Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dirty List of Companies doing Business with Burma

This site says it has a "clean list" but I think the posting is truncated and goes on to other blog posts unconnected with Burma.

Burma Campaign UK is a well known activist site.

Now I start looking, there are surely many stock photos of Burmese people up for sale

Here is another one --

I bet the photos were all taken by foreign tourists or journalists.

As an exile who can't go home, can you imagine how that makes me feel?

Burmese Flower Girl

Truly a beautiful photograph and a young girl.

The site says proceeds for Katrina hurricane relief.

But how much is this young girl and her country getting?

I bet she gets zero.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Pride of Burma flower (Amhearstia Nobilis)

There used to be a single tree of this beside the Convocation Hall near Inya Lake on Rangoon University campus. It's the only one I ever saw in Burma or have ever seen, other than the Amhearstia trees in the Singapore botanical gardens. Alas, visited before I had a digital camera.

Convocation means "commencement," as in "commencement exercises," in American English. That is, a graduation ceremony.

Kevin Sites' video gear --

which he uses in the war zones he covers.;_ylt=Ap4P3aRDSz3QyWBCkTtMbguLFMsF

Of interest to Burmese citizen journalists and others --

Pioneer SoJo (solo journalist)

Kevin Sites -- Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone.

New Burma representative position to co-ordinate policy on Burma --

Good Comments on Hoped for Burmese Process --To Meaningful Dialogue and/or True Democratization.

To the junta:

Don't give us your sham constitution "the National Convention," abandon your so-called road map to disciplined democracy (disciplined! yikes!!!) --

stop calling for new elections when the results of the 1990 elections have not been honored.

Quote of the day from a long time Burma activist -- about new elections.

"Before, in 1990, the junta did not know to steal votes."

(It thought it would win, based on a poll government officials conducted.)

"But this time it will know it has to cheat."

So -- don't play in their court. Don't allow talk of new elections.

In the article linked above, Dr. Zarni of Oxford University defines what "breakthrough" could mean: The start of Dialogue or a power-sharing arrangement.

Of course, the ideal is meaningful dialogue with benchmarks leading to a Transitional Government and to a power sharing arrangement with the NLD.

Look to the S. African case again.

Kyi May Kaung Oct 31, 2007

Human Rights Watch says there are still child soldiers in Burma. France is doing some shuttle diplomacy

"There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Refugees newly arrived at an American airport. (Acronyms are for International Organization for Migration and U.S. Refugee Program) Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Hope you can come to my book discussion on Friday 2nd -- 7.10 PM to 8.30 PM

at Kefa Cafe, 963 Bonifant St, Silver Spring, MD --

Book is Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala, written from the point of view of a child soldier in Africa.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good overall wrapup -- Burma -- the Road to Crisis

from BBC --

Interesting that Michael Green presenting U.S. policy, has the last word.

So far this is the first and most cohesive analysis I have seen, without the presenter or interviewees getting hung up on pro and anti sanctions issues.

Over the last decade, or the last 6 years or so, some of the interviewees appear to have changed their views.

"Retired" drug warlord Khun Sa, living in Rangoon, dies --

"On certain planets, anything can happen."

Carl Sandburg.

For junta hangers on who live in Rangoon, what will you say "My children go to school with Khun Sa's children and grandchildren?"

Actually, reportedly Khun Sa's offspring are overseas. In Singapore?

A lot of money has been laundered.

Internet Censor World Championship

by Julian Pain, Reporters Sans Frontieres --

Burma (Myanmar should be added to this list.

A new Burmese blog --

Mr. Balance, named after his son -- some of the postings in Burmese, but contains primary material not seen in mainstream media -- such as manual of Burmese Defence Services Academy, poems from Burma, photos and news concerning the death of photo-journalist Mr Kenji Nagai, who was gunned down on a Rangoon street during the clampdowm.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wikitravel to Burma?

Reporters without Borders -- Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents

Very useful -- I will also put this site on my blog roll (list of links).

How to paint a huge sacred banner laid on floor --

Korean female monk painting at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Note the respect with which she carefully sits on a white sheet of paper and uses other sheets of paper to protect the completed painting from smudging.

