STOP HATRED, STOP TRYING TO DIVIDE; FOR A LONG LASTING PEACE, PROGRESS, AND PROSPERITY

 

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Dreams from the Barack Obama’s grandfather

 Dreams from the 

Barack Obama’s grandfather

Beatings and abuse made Barack Obama’s grandfather loathe the British

The President-elect’s relatives have told how the family was a victim of the Mau Mau revolt

Ben Macintyre and Paul Orengoh

Mr Onyango served with the British Army in Burma during the Second World War and, like many army veterans, he returned to Africa hoping to win greater freedoms from colonial rule. 

 

Barack Obama’s grandfather was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence, according to the Kenyan family of the US President-elect.

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What was I sent here (as an Indian) for ?

 What was I sent here  (as an Indian) for ?

Natalie Shobana Ambrose | in Malaysiakini 

Please read my heartfelt feelings, written below, after reading this article_

Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (fondly know as Rumi) wrote, “The human being therefore has come into the world for a specific purpose and aim. If one does not fulfil that purpose, one has done nothing.

When I was younger I remember wishing so hard that I wasn’t Indian. Many times I’d ask my mother if I looked like I was of mixed parentage – my mother’s straight to the point answer ‘Of course you look Indian. What else would you look like? Both your parents are Indian. ‘

Much to my disappointment, without a shadow of doubt – I was Indian. My attempts to not stand in the sun didn’t help me on the fairness graph either.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the way I looked or my inherited ability to roll my ‘r’s’. I just didn’t want to be Indian because of the stigma of being Indian.

To me, being Indian meant that we were not the brightest lot, we were poor, didn’t have much of a future and enjoyed fraternizing around coconut trees singing songs to our heart’s content.

But that wasn’t me. I refused to be defined by society’s perception of Indians.

No matter how hard I tried not to be Indian, I was derogatorily called Tangachi (literally, little sister, but often denoting, cutie or ah-moi) and would be teased by students of other races attempting to speak Tamil (something only fellow Indians would understand).

I grew up not seeing Indians on TV unless on the news, – usually at a crime scene – and I grew up listening to radio adverts mocking the Indian accent. Surrounded by all these observations, who in their right mind would want to be Indian?

Anything but Indian I pleaded. Anything! It must have been quite an amusing sight but an even more common sight in today’s Malaysia.

I’ve grown up since then, and fully embrace my Indian heritage. But what about society?

Of course the likes of Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty, the glamorization of Bollywood moves and movies has helped in the acceptance of being Indian. But what does it mean to be a Malaysian Indian?

Always #3

 

Am I, Malaysian first and Indian second? Or am I, Indian first and Malaysian second?

The reality of living in Malaysia means that we are defined by race. Every application form we fill subjects us to define ourselves by race and the Indian box is always at its highest position at number 3.

It didn’t matter that my parents raised their children to believe that we could be anything we wanted to if we really wanted to, because society dictated otherwise and the law makes sure we remember our ‘standing’ in the country. Always #3, nothing more.

I remember clearly being defined by race from a very young age. I remember while in primary school, my class teacher (who I thought was a very nice Malay lady) told the whole class that I looked like her maid.

Not a very clued-in child, I thought, well her maid must be very pretty. Little did I realise what had just happened. Of course, when I got home and spoke of my day to my mother this compliment turned into the bitter reality of class-fuelled racism. I had been indirectly told I was #3 in the scheme of things!

I never understood what I had done for someone whom I respected – and my teacher of all people – to treat me in such a manner.

In a perfect world, we would not see colour, but the reality is we do see colour and we interpret and place judgments – good or bad based on our biases, socialization and upbringing.

Maybe if we acknowledged that racism does exist in us, we might be better able to address it. It is a bit of a radical idea in harmonious unified Malaysia, but we all are biased to a certain extent. It’s just that some people are able to conceal it better than others – but it that doesn’t mean it doesn’t’ exist.

I’m not advocating racism, in fact the opposite. I’m looking for a solution. The first step to any recovery is acknowledging the problem, – if not what are we trying to fix?

We may have different likes and beliefs – but when does a preference become racism?

I believe it is when a sales person refuses to let you try on a dress because he thinks you can’t afford it. It is when a quota system limits you to the right of an education of your choice. Or when a job advertisement specifies what race, age and gender you should be before you can even apply.

It is when scholarships are limited by race and not test scores, it is when you have to pay more for the same house your neighbour has – on top of paying for your child’s education because there weren’t spaces left for your race in the public tertiary education system.

How then are we to love our neighbours?

When life is defined and limited to race, problems arise. When people are suppressed, repressed, bullied and forced to be voiceless a country suffers.

For today, we, as a nation may look well, but will Malaysia have a multicultural society to brag about in twenty years to come or would we have to scour foreign lands for sightings of Malaysians?

 Tolerating one another

 

 As a nation, our greatest asset is the fact that we are a multicultural people, and as the travel brochures would say ‘living in harmony with one another’. Or, as the Tourism Malaysia ad says, Malaysia – Truly Asia!

Somehow it has become a song we sing rather than a reality we practice. In many ways, it should read Tolerating One Another. After all that is what we do best – tolerate.

The very word advocates hatred. We should not have to put up with each other, rather we should embrace one another and strive to understand each other better …. not looking at race or religion.
The only way to do this is to spend time with each other instead of allowing our prejudice to distance us from one another.

It sounds very much like my moral classes back in the day. Maybe we should all hold hands and sing Kum-Ba-Yah or Rasa Sayang and sit around a bonfire and magically we will be transformed.

A huge part of me wishes I hadn’t spent all those years trying so hard not to be Indian. But an even bigger part of me hopes that young Indian children don’t feel like they have to apologize for being an Indian in Malaysia – for this is the only country they can call home.

Have migration enquiries to other countries increased in the last six months? I don’t think we need statistics to confirm it. As a young Indian living in Malaysia, why wouldn’t I embrace a country that allows me to be the best I can be without penalizing me for my race? As I ponder on RÅ«mÄ«’s words, I wonder to myself, will Malaysia allow me to fulfil my purpose or will I stay and achieve nothing.

Please read my feelings after reading the above article_

All the Indians and mixed blooded Indians are sufferring in Myanmar.

You still have here_

Indian MP, Indian Minister, IndianDeputy Minister, Indian Political secretries, Indian opposition leaders, Indian Judges, Indian Military officers, Indian Police Officers, Indian Ambasadors, Indian Immigration Officers – – -e.t.c.

You still have here_

Indian schools, Indian TV Channel, Indian Newspapers, Indian Radio Stations, Indian Journals, Indian Magazines, Indian Movie Theatre- – -e.t.c.

But in our Myanmar or Burma, sadly NON of the above could be found.

If your face have Indian features, dark skin, sharp nose, beard (shaved or not), whether you are Hindi or Muslim or Christian you are discriminated at each and every corner you turn!

Myanmar Military rulers are labeling all the Indians as guest citizens, ‘Kala’ or mixed blooded persons or not pure citizens. That, however, could not make us, or people like us, to become non Burmese Citizens. We are Burmese citizens no matter how some might disagree, or wish otherwise or decreed by force. Whether mixed blooded or not is not important in the eyes of the whole world but SPDC could not deny our right of 100% pure Burmese citizenship!

We, and all the other persons like us, not just those Indians, Chinese, Bengalis or Pakistanis although we are undeniably mixed blooded immigrants’ children or descendants of immigrants, but we are now full Burmese Citizens. No matter what some like SPDC racists or their cohorts might say contrary.

Our great grand parents and all the ancestors were loyal citizens of Burma and all of them were and are holding the Burmese National Registration Cards or ‘Ah Myo Thar Mhat Pone Tin Cards’. My brothers and sisters’ family members are holding those Burmese National Registration Cards but now the SPDC Apartheid Régime had ordered to issue the differently formatted cards for their younger children. It is curious when the parents and elder brothers and sisters are the same citizens as our Burmese Buddhists at least on paper but now only their youngest children are blatantly or brazenly discriminated as different from others and their own elder siblings.

This racial discrimination is practiced on not only Muslims but on Chinese and Hindis. SPDC National Registration officers decreed that if any one is not pure Burmese Buddhist, could not claim to be pure blood and all the Burmese Muslims must be recorded as mixed blooded persons. Whether correct or not, know or not, must be enlisted as mixed blooded Indian, Pakistan or Bengali. So it is blatant Racial Discrimination or openly practicing Apartheid practice of SPDC Junta.

We believe that no one has that right to practice the issuing of Apartheid certificate or new type of Registration different from other citizens to us. By doing so, SPDC is clearly starting to commit a Genocide offence.

We wonder how that single document would change their dreams or what would be their vision of their world or Myanmar excluding them or shutting out all of them from all the opportunities. It is our children’s turning points of their lives. SPDC ruthlessly had shown them who they are, why and how they are not welcomed in Burma/Myanmar. As our children journey into an uncertain future, they will struggle and grapple with their sense of their rightful place in this Myanmar nation.

The constant emphasis on differences by the narrow minded SPDC apartheid racists who could not see value in these children prevent them from seeing them as anything other than Burmese Citizens.

Our country’s diversity makes us who we are and what we are today. And though we Burmese Indian Muslims, Burmese Hindus, Burmese Indian Christians may be different but we all are almost completely burmanized culturally but I am sure when we dream we dream as Burmese only because we know Burmese, we love Burmese, and Burmese only is in our heart and mind.

Successive Burmese Kings had accepted us as their loyal subjects or citizens, after Independence U Nu’s government had accepted us. And General Aung San had even promised us: “I want to address the Indians and Chinese residing in this country. We have no bitterness, no ill will for them, or for that matter for any race and nationality in the world. If they choose to join us, we will welcome them as our own brethren. The welfare of all people of this country irrespective of race or religion has always been the one purpose that I have set out to fulfill. In fact it is my life’s mission.”

But sadly those illegitimate illegal SPDC Régime is practicing Apartheid committing the Genocide on all of us.

I could guarantee to all of our Burmese friends that we are all Burmese in our heart and we have no intention or imagination to even support the foreign countries believed to be the homeland of our ancient ancestors even if Burma is at war with them!

Please give back our children at least a chance to dream. Please do not shut off their future.

 

 

It’s about equal rights

  It’s about equal rights

I have adapted the original letter to Malaysiakini by Seethalakshmi Suppiah 

I hope Malaysiakini and  Seethalakshmi Suppiah could understand and forgive for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good letter for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

We are familiar with the term ‘divide and conquer’ as both the Roman and British empires put this tactic into practice. In order to maintain power and control, they resorted to turning the people against each another.

Typically religion, language, or caste is brought into play to turn people against each another, thus making it easier for the would-be controllers to exploit and take control. They realised that people who are united would be able to oppose their rule.

This divide and rule, although sometimes a slow process, is evidently effective and subtle, so subtle that we do not recognise it happening until it gets out of hand. This strategy normally involves:

  • Creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects in order to forestall alliances that could challenge the sovereign.
  • Aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign.
  • Fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers.
  • Encouraging frivolous expenditures that leave little money for political and military ends.

As an example of divide and rule, the British Empire exercised the following tactic in Sri Lanka where hey made it mandatory for race to be indicated on official documents and forms.

Does all this information ring an all too familiar bell? Does this all this seem to be happening around us? To us? To our loved ones? To our acquaintances? To our fellow citizens?

It puzzles me that we hardly see ourselves as Burmese. Why do we identify ourselves as Bamas, Shans, Kachin, Chin, Mons, Chinese, Indian, Muslims and everything in between but never just as Burmese? I think these divisions have been implanted into our system over the years. Our minds, from a very tender age, have been tempered with and manipulated.

We are all citizens of the same country, from the same vernacular although sometimes we refuse to see it.

Who is to say that if someone asks for our rights which are due to them, that they should return to their country of origin?

How is this logical when this is our homeland?

We were born on this land, we are Burmese.

We should not have to go to some foreign country to get our rights or to make it in life or to feel accepted. Nevertheless, this is the case here in this country and this is a serious flaw. This flaw in my opinion cannot be addressed unless we all see ourselves as Burmese, we unite, we love and respect each other and we demand equal rights for all.

I strongly believe that this is not an impossible dream. My friends and I of various race, religion, colour, size, sexual preference, gender and so on and so forth have been able to discuss everything under the sun without inciting hate or getting offended so I’m sure the rest of us can too. In fact, I must add, we have grown so fond of each other that we love and respect a person for exactly who he or she is without holding against anything them.

My point is, it is not about special rights, it is about equal rights. Our rights belong right here on this land, this country. I remember so clearly citing:

“Kabar_ Ma Kyae

Bamar_Pyae

Darr_Doe’ Pye

Darr_Doe’ Myae

Doe’_ Paine Dae’ Myaee

Doe’ Pye

Doe’ Myae . . . . .”, so many times in school in full spirit though all the while we were being separated. Are we really going to sit around and take it? Don’t you think it is time we joined hands and embraced each other for what we truly are, Burmese?

