Compassionate letter 8, “Loss of Home, Loss of Paradise”

Compassionate letter 8, “Loss of Home, Loss of Paradise”

OUR LONG MARCH to the MIRAGE PARADISE?

As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest

Dear Nan,

Do you remember the seminar we attended in 2001 called, Ethnic Minorities’ Struggles along the Thai-Burmese Border, organized by the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, the Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma, and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development. I think we had noticed the presence of UNDP, UNHCR, UNESCO and some UN officials there.

Dear Nan, nowadays why did you become so over sensitive, easily irritated, snappy, angry fast and quick to blame others including me? May be you are frustrated with the deadlock in our country’s future. Don’t worry dear, nothing last forever in this world, including the Military rules in Burma/Myanmar. There would be definitely a change in our country’s politico-social status. Don’t give up hope; we already could see the light at the end of the tunnel. SPDC camel’s back is already weak, its need only some more straws to break. We just need to keep on pushing endlessly on them from all possible battle front s.

You asked me why I could even think you would forget that trip. I know darling, you enjoyed that trip too much and could not forget the various memorable experiences on the journey and there. And especially you had a rare chance to reunite with few of your cousins staying at Thai-Burma border. And our feeling and experience of as if we were at home, just by tasting the wind that breezed from the Shan Yoma into Thai. And you accidentally discovered my soft spot, my love for your Shan Land, when I could not control my tears while gazing at our mother land, which is actually my birth place also. At first you even failed to understand me and asked, what happened to my eyes because you thought that dust or some foreign particles entered my eyes. You were shocked only when I could not answer back immediately, choked and answered with the trembling soft voice.

Dear Nan, just remember that incidence before saying good-bye to me. My eternal love would never stop even if you go ahead with your plan to divorce me or even if I die. Don’t worry dear, even if you stay away from me I would not disturb you with revenge and jealousy or keep on stalking you. I am not a Sula Thu Badda from Saddan Sin Min, or like the character from our favourite, writer, singer, artist, actor and director Win Oo’s, The hate of a pretty woman. Win Oo himself was hated by the military and refused to honour him because he had supported the democracy movement. I just wish to remind our futures leaders not to forget the popular artist from various fields like Win Oo, U Htun Wai and etc who were ignored or suppressed by the Myanmar Military because they had supported the democracy movement. Once there is democracy, we should honour them and those who had sacrificed for the democracy movement.

I am not asking for blood or revenge punishment of the perpetrators but to compensate by our country to those suffered. We have to take a leaf out of National Reconciliatory Council of South Africa. This is in case the SPDC Generals redeem themselves and transfer the power back to the real owner, people, NLD and opposition. If not they should better start to select and engage the best lawyers in Myanmar who could converse in English, and study the International Laws related to GENOCIDE. Shan leaders and Burma Digest had already said; See you in court to the SPDC Generals. According to the Laws they had already contravened the Genocide Law, and there is neither Diplomatic nor Ruler’s Immunity. So dear darling, I wish to assure you not to even worry for my letters; I could stop writing to you if you just say so.

As you know darling, at that time, you were still studying at Singapore National University for your Masters and I was working with a Multinational company there. Now you got your PhD and you could afford trying to run away from me like a winged bird. Sorry dear, you were very angry with my first letter comparing you with the cat got (transplanted with) the new wings. I know you left me not because you could stand on your own, but for the principle: as a strong warning protest for the arresting of your uncles by my step mother Daw Than Shwe. I know and felt from the bottom of my heart that after many years of staying together, we already have a very strong bond and attachment for each other. Your other uncles and Burma digest is even collecting evidences to take legal action on Daw Than Swe and cohorts including that crime as I had mentioned above. Yes dear Nan, UN and International Criminal Court had defined that incarceration of the leaders of a group is guilty of not only attempted genocide but committing the GENOCIDE!

Let’s go back to our trip. Although we could take a flight, we decided to follow your idea to take the slow train from Singapore to Bangkok, through Malaysia. Dear Nan, I have to thank you for your suggestion and I am glad that even our fussy children had enjoyed the journey. Although we had visas to enter Malaysia, Thailand and re-entry visa to Singapore, all the three Immigrations had given trouble to us just because we were holding the Myanmar passports. After prolonged interviews only they approved our entry and then only you questioned them what wet wrong. You pointed out calmly to them that we could enter their countries even without any visa before when we were not an ASEAN member. Now only after Myanmar is accepted as an ASEAN member country, why our citizens need visas and there are a lot of red tapes and stricter entry conditions. You were angry because although our travel documents were in proper order, they set-aside our Passports and processed only after all the passengers were safely back on the train.

Malaysian Immigration and Thailand officers had given lame excuses; they have to be strict because of many Myanmar illegal immigrants in their countries. But you boldly told them off, by asking how rich their countries were, to think we were going to work in their countries. Dear darling, you continued that even if their governments invited your husband to work for their countries, you have to reject as your husband’s driver’s salary is even more than the average government officer’s salary in their countries. (Actually my real salary was not that high; Nan just wanted to revenge and dents their pride only.) I had to pull your arms to stop you because they were Government Officers and they could easily give trouble to us as they are notorious for extortion with trumpet charges on others. And the politicians are always ready backing them, to cover up their countries’ rots.

But when the stupid and greedy Thai officer keep on repeating that they have to be strict because of Myanmar illegal, and advised us to deal with the touts outside to smoothen the process, we all understand that he was clearly asking for bribes. You are a lady only but your anger sometimes rose higher than me and told them off again by advising to clear the millions illegal and rebels from our country inside their border. And you threatened to report to the Thai Embassy for refund of the visa fee if we need to pay bribes again. Then only the Thai officer from the back came out and stamped our passports with 60 days’ stay approval, although we asked for only three days. Thai Immigration officer’s agent touts are also shameless and although they knew that we have no more business with them they follow us and asked for few loose coins as cigarette money. (They already knew that they could not demand the dinner or tea money but have to settle for cigarette s only.) Although I did not want to pay, you pulled out few dollar notes to stop harassment.

Sorry friends for Nan’s offending words about the freedom fighters at our border. Please forgive us because she used those words just to win the war of words, with those Sit Taung Sars meaning the officers checking just to get bribes. Although we all knew that those kinds of habits and extortion are rampant in Myanmar SPDC authorities, we now know that this is one of the ASEAN values. But we had to admit that we rarely see these corruptions amongst government servants in Singapore, but cronyism, nepotism racial discrimination and unfair cruel crushing or annihilation of all the political opponents is still the order of the day under the autocratic government of Singapore. My dear wife never looks down on all of you and even forced me to follow her to the border to donate some foods, clothings, medicines and cash at the border. Later we learnt that our photographs were secretly taken by Myanmar MI spies and sent to Singapore Myanmar Embassy to take necessary actions. We have to thank the special officer-in-charge of Intelligence works in Singapore Myanmar Embassy, who was married to Nan’s cousin. (The same person who helped the release of Ko Harnif after the racial riots, mentioned in my previous letter.) His wife gave the whole file to Nan so that we could destroy.

Dear Nan, as you were familiar with the history of our Ethnic Minorities: the facts came out or revealed there in the seminar were not strange or new to you, but I was shocked because I lost in touch with the history at that time. And the following facts disclosed at the seminar were unanticipated; I could not swallow and were not even accepted easily by my conscious mind:

These are a few stories passed down by the Daw Daw Mon, U Ka Yin and Daw Daw Shan (Daw Daw Tai), Wut Boonlert, coordinator of the Karen Network for Culture and Environment, continued to explain how a stateless predicament befell the U Ka Yin’s relatives of the Salawin Basin.

According to him, once upon a time ie a long long time ago Ka Yin started his long march from the very far far away land, Gobi Desert and migrated to Yangtze Basin. Then he descended aga in downwards to the Khong River, the Chao Phya River and the green Irrawaddy Basin in Shwe Bama village, where grass were greener and water was cleaner.

U Ka Yin is also known in Thailand as the Kariang or Yang as he is also an ethnic group of U Thai village. U Ka Yin always has good relations with Ko Thai Land because Ko Thai Land started a policy to use U Ka Yin’s villages as buffer zone from successive aggressive U Shwe Bama. After some of the U Bama’s relatives were expelled from the Lanna Kingdom village in 1783, with support from the new U Chakri Dynasty of Bangkok village, (Saw Bwa Pya) Kawinla of Chiang Mai village had a close relationship with the U Ka Yin in order to bring people from the land controlled by his cousin U Ka Yinni (also known as U Ka Yah) to Chiang Mai.

Later Saw Bwa Luang Setthi Khamphan of Chiang Mai married Saw Bwa Nang Kham Paeng, daughter of Saw Bwa Maha Wong who governed Muang Pha Poon. Saw Bwa Nang Kham Paeng was later sent to govern Muang Kantara Wadee. But the Saw Bwa Muang of Chiang Mai dared not tell about an ancestor who came from the land of the U Ka Yinni. Saw Bwa Nang Khampaeng was the great-grandmother of Saw Bwa Dararassamee, a wife of King Rama V.

But it is a fact that Ko Thai created our Shwe Bamas as a common bogyman not only for historical reasons but it offered a cheap and convenient target when it launched a Pan Thai Empire, to unite all the Tai speaking tribes in Shan quarters of Shwe Bama village, U Laos and all those of the Dai tribes including from Sip Son Panna in U Ta Yoke’s village tract.

Ka Yin-speaking people are spread over a large area, mainly on the Shwe Bama village frontie r with U Thai Land village. Everywhere U Ka Yin’s relatives live interspersed among various other ethnic brothers of Shwe Bama, so that we find pockets of exclusiv e U Ka Yin’s cousin villages among for instance Daw Mon, U Shan and Ko Lawa.

Historically, U Ka Yin (U Pha Hti) descended from the same ancestors as U U Mongo people. The Great grand father U U Ka Yin settled in Htee-Hset Met Ywa (Land of Flowing Sands), a land bordering the source of the Yangtze -Kiang River in the Gobi Desert. From there, U Pha Hti migrated southwards and gradually entered the land now known as Shwe Bama about 739 B.C. or earlier as stated above. They thought they were the first settlers in this part of new land. U Ka Yin named this land Kaw-Lah, meaning the Green Land.

