* To monitor human rights situations in Mon territory and other areas southern part of Burma
* To protect and promote internationally recognized human rights in Burma
human rights foundation of monland
NMSP- New Mon State Party;
SLORC- State Law and Order Restoration Council;
MNEC- Mon National Education Committee;
MNLA- Mon National Liberation Army;
MPF- Mon People Front;
BSPP- Burmese Socialist Programme Party;
IB- Infantry Battalion of SLORC;
LIB- Light Infantry Battalion of SLORC:
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and
shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
Article 26 (2), Universal Declaration of Human Rights
SLORC's Systematic Suppression of the Mon Education System
Focus of This Report
This report focuses on the recent and current situation of education system of Mon community which is always under the repressive measures of the successive Rangoon governments. Over twenty years ago, the Mon community have established and maintain its own education system in its own rural area with aims to preserve its literature role that was well known in the past world history.
Under the ethnic assimilation policy of Burman dominated Rangoon governments or military regime, all ethnic nationalities of Burma have to struggle hardly to maintain and preserve their national identity. In preserving its literature and identity, the ethnic nationalities of Burma have tried to create their own education system. However, the ruthless suppression to education system and its supporters have been intensified systematically by successive Rangoon governments.
The ceasefire between the NMSP and SLORC has no result to improve the Mon education system and the repression have been more terrible than before. Here, in this report we mentioned the facts that have been violated by SLORC authorities to the concerned local teachers and educational supporters. Regarding to Mon education system, the local ethnic villagers were also ill-treated by Burmese military.
To ensure the whole situation that happened to Mon Education System, the HURFOM human rights workers conducted interviews with concerned persons from NMSP and Mon National Education Committee (MNEC), local Mon teachers and civilians. After we gathered information, we made this report that came from their explanation and also mentioned the recent historical situation that related to Mon education system. This report will provide an example that how the Rangoon ruling governments have adopted the assimilation policy over all ethnic nationalities of Burma and implemented systematically. Actually, this policy has been remained as a root problem of civil war in Burma, which has been protracted about five decades.
Background of Mon Education System
The Mon literature was established and preserved in Buddhist monasteries since the ruling era of Mon kings. When the sovereign power and independence of the Mon was lost after the annexation of the Burmese King U Aung Zeya in 1757, many Mon scriptures written in the palm leaves were destroyed and about 3, 000 Mon monks, who mainly preserved and promoted literature, were also killed. He led in the genocide of the Mon population and as a result several thousand Mons fled into Thailand and took refuge. Since then, the systematic suppression to the Mon literature had been protracted. But the Mon has strong desire to preserve their literature. The Mon monasteries have been served as the only center keeping the remaining Mon archives and as the only schools teaching the Mon language and literature.
In 1885, the British imperialist occupied the whole Burma with three serial Anglo-Burmese wars. In British era, the Mon people attained more chance to preserve its literature because the British ruled Burma by guaranteeing fundamental democratic rights. The education system had been transferred from monasteries to various vernacular schools and the British government officially recognized the teaching of Mon literature in schools which situated in Mon area. When the time the most Burmans tried to liberate from the colony of British, the Mons were creating students' text books and adopted their own education system and took chance to preserve its literature.
Burma retained independence from British in 1948. The Mons asked the Burman dominated Rangoon government to allow for the preservation of Mon language and literature in both government schools and monasteries. The Mon leaders proposed seven points to U Nu government concerning literature and political rights, and but Premier U Nu rejected the proposed political racial rights of the Mon, but allowed some literature rights. Without political rights or greater autonomy, when the Mon tried to preserve literature to teach it in government schools, only some schools allowed for the teaching of Mon language. In 1948, the Mon took up arm and struggled for equal racial rights along together with Karen in southern part of Burma. The civil war broke out on the wake of independence.
However, in the parliamentary ruling era, the Mon community inside continued the struggle with non-violence means and Mon literature was allowed to teach as a main subject in government primary schools (up to four grade) of Mon area. The Mon monks also have to arrange their own Mon teachings of Buddhist scripture and final examinations in Mon. The preservation of the Mon literature was in process and the Mon literature committees also printed several Mon text books.
In 1958, the Mon armed struggle organization, Mon People Front (MPF), agreed with U Nu government to participate in election and demand racial equal rights in parliamentary democratic system. Then, they abandoned armed struggle. Soon after surrendering of MPF, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) was formed. At the beginning of formation of NMSP, it had a little number of force and did not have much control area. But the number of its members had been grown gradually with new comers who escaped from the oppression of the military regime led ,Gen. Ne Win. He seized power in 1962 and ruled the whole country with single party dictatorship system Even university students also joined into armed struggle and the civil war inside Burma has been constantly grown.
