-While Burma is chasing the $ - Let's not forget it is also still chasing its ethnic minorities.
-Flying Sporran Weekend Diary-
-While Myanmar is coming out of its shell there is very little sign of a let up in its army’s war with its ethnic minorities – the biggest of which are the Karen, Shan, and Kachin.
One well known organisation involved in providing relief to the suffering is the Free Burma Rangers.
While this organisation is controversial because it has a heavy Christian evangelical philosophy and because its members carry weapons, it has appeared to have done some amazing aid work deep inside Burma.
Journalists who go into the frontier areas of what I still refer to as Burma prefer to be with people who know what they are doing – and they feel a lot safer if the people they are with have something with which to defend themselves.
As a reminder that the ethnic wars continue, this announcement, below came in from the The Free Burma Rangers at the weekend. Zau Hkawng was a ‘Good Life Counselor’ whose job was to administer to the needs of families in villages visited.
According to this article by LA based Adam Skolnick the ex-US Special Forces man behind the FBR has a 12-year-old blond haired daughter who shoots with a bow and arrow. I’m hoping he really does not send her into action. Worth a read though.
|A Force 136 veteran still in the jungles of Burma - without pension of course|
“On 16 August 2012, Zau Hkwang was carrying food and giving assistance to Kachin soldiers who were in a line of defense protecting the Kachin people under attack by the Burma Army in Pang Wa, Kachin State.
“The Burma Army overwhelmed the Kachin position and the Kachin soldiers were forced to retreat.
Zau Hkawng chose to cover their retreat and remained as the last man in the position until all others had escaped.
“By his actions the Burma Army was not able to kill more of the Kachin and were slowed in the taking of the position. In doing this he lost his life. He was last seen defending the hill alone. His body was recovered on 10 December 2012 after the Burma Army left the immediate area.
“Zau Hkawng said he joined the FBR because he loved his people and wanted to serve them well. In his role as a Good Life Club counselor he focused on the needs of women and children.The Kachin and Karen fought with Orde Wingate's 'Chindits' during the Second World War against the Japanese and Burmese.
“He was a loving, energetic and humble young man who gave his all to anyone who needed help. We thank God for him and for his life and are sad for his death. In the midst of our sorrow we trust that nothing precious is eternally lost in God’s hands.
“And we believe we will see him again in the place God has prepared for all of us. We honor Zau Hkwang’s courage. His loss makes us more determined to make good his sacrifice for freedom, justice and reconciliation for all in Burma".
When I first came to Asia I spent a lot of time with the Karen National Liberation Army, whose senior officers, now passed away, were in Force 136 fighting with the British behind enemy lines.
|Andrew Drummond with Karen National Liberation Army for BBC Everyman 'Burma's Forgotten War''|
Talking of Burma - I was host this week to journos in from Rangoon on the 'Spitfire Dig'story. I could not go because of commitments here. But a couple the returning survivors turned up and we had dinner in the sala - well one could not because he had the Rangoon equivalent of 'Delhi belly'. Did not stop him drinking though.
I love these 'debriefings'. Journos can always find what opens latest and what never closes. Seems they have got Rangoon covered. The RAF Spitfires were not found. The story continues. I may go yet.
Meanwhile thanks to Niel of the Telegraph for that litre of Johnny Walker Black. I am trying to find you a receipt for it!