KAO WAO NEWS No. 45
An electronic newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF MAY 30
LAND CONFISCATION FOR ARTILLERY REGIMENT
REFUGEE MONKS SEEK PROTECTION
MORE YOUTHS IN THE CAPITAL LEARN MON
INTERVIEW: AN EVENING WITH DR. KANBAWZA WIN
STUDENTS FORM MASS MOVEMENT OPERATION COMMITTEE
THE FIRST PRINTING PRESS IN MONLAND
FOUNDATION OF NATIONAL UNITY
ILO AND FORCED LABOUR
We would like to thank all of our supporters for reading our news and for
sending comments to our “Readers’ Front”. Over the past week the
international and overseas Burmese communities have expressed outrage over
the assassination attempt on Aung San Suu Kyi’s life instigated by the
Burmese military. (To date it isn’t really known yet if ASSK is alive). This
comes at a time when the democratic imperative is at an all time high
regarding the George Bush administration in dealing with despotic regimes.
While the accompanying crackdown appears to increase the possibility of more
international sanctions there is a strong feeling among many that the
writing is on the wall for the Burmese regime to reform and begin
We invite an open discussion, comments and suggestions from all of you on
your thoughts on what appears to be the beginning of the end for the regime.
With your help, we hope that Kao-Wao News will continue to grow to serve
better the needs of those seeking
social justice in
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.
I have been following your discussion and articles of "
the UN” and “American Policy and the Uncivilized Burmese Generals” by
Kanbawza Win. I am not optimistic that US will get directly involve at this
stage. I do support all campaigns from Burmese community in exile and the
international community in pressuring the military regime for a change. I
also absolutely honor those who have been killed, who have sacrificed their
lives in the long struggle.
The situation now is tense and we all are frustrated. The time is ripe for
a change and all movements should work together in harmony. The mass
movement led by Daw Suu and international pressure is getting stronger and
it is a right time for the junta to get out. However, the armed groups (all
cease-fire and non cease-fire) fighting against the regime are inactive even
though I see a few statements from groups over the situation (DAB, NDF, ..).
While the 1988 nation wide uprising was almost surely to topple the
regime, the Karen and Mon (KNU and New Mon State Party) were fighting each
other. If the NDF (umbrella armed front) showed some action during that
time, this time the situation might be different. Would it be possible for
those armed groups to show more solidarity and support the non-violent
movement this time?
Kyaw Min (Pegu)
DETAILED EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF THE MAY 30 VIOLENT AMBUSH ON DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI AND HER ENTOURAGE
(Compiled from inside-Burma sources and translated from Burmese by Free
Eyewitness accounts of the regime’s ambush on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her
entourage as recounted by some escapees:
1. From a NLD member who worked at the NLD Headquarters in
part of the entourage
Shortly before the ambush, a convoy of about 7 trucks with their high beams
on was seen trailing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s motorcade. (Later the trucks
turned out to be the ones the army troops appropriated for their operation.)
When the motorcade reached between De-pa-yin and Bu-da-lin at about 1900
hrs, spikes and rolls of barb wire blocked the road ahead.
A well-known NLD member Daw Win Mya Mya was the passenger in the first car
whose tires were shot up. The
second car, a
behind Daw Win Mya Mya’s, came to a stop and whose passenger was beaten with
bamboo sticks, steel pipes, etc. The driver of the second car chose not to
drive away so that Daw Suu’s car, behind his, would have time to escape.
But the NLD supporters who were part of the entourage surrounded her car and
tried to protect it with their bodies.
As soon as the ambush began, searchlights were turned on bright from atop
the trees that lined the road on both sides. Also the headlights from the
army and Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA or the
regime-sponsored “grassroots” organization) shined on the NLD motorcade.
These lights aided the estimated several thousand (up to 5,000) riot
police, regular convicts posed as monks, and the USDA members in their
attacks on the unarmed NLD members and supporters.
During the ambush, the attackers used steel and iron pipes and sharpened
bamboo sticks. Gunshots were heard. Some were shot in the air to stop the
motorists on the entourage from driving away. The attackers pulled out of
the car NLD youth members who were assigned security duty for Daw Suu and
were in the same car, they were shot and killed on the spot, along with the
locals on the entourage who came to protect the NLD leader. In addition,
the local monks who were part of the growing entourage and the NLD
Headquarters staff were beaten with sharpened bamboo sticks with their hands
tied behind their backs.
The motorcyclists, as well as the NLD supporters and members who ran on foot
were hit with wooden sticks and steel pipes by the soldiers, riot police and
USDA members, who were waiting behind trees and bushes from on both sides of
the road. Some were seen shot to death as they ran for their lives.
Even some of the USDA members who got too frightened by the sight of the
merciless ambush tried to run away. Not only the NLD supporting locals,
but also these USDA members were chased around and beaten up by the security
The death toll could be between 80 and 110.
NLD headquarters escapees said because they wanted to avoid interrogation on
their way back to
jungles. Some were injured and some had not eaten for two days. Still
these escapees have not gone back to their own homes and remain in hiding as
the regime is hunting them down so as to prevent them from telling the true
story of what happened during the ambush.
2. From a driver who was forced to transport the attackers on his truck and
later escaped during the ambush
There were at least 50 trucks or lorries, which the authorities forcibly
collected as part of the ambush plan.