The way I look at it, it is pretty much in our hands. We are not to be afraid of the government. It is after all supposed to be the people’s government and not the government’s people. As diverse as we are, let us unite. Vote wisely in the referendum to reject the extremists, autocrats and dictators

Don’t cry for me grandpa, Minister Mentor

Don’t cry for me grandpa, Minister Mentor

  

There is a Burmese saying_

Kyaw poo dar_khan naing thee

Naar poo dar_ma khan naing”.

  • Most of the peaple could bear the heat on the back of the body (prefer to work hard even under the sun)
  • but could not stand the (heat/ pressure) in the ears (read: brain / stress / undue pressure from the boss).

Some of us could prefer to work hard but could not stand the mental torture, pressure, or stress.

Yes! Even our Prophet (PBUH) had taught us_

If you do not want to donate to a beggar, use polite words to apologize.

But never insult the beggar even after you donated a large some of money.

Getting / money or not is far less important than getting an insult.

Money goes into the pocket only but the insult goes deep into our hearts.

So feeding the human’s mental ego is sometimes more important than just feeding the mouths.

Successive Burmese Governments used to discriminate us as foreigners, migrants, mixed blooded persons, Kalas (Migrant Indians/Indians), Kala Dein (Indian descendent)  and “Mi Ma Sit_Pha Ma Sit”. (The words meaning Bastards used by the the Burmese Chinese General Ne Win on Burmese Muslims. I think he never look at his own BASTARD FACE in the mirror!)

Most of us emigrated (migrated out) and left Myanmar not because of economic reason. As the professionals we could earn enough to stay in upper-middle strata in Myanmar and could earn some respect not only from the non-Muslims but from the Monks and even from the Military authorities. We just hate the unfair general discrimination on our race and religion. (As all the Military leaders are corrupt, we could even do anything in Myanmar after paying bribes. If the payment is good enough we could even get their daughter’s hands.)

Once the governments could fulfill (actually all the government leaders wrongly thought like that! They think they had done favours on their on citizens but actually the people are the masters of the governments. Although the governments’ policy and guidance  are important, it is the people who really works hard to achieve every thing for the country. And the give the salaries, of cause from their tax money, to those political leaders.) the physical and psycological needs of its citizens_

Food, shelter, clothing, employment is important but should understand that they also should take care of their social, mental and psycological needs.

SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT FAILS BECAUSE OF THAT FAILURE>

Just read the following article.

Don’t cry for me grandpa Lee,

Goodbye and thank you

Excerpts from article by SEAH CHIANG NEE.  Singapore’s emigration rate, one of the highest in the world on a per capita basis, is a blow to the government.

YEARS of strong economic growth have failed to stem Singapore’s skilled youths from leaving for a better life abroad, with the number topping 1,000 a year. 

This works out to 4%-5%, or three in 10, of the highly educated population, a severe brain drain for a small, young nation, according to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. 

Such high-end emigration is usually associated with less better-off countries where living conditions are poor. Here the opposite is the case. 

The future doesn’t look better, either, despite Lee holding out promises of “a golden period” in the next five to 10 years. 

The emigration rate, one of the highest in the world on a per capita basis, is a blow to the government, particularly to Lee, who takes pride in building up this once poor squatter colony into a glittering global city. 

They are people who abandoned their citizenship for a foreign one, mostly in Australia, the United States and Canada. 

The emigrants, mostly professionals, don’t leave Singapore out of poverty but to seek a better, less pressurised life.  

Lee recently said the brain drain is touching close to this family. 

Lee’s grandson, the elder son of Prime Minister Hsien Loong, who is studying in the United States, has indicated that he may not return.  

Over the years, the children of several Cabinet ministers have also made Britain or the US their home.  

Lee, aged 84, has often spoken on the issue with emotions, once tearing when referring to the losses.  

However, he has offered no reasons for the exodus beyond economic opportunities, although the government more or less knows what they are.  

Singaporeans who have or are planning to emigrate are given a host of 10 questions and asked to tick the three most important ones. They include the following: –  

> High costs of living 

> Singapore is too regulated and stifling 

> Better career and prospects overseas 

> Prefer a more relaxed lifestyle 

> Uncertain future of Singapore. 

Some liberal Singaporeans believe Lee himself, with his authoritarian leadership and unpopular policies, is largely to blame.  

Singapore’s best-known writer Catherine Lim calls it a climate of fear that stops citizens from speaking out against the government.

Globalisation, which offers opportunities in many countries like never before, is a big reason for the outflow.  

Many countries, including populous China, are making a special effort to attract foreign talent. 

Others who leave were worried about the future of their children living in a small island, and look for security and comfort of a larger country. 

The exodus is more than made up – at least in numbers – by a larger intake of professionals from China and India. 

“The trouble is many of the Chinese then use us as a stepping stone to go to America, where the grass is greener, Lee said. 

Some feel the large presence of foreigners, and the perks they enjoy over locals in military exemption as well as in scholarships, are themselves strong push factors.  

They see the foreigners as a threat to jobs and space, undermining salaries and loosening the nation’s cohesion. 

“I just feel very sad to see the Singapore of today with so many talented, passionate Singaporeans moving out and being replaced by many foreigners,” said one blogger. “I feel sorry for the future.” (Me too, for Myanmar.)

Lee recently made a passionate appeal to youths to think hard about their country. He said they had received education and opportunities provided by Singaporeans who had worked hard for it. 

“Can you in good conscience say, ‘Goodbye! Thank you very much?’ Can you leave with a clear conscience? I cannot,” he said.  

But many Burmese just need to say this even although they could not get the same kind of welcome from their host countries. Some need to work illegally, some as refugees and many professionals have to do the manual works. So you Singaporeans are luckier than us. Just leave the old grandpa enjoy his own great authority on new comers, or new immigrants.

 

 

Look Burmese Democrats, are UK Politicians really secular?

Look Burmese Democrats!

are UK Politicians really secular?

Burmese opposition used not very secular UK Politicians to shutup Burmese Muslim grieviences. Burmese opposition activists and journalists pointed at the so called democratic SECULAR UK government and politicians but they failed to see or are blinded that although British  Politicians claimed to be secular,  they used this LAME EXCUSE to shutout other religious practices except Christian and Judism.  

In the democracy index, analysed in The Economist’s annual publication, The World in 2007 that grades 167 countries out of 192 independent states according to their degree of democracy. Among the “Full democracies” Britain is 23rd. Not impressive at all!

Do you know what my favourit hero, young Saya Daw U Ottama’s (named Mg Paw Tun) advise to his brother (Tun Kyaw Aung) ,

“Young brother, in any exam you have to aim for the first position.”

And he threw away his second prize medal for the fifth Std. awarded by British District Chief, into the Kaladan river. So no need to look up at how UK treat its non Christian citizens according to U Ottama’s wise advice. No need to copy them!

Christian British have the upper hand so they pretend to put religion out of politics jut to maintain the Status pro! Look how they treat the British Muslims with contempt. Britain’s democracy on religion is just a shit you all Burmese Democrats wish to copy for Buddhist Burma?

We want full democracy; respecting the Human Rights of all the citizens irrespective of race, religion or creed. And the Individual freedom in the corruption free Myanmar. May be I am day dreaming a Utopia.

Secular = 

(A)adj.

  1. Worldly rather than spiritual.
  2. Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body: secular music.
  3. Relating to or advocating secularism.
  4. Not bound by monastic restrictions, especially not belonging to a religious order. Used of the clergy.

 (B) Noun.

  1. Religious skepticism or indifference.
  2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

Secularism was the word adopted by George Jacob Holyoake in the early 1850s to describe a system of morals and social action shaped exclusively by this-worldly considerations, irrespective of religious beliefs. The word was derived from the secular education movement for the complete separation of religious teaching from other forms of education.
 

But we could see the hypocrisy when  they could print or publish Islam bashing articles in their web pages and newspapers.

Hypocrisy = Noun, pl. -sies.

  1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
  2. An act or instance of such falseness.

[Middle English ipocrisie, from Old French, from Late Latin hypocrisis, play-acting, pretense, from Greek hupokrisis, from hupokrīnesthai, to play a part, pretend : hupo-, hypo- + krīnesthai, to explain, middle voice of krīnein, to decide, judge.]

 

br-par-cr-2.png

Anti Heathrow expansion protesters hang banners from

Parliament building in London, Britain, 27 February 2008. …
 

br-par-cr.png

bishop.jpgDr. Geoffrey Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior figure in the Church of England, has faced a barrage of criticism since making the remarks, first in a BBC interview and then in a speech at the Royal Courts of Justice, that the adoption of Sharia law in Britain seemed “unavoidable”.

According to Lambeth Palace, the archbishop “sought carefully to explore the limits of a unitary and secular legal system in the presence of an increasingly plural (including religiously plural) society and to see how such a unitary system might be able to accommodate religious claims”. His lecture was “well-researched” and involved consultation with legal experts, especially people with knowledge and experience of Jewish and Islamic legal systems.

sharia councils in some places already exist informally. “It might be better to formalise them under British law, to make sure they do correspond to British law. But there are real practical difficulties.”

Stephen Lowe, the Bishop of Hulme, condemned the “kneejerk” response to the remarks as a “shame on our nation”.He told Radio 4’s The World at One: “We have probably one of the greatest and the brightest archbishops of Canterbury we have had for many a long day. The way he has been ridiculed, lampooned and treated by some people and indeed some of the media … is quite disgraceful.”

Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University, who was quoted at length by Williams, said: “These kinds of statements just feed the fears of fellow citizens and I really think we, as Muslims, need to … abide by the common law. And within these latitudes there are possibilities for us to be faithful to Islamic principles.”

With his plea for recognition of the Muslim legal system in Britain, the archbishop of Canterbury has outraged his people. The comments delighted some Muslims, but outraged many others in Britain.

The Sun tabloid labeled him a “a dangerous threat to our nation,” and the Daily Express wrote that he had capitulated to Muslim extremists. The tabloids used words such as “outcry” and “rage” to describe the public reaction and called for him to resign.

The archbishop, leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, had suggested that Shariah, the Islamic legal code, should be introduced in Great Britain — at least parts of it. He said that religious judges should be allowed to make rulings on some civil matters and that British courts should recognize those decisions — in cases dealing with marriage, divorce or disputes, for example.

“The prime minister believes British law should apply in this country, based on British values,” the spokesperson for Prime Minister Gordon Brown coolly commented. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham labeled it “a recipe for disaster.”

Shariah is a touchy subject in the debate about the role of Islam. And to the horror of the British public, opinion polls taken of the country’s Muslim residents show that up to 40 percent want the right to apply Islamic justice in their areas of residence.

A system of “Shariah councils” has long existed in Britain where Muslims can go to seek rulings on marital issues and other disputes. Although these rulings are not binding in any way under British law, many Muslim families still observe and adhere to them.

While Williams has since been backed by other senior bishops, the media’s reaction has been poisonous, drawing lurid headlines accusing him of everything from cowardice to tacit support for Islamic terror. Some editorialists have called for him to resign, but the Church of England said Sunday he would not do so.

The REAL IDIOT John O’ Sullivan wrote in New York Post on Thursday, February 14, 2008

Now, there’s space in British law for private arbitration, as Rowan Williams said. Businesses sometimes build it into contracts; Jewish courts have long handled disputes that both parties voluntarily submit to them for resolution. (SHIT, JEW LAWS ARE OK in SECULAR UK but Muslims are not allowed to practice according to their own Laws!)

I heard on the BBC that British legal system is based on BIBLE (is this secular?) and could not accept the Islamic Laws.

 After all these racist Britishs were the ones who already had the experience of Islamic Religious laws as Customary Laws in their Muslim Colonies, to name a few even Burma, India, Malaysia etc.. Now only all the UK government and Law makers are acting fool, dumb or idiotic of their historical experiences.

Medical bodies investigate and punish breaches of professional ethics.

The IDIOT John O’ Sullivan insulted the Bishop.

Alas, in the course of persuading both sides not to push their disputes to the point of breaking up Anglicanism, Rowan Williams as primate (first bishop among equals), has repeatedly turned the other cheek – and repeatedly got slapped by both sides. More, he has shown a genius for putting his foot in it with ill-judged public statements – for instance, that terrorists “can have serious moral goals” or that Western market transactions might be “acts of aggression” against the world’s poor – that then require several rounds of further explanation.

One Sharia “court” in a London suburb, Leyton, has reportedly more than 7,000 divorces.

If UK is truely secular, could you explain the following_

Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed, widely known as Mohamed Al Fayed,  an Egyptian businessman and billionaire. He is the owner of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, the English Premiership football team Fulham Football Club and other business interests. His fifth child, Dodi from Al Fayed’s first marriage was killed with Diana, Princess of Wales and Henri Paul, the driver of the car and employee of the Fayed-owned Hôtel Ritz Paris, during the infamous car crash in Paris, 1997.

He arrived in Britain in 1974 .

In 1979, Al Fayed bought the Hôtel Ritz Paris, and restored it to its former glory for which he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (Legion d’Honneur) by the then President of France, Francois Mitterand.

 In 1985, he and his brother Ali Al-Fayed bought House of Fraser, a group that included the famous London store Harrods, for £615m. 

