Candles in the Dark: The Diaries of SSSNY Students
If you are still wondering why the people of Burma, especially the non-Burmans, including even the underage youth, are up in arms against their military rulers, maybe this one will clinch the matter.
3 January 2009
The book is not thick, only 158 pages. There are 40 stories in all as told by the students of the School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY) founded in 2001 by a group of youth, led by one of TIME’s 2005 Asia’s Heroes Nang Charm Tong. An average of 4 pages per story, not counting the foreword by Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams and the introduction by program teacher Gemma Niebieszcazanski, who had edited them “numerous times,” according to her.
The contributors include Akha, Kachin, Kayan, Lahu, PaO and Shan students. You can have your pick in there:
- Education (The university taught the whole year course in 10 days, P.99)
- Environment (In the Monghsu gemland, the forest green has become barren and it is getting hot even in winter, P.111)
- Landmines (“The Wa Army asked us how we came, how we walked in the forest because there were a lot of landmines,” P.109)
- Even among the junta soldiers, there are those who are kind and considerate (P.20)
- Culture (P.23, 71, 124) plus plenty of others
However, most of them are about forced relocations, the burning of villages, portering, forced labor, extrajudicial killings and rapes committed by the Burma Army. If the 9-page “Nightmare of my life” fails to move you, you can congratulate yourself of being in the same league with Burma’s top generals. (The story is attached here)
A religious friend told me he had to keep reminding himself what the Buddha said in the Majjhima Nikaya while reading it:
“If robbers should with a double-handled saw cut your limbs and joints, who so gave way to anger there at would not be following my teaching.
For thus ought you to train yourselves:
“Undisturbed shall our mind remain,
No evil words shall escape our lips,
Friendly and full of sympathy shall we remain
With heart full of love
Free from any hidden malice
And that person shall we suffuse with loving thoughts
And from there to the whole world”
The book was put on sale on 18 December 2008, B 100 ($3) per copy. For more information, please contact website at www.sssny.org