Immediately after the ambush, the authorities sorted the dead bodies in
different piles at the ambush site. Pile one had about 17 corpses to be
transported. There must have been about 100 people in total. They were all
transported on the trucks to the headquarters of the Northwest Regional Army
Command in Monywa, the nearest command of the Burma Army (from the crime
scene). (Monywa is about 2-3 hours’ drive toward the southwest of the
second largest city of
the authorities will want to shut my mouth permanently.
3. From a USDA member who took part in the ambush
collecting recruits openly. The main target population was criminal
elements or shady characters in the residential quarters or local
communities. I myself am a member of the USDA and each recruit was
promised 500 Kyat (local Burmese currency) per day a net pay in addition
to all free meals. We were told that we were paid to participate in the
protests against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD.
We were all gathered on the compounds of the Army’s Northwest Regional
Command headquarters. There must have been about 3,000 of us there, well in
advance of the ambush. I also saw about 50 commercially used trucks parked
at the headquarters (Japanese-made Dynas and the likes). These trucks were
clearly appropriated by the authorities (as is customary in the
Some of the USDA members were hidden behind bushes and little forests by the
road between De-pa-yin and Bu-da-lin in days leading up to the ambush.
I was forced to participate in the ambush. When I witnessed the
slaughterhouse scene and realized the extreme brutality of the (Than Shwe)
regime, I decided to run away. Four of us from our USDA group ran away. I
dare not go home. I am going to go on running or go somewhere where I can
There could be as many as 100 killed in the ambush.
But those who did the beatings and attacks were not members of the USDA. It
was the regular army soldiers and criminal elements who posed as monks who
did the hitting.
Excerpt from the original compiler’s notes:
There were many who were wounded in the ambush. None of the wounded ended
up in any local civilian hospitals
It is believed that the authorities burned the bodies of those died from gun
shots, within the compounds of the Northwest Regional Command. The purpose
was not to leave any bodies lying around as evidence.
4. From credible within-SPDC/army sources or those that are privy to the
inner politics of the SPDC leadership
The order for the ambush came directly from Senior General Than Shwe,
Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Defense Minister, Prime
Minister and Chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Association.
The executioners of this secret order were led by Major General Soe Win,
Secretary 2 of the SPDC and the alleged Than Shwe loyalist and confident.
The plan was to make the ambush appear as though it were carried out by the
public who were angry with the NLD party. The plan was to get Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi killed in the mob-driven slaughter scenario, without the single
assassin or assailant who would be responsible for the anticipated murder.
General Soe Win, the SPDC Secretary 2 and the Than Shwe’s loyalist, traveled
to Pa-koke-ku city without letting even his personal officer who remained in
with Saw Htun, the Director-in-Charge of the USDA; Khin Ye, the Chief
Affairs; and Brigadier General Soe Naing, the commander of the Northwest
Regional Command to discuss the ambush operation.
Soe Win directed the ambush.
On May 31, every one of them returned to
seen boarding a bus at Kyauk Hse, a town outside
Soe Win reported to Than Shwe that the ambush was a failure. Than Shwe put
off the June 1, quarterly meeting of the SPDC and ordered the country’s
regional commands to be on high alert.
Secretary-2 General Soe Win is believed to have grown up in De-pa-yin, a
small town near where the ambush was carried out.
LAND CONFISCATION FOR ARTILLERY REGIMENT
(Based on IMNA:
more land near Morkanin village for deploying a new artillery regiment in
The army is building a military base for Artillery Regiment No. 317 in the
area where they forcibly took over 600 acres of rubber and fruit gardens
owned by Mon farmers between Morkanin and Hnitkayin villages.
“Like all previous confiscations, the Burmese army will not pay any form of
compensation to the farmers. Without any prior notice, they just came along
and took all the land,” said local villagers. “Normally, they only need 300
acres of land, maximum, to deploy a battalion or regiment. They should not
confiscate any more than that”, complained a civil servant close to the
army. “For this project, the authorities took more land than required for a
military base”, he added.
Last year in August, General Maung Bo met with farmers in Mokanin village to
inspect a site to build an artillery regiment. Local villagers are ordered
by the army to attend meetings without hesitation with army officers and are
informed of the proposed sites, the owners of the land are then informed
that their farms will be seized for the building of a heavy artillery
The new Artillery Regiment No. 317 is under the command of Burmese Army,
Artillery Division No. 606. The SPDC military regime has targeted to deploy
10 artillery regiments in
the region according to Independent Mon News Agency’s local reporter.
The Burmese Army confiscated thousand acres of lands belonging to the local
civilians in previous years for military purposes. Mon villagers have used
this land for generations to sustain a livelihood based on farming
vegetables, fruits, rubber and rice. In all confiscation operations,
farmers receive no compensation and do not have recourse to any complaint
mechanism or other means of redress.
Land confiscation has had a severe impact on many families
have been forced from their farms and with no other means of survival decide
to leave to
Displaced families who remain in the villages, face hardship and poverty. A
source from the Mon community says it also creates a negative impact on the
village economy and an increase in crime.
REFUGEE MONKS SEEK PROTECTION
(Reported by Gong Ong,
Following the recent crack down over illegal immigrants by the Thai
government, refugee monks are seeking protection for their safety.
Representative of the UNHCR office in
camp. The letter stated while some refugees are staying at Tham Hin
Temporary Shelter many are remaining in
to the tight illegal alien policy of the Thai government towards refugees
and migrant workers from
According to Rev. Nai Ponnyar, leader of Mon monks, 29 refugees who are
recognized by the UNHCR office were arrested by the Thai police on May 22,
2003 and have been detained at Immigration Detention Centre
with migrant workers. A
source from the Mon community in
UNHCR Bangkok office could not guarantee anything for these arrested
refugees recognized by their office.
