speaking out against Aung San Suu Kyi covering up Rohingya genocide, The Guildhall protest against "Freedom of the City Award", London, 8 May 2017

At the London School of Economic "Rule of Law Roundtable", 16 June 2012

Speaking on the Slow Burning Genocide of Rohingyas in Burma, with Professor Amartya Sen, Harvard University, Nov 2014

N. Ireland peace activist Mairead Maguire presenting Zarni with the Cultivation of Harmony Award on behalf of the Parliament of the World's Religions, Salt Lake City, USA 18 Oct 2015

Drafting the Oslo Communique calling for the end to Myanmar's Rohingya Genocide, Voksanaasen, Oslo, 27 May 2015

Giving the Annual Owen M. Kupferschmid Lecture at the Holocaust and Human Rights Project, Boston College Law School, 13 Apr 2015

The book that I really want to write as a Burmese 'patriot'

Before I die I would like to write a book with this title:

"Our Myanmar Forefathers: Their Genocides, Imperial Rape, Loot and War Crimes"

Don't steal my title if you pump out Myanmar nationalist books every so often.

Me negative?

You have not really examined, or understood the ugly Burmese realities of 1,000 years.

Democracy in Myanmar


Asia and Its Un-Even Development


Metta or Universal Loving Kindness in action: Myanmar Buddhism in practice

Understanding War and Peace in Myanmar: The West, the Myanmerse and the Chinese

The talk of peace and the acts of war and of mediation is really more about an emerging unholy trinity of manipulation, interest and deception - by the West, the Chinese and the Myanmarese - than about genuine peace and Burmese public well-being.  

There has been talk that China's influence over Myanmar is waning in light of the latter's opening-up and the wooing of Western countries. 

China's influence on not just the generals and their proxy 'civilian' government but on Burma's economy and international relations has not declined. Not at all.  

Anyone who thinks that Burma can be weaned off Beijing's sphere of influence needs only look at the fact that the generals, usually rather hostile to any type of outside intervention, would go to and/or send their negotiators to China to discuss what is essentially a sovereign internal affair - a civil war in Northern Burma. 

The Burmese regime's honeymoon with Washington is pretty much over as evidenced by the US Government's (its embassy in Rangoon) official condemnation in Burmese and English language of the regime's disproportionate use of military power against the Kachins, the blocking of humanitarian access to the Kachin war refugees, and calling the country Burma emphatically, all to the chagrin of the Burmese generals in Naypyidaw. 

As with the 6-hour negotiation and its outcome, just setting up a monitoring mechanism about the troop movements really isn't a big deal. The Kachins have absolutely no reason to trust the regime, nor do they trust it.  

The regime has stopped short of taking the Kachin headquarter because it feels it is best to squeeze every political and military concession out of the Kachin resistance when the latter is effectively under siege. 

So, I wouldn't call this existing scenario a 'progress'. 

Interestingly, the regime sent its peace negotiating team led by Aung Min who has absolutely no sway with the Ministry of Defense and staffed with its civilian cronies and proxies in the disguises of 'peace support professionals' 'witnesses' and third party 'neutral' peace supporters (for instance, the Karen leaders). 

Further, the Myanmar troops are being reinforced and many are openly being transported to the front line, rather than being called back or movements curtailed. 

It's not the first time that such peace talks are hosted in and fasciliated by China. But this time, news reports seemed to indicate a stronger willingness by China to host and facilitate the talks. What do you think are the possible reasons? 

Well, civil wars in the borderlands, however limited, always have unintended consequences and are hard to control. The Kachins are not confined to just Northernmost part of Burma, but they are also scattered across the Eastern Burma where Beijing's main local proxy in that part of the region is the United Wa State Army (UWSA). 

First, there have been reports about China giving the War troops - considered already better armed than the Kachins - more advanced weaponry in the midst of the Burmese war against the Kachin. The Wa in turn are said to have supplied the Kachin some weaponry as a matter of solidarity. So, China may be worried that if it didn't intervene to get the Burmese regime sue for some ceasefire now - rather than annihilate the Kachin resistance - their proxy UWSA might be the next target. 

Second, economically and geo-strategically, Burma is not just a logistically important place. It is a very crucial component of China's long term national - some might say imperialist - strategy to project its military power through deep sea ports along Burmese coasts, to develop the landlocked Southern Chinese provinces which border with Kachin, Wa and Shan provinces in Burna, and to build its energy security by creating an alternative oil and gas transport routes and pipelines vis-a-vis the Straits of Malacca. China has multi-billion dollar commercial projects/assets in Kachin and Shan regions only. 

Third, China may see the end of Washington-Naypyidaw honey moon as a golden opportunity to re-establish its strategic primacy in Burma. China has penetrated Burma economically, strategically, militarily and culturally in ways the United States can never even dream of. 

So, it's a matter of showing the world how vital its role is in Burma's opening up, by getting the Kachin resistance leaders and the regime's 'peace' negotiators to meet on Chinese soil and by sending MOFA officials as mediators.

The West may come with investment dollars and so-called foreign aid, but without ending Burma's civil war of 60 years no big time business nor development is conceivable. That's where China comes in.  It can intervene positively to help end the civil wars in Burma, or it can re-fuel them. 

Some believe that as Myanmar opens up further, its relations with China, which has been its biggest partner, would cool.  Such prospects have worried China, which sees strategic value in Myanmar as a logistical gateway and market for its southwestern provinces. Do you think China has cause for concern and why? 

The bottom line about peace in this foreign relations triangle of self-interested manipulation and deception is this: 

Myanmar generals are in no position to anger both Beijing and the West simultaneously. So, if they openly object to Washington's condemnation, not really over how the country is called, Burma or Myanmar, of their internal colonial war against the Kachins then they need to keep fairly contented the neighboring Pauk-Hpaw or birth-mate as the Chinese are referred to as by the Burmese politicians and generals. 

The key to understanding these issues is to fully appreciate that the Burmese generals do not really give a damn about peace as either a value or an intrinsic goal. For them, peace means near-total surrender and political neutralization of the enemies.   As such 'peace' is, to the Burmese generals, a means to some other lucrative and strategic end.
Seen in this light, no genuine peace is conceivable, let alone realizable. The West is stupidly pouring millions down the drain when it says it is supporting 'peace support initiatives' in Myanmar.  Well, that's a story for another day - and their taxpayers' money.  

10 Biggest Lies about Myanmar politics and international policies



1) President Thein Sein is a reformer who needs international support lest his reform efforts are undermined by the 'hardliners'.
2) Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is "the Voice of Hope for the Voiceless", who will be and do good, again, once elected President in 2015.
3) Western governments and international organizations are rewarding the Burmese generals for undertaking democratic reforms.
4) Foreign aid will benefit the people of Burma. 
5)  Debt forgiveness is good for the country.
6) INGOs are there to build local 'capacity' and 'civil society'.
7) Only the military can hold the Union together.
8) Myanmar is just about to enjoy peace for the first time since independence in 1948; once the Kachin resistance is brought down to its knees, it's all smooth-sailing for 'peace-builders and peace-brokers'.
9) Generals are ultra-nationalist patriots, who are undertaking 'top-down' reforms out of enlightened self-interest, not because of the grassroots pressure. 
10) Local technocrats and international supporters, as well as business interests, are helping Naypyidaw in nation building.

You may try looking beyond the veneer of these truth statements.

For instance, instead of buying into this 'generals-are-nationalists-and-patriots', how about viewing generals and ex-generals as 'resource pimps'  and self-interested bastards with too much blood on their hand, for a change.  This way of re-reading Burmese politics has an added advantage of it being verifiably correct.