Monthly Archives: August 2008

Prayer for Burma: Day twenty four

Sarah Armitage of Partners Relief and Development Facebook page this morning wrote this:

I thought I had a good awareness of the wickedness and evil that man can carry out against man. I was wrong.

I thought I had seen the lowest form of immorality and filth that another human being could stoop to. I was wrong.

I thought I had an understanding of the schemes of the devil – I had hoped that maybe even he had a limit to the depravity he could influence. I was wrong.

Since I have been working on behalf of the people of Burma I have read countless reports of human rights violations and brutal attacks carried out by the Burma Army – all of which have broken my heart and stirred me into action – but when I recently read the story of Nhkum Hkawn Din I was shocked to my very core, I felt as though I had been punched hard in the stomach.

I want to share Nhkum Hkawn Din’s story with you. It will be hard to read, but it needs to be read.*

On 27th July 2008 near Nam Sai village, Kachin State, Nhkum Hkawn Din left her house to take food to her brother who was working in a paddy field on their parent’s farm. When her brother returned home later that day not having seen her, the family realised that something was wrong. After searching most of the evening, she was reported missing.

Towards the end of the third day of searching, her clothes and shoes were found alongside the basket she had been carrying to her brother. Her body, naked and mutilated, was finally found only 200 metres away from a Burma Army checkpoint. According to family members she had been gang raped and then further violated with knives. Her skull had been crushed beyond recognition and her facial features obliterated. Her eyes had been gouged out and her throat was cut. She had also been stabbed in the stomach and on her right side.

Local witnesses say that they saw Nhkum Hkawn Din being followed by Burma Army soldiers on her way to the paddy field and that they saw the soldiers, one of who was recognised as a Colonel, leave the area a little later on.

The local army commanders have admitted that one of their lower ranking soldiers, Soe Thu Win, carried out the attack. He was recognised by witnesses during a line-up and later confessed under interrogation. It has been stated that he will be sentenced to 20 years in jail without trial. The Colonel was not interrogated and has since been relocated.

The family have been offered $500 plus some food (1 bag of rice, cooking oil, 5 cans of milk and some sugar) as compensation.

There has been no official investigation and once again the Burma Army are getting away with murder.

Rape is systematically used as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities in Burma, more than a thousand cases have been documented. There is also a culture of impunity, where no action is taken against soldiers who rape. On June 19th The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1820 noting that rape and sexual violence can be described as a crime against humanity.

Our governments and the UN need to be reminded of once more of the true nature of this brutal and oppressive regime. We want to stand with those who are calling for Burma’s generals to be taken to the International Criminal Court over
the systematic use of rape by the Burmese Army. Please write to your MP, MEP or State Representative and tell them Nhkum Hkawn Din’s story – and ask them to help ensure that justice is served and such a thing never happens again. Please also consider forwarding this message to other friends and encourage them to speak out.

Martin Luther once said, “The only thing needed for wicked men to prosper is for good men to do nothing”.

Nhkum Hkawn Din is one of Burma’s voiceless. The story of her life and her tragic death must be told by those whom God has given a voice to. Us.

Sarah Armitage
Partners Relief & Development

*Information source = http:/www.burmacampaign.org.uk

Other reports add that Nhkum Hkawn Din was only 15 years old.

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Brayer for Burma: Twenty-three

The Asia Times, reporting on the failure of UN special envoy Imrahim Gambari to meet with either Aung San Suu Kyi or the junta leader Sen. Gen. Than Shwe, quoted Mr Gambari:

It is our job, and a continuing challenge at the UN to make the impossible possible, and will continue my efforts at mediation regardless.

Nonetheless, I sometimes wonder whether it is realized that if I fail, and the UN fails, this would have negative consequences for the role of the organization in terms of mediation, conflict prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts, not only in [Myanmar] but throughout the world

Apparently:

He also passed along a letter to Than Shwe in relation to a tentatively planned visit by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon later this year, according to diplomats in Yangon. “The SG has also indicated his intention to return to Myanmar, when conditions are right, to continue his dialogue with the Myanmar leadership,” a senior UN spokesperson, Marie Okabe told journalists earlier this week.

