The Mon forumContents

The Mon Forum

 

3/2003 (31 March 2003)

 

Contents

 

News

(1)     Farmers along Kanbauk-Myaingkalay Gas pipeline are in trouble,

(2)     The government school building with the students’ money,

 

Reports


Special Report: Buddhist Mon monks confronted Police on Human Rights Abuse in
Mon State, Burma

Report: SPDC’s Implementation of Assimilation Policy in Mon Areas

 

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Commentary:

 

SPDC’s Attempt to Lie International Community

In February and March 2003, SPDC authorities in Mon State ordered the respective Township authorities in various Townships to conduct training to know the Order No. 1/99 that eradicate all forms of forced labour occurred in Burma. 

What does really happen in the training?   The village headmen, members of USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association), members of fire brigades and other government control organizations attended the training and in training Mon State authorities normally instructed the participants to say there is no forced labour in their area if they met foreigners. 

During these two months, Amnesty International, UN Human Rights Commission Special Repporteur, and ILO Permanent Liaison Officer tried to collect information on the human rights violations including labour rights violations in Burma. 

According to a USDA member, he said the authorities from Moulmein, the capital of Mon State came and requested to them that if the foreigners come into their areas and ask about forced labour and other types of human rights violations, they must say ‘no’.  

SPDC and their authorities have not eradicated any forms of forced labour and the civilians in Mon State are constantly forced to build road, to guard gas pipeline and to be porters in rural areas.   With an objective to hide their violations, SPDC Mon State planned the above-mentioned training.

 

 

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News:

 

Farmers along Kanbauk-Myaingkalay Gas pipeline are in trouble

 

(Mudon/ Thanbyuzayat Township, March 2003)

On March 16, 2003, the Burmese Army’s IB No. 31 commander, Lt. Col. Naing Win, ordered the farmers near the Kanbuak-Myaingkalay pipeline route in the southern part of Mudon Township and in Thanbyuzayat Township of Mon State, to take security along the pipeline and if there is explosion near their farms, they must be punished.  

The gas pipeline is coming from Kanbauk gas field in Tenasserim and the regime in Burma, SPDC, constructed the pipeline through Mon State and then provided gas to a cement factory in Pa-an Township of Karen State.   The pipeline route passes through into many Townships in Mon State such as Ye, Thanbyuzayat, Mudon and Moulmein Townships.  

It passes into many crop tree and rubber plantations and paddy fields in these townships.   The bad constructed gas pipeline has sometimes exploded and sometimes it was demolished by the rebel force, KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army).   Due to this demolition of the gas pipeline, the Burmese Army in the area concerned has instructed the local civilians to take more security in the area.  

According to the March 16 order, the commander instructed the farmers in the area concerned to fence the pipeline, to cover the pipeline to be underground and to take security along it.  If they failed to do these works they must be punished. 

There are about 500 farmers in the southern part of Mudon Township where the gas pipeline passes through have to take responsibility for the above-mentioned works along the pipeline. 

It is a hard work to cover the pipeline with dirt to have under ground.  The army believed that if the pipeline is on ground, the rebel soldiers could set the explosive materials and could easily explode.  According to the order, if the pipeline is passes through into one farmer’s farm, that farmers had to take responsibility to cover the pipeline with dirt, to fence it and take security both day and night times.  

Because of this order, some farmers have to hire day-labourers from the village and paid them to dig earth and then cover the pipeline with dirt.   If the more pipeline passes into their farms, they have to pay more labourer cost.   The labour cost for one day is about 1000 Kyat (~ one US Dollar) and the farmers have to pay for all labour cost. 

One farmer from Kwan-hlar village, as the pipeline passes very long in his farm, he has to spend about 80000 Kyat for the labour cost to dig earth and cover the pipeline route.   But one farmer spend about 20000 Kyat only as the pipeline passes shortly in his farm.  Many other farmers also have to spend, 50000 Kyat, 40000 Kyat and 30000 Kyat respectively depending on the route of the pipeline.  

While many farmers are busy to collect materials to send to their farms such as natural fertilizers, fire-wood, and other ploughing materials, they are again busy with additional works of taking security for the gas pipeline.  

One farmers from Doma village in southern part of Mudon Township said, he has to spend a lot of money in labour cost to cover the gas pipeline with earth and therefore, he remained very less money and would like to abandon his lands and go into Thailand to seek works for his family income.  

The Burmese Army in the area did not have enough force to take the security of the gas-pipeline and they have totally forced the civilians in the area to involve in the taking security along the pipeline.  Since the construction of gas pipeline, the civilians are not only suffered from the land loss, but they also suffered from the constant conscription of forced labour and paying money for the security of the pipeline.  

