Thursday, November 29, 2007

I will talk about Burma at Woman's National Democratic Club on Jan 24th, 2008 at 1 PM.

Guests -- $30.00 each --

This is a beautiful and historic building a block from Dupont Circle --

very appropriate that I will be speaking there, partly about the role of women in Burmese politics.

Kyi May Kaung

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Posting a picture for practice --

Philadelphia City Hall fountain colored pink for women's breast cancer day -- Ladies, self examine and get annual mammograms. Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

From Newsweek: In Burma, Big Brother Continues to Watch, Eyelids Propped Up!

Burma junta reneges on promise to stop arrests --

According to Amnesty International, approximately 1900 remain under arrest --

Pakistan's Gen. Musharraf sheds his uniform --

but his replacement is "in the same mold."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Burma News Items:

Last of remains of Russian Royals found --

New York Times: New York Manhole Covers Forged Barefoot in India.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beowulf translation by Frances B. Grummere -- Harvard Classics -- copyright expired.

I have not yet read Seamus Heaney's 1999 translation, but to me (though I don't read Old English)
this translation best captures the alliteration in each line, connecting two parts of each sentence, that is a feature of the original 11th century poem about 6th century events, of which only one manuscript survives, with two 18th century transcripts.

In 2000, Seamus Heaney's translation was included in a Norton Anthology of English Literature.

Like magical realism, the epic poem Beowulf combines real and imagined characters and events. There is a burial mound in Sweden dating to the same period that has been identified as Beowulf's. See -- Wikipedia.

Kyi May Kaung

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Pay me for my Content" by Jaron Laner

Tired of being expected as a writer and artist to "live on stones."

Friend of Burma, Myanmar Critic, Former Thai PM Surin Pitsuwan to be new chair of ASEAN

Yeah, Surin!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

UN Special Envoy Gambari no longer allowed to address ASEAN

Monks demonstrating in Rangoon on September 25th, 2007. Photo

and in Burma, arrests of ethnic leaders continues and novices (don la ba yahan) not allowed to enter sangha at this time.

Monks also not allowed into Rangoon without special permits.

Amnesty International very concerned about Burmese monk U Gambira and others.

Portrait of Human Rights Activist -- oil on canvas -- copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Arresting family members as hostages is totally unacceptable.

U Gambira, Su Su Nway and others were only excercising their God-given right to express themselves freely and peacefully.

Infamous Khmer Rouge Duch brought to trial in Pnom Penh.

See Francois Bizot's Memoir, The Gate.

Duch pronounced "Doik." See also First They Killed My Father, and Dith Pran and Haing S. Ngor's memoirs.

EU tightens sanctions on Burma --

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor and Nobel Laureate -- sometimes it is not an "internal matter."


- Elie Wiesel from his Nobel acceptance speech.

This quote comes from poet E. Ethelbert Miller's site. Thanks Ethelbert.

If this quote does not apply to Burma, nothing does. Let us try and keep the focus on Burma and other countries like it, other cases like it.

We can't get "compassion fatigue" when there is so much abuse. I met Weisel once in Williamsburg when he came to speak at an event to which Fulbright scholars were invited. It was 1988. March. The earth shaking events in Burma had started. But my colleague and I were still gripped by fear, and we tried to avoid the reporters.

It's amazing how far I have come, if only in losing my fear of the mike and what the Burmese junta might do. I am still afraid, of course, but I still say what I have to.

Peter, Paul and Mary sang "Pop the Magic Dragon" and we met a monk from Sri Lanka and Nelson Mandela's daughter at that Williamsburg event.

Kyi May Kaung

Scary "Burma Reed" an environmental hazard in Florida.

Whoever named it should call it "Myanmar Reed."

Burmese junta arrests monks' leader U Gambira.

Burmese thugs resume bad-mouthing Suu Kyi in Mon State.

Cartoon from Web, caption: "Who will really save Burma?" Junta and Burmese army always says it will do that.
News from INWA, a Mon dissident site: "Union Solidarity and Development Association" (USDA) another Orwellian acronym if ever there was one, the Burmese brown shirts organization, started saying again in Mon State (and elsewhere inside Burma), that they are the true saviors of Burma, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi "has never done anything for Burma."

