KAOWAO NEWS NO. 85
An electronic newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma
NEW LEADERS OF NMSP SEEN AS MODERATES
NMSP PRESIDENT NAI HTIN PASSES AWAY
SOUTHERN YE: HORROR, HUMANITY… HOPE?
AGRICULTURE EMPLOYEES GET SACKED BY SPDC
NAI SHWE KYIN'S MEMORIAL LIBRARY OPENS
TWO MPs ARRESTED BY JUNTA
ETHNIC COUNCIL WARNED JUNTA
IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS EBO DIRECTOR
FORGOTTEN HEROINE: BY CHAM TOIK
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On “NMSP President Nai Htin Passes Away”
We are very sad to learn that such an outstanding gentleman has passed away. A great loss to the Mon national movement.
Ashley & Bellay Htoo South
Today I feel the day is much darker because the President
of NMSP, Nai Htin passed away. Even though I knew he was sick, I was shocked by
the news. I know it is a great loss for our
The more I've learned about our great President, the more I
admire and love him. He sacrificed his life and struggled for the
Our great Presidents possess their individual abilities and
inner qualities to be true leaders. They have shown their leadership skills
through their actions. They have paved the way towards the
Our great leaders passed away one after another before they
could achieve their goal of the freedom of the
The Mon movement must go on, and the Mon National Flag will never fall to the ground. If one leader falls, another one must carry the flag. Hongsar Bob Thaw must always be flying gloriously in the air.
To all the late president's families and comrades who were
left behind, please accept my sincere condolences.
Nai Simon (Chit)
On “Forgotten Heroine” by Cham Toik
What a thoughtful and passionate portrayal of your mom. I
was really impressed and would like to meet her.
Thank you very, very much for that, from the bottom of my
Very moving story. Thanks
What an outstanding piece of work. You should put
this in article somewhere. It is really touching.
Reading news and info is quite boring sometimes. It
is a wonderful to read the essay that you share with us which include emotional
mood. Some short stories and feature articles in Kaowao’s
Mon version are also interesting. You should translate it into English.
Mi Chan (BKK,
NEW LEADERS OF NMSP SEEN AS MODERATES
After the death last week of President Nai Htin, the New
Mon State Party will not likely change its position with the Burmese government
despite criticism among members of the Mon movement to challenge the ceasefire
agreement, say Mon political observers.
A Mon politician commented that the Mon general public will
not see any major changes toward the cease fire agreement with the Burmese
regime in the near future after the passing of the NMSP or New Mon State
Party’s president last week. The new acting President, General Htaw Mon is unlikely to challenge the cease-fire agreement and
The Mon politician who spoke on condition of anonymity said
that even though the new leaders Nai Htaw Mon and Nai
Rotsa are honest and committed, they will likely not
develop any new initiatives. The two leaders are considered too moderate
and are not viewed as decision makers within the organization.
Secretary General of NMSP Nai Hongsar
also said that they will not change the party’s policy and its position with
the government sponsored National Convention because of the new leadership.
The party’s decisions are made by collective leadership he confirmed.
Nai Hongsar said the NMSP has
already prepared to replace the leadership before the death of Nai Htin.
Even though the NMSP will hold a congress to elect the new President in the future,
Vice President 1 General Htaw Mon and Vice President
2 Nai Rotsa who have a long experience in the armed
revolution movement for 40 and 35 years respectively will likely be elected
based on seniority.
The body of Nai Htin was brought from
The NMSP was founded by Nai Shwe Kyin
in July 1958 when the Mon Peoples Front (MPF) surrendered to the U Nu’s Parliamentary government claiming to the Mon
supporters that it was an exchange of arms for democracy. The Party
controls some rural areas in
Sangkhalaburi -- The President of
New Mon State Party, Nai Htin passed away on March 14 in
The liaison office of New Mon State Party released the
news that the NMSP President passed away at local time at the
Party’s residence in
According to Nai Aye Mon, a senior leader of the party,
before he died he intensely wished to be buried near the NMSP
Headquarters by his followers and grass root supporters.
