Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Buffalohair: Sitt Nyein Aye Thanksgiving

Sitt Nyein Aye Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Amarillo Texas with Sitt Nyein Aye was as rewarding as it was tumultuous. He was up to his high jinks since his return from the ISCP New York Art festival. After painting a beautiful Buddhist mural inside the home of U Kyaing & wife Daw Khin earlier this month he decided to transform the front of their home into yet another Sitt Nyein Aye creation. As usual, he was ultra energized as he described his latest project. Not meaning to be a stick in the mud my only concerns focused on building codes, but what do I know, I’m just a crusty journalist and turkey chef.
Sitt was enthusiastic and looking forward to his Texas tour to show off art work that did not make the trip to NYC. Fortunately for me, I was privy to another Sitt Nyein Aye exclusive showing of his work. His narratives were captivatingly filled with passion and deep emotion for each and every piece of art had a very real meaning. It was more than obvious he put his heart and soul in everything brush stroke. But to have Burma’s most iconic world renowned artist give me the royal tour was over the top and an unexpected Thanksgiving treat indeed. I liken it to Leonardo Di Vinci showing me the Sistine Chapel while munching on a slice of pizza, “Hey Leo, are you going to eat that cannoli?”. Needless to say, I was elated when Sitt drew a caricature of me and that was just way cool. I learned one thing about my friend Sitt; expect the unexpected and you will still be amazed.
As we prepared for the holiday meal and festivities I found it difficult to keep up with that enigmatic ancient artisan because he was everywhere at once, painting here and painting there. And all the while he was chatting about his desire to have his own studio, conduct art classes for sincere artists and do some writing. Truly, artistic juices flow in his veins but as we enjoyed the day I could not help but feel his inner sorrow. It was a familiar one that I have encountered time and time again as I journey throughout the Burmese enclaves I am privy to. Since I was also in the company of Burma’s heroes from the ABSDF, 88 Generations, NLD and other valiant organizations who fought for democracy and human rights, it was clear they shared this deep inner sorrow as well. The love for their homeland, Burma, and the fact they can never return has become an unquenchable fire that burns deep within their souls and Sitt is no exception. 
On a much lighter note I was pleasantly surprised, culinary speaking, since I was introduced to a Burmese approach to eating this giant bird. It was my responsibility to cook the bird but I was also cautioned not to stuff it with conventional stuffing because many folks did not care for the taste. One person went as far as to say that conventional stuffing made his family and friends sick to the stomachs. I did not explore this stuffing issue to see if everyone shared this opinion but for the people I encountered on my 6 day stay there was no question that traditional stuffing was not palatable and not on the menu. I never cared for the taste either and if the truth were told, I prefer wild turkey to domestic bird also.
In any event I roasted not one but two birds with simple seasoning, garlic salt and pepper. We also had coconut noodle soup, lahpet, catfish, rice and a sundry assortment of other dishes and veggies but what totally rocked with the turkey was the variety of dipping sauces. I managed to dine at several places and discovered a new and delicious way to eat turkey and I learned of many tasty dipping sauce ideas. From hot and spicy to sweet and savory, sauces were the hot ticket combined with traditional Burmese cuisine and a quality red wine, of course. I must admit there were three sauces I really favored; one was a preparation of mint leaves, fish sauce and a thick soy sauce, another was mixture of ngapi and a variety of spices I was not familiar with, and finally there was a red chilly and cilantro sauce, it was all good.
As we all milled around and enjoyed the day I noticed Sitt outside with the Burmese children and he was conducting an art class. It was very heart rendering to observe him as he described colors, designs and of course, the art of expressionism. The kids were listening intently and were all smiles as he shared with them his techniques and other nuances that bedazzled the art world. My only hope is that his dreams come true and he does finally acquire that art studio where he can exhibit his art and share his craft to those who can appreciate him for the master artesian and philanthropist he truly is. When it was all said and done Sitt did pose a puzzling question about his trip to NYC. He found it perplexing that there were many artists at the show but only a few had art to display. He, as an artist, could not fathom the notion of not painting or expression himself through art for it was his passion.                                            
Sitt did want me to give a loose itinerary of his December schedule in Texas but when I questioned him about the exact locations of the shows he scoffed, “They will find me”. So for what it’s worth this is Sitt’s December agenda; 1st Austin, 2nd Houston, 3rd San Antonio, 4th Fort Worth, 5th Amarillo and culminating in India on December 10th or 12th @  *Kochi – Muziris Biennale 2012, but things may change since there is a controversy over the misappropriation of funds by organizers that must be resolved and many artists from the Kerala area are up in arms. But true to form, leave it to Sitt to walk into some controversy and excitement wherever he goes.
 *Kochi-Muziris Biennale: The Biggest Story of Corruption in the Indian Art Scene
   Kochi-Muziris Runs into Trouble