But U Pha Hti could not enjoy his peaceful live for long, as Daw Daw Mon entered this area next, followed at their heels by the Shwe Bamas. (Contrary to his claims, most historians accepted that Daw Daw Mon was the first settler in Shwe Bama earlier than U Pha Hti.) Both the Daw Daw Mon and U Bama brought with them feudalism. U Bama later won the feudal war, and they subdued and subjugated all other nationalities in the land. The U Pha Hti claimed that he had suffered untold miseries at the hands of the U Bama lords. U Pha Hti thought that persecution, torture, killings, suppression, oppression and exploitation were the order of the day. U Pha Hti even mentioned a few historical facts as evidence; he referred to the U Bama’s subjugation of the Daw Daw Mon and the Daw Ya Khine, and especially their past atrocities against the Daw Thai at Ayudhaya village. He even claimed that those were episodes in a never ending attempt of Genocide by the Shwe Bama soldiers on their Ethnic Minorities.

Dear Nan, I have already acknowledged that you are smart and clever but why did you query me for the skipping of your second question regarding the Basic concepts of good Governance. Why do you forget my right of answering your questions in any serial order? I thought the answer to that question is a little bit dull and so I used my right to choose to answer your last question before the second question.

What’s up Nan, at first my answers were based on Shan official web and the Karen migration is based on Karen web site and our own experience at the seminar. I also quoted Dr Than Tun’s books, and various History books I mentioned in earlier letter and from the Wikipedia encyclopaedia.

Even if you do not wish to give me the distinction marks, I am sure you could not fail me. Ha, Ha! I had learned a lot from you Nan, thank you for teaching me all the general knowledge and encouraging or sometimes pushing and forcing me to read in stead of watching my favourite movie series. Now you are reaping what you sow. Don’t even think to say that now the son is one month older than the father! If all the students in the whole world just used to learn and know what their teachers spoon fed them, and if there are no more research or progress, we all would be stuck in the Stone Age.

Dear darling, all of us progress successively from Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Steel Age, Mechanical Revolution Age, Electrical Age, Atomic Age, Computer Age, Internet Age, ICT Age and K-economy Age (Knowledge based economy) because students not only learned but tried to be better than their teachers. I am not insulting the teachers dear Nan. Just because you are working as a lecturer, you are a little bit bias, angry and thought I am insulting all my teachers. Actually I always respect my teachers and also know their plight: the grinding stones became thinner helping to sharpen the knives.

Our Lord Buddha pointed out to us the virtues of the candle light (fire) sharing the fire (light) to light up another candle. You never lost any thing, but could help light up another candle. We need to think like that. Teachers are sharing or distributing their knowledge but the students must not stop or satisfied with what they are taught. Even Lord Buddha had taught us not just to accept any thing without thinking, including his teachings. So don’t angry with me dear Nan. You should instead happy with your student’s small progress. Although I am gloating, I had made a blunder again. Sorry Nan, I am drifting away a lot from my topic again.

Dear darling Nan, as I had already answered earlier, our people of Shwe Bama village are said to be descendants of three main Migrant Ancestor branches or families:

(1) Mon-Khmer,

(2) Tibeto-Burman and

(3) Tai Shan-Chinese.

Daw Daw Mon is a desendant of of this Mon-Khmer group family. Humans lived in the region that is now known as our Shwe Bama village as early as 11,000 years ago, but the first identifiable civilization is that of the Daw Daw Mon. See Nan, this fact is contrary to U Ka Yin’s claim. But I think it is no use for us to quarrel who came first when the most important real practical fact is that we all are sailing together in the same boat. It is no use trying to fight over who is the original owner, who came later and who is just a freshman comming in and join last. Once we accepted any one as a fellow traveller or a citizen, we must be fair to all of them, should stop all discriminations and treat as an all-equal-partner. We need the combined undivided effort to reach our destination, Democratic Federal Union of Burma/Myanmar. The weather out side is bad, SPDC thunderstorm is still strong, it cause Kyant Phut waves which could pull and push our ship into danger. Instead of fighting among each other and wasting our energy, we must focus all our energy to fight our common enemy, SPDC and cohorts.

Daw Daw Mon actually began her long march of migration into our Shwe Bama village in about 3000 BC, and her first kingdom Suwarna Bhumi village, or Golden Landwas founded around the port of Thaton in about 300 BC. Daw Daw Mon’s tradition folk tales suggests that they had contact with Buddhism via seafaring as early as the 3rd century BC. But definitely by the 2nd century BC, they received an envoy of monks from Ashoka, Ko Kala’s village. Much of the Daw Daw Mon’s written records hav e been destroyed during the wars.

By the mid-9th century, Daw Daw Mon became a dominant force in all of southern Shwe Bama. Even in Malay Chronicles called Sejarah Melayu.

 Pago/Bago men were recorded to arrive Malacca, the first Malay kingdom, and were regarded as one of their founders, forefathers or ancestors! Yes, I wish to repeat again, our Daw Daw Mon’s children were regarded as part of Malaysia’s ancestors.

Daw Daw Mon’s descendants are also known as Talaings because of their origin partly from Talingana village (State) of Ko Kala’s village tract. But some of them think that Talaing is a derogatory name for them and wish only to be known as Daw Daw Mon’s desendants. Daw Daw Mon blended U Kala and Mon culture (carried and inherited from U Tayoke’s place) together and emerged as a hybrid of the two civilizations.

I h ereby wish to apologize my Mon friends because some of you may be obviously offended by the name Talaing. But let me continue talking about the gossips about the alleged secret afair of Daw Daw Mon and U Talaing, Dear Nan, while writing about this Talaing name, I remember the joke of my uncle U Tin Oo (NLD) and I hope that you would kindly allow me some extra time to regurgitate this story.

Dear Nan, thank you for allowing me to interrupt with this interesting story about my Uncle U Tin Oo. As y ou know, although he is my uncle but you are more closed to them as his wife had a better chemistry with you. Dear Nan, when we were in U Ya Khine’s village tract they used to visit our house for few times. And Uncle U Tin Oo used to tell that our house was his lucky house because coincidently on the day of his visits to our house, he got promotions for two times. At that time he was serving in the Burma Army and was the Commander of the Middle Division Military Command. Once he was promoted and became a full General on his first visit to our house and on the day of his next visit he was promoted as the Minister of Defence.

Dear Nan, you were strict with our a-little-bit-mischievous children, forced or disciplined them to eat with porcelain coated iron plates and used to keep the delicate fine china plates in storage, for the guests. I still remember that day; our Bama Military General refused to use the precious plates and joined our children using their porcelain coated iron plates. As we already knew his humane or decent habit of calling in his driver and security soldiers to join the dinner table, one of his soldiers fondly or proudly told us that his General used to eat with the ordinary soldiers and usually refused to eat at specially decorated reserved VIP places. He was very popular among the grass roots and loved by various strata of people; Military rank and file and even among the ruling elite. He was the national hero then because he had just rooted out the prolonged strong hold of Burma Communist Party’s rebel head-quarters on the Bago Yoma (Pegu Mountain Ranges).

No wonder uncle U Tin Oo was loved by the whole army and all the people, not like the present megalomaniac Myanmar SPDC generals, who used to sit on higher decorated special chairs with the delusions of been a royal descendents and wished to be addressed like a royalty. They are actually like the dirty trace of oil above the peoples’ clean water. They choose not to be mix with rank and file and ordinary people; like that oil could not mix with water.

Dear Nan, once you asked me in a whisper; why my uncle General Tin Oo never attempted a Coup d’tat, to save all of us from Daw Ne Win’s tyranny. I told you I thought he was so naive and loyal to Daw Ne Win at that time, but now he has to pay dearly for that indecisiveness. He even failed to support with all his might to Captain Ohn Kyaw Myint, a Burmese Muslim, who sought his blessing for a Coup d’tat to topple Daw Ne Win. Captain Ohn Kyaw Myint was caught, charged and hanged. And our uncle U Tin Oo had to spend six years in jail for the failure to report the treason attempt. And Daw Ne Win started a vicious and ferocious revenge attack on all the Muslims of Burma like Saddam Hussein’s attack on all the Shiites after the failed assassination attack on him.

Dear Nan, we all have conveniently forgot our fallen unsung hero, Captain Ohn Kyaw Myint, who unsuccessfully tried to stage a palace Coup d’tat and present the crown on the platter to a good, fair and just leader, U Tin Oo of present NLD. We should honour him so that other heroes in the Myanmar army would repeat the wheel of the history; follow his brave plot to save all of us. Now most of us could only have a secret day dream for the split in Myanmar military and the rising of the moderate leaders who would negotiate and willing to make a deal with all of us.

I am regurgitating these old events because recently I got the news that NLD U Tin Oo was allowed out for less than an hour to visit his nephew’s funeral. At our last meeting with him, when we met before our transfer to Thar Yar Waddy, he joked that the town was notorious for its biggest jail in Burma. But he was so pleased with you when you were quick to retort that it is actually famous for Saya San, farmer rebel, our hero. He even commented, Shan Ma, I am happy that you could also remember our Bama hero!

But I thought he made an unintentional blunder by insulting Daw Mon when he joked about the story of Kyansittha. During the war with the Daw Mons, he went to pray at the famous Shwe Maw Daw pagoda in Bago. When he came down the stair case of the pagoda, the Talaings had already surrounded the pagoda. But Kyansittha managed to come down calmly without any harm, any fight and he neither faced a danger nor even had a scratch.

He asked us the reason of that miracle and the answer to this extra normal phenomenon. I was caught, but dear Nan, you were clever enough to quickly give the correct answer: Ta, means one in Burmese. Ta-Line means one line on the shoulder i.e. a sergeant in his own army. So, Kyansittha was not surrounded by the enemy Daw Mon or U Talaing’s soldiers but was just surrounded by his own military men, sergeants or in other words ˜Ta-Lines.

That General Tin Oo was later promoted to the Chief Commander of Burma Armed Forces and became ˜the number two man in Burma. But that position was dangerous under the dictator Daw Ne Win. Once the second man became popular and if there were signs of a threat, he used to remove them like all other dictators around the world, and replaced with a weaker person so that his number one position would be safe. General Tin Oo was accused of corruption. He had allegedly accepted five bottles of imported foreign liquor, accepted the government controlled foreign currency from the Military Attache in London, to buy medicine for his child suffering from leukaemia! Quite a flimsy trumpeted charges to remove the second most powerful man in a country. But you told me that we have to thank god, he was not accused of shameful trumpeted charges like sodomy as Hitler and Mahathier had done on their deputies. I hereby wish to propose that future Presidents or Prime Ministers of Burma/Myanmar should not allow in office for mo re than two terms. In Burmese, all the Aso Ya Asa bae yoe thee means all the governments are trustworthy at the start but later changed into tyrant and not honest any more. .

Dear Nan, you could deduct some marks from my score. No problem, I think it is our duty to tell our children about our experiences. You have to give me some latitude to swing and sway. As long as my variations do not overshoot beyond one standard deviation, I hope there should not be any problems.

