Wednesday, January 26, 2011

George Orwell's - Burmese Days - use of Burmese words

new Burma documentary directed by Nic Dunlop -

new government for Burma (not) - from Forbes -

Human Rights Watch 2010 Country Summary- Burma

Not much different - probably worse.

Daniel Pedersen on Karen genocide -

Death of a (Burmese born) Marine - English version - VOA

Ben Kiernan - Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice

Cambodian holocaust survivor - the late Haing S. Ngor

President Obama's State of the Union address -

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New fiction out of Burma - "Burma on slow march to democracy."

Note by Dr. Zarni of LSE, posted here with his permission --

Date: Sunday, January 16, 2011, 8:45 AM

Dear Friends,

This is what passes for as obviously worthwhile reading on a research
email list - substance-less, distorted explanations, patronizing
fictional tale, which among other irredeemable flaws, has turned 30-40
percent of Burma's ethnic minority/nationality groups invisible. For
instance, Aung San's assassination in July 1947 was made to have a
linear link with the coup of 1962. The characterization of the
Burma's Independence Army (which evolved in various stages into
today's categorically oppressive, semi-colonial instrument of the
increasingly feudal ruling class) as a small elite army was as
fictional as one could get, unless postal clerks or high school
drop-outs or migrants or unemployed - many of whom came to form the
backbone of the Burma Army in its formative days -- were redefined
retrospectively as 'colonial Burma's 'elites'.

What a stupid argument to make that it is extraordinary the regime
allowed the mother-son (of two) reunion, or out-of-touch with the
reality that ASSK is just one of many citizens under dictatorial
rule!! Not that I am given into hero-worshipping and myths of
democratization by big leaders - but factually speaking, she is
IRREPLACEABLE - there was none before her and there will be no others
like her after she leaves this world. She would have been consigned
to oblivion or simply 'disappeared' as has many a dissidents, were she
just one of 50 million ordinary Burmese.

Too many factual errors or analytical or conceptual rubbish to go
through it argument by argument, or 'facts by facts'.

One of the tragedies of Burma is not simply that the country has been
- and will continue to be - treated as nothing more than what I call a
'brothel of resources and strategic asset', but the oppression,
poverty, and misery have been used as 'raw materials' by "drive-by
experts and accidental Burma watchers". All that that, that is
required is that you have the command of an international language,
preferably and most influentially, English and that you have a very
active imagination.

These days Burma experts and Burma watchers are a dime a dozen.
George Bernard Shaw unfairly denigrated teaching and teachers -
(dominated by females whose job description in his days included
scrubbing the floor of classrooms or not being seen in public with a
romantic male partner, among other sexually repressed Victorian and
sexist things) - when he said 'those who can't do anything teach'.

I would say if you didn't succeed at anything in life do Burma or do Myanmar!

Enjoy the reading!


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Here is another 'fiction' from the author of "The Lizard Cage".

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 5:48 PM
Subject: [Burma-research:1045] FWD: Connelly, "Burma on slow march to democracy"

FWD: article by Karen Connelly, "Burma on slow march to democracy":
Acclaimed writer says Burma's junta key to country's future

Pathein Halwa recipe - responding to blog reader -

I don't know where you can find it - but Charmaine Solomon's cook book Asian Cooking (not sure of title)

has recipe for sanwin makin.

I think Pathein Halwa (halva)is made from glutinous rice powder, water, oil, sugar or cane sugar (brown) and a whole lot of stirring,topped with roasted poppy seeds

try looking for recipes for mohn ka lar mair(Portuguese dohl dohl) on line -

sorry not be to of more help.


Who will pay for Kate Middleton's wedding?

Monday, January 10, 2011

VOA Burmese TV - New Year's Statement, Wishes from Aung San Suu Kyi -

rfa interview of KIA (Kachin Independence Association)

informal summary/translation -

we will continue as is our principle, and defend ourselves against spdc's MIGs etc, whether we can or not - it is a matter of we will if we must.

-- for a more complete version, contact RFA or get someone with bilingual capability to help you.


