Friday, July 23, 2021
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Due to Myanmar junta restrictions on aid delivery, UN HCR has to leave Mindat where fighting has started again,
was able to help only 50 families in town of 000s in forest in severe need.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Whole villages fled incld elderly, pregnant women, children, people suffering fr Covid. Villager who spoke to RFA worried abt increased transmission of disease. Put out appeal, but not much hope.
Copied and pasted below:
စစ်ကောင်စီဘက်က အထိအခိုက်များခဲ့တဲ့နောက် အလုံးအရင်းနဲ့ ပြန်ပစ်နေတာမို့ ဒေသခံ PDF ဘက်က ပြန်လည်ခုခံတာတွေ ရပ်ထားတယ်လို့ PDF အဖွဲ့ဝင်တစ်ဦးက ပြောပါတယ်။
" လက်နက်ကြီးတွေနဲ့ တအားထုနေတာ၊ They are pounding us with heavy artillery. သူတို့က စစ်ကူတွေ ရောက်လာတယ်လေ။ They have reinforcements သူတို့က ကုန်းကြောင်းအတိုင်း လာတာ။ They came by land routes. ဒါပေမဲ့ ရေကြောင်းကနေလည်း လှေတွေရှာနေကြတယ်။ But they are looking for boats to come by waterways. PDF တွေ ကလည်း စိုးရိမ်လို့ လှေတွေကို ဖွက်ထားကြတယ်။ PDF is worried and is hiding boats. အခုက တင်းမာနိုင်တဲ့အနေအထား ရှိတယ်။ Tension is likely to increase စစ်သားတွေက တပ်ကူတွေနဲ့လာတာဆိုတော့ အနီးနားက စစ်ကူတွေ ရောက်လာရင်တော့ ကောင်းမယ်။ As soldiers (junta) come with reinforcements, it would be good if we get help from neighboring villages. လူ အင်အား၊ လက်နက် အင်အား မမျှတော့လေ။ We are not well balanced as regards human and weapons resources ကျွန်တော်တို့က တူမီးလောက်နဲ့ပဲ ပစ်နေရတာ We’re just having to shoot back with tumee (flintlocks)".
ဒီနေ့ ဇူလိုင်လ ၁၈ ရက် မနက်ပိုင်းမှာတော့ PDF ဘက်က လက်လျှော့ထားတာကြောင့် နှစ်ဘက် အပြန်အလှန် တိုက်ပွဲတွေမရှိပေမယ့် စစ်ကောင်စီတပ်သားတွေကတော့ ရွာတွေထဲ ဝင်ရောက်ဖမ်းဆီးတာတွေ ရှိနေဆဲဖြစ်တယ်လို့ ဆိုပါတယ်။ July 18 morning. PDF has retreated so no new battles but junta (forces) going door to door arresting people.
ကလေးဘက်က တိုက်ပွဲတွေနဲ့ ပတ်သက်ပြီး စစ်ကောင်စီ ပြောခွင့်ရ ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ဇော်မင်းထွန်းကို RFA က ဖုန်းဆက်ခဲ့ပေမယ့် ဖုန်းလိုင်းဆက်သွယ်လို့မရပါဘူး။ Zaw Min Tun junta spox cld not be reached by phone.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Chao Tzang Yawngwe
July 25, 2004.
Yesterday a friend in the media sent me a short email note. “He passed away at 6.30 this morning (Sat). I have just talked to his brother Harn.”
No doubt she was preparing a radio tribute.
Eugene Chao Tzang Yawgwe, activist and scholar, was one of the sons of the late Saw Shwe Thaike, first president of democratic Burma that existed immediately after Independence from Great Britain. Eugene was an unusual human being who combined insights from experiences as different as armed struggle for the freedom of his native Shan States, to a later life of political activism and scholarship.
In addition his father the Yawngwe Saopha, (in Burmese -- Nyaungshwe Sawbwa) was the head of not the biggest but certainly the most powerful of the hereditary Shan States. My mother indeed, with her fond memories and love of the Shan States always referred to the Nyaungshwe Sawbwa as Sawbwa Gyi “the great Sawbwa.”
Together with the Mongpawn Sawbwa Sao Sam Htun, who died after the same assassination attempt in which Bogyoke Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi’s father died, Nyaungshwe Sawbwagyi probably was among the most progressive of Shan leaders and one of those who believed most in the Panglong Agreement.
Although to this day the spirit of Panglong, with its basis in racial and ethnic equality, can be said to be alive among those of us who believe in democracy, in Burma/Myanmar (Burma slash Myanmar, as a careful non-profit administrator says; very prophetic that “slash”) it is all but badly dead, mortally wounded.
