Residents critical of large-scale religious conversion in Meiktila

Nationalist Buddhist monks from Ma Ba Tha are holding large-scale religious conversion ceremonies in Muslim enclaves, drawing criticism from local residents.2religious-conversion_ksw

U Aggadaja (left) sits with a follower before a mass religious conversion ceremony held in Meiktila on May 6. (Khin Su Wai / The Myanmar Times)

One such recent ceremony convened in Mandalay drew massive crowds and earned the ire of local residents who accused the monks of trying to enflame religious tensions in a township already haunted by intercommunal violence.

Over 3000 witnesses gathered to watch 71 people convert to Buddhism in Meiktila on May 6, according to ceremony leader U Aggadaja.

The senior Ma Ba Tha monk said his event was the largest religious conversion ceremony held yet in Myanmar. “I never persuade them,” he told The Myanmar Times. “This ceremony is meant to express welcome to those who want to enter Buddhism.”

But for some religious minorities, the ceremony came off as an attempt to marginalise. U San Win Tun, secretary of the Interfaith Association in Meiktila, said the ceremony was unlike anything held in the town before.

Almost all the participants converted by the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion – as Ma Ba Tha is called in English – were Muslim. The event also included eight Christians and five Hindus.

Most of those who converted said they had Buddhist partners. But Daw Khin Than Myint, 52, was born as a Buddhist. She said she converted to Islam before marrying her husband.

She said she knew she wanted to convert back as soon as her family was pushed into a refugee camp following violent riots that erupted in the township in 2013. The conflict, prompted by a shop dispute and fanned on anti-Muslim sentiment, left more than 40 people dead and 12,000 displaced. The two main Muslim communities in the township were razed.

Daw Khin Than Myint said her family stayed at the camp for one month and three days. “Fifteen days after we arrived back home my eldest son entered into the monkhood. And then the whole family, including my husband, entered into Buddhism,” she said.

With tears in her eyes she told The Myanmar Times that her in-laws will no longer speak to the family. “For that loss I feel sad. Since we re-entered Buddhism we stopped having any contact with them,” she said.

Her daughter, Ma Phyu Hnin Thwe, said it was only when the entire family eagerly pressed the conversion that her father agreed to join them in the ceremony. “When we got back from refugee camp we didn’t have even a penny, but had a gold bracelet. We sold it, and with the money we made a Buddhist altar,” she said.

Ma Ba Tha monk U Aggadaja said that so many people wanted to convert in Meiktila because there are many Muslims in the township. “After the ceremony, 22 more people came up to us and told us they also want to convert,” he said.

U Aggadaja said he has no intention of inciting conflict as the previous riots hurt “both sides”.

“On April 27, a rumour came out that unofficial mosques would be repaired and opened. The nationalist youths became quite intense, so we tried to control the situation by making sure the unofficial mosques did not open,” he said by way of explaining his peace-making abilities.

But residents in the community were not impressed by the monk’s fanfare and accused him of trying to alienate, if not provoke, the township.

“This is a personal affair. We never hold a ceremony like this for religious conversion,” said U San Win Tun from the Interfaith Association. He added that the conversion ceremony also appeared to go against Ma Ba Tha’s own law, which makes conversion a legal and administrative affair.

“They announced they would hold a ceremony, but it is not official. Myanmar has ‘race and religion protection’ laws now, so religious conversion requires the involvement of the ministries for religious affairs and home affairs,”U San Win Tun said.

But Taung Thar Lay Meiktila Sayadaw said the ceremony had been held according to the Religious Conversion Law, and that necklaces with religious pendants had already been given to all those converted. They would also be handed religious books soon, he said.

The Religious Conversion Law was one of four legislative pieces backed by Ma Ba Tha and quickly signed into effect by then-president U Thein Sein. The law requires that a Myanmar citizen wishing to switch religions must obtain prior approval from a township religious conversion registration board. The conversion process also requires an interview and set period of study.

Rights groups, interfaith networks and the international community slammed the bill as a major setback for religious freedom and tolerance in Myanmar. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said the legislation risks inciting further violence against religious minorities by enflaming already pervasive discrimination.

The International Crisis Group called the monks fomenting the nationalist agenda a “populist political force that cloaks itself in religious respectability and moral authority”.

But the group has also proven itself a political force to be reckoned with, and has threatened to make life difficult for the National League for Democracy if the new government shows any sign of repealing the controversial laws.

The other arms of the “race and religion” package appear to have failed to gain much traction, or, in the case of the Monogamy Law, largely backfired against the stated purpose of protecting Buddhist women from polygamous Muslim spouses and instead struck largely among Buddhist households, providing legal recourse for cheated spouses. But the Religious Conversion Law seems to have hit closer to the intended mark.

