Date: 16 June 2003
Stanley Peter Dromisky
House of Commons
Dear Honorable Mr. Dromisky,
We, the undersigned residents of Thunder Bay, who have come to settle to the city from the Southeastern Asian country of Burma, are writing this letter to bring to your attention our deep concern over the ongoing political crackdown in Burma. We have learnt that the military junta ruling Burma is mounting a massive violent campaign against pro-democracy opponents in the country, resulting in scores of arrest, death and disappearance of democracy activists.
On May 30, 2003, the military regime orchestrated a violent assault on the convoy of Burma’s democracy leader, and Noble Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters who were touring the county’s northern region. The incident left at least 70 dead, scores disappeared and injured. Of particular concern is the fate of Aung San Suu KYi who is being detained incommunicado in an unspecified military camp outside of the capital Rangoon.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy won the country’s last democratic elections in 1990 with an overwhelming majority of 82 percent of the legislative seats. But the military regime, which came to power after slaughtering thousands of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators, refused to recognize the election results, and has since embarked on a campaign of terror against dissidents. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the last 15 years under house arrest, and her release in late 2001 had given new hopes for the country’s return to democracy from nearly 50 years of military rule.
The re-arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the latest violent crackdown on democracy movement is a clear indication that the military junta ruling Burma, which calls itself the State Peace and Development Council is neither interested in political reform nor has any intention to return power to the people of Burma. Further, the regime has been waging a brutal genocidal war against the country’s ethnic minorities resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of millions of civilian populations.
Virtually all governments, including Canada and the United States, have denounced the latest crackdown in Burma. In the United States, the Senate has already overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban all imports from Burma, freeze the assets of junta officials within the United States, and impose a visa ban on all senior officials of the regime as well as leaders of organizations and persons associated with the junta. The European Union is also contemplating on implementing similar measures against the regime.
We believe that Canada with its unique position in the world, and as a nation with the tradition of peace and humanitarian commitments in the world, has tremendous leverage in affecting real political change in Burma. It is also in the interest of Canada to take a leading role in ending five decades of brutality and violence the people of Burma have been suffering at the hands of the military junta. According to the RCMP, more than half narcotic imports in Canada originated in Burma. Various credible international organizations have also revealed the close links between the Burmese military officials and international narco-smuggling rings that operate inside Burma.
Canada has previously led efforts to bring an end to repressions and inhumanities in South Africa, Haiti, Yugoslavia and elsewhere in the world. The ongoing crackdown on freedom and democracy in Burma is a clear indication that current measures in place against the regime in Burma are ineffective.
As members of your constituency, we therefore, strongly appeal to you to take leadership in getting the government of Canada initiate urgent measures to help end repression and human rights violations in Burma. We also strongly request that efforts towards these measures embody the followings:
1. An immediate action to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and other detainees, as well as all political prisoners in Burma
1. Implementation of strong economic sanctions in the forms of import and investment bans and others
1. The continuance of existing diplomatic and political pressures on Burma with the view to forcing the regime to enter into political dialogue with the NLD and representatives of ethnic nationalities that would lead to a return of genuine democracy, peace and human rights in Burma
1. Finding appropriate means to get the United Nations Security Council address the Burmese situation in order to put to a stop the ongoing genocide, religious persecution, and systematic human rights abuse against various ethnic groups in the country. (In this regard, his honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, in his policy speech at a UN reform conference in New York, has recently made it clear Canada’s commitment to supporting the UN in taking punitive measures against member states which have failed to live up to their Charter obligations, measures that would include membership suspension and expulsion)
1. Through appropriate diplomatic channels, putting effective pressure on Burma’s neighboring countries to stop supporting and engaging the military regime
Additionally, we’ve learnt that Canada will be represented at this week ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We implore your immediate personal communication to the Foreign Minister asking him to get concerned regional parties involve in helping to secure the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma. This will send a strong message to the Burmese military junta that their brutal policies and trickery will not be tolerated by the international community.
(Individual names omitted*)
(*More than 40 individuals, mostly of Karen and Chin, residing in Thunder Bay, Ontari