ASEAN LEADERS ARE BARKING AT THE WRONG TREE WITH THE WRONG CAUSE AND WRONG OBJECTIVE

ASEAN LEADERS ARE BARKING AT THE WRONG TREE 

WITH THE WRONG CAUSE AND WRONG OBJECTIVE

 

ASEAN leaders are complaining about the convenient way to solve the Rohingya problem.

But for the Rohingyas or Burmese Muslims or Christian Chins/Karens/Kachins and Buddhist Mons/Shans/Burmese etc AND the NLDS  and political opponents and armed rebel groups_

Whether the SPDC would accept them back is not their main concern. What is the consequences after repatriation is their only problem.

Jailed? Tortured? Is the main concern for all but ‘Village arrest’ (for Rohingyas only) is the problem.

No democracy, no Human Rights, no political life, no respect for the Rights of religious minorities and Ethnic minorities is their main concern.

But the lack of development, economic problems back home are the most important fact for all of them.

There is no clear cut line to DEFINE OR CATEGORIZE THEM INTO POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC MIGRANTS. 

Continue reading

March 27 Myanmar Military day message

  March 27 Myanmar Military day message

Modified and edited the original letter, Arrogance? Never again”, by Tanya  in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that Tanya and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

The absolute power of the successive ruling Tatmadaw Junta Generals corrupted them absolutely and their hubris led to their downfall.

The military dictators ravaged Myanmar/Burma for over 46 years, taking away our right to free speech, instilling fear, corrupting the country to the core, and depriving us of the wealth of this country by allowing it as largesse for his cronies. The ruling top senior general’s arrogance filtered down to the `little Napoleon generals’ who outdid him in his arrogance in implementing his will.

One of the greatest crime of the Sr General Than Shwe was the crime of ‘commission by omission’. He also let his greedy family enrich themselves at the country’s expense. However, I still do think he is a cut above the diabolical council of Tatmadaw’s crooks.

Cronies sat down and wagged their tails, happy that they got the crumbs from the table.

Dear Senior General, with all the wealth that you have now, and after all these years of your so-called “service to your people and country”, did you manage to buy peace of mind and dignity in your old age?

General Ne Win was the kind of shameless and under-handed leader we have had for over twenty years. He and his band of brigand cabinet ministers rode roughshod over the people, especially the non-Burmese, very often with barely concealed contempt for them, and most often with open contempt. His was the legacy that was continued during the days of the Than Shwe.

I call on all Myanmar/Burmese citizens from today to never, never, ever again tolerate the kind of arrogance we have been subjected to all these years at the hands of these fellows who have been mistakenly thinking they are our lords and masters. From today we will reclaim our birthright, which includes the right to liberty, freedom of expression and equality before the law. And we will remind the despicable autocrats that they have been put in their positions to serve and deliver, as our servants. They will listen when we speak our minds.

Tatmadaw Yebaws or military rank and file have been made pawns in the game played by these heartless; morally bankrupt generals, solely for the purpose of enriching and empowering themselves.

I am saying this from the bottom of my heart: if the Tatmadaw wants to be a strong and respected force that counts on the global stage, if they want their progeny to be a generation of winners, then they don’t need such generals. All they need is to believe in themselves, claim their pride and dignity, and compete on a level playing field with the civilians. I sincerely believe they can do this. Just go for it.

Most crucial at this juncture is that the delicate balance of racial and religious harmony is maintained. Without that everything else will be futile.

The Myanmar Tatmadaw will go all out to turn the Bamas against the other races. They must never succeed in this. Let us not be deceived by the Tatmadaw generals’ lies and start to distrust each other. If we work for the common good, we can ensure that all of us, will prosper. Isn’t that what we all want?

I would like to exhort all Tatmadaw rank and files not to let these evil generals poison your minds against the other minority races and minority religious persons.

If we let those generals win at their game we will all become abject losers. Above all, let us all have generous hearts. Let us not believe in the adage ‘beggar thy neighbour’. On the contrary let us believe in ‘prosper thy neighbour’. Together we will prevail.

Note: Rank and file (Idiom) =

  • Followers,
  • the general membership.

This expression comes from the military, where_

  • a rank denotes soldiers standing side by side in a row,
  • and file refers to soldiers standing behind one another.

The first recorded figurative use of this term was in 1860. 

e.g. This new senator really appeals to the rank and file in the labor unions.

 

Tibet – support the Dalai Lama

Tibet – support the Dalai Lama

By Feraya Nangmone

Hi,

I just signed an urgent petition calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights in Tibet and engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This is really important, and I thought you might want to take action:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a global cry for change. But violence is spreading across Tibet and neighbouring regions, and the Chinese regime is right now considering a choice between increasing brutality or dialogue, that could determine the future of Tibet and China.

We can affect this historic choice. China does care about its international reputation. Its economy is totally dependent on “Made in China” exports that we all buy, and it is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China that is a respected world power.