As the camp is soon to be closed, refugees at Tham Hin camp including
rejected persons will be resettled to third countries reported the source.
However, those who do not live in the camp are not allowed to resettle in
the third countries or be moved into a secure camp, said a Mon monk who
In December 2001,
officially closed and all refugees were moved to Tham Hin camp, ten
kilometers from the Burmese border. However, many refugees were not allowed
to enter the camp. According
to a refugee worker in
1000 "Border Cases" refugees who were not in Maneeloy at the time of its
closure were not allowed entry to the new camp and face uncertainty due to
security reasons. The limitation of refugees to enter the new camp has
caused difficulty for newly recognized refugees, Buddhist monks and other
"Persons of Concern," "Border Cases" and "Rejectees” being categorized by
the UNHCR office in
In January 2002, about 30 Mon refugees including Buddhist monks have
requested to enter the camp to ensure their security and a chance to
resettle in third countries. The monks and students political refugees are
disturbed over the strained
“We will resettle in any third country but no embassy will take our
application since we are not allowed to enter the safe camp or are
recommended from them (the UNHCR office)” said Krak, a student from Ye, Mon
State. He fled
and lives in
refugee by the UN.
A refugee in
assistance from Bangkok Refugee Centre (BRC). “The money provided is not
enough. I and my brother sometimes work but Thai employer wouldn’t hire us
since we have no legal status, it is very difficult to survive” reported Ms.
Aye Yin who is separated from her elder sister resettled in
In June 2002, the UNHCR office issued protection letters for refugees of
Kingdom, they must comply with Thai laws, rules and regulations. But due to
the uncertain nature of the Thai-Burma relationship and the Thai
government’s policy not to
encourage the refugee flow from
future for resettlement to a third country is uncertain. Refugees are
regarded as mere "illegal aliens" subject to arrest and forced deportation
under Thai policy.
Literature and Culture
MORE YOUTHS IN THE CAPITAL LEARN MON
Despite the banning of Mon literacy ordered by Southeast Military Command,
issued last year in November, the numbers of Mon youth attending summer
literacy class in the capital city
500 students have attended Mon literacy training sponsored
Literature and Culture Committee (MLCC) of
ceremony for students attending the
classes was held on
about 200 intellectual, civil servants, students and special guests joined
the ceremony, reported the source
The students successfully completed their study conducted by the Committee
for one-month training and many were enthusiastic to learn their national
literacy and heritage, said a committee member who organized the training.
The course started on April 25 and the closing ceremony was held at Mon
Community Centre (Dhamma Salar), Daing-Won-Gwin at the
The Chairman of organizing committee, Nai Seik said, “During this year, the
Mon literacy course arranged by our committee offered classes to over 200
a hundred students also showed up
happy to see more students attending in Chaung-zone after 3 years of
training.” Since 1989, Moulmein MLCC has sponsored the literacy training
for those who voluntarily want to learn the Mon language. This year the
Committee provided 5 classes in
Although the Committee asked permission to the Mon State SPDC authorities to
allow the teaching of Mon, the authorities never answered their request for
official permission to do so, reported the source.
The project is self-funded and supported by the Mon community, the committee
continues to provide education to the students but the military intelligence
sometimes comes around and threatens the organizers to close down their
The Burmese authorities have enforced the ban on the teaching of Mon
language in schools. An order was issued by Mawlamyine based Southeast
Military Command in November 2002 to stop the teaching of the Mon language
at government schools, several schools in Mawlamyine and Kyaik Ma-Yaw
townships have stopped teaching Mon following the order.
However, the Mon educational system is well established under the New Mon
State Party’s control area, three High Schools were established in the
strong hold areas with over 900 teachers.
INTERVIEW: AN EVENING WITH DR. KANBAWZA WIN
A specialist on the political situation in
journalist, civil servant, activist, scholar and author of several books on
Burmese and Asian affairs, including Constructive Engagement in the Burmese
Context, published by CPDSK,
Affairs Secretary to the Prime Minister of the then Socialist Republic of
pursued with zeal for the restoration of democracy, human rights and
nationalities autonomy in
professor, researcher and
His reputation for giving a balanced view and for being an outspoken critic
was well established even during his career as Foreign Affairs Secretary.