Dear darling, at the above mentioned seminar we attended in 2001 called, Ethnic Minorities Struggles along the Thai-Burmese Border, Pisanh, a Mon representative, presented about his great grand Aunty Daw Daw Mon ancestors building kingdoms villages in Shwe Bama village tract and other parts of Asia.

According to Daw Daw Mon and Shwe Bama village records, before Buddha achieved Enlightenment, Alika and Tapusa, two Mon merchants, had presented khao tu [sweetened rice] to Buddha. Lord Buddha then gave his eight hairs to those two Daw Daw Mon’s merchants. They then brought the hairs to their Daw Daw Mon’s village head and he put the Buddha’s hairs in a pagoda. That pagoda is now known as Shwedagon, and has become a symbol of Shwe Bama village.

Daw Daw Mon’s village kingdom was destroyed by the Shwe Bama village heads. First Thaton village was conquered by King Anawrattha in eleventh century. He bitterly accused that in 1757 King Alongphaya of Burma attacked and burn the Mon capital of Hongsawadee village (Han Tha Wadee) about 3,000 Mon monks were killed. The Mon religious leaders flee to U Thai’s village.

Ten years later the U Thai’s kingdom of Ayutthaya village was also destroyed by the Shwe Bamas. But later Thailand skilfully used Daw Daw Mon, U Ka Yin, Daw Daw Shan and other ethnic groups to play as buffer states between the Ko Thai and Shwe Bamas.

Daw Daw Mon’s Dvaravati kingdom ( Danya Waddy village) existed from the 6th to the 11th centuries AD, when it was conquered by the Ko Khmer’s Empire. And that Ko Khmer’s Empire or village tract was centred on the Chao Phraya River valley in modern-day Ko Thai Land’s village, with Nakhon Pathom village as the capital and spread up to lower Shwe Bama village tract.

Dear Nan, I wish to give a just brief account of Ko Khmer’s village empire that was a powerful village kingdom based in what is now Daw Cam Bodia’s village. Ko Khmer’s village empire, which seceded from the kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over parts of modern-day U Laos’ village, Ko Thai Land’s village and Daw HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam”Viet Nam’s village. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, which was the capital during the empire’s zenith. Khmer villageers are Hindi and Mahayana Buddhists but l ater changed into Theravada Buddhists after the new version of religion was introduction from Sri Lanka in the 13th century

Dear Nan, Daw Daw Mon’s cousins, U Kaya, Daw Wa, Ko Palaung, Ma Padaung, Daw Pale, U Yao, Ma La, and others are originated from the Mon-Khmer group. Actually Mon-Khmers are sea-migrants of the east from India Talingana State mixed with the invader Mongols from the north. Mon-Khamars also stayed in U Thai Land village and Daw Cam Bodia village. Shwe Bama villagers got their cultures, written language , religion, arts and skills dubbed ten flowers: goldsmith, silversmith, carpentry, painting, architecture, sculpture, masonry etc from Daw Daw Mon and her cousins from U Thai Land’s village!

Dear Nan, it is a little bit strange for me because we were taught in the history books that Shwe Bama village head Anawrattha conquered Daw Daw Mon village head Manuha and brought back the Buddhism and all the skilled persons but our Shwe Bama written language is more related to Daw Daw Shan’s cousins Ma Mon, from U Thai Land’s village rather than our own sister Daw Daw Mon.

Dear Nan, in the chronicles of U Thai Land, it stated that Daw Daw Mon’s relatives were one of the earliest distinct groups to occupy Shwe Bama, moving into the area as early as 1500 BCE, or possibly earlier. Daw Daw Mon’s relatives had established the historical kingdoms of Dvaravati (Danya Waddy) and Haripunchai. Until the 14th century AD, Daw Daw Mon’s culture continued to spread very far east, including modern U Thai’s village and Issan plateau cities such as Lampang and Khon Kaen. As late as the 14th and 15th centuries, it is believed that the Daw Daw Mon’s relatives were the ethnic majority in this vast region, but intermarried freely with U Cam Bodia and U Tai-Kadai (your Daw Daw Shan’s relatives) populations. Archaeological remains of Daw Daw Mon’s settlements have been found south of Vientiane village, and may also have extended further to the north-west in the Haripunchai village era.

Dear darling Nan, according to the chronicles of U Thai Land, Daw Daw Mon’s cousins converted to Theravada Buddhism at a very early point in their history; unlike other ethnic groups in the region, they seem to have adopted Theravada orthodoxy before coming into contact with Mahayana tendencies. And it is believed that the Daw Daw Mon had converted U Thai and U Cam Bodia from Hindu/Mahayanism to Theravada Buddhism (15th century). So this is another version of the event how you got Buddhism.

Dear Nan, it is interesting that like us, U Thai and some present day Ma Mon has tried to identify her ethnicity with the semi-historical kingdom of Suwarnabhumi. Historical scholars pointed out that the early usage of the term (as found in the edicts of Ashoka during the U Kala’s Village tract’s haydays of Buddhism) indicated a location in Southern India, and not in South-East Asia. However, from the time of the first translations of the Ashokan inscriptions in the 19th century, both the Shwe Bama and U Thai have tried to identify place-names found in the edicts with their own territory or culture; sometimes these claims have also relied upon the creative interpretation of place-names found in Chinese historical sources. (This is taken from U Thai’s records.)

Dear Nan, I am excited to know that, Suwannaphum (also Suwarnabhumi) remains one of the most mythified in the his ory of Asia and in U Thai Land’s village, their head of village and village museums insist that it was somewhere along their southern coast. And so they had named the new Bangkok village airport after the mythic kingdom of Suwarnabhumi, or “Suwannaphum”.or Thu Wanna Bumi meant Golden Land in Burmese.

Dear Nan, when I wrote about your Daw Daw Shan, I forgot to mention about her ancestor origin that she was a descendant of the Tai Shan-Chinese group. Daw Daw Shan, U Pha Hti or U Ka Yin and Daw Taungthu, etc., all have their roots in the Tai-Chinese community and descended from present U Ta Yoke’s village tract and had made a long march through Ko Yu Nans village. We already knew the relation of Daw Daw Shan and her twin sister Daw Daw Siam, now known as Daw Thai. Their languages are also similar and both of them feel that they are twin sisters, just separated by the border.

Some of the Daw Shan’s descendants prefer to be called Tai. “Shan” is a Burmese corruption of “Syam” or “Siam”, or Thai or Tai. Shwe Bama Shans are much more in common ethnically and culturally with their cousins in U Thai village than the Shwe Bama villagers.

“In the past, there were 33 provincial towns in Muang Tai and each town was governed by chao fah or Saw Bwa,” said Chaiya Khongchuen of the Tai Union. “Burma was directly colonized by Great Britain, but Muang Tai [the Shan State] was just a Protectorate State. Ne Win killed many chao fahs (Saw Bwas) during 1962 coup. On May 21, 1958, Tai leader Saw Yanda announced that he was waging war against the Burmese government,” Chaiya said at the above mentioned seminar.

Dear Nan, let’s talk about last group of our ancestors, the Tibeto-Burman group which I had already mentioned in last letter.

Shwe Bama spoken language is derived from this Tibeto-Burman group. U Bamar, Daw Chin, Ko Kachin, Ma Rahkine, Ma Inthar, Ko Naga, Daw Yaw, Ko Mro, Daw Lisu, U Kadu, Ma Hpon, Daw Maru, U Lashi, Ma Rawang, Daw Azi, Daw Nung, U Daru, U Gauri, Ma Lahu, Ma Lolo and others, descended from the Tibeto-Burman group.

Darling, they migrated downwards from Daw Tibet’s village, U Ta Yoke’s village tract. They are now spread widely and staying in Shwe Bama village, U Tayoke’s village and Ko Kala’s village. Do you remember darling, in 2002 there was a U Kachin’s international conference held in Shwe Bama village. U Kachin’s cousin brothers from U Tayoke’s village and Ko Kala’s village attended.

Ko Chin, Ko Kachin and Ko Naga’s relatives are also on both sides of Indo-Burma border. Buddhist Rakhines in Bangladesh are known as Marghs.

Dear Nan, as you already know, our ethnic brothers spread in our village tract widely viz: U Ka Yin, Daw Daw Mon, Daw Daw Shan, Ko Intha, U Kayah, Ma Palaung, Ko Aka, and Ma Pa-o usual ly stayed in the east and southeast of the Shwe Bama village tract. And Ko Kachin, Daw Wa and U Kokang stayed in the north and east of our village tract. Daw Chin and U Yakhine are mainly in the west.

Dear Nan, I still remember these facts you told me once, that the Tibeto-Burman group of languages (often considered a sub-group of the Sino-Tibetan language family) is spoken in various central and south Asian countries, including Shwe Bama village, northern part of Ko Thai Land village, southern part of U Tayoke’s village tract (Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan), Daw Nepal’s village, U Bhutan’s village, Ko Kala’s village tract (Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir), and western part of U Pakistan’s village.

Dear darling, at that time you amazed me by telling me that the Tibeto-Burman group of languages subfamily includes approximately 350 languages. Our Shwe Bama language has the most speakers (approximately 35 million).

Dear Nan, you will be surprised by my new findings that some linguists (including Shafer 1966 and George van Driem) advocate elevating “Tibeto-Burman” to displace “Sino-Tibetan” as the top-tier language family, with the Chinese languages (Sinitic) classified as a branch of the Tibeto-Burman/Sino-Tibetan family. In simple layman terms, Chinese language is now under Tibeto-Burman language family. It is facinating to know that the great China or U Tayoke got the language from our ancestors!

As I had stated, in the 9th century the Shwe Bama and our Ethnic minorities migrated from the then U Tayoke-Daw Tibet border region into the valley of the Ayeyarwady which is now the heart of the Shwe Bama golden Pavalion.

Dear darling, our Shwe Bama village tract has experienced a long history of migration along fluid frontiers and numerous conflicts among various ethnic groups. We are between two big neighbours or world’s greatest civilizations, U Tayoke and U Kala’s village tracts. And our country is the only highway those big neighbours could travel, trade or migrate because they are divided by the very high Himalayan Mountain Ranges. When there were wars or struggles for power to control a village kingdom, our village tract became a safe heaven of refuge. Or if there were any famine, bad weather, diseases of humans, animals or plants our country was always ready to provide a greener pasture and cleaner water. So our Golden Shwe Bama village became the melting pot of two civilizations.