In 1970s, the NMSP control area became more larger and larger. The NMSP officials also encouraged the local Mon villagers and Buddhist monks to create community based national education system. Under the management of NMSP Education Department, several Mon national schools were established in rural area and it protected those schools and teachers. The Mon educated persons came into librated area and served as teachers in the Mon national schools. But in Mon State where the government had firm control, the establishment of Mon national schools was totally prohibited and it was against the existing law.
At the same time, the Mon Education System has been come into a certain extent by rural Mon community and it took more space in Mon areas. At the time while the Rangoon government could not provide more forces to control the whole rural area, the NMSP had chance to establish and preserve its education system. The people also earnestly participate in running villages' schools. Since 1970s, the numbers of Mon schools were gradually increased in the Mon control area and the running and maintenance expenses were provided by the villagers. Defined rice was collected from the farmers every year to run schools and the head of the village and senior monks have to take responsibility to collect, maintain and manage funds.
About 250 Mon national schools have been run by Mon village community up to present. The types of Mon national schools are categorised as below:
(1) Mon vernacular schools
(2) Joint Mon and Burmese teaching schools
(3) Mixed schools teaching foreign languages as well as Mon and Burmese
In Mon vernacular schools, the Education Department of NMSP adopted its curriculum and text books. The teachers teach students especially with Mon language in all subject except Burmese. Mon literature is the main subject of the schools and other subjects such as basic mathematics, geography, history, science and etc., are taught by Mons. Under the management of NMSP, the teachers were hired from deeper Mon State and the salary is normally as same as teachers who work in government schools.
In the joint Mon and Burmese teaching schools, the students are taught with two kinds of languages and the schooling times are also divided into two, morning and afternoon. The most those mixed schools were established by the Mon community and initially it were run with Mon education system for several years. Later, the Burmese Army has been getting stronger and has launched serial offensives to ethnic armed oppositions to control more larger area and occupy rebel bases. NMSP had to abandon some area and the schools and its community were forced to teach Burmese and to share teaching time to government teachers to teach government's curriculum. But the government authorities or army could not drive out the Mon teachers from the schools as they worry revenge of Mon troops. Many schools became joint Mon and Burmese teaching schools.
When the government authorities tried to adopt government education system, they have used a very clever way. Townships or State authorities appointed Mon ethnic educated persons as government servants and sent them to joint Mon and Burmese teaching schools. By using this way, they sent one or two of their teachers to teach Burmese as foreign language in Mon vernacular schools while other subjects are still taught in Mon. Similarly, in some government schools, the Mon local villagers approached and put their Mon teachers to teach Mon language as foreign language. Such types of school are defined as mixed schools teaching foreign language as well as Mon and Burmese.
In curriculum of subjects, the Mon Education System has different courses especially history. In government curriculum's history subject, it does not publicize about the peace and prosperous Mon kingdoms that lasted for several hundred years. When the Burmese kings defeated Mon kingdoms by forces, it mentioned likely the kings organized the ethnic nationalities to be united and created union. The Mon people disagree on it. In Mon history, Burmese kings annexed the Mon kingdoms and occupied by forces and ruled with Burmanization policy. The Burmese kings had tried to assimilate all Mons to be Burmese.
To against that adopted assimilation policy, the Mon community itself encourages the Mon education system and it has been remained only one choice for the survival of Mon literature and language. When the time NMSP took more control in the rural area, the education system has been supported by community with morally and financially. Then when the Burmese Army created and took more control to the area while the Mon forces were weak, they have suppressed the local villagers who support the education system to abolish all processes.
Even in ceasefire duration, the situation have not changed.
Ceasefire Agreement and the Existed Problems
In ceasefire agreement negotiated between NMSP and SLORC, the Mon leaders also discussed several points regarding to Mon education system. The NMSP proposed to SLORC about its desire to maintain and preserve its education system and additionally to allow the teaching of Mon language in the government schools. But after over one and half year period of ceasefire agreement, no improvement for education system and education workers in Mon area. The SLORC did not provide any assistance for system and only the suppression has been instructed by its local authorities.
To ensure on the situation, we mention all discussion points that came out from several rounds of NMSP-SLORC meeting. In ceasefire agreement, the both sides agreed to implement border area development program and concerning this program the Mon leaders also put many requests to SLORC authorities. The first meeting was held on same day celebrating NMSP-SLORC ceasefire agreement. The Mon leaders also briefed the situation of the whole Mon area to SLORC delegation who came from Rangoon, led by SLORC's Secretary No. 1 Gen. Kyin Nyunt.