But we all know who or what will really save Burma.

Democracy, Daw Suu, Openess and Transparency.

The right of the people to decide their own destiny.

Quote of the Day: Zaw Oo (Economist) "the army can't shoot and kill the rising prices."

Monk shields his eyes from tear gas as crackdown starts. Copyright Citizen Journalist, Sept 25, 2007. It turned out motor cycle was burned by junta instigators to "prove lawlessness." Anarchy and chaos are bogey men for the junta, and it has been using this method to justify crackdowns since it came into power after a coup in 1962.

See special "Brown Panel" on the Saffron Revolution, chaired by Prof. Sergio Pinheiro, on Oct 22, 2007 at Brown University.

Second quote from the same day: Andrew Lim, co-founder, Brown Chapter of the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

" I can understand pessimism (regarding Burma), but this is not the time to be pessimistic."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Writing with the hand and erasing with the foot --

Monk with flag, Burma, Sept. 2007. Photo by Citizen Journalist. I don't know if this is U Gambira or not. It has already been widely circulated in Cyberspace.

The Burmese junta arrested two prominant dissidents, the monks' leader U Gambira and labor activist Su Su Nway and others on the 3rd day of UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur Pinheiro's 5 day visit.

How's that for sincerity?

Pinheiro was able to see Su Su Nway in Insein Prison, but U Gambira has been charged with treason, for which the sentence is death or life imprisonment.

They need to be released.

Please write to Burmese embassies wherever you are.

3 Reasons to get vaccinated for flu --

1. Prevents death. Each year 20,000 people in the US die due to flu, most are over 65.

2. Prevents severe illness. The flu puts about 114,000 in hospital each year in the US. Children younger than 2 are likely to be hospitalised, as are those over 65.

3. Protects others.

Center for Disease Control.

If you are in Burma, I don't know if you can get a flu shot.

In Burma, AIDS is being spread by using the same needle for everyone, especially in prisons! At home or with a doctor, make sure needles are boiled each time.

In 2001, a Burmese medical doctor called me to add into my interview of her that AIDS was being spread by monks' (head) shaving blades (thindone dah). I rushed to add it to my taped interview before it was broadcast, but the editor!!!! and the management did not allow me to make the addition!

Oil Prices Hit US Military too --

will hit a Less (or Least) Developed Country like Burma even more.

Rambo on Mission to Burma -- USA Today

Stallone recently gave an interview to Entertainment Tonight (ET), in which he discussed things he saw and heard during filming on location, along the Thai-Burma Border.

Go see the film and become more interested in Burma.

"Be the change you want to be." Gandhi.

"Four Steps Backward, Two Steps Forward . . . The Junta Jive." Andrew Harding, BBC.

Women watch the September demonstrations from behind a gate -- photo copyright Citizen Journalist, Burma.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UN Security Council media stakeouts (press conferences) on briefing by Ibrihim Gambari of his most recent trip to Burma.

Note: Much more finely calibrated approach on part of UN and international community.

Listen especially to Gambari's press conference, and those of 2 US Embassadors to UN, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad and his deputy.

I am planning regular updates on Burma on this blog and in articles I write and appearances.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Human Rights or rather the lack thereof, in Burma.

What is a UN Special Rapporteur?

Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights for Burma.

They are also sometimes called Independent Experts. They report to no government and are not paid, but receive logistical support from the UN

See --

Pinheiro's Report of Oct2, 2007 to UN Human Rights Commission -- special session on Burma.

Special UN Human Rights Rapporteur for Burma: Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro

Burma Post-Clampdown: What Should Be Done? by Kyi May Kaung in The American Prospect.

Found collage on a page of my dissertation, copyright Kyi May Kaung.

In The American Prospect (TAP) on line:

Web issue of TAP is read by one million unique readers a day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Recovering Politician" Al Gore going into venture capital and clean energy of the future.