Sorry Nan I forgot to acknowledge that you told me about these facts in my first letter: our spoken language is from Tibeto-Burman group and related to U Tayoke’s language but our written language is from Brami script of Ko Kala’s village tract. And even our vowels or way of pronouncing is the same as southern Ko Kala’s few languages. So some of them could even read written Burmese correctly but could not understand much. But as our spoken language is similar to U Tayoke, they could understand some of our spoken words. Our lower half of the national dress is from Ko Kala and upper half from U Tayoke. And we got the religion, culture, arts etc from our big neighbours. But I am glad and feel proud because we had adapted all we got, modified to suit our needs and now almost all of our nationalities have our own unique languages, personalities, national dresses, traditions, cultures etc that we all could proud of.

Dear darling, I am sad to tell you about this, but anyway you had already known it. Because of the bad SPDC government, now our country is suffering the reversal of fate, totally in a different state, we are in the reverse gear mode. Our Shwe Bama village tract’s long tradition of giving refuge to all our neighbours in need, immigrant’s heaven, is sadly changed. Now many of our people are refugees, working legally and illegally abroad and we are in the emigration mode. Last time our country was a paradise for all of us, citizens and foreigners. Now we had lost our paradise like the Athu Yar Nat Min who was removed and replaced by the Tha Gar Min and sent to Athuyakae. But sadly, our SPDC is not Tha Gar Min or King of the angels, but acting like the King of the devils. They could not get or enjoy the Paradise stolen from us because they had just ruined our paradise and are collecting endless sins, preparing to go to hell, where they be long, in the next life. I hope and strongly believe that our lost or ruined paradise could be rebuilt by our united workforce once we got our democracy.

As you always said when I was a little bit disturbed with the never stopping visitors, Ain thar hma Ei lar thi in Burmese, which means only when the host (home) is pleasant, the guests would come. Your concept of “to be a donating person or paying hand is better than the receiving hand or a person in need”. Yes dear, now I could accept your foresighted ideas of trying to be at the upper end of charity chain of events. We have to thank god for chosen us in that position although we are not rich. We have to build back our country to regain our previous golden paradise status.

In the past we gained a lot; Brain Gain from immigrants, but now we are emigrating out from our mother land in droves and started to suffer the effect of Brain Drain. May be that is one of the SPDC Generals charitable idea of serving the world with our Shwe Bama’s brains, skills and labour. I am surprised with your never ending optimistic views that now many of our brothers and sisters are abroad, got a lot of experiences in almost every field. Once there is democracy and real open door economic policy, we all could contribute the rapid leap forward of our beloved country and we could easily overtake Thailand Malaysia, Singapore and all he ASEAN countries.

And I now could apply your Pollyanna’s optimistic views and could even see your temporary departure from me in t he fits of anger as a blessing in disguise for me. Because of that only I came to know Dr Tayza and Burma Digest and also have a chance to write love letters to you distantly following the paths of Nehru. Sorry again dear, I know this is the kind of gloating you hate most, and I had mentioned his name for three times already just to irritate you. But I hope you could already understand and forgive me at the end as I could not stop teasing you. And I don’t know why god matched two of us as life partners, you are always serious and hate fooling around and I am very light hearted and always search the funny side of any events around us.

Dear Nan, time is up because I foolishly waste it with the other subjects to impress you! I have to stop now but please reserve your judgment; don’t give your final verdict to fail me now. I will definitely continue to answer your remaining questions and impress you in my next letters. I hope to probe one of our ancestors, U Pyu and his civilizations next week but if Dr Tayza and Burma Digest Editorials thought otherwise and decided to stop their special courier service I have no choice but to stop nagging you.

Good-bye darling

Yours with love

(Ko Tin Nwe)

BO AUNG DIN 

TQ for this_

 

Politics in America

Election 2008 and Politics

Compassionate letter 8, “Loss of Home, Loss of Paradise”

May 17th, 2008

jr wrote an interesting post today on
Here’s a quick excerpt
Compassionate letter 8, “Loss of Home, Loss of Paradise”
OUR LONG MARCH to the MIRAGE PARADISE?

As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest

Dear Nan,

Do you remember the seminar we attended in 2001 called, Ethnic Minorities’ Struggles along the Thai-Burmese Border, organized by the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, the Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma, and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development. I think we had noticed the presence of UNDP, UNHCR, UNESCO and some UN officials there.
Dear Nan, nowadays why did you become so over sensitive, easily irritated, snappy, angry fast and quick to blame others including me? May be you are frustrated with the deadlock in our country’s future. Don’t worry dear, nothing last forever in this world, including the Military rules in Burma/Myanmar. There would be definitely a change in our country’s politico-social status. Don’t give up hope; we already could see the light […]

Read the rest of this great post here

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Compassionate letter 7,“Racial Discriminations everywhere”

Compassionate letter seven, “Racial Discriminations everywhere”

As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest 

Dear Nan,

Thank you for your kind reply letter. I am happy to know that you are not angry with me any more, but wish to stay for a while at your father’s house, just to keep accompany to your aunts. They are depressed because of the very long jail sentences of their husbands by the military leaders. It is too harsh because they just involved in political discourse but never involved in any criminal activities nor even participated in a violent nor peaceful political demonstration!

No wonder, our country is a shameful place where the government even imprisoned the people who dare to take the United Nation’s Human Right Declaration papers from the UN office to distribute.

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

On the 50th Anniversary of this Declaration, UN Security General Kofi Annan said:

 Human Rights are foreign to no culture and native to all Nations. It is a mirror that at once flatters us and shames us, that bears witness to a record of progress for parts of humanity while revealing a history and reality of horrors for others. 

“It was never the people who complained of the universality of human rights, nor did the people consider human rights as a Western or Northern imposition. It was often their leaders who did so.”

Yes dear Nan, governments, especially Myanmar Military and many ASEAN  dictator  governments are declaring that the Human Rights are based on western values and they want to keep their  ASIA values  just as an excuse to,  smoke shield their wish of denying their citizens of their Human Rights

Dear Nan, when compared to the abovementioned separated families, because of the unjust Burmese Military Government’s detention of their family members, our temporary separation is nothing to cry about. And you are never far away from me,

If we just think about each other, we are never far apart, always in each of our hearts. We are physically far apart but felt that we are psychologically together, present every where near each other all the times… Hti Saing’s voice surf the airwaves and goes right into my heart. Our youngest son is playing our favourite song, teasing me as he knows that I am writing to you.

Do you remember the time when we introduce Hti Saing’s songs to him? His remarks shocked both of us; I do not understand them and those BLACK AND WHITE SONGS are boring, I don’t like. He equated the old black and white movies shown on free TV Channels with the old songs. Now he always searches for Burmese Music VCDs whenever he visited Burmese shops. Although born in foreign country he still has Burmese blood in the body.

Don’t angry dear, Burmese that I mean is not Bamas only, but all the Ethnic Minorities, including your Shan blood. And I never forget my Burmese Chinese and Burmese Muslim friends, as we all are brothers and sisters only. And especially when we are away from our country only, I realized that the bond of Burmese Citizenship between all of us became stronger.

Dear Nan, we have frequent arguments and disagreements between us. You even read from a Psychology book and told me that it was because there needs a dominant leader in every household. You told me that there are a lot of divorces in the west because of equal rights between genders, women and men.

Talking about the Human Right records, we should submit to the World Guinness Book of Records to highlight our Burmese Generals’ achievements of world’s records in jailing the UN Human Right Record paper distributors.

Neither have a single Female Minister nor a Deputy Minister in the successive Myanmar Military Governments. We could call this as gender discrimination or it is the proof that Myanmar Generals are women right abusers. (Please ignore the unofficial; unconfirmed gossips the Myanmar Generals are afraid of and obey their wives. Especially Daw Kyaing Kyaing is the gate keeper of Than Shwe. All the appointments were controlled by her, whether for business or other matters e.g. transfers, promotions or appointments or for the further studies or study tours abroad etc. Some reports stated that even some younger Generals have to pay bribes to see their great leader. Than Shwe dare not do anything until and unless his wife shows the green light. But who knows, Than Swe and his Generals are still commanders-in-chiefs of their houses but ordered their wives to collect toll fees! )

Even the person working as the representative of few countries was jailed for using UNLICENSED FAX MACHINE! Mr Leo Nichols, the former de facto consular for Norway and other Scandinavian countries, died in detention under mysterious conditions after he was sentenced in 1996 to three years in prison for using a fax machine without permission.

(We should also submit this to the Ripley’s believe it or not.)

Dear Darling, from our domestic test of strength or quarrels, I wonder why we have successive unending battles, fights and wars around the world through out the history. I know you would mock with a smile because I dare to try, with out much wisdom/talent, following the path of the Great Nehru’s letters to his daughter.

Now our son came out from his room singing Sai Hti Saing/ Sai Kham Leik’s song, A Shan who visited Mandalay.  Although born here he curiously feels himself like staying in a foreign land. This song may be part of the clue to my search for ending all the fights, hatred and wars.

We could understand the feelings of our friend who came to Bama’s cultural heritage central town, Mandalay in Sai Hti Saing/ Sai Kham Leik’s song, A Shan who visited Mandalay. 

But we have to admit that we could sense the racial prejudice from both sides. I am not kidding Nam, at first glance; we all just think the dilemma of a Shan in a Bama city.

But it is almost normal for a visitor or a migrant, arrived in a new place. The inferiority complex of a new comer made that person feels unwelcome or thought that all the others are looking down on him. Later only he would find out that there are a lot of kind hearted people willing to help him out. Sure, there may be some people who like to discriminate or even take advantage of new-comers and even tried to cheat them. According to my friends, both the composer and singer of that song were comfortably living in the upper middle class of Mandalay, they even mentioned this in one of their songs, enjoying a very good lifestyles, got the degrees and composer Dr Sia Kham Leik was said to became a Medical doctor, even got the masters degrees and married to a Bama lady doctor.

Coincidently our son has skipped the DVD to Hti Saing’s famous song you like best The nature’s children about the place free of wars, fights and eternal peace. Is he hinting me indirectly that he want peace from our endless our domestic problems?

I strongly believe that the root cause of our family problems and all the wars throughout the history is because of our human’s inherited fault only. Almost all of us are greedy, selfish and crazy for power, and try to dominate upon others. That selfishness is later extended for our families, our friends, our clan, our race, our religion etc.

Dear Nan, just look back at all our family disputes, once we were together again, after a short argument, it seems minor. Sometimes we laugh together why we have fight for trivial things not worth at all. Now I know the root cause of our fights dear. It is because although our religion is same, we are from different races and we are attached to it too much in other words racially very sensitive.

If you are angry with me you had always thought that just because I am a Bama, I used to discriminate and look down on Shans. I have to admit that I am also guilty of this racial prejudice.

