A Letter from Barack Hussein Obama and half-past-six Burma

A Letter from Barack Hussein Obama

and half-past-six Burma 

  • Originally by_ Dr Azly Rahman
  • I copied from the website of_ DYMM Raja Petra   
  • Based on that core, I have added alot of my remarks and facts about Burma.
  • This is what I will bring to the office of the Presidency of the United States . I will deal with Muslims from a position of familiarity and respect and at this time in the history of our nation that is something sorely needed.

    Even the Burmese opposition leaders and activists wish to maintain the status quo with the excuse of secularism, even refused to allow the Muslims to highlight their sufferings, Racial Discriminations and Religious Suppressions.

    The Muslim heritage of my family

    Barack Hussein Obama

    There has been a lot made in the recent weeks about the Muslim history of my family. Some of the things that have been said are true, others are false, so I am writing this letter to clear up the misunderstandings on this issue.

    Yes, it is true that I have a name that is common amongst Kenyan Muslims where my father came from and that my middle name is Hussein. Barack is a name which means “blessing” and Hussein is a masculine form of the word beauty. 

    Continue reading

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.

Of course I love my country…

Of course I love my country…

John Lee | Feb 6, 08 3:24pm

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Anwar: Bumi policies affect investments.

I consider myself lucky that I have traveled to almost all the Asean countries and have managed to observe, albeit shallowly, the socio-political structures of our neighbouring countries.

I identify myself as a Malaysian Chinese – the ‘Malaysian’ is an adjective and the ‘Chinese’ is the noun. This is inevitable in Malaysia because the country’s laws and policies are based on racial and religious lines.

I am part of the fourth generation of Hua Ren – the overseas Chinese. The Hua Ren are noticeable in every country – Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and, of course, Singapore.

The Malaysian Chinese are unique in the sense that we continue to carry our ancestors’ name without alteration, unlike all of our neighbours, except for Singapore. We are also unique in that, unlike our neighbors, we choose to practice faiths – Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity – different from the majority race.

None of our neighbours have decided to endorse apartheid, er sorry, affirmative action or bumiputera policies. They seem to be doing well, namely Thailand and Vietnam. In fact, there is a special term for overseas Vietnamese returning home after the war with their fortunes – the Viet Kieu.

I am counting the years before Vietnam overtakes Malaysia as an economic powerhouse. I should know a bit better because in my profession, I assist Malaysian businesses in setting up shop there.

I was born in Malaysia. My identification card says I am a citizen. However, I am classified as a non-bumiputera. My religion is kafir. My economic value is low in my own country because I am a non-bumiputera and a non-Muslim. Yet my economic value is high overseas.

Chinese Malaysian professionals are highly sought after. Malaysian accountants find success in China, London and Australia because they are multi-lingual and very hard working. Being cheaper and less arrogant than Singaporeans is another plus point. The ability to converse in English and Mandarin is highly prized by multinational corporations in China.

 

Heck, half of all Chinese Malaysian professionals are actually future Singaporean citizens.

Even in the Middle East, the Chinese Malaysians are sought after to support the Islamic banking industry because of their hard work and ability to assimilate easily. The Middle Eastern people in the finance industry don’t discriminate against you, but then your women had better wear the burqa and hide in their homes.

In then end, the Chinese Malaysian will continue to actively seek migration, just as their forefathers did. They will accumulate the necessary skills and talents, and then use their entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to work hard and move on once Malaysia becomes a barren place.

The oil will run dry here. The country will be carpeted with palm trees. Malays will overwhelmingly dominate the population. It will look like Indonesia. Then it will look like Pakistan. Finally, it will settle into an Afghanistan.

At last, the Malays will be able to proudly claim that they are no longer contesting for 30 percent of the economic pie. They will actually own 100 percent. I am not too sure of my personal future, as well as my children’s future, but I am not worried about the future of the Hua Ren.

In conclusion, do I love my country? Of course I do. I love my country as much as my country loves me.

The Golden days of the Great Shan Empire VII

The Golden days of the

Great Shan Empire VII

Detention of Ethnic Shan and other opposition Leaders

Read detail in Irrawaddy, “Detained Ethnic Leaders Denied Outside Medical Aid” By Shah Paung on January 8, 2008

Detained ethnic Shan leaders are being denied medical treatment from outside for serious health problems, according to the Shan National League for Democracy.

9883-khun-htun-oo.gif

SNLD chairman Hkun Htun Oo

SNLD spokesman Sai Lek told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that prison authorities had rejected or ignored requests by the families of SNLD chairman Hkun Htun Oo and SNLD member Sai Hla Aung for medical attention from outside.

Hkun Htun Oo suffers from_

  1. prostate problems,
  2. diabetes,
  3. heart disease
  4. and high blood pressure.

Sai Hla Aung has_

  1. a hyperthyroid condition,
  2. diabetes
  3. and heart disease.

They were arrested in February 2005, together with_

  1. SNLD General-Secretary Sai Nyunt Lwin,
  2. Shan State Peace Council President Maj-Gen Sao Hso Ten
  3. and Shan politician Shwe Ohn, who was later released.

They were arrested days before a resumed session of the National Convention opposed by Shan leaders.

  • Hkun Htun Oo was sentenced to 92 years imprisonment and is detained in Putao prison, Kachin State.
  • Sai Nyunt Lwin received a 75 year sentence and is in Kalay prison, Sagaing Division.
  • Sao Hso Ten was sentenced to a total of 106 years imprisonment and is in Hkamti prison, Sagaing Division.
  • Sai Hla Aung received a sentence of 75 years and is in Kyauk Pyu prison, Arakan State.
  • Meanwhile, arrests of National League for Democracy members continue. NLD spokesman Nyan Win said five members of the NLD youth wing had been arrested between Burma Independence Day on January 4 and January 6. No reason has yet been given for the arrests.
  • According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), based in neighboring Thailand, there are more than 1,400 political prisoners in Burma.

SPDC Junta and Myanmar Tatmadaw failed to understand that patriotism is not the sole property of the Myanmar Tatmadaw and its Generals alone.

Each and every citizen_

  • regardless of his race,
  • religion,
  • social status
  • or political alignment,

has the right and is duty-bound to show his sense of patriotism to the country he loves in his own way.

Tatmadaw failed to acknowledge that the opposition parties like NLD, SNLD etc are equally patriotic, if not more so than SPDC leaders.

Many opposition leaders, to name a few_

  1. U Gambari lead real Buddhist monks,
  2. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led NLD leaders like U Tin Oo,
  3. U Hkun Htun Oo led SNLD Shan leaders,
  4. Min Ko Naing lead 88 Student leaders, like Ko Ko Gyi etc,
  5. Burmese Muslims such as, Daw Win Mya Mya (NLD Mandalay, Panthay) and Ko Mya Aye (88 Student leader)

Are unlike those in the SPDC and Tatmadaw,

  • have given up much of their comforts in life,
  • endured so much pain and humiliation
  • and even have been detained
  • and tortured
  • under the illegal, undemocratic, unjust, draconian laws of the SPDC.

SPDC Junta should answer my question even if their brain is slightly larger than a bird’s brain.

If sacrificing the major part of one’s life for the nation is not patriotism, what is it then?

It is extremely distressing that the ruling Myanmar Generals and Tatmadaw want to cling onto power instead of being an instrument for the peace, progress, prosperity, unity of Myanmar and power house to start an inertia of change to democracy.

Not only the different Races and religions have become the cause of disunity, hate, violence and turmoil but the Myanmar Generals and Tatmadaw show the world that they are even willing to assault, arrest, torture and kill their own monks to stop the momentum of people’s peaceful struggle to initiate the changes to democracy.

So what’s left now to think about the safety or guarantee of other minority races and religious groups’ fate, life and property ?

We all now witnessed that Myanmar Tatmadaw is even willing to sacrifice and annihilate any one or any obstacle on their way to the road to their permanent dominance of Myanmar. 

But the whole world looks quite cool, slow and looks like willing to patiently waiting forever for the SPDC promised, “Rice presenting on the moon-plate”

SPDC Generals should stop playing the politics of fear and intimidation on the unarmed Myanmar civilians. They should not politicise or use the national security as an excuse because it would be the most unpatriotic act, amounting to treachery.

We have journeyed together, sharing a common brotherhood for 60 years and we have attained wisdom and maturity to effect change that would create an environment where all of the Burmese/Myanmar citizens can have our voices heard, rights respected and continue to live together without fear or suspicion of each other.

We should not allow selfish Military Generals to sow the seeds of disunity, suspicion, hate and jealousy that will only be detrimental to us in this multi-racial and multi-religious nation of Burma/Myanmar.

As Barrack Obama, the US presidential candidate, said after his first defeat in the primaries:

‘Change is hard. Change is always met by resistance from the status quo. The real gamble is to have the same old folks doing the same old things over and over and over again and somehow expect a different result’.

We cannot and should not expect a better outcome from the same old Tatmadaw system over and over again. They will try to keep all the issues and dialogue in the back burner.

In order to create a just government for all of the Burmese/ Myanmars, we must strive to effect a change.

We have no much time to wait for the evolution, until or unless, UN and Mr Gambari could forced the snail paced present (almost effectively stalled) dialogue on the rocket louncher to install on to the fast track.

To bring about that change may not be that easy, it may be a monumental task, but there must be a beginning for all good things to happen.

Why shouldn’t it be now?

Is the saying, “Time and Tide wait for no man” irrelevant to the inhumane, noncivilized uniformed Tatnadaw?

Why did UN and the whole world allow the Junta to procrastinate when all of us already know that what the SPDC want was TIME only.

SPDC stupidly thought that time could heal the bleeding hearts of the people seeing their beloved revered monks beaten, arrested and killed.

It is now in our hands to make that change.

Do we have the will and courage to do so?

Except for the USA and EU leaders,

  • are ASEAN leaders,
  • OIC leaders,
  • Common Wealth leaders,
  • Non Allied movement leaders
  • and UN member countries’ leaders

all became cowards? Eunuchs with any B–ls? Greedy Crooks?

Or are they all willing to close their eyes, as the Burmese saying, “Myauk Thar_ Sar Chin Yin_Myaul Myet Nher_Ma Kyi Ne’.” meaning. “if you want to eat the flesh of the monkey, avoid looking at the face of the monkey.”

So carry on world leaders, just close your eyes to avoid seeing us beatened, tortured, arrested and killed by the Than Shwe Junta.

Please continue to enjoy the following article I republished from Irrawaddy.

Pro-Democracy Political Prisoners in Poor Health Condition
By Shah Paung
January 16, 2008

At least four detained political prisoners in Burmese prisons are in poor health and need medical attention, according to their family members.

The four political prisoners are Hla Myo Naung and Kyaw Soe of the 88 Generation Students group, who are both in Insein Prison in Rangoon; Win Maw, a pro-democracy activist, also in Insein Prison; and Myint Oo, a committee member of the Magwe Division of the National League for Democracy, who is in Mandalay Prison.

Hla Myo Naung has eye problems and is nearly blind in both eyes, according to a family member. He has had eye problems since October 2007, and was arrested while he was enroute to a Rangoon clinic to have an operation on the left side of one eye.

After he was arrested, authorities performed an operation on one of his eyes, but it was not successful and an eye nerve was damaged.

Family members of both Win Maw and Kyaw Soe said they received medical treatment in prison after they were tortured by the authorities in an interrogation center.

However, Win Maw has now contracted pneumonia. Kyaw Soe suffers from fainting spells. Both men were victims of water torture, according to sources.

A family member of Win Maw said they have not been allowed to visit him for nearly three weeks.

Myint Oo, who also suffers from pneumonia, began receiving medical treatment in a Mandalay prison hospital three days ago, according to family members.

Tate Naing, the secretary of the exiled-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), said that since August 2007, the military government has arrested more than 7,000 people, including pro-democracy activists.  Prisoners are not allowed to receive outside medical treatment.

88 Generation Students leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi also have health problems, say their family members. They were arrested by authorities in August 2007.

According to the AAPP, there are more than 1,850 political prisoners in Burmese prisons.

 

The Golden days of the Great Shan Empire III

The Golden days of the 

Great Shan Empire III

To make it easy for the busy readers who could not give much time to read, I have prepared another version in notes form  below_ 

  1. Shan (also known as Tai) lived independently up north round about 650 B.C. in China at the lower part of the Yangtze River.

  2. Shan’s (also known as Tai) migrated down through the present day Yunnan and desended further down into Burma and settled in the Shan Plateau.

  3. A large group of them made a detour U turn and went up north and climbed the Tibet hills and stayed there forming the Tibeto-Burman ancestors of the whole region. (According to Thailand history books.)

  4. One group continued their journey west, up to the present day Rakhine.

  5. Another group even decided to continue the long march up into the present day north eastern part of India.

  6. One of the group continued south in Burma and settled in lower Burma closely with Mon and  Kayins.

  7. Few of them decided to continue to just stay-put in the present day Yunnan.

  8. One group broke away from all others and decided to go straight southwards and settled in present Thailand.

  9. One of them also broke away from all and moved to the east, settling in present day Lao and Cambodia.

  10. Actually they are a little bit different, some had more of the Chinese blood and some even have mixed blood with Khamars and some even went further and said to be settled in Vietnam.

  11. One of the group, known as Thet mixed the Pyus and their decedents are part of the ancestors of Bamars.

  12. Some of the ethnic groups, who made a detour U turn, went up north, climbs the Tibet hills and later came down and they were known as Kan Yan and formed one of the ancestors of Bama.

  13. At last intermarriage of the groups who were the descendents of Pyu, Kan Yan and Thet give rise to the present day Bama ethnic group.

Note (A) : the long march travelers of Shan came down in different times in batches. Because it happened in the prehistoric times, I have searched and collected data, and made it simple and easy from various references below.

I hereby wish to go into some details of what I had given as a gist above: Shan’s other cousins descended from the same ancestors, now inhabit northeast Assam or Asom in India.

Note (B) : they established the Ahom kingdom in Assam, India, where the Burmese General Maha Bandula’s troops committed_

  • indescribable cruelties

  • and barbarities  as to

  • annihilate something like 2/3 of the population

  • and certainly 1/3 of the men and boys –

  • disemboweling them,

  • eating their flesh

  • and burning them alive in cages

  • to intimidate

  • and suppress the Shan Ahom of Assam, India.

This event so weakened and disorganized the Shan Ahom that by 1839 the kingdom was completely annexed by the British.

Before that from about 1220 – 1812 AD they maintained themselves under one Dynasty, (that of Mong Mao 568-1604 AD when its descendants ruled Hsenwi or Theinni in Burmese).

Indeed the Shan Ahom resisted conquest by the Mughals who had conquered much of India before the British incursion.

Some groups of Shan settled along the way, at  Yunnan in the north east of Burma.

Some mixed blooded with Chinese and Khamar, went to the east and founded the Laos and  Cambodia.

Others went down to the southeast and settled in Thailand. No wonder Thailand was known as Siam or we could even easily understand it is just a slang of Shan.

Shans were  gradually pushed south, at about the beginning of the Christian era by the advancement of the Tar Tars.

About 650 A.D. one group of Shans formed a powerful country at Nan Chao, now known as Yunnan.

Nan Chao Shans were quite powerful and could resist Chinese attempts at conquest until 1253.

During the years 754 to 763 A.D. the Nan Chao Shans extended their rule even up to the upper basin of the Irrawaddy River and came into contact with the Pyu.

Pyu was one of three ancestors who founded our Burma: viz, Pyu, Kan Yan and Thet.

Pyu was then the ruler of the Upper  Burmese Plains.

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

During the heydays of the Nan Chao Shans, some of them had even crossed Upper Burma to reach far west and established the once powerful Ahom Shan Kingdom, in the northeastern part of India, now known as Assam or Assom , as stated above.

Shans had moved into the area now known as the Shan Pyae of Burma in large numbers and settled down and were well established by the time our first Burmese King Anawrahta ascended his throne in 1st century.

Nan Chao  Shans tried desperately to defend their Nan Chao  kingdom from the Chinese attackers, but in 1253 the Nan Chao Kingdom fell.

Some of the Nan Chao Shans, unwilling to live under foreign domination there; move towards the south in strength, to seek freedom in present day Tailand area.

They joined forces with the other Shans, who had already settled in that area, and

  • in 1262 took over Chiang Rai,
  • in 1296 Chiang Mai 
  • and in 1315 took Ayuddhaya, and established their own kingdoms.

In Upper Burma the Shans established the kingdoms of

  • Mo Gaung (Mong Kawng),
  • and Mo Hnyin (Mong Yang),
  • and in the Shweli basin, the Mao Kingdom.

Anawrahta ruled the Pagan for 43 year. He was able to unify the whole Burma under his rule for the first time in history.

During this time he sent his armed soldiers into the Shan’s kingdoms to help ensure the security of his Pagan Kingdom. However, he had no intention of annexing or taking over of the Shan’s kingdoms. He merely wished to defend the low lying plains of his Burma from raids by the Shan’s disgruntled militias.

For this purpose he established a string of fortified towns along the length of the foothills.

Relations between Shan and Burma became friendlier under Anawrahta’s successors , but the Burmese Pagan fell to the attackers from China in 1287 A. D. and was destroyed.

Then in 1312 A. D. one of the groups of Shans took the kingly Title of “Thihathu” and ascended as the Burmese king or throned in Pinya.

The (Mao) Shans, who had established kingdoms in Mo Hnyin, Mo Gaung and the Shweli areas then overran the villages of Pinya and Sagaing in 1364 A.D.

After they had withdrawn, Shan’s from Ava, whose title was Thadominbya, combined Pinya and Sagaing and established a new Kingdom, over which he ruled.

So Shans effectively became Kings in Burma from 1282 A.D. to 1531 A.D.

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

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

Early Shan Settlements in North Myanmar

The successive conquests achieved by Sao Hsam Long Hpa over the northern territory encouraged greater Shan migration to these new areas and led to further establishment of their Ban-Mong system. Territories which now belong to Kachin State were once under the rule of the Mong Kawng Saohpa and many Shans (affiliated to the Thai-Long ethnic group) can still be found dominating the following Bans and Mongs of the region shown below:

1. Alambo
2. Aungthagon
3. Bilumyohaung or Waing Hpai Kao
4. Bilumyothit or Waing Hpai Mai
5. Gurkhaywa
6. Hopin or Ho-Pang
7. Htantabin or Ban Htan Ton Leo
8. Htopu or Ban Hto Hpu
9. Inbaung or ban Kyapt Naung
10. Ingyigon (old) or Ban Kaung Pao Kao
11. Ingyingon (new) or Ban Kaung Pao Mai
12. Kangon or Ban Kong Naung
13. Kanhla or Ban Naung Ngarm
14. Kayuchaung or Ban Nam Haung Hoi
15. Kondangyi or Ban Kong Khay
16. Kyakyikwin Ban Naung Mo Long
17. Letpandan
18. Lwelaw or Ban Loi Law
19. Mahaung
20. Maing Naung or Mong Naung
21. Mamana
22. Manywet or Ban Ywet
23. Mawhan
24. Mogaung or Mong Kawng
25. Mohnyin or Mong Yang
26. Moknaung
27. Myadaung
28. Myohla
29. Myothitgyi or Waing Mai
30. Nam Khwin
31. Namma
32. Nampoke
33. Namti
34. Nanhaing
35. Nansawlaw
36. Nansun
37. Natgyikon or Ban Hpi Long
38. Natyingya
39. Nyaunggaing
40. Nyaunggon or Ban Kon Nyaung
41. Ohnbaung
42. Pinbaw or Ban Pang Baw
43. Pinhe
44. Pinlon or Ban Panglong
45. Pintha or Ban Pyin Hsa
46. Pwinbusu
47. Sahmaw or Ban Mao Khay
48. Shanzu
49. Shwe-in or Ban Naung Hkam
50. Tagwin
51. Ta-paw
52. Taungbaw or Ban Ho Loi
53. Taungni or Ban Loi Leng
54. Tiggyaingsu
55. Theikwagon
56. Thutegon
57. Yawthit or Ban Mai
58. Yawathikyi or Ban Mai Long
59. Thayetta

In Kamaing Township:
1. Chaungwa or Ban Pak Haung
2. Haungpa or Ban Haung Par
3. Hepan or Haipan
4. Hepu or Haipu
5. Kamaing
6. Lawsun
7. Lepon
8. Letpangon
9. Lonsan or Long San
10. Lonton
11. Lwemun or Loimun
12. Maing Pok or Mong Pok
13. Mapyin
14. Maubin Natlatan
15. Nammun
16. Nanhlaing
17. Nankat
18. Nanya
19. Nyaungbin
20. Sezin
21. Taunghaw

In Myitkyina Township:
1. Akye
2. Ayeindama
3. Baingbin
4. Hokat
5. Katcho or Kat Kiao
6. Khaungpu or Hkaunghpu old
7. Khaungpu or Hkaungpu new
8. Kokma
9. Kwitu
10. Legon
11. Maingmaw or Mong Maw
12. Mainga or Mong Na
13. Male
14. Mangin
15. Mankin Saragatawng
16. Mankin Shewzet
17. Manmakan or Man Mark Karm
18. Manpwa
19. Mintha
20. Myitkyina
21. Nampong
22. Nanhe
23. Namkalan
24. Nankwe
25. Nanpomaw
26. Nanwa
27. Naunghi
28. Naungmun
29. Naungpakat
30. Nyaungbintha
31. Okkyin
32. Pamati
33. Panpa
34. Pidaung
35. Pinlontaw
36. Pinlonyana
37. Rampur
38. Sanga
39. Sangin
40. Sekow
41. Sinbo
42. Sitapur
43. Tahona or Ta Ho Na
44. Taiklon
45. Talawgyi
46. Tasaing
47. Talkon
48. Thagaya
49. Tonpakut
50. Ulauk
51. Wainglon
52. Waingmaw
53. Washaung
54. ZigyunSource:

The Kachin Hill Manual. Rangoon: The Superintendent Government Printing, Union of Burma, 1959. pp. 17-18

Appendix II: Shan Kings in Myanmar

The list of Shan kings who succeeded the kings of Bagan and reigned at Myinsaing and Pinya is:

  1. The three Shan brothers who acquired power after the fall of Bagan and governed the country with equal status from A.D. 1298:
    • Athinhkaya,
    • Yazathinkyan
    • and Thihathu, Their joint reign lasted fourteen years.
  2. Thihathu or Ta-tsi-shin, youngest of the three brothers who made himself king at Pinya in 1312 and reigned for ten years.
  3. Uzana son of Kyawswa (1287-98, deposed king of Bagan) and the adopted son of Thihathu.
  4. Ngasishin Kyawswa (half brother of 3), son of Thihathu, he became king in 1343 and reigned eight years.
  5. Kyawswa-nge (son of 4) became king in 1350 and reigned five years.
  6. Narathu (brother of 5) became king in 1354 and reigned nine years.
  7. Uzana Pyaung (brother of 6) became king in 1364, and was assassinated after three months’ rule by Thadonminbya.

Sagaing Kings

There were seven Shan kings who reigned from 1315 to 1364:

  1. Sawyun or Saoyun, the son of Thihathu or Tai-tsi-shin who also reigned at Myinsaing and Pinya. He became king in 1315 and reigned seven years.
  2. Tarabyagyi (step brother of 1), became king in 1323 and reigned fourteen years.
  3. Shwetaungtet (son of 2), became king in 1336 and reigned three years.
  4. Kyawswa (son of 2), became king in 1340 and reigned ten years.
  5. Nawrahtaminye (brother of 4), became king in 1350 and reigned seven months.
  6. Tarabyange (brother of 5) bcame king in 1350 and reigned three years.
  7. Minbyauk Thiapate (brother-in-law of 6) was driven from Sagaing by a Shan army from the north and murdered by his stepson, Thadonminbya in 1364.

Ava 

Ava, the capital of upper Myanmar for many years, was founded with the help of the Shan chief Thadominbya in 1364.

There were nineteen chiefs of Shan descent who reigned in Ava from 1364 to 1555:

  1. Thadominbya said to be descended from the ancient Shan kings of Takawng or Tagaung on his mother’s side, he was the grandson of Athinhkaya Sawyun, the Shan king of Sagaing. He founded Ava in 1364, became king in the same year and reigned three years.

  2. Nga Nu (usurper), a paramour of Sao Umma, became king in 1368, and reigned only for a few days.

  3. Mingyiswasawke, said to be descended from both the Bagan dynasty and the Shan brothers, became king in 1368 and reigned thirty-five years.

  4. Tarbya or Sinbyushin (eldest son of 3), became king in 1401 but reigned only seven months, being murdered by his attendant.

  5. Nga Nauk Hsan, became king in 1401 and reigned only a few weeks.

  6. Minkhaung (another son of 3) hesitated to accept the throne, but his younger brother Theiddat killed a cousin claimant and made him king. He became king in 1401 and reigned twenty-one years.

  7. Thiathu (son of 6) became king in 1422 and reigned four years. He was murdered at the instigation of Queen Shin Bo Me.

  8. Minhla Ngai (son of 7) king in 1426 and reigned only three months before he was poisoned.

  9. Kalekyetaungnyo (usurper) became king in 1426 but reigned only seven months.

  10. Mohnyithado or Mohnyinmintara, chief of Shan descent who justified his claim to the throne as a descendant of the kings Narapatisithu (1173-1210) and Ngasishin (1343-1350) of Bagan and of the family of the three Shan brothers. He became king in 1427 and reigned thirteen years.

  11. Minrekyawswa (son of 10) became king in 1440 and reigned three years.

  12. Narapati (Thihathu) (brother of 11), became king in 1443 and reigned twenty-six years.

  13. Thihathu or Mahathihathura (son of 12), became king in 1469 and reigned twelve years.

  14. Minhkaung (son of 13), became king in 1481 and reigned twenty-one years.
    15. Shwenankyawshin (son of 14), became king in 1502 and reigned twenty-five years. He was killed by Thohanbwa or Hso Hom Hpa.

  15. Thohanbwa or Hso Hom Hpa, son of Mohyin Saolon who conquered Ava. He became king in 1527 and reigned sixteen years. He was murdered.

  16. Hkonmaing or Hkun Mong, Saohpa of On Baung or Hsipaw and related to Shwenanshin, was elected king of Awa in 1543 and reigned three years.

  17. Mobye (or Mong Pai) Narapati (son of 17), Saohpa of Mong Pai became king in 1546 and reigned six years and abdicated.

  18. Sithukyawhtin, a Shan chief of Salin, seized Ava and became king in 1552, and reigned three years. He was conqured and deposed by Bayinnaung in 1555.

Source: G.E. Harvey. History of Burma, from “The Earliest Time to March 1824, The Beginning of English Conquest”. London: Frank Case and Co. Ltd., 1967. p. 160.

Appendix III:

Shan Kings of Bago

The following is the list of the Shan kings of Bago of the dynasty established by Wareru in 1287:

  1. Wareru, the Shan chief who established the dynasty but had his capital at Madama. He became king in AD 1287 (S 649) and reigned nineteen years.

  2. Khun-lau’ or Tha Na’ran Bya Keit who became king in 1306 and reigned four years.

  3. Dza’u-a’u or Theng-Mha’ing (nephwe of 2), who became king in 1310 and reigned thirteen years.

  4. Dzau-dzip, or Binya-ran-da (brother of 3) who became king in 1323 and reigned seven years.

  5. Binya-e’-la’u (son of 2, Khun-lau and cousin of 4) who became king in 1330 and reigned eighteen years.

  6. Byinya-u or Tseng-Pyu-Sheng (son of 4 and cousin of 5), who restored the ancient capital Bago or Hansawadi. He became king in 1348 and reigned thirty-eight years.

  7. Binya-nwe, or Ra’dza’ Di-rit (son of 6) who became king in 1385 and reigned thirty-eight years.

  8. Binya Dham-ma Ra’-dza (son of 7) who became king in 1423 and reigned three years.

  9. Binya-Ra’n-kit (brother of who became king in 1426 and reigned twenty years.

  10. Binya-Wa-ru (nephew of 9) who became king in 1446 and reigned four years.

  11. Binya Keng (cousin of 10) who became king in 1450 and reigned three years.

  12. Mhau-dau (cousin of 11) who became king in 1453 and reigned seven months.

  13. Queen Sheng Tsau Bu or Binya-dau’ who became queen in 1453 and reigned seven years.

  14. Dham-ma Dze-di (cousin of 13) who became king in 1460 and reigned thirty-one years. He did not belong to the royal family.

  15. Binya Ran’ (son of 14 and son-in-law of 13) who became king in 1491 and reigned thirty-five years.

  16. Ta-ka’-rwut-bi (son of 15) who became king in 1526 and reigned fourteen years.He was conquered and deposed by Tabeng-Shweti, king of Taungoo in 1540.

Source: Sir Arthur P. Phayre. History of Burma, Including Burma Proper, Taungu, Tenasserim and Arakan. London: 1883. pp. 290-291. 

Meanwhile from Toungoo Kingdom, in the year 1555 A.D. King Bayinnaung succeeded in unifying the whole of Burma for the second time in our history.

He was able to “persuade’ the Shan Saw Bwa to submit his suzerainty. In accordance with the traditions of the earlier Burmese Kings, the administrative setup was that the Shan Saw Bwas who submitted to the suzerainty of the Burmese King retained full powers to rule over their kingdom.

This relationship was based on mutual respect.The military forces of Burma included contingents of Shan soldiers who proved their valour on the foreign battlefields.

That is how Shan and Burmese descendents had lived closely together, like brethren, till the fall of Upper Burma in 1886.

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

We could see in the above mentioned era how Shans  migrated and grew mightier.

We should study how political, economical, social and philosophical patterns changed according to their coming.

To sum up again, after the fall of Bagan , Ava kingdom was built in 1364 M.E.

Subsequently, until Pinya, Sagaing and Myinsaing  eras, the power of Bagan collapsed and rebellious small kingdoms spread.

When the invading conqueror Shans came across Burmese, they accepted the Buddhist cultures and Burmese customs.

In this case, the saying, ‘conquerors are conquered’ need to be explained thoroughly.

Anyway no one is sure the source of Shan ancestors’ conversion to Buddhism. We should consider the fact that Shans had very good relations with Mon and Khamars. Shans could even get the Buddhism directly from them. (This is my personal idea only without reference. So I may be wrong. Please do not take this fact seriously as I am a non Buddhist and not an historian) We could see that Shan Pagodas look more like Thai and Cambodia Pagodas than our Burmese.

This episode of the history, Shans’ conquering over the  Burma, I have just highlighted is regarded by Myanmar governments as a taboo.  Our successive Bama governments’ history text books just used to mention one line only and always skipped forward to the glorious Burmese warrior Toungoo King Baying Naung who successfully established the 2nd Bama Empire.  

Burma’s Saffron Revolution leader, Revered Monk, Sayadaw (abbot) U Gambira

Burma‘s Saffron Revolution leader

Revered Monk, Sayadaw (abbot)

U Gambira

Dr San Oo Aung 

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Sayadaw (abbot) U Gambira,  is a prominent Buddhist clergy, who took a leading role in the August and September peoples’ protest in Burma.

In August 2007, SPDC announces the sudden increase in fuel prices. That cause a devastating effect of Burmese people as especially the food and basic necessities prices increased along with the massive inflation but there was no increase in consumer earning power not only for the poor but even for the average ordinary citizens.

Mass peaceful protests nationwide started on 21 September 2007. At first it was led by Buddhist monks. U Gambira, 27 year old monk was the leader organizing, instigating and leading all the monks. Only after a few days only ordinary people dare to support and took part and went down into the streets, protesting against the government, calling for a reduction in commodity prices, release of political prisoners and national reconciliation.

Beginning on 21 September 2007, the numbers of demonstrators increased considerably, with estimated numbers ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. Demonstrations on this scale have not been seen since the nationwide protests in 1988, which were violently suppressed by the authorities with the killing of approximately 3,000 peaceful demonstrators.  

Bae Thu Thay Thay_ Nga Tae Mar_Pyee Yaw.

That is sheer selfishness, self-interest, self-centeredness or egocentricity. We could call in a modern term, MYOB meaning “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” or to ‘take care of our own self first’ policy. This has been the priority culture that practices by almost all of us, nowadays. Yes this provides a great advantage to the ruling Myanmar Military government when things related to Myanmar’s affairs.

This MYOB have deeply imbedded in our thinking process daily and putting chills of fear up into our spines coupled with the prospects of rewards if we just keep quiet or nod our heads or could reap the best rewards if we could support, praise and also greased the palms of various level of military authorities.

The monks of Burma are not prepared to kill for anything or anyone nor even a tinniest of a creature. But U Gambira had managed to successfully lead them to come out on to the roads ready to sacrifice for the benefit of their people. The simple gesture of the unarmed praying monks taking to the streets and standing their ground before the bayonets and tanks of the military junta sends out a clear message to the SPDC regime that while they have the guns and tanks it is the monks and the people who now command the moral high ground.

Although I was quite young, I still remember the images of the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire in the about fifty years ago in Saigon, now renamed Ho Chin Minh city. The monks were protesting against the corrupt Vietnamese regime of that time. 

Later only I learnt that The South Vietnamese government troops had opened fire to disperse students and monks, who were banned from carrying Buddhist flags on Wesak Day. The Buddhist leadership quickly organized a protest that led to several monks burning themselves to death. 

I felt the déjà vu feeling when I saw the Burmese monks’ protests.

History always repeats itself but sometimes strangely in reverse condition. That South Vietnamese government was supported by USA and against the communists. Now the SPDC is the illegitimate children of communist/socialist General Ne Win and supported by communist China again. (China is becoming a Nga Pwa Gyi in both situations.) That Vietnamese government who shot monks was eventually toppled. We hope the same happens in Myanmar soon.  

Myanmar Tatmadaw should realize that it has lost all the remaining credibility, even if they have a few, not only in the eyes of its own people but more crucially for the world as well.

And by taking the stand that they have and keeping to it, Sayadaw U Gambira and our revered monks have shown the world that religion can also be a living dynamic force in the politics and is not a pariah faith to be locked in the sacred precinct of temples, churches, pagodas and churches. The only important fact is that the religion must be used with care and not to divide the people, races and religious followers but for the benefit of the country and humanity.

In Buddhism, Sanghas or Monks are revered in the same rank as Lord Buddha and Dharma, teachings or rules and regulations or Laws of Buddhism taught by Buddha. In Burmese, “Pha Yar_Ta Yar_Sangha” are held in the highest regard amongst the Burmese Buddhists. No one dare to insult Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, except SPDC and its thugs.

After Gautama Buddha’s Parinirvana, Sanghas maintain and preserve the teachings of the Buddha, as the guardians of Buddhism. All the Buddhists in Burma regarded Sanghas as the sons of Buddha who carry on the torch of enlightenment and march forward, continue to propagate and disseminate the Buddha’s teachings.

The protest began on Aug 19 after the government raised fuel prices. Initially, the protest involved only civilians but the impact changed dramatically when the monks took to the streets. 

Sept 26 was a sad day for Burma, when the Myanmar Tatmadaw opened fire on unarmed civilian protestors and Buddhist monks. Soldiers and police fired tear gas, clubbed protesters and arrested hundreds of monks in an attempt to quash the uprising.

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Hundreds of deaths were reported, but the SPDC tried its best to cover-up and destroy the evidences. They did not hesitate to use force even against those unarmed Buddhist monks peacefully charting prayers. Even the very old and young monks were kicked and beaten by the ruthless soldiers and shoved them onto trucks.

Doors of their monasteries were broken; things were ransacked and taken away. Few thousands of monks were arrested. There are reports creeping out across the iron sieve reporting that many of them have been tortured and killed or died because of the wounds inflicted during the arrest and torture. Some monks go into hiding, some flee abroad, some are dead, but the fate of many more remains unknown.

Buddhist monks are greatly revered for their exceptionally humble, harmless and peaceful way of life. If the military rulers can act so ruthlessly against such defenseless spiritually inclined monks, it is frightening to imagine what more they are capable of doing to others less spiritual.Now the junta is openly hunting for four monks who it says are the ringleaders of the biggest uprising against the government in 20 years.

