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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America

KAOWAO NEWS NO. 102

Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
January 5 - 20, 2006

Readers front

Longest bridge causes village displacement on Beelu Kyun Island

SPDC spreads out to confiscate more land, show of force

Local Mon community workers fear for their future

Eight baht an hour in border town

Illiteracy rate high among Mon children in Thailand and Burma

Mons born in Thailand approved for Thai citizenship

Children infected by chickenpox in Mon refugee camp

Riot broke out in Karen refugee camp after a refugee was beaten

Mon youth workshop in liberated area

Are the Mons capable to form its own government?

Mon-Burman reconciliation: Nai Thet Lwin


Readers front

Dear readers,

We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kaowao newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kaowao News will continue to grow to serve better the needs of those seeking social justice in Burma. And we hope that it will become an important forum for discussion and debate and help readers to keep abreast of issues and news.  We reserve the right to edit and reject articles without prior notification. You can use a pseudonym but we encourage you to include your full name and address.

Regards,

Editor

Kaowao News

kaowao@hotmail.com, www.kaowao.org


Longest bridge causes village displacement on Beelu Kyun Island
(Kaowao, January 20, 2006)

Moulmein -- The longest bridge in Burma finished in 2003 has caused widespread erosion with over 100 acres of farmland in Chaung Zone or Beluukyun Island township, Mon State, affected, sources say.

Due to the foundation of the bridge, the water flow has changed and over one hundred acres of land surrounding the bridge has been eroded by the flow of water. "Some parts of the island are now being slowing inundated with water," says a Mon environmentalist from the island who requested not to be identified.

He added that boats running between Moulmein, the capital of Mon State and the island must divert their route and land ashore on another other part of the island with higher ground.

Two more villages in the near future are under threat of erosion, he added. The bridge spans five joint rivers that connects Moulmein and Martaban or Muttama town. The bridge construction project, the brainchild of former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, took over six years to complete and was finished in 2003. It was thought that the bridge could bring about economic development in the area and alleviate poverty in addition to being a symbol of goodwill between the New Mon State Party and SLORC after they brokered a ceasefire deal.

"The bridge has also affected maritime trade in the area after the imposition of higher taxes at checkpoints. Most of the small island dwellers and people who live along the five coastal ports including Salween river must cross the bridge to get to the capital of Mon State and other parts," the source explained.


SPDC spreads out to confiscate more land, show of force
(Rot Htaw, Kaowao, January 15, 2005)

Ye -- With the same number of force, SPDC military spreads operation in Mon State, a source from central Mon State reported to Kaowao.

Sources from the NMSP estimate the real strength of SPDC today in Mon State stands at the same number of just one LIB Battalion No. 61, which has been in the area since the ceasefire. The troops are spread out to form more battalions for the sole purpose of taking over more land to help finance the SPDC's war machine.

In Ye township alone, there are over ten new battalions being introduced over the past decade. According to the Mon political community source 'the SPDC cannot extend its troop base, but only confiscates more Monland to help finance itself through its self-sufficient policy.'

'The number of battalions have increased, but we see the same soldiers everywhere,' says a young political activist from Thanbyuzayat township, who wishes not to be named for security reasons. 'They are moved or exchanged to other locations over and over again' he explains.

'We have seen between 20 ad 30 troops from the same battalion in different locations,' points out the political activist. Some local Mon people in Ye township, the source says, who are abused by the Burma Army want to take revenge on SPDC troops stationed in the military camps since they know the real number of troops are not high.

The SPDC just wants to demonstrate its military strength to the NMSP while the party conducts a month long review (in the party caucus) on whether its ceasefire is working or not.  However, the NMSP is not concerned on whether the SPDC will break the ceasefire in the future, according to the sources.


Local Mon community workers fear for their future
(Kaowao, January 9, 2006)

Ye -- Mon people who have a good working relationship with the New Mon State Party fear at being targeted by the SPDC when the cease-fire ends in the near future, sources say.

Serious concerns have been voiced by several Mon community workers, one youth who works with the Mon Culture and Literature Organization from Chaung Zone township who requested not to be named for security reasons told Kaowao 'I will have to flee if the cease-fire ends.'