However, the SPDC and a Japanese company, which invested in production of cement in the Myaing-kalay factory get a lot of profit.  

 

The government school building with the students’ money

(Ye Township, March 2003)

With objective to rebuild and repair No. 2 State High School in Ye Town, Mon State, the SPDC education authorities just collected large amount of money from the students who attended the school.

According to the source of a student’s parent, she said her son had to pay school principles and education authority with 13, 000 Kyat to rebuild and repair the school.   The order to collect money came out from Township Education Department and they ordered the teachers and school principles to collect money.  

The rebuilding and repairs of school was instructed by MOMC Commander Brigadier Ye Win in the early of this year and the student parents expect that they would receive government support for the school.  Although they have waited for some month, the education authorities did not allocate any amount of money for the rebuilding and repairs of the school building. 

Township Education Department just ordered to do just the ‘self-help’ program for the school building and they have to pay for all costs.   But there ‘parents-teachers’ association, and however, the authorities did not give responsibility to that association to build or repair the school.  

No. 2 State High School have over 700 students and the Education department received about 6 million Kyat from the collection of money from the students.  

It is always hard for the student to find 10000 Kyat urgently to pay to Education department as there is low income in every house and no employment.

A parent from Aung-min-gala town ward said, ‘it is not easy for me to find 13000 Kyat for my son.   But I worry my son must be punished if we could not pay and so I just borrow with high interests.  I know if I could not pay, my son can fail the final exam.”

In 2002, the students also have to pay for purchasing computer in schools in order to equip computer system in the school.   The authorities also collected 5 millions from students. 

Many student parents believed, they would not spend all of this money and some corruption among the educational authorities would be taken place.   The authorities and school principle never be accountable for their money collection form the students whether to build schools or purchasing computers or other purposes.  

 

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SPECIAL REPORT

 

Buddhist Mon monks confronted Police on Human Rights Abuse in Mon State, Burma

 

March 7, 2003

 

Presented by

 

Human Rights Foundation of Monland (Southern Burma)

 

 

Introduction:

 

Human rights defenders are only known in the concept of western world.  Local Mon Buddhist monks community have challenged it in recent weeks after they have confronted to Burmese police officials and army alike in Mon State for a protection of ordinary citizen of Burma.

 

Rev Wareinda, Secretary of the Buddhist Monk Association; an official government body of the State Sangkha Council (than-gka ma ha na ya ka) confronted to Police Chief Aye Thaung in Kyeik Ma Yaw Town in Mon State on March 10 for a legal action toward violators.

 

 

The Story of the Case:

 

Mr Nai La of 78 was sent to Kyeik Ma Yaw hospital on March 8 after he was seriously tortured by local Deputy Subinspector of Police (du yey oah)  Maung Toe unlawfully acted in police cell.  Local headman and militiamen arrested Mr La on March 7 with a wrongly claim of fail to provide full amount of paddy to the government (State Peace and Development Council).  Mr La is a farmer and his farm was destroyed by flood in the last crop season. 

 

According to a letter dated on March 21, posted to Chairman of Mon State Peace and Development Council by Rev Silawanta, local priest of the Buddhist Temple, Mr La and his wife are originally farmers of the village.  They have offered paddy that they have cultivated from the farm to the government.  After he was imposed to provide fixed amount of paddy to the government, he then was seeking cash (to borrow money) in the community to purchase it.  Despite he requested to local headman Mr Nai Kyan Yit for further delay until he could find cash on hand, local militiamen refused a formal request and detained him in Tarana police box (in Kyein Ma Yaw Township).

 

 

The letter on paragraph two stated as:

 

After they were detained over three nights at Tarana police box they then transferred to Nyaung Pin Zoet Police Statio by Local militiaman Mr Nai Kyan Yit under the hand of Maung Toe.  They again detained Mr La for one night and his wife Daw Ma Toh for two nights.

 

Twelfth personal of the Buddhist monks signed the letter and posted to Chairman of the Mon State Southeast Command General Myint Aung.

 

 

Letter of New Mon State Party to Burmese Military Intelligence:

 

The New Mon State Party also has seriously conducted a campaign to sue violator and officially lodged a complain letter to the local Burmese Military Official dated on March 23.

 

The letter said, Mr Nai Kyit, a local headman and his three militiamen arrested Mr Nai La age 78 to Nyaung Pin Zoet Police Station on March 7.  At the same night, head of the police Maung Toe (La-120798) hand-cuff him and beat, kicked until he was fall-down and unconsciousness.

 

 

Appealed by family:

 

As it is a matter of family, family of Mr La also lodged letter to Chairman of the Mon State Peace and Development Council dated on March 25.