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“Many monks are still hiding, at the homes of people, or on the top floors of apartment buildings,” one escaped monk, who gave his name as Vida, told reporters in northern Thailand. “It is dangerous for anyone who goes out. We are worried about our friends, especially those who have been arrested or have disappeared.”

”We saw that the military is very brutal, and we think a lot of people must have been tortured or killed. We plead with the international community to support us in any way you can.”

U Gambira, the leader of the All Burma Monks Alliance, managed to speak by phone from an undisclosed location in Myanmar to a public meeting at the Asia Society in New York.

He told of daily arrests at monasteries. He told that there were many soldiers surrounding the Buddhist monasteries and also in the streets. 

Have our hopes and prayers for the rapid democratic change in Burma is totally crushed to a hopeless situation?

Have the pro-democracy protesters been defeated totally and there is no more hope left for all of us?

When a government resorts to bullets and clubs to suppress peaceful demonstrators, you know they have lost all moral authority and it is just a matter of time before the regime is dumped into the ash heap of history.

Anil Netto

The Burmese people have taken all that batons, bullets, cruelty and hard labour can give. But it is the Burmese junta that has lost all moral credibility – a long time ago. And thus, it is just a matter of time before these ruthless generals are unceremoniously booted out – with or without Asean’s help.

You see, it is no longer a worldly struggle but also a spiritual battle. That explains why the monks have been at the forefront of the struggle, the same way that priests and nuns led the People Power revolution in the Philippines that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In the evening of 25 September 2007, the authorities began a crackdown on the protesters, introducing a 60-day 9pm-5am curfew and issuing public warnings of legal action against protesters.  Arrests of reportedly at least 700 people have followed in the former capital Yangon, the second-biggest city, Mandalay, and elsewhere.  Among those arrested in Yangon were monks, members of parliament from the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), other NLD members and other public figures.  

Websites and internets blogs carrying information and photographs of the demonstrations were blocked; internet lines were cut. Telephone lines and mobile phone signals to prominent activists and dissidents were also cut.  

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U Gambira, as a leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance had spearheaded the nationwide protests. He became a fugitive following the deadly Sept. 26-27 crackdown on protesters nationwide.

SPDC had arrested the family members of U Gambira, and shamelessly declared that they will not release them until U Gambira has been detained.  At first, U Gambira could successfully avoid the government authorities but had to giveup to safe his family as SPDC had cowardly arrested his family as a ransom.

  1. Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw, the younger brother of U Gambira and secretary of the National League for Democracy in Pauk Township, Magwe division, was arrested in Rangoon.
  2. Another brother, Ko Win Zaw, a HIV/AIDS patient, was also arrested in their hometown of Pauk.
  3.  U Gambira’s mother and sister were also arrested by the township police in Meikhtila in Mandalay division. 
  4. U Min Lwin, his father and another sister had to be on the run.   The military intelligence officer who arrested U Gambira’s family members shamelessly told them they would not be released until U Gambira is detained.

Like other detained political dissidents they were at very high risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

The following is a statement recorded by RFA:

“My situation is not good. I have slept without shelter for two nights. I am not very well now. My security is pretty bad,” he said, speaking from an undisclosed location.

“Now these fellows are trying to butcher me. Now if you are done talking, as soon as you hang up, I have to move somewhere…”

“The important thing for overseas Sanghas [monks] is to carry out the Burmese cause continuously, with unity. At the moment, as you know, we cannot do anything inside Burma. We have been assaulted very badly. A few got away, a few left. I am still trying to get away but I haven’t succeeded.”

He read the following message to_

  1. U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari,
  2. U.S. President George Bush,
  3. and to the world:

“Mr. (Ibrahim) Gambari… I wish to say,

  • please do something effective and practical for Burma.
  • Measures such as economic sanctions and arms embargo will take time (years) to achieve a political solution. What is most important is for today, for tomorrow.  
  • Please tell Mr. Gambari that I am very grateful for his active participation in Burmese affairs. I have a tremendous respect for him.
  • But please tell him to implement the most effective practical measures in Burma.
  • Please try.
  • Please send U.N. representatives to Burma to carry out various ways and means to get political results now. For today.”

To Buddhists all over the world and activists and supporters of Burmese movement_

  • please help to liberate the Burmese people from this disastrous and wicked system.
  • To the six billion people of the world, to those who are sympathetic to the suffering of the Burmese people, please help us to be free from this evil system.
  • Many people are being killed, imprisoned, tortured, and sent to forced labor camps.
  • I hereby sincerely ask theinternational community to do something to stop these atrocities.
  • My chances of survival are very slim now. But I have not given up, and I will try my best.”Killings, torture, labor camp

I would like to make an appeal to President Bush:

  • Please take pride as a President who has worked hard for Burma to achieve something before his term expires.”
  • “I might not have very long to live.
  • I, Gambira, speaking by phone with you right now, have a very slim chance of survival.
  • Please try your best to relieve our suffering.
  • It will be worse in future when they [the junta] have laid down their roadmap so they can remain in power forever—it will be a blueprint to oppress us systematically.
  • Once they establish their constitution, the Burmese people will suffer for generation after generation.”
  • Reports came out of the arrest of the U Gambira on 4 November. His brother Aung Kyaw Kyaw and father Min Lwin were also arrested in October. Their current whereabouts are not known.
  • U Gambira is believed to have been charged with treason for his role in leading the demonstrations, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty.
  • Other members of his family were arrested as “hostages” in an attempt to force him out of hiding.
  • U Gambira was arrested the same day his article appeared on the Washington Post on November 4, the source said.
  • The source, who talked to the clergy over telephone, said,
  • “He [U Gambira] responded saying that he had been arrested and is now under detention. Then, the line was disconnected.”
  • While how his arrest came about is difficult to confirm, some activists in exile believe it is related to his article, saying it might have given the junta clues to where he was hiding.
  • He was arrested on 4 November in Singaing.  U Gambira is 27 years old and is also a spokesperson for the People’s Movement Leader Committee.
  • U Gambira was arrested from a hiding place in Kyaukse, central Burma, in early November.

According to the news published on Dec 5, 2007 by DVB:

The father of U Gambira, U Min Lwin, who was detained along with his son a month ago, has now been released, according to a family member. Min Lwin and U Gambira were arrested by officers from the police information force and other government officials in Sintgaing Township, Mandalay division, together with a third man named Ko Mondine.

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  • U Gambira, was held at Insein prison since his arrest, while his father was detained at New Mandalay prison.
  • After being held for one month, Min Lwin was released at around 11pm on 3 December. Ko Mondine and two other men from Mandalay division, Pyone Cho from Ma Hlaing Township, and Khin Maung Soe From Htone Bo Township, were released at the same time.  
  • Ko Mondine, Pyone Cho and Khin Maung Soe had been arrested for delivering money to U Gambira.
  • Min Lwin said he did not want to talk about his prison experiences in detail.
  • “I’m very happy that I can meet my family again,” he said.  He said that he would now seek justice for his sons U Gambira and Aung Kyaw Kyaw, who was arrested in Rangoon on 17 October. Both of them remained in detention.
  • Aung Kyaw Kyaw is the younger brother of U Gambira
  • and secretary of the National League for Democracy in Pauk Township, Magwe division. According to the following reports in Irrawaddy,
  • His mother told The Irrawaddy that authorities told U Gambira’s family that he is charged with treason for his leading role in the September mass demonstrations.

U Gambira was born in the town of Pauk in central Burma. He has three brothers and one sister. 

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“I am very worried,” said his mother.

  • “I am so sad for my son and my husband.
  • They might be tortured during interrogation.
  • But I am proud of him [U Gambira].
  • Since his childhood, my son has been active in helping other people.”
  • The monk’s father, Min Lwin, is believed to be in Burma’s infamous Insein Prison, said U Gambira’s mother.
  • U Gambira’s brother, Kyaw Kyaw, was also arrested in October as an exchange while the monk was in hiding.
  • But his brother has not been freed since the monk’s capture.
  • His mother and three other family members were also detained and interrogated before he was arrested.

Detaining of the fugitive political activists’ family members by the SPDC authorities calling for an exchange with the fugitive activist is regarded by the Human rights organizations as a form of criminal inhumane act of illegally “taking hostages”.

The Saffron revolution is not over yet.

  • The SPDC regime’s use of mass arrests, murder, torture and imprisonment
  • has failed to extinguish our desire for the freedom that was stolen from us so many years ago. We have taken their best punch.
  • As the famous saying, “Shwe Ba Ah Sa Nar Myee.” This is just a temporary set-back.
  • There is another Burmese saying_Htow Myi’ Sin_Nauk Ta Hlan_Sohe Thee.
  • The GOOD will always TRIUMPH over the EVIL.
  • Kindly allow me to repeat clearly and firmly again, “our uprising is not over yet!”
  • The SPDC military Junta may control the streets and monasteries,
  • but they will never be able to control the hearts and minds or determination of the Burmese people.

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Now it is the generals who must fear the consequences of their actions.

We adhere to nonviolence, but our spine is made of steel.

There is no turning back.

There is another Burmese saying, Ngoke Mi_Thae Taing. Tet Naing_Phar Yoke.

It matters little if my life or the lives of colleagues, comrades should be sacrificed on this journey as long as our beloved holy, revered monks are leading us.

After all, Sayardaw U Gambari had selflessly sacrificed for all of us.

Our comrade brothers, sisters, children will fill our sandals, and more will join and follow till the Saffron Revolution revolution succeed and dumped the Myanmar Tatmadaw to where they belong, barracks, as the servants and security guards of the Burmese People.

Ah Yae Daw Pone Aung Ya Myi.

Free Sayardaw U Gambari !

FREE DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI!

FREE BURMA!

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Acknowledgement

Many data obtained from_

               

To rebuild our beloved Burma on Moral High Grounds

To rebuild our beloved Burma

on Moral High Grounds

 

Lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,

Whereto the climber upward turns his face;

But when he once attains the up most round,

He then unto the ladder turns his back,

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees

By which he did ascend.

Shakespeare’s – Julius Caesar II.i.22.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Success put us in the higher position. Once at the top_ in Burmese ‘Auk che loot thee’_ we forgot our origin and became very proud and arrogant.

‘Pwint Kaung’ Fish paste and Fish Sauce factory was nationalized. After many years General Ne Win wanted to give back the deteriorating factory to the owner and called the owner, U Pwint Kaung three times. But U Pwint Kaung refused to go back and accept his old factory. When General Ne Win rang up and asked, he replied, “Bogyoke, I could repair the ruined machines but could not changed back the ruined workers”.

General Htun Kyi was removed from the post of the Minister of Trade for corruption but was never tried in open court or punished because of fear of exposing the involvement of the colleagues in the cabinet. He was famously or rather notoriously quoted while still as a Minister:

 “Money can buy any thing you want. If you offer the US ten Dollar note, a hand will come out even from the graveyard to accept it. US hundred Dollar note may attract the whole body to come out to reach it.” When he was removed from office and investigated by the Military Intelligence he shouted at them to go and look at Daw Kyaing Kyaing’s Kyat 200 million worth of diamond earrings which he had given as bribes. So no one dare to continue with the investigations.

Daw Kyaing Kyaing is famous or notorious for her extreme greediness in bribe-taking. Once General Maung Aye was traveling in a helicopter and saw a very long convoy of teak timber lorries. He was angry and ordered his subordinates to take action on those illegal loggers as they were responsible for the deforestation of the hills and making them look like bald-heads. He fell silent when replied that those are Daw Kyaing Kyaing’s peoples and properties.

If we use the concept or philosophy of General Htun Kyi as input into a barometer to gauge the level of corruption in Myanmar Military Rulers the result will be frightening. The corruption of Generals and Government servants spread up to abroad. Myanmar Embassies’ staffs up to the Ambassadors and their family members would go around the Burmese Business communities and use to demand buying for them the latest most expensive hand phones, laptop computers etc… Government Procedure Code 4 or in Burmese ‘Poke ma lay, meaning, Pay hma loke,” that is ‘start work (service) only when bribed’, is widely practiced in the whole Myanmar and had even spread to Myanmar Embassies abroad. It is widely believed that this corruption leads to the burning of the Myanmar Embassy in KL.

Unemployment, insufficient income or low earning power, inflation and scarcity of goods lead to: _

Mushrooming of black-marketers everywhere including smuggling across all the borders and transport to the whole country.

Sprouting of new business of selling and buying of rations, permits and goods obtained by these rights. Even the Military authorities up to the Generals and Cabinet Ministers are practicing this. The army drivers sell their petrol, and wives of ministers use to sell sugars, condensed milk tins, soaps, cosmetics, electrical, building materials like cement and zinc coated corrugated iron sheets etc.

Military authorities and their cronies get nationalized apartments and sold off later. Some of them acquired the government land or the land government had acquired by various methods from the ordinary people. They acquired the building materials, sold part of it which can not only cover the cost of building material but the labour expenses also. Later the finished buildings were sold off with exuberant prices. This circle goes on and including the various levels of Military authorities. They built buildings in every town they were posted and also in their home town with the excuse of settling later after retirement.

Corruption became rampant. All three generations of Military governments’ machinery is plagued with corruption.

There appears a special class of “Sitt, Taung Sar” a homophone in Myanmar. Sounds like the Mayor or ruler of Sittang. But the real meaning Sitt is- inspection, investigation or audit. Taung means ask or demand for bribes. Sar is taking or accepting bribery. (But the corrupt authorities failed to realize that actually that Sit Taung Sar really rhymes with Tha Daung Saar or beggars. As all the people have to work or deal with black markets and smuggling bribery became ticket of survival. Because income is not enough the corruption became essential for many government servants and Military authorities.

Drug smugglers, prostitutes and gamblers are not accepted by the public in general but their easy money some times covered up for most of misdeeds until they are exposed.

Emigration permanently or temporarily also became new phenomena.

Working as sailors or legal and illegal migrant workers in foreign country is also one of the best solutions for the people and country. They bring back hard currency and essential as well as luxury goods.

It is also a blessing in disguise for all the Myanmar people. It forced and changed Burmese into a hard working people. People are working double jobs. In the evening and nights they are taking part time or second job in addition to their regular daytime jobs.

So it is up to the person’s character, moral values and upbringings, whether he is spoilt and degenerated or improved, polished and progressed in this trying hard time.

Corruption is a general concept describing any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system’s original purpose. 

Specific types of corruption include:

1.         Political corruption, corruption of a political system through bribery, intimidation, extortion, vote buying, destabilization, or influence peddling

2.         Police corruption

3.         Corporate crime

4.         People’s corruption

In broad terms, political corruption is the misuse of public (governmental) power for illegitimate, usually secret, private advantage.

All forms of government are susceptible to political corruption. Forms of corruption vary, but the most common are patronage, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, fraud, embezzlement, and nepotism. While corruption often facilitates criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and criminal prostitution, it is not restricted to these organized crime activities, and it does not always support or shield other crimes.

What constitutes illegal corruption differs depending on the country or jurisdiction. Certain political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some countries, police and prosecutors have broad discretion over who to arrest and charge, and the line between discretion and corruption can be difficult to draw, as in racial profiling. In countries with strong interest group politics, practices that could easily constitute corruption elsewhere are sometimes sanctified as official group preferences.

Alexander the Great was retorted by a pirate that because he had a small boat only that he was called a thief and pirate, but as Alexander had a navy so was called an emperor.

Yes! This is an unfair world at that time. He who kills an ordinary person is the murderer and must be punished. But he who killed a king become the ruler and ascends the throne.

There was a very popular joke in Burma (Myanmar). We all know that Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yu was General Ne Win’s best friend.

Mr Lee told Ne Win, “I would be able to turn Burma in to a ‘Singapore’ if you allow me to rule Burma just for only three years”.

Ne Win retorted immediately,” I also could turn Singapore in to ‘Burma’ just in only three months, if you give me a chance.”

That satire spread like a wild fire among all Burmese citizens without the help of any media.

Sure, Ne Win can! He and Myanmar Military Generals would be able to ruin and rob Singapore, till it bankrupt in a very short period.

He already had turned the once wealthy Burma into one of poorest country in the world. Actually Burma before Ne Win was the second most developed and wealthy country in Asia after Japan. Now she is among the least developed countries in the whole world.

If the country or a company or a person is bankrupt we could safe within five years but if the people of a country bankrupt morally, we could not safe and correct back in fifty years that is about one generation.

Successive Myanmar Military Governments not only robbed and ruin the country’s wealth physically but also corrupted and destroyed the peoples’ moral values in to a shambles, shabbiness and shame.

Myanmar Military Governments repeatedly brainwashed the people, by using all his government machinery and propaganda warfare techniques that he had to take over powers because of the historical needs, to save the country from the destructive hands of democracy leaders leading into division as multiple small states.

SLORC and SPDC Generals just echoed the same theme and claimed that they have no choice but to save the country from disintegration in the hand of evil forces. Namely the foreign agents, communists, Ethnic Minorities and rebels were named just to drum up the support making use of the patriotism and nationalistic spirits of the ordinary innocent naive people.

The worst of all, Ne Win planted the corrupted ideology or seed of the ‘Right to rule’ in the mind of the Burma Army. Successive Myanmar Military rulers not only believed and accepted it as a rule but made it in to a doctrine and determined to put it in their new constitution. They conveniently forgotten that the might is neither always right nor supreme but the knowledge or the brain rules the world.

They forgot that the military is the servant and is just like the security guard of the country and the people but not the masters, as they believed. People paid from their various taxes to the Army to protect them from the internal and external enemies, but never appointed the Army Generals to be their masters. The last free and fair General Election clearly proved this. The whole world knows this but the Myanmar Generals had given lame excuses just to hold on the power against the will of the people.

It is obvious that the security guards of a bank have no legal right at all to claim that the Directors and Managers of the bank are incompetent and they, the security guards, have the right to take over and run the bank to ‘save’ it. This is much more serious than criminal breach of trust and abuse of force. It is worse than a simple robbery but a great treachery. Myanmar Military Leaders are doing exactly like these security guards of the bank. The world’s largest and most powerful armies are kept under the control of the civilian Defense Ministers’ command. Even in the communist parties and in the various rebel groups around the world including those in Burma, the political faction keeps the right to command. The Military faction has to obey the orders.

Even in the domain of the wars and battles which is the main task and work for the armies, the Great Generals have no right at all to declare and start a war, or stop the war. Traditionally Political Leaders of the country have to decide these and the Generals have to obey the command, although they may be consulted for their advice and information.

General Ne Win took over the power in March of 1962. Military coups were quite popular in those days of early sixties in Asia, Africa and in Latin America. Now it is out of fashion and most of them reverted back to the civilian rule.

And the concept of Socialism and Communism was also very popular in those countries then because they had a bitter taste of colonialism and equate their western colonial masters with Capitalism and Democracy.

Nowadays only, most of the world realized the ugly side of Socialism and Communism especially because of their associated Authoritarian, Autocratic, Totalitarian and often Tyrant Governments. While the ordinary people have to sacrifice endlessly for the sake of the country, the leaders would enjoy not only all the best in the country but by even importing all the luxuries or went around for luxury tours to those ‘Imperialist, corrupted western Democracies’.

The most important thing is that they fail to deliver their promises of Paradise on Earth. Ordinary people become poorer and there is no sign of any improvement whatsoever after all their sacrifices for the country and party. The worse of all is the fact that those rulers amassed enormous amount of wealth and are enjoying their self-made ‘Paradise’ at the expense of the people. The mother of worse for the Burmese people is the fact that the Myanmar Military rulers have no shame at all but very corrupt and amass all the wealth of the country, not like other pure Socialist or Communist leaders. Country’s political systems were just vehicles or excuses used as a cover up operation or smoke-shield for the continued rule of the army only.

Political leaders and the governments are like the control center and the brain of the country. Military is like the limbs of the body. They have the muscular power, skeletal hard ware and some rudimentary reflexes. The limbs could not take over the place of the brain just because they have the power. They could not justify their act by claiming that they are supporting and defending brain and the whole body. There will be chaos. Myanmar Military is just doing this by giving the same lame excuses.

Like the limbs’ rudimentary reflexes, the Myanmar Military Generals also have a limited education. General Ne Win had not pass the Inter A. (GCE A) And General Saw Maung was rumored to have studied up to Primary School Education, i.e. fourth standard only.

According to the Myanmar Military ‘Socialists’, educated class or intellectuals are undecided, ignorant and corrupted class not to be trusted in their ‘Socialist’ revolution or in the Military.

Actually the Military dictators knew that they could not fool the educated class easily. The intelligent class always uses their heads (brains) and use to question and analyze each and every order. The dictators and especially Military leaders never like that attitude. Subordinates must always obey the command given to them. They have no right to think whether it is right or wrong, just or not.

Command is command. All must obey. Intellectuals have no place under Military rulers. If they do not want to keep their mouth shut, they must be put into detention or leave the country to avoid the dangerous consequences.

In civilized countries the scholar is always placed above the ‘man of war’ believing that “Nations which trusted the gun perished by it earlier”.

But in Myanmar under the Military rulers the opposite of the above rule is always correct. For Myanmar Military, power comes out from the barrel of the gun only. The might is always right for them.

And all the politicians are regarded as untouchables, low class taboo. General Ne Win in earlier days always equates them with the “corrupted, degenerated Parliamentarians” but later he introduced a “rubber stamp” Parliament to support and endorse his rule. And the army and ex-army men monopolized the politics and became Royal politicians.

Myanmar Military governments openly practice Nepotism, Cronyism and never decide on meritocracy alone.

Myanmar Military government is never transparent and is never free from corruption in all the dealings.

There is no check and balance, ACA (Anti Corruption Agency) or any organizations dealing with corruption must be independent from the administrative branch of Government. Newspapers, TVs and all the media must be free and independent to probe and do investigative reports. But those are turned into eunuchs and sycophants by Myanmar Military.

NGOs and other right groups must also not free to express their views nor even allow doing their works freely. All of them and various reporters have no free access to the government and the big companies connected them. These should be allowed as long as there is no real danger of espionage or national security. There is a danger of over protection and trying to hide under the name of national security to avoid exposure of the corruption.

There is no separation of powers in the SPDC Military Government. Administrative power of the head of the government should not let to be able to influence the Judiciary, Attorney General’s office and Legislative assembly.

Governments must accept that they were elected by the people to serve the people. When people give their votes, they are not choosing the masters to whom they are going to serve as obedient slaves. The people are just choosing a servant organization to serve the people. But most of the politicians act as absolute Monarchs or Kings, once they were elected.

Dictators use to claim that people must thank them for the successful guidance of the country to progress and for the government’s use of various budget money for various projects e.g. development, social, welfare and scholarships etc. But they conveniently forgot that people have voted them and even provided with salaries and all the parks they are enjoying and the money or budget they use is not from their own pockets but the peoples’ money in the form of various taxes and revenues.

When these dictators accuse the people of biting the hand who feed, it clearly shows that they even have developed an illusion or delusion of who feeds who and even has a gall to degrade and equate the people with dogs.

There must be enough check and balance as stated above if our opposition groups got power.

And there must be a strict rule to limit the length and terms of the head of the government, for example two terms of five year each. If not, each and every top leader would definitely overstay and slowly becomes a dictator by misusing all his powers to quell and silenced all the dissents. This is just a human nature and greed only. If there is no time or term limits, overstaying of the leaders of their shelf-life is not their fault but our fault of not making the important rules and regulations.

Sometimes he may even think that his mission to build, protect and contribute for the beloved country is not yet completed even after staying in power for few dozens of years. And there is a usual delusion among those leaders that they are indispensable and the country could not exist without their leadership. They sometimes sincerely but erroneously believe that they have to stay on and on for the historical needs of the country.

Even the democratically elected leaders will slowly transform into dictators in time.

Long serving leaders slowly become megalomaniacs and think that the country is there because of them. They equate themselves with the country and even have illusions that there is no one except him who is qualified to rule the country. They even believe that the sky will collapse and the country would be ruined and the chaos would set in if they were not there.

Most of those long-standing regimes try to point out some fellow long survivors to justify their overstaying. Continuity and stable government became their slogan and propaganda for the political battle to stay on in power.

According to them, their stable long serving government only could guarantee peace, bring in foreign investment, ensure continuous development and progress. They use to threaten the people with the possible political and racial riots, if they were replaced.

And many of them will slowly introduce nepotism, bringing in their own children and relatives in to the line of succession. Even if they were not to take over the power immediately, they are carefully groomed to step in later after the immediate successor, who have to warm the seat for the heir apparent.

By using the proxies, e.g. the names of other family members, the children and especially in-laws, they will accumulate wealth by hook or by crook.

Nepotism is rampant and always favours the cronies of Myanmar Army and ex- Army only. No transparency in all the government dealings and corruption have even damaged the whole population nation wide, starting from all the peons and officers of each and every government and local administrative and cooperative or semi government offices up to the Cabinet Ministers. They all will neglect the people and refuse to even entertain if not bribed. Nothing can be done without greasing their palms.

Even the peons will ignore your simple request for the basic information, the guards would not let you in, the application forms will not move from one table to another, or worst of all lost if there is no bribery.

Even in the hospitals, doors will be closed, hospital attendants refuse to push the wheel chair or trolley, no one will look after or nurse the patient. Medical officers ignore the patients if there are no presents or bribes. The consultants skipped the beds and see his own private patients. (The patients they had seen in their private clinics or the relatives have gone to send presents to their houses.) The patients were advised to send their specimens to the private labs for various investigations. Although they are in the government hospital and had paid to the various persons in that ward if they need operation their relatives have to go and see the Anesthetic at home. And they have to buy the stitches, plaster, gauze and etc. from the Operation Theater Staff. If not, no one will assist the patient in the operation. He had to engage a private nurse. Biopsy must be sent to the hospital Pathologist’s Private lab.

If you want to see an officer or a Minister, first of all you have to pay the PA then to the wife or children of the Ministers and Military leaders. You have to engage with the brokers specialized in the various fields and various ministries. And if there is a transfer of the relevant officer or the changing of Ministers, you have to start a new bid. If there is any ceremony, birthday, wedding etc. interested parties have to give expensive presents, jewelry, cars, gold bars and few thousands to millions of bank notes preferably the US dollars. To get the various contracts and permits, there are even generally agreed percentages to pay to various parties involved. Foreign investors need to pay up to millions of US dollars. If Ministers wives go for shopping to Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or etc. the related foreign investors have to follow them and need to settle the bills.

We are mentioning the corrupt practices of the present government and government servants so that we could avoid those kinds of corruptions if we form a new government.

Myanmar Military rulers are reported to have organized and have even donated a lot nowadays. I hereby wish to remind all of you to please remember the teachings of our Lord Buddha. Don’t degrade your good-selves into the role of organizer, contractor or carpenters who have no chance of staying inside the pagodas and temples you built. Please do not just contempt been a gardener or farmer but enjoy the fruits yourselves.

Please enjoy the fruits of Dahma and practice what Lord Buddha taught us.

Redemption is never late.

There is a well-known saying in the Army,” (We)Do not want to know about the hole in the water bottle. We want water only.”

In the army you don’t want excuses. You want results only. That means: the order must be fulfilled without any excuse.

Please stop the excuses and give us democracy with the respect of the rights of the minorities, as promised by your predecessor General Saw Maung.

According to the Transparency International’s 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index, Myanmar is in the second last group position only because the corruptions of the politicians add up a lot on other countries. Actually 90% of politicians in most of Asia/Africa are corrupted. But most of the politicians in Burma/Myanmar are in opposition, no power; many of them in jail or outside the country, the marks of corruption of Politicians are almost nil and lost the honour of the last place in corruption Perceptions Index. If not Myanmar could get the last place and even could score 0.001. (10 =highly clean and 0 =highly corrupt, so 0.001 is very close to highly corrupt).

  “Today’s survey shows that people believe corruption is deeply embedded in their countries,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.

“When a poor young mother believes that her government places its own interests above her child’s, or that securing services like that child’s basic health care requires a hand under the table, her hope for the future is dampened. But embedded corruption can be rooted out when people join together to change the system that facilitates it.”

The Barometer indicates that corruption’s impact on personal and family life is most dramatic on poor households. In addition, citizens in low income countries tend to pay a significantly larger percentage of their income in bribes than in higher income countries.

 “Like a bad disease, corruption is often predictable, preventable and curable,” stated David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of Transparency International.

“The Global Corruption Barometer offers a harsh diagnosis, but effective treatment is at hand. Legal changes such as anti-corruption codes and conventions are being put in place. Companies are introducing anti-corruption programmes. The world is turning against the corrupt.”

Bribery is usually a hidden or tacit transaction. An illegal payment may be understood to be required in order to obtain a free service, or to speed up delivery of a required approval, such as a business permit or license, or to resolve a problem, even when a bribe is not explicitly demanded.

 “An unspoken request for payment is no less corrupt than an open demand for a bribe, especially if refusing to pay means that you may not get the medicine you need to survive,” said Huguette Labelle.

SPDC Generals could not be able to clear away the accumulated mass of rubbish of its own doing: corruption, mismanagement, and the deteriorating condition of the people’s, physical health, moral corruptions, psychological sufferings, religious intolerances, economical destruction, low GDP, low earning power, rising cost of living and legal mess. Burma as the country is financially poor economically ruined and Burmese people are physically and mentally weak nowadays. We need strong mental strength and willpower, mobilizing all the people of Burma and of course with the help of the whole world.

So if we really are patriotic, love Burma/Myanmar and wish the country to prosper, peaceful and progress, we must recruit the help of all the Burmese people residing inside and abroad, opposition parties, all the ethnic minority groups and different race and religious groups to reeducate our citizens about the good moral values.

We certainly could correctly read rampant corruption among many of us and has summed up quite accurately that many of us ignore the good moral values. We are able to deduct that even if we obtain our second independence in the not too distant future our country’s future is not very bright.

As politics is not a science but an art, very fluid and could change any time. We cannot read and predict the politics using arithmetical calculations or what we experience at present only. And surely the 8888 saga should have taught us that by now that a small spark could surprisingly trigger big political changes in a short time. Yes, in politics, expect the unexpected. Even 24 hours is a very long time in politics.

We the Reformists fight for equality, justice, transparency, good governance, an end to corruption, but all such ideals have to build on high moral grounds. If we just build our future progressive Shwe Bama country on the easy sand or shaky moral ground we are sure doomed to collapse in a very near future. We should rebuild our future paradise on the solid rock of moral ground. We were to follow and face the nature’s rules of “being in reality”, it means that we have to accept the reality of Burmese politics and we have to give a little leeway for some imperfection but could not compromise on morality.

Many Burmese “political geniuses” in opposition are prone to promote their own party only and downgrade other parties. See how “wise” and “realistic” they are when comes to Burmese Politics? We have to see the forest not the trees. And now in this globalize world, we have to see even various kind of jungles and numerous trees and not just only our way and our own party ways to see the true equation in Burmese politics.

There is a saying that if a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water, it would immediately jump out to avoid death. Conversely however, if the frog is placed in cool and pleasant water and slowly heated, it would swim merrily in the increasingly warm water until it is too late to escape and is eventually cooked. But scientifically speaking, the above metaphor may be factually wrong. But the wisdom contained within it is however not. Corrupt Burmese citizens may one day awake to experience a very different melting pot, one like 1950’s. We got democracy but almost all of us are morally corrupted and we could face a lot of problems and turmoil endlessly.

Myanmar SPDC Military Generals believe that their incompetence can be covered up through an exhibition of power. Basically, there is a lack of good leadership and this has much to do with the fear culture currently prevalent within the military administration. No one dares to take a stand on his belief or for the truth. If the head of the Military Junta is rotten then what more can you expect from the subordinates?

Late PM of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told his daughter, Benarzir Bhutto (who also later became the PM and suffer the same faith, deposed by the Military):

“Don’t be an idiot (to believe the Army Generals), armies do not take over power to relinquish it. Nor do the Generals commit high treason (Coup against the legitimate governments) to hold election and restore democratic constitutions.”

True! General Zia of Pakistan promised in July 1977 that elections would be held within three months. But he repeatedly gives excuses and postponed it for eleven years until he died in a plane crash. So we should wait for another person from Myanmar, who is doing the same thing to follow the same faith.

At the present corrupted life goes on within the Myanmar civil service without check and balance or even without a guilty consciousness. But then you must know how to lie. SPDC is hopeless. Their lie of seven steps of the road to democracy is exposed and the whole world knows that they are deceiving.

There is no central umbrella leadership in the various opposition groups so everyone seems to be doing what they like. If possible we should try to unite ourselves first.  But now anyone who dares to complain about the true situation of corruption and some of the problems in the opposition will find the entire group making his life miserable by accusing as SPDC agents or spies. If someone from within the same party has done a criticism, then he has to worry of the ‘Pushed into a Gauge’ that could even destroy his life or his peace. See what happened to ABSDF Upper Burma, hundreds of students were arrested without a substantial proof and about half of them were executed unfairly without even given them the chance to defend themselves or even showing any proof. (Relevant students’ relatives had complaint to the UN, US, UK and Japanese Embassies) Up to now, no one from ABSDF is trying to clear the air yet and future student activists would think twice before joining the rebels at the border. The truth with Politics is about the attainment of power. It is plain and simple. I would call ‘telling your version of the truth’, is very much part and parcel of the political game. A good politician, must master the art of even twisting the truth, or spin doctoring i.e. giving the people your version of the truth and we can call it a propaganda warfare or counter offensive. Because politics is about perception. It is how people perceive you that counts and not only what you really are.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote in his ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack’ in 1759:

“A little neglect may breed mischief … for want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse, the rider was lost.” Here the mischief is not little!

We could not even neglect or brush aside one of the above facts as minor and not important but must consider in detail each and every facts.

So I hereby wish to request our politicians to stop playing dirty politics. We all should try to become true freedom fighters but not the opposition politicians to earn back the rewards after the revolution or to collect the money that is really meant for the opposition activities . If all of us really love our country to become a progressive wealthy secular democratic Federal Union we need to nurture good moral values.

Not only do we need to educate our citizens about the good moral values but we must also practice what we preached. And I remember one of my professors’ good advice, “Teaching is the best way to learn”. Seems awkward? In order to teach someone or a class, the teacher or lecturer has to read a lot, must understand the subject thoroughly and must be equipped with the up to date latest information. Even I my self managed to learn a lot just to be able to write this article.

Wake up all Burmese/Myanmar citizens. We need renaissance of the religions we professed to. We need strong Moral and Religious Values to cleanse ourselves. We do not need the religions to fight each other. We need religions to purify ourselves. Even if we no more have a shame or self-consciousness or guilty feelings we all should afraid of Buddha, Jesus or Allah (according to our beliefs). Religions should be used to pull us out of that corruption whirl. If not even if we get our second independence our country’s future would not be brighter.  

BO AUNG DIN 

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Comments

U Myo Nyunt, Myanmar Studies, Perth, Western Australia, said _

Dear  Bo Aung Din,

                                Emanating from your heart, the inner mind— mind mind,  Burma (Myanmar) freedom can be achieved through the “people’s will”– the people of  Burma.
Those who have once propagated  “the end of history”  and “the clash of civilizations” have now shifted their messages of perpetual domination through “new imperialism and capitalism” by their  political  agenda to combat and  wipe out  “terrorism”.

There is no end to  history, it unfolds.

The present “crisis”  in  Burma, is  the reflection of the  “value wars”  of the  twenty first century.

Back to the path— the  Noble Path. Burma (Myanmar)  peoples  life and  destiny is in our  own hands and in practicing the Buddha Dharma.  Perhaps as   Buddhists— we can accept  the existing reality in  our  country- Nation, and have faith in the  last words of The Buddha—  “strive on”. Dalai Lama in our  midst now has  also pointed out with other words :

 “all living beings form a spontaneous idea of self “

Myanmar (Burma), as a  “space” where we as Burmese democrats can  contribute to  life (human security) and peace (  even handed justice) rather than assist others attempt to Burma’s destruction and dissolution.

