Archive for October 2007

Mr. Gambari and Japan appeals Burma to initiate Dialogue with opposition

October 26, 2007

According to the UN News Service reports released today, The United Nations Special Envoy for Burma – Mr. Ibrahim Gambari and Senior Japanese officials has appealed to the Burma’s ruling military junta to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the opposition party to resolve the ongoing crisis there. Ibrahim Gambari told media persons in Tokyo, that, “The Government and the opposition must sit down together and discuss the future of their country.”    

While in Tokyo, Mr. Gambari held meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, Vice-Foreign Minister Osamu Uno, and Deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka to solve the deadlock on Burma. As per the UN News, Mr. Gambari and the Japanese government appealed the Burma Government to utilize the available opportunity generated by the recent crisis to start a meaningful dialogue with the opposition without delay and pursue an inclusive process of national reconciliation.. 

They also discussed Japan’s readiness to contribute to international efforts to assist Burma in meeting the humanitarian and socio-economic needs of its people as the country takes concrete steps to accelerate its transition to democracy. It is important to note that recently on 16th of October Japan suspended its $ 4.7 million aid planned for a business education centre at the Rangoon University campus after the gruesome killing of AFP Japanese photographer – Mr. Kenji Nagai on 27th of September 2007. 

Before arriving in Japan, Mr. Gambari earlier met with leaders in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and China. As per the earlier news, he is expected to return to Burma in the first week of November. Which would be his second visit to the country since the military junta began using brutal force to respond to peaceful reverend monks protests in August-September.   

UN Secretary General’s Concern:    

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who dispatched Mr. Gambari as his Special Envoy to consult with regional leaders on Burma, has also called on the Government to “seize the opportunity to take bold actions towards democratization and respect for human rights.” 

UN Secretary General further said while releasing human rights report that, “Unless the Government decides to open up and broaden the process that is to define Burma’s future, the demands for greater inclusiveness, participation and transparency in order to accelerate the transition to democracy and civilian rule are likely to continue.”  

The Secretary-General further adds that recent events constituted a “serious setback” for the country, as the Government’s repressive response to the demonstrations comes at a time when Burma is striving to move forward towards national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy.     

According to the UN News wire, the Secretary-General feels deeply concerned about reports of continued human rights violations, particularly the excessive use of force and arbitrary detentions in the wake of the demonstrations, and the large number of individuals arrested without due process.    

Right to Protests in Burma:   

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the situation of human rights defenders – Hina Jilani also expressed her concerns about the ongoing situation in Burma, calling it “the most glaring illustration of the suppression of the freedom to protest.”    In the same news release of UN, She said yesterday that, “Exercise of the right to protest plays an important role both for the promotion and the protection of human rights.” She was speaking at the General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, known as the Third Committee. She further adds that, “Where States have enabled the realization of these right, values of democracy; pluralism and tolerance have gained support widely and successfully.”    

(The End)   

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Junta Minister meets People’s Queen – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi but lacks warm

October 26, 2007

Today, Burma’s ruling military junta’s official newspaper – “The New Light of Myanmar” (NLM) has published photo news of a meeting between “People’s Queen” and “Asia’s Symbol of Democracy”– Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. U Aung Kyi, the recently appointed liaison minister of ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). According to the New Light of Myanmar of 26th of October 2007, the yesterday meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and liaison Minister of Labour of ruling SPDC took place at Seinle Kantha Guest House in Rangoon from 2 pm to 3.15 pm.

However, the meeting of junta’s appointed minister with Daw Suu Kyi had been reported yesterday evening in various media reports but the official acceptance of much needed meeting had been missing. Burma’s leading and authentic news group based at Chiang Mai, Thailand, ‘the Irrawaddy’ reported today that, spokesperson of Burma’s main opposition and Daw Suu Kyi’s party  National League of Democracy (NLD) – Nyan Win has welcomed the talks held on 25th of October and said that, the meeting shows progress and was the first in a series of dialogues. But he also demanded transparency in the meeting process and clarified that, unfortunately NLD is unaware of the topics of the yesterday meeting. He also said, that, “before the meetings, we want our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to be allowed to meet with her colleagues first and also be set free from house arrest.”    

US official reaction on 25th of October meeting:   

Meanwhile, reacting on the said meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Junta’s minister, the US Department of State (USA) Spokesman – Mr. Sean McCormack, in his daily press briefings on yesterday (25th of October) evening said that, “first of all, I asked some folks about this and we haven’t been able to confirm that that, in fact, happened. We’ve seen the news reports. We’re trying to nail it down. Look, I think President Bush, the First Lady, Secretary Rice have been very clear about our desire to see meaningful democratic political dialogue and to see the Burmese people actually represented by a government that reflects their will and desires, which they don’t have that right now.”   

Military Junta’s lacking warm:     

However despite the positive step towards much demanded dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and SPDC for genuine national reconciliation from international community and high office of the United Nations Secretary General, the military junta has continued today with its propaganda tactics of indirectly defaming NLD without naming it in its lead article entitled,   “May Buddha Sasana be flourishing and perpetual-III,” written by – Po Ye Chan, which shows lack of warmness towards meeting process and difference in words and deeds.

