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  The Manassas Call for Worldwide Solidarity for a Democratic Burma:

Let’s Build Unity in Diversity in Our Diaspora and Beyond!

Dear Compatriots:

On July 12 and 13, 2003, about thirty compatriots from Burma of diverse backgrounds convened in the shadow of Virginia’s Manassas Battlefields of the American Civil War, to reaffirm our support and commitment to the people’s freedom struggle in our ancestral homeland. For two days, we explored ways to build a worldwide solidarity movement for Burma’s freedom and deliberated our resolve.

Although we presently reside thousands of miles away from our troubled birthplace, we are in solidarity with our fellow peoples inside Burma and throughout the democratic resistance-controlled areas of the country. We hereby pledge our unwavering support for our people’s struggle to regain their inalienable rights to live as free, dignified citizens in a nation governed by the rule of law and founded upon principles of democracy, respect for universal human rights, and appreciation for our country’s cultural, ethnic and religious diversity. In this, we share a common noble goal.

We are unanimous in our belief that we must pursue all means necessary to free Burma from the ruinous yoke of oppression by a handful of military elite, which for more than four decades have blatantly disregarded the manifest desire of our peoples to live under a representative government.

In the unending waves of popular pro-democracy uprisings since 1962, Burma’s peoples have made this indestructible democratic aspiration known to the country’s military rulers and to the international community, culminating in the 1990 multi-party elections in which the peoples gave the National League for Democracy and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi an overwhelming mandate to usher in a new, democratic era for Burma.

To date, the military rulers have blatantly disregarded this popular aspiration
-- and demand -- for freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights in our communities throughout the land.

Let us be reminded that we are indeed a nation blessed with diversity -- diversity of ideas, cultures, beliefs and talents. But almost half a century of the oppressive military rule has amplified our differences and historical grievances toward one another and wrought divisiveness in our midst, instead of unity and strength from our diversity.

We must undo the deep impact of the regime’s divide-and-rule policy and practice. We know that our country’s problems are the creations of the mind and they can – and must -- be solved only through our determined and coordinated efforts, dynamic and visionary leadership, and a democratic process. We thereby pledge to build solidarity and draw strength out of our rich diversity.

Basked in “grace under pressure,” we are Burma’s peoples noted for resilience, resourcefulness, kindness of heart and generosity of spirit toward neighbors and strangers alike.

It is they, the military dictators, who have made any and all attempts to crush our strengths and potentials, our desire and efforts to live as free and dignified peoples. They have robbed us of our right to freely associate with compatriots of kindred spirits; to assemble freely; and to deliberate and decide upon the Common Good of our neighborhoods, our communities and our nation.

We the peoples of Burma must not allow this destruction to continue. And we will not. As a nation, we are fit to meet the challenges attendant in a democratic nation building.

As we strive for freedom and democracy in Burma, each and every one of us must contribute to the urgent mission of building an effective, dynamic, and democratic leadership in and for our diaspora which in turn is capable of mobilizing our strengths and potentials in the service of Burma’s freedom struggle.

At this gathering in the shadow of Manassas, Virginia, where the American peoples fought to defend their Union, we have embarked on building a Global Solidarity Movement for a free Burma.

We call upon all compatriots, and our friends, the world over to descend on Washington, DC and participate in “Global Solidarity Rally for Burma’s Freedom” and/or organize and coordinate similar rallies in the world’s capitals on December 10, 2003, the International Human Rights Day.

Let the whole world know of our peoples’ epic struggle for our inalienable rights articulated in the American Declaration of Independence, demanded by the French Revolution and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Our immediate goal is to get a rally of 500-1,000 expatriates from Burma in Washington, DC.

Our long-term goal is to establish an expatriates’ forum and a fair and democratic process for all compatriots who care about Burma and her future.
The forum will be an important venue for all of us to voice our opinions, share our ideas, offer our talents, channel our energies, deliberate our decisions, and cultivate democratic habits, all in anticipation of democratic restoration and nation building in our presently beleaguered homeland.

Please heed this call and join hands with us.

