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/* Written May 17 6:30am by uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on  igc:soc.culture.burma */
/* ------------" Request on U.S. Senators Adds. "----------- */

TO: Phil Robertson <reaproy@xxxxxxxx>


We also would like to write to the Senators in the U.S. Congress
who have interests in Burma affairs. Would you be able to send
some snail mail address and fax numbers of those senators to the
net. Your efforts are much appreciated. We simply would like the
more  Congress people becoming addicted to Burma. The only thing
we can dofrom here in Australia is to write to them  in  support
of their actions. With best regards, U Ne Oo.

I remember my perception about politicians in few years back. As
we were grown up in the era of military dictatorship, I've never
seen politicians before. Our general perception about what is
politics and how politicians works are therefore quite different
from actual reality. In few years back, I simply thought -as
most of Burmese usually do - the politicians are the people who
simply try to gain popularity and them make a living out of it.
People who are doing activity is simply considered as 'attention
seekers'. So we - Burmese people - normally look down on those
who doing activities and politics are merely to gain influence
on others, and that those do not have ability to do other things
so that they do politics. These views are most prevalent amongst
the Burmese especially prior to 1988 events. In Burmese ward,
the people who doing politics are considered "Yaung-Khyaut-Sei",
which literally means people with no sense of direction in their
life and of good ability: jack of all traces etc. etc..

My mind started to opened up about these politicians when I try to
do something about the others - people like Rohingyas. At a time I
have to lodged asylum form at the department of immigration(that
was in 1992). A prevailing sadness about myself, and starting to
think about those who are living in much more precarious
circumstances (myself  also in a true desperation - of course).
At the time I met Sr. Patricia Pak-Poy who recently came back
from Thailand-JRS where she worked with Burmese student refugees
and she was preparing to form a Burma support group in Adelaide.
Meeting with such a humanitarian person like her must have me
changed completely. I simply felt so much enlightened about the
fact that people who are in desperation need helps - how little
may the help be, it certainly meant great help. As a refugee, my
view on other people are even more polarized ( even critical
that who smile to you or do not smiling!!). I was simply
compelled to work for refugees, which my campaign for human
rights begun.

As I begin to contact those people in the political circle, I
started to realize that there is something different in those
people. In a positive light, not all of those politicians are
doing simply to gain popularity or only interested of keeping
their jobs. It is of my experiences that these politicians do
certain things, which they will receive no publicity. It is a
bit like this: if you consider yourself a "little activist",
these politicians can be considered to be "monster activists".
They are only bigger in shape and also have the power. One of
the most remarkable feature of any politician is their openness
of views to the other people. To them,"who you are" is much less
important, but "what's your view" is more important.

One of the fact is that these politicians are human beings too.
They do not know everything by themselves. It would appear that
many things they have done, but not so sure it is correct. That
is why we need to write to them - and commend their actions if
necessary. It doesn't always have to be writing to politicians
only when you have a different view. When you are in the same
view with them you needed to strengthen their's.

Of course, some people - especially Burmese - are shy to support
or to contact famous people. Some even afraid that they might be
seen as 'snobs' or simply 'attention seekers' to be writing to
those people in the high positions. But those people do know
when you really opened your mind and views to them and do
appreciate when you support them.

When writing to the U.N. or governments, it is not always
have to be the highest ranking office. For example, in the U.S.
State Department, relatively junior officers can have a lot of
power and he/she will more likely to have time to read - and
understand fully of your views. Every democratic governments
have foreign policy circle which can consists of academics,
experts and research officers which together does have political
power - or the power to make decisions. These are key people who
you should make a contact to.

The best people to cantact, in my experience, is those from the U.N.
They are not like other politicians who have to be mindful of
domestic political issues. They are more professional, more
systematic in analysing your views. And above all, they can do
things without promoting publicity - most of the time they
don't. You will not always get a reply letter from them. But in
my experience, judging from their actions, my letters to U.N.
have never been ignored.

The communication within activist community is also very
important. There is of significant difference in attitude
between Burmese activists themselves and those foreigners
promoting for Burmese democracy. Burmese are quite reluctant to
put forward their views to others as they might be viewed as
overbearing upon the others. On the otherhand, shy about how
little they know to open their views - so the silence is great
wisdom (Seit-seit-nay-yin-tong-tan-dei). One thing to keep in
mind is that there will be no one person or organization which
can have absolute authority on the Burmese situation. In fact,
it is not important "how much do you know" in politics. It's only
important "what you know" in politics. By knowing your views, it
will help the policy makers in the U.N. and governments to
adjust their positions and actions regarding the movement.
Promoting publicity is only one important part of the movement.
However, one need to look at the movement as a process of
consolidating and implementing policies. The putting forwards of
press release, position statements and, sometime, analyses on
current situation by various groups and individuals will help to
consolidate the policy direction of the movement. These things
will simply tell to others also of where our movement is heading