Saturday, August 24, 2013

Unusual rain and floods in Rangoon -

"Yesterday's rain in Rangoon was no ordinary rain -- it was pouring of water from heavens."

Don't go out in car if water too high - can drown - or be swept away. Might not be a bad idea to keep a boat and inner tires handy. I told home long ago to get a boat. After New Orleans, people were told to get ladders to climb to roof from outside, and axes to split through ceiling to attic, but no attics in Burma, no rescue will come and no helicopters. Maybe you should just emigrate. I was in New Orleans 8 months after disaster and saw all the devastated neighborhoods, the ones where people died marked with an X. It's a bowl-shaped city and the levees broke. They are still inadequate. With global warming, there will just be more and more water as time goes on.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Join me on Facebook -

Reflection on the Internet - by KMKaung

It amazes me how many talented Burmese-born people there are -- some inside the country, some outside.

And this in spite of being so downtrodden by the gov.

Imagine what we could be without the SOBs.

Long live the Federation of the Internet.

And besides, as responsible citizens of the Internet too, we should keep our own yards clean and be civilized in our discourse with each other.

All rabid dogs will be bumped immediately in the interests of public safety.


Bilingual poetry reading - Burmese original

Don't go to Burma -

Don't go to Burma.
The political situation is heated up again -

extremist Buddhist 969 groups have been sponsored by junta and attacking Muslims

Two days ago UN Human Rights rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana's convoy was attacked by 200 people in an orchestrated attack reminiscent of May 30, 2003 attack on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (now called Depayin Massacre) -- They also sponsored "demonstrations" against Quintana in Sittwe and Meikhtila.

Reporting sparse because 1. Burmese language overseas media already bought out by junta. 2. international media still wants to think there is "reform."

If you have made travel plans already, cancel them.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Poem - The Horrible Custom of Viewing - by K.M.Kaung


Please don't do
that horrible custom of

I have seen
more dead people than I want to.

Seal the coffin
that's the best.

Green funeral is better.

Don't let the funeral directors
talk you into, a pink satin-lined coffin with mirrors, the most expensive.  It ain't Buddhist and it ain't necessary.

Remember "The American Way of Dying."

The cheapest box and cremation is best.  If  you don't need my DNA for later.

In the taxi she kept saying, "Christians can't be cremated.  Christians can't be cremated.  Have to wait for the Judgement Day."

But I'd rather not be laid to rest in Yay Way, so to minimize the risk, of dying there accidentally, I can minimize the time I might spend in the em country.

I only go to places where I have friends and I am not afraid of dying.

As a graduate student, student insurance covered
the cost of transporting
the remains home.  Some were able to take
advantage of this.

As my father's long time student said,
"You can judge me
the four nails of my coffin are driven."

As my father said
"Best you remember me
as I was
when I was alive."

Kyi May Kaung
Photo, Home grown tomatoes in a cap, Copyright LT.

I have a starring role on Twitter -

Saturday, August 17, 2013

From NPR - Burmese rohingya refugees subjected to new black slave trade conditions

NYTS Book Review

Roberto Bolano - late Chilean writer - from wikipedia

Bolaño's writings repeatedly manifest a concern with the nature and purpose of literature and its relationship to life. One recent assessment of his works discusses his idea of literary culture as a "whore".
Among the many acid pleasures of the work of Roberto Bolaño, who died at 50 in 2003, is his idea that culture, in particular literary culture, is a whore. In the face of political repression, upheaval and danger, writers continue to swoon over the written word, and this, for Bolaño, is the source both of nobility and of pitch-black humor. In his novel "The Savage Detectives," two avid young Latino poets never lose faith in their rarefied art no matter the vicissitudes of life, age and politics. If they are sometimes ridiculous, they are always heroic. But what can it mean, he asks us and himself, in his dark, extraordinary, stinging novella "By Night in Chile," that the intellectual elite can write poetry, paint and discuss the finer points of avant-garde theater as the junta tortures people in basements? The word has no national loyalty, no fundamental political bent; it's a genie that can be summoned by any would-be master. Part of Bolaño's genius is to ask, via ironies so sharp you can cut your hands on his pages, if we perhaps find a too-easy comfort in art, if we use it as anesthetic, excuse and hide-out in a world that is very busy doing very real things to very real human beings. Is it courageous to read Plato during a military coup or is it something else?
Stacey D'Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review, 24 February 2008[31]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Than Shwe aid and land in NPT -

N. Korean defectors will testify in Seoul on prison conditions & torture for UN

Situation update from Sittwe, Arakan - Burma

More situation update from Arakan - Sittwe -


Security Forces

14 August Entire police team changed. The entire Police team’s personnel has changed and been replaced with Police from Yangon, Myanmar Police Force Regimen # 31. Police activities of patrolling and fixed positions have not changed.