 

The letter stated that Mr La is an honest farmer and lives in Kaw Thet village that owns (14) acres of farm over (38) year. He has not failed to provide paddy to the government within exist law and order for the last three decades. Mr La is 78 but he is still strong and works in the farm until today.

 

Local headman and his three militiamen threaten Mr La to provide fix amount of paddy (168) rice basket for total (14) areas of farm.  As Mr La’s farm was destroyed by flood this year he only brought home about (20) rice basketof paddy after the season.  Mr La provided paddy to the government and reported to the local headman that his farm was destroyed this year and no more paddy left in farm.  However, he claim was denied and he was bitterly abused orally by the militiamen.

 

According to the letter written in Burmese language on paragraph (3) from page (2), the local headman unlawfully imposed to U La to bring cash Kyat (560000).  However, Mr La could not accept this unlawful act.  He said that he only could bring cash for (100) basket of paddy that value Kyat (250000).  The local headman refused to his proposal.

 

 

Police Official Hearing:

 

After a massive human rights defenders’ campaign for social justice for a week, Police Force of Union of Myanmar in Kyeik Ma Yaw Township of Mon State called a Police Hearing on Mar 11 that where member of the force have attended including Maung Toe, the violator.

 

According to a confidential report from the Kyeik Ma Yaw Police Station dated on March 11, Sub-inspector of police force (yey oah) Aye Thaung, Deputy (du yey oah), Tun Than and Deputy (du yey oah) Myint Tun were chaired the hearing.

 

 

The Hearing was conducted as following procedure:

 

Witness’s Statements:

 

            Witness (1)    Mr U La age 78

            Witness (2)    Daw Myaing age 58

            Witness (3)    Coporal Police (yey tat kyat) Thein Aung (No-La-81084)

            Witness (4)    Police (yey tat thar) Soe New

            Witness (5)    Police (yey tat thar) Aung Thein Myint

            Witness (6)    Police (tey tat thar) Aung Maying

 

 

After a comprehensive hearing, the hearing officials believe the case as:

 

“Maung Toe (Membership No La-120798) was drunk.  He acted unlawfully to detained farmer Mr U La who is detained at Nyuang Pin Zoet Police Station.  He also sways to detained Mrs Mi Daw Myaing with unacceptable words (such as F-U-C-K).  As the testimony has proved that Maung Toe acted unlawfully and the hearing officials believe to take legal action toward violator and signed as followed:

 

 

Hearing Official Members:

 

            Chairman       Aung Thaung (Membership No La-102825)

            Member          Tun Thein (Membership No La-131217)

            Member          Myint Tun (Membership No La- 131231)

 

The opinion of the Hearing Officials is that according to an article of “Police Disciplines Control” he is deserved to be detained with fixed period of time.

 

This confidential report is written by Deputy Sub-Inspector of Police Ngwe Soe (Membership No La 57299) with signature.

 

 

Additional report by Nai La’s family: (based on Interview by staff)

 

Mr Nai Kyan Kyit local headman is uneducated person in the community and he works as a headman to find his personal profit.  He was advised by the Chairman of Kyeik Ma Yaw Township of Peace and Development Council that the chairman is behind him any things happen about the case.  Local official of the New Mon State Party detained Nai Yit for a week for investigation in regard to unlawful act.  After this confidential report leaked to the hand of local Buddhist monks, Chief Police of the Kyeik Ma Yaw visited to the residence of Mr La for questions and further interrogation.  During a pending period of time, violator Maung Toe visited to the hospital and pleaded Mr La for not taking legal action against him but the Mon Buddhist monks community refused his request. Family of Mr La is now under strict communication access to other member of the Buddhist Mon community after an internal police report leaked to the community.

 

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SPDC’s Implementation of Assimilation Policy in Mon Areas

 

 

Decade-long Assimilation Policy in Burma

Before Burma’s independence in 1948, Burman leaders and mountainous ethnic (non-Burman) leaders agreed each other to form a Federal Union of Burma to guarantee equal racial rights.   However after the Burman leader Gen. Aung San, the father of current Pro-democracy leader Daw Aung Sann Suu Kyi, and his cabinets were assassinated before independence, the governments which have power after independence failed to guarantee the equal racial rights. 

The non-Burman ethnic leaders have not dissatisfied on the Burman who failed to improve the development in the remote areas and created Burma as ‘unitary state’.   In the new Union of Burma, the Mon people, who have long history of self-governing in lower, were not granted an ethic state like many other people.  Similarly, Karen people are similarly treated like Mons and they did not have any State in the federal union.   The civil war broke out since the early of Independence.  

