Friday, March 29, 2013

Burma's Muslims - a Primer by Andrew Selth

New Burma in one photo - not happy about this -

Kristallnacht in Burma - from NY Times

Sign a petition to Presdt Hamid Karzai to save ancient Buddhist site Mes Ayak in Afghanistan from Chinese copper mine -

Another Chinese copper mine where it should not be - at a 2,600 year old Buddhist site in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

K.M.Kaung -- "Aung San Suu Kyi -- a strange collection of clear victories?" First draft of article published in International Gallerie -

(An edited version of this was published in International Gallerie -)

During his historic six-hour visit to Rangoon, Burma, newly re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama mispronounced Aung San Suu Kyi’s name twice, calling her “Aung Yann Suu Kyi” – one almost saw Suu Kyi hiding her wince.
Yann means “reckless.”
Her real name is:
Aung San   from her famous father   the George Washington of Burma.
Aung = victory or victorious.
San= strange, glorious or unique, rare or scarce.
Suu — her own given name, based on the day of the week on which she was born, and the name of Aung San’s mother, whose father was hanged by the British during the Saya San uprising of 1920.
Kyi – based on her mother’s Monday-born name.  Kyi in Burmese means “clear”.
As Jack Healey, the former director of Amnesty International said, “We should learn how to pronounce her name correctly.”
Be that as it may, on Nov 13, 2010, a week after the rigged election, the Junta released her from her third bout of house arrest, which had started from a roadside ambush   and is now known as the Depayin Massacre.
Daw Suu was truly between a rock and a hard place.  She cannot be blamed for having sent out feelers that she could help get sanctions lifted in exchange for being treated better by the Junta, now hiding behind its front man, the so-called “moderate” PM turned President.
Thein Sein went to see her and for the first time in junta history, complimented her in a public space saying, "As a Myanmar citizen, I would like to congratulate her for the honors she has received in this country in recognition of her efforts for democracy.".
When Obama called her by phone this time last year, she had only to say “I trust him (Thein Sein).  I think I can work with him,” for the U.S. President to send Secretary of State Mrs. Hilary Clinton to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.
This unleashed an unreasonable euphoria which has only now started to wear a bit thin. 
Just this morning, Nov 29, at 3 AM in the dawn, the junta used deadly force to quell workers and miners demonstrating against the Chinese-owned Wampau copper mine in Letpadaung Township near Monywa.  Presdt. Thein Sein’s office says it (only) used tear gas and water hoses “in line with international standards” but Radio Free Asia reported that an expert said, “there is no way tear gas can start fires”and also others have noted the strange nature of the burns, which might denote some kind of chemical weapon.  Later, samples analyzed overseas confirmed it was white phosphorus that was used.  Eighty monk demonstrators were reported wounded and thirty hospitalized.
Aung San Suu Kyi went to Monywa and gave a speech in which she swore to help resolve the issue peacefully.

Earlier, BBC 4 uncovered mass graves in Western Burma, where a genocide against the Muslim Rohingya community has been going on since June, even as Suu Kyi travelled internationally and gave impeccable speeches.  In the northeast of Burma, the Junta, now in civilian dress, broke a 17 year ceasefire.
What are the Lady’s prospects in this boiling situation?
One should note, she did not win a majority in the April 1 “April Fools’ Day” by-elections — she won the majority of the few seats she and her party were allowed to contest.  Nevertheless, she campaigned all over the country and won once again — demonstrating her immense popularity.
But it is not about popularity, is it?
It is about what the Junta allows to happen in Burma.
What seems to have happened is due to a coincidence of wants and needs by major actors: Suu Kyi’s situation was a no-win one.
The Junta itself was said to have been scared of what happened in the Middle East, and wanted an exit and an out.
The USA and Europe are in the throes of a major recession — the United States itself hugely indebted to China, which is holding the bulk of its national debt or treasury bills.  The foreign media and the Burmese exile media are compromised as they have apparently traded access for “doing PR for the Junta.”
In November 2012, the Lady was losing patience again — she said, “Nothing will happen if the constitution is not changed.” She also said two days ago — “The military is already the most powerful entity in the country.  We in the parliament [hluttaw] should not make decisions that increase its power.”
Her prospects over-all are not good. 
One can argue that they never were.  I used to think she has a martyr complex.
She can surely win in 2015.  But then, what?
Every day on Burmese language news from VOA [Voice of America] and RFA [Radio Free Asia], we see tearful farmers whose land has been taken by the thousands of acres by the junta cronies.  We see miners in equal desperation.  We see workers, each one a Fantine out of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, who sold her hair, her teeth and her body to stay alive.  
Maybe the junta will let Suu Kyi win, and then let her “handle” these deep-seated structural and systemic (to do with the system) changes.
Then everyone will hate her.  Already there’s a growing chorus of those who think she did not speak up forcibly enough about the plight of the Rohingya.
Like all politicians, she will, when she comes to power, have to pay off supporters.  Then she can easily be accused of corruption as Benazir Bhutto was.
I don’t wish to sound flippant or disrespectful — she is one of my greatest heroes.
But some days I think she should leave and carve out a life for herself as an international figure who is deeply respected. 