Dare we pray that the UN general secretary will have more success than the Nigerian ex-minister, or since the international community, and notably China, exerted pressure on the junta to permit Mr Gambari’s visit can we pray that this afront to China’s honour may provoke firmer pressure?

Prayer for Burma: Day Twenty-two

A deal was signed on Thursday in Singapore, on the whole it is a great deal, it promotes trade between ASEAN and NZ (and Australia too). But as the Alliance spokesperson said:

Free trade here will mean choice New Zealand products will serve at the tables of the fascist junta of Myanmar [Burma], while we get cheap products produced by slave labor in Myanmar [Burma] destroying jobs in New Zealand.

Prayer for Burma: Day twenty-one

GIANT: Plans are being developed for the future of Auckland Zoo's young Asian elephant Burma, who couldn't remain on her own if her good friend Kashin died.

Auckland zoo has two elephants, the younger one is called “Burma”. As Stuff an NZ news site reports the older elephant “Kashin” is not getting any younger. They quote zoo director Jonathan Wilcken:

Kashin’s approaching 40 and for some time now she’s been
treated for a few things, arthritis and chronic joint problems.
This has prompted us to start thinking about the future and our responsibilities to Burma.

If one (potentially) lonely elephant causes a Zoo staff to think about their “responsibilities to Burma” perhaps we can pray that something will cause the rest of us, and especially our governments to think about our responsibilities to the country Burma where not only elephants but millions of people face loneliness as their members of their families either die or a are separated from them by the actions of a small clique of men with guns (and tanks and the rest of the necessary equipment for oppression).

Prayer for Burma: Day twenty

According to ABC, the visit of UN special envoy Mr Gambari was unsuccessful in making progress in negotiations between opposition groups and the junta:

…he failed to meet with either the NLD’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, or General Than Shwe, Burma’s chief military leader.

Meanwhile The Independent reports that:

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi believe the imprisoned Burmese democracy leader
may have launched a hunger strike over the military regime’s refusal to hold
talks about democratic reforms.

Prayer for Burma: Day ninteen – Saw Eh T’mwee

This story and picture comes from Saw Eh T’mwee from the superb unseen mae la collection of beautiful pictures and sad but hopefilled stories.

Saw Eh T'Mwee

Saw Eh T’Mwee

I fled my homeland because my life was in danger. When the Burmese military first attacked my village they killed all of our animals, even our chickens. They forced us to build a military camp for them in our village. No one was paid for the labor or supplies we used to build their camp. They called it “volunteer labor”. One day they came and took my brother away. He was forced to travel with them to a nearby village. His job was to walk in front of the soldiers in case there were any landmines. My brother was lucky that day because no landmines exploded. Others have been less lucky.

I want to be a politician. If our people understand politics we can secure our human rights and achieve freedom. If we have representatives we can stand up to oppression and gain international support. I love the ideas of Gandhi and would like to learn more about other leaders like him. Unfortunately in Burma, if we try to protest non-violently we are killed, especially the ethnic minorities. Therefore we need soldiers to defend ourselves from the Burmese military. No one else protects our people from their constant attacks. Still I believe through politics we can make greater changes and work towards democracy.

Prayer for Burma: Day eighteen

The focus of this daily prayer is to mark the 1988 protests and their violent and brutal suppression, in ways that pray for the present. For people faced with the power of an unrestrained government determined to suppress any demand for change the knowledge that others “outside” know and care is precious. Today we are visiting a local church that is sending a team to Mae Sot and to PhoPra soon. So let’s pray for such visits. That the foreigners who go may be humble and open, listen and learn, friendly and respectful. That the hosts who receive them, with generosity and warmth, may receive blessing in return for their gifts of food and housing, time and care. That those who visit may remember and when they return home talk to friends and neighbours.