Groups of civilian-dressed on-duty Police personnel carrying Police firearms have been seen patrolling the West Sittwe Eid conflict area Muslim villages and camps in groups of about 20. There is concern from some Rohingya that this action is meant to provoke further Rohingya violent reaction by simulating Rakhine attack mobs.

Police demand daily food provisions

As previous Ohn Daw Gyi NaSaKa Camp personnel did, the entire Police force has demanded daily rice and meat provision from Rohingya villages and IDPs in the Western Sittwe IDP area. The acting Baw Du Paw village and camp administrator has been financing the Police food demands through his own private funds. The acting administrator is the son of the Ohn Daw Gyi Village Administrator who had furnished the 30 NaSaKa personnel’s daily rice and meat demands out of his own private funds, creating much financial debt. Prior to 9 August 2013, Police personnel made daily patrols into Sittwe Muslim IDP camps and left with food provisions.

Police interference and harassment at DaPaing Hospital

Seven 9 August Baw Du Paw Market Police shooting victims have been receiving medical care in DaPaing Hospital. 13 August 3 of these victims with more serious injuries were sent from DaPaing Hospital to Sittwe Hospital. The reason for the transfer is uncertain but it was not because they needed surgery.

Police demanded that the 4 remaining Baw Du Paw market shooting victims be transferred to Sittwe Hospital. All 4 patients refused. The Police have demanded that the DaPaing Hospital Health Assistant keep these 4 patients at the DaPaing Hospital, not let them leave the hospital and notify the Police if they try or do leave the hospital.

Neil Diamond sings "Be!" from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach -

Monday, August 12, 2013

Have read Rosamund Bartlett's book on Tolstoy -

I have finished reading Rosamund Bartlett's Tolstoy:  A Russian Life -

However, there were some difficulties or small discontents.  The English sometimes sounds strange to me, and I cannot get used to her saying "near to" instead of "close to" - and then from the very beginning, she refers to Leo or Lev Tolstoy as "Tolstoy," even when she is writing about him in a family setting and calling the other Tolstoy family members - Masha, Tanya, Sergey, Sonya etc. and even while talking about him during his childhood and adolescence.

Then, in the extended family, there are two Mashas, two Tanyas, two Sergeys, two Levs, and when the sentences are close together - it's not clear who she is speaking of.  It becomes like reading a Russian novel, including War and Peace or Anna Karenina.

The only other biography of Tolstoy I have read is Love and Hatred:  The Stormy Marriage of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy, which like the movie The Last Station, focuses on the conflict in their later years between Leo and Sonya and the "cog thrown in the wheel" by the arrival of his major disciple and business partner, Chertkov.

I have not read the Jay Parini novel of the same name on which the movie was based. 

The Bartlett book goes into a great deal of detail on Tolstoy's social and political activism and his involvement with "marginal" religious sects,and  his criticism of the Russian Orthodox Church aligned with the Tsarist government, that ended in his excommunication shortly before his death.

The epilogue after Tolstoy's funeral about his family's problems with the Bolshevik government and Lenin and Stalin occupies approximately 30 pages of a 500 page book - and there are copious notes and a bibliography. 

What I find  a bit disconcerting, is Bartlett assumes the reader already knows about recent Soviet and Russian political and economic history.  And the viewpoint is mostly from Tolstoy's point of view.

For instance, she writes "Stalin assumed power" but while Tolstoy's family members, Chertkov and others, were struggling to survive and publish his collected works, the Great Purge, and the Great Famine were going on in the 1930s.

