VOA Burmese Blog

May 28, 2010

Zoya Phan Interview

Filed under: Burma/ Myanmar,Feature Story,Interviews,Uncategorized — voaburmese @ 10:03 pm

Zoya Phan is a Karen refugee from Burma, and she came to the Voice of America studio to speak about her story. She is a well known exiled political activist, and she has written a book, Undaunted, which is an autobiography of her life.  Zoya was 14 years old when her village was burned to the ground by the military junta. She and her family fleed the village, and she later became a refugee in Thailand. She was given an opportunity to study in England, and has attributed her success to the education she received. In the two interviews, ( both in Burmese and English) , she discusses the importance of education.

As a leading activist for Burma, Zoya has met with many leaders, such as UK’s former prime minister, Gordon Brown. Zoya continues her struggle to get Burma its freedom, and is currently working for Burma Campaign UK.

Interview – English:

Interview- Burmese:

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May 24, 2010

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes a Baby in a Baby Carriage…

Filed under: Feature Story,Uncategorized — voaburmese @ 8:40 pm

Wedding Rings ( AP Photo)

– Kaye Lin

Last week, I picked up a book called “ Committed” from the library. The author of “Committed” is the same writer of “ Eat, Pray Love,” one of my all time favorite books. Elizabeth Gilbert is an exceptional journalist, and her book, which turned into a blockbuster hit, is also turning into a movie starring Julia Roberts. In “ Eat ,Pray,Love” , Gilbert searches for life’s ultimate questions, while recovering from a divorce. In her adventure of finding inner peace, prayer and food, she also finds love again. In her sequel, Committed, she asks why people marry and the secret to attaining a happy marriage.

Gilbert travels to Southeast Asia to discover other cultures and research about the philosophy of marriage and the answers to a happy marriage. She learns the differences in the views on marriage between the East and the West. In the East, one’s family name is important; children are seen trying to please their parents to bring a respectable family name in society. When it comes to marriage, one marries someone who is approved by the parents.

Brides at an Indian Mass Marriage

Indian Brides ( AP photo)

One’s family reputation is of utmost importance. Hence, arranged marriages are still common in Asia. A suitable boy is chosen for the girl or vice versa- a suitable girl is chosen for the boy, by the family. In Burma, although girls are under strict custody of their parents, it is seldom that the parents force the girl to marry the man against their will.

I used to be very much against arranged marriages, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also become more open minded.  I’ve realized that arranged marriages also depend on the individual couple. In the West, everything is centered around the individual. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, it is always about “ me” – around one’s individual happiness. Quite contrary to the East, who are not too concerned of their individual happiness as they are about their family’s happiness.

American Wedding ( AP Photo)

A Bride and her Groom in NY ( AP Photo)

In the West, people marry for love, although statistics have shown that divorces occur frequently in the U.S.- even when a marriage is based on love. Gilbert points out that it is risky marrying for love, because nothing is certain; one can fall easily out of love. She also states that the odds of a marriage failing raises, as a couple has more children.

For Asians, marriage is not just about the union of the husband and the wife. The husband and the wife become part of the bigger whole; they are interdependent on the extended family. In Asia, a married couple lives with their parents, under the same roof.  Asians are serious when it comes to commitment. They will stay with their partners for as long as they can ( most of the time) until death do us part.  Is this necessarily a good factor of a marriage though? Should one endure a marriage because one is afraid of hurting the family name?

Another question that I raise after reading this book is, “ Are we all pre-wired to think that we have to get married, have babies and so on, or is this list of ‘To Dos’, what society has installed into our minds?” What do you think?

May 20, 2010

Thai Government Rejects Proposal to meet with Reds

Filed under: Feature Story,News — voaburmese @ 7:47 pm

The Thai government rejected a proposal led by the Thai Senate to meet with the opposition group leaders, also known as the Red Shirts. On Wednesday, the Red Shirts protested for hours in the capital’s Lumpini Park; later on the Thai military cracked down on the protest camp. 14 people died at the demonstration site and 7 of the Red Shirt leaders were arrested on Wednesday. With more military securing Bangkok, Reds think that a military crackdown could result. As they see more and more military on the streets, the Reds  say a civil war may be on its way.

May 19, 2010

Interview with Benedict Rogers- Author of ” Than Shwe- Unmasking Burma’s Tyrant”

Filed under: Burma/ Myanmar,Feature Story,Interviews — voaburmese @ 11:21 pm

Benedict Rogers, the East Asia Team Leader of Christian Solidarity Worldwide has  a motto ” to give a voice for the voiceless”, and in his new book he does just that. Rogers co-wrote a book called, “Than Shwe- Unmasking Burma’s Tyrant”  with Jeremy Woodrum, who worked for US Campaign for Burma. In this biography of Burma’s dictator, Than Shwe, Rogers tells the story of the people of Burma and how they live under a military regime.

When asked by VOA on how he gathered information about the general as information is hard to grasp in Burma since there is no freedom of press in the country, Rogers says it was difficult, but he had great first -hand information and sources. He interviewed people that had known Than Shwe at one time in his career. Rogers also talks about Than Shwe’s legacy and about what he thinks of his character.
Find out more about Burma’s military dictator. Watch the interview:

English Version:

Burmese Version:

May 17, 2010

Update: Seh Daeng’s Death- Impact on Thailand?

Filed under: Uncategorized — voaburmese @ 4:36 pm

After days of unrest and chaos, the death toll in Thailand has risen to a total of 36, including the death of a major opposition leader, Major Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol also known as Seh Daeng. He was shot in the head on Thursday as he was giving an interview to a foreign reporter.

Death of Seh Daeng….what will happen?

The death of protest leader, Seh Daeng has left many speechless. Where will the protests go after his death? Some speculate that it will get worse as he was such a big figure among the opposition group. Loyal supporters of Seh Daeng even call themselves the “ Black Shirts”, and they say they are willing to do more- to even use violence to get their revenge and get attain their goal. Although some loved Seh Daeng, others thought that he was an extremist- he was very controlling.

During an email conversation I had with a friend in Bangkok, ( a friend which does not want to be named) he wrote, “ Although, I feel sorry for the opposition group, I am not happy with the leaders of the Reds.” He thought that the leaders were “ opportunists” ( his own words), only trying to seek their own gain and power.

It is reported that more than 250 people have been wounded or injured. The Thai military has given a deadline of mid-afternoon for protesters to leave their camp site in the middle of Bangkok. The military has especially warned women and children to leave the site. The Red Cross has gone into the camp – allotting food and aid.

May 14, 2010

Latest Footage of the Thailand Protests- Major ” Seh Daeng” shot in the head

Filed under: Uncategorized — voaburmese @ 5:58 pm

This is the latest footage of Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol right after he was shot in the head as he was giving an interview to journalists at the Red Shirts’ protesting site. In the video, he was carried into the hospital.

We hear that General Sawasdipol is unconcscious and in intensive care at Bangkok hospital. He is also known by his nick name “ Seh Daeng”. The prime minister has accused Seh Daeng, of prolonging the Red Shirt demonstrations. The protests Friday left 7 people dead and 101 injured. Two of the injured people were a Polish man and a Burmese migrant worker.

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