It’s never a dull moment with Sitt Nyein Aye, not even in India.
Your Devil’s Advocate
© 2012, Buffalohair Productions. All rights reserved.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Buffalohair:Western Media Blows It Again, Ignores Kachin Genocide & Other Global Issues

After a riveting speech from United States President Barack Obama where he addressed the continued violence in Kachin State and the need for humanitarian aid the western media remains silent. Shamefully most of the media only reported the crisis in Rakhine State and completely ignore the epic humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Kachin State. It would appear President Obama’s recognition of the continued violence in Kachin State was not newsworthy enough for the schmendriks of the mainstream media who claim to be journalists.

Over 100,000 Kachin IDP’s are beginning to die from exposure, starvation and disease from the lack of adequate shelter, food and medical attention in the burgeoning refugee enclaves that dot the Sino/Burma border and the western media is asleep at the wheel. The war has escalated in Kachinland even as the US President arrived in Burma in a classic act of defiance the Tatmadaw is noted for and the western press appears to be siding with genocide at this juncture. How far beyond stupid is that?

Shame on the western press for ignoring what would have been a defining moment as the President of the United States of America made a plea for humanity for the Kachin and the other ethnic groups that face extermination. Why is the media so diametrically opposed to the Kachin people to such a degree they ignore the cries of the innocent and suffering? Small wonder the western media as a whole has lost credibility on a grand scale and is considered more a tabloid press than serious journalism. Their news papers only serve one utilitarian purpose and that is to line the garbage cans from which they were conceived. Hmm, they’ve come full circle, imagine that.

It is disgusting to note that the mainstream media has devolved into a den of corrupt and morally bankrupt urchins that promote propaganda rather than fact. They have become a cheapened lackluster enterprise that only promotes news to the highest bidder while printing half truths and bold faced lies to suit the political and corporate agenda’s of the sewage elite. Fortunately their days are numbered, people know who these cretins are and someday soon they will be held accountable for the lies they promoted and the innocent people they ignored. They are the intellectual crap sandwich in the world of true journalism and deserve what is coming to them as the world comes to terms with life’s realities in this epic time of change. What comes around, goes around and tag, you’re it.

The beleaguered people of Burma watched and savored a moment in history they thought would never come. Tears fell throughout Burmese communities around the world as they watched the President of the United States of America make a most riveting speech about them and their plight. For many Americans who’ve worked diligently for the refugees and political exiles, this was their finest hour as the President laid bare the facts of life in Burma for the world to behold. Then some butt-crack US journalists began to pick away at this monumental moment in Burmese history.

These sleazes of journalistic crappola began by picking away at President Obama’s inability to pronounce names. Then they attacked his so-called lack of protocol and the list went on. After I read these salacious reports it was clear these media bumpkins who proclaimed they know Burma and it’s diverse culture where full of crap, all the way to their eye lids. One Burmese refugee asked, “Why does the western media hate us so much to try and spoil this special event?” Others noted that the western media continues to ignore rape, torture and genocide all the time in Burma as if they are on the side of the criminals. The media has distorted and completely lost the point of Obama’s speech and have no understanding of the Burmese culture, and that is from the mouths of all the Burmese who rang my phone off the hook the day after President Obama’s speech. Why is it so important to ignore the wholesale murder of Kachin people? That is a good question.

