The 88 Generation Students
Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma)
Statement 4/2008 (88)
Date: 25 February 2008
Calling Citizens around the World to Pressure the Government of China to Withdraw Its Unilateral Support for the Burmese Military Junta and to Boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics
(1) Today, the 88 Generation Students, a coalition of leading former student activists who spearheaded the country's 1988 national uprising that nearly toppled decades of military rule, call for citizens around the world to pressure the Government of China to withdraw its unilateral support of the Burmese military junta and to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics in response to China's bankrolling of the military junta that rules our country of Burma with guns and threats.
(2) China is a major trade partner, major arms supplier and major defender of the junta in the international arena, especially in the United Nations Security Council. The military junta in Burma is still in power to this day, despite strong and continuous resistance by the people of Burma, because of China's support. China has provided billions of dollars in weapons, used its veto power at the UN Security Council to paralyze peaceful efforts at change, and unilaterally undermined diplomatic efforts to free the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.
(3) The 88 Generation Students has requested many times to the Chinese Government to play a constructive role in national reconciliation in Burma. We have also asked China to end its unilateral support for Burma's regime and instead facilitate a meaningful and time-bound dialogue between the military junta, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, and ethnic representatives to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, by using its significant influence over the junta or by working together with other members of the UNSC. However, our constructive outreach to China has been met with silence and more weapons shipments. Therefore, now we call for action to respond to the irresponsible manner of the Chinese Government. While China plans to celebrate the Olympics on August 8, 2008, which is the 20th anniversary of the 1988 popular democracy uprising in our country; it is essentially enslaving the people of Burma
(4) We call for each and every citizen around the world not to watch the Olympics ceremonies on television and boycott this Genocide Olympics/Saffron Olympics. We urge people of conscience throughout the world – including the hundreds of thousands of Burmese in dozens of countries – to pledge to not watch or support in any way the Beijing Olympics.
(5) We also ask each and every citizen around the world to boycott any Olympics merchandise or products from China and its Olympics sponsors during the time of Beijing Olympics.
The 88 Generation Students
The 88 Generation Students
Burmese Bloggers without Borders (BBWOB)Team says NO to the constitution by Myanmar's military junta.
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By AUNG ZAW
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
February 19, 2008
MAE SOT, Thailand
[Source - Wall Street Journal Online]
On Valentine's Day, two gunmen walked up to a wooden house in this border town and assassinated one of Burma's most prominent ethnic minority leaders. The killing inflicts a serious blow to Burma's flagging pro-democracy movement.
Mahn Sha was the leader of the Karen National Union, an armed rebel group fighting for autonomy from Burma's ruling military junta. He joined the KNU in 1966 after finishing his studies in history at Rangoon University. Over the next few decades, he rose steadily through the ranks, finally serving as General Saw Bo Mya's personal secretary. At the KNU's 12th Party Congress in 2000, he was elected secretary-general, the third highest-ranking position in the KNU.
A Buddhist in a mostly Christian movement, Mahn Sha was unusual for his ability to win support from across Burma's various pro-democracy movements. As KNU leader, he spearheaded several rounds of peace talks between the Karen and the ruling Burmese military junta. He also supported Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. When the KNU delegation went to Rangoon in December 2005 for peace talks, the regime requested that Mahn Sha be excluded from the discussions -- surely a sign of his moral authority.
Unfortunately, Mahn Sha didn't preside over a unified movement. The KNU is rife with grave internal conflicts, mostly over whether to talk or fight with the ruling junta -- something the former secretary-general was careful not to expose in interviews with the international press. These divisions have only served to strengthen Burma's generals, who employ a "divide and conquer" strategy to weaken pro-democracy groups -- as well as brute force, as last year's killings in Rangoon demonstrated.
Mahn Sha himself recognized the danger from internal party conflicts. On Burma's Union Day, a celebration of the country's independence from Britain and two days before his untimely death, he told Irrawaddy magazine: "So 60 years have been wasted in vain, and instead of prosperity, we have fallen into poverty because of the military dictatorship. There is no security. That's why we want to establish a democracy and federal union, which is the best form of government to bring all the ethnic nationalities together."