Most locals were hesitant to comment on the ceremony out of fear of stirring conflict. U Min Aung, a Muslim leader in Meiktila, said the violence of 2013 had such a big impact on the community that it was still recovering from the recent trauma. He added that changing one’s religion would not alter bloodlines or reverse the fact that there are many interfaith families in Meiktila.

A well-known political activist, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said most participants in the recent religious conversion ceremony had come from outside the town. He said he feared it was meant to stir religious tensions.

“I know everyone can change their religion if they desire to do so. Some of our friends also change their religion. But they held a big ceremony this time, like they were celebrating a victory. It is not the right time. It seems they want to pick a fight,” he said.

But U Aggadaja called the criticism an assault on Buddhism and said it won’t stop him from holding more ceremonies. “I don’t worry because the religion law indicates we could sue those people,” he said.

ဥပေဒဆုိင္ရာ ျပင္ဆင္သတ္မွတ္ၿပီးပါက မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲ လူငယ္မ်ားကို ေဆးျဖတ္စခန္းတြင္သာ ထိန္းသိမ္းသြားမည္


မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါး လက္ဝယ္ေတြ႕ရွိမႈတြင္ သတ္မွတ္ထားေသာ ဥပေဒရပ္မ်ားႏွင့္အညီ အေရးယူရမည္ျဖစ္ေသာ္လည္း ဒုတိယအႀကိမ္ လႊတ္ေတာ္တြင္ ျပင္ဆင္သတ္မွတ္မႈ ေအာင္ျမင္ပါက မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲ လူငယ္မ်ားကို ေဆးျဖတ္စခန္းတြင္ ထိန္းသိမ္းသြားမည္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း မႏၲေလးတိုင္းေဒသႀကီး ေျမာက္ပိုင္း မူးယစ္တပ္ဖြဲ႕စု ၁၇ မွ ဒုတိယရဲမွဴး လွလြင္က ေအာက္တိုဘာ ၂၇ ရက္တြင္ ေျပာသည္။

”ပထမအႀကိမ္ လႊတ္ေတာ္မွာ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးနဲ႔ ပတ္သက္တဲ့ တခ်ဳိ႕အေၾကာင္းအရာေလးေတြကို တင္ျပထားပါတယ္။ မေအာင္ျမင္တဲ့အတြက္ ဒုတိယအႀကိမ္လႊတ္ေတာ္မွာ တင္ျပဖို႔ ရွိတယ္ဆိုတာ သိရပါတယ္။ အဲဒါက ဘာလဲဆိုေတာ့ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးသံုးစြဲတဲ့ လူငယ္ေတြကို တိုင္းနဲ႔ျပည္နယ္ အသီးသီးမွာ ေဆးျဖတ္စခန္းေတြကို ပို႔ေဆာင္သြားဖို႔ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။ ဆိုလိုတာက မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲ လူငယ္ေတြကို လက္ဝယ္ေတြ႕ရွိရင္ ဖမ္းၿပီးေတာ့ အေရးယူဖို႔မဟုတ္ဘဲနဲ႔ ထိန္းသိမ္းၿပီးေတာ့ တိုင္းနဲ႔ ျပည္နယ္အသီးသီးက ေဆးျဖတ္စခန္းေတြကို ပို႔ေဆာင္သြားဖို႔ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္”ဟု မႏၲေလးတိုင္းေဒသႀကီး အရပ္ဘက္အဖြဲ႕အစည္းကြန္ရက္ (Mandalay Regional Civil Society Organizations Network) က ေအာက္တိုဘာ ၂၇ ရက္တြင္ က်င္းပခဲ့ေသာ လႊတ္ေတာ္၊ အစိုးရ ပူးေပါင္းေဆာင္ရြက္ေရးဖိုရမ္တြင္ ၄င္းကေျပာခဲ့သည္။

၁၉၉၃ ခုႏွစ္ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးႏွင့္ စိတ္ကို ေျပာင္းလဲေစေသာ ေဆးဝါးမ်ားဆိုင္ရာ ဥပေဒသတ္မွတ္ခ်က္ အရ ေဆးစစ္ၿပီးမူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲေၾကာင္း ေပၚလြင္ပါက ေထာင္ဒဏ္ အနည္းဆံုး သံုးႏွစ္မွ ငါးႏွစ္အထိ က်ခံရႏိုင္ၿပီး ႏုိင္ငံျခားႏွင့္ ပူးေပါင္းေရာင္းခ်ေသာ ပုဒ္မ ၂ဝ (က)၊၂ဝ (ခ)တို႔ႏွင့္ လက္နက္လက္ဝယ္ ေတြ႕ရွိမႈတို႔အတြက္ ျပစ္ဒဏ္မ်ားမွာ ေသဒဏ္အထိ သတ္မွတ္ထားရွိေၾကာင္း ၄င္းက ေျပာသည္။ လက္ရွိ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး သတ္မွတ္ခ်က္အရအဆိုပါ ဥပေဒျပစ္ဒဏ္မ်ားသည္ ျပင္းထန္သည္ဟု ေဝဖန္ခံေနရေၾကာင္း ဒုရဲမွဴးလွလြင္က ဆိုသည္။

