The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]
Letters to the Editor — September, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011

(To send letters, comments or suggestions on news coverage)
[email protected]

Attacking Academic Freedom or Legitimate Scrutiny?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dear Irrawaddy,

The remarkable vitriolic and personalized article by Mr. Mark Farmaner of Burma Campaign, UK ("Attacking Academic Freedom or Legitimate Scrutiny" 9-15-2011), which attacks me and obliquely Mr. Ashley South, demonstrates more eloquently than ever I could that indeed there are bullies on both sides of the Thai-Burma border (Steinberg-Asia Times, "Bullies across Borders").  By vilifying through personal innuendo legitimate policy  disputes, referring to critics of some of the policies of the establishment to which Mr. Farmaner is associated as sycophants of the Burmese military (he obviously has not read what I have written), bringing in Lenin (wow!), and then charging that  we "have been directly paid for our work,"  he has crossed the line of legitimate disagreement and civility, and will cause many thoughtful people to question the democratic goals of his organization.  By stating that I have been paid for my writing on Burma, either by the regime in Naypyidaw, as he implies, or even by Georgetown University, is libelous.

The liberal use of scurrilous adjectives both by Mr. Farmaner, and earlier by Mr. Mathieson of Human Rights Watch Asia, are antithetical to the admirable goals they seek and undercut their very objectives.  Democracy calls for civility in debate, and as these gentlemen have amply illustrated,  it has been gravely lacking.
David Steinberg

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Irrawaddy,

I would like to respond to Naw Htoo Paw's article "Karen Struggle Divides Opinion as Refugees Fight Deportation", an earlier version of which was published in 'The Nation'. The original article included a response from myself, which is not reproduced in the Irrawaddy article.

My report, 'Burma's Longest War: anatomy of the Karen conflict' ( describes the KNU a key actor, but only one among several organisations seeking to represent the Karen community. This analysis might be perceived as threatening to some. However, I have had positive feedback on the report from a wide range of Karen people. These include KNU officials who have privately stated that my analysis is accurate and that, if the KNU is to avoid further marginalisation, it needs to address the issues I have raised.

Over the past 20 years, I have travelled extensively in Karen lands and worked with different Karen organisations, including KNU departments and personnel. However, I have never made any direct payments to the Karen National Liberation Army - and certainly not for security. Although I am currently based in the UK, I have visited Burma eight times this year, including several trips to Karen areas.

I am concerned that Naw Htoo Paw's article is part of a campaign to silence alternative viewpoints regarding Burma. This attack on myself was followed on Tuesday by an article in Asia Times online, personally criticising the Burma scholar David Steinberg. These two articles represent an ugly (although not entirely new) development. Exiled political activists and their supporters are denigrating independent researchers who dare to challenge orthodox views and long-held assumptions regarding the political situation in Burma. Given the dynamic and fast-changing situation in the country, it is important that a wide range of views are expressed and discussed. Of course, a vibrant debate between different viewpoints is necessary, and indeed healthy. However, I would like to make a plea that commentators focus on substantial issues, rather than descending into personal insults.

Sincerely, Ashley South

Saturday, June 28, 2011

Subject: Request for the correction regarding PARKROYAL Yangon from online article on 14th June 2011 “ As Dollar Falls, FECs Plummet”.

To The Editor

I as Marketing & Communications Manager of PARKROYAL Yangon here by confirm that PARKROYAL Yangon is still accepting both FEC and USD. We have never announced that we stop accepting FEC.

Thiri Kyar Nyo  | Marketing & Comunications Manager | Hotel Offer | Dining Options  |
PARKROYAL Yangon, Myanmar
33 Alan Pya Phaya Road, Dagon Township, Yangon, Myanmar.                               
T: 95 1 250 388 | F: 95 1 252 478 | [email protected]              
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Thursday, November 30, 2010

ProPublica Doco—A Hatchet Job 

Dear Editor,

Regarding recent articles concerning North Korean nuclear technology, Burma's alleged nuclear program and the recent ProPublica documentary dismissing as “inconclusive” the views expressed by DVB and Dr. Robert E. Kelley.

Related articles:Nuclear Confusion”;  "Nuclear Matter"; I was interviewed for the ProPublica documentary as well. They didn't use
any of the footage, but they did show an image of my first article about
the SPDC's nuclear program, from 2006.

I believe the reason they didn't use my footage is that they changed the
story, from a detailed investigation of the available intelligence about
the program, to a systematic attempt to discredit Bob Kelley and Sai Thein
Win. I suspect this was done for a number reasons. They didn't want to
publish Dictator Watch's claims, even our hard documentation - the Russia
student lists and the Kyaukkyi map and layout, because I was not willing
to reveal my sources. Similarly, they didn't use their own sources. The
only source they used was Sai Thein Win, because he was identified and on

Another part is that it was easier. It would have been tricky to
consolidate Sai Thein Win's intelligence, Dictator Watch's, and the info
from their own sources. So, Pulitzer winning history or not, ProPublica
did what many journalists do. They opted for something that was more
straightforward, even if it was both superficial and misleading.

Finally, PBS is big American media. The documentary featured Hillary
Clinton, Jim Webb, and others. They couldn't have used them if they
concentrated on a detailed investigation of the SPDC's program - there
wouldn't have been enough time. So, the story changed…

The ProPublica journalist even took the CIA at its word. The hypocrisy is
breathtaking. They criticized NED (DVB's funder) for supposedly being a
CIA successor, while giving credence to the Agency's Burma claim that the
program is not for weapons (no actual source at the Agency is named, by
the way), not to mention that it was U.S. intel which lied for President
Bush. If the CIA is so convinced that the SPDC does not have a nuclear
weapons program, why did the U.S. follow the Kang Nam 1, block the North
Korean flight from Burma to Iran, and why won't it publish the JADE Act

The documentary was designed to appear objective, but it was really
nothing more than a hatchet job.

Roland Watson
Dictator Watch

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suu Kyi: A Hero of Our Time

What's noteworthy about the 6 issues that Aung San Suu Kyi should deal with is that they're all political in nature.

Beyond embracing democratic reforms, Burma needs to jump start its economy—which needless to say, is a total disaster. The military junta's obsession with staying in power at all costs has all but destroyed the economy—and just about everything else as well (except the hope that Aung San Suu Kyi has provided).

The military's obsession with staying in power has blinded them to the rapid economic growth among their South Asian neighbors—along with that of China. When democratic reforms take hold in Burma, the next step is to improve its economy. The Burmese people deserve nothing less.

Despite the injustice that this brave and courageous woman has suffered for the past 20 years, her tireless pursuit of democracy for Burma is nothing short of amazing.

In an age where merely being famous makes you a hero, Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the few genuine heroes of our time—and perhaps of all time.
Stephen V. Gilmore

Thursday, November 04, 2010
In response to the Ambassador's Letter

Thank you for your response to our editorial, “Burma Betrayed?”.

The Irrawaddy has no wish to continue a public debate on the matter of funding from the Danish Embassy.

The debate was made public however prior to The Irrawaddy publication - via a leaked copy of the email from the Danish Embassy, appearing on a blog-site of the Burmese regime (see link:  The military's mouthpiece the New Light of Myanmar, subsequently exploited the misinformation and allegations from the Danish Embassy in order to discredit The Irrawaddy publication.

In this context The Irrawaddy was forced to respond publicly to the allegations in the Embassy email (see link:

Our public response led to feedback from other Danish funded Burmese organisations whose concerns were outlined in the editorial Burma Betrayed? (see link:  It also led to a report on the incident in the Danish press (see link: )

The Irrawaddy hereby stands by our response to this unfortunate issue. To end the matter however we would note that the Ambassador appears to have missed the main point of our concern and has failed to address the issues raised in our letter and editorial.

