Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Planning for Speaker Panel Event

*Upcoming in early 2008: Panel Discussion with leading academic experts and diplomats about what the international community can do to support Burma
-US State Department Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
-UN Human Rights Rapporteur to Burma (Myanmar) Sergio Pinheiro
-Amnesty International Asia Director T. Kumar

*in collaboration with Harvard Law School Burma Campaign and Amnesty International

Holiday Fundraiser to Support Education in Burma

Why Supporting Educaiton Programs is Important

Due to decades of neglect, under-funding, suppression of academic freedom, and periodic school closings, the educational system in Burma is rapidly deteriorating. A UNICEF survey conducted in 1995 found that 39% of school age children have never attended primary school while 26% of the parents said they could not afford the cost of schooling.[1] For students who are able to attend school, the poverty of the education system is compounded by the lack of facilities, assess to information, and unqualified and underpaid teachers. Knowledge and especially critical thinking is perceived as dangerous to the military regime, the State Peace and Development Council. Crucial for Burma’s transition to an open, democratic society is to overcome the challenges of building up the education system and laying the groundwork to foster civil society. The training program for volunteer teachers aims to both promote civil society networks as well as encourage critical thinking courses in monastic schools.

In the beginning of March 2006, five student volunteers from U Mya Kyaing English School (U Tun Lin Chan Street, Hledan Township) and I developed and taught an ESL course for 200 students in Aung Za Bu Monastery. A detailed chronicle of our activities can be found at:
http://www.brightprism.com/ & http://www.amazingschool.textamerica.com/
Established on April 22, 1990, Aung Za Bu Monastery School strives to support orphans, children of broken homes, and children from families too poor to attend school. Most families in the villages surrounding the monastery are subsistence farmers who earn less than $1 a day. Because of their poverty and isolation, few villagers have the opportunity to further their education in high school or university. To give the next generation of students the opportunity to improve their lives, Aung Za Bu Monastery School provides education free of charge to students in kindergarten through 8th standard. The monastery school also provides free textbooks, pencils, and stationary to over 700 boys and girls who come from more than 10 different surrounding villages in Kormou.
Of the 700 local students, 200 students from the 7th, 8th, and 9th standards are taking supplementary ESL classes provided by the student volunteers from U Mya Kyaing School. The ESL program is held from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday and is successfully continuing since its inception in March, 2006.
The mission of the school is to:
Give free education and provide the children with a solid foundation for the rest of lives
Cultivate the children’s courage, morality, and self confidence
Support those who have been abandoned and show them how they can follow their dreams
Muslims, Christians, Hindus--students of all religions and ethnicities study at Aung Za Bu because the school provides secular education that matches the public school curriculum.
Because Aung Za Bu relies soley charitable donations for its programs, your help is essential to ensuring that these children can continue to learn. By supporting education, you change a child's life and provide the foundation so that children can change their society. Your donations would go to the Endowment Fund that would allow Aung Za Bu Monastery to become self sustainable. For each $400 we raise, we can buy 1 acre of land. The land will be used to cultivate bamboo, a fast growing plant which can be used for food, shelter, and furniture. Your one-time donation will go to the purchasing of bamboo fields that provide a continuous source of revenue for the school. For more information about the Endowment Fund and the daily expenses of the monastery, please visit the Donation page: (http://www.brightprism.com)
[1] http://www.angelfire.com/al/homepageas/edu.html