The eyes are painted in -- "opened" last, as in Buddha images in Burma with a special ceremony.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

DC PAW Poets Against Torture Reading, at AU Nov 10

[Dcpaw] Poets Against Torture to Read at American University on November 10.

Thank you for supporting this amazing event, cosponsored by DC Poets Against the War and American University. Please forward this invitation and post it to blogs.

Huge thanks to DC PAW members Rose Berger and Joe Ross for coordinating the event and editing the spectacular accompanying book.
In peace,
Sarah Browning

D.C. Poets Against the War and the American University Museum announce the publication of
Cut Loose the Body: An anthology of poems on torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings
Edited by Rose Marie Berger and Joseph Ross, with an introduction by Sister Dianna Ortiz
Saturday, November 10, 2007, from 7-8:30 p.m
at the American University Museum (at the Katzen Arts Center on Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues, entrance just north of Ward Circle ).
A reception will begin at 6 p.m. and a booksigning will follow the reading.
Join us for a reading from Cut Loose the Body with nationally recognized “poets of witness”—including Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon (Baghdad Blues), Brooklyn ’s D. Nurkse (Burnt Island), Myra Sklarew (The Witness Trees), E. Ethelbert Miller (How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love), Consuelo Hernández (Poemas de Escombros y Cenizas), Kyle Dargan (Bouquet of Hungers), and more. The reading will be held in the gallery where the Botero exhibit is on display.
Cut Loose the Body includes poems by Pulitzer prize winner Maxine Kumin, Guggenheim Fellow Martín Espada (The Republic of Poetry), Pushcart winner Naomi Shihab Nye, and prisoners’ poems from Guantanamo .
For more information, contact the American University Museum (202-885-1300) or Rose Berger (202-745-4619;
SAVE THE DATE: Split This Rock Poetry Festival, March 20-23, 2008, calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national community of activist poets. Building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from the nation’s capital, we celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination. Featured poets will include: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lucille Clifton, Joy Harjo, Martín Espada, Galway Kinnell, Mark Doty, E. Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Alix Olson.

"Loud Mouthed Bully and Axe Handles of the West"

International women responded to this propaganda blitz with "panty wars" (which preceeded this) as according to traditional male chauvinist pig "culture" -- women's undergraments can cause a man to lose his "hpon" -- translated as "soul stuff" by some anthropologists.

Recently women demonstrated in the Philippines with posters of the Sr. Gen. with an odd head dress of you know what.

The head is considered more noble than the feet in Thai and Burmese cultures. Women are considered less worthy than men.

The junta did it's own shaming of monks, whom it arrested, defrocked, forced to wear white prison garb, tortured and interrogated, then re-ordained and sent back (some, the minority) to their monasteries.

In this tit for tat, who do your suppose inflicts more harm and causes real deaths?

Seldom seen images of Iran -- from DC Poets Against War

Please share widely

"Entitled to free false teeth" --

Confronting the Stalin Myth

by Hamilton Walters in Dictator Watch.

Anyone who says dictators are different depending on location is a fool. This article shows dictators are much the same, whether they are Burmese or Soviet.

More later on Robert Conquest and his books on the Stalinist Purges.

When Gorbachev opened the official archives, it was discovered that Robert Conquest had in fact underestimated the numbers of those killed by Stalin. In fact, more had been killed.

The next article in this stack, also by Hamilton Walters, shows how biased some "Burma experts" are in denying the severity of human rights abuses in Burma.

There is already a lot of physical evidence and one day there will be more.

In the videos by Citizen Journalists from inside Burma, the victims and the witnesses had carefully marked the blood stains for the photographer with bits of brick at a monastery that had been raided.

A month after the Burmese junta's crackdown, which still continues, we send metta (loving kindness) in our prayers for all those who died and are dying for Burma's Freedom.

Rest in Peace.

Someone else skewers --

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lisa DiLillo has re-posted an exerpt fromTongues Don't Have Bones

featuring poetry by Kyi May Kaung, on UTube --

The faux puppets are called "sin daw mintha minthamee" -- Big Stage female and male dancers --

it is considered the height of art for people to dance like puppets and puppets like real people.

Lisa made this video piece around 1997-98. I read my own poetry.

It is wonderful how this piece has remained so relevant, also of course, very sad.

