APPPB Update December 8, 2007

Burma Solidarity Actions on Int'l HR Day  

Dear Friends,

The world has started to celebrate this year’s International Human Rights Day – December 10. Yet, for the people inside Burma, to join the rest of the world to celebrate this day seems still far to realize. Democracy and human rights activists and Buddhist monks from September protests are still being searched, arrested, detained, and tortured in prisons, or still on the run and in hiding. As you will recall, Aung Zaw Oo, a member of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, was arrested on Nov 26 in Rangoon, as he was planning for the celebration of International Human Rights Day.  We have no doubt that Aung Zaw Oo, the '88 Generation Student leaders and other activists who are in detention will still try to celebrate this very special day in their own way in prisons at the very moment of their basic rights being violated and deprived.

Since September, a number of monasteries in cities like Rangoon and Mandalay have been empty. Monks from the rural countryside have been banned from entering Rangoon unless they can show recommendations at train and bus terminals for medical treatment from the hospitals or doctors, the name of the monastery where they intend to stay, and also credentials from the monks of the monastery where they want to put up. If the recommendations are incomplete, they are not allowed to enter the city and they are sent back in the bus they came. A local news group, IMNA, reported last month that about 50 Monks from Arakan State were turned back after the authorities checked their recommendations at Rangoon station.

Meanwhile, more than half a million ethnic minority population continue to live in hiding and running away from the Burma army in remote areas of Karen, Karenni and Shan States, with lack of basic needs and fear for life, and an estimated 150,000 people are living in refugee camps while another estimated two million Burmese continue to struggle for their survival as undocumented migrant workers in countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia under harsh conditions with lack of security and protection.Free Burma Rangers reported that in the last three weeks, the Burma Army has killed three people and forced hundreds more into hiding in separate attacks across northeastern Karen State.

    * Nyaunglebin District, Kyauk Kyi Township: On 15 November, 2007, Saw Ler Gay, 28, was shot and killed near his village. Hundreds of people from morethan 12 villages fled these attacks into the jungle
    * Papun District: On 18 November, 2007, Burma Army troops shot and killed Saw Bo Wah, an 18-year old villager from Ta Baw Ko Der.
    * Nyaunglebin District, Mon Township: On 1 December, 2007, Burma Army troops shot dead Saw Blu Nay Moo, 23 years old, after burning down a farm hut belonging to his father.

As the people of Burma continue to face extremely difficult situation under the military regime, their fellow Burmese and friends of Burma around the world are organizing various actions in their respective countries, in order to help raise the voice of the people under the military boot while celebrating International Human Rights Day.
 
A number of activities have been organized by local Burmese and human rights groups in a number of countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, India, Australia, Europe, and US.

Below please find the update from the secretariat.
 
In Solidarity,
 
APPPB Secretariat
Email: appartnership@ gmail.com
Blog: http://apppb. blogspot. com


 
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I. Solidarity Actions around the World:
 
1) International Human Rights Day Actions (Dec 9 – 10):
 
i)  Hong Kong (Dec 9):
Today on Sunday, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations in Hong Kong will celebrate this year’s Human Right's day by highlighting the situation of Burma and situation of women activists. Contact: Milabel Amar, Director of AI-HK, at mamar@amnesty. org.hk.
 
ii) Singapore (Dec 9): Overseas Burmese Patriots will hold arts exhibition and literature competition today from 11 am to 7 pm at YMCA, International House to celebrate the International Human Rights Day and invites all Burmese to display their work and join the celebration. Contact: obp@overseasburmese patriots. org.
 
iii) Thailand (Dec 10): A rally has been organized in front of the UN building in Bangkok by local human rights and solidarity groups in Bangkok. A joint letter will be delivered to the UN as the day coincides with the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Thailand.
 
iv) Japan (Dec 9-10):
Joint Action Committee of 29 Burmese organizations, Amnesty International- Japan, and People’s Forum on Burma (Japanese NGO), Human Rights Now (Japanese NGO), MIGRANTE-JAPAN (Philippines' NGO) will have a marching today on December 9 (Sun) at 1 pm, in Tokyo. Japanese, Burmese and friends from ASEAN countries and others living in Japan will join the marching not only for “Human Rights and Freedom for Burma” but also "Human Rights and Freedom for ASEAN". A signature collection calling on releasing political prisoners, protecting Burma’s Women's right and stopping the violence against women in Burma during the rally is being organized by Burmese Women’s Union/Women’s League of Burma.

