‘Good Governance’ and true Democracy, especially the respect and protection of minorities’ rights is more important to hold any unions. You rightly pointed out that all the divorce cases started from mutual disrespect, mutual mistrust and failure or break down of proper communications.

Thanking you for giving me a chance to show and prove of my love and respects for the rights of your minority group.

Wishing for a quick reunion

Your loving darling

(Ko Tin Nwe)

TQ for the interest and republishing

Politics in America

Election 2008 and Politics

Compassionate letter No 5: The key to our future relations

May 12th, 2008


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