For years, Al Fayed unsuccessfully sought British citizenship, despite having four British children and paying millions in taxes; also donating vast sums to charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital. Both Labour and Conservative Home Secretaries repeatedly rejected his applications on the grounds that he was not of good character. He took the matter to court, but failed.

When we heard the news of our Burmese Buddhists and Christians easily getting PR and Citizenships, we wonder whether Al Fayed was denied citizenship just because of his faith, ISLAM.

Al Fayed’s eldest son, Dodi had a close relationship with Diana, Princess of Wales. Both were killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. Al Fayed has since made repeated allegations that the deaths were not accidental but rather the result of a wide-ranging conspiracy involving Prince Philip and MI6. We need to consider whether his accusations were possible or not as we could not get any prove from any side. But there is no smoke without fire. If Dodi were a Christian, who knows the fairytale could end with they live happily together… 

And just look at the Anglo-Burmans in GREAT SACULAR England_

Margaret Thatcher introduced a new laws for British citizenship  in the year 1982. Where although the grandfather was three quarters English and his teenager child is still classified Anglo-Burman whereas the father, whose ID goes back to before the new law was introduced, was not.

It is of course absurd and patently unjust but I dare say that although it effects Burmese British all of you just keep quiet!. It’s as if the Burmese military regime had taken its cue from Margaret Thatcher’s new laws for British citizenship introduced in the same year 1982.

The new citizenship effecting on Burmese

and favour the EU (READ:ALL CHRISTIANS)

jacqui_smith.jpg(Non EU) Foreigners living in Britain will be expected to go through a new expanded citizenship process or leave the country, under new plans outlined by ministers today.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she wanted to end the situation where foreign nationals “languish in limbo” by living here but not adapting to the British way of life.

Even the ultra-wealthy – (Ha Ha like Al Fayed) who can currently avoid some of the conditions imposed on less well-off immigrants – will be expected to apply for British nationality or permanent residence.

“You will not be able to languish in limbo. Once your period of temporary residence comes to an end you will need to apply for the next stage or leave.”

Winning citizenship will take at least six years from the point someone arrives in the UK, a year longer than at present because of a new stage of “probationary citizenship”.

The probation period will last 12 months if the foreigner takes part in community activities such as volunteering, charity fund-raising, running a sports team or playgroup, or working as a school governor.

Migrants who do not take part in community work will have to wait longer – the existing five years plus a minimum of three years’ probation.

This type of community work may even be made compulsory, said a Green Paper published today.

The rules will not apply to Europeans –

including those from the eastern European countries

which recently joined the EU.

But Ms Smith also announced a new review of access to welfare payments, such as child benefit, by people from other European Economic Area countries.

Ms Smith went on: “I don’t think it is a good thing to have people who are permanently living here but have not taken that step towards permanent citizenship.”

Full access to benefits – such as jobseeker’s allowance and income support – will no longer be granted after a person has been in the UK for five years.

Applicants will instead have to wait until they have completed their probationary period.

New conditions will be introduced on winning British citizenship, such as an emphasis on being law-abiding. (For EU members no need  to be a LAW -ABIDING  person?)

If human rights laws prevented someone with a criminal record from being removed from Britain, they would have to serve five years’ probationary citizenship, it added.

Minor offenders could have to serve three years’ probationary citizenship, and extra time could also be imposed on applicants who had been convicted of violent, drug or sex offences.

Parents whose children commit crime could be barred from citizenship or permanent residence in the UK, the document suggested.

“If people won’t play by the rules in this country their journey to citizenship should be halted or slowed down,” said Ms Smith.

A new fund financed by a surcharge on immigration applications will be set up to give cash to areas of the country which experience problems due to immigration – such as over-subscribed schools.

The fund is expected to raise tens of millions of pounds a year.

A draft Bill based on today’s proposals is due this summer with full legislation expected in November.

Changes will apply to new arrivals after the new laws are passed, and not to foreigners already living in the UK, so reforms are only likely to affect migrants arriving from 2010.

Rangoon University Students Union

Rangoon University Students Union

RUSU

The political movement and the struggle for national liberation have a unique character in Burma as the students were always seen as the mobilizing force at the forefront of the struggle for freedom of Burma. The student movement is inseparable from the historic struggle for Burma’s independence from both colonial power and dictatorship.

Dr U Nyo had donated the Rangoon University Students Union building where students with the nationalistic spirit used to gather. Union building was finished before the start of 1931 summer holidays. Rangoon University and Yudathan College students gathered in that building for the first time and had a combined meeting. In that meeting they formed a protean committee for the drawing up of the constitution for the Students Union.

Ko Rashid led 9 member committee and that meeting decided_

  1. Students to vote and elect the committee members.
  2. To draw the University Students Union constitution.
  3. Discuss how to elect and choose the committee members.
  4. At that meeting temporary working committee was organized to supervise and hold an election for the Union Chairman and Committee Members.

Once the 1931-32 university semesters started, protean committee members had already finished the constitution.  The constitution, rules and regulations were also distributed to the Union members. Protean committee members called the union students a meeting at the upstairs hall in the union building and discussed about the election for the chairman post.

At that time, Ko Htun Sein had resigned from the Maths Department and was reading first year Law. Because of Ko Htun Sein’s outspokenness, courage, nationalistic spirit and great ambition, Thakhin Ba Sein wrote a proposal letter, nominating Ko Htun Sein for the Union Chairman post.  

Election Committee announced the election date and fixed to be held only in the next month. No one was nominated to compete with Ko Htun Sein for many days. University authority (Professor) ? D J Slorce’s crony students nominated Ko Ein, a Burmese Chinese, later became Galone U Saw’s minister (U Saw was the person who assassinated General Aung San)  to compete with Ko Htun Sein.

Therefore that election became the first in the history of the Student’s Union to be contested for the Chairman post. The University Students’ Union was ready in the University compound and became the centre of Nationalist movement of students. (That building was dynamited by General Ne Win)

Ko Htun Sein and Ko Ein’s supporters campaign very hard for them. Ko Ein’s supporters campaigned extreme methods such as mixing politics with religion. Just because Ko Htun Sein was a Muslim, they used religion to rundown Ko Htun Sein.

Even those disliked Ko Ein and defended Ko Htun Sein could not stand the attacks using religion and at last had to change camps to support Ko Ein.

During the election the religious extremists voted for Ko Ein. Crony students of the university authorities also voted for Ko Ein.

The election was quite active. The votes were counted thoroughly and finished at 11 PM.

Then the Election Committee Chairman Ko Kyaw Khin announced_

“Dear University Union Students, when the Election Committee members counted the votes, there is tie of votes. As the two candidates got the equal number of votes, the Election Committee members now have the duty or burden to   choose or elect the Chairman post. According to the Union’s Constitution, if the tally of vote is a tie, the Chairman of the Election Committee is allowed to vote to decide the outcome. If there is any protest or complaint of unfairness during the voting process, we could hold a new pooling to vote again. As the Chairman, I do not wish to decide in haste.  I wish to discuss seriously and thoroughly with all the Election Committee Members. I am telling this to make this election process fair and square.

Allow me to defer from making the decision tonight and kindly let me to give decision by casting my vote tomorrow morning at 8-00 A.M.” Once announce that decision only, Union members went back. 

References:

  1. Dr. Myint Swe’s article, “Rangoon University Students Union first Chairman Ko Htun Sein.”
  2. Pathi Ko Ko Lay, “History of Myanmar Muslims.”
  3. Smart Time Journal, volume (1) serial (5), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Burmese Chinese

  Burmese Chinese

The Burmese Chinese or Chinese Burmese are a group of overseas Chinese born or raised in Burma (Myanmar).

Although the Chinese officially make up three percent of the population, this figure may be underestimated because of _

  1. intermarriage between them and the ethnic Bamar,
  2. and because of widespread discrimination against minorities (which compels many to declare themselves as Bamar when applying for birth certificate or national identification card).

The Burmese Chinese_

  1. dominate the Burmese economy,
  2. have a disproportionately high percentage of the educated class.

Generally, the Burmese Chinese in Lower Burma fall into three main groups:

  1. Burmese called eingyi shay, or let shay lit. long-sleeved shirts to Hokkien and Hakkas from Fujian Province
  2.  Burmese called eingyi to, or let to lit. short-sleeved shirts to Cantonese and Hakka   from Guangdong Province
  3. So Burmese sometimes called zaka, lit. mid-length sleeve to all the Hakka  from Fujian and Guangdong provinces.
  4. But Hakkas are further subdivided into those with
  5. ancestry from Fujian Province, called ein-gyi shay ha-ka
  6. and Guangdong Province, eingyi to haka respectively.

The Hokkien and Cantonese comprise 45% of the ethnic Chinese population.

The groups have different stereotypical associations.

  1. The Cantonese are commonly thought of as the poorest of the Chinese,
  2. the Hokkiens are generally wealthier,
  3. occupying high positions in the economy,
  4. and having connections to the government.

In Upper Burma and Shan Hills,

  1. the Panthay
  2. and Kokang, are speakers of a Mandarin dialect of the Southwestern Mandarin branch, most akin to Yunnanese.

Combined, they form 21% of Burmese Chinese.

Kokang are_

  1. mountain-dwellers
  2. and farmers
  3. classified as a part of the Shan national race, although they have no linguistic or genetic affinity to the Tai-Kadai-speaking Shan.

Muslim Panthay_

  1. are considered as separate local nationalities
  2. rather than a Chinese diaspora community.

The Tayoke kabya of mixed Chinese and indigenous Burmese parentage.

  1. The kabya (Burmese: mixed heritage) have a tendency to follow the customs of the Chinese more than of the Burmese.
  2. Indeed those that follow Burmese customs are absorbed into and largely indistinguishable from the mainstream Burmese society.
  3. A large portion of Burmese is thought to have some kabya blood,
  4. because immigrants could acquire Burmese citizenship through intermarriage with the indigenous Burmese peoples.

Culture

Politics

Now, we see the Muslims and Indians participating in the monks led peoples protesting. However, the Chinese seem to be curiously missing – in shape or form – within the context of the current protests.

Are they against the current protests or in support of the protests? Or simply indifferent to any of this since they already have a stronghold over Burma’s economy and anything that takes attention away from them would be positive?

Either way, the bigger question here is not a question of why aren’t the Chinese involved in these protest rather when will the Chinese get involved. The bottom line is why do the minorities, specifically the Chinese and the so called Indians or Muslims, continue to feel disenfranchised?

Language

  1. Most Burmese Chinese typically speak Burmese as their mother tongue.
  2. Those with higher education also speak Mandarin
  3. Those with higher education also speak Mandarin and/or English.
  4. Some modern educated use English.
  5. Some use, Chinese dialects/languages.
    • Hokkien is mostly used in Yangon as well as in Lower Burma,
    • while Taishan Cantonese and
    • Yunnanese Mandarin are well preserved in Upper Burma.

Conditions of Chinese-language schools_

  1. General Ne Win’s (1962-1988) banned on the Chinese-language schools caused a decline of Mandarin speakers.
  2. Chinese schools are growing again nowadays because of the increase in investors and businessmen from Mainland China and Taiwan, who uses Standard Mandarin,

Religion

Most Burmese Chinese practice_

  1. Theravada Buddhism,
  2. incorporating some Mahayana Buddhist
  3. and Taoist beliefs,
    • such as the worship of Kuan Yin.
    • Chinese New Year celebrations,
    • as well as other Chinese festivals, are subdued and held privately.
    • Clan associations are often the only places where the Chinese culture is retained.

The Panthay or Chinese Muslims practice Islam.

Education

The Burmese Chinese_

  1. place a high importance on education,
  2. a disproportionate big share with advanced (medical, engineering or doctorate) degrees. (SOA’s note: it is partly because Muslims are labeled Kala and denied the place for postgraduate educations. The Chinese not only escaped that kind of discrimination but they got the special privileges given by the Chinese blooded political, military and education authorities.)
  3. The number would be higher still had it not been for the longstanding ban on those without Burmese citizenship from pursuing advanced degrees.
  4. Nowadays, many wealthy Burmese Chinese send their children overseas for further studies especially in US, UK, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Names

The Burmese Chinese have_

  1. Burmese names
  2. and many also have Chinese names.

Names in various Chinese dialects are roughly transliterated into the Burmese.

  1. For example, a person named ‘Khin Aung’ may have the Chinese name of 慶豐 (pinyin: Qìngfēng), with ‘慶’ (pinyin: qìng) corresponding to ‘Khin’, and ‘豐’ (pinyin: fēng) corresponding to ‘Aung’.
  2. However, variations of transcription do exist (between dialects),
  3. and some Burmese Chinese do not choose to adopt similar-sounding Burmese and Chinese names.
  4. Because the Burmese lack surnames, many Burmese Chinese tend to pass on portions of their given names to future generations, for the purpose of denoting lineage.

