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Issue No. 75, 2004
Kao Wao Team
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An electronic newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma

August 9-27, 2004











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@telus.net




(Taramon, Kao Wao: August 27, 2004)

The New Mon State Party remains optimistic with its cease-fire policy with the junta despite it being sidelined at National Convention according to President Nai Htin.

The 84-year-old President said the NMSP participated at the government sponsored National Convention to hammer out a political solution, but was disappointed after the SPDC rejected proposals from the cease-fire groups.

The hope for democracy and a permanent change to the political situation faded away when Mon leaders listened to a speech delivered by Thein Sein, Chairman of NC, on the opening day ceremony, he commented.  We realized that the freedom of _expression could not be achieved after we heard this speech.  I dont think we can achieve our goals when the SPDC continues to persist on sticking to its basic principles.

The Mon delegation led by Nai Chan Toi and other cease-fire groups proposed an agenda for power sharing between the central government and states but had no chance to debate or discusses the issue.  Even though their proposals were ignored by the regime, the NMSP will push on ahead for a political solution, Nai Htin added.

When Kao Wao asked about the fate of NMSP members who were arrested by the junta for holding arms and collecting tax in Ye last June, President Nai Htin replied that the NMSP would discuss the situation with the SPDC authorities as a special case agreed to by two partners when the cease-fire deal was signed in 1995.

The NMSPs President is optimistic on the cease-fire agreement with the SPDC and believes that a positive outcome will be achieved for the release of their members jailed by the junta in Moulmein .

He also urged the Mons in exile to be united and to cooperate with each other to promote the Mon political role. Nai Htin was chosen as President replacing Nai Shwe Kyin who died in March 2003.  He is well-respected by the majority of the Mon population and grass roots organization for his down to earth attitude and loyalty to the protracted national movement.  Despite his old age, he continues to live with his comrades at the jungle headquarters of the NMSP, BeeRee in Mon State .

Prior to Nai Htins interview with Kao Wao, Secretary General Nai Hongsar talked to the media that the relationship between the SPDC and the NMSP could be soured for arresting its members.  NMSP members led by Nai Ron Nai were arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment while touring in the public and collecting funds in Ye township on June 29, 2004.

Human Rights


(Kao Wao and IMNA report: August 22, 2004)

Local civilians are forced to work for the governments project in southern Mon State after the visit of Burma s senior leader General Maung Bo.

According to IMNA news, villagers conscripted as forced laborers were severely beaten by the Burma Army soldiers when they were found taking a rest while repairing the road, a government work project in Southern Mon State. 10 civilians from a quarter (bloc) of Khaw Zar and 10 others from villages around the area were forced to work on daily basis at repairing the road to promote Khaw Zar village into a Sub-Town. The road will connect to other villages and the BA forces local villagers to repair the road since the end of 2003. 

At least three or four people are beaten everyday, said Mr. Nai KonMon who witnessed the mistreatment; he was also forced to work for the road recently.

A week ago, when our group (from Khaw Zar) were working, three men, Nai Take, Thein Zaw and a 60 year old uncle (described as Nai Pus father) were nearly beaten to death because we were exhausted and took a break, Mr. Mon, who has regularly been forced to work for the BA, explained.

When the BA beats people in front of you, you must be careful not to watch them.  If so, they will turn on you and beat you with truncheon, he added.

Sick men have to work on the project if their household happens to be in the lineup for the duty.  If the soldiers catch you at home while you are sick, they will drag you out, beat and fine you on the spot, said Mr. Mon.

No. 3 Tactical Commands Colonel Nyi Nyi recruited the forced laborers among civilians in the area in order to implement the new Sub-Town and transportation projects. Local civilians are ordered to work with their own tools and supply their own food.

Currently, the Army is continuously conscripting forced labor in Khaw Zar and Mon villages nearby.  About 15 villagers from Hangan were forced to work everyday.  The villagers say they have been forced to work on the road construction since the Army promoted Khaw Zar and Lamine Villages to be Sub-Towns.

A village headman said when the government started construction road and repair projects, every household in the village was forced to work. There was serious mistreatment against the villagers.   The villagers described how inhumanely they were treated during the construction as, the soldiers beat them like a cow trader beats his cows severely one by one while climbing the mountains to Thailand for trade and the animals get too tired to walk.

The Army also collects money from the villagers twice or three times per month.  The army collected at least 30,000 Kyat from the better off families and 3,000 Kyat from poorer families each time, the villagers told IMNA.

The Nationality Race and Border Area Development Program of SPDC implemented the construction of the road in the area.   On July 30, General Maung Bo from Defense Ministry paid a visit into the area and fired off instructions to develop the whole area.

The BA not only uses villagers for development projects but also uses them for portering, which includes carrying food supplies and ammunitions during their military operations against the Mon armed groups in southern Ye area.  Several villagers are forced to work in the army bases including building barracks and cooking food for the soldiers.