He was taken to the capital of
Nai Htin was chosen as President of the New Mon State Party replacing Nai Shwe Kyin who passed away in March 2003 at the same residence. He was well-respected by the majority of the Mon population for his strong commitment for Mon autonomy. Despite his age he was active in the affairs of NMSP, he was known to be loyal and always spoke in a cheerful and positive manner.
Up until the day he took ill, he lived with his
comrades at the NMSP’s jungle Headquarters, BeeRee
The NMSP office said it will elect the new leader in the
next party caucus; however, Vice-President 1 General Htaw
Mon is in charge before the party’s meeting. The funeral service will be
announced to the general public soon.
(By Kun Yekha)
Human rights violations and oppression on villagers in
Southern Ye township continues. Thousands of local villagers have fled their villages
daily to escape direct attacks by the Burmese military. The southern Ye area
has been under the control of the New Mon State Party for years, but since the
signing of the ceasefire agreement in 1995 with the Burmese junta, they are now
facing the worst possible scenario, their political position has weakened and
their people are living in constant hell. In southern Ye
township many villagers live as internally displaced people, scattered
throughout the jungle without medical care, trying to find a safe area to live
for their families.
It is apparent that the Burmese Military troops attempt to
gain some influence and control over the ethnic nationality areas not under
their direct control. These areas are under the stronghold of patriotic rebels
fighting for their rights, for equality and self-determination. Soon after
reaching the cease-fire agreement between the Burmese Military and NMSP,
several groups decided to split from the NMSP and take up arms and continue to
fight for the rights of the Mon. They believed the cease-fire agreement would
not benefit the people, and that it would do nothing to solve the whole
national problem in
We have seen that there has been no progress made on
politics, development, education, health and other issues relevant to the
security of the state and its people. This present situation is the result of
over (50) years of civil war in
The NMSP tolerantly abides by the gentlemen’s agreement. The troops of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) take full advantage of this situation and implement their strategy to suit their interests by using many tactics to appease the people. They have gradually moved into the Mon territory and have taken over thousands of acres in the Mon rural area by forcibly pushing the people off their land. The farmers receive no compensation. Most of this territory had been under the direct control of NMSP. To avoid armed conflict from the ruling government, the NMSP must stand back and let it happen. When troops are deployed into the Mon villages to expel the people from the land, the Burmese troops perpetrate gross human rights violations and then seize thousands of acres of the best farm land for themselves. In many situations good farm land which feeds the people is turned into military battalions.
The reasons for this strategic push into Monland are crude, among others, it is to root out and eliminate the insurgents who have been ambushing Burmese troops. But overall the Burmese main strategy is to influence the Mon people through assimilation called Burmanization. In addition to intimidating the villagers and frightening them into submission another more efficient tactic is to allow the Burmese troops to use sexual violence against Mon women. This represents vividly the ugly nature of ethnic cleansing; this mix-blood policy is their long range missile of Burmanization.
When deploying troops into the Mon area, they bring along
and install many Burmese government civil servants to run offices in the newly
As soon as the Burmese troops arrived in this area, they showed their inner mind and original behaviors - killing innocent villagers, raping Mon girls and women, brutally beating the ordinary farmers and collecting money. It’s a method they’ve used for centuries – burning down the villagers’ houses, using porters and forced labor for their construction works and operations, with arrest, torture and disciplinary punishment meted out to the local Mon people. When villagers are thrown off their land they are left to starve in the jungle, they are shot if they try to go back to their land for food and other necessary items for survival.
The Burmese army uses disciplinary punishment such as beatings and threats to any villagers suspected of having contact with the rebel groups. Nobody knows in reality whether the villagers are involved with the rebels or not, suspicion is enough to invite their wrath. Some villagers may support the rebels while others avoid of having anything to do with either supporting or protesting against the Burmese troops and the splinter armed groups.