The Irrawaddy was not ‘dissatisfied’ as stated in the Ambassadors letter, because of the decision not to include us in the Danish 2011 project portfolio. Rather we were astonished to learn of the underhanded process of distributing an inaccurate and accusatory email to a number of our donors - prior to our annual donor meeting - without our knowledge or capacity to respond.

Should this email have been forwarded via private communication to The Irrawaddy with an option for reply or resolution, all parties would have benefited. We hope to see more professional communication from the Embassy – both in private and public – in the future.

Thank you.
The Irrawaddy

Monday, November 04, 2010
Danish Ambassador Responds to “Burma Betrayed?”

With reference to your editorial “Burma Betrayed?” published online Oct. 19th, the Danish Embassy in Bangkok would like to offer some clarifications regarding a number of apparent misunderstandings concerning the Danish support to the Burmese people in general and to The Irrawaddy in specific:

First and foremost, there should be no doubt that Denmark has politically as well financially supported the people(s) of Burma in the face of both military repression and natural disaster for more than two decades—and will continue to do so.

Denmark remains strongly committed to promoting a process towards democracy and national reconciliation in Burma. In solidarity with the Burmese people, Denmark has repeatedly stated its deep concerns about the perpetual severe human rights violations taking place in Burma. Regarding the elections scheduled for November 7th, we have continually called for free, fair and inclusive elections as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We are deeply concerned that the government has not taken the necessary steps to this end and will continue to engage closely with other international partners, including Burma’s neighbours, to promote a democratic and peaceful solution to the benefit of all the people of Burma.   

Danish assistance to Burma has seen a steady increase over the past years both in terms of financial resources allocated, the number of projects supported and the number of beneficiaries reached. We are in 2010 disbursing more than US $10 million for a range of more than 25 projects run by almost as many partners. The Danish assistance is targeted at Burmese people inside as well as outside Burma, including refugees and migrants. And the assistance is varied in scope encompassing both social sectors such as health and education, livelihood support to people and communities struggling to maintain a life in dignity and decency as well as support to activists, academics, journalists and others who—from both inside and outside Burma—strive to promote democracy, human rights and national reconciliation.

Add to the above the humanitarian assistance provided in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, where Denmark provided assistance for a total worth of approximately US $14 million, placing Denmark, a small country of just over 5 million people, amongst the most prominent humanitarian donors at the time.

Turning specifically to Danish support to The Irrawaddy, it serves to mention that total Danish governmental support to The Irrawaddy over the past 6-7 years has come to a total of some US $650,000.  

While recognizing your right to disagree with the Danish decision not to enter into a new agreement with The Irrawaddy for 2011, allow me to outline the reasons behind: First, the clear focus of Danish support to The Irrawaddy over the past three years has been on assisting The Irrawaddy working towards increased—not full, but increased—financial self-sustainability rather than continuing to rely almost completely on donor funding. Second, during this time The Irrawaddy has not in our view effectively delivered on agreed targets nor convincingly demonstrated a clear commitment towards that end. It is these two observations—combined with a need to prioritize between an increasing number of project proposals and potential partners—that have led the Embassy to the conclusion that in 2011 we are not able to contribute to the process of helping The Irrawaddy increase its financial sustainability, a process to which we have dedicated considerable resources over the years.

The Embassy’s concerns have been discussed with The Irrawaddy on several occasions, and in a meeting on September 22nd The Irrawaddy was informed of our conclusion concerning funding for 2011. The Embassy subsequently informed other donors as part of the natural and ongoing information exchange and coordination that takes place between donors supporting the same organization in order to enhance transparency, aid effectiveness and cost-efficiency.

In your editorial, you also mention another organization, which has received funding from the Government of Denmark, namely the Danish Burma Committee.

While I, as a matter of principle, do not wish to make detailed comments on matters that are unrelated to Danish support to The Irrawaddy, I would like to underline that any project partner of the Danish Government commits itself to upholding certain principles and following certain guidelines for the management, supervision and auditing of its activities and expenditures, including those of its project partners. I can confirm that there are ongoing investigations as to whether the Danish Burma Committee has lived up to its obligations in this regard. As a consequence, further funding to the Danish Burma Committee cannot be considered until the matter is resolved. It is unfortunate that this situation also affects other project partners of the Danish Burma Committee. It is a matter that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively is looking to resolve.

It is obvious that you are dissatisfied with the Danish Embassy’s decision to not include The Irrawaddy in our project portfolio for 2011; a decision that could of course be subject to renewed consideration should The Irrawaddy in the future show needed progress on and demonstrate commitment towards pursuing agreed targets.

I would have preferred to continue the close dialogue between The Irrawaddy and the Embassy rather than enter into a public debate on the nature and details of contractual agreements between our two organizations, but I sincerely hope that I with this letter have brought some clarity to the apparent misunderstandings in your accounts regarding the Danish support to Burma in general and The Irrawaddy in specific.

Michael Sternberg,

Related Link: “Burma Betrayed?” [Oct. 19,

Thursday, October 20, 2010
Lets Our Sister Walk Free

This message is coming through me in a moment of possibility for us as human beings.  October 13, 2010 is a month before November 13, 2010 when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is legally due to be released after 15 years of house arrest.

I speak as a daughter of the earth, as a daughter of South East Asia, as a daughter of Malaysia, as a daughter of Borneo, and as a daughter of my father.  This land has seen so much loss over the past century, losses that we carry deep within our bones.  Losses of fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, husbands, brothers, sons, grandsons.  Losses which until today tug at our hearts, pulling us apart from ourselves, our families, our communities, our planet.  My mother lost her father and grandfather to war, my grandmother lost her husband and father to war, my great grandmother lost her husband to war.  This story is not unique to my family.  The women rose to head and protect their homes and communities -- I am both humbled and proud to descend from this lineage of women.

Aung San Suu Kyi lost her father who led Burma's independence movement and was assassinated when she was two.  Her mother stepped up and also offered her life in service of the people of Burma.  Suu Kyi continued their legacy and led the National League for Democracy to a landslide victory, but was never allowed to fulfill her role as the elected leader of Burma; the Burmese junta had placed her under house arrest even as she was campaigning and she has spent 15 of the last 21 years in detention.  She could not see her husband when he was dying of cancer— he was not allowed into Burma and had she left (something the junta did allow), she would not have been allowed back in.  She also has two sons.

As a woman and a mother, standing in our shared history, and leading in my community for a more just and balanced world of co-existence, my heart connects to hers in kindredness.  Her loss is my loss, her pain is my pain, her family is my family, her people are my people.  I cannot feel free if my sister is not.  I am not free if she is not.

I ask the junta, I ask those who can hear, I ask those who can influence—please open your hearts to all that we (you and I and she) have lost, that within the earth we unite no matter our flag, that the pain and sorrow in our legacies are one, and that forgiveness and healing is calling to us.  No more losses from war.  No more losses at each other's hands.  Please.  Please. Our hearts break just as our Mother's heart breaks.  We need our men home, we need our families whole, we need our communities together, we need our nations connected, we need oneness.  Or all is lost.

To my fellow earth citizens, if we focus our energy and our intention on this possibility over  the next month—of justice, of truth, of healing, of freedom—I know our daughter-sister-mother Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will walk on ... free on November 13, 2010.