Tomorrow on Dec 10, JAC will have a gathering/ protest in front of the Embassy of
Burma in Tokyo from 3 PM, and after that "a candle action" at the same place to celebrate the day Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received Nobel Prize for Peace. Contacts: Sayaka Miyazawa at +81-90-9340- 4121 or Arata Kumazawa at +81-90-7182- 5594.
 
v) India (Dec 10):
Human Rights Education Institution of Burma (HREIB) and Women’s League of Chinland (WLC) will organize International Human Rights day and Campaign on Release of Women political prisoners. WLC will also issue a statement today on Dec 9. A public gathering will be held at Engineering Club, Aizawl, Mizoram. The program includes a debate on "Is human rights more important than economic development? ," drawing competition for children from Burma (5-12 years),  adult singing competition on human rights songs, and a short prayer for women political prisoners in Burma. A few hundreds people are expected to come is, we will have. For information, contact womenleagueofchinla nd@yahoo. co.in.
 
vi) Thailand (Dec 10):
Thai human rights NGOs, Women’s League of Burma and Burmese people will hold a rally in front of the UN building in Bangkok at 1 pm and deliver a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who will be in Thailand.
 
vii) Australia (Dec 10): Australia Campaign for Burma is organizing some activities that might include candlelight vigil in the evening of Monday or alternatively releasing saffron coloured balloons in some cities like Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney.
 
viii) US (Dec 9): International Burmese Monk Organization, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Burmese American Democratic Alliance, and Burmese American Women's Alliance organized a rally in San Francisco to mark the International Human Rights Day and to appeal to the UN and the international community to take swift and effective measures to stop the killings and establish the democracy and rule of law in Burma. Contact: 707-360-8452; 510 673 4452; 510 220 1323; 415 672 9095; www.badasf.org; www.bpf.org
 
2) Action Alert to Protest Miss Universe Visit (Dec 7): The Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB) called for an action alert to prevent Natalie Glebova, Miss Canada/Universe 2005 from visiting Burma on December 17, 2007 where she is reported to be acting as a jury for a Burmese beauty contest called “Ancient Beauty.”
You can express your disapproval of her trip to the office of Miss Universe Canada by calling at (647) 476-3681 or emailing info@beautiesofcana da.com
 
3) Buddhist Monks Honored (Dec 5; PR Newswire): The University of San Francisco will honor the Buddhist monks of Burma for their courage and nonviolent demonstrations against the tyrannical Burmese military regime, by awarding them with an honorary doctorate at commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 14. A representative of the monks, Ma Soe Yein Sayadaw U Kovida, a highly respected Buddhist monk living in exile in a New York monastery, will accept the degree on behalf of all the Burmese monks.
 
4) CHRE Report on Burma: The Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions has given its 2007 Housing Rights Violator Awards to Burma, China and Slovakia. The citation is given to governments or public institutions that systematically violate housing rights and fail to abide by international law.
 
The CHRE accuses the junta of ethnic cleansing of minority groups and social engineering through land confiscation and forced relocation of more than one million people since 1962. Network for Environment and Economic Development (NEED), Burma local organization based in exile, issued a statement welcoming the report.
 
5) Japanese MP Call for Support (Dec 4): A member of the Japan’s Upper House of Councilors, Ryuhei Kawada, released a video message on YouTube calling for people to join him in supporting freedom for Burma.  This call was released after the prominent Maggin monastery in Rangoon was closed down by the regime as Mr. Kawada, who is an HIV patient who became infected through tainted blood products, was shocked about the closure of Maggin monastery, which was housing HIV patients and said, “These patients depended on the monastery because the
military regime gave them no help.  I find it appalling that the regime
would deprive these people of the monastery's support and make them suffer
more."
 
II. SPDC’s Response:
 
Now it has become apparent that the Burmese junta is not serious about initiating talks for genuine transition as on Dec 3 its Information Minister said clearly that its hand-picked 54-member constitutional drafting committee has started the work and does not need outside help. He also added that the opposition groups including National League for Democracy party will be allowed to vote during the referendum and nominate candidates in the ensuing election.
 
