Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I was just speaking of Sidney Schanberg's biography of Dith Pran, The Death and Life of Dith Pran, and of Haing S. Ngor's autobiography, among other things, at my Bookshelf (Dr. Kaung's Salon) discussions in Silver Spring on Friday.
I am very saddened to hear of Dith Pran's death at this comparatively young age.
I would like to dedicate this talk I gave about Cambodia to the Cambodian survivors and all those 2-3 million who were killed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1978, when Cambodia was liberated from the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces.
My talk went well and was attended by a number of people including three who had been recently to Cambodia.
I will post the book list shortly.
Kyi May Kaung
Friday, March 28, 2008
Note: During Nyepi (Balinese New Year) -- there is no fire (no cooking!) and at night, no light.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
"One of the things we can learn from history is that history is not only a history of things inflicted on us by the powers that be. History is also a history of resistance. It's a history of people who endure tyranny for decades, but who ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator. We've seen this in country after country, surprise after surprise. Rulers who seem to have total control, they suddenly wake up one day, and there are a million people in the streets, and they pack up and leave. This has happened in the Philippines, in Yemen, all over, in Nepal. Million people in the streets, and then the ruler has to get out of the way. So, this is what we're aiming for in this country.
"Everything we do is important. Every little thing we do, every picket line we walk on, every letter we write, every act of civil disobedience we engage in, any recruiter that we talk to, any parent that we talk to, any GI that we talk to, any young person that we talk to, anything we do in class, outside of class, everything we do in the direction of a different world is important, even though at the moment they seem futile, because that's how change comes about. Change comes about when millions of people do little things, which at certain points in history come together, and then something good and something important happens.
Thank you."Howard Zinn
7:10pm to 8:30pm
Dr. Kaung's Book Shelf: All About Cambodia.
Books to be discussed include Francois Bizot's memoir The Gate, First They Killed my Father by Loung Ung, The Killing Fields (the movie), The Death and Life of Dith Pran by Sydney Schanberg, and Dr. Haing S. Ngor's autobiography co-written with Roland Jaffe.
963 Bonifant St. Silver Spring MD
One block from Silver Spring Metro -- free parking on Wayne Av. and Bonifant St.
Within walking distance of many ethnic and other restaurants. Great cappuccino and desserts at Kefa.
Monday, March 24, 2008
serious, thought provoking, fair-minded pieces to allow
me to post their articles on my blog.
Here is one by Elisabeth Null.
FYI -- Lisa, I and a group of friends are working on a
panel discussion to be held at Kefa Cafe, Silver Spring
on this topic.
Watch for the date! KMK
about race and to search for greater common understanding,
I offer these thoughts. Many of my own observation about
black church experience come out of the research and
collecting I did 20 years ago as part of
the Waterbury Ethnic Music Project.
My Jewish partner Charlie has been reading the sermons
of Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, comparing him to
the peace activist Rev.William Sloane Coffin, for whom he
served as a chaplain's assistantat Yale. Charlie finds much
to admire in Wright's words and actions,whatever his shortcomings.
Wright has turned his church, Chicago's Trinity United Church of
Christ, into a leading exponent of "thesocial gospel" and
"black liberation theology." What this means,is that God's kingdom
is best reflected by struggling for justice, compassion,and human
betterment in this world whatever one does in preparation for the next.
The person who developed black liberation theology, basically an
American adaptation of "liberation theology," was James Cone
(http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11232007/profile.html). Cone further
argued that black Americans, long cowed into submission by white owners
and enforcers of white supremacy, need to interpret theology for themselves
and take fuller control of their religious development.
While Wright's sermon was over the top, it is not quite as nutsy as
it sounds. Many people, including me, subscribe to the idea that our
government made an indirect pact, when combating anti-American forces
in Central America, to allow America's inner-cities to be flooded
with crack cocaine. This was chronicled by Gary Webb in the San Jose
Mercury News (1996), and I followed his three-part series of articles
with some interest. When I moved to DC in 1991, the black radio
stations frequently discussed the problem and its international
aspects . Sometimes this agenda was known as "the Plan."
