1. For human dignity. The power of the oppressor is unrestrained: Girls being raped, children chased from their homes, parents murdered, restricted education, and people living in fear are wrong. Arbitrary arrests, and forced relocation are other tools of the regime. Human value crosses all political, religious, economic, and social lines and for this we need to stand with the people of Burma.
2. For the restoration of democracy. There was a democratically elected government that was forcefully displaced by a brutal dictatorship.
3. For the release of political prisoners. Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is still under house arrest, is one of thousands of political prisoners.
4. For ethnic rights, honor and future peace. Ethnic minorities comprise over 40% of the population of Burma and thus should be equitable partners now and in Burma’s future. Without them there is no just or durable solution for a peaceful and democratic Burma. Burma’s brutal campaign against the ethnics has resulted in more than 1 million IDPs, over 1 million refugees, and gross human rights violations such as Burma’s large scale use of landmines to target civilian populations. Many of the ethnic peoples of Burma were allies for freedom in World War II. It is a matter of honor not to forget them.
5. For public health. There is a growing AIDS epidemic in Burma, and in overall health, Burma ranks as one of the worst in the world. Approximately one out of every 10 children in Burma die before their 5th birthday. The ratio is twice as high among the thousands of families forced to flee their homes by the military’s ongoing campaigns.
6. For an end to religious persecution. There is widespread religious persecution in Burma and this is a violation of a foundational and sacred human right.
7. For an end to forced labor and use of humans as minesweepers. The regime forces thousands of people each year to work on State projects and during military campaigns uses people to carry supplies and as human minesweepers.
8. For the protection of the environment. Unchecked and large scale clear cutting of some of the worlds last remaining natural teak and other tropical hardwood reserves, toxic mining practices, and the poorly planed building and proliferation of dams are among the many destructive practices that are damaging the country now and for future generations. The wanton and unchecked destruction of the environment in Burma is not only harmful to Burma, but to all of the surrounding countries.
9. For the control of narcotics. Burma is one of the main producers of amphetamines in the world, and is #1 in Southeast Asia. Burma, behind Afghanistan, is the #2 producer of Opium/Heroin in the world.
10. For regional security. Burma is building up its military with assistance from other area dictatorships and this along with its interest in a nuclear program makes it a regional security threat. Its immoral leadership and lack of accountability also make it a potential global threat.
We the global community have the opportunity to work with the people of Burma for change. Our goodwill can encompass more than just narrowly perceived national interest. Freedom everywhere is good for all people and we of every nation must be able to stand with others even if there is no perceived or immediate benefit for us. Each of us can live our lives for the highest things, to use the best of our heritage, values and prosperity to be part of positive change in the world. This takes courage, selflessness and finally a belief that all people count. May God give us all wisdom, love and humility as we move forward with the people of Burma.
God bless you,
A Relief Team Leader
Free Burma Rangers