In August, the NMSP and SLORC's South East Military Command had another official meeting to follow up the first meeting to discuss about all detail development program. The Vice President Nai Htin led NMSP delegation in the meeting. The NMSP asked permission for the teaching of Mon language in all schools in Mon area including government schools. The SLORC disagreed and replied that it will not allow the teaching of Mon language in government schools, but they will be allowed outside of schooling time. According to existing law, they said that only the texts and curriculum published by the government must be officially allowed. The Mon language is not included in government's curriculum and it would not be allowed.
Even in the mixed schools, where the Mon language was taught as a foreign language, the teaching of Mon language was prohibited and the SLORC local authorities also forced Mon teachers to leave from schools. But in the mixed schools, where the Burmese language was taught as a foreign language, the NMSP still allows the teaching of government's text.
Regarding to the teaching of Buddhist scripture in Mon in several monasteries, it has been prohibited over 15 years since the BSPP government ruled the country. The teaching of Buddhist scripture in Mon was allowed in Premier U Nu parliamentary government era. But in 1980s, Gen. Ne Win led BSPP government did not recognize it and forced the Mon monks to learn the teaching of Buddhist scripture in Burmese and enter the government sponsored exams. But the Mon monks, about 90% of the total from the whole Mon area, have boycotted the teaching of Buddhist scripture and entrance of final exam in Burmese. At the beginning of boycott, several Mon monks who led the struggle were arrested and detained. The Mon monks anyhow have continued their struggle and the teaching of Buddhist scripture in Mon. Since then, the government religious authorities did not confer the official degrees, recognition of passing of government sponsored exams, to Mon monks.
In the discussion with SLORC, the NMSP leaders also proposed to officially allow the Mon monks again and learn Buddhist scripture and enter examination in Mon like Premier U Nu era. But the SLORC officials said they will propose this request to the Religious Ministry and will respond whether government allow the teaching of Mon. Up to present time, no official reply was offered by the government and it remains very calm.
The NMSP also proposed to build several schools in Mon area to provide education to children and it is not matter for NMSP whether those schools are taught in Burmese or Mon. Because of the civil war, all Mon area has been remained as an underdeveloped condition, lack of assistance from government or NMSP. The Mon young generation in rural are has grown up in community with lack of education and most of them became illiterate persons and as a result, they have sought jobs as hard labourers in Thailand. To prohibit this unwelcome situation in Mon community, it needs to build more schools and provide more education to the Mon children. That was why NMSP proposed this request. But the request has been calm like other proposals since ceasefire and no school building program in Mon was adopted by government and the border area development program of SLORC is remained as lip-service.
In some Mon villages, the regime has ignored to upgrade the level of schools for several years although the numbers of student over-crowded in the school. Thus, the NMSP also asked to upgrade the level of school that situated in Mon villages. Several primary schools (from Kindergarten up to four grade) in Mon villages were remained at the same level for several years and those were not upgraded to middle level. Similarly, several middle schools (from five grade up to eight grade) in Mon villages such as Kalaw Thaw (of Mudon township), Pa Nga, Htinn Yu, Htit Ka Yin (of Thanbyuzayat township) were remained as the same level for several years and the government did not provide any promotion of education to Mon children. That is one kind of a secret prohibition by government officials halting the Mons not to accept the higher education.
Normally, when the students passed that level of school, they have to move to another villages to receive higher level education. The higher level of the schools are normally in towns and if they would like to join higher level schools they have to attend school from their villages every day or stay in towns. It has been a hard situation for rural Mon students to spend more expenses and time. As a result, several Mon school children have left from schools after they passed villagers' school level. Even the NMSP asked the above mentioned various numbers of schools to be upgraded, the regime remains quiet and no improvement was accepted. Since the careless treatments of the recent government and current military regime, the numbers of intelligent persons in Mon community became less.
Besides provision of education to community, according to adopted assimilation policy of military regime, it also has attempted to destroy the Mon national schools in the rural area and Mon education system. In some mixed schools, where the Mon language was taught as a foreign language, the teaching of Mon language was became unofficial in schooling time and the Mon teachers were also driven out from the schools. Constantly, the SLORC local authorities also made threats against the Mon national schools to abolish all of it. As a conclusion, though the NMSP-SLORC ceasefire agreement has been in order, the regime has no desire to develop and strengthen the Mon community with education provision and at the same time, it still implements the assimilation policy upon the Mon people.
Disagreement on ODA Program
After military regime released Burma's democratic opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in July 1995, the world community warmly welcomed its attitude and expected on SLORC's future political reform. And some government also provide the helping hands to SLORC with humanitarian aids.
In the second round discussion regarding to border area development program in August 1995, the NMSP also proposed to SLORC for an establishment of Mon national high school in its control territory. Before the meeting was taken place in Moulmein, the Japanese government already announced to resume ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) program to SLORC mainly assistance to education sector. According to NMSP source, SLORC received about 1 billion Japanese Yen in August as a new resumed ODA development fund. In the FEC (foreign exchange: currency) rate of SLORC, one Yen is equal to one Kyat of Burmese currency.