I cannot imagine why Wright bought into the idea of aids as a
conspiracy against blacks, but if our government collaborated in
infecting blacks with syphilis, which it did in the Tuskegee
Experiment (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762136.html) without
telling them, it is not too hard to imagine why even an educated man
might get conspiratorial about this.
I don't mind a bit that Wright damned America, this seems to fall
within the prophetic tradition so important in black (and Puritan!)
church history. As long as it is not taken in vain, it seems a
perfectly reasonable thing to say from time to time. One of my
favorite Nina Simone tunes is "Mississippi God Damn!" To roundly
condemn one's country while working hard to redeem it does not seem
to be an unpatriotic contradiction.
I do not mind Wright's assumption that Clinton cannot understand
certain things because she has not experienced them -- the
biographies I have read about her show that her approach to poverty
issues, even as a girl, was well-meaning but rather like a young Lady
I do feel that in some sense we were partially responsible through
our dreadful foreign policy for what happened during 9/11 -- of
course we didn't deserve it, but NOT to examine more carefully how we
got into this situation was a xenophobic reaction on our part. Hate
is not an answer; it is a symptom.
Any anti-semitic or stereotypically anti-white comments in any of
Wright's sermons are inexcusable and not worthy of defense though, as
Obama says, it is important to explore what lies at the base of hatred.
I confess though, I often have a hard time sitting in many churches
because whenever the Sadducees and Pharisees are taken on in the New
Testament. I wonder if it is a veiled attack against the Jews. As for
Jews, I live comfortably with Charlie who believes Jews are A chosen
people, not The chosen people, but how do I feel among Jews when I
am thought of as a spiritually second-class citizen not even worthy
of "conversion?" Coercive conversion is a human rights violation but,
when I am not even included in the compact because I lack a genetic
pedigree, I also feel humiliated. I know how bitter Charlie's mother
felt at death not to have been educated, as a woman, in the meanings
and traditions of Jewish prayer and torah study. Exclusion hurts. It
is not the same as hatred, but there is sometimes implicit contempt
or condescension there too.
I spent one summer doing field work in black churches for my degree
in folklore at Penn and have to admit that after immersing myself in
the prayer meetings and praise services of black churches, mainline
Christian churches seemed tepid and uninteresting by comparison!
First of all, many of the black churches have great, all-engulfing
Second, there is a lot of attention given to praising and thanking
God as opposed to just asking him for forgiveness or asking for the
things one desires.
Third, the sermons are central and are designed to be a sort of
ritual catharsis -- which is why they address things that are not
expressed elsewhere -- just like the blues. They are interactive.
People get up and testify -- deliver narratives with a positive
outcome about how they were lost, or down, or broken-hearted, or
desperate. The sense of collective understanding and acceptance is
On one level these churches seem very much like white Christian
evangelical churches but differ in subtle ways -- most black
churches, as I have seen them, are more allegorical than
fundamentalist in a literal sense, and there is a typological or
metaphoric sensibility that allows the poetic and the mundane, the
spiritual and the worldly to come together and coexist. Another
lovely thing about the black churches, at least the more charismatic
ones, is an emphasis on healing that, at the very least, fortifies
people with a positive spirit for survival.
If you haven't been to a prayer meeting full of old dying people
swooping you into a shared embrace as they wheel about the room
praising God for one new day of breath in their body, you haven't
lived! That's how powerful the spirit engendered in black churches
The Congregational Church (The United Church of Christ these days),
is heir to the old puritanical churches. It has a special role in
black church history in that it was the spiritual home of many
abolitionists and a place where blacks and whites interacted before
the civil war. It had little presence in the South but did reach out
to establish black colleges such as Howard and Fisk Universities. As
such, it drew many black intellectuals and members of the black
middle class within urban areas. It has an inter-racial
denominational membership and there are white members in Obama's
congregation, but the United Church of Christ is also sufficiently
decentralized for black congregants to bring their own devotional
traditions (several of African origin) into worship. Swooning, big
hats, a frequent emphasis on white dress, charismatic traditions,
call-and-response gospel singing are just a few African-American
religious practices with strong analogues in Africa and elsewhere
within the black diaspora. Other churches within the United Church of
Christ, which was formed when the Congregational, German Evangelical
and Reformed Churches merged in 1957, also maintain their own ethnic
traditions if their individual congregations wish to do so. In many
churches, for instance, Christmas Eve is associated with sausage and
sauerkraut dinners or the singing of "Stille Nacht" in German.