According to publications of Longsei Tang, a clan association based in Yangon, the ten most common Chinese surnames in Yangon are:

  1. Li (李)
  2. Peng (彭)
  3. Shi (時)
  4. Dong (董)
  5. Min (閔)
  6. Niu (牛)
  7. Bian (邊)
  8. Xin (辛)
  9. Guan (關)
  10. Tsui/Hsu(徐)

Cuisine

The Burmese Chinese cuisine is based on Chinese cuisine, particularly from

  1. Fujian,
  2. Guangdong
  3. and Yunnan provinces, with local influences.
  4. Spices such as turmeric and chili are commonly used.
    • Pauk si
    • Bhè kin
    • Igyakway
    • Htamin kyaw
    • La mont
    • Mewswan
    • San-byoat
    • Panthay khaukswè
    • Sigyet khaukswè

History

  1. The earliest records of Chinese migration were in the Song and Ming dynasties.
  2. In the 1700s, Ming Dynasty princes settled in Kokang (the northern part of Burma).
  3. Chinese traders, however, traveled up to the capital city, northern towns on the Irrawaddy such as Bhamo.
  4. There was a Chinese community at Amarapura.
  5. Another wave of immigration occurred in the 1800s under the British rule.
  6. They came to Burma via Malaysia.
  7. When the Chinese Communists expelled the Kuomintang, many fled to Burma and Thailand over the borders of Yunnan Province.
  8. The Burmese government fought and removed the armed KMT and forced them to Taiwan; those who managed to stay prospered.
  9. The Chinese dominate the highly lucrative rice and gem industries.
  10. Many became merchants and traders owning both wholesale and retail businesses.
  11. The northern region of Burma has seen an influx of mainland Chinese immigrant workers, black market traders and gamblers.
  12. In the Kachin State, which borders China in three directions, Mandarin Chinese is the lingua franca.

 They integrated well into Burmese society because they, like the Bamar,

  1. were of Sino-Tibetan stock
  2. and were Buddhists,

Their success_

  1. is reflected in the Burmese saying, “Earn like the Chinese, save like the Indian, and don’t waste money like the Bamar”.
  2. They got the nickname pauk hpaw (lit. sibling).
  3. During the 1950s, Burma was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China as a nation.

However, its own Chinese population was treated as aliens.

  1. The Burmese Chinese were issued foreign registration cards (FRC), which declared that they were citizens of China.
  2. A similar discrimination policy was set up for Indians.

In 1962, Ne Win led a coup d’état and declared himself head of state. Although a kabya himself, he banned Chinese-language education, and created other measures to compel the Chinese to leave.

  1. Ne Win’s government stoked up racial animosity and ethnic conflicts against the Chinese, who were terrorized by Burmese citizens, the most violent riots taking place at the time of the Cultural Revolution in China.
  2. When Ne Win implemented the “Burmese Way to Socialism”, a plan to nationalize all industries, the livelihoods of many entrepreneurial Chinese were destroyed and some 100,000 Chinese left the country.
  3. All schools were nationalized, including Chinese-language schools.

 Beginning in 1967 and continuing throughout the 1970s, anti-Chinese riots continued to flare up and many believed they were covertly supported by the government.

  1. Many Burmese Chinese left the country during Ne Win’s rule, largely because of a failing economy and widespread discrimination.
  2. The first government-sponsored racial riots to take place in Burma was in 1967, during General Ne Win’s rule. In the riots, the general populace went on a killing spree because of sedition and instigation against the Chinese by various government departments.
  3. The massacre lasted for about five consecutive days, during which thousands of Chinese died or were left dying in the streets of Rangoon. Some of the Chinese were thrown alive from the second and third floors of buildings in downtown Rangoon. The dead and wounded Chinese were hauled up unceremoniously and dumped onto army trucks and taken to ‘htauk kyan’ incinerators and the ‘carcasses’ were sent up in smoke.
  4. That showed the true bestial and cruel side of the character of the ruling Burma Military Junta. The only “crime” the Chinese committed was the wearing of Chairman Mao’s badges on their shirts.
  5. Latha Secondary School was torched by the henchmen of General Ne Win’s government, where school girls were burnt alive.
  6. Chinese shops were looted and set on fire.
  7. Public attention was successfully diverted by Ne Win from the uncontrollable inflation, scarcity of consumer items and rising prices of rice.

Today, the majority of Burmese Chinese live in the major cities of_

  1. Yangon,
  2. Mandalay,
  3. Taunggyi,
  4. Bago, and their surrounding areas.
  5. According to Global Witness, 30 to 40% of Mandalay’s population consists of ethnic Chinese.
  6. Although there are Chinatowns (tayoke tan) in the major cities, the Chinese are widely dispersed.

Notable Burmese Chinese

  1. Aung Gyi leading army dissident and Ne Win’s former deputy/co-conspirator in the 1962 coup
  2. Aw Boon Haw (Hakka) – Inventor of Tiger Balm
  3. Aw Boon Par (Hakka) – Brother of Aw Boon Haw
  4. Eike Htun (Kokang) – Managing director of Olympic Construction Co. and deputy chairman of Asia Wealth Bank, two large conglomerates in Burma
  5. Khun Sa (Kokang) – Major Southeast Asian druglord
  6. Khin Nyunt – Former Prime Minister (2003-2004) and Chief of Intelligence (1983-2004) of Myanmar
  7. Lo Hsing Han (Kokang) – Major Southeast Asian druglord
  8. Steven Law (also known as Tun Myint Naing; Kokang) – Managing director of Asia World Company, a major Burmese conglomerate and son of Lo Hsing Han
  9. Ne Win (Hakka) – Leader of Burma from 1960s to 1980s
  10. San Yu (Hakka) – President of Burma in the 1980s
  11. Serge Pun – Proprietor of Yoma Bank, a major banking chain in Myanmar and chairman of First Myanmar Investment Co. Ltd (FMI), one of Myanmar’s leading investment companies
  12. Taw Sein Ko (Hokkien) – eminent Director of Archaeology (1901-1915)
  13. Thakin Ba Thein Tin – Communist leader from the 1970s to the 1990s
  14. Maung Aye – Vice chairman of SPDC and Chief of Staff of Armed Forces
  15. Major General Kat Sein – former Minister of Health
  16. Dr. Kyaw Myint – Present Minister of Health
  17. Myo Thant – Former Minister of Information under SLORC
  18. Colonel Tan Yu Sai – Minister of Trade under Ne Win’s government
  19. Colonel Kyi Maung– NLD member (1989-2004) and Army Commander of Rangoon in 1960s
  20. U Thaung – Minister of Labour & Technical Science, Retired Legion and Ambassador
  21. Lun Thi – Minister of Energy
  22. Thein Sein – First Secretary of SPDC
  23. Kyaw Ba – General Formal Minister of Hotel and Tourism

Reference

Wikipedia

The Golden days of the Great Shan Empire VI

 The Golden days of the

Great Shan Empire VI

Country Profile 

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Size:
Lies between 19 and 24 degrees latitude North, and Stretches from 96 to 101 degrees longitude East, covering approximately 64,000 square miles; shares boundaries with Burma, China, Laos, Thailand and the Karenni.

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Topography and Drainage:

Bisected north to south by the Salween River, one of the longest rivers in Asia. It lies at an average of 2,000 feet above sea-level, and the highest point, Mount Loilaeng, is 8,777 feet. It is composed of broad valleys, thickly wooded mountain ranges and rolling hills forming scenic landscapes.

Jong-ang, the biggest waterfall (972 feet) can be found near the town of Kengtong in Mongnai State.

Climate

There are three seasons:

  1. Monsoon (May to October),
  2. Cold season(November to January)
  3. and Summer (February to April).

Annual rainfalls average between 40-60 inches.

The overall temperature is equable throughout the year: not too cold and not too hot.

Vegetation

Pine and evergreen forests can be found in abundance. Teak and various kinds of hardwood cover over 47,210 square miles.

Minerals
The bulk of the so-called Burmese natural resources are in the Shan State: silver, lead, gold, copper, iron, tin, wolfram, tungsten, manganese, nickel, coal, mica, antimony, fluorite, marble, gemstones and even uranium.

Major Operating Mines are:

  • the Mogok (Mognkut in Shan) and Mongsu ruby mines,
  • and the Namtu Bawdwin silver mines discovered by the Chinese traders and renovated in 1904 by none other than Herbert Clerk Hoover (1874-1964) who became the 31st President of the United State.
  • A study of the Indian geological reports made by Drs Cogging and Sondhi in 1993 reveals Northern Shan States as incredible mining potential…
  • As for Southern Shan’s remarkable resources, they can be studied from the reports made by a G.V. Hovson (Shanland’s Grievances, by Htoon Myint of Taunggyi, )

People :

The population of these multi-racial people, described by ancient travelers as the most peace loving people who trust everybody and envy nobody is estimated at 7-10 million, the majority of whom are Tai, of the same ethnological stock as Thai and Laos, plus several other racial groups including Pa-o, Palaung and Wa of Mon-Khmer stock; and Kachin, Akha and Lahu of the Tibeto-Burman stock.

All in all, it’s various indigenous races have lived harmoniously together for centuries. This fact is supported by the political analyst Josef Silverstein, who say’s:

“Although the Shans dominated the people in the area both politically and numerically, they never assimilated the minorities; as a result, cultural pluralism existed through out the Shan States”. (Politics in the Shan State, The Question of Secession from the Union of Burma, 1958, by J. Silverstein).

The Shan’s stand on the racial question is best described by Sao Shwe Thaike, who in his capacity as the Speaker of the Constituent Assembly,

countered the objection that Muslims could not be considered as being indigenous by saying :

“Muslims of the Arakan certainly belong to one of the indigenous races of Burma. If they do not belong to the indigenous races, we also cannot be taken as indigenous races.”

Culture:

Shan is still the first language of the majority, though due to 60 years under the British Protectorate and 40 years under Burmese neo-colonialism, usage of English and Burmese has become fairly common.

As for attire, Shan men, unlike the Burmese, who wear longyis or long skirts, don long baggy trousers. Theravada Buddhism is the pre-eminent faith, and perhaps due to this tolerant religion, Hinduism, Christianity, Islamism and even animisms flourish in this land.

Agriculture:

Primarily a self-sufficient agricultural economy, being blessed with fertile soil, it produces rice, tea, cheroot leaves, tobacco, potatoes, oranges, lemon, pears, and opium.

Cattle-and horse-breeding is also a common sight in low grasslands. Added to the fact that it is rich in mineral resources and abundant in teak timber, there is no reason why the Shan State could not become one of the richest and most economically dynamic countries in Southeast Asia, given a favorable political climate. 

Shan States is a beautiful and fertile land, with green hills and mist-covered mountains. 

Shans are on the whole, good natured gentle, independent people.

Shan States have a diverse mix of ethnic groups; Tai Yai, Tai Khurn, Tai Lui or Tai Neir, Tai Keiy, Pa-O or Daung Su, Daung Yoe, Palaung, Kachin, Dai Nawng or in Burmese Intha, Danu, Lisu, Lahu, Wa, Kaw, Padaung, as well as Chinese, Indians, Burmans and others. 

The Shans are the most widely scattered of the ethnic people in Myanmar and they can be found in every part of the country.

Their Mans (villages), Mongs (city-states) and settlements stretch from the northernmost region of Hkamti Long down to Tharrawaddy and then to southern Taninthayi (Tenasserim) and from the tip of Kengtung in the east to Hsawng Hsup, Kabaw valley and Ta-mu in the west.

In central Myanmar many Shan settlements can be found around Ava, Pinya, Sagaing, Toungoo, Pyinmana and Pyi (Prome). 

Now-a-days, Shan people are spread around the world, many having left Burma to escape the persecution and brutality of the SPDC, many to study overseas. 

Shans live overseas in Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Europe, Taiwan, China, Japan and elsewhere.  Many overseas groups are actively campaigning for freedom in Shan States and Burma. 

Until recently many groups worked almost independently.  In recent years the more widespread use of e-mail and internet technology means that overseas Shan groups can communicate more easily with one another, sharing ideas, discussing campaigns and global change.

Shans feel immensely sad that their beautiful homeland has been ravaged and abused by SPDC, and because they have deep love for their motherland, they feel deeply bereft and betrayed.

sao.jpg

Two Soa Hso Kham Pha is the eldest son of the late Last year Soa Hso Kham Pha, also known as Tiger Yawnghwe, founded the Interim Shan Government with the cooperation of a group of Shan elders. Recently the ISG has established a freedom fighting force called Shan State Army (Central) with thousands of troops to fight against the neo-fascist military regime in Burma.  

List of Shan state rulers

 Read more in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.The Shan State of Burma (Myanmar) was once made up of a large number of traditional monarchies or fiefdoms. Three ranks of chiefs where recognized by the Burmese king and later by the British administration. These ranks were Saopha or Chaofa (Shan for king or chieftain) or Sawbwa in Burmese, Myosa (”duke” or chief of town), and Ngwegunhmu (silver revenue chief).