Abstract of something industrial laid sideways, "Industrial" Photograph copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Joke I read:

Why did Al Gore win the Nobel Peace Prize and not the monks of Burma?

Ans. Al Gore lobbied more for it.

--- Hint, Hint -- Nobel Committee, think of the Burmese Monks!

Hmm -- U.N. Human Rights Investigator's visit to Burma also does not seem to be shaping up well.

Shwedagone Pagoda (where most of the monks went to pray before demonstrating) seen through a glass murkily -- pastel drawing and photograph copyright Kyi May Kaung.

There is some descrepancy between the write-up in English and the detailed original reporting by Thar Nyunt Oo in Burmese. I think it is due to the English write-up being a summary, so many salients facts have been glossed over and generalized.
If you understand Burmese, make sure you listen to the Burmese sound bites! Or get someone who does to do so and summarize/translate for you.

The English version just says Pinhiero went to Bago (spelled Pegu, when Burma was still officially called Burma). It is about 40 miles from Rangoon, where most of the demonstrations took place. I doubt many foreigners will know where Bago or Pegu is. I saw an international TV newscast recently where "Rangoon" was shown at the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent. I know Americans and maybe most Westerners are very insular and not international, and the National Geographic famously conducted a survey once which showed Americans general ignorance of world geography. But this was ridiculous.

Thar Nyunt Oo's report points out through several interviews that if Pinhiero is just"escorted" around to the places his military regime guides take him, his trip won't be much use.

The Kya Hkat Waing monastery's head abbot in Pegu, whom Pinhiero was taken to see by the junta authorities, is the notorious one who "complained" to authorities on Sept 24th, that a glass window in his monastery was broken because 2 monks threw empty water bottles into his garden! I suppose that was a government set up to illustrate the demonstrators were "violent."

The Mah Soe Yein Sayadaw ("Not to Fret" Abbot) in exile that Thar Nyunt Oo talked to said, (if Pinhiero goes there, to Kya Khat Waing) "he will only get the point of view of a pro-junta monk."

Ko Bo Kyi of AAPPB (Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners Burma) said that he had met Pinhiero in person and had full confidence in Pinhiero himself "as he has his own experiences with an authoritarian government" but "it won't be much use if he can't go where he wishes, like Gambari." Bo Kyi said that he had already given the detailed statistics he had collected to Mr. Pinhiero as an official report.

Another interviewee said that Pinhiero for sure needs to see Min Ko Naing and other 1988 leaders still under detention, and go to the monasteries that were raided and sacked.

I want to stress here I am only giving an impressionistic summary. If you need a exact verbatim translation it would be best to approach VOA or have someone do it independently.

The English version gives a rather positive impression of Pinhiero's trip while the original reporting in Burmese by Thar Nyunt Oo does not.

Commentary here copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chinese writer Lu Jiamin wins Asian Booker Prize for Wolf Totem

Lu, writing under a pseudonym, lived 11 years in Mongolia herding sheep and wrote this part memoir, part allegory, part environmental novel over 6 years after 30 years of thinking about it.

Amazing and wonderful.

I hope champion translator Prof. Howard Goldblatt will translate it and we will be able to read it in English soon.

Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary arrested and taken to Tribunal

I went to a poetry reading today, where I bought a poetry book, Where are the love poems for dictators? by E. Ethelbert Miller.

In 1983, Ethelbert wrote:

"when the generals invite you home
do not salute them
when they ask you to forgive them
do not forgive them."

Copyright E. Ethelbert Miller.

In the Introduction, John Cavanagh, Director, Institute of Policy Studies, relates how Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit were killed by a car bomb, (in view of the Chilean Embassy), in 1976, in Washington DC when they were on their way to work at IPS.

In Burma, in 1976, I read about the bomb.

It was only in 1998, that Jeremy Woodrum, of U.S. Campaign for Burma, in an interview I did of him at Sheridan Circle, showed me the small memorial, that looks like a tree stump, at the Circle.

John Cavanagh relates how Pinochet's arrest in London in 1998, led to the verb "Pinocheted."