လက္ရွိတြင္ ရဲတပ္ဖြဲ႔က တစ္ရက္လွ်င္မူးယစ္မႈ ၂ဝ ခန္႔ ဖမ္းဆီးရမိေနကာ တစ္လလွ်င္ ပ်မ္းမွ် လူငယ္ ၆ဝဝ ဝန္းက်င္ ဖမ္းဆီးရမိေနသည္ဟု ၄င္းက ေျပာသည္။ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါး အမ်ဳိးအစားေပါင္း ၁၂၈ မ်ဳိးထဲတြင္ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးျပား ဒဗလ်ဴဝိုင္ ေဆးျပားသံုးျပႆနာကို လူငယ္မ်ားၾကားတြင္ အေတြ႕မ်ားလာၿပီး ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံသည္ စိတ္ၾကြ မူးယစ္ေဆး အမ်ားဆံုး ထုတ္လုပ္သည့္ႏုိင္ငံအျဖစ္ အစြပ္စြဲခံေနရေၾကာင္း၊ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးျပား ျပႆနာကို အေျခခံေက်ာင္းမ်ားတြင္ပါ ေတြ႕လာရေၾကာင္း ၄င္းက ေျပာသည္။

လက္ရွိ အမ်ားဆံုး ဖမ္းဆီးရမိတဲ့ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးျပားမ်ားမွာ လိေမၼာ္ေရာင္၊ ပန္းေရာင္၊နီညိဳေရာင္၊ အစိမ္းေရာင္ရွိၿပီး ဒဗလ်ဴဝိုင္၊ ရွစ္ဆယ့္ရွစ္/ ဝမ္း၊ ကိုးသံုးလုံး၊ ရွစ္သံုးလုံး တံဆိပ္မ်ား ေတြ႕ရမ်ားေၾကာင္း ၄င္းက ဆိုသည္။ဒဗလ်ဴဝိုင္ စိတ္ၾကြေဆးျပား တစ္ျပားကို က်ပ္၃,၅ဝဝ မွ ၅,ဝဝဝ ဝန္းက်င္ခန္႔ မႏၲေလးေစ်းကြက္တြင္ ရွိေနကာ ခဲျပားေပၚတင္၍ အပူေပးကာ အေငြ႕႐ွဴၾကၿပီး သံုးစြဲသူ၏ သံုးစြဲမႈသက္တမ္းအလိုက္ တစ္ခါ႐ွဴလွ်င္ႏွစ္ျပားမွ ၁၅ ျပားအထိ႐ွဴၾကေၾကာင္း ၄င္းက ေျပာသည္။

”အခုက်ေတာ့ အားလံုးသိၾကတဲ့အတိုင္းစိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးမရွိတဲ့ ၿမိဳ႕ေတြ၊ ရြာေတြမရွိသေလာက္ ျဖစ္ေနပါၿပီ။ အဲဒီ အေလ့အထဟာ ဝင္ေရာက္ေနၿပီျဖစ္ၿပီး ပုိစိတ္မေကာင္းစရာ ေကာင္းတာက အေျခခံေက်ာင္းက ေက်ာင္းသားလူငယ္ေလးေတြပါ သံုးစြဲတဲ့အေလ့အထ
ရွိေနၿပီဆိုတာ စိတ္မေကာင္းစရာ သိရွိရပါတယ္။ ေက်ာင္းသူ၊ ေက်ာင္းသားေတြ လြဲမွားတဲ့ အယူအဆနဲ႔ပဲ ဒီေဆးျပားသံုးၿပီး မအိပ္ခ်င္ေအာင္ စာက်က္တယ္။အခုဆို ေဒသတြင္း ႏိုင္ငံေတြထဲမွာ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံဟာ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးအမ်ားဆံုး ထုတ္လုပ္တဲ့ႏုိင္ငံလို႔
စြပ္စြဲခံေနရတာမ်ဳိး ရွိေနပါၿပီ။ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံဟာ ဘိန္းစုိက္ပ်ဳိးမႈ တိုက္ဖ်က္ေနစဥ္မွာပဲ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးျပႆနာနဲ႔ရင္ဆိုင္ရျပန္ပါတယ္”ဟု ဒုရဲမွဴး လွလြင္က ဆိုသည္။

