Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sad photos from inside Burma --


Look at as many as you can bear to look at.

As the late historian, Dr. Than Htun said, "none of the temples are authentic from the ground floor up."

They are badly "renovated" and I'm told it's all a scam to loot the treasures and artifacts inside.

Government sells off temples for "renovation."

As we say in Burmese, the leak starts from the roof, corruption from the very top.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

US Congressional Research Service says constructive engagement policy of ASEAN towards Burma has failed --


Ben Rogers -- Where impunity reigns -- need to take Burma to International Criminal Court


Yinka Shonibare -- Amazing artist


Black Oil and headless manikins --

Quote from Dr Zarni on Bama (Burman) "nationalism"

these nationalist discourses are not fully honest intellectually, although there is a tinge of truth to them. They are largely silent about our own troubled pre-colonial pasts. Our pre-colonial histories are marked by local imperialisms, brutal slave raids, rigidly enforced caste-like social stratification, institutionalized gender oppression, monopolistic economic exploitation of peasantries by ruling feudal houses, and wasteful and gigantic pagoda and palace building projects, be they of the Bama, Arakanese, Mon, Shan, etc.

China annoyed by Burma border battles


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's clothes -- repeats


My comment left on MacArthur Foundation, Asian Security Initiative site --

Monk -- painting copyright Kyi May Kaung

Yesterday 12-18-09 another Burma activist donated the luncheon entrance fee for me to go to the Capital Hilton, DC, for a talk by Kurt Campbell on New US Policy in Asia, sponsored by Sasakawa.

My intention was to ask Dr. Campbell to intervene on behalf of American citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin, Burmese-American activist jailed in Burma and subjected to a mock trial.

He is currently on the 15th day of a hunger strike.

However, Dr. Campbell did not see my constantly raised hand, and I did not get a chance to make my request directly.

Why are his handlers making him so inaccessible, or is he making himself so?

As Catharin Dalpino suggested in an article above, he needs to make himself more accessible to (exile) Burma groups.

I detect a lot of antagonism towards Burmese dissidents when I go to "academic" presentations in DC, and I feel it is uncalled for.

After all, time is showing that the Burmese junta remains as repressive as ever and engagement is likely to fail.

Now the ball is in the SPDC's court, how long is the US engagement policy going to wait for a response from the Burmese junta?

There needs to be some time line.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Split This Rock poem of the week --

Split This Rock Poem of the Week - A.B. Spellman

A.B. Spellman

Things I Don't Miss From My Youth

3. Not Knowing Better

florene barco moved
to philadelphia &
on a visit home told
us she went
to school with
white kids

it was a lunar image

everything shouted
to us
the patterns
we walked. the ease
with which they
commanded. that
we could not live

by the river
word of lynching
farther south & of course
the signs. i
thought it all to be
as much of nature
as the night sky
the birds of the air

the notion of place
meant not where
you stood but how
you talked
to a white man

place was
the wet brown earth
your knees
sank down in

& philadelphia
was the crescent

- A.B. Spellman

Excerpt from "Things I Don't Miss from My Youth" from Things I Must Have Known (2008). Used by permission.

A.B. Spellman is an author, poet, critic, and lecturer. He has published numerous books and articles on the arts, including Art Tatum: A Critical Biography (a chapbook), The Beautiful Days (poetry), and Four Lives in the Bebop Business, now available as Four Jazz Lives (University of Michigan Press). His poetry collection, Things I Must Have Known, was recently was published by Coffee House Press. Mr. Spellman has served on numerous arts panels, including the Africa Diaspora Advisory Group and the Advisory Group on the African-American Museum for the Smithsonian Institution. In recognition of Spellman's commitment and service to jazz, the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005 named one of its prestigious Jazz Masters awards the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy. In March 2006 he received the Benny Golson Award from Howard University for his service to jazz.

Spellman will be featured at Split This Rok Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC. The festival will present readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism-four days of creative transformation as we imagine a way forward, hone our community and activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. For more information: info@splitthisrock.org.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

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Air brushed Twiggy ads banned in UK -- not enough crow's feet.


Irrawaddy cartoon of Stiglitz' visit to Burma oops Myanmar


Quote of the day from a leading "engager in Burma."

" Burma world is a shark-filled world. Inside and outside."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Boston Queens Expressway as music and art --


Call for help for Nyi Nyi Aung and Burmese political prisoners -- letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski --

"Soon" being offered on behalf of Nyi Nyi Aung and Burmese Political Prisoners -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Please post widely, and/or write to Sen. Mikulski's office yourself --

Dec. 14, 2009.

Dear Senator Mikulski,

I am writing to you as I believe you and your office can do something for MD-based U.S. Citizen Nyi Nyi Aung (aka Kyaw Zaw Lwin).

Nyi Nyi was arrested Sept 3rd at Rangoon airport and is currently on hunger strike since Dec 4 to protest prison conditions for himself and other Burmese political prisoners.

His aunts and the US Consul were only given occasional access to see him in jail and bring him food etc.

According to the latest reports in AFP, The Nation (Bangkok), Mizzima etc. the only concession made to him as a U.S. Citizen was that he was given a cotton blanket to put over his plank "bed" to alleviate his bedsores! Initially, he was not given food for 17 days and was tortured.

