1. Suu Kyi wants gov’t apology for violent crackdown

    Comment

    By YADANA HTUN, Associated Press
    November 30, 2012

     

    In this photo taken Thursday, Nov 29, 2012, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi , in green, listens to a injured Buddhist monks who suffered burn injuries when security forces cracked down protesters in a hospital in Monywa, northwestern Myanmar. Opposition leader Suu Kyi is urging a negotiated resolution to protests over a military-backed copper mine in northwestern Myanmar after the government’s biggest crackdown on demonstrators since reformist President Thein Sein took office last year. (AP Photo)

    MONYWA, Myanmar (AP) — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday said authorities must apologize for a violent crackdown on monks and other foes of a mine in northwest Myanmar, but she also stuck to the government’s view that the country must follow through on its commitment to build the project.

    Speaking Friday morning to a crowd of more than 10,000 in the northwestern town of Monywa, the Nobel Peace laureate said people had the right to ask why authorities cracked down so harshly on the nonviolent protesters who had occupied the nearby Letpadaung copper mine for 11 days. It was the government’s biggest crackdown on demonstrations since reformist President Thein Sein took office last year.

    Police used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs to break up the protest early Thursday. Weapons that protesters described as flare guns caused severe burns to protesters and set shelters ablaze. A nurse at a Monywa hospital said 27 monks and one other person were admitted there to be treated for burns.

    “I want to ask, ‘What was their purpose of doing this?’ Frankly, there’s no need to act like this,” Suu Kyi said. People in the crowd shouted back: “Right!”

    “I’m not saying this to agitate people,” she continued. “I never persuade people by agitating. I explain to people so that they can decide by thinking.”

    Associated Press/Gemunu Amarasinghe – Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi reaches for supporters as she leaves after a public meeting close to Letpadaung mine in Monywa, northwestern Myanmar, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Suu Kyi is urging a negotiated resolution to protests over a military-backed copper mine in northwestern Myanmar after the government’s biggest crackdown on demonstrators since reformist President Thein Sein took office last year. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    In remarks to reporters Friday, Suu Kyi said the authorities “need to apologize to the monks.”

    Yet she has taken a soft line on the broader conflict over the expanding mine, which protesters say is damaging the environment and forcing villagers to move without adequate compensation.

    She noted that many people asked her to help stop the project at once, but said she did not know details of the original contract and a parliamentary investigating committee had yet to do its work.

    She went on to suggest that Myanmar should honor the contracts establishing the project, especially since they involved a neighboring country. The mine is a joint venture between a military-controlled holding company and a Chinese mining company.

    She said that even in some cases where the people’s interest was not taken into account, the agreement should be followed “so that the country’s image will not be hurt.”

    Senior government officials have said the protesters’ demands to stop operating the mine risk scaring off foreign investment in Myanmar’s long-neglected economy.

    Now serving in parliament after years as a political prisoner of the long-ruling junta, Suu Kyi received a hero’s welcome in Monywa. Her visit had been scheduled before the crackdown, and she has said she will try to negotiate a solution to the conflict over the mine.
    On Thursday she met mining company officials, activists and injured protesters, and she met security officials Friday.

    The crackdown is a big blot on the government’s efforts to woo popular support, especially because many of the targets were monks, who are admired for their social activism as much as they are revered for their spiritual beliefs in deeply religious Myanmar.

    The previous military government infamously cracked down violently on monks who were leading the 2007 pro-democracy protests that came to be known as the “Saffron Revolution,” from the color of their robes.

    Monks in Myanmar’s two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, staged small nonviolent protests Friday.

    The Upper Myanmar Monks organization in Mandalay issued a statement calling on the government to formally apologize for the action within five days, to provide sufficient health care for those who were injured and to release seven monks they say were detained.

    U Withuta, a prominent activist monk who is a member of the group, said more than 40 monks were hurt, some seriously and at risk of losing their eyesight. He said he was lightly burned on the thigh.

    “We wanted to forget what happened in 2007 and proceed forward, but what happened yesterday was like opening an old wound,” Withuta said. He said it was premature to say what the monks would do if their demands were not met.

    Citizen activism has increased since the elected government took over last year. Street demonstrations have been legalized, and are generally tolerated, though detentions have occurred in sensitive cases.

    Political and economic liberalization under Thein Sein has won praise from Western governments, which have eased sanctions imposed on the previous military government because of its poor record on human and civil rights.

    The Letpadaung mine is a joint venture between China’s Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd. and the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. Many in Myanmar remain suspicious of the military and see China as an aggressive and exploitive investor that helped support its rule.

    In Yangon, more than 30 monks who staged a peaceful protest at downtown Sule pagoda, were joined by nearly 100 people who chanted prayers in front of the office of the army’s holding company.

