ဟစ္တိုင္ မွာေတြ႕လိုက္တဲ႕ ဆရာ မ ျမေၾကးမံု ရဲ႕ အင္တာဗ်ဴး ကို ျပန္လည္ ေ၀ မွ်ပါတယ္။ ျမန္မာ နိုင္ငံမွ ရဟန္း သံဃာ ေတြကို ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး နိုဘယ္ဆု ေပးဖို ႕ဦးေဆာင္ လွဳပ္ရွား သူ Arnold Corso ရဲ႕ စူးရွ တဲ႕ အေပါင္းလကၡဏာ ေဆာင္တဲ႔ အျမင္ ေတြ ဟာ တကယ္ပဲ ခြန္ အား ရေစ တာမို႔ အားလံုးပဲ ခြန္အား မ်ား ပြား မ်ား နိုင္ ၾကပါေစ။
သူ ေျပာ တဲ႕ အထဲ က.. သေဘာ အက် ဆံုး ကေတာ့ ဘုရားရွင္ သာ သက္ရိွထင္ ရွား ရိွေန မယ္ဆို ရင္ သူ႕ကို ေတာင္ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းစြာ ဆႏၵ ေတာင္းဆို သူ ရဟန္း သံဃာ ေတြ နဲ႔ အတူ ေတြ႕ရမွာပါတဲ႔။ ကဲ.. သံဃာ ေတြ နိုင္ငံေရး ပါသင့္ မပါသင့္ ပရိယတၱိ..ပရိပတၱိ ဆိုတာ ျငင္း ေနၾကသူ ေတြ.. ဘုရား ရွင္ ေတာင္ သူ နိဗၺန္ ကို တန္းသြား နုိင္ေပမဲ႔ လူသား ေတြ ရဲ႕ အသိ အျမင္ ေတြ ကို အလင္း ေပးသြားေသး တယ္။ လူ႕ေဘာင္ ေကာင္းက်ိဳး အတြက္ ပံုပမာ ေတြ ျပသြားေသးတယ္။
ဘာပဲျဖစ္ ျဖစ္ .. ဗမာ ျပည္ က သံဃာ မ်ား ရဲ႕ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္း ေသာ ကိုယ္စားျပဳ လွဳပ္ရွား မူ ၾကီး ဟာ တကမၻာ လံုးကုိ စကား ေတြ အမ်ားၾကီး ေျပာသြားခဲ့ပါပီ။ ေျပာ ေနပါပီ။ နိုဘယ္ ဆု နဲ႔ ထိုက္ တန္လား မထိုက္တန္ လား ေမး ေနစရာ ေတာင္ မလို ေတာ့ပါဘူး။ ကဲ ပီး ရင္ ေဟာဒီမွာ လက္ မွတ္ ကေလး ေတြသာ ထိုးလိုက္ ၾကပါ စို႕။
Interview with Arnold Corso, a student activist for Burmese Monks
How and why had you get the idea to run this petition to endorse Nobel Peace prize to Buddhist monks, and why are these monks suitable enough for Nobel prize '2007?
I got the idea for giving the monks the Nobel Peace Prize when I read an article by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. He called the monks a "symbol of conscience for a young century." I think this reflects the fact that many people alive today around the world are not familiar with the civil rights struggle in the American south, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the anti-colonial movements, or even the 1988 uprisings. We have never really known Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa, and even Nelson Mandela is seen as a historical figure but not really a current human rights icon. In the meantime, we see religion used by politicians and terrorists to justify horrible things. I have heard some people say that we don't really even have heroes in the 21st century.
All of the sudden, millions of people around the world saw the monks protesting against one of the cruelest dictatorships in the world. These religious leaders are risking their safety to protest and protect their people. People watching this for the first time experienced a new set of dynamics and how a few brave people can be so dedicated to peace and hopefulness. The protests were not wild marches or armed insurrections, but rather very spiritual. I think the world was impressed with them and saw something we have not seen for a long, long time. People will remember this.
In the past few years, the Nobel Committee has awarded the prize to environmentalists, microfinance entrepreneurs, and other activists. These people have done great work, but not necessarily related to peace. Now, I think we have seen the 21st century versions of Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi. I just thought it was right that they should get the Noble Peace Prize.
-Nobel committee had never awarded their Peace Prize to a religion nor any kind of religious movement. Do you assume that these monks' demonstration is any thing rather than religious activity?
The Nobel Committee hasn't provided the award to a religion, but it has provided the prize to religious leaders. In 1984, it gave the award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. In 1989, the Dalai Lama received it in large part for his work on promoting peace and peaceful support for rights in Tibet. One of the winners in 1996 was a Roman Catholic Bishop, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo of East Timor, for his work on promoting East Timor's independence. In 1979, they gave the award to Mother Teresa for her work in India. Martin Luther King was also a religious preacher in the US and he won the award in 1964.
The Committee has sometimes also given the award to groups or NGOs that do good work.
I think the focus of the Committee is who has provided the greatest example of leadership for peaceful change. This year, I think the monks are that group of people who have demonstrated the power of peaceful protest and shown the world the power of peace in the face of brutality. Thus, I don't think the Committee would see it as awarding a religion so much as a dedicated group of people.
-Let me know your background and your current activities.
I am a student at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, focusing on Southeast Asian Studies. I am also a law student at Georgetown interested in environmental law. I focus mostly on environmental issues, such as environmental laws in Indonesia and Philippines.
-Burmese monks had given a big price for their peaceful movement. May it be the symbol of partial failure of peace in our young century?
