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How to establish Peace and Security in Burma

by Zin Linn, Asian Tribune, Jan 25, 2008

Paris, France -- Two venerable Buddhist abbots, U Pannya Vamsa, from Penang and U Uttara from London, are journeying on a worldwide tour, which includes Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, India, Europe and the United States to gain support from leaders around the world for political change urgently needed in Burma.

An immediate summit between Burma's military junta and opposition leader Aung

San Suu Kyi is now sought in order to commence a genuine reform in Burma. They criticized the reconciliation process sponsored by the United Nations which was too slow to create such a favorite meeting. They believed that waiting for United Nations to mediate and solve the crisis in Burma is unacceptable.

The appeal of the two monks is now bringing attention to Burma. Making peace a reality in Burma is now being discussed in many parts of the world.

Burmese monks from all over the world have formed the International Burmese Monks Organization, under the leadership of two Senior Monks, Masoerain Sayardaw (Great Abbot of Masoerain Monastery in Mandalay and New York ) and Penang Sayardaw U Pannya Vamsa. The two abbots helped to set up the International Burmese Monks Organization (IBMO) in Los Angeles in October after monks in Burma were killed in street protests in September 2007.

Head of the Penang Buddhist monastery in Malaysia, Venerable Abbot U Pannya Vamsa (80) paid a 5-day visit to Thailand in mid-January. As President of the International Burmese Monks Organization (IBMO), U Pannya Vamsa arrived in Bangkok on 12 January, accompanied by Venerable Abbot U Uttara (50), chief of the Sasana-Ramsi-Vihara in London. The next day, two venerable abbots were welcomed by various groups in Mae Sot on Thai-Burma border. There they have successfully organized a Thai branch IBMO consisted of over 20 monks presided by venerable abbot U Centita who came out of Burma after the Saffron Revolution.

Some important objectives of the International Burmese Monks Organization ( IBMO) are to spread the Buddhism around the globe, to publish teaching of Buddha and education in Buddhism, to protect or look after the interest and perpetuation of Buddha’s Sasana, to establish good relationship with other various religions in order to cooperate on common subjects, and to serve for the interest and peace of all human beings throughout the world.

On 15 January, during a meeting - under the title of “How to Establish Peace and Security in Burma?” - With civil society in Bangkok, the two abbots denounced the Burmese military junta for its continuous atrocities upon the Buddhist monks inside the country. The Penang Abbot U Pannya Vamsa said that the roots of country's crisis are in the military's denial to hand over power after Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) won the 1990 general election. The junta now declares it is following its own seven-step "road map" to democracy that is supposed to conclude in free elections, though it has not set a timeline for the procedure.

The two venerable Burmese monks also expressed their plan and opinion on the night of 15 January at the press briefings held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), accompanied by one of Thailand's most prominent social critics, Dr. Sulak Sivaraksa and Dr. Phra Maha Boonchuay Sirindharo from Maha Chulalongkorn Buddhist University, Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai.

U. Uttara showed his displeasure by saying that even the situation in Burma is very critical, the UN special envoy for Burma, Ibrahim Gambari has to wait for visa approval, before entering Burma. Besides, the Security Council also cannot make any progress due to member countries have different opinion based on their own interest. Actually, Burma needs a rapid change and it is fed up with waiting for the UN process, which was hindered by bureaucracy mechanism. The IBMO called on leaders around the world to support its demand for an immediate summit between Burma's military junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in order to commence a genuine reform in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi, detained leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), offered an olive branch to Burma's military rulers last November, saying she was ready to take part in a regular, meaningful and time-bound reconciliation talks in the interest of national unity.

The statement by Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), also called for the inclusion of ethnic and political groups in dialogue. "In the interest of the nation I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process a success," she articulated in her statement read out in Singapore by the UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari. "I am committed to pursue the path of dialogue constructively and invite the government and all relevant parties to join me in this spirit," she pronounced clearly.

But, the inflexible military regime not only took into account of the thoughtfully composed statement but also discredit on the leader of the NLD through its media. It happened during the facilitating period of the UN’s special envoy. That means the junta has no intention of changing its mind toward democratic reform urged by the international community.

According to U. Uttara of IBMO, monks and people can no longer keep hoping for a talk between the military and Aung San Suu Kyi to produce good results. It is time to take the opportunity that come to IBMO and it has to accept its role to bring peace to people of Burma. So, he calls on the brethren Buddhist monks to be united to support political change in the country.

U. Pannya Vamsa emphasized support from neighboring countries was very important in restoration of democracy in Burma, especially to press for a substantive dialogue.

To crack up the junta’s obstinacy, the monk organizations inside and outside give their mandates to Penang Abbot U. Pannya Vamsa to set up the IBMO, which has to beef up the protests against the junta until it agreed to stop human rights abuses and accept to come forward for a substantive reconciliation talks.

According to U. Pannya Vamsa, IBMO will seek unity among various dissident groups inside and outside of Burma.

“I want to encourage you, people of Burma, to be united as one and all. We cannot achieve our goal without strong unity within us. You shouldn't emphasize only on the interest of your group or party. All groups must work together for the cause of the nation’s freedom. Unity is the key question to overthrow the military dictatorship. We are still in the vicious circle because of disunity. So, to gain our goal, keep the spirit of unity at the first place”, said the venerable abbot.

The secretary of the organization, the venerable U. Uttara also said, “IBMO will do its best organizing a peaceful movement of people on the twentieth anniversary of the 8th August uprising which sparked in 1988. So, we are starting our global tour to organize all parties under one banner in order to work for the country’s freedom. We need concerted effort to change Burma into a free state. IBMO has been seeking to gain support from leaders around the world for political change in Burma”.

Zin Linn is a freelance Burmese journalist in exile. He spent nine years in a Burmese prison. He works as an information director of the NCGUB. He is also an executive member of the Burma Media Association, which is affiliated to the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers.

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