    “May all be free from harm, may all be peaceful and may the Letpadaung mountains be green,” they chanted in the Friday dusk.

  2. Burma cracks down on mine protest

    Comment

    Associated Press, November 30, 2012

     

    Crackdown … this Buddhist monk suffered burn injuries when police fired water cannon and tear-gas at villagers and monks protesting against a Chinese-backed copper mine, in Monywa, northern Myanmar on Thursday. Photo: STR

     

    MONYWA, BURMA: Security forces have used water cannon, tear-gas and smoke bombs to clear protesters from a copper mine in northwestern Burma.

    Villagers and Buddhist monks were injured in the violence, which was the biggest use of force against demonstrators since the reformist government of President Thein Sein took office last year.

    Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who arrived in the area on a scheduled visit, said she would try to negotiate a solution.

    In a statement broadcast on state television, the government initially acknowledged using the riot-control measures but denied using excessive force. In an unusual move, it later retracted the statement without explanation.

    Monks and other protesters had serious burns after the crackdown at the Letpadaung mine near the town of Monywa. Protesters who oppose the mine’s impact on villagers and the environment had occupied the area for 11 days.

    “I didn’t expect to be treated like this, as we were peacefully protesting,” said Aung Myint Htway, a peanut farmer whose face and body were covered with black patches of burnt skin.

    The police action is a public relations and political disaster for Thein Sein’s government, which has been touting its transition to democracy after almost five decades of repressive military rule.

    “This is unacceptable,” said Ottama Thara, a 25-year-old monk who was at the protest. “This kind of violence should not happen under a government that says it is committed to democratic reforms.”

    Police moved early on Thursday to disperse protesters after some heeded earlier warnings to leave.

    “Around 2.30am police announced they would give us five minutes to leave,” Aung Myint Htway said. He said police fired water cannon first and then shot what he and others called flare guns.

    “They fired black balls that exploded into fire sparks. They shot about six times. People ran away and they followed us,” he said, still writhing hours later from pain. “It’s very hot.”

    Photos of the wounded monks showed they had serious burns on parts of their bodies. It was unclear what sort of weapon caused them, or whether the burns were caused by their shelters catching fire from whatever devices police used.

  3. Suu Kyi’s Silence on Rohingya Draws Rare Criticism

    Comment

    By Jocelyn Gecker
    BANGKOK August 16, 2012 (AP)

     

    She is known as the voice of Myanmar’s downtrodden but there is one oppressed group that Aung San Suu Kyi does not want to discuss.

    For weeks, Suu Kyi has dodged questions on the plight of a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, prompting rare criticism of the woman whose struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and adoration worldwide.

    Human rights groups have expressed disappointment, noting that the United Nations has referred to the Rohingya — widely reviled by the Buddhist majority in Myanmar — as among the most persecuted people on Earth. They say Suu Kyi could play a crucial role in easing the hatred in Myanmar and in making the world pay more attention to the Rohingya.

    Analysts and activists say that Suu Kyi’s stance marks a new phase in her career: The former political prisoner is now a more calculating politician who is choosing her causes carefully.

    “Politically, Aung San Suu Kyi has absolutely nothing to gain from opening her mouth on this,” said Maung Zarni, a Myanmar expert and visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. “She is no longer a political dissident trying to stick to her principles. She’s a politician and her eyes are fixed on the prize, which is the 2015 majority Buddhist vote.”

    FILE – In this June 13, 2012 file photo, a Rohingya Muslim man who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, cries as he pleads from a boat after he and others were intercepted by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh. She is known as the voice of Myanmar’s downtrodden but there is one oppressed group that Aung San Suu Kyi does not want to discuss. For weeks, Suu Kyi has dodged questions on the plight of a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, prompting rare criticism of the woman whose struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and adoration worldwide. (AP Photo/Anurup Titu, File)

     

    The Rohingya have been denied citizenship even though many of their families have lived in Myanmar for generations. The U.N. estimates that 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar where they face heavy-handed restrictions: They need permission to marry, have more than two children and travel outside of their villages.

    Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be illegal migrants from Bangladesh but Bangladesh also rejects them, rendering them stateless.

    Long-standing resentment between the Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists erupted in bloody fury in western Rakhine state in June. They attacked each other with spears and machetes and went on rampages burning homes and razing entire villages. Human Rights Watch estimates that 100,000 people were displaced by the fighting and says the government’s tally of 78 dead is “undoubtedly conservative.”

    Rights groups claim the government did little to stop the violence initially and then turned its security forces on the Rohingya with targeted killings, rapes, mass arrests and torture.