Quote of the Day: On the Burmese generals --

Burmese curtain/kalaga/tapestry detail -- Sarah Bekker Collection, Burma Studies Center, DeKalb, IL. Photo with permission by Kyi May Kaung. Note: These old kalaga, this one approximately more than a 100 years old, are more charming, more subtle with color and artistically excellent. Many present day kalaga produced (some in Thailand) for tourists, are over stuffed and vulgar looking.


Comment which follows is apparently on the stick and carrot approach, to pressure and entice the military junta to change, which is being recuscitated again in international (academic?) circles.

"Recognise that the generals are not children to be coaxed to do the right thing nor are they adolescents who have committed their first offence and need to be offered an incentive to reform; they are hardened criminals who do not have any consideration for other people's points of view. They are without any human decency."

Interview of U Nyunt Han of Burma American Democratic Alliance by San Francisco Chronicle.

Is the junta using Mr Gambari -- from International Press Service

USA financial sanctions on Burmese junta officials --

Singapore Street -- Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Singapore is allegedly where all the junta folks do their banking and shopping and go to hospital. The late PM Soe Win spent his dying days there and was only taken back to Rangoon and the military hospital at the last moment, where he died of leukemia and was given a state funeral. Someone who attended the funeral said -- "The honor guard misfired (one of the old rifles used) -- It was not like a state funeral."

Note: On the other hand, new weapons were used on the peaceful demonstrators.

Here are 2 lists of individuals subject to most recent US targetted sanctions.

EU Blue Card --

BBC World reports that EU countries are short of skilled labor (engineers).

An Indian engineer employed in UK said "It is not like 20 years ago, when people wanted to leave India. Now India is enjoying high economic growth."

There was also talk of skilled labor from China.

EU Blue Card, BBC said, is like US Green Card { or Singaporean PM (Permanent Residency)}

Please ask your Burmese friends in Burma to enquire at EU Country embassies in Burma.

Burmese returning from overseas arrested at airport.

Freed Burmese musician and famous comedian describe Insein Prison.

Report from Ko Nyo.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Three Important Points on Burma's Transition --

With Steven Hansch, Professor, American University and Mike Haack, Volunteer and Grassroots Activist, US Campaign for Burma, I was a panelist yesterday (October 19th,
2007) on Burma: Prospects for Social Activism at the School of International Studies Lounge on AU Campus.

3 important points which came out of this session:

From me – I made this point before during BBC Hardtalk Interview –
Dr. Gambari, the UN Envoy’s mandate needs to be broadened and deepened.
A fine-tuned mix of sanctions, diplomacy and second track diplomacy should be used in Burma. President Bush extended sanctions on Burma and announced it himself, on Oct. 19th.
From Dr. Steven Hansch and Dr. David Hirschman (who told me he is from S. Africa – Dr. Hirschman is Director of the International Development Program at AU)
There needs to be something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in S. Africa in Burma –

Dr. Hirschman said that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission granted amnesty to some who had committed human rights abuses under apartheid and the ANC’s record was also examined. The Commission was headed by Bishop Tutu.

I am going to study transition in S. Africa some more.

From Dr. Hansch: The NCGUB (National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma) (The Democratic Government in Exile) – now does an effective job as roving ambassadors. But for Transition, they need to be more empowered, they need the promise that they will be part of the Transition Government.

This reminded me that former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto went back to Karachi after working out a power sharing agreement with Musharaf’s government.

At the AU session, I spoke about the political and economic background of the August and September demonstrations in Burma, talking about systemic factors to do with the command economy and the military dictatorship.

Mike Haack spoke of the US Campaign for Burma’s political activism and AU students.

Dr Hansch spoke of democratic transitions in different countries including East Timor.

Dr. Hirschman recommended a book (fiction) by Antjie Krogh, The Country of my Skull which has also been made into a film, see Wikipedia entry above. Other novels which address conditions in Africa and S. Africa are:

Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country.

Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation, about a child soldier.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Burmese Monks' Leader Speaks from Hiding.

"Reverend Father, I am Afraid." Painting copyright Kyi May Kaung.
From photograph, copyright Citizen Journalist.