There are speculations about the current government and Aung San Suu Kyi’s equation with it. The Irrawaddy highlighted the protest demonstrations against a Chinese-owned copper mine in Kyaukpadaung, Burma, quelled with the junta's old style pre-dawn raid – Is this "democracy?"
Aung San Suu Kyi declined to condemn the junta’s use of force.
One commentator says she is now in a zone of half-truths and there are attempts at co-opting her further.
For her safety, I think perhaps she should leave for other engagements; there are opportunities in heading a Burma Foundation overseas like the NCGUB (National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma – dissolved in late 2012) which had its own think tank division, or in academia, where there is a Chair of Democracy in her honour at the University of Kentucky in Louisville.
She should live and work overseas, even teach sometimes – as His Holiness the Dalai Lama or A. K. Sen (Amartya Sen) does – or head a foundation like former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
This will be controversial. There will be a lot of people who want Daw Suu to do it all:  Take all the risks and do all the heavy lifting. 
I may be criticized for my views but I say it from the perspective of an exiled dissenter, and for the sake of her hopefully long life.

Kyi May Kaung is a US-based poet, visual artist and novelist, with a doctorate in Political Economy from the University of Pennsylvania. 

For Burma, she hopes that the change will happen with full protection of everyone's rights, especially those of farmers and workers.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kyi May Kaung's comment on Ko Aung Zaw's "Buddhist" thugs make a comeback -

in Irrawaddy Magazine:

See the inverted commas in the title? 

I agree with Ko Aung Zaw -- this has "military plot" written all over it - "Let them want democracy, they will have to call in army to restore order." 

Anyone know if Meikhtila is a predominantly NLD town?  I know in Helsinki in 2008, when we last met, Ko Aung Zaw suggested that in the Nargis obstruction of cyclone aid, it was suspected that the regime wished to punish the Delta Karen -

These incidents are also to show the world, people, that the army can do what it likes - security standing by is also a trademark - until final shootings - see 1962, 1970s U Thant episode, 1988, 2007, list goes one -

Ko Aung Zaw, this time you have really told the Truth - now what? 

Also folks, I don't know if you have seen these, but there are items going around the Internet about how bad the gold merchant couple were, complete with photos of the gold bracelets involved.  Now who would have these but?? - 

According to a reliable source, this couple, perhaps junta agents or mercenaries, have already been "fed to the mob".

There's also someone named Tony Carlucci - who is writing that "Aung San Suu Kyi's Saffron Monks" are doing this.

I don't think people know that there are monks and there are monks, and in Burmese Buddhism anyone can put on a robe and take the vows for as short as 24 hours or a few days.  And there are many sects within the mainstream - Mandalay's Yahan Pyo were always militant - Anyone can buy a robe and shave his head - does not need to go into an ordination hall.

It is well known also that Ne Win Government wanted to control and register monks -

and also USDA (Union Solidarity Development Association) a. k. a. Hitlerite Brown Shirts - were active up to 2007, and 2008, and there is also Possessors of Strength (Swan Ahr Shin) -  and in 1988 they were called Lon Htein - so, one can't suppose that these have all been disbanded like lightning and all disappeared.

If it is any comfort to you, (poor comfort of course) Nazis remained under cover in W. Germany decades after Hitler committed suicide and Allied Armies marched in, and some were even in judiciary - this is well documented.

About 2009 I heard a rumor that Swan Ahr Shin leader/founder had been eliminated as he "knew too much.'

In 1988, after the clamp down or shoot down, Ms. Maureen Aung Thwin wrote in Foreign Affairs Magazine - "Once again the military has held things together."

