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Authors: Christina Fink

Living Silence in Burma

BOOK: Living Silence in Burma
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About the author

 

Christina Fink is a program associate and lecturer at the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute and program coordinator and lecturer in the Foreign Affairs Training Program, Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is also honorary assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Hong Kong.

LIVING SILENCE IN BURMA

Surviving under military rule

 

Christina Fink

 

second edition

 

Zed Books

LONDON
|
NEW YORK

Living silence in Burma: surviving under military rule
, second edition, was first published in 2009 by Zed Books Ltd, 7 Cynthia Street, London
N1 9JF, UK
and Room 400, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York,
NY 10010, USA

This ebook edition was first published in 2013

www.zedbooks.co.uk

Copyright © Christina Fink 2001, 2009

The right of Christina Fink to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

Set in OurType Arnhem and Futura Bold by Ewan Smith, London
Cover designed by Rogue Four Design
Index:
[email protected]

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of Zed Books Ltd.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data available

ISBN
978 1 78032 830 0

Contents

 

Illustrations

Acknowledgements

Author’s note

Acronyms

Glossary

Maps

 

Introduction

  
1
   Historical legacies

  
2
   The Ne Win years, 1962–88

  
3
   Breaking the silence, 1988–90

  
4
   Military rule continues, 1990–2000

  
5
   The Than Shwe years, 2000 and beyond

  
6
   Families: fostering conformity

  
7
   Communities: going with the flow

  
8
   The military: a life sentence

  
9
   Prison: ‘life university’

10
   Education: floating books and bathroom tracts

11
   The artistic community: in the dark, every cat is black

12
   Religion and magic: disappearing jewels and poltergeists

13
   The internationalization of Burma’s politics

14
   Conclusion: a different Burma

 

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Illustrations

 

Between pages 112 and 113

  
1  Farmers transplanting rice in Rangoon Division, 1996

  
2  A procession of boys who are about to be ordained as novice monks and their relatives, Thaton, Mon State, 2000

  
3  A Karenni mass in a refugee camp on the Thai–Burma border, 2007

  
4  Novice monks studying in a monastery near Mandalay, 1996

  
5  Aung San Suu Kyi speaking from her gate, 1996

  
6  Armed Forces Day parade in Naypyidaw, 2007

  
7  A young Burmese soldier at a train station in Kachin State, 1998

  
8  A policeman watching monks walk by in Nyaung Shwe, Shan State, 2005

 

Between pages 208 and 209

  
9  Students leaving their high school near Mrauk U, Arakan State, 2006

10  A tea shop with a sign urging discipline in the background, Pa-an, Karen State, 1998

11  Villagers undertaking forced labour, Pegu Division, 2000

12  Insein Prison, where many political prisoners are held, just outside Rangoon, 2006

13  A man praying at Shwedagon Pagoda, Rangoon, 2006

14  A woman having her palm read, Rangoon, 2006

15  Organizing newspapers for delivery, Rangoon, 1996

16  Newly arrived refugees awaiting treatment for malaria and tuberculosis, Thai–Burma border, 1992

 

All photographs are by Nic Dunlop/Panos Pictures

Acknowledgements

 

First and foremost, I would like to thank those who shared their stories with me. For some it was a painful experience, bringing up feelings of suffering and loss. For others it was risky, because to speak against the government is a crime in Burma. Unfortunately I could not include everyone’s stories here, but each and every one helped me to understand Burma better. I would also like to express my gratitude to all who helped to arrange interviews for me, to those who interpreted and translated interviews, often at short notice and late hours, and to those who have answered so many questions for me over the past several years. Although I would like to name everyone here, for their safety, I cannot.

I am grateful to Nic Dunlop for working with me to create the photo essay, to Ko Sitt Nyein Aye for allowing me to use the title of one of his articles, ‘In the dark, every cat is black’, as a chapter title, and to Ko Maing Kyaw Khin for agreeing to let me use one of his cartoons. Also to Ko Mun Awng for his song of defiance, and to the former political prisoner who shared his song of sadness with me. Thanks to Moe Kyaw for making the maps and to Ko Zaw Oo and U Aung Saw Oo for their help in reconstructing a list of student protests and school closures from 1962 to 1999.