For the earth,
Cynthia Clare ong Gaik Suan
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
NLD (LA) Have Clean Hands

I write in reference to your article dated Saturday, 02 October 2010, “UNHCR Affiliates Accused of Refugee Corruption” in which it was alleged that NLD (LA) Malaysia is “cheating money out of people who want refugee registration”.

For the past several months NLD(LA) Malaysia has been collecting names and basic information of members who are in need of protection and cannot return to Burma. This process has involved traveling to various states in Malaysia in order to collect biographical information, which is then passed on to UNHCR for registration purposes. This process has involved traveling over 480 Kms to four states in Malaysia in order to ensure that our members’ information is shared with UNHCR. All of this has been done using our membership funds, as well as personal funds of individual members working on a voluntary basis with NLD(LA). The traveling and communication costs involved in this process were therefore absorbed either personally by members of NLD(LA), or through our membership fees.

The person interviewed for the article also alleges that he paid a membership fee of 60 Malaysian Ringits per month to the organization in the hopes of getting registered for resettlement and was overlooked for others who had paid more money. In this regard it is important to note two points: First, registration was not at all for resettlement purposes, but rather for initial registration of refugee status determination by UNHCR.-- It has therefore nothing to do with resettlement; Second, NLD (LA)’s membership fee consists of a 50 Ringit initial membership fee and a subsequent 10 Ringits per month. These fees are used not only for registering refugees with UNHCR, but also for all our activities, which include programs for migrants and refugees, and which are used for advocacy purposes and forwarding the cause of justice and democracy in Burma.

The person interviewed in the article states that he registered with NLD (LA) in the hopes of getting registered with UNHCR. From his statement, it appears that the person in question is not committed to the goals of NLD (LA) and/or struggling for justice and democracy in Burma, but is rather selfishly concerned with his own individual needs. The only people being cheated  are not those who wish to be registered as refugees, but the NLD(LA) itself and the people of Burma who continue to struggle for justice with no help from the person interviewed for this article and others like him.  

—Kyaw Moe
NLD (LA) Malaysia

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
EU Ambassador Responds

Dear Sir,

There are a number of factual errors on your editorial of 20 July entitled “The Trouble with the EU and EC.”

Firstly, the EU high-level exploratory mission to Burma/Myanmar which was announced in the Conclusion of the Foreign Affairs Council dated 26 April ( has not been cancelled. The EU remains committed to continuing dialogue with the authorities of Burma/Myanmar and all other relevant stakeholders with the aim of helping the internal political process to develop in a positive manner.

You state in your editorial that missions undertaken by Piero Fassino , the EU’s Special Envoy on Burma have “failed miserably”. It may be worth recalling that the Special Envoy, a highly-respected MP and former Italian Minister of Justice, has undertaken numerous successful visits to Burma/Myanmar’s neighboring countries to ensure their support for the EU’s main aim: a positive political transition in the country. For a detailed overview of Mr. Fassino’s activities I invite you to consult his latest report which can be found at In addition to his numerous travels to the region, Mr. Fassino has also contributed substantively to countless high-level policy discussions on Burma/Myanmar at the European and global level.

Your assertion that “Fassino is known to have little knowledge of Burma and its political situation” is therefore totally erroneous, as much as your assertion that “Recent requests by Fassino to visit Burma have been rejected by the junta, however, while missions he was able to undertake in the past failed miserably”. In fact, EUSE Fassino has never visited Burma/Myanmar and the junta has not rejected any request to visit the country.

Your editorial goes on to state that “EU common policy is to maintain or increase sanctions against the regime”. This is a gross oversimplification of our policy. As the Conclusion of the Foreign Affairs Council dated 26 April ( state, “the Council underlines its readiness to revise, amend or reinforce the measure it has already adopted in light of developments on the ground. The EU stands ready to respond positively to genuine progress in Burma/Myanmar.”

You further point out that the EU could increase pressure on the Burmese authorities “if necessary, including imposing an arms embargo on Burma”. I am sure you will be pleased to learn that an embargo on arms, munitions and military equipment has in fact been in place since the EU Common Position was initially adopted in 1996 (Common Position 96/635/CFSP).

You also wrongly accuse the EU of following a policy of “cutting funding for refugees on the Thai-Burmese border.” Since 1994, the European Commission has spent more than 140 million EUR for Burmese refugees on Thailand. Annual allocations have in fact seen a continuous increase over the year. In addition to this substantial financial commitment, the EU as the biggest donor to the camps has been instrumental in establishing, together with other donors, a policy dialogue with the Royal Thai Government to explore jointly how sustainable livelihoods for the refugees can be found, thus improving their lives.

You also make reference to the latest report of UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojeo Quintana, and claim the EU has remained “silent” on this issue. This ignores yet again the Conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council dated 26 April which state that “the Council welcomes the adoption of Resolution 13/25 of the UN Human Rights Council, and endorses the Progress report by the UN special Rapporteur, Mr. Quintana. It calls upon the authorities of Burma/Myanmar to cooperate with him in a constructive manner and comply in full with the UN’s recommendations, by taking urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human right and humanitarian law.”

In addition, the EU has on countless occasions expressed its critical views about the absence of tangible progress with regard to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Contacts with the Burmese government- in the framework of the ASEAM process and of EU-ASEAM meetings- are regularly used to raise the Union’s concerns.

Lastly, as regards your speculation of divisions in opinion among EU Member states as to what the EU’s policy on Burma/Myanmar should be, I would like to assure you that relations with Burma/Myanmar continue to be framed by the EU Decision (see which is fully supported and vigilantly implemented by all 27 EU Member states and the European Commission with a view to bringing about a peaceful transition to a democratic, civilian and inclusive system of government. In this regard, let me add that EUSE Fassino’s activities and contacts with both regional stakeholders and the Burma/Myanmar military authorities are fully in line with the objectives and goals of the EU Decision as outlined above.
The Head of Delegation

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dear Editor,

Regarding the online article, “Burma, the Opposition and Economic Development” [February 20, 2009;]:

As a Burmese professor in a foreign university abroad, I am outraged by the stupidity of Steinberg's attack on the NLD and the dignity of Burmese civilization and the army as a whole.

Do you, with your wits and foresight, notice this is the same sort of racist offense to colonize and kill Burmese heroes from the 1820s to 1948, till General Aung San gave us freedom from the whites. Read “Orientalism” by Said, you will see how these systematized attacks to belittle the dignity and uniqueness of Eastern thought and peoples (Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine) are committed by racist and prejudiced intellectuals in rich nations who care so little about Burmese people, the NLD or the reputation of the Burmese as a whole, globally.
The NLD, and even the military are great, dignified systems poor Burma has left to reconstruct after British colonization, Fascism, Ne Win's dictatorship and the chaos of the generals.  Please read the book by Professor Thant Myint Oo and you will see how frightening the colonizers' attempts were to destroy the national reputation (negative PR) of Burma.
It is a shame your paper publishes bigots like Steinberg. Please accept my sincere protest to take down his article, which is mere rubbish to attack Burma/Burmese institutions (NLD, military, community leaders).
Kyaw S Win

Friday, February 13, 2009

Scapegoats in Chiang Mai

Regarding the article, “Student’s Murder Leads to Migrant Roundup” [February 12, 2009; URL:]:

This does indeed look like a hunt for scapegoats. Is there any evidence the crime was committed by a Burmese migrant? Did the students who complained to the police say why they wanted a crackdown on the presence of Burmese near their university? The Thai call the Shan the "Tai Yai" and feel much more tolerantly toward them because they regard them as ethnically related, than they do to ethnic Burmans, for whom they harbor a deep distrust, possibly due to all the historical dramas on Thai TV and in the movies showing the Burmese as war-mongering invaders.