The area (free fire zone) is totally ungovernable and the
Burmese soldiers act like a roving band of barbarians. Even an ordinary soldier
can do whatever he wants. They can kill a villager like an animal, they can
rape Mon girls at will, they can burn down the villager’s house if they so
desire, they can seize the farmers properties for themselves on a whim – at any
place, anytime they can do whatever they please. The only escape for the
villagers is to offer money to be left alone. The villagers are rounded
up routinely as force laborers and whenever the Burmese soldier claps his hands
and shouts Porter! They must obey or risk being beaten or shot. The villagers
work all day in the hot sun and work at night providing village security by
patrolling the village perimeter with a group of ten villagers for every night.
“We have no breathing space, we have no choice but to comply with whatever they
tell us,” said Pauk Pin Kwin (Wae
Kwao) a local villager.
As freely as they kill, the Burmese troops commit rape as if they have a license to do it. They say the reason they do this is because they suspect the Mon women and girls of having contact with the rebel groups and so will have to detain them for questioning. Under detention, the women and girls are separately gang raped by the soldiers. After being detained for two nights or a week, they are released only if they are able to pay the money for the bribe. Some Mon girls are forced to entertain their commander by giving massage, dancing and providing sex. The tactical commander Myo Win is the most notorious figure who enjoys his time in Southern Ye area.
The reports on violence committed by the soldiers are tragic to hear and fully demonstrate this whole idea of “crimes against humanity” and the vulnerability of the people at the hands of soldiers. Late last year a young couple was attending a religious event in Kwan Ta Moi, near Hang Gam village. The girl went for a walk around the village with her friends and walked into a group of Burmese soldiers who gang raped the young girl. Nearby her boyfriend heard his girlfriend shouting for help and took off to rescue her only to be shot dead on site.
Along with killing and raping they also loot the villagers’
properties. Late last year, a Yang Ree villager who
Village looting by the Burmese is a common daily
experience. No one can stop the onslaught of it; they act and indeed think as
if they have the power to take anything they want – money, rice, chickens,
ducks, cows, people, and personal property. If you own a car or a motorcycle,
you can be sure you only own half of it. “The Burmese soldiers are used to
getting what they want, they order and shout at people all the time,” recalled
a Changu villager explaining his experience of it,
who recently fled from his own village to find a job in
Another government policy is to convert the Mon national
schools into Burmese state schools. The Burmese army has been forcing the
villagers in Khaw-zar (newly created Township) and
villagers from the nearby villages to build the government high school to
compete against the
The SPDC has built Burmese primary schools in seven Mon villages nearby Khaw-zar area in the southern part of Ye township in 2004 where the Mon National Schools are located. Most SPDC schools are built with forced labor and forced money contribution out of the villagers’ pockets.
In mid 2004, 63 of Mon National Schools in this area were
forced to close down and to convert to the state Burmese Schools run by the
Burmese army. This event happened when the New Mon State Party (NMSP) was at
the National convention demanding for a federal state with ethnic nationality
rights together with (13) other ceased-fire ethnic groups.
Most Mon National Schools are headed by the NMSP Education
Department. This has been the case for over three decades. Now the Burmese Army
commanders say they are going to force Mon school students to attend the newly
built state government school in eight villages included Khaw-zar,
which are competing against the
Villagers are caught in the middle between the guerrilla groups who threaten them not to follow the rules of the Burmese and the Burma Army’s instructions to follow the rules. The threat from both sides has forced the people to flee from the area. Some have fled to a Mon resettlement site as internally displaced person (IDP) and some have risked their lives to escape across the border to Thailand, according to Mon Relief and Development Committee, based in Sangkhalaburi, Thai Burma border. A village headman says some villagers have moved to a religious site in northern Ye township where (they believe) a famous Buddhist monk will be able to give them some protection.