According to plan of NMSP, it would like to build a high school in a small village that was under control of its army and create as a Mon national high school. In August meeting, the NMSP also proposed that after the school was built it would like to recognize it as Mon national school and all subjects must be taught in Mon. The NMSP Education Department will take responsibility to run the school. In discussion with SLORC officials, SLORC did not mention their opinion to recognize that school as a Mon national school or government school. But Lt. Col Han Tint, Strategic officer of the South East Command said, "it doesn't matter to recognize it as a Mon national school, but you have to complete building it first", to the NMSP leaders.
If the high school was recognized as a Mon national school, the NMSP Education Department will assist in running schools such as to provide teachers, teaching technique, equipment, stationary, curriculum and text books and etc. As SLORC's initial plan, they would like to complete the high school with the help of NMSP. Because they would like to show the Japanese government that they were implementing the border area development program with ODA fund.
To facilitate building of high school, the SLORC agreed to provide 10 million Kyat and this amount is equal to 10 million Japanese Yen. But the education officials of the NMSP will cooperate with other technical experts and engineer team whom provided by SLORC. In October, NMSP, SLORC officials and the engineer team made a land survey in Ah Gani village where was agreed to build school. About 100 acres of wild forest land that situated beside the Ye river was (see map) was taken by NMSP and it was ready to build in the coming dry season December 1995.
In October, the NMSP had a Central Committee meeting and discussed on the situation of building of high school. In the meeting, the CC members also asked for assurance of that high school, to recognize it as a Mon National High School or not. The CC members also asked SLORC this question through the NMSP liaison office based in Moulmein to reply official recognition from the Education Ministry of Rangoon. The official response from the SLORC Education Ministry made the NMSP leaders to be confused. In the August meeting although they agreed to be as Mon National High School, but when the ministry replied that the high school must be recognized as a school under the program of border area development and it must be run by the Border Area Development Ministry.
Recently, the SLORC had ever implemented such kind of program in Wa area, after it reached ceasefire with United Wa State Party (UWSP) in 1990. The officials from Border Area Development Ministry went into Wa area and built schools and hospitals. The Wa had lack of education workers in their own area and has were asked help from SLORC. The SLORC provided teachers to their area and schools under the arrangement of that ministry. But the situation in Wa and Mon areas was different. The Mon community has ability to create their own education system and assist enough teachers to run all its schools.
Since the SLORC and NMSP had different idea, the NMSP CC members disagreed on plan of building of that high school under the name of border area development program in its own permanent control area and strongly opposed it. At the beginning of 1996, the NMSP officially made a reply to SLORC that it will not give permission to build that school, if the SLORC disagree to recognize it as a Mon national high school. The plan of building school was come to a standstill after the NMSP official response.
Later, the SLORC tried to continue building school again and ignored the official reply of NMSP. In February 1996, the SLORC ordered to its local engineer and worker team to build the road that proceed to school building site. Before the school was built, a road that proceed to school building site must be built before hand to easily carry materials and facilities into area. While the engineers and workers were constructing the road, the NMSP also protest not to continue building that road.
Why did SLORC try to ignore the protest of NMSP? Because of the then instruction of SLORC, the NMSP realised the role of SLORC concerning to border area development program. It just has tried to get a road that reach close to NMSP bases and it was a main aim of SLORC in building this road as a priority but not actually to develop the border area. By mentioning for a project of school building, it tried to control the area even deeper inside NMSP control area. If the school was built under the name of border area development program, the SLORC officials could have more chance to get into NMSP area. If the situation of ceasefire is became tension, they could easily send more military forces close to NMSP bases.
At the end, concerning the building of high school, the information of NMSP-SLORC argument was also spread out. According to the source of NMSP officials, as a result, the ODA fund for that high school was also withdrawn by the Japanese government. Even the NMSP protested to stop building, SLORC instructed to its engineer team to continue building road and school with fund 5 million Kyat without outside help. Because of the protest of the NMSP, SLORC stopped this project.
Suppression and Abuses Related to Mon Education System
After the ceasefire, some of the Mon troops from some area had withdrawn back to the permanent troop location zones according to agreement. Without protection of Mon troops, the Mon community in rural areas became weak. At the same time, large number of SLORC troops came into area and have launched new military deployment. The more SLORC troops in rural the more pressure have been given to the Mon Education System.
