Sunday, 10 February 2008

Elation Over A Murder?

10 February 2008
By Goldie Shwe

I was just skimming through the DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma) for Burma’s daily news when I saw that report of the murder of a member of USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) - junta's paramilitary wing of 'social welfare' organization. I had hardly finished reading the summary before I started smacking my own arms; the Burmese style war dance and challenge, similar to Maori Haka. My own reaction surprised me and made me think why I naturally reacted with elation and triumph.

Not only was I brought up as a Buddhist, it was also my choice of religion and I have great and fundamental respect for Buddha's teaching. I learnt the 'Five Precepts', the most important basic rules of Buddhism, at an early age. The first of those was not to kill, and have respect for all life. The Buddha said, "Life is precious to all beings. They have the right to live the same as we do." We should respect all life and not kill anything. Killing ants and mosquitoes is also breaking this precept. We should have an attitude of loving-kindness towards all beings, wishing them to be happy and free from harm.

Although I cannot boast that I am one of the most religious and decent of people, I try my best to follow the Five Precepts, most of all not to kill. So why then was I so jubilant, why did I jump up and down in celebration over a horrible murder case?

I have been angry. I have been extremely angry since September 2007. When all the protests and the crackdown of them happening I was unhappy, sad, frightened for people who would be tortured and killed. Eventually my feelings have changed. Everywhere I turned I saw reports of bullies, torturing and killings that junta is doing to innocent and vulnerable civilians in Burma.

I was angry that 400 children die everyday in Burma, either through hunger or diseases related to malnourishment.

I was angry that a monk was tortured, killed and his body thrown into a river.

I was angry that monasteries were raided at night, monks killed, or locked up in prisons.

I was angry that so many elected politicians are locked up in prisons long-term, and denied access to basic medical treatment.

I was angry that many poor unknown people were locked up in prisons and tortured while their families made to travel many miles to visit them.

I was angry that Nilar Thein is on the run, while her husband is in jail and their baby separated from her.

I was angry that United Nations could do nothing to protect innocent people of Burma.

I was angry that the junta's thugs bully and blackmail local people so that they cannot support the members of National League for Democracy Party, which won the landslide election victory in 1990.

I was angry that Aids (HIV) sufferers are denied treatment in hospitals, the monastery which provided their free accommodation was stripped and sealed off, the monks chased away from the place, and their care manager Phyu Phyu Thin is also on the run, and was unable to be with her dying father or at his funeral.

I was angry that street children have been abducted by the junta's thugs and sold to serve in the military and for the girls become prostitutes.

I was angry that the junta's generals and their sycophants are robbing all the country's natural resources, to stuff their own over-full bank accounts.

I was angry that so many ethnic groups have been wiped out by the junta.

I was angry that human rights abuse and forced labour records and reports are so long and depressing that I was too upset to continue reading.

Every item of news and report that I find about Burma has been nothing but intimidation, bullying, torture and the killing of the people by cowardly junta. I have become unable to feel anything other than cold anger, indignation, outrage at the appalling record of the junta.

The feeling of revenge and some satisfaction therefore seemed quite natural when I read about the killing of one of the junta's thugs.The DVB reported that the man, a member of the USDA of Hlaing Tharyar, one of the poorest and most repressed areas of the capital Rangoon, was notorious for his arrogant and threatening behaviour towards the residents. His head was left on public display by unknown assailants in a primitive display for the losers of the fighting or a war. His headless body found nearby was lacerated all over, each cut reflecting the people’s long pent-up hatred for the junta and its minions.

The fact that neither head nor the mutilated body were hidden but left on public display has sent a very clear and loud message to junta and their thug followers that the people will not, and cannot, forget or forgive their treatment for so many long decades. The chilling nature of the murder must have sent shockwaves across the country - the first clear response indicating that the breaking point of the people may be near.

The repugnant Than Shwe and his shameless group of cowardly generals and their families might be residing in huge heavily-guarded estates in Pyin Manar Nay Pyi Daw, enjoying the wealth they have robbed from the country and giving orders to their thugs on how to repress the public and still keeping the most revolting grins on their faces but even they must have seen the first batch of dark clouds that is now beginning to loom over their heads.

For junta's thugs, who were given a share of power and equipped with weapons to control the public, life has been very easy and pleasant. Apart from intimidating and threatening people with their junta-backed power, and occasional arrests and tortures, life has been easy. On top of the benefits of delegated power and weapons, these men have been well paid, with performance bonuses and rewards, and exclusive access to gadgets like mobile phones and video cameras not available to the public. This has all been icing on a very nourishing cake for those official members of junta's many paramilitary organizations.

The report also stated that, following the chilling murder of one of their number, the teams of junta thugs seem to have been rather quiet. More interestingly, the public found that gone is the hitherto haughty and pompous behaviour, to be replaced by a slightly more considerate attitude. The most obvious outcome, immediately after the murder, has been that the thugs have abruptly abandoned their habit of intimidating and harrassing the general public.

The rewards and bribes they receive from the junta for carrying out the practicalities of repressing the public have been good, especially when they can have real power over the lives of many poor and struggling people. Suddenly they are under threat themselves and have to think about the possible price of their activities to themselves and possibly their relatives? At least locally, their demeanour has changed dramatically in the face of these life- threatening issue of a popular fight-back spreading more widely.

Every action provokes its own reaction. The people of Burma have been suffering for too long. Their suffering and distress have been too great that they have been left with no option but to take the law into their own hands.

Yes, we are Buddhist. And yes, the Lord Buddha told us not to kill. And yet, I applauded the cruel murder. My own reaction has shocked me so I had to decide to give myself some time to reflect. After a sleepless night, thinking through every aspect, I still feel exactly the same. I still strongly believe that the murdered junta thug thoroughly deserved his fate. It seems to be the only way that people of Burma can get some form of justice. The ordinary people of Burma are at war with the cruel bullies, torturers and killers of the junta, and this murder somehow seems a fair response to the decades of abuse and robbery. The fight-back may have begun.

And for my own peace of mind, I decided to record my satisfaction and triumph over this horrible murder to be very honest with myself and others, because if I don't, I will only be breaking another of Buddha's Five Precepts - No Lying.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The story reminds me of a book by Agatha Christy " Mord in Orient Express" . The detectiv found out who the murderers were but were they punished for that? No!

/* EOT ----------------------------------------- */