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Issue No. 84, 2004
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KAOWAO NEWS NO. 71

An electronic newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma

July 4-19, 2004

 

READER’S FRONT  

 

NMSP MEMBERS ARRESTED WHILE COLLECTING FUNDS

 

MON RESETTLEMENT SITES SWELLS TO MORE THAN 5,000 IDP

 

RICE FIELDS FLOODED OUT BY HEAVY RAINS

 

MON CANADIAN PITCH IN FOR BUDDHIST TEMPLE

 

SUMMER CLASS FOR MON CANADIAN CHILDREN

BURMA FORUM IN CANADA

 

SUU KYI ABSENT FROM MARTYR’S DAY CEREMONY

 

AJAR WAT SINGH PASSES AWAY


READERS' FRONT

 

Dear Readers,

 

We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kao-Wao newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kao-Wao 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. Above all, we hope the newsletter will be used as a vehicle for those who want to share their views and experiences.  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@hotmail.com, kaowao@shaw.ca

www.kaowao.org

__________________________________

 

On Ajar Wat Singh passes away

 

We are sorry to hear this sad new as Mon people lost one of their patriots. We would like to share the same sorry with you in this historical moment.


With all best wishes,


Parliamentary Democracy Party (
Burma )

(Liberated Area)

___________________________________________

 

I feel deeply sorry about his passing.  He was a great supporter for Mon national cause and I learned many things from him, especially about the first Mon politician in post war era Mon Po Cho. We will miss his positive outlook on Mon politics, his generosity and his warm feeling for anyone who needed help.

 

Sunthorn Sripanngern

Mon Unity League

_____________________________________

 

Passing away of Ajar Wat Singh is a great loss for all Mon people.  He will be remembered for his critical thinking, opened mind and candidly debate.

 

Ba Taing (Durae)

 


NMSP MEMBERS ARRESTED WHILE COLLECTING FUNDS

(Banyar Toay: July 11, 2004 )

 

New Mon State Party members were arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment while touring in the public and collecting funds for the party.

 

Eight members led by Nai Ron Nai, of Ye Township, were accused of holding arms on June 29, the day the NMSP reached a cease-fire agreement with the junta nine years ago.

 

According to Nai Tun Lwin, the cease-fire party reported to the local Burma Army IB No. 588 about their activities. The junta agreed to let them collect funds, but later rounded them up and packed them off to the Moulmein jail.

 

A source from the NMSP said their members were allowed to operate such fund collecting activities in the past, it is assumed that the reason for arrest this time was the junta’s unhappiness with the NMSP’s participation at the National Convention.

 

“New Mon State Party’s expectation of solving political crisis on the table is fading away.  The military junta is not happy with us while the Mon delegation proposed a power sharing outline at the Convention; it is the main reason they postponed the Convention,” Lwin said as quoted from the Mon delegates.

 

“The NMSP was active in proposing some agendas and it became the main group to speak out.  As it has in history, the SPDC refuses to discuss anything to do with power division between States,” a young Mon politician added.  “They can pressure us in many ways.  Our members can always be charged by many acts such as holding guns, driving without a license and holding unofficial documents; there is no security for us.”

 

According to the source, the NMSP now cannot negotiate for the release of its members with the Military Intelligence because the MI itself has limited power at the moment.

 

Another source from Moulmein said the Mon National Democratic Front has asked the NMSP to withdraw from the NC where there is no fruitful solution.

 

A senior member of the NMSP said that Gen Khin Nyunt told them to solve the political problems at the National Convention after they have reached cease-fire agreement in 1995. But their fate is fading away.  He speculated that the NMSP will also be restricted in doing business in the future because it has challenged the junta at the NC.


MON RESETTLEMENT SITES SWELLS TO MORE THAN 5000 IDP

(By Taramon: July 7, 2004 )

 

Sangkhlaburi – The number of internally displaced persons in Mon State has risen recently due to an increase in military activity in the rural area. There are more people coming into the camp than in previous years, said a Mon Relief and Development Committee.

 

According to the MRDC, IDPS are affected by civil war back home and the numbers of IDPs in the Tavoy Resettlement this year have increased due the Burma Army’s sweeping raids and army operations. The BA, bent on maintaining stability in the region and assimilating the Mon people, is cracking down on the Mon guerrilla group HRP since last December.

 

A village headman reported that General Maung Bo, at a meeting, threatens the local people when he first enters the villages, gesturing his hands and pointing his fingers at the frightened villagers, “how can the Mon rebels move around and survive without your support. YOU are rebel sympathizers.”  The general convinced of collaboration then launches his military operations and razes villages he suspects of supporting rebels when he visits Ye township, Mon State .

 

“Some people sneak out from their villages separately to avoid the SPDC’s (State Peace and Development Council) eyes, then try to get to Tavoy Resettlement through the thick, dense jungle,” Nai Doung Htaw, the committee member said.  He added they risk being tortured or shot dead by the BA if found escaping from their villages.

