An online campaign by a Christian rights group was launched Wednesday to raise public awareness and press for political change in Burma, which has one of the world’s most brutal military regimes known for using violence to silence critics and for its ethnic cleansing campaign.
The Web site, “Change for Burma!” is created by two U.K.-based groups - Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Partners Relief and Development - that are calling the United Nations to increase pressure for change in Burma (also known as Myanmar).
Its launch day is exactly a year after the country’s largest pro-democracy protests in 20 years. Tens of thousands of people, led by Buddhist monks, had protested last year against government violence and economic hardship throughout streets in Burma, resulting in hundreds of peaceful protesters killed by police and military forces.
The campaign also comes a day before the 20th anniversary of the seizure of power by Burma’s current military junta – the latest in a succession of military regimes that have ruled the country since 1962.
“This is an exciting new campaign to mobilize people to use their freedom to promote Burma’s freedom,” said CSW’s advocacy officer for South Asia, Benedict Rogers.
Rogers, author of A Land without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma’s Karen People, has visited Burma and its borderlands 23 times during which he witnessed the people’s suffering firsthand.
“The struggle for human rights in Burma deserves as much attention as South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement received, and our aim is to inspire and equip people to rise up and demand real action,” he said.
Organizers seek to inform the public about the army military’s frequent attacks on villages of ethnic minorities including the Karen, Karenni, and Chin people – who are mostly Christians – and systematic rape of ethnic women.
The Chin population in Burma is about 90 percent Christian and is severely persecuted by Burma’s traditionally pro-Buddhist military regime.
Burma has one of the world’s worst religious freedom records and is repeatedly designated by the State Department as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) – the worst religious freedom violator label.
Visitors on the “Change for Burma!” Web site can email British Members of Parliament to urge them to ask the U.N. Security Council to bring the Burmese government before the International Criminal Court. They hope the ICC will impose a universal arms embargo on the country.
On the Web: http://www.changeforburma