Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Next Move: Are National Reconciliation and a Peaceful Revolution Possible in Burma?


Brookline, MA

Since being freed from two decades of house arrest two weeks ago, Burma’s dissident number one, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been busily touring Yangon and interviewing with foreign media, diplomats, local citizens, and political leaders. She has long called for “genuine dialogue” with Burma’s current junta as well as “national reconciliation” with all ethnic armies and political prisoners. And yet, the country’s military rulers have spurned and repressed her democracy movement, a struggle against all odds.

Now there are signs that her practical approach is changing. She has supported US and international sanctions in the past, but now she says she is willing to reconsider whether their targeted effects are not working and whether they might negatively affect Burma’s civilians and poor, studying reports from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As for reconciliation, a vague and oft-heard buzzword in Burma, she seems to realize the need to adopt a more pragmatic political stance. “She needs to translate what she says into something realistic,” said Ko Aung Naing Oo, a Bangkok-based political consultant. “Reconciliation is an overused word in Burma and no one has brought it down to a realistic, workable level.”

She has reached out to some of the more open-minded factions in the junta, reiterating that she doesn’t want to exclude the current ruling officers from the reconciliation process: “Dialogue must be a win-win situation for both parties. No one should be excluded from politics, since it is related to everyone,” Daw Suu Kyi told The Irrawaddy in an interview November 20. As for those in the military who quietly support her: “If they want change, they have to make it happen. As I said earlier, I don’t believe in just imagining how things might be better. If we expect something, we must strive for it.”

But her policies still remain vague, as her newfound freedoms have yet to be tested. She has spoken openly of a “peaceful revolution,” and she has met with her disbanded political party, the National League for Democracy, which chose to boycott the recent elections this month. “There are always some who participate in politics inside Parliament, and others who are involved in politics outside Parliament. We will be in the latter category,” Daw Suu Kyi explained. “Since we have some experience with how they [the Union Solidarity & Development Party (USDP), Burma’s ruling party] engage in political activities, we will use various means to carry out our political activities outside the Parliament.”

Is there a new political landscape in Burma? Many human rights activists will decry that theory, pointing to the rigged elections, the more than 2,100 political prisoners remaining behind bars, and the gross violations of villagers’ rights and basic safety perpetrated by the Burmese military. However, the Lady, as Daw Suu Kyi is referred to, has so far enjoyed considerable freedom of expression, and her abilities to mobilize opposition remain a defining factor in the struggle for a new identity politics in Burma. For foreign observers and democratic forces in and around Burma, cautious optimism and informed engagement remain in order.

¹ “Suu Kyi Pledges No Pullback,” in The Wall Street Journal, 20 November, 2010.

² “If We Want Change, We Have to Make It Happen,” in The Irrawaddy, 20 November, 2010; emphasis added.

 

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Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Human Rights | Leave a comment

The Farce of Vietnam’s Communist Party


Seattle, WA

Poster celebrating eighty years since the founding of Vietnam's Communist Party by Ho Chi Minh

 

The music’s stopped, but they’re still dancing. You can still hear them singing the same revolutionary-nationalist songs, though the words are hollow, and their ideology no longer applies. The shell of international communism has been chipped, but the aging generation of political leaders in Vietnam’s Communist Party (VCP) won’t just go away.

How could they merely back down and walk away? The Vietnamese nationalist movement was born during late French colonialism in the 19th century. With such anti-French and pro-independence heroes as Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940) and Phan Chu Trinh (1872-1926) during the bleak years of the early 20th century, the revolutionary movement advanced against all odds, repressed as it was by French domination. The immemorial Nguyen Ai Quoc (later to be Ho Chi Minh) coalesced the Vietnamese independence struggle with expert diplomacy, a keen understanding of international history, and an eclectic philosophy influenced by the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and even the writers of the US Declaration of Independence. The later mass-mobilization of peasants as well as urban intellectuals against the French swept Ho Chi Minh to power over the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945.

