In 1963, the Palaung State Liberation Party (PSLP) started to fight for self-determination and equal rights for the Ta'ang (Palaung) people. In 1991, they made a cease-fire with the Burmese regime. However, some PSLP leaders who were dissatisfied did not accept the cease-fire agreement and formed the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) in the Karen area in Manaplaw in 1992.
Some of the PSLF members wanted to support Ta’ang youth, and established the Palaung Students and Youth Organization (PSYO) on the Thai-Burma border in 1993. The name was changed to the Palaung Youth Network Group (PYNG) during the second meeting on 27 December, 1998.
In March 2007, the first Congress of PYNG was successfully held in a liberated area on the Thai-Burma border. The Congress elected 7 Executive Committee members to lead the first Congressional term of PYNG by secret ballot through a democratic voting system.
In December 2008, the second Congress of PYNG changed the name of the organization to Ta'ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO). While Palaung is a Burmese term, Ta’ang is our own term, in our language. During this Congress, we also changed the structure of our organization from a Coordinator system to a Secretary system. By secret ballot, the Congress elected 7 Executive Committee members to lead the second term of TSYO.
During our third Congress in December 2010, we held elections for Executive Committee and Secretary Positions, and reviewed our departments, programs, and Constitution. After thorough consideration, we expanded our Executive Committee from 9 to 11 members in order to strengthen the leadership of our programs and organization.
Background of the Ta'ang people
- The Ta'ang (Palaung) people are one of the indigenous nationalities within the multi-national Union of Burma, descended from Mon-Khmer.
- The Ta'ang people have their own language and literature, a distinctive traditional culture, their own territory, and a self-sufficient economy.
- When people think about tea in Burma, one community springs to mind: the Ta'ang. Tea is the backbone of the economy and is famous throughout the region as the product of the Ta'ang people.
- The Ta’ang (Palaung) population is over one million, and most lives in the mountains of the northwestern Shan State. But large numbers also live in towns throughout the Southern and Eastern Shan State.
TSYO’s mission is to work for peace, justice and equality, to build a democratic country, and to improve the lives of our students, youth, and all Ta’ang people.
- To work for peace, and to develop the Ta'ang region.
- To increase the number of Ta'ang youth who can participate as leaders.
- To promote gender equality.
- To end the military dictatorship.
- To build a federal democratic country with national equality and self-determination.
- ·To promote the capacity of Ta'ang students and youth by working on capacity building training.
- ·To cooperate with democratic organizations, national revolution movements, international youth and women's organizations, and our Ta’ang people for the shared struggle to bring about positive change in Burma.
- ·To preserve and promote traditional Ta’ang culture and literature.
- ·To reduce the growth, trade, and use of opium and other drugs in the Ta’ang region.
- ·To provide education on, and increase public awareness of, health care through peer education in the Ta’ang region.
- ·To advocate to the international community and alliance groups to reduce human rights violations in the Ta'ang region.
- ·To protect natural resources and the environment in the Ta’ang region.
- ·To promote education and to increase the skills and abilities of Ta’ang youth.
- ·To increase support for our projects and activities from our local communities.
- ·To work, through awareness raising activities, against the dictatorship and move toward building a peaceful federal democratic state.
DEPARTMENT OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
Our main objective is to build the leadership and political capacity of Ta’ang students and youth. We conduct political empowerment trainings and hold political discussions and peer education in our communities to educate youth on democracy, nationalism and politics. Evaluation of our training programs is conducted through our alumni. We increase the skills and abilities of young men and women through internships, technical training, and opportunities to participate in leadership roles. Through a partnership with the Burma Volunteer Program, we have a full-time volunteer English teacher at our organization to teach staff and students each weekday. Finally, we seek to build networks throughout the Ta’ang region and to promote public support and encouragement.
(2) Education Department
Our education department seeks to promote the scholastic abilities of the Ta’ang public and youth, with particular focus on ensuring basic education for poor and orphaned children. We currently support many children with school materials, as well as boarding school students, and plan to establish more boarding and orphan schools in the near future. We assist university students in financial hardship to complete their degrees, and work to improve the skills and abilities of teachers in our region. Lastly, updating our report, Lightless Life, is essential in monitoring current conditions and for raising awareness in the international community about the declining quality of, and access to, education in our area.
(3) Human Rights Documentation and Information Department
The ultimate objective of our Human Rights Documentation and Information Department is to decrease human rights violations (HRVs) in our region. This information is used to raise awareness in our own communities, as well as the international community, and these trainings improve the documentation and analysis skills of our youth. Our website is maintained and updated regularly, and we collaborate with ND-Burma to collect data about HRVs. This information is stored securely and can provide indispensible documentation for transitional justice in the future.
(4) Environmental Department
Our Ta’ang Environmental Action Team (TEA-Team) seeks to decrease damage to our region’s environment and natural resources through local education, research and report publication, and increasing awareness in the international community. We offer training programs on environmental rights, the connections between HRVs and environmental degradation, deforestation, and other issues. Currently, we are focusing on researching and giving trainings around the environmental impacts of the gas pipeline to China under construction in our region. We also continue to update our report, Under the Boot, about the effects of dams built in our region, including continued research on the impacts of Rulli Dam 3. We will hold a natural environmental campaign and distribute our CD.
(5) Health Department
TSYO’s Health Department aims to promote health and well-being, increase our public’s knowledge about health, and decrease mortality rates, including infant and maternal mortality rates. We conduct health education and offer long term medical training to health workers. Through collaboration with Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO), we support Ta’ang youth to attend an extensive training at Mae Tao Clinic, so that they can work as backpack medics and as community health workers in our mobile clinic. Lastly, we provide transportation for HIV and TB patients to hospitals and clinics.
(6) Culture and Literature Department
The objective of our Culture and Literature Department is to identify, document, maintain, and promote Ta’ang literature, culture, history, and traditions. We are currently working on publishing and distributing a Ta’ang-Burmese-English dictionary, and continue to collect information about Ta’ang culture and history to post on our website. We and add Ta’ang subtitles to educational foreign films to distribute in our region. We also work in partnership with the Ta’ang Culture and Literature Committee on culture and literature issues.