International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Monday, May 22, 2017

We did it!

Dear friend

We did it! Team BCUK all finished the 10K run in Regent's Park on Saturday. It was tough going, but definitely worth it. Thanks to everyone who so generously donated, we've been able to raise vital funds for our campaign for human rights in Burma.

Your support helps ensure we can continue to campaign to end attacks by the Burmese Army, to work with grassroots activists in Burma, and to continue our support for the victims of human rights abuses and for those fighting for change.  

Team BCUK
Team BCUK at the finish line - Anna Roberts, Karin Valtersson and Doug Janke

If you didn't get round to it, it's not too late to donate!
https://my.give.net/humanrightsforburma

Many thanks again to everyone who donated.

Anna
Burma Campaign UK
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Fighting Malaria in Myanmar


Myanmar has made great impact against malaria, but the mission is not complete. A committed, on-the-ground partnership is working to lift the burden imposed by the mosquito-borne parasite.
https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/portfolio/country/?loc=MMR&k=b3d59122-9d71-4df9-ae0e-9e4b1b315de8

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tomorrow is the dreaded day

Dear friend
 
Tomorrow is our 10K run in Regent's Park!

When we all agreed to do the run, it seemed so far away, with so much time to prepare for it - now it's tomorrow. I haven't done half the training I planned, but there's no escape now. And of course, the funds we are raising all go to help our campaign for human rights in Burma.

I started working on human rights in Burma in 2010 and regularly travelled to the Thai-Burma border to meet with groups involved in the struggle for a free Burma. At that time there were over 140,000 refugees in Thailand who had fled attacks by the Burmese Army.

Today, there are still attacks on civilians by the Burmese Army, families are still forced to flee and the Burmese army is blocking the reform needed to allow them to return home.

Thanks to the generosity of everyone who has sponsored us so far, we are half way to our fundraising target – will you help us reach our target by race day?
Team BCUK
Team BCUK - Karin Valtersson, Anna Roberts and Doug Janke
We need your help to raise awareness to ensure their plight is not forgotten, to campaign to end the attacks and to work with grassroots activists in Burma to help them campaign for peace and human rights. 

Please sponsor us here
 
If you prefer, you can donate via Paypal here.

If every Burma Campaign UK supporter could donate just a few pounds, it would make a real difference.

Every penny will help our campaign to end human rights abuses in Burma.

Thanks so much.

Karin
Burma Campaign UK

Ps. If you prefer, you can make a donation by cheque, payable to 'Burma Campaign UK', and send it to: 10K Run, Burma Campaign UK, 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT


 
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

FBR: A Step Ahead: Learning to Be Vigilant in Love


A Step Ahead: Learning to Be Vigilant in Love

18 May 2017

By: Karen Eubank

The weathered hands of an opium farmer hold a bracelet with colored beads representing the Christian story of forgiveness and hope, given to her during a Good Life Program for women and children organized during a relief mission to northern Shan State, Burma. (February 2015)
The weathered hands of an opium farmer hold a bracelet with colored beads representing the Christian story of forgiveness and hope, given to her during a Good Life Program for women and children organized during a relief mission to northern Shan State, Burma. (February 2015)

On January 29th, in Al Rashidia, northeast Mosul, Iraq, our team gave a Good Life Club children's program to about 300 local children living in a community liberated by ISIS only the week before. We were there with the Iraqi Army and together we celebrated with the families in the neighborhood the new freedom of mind, body, and spirit that they could begin to experience after two years of heavy oppression under ISIS. Yet, this area is still in ISIS mortar and drone range, and the day after sharing about our love for them and the love of God that was deep and wide, a mortar struck a group of children less than a kilometer from where we had held our program, injuring five and killing six, and one adult. We had left our program cheered by a joyous, fun-filled morning with these resilient children; loading wounded and lifeless bodies into our ambulance the next day was a heavy contrast indeed.

But not unusual.

In Karen State, Burma, sometimes it has seemed that we are just a step ahead with the Burma Army right behind us, as we heard of children we had just seen now hiding in the jungle. In Sudan, we shared precious hours with children who were repeatedly bombed by the SAF dictatorship while we were there, and after we left.  In November last year, in southeast Mosul, we hadn't quite finished our program before mortars were landing near the school where we were meeting and we left together with the children.

Experiences of conflict following a GLC program remind me of the moment I felt God direct me to the core of our mission – through a news program I watched in a hotel room. It was 2003 and I watched a report of a school shooting in Chechnya. In a profound and unexpected way, that event brought distilling questions to mind: What was the last thing those children had been taught before the attack?  What was the last thing their parents said to them that morning? I knew in that moment that in the broad scope of subjects on which to 'educate' children, the most important message was about God's love and the saving hope of Jesus.  I would never know how much time a child would have after we met, or how much time I would have, for that matter; therefore, the most essential message to give would be the Gospel.

Children with their new Good Life Club (GLC) shirts at a GLC program in Kachin State, Burma. (2013)
Children with their new Good Life Club (GLC) shirts at a GLC program in Kachin State, Burma. (2013)

And yet, even with this knowledge and faith, after the fun and games end it is hard not to be rocked when the reality of the war zones we work in hits. In Kachin State in 2013, we returned to a school we had been to the year before, that had been recently attacked and ransacked by the Burma Army. Children's clothes and personal possessions were scattered in their torn-apart dormitories. We found the bead bracelets we had given them tossed with everything else on the floor. I was sick at heart and asked God, "Where is your gospel now? How could this happen after all I told them about your love and care for them?"

And I soon felt an answer, an affirmation: "You got there first, before the attack. The message was there ahead to strengthen them for whatever the future would hold. Keep a step ahead. Be vigilant to get my love out there before whatever may follow."