Ho Chi Minh’s legacy and the indelible mark of international communism, which he absorbed as a means to wage war against imperialist powers, bears its mark on the subsequent rhetoric and policy of Vietnam’s Politburo. In fact, it seems the VCP has erected an elaborate glass house, the removal of one piece of which would spell the crushing downfall of the legitimate powers that be.

Andrew Lam,¹ a Vietnamese-American novelist, journalist, and NPR contributor living in San Fransisco, finds humor in the charade. He is also the son of a famous Southern Vietnamese Army General, Lam Quang Thi, who fought with both the French and the Americans against Ho Chi Minh’s communist “rebels”. Andrew spoke seriously about the dire state of affairs in modern Vietnam, citing the lack of charismatic leadership in the echelons of today’s VCP. But he laughs uproariously when spurred to think of the irony in the policy of constructing statues to honor peasants while evicting those peasants in land relocations, uprooted by state development projects and yet united under a single banner of communism. Or how Politburo members all drive around Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce cars and display flashy cell phones in a competition to exude prestige based on base materialism and bland party loyalty.

The way Lam sees it, the VCP is in fact very insecure. An insightful linguistics theorist, he says the Party is trapped by its own language. The Party’s legitimacy is premised on its promises for future prosperity, as Vietnam’s economy has grown rapidly with urban industrialization, cheap labor, and a booming export market. But Lam argues that Vietnamese culture is more than just material. At least Uncle Ho (a common reference to Ho Chi Minh among Vietnamese people) had a sort of “spiritual leadership” that enabled him to inspire millions of Vietnamese in the struggle for liberation. That is what’s missing today, Lam laments.

Vietnam’s Communist Party will need to find a new song to sing, perhaps give up the dance, and admit the fallacy of some of its policies. Corruption and nepotism alongside rote education and the perpetuation of now meaningless and outdated Marxist-Leninist theory (in light of Vietnam’s own consumerist obsession) threaten to stagnate the country’s youth. What Vietnam needs now is dynamic leadership, innovative thinking, and the desire to create rather than merely to consume and regurgitate.

¹ Andrew Lam is the author of Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora and, and he recently spoke in Seattle.

Posted in Vietnam | 2 Comments

A Vietnamese Folk Tale: The Origin of Rice Agriculture


Terraced Rice Agriculture in Sa Pa, Vietnam

Seattle, WA

A week away from Burma’s first elections in twenty years, the world awaits to see how events play out. Most say the elections won’t be free and fair, the junta-backed USDP (Union Solidarity and Development Party) largely tipped to win. It is likely immediate change will not be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, members of ASEAN met in Hanoi, Vietnam for the 17th Summit, amidst conflicting regional interests. North Korea fired on South Korean border guards. In Indonesia, Mount Merapi erupted, killing at least 35 people, while to the west a simultaneous earthquake-cum-tsunami struck, killing an additional 408 Indonesians, leaving more missing¹.

Yet this week I choose to bring up a short and amusing Vietnamese folk tale; it explains the legend of how rice agriculture began²:

As the legend explains it, the gods did not mean for humankind to labor so intensively in cultivating rice; in fact, rice was supposed to grow naturally, effortlessly, and abundantly. The gods sent a messenger spirit to bring rice to humankind, giving him two magical pouches, each containing a different variety of seed. The first one held seeds that would grow as soon as they hit the ground and would provide a bountiful harvest free of any strain. The second, however, would require more effort, but it would cause the earth to appear beautiful if given proper care.

Now, the gods intended for the first seeds to become rice, while the second should be grass. The rice would provide plenty of nutrition to all, while the grass would cover the land and make earth more habitable and picturesque. Of course, the messenger got the two pouches confused, and this caused great hardship for the humans! Rice was extremely difficult to grow, demanding months of back-breaking labor and attention, while the grass freely grew everywhere.

At this point, the gods became angry and kicked the faulted messenger spirit out of the heavens. They sent him down to earth in the form of a beetle, made to scurry around in the grass where he would have to dodge the step of marauding humans. Bad luck for all, it seemed!

