An Open Letter to Myanmar's Leaders (English translation of the long Burmese original)

Senior General (rtd.) Than Shwe
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
President Thein Sein
Commander-in-Chief SG Min Aung Hlaing 

7 December 2015 

Mingalaba (Greetings!)
As a Burmese I am heartened to hear the news of the four leaders working diligently to end half a century of authoritarian rule and usher in a democratic transition. 

Both the public at home and the international media can be heard applauding your admirable efforts to prevent what could have been the latest in Burma’s bloody political tradition of the changing of the guard, whereby the usurper ‘ate’ the sitting one’s ‘head’ – as we say in Burmese. Like many Burmese I very much welcome the prospect of the Old Guard transferring power to the National League for Democracy (NLD) which unmistakably enjoys a broad mandate from the national electorate. 

It is against this auspicious backdrop that I call to your attention the two major issues that concern our nation of multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities; first, the long-running civil war against non-Bamar or Myanmar peoples, and second, the slow genocide of the Rohingya. 

This is in accord with the right of a citizen to express his or her concern and in keeping with our Burmese customs of speaking out on matters that warrant public discussion, however unpopular or unpalatable the subject may be. 

First, my brief background. 

In the last 27 years, I had supported, alternately, both the democratic opposition led by the NLD and the ruling State Peace and Development Council. I was very actively involved in making the NLD’s call for western sanctions and consumer boycott of Myanmar’s military government and all its western business associates and partners until 2004. When I was able to snap out of my initial naivety about the ‘pro-democracy’ policies and the motives of Western governments I broke ranks with the NLD-led opposition and openly advocated for the reconciliation and good-faith cooperation with the authoritarian rulers. I did so while having anticipated fully the extremely negative repercussions emanating out of my criticism of the sanctions orthodoxy – which I myself supported - held rigidly by the NLD and its supporters, both at home and worldwide. 

After long years of continuous activism, I have lost my confidence in either camp to usher in a genuine process of democratization for our country I decided to simply mind my own business of working as an academic and to put my root down overseas. However, I feel compelled to remain political engaged because of the two aforementioned troubling issues of national importance: the unceasing war against ethnic minorities and vacuuming of the regions that are homes to these non-Myanmar ethnic communities at great communal cost to them, and the decades-long persecution of the entire Rohingya community of more than 1 million. 

As a country, we must end this bloody civil war that the Tatmadaw has been waging ferociously and ruthlessly, using even the airstrikes, against our own ethnic brethren during which the lives of the millions have been destroyed, communities terrorized. Equally important, we must end what is credibly and increasingly commonly viewed as a national policy of genocide against the Rohingya. After all, the Rohingya are the only ethnic group that is completely peaceful, with absolutely no armed front or violent resistance movement. What the state in Myanmar and the country at large are doing is de-legitimizing and denying their self-chosen ethnic name and identity. I must remind you all that successive governments since independence – the parliamentary democracy government of Prime Minister U Nu, the Caretaker Government of General Ne Win, the Union Government of Prime Minister U Nu and again the early Revolutionary Council Government of General Win had officially and verifiably recognized the Rohingya as an ethnic group of our country living in their ancestral land – the borderlands between post-WWII new nation-states of former Burma/Myanmar and former East Pakistan/Bangladesh. 

As a matter of fact, in less than a year after our country’s independence from Britain, the Rohingya leaders officially sent a written letter (dated 9 December 1948) to the country’s first Prime Minister U Nu, the 2nd in command after the martyred U Aung San in the ruling party of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) establishing that their distinct ethnic community of Rohingya were integral and constitutive pocket of the newly independent Union of Burma, rejecting the view that they wanted to be a part of the predominantly Muslim country of Pakistan next door, and registering their intent and desire to remain a part of Burma and pledging their unwavering allegiance to the new country. Furthermore, the same official letter - which the Special Branch of the Ministry of Home Affairs archived at the then seat of the Union/Central Government, namely the Secretariat – expressed their willingness to live peacefully side by side with the majority Buddhist Rakhines whom the letter addressed as “our brethren”. What the Rohingya asked for from the Union Government of U Nu was that the Rohingya communities and region be organized under a single administration because of the demographic concentration – estimated at 90% Rohingya - in the northern most 3 townships of Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Rathae Daung. The Rohingya asked, additionally, they be not governed regionally or locally, under the Rakhines who were a tiny minority in the predominantly Rohingya region in order to preempt the emergence of an apartheid-like scenario. Instead the Rohingya requested the Union Government in Rangoon to administer them centrally, a request that was accepted around 11960s - after the Rohingya had gone through much troubles, including launching an armed movement under the banner of Mujahideens which eventually ‘exchanged arms for peace’ and official recognition of their ethnic identity. There is a mountain of archived official documentation to this effect including in the Army’s own publication “Khit Yay or Current Affairs (July 1961 issue). [Tatmadaw’s (military’s) own psychological warfare department ran popular magazines and journals under U Chit Hlaing (later the Chief Instructor of the influential Central School of Political Science where the retired Senior General Than Shwe worked an instructor) and writer and journalist U Saw Oo]. 

