New book on the struggle ‘more questions than answers’
Launching his book, a compilation of 29 articles yesterday in Chiangmai, a rebel-turned-journalist conceded that there were more questions than answers.
Htet Aung Kyaw, 44, former commander of the 201st Battalion of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), told fellow exile journalists, most of whom had been ex-rebels fighting against Burma’s ruling military junta like himself, that his book Far from Home: 20 years in exile reflected the inner turmoil that he had been undergoing.
“The struggle is 20 years old now, but it is not moving forward,” he said. “Some even say it is moving backward instead.”
The resulting questions which he had yet to find answers were manifold, such as:
- How much longer the struggle will go on?
- Has the revolution become a mere routine affair?
- Is the military junta too strong or are the rebels too incompetent?
- They say the right will ultimately win and the wrong defeated in the end. But how can we make sure that the right win?
- How do other people view the struggle?
He was somewhat uncomfortable about the inevitable questions asked by his audience on the purges inside the ABSDF which led to the killings of some prominent members in the late 1988.
He wrote: Dozens of my comrades were killed on the battlefields while Tin Lay (Chairman of Tavoy District Students Union) and other fell victim to jungle intrigue. There was no opportunity for an independent inquiry so no one knows who killed Tin Lay and why.
“The truth must be told,” said Htet Aung Kyaw, who considered himself 75% professional journalist. “But the pros and cons of it must also be weighed.”
Speaking on the sidelines, a fellow journalist told SHAN the truth need not wait until the struggle has been won: “If we don’t let the newcomers know, how can we prevent them from repeating the same mistakes again?”
Far from Home: 20 years in Exile/Life and views of a Burmese rebel and journalist, a 128 page publication is being sold for B200 ($6) per copy. Htet Aung Kyaw is a senior journalist for Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) based in Oslo, Norway.