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 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.

Indominatable and beautiful U Win Tin of the NLD --

Michael Goldfarb - "At Webb's junta love-in" from Weekly Standard

Friday, October 02, 2009

City Poem 63 by Faiz Ahmad Faiz --

Siwa Oasis -- where Alexander the Great went to consult the oracle --

Photo essay -- protesting Sen. Webb's Hearing on New U.S. Policy towards Burma --

By Kyi May Kaung

Demonstrators reminding Sen. Jim Webb that Burma is not Vietnam -- sanctions have been lifted in Vietnamese case.

DC tour bus, Union Station,Washington DC.

One of the survivor monks who managed to flee Burma -- standing near Liberty Bell replica.

Protestors just before Hearing.

Page from Irrawaddy magazine about junta's PR and "junta friendlies."

Monk survivors of Saffron Revolution who came to protest from as far away as Georgia.
All photos copyright Kyi May Kaung

Dr. Kyi May Kaung's statement on new US -Burma policy

This has been submitted to Sen. Jim Webb's office and placed on the official record of the Sept 30th, 2009 Hearing in the Dirkson Building, DC.

"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. Sometimes we must interfere. . . There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention . . . writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands governed by the left and by the right." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1986, Oslo.

Senator Webb,

I was disappointed by your Hearing yesterday, which I saw as rather one-sided. No representatives of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer Jared Genser, representatives of the National League for Democracy, or the NCGUB (the Exile Government, elected to their constituencies in Burma in the 1990 elections), Burmese refugees and dissidents, Burmese monk survivors of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, the US Campaign for Burma, scholars who have not advocated removing sanctions, representatives of major non-profits working for change in Burma, other stakeholders or known strong supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein or Mitch McConnell were either not invited or not present. Here is Sen. McConnell’s “two tests for the new US policy from his website:
I request that you place this Statement on the official record of the Hearing of September 30th, 2009.
You conducted the Hearing single-handed and was noticeably harsher in your questions towards Kurt Campbell, who explicated the new US policy and took a measured approach, and towards Professor David Williams, who was the only one among the witnesses who mentioned gross human rights violations in Burma and the stepped up military campaigns against the ethic minorities, being conducted right now as military attacks against the Kokang Chinese, the Rohingya in the west, the Kachin in the north and in addition to the on-going longest civil war against the Karen in the east. In many cases it was the Naypyidaw (former Rangoon government) which violated the ceasefires.
Professor Williams said, “Before the 2010 elections, the mountains will flow with blood.” The continuous and constantly increasing stream of refugees into all the neighboring countries are evidence of this.
Dr. Williams also testified that he thought after 2010 it would not be a civilian government, though it would be civilianized. As Burmese, we have seen too much of the trick of army brass changing into civilian clothes and continuing in power, directly or from behind the scenes, to think much of the promises of the 2010 so-called “election.” Professor Williams concluded by saying “This effort won’t shift the game, it will only give the game away.”
I am relieved that the US State Department’s new Burma policy will in fact be a limited engagement policy, subject to concrete and substantial changes (political and economic reforms of a structural nature) on the part of the Burmese military regime, and that the US government reserves the right to impose or extend sanctions whenever it sees fit.
Please allow me to tell you who I am and my qualifications for talking about Burma.
I am a Burmese-born scholar and long time democracy advocate who has been studying Burma all her adult life. My 1994 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Pennsylvania was on the detrimental effects of a highly centralized command economy and the political economy of Burma in relation to those of Zaire, the then Soviet Union, India and the People’s Republic of China. I studied the design of political-economic systems and the rundown economies produced by having a dictatorship or one party system. My thesis is on Scholarly Commons
available from Proquest
and a summary available from Asian Survey
I also study the economic relationship between nations and I was the first to start pointing out in 2002 that to study Burma we also need to look at China and India. Today, I am happy to see this view is being increasingly taken up, including by you at yesterday’s Hearing.
