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Civil Society for Burma
- Subject: Civil Society for Burma
- From: hag2@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 17:13:00
Civil Society of Burma was successfully fromed on December 1997 with
fromer ABSDF members and Burmese who want to see the establishment of
democratic government in Burma. Our web site is up. The address is:
CIVIL SOCIETY FOR BURMA
President Htun Aung Gyaw
General Secretary Soe Nyunt
Treasurer Kyaw Zin
General Auditor Ei Ei May
Organizing Committee Secretary Nay Hlaing Oo
Victor Aw (Chairperson, New York Chapter)
Khin Maw (Chairperson, California Chapter)
Maung Maung Soe (Chairperson, Indiana Chapter)
Ye Tun (Chairperson, North Carolina Chapter)
Dr. John Badgley
Burmese Expert, retired Curator, Cornell University
Dr. Josef Silverstein
Burmese Expert, retired Professor, Rutger University
Dr. Tun Kyaw Nyein
Professor, North Carolina Central University
Htun Aung Gyaw
428, Winthrop Drive, Ithaca, N.Y 14850
Tel/Fax: (607) 266-8942, E-Mail: hag2@xxxxxxxxxxx
2265 East 18th St., Brooklyn, New York, N.Y 11229
Tel/Fax: (718) 615-1812, E-Mail: uainwann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Civil Society is that realm of organized social life that
is voluntary,self generating,(largely) self supporting,
autonomous from the state and bound by a legal order or a
set of shared rules. In this context, citizens act
collectively in a public sphere to express their interests,
passions, and ideas, exchange information, achieve mutual
goals, make demands on the state and hold state offices.
Civil Society protects the rights of the various
social, political, and economical organizations under
democratic regimes and helps to promote and encourage
the formation of democratic institutions under authoritarian
regimes. There is abundant evidence in history and
contemporary societies to support our belief that Civil
Society and the vigorous associational skills it fosters are
the bedrock of democracy.
Civil Society in the western sense has no equivalent
in the Burmese lexicon. Yet there was free and voluntary
associational life in Burma both during the colonial period
and again during the brief democratic interlude, albeit
centered around religion and politics. Unfortunately, four
decades of authoritarian rule has wiped out all vestiges of
Civil Society as it existed in the Burmese society.
Regimentation and the pervasive use of a state-sponsored
network of spies and informers undermined the trust and
bonds of social fabric.
It is our belief that promotion of the concept of
Civil Society and development of associational skills among
the citizenry is a sine qua non to successful democratization
CSB seeks to foster and promote the understanding of
the concept of Civil Society and facilitate the enhancement
of associational skills among overseas and inland Burmese
CONCEPT TOWARDS OTHER BURMESE ORGANIZATIONS
CSB will help all Burmese pro-democracy groups in any
way possible. Among the different pro-democracy groups, CSB
will attempt to foster mutual understanding and unity. This
will be accomplished by exploring common ground for cooperation
and promoting family spirit and loving kindness for the
foundation of a stable society.
To establish a Burmese Refugee Center in New York City and a
joint office in Bangkok, Thailand for providing educational
and orientational services to Burmese refugees waiting for
departure to host countries. To assists those Burmese refugees
whose applications for resettlement in third countries have been
To campaign for the Student Union in Burma and assist student
activists, political prisoners and their families whose health
conditions are deteriorating and need medical assistance.
To establish a publication system for informing the Burmese
communities inside and outside Burma about Burma's present
situation and engage them in the political, economical and
social matters of Burma.
Condemned by the United Nations and other international
bodies as one ofthe most repressive regimes in the world,
the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has
intensified its assault on democracy activists and ethnic
minorities. Offensives by the Burmese military against
ethnic Karenni, Karen, and Shan have resulted in an
increased flow of refugees into neighboring countries.
New refugees arriving into both Thailand and
Bangladesh prompted Refugee International missions to
these countries in 1996. Based on information received
December 30th 1997, thousands of refugees living in the
seven border districts of the northern province are to
bemoved to four major camps deeper inside Thailand for
security reasons. Mae Hong Son governor Phakdi Chomphuming
said on December 29th 1997 that the province had recently
been given 1.5 million baht from the Defence Ministry to
evacuate some 30,000 refugees from areas prone to attacks.
The evacuation follows a series of attacks by
members of the renegade Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
(DKBA) and illegal logging activities in Salween Wildlife
Sanctuary. The province has sought help from the Third Army
Region to deploy extra troops along the border to ensure
the safety of the people living there. United Nation High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also designated a
new category of Burmese refugees the "Border Case",
which involves placing refugees in unsafe border areas
instead of the UNHCR recognized Burmese student safe camp.
Most CSB members have personal experience as refugees,
and they are willing to help the Burmese refugees and
willing to solve the problems between Burmese and Thai
Concerning the student refugees under the military regime's
socialist educational system, students did not get an
internationally competitive education even though they
were university graduates. Because they did not get a
proper education they did not become qualified for a
profession. As a result, when they left Burma for foreign
countries, they were only able to get "under the table" jobs.
Worse than this, many of the refugee students who had fled
to the jungle never finished their formal education. Because
Burma was an isolated system for many years, it is difficult
for the young people to deal with foreigners. When students
arrive in the USA they need help with orientation, language
training, professional skill training, moral support and at
the very least a warm welcome by having someone who listens
Moreover, the overseas Burmese people living in the USA
face their own problems owing to many factors such as
cultural diversity, lack of language proficiency and lack
of information. CSB gives community assistance in various
ways such as residence application, educational assistance,
employment counseling, and social problem solving. CSB will
assist overseas Burmese to integrate into the countries
granting their residency.
The Open Society Institute (OSI) has awarded some
scholarships, but most students and activists
from the border do not fulfill the requirements of the OSI.
Many OSI scholarships have been awarded to educated people
who left Burma for the USA holding Burmese passports, so OSI
is only of marginal value for refugee students and activists.
CSB believes that it is necessary to give scholarships to
every Burmese citizen except to those who openly endorse the
military rule. CSB will assist OSI in identifying those
students wanting higher education and in facilitating the
grant application process, because most students have little
experience in this area. CSB members have more expertise in
these areas, we want to contribute our service to activists
in the US and in the border areas.
To promote the emergence of strong Civil Society inside Burma
To establish a Burmese Refugee Center in the USA and a joint
office in Thailand to assist Burmese refugees for departure
to host countries.
To solve the problems between Burmese and Thai communities.
To find and assist those students who could qualify for OSI
To establish the structure for solving the social problems of
refugees who have resettled in host countries.
To encourage the foreign and domestic NGOs to work inside
CSB is headed U Htun Aung Gyaw (President). He holds a Master
of Arts degree in Asian Studies from Cornell University and
a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Rangoon Arts and
Science University, Burma. He was a prominent student leader
in 1974-75. Also Htun was a political prisoner from 1975-80,
and former Chairman and a founder of All Burma Students'
Democratic Front(ABSDF). He has many followers in Burma and
in the USA. Assisting Htun is U Soe Nyunt, in running CSB.
He was a student leader and a Vice Chairman of the 1974 U
Thant uprising. He holds a Bachelor of Economics from Rangoon
Institute of Economics. He was elected as the Chairman of
ABSDF Wankha camp. He also served as the Chairman of Student
Safe camp in Ratchburi province in Thailand. Additionally,
former ABSDF members and activists work as volunteers for CSB
"Under military rule, Civil Society has diminished in
Burma. I strongly believe that a Civil Society is
crucial not only for achieving democracy in Burma but
also to maintain it."
- Htun Aung Gyaw