Without naming NLD, the article written by Po Ye Chan on 26th of October in NLM says, that, “Certain internal politicians and various party groups have employed all means to organize the monks. They have instigated the monks to make them take interest in politics and participate in the political activities under their control.” It further negating the truth of deep rooted simmering discontent towards military rule in Burma goes to the old method of even abusing reverend Monks who participated courageously in August-September revolution towards freedom in Burma. And, accuses reverend Monks of bribery against basic ethos and principles of Theravada Buddhism and great vision of Bogyoke Aung San on monk’s role in world history. It writes that, “One day protester monks of about 300 were walking in procession from north to south on Botahtaung Pagoda Road. On reaching the point between Merchant Street and Strand Road a monk with fair complexion and plump body was seen distributing K 1000 notes to each of the monks,” as the world’s media footage of large scale participation of monks could be only realized through money?      

Moreover, it has also continued today with publishing military sponsored propaganda news of support rallies for National Convention and drafting of constitution towards democracy stair of so called seven-step genuine democracy, which shows lack of genuine warmness in the objectivity of meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Junta appointed minister. It is also important to note that, on 23rd of October 2007, the NLM published  article appeared in Japanese media – ‘Shukan Shincho Weekly’ to defame people’s queen of Burma- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi through the former Japanese ambassador to Myanmar – Mr. Yoichi Yamaguchi’s writings entitled, “Foreign Countries one sided erroneous views on Myanmar Affairs.” Burma Review will shortly publish, answer and unearth the grand strategy of Japanese career diplomat – Mr. Yoichi Yamaguchi’s intention of writing against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and truth behind Mr. Yamaguchi’s thought, which is far from reality as proposed in the said article.      

(THE END) 

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Crime against humanity under the ‘Shadow of Lord Buddha’

October 20, 2007

On 18th of October 2007, first time, military junta’s official mouthpiece – “The New Light of Myanmar” recognized Daw Aung San Suu’s writings and her analysis on Bogyoke Aung San views on politics and religion to persuade reverend Buddhist monks of Burma to remain silent on the question of Burmese people’s freedom and defend their crime against humanity under the Shadow of Lord Buddha. In an article published in the name of Pothudaw Yay Chan entitled, “Elements harmful to Dhamma and political opportunists”, while quoting, Daw Suu’s book – “Freedom From Fear”, it attempted to prove that, monks should not get involved in politics as even Bogyoke Aung San desired for that.[I] So it becomes important to explore and analyze that, what was Burma’s maker – Bogyoke Aung San’s vision on reverend monk’s role in the society and what is Buddhism all about on this issue, as well as what Daw Suu wanted to tell Burmese people and world in “Freedom from Fear and other writings”?     

Although, these sorts of propaganda tactics is not new in Burma by authoritarian rulers like SPDC to present half facts and distorted views on different issues including monk’s role in Politics. It is distorted, because the author took one paragraph of Daw Suu’s “Freedom from Fear”, which was serving his masters objectives (SPDC) against the basic ethos and teachings of Buddhism and leaving other finer points of “Freedom from Fear” away from reader’s eye as it goes against his masters dictates. Despite its masterly propaganda tactics, I’m thankful to the author as he bothered to read “Freedom from Fear” and it would be a great job if other respected General’s read it minutely to understand her views on the role of tatmadaw (army), NLD, democracy, ethnic issues and people of Burma    

However by burying Daw Aung San Suu Kyi alive while keeping in detention and away from peoples, media and party, they are doing great national disservice to Burma and world. Because her detention against the principles and great teachings of Theravada Buddhism not only made Burma aloof of her world visions, but it has been also preventing Asia to come closer to Western civilization as pronounced in the philosophy of Asia Cooperation Dialogue and in many Asia Europe Meetings.       

Bogyoke Aung San’s vision on Religion and Politics:   

But then important questions emerges that, what is the correct view of Bogyoke Aung San on Monk’s role in Burma? The great Bogyoke Aung San was very clear about his vision on monk’s role in the society. He expected that, great Burmese Buddhist monk’s should not only play an important role of high politics in Burma’s history but also in world history, which they also did in August-September 2007 revolution to protests like earlier occasions as wished by Bogyoke Aung San and established their golden mark in Modern Asian and World History. While speaking at the inaugural address at the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League) convention in January 1946 in his speech entitled, “Problems for Burma’s Freedom”, Bogyoke Aung Said, that, “Reverend Sanghas! You have a tremendous role to play in world history, and if you succeed, you will be revered by the entire mankind for ages to come. This is one of the high functions ordained by your religion and this is the highest politics which you can do for your country and people. Go amongst our peoples, preach the doctrine of unity and love, carry the message of higher freedom to every nook and corner of the country, freedom of religious worship, freedom to preach and spread the Dharma anywhere and anytime, freedom from fear, ignorance, superstitions; teach our people to rely upon themselves and reconstruct themselves materially, spiritually and otherwise. You have these and many more noble tasks before you. Will you or will you not rise equal to your tasks? The answer lies doubtless with you.”[II]       

As mentioned in the above speech of Bogyoke Aung San, one can clearly see that maker of Burma wanted that reverend Monks should work to establish “freedom from fear” not only in Burma but also in world to truly achieve the basic ethos of Buddhism. It is a naked truth that, how threatening pledges has been imposed and daily taken from the monks and people, who recently protested against the views expressed by Bogyoke Aung San on Sangha’s role to establish “Freedom From Fear” and “message of higher freedom to every nook and corner of the country”.       