The tools of peace are never going to bring about rapid change. All of the previous Nobel Prize winners I listed above did not see their goals realized for several years after they received the prize.
Martin Luther King was killed before desegregation in the South was finally achieved. The Dalai Lama still cannot return to Tibet. So in a sense I think we should not expect too much of the peaceful protests.
With that said, I really do think the monks attracted a huge amount of world attention and maybe will reduce the legitimacy of the regime among Burma's army. If it succeeds in that, that would already be a lot. Change in Burma may take a while, but I think historians will look back at this moment as the beginning of change.
-Can religion be a poison or medicine in modern world? How can we handle the challenges of religious extremism?
I think valuing examples like the monks is a great way to counter religious extremism. While Muslims may have problems in the Middle East with US foreign policy, the use of terrorism is not acceptable.
It reduces support for whatever goals they might have and makes their movement illegitimate. On the other hand, the peaceful protest of the monks is impossible to condemn and gives the democracy movement the moral high ground. Their religion helped give them the courage to do what they know was right, and in that case religion was a medicine against fear. Unthinking, dogmatic religion is a poison, but that is more like what Burma's military tries to do with its propaganda. Religion that is searching and open, as the Buddha preached, can be a great moral compass.
In fact, Islamic extremists have not been successful in their policy goals (such as US withdrawal from Saudi Arabia, setting up Islamic states) so it is not clear that such extremism is a smart path to change. If you think about it, which movement has been more successful in the past few years: al Qaeda or democracy in Burma?
It's a tough question.
-If it can be used as a medicine, what would be its side effects?
Religion can be a force for good, but I think people always have to remember that religion explains morality, while science explains the natural world. Sometimes people become convinced that religious texts provide all answers, but in fact many of those texts simply represent the best understanding of knowledge back then. Many of the stories in religious texts are intended to provide examples of proper moral behavior, not science.
-During your frequent visits to Burma, what did you see the country and its long term dictatorship?
-Burma's a beautiful country with an ugly government, and I think people like me that go there realize that.
I saw and met many people that want change. One of the thing that amazes me is that people have not become brainwashed by the military. They understand that there are a lot of problems, they know about democracy, and are eager to talk to foreigners. There was some worry that the younger generation with no memory of 1988 would forget about democracy, but the last month only shows us that they have not. Indeed, it will be even harder to keep people isolated now.
-Although Buddha encouraged freedom of thinking in Kalama sutta, why are many Southeast Asian regimes under Buddhist culture reluctant to embrace it and not ready for 100% democracy yet?
First, a lot of times people do not practice what they preach. Religions and religious texts are very difficult to understand and can be misused. Christians launched a crusade in the Middle Ages, despite Christ's appeal to non-violence. Cultures and low levels of education may make people less inclined to think freely, even if Buddhism encourages it.
There are other cultural traditions that make democracy very difficult in Southeast Asia. There is a tradition of avoiding confrontation, having networks of family and friends, and even corruption to support favorite friends. There are also economic problems and a lack of education - democracy requires citizens educated enough to vote well and wealthy enough to be engaged in lawmaking. It requires a reduction in corruption.
Even Buddha never really preached democracy, but rather taught how people can free themselves from the cycle of rebirth. I think if he were alive today he would join the protests, but back then the most he would have hoped for would have been a good king.
-Nepal recently declared itself as a secular state. Shall Burma also avoid the influence of any religion in future political role?
This is a good question but one I really can't predict. The sangha used to be a sort of middleman between the king and the people. Burma used to have a religious head of the sangha, the Thathanabaing, but this position was abolished by the British. Afterward, many monks were upset with the colonial government and started protesting. It is entirely possible the sangha may once again want some official role or at least some representation in the government or for the government to declare that Burma is a Buddhist country.
What I think may be more likely is that, with a change to democracy, the monks may find that they no longer can compete in the modern world for people's attention. Thus, they might become engaged in civil society and activism for environmental issues and human rights, just as the monks in Thailand and Cambodia have.
-Some of these monks were killed and many of them are under detainee now. Do you think their struggle is already collapsed?
Not collapsed. I think the protesters were halted, but the anger is still there. People are more angry now than ever. The monks have already shaken the regime and destroyed its claims that it supports Buddhism. That is important and may convince younger officers in the army that the country needs to change. This is going to be a long-term effort, but the effort has not collapsed.
-Nearly two decades after Tiananmen massacre, China's neighbouring country faced its second bloody crack down against peaceful demonstration. Why can't the world support enough protection to such peaceful movement yet?
The world cannot act on Burma because China stands in the way. China blocks reasonable steps that the world could take, such as an arms embargo on Burma. China remembers the Tiananmen massacre and does not want protests in Burma to encourage similar protests in Beijing. There may be some hope that pressure on China over the Olympics will change this.
India also does not help international action, but India does not sit on the Security Council, and it has a strong civil society that might influence its own government, so I am really not as worried about India. Russia may be a problem too, but its role is far smaller than China's.
Can "what was happened to Burmese monks" be a ugly example for future peaceful activists under brutal oppressors?
Every activist must think about how his government will respond and whether he is willing to risk his life. I think people in Burma were so fed up with the situation that they took these risks. But people in other countries need to know their government and the situation in their country. Timing is important, and so is organization.
However, I think it may be a good example in the future as it shows the power of peaceful protests in getting favorable attention from the world. I think world leaders are going to be much more worried about Burma now and probably not as concerned with other human rights abuses. That is important.
( Soure: Hittaing) ◦