မႏၲေလးတိုင္းေဒသႀကီး အမွတ္ ၁ မူးယစ္တပ္ဖြဲ႕ခြဲမွဴး ဒုတိယရဲမွဴး ဦးျမင့္ေအာင္ကလည္းလူငယ္ထုအတြင္း မူးယစ္ေဆးသံုးစြဲမႈ ျမင့္မားလာေၾကာင္း ေအာက္တိုဘာ ၁၃ ရက္တြင္ မီဒီယာမ်ားႏွင့္ ေတြ႕ဆုံစဥ္ေျပာသည္။

”တစ္ႏွစ္ထက္ တစ္ႏွစ္ သံုးစြဲသူဦးေရ မ်ားလာပါတယ္။ အဲန္ဂ်ီအို (အစိုးရမဟုတ္တဲ့အဖြဲ႕အစည္း)ေတြ သုေတသနလုပ္ၾကတယ္။ အဲဒီ အခ်က္အလက္ေတြအရကလည္း သိရပါတယ္။ ဖမ္းဆီးမႈ မ်ားလာတဲ့အတြက္ ဖမ္းမိတဲ့သူတိုင္းကို မူးယစ္ ပုဒ္မ ၁၅ တပ္ၿပီးေဆးစစ္တာေတြ လုပ္တဲ့အခါမွာ မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲတာေတြေတြ႕လာရပါတယ္”ဟု ၄င္းက ေျပာသည္။

ရာဘေဆးျပားေတြ လြယ္လြယ္ကူကူ ရေနျခင္းမွာလည္း လူငယ္မ်ား မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲေစသည့္အခ်က္ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း မႏၲေလးေဒသခံတစ္ဦးျဖစ္သူ ဦးသိန္းေအာင္က ေျပာသည္။

”ဒီမွာ ေဆးျပားေတြက (တစ္ျပားကို) က်ပ္၃,ဝဝဝ ေလာက္ ရွိေနတာ။ လား႐ႈိးဘက္မွာေတာ့ ၅ဝဝ၊ ၁,ဝဝဝ ပဲ ရွိတယ္။ ရွမ္းျပည္က လူငယ္ေတြ (မူးယစ္ေဆးနဲ႔) လြတ္တဲ့သူသိပ္မရွိဘူး”ဟု ဦးသိန္းေအာင္က ေျပာသည္။

၂ဝ၁၄ ခုႏွစ္ ကုလသမဂၢ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးႏွင့္ ရာဇဝတ္မႈဆိုင္ရာ႐ံုး၏ စစ္တမ္းအရျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံတြင္ မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲသူ ဦးေရ သံုးသိန္းခန္႔၊ ဘိန္းျဖဴ အေၾကာသြင္းသူ ၈၅,ဝဝဝ ရွိမည္ဟု ခန္႔မွန္းထားၿပီး ၂ဝ၁၇ ခုႏွစ္မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲဦးေရစာရင္း ထြက္ရွိရန္ ရွိေၾကာင္း မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲ
ေရာဂါ ကုသေရးႏွင့္ သုေတသနဌာနမွ စီမံခ်က္ မန္ေနဂ်ာ ေဒါက္တာနႏၵမ်ိဳးေအာင္ဝမ္းကျမန္မာတိုင္း(မ္)ကို ေျပာသည္။

အေဆာင္ေနသူငယ္ခ်င္းေၾကာင့္ ၂ဝဝ၆ခုႏွစ္ကတည္းက စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးသံုးသည့္ အေလ့အထ ရရွိခဲ့သည့္ ကိုစိုင္းဘိုဘုိကေတာ့ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးသံုးသည့္ လူငယ္မ်ား အစိုးရက ဖြင့္လွစ္ထားသည ့္ ေဆးျဖတ္ေဆးခန္းမ်ားသို႔ သြားရန္ မလိုအပ္ဟု ယူဆေၾကာင္း

”ကြၽန္ေတာ္အထင္ေပါ့ေလ၊ အျဖဴလုိင္းသမားေတြပဲ ေဆးျဖတ္ဖုိ႔လိုတယ္လို႔ ထင္တယ္။ ကြၽန္ေတာ္တို႔ အၾကြလိုင္းသမားေတြကမလိုပါဘူး။ အရင္တုန္းက ေဆးေတြက ေစ်းႀကီးတယ္ေလ။ တစ္ျပားကို ေနရာအေပၚမူတည္ၿပီး က်ပ္ ၅,ဝဝဝ၊ ၇,ဝဝဝ ေစ်းရွိတယ္။ တစ္ခါဝယ္ရင္ ငါးျပားအနည္းဆံုး ဝယ္ရတယ္။ အဲဒီအခ်ိန္မွာ ဘိန္းျဖဴက ၂,ဝဝဝ ဖိုး ခြဲဝယ္လို႔ရတယ္။ အဲဒီတခ်ဳိ႕ကအျဖဴလိုင္းကို ေရာက္ကုန္ၾကတယ္။ သူတို႔ကပဲ သြားဖို႔လိုတာပါ” ဟုေျပာသည္။