'There is a lot of fear of what will happen after the ceasefire ends among Mon community workers who have a good relationship with NMSP members and who are in charge of urban offices' he explains.  'As community workers, we could be targeted one day due to the fact that we have had a good relationship with them (NMSP).

Some Mon community leaders and activists have kept their distance from the NMSP since the party reached a cease-fire agreement June 29, 1995.

'We don't want the NMSP to assist us in the summer season Mon literature activities because we worry the SPDC will harass us in the future' says, Nai Parla, a Mon Buddhist monk from Ye.

A young political activist in Ye township said that he may have to flee when the cease-fire ends since he has had a good working relationship with the NMSP.  'I have prepared to flee in the future and as part of preparation I do not want to own any real estate, instead I gave it to my parents' he says.

Some people in rural areas have been warned not to welcome the NMSP or to give accommodation to their members. Some young political activists and community leaders joke that the NMSP will not have more soldiers when it goes back to the jungle to fight again because of its inability to organize the public.


Eight baht an hour in border town
(Kaowao, January 11, 2006)

Sangkhalaburi -- Burmese workers employed in Thai industries at Three Pagodas Pass opposite Thai side earn less than 10 Baht per hour with most working over time to earn extra money, residents say.

A majority of the over 570 workers earn 100 per baht per day with over 70% being women, said a Mon businessman from the Thai side. The workers' shift starts at 7am and ends at 5pm, take home pay is roughly 75 baht per day.

He added that the Thai authority was pleased with the industries opening up at the border and told the Border Joint Committee that it would help stop migrants entering Thailand.

The cheap labor, he said, would make the employers or companies rich. There are three companies employing Burmese workers which produce shoe and gas lighters. The two shoe industries employ 50 laborers and the gas lighter employs about 70 laborers.

'Even though the wages are low, the town residents have no other job options available to them and must work in these industries to make a living' he added.


Illiteracy rate high among Mon children in Thailand and Burma
(Kaowao, January 15, 2006)

The lack of proper education and poverty for Mon in Thailand and Burma has contributed to the rise of Mon illiteracy.

There are over 30,000 Mon migrant children under the age of 15 living in Samut Prakan province of Thailand with the majority missing out on their primary education according to a Mon community source. About 90% of migrants living in the port city are Mon and only about 300 Mon children can attend the only school available to them which is run by a Mon volunteer group and some Thai non governmental organizations.

Mon parents in the province who work in the fishing industries often work overtime to earn extra money and cannot look after their children. 'So what happens is that many youngsters wind up working alongside their parents, to kill two birds with one stone, to help pay the bills and to watch over the kids' says Nai Gongsakar, a migrant worker from Maharchai.

'We have 80 children in our school' says Nai Lun a member of the school committee. Mon volunteers led by a young nationalist also teach Mon and Thai languages to adults on the weekends. 'One problem is that we need more volunteer schools, to help combat the problem in offering education' says the community leader.

In Mon State, a source from Mon Relief and Development Committee said that just about 20 percent of children in the internally displaced camps, under the control of the NMSP, can attend the school free of charge. 'Their parents and teachers do not encourage them to attend school' says, Charn Lun, a staff member of the Mon NGO. The volunteers worry for their future since the Mon children do not attend even primary school.

In Thailand in the many hundreds of migrant worker camps, including the construction, fishing, and rubber plantation industries, migrants live in poor housing with either no electricity or education available. 'Many thousands of young people cannot read or write in their mother tongue and most cannot converse in Thai either' says a human right's activist. 'Those who can speak Thai are able to secure better employment, such as in the tourist industry in Thailand, especially in Phuket and Ranong' she added.

Most Mon children in the rural area in Mon State leave school before they finish middle school.  'Only a few go on to finish university,' sources estimate. Many young Mon in the southern part of Ye and Yebyu township cannot read and write in Mon or Burmese, sources say. 'They stop going to school before they finish primary school,' says a former Mon school teacher. 'Many families are hard pressed to send their children to school, mainly because of poverty in which they are unable to pay for their children's education, but also because of the lack of an educational infrastructure in Burma' the source explains.