In civil war, the force of Burmese Army had been strengthening and Gen. Ne Win seized the political power from the parliamentary government in 1962.   From 1962 until 1988, during 26 years of Gen. Ne Win rule, he put an agenda of ‘assimilation policy’ and planned to assimilate all non-Burman people to be Burman people.   He banned all ethnic language teaching schools, the use of ethnic language in the government office, banned teaching of Buddhist scripture taught in ethnic language and other restrictions.  

The non-Burman people who dissatisfied

 

 

Banning of teaching Mon language

 

Since before Burma retained Independence from British, the Mon people who owned the high standard of literature in the past civilians, would like to maintain their language to be not appeared.  

 

Therefore, when the Mon armed group, New Mon State Party (NMSP) and its army, Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) have influence in the rural areas during the revolutionary period, NMSP’s Education Department and the Mon community in the rural areas established many Mon national schools and tried to provide the Mon children with Mon education, which the teachers taught the Mon students in Mon language. 

However, when the Burmese Army had more control in the rural area, they closed down the Mon national schools or changed the Mon national schools as government schools.  Then they brought their teachers and let them teach Burmese language in all main subjects in schools.  This plan is also directly relating to the military regimes’ assimilation policy. 

During the NMSP-SLORC/SPDC ceasefire, although NMSP officially proposed to the regime for the teaching of Mon language in schools even outside of school time, but it was rejected by the local authorities later.  

But in some area, there are some schools called ‘joint-schools’, which was built by the Mon community and allowed to teach both Mon and Burmese languages by sharing time among the teachers.  The teachers agreed each other and they could share their times.  Later, the authorities or the commanders of Burmese Army has tried to dominate those joint schools and found the way to dismiss the teachers from the schools. 

Not only the SPDC’s local authorities have involved in banning the teaching of Mon langauge or dismissing the Mon teachers from Mon schools, even the military commanders at Mon State level also involved in banning of the teaching of Mon language. 

 

As an instance,

“In an order dated on October 18, 2002, the General Secretary of Mon State Peace and Development Council, Col. Aung Maw Maw, ordered the Township education department of Moulmein to bar the teaching of Mon language in a school in a village.   In his order, he said ‘(the teaching (of Mon language) is not allowed any time in the schools’.

“The joint-school that teaching of Mon language was in Kadoe-kyun village, in Kaw-ton villag tract and the village had only about 100 household.   The school was established by the Mon community in the village and the villagers agreed to all both Mon and government teachers to teach in the school.   Although the teachers have taught and shared the time for many years, but the authorities have not noticed on them.  In 2002, the authorities started noticed to the teaching of Mon language in the area and therefore, they ordered the authorities concerned to ban the teaching of Mon language.

“Then the authorities from Mon State Education Department also ordered Moulmein and Kyaikmayaw Township authorities to ban all teaching of Mon language in schools.  U Ye Myint, the Deputy Director of Mon State ordered all headmasters/headmistresses in high school, middle school and primary school in Moulmein and Kyaikmayaw Townships to ban all teaching of Mon language.”

This is a clear policy of Mon State authorities in their implementation of ‘assimilation policy’ and forced the Mon children in the rural villages, to just learn Burmese language, even it is not their mother tone.

In some places, after the villagers built the joint school to allow both Mon and government teachers, but the Mon teachers were forced to leave by the local Township authorities or military commanders nearby.  

 

As an instance,

“As the school building was too old in Kun-doo village, the army commander from LIB No. 587 ordered the villagers to build a new school in May 2002.   The headmen had to collect money from 3000-4000 Kyat per household to build the new school.   The school was allowed both Mon and government teachers to teach both Mon and Burmese languages at school.   Before the ceasefire, the school was built just for the teaching of Mon language and but later after ceasefire, the government teachers tried to take the time for the teaching of Burmese language.  By the negotiation of the village headmen, the teachers shared the time in teaching the own language.  But in May 2002, the commanders ordered if the school was completely built, only the government teachers have rights to teach in the school.

“The commanders also added that if the Mon teachers would like to continuously teach the Mon language they must go far from the schools.   Therefore, the Mon teachers moved to the monastery and arranged to run the Mon national schools.”

Normally, the Mon village community always prefers for the teaching of Mon language in the villages because all villages’ children are Mons and therefore, they also would like to teach Mon language.  If they could teach the Mon language, they also could have advantage in learning their education. 

In some schools in Mon areas, where the government teachers are teaching, the teachers always forced the Mon children to speak Burmese language and if they failed speaking Mon language, they could be punished by teachers.  Sometimes, the teachers and parents also had problems concerning to forcing of school children.