How ‘Fair and Soft’ is Ye Myint Aung?

Regarding the article, “Troop Movements Reported Along Bangladesh-Burma Border” [February 11, 2009;]:

I wonder how Ye Myin Aung tarnishes the image of Burma by his racist remark. There are many “pure Burmese,” particularly those from upper Burma have dark brown complexions. I guess Mr Aung must be a Chinese or a Chinese descendent as he claims to be white and being posted to Honk Kong. I think he must also be a gay as he claimed that he is “fair and soft.”


Chiang Mai Tragedy

Regarding the Article, “Student’s Murder Leads to Migrant Roundup” [February 12, 2009; URL:]:

The rape and murder of a Thai university student was a tragic thing. The persecution of an entire community of migrant workers, because of the actions of two evil members of that group is almost as tragic.

Bernice Johnson

Little Time Left for UN

Regarding the article, “Gambari Had ‘Good Discussion’ in Burma: Ban” [February 11, 2009; URL:]:

Well, Mr Secretary-General, do not get me wrong. I really appreciate what you and Mr Gambari are doing for Burma. We really thank you all for that. However, I do not think that you have much time left. The Burmese military government's planned 2010 election is getting closer. I do not think it is necessary to explain who will win that election. The military government will not give up power so easily and the generals will do everything to get the result that favors them. I can bet my life on that.

Sometimes it makes me wonder whether the UN Secretary-General has really read the new constitution of Myanmar [Burma] carefully or not. It is rubbish. Everyone can see that, but Mr Gambari seems to put his trust on the military government's so-called road map—whatever that means. We in Burma are losing hope as year 2010 is getting closer. Now the SPDC government is not a legitimate government, but if everyone lets them win the 2010 election, they will become legitimate. Everything in Burma is in bad shape these days but it will get worse if they win. We really want to change the way it is now, but as you can all see—we are leaderless. All the people who can lead the fight for us are in prison. In my opinion, the UN must concentrate on the military government releasing all the political prisoners immediately. We do not have much time left. What are you waiting for?

Myat Minn

Questioning Tai Roots

Regarding the book review, “A Sweeping Survey of the Shan” [January 30, 2009; URL:

I am a little uncomfortable with the uncorroborated perpetuation of the following opinions which are presented as fact time and time again on the Internet: first, the assertion that the terms Shan and Siam are from the same root; second, that Nan Zhao was a Shan empire. Both of these are modern myths based on limited evidence and maintained predominantly by Tai nationalists, but also by their fervent international supporters. The first idea is perpetuated to somehow connect all Tais without current autonomy to the most successful "Tai" nation state, which ironically is the least culturally, linguistically or genetically Tai and whose epicenter is the farthest away from the proposed original Tai homelands in southeastern China.

The second idea of a Tai empire prior to the second millennium CE in Yunnan is now largely discredited by Chinese historians who generally accept that Nan Zhao was a complex multi-ethnic polity with the Yi ethnic group forming the governing elite. Whereas giving young Shans some ethnocentric pride is generally to be lauded given the current oppression of ethnic culture within Burma I have concerns that the continued perpetuation of uncorroborated or discredited ideas is in the long term harmful rather than helpful. This is not dissimilar to Afro-centric so-called academics claiming African involvement in the building of Angkor or the establishment of the Yellow River civilization.

Zaw Aung Zeya

Aung San was No Hero

Regarding the article, “Young Dissidents Remember Aung San” [February 12, 2009; URL:]:

Who says Aung San is the hero of Burma, with his 33 men who were trained in Japan to fight the war? Rubbish! All Burmese people took part in fighting the Japanese. Ne Win followed Aung San’s path. Aung San is the main villain of Burma.

Tun Win

Karen Discarded

Regarding the article, “The Karen Old Soldiers that Britain Forgot” [February 12, 2009; URL:]:

The Karen were only faithful to their British masters in the past. Now they know that their masters only use them and leave them like dirty clothes. If they were faithful to Burma, they would not see this day in life. Long live Burma.

tun win

Keep Strong, Kyaw Thu!

Regarding the article, “Who is Kyaw Thu?” [February 10, 2009;

Kyaw Thu: you can still play an important role. Keep strong!

Thang Lian

War with Bangladesh?

Regarding the article, “Troop Movements Reported Along Bangladesh-Burma Border” [February 11, 2009;]:

It seems from the movement of troops a sudden encounter is imminent. It may become an all-out war with Bangladesh with US support. China’s role in this event is important. In the event of war what will China’s position be? That has to be seen with caution. If China does not support Burma then Burma may have to pay the price heavily.



Regarding the article, “Tension Mounts between Wa and Burmese Army” [February 10, 2009; URL:]:

If this is true, good! I support the UWSA standing with other ethnics.


The Irrawaddy Should Be Aware of Burmese Interests

Regarding the article, “Troop Movements Reported Along Bangladesh-Burma Border” [February 11, 2009;]:
Give the oil exploration to Bangladesh, then shift all the Bengali (so-called Rohingya) to Bagan [Pagan]. It will make Burma proud. Journalism is not for bashing and being one-sided. Sometimes as journalists you should be aware of national interests rather than attacking the military junta. If you experience how our Buddhism is treated in Bangladesh, then we should discuss that. How does democratic Thailand treat you in Thailand?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Arakan Land

Regarding the article, “Unwanted: Dead or Alive” [February 10, 2009;

Ask the Arakans about the Rohingya and they will tell you. Of course, the Rohingya are certainly not native to Burma, as far as I know, and it is certain also. This problem should be dealt with accordingly and of course, fairly also, as the Rohingya are “unwanted,” even by Bangladesh where they originate from in the first place.

I don't know of U Nu recognizing the Rohingya as an ethnic minority of Burma, much less a Rohingya serving in governing the country under the helm of U Nu. If he did, he would be dead then, in the hands of the Arakans, who had inhabited the land since before the Burmese established the first Burmese empire at Pagan in 1044, long before William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy in France) sat on the throne of England after disposing of King Harold in 1066.

We can't let the Rohingya claim themselves as an ethnic group of Burma, as it is not true. And the fact that they are claiming Arakan as their land makes it worse for them to even stay in the country, where they have been living, illegally of course, for some decades, as far as I know. It is the sympathy and compassion shown to them—letting them stay on the land—by the Arakans in the first place, that their population has blown to the size that it is today. And woe to the Arakans today—the Rohingya are claiming their land as theirs.

Even Bangladesh, their native land, is refusing to accept them. Of course, Burma has no reason to do so, since day one, as they are not native to the country. The international community should take this case seriously now, before it is too late. As long as the Rohingya claim to be native to Burma, then they will have problems now and in the future, as it is not true. Even if the central governing body in Burma, whoever it is, agrees to host the Rohingya and let them stay in Arakan State, then the Arakans will make war on the governing body, and rightly so, in all senses. Take care people, before you do anything in this regard, for both short and long term consequences.

The Rohingya should be in Bangladesh, rather than in Burma, in line with their religion. Most importantly is the fact that they don't belong to any part of Arakan State, the land Arakans have been calling home, since a millennium ago.

George Than Setkyar Heine

No to Gambari

Regarding the article, “Gambari Had ‘Good Discussion’ in Burma: Ban” [February 11, 2009; URL:]:

UN should not believe the reports of Mr. Gambari's trip to Myanmar [Burma]. We do not trust Mr Gambari; he is not suitable to be a special envoy of the UN for Myanmar. The UN should dismiss Mr. Gambari as soon as possible. No need to come back Mr Gambari.


