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Letter to Thai Consulate in Boston

Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX)
25 West Street
Boston, MA 02111

January 24, 1996 

Honorable Vernon R. Alden
Consul General 
Thailand Consulate 
420 Boylston Street 
Boston, MA 02116

Dear Mr. Alden, 

We are writing on behalf of the 4,000 members and supporters of
Citizens for Participation in Political Action (CPPAX).  CPPAX is
a progressive multi-issue action organization based in
Massachusetts and an active participant in the Massachusetts
Campaign for a Free Burma.  We are writing to express our concern
about Burmese citizens who are taking refuge in your country.   

Although Thailand, Burma's neighbor, is sought as a safe haven
for those escaping the tyranny of the Burmese military junta
(State Law Order and Restoration Council - SLORC), there are many
Burmese dissidents being held in Thai immigration detention
centers and jails.  There has been an ongoing problem of Thai
authorities unjustly arresting Burmese, but recent increases
have prompted us to take action.   

In November, 1995 the Burmese ruling junta began holding their
so-called  "national constitutional convention."  SLORC
completely disregarded the concerns of the people as represented
by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy
(NLD), who won over 80% of the legislative seats in 1990.  Aung
San Suu Kyi and the NLD boycotted the convention in protest of
SLORC's intimidation tactics.  In response, SLORC threatened to
"annihilate" anyone attempting to disrupt the state.  

At the same time, Thailand was acting in cooperation with SLORC
by taking action against Burmese pro-democracy activists who had
been working non-violently for peace, democracy and human rights.

Also, U Ye Gyaung, 75 and his wife, Daw Khin Hlaing were arrested
when Thai police raided the offices of the New Era Journal.  The
New Era Journal is a publication that offers uncensored
alternative news and opinion to many Burmese people who in
their own country would not have access to a free-press.  On
November 28th and 29th, 1995 in Bangkok, asylum seekers were
rounded up and sent to detention centers, including Burmese
students who were planning to begin a hunger strike to protest
the Burmese military's constitutional convention. This should be
a particular embarrassment to the Thai government as some
were arrested at UNHCR offices in Bangkok.  As Americans who
possess the same values as these activists, we petition Thailand
to permit them to continue their cause free from intimidation.

To date, many remain behind bars in Thai jails, including
students whose only crimes were to organize for basic human
rights.  We are very concerned about the health and welfare of
these individuals, many of whom were arrested and jailed without
trial.  Many have not been allowed visitors and their conditions
are questionable.  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pointed out herself
that Thailand's treatment of honorable peaceful Burmese patriots
is harsh and unfair.

We would also like to express our concern about the thousands of
Burmese who are living in camps along the Thai-Burma border.  The
Thai government should not delay in recognizing them as
"refugees."  They should be made accessible for aid by
international NGO organizations and the UNHCR.  Also, because the
people live in constant fear of SLORC-backed assaults, Thai
Authorities should honestly begin protecting them.   

Lastly, we are urging the Thai government to end the political
and economic alignments with SLORC and begin supporting Aung San
Suu Kyi and the legitimate government in exile, specifically by
urging the military junta to transfer power over to them.  Also,
Thailand should petition the military junta into making drastic
and immediate improvements in their treatment of ethnic
minorities, students and other Burmese citizens who would later
seek refuge in Thailand. Their human rights record includes
torture, summary and arbitrary executions, displacement, rape,
forced labor and the violation of basic human rights, including
political freedom. 

In summary, Thailand should cease its blatant support for the
SLORC through oppression of Burmese people who enter into
Thailand.  We hope that Thailand intends to acquire the
reputation as a country that upholds basic human rights. 

Please voice our concerns to the government of Thailand.  Thank
you for your kind attention.  We respectfully request a reply to
this appeal and would appreciate meeting with you to discuss the
important issues raised in this letter. 


Stephen Y. Stephano                     Julia H. Carpenter 
Executive Director                      Issues Organizer 

cc:  President Clinton
     Senator John F. Kerry 
     Senator Edward M. Kennedy 
     Warren Christopher, Secretary of State
     Governor William F. Weld of Massachusetts