Worse yet, trouble didn’t end there: again, the legend says, the gods meant to help humankind. So they ordered the rice to ball itself up and present itself in convenient rolls to humans so that they might collect it more easily for cooking. Obediently, the rice balls rolled into the very first house in the first village. Shocked by the sight, the lady of the house struck the rice balls with her broom, flinging the grains of rice in a thousand directions. Angry and skulking, the rice took to the fields and spurned humans. As it is to this day, men and women must go to the fields to cultivate rice. It is a difficult and time-consuming trade, but it provides the world with a great source of nutrition.

¹ Figures cited in The New York Times, Sunday, 31 Oct., 2010.

² This story is told as greater length in Hayslip, Le Ly. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey From War to Peace, 2nd ed. (New York: Plume Printing, 2003).

Posted in Southeast Asia, Vietnam | Leave a comment

Obama Administration Ups Involvement in Southeast Asia in an Attempt to “Contain” China


Seattle, WA

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates With Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie

Douglas Paal of the Carnegie Endowment recently commented on America’s bustling and reformed—we can only hope for the long term—foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region, calling the move “the most comprehensive burst of diplomatic and military activity in Asia, particularly South-East Asia, in decades.”¹

The moves he was referring to: the US military has recently resumed ties with Kopassus, the Indonesian special ops group accused of widespread human rights abuses during the transition from power during President Suharto’s 1998 fall from grace at the tail end of the great Asian economic collapse. Obama has tried repeatedly to engage the Burmese military junta, led by Senior General Than Shwe, sending Sen. Jim Webb (Dem., VA) and Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell to meet and greet the rogue state’s top leaders.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in July’s annual ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, recently raised the territorial conflicts over the South China Sea to the level of a “national interest,” mimicking China’s declaration of two “core national interests,” including the South China Sea dispute—it lays claims to several island areas: the Spratly’s and the Paracels to name the hot ones—and the issue of Taiwan’s political status. China insists on bilateral dialogue as a means of taking on each of the smaller parties involved in the ongoing maritime conflict, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. The area has been particularly heated lately: in March, North Korea is believed to have sunk a South Korean ship; China has detained nine Vietnamese fishermen on charges of intruding into their waters last month; and Japan recently caved under pressure from Beijing, releasing the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that had strayed into what Tokyo perceives as its waters.

The US military this summer participated in joint exercises at sea with South Korea’s navy, and deals made with Vietnam this year signal the highest point of military cooperation between Washington and Ha Noi (on the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War).

Of course, Chinese President Hu Jintao has his reasons to be fuming and paranoid about these amplified activities in the region surrounding his nation. With the ongoing currency wars, Beijing is under increasing US pressure to appreciate its currency value in order to raise the price of exports to a more realistic price competitive with US and global products. Many Chinese perceive this as a conspiracy to slow China’s growth. In many ways, US foreign policy is busily trying to secure regional ties in an effort to balance geopolitical power in the region. This is a natural process, even if it is labeled a “containment” strategy.

China’s lack of transparency is equally unsettling. Both players must be ready to discuss the issues on the table in a multilateral setting. China does not appear willing to do so, and has continually rebuffed efforts to open dialogue in the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum). The first ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting showed signs that US-China tensions are cooling—for now. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was able to shake hands and smile with his Beijing counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie.

The Economist’s Banyan column observed in August, “Absent without leave, America helped foster an overblown perception in the region of America’s decline and China’s ascent. It is now putting that right.”² Let us hope that the new US stance is concerned with more than just global “perception” of the US as a superpower, though. The ASEAN region demands a delicate process of multilateral engagement on many issues, ranging from economic cooperation to nonproliferation treaties to solving the regime crises in North Korea and Myanmar. More conversation and concessions must be forthcoming if the two biggest powers in the world are to find equitable military and trade relations as well as incorporate the numerous other rising powers in Southeast Asia.

¹ Cited in The Banyan, “They Have Returned,” in the Economist, 12 August 2010.

² Ibid; emphasis added.

Posted in Foreign Policy, Southeast Asia | 1 Comment

Is Boycotting Burma’s November Elections Wise?