Danish ‘No’ to Sanctions is Right

Regarding the article, “Danish Minster Slams Burma Boycott, Sanctions” [August 11, 2008; URL:]:

I totally agree with her. The sanctions have been hurting the government and their cronies, but hurting the people even much more. Twenty years of such efforts have only made the people worse off and pushed Burma more toward China and some rouge countries. Even if people could overthrow the government now, the country's future is unthinkable. How can we have a government of the people, by the people, for the people, when the people are weak? The government is certainly not making people any stronger. Only with engagement from the international community at least economically, people will have hope to get out of the poverty and strengthen themselves. Otherwise, the situation will just call for another coup and the vicious cycle will never end. So, go Ulla!


Karen Betrayal

Regarding the article, “Htain Maung Agrees to Border Deal with Junta” [February 11, 2009; URL:]:

So long as the Karen and other ethnic groups in Burma are betraying their own people, the military regime will enjoy their life.

M. Haji

Junta Not Responsible for Rohingya Woes

Regarding the article, “Troop Movements Reported Along Bangladesh-Burma Border” [February 11, 2009;]:

I partly recommend the words of Ye Myint Aung, whether he is government staff or not, that many people mistakenly think that the Rohingya are a kind of Burmese. It is totally a mistake. Actually they are from Bangladesh. They illegally sneak into Burma from Bangladesh. Most of them cannot speak, write or read Burmese language. They are not Burmese nor do not have the right to be Burmese. The reason is most people see the junta as a bad government and they want to blame any bad thing on the regime baselessly.

Khine Mar Kyaw

Dramatic Changes Ahead

Regarding “Burma and Obama” [January 30, 2009;

This is a very good story. I really appreciated it. I’m looking forward to reading this kind of realistic and knowledgeable issue again and see the dramatic change in Myanmar [Burma]. Thank you!

Mg Mg Wa

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gentleman Soldiers

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL:]:

I miss that gentleman soldier of the Burma army. A rare specimen among the thugs. I heard a few of his episodes while playing golf in BGC and Maymyo. Perhaps [he’s] the only person in the tatmadaw who often recites and quotes Shakespeare. Even after I left the country, he would call me up from Singapore or run across in Washington. I would say he is apolitical soldier. It’s a pity he's getting on too much to lead.

Pe Nyun

Love Thy Rohingya Neighbor

Regarding the article, “Unwanted: Dead or Alive” [February 10, 2009;

It is a shame to have these innocent human beings labeled as Rohingyas and not as victims of political repression and religious discrimination. If only they were of a different religious denomination the corrupted regimes of these two countries would have a different outlook on this human tragedy. And as far as the UN Refugee networks are concerned, it is a geographical issue that needs to be solved by Burma and Thailand. The fair solution will be for Burma to accept the Rohingyas as their citizens as they were considered in the past when one of their leaders held a cabinet level position in Burma. Stop this political game of human chess playing and do what is preached by every religion and be kind to your neighbor.

Ariff Cassim

Asylum for Rohingya Boatpeople

Regarding the article, “Unwanted: Dead or Alive” [February 10, 2009;

I feel very much pain to see the Rohingya boatpeople. They will surely be killed if deported to Myanmar [Burma]. Please accept their asylum request. An earnest request.

Than Aung

Hitting the Nail on the Head

Regarding the article, “Surviving on a Little Hope and 33 US Cents a Day” [February 6, 2009; URL:]:

Congratulations. The article seems to hit the nail on the head.

Ba Thann Win

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rohingya Denial

Regarding the article, “Jolie Makes Goodwill Visit to Thai Refugee Camp” [February 6, 2009; URL:]:

There are no such people, much less an ethnic entity, as Rohingya in Burma. They originated from neighboring Bangladesh. Arakan State in Burma was inhabited by the ethnic Arakan since before the Burmese established their kingdom at Pagan in 1044, and founded today's Burma. The Arakan people have at least a millennium-long history of existence until today as an ethnic group in Burma. As their population was small and close to India, they have a lot of communication with the people—Indians and Bangladeshis—on the other side of the borders. When Bangladesh was established, not so long ago, people from Bangladesh encroached on Arakan soil and lived in Arakan territory, due to the country's much undeveloped and poor state. They made their way into Arakan where there are vast areas of land on which they could at least eke out a living as the Arakanese could not wholly make their vast territory worthwhile for themselves, even due to the incompetent rule of the Burmese military from 1962 until today. Decades passed and the Bangladesh population grew alarmingly (having at least four wives to call one's own). Then after many decades, the Bangladeshi migrants make their presence known and started calling the land of the Arakanese their own and Burma their country. This is true and undeniable and everyone in Burma knows it.

George Than Setkyar Heine

Under China’s Protection

Regarding the cartoon, “You Can Talk Till You Drop ...” [February 6, 2009;

The West and the UN can't leverage anything as long as the regional power China is protecting the junta.


Daily Rations

Regarding the article, “Surviving on a Little Hope and 4 US Cents a Day” [February 6, 2009; URL:]:

It's still not much to live on per day, but 12 baht is closer to 30 US cents, not 4 cents. When my wife was growing up in northern Thailand, a Thai person could live on 12 baht per day for food, as she did regularly. I surely feel for these people. Even the poorest people in America don't have to suffer these kinds of conditions.


Dream on!

Regarding the article, “Beware of the Burmese Dream!” [January 29, 2009;

I am Burmese-American and this is the best Obama joke I have read so far. It seems as if one is dreaming of becoming Than Shwe, without knowing who he really is.

rabin bharadwaja

Mahatir the Magnificent

Regarding the article, “Malaysian Muslims to Boycott Coca-Cola” [January 7, 2009; URL:]:

I wish Dr Mahatir could go around all the Muslim counties and wake the people up and make their leaders take similar action. We need more leaders like him, Tayyip Ardogan and Ahmedinejad.

Rabia Hyat Khan

United in Our Dream

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL:]:

Very nice story. It makes me recall memories. Many soldiers from different regions (including non-Burmese) helped the govt protect Rangoon. What did they get? Finally they were systematically destroyed by the govt. How stupid. Now they all know how the junta is (before and now), and why the Karen are fighting for justice and freedom. During that time, there were a lot of educated Karen people. They knew what would happen. But, until now we can’t get unity among the Karen, opposition groups and the other different races. It will still be too far from our dreams. However, one day, if we are united, our dream will come true, surely.


Battle of Insein Revisited

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL:]:

When Insein was occupied by the KNDO, they were confronted by: (1) hastily trained students from Myoma High School, the University of Rangoon, Faculty of Medicine; (2) Communist and PVO troops; (3) Burmese navy, Burmese Air Force with Oxford Trainers and fire extinguisher bombs. The Chin troops commanded by Brig Blake arrived a few days later and started the offensive against the KNDO. The Burmese Navy also shelled Insein from the Hlaing River. When the Burma Rifles arrived, the offensive was well on its way.

Pe Than Maung

The Irrawaddy’s Burman Bias

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL:]:

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:]:

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:]:

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.

As Twante Canal was in the hands of the KNDO, ready to block any government troops attempting to transit the canal, the half-strength 3rd Burma Rifles Battalion had to be lifted overnight by inland double-decker steamers via the unused river and sea passage at great risk on February 5, 1949. The battalion consisted of four under-strength infantry companies and was equipped with only four three-inch mortars. A six-pounder scratch gun crew of UTC lads and a volunteer Naval Bofors gun crew which had been supporting our forces at Insein, were hastily organized to provide artillery support.