Mons born in Thailand approved for Thai citizenship
(IMNA: 10 Jan, 2006)

Mons born in Thailand who have been demanding Thai citizenship have finally been approved for citizenship after waiting for a long time said Interior Minister Kongsak Wantana.

Mr. Wantana said about 2,350 Burmese were granted Thai citizenship and about 825 Burmese were given green cards (travel document). But the Interior Minister did not mention the locations.

About 2,000 Mon people in Sangkhlaburi (near the Thai Burma border) were granted Thai citizenship and about 700 got the green card. But we arent sure when the local authorities will issue citizenship cards to us because no timetable has been set, said Nai Su Mit (32) who was also granted citizenship.

For this (Thai citizenship) Mon people have trying for many generations. The problem is we dont know and understand how to go about getting our rights. But now the Thai government has realized the reality of Mon peoples lives in Sangkhlaburi and granted us citizenship said Nai Su Mit.

During former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpais government, the Mon people in Sangkhlaburi were granted Thai citizenship but the local government did not inform the people said Nai Su Mit.

After getting Thai citizenship the Mon people have to be careful about both the positive and the negative impact. The positive side is they will have a chance for education, occupation, and a future while clinging to their own culture in Thailand. But its very important for Mon people not to forget who they are They must remember they are Mons and not forget their own people, said anthropologist and researcher on ethnic people in Thailand and Asia, Professor Dr. Ms Cholthira Satyawadhana from Rangsit University.

I am happy to know people in Sangklaburi have been approved for Thai citizenship. Even their parents are not Thai citizens. They were born here and it is their right. They should get the right to education, and travel freely like Thai people said a Thai student Phumrin Norsuriwong, (21), who has many Mon friends.

After getting Thai citizenship, we should also help and work for other Mon people who are waiting to become Thai citizens added Nai Su Mit.

Both Mon people born in Thailand and those who moved to Thailand in Sangkhlaburi long ago are waiting for the Thai government to approve them as Thai citizens.


Children infected by chickenpox in Mon refugee camp
(Chan Mon, IMNA: 14 Jan, 2006)

About 35 children in a small Mon refugee camp called Ched-Dike about 35 kilometres west of the Thai border in Three Pagoda Pass have been suffering from chickenpox.

The infection came to light about a month ago and it came from a child from another village who had come for treatment to the village clinic, claimed a medical worker. The camp has a hundred houses and almost all the children in the camp have been infected, according to the chief medical worker Nai Banya Mon. Some elders are also infected.

We do not have medicine for prevention and treatment. We just have a few medicines for fever, Banya Mon added. The medical workers are worried given the lack of medicine and because the camp has not received support from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) like the others camp. Some of the other Mon camps have also reported the infection. Some children in Hlockhani have been sent to hospital for treatment. But Hlockhani has medicine stocks for six months because MSF has withdrawn support.

A month ago children in Hlockhani were infected with chickenpox and MSF from France which helped Mon refugees provide injection to the children in the camp stopped work.  According to a Mon medical worker, chickenpox infection was in evidence twice in Mon camps. Due to the current infection and MSFs withdrawal of support from the area, the camp leaders are worried and are looking for medical support.

Although chickenpox is not always fatal but if the eyes are infected people can become blind, said a medical worker.


Riot broke out in Karen refugee camp after a refugee was beaten

(Kaowao: January 8, 2006)

Sangkhalaburi -- A Thai militia force guarding a Karen Refugee camp in southern Thailand brutally beat a male Karen refugee in the last week of December. The situation created a riot and about 200 Karen men marched on the militia forces camp trying to get revenge, said a source from the camp.

Four militia men came to the camp in the night of December 23 after drinking heavily and beat a male Karen refugee then took him to their militia camp and beat him repeatedly. They denied the demand of the people in the camp to release the man. said a source from the camp.

The source said, the people in the camp could not be patient with the behavior of militia force. So they marched to the militia forces camp at about nine pm after the riot broke out at 7:30 or 8:00.  The source requested not to be named for security reasons.

A man aged about 30 from the camp said, Four militia men were repeatedly beaten by the mob of about 200, camp committees came to rescue the militia men from the hands of mob.