Dear Leaders, 
a​llow me to be blunt here. 

These two national issues of main concern here – the Tatmadaw’s war against the non-Bama armed resistance movements (and respective ethnic communities) and the slow genocide of the Rohingya – amount to the crimes of national significance, committed by successive military and political leaders including the Founder of the military rule the late General Ne Win, if we look them against the State’s own official documentation and factual historical evidence. Additionally, from our Buddhist perspective, our treatment of these communities are totally anti-Dharma, devoid of conscience, compassion and integrity. We must acknowledge them honestly as our collective national crimes against our own non-Burmese and/or non-Buddhist fellow citizens. 

As Bama or Myanmar we would do well if we remember, accurately, that the modern nation-state of Burma out of the clutches of Britain’s colonial rule resulted from the voluntary association among disparate ethnic communities who now form a part of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar. Those non-Bama ethnic groups agreed to join us, the majority Burmese/Bama/Myanmar, on the sole basis of the promise of ethnic equality and power-sharing given them by our national leader the late U Aung San, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s father barely 6 months before his assassination in July 1947. When I was helping archive the Burma papers for Cornell University Southeast Asia Collection left by my late friend Louis Walinsky in Washington, DC, the well-known economic Adviser in residence to the Union of Burma (1953-58) and a Cornellian, I read a personally hand-written letter by the late Mahadevi Sao Hein Kham, the 4th wife of the first Union President Sao Shwe Thaike, addressed to Mr Walinsky. In the letter written in her exile in Canada, she explained to Mr Walinsky that it was U Aung San himself who took the initiative to offer the initially reluctant non-Bama representatives from the Kachin, the Karenni, the Chin, the Shan, etc. the guaranteed right to self-determination in the form of secession from the soon-to-be Union of Burma, after the trial period of 10 years of of peaceful co-existence and cooperation in nation-building. According to Mahadevi, this was meant as a concrete measure of confidence building so that the non-Burmese ethnic communities would hold hands with the dominant Bama majority enabling Aung San and others to present the British government a united front in their demands for complete independence as a single unified colonized people. 

(Mahadevi was in charge of the Hospitalities Committee at the Panlong or Pin-lone Conference which produced the famous Panlong Agreement on the basis of which the British agreed to grant the colonized peoples of Burma independence and our Union was in effect founded. Her own husband President Sao Shwe Thaike himself was a signatory to this Agreement. If he so wishes, President Thein Sein can double-check on this with her youngest son Mr Harn Yanghwe who serves as his adviser on ceasefire negotiations with the non-Bama ethnic organizations.) 

When U Aung San and key members of his post-WWII cabinet under the British Governor, including the highly respected Muslim leader U Razak were murdered on 19 July 1947, those colleagues and deputies of U Aung San blatantly broke his most important promise - and pledge – of fair power-sharing arrangement anchored in the principle of equality among main ethnic groups. 

It would be fair to say that it is the political dishonesty and failure to uphold the founding agreement on the part of our own Bama or Myanmar political and military leaders that gave birth to the multi-ethnic armed revolts throughout the country. The civil war, however limited to certain borderlands of the country, has been raging on for the last nearly 70 years. 

The non-Myanmar communities experience the Tatmadaw's nation-building measures nothing short of internal Bama colonialism similar to Britain’s "pacification campaign" of the highlands in 1890's. 

Even our National Day celebrations are an affront to them. For they have their own respective national days and martyrs which we choose not to acknowledge. 

