My Dear Friends:

I have been asked to help with finding volunteer teachers of English and other life skills for displaced Shan (Tai) children on the borders. There are at least 200,000 displaced Shan villagers who have been evicted from their homes and farmsteads in central southern States by the occupying troops of the Burmese SPDC dictatorship. These destitute people have nowhere to go and are eking out a desperate survival in the jungles on the borders of Thailand - Thailand does not officially recognize them as refugees but label them as "economic migrant workers". His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha of Yawnghwe

However the blessing, if it can be called that, is that the Thai authorities unofficially  recognize  the displaced Shan (Tai). whom they term "Thai-Yai" or "Elder Thai" & regard the displaced Shans as an internal "family" problem but nevertheless the plight of the displaced people are acute.

What we Shan exiles abroad are helping to do is to provide schooling for the displaced children because their parents are unable to provide this; and we hope too to provide some training in life skills to fend for themselves and their families in the future.

We are looking for volunteers from North America of all ages who want adventure and don't mind a little bit of hardship without the good amenities of life that we in North America take for granted. Our people in Thailand will provide basic food and lodging but I am afraid, our internal funding does not run to providing for travel. Your assistance, suggestions and input would be most welcome.

 What we are also seeking to do is to set up a Scholarship Fund for worthy students in the Shan States to send them to universities internally within "Burma". Of course the standards not as high as they they are abroad, but it is better than nothing and much more cost effective as we can support one undergraduate student on $100 per year or a post graduate student at $200 !! His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha of Yawnghwe

Perhaps some US Schools could take up the challenge in providing Scholarship Funds for use in my homeland. Our future lie with our young and  we can do no better than to provide an education for them and for America to help provide the foundations for a literate and democratic society on the backdoor steps of the Peoples Republic of China.

Sincere regards,   

His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha of Yawnghwe

Contact - Dr. Carl Edwin Lindgren

The Nation - Wednesday, November 05, 2003     
Jackson seeks to up pressure on Burma
His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha of Yawnghwe
Published on Nov 6, 2003
High-profile US civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson yesterday called for increased pressure to be applied on Burma's military junta and appealed to the Thai government to treat refugees humanely.
Jackson made his calls after visiting the Ban Kwai displaced persons camp, about three kilometres from the Burmese border in the northern province of Mae Hong Son.
He is in Thailand as part of an international human-rights and peace campaign.
"They [the refugees] have the natural right to live in Burma in peace and have the international right to be here [in Thailand] while the former option is not yet possible," Jackson said prior to his trip as he spoke at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on Tuesday.
The 18,256 residents of the camp, mainly belonging to the Karenni ethnic minority, have fled their homes in Burma due to brutal repression by the country's ruling junta.
The Thai government plans to close down all the refugee camps in the country, amid strong concerns from human-rights groups that repatriating them could put the refugees' lives in danger as political unrest in Burma continues.
Jackson called on the world community to "apply more economic and diplomatic pressure" on the generals who rule Burma to compel them to stop the repression that causes refugees to flee to Thailand and other neighbouring countries.
The veteran rights campaigner also commented on Thailand's role after it received Major Non-Nato Ally status from Washington last month, saying that he hoped the Thai government would not trade off the needs of its people to the war in Iraq.
"We spend too much money on war [while] our children need education so they will not end up becoming child labour," he said.
Jackson's visit to Thailand was arranged by the International Peace Foundation, which is organising a "peace summit" of political leaders and Nobel Prize winners in Thailand from this month until April next year.
The Nation Channel (TTV 1) will broadcast Jackson's exclusive interview with Nation Group editor-in-chief Suthichai Yoon tomorrow at 10pm.
Nantiya Tangwisutijit