When this makeshift government force arrived at Gyobingauk on Feb 9, the bridge at Wetkaw, a few miles south of Zigon, had already been abandoned by government Levies and armed UMPs. In the early morning of Feb 10, the mechanized Force of the Second Karen Rifles crossed Wetkaw bridge at leisure and commenced to make a dash for Yangon, fully confident that there were no government forces or Guns strong enough to oppose them all the way to Insein, and felt quite invincible.

Fortunately for the government, the element of surprise was with the government forces. The Naval Bofors gun mounted on wheels, which is capable of firing 40-mm shells at 120 rounds/minute, stood on the road in their way and opened fire point-blank at 500 yards, knocking out their armored carrier and also damaging one of the six-pounder guns. This action was totally unexpected by the Karen Forces who neglected to position a scouting patrol in front.

For next two days there were attacks and counter-attacks, and exchanges of mortar fire between the two forces, until the naval Bofors found a clear position to directly shell the insurgent vehicles, which demoralized them completely.

On Feb 13, the Karen Forces with their families abandoned all their vehicles and heavy equipment and attempted to escape towards the Pegu Yomas. Both second-in-command and the CO were captured however. In the recently written words of a historian of the Karen struggle “... thus came the end of the very first and perhaps, most important phase of the Karen struggle.”

Anyone who is reading this may ponder what would have happened in the course of history if the “Ambush at Wetkaw” had not taken place on Feb 10, 1949. I myself could not help thinking yesterday when I visited the Bridge at Wetkaw and the site of this action on the 60th anniversary to pay homage to the comrades –in-arms of both forces who are no longer with us.

An Ex-Naval Volunteer

The ongoing Battle of Insein

Regarding the article, “The Battle of Insein Never Really Ended” [February 9, 2009; URL:]:

It is right. The Battle of Insein has not ended. I don’t see that anybody has won. Myanmar [Burmese] people have lived together with Karen since long ago. Also we will stay together in the future. I think for the last six decades Myanmar and Karen leaders were in controversy about the border line. They can never see that both peoples are difficult to separate.


Lives Worth Living

Regarding the article, “Surviving on a Little Hope and 33 US Cents a Day” [February 6, 2009; URL:]:

I am writing to you from a small office in Mae Sot. With all due respect, I found the article "Surviving on a Little Hope and 33 US Cents a Day" slightly disturbing.

I am referring to one sentence in particular, but this sentence changed the meaning of the whole article: "... exchange camp life for a worthwhile existence in the outside world..." Life in camps here is difficult, I know that very well. It surely is miserable in many ways—at times it is hell. We know that already. But I do not understand how the author can seriously think he has the authority to claim that currently 150,000 people's lives are NOT lives that are worth living.

It is so shockingly obvious that people fall in love, people see the sunrise, play, chat. (And by the way, they mostly smile more than the whole population of the Western hemisphere put together.) It is called resilience. It is called the spirit of humanity. I think it is dangerous to allow my fellow Westerners to develop this myth where these people with so-called "lives not worth living” will finally find a worthwhile existence once they land somewhere else, be that the US or wherever else. I think that only serves one purpose: recreating a myth of happiness in the US and in Europe that seems to be similar to some of the literature we witnessed in the past century that colorfully created the pursuit of the American Dream.

What I mean is simply that I do not think the author or anyone else should make such claims about the value of anybody else's life but their own.

Sena Galazzi

Federalism Express

Regarding the article, “The Path of Pen or Sword?” [February 4, 2009;

Only a full federal union will secure the well-being of all in this country. If not, the bloodshed will revive itself and will take the lives of the innocent youths of both sides. The constitution must be revised; full autonomy must be granted.


Don’t Forget the Gas Guzzlers!

Regarding the article, “Burma and Obama” [January 30, 2009;

The world (and the US) must not forget that China and India are propping up the Burmese generals with their unconsciencious business dealings with the military junta—primarily oil and natural gas imports from Burma. China and India are benefiting immensely from the very tragic political and economic situation in Burma as the suffering and lack of even a half-day's supply of electricity for the ordinary Burmese allow these two Asian superpowers (as well as Thailand) to import energy supplies from Burma, which only make the military generals more wealthy and increases the suffering of the average Burmese.


‘Change’ We Can Believe In

Regarding the article, “Gambari Must be Firm this Time Around” [January 30, 2009; URL:]:

I don’t think Gambari will make a change for Burma. The public have to do something .They have to unite with each other. Then Burma will change.


Not Sorry for Kyaw Thu

Regarding the article, “Kyaw Thu’s Transfer Questions Junta’s Intentions” [February 5, 2009; URL:]:

The SPDC should find someone to take Kyaw Thu’s place, because they well need someone who has experience and knowledge. Maybe one of the ambassadors or mafia who is related to the junta. By the way, don’t feel sorry for him; they all are the same. One: go; two: come; three: wait. But they all are selfish.

shwe gyi

Imperial Chains

Regarding the article, “Surviving on a Little Hope and 4 US Cents a Day” [February 6, 2009; URL:]:

This is just a good essay to read in the midday heat of a sizzling summer day, somewhere in England or a country in the West. Burma is in turmoil today because Gen Aung San was killed by an imperialist lackey, of course helped by the British army holding Burma back in 1947 in the first place. Foreign-aided rebels tried to destroy the hard-won independence and take over the country, in proxy for their foreign masters, who had exploited Burma's wealth and people for more than a century before—by armed might to a point. This was when the democratically elected government of Burma led by then Prime Minister U Nu was called only the “Rangoon Government,” because the KNLA was at Kha-Wei-Gyan, only seven miles from Rangoon City Hall in 1950, to take over the country for themselves. However, the truth prevailed and Burma remained independent, until today, though under a military tyranny making a hell of a life for those suffering in the country and on the border areas. Today, the international community led by the US, EU and others, are still watching what's going on in Burma with folded arms, throwing crumbs to those suffering today, who they had helped decades ago when they were serving their purposes.

Don't make a big deal out of nothing, people! These people languishing in camps along the Burma-Thailand borders are suffering because of the policies of both old and new imperialists who care only for their own means and ends without actually giving consideration to ordinary suffering folks worldwide nowadays—not only on the Burma-Thailand border. People in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Tibet, Burma and many others are suffering because of the international community calculating for their own gain, in place of opting to do what is right and relevant today. The UN also has no credibility given the “big powers” wielding their vetoes. As long as the international community, led by the big powers, are reluctant to do something substantial about the prevailing situation at hand, then the people languishing on the Burma-Thailand border and elsewhere are in for a never-ending hell of a time, no doubt about that.

Writing stories holds no water, particularly in Burma's case. The only truth and relevant answer to Burma's problem is by dislodging military rule in Burma and that needs the international community help, to say the least. There will be many millions of stories to tell and write, fodder and ammunition for those living by the pen as they say, as long as the military tyranny in Burma continues to exist, remains in place and flourished as it does today, no thanks to the UN or other democracies led by the US, EU and, in particular, Great Britain, which made a lot out of Burma, during its century rule.

George Than Setkyar Heine

Friday, February 6, 2009

Living in the Dark Ages

Regarding the article, "Burmese PM’s Daughter Camera Shy on Her Wedding Day" [February 5, 2009; URL: ttp://]:

The outrageous excesses, massive human rights transgressions and the violence committed on a daily basis on its own people by this junta, supported implacably by the smiling Chinese government (and all governments and individuals who do business in Burma), is medieval in all human aspects. It is essential that all good people in the world collectively say "No," and speak up now, for all these places including Tibet, Darfur, East Turkestan and Zimbabwe, as we need every ounce of energy to prevent a major human catastrophe. What century are these archaic people—thugs in every respect—living in? Their quiet and calculating supporters are the worst.