In some villages, only Mon national schools were initially established and no government school was run for several years and only Mon education system has been in process for several years. First of all, as soon as the Burmese Army reached to area the soldiers always forced village headmen to build schools for teaching of Burmese language and government education system. But the government schools must be built with the villagers' own expenses. Sometime, they also promised to village headmen that they will provide some donation and but after school was built, no any donation from those military personnels was provided. And they also forced the village headmen to build schools as quickly as possible.
In ceasefire agreement, the SLORC will not allow the teaching of Mon language in its government schools and allowed the NMSP or local villagers to establish their own separate school to teach Mon language and run Mon education system. Regarding to this point, the local military commanders also realized that they also have opportunity similarly to the Mon community to build separate government schools in villages where only Mon national schools were existed.
For example, in April of 1996, Maj. Maung Toe of LIB No. 343, based in Ye, called a meeting with village headmen from several villages of Ye township's northern part area, in which no government school was established. In the meeting he forced the village headmen to build the schools as soon as possible. As the Mon education system was in process for many years, all village headmen in the area would not like to build separate government schools. If they agreed to build the school, they will have to collect cash from own villagers and they have to complete schools within two months during summer holidays. Even a small village, the villages had to build a school with at least 100, 000 Kyat worth.
Because of the pressure from Burmese local officials, the Mon village community dissatisfied on case to build the new school for government and always informed the nearest NMSP officials. Sometimes, the NMSP officials also protested the village community by informing the concerning SLORC commanders that those villages already had Mon national schools and they may have difficulty to build another new school and attempted to halt pressure of local officials. Similarly, the Burmese Army also gave pressure to villagers of the area from Ye southern part.
As an example for Ye southern part township, in Khaw Zar village, Mon school was recently established and Mon education system has been in process for several years. In 1993, the SLORC took more control in the village and they forced the village headmen to allow teaching of Burmese language for half day. Since then, the school was remained as mixed school and the government education system was put by force by the Burmese Army. At the same time, the Burmese troops also tried to push the Mon teachers out of school. But the Mon troops were based close to village and they were not dare to do so. At that time, a column of LIB No. 343 was also based in Khaw Zar village and forced the village headmen to build a new school. The villagers did not build school for teaching of Burmese language and but repaired the old school, and the Burmese language was also taught in that school.
After the ceasefire, those troops also tried to push out all Mon teachers from that school again but the NMSP protest their attempt. Firstly in June 1996, the Burmese troops tried to take out the Mon flag from the pole and replaced with their flag. The Mon local officials completely protest it and disagree on the manner of SLORC local troops.
When the Burmese Army took more base after 1990 through present, and it agreed for ceasefire, its local troops have changed many Mon national schools into government schools. They confiscated school buildings and all materials in the stores and then sent their own teachers. The school system was automatically changed. After the ceasefire, the NMSP officials complained to the situation happened in recent time and to re-allow the teaching of Mon language in those confiscated schools but the SLORC has constantly refused.
Related to Mon education system, the SLORC local officials also made disturbance to Mon teachers, NMSP officials and its supporters. In August 1996, the SLORC LIB No. 343's Maj. Maung Toe came to Aru Taung village and made disturbance to Mon teachers. When he arrived to school, he told to all teachers that the teaching of Mon language was illegal and he will not allow. If the Mon teachers continued teaching Mon language, he will take action. Taking action was meant arrests and it was a warning for Mon teachers to leave the school. After his return, the Mon teachers also asked the NMSP officials, whether they shall continue or stop. According to Mon officials, the school was recently established as Mon national school and later the Burmese troops forced the village community to be a mixed school. When the school was Mon national school, recently the Mon teachers had more chance than government teachers to run the school. Later, the military forced the village community to allow morning time for the teaching of Burmese language. Even the warning by military in August, the Mon teachers continued their teaching. Then, the government teachers informed about that to Maj. Maung Toe.
Step by step, the commander instructed a new type of disturbance to Mon teachers in October. In school, the government teachers accepted teaching time in the morning and Mon teachers have chance to teach in the evening. On October 5, after the teaching of Burmese language when the Mon teachers started teaching, all school materials such as blackboards, desks, tables and others were kept in store by government teachers. On October 6, there were strong arguments occurred between the Mon and government teachers. The government teachers returned back to Ye and informed about problem to Maj. Maung Toe.
As a result, on October 7 in the morning Maj. Maung Toe led 200 Burmese troops came into village and tried to arrest the Mon teachers. Soon after they reached close to village, they surrounded outside and entered into village. At that time the NMSP local officials were also in village and informed the Burmese troops that if they would like to solve the problem they could meet each other. One captain of Burmese troops informed four NMSP officials and told them to meet his commander and to discuss the problems that happened in school yesterday. He also suggested the NMSP officials that if they had small guns, to bring it along with them. The NMSP officials agreed and brought their guns along with them and met with commander Maj. Maung Toe in school.