The US and the UN condemn SPDC for excluding Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from democracy talk and led calls for the regime to start talks with her and the opposition.
 
“Senior General Than Shwe and his regime has no intention to begin a genuine, inclusive dialogue necessary for a democratic transition with these parties as called for by the international community,'' the State Department said in a statement issued in Washington, DC on Dec 4.
 
In recent days SPDC freed more than 8,500 prisoners, including at least 10 political detainees. National Police Chief told a news conference on Dec 3 that 2,927 people, including 596 monks, were arrested in the crackdown on the September protests and 80 people, including 21 monks, remained in detention pending further investigations. Unspecified "legal action" would be taken against those found guilty.
International Responses:
 
III. International Response:
 
1) HR Special Rapporteur report (Dec 11):
A day after HR Day on Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Prof. Pinheiro will present his findings from his visit to Burma in early November to the UN Human Right Council in Geneva. Meanwhile, members and networks of Solidarity for Asian People Advocacy (SAPA) are preparing a joint statement to present during the convening of the Council as Prof. Pinheiro reports.

2) US Condemns Burma’s Use of Child Soldiers (Dec 6): Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, Acting U.S. Representative to the UN ECOSOC released a press statement at the 11th Meeting of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in New York, expressing its deep concern about the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers in Burma who are as young as 12 years old by the military regime as well as certain non-state actors and calling to end immediately all unlawful child recruitment and their use in the armed forces and in armed groups. The US also urged the regime and the non-state actors to assist in reuniting former child soldiers with their families and called on the junta to provide to the UN Country Team free and confidential access to relevant people and areas, which include timely freedom to travel for the purpose of verifying information without the presence of regime officials.
3) Comments by Expelled UN Diplomat (Dec 6):  The junta may face another "explosive" situation if they ignore the deepening domestic economic crisis which triggered mass protests against the junta in August and September, top UN resident diplomat Charles Petrie who was kicked out for highlighting the former Burma's economic woes. He told Reuters that there is this growing impoverishment and growing inability of people to meet their daily needs which this has the potential to be explosive and that he fears that the generals could use violence again to clamp down on public anger.
 
4) UN Envoy Next Visit (Dec 4): UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari plans to take his third visit to Burma in 2007 either this month or in early 2008 to pursue his mission to bring democratic reform, the UNSC president of the 15-nation council for December, Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora said on Dec 4.
 
5) Cambodia Opposes Sanctions (Dec 5): Cambodia’s prime minister at a development meeting in Phnom Penh expressed his opposition to economic sanctions against Burma, saying these measure would not force the junta to make reforms. Dr. Sean Turnell of Macquarie University of Australia told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific program that specific financial sanctions could be more effective than broad brush economic sanctions and that targeting the bank accounts of Burma’s elite could be an option.
 
6) UN Arms Embargo Called (Dec 6): New York based Human Rights Watch called for the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Burma over the military regime's recruitment of child soldiers, saying Burma's army has recruited thousands of children to fill its ranks that the Security Council needs to show Burma's generals they can't get away with such horrendous practices. More than three in ten recruits in some areas were found to be children under eighteen years old, according to the HRW.
 
7) Human Rights Watch Report (Dec 7): HRW said in its recently released report that many more people were killed and detained in the violent crackdown on monks and other peaceful protestors in September 2007 than the regime has admitted. The 140-page report, “Crackdown: Repression of the 2007 Popular Protests in Burma,” is based on more than 100 interviews with eyewitnesses in Burma and Thailand. It is the most complete account of the August and September events to date, as it documented the killing of 20 people in Rangoon, but HRW believes that the death toll was much higher, and that hundreds remain in detention. Information on killings and detentions from other cities and towns where demonstrations took place are still unavailable. FYI, the report, “Crackdown: Repression of the 2007 Popular Protests in Burma,” can be downloaded: http://hrw.org/ reports/2007/ burma1207/
 
To view a web feature with exclusive new footage Human Rights Watch obtained in Burma, including satellite maps, photos and audio commentary, visit:
http://hrw.org/ campaigns/ burma/crackdown/
http://hrw.org/ audio/2007/ english/burma12/ burma17494. htm