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Contents

1 Shan states

  1. 1.1 Hierarchy and Precedence

  2. 1.2 Baw (Maw)

  3. 1.3 Hopong (Hopon)

  4. 1.4 Hsahtung (Thaton)

  5. 1.5 Hsamönghkam (Thamaingkan)

  6. 1.6 Hsawnghsup (Thaungdut)

  7. 1.7 Hsenwi (Theinni)

    1. 1.7.1 North Hsenwi

    2. 1.7.2 South Hsenwi

  8. 1.8 Hsihkip (Thigyit)

  9. 1.9 Hsipaw (Thibaw)

  10. 1.10 Kehsi Mangam (Kyithi Bansan)

  11. 1.11 Kengcheng (Kyaingchaing)

  12. 1.12 Kenghkam (Kyaingkan)

  13. 1.13 Kenglön (Kyainglon)

  14. 1.14 Kengtung (Kyaingtong)

  15. 1.15 Kokang

  16. 1.16 Kyon

  17. 1.17 Kyawkku Hsiwan (Kyaukku)

  18. 1.18 Laihka (Lègya)

  19. 1.19 Lawksawk (Yatsauk)

  20. 1.20 Loi-ai (Lwe-e)

  21. 1.21 Loilong (Lwelong)

  22. 1.22 Loimaw (Lwemaw)

  23. 1.23 Mawkmai

  24. 1.24 Manglon

  25. 1.25 Monghsu

  26. 1.26 Mawkmai (Maukme)

  27. 1.27 Mawnang (Bawnin)

  28. 1.28 Mawsön (Bawzaing)

  29. 1.29 Möngkawng (Mogaung)

  30. 1.30 Mongkung

  31. 1.31 Möngleng (Mohlaing)

  32. 1.32 Mönglong

  33. 1.33 Möngmit (Momeik)

  34. 1.34 Mong Nai (Monè)

  35. 1.35 Mongnawng

  36. 1.36 Mong Pai (Mobye)

  37. 1.37 Mong Pan

  38. 1.38 Mong Pawng (Maing Pun)

  39. 1.39 Möngping (Maingpyin)

  40. 1.40 Möngsit (Maingseik)

  41. 1.41 Möngtung (Maington)

  42. 1.42 Möngyang (Mohnyin)

  43. 1.43 Möngyawng

  44. 1.44 Namhkai (Nanke)

  45. 1.45 Namhkok (Nankok)

  46. 1.46 Namhkom (Nankon)

  47. 1.47 Namtok (Nantok)

  48. 1.48 Namkhok-Nawngwawn

  49. 1.49 Panglawng

  50. 1.50 Pangmi

  51. 1.51 Pangtara (Pindara)

  52. 1.52 Pwehla (Poila)

  53. 1.53 Sakoi

  54. 1.54 Samka

  55. 1.55 Tawngpeng

  56. 1.56 Wanmaw (Bhamo)

  57. 1.57 Wanyin (Banyin)

  58. 1.58 Yawnghwe (Nyaungshwe)

  59. 1.59 Ywangan (Yengan)

  60. 1.60 Bibliography

Shan states

State Area (sq. mi) Classical Name Notes
Sawbwas
Kengtung 12,400 Khemarata Tungaburi
Hsipaw 4,524 Dutawadi
Mongnai 2,717 Saturambha/Nandapwa
Yawnghwe 1,392 Kambawsarata
Tawngpeng 800 Pappatasara
South Hsenwi 2,400 Siwirata or Kawsampi Also known as Mongyai
North Hsenwi 6,330 Siwirata or Kawsampi
Mongmit 3,733 Gandhalarata
Mongpai 730
Lawksawk 2,362 Hansawadi?
Laikha 1,560 Hansawadi
Mawkmai 2,557 Lawkawadi
Mongpan 2,988 Dhannawadi
Mongpawn 366 Rajjawadi
Manglun Jambularata
Kantarawadi 3,015
Samka 314
Mongkung 1,593 Lankawadi
Myosas
Nawngwawn 28 Pokkharawadi Amalgamated with Mong Pawn, 1931
Mongnawng 1,646 Nandawadi
Mongsit
Kehsi-bansam 551
Mawnang Amalgamated with Hsamongkham, 1934
Loilong (Pinlaung) 1,098
Hsahtung 471
Wanyin 219
Hopong 212
Namkhok 108 Amalgamated with Mong Pawn, 1931
Sakoi 82
Mongshu 470 Hansawadi
Kenglun 54 Amalgamated with Kehsh Bansam, 1926
Bawlake 565
Kyetbogyi 700
Hsamongkham 449
Baw 741
Pwela 178
Ngwegunhmus
Yengan (Ywangan) 359
Pangtara (Pindaya) 86
Pangmi 30
Loi-ai 156 Amalgamated with Hsamongkham, 1930
Kyaukku 76 Amalgamated with Pwela, 1928
Loimaw 48 Amalgamated with Yawnghwe, 1928
Kyone 24
Namtok 14 Amalgamated with Loilong, 1931

    Chinese provinces with the name Shan

  1. Shan is another name of the Dai, an ethnic group in China.

  2. Shan, an abbreviation for the Shaanxi province of the People’s Republic of China

  3. Shan, or Shan county, also refers a county in Shandong province of PRC

  4. Shan, or Shantou (汕头), a city in Guangdong province of PRC

  5. Shan, name for a region in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

  6. Shan, also refers to the name of ancient Western Regions (西域)

Shan also means hill, peak, or mountain in Chinese languages and Japanese There is also Chinese surname, Shan (surname), is a in Chinese.There is also river name with Shan , in Zhejiang Province of PRC

sss.png

Photos of the His Royal Highness Tzao Hso Khan Pha, President and Head of States, Interim Shan Government of the Federated Shan States.The remaining  are Shan Freedom Fighters’ photos, Six photos are copyright of Chris Sinclair mailto:csinclair@pobox.com.Four…….. Four other photos are courtesy of TSY taisamyone@yahoo.co.uk. All are taken from Burma Digest.

The Golden days of the Great Shan Empire IV

The Golden days of the

Great Shan Empire IV

The date 7th February 1947 is a defining moment in the record of the Shan history as a modern nation.

On that day, Shan princes and the people’s representatives of the Shan States demonstrated their newfound unity to declare it a “national day” which were followed by the resolutions of “Shan National Anthem”, “Shan National Flag” and the formation of “Shan State Council” on the 11th and 15th of February, 1947 respectively.

The people of Shan States and leaders decided in this very year later at Panglong, on the 12th of February, to join with U Aung San and the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League) and leaders of other nationalities, to live together under one flag as co-independent and equal nations. This marks the birth of a nation-state now known as “Union of Burma”.

National flag

  1. The design of the national flag is as sanctioned at the Panglong Treaty conference in 1947.
  2. The size of the flag is ( 5ft. x 3ft)
  3. Diameter of the Moon is (1. ½ ft)
  4. The breath of the three colors: yellow, green and reddish (1 ft) each.

Example

 

shanstateflag.png

The meaning of the color:

  1. yellow is religion
  2. green is forest, and rich in natural resources and peace
  3. red is  bravery,
  4. white is purity

Saopha-loong, Soa Shwe Thaike was the first President of the Independent Burma. When Burma fell under military dictatorship, Soa Shwe Thaike was put into jail by the military regime, and later died in jail under suspicious circumstances.

Failed Cohabitation

  • The experiment to living together in harmony within the Union of Burma has been a disaster.
  • In 1962, the General Ne Win led Burmese military sized state power in a coup and declared the Union Constitution abolished.
  • In so doing, the Burmese terminated the only existing legal bond between them and the other ethnic nationalities.
  • So much time has gone by since February 7 1947…
  • A lot of changes have occurred, and many of them have been very painful and unfair. 
  • The leaders of Burma from Prime Minister U Nu in 1948, to General Ne Win in 1962, to General Than Shwe (now), have missed the opportunity_ 
    •  
      • to build a peaceful and prosperous nation based on
      • mutual respect,
      • understanding
      • and cooperation.
  • The problem that exist is not ethic “minority” rights versus the “majority” Burmese rights but rather of equality of rights for all.
  • The 1948 Union of Burma was understood by us to be a federal  union of equals.
  • And though the intent of the 1948 Constitution was federal, in rushing it through the Constituent Assembly by the AFPFL [Fa-sa-pa-la], the federal Union  in practice became unitary. 
  • We during 1958-62 tried to institute constitutional reforms in the Union Parliament towards a more equitable federal system as envisaged by the 1947 Panglong Agreement.
  • Ne Win staged his military coup and he and his successor Burmese military troops in Shan country raped, murdered & tortured to oppress, suppress and intimidate.
  • “Since then, Shan State has been treated as a de facto colony and occupied territory by the Burmese army.
  • Its forced assimilation and Burmanization policies to subdue our national identity have devastated the Shan homeland and make the people homeless and refugees.

Looking at the contemporary situation, one could only term the Shan nation as a downtrodden and battered one, reeling under the occupation of the oppressive Burmese military regime.

Gross human rights violations, genocide and cultural genocide, population transfer designed to make the Shan a minority in their homestead, and robbing them of their birthright sovereignty and self-determination are glaring injustice, which push the Shan into the category of sub-human or slaves, especially in the eyes of their occupiers.    

But even under such circumstances and after more than four decades of brutal suppression and occupation, the Shan sense of “national identity” and the aspiration to be the master of their own faith have not diminish but have grown stronger.

  • The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy’s (SNLD) victory in 1990 nation-wide election in the whole Shan State;
  • the continued political activities of the Shan State Army North within the limited political space provided by the Burmese military junta;
  • the active armed resistance of the Shan State Army South,
  • together with the bulk of Shan State National Army;
  • and the highly self-conscious Shan civil societies in keeping the national identity alive under intense pressure of the Burmese military junta; are indications of a nation, which refuses to be cowed.
  • the mainstream Shan organizations are endorsing the notion to rebuild a new Federal Union – together with all the other ethnic nationalities, Burman included

Practically, the Shan are faced with a dilemma to choose between secession and genuine federalism. But it is also important to note that the Federal Proposal of 1961, before the military coup,

  • is the brainchild of the Shan leadership at that time,
  • which was aimed at changing the Burman dominated unitary system into a genuine federal structure
  • with equal status for all ethnic nationalities.
  • All non-Burman ethnic groups endorse this as a balanced and acceptable solution until today.
  • Meanwhile, this proposed arrangement also find acceptance among most of the Burman opposition camps as a way to resolve the conflict as a whole.

This is perhaps lowering the aspiration to a certain degree but nevertheless, a pragmatic approach and in line with the international mood. But this is not to say that the global trend will stay forever in favor of status quo. The people concerned would eventually adjust their needs and value system, according to the prevailing international norm and structure of the time.    

Finally, if the Shan wants to be heard and advance their aspirations, they would need to seriously think globally and act locally.

  • It would need to sell the idea
  • that it is part and parcel of a viable force,
  • in collaboration with all non-Burman ethnic nationalities
  • and Burman opposition groups,
  • to replace the illegitimate military junta.
  • To do this, “broad coalition-building” among all the opposition is essential,
  • even those within the rank of the enemies, who are ready to reform, embrace justice, equality and democracy should not be neglected.
  • The Shan cannot win this fight alone
  • and it is crucial that the “multi-pronged” approach is employed,
  • coupled with the motto of “diverse actions, common goal”, as urged time and again by the late Chao Tzang Yawnghwe.

If we can bring about change now, in twenty years, Burma can still be a peaceful and prosperous country.

“Yugoslavia did break up into its components parts. The Shan States are larger both in population then Cambodia for instance and larger in area than some 24 States of the US and 20 or so Nation-States in Europe.

“I support all ethnic groups’ rights to have their own federal states, probably in US style or Canadian style. I understand that Quebac Province in Canada is an autonomic federal state. Shan state can be like that.

I never believe that “total separation of Union of Burma/Myanmar into a large number of totally separated & independent but very small tiny little countries” might be a wise decision.”

(From the Dialogue with a Shan Leader“_ Interview with Tiger Yawnghwe )

To understand the History of Shans, we need to review or revised the brief history of Burma (Pagan) 1044.

The brief history of Burma (Pagan) 1044

Anawrattha (d. 1077) seized royal power at Pagan and made it the political, religious, and cultural center of Burma; the Burmese written language was developed and Buddhist scriptures translated;

  • architectural monuments followed the inspiration of Ceylon and southern India.
  • In 1057, conquest of Thaton, Mon kingdom, which was in maritime contact with Ceylon and the Indian subcontinent and was a center for Buddhism as well as overseas trade.
  • Mon had a strong cultural influence at Pagan.
  • In 1060s-1070s, Anawrata initiated communication and exchanges with Vijayabahu I, Ceylon’s ruler (1055-1110), including the sharing of Pali Buddhist texts and monks.  

Rule of Kyanzittha, (1084-1112 )best known for his _

  • synthesis of various cultural developments
  • and the process of assimilation of different ethnic groups that took place during his reign.
  • He created a distinctive Burman style.  
  • In 1106, a Burmese embassy at the Sung capital in China was received as from a fully sovereign state.    

Pagan disintegrated into smaller states in ( 1287 )_

  • Following the rejection of Mongol demands for tribute in 1271
  • and later, Burmese raids into Yünnan,
  • and the death of Narathihapate (who ruled 1254-87),
  • Mongol forces looted Pagan and destroyed its power.
  • The invasion of Shan tribes, forced southward by the Mongols, led to the division of Burma into a number of petty states.

The chief states among them being_

  • Toungoo (established 1280),
  • Pegu in southern Burma,
  • and Ava in the middle and lower Irrawaddy Valley (established as capital 1365).

After the collapse of Pagan authority, Burma was divided.