When they reached to school, Maj. Maung Toe asked why they brought their guns and said there was no dangerous situation to bring arms along with them. Suddenly, he ordered his men to confiscate guns and accused against NMSP officials that they were holding illegal arms. They also complained that the captain told them to bring their guns. And the commander accused them that they forced government teachers with those guns and they must have to confiscate and proposed the problem to higher authorities. The NMSP officials refused the accusation and said they never made any threat to any government teacher. But the commander said anyhow, those NMSP officials have to solve that problem and explained to higher authorities in Ye. The NMSP officials also said they will ask the NMSP liaison office of Ye, to permit travelling allowance to Ye. But the commander said he will take responsibility for traveling and they were brought along with troops to Ye.
When the troops reached Ye, they sent those four NMSP officials to Township Police Station. And the commander told to police chief that he arrested four suspects with arms and asked him to detain them, and then all troops returned back to their battalion headquarters. The NMSP officials complained to police chief that they were not suspects for any crime and, as the polices knew they were NMSP officials and did not detain them. They had to sleep at the police station for one night and on the next day, the NMSP liaison officers came and picked them.
On the same day, some SLORC troops also remained in Aru Taung village, and called all village headmen and asked them why they allowed the teaching of Mon language in school. They also asked where the Mon troops hid their arms to make disturbance to government teachers. The most village headmen complained that they never forced any government teacher to move out from school and there was no arm in the village and complained that the NMSP officials always took their small arms along with them. But they did not trust them and punished some community leaders. A leader of Youth Organization of the village was severely beaten by them. He was the one who helped the Mon teachers and encouraged the Mon education system and acted as a supporter. The troops tied him in school and accused him that he brought Mon troops to drive out government teachers.
At the end of October, Maj. Maung Toe called a meeting with government teachers of the whole Ye Township at Ye No. 2 primary school and warned to stop the teaching of Mon language again. In the meeting, he gave a speech and announced to halt the Mon teaching in all schools of the whole township. But he did not mention how many schools were established by government. He mentioned all schools in the township were likely government schools, there was no chance for NMSP or Mon teachers to run those schools. He also officially warned that "If I met someone teaching Mon language in any school, I will kill with my hand at the place I met", and instructed all government teachers to inform the names of the Mon teachers and their native homes.
According to the source from government officials in Ye, the military has instructed to halt the teaching of the Mon language since the ceasefire was agreed. The military has called several rounds of meeting with township LORC officials and government servants and instructed them to implement that job. Because of the most township officials and government education servants are Mons, they have been reluctant to halt the teaching Mon language in Mon national schools and prohibit the Mon education system. The military, especially LIB No. 343's Maj. Maung Toe, has angered to those township officials and he himself interfered and abused to halt the Mon Education System. This is an example of Ye township, and similarly, the other townships' Mon education system has been also halted by SLORC.
The overall situations highlighted here have been happened since the NMSP reached for a ceasefire agreement with SLORC and no improvement in Mon education system and it has been systematically prohibited by SLORC local military officials. The local military commanders are pretending and acting like Secretary No. 1 of SLORC Gen. Khin Nyunt, get involved in education sector and have used their absolute power in implementing assimilation policy.
HURFOM human rights worker conducted interview with a village headman of..............Village, Ye Township's northern part area, to realize the situation how the local military commanders forcing the villagers to halt the Mon education system and establish government schools in the village. We changed the name of interviewee and here his name is Nai Aung Baw, 38 years old and his occupation is farmer.
When did the Burmese Army send a letter to your village committee and what discussions you have with Burmese commanders in the meeting? If something related to Mon national school in your village, please tell us?
Every month they sent letter to us but mostly did not relate to Mon school in our village. In April, they sent a letter that was come from LIB No. 343 and asked the village committee to meet the commander in their headquarters in Ye immediately. According to the letter, it mentioned they would like to discuss about village school. I and Nai Shein went to Ye because of that letter.
Pressure of local SLORC authorities to Mon community to build government schools
When did the Burmese commander discuss to you regarding to school?
We reached to Ye about in the morning and arrived to battalion about When we arrived and informed soldiers and they arranged a meeting with commander. May be he was Maj. Maung Toe.
He gave us chairs in his room and firstly he asked us about the school in our village. We told him we have a primary school in village and continuously asked that school was Mon school or Burmese school. We told them true that school was Mon school.
he explained us that after the NMSP-SLORC ceasefire, the government (or
military) has responsibility to implement border area
development program and they have plan to build school and hospital in every
village of the
No recognition to Mon national school in rural villages
Then he ordered us to build a primary school with 100,000 Kyat worth. I was amazing and disappointed. Nai Shein asked him that shall the government provide some donation to build school although we were hopeless. He replied that firstly we have to build it by collecting cash from the villagers and the government will provide later. After we complete building the school, he said, we must send the financial statement to him that how much we have spent. He will propose for donation to township education department.