In addition I have publicly debated David Steinberg and others about sanctions and Burma several times since 2002. Here are some links –
For the BBC Hardtalk interview, I went at the request of the NCGUB or National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma or the Exile Government, as one of the members of their Technical Advisory Network.
I have been closely associated with The Free Burma Coalition when it was working on sanctions, with The Burma Fund and the NCGUB. Most recently, (winter of 2008-2009) I worked on a Transition Plan for Burma, commissioned by the NCGUB. I compiled the plans and ideas of 6-7 internationally recognized scholars and Burma experts; several economists; including an expert on money and banking and economic development; a human geographer who has studied Burmese agriculture extensively and is alarmed about the mass landlessness taking place in Burma as the junta takes over the land of Cyclone Nargis victims; an MP of a western government friendly with Burma and constitutional scholars. I also looked at past papers prepared for the democracy movement since 1990. These consultants published and unpublished works are much more detailed and show a much better understanding of Burma than anything that David Steinberg or Thant Myint U have ever written. In fact these two and others in the same camp are widely known as regime apologists. Maybe that is why they were invited onto your panel.
To my knowledge (I stopped work on this project in mid-March 2009), none of the scholars and dissidents consulted advocated lifting sanctions. Most of the experts instead advocated structural reforms of a political and economic nature. The sentence “Sanctions will be gradually lifted” did work its way into the official report, after it had passed from my hands, but this can be seen as subject to concrete changes from the SPDC’s side, and in line with Daw Suu’s recent letter indicating her willingness to help lift sanctions and asking to be better informed. She cannot truly make an informed decision without access to the internet and other international media as she continues under a more severe house arrest since the sham trial conducted against her, towards the end of which you were allowed to see her.
My advice to you and Secretary Clinton and everyone working on this new policy is to be extremely careful that you are all not used by the junta, while Burma is left worse off than before 2010.
In my opinion you need to show you are not more motivated by playing to an American audience by going to secure American Mormon John Yettaw’s release, and talking about recovering the bones of US war dead from World War II in Burma, but not even issuing a statement or making any moves to help in the case of Burmese-born US Citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung) who was arrested on Sept 3 as he arrived at Rangoon airport from Bangkok. See – Jonathan Hulland “As an American is Tortured in Burma, Where’s the Outrage?”
This article was published two days ago and has already been widely cited and linked on the Internet.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo of the NLD, Kyaw Zaw Lwin and all the more than 2000 political prisoners need to be free and able to freely organize and conduct their political activities. Otherwise 2010 will remain the farce it is.
I will be this statement to Amnesty International and other organizations and individuals.
I commend you for your spearheading efforts, but much more needs to be done.
The SPDC needs to be held accountable for its actions. Otherwise you are sending the wrong message.
Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)
Words and Images.

What follows is a comment I left on the Irrawaddy magazine website this morning, Oct 1, 2009.
Comment is queued for moderation at Irrawaddy site and sent to Wa Wa Maw (Kyaw Zaw Lwin’s fiancĂ©) and other dissidents.

I went to the Hearing. This is a fairly accurate record of what was said. (article by Lalit K. Jha)
Only Professor Williams among the witnesses spoke of gross human rights violations in Burma, saying "frankly, the (junta's) constitution is the worse I have ever read."
Williams is a well-known constitutional scholar based at Indiana University.
This provoked a loud guffaw from the back of the small room, which was packed.
Senator Webb needs to have more people on his panels who are strong supporters of democracy in Burma, so as not to become another laughing stock.
He also needs to go to Rangoon and rescue Burmese-born US Citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin who was arrested Sept 3 on arrival from Bangkok and has been tortured in prison. A living person is more important than World War II bones.
No mention was made by anyone at the Hearing about Kyaw Zaw Lwin's plight, which is a ramped up version of the sham trials of Daw Suu and Yettaw and is highly alarming -- in fact it is the junta thumbing its nose against US Government
Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--