In fact, his assassination could be the result of those very divisions with the Karen movement itself. The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, a Karen group that broke away from the KNU in 1995, is now allied with the Burmese army. In January last year, another group, the Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council, also split from the KNU, and its leader, former KNLA 7th Brigade commander Htain Maung, signed a ceasefire agreement with the regime. Since Htain Maung's surrender, there have been several assassination attempts and killings among Karen groups, but mostly within Burma. On Jan. 29, for instance, Htain Maung's son-in-law was killed when a bomb was placed under his bed in Karen State in Burma. The breakaway faction accused the KNU and Mahn Sha of planning the killing.
Still, there was little reason for Mahn Sha to fear for his life in Thailand. Since the start of the Cold War, Bangkok enforced a "buffer zone policy" with respect to its neighbors. Ethnic Burmese minorities such as the Karen, Mon and Shan rebels enjoyed relative freedom in Thailand, and -- most importantly -- access to arms which they then shipped back into Burma to rebels fighting for autonomy.
It's unclear if Mahn Sha's assassination signals an end to these "buffer zone" freedoms. Thailand is now a major trading partner of Burma, dealing mostly in gas, teak and other natural resources. The new, democratically elected government in Bangkok has been unusually silent on the killing, leading many Karen to wonder if the still-unknown culprits will ever be brought to justice.
The KNU named a new secretary general, 61-year-old Htoo Htoo Lay, last week. But the party's president, Saw Ba Thin Sein, and its vice president, Tamala Baw, are in poor health. Mahn Sha was a respected, articulate KNU leader who fought his entire life for freedom and democracy. If the Karen can't get their act together soon, they may soon sink into irrelevance -- and with them, so too will Mahn Sha's vision of a free Burma.
[source - Daily Times]
“YOU can take my picture but please don’t put it in any magazines,” the old man said with alarm. Then he paused and shook his head apologetically. “We live in fear in this country,” he said.
I’ll call him Tin Ngwe. Printing his real name would probably land him in jail; printing mine would get me on a journalist’s blacklist.
I followed him as he shuffled around the Shwedagon temple complex in the shadow of the huge golden stupa which forms the spiritual centre of Rangoon. Last September, when hundreds of Burmese monks took part in a three-week protest against the government, Shwedagon became their focal point.
I asked Tin Ngwe where all the monks were now, as I had only seen a handful in what is one of Burma’s most important religious sites. He led me away from the crowds to the eastern gate, and pointed to the road below, where the first demonstration by monks had begun. “Thirty-one of them,” he said, “all shot”. Many other monks and protesters are, according to human rights groups, still being held in jail.
Last week the Burmese state-controlled media announced that a national referendum on a new constitution would be held in May, and general elections in 2010. No-one I met had any faith in the promise. A young man in his 30s told me: “We read that paper and we laugh. It’s already taken so long. I know my country and I know my government. It won’t happen.” It has been 18 years since the last polls. The government lost them to Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, so they ignored the result.
In August 1988 the military government crushed a national uprising, killing an estimated 3,000 people. Ms Suu Kyi has spent most of her time since then either in jail or under house arrest, where she is today.
Chinese influence: Many observers believe the junta has decided to make this new promise of elections because of pressure from China. Beijing’s influence in Burma is considerable, if not yet decisive.
I recently asked a Rangoon-based diplomat what role she thought China was playing in the country. Speaking off the record, she answered “whatever best protects their commercial interests”. The Chinese were not bothered by the fate of Aung San Suu Kyi or the progress of reform, she said - they just want things stable so they can keep doing business. And old Tin Ngwe agreed. He told me that in the long run it did not really matter what the government promised to do, because “the Chinese will be running the country soon”.
“They are buying up everything we have,” he said. “We should be a rich country, we have gems, jade, gold, everything but diamonds, but the people are still poor. “This government steals everything from us and sells it to the Chinese. Go downtown,” he said. “You’ll see them.”