Then, how did you arrange to build the school?
After we returned back to village, we were very complicated on that matter and didn't know how to arrange. And we approached to abbot and told him about the instruction of Burmese commander and he advised to call a meeting with all villagers. Then we had a meeting with the whole villagers and explained them about the order to build the school. No villager agreed to build the school as they already have Mon school and teachers. We knew our villagers well that they are very poor and they have no cash to provide in building another new school. Some suggested us to meet the NMSP township officials to ask for their advice. We met with chairman of Ye northern township and asked him whether we should build the school or not. He said he will inform about it to the liaison office and protest not to build.
Forced the villagers to build the school with their own expenses
After that, because of refusal, what problem occurred?
After one month, the commander sent us a letter again and made assure that we already built the school or not. At that time, we didn't go to meet him. If we went, he will beat us for sure because of the protest of NMSP officials. In September, the same commander sent a letter and asked to meet him in Ye. If we refused again, we will be punished and but we decided to meet him anyhow. When we met him, he didn't make any trouble but asked us many questions related to the building of school. But he didn't mention about the protest of the NMSP officials. He asked did we already build the school and we told him we have much difficulty to collect cash. He agreed and he said anyhow we have to build the school. At the end, we must complete the school before June 1997 before the school started. Now, we have no choice, if we refused to build the Burmese Army will punish us. At the moment, we still build a rough school with bamboo and thatch.
To ensure the points that the NMSP had discussed with SLORC regarding to Mon Education System and the responses, and the then situation development, the HURFOM human rights worker also conducted interview with one NMSP official. He was an officials from Education Department and here is his explanation.
NMSP-SLORC ceasefire agreement and NMSP's requests to maintain Mon literature
When did you have meetings with SLORC regarding to Mon national schools and Mon national education system?
after the ceasefire celebration on
In the meeting, we had discussed a lot regarding to border area development projects such as to build roads, schools, hospitals and others that may benefit directly to local population in Mon area. Regarding to education, we also proposed several points that we have our own education system and would like to maintain it. Otherwise, we also proposed to build more school in rural areas and to provide education to illiterate children.
also pointed out them that recently in the universities,
the officials allowed the Mon old scripture department for the teaching of Mon
language and studied the literary history of
We also asked them to officially recognize for the teaching of Mon Buddhist Scripture in Mon monasteries which the BSPP government announced it as an unofficial teaching. They forced the Mon monks to enter government sponsored examinations to receive degrees from the Religious Ministry. This is one method that the BSPP government tried to destroy Mon literature and assimilate it into Burmese. But about 90% of Mon monks have boycotted and continued the teaching of Mon Buddhist Scripture and did not enter the government examination. We also pointed out about that and asked them to officially recognize the teaching of Mon Buddhist Scripture and their examination again. They just said they will propose about that to Religious Ministry and up to now, no official reply came out.
According to my experience, because of government policy, the Education Ministry would not like to upgrade the level of schools which are situated in Mon villages. Many middle schools in the Mon villages were never upgraded to be high schools and some remained as the same level for over 15 years. The primary schools are also similarly. We also put the names of many village schools and asked to upgrade the level.
Japanese Government's ODA program in Mon area
Concerning to ODA program, what did you discuss with SLORC officials? And how did you benefit from that program?
We didn't accept any benefit from the Japanese government's ODA program. But we ever discussed with SLORC officials about it in August meeting. The plan was to build a Mon national high school with high quality. We proposed them to help us in building that school and they agreed to assist it with ODA program. We really need such a high quality school for Mon students who passed from the middle level schools of the rural area, to continue their education.
According to discussion, the both sides agreed to build the school with 10 million Kyat worth and we also discussed when and where it will be built. The both sides agreed to build in Ah Gani village (see map), and soon after the grant fund was provided the road that proceed to the school must be built first. In the school building process, the SLORC will provide with technical persons and the NMSP must take responsibility for all arrangements.
The program was fail after the then confused argument between the NMSP and SLORC. When we were discussing for the official recognition of the school, we already pushed them to be assure that this school must be Mon national high school and it will be run by the NMSP. They agreed. Lt. Col. Han Tint said, "it doesn't matter to recognize it as a Mon national school, but you have to complete building it first", That was why the NMSP agreed to cooperate with SLORC to build the school in its control area.