Kyi May Kaung

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Quick take - on Meikhtila crisis -

Meikhtila - UN's V.J. Nambiar says he saw no mutual hatred between Muslims and Buddhists -

Daw Suu says security forces don't know how to handle crowds (?) - "in past just handled by shooting -"

The question is

1.  Then why is this happening if there is no bedrock of mutual hate.

2.  Why are they asking Daw Suu when they should be asking U Thein Sein?

Daw Suu understandably rambles as she tries to say something meaningful that won't hurt anybody -

meanwhile junta too is saying there are elements behind the unrest.

Kyi May Kaung -

see -

Burmese Neo-nazi group rising against Muslims - from Asia Sentinel

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Writer, dies at 82

New York Times on Meikhtila race riots - AP reporter threatened -

Who was Alan Paton? -- excerpt from Edward Callen's Introduction to 1987 edition -

While teaching  .  .  .  Paton wrote and discarded two novels of white South Africa.  (Through a shared interest) in summer camps for disadvantaged white youths - he met Jan Hofmeyr - who was to become South Africa's most prominent liberal statesman - 

.  .  .

In 1934 Hofmeyr held cabinet portfolios  of Education and the Interior.  .  .  .  When supervisors were sought -- to transform existing reformatories into schools - Paton applied and was offered Diepkloof - a large black reformatory that housed 400 boys aged 9-21 

Its buildings were old - Mahatma Gandhi had been jailed there in 1913 - sanitary arrangements were primitive -

-- boys were locked in 20 to a cell - with a container of water and a bucket for bodily needs -

in 3 years Paton was able to transform the place -

in 1946 he undertook a tour of penal institutions in Europe at his own expense - while doing so, in Norway, in an hour before dinner, he was moved to write the lyrical opening of Cry the Beloved Country -

(the rest is history, as they say.)

Alan Paton's note on the 1959 edition of Cry the Beloved Country: -

It is some eleven years since the first Author's Note was written.  The population of S. Africa today is estimated to be about 15, 000, 000, of whom 3,000,000 are white.  1 1/4 millions are colored people, nearly 1/2 million are Indians, the rest are Africans.  I did not mention the Indians in the first Author's Note because I did not wish to confuse readers  .  .  .  but the existence of this minority is now much better known  .  .  .  because their position has become so desperate under apartheid legislation.  .  .  . 

Alan Paton 
Natal, S. Africa.

As Meikhtila burns in Burma - I remember this - Alan Paton, forward to 1987 edition of Cry the Beloved Country -

Alan Paton's introductions to reprints of his novel "Cry the Beloved Country" about S. Africa -- a compilation - I bought my copy in 1996 when the movie came out.

-- From 1987 edition: Cry the Beloved Country, though it is a story about S. Africa, was not written in that country at all. It was begun in Trondheim, Norway and finished in San Francisco on Christmas Eve . . . Maxwell Perkins, sr. editor of Scribners, accepted it at once --

Perkins said, one of the most important characters in the story is the land itself -- "

Paton said, this passage in the book is where the title comes from --

Cry, the beloved country for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

Alan Paton, Natal S. Africa.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Comment left on my friend's Kanlaon Blog - "the disshionary"

Ooh - I love this - like a friend in USA trying to test me by reading out from the said disshionary - Little did she know that I read the disshionary for fun in Burma - so there!  In fact in Burma I was the walking disshionary.

Note, photo and paintings Copyright Kyi May Kaung

Memories of Meikhtila - fiction excerpt from K.M. Kaung's upcoming novel Wolf -

Memories of Meikhtila - here is an excerpt from my upcoming novel Wolf -

I just happened to be editing it today -

"My childhood was both ordinary and extraordinary.  When I was five, Father stopped going on operations.  He never rose to a post higher than lieutenant, but he got a nicer position in an army truck depot in Meikhtila.  Ko Ko, Inn Inn and I could visit with one of Father’s cousins named Korea.
Uncle Korea was in a trial marriage with a woman and had a small grape plantation.  It wasn’t the custom to try things out this way, but Uncle Korea was modern and was trying living with a woman to see if he liked her. 
Meikhtila was a big town in central Burma where all the vegetable and fruit trucks came down from the Shan Plateau.  Rice grew in the paddies of Kyauksè nearby, which had been famous since the eleventh century; the time of the first Burmese kings as the great granary of Burma.   We always had enough to eat.  As we lived on the big military base, there was never a problem with things like getting petrol, burglary or security issues.   All of us went to a good school on the base.
One of Mother’s cousins was head of the tank corps.  We were poor compared to the commander, U Ah Par.  But U Ah Par’s wife, a doctor, allowed me and my brother and sister to come and play in their house and garden in the tank corps compound.  Sometimes we were even invited to meals.
I liked it best when Uncle Ah Par was at home, got drunk and told us stories about tanks