Towards Peace, Security  and Justice in  Myanmar (Burma)

Conla Fru said _

Good article! Successive military regime created/creates this environment of highly-corrupted society. If one gets a job, the first question his/her friend or relatives ask is “in what department?” just to know if he/she can make a lot of money from this post. The whole society is suffering from this pandemic corruption disease.

Say Young Sone Anyein, video 1 to 6

Say Young Sone Anyein,

video 1 to 6

You Tube Video source through Niknayman’s blog ( thank you Ko Niknayman for the videos)

We like to praise the courage of the Comedians after watching the Jokes of the Anyein performance , which is usually combined with the traditional dance with the jokes.

 

However the Jokes made by the famous comedians, Godzilla, King Kong,and the others make all of us laughing at the same times feel deep sorrow as we all know that these comedians were crying in their heart while making the Jokes to express the feeling for the 50 millions Burmese, who’s mouths were sealed by the Military Junta.

For the non Burmese readers I am unable to translate their jokes as they smartly and bravely used the Myanmar Language, Culture and tradition with current situation of Burma in indirect words. Myanmar Language is difficult to translate in its true essence as meaning may change with different intonation.

Following is my favourite quote regarding humor and the fight for democracy which was originally from Irrawaddy On-line.

Sit Mone

VCD Political Comedy

Draws Laughter in Rangoon

By Shah Paung
December 21, 2007
The generals who run Burma don’t like it when the joke’s on them, but political satire and humor are alive in military-ruled Burma.

A popular VCD depicting a traditional anyein performance is now selling like hot cakes in Burma. An anyein is like a variety show with comedians, singing and dancing.

The performance took place at Myaw Zin Gyun near Rangoon’s lake Kan Daw Gyi on November 24.

Well-known comedians including Godzilla, King Kong and Kyaw Htoo and four comedians known as “Thee Lay Thee” performed live in spite of a warning from authorities.

Before going on stage, Godzilla was asked to sign a document saying he would not make political jokes.

The comedian troupe is known as “Say Young Sone” (The Colorful).

The comedians quickly ignored the authorities and began cracking jokes about the military and the September uprising, drawing laughter and cheers from the audience.

The comedians targeted the September uprising, the regime’s municipal policy, the junta-backed Union Solidarity Development Association, religion and UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari.  

A VCD of the performance is now widely available in Rangoon despite a ban imposed by the government.
 
One youth in Rangoon said that since last week the VCD has been on sale on the streets. He said he bought 10 copies to share with his friends.

One of the most popular bits is when two comedians portray UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari and Minister of Information Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan, who is dubbed as “Comical Ali.”

Kyaw Hsan begins touching the legs of Gambari—the duo then gradually begin to touch mouths, eyes, ears and heads.

Gambari finally says he knows what Kyaw Hsan’s up to.

“This man does not know about “Myanmar!” [Burma],” says Kyaw Hsan.

Finally, the two stand up and can not touch each other any more.

“Your dollars are falling out!” says Kyaw Hsan, pointing to the floor. 

Gambari quickly bends over and picks up a US dollar. Kyaw Hsan kicks Gambari in the rear, shouting “This is Myanmar!”

Recently, the UN special envoy’s budget of more than $800,000 was approved for 2008 to work toward national reconciliation. The Nigerian diplomat has a Burmese nickname, “kyauk yu pyan,” which means “one who takes gems and then leaves.”

The performance also touched on Bagan Airline, which is  owned by Burmese business tycoon Tay Za.

Snr-Gen Than Shwe was satirized as a man who acted like a king and who treated his “servants” (comedians) like slaves. The servants finally punished the king by beating him. 

The Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma began broadcasting the VCD performance on its satellite television network on Thursday.

Our Islamic roots in China

china_map.pngchina_ethnolinguistic_83.jpg  Our Islamic roots in China

We hereby want to mention the propagation of Islam in China.

Facts taken and summarized from_

1. “The Root of Islam in China”  by Haji Kahar Hoh Kok Hoong, from the article in Islamic Herald, PERKIM.

2. And Wikipedia China and Islam articles.

3. My article, Panthay Muslims or Myanmar Chinese  Muslims

In China many Muslims are said to be from Huis and some are from Hans. Islam went to China through the ‘Silk Road’, a transcontinental pas­sage from Turkey in Europe across Asia right into Sin-kiang province of northwestern China, the homeland of the Huis.

The word ‘Hui’ is actually an abbreviation derived from three Chinese characters pro­nounced as ‘Hui vu er’ which means Huighur or Uighur; the name of a nomadic tribesmen.

When China became a republic, President Dr. Sun Yat­sen classified the fifty-six differ­ent races of people into five major categories i.e. the Hans, the Mans, the Mongs, the Huis and the Chuangs, with its first five-colour national flag (Red’, yellow, blue, white and black) representing them.

The Hans are the ‘Children of Yan Huang’ (Emperor Yan and Emperor Huang), living on the southern side of the Great Wall of China and right down to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.  The Mans are the Manchurians of northeast­ern China.  The Mongs are Mongolians of Inner-Mongolia Province of China.  The Chuangs are the Tibetans of Tibet Province of China. 

The Huis; the collective name for the various tribesmen such as Huighurs, Kazaks, Salars, Tajiks, Tatars etc, lived along the Chinese-Russian border and beside the ‘Silk Road’ in Sin­kiang Province of China which the westerners refer it as Eastern Turkistan.

Long before the advent of Islam in Saudi Arabia the Arabs were already brave seafarers and excellent navigators.  Arab mer­chants were trading well with China and Southeast Asia. 

Our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. knew that China was a civilized and prosperous nation and so advised, “Seek knowledge even as far as unto China”. 

The historical records the arrival of Islam in China varies with dates ranging from 571 A.D. during the Sui Dynasty to 651 A.D. the Tang Dynasty.  According to a Muslim legend, Islam was first preached in China as early as the Sui Dynasty by a maternal uncle of our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. for his reputed tomb at Canton is highly venerated by Muslims there until now.  Ano­ther popular legend, Islam went to China in 628 AD brought by three companions of our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.

In the history of China, Islam first arrived at the Port of Canton (now Guangzhou) in southern China during the early Tang Dynasty in 651 AD. by the ‘Silk-voyage’.  Muslim mis­sionaries sailed through the Red Sea, across the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean; through the Straits of Malacca and across the South China Sea.  They traded with the countries along the shores of this sea route as well.

The third Caliph Osman of the Kingdom of Tasik, the Kingdom of Arabia then, dispatched an emissary to Chang Ann; the Capital city of the Tang Dynasty, to pay homage to the emperor and also introduced the social, cultural ethnic and religion of Islam to him. There were many Muslims residing in China at that time.

In fact the first Masjid outside the sacred land Makkah; The Prophet’s Memorial Masjid or the Kwang-ta Qi (the Bright-tower Masjid) was built in Canton. Arab maritime traders stayed mainly in Canton. Special residence areas and cemeteries were allotted for Muslims where-by tombstones with Arabic inscriptions can still be found there. They inter-married with local Hans and adopted Chinese surnames and even Chinese names. Some of the prominent ones were awarded Chinese surnames by the emperor. They preached Islam to the Hans, especially some of the intellectuals quietly embraced Islam.

The Huis were at those time still wanderers in the wild steppes of northwestern China.  But somehow the western and non-Muslim writers linked Islam, Hui and the ‘Silk Road’ together and thought the Huis were the prime and only Muslims in China.

Western historians also stressed that thousands of Muslims had already rushed into China by the ‘Silk Road’ in 751 AD, after the Tang Empire lost Central Asia to the Abbasids in the war at Taraz.  The Tang emper­or seek help from Samarkand (Samarkand was Timur’s royal city, celebrated its 2500th anniversary in 1970. It is an ancient site, located in modern-day Uzbekistan.)  and Abbasid soldiers to crush the revolt of his general Ann Lu-shan  of Turkey origin.  All these sol­diers stayed back in Sin-kiang and were later assimilated into the Hui race.  These events hap­pened during the sixth emperor of Tang, i.e. two hundred years after the Arab-Muslims settled down in Canton, Chuanahou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, Emgzhou and other southern cities of China and developed good relation­ships with the Hans.

During the Song Dynasty 960AD-1279AD, the govern­ment then was very liberal and allowed its subjects to practice in whatever religions they be­lieved.  Islam expanded fast into the interior of China. The import and export trades of China were almost in the hands of the Muslims; they monopolized the beef and mutton; the precious stones and carpets business as well.  Islam spread fast and became another major reli­gion with more and more Hans embracing it.

In 1250 AD Islam was so popular that an Arab merchant who won the Chinese name from the Emperor as Pu’ Shou-keng, was even appointed as the Superintendent of Merchant shipping at the Port of Chuan­zhou in southerrn China.  He owned great wealth and con­ducted a mercantile fleet bet­ween China and Saudi Arabia. 

In 1270 AD Sayyid Edjill Chams ed-Din Omar a great grandson of our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W of the 31 st. generation, was made the governor of Yunan Province in southern China. 

In 1279 AD China was invaded for the first time by the Mongolians from outside the Great Wall of China and had its name changed to Yuan Dynasty.

During the Yuan Dynasty 1279 AD – 1368 AD, after Ghengis Khan conquered the whole of Asia and part of Europe; as far as the plain of Hungary, he returned with his multiracial military hordes of Turks, Persians, Babylonians Syrians and other middle-east mercenary soldiers to China. 

Besides ensuring his relations and kins in positions along the ‘Silk Road’ he stationed warriors and fighters in various cities and major towns of China to assist him to rule the Hans who out­numbered the Mongols many times.  The Mongol Empire was so powerful that the ‘Silk Road’ was completely under its control. Some Arabs migrated to Central Asia with many residing in Sin Kiang Province of China.

The Yuan dictator divided his people into three classes.  Of course the first class were the Mongols themselves.  The sec­ond class was his loyal and faithful foreign Muslims and their families and the third class were the defeated Hans of vari­ous religions.

The Huis embraced Islam in very large numbers.  Subsequently Hui-Muslims grew tremendously and Islam was eventually named after them as ‘Hui Chiaw’ the Hui-rehgion.  Till today there are less than ten per­cent of Huis who are not Muslims.  As in the Chinese language ‘Hui Chiaw’ is more easier to pro­nounce than’Yi Si Lan Chiaw’, ‘Hui Chiaw’ automatically became the official name for Islam in China.  Furthermore some Han Muslims (the descendants of the intermarriage between Hans and Arabs also called themselves Huis for the sake of not to be despised by the authority. The Yuan Government lasted for only ninety over years (the shortest dynasty in Chinese history) and was overthrown by the Hans again and named it the Ming Dynasty.

During the Ming Dynasty 1368AD-1644AD, Islam flourished; because its first em­peror Chu Hoong-vu was a Muslim himself. 

There are sever­al distinguish features to support this claim such as:

 

(i)    his empress was a well known Muslim as stated in the Chinese history;

 

(ii)      all his daily food and drinks were under strict supervision and scruti­nized by the empress her-self.  In other words he ate only halal meals;

 

(iii)     he wrote a ‘One Hundred Words Praise’ poem in Chinese to honour our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W, the first and only emperor in China to have written such an inscription while the calligraphy of the poem was carved on a wooden board carefully preserved in the Nanking Masjid until now; and

 

  • (iv) he entrusted the life of his son to a Muslim soldier Cheng Ho.

But there is nothing written about his faith in Chinese history, because he knew very well that his subjects, mostly belonged to other religions,  would not like to be ruled by a Muslim emperor.

Muslims then, no matter of whatever origins, were treated equally and lived peacefully and harmoniously with each other.  Foreign Muslim settlers were easily assimilated into the Han’s way of life, absorbed into the Chinese civilization.  In every major port and city Muslims community set up its own coun­cil headed by kadis and imams. 

According to a Muslim mer­chant, Sayyid Akbar; in the city of Kenjanfu alone, there were as many as thirty thousand Muslim families.  They were exempted from paying taxes by the emper­or, enjoyed complete toleration in exercising their religion and any­one on his own free will be per­mitted to embrace Islam.

Besides, Muslim charity-homes and welfare centers shel­tered and nestled Han orphan in time of famine and disaster.  When famine occurred in other tropical countries, peo­ple there can at least eat roots of bushes or barks of trees, but in China its lands are so barren that when disruptions in nature occurred, people can only filled their stomachs with ‘Kwanin Tu’ (the mud of the Goddess of Mercy).  One example, during a famine that devastated the province of Kwangtung left more than ten thousand homeless Han children seeking refuge in these institutions.  These youngsters were brought up and taught to be good Muslims.  Furthermore mil­itary officers reverted most of their soldiers serving under them to Islam and they took advantage of the their authorities to win new brothers.  Thus the number of conversion to Islam through this were countless.

The most remarkable thing was that the emperor even gave Islam a new name i.e. ‘Ching Cheng Chiaw’ which mean Pure and True Religion to replace ‘Hui Chiaw’. The name for Islam written in Chinese had been regularized but then changed for more than thirty times from the first one ‘Ah La Bi Chiaw’ to ‘Hui Chiaw’ (‘Chiaw’ in Chinese means religion).

He also assigned a young Muslim soldier, Muhammad Cheng Ho to protect his prince, the heir to his throne.  When this prince succeeded him to be the second Ming emperor, he pro­moted this faithful bodyguard to the rank of Admiral and sent him set to the sacred land Makkah and south east Asia to search for his long lost brother as many as seven times. 

Each time Admiral Cheng Ho led a fleet of about one hundred ocean-bond vessels carrying more than twen­ty-five thousand soldiers and sailors.  Its flagship alone was fifty feet wide, four hundred feet long weighing one thousand five hundred tons. (This fleet when estimated at that time is compa­rable with the Seventh Fleet of the United States of America).

Muhammad Cheng Ho was a Muslim from the Yunan Province of Southern China.  But the Chinese media named him as ‘Eunuch Sam Poh’ sarcastically or may be mistakenly due to he was circumcised during childhood, and others take for granted that he was castrated.  When he was young he joined the army and fought and served his way up from an ordinary soldier to the imperial guard and at last became the famous ‘Admiral Cheng Ho’.  He took charge of the greatest expedition of that era, sailed half way round the world to as far as the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa eighty years before Colombus accidentally discovered America and wrongly named its natives as Indians.

According to the ‘Malay Annals’ (Sejarah Melayu) it was also during this period that Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca married one of the daughters of the Ming Emperor, Princess Hang Li Po.  Through this mar­riage Malacca gained Chinese protection against attacks and threats from Siam (Thailand), Sumatra, Java, India etc.

  Ming dynasty was the hey-day of Islam in China. 

The Golden Age of Islam in China lasted almost one millenium from the Sui Dynasty 571 A.D. to the Tang Dynasty, the Song Dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty right to the Ming Dynasty in 1644 A.D.

Nevertheless after surviving for nearly three centuries, it fell to the Manchurians outside the great wall for the second time. The Manchus named its kingdom as the Qing Dynasty, 1644AD – 1911 AD. They adopted the ‘Divide and Rule’ tactic in China by creating vengeance and hatred between the Hans and the Huis. 

The Manchus, however regarded Muslims as the lowest caste of people in China and exercised strict and stem control over them.  They raised sensitive religious issues and even kindled quarrels and skirmishes among the two major races

In 1912 China was freed again from outsider’s control. Dr. Sun Yat-sen pro­claimed China a Republic and one of his ‘Doctrine of Nationality’ stat­ed that as most of the Huis were actually of Han stock who only practiced the Islamic faith and were thus different only in reli­gious beliefs from the other non­-Muslim Hans.

By right they should be absorbed back into the Han race just like the other Han Christians, Han Catholics Han Buddhists etc.  Unfortunately he passed away before his wise and just decision could materialized.

The Chinese Constitution Article 135, was amended in 1946 to differentiate and isolate Han ­Muslims from the rest of the Hans.  They were then labeled as “people in China who have their own conditions of living and habits”.  Therefore, Han Muslims were driven out of their own peo­ple. The original Muslim Turkish Huis and Han Muslims casting doubts on each other could not mix thoroughly together. 

After the Communists took over China in 1949, they banned all religious activities because they considered that these were the opiate of the people.  Worst of all under the Agrarian Reform they confiscated all land belong­ing to ancestral temples, monas­teries, churches and Masjids and redistributed the land to the peas­ants.

 After Premier Zhou Eng-lai attended the first Afro-Asian Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955, the Maoist regime wanted to gain support and goodwill from the Asian­ African Muslim countries, because the Islamic World has a strong political influence between the East and the West. He then permitted Islamic practices in China again.  Apparently it seem good for Islam, but the Communists had passed a bill in 1954 enforcing that all Muslims in China must be called ‘Hui mins’ (Hui people).

With this Red ultimatum ‘Hui min’ capped on all Muslims in China the term “Han Mus­lims” was completely wiped off.  At this juncture Muslims of the Han stock had no choice, either they forget about the Holy Qur’an and read the Mao’s Quotations or abandoned their Han-ancestry and pray side by side with the Huis.  Han Muslims after having suffered cruel perse­cutions, discriminations and elimination for several centuries resulted in them not knowing their roots. Fortunately their physical appearances, living habits, the Chinese staple food that they eat, the Chinese archi­tect Masjids that their forefa­thers constructed, their Chinese surnames and Chinese names with good meanings, remain.  Most important is that their mother tongue and the words they write are the Chinese Language.  They even read the Holy Qur’an printed in Chinese.

 

In the name of ‘The Cultural Revolution’ Mao, the ‘Gang of Four’ and the Red guards made all out attack on all Muslim areas. Wall­ posters appear all over the major cities demanding – the closures of Masjids, to disperse all religious institutes, abolish Qur’an classes, permit free and mix marriage etc.  Fortunately, the  Mao Tze-tung died in 1976 .

Veteran Deng Xiao-peng allowed the revival of all religions, including Islam.  Muslims can now per­form the five Islamic rituals again, their youths were allowed even to go oversea for further studies and there are many Chinese Muslim students in the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

The actual number of Muslims in China forever remains a conundrum.  The earli­est record in 1910, the mincheng­fu (Ministry of Interior) of the Qing government conducted a census with a total of 342.6 mil­lion people and the population of Muslims was between fifteen to twenty million.  After twenty-­eight years’ the 1938 Year Book of China printed a figure of forty ­eight million Muslims.  Then in 1950 The China Handbook stated fifty million Muslims.  After the Nationalist government retreat­ed to Taiwan it quoted in the 1957 Year Book of China with fifty million Muslims.

            According to the latest Communist government’s report, the figure declined to hardly thirty

million.  With its break-up as follows:

Five mil­lion Huighurs including all those of the Turkic-stock; five Hundred thousand Kazaks; four hundred

thousand Khirgizs, Tadjiks, Uzbeks, and Tartars; all these live in Sin-kiang province of  China and speak the

Turkish Language.

 Four hundred thou­sand Dongxians, Bao’ans and Mongolian Muslims living in the Kansu, Ningsia and Inner

 Mongolia provinces of China whose language belong to the Mongolian group. 

One hundred thousand Salars live mainly in the Tsinghai province of China with about fifty thousand

 Muslims in the provinces of Tibet and Manchuria. 

The remaining sixty per cent are Hui Muslims of the Han lineage, scattered all over China and Taiwan writing

 And  speaking mainly the Chinese language and adopting the Chinese habit­ual traditions and cultures.

After five decades Muslims in China should have increased but instead it decreased.  Where have the remaining Muslims gone?  The propaganda of the past Taiwan government stres­sed that they have been massa­cred, but the truth is that; besides those who had fled the mainland of China to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Kashmir, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries many Muslims of the Han lineage were frightened to expose their real identity to the Communist.  Therefore the size of Muslim population in China has been a controversial subject for more than half a century.

Retired General Omar Pei Chung-Si was a Muslim born in Kwee-lin of the Kwangsi province of southern China.  After the Second World War General Pei became the first Minister of Defence of the Nationalist China and the Chief Commander of the Southern Chinese Army fighting the Communists.  The Mao’s Liberation Army charged him as the third greatest war crimi­nal after Chiang Kai-shek and Lee Chung-ren, the Vice presi­dent of China.

Another confidential affair was that when Chiang was losing all the battles to Mao’s Red Army in central and northern China, General Omar Pei was tempted by the separatists to revolt against Chiang and lead the few north­west provinces to form the, ‘Chinese Islamic Republic’.  But this faithful general gave his undivided loyalty to his presi­dent as a very truthful Muslim, rejected the offer and instead he followed Chiang with his batons of soldiers mostly Muslims to Taiwan.  Since then they formed the first Chinese Muslim Association in Taiwan as there were already few Muslims in Taiwan before.

 

 

Turkic-Huis wanted to get the Sin­kiang province out of China. Since the time of the Ottoman Empire, the 30th. ruler, Sultan Abdul-Hamid 11 (1842-1918 AD.) had been influ­encing and spiritually assisting the Turkic-Huis in Sin-kiang to form a Turkish government. In 1870 AD the British established a protec­torate in Sin-kiang.  However .seven years later the Russian intervened and after signing the Treaty of St. Petersburg the British withdrew from Sin-kiang and returned it to China but with a great portion of it annexed by the Russian.  Later in 1933-1944 AD, with the sup­port of the U.S.S.R, Sin-kiang was proclaimed as ‘The Republic of East Turkestan’, but unfortunately after the second world war it was returned to China. 

This article ‘The Root of Islam in China’ is the first of its kind presented by a Malaysian Han Muslim, Haji Kahar Hoh Kok Hoong. He wrote it, based on his nearly forty years of vast experience and crucial researches done in and out­side China.

 

 

 

 

Islam first arrived in China after the 7th century CE, only a few years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death, during the Tang Dynasty. Islam was later spread by merchants and craftsmen as trade routes improved along the Silk Road.

The Emperor of China took Islam highly, and the first mosque in China, the Huaisheng Mosque was built in Canton, Guangzhou in 630 AD.

 

In 1271, the Mongol leader and the fifth Khagan of the Mongol Empire Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty, with the last remnant of the Song Dynasty falling to the Yuan in 1279. A peasant named Zhu Yuanzhang overthrew the Mongols in 1368 and founded the Ming Dynasty.

 

In the 19th century the Qing Dynasty adopted a defensive posture towards European imperialism, even though it engaged in imperialistic expansion into Central Asia itself.

 

The civil war was one of the bloodiest in human history, costing at least twenty million lives (more than the total number of fatalities in the First World War), with some estimates up to two-hundred million. In addition, more costly rebellions in terms of human lives and economics followed the Taiping Rebellion such as the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars (1855-1867), Nien Rebellion (1851-1868), Muslim Rebellion (1862-1877) and Panthay Rebellion (1856-1873).

 

The Dungan Revolt is also known as the Hui Minorities’ War and the Muslim Rebellion. The term is sometimes used to refer to the Panthay Rebellion in Yunnan as well. It was an uprising by members of the Hui and other Muslim ethnic groups in China’s Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia provinces, as well as in Xinjiang, between 1862 and 1877.

 

The uprising was directed against the Qing Dynasty and actively encouraged by the leaders of the Taiping Rebellion. When it failed, it instigated immigration of some of the Dungan people into Imperial Russia. In Shaanxi province, once-flourishing Hui Muslim communities fell from 700,000 or 800,000 to between 20,000 and 30,000 in ten years.

Between 1648 and 1878, more than twelve million Hui and Uyghur Muslims were killed in ten unsuccessful uprisings against the Qing Dynasty.

 

Rebellion in Gansu and Shaanxi

 

Background

 

Chinese Muslims had been traveling to West Asia for many years prior to the Hui Minorities’ War. In the 18th century, several prominent Muslim clerics from Gansu studied in Mecca and Yemen under the Naqshbandi Sufi teachers.

 

Two different forms of Sufism were brought back to Northwest China by two charismatic Hui sheikhs: Khafiya (also spelt Khafiyya or Khufiyah; Chinese: 虎夫耶, Hǔfūyē), associated with the name of Ma Laichi (马来迟, 1681-1766), and a more radical Jahriyya (also spelt Jahriya, Jahariyya, Jahariyah, etc.; Chinese: 哲赫林耶, Zhéhèlínyē, or 哲合忍耶, Zhéhérěnyē), founded by Ma Mingxin (马明新 or 马明心, 1719(?)-1781). The coexisted with the more traditional, non-Sufi Sunni practices, centered around local mosques and known as gedimu (格底目 or 格迪目). The Khafiya school, as well as non-Sufi gedimu tradition, both tolerated by the Qing authorities, were referred to by them as the “Old Teaching” (老教), while Jahriya, viewed as suspect, became known as the “New Teaching” (新教).

 

Disagreements between the adherents of Khafiya and Jahriya, as well as perceived mismanagement, corruption, and anti-Muslim attitudes of the Qing officials resulted in attempted risings by Hui and Salar followers of the New Teaching in 1781 and 1783, but they were promptly suppressed.

 

 

The course of the rebellion

As the Taiping troops approached south-eastern Shaanxi in the spring of 1862, the local Han Chinese, encouraged by the Qing government, formed tuanlian (trad. 團練, simplified 团练) militias to defend the region against the Taipings. Afraid of the armed Han, the Muslims formed their own tuanlian units.

 

According to modern researchers (Lipman (1998), p. 120-121), the Muslim rebellion started in 1862 not as a centralized planned uprising, but as coalescing of many local brawls and riots triggered by seemingly trivial causes. The prestige of the Qing dynasty being low and their armies being busy elsewhere, the rebellion that started in the spring of 1862 in the Wei River valley was able to spreadly rapidly throughout the southeastern Shaanxi. By late June 1862, the organized Muslim fighter bands were able to besiege Xi’an, which was not relieved by the Qing general Dolongga (Chinese: 多隆阿, Duo Long-a) until the fall of 1863.

 

A vast number of Muslim refugees from Shaanxi fled to Gansu. Some of them formed the “Eighteen Great Battalions” in eastern Gansu, intending to fight back to their homes in Shaanxi.

 

While the Hui rebels took over Gansu and Shaanxi, Yaqub Beg, who had fled from Kokand Khanate in 1865 or 1866 after losing Tashkent to the Russians, set himself up as the ruler in Kashgar, soon taking over the entire Xinjiang.

 

In 1867 the Qing government sent one of their best officials, Zuo Zongtang, a hero of the suppression of the Taiping Rebellion, to Shaanxi. His forces were ordered to help put down the Nian Rebellion and he was not able to deal with the Muslim rebels until December 1868. Zuo’s approach was to rehabilitate the region by promoting agriculture, especially cotton and grain as well as supporting orthodox Confucian education. Due to the poverty of the region Zuo had to rely on financial support from outside the North-West.

 

After suppressing the rebellion in Shaanxi and building up enough grain reserves to feed his army, Zuo attacked the most important Muslim leader, Ma Hualong (马化龙). Zuo’s troops reached Ma’s stronghold, Jinjibao (Chinese: 金积堡, Jinji Bao, i.e. Jinji Fortress) in what was then north-eastern Gansu[1][2][3] in September of 1870, bringing Krupp siege guns with him. After a sixteen months’ siege, Ma Hualong was forced to surrender in January of 1871. Zuo sentenced Ma and over eighty of his officials to death by slicing. Thousands of Muslims were exiled to different parts of China.

 

Zuo’s next target was Hezhou (now known as Linxia), the main Hui people center west of Lanzhou and a key point on the trade route between Gansu and Tibet. Hezhou was defended by the Muslim forces of Ma Zhan’ao (马占鳌). Not a Jahriya (New Teaching) adherent, he was a pragmatic member of the Khafiya (Old Teaching) movement, ready to explore avenues for peaceful coexistence with the Qing state. After successfully repulsing Zuo’s offensive against Hezhou in 1872, he offered to surrender his stronghold to the empire, and offered his assistance to the Qing for the duration of the war. His diplomatic skills are evidenced by the success he managed achieved in preserving his community: while Zuo Zongtang pacified other areas by moving the Muslims elsewhere (in the spirit of the 洗回 (xi Hui), “washing off the Muslims” approach that had been long advocated by some officials), in Hezhou it were the non-Muslims whom Zuo relocated out of the area. The Hezhou (Linxia) area remains heavily Muslim to this day, achieving the status of Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture under the PRC.

 

Zuo’s troops being reinforced by some of the Hezhou Muslims that have changed sides, he now planned to proceed westward, along the Hexi Corridor toward Xinjiang. However, he felt it necessary to first secure his left flank by taking Xining, which not only had a large Muslim community of its own, but also sheltered many of the refugees from Shaanxi. After three months’ resistance, Xining fell to Zuo’s commander Liu Jintang in the late fall of 1872. The defenders’ commander Ma Guiyuan was captured, and thousands of armed defenders was killed. The Muslim population of Xining was spared, however; the Shaanxi refugees sheltered there were resettled or arable lands in eastern and southern Gansu, isolated from other Muslim areas.

 

Despite repeated offers of amnesty, many Muslims continued to resist at their last Gansu stronghold in Suzhou (now known as Jiuquan), which sits astride the Hexi Corridor in the western part of the province. The defence of the city was commanded by Ma Wenlu, originally from Xining; many Hui that had retreated from Shaanxi were there as well. After securing his supply lines, Zuo besieged Suzhou the city in September 1873 with 15,000 troops under his personal command. The Huis’ rifles were no match to Zuo’s siege guns, and the fortress fell on October 24. Zuo had 7,000 Muslims executed, and resettled the survivors in southern Gansu, to ensure that the entire Gansu Corridor from Lanzhou to Dunhuang would remain Muslim-free, preventing a possibility of future collusion between the Muslims of Gansu and Shaanxi and those of Xinjiang.

 

 

Rebellion in Xinjiang

 

Shooting exercises of Yakub Beg’s Dungan and Chinese taifurchi (gunners)

 

Pre-rebellion situation in Xinjiang

By the 1860s, Xinjiang had been under Qing rule for a century. The entire Xinjiang was administratively divided into three parts (“circuits”; Chinese: 路, lu):

 

The North-of-Tianshan Cirucit (天山北路, Tianshan Beilu), including the Ili basin and Dzungaria. (This region roughly corresponds to the modern Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, including prefectures it controls and a few smaller adjacent prefectures).

The South-of-Tianshan Circuit (天山南路, Tianshan Nanlu). Ir included the “Eight cities”, i.e. the “Four Western Cities” (Khotan, Yarkand, Yangihissar, Kashgar) and the “Four Eastern Cities” (Ush, Aqsu, Kucha, Karashahr).

The Eastern Circuit (东路, Donglu), in eastern Xinjiang, centered around Urumqi.

The General of Ili, stationed in Huiyuan Cheng (Ili), had the overall military command in all three circuits. He also was in charge of the civilian administration (directly in the North-of-Tianshan Circuit, and via local Muslim (Uyghur) begs in the South Circuit). However, the Eastern Circuit was subordinated in the matters of civilian administration to the Gansu province.

 

Trying (not always successfully) to prevent repetition of incursions of Afaqi khojas from Kokand into Kashgaria, such as those of Jahangir Khoja in the 1820s or Wali Khan in 1857, Qing government had increased the troops level in Xinjiang to some 50,000. There were both Manchu and Chinese units in the province; the latter, having been recruited mostly in Shaanxi and Gansu, had a heavily Hui (Dungan) component. A large part of the Qing army in Xinjiang was based in the Nine Forts of the Ili Region, but there were also forts with Qing garrisons in most other cities of Xinjiang as well.

 

The cost of maintaining this army was much higher than the taxation of the local economy could sustainably provide, and required subsidies from the central government – which, however, became infeasible by the 1850-60s due to the costs of fighting Taiping and other rebellions in the Chinese heartland. The Qing authorities in Xinjiang responded by raising taxes and introducing new ones, and selling official posts to the highest bidders (e.g. that of governor of Yarkand to Rustam Beg of Khotan for 2,000 yambus, and that of Kucha to Sa’id Beg for 1,500 yambus). The new officeholders would then proceed to recoup their investment by fleecing their subject population.

 

Increasing tax burden and corruption only added to the discontent of the Xinjiang people, who had long suffered both from the maladministration of Qing officials and the local begs subordinated to them and from the destructive invasions of the khojas. The Qing soldiers in Xinjiang, however, still were not paid on time or properly equipped.

 

With the start of the rebellion in Gansu and Shaanxi in 1862, rumors started spreading among the Hui (Dungans) of Xinjiang that the Qing authorities are preparing a wholesale preemptive slaughter of the Huis in Xinjiang, or in a particular community. The opinions on the veracities of these rumors differ: while Tongzhi Emperor described them as “absurd” in his edict of September 25, 1864, Muslim historian generally believe that massacres were indeed planned, if not by the imperial government, then by various local authorities. Thus it was the Dungans that usually were to revolt in most Xinjiang towns, although the local Turkic people – Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, or Kazakhs – would usually quickly join the fray.

 

 

Multi-centric rebellion

The first spark of the rebellion in Xinjiang was small enough for the Qing authorities to extinguish easily. On March 17, 1863, some 200 Dungans from the village of Sandaohe (a few miles west of Suiding), supposedly provoked by a rumor of a preemptive Dungan massacre, attacked Tarchi (塔勒奇城, Taleqi Cheng), one of the Nine Forts of the Ili. The rebels seized the weapons from the fort’s armory and killed soldiers of its garrison, but were soon defeated by government troops from other forts and killed themselves.

 

It was not until the next year that the rebellion broke out again – this time, almost simultaneously in all three Circuits of Xinjiang, and on a scale that made suppressing it beyond the ability of the authorities.

 

On the night of June 3-4, 1864, the Dungans of Kucha, one of the cities South of Tianshan, rose, soon joined by the local Turkic people. The Chinese fort, which, unlike many other Xinjiang locations, was located inside of the town, rather than outside of it, fell within a few days. Government buildings were burnt and some 1000 Chinese and 150 Mongols were killed. Neither of the Dungan or Turkic leaders of the rebellion having enough authority in the entire community to become commonly recognized as a leader, the rebels instead choose a person who had not participated in the rebellion, but was known for his spiritual role: Rashidin (Rashīdīn) Khoja, a dervish and the custodian of the grave of his ancestor of saintly fame, Arshad-al-Din (? – 1364 or 65). Over the next three years, he was to send military expedition east and west, attempting to bring the entire Tarim Basin under his control; however, his expansion plans were to be frustrated by Yaqub Beg.

 

Just three weeks after Kucha, the rebellion started in the Eastern Circuit. The Dungan soldiers of the Urumqi garrison rebelled on June 26, 1864, soon after learning about the Kucha rebellion. The two Dungan leaders were Tuo Ming (a.k.a Tuo Delin), a New Teaching ahong from Gansu, and Suo Huanzhang, an officer with close ties to Hui religious leaders as well. Large parts of the city were destroyed, the tea warehouses burned, and the Manchu fortress besieged. Then the Urumqi rebels started advancing westward through what is today Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, taking the cities of Manas (also known then as Suilai) on July 17 (the Manchu fort there fell on September 16) and Wusu (Qur Qarausu) on September 29.

 

On October 3, 1864, the Manchu fortress of Urumqi also fell to the joint forces of Urumqi and Kuchean rebels. In a pattern that was to repeat in other Chinese forts throughout the region, the Manchu commander, Pingžui, preferred to explode his gunpowder, killing himself and his family, rather than surrender.

 

The Dungan soldiers in Yarkand in Kashgaria learned of the Manchu authorities plan to disarm or kill them, and rose in the wee hours of July 26, 1864. Their first attack on the Manchu fort (which was outside of the walled Muslim city) failed, but it still cost 2,000 Qing soldiers and their families their lives. In the morning, the Dungan soldiers entered the Muslim city, where some 7,000 Chinese were massacred. The Dungans being numerically few compared to the local Turkic Muslims, they picked a somewhat neutral party – one Ghulam Husayn, a religious man from a Kabul noble family – as the puppet padishah.