Seattle, WA

While some in the opposition bloc within Burma and the exile community believe boycotting the upcoming Elections (November 7) to be a moral imperative, no one seems to rationalize why they urge Burma’s people to withhold their vote. The real question underlying the motive is this: is the suggested boycott an ethical decision or a pragmatic approach?

If it is the former, I agree: boycotting the “sham elections” (the phrase has stuck for a reason) orchestrated and manipulated by the ruling military generals (or newly formed civilian, pro-regime parties) would be taking the moral high ground. At some distant point in time, history may indeed show that those boycotters who refused to yield to the regime’s “roadmap to disciplined democracy” made a significant contribution to real democratic reform in Burma.

I’m not sure, however, that a boycott is a pragmatic approach to the election process at this time, no matter the devastatingly slim “opportunity” available for real political change. Consider a couple other dictatorial elections (shams that stuck) from recent history:

1. Venezuela 2005: As voters across Venezuela last week lined up for legislative elections, the opposition parties remained unsure if they could acquire a third of seats in the National Assembly. They hope to contest Chávez in the 2012 presidential elections by now winning a majority popular vote. They suffered a big setback in 2005 legislative elections when they chose to boycott the process, handing Chávez total domination of National Assembly seats. Since that calculated misadventure, the international community, while perhaps sympathizing, has refrained from backing any opposition parties within Venezuela. A top importer of oil to the US, the Senate has not chosen to impose sanctions on Venezuela. And the dance goes on, though now the opposition is participating in elections, aiming for a slow and deliberate act of political rebalancing.

2. Iran 2009: Global observers held their breath in June of 2009 in the highly contested election run-up, with Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition candidate, running against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When peaceful protests around the election were met with bloody crackdown, Ahmadinejad quickly claimed a resounding electoral victory and resumed office, stifling opposition with arbitrary detention, torture, and media crackdown. The world braced itself during the turmoil, hoping for a shift in political power, and yet none came. The US still maintains stiff sanctions against the country, but to no effect: Ahmadinejad has held onto power, ruthlessly suppressed human rights, and continued with aggressively defiant foreign policy tactics. Over a year since the fraudulent election, conditions don’t appear poised to change any time soon.

If the Burmese still think a boycott is in order, they may well consider the likely reaction of the international and regional powers. ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan seems ready to approve whatever results come of the election, and the UN has been slow to arrive at a unified position on the November elections. While the US has long maintained sanctions against authoritarian Burma’s government, the country’s junta has refused to budge, while allying itself with China and North Korea.

Nothing short of a complete democratic revolution led by a combination of opposition leader Daw Aung Suu Kyi and/or the monks of 2007’s Saffron Revolution would bring the junta to its knees, and Daw Suu Kyi’s release date is set for the week after elections. The nature of her freedom or transfer remains to be seen, and the community of monk leaders largely lives in exile across the Thai border at this point, where mobilization vis-à-vis the inside is weaker and less coordinated. While political change will not come overnight, let us carefully consider the ramifications of encouraging Burma’s citizens to boycott their first elections in twenty years.

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Civil Society, Foreign Policy | Leave a comment

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand Comes Under Pressure


Brookline, MA

In an unusually stifling move to quiet an admittedly rather sensitive discussion, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested that the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) not hold an event scheduled in Bangkok for September 13, 2010:

While the Royal Thai Government attaches great importance to the principles of freedom of expression and diversity of views, it also has a long-standing position of not allowing organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries. I therefore hope that the FCCT will respect this position and not allow its premises to be used for such activities.¹

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in conjunction with the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) proposed the conference in order to discuss the current situation of human rights in Vietnam and present a new publication, entitled ‘From Rhetoric to Reality: Human Rights in Vietnam.’

The gist of the report documents the discrepancy between Vietnam’s (2010 ASEAN Chair) rhetoric of the standard of human rights, on the one hand, and its human rights abuses in practice, on the other:

In fact, human rights violations in Vietnam have increased during its chairmanship of ASEAN, with a serious crackdown against freedom of expression, repression of religious communities, stifling of freedom of the press and Internet, widespread use of the death penalty, and abuses of women’s rights. Police violence is steadily increasing. In 2010, Police frequently used force to disband peaceful demonstrations, and several people died under Police interrogation, such as a Catholic mourner in Con Dau and a young man beaten to death for not wearing a motor-bike helmet in Bac Giang.