Likewise, the government’s systematic attempts to wipe out the Rohingya,in terms of their social, political and economic foundations, as well as their literal existence have been going on for almost 40 years 

Likewise, the government’s systematic attempts to w​ipe out the Rohingya, both in terms of their cultural, social, political and economic foundations of their literal existence have been going on for nearly 4 decades. 

The first national crime resulted from the betrayal of U Aung San’s genuinely federalist vision of an multi-ethnic Union while the second stemmed from the fact that General Ne Win, the founder of the military rule, trashed his own agreement and consent. 

The second national crime was actually the direct outcome of the 180 degree reversal towards the Rohingya – by the late General (later U) Ne Win. During his tenure as Prime Minister of the Caretaker Government as well as the country’s most powerful Minister of Defence, it was Gener​al​ Ne Win he tasked the efforts by his senior deputies such as Brigadier Aung Gyi, then Vice Chief of Staff (Army), Colonel Saw Myint, Lt-Colonel Kyaw Soe, Lt-Colonel Ye Gaung, etc. to address the grievances of the Rohingya community and extinguish the flames of Rohingya armed rebellion. Brigadier Aung Gyi led the efforts successfully and the Rohingya ‘exchanged arms for peace’ – to use the army’s official descriptor for surrender. In July 1961, the Mujahideens surrendered to the Tatmadaw leaders in a well-documented and publicised ceremony and made the pledges of allegiance to live as peaceful and law abiding citizens of the Union of Burma. Consequently, the government accorded them not only full citizenships with all the rights but also the official recognition as an ethnic nationality – Taiyintha or the children of the soil – of Burma, allocated them as a slot on the sole national broadcasting service – called Burma Broadcasting Service alongside other indigenous language programs such as Lahu, Shan and Mon whereby the Rohingya language broadcast was made thrice-weekly. Besides, the Burma Encyclopedia, the official publication of the central government, included a lengthy entry under the Burmese alphabet Ma “Mayu Administrative District”: there the northern most Rakhine State bordering with the then East Pakistan was officially described as the predominantly Muslim Rohingya geographic region, a historical homeland of the people so-named. 

At the time of the creation of the Mayu Administrative District (under the direct command of the Ministry of Defence) in 1961, my own close relative – my mother’s late uncle – namely Major Ant Kywe served as the deputy administrator of the Mayu District under Lt-Colonel Ye Khaung, the Chief of the Supreme Command of All Burma Armed Forces units in Rakhine State. 

All the details pertaining to the Rohingya political settlement was written up and published some 30 years later in the early 1990’s by the architect of the Mujahideen (the armed Rohingya rebellion) surrender, namely the retired Brigadier Aung Gyi, the 2nd in command of the entire Armed Forces under General Ne Win. Aung Gyi in fact prefaced his article by saying that what he knew as a matter of fact, thanks to his own first-hand involvement, must be recorded most truthfully, whatever the prevailing public or official opinion years on. 

To digress a bit, my own great uncle – Major Ant Kywe – joined the Burma Army in Mandalay during the anti-Fascist era, was awarded the highest recognition (Resistance Fighter, First Class) and subsequently conferred by the Union of Burma Government the (feudal) title Zeya Kyaw Htin. He served under one of General Ne Win’s deputies, Brigadier Sein Win, in the Burma Rifle Number 1. At the time of the Rohingya political settlement in 1961, President Thein Sein (Defense Services Academy In-Take 9) and Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (Defense Services Academy In-Take 19) must have been in high school and a kindergarten respectively. 

Returning to Brigadier Aung Gyi’s published records, let me quote at length one of the most crucial passage which unequivocally establish the official existence and, emphatically, official recognition of the Rohingya as an ethnic group – going beyond the oft-cited (international) ‘right to self-identify’:

“In those days, the War Office (of the Tatmadaw) had to pay a very close attention to Buthidaung and Maung Daw townships, just like today’s War Office is paying a close attention to the border regions with Thailand. Eventually, the Rohingya warriors (Mujahideens) gave up their armed rebellion. In the discussion that ensued during the Surrender Ceremony they made a specific request to the army representatives: that we don’t address or refer to their people in ways they consider racist and derogatory. Specifically, the Rohingya leaders asked us not to call the Rohingya “Khaw Taw”, nor “Bengali”, nor Chittagonian Kalar (niggers), nor “Rakhine Muslims”. Instead they said their preferred and self-referential ethnic name was the Arabic word Rohingya (meaning the Easterners – east of the old Bengal). In terms of the administrative name of their region, they proposed a completely secular term which is devoid of any religious connotations (namely Mayu after the river Mayu). This matter was subsequently brought to the attention of the senior most leadership at the War Office in Rangoon who discussed the Rohingya leaders’ requests and proposals thoroughly. The War Office agreed to the Rohingya’s proposal – about both their ethnic name and the name of their administrative region based on the other historical and contemporary cases where indigenous ethnic groups chose their own preferred group names and identities. The examples include the British colonial term La-Wa people, which the subject people of Wa rejected as their real name, thus proposing successfully to the Union Government to call them only the Wa. Likewise the ethnic people we call Mon today used to be known and referred to as “Talaing” (a derogatory term, from their perspective). (At the Mon’s insistence, their ethnic name change came to be ccepted officially and popularly)…. The War Office agreed to organize the two majority Rohingya towns – Buthidaung and Maungdaw – into a single administrative district which was to be directly commanded by the War office (Ministry of Defense) as part of the Tatmadaw’s wider strategic border affairs paradigm (where “development” was pursued as a tool to combat ethnic rebellions). This arrangement by the War Office was subsequently officially approved by the Cabinet, thus having given birth to the Administrative Region of Mayu and resulting in the official recognition of the Rohingya as an ethnic group and name.”

(Reference: Retired Brigadier General Aung Gyi, “The Rohingya Problem That I was Personally Involved in Resolving”, the newsletter of the Union Nationals Development Party, Rangoon, February 1992, page.8). 

Noteworthy is the fact that the very first batch of the Defense Services Academy graduates were just freshly minted officers. One of them – namely Captain Maung Thaung, a close deputy of the retired Senior General Than Shwe, was only a personal staff officer to the author – the then Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Brigadier General Aung Gyi. Under the previous military government of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), U Thaung served as the Minister of Science and was involved in the military’s nuclear projects. He is still alive, and he will most definitely be able to verify what his then VIP boss – Aung Gyi – recorded in writing about the Rohingya affairs, if he is prepared to speak about the Rohingya truthfully. 

Moving on, today credible allegations of genocide – a collaborative crime by the central government and the ultra-nationalist Rakhine leaders – are have their roots in the late General Ne Win himself breaking in the late 1970’s the past official political settlements and arrangements secured by his own senior most deputies, endorsed by both the Ministry of Defense and the highest executive branch – the Cabinet. (To dissect the idea and the international law pertaining to genocide, there are 5 clearly defined acts of genocide, and the (direct) killing of members of a group on the sole basis of ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality is only one of them. There are 4 other acts of genocide that are considered integral to the “intentional destruction” of the group, “both in whole or in part”. The Nobel Prize winner and Harvard Professor Amartya Sen is a former teacher of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi when she was first studying at Delhi University and considers himself a close friend of her late husband Dr Michael Aris. In endorsing publicly my own research findings that what our Buddhist country is doing to the Rohingya amounts to “the slow burning genocide”, Professor Sen pointed out how Myanmar is destroying the Rohingya through non-direct killing such as “denying them medicine and medical treatment, the right to jobs/livelihoods to earn their own living, denying them proper access to food, denying them legality, etc. – all with the verifiable intent to destroy the group and its existence. He told me that seated right next to her at the dinner in her honor he had gently and diplomatically asked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to be “the leader of the nation, meaning the leader who protects and promotes the well-being of all ethnic and religious groups”, implying to lead the Rohingya out of their genocidal hell, during her visit to Harvard University in 2013.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will remember, I am sure, the fact that she was hounded by the international journalists in Geneva in early June 2012 over the question of mass violence and persecution of the Rohingya. For her first European trip with the ILO as her first stop since she returned to Burma in the spring of 1988 came on the heels of the violent events in Rakhine between the Rohingya and the Rakhine. 