If these bonehead journalistic nimrods actually knew the Burmese culture they would have known that these beautiful people of South Asia are kind hearted and very forgiving of people who don’t understand their etiquette, protocols and language. They don’t get their boxers twisted in a knot when someone outside of the culture makes an honest mistake. Their culture is complex and there are many things religiously and culturally complicated they adhere to. I’ve lived and worked with many cultures of Burma and I’m more of a Bull in a China Shop culturally speaking yet I am well received regardless of my cultural phopas. But for these a-hole journalists to cast such a negative light on Obama was truly an insult to the multitude of Burmese people I have already spoken to.

But their lackluster performance does not stop in Burma for they’ve distorted or completely ignored crimes against humanity around the world while favoring criminals with whom they lavished with kudos and feel good news blurbs. Central & South America and the indigenous people who continue to face off western corporations because of land grabs, goes completely under the media radar. Assassinations of tribal elders because of their stance against crimes perpetrated by corporations don’t even make the press. The story holds true for the people of many African nations who continue to be subjugated by corrupt tin horn dictators who kiss ass with western firms. These stories never see daylight and people continue to die from the lack of media attention. Ask a Haitian about where all those billions went to ‘save’ them and they will point to major corporations and sham non-profit organizations who pocketed the lion’s share of all the loot.

America, the land of free speech, is contaminated by media vermin who continue to ignore the plight of the indigenous populations and these stories never get told. Native women are disappearing at an alarming rate. Their murder rates are off the charts and disproportional to native populations by comparison to non native groups but do these stories see ANY mainstream attention? Hell no. The indigenous populations of the America’s are under constant assault and their land is being taken just like the land grabs in Asia & Africa and the media continues to ignore this atrocity. Just remember, the only people who win any war or conflict spawned by the media are the stockholders who’ve invested in the military/industrial complex.

Don’t even get me started on the continued spread of Austerity throughout Europe and the loss of national sovereignty the people of these nations are so indignant about. The western media ignores the core essence of why people are mad. Bankers destroyed economies around the world and it’s the victims of these fraudulent Bankers who must pay the monetary price, and that’s what is pissing people off. Why haven’t these bankers had their illegal gains ceased and returned? The loss of national identity and sovereignty is yet another flash point. And it’s the media who continues to fail in reporting the news and completely distorts the facts and for whom, special interests because journalism and credibility is for sale to the highest bidder. Just remember, when the stock market fell back in ’29 the money went ‘somewhere’ it did not just disappear. That is the case of this latest crash and the money is ‘somewhere’ but will the media tell you this?  

If you followed the money you would then learn that there is much more to this paper trail than I am writing about, only because there is so much corruption on many levels and the media has their hands dirty. Parent corporations of these lecherous Jokers of Journalism are owned lock, stock and tomahawk by the very corporations or parent companies that are behind some of the most financially salacious news stories around the world. Ironically, bankers and investment firms are at the top of the heap and ultimately own these media outlets and dictate what you read and watch on the boob tube. You are being spoon fed lies and half truths for the sole benefit of criminals who continue to mask their illegal activities. As for truth in journalism, you are better off researching a news story yourself if you care about accuracy because you are on your own. And believe me; the truth will hurt because society is living a great big lie. And that’s the bottom line.

Your Devil’s Advocate
Buffalohair (Shanhtoi Gam)

© 2012, Buffalohair Productions. All rights reserved.
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Posted by littlerunningdeer on November 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm
Filed under Bilderberg Group, Buffalohair Stories and News, Buffalohair Universe, Buffalohair-Jage Press, Fight For Freedom, Hello World, Human Behavior, Human Rights, New Stories Behind the Stories, News, One World Government by 1%, The Now

Monday, November 19, 2012

Buffalohair: President Barack Obama Shows His Mettle & Stands Tall for American Values in Burma

President Barack Obama Shows His Mettle & Stands Tall for American Values in Burma

In a dynamic speech President Barack Hussein Obama broke the media's code of silence, acknowledged Burma's Secret War in Kachin State and urged Burma to stop the violence, allow freedom of religion and begin humanitarian aid. He also addressed the need for all ethnic groups to live in harmony that was reflective of the Panglong agreement. Truly this was a monumental speech and I am happy to say that I was truly smitten.

