My opinion with reference to the Burman-ness written by Matthew Walton

Dear Matthew Walton,

I have read your article and I agree that there is similarity in the attitude and treatment of the Burman, and the White towards those who are different from themselves. The “Burman” using Burman-ness  as being better and more superior than other ethnic groups, while American and European identify themselves as “White” being better than the non-White.

Book Cover: My Vanished World
In the case of the “White” due to education, in the science of evolution, genetics and archaeology, since the last century, the population has slowly begun to alter their way of thinking and accepted that colour is skin deep. They accepted that the White and the Coloured both belong to the same human species. They have the same basic needs and the same feelings. Some have also developed conscience, compassion and consideration for others through the teachings of religion and society. Today, although there are a few who still harbour prejudice against people who have different colour skin , the majority of White  have become civilised and moved away from the barbaric behaviour of the primitive ages, when they used to engage in the slave trade, and  when the white bosses used violence against their servants.

On the other hand, the Burman's perception of their Burman-ness (We the Burmans) began since the 16th century when the Burmans rose to become dominant over other ethnic groups in Central Burma (Burma Proper). In the very early history the first immigrants to this part of Burma were the Mon, Shan and Pyu. The Pyu disappeared to be replaced by the Burman. The Mon, Shan and Burman competed and fought for dominance. The Mon were dominant in the early period, the Shan from the 12th until the 16th century. The Burman under Bayinnaung, using Portuguese mercenaries and weapons fought their way up and marched into the Shan States on the Shan Plateau, Chiangmai and other parts of Thailand. Some of the Shan states became suzerains to the Burmese Kings.

The Burmans were set on building an empire but were halted by the invasion of Britain. They have never forgotten this episode and the British colonisation, “a shock to their psyche and a blow to their pride, became their popular chanting.

In 1886 when Britain annexed the Shan States, the Shan princes requested Britain not to put Shan States under Burma Proper, and their request was granted, but the Burmans accused Britain of operating a “divide and rule” policy.. The hill states or the Frontier areas, surrounding Central Burma (where the majority of the Burman live), were ruled autonomously by their own rulers under the protection of the British empire, while Central Burma was ruled directly under British India. This angered the Burman politicians and has since been their long-standing grievance.

The Burman politicians/dictators, driven by anger and vengeance, took it out on other ethnic nationalities, and in 1962, forcibly occupied the Shan and other ethnic states. During the fifty years of their colonisation their hate and prejudice against other ethnic groups became so intense that they committed heinous human rights violations against other ethnic nationalities, including ethnic cleansing and genocide, and continue to do so until to-day.


In the present modern world the majority of “White” due to the advance of education, civilization and democracy have accepted the principle of equality amongst all people., but the Burman military/ politicians' mind-set has remained static, and blinded to the principle of equality; their Burman-ness remain strong and their prejudice and hatred against those different from them in religion, culture and language are as intense as ever.  Since 1962, this mind-set of the military rulers became an ideology, that they not only conditioned military officers and soldiers, but also civilians to think like them. The issue of Burman-ness towards other ethnic nationalities is more complicated than the White's attitude towards other colour; the    Burmese politicians/elite class not only think they are superior in culture, language and religion , but also that they have the right to control over other ethnic nationalities and their ancestral homelands.

The Burmans are more privileged than other ethnic nationalities only because the ruling party happened to be ethnic Burman; a status obtained illegally by force. They also possess modern weapons to destroy lives at random although, geographically, politically and lawfully the ethnic nationalities hold the trump card.

Geographically, Burma Proper, where the majority of the Burmans live, is surrounded by all the other ethnic states, which is its a trade route to the outside world. It cannot become a viable nation without forming a union with other ethnic states. The Shan and others can manage independently without Burma Proper. This is the reason why the regimes are so afraid that the ethnic states will secede from the Union. But the military regime went about it in the wrong way; instead of forming good relations with other ethnic states, they have used force and violence to destroy them. They are also cowards as they are afraid to compete with other ethnic states on equal terms.

The contributor is the daughter of the ruling prince of Lawksawk and the author of “My Vanished World”.


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