Kerry Wright

Check Your Rakhine History

Regarding the article, "Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

A Rakhine historian cannot judge the faith of the Rohingya. The so-called historians, who have their degrees, masters and doctorates under the guidelines of the Burmese junta, cannot claim to be perfect historians. They should study more classes in or outside Burma.

Aung Zaw Oo

No to Zionism

Regarding the article, "Malaysian Muslims to Boycott Coca-Cola" [January 7, 2009; URL:]:
As a Muslim, I congratulate your activist stance against Israel.


Gambari's Lip Service

Regarding the article, "A Failed Mission" [February 4, 2009;
What do you expect from the Nigerian ambassador? You try not to solve your own affairs, but hope that a Nigerian god will solve a century-long problem. Wake up! Start national reconciliation, if you cannot take up arms. FYI, not only Burmese, but all races need to receive freedom after the struggle. Nobody wants to die for lip service, as has happened from U Nu to the current leaders. They want real equality and freedom.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Shan Drug Trafficking

Regarding the article, “Prominent Businessman’s Associates Arrested in Drug Raids” [February 3, 2009;]:

The SSA are living on the opium trade and methamphetamines production. The chief of the SSA says his army and aspects are anti-drugs and that they collaborate with the international ban on all narcotic drugs production and distribution in the world. But the SSA exist and take refuge in the sale of drugs to Thailand and the rest of the world.

Minority Reports

Kachin Unite!

Regarding the article, “Kachin Independence Army Celebrates Anniversary” [February 4, 2009; URL:]:

Dear KIA colleagues, my comment is to recommend that you should unite into one group and that the chief of the Kachin should be Gori Zau Seng or Dr Tu Ja. Otherwise the Kachin revolution can't be achieved. 

Aik Long Khammwe

Perils of the Pipeline

China's National Petroleum Corporation announced last month it will build a US $3 billion 900-mile gas-oil pipeline(s) across Burma in early 2009. It is for transporting gas and oil from offshore Burmese wells in the Bay of Bengal to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China, a landlocked province which has missed much of the economic boom enjoyed by the other fortunate Chinese regions. This pipeline(s) is to transport gas and oil from the offshore wells of Burma in the Bay of Bengal, as well as those coming from the Middle East and Africa. This route will bypass the risky 1,114 mile, one-week long voyage through the Malacca Straits. It is a very wise grand plan by China to feed the energy supply to its industries and keep up a healthy economic growth. Myanmar [Burma] as a partner will enjoy a minor share of its income arising from the sales of its natural resources, and the pipeline running across it, may be for 30-60 years, till the natural resources are depleted. If everything runs well and smooth, it will enhance the economy of both China and Myanmar. The proposed 900-mile cross-country terrain of thick forests and mountain ranges in Rakhine and Shan states are the areas of concern in the project for disasters arising from usual hazards of such trade transporting highly flammable and toxic substances—such as oil-slicks, forest fires, environmental pollution, and ecological damage. In a country where these different terrains are rife with insurgents against oppressive rule, the pipeline could become an easy target for them, as is leads to the hydro power lines. The long-term operational costs for the pipeline to keep going, and its safety could be much more than that of the construction. The questions in case of accidents and disasters are, who will become accountable—the owners or the pipeline guards? In lands where villages are burnt down in military campaigns, fires from leaking Chinese oil could add fuel to the fire. Problems between the owners, employees and the guards could not be ignored. It has happened in the logging businesses in the rainforests of the Amazon and Africa. Therefore, it is very essential to have a "Peaceful Myanmar" with a happy and prospering people, rather than peace by coercion and intimidation. Big Brother China as a World Superpower has all the wisdom, initiative and influence to make the Little Brother see or listen to good reason. Myanmar’s people will not like to see China bogged down in troubles related to this pipeline; rather they would like to see the proud and happy faces of Chinese people as we did in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The junta generals should also review what they are doing to bring peace and prosperity to its people, just like the Chinese government is doing for its people—Wishing peace, prosperity and happiness to the Chinese and Myanmar people.

Myo Chit

A Waste of UN Money

Regarding the article, “No Concrete Results for Gambari” [February 3, 2009; URL:]:

It is no use for Gambari to visit Myanmar [Burma]. The UN is spending money for nothing, paying for his expenses. Only Burmese can change the system in Myanmar. Long live the Burmese people!

Tun Win

Thai Hospitality

Regarding the article, “Thais Protest Idea of Rohingya Refugee Center” [February 4, 2009; URL:]:

I think that Thailand should first open a refugee camp for the Shan before considering one for the Rohingya, as millions of Shan are now in the country being subjected to all sorts of exploitation. Thailand can still forget about inking the 1952 Geneva Convention on Refugees and still claim to be the most hospitable country in Asia—at least to the tourists.

B T Win

Political Agenda against Rohingya

Regarding the article, “Thais Protest Idea of Rohingya Refugee Center” [February 4, 2009; URL:]:

They more look like Bengalis rather than a Muslim minority in the western part of Burma. When you look at the map you will see that Bangladesh is packed with 150 million people and has an area of 144,000 square km, against the 55 million people in Burma in 678,500 square km of land. Those who understood the word “migration” can think of it. It is just a political agenda.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Than Shwe May Be Dumb …

Regarding the article, “No Concrete Results for Gambari” [February 3, 2009;  URL:]:

What are you talking about? Gambari came to Burma just to listen to what the NLD and Daw Suu have to say, don't you know that? He had heard it all and thus, his mission is “accomplished” like our good friend who just left the White House, after the capture of Saddam Hussein. Gambari may make another trip to Burma like the Terminator who said, "I’ll be back" for a couple of bowls of Burmese noodles—with a lot of chili, fried peas and curd, boiled eggs, etc.—in Gambari's case. He didn't show Daw Suu and the other NLD guys the package he brought with him. It is only for Than Shwe's eyes and ears. Maybe, he showed it to Thein Sein. Than Shwe has no time for a guy from Nigeria, only a UN Envoy deputized by a guy from South Korea holding the reins of the UN today. China and Russia, Than Shwe's infamous big brothers, wielding nuclear weapons and veto powers, help and shield the one and only military dictator in the world, keeping the only Nobel Peace Laureate in the world locked up in her own house for 13 years out of 19, means they have little or no esteem for the world body. Keeping U Win Tin and Khin Maung Swe out of the group meeting with Gambari smacks of ingenuity and more of a insult on the part of Than Shwe. Win Tin is very close to Daw Suu and the top dog in the military has purposely acted to separate Daw Suu from Win Tin, even after more than 19 years. Though he may be dumb, Than Shwe is certainly not stupid. He knows how to keep people apart and play the game of “divide and rule.” And he fears Win Tin like he does Daw Suu. He lets Win Tin play the game while he watches the moves. Put it another way—he wants to find out whether Win Tin has any new moves up his sleeve, even after nearly two decades in detention. In case the veteran journalist makes a false move, or one that crosses the path of the top dog in the Burmese military, then Win Tin has his cell waiting for him for at least a century this time. He did 19 years last time. Than Shwe is keeping all options open and if the NLD and others don't fall in line, then they can expect lengthy (decades and centuries) lives in prison—this time with hard labor, no doubt. As for the review of Than Shwe's constitution, just forget it, if you really know him. If you don't know, Than Shwe believes the power only comes from the barrel of the gun. Only if you play his game will he listen and take note. Shooting off your mouth or putting words on paper would hold no water.