သို႔ရာတြင္ မူးယစ္ေဆးစြဲသူမ်ား အစိုးရေဆးျဖတ္စခန္းမ်ားသို႔ မသြားၾကျခင္းမွာ မွတ္တမ္းရယူမႈမွ ကင္းလြတ္ခ်င္ၾက၍ ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ဦးသိန္းေအာင္က ဆုိသည္။

”ကြၽန္ေတာ့္အစ္ကိုက ရွမ္းျပည္က၊ သူေဆးစြဲတာ ႏွစ္ ၂ဝ ရွိၿပီ။ သူေရာ၊ သူ႔သားေတြေရာ ပုဂၢလိကေဆးခန္းမွာ သူ ခဏခဏေဆးျဖတ္တာပဲ”ဟု ၄င္းက ဆိုသည္။

”ျပႆနာက ဘာျဖစ္လဲဆိုေတာ့ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးသံုးတဲ့သူေတြရဲ႕ သေဘာက ေဆးျပတ္တယ္မဟုတ္ဘူး၊ ေဆးနားတယ္ဆိုတဲ့ သေဘာပဲရွိတယ္။ ခံစားမႈျမင့္တဲ့သူေတြေလ။ ေဆးျဖတ္တဲ့ဌာနသြား၊ စိတ္ပိုင္းဆိုင္ရာျပႆနာရွိတယ္ဆုိရင္ ျပန္သံုးတယ္။ ကာလတိုေလးပဲ ျပတ္တာ”ဟု တိုင္းေဒသႀကီး ခုခံက်/ကာလသားေရာဂါ တိုက္ဖ်က္ေရး ဆရာဝန္ႀကီး ေဒါက္တာသန္းဝင္းကေျပာသည္။

မူးယစ္ေဆးႏွင့္ ဆက္ႏြယ္ေနသည့္ ေနာက္ဆက္တြဲစိန္ေခၚမႈမ်ားမွာ ဒုစ႐ိုက္မႈမ်ား ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ဒုရဲမွဴးလွလြင္က ေျပာသည္။ လက္ရွိနယ္ေျမခံ ရဲမွတ္တမ္းမ်ားအရ လုယက္မႈမ်ားသည္ စိတ္ၾကြမူးယစ္ေဆးသံုးစြဲမႈရဲ႕ ရလဒ္မ်ားဟု ေတြ႕ရေၾကာင္း ၄င္းက ေျပာသည္။

မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါး တိုက္ဖ်က္ေရးအတြက္စိန္ေခၚမႈမ်ားရွိေၾကာင္း၊ ဖမ္းဆီးရမိမႈ အမ်ားစုမွာ အေသးစား မူးယစ္ေရာင္းဝယ္သူေတြႏွ င့္သံုးစြဲသူမ်ားျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း၊ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးတိုက္ဖ်က္ေရးအတြက္ သံုးစြဲရန္ ခြင့္ျပဳဘ႑ာေငြအခက္အခဲ ရွိေၾကာင္း မႏၲေလးခ႐ိုင္ အေထြေထြအုပ္ခ်ဳပ္ေရးမွဴး ဦးေဇာ္ဝင္းႏိုင္က ေအာက္တိုဘာ ၁၆ ရက္က ျပဳလုပ္သည့္ မူးယစ္ေဆးဝါးတားဆီးႏွိမ္နင္ေရး အဖြဲ႕အစည္းမ်ားအတြက္အိပ္ခ်္အိုင္ဗြီ ကာကြယ္ေရးလုပ္ငန္း အေထာက္အကူျပဳသင္တန္းတြင္ ေျပာသည္။

ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ မႏၲေလးတိုင္း အစိုးရအဖြဲ႕ ဦးေဆာင္သူ ျဖစ္မွာလား

တိုင္းေဒသႀကီးလႊတ္ေတာ္အစည္းအေ၀းသို႔ တက္ေရာက္လာေသာ ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ကို ေဖေဖာ္၀ါရီက ေတြ႕ရစဥ္။စည္သူလြင္ / ျမန္မာတိုင္း(မ္)

တိုင္းေဒသႀကီးလႊတ္ေတာ္အစည္းအေ၀းသို႔ တက္ေရာက္လာေသာ ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ကို ေဖေဖာ္၀ါရီက ေတြ႕ရစဥ္။စည္သူလြင္ / ျမန္မာတိုင္း(မ္)