For all of us who believe in Democracy and the United States and who have chosen to make it our Refuge, surely being a citizen of one of the most powerful countries on earth means more than the "security" of one thin blanket.

We urge you use your good offices to work for the release of Nyi Nyi Aung, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, Min Ko Naing, Suu Suu Nway and all the other over 2000 Burmese political prisoners in Burmese jails.

This letter is cc-ed to Wa Wa Maw, fiance of Kyaw Zaw Lwin and to other Burma activists.

I will also post it on the Free Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma Blog and my own personal bog.


Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Michelle Obama Look Book


Burmese photographer


"Burmese Flowers" site


Split This Rock poem of the week --

Split This Rock Poem of the Week - Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen

The Refugee

Silence rocks the night
nerve stretch tight
snapping left and right
anger peels...
a straight faced appeal
to the Canada that can
to save him

no one appeared
or dared to care
for the solitary heart
that paced the night

morning brought light
more panic and fright
for the vacant of days
that faced him

he ran from the light
took a balcony dive
plunges his life
to the pavement below
that plagued him

nothing resolved
a few problems got solve
two months rent defrayed
the credit companies got swayed
on his apartment a sign says
Now Renting

-Lillian Allen

From Women Do This Every Day (1993), used by permission.

Lillian Allen is an award-winning Canadian poet, fiction writer, playwright, and cultural strategist. As one of its lead originators, she has specialized in the writing and performing of dub poetry, a highly politicized form of poetry, which is sometimes set to music. Her recordings, "Revolutionary Tea Party" and "Conditions Critical," won Juno awards in 1986 and 1988 respectively. Her publications include Theorize This (2004), Psychic Unrest (Insomniac Press, 2000), Women Do This Every Day (Women's Press, 1993), Nothing but a Hero (Well-versed, 1992). Her many recordings include "Freedom & Dance," 1999, and "Conditions Critical," 1988. A past member of the Racial Equity Advisory of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Experts Advisory on the International Cultural Diversity Agenda, past executive member of the Sectoral Commission on Culture and Information of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Allen was named a Foremother of Canadian Poetry by the League of Canadian Poets in 1992.


Allen will be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC. The festival will present readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism-four days of creative transformation as we imagine a way forward, hone our community and activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. For more information: info@splitthisrock.org.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ode of English plurals -- by anonymous

An ode of English Plurals

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and
get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

US Embassy Rangoon seeks consular access to Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung) detained US citizen

currently on hunger strike in Insein Prison.


American on hunger strike in Burmese prison


Christian couple adopts 8 refugee children


Exiled Burmese writer (temporarily) free from fear.


UN urged to investigate Burmese junta's crimes against humanity


Friday, December 04, 2009

A Burma Policy for India by Ben Rogers


Jade vine in the wild


Do not go gentle into that good night -- Dylan Thomas

Glads -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung


When kingfishers catch fire -- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Apples on home-made plate -- Photo and artwork copyright Kyi May Kaung


Kyi May Kaung's comment on Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz's proposed trip to Burma --- left on Irrawaddy site --

Union Station, DC -- The Long View -- photo and blog comment copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Stiglitz's credentials and wish to help are impeccable. In fact, it was I who first suggested behind the scenes in 2004 that he be invited to a closed door meeting in DC.

However, it is unlikely that he or anyone can get the SPDC to trim its budget. The junta is committed to keeping itself in power which means it has to keep spending on the army etc., buying favor.

It would be good if it did limited reforms in the agricultural sector, like rural credit, allowing farmers to own their land (or on 99 year leases) and letting them grow their own crops. These would be like the Chinese Deng Xiao Ping style reforms with Special Economic Zones which I have been advocating for a long time.

It's doubtful the junta will do anything even if "God spoke to them."

They just won't do anything that will erode their power base.

Farmers are losing their land. It is all becoming vast collective farms owned by junta cohorts, leading to mass starvation through low production.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kyi May Kaung's comment left on Irrawaddy site --

Snake's head -- sculpture by Alexander Calder, National Gallery DC -- photo Kyi May Kaung

In response to Dr. Zarni's Beware the Generals' Election --

From William Butler Yeats --

The Circus Animals' Desertion

Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
We have to get back to human rights. The abuses multiply and escalate. A rigged "election" won't change anything.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Gustav Klimt


Thich Nhat Hanh


Friday, November 20, 2009

My comment on Mrs. O Blog, on late Joanne Weinstein of Ultimo --

I check out what Mrs. O. is wearing regularly, and I find everything in the best taste, while retaining a sense of occasion and fun, when the occasion calls for it. A feeling of sadness when it's a sad event Mrs. Obama is attending.

Kudos to Mrs. Obama and her fashion and art sense and her mentors who "trained her eye."

As a poet, artist and maker of wearable art myself, I know whereof I speak.