 

By the early fall of 1864, the Dungans of the Ili Basin in the “Northern Circuit” rose too, encouraged by the success of Urumqi rebels at Wusu and Manas, and worried by the prospects of preemptive repressions by the local Manchu authorities. The Ili General (the Ili Jiangjun, 伊犁将军) Cangcing, hated by the local population as a corrupt oppressor, was sacked by the Qing government after his troops had been defeated by the rebels at Wusu, and Mingsioi was appointed to replace them. His attempts to negotiate with the Dungans were in vain though; on November 10, 1864, the Dungans rose both in Ningyuan (the “Taranchi Kuldja”), the commercial center of the region, and Huiyuan (the “Manchu Kuldja”), the military and administrative center of the region. Kulja’s Taranchis (Turkic-speaking farmers who were to form later part of the Uyghur people) joined in the rebellion. When the local Muslim Kazakhs and Kyrgyz felt that the rebels are gained the upper hand, they joined it as well; on the other hand, the Buddhist Kalmyks and Xibe mostly stayed loyal to the Qing government.

 

Ningyuan fell to the Dungan and Uighur rebels at once, but the strong government force at Huiyuan made the insurgents retreat after 12 days of heavy fighting in the streets of the city. The local Hans, seeing the Manchus winning, joined forces with them. However, the Qing forces’ counter-offensive failed. The imperial troops lost their artillery and the “Ili General” Mingsioi barely escaped capture. With the fall of Wusu and Aksu, the Qing garrison, entrenched in the Huiyuan fortress, was completely cut off from the rest of empire-controlled territory; Mingxu had to send his communications to Beijing via Russia.

 

While the Qing forces in Huiyuan successfully repelled the next attack of the rebels (12 December 1864), the rebellion kept spreading through the northern part of the province (Dzungaria), where the Kazakhs were glad to take revenge on the Kalmyks that used to rule the area in the past.

 

 

“Ruins of the Theater in Chuguchak”, painting by Vereshchagin (1869-70)For the Chinese New Year of 1865, the Hui leaders of Tacheng (Chuguchak) invited the local Qing authorities and Kalmyk nobles to assemble in the Hui mosque, in order to swear a mutual oath of peace. But once the Manchus and Kalmyks were in the mosque, the Huis seized the city armory, and started killing the Manchus. After two days of fighting, the Muslims were in control of the town, while the Manchus were besieged in the fortress. However, with the Kalmyk help, the Manchus were able to retake the Tacheng area by the fall of 1865. This time, it was the Huis turn to be locked up in the mosque. The fighting resulted in the utter destruction of Tacheng and the surviving residents fleeing the town.

 

Both the Qing government in Beijing and the beleaguered Kulja officials asked the Russian for assistance against the rebellion (via Russian envoy in Beijing, G.A. Vlangali, and via the Russian commander in Semirechye, General Gerasim Kolapakovsky (Колпаковский) respectively). The Russians, however, were diplomatically non-committal: on the one hand, as Vlangali wrote to Saint Petersburg, a “complete refusal” would be bad for Russia’s relations with Beijing; on the other hand, as Russian generals in Central Asia felt, seriously helping China against Xinjiang’s Muslims would do nothing to improve Russia’s problems with its own new Muslim subjects – and in case the rebellion were to succeed and form a permanent Hui stete, having been on the Qing’s side would do nothing good for Russia’s relations with that new neighbor. The decision was thus made in Saint Petersburg in 1865 to avoid offering any serious help to the Qing, beyond agreeing to train Chinese soldiers in Siberia – should they send any – and to sell some grain to the defenders of Kuldja on credit. The main priority of Russian government was in guarding its border with China and preventing any possibility of the spread of the rebellion into Russia’s own domain.

 

Considering that offense is the best defense, Kolpakovsky suggested to his superiors in February 1865 that Russia should go beyond defending its border and move in force into Xinjiang’s border area, seizing Chuguchak, Kuldja and Kashgar areas and colonizing the area with Russian settlers – all to better protect the Romanovs’ empire’s other domains. The time was not ripe for such an adventure, however: as Foreign Minister Gorchakov noted, such a breach of neutrality would be not a good thing if China does recover its rebel provinces, after all.

 

Meanwhile the Qing forces in the Ili Valley did not fare well. In April 1865, the Huining (惠宁) fortress (today’s Bayandai (巴彦岱), located between Yining and Huiyuan), fell to the rebels after three months’ siege. Its 8,000 Manchu, Xibe, and Solon defenders were massacred, and two survivors, their ears and noses cut off, sent to Huiyuan – Qing’s last stronghold in the Valley – to tell the Governor General about the fate of Huining.

 

Most of the Huiyuan (Manchu Kulja) fell to the rebels on January 8, 1866. Most of the residents and garrison perished; some 700 rebels died as well. Mingsioi, still holding out in the Huiyuan fortress with the remainder of his troops, but having run out of food, sent a delegation to the rebels, bearing a gift of 40 sycees of silver[4] and four boxes of green tea, and offering to surrender, provided the rebels guarantee their lives and allow them to keep their allegiance to the Qing government. Twelve Manchu officials with their families left the citadell along with the delegation. The Huis and Uyghurs received the delegation and allowed the refugees from Huiyuan to settle in Yining (“the Old Kuldja”). However, the rebels would not accept Mingsioi’s condition, and required instead that he surrender immediately and recognize the authority of the rebels. As Mingsioi rejected the rebels’ proposal, the rebels proceeded to storm the citadel at once. On March 3, the rebels having broken into the citadel, Mingsioi assembled his family and staff in his mansion, and blew it up, dying under its ruins. This was the end, for the time being, of the Qing rule in the Ili Valley.

 

 

Yaqub Beg in Kashgaria

 

Yakub Beg’s “Andijani” taifurchi (gunners)As reported by Muslim sources, the Qing authorities in Kashgar did not just intend to eliminate local Dungans, but in fact managed to carry out such a preemptive massacre in the summer of 1864. Perhaps this weakening of the local Dungan contingent resulted in the rebellion been initially not as successful in this area as in the rest of the province. Although the Dungan rebels were able to seize Yangihissar, neither they not the Kyrgyz of Siddiq Beg could break into either into the Manchu forts outside of Yangihissar and Kashgar, nor into the walled Muslim city of Kashgar itself, held by Qutluq Beg, a local Muslim appointee of the Qing.

 

Unable to take conrol of the region on the own, the Dungan and Kyrgyz turn for help to Kokand’s ruler Alim Quli. The help arrived in the early 1865, in the form both spiritual and material. The spiritual part consisted of Buzurg Khoja (also known as Buzurg Khan), member of the influential Afaqis family of khojas, whose religious authority could be expected to raise the rebellious spirit of the populace. He was a fine heir of the long family tradition of starting mischief in Kashgaria, being a son of Jahangir Khoja and brother of Wali Khan Khoja. The material part – as well as the expected conduit of Kokandian influence in Kashgaria – consisted of Yaqub Beg, a young but already well known Kokandian military commander, with an entourage of a few dozen Kokandian soldiers, who became known in Kashgaria as Andijanis.

 

Although Siddiq Beg’s Kyrgyz had already taken the Muslim town of Kashgar by the time Buzurg Khoja and Yaqub Beg arrived, he had to allow the popular khoja to settle in the former governor’s residence (the urda). Siddiq’s attempts to assert his dominance were crushed by Yaqub Beg’s and Buzurg’s forces. The Kyrgyz then had to accept Yaqub’s authority.

 

With his small, but comparatively well disciplined and trained army, made of the local Dungans and Kashgarian Turkic people (Uighurs, in modern terms), their Kyrgyz allies, Yaqub’s own Kokandians, as well as some 200 soldiers sent by the ruler of Badakhshan, Yaqub Beg was able not only to take the Manchu fortress and the Chinese town of Kashgar during 1865 (the Manchu commander in Kashgar, as usual, blowing himself up), but to defeat much larger force sent by the Rashidin of Kucha, who was trying to dominate the Tarim Basin region himself.

 

While Yaqub Beg was asserting his authority over Kashgaria, the situation back home in Kokand changed radically. In May 1865, Alim Quli lost his life while defending Tashkent against the Russians; many of his soldiers (primarily, of Kyrgyz and Kipchak background) deemed it advisable to flee for comparative safety of Kashgaria. They appeared at the borders of Yaqub Beg’s domain in early September 1865.

Aftermath

 

Atrocities

The number of deaths in the war is estimated at several million,[5] making it one of the bloodiest wars in China and the world.

 

 

The flight of the Dungans to Russian Empire

The failure of the uprising led to some immigration of Hui people into the Imperial Russia. According to Rimsky-Korsakoff (1992), three separate groups of the Hui people fled to Russian Empire across the Tian Shan Mountains during the exceptionally severe winter of 1877/78:

 

The first group, of some 1000 people, originally from Turfan in Xinjiang, led by Ma Daren (马大人), also known as Ma Da-lao-ye (马大老爷), reached Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan.

The second group, of 1130 people, originally from Didaozhou (狄道州) in Gansu, led by ahong A Yelaoren (阿爷老人), were settled in the spring of 1878 in the village of Yardyk some 15 km from Karakol in Eastern Kyrgyzstan. They numbered 1130 on arrival.

The third group, originally from Shaanxi, led by Bai Yanhu (白彦虎; also spelt Bo Yanhu; 1829(?)-1882), one of the leaders of the rebellion, were settled in the village of Karakunuz (now Masanchi), is modern Zhambyl Province of Kazakhstan. Masanchi is located on the northern (Kazakh) side of the Chu River, 8 km north from the city Tokmak in north-western Kyrgyzstan. This group numbered 3314 on arrival.

Another wave of immigration followed in the early 1880s. In accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Saint Petersburg signed in February 1881, which required the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the Upper Ili Basin (the Kulja area), the Hui and Taranchi (Uighur) people of the region were allowed to opt for moving to the Russian side of the border. Most choose that option; according to the Russian statistics, 4,682 Hui moved to Russian Empire under the treaty. They migrated in many small groups between 1881-83, settling in the village of Sokuluk some 30 km west of Bishkek, as well as in a number of points between the Chinese border and Sokuluk, in south-eastern Kazakhstan and northern Kyrgyzstan.

 

The descendants of these rebels and refugees still live in Kyrgyzstan and neighboring parts of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. They still call themselves the Hui people (Huizu), but to the outsiders they are known as Dungan, which means Eastern Gansu in Chinese.

 

 

 

The war in Xinjiang, and the Russian involvement

 

V.A. Moiseev, “Muslim Rebellion in Xinjiang and Russia’s policy (1864-1871)”, in “Россия и Китай в Центральной Азии (вторая половина XIX в. – 1917 гг.)” (Russia and China in Central Asia (second half of the 19 c. thru 1917). Barnaul, Azbuka Publishers, 2003. ISBN 5-93957-025-9(Russian)

“Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and Their Disputed Frontier”, by Sarah C. M. Paine (1996) ISBN 1563247232

The Dungan emigration

 

Svetlana Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer. Karakunuz: An Early Settlement of the Chinese Muslims in Russia, with an English translation of V. Tsibuzgin and A.Shmakov’s work. “Asian Folklore Studies”, Vol. 51 (1992), pp. 243-279.

The “Shaanxi Village” in Kazakhstan (Chinabroadcast.cn)

 

Panthay Rebellion

 

 

The Panthay Rebellion (known in Chinese as the Du Wenxiu Qiyi 杜文秀起义, 1856 – 1873) was a separatist movement of the Hui people and Chinese Muslims, against the imperial Qing Dynasty in southwestern Yunnan Province, China, as part of a wave of Hui-led multi-ethnic unrest.

 

 

Causes

Between 1648 and 1878, more than twelve million Hui and Uyghur Muslims were killed in ten unsuccessful uprisings against the Qing Dynasty.[1] The unfavorable discrimination with which the Hui were treated by the Han and by the imperial administration was at the root of their rebellions. The Panthay Rebellion began out of a conflict between Han and Muslim tin miners in 1853, which degenerated into rebellion. In the following year, a massacre of Muslims was organized by the Qing officials responsible for suppressing the revolt. One of the leaders of the insurrection was Ma Dexin. Anxious to increase his own influence, Ma Dexin finally agreed to submit to the Qing in 1861.[2] He was succeeded by a man called Du Wenxiu (杜文秀; pinyin: Dù Wénxiù) (1823 – 1872), an ethnic Hui born in Yongcheng.

 

 

Course of the war

The rebellion successfully captured the city of Dali, which became the base for the rebels’ operations, and declared themselves a separate political entity from China. The rebels identified their nation as Pingnan Guo (平南国 The Pacified Southern Nation); their leader Sulayman ibn `Abd ar-Rahman, known as Du Wenxiu [originally Yang Xiu]) (d. 1873) was styled Qa´id Jami al-Muslimin (‘Leader of the Community of Muslims’), but is usually referred to in foreign sources as Sultan) and ruled 1856 – 26 December 1872.

 

The rebellion sieged the city of Kunming multiple times (in 1857, 1861, 1863 and 1868). Ma Rulong, a Hui rebel leader from southern Yunnan, sieged the city in 1862 but through the offers of a military post joined forces with the imperial officials. His decision was not fully accepted by his followers who took the opportunity of his absence to kill the Governor-General (Pan Duo), wrest control of the city from the Qing in 1863, and intended to hand the city over to Du Wenxiu, but before Du’s forces could arrive, Ma Rulong with the assistance of a rising Qing military officier, Cen Yuying, raced back to Kunming and regained control of the provincial capital.

 

Later, as imperial troops began to gain the upperhand versus the rebellion, the rebels sent a letter to Queen Victoria, asking the British Empire for formal recognition and for military assistance; the fledgling state was turned down by the British. The rebellion was eventually suppressed when Qing troops killed and decapitated the ‘sultan’. His body is entombed in Xiadui.

 

 

Aftermath

 

Atrocities

Though largely forgotten, the bloody rebellion caused the death of up to a million people in Yunnan.[3] Many surviving Hui refugees escaped over the border to neighboring countries, Burma, Thailand and Laos, forming the basis of a minority Chinese Hui population in those nations.

 

 

Impact on Burma

The rebellion had a significant negative impact on the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty. After losing lower Burma to the British, Burma lost access to vast tracts of rice-growing land. Not wishing to upset China, the Burmese kingdom agreed to refuse trade with the Panthay rebels in accordance with China’s demands. Without the ability to import rice from China, Burma was forced to import rice from the British. In addition, the Burmese economy had relied heavily on cotton exports to China, and suddenly lost access to the vast Chinese market.

 

 

Yusuf Ma Dexin, a prominent Muslim scholar in Yunnan at the time of the rebellions

List of wars and disasters by death toll

 

 

History of Islam in China

History

Tang Dynasty

Song Dynasty

Yuan Dynasty

Ming Dynasty

Qing Dynasty

Islam in China (1911-present)

 

 

Architecture

Chinese mosques

Niujie Mosque

 

Major figures

Yusuf Ma Dexin • Zheng He • Liu Zhi

Haji Noor

 

People Groups

Hui • Salar • Uygur

Kazakhs • Kyrgyz • Tatars • Bonan

Uzbeks • Tibetans • Dongxiang

Tajiks • Utsul

 

 

Islamic Cities/Regions

Linxia • Xinjiang

Ningxia • Kashgar

 

Culture

Islamic Association of China

Cuisine • Calligraphy • Martial arts

 

China have some of the oldest Muslim history, dating back to as early as 650, when the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas, was sent as an official envoy to Emperor Gaozong. Throughout the history of Islam in China, Chinese Muslims have influenced the course of Chinese history.

 

History

Main article: History of Islam in China

 

The Great Mosque of Xi’an, one of China’s oldest mosquesIslam was first brought to China by an envoy sent by Uthman, the third Caliph, in 651, less than twenty years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The envoy was led by Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās, the maternal uncle of the Prophet himself. Yung Wei, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country. It was during the Tang Dynasty that China had its golden day of cosmopolitan culture which helped the introduction of Islam. The first major Muslim settlements in China consisted of Arab and Persian merchants.[1] In the region, the Hui Chi tribe accepted Islam, and the name was the beginnings of the reference to the huihui or the Hui as they are know today.

 

By the time of the Song Dynasty, Muslims had come to dominate the import/export industry.[2] The office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim during this period.[3]In 1070, the Song emperor Shenzong invited 5,300 Muslim men from Bukhara, to settle in China in order to create a buffer zone between the Chinese and the Liao empire in the northeast. Later on these men were settled between the Sung capital of Kaifeng and Yenching (modern day Beijing).[4] They were led by Prince Amir Sayyid “So-fei-er” (his Chinese name) who was reputed of being called the “father” of the Muslim community in China. Prior to him Islam was named by the Tang and Song Chinese as Ta-shi fa (“law of Islam”). He renamed it to Hui Hui Jiao (“the Religion of Double return”).[5] It was during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, (1274 – 1368), that large numbers of Muslims settled in China. The Mongols, a minority in China, gave Muslim immigrants an elevated status over the native Han Chinese as part of their governing strategy, thus giving Muslims a heavy influence. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims immigrants were recruited and forcibly relocated from Western and Central Asia by the Mongols to help them administer their rapidly expanding empire.[6] The Mongols used Persian, Arab and Uyghur administrators to act as officers of taxation and finance. Muslims headed most corporations in China in the early Yuan period.[7] Muslim scholars were brought to work on calendar making and astronomy.

 

During the following Ming Dynasty, Muslims continued to be influential around government circles. Six of Ming Dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang’s most trusted generals were Muslim, including Lan Yu who, in 1388, led a strong imperial Ming army out of the Great Wall and won a decisive victory over the Mongols in Mongolia, effectively ending the Mongol dream to re-conquer China. Additionally, the Yongle Emperor hired Zheng He, perhaps the most famous Chinese Muslim and China’s foremost explorer, to lead seven expeditions to the Indian Ocean, from 1405 and 1433. However, during the Ming Dynasty, new immigration to China from Muslim countries was restricted in an increasingly isolationist nation. The Muslims in China who were descended from earlier immigration began to assimilate by speaking Chinese dialects and by adopting Chinese names and culture. Mosque architecture began to follow traditional Chinese architecture.

 

The rise of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) made relations between the Muslims and Chinese more difficult. The dynasty prohibited ritual slaughtering of animals, followed by forbidding the construction of new mosques and the pilgrimage to Mecca.[8] The Qing rulers belonged to the Manchu, a minority in China, and employed the tactics of divide and conquer to keep the Muslims, Hans, Tibetans and Mongolians in conflict with each other. These repressive policies resulted in five bloody Hui rebellions, most notably the Panthay Rebellion, which occurred in Yunnan province from 1855 to 1873, and the Dungan revolt, which occurred mostly in Xinjiang, Shensi and Gansu, from 1862 to 1877.

 

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat Sen, who established the Republic of China immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Hui (Muslim), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan) peoples. Conditions for the Muslims worsened during the Cultural Revolution. The government began to relax its policies towards Muslims in 1978. Today, Islam is experiencing a modest revival and there are now many mosques in China. There has been an upsurge in Islamic expression and many nation-wide Islamic associations have been organized to co-ordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims.[9]

 

 

People

See also: Hui people, Uyghur people, Kazak, Dongxiang, Kyrgyz, Salar, Tajik, Uzbek, Bonan, Tatar, and Tibetan Muslims

 

Ethnic Groups

Muslims live in every region of China. The highest concentrations are found in the northwest provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu, and Ningxia, with significant populations also found throughout Yunnan province in southwest China and Henan Province in central China. Of China’s 55 officially recognized minority peoples, ten groups are predominately Muslim. The largest groups in descending order are Hui (9.8 million in year 2000 census, or 48% of the officially tabulated number of Muslims), Uyghur (8.4 million, 41%), Kazak (1.25 million , 6.1%), Dongxiang (514,000, 2.5%), Kyrgyz (161,000), Salar (105,000), Tajik (41,000), Uzbek , Bonan (17,000), and Tatar (5,000).[10] However, individual members of traditionally Muslim ethnic groups may profess other religions or none at all, while sizable Muslim communities exist among ethnicities whose members typically belong to other religions, as in the case of the Tibetan Muslims. Muslims live predominantly in the areas that border Central Asia, Tibet and Mongolia, i.e Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai, which is know as the “Quran Belt”. [11]

 

 

Number of Muslims in China

 The neutrality of this section is disputed.

Please see the discussion on the talk page.

This section has been tagged since December 2007.

 

China is home to a large population of adherents of Islam. According to the CIA World Factbook, about 1%-2% of the total population in China are Muslims,[12] while the offical figures show that Muslims constitute about 1.5% of the Chinese population.[13] The various censuses asserted that there may be up to 20 million Muslims in China.[14]

 

The BBC gives a range of 20 million to 100 million (7.5% of the total) Muslims in China.[15] The figure of 100 million is based on a 1938 statistical yearbook placing the number of Muslims at 50 million, as well as census data from the 1940s, which showed roughly 48 million Muslims.[16] Demographers at the University of Michigan contend in contrast that the only way the Muslim population of China could be substantially higher than the officially counted 20.3 million in the 2000 census is if there were a very large hidden or uncounted number of Muslims in China; but a large undercount of Muslims has not been documented and remains speculative.[17] However, the accuracy of the religious data in the census is questioned. While official data estimated 100 million religious believers in China, a survey taken by Shanghai University declared a dramatically different 300 million believers, three times the government’s estimate. The survey also found that Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity are the country’s five major religions. The number of followers of Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity in the survey had radically higher numbers than in the census.[18]

 

 

Religious Practice

The vast majority of China’s Muslims are Sunni Muslims. A notable feature of the some Muslim communities in China is the presence of female imams.[19]

 

 

Chinese Muslims and the Hajj

Some Chinese Muslims may have made the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca on the Arabian peninsula between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, yet there is no written record of this prior to 1861.

 

Briefly during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese Muslims were not allowed to attend the Hajj,and only did so through Pakistan, but this policy was reversed in 1979. Chinese Muslims now attend the Hajj in large numbers, typically in organized groups.

 

A record 9,600 Chinese Muslim pilgrims from all over the country attended the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2006[20]

 

 

Representative bodies

 

Islamic Association of China

Main article: Islamic Association of China

The Islamic Association of China claims to represent Chinese Muslims nationwide. At its inaugural meeting on May 11, 1953 in Beijing, representatives from 10 nationalities of the People’s Republic of China were in attendance.

 

 

China Islamic Association

Main article: China Islamic Association

In April 2001, the government set up the China Islamic Association, which was described as aiming to “help the spread of the Qur’an in China and oppose religious extremism”. The association is to be run by 16 Islamic religious leaders who are charged with making “a correct and authoritative interpretation” of Islamic creed and canon.

 

It will compile and spread inspirational speeches and help imams improve themselves, and vet sermons made by clerics around the country. This latter function is probably the key job as far as the central government is concerned. It is worried that some clerics are using their sermons to spread sedition.

 

Some examples of the religious concessions granted to Muslims are:

 

In areas where Muslims are a majority, the breeding of pigs is not allowed, in deference to Muslim sensitivities

Muslim communities are allowed separate cemeteries

Muslim couples may have their marriage consecrated by an Imam

Muslim workers are permitted holidays during major religious festivals

Chinese Muslims are also allowed to make the Hajj to Mecca, and more than 45,000 Muslims have done so in recent years.[21]

 

Islamic education in China

Over the last twenty years a wide range of Islamic educational opportunities have been developed to meet the needs of China’s Muslim population. In addition to mosque schools, government Islamic colleges, and independent Islamic colleges, a growing number of students have gone overseas to continue their studies at international Islamic universities in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and Malaysia.[22]

 

 

Culture and heritage

The Mongol conquest of the greater part of Eurasia in the 13th century brought the extensive cultural traditions of China, central Asia and western Asia into a single empire, albeit one of separate khanates, for the first time in history. The intimate interaction that resulted is evident in the legacy of both traditions. In China, Islam influenced technology, sciences, philosophy and the arts. In terms of material culture, one finds decorative motives from central Asian Islamic architecture and calligraphy, the marked halal impact on northern Chinese cuisine and the varied influences of Islamic medical science on Chinese medicine.[citation needed]

 

Taking the Mongol Eurasian empire as a point of departure, the ethnogenesis of the Hui, or Sinophone Muslims, can also be charted through the emergence of distinctly Chinese Muslim traditions in architecture, food, epigraphy and Islamic written culture. This multifaceted cultural heritage continues to the present day.[23]

 

 

Islamic Architecture

Main article: Chinese mosques

 

The Niujie Mosque in BeijingThe first Chinese mosque was established in the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty in Xi’an. The Great Mosque of Xi’an, whose current buildings date from the Ming Dynasty, does not replicate many of the features often associated with traditional mosques. Instead, it follows traditional Chinese architecture. Mosques in western China incorporate more of the elements seen in mosques in other parts of the world. Western Chinese mosques were more likely to incorporate minarets and domes while eastern Chinese mosques were more likely to look like pagodas.[24]

 

An important feature in Chinese architecture is its emphasis on symmetry, which connotes a sense of grandeur; this applies to everything from palaces to mosques. One notable exception is in the design of gardens, which tends to be as asymmetrical as possible. Like Chinese scroll paintings, the principle underlying the garden’s composition is to create enduring flow; to let the patron wander and enjoy the garden without prescription, as in nature herself.

 

Mosques of ChinaChinese buildings may be built with either red or grey bricks, but wooden structures are the most common; these are more capable of withstanding earthquakes, but are vulnerable to fire. The roof of a typical Chinese building is curved; there are strict classifications of gable types, comparable with the classical orders of European columns.

 

 

Id Khar MosqueAs in all regions the Chinese Islamic architecture reflects the local architecture in its style. China is renowned for its beautiful mosques, which resemble temples. However in western China the mosques resemble those of the middle east, with tall, slender minarets, curvy arches and dome shaped roofs. In northwest China where the Chinese Hui have built their mosques, there is a combination of east and west. The mosques have flared Chinese-style roofs set in walled courtyards entered through archways with miniature domes and minarets (see Beytullah Mosque). [25] The first mosque was the Great Mosque of Xian, or the Xian Mosque, which was created in the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century.

 

 

Halal food in China

 

A package of halal-certified frozen food (steamed cabbage buns) from Jiangsu province, ChinaMain article: Chinese Islamic cuisine

Due to the large Muslim population in western China, many Chinese restaurants cater to Muslims or cater to the general public but are run by Muslims. In most major cities in China, there are small Islamic restaurants or food stalls typically run by migrants from Western China (e.g., Uyghurs), which offer inexpensive noodle soup. Lamb and mutton dishes are more commonly available than in other Chinese restaurants, due to the greater prevalence of these meats in the cuisine of western Chinese regions. Commercially prepared food can be certified Halal by approved agencies. [26]

 

 

Calligraphy

Main article: Sini (script)

Sini is a Chinese Islamic calligraphic form for the Arabic script. It can refer to any type of Chinese Islamic calligraphy, but is commonly used to refer to one with thick and tapered effects, much like Chinese calligraphy. It is used extensively in mosques in eastern China, and to a lesser extent in Gansu, Ningxia, and Shaanxi. A famous Sini calligrapher is Hajji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang.

 

 

Martial arts

Main article: Muslim Chinese martial arts

Muslim development and participation at the highest level of Chinese wushu has a long history. Many of its roots lie in the Qing Dynasty persecution of Muslims. The Hui started and adapted many of the styles of wushu such as bajiquan, piguazhang, and liuhequan. There were specific areas that were known to be centers of Muslim wushu, such as Cang County in Hebei Province. These traditional Hui martial arts were very distinct from the Turkic styles practiced in Xinjiang.[27]

 

 

Chinese terminology for Islamic institutions

Qīngzhēn (清真) is the Chinese term for certain Islamic institutions. Its literal meaning is “pure truth.”

 

In Chinese, halal is called qīngzhēn cài (清真菜) or “pure truth food.” A mosque is called qīngzhēn sì (清真寺) or “pure truth temple.”

 

 

Famous Muslims in China

 

Explorers

Zheng He, mariner and explorer

Fei Xin, Zheng He’s translator

Ma Huan, a companion of Zheng He

 

Military

Founding generals of the Ming dynasty: Chang Yuchun, Hu Dahai,Lan Yu, Mu Ying

The leaders of the Panthay Rebellion: Du Wenxiu, Ma Hualong

The Ma clique of warlords during the Republic of China era: Ma Bufang, Ma Chung-ying, Ma Fuxiang, Ma Hongkui, Ma Hongbin, Ma Lin, Ma Qi, Ma Hun-shan

Bai Chongxi, general in the Republic of China army

 

Scholars and writers

Bai Shouyi, historian

Tohti Tunyaz, historian

Yusuf Ma Dexin, first translator of the Qur’an into Chinese

Muhammad Ma Jian, author of the most popular Chinese translation of the Qur’an

Liu Zhi, Qing Dynasty author

Wang Daiyu, Master Supervisor of the Imperial Observatory during the Ming Dynasty

Zhang Chengzhi, contemporary author

 

In politics

Hui Liangyu, vice premier in charge of agriculture in the People’s Republic of China

Huseyincan Celil, Uyghur imam imprisoned in China

Xabib Yunic, Education Minister of the Second East Turkistan Republic

Muhammad Amin Bughra, Vice-Chief of the Second East Turkistan Republic

 

Other

Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang, calligrapher

Ma Xianda, martial artist

Ma Menta, organiser of Russia’s Wushu Tongbei Federation

 

 

^ Counting up the number of people of traditionally Muslim nationalities who were enumerated in the 1990 census gives a total of 17.6 million, 96% of whom belong to just three nationalities: Hui 8.6 million, Uyghurs 7.2 million, and Kazakhs 1.1 million. Other nationalities that are traditionally Muslim include Kyrghyz, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Tatars, Salar, Bonan, and Dongxiang. See Dru C. Gladney, “Islam in China: Accommodation or Separatism?”, Paper presented at Symposium on Islam in Southeast Asia and China, Hong Kong, 2002. Available at http://www.islamsymposium.cityu.edu.hk. The 2000 census reported a total of 20.3 million members of Muslim nationalities, of which again 96% belonged to just three groups: Hui 9.8 million, Uyghurs 8.4 million, and Kazakhs 1.25 million.

 

^ There are in China 48,104,241 Mohammedan followers and 42,371 mosques, largely in Sinkiang, Chinghai, Manchuria, Kansu, Yunnan, Shensi, Hopei, and Honan. “Ferm, Vergilius (ed.). An Encyclopedia of Religion; Westport, CT: Greenwood Press (1976), pg. 145. [1st pub. in 1945 by Philosophical Library. 1976 reprint is unrevised.]

^ Based on a post-enumeration survey and related studies, the 2000 census undercounted China’s population by 1.81%. This would amount to some 23 million persons. It is unlikely that any such undercount would consist primarily of members of Muslim nationalities. Instead, the undercount is most often attributed to the floating population of rural to urban migrants (who are not officially registered) and to rural populations in central China – not to minority populations or areas. For discussion of the undercount, see Barbara A. Anderson, “Undercount in China’s 2000 Census in Comparative Perspective,” PSC Research Report Report No. 04-565 (September 2004), Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Available at: http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/pubs/abs.html?ID=1872; and Guangyu Zhang, “Very Low Fertility in China in the 1990s: Reality or An Illusion Arising from Birth Underreporting?,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, April 2004.

 

Islamic Chinese Art (Dru C. Gladney’s photo album on Flickr.com)

The Tibetan Muslims, also known as the Kachee (Kache), form a small minority in Tibet. Despite being Muslim, they are classified as Tibetans, unlike the Hui Muslims, who are also known as the Kyangsha or Gya Kachee (Chinese Muslims). The Tibetan word Kachee literally means Kashmiri and Kashmir was known as Kachee Yul (Yul = Country).

 

Owing to their small population, the Tibetan Muslims are scattered throughout Tibet, much of whom can be found in Lhasa and Shigatse. If those not living in the Tibet Autonomous Region are not excluded, ethnic groups such as the Balti and Burig, who are also of Tibetan origin and consider themselves to be ethnically Tibetan, are Muslims as well. These groups, however, are predominantly found in the Indian-controlled Ladakh and the Pakistani-controlled Baltistan.

 

Ancestry

Generally speaking, the Tibetan Muslims are unique in the fact that they are largely of Kashmiri and Persian/Arab/Turkic descent through the patrilineal lineage and also often descendants of native Tibetans through the matrilineal lineage, although the reverse is not uncommon. Thus, many of them display a mixture of Aryan and indigenous Tibetan features.

 

Owing to Tibetan influence, they have adopted Tibetan names while retaining Persian or Urdu surnames. However, this is not as common as those among the Burig and Balti. In Baltistan or Baltiyul as the natives call it, youngster Muslims have started naming themselves in local Tibetan language like Ali Tsering, Sengge Thsering, Wangchen, Namgyal, Shesrab, Mutik, Mayoor, Gyalmo, Odzer, Lobsang, Odchen, Rinchen, Anchan, and so forth. Among Khaches, although the majority uses Tibetan for daily communication, Urdu or Arabic are used for religious services.

 

After the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Muslims were granted Indian citizenship by the Indian Government, which considered the Tibetan Muslims Kashmiris, and thus Indian citizens, unlike the other Tibetan refugees, who carry Refugee Satus Certificates.

 

 

History

The appearance of the first Muslims in Tibet has been lost in the mists of time, although variants of the names of Tibet can be found in Arabic history books.

 

During the reign of the Ummayad Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz, a delegation from Tibet and China requested him to send Islamic missionaries to their countries, and Salah bin Abdullah Hanafi was sent to Tibet. Between the eighth and ninth centuries, the Abbasid rulers of Baghdad maintained relations with Tibet. However, there was little proselytisation among the missionaries at first, although many of them decided to settle in Tibet and marry Tibetan women. In 710-720,during the reign of Mes-ag-tshoms the Arabs, who now had more of a presence in China, started to appear in Tibet and were allied with them along with the Eastern Turks against the Chinese. During the reign of the Sadnalegs (799-815), under Tride Songtsän (Khri lde srong brtsan – generally known as Sadnalegs) there was a protracted war with Arab powers to the West. It appears that Tibetans captured a number of Arab troops and pressed them into service on the Eastern frontier in 801. Tibetans were active as far West as Samarkand and Kabul. Arab forces began to gain the upper hand, and the Tibetan governor of Kabul submitted to the Arabs and became a Muslim about 812 or 815 [1]

 

The 12th century witnessed a large scale migration of Muslim traders from Kashmir and the Persian Empire to Tibet, most notable was the community that they established in Lhasa. Like their Arab predecessors, these men settled down and married Tibetan women, who followed their husbands’ religion. Proselytisation of Islam first took place in Baltistan and the Suru Valley from the 14th to the 16th centuries, which converted the vast majority of the Tibetan Burig and Balti communities.

 

Especially under the reign of Lozang Gyatso, the Tibetan Muslims led a relatively carefree life, and were given special privileges, in the sense that they were exempted from observing certain Buddhist religious customs. In the 17th century a small community of Muslims flourished in Lhasa working there mainly as butchers.

 

However, with the influx of Kashmiri immigrants to Ladakh and forced conversions of Buddhists to Islam, isolated conflicts between the Buddhists and Muslims were frequent, especially in Leh. There were even cases when members of the Soma Gompa and Jama Masjid came out to fight, thus resulting in tensions between Buddhist and Muslim members of the same family.

 

After the invasion of Tibet in 1959 a group of Tibetan Muslims made a case for Indian nationality based on their historic roots to Kashmir and the Indian government declared all Tibetan Muslims Indian citizens later on that year. [1]

 

 

Culture

As of today, most of the Tibetan Muslims are followers of the Sunni denomination, although the majority of the Balti and Burig are followers of the Shi’a denomination. Despite the factor of their religion, the Tibetan Muslims have comfortably assimilated into the Tibetan community, while following Islamic traditions. On the other hand, the Balti and Burig have partially adopted Iranian customs.

