Tuesday, April 06, 2021

From 2013--Ron Zakreski--On a Short Leash: Detained in Burma.

I've just read this book and I recommend it highly.

It's probably self-published, so suffers from lack of good copy-editing, but is otherwise well-written, and well observed of an excruciating 17 days in detention.
Zakreski's Burmese is obviously very challenged and his translations and spellings for Burmese words and phrases not accurate and garbled.  E.g.  tamay saan for htamin sar (eat rice), place names, and even the word longyi (sarong) wh he spells loungee--which I have never seen anywhere before, though lungi is common in India and Sri Lanka.

By Burmese prison standards, which is not saying much, his experience was mild, but Burmese prisoners held in the next (office) room were beaten up badly, put in chains and treated like non-humans.

Zakreski describes his 17 days of hell vividly, the popping sounds of close gunfire, the camp being hit by RPGs.

I bought this book because the opening looked interesting, and his experience was not headline news at the time, so I missed it.

He was arrested for wandering into Burmese territory at Maesod.  The Burmese side of the Moie River is called Myawadi.

It was 2011, when Burma was supposedly starting to open up and move to democracy, but now that "Myanmar coup" has become another catch phrase,  it bears reading.

To date the Feb 1 coup has killed 557 people, 43 of them children.  2600 have been arrested.

2011 may have been Zakreski's good luck time.

I was impressed by what the Thai Border Police did.  They nabbed a Burmese official shopping in Mae Sot on the Thai side in retaliation, and insisted on keeping him 3 weeks as Z. was under detention in Burma 3 weeks, even though Z asked that that person be released.

Because the story is compactly and chronologically told, with news dispatches inter-spliced at the right places, it is easy to follow.

A psychiatrist by profession, he also analyzes himself moment by moment.

Stockholm Syndrome?

It made me remember the geckos of my childhood and times in Burma--

they go, Tauk te, Tauk Te, Tauk te, and then grrrr

but I never could find them.

Kyi May Kaung