Kyi May Kaung

The well-wedded sculpture and poetry of Mark Behme and JoAnne Growney, by Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

A few months ago I went to a sculpture exhibit by Mark Behme, combined with a poetry reading by JoAnne Growney, at the Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where it seemed to me the poetry and the sculpture went together very well, as my father used to say about lyrics that were “wedded” to the music. At the same time both the sculpture and the poetry were strong enough to stand up well on their own, thank you very much.
I have viewed other exhibits where poetry was displayed together with sculpture through wall-notes.
In this case, after I scanned through the twenty or so small sculptures by Mark Behme, most of carved wood and found objects displayed on a table, JoAnne Growney, who says she is named after her two grandmothers, Josephine and Anna, read her poetry in a careful and respectful manner from a podium.
Growney is known as a “math poet,” using her mathematics knowledge in her elegant poetry. I had met her a few years earlier at one of my own poetry readings. In their team’s process, the sculptures are on loan at Growney’s home, while she writes on her own. Behme works in the basement of his own home in Silver Spring, where he lives with his wife and a couple of small dogs, as well as sculptures he has carved and exchanged with others or had given to him by friends and neighbors.
To write this, I met up with both collaborators at Kefa Café in Silver Spring, MD and interviewed them, then we walked over to visit Mark’s home and studio.
A high point of visiting artists in their home studios, besides seeing how they make their art, is seeing the organic way in which artists live with their creations. Sculptures and furniture made by Behme were seamlessly integrated into the lived-in shadowy ambience of a small fifties cabin, built originally from a Sears do-it-yourself kit, Behme told me. For me it all harks back to a simpler time, such as when I was growing up in Rangoon, Burma, where we did things for ourselves. I also have a home studio where I paint and make papier mache constructions. Some of my favorites that I saw at Mark’s was a hefty side board and wine bottle holder, which he said was the first piece he ever carved. It features two types of wood, maple, his favorite, he said, and vine leaves carved on the front from African purpleheart. The other wow piece to die for was a carving of a nude woman as the backrest for a six foot high chair or throne which had a found iron grate as a seat.
Downstairs in the basement, Behme had his woodworking machines such as lathes behind a dust screen of transparent plastic and does his carving in the outer area. He showed us a guitar he was making, which had a stained purple streak running lengthwise down the right side.

Run with the Dog -- work in progress - front view -- Photograph courtesy of Mark Behme.

All his electric guitars are made from quality components, which he buys from a supplier. As we left, we saw a new box just delivered by the postman. The musical instruments are all working guitars that can be played and have whimsical elements such as faces that only the musician can see as he or she plays. I thought this fantastic.
Growney’s poem Devil’s Music illustrates Behme’s guitar sculpture Nutjob, which features a gleeful devil’s face.

Nutjob -- a carved guitar -- art work and photo copyright Mark Behme

The Devil’s Music

Don’t be all thumbs
but thumb your nose
at those whose rule of thumb
turns all thumbs down at fun—

. . .
JoAnne Growney told me she had worked with different artists, but the art comes first. She reacts to it.
“Truth is hidden from us, but if we try sly tricks we can discover it. Mark’s sculpture is a tool for me. Both of us work alone, then meet and talk about the work. I saw one of Mark’s pieces (I FALL TO PIECES AND I CRY) exhibited at the Pyramid Atlantic storefront on Ellsworth Avenue, took a photo and wrote about it . . .”
The poem Lovely Love accompanies two tabletop size, brightly colored sculptures, Cupcake Boy and Drop-Dead Gorgeous.

Cupcake Boy and Drop Dead Gorgeous -- photo courtesy of Mark Behme

Lovely Love

A beautiful girl and a pretty boy
are a match that’s bound to happen—
for both know how to kiss and tell
. . .
He brags that she’s drop-dead gorgeous;
he’s sweeter than chocolate, she cries.
Helpless voyeurs, we watch when they kiss
to see if they open their eyes.

Another of my favorites, Split Tales, depicts a girl with corded hair, who literally has two parts, dividing
from her waist up. One part is lying down while one is sitting up.

Split Tales -- photo courtesy of Mark Behme

Which Girl Am I?

The girl who’s not forced to divide
into the good girl and the real one
is a lucky one. I was eleven
when I felt a crack begin.
In time I fully split—

At the exhibition and reading, the piece that most appealed to me, maybe because it is darkest and seems to capture the state of the politics of my home country, Burma, is called The Endgame.

The End Game -- sculpture of wood and found objects by Mark Behme -- photo courtesy of Mark Behme.

It shows the top part of the torso of a man curving up from an empty shell casing, and is pierced through and through with a long spiral screw of copper. The man is wearing a helmet.
In chess, as grandmaster Gary Kasparov writes, the end game is when both sides have few pieces left and are at the final stage. Inspired by the sculpture, Growney put together a composite poem of one-liners from her neighbors Elizabeth Behrens, Megan Benson, Talia Benson, Abi Daken, John Daken, Tom Jennings, Ed King, Joan King, Denny Shaw, Ann Taylor and herself.

It’s a grand finale to end this article and like all good art will live forever.

It’s Not Over / It’s Over

It is not over until . . .
It’s not over until the votes are counted.
It’s not over until the treaty is signed.
It’s not over until the end of time, space, wind and rain.
It’s not over until all love is gone.
It’s not over until I say it’s over.

It’s not over until the bullet hits the ground.
It’s not over until the ammunition runs out.
It’s not over until Rumsfeld moves from the Chesapeake to the third circle of Hell.
It’s not over until defense contractors are at peace.
It's not over until the senses shut down and dimensions dissolve.

It is over when . . .

