So Aunty!

... and oh so true

Monday, October 01, 2007

On Burma, a joint statement by Karenni grassroots organisations

01 October 2007

A Joint Statement of Civic Grassroots Organizations of the Karenni (Kayah) State on the Protests of the Monks and People inside Burma

We, the civic grassroots organizations of Karenni (Kayah) State, express our strongest support for solidarity and unity with the movement of revered monks, students and fellow citizens of Burma and their peaceful expression of and protests over the hardships and myriad of problems in Burma. Decades of mismanagement of the country's economy by the military rulers caused Burma to be designated by the United Nations as among the poorest nations in the world, while Burmese people suffer oppression and egregious human rights violations under the military dictatorship.

The military regime has persistently suppressed revered monks, students and civilians alike, who peacefully demand an end to military dictatorship and emergence of a government democratically elected by the people, branding the latter as the enemies of the people. In the States of other ethnic nationalities, the military government has consistently committed arbitrary arrests and summary execution, killed innocent civilians, and burned their villages to deprive them of shelter.

Revered monks and civilians who have been staging peaceful protests since the past few weeks to demand the fall of fuel prices and a tripartite dialog are again suppressed brutally through the use of arms. Because of a handful of generals, intent on hanging onto power, the blood of innocent civilians and revered monks has been spilled. As long as the military dictators remain in power, Burma will continue to spiral into poverty and monastic communities and civilians will continue to suffer oppression and repression. Therefore, a change in Burma needs to be brought about as a matter of urgency and if not, the future generations of Burmese people will be destined to suffer the same fate as ours under a handful of generals.

Therefore, WE, the civic grassroots organizations of Karenni (Kayah) State would like to express our solidarity with, and admiration to, the courageous monks, students and fellow citizens of Burma who are putting their lives at risk to protest against the government to bring about change. We would, therefore, like to express our conviction in this Statement that the current movement of our revered monks and fellow citizens will lead us to the path toward a dialog that will truly foster national reconciliation and freedom from poverty, desired by the people of Burma.

On behalf of the People of Karenni (Kayah) State, WE further demand State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) that it:

  1. Immediately end the violent suppression of the peaceful demonstrations and allow freedom of expression for the people of Burma;
  1. Immediately and unconditionally release the monks and the people as well as the political prisoners who are arrested for exercising their freedom of expression;
  1. Make commodity prices affordable to the vast majority of the people;
  1. Find a political solution to the problems of Burma through a tripartite dialog as soon as possible;
  1. Immediately stop all efforts and cease all the operations to dam Than Lwin (Salween) River.

Civic grassroots organizations of Karenni (Kayah) State are:

Karenni Social Welfare and Development Center (KSWDC)

Karenni Document Center (KDC)

Karenni National Women Organization (KNWO)

Karenni Student Union (KSU)

Karenni National Youth Organization (KNYO)

Karenni Ever Green (KEG)

Karenni Computer Education Institute (KCEI)

Karenni Mobile Medical Team (KMMT)

Karenni Religion, Culture Development Committee (KRCDC)

Kayan Women Union-Thailand (KyWU-T)

Contact Information

Moe Moe Aung

089 957 1867

Friday, August 24, 2007

Die Schule's out

Today was our final German class.

We'd signed up for an intensive language course, which it certainly was, though it had the concurrent and inevitable 'free gift' of being an intensive socialisation process too.

The things we've learned about each other through daily exposure every weekday for the past month. Seemingly innocuous at first, in retrospect, it's quite incredible what our little exchanges in broken, unconjugated, ungrammatical and incoherent Deutsch have revealed about each person: our schedules, backgrounds, where we live, what we buy at the supermarket, etc.

A hodgepodge of photos from today's very relaxed session:

Manjit and Nicolas with 'der Ball' ...

... Daniel and Ramon during the number-guessing game ...

... Lino rising to the occasion as game moderator and scribe ...

... Daniel (the Younger) and Elma holding up the Young Persons' Front ...

... und Alles zusammen ...

Friday, August 17, 2007

10 steps to unsere gastfreundschaft

What do we do when friends come a-visiting?

1. Welcome them with open arms!

2. Bombard them with 100 questions first thing in the morning after their overnight train journey.

3. Talk non-stop the entire afternoon. Stuff them silly with Swiss Delight (Sprungli's Luxembourgeli).

4. Drive them to the countryside and set them to work in the kitchen. Chop chop, we're already running late for dinner!

5. Photograph them with a 40 day old baby. Again ... and again.

6. Force-feed them schwarzwaelder torte (blackforest cake).

7. Wish them a good night's sleep on a (single) camping mattress.

8. Rouse them for breakfast at the crack of dawn so Ste can enjoy some airtime too.

9. Make them buy us lunch at a superb vegetarian restaurant in the city centre.

10. Send them off at the airport/train station ... but only after confirming plans for our next pleasurable encounter.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Road trip to Appenzell

After a morning of toil for Deutschkurs and the reluctant but pragmatic acceptance of 'that's just how it is though it doesn't sound anything like the way I think it should', we set off on our short road trip to Appenzell.

Ste, determined that Wifey should see more of his beautiful country, particularly when it is sun-kissed and not snow-ridden, cleared the way for a perfect afternoon. Map? Check. Guide book? Check. Partner who nods off in moving vehicles? Check. Nothing would stand between us and the pristine, rolling Appenzellen countryside. Certainly not cloudy windscreens!

The town of Appenzell is a show-stopping Dulux dream. Historical facades the colour of sugary bon-bons: pastel pink, yellow, salmon ... and the grander ones with traditional motifs rendered in painstaking detail, a clear indication of the original owner's wealth and status.

Peeping out seductively from between the rows of houses was the region's famous undulating landscape - it's hilly ... hills. According to Ste, the locals say that you can't put down (and balance) a bowl of soup anywhere on Appenzell-land. We opted for a cake and pastry snack anyway.

We wandered past the outskirts of town, beyond the public swimming pool with a tangle of kindercarts parked outside and fellow walkers nodding, "Gruezi."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The chapter which isn't written ... will never be written

August is upon us! This calls for a momentous monthly page-turning of the desktop calendar! Pa da dum ...

I bought the calendar in Stone Town, Zanzibar, in March. It wasn't so much the Javed Jafferji photography (Mzee J. is the Father of all coffee table books about Zanzibar) which called out to me, but rather the Kiswahili proverbs. One for every month of the year.

After all, I had it in my mind that the cadence of a foreign language often makes a person seem more knowledgeable. And worldly. Cultured. Well-traveled. Informed. Able to identify months and dates in a single bound.

So anyway, the thought-provoking proverb for this month (accompanied by an awesome photo of a dhow sailing into the sunset) is:

Nahodha wengi, chombo huenda mrama.
A ship with many captains does not sail properly.

The allusion seems fairly obvious, in a 'too many cooks spoil the broth' way. Though that pales in comparison to my favourite one, from April:

Nyani haoni kundule huona kundu la mwenziwe.
The ape does not see his own backside, he sees his companion's.

Indeed. And that is why I keep mine all covered up, out of sight and out of mind.

But seriously, there is much room for interpretation (and misinterpretation) of this particular proverb. My own sense of it is that it's far easier to figure out someone else's ... toosh, than one's own. Although ... that isn't necessarily the case if things unfold in the manner of Ste's phrase of doom - 'gone tits up'.

Looking ahead, I think November's is profound in its sheer simplicity:

Hakuna siri ya watu wawili. There is no secret between two people.

Now that is a winner.