It's amazing it took so long to get Ieng Sary pinocheted.

I have met variously, several Cambodian survivors and the human rights lawyer who worked on the Yale Genocide Project.

Angelina Jolie as a Hollywood Beowulf's mother --

So that is what the ads on the metro are about.

For me, the late John Gardner's Grendel is still the best.

I don't know why this obviously learned book editor did not mention Gardner's work at all.

Singapore 2nd largest arms supplier to Burma --

Burma -- "Words have escaped" -- John Pilger.

Ceramic plate decorated with some Burmese alphabets -- art work and photograph copyright Kyi May Kaung.

"The young monks are quiet in their cells, or they are dead. But words have escaped." John Pilger.

Definitely the most beautiful and thoughtful piece written so far about Burma.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Old piece from NPR 2005 -- flailing a dead horse --

" Five Thousand Kyat note" with Aung San Suu Kyi's image. Copyright Burmese Dissidents.

I really don't see how Aung San Suu Kyi could have "worked for economic development in Burma" when she was under house arrest most of the time. She was never economics minister in Burma! She has not been part of a government in power yet. She never was in a position to make decisions on a national scale that could effect the economy. For instance, she did not nationalize all industries in 1962, she does not set the purchase price of rice (paddy), decide how much and what to export, set the exchange rate of the kyat, decide how much the military government will spend, etc etc. It is the military government which does these things.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the beleagured leader of an opposition party that has been sorely oppressed, for goodness sakes. Quit trying to blame everything on the poor woman who has already given enough already.

I did not realize till now how poor the economic understanding of some individuals is, and that includes some people in the media.

To the charge that anti-sanctions does not mean pro-junta, I say --

1. Who initiates moves continuously that sanctions be lifted? We have reason to believe it is the junta.

To my mind, the economic argument and political debate regarding sanctions is already cut and dried.

2. Who will benefit most if they are lifted? The junta.

As recently as six days ago, U.N. Special Envoy Ibrihim Gambari was subjected to a tongue lashing by the Burmese information minister Kyaw Hsan that he had not been able to help lift sanctions after his first visit after the Sept 26-27th -- clampdown, but instead sanctions had been amped up. The junta does not seem to realize that the U.N. and the national governments who impose sanctions are different entities.

The junta did not produce real economic development and they are the government in charge of a command economy that they themselves put in place and "operate" on a daily basis with cock eyed commands and decisions.

The best response is a "visual aid" produced by Burmese dissidents showing a "new currency" with Aung San Suu Kyi's portrait on it.

Text commentary copyright Kyi May Kaung

Interview of Elaine Kessler of Educate the Girls (of Uganda) by Kyi May Kaung in Panamowa


Aung San Suu Kyi may be released soon, NLD Spokesperson says.

"Glowing Woman" -- painting and photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Dominic Faulder, who has reported on Burma since at least 1988, says,
the Burmese junta is not known for keeping its promises, but "one day, once, the pessimists will be wrong."

We continue to hope so, while doing all we can to push things along.

Writer/activist/journalist Norman Mailer dies at 84.

He was also an anti-feminist and stabbed one of his wives.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Australian Idol star is grandchild of 1962 Burmese emigres

Quote of the Day: From famous Burmese comedian, just released.

original source --

"I was released at 4 PM but only got home at 9 PM, as I had to sign about 15 things. But none of them was a pledge."

Par Par Lay.

Long live comedians and other artists of all stripes in our poor beleagured country!


Burmese survivor testimonies post-clampdown --from Bangkok Channel 4 News

Part of a human brain lying in a Rangoon drain, photo copyright Citizen Journalist, Rangoon. The caption says it was due to a beating with iron rods, but U Bo Kyi in piece below says it was splattered out due to the young man being shot by soldiers in the forehead. This photograph has been circulating on the Internet since the clampdown of Sept 26th and 27th, but I am only posting it now because it illustrates what U Bo Kyi is talking about in the Channel 4 piece below.

From Bkk Channel 4 News:

The three people interviewed are:

1. U Panchar, a Sikh businessman and activist, now in hiding. This shows it was not just a demonstration comprised of Buddhists, but also of people of other religions.