Bogyoke Aung San as a maker of national defence forces had been long aware of the danger of army taking over the rights of freedom of people in Burma. So in explaining ‘a system of social responsibility’, he said, that, “The original conception of the “state” as a solution of the growing problems of “society”, the “state” holding power derived from “society”, this original conception gradually become lost to view in the course of social history. The cause is the tendency of the “state” to rise higher and higher above the heads of the people, until “State” and “Society” becomes totally divorced.” He further stresses that, “If the state is personified in one or group of persons arrogating to itself and itself alone, forever, the powers which in fact were delegated to it by the people, then the original concept that the state after all is a creation of the people becomes lost.”[III]  Here, SLORC or SPDC, as a group of people, who has even not derived power from the people through election, has turned into “state” higher and higher above the heads of the people as feared by Bogyoke Aung San. The junta wants to bring un-elected elements of the army in proposed Burmese parliament or Pyithu Hlutaw through reservation as pronounced in National Convention in the name of genuine democracy to control “state” against the wishes of Bogyoke Aung San.        

On 19th of October 2007, through the announcement no. 2/2007 of SPDC, a fifty-four member commission for drafting Burma’s proposed constitution was formed.[IV] But it is important to know that what type of constitution Bogyoke Aung San wished for Burma.  Not even two months before his death, on 23rd of May 1947 address at the AFPFL  convention held at the Jubilee Hall in Rangoon, he said, that, “The kind of constitution the new democracy would envisage is one which would place power in the hands of the masses through their elected representatives from top to bottom. If they have no confidence in their representatives they must have the power to recall them. This will make a clean sweep of the existing bureaucratic form of government.”[V]       

Now, I again return to the theme of Daw Suu’s writing on Bogyoke Aung San’ socio-political vision of monks role in politics. Whether Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is wrong in her historical analysis of Bogyoke Aung San thoughts on Monk’s role because in her book “Freedom from Fear”, she wrote that Bogyoke Aung San desired that, “Monks should not get involved in politics” and I have quoted Bogyoke Aung San’s original speech as Monks should play a greater and higher role of politics? No, the answer is absolutely not. She is right in her analysis, but her later analysis in the same book was intentionally left by the author of the New Light of Myanmar  (or may be not understood) reveals that, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Bogyoke Aung San both desired a greater social-political role for monks in modern history, which was missed by Pothudaw Yay Chan. It is well undrstood by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the same book that, “weak logic, inconsistencies and alienation from the people are common features of authoritarianism.”[VI]      

Both, Bogyoke Aung San and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wanted that in normal condition when politics is playing its true role of serving people, then Monks should refrain from politics and religion should be not mixed with politics, and even India’s greatest leader and father of nation – Mahatma Gandhi also believed on these values. But here comes the “BIG NORMAL SITUATION”, when politics is truly serving the people. But in present day Burma, freedom of speech, thoughts and actions had been freezed with the force of the barrel of gun and by an un-elected group taking the role of “State” as warned by Bogyoke Aung San. Most importantly, the whole leadership of the nation, elected in the May 1990 elections by the people’s mandate had been forced to flee from the country and those who remained had been put under the prison cells and many died in their journey to establish freedom in Burma. So in this extraordinary situation of Burma, what would be the monk’s and other peoples role in Burmese history has been said clearly by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi defining teachings of Buddhism, in “Freedom from Fear,” and I quote, “The teachings of Buddhism which delve into the various causes of sufferings identify greed or lust – the passion for indulging an intemperate appetite – as the first Ten Impurities or Dasa-Kilesa which stand in the way of a tranquil, wholesome state of mind. On the other hand, much value is attached to liberality or generosity, which heads such lists as the Ten Perfections of the Buddha or Dasa-paramita, the ten Virtues which should be practiced and the Ten Duties of Kings,” unquote. She further clarifies, “This emphasis on liberality should not be regarded as a facile endorsement of alms-giving based on canny calculations of possible benefits in the way of worldly prestige or other –worldly rewards,” which can be easily seen in SPDC’s General’s giving alms and titles to Sangha and Monks to perpetuate their authoritarian rule. Daw Suu Kyi, further quotes, the great Sayadaw of the famous Mahagandharun monastery of Amarapura – Sayadaw Ashin Janaka Bivamsa’s saying, that, “Liberality without morality cannot be pure. An act of charity committed for the sake of earning praise or prestige or a place in a heavenly abode tantamount to an act of greed.”[VII]    

How Bogyoke Aung San differentiated “politics of serving people” with religion’ could be understood from the following speech of Burma’s maker? Yes, he draws a line between the politics and religion but line is drawn when politics must see that the individual also has his rights, including the right to freedom of religious worships as Bogyoke Aung San says, “Religion is a matter of individual conscience while politics is a social science,” and stresses that, “Of course, as a social science, politics must see that the individual also has his rights, including the right to freedom of religious worship. Here we must stop and draw the line definitely between politics and religion.”[VIII] Now the question comes that whether as a discipline of social science under military rule in Burma “politics is serving the purpose of insuring individuals rights of freedom from fear” as said to Sangha by Bogyoke Aung San or it is dirty politics played by military junta to perpetuate their rule through reserving seats for tatmadaw in forthcoming Burmese parliament and debarring Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to contest the election of 1990 and future elections?          