According to an American journalist who followed her from Rangoon during her European tour, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was asked if she knew “whether the Rohingya were citizens of your country” to which she replied, “I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Dr Aye Maung, the anti-Rohingya ulra-nationalist Rakhine leader and a Member of the Parliament, who is believed to be involved in the bouts of organized violence against the Rohingya, was openly disclosing publicly the fact that he had personally threatened Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to never mention the word ‘Rohingya’ from her lips, or else he would ensure that the Rakhine would turn against her party NLD, come the elections. He reportedly told this to the largest gathering of the Rakhine nationalists in Rathae Daung, in Northern Rakhine. In the midst of rising international interest in and concerns for the Rohingya persecution, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has stubbornly dodged any question from the media about the Rohingya or simply gave vague and evasive responses. As a matter of fact, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has plainly dismissed any genocide allegations as “exaggerations”, described the Rohingya as those with roots in Bangladesh and kept referring to the (implicitly racist) 1982 Citizenship Law which was in effect designed to ensure that most Rohingyas don’t qualify for citizenship. 

Furthermore, she will also remember the Rule of Law Roundtable held on her birthday – 18 June 2012 – at the London School of Economics where I was asked to step in and handle any questions about the Rohingya. Before her arrival in London the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office informed the chair of the roundtable Professor Mary Kaldor that “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was in listening mode’ and not too keen to speak or lecture”. Because the Rohingya issue became a hot potato for her, the Chair Professor Kaldor pre-assigned me to handle the pre-submitted Rohingya question to her. Despite the fact that I represent neither the government nor the flagship opposition of NLD, I willingly accepted the assigned Rohingya question. Seated immediately next to me on the panel, she heard me address the Rohingya persecution both as a Buddhist from Myanmar and as a researcher on the issue of statelessness. 

In our country today when the public hear the word “Rohingya” they immediately assume and think we are talking about illegal Bengali from Bangladesh who are lying to the world about the non-existent and fictitious ethnic identity. The truth of the matter is with no exception all the indigenous peoples of our country whose ancestral lands are now split into new nation-states whose boundaries were drawn formally only after the World War II can be found on all sides of respective borders. This is true of the Kachin, the Chin, the Karen, the Mon, the Shan, the Kokant, the Wa and so on – and the Rohingyas are no exception. This fact is not lost on keen minds like the late Brigadier General Aung Gyi and the military officers who handled border affairs out of the War Office as early as 1950’s and 1960’s. Today there is an emerging field of studies known as “Borderlands Peoples” or Borderlands Studies” led by highly regarded scholars such as James C. Scott of Yale University. In fact, in one of his speeches Aung Gyi drove home the message that these borderlands people and their ancestral ties and regions criss-cross new nation-states’ boundaries. Himself an offspring of Chinese and Burmese parents Brigadier General Aung Gyi wittingly accepted the mixed “national” origins of these borderlands indigenous peoples of Burma – not just the Rohingya but the other indigenous groups such as the Kachin, the Mon, the Shan, etc. 

Today’s conventional wisdom about the Rohingya as ‘illegal aliens from Bangladesh came about as the direct result of the Military Intelligence’s sustained propaganda designed to render them as a people with no roots in Burma. 

Specifically, the founder of the Na Sa Ka (founded in 1992 and disbanded amidst allegations of being the main instrument of Rohingya genocide in 2013) and former head of the Directorate of the Defence Services Intelligence, namely ex-General Khin Nyunt reportedly gave a lecture – marked ‘Top Secret” at the then National Defense College. In that lecture, Khin Nyunt informed a small class of the next generation military leaders being groomed for important positions as Regional Commanders and officiating brigadiers that there had been some frictions between Myanmar and Bangladesh governments. The source of the frictions, he identified, was because “our Muslims from Rakhine state have been fleeing across the border into Bangladesh” – not because there was the inflow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Northern Rakhine. Considering that despite its population pressure, Bengali or Bangladeshis in their right mind are not going to enter Myanmar which has half the GDP of their country, no prospect for real employment, poses high risks of being persecuted or being attacked by the Rakhine nationalists. Besides, Rakhine state is either the poorest or the 13th poorest of all 14 states and divisions in our country. Even the Rakhines are emigrating or working as migrant labourers across Southeast Asia’s stronger and more prosperous labour markets in places like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and so on. 

(Ref: Interview with ex-General, ex-Head of Military Intelligence and ex-Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, by Myat Khaing, Revised and Expanded Second Edition, Rangoon, January 2014, page. 136). 

While the head of the military intelligence and the 3rd most powerful general in the country was giving a top secret lecture revealing the truth about the Rohingya – they are fleeing Burma – his deputies, for instance, head of Counter-intelligence, Brigadier Than Tun (behind bars for corruption and high treason since 2004 and former liaison between the government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) and his team were showing power points with made-up statistics about and tales of the influx of “illegal Bangladeshi migrants” crossing into the Buddhist Rakhine state posing “a threat to national security” – in front of hundreds of cadres of Burmese teachers and other civil servants at the Central School of Civil Servants at Hpaung Gyi. 