(Kao Wao: August 20, 2004)

The Peace and Development Council surveyed more land for a government project in Ye Township, southern Mon State according to local witnesses.

About 300 acres of land in Gu KhaTaw near Du-Yar (Durae) of western Ye were surveyed by Ye Township Peace and Development Council (Ye TPDC) authorities for the government, but details of the project are not yet known, say local villagers.

The State Peace and Development Council announced that the government would offer 2 million Kayts to build a local hospital in Du-Yar.  Villagers were very happy to hear the news, but were upset when they confiscated 8 acres of land. We are forced to pay out huge sums of money, about 10 million Kyats for the hospital project, said Nai Za.

Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association is in charge of the project and local authorities are taxing money from every household in the village.  Orders come from the Township Maternal and Child Welfare Association, which is responsible to organize village headmen and cease-fire leaders wives to get things going. 

Local Mon woman organization complained that the elite group in the community knows how to avoid forced donation leaving the poor people to pay and work on this project.


(Banyear Toay: August 21, 2004)

USDA in Mon state says that teaching Mon language will not support national development and reconciliation.

Teaching the Mon language is a barrier to national development and solidarity.  The SPDC will not achieve its objective of rural development in the area because of the Mon language-teaching, a USDA senior official of Kyaik Maraw Township said at the meeting last month.   The source from the Mon community in the township said the USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) responded negatively after the BBC News (Burmese language program) broadcasted that the government banned the Mon national school in Ye township. 

A senior leader of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) said that after the BBC broadcasted news about the NC and opinion of cease-fire leaders, the public were more inspired by the position of the ethnic groups.  The SPDC is concerned about the issue and also questioned the NMSP.

It is a concern in the community; with most wondering why the governments USDA quoted that teaching the Mon language acts as a barrier for rural development.  Meanwhile the USDA members in Thanbyu Zayat are taking a survey of Mon State s economic situation to persuade people with business opportunities.

General Maung Bo went to Ye township last month and donated to Buddhist monks and provided some financial aid for National schools and some joint SPDC-Mon National schools to organize local Mons for supporting the SPDCs rural development project.


(Taramon/ Sangkhlaburi: August 21, 04)

A brothel at Three Pagodas Pass border town was closed this week because clients did not pay the sex workers.

Most of their customers are SPDC officials and cease- fire groups and have not paid for the service several times, a Mon trader said.

About nineteen sex workers of Shwe Tagar (Golden Door) brothel house in the Three Pagodas Pass town went to Mon state two days ago after it was closed down, said a trader, Nai Ong. Most clients are those who have guns and power such as MI (Military Intelligence Service), policemen, Burma Army soldiers and cease-fire groups from Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Karen Peace Force and New Mon State Party. They visit the house without paying money and also take the girls outside.

The local source reported that the SPDC officials and cease-fire groups sometimes quarrel with another over girls, looking for beauty and fun. The owner doesnt dare argue with them (who hold arms in the brothel). Some local residents say they are familiar with a new slang word sex hijacked because the sex workers are forced to drive around with the clients without being paid.

Last month, according to a local medic from the Thai Burma border town, four patients from the NMSP clinic have been diagnosed with HIV. The Mon medics in the area are concerned about the sex trade and lack of prevention due to the increase of HIV cases in the area.

Kao Wao: August 16, 2004  

Mon communities in Calgary gathered at a Buddhist temple to pay tribute to Nai Non Lar who passed away 15 years ago on the first anniversary of 8888 at Thai Burma border.

Members of Mon Canadian Society and Mon Women Organization gathered at Khmer Canadian Buddhist Temple on August 15, Sunday, to donate food to monks and shared merit with the late leader.  The MCS read the memorial service describing the history of Nai Non Lar.  Nai Khaing Waeng and Nai Cham Toik also shared their memories and experiences with the late President during the revolutionary period.

Back home in Monland, the New Mon State Party held a commemorating ceremony and a statue of the late President was built this year at Hnee Padaw near Thanbyu Zayat town (his native village).

While serving as a village headman, Nai Non Lar (aka) Nai Seik Noh joined Mon Peoples Front and was deeply involved in the Mon national movement since its founding.  He was arrested along with other senior leaders after the military coup; he then joined the NMSP after his release.

Nai Non Lar, age 72, passed away from heart failure on August 8, 1989 while giving speech to students and monks on the first annual 8888 at the Three Pagodas Pass border town.  He was elected as Secretary General, President and Vice President of the NMSP.  


(Cited from Irrawaddy : By Aung Lwin Oo)

August 16, 2004 -- The well known Burmese poet and scholar Min Thu Wun, also known as U Wun, died at his home in Rangoon on Sunday, aged 96.

The ethnic Mon-Burmese writer was a legend in Burma s literary circles for his output of poems, reference books and pedagogical texts. Even the blind have been touched by his work: he created the Burmese Braille writing system.

