Past activities in 2002
February 1, 2002 -
Burma Watch International launched its Web site at
February 18 - 21, 2002 -
Than Aung and Alice Kin Saw Win, both Directors of Burma Watch International,
visited in the San Francisco Bay Area on Feb 18 - 21 and met with executives and members of the Burmese American Democratic Alliance (BADA). [BADA was founded on January 7,2001 and its main objective is to plan, steer, organize and coordinate various nonviolent activities in the Bay
Area to achieve its ultimate goal for the
establishment of democratic process in Burma.]
About 30 - 35 people,including BADA members, representatives from Burma Round Table, the Burmese American Women's Association (BAWA) and students from City College of San Francisco attended a dinner-meeting
held on Feb 19 at the Yamin Win Burmese restaurant.
The followings items were discussed:
- how BADA, its member groups and Burma Watch International can work together collaboratively for the restoration of freedom and democracy in Burma
- the sending of a flag from Canada for a Unocal campaign in May 2002
- how to keep each other well informed and updated about future activities
- various strategies, arrived at after analyzing our past activities, that can be improved and strengthened to put more pressure on the military regime in Burma until it collapses
- whether Burma Watch International should be a member of BADA and vice versa
The expenses for dinner were covered by Victor Win, Vice President of BADA, and Jean Gale Win, so the attendees were requested to make a donation for Dr. Cynthia's refugee care clinic. An amount of US$262 was raised
and Burma Watch International will combine it with proceeds from its March 22, 2002 fund raising dinner to make a substantial contribution to Dr. Cynthia's refugee care clinic and the Burma Medical
Association (BMA) of which Dr Cynthia Maung is president.
Alice Khin Saw Win sent a letter to BADA in which she said
"On behalf of Burma Watch International, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to BADA, representatives from Burma Round Table, BAWA (Burmese American Women's Association)and students from City College of San Francisco for their generous contribution for the health of refugees and displaced people. I do hope that BADA and its member groups will continue to support both morally and financially to those oppressed people who are always in need of help. My special thanks to U Victor Win and ma ma Jean Gale for their kindness and hospitality."
March 22, 2002 -
Members of Burma Watch International held their
first ever fund raising event. The purpose of this special event was
to raise funds to support the activities of Burma Watch International -- including financial support for health care clinics serving Burmese refugees living in refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border
and promotion of democracy and human rights in Burma.
Dr. Myron Semkuley, founder of Calgary based
Medical Mercy Canada,
headlined the event and spoke and showed slides about his experiences delivering medical supplies and providing health education clinics for Burmese refugees in Thailand.
[Medical Mercy Canada is
a non-governmental, non-religious, charitable organization which helps out Burmese refugees in Thailand and impoverished villagers in the Ukraine
by providing medical supplies and instruction, and support for local social
programs. In 2002, it plans to also help out Burmese refugees living in India.]
Sunil Datar and Naveen Shastri organized entertainment for the evening that included songs in Hindi and English (including a song written by
Naveen to honour Dr. Cynthia Maung)
and dancers performing traditional Burmese and Indian dances.
Jack Freebury, President of Burma Watch International, announced that over 170 people showed their
support by paying to attend the event and by bidding on items sold
in a "silent" auction.
May 7, 2002 - Burma Watch International
issued a public statement about the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
"Burma Watch International joins the millions around the world who are
rejoicing following the news that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been released
from house arrest."
Dr. Alice Khin, a director of Burma Watch International, in an interview
which appeared in the May 7, 2002 issue of the Edmonton Journal
represented our views on this important event.
"Its really great news for us. This is the news that the people of
Burma are waiting for. We are happy for that and we welcome her
release." She cautioned however that the news should be approached
"with cautious optimism because the military regime is very
cunning." She noted that Suu Kyi was released previously but did not
get genuine freedom because her movements were restricted.
Dr Khin went on to say that the release is due mainly to international
pressure. "I would say economic sanctions worked really well."
She said that while the release is a sign of progress, the international community and the people of Burma must be wary. "We all have to continue to work hard to be able to bring democracy to Burma."
Burma Watch International recognizes there is a need to evaluate how sincere the military regime is in granting the release of Suu Kyi by their actions in the future and not by there public statements. One of the tests will be if they release all of the political prisoners. The ultimate test of their sincerity will be when they enter into real negotiations which result in a free and democratic Burma.
May 29, 2002 -
Dr. Alice Khin, a Director of Burma Watch International, spoke about "The HIV/AIDS problem of migrants from Burma in Thailand" at an International Health Round at the University of Alberta.
The round was organized by the
International Healthcare Initiatives for Medical Students Committee
(IHIMS). The mandate of the IHIMS is "to promote interest in
international health care among medical students and to provide accessible
information and services to individuals interested in gaining exposure
to health care on an international level".
June 9, 2002 -
Members of Burma Watch International met
with the Hon. David Kilgour, Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), at the Bocock farm north of St. Albert, AB.
The meeting provided an opportunity for us to discuss with David Kilgour a number of concerns that we have about policies of the Government of Canada and to find out from him what he will be doing, as Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) to promote human rights and democracy in Burma.
