Concentrated between Burma and Thailand, there are an estimated 8 million Mons in the world today. Yet, their rights often go unrecognized. Like many indigenous peoples of this region, for the past forty years the central government in both Rangoon and Bangkok have ignored and attempted ethnocide of the Mon people -- who were the orignial inhabitants in the Burmese-Thai region. The Mon language is a distant relative of the Khamer (Cambodia) langauge group, having no similarities with Burmese and the Burmese alphabet is based on the Mon alphabet.
After successive waves of Burman and Thai immigrations from the north in the last milenia, and after repeated attacks the kingdom of the peaceful Mons was defeated in 1757 and the higher culture taken as war booty to upper Burma by the Burmese king and many hundred thaunsand of Mon had been facing genocide. Meanwhile, in Thailand Mons were given special areas to live and found sympathetic favor under the Thai king, himself a descendent of the Mons, mostly in areas around Bangkok's main river.
Today, however, the situation is radicaly different with assimilation rampant on both sides of the border. Centralization and capitalism are working hand in hand to annihilate all indigenous peoples. A planned gas pipeline from Burma's Gulf of Martaban will dissect Monland on its way into energy-strapped Thailand, and so foriegn policy in the era of "constructive engagement" does not favor the Mon people (as was seen by the recent Halockhani attack by SLORC troops and the Thai starving out of the refugees to return across the border).
The refugee situation is increasing due to forced labor on "infrastructure" projects in the area, such as the gas pipeline and the 110 miles long dead Ye-Tavoy railway construction. Villages regularly undergo forced relocation while harrassment, violence and pillaging continue under SLORC's reign of terror. Also, many Mons have been targetted for arrest in the Sangkhlaburi area and Kanchanaburi District, which is viewed as an attempt by the Thais to put pressure on the New Mon State Party to sign a cease-fire agreement with the Burmese military junta.
One of the biggest problems for the Mon people is recieving outside information and spreading out inside information to international communities.
Approximately 50-60% of the Mon people cannot read or write in Burmese, and less are able to use English. Thus access to much information is prohibitive, especially about health care, politics and international news. This is in addition to strict censorship controls and added ethnic suppression by the Burmese junta.
Although some publications have been issued in English, there is only a news letter by Committee for Publicity of people Struggle in Mon Land (CPPSM) have come out regularly and others Rehmonnya Bulletin by New Mon State Party (NMSP) and etc -- they haven't come out in over a year. We are looking for is to post on net to solve the above problems.
For more information on the Mon, Please contact
GPO Box. 375