George Than Setkyar Heine

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Turn Up the Volume

Regarding the article, "Gambari Meets NLD Executive Members, Including Suu Kyi" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

A new light seems to shine against all odds as global concerns are growing about the human rights issue in Burma following the Nargis storm (May, 2008) and the Saffron Revolution (Sept 2007). It seems like the odds are stacked in Gambari’s favor—after failing a couple of times—to eventually persuade the stubborn regime into a tripartite dialogue for the first time: between the UN envoy, the regime, and members of the opposition. With its notorious belief in astrologers, the regime nevertheless might veer off track on a whim when time approaches. Who knows? Lies travel round the world while the truth is putting on its boots. Poor Gambari could possibly return empty-handed again. The truth is the change lies ahead on the shoulders of all Burmese. Not on one person’s only, and not only on one organization’s either. Exiles in third countries, rather than those who live in Burma, have more opportunity to raise voices for freedom. Many times our chanting of slogans does not seem loud enough to be heard from the White House, senators, governor offices or foreign embassies. We need to increase the volume. Let us not just bury our time and labor in warehouses and factories, merely for nepotism. Take a little time. And take a glance at your story briefly: where you come from, and why you are here? That may remind you of reality, your cities that you have left, your poor neighbors, and how the majority of Burmese struggle all their lives for daily food. He that fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. We have mighty power if we stick together.

Moe Kyu

No Faith in UN

Regarding the article, "Gambari Meets NLD Executive Members, Including Suu Kyi" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

This meeting’s only purpose is to take photographs with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and to publish them. We hope that there will be no progress in the future. We believe that Mr Gambari will not send a report back to UN describing the real situation in Myanmar [Burma]. We are not depending on the UN to get freedom for our people from the military junta. Finally, we no longer trust either Mr Ban Ki-moon or Mr Gambari, the inefficient leaders of the UN.


Hugs and Kisses for Suu Kyi

Regarding the article, "Gambari Meets NLD Executive Members, Including Suu Kyi" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

Finally, Mr Gambari meets with Mrs Suu Kyi, If I were there I would shake hands with her and hug and kiss her. I am so glad she is doing much better. Burmese people like her and her kids and her husband are so nice.

Andy Bowe

Malaysian Muslims Lead the Way

Regarding the article, "Malaysian Muslims to Boycott Coca-Cola" [January 7, 2009; URL:]:

The Malaysian Muslims example should be followed by Muslims throughout the Muslim countries and the world.

Abdul Wahid Osman Belal

Aye Tha Aung in Denial

Regarding the article, "Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

No surprise. U Aye Tha Aung is a Rakhine. He is still sitting with the spirit of the 1942 massacre where hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas were murdered by his group. Although he is a senior member in the CRPP, his mentality is still same as Aye Chan and Aye Kyaw. It is very sad that after many years working in the CRPP, he is still the same as before. What is the difference between him and the SPDC? Aye Tha Aung, you want human rights for yourself, but at the same time your heart is full of hatred for other people. The whole world is showing their sympathy toward the unfortunate Rohingya boat people, but you and your friends and the SPDC are still in a state of denial. Remember, sooner or later, only truth will prevail.

Sayed Hussein

Rakhine Politicians and the Rohingya

Regarding the article, "Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

I am not surprised about the Rakhine politician U Aye Tha Aung's statement that the Rohingya are not among the ethnic groups in Burma. He is one of those Rakhine politicians who are instrumental to the Rohingya extermination policy of the SPDC and the suffering of the Rohingya. I would ask him if he knows his colleague, U Kyaw Min, who is a Rohingya member of the CRPP. Not only Rohingya, there are also hundreds of Rakhine from Arakan taking refuge in Bangladesh. His remark "How could they claim that they came from Burma, when in fact they come from Bangladesh?" is ridiculous. It seems that they are more interested in "Rohingya extermination" than the practice of democratic values and human rights for everyone in Burma.

Nurul Islam

Rohingyas Breeding to Colonize Burma

Regarding the article, "Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad" [February 2, 2009; URL:]:

Two million Burmese migrants could not get citizenship in Thailand. So, why should the Chittagonian migrants receive citizenship in Burma? These Chittagonians increased their population exponentially with the practice of four wives per man over the last couple of decades. Within 50 years, the whole of Burma will be full of those Rohingya if their population, intrusion and colonization of Burma is not stopped. Most of them are poor and so are most Burmese. They might die in the sea along with the outcry of international communities. Lots of Burmese die in the sea in the fishing boats of Thais as well, but without any international outcry. Bad luck will fall upon Burma when these Chittagonians occupy the whole of Burma, and they will proceed to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and even Vietnam. This was the Muslims’ demographic colonization. True or not? Consult a historian.


Ridiculous Referendum

The New Light of Myanmar repeatedly says the referendum is the decision of the majority; It would be beautiful if it were really true? The New Light of Myanmar is a junta mouthpiece. No newspaper in Burma is allowed to exist if they do not side with the generals. Information is not free; it is rudely biased. This alone is a human rights violation. As a matter of fact, the New Light of Myanmar editor has to publish what the junta says. The newspaper press is full of military cronies writings articles to deliberately confuse the people and deceive the people with falsehoods—things that are not true and to discredit the opposition and belittle them. The newspaper is designed and written to brainwash the simple people who are not abreast with current happenings. The New Light of Myanmar says the referendum is the decision of the majority. This is bullshit. This is totally false. It is not the will of the people. The junta blames the NLD and everyone else for its failures and disastrous performance. The performance of the junta during the recent cyclone is an outstanding example. The country is not stable; never will be whilst the people are unhappy and forced and pushed and shoved into doing it their way or else. The generals talk of democracy without understanding the true meaning of the word. The delegates of the national convention were not a true representative of the people. Those who will say “yes” to the generals were hand-picked by them. The decisions made in the convention were undemocratic. The delegates were bulldozed into accepting whatever the generals put before them. The majority of people did not accept the outcome of the convention simply because it was unfair. The generals had the obligation to explain to the people the pros and cons of the convention; they avoided that and imposed an information blackout. The people were not allowed to examine the outcome of the convention. There was no freedom of speech, press, association, assembly or information. Government servants, civil servants, the armed forces and all workers employed by the government, who were not supposed to be aligned to any party, were actually forced and intimidated into voting "Yes" with promises of serious consequences if they voted “No.” The USDA was visiting ordinary people’s houses and forcing them to vote “Yes” one day prior to the voting day. These are not the democratic principles the junta has been proclaiming. Before the referendum, the junta promised the people that voting would be free and fair. The referendum voting was not democratic, nor free and fair by any means. In fact, it was grossly illegal the way the referendum was rigged disgracefully. Votes were stolen by the junta officials posted at the polling booths. The junta officials would approach simple people who did not understand and are fearful of these officials with cameras in their hand ready to blackmail them if they voted “No.” These officials would follow the voters into the polling booth and force them to vote “Yes.” The people were betrayed; the generals stole the referendum—without shame or conscience they proclaimed that they won the referendum by 92.8 percent. It is abundantly clear why the generals did not want overseas observers in the country to monitor the referendum. The referendum was illegal and cannot be accepted by the world community. And they continue to publish such falsehoods in the New Light of Myanmar day after day repeatedly to psychologically deceive the people. All this is absolutely wrong. The generals do these despicable deeds to keep themselves in power because they are afraid of the people and afraid of reprisals as the blood on their hands is still wet and is refusing to dry. One wonders how these generals go to bed each night with such dreadful consciences.


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