Bogyoke Aung San never wanted that, Burmese people should remain aloof from politics. He wanted that politics should be changed for freedom and better life. In his speech to Burmese people, he says, “You have to live and get certain things that are yours for your living, and this is your politics. This is your everyday life; and as your everyday life changes, so change your politics. It is for you to have such opportunities for your livelihood and a better life that we say there must be freedom, freedom to live, freedom to create and develop nationally and individually, freedom which can raise your and our standards without effecting others! This is politics. Politics, then, is quite human! It is not dirty. It is not dangerous. It is not parochial. It is neither magic nor superstition. It is not above understanding.”[IX]     

However the reality is that, in contemporary Burma, politics has become dangerous and above understanding. If one raises voice to establish freedom and people’s rights, it turns out to be dangerous and those who speak including reverend Monks, find themselves behind prison, torture and deaths against teachings of Lord Buddha.       

Politics in Burma has become above understanding against Bogyoke Aung San’s vision of politics, because junta does not want to talk to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi without any pre-condition attached to it, despite United Nations, ASEAN and world communities many appeals. And even when a minister was appointed as a messenger between the government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, it is said that it was done because of UN envoy’s appeal.  Why there is a need to appoint a communicator, when both Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Than Shwe lives few miles away and if the intentions are good? Those who thinks, that, by visiting Daw Aung San Suu without any pre-condition, would make them small; then, they have not understood the true teachings of Lord Buddha and Buddhism. It shows that politics in Burma from junta’s part is not above understanding as wished by Burma’s great leader Bogyoke Aung San.      

Moreover, even today’s article (20 October 2007) in the New Light of Myanmar (NLM) on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi written by Chan Mya Aye, attempts to belittle Daw Suu’s and NLD’s role in modern history of Burma, while first claiming to be her supporter then turning to be a critique like a fine propagandist.[X] It is bizarre and most heinous crime against the percepts of Theravada Buddhism like earlier ones that, junta publishes articles in the New Light of Myanmar against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi directly addressed to her but does not gives her chance to respond freely to the concerned articles in different media. It also indicates that, appointed minister to talk with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a mere eye wash and buying time tactics of military junta from the International Institutions like – UN, UNSC, ASEAN etc. and they want to prolong dialogue till Beijing Olympics.        

Junta’s acceptance of awarding Capital Punishment on mere Protests against Lord Buddha’s teachings and International Law:     

In addition, in yesterday’s official newspaper – NLM (19th of October 2007), it is accepted by junta’s writer – Mi Khin Thant, that even saying a words against government and freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners can lead to violation of Section 121-122 and according to these laws “capital punishment” can be given.[XI] Now question emerges, that, whether these sorts of freedom Bogyoke Aung San desired for Burma and in these conditions what should be the roles of monks in Aung San’s said vision? It also indicates towards the blatant violation of international law and United Nations Charter by junta by their acceptance on awarding capital punishment for mere protest to their rule. It also proves that many faceless innocent people and reverend monks of Burma would have suffered capital punishment through these inhuman laws in their struggle for freedom as outlined by Bogyoke Aung San.     

So, it is important to revisit, that, what was Lord Buddha’s original teaching on capital punishment? Lord Buddha clearly denounces capital punishment and taking away life of anyone by anyone. Referring the thoughts of The Light of Asia, the former President and modern Asia’s greatest philosophers of oriental thought Shri S. Radhakrishnan writes that, “Lord Buddha declares in ‘Samyutta Nikaya’ that, Anyone, O Sariputta, who lays down this body and takes another one, I call blameworthy.”[XII] Although SPDC shows great reverence towards the Sangha by donating alms and gifts together with titles but awards capital punishment to their fellow citizens for mere protests and demand of freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma    

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi understood well then any other leaders of Burma about junta’s tactics and strategy of defaming the democracy movement as a western ploy well before her detention, which is presently appearing daily in official media – NLM, in the name of “people’s desire” accusing DVB, RFA, BBC, VOA, AFP etc for instigating the protests. And she writes in her essay entitled, “In Quest of Democracy,” that, “It was predictable that as soon as the issue of human rights became an integral part of the movement for democracy the official media should start ridiculing and condemning the whole concept of human rights, dubbing it a western artifact alien to traditional values,”[XIII] and relating it with great teachings of Lord Buddha against capital punishment and importance of human life like Bogyoke Aung San, She elaborates that, “Buddhism, the foundation of traditional Burmese culture places the greatest value on man, who alone of all beings can achieve the supreme state of Buddhahood. Each man has in him the potential to realize the truth through his own will and endeavour and to help others to realize it. Human life is therefore is infinitely precious…But despotic governments do not recognize the precious human component of the state, seeing its citizens only as a faceless, mindless – and helpless – mass to be manipulated at will.”[XIV]     

Probably, for a moment, it is good for Burma, that national capital has been shifted to “Nay Pyi Taw” by military junta, now at least the great holy Shwedagon Pagoda of Rangoon, where Lord Buddha’s bright light exists, is not there to witness orders of crime of capital punishment committed against humanity under laws like Section 121-122 or in the name of Bogyoke Aung San’s social-political vision. 

