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Indiana University Alumni's Decisio

Subject: Indiana University Alumni's Decision. 

The following article appeared in the Herald Times on Sat., Dec. 2, 1995.

IU association refuses request by human rights activists to withdraw its 
sponsorship of upcoming tour

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
H-T Staff Writer

Indiana University alumni traveling to Burma in January will do so under
IU colors.

The IU Alumni Association has refused a request by human rights activists
to withdraw sponsorship of the trip.

The activists, including an IU student from Burma who fled his country's
bloody military crackdown in 1988, had asked IU to withdraw its
sponsorship on humanitarian grounds.
The association's seven-member board of managers voted unanimously in
favor of continuing the sponsorship.
The purposes of the alumni tours are educational, not political, said
Jerry F. Tardy, executive director of the Alumni Association.
"Our Alumni can choose from a wide array of Travel offerings and visiting
a country does not mean endorsing the policies of its government," he said
in a news release Friday.
Tardy said that IU was one of the first universities to sponsor a ttrip to
China when travel restrictions were lifted in the late 1970s.
"The university is about communicating and exchanging ideas," the news
release said.  "We know form experience that alumni who have visited a
country are bettre informed, ask more questions and help contribute to the
free flow of ideas that is essential both to democracy and the educational
To date, 25 IU alumni have made reservations on the 18-day tour which
includes visits to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong.  Visitors
will spend less than 24 hours in Burma.
Arranged through Intrav travel in St. Louis, the trip costs $6,000 to
$8,000 a person.
Kenneth Beckley, president of the 60,000-member Alumni Association, said
sponsorship underscores the educational nature of the trip.
"We are very sympathetic to the concerns voiced by the representatives of
the Free Burma movement," Beckley said.
The lecturer on the Burma part of the trip is an international management
consultant who has worked in Southeast Asia for the State Department and
the United Nations, Beckley said.  That consultant will inform travelers
of the political situation in Burma.
Long a military dictatorship, Burma-or Myanmar, as the military has
renamed it- launched a brutal crackdown on dissidents in 1988.  It is
estimated that more than 3,000 people died in those attacks in Rangoon,
the capital.
The military government, known as the State Law and Order Restoration
Council or SLORC, has declared 1996 "Visit Myanmar Year."
The U.S. State Department's 1994 report on human rights practices in Burma
said that despite "an appearance of greater normalcy fostered by increased
economic activity, in fact the Government's unacceptable record on human
rights changed little in 1994."
Human rights activists are especially concerned about the use of forced
labor on several projects in Burma.
Under pressure from California based Burmese activists, the UCLA Alumni
Association withdrew sponsorship from the same alumni tour.
Northwestern also withdrew sponsorship of a similar trip to Burma.
Tun Myint, 25, had just finished high school in 1988 when the crackdown
occured.  He arrived at IU in 1993 after living in the jungle in the
Burma-Thailand border.
A member of the Free Burma movement, Myint, now an IU junior, had asked
that IU withdraw sponsorship of the trip.
Myint could not be reached for comment Friday.  Free Burma activist Marcy
Wenzler, who along with Myint met with Tardy last month, said she hopes IU
will deliver on its promise to provide educational materials about Burma
to alumni on the trip.
Wenzler also said she disagreed with Tardy's China analogy.  Then, the
information coming out of China masked the human rights calamity of the
Cultural Revolution.  By contrast, accurate and ugly information is
available about Burma today, she said.
"The educational component of the trip, yes, is important," she said. 
"But it cannot be one-sided and SLORC cannot be the only source.  That
would be a disservice to alumni, and would give them a mistaken impression
of 'reforms' going on there." 

The following letter is from Tun Myint, the president of Burmese Student
Association, to fellow IU Students.  It appeared in the Indiana Daily 
Student on Dec. 6, 1995.

My Dear Fellow IU Students:

As the president of the Burmese Student Association at IU, I am writing 
this letter to ask your favor to rupport the International Free Burma 

Burma is under a most "brutally oppressive" regime called SLORC (State Law
and Order Restoration Council).  SLORC is one of the government in Asia
which is destroying human dignity and value of democracy by practicing
rapes, forced labor, tortures, and killing of its citizens at any time
they wish.  It is well-documented fact by United Nations, Amnesty
International, U.S State Department Report, Human Rights Watch (Asia),
BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other international 

Burmese students both inside Burma and out and International Free Burma
Activists are launching "International Free Burma Movement"  under the
spirit of students and Burmese people who have given their lives and blood
for restoration of democracy and basic rights in Burma. 

Now, the time has run out for SLORC. We have to stop its atrocities
against Burmese people who asked for change by voting National League for
Democracy (NLD) party in 1990 election.  NLD party is led by 1991 Nobel
Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other prominent opposition leaders in
Burma.  SLORC has refused to transfer the power to elected government and
has continued to arrest Burmese people whoever ask to transfer power to
elected government. 

Recently, IU Alumni has unanimously decided (Sat. Nov. 2, The Herald-Time
newspaper and WFIU radio) to support SLORC by participating in "1996 Visit
Myanmar Year" which is launched by SLORC to gain hard cash from tourists
to buy more weapons from Russia, Poland, Pakistan, and mainland China. 
This event caused me to write this message to all of my fellow IU Students
who will be the future alumni of Indiana University. UCLA and North
Western University Students have successfully stopped the same planned trip.
I would like to request your efforts to stop IU Alumni trip to Burma and
to cancel their official sponsorship of the trip, and let individual
travellers decide on the basis of their knowledge about Burma.  Your
student association or you personally could write letter to IU Alumni
asking to stop the official sponsorship of the trip. If you need more
information on this issue and on Burma, I will be very happy to help you. 

Your letter will definitely help to free Burmese people from oppression. 
Your efforts will empower the International Free Burma Movement.

Thank you for your valuable time at this final week of the semester.


Tun Myint

Burmese Student Association
Tel (812) 339-3888, Mail: 1217, E. 1st. St, Bloomington, IN47401

Please write your letter to:

Mr. Jerry Tardy
Director, IU Alumni
Suite 219
Fountain Square

You can also send email message to


Or Call at:

(812) 855-5700

PS. Please send copy to iuburma@xxxxxxxxxxx, if you don't mind.