Min Thu Wun also gained prominence as a Member of Parliament for the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD. His passing yesterday was marked quietly by family and friends in the Burmese capital.

He was born in 1909 in Mon State . At the age of 20 he began composing poems for the school magazine at Rangoon College , now Rangoon University .

He then began writing childrens poems and pursuing a masters degree in Burmese, which he received in 1935. While at university he was editor of the school magazine and Ganhta Lawka (World of Books) magazine, then one of the most widely read journals in Burma . In 1939, he received his bachelors degree in literature from Oxford University .

In the following years, Min Thu Wun cemented his legacy with a prolific output of childrens poems, and for helping to modernize Burmese literature, through a movement called Khitsan (New Writing).

He also helped write Mon-Burmese and Pali-Burmese dictionaries. His unique teaching methods have helped countless Burmese learn to read.

He was elected to Burma s parliament in 1990 as an NLD member. He resigned from the party in 1998, under heavy pressure from military authorities. The junta has barred Min Thu Wuns writings from appearing in local magazines and periodicals. It has also banned other writers who mention his name or refer to his works.

We no longer hear about him in any newspapers or radio in Burma , said the well known author Ludu Daw Amar. I wonder even if his obituary notice will appear [in the press].

Min Thu Wun is the 81st Member of Parliament who has died since being voted into office during the 1990 election, which the NLD won by a massive margin. The results have never been honored by the regime.


(Cited from Cultural Survival/ By Karin Oman: August 20, 2004)

The United Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) reported on August 5 that killings, torture, sexual harassment, and other human rights violations against indigenous people in Burma have continued, despite recent peace negotiations with insurgent groups.

The Karen National Union (KNU), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South), and small armed opposition groups in the Mon State are actively opposing the Burmese governments policies against indigenous peoples. In December, the KNU and the KNPP entered into a cease-fire, but fighting continues throughout the country due to the longstanding history of mistrust between the Burmese government and its indigenous people. For some indigenous groups, the only form of outside contact has been through violent interactions with the Burmese military.

"The country has been terrorized by the Burmese junta for more than four decades and the people have, time and again, tried to get rid of this tyrannical regime without success," said Sai Myo Win, general secretary of the Shan Democratic Union and ambassador of the Shan States. "Many lives have been sacrificed but still the military regime is intact."

Burma s government is headed by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), a military junta that largely focuses its energies on controlling opposition groups by destroying civilians' ability to support the groups with food, money, and intelligence. According to Win, the Shan, Mon, and Karen Karenni, who live in the eastern and southeastern part of Burma , are the worst hit due to the ongoing armed resistance against the occupying Burma army.

Win said the Shan State Army-South is well supported by the greater Shan population. The movement stands for the restoration of self-determination, equality, and democracy within the Shan State .

Yet indigenous civilians often find themselves caught between insurgents, who may be relatives or friends, and the Burmese Army, which accuses them of being rebel supporters. The Kao Wao news group reported on August 3 that the SPDC killed two Mon village headmen in Mon State . The two leaders were accused of supporting Mon insurgents.

As reported by several news and human rights organizations, including the Kao Wao news group and Amnesty International, rape and sexual harassment are also tactics that Burmese Army soldiers use against indigenous civilians. Soldiers target young girls and women in ethnic areas and threaten young single men in the villages. Nai Soe, a Mon civilian from southern Mon State seeking refuge at a camp on the Thailand border, told the Kao Wao news group that "The SPDC soldiers also threaten and intimidate young single men by pointing guns at them, after, they routinely search and stay at the houses of beautiful women." Many women and girls have been raped and some have fled their communities to seek refuge in Thailand due to shame and fear.

A SPDC policy known as four cuts aims to deprive militant groups of four things: money, food, recruits, and intelligence. The SPDC implements the cuts by means of forced civilian relocations. After a relocation deadline has passed, the army usually sends out patrols to destroy the villages and food supplies. A Christian Aid report from May 2004 states: "SPDC patrols hunt them, trying to force all civilians into army-controlled villages where everyone is used as forced labor, maintaining military access roads and portering supplies to outlying army camps. In the SPDC-controlled villages even food supplies are tightly controlled; rice cannot be bought without army permission, and farmers must hand over all food crops to soldiers, who eat most of it and hand back only a tiny and insufficient ration."

The United States Department of State 2004 country report for Burma cites estimates that say more than 2,500 villages have been destroyed or forcibly relocated by government forces since 1996, displacing more than 600,000 citizens. Win estimates that this "unimaginable human tragedy" has created more than 1 million internally displaced peoples and half a million refugees in neighboring countries.

"It should be clear that the people of Burma need help the way the German people needed to free themselves from the Nazi rule," Win said. "The same situation is also true with Burma ; if the international stakeholders will continue to be indifferent and refuse to come to the rescue, it will become a failed state and meet the fate of a slow death much sooner than we expect."

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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

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