Dr. Win has worked hard at trying to expose the reality of the political
Policy experts to take a much tougher stand against the Burmese regime. At
the same time he has appealed to all Burmese democratic advocates, and
ethnic nationalities including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to work together in a
co-ordinated effort to make changes. It hasn’t been a smooth ride for Dr
Win, in the face of academicians, politicians, and others who have
criticized his viewpoints; he has the intellectual grit and moral integrity
to stick by his guns on restoring
peace and democracy for
KW: Your experience under BSPP government in
Dr. Win: I was a 7th July student residing at Taungoo Hall in 1962. But
with the Lord’s help I escaped the massacre. Since then I have seen the true
nature of the military dictatorship. I graduated with Political Science
honours in 1966 and work as a hall tutor (Pegu Hall where Kyaw Win was the S
& R secretary). After completing my Master’s degree I was called by Public
Works Corporation as a Staff Officer. (Not so much because of my literacy
but because of my athletic prowess
as I represented
bilateral meets and SEAP games) I was (still is) a technical academic and
would not join any political party including the BSPP. But the authorities
respected my insightful approach and forth righteousness and so when the
Minister of Construction Brigadier Sein Win became the Prime Minister of the
Foreign Affairs Secretary in 1974 (At that time Khin Nyunt was just a
captain and personal assistant to Colonel Tint Swe who was a deputy minister
for the Prime Minister Office, I remember how this little captain Khin Nyunt
come and stand at my table). From the beginning I was not happy of how
things are running in the country but since they are in power, I have no
option but to work through them and try to salvage what little things I can
KW: Can you tell us how and why you left
Dr. Win: By late 1979 I had already lost my job and was back from Insein
detention centre when I founded a small Burmese NGO under the religious
umbrella in 1985 and hoped to spend the rest of my life doing social work,
when suddenly in 1987 the demonetization of the big bank notes made me and
my association penniless. The funds, which we got from foreign donors, were
all swept away at one stroke. I decided to go on a lecture tour to the 12
under the aegis of CCFD. (Committee Catholique Contre la faim et pour le
Developpement). From there I toured
rushed back home from
side of pro democracy and autonomy forces. I was then working for the relief
of students in an ad hoc committee under the umbrella of CCT (Christ church
then I have never seen my native land.
KW: In observing
international community? Can you tell us the difference between the ICG’s
(International Crisis Group) approach and others?
Dr. Win: The Western world led by the
of democracy and human rights. They believe in the universality and
indivisibility of the Human Rights aspects. The Asian countries spearheaded
by the ASEAN, followed by
Constructive Engagement approach and interpreted the Western
as the most sinister plot of imperialism to interfere in an Asian country
under the façade of human rights violations.
As far as the ICG papers on
argument with them in terms of research authenticity. But what I disagree is
their attitude towards the struggling lot of Burmese people. They stay
neutral in the struggle between democracy and human rights on one side and
tyranny and dictatorship on the other side. They construe it as the struggle
between the two protagonists. The
reality of the situation in
awful that to pretend otherwise and to maintain that the truth must
automatically lie equidistant between two poles in the name of objectivity
is to do violence to the truth. They simply could not comprehend the true
Burmese situation. The ICG tends to write a blank check for oppression.
Moreover it reduces complex issues to simple relativist absurdities that
hold all antagonists in a conflict to be morally equivalent between the pro
democracy groups and the tyrants. Thus in a way is tantamount to lending
credibility to the Burmese military dictatorship.
This is not surprising as Gerard Evans (the former
Minister whose government is supporting the Burmese Junta) is their
chairperson and its director Robert Templar (in his letter to the Secretary
of EIAS) have openly declared that they will not hire any Burmese academic
as they are unable to think clearly. This is tantamount to racial
superiority and I recollect Ruyard Kipling works “The White Man’s Burden”
that label the Asian and the African as half man and half beast. It also
paints the picture that they alone know the Burmese crisis in depth even
though not one of them could ever read or write Burmese. Not that I abhor
their attitude of “I am the monarch of all I survey” but mainly because of
their moral bankruptcy.
KW: What role should the international community play in pressuring the
Dr. Win: The international community should take a leading
the restoration of democracy and human rights. I believe in the Tripartite
talk, not the one usually interpreted by the Burmese as the Junta, NLD and
the ethnic groups but rather (1) the Junta, (2) the ethnic and the pro
democracy groups under the umbrella of NLD and (3) the international
community led by the
more countries are changing from dictatorship to democracy and the market
forces are making their presence felt, the international community has
became more important than ever to install a check and balance system.
I also strongly think that US should use force to put an end to half a
century of Burmese dictatorship which is the source of trouble in the region
and the world at large e.g. narcotics exports. This will also put an end to
the wild accusation that US fought
two wars in
saving the 50 million plus Burmese people from the long clutches of the
hated Tatamadaw it will earn more kudos.
KW: How do you see the conflict in
Dr. Win: Personally, I think real genuine democracy and the ethnic problem
are just two sides of a coin. If there is genuine democracy, the ethnic
problem can be solved on the table rather than shooting at each other. In
this aspect we must be very careful not to practice the tyranny of the
majority. To be very frank I think Myanmar Chauvinism must be buried once
and for all.
Looking back at the modern history of
Conference convened in 1947, when our beloved leader Bogyoke Aung San signed
the Aung San-Attlee Agreement, one of the clauses is to get the consensus of
the ethnic nationalities and this
was vehemently opposed by the pro
chauvinist groups like Galon U Saw of the Myochit Party, Thakin Ba Sein of
Dohama Asiayone, Dr.Ba Maw of Maharbamar, Thakin Tun Oke groups etc. Bogyoke
Aung San’s early death ushered the triumph of the
torch was later carried by Thankin Nu (authentic proof can be seen in making
Buddhism the state religion) and of course by Ne Win, Sein Lwin and their
cohorts up to the present day
Burmese Generals. These
to treat the nationalities somewhat like Pyu, Kanyan and Thet whom they had
obliterated even before the first Burmese kingdom of 1044 A.D. They are the
ones that practice the policy of “a great nation.”
But not every
who would like to see the Union of Burma as Bogyoke Aung San had visualized
i.e. unity in diversity under the federal constitution. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
is one of them. Like father like daughter she really believes in democracy
and the rights of the nationalities and the genuine Panglong spirit is
already prevalent. Of course there will be some even among the NLD who opted
for Burmese chauvinism but since they belong to the democratic group at
least one can talk with them. Hence for the time being, the Non Myanmar i.e.
the nationalities should work with these groups and test it of whether the
NLD is serious in solving the nationalities question. Care must also be
taken among the Non Myanmar not to be racist.
