April 26, 2000
Dear friend of a free and democratic Burma,
On behalf of the people of Burma, I would like to thank you for your willingness to play an active role in our international campaign for a free and democratic Burma.
This is a critical year for our movement. Since the theft of our democracy by the military regime ten years ago, we have been working extremely hard to generate support from the international community. The United Nations General Assembly, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the UN Human Rights Commission, the International Labor Organization, among other international institutions and democratic nations around the world, have condemned the brutal Burmese military and have expressed support for the democratically elected leadership of Burma. Economic pressure and political isolation have taken a toll on the military leadership. Their options continue to narrow.
While we greatly appreciate the support that the international community has been willing to demonstrate to date, much more needs to be done. According to Amnesty International, more than 1,000 political activists were sent to Burmese prisons last year alone. 55 MPs-elect were incarcerated as of March 2000. Five MPs have died while in detention. Conditions continue to deteriorate.
During this tenth anniversary year of democratic elections of Burma, it is very important to demonstrate even stronger and more visible international resolve and increase the pressure on the military regime. More than ever, the military leaders of Burma need to know that there is no alternative to entering negotiations toward a peaceful transition to democracy. To demonstrate this resolve, members of Parliaments from around the world are stepping forward to personally pledge their support for democracy in Burma and their solidarity with their democratically elected colleagues who have been denied their lawful right to take office.
We are very excited about this campaign and its potential impact. We would like to announce the launching of the campaign during May - the month when the last democratic elections were held in Burma ten years ago. Our first goal is to obtain as many signatures of elected MPs as possible before the actual launching of the campaign. The MPs who sign on by the time of this announcement will be considered founding members of the campaign. Then, we will continue to seek signatures throughout the summer months, culminating in a planned international summit of parliamentarians in October.
We need your help to make this campaign a success. Teams of supporters are being organized in countries around the world. Their mission is to identify, approach and secure the support of as many MPs in their country as possible before May 27, 2001.
There are many important benefits of this campaign:
First, it will demonstrate to the world, and the ruling military regime of Burma, that there is a solid - and growing - number of political leaders on every continent and from every political party that supports the movement for a free and democratic Burma.
Second, it will expose these political leaders to the people within their country who support a free and democratic Burma. This is important because it will demonstrate to them that people in their own country care about Burma and provide them with another reason why they should also.
Third, it will provide these political leaders with important information about Burma. You will be an important source of this information, not only at the point where you are asking for their support of the campaign, but afterward when important votes on Burma may be coming up in the Parliament. They will begin to know you and will therefore probably listen to you more readily when their future support is needed.
Fourth, it will provide the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma with a vital source of data and information. A strong and informed network of supportive parliamentarians could make an enormous difference when additional international support is needed for the movement, or when increased pressure needs to be leveraged on the military regime. We will seek to keep these parliamentarians informed and inspired so that their support is ongoing.
I am absolutely convinced that thousands of MPs stepping forward in support of their persecuted colleagues in Burma will not only make a difference in how these elected MPs and their fellow citizens are treated, but will take a significant step toward the goal of bringing our national nightmare to a close.
On behalf of the people of Burma who long for freedom, democracy and human rights, thank you for joining our cause. Your support of our MP Solidarity campaign can make an important difference.
(Dr. Sein Win)