 

Especially in music, the Tibetan Muslims have made contributions to Tibetan culture. The Nangma, also known as Naghma in Urdu which means melody, are high-pitched tilting songs that have been popular among all Tibetans. They have also adopted Tibetan customs, especially in the field of marriage, although they have strictly maintained their Islamic customs at the same time.

 

Tibetan Muslims have unique architectural styles, and this is most notable among the Ladakhi. Mosques, for instance, are built in a quaint blend of Persian and Tibetan styles. This is evidenced in its beautifully decorated walls, sloping walls designed to withstand earthquakes, and even Kada scarfs being hanged at the doorway of the mosques. Shia mosques and Imambaras can be seen with prayer flags with black, green and red colors with Quranic verses on them.

 

Another interesting feature of Tibetan Muslim architecture is that their mosques encompass the Imambara, a small artefact surmounted on the domes of metal sheets.

 

 

Special privileges before Chinese rule

The Tibetan Muslims had their own mosques in Lhasa and Shigatse, and plots of land were given to bury their ancestors. They were also exempted from taking vegetarian meals, on Buddha’s birthday, which is mandatory for all followers of Tibetan Buddhism, and this practice upon the followers of Bön was not excluded. A Ponj (from Urdu/Hindi Pancch meaning village committee or Panchayat) was elected to take care of the affairs within the Tibetan Muslim community.

 

In addition, Muslims were even exempted from removing their caps to Lamas during a period in a year, when the Iron pole Lamas held sway over the town. Muslims were also granted the Mina Dronbo, a status that invited all Tibetans, irrespective of religion, to commemorate the assumption of spiritual and temporal authority by Lozang Gyatso, the fifth Dalai Lama. However, these special privellages ended with the beginning of the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. Like the Buddhists, they were forced into exile, and the Chinese government treated them worse than the Buddhists. Food was not allowed to be sold to the Tibetan Muslims, and their leaders were tried by the government. Life was hard for the Tibetan Muslims until the 1980’s.[citation needed]

 

 

Islam during the Qing Dynasty

The rise of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) made relations between the Muslims and Chinese more difficult. The Qing rulers were Manchu, not Han, and were themselves a minority in China. They employed the tactics of divide and conquer to keep the Muslims, Hans, Tibetans and Mongolians in conflict with each other[citation needed]. The dynasty prohibited ritual slaughtering of animals, followed by forbidding the construction of new mosques and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

 

 Muslim Rebellions in China

 

Early revolts in Xinjiang, Shaanxi and Gansu

From 1755-1757, the Qianlong Emperor was at war with the Dzungars of Dzungaria. With the conquest of the Dzungaria, there was attempt to divide the Xinjiang region into four sub-khanates under four chiefs who were subordinate to the emperor. Similarly, the Qing made members of was a member of the Ak Taghliq clan of East Turkestan Khojas, rulers in the western Tarim Basin, south of the Tianshan Mts. In 1758-59, however, rebellions against this arrangement broke out both north and south of the Tian Shan mountains. Then in the oasis of Ush to the south of Lake Balkash in 1765. In Gansu, disagreements between the adherents of Khafiya and Jahriya, two forms of sufism as well as perceived mismanagement, corruption, and anti-Muslim attitudes of the Qing officials resulted in attempted uprisings by Hui and Salar followers of the Jahriya in 1781 and 1783, but they were promptly suppressed. Kashgaria was able to be free of Qing control during an incursion by Jahangir Khoja who had invaded from Kokand, which lasted from 1820 – 1828. The oases of Kashgar and Yarkand were not recaptured until 1828, after a three year campaign. In Kashgaria, this incursion was followed by another incurision in 1829 by Mahommed Ali Khan and Yusuf Khoja, the brother of Jahangir. In 1846, a new Khoja revolt in Kashgar under Kath Tora led to his accession to rulership of Kashgar as an authoritarian ruler. His reign, however, was brief, for at the end of seventy-five days, on the approach of the Chinese, he fled back to Kokand amid the jeers of the inhabitants..[2] The last of the Khoja revolts was in 1857 under Wali-Khan, a self-indulgent debaucherer , and the murderer of the famous German explorer, Adolf Schlagintweit. Wali Khan had invaded Kashgar from his base in Kokand, capturing Kashgar. Aside from his murder of Adolf Schlagintweit, his cruelty found many other reflections in the local legends. It is said that he killed so many innocent Muslims that four or six minarets were built from the skulls of the victims ( kala minara ); or that once, when an artisan made a sabre for him, he tested the weapon by cutting off the artisan’s son head, who came with his father and was standing nearby, after that with words ” it’s a really good sabre ” he presented artisan with a gift. This reign of tyranny did not make Kashgarians miss the Khoja too much when he was defeated by Qing troops after ruling the city for four months and forced to flee back to Kokand.[3]

 

 

Panthay Rebellion

Main article: Panthay Rebellion

The Panthay Rebellion lasted from 1855 to 1873. The war took place mostly in the southwestern province of Yunnan. Disagreements between Muslim and non-Muslim tin miners was the spark that lit the tensions that led to war. The Muslims were led by, for the most part of the war, by Du Wenxiu (1823-1872). The insurgents took the city of Dali and declared the new nation of Pingnan Guo, meaning “the Pacified Southern Nation”. The eventual suppression of the revolt was bloody and half the population of Yunnan is believed to have disappeared.[4]

 

 

Dungan Revolt

Main article: Dungan revolt

The Dungan revolt by the Hui from the provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang, lasted from 1862 to 1877. The number of lives lost in the suppression of the rebellion is reckoned to be several million.[4] The failure of the revolt led to the flight of many Dungan people into Imperial Russia.

 

 

Culture

However, even in the Qing dynasty, Muslims had many mosques in the large cities, with particularly important ones in Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and other places (in addition to those in the western Muslim reigions). The architecture typically employed traditional Chinese styles, with Arabic-language inscriptions being the chief distinguishing feature. Many Muslims held government positions, including positions of importance, particularly in the army.

 

As travel between China and the Middle East became easier, Sufism spread throughout the Northwestern China in the early decades of the Qing Dynasty (mid-17th century through early 18th century).[5] The most important Sufi orders (menhuan) included:

 

The Qadiriyya, which was established in China through Qing Jingyi also known as Hilal al-Din (1656-1719), student of the famous Central Asian Sufi teachers, Khoja Afaq and Kjoja Abd Alla. He was known among the Hui Sufis as Qi Daozu (Grand Master Qi). The shrine complex around “great tomb” (da gongbei) in Linxia remains the center of the Qadiriyya in China.

The Khufiyya: a Naqshbandi order.

The Jahriyya: another Naqshbandi menhuan, founded by Ma Mingxin.

 

 

 

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, which was hostile to Muslims, there appeared to be a reason for hope as Sun Yat Sen, who led the new republic, immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Hui (Muslim), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan) peoples. When the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, Muslims were to again suffer repression, especially in the cultural revolution.

 

Republic of China

The end of the Qing dynasty marked an increase in Sino-foreign interaction. This led to increased contact between Muslim minorities in China and the Islamic states of the Middle East. A missionary, Claude Pickens was a well-known Hui who had made the hajj between 1923 and 1934. By 1939, at least 33 Hui Muslims had studied at Cairo’s Al-Azhar university. In 1912, the Chinese Muslim Federation was formed in the capital Nanjing. Similar organization formed in Beijing (1912), Shanghai (19250 and Jinan (1934).[1]

 

Academic activities within the Muslim community also flourished. Before the Sino-Japanese War of 1937, there existed more than a hundred known Muslim periodicals. Thirty journals were published between 1911 and 1937. Although Linxia remained the center for religious activities, many Muslim cultural activities had shifted to Beijing.[2]

 

In the first decade of the 20th century, it has been estimated that there were between 3 million and 50 million Muslims in China proper (that is, China excluding the regions of Mongolia and Xinjiang). [3] Of these, almost half resided in Gansu, over a third in Shaanxi (as defined at that time) and the rest in Yunnan.

 

The Manchu dynasty fell in 1911, and the Republic of China was established by Sun Yat Sen, who immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Hui (Muslim), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan) peoples. This led to some improvement in relations between these different peoples.

 

 

People’s Republic of China

The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. Through many of the early years there were tremendous upheavals which culminated in the Cultural Revolution.

 

During the Cultural Revolution the Government attempted to dilute the Muslim population of Xinjiang by settling masses of Han Chinese there, and replacing Muslim leaders. The government constantly accused Muslims and other religious groups of holding “superstitious beliefs” and promoting “anti-socialist trends”.[3]

 

Since the advent of Deng Xiaopeng in 1979, the Chinese government liberalised its policies toward Islam and Muslims. New legislation gave all minorities the freedom to use their own spoken and written languages; develop their own culture and education; and practice their religion.[4] More Chinese Muslims than ever before are allowed to go on the Hajj.[5]

 

 

China today

Under China’s current leadership, Islam is undergoing a modest revival and there are now many mosques in China. There has been an upsurge in Islamic expression and many nation-wide Islamic associations have been organised to co-ordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims.

 

In most of China, Muslims have considerable religious freedom, however, in areas like Xinjiang, where there has been unrest among Uighur Muslims, activities are restricted.

 

China is fighting an increasingly protracted struggle against members of its Uighur minority, who are a Turkic people with their own language and distinct Islamic culture. Uighar separatists are intent on re-establishing the state of East Turkistan, which existed for a few years in the 1920s.

 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, China feared potential separatist goals of Muslim majority in Xinjiang. An April, 1996 agreement between Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikstan and Kyrgyztan, however, assures China of avoiding a military conflict. Other Muslim states have also asserted that they have no intentions of becoming involved in China’s internal affairs.[6]

 

China fears the influence of radical Islamic thinking filtering in from central Asia, and the role of exiles in neighbouring states and in Turkey, with which Xinjiang’s majority Uighur population shares linguistic ties.[7] After, September 11, many “ethnic” Muslims were forcibly evicted from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.[8]

 

Muslim nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey support Muslims in China. Turhan Tayan, the defense minister of Turkey, recently told China

 

“…many people living [in Xinjiang] are our relatives and that we will always be interested in those people’s welfare. Our government is and will continue to be sensitive over the plight of our Turkic and Muslim brothers throughout the world.”

 

China, however, continues to stress national unity.[9]

 

 

 

Xinjiang Province

 

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region covers over 1,600,000 square kilometers (617,763 square miles), one-sixth of China’s total territory, making it China’s largest province. Xinjiang borders Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. With a population of over 19 million, Xinjiang is home to 47 ethnic groups including the Uygur, the major ethnic group in Xinjiang.

 

Being one of China’s five major pastoral areas, it has advanced livestock breeding. Its main industries cover petroleum, coal, textile, foodstuff and metallurgy. Vast in area, Xinjiang has various types of geographical conditions and multitude of regional and ethnic cultures, as well as abundant historical and cultural resources. Among its scenic spots and historical sites are while popular Ravin of Jianhu in Urumqi, Heavenly Lake of the Tianshan Mountain, Flaming Mountains of Turpan, The Mosque in Kaxi, ancient city ruins of Lanlo etc. Main traditional and famous specialties comprise carpet, leather, fine-cashmere, Hami melon and seedless grapes.

 

Yunnan ProvinceDian is short for Yunnan. It lies in the southwest in China. It is more than 380 thousand square kilometers in area. The population is 37.7 million.

 

Yunnan is located in Yungui Plateau. The hilly land occupied 93 percent of the area. And the basin only occupied 6 percent. The topography her is complicated. Approximately, the northwestern part is higher than the southern part. The rivers are parts of Jinsha River, Nu River, Nan pan River, Yuan River and Yiluowadi River. It is the moist monsoon climate of tropical highland in subtropical zone. The vertical change is very striking. Yun nan abounds in mineral resources. Mainly, there is tin, zinc, titanium, copper, antimony, and phosphorous.

Non-ferrous metals, tobacco and sugar production are in the first places in China. In agriculture, mainly, there is rice, rape and tobacco. Sugar-cane, tobacco, tea and tropical crops are in the important places in our country. The main communication is railway. The highway is important too.

In Yunnan, there is a lot of natural scene. The places of interest here are Dian Spring, Cang Mountain in Dali, Xishuang banna and so on. The traditional specialties are Dali sculpture, Yun tobacco, Yun tea, Yun medicinal herbs and silver ornament.

 

 

‘Pumpkin positive’ Tatmadaw and SPDC Generals

  ‘Pumpkin positive’

Tatmadaw and SPDC Generals

While reading the AFP news from Paris, I unexpectedly visualized that our beloved SPDC generals  are suffering almost all the diseases mentioned.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that Dr Paul Keeley, a consultant in the department of palliative medicine at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland wrote to the weekly BMJ to report a sample of new words that British doctors use among themselves.

They include:

Disco biscuits: The clubbers’ drug ecstasy. As in: ‘The man in cubicle three looks like he’s taken one too many disco biscuits.’

May be the readers could name the children of the SPDC Generals who are known as drug addicts.

For example, General Ne Win’s son with his first wife was notorious for drugs and gambling.

Hasselhoff: Term for any patient who shows up in the emergency room with an injury for which there is a bizarre explanation. Source: Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff, who hit his head on a chandelier while shaving. The broken glass severed four tendons and and an artery in his right arm.

I am sure late S3 General Tin Oo’s helicopter crashed wounds could be quite appropriate for this terminology, Hasselhoff.

Agnostication: A substitute for prognostication. Term used to describe the usually vain attempt to answer the question: ‘How long have I got, doc?’

May be the Senile General, sorry Sr General need to ask this question to his doctor.

Blamestorming: Apportioning of blame after the wrong leg or kidney is removed or some other particularly egregious foul-up happens.

This Blamestorming is the most important thing the SPDC Generals will need to do at the ICC.

404 moment: The point in a doctor’s ward round when medical records cannot be located. Comes from World Wide Web error message, ‘404 – document not found’.

Could explain the H.E. Professor Sergio Pinheiro’s condition in his latest Myanmar visit. A lot of 404 moments in investigating the dead demonstrators, MIA missing in action monks, illegally arrested persons’ where about etc.

Testiculation: Description of a gesture typically used by hospital consultant ‘when holding forth on subject on which he or she has little knowledge’. Gesture is of an upturned hand with outstretched fingers pointed upwards, clutching an invisible pair of testicles.

This Testiculation gesture is the Curious gesture typically received by Mr Pinheiro during the brief hurriedly done investigations of the relevant local authorities, police, hospital authorities and Ye Way Crematorium administrative officers.

Other slang used by doctors, according to past letters to the BMJ, included UBI (for ‘Unexplained Beer Injury’). We should reserve this term for Sr General Maung Aye.

PAFO (‘Pissed And Fell Over’) may describe the moribund status of General Khin Nyunt.

Code Brown, or a faecal incontinence emergency. According to earlier rumors, Than Shwe was supposed to be in this condition but because of the twist of fate, Daw Kyaing Kyaing is reported to be the real patient.

CTD means ‘Circling The Drain’, I hope our readers could rightly diagnose which general is in the state of CTD.

GPO signifies ‘Good for Parts Only’. I hope Daw Kyaing Kyaing is not in that condition. Ne Win, Tin Oo and Soe Win are even no more in  this state.

‘Rule of Five’ means that if more than five of the patient’s orifices are obscured by tubing, he has no chance. We all hope and pray that all top five SPDC Generals would deteriorate into this state soon for the numerous SINS they are committing on all the Burmese citizens, including the monks.

A patient who is ‘giving the O-sign’ is very sick, lying with his mouth open. This is followed by the ‘Q-sign’ – when the tongue hangs out of the mouth – when the patient becomes terminal.

The whole SPDC Junta is now ‘giving the O-sign’ and rapidly deteriorating into the ‘Q-sign’.

As for genetic quirks or inbreeding, FLK means ‘Funny Looking Kid’ and NFN signifies ‘Normal For Norfolk’, a rural English county. I curiously have seen the ‘Funny Looking Kid’ picture of the son of the biggest crony of the FIRST FAMILY of Myanmar.

General practitioners may use LOBNH (‘Lights On But Nobody Home’) or the impressively bogus Oligoneuronal to mean someone who is thick.

LOBNH (‘Lights On But Nobody Home’) in the VVIP’s residences in Naypyidaw, because they used to stay in Yangon or May Myo or Pyin Oo Lwin. Mr Gambari found out that Sr General was quite THICK and the impressively bogus Oligoneuronal.

But they also have a somewhat poetic option: ‘Pumpkin positive’, referring to the idea that the person’s brain is so tiny that a penlight shone into his mouth will make his empty head gleam like a Halloween pumpkin. –

We need to conclude with this last terminology, ‘Pumpkin positive’ could describe to all the SPDC Junta Generals and each and every General in the Myanmar Tatmadaw.

 

 

 

RESPONSE OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ON PERSECUTION OF MUSLIMS IN MYANMAR

RESPONSE OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
ON PERSECUTION OF MUSLIMS IN MYANMAR

  

  1. On discrimination of Muslims in Myanmar.
  2. On the Anti-Muslim riots in Myanmar.
  3. On the undemocratic Myanmar Military Government.
  4. On discrimination and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims of Arakan State, Myanmar.
  5. On the Myanmar Migrants including Myanmar Muslims and Rohingyas.
  6. On the various Myanmar Refugees.
  7. On the Myanmar Citizens visa for various purposes, Social visit, Tourist Visa, Student    Passes, Work Permits, Employment Passes, Professional Passes, Dependent Passes  etc.
  8. On the Permanent Residence and Citizen applications.
  9. On the issue of taking tough actions on Myanmar by the ASIAN.
  10. On the investment and trade in Myanmar.
  11. On the opposing parties in and outside Myanmar.
  12. The stands and responses of the various media, NGOs, opposition leaders of foreign   governments, UN, Human Right Associations, ILO, Islamic Organizations and Amnesty    International etc.
  13. Myanmar citizens opinion on the international community including ASEAN.Myanmar Muslims opinion on the International Muslims and on Muslim governments of  ASIAN.
  14. Myanmar Military leaders opinion on the International community, west, ASIAN, Muslim   countries and etc.

Note: I had compiled these data and written this article since early 90’s. So although it may look as an old issues at the first look  but sadly they are still relevant at the present. International community and Muslim countries around the world and ASEAN are in the same stage of closing their one eye on the atrocities of Myanmar Military on the Muslims in Burma. Although after the photo-video evidence of the recent brutal crack down on the peaceful demonstrations of Buddhist Monks and the people, stood as the clear evidence of what the Myanmar Military would commit inorder to be able to continue grasping the ruling power. The worse is their remaining half opend one eye was also partially blind with greed of their self interest of investments in Myanmar.

The following is the news report taken from The Star April 5 1993.(Malaysia) in order to guess the Malaysian Government’s stand on the Muslim Refugees from Myanmar. 

Poser over status of Myanmar Refugees

By SHAHANAAZ SHER HABIB. 

KUALA LUMPUR-. 

It is difficult to believe that those coming from Thailand were genuine Rohingya refugees, said-Deputy Home Minister Datuk Megat.

Junid Megat Ayob said yesterday.“Rohingyas are from the western part of Myanmar. It is impossible for them to pass through themainland of Myanmar and through Thailand down to Haadyai and to Malaysia without being caught”.

Surely, if they are pressed by the government, they would have been caught in Yangon as theywere trying to come over,” he said.Megat Junid was commenting on the 4,800 Rohingya Muslim refugees, claimed by the UNHCRto be in the country.

“Those coming by boat to Penang from west Myanmar might be genuine Rohilngyas”, Megat Junid said. He was speaking to reporters after opening the Malaysia-China Friendship Association’s first annual general meeting.

To suggestions that there were over – 4 000 Rohingyas refugees in the country, Megat Junid said he had to determine if it was true. He said there were many who claimed to be Rohingyas to take advantage of the good times in the country.

They would be deemed as illegal immigrants and will be sent back to their country.

Megat Junid said there had been cases where the respective embassies refused to take responsibility for the illegal immigrants.

  1. In such cases, we will detain them,
  2. have them work in prison
  3. and earn their passage back to their country,” he said.

They would not be allowed to work legally in the country, he said.

Asked whether Malaysia was practicing double standards,

Megat Junid said it was not so as the refugees should “come in the correct way”

“The Bosnians proved they had been pressed and were real war refugees.

]But as for the Myanmarese who came  in through Haddyai, it is very difficult to say whether were war refugees”, he said.

He also said Abim or other associations could take up the Rohingya cause.

According to UNHCR acting representative for Malaysia and Brunei, Sten  Bronee, to date some 4,600 Rohingyas here had been registered with the UNHCR as having refugee status.To a question, Bronee said the Rohingyas worked illegally in the country to support themselves.

That was in 1993. We have to thank the Malaysian Government even for closing their one eye SOMETIMES, allowing our Rohingya brothers to temporarily stay and work illegally in Malaysia. But they are still not accepted officially by the relevant authorities here although there were repeated “official” rumours but still need to renew the pass at the UNHCR office every six months.

We here by want to thank UNHCR and ABIM for helping our brothers. They are just refugees and they accept the help from ABIM, because the responsible Malaysian Government Authorities like the Deputy Home Minister at that time had officially advised them, which could be seen in the above Newspaper report: The Star April 5 1993.(Malaysia).

But now that very powerful (at least his remarks reported above were cruel, false, ill advised and AGAINST the International norms as ILO could take action to any government using forced labour in detention centers.)  That Deputy Home Minister (believed to be acting like defacto Home Minister) lost his job, lost his parliamentry seat and also his new wife and is in ICU with terminal Prostate cancer.

Our brothers, Burmese Muslims and Rohingyas are like drowning person; if some one extended the helping hand, they no choice or have a chance to look at the face but to accept that. The most important and right thing to do is to hold the extended helping hand to get out of the water. So ABIM extended the helping hand and the Malaysian authorities advised the Rohingyas to accept that.

May we just refresh the events then with the newspaper reports.Let’s look at the another article published in_

 Berita Harian, 2 May 1997.

Report by Mohd. Shah Abdullah from Kota Bharu.

“Before Accepting Myanmar (Burma) into ASEAN”

Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) asked Malaysian government and ASEAN countries to study more from different aspects about the Burmese military junta’s behavior before accepting as a new membership.

ABIM’s president Asst.Prof Dr. Mohd Nur Manuty questioned about the very much unsatisfactory human right record of Burmese junta in general and its ill treatment on Muslims in particular. 

He mentioned that ABIM have the full information about the juntas role behind the recent razing of several mosques in Rangoon, Mandalay and other big cities in central Burma as well as the new exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Arakan State.

He also pointed out that the Burmese military junta didn’t respect the opinion of Muslim community and OIC( Organization of Islamic Countries),on the issues related to the Muslims in that country. 

“Whatever the good result will be (after accepting Myanmar into ASEAN), the ill fate of Muslims must be put into strong consideration “, he told to reporters after opening the ABIMs 24th. State Annual General Meeting in Kelantan.

ABIM was asked to comment about the American State Department spokesman Nicholas Bum recently lobbying ASEAN to put pressure on Burma and not to accept into ASEAN this year.  Burn stated that it would make more democratization process and better human rights record in Burma. 

However, Malaysian Foreign minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (now the PM of Malaysia)said ASEAN have the independent decision to bring Burma into the grouping and the American pressure will not effect it.

Also present at the meeting was YDP ABIM Kelantan Mostapha Mohammad, Deputy Secretary of the Kelantan State Kassirn Mohammad and Deputy YDP of Kelantan Islamic Affairs Council (MAIK) Datuk Ashaari Azmi Abdulla.  Dr. Mohd Nur said ABIM is not influenced by Washington’s policy but urging ASEAN to be careful about the human right record of Myanmar before attempting major decision.

According to Dr Mohd Nur, ABIM was called for a discussion with the Secretary General of Foreign Affairs on Myanmar issue earlier.  ” ABIM is ready to meet again and discuss more details with Malaysian Foreign Minister, Ambassador of Myanmar in Kuala Lumpur and ASEAN Secretariat about the Myanmar’s entry into the ASEAN.”

“We also believe that the Burmese military junta is hiding and misleading information related to the Muslims in Burma”.

Below is the another view of a Malaysian on the treatment of Migrants in Malaysia and Australia.

How are we different from Pauline Hanson?

By Verna Kanargaratnam.Kuala Lumpur. Star Newspaper. March 1997.

I AM compelled to agree with Stephanie Poh Shan Shan in her letter entitled Aussies are against racism too (Speaking Up, Feb 25).

I have lived in Western Australia for three years as a student and returned to Malaysia in 1994.  Since my return I have been back to Australia twice on holiday to visit my friends who are all Australians.

The current issue on the statement by Pauline Hanson has been blown out of proportion in our papers here.  During my visit to Perth last December, I asked my friends what they thought of her statement.  All my friends opposed it, saying it was unjust and unfair as most Australians are against racism.

Racism happens in almost every country and most often against the minority group. 

I find it really hypocritical of Malaysians who claim that Australians are racist when they themselves are racist.

  • Take for example the Indonesian and Bangladeshi workers in our country today.  There have been reports that there are_
  • too many of them so much so
  • they are jeopardizing the jobs of our local people. 
  • They have also been blamed for the increase in crime rate,
  • for spoiling our manpower market since they are willing to work for very low wages and longer hours, and the list goes on. 

Now, which profit-making company will not employ them rather than our locals if their profit margin can be increased?  It’s simple economic sense. Likewise, this situation also happens in Australia where Asians are a minority and quite willing to work below minimum wage. 

Hanson also states that the crime rate will increase if Australia is ‘swarnped’ by Asians which is not a very fair statement.  Her statement about Asians migrating to Australia is similar to what we are saying about immigrants from our neighbouring countries. 

So in what way are we different from Pauline Hanson?

From my experience, Australians in general are very warm people and I have lived with them for three years as a student with no racial problems.I also think it is very rude to go to a country and call its people lazy and stupid.  What right have we got to judge them on their own soil?  They have different priorities from Malaysians.  Just because Australians are not as materialistic as Asians does not make them any more lazy than we are greedy.Calling them stupid is a joke, because we willingly pay thousands of dollars for our children to be educated by these so-called less intelligent human beings.  Now, would you accept people who did and said such things about you with open arms?

So Malaysians, give it a break. If you really try, I am sure Australia won’t be as bad as you perceive it to be. Stephanie and I are living proof. 

 Let’s read this Bernama report printed in The Star, March 9, 1992. 

KUALA LUMPUR:

Malaysia has asked Myanmar to stop the oppression of Rohingya Muslims, many of whom have been forced to flee the country.

Foreign Minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday, that the refugees should be allowed to return to Mynmar with the promise that no action would be taken against them.

He said Malaysia viewed with grave concern the action that had been taken, particularly by the Myanmar military against the community.

The Foreign Ministry would convey Malaysia’s stand to Mr U Ko, the Myanmar ambassador here.

He said Malaysia would also inform its permanent representative in the United Nations to support any decision of the world body on the matter. “We have been observing developments following action taken against the community.”

Abdullah said_

  1. Malaysia did not think that its position meant interference in Myanmar’s domestic affairs because
  2. Myanmar’s action had burdened neighbouring countries
  3. and might disrupt stability in the region.
  4. He said Yangan should cease all actions against the Rohingya Muslims in order to stem the outflow of refugees from the country.

We hope that his eyes would not be blurred now by Malaysia’s investment and trades with SPDC.  

Newspapers reported that some 135,000 Rohingya Muslims from the Arakan province had fled into Bangladesh so far. The arrival of the refugees had worsened the economic and social problems of Bangladesh, which has a population of 111 million. An officer of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said yesterday in Dhaka that Bangladesh would be faced with a “major disaster” unless the flow of the refugees was checked.      

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad had said on Saturday that the plight of the Rohingya Muslims should be resolved immediately.

He said this after chairing a meeting of the Umno Supreme Council here. 

New Straits Times, Malaysia,

THURSDAY, MARCH 12,1992

Islamic nations slam Myanmar for  persecuting Muslims

NICOSIA, Wed. – The 46 nation Organization of ‘Islamic Conference (OIC) today condemned Myanmar for what it termed a campaign of repression and persecution against its Muslim community.

OIC secretary-general Hamid al-Gabid urged member States and foreign countries to provide “generous assistance” to Bangladesh where around 180,000 Burmese Muslims have taken refuge since December.

The OIC “strongly condemns the campaign of repression and persecution being waged by the Myanmar authorities and which is characterized by flagrant abuses of the human rights of the Muslim  Myanmar people,” he said in a statement.

The campaign, which Gabid said, was accompanied by “threats and intimidations” against Dhaka, had led to the exodus of more than 180,000 Muslims  known as Rohingyas to Bangladesh.

He said the OIC, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has sent a mission to Bangladesh to study relief needs.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has appealed for US$27.5 million (MR-71.5) in emergency aid for refugees, who it says may number 300,000 by the end of April.

In Singapore, the Foreign Ministry expressed concern that the influx of Myanmar Muslim refugees into Bangladesh could lead to regional instability.

“The influx of large numbers of refugees from Myanmar into Bangladesh is creating a potential area of instability for the region and human suffering.”

Singapore hopes that the Myanmar authorities would take action that would allow the refugees to return home safely and thus defuse a potential source of regional in stability and tension,” a Ministry spokesman said in a statement.

In Islamabad, a Foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistan had conveyed its concern to Myanmar. “We have been in touch with the Myanmar Government,” he said, adding “we hope that the Muslim minority will be treated with sympathy and understanding and their freedom and human rights will be respected”.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh went on a diplomatic offensive and flew a group of 45  Western, Asian and Arab diplomats to the camps.

A Bangladesh Foreign Ministry official said the diplomatic visit was part of a Government plan to “internationalize the issue to force Myanmar to take back its nationals and guarantee their safety”.

“We are also seriously working on the possibility of calling an emergency meeting of the UN Security council to discuss the issue,” he said. – Agencies.    

The following is one of the best articles I have read in Malaysian Newspapers. We want to congratulate for her well-done research and bravery in writing the truth against the will of some people in authority. It was written in the_

Sun Newspaper on August 24 1996, by Sheryll Stothard. 

“Malaysia’s moral blackout”.

A media release I received last week ended with a quote from Cenpeace spokesman,Fan Yew Teng

“Last week, we had an electricity black out and our Prime Minister said he was as ashamed.

This week we have a moral black out and no one talks about it.”         

He was referring to the five day state visit of General Than Shwe, head of Burma’s- oh- sorry Myanmar’s SLORC.

As a Malaysian, I have to question the inconsistency in our foreign poicy as far as repressive leaders are concerned. 

As a taxpayer, I protest that some of my tax dollars have been spent on hosting representative from one of the most repressive immoral and backward “governments” in the world. I am not an activist. In fact, I frequently am irritated by the holier-than-thou exhortations NGOs are sometimes given to.  Yet, in this situation, I am sure I echo the feelings of many non-NGO, non-activist Malaysians as far as the SLORC is concerned.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Why can’t I accept Asean’s poli-constructive engagement” with the SLORC.

For one thing, I cannot reconcile myself with Malaysia’s split I identity problem when it comes to human rights abuses in foreign countries. Flying in the face of established Western agendas over the last decade, Malaysia has been laudably vocal in condemning human rights abuses such as Bosnia, the Middle East, Chechnya and South Africa.

However that well-known Malaysian moral outrage tapers off into a whimper as we get closer to home. We dismissthe atrocities in East Timor even to the extent of saying that Malaysians  who get killed in the crossfire deserve it.  Indonesia is a member of the Asean and we cannot criticize our partners – which seem to be the underlying reason.

With Myanmar, we don’t even, have that excuse, however feeble.

Why invite Southeast Asia’s version of Radovan Karadzic as a state guest to our country?

  1. The economic reasons aren’t even compelling enough to warrant mention.  Surely, we’re making enough money economically in Vietnam, Cambodia and various impoverished African states.  Why Myanmar? 
  2. Take away the bleeding heart liberalist rhetoric of Western proponents of democracy. 
  3. Take away even the personality cult of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi.
  4. Take away the Western threats of economic sanctions. 
  5. Take away all that, even John Boorman’s silly movie Beyond Rangoon. 

What do we have?

The SLORC was formed in September 1988 and promptly declared martial law. 

This was just an academic continuance of the brutal regime of Ne Win and his military cronies who assumed power after a coup in 1962. 

Earlier in 1988, the army gunned down pro-democracy students and started a nationwide offensive against the country’s brightest- who were the only hope Myanmar had for a long time.

How can any one shoot their children?

Why bother to educate them and then gun them down like defenseless animals in the streets.

How can we accept this?

Why rave about Bosnia when we accept and condone the same in Myanmar?

What does that say about us.Malaysians are frequently referred and look up to by the international Muslim community as respected spokesman for the faith.

Yet we have invited a representative of a “government” responsible for the decimation of Rohingya Muslims in the Arakan area of Myanmar. Since the SLORC took over till 1992, over 26o,ooo Muslim Myanmarese have fled the country. Backed by the SLORC, a border development programme was introduced for the purpose of forcibly removing the Muslim population from the country’s north-western frontier. The SLORC says that there are 690,000 Muslims in the Arakanese area. Muslim groups and the Bangladeshi government calculate the population at 1.4 million. 

That’s quite a lot of Muslims for the SLORC to kick out rape, maim and kill.

I have been using the word “government” loosely in reference to the SLORC/SPDC. 

  1. Well, technically and morally I am wrong and so is anyone else who thinks so.
  2. In May 1990, the National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in Myanmar’s general elections, winning 392 of the 485 seats available, despite the harsh conditions imposed on the NLD and on Aung San Suu Kyi by the military.
  3. When it was time to hand over power to the elected government, the SLORC responded by throwing NLD-MPs into jail. 
  4. Many have been tortured and killed since.
  5. So whom have we invited to Malaysia and aligned ourselves to?
  6. The leader of military generals who are completely in their willingness to kill and enslave the people of Myanmar.

To businessman who has jumped on the bandwagon to Myanmar, some cautionary advice is in order. Even if you amoral, doing business with the SLORC is a huge investment risk. 

  1. You might initially make some money off a population enslaved by the SLORC.
  2. But enjoy the short ride while it lasts.
  3. If the SLORC/SPDC can decimate and kill its own people, it is unlikely that they will honour any agreement made with foreigners the moment higher bidder – whether Asian or Western turns up.
  4. Malaysians have a responsibility to ensure that our reputation for tolerance and moral integrity in this region is not compromised, The future of Myanmar is in the hands of Asean, not the West.  We are in the position to effect much needed change in that country. 
  5. In light of the SLORC’s history, “constructive engagement” is not the way to go. 
  6. We are not doing the people of Mvanmar a favour by inviting their leaders to our country to talk business.
  7. Instead, we have justified the oppression. 

And in the case of Malaysian companies doing business there, we’re just twisting the knife in deeper.

And for that, I am truly and deeply ashamed.  Surely, we are better than that.  Or are we? 

And the following is the response of the Thailand Newspaper.1.6.97.

THE NATION EDITORIAL. 

“SHAMEFUL FOR ASEAN TO EMBRACE BURMA” 

Asean will never be the same again. 

  1. By embracing Burma as a member it has itself become a pariah organization. 
  2. Coming as it does on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the decision yesterday will have repercussions far beyond whatever Asean leaders may envisage. 
  3. It has indeed irreversibly damaged the organization’s integrity and setback some three decades of achievement.
  4. We firmly believe the applications for membership by Burma, Laos and Cambodia should be judged on their individual merits and readiness, just as it has always been in other regional organizations. 
  5. But still, these qualifications are secondary to their peoples’ desire for freedom and democracy.
  6. To accept Burma without any conditions is to ignore the aspirations of the Burmese people., who voted for Aung San Suu Kyils National League for Democracy (NLD in 1990.
  7. Why bless a regime that is clearly not legitimate? 
  8. A regime that is willing to go back on its word.
  9. From the beginning, the Burmese junta’s motive in bidding for membership of Asean was obvious a regional aegis to prolong its own repressive rule and to fight against Western pressure for openness. 
  10. By exploiting Asean’s strengths and weaknesses the junta leaders have been able to turn the membership issue into an East-West divide – Asean against the West.
  11. In the two years Burma has sought a closer rapport with Asean it has never lived up to regional or international norms of conduct and behaviour. 
  12. Now, Asean would like us and the world to believe that as a member of Asean, the Slorc leaders will be more enlightened, Open-minded and less oppressive.
  13. The Asean leaders’ decision yesterday was a triumph of evil over humanity. 
  14. There is a Thai saying that one rotten fish can spoil the whole basket of fish.

