August 4, 2008

Twenty years after the inspiring 8888 uprising, we stand in solidarity as a movement, more determined than ever, to achieve democracy and human rights in Burma.  We join our voices with the people of Burma in the conviction that change is urgent and possible.

On August 8, 1988, young people in Burma launched massive nationwide rallies, calling for an end to military rule and the establishment of a democratic government.  The military response was swift and brutal: It killed around 3,000 people, mostly students and monks, and imprisoned thousands more.  The “8888 generation” has continued their brave struggle for democracy from prison, in exile, and on the ground.  The courageous effort of monks and young people during the Saffron Revolution last September is evidence of the people’s unwavering desire for freedom.

Twenty years on, the international community must realize that unconditional engagement, discreet diplomacy and ASEAN’s so-called constructive engagement has failed.  It has enabled the regime that calls itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to engage in delay tactics while intensifying repression.  We urge the international community to stand united with us and deny the regime the means to continue oppressing and killing civilians.

The situation in Burma and its regional impacts have worsened since 1988, despite the regime’s increased income.  The SPDC has used hundreds of millions of dollars from Burma’s vast oil and gas reserves to buy weapons from China, Russia and India to continue their oppression.  Their misrule has led to increasing displacement, drug trafficking and other threats to human security in the region.

This is why international demands for change must be matched with action, including an arms embargo and targeted financial sanctions.  Without concrete pressure, the military regime will not be motivated to engage in negotiation and genuine reforms.  The international community must be firm in its resolve to ensure that change comes to Burma.  This must begin with:

1. The unconditional release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. In just the last few months, the number of political prisoners has risen by 65% from 1,150 to 1,900.  The regime has already been cracking down on the democracy movement in the lead up to August 8.

2. The cessation of repression and hostilities against ethnic groups.  The military offensive in Eastern Burma has intensified, with 76,000 displaced in 2007 alone. Over the last year, the SPDC Army deployed 85 new battalions in Karen State. Burma has one of the worst displacement situations in the world, affecting many ethnic nationalities.

3. The commencement of tripartite dialogue.  In the past year, the military regime has claimed “progress” towards democracy by conducting a sham constitutional referendum and calling for elections in 2010.  The sham process has worsened Burma’s problems, as evidenced by Burma’s deteriorating political and economic stability.  The root cause of Burma’s problems is political, therefore political dialogue between all stakeholders is an essential starting point for the long-term solution.

The SPDC’s most recent crime against humanity resulted in about 140,000 people dying.  Instead of helping people prepare for Cyclone Nargis, it pushed through a sham referendum in May.  The regime worsened the situation by blocking domestic and international aid to survivors and arresting local aid workers. Now, the SPDC is using the disaster to enrich itself by manipulating the exchange rates, effectively grabbing 25% in “commission” on all aid coming into the country.

August 8, 2008, will also mark the beginning of the Beijing Olympics.  China is uniquely positioned to address Burma’s problems and to facilitate democratic reform.  China must stop protecting Burma at the UN Security Council.

We cannot afford another 20 years of this regime!

1. Burma Partnership (BP)
2. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)
3. Free Burma Coalition – Philippines
4. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
5. Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET)
6. 88 Generation Students (Exile)
7. All Burmese Human Rights Action Committee (Malaysia)
8. All Burma Federation of Student Unions – Foreign Affairs Committee (ABFSU-FAC)
9. Burma Global Action Network (BGAN)
10. Association Suisse-Birmanie
11. Partners Relief & Development Australia
12. All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU)
13. Burma Campaign UK
14. Austrian Burma Center
15. Shwe Gas Movement
16. People’s Forum on Burma
17. Network for Environment and Economic Development (NEED Burma)
18. Burma Information Network (Japan)
19. Karenni IDP’s Research Group
20. People’s Empowerment Foundation
21. National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB)
22. Burma Democratic Concern
23. Center for peoples Dialogue
24. Friends of the Third World
25. US Campaign for Burma
26. Enigma Images
27. Burma Truth
28. Chin National League for Democracy (Exile)
29. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
30. Taiwan Environmental Action Network
31. ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC)
32. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-ASIA)
33. Health Equity Initiatives, Kuala Lumpur
34. Burma Campaign Australia
35. Kachin National Organization -Japan.
36. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)
37. Tibetan UN Advocacy, Switzerland
38. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
39. Focus on the Global South
40. Foundation for Media Alternatives
41. Swedish Burma Committee
42. Network for Environment & Climate Defenders San Frontier (NECADsf)
43. The Other Media
44. Free Burma Housewives
45. Persatuan Pemuda Negara Malaysia
46. terre des hommes Germany
47. Pagan Awareness Work (Inc)
48. Asian Arts
49. Believing Women for a Culture of Peace Organisation
50. Collaborative Development
51. Alliance of Chin Refugees

Media Contact: +66 81 839 9816, +66 84 466 5406, +66 81 686 1652


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