Sagaing had been established as a capital, but later Sagaing fell to the Shan, the court moved across the river to Ava.

  1. Burmese Ava Dynasty (1364-527) was eventually established at the city of Ava by 1364.
  2. The kings of Ava set about restoring Burmese supremacy, which had disintegrated after the collapse of Pagan to the Mongol invasion under Kublai Khan that ended the First Burmese Empire founded by King Anawrattha in 1057.
  3. The kingdom lacked easily defendable borders, however, and was overrun by the Shan in 1527.
  4. There were repeated Shan/Tai raids on the capital of Ava and Ava sent military northwards to attack Tai fiefdoms such as Mong Mao.
  5. The Kingdom of Ava was involved in continuous warfare with Tai (Shan) princelings to the north on the frontier with Yunnan.
  6. The Ming dynasty that ruled China from the late fourteenth century often tried unsuccessfully to put an end to this warfare through traditional Chinese diplomacy.
  7. Ava occasionally became involved in the warfare between the Ming and Tai in Yunnan such as in the Luchuan-Pingmian Campaigns (1436-49).

Toungoo Dynasty  

King Mingyinyo founded the First Toungoo Dynasty (1486-1599) at Toungoo, south of Ava, towards the end of the Ava dynasty.

  1. After the conquest of Ava by the Shan invaders in 1527 many Burmans migrated to Toungoo which became a new center for Burmese rule.
  2. The dynasty conquered the Mohnyin Shan peoples in northern Burma.By this time, the geopolitical situation in Southeast Asia had changed dramatically.
  3. Mingyinyo’s son king Tabinshwehti (1531-50) unified most of Burma.
  4. The Shan gained power in a new kingdom in the North, Ayutthaya (Siam), while the Portuguese had arrived in the south and conquered Malacca.
  5. With the coming of European traders, Burma was once again an important trading centre, and Tabinshwehti moved his capital to Pegu due to its strategic position for commerce. Tabinshwehti was able to gain control of Lower Burma up to Prome,
  6. but the campaigns he led to the Arakan, Ayutthaya, and Ava in Upper Burma were unsuccessful.
  7. When Tabinshwehti’s brother-in-law, Bayinnaung (1551-81), Tabinshwehti’s brother-in-law, succeeded to the throne he launched a campaign of conquest invading several states, including Manipur (1560) and Ayutthaya (1569).
  8. An energetic leader and effective military commander, he made Toungoo the most powerful state in Southeast Asia,
  9. and extended his borders from Laos to Ayutthaya, near Bangkok.
  10. His wars stretched Myanmar to the limits of its resources, however, and both Manipur and Ayutthaya, which had remained under Myanmar domination for 15 years, were soon independent once again.
  11. Bayinnaung was poised to deliver a final, decisive assault on the kingdom of Arakan when he died in 1581.

 The Toungoo rulers withdrew from southern Burma and founded a second dynasty at Ava as the Restored Toungoo Dynasty (1597-1752), because_

  • they Faced with rebellion by several cities
  • and renewed Portuguese incursions

Bayinnaung’s grandson, Anaukpetlun, once again reunited Burma in 1613 and decisively defeated Portuguese attempts to take over Burma.

Encouraged by the French in India, Pegu finally rebelled against Ava, further weakening the state, which fell in 1752.

To further understand the History of Shans, we need to also review or know at least the brief history of   Thailand.

Siam (Thailand)

Early in the 11th century, Dvaravati (See Mainland Southeast Asia) was annexed to Cambodia; Haripunjaya retained its independence.

  • In the 13th century, Haripunjaya was overrun by a migration of Tai, or Shan, peoples from the north.  
  • In the year 1281, Tai leader Mangrai (1239-1317) conquered the kingdom of Haripunjaya at Lamphun. For two decades he fought Mongols who were threatening Tais from the north.
  • He is known as the founder of the kingdom of Lan Na, centered at Chiengmai, with cultural contributions influenced by Buddhist thought.  
  • In the year 1279-98, Ramkamhaeng ruled over the kingdom of Sukothai,
  • which he extended from Vientiane in the east to Pegu in the west.
  • Most important contributions were in areas of literature, sculpture, and religion; these developments strongly influenced Tai (+ Myanmar) cultural attainments as well.  
  • In the year 1350, migration of Tai, or Shan, accelerated by the Mongol conquest of the Tai state of Nan-chao (in modern Yünnan and southern Szechwan) in 1253,
  • led eventually to the suppression of the Khmer kingdoms

and the setting up of the Tai kingdom of Siam, with its capital at Ayuthia, founded by Rama Tiboti.

The early Siamese state was from the first under the influence of both Hinayana Buddhism and Chinese political institutions. The location of the Siamese state at a center of maritime commerce gave it a distinct advantage in its power struggle with Angkor. The ability to_

  • adopt the Angkorian-style administrative skills of the Mons and Khmers,
  • the martial skills of the Tais,
  • and the wealth and commercial skills of the local Chinese merchant communities was its legacy to the Tais’ cultural development.

Toward the end of the 13th century, a form of writing had been invented for the Siamese language.  

Siamese invasion of Cambodia in 1350-1460  finally led to the abandonment of Angkor (1431) and collapse of the Khmer Empire.  

In the year 1371, Siamese embassy at Nanking inaugurated tributary relations with the newly founded Ming dynasty.    

Intermittent friction between Siam and the Tai state of Chiengmai in the northern Menam Valley in 1376-1557 _

  • ended with the destruction of Chiengmai by the Burmese.  
  • During the 14th and 15th centuries, strong Siamese influence was exerted over the disunited states of Burma
  • and the northern part of the Malay Peninsula.

 Siam (Ayutthaya) (Because of this first capital of Thai, Ayuttha, we Burmese called Thais as Yow Da Yar)

Administrative centralization of Siam attributed to efforts of King Trailokanat (r. 1448-88); but most of institutionalized form of government probably resulted from reign of King Naresuen the Great (r. 1590-1605).

  • Under this king, Siam regained its independence from Burma
  • and emerged as most powerful kingdom in mainland Southeast Asia.  
  • Development of overseas trade can be dated as early as 1368. By the early modern period, Siam was a major source for sappanwood and pepper in the Chinese trading network.  
  • Siamese adopted Hinduism along with Theravada Buddhism.
  • Hindu concept of divine kingship,
  • and accompanying rituals, provided important sources of legitimation.

But in Siamese society, the claim to divinity operated without the internal checks characteristic of India, for Brahmans had little influence at the court. This may explain the pronounced aspect of absolutism in Siam.

  • Yet Buddhism was dominant in the cultural system that emerged in the early modern period, particularly in providing signs of legitimation (and delegitimation in the face of popular unrest) for rulers.
  • Royal interaction with sangha (groups of monks) provided especially important occasions for public statements of rulers’ support of Buddhist precepts; nevertheless, Thai rulers closely controlled the sangha through cultural patronage (their support ranged from sponsorship of architecture and sculpture to public processions).  

In 1569, first fall of Ayutthaya to invading Burmese army although_ 

  • In 1538, as a measure of impact of military technology, King Phrachai (r. 1534-46) retained 120 Portuguese to instruct Siamese soldiers in musketry.  
  • In 1550, new fortification style was introduced around the Siamese capital.
  • King Maha Thammarcha (r. 1569-90) also purchased large supplies of foreign cannon.

In 1590, King Naresuen the Great regained independence and utilized political, economic, and military forces to transform fragmented kingdom into relatively centralized state.  

  • Portuguese trading stations were established in the 16th century.
  • Around the beginning of the 17th century large numbers of Japanese were active in Siam in war and trade.
  • In 1602 a Dutch trading post was established at Patani,
  • where the English soon followed, until their withdrawal from Siam in 1623.
  • R. 1656-88 King Narai most energetic in pursuit of trade with foreigners.
  • His curiosity about Persian and French cultures made his court known for its openness.  
  • 1664 By a commercial treaty, the Dutch gained a monopoly of Siamese foreign trade,
  • which was, however, thwarted by French intrigue; a French embassy and military expedition (1685) in turn failed to secure the acceptance of Christianity and French influence and led to 
  • In 1688 a popular revolt that began a period of prolonged civil war. Prompted in part by reaction against Narai’s openness, it became anti-European. European trade languished,
  • But Chinese and Muslim trade continued at a high level to take up the slack.  
  • In 1690s, a dramatic decline in trade with Muslims and Europeans could be measured, although the Chinese trade helped to fill the gap. 

In 1767, Burmese invasion destroyed Ayuthia

  • and compelled temporary acceptance of Burmese rule until 1782,
  • when Rama I founded a new Siamese dynasty, with its capital at Bangkok.
  • Even in period of political anarchy, great cultural activity emerged.
  • Rama issued royal decrees aimed at controlling the sangha and addressing the need to harness the manpower represented by idle monks.

Now the time is ripe to look at the Contemporary Shan State.

Contemporary Shan State

 From the Wikipedia enclyclopedia_

Shan State is a state located in Myanmar (Burma), which takes its name from the Shan people, the majority ethnic group in the Shan State. Shan State comprises 69 townships, including 24 newly-created townships in Special Region 2 (Wa Area). Its capital is Taunggyi. The state is largely rural. Major cities of Shan State are Lashio, Kengtong and Taunggyi.

Contents

  1. Sub states, districts and townships
  2. Geography
  3. Education
  4. Economy
  5. Population History References

Continue to read about the Shan State in the Wikipedia enclyclopedia.

Contemporary Shan Nationals 

From the Wikipedia enclyclopedia_ 

The Shan (Burmese: ; IPA: [ʃán lùmjóʊ]; Chinese: 掸族; pinyin: dǎn zú) are a Tai ethnic group of Southeast Asia. The Shan live primarily in the Shan State of Burma (Myanmar), but also inhabit parts of Mandalay Division, Kachin State, and Kayin State, and in adjacent regions of China, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Shan are estimated to number ~6 million; a reliable census has not been taken since 1935. The capital of Shan State is Taunggyi, a small city of about 150,000 people. Other major cities include Thibaw (Hsipaw), Lashio, Kengtong and Tachileik.

The valleys and tableland are inhabited by the Shans, who in language and customs resemble the Thais, Dai, and the Lao. They are largely Buddhists and are mainly engaged in agriculture. Among the Shans live the Bamar, Chinese, and Karens. The hills are inhabited by various peoples, notably the Wa, who are numerous in the north and along the Chinese border.The Palaung People are numerous in the Northern Shan State, in Namkham, Muse, Nampaka, Kut Kai, and Lashio Townships along the Burma China Border and also in the middle of Shan State, in Namsarn, Kyat Mae and Thipal Townships. The population of the Palaung people is over 1 million. Some of the Palaung people in Kalaw and Aung Pan in the Southern Shan State. There is a dwindling population of Anglo-Burmese in major hill stations, such as Kalaw and in Taunggyi, a hold-over from the colonial period.

Contents

  1. Etymology  
  2. Culture
  3. Language
  4.  History List of Shan States and rulers
  5. Politics Independence and exiled government

Etymology

The Shan identify themselves as “Tai”, which means “free men” while “Shan” is a Burmese language term.[1] The Shan share their creation myth with the Lao people and believe their race was founded by Khun Borom the first king to establish Sip Song Pan Na (12 thousand Fields) along the Mekong (Mae Nam Kong).

The Shan people as a whole can be divided into four major groups:

  1. The Tai Yai or “Shan Proper”
  2. The Tai Lue, located in Sipsong Panna (China) and the eastern states
  3. The Tai Khuen, the majority of Keng Tung (Thai:เชียงตุง)
  4. The Tai Neua, mostly in Sipsong Panna(Thai:สิบสองปันนา or สิบสองพันนา).

Culture

The Shan are traditionally wet-rice cultivators, shopkeepers, and artisans. Most Shan are Theravada Buddhists and/or observe their traditional religion, which is related to animist practices.

Language

The Shan language, which is spoken by about 5 or 6 millions is closely related to Thai and Lao, and is part of the family of Tai-Kadai languages. It is spoken in Shan State, some parts of Kachin State, some parts of Sagaing Division in Burma, parts of Yunnan, and Mae Hong Son Province in northwestern Thailand.[2] The two major dialects differ in number of tones: Hsenwi Shan has six tones, while Mongnai Shan has five.[3] Its written script is an adaptation of the Mon script (like Burmese), although several other scripts exist.[3] However, few Shan are literate, and many are bilingual in Burmese.

History

The Tai-Shan people are believed to have migrated from Yunnan in China. The Shan are descendants of the oldest branch of the Tai-Shan, known as Tai Long (Great Tai) or Thai Yai (Big Thai). The Tai-Shan who migrated to the south and now inhabit modern-day Laos and Thailand are known as Tai Noi (or Tai Nyai), while those in parts of northern Thailand and Laos are commonly known as Tai Noi (Little Tai – Lao spoken) [1] The Shan have inhabited the Shan Plateau and other parts of modern-day Myanmar as far back as the 10th century AD. The Shan kingdom of Mong Mao (Muang Mao) existed as early as the 10th century AD but became a Burmese vassal state during the reign of King Anawrahta of Bagan (Pagan)(1044-1077). Note: the Mao people are consider a Shan subgroup.