Note: I am not a realistic but an impressionistic painter. These sketches don't look like the photograph. There is no saying if the monks in the photograph are the leaders or not. Right now the junta is arresting almost every monk.

An army officer who defected said the remains of executed monks had been dumped in the jungle. At least one photograph of a dead monk, floating face down in a stream, has surfaced on the Internet. He is identifiable as a monk by the way his robe is tied at the waist.

The Burmese language media in exile too may be partly responsible for giving interviewees inside Burma and Rangoon a false sense of security in the early days of the uprising. Now Irrawaddy on line reports they are worried about inside contacts, who are next on the clampdown list. The media in exile will re-evaluate their work practices at a meeting in Chiangmai in November. Aye Chan Naing, head of Democratic Voice of Burma, said all media people have to upgrade their IT skills, as young teenagers with these skills were mostly acting as Citizen Journalists.

U Gambira is the pseudonym of the leader of the All Burma Monks' Alliance, that spearheaded the nationwide protests.

Oslo based Democratic Voice of Burma's Maung Too reports today that U Gambira's younger brother, and another brother, also a monk and an HIV/AIDS patient (many monks in Burma contract AIDs through thindone dah or shaving blades used to shave their heads) - were arrested in their home town of Pauk. His mother and sister were also arrested and his father and another sister are on the run.

Sources told DVB that U Gambira's family members would not be released until he is captured.

As "outside activists" and media people, we should be mindful of all who died and are continuing to die in Burma.