In most Mon villages, where the joint schools are operating, the government teachers have not hardly worked for the students as they believed the Mon teachers could fulfill the teaching.  On the other hand, most government teachers are forced by the authorities to compete with Mon teachers and so that they have less willingness to teach the children.

 

As an instance,

“Many Mon parents in Kywetalin village of Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division did not satisfied on and disappointed to the government teachers teaching in the joint school in their village.   In that joint school, there are 3 government teachers who teach the subjects in Burmese and 2 teachers who teach in Mon language.   Accordingly to the villagers, the teachers come only one or two times only within one month, and they did not really teach the students.   But they satisfied with Mon teachers because they teach the students with required subjects everyday. 

“The villagers said that the government teachers took a lot of school entrance cost from all students when the school started opening and later they disappeared when they could not get money from the students. “

The SPDC’s local authorities or army in the rural Mon areas not only forced the teachers and village leaders in the village concerned to close down the Mon national schools, but they also sometimes make problems against Mon educational authorities.  NMSP’s Education Department also appointed their authorities to operate the Mon educational system.   Those Mon education authorities have to travel around to many Mon villages for the education activities: such as paying teachers’ salaries; providing school stationary; calling the regular meeting and others.  During the Mon education authorities are traveling or basing in villages, they are also disturbed by the army or military intelligence.  Sometimes they arrested those authorities and sometimes they arrested and used the authorities as porters. 

 

As an instance,

“While a 60 years old Mon education authority from Ye Township Mon Education Department, Nai Manate Ong, was traveling around the villages in Southern part of Ye Township in late November 2002, LIB No. 282 troops arrested him and used him as porters.   They arrested him on November 30, 2002.   Before the soldiers, the commanders also inquired about from a village headman in the area and they knew well that he was a Mon education authority.  

“The Burmese Army’s soldiers brought him for three days and forced him to carry a heavy load of ammunitions.  Although they treated him like many porters, but they threatened him all the time to resign from Mon education works.  

“Many Mon teachers and Mon education authorities believed that the arresting of their education authorities was similarly challenging to Mon national education and the operating of Mon national schools in the area.    That was the first time the Burmese Army was arresting the Mon teacher and used him as porter after ceasefire, said a Mon teacher.”

This is a clear evidence that the SPDC and the commanders of Burmese Army did not want the existence of Mon national school in several Mon villages and they also believed that these schools are competing against the regime run government schools.  For many poor Mon children in the rural communities, the Mon education and the existing of Mon national schools are reliable.  

Besides closing down of Mon national schools and arresting of Mon education authorities or teachers, the SPDC’s local authorities also closed down the Mon community’s libraries, which use to increase the knowledge of the people.   The authorities also did not want to see anyone to read Mon books in libraries.  

 

As an instance,

“In April 2001, the authorities from Ye Township in Mon State, went to Duya village, a village in the northern part of Township and forced the village headmen to close down a Mon library, which is operated for nearly 10 years.  The library was built and the books were collected by young Mon educated students and young monks.   Nearly 300 books including many Mon books were collected and it was totally closed by the authorities.   The reason that showed by the authorities was that the library did not use any Burmese language in its signboard.”

Military intelligence in other Mon areas have also restricted for the establishment of library.  They also ordered the village headmen concerned if the villagers or youths planned to build libraries, they must need to inform them.  In the information, the MI also wished to know why the villagers planned to build libraries and who support them.      

The Mon people always tried to preserve the Mon language and Mon literature, as they know that the regime is implementing ‘assimilation policy’.  The Mon communities in various parts of Mon State, also conducted dry season Mon literacy training in their villages or in the community.   During the communities are conducting the literacy training, the authorities in the area concerned also distrubed their activities.   For example, when the villagers asked the school or other buildings to use them for literacy training for one month, the village authorities or Township does not allow the training committees and students to use those buildings for teaching.

 

As an instance,

“In April 2002, when village literacy training committee of Morkanin village in Ye Township planned to teach Mon language to about 1500 Mon children in their village, they required a big building to have enough for all students.   The village has a big high school and training committee asked permission to use that building.  The high school was built with the villagers’ fund and so the committee expected the authorities and army commanders would allow for the teaching.   However, the village authorities informed to Township authorities and they have barred the Mon children to not use that school.   Therefore, literacy training committee separated the children into many places, at houses and monasteries and 25 teachers had to manage for the teaching.   The villagers felt unhappy for this action made by the authorities.”

By learning from this case, the local authorities including even village authorities who have to listen to army and intelligence always barred the teaching of Mon language as much as possible. 

Normally the school children from the government schools attend the Mon literacy training during their long school holiday in dry season during April to May to learn how to read and write Mon language.   The local authorities and school teachers do not like the children are attending the Mon literacy training and therefore, they forced the children’s parents to not send them to the Mon literacy training. 

