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Burmese Relief Center--Japan
DATE:May 17, 1995
TIME: 9:34PM JST
We would like to propose better communication and
cooperation from all groups working for Burmese democracy.
It seems that the forces of evil and oppression are growing ever
stronger, abetted by the indifference of some and the
connivance of others, and financed by the greed of many more.
A number of dates for activities have been suggested. Let's
take advantage of them and use them to put pressure on the
SLORC and its minions.
The first occasion is the fifth anniversary of the May 27, 1990,
elections. We will be having a Burmese Benefit Dinner in
Kyoto on the 28th. The Burma Youth Volunteer Association
in Tokyo will both be cooperating with us and holding their
own event in Tokyo as well. We recently learned that in Los
Angeles Rainforest Action Network and International Network
for Burma Relief, along with other activist groups, are
planning a demonstration against the Japanese Foreign
Ministry's March 27th decision to resume ODA to SLORC.
That's terrific! We'd like to stress that the Japanese are more
receptive to outside pressure than they are to protests at home,
so we expect that the LA demonstration will get attention in
papers here. If you can include Japan in your actions, please
let us know, and we'll join you in trying to get press attention
from wire services and local press.
After the anniversary of the elections comes June 19th, Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi's 50th birthday, an important date both to
commemorate and to use as an opportunity to press for her
release. Demonstrations may not have much visible impact on
SLORC, but DASSK's birthday and subsequent key dates are
important opportunities to vividly remind those governments
and businesses consorting with SLORC that the highly touted
dialogues have amounted to absolutely nothing, and that
SLORC's belligerence towards the Karen and other ethnic
minorities has escalated, while the human rights situation
everywhere in the country is deteriorating.
According to SLORC's own "law", as explained by Prof.
Yokota himself, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi must be released by
July 11th. That makes the 11th another obvious day for
demonstrations, marches, vigils, dinners, concerts, or whatever
suits each group best. Supposing that nothing like
unconditional release happens then, we next have July 20th,
the anniversary of her house arrest.
In all of this we are in complete agreement with David
Arnott's proposals. Our point in writing this is to initiate a
discussion on ways and means of increasing our effectiveness.
All groups, from Australia to Norway, from India to the US,
from Japan to England, might well inform the rest of us by net
or fax of their plans in advance, mention what others are doing
in their press releases, and thus stress that coordinated
international actions are taking place. The bigger each event
seems, the likelier it is to get media coverage, and,
unfortunately but true, if it doesn't get covered, it might as
well not have happened.
Those are some suggestions. What else might be done? Don't
we need some innovate, dramatic activities? Some new ideas,
new attention getters? Anyone reading the net regularly is
painfully aware of the horrors SLORC is inflicting on the
peoples of Burma, but how to convey that to others? To
Japanese legislators who are just panting to resume the
Rangoon airport project and ODA on a grand scale? To Mr.
Imle, President of UNOCAL? To Mr. Oawa of Nippon Oil?
To M Serge Tchuruk, CEO of TOTAL. Petitions? Street
theater? A hit song for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?
In addition to attention getting, however, we'd like to appeal to
groups concerned about Burma to extend their involvement
beyond political pressure to making some material
contribution to help keep the refugees and the Burmese
students alive. Those who have given the most, suffered the
most, and continue to be the most vulnerable have never
needed support more than they need it now. Never have
Burmese refugees been more at risk, Karen, Mon, Tavoyan,
Burman, Shan, Arakanese. All face hunger and disease like
never before. The Burmese students who carried the flame of
democracy to the border in 1988 and have kept the flicker
alive since, despite incredible odds, are dependent on our good
will and support so they can continue their work for a free and
democratic Burma. The doctors of the Burma Medical
Association and ABSDF work 365 days a year without
salaries, but they cannot work without medicine. All of their
supplies must be donated, and there are always shortages. If
you and your group would like more information about how to
help materially, contact us privately and we'll be happy to
suggest ways and means.
Let's make the net and our marvelously enhanced
communication work more effectively to stop SLORC and
bring democracy to Burma.
Looking forward to hearing from you.