Text copyright Kyi May Kaung

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Imagine Peace Tower --

from John Lennon and Yoko Ono

How to Find out the Truth about Burma

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

In the last seven weeks, Burma (now called officially Myanmar) has been in the throes of a social and political revolution that presages the birth of a new system, and the dying spasms, we hope, of the old tyranny run by old generals. A fivefold increase in the centrally controlled prices of fuel proved the spark that set off the powder keg of Burma. When the few activists who first demonstrated on the streets of Rangoon were arrested or went into hiding, monks took to the streets chanting the metta or Loving Kindness Sutra and their numbers grew to a peak of 100,000 before the military junta, following its decades old pattern, clamped down with deadly force. Even while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s special envoy, Dr. Ibrihim Gambari, was in Burma, the crackdown continued. The demonstrators thought he would stay at the Trader’s Hotel and so tried to go there, but bus routes were changed. Passengers let off their buses by bus drivers unaware of the route changes were set on with batons by soldiers dressed as policemen. Disturbing photos of a monk’s body, bruised and swollen lying face down in a stream; frame by frame video of the point blank shooting of Japanese photo journalist Kenji Nagai; a piece of human brain, and a squashed woman – missing a head, deliberately run over by a truck during the crackdown, have emerged.
The night-time arrests during curfew were reported by U.S. Charge d’Affaires Shari Villarosa – and members of the UN Security Council, especially the US embassador, called for an immediate stop to these abuses as Mr. Gambari presented his official report on his visit to Burma on Oct 5.
During this time, as my pro-democracy compatriots and I tried to keep up with events in order to adequately handle the increased requests for interviews and analysis, I would like to write about how to go about trying to find out the truth about a country like Burma.
The first pre-requisite I must say, is that you yourself be in a safe place while you do this kind of work. As it is not advisable for civilians to go to a war zone like Iraq, or other unsafe places, it’s also not advisable to try and get a visa to Burma and just pack and go, or to try entering Burma “by the back door” or via the Three Pagodas Pass and other border crossings from Thailand, or from other neighboring countries.
It used to be that foreign correspondents, especially Caucasians, were reasonably safe – but now Mr. Nagai’s death has shown graphically how dangerous the streets of Burma are. A State Department Advisory, recently updated, states that “though the demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent at any moment.” An eye witness who called in to BBC spoke about how terrifying the sound of the “police” beating their round rattan shields with their batons was. They were actually well equipped soldiers dressed as police, in a new uniform with red scarves around their necks, that no one had seen before. I wish I could look at their new boots and uniforms and find out where the items were made. Reportedly, China is equipping the Burmese army and this past week there were reports that the head of the Burmese air force was in Moscow, reportedly shopping for drones and other air force planes. Burma has no external enemies, but treats its people as enemies. On a per capita basis relative to the size of the population, it has the largest army in Asia.
My advice will only involve reading, and what you might call “letting your fingers do the walking” or “your mouse do the walking” and open source material that is open to anyone on the Internet. I believe it is the quality of one’s thinking that decides the quality of one’s analysis and its truth value. I myself read what everyone else reads and I have no access to restricted, high security information. As regards highly restricted information, the experience of the Bush administration and the weapons of mass destruction fiasco should remind us that as likely as not, such restriction can lead to a dangerous group think. You cannot get group think by reading widely.
I still pre-suppose that you know how to use a computer and have a dial up or DSL line to get on the Internet. You don’t need any more computer skills than that, but you do need to know how to do simple Google or other search engine searches. Mainly you need to know how to use the words “and” and “or” to widen your search. I don’t think you need to know more than that, but you do need to visually “delete” the other items that are not relevant and come up – for e.g. if I Google my name “Kyi May Kaung” all other Burmese names with each word will come up also – There was an ill trained “librarian” once who brought me a list which included the word “architect” when I asked for “architect of the Marshall Plan.” What I wanted was the name of the economist involved. You must remember that computers are smart but not as smart as humans and they don’t understand metaphors.
In 1988, at the time of the first great country wide pro-democracy demonstrations in Burma, the Internet was not yet born, so physical film had to be smuggled out. Videographer Jeane Hallacy told me that while she was filming Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the mid-90s (Suu Kyi was released the first time in 1995), they heard the sound of army trucks approaching. In the video, now a part of Hallacy’s Burma Diary, Suu is seen nervously blinking as she speaks into the camera. Hallacy told me that she managed to change the videotape in her camera to a new cassette. She did not say how she got the videotape out of Burma.
In the 19 years between 1988 and the demonstrations this August and September, the main differences are 1. the Internet revolution 2. members of the 1988 generation who fled are now well educated and well placed in non-profits overseas as part of the Burmese diaspora, 3. inside Burma since 1988, due to the so-called open economy (open for entrepreneurs connected to the military government) there is a certain level of contact with other countries, especially the neighboring countries, Bangladesh, India, China and Thailand and the Asean countries, now chaired by Singapore. 4. Burmese migrant workers who may be both blue collar and white collar now work in places as diverse as Singapore, Malaysia and Qatar, and the military junta itself is in charge of training and posting overseas, nurses and marine workers.
This led to connections between inside and outside Burmese and the sending of images and video through the Internet to media overseas.
Here are some of the main and best sites, in order of preference, as I see it.
A. Blogs: Especially blogs with connections inside Burma. One site that posted many images of the demonstrations as well as of atrocities still being committed in Burma as the crackdown started on Sept 26th continues is Ko Htike’s Prosaic Collection. London based Ko Htike says he has about 40 citizen correspondents inside Burma.
B. Dissident print and on line magazines/radio/TV stations.
i. Democratic Voice of Burma, based in Oslo – came out first in my own “Kaung ratings” – like “Huffs” on the Huffington Post. DVB got the scoop of the century, for Burma coverage – when is spite of its known lesser financial resources, it was able to show much video footage of the demonstrations as well as the spine chilling footage of Japanese photo journalist Kenji Nagai pushed down by a soldier and shot point blank. Japan has said however that “it is too early to cut aid.” This prompted one blogger to write sarcastically, “Are they going to wait for a whole posse of journalists to be shot down? As for Burmese they don’t count.”
As someone who has worked both sides of the mike, I always noticed that DVB correspondents were the most energetic in chasing down the news and interviewees.
ii. -- on a par with Ko Htike and DVB for news and images straight out of Burma. To my knowledge, Mizzima is similarly strapped for funds, and my own personal opinion is donors should recognize their important and timely contributions to provide more needed funding and other support.
iii. Irrawaddy Magazine – with a distinguished record, was during the crisis hit by a cyber attack which crashed its site on Sept 27th. It quickly put up a mirror site and was able to recover its archives, it wrote, but it was obviously very challenged and as a newsmagazine, I believe, events moved rather too fast in Sept. for it to keep ups its usual in depth articles.
C. The Big Three – Voice of America, BBC and RFA.
These were named in the recent mass pro-junta counter demonstrations being organized inside Burma by the SPDC. Of these VOA easily led the pack as the “voice of the United States Government.” In previous years, it was led by 2 people who were allegedly “junta-friendly” but now has the advantage of being managed by Than Lwin Tun, a veteran of the 1988 generation. Than Lwin Tun testified before Congress after the clampdown, saying “the only way it is ‘normal’ again is that oppression continues.” Earlier in the crisis period, he was interviewed by Ray Suarez on the McNeil Lehrer Newshour, and VOA under his leadership got exclusive interviews of Laura Bush, who has spoken up for Burma, and former President Jimmy Carter.
BBC Burmese Service in the past has also had rumors of a junta friendly head who in fact went back to live in Rangoon! RFA is rumored to have a mandate only up to 2008, very close now, and seems to be struggling to justify its existence. It has the poor practice of sending low level staff to cover events in DC itself, and since a managerial change at the beginning of 2007, I have not heard of the head attending or indeed displaying any interest in high level discussions on Burma. Sticking to the knitting and keeping the shop going are clearly not enough in this crucial period.
As regards program formatting, all 3 stations suffer from mannered and egotistic presentation that seems designed to fill up a lot of time – it can only be compared to the mannered jesting between the flirtatious dancer and the 2 clowns in traditional Burmese Ah-Nyient shows. The annoying format goes something like this. “So tonight we have Mr – and Ms – from – and – And now Ms. – please tell us – Ah, Mr. It is like this –“and so on and on ad nauseum. I could only bear to listen to it for half of the 45 or so minutes of the newscasts. That said, non-Burmese speakers, which include most Burma specialists and journalists covering Burma, are missing a lot by being unable to listen in on these radio sites.
The SPDC accused these radio stations of inciting the demonstrations. I believe they should not have lured listeners from within the country into a false sense of security by keeping them so long on the phone. What has happened now to the people who called in?
Beyond all this, I do believe the international community should remove the blinkers from its eyes and talk to as many dissident Burmese as they can find outside the country. Be especially careful of those polished people you meet on the circuit who insist its an internal matter, say it is not all negative, say they were just in Burma on Wednesday. After all, even as the Holocaust was taking place, there were Holocaust deniers and they still exist. Why should deniers of the Burmese atrocities be any different? The mind rebels at what it finds too awful, yet we should and we must confront the demons.