Alongside the use of coercion and violence, the Vietnamese authorities use the law to suppress political dissent. Vaguely-defined “national security” provisions in the Vietnamese Penal Code – seven of which carry the death penalty – are used to detain peaceful critics, religious followers and human rights defenders, and directives legalize detention without trial.

Why should Thailand want to suppress an open discussion of human rights abuses in Vietnam? Well one reason may have been – and this is speculation – direct pressure from the ASEAN Chairmanship (i.e., Vietnam).

In a lecture given by H.E. Surapong Jayanama, Advisor to the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, at Chiang Mai University last month, Mr. Surapong made some conjectures regarding ASEAN’s self-image as a regional power. He postulated that some ASEAN nations (Singapore especially) feared the overweening influence of democracy as represented by Thailand (a nominal democracy) and the Philippines (again, hardly an exemplar of transparency and anti-corruption). These semi-authoritarian nations sought to counterbalance this democratization effect by inviting autocratic governments such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia (during Suharto’s reign).

Surapong lamented that the ASEAN charter makes no provisions for penalties or the expulsion of unruly members. Moreover, it has no definitive admission criteria. A non-binding charter is better than none, he suggested, because it represents a benchmark with which to monitor member nations’ behavior.

But this is water under the bridge. ASEAN is largely a self-protecting and internal investment-driven, geopolitical body. There’s hardly much criticism from within and amongst member nations. Just look at the general support ASEAN has lent to Burma’s military regime-led “roadmap to discipline-flourishing democracy” and the (unfair) elections scheduled for November.

In fact, Thailand has cracked down on media freedom heavily in the past, and the Thai government currently blocks an unprecedented amount of websites. The media coverage during the Red Shirt protests earlier this year was completely one-sided, pro-regime, and pro-monarchy. Thailand has a long way to go in balancing out a formal reconciliation process and mending the wounds of its divisive power politics. Deep rifts remain in Thai society.

A similar roadblock prevented the FCCT from having a free and fair discussion of the June 2004 FTA (Free Trade Agreement) Negotiations which took place in Hawaii that year. Dr. Jeffrey Race, a longtime Thailand-Southeast Asia analyst, was set to give a talk on the rule of law in Thailand, presenting excerpts from prior FTA negotiations in Washington. The FCCT contacted him, however, explaining that he would not be able to give said talk, because the Club “had received phone calls from two official agencies, details of which [they] could not reveal.”

Further, Dr. Race commented that the “delicate choice of words (‘I have received legal advice’) signalled to us that the FCCT was under threat of litigation if it facilitated documentation of the condition of the rule of law in Thailand.”²  Dr. Race pointed out to me in private correspondence (email, 12 September, 2010) that the “two official agencies” were the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy. Apparently, Race was privy to some potentially damaging information.

In a retort, the FCCT published an article in The Nation, alleging Dr. Race declined the invitation to speak and complained of censorship:

We invited Dr Race to participate as a panellist because he attended a public hearing on the FTA in Washington earlier this year and expressed interest in discussing a particular issue related to the negotiations – the rule of law in Thailand. However, Dr Race chose not to participate after we asked him not to distribute what we understood to be documents pertaining to specific court cases that were of questionable relevance to the discussion. We made this request based on independent legal advice to avoid putting the FCCT at risk of being used as a platform for Dr Race’s personal grievances and being held culpable in any way…It was made clear to Dr Race that the FCCT is an open forum where all guests are encouraged to express their views freely. We invited him several times to join in the discussion, but he declined and instead made a brief statement from the floor implying that he was a victim of censorship.³

This does not explain why both the Thai FM and the US Embassy joined to block his presentation. Nor does it explain why their motions of censorship were removed from the official record, as Race pointed out to me in that email conversation. However, as seen in the Thai FM’s recent censorship of the FCCT (2010) panel on Vietnam’s human rights record, Thailand is hardly reluctant to suppress free discussion of sensitive issues. It seems the current wave of Thai censorship of Red Shirt media, as well as the overwhelming bias promoting the ruling PM Abhisit Vejjajiva and the powers that be, extend to a larger, regional level, protecting other ASEAN regimes such as Vietnam’s Communist Party: a worrisome trend.

