Nov 18, 2009

Shan:Naypyidaw to Erase Symbol of Unity

Sample ImageJunta seeking to obscure historic union monument built by ethnic leaders of Burma

Below is an article published by Shan Herald:

A new report launched yesterday (18 November), “Forbidden Glimpses of Shan State” said junta military is attempting to erase ethnic culture, religion and historic of the country, saying the Panglong historic monument in Shan State South’s Panglong, built by ethnic leaders of Burma, has been overshadowed by junta’s newly built Shwedagon pagoda replica.

The report was documented by Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN). It said ‘it was built directly in front of, and vastly overshadowing, the monument commemorating the site where the agreement was signed.’

Panglong is where ethnic leaders and Aung San, representative of the proper Burma signed agreement to form a union in order to gain independence from the British government in 1947.

Ying Harn Fah, SWAN’s spokesperson said, “Houses around the pagoda were forcibly relocated by the local junta authorities.”  Furthermore, people were forced to move out to make way for the new pagoda, she said.  

The pagoda is called ‘Maha Rahtarbhithamaggi’ (Great State Unity). It is 135 foot (1+3+5=9) tall and was built in 2002 with orders of Naypyitaw top officer Senior General Than Shwe and completed in 2006.

The report also said, “The Burma’s military regime is erasing the last remaining palaces of the 34 former Shan principalities.”
The historic Kengtung palace was demolished in 1991 and was being reconstructed at a 500 million Kyat modern hotel called “Kyaing Tong Hotel” in 1994 despite protests by local monks and local people.

Moreover, The Palace of Yawnghwe was re-designated as a historical museum and now a Buddhist museum. The Palace of Hsipaw was closed in 2005, and its custodian arrested.

At the same time, the military is also erecting new monuments in strategic locations in honor of former Burmese monarchs, according to the report.

It said the military erected a signboard at Kengtung’s well-known landmark, a 228 foot high tree on the One-Tree-Hill (Thid Ta Pin Taung) in the southern section of the town saying it was planted by King Alaungpaya, one of the most Burmese monarchs in 1744.
 “Actually, the King had never been to the town,” Ying Harn Fah quoted an elder as saying.  

The destruction of architectures of former Shan rulers was contrasted with the regimes’ construction of new monuments that extol ancient Burmese kings and numerous replicas of the ‘Shwedagon’ pagodas across Shan State.

In Shan State, over 9 Shwedagon replicas had been constructed by the junta. Another SWAN spokesperson Mawn Keng said, “We have not only been robbed of our rights, lands and resources by the regime, our culture and history have been also robbed.”

To download a copy of the report, ‘Forbidden Glimpses of Shan State’ please click here . [PDF Format,4MB]