It’s over when the lady says it’s over.
It’s over when fat ladies no longer sing.
It’s over when it’s ten o’clock and we know where our children are.
It’s over when the mirror is clear.
It’s over when clouds darken the sky.

It’s over when the soldier enlists.
It’s over when a land mine takes his legs and the politician slams his fist.
It’s over when rhetoric meets flesh and bone and powder and lead.

It’s over when hope is extinguished and either-ors expire.
It’s over when no poor, young American joins the armed forces to pay for a college education.

To see more of the sculpture of Mark Behme and purchase art work visit his website.

JaAnne Growney's poetry is featured on her website http://joannegrowney.com.
where you may order copies of her poetry collections.

Kyi May Kaung is an award-winning poet whose poems have been featured in Norton’s Language for a New Century, Amnesty International and The New Internationalist’s Fire in the Soul, The Museum of American Poetics, Counterpunch, Glass, Poet Lore, Rattapallax, Poet's Attic and other publications. She has published two chapbooks, Pelted with Petals: The Burmese Poems and Tibetan Tanka. She is also a professional artist who has had nine international one women shows since 2002. Her 1994 doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania is in Political Economy.

After 25 years Oprah Winfrey announces last season of her talk show -


However, she never involved herself in international issues like Burma and Rwanda, and that's a pity.

Photo essay -- "Dialog" by Kyi May Kaung

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi with US delegation led by Kurt Campbell.

Georgio de Chirico -- Conversation among the Ruins, 1921, National Gallery.
Photo Kyi May Kaung

Giacommetti -- The Queen -- at National Gallery, DC -- photo Kyi May Kaung

Aung San Suu Kyi seeks dialog with Than Shwe -- interview with her lawyer Jared Genser --


informal summary -- need to move from talking about talks to real talks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Website of US Embassy, Rangoon, Burma.


The Spoof blog -- some funny pieces, some on Burma


Politics and Style Blog


From guest commentator James O'Brien --

re. Irrawaddy article on Burma by Aung Zaw "Climate change in Burma."

We have to be very careful with this, and keep close watch.

Most of the exile groups or personalities are also jumping on the engagement band wagon or gravy train for funding, even for free trips.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been isolated from the world for quite some time, so has the NLD to some extent.

She has asked to see the Sr. Gen. but meanwhile Gen. Than Shwe is going for lessons to Sri Lanka (maybe he wants to learn how they eliminated the Tamil Tigers)

He's saying certain neocolonialists (read western governments) are pressuring Burma.

"Burmese people" is a code word, but it is not equivalent to "the SPDC."

Suu Kyi too may give away too much politically because of course she is negotiating from a position of weakness, not strength. She also is in the end game, cornered and with few moves left and all her chess pieces taken away and imprisoned.

It's a great tragedy to be alive to see all this in Burma.

Pro-trade, anti-sanctions people are jumping for joy.

James O'Brien

Timeline US-China relations, from Washington Post


China close to collapse, says man who first found out abt Enron --


Figures just don't add up to 8.9% growth as China claims, says top investment fund manager, who thinks they are cooking the books.

If so things look bad for USA and also for countries in the region with close ties to China such as Burma


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jews in Burma -- video from VOA


Guest commentator on "Than Shwe grandson attends car show"


Is this the much vaunted "Burmese Culture"
i.e. "Myanmar Culture" that the junta is trying to maintain.

If so Ha Ha Ha -- Sr. General cannot control his own grandson.

BTW, the Burmese grapevine says that T.Shwe won his wife in an army lotto after she was widowed from her first husband.

Isn't that interesting and shows in what high regard Burmese hold their women.


James O'Brien.

DC sniper killed by lethal injection --


Monday, November 09, 2009

An excellent review by Marianne Villaneuva of 2 Burma books


White House says Burma tail will no longer wag ASEAN dog


800+ students move on Capital Hill to prevent genocide in Burma, Darfur etc.


Jim Hoagland -- Dissidents missing from Obama's diplomacy --

Free Burma Ranger who lost his life to malaria while helping other Karen villagers and his daughter -- photo from Free Burma Rangers.

Talking heads at SAIS, DC Burma talk -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung


This is indeed true and the panels at SAIS on Burma seemed stacked.

It was hard even to find out who was coming and what was going on where.

The Iranian dissidents inside the country must be even more upset than the Burmese.
Kyi May Kaung

Dr. Kyi May Kaung's interview with Dove Magazine -- about Burma's 2010 elections and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's role --

Transcript in Burmese -- on 2010 elections and Aung San Suu Kyi's role. These were only 2 Qs.

I said the 2007 referendum, the spdc constition, the proposed 2010 "election" and sham trials of Daw Suu, Yettaw and now Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung) are all shams and are part of a preconceived strategy. Since 1990 was never recognized and spdc is in a position of strength, it would be best for pro-democracy parties including NLD not to participate. Of course, that is my personal opinion.

In the meantime the spdc does not have a good record. Human rights abuses have increased, so has the number of political prisoners (and it is waging military campaigns against almost all the ethnic groups.)

On Daw Suu's role in Burmese politics, I said that her role will always be there, whether she is allowed out of her house or not, whether she is physically allowed to participate or not (or whatever she decides.)

