[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Introducing People's Forum on Burma

New Burma Coalition Prepares for Launch in Japan

A new group called "Biruma Shimin Forum" (People's Forum on Burma) held its
third planning meeting this Saturday, November 23, near Waseda University in
Tokyo to prepare for its official launch on December 21.  A coalition of
Japan-based Burmese democracy groups, lawyers, journalists, missionaries,
NGOs, and students, the People's Forum on Burma aims to (1) promote
democracy in Burma by educating the Japanese public and pressuring the
Japanese government and Japanese business to support the democratic
opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi and (2) provide support and assistance
(especially legal assistance) to Burmese democracy activists in Japan.

Special guests at the meeting included an NLD representative from Mandalay,
who reported on current conditions in Burma; Kachin singer/songwriter Mun
Awng, who explained about the activities of Burma support groups in Norway;
Hiroko Todoroki of Amnesty International Japan, who introduced Amnesty's
anti-Visit Myanmar Year campaign; and David Arnott of Burma Peace Foundation
in Geneva, who suggested ways to engage special interest groups in Japan to
support the struggle for democracy in Burma.

Participants spent the remainder of the meeting discussing the proposed
charter for the People's Forum on Burma and planning for the group's
official launch on December 21, an event which will include Burmese music
and dance, speeches and an educational video on the democracy movement from
1988 until now.

People's Forum on Burma is open to everyone, "regardless of thought, creed,
principle, nationality and religion."  For more information in Japanese,
contact Shogo Watanabe at (03) 3263-3881; in English, please reply to

* * *

The Prospectus of People's Forum on Burma

On August 1988, when voices calling for democracy were heard all around
Burma, we expected that the time had come for the Burmese to gain democracy
at last.  But our expectations were crushed by the bullets of SLORC, the
junta that started to rule Burma by strong measures, and when Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi, the symbol of democracy, was confined in her house beginning July
1989.  In July 1995, when Aung San Suu Kyi was released, we again had a
faint hope for the future of Burma.  However, this hope was in vain, since
we were disappointed to see SLORC's violence such as arrest of NLD members
during the convention of the party and furthermore, the preventing of the
only way left for the NLD to express its message to the people, the speech
in front of Suu Kyi's house.  At present, Burma is like a prison.

On the other hand, the Japanese government maintains a defensive attitude
towards the recognition as refugees of Burmese who escaped to Japan because
of political reason.  Moreover, its continues diplomatic relations with
SLORC, and it can be said that relations between them is getting rather
tight in respect of trade and tourism, for example.

As this severe situation continues in Burma, we have started to think that
we, as people in Japan, should found an organization to undertake activities
related to this problem.  Relations between Japan and Burma have been strong
from the ancient history.  It is very important for the international
community what stance Japanese society will take against SLORC, and public
opinion can have an effect on it.  Therefore we decided to found people's
forum to undertake activities at the grassroots level.  We are going to do
the following activities:

1.  To form a network of people who willing to promote democracy in Burma
and to undertake any activity that will promote democracy in Burma

For example, we will be an information source to collect and provide
information about Burma.  We will do advocacy and suggestions to Japanese
government and other organizations which may have an effect to SLORC.

2.  To promote friendship with Burmese in Japan and to cooperate in their
activities as citizens in Japan.

For example, we will support their activities, assist them in the problem of
status to stay in Japan, and promote cultural activities so that we can
offer a chance for deeper understanding about Burma and the Burmese.

Founding Members

Osamu Arakawa, Shinto Senkyoshikai
Fumie Kawai, Mingalaba
Schu Sugawara, journalist
Hisao Tanabe, journalist
Hiroshi Nagai, professor, Shizuoka Eiwa Women's University
Eriko Makino, Mingalaba
Merwyn De Mello, Maryknoll Mission
Kyoko Yoshii, Shinto Senkyoshikai
Kazuyuki Azusawa, lawyer, Burmese refugees applicant group
Shogo Watanabe, lawyer, Burmese refugees applicant group