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Open Letter to Mr. Barack Obama President of United States of America

By Young People from Myanmar  •  November 17, 2014

Open Letter to Mr. Barack Obama
President of United States of America

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to you to inform you about current situation in Myanmar and the reality on the ground from the perspective of young people. Allow us to get straight to what we want you to know. Current reform in Myanmar is fake. Changes that have happened are cosmetic to please the international community to attract investments to get the old regime out of economic isolation. We do not believe this reform process is going to take us anywhere because the motivation for reform is insincere. We want genuine democracy and national reconciliation.

Almost 4 years ago when the military regime made a sudden decision to undertake reform, many people and actors particularly the international community believed it was the end of military rule, so were we as young people. Parliaments were established and new nominally civilian government was inaugurated. However new political landscape has brought new challenges that never before we have seen.

Land confiscation is widespread as the government makes way for investments. Political prisoners were released but many remain behind bars and many more are being arrested and facing charges. Oppressive laws are still in place and new laws are being regulated amid numerous objections by the people and civil societies. These laws are threatening reform process and intimidating us. Ceasefire process is facing a deadlock with no side willing to compromise. Meanwhile thousands of people in IDP camps who have fled fighting in Kachin State and Northern Shan State, this year, havereceived less than half of the aids and assistance that used to be provided to them. Religious tensions and communal violence throughout the country and particularly in Arakan State, and we believe they have been largely driven by incitements of people who seek political benefit and who are waiting to pull the trigger at time of crisis.

Institutionally, all we gain was a new political landscape and improved media freedom. There is no educational reform and security sector reform, There is no guarantee for a free and fair election in 2015. Chances of amending the 2008 constitution are invisible. Meanwhile the military is too powerful, untouchable, and enjoying the deep-rooted impunity. All these unreformed institutions are still serving the interests of the old regime and ensuring that they remain in absolute power, or even strengthen their power by means of economic gains through new investment opportunities. Indeed, the only change we see institutionally is the opening up of investment and aids that primarily benefit regime of old time. Today they are still in power and they are still in Business.

After more than 60 years of struggle and sacrifices, this is all that was given to us and there is no sign or indication that this situation is going to improve unless we stop praising the government and start talking about the reality. The Lady, DawAung San SuuKyi warned that your administration may be is being “overly optimistic” about the situation. Likewise, The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Ms. Yanghee Lee warned at the 69th UN General Assembly of “signs of possible backtracking”. For people like us who are dealing with this broken system on the ground on a daily basis, we feel far worse than that. Therefore we would like you, Mr. President, to support the people’s struggle at this time like you always had during the time of hardship under military dictator in the past. We urge you and your administration to stop praising the government and start speaking out effectively about the remaining issues and take concrete measures that reflect the crisis that we are facing. We also urge you to put human rights and democracy first before other interests in your engagement with the government. Finally, we urge you and your administration to increase supports and assistance to the struggle of people, civil society and youth operating on the ground.


Young People from Myanmar

We are a group of young people who with diverse background who are committed to achiving a genuine social and democratic change, human rights, equality and justices in Myanmar. We are students, activists, community social workers, and member of local and regional Non-Governmental Organizations.

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This post is in: Children and Youth

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