Admittedly I was pessimistic about his Asian Tour and expected the worst, thankfully and gleefully I was wrong. The fact President Barack Obama addressed Burma's most pressing issues has made him stand taller than other American Presidents who failed to address Burma's plight in earnest, if at all. Now the world does not have an excuse for ignoring the atrocitious activities being perpetrated against Burma's ethnic minorities. At this juncture President Barack Obama is a trailblazer who is forging a true path for democracy in Burma. I pray the momentum he fostered continues. Granted, no sooner did his plane touched down in Burma the Tatmadaw continued their campaign of terror in Kachin State and revelations arose the Burmese Army was killing the Rohingya people during the same time period.

It must be noted that President Thein Sein did try in vane to order a ceasefire in Kachin State several times only to be rebuffed by direct orders from the Tatmadaw who mandated that troops to ignore his orders. This isolates the true root of the ethnic violence that has haunted Burma for so many years and that lays in Naypyidaw and not the will of the Bamar people. Now the ball is in the Tatmadaw's court and if they truly want to rebuild Burma they will need to correct their policy of 'Four Cuts & Burmanization' against the ethnic minorities and embrace the future as a truly United Burma. Naypyidaw has a golden opportunity to stand along side President Barack Obama and be a part of this positive historic time in Burma's history.

President Barack Obama made history in Southeast Asia and within Asian culture as a whole, he showed face and stood his ground for American values and the cause of humanity and I am very proud to be an American. The dynamic of what he, my president, just did is hard to measure at this time since violence continues in Kachin and RakhineStates but his speech will resonate throughout Burma and Asia for he planted the seed for National Reconciliation. My only hope is that he sets the pace for true democracy and not the fetid Disciplined Democracy that haunts this ancient empire. It is time for National Reconciliation. It is time to heal this nation.

Surely this will put a kink in China's expansionism and the multi billion dollar dam projects & pipelines they are proposing with no regard for the people who live in the regions China has earmarked for construction. There is a better way to develop Burma and socio-economic growth should include every citizen of Burma. They must be a part of growth and not be cast aside like they have for so many years in the past. Personally, I know the Kachin people would entertain positive development of their natural resources and I also know they would love to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters throughout Burma, contrary to the flawed conventional wisdom the government has purported in the past. The Kachin do not hate the Bamar or any other culture, all they want is peace, live in harmony with their neighbors and allow commerce to flourish. Surely that is not too much to ask.

It's time for the people of Burma to enter the 21st century and become a full fledged member of the global community and embrace positive change. The countless benefits are ripe for the picking if the Tatmadaw would only relinquish their iron fisted xenophobic grip on this beleaguered multi cultural society. Let Burma breath the sweet smell of true democracy and achieve the greatness this nation deserves. With an abundance of natural resources there is no excuse as to why this land lived in abject poverty for there is enough wealth within this nation to line all the streets with gold and provide fresh clean drinking water to every citizen in this nation. Economic development must work hand in hand with the rebuilding of infrastructure.

But first things first, we must stop the violence and summon a binding ceasefire in all ethnic regions NOW, not tomorrow or the next time parliament meets. People continue to die needlessly and IDP's are dying from exposure. Open up the flood gates of international aid to quell the suffering of innocent people. Let's face Burma's realities and foster immediate positive change for all Burmese citizens. Let President Barack Obama's words be the blueprint for true reform and provide justice and equality for all. Pull the troops out of Kachinland and allow the Jinghpaw to heal their wounds and save their people from impending death and disease. Stop the war of attrition being perpetrated in RakhineState and end the needless violence & death. And most important of all, allow President Thein Sein to govern as president should, allow Daw Aung Suu Kyi to be totally free from constraints imposed on her with no stipulations and release ALL the political Prisoners.

May the Land of Alaungpaya rise out of the ashes of tyranny with the second coming of the Konbaung Dynasty!