 

One family, Htaw said, sent their young son and daughter, age 12 and 10, one month ahead to the Tavoy Resettlement; the parents will soon follow when it’s safe to do so to avoid the SPDC.

 

Human traffickers wait at the border and lure IDPs to go to neighboring counties, offering them good employment, like Thailand , since living at the resettlement camps is not the safest or the best place to live.

 

A recently arrived IDP family from southern Ye reported, farmers in their village are banned from going to their farms by the BA, are burdened with paying illegal taxes, and most often are forced into labor, then discarded like used waste when they grow exhausted. Houses owned by the families of Mon guerillas are raided, looted and burned down, with people being beaten, tortured, and murdered. 

 

Nai Ha, a social worker of the MRDC who recently visited Ye area said whole villages are also forced into joining the local militia forces; most of the refugees are from southern Mon State where the military offensives have been launched.

 

Not only are IDPs sitting ducks for snakeheads, but also life in the rural is fraught with a range of human rights abuse such as rape, torture, killing, portering, and land confiscation.  At present there are over 5,000 IDPs taking refuge in the Mon resettlement sites.


RICE FIELDS FLOODED OUT BY HEAVY RAINS

(Reported by Lavi from Northern Mon State : July 4, 2004 )

 

Surging mountain streams and flash floods have destroyed rice paddy fields along the boundary of Mon and Karen States after the long heavy rains during the monsoon season.

 

“The flash flood destroyed whole paddy fields.  This is an unusual flood by the end of June,” said a local Mon woman Mi Woot.

 

In previous years around July and August this area is normally flooded, but the early unusual flood worries farmers who are concerned about their crops.  A village headman said local farmers have to wait if for less rain to grow the crop again. 

 

Most people in the area live by growing paddy for several years, but many farmers have abandoned their farms to go to work in Thailand due to the deteriorating economy in Burma .  Other farmers now are also planning to leave their farms and seek jobs in Thailand after the monsoon rains, according to the headmen from the area.


MON CANADIAN PITCH IN FOR TEMPLE

(Kao Wao: July 5, 2004 )

 

Mon community in Calgary held a special meeting on July 4 in Calgary to prepare for a second round of fundraising for a Buddhist temple.

 

The meeting was opened in the afternoon with chanting to Lord Buddha and welcoming messages from the Mon Buddhist Temple ( Canada ) leader Nai Khaing Waeng.  The gathering formed an event organizing committee led by Nai Cham Toik, Mon Sorn Mon and Nai Chit Simon for the upcoming event scheduled for Saturday, September 11, 2004

 

Last year in August, the MBTC hosted a fund raising event and raised about $1,500 Cdn for the temple.  According to Treasurer Ms. Anjalii Mon, the MBTC has about $17,000 raised by the community to build the temple in 2005.

 

Buddhism flourished within Mon culture with the majority following the teaching of Theravada Buddhism that strongly influenced cultural development in their old Kingdoms in lower Burma and central Thailand . The Mon continue to be devoted Buddhists in the exile communities and have built Buddhist temples in Los Angeles and Fort Wayne in the USA in recent years.


SUMMER CLASS FOR MON CANADIAN CHILDREN

(Kao Wao: July 11, 2004 )

 

Calgary based Mon Cultural Society opened summer literacy class to teach their children how to read and write in their own language.

 

The leaders Nai Ong Tamah and Nai Su Mon held the opening ceremony on Sunday afternoon with speeches.

 

Ms. Pyah Sorn, Ms. Ai Nondae and Ms. Layeh Mon were assigned as volunteers to teach Mon children in two classes for this summer.

 

“I will try my best to teach the children how to speak and read our language because the Mon children here don’t want to speak in our mother tongue and we need to encourage them to preserve Mon literature and culture,” said Ms. Sorn, a young girl who taught at the Mon refugee camp in Thailand Burma border before coming to Canada.

 

The aim of the MCS is to promote and preserve Mon culture, literature, and social life, and to assist the Mons in the homeland and in exile.  The Mon Community in Canada was first founded in 1995 by a group of Mon who gathered in Toronto during the Christmas holiday season.


BURMA FORUM IN CANADA

(Kao Wao: July 9, 2004 )

 

Burma Forum was convened on July 3rd and 4th, 2004 in Ottawa with Burmese and Canadian activists.

 

The main objective of this forum is to establish a stronger and more inclusive consultative process among Burmese Activist Communities in order to effectively advocate for the issues facing Burma with the Canadian Government, Public and Civil Society Organizations.

 

“This meeting is just the first step. We also recognize the urgency and importance of communicating with broader Burmese Activist Communities who were not present at the forum. We believe that this forum can be a place where we can share, discuss and develop different action plans to help restore democracy in Burma ,” said Coordinator Ko Tin Maung Htoo.

 

Topics on Economic Sanctions, Humanitarian Assistance, Assessment of Current Political situation in Burma , Community Initiative and Services, and Networking were widely discussed during the gathering.