Asia - AFP
US Congressmen take aim at UN Myanmar envoys, policies
Wed Nov 5, 8:30 PM ET 
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Frustration at Myanmar's political plight boiled over in the US Congress as representatives charged the United Nations (news - web sites) with "failure" in its drive to smash the deadlock between the opposition and the military government.
The coordinated attack came hours after UN rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro interviewed political prisoners at Yangon's notorious Insein jail, on a mission which he also hopes will ease the human rights situation in the military-ruled state.
He also hopes to see democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who is under house arrest.
Congressman Joseph Crowley of New York recalled how for the past three years the United States had supported the UN bid to spur talks between Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and the junta.
"Let me be blunt -- that effort and the effort of UN envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro has failed," he said.
"It has failed mainly because the regime refuses to participate in the talks."
"While the regime promises, as it has for the past fifteen years, to make a transition to democracy, there is absolutely zero evidence to suggest that this is true.
"To make matters worse, the regime has been attacking and killing the very people they are supposed to be talking to."
New York Republican Peter King also raised concern about the UN's efforts in Myanmar, the former Burma.
"We need to take a serious look at the efforts of the United Nations Secretary Generals special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail," he said.
"Are his efforts hampering or helping the struggle for freedom in Burma?"
Pennsylvania congressman Joseph Pitts, also savaged the role of the world body in Myanmar.
"The UN has spent years encouraging the regime to dialogue with the opposition, but to no avail -- the regime continues to stall any progress," he said.
"The US, the UN Security Council and the international community must act now to stop the atrocities, oppose the blockage of humanitarian aid, bring an end to the suffering of the people of Burma, and address the regional security problems from this regime," he said.
Congressman Lane Evans said it was time for Razali to go.
"We need to strengthen the authority of the UN envoy and replace him with someone capable of rallying international support for change," he said.
"The present system is not working -- let's fix it."
The remarks betrayed growing frustration on Congress at the lack of a breakthrough in Myanmar, despite increased US pressure in the form of bolstered economic sanctions and UN engagement.
Pinheiro, on Tuesday met Myanmar's Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt who announced a planned "roadmap" to democracy after being appointed premier in August.
Myanmar's opponents in the United States and elsewhere however have branded the "roadmap" as nothing more than a ruse to deflect attention from the lack of progress.
Pinheiro would be only the second outsider to visit Aung San Suu Kyi since May 30 when she was arrested after her convoy was ambushed by a pro-junta gang in northern Myanmar.
Ismail saw her early last month but did not shed much light on the May incident, which reportedly left dozens of people dead, and observers hope that during his six-day mission Pinheiro can clarify what happened.
The ruling generals last month shifted the 58-year-old Nobel peace laureate to her lakeside residence in Yangon so she could recuperate after undergoing major gynecological surgery.

Burma's Dirty War

The humanitarian crisis in eastern Burma

Executive summary

Up to a million people have fled their homes in eastern Burma in a humanitarian crisis that the world’s powers have almost entirely ignored. Some of them have fled to Thailand, where they exist in a no-man’s-land of refugee camps or as illegal immigrants. But most are inside Burma.

They live in army-controlled relocation sites or on the run in Burma’s harsh jungle. Surviving oncaches of rice hidden in caves or on roots and other wild foods, they face malaria, landmines and starvation. Pursued by the Burmese army, families are hunted like animals or starved into surrender.

These people – hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities in eastern Burma – are the principal victims of a ‘dirty war’ waged by the Burmese army. For more than 50 years, groups representing ethnic minorities have fought the Burmese army in an effort to gain greater political autonomy. During the past ten years, the conflict has intensified as the ethnic armies have lost control of their territories and ordinary people lost their refuge. In fighting the ethnic guerrilla groups along the Thai-Burmese border, the Burmese army has launched an all-out counter-insurgency war in which civilians are the deliberate targets and terror is a weapon of war.

Murder and rape, the destruction of houses, crops and food, forced relocation and the burning of entire villages, extortion and forced labour, are all routine. They are tactics in the larger counter-insurgency strategy to separate ethnic minority armies from popular support.

In interviews we carried out on the Thai-Burmese border, people told us of the shooting of family members as they lay huddled together in fields; of the torching of villages and planting of landmines around crops; and of the almost certain death facing those made to work for the army. Some told us how civilians were used as human minesweepers, forced to walk in front of army patrols to detonate deadly landmines.

‘When [the army] sees us, they kill us, rob us or enslave us. We have to run away,’ said one 35-year-old man whose village was shelled. ‘Almost every month we fled to the jungle,’ another told us. ‘Every month, two or three people were killed by the military.’ His family hid for months before deciding to leave for Thailand.

The Burmese military government, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), achieved notoriety after their brutal suppression in September 1988 of the pro-democracy uprising, costing thousands of lives. Its subsequent refusal to hand over power after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 placed it among the world’s pariah states.

Recent calls by the UN and others for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders, and the government’s announcement of a ‘roadmap to democracy’, including a National Convention to re-draft the constitution, may signal a climate of change.

But the spotlight, of both the media and governments, has focused on Rangoon and the rights of the opposition.

Far from the glare of the international spotlight, the growing crisis in eastern Burma has been largely unremarked. At this moment of possible change, it is imperative that the international community work to resolve not only Burma’s political crisis, but the humanitarian crisis on its eastern borders. A resolution requires peace, and a peace in which ethnic minorities and their representatives have a say.