      


 

 

 

ENDNOTES:   

 

[I] Pothudaw Yay Chan, Elements harmful to Dhamma and political opportunists, The New Light of Myanmar, 18th of October 2007, Volume XV, Number-185, , Rangoon, Burma, p.6.

[II] Josef Silverstein, The Political Legacy of Aung San, Data Paper No. 86, Southeast Asia Program, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, June 1972, p. 55-56.

[III] Ibid, p.93.

[IV] Commission for Drafting State Constitution formed, The New Light of Myanmar, 19th of October 2007, Volume – XV, Number- 186, Rangoon, Burma, pp.1, 3, and 4.

[V] Note No. 2, p.95.

[VI] Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom From Fear and other writings, Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, Year 1995 (First Published in 1991), p.175.

[VII] Ibid, p.242.

[VIII] Note No. 2, p.55

[IX] Ibid., p.54.

[X] Chan Mya Aye, Aunty Suu, we are living in hope or Our only wish is to see a win-win situation -1, The New Light of Myanmar, 20th  of October 2007, Volume XV, Number-187, , Rangoon, Burma, p.8-9.  [XI] Mi Khin Thant, Don’t get yourselves used by unscrupulous elements, The New Light of Myanmar, 19th of October 2007, Volume XV, Number-186, , Rangoon, Burma, p.6-7.  

[XII] S. Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western Thought, A Galaxy Book, Oxford University Press, New York, 1959, p.182.

[XIII] Note No. 6, p.174.

[XIV] Ibid, p.174.

     

(THE END)

   

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Silk Diplomacy or Slippery Diplomacy on Burma Crisis?

October 17, 2007

Yesterday, the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Surayud Chulanont had proposed a four party mediation to solve the impending Burma crisis to the visiting UN envoy – Mr. Ibrahim Gambari. The proposal seeks to engage members of ASEAN including Burma, China, India and United Nations to solve the political and economic crisis on the pattern of North Korean six-party mediation. Thailand, through this proposal, which had been popularly known in Asia for its swift silk diplomacy in maintaining independence even during colonial days, appears that, it wants to propose a slippery road for Burma’s long cry for democracy.       

Although, the Thai Prime Minister was honest in admitting before Mr. Gambari’s visit on 12th of October in a weekly television programme Perd Baan Phitsanulok, that, “I cannot preach too much about democracy if our government is not an elected one. If the Burmese junta shoots back with the question, who put me in this position, what would I say? He further explained honestly that, “Please don’t forget that I am not an elected prime minister.”        

Moreover, the said Thai proposal had been not new of multi-party talks, which was also earlier indicated by Mr. Surayud on 12th of October by limiting the role of the United Nations in Burma crisis. But, now question emerges that, if United Nations is unable to solve the Burma crisis then, how come China, India and ASEAN will solve the question of freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners? It has been said many a times that, presently, ASEAN hasn’t got any rules to expel its any errant member nations and China closeness with the military regime is a well known fact. The proposal has other limitations too, that it has not spelt out any clear points, that, how UN or ASEAN will take part in the negotiations? Whether the office of UN Secretary General will represent the UN in Thai Proposal or United Nations Security Council will represent the UN or any representative like Mr. Gambari would represent the UN? Likewise, ASEAN Secretary General will represent the ASEAN or any representatives nominated by ASEAN will represent the four party talks? However regarding ASEAN, there are indications that all ten member nations will participate in the Thai proposal as it has been said that, Burma is included in ASEAN. But if Burma’s military regime gets the chance to be represented on negotiation table then why largest democratic groups representation NLD or NCGUB etc. of Burma are left out?  Although, the UN Secretary General’s Special envoy on Burma – Mr. Gambari had not spell out any thing on Thai proposal. And, if China can participate separately in mediation, apart from her status of permanent membership of UNSC, then why not  USA and UK together with EU?       

Since last weeks, one of the positive and realistic approaches to the problem has come from the British Prime Minister – Mr. Gordon Brown, that, if military junta agrees towards genuine democracy, then, G-7 group of industrialized nations, EU, Portugal, China, India, IMF, World Bank and ASEAN could work towards economic recovery of the country and Britain would take lead in the concerned rebuilding of Burma. However, Burma’s yesterday’s official newspaper – The New Light of Myanmar’s (16th October 2007), once again reiterated that it doesn’t care for the response of international community and United Nations Security Council presidential text of 11th of October 2007.  Furthermore, it intentionally tries to convey repeatedly with the support gained from Russian and Chinese veto in January 2007, that, “there is no one in Myanmar who is in prison for political reasons” (The New Light of Myanmar, 16 October 2007, page-6), as if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other thousands behind bars had been there for ‘trading or committing crime’ in Burma? Yes, in the eyes of military junta, which SPDC accepts nakedly before international institutions like UNSC and ASEAN in their official newspapers, that, those who speak freely are criminals, those who gather to question government policies non-violently are criminals?      

