3rd Burma Forum Canada - Sasktoon Declaration - Saskatoon, Canada - March 7, 2010

The 3rd Burma Forum Canada was successfully held from March 6 to 7, 2010 in Saskatoon, Canada. More than 50 Burmese organizational representatives including ethnic nationalities across Canada and representatives from National Coalition Government of Union of Burma (NCGUB), the Burmese government in exile, Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) and Euro-Burma Office (EBO) participated. A wide range of Burma-related issues such as international polices towards Burma, analysis on 2010 elections and possible scenarios, and the role of ethnic nationalities in the political process in Burma were discussed. The Forum participants unanimously agreed to announce the following:

Current Situations & Concerns in Burma

The Forum is increasingly concerned that the military junta continues to ignore calls by Canada and the larger international community to show concrete commitments to political reforms. The Forum is also concerned by the ongoing military offensives, and other forms of atrocities including displacement, religious persecution, politically motivated and arbitrary arrests in the context of the elections planned for later this year.

Appreciations:

  1. The Forum wholeheartedly welcomes and appreciates the official announcement made at the Forum by Ms. Kelly Block (MP- Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar) on behalf of the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation that the Government of Canada would continue support for Burmese refugees and displaced persons living in Burma's border areas in the amount of $15.9 million over five years;
  2. The Forum would also like to express the deepest appreciation on strong political and financial support provided by Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB), Canadian NGO Committee (CNC), Saskatoon Burmese Community, and Euro-Burma Office (EBO), as well as other organizations and individuals who helped make this important Forum happen;
  3. The Forum also thanks the Government of Canada for strong and consistent support for national reconciliation and democracy in Burma including political and economic measures against Burmese military junta in November, 2007 and conferring the Canadian Honorary Citizenship Award to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in May, 2008.

Policy issues:

The Forum strongly believes that:

  1. The 2010 elections is not a solution and will not bring democracy to Burma;
  2. The deteriorating political and human rights conditions in Burma are not favorable to hold a multi-party election. This is the time to work to resolve existing problems through a proper consultation with all the stake-holders in the nation.
  3. If SPDC forcibly continues to go ahead without having meaningful and inclusive dialogue with democratic and ethnic leaders inside the country, the election will not be internationally acceptable and credible;
  4. All prisoners of conscience including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi must be freed unconditionally, and all Burmese citizens must be able to freely participate in the political process so that the elections can be considered credible, free and fair.
  5. Military offensives, gross human rights violations and all kinds of atrocities, especially in the ethnic nationalities areas must be ceased;
  6. Only the people and their trusted leaders inside the country have the legitimate mandate to decide whether or not they should take part in the elections. The Forum will respect their decision.

The Forum also strongly believes that:

  1. Recognition to the crucial role and active participation of ethnic nationalities in the national political process is essential for long-lasting peace and prosperity in Burma. A tripartite dialogue remains the best viable means towards achieving these goals.
  2. Federalism and democratic governance is the only path towards a united, peaceful and prosperous nation.
  3. Any dialogue between the military junta and the opposition should be pursued within a time-bound framework.
  4. Respect for the rights of women and their active participation in the national political process are essential to the democratic governance and social harmony.

The Forum calls upon the Government of Canada:

  1. To maintain the existing political and economic measures towards Burma until all the concerns of the Canadian government and people are adequately met by the Burmese authorities.
  2. Express concerns over Burma's obvious nuclear ambition and questionable relations with the North Korean regime, and to put pressure on the military junta to comply with the international non-proliferation treaty especially with regards to UN Security Council Resolutions 1874 and 1718.
  3. To reiterate the importance of having a direct and meaningful dialogue between Senior General Than Shwe and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which will lead to a level of national dialogue participated by all key stakeholders, including the ethnic nationalities.
  4. To extend Canadian government's effort and support at the multilateral level including an UN 'Commission on Inquiry' of Crimes against Humanity in Burma;
  5. To have active coordination with its international partners for the emergence of "International Forum on Burma" in Asia as soon as possible;
  6. To demand that the military junta immediately stop ongoing attacks on civilians in eastern Burma, including the renewed attacks on Karen civilians in recent months.
  7. To demand that the junta cease the unjustified pressures being exerted on the ethnic cease-fire groups to become the "Border Guard Force" ahead of the elections.
  8. To substantially expand its resettlement program for the vulnerable Burmese refugees including political dissidents.
  9. To ensure all humanitarian assistance package provided by Canadian government to the targeted groups and people in need.

In conclusion, the Forum participants reaffirm their commitment to continue to work together, and call upon diverse Burmese community across the globe to stand united until the people of Burma overcome the existing political, socio-economic and humanitarian crises and able to freely enjoy their full democratic and human rights in the Union of Burma.




Date last changed: 2010 March 21

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