The United Church of Christ's congregations were critical to the
civil rights movement and remain an important node of connection
between black and white communities within the denomination as a
whole. Black and white congregations often work together to continue
a shared heritage of social reform.
Obama must have found this church a natural link to his childhood in
Hawaii as the Punahou School (a prep school he attended on
scholarship), was founded by Congregational missionaries. Joining
Trinity would have allowed him to embrace black culture without
having to divest himself of the familiar.
Why don't blacks go to inter-racial churches more frequently? Until
recently, blacks were not welcome in "white churches" though
initially, during the First Great Awakening, they were contributing
partners in shaping American worship. Even during my childhood,
blacks at the New York Episcopalian church I attended were directed
to other congregations "where they'd feel more comfortable." This is
one reason why I left it after confirmation. Antebellum blacks were
not choosing racial separatism when forming their own congregations
but were responding to circumstances that forced them into their own
spiritual gatherings. Their own religious worship sustained them
through slavery and helped them create the great religious,
oratorical traditions and community-organizing skills instrumental to
the civil rights movement.
When blacks go to inter-racial churches, they generally must abide by
the devotional practices already established by those congregations--
this leaves little space for their own traditions. Sometimes this
forces a rupture: George Augustus Stallings, an African-American
priest in Washington DC, was excommunicated by the Catholic Church
after founding the Imani Temple to practice an Afrocentric version of
Catholicism. While his form of worship differed theologically in
time, the dispute started initially over incompatible styles of
ritual and worship.
Congregational Ministers, white and black, have spoken in defense of
Wright's ministry and its practice of the social gospel. One cannot
fault Obama, married to an African-American woman and raising two
African-American children, for finding an anchor in the church he
discovered and which discovered him as a community organizer. I'm
glad he rejected the racist and hateful language of his pastor; I
hope he did take issue with that pastor's biased ideas face-to-face;
but I completely understand why he did not reject either his church
or the flawed man who nevertheless provided him with so much
(Posted with the author's permission. Opinions and
comments are those of Lisa Null and may or may not
coincide with those of Kyi May Kaung)
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
My short story Beast, based on the Thiha Bahu legend in Burma, won an award at The Northern Virginia Review, published by Northern Virginia Community College, in Annandale, VA.
TNVR also published my painting, Lady Vanda. Copies are available from NVCC Bookstore.
The award ceremony was on Thursday, March 20, 2008.
I also enjoyed the keynote speech, which was about the healthy (and commercial as well as artistic) rivalry between Marlowe and Shakespeare.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Very soon we will have nothing left but blaring purple Thai hybrids.
"Wardii" are those orchid and other species discovered by famous botanist Frank Kingdom (sp?) Ward.
Among his most famous discoveries were the beautiful tree Amhearstia (one used to grow near the Convocation Hall in Rangoon University), a rhododendron from the north and the famous blue poppy Meconopsis.
"For in the end, we will save only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught." Senegal.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Date: 18 Mar 2008 | UNHCR News Stories
PRINCETON, United States, March 18 (UNHCR) – The schedule for the week ahead
runs to five pages, with each day broken down into near hourly tasks
assigned to different volunteers. At the dining room table in a house in
Princeton, New Jersey, the creator of this plan of action runs through each
item with the couple at the centre of the activity.
Za Bik Thang, his wife Par Tha, and their three children arrived in
Princeton in mid-2007 from Malaysia, where they had lived as refugees for
several years after fleeing persecution in their native Myanmar. Tom Charles
and other members of the Nassau Presbyterian Church were on hand to meet the
family when they arrived in the United States and have been providing
support ever since.
"We were a little scared of coming to the US," recalls Za Bik from the
family's rented home, which was arranged for them by the Nassau
congregation. A pending move to an apartment in an affordable housing
complex closer to downtown will reduce the couple's commute to their jobs.