Indian competition: But the commercial hub of Rangoon is not only dominated by Burma’s huge northern neighbour, China. Burma is sandwiched between two emerging Asian giants.
Both are seeking the regional upper hand. Both are still wary of each other, with a legacy of mistrust stretching back to a border war in 1962. Off a corner of Maha Bandoola Garden street in downtown Rangoon, I found some of the men benefiting from India’s decision not to take a stand against the junta and to actively oppose sanctions.
Sitting in a huddle around an Indian Paan-wallah, who was making something like chewing tobacco but from betel nut, were four Muslim businessmen from Mumbai. “There are a lot of Indians here,” I said to one in Hindi. “The Indians are here, the Chinese are over there,” he said with a smile. “Where are the Burmese?” I asked him. “Up there,” he said with a dismissive wave.
“This place is going down man,” he added, then lent back on his chair and, smiling again, he said: “But there are good gems here.” Meanwhile, uptown, his foreign secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon, was doing business with the military junta. A few years ago Delhi did try to take a principled stand against one of its rogue neighbours, by threatening action against the King of Nepal in the dying days of his autocratic rule. But the Chinese simply offered the king their support instead, so India had to back down. Delhi has learnt from that lesson. It is clearly not about to risk losing Burma and the prospect of new gas, oil and infrastructure projects.
The Indian press are already being briefed about Delhi’s growing influence, with claims that Mr Menon’s chat with the Burmese generals secured another visit to Burma by the UN secretary general’s special adviser Ibrahim Gambari.
Mr Menon is a busy man. A few weeks ago he was in Beijing lauding the signing of a document between the Indians and Chinese that promised a “shared vision” for the future. The consequences of that seem to suggest a shift in perspective more from the Indian side than from China’s, which has never claimed to be a champion of human rights.
Unfortunately for many Burmese, this “shared vision” suggests that the world’s largest democracy has decided to turn a blind eye to the violent suppression of democracy in the country next door - at least, that is, while the Burmese junta still have something to bargain with. courtesy bbc news
By Aung Zaw
[Source - Irrawaddy]
UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari is not a superman—I have to remind colleagues of that in order to moderate their expectations. But now I suspect that his mission to Burma is all but over.
On Tuesday evening, Burma’s military government announced that the draft of the proposed new constitution has been completed. The news came 11 days after the regime announced it would hold a referendum on the constitution in May and a general election in 2010.
Tuesday’s announcement is another nail in the coffin of the flagging pro-democracy movement. It is a signal finally to nullify the 1990 election winner, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and an indication that the dialogue process and the UN’s national reconciliation process are dead.
This means that Gambari’s Burma mission is no longer needed, although it’s surprising that he didn’t realize from day one that his job was just a sinecure.
The Nigerian diplomat had to earn his title somehow, however. Now he’s back in Asia again for what many observers are saying will be his last trip to the region.
After visiting China and meeting Chinese foreign ministry officials, Gambari said that the Burmese government’s proposals for a May referendum on a constitution written under military guidance and for general elections in 2010 were significant steps forward.
"This is a significant step as it marks the first time that we have an established time frame for the implementation of its political roadmap," Gambari said.
However, he also said Burma must create "an atmosphere conducive to credible elections," adding that this must include the release of political prisoners and relaxation of restrictions on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest. But it’s all too late, and I don’t believe the Burmese people are listening to him.
The proposals are significant for the generals in Naypyidaw, as the draft constitution guarantees the military’s prominent role in future politics.
The constitution ensures that the military, in or out of uniform, continues to run the country in the future. It strengthens the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the regime’s mass association, in the key role it plays in politics, with the military leaders pulling the strings.
Where does that leave the NLD? Tuesday’s announcement terminates the political life spans of members of parliament elected in the 1990 poll. The draft constitution also effectively bars Aung San Suu Kyi from running for office, on the grounds that she was once married to a foreigner.
Although the Burmese people haven’t yet seen the draft of the proposed new constitution, USDA members and government representatives at township level have begun work on the May referendum.
