5/22/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 22: Felicity Huffman

5/21/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 21: Sylvester Stallone

5/20/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 20: Ellen Page

5/16/08

Paranoid Burmese junta steps up security around Suu Kyi

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
Friday, 16 May 2008


"It used to be you could ask any taxi driver and they would show you her house.

There could be no stopping and no taking photographs, but they would drive you along Rangoon's University Avenue and you could glimpse the property where Aung San Suu Kyi has spent almost 13 years under house arrest.

Now you cannot even do that. The day after Cyclone Nargis struck, the military authorities ordered that the security around her house be increased. So long a prisoner in her own home, she is now even more isolated from the Burmese people.

Given the devastation wrought by Nargis, one might have assumed the authorities had more pressing priorities. But their decision to block off the house of the leader of Burma's political opposition reveals the junta's concern over the power the 62-year-old woman holds.

After hundreds of monks gathered outside her house during September's pro-democracy demonstrations, the junta is apparently keen to ensure she does not again become a rallying point for people angry and frustrated by the regime's ineffective response to the damage caused by the storm.

Suu Kyi lives with two maids. Her meals are brought in every day – checked by guards outside her house. Foreign diplomats were once permitted to call but that was stopped; her doctor is her only regular visitor. But even those visits, every three weeks, have been halted.

"Whenever they are worried about her influencing the current situation they stop her doctor's visits," said a Western diplomat based in Rangoon. "After last September, her doctor was not allowed to visit until December."

Her unique position is partly the result of an absence of alternative political leaders. Almost all of the organisers of several demonstrations held in Rangoon last summer before the larger protests in September have been jailed. Of the remainder, some have left the country while others are in hiding. Suu Kyi remains the only visible opposition figure.

"Burma's half-million-strong army is terrified of her. She has the love and support of the people. She unites Burma's different political and ethnic groups. This makes her their greatest threat – she unites the people against the regime," said Mark Farmaner, of the Burma Campaign UK.

"The generals are trying to keep her completely isolated from her people and from the world. Her phone line is cut, they intercept all her post. No visitors are allowed. Her sons are not even allowed into the country and she has grandchildren that she has never seen."

Suu Kyi was last detained in May 2003. In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the Burmese regime, the generals annually renew her imprisonment with a detention order delivered to her house.

"There may be a lot of younger people who do not agree with everything she says," said another Westerner who lives in Rangoon. "But if she was released everybody would rally around her. The regime is paranoid of the West and they are paranoid of her."

The opposition leader reportedly fills her time reading and meditating. It is unclear whether she still has a radio. She used to play the piano in her house but complained many years ago that it had fallen into disrepair."

from: The Independent

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5/10/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 10: Davood

5/9/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 9: Wally Langham

5/8/08

100,000 Dead: Regime Still Blocks Aid, China Complicit

Here's What You Can Do

Dear Friends,

The news is staggering and in many ways unfathomable. Yesterday, Shari Villarosa, the leading US diplomat in Burma said that 100,000 may have died and 95% of the buildings in the affected areas could be wiped out. The death tolls could increase as water born diseases such as cholera are beginning to spread, and in these worst hit areas aid has not to arrive.

The Burmese regime's blocking of aid is beyond horrendous. Minimal aid is being allowed in. There are still many people and supplies waiting to go, but the Burmese regime continues to deny access. Yesterday, the French government launched a push in the UN to try and enforce aid delivery, but China blocked the effort. If you haven't already, email UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and urge him to step in. Yesterday, within hours after thousands of our members writing in, Ban Ki-moon did start speaking out about Burma. However, more must happen.

In situations as grave as this, many people cannot sit by and watch.

Here's what you can do

Hold a fundraiser. Many of you are already working on this, and we greatly appreciate it. While the Burmese regime isn't allowing international aid in, you can fundraise. We will then send the money directly to trusted Burmese organizations inside who are working to help the people. You can send checks to us or make online donations.