President Hu needs to hear that ‘Brand China’ and the Olympics can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention. Click below to join me and sign a petition to President Hu calling for restraint in Tibet and dialogue with the Dalai Lama — and tell absolutely everyone you can right away. The petition is organized by Avaaz, and they are urgently aiming to reach 1 million signatures to deliver directly to Chinese officials:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

Thank you so much for your help!

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.

 

 

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

Ko Moe Thee Zone’s announcement regarding SPDC crony businessmen

Ko Moe Thee Zone’s

Announcement regarding

SPDC crony businessmen

 

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?

mtz-1.png
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Read more at Ko Moe Thee Zone’s blog  .

The Role of Muslims in Burma’s Democracy Movement

The Role of Muslims in

Burma’s Democracy Movement

From Irrawady

By Shah Paung
November 12, 2007

Although the September protests in Rangoon were led by Buddhist monks, Burmese Muslims were among the first to offer water to the monks as a means of showing support for the peaceful demonstrations.

“I saw some Muslims kneel down and pay respect to the Buddhist monks,” said Pan Cha, a Burmese Sikh businessman who arrived at the Thai-Burmese border in early October after being involved in the September demonstrations.

Over a month since the junta cracked down violently on the monks and their supporters in the streets of Burma, Pan Cha forcefully said in an interview with The Irrawaddy that “The Burmese people are not afraid—nationwide demonstrations are coming back again soon!”

“I came here [to the border] just to escape for a while and tell the truth about what happened in Burma to the international media,” he said. “After, I will go back to Burma.”

In the context of the pro-democracy movement in Burma, it is important to remember the role of Burmese Muslims.

According to residents and journalists who were at the demonstrations, many Muslims supported and participated in the protests and were badly beaten by Burmese security forces.

In a video clip seen around the world, soldiers beat and kick a young Muslim man who is huddled on the ground. They club him with batons and kick him brutally.

Pan Cha, who helped organize security for the demonstrations, said that a top Burmese minister ordered pro-junta group, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, to beat any Muslim in sight at the demonstrations, because Muslims were never USDA members.

He went on to say that when they first saw Buddhist monks demonstrating on September 18, many Muslims wanted to support the monks, but were worried about repercussions against the Muslim community as a whole. They feared it would cause more Kala Burma Adigayone (Muslim – Buddhist riots) and create problems for all Muslims in Burma (Kala is a derogatory name for Muslims and Indians in Burmese).

Inspired by the resilience of many Muslims in Rangoon, Pan Cha began encouraging them not to fear the government, telling them that they were standing up for the rights of all the people of Burma. On September 19, many Muslims joined in the demonstrations after their prayers and supported the monks by offering water, betel nut and fresh towels.
 

Some wealthy Muslims supported demonstrators by providing mobile phones to make communications between the protesters easier. Some who were car owners blocked the military trucks that were carrying arrested demonstrators and tried to help them escape when the army convoys stopped. They risked their own lives on behalf of others.

According to the 88 Generation Students group, at least seven Muslims in Rangoon were charged with inciting state unrest by supporting the monk-led demonstrations. They are currently being detained in Pabedan Township in Rangoon.

Pan Cha also confirmed that before he left Burma on October 4, he knew of about 30 Muslims who had been hospitalized from being beaten during the street protests. More than 100 Muslims were still being detained, he said.

Muslims have long played a leading role in Burma’s democracy movement, even dating back to before Burmese independence.

All scholars of Burmese history know the story of Abdul Razak. Better known as U Razak, he was the Muslim headmaster of Mandalay Central National High School and became Minister of Education and National Planning in Burma’s pre-independence government. He was also a leader of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League in Mandalay.

He lost his life at aged 49, when he was gunned down by assassins on July 19, 1947, together with Burmese independence leader Gen Aung San and seven other cabinet members and colleagues. The day is now commemorated annually in the country as “Martyrs’ Day.”

As a minority group, Muslims in Burma regularly suffer from social and religion discrimination. The Burmese government regularly encourages ultra-nationalism and uses religion as a political tool. The Burmese government will not grant citizenship to Muslims and, to all intensive purposes, do not recognize Muslims as being Burmese.

The junta’s top leader, Snr Gen Than Shwe, is known to despise Muslims and Chinese people who live in Burma. However, most Chinese in Burma are business people and were not directly involved in the September uprising. In Mandalay, home to thousands of Chinese immigrants, most doors remained closed during the protests, a sign that the ethnic Chinese were not in support of the demonstrators. The Muslim minority, on the other hand, played an active part in the pro-democracy demonstrations, just as they have throughout the country’s troubled recent history.

“We cannot say that the demonstrations were not related to Muslims just because they were led by Buddhist monks,” Pan Cha concludes. “We were all born and live in Burma and should not discriminate among each other. We must work together toward democracy.”