The sustained anti-Rohingya propaganda campaign thus carried out over a period time explains why the public opinions about the Rohingya are so incredibly venomous – so much so that every astute tourist or travel to today’s Myanmar does pick up, with disgust and disdain, without fail. 

In his 26 years of official reign, General Ne Win, who called himself the “surrogate father of the Tatmadaw” – the martyred General Aung San being the “biological father” – had left a sordid record of breaking every big official pledge he made to the public. Law, Rules and Regulations, the Constitution, the agreements are all elastic and easily disposable at his whims and as he deemed needed to pursue his own agendas. 

Those military leaders who took over the reins of the military and the military government, including generals Than Shwe, Maung Aye, Khin Nyunt, Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing have upheld this dishonorable tradition. 

The outcome is devastating for the society, communities and the country at large. Farmers are being displaced; student activists are locked up chronically; non-Bama ethnic peoples in conflict zones have absolutely no human security nor bright future; the Rohingya have been fleeing the country as they prefer dying on their survival runs than languishing on their own ancestral land at excruciatingly slow speed. 

In a nutshell, our country is plagued by a myriad of problems and woes as the direct result of the failures on the part of national leaders, politicians and generals to upload truths, to speak out when truths are butchered and verifiable lies of national significance are enshrined as “facts”. Armed conflicts, religion-based racism, ethnic tensions, economic abyss for the mass, have come to characterize our country, once considered one of Asia’s potentially bright post-colonial nations. 

Needless to say, the people pay for the price of the leaders’ failures. 

The current transition – however peaceful – from the military rule to the semi-democratic NLD government – lacks the potentials to end the two national crimes or crises which I have focused on. We cannot build a democracy or a peaceful multiethnic and multi-faith modern nation on the basis of official lies and broken promises and agreements the founders of modern Burma made. 

May I remind us all that the late U Aung San held dearly “love of truth” as a guiding principle of his life and politics. He had written and talked to his friends about how much he wanted to instill this value in his 3 children. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would know this incomparably better than me, for sure. 

For the military leaders who studied at the Defense Services Academy for 4 full years, you would recall that all officer cadets were required to read a collection of essays by and about the Tatmadaw’s founding father, U Aung San, entitled “The Thoughts, the Conducts and the Deeds of General Aung San”, which portrayed him as the model leader – honest, compassionate, selfless, non-greedy and genuine patriot with an open intellectual mind. 

One would expect both U Aung San’s children and his institutional sons of the military will emulate his impeccable record in uploading truths in his short-live political life. 

The leaders who deny Rohingya existence in our country against all verifiable facts about the Rohingya are in effect spitting on Aung San’s remains. The leaders who treat non-Bama ethnic minorities are betraying U Aung San’s Big Tent dream and vision of the Federal Union of Burma as a place where citizenship is both color and faith-blind and where the “indigenous” simply meant anyone who was born on the Burmese soil and who wishes to contribute to the building of a multi-ethnic country. 

In the midst of optimism among the mainstream Burmese majority as well as the international cheerleaders of “Myanmar Spring”, it is high time for the 4 leaders to snap out of the dark legacies of the past military rule under which lies are truths and truths are considered treasonous. 

The current system which continues to rest on the past lies needs to be completely overhauled. 

It is imperative that 4 of you, our most influential national leaders, return to U Aung San’s visions and values. After all we are self-proclaimed Buddhists who are to appreciate the short-lived nature of all human lives. As you well-know we equate our fragile and non-permanent human existence to bubbles that spring up the surface of an ocean. 

May I, from the bottom of my heart, urge you to use your most precious time, while alive, to endeavor to end the hell of a slow genocide of the Rohingya and to bring about the cessation of all armed conflicts and wars against our own ethnic brethren in Eastern Myanmar, namely the Kachin, the Shan, the Pa-Oo, the Kokant, etc. 

May you be well in mind and body. May the Rohingya be free from the State’s genocidal persecution.

May the non-Bama minorities be given a new chance to rebuild their war-devastated communities.


Maung Zarni
In Permanent Exile, UK​


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