He added, Authorities have imposed a curfew on the camp and also another POC camp, Tham Him, which are very close each other.

This is not the first time that militia men have abused their authority, in the past they have tortured the refugees often. the source said.

The militia men have harassed Karen refugee women sexually many times.  The Thai national flag was drawn to the ground and the pole was broke down by the mob, he added.

According to the source the people in the camps phone access was cut off. To have phone access they must climb the mountain range nearby for about half hour.


Mon youth workshop in liberated area
(Kaowao: January 8, 2006)

Sangkhalaburi -- Eighteen Mon youth from inside Burma attended a two-week workshop for capacity building. It was sponsored by several NGOs based along the southern border of Thailand and Burma.

The participants, most of them are young women from Mon State, said that they were happy to study. They learned about current Mon politics, the federal system of Burma, the environment, and human rights. Three Mon NGO groups and two other ethnic groups lectured in the eleven-day workshop from December 26 to January 6.

"We are interested in current Mon politics and other affairs," said a young Mon female participant. She requested not to be named for security reasons.

"I promise all of you that I will share these experiences with the people in my area," she said in the closing ceremony of the workshop.

Some participants are NGO workers, Mon community leaders, and some of them are Mon political activists in Mon State.  Many of them are interested to learn about Mon NGOs along the border since they know nothing about their activities.  Most of them did not know about Mon media groups, human rights groups, and women rights groups based along the border.

"I had never read a Mon Newspaper, Magazine, or journal. I, for the first time, have read Mon Newspapers and other publishing here." Said a young Mon female NGO worker when asked how much she knew about the activities.

Some have requested the Mon media workers to provide them newspapers and other publications. It is very difficult to get it to them, for most of them live in the center of the Mon State, not in rural areas.

"We have found a way to get them Mon Newspapers after discussing the issue with Mon media workers." said Nai Saik, a male participant and community leader.

One participant said that he needed to have access to media resources for his capacity building. He added that access to the media is important for him to keep advancing.

The young female NGO worker said that people in Mon State lack general knowledge, including how to live long.  She added, "Some young women in my township marry business men suspected of being HIV positive, also some young men have sex with female sex workers even though they know that the woman is HIV positive. We need more general knowledge and media access."

Mon Youth Progressive Organization or MYPO, which was cracked down on by the Thai authority in 2001 initiated the workshop.  The effort of the youth political organization was the first attempt since then.


Discussion

Are the Mons capable to form its own government?

I don't think we can run a government due to administration structure and tradition believing are confused in Mon community. I am saying this due to when ever new creative idea is introduced most of Mon get stuck with tradition, this is very disadvantages.

We should have done training youth to become next leaders along time ago. The problem is we don't have much idea in this area. There are a few unanalyzed experiences.

We Mon don't have idea to work out between Advantages and Advantages. That is why we are in

delay. I wanted to say such as We Mon are traditional farmer and self help people and hard to seek help and not thinking of someone will help us.

Moreover, there are 3 groups of Mon in generally, first parents who raise their children who has no chance to analyze politic. Second, students with higher education who are able to be train whatever they are capable of doing for further study. Third, young Buddhist monks, there are several thousand of them learning pariyatti mainly Mon to Pali and Burmese Pali. They are not related to daily international relation. If half of them can move to Office administration, Law studies, political science, civil engineering, environmental issue and so on.  Non-educated Mon cannot go any studies due to entry requirement.

Kwae Mon

_______________________________________________

We both agree that the Mon Youth should have more education and training.  You seem to say that the Mons are not ready to form a government because some are very conservative and resistant to change, some are confused, some are not trained and therefore do not know how to run a government, some are just farmers.  You probably know more about the situation of the Mons in general and so you are speaking from reality.

I do not know the specific situation in detail.  But I know you must be correct, because I do read the Kao Wao news, reports of Human Rights violations, harassments, injustices and have been struck by the how   the  War Crimes have devastated the Mon People for many years.  So it is not surprising that they are just like how you described them.

You are speaking from a realistic, practical point of view and you are correct. The Mons are not ready to form a government.