¹ Email from Khun Thani Thongphakdi, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affair’s acting Director General of the Department of Information. Cited in an email from the Executive Committee of the FCCT, 12 September 2010.

² Dr. Jeffrey Race, in the Bangkok Post, 26 June 2004.

³ Daniel Loverling, VP FCCT, “Letters,” in The Nation, 29 June 2004.

Posted in Human Rights, Thailand, Vietnam | Leave a comment

A Trip to North Thailand – Shan Burma Border


Brookline, MA

It was one of my last weekends in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I was all set to go to a Handsome Furs concert on Saturday night. It was shaping up to be a good weekend. Then a regional HIV/AIDS trainer who’d done some work for UNICEF in Burma and Thailand invited me to make a trip with him to Wiang Haeng. We were to go three to four hours north to the uppermost part of Chiang Mai province on the Shan Burma border. A project he had been working on there for a long time had recently won the prestigious UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Red Ribbon Award. It’s a novice monk center (ages 5 – 16 roughly), where a small community of young monks spread HIV/AIDS awareness to the surrounding villages.

It was an opportunity not to be missed, to be sure. But the choice boiled down to rock and roll versus monks and HIV. As you can probably surmise by the title, I chose to go on the trip. Dr. Laurie Mound, the brilliant UNICEF liaison/former Thai Theravada forest monk, picked me up in the morning nearby Dunkin’ Donuts. We drove out of town and toward the distant mountain range that marks the Thai-Burma border area. After about two hours on the main highway, we turned left on another smaller route that took us up and up into the swirling mountains near our destination.

Dr. Laurie Mound and Toon, one of the novice monks of Plikwiwbk Dharma Center

We pulled into Plikwiwbk Dharma Center [sic] around noon and met the head monk, Phra Tanee, an inspiring and yet modest Buddhist with a beaming smile. We were immediately served a steaming lunch of plenty. We had piles of white rice and fresh vegetables, grown on the farm (the novices also do some organic farming and compost fertilizer from the weeds that grow in their lotus pond).

It poured all afternoon (‘tis the monsoon season), and so we stayed in. Later in the afternoon, we headed 15 km away to the border, which has now shifted to run right through a formerly Thai monastery that had close links to the novice monk center I was staying in. Since 2004, the Burmese army has set up camp in the old novice quarters, and the old market is all overgrown because it had been mortared so heavily and is now covered by landmines. When the Burmese army advanced so aggressively, the Thai army was called in to force a measure of neutrality.

The Burmese army's barracks, formerly the novice monks' quarters on the Thai side, near Wiang Haeng

As a result, a lot of the novice monks are Shan runaways who fled the Burmese army’s incursion into their homelands. Without Phra Tanee’s guidance, many of them would have no school or food.

Phra Tanee, head monk of Plikwiwbk Dharma Center

On the second and last day (I only stayed one night), the monks at a nearby school had organized a large, formal blessing ceremony to give thanks to Laurie. Arriving with Laurie, I was fortunate to be included, though I hardly deserved the front row status and intimate white string blessing ceremony. I didn’t deserve their profound thanks. The senior monks sat on the side, six or seven in a line connected by a white string, which was in turn connected to two wreaths, one for Laurie’s head, and one for mine. They chanted for an hour, during which hundreds of novice monks sat on the floor, and Laurie and I sat cross-legged in front. I was squirming uncomfortably by the end, from the pressure on my knees and ankles. At the conclusion, we prostrated to the senior monk and he cut our strings, giving us two bracelets that would bring us a long life of prosperity and health.

After this, we had coffee with Phra Tanee and said our thanks. We were on our way back to Chiang Mai before noon, again starting the slow haul over the mountains.

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Human Rights, Thailand | 2 Comments