Darling, do you remember how we were always discriminated, once we step into any foreign airport or at any immigration check point? Although both of us are professionals and having professional Employment Passes from a reputable country and we already obtained the visas to enter their countries we were frequently asked to see their Immigration officers.

Just because we were holding Burmese/Myanmar Passports, we used to get a rude treatment and felt unwelcome every where. Other foreigners, even our secretaries and maids, just cruises the Immigration counter clerks, because the officials just look at their Passports and sometimes approved with entry stamps even without looking up at them. But they used to set aside our Burmese Passports and forced us to wait till he finished the queue.

Dear Nan, I remember one incident when you were furious because of the silly questions the Immigration officer was asking. I have to calm you down and the officer threatened you with deportation. Do you remember once one of the Immigration man threw my passport to me just because he could not get the under table money he was hinting, which some Burmese illegals used to offer. We reported to the officer-in-charge and demanded the apology in front of all the passengers and threatened to take legal action if he failed.

Darling, we were discriminated like this not in the West, rich developed country. That was in our neighbour, just a little bit richer than our country. Dear Nan, we used to talk about countless similar discrimination we suffered in our work place, market and every where just because we were holding the Myanmar Passports.

You already know dear, almost all the foreigners used to look down on us as Myanmar citizens. They realized what we are only after working with us or deal with us. We have to earn hard or some times fight to get respect or recognition. Many of our Professional friends and relatives working and staying almost all over the world have the similar experiences of discriminations based on the origin, skin colour, race, religion, wealth, social status, education, profession, status or rank at work etc.

Do you still remember the ugliest incidence in our life which shamed us? Although not our fault, we felt guilty of our youngest son’s violent action on his friend. We were urgently summoned by our son’s school Headmaster. We were lucky, both of us were in the house, you had not started your work yet and I was free because I had an evening shift duty. Our son had kicked his friend and as he was wearing the hard shoes there was a cut on the shin of his friend. We sent the injured child, accompanied by a teacher, to the nearest clinic and later sent back to his house.

The head master and the teachers had already investigated about the fight. Actually the victim was a Burmese Muslim boy. Other classmates used to call him a Kaladain not pure blood, mi ma sit, pha ma sit. He used to become angry and the arguments used to end with some minor fights.

On that faithful day, our son teased him with the abovementioned words. That Burmese Muslim boy retorted our son that he is also same as he had mixed parentage, Bama and Shan. Once our son heard the words directed back to him, he became angry, started a fist fight and kicked his opponent.

Dear Nan, both of us knew that our child alrea dy had an inferiority complex. Among my relatives, he was treated as a Shan, teased as A Shan Poke or Shan Pae Poke and when he visited your relatives, he was called a Bama or Bama Poke Kalay . He was also sometimes teased by others as a hybrid or mixed blood.

Now his Burmese Muslim friend’s words became the straw that break the camel’s back!

We already know that all the children were innocent.

But we, adults had wrongly brainwashed our children with all those racial slurs. That was in 1972, just after the General Ne Win’s speech at the BSPP conference and his rubber stamp parliament in preparation for the citizenship act. Yes! He used the same words on our Burmese Muslim brothers; and the actual meaning of mi ma sit, pha ma sit is bastards!

General Ne Win unkindly and rudely said this to instigate all the Burmese against Muslims, to divert the peoples’ unhappiness on the poor socio-economic conditions. He could not pull out the country from the so called Gyar Kar La interim period. The whole population was stuck and faced a lot of difficulties in that Gyar Kar La   The Burmese Socialist Paradise was no where in sight. So he needed a bogyman or scapegoat. In 1967 he created the anti-Chinese riots. So it was your turn Mr Indians in 1972.

I hereby wish to apologize my Burmese Muslim friends for reopening the old wound. It will hurt you all, but I hope you could understand that only if we could pinpoint the root cause; we would be able to prevent the racial and religious conflicts. In Burmese there is a saying, only if we know (could get the diagnosis) we could find the medicine (to treat and cure the disease). 

That speech of Ne Win was followed up by numerous bombardments of intense propaganda warfare against Indians and Burmese Muslims, in all the media, and echoed by many people.

So even many of our, Chinese mixed blooded friends have to claim that; they are pure Burmese, to avoid that racial assault. (Please accept my apology, as it would definitely hurt the feelings of my Burmese Chinese friends.)

Please read this from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia about the Burmese Chinese: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_Chinese    

The Burmese Chinese are a group of overseas Chinese born or raised in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Although the Chinese officially make up three percent of the population (1,078,000), this is underestimated because of intermarriages between ethnic Bamar, and because of widespread discrimination against minorities (which compels many to refer to themselves as Bamar). Traditionally, the Chinese have dominated Burmese economy, although many enterprises today are co-owned by the military.

Notable Burmese Chinese:

 Aw Boon Haw (Hakka) _ Inventor of Tiger Balm

Khun Sa (Kokang) _ Major Southeast Asian druglord

Lo Hsing Han (Kokang) _ Major Southeast Asian druglord

Ne Win (Hokkien) _ Burmese dictator from 1960s – 1980s.

Dear Nan, do you notice that notorious Ne Win, the father of p resent Myanmar Military, was the person who inflamed the present racial tensions in our country. After all most of the Burmese citizens knew that he is also in the same category he profiled others, mixed blooded, but no one dare to question him.

Our Burmese Army’s real father Bogyoge Aung San was not like that. No wonder present Myanmar Military leaders tried to disown him. Bogyoge Aung San initiated and invited all of our Ethnic Minority brothers for the Panglong Conference but the present Myanmar Military Generals tried to divide us so that they could rule the country forever.

Dear Nan, although I never read Ne Win’s speeches, you used to read from A to Z of his speeches, saying that you need to know all the steps of your enemy. When the word  bastard  appeared in our meeting after the incident with the Headmaster, victim’s parents and ourselves, you rightly pointed out the source or origin of that word and asked forgiveness from all and dare to blame Ne Win by name! I salute your courage, general knowledge and fair mindedness.

And you are the one who angrily showed me the newspaper article of a very famous, actually my favourite author and journalist, Bo Ta Htaung Thein Phae Myint, shamelessly echoing Ne Win by calling our Burmese Muslim friends  Kala Dain . He even mention that ancient Kalas (Indians) were good, provided our country with religion, culture, arts, language etc. He emphasized that the present day Kalas (Indians) are bad, came here with penniless but now rich, low standard, mixed blood etc. I still remember that both of us decided to boycott his newspapers and books since then.

Recent remarks of UN Secretary General Koffi Annan are the best comment and advice for Thein Phae Myint and other racial intolerant journalists:

“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.”

Yours with love,

 

(Ko Tin Nwe)

BO AUNG DIN

Compassionate letter six, “Our Long March to the Shwe Bamar Pavilion”

Compassionate letter six, Our Long March to the Shwe Bamar Pavilion”

As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest

Dear Nan,

You are not satisfied and questioned me why I never write anything praising Ko Phone Maw, commemorating Burma’s Human Rights Day. Dear Nan, I could not believe that you do understand me. I just copy your habit or your ways of doing things to impress others. During any examinations, you tried not to answer the question others would choose, or favourite questions tipped earlier before the examination. When answering the essay types, especially in literatures, you told me that you used to try presenting the answer from the different point of views from others. So you got a better score than me. Sorry dear, if I even failed to impress you. I thought many people would write about Ko Phone Maw, so I avoid directly writing about him but indirectly wrote about all kinds of Human Rights. If there were respect for Human Rights everywhere, Ko Phone Maw would not have died.

I will try to switch back to my lighter form for your question regarding the origin of Shan, Ethnic Minorities and Burma or history and roots of our ancestors. But don’t worry dear; although I intend to start writing the answer to you as a serious official, history document, I now know that it will be very dull. So instead of answering your questions directly, dear darling, kindly allow me to answer using our village peoples’ migration format. It may be more appropriate and appeared informal as I am writing it to you, my love and my estranged wife.

I still remember the bed time stories you used to tell our children so that they would not forget their roots. Once upon a time, long long ago (round about 650 B.C. ) there lived our great great grand mother named Daw Daw Shan (also known as Daw Tai). She lived independently up north in a far far away land at present day U Ta Yoke’s village place at the lower part of the Yangtze River.

1. Her brothers, sisters, cousins and her family traveled down through the present day Ko Yu Nan’s village and migrated further down into our Shwe Bama village and settled in the Shan quarters at the eastern part.

2. A large group of her sisters made a detour U turn and went up north and climbed the Tibet hills and stayed there forming the Tibeto-Burman ancestors of the whole region.

3. One brother continued his journey up to the present day Ko Ya Khine’s village.

4. Another brother even decided to continue his long march up into the present day north eastern part of U Ka Lar’s village.

5. One of her brother continued south in our Shwe Bama village and settled in lower Shwe Bama closely with Daw Daw Mon and U Ka Yin.

6. Few sisters refused to follow them in a long journey, decided to continue to just settle in present day Ko Yu Nan’s village.

7. One cousin sister broke away from all others who headed to the south west, and decided to go straight southwards and settled in present U Tai’s village.

8. One distant cousin sister also broke away from all and moved to the east, settling in present day U Lao’s village and U Cam Bo Dia’s village. Actually they are a little bit different, some had more of U Ta Yoke’s blood and some even have mixed blood with U Kha Mars and some even went further and said to be settled in Vietnam.

9. One of her sister, known as Daw Daw Thet married to U Pyu and their decedents are part of my ancestors.

10. Some of the children of the sister who made a detour U turn and went up north and climbs the Tibet hills later, came down and they were known as U Kan Yan’s family and formed one of the great grand parents of Shwe Bama villagers.

11. At last intermarriage of distant cousins who were the descendents of U Pyu, U Kan Yan and U Thet give rise to my Shwe Bama ancestors.

Note: the long march travelers of Daw Daw Shan’s relatives came down in different times in batches. Because it happened in the prehistoric times, I have searched and collected data, and made it simple and easy from: the folk tales of our Ethnic Minorities, the old records of Chinese and Indian travelers’ chronicles, Thailand and Khmer chronicles, from Hman Nan Yar Za Won, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma (Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, Rangoon University Press, Rangoon, Burma, January 1960.), Dr Than Tun (History Professor, Mandalay University) “Chin, Myu and Khumi, Notthern Rakhine” in Myanmar Magazine Kalya 1994 August and other publications, and HGE Hall History of Southeast Asia and Burma’s old history text book publishedshed by Burmese Education Ministry.

I hereby wish to go into some details of what I had given as a gist above: Daw Daw Shan’s other cousins descended from the same ancestors, now inhabit northeast Assam or Asom at Ko Ah Than’s village in U Ka Lar’s village tract at the north west of our village.