Greatness is a matter of the heart and soul, of openness of mind, of magnanimity. Eugene’s family and mine go a long way back. When the war broke out and the Japanese army invaded, my father was an education officer in the Shan States. My parents were newly married and my mother had lost her father, of a stroke at sadness from leaving a home in Moulmein to looters. Nyaungshwe Sawbwagyi gave refuge to about 40 families like my parents – in the forest near a stream – Yatsauk (Lauksauk in Burmese). As a result my mother’s memories of the war were “like a picnic in the woods with wild birds.” Most of these families were Burman.
In Rangoon, Eugene and his siblings lived in a big wooden house, a haw or palace on Goodliffe Road. Due to his younger sister Ying being my classmate at school, I visited there once -- for the day, as we used to say. Other classmates of a gossipy nature would never believe it when I said everything was very calm and the Mahadevi and the other aunties and all the children and half brothers and sisters sat down and had tea together. Ying said “We’ll go and visit Eugene,” who was in a vast bare room, reclining on the floor propped up by triangular cushions which I did not know then were Tai(Shan) in style. Eugene in those days was slim and pale and looked a bit like the male version of the princess on a pea. Ying and I at that time talked almost all the time about our wish to become writers. Little did we know that life would give us more than enough material to write about. Sometimes, I think, too much. We did not chat with Eugene long. He was about 7 years older than us, and at that age 7 years is a vast gap. Ying and I were then about 14 or so.
I cannot remember now whether I visited the Yawngwe haw while my father was still alive or after he died. In any case, life began to change for all of us; for me because of my father’s death in a car accident and for the Yawngwes because of Ne Win’s 1962 coup. We lost touch after that and it was in the early 1980s, in America, before I was again in touch with Ying.
In the early morning of March 2, 1962, Ne Win staged his coup. The night before my mother together with Kitty Ne Win had been a judge at a beauty contest in which my friend Naw Louisa Benson was a contestant. In the morning we heard news of the coup on the grapevine and for the first time, that deadpan announcer’s voice on BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service) announcing the next decree from the top.
Eugene has written about or spoken about the time of the coup: The gunshots in the night (actually early morning) during which he rolled out of bed instead of standing up, a reflex that certainly saved his life. Then crawling to his father’s room. His mother was in England, seeking medical treatment for a gynaecological condition. In 2000 I also spoke to Patricia Eliot, Sao Hearn Hkam (Nyaingshwe Mahadevi’s) biographer. “Trish” told me that the family had taken refuge behind stacks of Buddhist scriptures that the Sawbwagyi had had printed for one of his voluntary positions in a Buddhist association.
Eugene related how he came on the body of his younger brother Sao Myee, on the lawn that morning, shot by the soldiers who came to arrest their father. To this day, whenever I look at the photographs in Eugene’s autobiography, The Shan of Burma: Memoirs of a Shan Exile, or Patricia Eliot’s The White Umbrella, my heart jolts when I see pictures of Myee Myee. He was the same age as my younger sister and if he were alive now he would be 57 or so.
When I met Ying again in Princeton in 1987 at first I was reluctant to ask about her family, especially Eugene. In Burma, the military government had published the information – that is, disinformation, that Eugene had fallen in battle, as a leader of the SSA (Shan State Army.) So it was only after our 3rd or 4th meeting that I broached tentatively to Ying “And Eugene?”
“What about him,” Ying said in her usual brusque manner, “He’s not dead. He’s alive and well in Canada.”
I knew I should not ask the details of how they got out of Burma, as it might endanger people who had helped them.
It was only in 1997, at a Free Burma Coalition meeting in LA, that I finally met up with U Eugene again. He did not seem much changed, smiling and laughing. His younger daughter, he said, takes after her aunt.
After that I’d see U Eugene every few years or few months. I interviewed him for radio and he wrote up a message in Shan. He said he taught himself Shan as a young adult.
In 2000 when The White Umbrella was published I was all set to go and interview his mother the Mahadevi. But she was starting to loose her memory and Eugene was out of the country traveling, and then I got sick myself, and so I returned the air ticket that work had issued for me.
I do regret it now.
But around 1995 I did have a chance to thank his mother in person for saving our family during the war.
1995 was the first year I went on the circuit, talking openly about my thoughts on Burma. Canadian Friends of Burma invited my mentors, Josef Silverstein and Ronald Findlay and me, to some of the first activist conferences on Burma, in Toronto and in Alberta. Since I have known Dr. Silverstein since 1984 and Dr. Findlay since the 1960s, it was good to step out onto the contentious Burmese arena with trusted mentors close at hand.
In Alberta I was standing at the podium reading my paper, when there was a soft rustling, like the sound of leaves in Autumn, riffled by a breeze.
“Riffled” I just see in my dictionary, is the sound of pages being turned quickly, and it sounded like all the 40-50 people in the room were turning over their notepaper at the same time.
I could not understand it; my paper must be boring them.
Then I understood as a diminutive figure with white hair walked in.
People craned their necks backward and stretched them upwards and whispered, “It’s her.”
I stopped reading as nobody’s attention was on me nor my paper anymore.