The Burma Army has launched an offensive to wipe out the
Mon armed group and the insurgents in turn use ambush tactics and guerrilla
warfare. I wanted to contribute some information about
How so many thousands of people were brutally killed in
such a short period of time by the Khmer Rouge? Like the Nazis during the
Second World War and the génocidaires in Rwanda in
1994, the Khmer Rouge were meticulous in keeping records of who to kill and
how. Upon visiting the remains of the Khmer Rouge crimes at
Several hundred thousand people were executed by the Khmer
Rouge leadership. The Vietnamese claim three million people had died, while
other experts believe the number closer to one million. In early 1996,
We should learn as much as we can about the past. The next generation of Cambodians and others must try to understand how genocide came about and to try to prevent this from ever happening again. There must be a global effort to stop the suffering of innocent people who are unable to protect themselves from crimes against humanity, the past can be our teacher, and we must put the pieces together from the past to find an answer and bring hope for people.
In Southern Ye horrible actions and discrimination of this kind are happening now. Like the Cambodian people, the Mon people are the lonely victims of crimes against humanity, caught on the battleground of government troops and the rebel armed groups who care nothing about life. These people desperately plead for peace, but are forced to live in hell. After learning about what is happening in Southern Ye, we must draw some conclusions to find an answer. Who is to blame? Who are the victims? How can it be stopped? How should we solve these problems? Is it necessary to go to war or should we resolve it through dialogue? Should we record and document the crimes of the regime and their followers to reveal their guilt in the near future?
There are some leaders from Mon organizations leading the
armed group, the political and national affair sectors, but overall the Mon
movement for self-determination is in danger of fragmenting into pieces. The New
Mon State Party (NMSP), Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF) and oversea
organizations led by Mon Unity League (MUL) should be united in representing
the one voice of the Mon people to fight the injustices, terrorism and human
rights violations committed by the Burmese Army in the Southern Ye.
(Independent Mon News
The State Peace and Development Council dismissed thousands
of employees from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI) according to
a manager of Township Myanmar Agricultural Service (MAS).
The Military government started it dismissal process at the
beginning of February 2005, and dismissed 9600 civil service (3800 employees
from MAS and 5800 from 12 other departments under MAI) said a MAS manager who
had worked in MAS for thirty years.
“MAS can’t manage its programs efficiently such as
agricultural education for farmers, providing fertilizer and pesticides. That’s
why MAS lost 3000 millions Kyat of its investment in this service. Because of
serious financial losses, Senior General Than Shwe
felt the employees in MAS were redundant and dismissed them for
non-performance. He named the employees as ‘extra employees’ and dismissed them
from the department,” said a 60 year old manager.
According to the dismissed manager, “the whole process was
completely unfair.” The skills and experience of the employees are
ignored, however the authorities let their relatives stay,” said Yin Aye, a
“The employees now have to sign in every day in the office
and receive salary from the Township PDC office, but not from their department.
They haven’t received other costs for travel and expenses. The authorities have
cut back the number of employees to 7 from the average of 20-30 employees in
each office”, Ma Yin Aye added.
“The government didn’t issue a clear probation period and
the dismissed employees do not want to take their salary or compensation in the
TPDC office. I think the government was concerned that if they dismissed
government servants en masse, it would be against the labour laws”, said the
Manager who worked in the department in Tenasserim Division,
According to a manager, the mismanagement in the government is not at the level of departmental civil servants, it is at the level of ministerial managers.
“The MAS lost investment in its services because the
Ministry doesn’t conduct a needs assessment survey among the farmers in the
country. They just import these chemicals and fertilizers and try to sell them
to the farmers without any foresight and the farmers in turn do not purchase
these materials,” said the manager. Ministries are administrated by the
army Generals, who have no background knowledge or education in agriculture and
which created this serious problem.