 

As an instance,

“In March 2002, the government school teachers in primary school in Donkani town ward of Mudon Town declared during the final exam of the school that if the parents sent their children to the Mon literacy class, they (the teachers) will exclude the names of those children.  It meant they will not give pass to those students.   Many parents who worried for their children would not get pass in the schools did not send them to Mon literacy classes.”

In villages or towns, most buildings were built by the villagers’ fund and money.  Thus, the Mon village communities also wanted these buildings for their own community purpose.  Although the buildings were built with the civilians, but the authorities totally barred the civilians to use for their purposes.  But the authorities could use for their purposes.   

 

The oppression during the Mon National Day celebration

The Mon people in various parts of Burma holds their Mon National Day celebration accordingly to the Mon lunar calendar and it is always in 2nd and 3rd week of February every year.   Not only the Mon people in Burma holds the MND celebration even Mon migrant communities in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and the Mons in the western countries such as in United States, Canada, Europe and Australia holds the NMD celebration. 

In Mon State, most villagers holds the small celebration of MND and while many villages collectively hold the big celebration in towns.   Although the SPDC authorities and military intelligence (MI) officers would not like to allow for the celebration, however, they could not bar the people because their community and unity is too strong.   Before the MND was held, the Mon people in the communities concerned formed ‘the celebrating committees’ and those committees take all responsibilities of arrangement until the MND is completely held. 

However, the authorities always tried to ban the celebration in public places, such as in gardens, football grounds, city halls or others, and let them celebrate in the places where no people or in the small street where the people could not get access.   Some MND celebration is totally barred in football grounds, then forced the committees to celebrate in the theaters or some places where the people could not get access.  Again, if the authorities could do, they totally banned the MND celebration. 

 

As an instance,

“Before 1990 , the Mon community in Rangoon, the capital of Burma, had held their MND celebration in a football ground in the city, which is called ‘Thein-phu football field’.  In 1990, the authorities from Rangoon Division, forced the celebration committee to move the place of celebration from football to a theater in Rangoon.  If compared with football, very limited number of Mon people could attend the celebration and therefore, this is the method of SPDC authorities and MI tried to limit the space of MND celebration.   In the football field, many thousands of Mon people based in Rangoon attended the MND celebration, but only hundreds number of people could attend in a theater.   

“Again in 2000, the authorities barred totally barred the celebration of 53rd Anniversary of MND by ordering the committee that no MND celebration was to hold in Rangoon because the place is not in Mon State.  Like every year, the MND celebrating committee requested permission for the ceremony to hold the MND celebration in Rangoon at a theater as usual.   Normally, the permitted letter from the authorities came before the committee conducted the ceremony.  However, in February 2000 the authorities in Rangoon totally barred the MND even in the limited space of theater.   The authorities gave a reason that the MND must be held only in Mon State and but not in Rangoon.   Since then, the celebration of MND stopped in Rangoon.”

The Mon community in Rangoon dissatisfied against the authorities for this order and however, they have no rights to freely express their dissatisfaction.  Although the Mon community in Rangoon approached the authorities to hold the ceremony in years later, but they were totally rejected by the authorities.  

However, the Mon community in Mon State and Karen State still held the MND in various areas of Mon State and Karen State.  In most places, except the rural villages, if the Mon community in the whole Township hold the MND, they need to request to the authorities for the allowance.  Normally, the authorities did not want to allow the celebration, however, because of strong influence from the Mon monks and elderly people, the authorities allowed the celebration. 

While the Mon people are celebrating MND celebration, the authorities, police officers and military intelligence officers always tried to disturb the people in the celebration.  Sometimes, even the authorities allowed the MND celebration, but they did not allow to put posters in the middle of the towns, in public places and other places where the majority of the people have access.   Or, sometimes the authorities ordered to take away the MND stage or MND posters soon after the ceremony is held. 

 

As an instance,

“During the 56th Anniversary of MND, the Mon people in Mon State, Karen State and Pegu Division with an objective for the remembrance of the prosperous Mon kingdoms and to recognize the role of Mon women in the administration of Mon countries in the past, the all MND committees in all Townships agreed to put up a poster with a picture of a Mon Queen, ‘Mi Jao Puu’.   The Queen ruled the Mon kingdom, ‘Hongsawatoi’, for about two decades.   The posters with the picture of the Queen were put up in many places in Mon State, some parts of Karen State and in Pegu Town.  