This report, written after a trip to the Thai-Burma border in November 2003, reflects Christian Aid’s 20 years of work with Burmese refugees and displaced people. Since 1984 we have supported refugee camps through the Burmese Border Consortium, which today provides food and shelter to 140,000 people. Its staff give us increasingly alarming reports about conditions inside Burma. They speak of villages on fire, people fleeing for their lives into the jungle to escape army patrols, of hunger, death and disease.

Almost no one – with the exception of small, local ‘backpack teams’ – can enter eastern Burma to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. The Burmese government blocks international and local NGOs alike. Like the Burmese army’s ‘dirty war’, this denial of humanitarian access costs lives.

Here it is lives lost through starvation and disease.

Governments have given generously to help Burma’s refugees, not least the UK and Irish governments and the EU, all of which fund the Burmese Border Consortium. This is vital support.

But only a minority of Burma’s terrorised people can escape. The rest, trapped in army sites or hiding in the jungle, remain prisoners of starvation or terror.

We believe that these people should no longer be forgotten. They should no longer have to exist as the targets of terror, or be forced to live on the run, feeding their children grass and roots when the rice runs out. Governments, including those of the UK and Ireland as well as the EU, must join with the UN to press the Burmese government to open up its eastern borders to humanitarian agencies. The UN must have access so that it can fully and freely investigate the extent of the humanitarian crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Ultimately, however, the only answer to Burma’s suffering is a just and lasting peace.



We recommend that the Burmese government:

- cease immediately its policy of forced relocation in ethnic minority border areas

- cease immediately the gross human rights abuses, including forced labour, extortion and rape, that accompany such relocations, and respect the rule of law

- recognise the humanitarian crisis facing internally displaced people in eastern Burma and give independent humanitarian agencies access to all areas to allow them to provide assistance

- invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Internal Displacement to visit Burma and assess the situation

- allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma to investigate allegations of rape and other human rights violations against ethnic minorities

- engage in substantive tripartite dialogue with the National League for Democracy and ethnic minority representatives.

We recommend that UN agencies working in Burma:

- demand that the Burmese government grants humanitarian organisations independent access to the affected border areas and people of eastern Burma to assess the situation and provide humanitarian assistance.

We recommend that international non-governmental organisations working in Burma

from Rangoon:

- make an urgent, joint and formal request to the Burmese government for humanitarian access to displaced people in eastern Burma

- undertake humanitarian needs-assessment of conflict-affected areas with the help of local organisations

- support dynamic and flexible humanitarian assistance programmes in areas of ongoing conflict by working with local, community-based organisations.

We recommend that the Thai government:

- continue to grant displaced people fleeing Burma a safe haven

- take no action to repatriate refugees to Burma without their consent and until the conflict is resolved and the rights of returning refugees can be guaranteed.

We recommend that the UK and the Irish governments, the EU, other nation states

and the UN Security Council:

- condemn human rights abuses against ethnic minorities by the Burmese army, and demand that displaced people are protected from violence and have access to humanitarian assistance

- ensure that humanitarian organisations working with displaced people are provided with the necessary funds to support displaced people inside Burma and continue to support refugees in Thailand

- lobby ASEAN countries, and India and China to persuade the Burmese government to follow a peaceful transition to democratic civilian rule and ethnic equality in Burma.