The whole world knows that, curfews in Burma are only for those who questions lost legitimacy of the military government of May 1990 elections and freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Does world community has become blind that, they can’t see regular photographs appearing from 1st of October in the New Light of Myanmar in support of Junta sponsored  support rallies for National Convention with thousand arranged chairs in Stadium? Everybody knows that a person who participates in rallies does not come with Chairs, arranged tables with table clothes? Even if one looks minutely to the photograph of pro-junta rally in support of proposed National Convention can easily identify the same size and stand with new flags. Whether any common mass has got the factory to prepare new flags and same size of flag stands? The spontaneous peoples support could be seen in August-September democratic monks and peoples protests, where new flag stand or flags and arranged chair had been missing from the protests scene and streets. Earlier, BBC had also reported that, Junta orders with threatening messages to family, organization, factories to send given number of people to send them for rallies in support of National Convention. Common people in Burma knows that, no-body or UN is presently coming as their saviours, so follow the authoritarian dictates, otherwise they will loose another family member.       

Moreover, today’s official newspaper – The New Light of Myanmar (page no. 1), clearly accepts that, “Those who led, got involved in, and supported the unrest which broke out in September were called in and are being interrogated,” and “Out of 2284 persons who were called in from Yangon up to date, 2094 were already released on pledge and there are 190 persons left. Similarly, out of 643 persons who were called in from the states and divisions so far, 365 were already released after they had taken the pledge and there are 278 left. Some are still called in for questioning and those who should be released will be released.” And naturally interrogation with the protestors had been not going on with serving coffee and tea but with threatening and third degree treatments. In addition, those who had been released are common masses and not the leaderships as demanded many a times by the former Secretar-General of the United Nations (UNSG) or present UNSG. Moreover, on 2nd of October 2007, Human Rights Council special meetings had also endorsed the right to peaceful assembly. Does, vetoing nations of January 2007, China and Russia are not seeing that, junta is not allowing this right, which they endorsed on 2nd of October and is engaged in taking threatening pledges from protestors?        

Even Gandhi ji had stated many times during Indian independence movement that, common mass has not got immense strength to fight for longer times, so we need rest for the movements. He further stresses that, it doesn’t mean that movement and masses have been marginalized. So how long, world community would wait for proposal’s like silk diplomacy to act on Burma? Or, it wants to wait for the moment to see Burma, once again bleed like – Rwanda, Ivory Coast etc. to discuss the matter in air-conditioned meeting halls of United Nations Security Council? If UNSC and United Nations can’t solve the Burma problem as spoken by the Thai Prime Minister then, what is the need of maintaining such an international institutions with huge costs, let it also fail like ‘League of Nations’?        

(THE END)  

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Junta Accepts Pouncing Bullets on Peace Protestors

October 16, 2007

On 15th of October 2007, Burma’s official media “The New Light of Myanmar” came up with a fabricated news story written by Kyaw Min Lu (Shwepyitha) entitled, “Attempts to harm amicable ties” (page no. 8-9), on the killing of Japanese journalist – Mr. Kengi Nagai to cover up the brutal killing’s and to maintain emerging friendly relations with Japan, as well as seeing impending visit of UN Special envoy Mr. Ibrahim Gambari this weekend to Tokyo on UN Secretary General’s special mission to solve Burma crisis.

While explaining the incident Mr. Kyaw Min Lu unknowingly accepts that, Security forces fired bullets on peace protestors, in which monks had been participating in large numbers. He writes, that, “It is impossible for security members to know who is who and to differentiate between nationals and foreigners in handling a protest. Indeed Myanmar’s and Japanese are the same, Asians, so the security members could not know immediately he was a Japanese and whether he was a protester or a correspondent. What is sure in that regard is that security members had to target the ones in the front of the crowd to stop the protest? The Japanese correspondent caused his tragic end by getting among the protesters.” However earlier, the SPDC had been constantly denying to international community, UN and ASEAN that, any harsh measures had been taken to suppress the peace protestors in Burma for rising commodity prices and freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi & other political prisoners.

Although, the ruling military junta has tried their best of intellectual ability to cover up the gruesome shocking incident, however, their explanation that, “Myanmar’s process to disperse protesters is somewhat different from that of other countries and security forces have to show great patience in handling such cases,” shows the real story behind the scene, as if Myanmar Security forces under SPDC had been of other Galaxies. Interestingly, the story further says that, the Japanese reporter came on tourist visa, so he should have acted like tourists. However, it is a well known fact that, when protests had been going on in Rangoon in the months of August-September 2007, how difficult had been for foreign correspondents to get journalist visa to cover the news? Junta’s article also suggests certain journalistic norms to be followed by reporters and shockingly says, that, “I do not think any correspondent without evil spell would go there at such a time. I am sure ordinary correspondents would try to collect news, from a safe place”, so world media should also learn that, in future they should close their foreign news desks and request junta to send news from safe places?

In addition, regarding Mr. Nagai’s family members request of returning his Sony Video Tape recorder, it says, that, “It is very hard to identify how his tape recorder was lost amidst the protesters who were in disorder due to security forces dispersing the crowd. Security forces did not collect it. I understand the desire of his family that wants to get back the recorder to be kept for remembrance.”