The book has benefited greatly from the comments and suggestions made by several people who read earlier drafts; most especially, Hadley Arnold, Nancy Chen, Min Zin, Josef Silverstein, Martin Smith, NC, and Win Min, as well as CT, Mathea Falco, KK and UTZ. Needless to say, any mistakes are my responsibility alone.

I am deeply grateful to the Open Society Institute for providing me with a fellowship to research and write this book. Robert Molteno, my editor, was also wonderfully supportive. And Chris Beyrer and Edith Mirante gave me much helpful advice throughout the writing process.

I am indebted to Maureen Aung-Thwin, who first stimulated my interest in Burma with her infectious enthusiasm. And I will never forget the Burmese residents of the two houses where I was based while conducting much of my research. Their generosity, good humour and fantastic cooking deepened an already great love for Burma.

For the second edition, I would like to thank my editor, Tamsine O’Riordan, for her helpful suggestions, and Win Min for all his assistance during the interviews and the writing process.

Author’s note

 

Burmese prefixes

In Burma it is polite to put a prefix in front of the name of the person to whom one is talking. The speaker chooses the prefix according to the age of the other person, relative to one’s own age. Thus if a woman’s name were Mee Mee, and she were about forty years old, a girl would call her ‘Daw Mee Mee’, but someone in his or her thirties would call that same woman ‘Ma Mee Mee’.

Daw – for aunts, older women

U – for uncles, older men

Ma – for older sisters, women slightly older than oneself

Ko – for older brothers, men slightly older than oneself

Nyi ma – for younger sisters, girls

Maung – for younger brothers, boys

There are also specialized terms for military officers, teachers, doctors and abbots which are put in front of individuals’ respective names.

A note on pronunciation

‘ky’ is pronounced ‘ch’, thus ‘kyi’, as in the name Aung San Suu Kyi, is pronounced ‘chee’.

‘gy’ is pronounced ‘j’, thus ‘gyi’ is pronounced ‘jee’.

‘ye’ is pronounced ‘yay’.

‘we’ is pronounced ‘way’, thus ‘shwe’ is pronounced ‘shway’.

Acronyms

 

AAPP

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

ABFSU

All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions

ABMA

All Burma Monks’ Alliance

ABSDF

All Burma Students’ Democratic Front

AFPFL

Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League

ASEAN

Association of South-East Asian Nations

BBC

British Broadcasting Corporation

BSPP

Burma Socialist Programme Party

CNF

Chin National Front

CNLD

Chin National League for Democracy

CPB

Communist Party of Burma

CRPP

Committee Representing the People’s Parliament

DDSI

Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence

DKBA

Democratic Karen Buddhist Army

DPNS

Democratic Party for a New Society

DVB

Democratic Voice of Burma

GONGO

government-organized non-governmental organization

ICRC

International Committee of the Red Cross

ILO

International Labour Organization

KIO

Kachin Independence Organization (armed wing: Kachin Independence Army)

KMT

Kuomintang (anti-communist Chinese force)

KNPLF

Karenni State Nationalities People’s Liberation Front

KNPP

Karenni National Progressive Party

KNU

Karen National Union (armed wing: Karen National Liberation Army)

MI

military intelligence

MMCWA

Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association

MWEA

Myanmar Women’s Entrepreneurial Association

NCGUB

National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma

NGO

non-governmental organization

NLD

National League for Democracy

NMSP

New Mon State Party (armed wing: Mon National Liberation Army)

NUP

National Unity Party

PVO

People’s Volunteer Organization

RFA

Radio Free Asia

RIT

Rangoon Institute of Technology

SLORC

State Law and Order Restoration Council

SNLD

Shan Nationalities League for Democracy

SNPLO

Shan State Nationalities People’s Liberation Organization

SPDC

State Peace and Development Council

SSA

Shan State Army

UNDP

United Nations Development Programme

UNICEF

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund

UNLD

United Nationalities League for Democracy

USDA

Union Solidarity and Development Association

UWSA

United Wa State Army

VOA

Voice of America

BOOK: Living Silence in Burma
4.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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