Channelnewsasia - Posted: 16 May 2004 1228 hrs
Myanmar's constitutional talks dismissed as a sham ahead of launch
Myanmar's junta will open constitutional talks billed a first step towards democracy on Monday, but with Aung San Suu Kyi in detention and her opposition party boycotting, the forum has been discredited even before it begins.
The regime has insisted it will push ahead with the convention despite the National League for Democracy's (NLD) shock decision to pull out because of the restrictions against its leader and the repressive format of the talks.
But its plans to use the forum as a showcase for its stated plans for reform after four decades of military rule, and to deflect attention from a crackdown on the pro-democracy party, lie in tatters.
The United Nations, Washington and rights groups have expressed dismay over the collapse of the process, which far from advancing the national reconciliation cause has only highlighted the extent of the political divide.
Observers urged Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to reconsider its tough stance by relaxing the convention rules to allow free discussion and releasing Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy Tin Oo.
"Without the participation of the NLD and the release of two key political figures, it will be seen as a meaningless SPDC-dominated process," leading rights group Forum-Asia said in a statement.
Other critics said the convention would now become a "rubber stamp" forum just like the previous constitution-writing exercise which collapsed in 1996 when the NLD, which scored a 1990 landslide election victory, walked out.
"The NLD decision confirms the inherent illegitimacy of the national convention, which was conceived 14 years ago as an excuse for the regime to ignore the election it lost," said pressure group Altsean-Burma.
"We call on the international community to withdraw their support from the regime's so-called roadmap for democracy and instead, step up pressure to bring about a genuine dialogue process in Burma."
The roadmap was unveiled in August last year by Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt, in the face of intense international condemnation of a crackdown on the pro-democracy opposition, including the closure of its offices nationwide.
Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior NLD leaders were taken into detention after a junta-backed mob ambushed her political convoy during a tour of northern Myanmar, leaving dozens dead according to unconfirmed reports.
In the run-up to the convention, the NLD said it was "almost certain" to attend and that it expected the government to accommodate its demands, including that its leaders be freed and its offices be allowed to reopen.
It also asked the government to adopt reforms to the constitution-writing process including downgrading a clause which required the military to have a central rule in any future political scenario.
But to the surprise of diplomats and observers in Yangon, and the cheers of party faithful who remain defiant despite years of brutal repression, NLD chairman Aung Shwe said Friday its attendance would not "benefit the nation".
The United States urged the junta to reconsider so that the NLD and some pro-democracy ethnic parties who have joined the boycott could be involved in vital discussions about the country's future.
Washington hoped the regime "will take the views of the National League for Democracy and the United Nationalities Alliance into account in this process," the US State Department's deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also said he was "disappointed" that an agreement had not been reached.
Undeterred, the junta is pushing ahead with elaborate arrangements to host some 1,000 delegates at the convention centre north of Yangon, complete with beauty parlour, gym and medical facilities.
Foreign journalists have been barred from attending the event and the venue has been chosen to deter unwelcome outside scrutiny, located on a desolate site surrounded by military bases.

HiPakistan - May 16 2004
Boycott sends tough message to Myanmar junta

By deciding to boycott a constitutional convention in Myanmar, the country's main opposition party delivered an unequivocal message to the military regime - that it believes democracy cannot be trifled with.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) party made its intentions clear on Friday, when it refused to register as a participant at the constitution-drafting process due to commence on May 17.
Also on Friday, an umbrella group of ethnic-based political parties in Myanmar decided against joining the convention.
For their part, the NLD officials said the party's decision was based on the climate of oppression in the lead-up to the National Convention, and the junta's reluctance to free from house arrest the party's leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
"The NLD's decision was inevitable because there was no space provided for open debate and discussion during the National Convention," Teddy Buri, head of a group of Myanmar parliamentarians in exile, told IPS. "The NLD is a legitimate party with a democratic base, and it could not participate in a process hostile to democratic norms."
"The NLD is a people's party and it cannot abuse the trust the Burmese people have vested in it," said Soe Aung, external affairs director of the Network for Democracy and Development, a Bangkok-based group of Burmese political exiles.
"If they attended any kind of convention that does not bring democracy to the people, it will be seen as a betrayal," he asserted during an interview. "The ball is now in the SPDC's court and it is up to them to play soft or hard."
The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is the official name of the military regime.
In staying away from the convention, the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), made up of eight ethnic-based parties that ran in the 1990 parliamentary election, said it would be pointless to participate in the process, reported the 'Irrawaddy' magazine, based in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.
Part of the UNA is the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, which received the second largest number of votes after the NLD in the 1990 poll.
Rangoon's rulers, who renamed the country Myanmar, have refused to recognize the results of the 1990 parliamentary elections in Burma, where the NLD got more than 80 per cent of the 485 seats in the parliament.
Since then, the junta has crushed political freedoms and suppressed any person viewed as a threat to its iron grip on the country. Aung San Suu Kyi has been a regular victim, having been placed under house arrest many times.
The issue of Rangoon's lack of regard for democracy, say Myanmar watchers, was due to surface at the National Convention, which is part of a "roadmap" to pave the way for political reform.
This is because of a law - No. 5/96 - that prohibits any individual or political party from criticising the National Convention format designed by the SPDC and denies convention participants the freedom to shape a constitution that is an alternative to the one drafted by the military.
The law also places restrictions on the way speeches can be made during the convention. Those who want to do so have to write their speeches and get them approved from the military before it can be delivered.
Those who violate this law face prison terms that could range from five to 20 years.
In addition, the junta has assigned a place for the military in the planned constitution - and it will brook no compromise on its role in politics. "The SPDC has declared that the military must dominate the politics of the country, be at the centre," said Bejoy Sen of the Myanmar Lawyers' Council.
"They have been open and honest about that at least," he added during an interview. "There is no hide-and-seek."
These features, in fact, were evident the last time Rangoon invited political parties to sit with the military government to draft a new constitution. That National Convention, which began in 1993, ended abruptly after the NLD walked out in protest in 1996.-The InterPress News Service.

