Past activities in 2005
April 22, 2005 -
Annual General Meeting of Burma Watch International held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The annual general meeting of Burma Watch International was held at
the International Centre (172 HUB) on the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton Alberta CANADA. The
meeting was open to friends and members of Burma Watch International
and anyone who is interested in promoting human rights and democracy
in Burma. We were very fortunate to have people representing the Mon, Shan, Karen,
Karenni, and Burman communities in Alberta in attendence.
Part of the meeting addressed business items such as reports on activities of the past year
and the election of an executive for the coming year, but the meeting began with speakers who discussed broader items related to Burma issues.
In a talk titled "Burma Shrieks for Change"
David Kilgour (MP for Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont) reviewed the current human rights situation
in Burma, described how the government of Canada has responded over the years, suggested that it
might be time for Canada to revisit the question of whether to use the Special Economic Measures
Act (SEMA) to ban Canadian trade and investment with Burma, discussed how Canada
should respond to the possible appointment of Burma as chair of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN), and concluded that
"[Burma Watch's] job then, is to continue to support civil society groups in Burma and to
encourage our government to renew our commitments to promoting human rights and revitalize previous
efforts to pressure the Burmese regime into change." In the discussion that followed his talk,
he acknowledged that a minority government may not take a strong stand on foreign policy regarding
that members of Burma Watch write letters to their MPs in support of Canada's use of SEMA to ban
Canadian trade and investment with Burma and in support of Canada opposing the appointment of
Burma as chair of ASEAN; and to write to all the diplomatic representatives from ASEAN countries
located in Ottawa CANADA to ask them to oppose the appointment of Burma as chair of ASEAN.
All present decided that Burma Watch should act on Mr. Kilgour's letter writing suggestions.
Mark and Twilla Welch gave an overview of their experience with a short-term teaching project
in the Mae La refugee camp. While the teaching project was not entirely successful, both developed
a stronger appreciation of the educational needs of people in the camp and stressed that people in
the camp value education because:
While undertaking the teaching project Mark and Twilla met two sisters, who are leaders in the
Karen refugee community, whom Mark and Twilla are working to bring to Canada for further education
at a Canadian university. Unfortunately the process is slower that expected, but Mark and Twilla
will welcome any assistance that members of Burma Watch can provide for the two young women.
- Education is an activity of cohesion in the camps as it gives people a purpose and role in
teaching each other.
- Education is the link to the world outside their isolating camp and they need to be prepared
for life when they will be able to return to Burma.
The minutes of the meeting have other details of the AGM.