Time magazine - Aung San Suu Kyi's release eases pressure for sanctions -

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi - released from house arrest into larger prison called Burma - painting copyright Kyi May Kaung.,8599,2041236,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

I told you so!

The release is just a cynical ploy. (see my article in PeaceXPeace and on this blog).

This "wait and see" attitude can only benefit the junta.

Blog note by Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Jan 10, 2011

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Mr and Mrs O at Gandhi's Grave

Ghost of Gandhi says

"Hmm - I like this couple a lot better than the Burmese junta supremo and his wife."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Reality and Credibility Gap - the Burmese Democratic Exile Government's plan of 2009

In relation of course to the reality on the ground in Burma.

This "ideal state of affairs" or still picture was generated with the help of several well-regarded Burma experts (NOT the usual culprits - the regime apologists or sanctions critics).

As a contract worker, I helped pull this together, but was not shown the final result, after I "deposited" my final compilation as of mid-March 2009.

As a result and as pulled together by the NCGUB's current policy mavens and policy wonks, whomever they may be -

at least in the economics section, I found a confusion between "systemic" which is what I and the other economists meant and "systematic." They are not the same.

Besides that it should be "stabilization and structural change" not one as part of the other but 2 separate programs, one short term and immediate and one long term. In the final piece there is a confusion between the two.

Other than that, it was gratifying to find many of the Experts hard-earned truths (several are banned from Burma forever for seeing and writing about these truths, such as farmers' loss of land)still in the words they wrote initially in the finished manuscript/online publication.

However, ultimately the Exile Government or NCGUB "owns" this piece, as the commissioning agency, as Dr. Sein Win's signature testifies.

I think the liaison done on this was poor - many experts I suggested including many from the member agencies and two or 3 of high standing from Indiana University (one Dr C.K. Williams eventually testified before Congress) were rejected for no other reason than paranoia on the part of the liaison person in charge.

I still do not know if this document in its entirety has been read by Daw Suu and the NLD. Now that she is "free" it should be sent to her again, and she should be given the opportunity to surf the web like any other world citizen. It looks like during her 7 years of arrest, she mainly only could listen to Burmese language radio as broadcast from overseas. Most of that is fine, but she needs more.

From long experience I know that Burmese language radio stations overseas tend to focus on news items, not analysis and the education of most broadcasters leaves much to be desired, leading to many faux pas.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)
January 6th 2011.

Reuters video from day of Suu Kyi's release - Nov 13, 2010

how to compromise - Biden and 3 year old :)

Praise reference article - Release of Aung San Suu Kyi: A Cynical Ploy by Kyi May Kaung

Man selling Loy Kratong (Kahtein) candles at Emporium in Bangkok - photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

From a friend who will remain anonymous:

"wishing you a very happy new year 2011!! may the blessings of Lord Buddha be upon you.

thks for yr great article re- daw assk and her safety. i am also of the same thinking abt security and safety for her. recently my friends (soon to release a hurman rts docu film) met with assk and interviewed her at the NLD office. they were fortunate to be able to lv w/out being questioned. went in on tourist p/ports and took the plane right after the interview. the driver of the van they had fr the tour agency was questioned and released. just goes to show nothing has changed!!

it is so strange that no one except you has talked abt assk's safety!! i saw the video of her walk in bogyoke mkt...that was really frightening!! crowds close enough to do bodily harm...

with metta,

In PeacexPeace - Aung San Suu Kyi's Release: A Cynical Ploy? by Kyi May Kaung

Monday, January 03, 2011

Funnies - My Blackberry is Broken -

The Release of Aung San Suu Kyi: A Cynical Ploy by Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at actor/philathropist Kyaw Thu's art show - copyright Anonymous Blogger Burma.