Angered by the crackdown on the September demonstrations, the people are in no mood to cooperate with the regime’s referendum. Yet sources in Rangoon say they will be forced at gunpoint to vote—and to vote “Yes.”
At this critical time, Gambari must make sure he is not endorsing the military’s proposed constitution and its road map to “disciplined democracy.”
It is understandable that Gambari wants to return to Burma to meet the junta’s supremo, Snr-Gen Than Shwe.
The regime equivocated over Gambari’s plans, forcing him to delay his visit until April. China, the regime’s major ally and political consultant, helped him obtain a visa.
Even if Gambari does return to Burma in April, he may have little to do there.
During previous visits, he was virtually a prisoner of the government and stayed in isolated Naypyidaw, following a regime-ordained itinerary that included attendance at a rally in Shan State denouncing September’s pro-democracy uprising.
Aside from earning him frequent flyer mileage on his Asian tours, Gambari’s mission is as dead as Burma’s pro-democracy movement.
The diplomatic jargon and the endless repetition of such clichés as "tangible results," “turning a new page” and “cautious optimism” no longer have any meaning. The mission is over.
By Ye-Baw Nyein
Translated by Burmese Bloggers w/o Borders
Firstly, I would like to state that I decided to write this article solely for the sake of Burma. I take full responsibility as an individual for whatever possible consequences this article might have in future.
SPDC (Burma’s military junta) has announced to the world that they will hold elections in May this year. While Daw Aung San Su Kyi is telling her NLD Executive Committee members to “hope for the best, and prepare for the worst”, SPDC, who apparently seems to be confident about having the backing of China, Russia, and Asean, is asking their lackeys (swan-arr-shin) to go from door-to-door trying to influence and persuade the people to participate in their upcoming election. In fact, it is rather ironic to see them persuading the people even after the atrocities that they have done in recent September movement. After all, since Ne Win took over power in Burma, only the names that they used to call themselves have changed and their techniques have remained the same over the decades; they will take every precaution, every action to sustain their power over Burma.
If we look back at what happened during the most recent September movement, the crafty SPDC used brutal Rules of Engagement (ROE) to suppress and methods of psychological warfare effectively. On the other hand, the various pro-democracy groups standing in front of Burmese people seemed unprepared. The leadership of NLD, a forefront party in Burma’s democracy movement over the years, was frozen. As soon as 88-Generation students' leaders such as Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Ko Htay Kywel, and Jimmy, etc were arrested, the leadership and management of the September movement were weakened a great deal and the movement eventually seemed to succumb under the iron batons of SPDC’s lackeys and bullets.
In my opinion, we would have been able to avoid such outcome if NLD Excecutive committee members had taken a strong stand and leadership during the September movement. In fact, they also failed to take the strong frontal role during 1988 movement almost two decades ago. If not for such, we might not have to sacrifice so much over the years, our army might not have ended up being manipulated by a group of people, and Burma might not have lost so many natural resources and talented people over the years.
This time, SPDC is blatantly planning to do things their own way again. SPDC has tortured, detained, imprisoned, and killed our people from all walks of life even including monks. After all this, are we to take their “don’t-care” attitude towards the people and let them have their own way any further? That is the question that I would like to ask the current Excecutive committee members of NLD.
In order to free Burma from the hands of SPDC, we all have our own roles to play.
For the sake of Burmese people and its future generations, NLD should start to plan and implement the necessary actions to stand strongly against SPDC.
The soldiers in the army should also search their own conscience whether they should blindly follow the orders from ruthless SPDC, who only think of personal gains and nothing for the people of Burma, just because SPDC might have enticed them with comfortable lifestyles. Or would they rather become the army for the people to save Burma from falling deeper into abyss?
And the people themselves should also no longer take all this lying down. They must cast aside all their fears to free themselves from having to lead lives full of poverty and suppression under the hands of cold-blooded and merciless SPDC.
I would like to conclude that it is inevitable for the path to Burma’s freedom to be without much sacrifice and hardship. Regardless of what might be ahead of us, we must not give up for the sake of ourselves, our loved ones and our future generations. That is the responsibility that we all have as the people of Burma.