Tell Congressmen to Freeze the Assests of the Burmese Military Junta

What the Act Does:
The regime makes hundreds of millions of dollars each year off thesale of gems. More than 90 percent of the world's rubies andfine-quality (Imperial) jade comes from Burma. The new sanctions willcrack down on the regime's practice of avoiding U.S. sanctions bylaundering gemstones through third countries before they are sold.
This Act also freezes the assets of Burmese political and militaryleaders, prevents Burma from using U.S. financial institutions viathird countries to launder the funds of those leaders or theirimmediate families, and prohibits Burmese officials involved in theviolent suppression of protesters from receiving visas to the UnitedStates.
"This legislation will turn off a huge cash spigot for the thuggishBurmese regime," Lantos said. "If my colleagues come together and actquickly to pass these new sanctions, we can put an end to huge profitsfor the junta and its unscrupulous middle-men. We must ensure that thesale of some of the Earth's most beautiful natural resources does notcontinue to enable the horrors inflicted upon the people of Burma."
Burma also uses third countries to access the U.S. banking system.These overseas banks process accounts in and through the United Statesfor Burma's rulers, providing the regime with much-needed hardcurrency. The regime uses these funds to purchase weapons and luxurygoods, while the bulk of Burma's population lives in poverty.
Lantos' legislation tightens existing sanctions to prevent Burma'smilitary rulers from profiting from sales to the United States, andblocks access to the U.S. financial system not just for Burmese humanrights violators but also to those who provide the regime with bankingservices.
The Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2007,if passed, would be the strongest action yet that the U.S. takes topressure Burma's military regime to negotiate with Burma's democracyleaders and ethnic nationalities.
What to do:
As constituents, it is only your voice that will inspire yourrepresentative to co-sponsor this bill, better enabling it to pass inCongress. If you do not know, to find out whom your individualrepresentative is go to www.house.gov and type in your zipcode in the"Find your representative" box in the top left corner of the screen.
Once you know whom your representative is - use the list below tocontact your representative's Foreign Affairs staffer (the numbers foreach one for every office are at the bottom of this email). If s/he isnot there leave a message and ask her/him to call you back. Call todayand call every day until you get an answer!
Below is a series of talking points that can guide your conversation,as well as the information the staff will need to become a co-sponsorof the Bill.
Talking Points for Staffer:- Tell the staffer you want your representative to co-sponsor theBlock Burmese JADE Act of 2007- Give her/him proof that this policy works. It cuts off hundreds ofmillions of dollars to the regime and will specifically target the topgenerals' finances.- Mention that the military junta still deserves sanctions. On top ofbrutally crushing thousands of peaceful demonstrators, includingmonks, the military regime has destroyed more than 3,000 villages. Ithas forcibly displaced more than half a million people inside Burma aswell as causing a million refugees to flee across the border toneighboring countries and has made no efforts to move towarddemocracy.- Let her/him know it is important to send a strong signal to theregime that the US government will continue to keep American money outthe hands of the junta.- This is not the only action being taken against Burma. On top ofmany diplomatic efforts, the EU has imposed new sanctions, as well asAustralia, and even Japan has decreased aid to Burma.- Finally ask the staffer to call you back when your representativehas co-sponsored the Block Burmese JADE Act. Important: Leave yourphone number!Let him/her know that his/her constituents care about Burma!
To add their name as a cosponsor:Let them know that to co-sponsor they should contact Eric Richardsonat the Committee on Foreign Affairs office ateric.richardson@mail.house.gov or 225-5021.
Check up to see if they cosponsor:It's easy to check and see if they follow through and agree tocosponsor. THOMAS, the Library of Congress' congressional recordsdatabase updates a list of all information on legislation. Click onthis link to find out who has signed as cosponsors.
Thank you all for your vigilance. We must do everything we can tosupport the people of Burma during these uncertain times. If you haveany questions or ideas, feel free to contact me orthelma@uscampaignforburma.org

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Film Screening
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Film will begin at 7:15
Langdell North

Please join us for a screening of Total Denial, a film about the events leading up to the landmark Alien Tort Statute case Doe v. Unocal. The movie is 92 minutes long. Please join us for snacks starting at 6:45pm.
Sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights - Human Rights and the Environment Group, HLS Burma Campaign, APALSA, Human Rights Journal, Environmental Law Society and HCS Advocates for Human Rights.