I spoke to the reporter shortly after Presdt. Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and I said that but for fact that Nobel prizes are not awarded repeatedly to the same person, by now Daw Suu has done enough to win about 4 Nobel Prizes.

Her role, her spirit and her inspiration will remain whatever happens. By now the Burmese people know well what she stands for and what democracy is.

(This was recorded before the U.S. engagement policy was announced.)

Will be in upcoming print edition of Dove magazine.

Kyi May Kaung

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cy Twombly


Robert Motherwell -- words and images --


Robert Motherwell's Elegy to the Spanish Republic


Spanish elegy on harp -- beautiful photographs and music --


Environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy


Comment By Kyi May Kaung on new Canadian ambassador to Burma and a "united front" by western governments --

Window cleaner hanging by a thread -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

re. article in Irrawaddy Oct 30, 2009, interview of Ambassador Hoffman.

It all depends on the SPDC now -- if they continue to play the game the way they have always done, window dressing while continuing to pound on everyone, post 2010 will be worse than before 2010.

So far the signs are not good, in spite of the sincerity of the western governments and the pro-democracy forces inside and outside.

West should take what internal NGOs say with a grain of salt. Too often I see the attitude "don't talk to us of faults of junta, just let us do our job on the ground."

The problem is micro-economic "solutions" won't change the macro system and it is system change that we need.

The ball is now in the Sr. General's court.

Let's see -- but he continues to pull wool over everyone eyes with talk of "industrialization" -- unfortunately with junta owned investment and companies and slave labor.

Very tiresome.

That said this is an excellent interview in both Qs and As.

Kyi May Kaung

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Open Letter to Kurt Campbell from Burmese Civil Society Organisations --

2 November 2009
To: Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
1. Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
2. Scot Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary, East Asia and Pacific Bureau and Ambassador for ASEAN
3. Larry M. Dinger, U.S. Charge d'Affaires in Burma
Open Letter from Civil Society from Burma and Asia Concerning U.S. Fact-finding Mission and
Ongoing Efforts for Peace and Democracy in Burma
Dear Secretary Campbell,
As civil society representatives from Burma and Asia supportive to the cause of human rights and
democracy in Burma, we want to express our appreciation of the U.S.’s efforts, past and present, to
promote democracy, peace, and national reconciliation in Burma. In your upcoming fact-finding visit to
Burma, and in any future efforts, we urge you to follow the lead of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other prodemocracy
and ethnic opposition leaders, who continue to express their genuine will for substantive
dialogue, without wavering on the key principles and concerns of the people of Burma. We urge the U.S.
and others in the international community to accept nothing less than the regime’s fulfillment of
key benchmarks before the 2010 elections: the release of Daw Aung San Su Kyi and all political
prisoners, the cessation of hostilities against ethnic groups, and inclusive dialogue, including
review of the 2008 Constitution.
We want to emphasize that the new U.S. policy of pursuing political engagement while maintaining
sanctions is very much in line with the position taken by the National League for Democracy and other
pro-democracy groups. The NLD’s Shwegondaing Declaration as well as the Movement for Democracy
and Rights of Ethnic Nationalities’ Proposal for National Reconciliation are representative of consistent
calls not for isolation of the regime, but for critical political engagement and substantive dialogue. Of
course, any sort of political engagement with a regime like the SPDC is wrought with danger.
As we saw with Senator Jim Webb, naïve attempts at diplomacy—in his case, premature calls for
recognizing the undemocratic 2010 elections and lifting economic sanctions—hold the danger of
emboldening the regime to continue its brutal actions and empty rhetoric, without taking any real steps
towards democratization. We have already observed the dangerous misinterpretation by some key players
in ASEAN that the new U.S. policy aims to follow ASEAN’s highly problematic brand of constructive
engagement. In this key time before the 2010 elections, we urge you to take the path of critical political
engagement, while maintaining pressure on the regime.
Some international observers, particularly Burma’s neighbors, see next year’s elections as an opportunity
for change, but under the rules laid out in the military’s 2008 Constitution, and with the regime’s diehard
measures to silence opposition, the showcase elections will serve only to cloak the regime in false
We reaffirm the U.S.’s priorities for Burma, as stated in your recent congressional testimony, including
“the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners; an end to conflicts with ethnic
minority groups; accountability of those responsible for human rights violations; and the initiation of a
genuine dialogue among the Burmese government, the democratic opposition, and the ethnic minorities
on a shared vision for the way forward in Burma.”
We urge you to reiterate these priorities to the regime and to governments in the region as critical
benchmarks before the 2010 elections. Without the key benchmarks of (1) the release of Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi and all political prisoners and (2) an end to attacks against ethnic groups and (3) inclusive
dialogue, including a review of the 2008 constitution, the international community cannot accept the result
of the elections as a true expression of the will of Burma’s people.
Your recent testimony suggested that the upcoming trip may also address “initial positive steps” the
regime could take in “areas of mutual benefit” such as counter-narcotics, health, and environmental
protection. Past experience has shown that the SPDC’s so-called attempts at environmental protection
often lead to further human rights abuses and the denial of local and ethnic communities’ rights to the
sustainable management of natural resources. We urge you to keep in mind that these “areas of mutual
benefit” are not isolated concerns, but symptomatic of a regime with no regard for its own people. In
recent months, in a move to reclaim control of its border areas before the elections, the SPDC has
combined both divide-and-rule and scorched earth tactics, resulting in massive displacement of ethnic
civilians and contributing to regional instability. These actions are a continuation of long-held policies,
which have destroyed over 3,300 villages in the ethnic states of Burma in the last ten years.
We support your concerted efforts to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD, and ethnic leaders. We
urge you to meet with them in their offices instead of government “guest houses.” There are many
activists working for the development of democracy, human rights, and environmental protection
based inside Burma and on the border, who can provide valuable information and insight into the
country’s myriad problems. We urge you to meet with representatives from both areas during and
after this trip.
We also want to draw particular attention to the case of American citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin (a.k.a Nyi
Nyi Aung), who continues to be detained in Insein Prison. We are concerned for his safety due to reports
of torture, and urge you to do all that you can to secure his release.
We continue to seek further opportunities to engage with you and your office in our parallel efforts
towards peace and democracy in Burma.
1. Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean Burma)
2. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition
3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
4. Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
5. Association of Protection for Refugee Children in Burma
6. Backpack Health Workers Team
7. Burma Centre Delhi
8. Burma Information Team
9. Burma Lawyers’ Council
10. Burma Lusei Union
11. Burma Medical Association
12. Burma Partnership
13. Chin Human Rights Organization
14. Chin Students and Youth Federation
15. Chin Youth Association
16. Chin Youth Conference
17. Falam Chin Women Development
18. Forum for Democracy in Burma
19. Foundation for Media Alternatives (Philippines)
20. Free Burma Campaign (Korea)
21. Free Burma Coalition-Philippines
22. Friends of Burma (Chiang Mai)
23. Hong Kong Coalition for a Free Burma
24. Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
25. Indonesia Solidarity for Burma (Solidaritas Indonesia Untuk Burma)
26. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
27. Karen State Education Assistance Group
28. Karenni National Progressive Party
29. Mae Tao Clinic
30. Mara Thylia Py (MTP)
31. National League for Democracy-Liberated Area
32. Nationalities Youth Forum
33. Network for Environment and Economic Development (Burma)
34. Nonviolence International Southeast Asia
35. Patriotic War Veterans of Burma
36. People’s Forum on Burma (Japan)
37. Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception- Philippines (SFIC)
38. Shwe Gas Movement
39. Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Task Force on ASEAN
40. South East Asian Press Alliance
41. Students and Youth Congress of Burma
42. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
43. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma
44. Thai Labor Campaign
45. The Karen Teacher Working Group
46. Task Force on ASEAN and Burma
47. Women’s League of Burma
48. Zanniat Youth Organisation
49. Zomi National Congress
50. Zomi Women’s Union

