Political Prisoners are Like Plaster [x]
"When I was in England, I broke my hand in a bicycle accident. My hand was healed back to its normal condition through a plaster mold, but it took a long time. My hand was in terrible condition at that time; bones were broken into many pieces. But after [the cast], everything was fine. I got this idea from that.
Burmese society was shattered under the military government, so I believe that political prisoners are like plaster. They can heal our society, return it to a normal, strong condition. Former political prisoners will put Burma back on the right track, that’s what I feel. I wanted to create art for them. Our next generation will know what their history was via my art.” - Artist Htein Lin
Buddhist community leaders are considering a proposal to the government that would place Muslims without proof of citizenship in camps, possibly outside of Arakan State.
As the United States insists that military engagement with Burma is crucial to promote political reforms, human rights activists and ethnic minorities are raising some questions.
Among them: Who will take responsibility if US assistance to Burma’s armed forces is used to oppress, rather than help, the Burmese people?
But ethnic minorities in Burma, who have for several decades been the victims of brutal military campaigns, are not so convinced. Thirteen ethnic groups from Shan State sent a letter to the US Consulate in Thailand’s Chiang Mai last month, saying they believed US military engagement in the country was premature.
“What if ethnicities are attacked with US-provided technologies? That’s the question,” said Khun Htun Oo, a prominent Shan leader, adding that the uncertainty of Burmese politics was reason for caution.
During half a century of dictatorship, the military committed more rights abuses than the Burmese government, said Cherry Zahau, an ethnic Chin human rights activist. “There is no consensus in regards to how to engage with the Burmese military, which keeps on committing human rights abuses,” she said.
The military has signed bilateral ceasefires with most ethnic armed groups since 2012, but over the past three years clashes in northern Burma have left more than 100,000 people displaced.
The Chin activist accused the United States of strengthening ties with the Burmese military not to further political reforms, but due to the geopolitical importance of Burma for US national security.
Yangon’s City Hall was built between 1925 and 1940. Although plans had existed to build a new administrative centre as early as 1913, they had to be shelved due to the onset of World War I. The task was finally taken up again in 1925, by which time and as elsewhere in the “Empire”, nationalist sentiment had grown markedly stronger here in Burma. Sarah Rooney in her excellent “30 Heritage Buildings of Yangon” cites Burmese politician U Ba Pe, who gave a rousing speech at the Legislative Council demanding architectural features from the ancient capital of Bagan. When criticised by European members of the Council for such an inclusion of religious-inspired elements, he responded that “no civic architecture in the world can be found that is not founded on either ecclesiastical, monumental or other religious architecture”. Following this debate, Burmese architect Sithu U Tin was selected for the job. Today a plaque installed by the Yangon Heritage Trust reminds passers-by of this important piece of Burmese architectural heritage, one that would inspire many other civic buildings to come.
RANGOON — Next time, maybe the National League for Democracy will stick around until the end of the meeting.
Burma’s largest opposition party distanced itself this week from a statement by dozens of political parties that called for the signing of a nationwide ceasefire between the government and ethnic armed groups “as soon as possible,” while an NLD leader insisted the party supports the general principle of the document released on Monday.
“The National League for Democracy, ethnic parties and other parties were not involved in the statement released on August 11, 2014, by political parties that attended the meeting on peace process discussions,” read a statement from the party on Wednesday.
Representatives from the NLD apparently left the gathering of 66 of Burma’s 67 registered political parties before the meeting had adjourned, missing a voice vote on whether there were any objections to the resolution and later finding its name listed as a signatory to the document.
“The NLD does not oppose a ceasefire,” Hantha Myint, an NLD central executive committee member, told The Irrawaddy. “We are not saying we don’t want to be involved [in ceasefire negotiations]. We are just saying we were not involved in releasing that statement.”
“We are not saying not to implement a ceasefire. Nor are we saying that we are not satisfied with the [political parties’] call [for ceasefire]. We just want to say that what they did was not in line with the meeting agenda,” Hantha Myint added.
An ethnic Karen woman finds support for her illness after moving to Thailand, where she now helps run a shelter for orphans and vulnerable women.
Local residents said about 50 police officers forcibly entered the village of Nyaung Wun in Sint Gu Township on Thursday morning, where they were then confronted by a crowd of villagers at the local sporting grounds who demanded to know why they were there.
Three people were shot, with one woman seriously wounded and the other two sustaining only minor injuries, while another man was temporarily detained.
“The police gave no answer but then opened fire and Daw San Kyin Nu was injured on her leg. U Myint Kyi was arrested. Then the farmers and villagers got angry and clashed with the police,” said U Pannita, a monk who witnessed the incident.
“The police took refuge at a village school located close to the sports grounds. Villagers have surrounded the school and asked police for the release of the villager, to explain what’s going on and bring justice for the shooting,” local resident Khin Maung Tint explained.
Some police officers have since fled to safety, while most remain trapped in the schoolhouse, local residents told The Irrawaddy.
According to the villagers, the woman who was seriously wounded was transported to the city of Mandalay for treatment, while the detained villager was released.
“She was bleeding a lot as the bullet went through her leg. The hospital in Sint Gu said they could not handle her because of the heavy bleeding. Some villagers are accompanying her to Mandalay,” said a villager.
Since June, farmers from Nyaung Wun village have begun the process of plowing lands confiscated by the military in what has become an increasing common protest against land grabs in Burma.
Renewed search underway for the fabled Dhammazedi Bell [x]
The bell is named after King Dhammazedi, a Mon ruler of Hanthawaddy in Pegu who commissioned the bell to be cast in 1484. Records show it originally stood at Shwedagon Pagoda but was removed in 1608 by Filipe de Brito e Nicote, a Portuguese warlord and mercenary who ruled Syriam (now Thanlyin) across the Rangoon River.
Filipe de Brito wanted the bell to be melted down and used to make cannons but as it was being transported across the river, the boat sank under the sheer weight of it. The Dhammazedi Bell has lain at the bottom of the river for the past 400 years.
There have been many previous attempts since the 1980s to recover the bell but all have failed. Any recovery operation is extremely complex – aside from the many layers of silt build up to contend with, the site is also littered with shipwrecks.
The team have received several donations from local businesses to help their search, which will continue for the next two weeks.
Estimates on Burma’s population vary widely. Myint Kyaing said his Department of Immigration and Population has estimated it to be 60 million people, as do most media reports on Burma. The CIA World Fact Book puts the figure at about 55.7 million as of July 2014, while others estimate the headcount to be as high as 70 million.
This year’s census was marred by controversy after provisions on its questionnaire asked respondents to identify their ethnicity and religion, exposing deep-seated tensions in the multi-ethnic nation. Many Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State were not counted——the number excluded unknown, but likely to be in the hundreds of thousands—because they refused to self-identify by the government’s preferred term for the group, “Bengali.”
Separately in northern Kachin State, areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) were not counted after the government failed to secure an agreement with the ethnic rebel group to allow census enumerators access.
“Populations/Areas that are uncounted during a census are typically announced when the total population is announced,” the UNFPA said.
Burma last census was conducted more than 30 years ago, in 1983. The 12-day nationwide census was conducted this year beginning on March 30.
A statue of Pyit-Taing-Htaung which can be literally translated to “Always standing guy no matter how hard it has been thrown”. It is a famous traditional paper toy in Myanmar which always stands tall regardless the direction and action it has been thrown away. It is also a traditional inspirational symbol for those who are hardworking but with no proper achievement yet.