After the Bagan kingdom fell to the Mongols in 1287, the Tai-Shan people quickly gained power throughout South East Asia, and founded:

  • Lan Xang (Laos)
  • Lanna (Chiang Mai)
  • Ayutthaya (Siam)
  • Assam
  • Ava by Burmanized Shan kings
  • Bago by Monized Shan kings
  • Several Shan states in the Shan hills, Kachin hills, Yunnan and parts of Vietnam.

Many famous Ava and Bago kings of Burmese history were of (partial) Shan descent.

  • The Burmanized Shan kings of Ava fought Monized Shan kings of Bago for control of Ayeyarwady valley.
  • Various Shan states fought Burmanized Shan kings of Ava for the control of Upper Myanmar.
  • The Shan kingdom of Monyin (Mong Yang) defeated the Ava kingdom in 1527, and ruled all of Upper Myanmar until 1555.

Burmese king Bayinnaung (1551-1581) conquered all of the Shan states in 1557. Although the Shan states would become a tributary to Ayeyarwady valley based Burmese kingdoms for many centuries, the Shan Saophas retained a large degree of autonomy and often allied themselves with either ChiangMai, Ayuttaya or Siam.

After the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885, the British gained control of the Shan states and pushed the borders to the mountains, thereby robbing Siam of thousands of square miles of territory.

(The last Burmese king Thibaw was half-Shan.)

Under the British colonial administration, the Shan principalities were administered separately as British protectorates with limited monarchical powers invested in the Shan Saophas.

After World War II, the Shan and other ethnic minority leaders negotiated with the majority Burman leadership at the Panglong Conference, and agreed to gain independence from Britain as part of Union of Burma. The Shan states were given the option to secede after 10 years of independence. The Shan states became Shan State in 1948 as part of the newly independent Burma.

General Ne Win’s coup d’etat overthrew the democratically elected government in 1962, and abolished Shan saopha system. In an effort to extract themselves from under the Burmese thumb, various Shan political organizations have attempted ro reassert Siam’s (Thailand) ancient claim to the Shan States, but without success.

Politics

The Shan have been engaged in an intermittent civil war within Burma for decades. There are two main armed rebel forces operating within Shan State: the Shan State Army/Special Region 3 and Shan State Army/Restoration Council of Shan State. In 2005 the SSNA was effectively abolished after its surrender to the Burmese government, some units joined the SSA/RCSS, which has yet to sign any agreements, and is still engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Burma Army.

During conflicts, the Shan (Thai Yai) are often burned out of their villages and forced to flee into Thailand. There, they are not given refugee status, and often work as undocumented laborers. Whether or not there is an ongoing conflict, the Shan are subject to depredations by the Burmese government; in particular, young men may be impressed into the Burmese Army for indefinite periods, or they may be enslaved to do road work for a number of months – with no wages and no food. The horrific conditions inside Burma have led to a massive exodus of young Shan males to neighboring Thailand, where they typically find work in construction, at daily wages which run about 100-200 baht. However unsatisfactory these conditions may be, all of these refugees are well aware that at least they are being paid for their work, and that every day spent in Thailand is another day that the Burmese government cannot impress or enslave them. Some estimates of Shan refugees in Thailand run as high as two million, an extremely high number when compared with estimates of the total Shan population at some six million.

Independence and Exiled Government

His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Fa (sometimes written as Surkhanfa in Thai) of Yawnghwe, lives in exile in Canada. He is campaigning for the government of Burma to respect the traditional culture and indigenous lands of the Shan people, and he works with Shan exiles abroad helping to provide schooling for displaced Shan children whose parents are unable to do so. He hopes to provide Shan children with some training in life skills so they can fend for themselves and their families in the future.

In addition, opinion has been voiced in Shan State and in neighbouring Thailand, and to some extent in farther-reaching exile communities, in favour of the goal of “total independence for Shan State.” This came to a head when, in May 2005, Shan elders in exile declared independence for the Federated Shan States.

The declaration of independence, however, was rejected by most other ethnic minority groups, many Shan living inside Burma, and Burma’s leading opposition party, the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Despite this dissenting opinion, the Burma Army has begun a crackdown on Shan civilians as a result of the declaration, and Shan people have reported an increase in restrictions on their movements, and an escalation in Burma Army raids on Shan villages.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khun_Sa

 

Roots of Burmese Muslims

Roots of Burmese Muslims 

There is definitely direct spread of Islam to this part of the world and Burma/Myanmar directly from Arabia and Africa continent. But I hereby wish to stress on the one root or SEED OF ISLAM that came to Burma from India.

Islam began in Asia in the 7th century during the life of Muhammad. The greatest number of adherents of Islam has lived in Asia since the beginning of Islamic history.

Islam was started on the Arabian Peninsula by Muhammad in the 7th century. Since then it began spreading rapidly. Till his death (in 632), Muhammad managed to unite the whole of the Arabian peninsular into one country with Islam as the official religion.  

Today most Muslims live in Asia. The majority of notable Muslim religious leaders are based in Asia. Asian countries with high Muslim population include: Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, India, Turkey, Russia, Yemen, Oman, and Qatar. One of the important 20th century figures that developed Islam was Muhammad Iqbal – a philosopher. Another important Asian Muslim was Abdullah Yusuf Ali, an Indian Muslim from Mumbai who translated the Qur’an to English. 

It is necessary for academic purpose because most of the Muslims in Myanmar are Sunni Muslims from the Hannafi sect. From the Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey, Central Asia (break away countries from Russia), Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh most of the Muslims are from this same sect.  

Muslims from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei are from the Shafi sect of Sunni. Shafi sect is known to be spread by the sea route.  

In contrast to this, Hannafi sect is known to be spread by the land route. Arabs propagate Islam directly to the Central Asia and Turky.

The Mongols, e.g. Gin Ghist Khan, although they are Buddhists employed the Muslim Turks and Central Asians and cause the spread of Islam to this part of the world. In this case, the saying, ‘conquerors are conquered’ need to be explained thoroughly.

The conqueror U Tar Tars took over Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and they killed the millions of men and children and married those Muslim women left behind. Their new wives strangely converted them into Islam and they accepted the Islamic cultures. So this is the living proof of the saying, ‘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.

islam-by-country-smooth.png  Distribution of Islam per country.

Green represents a Sunni majority

and blue represents a Shia majority.  

 Today, Islam in Mongolia is mainly practiced by the Kazakhs of Bayan-Ölgii aimag in western Mongolia. The U.S. Department of State estimates that Muslims form 6% of the population, or roughly 150,000 people. 

When the Mongol Empire broke up into four khanates, three of the four khanates became Muslim. These were the Golden Horde, Hulagu’s Ulus and Chagatai’s Ulus. The Yuan Empire also embraced Muslim peoples such as the Uyghurs. Although the court of the Yuan Empire adopted Tibetan Buddhism as the official religion, the majority of the ordinary Mongols, especially those who continued living in Mongolia proper, remained Shamanists.  

In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu demanded surrender but the caliph refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated. Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million. 

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and The Grand Library of Baghdad, which contained countless, precious, historical documents. The city would never regain its status as major center of culture and influence. 

In 1401, warlord of Turco-Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Bagdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur. 

Timeline of Mongol invasions            

  1. 1205–1209 invasion of Western China            
  2. 1211–1234 invasion of Northern China            
  3. 1218–1220 invasion of Central Asia (North eastern of Persia)            
  4. 1220-1223, 1235-1330 invasions of Georgia and the Caucasus (North and north western of Persia)            
  5. 1220–1224 of the Cumans            
  6. 1223–1236 invasion of Volga Bulgaria            
  7. 1231–1259 invasion of Korea  
  8. Mongol invasion of Europe            
  9. 1237–1242 invasion of Rus            
  10. 1241 invasion of Poland, Lithuania and Bohemia            
  11. 1241 invasion of Hungary            
  12. 1241 invasion of Austria and Northeast Italy            
  13. 1242 invasion of Serbia and Bulgaria            
  14. 1241-1244 invasion of Anatolia            
  15. 1251-1259 invasion of Persia, Syria and Mesopotamia            
  16. 1252-1472 Mongol military campaigns in Russia            
  17. 1257, 1284, 1287 invasions of Vietnam            
  18. 1258 invasion of Baghdad            
  19. 1258-1259 invasion of Galych-Volhynia            
  20. 1259 raid against Lithuania and Poland            
  21. 1264-1265 raid against Bulgaria and Thrace            
  22. 1274, 1281 invasions of Japan            
  23. 1274 raid against Bulgaria            
  24. 1275, 1277 raids against Lithuania            
  25. 1277 invasion of Myanmar            
  26. 1279 invasions of Southern China            
  27. 1281 invasion of Syria            
  28. 1285 invasion of Hungary            
  29. 1285 raid against Bulgaria            
  30. 1287 invasion of Myanmar            
  31. 1287 raid against Poland            
  32. 1293 invasion of Java            
  33. 1297, 1299 invasions of India            
  34. 1299 invasion of Syria            
  35. Mongol invasions of India(1222, 1241, 1257, 1292, 1298, 1306 and 1327)            
  36. Mongol invasion of Myanmar (1300)            
  37. 1303 Mongol invasion of Syria            
  38. 312 Mongol invasion of Syria  

Mongols were highly tolerant of most religions, and typically sponsored several at the same time. At the time of Genghis Khan, virtually every religion had found converts, from Buddhism to Christianity and Manichaeanism to Islam.

To avoid strife, Genghis Khan set up an institution that ensured complete religious freedom, though he himself was a shamanist. Under his administration, all religious leaders were exempt from taxation, and from public service. Initially there were few formal places of worship, because of the nomadic lifestyle. However, under Ögedei, several building projects were undertaken in Karakorum. Along with palaces, Ogodei built houses of worship for the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and Taoist followers. The dominant religion at that time was Shamanism and Buddhism, although Ogodei’s wife was a Christian. 

Turkic-Mongol military bands in Iran, after some years of chaos were united under the Saffavid tribe, under whom the modern Iranian nation took shape under the Shiite faith.

Meanwhile Mongol princes in Central Asia were content with Sunni orthodoxy with decentralized princedoms of the Chagatay, Timurid and Uzbek houses. 

In addition to the Khanates and other descendants, the Mughal royal family of South Asia are also descended from Genghis Khan: Babur’s mother was a descendant — whereas his father was directly descended from Timur (Tamerlane).

At the time of Genghis Khan’s death in 1227, the empire was divided among his four sons, with his third son as the supreme Khan, and by the 1350s, the khanates were in a state of fracture and had lost the order brought to them by Genghis Khan.

Eventually the separate khanates drifted away from each other, becoming the Il-Khans Dynasty based in Iran, the Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia, the Yuan Dynasty in China, and what would become the Golden Horde in present day Russia. 

The Mughal Empire was an important imperial power in the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-19th centuries.

At the height of its power, around 1700, it controlled most of the subcontinent and parts of what is now Afghanistan. Its population at that time has been estimated as between 110 and 130 million, over a territory of over a billion acres (4 million km2) 

The classic period of the Empire starts with the accession of Akbar the Great in 1556 and ends with the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, although the Empire continued for another 150 years. During this period, the Empire was marked by a highly centralized administration connecting the different regions of India. All the significant monuments of the Mughals, their most visible legacy, date to this period. 

Mughal is the Persian word for Mongol and was generally used to refer to the Central Asians who claimed descent from the Mongol warriors of Genghis Khan. The foundation for Mughal empire was established around 1504 by the Timurid prince Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, when he took control of Kabul and eastern regions of Khorasan controlling the fertile Sindh region and the lower valley of the Indus River. 

Babur’s son Humayun succeeded him in 1530 but suffered major reversals at the hands of the Pashtun Sher Shah Suri and effectively lost most of the fledgling empire. When the Afghans fell into disarray with the death of Sher Shah Suri, Humayun returned with a mixed army, raised more troops and managed to reconquer Delhi in 1555. Humayun conquered the central plateau around Delhi, he was killed in an accident and succeded by the son Akbar.

Akbar (1556 to 1605) succeeded his father on 14 February 1556, while in the midst of a war against Sikandar Shah Suri for the reclamation of the Mughal throne. Thus, he was thrust onto the throne and soon recorded his first victory at the age of 13 or 14. Jahangir, the son of Mughal Emperor Akbar and Rajput princess Mariam-uz-Zamani, ruled the empire from 1605–1627.

In October 1627, Shah Jahan, the son of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Rajput princess Manmati, succeeded to the throne, where he inherited a vast and rich empire in India; and at mid-century this was perhaps the greatest empire in the world. Shah Jahan commissioned the famous Taj Mahal (1630–1653) in Agra as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. By 1700 the empire reached its peak with major parts of present day India, 

After the invasion of Persia by the Mongol Empire, a regional Turko-Persio-Mongol dynasty formed. Just as eastern Mongol dynasties inter-married with locals and adopted the local religion of Buddhism and the Chinese culture, this group adopted the local religion of Islam and the Persian culture.