The biggest disappointment must be those Thai leaders who failed to play appropriate roles in leading Asean.  Partisan politics and self-interest on the part of various authorities completely destroyed the unanimity of Thailand’s positions and policies.  They will have to beat responsibility for the future of the Burmese people.Nonetheless, we welcome the decision to take in Laos and Cambodia, despite the political uncertainty in Phnom Penh.  Laos has been preparing for this eventuality the longest, knowing full well their inadequacies.  The Laotian and Cambodian peoples are supportive of their governments’ desire to join Asean.

Actually Thailand Newspapers_

  1. are independent
  2. and not the mouthpiece of the Thai government.
  3. They are usually critical
  4. but always give fair reporting in any subject about any country.
  5. They have a lot of dignity
  6. and command respect.
  7. Not only in reporting
  8. but comments
  9. and even sometimes predictions also done sometimes.
  10. They are famous for the investigative reporting,
  11. which is very rare and impossible to find in this part of the world.
  12. For example, the Nation published the full page article of Bertil Lintner, predicting that Ne Win will create an anti-Muslim riots in 1988, two months earlier than the actual happening.
  13. He had even predicted correctly that, that racial riots will backfire and the resulting snowball effect will cause the downfall of Ne Win.
  14. When compare to the news blackout regarding the Anti-Muslim riots of Burma in Muslim Asean countries, it was a very brave stand we all should applaud.
  15. We had sent the news to those “Muslim” newspapers, personally as well as by post- but they refused to publish giving the lame excuse as those were sensitive news for their countries. What a BULL SHIT, New Straits Times and Stars. The Stars decided it is not sensitive when their fellow Chinese were suffering in Indonesia during Anti-Chinese Riots.
  16. Although Thailand is a Buddhist dominant country, have a sizable population of Muslim population, situated very near and even shared a common border with Burma, they never cover up those racial riots against Muslims by giving lame excuse as a sensitive issue.
  17. They even published the colour photographs of the Buddhist Monks destroying the Mosques and tearing and throwing the Holy Korans.
  18. But the Asian Muslim newspapers cowardly blackout those even when offered the photos.

On 17th. Jan 1999 night on Malaysian NTV7’s Date line programme_

  1. we have seen a disgusting and a shameful comment from a Chinese Journalist from the Star English newspaper from Malaysia.
  2. We even want to vomit. While denouncing the foreign newspapers, he mentioned that even the Asean newspapers are the same and he especially picked the Thailand newspapers.
  3. He complained that the Thai newspapers keep on writing about Myanmar.
  4. What is wrong with that, my stupid “Syncophant journalist”?
  5. You have no right to comment about Thailand and Myanmar.
  6. You are disqualified to comment according to your “ASEAN SPIRIT”.
  7. Don’t interfere in our internal affairs.
  8. We know your very poor basic general knowledge when you comment to the CNBC that United States is a racially homogenous country!
  9. CNBC representative hit you back immediately with irrefutable proof that he himself is a “Black” and there are a lot of sensitivities to be careful in his country but they have to always reveal the truth.
  10. And you have stupidly said that there is no such thing as investigative reporting as far as you are concern.
  11. And you have shamelessly agree that your profession here is to support establishment. Don’t call yourself a journalist. You are just the propaganda specialist or advertisement section officer only.
  12. We don’t care your “duties” here, even if you refused to print the atrocities against the Muslims in Myanmar but please do not stupidly interfere or condemn the Thai newspapers’ good job of reporting of Myanmar.
  13. We hope you are not the victim of “turn over” by the Myanmar Military.
  14. Who knows, the carrot and stick can come from any-where. But fear and favour should not dictate a good journalist.

The previous youth leader although a Muslim, announced in the newspapers that he had recently came back from Myanmar and there were no Anti-Muslim activities there.

  1. He was later removed from office because of unrelated another reason but who knows, may be because of that sin against the religion.
  2. His deputy promised to head a team to go to Myanmar to probe the truth.
  3. But no official report came out when they returned.

In Islam, if some one commit a sin or wrong doing, we must respond in one of the three grades of responses, according to our Iman or Faith.

  1. If we have enough power, we have to physically use forced to stop that.
  2. If we are weak to use force, we have to verbally protest our displeasure and tell to stop that.
  3. If we are too weak and dare not open our mouth, at least we have to hate that act in our heart. This is the weakest Iman or Faith in Islam.This is our faith and is a mandatory in Islam.
  4. If we help the wrong doer by covering up, it is a sin not only according to the religion, but also committing a crime according to the human laws.
  5. If someone knows that another person is committing a crime and kept quiet, it is a sheer cowardice.
  6. But if his silence is for some hidden agenda or undisclosed benefits he could get from that person i.e. to save his personal interest he also is guilty and partially responsible for that crime.
  7. And we must consider the possible consequent mischief of, for example the repetition of that crime or progression into committing of more atrocities.
  8. If that person covers up and says that nothing is wrong, he is guilty for obstructing the justice.
  9. It is curious to note that not only the Muslim countries in ASIAN but also the remaining Islamic countries have failed to help the Muslims of Myanmar effectively.

OIC countries, leaders and all the Arabs are almost always busy with Palestinian-Israel and Iraq problems and infightings amongst themselves.

  1. But the Christian welfare organizations,
  2. Christian Western Countries
  3. and the “notorious” (more correctly famous for the Myanmar Muslims) George Soros (of Jew faith) are helping the Myanmar Muslims.
  4. Even the Rohingya leader Professor Zakaria had voiced his concern about those strange phenomena. He is rightfully worried about the possible consequences of the growing influences of those non-Muslim donors and helpers.
  5. No wonder not only the whole population of Myanmar peoples but the Muslims there hate all the governments of Asean.

Asean said that they were accepting the Myanmar as a country. But all these governments done all the dealings with the Military government. Myanmar peoples are neglected.

  1. Even among the Asean countries, ordinary civilian Myanmars are discriminated.
  2. Although we are Asean members we need visa to enter Asean countries. Visa exemption is for the cronies of the Myanmar Military government only.It is even more difficult to get a visa nowadays. Before joining Asean, Myanmars could enter Singapore without visa. Now we are Asean members, but we now need a visa not like other members.
  3. Although some Asean leaders especially Chinese Chauvinist  Singaporian leaders are shouting about meritocracy and some of them declaring that their law never look at the colour of the skin nor discriminate, Myanmars are denied the chances those great, fair ASEAN leaders have reserved for other foreigners.
  4. For them, white skin people from US and EU, rich people from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Arabs and other ASEAN (except Myanmar) e.g. Thailand, Indonesia, Philippine, Singapore and Malaysia and some common wealth countries are important. All the facilities, favours and jobs must be reserved for them. Not for Myanmars, even if that Myanmar happens to be a Muslim and the host country is a Muslim dorminent country.
  5. Even Myanmar workers are not allowed to register at their Immigrations, except special approval on and off. Even among the illegals in the detention camp, the citizens of few most favoured countries are allowed to register and so legalized but not Myanmars. (In  80’s up to early 90’s but when Bangladesh refused contract to their oil company and awarded the tender of US oil company but Myanmar SPDC allowed their oil company to invest, they stopped Bangalis and started to accept Myanmars)
  6. In Singapore and Brunei, most of the Myanmar professionals are not allowed to register, although the same qualified person may be registered if sponsored by the Myanmar Military government or if they can show the registration from the west(although they got the degree from Myanmar Universities.)
  7. Even to get a student visa or to get a training post or to get a dependant visa, these governments made it difficult for Myanmars.
  8. Even in Singapore, Indian citizens and of course Chinese foreigners are treated much more favourably than Myanmars.
  9. And for the PR and citizenship applications there are discrimination laws or Rules and Regulations or Government secret Circulars in all Asean countries. Once we were surprised to be told by a cabinet Minister that there is a Cabinet ruling to be careful on Myanmars and there was no exemption even for Myanmar Muslim Professionals legally working here. But we have to be fair by recording here that almost all of the authorities are willing to extend their help to us unofficially.
  10. Myanmar Embassy told us that the mutual tax exemption agreement is for the government’s official business only. So what is the use benefit the ordinary Myanmars got by entering ASEAN.
  11. All of us know that the children and the friends of some of the ASEAN leaders got big projects and contracts in Myanmar.

Kim Dae Jung, former political prisoner and the former President of the Republic of Korea’s views told to the Asiaweek (Sourse Reitures)

  1. As the president of the Republic of Korea, I should not comment on the affairs of another country. 
  2. In the past, for example, I took great interest in the situation of Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. 
  3. I sent letters and worked with Corazon Aquino [former president of the Philippines] through an international forum. 
  4. More than 100 Korean National Assembly members wrote a letter to the Myanmar government urging it to hold dialogue with Suu Kyi. 
  5. Nowadays, it is not easy to comment on such things.”
  6. There is concern, in particular among Asean’s older, more developed members, that letting in authoritarian countries such as Burma has damaged the groups ties with the West and endangers efforts to promote transparency and democracy.

‘Myanmar has provided a valuable lesson, that you can’t really change a country. Even though Asean tries to constructively engage Myanmar, the change has been too slow,” said Kao Kim Hourn, director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace think tank

‘Myanmar has damaged Asean but it’s in Asean’s ultimate interest to make sure it’s united – all 10 countries,” he said. , “That’s very important if Aean wants to play on the international diplomatic stage, be it engaging China, Russia or India.

Military-ruled Burma did join Asean last year despite objections from some of the group’s Western allies over its dismal human rights record and political suppression.  Laos also joined at the same time, bringing the group’s membership to nine.

The more liberal Asean members fear the conservatives could put the breaks on Political and economic reform and tarnish Asean with their political and rights problems.

“People like Thailand and the Philippines don’t want to create a situation in which they’ll be continually outnumbered by the hard-liners,” said Steve Heder of London University’s School of oriental and African Studies.

If Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam line up on certain issues,

  • whether it’s human rights,
  • democracy
  • or international trade,

then the old Asean independence of action is severely compromised,” he told. 

People like Surin Sukhumbh and senior foreign ministry officials in the Philippines, they’re good  liberals who genuinely believe the way forward for the whole of southeast Asia is further democracy and transparency,” Heder said, referring to Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan andhis deputv. Sukhumbhand Paripatra.

They don’t want to be dragged down by the  Khin Nyunts and the Hun Sens,” he said referring to Burma’s powerful military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt.

“If anything there’s been negative progress.” Heder said,  “Military intelligence is increasingly taking over. This is not what Asean envisaged.

Despite the costs, Asean has little choice but to try and manage its members’ political turmoil. The group says Cambodia’s membership is only a question of time.

“Asean should manage diversity,” said Kao Kim Hourn. “Burma has damaged Asean but it has been able to deal with that. If it’s a mature regional organization it can handle Cambodia.”

EU/ASEAN end impasse over Burma for now.

Since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) inclusion of Burma in its regional grouping in July of 1997, the European Union (EID has cancelled bilateral meetings with Asean because of concerns over the Burmese government’s poor human rights record.  But for now, the impasse between the EU and Asean over Burma has passed, and the delayed 13th Asean-EU Meeting is planned to be held in Bangkok.Hand in hand with this decision to meet with Asean is not only the EUs renewal, but also strengthening, of sanctions against Burma.According to a Burma watcher, the meeting is a one-shot deal to work out the glitches of EU financial assistance to Asean, which has been put on hold because of the delay over Burma.

In addition to the previous sanctions, which include_

  1. a ban on visas to the Burmese leadership,
  2. the suspension of high level government visits,
  3. an arms embargo,
  4. as well as the suspension of non-humanitarian aid,
  5. the new sanctions ban entry visas for officials
  6. and transit visas for military authorities.Armed forces officers and members of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) will be forbidden to enter EU member countries to go on to third countries.
  7. Why should European airports or capitals be open to SPDC officials as a convenient stopping points –
  8. and shopping or tourism havens – on the way to meetings in New York or Geneva?” pondered one British-EU official.

This is the first response by any major non-Asian government to the recent deterioration of the political situation inside Burma.  SPDC actions have included the provocation of two highway standoffs between the government and the National Democracy League (NLD) of Aung San Suu Kyi, the arrests of hundreds of NLD members, and persistent attacks in the Burmese press against Suu Kyi.

Furthermore, the recent rejection of an EU proposal for senior EU officials to talk with NLD officials did not help the positions of EU advocates for engagement.“The Burmese basically said get lost, which strengthens the argument of those countries that want to see the sanctions toughened up”, said a senior EU diplomat.

The proponents for a tougher approach to Burma are Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands.  However, the EUs position is hardly united as French officials opposed sanctions and Britain’s proposals for tourism restrictions.

It seems now that Burma is split over whether the decision to join Asean was a good idea.  It was originally thought to be a source of support but now it has become a source of pressure for reform from the outside. 

“Burma thought that Asean would serve as a shield to ward off foreign criticism,” says Josef Silverstein, professor emeritus of political science and a Burma scholar at Rutgers University in New Jersey. 

But it has only created further pressure from its neighbors.  The problem is that the rest of Asean feels it has to pressure the generals in Rangoon into mending their ways, so as not to jeopardize ties with the EU. 

“Asean has provided no shield for Burma, no protection not even a fig leaf”, says Silverstein.

The EU has modified its strategy for applying human rights pressure on Burma, so that it can engage the rest of Asean.  But, Burma’s future participation in EU dialogue will hinge on improvement in its human-rights record. 

But how long can the rest of Asean bear the burden for Burma especially in light of their seemingly reluctance to change. 

Perhaps Asean and the EU will be back to square one in eighteen months when the next conference is scheduled or, alternatively, a major change in Asean protocol.              

The Congressmen called for the immediate release of these and other political prisoners and noted that: “The prosecution, imprisonment and possible execution of these individuals for the legitimate exercise of fundamental political rights is an affront to the values of civilized nations.” 

Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his foreward to Burma, Country in Crisis, wrote,

“I asked to use this booklet to learn about Burma. And I urge you to turn that knowledge into action. In South Africa, we gratefully learned that the people’s voice raised is indeed a most powerful tool. It is time we raised our voices together to demand that our governments and the world community take effective action to bring respect for human rights and democracy to Burma.”

“Burma turned into a backwater hell”

NATION, Thailand’s independent newspaper,

THURSDAY, JUNE 18,1992.Sydney.

AN AUSTRALIAN judge yesterday called for western and Asian countries to overthrow the government of Burma, which, he said had turned the country into a mass, poverty-stricken concentration camp.

In an investigation of Asian refugee trouble spots, judge, Marcus Einfeld said he found in Burma mass atrocities, human fights violations and a government policy of exterminating Aids victims with cyanide injections.

Like Cambodia’s Pol Pot, he said, Burmese leaders “have turned Burma into a backwater hell and disguised it all as a pantomime of charming touristic folklore.”

There should be widespread at what was once a free and rich being turned into a mass poverty-stricken concentration camp.”

If the world had done to Burma even a fraction of what it had done to South Africa the government of Ne Win would not have been able to hold on, Einfeld said.Instead it had taken refuge in withholding official aid while allowing the private sector to hone in on the opportunities thrown up by a regime

“whose priority is the repression and vandalizing of peaceable and kind human beings,”

But he described the situation in Bangladesh, which had received 268,000 Burmese refugees as one of the most serious refugee problems in the world. Nevertheless, Bangladesh had developed a “generally” excellent capacity for disaster relief.Einfeld’s investigation was commissioned by the Australian refugee aid organization Austcare. The Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists was also involved.

Apart from the brutality and repression, he said there was also evidence that to counter an Aids epidemic the government was killing infected people by injecting them with cyanide.

This was done “apparently in the vain hope of eradicating the disease“, which was growing out of control in Burma.“This monstrous policy dramatically manifests yet another reason why this regime must be removed.

The active intervention of Western and Asian Countries would be needed, he said, to overthrow the regime.

The Burmese junta is largely armed and supplied by China and financed by the drug trade, by democratic countries and by their commercial enterprises.

But he said up to now, businessmen of democratic countries were still operating “their peculiar brand of exploitative amoral-or immoral profiteering” in Burma.

There are hundreds of reports of atrocities and human rights violations, enforced slave labour and “rape on an appalling scale.

He had seen signs of the brutalities in the Arakan region, Einfeld said.“There are hundred of reported cases where women have been abducted and forced to carry heavy loads through mountainous terrain, raped repeatedly every night and fed almost nothing.”

THE STAR MONDAY March 16, 1992. Malaysia.

THE immense sufferings of the Rohingya Muslims should persuade the Malaysian and other Asean governments to address the one fundamental issue inMyanmar today – a harsh, haughty, dictatorship, obsessed with the perpetuation of its own power, whatever the costs and consequences.

It is a dictatorship, which has suppressed and suffocated the voice of its own people as few repressive regimes have done in recent times.

  1. Even after the people rejected the ruling junta through elections, which it tried so hard to rig, the junta has refused to surrender power to the people.
  2. The message from the masses could not have been clearer.  Though its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 out of 485 seats in Parliament in the May 27, 1990 elections.
  3. The junta sponsored, National Unity Party, on the other hand, obtained only 10 seats!
  4. After the elections, the junta began imprisoning the elected leaders of the NLD.  According to one source, in the second half of 1989 alone, 3,000 persons were imprisoned for political reasons.
  5. Even before all this, in September 1988, the military junta crushed a nation wide pro-democracy revolt with such brutal force that it shocked high level Yangon bureaucrats themselves. 
  6. It is estimated that about 12,000 protestors, many of them students, were killed mercilessly.
  7. Since January 1990 as many, as 500,000 people in different parts of Myanmar have been forcibly expelled from their homes and relocated in new areas, as part of the junta’s drive to weaken grassroots support for the NLD.
  8. The junta began a massive military exercise to break the back of minority rebellions, which have been going on for a long while.The Karens, a largely Christian minority, are now under tremendous pressure. 
  9. So are the Muslim Rohingyas.The plight of the Rohingyas then is part of a much larger problem.It is true that in some respects the Rohingyas are in a more desperate situation than most of the other victims of the junta’s repression.
  10. The Rohingyas were an independent people who ruled their own land, Arakan, for centuries until it was invaded and annexed by the Burmans in 1784.This is one of the main reasons why the Rohingyas have always resented what they regard as Burman colonization of Arakan.They allege that the military junta is trying to change the very character of their homeland by destroying entire communities, demolishing whole villages.
  11. In November 1990, for instance, 30,000 Rohingyas were uprooted from their villages.Many of these uprooted Rohingyas are regarded as ‘stateless’ by the junta, though they had lived in Arakan for generations.
  12. But the tragedy that confronts the Rohingyas and the people of Myanmar as a whole can only be overcome if the junta is made to relinquish power.
  13. For a start, Asean governments should demand that the junta transfer power to the NLD – ineffect, the legitimately elected government of the day.
  14. This will of course require the immediate release of Suu Kyi and other political, prisoners from the NLD. 

If the junta cannot be persuaded to act responsibly, then Asean governments should contemplate the following measures: 

  • THE cessation of all arms supplies to the junta, whether direct or indirect, from any source within the region. 
  • THE cessation of all forms of economic collaboration with, and assistance to, the junta emanating from both the public and private sectors in the region. 

In this concern, Thailand, in particular, should act with integty and honesty.In a nutshell, the time has come for Asean to act, for the people of Myanmar cannot wait anymore.

DR CHA.NDRA MUZAFFAR, Penang, Malaysia.

The following is the very strong article written in 1992, now the views, perceptions and reports become unbelievingly softer.

“Strangers in their own land”,

New Straits Times, March, 11, 1992. 

THE rulers of Myanmar have been afflicted with xenophobia for a long time, preferring that the country make-do and improvise with scarce resources and in seedy circumstances rather than risk infection by foreign ideas and influences. 

Now, their xenophobia has spread to encompass thousands of Muslim Rohingyas in the Western State of Arakan.  People who have lived in Myanmar for generations have suddenly been classified aliens. 

To encourage their leaving the country, soldiers have been torching homes, stealing property, and raping women, killing hundreds and detaining thousands.Myanmar has been denying the tales of atrocities, charging that they are fabrications of foreign enemies. 

Sounds like either xenophobic paranoia or a whitewashing of complicity.

Is one to discount hundreds of graphic eyewitness accounts of pillage and slaughter and mass graves? 

What explains the hurried exodus in the past three months or so of up to 170,000 refugees fleeing into Bangladesh? 

Would people, under no, compulsion, willingly give up home and field for life in refugee camps, subject to diseases and the charity of Bangladesh and international aid organizations?

There are also reports that Myanmar has put close to 100,000 troops in the border regions next to Bangladesh.  If one is not to see this as the prelude to war with Bangladesh (and there is no discernible reason for such an event), then one must see this large force as being emplaced to prompt a fleeing of the remaining “aliens” and to ensure they do not return to their homes.

The world has seen another nation shutting out the outside and; turning against its own people in a rampant fit of bloodletting. 

Cambodians still bear livid scars and memories of that ghastly dark time. One hopes the current situation in Myanmar is not a prelude to another grisly nightmare. It is one thing to send in troops to take on hill tribes who want separation and independence.

It could be argued that a government has the right to suppress separatist movements by force of arms.However, in the case of the Rohingyas, Myamnar seems to be persecuting an ethnic, religious community without even bothering to justify the violence by saying that it had anything to do with the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (which does advocate armed insurgency to free Arakan).

Malaysia has chosen to maintain relations with Myanmar because it believes persuasion rather than isolation is a better course of action to influence events in the country.

Myanmar has clearly shown that it is prepared to go its own course without the support of other countries (though relying heavily on Chinese military supplies for its current spate of campaigns), so international ostracism is no real threat. 

One hopes Malaysia’s expressed concern over the reported persecution of the Rohingyas will influence the government in Yangon to re-consider its policies and practices.  Myanmar may feel that when it comes to the crunch, it does not need friends, but no regime can be maintained indefinitely by fear and killings. 

  • Sooner or later there will be an accounting. 
  • Professing to be Buddhists, the generals, should realize that.
  • It is alienating its own peoples.
  • It is alienating its neighbours. 
  • Are compassion and peace such alien concepts to the generals? 
  • What is the point presiding over a depopulated land?

Since 1992 the SLORC had accepted a Chinese offer to build a deep-water port on Hainggyi island at the mouth of the Bassein River. 

  • Defense analysts suggest that the island could become a base for the future Chinese ballistic missile submarine fleet.
  • Yangon had allowed China access to three islands off the Myanmar coast for signals intelligence :
  • Ramree island south of Akyab in western Arakan State,
  • Coco island in the Indian Ocean,
  • and Zadetkyi island or St Matthew’s island off the Tenasserim coast in the south-east. 
  • Satellite images indicate that a 45-metre antenna for monitoring radio traffic has been set up on Coco island.

Economic and military support for the regime has come from its Asian neighbours and near neighbours, primarily Thailand, China and Singapore.  China is Myanmar’s most important ally. 

Since 1989 more than a dozen economic and aid agreements have been signed between the two countries.Human rights have become an important test of attitudes to Myanmar.

In May 1991 the European Community (EC) foreign ministers condemned Myanmar’s human rights record, halted sales of military equipment and invited their Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) colleagues to do likewise.

The ASEAN group refused to take this approach, preferring instead to pursue a policy of “constructive engagement” with Yangon. 

The chief focus of Western human rights concern hasbeen Aung San Suu Kyi, who, until July 1995, had been held under house arrest for more than five years.  The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to her in October 1991 gave her an even higher profile and, combined with the exodus of Rohingya Muslim refugees to Bangladesh and the annual offensive against the Karen rebels, meant that by early 1992 Myanmar was more isolated internationally than at any time since the 1970s. 

The Muslim countries of Indonesia and Malaysia condemned the junta’s treatment of the Rohingyas and ASEAN refused Myanmar’s request to attend its annual foreign ministers’ meeting in Manila.

However, in September 1992 Myanmar was allowed to rejoin the Non-aligned Movement, which it left in September 1979. 

Most foreign governments welcomed the relaxation in the SLORC’s policies from mid-1992.  US blasts Myanmar junta for rights abuses.

The Sun,

March 1, 1999.Bangkok, Sun:

An annual US government report on human rights has accusedMyanmar’s military authorities of condoning a range of abuses.

The Burma Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998 said the people of Myamnar, especially women and children of ethnic minority groups, are subject to severe mistreatment.

“Citizens continued to live subject at any time and without appeal to the arbitrary and sometimes brutal dictates of the military dictatorship,” the report said.

There continue to be credible reports, particularly in ethnic minority dominated areas, that soldiers committed serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and rape.

“Prison conditions are harsh and life threatening.“Arbitrary arrests and detentions for expression of dissenting political viewscontinued with increasing frequency in an effort to intimidate the populace intosubmission in the face of deepening economic and political instability”

About 200 opposition MPs had been detained since September and there weremore than 1,000 political prisoners in custody, it said.

Such accusations, made frequently by international human rights groups, arerepeatedly denied by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

The report said women and children of ethnic minorities were being forced toperform arduous manual labour for the military, harassed, raped and sometimessold as prostitutes in neighbouring Thailand.

“During tlfe SPDC’s anti insurgency operations, members of the military forcesare responsible for arbitrary killings, rape, village relocations, the destructionof homes and property, and forced labour inflicted on ethnic minorities,” it said.

The SPDC, formerly known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council,has ignored the results of the 1990 elections won easily by the National League fordemocracy under Nobel laureate Aung San Sun Kyi.In a rare press conference on Thursday,  Suu Kyi said that authorities she wasreleased from six years of house arrest in 1955 she was still unable to enjoy a normal life.

The International Freedom Act of 1998

Shack, John, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights,and Labor before the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate

“The International Freedom Act of 1998”, 5/12/98ABSTRACT –

The Honorable John Shack testified before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, concerning the work being done by the U.S. State Department to promote religious freedom around the world and to present its perspectives on Senate Bill 1868 (International Freedom Act of 1998). He emphasized that freedom of religion is a bedrock issue for the U.S. and its citizens, relating to the concept of democracy itself.

The present situation of religious persecution and violent intolerance toward minority populations in Burma …. is reviewed. Concerns about the proposed legislation are discussed with respect to the definition of religious persecution and how to provide incentives for improvement in the situations discovered. Throughout the world, the United States upholds human rights, including the principle that freedom of religion, conscience and belief is a universally recognized human right and fundamental freedom.

As President Clinton declared on Religious Freedom Day, January 16, 1998,

“We must continue to proclaim the fundamental right of all peoples to believe and worship according to their own conscience, to affirm their beliefs openly and freely, and to practice their faith without fear of intimidation.”

Freedom of religion is a bedrock issue for the American people and its government.

Indeed, the United States in large part was founded by people who fled religious persecution and intolerance. Their desire for religious freedom prompted the establishment of many of the colonies, where they wrote the principle into their laws and charters.

As the poet James Russell Lowell wrote, religious freedom was the seed that produced democracy.

Our country’s founders recognized the importance of religious freedom.

Thomas Jefferson called it “the creed of our political faith [and] the text of our civil instruction.”

He recognized the inherent link between religious freedom and freedom of speech, assembly, and association.

That is why he and the other Founding Fathers insisted on the prominent placement of freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights, as the First Amendment to the Constitution.  

If people lack religious freedom, other human rights violations, intolerance and violence are more prevalent

Mr. Chairman, it would be a mistake to regard religious freedom as a uniquely American value.

  • It is a concept basic to every one of the world’s major belief systems.
  • It also is an internationally recognized human right.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognize that all citizens have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

This right is inherent in the dignity of every human being.

No government can legitimately deny it, no matter what the justification, for it is universal, inalienable, and endowed by virtue of birth.

Unfortunately, however, there are some in the world today who refuse to recognize this fundamental right and who discriminate against, restrict, or even persecute those of other faiths.

Whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Hindu, Baha’i, or of another creed, believers around the world continue to suffer for their faith.   

Statement by Lim Kit Siang – Malaysia Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, 29th November 1996.

ASEAN Informal Summit in Jakarta tomorrow should take serious note of the resolution by the UN General Assembly’s social, humanitarian and cultural committee deploring Myanmar for continuing violations of human rights

The application by the Myanmar military junta, State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), to join ASEAN is expected to be one of the main issues at the ASEAN Informal Summit in Jakarta tomorrow, especially as the Chairman of SLORC, Gen Tan Swe, has been invited to the Jakarta meeting.

The ASEAN Informal Summit in Jakarta should take serious note of the resolution by the UN General Assembly’s social, humanitarian and cultural committee on Wednesday deploring the continuing violations of human rights in Myanmar.

The UN General Assembly committee passed a resolution by consensus rebuking SLORC for

  1. suppressing opposition,
  2. using forced labour to build its economy,
  3. torturing prisoners,
  4. abusing women
  5. ]and conducting summary executions.

This resolution would be transmitted to the UN General Assembly for formal adoption next month, and by past practice, the General Assembly invariably reflects the stand taken by the committee.

ASEAN should advise SLORC/SPDC to-

engage in substantive political dialogue

  • with Aung San Suu Kyi
  • and other political
  • and ethnic leaders

for national reconciliation and democratic reforms.

However, the National Convention is no longer a legitimate process since the National League for Democracy (NLD) which won the 1990 general elections in Burma has suspended its participation in the National Convention.

The continuation of the present National Convention is a direct violation of the principle established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “the will of the people shall be the basis of authority of government”.

ASEAN’s “constructive engagement” policy must be one_

  1. where the ASEAN leaders can give constructive views to SLORC
  2. as to how it could return to the mainstream of the international community.
  3. It must not a blank-cheque to the Myanmar military junta to disregard international opinion
  4. by continuing with its violations of human rights against its people
  5. in return for opening up economic opportunities for ASEAN countries to exploit in Burma. (29/11/96)  

Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang

Call on Dr. Mahathir to exert pressure on SPDC to have genuine dialogue with NLD and ethnic minorities for greater political and economic reforms in Burma during his visit in Rangoon next week 

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should exert his influence as a key leader in ASEAN on the ruling State Peace Development Council (SPDC) to have genuine dialogue with the leadership of National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic minorities to seek the best solution to the problems faced by Burma during his visit to Rangoon from 9th to 10th March 1998.

The Secretary General of NLD Aung San Suu Kyi has been calling for dialogue with the military junta for many years and has expressed her willingness to work with SPDC to solve the problems faced by Burma,

but the military junta has been ignoring her call and has shown its insincerity in its superficial dialogue with NLD last year

which purportedly excluded the key leaders of NLD, especially Aung San Suu Kyi, U Kyi Maung and U Tin Oo.

It is clear that there has been no improvement in the political and economic situation in Burma since it was admitted into ASEAN in July 1997.

The universities have been closed for more than 16 months, besides the continuation of human rights abuses in all parts of that country.

The only change made by the military junta after being admitted into ASEAN was the change of name from State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to State Peace Development Council (SPDC) in last November

which brings no significant changes to the policies and system of that country.

The continuation of human rights violation and deterioration of economic situation in Burma after the admission of Burma into ASEAN shows to the international community that the Constructive Engagement policy of ASEAN has failed.

The Constructive Engagement policy with Burma has been seen as a lip service of ASEAN rather than a sincere engagement policy with the military junta of Burma in bringing betterment of social and political reforms to the suffering people of Burma.  (6/3/98)

Another Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang

DAP calls for a “constructive intervention” policy on inter-ASEAN relations Malaysia should support the Thai proposal to end the ASEAN policy of non-interference in one another’s internal affairs.

Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan had proposed last month that Asean members, which traditionally avoid delving into one another’s affairs, should change this policy, adding that this would result in greater flexibility which would help Asean recover some of the clout it has lost due to the Asian financial crisis. Philippine Foreign Under-secretary Lauro Baja has said that the ASEAN foreign ministers, which will meet in Manila later this month, will discuss the Thai proposal. Baja also confirmed press reports that the Philippines was already taking a position of “flexible engagement” with Asean member Burma, aimed at helping avoid a political upheaval in that country. Malaysia should in fact go one step further to propose that ASEAN adopt a “constructive intervention” policy on inter-ASEAN relations. The first country for such an ASEAN “constructive intervention” policy to be put into practice is undoubtedly Burma, where opposition groups in the country had recently warned that serious social unrest was set to erupt in that country amid rising tensions with government forces. Burma’s military Government has lashed out at Thailand and the Philippines for “presumptuous” comments about its internal situation and warned their interference could damage ASEAN unity. Thailand, the Philippines and hopefully Malaysia should not allow such threats from steering ASEAN into the new territory of “constructive intervention”. (11/7/98)   ASEAN should learn from the failure of the “constructive engagement’ policy on Burma and craft a new pro-active approach to protect ASEAN’s international credibility by helping Burma embark on the road of democratic reforms and national reconciliation  Media Conference Statement – the launching of the book “From Consensus to Controversy – ASEAN’s Relationship with Burma’s SLORC” by Lim Kit Siang  It is most regrettable that despite the failure of ASEAN’s “constructive engagement” policy on Burma and widespread objections in the region, Burma would be admitted into ASEAN next week.In giving legitimacy to the repressive military junta in Burma, ASEAN stands the risk of undermining its international credibility and legitimacy, especially if the State Law and Restoration Council (SLORC) uses its new-found legitimacy to crack down on the National League for Democracy and Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.It is very sad that on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Matyrs Day, Burma is no nearer to a new democratic beginning. On the contrary there are ominous signs that the Burmese military rulers might be setting the scene for a new wave of repression after Burma had been officially admitted into ASEAN next week.Two weeks ago, for instance, Lieutenant-General Tin Oo, one of the country’s four most powerful elements, warned that the military government had been watching “destructive elements” – SLORC’s code word for NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi – and would take action against them if they did not mend their ways.ASEAN governments must make it very clear to the SLORC leaders next week that admission into ASEAN is not a licence for gross violation of human rights and that although ASEAN countries do not interfere in each other’ domestic affairs, SLORC should not undermine ASEAN’s international image, credibility and legitimacy through a new wave of repressions against pro-democracy activists.In fact, ASEAN should learn from the failure of its “constructive engagement’ policy on Burma.The time has also come for ASEAN to give greater meaning to the regional grouping on its 30th anniversary by showing the world that South East Asian nations could not only become economic powerhouses, but also become human rights models.There is no more meaningful way to mark ASEAN’s 30th anniversary than the establishment of an ASEAN Commission of Human Rights to uphold human rights in the region and address regional concerns that Burma’s admission would be a setback for democracy and human rights, not only in Burma, but also for the other ASEAN nations.The ASEAN Commission of Human Rights should be an important plank of a “comprehensive ASEAN policy on Burma” to help Burma embark on the road towards democratisation and national reconciliation.(18/7/97)   OPEN LETTER to ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to discuss the timing of full membership for Myanmar by Lim Kit Siang. 30th May 1997 Honourable ASEAN Foreign Ministers Myanmar’s membership in ASEAN  The human rights record of SLORC had worsened since it had acquired observer status in ASEAN. It had continued to defy the annual United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for democratisation and it had refused to co-operate with ASEAN countries to make a success of the ASEAN constructive engagement policy in the past seven years to achieve tangible or measurable progress in democratic reforms and national reconciliation.While ASEAN governments do not want to ostracise Myanmar, they should not reward SLORC for its poor human rights record by admitting it into ASEAN this year.The ASEAN Foreign Ministers should take seriously the warning of Aung San Suu Kyi in a videotape to ASEAN leaders that admitting Myanmar into ASEAN might trigger an increase in the SLORC repression of political and human rights.Suu Kyi said in the videotape that Myanmar under SLORC is not going to be any credit to ASEAN. But she thinks is the possibility that admission into ASEAN will make SLORC even more obdurate and oppressive than ever.”Just as any regional or international organisation which admitted South Africa in the heyday of the apartheid regime would rightly incur international opprobrium, ASEAN Foreign Ministers must be fully aware of the great damage to the international reputation of ASEAN if Myanmar is admitted without any improvement in its abysmal human rights record.Furthermore, Burma’s admission into ASEAN must be contingent on SLORC co-operating with ASEAN countries to make a success of the ASEAN constructive engagement policy to promote democratic reforms and national reconciliation.For the past seven years, ASEAN’s “constructive engagement” policy had been very one-sided, confining its contacts with SLORC, when the ASEAN governments should reach out to “constructively engage” with both SLORC and the pro-democracy forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Conference should respond positively to the invitation by Sui Kyi in her videotape message that:“If ASEAN is truly interested in constructive engagement, it should try to engage with both sides in Burma, with the (regime) as well as the democratic opposition.“ASEAN should be engaged with the National League for Democracy as well, because we are the party, which was elected by the people in the democratic elections of 1990”. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ should seriously consider the hosting of a dialogue between SLORC and the pro-democracy forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi in the hope that such a dialogue under the auspices of ASEAN could help break the present political impasse in Burma and move Burma towards the road of democratisation and national reconciliation – and pave the way for Burma’s eventual admission into ASEAN.Thank you.Yours truly,Lim Kit Siang Parliamentary Opposition Leader Secretary-General, Democratic Action Party Malaysia (30/5/97)  Aliran’s Media Statement “Democracy Further Stalled in Burma”. Aliran views with deep concern the recent political stand-off between Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s military junta. In the recent incident, Suu Kyi was prevented by the military from travelling freely in her own country to exercise her democratic rights and to meet her political supporters. This prompted her to stay put in her Toyota Mark II sedan as a mark of protest. The military regime’s latest action against her would have had serious implications for the health of the already ailing opposition leader. It also reflects the regime’s increasingly arrogant display of political barbarism. The political recalcitrance flaunted by the Burmese military regime makes an ugly mockery of the much-hyped ASEAN notion of “constructive engagement” and the zealously guarded policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries. Fellow ASEAN member states must in no uncertain terms make it known to the Burmese regime that enough is enough and that Suu Kyi and her colleagues should be given their rightful democratic place in Burma. ASEAN as a regional group cannot afford to be seen as being selective when it comes to reprimanding nations that have breached international norms of justice and democracy. Unless ASEAN corrects itself in this respect, its international reputation will be jeopardised and, worse, it will be perceived as a group that doesn’t practise wha it preaches to other, especially those in the West; in short, it is often seen as a group that practises double standards. Dr Mustafa K. Anuar Asst. Secretary 30 July 1998.           