It would have been "nice" to have a summary of the Great Industrialization Debate, regarding how Stalin planned to proceed - and the way he connived, arrested and executed people like Nikolai Bukharin who was subjected to a kangaroo trial and executed, and only rehabilitated in the Gorbachev era.  Lenin died a natural death, but Trotsky was exiled and then assassinated (with an ice pick) in Mexico.

It plays out metaphorically in George Orwell's Animal Farm.

In Animal Farm the innocent people struggle along like the big strong horse and die of exhaustion. 

Bartlett only mentions NEP or the New Economic Policy. which was Bukharin's idea, in passing, when she writes that Chertkov thought he'd have a little less central control of his publishing enterprise during that time.

But the brief thaw did not last.

Of course, adding all that would make the Bartlett book longer, but I think her aim was to present Tolstoy's thoughts and actions on a broad canvas, and without an explanation the aforementioned economic and political changes, it feels as if the book was hastily finished towards the end, and the true irony of Tolstoy and his life's work is not adequately portrayed.

The changes to socialism were in large part due to his proselytizing, and yet all the family property was nationalized, even though by 1917 Tolstoy and his heirs had already given away one third of their land already.

His daughter after three bouts of prison had to leave the USSR in 1929 for good, and never returned.

Today there are a few Tolstoy families remaining in Russia and about 300 descendents scattered all over the world.

Reading this book made me think about Burma, socialism and exiles a lot, but that will be another post.

Kyi May Kaung.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sittwe Arakan update from Rohingya Vision -

10 August 2013 SITUATION UPDATE:West Sittwe Muslim Restricted/IDP Area

The District police (old NaSaKa) are still at the ODG police station.
Today, IDPs have surrounded the station and police have been shooting into the crowd to disperse the Rohingya.   The Rohingya have stayed in place.   Because of communication shut down there is no news of the police shooting today has injured or killed more Rohigya.  The Muslim ODG Village Admin and has been at the police station since yesterday morning.  He is surrounded by the police inside the station and has not been allowed to leave.  Any of his phone communications has been monitored.  So, there is no information about the condition of 2 injured out of 4 kept at the ODG station and confirmation or denial of possible rape and detention of 2 Rohingya women.

Based on the reliable information report I distributed 9 August 2013, there is no change in confirmed or suspected death toll.  The death still remains- 2 confirmed dead- the initial dead body Photo 1157444_373673732758790_1436930031_n.jpg found at ODG police station and 1 of 7 shot in Baw Du Paw market, 2 believed dead- the 2 of 4 shot by police when ODG IDP's tried to retrieve dead body found but bodies still in ODG police station.  The whereabouts and condition of the 2 of 4 ODG shooting victims who authorities said were to have been taken to Sittwe remain unknown.  The 5th person shot when the District police arrived in ODG was taken to Da Paing hospital by Rohingya community- he was shot in the chest, not sure of his condition- the first photograph in this news article is the chest wound of this 5th shooting victim.  The 6 or 7 BDP assault victims who survived have been taken care of by Rohingya community members at the BDP mosque compound.
Some of 6 out of 7’s photos 1002513_392572897531604_1143949026_n.jpg, 1150177_392572927531601_1367369680_n.jpg

2 additional victims probably at DaPaing Hospital

The stories about 2 women raped yesterday morning and kept at ODG police station are RUMORS that have not been proved or refuted.  

U Shwe Hla, Aungmingalar corrupt Rohingya USDP member and military/govt informant and co-conspirator who turned U Kyaw Hla Aung in, came to the BDP this afternoon.  At the burial of the 1 of 7 BDP victims that died, U Shwe Hla remained in the military vehicle but had an IDP intermediary tell the BDP IDPs at the road blockade that the Yangon Ullama wanted them to take down the blockade because it made them look like terrorists.  Because of the fear of looking like terrorists, the BDP IDPs started taking down the road blockade.

Meanwhile the ODG police had detained several ODP Rohingya. This afternoon, Rohingya IDPs found out that a police vehicle took detainees via the Set Tet Maw Gyi (STMG) Road, i.e. around the BDP roadblock, to Sittwe.
This morning, that police car was seen in DaPaing and had 8 Rohingya, which included one woman.