Burma needs each and every one of us, wherever we may be. And she needs us NOW!

Burma will be free.

Signed

See the attached list of the signers and their bios.

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The Manassas Call for Worldwide Solidarity for a Democratic Burma

Signers and their brief biographical sketches

Aung Kyaw Oo

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Democratic Burmese Students Organization & Buddhist Rakhine Cultural Association; Computer graphic artist and specialist; studied at Rangoon University, Bergen Community College, New Jersey, and George Washington University; Resides in Maryland, USA.

Aung Saw Oo (un-authorized bio)

Activist in the 1975 Hmaing Rarpyi Uprising and 1988 popular pro-democracy uprising; former political prisoner (1976-78 & 82-84); Studied at Institute of Dental Medicine, Rangoon; Member of Presidium, the National Coalition of the Union of Burma (NCUB); Resides in Maryland, USA.

Aung Thu Nyein

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Enrolled in the Institute of Medicine II (Rangoon); Served the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front as a member, elected Vice-Chair (1992-1996) and General Secretary (1996-2000) & Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS) as elected Vice-Chair (2000); Studied at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2002 and earned Masters in Public Administration; resides in Maryland, USA.

Bo Bo Kyaw Nyein

Pro-democracy activist since 1974 U Thant Uprising; Former political prisoner (1974-79); Joined the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma
(CRDB) and worked closely with the late U Tin Maung Win; Specialist in the Communications Sector; Graduated from the Rangoon Institute of Technology and earned Masters of Science (Mathematics) from Western Illinois University; resides in Herndon, Virginia, USA.

Bush Gulati

Active with the pro-democracy activities of Burma’s exiles since 1986 serving in various organizational and individual capacities; Advisor to the late Prime Minister U Nu in his pro-democracy campaigns; Chair, Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma (Canadian Chapter); Appointed Canadian Representative of the Burmese exile government, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma; Lobbied successfully the Canadian government support for the Burmese exile government; Tutor in English, Rangoon University (1962-65), lecturer in legal drafting in English, University of Rajasthan, India (1965-67), Tutor and later Professor of English, City College, Toronto (1967-2002); Educated at Mandalay University, Delhi University and York University, Canada.

Chan Min

Resides in California. Bio-data unavailable at the time of this writing.

Henry Soe Win (un-authorized bio)

Pro-democracy activist since 1974 U Thant Uprising; Took up refuge in Australia. Founder, Democracy for Burma (D4B Listserv). Studied at Rangoon Institute of Technology.

Ko Ko Lay

Pro-democracy activist in 1974 U Thant Uprisings and 1988 Uprisings; Served the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) as Secretary of Information of Public Relations and elected Central Executive Committee Member (1988); Founder “Burma Image” and “Association of Burmese Students in San Francisco”: Professional Photographer; Studied philosophy at Rangoon University; Resides in San Francisco, USA.

Kyaw Win

Pro-democracy activist in exile for 35 years; Publisher and Editor, The Burma Bulletin (1973-92); Editor, Saturday Son, Burma’s Prime Minister U Nu’s Autobiography (Yale University Press, 1975); Founding President, the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma (1987); Founding Board Director, Institute for Community and Institutional Development -Burma; Advisor, Free Burma Coalition; Professor Emeritus of Counseling Psychology, Orange Coast College, California; Earned MA in Psychology/Education from Arizona State University and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California.

Kyi Win

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings in Rangoon; Studied electrical engineering at the Rangoon Institute of Technology; Full-time organizer, active with exiled pro-democracy organizations in Japan; Resides in Tokyo, Japan.

Mahn Robert Ba Zan (un-authorized bio)

Joined the Karen National Union and served as Major in the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA); Currently with the Karen Solidarity Organization; Studied in Rangoon; Resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Maung Maung Than

(Bio-data unavailable at this writing).

Min Zaw Oo

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Joined the All Burma Democratic Students’ Front in Tenasserim Division; Studied Public Relations and Politics at the University of Maryland –College Park and earned a MS in Conflict Resolution from George Mason University (2002); Active with the Democratic Party for a New Society and directed the educational and capacity building initiatives of the Institute for Community and Institutional Development – Burma (ICID) in Thailand (2002-03); Will soon join the Free Burma Coalition as Director of Strategic Research; Resides in Washington, DC.