The Star Online - Sunday May 16, 2004

Voices against injustice
Review by Clarissa Lee
Edited by the Thanakha Team 
Publisher: ALTASEAN Burma, 187 pages  
WHAT I had thought to be another report on the ongoing violations of civil and human rights in Myanmar is actually a dark journey into the minds of human beings. This slim volume documents the lives of Burmese women from various ethnicities, their struggle to maintain their personal integrity under a cruel regime, and their unwavering hope for a better future. 
This anthology consists of testimonials, stories and opinions of Burmese women from within and beyond the borders of Myanmar. Some of them were writing from the Thai-Burmese border, with at least one writing from Bangladesh, another from India, a few from Bangkok, and the more fortunate ones from resettlements in Canada and Australia. But all of them share the hope of seeing the installation of a democratic institution in their homeland. 
Many of these intelligent and versatile women have been denied higher education due to the unrest in their country, economic oppression and enforced statelessness. Those from ethnic minorities found themselves doubly oppressed – they were suppressed within their own community and by the military junta’s programme of genocide. 
We read of Burmese women who scraped for a living as traders, teachers, nurses and NGO workers, while hapless ones were sold into the flesh trade and other exploitative work to repay the debts of their families. These young girls and their families are mostly illiterate and poor, and have almost no understanding of the economics of money or their rights. Thus they get caught in the vicious cycle of indigence and debt.  
The beauty of these stories told by the women of Burman, Chin, Karen, Mon, Rohingya and other ethnic origins is that they emphasise the importance of rights for women to attain a truly democratic society. While some of these writers have been to universities (at least for a short period), others had only finished primary or high school, and under rather straitened circumstances. Many of them did not have the chance to study feminist theories or gain an academic understanding of the subject. 
Yet, they recognise that fighting for a society that is not truly egalitarian in every sense of the word – be it for the ethnic minorities or the women – will mean just replacing one oppressor with another. The voices of the women are getting louder as they insist on active participation in the fight for freedom and democracy. They insist on being part of the decision-making. They insist that they be accounted for when their leaders, who usually are men, make decisions. 
Can you imagine not having any means of transport, proper amenities, or food and water, and having to hike through thick jungle in the darkness of the night to escape the junta’s surveillance? Imagine not being able see your family again because doing so will jeopardise their safety. This sounds like The Lord of The Rings transplanted onto Burmese soil. I am sure most of the people in Myanmar have not had the pleasure of watching this movie – especially as most villages do not have electricity (if they did, supply is often erratic). All forms of media are heavily censored and controlled in the country and the majority of the population has no access to the Internet. If they have had the chance to watch this movie, they would have empathised totally with Frodo and his gang. 
Women have been involved in many revolutionary processes, from Algeria to China, and all over South-East Asia. Franz Fanon spoke of them in his book, Wretched of the Earth. Yet, when peace is finally achieved, their voices are usually ignored. The writers in this book want to make sure that this will not happen to them. 
Reading Burma is like watching a docu-drama which has episodes on domestic violence, drug abuse, prostitution, high commodity prices, slums, homelessness and exploitative labour. The writers here highlight the same problems, and more. They lament the waste laid to their land, the death of their children, and the corruption within the society they are forced to live in. Natural resources are raped indiscriminately. Precious human resources are wasted with mass-killings.  
A fastidious reader may point out that the essays are not evenly edited; for example, the same Burmese words are spelt differently. Although the anthology is in English, the language has been appropriated and reproduced with a decided Asian flavour. This lack of evenness and the assimilation of English into the local syntax accentuate the character of the anthology. It reads like a more mature version of the Chicken Soup for the Soul, for the inspiration that it gives. 

GENERAL NEWS - Sunday 08 August 2004 Burmese forces wage battle near Thai border
By Subin Khuenkaew

Troops were on alert yesterday following fighting between Rangoon forces and the Shan State Army (SSA) at the Burmese border with Thailand.

A security source said the Pha Muang Task Force was keeping a close watch on the fighting, about one kilometre inside Burma, near Ban Piang Luang in Chiang Mai's Wiang Haeng district.

Four mortars landed in Thai forest, but no one was injured, the source said.

The battle was the first major clash between Burmese government forces and the SSA this year.

Col Yawd Serk, the SSA leader, said Rangoon troops were surrounding an SSA military post in the area in an attempt to take over the position. He said four Burmese soldiers were killed.