Moreover, apart from RFA, VOA and BBC as saboteurs, airing skyful of lies, one new international media was also added in the military junta’s propaganda list, which is now AFP news agency, from which great Japanese photographer, true to his profession – Mr. Kengi Nagai belonged and I hope many more international media will be added in near future.

(THE END)

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Why I Published Maung Sit Naing’s “Operation Grave Diggers”?

October 15, 2007

As mentioned in the previous post that, one of the esteemed reader’s of “Burma Review” by the name – Maung Sit Naing send his opinion entitled, ‘Operation Grave Diggers’ as a strategy to fight against incorrigible military regime in Burma popularly known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). However, Burma Review in spite of having respect to the views expressed by the author of ‘Operation Grave Diggers’ does not agree to the strategy put forward by Maung Sit Naing, as it does not fit with the core principles of non-violence as well as the political-social vision of Asia’s symbol of Democracy – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Although, Burma Review understands the feelings of Maung Sit Naing and many others of their sufferings and its natural outcome of hating ‘Tatmadaw or military’ and totally negating socialization with the members of the family of Burmese Defence forces.      

However, the students and practitioner of non-violence knows that basic foundation of its strategy rests with the struggling against evil deeds not the evil doer. That’s why Mahatma Gandhi struggled against British colonial policies and not against British people and members of the family of British bureaucracy during colonial time, which was also reflected in his acceptance of the daughter of British Commander – Miss Madelaine Slade popularly known as Mira Ben as his close disciples. Although, in general it looks bizarre but power of non-violence could be only realized through practice, which is naturally very difficult for common mass, that’s why leaders like Gandhi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are not born everyday in any nations history, which SPDC fails to understand.

Moreover, if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is generating such international support, it is only with her commitments to the grand political strategy of non-violence, otherwise it would have been very easy to kill her for any military leadership like it happened in many countries under military dictatorship and also many bright political leaders of Burma died while following violent political strategy. Likewise, here general military personnel’s of Burmese defence forces are only following orders of their commanders or SPDC and they are not against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or genuine democracy. Otherwise, like earlier occasion Burmese military or junior officers would have not refused to fire against protesting people, which had also happened in the last months of August-September protests, when on 28th of September, soldiers from the Light Infantry Division No. 66 have turned their weapons against SPDC soldiers and possibly police in North Okkalappa township in Rangoon in defending the protesters and also soldiers in Mandalay had refused to act against monks/peoples protesters.[I]     

The main purpose of publishing ‘Operation Grave Diggers’ is to prove that, how great farsighted was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, that, she could visualize the growing hatred of people like- Maung Sit Naing and other Burmese people against military nineteen years back in her first mass political rally held at holy Shwedagon Pagoda, Rangoon on 26th of August 1988 and her second public appearance. In which, while quoting her father and maker of Burma and tatmadaw– Bogyoke Aung San, she said, “The armed forces are meant for this nation and this people, and it should be such a force having the honour and respect of the people. If instead the armed forces should come to be hated by the people, then the aims with which this army has been built up would have been in vain.”[II] The same view, she expressed in her 24th April 1989 BBC interview, that, “it was not the intention of the NLD ‘to cause a rift between the Defence Forces and the people, and we do not want the Defence Forces to break up’.”[III]   

And, when she says about ‘national devastation’ it is in this context and not in the context which certain old element or General’s of tatmadaw wants to present in their official media – “The New Light of Myanmar” etc. It is like the same lie and distorted view, which SPDC announced in its “Announcement No. 1/2007” on 4th of October 2007 and published on 5th of October 2007 in the New Light of Myanmar, that, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is exerting efforts for “CONFRONTATION”, otherwise Senior General Than Shwe will personally meet her. Long back in 1994, she had clearly explained to the military and world about the meaning of ‘dialogue’, which SPDC translates as Confrontation till today. When Bill Richardson, a democrat congressman from New Mexico asked her on 12th February 1994, that, “What conditions do you think are meaningful? She replied, “Dialogue…Dialogue can lead to a lot of things…I want to confront them (the SLORC) across a table, and I think that’s what they mean when they say I’m confrontational, because I’ve never asked for any other sort of confrontation at all. It seems to me very strange that they’re prepared to talk to armed insurgents but not to legal political parties.”[IV]     

Her attachment, love and desire for a unified strong Burmese army or tatmadaw could be also proved, which SPDC fails to understand, when she says, “Let me speak frankly. I feel strong attachment for the armed forces. Not only were they built up by my father, as a child I was cared for by his soldiers. At the same time I am also aware of the great love and affection which the people have for my father. I am grateful for this love and affection. I would therefore not wish to see any splits and struggles between the army which my father built up and the people who love my father so much. May I also from this platform ask the personnel of the armed forces to reciprocate this kind of understanding and sympathy? May I appeal to the armed forces to become a force in which the people can place their trust and reliance?”[V]     

One of the consistent mistakes, which SPDC has been committing, is of wrongly analyzing political-social vision of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and placing it in a different scenario before Burmese people in their official media. However, it is the great maturity of the Burmese people that they understands the truth behind it and decipher the true meanings between the said official propaganda. Furthermore with due regards to the philosophy of ‘operation grave diggers’, how can a political strategy of refusing marriage proposals by Burmese women to defence forces personnel find a place in a vision of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, when we find her words, that:   