    Most of the world’s outrage has come from the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia has accused Myanmar of launching an “ethnic cleansing campaign” and King Abdullah announced Saturday he would donate $50 million in aid to the Rohingya in Myanmar. Islamic hard-liners in Indonesia and Pakistan have threatened attacks against the Myanmar government.

    The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the violence at a summit this week and said it will present its concerns to the upcoming U.N. General Assembly.

    But the outrage stops at Myanmar’s borders. A tide of nationalist sentiment against the Rohingya has put Suu Kyi in a no-win situation.

    Speaking up for the Rohingya would risk alienating Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and angering the government at a time when Suu Kyi and her opposition party are trying to consolidate political gains attained after they entered Parliament for the first time in April.
    By not speaking up, she has offended some of her staunchest supporters in the international community — the very groups who lobbied tirelessly for her freedom during 15 years of house arrest. Though, many are cautious about directly criticizing Suu Kyi, who is hailed as a human rights superhero and often called the Gandhi of this generation.

    Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch called it “unfortunate” that Suu Kyi did not confront the issue during her triumphant tour of Europe in June, shortly after the violence occurred.

    At news conferences in Geneva, Dublin and Paris, Suu Kyi dodged journalists’ questions about the Rohingya by giving vague, scripted answers about a need for “rule of law” in Myanmar.

    “The root of the problem is lack of rule of law,” Suu Kyi said in Dublin, seated beside the rock star Bono at a news conference.

    Asked if the Rohingya should be granted Myanmar citizenship, the Oxford-educated Suu Kyi replied: “I don’t know.”

    Canadian-based academic Abid Bahar, a Bangladesh-born expert on Myanmar’s ethnic groups, said he was “shocked” by Suu Kyi’s failure to take a more principled stand.

     

    FILE – In this June 20, 2012 file, a Rohingya Muslim girl sits at an unauthorized camp that houses Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled Myanmar during an ethnic strife in 1992 in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. She is known as the voice of Myanmar’s downtrodden but there is one oppressed group that Aung San Suu Kyi does not want to discuss. For weeks, Suu Kyi has dodged questions on the plight of a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, prompting rare criticism of the woman whose struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and adoration worldwide. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das, File)

    “As a Nobel Peace Prize winner she has a big role to play, to work as a conscience for humanity, which she has ignored,” Bahar said. “I thought she was the only person the Rohingya could depend on.”

    President Thein Sein’s popularity at home has surged since the June crackdown, analysts say. Many in Myanmar rallied behind his proposal in July to send all of Myanmar’s Rohingya to any country “willing to take them,” a suggestion quickly shot down by the U.N. refugee agency.

    “This is an unexpected difficulty that we have faced in our march to democracy,” Thein Sein said in an interview with Voice of America broadcast this week. He denied accusations of genocide from Muslim countries, saying that images posted online showing piles of bodies were “fabrications” and from “incidents that happened in other countries, not here.”

    Thein Sein has won widespread praise for introducing a wave of reforms since taking office last year, following decades of repressive rule. But the United Nations and others say the violence in Rakhine state shows Myanmar still has a long way to go, and needs to place human rights at the top of its reforms.

    “The situation in (Rakhine) state is giving the so-called new Burma a black eye — in the eyes of the international community,” said Robertson of Human Rights Watch.

    “As a political leader with moral authority, Suu Kyi should take this on,” he said. “No one is saying she can dictate policy to the government, but if she speaks out everyone will pay attention.”

     

    Associated Press writer Xinyan Yu contributed to this report.


Live & Die for Buddhism

candle

Maha Ghosananda

Maha Ghosananda

Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism (5/23/1913 - 3/12/07). Forever in my heart...

Problems we face today

jendhamuni pink scarfnature

Of the many problems we face today, some are natural calamities and must be accepted and faced with equanimity. Others, however, are of our own making, created by misunderstanding, and can be corrected...

Major Differences

Major Differences in Buddhism

Major Differences in Buddhism: There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgement Day ...read more

My Reflection

My Reflection

This site is a tribute to Buddhism. Buddhism has given me a tremendous inspiration to be who and where I am today. Although I came to America at a very young age, however, I never once forget who I am and where I came from. One thing I know for sure is I was born as a Buddhist, live as a Buddhist and will leave this earth as a Buddhist. I do not believe in superstition. I only believe in karma.

A Handful of Leaves

A Handful of Leaves

Tipitaka: The pali canon (Readings in Theravada Buddhism). A vast body of literature in English translation the texts add up to several thousand printed pages. Most -- but not all -- of the Canon has already been published in English over the years. Although only a small fraction of these texts are available here at Access to Insight, this collection can nonetheless be a very good place to start.

Just the way it is

1. Accept everything just the way it is.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor... read more