Thank You President Barack Hussein Obama

President Barack Obama's Historic Speech in Burma

Your Devil's Advocate
Buffalohair (Shanhtoi Gam)

© 2012, Buffalohair Productions. All rights reserved.
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Buffalohair: Will Obama Ignore The Slaughter of Jinghpaw People In Resource Rich Kachin State??

Will Obama Ignore The Slaughter of Jinghpaw People In Resource Rich Kachin State??

Men, women and children have continued to be slaughtered by the Burmese government over the past 1 ½ years with barely a peep from the western media. Thousands of people have been displaced and killed in relative secrecy as government troops murdered, raped and pillaged this region of Burma with no end in sight. The primary reason is the fact Kachin State is a resource rich cornucopia of oil, gas, gold, uranium, gem stones of every kind and the exalted rare earth minerals. Is this trip all about the money Mr. President? Or are you going to make REAL history and make a concerted effort to stop the blood shed in ALL ethnic regions, including Kachin State?

Are natural resources the real reason the world has chosen to ignore the continued genocide of these people? Will US President Barack Obama be the hallowed western leader who will address this Asian Holocaust and put an end to genocide? Or will he be just like the rest of the western world who has chosen to ignore this crime against humanity? Will the America celebrate Obama’s visit and cash in on the death of innocent people simply for the corporate bottom line and curse their nation with yet more blood money from slave labor and genocide as in the case of China and other nations who cater to the affluent and powerful corporations and stock holders.

The Burmese Tatmadaw (Military) continues to flood Kachin State with fresh troops and supplies while killing innocent men, women and children. IDP’s are dying in makeshift shelters while Burmese authorities continue to rob aid money and supplies that were destined for Kachin State. Unfortunately the parent corporations who control most of the mainstream media of the west are also parent corporations of the mining industry that is eager to exploit Kachin State and its bountiful natural resources. Ironically, they are the very same corporations who continue to fill the coffers of Hillary & Bill Clinton’s library in Arkansas or is that just a coincidence? Sadly, if the plight of the China’s, African’s, and Central & South American indigenous people is any indicator about the western corporate agenda, the people of Kachin State are doomed.

President Barack Obama, step up to the plate and make a stand for the Jinghpaw People of Kachin State Burma and stop the genocide. Make real history and alter the course of Burma’s atrocitious acts of genocide being perpetrated at the very time you are visiting Burma. Make a stand for humanities cause and stem wholesale genocide in Burma’s Secret War. Just remember, this is the time of change and what you do this week will reflect on the nation you represent and the blood on your hands will be the blood that will soon curse this nation if you choose to ignore the cries of the Kachin People. The truth will ultimately be known and what will you say then?

Your Devil’s Advocate
Buffalohair (Shanhtoi Gam)

© 2012, Buffalohair Productions. All rights reserved.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Buffalohair: Burma: Will US President Barack Obama be a Liberator or Colonizer?

Burma: Will US President Barack Obama be a Liberator or Colonizer?

With news President Barack Obama is headed to Burma the Burmese ask, “Will Barack Obama be a liberator or continue to ignore the genocide being committed in Kachin State?” The crisis in Rakhine State has gotten all the media attention with a tumultuous global response while Burma’s secret war in Kachin State has received little attention at all. Thein Sein’s government continues to grab land from citizens and farmers to accommodate western development interests. Will Obama address this atrocity as well? Don’t forget the over 600 political prisoners Than Shwe continues to torture in secret in an effort to break their spirits and their will.

According to sources within Burma and the US, they confirm the only real change in Burma was the introduction of more western corporations and the sugar coating of major corporations that continued to conduct business throughout the 60 years since the assassination of Aung San. In fact western interests have made trillions of dollars, lining the pockets of the hopelessly corrupt Tatmadaw while stripping Burma of her natural resources. The UN turned their heads as Asian corporations continued to raid Burma’s resources during the sham sanctions they imposed.