The Mahadevi was dressed quite simply, even shoddily or carelessly and her hair was no longer the jet black I remembered.
When she smiled one could see a broken tooth or two.
It seemed incredible that someone so elderly and no longer in a powerful position, could still have so much charisma.
At lunch she told me she had asked her son Tiger if this Kaung was the daughter of U Kaung, and on being told it was, she had come over.
Time was very short and I decided I must thank her for that long ago time when she and her husband looked after my parents.
Why, if my parents had died then I would never have been born.
What if I never saw her again?
And, in fact, I did not.
I ran after her into the ladies’ room, took her hand in both of mine, and thanked her.
After the conference, in the cold of a Canadian evening, she sat stoically in the cab of Tiger’s truck.
He had rushed into the seminar and forgotten to turn off his lights and the battery had run out.
Tiger being a geologist, the truck was splashed liberally with mud.
Ying told me in 1997 that the military had been mad at her mother because when she was an MP for the Shan States, her mother had first started to call attention to the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the army in the Shan States.
My last memories of Eugene are also happy ones.
In March 2002, the same trip indeed when we heard of the house arrest of Ne Win and daughter, at the end of a conference in Bangkok, U Eugene sat at breakfast near the swimming pool of the hotel we were all in. The Thai day was heating up and Daw Khin Ni Ni Thein and I were planning to go sightseeing in Ayuthya.
“Look” Ni Ni said, cocking her chin at Eugene, “always so niftily dressed.”
Eugene was wearing a silk shirt, whose colors shifted between peacock blue and purple depending on the angle the light hit it, the angle one looked at it.
“Shot silk,” I murmured.
Almost all his fingers seemed to have rings on them.
We smiled and waved at U Eugene and I wrapped some fruit in a paper napkin for our trip.
At the Burma Studies Conference in Gottenberg, Sweden in September of the same year,
Eugene, as activist and scholar, gave the keynote address. Some of the things he said that night still stick in my memory.
Conferences like that are more strenuous than most people think. For one thing there’s the months of preparation to do the research and say something meaningful about one’s chosen topic.
Then usually the events are crammed in so close within a few days that, as even my younger colleagues sometimes say, one needs to train like for the marathon to go to one of these.
As a result I was pretty tired by the time the dinner was over, and the keynote address was at night.
My limbs ached and my eyelids were ready to drop.
But I woke up with a snap when U Eugene started to speak.
He briefly related his life story.
His time with the political groups at Rangoon University, his time in the jungle with the SSA, exile in Chiangmai.
Of his decision to migrate from Thailand to Canada he said:
“Khun Sa wanted me to be his Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Since King Sihanouk ‘rescued’ the Red Khmer, he reasoned that I would likewise be able to clear up his opium warlord image and provide him with a mantle of legitimacy and respect. I realized that there was no way I could keep on refusing his invitation. So I left Thailand in 1985 and thus landed in Vancouver as an immigrant.”
Eugene ticked off the flaws of Burma Studies as a discipline.
As I feel he was right on the mark, I would like to quote at length on what he said.
Also that meeting in Gottenberg was the very first time that the old “Burma watchers” a group of people that Zarni called Orientalists, had sat down with activists for the very first time.
So Eugene’s remarks were very appropriate.
He said that activists were forced by circumstances to make decisions “up close.”
And so they lack an overall view.
“Scholarship on politics is important to obtaining a more comprehensive understanding of politics, to understanding the structures of power and relational dynamics within a power system.”
The flaws of Burma Studies as a field are
1. the politics of national unity
2. the international relations perspective which sees “Burma” as a monolithic nation state.
3. seeing society as undifferentiated
4. one dimensional analysis.
“Burma Studies is particularly weak in integration of theories with issues and problems.
“Burma Studies seems to float in a theoretical vacuum. It is based on West-centric models.”
“--- explanations offered by academics of chronic performance failure of Ne Win’s socialist-military regime do not shed much light in this regard. Failure is nowhere attributed to the failure or incapacity (more likely) of the regime to govern properly – but attributed to bad planning, corruption, drought, flood etc. And currently the humanitarian crisis, which is on everyone’s lips, has not been explained. It has become a given, something that simply is, that happened all of a sudden --- the fact that the ruling regime or government is the problem does not even enter the equation.”
At that very same conference, Dr. Alice Khin Saw Win, a physician, stated that 1988 and the social, political and economic disruptions that followed had a direct role in the AIDS crisis.
Dr. Chao Tzang Yawngwe concluded that memorable speech two years ago by saying
“To know what one is dealing with holds the key to effective action.”
As we go on with our lives, our loss as dissidents and activists are as nothing compared to the loss suffered by Daw Nu Nu Myint (Mrs. Chao Tzang Yawngwe) and her family. We should try to remember the humanitarian goals and the belief in freedom and democracy of someone like Eugene Yawngwe.
Copyright 2004 Kyi May Kaung
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