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An Open Letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
The United Nations
S-3800, United Nations,
New York, N.Y. 10017, USA

March 18, 2008  

Your Excellency,  

I would like to acknowledge your efforts to overcome the political stalemate and bring about a speedy political transition to democracy in Burma. The dictatorship is wrong, harmful, and has no place in Burma, and your efforts to reject this regime are appreciated.

You and your predecessors have sent various envoys trips to Burma to address this matter. Unfortunately, however, your efforts have failed to secure even the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, nor to broker truthful and meaningful dialog. Your efforts have also failed to realize any progress towards establishing democracy in Burma.

In recent history, the people of Burma have repeatedly rejected dictatorship through various means, including uprisings and an historic election.  In 1988 they rose up, only to be brutally crushed. In 1990, the people overwhelmingly voted for the National League for Democracy and its representatives in Burma’s historic Election, but the results were put aside. The people rose up against the brutal regime yet again last year in September and October. As always, the regime responded with ruthless force and brutal crackdowns while the world watched.

The people of Burma have endured so much hardship and suffering in the past 46 years due to successive brutal and dictatorial regimes. Charles Petrie, top UN officer in the Myanmar Country Team, has released very grim data on the plight of the Burmese people on the occasion of UN Day on Oct 24, 2007.  In fact, during all these years of UN involvement and visits by the UN envoys, the country has sunken even deeper into poverty. The people continue to suffer greatly and our opposition has been crushed ever more fiercely, while the regime’s grip on power has flourished and its officials and their cronies have thrived more than ever.

The world was on edge during the protests and crackdowns in late 2007, hoping the UN would help bring about progress, but now the regime is again strengthening its authority and legalizing military rule through the one-sided and sham process called the Roadmap to Democracy. The historic results of the 1990 election will be erased forever in Burma through this fake referendum to be held in May, 2008, and people will be forced to accept a constitution with which they do not agree.

Your envoy’s last visit to Burma from March 6 to March 10 has failed yet again. The regime has not only openly denied Aung San Suu Kyi, her party, and her elected representatives any role in the process they are working toward, but it has also clearly rejected any international interference.

Therefore, it is clear that your powerless and low-level envoy’s visits to Burma have in effect helped the regime buy time and quell the world's outrage and anger over various crackdowns, while allowing them to elude the international community. Your envoy’s meager efforts have allowed the regime to realize their true ambition of holding on to power at any cost.

It has been clear to us for many years, and should be clear to you by now, that there is no more room for low-level and powerless envoy visits to Burma. They will not bring about change, as we have already seen. Any more attempts of such ineffective diplomacy will only waste our precious time, and give more time to the dictatorship to bury its roots even deeper in Burma. The time has come for you and the United Nations Security Council to step up and get tough on the regime. As proven by the already-demonstrated facts, anything short of powerful diplomacy backed by the measures outlined by the Security Council will be more harmful than helpful to Burma and her people.  The Regime does not understand diplomacy; it understands the voice of power. In fulfilling your priority of building a stronger United Nations for a better world, you must make sure Burma issues are resolved in a speedy and peaceful manner. It is time for you to get involved as the General Secretary of the world's body.  

Furthermore, the time has arrived for the United Nations Security Council to start taking concrete measures through binding resolution calling for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners; establishing a comprehensive arms embargo; and enforcing strong collective and comprehensive economic and financial sanctions. Only forceful measures will change the regime's attitude and their continued refusal to release their grip on power, through a peaceful and truly democratic process. Therefore we call upon you to:

  1. Visit Burma with due respect to help break the political stalemate as the world's most powerful diplomat.
  2. Start providing leadership in establishing, through binding resolutions, the concrete actions outlined above by the Security Council.  


Nyunt Than
Burmese American Democratic Alliance