Get your community involved. Here are some events that are going on around the country. Check out the page on the US Campaign for Burma website about the cyclone, for updated news, other info about the situation, and word about upcoming events. On that page at the bottom you can easily add a comment about what you are doing.

Please let us know what you are planning so we can post it on our site. This is a very difficult time, but we can work together to try and save lives.

New York City
Friday, May 9th
UN Demonstration for Cyclone Victims
Time: 3:00-5:00 pm
Location: Ralph Bunche Park, United Nations. 434d and 1st Ave
http://nyburmaroundtable.googlepages.com
Candle Light Vigil
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Union Square

San Francisco
Friday, May 9th
(4-6pm Protest & Rally; 6-7pm Speakers; 7-8pm Prayers & Vigil)
San Francisco Federal Building/Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Office
450 Golden Gate Avenue (@Larkin), San Francisco, CA
www.badasf.org

Washington DC
Sunday, May 11th
Protest in front of SPDC attache (2300 California Ave)
6:00pm

Prayer Vigil at Burmese Buddhist Temple at 10:00 am

Boston
Saturday, May 10th
Fundraiser 12-4pm
Yoma Restaurant
5 N Beacon St
Allston, MA 02134
http://harvardbam.blogspot.com

Dallas
Saturday May 10th
Prayer Service and fundraiser
Thanksgiving Square
1627 Pacific Ave (between Akard and Bryan), Dallas

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5/7/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 7: Eric Szmanda / Jorja Fox

5/6/08

Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 6: Eddie Izzard

2/14/08

Burma Democracy Leader Assassinated

"Dear friends,

We [US Campaign for Burma] write with great sadness to tell you of the assassinaton of one of Burma's most prominent leaders. Phado Mahn Sha, a leader of the Karen people, was killed last night while resting at his home. He was 64 years old.


While details are still unclear, it is likely that the assassination was organized by Burma's military regime and/or its cronies.

Many of our [US Campaign for Burma] staff members had met and worked with Mahn Sha in recent years. Aung Din and Jennifer saw him for the last time in January. Jeremy helped arrange for Mahn Sha to brief members of Congress when he traveled to the United States in 2003. He was one of the most principled and courageous people we have ever met, and now he has made the ultimate sacrifice for human rights, democracy, and self-determination.

Mahn Sha was the General Secretary of the Karen National Union, the leaders of the Karen ethnic nationality in Burma. The Karen are one of Burma's largest ethnic nationalities in Burma. In some ways politically similar to the Native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States, Mahn Sha and the Karen people struggled to hold onto their ancestral homelands under the rule of Burma's brutal military regime.

Seeking to destroy the Karen and other ethnic nationalities' desire for self-determination, Burma's military regime has carried out a war on civilians in eastern Burma, destroying or forcing the abandonment of 3,200 villages in the last ten years. At least 1.5 million people have fled their homes. To put this in the context of a more well-known world crisis, it is estimated that this is twice as many villages as have been destroyed in Darfur.

The attacks on Karen and other ethnic minority civilians in eastern Burma are one of the most under-reported stories in the world. The attacks have been aimed at civilians -- destroying food supplies, rice fields and barns, homes, medical clinics, and schools.

Several consecutive United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council (previously Human Rights Commission) resolutions have called on Burma's military regime to enter into peaceful dialog with the Karen people and Burma's other ethnic minorities, along with the democracy movement led by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. Mahn Sha and the KNU have been strong supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party the National League for Democracy. Like Suu Kyi, the KNU believe that peace, human rights, and equality among all ethnic nationalities will come to Burma through negotations under the auspices of the United Nations.

However, the regime has defied these UN requests, refusing to enter into talks while continuing its attacks on civilians. The regime is able to continue these attacks mainly because of China's protective cloak at the UN Security Council. The Security Council is the only body at the UN that has the authority to force countries to make changes, but because China holds veto power over all Council decisions, it has effectively paralyzed the entire United Nations. As a result of China's veto, the UN is making the same mistakes it made on Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur -- yet again.