(I was rather perplexed when you used the word ethnic crisis). There is no
such word as ethnic when Pyidaungsu was formed, rather we were referred as
Nationalities (Taing Yin Thar in Burmese) Do we become ethnic because we do
not belong to the
dirty? Another factor, which I would humbly like to point out to you, is
there is no such thing as ethnic
crisis like in Kosovo or
ethnic group fights the other. All
the nationalities in
common enemy i.e.
Even then please note that we are not fighting against the
itself, we are just fighting the
were given autonomy under the federal constitution there would be no civil
war as the Burma Communist Party (the only party that fought under the
banner of ideology) is six feet
under the ground. There are many
see eye to eye with us and even the
DPNS etc and fighting shoulder to shoulder with us.
KW: What forces are important for peace and reconciliation
Dr. Win: The moderate and liberal forces from all sides of the conflicts
reconciliation. They must be able to override the extremist and the ultra
nationalist among their colleagues and must be rational enough to find the
solution. Democracy and federalism that will fit the need of the people of
respect of each other will finally bring peace and reconciliation
KW: Which constitution is needed to solve the political and economic turmoil
Dr. Win: A federal constitution that respects the nationalities, drawn up
not only by the consensus of the entire people but also of the
intelligentsia who can foresee the future especially in this age of
globalization must be drawn up with a check and balance system in political,
social, economics and cultural fields.
KW: How can the Burmese community in exile help to bring
Dr. Win: The Burmese in Diaspora have already highlighted their struggle to
the international community and what they need is more cohesiveness and
corporation among themselves. But the trouble with the Burmese people in
Diaspora including the nationalities is “Jealousy”. Everybody aspired to be
liked Bogyoke Aung San but ended up acting like Shu Maung. The international
community is now looking at the Burmese in exile and was wondering what sort
will be judged by their actions now. Efficient leaders should be sorted out
to lead the exiles and not only work between their own clan and groups. The
joke that “if we put two Burmese in a cell they will form three political
parties” should be proven otherwise by our actions.
KW: Is there any chance that Daw Su Kyi, the military regime and ethnic
groups can work together?
Dr. Win: As I have said earlier that Daw Suu and the ethnic groups could
work together but not the “Mudane Tatmadaw” as they are evil by nature.
Their philosophy that “they alone are patriotic while the others did not
have a pale of patriotism and are parasites” is imbued in them and there is
no room for compromise. This mammoth army must be disbanded and replaced
with Pyidaungsu Army who will really serve the country and people.
KW: What do you expect following the release of AS Suu Kyi? (Editor’s Notes:
the interview was taken before she suffered head injury and was re-arrested
by the regime.)
Dr. Win: I really expect that the release of Daw Suu to usher a new period
of negotiation instead of an end in itself. Daw Suu must be able to close
the aging intellectuals and the young hot heads. She must be more forceful
in dealing with the Junta.
KW: What problems will
Dr. Win: There will be several problems besides reconstruction,
rehabilitation. There will be problems in education and health as most of
the educated are out of the country. Problems will be faced in politics,
social and economic fields. Complete trust among the protagonists must be
restored. The hardest part will be the moral and intellectual reconstruction
of a nation that was systematically destroyed by these generals. Extremes
will be committed from all sides and conflict resolution will have to play a
KW: What kind of
Dr. Win: I want to see a free and united
the community of civilized nations and not a pariah state like now.
I want my beloved readers to think globally but to act locally.
Tension after arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi
STUDENTS FORM MASS MOVEMENT OPERATION COMMITTEE
(Network Media Group:
Exiled student leaders including those who actively led 8888 uprising in
compelling situation between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the
military regime, said Moe Hein, a former secretary of Democratic Party for
New Society (DPNS) while staging a demonstration in front of Burmese Embassy
Moe Hein revealed that Burmese student leaders around the
committees, namely the Democratic Federation of Burma comprised of several
He also said that they got a telephone message from
formation of a similar committee
Though he did not reveal the names of the committee members
Moe Thee Zon in
and Ko Zayar Win in
“The military government has used a do-or-die tactic on the democratic
opposition and, till now, no body knows whether Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U
Tin Oo are still alive or not. The regime manipulated a coward act of
beating in the darkness on these world-respected leaders. As they used such
inhuman behavior on our democratic opposition, we shall no longer confront
them politically but to use revolutionary ways as the ultimate annihilation.
We, the Democratic Federation of Burma, welcome and invite all to join our
alliance, we will not exploit them for our personal or political benefit,”
said Moe Hein. Zayar Win, a leader of Basic Education Students Union, also
supported the newly formed committee, "Democratic Federation of Burma", and
who organized yesterday's demonstration in front of Burmese Embassy in
(Independent Mon News Agency,
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, a pro-Rangoon outfit, is involved in
illegal logging along the Burma Thailand border area, reported a resident
According to local source, a Buddhist religious leader San Pyu Ya Thae and
Lt. Col. Lay Win from the DKBA Battalion No. 906 are involved in cutting
teak in the area near the border town and selling it to traders. All teak,
from 2 feet in circumference to 7 feet in height is sold for 18,000 Thai
Baht per ton.