၂၀၁၅ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲႀကီးမွာ အင္န္အယ္လ္ဒီ ပါတီက ေသာင္ၿပိဳကမ္းၿပိဳ အႏုိင္ရရွိၿပီးတဲ့ ေနာက္ တုိင္းေဒသႀကီး၊ ျပည္နယ္၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ေနရာ တို႔အတြက္ ခန္႔မွန္းစာရင္း ထြက္ ရွိလာခဲ့ပါတယ္။

မႏၲေလးတိုင္းေဒသႀကီး ၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ေနရာအတြက္ ပါတီအမာခံတစ္ဦးျဖစ္တဲ့ ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ကို ထင္ေၾကးေပးမႈေတြ ရွိေနသလို ခန္႔မွန္း သလို ျဖစ္လာခဲ့ရင္ သူဦးေဆာင္တဲ့ အစိုးရ အဖြဲ႕ရဲ႕ စြမ္းေဆာင္မႈနဲ႔ ပတ္သက္ၿပီး လူထုရဲ႕ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခ်က္ေတြလည္းရွိေနပါ တယ္။ ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ ၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ ျဖစ္လာခဲ့ရင္ သူဦးေဆာင္တဲ့ အစိုးရအဖြဲ႕ကို လူထုနဲ႔ နီးစပ္တဲ့ အစိုးအရအဖြဲ႕အျဖစ္ျမင္ေတြ႕ ဖို႔ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ေၾကာင္း အရပ္ဘက္အဖြဲ႕အစည္းေတြက ဆုိပါတယ္။ ၂၀၀၈ ဖြဲ႕စည္းပံုအေျခခံဥပေဒ ေရးဆြဲ ၿပီးတဲ့ေနာက္ ၂၀၁၀ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲမွာ စစ္တပ္ေနာက္ခံ အစိုးရအဖြဲ႕နဲ႔ေဒသဆိုင္ ရာ လႊတ္ေတာ္ေပၚလာၿပီး အရပ္ဘက္ အဖြဲ႕ အစည္းမ်ားနဲ႔ ပူးေပါင္းမႈမရွိခဲ့ဘူးလိုု႔ အရပ္ ဘက္အဖြဲ႕အစည္းေတြက ေျပာပါတယ္။

“ကြ်န္ေတာ့္အေနနဲ႔ ဘယ္သူဘယ္၀ါ၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ဆုိတာထက္ အသြင္သဏၭာန္ ေျပာင္းလဲပစ္ႏုိင္မယ့္၊ လူေတြနဲ႔ နီးစပ္မယ့္၊ အရပ္ဘက္ အဖြဲ႕အစည္းေတြနဲ႔ ပူးေပါင္း ေဆာင္ရြက္ႏုိင္မယ့္ ၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ကို ျမင္လုိပါ တယ္။ ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ အေၾကာင္း ေျပာရရင္ သူ႔ကို မႏၲေလးတုိင္း တရားခြင္မွာ လုပ္တာကိုင္တာ ျမင္ဖူးသလို ေနျပည္ေတာ္ သြားေရာက္စဥ္ကလည္း သူလုပ္တာကိုင္တာေတြ႕ဖူးပါတယ္။ တကယ္ အလုပ္ လုပ္မယ့္သူအေနနဲ႔ ျမင္ပါတယ္” ဟု မႏၲေလးၿမိဳ႕ကျပည္သူလူထုနဲ႔ ပတ္သက္တဲ့ အေရးကိစၥေတြမွာ တက္ႂကြလႈပ္ရွားသူတစ္ဦးျဖစ္တဲ့ဦးညီညီေက်ာ္က ျမန္မာတိုင္း(မ္)ကုိ ေျပာပါတယ္။