Based on real people, but they are all dead and the names etc. are changed - it is of course not my own story, but the "life" of a fictional 1988 character named Wolf.

copyright Kyi May Kaung - a.k.a. K.M.Kaung

Asian Human Rights Commission says Presdt Thein Sein too quick to declare emergency

VOA news on Meikhtila unrest etc -

Two Aung San Suu Kyi films will air on HBO

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi makes a veiled comment with ref. to anti-Muslim riots in Meikhtila, N. Burma -

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi makes a veiled comment about racial strife in Meikhtila to reporters in Naypyitaw  --
translation:  "I am telling you now, just because a lot of people do it, and the majority does it, does not make it right.

"For instance if everyone was hitting one reporter, it is still not right."

See RFA TV 3-22-2013

Brushless painting using gravity

Martial Law declared in Meikhtila - etc from DVB

Who or what is a political prisoner - DVB interview with Ko Bo Kyi of Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, Burma

Friday, March 22, 2013

Harn Yawngwe's Euro-Burma office says there is a genocide of Rwanda proportions going on in Burma -

via Maung Zarni --

 Rohingya home burning - file photo from Arakan last year.

cut and paste follows -

Harn is younger brother of late Eugene Yawngwe - Nyaungshwe Sawbwa's family -


--- On Fri, 3/22/13,  wrote:

> From:
> Subject: Rwanda-like genocide of Burmese Muslims is unfolding in Burma, according to Harn Yawnghwe's Euro-Burma Office based in Rangoon,
> To:
> Date: Friday, March 22, 2013, 10:39 AM
> from:
> According to Harn Yawnghwe's Euro-Burma Office, the
> "Rwanda-like
> genocide" of Muslims is unfolding in Burma.
> I will be the last to defend the NLD on its leadership and
> organizational failure.  But the ultimate
> responsibility to protect
> all citizens - yes, including the Burmese Muslims - lies
> squarely with
> Naypyidaw's generals and ex-generals.
> Burma's security forces are DOING NOTHING to stop the
> killings of the Muslims.
> Fire engines are seen to leave the Muslim homes
> burning while they
> attempt to extinguish Buddhist homes in Meikhtila.
> Here is the EBO's Urgent Warning - Spread the word.
> "EBO is very concerned about recent violence in Burma –
> especially as
> there are concerns that it could turn into a Rwandan-like
> genocide.
> Please see the following information sent by a reliable
> source.
> (From Mandalay)
> Students at a madrassa in Dahattan were being evacuated in
> four cars
> yesterday. The last car did not make it to safely. The
> children
> attempted to flee and hide behind bushes etc but were caught
> and 24
> were killed.
> Pamphlets and DVDs of an anti-Muslim nature have been
> distributed all
> over in Mandalay. They show Muslims beheading those of other
> faiths
> etc. Some Buddhist monks have been preaching anti-Muslim
> sermons.
> NLD members and youth leaders are behind every anti-Muslim
> disturbance. They have formed a group of 100 vigilantes. The
> leaders
> are Dr San Hlaing, Mai Pa (woman), Tin Myo Naing, Thiha
> (released from
> Putao prison), and Tin Ko Ko (MP U Win Htain’s personal
> assistant).
> These people are absconding and U Win Htain says he does not
> know
> their whereabouts. In the recent NLD intra-party regional
> elections, a
> Muslim woman leader was elected by 61 votes but was barred
> from taking
> her position.
> Residents of Muslim neighbourhoods were evacuated under the
> protection
> of Buddhist youths who are their neighbours. They raised
> their hands
> in the photo to show that they are unarmed.
> Further details will be sent to me from the affected people
> themselves.
> (Please note that his is not an attempt to smear the NLD but
> to reveal
> what is behind the disturbances. You may substantiate this
> from other
> sources).
> ***
> I have talked on the phone to a Muslim lawyer at a safe
> place in Meiktila.
> He said the killing, burning and looting is still going on
> in Meiktila
> as well as other towns and villages. There are over a 1000
> Muslims
> taking refuge in the football field with no food. Food
> cannot be sent
> to them because of “security”.
> The death toll is 47 including 11 women, 10 madrassa
> students and 5
> teachers. The presence of the NLD MP, 88 Generation and even
> Mandalay
> Chief Minister Ye Myint seem to be of no avail. People are
> being
> killed right before them. Security personnel are doing
> nothing.
> Military security and police special branch only take video
> recordings. An investigation commission is being talked
> about.
> Fire engines only douse burning Buddhist homes, while
> Muslims homes
> are left to burn.
> The couple from the gold shop who are in police custody have
> been
> handed over to a mob.
> The lawyer compares this to the Rwandan genocide and adds
> that it
> seems to be well planned. A monk who had been arrested for
> similar
> acts in 2003 and subsequently released had been preaching
> the
> ‘cleansing of Muslims from Myanmar’ for months now. He
> is pleading for
> diplomatic missions and international organizations to come
> to
> Meiktila before it is too late.
> If you would like to be removed from or added to this list,
> please
> email
> Euro-Burma Office
> Square Gutenberg 11/2
> 1000 Brussels, Belgium
> Tel: (32 2) 280 0691 / 280 2452
> Fax: (32 2) 280 0310
> Email:
> Website:
> The aim of the Euro-Burma Office is to promote the
> development of
> democracy in Burma by assisting the Burmese democracy
> movement to
> prepare for a transition to democracy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reviews of Geoff Ryman's The King's Last Song