 

A former student leader Ko Aung Myint Kyi said the event was very fruitful with participation of younger generation from all parts in Canada .  Participants decided to use the name Burma Forum – Canada as a place for consultation among Burmese activist communities in Canada in order to consolidate and strengthen actions in the democratic movement.

 

The forum will be held every year and it was agreed that the participants will become member of the Coordinating Committee and a Coordinator was selected to carry out the operational activities of the forum.


SUU KYI ABSENT FROM MARTYR’S DAY CEREMONY

(Cited from AP: July 19, 2004 )

 

YANGON - Myanmar ( Burma ) marked the anniversary Monday of the assassination in 1947 of independence hero Gen. Aung San, but absent from the ceremony was his daughter pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who's under house arrest by the military government.


It was the second year that Suu Kyi missed the ceremony at Aung San's mausoleum, the only official event that the junta has allowed her to attend and the only time her picture has appeared in the state media.


The government reviles Suu Kyi, but her father is officially considered a hero for his struggle for independence for
Myanmar _ then known as Burma _ from its former colonial master, Britain .


A political rival gunned down Aung San and eight other Cabinet ministers on
July 19, 1947 , six months before formal independence. The assassination is marked every year as Martyr's Day.


The ruling junta apparently didn't ask Suu Kyi to send a representative to this year's ceremony, as it did last year, when she also was under detention.


Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party hadn't received any word from her on the matter, said party spokesman U Lwin. The party was set to hold a private ceremony at its headquarters on Monday, he said.


Monday's ceremony at the mausoleum was attended by diplomats and relatives of the other eight who were slain with Aung San. The culture minister, Maj. Gen. Kyi Aung, represented the government.


A representative of Suu Kyi's estranged elder brother,
U.S. citizen Aung San Oo, laid a wreath at the tomb on Monday.


Martyr's Day was an important event in
Myanmar 's calendar for years, but it's been gradually downgraded since Suu Kyi rose to prominence following a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was crushed by the junta.


The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power after the NLD won in a landslide. Suu Kyi has since spent long periods in detention or house arrest.

She was arrested again in May 2003 following a deadly clash between her supporters and a pro-government mob.


Since 1996, official newspapers have abandoned an earlier tradition of publishing commemorative Martyr's Day biographical sketches of Aung San along with photos of slain leaders and articles extolling them.


On Monday, all newspapers which are owned or controlled by the government were full of news and pictures of Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt's recent visit to
China
.


AJAR WAT SINGH PASSES AWAY

(Kao-Wao, Bangkok , July 17, 2004 )

 

    Revered senior monk Ajar Uttama passed away on July 16, 2004 .

 

Rev. Dhamma Deana from Bangkok reported that the well-known monk was not feeling well and accidentally fell down from his chair at Wat Singh monastery in Bang Plat, Bangkok , Thailand in the evening at 5:30 pm local time. 

 

Ajar Wat Singh, known as Talagon ShweDaw, closely worked with United Mon Association leader Mon Pho Cho and politicians for several years.  He was involved in politics since his youth. As a young monk he co-founded Hoi Ta-Ga Way Soi (Mon Young Monks Union) in Burma .  He attended Taung Gyi ethnic nationalities conference in Shan State and was then forced to flee Burma in the mid 60s during General Ne Win’s BSPP repressive government.

 

In exile, the revered monk actively supervised various activities for education, social and national affairs; he was appointed as Vice President of the Mon Red Cross Association and Advisor for overseas students and monks organizations.

 

“I feel deeply sorry about his passing.  He was a great supporter for our cause and I learned many things from him, especially about the first Mon politician in post war era Mon Po Cho. We will miss his positive outlook on Mon politics, his generosity and his warm feeling for anyone who needed help.” said Sunthorn Sripanngern of the Mon Unity League.

 

The 72 year old abbot was born on July 31, 1932 in Durae, Mon State from Nai Tun Pe and Mi EeBong.  After leaving Monland, he first settled at Ban Rai Mon village, at the Thai Burma border and later lived at Wat Singh; he remained there for 38 years. 

 

The author of “Mon people and Buddhism” and fluent in Mon, Thai, Burmese, English and Pali languages; he enjoyed reading, collecting books and received “Phra Khru Pl

 title of Thailand and B.A. degree from the Colombo University of Sri Lanka.

 

The funeral service and cremation for the abbot will be held from July 19 to 29 in Bangkok .


KAO WAO NEWS GROUP

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ABOUT US

Kao-Wao Newsgroup is committed to social justice, peace, and democracy in Burma . We hope to be able to provide more of an in-depth analysis that will help to promote lasting peace and change within Burma . Editors, reporters, writers, and overseas volunteers are dedicated members of the Mon activist community based in Thailand . Our motto is working together for lasting peace and change.

 

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                                           Copyright 2004, Kaowao.org. All Rights Reserved.
                                         Saimon

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