A trader said the pro-Rangoon armed group sold 17 tons of teak wood in
April. He added if the local traders would like to sell
they first make the wood into furniture and the sell it in the Thai market.
Local resident complained of the local junta’s forestry authorities for
keeping silence. “Even though the religious leader San Pyu Ya Thae shows a
reason to disseminate Buddhist belief in the area and build the pagodas, he
has been dreadfully involved in illegal logging. DKBA soldiers are not
afraid of anyone in
independently and freely”, said a town resident.
The DKBA does not ask permission from the military government and township
forestry department to cut teak. Teak is a restricted type of tree in the
forestry department’s regulation, anyone who harvests teak is committing an
THE FIRST PRINTING PRESS IN MONLAND
(By Sunthorn Sripanngern,
While I was doing research for old Mon palm leaf scriptures and old printed
Mon books at Wat Salardaeng, Pathumthani, 45 km. north
some evidence of correspondence
between Mon monks in Monland and
including a personal letter from Ajatala Maha Yin, the founder of Maha Yin
Nikaya (a Buddhist sect in Monland) to the abbot of Wat Salardaeng Phra
Ajarn Boonnaak, dated November 1900, which described the founding of the
first Mon printing press in Monland.
I was very impressed and excited to learn of Ajatala Maha Yin's meaningful
and beautiful handwritten accounts, both in Mon and in Thai, reporting about
Mon monks studying Pariyatti (Buddhism study) and the examination.
In regard to the newly established Mon printing press (AD 1900), he
narrated, "Each nationality has their own printing press for the honor of
their nation. Since there is no Mon press in Monland we will do our best to
establish it in order to preserve and promote our language and religion for
the future generation of the Mon. The British, though they are foreigners,
sent letters (in English) praising our work as a good one for our community.
But among our Mon people, many say, "No hand rows the boat, but keeps leg in
the water". (Please see his original letter). He asked opinions from his
close friends in
Buddhist religion practically both in
Who is Ven. Maha Yin?
The Venerable Buddhavamso or Maha Yin, the founder of the Mahayin Nikaya in
Monland was born at
in AD 1840, (BE 2383). As a young boy he studied the basic monastic
education in his home village and memorized in a short time all the basic
Pali grammar, Suttadhippaya and Abhidhammasangaha, an outline of Buddhist
At the age of 20, he was ordained at Wat Bovornnives Vihara, Banglamphu,
Pawarisvariyalongkorn, grandson of King Rama II. There he graduated as Maha
Prayoga 5 and was responsible for teaching Pariyatti to the monks of the
monastery from 1871 to 1873. Since that time he was known as Maha Yin.
When the Prince Krom Phra Nared Worarid, younger brother of King Rama V the
Great, became a novice, Maha Yin was responsible to take care of the Prince.
In 1873 Maha Yin left monastic life and served as a royal page for a year.
Soon after that he began a journey to Monland.
He headed for Sangapoun Monastery,
Sangapoun was also from the Thai-Mon community. Since the abbot knew that
Maha Yin was a
scholar in Buddhism, he encouraged Maha Yin to become monk again and to help
educate the Mon people. Finally his encouragement was successful, the abbot
presided over the ordination
ceremony at Nadi-simar on the
1874. After that Ven. Maha Yin returned to
parents and friends. When he came
monasteries of Dhammayutt he had to accept Yatti or be re-ordained in
accordance with the rule of Dhammayutt Nikaya in
In 1875, Ven. Maha Yin left for Monland again. This time he stayed and
practiced meditation at the
Dhamma greatly impressed the lay people in that area. Later on a small a hut
(Phae Dut) was built for him. The following are the names of those lay
people who supported Ven. Maha Yin.
Nai Sue, Mi Hmyin
Nai Shew Kyi, Mi Gun
Nai Ru, Mi Bwe
Nai Dun, Mi Soi
Nai Shwe Hlay, Mi Kyin Uh
Nai Maung Khin, Mi May
These devotees were very impressed with Ven. Mahayin's wisdom and deep
understanding of the Dhamma. They quickly had a small building erected on a
plot of land near the graveyard.
The supporters were very eager to extend the monastery in order to receive
more monks who were interested in studying the Dhamma. By this time Ven.
Mahayin's scholastic reputation had spread far and wide to many towns and
villages such as Thaton, Kyaikkhami. Bilukyun, Kyaikmaraw, Mudon and parts
of Karen state. Many monks arrived in the monastery to study with Ven. Maha
Yin. On the full moon day of month Paseik (May) 1875, the Pali-institute of
Maha Yin was formally established.
Later on his senior disciple monks held a meeting about setting up of a
Nikaya or sect. The following are those who participated in the meeting.
1. Ven. Mogaliputta,
2. Ven Agghdipa,
3. Ven Nalagiri,
,Chaung Son (
4. Ven. Nadalankara, Zartapyin village , Pha-An Township.
5. Ven Hkemakaw,
6. Ven. Kusala,
All the above senior monks agreed that it would be of great benefit to the
Mon to have their own Nikaya (Buddhist Fraternity) established legally.
They decided to name the group Dhammayutt because Ven. Buddhavamsa was
ordained within this Nikaya in
Maha Yin Nikaya.
Ven. Maha Yin was concerned with the development of the Sangha. He
encouraged his students to achieve the highest possible academic standards,
for 8 years he held a Dhamma Vinaya examination both written and oral.
In 1898, representatives from all Maha Yin monasteries assembled at
Island where the first "Question and Answers on Dhamma Vinaya" was held.
