A CALL FOR
EDUCATIONAL HELP FROM A PATRON
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
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
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.
His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha of
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,
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
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
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
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.
THE NATION, AGENCIES
Asia - AFP
US Congressmen take aim at UN Myanmar envoys,
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
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
"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,"
"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
Congressman Lane Evans said it was time for Razali
"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
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
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.
humanitarian crisis in eastern Burma
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
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
‘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
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
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.
recommend that the Burmese government:
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
the humanitarian crisis facing internally displaced people in eastern Burma and
give independent humanitarian agencies access to all areas to allow them to
the UN Special Rapporteur on Internal Displacement to visit Burma and assess
- allow the
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma to investigate allegations of
rape and other human rights violations against ethnic minorities
substantive tripartite dialogue with the National League for Democracy and
ethnic minority representatives.
We recommend that
UN agencies working in Burma:
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
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
dynamic and flexible humanitarian assistance programmes in areas of ongoing
conflict by working with local, community-based organisations.
We recommend that
the Thai government:
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
We recommend that
the UK and the Irish governments, the EU, other nation states
and the UN
human rights abuses against ethnic minorities by the Burmese army, and demand
that displaced people are protected from violence and have access to
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
ASEAN countries, and India and China to persuade the Burmese government to
follow a peaceful transition to democratic civilian rule and ethnic equality
Channelnewsasia - Posted:
16 May 2004 1228 hrs
constitutional talks dismissed as a sham ahead of launch
YANGON: 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
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
"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
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
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
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
Boycott sends tough message to Myanmar junta
BANGKOK: 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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
Review by Clarissa Lee
BURMA – WOMEN’S VOICES TOGETHER
Edited by the Thanakha
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
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.
- 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
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.