For now, Charles continues in his role as traffic controller, ensuring the
smooth movement of the five Thang family members to and from school, work,
English lessons, choir practice, dental appointments, chess club meetings
and church services.
"We have around one hundred volunteers from our church working in refugee
resettlement," says Charles. "A core group of between 15 and 20 are involved
in the day-to-day assistance, so the errands are spread around. Morning pick
ups to get Za Bik to work are done by the early risers, while getting the
kids home from school is done by people who have the afternoons free."
The Thangs are the eighth family the Nassau congregation has sponsored as
part of a programme that goes back nearly 25 years. Among those assisting
the family are individuals who a few years ago were on the receiving end of
the community's efforts. Dental care is provided by a former refugee from
Bosnia; the pool of drivers includes a Somalian refugee who arrived in
Princeton several years ago.
The church is one of many religious groups in the north-eastern state of New
Jersey involved in refugee resettlement. Referrals come from agencies such
as Lutheran Social Ministries, based in the New Jersey capital, Trenton.
The director of its immigration and refugee programme, Rev. Stacy Martin,
says voluntary groups can provide a level of attention which surpasses what
agencies dealing with hundreds of cases a year can offer. "The sponsors and
the refugee families can create genuine relationships that go well beyond
the 12 to 18 months we would typically be in contact with a family," she
Resettlement in the United States is largely handled by faith-based
organizations, which turn to their communities for volunteers when
additional assistance is needed. According to a US Department of Labour
survey published in 2007, more than one quarter of the population – around
60 million people – had volunteered for an organization in the previous 12
"Volunteers offer a distinctly personal touch that builds on the support
offered by local resettlement affiliates," says Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr.,
president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a national
Even with assistance, establishing new lives in a foreign country is not
without challenges. Unable to speak English, the Thang children initially
found the classroom a frightening and lonely place. Everyday costs such as
rent, groceries and visits to the doctor can seem overwhelming. Here, too,
the Nassau congregation has stepped in, helping Za Bik to land a job at a
supermarket chain while Par Tha does alterations at an exclusive menswear
The couple have also been given financial planning advice. "When we first
arrived we couldn't do anything for ourselves. Today we can live our lives,
though we still rely on rides," says Za Bik, who has begun the process of
getting a driver's licence.
For the Nassau congregation a commitment that began nearly 12 months ago is
nearing its end, and it is apparent that not just the Thangs have
benefitted. For Charles, working with resettled refugees "has been one of
the great joys of my life." Former strangers are now friends, foreign
cultures are understood and accepted and the often abstract concept of
helping those less fortunate has taken the tangible form of an embrace.
By Tim Irwin
in Princeton, United States
Bangkok Post - Wednesday March 19, 2008
Burma policy needs rethink
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's remarks last Sunday on his weekly television talk show were ill-considered, even for one who has made it something of a trademark to leave his listeners scratching their heads.
In justifying expanding economic ties with Burma, Mr Samak dismissed that country's horrible record on human rights by saying: "Burma is a Buddhist country. Burma's leaders meditate. They say the country lives in peace." Coming just six months after the ruling junta ordered the brutal suppression of peacefully protesting Buddhist monks and their followers, Mr Samak's statement is an affront not only to Buddhists but to all people of conscience.
The remarks came after a courtesy visit last Friday by Mr Samak to top Burmese generals including Senior General Than Shwe in Naypidaw, the new Burmese administrative capital, in which several development projects were discussed.
Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said on Saturday that Thailand will push ahead with construction of the Tasang hydropower dam on the Salween River in Burma's Shan State, about 130km from the Thai-Burmese border. According to Salween Watch, the reservoir will flood hundreds of square kilometres of land. Also discussed were the Tavoy deep-sea port on Burma's Andaman coast to open trade and investment links with western Thailand.
