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Toronto Declaration

By 88 Generation Conference  •  July 5, 2013

On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Burmese Democracy Movement, the most elaborate ’88 Generation Conference’ was held from June 28 to June 30, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. Over a hundred 88 Generation activists attended from U.S, Canada, and Asia. A number of prominent 88 Generation activists from Burma also participated via the Skype.

The Conference thanks the Government of Canada, especially Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister Jason Kenney, and Canadian political leaders including Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and chairperson of Parliamentary Friends of Burma (PFOB), for sending messages in honor of the Conference. We also appreciate Ms. Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary for International Cooperation, for her attendance and effort to deliver Prime Minister’s and Minister’s messages. We especially thank the Government of Canada for making a stunning announcement in the opening session of the Conference to recognize an 88 Generation activist for promoting Canada’s role in support of the Burmese Democracy Movement with a ‘Diamond Jubilee Medal’.

This historic conference, the first of its kind in Canada, yet being the biggest and the most celebrated one, was organized by a committee consists of individual activists, members of Burmese Student’s Democratic Organization (BSDO) and Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB), with the objectives of 1) a reunion of 88 Generation in exile, 2) a reflection of a 25-year journey of the struggle for democracy in Burma, and 3) seeking resolutions based upon common ground for future endeavors. In a show of solidarity, this Conference is also held in conjunction with a similar ’88 Generation Conference’ that is taking place from July 5 to 7, 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.

Participants in the Conference addressed contemporary and compelling issues of Burma by categorizing into four different panel discussions held at Toronto City Hall from June 29th to 30th.  The following are common ground and positions of majority of participants in the Conference:

Political Development and Challenges Ahead:

  • We are determined to continue the effort for national reconciliation, peace, and a genuine federal union of Burma;
  • We believe that the amendment of the 2008 Constitution must be the fundamental key to the current political reform process;
  • We have decided that we would try to monitor the process of 2015 elections in Burma by seeking an official monitoring status;
  • We call for a general amnesty that is essential part of the ongoing reform process;
  • We believe that reform must be synchronized in politics, economics and management;

Economic Development:

  • We believe that peace is the necessity for economic development and improvement in infrastructure and electricity is the primary of the economic development in Burma;
  • And enhancement of small enterprises is a way to minimize economic monopoly and cronyism;
  • We clearly see that agricultural-based Burma’s economy would not be able to improve unless issues of land grabbing with unjust laws are justly handled;
  • We put an emphasis on socially and environmentally responsible investment and encourage foreign investments that create jobs and employment.

Ethnic Nationalities:

  • We recognize the important role of ethnic minorities in the Burmese Democracy Movement and their moral and material support, especially to thousands of 88 students and activists who reached to their revolution areas after the brutal military crackdowns in 1988;
  • We believe that there is a need to build a genuine federal union of Burma based on equality and self-determination;
  • We believe that there is an urgent need to call for a nation-wide ceasefire for peace and national reconciliation;
  • We urge a mechanism of resource sharing, especially for poverty reduction and improvement of education in the ethnic minority areas;
  • A national seminar similar to the ‘Panglong’ should be held among Burmese democratic forces and ethnic minorities;

The role of 88 Generation:

  • We salute, recognize, and record those who sacrificed their lives in the democracy movement;
  • We call for a mutual recognition and understanding between 88 Generation inside and in exile;
  • We call for a legal status of Student Union in Burma and would support the construction effort of historic student union building that was demolished in July 8, 1962 by the military regime;
  • We are committed to support ongoing capacity building of civil society organizations in Burma and a mechanism for remaining family members of those who sacrificed their lives.
  • Therefore, we recommend a setup of ’88 Generation Fund’ to provide a tangible support and create ’88 Generation Freedom and Democracy Medal’ to honor those who paid their lives in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.
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