Ashland OR resident helps children of dump on Burma Thai border


Michelle O will be on Iron Chef!

Secret ingredient -- toasted peanuts in shell -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.


Why don't we have the generals from Burma contest the US chefs in Kitchen Stadium?

Let Burmese folks be the judges of what's good food. Aung San Suu Kyi, U Win Tin and U Tin Oo to be special judges.

That way we can see how high tech they are -- can they operate an ice cream machine.

Do they know the international names of dishes? Maybe they do.

James O'Brien

Borderline Cafe and Art Gallery -- Mae Sot, Thailand


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Coco Chanel


No innocent she
might have lived
with a Nazi.

Poem copyright Kyi May Kaung

Henri Matisse -


Constantin Brancusi --


Pablo Picasso


Irrawaddy cartoon -- "Look who's coming to dinner."


US new Burma policy from State Department site


On a light note -- an analysis of Michele O's fashion style --


Photo essay -- prayers for Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung) US citizen still in jail in Burma --

Offering food to monks -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Presiding monks offered "soon" (rice meal)- Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Pathein Halwa made in America. Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Sermon time followed by political speeches -- way to go in America -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Older Burmese ladies in America -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Hand mixed salad -- where are your gloves, Baby? Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Chicken curry for nan gyi salad -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Cute couple -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Try on my hat! Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Monday, November 02, 2009

9 minutes ago -- Will Mr. Campbell be able to break the Ice?


US envoy to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and give public briefing at Chulalongkorn U

Monk's robe offering for Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung's) birthday -- (still under arrest in Burma and Freedom of all political prisoners. Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Loaded panel? at SAIS on Friday Oct 30, 2009 --


"Pragmatism" new in word for U.S. -Burma policy --

There was a whole slurry of pro-engagement closed door meetings etc in DC last week.

New key word "Pragmatism, pragmatism, pragmatism."

Whether it will really be pragmatic or "smart" is anybody's guess.

Word "smart" was in SAIS seminar's title.

"Smart U.S. Policy" -- does it mean old policy "not-smart" and "new" policy "smarter?"

I really doubt it will make any difference.

Jim O'Brien

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fat chance of US being able to engage Burmese junta- which arrests journalists/activists before US mission --

Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung) US citizen arrested Sept 3 is still in prison in Burma and being subjected to a sham trial. MD based Burmese exiles are praying for him at a monastery Nov.1 Poster copyright Supporters of Kyaw Zaw Lwin.