Some cousins of Daw Daw Shan settled along the way, at Ko Yu Nan’s village in the north east of our village. Some distant cousins, mixed blood with U Ta Yoke and U Kha Mar, went to the east and founded the U Laos’ village and Daw Cambodia’s village. Others went down to the southeast and settled in U Thai’s land or village. No wonder U Thai’s Land was known as Siam or we could even call Shan.

Daw Daw Shan’s relatives had been gradually pushed south, at about the beginning of the Christian era by the advancement of the U Tar Tar. About 650 A.D. the Daw Daw Shan’s cousins formed a powerful village in Nan Chao, now that village is known as Ko Yu Nan’s village.

Daw Nan Chao, your great grand aunty was quite powerful and could resist U Ta Yoke’s attempts at conquest until 1253. During the years 754 to 763 A.D. the Daw Nan Chao, cousin of Daw Daw Shan extended her rule even up to the upper basin of the Irrawaddy River and came into contact with the U Pyu.

Dear Nan, I hope you could immediately recognize that he was my great grand uncle U Pyu. He was one of three brothers who founded our Shwe Shwe Bama village: viz, U Pyu, U Kan Yan and U Thet. U Pyu was then the ruler of the Upper Burma Village Plains.

Some of Daw Daw Shan’s descendents ventured beyond Upper Shwe Bama village into Lower Shwe Bama village to mingle and live together with the Daw Daw Mons.

During the heydays of the Daw Shan’s cousin Daw Nan Chao Village, her children had even crossed Upper Shwe Bama to reach far west and established the once powerful Ahom Village, in the northeastern part of Ko Ka Lar’s village tract, now known as Assam or Assom village, as I had stated above.

Daw Daw Shan herself had moved into the area now known as the Shan Pyae or Shan quarters of our Shwe Bama Village in large numbers and settled down and were well established by the time our first ‘Shwe Bama village head’ King Anawrahta ascended his throne in 1st century.

Daw Daw Shan’s relatives tried desperately to defend their Daw Nan Chao village kingdom from the U Ta Yoke attackers, but in 1253 the village Kingdom fell. Some of the cousins of Daw Daw Shan, unwilling to live under foreign domination there; move towards the south in strength, to seek freedom in present day U Tai’s village area.

They joined forces with the Daw Daw Shan’s other cousin sisters, who had already settled in the area, and in 1262 took over Chiang Rai village, in 1296 Chiang Mai village and in 1315 took Ayu Dhya village, and established their own village tract kingdoms.

In Upper Shwe Bama the Daw Daw Shan established the village kingdoms of Mo Gaung village (Mong Kawng), and Mo Hnyin village (Mong Yang), and in the Shweli basin, the Mao village Kingdom.

My great great grand father Anawrahta ruled the Pagan village for 43 year. He was able to unify the whole Shwe Bama Village tract under his rule for the first time in history.

During this time he sent his armed villagers into the Daw Daw Shan’s part of the village to help ensure the security of his village Kingdom. However, he had no intention of annexing or taking over of the Daw Daw Shan’s village. He merely wished to defend the low lying plains of his Shwe Bama village from raids by the Daw Daw Shan’s disgruntled village militias. For this purpose he established a string of fortified villages along the length of the foothills.

Relations between Daw Daw Shan and Shwe Bama village tract became friendlier under Anawrahta’s successors , but the Kingdom of Pagan fell to the attackers from U Ta Yoke village in 1287 A. D. and was destroyed.

Then in1312 A. D. one of Daw Daw Shan’s son took the kingly Title of “Thihathu” and ascended the Shwe Bama village head or throne in the village of Pinya.

Daw Daw Shan’s cousins, the (Mao) Shans, who had established villages in Mo Hnyin, Mo Gaung and the Shweli areas then overran the villages of Pinya and Sagaing in 1364 A.D.

After they had withdrawn, a Daw Daw Shan’s younger son from Ava village, whose title was Thadominbya, combined Pinya village and Sagaing village and established a new Village Kingdom, over which he ruled. So your great great grandmother Daw Daw Shan’s children effectively became village heads in our Upper Shwe Bama village tract from 1282 A.D. to 1531 A.D.

In 1527 A.D. due to the attacks of the Mo Hnyin village’s Saw Bwa on Ava village, the Daw Daw Shan’s children and U Bama’s children of the area left their homes and descended southwards towards Toungoo village, where they established a new village.

Thohanbwa, the son of the Moehnyin village Saw Bwa, who became Head of Ava village, was soon assassinated due to his lack of skill in statecraft and administration, and in 1543 A.D. Onbaung Khun Maing succeeded him as the village head.

Meanwhile from Toungoo village, in the year 1555 A.D. King Bayinnaung succeeded in unifying the whole of Shwe Bama Village for the second time in our history.

He was able to “persuade’ the Daw Daw Shan’s grandchild, Shan Saw Bwa to submit his suzerainty. In accordance with the traditions of the earlier Burmese Village Heads, the administrative setup was that the Daw Daw Shan’s descendents, Saw Bwas who submitted to the suzerainty of the Burmese King retained full powers to rule over their own village. This relationship was based on mutual respect. The military forces of Burma village include contingents of Shan soldiers who proved their valour on the foreign battlefields.

That is how Daw Daw Shan and U Bama’s descendents had lived closely together, like brethren, till the fall of Upper Burma in 1886.

Then the Daw Daw Shan’s grandchildren Saw Bwas, with the intention of restoring freedom to Burma and to the Shan State, chose the U Bama Princes Limbin and Saw Yan Naing to head their alliance, and started waging war against the colonialism.

Dear Nan, while you were away, I used to spend most of the time with your old history books, which we bought for your thesis. As your thesis is related to Diaspora, migration and immigration, we had a lot of books related to this subject. Now only, because of your questions, I learned and began to understand the basis of our village’s cultures, our dialects, literature, religions, and the history of migrations.

But dear darling, my answers about Daw Daw Shan were adapted from your uncle U Shan’s website. I am using your own method of appeasing the examiners, now you all have no choice but to accept my answers and also have to give high marks to me: may be perfect 10. Do you now understand or realize my idea or style of answering your questions based on your own concepts and ideas?

Dear Nan, I have to admit that I had learned this secret technique from you. Once I could not understand why although we learned together in the university, you could score better marks than me, and lecturers and even some professors were pleased with your answers. You told me your secret weapon against the lecturers, to try to find out which text book the lecturers are using; sometimes it may be different from the prescribed text book. Different chapters from various subjects were taught by different lecturers and they used to teach from the book they like best. You taught me to read from the lecturer’s book of choice. Then only we would get the best marks and praises from the examiners. Now I am practicing as you preached me. Although I could quote from various history books I had chosen my answers from your Uncle Shan’s favourite web site. (I hereby acknowledged that I have adapted the above facts from the Shan Herald Agency News’ Shan State Affairs section, Shan History.)

We could see in the above mentioned era how Daw Daw Shan’s children migrated and grew mightier. We should study how political, economical, social and philosophical patterns changed according to their coming. To sum up again, after the fall of Bagan village, Ava village kingdom was built in 1364 M.E. Subsequently, until Pinya village, Sagaing village and Myinsaing village eras, the power of Bagan village collapsed and rebellious small village kingdoms spread. When the invading conqueror Daw Daw Shan’s children came across Shwe Bama’s children, they accepted the Buddhist cultures and Shwe Bama cultures. In this case, the saying, ‘conquerors are conquered’ need to be explained thoroughly.

Sorry dear darling, I adapted this last paragraph from the “Story of Myanmar told in pictures” by Dr Than Tun and translated by Maung Win War. Anyway no one is sure the source of your ancestors’ conversion to Buddhism. We should accept that your relatives had very good relations with Daw Mon and U Kha Mar. You could even get the Buddhism directly from them. I am neither an expert nor a historian but I could see with my own eyes that your Shan Pagodas look more like Thai and Cambodia Pagodas than our Burmese. Never mind dear, it is not important or became a big issue for us as both of us are essentially the same Buddhists.

from (http://www.mchronicle.com.mm/pages/v2n5/thantun.shtml)

When I adapted the whole story from the Shan Herald, you looked down on me as a cheap plagiarist. So now I am just showing off a little bit to you and just as usual trying to tease you. I purposely chose the episode of the history, your Daw Daw Shans’ conquering over the Shwe Bama, which our government history text books just used to mention one line only and skipped forward to the glorious Shwe Bama warrior Toungoo village head or king Baying Naung who successfully established our 2nd Shwe Bama Empire.

Dear Nan, I have to show some of my general knowledge to earn some more extra marks or points from you. The same thing happened to the conqueror U Tar Tars. They took over Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and they killed the men and children but married those Muslim women. Their new wives strangely converted them into Islam and they accepted the Islamic cultures. In this case also, as the saying goes, ‘conquerors are conquered’. And those Tar Tar/Turk descendents’ armies invaded Afghanistan, India subcontinent (future India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.) and established the Moghol Islamic Empire. So the Central Asia Muslims, Chinese Muslims, Yunan Chinese Muslims and Burma’s Chinese Muslims or Panthays and many of the Burmese Muslims are also their descendents. Even the Muslims in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia got Islam from those Chinese Muslims.

I know that I frequently have an overdose of humour which you don’t like and used to sway from the main topic often.

I am so happy that you could not fail me in front of Dr Tayza and Burma Digest readers. If I just answer on the phone, you would just simply cut off the line. Now you get what you want, on paper in front of all. You cannot stop me now. I am sure that you would not be able to bribe Dr Tay Za and Burma Digest editors as they are not like the greedy SPDC generals. I hope I could impress you with my general knowledge in history, migration and may be even some radical views.

Dear Nan, our village or Shwe Myae is actually the virtual highway link between the villages in the south and their origin Ko Yu Nan’s village in northern part. Ko Indo Nesia, Daw Ma Lay traveled through our village in 2500 BC and 500 BC.

And those villagers on the numerous Islands up to U Au’s and Daw Zee Lans’ place, now we called Ko Poly Nisian also thought to have came down the same road.

Many of our cousin brothers like U Ka Yin (Pha Thi) and Daw Mon even came down earlier than Daw Shan from far north of Ko Ta Yoke village. U U Bamas and other cousin brothers of Tibet-Bama family villagers also came down from above. You and your half brother Ko Thai, Ko Laos and Ko Cambodia also came down from Ko Yu Nan’s village.

In the official Thailand History books, they even claim that all of the above came down from Ko Ta Yoke place through Ko Yu Nan’s village and even Daw Tibet had made an almost U turn and climbed beck onto the Tibet High Lands.

