Monday, August 4, 2008

20th anniversary of the 8-8-88 uprising in Burma

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Advocacy group appeals for common stance on Burma

Chiang Mai - A leading regional advocacy group for human rights and democracy in Burma, says that a unified international position vis-à-vis the generals in Naypyitaw is essential if fundamental change is to come to the country.

Issued in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 8-8-88 uprising in Burma, ALTSEAN Burma (Alternative ASEAN network on Burma) asserts that: "Twenty years after the 8888 national uprising, the international community must realize that unconditional engagement, discreet diplomacy, and ASEAN's so-called constructive engagement has failed."

The organization views the ultimate failure of the current U.S.-led sanctions approach as a result of the steadfastness of several countries – including many of Burma's neighbors and regional trading partners – to join in a common international position.

"The international community must adopt a common position to ensure that Burma's military regime delivers genuine reforms within a clearly-stated timeframe," reads the opinion of ALTSEAN released today. "Countries of ASEAN, South and East Asia, in particular China and India, have the main responsibility to ensure there is genuine change in Burma."

While calling for the release of all political prisoners, ultimately ALTSEAN sees the necessity of a tripartite dialogue between the junta, National League for Democracy and ethnic leadership.

"The common position must guarantee an inclusive process that allows key stakeholders such as the National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic nationality leadership to work freely as legitimate partners with the military regime," avows the rights group.

ALTSEAN argues that regional leadership in addressing Burma's ongoing crisis is of paramount interest to local actors, as they stand the most to lose from a grossly mismanaged country in their midst.

In the absence of a singular stance taken up by external voices and actors, ALTSEAN paints a grim picture of continued daily life in Burma, citing a figure of 90 percent of the population existing on less than one dollar a day.

Further, from July 2007 to June 2008, the organization references an over 65 percent increase in the number of political prisoners inside the country, now placed at 1,900.

Over the course of the two decades since the 1988 uprising, ALTSEAN eludes to the growth of a diverse community in opposition to the regime's continued unilateral and military rule. This opposition bloc is said to include "ethnic nationalities, interest groups and political factions." Now, it is deemed time for state actors to reflect Burma's growing organizational consortium in opposition to the junta's policies, and maintain a singular voice in confronting Burma's generals.

"The international community must publicly support the solutions proposed by Burma's democracy movement that focus on a transitional power-sharing formula," prospers ALTSEAN, "and encourage the Burmese junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), to be part of the solution."

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