Unity among the Peoples of Burma by Feraya

The late Chao Tzang Yawnghwe had said “Given a correct perception and grasp of political and historical realities and politics by Burmese leaders, there seems little reason why national unity cannot be achieved without resorting to war and bloodshed”.

I agree with him. However, I feel that unity can only happen when there is complete trust and equality between the two sides and not one trying to control or influence the other. It has to come from the heart, and it has to be sincere and genuine on both sides, and it takes time to build a good relationship. Unity cannot be forced upon another.

Speaking as an exiled Shan woman, but having Burmese friends as well as Shan friends from varied communities, to some extent I have an idea of how both sides feel about the situation of Burma.

In any race and any society, there are people who have wise, ethical and caring attitudes toward their fellow men and there are also people who are evil and selfish.

And there are also many Shan and Burmese to get along and live together very well.

However, we cannot turn a blind eye on the situation of Shan people as a whole. There are many reasons why for Shans in Shan State and other parts of Burma there is mistrust of the Burmese and it is because of how they’ve been treated in the past and in the present. As long as they don’t make waves, and as long as they please the regime by going along with whatever they impose on them and keep a low profile, they are to some extent safe. Our history and heritage has been destroyed and lied about, and we are not allowed to celebrate Shan National Day.

I’ve been told that many Shans in Burma call themselves by Burmese names and speak only Burmese language in public. It is as though they are frightened to be Shan. Continue reading “Unity among the Peoples of Burma by Feraya”

In many of the now restricted areas, such as Melamine, public places are full of security agents both in uniform and in plain clothes. These public places include the boat station, at the high way bus station and at the train station, according to sources.

Travel restrictions resisted Mon State
August 21, 2009
HURFOM: Beginning on August 12th, Burmese government authorities placed checkpoints restricting travel along roads through Mon State, in the areas such as Thanbyuzayat, Mudon and Moulmein.
According to a resident who lives near the Thanbyuzayat checkpoint, police and soldiers from State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Infantry Battalion (IB) No. 62, have been thoroughly checking all travelers identity cards and bags, and been made to answer question about the nature of their travel.
Every truck crossing the checkpoint is stopped by authorities at the Thanbyuzayat checkpoint. Passengers in the vehicle are questioned about where they were going, what they were going to do there, who they are going to meet and where they plan on staying while away from home. Passengers at the checkpoint have also had to give addresses to the authorities.
The majority of passengers stopped at the checkpoints have been from different townships. These travelers are often fined between 3,000 and 5,000 kyat before they are allowed to continue their journey.
“This kind of activity had stopped for several months, but now authorities have started again,” said 40 year-old Thanbyuzayat resident. “Passengers are facing difficulties in their travels as some are stopped at the checkpoint.”
Previously checkpoints were installed along area roads in 2008 when the SPDC passed the highly controversial 2008 constitutional referendum. After the referendum was passed, checkpoints were removed.
Like those in Thanbyuzayat, checkpoints in Mudon and Moulmein have brought increased restrictions on travelers. Every passenger truck has been forced to stop, so that passengers must walk across the checkpoint and face questions by authorities.
A Pong Shein resident told a HURFOM field reporter that, he was stopped on his trip home from Moulmein at a Mudon checkpoint. Authorities did not allow him to return home and was sent back to Moulmein because he forgot to bring his identity card. After he paid the security agents 5,000 kyat, he was allowed to go back home. This has been the case with at least a dozen other passengers who were stopped at the checkpoint.
In many cases the road blocks and restrictions placed by authorities went up rapidly and without warning, so that many travelers faced problems since they were traveling without their identity card for which they had to pay the checkpoint guards.
The cause for the sudden reintroduction of checkpoints and travel restrictions remains unclear. In many of the now restricted areas, such as Melamine, public places are full of security agents both in uniform and in plain clothes. These public places include the boat station, at the high way bus station and at the train station, according to sources.

Sao Yawdserk, the leader of the Shan State (SSA) South that has been fighting against Burma’s military rulers, has warned Thailand of more asylum seekers unless the regional grouping Asean gives a down-to-earth interpretation of its cardinal policy of non-interference.

col-yawd-serk He was speaking in connection to the Burma Army’s 5-day scorched earth campaign, 27 July – 1 August, that had left more than 10,000 people homeless in southern Shan State, according to the statement by Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) and Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) on 13 August.

His own statement issued today also put the loss of the villagers at K 936 million ($ 850,000).

“The RCSS (Restoration Council of Shan State, the political arm of the SSA) calls on Asean, in spite of its non interference in the internal affairs of a member state, and the UN to investigate and help resolve the problems of the Union of Burma,” he said. “We beg of you not to allow the Burmese military regime continue killing its own people and engaging in ethnic cleansing. Otherwise more and more refugees will be flocking to Thailand.”

The SSA leader also accused the regime of instigating a racial war. “We have never killed ordinary Burmese civilians because we regarded them as human beings,” he said. “What the Burma Army is doing is tantamount to inciting an inter-racial conflict.”

Sai La, son of Long Kham and Pa Sway, Mongkeung, for instance, was shot while he was begging the soldiers not to burn his house and his body thrown into a latrine pit, reads the statement.

Even Lahu villagers, whom the Burma Army is using as anti-insurgency militias, are not spared, it says. Many of them in Mong Leum village, Mongnawng sub-township, Kehsi township, were reportedly detained and tortured during the campaign.