Dr. Alice Khin (Director) described the current situation of
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and relayed messages, that Dr. Khin has had from
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi since her recent release from house-arrest in May 2002, concerning how
the Government of Canada should respond to this action by the Burmese
military junta. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi insists that Canada (along with
the international community) should continue to pressure the Burmese
military junta to start reconciliation talk with NLD immediately.
Without substantive or serious National Reconciliation Talk,the democracy process can not move forward.
Dr. Khin argued that, by releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the military
junta was hoping that various countries, most particularly the United States, would relax their policies on trade with Burma.
Jack Freebury (President) argued that Canada's policy on discouraging
investment by Canadian companies in Burma has not been strong enough and to illustrate the point described how Ivanhoe Mines is jointly
participating with the Burmese military junta in the operation of copper mines that have had serious environmental, health, social, and human rights impacts on the people of Burma. [These impacts are described in a
report on mining in Burma published by the
now defunct Canada Asia Pacific Resource Network (CAPRN) in September 1999.] Jack suggested that Burma
Watch International should support campaigns such as the
Heave-Ho Ivanhoe! campaign
being promoted by Canadian Friends of Burma.
Than Aung (Vice-President) expressed concern about the release of political prisoners in Burma. He stated that, while the release of
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is welcome news, over 1500 persons are still
imprisoned for their political activities and at the current rate of
release of political prisoners by the military junta it will take
over 15 years for them all to be freed.
David Kilgour responded to the issues that had been presented to him
and stated Canada's view on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi. He stated that
Canada's policies towards Burma would not change because of the
release of Aung San Suu Kyi. He said that it is unlikely that Canada
will take any stronger action to discourage Canadian investment in Burma.
He plans to travel to Burma in July and wants to meet with
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
July 20, 2002 -
Dr. Alice Khin, a Director of Burma Watch International, was one of
a group of individuals from Burma (who have been actively involved in the struggle for democracy and self-determination of ethnic nationalities and who have been working in the development fields of women’s rights, health, education and environment for and with the people at the grassroots level) who met on July 13-14th 2002 to discuss the role of international aid in Burma. They released a Statement on International Assistance to Burma on July 20, 2002 which detailed the issues and concerns raised at their meeting
and called on the international community to respect the concerns identified in the statement and to engage Burman and non-Burman democratic groups and civil society organisations in a transparent and constructive debate before taking any decisions on increasing international aid to Burma to respond to the humanitarian crisis which has been created
by the military.
August 8, 2002 -
Members of Burma Watch International and
The International Centre, University
of Alberta sponsored and organized
a special commemoration and candle light vigil of the 14th
anniversary of the August 8, 1988 uprising by the people of Burma to
demand peace, democracy and basic human rights. The event was held
Edmonton AB Canada at The University of Alberta.
The purpose of the commemoration was to publicly remind people of
what happened fourteen years ago
when a nation-wide uprising in Burma
was brutally quashed by the military regime and their actions of firing
on people resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
The event featured
Gerald Gall, Professor of Law in the Law Faculty at the University
of Alberta speaking about
and a candle light vigil with prayer and meditation led by
Prem Kalia, Chair of the Board of Directors of
The Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace.
An online event poster [in pdf format]...
provided details about the event.
Peter Heyes, a member of Burma Watch International, described the
event in a report to Canadian Friends of Burma as follows:
Over 60 people gathered in a theatre at the Education Faculty of the
University of Alberta. The evening was opened by Jim Gurnet who is the
director of the Mennonite Centre for Refugees in Edmonton. Dr. Alice
gave a brief outline of the background leading up to the uprising.
We then watched a tape, produced in 1991 by John Bilger and entitled,
"Inside Burma - Land of Fear."
Dr. Alice had received a message from Aung San Suu Kyi, via Altsean-Burma,
and this was read out to the audience.
Professor Gerald L. Gall from the Law Faculty at the University of
Alberta was the guest speaker and he spoke on "Justice and Human
Rights." He is also the Vice President, Treasurer and Member of
the Board of Directors of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human
Rights. Recently he was awarded the Order of Canada for his work in
Dr. Gall's talk was followed by a time for questions and answers.
A number of good questions were asked, which elicited clarification of
issues by Dr. Gall.
Dr. Alice gave a brief outline of the current situation in Burma and she
suggested ways that Canada and Canadians could help the move for
Mr. Prem Kalia, the President of the Gandhi Foundation for Peace,
in Edmonton lead us in prayer and meditation, during which time
a candle was passed from hand to hand by all the participants.
We feel it was a very meaningful time for all those present.
September 25-28, 2002 -
Dr. Alice Khin, a director of Burma Watch International, presented her paper
"The HIV/AIDS problem of migrants from Burma in Thailand" at The First Collaborative International Conference of the Burma Studies Group which was held at Göteborg (Gothenburg)
University, Sweden on September 25-28, 2002.
October 9-10, 2002 -
Than Aung, Vice-President, represented Burma Watch International at
>"Promoting Transition to Democracy in Burma: The Role of the International Community" conference
which was held in Ottawa, Canada on October 9, 2002.