This assembly gave the monks an opportunity to recite sections of the
Vinaya, Abhidhamma and Sutta Pittaka in public and under the scrutiny of
Questions and Answers were held on
years from 1898 until 1975. Now it alternates to various Maha Yin
monasteries each year. Ven. Maha Yin was reasonable for the introduction of
the first printing press in Mon state. It was called "Buddhavamsa Press" He
translated the texts from Pali-Thai characters into Mon. The first translation was
Dhammapada. The following are some of his books:
Attributes of the Buddha
Training of lay Devotees
Means by which we can develop Satipatthana
Means to a good life
Training of the monastery schoolboy
At one time Ledi Sayadaw, Burmese Sangha Raja,
he was invited to Kado MahaYin Monastery. On entering the monastery he heard
the lay devotees chanting Dhamma Qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha,
the 10 Parami, 5 Khandha, Ayatana, Dhatu, Four Noble Truths, 37
Bodhipakkhiya Dhamma. Ledi Sayadaw was amazed at these lay people and asked
who had taught them. They replied that Ven. Buddhavamsa was their teacher;
at that time Ven.
Mahayin was in
is a highly evolved being".
In 1905 Ven. Maha Yin was required to handover all responsibilities toward
his senior disciples and return to
monasteries including Wat Banglamut for 2 years.
King Rama V the Great heard news about Maha Yin and invited an offering of
the title of Raja Kuru. Sangha Raja Somded Phra Maha Samana Chao Krom Phraya
Vachirayanvaroros was also offered the title of Phra Traisaranadhaja in 1907
and was appointed the abbot of Wat Bavorn Monkhon,
until 1916 when he passed away. Since then there were no Mon abbots living
in the monastery.
Note: In his personal letter to Phra Boonnak in November 1900, he was
already titled as "Tisaranadhaja".
A special thanks to Khun Manop Kaewyok of Baan Salardaeng for providing the
letter, books and other information on this important time in Mon history.
FOUNDATION OF NATIONAL UNITY
(By Banya Hongsar, Monland: June 2003)
This is a critical period in Burmese history, especially for the non-Burman
people who need both domestic and international support in their demand for
unity of all nationalities. This is vital if ever there is to be peace in
the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) was established in December 2002 who
strived for “national reconciliation” after engaging in a half century of
The organization is oriented more toward an agenda of national interest
rather than any group’s political motivation in the country. After the
Burmese military authority abolished its former alliance, United
Nationalities League for Democracy following the 1990 general election,
leaders of non-Burman
national political level for the sole purpose of abolishing military rule in
the country. The new alliance has worked hard to achieve majority support
on a nation-wide basis, the leaders of the organization sit in on weekly
promote democracy and federalism in
According to the organization’s official statement on
unity will be gained through a constructive implementation of all non-Burman
leaders and their organizations both home and abroad as well as cease-fire
and non-cease-fire organizations to a Federal Union of Burma, an objective
since 1947, but the Burmese military failed to honour the rights of
non-Burman in their motherlands according to this principle.
These urban based nationalist leaders both fought for independence and
democracy for over five decades as a political elite since the 1950-60s, and
remain firmly attached to their political beliefs for national
reconciliation between the military authority and the democratic forces
including non-Burman people in the country.
The UNA has called to convene a National Convention with full members of
both Burman and non-Burman representatives in the country towards national
reconciliation whose aim is to establish a genuine Federal Union of Burma.
Leaders of the organizations have bitter experiences under the thumb of
Burmese military rule; almost all of them have been jailed and are banned to
hold public meetings in their own home State. After reaching measurable
success in the cease-fire process between the current State Peace and
Development Council and a few major non-Burma resistance armed organizations
in the country, many of the non-Burman leaders both from the jungle and from
the urban community have met informally to talk about political development
in the country.
Non-Burman leaders have sincerely called upon the current military authority
to begin momentum to building unity of the nationalities at every
opportunity. On the 54th Union Day, Shan, Arakan, Zome and Mon urban-based
political parties issued an official statement for national reconciliation
along with four other individual non-Burman leaders. They signed the
document and forwarded it to the ruling junta, the State Peace and
According to the statement written in Burmese, the crisis of the country
today proves that there is only one way to build national unity; there are
no doubts among us. The state power holder, State Peace and Development
Council and the winner of the general election National League for Democracy
must meet for a dialogue that will enable all to work for the benefit of the
country. We are committed to be part of the nation building and national
unity (solidarity) process.
The same effort was made again on the 55th Union Day anniversary of the
first gathering in
held in 1947 and before
Karenni, Shan (SSPLO), Kayan and Palaung cease-fire organizations conveyed a
message to the State Peace and Development Council. The message stated first
and foremost that, “we, non-Burman nationalities who belong to the armed
resistance organizations have engaged in the national interests of our
country regarding sovereignty, a cause that calls on the military government
for unity of all nationalities, to exchange civil war for peace, establish
the rights of nationalities and national development and promote the
foundation of a modern nation upheld by democratic institutions.
We have put forward an enormous effort and sincerity in trying to achieve
all organizations both home and abroad. It is a concrete approval of the
unity of all non-Burman resistance organizations after the cease-fire
process began in the country. However, top leaders of the Burmese military
authority do not give it a chance. As currently being demonstrated through
the ongoing systematic oppression against the democratic leader Aung San Suu
Kyi on her nationwide tour and the closure of pro-democracy offices
throughout the country.