According to the manager, there are 28 agriculture consultants with PhDs from abroad in agriculture studies and 20,000 employees are employed in MAI before the current massive dismissal process.
According to MAS employees, the government removed four
departments under MAI to No. 1 Ministry of Industry. Nonetheless, the SPDC
claims through its controlled media, that there has been economic improvement
in all sectors.
Nai Shwe Kyin’s Memorial Library opened in the capital of
According to Independent Mon News Agency based in the Thai
Burma border, the cease-fire NMSP leaders and about sixty supporters attended
the 2nd memorial ceremony of the late President Nai Shwe Kyin
with the opening of the library in Ngan Tay,
“Nai Shwe Kyin loved reading. Before he died, the President had intended to open this library,” said Nai Than Thut.
The library was completed in January 2005. The librarian says they will seek donations to expand the building and collect more books. “Everyone is welcome to the library. It is open to the public from to Monday to Friday. The NMSP collected 44,000,000 Kyat from the Mon community since October 2003 to foot the bill.
The police agents went to U Kyaw Min’s
house at around and told him to follow them for some questioning and then was
taken away by car.
U Kyaw Min, 55, is an ethnic Rohingya
who is the elected representative (MP) of No.1 Constituency of Buthidaung township, Arakan
State, and a member of National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPH),
led by ethnic Rohingya people. He is also a member of
Committee for Representing People’s Parliament (CRPP), he further added.
According to his colleagues, he did not have any
significant political activities expect being the member of CRPP.
U Kyaw Hsan, 73, is also an
elected MP, Sagaing Division NLD Chairman and retired
Lieutenant Colonel and who has been detained several times since he was elected
in a 1990 election.
Both of their relatives didn’t know the whereabouts of the
MPs and the reason for their arrest.
After the sacking of the Prime Minister and military
intelligence chief General Khin Nyunt in October last year, the SPDC has
released more than 14,000 prisoners in which only around 80 of these have been
However, the releases have also coincided with the arrest of several prominent Shan ethnic minority leaders, NLD members, CRPP members and democracy activists, dampening hopes that Rangoon’s isolated generals are considering abandoning their seize on power.
On the other hand, some of the Burmese student activists
such as Ko Min Ko
Naing, Ko Saw Min, and Ko Ko Gyi
were set free.
The Ethnic Nationalities Council, or ENC, a Burmese
opposition group based in
ENC released a statement after concluding a two day meeting
in Kawthoolei, Karen National Union control area near
Thai-Burma border. During the meeting, ENC members, advisor and Ethnic
Nationalities Solidarity and Coordination Committee, or ENSCC, members
discussed the current political situation in
The ENC said that if the government did not follow their
suggestions, they would strongly oppose the junta’s new constitution. The
current National Convention is establishing guidelines through which to draft a
new constitution. The ENC said that if the SPDC did not accommodate their
suggestions towards finding a political solution, they would hold the SPDC
responsible for all consequences including the resumption of hostilities.
At the National Convention, the junta dismissed a proposal,
which suggested power sharing between the ethnic states and the central
government, submitted jointly by 13 ethnic ceasefire groups. The ENC urged the
junta to allow ethnic ceasefire groups to freely organize and participate in
the constitution drafting process. Just before the National Convention
reconvened on February 17, several ethnic leaders, including chairman of Shan
Nationalities League for Democracy Hkun Htun Oo, were arrested for unknown reasons. This suggests
that the junta is not interested in allowing the full participation by the
ethnic groups in the political process.
The ENC does not believe the SPDC’s claim that the current
National Convention will lead to a democratic
ENC urged the junta to allow the international community,
especially ASEAN, to observe the National Convention, the proposed referendum
for the new constitution, and the projected general elections under the new
The Ethnic Nationalities Council is committed to finding a
political solution to
The ENSCC, established in 2001, proposed an ethnic version
IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS EBO DIRECTOR
The Minister for Foreign Affairs met for the first time
with the Director of the European Office for the Development of Democracy in
The forthcoming EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting, to be held in
Jakarta from 10-11 March 2005, where the Irish Government will be making clear
its position to the representatives of the Burmese regime, and the impact of
the tsunami on Burma were also in the agenda.