On November 13th, a week after the Burmese junta, called the State Peace and Development Council, held a nation-wide election that was widely condemned as not free, fair nor inclusive, and so a sham election, the SPDC released acclaimed pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
She had spent 15 or the last 21 years under arrest or house arrest. Most recently she was arrested during the Depayin Incident in Central Burma when her entourage was viciously attacked by hired thugs near the town of Depayin on May 30th, 2003. The day after the incident, independent observers from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon went to the ambush site, saw and photographed the debris, including bloody clothes and footwear strewn about, and confirmed what had happened. Since the Depayin Massacre she had been seven years under arrest in Insein Jail and then in her own home on Inya Lake.
Last year, a Mormon man named John Yettaw, widely believed to be depressed and delusional, allegedly swam to her house from the lake side, to warn her that her life was in danger, he said because he had had a vision. In a kangaroo trial, Suu Kyi was accused of harboring an uninvited guest and her jail term was again increased. According to an eyewitness who was there, it had all the elements of a show trial, down to the cheap, gold-colored curtains. Yettaw was then deported. An anonymous blogger wrote that Yettaw had not swum to the lakeside house at all, but that a taxi driver had dropped him off at Suu Kyi’s University Avenue gate. Yettaw’s ex-wife in an interview said that her ex-husband was not in physical shape to swim and a representative of the international scuba diving association, PADI, told an Irrawaddy magazine reporter that Yettaw would have had to have been a triathlete to have done what he said he did, carrying all the items he allegedly took with him, including a chador and several religious books.
This was only the latest in a long list of junta scheming, which included taking over a decade to draft a “constitution” and holding a “referendum” days after Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy Delta in May 2008 and the country was still reeling, the junta itself blocking international aid.
As an ardent fan of Aung San Suu Kyi and a true believer in Democracy and Human Rights, and as a mother myself, I can’t help but be happy for Suu Kyi to see her “free at last” and reunited with her younger son Kim Aris, after ten years, which must have felt very long, however brave a front she puts on it.
But I also can’t help feeling that all of this, the junta’s letting her go and giving her son a visa, is all a cynical ploy to deflect attention away from their sham election and the military force with which it is cracking down on the ethnic minorities who refused to lay down arms and join its Border Guard Force plan.
In September 2007 Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, a strong supporter of Suu Kyi, and said to be one of the principal formulators of U.S. policy towards Burma, said during the Saffron Revolution, when monks marching in the rain chanting the metta or Loving Kindness Suttra, were cruelly suppressed, that for sanctions to be lifted, at the very least “Suu needs to be free.” Perhaps that is why the SPDC thought that this single gesture would be sufficient for it to reach its primary goal of having the sanctions against it lifted.
The SPDC has been doing very well in international trade with China, India and the ASEAN nations, in the last eight months alone, exports earning USD 5.5 billion and the junta buying imports for USD 3.3 billion.
However, no one but the military government knows its actual expenditures and economists of integrity are agreed that it is likelier that the proceeds from the sale of natural gas, jade, beans and teak, are likely to be put into the junta VIPs’ personal offshore accounts in Dubai and Singapore.
In spite of the junta claiming that sanctions are “not hurting” they may still be hurting in terms of prestige or visa bans applied to the top cohort of junta leaders, their families and the crony capitalists such as Tay Za, who benefit most from the junta’s so-called open door trade policies, which are open to them but not to the average Burmese man or woman. For this reason, the regime apologists cum sanctions opponents remain active, regularly trotting out “reasons” why sanctions should be lifted, however ridiculous or illogical their arguments may appear. Indeed, Dr. Sean Turnell, a well-regarded economist working at Burma Economic Watch at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, has often stated that the junta is its own worst enemy. People suffer more because of the junta’s central control in all matters including economics since Ne Win’s first coup in 1962, than from economic sanctions, which are now finely targeted financial sanctions and in any case do not include humanitarian aid. Aung San Suu Kyi specifically brought this out in an interview with academics from the London School of Economics, recently.
