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Regarding ABSDF (r)
While I have the greatest respect for BRC, I feel that the substance of
their reply to Chris Johnston is unhelpful and somewhat inaccurate.
The greatest problem facing everyone working for democracy in Burma is
disunity, and this must be overcome not by taking sides in disputes but
by encouraging all sides to work together for the common cause.
Both factions of the ABSDF play an important part in the struggle, and
both contribute greatly to it. To say that one faction is 'more
democratic' than the other, or more deserving of praise is to present an
utterly biased and one-sided opinion which reflects poorly on the good
name of BRC-Japan.
Apportioning blame to one group will have the unfortunate effect of
starting a mud-slinging match which will divert attention from the real
issues and needlessly create negative propaganda. Neither ABSDF group is
perfect, but then they are no better or worse than any of the other
Let us encourage unity, and dwell on strengths rather than weaknesses.
On Mon, 4 Sep 1995 NBH03114@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> From: "=?ISO-2022-JP?B?GyRCQG46aiEhN3UbKEI=?= " <NBH03114@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Burmese Relief Center--Japan
> DATE:September 4, 1995
> TIME:11:28PM JST
> (This piece was written in July, but BRC-J was unable to
> upload it during our stay in Thailand. We submit it now, with
> apologies for its lateness.)
> Early this summer Christopher Johnston posted an article on
> the net entitled "Whispers on the Web." We appreciate Mr.
> Johnston's concern for democracy in Burma, but we fear that
> his article presents a somewhat distorted picture of the
> situation on the border.
> It is unfortunate that Mr. Johnston happened to link up with
> the splinter group led by Moe Thee Zun rather than the
> legitimate mainstream ABSDF under Dr. Naing Aung.
> Surfers on the BurmaNet may have noticed that there are two
> sources of information, both calling itself ABSDF. While Moe
> Thee Zun's voice may be more frequently heard and thus
> seemingly louder, Dr. Naing Aung's is certainly clearer, less
> strident, and more democratic in its approach to the issues,
> often preferring to to be heard in conjunction with other
> pro-democracy groups.
> Let us first look at the history of ABSDF. The first chairman,
> elected in 1988, was Ko Htun Aung Gyaw, a young man who
> had been imprisoned in the 70s because of his involvement in
> the demonstrations at the time of U Thant's funeral. (Ko Htun
> Aung Gyaw is now working for Burmese democracy in the
> United States.)
> At the end of 1989 ABSDF held a Second Conference at which
> Moe Thee Zun, newly arrived at the border, was elected
> chairman for a two-year term. Despite fears on the part of
> several important members, Moe Thee Zun's democratic
> election was recognized.
> In October 1991, at the Third Conference of the ABSDF,
> realizing that he would not be re-elected, Moe Thee Zun
> walked out of the conference and Dr. Naing Aung was elected
> by secret ballot. Moe Thee Zun, refusing to accept defeat,
> continued to use the name ABSDF, but he became chairman of
> the "Central Leading Committee," as opposed to the "Central
> At an emergency conference held at the students' headquarters
> of Dawn Gwin in July of 1993, Dr. Naing Aung was re-elected
> chairman. The mainstream ABSDF is an active participant in
> the National Council of the Union of Burma, the umbrella
> organization comprising those elected in the 1990 election who
> fled to the border, all the ethnic groups opposed to the SLORC,
> and the students.
> According to ABSDF analysis, after the fall of Manerplaw and
> the old Dawn Gwin headquarters, there are two crucial aspects
> to the political situation--civil disobedience and conflict
> between SLORC and groups which have entered into a
> To this end ABSDF is strengthening its underground network
> inside the country to make political contacts and to educate the
> people by producing and distributing materials in Burmese on
> federalism, human rights, and democracy, and by contributing
> to the Democratic Voice of Burma which broadcasts into
> Burma daily from Norway.
> As a member of Democratic Alliance of Burma, ABSDF
> played a prominent role in producing a draft constitution. This
> Federal Union of Burma Constitution is not intended as a
> finished product, but as a model, to be studied, discussed,
> responded to, and improved upon. It is hoped that this process
> will help the people and their leaders to gain a better
> understanding of democracy and human rights.
> ABSDF cooperates very closely and practically with most of
> the ethnic minorities. Since 1988 ABSDF has fought hand in
> hand with Karen National Union. Even as of this writing (July
> 1995) ABSDF members are fighting along side of the Karenni
> National Progressive Party, after SLORC broke its own
> cease-fire agreement. In the north ABSDF members are
> cooperating with the Kachin Independence Organization. In
> every region, there is regular discussion between ABSDF
> leaders and leaders of the ethnic groups. The ethnic minorities
> have allowed ABSDF to use their land and have given them
> the opportunity to have contact with common people. In
> return, ABSDF, in cooperation with the leaders, provides
> medical care and education for the people.
> All along the Thai-Burma border, in Kachin State, throughout
> Burma, along the border with India, in Norway, in the United
> States, in Germany, in Australia, and in England, members of
> ABSDF are working to bring about real democracy for their
> beloved homeland.
> The true picture is much brighter than the one that Christopher
> Johnston invokes by stating that the Tenasserim jungle valleys
> hold "the last refuge for democracy-minded rebels." ABSDF,
> like all Burmese, except only the SLORC leaders, look to
> Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for leadership and aim to practice
> what she teaches. ABSDF supports Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
> in her call for national reconciliation. Should the SLORC
> refuse her initiative, however, ABSDF is prepared to stand fast
> with the people, continuing its struggle, until, with the
> overthrow of the military dictatorship, there can be genuine
> peace in Burma.
> The following is taken from "Burma in Revolt, Opium and
> Insurgency Since 1948," by Berttil Lintner, Westview Press,
> > Frictions soon arose between the original group and the late->comers. Acco
> rding to Bo Kyaw Zaw: "Aung San and Ne
> >Win quarrelled quite often [in Hainan] . . . . Aung San was
> >always very straightforward; Ne Win much more cunning
> >and calculating. But Aung San's main objection to Ne Win
> >was his immoral character. He was a gambler and a
> >womaniser, which the strict moralist Aung San--and the rest
> >of us as well--despised. But for the sake of unity, we kept
> >together as much we could.