Cited from the Press Section of Ireland’s Mission of
Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D, said:
“I am very pleased to have had this opportunity to meet with Mr. Yawnghwe, a
committed and long standing advocate of democracy in
The Minister's meeting with Mr. Harn
Yangwhe is part of a regular dialogue between the
Department of Foreign Affairs and the key NGOs concerned with the situation in
Mr. Yawnghwe is the youngest son of Sao Shwe Thaike, the last ruler of Yawnghwe, who became the first
(By Cham Toik)
When I think of her, I first remember a soft and sweet
voice trying to wake me up. Her daily routine began at in the morning, the same time as BBS
(Burma Broadcasting Service) started their morning radio program. Being
the only son of a successful businessman in the community, I was a spoilt and
lazy boy in primary school in
She attuned herself to my small sorrows too. I remember, I was named “Mr. Radio” by our neighbor, Nai Ein, because when my father traveled for trading and could
not come home on the lonely monsoon nights, I constantly cried like Thachin Gyi (a long classical
Burmese song); then, she always comforted me.
Everybody in our community acknowledged that she was a hard- working woman. With the energy of an automaton, she woke up early in the morning, cleaned our house and store, put every thing in order and cooked breakfast and lunch for all of us. While waiting for customers, she never let the time pass idly, but did something else; for instance, cutting betel nuts or organizing other things for our family and the grocery store. And when she was not inside the house, we always saw her working in the garden, watering the plants or feeding the pets.
In high school, when I returned home to
Being raised as a typical Mon national in Ye, southern
I still remember the night when some robbers intruded into our house. A gang of armed men banged their guns and slammed the door, announcing their entry like unexpected night shoppers in our unguarded store. Like a rat that heedlessly runs from a cat at random, our father jumped out of the house, leaving me and my younger sister behind. But our mother, the captain of a hundred armies, firmly remained strong for us and talked to the robbers, asking them not to endanger our lives. The gang only took the money from our business and left us safe on that cold winter night.
When our father left us; my sisters and I were raised by a
strong, committed single woman – our mother. Incredibly, she never blamed
others, but always supported us with a good income, keeping our family abreast
of others. Apart from managing all the business, she normally changed our
clothes, combed our hair and gave us a shower almost every day. Our
neighbors said she was always ready to help others in need and eager to keep
our surroundings clean. She was Visakha, the
lady in the legend who always showed generosity and never hesitated to donate
(give Dhana) to the poor, the temples and other
social agencies, as she enjoyed tirelessly volunteering in the village’s
various community development programs.
In my travels away from her, I have encountered many
difficulties and struggles. While a dissident student leader, a guerrilla
(freedom fighter) of the New Mon State Party in the jungle, an activist and a
community leader, I easily learned how to face terrible dangers bravely, stay
calm and solve the problem without emotion. I often met coarse and rude
people -people who tried to destroy my goals, who threatened my security and
who abused my rights. Yet I could adjust to the circumstances, control myself,
and react appropriately. Some people say this is a priceless
characteristic and spirit, which I have inherited from her.
While I studied at
Now we are thousands of miles apart; but the good
traditions I reluctantly learned in my childhood have become a protocol for me
to be a responsible human being. I have gradually improved and enjoyed my
life as the person I am, but I also realize that my present position could not
have been achieved without the ideals I learned from my mother. Like
other mothers in this world, her important role is not well- recognized, but is
instead frequently forgotten. Just as it is true that without a
mother, a general cannot be born, nor can a leader exist, I would not be myself
without her. She stands as a symbol of courage, passion and commitment,
and deserves to be honored on this day and all others.
Dedicated to all women on this International Women’s
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