2. Ashin U Kovida (pronounced "Kaw -- wi - da" ) a Buddhist monk who also led the demonstrations.

3. U Bo Kyi of the AAPPB (Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, Burma.)

I am posting a copy of the photograph of a piece of human brain lying in a drain. (This is what the people in the Channel 4 piece are lined up looking at at the end part of the piece.)

Even some overseas based activists/academics deny this is real, but it is.

Earlier I showed the picture to 2 different people who have MD degrees and they confirmed it is the brain of a young person.

We need the international community to keep paying attention and pressuring and for UN Special Envoy Mr. Gambari to keep on with his mission. We need international monitors of human rights abuses to be in Burma on an on-going basis.

Text copyright Kyi May Kaung

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pakistan Crisis -- "Musharraf went ballistic"

How USA has no good options and Musharraf's regime is also caught in a bind.

The U.S. Senate Hearing on Burma of Oct.2, 2007 by Kyi May Kaung

US Campaign for Burma's Ko Aung Din testifies before Barbara Boxer at the Senate Hearing on Oct. 2. Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.
(This piece was written in mid-October)

As we all know, or should by now, there were cathartic mass demonstrations in Burma this monsoon season, first led by a few activists in mid-August protesting fuel price raises and culminating in the monks coming out in the streets accompanied by applauding civilians, numbering 100,000 on the peak day of September 25th. Alas,the military junta which rules Burma knew no other way to “handle” the Burmese peoples’ legitimate and peaceful demands for a system change and clamped down again with brutal force on the 26th and 27th. We now know that an estimated 200 died and thousands are under arrest. Disturbing photos and videos of the atrocities committed by the army have leaked out via the Internet and according to all reports, continue, with only a surface calm. The junta’s response caused mass international outrage.
There have been Senate and well as Congressional Hearings. I was so fortunate as to be able to attend the special Senate Foreign Relations Sub-committee Hearing on Burma in the Dirksen Building at 2.30 PM, on October 2nd.
The Hearing was attended by over 60 Burmese dissidents and democracy supporters. The DC based U.S. Coalition for Burma was well represented and almost all attendees wore USCB T-shirts calling on the front of the shirts for an arms embargo on Burma and with a sign on the back symbolizing how bloody the upcoming Beijing Olympics will seem. Burma (called Myanmar by the junta) has the largest trade ties with Thailand, China and India, and China and Russia supply it with arms. USCB and others are pressuring China to effect change in Burma.
Barbara Boxer opened the session by stating what unimaginable horrors the people of Burma have suffered. She held up photographs taken by citizen journalists inside Burma which had been printed in a large format by USCB staff. Senator John Kerry made a very strong statement, saying – “Shame on us if we take our eyes off this. Words must transfer into action. This is a bi-partisan matter.” He quoted Martin Luther King who said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given. It must be demanded by the oppressed.” Kerry said that it is time for Sr. General Than Shwe to step aside. Kerry said he had worked with Senator Mitch McConnell on Burma and there has now been years and years of oppression with the junta laying on excuses. He spoke of “their deceptions and their lies.”
Senator John Kerry: Now with this Saffron Revolution (referring to the saffron colored robes worn by the Buddhist monks), this is the second time in 20 years that this has happened and it has taken a human toll. In 1988, everyone spoke up, and then everyone lost focus. This time it is going to take a strategy or policy which has focus and applies on-going pressure.
Kerry said the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy on Burma, Mr. Ibriham Gambari had gone to Burma for a few days, and “left Burma without any sense of tangible process.” Kerry said the sanctions need to be multilateral. He mentioned that “four of us met with the Chinese ambassador on this issue. The generals in a bunker (their new capital Naypyidaw) in a bunker of a country are surviving because of China. The killing has to stop.”
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the primary voice for reform in Burma. She said the Burmese junta “has effectively minimized the effect of sanctions by playing investors off against each other. Many of the largest investors are unwilling to go beyond words. It is a difficult balancing act for Burma’s neighbors. It is our job to get a balance of sanctions and engagement.” She mentioned the role of China and India as major trading partners of Burma, and said that one third of Thailand’s natural gas supply comes from Burma.
Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), two well-known supporters of the democracy movement in Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi, then presented their individual statements. McConnell said that unilateral sanctions have almost never worked in Burma as China, India and Thailand have adapted to the permanent condition in Burma. He said no one is interested in applying real pressure, as it would be bad for business. He commented, “The ambivalence of India is surprising. The Europeans are somewhat better. The Burmese regime is a pariah regime like Iraq (was) and Iran is. The sanctions will only have bite if China, India and Thailand co-operate. We should all continue to pressure to bring this regime to its knees.”
Diane Feinstein related her long involvement, over ten years, with the Burmese democracy movement. In 1997 she co-authored legislation requiring the President to ban new investment in Burma. President Clinton signed the order in 1997 and it remains on the books today. In 2003, after the regime attempted to assassinate Daw Suu Kyi in the incident now known as the Depayin Massacre of May 30, 2003, McConnell and Feinstein introduced the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which placed a complete ban on imports from Burma. It was signed into law and renewed one year at a time for the last 4 years. Feinstein stressed that for these sanctions to work, all nations need to join the United States. She encouraged China to persuade Burma to stop the killing and free all political prisoners and sent a message to the people of Burma – “We are watching – and we will not give up our shared vision of a free and democratic Burma.”
Among the witnesses, Scott Marciel, Deputy Asst. Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State, said that the Burmese military has insinuated itself into every fiber of the country. Senator Boxer spoke of the large loophole whereby Chevron was “grandfathered in” by the 1997 law, and doing a business worth 400-600m USD annually, “is the biggest revenue raiser used to fund the crackdown.” Boxer asked Mr. Marciel what other options might be available under the Patriot Act (to pressure Burma). Kerry said he heard “a slow walk diplomacy in an urgent situation” and asked what the State Department is doing as leverage.
The second witness, Micheal Green, former National Security Council Asia Director, worried about the international community falling back into complacency, spoke of the need for an arms embargo and to organize diplomacy better with a special envoy to talk to China, India and Thailand.
Aung Din, Co-founder of the USCB and a 1988 veteran, updated on how on September 25th alone, a hundred dead bodies were counted at the Rangoon General Hospital. The official count from the junta was 10 dead, including the Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai who was shot point blank and died as a citizen journalist was filming. Aung Din described soldiers searching house to house with photos in hand and the monks under arrest in shackles and on hunger strike.
Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, who used to be an aid to the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an early advocate for change in Burma, said that the junta’s going after the monks crosses a line and they will rue the day. He argued for more focused sanctions but declined to go into details in a public setting. Aung Din added that “the Burmese people are sick of UN envoys. The junta knows how to trick and trip these envoys. He (Mr. Razali, the former UN Envoy) comes back saying he saw a light at the end of the tunnel but it is a fire.” In response to questions, Aung Din also replied that there is no real mutiny among the Burmese army, as some analysts have suggested. He complained about Ban Ki-moon’s “bad use of language” during the height of the clampdown, when Mr. Ban urged all sides to avoid provocating. “We are the people beat upon, and we are to avoid provocation?” Aung Din asked.

Update: Events since the Senate Hearing.
Mr. Ibriham Gambari is again in Asia, but the U.S. is urging him to go to Burma again as soon as possible. Even as Mr. Gambari was in Burma, the junta was busy arresting people, and arrests are continuing. At least one dissident has died of torture in prison. The international community seems again to have settled into complacency. The Burmese junta’s air force chief was in Russia allegedly buying drones and other aircraft. In a Congressional Hearing, the head of the Voice of America Burmese Service, Than Lwin Htun, stressed that “the only way it is normal is that repression continues.” Meanwhile the junta is holding mass rallies in support of its own policies, which the population is forced to attend, and appears so confident as to hold a state funeral for its number four man PM Soe Win, who died of leukemia.