I am speaking from an idealistic, theoretical point of view:  Whether you are ready or not, the Mons NEED a govt. which can help organize, develop, and represent them in the eyes of the world.  There are enough educated Mons to form an expatriate organization to do this. If not a full-fledged govt., at least a nucleus of a govt.

If not the whole body, at least the skeleton outline.  The flesh and the various organs and tissues can come later.

In 1988, when the entire country was in revolt, it caught the overseas people by surprise and they were not able to help effectively.

In 06-06-06 this year, who knows? there might be another uprising. If not this year, maybe in 7-7-07 or 8-8-08 or 9-9-09.

One day the country WILL explode, and when it does, the skeleton or nucleus of the Mon Govt. can go into action and grow as time passes.

Whether it is like the Interim Shan Govt. for a separate Republic or whether it is for a Mon State as part of a Union, that part, I am not going to comment.

It is up to the Mon People.  Only they can decide.  All that I am saying is, you need some kind of govt, whether it is a national govt or a state govt. Since SPDC will arrest and imprison any kind of govt, out of necessity, it will have to be an expatriate govt., like the ISG and NCGUB.

Don't worry about not having enough people. It will come. How many people does it take to have a President, Vice President, Foreign Minister and other Ministers?  One dozen men. How about the rest of the govt?  It will come. Gradually.

The president chooses his cabinet of 10-11 people.  Each minister then chooses his own group of 10 directors and each director chooses 10 assistant directors and each .......etc. It will happen gradually.

OR -- another way to do will be to form a loosely organized govt framework by Internet.

Representatives in the various Mon cultural organizations, in the Kao Wao, in humanitarian groups, can get together and form a govt. committee by Internet.

There is a free program for video conferencing and you can try as a sample, if it works, you can then subscribe for $45 a year.

The committee members and contact each other by computer video conferencing.

Notice I said govt. committee.

Through the internet such as the Monnet, (it sounds so much like the famous French artist, Monet--- very famous)  you could agree to elect a chairman, vice chairman, subcommittee chairman and vice chairman, and so on.

As for not having enough trained people, you will have to train as you go.  And you agreed the youth must be trained. Remember, we are not aiming for a full govt, but just a starting committee of 10-12.  and later progress to bigger and better things.

Since the proposed govt has not been elected into power, it will not be an elected govt., but only an Interim working govt. in which it must be remembered that when peace and democracy come, there will be elections and the Interim govt should step down when others are elected (or they could get elected too)

The part about not having enough educated Mons is very heart breaking.  There is Nai Tun Thein in Bangkok who is a radio broadcaster and a wonderful singer. We knew each other since 1969 and we worked together in 1978.  He taught me about Mon vocabulary and history. Insein is Ang Kywein (forgive me because my pronunciation is wrong.  1978 is a long time ago.)  Inya is Ang Hlah. Kyon Pyaw (in Irrawaddy Division) is Krerng Praw.  I came to understand about the many wars and massacres.

Recently, my Portuguese-American roommate found an article about De Brito and how the Jesuit priest recorded in their historical notes how there were so many massacres that the boats could not sail.  The river was jam-packed with floating bodies. This is in the 1600's. Then of course is the destruction of Dagon and renaming it Yangon. More massacres. and still more.

Mehm Tun Thein explained to me about the how Anawrahta invaded the Mon Kingdom to capture the 3 pitakah and how they captured everything from Thaton and destroyed the rest.

I am getting to the point I am trying to make.

The point is, the Mons had a written language and they were literate for centuries before the Burmese since the time of the two Mon brothers who brought back the hair strands of Buddha for the building of Maw Tin Soon and for Shwedagon, Zin Gyaik, Zwegabin and Kyaikti-yo. (I'm sorry my knowledge of Mon names is so limited and so I am only using Burmese)

Since the time of Buddha, they were literate. If any one studies Buddhism, they have to be literate.  So the Mons have a splendid tradition of education and learning since 500 BC.(correct me if I am wrong)

You are telling me the present day Mons are not well-trained. Okay, but given the long, magnificent history that outdates every other ethnic group in Burma (maybe the Arakanese might have been contemporaries since they say the Mahamuni was constructed during the Buddha's visit.) --- that kind of heritage will make every true patriotic Mon to want to study, and those who already are educated will want to teach the younger ones. There is a tremendous historical reputation to regain and to maintain.  It is a matter of ethnic pride, and provides a huge incentive for educated Mons to use their talents to train the younger ones.