ေဒါက္တာ ေဇာ္ျမင့္ေမာင္ကို အျခားေသာ အန္အယ္လ္ ဒီပါတီက ထိပ္ပိုင္းပါတီ၀င္ေတြ၊ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္၊ ကာကြယ္ေရးဦးစီးခ်ဳပ္ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ႀကီး မင္းေအာင္လိႈင္တို႔နဲ႔အတူေတြ႕ဆုံပြဲေတြမွာ ျမင္လာရတာဟာ တိုင္းေဒသႀကီး ၀န္ႀကီးခ်ဳပ္ျဖစ္ဖို႔ ေသခ်ာသေလာက္ျဖစ္တယ္လို႔ မွန္းဆသူေတြ လည္း ရွိေနပါတယ္။ ပြင့္ပြင့္လင္းလင္းနဲ႔လိုက္ေလ်ာညီေထြမႈရွိတယ္လို႔နာမည္ႀကီး တဲ့ ေဒါက္တာေဇာ္ျမင့္ ေမာင္ က ၁၉၈၈ ကတည္းက ႏိုင္ငံေရးေလာကထဲသုိ႔ ၀င္ေရာက္လာခဲ့ၿပီး ၈၈ မွာ မႏၲေလးေဆးတကၠသိုလ္ ေက်ာင္းသား သပိတ္အတြင္းေရးမႉး၊ အထက္ျမန္မာျပည္ ဆရာ၀န္မ်ား သပိတ္ေကာ္မတီမွာ တြဲဖက္ အတြင္းေရးမႉးအျဖစ္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ခဲ့ပါ တယ္။ ၁၉၉၀ အမရပူရၿမိဳ႕နယ္ မဲဆႏၵနယ္အမွတ္ ၁ လႊတ္ေတာ္ ကိုယ္စားလွယ္ေလာင္း အျဖစ္ အင္န္အယ္လ္ဒီက ၀င္ေရာက္ယွဥ္ၿပိဳင္ ခဲ့ရာမွာ အႏုိင္ရရွိခဲ့ၿပီး အဲဒီႏွစ္မွာပဲ ပုဒ္မ ၁၂၂ (၁)အရ ေထာင္ဒဏ္ ၂၅ ႏွစ္ ခ်မွတ္ ခံခဲ့ရတယ္။ ၂၀၀၉ ခုႏွစ္မွာ လြတ္ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းသာခြင့္ ရရွိခဲ့ပါတယ္။ (more…)

At Letpadaung, residents still place hopes in NLD

Expectations are high among the villagers near the controversial Letpadaung copper mine that the incoming National League for Democracy government will take their side in what could be a resumption of hostilities with the operator – and possibly police.

Anti-mine protesters hold a multilingual protest sign during a recent demonstration. Photo: Supplied

Anti-mine protesters hold a multilingual protest sign during a recent demonstration. Photo: Supplied

The residents of the villages around the mine project in Salingyi township, Sagaing Region, believe they have particular reason to expect the support of the next government.

In 2012, NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was appointed chair of a commission of inquiry set up to investigate a particularly violent clash in which police used white phosphorous on protesters, leaving scores injured, including Buddhist monks. Controversially, the commission recommended the project continue – on the proviso that a number of recommendations were implemented. The villagers say they now want the NLD to ensure the mining company follows the commission’s orders.

Local anger over the alleged land grabs and environmental degradation associated with the Letpadaung mine has repeatedly flared up. In December 2014, one local resident was shot dead by police during a protest. On February 8, police charged 65 residents with staging an illegal demonstration in connection with an attempt by the Chinese company Wanbao to fence off part of the project zone to build a factory and warehouses. The company has said it hopes to complete the work by May 4 before resuming copper production.

“All we wanted was permission to cultivate the land. Now we have no work,” said Daw Amar Cho, a resident of Tone village, who faces charges for leading the protest. She said she had not yet received any official notification of the police complaint.

Wanbao has offered three compensation payments to local residents. The first, of K520,000, was made in 2011-12 in respect of three years of crops. Further payments were then made of K1 million and K1.8 million.

Daw Amar Cho said she had accepted the first payment. “We all took it. But the second time, they said that in exchange for the money we would have to give up ownership of the land. I didn’t take that payment.”

Activist U Sai Kyaw Aye said that the total land area of the mine project was 7878 acres, and no compensation had been offered in respect of 3000 acres. “The villagers took the first payment out of fear. The villagers don’t want to sell their land. Wanbao is proceeding against the will of the people,” he said.

A local monk, U Zin Arrlawka, who also faces charges, told The Myanmar Times, “About 200 or 300 people have been charged in total so far.”

Anti-mine protesters pull back police barricades (left), while officers form a protective circle during recent unrest. Photo: Supplied

Anti-mine protesters pull back police barricades (left), while officers form a protective circle during recent unrest. Photo: Supplied

U Soe Hein, a member of Sein Yaung So Activities, a Mandalay-based environmental group, said he had contributed to research by the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability, which said Wanbao had implemented only 20 percent of the recommendations of the investigation committee, and much of its activity was just for show. The current government insists that the overwhelming majority have been implemented. (more…)

Top secret no longer: Currency designer reveals hidden art

Everything had to be done in the utmost secrecy. But when their work was complete, it was circulated to every man, woman and child in the country.

Myanmar currency was previously purchased from countries overseas until U Aye Myint began creating designs in a secret program in 1972. Photos: Khin Su Wai / The Myanmar TimesMyanmar currency was previously purchased from countries overseas until U Aye Myint began creating designs in a secret program in 1972. Photos: Khin Su Wai / The Myanmar Times

The artists who designed the nation’s currency painted the treasure of the entire nation. But until recently, hardly anybody knew who they were.