Those came down from north were met by the travelers from Ko Kala’s village. They came down from northwest. There was an old silk road from U Ta Yoke village at north-east to U Kala’s village at south-west. And that high way was in our Shwe Bama land.

Later they built the Burma Road which linked Burma and China. Its terminals are Kunming in China and Lashio in Burma. The road is about 1,130 kilometres long and runs through rough mountain country. This remarkable engineering achievement was built by 200,000 Chinese labouers during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and completed by 1938. It had a strategic role in World War II, where the Allied Powers used the Burma Road to transport war supplies to China. Supplies would be landed at Rangoon and moved by rail to Lashio, where the road started in Burma. In charge of the Operation was General Merrill and General Stillwell. At that time, Burma was a colony of the United Kingdom.

When the Japanese overran sections of the Burma Road the Allies flew supplies over the Hump and built the Ledo Road, also later known as the Stillwell Road. Ledo Road was built from Ledo in Assam into the Hukawng Valley as an alternative to the Burma Road, which had been closed by the Japanese. It was completed in January 1945 and was renamed Stilwell Road by Chiang Kai-shek.

(From the Wikipedia encyclopedia.)

Now China and India are negotiating with Shwe Bama villagers to build a modern high way liking their villages through our land. Recently Ko Ka Lar’s village chairman U Mus Lim went to Shwe Bama and signed an agreement to lay natural gas pipe line from Ko Ya Khine’s part of our village to Ko Ka Lar’s village. And there is already an agreement to connect the gas pipe line from Ko Ya Khine’s part of the village to Ko Yu Nan’s village. So these pipelines would become the renaissance of our forefather’s migration.

Dear Nan, why are you very sensitive, I am just mentioning the coincidences but not supporting those pipe-lines. You already know that I supported your policy of sanctions on SPDC. If you are not short sighted, you could still read the Burma Digest’s strong condemnation of TOTAL in recent issues. It is funny that those who play with fire and burnt sometimes blamed the fire. Recently the Malaysia PM complaint that their Petronas oil company suffered some losses because of the sanctions in the host countries they operate. Then why did they foolishly decided to follow their greed to buy the shares of TOTAL and invested in Myanmar/Burma oil exploration? They should now redeem themselves by supporting the US, UK and EU led pressure on Myanmar Generals for the rapid democratization.

So there were a lot of travelers, migrants, victims of disasters and famine, war refugees and etc moving along the road and some of them settled in our Shwe Bama Village as we are located along their high way through out the history.

Dear Nan, do you now accept the concept that our village was and still is a highway from west Ko Kala’s village to Ko Ta Yoke’s village in the north. People from Northwest of Ko Kala’s village came to our village through Ko Ya Khine’s village. Since 500 BC Hindu Orrisa village colonists had migrated towards Southeast and settled in lower part of our Shwe Bama village. Later other migrant villagers from the Andhra Dynasty from Ko Kala’s village similarly migrated to our village in 180 BC. Some took the long march on land and then some had sailed here.

Even U Pyu, one of the three founding brothers of Shwe Bama village was believed to be mixture of three groups;

(i) one local inhabitant since Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age,

(ii) another came from Ko Kala’s village bringing in Hinduism and Buddhism along with their cultures and literatures successively

(iii) and the another group believed to came down from north, Tibeto-Burman group.

Daw Daw Mon was also rumoured to have two groups of ancestors:

(i) One came down from above like Daw Daw Shan,

(ii) and another from U Kala’s village tract , Orrisa village and Talingna village bringing in Hinduism and Buddhism to our land. Ko Ta Laings originated from the Talingana village of Ko Kala’s village tract and arrived to lower Shwe Bama village part, met and married with Daw Daw Mon’s children, who came down from Ko Yu Nan’s village, spreads through our village up to Ko Thai, Ko Laos and Ko Cam Bodia’s villages.

They give us the Buddhism arts, culture, literature etc. You see Nan, our Shwe Bama spoken language was from Tibeto-Burman family and there are a lot of similarities with Chinese spoken language. But our writing language was from U Ka Lar’s village, Brami Script we took not from our native Daw Daw Mon but her cousin U Mon resided in U Thai Land’s village.

I am revealing this to you so that my dear Nan could accept our whole Shwe Bama villagers as the same family. Instead of dividing into numerous weak small countries we could even plan for the Future Federal Union of Burma working with ASEAN+++ formula, I proposed to you in my first letter sent together with my Valentine Music DVD.

Dear Nan, when I wrote in formal style, you complained that it was very dull, not attractive, you have to skip some lines and paragraphs, and you admitted that you even fell asleep before finishing my letter.

Now what? When Daw Khin Myo Chit wrote “The Heroes of Pagan” historians said she was playing with the history books like a child with a crayon. Now if you accuse me of attempting to imitate her, I would be glad and would felt honoured and reply with pride, “Thank you with my pleasure.” But I have to admit that my English could not even touch her toes’ level. And in the Story of Myanmar told in pictures by the famous historian Dr Than Tun, he had attempted to simplify the Burmese History.

Dear Nan, you have to understand me that I used to and need to quote the famous personalities frequently because I have an inferiority complex. I am afraid you would not be serious if I cannot support my words or the style of writing with the world accepted great persons’ works. I have to use them at least as an excuse for my deeds or words. You know I am just a graduate and were forced to waste my precious time with my business matters but you had already got two post graduate degrees, a Master and a PhD. So I hope my darling Nan is not sneering at my letter as a show off. Please kindly let me continue to enjoy with my false sense of grandeur by quoting those famous persons.

You see Nan, with the growing age and fading memory, I used to sway away from my primary target of answer your question.

The recent discovery of the Genetic DNA researchers’ claim of the finding of the Chinese to be migrated from Africa or “Out of Africa theory” may reveal the longer and winding trail of our great ancestors. From Africa to China and then continue to Burma. If we consider the origin of the Southern Indians from Africa and Arian Migration from the north or tall blue or brown eyed and fair people proved to be genetically related to east Europeans, some of our ancestors had endlessly marched quite a long distance.

Actually if I am allowed d to sum up the above: U Pyu, U Kan Yan and U Thet were my ancestors. Most of the U Kan Yan’s descendants stayed along Chin Dwin River and between Chindwin and Irrawady rivers. As I had stated above, few groups of villagers came down from northern Ko Yu Nan’s village, one of them went and established Daw Tibet’s village. One group went further west to Ko Ya Khines village and some went further into Ko Kala’s territory. One group stayed along our mother Irrawady and formed my ancestors. One group stayed in Ko Ka Chin’s village. Actually Ko Ka Yin, Daw Mon and almost all our ethnic brother villagers came down the same path.

Dear Nan, no wonder your great grandmother Daw Daw Shan was the elder sister of Ko Thai and Ko Laos’ great grandfathers. Because of the same language and culture you even cruelly planned to divorce me and go and marry with one of them. I know, I know, you just wanted to hurt me because you were angry with me and never really intended to do so.

Dear Nan, because of that, there are larger number of cousins of Ko Ka Chin , Ko Chin and Ko Na Ga in Ko Ti Bet’s village and Ko Kala’s village in Shwe Bama village. And there are a lot more of Ko Ka Yin and Daw Mon’s relatives in Ko Thai, Ko Cam Bodia’s villages.

Dear Nan, now I have answered part of your questions with flying colours. You could not accuse me of loving to eat the fruits without knowing the roots! I hope I have successfully proved that I love you; I know and respect you and your ancestors also.

Your loving hubby

(Ko Tin Nwe)

BO AUNG DIN

TQ for the the interest in my article and for republishing.

Politics in America

Election 2008 and Politics

Compassionate letter six, “Our Long March to the Shwe Bamar Pavilion”

May 17th, 2008

poblete wrote an interesting post today on
Here’s a quick excerpt
Compassionate letter six, “Our Long March to the Shwe Bamar Pavilion”

As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest
Dear Nan,
You are not satisfied and questioned me why I never write anything praising Ko Phone Maw, commemorating Burma’s Human Rights Day. Dear Nan, I could not believe that you do understand me. I just copy your habit or your ways of doing things to impress others. During any examinations, you tried not to answer the question others would choose, or favourite questions tipped earlier before the examination. When answering the essay types, especially in literatures, you told me that you used to try presenting the answer from the different point of views from others. So you got a better score than me. Sorry dear, if I even failed to impress you. I thought many people would write about Ko Phone Maw, so I avoid directly writing about him but indirectly wrote about […]

Read the rest of this great post here

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Gordon Brown:Burma is guilty of inhuman action

Gordon Brown:Burma is guilty of inhuman action

Telegraph.co.uk

A woman walks in the rain as she covers herself with a plastic bag in the outskirts of Yangon, MyanmarThe official death toll of the cyclone disaster in Burma has risen to 78,000, as the country’s military regime continues block aid from reaching 2.5 million survivors.

The new figure is nearly double the official estimate of 43,000 dead or missing given on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister spoke shortly after France’s UN ambassador said Burma was on the verge of “committing a crime against humanity” by refusing to allow aid to be delivered.

A woman walks in the rain as she covers herself with a plastic bag in the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar

Jean-Maurice Ripert made the comment during a UN General Assembly session after Burma’s UN ambassador accused France of sending a warship to the region.

France said the ship is carrying 1,500 tons of food and medicines for the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

Mr Brown called on the ruling junta to stop blocking foreign aid. ”This is inhuman. We have an intolerable situation, created by a natural disaster.

“It is being made into a man-made catastrophe by the negligence, the neglect and the inhuman treatment of the Burmese people by a regime that is failing to act and to allow the international community to do what it wants to do.”

He said “the responsibility lies with the Burmese regime and they must be held accountable.”

The official death toll of the cyclone disaster in Burma has risen to 78,000, as the country’s military regime continues block aid from reaching 2.5 million survivors.

The new figure is nearly double the official estimate of 43,000 dead or missing given on Wednesday.

According to state television, as of May 15 more than 55,000 people were missing and almost 20,000 have been injured in the worst disaster in the country’s history, which hit two weeks ago.

Independent experts have said the actual number is probably far higher, with British officials saying the total dead and missing could be more than 200,000.

The new death toll comes a day before the Burmese junta is due to lead foreign diplomats on a stage managed tour of the Irrawaddy Delta, the worst-hit area.

The delta is closed to outsiders — not just foreign aid workers and journalists but also Burmese from elsewhere in the country – making it increasing difficult to gain an impression of conditions there.

“The tour will go to a model camp in the delta, but we think it would be a mistake to turn our back on the visit even if it is a show operation” said a Western diplomat last night. “If we want to get more aid in, perhaps it is a game we have to play.”