I read in Kao Wao how there is a Mon CD for learning Mon. That is just one example of many examples.  The training is already being done, and it can only get better.

Sincerely,

David Law


Opinion/Analysis

Mon-Burman reconciliation may help break the political stalemate in Burma, the Land of Pagodas
(By Nai Thet Lwin)

Experience has shown that a Ghandi-style non-violent political defiance formula does not work in Burma, the Land of Pagodas and where there has been the older armed struggle of the non-Burmans. The United Nations is still trying to find out a correct solution of the political crisis in Burma. Its experience gained through the two World Wars, the Cold War and the Post Cold War does not seem to help the United Nations much in finding out the correct solution for Burma. The complication of international politics and the disunity among the powerful or permanent members of the UN Security Council have made the UN difficult to reach a common agreement on how to help solve the political crisis in Burma and how to intervene effectively in the countrys long-standing internal conflicts. I can say for sure that the ruling Buddhist Burman generals of the State Peace and Development Council do sleep with a very big fear, not just the fear of losing power but the fear of going to Hell after death. In my point of view, they fear the invisible Hell far more than the visible UN Security Council.

Burma is a multi-ethnic society with eight ethnic majorities, including the ethnic Burman, plus more than a hundred ethnic minorities. Burma is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country with more than 95 per cent of the population being Buddhist traditional or devout. The Mon and the Burman have a common Buddhist religious belief and share a common Buddhist social culture, whereas many of the other non-Burman ethnic majorities and minorities have a different religious belief. The Burman alone is generally estimated to make over 60 per cent of the entire population of Burma. Religiously and culturally speaking, the Mon and the Burman are identical. But linguistically speaking, the Mon and the Burman have completely different languages which mainly make the Burman and the Mon to be different peoples. Historically, the Mon people had established and lived in their own independent kingdoms for a very long time until their last kingdom, Hamsavati or Hongsawatoi, was invaded and annexed by the neighbouring Burman kingdom led by King Alaungphaya or Aungzeya in 1757. Since then, as Halliday puts it, the Mon became a people without a country. The Mon and the six other non-Burman ethnic majorities namely Karen, Shan, Kayah/Karenni, Kachin, Arakanese and Chin -- have had a common political struggle against the ethnocentric Burman rule since Burmas independence from the British colonial rule in 1948.

While having a common Buddhist religious belief and sharing a common Buddhist social culture with the Burman, the Mon has fought against the post-independence Burman-dominated rule for the last half century to regain its national self-determination or independence. It is clear that the Mon has some common ground with the Burman religiously and culturally on the one hand and has some common ground with the non-Burmans politically on the other hand, having a foot in both camps. That is, the Mon is naturally taking the neutral mid-position which gives it a unique mediator role to play between the two opposing camps of the Burman and the non-Burmans.

The Mon also has the longest history with the Burman. The age-old socio-political problems between the Mon and the Burman are also to be solved for lasting Mon-Burman reconciliation. The Burman historical perspective of the so-called First Burman Empire established by King Anawratha, the so-called Second Burman Empire established by King Burinaung and the so-called Third Burman Empire established by King Alaungphaya is totally unacceptable to the Mon, because all these Burman Empires were established by sheer force of arms and at the cost of independent Mon kingdoms. Particularly, King Alaungphayas establishment of the Third Burman Empire by means of an unprecedented bloodshed genocidal operation against the Mon by cruelly massacring a large number of innocent non-combatant civilian Mon men, women and children plus 3,000+ Mon Buddhist monks is socially unacceptable, politically unforgivable and religiously unforgettable to the Mon people. The Burman king, Alaungphaya or Aungzeya, also burned down or destroyed all the Mon palm leaf literature and stone inscriptions he found. The one and only Burman king loved and respected by the Mon is King Kyansittha of Pagan. There are the bright golden peacocks that would follow in Kyansitthas footsteps. But the short-sighted and narrow-minded peacocks have unremorsefully been following Alaungphayas footsteps in their wishful dream and ambitious attempt to establish a Fourth Burman Empire.