Can Barack Obama pick up the ball where Hillary Clinton dropped it with regard to the year and a half war in Kachin State? It will be a daunting task. If the truth be known, she was more a representative of western mining companies. There is no question they want access to resource rich Kachinland and they have everything to gain if and when the Burmese government succeeds in their eugenics program. Is this why Hillary turned a deaf ear to the cries of the Jinghpaw people of Kachin State?

Genocide is genocide and the Tatmadaw has stepped up their war efforts while the western media ignored this reality. Ironically the western media is ‘in bed’ with global mining interests who are clamoring at the bit to mine Kachinland into oblivion much like they have in Africa and the America’s, with impunity I might add. Surely you know about all the tribal chefs and activists who continue to be murdered throughout Central and South America for their protesting of the lost of land to make way for mines.

Land grabs continue throughout Burma as the government appeases western interests and people are protesting the loss of their livelihoods and tradition land. The western media is asleep at the wheel only purporting wonderful and fantastic change within Burma. Tell that to the farmers who lost their fields or the villagers who continue to lose their communities as dams spring up around the nation. The reality is, Burma is at another crossroads and civil unrest is fast becoming the next crisis that will spread like a cancer. One Burmese activist calls what is happening within Burma as ‘Re-colonization’. Others call it; ‘Just more of the same’ since repression is still at an all time high and people continue to disappear, but not in the western media’s eye. I call it ‘Burma’s Manifest Destiny’

Hillary was a failure as secretary of state but a success in the eyes of corporate cartels. She is puling out of US politics leaving America horribly foreshortened diplomatically speaking. In her wake she leaves the USA hated around the world for her continued support of corporate interests while leaving the cause of humanity in the diplomatic dumpster. Small wonder pro democracy advocates in the Mid-East are turning to the reviled Taliban, because we ignored them in their hour of need. Many people in the third world call her the ‘Queen of Death’ because she abandoned the suffering people who once looked to America with hope only to be betrayed and left to fight multinational corporations and their private armies.

Now Barack Obama is poised to visit Burma and people wonder what his position will be with regard to the continued genocide of the Kachin people and the rest of the Burmese ethnic populations that are being displaced for western development interests. Is Obama a friend or foe to the people of Burma? Will Burma be developed strictly for the purpose of garnering cheap slave labor with working conditions like to Foxconn where people work in sweatshop conditions while western corporations reap billions from the suffering of the Chinese people?

Will Obama be able to push aside the billions in corporate dollars he received for his re-election to foster positive change in Burma and stop the continued bloodshed in Kachin or Rakhine State? It is a daunting task by every stretch of the imagination and he will undoubtedly step on the toes of the international corporatist interests who are eager to exploit this beleaguered nation for cheap labor and it’s bounty of natural resources including but not limited to gold, uranium, rare earth minerals, gas & oil and a host of other resources. Or will Obama be just another Bill Clinton who promised the Haitians help in their hour of need only to rebuild roads to the iron ore mines in Haiti?

My hope is that he steps up to the plate and uses his prowess to stop the continued  but veiled tyranny that is Burma’s politics and use his leverage to make positive lasting changes in the lives of all Burmese people. In doing so, he would actually be Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberator since she is still in bondage. Maybe Thein Sein’s orders for a ceasefire in Kachinland would be honored by the military. Obama would gain the respect of Asia if he chose to stand for the Kachin and the other ethnic groups who continue to be raped and murdered throughout the country. He would prove to all of Asia that he is not the weak leader they believe. He would also be the answer to the prayers to 60 million Burmese who lived in tyranny for 60 years.

So the question remains; is President Barack Obama Burma’s the great liberator or just another colonizer? Only time will tell but I pray he grasps this moment in world history and makes a stand for justice and the suffering of Burma. The Kachin have already informed me they would do business with the west if they were free to do so. Legitimate enterprise would flourish and Burma would find its place in the global marketplace once again. The eyes of Asia are on Mr. Obama and it will take raw courage to do the right thing. But if he falters and is weak, this diplomatic disaster will resonate throughout all of Asia and it will haunt legitimate western interests in this region for many years to come.

