Myanmar: Ongoing Updates

3 Feb 2024

I will see if KHO would be willing to contribute his opinion here re Ko Ko Gyi. Likely I’ll get a hand waved in the air which means “it is what it is and I don’t need or want to talk about it.” I met KKG at KHO’s home and may have hosted him at mine. He did some rough prison time and I don’t know if we can ascribe his positioning to that or not. From the start, Gen 88 was united in wanting to replace their govt but represented a wide spectrum of political beliefs.

1 Feb was the anniversary of the coup so there’s been a blip in mainstream media reporting.

First… a big deal in terms of all the efforts to press the US govt:
There is now a Burma Congressional Caucus.

Reuters coverage

Next, two documentarians put a beautiful piece in the New York Times -
“Our Friend Is Gone, but He Lives Through Our Resistance in Myanmar”

There’s a lot more out there as you’ve seen. The NUG have been traveling.

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8 Feb 2024

The paranoia has reared its ugly head again and the person here tried to drag me into it again. I’m worried for their mental health and their potential to set the movement back in their desire to be king of the advisors. FYI I am not advising anyone outside of these pages, not for months now. So I’m thinking of going NC. They’ve threatened to trash a local candidate simply because they hadn’t returned a phone call. Long story, but the person was totally accountable and asked me to pass that along and I had done just that. The other person doesn’t believe me. So this has been going in circles over this very petty issue and they’re threatening to go to this candidates endorsers including the top contender for a US Senate seat. You can imagine the dilemma this poses - if their behavior makes the whole community appear shortsighted, impossible to deal with or worse (it ties into the democracy movement’s greatest liability, Bamar vs. Rohingya thinking), it could set everyone who has been working together back another four years. But I’m also hopeful they’ll be seen just as they are.

Unrelated, this is a pretty good overview bringing us to the present moment and looking at the question raised since the original dictator took over in 1962 - without a strongman, will this multi-ethnic patchwork of a nation “split apart”?

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14 Feb 2024

I have a friend who’s been helping to feed info to the drone builders over there. They have -absolutely- been learning on the job and the accuracy and effectiveness of the drones has increased significantly.

The compulsory service move posted by @FGD135 is reverberating. This had been done in the past without any public declaration. After 1988, battalion troop transports would be parked outside of movie theatres and they’d grab all the young men as they were exiting. “You’re in the army now.”

It seems like a dumb move. Will the military change these young people, or will they change it?

What is happening now is that militaries that are NOT the tatmadaw but regional and supportive of the coup are using the declaration to press civilians into their own militias.

Smattering of RFA headlines…

Seven political prisoners, months in to their being taken, are discovered to have been murdered.

Teachers still being targeted and sentenced.

Thailand hoping to encourage dialogue, says it will be setting up a humanitarian safe zone to get aid to those seeking protection along its borders.

Cringy headline, but geeze…

19 Feb 2024
Caught this on Anthony Davis’ feed. Ugandans and others from the world over brought into the scam compounds in Myanmar are still stuck there. Starts at 1:26-ish.

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20 Feb 2024
Edit Mirante / Project Maje has a new report out summarizing the 2023 situation in Chin State.

This is a follow up on reports she filed in January 2023 and October 2021.

Edith has been at this a good long while and the Project Maje link above leads to quite a detailed set of histories of many different areas of Myanmar. She was kicked out of Thailand in the 1980s after showing how easy it was to get tea with the “elusive” Golden Triangle warlord Khun Sa. From the jacket of her 1994 page-turner Burmese Looking Glass:

Mirante, who has been called “one of the great adventurers of our time,” first crossed illegally from Thailand into Burma in 1983. There she discovered the hidden conflict that has despoiled the country since the close of World War II. She met commandos and refugees and became a “connoisseur of corruption,” learning firsthand the machinations of Golden Triangle narcotics trafficking. Horrified by the damage wrought on the rain forest and its inhabitants, she lobbied successfully against U.S. government donation of Agent Orange chemicals to the dictatorship.

Mirante was the first Westerner to march with the rebels from fabled Three Pagodas Pass to the Andaman Sea; she taught karate to women soldiers, was ritually tattooed by a Shan “spirit doctor,” and was deported from Thailand in 1988. She remains committed to bringing the true story of Burma to the attention of the world.

Via email she provided an exec summary of this new Chin State report from the introduction:

“Since 2021 conditions in Chin State have evolved from scattered but resolute resistance to a full scale revolution which extends to civil government in its vital functions.”

“Political unity has long been elusive in Chin State (as in other regions of Burma) so serious governance challenges will remain, despite the people’s common purpose in opposing the Myanmar coup regime and impressive military cooperation among resistance forces. Like many mountainous lands, Chin State has a long-ago history of inter-group raiding and a legacy of linguistic diversity. Distinctive traditional woven textile patterns tell a story of peoples with deeply localized identities but also with common bonds and goals. Going forward, inclusive unity will be a necessity and respect for diversity will be just as crucial.”

“2023 was eventful for Chin State and 2024 is likely to bring even more momentous changes. This year may be the start of a transformative, post-coup era for Burma and the time when the region so many know and love as Chinland can turn its attention to repair of war trauma, political representation, cultural rebirth, sustainable development and environmental preservation.”

image

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oops - had this in draft.

For a good background on the ethnic divide and how it changed shape in Post-Independence Myanmar, I want to give a shout out for a terrific book, “Miss Burma” by Charmaine Craig, daughter of the late Karen leader Naw Louisa Benson Craig who had carried that title at the age of 15, was falsely rumored to date the dictator Than Shwe and escaped a raid in which her husband, a Karen battalion commander, was assassinated - going on to lead his troops in the jungle before being persuaded by the late Glenn Craig to move with him to the US.

A one time actress herself and now a uni professor, Charmaine has a terrific voice in writing and in the audiobook which I’ve found on a library app (Hoopla I think). Louisa brought me into all of this and I was amazed at how Charmaine captured the mannerisms and expressiveness that were exclusively her mother’s.

When Louisa was testifying against Unocal, the sleazy defense tried to malign her by saying “so you are to blame for [Karen attacks, threats and general sentiment against Unocal / the Burmese regime].” Louisa (paraphrasing): “If this accusation was appropriate I wouldn’t use the term ‘blame’ but rather ‘credit.’ However, the credit is not all mine.”

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Terrific job by John Oliver re just what was going on in those scam centers.