We must indeed hold a “tripartite dialogue” according a resolution passed by
the United Nation General Assembly and the international community’s
goodwill. Soon after the tripartite dialogue is achieved, national unity
will be achieved, the statement said.
Further on it stated, we sincerely believe controlling the union (country)
with a massive armed force is not a solution to maintaining peace, but
building a country through a principle of genuine federalism, which will
maintain long and lasting peace in the country. This is the most important
concept: the foundation of national unity must first be in place before we
embark on building a strong and prosperous country. Non-Burman leaders from
twenty-five political parties established United Nationalities League for
Democracy (UNLD) before the General Election 1990 with this in mind. But
instead the military authority abolished the multi-force political mandate
after the election. The nationalist leaders did not surrender their
political mandate and regrouped to re-establish the United Nationalities
As Nai Tun Thein, leader of Mon National democratic Front, a key player of
UNA and also a member of Committee Representative for People’s Parliament
said to Independent Mon News Agency recently said in May, “the leaders of
UNA from almost all of non-Burman nationalities are prepared to talk to the
ruling Burmese military authority. They have urged bi-lateral talks between
NLD and SPDC.” Followed by a tripartite dialogue between the NLD, the
military, and the nationalities. We hope the military will finally look at
what can be done to change the situation and begin the actual process of
national reconciliation that so many of us have been struggling for.
ILO AND FORCED LABOUR
The International Labour Organization has released its report on
developments of forced labour
Action Plan was drawn up by the ILO for the Burmese government to implement.
The ILO session was a follow up to developments from July 2002 to March 2003
during which time a new Liaison Officer was appointed, Ms. Hông-Trang
Perret-Nguyen to work with the Director General and Minister of Labour, Mr.
U Soe Nyunt, the Liaison Officer
took up her post in October 2002 in
Ms. Hông-Trang Perret-Nguyen was unable to endorse an Action Plan put forth
requirements to be meaningful and credible in eradicating forced labour in
any realistic way.
Background history. The ILO appealed to the Burmese junta to take action to
end force labour, especially portering in August 1998. In 1998, the ILO
found that forced labour was "generalised and systematic" in
ILO constitution. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
immediately called for tour
operators to cancel trips to
grounds that forced labour is used to develop the tourist infrastructure.
Sanctions may be working; EU exports in 2000 to
(down almost 90 % to US 1,105
million in 1999); imports from
€404 million (down from US2, 260 million in 1999).
Initially an ILO High-Level Team left the country in October 2001, however,
forced labour continued and even was reported to have intensified. The ILO
Commission of Inquiry following a conference in June 2002 after making
initial contacts with government personnel in May 2002 released a report on
its observations in
stating that forced labour continues despite the sanctions imposed. Several
groups reported cases of forced
labour and human rights violations in
including the All Burma’s Students Democratic Front, Narinjara News, ICFTU,
Earth Rights International, Human Rights Foundation of Monland and Amnesty
The ILO noted that eradicating forced labour involves several barriers in
which the government must confront, including the fact that very few
villagers were unaware of Order No. 1/99 that forbids compulsory labour;
military personnel forcing villagers to give false testimony; villagers
being made to pay for information meetings and for the Green Book,
information on the law; the self reliant attitude of the military; contempt
for villagers by the military; and institutional and financial obstacles.
The ILO stressed the need to have Order No. 1/99 made a public act to
educate all levels of the military personnel, government ministries and the
population. The ILO also stressed the need to have written reports and
investigations regarding allegations of forced labour.
Given the lack of success in eradicating forced labour, the ILO has
introduced a new Action Plan that involves the dissemination of information;
awareness-raising programmes; pilot project for local road construction;
expansion of animal transportation; enhancing public awareness of the
mechanism to make complaints; specific functions of Field Observation Teams;
and the role of the facilitator to deal with allegations of forced labour.
The Action Plan is to be implemented over an 18-month period beginning 2003
July 1, the pilot project will take place in the Myeik region, southern
forced labour in that region. The military had introduced the beast of
burden, mules and asses to take the place of human labour, but more animals
are needed to ensure a steady supply. The mediator/Facilitator mechanism is
to help victims of forced labour to seek redress. Part of the public
relations campaign is to reach out to the ethnic communities to distribute
Orders of the law prohibiting the use of forced labour, written up in
pamphlets translated into Mon, Kayin, Chin, Kayah, Kachin and Shan
News bulletins will be distributed once a month to local libraries,
government and NGOs. Another part of the Action Plan is to educate military
officials and personnel in monthly workshops. The Ministry of Labour will be
in charge of seven Field Observation Teams in areas where forced labour is
practiced headed by the Field Observation leader, including in Rakhine
State, Chairman, Social Security Board; Mon and
Director-General, Office of the Central Inland Freight
General Labour Laws Inspection Department; Tanintharyi Division,
Director-General, Office of the Central Trade Disputes
(North), Deputy Director-General, Department of Labour; and
General Manager, Social Security Board. The role of the FOT is to identify
instances of forced labour and prosecute those responsible.
The Liaison Officer is responsible for working at implementing the Action
Plan in the eradication of forced labour and in dealing with forced labour
allegations. General Khin Nyunt expressed his government’s support stating
cooperation with the ILO, and we are carefully considering the ILO’s advice
on how to change our practices”.
To date the Burmese military is committed politically to eliminating forced
labour as stated in its constitution according to ILO convention No. 29 in
its legislation, executive and
Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), which it ratified in 1955.
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