Religious fragment from K.M. Kaung's novel Wolf

Embedded deep in the innermost portion of the stupa was the htapanar taik or jewel chamber, which no one could reach now.  It was said to contain eight strands of the sacred hair of the historic Buddha, Gautama ― who had once been Prince Siddhartha in a city state in northeast India, shielded from the world by his father the King ― before he saw The Four Signs:  A sick man, an old man, a rotting corpse and a religious medicant.  Due to The Four Signs he renounced everything and became a wandering ascetic and then the Buddha after his Enlightenment.  

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

The historic Buddha, Gautama or Gautama Buddha -

Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

-- yes, Gautama (the Buddha) was formal title -

-- here I am speaking of the historic Buddha, Gautama -

(who was once Prince Siddartha)

so I am putting in a comma -

the other Buddhas were in Gautama's past lives - Maitreya is to come - the Mahayana Buddhas were not human beings who were recorded in history, though they may have been real -

Kyi May Kaung

Fragment from my novel Wolf, describing Shwedagone Pagoda -

.  .  .  built up in layers over the centuries by famous kings and queens who kept encasing the old in the new, each time making it bigger and taller.  There were unknown kings and queens from more than two thousand years ago.  They were mostly Mon-Khmer.  There must have been tens of thousands of other religious patrons of many different ethnicities and city states and common people who contributed a lot, but no one knew who they were.

Kyi May Kaung

Comment on "agents not filtering out e books" of dubious quality -

Agents sometimes make mistakes, but on whole an agented book from a traditional publisher has a better chance - just because generally they know what they are doing -

but I don't think one can always wait for them - lot of agented books have flopped too - some badly written - some badly edited (even bestsellers)

This discussion needs to differentiate from point of view of readers (wading through slush) and point of view of writers (get it out there vs keep looking for agents)

Why bookstores going out of business

Why Facebook etc cannot replace a blog or traditional networking/publishing -

Stones - each one different.  Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Why Facebook etc cannot replace a blog or traditional networking -

I just found that cross posting probably has brought up traffic to my blog - from places where it was non-existent before - such as China.

In general - blog hits from USA and China are up drastically in last couple of days -

Now I don't know how to look at number of hits on Facebook -

I think ideally one should be using ALL the communication channels effectively -

No time?? - Well, if you want your message out, you'd better make time.

Georgia O'Keefe said,

"It takes time to see a flower, the way it takes time to have a friend."

Why would I "friend you" for nothing? 

She also said, "No one sees a flower (now) - well, I will paint them big."

Kyi May Kaung

Page views of this blog up in USA and China -

I mean up overall, not up at the expense of blog hits in other countries -

I believe it is due to my Facebook presence -

Western Writers of America choose a bio of Geronimo as best book -

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--