If given the chance I would personally take President Obama and the global mining community directly to the Kachin leadership and other ethnic leadership I have access to so they could plot a course for fruitful development and positive growth. Burma is a wealthy nation, resource wise, and there is no excuse as to why citizens of all ethnic groups were forced into abject poverty. But with proper business planning while addressing the needs of the Burmese people, of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, the land of Alaungpaya would give rise to the second coming of the ‘Konbaung Dynasty’. I know because I am working on a very feasible business plan with my Jinghpaw brother and it would benefit every tribe with in Burma including the Bamar, lock stock and tomahawk.

Take me up on the offer Mr. President, we can make history together. Just land Air Force One at DFW, I’ll grab a clean longyi, a few Tanka Bars and a pack of smokes for the flight, don’t tell Michelle about the smokes though. You know how she gets eh….

Your Devi Advocate
Buffalohair (Shanthoi Gam)

© 2012, Buffalohair Productions. All rights reserved.
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Sitt Nyein Aye in Amarillo Texas, Uncut

Buffalohair: Burmas Heroes in Amarillo Texas, With Loving Kindness.

Burma’s Heroes in Amarillo Texas,

With Loving Kindness.

Sitt gave me a private showing of his fantastic art work and as usual,
I was captivated by his artistic prowess and his rich blend of ancient
Indian and contemporary styles he is noted for. After all, he was a
pioneer and a trail blazer in the art scene of South Asia and his works
grace private collections and galleries around the world. He is also a
champion of Burma’s struggle for democracy in his own right and has
donated literally millions of dollars in art to Burmese pro democracy
organizations around the world. If you know Sitt then you already
know that a visit with this iconic figure is always an adventure, on
many levels I might add.

On this journey I was afforded the opportunity to meet with some of
the warriors in Burma’s struggle for democracy. Notably, I met
Saw Ngo, a prolific, talented, world renowned artist and a seasoned
jungle fighter. I also met with a former child soldier along with
members of the NLD, 88 Generation and a host of other champions
of Burma’s struggle including Ko Ju Ju & Thein Saung and this story
is dedicated to them. There were a few other folks but I did not get
their names, at least not this time.

In speaking with a former child soldier, named Aung Aung, I asked him
how he was forced into service at the age of 11. He countered that he was
not coerced in any way. After watching people being murdered and
experiencing the savagery and blood lusting of Burma’s Tatmadaw
he chose to take up arms to defend his people. In his words, “I had to
do something, I could not just watch as people were being raped and
murdered”. As he spoke I could see the youthful gleam in his eyes
transform into that of a hardened combat veteran who counted coup
in countless campaigns. By the time he was 21 years of age he had already
spent a lifetime as a jungle fighter. His eyes have witnessed more than
he cared to remember.  

I stayed at the home of U Kyaing, his beautiful wife Daw Khin and I was
honored to be a guest in their humble home. Incidentally there was a
fantastic mural painted on the wall of their living room. The centerpiece
is Buddha and on one side is a depiction of the city and on the other side
is Bagan along with scenes of life in their beloved Burma. With artisans
such as Sitt and Saw in their midst this has all the makings of a
Buddhist Shrine and according to U Kyaing this was his intention. And
from what I’ve seen this shrine is well worth viewing. After all, it was
painted by world renowned artists. In fact, Sitt and his paint brush used
the walls of their home as his personal canvas making it appear more
like an art gallery. Words can not describe how welcome they made me feel.
And well, I also loved their fine Burmese cuisine, being the foodie that
I am. I’ll take the wafting aroma of shrimp paste over the smell of
triglyceride fries any day. All of a sudden, I am starving to death.

Saw Ngo made his place in Burma’s history as well as the art world and
his illustrations adorn many Burmese journals and his work is known
around the planet. I was awestruck by this talented artist as we reviewed
his works, he was the real deal. His satirical renditions of Burma’s political
circus were both humorous and poignant. As we spoke I also could feel the
sorrow and pain this artist felt within his spirit. Unpretentiously, Saw also
told me about the plight of the veterans of Burma’s struggle who reside in
Amarillo. Though they gave their all for Burma, her people and the cause
for democracy they felt alone, isolated and forgotten. Their stories of heroism,
their struggle to survive and the memory of their fallen brothers and sisters
who sacrificed their lives have never been told. Hmm, I will just have to do
something about that.