UN Envoy for Burma, Mr. Gambari not smiling --

1. Meetings are in new capital Naypyidaw up country, not in Rangoon.

2. Not meeting Sr. Gen. Than Shwe -- meeting PM who is holding something like a VP position.

3. Junta already said it will expell Charles Petrie, UN Development Program Resident Representative (ResRep) from Rangoon.

4. Mr. Gambari said to "not even have a cell phone when he is on his missions in Burma." At present has no office of his own, no permanent staff of his own, no international human rights abuses monitors on the ground in Burma.

5. We need to "push, push, push" as US Charge d'Affaires Shari Villarosa said during the crisis. The USA is doing that, but there is also of course the Iraq War, Iran issue and now Pakistan "on the plate."

Commentary points, copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Latest Burmese Refugees in Thailand Still not Safe --

Being allowed to live in refugee camps along the border is also not much.

Many have been stuck there for over a decade already.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oprah is handling the abuse scandal at her school in South Africa very well.


This is much much better than the way some scandals are handled -- or rather not handled by many organizations.

Things she is doing right:

1. Immediate action.

2. Looking into the problem herself.

3. Appointing an independent inquiry commission.

4. Meeting alleged victims directly.

5. Good follow up.

6. Being true to the original goals.

7. Checking relevant laws and getting legal advice.

In the Burmese case also, I have heard of several cases of abuse of refugees by people purporting to help them. After the tsunami, it was reported that human traffickers went to disaster sites immediately to "recruit victims."

Pay attention everyone.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Literature and Culture of Pakistan -- Women in Rushdie's Shame.

Burma and Nuclear Power,25197,22693077-5013460,00.html

"The interesting thing about the engagement and isolation strategies is that neither has had the slightest effect in moderating the Burmese government's behavior."

Greg Sheridan, Unconventional Wisdom on Burma, in The Australian, Nov. 3, 2007.

In response to the pro-engagement matra "Sanctions don't work" we should counter with "Engagement has not worked either."

Burma-- A Vision and a Strategy -- by Dr Khin Maung Kyi, Ronald Findlay and R.M. Sundrum,M1

I was on the peer review committee of this book by my mentors, which remains highly relevant today.

We are about to launch the Burmese edition.

Some fiction suggestions to prepare for our Pakistan discussion

1. Krushwant Singh, A Train to Pakistan, A Novel.

I have not read this, but it sounds hopeful.

2. Paul Scott, The Raj Quartet.

3. Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children.

4. Salman Rushdie, Shame.

I have read 2, 3 and 4.

The Raj Quartet was made into an excellent Masterpiece Theatre series in early 1980s.

Quote of the Day: Benazir Bhutto, returning from Dubai to visit family

says she had hoped to work towards civilian rule in Pakistan, but didn't know how she could work with Gen. Musharraf's government, as "it is very difficult to work with a dictator."

On Sat. Oct 18, within the first 8 hours after she returned from her long exile, a bomb went off killing over a hundred people as she and her supporters made their way through crowds to the tomb of Pakistan's founder, Jinnah.

By popular request, we are going to talk about current events in Pakistan in my book group, but don't have an exact date yet.

We don't have a Pakistan book yet either -- though I suggested Salman Rushdie's Shame, which features cameo roles of Benazir, her father and her mother and Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which is about the formation of India.

We could also watch the film Gandhi again. It includes unforgetable images of the Partition.

Dr. Kaung's Bookshelf -- First Book Discussion on Friday, Nov. 2., 2007.

A record number of people turned up for my first book discussion in this series. I thought it would be one of my last events in Silver Spring, as so few people had been showing up for author appearances lately. And I was having trouble finding new people to come to Silver Spring and talk on interesting topics, though the folk singers always draw a crowd. So do the dancers.

This book discussion on Udozinma Iweala's book, Beasts of No Nation, was scheduled months ago. Some people who came had read it, and one called it a "tour de force" which it is. As it's a book discussion, not an author appearance, and I had been so busy with the Burma thing, I had not made an attempt to find or invite the author. Maybe I should have, maybe not. Anyway, C. was so kind as to remember the first book discussion I did there about two years ago, on Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red and his other super novel, Snow. And that was scheduled right at the time when Pamuk was undergoing his trial for "insulting Turkishness." Two people from the Turkish Embassy showed up and were very vocal, and hotly denied the Armenian genocide, but I gave the last word to a librarian who had read all of Pamuk's books. That seemed only fair. Pamuk went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature a year later.

