Compassionate letter seven, “Racial Discriminations everywhere”
As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest
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
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