According to the latest information, the Burma Army has allowed the villagers who were forcibly relocated to Laikha, Namlan and Mongnawng to return to their villages, many of which had been razed to the ground. “They are also checking and stopping the people from fleeing to Thailand and telling the international media of what’s happening back home,” said a young Shan activist to SHAN.
Sao Yawdserk

Denouncing the junta’s scorched earth campaign in Shan State, hundreds gathered in front of the Burmese embassies in several countries to call on the UN and ASEAN to take action on the junta’s crimes against humanity in Shan State.

On 20 August, more than 100 Shans gathered at Christian Center in downtown Bangkok and urged the Thai Government as well as ASEAN leaders to pressure the military regime to stop killing people and burning houses of the people in Shan State referring to the recent Burma Army campaign when more than 10,000 villagers were forcibly relocated and over 500 house were burned down by the military regime.

The elected representative of the ruling Democratic Party MP Wachara Petchthing and famous song for life singer Add Carabao were also reported to have participated in the gathering, said a source.

Similarly, on 18 August, over 100 Shans led by the Shan Nationals for Democracy-Japan (SND-Japan) and Shan State Nationalities Democracy -Japan (SSND-Japan) and other ethnic people living in Japan gathered outside the Burmese embassy in Tokyo for an hour and protested against the junta’s abuses to ethnic people in Shan State.

The protestors handed their statement to the embassy that urged the junta “to stop killing and abusing people in Shan State and other ethnic areas.” Continue reading “Denouncing the junta’s scorched earth campaign in Shan State, hundreds gathered in front of the Burmese embassies in several countries to call on the UN and ASEAN to take action on the junta’s crimes against humanity in Shan State.”

Government loans for fertilizer smell fishy

Fri 21 Aug 2009, IMNA, Pannokkyar
The Burmese government is offering loans to farmers who need to buy fertilizer for their farms and plantations. According to sources, this abnormal loan is an attempt to win support for the Burmese government before the 2010 election.

Previously, the Myanmar Agriculture offered small loans and Development Bank based on the volume of land the applicant owned. These loans were only given between May and June, and carried a monthly interest rate of 3% that had to be paid back every quarter.

The cost of the fertilizer, available through the loan, slightly undercuts’ the price of fertilizer normally sold in markets. Normally costing 26,000 to 27,000 Kyats per sack, the fertilizer provided by government manufacturers to village headmen, sells for 25,000 kyat a sack.

A resident in Mudon told IMNA, “Any farmer can take out a loan for however much he wants. There is a need for money to buy fertilizer this planting season and now it is the right time to fertilize plants.”

The new loan carries no interest rate and villagers are allowed to take out loans for as many Kyat as they want. However, the loan does carry some restrictions. It is only available through village headmen, and is only good for fertilizer that also must be purchased, at a discounted rate, through the village headman.

“The loan has never been like this in the years past. The Township Peace and Development Council [TPDC] instructed the heads of the villages to lend the loans to farmers,” a local farmer explained, adding his opinion that, “It is possibly in preparation for the campaign of 2010 election.” Continue reading “Government loans for fertilizer smell fishy”

Mon splinter group demands money from farmers

Fri 21 Aug 2009, IMNA, Kon Hadae
A Mon splinter group has been asking for money from farmers in Mudon township. ?

On August 16th members of the Mon Peace and Defense Front (MPDF) gave out letters to farmers asking them to give money to the MPDF, said a local source.

The general Nai Aung Naing has commanded the MPDF, though he is not known to have had any involvement in the recent request for money.

According to locals, in the recent letter issued by the MPDF, the group demanded 1,500 kyat per acre from farmers. The letter states that the group will come in person and take the money from the farmers.

“As I heard, from the farmers, they do not go and give the money to the group. They [MPDF] will come and take the money on their own,” said one villager. “But they [MPDF] did not say when they come and take the money from the farmers.”

Nai Aung Naing was a former major general of the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), the armed wing of the New Mon State Party (NMSP). He split from the NMSP in 2008, forming the MPDF but left the group to join the monkhood in 2009.

In June IMNA reported that as a monk Nai Aung Naing was working to organize Senior Monks in Mon state to join the MPDF to support him for a position in the coming 2010 election. At that time MPDF members attempted to organize abbots from different monasteries to support him.

At this time there has yet been no report of MPDF members coming to collect money from farmers, according to sources.

It remains unclear why the MPDF has been asking for money. But according to one local farmer, “As I am heard in Mudon township, why Nai Aung Naing asked money the farmers is because they [MPDF] will buy weapons with this money.”

– Senior Southeast Asian officials have agreed to ask their foreign ministers to appeal to Myanmar to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesia said on Friday.

f approved, it would mark a firmer stance than the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) over Myanmar which has merely expressed “deep disappointment” at Suu Kyi’s detention.

Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention, was sentenced last week to a further 18 months of house arrest for violating an internal security law after an American visited her home uninvited.

“We need to convey our legitimate concerns over the case of Aung San Suu Kyi. Be it in the form of a letter or joint statement it’s up to the foreign ministers to decide,” said Imron Cotan, Indonesia’s delegate at the Jakarta meeting and the secretary general of the foreign ministry.

ASEAN has a policy of non-interference in its members’ domestic affairs and is seen by many as as a toothless talking shop.

Suu Kyi’s sentence means she will be unable to take part in elections next year that have already been dismissed by critics as a sham aimed at legitimising the army’s grip on power.

The United States and the European Union have condemned Myanmar over Suu Kyi’s detention, but their influence over the junta is limited given the former Burma’s thriving trade with China, India and Thailand.