The military brought the sanctions on themselves by their mafia-like behavior. If they stop acting the way they do, and allow real reform to take place, the sanctions could be lifted immediately. However, several Burma experts have warned that there is a danger in lifting them too soon. I feel the same way. Once sanctions are completely lifted, the United States and other countries will have lost the only handle or stick they have to punish the junta, and it will take time to put new sanctions back in place.
The so-called ceasefires with some groups that were brokered by the then most powerful man in Burma, Brig. Gen. Khin Nyunt, in the nineties, have also long since unraveled, while Khin Nyunt himself was arrested and his vast economic empire dismantled in November 2004. A well-regarded Burmese economist visiting DC incognito at the time told me “The sums of money involved in the north in the opium, methamphetamines, teak and jade trades would blow your mind.”
Recently, in the Burmese style of Wikileaks (there have also been real conversations between U.S. diplomats and foreign leaders and ambassadors regarding Burma in the Wikileaks themselves), a video surfaced recently on U Tube which seemed to show Khin Nyunt being taken from his lush (but tasteless) villa by military intelligence agents, most of whom had worked under him when he was head of the MIS or Military Intelligence Service.
Some, including the Irrawaddy Magazine correspondent, thought this was his original arrest in 2004, but to me, he looks too old and too grey-haired, much changed from how he was in 04. I think this is a recent arrest or at least a removing from house arrest either to Insein Jail itself or to another, more remote prison.
Khin Nyunt is known as the man who brokered the “peace accords.” However, these were more in the nature of deals, as in “you stroke my back, I stroke yours.” It allegedly involved allowing the Wa to deal in drugs and bear arms in Rangoon. This was before 2005 when the capital was moved to Naypyidaw or King’s Royal City, formerly called Pyinmana.
Nor do I think Khin Nyunt was or is the “moderate” that the junta apologists are always sighting through rose-tinted glasses that see the junta in a good light. There are probably no young Turks in the army, or they are too scared to move.
When Khin Nyunt was deposed, approximately about forty of his minions and co-capitalists in his faction in the northeast regions were purged. Someone at National Endowment for Democracy asked me if there could be a comeback.
I think not. Comebacks do not happen in Burma.
The video later came on U Tube again in a more complete cut, with (still low) sound added. The arresting officers dally a bit outside Khin Nyunt’s massive front door, asking for a key (they did not kick or shoot the door in) then Khin Nyunt himself comes out looking pale and in his at-home civilian clothes. He says he needs to take all his clothes, etc. with him, as “when my sons were arrested it was like that too, they were told to bring nothing, and now as a result they don’t have anything.” He then said he was worried about his business interests.
Khin Nyunt while in power had one “dialogue” with Suu Kyi, but she herself said recently that it was not substantive. I think it was more of a photo opportunity when Daw Suu, dressed in pink, went to dinner with the generals.
I believe Khin Nyunt might have been removed to safer “protective custody” so he won’t be another rallying point, and so as a disgruntled army man with vast (former) patron-client networks, he won’t swing or switch to working with Suu Kyi.
Since her November 13th release, as befits her spotless pedigree as the daughter of Burma’s founder Aung San, and with her own innate flair, in spite of many moments where she could have hit wrong notes, even tragic ones, Daw Suu has presented us observers daily with an almost endless feast of well-considered sound bites and memorable images. At last count over a week ago, there were a total of 183 photographs of her on-line, the most endearing being the ones with her son and the monks and nuns she donated robes to. Today there are more, most notably the Time magazine cover photograph and a profile by renowned photographer Platon.
I think Kim Aris was given a visa and allowed to see his mother because the regime thought he would try and persuade her to leave, or to leave Burma with him. He returned to the UK on the 6th of December. However, it does not look like Kim asked his mother to stop her political activity or to leave Burma as the junta must have hoped.
In the past also, in the nineties, the SPDC gave visas to Suu’s late husband, Dr. Michael Aris, apparently for the same reason, but would not allow him in any longer later once it became evident that far from persuading her to leave with him, he was in fact highly supportive of everything she did. As a result the SPDC even denied him a visa in 2000, after he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was obviously dying.