After hearing about the deaths of so many children in Al Rashidia a day after we had met them, I hoped and prayed that those children had been at our program, and understood that there is a God deeper and wider than the destruction man can cause. While I was deeply saddened, I was just as deeply grateful that we had been there first to let them know that God can control their soul's destiny despite any act of man in their lives. With reason, we are called to be vigilant in our message, and of necessity we must have hope in the truth of God's promise to reveal Himself in the lives of these, his children, on earth or in heaven.

Karen Eubank teaches children the song "Deep and Wide" during a Good Life Club program for villagers in northern Shan State, Burma.
Karen Eubank teaches children the song “Deep and Wide” during a Good Life Club program for villagers in northern Shan State, Burma.

 

An Iraqi girl shows off her new GLC bracelet about Jesus' love in newly liberated eastern Mosul.
An Iraqi girl shows off her new GLC bracelet about Jesus' love in newly liberated eastern Mosul.

Love one another
Unite for freedom, justice and peace
Forgive and do not hate each other
Pray with faith, Act with courage
Never surrender

The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.

For more information, please visit www.freeburmarangers.org

© 2017 Free Burma Rangers | Contact FBR

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Weekly Highlights: Contentious Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Continues to Divide

    

Contentious Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Continues to Divide

Villagers who fled conscription at a monastery in Na Hi Village, Shan State. Photo credit: PHWC/ The Irrawaddy

 

 

 

As the second session of the 21st Century Panglong Conference approaches, Myanmar's[1] ongoing peace process remains at a crossroads as continued Government and military pressure to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) is exacerbating differences between ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). Reports that the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Wa National Organization (WNO) to tender their resignation from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a previously 11-member coalition of EAOs that has yet to sign the NCA, has placed doubt on the future of the UNFC as a viable bloc for political negotiation and lays bare the different approaches to the Government-led, exclusionary, NCA process. It is clear that as the Myanmar's Army continues military offensives in ethnic areas, the NCA is divisive, undermining ethnic unity and the hopes for a federal democratic Myanmar.

 

The move by the KIO and WNO to leave the UNFC signifies a possible disintegration of the UNFC. The KIO and WNO both submitted separate letters of resignation and it looks likely that the KIO will join the United Wa State Army (UWSA)-led EAO grouping in the north of Myanmar. Following recent summits of EAOs in Wa-controlled Panghsang, the political influence of the UWSA over groups hesitant to sign the NCA has risen. The UWSA instituted the 'Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee' (UPNDC) as a counter-strategy to the NCA process, and has the support of seven other non-signatory EAOs based in northern Myanmar and along the China-Myanmar border.

 

Differences over the approach to the NCA are thus being brought to the fore and are providing a major hurdle to a broad, pan-ethnic alliance that can effectively negotiate a sustainable peace. The groups that are part of the UPNDC – mainly northern EAOs that are experiencing the brunt of the Myanmar Amy's offensives – reject the process that is centered around the NCA, claiming that it has brought no tangible progress and remain skeptical of how it will help to achieve their long term political aspirations for ethnic equality. Meanwhile, the New Mon State Party announced that it will sign the NCA, and it is possible that other UNFC members such as the Karenni National Progressive Party will follow. The immediate consequences of not signing the NCA will also play out at the next session of the 21st Century Panglong Conference on 24 May, 2017. While all EAOs have been invited, only those that sign a 'deed of commitment' to sign the NCA at a later date will be allowed to actively participate and others would be reduced to roles as 'special guests.'  

 

The differences around the NCA are ultimately damaging to the unity of EAOs and is a continuation of a decades-long tactic by Myanmar Army strategists that attempts to divide alliances by negotiating with them separately. The "divide and rule" tactic is used as a tool to create divisions between EAOs, as the Vice Chairman of the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) Brig-Gen Tarr Jode Jarr points out, "The military has always met ethnic groups separately in order to prevent them from uniting. It is their tactic."

Despite the contentions around the NCA, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD (National League for Democracy)-led Government have continued to urge the EAOs to forfeit arms, cease fighting and sign the NCA. More importantly, there has been a notable increase in armed conflict, especially in northern Shan and Kachin States, resulting in non-signatories that form the UPNDC continuing to distance themselves from the NCA process.

 

As negotiations continue, the peace process in Myanmar remains stalled. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should be encouraging her Government and the Myanmar Army to facilitate a full, meaningful and inclusive peace dialogue that initiates a process to change the institutional and governance structures of the country. The success of the peace process is inextricably linked to the amendment of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, a document that institutionalizes grievances of ethnic nationalities and entrenches military power. Yet the Myanmar Army remains intransigent to even discussing amendments. Despite the announcement that seven ethnic states can draft their own constitutions, the important caveat that the 2008 Constitution takes precedent renders such a move insignificant regarding ethnic nationalities' aspirations.

 

By sowing divide regarding the NCA, a sustainable peace settlement becomes more and more difficult to achieve yet focus should shift away from this divisive accord. The Myanmar Government, as well as financial backers of the peace process in the international community, must do more to recognize the goals and aspirations of ethnic nationalities and commit to comprehensive political, institutional and legal reforms that guarantee a federal system of governance that reduces the power of the Myanmar Army and guarantees ethnic equality and self-determination.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term 'Myanmar' in acknowledgment that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of 'Myanmar' rather than 'Burma' without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten.

 

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES

 

Burma: Two Islamic Schools Shuttered in Rangoon

By Human Rights Watch

 

 

REPORTS

 

The People's Republic of China and Burma: Not Only Pauk -Phaw

By Bertil Lintner, Project 2049 Institute 

About Progressive Voice

 

Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 the same day that Progressive Voice was formally established. For further information, please see our press release "Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice."

     


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As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,
"Justice is a dream. But it is a dream we are determined to realize."