So, IDPs set up a road blockade in STMG and the BDP IDPs rebuilt that road blockade.  BDP IDPs called Yangon Ullama who denied having sent any message to them regarding road blockade.

Angelina Jolie Wikipedia -

Friday, August 09, 2013

Famous 12th century poem translated by Kyi May Kaung

Famous  Poem - Dhammada - (Dharma) by Ananta Suriya

Dhammada – A 12th century Burmese poem – translated by Kyi May Kaung

Dhammada (The Nature of Things):  A Poem Dispelling Anger, by Anantathuriya.

For someone
to rise in life
someone else
must be destroyed
this is Dhammada
the nature of things.

In his golden palace
by pomp and courtiers
circled by
his ministers
happily residing
luxuriously, pleasantly
the great rich king is
but a bubble rising, for a while
on the ocean’s surface. 

A lifetime

Even if
out of kindness
I am not killed
but let go now --

cannot escape
everyone’s strong body is
is apt to betray one
inevitably –
all living beings.

Paying my respects
I beg of you
in Samsara, if in
future, Your Majesty and I
should meet again
an instant

I wish
no revenge, no retribution
I honor you
my King, I truly
forgive you.

Thwé thi Annissa, gnar khantar tee.

Blood is impermanent
my physical

Translation copyright Kyi May Kaung

Commentary from Burmese Classical Poems, compiled by Friedrich V. Lustig, Buddhist Archbishop of Latvia, who lived many years in exile in Rangoon, Burma from the Stalinist Soviet regime:

“Anantasuriya was a chief minister in the Kingdom of Pagan (now spelled Bagan) under King Naratheinkha (1170-1173).  When as a result of a palace revolution, Naratheinkha’s brother Narapatisithu seized the throne, Anantasuriya was ordered executed.  On the eve of his death, he wrote this classical poem entitled Dhammata (The Nature of Things) which is one of the literary treasures of the world.”

Inside vs outside - public interchange from my Facebook -

Actually another grey slow sad day - 25th anniversary of 8-8-88.
I remember it well, even though I was outside Burma by then --
1Like · · Promote ·
  • Clint Chapman Deeply respect you are with the people, Ms. KMK.
  • Kyi May Kaung Thank you, Clint - Maybe because I am a poet and artist and hypersensitive, I suffered greatly at a distance - I talked about it a lot in my radio programs - also when I wrote my novel Wolf, which centers on a fictional 1988 hero, I had to be in many people's heads, or shoes, and sometimes I cry when I have to write or edit a scene. Some people do not understand, maybe they think writing should be "cute" like a cartoon, and one young woman said, "Aunty, your writing is full of corpses." I did not know what to say - I based some of the scenes on things told to me by eye witnesses, some at first, second or third hand. Or I re-imagined things like Sule Pagoda road and the shootings. I have also met Burton Levin, US Ambassador at the time, and many others, in person. It's the job of an artist to be able to convey it. There's a story that the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova was lined up for bread in a concentration camp, sent there by Stalin, and another starving woman came up to her and said, "Can you describe this?" and she said, "Yes." Some people, like Solzhenitsyn or U Win Tin have come out of long stints in prison, then written it all down in 2 weeks. I thank many friends, like DTS, who used to meet me at Trenton Station to go visit his Mom in Princeton, for listening patiently, while I railed on and on. As one of my disstn supervisors, the late Hebert Levine, a Soviet expert, said, "You'd better care deeply (about your subject matter) or you will never get it done." Some people think dissidents do what they do because they are rich, or have nothing better to do, but last year I found out a woman doing activism for U Gambira, was waiting for a kidney transplant. I invited her to dinner at a Gala, and she was so happy that day because she had found a donor - imagine - dialysis and a full time job, and not much money and still making postcards to publicize U Gambira's plight thousands of miles away. Once I spoke up because a woman was prejudiced for no reason against someone quite severely disabled, who struggled to speak, and I got quite angry and said, "You are out of line," because she came in to where 3 of us paper supervisors were marking papers, and said, "She doesn't deserve a prize, she is suffering from xyz disease," and she heard it in a dorm! She could not even say what disease it was, and besides, we are/were not judging her health, we were grading her academic paper. Maybe that's why that non-profit did not call me back, but I could not let an injustice happen right under my nose. Lots of things like that -- sometimes the victims themselves are stunned by the direct attack, and make no move to defend themselves, and an old woman like me has to wade in and defend them. -- I cld go on and on but had better stop.
  • Evelyn Fischbach I know all about hypersensitive-not easy is it?
  • Ta Emi For those of us who live afar and love our homelands dearly tend to follow everything that is happening there. Sometimes we know a lot more about the situation than those living in the midst of it, because we are freer to listen, to think, to investigate, communicate and write.
  • Kyi May Kaung Thank you Ta Emi - that is what I found even when I was outside Burma for the first time, in Gomulka's Poland in 1969. My time (30 years) in USA is so much more well informed - and by now I have an Ivy League Ph.D. in Political Economy and am a professional Burma Watcher - But a lot of people retain the parochial Burmese "world view" or rather frog in the well non-view. There is a lot to be said for exile. Beginning from Dante's exile.
  • Kyi May Kaung to Victor Hugo's --

