Letters to the Editor — November, 2010
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Letters to the Editor — November, 2010


By THE IRRAWADDY Monday, November 1, 2010


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(Page 10 of 17)

Pe Than Maung


The Irrawaddy’s Burman Bias

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL: http://www2.irrawaddy.com/article.php?art_id=15080]:

The Irrawaddy—both in printed and electronic magazines—has been considered one of the best of the Burmese publications, both by the people of Burma and the international community. But reading the above article we have some reservations, not only for its journalistic ethics but also of the magazine’s mission. It chooses to highlight only a fraction of the true story where it narrows in on the heroism and sacrifices of the Burman, even though mention was made [about the Chin]: “The most decisive role in defending Insein was played by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Chin Rifles, fighting on what is regarded as the most strategic battle front of all.”

It would be ridiculous to level the famed and honorable magazine, as harboring the “Mahar Bamar” attitude—even though it is dominated by Burmans and “farang” [Westerners]—when it mentioned that “Tun Tin noted that soldiers from different regions of Burma such as Kayah, Kachin and Gurkha helped to defend Rangoon.” But the fact that most of the ethnic nationalities armies rally behind the Burmese army is because they loved and believed in “Pyidaungsu” (the Union of Burma), the alternative being Communism or one major ethnic group lording over it.

Ethnic nationalities still cherished the dream of Bogyoke Aung San who initiated the union spirit. The supreme sacrifices made by the Chin and the Kachin soldiers that fought tooth and nail in the Battle of Insein was so intense that U Nu’s daughter, who fell in with a young Chin captain, was promised marriage if Rangoon was saved, even though the promise was never kept.

Now all the ethnic armies are fighting against the Myanmar [Burman]-dominated tatmadaw [Burmese army]. Why? It was rather paradoxical to witness that the KNU was been belittled at its 60th anniversary. Instead we should concentrate on a Federal Democratic Union of Burma, where all the ethnic nationalities, including the Karen, have consented to live within the union since the 1970s. It would be more beneficial if one of The Irrawaddy`s aims would be to close the gap between the ethnics and the pro-democracy fighters.

Kanbawza win


Hmawbi Air force Base?

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL: http://www2.irrawaddy.com/article.php?art_id=15080]:

When I first studied Burmese in 1957, near Tharawaddy, I remember passing a Burma Air Force base at Hmawbi, only 20 miles north of Insein. Did it not exist in 1949 or were the Karen forces closer in?

Keith Dahlberg


60 Years on—An Eyewitness Account of Insein

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL: http://www2.irrawaddy.com/article.php?art_id=15080]:

Thank you for this interesting article on the Battle of Insein. You may have inadvertently left out a very important event which occurred between February 9 to 13, 1949, which had a direct bearing on the outcome of the battle and perhaps changed the course of history. As a participant of this little-known, long-forgotten episode which I would like to name “The Ambush at Wetkaw,” may I add a few words of my own?

On February 1, 1949, Gen Ne Win took over from Karen Gen Smith Dun who went on leave. The Karens at Insein, believing that time was not on their side, and aware that the well experienced 5th Burma Rifles stationed in Arakan was being airlifted, asked their Second Karen Rifles, the best equipped battalion of our army at that time, stationed at Prome by the government, to rush down and help them at Insein.

This full-strength battalion of over 1,000 professional soldiers rushed down Prome highway in 120 vehicles, spearheaded by an armored carrier and supported by two six-pounder artillery pieces, eight three-inch mortars manned by Gurkha specialists, and with enough ammunition for a brigade to help and rescue their besieged brothers at Insein. They reached Zigon on February 8.

At that time, Brig Kyaw Zaw had not taken charge of our forces. There were no regular government troops to stand up against this elite, battle-hardened Karen battalion. Our only regular troops nearest to Yangon [Rangoon] was the 3rd Burma Rifles, which were stationed at Maubin, Pyapon and Dedaye. And, I should say, half a battalion strength was left, commanded by then Major Chit Myaing as the new Commanding Officer, after the [former] CO, Colonel Ye Htut, had gone underground with half his men to join the Communists.



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