While Mr Samak's words on the talk show may not have been well thought out, clearly that is not the case with this government's policy on Burma, which is pretty much a resumption of the one under deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, although Mr Thaksin at least had the good sense to keep it very low profile. The new out-in-the-open relationship will put the country squarely at odds with the European Union and United States, two of Thailand's most important strategic and trading partners. Japan also has begun to take a tougher stance on Burma since the September crackdown, which left a 50-year-old Japanese journalist dead.
Meanwhile, the International Labour Organisation office in Burma has reported an upsurge in the military conscription of children, some as young as 10 years old. It can be argued that constructive engagement would be more productive than a total blacklisting of Burma. Yet there is no indication that any concessions to human rights or democracy were sought by Mr Samak, or that the junta would honour such concessions if they were given.
With the mission of the UN special envoy to Burma having ended in failure, the international community is wondering what can be done to pressure the junta to pay more heed to the plight of its own citizens. One possibility would be a high-profile visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The generals have shown they are sensitive to international pressure if the spotlight is bright enough.
In that regard, human rights activists are of the view that rather than boycott the Beijing Games, it would be better to turn the Olympic Village into a globally televised free speech zone on issues like Tibet, Darfur and Burma. Mr Samak's comments may have earned Thailand a centre-stage position at that very dramatic venue.
http://www.bangkokp ost.com/News/ 19Mar2008_ news21.php
Bangkok Post - Wednesday March 19, 2008
Surin advises Samak on Burma attitude
Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan has advised Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to be prudent before commenting on issues involving Burma. Mr Surin stressed the need to approach the political situation in Burma with an in-depth understanding and respect for its sensitivity.
The government should gauge its readiness to explain Burma to the world, he said.
His comments followed Mr Samak's offer on his Sunday television programme to mediate with the international community.
Mr Samak said Westerners are overly critical of Burma and he has new-found respect for the junta following his visit to the country last Friday.
Mr Surin, who was foreign minister during the Democrat-led coalition government from mid-1997 to 2001, said Asean _ the Association of Southeast Asian Nations _ supports reconciliation in Burma, the role the United Nations is handling until Asean member countries find solutions and the Burmese junta opens itself to Asean's help.
The junta has been condemned by the international community for its crackdown on peaceful street protests against the military regime in September.
In a related development, Burmese police raided an island underneath the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge in Tak's Mae Sot district yesterday and arrested seven suspected Burmese gang members.
Around 100 armed Burmese police and volunteers burned down the shelters and took away the suspects, while Thai authorities were told to stand guard on the Thai side.
Burma moved at the request of Tak governor Chumporn Polarak who said Burmese gangs on the island in the Moei river wielded much influence.
They trafficked speed pills and attacked Thai and foreign tourists at the Thai border market.
A gang of Burmese illegals occupying the island is believed to have been behind the attack on Pol Sgt Ake-kachai Biewnoi. The Thai policeman was shot in the torso on the island on March 3.
http://www.bangkokp ost.com/News/ 19Mar2008_ news11.php
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Letter from Nyunt Than of Burmese American Democratic Association and All to UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon --
Following is a sample letter to UNSG Ban Ki-moon. It is immensely important that UNSG is stepping up to help the people of Burma. Please personalize and send it out to the Secretary-General to voice the grassroots' concerns. Our letter is posted here: www.badasf.org.
An Open Letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
The United Nations
S-3800, United Nations,
New York, N.Y. 10017, USA
March 18, 2008
I would like to acknowledge your efforts to overcome the political stalemate and bring about a speedy political transition to democracy in Burma. The dictatorship is wrong, harmful, and has no place in Burma, and your efforts to reject this regime are appreciated.
You and your predecessors have sent various envoys trips to Burma to address this matter. Unfortunately, however, your efforts have failed to secure even the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, nor to broker truthful and meaningful dialog. Your efforts have also failed to realize any progress towards establishing democracy in Burma.
In recent history, the people of Burma have repeatedly rejected dictatorship through various means, including uprisings and an historic election. In 1988 they rose up, only to be brutally crushed. In 1990, the people overwhelmingly voted for the National League for Democracy and its representatives in Burma's historic Election, but the results were put aside. The people rose up against the brutal regime yet again last year in September and October. As always, the regime responded with ruthless force and brutal crackdowns while the world watched.