KMK 10-17-07

Biased BBC?

I also noticed the same one track mind when the same program interviewed me. Tear the democratic opposition to shreds, while the junta leaders never give interviews. Why don't they play hardball with the perpetrators, instead of picking on the victims?

Open question to anti-sanctions lobby: Who do you think has hurt the Burmese people more -- the army, the junta and the system it put in place over the last 45 years, since Ne Win's coup of 1962, or the targeted sanctions? In place only since 2004 when it was instituted at the weakest level. The interviewer himself said that sanctions had not succeeded.

Who funds BBC and how much trade does the UK have with Burma?

A few years ago, a reporter hired to cover a high level sanctions discussion on Burma in DC and I discovered, from their official web site, that the research organization sponsoring the seminar had a UNOCAL person on their board.

The reporter subsequently had his expose piece published in Irrawaddy, presumably because he could not get it published elsewhere.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Even Chinese flower exports growing --

Wild Burmese Orchids --

ripped off trees and sold in Thailand --

Upcoming on my Dr. Kaung's Bookshelf --

at Space 710 in Silver Spring, MD.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o's The Wizard of the Crow --

Currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Univ. of CA, Irvine, Kenyan born writer Ngugu wa Thiong'o has written this beautiful story in a magical realist style, set in the fictitious country of Aburiria, called The Wizard of the Crow.

The wizard becomes a wizard by accident, after a near death episode. He is then propelled into the surreal politics of his country. As similarly surreal events unfolded in my native Burma this summer, Wizard of the Crow turned out to be the perfect fictional mirror for me to read.

Join me for a discussion of this book in which mirrors also play a healing role.

Date and time to be announced.

Nov. 2, I will discuss Uzodinma Iweala's Beasts of No Nation, about a child soldier, in an un-named African country.

