Authors: Christina Fink
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
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
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
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
978 1 78032 830 0
Between pages 112 and 113
Between pages 208 and 209
All photographs are by Nic Dunlop/Panos Pictures
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.
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’.
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions
All Burma Monks’ Alliance
All Burma Students’ Democratic Front
Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League
Association of South-East Asian Nations
British Broadcasting Corporation
Burma Socialist Programme Party
Chin National Front
Chin National League for Democracy
Communist Party of Burma
Committee Representing the People’s Parliament
Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence
Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
Democratic Party for a New Society
Democratic Voice of Burma
government-organized non-governmental organization
International Committee of the Red Cross
International Labour Organization
Kachin Independence Organization (armed wing: Kachin Independence Army)
Kuomintang (anti-communist Chinese force)
Karenni State Nationalities People’s Liberation Front
Karenni National Progressive Party
Karen National Union (armed wing: Karen National Liberation Army)
Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association
Myanmar Women’s Entrepreneurial Association
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
National League for Democracy
New Mon State Party (armed wing: Mon National Liberation Army)
National Unity Party
People’s Volunteer Organization
Radio Free Asia
Rangoon Institute of Technology
State Law and Order Restoration Council
Shan Nationalities League for Democracy
Shan State Nationalities People’s Liberation Organization
State Peace and Development Council
Shan State Army
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
United Nationalities League for Democracy
Union Solidarity and Development Association
United Wa State Army
Voice of America