We especially respected Mahn Sha because of his compassion toward child soldiers and other Burmese army deserters. Burma's military regime has conscripted more child soldiers than any other country in the world, up to 70,000. Child soldiers and other Burmese army deserters fleeing Burma's regime often sought refuge with the KNU and Mahn Sha provided homes and protection for many of former child soldiers and Burmese army deserters. His political integrity was clearly matched by the size of his heart.

Burma's regime has targeted numerous leaders of Burma's ethnic minorities. Instead of entering negotiations as called for by the UN, Burma's regime is violently attacking ethnic minorities. Three years ago, a leader of the Shan ethnic nationality, Khun Htun Oo, was sentenced to 93 years in prison along with several other Shan leaders. Khun Htun Oo is an elected member of parliament from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, a party aligned with Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

We take some solace in the fortitude displayed by Mahn Sha. He was unwavering in his commitment to democracy and self-determination, and inspiring to thousands of people who were lucky enough to have worked with him.

All of us need to do more to bring an end to horrific human rights violations in Burma. Thank you so much for your strong support for our work. Keep an eye on this list in the coming couple of weeks as we launch a new effort aimed at focusing attention on China's propping up of Burma's military regime in the run-up to the Olympics. We will need your help.

Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Jennifer Quigley, and Thelma Young"
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Support 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.
Become a member of the United States Campaign for Burma today.


from US Campaign for Burma

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2/11/08

'Burma's Announced Referendum and Election a Charade'

Dear All,

"We released a press release today condemning Burma's military junta for their announcement to legalize the new constitution. This new constitution is a ploy to formally legalize the military's hold on power. Some may see the military's announcement for a referendum and then elections as progress, but it is actually a gross step backwards.

"The promised vote continues the military regime's process of consolidating its grip on power. It is not a real referendum, it is a charade," said Aung Din, executive director of the US Campaign for Burma.

The announcement by the regime comes one week after the leader of Burma's democracy movement, imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, said that democracy activists should "prepare for the worst." The regime's move also comes four months after a massive crackdown on Buddhist monks, student activists, and members of Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy.

"How can the regime hold a vote when the entire opposition is locked up behind bars?" added Aung Din, who was imprisoned for four years as a political activist in Burma.

Burma's regime also announced it would hold a multi-party election in 2010 to follow this year's planned referendum. The new constitution would grant supreme power to the commander in chief of the Burmese military, effectively forestalling any progress toward democracy. The underground coalition of Buddhist monks and students that organized nationwide demonstrations in September 2007 have already criticized the plan, calling it an effort to legalize military rule and sideline the legitimately elected leaders of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. The NLD won 82% of the seats in parliament in Burma's last election, a landslide victory that the regime has blocked from governing. Human rights activists see the upcoming votes as a way for the regime to erase the NLD's electoral victory while cementing its own grip on power.

The referendum process stands in stark contrast to a call by the United Nations Security Council on October 11th, 2007 for the regime to participate in meaningful negotiations with Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD and the ethnic representatives. Additionally, 29 consecutive resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly, Commission on Human Rights, and Human Rights Council have called for "tri-partite" talks between the regime, NLD, and Burma's ethnic minorities. Instead of heeding the UN, the regime appears to be taking a one-sided approach and refusing to participate in genuine talks.

Observers expect the military will mobilize the "Union Solidarity and Development Association" and "Swan Arr Shin" to force the people to vote for its constitution. The two organizations have led brutal attacks on Aung San Suu Kyi, members of the NLD, and Buddhist monks that have left hundreds of activists dead and thousands imprisoned.

Burma's regime is among the worlds most brutal. The regime has locked up over 2,000 political prisoners including hundreds of students, Buddhist monks, and the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. The regime has also recruited up to 70,000 child soldiers, more than any other country in the world, and destroyed 3,200 villages in eastern Burma, forcing 1.5 million people to flee their homes as refugees."

Support 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.
Become a member of the United States Campaign for Burma today.
"

from US Campaign for Burma

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