The Role of Muslims in Burma’s Democracy Movement (Burmese translation)

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The  Burmese translation of English article,

“The Role of Muslims in Burma’s Democracy Movement”

By Shah Paung in Irrawaddy magazine,

November 12, 2007

Some Myanmar’s Muslim organisations, Liberated Area

Some Myanmar’s Muslim organisations

LA (Liberated Area)

 

There are two Muslim organisations which were established in the early eighties and have worked with the KNU 01:

  1. All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU)

  2. and Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma (MLOB)

Both the ABMU and MLOB are active members of the DAB (Democratic Alliance of Burma), an umbrella organisation formed in 1988 to unite Burmese ethnic fronts and other pro-democracy opposition groups who are fighting against the SLORC/SPDC using military and political means. 

They are also both members of the National Coalition of the Union of Burma (NCUB), an alliance formed between DAB members and elected Members of Parliament who fled Burma due to repression following the 1990 elections.  All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU)

 The All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) maintains its own battalion of troops and has been fighting together with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the KNU’s military wing, against the SLORC/SPDC since 1983.

After an outbreak of anti-Muslim riots in Martaban, Moulmein and other towns in lower Burma in the early eighties, a number of internally displaced Muslims joined the ABMU.  On March 6, 1997, the ABMU issued a statement declaring that they would like the international community, and especially Muslim countries in ASEAN, to be more aware of the human rights abuses currently being perpetrated, particularly, against Muslims by the Myanmar military.   Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma (MLOB) 

 The second organisation, the Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma (MLOB) is comprised of Muslims from different areas in Myanmar. In their letter to the Muslim countries of ASEAN of 25 March 1997, they declared that:

“the people are afraid that a SLORC led Burma would become a member of the ASEAN grouping, which would give legality and legitimacy to the SLORC to brutalise the people for longer.”  

 The MLOB maintains that the military authorities cannot resolve Burma’s long-running political problems by means of military might. It states the only way to retain a civilized solution is to enter into a dialogue with the opposition “that represents almost the entire population of Burma”. 02

  Rohingya groups  

Two Rohingya armed resistance movements have been set up in response to Burmese oppression.

The Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) was formed in the early 1980s in reaction to the new discriminations affecting the Rohingyas and to the 1978 expulsions. It switched from political activism to armed struggle soon after the 1991–92 persecutions. The RSO essentially acts by infiltration and attacks in Northern Arakan from Bangladesh.

The other, less important, armed group is the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF), created in 1987.

Its activity seems to have ceased over the past few years. Generally speaking, the armed Rohingya resistance is not very active and constitutes above all a pretext for the militarization of the region as well as a way for the Burmese junta to keep a close watch on the population. 01:  Karen National Union (KNU) is Myanmar’s largest armed ethnic group

02: MLOB statement on the prevailing serious situation in Burma,

29 July 1998;

http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/reg.burma/archives/199807/msg00729.html 

The Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma (MLOB) has regularly written letters to the supreme authorities of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries, inter alia on 28 April 1997 including the statement

“Muslim organisations from Burma are demanding to know why […] predominantly Muslim countries in ASEAN continue to support the junta”

 Caught between non-recognition as victims of religious hatred and violence by those countries who have brought sanction against Myanmar, and ignored by supposed co-religionist governments who have gone so far as to support the junta, even with arms, the Muslims of Myanmar hold the unenviable position of being oppressed even in some cases by the oppressed.    

Photos of Anti-Muslim Riots in Bago/Pegu

Anti-Muslim Riots in Bago/Pegu

Instigated and staged by

Agent Provocateur Military Intelligent

bogus Monks in 1997

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

 -Voltaire

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That wasn’t a real protesting by true monks. It was set up by the military Juntas to lodge a wedge between Buddhist and Muslims in Burma.

I was there in Mandalay when that happened. The Buddhist monks sheltered the Muslims in their monestries while other bogus MI monks are destroying the mosques. The whole world and many Burmese citizens know who were the people doing that.

At last 3 agent provocator, Military Intelligent monks were caught by the civilians who were trying to protect their homes and the monks rioting in  the city against Muslims were not the real monks.

They just shaved their heads with the boots underneath the robes, using walki-talkies exclusively used by the Myanmar Tatmadaw and sometimes seen using or ridiong the motorbikes which practice is strictly forbidden by real monks.

Why the people did not join them if that is a clash between Muslims and Buddhists? We all, Buddhists and Muslim friends were still hanging out and helping each other.

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OIC Condemns Attacks On

Muslims In Myanmar

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) – As more accurate information is emerging from Myanmar over recent attacks on Muslims there, the Organization Of Islamic Conference (OIC) earlier this week joined the chorus of those condemning the attacks.

The OIC released a press statement saying, “The extremist Buddhists have burned houses, killed women and children and destroyed eight historical mosques in Tongo region, and 26 mosques in Mindanao region.”

It strongly condemned the “inhuman and aggressive” attacks by “extremist” Buddhists upon Muslims in the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma).

The OIC called on the international community and human rights organizations to intervene and force the Myanmar government to halt attacks on Muslims, and quit destroying mosques and Islamic historical places.

It urged the international community to secure the safety of Muslims in the Union of Myanmar and enable them to exercise their political and social rights as accorded to other citizens, and safeguard their Islamic identity.

Muslims number close to seven million in Myanmar. The majority are Indian Muslims who settled in Burma when the country was under British rule, moving to Burma during the 19th century.

Some of the ethnic Indian Muslims migrated into Karen State. The descendents of Indian Muslim immigrants identify themselves as “Pwakanyaw Thu” or “Black Karen”.

They no longer maintain active links with India. Relations between Muslim, Christian and Buddhist Karens are generally peaceful.

A Muslim group with an older history in Burma is the Rohingya of Arakan State. Arakan was an established kingdom even before modern Burmans (the majority ethnic group of Myanmar) moved from Tibet to occupy Burma in the 9th century.

Arab Muslim traders converted the people of Arakan (then called Rohang) to Islam. The succeeding centuries saw an influx of Muslim immigrants from West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. Arabs, Persians, Indians and Turks intermarried with native Arakanese.

The distinct ethnic character of the people is evident in their language, Rohingya, which is a mixture of Bengali, Persian, Arabic, and Arakanese. The Rohingya (also known as Rohai) also live on the other side of the Burma-Bangladesh border.

Persecution of Burmese Muslims by Buddhists is ongoing today. The history of human rights violations against Muslims in Burma dates back to 1784, when Burman Buddhists invaded Arakan.

Muslims, as well as other religious minorities in Myanmar, are suspected of being subjected to organized mass rapes, slavery and other abuses

Burma

International Religious Freedom Report 2007

Released by the U.S. Department of State

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

 

Highly repressive, authoritarian military regimes have ruled the country since 1962. Constitutional protection of religious freedom has not existed since 1988, after the armed forces brutally suppressed massive pro-democracy demonstrations and abrogated the Constitution. In 1990 pro-democracy parties won a majority of seats in a free and fair election, but the junta of senior military officers refused to recognize the results and has ruled the country by decree and without a legislature ever since. The authorities generally permitted most adherents of registered religious groups to worship as they choose; however, the Government imposed restrictions on certain religious activities and frequently abused the right to freedom of religion. There was no change in the limited respect for religious freedom by the Government during the period covered by this report. The Government continued to infiltrate and covertly and overtly monitor meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations. The Government systematically restricted efforts by Buddhist clergy to promote human rights and political freedom and discouraged and prohibited minority religious groups from constructing new places of worship. In some cases, government officials destroyed existing places of worship. The Government also actively promoted Theravada Buddhism over other religions, particularly among members of ethnic minorities. Christian and Islamic groups continued to have trouble obtaining permission to repair existing places of worship or build new ones. Anti-Muslim violence continued, as did the close monitoring of Muslim activities. Restrictions on worship of other non-Buddhist minority groups also continued throughout the country. Although there were no new reports of forced conversions of non-Buddhists, the Government applied pressure on students and poor youth to convert to Buddhism. Adherence or conversion to Buddhism is generally a prerequisite for promotion to senior government and military ranks.During the period covered by this report, social tensions continued between the Buddhist majority and the Christian and Muslim minorities. Widespread prejudice existed against citizens of South Asian origin, many of whom are Muslims.

The U.S. Government advocated religious freedom with all facets of society, including with government officials, religious leaders, private citizens, scholars, diplomats of other governments, and international business and media representatives. Embassy representatives offered support to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and religious leaders, and acted as a conduit for information exchanges with otherwise isolated human rights NGOs and religious leaders. Since 1999 the U.S. Secretary of State has designated the country as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The U.S. Government has a wide array of sanctions in place against the country for its violations of human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 261,970 square miles and a population of more than 54 million. The majority follow Theravada Buddhism, although in practice, popular Burmese Buddhism coexisted with astrology, numerology, fortune telling, and veneration of indigenous pre-Buddhist era deities called “nats.” Buddhist monks, including novices, number more than 400,000 and depend on the laity for their material needs, including clothing and daily donations of food. The country has a much smaller number of Buddhist nuns. The principal minority religious groups include Christian groups (Baptists, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and an array of other Protestant denominations), Muslims (mostly Sunni), Hindus, and practitioners of traditional Chinese and indigenous religions. According to official statistics, almost 90 percent of the population practice Buddhism, 6 percent practice Christianity, and 4 percent practice Islam. These statistics almost certainly underestimate the non-Buddhist proportion of the population, which could be as high as 30 percent. Independent scholarly researchers place the Muslim population at 6 to 10 percent. A tiny Jewish community in Rangoon has a synagogue but no resident rabbi to conduct services for the approximately 25 Jewish believers.

The country is ethnically diverse, with some correlation between ethnicity and religion. Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion among the majority Burman ethnic group and among the Shan, Arakanese, and Mon ethnic minorities of the eastern, western, and southern regions. Christianity is the dominant religion among the Kachin ethnic group of the northern region and the Chin and Naga ethnic groups of the western region, some of whom continue to practice traditional indigenous religions. Protestant groups report recent rapid growth among animist communities in Chin State. Christianity is also practiced widely among the Karen and Karenni ethnic groups of the southern and eastern regions, although many Karen and Karenni are Buddhist. In addition, some ethnic Indians are Christian. Hinduism is practiced chiefly by Burmese of Indian origin, who are concentrated in major cities and in the south central region. Islam is practiced widely in Rakhine State, where it is the dominant religion of the Rohingya minority, and in Rangoon, Ayeyarwady, Magway, and Mandalay Divisions. Some Burmans, Indians, and ethnic Bengalis also practice Islam. Chinese ethnic minorities generally practice traditional Chinese religions. Traditional indigenous beliefs are practiced widely among smaller ethnic groups in the highland regions. Practices drawn from those indigenous beliefs persist widely in popular Buddhist rituals, especially in rural areas.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

Highly authoritarian military regimes have ruled the country since 1962. The current military government, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has governed without a constitution or legislature since 1988. Most adherents of religious groups that register with the authorities generally are allowed to worship as they choose; however, the Government imposes restrictions on certain religious activities and frequently abuses the right to religious freedom.

Since independence in 1948, many of the ethnic minority areas have served as bases for armed resistance against the Government. Although the Government negotiated cease-fire agreements with most armed ethnic groups after 1989, active Shan, Karen, and Karenni insurgencies continued. Periodic fighting between the army and the leading Karen insurgent group, the Karen National Union (KNU), and multiple army attacks on Karen villages occurred. Successive civilian and military governments have tended to view religious freedom in the context of whether it threatens national unity or central authority.

The country has no official state religion. However, since independence, successive governments, civilian and military, have supported and associated themselves conspicuously with Buddhism. In 1961 the Government’s push to make Buddhism the state religion failed due to country-wide protests by religious minorities. However, in practice the Government continues to show a preference for Theravada Buddhism through its official propaganda and state-sponsored activities, including government donations to monasteries and support for Buddhist missionary activities. Promotions within the military and the civil service are generally contingent on the candidates being followers of Buddhism. The Ministry of Religious Affairs includes the powerful Department for the Promotion and Propagation of Sasana (Buddhist teaching).

State-controlled news media frequently depict or describe government officials paying homage to Buddhist monks, making donations at pagodas throughout the country, officiating at ceremonies to open, improve, restore, or maintain pagodas, and organizing ostensibly voluntary “people’s donations” of money, food, and uncompensated labor to build or refurbish Buddhist religious shrines throughout the country. State-owned newspapers routinely feature front-page banner slogans quoting from Buddhist scriptures. The Government has published books of Buddhist religious instruction.

Buddhist doctrine remains part of the state-mandated curriculum in all government-run elementary schools. Students can opt out of instruction in Buddhism and sometimes did. All students of government-run schools are required to recite a Buddhist prayer daily. Some Muslim students are allowed to leave the room during this recitation, while at some schools non-Buddhists are forced to recite the prayer.

The Department for the Perpetuation and Propagation of the Sasana handles the Government’s relations with Buddhist monks and Buddhist schools. The Government continues to fund two state Sangha universities in Rangoon and Mandalay to train Buddhist monks under the control of the state-sponsored State Monk Coordination Committee (“Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee” or SMNC). The Government-funded International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University (ITBMU) in Rangoon, which opened in 1998, has as its stated purpose “to share the country’s knowledge of Buddhism with the people of the world.” The main language of instruction is English. The Government also funds one university intended to teach non-citizens about Theravada Buddhism.

Since the 1960s Christian and Islamic groups have had difficulty importing religious literature into the country. All publications, religious and secular, remain subjected to control and censorship. It is illegal to import translations of the Bible in indigenous languages. Officials have occasionally allowed local printing or photocopying of limited copies of religious materials, including the Qur’an (with the notation that they were for internal use only) in indigenous languages without prior approval by government censors.

Virtually all organizations, religious or otherwise, must register with the Government. A government directive exempts “genuine” religious organizations from official registration; however, in practice only registered organizations can buy or sell property or open bank accounts. These requirements lead most religious organizations to seek registration. Religious organizations register with the Ministry of Home Affairs with the endorsement of the Ministry for Religious Affairs. Leaders of registered religious groups have more freedom to travel than leaders of unrecognized organizations and members of their congregations.

Religious affiliation is indicated on government-issued identification cards that citizens and permanent residents of the country are required to carry at all times. Citizens are also required to indicate their religion on official application forms, such as passports

Muslims across the country, as well as some other ethnic minority groups such as Chinese and Indians, are required to obtain advance permission from the township authorities whenever they wish to leave their hometowns.

Muslims in Rakhine State, on the western coast, and particularly those of the Rohingya minority group, continued to experience the severest forms of legal, economic, educational, and social discrimination. The Government denies citizenship status to Rohingyas because their ancestors allegedly did not reside in the country at the start of British colonial rule, as required by the country’s citizenship law. The Muslims assert that their presence in the area predates the British arrival by several centuries. On April 2, 2007, five U.N. Special Rapporteurs and an Independent Expert called on the Government to repeal or amend its 1982 Citizenship Law to insure compliance with international human rights obligations. Without citizenship status, Rohingyas do not have access to secondary education in state-run schools because the Government reserves secondary education for citizens only,

Since 1988 the Government permits only three marriages per year per village in the primarily Rohingya townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine State, and requires the approval of the Regional Military Commander.

Muslims in the country also have difficulty obtaining birth certificates. A local official in Sittwe, Rakhine State, reportedly issued a verbal order in 2005 prohibiting the issuance of birth certificates to Muslim babies born in the area.

There are still original-resident Muslims living in Thandwe, but newcomers who are Muslim are not allowed to buy property or reside in the township. Muslims are not permitted to live in Gwa or Taungup.

Official public holidays include numerous Buddhist holy days, as well as a few Christian, Hindu, and Islamic holy days.

The Government made some nominal efforts to promote mutual understanding among practitioners of different religious groups.

In October 2006 Minister of Religious Affairs Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung, invited leaders from the four main religious groups (Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu) to a meeting in which the Minister denounced the 2006 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. He told the religious leaders they knew there was freedom of religion in the country and claimed the Government always granted permits for religious gatherings and permitted renovations of mosques and churches. The Muslim leaders reportedly asked the Minister to unseal mosques in the central region that the Government closed following communal riots in earlier years and for permission to complete madrassahs that were under construction. The leaders reportedly were required to sign statements that they enjoyed religious freedom and were requested to write a letter stating that their religious communities were allowed to practice their faith freely in the country, which the ministry would display on its official website. During a discussion that followed, the representatives of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council (IRAC) stated that while there had been progress on some religious matters, there was room for further improvement. The Minister reportedly stopped further discussion and adjourned the meeting abruptly.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The Government continued to show preference for Theravada Buddhism while controlling the organization and restricting the activities and expression of the Buddhist clergy (Sangha), although some monks have resisted such control. Based on the 1990 Sangha Organization Law, the Government banned any organization of Buddhist monks other than the nine state-recognized monastic orders. These nine orders submit to the authority of the SMNC, the members of which are indirectly elected by monks. Violations of this ban are punishable by immediate public defrocking, and often by criminal penalties.

According to state-owned media reports, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a government-sponsored mass organization in which participation often is compulsory, organized courses in Buddhist culture attended by millions of persons. It was not possible to verify this claim independently.

There are reports that the ITBMU, while in principle open to the public, accepted only candidates who were approved by government authorities or recommended by a senior, progovernment Buddhist abbot.

The Government infiltrated or monitored the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations. The meetings and activities of religious groups were also subject to broad government restrictions on freedom of expression and association. The Government subjected all media, including religious publications, and on occasion sermons, to control and censorship.

During the reporting period, the Government harassed a group of Buddhist worshippers who visited the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon every Tuesday, the day of the week that Aung San Suu Kyi was born, to pray at the Tuesday pillar for her release and the release of all political prisoners in the country. Authorities sometimes used the pro-regime USDA to block the group from entering the pagoda grounds and make them pray outside the entrance or to shout and clap loudly to drown out their prayers. After Naw Ohn Hla, the spokesperson for the worshippers, protested to the pagoda authorities and wrote letters to regime leaders, local authorities again allowed the group access to the pagoda to pray; however, authorities ordered the pagoda janitors to throw buckets of water on the platform around the Tuesday pillar so that the worshippers would have to kneel in water. They also played music through loudspeakers at full volume to drown out the sound of the group’s prayers. Despite official harassment, including physical and verbal abuse by the pro-regime USDA and the People’s Militia, the worshippers continued to pray every Tuesday during the reporting period. In May 2007 many more groups began praying at different pagodas on Tuesdays for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release upon expiration of her detention order on May 27.

Authorities frequently refused to approve requests for gatherings to celebrate traditional Christian and Islamic holidays and restricted the number of Muslims that could gather in one place. For instance, in satellite towns surrounding Rangoon, Muslims are only allowed to gather for worship and religious training during the major Muslim holidays. In late 2006 a prominent Muslim religious organization planned to hold a golden jubilee in Mawlamyine, Mon State, to celebrate the founding of their organization. After they requested permission to hold the event, the local Division Commander, Brigadier General Thet Naing Win, called representatives of all non-Buddhist religious organizations in the area to a meeting. He informed them that permission would not be granted to hold any religious functions or ceremonies due to security reasons. The Muslim organization then altered its plans and held a low-profile ceremony to honor pilgrims who had been granted official permission by the Ministry of Religious Affairs to attend the Hajj.

On March 22, 2007, authorities detained Htin Kyaw, when he publicly protested the denial of his religious freedom to become a monk. Htin Kyaw had participated in earlier demonstrations against deteriorating economic and social conditions. Rangoon authorities then enforced a 1995 prohibition against any opposition political party member from being ordained as a monk or religious leader and forbade the abbot of a monastery in North Okkalapa in Rangoon to ordain Htin Kyaw.

On January 23, 2007, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) released a report that documented the Government’s restrictions, discrimination, and persecution against Christians in the country for more than a decade. Subsequently, the Ministry of Religious Affairs pressured religious organizations in the country to publish statements in government-controlled media denying they had any connection with CSW or to condemn the report, and to reject the idea that religious discrimination existed in the country.

The Government continued to discriminate against members of minority religious groups, restricting their educational, proselytizing, and church-building activities.

Government authorities continued to prohibit Christian clergy from proselytizing in some areas. Christian groups reported that several times during the period covered by this report, local authorities denied applications for residency permits of known Christian ministers attempting to move into a new township. The groups indicated this was not a widespread practice, but depended on the individual community and local authority. In some instances, local authorities reportedly confiscated National Identity Cards of new converts to Christianity. Despite this, Christian groups reported that church membership grew, even in predominately Buddhist regions of the country.

During the reporting period, authorities in the Rangoon area closed several house churches because they did not have proper authorization to hold religious meetings. Other Rangoon home churches remained operational only after paying bribes to local officials. At the same time, the authorities made it difficult, although not impossible, to obtain approval for the construction of “authorized” churches.

On October 1, 2006, the Agape Zomi Baptist Church, with more than 1,000 members, had to stop its weekly services at Asia Plaza Hotel in Rangoon after the hotel management refused to continue renting them a conference room. The hotel management claimed the township authorities had ordered them to stop renting its facility to the group, which had worshipped at the hotel for approximately one year.

In August 2006 NaSaKa, the Government’s border security force, ordered eight Rohingya Muslim communities in Rathedaung Township, Rakhine State to close their religious centers, including 5 mosques, 4 madrassahs, 18 moqtobs (premadrassahs), and 3 hafez khanas (Qur’an reciting centers). Later, local authorities allowed two madrassahs to reopen. NaSaKa ordered the closures because it stated that the institutions were not officially registered. According to Muslim sources, government officials have not allowed any madrassahs to register officially. Muslim religious organizations are appealing the closures.

On August 19, 2006, government officials prohibited a Baptist church in Rangoon from conducting a literacy workshop for its youth. The authorities stated that the church must seek advance permission to hold such programs, although the church had held similar programs for the past four years without needing permission. Authorities also reportedly censored the same Baptist church’s weekly order of service.

In February 2006 Insein Township authorities also ordered a Chin evangelist to stop holding worship services in his house church in Aung San ward. In November 2005 authorities in Insein Township, Rangoon, pressured evangelical Christians of the 20-year-old Phawkkan Evangelical Church to sign “no worship” agreements. Some signed the agreements out of fear, but others refused. In February 2006 the authorities issued an order banning worship at the church.

The Religious Affairs Ministry has stipulated in the past that permission to construct new religious buildings “depends upon the population of the location;” however, there appeared to be no correlation between the construction of pagodas and the demand for additional places of Buddhist worship. In most regions of the country, Christian and Islamic groups that sought to build small places of worship on side streets or other inconspicuous locations were able to do so only with informal approval from local authorities; however, informal approval from local authorities created a tenuous legal situation. When local authorities or conditions have changed, informal approvals for construction have been rescinded abruptly and construction halted. In some cases, authorities demolished existing church buildings.

Christian groups continued to have trouble obtaining permission to buy land or build new churches in most regions. Sometimes the authorities refused because they claimed the churches did not possess proper property deeds, but access to official land titles was extremely difficult due to the country’s complex land laws and government title to most land. In some areas, permission to repair existing places of worship was easier to acquire. Muslims reported that the authorities banned them from constructing new mosques anywhere in the country, and they had great difficulty obtaining permission to repair or expand their existing structures. Historical mosques in Mawlamyine, Mon State, Sittwe, Rakhine State, and other areas of the country continued to deteriorate because authorities would not allow routine maintenance. Some authorities reportedly destroyed informal houses of worship or unauthorized religious construction they discovered. In early 2007, Muslims in Northern Rakhine State, repaired a mosque that had been severely damaged in a storm. When the authorities discovered this, they destroyed the repairs that had been made to the mosque. Buddhist groups have not experienced similar difficulties in obtaining permission to build new pagodas, monasteries, or community religious halls.

During the reporting period, the Catholic Church established new dioceses in Kachin and Shan states. The bishop of the new diocese in Pekon, Shan State, decided to build his residence on a plot of land long owned by the church. Brigadier General Myo Lwin, commander of Military Operation Command Seven at Pekon, ordered the partially built structure demolished, confiscated the land, and extended his own compound fence to enclose the church property. Despite appeals to higher authorities, the Church has not recovered its property.

The Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT) in Insein Township, Rangoon is the premier seminary for Baptists throughout the country. To accommodate a rapidly increasing enrollment, MIT raised funds to build a new classroom building and purchase building supplies. At the last minute, government officials refused to grant a building permit. Four years later, piles of construction materials still litter the campus where they gather mildew and rust. In contrast, the Government openly supports Buddhist seminaries and permits them to build large campuses.

Some Christians in Chin State claimed that the authorities have not authorized the construction of any new churches since 1997. However, newly built churches are evident in several parts of the state. A Christian leader in Chin State stated that to obtain permission to repair or build a church he first had to obtain permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs (NaTaLa), the Immigration Department and the Township Peace and Development Committee. In Rangoon, Mandalay, and elsewhere, authorities allowed construction of new community centers by various Christian groups only if they agreed not to hold services there or erect Christian signs.

It remained extremely difficult for Muslims to get permission to repair existing mosques, although internal renovations were allowed in some cases. In some parts of Rakhine State, authorities cordoned off mosques and forbade Muslims to worship in them.

State censorship authorities continued to enforce special restrictions on local publication of the Bible, the Qur’an, and Christian and Islamic publications in general. The most onerous restriction was a list of more than 100 prohibited words that the censors would not allow in Christian or Islamic literature because they are “indigenous terms” or derived from the Pali language long used in Buddhist literature. Many of these words have been used and accepted by some of the country’s Christian and Islamic groups since the colonial period. Organizations that translate and publish non-Buddhist religious texts were appealing these restrictions. In addition, censors have sometimes objected to passages of the Old Testament and the Qur’an that they believe approve the use of violence against nonbelievers. There have been no reports of arrests or prosecutions for possession of any traditional religious literature in recent years.

Authorities also restricted the quantity of bibles and Qur’ans brought into the country. During the reporting period, however, individuals continued to carry Bibles and Qur’ans into the country in small quantities for personal use. There were no reports that authorities intercepted or confiscated Qur’ans at border entry points, but religious leaders complained that postal workers steal them to sell on the black market.

In general, the Government has not allowed permanent foreign religious missions to operate in the country since the mid-1960s, when it expelled nearly all foreign missionaries and nationalized all private schools and hospitals, which were extensive and affiliated mostly with Christian religious organizations. The Government is not known to have paid any compensation in connection with these extensive confiscations. Christian groups, including Catholics and Protestants, have brought in foreign clergy and religious workers for visits as tourists, but they have been careful to ensure that the Government did not perceive their activities as proselytizing. Some Christian theological seminaries also continued to operate, as did several Bible schools and madrassahs. The Government has allowed some members of foreign religious groups, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), to enter the country to provide humanitarian assistance or English language training to government officials. Some of these groups did not register with the Myanmar Council of Churches, but were able to conduct religious services without government interference.

The Government allowed members of all religious groups to establish and maintain links with coreligionists in other countries and to travel abroad for religious purposes, subject to the country’s restrictive passport and visa issuance practices, foreign exchange controls, and government monitoring, which extended to all international activities by all citizens regardless of religion. The Government sometimes expedited its burdensome passport issuance procedures for Muslims making the Hajj or Buddhists going on pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, India, although it limited the number of pilgrims. In 2006 government officials allowed approximately 3,000 Muslims to participate in the Hajj. The procedure reportedly became more cumbersome in 2006 due to the relocation of most government offices from Rangoon to Nay Pyi Taw. Observers speculate that had this not been the case, more Muslims would have gone. During the period covered by this report, immigration and passport officials continued to use the occasion of the Hajj to extort bribes from would-be travelers. Government and private travel agencies processed approximately 2,500 Buddhist pilgrims to travel to Bodhgaya in India.

Non-Buddhists continued to experience employment discrimination at upper levels of the public sector. Few have ever been promoted to the level of Director General or higher. There were no non-Buddhists who held flag rank in the armed forces, although a few Christians reportedly achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The Central Executive Committee of the largest opposition group–the National League for Democracy–also included no non-Buddhists, although individual members from most religious groups in the country supported the party. The Government discouraged Muslims from enlisting in the military, and Christian or Muslim military officers who aspired for promotion beyond the rank of major were encouraged by their superiors to convert to Buddhism. Some Muslims who wished to join the military reportedly had to list “Buddhist” as their religion on their application, though they were not required to convert.

Rohingya Muslims, although essentially treated as illegal foreigners, were not issued Foreigner Registration Cards. Instead, the Government gave some of them “Temporary Registration Cards” (TRC). UNHCR estimated that only 650,000 of the approximately 800,000 Rohingyas possessed TRCs. Authorities have insisted that Muslim men applying for TRCs submit photos without beards. The authorities did not allow government employees of the Islamic faith, including village headmen, to grow beards, and dismissed some who already had beards. The authorities also did not consider many non-Rohingya Muslims to be citizens. In order for these Muslims to receive National Registration Cards and passports, they must pay large bribes. Ethnic Burman Muslims pay less than Muslims from ethnic minority groups (primary those of Indian or Bengali descent).

In 2006 a prominent Muslim religious organization asked the Rakhine State Peace and Development Council Chairman, the Regional Military Commander, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs to lift marriage restrictions for Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. At the end of the reporting period, they had yet to receive a response.

In Rangoon, Muslims can usually obtain birth certificates for newborns, but local authorities refused to allow them to place the names of the babies on their household registers.

Authorities generally did not grant permission to Rohingya or Muslim Arakanese to travel from their hometowns for any purpose; however, permission was sometimes obtainable through bribery. Non-Arakanese Muslims were given more freedom to travel; however, they were also required to seek permission, which was usually granted after a bribe is paid. Muslims residing in Rangoon could visit beach resort areas in Thandwe, Rakhine State, but could not return to Rangoon without the signature of the Regional Military Commander. Those with money were able to bribe local officials to return. Muslims residing outside of Rakhine State often were barred from return travel to their homes if they visit other parts of Rakhine State.

Rohingyas did not have access to state-run schools beyond primary education and were unable to obtain employment in any civil service positions. Muslim students from Rakhine State who completed high school were not granted permits to travel outside the state to attend college or university. In lieu of a diploma, Rohingya high school graduates received a sheet of paper that stated they would receive a diploma upon presentation of a citizenship card; however, Rohingyas can never obtain such a card.

Many of the approximately 25,000 Rohingya Muslims remaining in refugee camps in Bangladesh refused to return because they feared human rights abuses, including religious persecution.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), has been in prison or house arrest since 2003, when forces allied with the Government attacked her and her convoy, which included several NLD-allied monks, while traveling in Sagaing Division in the northwestern region of the country. The Government reportedly used criminals dressed in monks’ robes in the ambush. On May 15, authorities detained more than 30 worshippers in Rangoon when they approached separate pagodas to pray for Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. At the end of the reporting period, the worshippers were still detained. The next day USDA members, claiming to represent “the people,” detained another 15 worshippers after they prayed at a pagoda in Mingladon Township, but the authorities let them go the same day. On May 25, 2007, the Government extended Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest for an additional year.

In February 2007 the Burmese Army arrested a monk who was allegedly trading Buddha images to Buddhists in Bangladesh illegally. The army forced the monk to disrobe in contravention to Buddhist precepts that require a monk to have his robes removed at a ceremony in a monastery. Laypersons, regardless of status, may not demote a monk to become a layperson.

On July 2, 2006, authorities from Thandwe, Rakhine State arrested Abbot Wila Tha and his assistant Than Kakesa from the Buddhist monastery of U Shwe Maw village, Taungup Township, closed the monastery, and forced 59 monks and novices to leave. Local sources claimed that the reason for the arrest was that the abbot refused to accept donations from or conduct religious ceremonies for the authorities. The authorities also claimed the abbot was endangering local stability by talking to the monks and novices about democracy, that he was a supporter of the NLD (National League for Democracy), and that he had supported the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi (pro-democracy activist and leader of the NLD) when she visited the area several years earlier. The exile-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) estimated there were 86 Buddhist monks in prison for various charges. It was not possible to verify the AAPP estimate. The number of non-Buddhists in prison for their religious beliefs was unknown. Authorities usually defrocked monks when they arrested them and treated them like ordinary prisoners, including using torture. The prison authorities disrespectfully addressed the monks by their given names, not their religious titles.

Local civilian and military authorities continued to take actions against Christian groups: arresting clergy, closing home churches, and prohibiting religious services.

In February 2006, police at Hpa-an, Karen State, arrested Yeh Zaw, a member of the Phawkkan Evangelical Church. Yeh Zaw had earlier written a letter to the regime leader urging him to end the persecution of his church that Rangoon authorities closed earlier in 2006, banning members from worshipping there. Police charged him with traveling without an identity card.

In 2005 local authorities in the Chin State capital of Hakha notified Baptist leaders that they would be forced to relocate an active, historic cemetery from church property to a remote location outside of town. Religious leaders reported that authorities continued to forcefully relocate cemeteries in many parts of the country.

In the past, pagodas or government buildings often have been built on confiscated Muslim land.

In Kachin State, authorities have constructed Buddhist shrines in Christian communities where few or no Buddhists reside and have tried to coerce Christians into forced labor to carry bricks and other supplies for the shrine’s construction. In September 2006 government officials inaugurated a pagoda near the Kachin Independence Organization’s headquarters at Laiza, Kachin State. Kachin sources reported there were no Buddhists living in the community. In northern Rakhine State, authorities frequently forced Rohingyas to help construct Buddhist shrines, even though Buddhists there account for approximately 2 percent of the population.