Kurt Campbell and Scot Marciel are scheduled to go to Burma Nov 3-4.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Burmese military governments supposed "softening."

Again I would like to repeat my warning that everyone including U.S., has to be very careful at this time. Even as it appears to be "softening" the junta is arresting NGO workers and NGOs will have to cease activity during May 2010 (maybe the date of the so-called election) and other restrictions are being put on.

Tomorrow has a big seminar in Washington DC featuring people who want sanctions lifted. I don't think much will come of this, just people scrambling to have a role in what they think will be the opening of Burma.

Read Leopold's Ghost,by Adam Hochschild, about how the Congo became the private empire of King Leopold and how a private corporation he formed ran slave labor camps that forced people into portering and tapping wild rubber by kidnapping the women as hostages. Cut off hands and heads were the norm.

It will break your heart the way Burma breaks your heart now.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hundreds gather in front of Sydney Opera House to show support for Aung San Suu Kyi


Burma and Beijing -- comment I left on Irrawaddy site

Some old and new news --

In 1970s in Burma, a niece of Ne Win's told me that when U Ne Win went to then Peking, he sat down to a formal dinner and was really surprised to see Ba Thein Tin seated next to him.

Of course now China since 1978 and Deng Xioaping has not supported the BCP(Bakapa).

This Friday there is a seminar at School of Advanced International Studies in DC where Gambari, Scott Marciel, David Steinberg, Khin Zaw Win and a Dr. Zhai Khin from Beijing are going to speak. I hope Irrawaddy will cover this.

It may be connected to so-called Yunnan Initiative, but I am not sure.

What I am sure of is if Burma were to adopt economic reforms like those instituted by Deng in 1978, with Special Economic Zones and farmers owning their land, it would also enjoy Chinese-style economic growth, much more than lifting sanctions ever could.

People would have factory work and more food -- but to have a stop to human rights abuses will take real political reform.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lessons for Burma from the end of Apartheid in S. Africa -


This is a beautifully written and acted Masterpiece Contemporary movie featuring William Hurt and holds many lessons for a possible breakthrough in Burma.

Available on DVD

"Endgame" can buy from PBS.org link above.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a panic attack feels like --


Human Rights investigator defends his Gaza report --


See also Bill Moyers' Journal, PBS for interview with Richard Goldstone, who also investigated war crimes in S. Africa, Bosnia and Rwanda.


Harn Lay cartoon from Irrawaddy -- "Meet our new circus act -"


Comment I left on Irrawaddy site re. UK Ambassador allowed to visit Daw Suu to brief her about sanctions --

Fallout -- a collage- copyright Kyi May Kaung

This is all very good & allows Daw Suu a regular? limited view/contact with the outside world.

But Ambassadors are not the Internet, professors/researchers or libraries and how much could he brief her in a few hours? How long was he allowed to see her?

Daw Suu must be allowed to surf the web on her own and do her own research, and should be allowed to meet economists and others from inside and outside Burma in regular "master classes." The economic sections of the western embassies would be a good start.

She should certainly be released soon and allowed both intellectual and physical freedom.

Otherwise it is only the junta trying to show it's flexible, not real flexibility or openess and not real dialog. But please spare her from serving tea to the junta apologists!

Everyone knows who those are. These deserve a teacup flung at them, and are useless intellectually also.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Transcript of Interview of Exile Government's Dr. Thaung Htun, Mr. Gambari and Sen. Jim Webb on new US-Burma policy

CNN rush transcript of Interview by Christianne Amanpour


My response to praise from "Tide" in Irrawaddy --

US Flag flying above Washington DC's Union Station on morning of Webb hearing.
Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Tide Wrote:

Hello Dr. Kyi May Kaung,

You sound obviously the Burmese expert. I wondered why you were just a spectator, not invited to the discussion/debate/hearing panel. Sounds like your forever panel is the Irrawaddy. I would like to know what your idea is on ASSK's move? Do you support her move to lift sanctions?

Cheers, Doctor, cheers!

-- Hello Tide,

I would have gone if I were ever invited!

In fact since 2001, I have had trouble even to get the panelists to see my raised right hand to ask a question!

You and many others sent good wishes and my letter/statement on the Webb hearing was picked up immediately and disseminated by Jotman and other blogs, so I have to be quite happy. Also Sen. Webb said the media got him wrong and he does not want to lift sanctions. See recent Irrawaddy article.

Someone in the know told me that Christianne Amanpour on CNN asked Webb why exile government was not invited to the Webb hearing and that Webb's office accepted 25 statements into the formal record and mine was one of them, so my letter and others must have had an effect.

Daw Suu said she could not lift sanctions per se because she's not the one who imposed them, but she did say she would help "Myanmar" work towards having them lifted, if she were allowed to see the ambassadors of western governments and educate herself on sanctions.

I favor the approach U.S. Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton is advocating now, which is a mix of sanctions (still kept on and can be amped up) and (limited) engagement.

Sanctions and engagement are not binary, like zero and one, or on-off like an electric switch but a whole spectrum of finely calibrated policy options. So how many points will there be on a line or curve? An infinite number.

I don't think many so-called experts get this and the pro-junta people are just focused on getting sanctions lifted, which will mainly benefit the junta.

The benefits may be material (income from exports) as well as in junta's international image.

