Saturday, December 24, 2011

US Campaign for Burma make 2012 a year of peace

Give Today: Make 2012 A Year of Peace


We left everything in the village, but if we go back we need to hide, we’re afraid to meet the troops. If we go home and stay we will not feel safe.”

Male pastor, 37, interviewed on 23 September, 2011 - Kachin State, Burma [read more here]

2011 has been a mixed year. We have excitedly seen Daw Aung San Suu Kyi meet with regime officials and the NLD become a legal political party. However, it has also been distressing to hear of conflict and human rights abuses rapidly spreading in ethnic minority areas. Accounts such as the one from the Kachin pastor above are too common. We need your help so that in 2012 we can push harder for increased U.S. government aid delivery to displaced communities. More people have had to fllee their homes in Burma in the past year than any other year in the last decade. Will you donate and support the movement to end abuses against the people of Burma?

It's going to take stronger political action. While there may be some reformers in Burma's new government, the underlining problem is that the military is completely independent from any other branch of government. They can do whatever they want. Two weeks ago President Thein Sein called for attacks to stop in Kachin State. Nevertheless, the military didn't listen and continued to attack and are now moving more battalions into the area.

In 2012, we will have new campaigns that utilize innovative new technologies that will propel U.S. and International action to help communities in Burma. We will also work with the thousands of people from Burma who have resettled in the U.S. after fleeing ongoing conflict, and will train them on how to become advocates on behalf of those still suffering back home in Burma. They will be powerful change agents who will raise the voices of the communities inside Burma who face ongoing abuse.

2012 will be a busy year, and that is why we need your support. We do not want to wait and see if all political prisoners will be released or if attacks will stop. We will continually take action to push for justice, peace and freedom. The military in Burma is increasing its power, and so we must increase our efforts to end their abuses. Please Donate Today.

Thank You!

Thelma Young, U.S. Campaign for Burma


Secretary Clinton Goes to Burma

During the trip, Secretary Clinton reiterated the demands that the U.S. Campaign for Burma and the democracy movement have been calling for: the unconditional release of all political prisoners, an end to civil war and hostilities against ethnic minorities, and genuine democratic reform including all stakeholders. These are the necessary actions that will show true reform. In an interview with NPR Secretary Clinton said, "We will be watching" and made clear that the U.S. response to Burma is measured on what actually happens in the country

On her first full day Sec. Clinton met with President Thein Sein and other government officials in Naypyidaw. She said the US would ”match action with action” — greater aid, economic rewards and diplomatic prestige in return for bolder reforms. She also challenged Burma to continue to expand upon the reforms, calling for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, an end to violent campaigns against ethnic minorities and a breaking of military ties with North Korea.

She had dinner with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the next day had meetings with her and other leaders from civil society, various ethnic groups, and other activists. At Secretary Clinton's and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's joint press conference, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that the two greatest needs in Burma are the rule of law and an end to hostilities.

Secretary Clinton's recent trip to Burma showed how valuable the work of the U.S. Campaign for Burma and our grassroots has been to make Burma a major policy priority. Secretary Clinton delivered a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi from President Obama, in it he said that this trip demonstrates "the seriousness of our commitment to helping the people of Burma achieve their democratic aspirations."

Ongoing Conflict and Attacks Against Ethnic Groups

Some people might think Burma never gets cold, but in Northern Burma where conflict continues to rage, winter can really take it’s toll. In the jungle mountains of Kachin state, soldiers of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) work to hold off the attacks of Burma’s Army and protect the more than 40,000 civilians that have fled to the KIA headquarters for protection. Despite President Thein Sein calls for the army to stop offensives, he has no power over the military and there is little sign on the ground that the military has listened to him. Life is getting harder for the 40,000+ displaced people in Kachin areas. After six months of fighting, the UN has finally been able to go in and do one drop off of supplies, but more is needed.

There have been three new reports released that show the extent of ongoing crimes, conflict, and humanitarian needs in Burma's conflict areas.

Partners Relief and Development: "Crimes in Northern Burma: Results from a Fact-Finding Mission to Kachin State"

Physicians for Human Rights: "Under Seige in Kachin State, Burma"

Backpack Health Workers Team: "Situation Update: Conflict and Displacement in Burma's Border Areas Sept-Dec 2011"

Karen Human Rights Group released a report last week that is an analysis and compilation of 1,270 oral testimonies of civilians in eastern Burma. The first-hand accounts of people in Karen state show that “Over the last 12 months, villagers in Eastern Burma continued to raise concerns of ongoing human rights abuses consistent with trends identified over the last 20 years.”

Unjust Discipline to Monk

A monk in Burma has been ordered out of his monastery by regime appointed Buddhist elders who said he had given an inappropriate speech at an office of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Ashin Pyinyar Thiha, who recently met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her historic visit, said he received a letter from the State Sangha Maha Nayaka committee asking him to leave Sardu Buddhist Monastery in Rangoon. It said the action was taken because of a speech he made at a branch of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy in Mandalay in central Burma in September.

Read more here

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