The first Mughal King, Babur, established the Mughal dynasty in regions spanning parts of present-day Pakistan and India. Upon invading this region, the Mughals inter-married with local royalty once again, creating a dynasty of combined Turko-Persian, and Mongol background. King Babur did this to create peace among the different religions in the region.

Despite preaching Islamic values himself, Babur focused on setting a good example for the Mughal Dynasty by emphasizing religious tolerance. The language of the court was Persian. The language spoken was Urdūn, which today has advanced into Urdu. Urdūn originated from Persio-Arabic formation, and took on various characteristics of Persian, Chagatai, and Arabic. Today, Urdu is the National Language of Pakistan and is spoken by most Indian Muslims. Religious orthodoxy would only play an important role during the reign of Aurangzeb Ālamgīr, a devout Muslim.

This last of the Great Mughals retracted some of the tolerant policies of his forbears. Under his reign the empire reached its greatest extent in terms of territorial gain and economic strength. I

slam first came into India in the province of Kerala during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammed himself. Prophet Mohammed is said to have sent messengers to the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Heraclius, the Sassanian (Persian) Emperors Chosroes (Khushrau Parvez) and Yazdgard, and to the Kings of China and Kerala (in South India).

The Kings of China and Kerala are said to have received the messengers with great courtesy. King Cheraman of Chera dynasty of Kerala Voluntarily Converts to Islam in the 7th Century.  Tamerlane, a corruption of the name in Persian, Timur-i-Leng, meaning “Timur the Lame.”

The word Timur is Turkic for “iron”. He became the ruler of an empire that stretched from Delhi to Anatolia.  Timur was born in Kesh, fifty miles south of Samarkand) in 1336. His capture of Delhi in 1398 and became the Emperor of Hindustan. Samarkand, Timur’s royal city, celebrated its 2500th anniversary in 1970. It is an ancient site, located on the Zarafshan River, in modern-day Uzbekistan. 

BABUR, THE FIRST OF THE GREAT MOGHULS,was born on February 14, 1483 in Ferghana east of Samarkand. The name “Moghul” is a Persian variant of “Mongol”.  Emperor Babur (1483-1530), the founder of the great Mughal dynasty, was descended from both Genghis Khan and Timur. In 1504, Babur captured the Kabul, Afghan and India in 1524. Two years later, he defeated the Sultan of Delhi . Akbar (1542-1605) was the third and most famous Mughal emperor.  Babar established the Mughal dynasty which ruled from Delhi (and later from Agra) Between 1527 C.E. and 1690 C.E., the Mughals gradually expanded their hold over almost the whole of India. They ruled from 1527 up to 1857. The Mughal (and Muslim) rule was formally abolished by the British.  

The last Muslim Moghul Emperor of India, Abu Za’far Saraj al-Din Bahadur Shah and his family members and some followers were exiled to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). The Mongols themselves were assimilated into local populations after the fall of the empire, and many of these descendants adopted local religions — for example, the eastern Khanates largely adopted Buddhism, and the western Khanates adopted Islam, largely under Sufi influence. The last Khan who was the ruler of South Asia, Bahadur Shah Zafar was deposed by the British after the collapse of the 1857 uprising and exiled to Rangoon where he lies buried. His sons were killed by the British in Humayun’s tomb, the burial place of their ancestor in Delhi. He died there and was buried in Yangon (Rangoon) on 7.11.1862. Now his burial site became a minor diplomatic clash between India and Pakistan. Both of them want to control the site now famous as a shrine and even some of the Burmese Buddhists used to go and pray there because Za’far Shar, as they known, was regarded as a saint.  

The first Mughal emperor Babur wrote in the Bāburnāma:            

“Hindustan is a place of little charm. There is no beauty in its people, no graceful social intercourse, no poetic talent or understanding, no etiquette, nobility or manliness. The arts and crafts have no harmony or symmetry. There are no good horses, meat, grapes, melons or other fruit. There is no ice, cold water, good food or bread in the markets. There are no baths and no madrasas. There are no candles, torches or candlesticks”. 

The Mughal period would see a more fruitful blending of Indian, Iranian and Central Asian artistic, intellectual and literary traditions than any other in Indian history. The Mughals had a taste for the fine things in life — for beautifully designed artifacts and the enjoyment and appreciation of cultural activities. The Mughals borrowed as much as they gave; both the Hindu and Muslim traditions of India were huge influences on their interpretation of culture and court style.  Nevertheless, they introduced many notable changes to Indian society and culture, including:

  1. Centralised government which brought together many smaller kingdoms
  2. Persian art and culture amalgamated with native Indian art and culture
  3. Started new trade routes to Arab and Turk lands, Islam was at its very high
  4. Mughlai cuisine
  5. Urdu and spoken Hindi languages were formed for common Muslims and Hindus respectively
  6. A new style of architecture
  7. Landscape gardening

300px-tajmahalbyamalmongia.jpg

A major Mughal contribution to south Asia was their unique architecture. Many monuments were built during the Mughal era including the Taj Mahal.

Acknowledgement 

Some data and photos from Wikipedia.

Ethnic and Religious Minority Groups of Burma

Ethnic and Religious

Minority  Groups of Burma

 

The greatest threats to global security today_

  1. come not from the economic deficiencies of the poorest nations  
  2. but from : 

  • religious,
  • racial (or tribal)
  • and political dissensions 

raging in those regions where principles and practices which could reconcile the diverse instincts and aspirations of mankind have been_

  •  
    •  ignored,
    • repressed
    • or distorted….
  1. Diversity and dissent need not inhibit the emergence of strong, stable societies,
  2. but inflexibility, narrowness and unadulterated materialism can prevent healthy growth.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Burma is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. This reflects its strategic position between the borders of modern-day Bangladesh, India, Tibet, China, Laos and Thailand.

Throughout history settlers from many different ethnic backgrounds have migrated across the great horseshoe of mountains which surround the central Irrawaddy river-plain.

Today ethnic minority groups are estimated to make up at least one third of Burma’s population of 45 million and to inhabit half the land area.  The 1974 constitution (which is now being revised) demarcated seven ethnic minority states – the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kayah (formerly Karenni), Mon, Rakhine (or Arakan) and Shan – and seven divisions, which are largely inhabited by the majority Burman population. Such a map, however, is a political simplification. Over 100 different dialects and languages have been identified in Burma, and many unique ethnic cultures have survived late into the 20th century. These vary from the Kayan (Padaung) on the Shan/Karenni borders, where the ‘long-necked’ women wear extraordinary brass necklaces, to the Salum sea-gypsies of sub-tropical Tenasserim and the once head-hunting Naga along the India frontier.  The State Law and Order Restoration Council, which has ruled Burma since 1988, itself refers to the ‘135 national races’ of Burma, but has produced no reliable data or list of names. In general, the different ethnic sub-groups in Burma have been loosely simplified by anthropologists and linguists into four main families: the Tibeto-Burmese, Mon-Khmer, Shan (or Tai) and Karen.

Under General Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Programme Party government (1962-1988), ethnic minority languages were openly downgraded and a tacit policy of ethnic, cultural and religious assimilation was instituted by the state.

A theory was developed of the ‘Burmese family of races’ -a family sharing one blood and historic origin. This view still continues and was summarised by the SLORC/SPDC chairman, Sr General Than Shwe, on the 46th anniversary of Burma’s Union Day on 12 February 1993:

“In the Union of Myanmar where national races are residing, the culture, traditions and customs, language and social systems may appear to be different, but in essence they are all based on the common blood of Union Kinship and Union Spirit like a hundred fruits from a common stem… There can be no doubt whatsoever of the fact that our national races have lived together unitedly in the Union of Myanmar since time immemorial.”  

Clinging firmly to the policy of Burman chauvinism, they muffle the basic birth rights of the indigenous races and absorb them of their cultures and traditions. Despite their shoutings of national unity, they ignore the equality of races.

In the present political climate, any substantial redrawing of Burma’s borders is unlikely. But several ethnic groups are found on both sides of the land frontiers surrounding Burma: notably,

  1. the Chin (Mizo) and Naga are also present in India;

  2. the Kachin, Wa and Shan in China;

  3. the Karen, Mon and Shan in Thailand;

  4. and the Buddhist Rakhine and ‘Rohingya’ Muslims in Bangladesh.

  5. The smaller hill communities of the Lahu, Akha and Lisu are even divided across four modern-day borders, being split between Burma, China, Laos and Thailand.

Only the Naga are represented by cross-border political movements of any significance, but the importance of inter-ethnic ties should not be underestimated. The idea, put forward by governments in Rangoon, that Burma is a homogenous island that can be successfully isolated from the outside world is a Burman-centric view which most other ethnic groups reject. It is also a view which has been a major impediment to the natural development of local economic and cultural ties between indigenous peoples on both sides of post-colonial borders.

Far from being a peripheral frontier problem, the ethnic minority crisis is one of the most central issues facing Burma and its neighbours today. All the regions along Burma’s 4,016-mile-long land border are inhabited by ethnic minorities, often with historic ties in neighbouring states, and armed ethnic opposition groups still police many of Burma’s frontier crossings and trade routes.

Historical Background

  1. The Mon and their distant hill cousins the Wa and Palaung in Shan State are usually described as the earliest inhabitants with descendants in Burma today.

  2. Ethnic Karen and Chin were probably the next to move down into central Burma

  3. before Burman migration accelerated into Upper Burma in the 9th and 10th centuries AD.

  4. Ethnic Shans also began migrating into south-east Asia at around the same time,

  5. followed by different Tibeto-Burmese hill peoples,

  6. including the Kachin and Lahu.

In general,

  1. hill-dwellers, such as the Chin and Kachin, practised slash-and-burn cultivation,

  2. while those who settled in the valleys and plains, notably Burman, Mon, Shan and Rakhine, formed larger communities where they turned to sedentary wet-rice farming.

There were many wars and political power changed hands frequently. Only in the late 18th century was the Burman ruler Alaunghpaya able to achieve control over most of the territories which subsequently came to constitute British Burma.

Nevertheless, despite these wars, there was cultural and ethnic inter­change throughout the centuries. This raises serious doubts over the wisdom, or indeed the relevance, of interpreting Burma’s history too literally in racial or nationalist terms. Many local communities and societies in Burma have, historically, been multi-ethnic. This suggests that there are many important precedents for inter-ethnic tolerance and understanding which could be drawn upon to reach a new consensus today.

During the British Colonial times, the ethnic minority Frontier Areas, in contrast, were governed quite separately from Ministerial Burma and, for the most part, left under the control of traditional rulers and chiefs.

Much to the resentment of the Burman majority, the Karen, Kachin and Chin were also preferred for recruitment into the colonial armed forces, and ethnic regiments were formed.

While Burma’s national liberation movement, led by Aung San, at first fought on the Japanese side, most minority peoples, including the Karen, Kachin and Muslims, stayed loyal to the British.

As a result, there were many bloody communal clashes and retaliatory killings during the war in which the minorities, for the most part, came off very much the worse.

Ethnic minority leaders have frequently said that the war massacres made them resolve to take up arms after independence if their political demands were not met.

As a symbol of equality and voluntary union, Aung San famously promised: “If Burma receives one kyat, you will also get one kyat.” But the Karen, Mon, Rakhine and several other ethnic minority groups were not represented and, amidst many other errors, were critically overlooked by both the British and the coalition Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), which was to form Burma’s first independent government.  Following elections to a Constituent Assembly, these principles were incorporated into the constitution of September 1947, which was federalist in principle. The new constitution instituted a bicameral legislature, with a Chamber of Nationalities and a Chamber of Deputies. On ethnic rights, however, it was riddled with anomalies. The Shan and Karenni were awarded the voluntary right of secession after a 10-year trial period, whereas the Mon and Rakhine ended up without even a state of their own. And while in the Karenni and Shan States the traditional royal Sawbwa or rulers were allowed to retain their near-feudal rights, the complex rules of representation determined that ethnic Burmans would predominate in both houses of parliament. Equally inconsistently, the much-promised Karen State remained undemarcated, and, right up until independence, arguments continued over the different merits of ‘nationality states’, ‘communal seats’ in parliament and special ‘ethnic minority rights’.6  As a gesture of conciliation, the figurehead positions in the new Union were shared on an ethnic basis in keeping with Aung San’s philosophy of ‘Unity in Diversity’ (see box). After U Nu, a Burman, was elected as prime minister, Sao Shwe Thaike, a Shan, and Smith Dun, a Karen, were appointed as president and army chief-of-staff respectively. But such measures came too late. By the end of 1947 the KNU and several other nationality parties were already boycotting the political process. Across the country storm clouds were clearly gathering with many ethnic Burmans, especially in the communist movement and the army, equally unhappy about the AFPFL government of U Nu. Burma’s independence was born out of bloodshed. The country’s second-largest political party, the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), went underground in March 1948, and the KNU followed at the beginning of 1949. In quick succession, many ethnic Burman and Karen units in the army mutinied in sympathy, reducing government authority at one stage to just six miles out of Rangoon. AFPFL reasserted urban control, but throughout the late 1940s and 50s various other ethnic groups, including the Karenni, Mon, Pao, Rakhine and Muslim Mujahids, took up arms in the countryside.

Acknowledgements: Extracts from Martin Smith’s Ethnic Groups in Burma.