Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Aung San Suu Kyi Meets UN Envoy, What Happened

Dear Friend,

We typically use this email list to distribute calls for action on how you can help the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma.

However, many of you have been asking us what happened in Burma over the past weekend, so we wanted to send a special note.

Aung San Suu Kyi was seen in public when the United Nations Secretary General's envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, traveled to Burma.

His trip was the 35th trip by a UN envoy to Burma since 1990, but his mission was the same: to convince Burma's generals to participate in peaceful negotiations with Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's ethnic groups. In one form or another, 31 consecutive UN resolutions have called for these "talks" to start for nearly two decades. The goal of the "talks" is to create a framework for a transition to democracy.

Like previous trips by UN envoys, the military regime rejected all the UN proposals. The UN trip failed.

Frankly, we expected this to happen. We have watched how the military regime defies the UN at every turn for quite some time, and this trip was no different.

The main reason the regime is able to refuse to honor UN calls for change is that they know there will be no consequences from the UN. The only body at the UN that is capable of enforcing resolutions is the UN Security Council, but China has completely paralyzed the Security Council with its veto power. 10 Nobel Peace Prize recipients have called for the UN Security Council to impose a ban on all arms sales to Burma, but because of China's threat of a veto, the Council has only issued a non-binding, weak statement. Meanwhile, China has provided the military regime with billions of dollars in weapons and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

As a result, the UN is making the same mistakes the world made on Rwanda, Darfur, and elsewhere. In the meantime, the regime has carried out awful human rights abuses against the people of Burma, which you know about. It is shameful that in todays' world one single country can hobble the entire United Nations, but that is exactly what is happening.

What You Can Do

Clearly, we need to be doing more to focus attention and pressure on China. That is one reason why we are asking people to turn off their televisions and not watch the Beijing Olympics. China very much cares about the Olympics and its reputation, and it appears that the only way we can get China's attention is to call for everyday American people (and others throughout the world) to signal our frustration by refusing to watch the Olympics. You can sign up here today to pledge to become one of 1 million people that will turn off your televisions and do something instead of watching the Olympics. We have an easy online tool that allows you to ask your friends and family to refuse to endorse the Beijing Olympics as well.

Feel free to write to us with any questions or ideas you have. We have to do a lot more to convince China to support peace instead of underwriting tyranny in Burma. If we work together, we can make it happen.

Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Jennifer Quigley, Thelma Young

Please support 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.

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