Total Denial is the inspiring story of fifteen villagers from the jungles of Burma whose quest for justice eventually leads them to bring suit in a U.S. court against two oil giants - UNOCAL and TOTAL - for human-rights abuse. For five years producer/director Milena Kaneva collected accounts from Burmese villagers of forced labor, re-location of villages, rape, and murder associated with construction of the Yadana pipeline. Her "guide" during this journey was Ka Hsaw Wa, described by Kerry Kennedy in her book "Speak Truth to Power" as "A man of incredible courage and commitment, with the firm belief that one man can make a difference." A member of Burma's Karen ethnic minority, Ka Hsaw Wa, was one of the leaders of the student movement for democracy in Burma in 1988, which was violently suppressed by the Burmese government. For more than a decade, he has gathered testimonies and other evidence on numerous cases of human rights and environmental abuse. Wanted by police in both Burma and Thailand, he is now based in the U.S., traveling back to both countries periodically at considerable personal risk, to document further abuses. In 1995, along with the co-founders of Earth Rights International, Katie Redford and Tyler Giannini, Ka Hsaw Wa brought a landmark lawsuit against UNOCAL and TOTAL that drew international attention to the pervasive abuses in Burma. (HRW)

For more information on the film, visit www.totaldenialfilm.com or www.earthrights.org

Saturday, October 13, 2007


(*caveat* on this one ~ in case China has some sort of blacklist of email address, I would recommend using an email account that you won't use too often in China in the future, esp for buying your Olympics ticket)

Dear Beijing Olympics representative,

I am writing to let you know that I will not be purchasing tickets to
the Olympics in 2008, and will encourage others to boycott these games as
well, unless China makes a major shift on its policy in Burma. By
supporting the junta in Burma, China is supporting violations of human
rights, slaughter of innocent monks, and continued impoverishment of

These actions are in complete opposition to the spirit of the Olympic
games, which is a spirit of unity, triumph over obstacles, and teamwork.
If China cannot embody these practices in its foreign policy, then it
certainly is not fit to hold the Olympic games, and should expect a large
scale boycott from all who support freedom and human rights.


To ~

http://www.house.gov/capuano/contact/email.shtml (fill this out and paste the body of the email in)

Re: House Resolution 610
Dear Honorable Representative Capuano,

I write to request your support of House Resolution 610, calling for a US
boycott of the Beijing Olympics if China does not change its policy on the
the military regime in Burma. The violations of human rights, poverty of
refugees, and recent brutal slaying of some of the most peaceful, loving
humans--Buddhist monks) are inexcusable, and the international community
must react swiftly and firmly. China's reluctance to help the UN resolve
the situation, putting economic interests above the most basic human
rights for freedom, calls for a strong statement: If China will not
facilitate work toward a peaceful solution in Burma, the Beijing olympics
must be boycotted. The Olympics are meant to be a celebration of the world
and the athletic accomplishments of all countries. China clearly should
not be permitted to host an event whose unviersal symbolism would be
tarnished by China's support of a military regime guilty of human rights

Thank you for your kind consideration and for your support of freedom in


Wednesday, October 3, 2007


********RALLY FOR BURMA*********

3pm, THURSDAY (10/4), at the State House

*students meet 2:30pm in front of the Harvard T Stop*

Join the Burmese monks of Boston in a prayer

Hear the stories of student revolutionaries from the 1988 uprising for freedom

Support the Burmese freedom movement by encouraging companies to stop deals with the military junta


The Committee on Public Service held a public hearing for H.B. 2729 An Act Relative to Investment in Companies Doing Business in Burma (Myanmar), on June 28, 2007. This bill is sponsored by Representative Byron Rushing and it authorizes the Massachusetts Pension Reserve Investment Management Board to use its shareholder power to encourage companies doing business in Burma to withdraw. It also suspends new state pension fund investments in companies doing business in Burma until a democratically elected government has been installed in that nation.

The Committee Chairs have still not moved on this bill despite the atrocities taking place in the country of Burma.


