I am encouraged to read your breaking news article Defend the people of Burma, UN, ASEAN urged by Think Centre, Irrawaddy, AHRC, IID, Forum Asia, & Singapore MFA.
In your opening statement you have rightly proclaimed: "ASEAN people need to show solidarity with the people of Burma by supporting their struggle for democratization."
You called for action not words stating very unequivocally in the caption: "Time For Action, Not Words", and I quote: ".... press releases and calls on the regime to respect human rights and free activists are no longer enough. More than 20 years of such verbal disapproval have achieved nothing—it is time that the international community, governments and policymakers engaged in deep thought on what to do with the regime in Burma."
In the light of the sentiments expressed in your breaking news article, I would like to call on Think Centre to start and lead a campaign to support the struggle of the people of Myanmar for freedom. This would be an on-going campaign to continue until the end of military rule in Myanmar. This should best be a coordinated effort in all Asean countries. We can start here in Singapore and we rally all the Myanmese working here and then connect with other NGOs in the other Asean countries. Think Centre with your regional and international network connections can lead such a campaign.
I think it is imperative that we do this otherwise as one Myanmese wrote in a ST discussion board:
"Economic sanctions, powerful commments, visit by UN delegates. etc...do you think these brainless dictators understand?...International pressures don't affect these devils..only the innocent citizens suffer...something need to do to bring them down to the ground..just like the way the Hitler was brought down ....I mean by other means....nothing is going to touch them. Just wait and see...oh yes..more people will die and this will be forgotten ...ASEAN, UK, US will start trading with them again. ...isn't what happen after 8th August 1988 ...after mass killing in Rangoon..oh yes..Burma was admitted to ASEAN...indirectly accepting them !!"
I completely share the above concern. We have witnessed now that the brutal crackdown continues right through the visit of the UN envoy! Yes "nothing is going to touch them" unless the world stand together to confront the generals with actions (not words) that will affect them and their families in a personal way, such as travel ban to every country, freezing all their foreign currencies accounts in banks in all countries, and let the world bring food and humanitarian aid directly to the people of Myanmar through UN agencies such as WFP and through humanitarian NGOs i.e. through non-military pressure force the generals to relinguish their power.
The news media and NGOs and all peoples who care must keep up the pressure on UN and the governments and not allow what happened after 1988 ... "more people will die and this will be forgotten ...ASEAN, UK, US will start trading with them again. ... "
And why do the world have to do this ? Because this is a matter of conscience, because what the generals has been doing for decades in Myanmar is a crime against humanity making a mockery of humanity again and again, because bringing an end to the bizarre miltary rule is the only way to free the people of Myanmar and to begin restoring peace and stability for the country and for the region.
In mounting a campaign I think we then truly support the Burmese struggle for liberation through "action, not words" and make a difference. We are then truly in solidarity with the people of Myanmar!
With prayers for the liberation of the people of Myanmar from the "sin of the world"!
Peter S H Chen
Sources and Relevant Links:
ST Forum: Peter Chen Take generals to task and free Myanmar 4 Oct 2007
All peoples and governments with a conscience cannot stay neutral anymore. We have to answer the call to help the people of Myanmar in their struggle for freedom and dignity, justice and peace.
Think Centre Defend the people of Burma, UN, ASEAN urged 27 September 2007
Forum Asia 122 Human Rights Groups in Asia-Pacific Call for a Special Session on Burma 28 September 2007
Think Centre is one of 122 Human Rights calling for a Special Session on Burma.
Forum Asia Asian NGOs' Statement before the Special HRC Session on Myanmar 02 October 2007
This statement has been endorsed by 243 human rights organisations including Think Centre.