The arguments on recognition of Mon national high school or government school
In October 1995, the NMSP's central committee members had a meeting in their headquarters and they made assure again whether school will be recognized as Mon national school or not. The CC members checked about it through Moulmein liaison office to Education Ministry. The ministry replied that the school must be recognized as a border area development school, and it meant the school must be run by SLORC and no official recognition as Mon national school. As soon as the CC members heard this response they decided to withdraw NMSP cooperation to build this school and rejected building in their control area.
Because of the NMSP protest, the building of the school came into a standstill. But the SLORC continued building road to get access into NMSP control area. The NMSP strongly opposed it. According to source from SLORC, the OD A program for the Mon was also withdrawn by Japanese government because of NMSP-SLORC arguments.
After you didn't receive assistance from SLORC to build the high school, what is you next arrangement?
Now, we already built our high school in a Mon displaced person camp with woods and thatches that get from the jungle. We are teaching our own education system there.
In destroying Mon Education System, the SLORC also made troubles to local Mon community and furthermore to the NMSP local officials. To ensure a torturing of Aru Taung villagers, we also conducted with a village committee who was witness of the incident. His name is Nai....................(54 years old) and his permanent occupation is farmer.
The past suppression and restriction on Mon education system
Can you explain me in detail what happened to your village school in August and October of 1996? Please tell me its background also?
Our village school is Mon national school that was run by our villagers and the concerned local NMSP officials for several years. Up to 1990, the situation of the school was stable and beyond that period, the NMSP troops have loose control in the whole area and the Burmese troops could come into village very often. Since then they tried to drive out Mon teachers in several schools and put the government teachers. They called several rounds of meeting with us and told to allow the teaching of Burmese language in village school and we always insisted that the school was run by NMSP and we could not decide by ourselves. But later they forced us that if we refused to allow the teaching of Burmese language, they will burn down the school and as we were afraid we had to allow them teaching of Burmese language in the evening time. Next year, they forced us again that their government teachers would like to teach in morning time. If we refused we will be punished and after they got the morning time, the school was automatically became as government school. On the next step, they tried to arrest and drive out Mon teachers, but we protested it and insisted that if they arrested Mon teachers, the Mon troops will arrest their teachers again. May be the both teachings will be halted. They agreed and the Mon education system has been remained in our village school.
After ceasefire, the situation became wrong. We thought we have more rights to run the Mon education system. We don't know for sure, what are discussions between NMSP and Burmese leaders. In August 1996, one column of Burmese troops from LIB No. 343 based in Ye, came into village and called a meeting mainly with their teachers but including some of village committee members.
In the meeting the commander (Maj. Maung Toe) said he will not allow any Mon teaching in government school (of our village) according to the existed law. He also threatened that if the teaching of Mon language was continuous the army will take action to Mon teachers. But the Mon teachers were continuous their teaching and the local NMSP officials strongly insisted about that warning through their Ye liaison office.
Threats to Mon teachers and community in attempts to abolish Mon national school
After that what happened to the Mon teachers and the school?
As we knew, the Burmese commander in Ye dissatisfied on the NMSP protest and the teachers who refused his order. Then he instructed to government teachers to make disturbance to Mon teachers in term of driving them out. He instructed those government teachers when they went to Ye to earn salaries at the end of September. After those teachers returned back to village school, the problem was occurred. On October 5, after the teaching of Burmese language in the morning time, the Burmese teachers kept all school materials and teaching support facilities in store and locked it. The Mon teachers could not teach in the evening and angered to Burmese teachers. On the next day of October 6, the Burmese teachers did the same manner and the Mon teachers put strong argument to them. After the argument, the Burmese teachers returned back to Ye and told the Maj. Maung Toe that the Mon troops drive them out of school by showing arms.
On the next day, about 200 Burmese troops from LIB No. 343 led by Maj. Maung Toe came into village again and tried to arrest Mon teachers. At that time, the township NMSP officials led by Nai Htaw Ring were also there and informed the Burmese troops to officially talk with them. And they had a meeting in school and I don't know what they were talking about and at the end the Burmese troops brought those NMSP officials to Ye. According to one officials among them said the Burmese troops tried to detain them in Ye police station with accusation showing arms to their Burmese teachers.
Accompanied human, rights abuses to local community that supported the Mon national school
After one group of Burmese troops left from the village, the another group also arrested village's youth leader Nai Sa Gung Mon (22 years old) and beat him terribly. They also beat and shout the village headmen. He was a supporter of teaching of Mon language and provided several arrangement to Mon teachers. The troops accused him he was a Mon soldier and brought the NMSP officials into village to drive out their teachers. They beat him with gun butts and jungle boots. They also asked him to show them arms that he hid. The more he refused, the more he was mistreated. His whole back was pained with injuries and his legs were nearly broken.
Then, what happened to your village school?
At the end, all Mon teachers had to leave and Mon teaching in school was not remained.