Kyi May Kaung

Public radio International interview of Wawa Kyaw, fiancee of US citizen jailed in Burma

Dissidents signing petition for Kyaw Zaw Lwin in DC in front of "Myanmar Embassy"
photo copyright Kyi May Kaung


US Congressional Hearing on Burma Oct 21, 2009

Burmese monk with replica of Liberty Bell before Sen. Webb's hearing earlier in month.
photo copyright Kyi May Kaung


For long time dissidents and Burma watchers in the DC area, this Hearing set our minds a bit more at rest than the earlier Senate Hearing with Jim Webb.

Some dissidents including me felt it was not so urgent for us to attend this Hearing as we trusted all 3 Witnesses.

According to the article cited above from Irrawaddy magazine, Tom Malinowski said that if sanctions were lifted, only the extractive sectors of oil, gems, gas and timber would "open up."

Chris Beyrer called for an arms embargo.

Aung Din of US Campaign for Burma said the new US policy should not be open ended.

He said that if regime continues arresting democracy activists, attacking ethnic minorities, the US must respond with tightened sanctions, actions at UN Security Council, such as global arms embargo and the establishment of an inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity.

blog summary KMK

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Burmese military regime warns Buddhist monks not to agitate


Burma: Government Impunity for Crimes --


International Center for Transitional Justice says good records should be kept for future prosecutions and the Burmese military regime responds to international pressure, if slowly.

It also stresses that change won't happen on its own without proactive action.

Kyi May Kaung's review of Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters --

National Museum of Women in the Arts.

I caught this exhibition on its last day in Washington, DC in 2006

The paintings captured my imagination with their abstract symbols and the idea that only the owners of the Dreaming land are qualified/certified to depict images of it. Hence the furor over Prince William's "aboriginal paintings."

The women's role as keepers of the rituals and the images spoke to me.

I am a Burmese exile, exiled from my own Dreaming land by the military junta. Stories mean a lot to me. I am a painter as well as a poet and writer.

Who owns the stories? Our stories are not the junta's white-washed ones. Nor the colonialists' postcards.

The exhibition catalog provides a good introduction to the spirituality of Australian aboriginal art. It could also apply to other kinds of art which originally were spiritual and religious, before commercialization by colonization and westerners, such as the art of Bali, India and Burma.

The reproductions in the catalog are good, but of course don't totally capture the spirit and scale of the originals, which are literally breathtaking.

I notice the price of this catalog is going up and would sell mine except it is one of my treasured possessions.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Artist Amanda Richardson (applique) and her garden


Please check out other artists too at Zenith Gallery,which is really five star.

Kyi May Kaung

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dr. Kyi May Kaung's comment on Dr. Zarni's article about Bama (Burman) Nationalism.

Welcome to the Temple -- painting and photograph, copyright Kyi May Kaung

I could not agree with Dr. Zarni more.

Anyone who has read Dr. Victor Lieberman's Burmese Administrative Cycles


knows there is nothing romantic or even high flown about the Burman or Bama monarchies.

Essentially dynastic founder kings unified by force, then as the dynasty progressed to the brain cracked end products (due to royal intermarriage) at the end of dynasties, the same cycle started again.

Gen. Ne Win and Sr. Gen Than Shwe imagining themselves Bama kings are very dangerous.

Though the colonial period had problems - (it also was centralized as a bureaucracy) - at least it had a semblance of peace and law and order.

But during the Independence struggle the "romance" of Nationalism, like the Irish struggle, was revived again.

Everyone knows that Dr. Htin Aung was stranded in UK in old age and wanting to come home and wrote Stricken Peacock to curry favor with U Ne Win and get to go home.

And he did.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Left on Irrawaddy site -- 10-17-09

Note: Bama or Burman is the predominant ethnic group. Some others are Shan, Karen, Kachin, Lahu, Wa, Chin etc etc.

Burmese is the name for the collectivity. I don't think "Myanmarese" is in general use.

Myanmar is name the junta calls the country.

Everyone else (almost) calls it Burma.

Imprisoned Burmese comedian Zarganar receives PEN Pinter Award


Monday, October 05, 2009

Slogans and photos from Candlelight Vigil for Burmese Political Prisoners and Human Rights in Burma --

Oct 3, 2009 in front of Myanmar Embassy, 2300 S St., DC (Sheridan-Kalorama)

Demonstrator with Free Burma poster.

Free, Free, Free Burma!
Free all political prisoners
Free Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Free U Tin Oo
Free U Khun Tun Oo
Free all 88 Generation Students
Free all human rights defenders
Free all journalists and lawyers
Free all youths and internet bloggers.

Candles for US citizen Nyi Nyi Lwin (Kyaw Zaw Lwin) - arrested in Rangoon Sept 3 and Others.

Peace, Freedom, Justice and Democracy -- Have them now! Have them now!

Freedom to Lead -- demonstrator holds Shepherd Fairey's poster of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Women and children -- free them now, free them now!


STOP torturing your own people
STOP killing your own people
STOP torturing ethic groups
STOP killing ethnic groups
STOP intimidating your own people
STOP torturing American citizen
STOP violating Human Rights
STOP breaking international laws.


All photos copyright Kyi May Kaung
Slogans -- Free Burma.

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--