Moe Chan

Co-founded the Free Burma Coalition, New York Chapter; Part-time texi driver; Studied Theatre and earned a BA at Queens College, City University of New York; Resides in New York, New York.

Moethee Zun

A leading voice and organizer in the 1988 pro-democracy uprisings and co-campaigner with Min Ko Naing; Founder, Democratic Society for a New Society (in Burma); Elected Chairman, All Burma Students’ Democratic Front; Advisor, Free Burma Coalition; Currently part-time taxi driver in New York; Completed undergraduate studies at Rangoon University; Currently pursuing a Masters’ degree in International Affairs at Columbia University; Resides in New York, New York.

Naing Soe

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Resides in New York; bio unavailable as of this writing.

Nyi Nyi Than

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Resides in New York; bio unavailable as of this writing.


Phone Myint Tun (unauthorized bio)

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Member of Thon-yaung-chee or Tri-Colors, Security Wing of the National League for Democracy; Former political prisoner; Resides in Tokyo, Japan.

Ronny Thoung Nyein (un-authorized bio)

Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Organizer with the Patriotic Veterans’ Association of Burma; Graduated from the Defence Services Academy (DSA); Formal Naval Officer and Businessman; Active in exile political organizations based in Japan; Resides in Yokohama, Japan.

Sein Myint

Joined the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma (CRDB) in 1988; Member the Technical Advisory Network (TAN), Burma Fund (2000); Advisor to Justice for Human Rights in Burma (JHB) (2002-present); Vice-President (Engineering), Marioff Inc., Maryland, USA; Graduated from the Rangoon Institute of Technology in 1973; Studied at the University of Essex and earned Engineering Doctorate from the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (1991). Resides in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Show Ei Ei Tun

Joined the pro-democracy movement of political exiles after coming to the United States in 1996; Studied at the Institute of Medicine (I) in Rangoon; Earned her B.A. in Economics and Finance from Eastern University (2002); Research assistant at the World Conservation Union (2002-03) and currently at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Resides in Washington, DC, USA

Than Aung

Active in politics since 1964 and participated in the 1988 uprisings as part of the Post and Telecommunications Activist Group; Vice-president, Burma Watch International, Canada; Divisional Engineer, Post and Telecommunications Corporation, Ministry of Post and Telecom, Burma; Studied at Rangoon University; Earned MSc in Engineering from the Technical Universit, Dresden, East Germany; Resides in Alberta, Canada.

Tun Kyaw Nyein

Active in Burma’s pro-democracy movements since 1974 U Thant Uprising; Imprisoned, along with his younger brother Bo Bo Kyaw Nyein, from 1974-79; Studied at the Institute of Medicine (I), Rangoon; Earned M.B., B.S. (Rangoon), MS (Western Illinois University) and Ph.D. in Health Education (University of Tennessee); Former Professor and Currently Administrator with the North Carolina Central University; Resides in Chapel Hills, North Carolina, USA.

Victor Win (Un-authorized bio)

Active in the pro-democracy activities of Burmese expatriates and exiles in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the American labor movement; President, BADA; Studied at Rangoon University. Resides in San Francisco, California.

Win Win Nu

Bio-data unavailable as of this writing.

Zar Ni

Active in the pro-democracy activities of Burmese exiles in the United States since 1988 uprisings; founder and director, the Free Burma Coalition (1995-present); Founded the Institute for Community and Institutional Development or ICID (1998) to facilitate the education and leadership development of top-flight Burmese activists; Established the ICID Consortium of ICID Universities in London in 2002; Former English teacher, Mandalay (1984-87) & Assistant Professor of Education, National Louis University (2000-01); Fellow, the Next Generation Leadership Program, The Rockefeller Foundation, USA (2001-2003); Full-time activist; Earned a BSc in Chemistry (Mandalay University), an MA in Education (University of California) & a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Resides in San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA.

 
     
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