“For SPDC in Mon State, they did not want there were many posters put up in Mon State and the authorities concerned tried to bar that activity.  The Moulmein Township MND celebration committee also requested for the permission of putting up posters from the Moulmein Township authorities.   But the authorities have barred them to not put up that posters without any reason.   Therefore, the Moulmein MND committee could not put up any poster with the picture of Mon Queen. 

“In many Townships in Mon State, MND committees did not wait any permission and they just put up the posters about two-three weeks before the MND celebration.  Again, on February 18, one day after MND, the SPDC’s Minister from Ministry of Home Affairs, U Tin Hlaing, arrived to Mon State and he met many posters along Moulmein-Thanbyuzayat motor road and felt angry.  And, he ordered Mudon and Thanbyuzayat Township authorities to take these posters away.  Then the Township authorities ordered the MND committees for all villages in Townships to take away all posters quickly.  The authorities ordered that if they found the posters on the next day or on February 19, the committee members must be punished.  Therefore, the village and Township MND committees have to take away the MND posters quickly.

In some places, the authorities, military intelligent officers and police officers always tried to disturb against the celebration, by barring the people to not attend the ceremony and creating quarrels and violations during the celebration and other methods.  For example, in 1998, when the New Mon State Party, a Mon political party, which deals ceasefire with SPDC, hold a golden jubilee of the MND in a village in eastern part of Ye Township, many villagers from the northern, southern and western part of the Township wanted to join the MND.    But when many buses arrived at the entrance of Ye town to proceed to the village where the MND was held, the villagers were threatened by the police and army in towns that if they joined the MND, they must be arrested and imprisoned.  Because of this threat, many fear Mon villagers returned without joining MND celebration. 

Disturbing the MND is still continuing and whenever the police, army and military intelligence have opportunity, they tried to stop the celebration anyhow.   Even this year’s 56th Anniversary of MND, some places are disturbed by the police or army.  

 

As an instance,

“On February 17 night, when the Mon community in Ein-duu village, Pa-an Township of Karen State, held the MND in the village, two police officers also came and created violence among the people with objective to let the people attending the celebration run from the places.   Two young policemen, Soe Min Aung and Yan Naing Soe, from Kwan-taung police station, which is about 2 miles far from the MND celebrating places, they tried to disturb the MND celebration in Ein-duu village. 

“They arrived at night time about 10 o’clock after they already and at that time, the celebrating committee were holding the traditional dancing of Mon people.  The police officers went into celebration ground and planned to meet with members of celebrating committee.   While the meeting with the committee members, they ordered to stop all traditional dancing and singing in the stages.    First the committee made appeal to them that they could not stop because it was accordingly to MND.  And, after the police officers used a lot of rude words attacking about MND and the committee, there was a quarrel between the police officers and committee members.  

“After the quarrel intensified, one police officer stabbed a committee member, Nai Gone, with a knife.  Then another policeman stabbed Nai Min Naung.   Both committee members get injuries.   Nai Gong got injury in his left side of stomach and Nai Min Naung got injury in his head and tight.  As the violent fighting happened, many villagers fled from the celebration.  Two celebration committee members were brought to hospitals for treatment.   The village community believed the police officers just came to disturb the MND celebration.”

Sometimes, the authorities also conducted other activities and invited the people in the town to participate with objective to have less people in the MND celebration.     



Banning of printing of Mon books and publications

The monk community, university students’ organizations and Mon literature and culture organizations have regularly published Mon books, journals and magazines for the Mon people in Mon areas in general to know about the religion, politics, economics, social and other general knowledge.   Most of the organizations, which produce the books and other types of publications have main objectives for the protection of Mon literature and language.

These civil society organizations have a great concern for the disappearance of Mon literature and speaking of Mon language in the world under the Burmanization or ‘assimilation’ policy of Rangoon government.  There is a proverb that ‘If there is no literature, there is no people’ and so that when the Mon language is not used in the offices or public places and dominated by the use of Burmese language, they have concern for disappearance of Mon literature.  

To protect the use of Mon literature and language from the disappearance, those organizations have tried to produce books, magazines, journals and other publications for reading.   However, these groups faced serious restriction from the ‘Press Scrutiny Board (PSB)’ of the successive government from BSPP (Burmese Socialist Programme Party), SLORC until the current regime SPDC.

During the era of BSPP and SLORC, the Mon organizations that proposed for the printing of Mon books, magazines and journals and even for Mon songs, they had to translate from Mon language to Burmese language.  This was just the first step and if they members of ‘Press Scrutiny Board (PSB)’ does not under the Mon style writing or poems they called the applicants of the publications and asked many questions to ensure the writing or poems were not against the regime and its policy.  