7.10 PM to 8.30 PM 963 Bonifant St., Silver Spring, MD.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Time: Where are Burma's Monks?,8599,1670876,00.html

Voice of the Cape (Capetown, S Africa) radio

called me this morning for a live interview.

As they were talking to me as a poet, we spoke about the words "Burma" and "Myanmar," about optimism and pessimism and the junta's macho "culture."

Saffron Through the Firewall by Roby Alampay



"Burma's slippered, bloodied citizens could not have been more eloquent with the silent, choppy videos they smuggled and posted online. Even as it is abused by the unscrupulous and the perverse, the Internet is a sanctuary and weapon for freedom fighters and humanitarians. It is also potentially a refuge and archive for justice."

Now Ministry of Defence!!! will handle communications.

Clampdown in Burma --

Watching Monk -- Copyright Burmese Citizen Journalist.

Video filmed by Al Jazeera under cover --

c/o Burmese Muslim Network.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fergal Keane from Rangoon --

Best written piece so far:

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize in Literature --

Burma -- Hidden Repression Worse --

Full horror of Burmese junta's repression of monks revealed
ANI Thursday 11th October, 2007

London, Oct.11 : The military junta in Myanmar is pursuing a systematic campaign of physical punishment and psychological terror with the objective of crushing the pro-democracy movement irrevocably. According to The Independent, this repression comes out clearly when you hear reports of monks being confined in a room with their own excrement for days, people beaten just for being bystanders at a demonstration, a young woman too traumatised to speak, and screams in the night in Rangoon, the centre of the protests against the regime. The first-hand accounts describe a campaign hidden from view, but even more sinister and terrifying than the open crackdown in which the regime's soldiers turned their bullets and batons on unarmed demonstrators in the streets of Rangoon, killing at least 13. According to the paper, the hidden crackdown is as methodical as it is brutal.One 24-year-old monk said that about 400 of them were placed in one room. They had no access to toilets, no buckets, no water for washing. No beds, no blankets, no soap. The young man, too frightened to be named, was one of 185 monks taken in a raid on a monastery in the Yankin district of Rangoon on 28 September, two days after government soldiers began attacking street protesters. On his release, the monk spoke to a Western aid worker in Rangoon, who smuggled his testimony and those of other prisoners and witnesses out of Burma on a small memory stick.Most of the detained monks, the low-level clergy, were eventually freed without charge as were the children among them. Another Rangoon resident told the aid worker: "We all hear screams at night as they [the police] arrive to drag off a neighbour. We are torn between going to help them and hiding behind our doors. We hide behind our doors. We are ashamed. We are frightened." Meanwhile, the United States yesterday threatened unspecified new sanctions against Burma and called for an investigation into the death of Win Shwe. At the weekend, the Myanmarese Government said it has released more than half of the 2,171 people arrested, but exile groups estimate the number of detentions between 6,000 and 10,000. In Rangoon, people say they are more frightened now than when soldiers were shooting on the streets.

Note: I don't know what ANI stands for --

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Singapore arrests 4 opposition members at Burma rally --

Make something the wind can blow out any time --

Artist Andy Goldsworthy --

from Rivers and Tides --

Aung Kyaw Htet's paintings of monks --

In the last decade, paintings of monks seen from the back, painted by master Burmese painter Min Wae Aung, have been all the rage. Min Wae Aung is one of the most successful artistically and commercially of a dozen or so modern Burmese painters.

His work spawned a whole coterie of imitators, some good, some bad. I am including Aung Kyaw Htet's paintings here because I feel he has a particular artistic and humanistic sensitivity of his own. Here he transcends his role of "copyist." In fact, of course, he is not "copying," he is painting the same subject matter but in his own distinctive way.

It is ironic and sad now that news pictures of monks from the back, so they can't be identified by the Burmese military intelligence, have begun to "ape" paintings of monks from the back.

On Aung Kyaw Htet's website, I would like you to note especially the monks in white. Thai novices wear white, as do Thai nuns.

And I believe Aung Kyaw Htet was depicting monks in white to also appeal to a Thai audience and for purposes of conveying mood in color.

Everyone, please note the Burmese artists were painting monks long before the monks demonstrated en mass last month. It was before then a safe subject and the monasteries were safe places. But this is no longer true.

