OUR CHALLENGE TO THE JUNTA: DIALOGUE OR REGIME CHANGE!

Defend the people of Burma, UN, ASEAN urged
OUR CHALLENGE TO THE JUNTA: DIALOGUE OR REGIME CHANGE!

Security forces reportedly surrounded six monasteries in Rangoon, the largest city in this deeply religious country. BBC, AP photoThousands of Buddhist monks, artists, and people in all walks of life are flooding the streets of Burma today. There is a nationwide general strike called by the All Burma Monk Alliance as they
peacefully trooped to about twenty-six (26) cities and towns across
the country. Knowing the way Burmese junta handles situation like
this—there is a massacre waiting to happen.

More than 200 people have already been arrested and detained, with
fear of being tortured and people from the media covering the events
are facing left and right harassments including confiscation of
cameras from the authorities.

This wave of protests inside Burma started August 23 in a quiet
march of about 40 demonstrators led by members of the opposition
National League for Democracy. This is to denounce the draconian
fuel price hike that is 500% arbitrary increase in diesel and
gasoline prices.

The spark of protests inside Burma turned big which is now similar
to a people power revolt. This reminds the international community
of the 1988 national uprising in Burma and the bloody memory of
violence where the junta killed the people’s aspirations for genuine
democracy and social justice.

Again, the people of Burma are now in the period of a very crucial
struggle. Very crucial because this recent struggle will change
their lives. They are fighting more than the oil price increase—they
are fighting for their lives and their basic right to live in a
democratic and peaceful society.

We, members of Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Philippines)
and Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) are one with the
people of Burma in their quest for justice, peace and democracy. We
urge the international community to be vigilant in these trying
times in Burma.

We also like to echo support to the following demands of the people
who are currently protesting even under heavy rains inside Burma:
1) For the government of Burma to address the basic needs of the
people; 2.) Release of all political prisoners including Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi and *3.) *For the genuine national reconciliation to
take place in Burma.

For the UN and the ASEAN, we believe that the time is ripe to
directly engage the Burmese military regime and convince the ruling
junta to initiate substantial and genuine reforms starting from
genuine tri-partite dialogue where all parties will be included.
This is the best time that ASEAN can prove that it is sincere in
building a truly caring and sharing ASEAN community. The UN on the
other hand, especially Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, should
personally work on bringing back the issue of Burma in the formal
agenda of the UN Security Council.

The junta already announced that it will take action against the
protesters. It is also alarming that people from the media are being
prevented from covering the recent events. World leaders should now
take immediate action to warn the Burmese regime from carrying out
this plan of violent crackdowns on the peaceful protesters.

The people of Burma are tired not just of their daily economic
struggles but more so, of the way the ruling military regime govern
their country. There is no rule of law in Burma. What prevails
instead is the law of the rulers who are unelected and unwanted by
the people.

We challenge the regime to sit down in a dialogue and listen to the
legitimate demands of the people of Burma. We strongly urge the
military regime not to employ brute force in dealing with protesters.

The international community can no longer afford to see another
massacre in Burma. The international community are watching and all
democracy-loving states and peace advocates are closely monitoring
the next move of the military regime. We urge the SPDC to choose
dialogue as a resolution to resolve the crisis in Burma. Failure to
do this will leave people of Burma and their supporters around the
world no other option but to call for a REGIME CHANGE.

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