Kim, now aged 33, has turned out to have inherited his grandfather Aung San’s and his mother Aung San Suu Kyi’s incandescent charm. Instead of persuading her to leave or looking defeated, broken or accommodating, as soon as he set foot in Rangoon airport, Kim took off his over-shirt, revealing the fighting peacock emblem of his mother’s party, the National League for Democracy, tattooed on his arm. Throughout his visit, though he kept a low profile and Suu has been very careful what she says, mother and son nevertheless made many public appearances, each one perfectly staged, delighting photographers.
Suu’s beauty, her sense of fashion and modesty, the colors she chooses to wear, even the flowers in her hair, are perfectly calibrated. Now she has a tall, handsome son who looks like his father and wears Burmese clothes. A movie is being made about her life. Arm in arm mother and son walk happily at Rangoon’s Shwedagone Pagoda where she made her debut speech in 1988, when she entered the political arena for the first time. She visited an AIDS hospice run by the NLD’s Dr. Phyu Phyu Thin, who also was once imprisoned herself for her beliefs. The junta retaliated immediately by putting out an order evicting the AIDS patients, but so far the public, international outcry has made them reconsider. Dr. Phyu Phyu Thinn continued to go to the Shwedagone Pagoda with Daw Suu and her son, and still continues her work.
Watching Daw Suu again at her gate, smiling, laughing and talking to the crowd, I had a strong sense of déjà vu and foreboding. “I’ve seen this before. How many people in the crowds are junta agents? What if . . . ” ran through my mind like a bad sound track.
I was in Bangkok with my friend Kendra in Sukhumvit watching the continuous coverage on TV beamed from the Democratic Voice of Burma based in Oslo, Norway. Kendra said, as if reading my mind, “Yes, you have seen this all before. You’ve seen the fake elections before also, in 1975. By now they must be myet say saba hmwe soo te.” (The eyelash sticking in their eye must be irritating them mightily.)
In 2004, I was in Sydney, Australia, when Kendra, then working in radio broadcasting there, played a tape for me that was recorded just a few hours before the Depayin Massacre took place in central Burma on May 30th, 2003. We’ve seen many photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi as she was addressing thousands, just as she does now, in Monywa, near Depayin, where she was later ambushed about 8 PM by thugs led by two bogus monks who had felled a tree and laid it across the road. I met two survivors in Washington DC, including U Khin Zaw, who had escaped over the Thai-Burma border and testified before Congress.
On the tape, apparently the M.I. was having trouble clearing a pathway through the crowd. Daw Suu, her voice full of laughter, said in a teasing tone, “It seems they are having some trouble (clearing a pathway) over there. Let’s show them who has real authority here. Who is really in charge.” Then in an exaggerated manner she said, “Please would you clear a way for those men.”
Apparently, the way was cleared.
This way of “being shamed in public” by a longyi-wearing woman, is of course anathema to Burma’s macho military “culture.”
I don’t mean to say the attack that came a few hours later after Daw Suu’s jocular interchange with her fans, was not pre-planned and pre-meditated, and that this alone triggered the ambush. At that time, the thugs must already have been taken out of prison (this has been standard practice since 1988, to use hardened criminals for these attacks), fed and paid and given intoxicants, the trucks hired and the thugs put to their grisly contract task.
In 2007 another broadcaster, I shall call him/her Kendra too for convenience and safety, told me that criminals had been fed a “final” meal of dhan bauk -- Indian ceremonial rice with chicken -- and given alcohol to prepare them for their ghoulish task of beating up Buddhist monks, in what would later be referred to as the Saffron Revolution.
So Aung San Suu Kyi was punished for “not behaving well.”
Since her release, Aung San Suu Kyi uses a cell phone. And it has become surprisingly easy for people outside Burma to call her number and talk to her or interview her. I cannot believe that this is not intentional on the part of the supreme power holders of Burma. To date, since her November 13th release, Suu has talked to Laura Bush on the phone, and been interviewed by BBC and VOA Burmese Services, Irrawaddy magazine and Norway based Democratic Voice of Burma, Time magazine and others. Even by a group of naïve American high school students, who unwisely mentioned on tape “how this came about.” Platon in this week’s cover issue on Aung San Suu Kyi, describes the simultaneously “dreamlike and nightmare quality, both at the same time, of being in Burma.”