Torrential rain continued on Friday, compounding the misery of survivors. There are reports of disease, and accounts of hungry villages gathering along roadsides in the rain and mud, begging passing vehicles for food with clasped hands. Food and clean drinking water are practically unavailable in most places.

Ramesh Shrestha, the head of Unicef in Rangoon who has local staff on the ground, said that in several places thousands of survivors are crammed together in temporary shelters without sanitation.

His agency is digging trenches as temporary latrines, and gathering together orphaned children “who have been found wandering around”.

Unaccompanied children are at risk of trafficking.

Restrictions imposed by the junta mean such relief efforts remain localised. Only around 10 per cent of victims are believed to have received any aid at all.

The European Union humanitarian aid commissioner, Louis Michel, on Friday became the latest in a long line of international grandees to visit Rangoon but gain no concessions. The junta again refused access for international aid workers. “They did not give any reason,” he said.

Mr Michel was also denied access to the delta, but taken instead to a “rather perfect, organised camp” near Rangoon.

State television reported that prime minister Thien Sein —number four in the military heirachy – claimed: “We have already finished our first phase of emergency relief. We are going onto the second phase, the rebuilding stage”.

The top three generals are yet to make any public statement on the crisis.

“They are in a completely parallel universe,” said the diplomat. “They see it essentially as a security operation. It’s straight from the playbook they used during the protests in September and October last year. You clear up all the journalists and block the news.”

The regime has an established tactic in dealing with Western pressure by slowly offering minor, cosmetic concessions and waiting until international attention wanes. “It’s completely transparent what they are doing with this trip,” said the diplomat.

In photos: ‘Burma Cyclone Aftermath – May 16th’

In photos: ‘Burma Cyclone Aftermath – May 16th’

By M&C News May 16, 2008, 16:24 GMT

 U.S. military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) is seen stationed about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The U.S. navy ship is awaiting permission from the Myanmar military to lift and transfer much needed humanitarian relief aid supplies to impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May.  EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

U.S. military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) is seen stationed about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The U.S. navy ship is awaiting permission from the Myanmar military to lift and transfer much needed humanitarian relief aid supplies to impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Helicopter pilots from the U.S. Marines with Sea Knights, U.S. marine helicopters parked on the deck of military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) stationed which is about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The ship has 14 helicopters onboard ready to transfer aid suplies to Myanmar once the U.S. navy ship receive permission from the Military junta to transfer the much needed humanitarian relief materials to the impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May .  EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Helicopter pilots from the U.S. Marines with Sea Knights, U.S. marine helicopters parked on the deck of military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) stationed which is about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The ship has 14 helicopters onboard ready to transfer aid suplies to Myanmar once the U.S. navy ship receive permission from the Military junta to transfer the much needed humanitarian relief materials to the impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May . EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
 
U.S. navy sailors and marines pass bags of water for packing into boxes on U.S. military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) stationed about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The water packs are part of the aid supplies to be transferred to Myanmar once the U.S. navy ship receive permission from the Military junta to transfer the much needed humanitarian relief aid supplies to impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May .  EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
U.S. navy sailors and marines pass bags of water for packing into boxes on U.S. military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) stationed about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The water packs are part of the aid supplies to be transferred to Myanmar once the U.S. navy ship receive permission from the Military junta to transfer the much needed humanitarian relief aid supplies to impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May . EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Burmese young boys have their lunch at a monastery outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese young boys have their lunch at a monastery outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
A Burmese monk dries his robe at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
A Burmese monk dries his robe at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
U.S. navy sailors and marines fill up bags with water on U.S. military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) stationed about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The water packs are part of the aid supplies to be transferred to Myanmar once the U.S. navy ship receive permission from the Military junta to transfer the much needed humanitarian relief aid supplies to impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May .  EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
U.S. navy sailors and marines fill up bags with water on U.S. military amphibious ship, the USS Essex (LHD2) stationed about 85 nautical miles or 113 km south of Yangon, Myanmar in the International waters of the Andaman Sea on 16 May 2008. The water packs are part of the aid supplies to be transferred to Myanmar once the U.S. navy ship receive permission from the Military junta to transfer the much needed humanitarian relief aid supplies to impoverished country struck by Cyclone Nargis on 3 May . EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
A Burmese young monk smiles as he walks near an uprooted tree in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
A Burmese young monk smiles as he walks near an uprooted tree in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese cyclone survivors queue for food during a distribution outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese cyclone survivors queue for food during a distribution outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
 Burmese cyclone survivors queue for food during a distribution outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese cyclone survivors queue for food during a distribution outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese monks and residents cut an uprooted tree at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese monks and residents cut an uprooted tree at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese young boys wait for food at a monastery outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese young boys wait for food at a monastery outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese men cut an uprooted tree at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese men cut an uprooted tree at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese men cut an uprooted tree near a pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese men cut an uprooted tree near a pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese young boys wait for food at a monastery outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.  EPA/EPA PHOTO
Burmese young boys wait for food at a monastery outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, 16 May 2008. Almost two weeks after the storm tore through the Southern Myanmar, leaving up to 128,000 people dead, supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities. EPA/EPA PHOTO
 

Myanmar cyclone: Forced labour camp fears

 Myanmar cyclone: Forced labour camp fears

Telegraph.co.uk

By Graeme Jenkins in Rangoon

Survivors of the Burma cyclone are being forced into government camps amid fears they will be used as forced labour.

Government refugee camps to house cyclone survivors in KhonChanGone township, Yangon, BurmaThe ruling military junta has forcibly relocated tens of thousands of survivors from the Irrawaddy delta following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis on May 2.

 Many who had sought shelter in Buddhist monasteries – the centre of unrest during protests against the junta last year – are also being moved into government camps.

Ko Hla Min, a 35-year-old farmer who lost nine relatives in the storm, said that those rounded up by soldiers around the devastated town of Bogalay were being used as forced labour.

 

“They have to break stones at the construction sites. They are paid $1 per day but are not provided with any food,” he said.

 Meanwhile, a senior UN official told The Daily Telegraph that he feared other survivors will shortly be moved back to the delta and used by the junta to plant the next rice crop in the coming weeks.

 About 80,000 people had sought sanctuary in schools and temples in the delta town of Labutta, which was left in ruins after the cyclone struck nearly two weeks ago, they said.

 Now, only about 20,000 remain in their care at 50 monasteries in Labutta, after the military moved them to camps.

 A Buddhist monk stands outside a monastery that had given shelter to people displaced by the cyclone

With an official toll of 66,000 dead or missing and another two million in dire need of emergency aid, the government again rejected calls to accept foreign relief workers needed to quickly deliver food, water, shelter and medicine. The Red Cross estimates the real death toll to be closer to 128,000.

 Many displaced families have moved into temporary sheltersForeign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown yesterday the most senior members of Burma’s military government of turning a “deaf ear” to the plight of their subjects.

 “From the top level of government, there is a sense that there is a complete deaf ear, that [ruling general] Than Shwe is not hearing the seriousness of the crisis and the regime has set its back against the need to accept outside help.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the United Nations was to organise an emergency summit in Asia to discuss the disaster.

Many displaced families have moved into temporary shelters

 The reports came as the Burmese regime announced an overwhelming endorsement of its new constitution in the referendum held last weekend.

 State radio claimed that 92.4 per cent of voters in a 99 per cent turn out voted “yes”, although rights groups and dissidents earlier reported a low turnout and extensive irregularities. At some polling stations officials voted “yes” on behalf of anyone who had not appeared by 1pm. Campaigning against the constitution was punishable with jail.

A western diplomat in Rangoon told the Daily Telegraph that only one small fraction of the army was initially devoted to relief efforts in the area devastated by cyclone Nargis, while the regime concentrated its resources on conducting the referendum. Their only concession to the storm was to postpone voting in the effected areas until May 24.

The supposedly democratic charter is widely dismissed as a smoke screen for prolonged military rule.

Many of those are still without adequate food, shelter and drinking water two weeks later. Reports of cholora are beginning to spread by word of mouth.

 In an attempt to hide the burgeoning humanitarian catastrophe from the outside world even Burmese people are no longer allowed to enter the Irrawaddy Delta area, which is ringed by road blocks. Foreign aid workers are banned and foreign journalists posing as tourists have been unable to enter since the beginning of the week.

The military insists that it will distribute the international aid trickling into Rangoon airport, although some of it has already appeared in Rangoon markets.

part of the canada.com Network

CALGARY HERALD

Forced labour cleans up Myanmar cyclone

Military leaders say relief getting to 2.5 million victims

Aung Hla Tun, Reuters

Published: Friday, May 16, 2008

Myanmar’s military government said Thursday its cyclone relief effort was moving along swiftly even as foreign powers warned of starvation and disease among up to 2.5 million people left destitute by the storm.

The European Union’s top aid official met government ministers and urged them to allow in foreign aid workers and essential equipment to prevent more deaths. But his trip did not yield any breakthroughs.

“Relations between Myanmar and the international community are difficult,” Louis Michel said. “But that is not my problem. The time is not for political discussion. It’s time to deliver aid to save lives.”

Earlier, Myanmar’s generals signalled they would not budge.

“We have already finished our first phase of emergency relief. We are going onto the second phase, the rebuilding stage,” state television quoted Prime Minister Thein Sein as telling his Thai counterpart.

Nearly two weeks after Cyclone Nargis tore through the heavily populated Irrawaddy delta — leaving up to 128,000 people dead — supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs.

In Bogalay, a Delta town where 10,000 people are thought to have died, people complained of forced labour and low supplies of food at state-run refugee centres.

“They have to break stones at the construction sites. They are paid K1,000 ($1) per day but are not provided any food,” said Ko Hla Min, who lost nine family members in the storm.

In Bogalay relief materials were being held in storage waiting for distribution and government officials sold tin-sheets for roofs at $5 apiece, far above the budget of most.

Along the river rotting corpses remain near where villagers fish, wash and bathe. The United Nations has said more than half a million people may now be sheltering in temporary settlements.

The UN estimates of the number of people in urgent need at 2.5 million, and called for a high-level donors’ conference to deal with the crisis.

YouTube videos of cyclone Nargis

YouTube videos of cyclone Nargis

 

Cyclone aftermath in Myanmar – 05 May 2008 (ALJAZEERA.NET)

78,000 killed’ in Burma cyclone

 

 

Situation in Yangon, Burma after Nargis Cyclone hit

 Witness to maynmar cyclone speaks out(CNN)

 

 

devastation, death in maynmar: dead are thrown into river