In January 2006 Muslim Rohingyas from at least ten surrounding villages claimed the military forced them to carry building supplies for three model villages at Padauk Myin, Mala Myin and Thaza Myin in Rathedaung Township. Certain townships in the Rakhine State, such as Thandwe, Gwa, and Taungup, were declared “Muslim-free zones” by government decree in 1983.

Authorities have attempted to prevent Chin Christians from practicing their religion. In 2005 the military commander in Matupi Township, Chin State, ordered the destruction of a 30-foot cross erected on a hillside with government permission in 1999. A more senior military official subsequently told local church authorities that they could get permission to reconstruct the cross; however, the local pastors have thus far refused to ask for such authorization. In the past, these crosses often have been replaced with pagodas, sometimes built with forced labor.

SPDC authorities continued to “dilute” ethnic minority populations by encouraging, or even forcing, Buddhist Burmans to relocate to ethnic areas. In predominantly Muslim northern Rakhine State, authorities established “model villages” to relocate released ethnic Burman criminals from other parts of the country.

There continued to be credible reports from diverse regions of the country that government officials compelled persons, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, especially in rural areas, to contribute money, food, or materials to state-sponsored projects to build, renovate, or maintain Buddhist religious shrines or monuments. The Government denied that it used coercion and called these contributions “voluntary donations” consistent with Buddhist ideas of making merit. In April 2006 authorities in Lashio reportedly tried to coerce merchants to contribute large sums to construct a Buddhist shrine. Christian merchants refused to participate and the funds raised were well below the authorities’ target.

Forced Religious Conversion

Muslim and Christian community leaders reported that during the period covered by this report, authorities had moved away from a campaign of forced conversion to Buddhism and instead focused on enticing non-Buddhists to convert to Buddhism by offering charity or bribery. Conversion of non-Buddhists, coerced or otherwise, is part of a longstanding government campaign to “Burmanize” ethnic minority regions. This campaign has coincided with increased military presence and pressure. In 2005 there was a single, unverified report of forced conversion at gunpoint in Chin State; however, Christian groups reported that such violent cases were less frequent than in earlier years. In September 2006 Chin sources reported that 15 students withdrew from a government-operated hostel for girls in Matupi, Chin State, after formerly voluntary Buddhist evening prayers became compulsory for all the hostel residents. Although the girls received free school fees, food, and accommodation, they complained they felt pressured to become Buddhist. In Kanpetlet, Chin State, NaTaLa operated a school exclusively for Buddhist students and guaranteed them government jobs after graduation. Christian children had to agree to convert to Buddhism if they wanted to attend this school.

There were no reports of forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to return to the United States.

Section III. Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Preferential treatment for Buddhists and widespread prejudice against ethnic Indians, particularly ethnic Rohingya Muslims, were key sources of social tensions between the Buddhist majority and Christian and Muslim minorities.

In February 2006, violent clashes broke out between Muslims and Buddhists in Magway Division in response to rumors that Muslim men had raped a Burman woman. Ethnic Burmans attacked and torched Muslim and ethnic Indian homes, shops, and mosques. Rioting and looting spread to surrounding towns, including Chauk and Salin. Local security forces did not intervene at first, but as violence spread authorities imposed a strict curfew in several towns. Reliable sources stated that the authorities arrested 17 people in Sinbyukyun and another 55 persons in Chauk, mostly Muslims. Unofficial sources claimed that 3 people died and another 10 were injured in the riots. Three mosques in Yenangyaung, Chauk, and Saku were reportedly destroyed in the violence. At the end of the reporting period, the mosques remained sealed and authorities would not permit Muslims to rebuild them, nor did authorities conduct inquiries into the attacks. Christians reported that an entire Muslim village fled to the monastery of a trusted Buddhist abbot near Shwe Settaw to seek refuge during the riots.

These attacks follow earlier communal violence in Kyauk Pyu, Rakhine State, in 2005. During several days of violence, two Muslims were killed and one Buddhist monk was severely injured. Some Islamic groups blamed the Government for trying to increase tensions between Buddhists and Muslims as part of a “divide and rule” strategy.

Since 1994, when Buddhist members split away from the KNU (Karen National Union) to organize the pro-government Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), there have been armed conflicts between the DKBA and the predominately Christian antigovernment KNU. Although the DKBA reportedly includes some Christians and there are some Buddhists in the KNU, the armed conflict between the two Karen groups has had strong religious overtones. There were also unverified reports that DKBA authorities continued to expel villagers who converted to Christianity.

During the reporting period, a Burmese language document surfaced titled, “Program to Eliminate Christianity.” The document suggested 17 points for countering Christianity in the country; however, the source of the document was unknown and several grammatical errors raised questions about its authenticity. There was no definite evidence to link the document to the Government.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

Government restrictions on speech, press, assembly, and movement, including diplomatic travel, made it difficult to obtain timely and accurate information on human rights in the country, including on freedom of religion. Information about abuses often becomes available only months or years after the events and frequently is difficult or impossible to verify.

The U.S. Government continued to promote religious freedom in its contacts with all sectors of society, as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. During the period covered by this report, Embassy officials discussed the importance of improved religious freedom with government and military officials, private citizens, scholars, representatives of other governments, and international business and media representatives. Embassy representatives met regularly with leaders of Buddhist, Christian, and Islamic religious groups, including ethnic minority religious leaders, members of the faculties of schools of theology, and other religious-affiliated organizations and NGOs. This included regular invitations to the American Chargé d’Affaires’ residence to build understanding and tolerance among the groups.

Through outreach and traveling, when not blocked by regime officials, Embassy representatives offered support to local NGOs and religious leaders and exchanged information with many otherwise isolated human rights NGOs and religious leaders. Representatives of the Rohingya minority participated in English language and current events studies at the Embassy’s American Center. The American Center regularly translated statements and reports by the U.S. Government and various NGOs on violations of religious freedom in the country and distributed them via its frequently visited library. The U.S funded an effort for UNHCR to initiate work with the Ministry of Immigration and Population to issue TRCs, fairly and without bribes or unreasonable requirements, to undocumented Rohingyas. In addition, the Embassy worked closely with Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian NGOs involved in education and teacher training.

Since 1999 the Secretary of State has designated the country as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Because of the country’s poor human rights situation, including its abuses of religious freedom, the United States imposed extensive sanctions on the regime. The United States has also opposed all assistance to the Government by international financial institutions and urged the Governments of other countries to take similar actions. U.S. sanctions include a ban on imports from the country, a ban on the export of financial services to the country, a ban on bilateral aid to the Government, a ban on the export of arms to the country, and a suspension of General System of Preferences (GSP) benefits and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) financial services in support of U.S. investment and exports to the country. The U.S. Government also ended active promotion of trade with the country, limited the issuance of visas to high-ranking government and military officials and their immediate family members, and froze SPDC assets in the United States. New investment in the country by U.S. citizens has been prohibited since May 1997.

Released on September 14, 2007

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Crackdown on Burmese Muslims

July 2002

Summary

As United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail prepares to visit Burma in early August, pressure is growing from the international community and Burmese ethnic minority leaders to broaden the ongoing dialogue between the democratic opposition and the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to include the concerns of Burma’s minority populations. The concerns of Burma’s Muslims should be part of that agenda.

During much of 2001, there was increased tension between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Burma, at times erupting into violence. News of the violence was quickly suppressed, however, and little detailed information about what took place reached the outside world. The government has failed to take effective action to protect Muslims in Burma, imposed restrictions on Muslim religious activities and travel both inside the country and abroad, and taken no action to punish those responsible for destroying Muslim homes and mosques.

A combination of factors seems to have precipitated last year’s confrontations. Destruction of Buddhist images in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in March 2001, and the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., appear to have fueled increased Buddhist resentment against local Muslims.

Like previous attacks on Muslims by members of the majority Buddhist population, economic factors also played a role. The worst violence in eastern Burma, for example, took place in May and September 2001, at times when the country’s economic crisis was particularly severe. During this period the blackmarket rate for kyat was well over 800 to the U.S. dollar, roughly 100 times the official rate. The fact that many Muslims are businessmen, shopkeepers and small-scale money changers means that they are often targeted during times of economic hardship.

Outbreaks of violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities took place in Taungoo, just over 150 kilometers north of Rangoon, in May 2001, when more than a thousand people led by robed Buddhist monks attacked Muslims shops, homes, and mosques. Many Muslims were reportedly beaten and there were credible reports of at least nine deaths. Violence spread to nearby townships and villages. The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) did little or nothing to intervene to stop and prevent the attacks.

Even more serious violence erupted in Prome, northwest of Rangoon, in early October 2001, leading authorities to impose a curfew to prevent the unrest from spreading to nearby areas.

Further outbreaks took place in Pegu, northeast of Rangoon, though on a smaller scale.

In Arakan State, a predominantly Muslim area, human rights violations, including forced labor, restrictions on the freedom of movement, and the destruction of mosques, have been commonplace.

In February 2001, in the state capital Sittwe, a major frontier and commercial  

For background on Arakan State and persecution of Muslims, see Human Rights Watch, “Burma: The Rohingya Muslims: Ending a Cycle of Exodus?”

A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 8, no. 9 (c), September 1996; Human Rights Watch/Asia and Refugees International,

“Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh: The Search for a Lasting area with sizeable Muslim and Buddhist populations, full-scale riots broke out, resulting in deaths, destruction of Muslim homes, and the imposition of a curfew and travel restrictions.

This briefing is based on Human Rights Watch research conducted in late 2001 and early 2002, including over thirty interviews with Burmese Muslims and other religious leaders inside Burma and in nearby countries. To protect the safety of those we spoke to inside Burma, individuals’ names and the times and places of interviews are not included. By combining this information with interviews with Rohingya (Muslim) refugees in camps in Bangladesh conducted by Forum Asia from May-December 2001, and published media accounts, Human Rights Watch has compiled a still incomplete but telling picture of what caused the violence, how the authorities responded, and some of the lingering abuses of religious freedom and other fundamental human rights that continue to affect Burma’s Muslim population.

Recommendations

Burma is obligated under international human rights law to protect the fundamental rights of all persons within its territory, including religious minority populations. The government must respect all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind such as race, language, religion, and national or social origin. This includes the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; and to manifest one’s beliefs in practice, worship, and observance.

The SPDC should take immediate steps to end continuing harassment and persecution of Muslim communities. It should immediately lift all official restrictions on the freedom of Muslims to congregate in mosques, as well as restrictions on their ability to gather in groups for prayers in private homes. The government should eliminate requirements for special identity papers and lift travel restrictions on Muslims, both of which were rigidly enforced last year in order to keep Muslim communities in check.

The SPDC should also take effective action against those responsible for violence against Burmese Muslims. The authorities should fully investigate last year’s attacks on Muslim shops and mosques and prosecute those responsible for such crimes as assault, arson, and looting. They should take steps to ensure that property, including mosques, destroyed during last year’s violence is restored and losses fairly compensated. In locations such as Arakan State, where local army commanders reportedly ordered the destruction of mosques, those implicated should be prosecuted or otherwise disciplined. In instances when force is used by authorities against civilians, including lethal force, in the course of crowd control, the government should ensure that international standards and guidelines, including the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, are fully respected.

The international community sho uld call on the Burmese government to allow Ambassador Razali and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, unrestricted access to all Muslims areas, including the sites of last year’s violence, so that they can meet with local Muslim residents and community leaders and make recommendations for specific steps to protect the basic human rights of the country’s Muslim population.

Solution,” A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 9, no. 7 (c), August 1997; Human Rights Watch/Asia, “Burmese Refugees in Bangladesh: Still No Durable Solution,” A Human Rights Wash Report, vol. 12, no. 3 (c), May 2000.

3 Background on Muslims in Burma

Burma has been ruled by successive repressive, authoritarian regimes since 1962, when General Ne Win seized power. In 1988, the armed forces brutally suppressed massive pro-democracy demonstrations and since then a junta of senior military officers has ruled by decree, claiming only to be a transitional government. During the last fourteen years the military’s human rights record has been appalling. The suppression of political and religious activities has been endemic through the whole of this period.

2 The latest Burmese Constitution, adopted in 1974, restricts religious freedom and stresses the paramount supremacy of the State. It states that “the national races shall enjoy the freedom to profess their religion…provided that the enjoyment of any such freedom does not offend the laws or the public interest.”3 But violence and discrimination against Burma’s Muslim minority has been commonplace over the last four decades. Islamic leaders in Rangoon believe that attitudes among the predominantly Buddhist Burmese population began to change from tolerance to persecution after General Ne Win seized power in a military coup in 1962. Since then, Muslims have been deliberately and systematically excluded from official positions in the government and the army.

The Burmese government estimates that some four percent of the population are Muslims.

However, Islamic leaders believe that Muslims make up nearly ten percent of the population.

There has been no official census since Burma gained its independence from Great Britain in 1948. Apart from Arakan, the western Burmese state that borders Bangladesh and is home to the Muslim Rohingyas, Burma’s Muslims live predominantly in urban areas throughout the country.

According to a senior Muslim leader in Rangoon, most Muslims are indistinguishable in  appearance and behavior from the country’s Buddhists: they dress the same, wear longyis, speak Burmese, and understand Burmese culture and history.

During the British colonial period and the early years of independence, Muslims played an important role. They held high positions in government and civil society. They were also in the forefront of the fight for independence from the British. After independence, Muslims continued to play a prominent role in the country’s business, industrial, and cultural activities. Many Muslims were public servants, soldiers, and even officers. At the time of the last democratically elected parliament in the 1960s, there was at least one Muslim minister and several Muslim members of parliament.

This all changed after General Ne Win seized power in 1962. He initiated the systematic expulsion of Muslims from government and the army. There is no written directive that bars Muslims from entry or promotion in the government, according to Muslim leaders in Burma, but in practice that is what happens.

Although there is no official state religion, the Burmese military government actively endorses Theravada Buddhism in practice, as have previous governments – both civilian and military.

2 See Human Rights Watch World Reports, chapters on Burma, 1990-2002.

3 Article 21 (b) of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma, 1974.

4 government is increasingly seen identifying itself with Buddhism. The state-controlled media often shows military leaders and government ministers paying homage to Buddhist monks; making donations to pagodas throughout the country; officiating at ceremonies to open, improve, or restore pagodas; and organizing forced donations of money, food, and labor to build or refurbish Buddhist shrines throughout the country. State-owned newspapers regularly feature slogans and quotations from Buddhist scriptures. While undoubtedly motivated in part by religious conviction, this close identification is also seen by many observers as part of the military’s strategy to find some form of legitimacy for its rule.

Muslims and Christians have major difficulties in obtaining permission to build places of worship and in importing indigenous-language translations of traditional sacred texts. In fact, over the last ten years there have been numerous reports of mosques being destroyed, in some cases with Buddhist stupas being built in their place.

Muslims in Burma have long suffered from ethnic and religious discrimination. Historical sources suggest that the majority Buddhist population has viewed Muslims with suspicion almost from the time they began to become a significant minority in Burma twelve hundred years ago.

While there are no written regulations or laws that mandate any of the customary discriminatory practices which have emerged in Burma today, mistrust and antipathy toward Muslims is deeply rooted.

The Burmese4 have had a long tradition of intermarriage, especially between Burmans and members of ethnic groups found in eastern Burma –Karens, Mons and Shans – which are predominantly Buddhist. In recent years there has also been substantial intermarriage with members of the Chinese community, also made easier by shared religious beliefs. But this occurs far less often in the case of Muslims; normally, marrying into a Muslim family entails conversion to Islam.

Over the decades, many anti-Muslim pamphlets have circulated in Burma claiming that the Muslim community wants to establish supremacy through intermarriage. One of these, Myo Pyauk Hmar Soe Kyauk Hla Tai (or The Fear of Losing One’s Race) was widely distributed in 2001, often by monks, and many Muslims feel that this exacerbated the anti-Islam feelings that had been provoked by the destruction in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

5 Local Buddhist monks have often been at the center of these campaigns. According to Burmese Muslim leaders, distribution of pamphlets in 2001 was also supported by the Union of Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a government-sponsored mass organization that fulfils a social and political function for the military.

Officially sanctioned action against the Muslim community has varied over the last two decades.

In the mid-nineties there were several attempts to eliminate mosques in different parts of the country, including in Rangoon. But it is more than two years now since any mosques in Rangoon

4 The term Burmese is generally used for citizenship and Burman for the ethnic group.

5 “Giant Buddha statues ‘blown up,’” BBC, March 11, 2001, available at:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_1214000/1214384.stm (July 12, 2002).

5 were forcibly closed or razed, according to the president of Burma’s Islamic Affairs Council.

These previous efforts in Buddhist areas of Burma often had official backing, unlike most of the attacks on the mosques in 2001.

It is difficult to estimate the extent of damage done to mosques in eastern Burma during the violence last year. Many still remain closed, especially in Taungoo where the wo rst violence occurred. Even in many of the mosques that have reopened, the damage is still clearly visible, as in Pegu.

Special identity papers and travel restrictions on Muslims have also long been in force. Burma denies citizenship status to most Muslim Rohingyas, for example, on the grounds that their ancestors did not reside in the country at the start of British colonial rule in 1824.

6 The U.N. special rapporteur on Burma in 1993 urged the government to “abolish its over-burdensome requirements for citizens in a manner which has discriminatory effects on racial or ethnic minorities.”

7 Restrictions seem to have been far more rigidly enforced last year because of heightened concerns about the Muslim community. There are many credible reports of Muslims being taken off buses and trains when they were not able to produce their travel papers, and in some cases even when they did. For instance, in February 2001, eight Muslim men traveling to Rangoon were arrested despite having identity papers because they were traveling outside Arakan State without permission from the local police. They were sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

8 In October, a Muslim man was taken off a plane in Kawthaung airport in southern Burma, bound for Rangoon without apparent reason; his ticket was cancelled.

9 One Muslim woman, a resident of Rangoon, told Human Rights Watch she was unable to return home after traveling to the Andaman Sea on holiday because, she said, the local authorities insisted that she needed a visa to return. She was allowed to travel back to Rangoon two weeks later.

Muslims wanting to perform the Haj in 2002 also faced especially tight restrictions this past year.

In most years several thousand Muslims travel to Mecca for the Haj. Senior Islamic leaders in Rangoon estimate that more than five thousand pilgrims travel to Mecca in a typical year by their own means. This is on top of the two hundred Muslims who go as part of the official Burmese delegation, arranged by the military government. In 2002, only the two hundred pilgrims on the officially organized visit to Mecca were allowed to make the trip.

The government insists there was no prohibition on travel. In theory Muslims were allowed to go on the Haj, Muslims leaders say, but no one was able to get a passport to travel. The number of passports granted to Burmese citizens has been drastically cut, according to official sources in 6 For details on Burma’s highly restrictive citizenship law see Human Rights Watch/Asia, “Burmese Refugees in Bangladesh: Still No Durable Solution,” May 2000.

7 Ibid.

8 Mizzama News February 13, 2001.

9 Irradawaddy Magazine Online October 10, 2001.

Rangoon. Before last November, more than a thousand passports were issued a month; this has been reduced. Although all Burmese reportedly now have to wait longer for a passport and pay more in bribes for it, Muslims claim that they have had to endure even more than other groups due to prejudice. The president of the Burmese Islamic Council says the percentage of Muslims applicants getting passports has now fallen from 20 percent to 5 percent. This not only makes performing the Haj more difficult, but also restricts Muslim businessmen’s commercial activities.

Although Buddhism is not officially enshrined as the national religion, the Burmese military government often uses Buddhism as a means of laying claim to a form of national legitimacy.

The senior generals use Buddhism to bolster their authority, frequently visiting pagodas and paying tribute. Intelligence chief Lt. General Khin Nyunt has even built a new pagoda near the Rangoon Mingaladon airport.

However, in 2001, the SPDC was far more pragmatic in its approach, partly because their new policy of actively engaging the international community meant that they needed a more

measured approach to religious tolerance. The SPDC was anxious to maintain strong relations with Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, leader of the largest Muslim country in mainland Southeast Asia.

But the Burmese government’s approach during much of 2001, at least in areas outside Arakan State, also reflected the belief that to prevent major outbreaks of social unrest they would need to contain Muslim sentiment. Military leaders apparently feared that young hotheads amongst the Muslim community might be provoked into violent action.

Such unrest is something the military regime wants to avoid at all costs. In a rapidly deteriorating economy, with the price of stable goods like edible oil and rice increasing sharply, the possibility of social disturbances developing into a food riot has haunted government leaders. Something similar happened in 1988 and helped spark the massive pro-democracy movement. It paralyzed the government for several months before the military coup on September 18 brutally crushed the demonstrations and established military rule throughout the country.

The Burmese government’s reaction to the Taliban’s destruction of the Buddhist images at Bamiyan in March 2001 was mixed from the start. Government sources say the military regime sent a formal letter of protest to the Taliban authorities in Kabul but never made its action public.

Pictures and videos of the event, pirated and copied from foreign publications and foreign broadcasters, were confiscated by the military authorities for fear they would enflame the country’s Buddhist population. The SPDC’s failure to publicly condemn the destruction of Buddhist images angered many monks, residents of Rangoon told Human Rights Watch. The government quickly imposed curfews in those towns where violence erupted and in some towns even cut communications, as in Taungoo, Taunggi, and Pegu. Senior Buddhist monks were told to instruct the heads of local monasteries to keep their young monks in their compounds,according to one Rangoon-based monk. “Many monks in Rangoon have also been told not to travel outside the city at present,” he said. “They were told there was a nation-wide ban on all religious ceremonies.”

7 The government was also nervous about the Burmese population seeing footage of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Some footage was shown on television and newspapers carried minimal coverage of the events of September 11, but with few photos. In many parts of the country, including Rangoon, military authorities closed the mosques and banned mass gatherings, including meetings for worship. Plainclothes military intelligence officers and police were stationed near mosques in most cities, according to Islamic leaders in Rangoon.

Military authorities again imposed curfews in places where violence erupted in October, describing the curfews as precautionary and intended to prevent individuals from spreading rumors with the intention of creating inter-religious conflict. A government press release announced: “The Government will not condone hate crimes or harassments targeted not only to Muslims but other religions.”

10 As a result, security measures, travel restrictions, and measures against illegal immigration were “beefed up.”

While there are credible reports that military intelligence officers were involved in stirring up anti-Muslim violence in some cities outside Rangoon, other officials seemed to have been concerned that religious riots not get out of control.

Taungoo Violence (May 2001)

There was mounting tension between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Taungoo for weeks before it erupted into violence in the middle of May 2001. The destruction of the Buddhist images in Bamiyan seem to have been one of the main triggers. Buddhist monks demanded that the ancient Hantha Mosque in Taungoo be destroyed in retaliation for the destruction in Bamiyan, according to Muslim leaders.

Eyewitnesses blame the violence on a crowd of more than a thousand people, led by monks. The violence started when a group of Burmese Buddhists attacked shops and restaurants owned by Muslims in the central town area. The Muslim owners retaliated angrily, defending themselves and fighting back, and then the violence escalated. In the next two days, Muslim homes, shops, and mosques were damaged or burned. Many Muslims were beaten and required medical treatment. During the violence, many Muslims sought and were given sanctuary both in Christian and Buddhist religious places of worship. Medical treatment at the government hospital was denied or delayed for a number of victims, said a local resident, and private doctors provided care for them but at their own risk.

Nine Muslims reportedly died during the riots, including three children. In one incident, a family of four, including two young children, perished when their house was set on fire by angry crowds allegedly whipped up by Buddhist monks. The house was burned to the ground, allegedly after being ignored by fire-fighters who devoted all their efforts to saving a Buddhist home next door.

10 Myanmar Information Sheet, 17th October 2001.

11 The U.S. State Department’s Annual Report for International Religious Freedom issued in October, 2001, estimates that ten Muslims and ten Buddhists were killed, and notes

“…there were credible reports that the monks that appeared to be inciting at least some of the violence were USDA or military personnel dressed as monks.

 After two days of violence the military stepped in and the violence immediately ended.”

8 More than sixty Muslim homes were destroyed and virtually all the Muslim-owned shops were looted and demolished, according to a local Muslim leader. Six mosques were destroyed, according to Muslim residents, including the famous 200- year-old Hantha Mosque.

The mosque was initially defended by volunteer Muslim guards, but the local authorities prevailed on thecommittee to allow the town council to take responsibility for the mosque’s safety. Muslim leaders emphasize that the Mosque was demolished during curfew hours and believe that local authorities were at least in part responsible for its destruction.

There are also credible reports that the violence against Muslims in Taungoo spread to nearbytownships and villages, including Myo Hla and Kywe Pway. In Taungdwin Gyi several days after the violence in Taungoo, Muslim-owned cars, houses, shops, and properties were burned and destroyed, said a Muslim eyewitness. The conflict between Muslims and Buddhists also spread to Taunggyi in Shan state. There are also unconfirmed claims that several mosques in parts of Karen State to the south of Taungoo were destroyed in Buddhist-Muslim violence that followed the disturbances in Taungoo.

There are also reports of problems in Prome and Mandalay around May, but here Buddhist

monks seem to have taken an active role in protecting the local mosques from destruction. The tension was so high in Mandalay that authorities were forced to close the Zay Cho market (in central Mandalay near the main railway station) for three days.

A curfew was declared as soon as anti-Muslim clashes broke out in Pegu – a little more than eighty kilometers northeast of

Rangoon. Curfews were imposed in many areas and towns in the second half of May because of the Muslim-Buddhist tension, according to a Rangoon-based diplomat, including in Pegu, Prome, Taungoo, and Taunggyi.

Many of the monks in Taungoo were carrying hand-phones, according to a highly credible eyewitness. Mobile phones are not readily available to the Burmese population — they simply cannot afford them. This seems to suggest that they were not monks, and may have been military intelligence operatives masquerading as monks.

In general, there was clearly a split among the monks in their attitude towards the violence against Muslims.

The scars of last May’s violence remain. Recent visitors to Taungoo say there are empty lots where former homes and businesses once stood. They have all been cleaned up and left empty.

The mosques in Taungoo remained closed as of May 2002. Muslims have been forced to worship in their homes. Local Muslim leaders complain that they are still harassed, and told that not more than five people can pray together even in the privacy of their own homes. After the violence, many local Muslims moved away from Taungoo to other nearby towns and as far away as Rangoon. But local residents say that some of them have now returned to Taungoo because they could not find work in Rangoon.

Violence in Prome (September/October 2001)

Even more intense violence against Muslims occurred in early October in Prome, located roughly 300 kilometers northwest of Rangoon. Eyewitnesses say a crowd of more than a thousand Burmese Buddhists, led by two hundred visiting monks, went on a rampage attacking Muslim homes and shops. A local Islamic leader who witnessed the event said that residents pointed out to the monks those shops which were owned by Muslims, who had gathered in Prome for a religious ceremony that intelligence chief Lt General Khin Nyunt was due to attend.

Many Muslim shop-owners had their properties destroyed. “The military did indeed intervene, but not before forty shops owned by Muslims were destroyed,” said a senior Muslim leader.

“And the violence flared up again two hours later after the police and troops had gone.”

There are conflicting accounts of what provoked this outbreak of violence. Many Prome residents believe the clash was sparked off when a young Burmese girl eloped with a Muslim boy and was forced to convert to Islam. The girl’s parents protested to the boy’s parents at the local Mosque.

Some local residents, however, claim the violence was engineered by proopposition forces who wanted to embarrass the government.

The government immediately cut off communication links with Prome and imposed a curfew in an effort to preve nt the unrest from spreading to other towns. But, in fact, violence against Muslims did erupt elsewhere, including in Hinthada in Irrawaddy and Pegu.

Pegu (October 2001)

Tension between Muslims and Buddhists reportedly was high in October 2001. Local residents say violence erupted after a quarrel broke out between some monks and a Muslim drug store owner. Several Muslim shops were reportedly ransacked, though Islamic leaders have played down the violence. There were some scuffles, with monks and Muslim youths shouting insults at each other, but the confrontations reportedly were quickly stopped by local authorities before they got out of hand.

Although the violence in Pegu was far more limited than in Prome, at least one mosque in the city was badly damaged. Although the mosque is now open for worship, the damage done to it is still very noticeable. For months after the violence, Muslim congregations, particularly after Friday prayers, continued to disperse quickly for fear of attracting the wrath of local military authorities. “The military are watching us very closely all the time,” a local Muslim leader told Human Rights Watch. Tension in Pegu was still evident in early 2002. The fear is palpable.

“There is no freedom for anyone here,” said another Muslim worshipper, “but for Muslims it’s even worse.”

Muslims in Pegu are at great pains to insist that the situation in the town is now back to normal and that there are no problems with the local Buddhist community. But curfews, travel restrictions, and tighter police and military surveillance remain in effect, suggesting that tensions remain high.

Arakan/Sittwe (February)

Violence against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan is a way of life, according to U.N. staff based in camps for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. As opposed to other parts of Burma, however, in Arakan the violence against Muslims is carried out systematically by the Burmese army.

The persistent abuse of human rights in Arakan, including institutionalized discrimination and forced labor has been documented by Human Rights Watch and others. Half a million

10 Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh a decade ago because of this persecution. 12 While the exodus of refugees has slowed since the worse repression ten years ago (the majority of the more than 250,000 who fled at the time have returned under the auspices of the UNHCR), conditions remain oppressive and Rohingyas continue to try to cross the border.

There was sporadic violence against Muslims in Arakan throughout 2001, with particular violent incidents in Sittwe and in and around Maungdaw township.

The worst incident occurred in February in the border town of Sittwe, Arakan State’s capital, located on the Naf river, a major border crossing-point and a center of commercial activity for the region. Both Muslims and Buddhists live in the town.

13 Burmese interviewed by Human Rights Watch report that there is constant tension between Buddhists and Muslims in Sittwe. The resentments are deeply rooted, and result from both communities feeling that they are under siege from the other. The violence in February 2001 flared up after an incident in which seven young monks refused to pay a Muslim stall holder for cakes they had just eaten. The Muslim seller, a woman, retaliated by beating one of the novices, said a Muslim eyewitness. Several more senior monks then came to protest and a brawl ensued, he said. One of the monks was hit over the head by the Muslim seller’s husband and started to bleed.

Riots then broke out. The abbots at the local Monastery began to ring the bells sounding an emergency, bringing many of the town’s Buddhists onto the streets to defend the monks. They were armed with knives, sticks, swords, and guns, said a local Muslim eyewitness. The Imam in the nearest mosque used a loudspeaker to call on local Muslims to defend themselves, calling for a jihad to protect women and children.

Eyewitnesses vary in their view of what happened next. Muslims insist that it was monks, armed with knives (or Soe in Burmese) who started the fighting. Buddhist sources deny it. What is clear is that a full- scale riot erupted after dusk and carried on for several hours. Buddhists poured gasoline on Muslim homes and properties and set them alight. More than thirty homes and a Muslim guesthouse were burned down, according to local residents. The fighting took place in the predominantly Muslim part of town and so it was predominantly Muslim property that was damaged.

Police and soldiers reportedly stood by and did nothing to stop the violence initially. It was several hours before they intervened.

According to a local Muslim resident, it was only when the Burma denies citizenship status to most Rohingyas on the grounds that their ancestors did not reside in the country at the start of British colonial rule in 1824. For details on Burma’s highly restrictive citizenship law see Human Rights Watch, “Burmese Refugees in Bangladesh: Still No Durable Solution,” May 2000.

The U.N. special rapporteur on Burma in 1993 urged the government to “abolish its over-burdensome requirements for citizens in a manner which has discriminatory effects on racial or ethnic minorities.”

13 The U.S. State Department’s Annual Report for International Religious Freedom, 2001, said “there were various, often conflicting, accounts of how the riots began, but reports consistently stated that government security and fire fighting forces did little to prevent attacks on Muslim mosques, businesses and residences…There are estimates that over 50 Muslim homes burned to the ground and that both Muslims and Buddhists were killed and injured.”

11 police realized that the Muslims were fighting back and killing Buddhists that police acted, shooting their weapons into the air. When this did not disperse the crowds, another sixty police reinforcements arrived in a truck and began to shoot directly at the Muslims, according to other local residents. “There were several dead bodies in the streets,” said one eyewitness, “both Muslims and Buddhists, but I don’t know how many.” There are no reliable estimates of the death toll or the number of injuries. More than twenty died according to some Muslim activists.

The army arrived around 2:00 in the morning and finally restored order.

A curfew was imposed in Sittwe immediately after the February riots, which stayed in force for more than two months. It was relaxed during the Water Festival (the celebration leading up to the Buddhist New Year) in April, but re-imposed afterwards. Muslims from nearby townships –

including Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung – were not allowed to travel to Sittwe.

Travel permits were revoked and, as of May 2002, few Muslims were being allowed to travel freely out of northern Arakan.

There was also violence in and around Maungdaw township in Arakan, with eyewitness accounts suggesting that at least 28 mosques and madrassah (Muslim schools) were destroyed in May 2001

The crackdown, according to one refugee who had been a businessman in Maungdaw town, began when the local NaSaKa14 military officer instructed the leaders of the Muslim community to draw up a list of the mosques in the area and the names of those who were on the respective mosque committees. He then ordered the closure of some of the mosques and reportedly told the committee members that if they did not comply with his order he would do it himself, saying:

“Don’t think this order comes from me. It comes from the higher authorities.”

This account was confirmed by a number of other refugees from the Maungdaw area recently arrived in Bangladesh, who also reported that local mosques had been destroyed in May 2001 on the local military commanders’ orders. Most of the mosques that were destroyed seem to have been built without official permission. According to the refugees, implementation of the policy requiring permission varied depending on how rigorous the military were. In some cases, the committee reportedly was able to save its mosque by paying substantial bribes. One mosque near Stapurika, close to Maungdaw, was saved at the cost of 100,000 kyat which was paid to the local military camp commander, according a former resident of the area.

The destruction of mosques seems to have been halted in the middle of 2001. Some mosques were permitted to be rebuilt after Muslim leaders met senior government officials in Rangoon to complain about the military’s orders to destroy all unauthorized mosques in Arakan. According to a former madrassah teacher from Buthidaung, the government officials said: “In Afghanistan, Talibans have destroyed statues of our Lord Buddha, so that is why we were destroying your mosques here.” Most of the mosques destroyed were thatch huts put up without permission.

For much of 2001, the use of unpaid labor for building military camps and acting as porters for the army in Arakan had been on the decline. But after the start of the U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan in October, authorities built new police and military camps and mounted twenty-four hour sentry duty. This entailed an increase in the use of use of forced labor to construct these new camps and the houses in them.

“There are four sentry posts in my village and in every post four men do a whole night of [unpaid] sentry duty,” said a Muslim teacher from Buthidaung. This is a pattern that is being repeated in many places in Arakan. The authorities say it is necessary because they fear an increase in terrorist activity by Muslim-based insurgents like the Arakan Rohingya National Organization and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), whom they accuse of connections with the Taliban or international Mujahid groups in Afghanistan. 15

Conclusion

Last November, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, in his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly, expressed concern about reports of violence against Muslim communities, and said, “Inter-ethnic/religious tensions are a matter of prime concern to me in a country whose extremely rich human, historical, political, linguistic and cultural diversity pose the constant political challenge of making these differences co-exist in a peaceful, dynamic and constructive manner.”16 The Burmese government must take effective action to address the concerns of the country’s Muslim population, and to safeguard and protect their basic human rights.

15 Some “Burmese” were reportedly captured in the recent war in Afghanistan, though it isn’t clear what this actually means. They were assumed to be from Rohingya groups who have in fact sent people there in the past for training. However they have never shown the same fundamentalism or militarism associated with the Taliban.

16 From the Special Rapporteur’s speech presenting his interim report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, A/56/112, Fifty Sixth Session of the General Assembly, November 7, 2001.