The people of Burma have endured so much hardship and suffering in the past 46 years due to successive brutal and dictatorial regimes. Charles Petrie, top UN officer in the Myanmar Country Team, has released very grim data on the plight of the Burmese people on the occasion of UN Day on Oct 24, 2007. In fact, during all these years of UN involvement and visits by the UN envoys, the country has sunken even deeper into poverty. The people continue to suffer greatly and our opposition has been crushed ever more fiercely, while the regime's grip on power has flourished and its officials and their cronies have thrived more than ever.
The world was on edge during the protests and crackdowns in late 2007, hoping the UN would help bring about progress, but now the regime is again strengthening its authority and legalizing military rule through the one-sided and sham process called the Roadmap to Democracy. The historic results of the 1990 election will be erased forever in Burma through this fake referendum to be held in May 2008, and people will be forced to accept a constitution with which they do not agree.
Your envoy's last visit to Burma from March 6 to March 10 has failed yet again. The regime has not only openly denied Aung San Suu Kyi, her party, and her elected representatives any role in the process they are working toward, but it has also clearly rejected any international interference.
Therefore, it is clear that your powerless and low-level envoy's visits to Burma have in effect helped the regime buy time and quell the world's outrage and anger over various crackdowns, while allowing them to elude the international community. Your envoy's meager efforts have allowed the regime to realize their true ambition of holding on to power at any cost.
It has been clear to us for many years, and should be clear to you by now, that there is no more room for low-level and powerless envoy visits to Burma. They will not bring about change, as we have already seen. Any more attempts of such ineffective diplomacy will only waste our precious time, and give more time to the dictatorship to bury its roots even deeper in Burma. The time has come for you and the United Nations Security Council to step up and get tough on the regime. As proven by the already-demonstrate d facts, anything short of powerful diplomacy backed by the measures outlined by the Security Council will be more harmful than helpful to Burma and her people. The Regime does not understand diplomacy; it understands the voice of power. In fulfilling your priority of building a stronger United Nations for a better world, you must make sure Burma issues are resolved in a speedy and peaceful manner. It is time for you to get involved as the General Secretary of the world's body.
Furthermore, the time has arrived for the United Nations Security Council to start taking concrete measures through binding resolution calling for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners; establishing a comprehensive arms embargo; and enforcing strong collective and comprehensive economic and financial sanctions. Only forceful measures will change the regime's attitude and their continued refusal to release their grip on power, through a peaceful and truly democratic process.
Therefore we call upon you to:
- Visit Burma with due respect to help break the political stalemate as the world's most powerful diplomat.
- Start providing leadership in establishing, through binding resolutions, the concrete actions outlined above by the Security Council.
I feel May Sweet and her PR people should put out a notice that this was not true, try and find the source of the rumors and sue them in court.
Maybe "failed asylum seeker" was cue that it's wasn't a real AP news dispatch.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Nita of FBB says this is a neat pun. I think it may be part of a neat metaphor -- anyway --
March 20-23, 2008.
Sponsored by DC Poets Against War, Busboys and Poets, Institute of Policy Studies.
A must for people who think politics and words matter.
The program includes photo exhibits and panels on Burma, as well as many other topics on many other Asian countries.
If you are in the Chicago area, mark this on your calendar.
You will need to copy the link and paste it into a search engine like Google.
Blogspot has not allowed direct opening of links in text for some time now.
THIS IS ENTIRELY DISPUTED: "Myanmar's famous singer and actress May Sweet dead" -- SEE LATER IRRAWADDY NEWS ITEM.Maybe that's why post says "AP?" with a question mark. I did wonder if AP might care about a Burmese singer. Is it a plant by the junta?
See comments. Fishy that in last few weeks we have seen one very real assassination and two fake "deaths," one of Kyemon U Thaung. Where is all this disinfo coming from? I found it on a Burma list sent to dissidents.
"reharsals" another typo -- for now I am keeping this post for reference.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Hope she's not fat.
Maybe she's a thin girl who can eat.
Anyway, this is good for feasting one's eyes.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
This article is very sound, but should also mention Mr. Gambari's controversial background in Nigeria.
