Genocide Is Such A Harsh Word

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Genocide Is Such A Harsh Word

We're all adults here. Can we please conduct this U.N. tribunal without stooping to using that loaded, pejorative term? Yes, as leader of the Kunhing military junta in Myanmar, I did call for the death of four million people, all of whom just happened to be of Shan ethnicity. And, yes, a few of these Shan–let's say 921,452–died at the hands of my mercenary army. But are we really prepared to call it a genocide? Come on, now. That's not the sort of word you just throw around.

Granted, I did call for the Salween River to run red with the blood of the Shan. But did I ever use the word genocide when I called for Burmese, Chinese, and Karens to rise up against their Shan neighbors and rid the Earth of this mongrel race? Of course not.

If something that appears to resemble a genocide did occur at my hands in Myanmar, that certainly was not my intention. Everything I did was in the name of working toward the noble goal of redistributing all land and resources to their rightful, non-Shan owners–a land-distribution system dating back to the 11th century Burmese kingdom of Bagan.

Even "ethnic cleansing" has become a dirty word nowadays. It's getting so that you can't work toward purification without someone calling you the new Hitler.

Sure, we've all heard the recording of my radio addresses and read my statements in The Shan-Annihilation Press, in which I urged Burmese farmers to sharpen their scythes, descend upon Taunggyi, and leave not a man, woman, or child standing. What does that prove? So what if Taunggyi is the capital of the Shan state? Is everyone in Belgium a Belgian?

True, it was the Shan miners at Bawdwin who were seized and burned to death inside the shafts. And, yes, it was Shan workers who were split throat-to-stomach and stacked up like cordwood in the smeltery at Namtu. But to call these massacres? That's so extreme.

Now, maybe if we'd descended upon a Buddhist temple full of refugees in Keng Tung armed with machine guns and missiles, the tribunal could call it a massacre. We all know that a single rocket launcher costs nearly 125,000 kyat around here. We used mere rifles and bulldozers to kill the 13,000 in Keng Tung.

As with most things, your opinion of my regime depends entirely upon your perspective. Yes, there is proof of the live burial at Thayetwa and the fire raids on the grade school in Syway, but you really had to be there to understand what went on. We have a saying in Kunhing: "One man's torture center is another man's retreat where one is released from the shame of being born into this world a Shan."

Perhaps the lowest blow of all was when the U.N. tribunal brought up my silly little nickname, "Ma-ubbin Toukka." Yes, technically, it does mean "one who grinds human skulls into a fine powder with his boot." But the true spirit of it gets lost in the translation.

So how am I supposed to get a fair trial now? A person hears a phrase like "genocide," and they close their minds to everything else. They completely ignore the fact that, even to this day, these agrarian curs are marrying non-Shan. But all it takes is just one U.N. tribunal to scream "genocide," and you're forever labeled a bloodthirsty mass-murderer. "Bloodthirsty"? Who does this sort of name-calling benefit?

Let's take one more look at this nebulous word "genocide," which is defined as "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national or racial group." Last time I checked, there were still 2,623,947 Shan left in Myanmar. That doesn't sound like much of a genocide to me.

Now, if you'd be so kind as to leave me be–perhaps until about, oh, September 2001–I have some important business to attend to.