All the peoples of Burma both Burman and non-Burmans -- have a common struggle for termination of militarism and establishment of democracy. The democracy struggle is the common struggle of the Burman and all the non-Burmans without regard to race or religion. It is the common struggle for termination of the brutal Burman-dominated racist military dictatorship, which was formerly known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council/SLORC and is currently known as the State Peace and Development Council/SPDC.

Buddhist Religious Issue Between the Mon and the Burman

As stated above, King Alaungphaya who was also known as Aungzeya indiscriminately and cold-bloodedly slaughtered 3,000+ Mon Buddhist monks; the slaughter reportedly included the forced trampling by elephants. This slaughtering of the 3,000+ Buddhist monks or members of the Sangha caused and has left a deep and ugly wound in the journey of the Buddha Sasana in the Land of Pagodas. This ugly wound caused by King Alaungphaya or Aungzeya, however, has not been given proper attention by the Burman in general and has not been known to the outside world, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. Those of the narrow-minded and short-sighted racist peacocks are even very proud of having had King Alaungphaya or Aungzeya and put him in the place of one of their great kings. This ugly wound, in the Buddhist religious point of view, cannot be neglected. Venerable Akworh, the most famous Mon monk-writer of the time who experienced this bloody event and who had himself go into hiding in order to escape the slaughter, remarked like this:

His Majesty Aungzeya was of a very fierce and cruel disposition, and made no account at all of life. He put to death many monks, and their iron alms bowls and silk robes were taken away, and the homespun robes were made into foot mats. Of some they made pillows, of some they made belts, and of some they made sails. The monks robes were scattered all over land and water. (Translated by Mr. Halliday)

The Mon abbot, Venerable Akworh, was surprisingly endowed with very high levels of morality, wisdom and forbearance. He only taught the Mon people for forgiveness and loving kindness. After seeing the cruel slaughtering of 3,000+ monks, Venerable Akworh, by cutting one of his fingers and by making it a devotional offering before the image of Lord Buddha, vowed that he would truly support the cause of perpetuation of the Buddha Sasana. Although and after the independent Monland of Hamsavati fell to the Burman, Ven. Akworh still recognized its living legitimacy.

In the Burman history, there was a boycott, literally the overturning of the alms-bowl by the Buddhist Burman monastic community against Khondaw Maung Kyaban who had made some minor oral insults towards members of the Sangha or Buddhist monastic community. Why should not then have Alaungphaya or Aungzeya, the barbarous man who slaughtered 3,000+ monks, been boycotted by the Burman monastic community? Why is this barbaric man who died and fell head first to the deepest hell two and a half centuries ago still included in the present list of the Burman national heroes? Now, the time has come for the golden peacocks, monks and laymen, to be brave enough to speak out and promise to do what should be done towards truly cleansing and healing the ugly wound. There are the golden sheldrakes, monks and laymen, who would help for this. Without properly cleansing and healing this ugly wound on the Road of Buddha Sasana, we cannot go any further. As a Buddhist, I believe there are supernatural forces that have been very angry.

Historical Issue Between the Mon and the Burman

As mentioned above, the Mon has the longest history with the Burman since the known beginning of the Burman in Pagan. There is a Burman saying, the beginning of the Burman was from Pagan. At the time of Pagan, the Mon had their own independent country namely Suvanabhumi or literally Golden land. The Burman received Buddhist literature and cultural heritage from and via the Mon. So, in the practice of Buddhist literature and culture, the earlier Mon society was naturally mature than the later Burman society. Buddhism and the Mon people are undividable. As Ashley South puts it, the Mon has acted as a vector in the transmission of Theravada Buddhism to the peoples of Southeast Asia. All through the long period of the Mon-Burman history, the Burman rulers, except King Kyansittha, have all used force of arms in relating to the Mon society. Blinded by the racial and racist pride, in stead of expressing thanks and gratitude to the Mon, the successive Burman rulers or governments have always bitten the hand that fed their Burman society.