U Aye Myint, now 86, was the man who put Bogyoke Aung San in the nation’s pockets and purses. With his team, he designed the K25 and K1 notes released in 1972 and the K5 and K10 notes that came out the following year.

U Aye Myint, trained in the traditional design skills of Myanmar, worked in the Security Printing Works in Wazi, Chauk township. The printing agency was established in 1972 with technical direction from the German firm Giesecke & Devrient.

“Before, the government had always ordered currency designs from foreign countries – the UK, Pakistan, India and the Soviet Union. When they decided to do it here, we were not allowed to discuss our work with anyone, even our closest colleagues,” said U Aye Myint, talking to The Myanmar Times in his home next to the Maha Gandaryon monastery in Amarapura.

U Aye Myint reveals the art behind Myanmar’s currency.U Aye Myint reveals the art behind Myanmar’s currency.

He was assigned to the job after working on the decorations at the Myanmar Pavilion in Osaka, Japan, for World Expo 70. At the time he was a designer with the Cottage Industries Department and Saunders Weaving School in Amarapura, Mandalay.

“Four of us were assigned to the work: two to the administrative side and the other two on the design,” he said.

The design group developed the project in secret in England.

“We worked on large-scale paper first. From the drafting stage to production, everything was secret,” he said.

He told almost no one of his role even decades after the notes entered circulation. But, with the help of his eldest daughter, painter Daw Khin Moe Pwint, his role is slowly being recognised.

“My father didn’t want anyone to know. But I didn’t think it would do any harm to tell people now,” she said.

“The K10 featured Bogyoke with a ceremonial offering bowl, all in reddish-brown, and the green K1 showed him weaving at a loom. None of us children knew what our father was working on.”

Last June in Yangon and now in Mandalay, with the help of his daughter, U Aye Myint held an exhibition of his work, including stamp designs and ancient Myanmar religious images. “I also designed lottery tickets,” he said.

He was also responsible for three famous designs: depicting the national referendum of 1973, which was the first vote since the military coup of 1962; the stamps for the first people’s assembly; and the stamps issued for the 100th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union.

“When I was young, the Indian postmen used to wear such smart uniforms,” he recalled.

With the support of the Toyota Foundation, he released Ancient Myanmar Design with history professor Dr Than Tun and others.

U Aye Myint also worked on the design for the Shwedagon Pagoda stairway and Pitaka Pagoda (Minkun), as well as the lacquer murals at Bagan Thiripyitsaya Resort.

He still works as an adviser on pagoda design and insists ancient Myanmar design is still very much alive and well.

Even so, his daughter is taking no chances on U Aye Myint’s legacy. Daw Khin Moe Wai said she planned to set up a small museum for her father, and to keep his artworks.

“My father toured ancient pagodas studying the designs. Nobody worked harder than he did.”

Shakespeare meets social media in Mandalay

You’ve never seen a Scottish play like this. Macbeth, Shakespeare’s doom-laden, blood-spattered tale of an 11th-century power couple driven by violent ambition to treason and regicide, is so fraught with menace that superstitious actors refrain even from naming it. And now it’s coming to Mandalay.

What’s done will be re-done, Mandalay style. Photo: Khin Su Wai / The Myanmar TimesWhat’s done will be re-done, Mandalay style. Photo: Khin Su Wai / The Myanmar Times

Well, sort of. Macbeth in Mandalay, rewritten for the age of social media by director, producer and teacher Kimberley Parker, is likely to raise eyebrows among the purists.

Amarapura Partners will perform the play in Mandalay’s National Theatre on December 17 for the first time. Tickets are free.

This time around, the Thane of Cawdor turns out to be a young musician from Mandalay. After forming a band with childhood friends Banquo and Lady, they achieve local success. The introduction of a lead singer called Duncan helps propel them to international stardom, as three aging matriarchs of the media world strive to improve their ratings.

“The plot we wrote is based on the original, but with changes to make it more relevant and reflective of issues in social media today. It’s about manipulation by the media, including social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the cult of instant celebrity,” says Parker, who studied theatre production and has done volunteer work in drug rehabilitation through theatre therapy.

“A power struggle develops within the band,” she said. “We can guess the rest.”

Ma Naw Khu Htee Htwe Dwe plays a gossipy girl interested in celebrities, a part whose basis in Shakespeare’s original attempt at the play is unclear. “The way you use the social media can impact others very badly,” she explained.

U Win Pe Maung, CEO of Amarapura Partners, said his own experience of treading the boards, in Romeo and Juliet 12 years ago at the American Centre, had given him a golden opportunity to learn some social skills.

“I wanted my students to have a similar opportunity through participating in this play,” he said. Cameraman Ye Yint Aung, making his debut in the title role, said he was excited to be a part of the work.

Parker said she was impressed at the way her students had grown in their roles and their mastery of English.