What is the answer to Burma?

04 December 2007

A friend of mine sent me the latest news about U Gambira, who is the leader of All-Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA). He has been charged with treason; a crime punishable by death. As the news slowly sank in, the same question, that has been bugging me for the past few weeks, appeared in my mind again.


For the past few months, the news that we heard in the various media (both Burmese and English) simply made us speechless. Never would we have imagined such things happening in our beloved country, Burma, which is well-known for its friendly and kind people and its sense of tranquility. Now, everything in Burma has been replaced by fear and uncertainty.

A few days ago, Maggin monastery, which had a large number of monks participating in September peaceful protests, was closed down by the military junta and the remaining monks (including 80-years old U Nandiya, father of the monastery’s abbot, U Indaka) were evicted from the monastery [Source]. All the HIV/AIDS patients who were seeking treatment and solace in the monastery were also made homeless at a short notice. Though U Nandiya requested for a few days of grace period so that the well-beings of the young monks and patients can be taken care of, his request was rejected. I heard on BBC News that upon eviction, U Nandiya and the young monks had to linger around in the area for a while as the soldiers warned the passerby not to offer help or get involved.

Nowadays, the monks in Burma are not free to travel from town to town. Whenever they travel to somewhere (especially to Rangoon), they will be questioned endlessly as if they were criminals. If they were not able to produce the relevant documents, they would even be asked to go back to their hometowns. In a country where Buddhism is supposed to flourish, instead of being considered as the most revered kind, the monks are being treated as outcasts. What a sad irony!! How did all this happen? Why do Burmese people look away helplessly at such happenings?

U Gambira's mother told RFA in this interview about her anguish at having her two sons (U Gambira & his elder brother) and husband in prison with her daughter-in-law on the run and also having to fend for herself as well as for her three small grand-children. When the military junta could not arrest U Gambira, they arrested his elder brother and father and that eventually led to the arrest of U Gambira. Apart from arresting family members of the activists, the junta also does everything to hinder the livelihood of such families. The junta will halt their businesses (if any) and make things so difficult for the family members that they will end up having to struggle a lot for survival.

Burmese people are very kind-loving by nature and are dedicated to their families. Most of all, they consider filial piety as something of utmost importance. The military junta is making use of such kind nature of Burmese people to instill "fear" in them; fear for the safety and well-being of loved ones.

Under this ruthless strategy of the military junta, many sacrifices have been made. When the parents of two of 88-generation student leaders passed away, they were not allowed to attend the funeral of their parents. Their parents left this world, without being able to see their children for the last time. For Burmese people, we believe that when our parents pass away, all the children should be well and present at their death-beds so that they will leave this world peacefully. As children, it is also part of our filial piety to make sure that our parents live their last moments on earth without any worry. Hence, please do try to put yourself in the shoes of those 88-generation student leaders. How sad would they have felt?

As the military junta continues to turn Burma upside down through more arrests and torture on monks, civilians and student leaders, the international pressure on Burma seems to be waning. At the recent ASEAN Summit, ASEAN members allowed the junta, that has committed such atrocious crimes, to raise objection at Mr. Gambari's plan to address the ASEAN leaders. Such action seems to let the military junta into thinking that they can continue their nonchalant attitude towards ASEAN's stand of urging towards the political reforms as soon as possible.

Many members in ASEAN feel that sanctions do not help the civilians in Burma. Yes, it is true. However, neither does not having sanctions help the Burmese people. In fact, the main effect that sanctions can have is on the circle of military junta. The most effective and recent sanction in my opinion, led to the closure of Air Bagan airline, owned by Tayza who has very close relationship with the top general of the military junta. In Tayza's statement to public, he mentioned about the loss that the Burmese people would suffer due to his airline's closure. What a joke! Though there is an undeniable fact that some normal civilians have lost their jobs at Air Bagan due to the closure, the significance is rather minute. All along, only the people related to the junta's circle has benefitted most from the business of Air Bagan. NOT the normal civilians on the street. When the Bagan Airline was in business, Burma was still considered as the poverty-stricken third-world country.

Many people say that freedom for Burma must be through the movement by its own people. I totally agree. While my fellow Burmese people in Burma are making sacrifices, many of us outside Burma are also trying our best to help them as well as to gather help from the international community. We are all doing what we can.

In the meantime, many lives are still being lost, tortured, and ruined in Burma. How many more will come? The answer simply lies in our unity, our commitment, and our belief to free Burma from the hands of evil. Therefore, we implore to the international community to lend your support to save the monks and people of Burma.


Anonymous said...

Unity and belief to Free Burma

Let's stay focused, I expect her to be freed soon...

Thway Ni said...

Thanks so much for ur support, JEG :)

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