“Parents of Burma

You must give birth to heroes

Like Boh Aung San…

He will make history

His deeds will be recorded in annals

The noble Boh Aung San.”[VI]   

Although, it is true that SPDC leadership is not following the ideals of Bogyoke Aung San, but rejecting Burmese Defence forces in totality from the Burmese social life will be a wrong and weak policy to undermine even good souls of Burma’s patriotic forces against non-violence principles. More importantly, unfortunately the proposed strategy in ‘operation grave diggers’ also limits the role of any women against accepted notions of gender equality of modern age and visualizes women only as a progenitor of child and not as lively equal partner in the social-political life of any country. So even in this context this strategy has got more of male chauvinism rather than making women more participative in the political and social life of Burma   

Lastly, I’m strongly convinced by the great vision of the great eighteenth century courtier-poet of Burma, Let-We Thondara (1723-99), which was visualized as an inspiration by Bogyoke Aung San for the Burmese defence forces and remembered by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her writings and applicable to any nations army, that:     

“How superior

The tactics of war

How potent

The weapons!

Without gathering in…

The hearts of the people,

Without relying on…

The strength of the people

The sword edge

Will shatter

The spear

Will bend.”[VII]     

So readers of Burma Review should not feel that, Burma Review agrees or subscribes to the views expressed in the “Operation Grave Diggers” as a non-violent political strategy, which is far away from Gandhian or Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s political visions and original principles of non-violence. And, the view expressed in the “Operation Grave Diggers” is only of author open for reader’s comments.    


 ENDNOTES:  

[I] James Morris, Army Mutiny Reported in Rangoon, The First Post, London, UK, 28th of September 2007.

♣ Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first public appearance happened on 24th of August 1988 at the Rangoon General Hospital, however her real political journey towards freedom in Burma started through her first mass political rally organized at the Shwedagon Pagoda on 26th of August 1988.

 

[II] Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom From Fear and Other Writings, Edited with an Introduction by Michael Aris, Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, Year 1995, p.195.

[III] Ibid., p.340.

[IV] Ibid.p.254.

 

[V] Ibid., p.195.

[VI] Ibid., Mentioned in her article entitled, “The True Meaning of Boh”, p.187.

[VII] Ibid., p.189.

 

 (THE END)   

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OPERATION GRAVE DIGGERS ?

October 14, 2007

(Yesterday, Burma Review received following opinion of one of the Burmese readers as a non-violent strategy to restore genuine democracy in Burma. And, after much deliberation, to seek & establish freedom of thought on Burma’s democratic agenda, Burma Review is publishing this opinion to receive other reader’s comment and reaction on it.) 

By: Maung Sit Naing 

One of the world’s renown  psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 –  June 8, 1970) contended in his pioneering research – “A Theory of Human Motivation”, that as humans meets ‘basic needs’, they seek to satisfy successively ‘higher needs’ that occupy a set of hierarchy known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. It is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels. The lowest level, at the bottom of the pyramid, consists of eating, drinking, sleeping and reproduction. The Second level belongs to the Security and health.  The friendship and sense of belonging / acceptance by others and supportive family are included in the third level .The fourth level contains needs to be respected, to have self – esteem/respect, to gain a sense of contribution and to have recognition and fame. People who are deprived of the needs of third and fourth levels would feel loneliness, social anxiety and depression.  Those who reach the fifth and highest level seek knowledge and become creative, can appreciate their lives with high degree of humanity and morality.   

In view of the current turmoil in Burma, the strongest blow one can make against the military circle would be to hit them hard at the heart of their needs. At present, the military junta and their associates can easily fulfils the needs of the lower two levels. We therefore need to deprive them of the opportunity to satisfy the needs of third level and above. To do that all, Burmese people (including Burmese living outside of Burma) are recommended to take following actions:  

  1. Avoid socializing with any body associated with the military regime by not inviting them or accepting their invitations on religious and social occasions.

  1. The Burmese ladies are earnestly requested to reject the marriage proposals of military personnel and their associates. This action will also deprive them of the opportunity to fulfill a part of the first level needs, namely reproduction.

There is a group of people in Burma who earn living by digging graves in cemeteries. They are called, in Burmese, “Sandarlahs”. In old days, even some of those who were fortunate enough to become rich sometimes had difficulty in finding a suitable marriage partners due to the fact that such a marriage was considered by some inauspicious or ill-fated. They were effectively ostracised. Although this practice is no longer very much prevailing in the country, majority of Burmese people are aware of it. The writer does not condone such unfair practice but just to highlight it as an example. In short, Sandalahs are harmless, innocent and do not deserve to be treated in such a manner but the military personals and their associates do deserve it. Let us redirect such treatments to the Burmese military circle.  

The recent announcement of the President of the United States, that the Burmese military personnel and their families would be denied visa to visit United States can also be considered in line with the above tactics.  

What the Buddhist monks are doing by refusing the offering and donations from the military families exactly hit them in the hearts of their needs of the third and fourth level.  It is now Burmese people’s turn to follow the suite and hit them hard. Deprive them of their needs. It is a kind of peaceful and passive movement. Let the future mothers of Burma lead this passive resistance.     

(The End)

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