The issues that US combat veterans face when returning from war are the
same issues these warriors must endure. When we sat around and enjoyed
the day together we had a wonderful time. They were full of stories of both
joy and deep sorrow. It was clear they suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
in the extreme, just like moi. But what compounded their suffering was the
fact they are forgotten or ignored and have little, if any, recognition of their
sacrifices. They don’t have resources available to them to deal with PTSD or
other associated maladies that afflict those who faced absolutes and death.  
They are combat veterans without any support system or benefits. With a
price still on their heads they also can’t ever go back home to Burma, the
land of their birth and the land they truly love.

I was humbled by their presence and felt honored to be privy to their stories
and knew their anguish. I personally know what its like to relive tragic and
horrific events in life, over and over again, bouncing from fear to anger than
sorrow all at once. I know what its like to wake up covered in sweat screaming
at the top of my lungs filled with fear, anger & sorrow with my heart beating
out of my chest. For me, triggers are everywhere, from a scent that takes me
back to a moment in time filled with the smell of death, a sound that sends me
to the floor or that special feeling of fear knowing people are out there trying
to kill you. That is a hard one for me, the feeling of fear of discovery and
imminent death. Sometimes I just can’t shake it and it haunts me at the worst
time. It’s embarrassing for me to visit people and stay over-night because of
my midnight outbursts of horrific screams.

Another issue I addressed was how the local law enforcement in Amarillo
treated them since I’ve heard some horror stories from refugees who came
from the Dallas Fort Worth area for a visit. To my joy I was informed that
the cops are very compassionate to them and have gone out of their way
to assist as understand their culture. “We love the police here in Amarillo
because they are kind to us” I was told. When I queried why other refugees
from out of town complained about Amarillo’s law enforcement one person
said, “You can’t play big shot from the big city; you just need to be honest
and respect them (cops), and they will help you”. From personal experience;
if you act like a dick the police will give you the shaft and like the sign says:
“You Don’t Mess With Texas”. Frankly, I’ve dealt with more police brutality
and racism in the “Land of Fruits and Nuts” (California) then I ever
experience in Texas and I’m as ethnic as it gets.

Then I met Aung Aung’s parents, father U Myo Myint and his mom Daw Aye Ye
and was I in for a foodie’s surprise. Daw Aye Ye was busy preparing some
traditional Burmese food when I arrived, talk about timing eh. We chatted
for a bit and I asked U Myo Myint if he would ever consider going back to
Burma since there is a new government in place. He looked at me then laughed
and informed me that nothing has changed and people continue to be
murdered by the junta. I was later informed he had a price on his scalp for his
intense involvement in the pro democracy movement. He was a jungle fighter
as well, hmm, like father like son.

Later Daw Aye Ye prepared a meal that was fit for Alaungpaya and his royal

court. The aromas throughout their home were scintillating. When the meal
was presented I could not help but become ravenously hungry as I viewed all
the entrĂ©es on the table. There was delicacies of every kind and don’t ask me
to pronounce their names either but one thing was for sure, they were all
beyond excellent. One item in particular caught my attention though. It was
a leaf wrapped delicacy of prepared fish row and mushrooms that just blew
me away. That was one of the most flavorful delights I had ever tasted. I
struggled hard not to make a piglet out of myself, and a struggle it was.
I asked Myo and Aye if they would adopt me.

The trip to Amarillo was a fantastic journey into the heart and
soul of Burma for I

had the opportunity to hang out with my friend Sitt, meet with the unsung
heroes of Burma’s democracy movement and eat some very delicious food.
We all decided that there is more to do in Amarillo as far as the Burmese
community is concerned. I plan to be back in the near future to shoot more
film, write more stories and see what else I can offer this budding Burmese
community. Most important of all, I want Burma’s heroes to know they are
not forgotten and it was truly an honor to be in the presence of democracies
champions. And one more thing,
I’ll be back with my industrial strength chop stick.

Your Devil’s Advocate

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