For the superstitious military and other persons, I'd like to say -- white has traditionally been the color of mourning for Thai and Burmese royalty. Everyone knows the present Burmese junta leaders like to see themselves as royalty. So when the senior general's daughter dressed herself in white last year at her wedding, according to "Burmese military logic" she was 1. being westernized, 2. in mourning, for an event yet to be?

Copyright KMK 10-9-2007

Monday, October 08, 2007

Photojournalist Kenji Nagai, killed

in Burmese military junta's on going crackdown on the monks and civilians peacefully demonstrating in Rangoon, has been laid to rest.

For Mr. Nagai's family and the families of hundreds of Burmese killed in recent days -- we extend our Condolences.

The world has to see to it that no one died in vain --

Watch also BBC World's on going coverage of Burma which begins today.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

My favorite version of Ave Maria --

in English, sung by (the late) Burl Ives --

Lyrics, I only found out 5 mins. ago, based on

Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake --

"Safe may we sleep within thy care
Though banished, outcast and reviled
Oh Maiden hear my humble prayer
Oh Mother, hear a suppliant child --"

Something I am sure all exiles can relate to --

Schubert's Ave Maria

Sung by the late Luciano Pavarotti, conducted by Zubin Mehta.

I offer this in prayer for the people who died last week in Burma and are continuing to die for Freedom.

Nessun Dorma or None Shall Sleep --

The late Luciano Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma or None Shall Sleep from Giacamo Puccini's opera Turandot.

What a genius can do with only 3 minutes.

Rest, Roses --

The Last Rose of Summer -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

I took this photograph in DeKalb IL. in the Fall of 2004. During a tea break in the late afternoon, while I was attending the Burma Studies Conference, I took my camera and went for a walk, and was taken by this lone rose left alone in the bare bed, and the way the evening light fell on it.

The Burma Studies Center of Northern Illinois University is based in DeKalb, IL. You can take a taxi or limo from Chicago's O'Hare Airport to get there. I have stories from the limo ride, but they belong in fiction.

"Rest, rest is not a word of free peoples

Rest is a monarchical word."

Carl Sandburg

The Burmese military junta now admits that it still has 1000 people (Monks) under arrest.

Previously, it said only 10 people died -- but then Rangoon residents said they saw 35 corpses piled up there, eight in another place.

The dead are now estimated at 200.

To move away from all this -- for just a moment, I typed in "antique roses" into Google, which brought up rose grower David Austin's site, where I saw a China Rose, which has been identified as the The Last Rose of Summer of Thomas Moore's poem --

Here is the rendition of the song which I like best --

Two hundred monks who escaped the clampdown in Burma by making their way through many hazards to Thailand, vow they will return as change can only be effected from inside, they said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Burma, but for now, "rest" if you can --

Kyi May Kaung

Angelina Jolie to adopt child from Burma -- Sept 24

Today Oct 6th -- Global Day of Action Against Human Rights Abuses in Burma

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Free Burma!

Free Burma!

Free Burma!

In solidarity with the people of Burma.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I was interviewed by BBC (World) HardTalk program --

In a HardTalk programme first broadcast on Tuesday 3rd October 2007, Stephen Sackur talks to Derek Tonkin and Dr Kyi May Kaung.
The protestors in Burma have grown impatient with the international community to do anything much about the military junta that cruelly suppressed the recent demonstrations.
It's feared many have been detained, beaten or killed.
What are the chances of success of the UN's special envoy's mission to Burma with China, India and Russia blocking a tougher stand?
Dr Kyi May Kaung is a representative of the Burmese government in exile and Derek Tonkin is a former senior British diplomat.
HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 03:30h GMT (not Asia), 08:30h GMT, 14:30h GMT, 20:30h GMT, 23:30h GMT (not Asia)
It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 0430 and 2330.
Click here to watch the interview
http://news. 2/hi/programmes/ hardtalk/ 7026645.stm

Others and I interviewed by KALW San Francisco

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Beatings in Burma --

This morning and afternoon, I was interviewed by BBC's Hard Talk program (look on BBC World site tomorrow for link)

and VOA Chinese language section on Burma and China etc and Sanctions.

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--