The socio-political problems that have occurred between the Mon and the Burman from the period of Pagan up to the present day are also to be solved for the sake of long-lasting or permanent Mon-Burman reconciliation and friendship. Without the Mon-Burman reconciliation and friendship, true peace cannot be brought about in this largely-Buddhist country. The one-sided accounts of the history written by the war victors are to be rejected. History is history. It is only the accounts of events that had happened in the past. It might be good or it might be bad. We cannot change it. We should not conceal the bad nor exaggerate the good. Both the good and the bad parts are to be learned in order to keep up the good and avoid the bad for the benefit of the present and future generations. Both the Mon and the Burman historical perspectives the losers perspective and the victors perspective -- are to be evaluated in a fair and impartial manner and to be re-written from the point of view of wisdom that will benefit not just the peoples of Burma but the whole world.

What Is the Correct Political Solution for Burma?

As mentioned above, there are 8 ethnic majorities and 100+ ethnic minorities in Burma. When we say ethnic majority, the language is not less important than the number of population and the historical background of the people. There is a Mon precautionary saying: If the Mon written language or literature disappears, the Mon people will be extinct. Language is the most important organ of the Mon people. What is the political goals of the peoples or the ethnic nationalities of Burma, including the ethnic Burman? A democratic federal union? Or a federation of independent nations?

Will the Burman agree to recognize the living legitimacy of the independent Monland of Hamsavati, which was unlawfully occupied and annexed by the Burman in 1757? The International Court of Justice of the United Nations will need to be strengthened to grow up to the maximum possible maturity level. As law has retroactive power, it is very possible for the Mon to restore lawfully its homeland, which may be smaller than its original, former size, depending on the present geographical distribution of the Mon population that should include those Burmanized Mon descendants who may reclaim their being Mon nationals. To establish an independent republic of the Golden Monland of Hamsavati, of course, is the ultimate political goal of the Mon people.

Disintegration of the Union is not the Burmans concern and none of the Burmans business. The Burman may also secede from the Union if it wants to. The Burman people do not need to worry for the non-Burman peoples. The non-Burman peoples will determine their own fate and destiny, because they have the right to. The Burman people should realize that all the non-Burman peoples have hated and feared the chronic ethnocentric Burman rule. To be loved, respected and trusted by the non-Burman peoples, the Burman people will need to show their real broad-mindedness, far-sightedness and fairness of mind. And the Burman should understand that this process will take time.

The NLD has expressed its opposition against the recent declaration of the Shan State independence. This clearly shows that the Burman-dominated popular National League for Democracy does not recognize the right of the non-Burman peoples to determine their own fate and destiny. That is to say, the Burman-dominated NLD has failed to show its genuine good will towards the non-Burman peoples in order for it to be trusted by them. If the Shan people decide to secede from the so-called Union of Burma and choose to live independently, it is their right to do so. Their secession only means that they exercise their right. When they are determining their own destiny by exercising their own right, it is unfair for us to oppose their decision. Historically, the Burmans concern of disintegration of the Union has always been mixed with its desire for keeping the non-Burman peoples under its ethnocentric rule. Disintegration of the Soviet Union has proved that more peoples have become independent and are now able to represent themselves in the United Nations with full dignity as those old UN member nations, thereby helping the United Nations in finding out the correct solutions of the crises occurring in the Fourth World and thus strengthening the UN in its peace-making process.

For Mon-Burman reconciliation and friendship, it is necessary for the Burman people to publicly condemn King Alaungphaya and officially put him in the place of an evil monster for all his unforgivable violence and insults against the Buddha Sasana and for all sorts of atrocities that he had inflicted upon the Mon people? And will the Burman definitely follow in charismatic King Kyansitthas footsteps? It is only the responsibility of the present Burman leaders to convince and unite all their fellow Burman people to cultivate and show Kyansitthas heart and spirit that will be welcomed, applauded and supported by not only the Mon but other non-Burman peoples. If so, true peace shall come to Burma, the Land of Pagodas.

The views express here are solely the opinions of the author.  (Kaowao Editor)


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