Call in for Thursday, October 4rd


1. Representative Jay Kaufman, at 617.722.2240 or Rep.JayKaufman@Hou.State.ma.us

2. Senator Benjamin Downing, at 617.722.1625 or Benjamin.Downing@state.ma.us

3. State Treasurer Timothy Cahill, at 617.367.6900 or by email: webmaster@tre.state.ma.us


Hi, my name is ______________, and I am from _____________. I am calling to ask (Representative Kaufman/Senator Downing/ State Treasurer Cahill) to support H.B. 2729, An Act Relative to Investment in Companies Doing Business in Burma (Myanmar). The bill introduced by Representative Byron Rushing would put pressure on companies that support Burma’s ruling military regime.

I ask that you explore all of the ways in which you, as Massachusetts (Representative, Senator, Treasurer), can honor the Burmese democracy movement's call for economic sanctions. As a shareholder in companies worldwide, Massachusetts has the power to question and oppose corporate investment in Burma.

Massachusetts has a long and proud tradition of leadership in supporting democratic movements around the world. The Commonwealth was a leader in the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. Massachusetts was also the first to enact a state law in support of the democracy movement in Burma. This is especially crucial now since the military junta is killing, detaining, or torturing thousands of peaceful protesters. The time to show our support is critical and I urge you to take action as soon as possible. Thank you.

Monday, October 1, 2007


BURMA TEACH-IN (8:00pm - 9:00 pm, 10/2)
The new location is: Penthouse, Room 14, SOCH (Hilles Library)

Sorry for the sudden change in locations. The room we originally reserved was too small for the expected numbers.

The Teach-In will feature:
1. Short presentation of film (10 min) and background of Burma
2. Presentation by Mark McDowell, a Canadian diplomat who has met with leaders of the Burmese democratic resistance and has over 14 years of expertise on the political situation in Burma
3. Daw Aye Aye San, student activist during the 1988 revolution and former political prisoner will speak about her experiences
4. Presentation on divestment issues by Tyler Giannini, Harvard Law School Fellow who worked on the landmark Unocal Case
5. Learn what you can do to help

We will be in Claverly Common Room to direct people to the new location.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Please Sign This Petition and Send to Your Friends!

Dear friends,

Burma's generals have brought their brutal iron hand down on peaceful monks and protesters -- but in response, a massive global outcry is gathering pace. The roar of global public opinion is being heard in hundreds of protests outside Chinese and Burmese embassies, people round the world wearing the monks' color red, and on the internet-- where our petition has exploded to over 200,000 signers in just 72 hours.

People power can win this. Burma's powerful sponsor China can halt the crackdown, if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government and other key countries, Avaaz is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign on Wednesday, including full page ads in the Financial Times and other newspapers, that will deliver our message and the number of signers. We need 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China's attention. If every one of us forwards this email to just 20 friends, we'll reach our target in the next 72 hours. Please sign the petition at the link below -if you haven't already- and forward this email to everyone you care about:


The pressure is working - already, there are signs of splits in the Burmese Army, as some soldiers refuse to attack their own people. The brutal top General, Than Shwe, has reportedly moved his family out of the country – he must fear his rule may crumble.

The Burmese people are showing incredible courage in the face of horror. We're broadcasting updates on our effort over the radio into Burma itself – telling the people that growing numbers of us stand with them. Let's do everything we can to help them. “ we have hours, not days, to do it. Please sign the petition and forward this email to at least 20 friends right now. Scroll down our petition page for details of times and events to join in the massive wave of demonstrations happening around the world at Burmese and Chinese embassies.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Pascal, Graziela, Galit, Ben, Milena and the whole Avaaz Team

Harvard Burma Action Movement

Hey Everyone!

To help everyone organize better, I've created a quick blog to keep track of action alerts, brainstorm ideas, and mobilize people to join.

I'll be updating this website with meeting minutes and a schedule of events. Please feel free to post/plan ideas or events as well.

Moderator (Shanti)