Burmese Democracy leader , Aung San Suu Kyi who was detained in house arrest is writing her message to people. Not on world wide web but on her own fence.
Since last September Sanga ' saffron revolution, she started to use this method to express her message to Burmese people. During this movement, reportedly said that many of her neighbors had seen the sign board , written in Pali ( sanskirt) meaning that " May you be free from all dangers".
Aung San Suu Kyi, in front of her fence, paying respect to marching monks
Another message " Only Democracy is appropriate for Independence" was hanging at weathered and broken fence for long time. Just 2 days ago, on historic " Burma Union Day", exactly 6 am on early morning, she changed new message, meaning that " Work in Unity, it's only a meaningful way".
Before these informal message, she covey her first outbreak message that she is ready for reconciliation unconditionally, via Mr. Gambari , UN special Envoy to Burma.
Again, during a rare chance of meeting with her colleagues recently, she recoiled her father's historic calling, exactly as, Hope for the best - prepare for the worst.
Now, she seems keep giving her message in possible ways between such a very stringent situations. Unfortunately, not many people except her neighbors and security guards could see what she may write out there. There is a tight security measure are imposing in this area. However, news is getting out in its own way.
She wants to talk Burmese people. She wants to save Burma. She might be impatient and afflicted for Burma democracy movement. She keeps giving message. Keep watch and listen. Keep follow through her fence log.
Among bloggers’ friends, he was given a nickname as “Count Nay Phone Latt”. Last year, on this very same day, he gave life to his blog, and called it as “A city that I dropped”. Today marks the one year anniversary for his blog. Most notably, his very first post on his blog was also given a title as “a city that was dropped”. In reality, his blog has shown us many sides of Nay Phone Latt: a talented writer, and a passionate artist, etc. During 365 days, his “city” has produced 122 blog posts with fine quality. His posts provided much insight about different aspects of life for his readers though he, himself, did not notice how much impact he had imprinted upon their minds.
The word “first” in a series of events for Burmese Bloggers’ society seems almost inseparable with him and his blog. His enthusiasm was prominent during the discussions for the very first printed book that Burmese bloggers tried to produce. His regular presence at those discussions was never without a doubt. His involvement during the very first Blog Day Seminar in Rangoon, Burma, was also significant. When a TV channel, MRTV4, and various media in Burma wanted to find out about Burmese bloggers’ society, he was there to explain and to field questions with much professionalism.
Within Burmese Bloggers’ society, there is a beautiful practice of writing special posts and leaving comments for each other on their special days, such as their birthdays, and their blogs’ birthday, etc.
Today, a “city” that Nay Phone Latt built with his heart has turned one year old. If he were here with us today, he would surely have written a post to commemorate the anniversary of his blog. However, where is he now? We are all anxiously waiting to deliver our best wishes to him by writing our comments under his anniversary post. We are all waiting to rekindle his blog with smiles and laughter and we keep on waiting …
For someone who has always wanted unity among Burmese bloggers, who has always hoped for the best for the youths of Burma, who has always put his heart and soul for Burma, we will be praying for his well-being with this post.
21 st century is running on its broadband internet line. We find our way out to freedom on this fiber optic line. This is our home away from home, Freedom without freedom.
Burma, our country is going nowhere. Even moving backwards to dead end. Why we should let it happen. We never ! ever !
For so many years, we did try our best with our blood. Whoever against the government, even with a whisper is risking his life.
In every layer of the society - students, lawyers, doctors, artists, farmers and even soldiers themselves are imprisoned just for their faith, their love for freedom, their search for justice.
Now , wicked hands are coming to bloggers. Burmese blogger, Nay Phone Latt, who just disappeared from his way with no clues. He dedicated his time in writings and community works. He simply love his country like everyone else. He might trying his bits of task to figure out Democracy.
Where he is now? Nobody knows except those who took him. What an unfair and terrible situation happening in Burma. Big brothers are everywhere. Nightmare is in everybody. Uncertainty is in every corner.
But we believe that Hope is somewhere very near. We need to pull back our country from this dark hole with the strength of our people.