Currently in SPDC time, the regime has adopted more restrictive rules against the publication groups or the ethnic organizations.  Besides they have to translate all articles, poems, stories and features from Mon language to Burmese, they also needed to enclose the biography of each writer, their address, and the photos of every writer.  This restriction is to make sure that if one writer is writing against the government or attack the military rule, they could arrest that writer easily.  

From the experience Mon literature activists, they could get permission for only one to two issues of Mon magazine or journals each year while over 80-100 magazines or journals in Burmese language from various publishing groups get permission every week or every month. 

Under the rule of military regime, although Burmese writers are disappointed because of various censorship and restriction in their writing, however, the magazine or publishing groups still continues produce their magazines or journals on the regular basis, monthly or weekly. However, the regime’s Press Scrutiny Board (PSB) delayed the publications in Mon language for over 6 months to one year.  Sometimes, some Mon magazines or journals were totally rejected for printing and production.

In late 2002, SPDC’s Press Scrutiny Board (PSB) totally rejected all printing of Mon books, journals, magazines.   According to a Mon literature activist from Rangoon, he said,

“Except the religious books (on Buddhism) in Pali language, the Press Scrutiny Board (PSB) does not allow any printing of Mon magazines, journals, and books.   Although we applied with translations (from Mon to Burmese), now we have been waiting for over one year.  They did not give permission.  Recent years, if we provided them translations (of all Mon poems, articles and stories), we can expect the board would give permission except taking out some articles or poems that they thought attacking the regime’s policy.   This year (2002), they totally restricted the production of Mon journals and magazines.   We have to wait for the permission for over one year.   But no reply have been come out and at the end, we inquired why the PSB did not give the permission.  At the end they said except books on Buddhism, they would not allow any Mon publications to be printed.  

In Mon community, the monk organizations, student organizations and Mon literature and culture organizations have published about 4 types of magazines and it have been banned since the early of 2002.   Those organizations are disappointed much for the restriction and ban of PSB, although they followed every rules and regulars adopted by the authorities.  Similarly, the PSB banned some Mon CD songs, the small sizes of poem, and the biography books of Mon leaders or Mon monks.

Following the ban and various types of restriction, the SPDC authorities and military intelligence have also tried to ban the Mon publishing houses and publishers.   In Rangoon, there are only two Mon publishing places and the publishing houses for Burmese language is mushroomed.   The military intelligence officers always closely watched all activities of those publishing houses, including Mon publishing houses. 

The military intelligence always believed that the ethnic publishing houses could have links to the ethnic armed force and they have concern those publishing houses would print books for armed oppositions and other underground groups in the country.  If they suspected the publishing houses, they closed down and banned all publishing activities.  

 

As an instance,

“In late December 2002, the authorities and military intelligence (MI) suspected one Mon publishing house ‘Kaung Mon’ was publishing a Mon poem book without permission and so they ordered to close down the publishing house and they also arrested the manager of the publishing house, Minn Soe Aung (about 30 years old) and one of his staff.   The publishing house based in Kyauk-ta-dar Township in Rangoon. 

“He is also the General Secretary of Rangoon Mon Literature and Culture Committee and they believed he is involving printing of illegal poem books.  After confiscating the publishing house equipment including computer and photocopier, it was totally banned to not operate.   The publishing house is reliable for the Mon literature activists to print books and even a small invitation documents in Mon language.”  

The SPDC’s oppression against the promotion of Mon literature is systematic and the whole plan is to crack down all activities of Mon organizations in the protection and promotions of their language.   While PSB is banning all Mon publications, at the same time, the military intelligence also closed the Mon publishing house down, where the Mon literature activists made and printed their books, magazines and journals.

The ban of printing of Mon books, magazines and journals is the key plan of SPDC in their implementing their ‘assimilation policy’.  If the Mon people could not get and found the Mon books, magazines and journals, they might not have opportunity to read and learn Mon language.  Therefore, although Mon students learned the Mon language in the dry season literacy training could not get access to books for reading. 

 

Conclusion

Under the rule of the military regime, SPDC, not only the preservation of Mon literature, language and culture are oppressed by the regime, other ethnic nationalities’ literature and language are also oppressed similarly.  

Geographically, the Mon areas are living in the plain areas along the seacoast to where the Burmese people, army and government servants could easily came, the successive military regime could more successfully implement the assimilation policy than the ethnic areas in the mountain tracts. 

Besides banning of the teaching of Mon language and the promotion of Mon literature, the military regime, SPDC, also implement ‘popular transfer’ by bring Burmese people especially the soldiers, civil servants and business people into Mon areas.  First they bring those Burmese soldiers into Mon village and appointed them as village headmen and the leaders of militia force.   Those people are the main supporters for the regime in the implementation of ‘assimilation policy’ or ‘Burmanization policy’.