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Just left on Irrawaddy site ref their excellent (but old) interview of Christopher Gunness of Burma 1988 fame -

Just left this on Irrawaddy site ref their excellent (but 10 years old) interview of Christopher Gunness see below -

This is an excellent interview and Gunness is a decent truth speaker - a true hero - However, the interview, though for the history books, is already ten years old -

Where is he now?  Why did he leave BBC? 

What about that woman who was head of BBC Burmese and fired allegedly because she was a double agent - I have it on the best authority from an international correspondent via a close friend, that a dissident was killed due to her leak, and she is now on board of Prospect Burma -

What's this??

You should have tried for a new interview of Gunness - It's your job. 


Quote of the day from Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is within Us.

Quote of the day - from Tolstoy - The Kingdom of God is within Us -

Boston Quakers' Convention -

   "Boston, 1838.

"We the undersigned, regard it as due to ourselves, to the cause which we love, to the country in which we live, to publish a declaration expressive of the purposes we aim to accomplish and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward the work of peaceful universal reformation.

"We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government. We recognize but one King and Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of mankind. Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all other lands. The interests and rights of American citizens are not dearer to us than those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism to revenge any national insult or injury…"

Discussion on Tolstoy - from my Facebook page -

Quote of the day - Count Leo Tolstoy on poetry -

Poetry is the fire burning in a person’s soul. This fire burns, warms and brings light . . . There are some people who feel the heat, others who feel the warmth, others who just see the light, and others who do not even see the light . . . But the true poet cannot help burning painfully, and burning others. That’s what it is all about.

Leo Tolstoy
Diary entry 28 Oct. 1870
As quoted in Rosamund Bartlett, Tolstoy: A Russian Life.
Like · · Promote ·
  • Myo Nyunt Kyi May, still the poet, scholar activist and a good daughter of Burma. With Metta 777 77 Perth
  • Kyi May Kaung You have to read that Tolstoy bio - now 300 descendents spread all over the world -
    Today is the 100th anniversary of Leo Tolstoy’s death. A century on, he is still...See More
  • Kyi May Kaung You would like Tolstoy, no wonder Lenin lionized him but his children had to flee in 1917 - Maybe I will make my own pilgrimage to Yasnya Polyana one of these days. He just wasn't a writer of fiction and an "empty theorist" - he went all over Europe looking at schools (like my father did) and he set up schools for his serfs, and he freed his serfs before the Tsar did - and he used his influence to write letters abt individual cases, but still a serf got executed for slapping an officer - I don't see how he could not have become a writer with all the death and injustice around him - He lost almost all his older generation family members and 3 infant children bf he was 40. Truly a person ahead of his time. The books is also good because it sets his life in context, with the early reformers (Decembrists), the Crimean War, his War & Peace research abt the Napoleonic War (from which he described the Russian victory - and now the famous 1812 Overture comes into context) - and he also foresaw a famine in the eastern part of Russia where he bought land, wrote a letter to the Tsar !!!, raised money and had food/grain delivered - And I am only 1/2 way through the book. But is was very hard on his wife who became a sort of child-bearing machine - That part of the story is in the William Shirer book and the movie with Helen Mirren.
  • Kyi May Kaung and he collected his own statistics - to prove there was a famine going on.

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--