This time, C. said "Did you see the article about this guy's father in The Washington Post this morning? A nurse that his father had an affair with extorted money from his father," but has now lost the case.

I don't believe "the sins of others" father, mother etc. have anything to do with the children, and moreover I don't believe even the life of authors has anything much to do with a fictional novel.

So I said, "It will sell more books." L. said, "They are selling well already."

Good, because it's a mighty good book and it draws attention to the problem of child soldiers in Africa and elsewhere. A few days ago Human Rights Watch published another report on child soldiers in Burma.

Iweala's Beasts of No Nation is written in an invented English that is charming and lyrical, all in the present continuous tense. M. said as she was reading the book, she got so absorbed she started talking the same kind of English herself.

That happens to me every time I read a good book, by a writer with a distinctive voice. I don't speak "the new language" aloud but I start to sound like the book I am currently reading when I write or talk to myself in my head, which I think everyone does all the time.

That's why it is so important to read appropriately while writing something. Some read only 16th century literature when writing a novel set in the 16th century.

I hope the Iweala family can put this all behind them, they truly sound very gifted, and that Uzodinma keeps writing.

Something I did not know before, the novel was developed from his Harvard Masters capstone. I did notice he thanked Jamaica Kincaid.

I did not know Kincaid taught at Harvard.

What do the rest of us who aren't in our twenties and not in an MFA program with a mentor willing and able to help us do?

I guess the answer is just keep on writing and sending out work.

A good book is the best revenge.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

UN Envoy Arrives in Rangoon Again but No One So Hopeful

Friday, November 02, 2007

Burma - What Next -- from Dialogues in Civilization

Burma, what next?

They marched for days, braving the wrath of the regime. The Burmese demonstrators caught the attention of the world with their demands for democracy, freedom and dignity. Their weapons were mobile phones, and their leaders Buddhist monks who have reminded the world how religion can sometimes contain a unique energy. Now, however, those sacrifices and those deaths, demand that the lights do not go out on Burma. More than two months after the start of the protests, what has become of the “saffron revolution”? Much lies in the hands of China and India, the two main allies of the military junta. But the West, too, can still play its part.
The opposition has no chance right now, but this is only the beginning” Maureen Aung-Thwin, of the Open Society Institute, interviewed by Daniele Castellani Perelli
I saw them fighting. They have lost a battle, but they haven’t lost the war” Tony Birtley, Al Jazeera journalist, in conversation with Alessandra Cardinale
Religion has been the true force” Father Bernardo Cervellera, editor of, interviewed by Elisabetta Ambrosi
A god-given opportunity for Beijing, by Dave Wang
India has nothing to lose, by Subir Bhaumik BOOKSSuad Amiry: “Irony will free us from the war”.
ResetDoC is a creation of Dialogues on Civilizations with the support of Intesa Sanpaolo e Telecom Progetto Italia

Painting Kim Jung Il's Portrait in Artist's Own Blood --

A brilliant artist with a refined social conscience.

Hollywood Writers' Strike -- Burmese Intellectuals Need Similar Rights

Concerning the Citizen Journalists and Photographers who sent out such important footage during the recent and continuing Burma crisis, we received word that they are either on the run or being harrassed by the junta.

Other Burma bloggers and I are working on trying to find a way to guarantee Copyrights for the photos etc that they risked their lives to get.

I suggested calling this campaign Give Us Our Images Back.

We don't want them to suffer the double, triple or quadruple whammy of being harrassed, imprisoned or killed and also of having their intellectual property stolen.

We are looking for a pro-bono lawyer well versed in Intellectual Property and Human Rights Law.

If you can help us, or know anyone who can, please leave a message on this blog as a comment.

Kyi May Kaung

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--