Thursday, November 18, 2010

Burma Update

"Burma is at the center of a torrent of powerful economic forces, and at the same time its political system is frozen...decades of pursuing policies of isolation and sanctions by the U.S. have done little to influence change in Burma, so it’s time to do something different.” General Wesley Clark

Good Afternoon

It has been a whirlwind of activity since coming back to the States from our tour in Burma – we have been focused on not for profit status and filing with the government; assistance to other organizations conducting relief work and expanding the Life On Point Group – these activities alone have kept us hoping! Add into the daily routine continued preparations (already underway) to head back into Asia and rest assured that it has been non-stop every hour of every day!

I have several key appointments coming up over the course of the next several weeks that will have me focusing on health issues (“yes I still have them”) as well as my doctoral dissertation defense board (scheduled for December 3rd in Washington DC) as well as strategy sessions focused on support to the Karen people. ..Suffice to say December and January will be busy months. Add into the fray the yearly Task Force Hayes Ski Trip as well as several book signings and work on the follow-on manuscript and time will quickly become a precious commodity.

The Life On Point Group Update

Just a quick note on what has happened over the past 3 weeks since getting back. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) strongly condemned the Burmese military regime’s continued use of repressive and restrictive measures during the election process which ultimately ensured that the outcome of the general elections perpetuated continued military control of the country. The regime continues to ignore calls by the democratic movement in Burma, ethnic groups, and the international community to release all political prisoners, cease hostilities against ethnic groups, and engage in genuine dialogue with all key stakeholders...not until after securing “victory” did the junta release political prisoners illegally detained.

As an aside and something I had not covered previously, in September, the election commission cancelled voting in over 3,400 villages in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, and Shan states, where ethnic groups dominate...and several of these were areas where the Life On Point Team had been operating. As many as 1.5 million people are believed to have been disenfranchised by this action! At the same time, serious international crimes, including extra-judicial killings, forced labor, torture, rape and recruitment of child soldiers, continue to be documented and are a daily routine in Burma.

The international community (of which you are all now part of!) should have no illusion of what these oppressive elections will produce....a delay in democracy and national reconciliation in Burma. In the aftermath of the elections, the world must step up its support for all human rights defenders and the democratic movement in Burma and spare no efforts in holding the military regime, whether in its current or future structure, accountable for the serious international crimes. For over 40 years the world has watched the repression in Burma and only uttered statements. It’s time to act.

This is where the Life On Point Team and The Life On Point Group will make its Burma

Enjoy...and much more to follow!


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