Daw Suu even has a weekly call-in radio show with “listeners” which Radio Free Asia publicized as if the listeners were from inside Burma. However, to date, the people who “call in” for Q and A, are in fact all located outside Burma. Most are “professional dissidents” so to speak. The questions are phrased in the loose form “Dear Daw Suu, what do you think of national reconciliation, what should we do?” etc. The questions and Daw Suu’s answers are pre-recorded and not live and presented in a very Burmese, and I think disrespectful, “two clowns and a lovely princess style” of Burmese anyeint shows, the presenters’ goofy voices contrasting badly and sadly with Daw Suu’s dignified, well-considered and discrete answers.
So far she has not missed a beat, but sooner or later I think the junta will find or invent a “fault.” They have put the onus of delivering such a weighty thing as real democracy on her frail shoulders, while they themselves only promise a fake “democracy” – a “discipline flourishing” democracy.
This is, of course, an oxymoron, much like the real-fake capital city (Naypyidaw), or the real-fake “constitution or referendum” or the fake-authentic Bagan temples, or the fake Shwedagone Pagoda in Naypyidaw, the junta’s built-from-scratch Brasilia-type capital.
I found that I am not the only one who fears Aung San Suu Kyi will be assassinated.
Time Magazine’s Hannah Beach asked Suu if she would consider wearing a bullet proof vest. An Irrawaddy magazine article says most people in Burma think she will be assassinated.
It is high time she does not push her luck further. As they have amply demonstrated, the junta can invent a reason to “punish her” any time they want. They tend to be inventive in evil ways.
She may not like this sort of advice.
I firmly feel that Daw Suu has some kind of survivor guilt since her favorite brother drowned a few feet near her when she was a child, and her brother barely an infant. She has said, “One moment he was there, and then there were just his slippers floating among the water hyacinth.”
Daw Suu appears to want to be a martyr, just like her martyred father Aung San.
But she should try to live as long as she can, just like any other human being.
She should accept the Canadian Government’s recent invitation to come and personally accept their honorary citizenship at a special ceremony. She should go to Oslo and accept her Nobel Peace Prize in person and confer with the other Nobel Peace Laureates, the Elders, in person.
If she goes to all the countries and universities that have given her prizes over the years, she will be traveling for a long time. She should go on an extended sabbatical to write down her democratic ideas as an eminence grise. Like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and International Campaign for Tibet, she would be much more effective working from outside. She should base herself in a Western country, at a major research and teaching university.
She should negotiate the terms of her travel and medical checkups overseas so that her property in Burma cannot be touched, and her followers in prison are all released and left unmolested.
To date there are 2203 political prisoners.
She should not try to be “just a beautiful corpse” as dissident Rachel Goldwyn said when she herself negotiated her own release from a Burmese prison in the year 2000.
Fellow travelers with Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD have told me, “But it’s her wish. If she leaves she won’t be Aung San Suu Kyi.”
In part, I am writing this article because I tried to send her warnings through several trusted channels, but the message “has been sent already by others.” Dissident Htay Kywe in a remote prison sent word warning her not to travel, as she might be killed in a Depayin-style ambush.
But there is no reason on earth why the next attempt on her life would be during a road trip outside Rangoon. It could come in any form at any time. I don’t want to go into fictional and speculative details, as it might give the junta ideas.
Like many others, I don’t want to wake up one morning, get on the Internet, and find out that like Benazir Bhutto, she is gone.
When Suu Kyi was caught in the paddy fields beyond Rangoon in another junta instigated incident around the year 2000, I called 1988 student leader Moethee Zun, who was then on the Burma-Thai Border in hiding from death threats himself,and asked him what would happen if Daw Suu were to die. The police women who had forcibly held her down and brought her back in a car to Rangoon had bruised her wrists and arms. Moethee at the time said, “If that should happen there will be a great outpouring of grief in Burma.”
It was 12 noon in Washington DC and 12 midnight in the Thai jungle. Moethee at the time did not explicate on what could happen, but I think we all know already.
Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.) is a U.S.-based analyst and writer. Dr. Kaung is currently affiliated with Vahu Research. The opinions expressed here are her own and do not represent those of any organization.

Burl Ives-Ave Maria