I don't believe there should be another election to make Daw Suu and the NLD "go through it all again" and a former diplomat said this time the military junta is likely to cheat. It did not last time because it believed its own polls that it would win.
During my trip I met an analyst often quoted in the international media.
He said, "As Mahn Sha was the brains of the KNU, for the SPDC, that would be a great coup."
This man went to the memorial service, and mentioned how sad it was, "Lots of crying. The family did not come due to security reasons. I did not get to talk to Saw Hse Hse (Pado Mahn Sha's son.
"The KNU is moving its HQ back to (the Liberated Areas) where it can have armed guards. He stayed in Mae Sot took long in one place and was too open and accepting. Anybody could just walk in the house, so it made it just easier for the assassins."
I also met a woman who used to work for a well known Human Rights organization. She was in Mae Sot when the assassination took place, and "only came back the morning of the memorial service." She said there was a lot of panic, and very real fear. Then she added ironically, "All it did though was increase the bribe that Burmese (dissidents) have to pay for 'traffic violations' when they are intentionally stopped by the local (Thai) authorities."
Since then the Bangkok press has suggested Mahn Sha might have been killed because he refused to allow access for a damn to be built in KNU controlled areas by Thai companies and called for more complete probes into the motivation behind the killing.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Sounds like Burma!
I hope this never happens to the people in the village I visited.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Henry Callahan, Kyi May Kaung
Posted: October 29, 2007
TO APRIL 28
Kyi May Kaung
Unlike even the most experimental artists who preceded them, the abstract expressionists of the mid-20th century prided themselves on ignoring cues from the tangible world. For them, art was predominantly a way to express their deepest emotions. On first inspection, Henry Callahan's acrylics on canvas--now showing at the Foundry Gallery along with works by Kyi May Kaung--call to mind the works of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. But where those ab-ex giants would channel their emotions, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Callahan unabashedly channels nature when making his abstractions: Before the Storm (pictured) calls to mind a sea-and-sky horizon, complete with piscine forms roiling in the ocean. Similarly, Titanium Crescent features cresting waves and vertical strips that approximate undersea vegetation; the dark-hued upper half of Concrete Jungle suggests a deep forest. Kaung's palette is much lighter, though not always cheerier. Her works are a mix of watercolors and monotypes, influenced almost equally by Asian calligraphy and Western action painting: Several of her calligraphic pieces suggest a cacophony of street signs in an urban business district, whereas a number of her inkblot-filled works spin propulsively beyond the matte in the spirit of Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline. But her simplest works are her most pleasing; Courage and Haiku (for DG), feature balletic brushstrokes that cohere in near-perfect harmony. Both artists' works are on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, to Sunday, April 28, at Foundry Gallery, 9 Hillyer Court NW. Free. (202) 387-0203. (Louis Jacobson)
Yellow Sails -- copyright Kyi May Kaung
Musicians playing at Opening Reception -- "Splash, Drip, Pour" Show -- Dragonfly Restaurant, Ubud, Bali. March 4, 2008.
Waiter with poster that Liz of Dragonfly Restaurant made for me --
My poetry books and art on display at Payap University, Chiangmai, Thailand.
My art on display at Payap University, Chiangmai, Thailand. February 28, 2008.
Burmese family meal in Bangkok -- by Daw K.S. Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung
Fruit plate and Nasi Goreng breakfast -- real pepper and sea salt in small square dishes - Photo Kyi May Kaung
Ayam Taliwang -- or Sundanese chicken -- photo - Kyi May Kaung
The dance was beautiful and perfect, danced by Liz' neighbor villagers -- It was amazing.
See Mandaladesa.com as well as
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Kyi May Kaung is a Burma-born literary activist with a doctorate in Political Economy from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in international radio, broadcasting to Burma, and with the Burmese democratic government in exile. Her poetry collections are Pelted with Petals: The Burmese Poems, and Tibetan Tanka. Her poetry has been included in the Norton Anthology of S.E. Asian Poetry. She has just returned from exhibiting her art in Ubud, Bali and in Chiangmai, Thailand.