Toward Democracy, Human Rights and Federalism

Friday, February 3, 2012

Khun Myint Tun Addresses Amnest International Political Prisoners Speaking Event

Wednesday, December 10 2008, 12:34 PM EST

Khun Myint Tun, member of Standing Committee of the Memberrs of Parliament Union and member of the Secretariat of the Naitonal Council of the Union of Burma, recounts his experiences as a political prisoner in Burma and calls on the international community to decalare that the junta's 2008 constitution and 2010 election are not legitimate. He also urges the United States to extend Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003.

Presentation by Khun Myint Tun
Member of Parliament, National League for Democracy
Member of Secretariat, National Council of the Union of Burma

Good Evening!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the National Council of the Union of Burma, please allow me to send you our warmest greetings. Also on behalf of the People of Burma, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the people of the United States and their Government from the bottom of my heart for providing us strong political support over the years.

During the 8888 uprising, nationwide demand of the people was to end military rule and restore democracy and human rights in Burma. In general elections, people again expressed their will for a democratic change by overwhelmingly voting for the National League for Democracy (NLD) which is led by US Congress gold medalist and 1991 Nobel peace prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for over 13 years. The NLD won more than 82% of seats in the Parliament and obtained the mandate of the People to form a government. Since 1960, there was only one free and fair election and it was the 1990 election. We all recognized that the 1990 election was free and fair. The international community also acknowledged that it was legitimate.

After Depayin Massacre in 2003, US Congress and President enacted “Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, Public Law 108-61, 108th Congress”. It is “to sanction the ruling Burmese military junta, to strengthen Burma’s democratic forces and support and recognize the National League of (for) Democracy as the legitimate representative of the Burmese People”.

In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) expressly affirmed that “the will of the people is the basic of the authority of government and that the will of the people of Myanmar was clearly expressed in the elections held in 1990.” The General Assembly reaffirmed this finding in its most recent (2007-resolution, UNGA Res. 62.222)

To solve our country problem peacefully among many conflicts, we need a common ground and a guarantee. The question is who will give them to whom with what. Solving our political issues within the Parliament, which is based on 1990 election results, would be the best for our country. We can get a common ground and a guarantee from it.

As the General Assembly has stated in numerous resolutions, the junta, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), continues to violate international law and treaties, domestic law including election law, and their agreements with the people.

The junta tries to delegitimize the 1990 elections result in many ways. I attended the National Convention from 1993 to 1995. After walking out from the National Convention, I was sentenced to seven years imprisonment because of my refusal to resign as a Member of Parliament. I had to stay in jail for seven years and three months. I had to sit on a stool for five days and five nights and I was not allowed to sleep at all while my head was covered with a black cloth. During our hunger strike in Kalay prison, 12 other political prisoners and I were cut out water including drinking water for five days. U Doe Htaung, MP from Kalay, upper Burma, was brutally hit by 2x1 wood stick. I witnessed with my own eyes of his ears clogged up with blood as a result of the junta’s torture. Even as the members of parliament, we experienced torture in jail. The National Convention was just only the National Detention.

In spite of the Security Council’s Presidential Statement which asked for all political prisoners to be released and the repeated requests from the Secretary General and his Special Representative, the military regime continues to suppress the democratic aspiration of the people. People were arrested when they attempt to exercise their fundamental human rights and subjected to long sentences in prison. When they are released, they are again in the big prison called Burma. After sending the congratulatory message from Senior General Than Shwe to the US Presidential Election Winner Mr. Obama, many student and monk leaders, NLD members and people were sentenced to 65 years to prison. In addition, they were transferred to jails that are away from their families. Most of them are former political prisoners who served long sentences before. For example, Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Ko Htay Kywe, Ko Thein Swe and Pandate Tun. So, with great concern, we would like to inform you and the US Government and international community that Burma is becoming Lawless State and there is state terrorism.

In reality, sentencing the democratic activists for long years is the political blackmail of the junta. The junta uses the political prisoners as the political hostages. If there is a crisis between the SPDC and the international community, the generals would release a few political prisoners. That should not be thought as a good gesture. Rather, we should take actions against their violations.

Therefore, sanctions are useful source of pressure and effective signal to the regime. Not only economic sanctions but also political sanctions are needed. We need a pressure mechanism to change our political system from military dictatorship to democracy. If there is no pressure, there will be no dialogue or compromise. The junta has no wish to change the political system. So, they ratified their 2008 sham constitution right after the Cyclone Nargis, unilaterally and forcefully. And then, they are trying to hold the 2010 election. Without recognizing the 1990 election results and holding 2010 election is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 21 Paragraph 3.

On May 27, 1998, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi publicly stated that,” holding a new election without recognizing the 1990 election results is like playing a dangerous game with the country’s future. That is why we cannot accept a new election”.

The facts that SPDC killed many monks and citizens during the Saffron Revolution in 2007, ignored the UN’s call and forcefully held the referendum right after the cyclone Nargis, rejected to allow the international monitoring group to monitor the referendum, and continued to sentence many political leaders to decades in prison prove that the junta is defying the calls of the U.S, the UN and the international community to hold a meaningful dialogue. Therefore, we request everyone to declare that the junta’s 2008 constitution and 2010 election are not legitimate so long as the SPDC refuses to hold a meaningful dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all concern parties. We also request the US to extend Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003.

Especially, we need a firm and strong relationship between the people of Burma and the people around the world. People power with People to People Diplomacy is essential. The people of Burma can get the hopes to restore the democracy in Burma because of the strong support of the international community. If there is another revolution like Saffron, strong support of the international community to the people of Burma will be needed. We need an international recognition to our democratic movement theoretically and practically.

Now, we are challenging the credentials of the SPDC at the United Nations. Additionally, we are trying to take legal actions against the junta at the US Federal Court according to the Alien Tort Claim Act. Without rule of law, we cannot bring democracy to Burma. The junta rules Burma with guns, not law. We have the mandate of our people. To end the military dictatorship system and restore democracy and human rights, we have to fight with our mandate against their guns.

On behalf of the people of Burma, who are being tortured and murdered for their struggle for freedoms, we ask every one of you to support our actions against one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi requested, please use your liberty to promote the liberty of the people of Burma. When promoting liberty for our people, I would like to request Amnesty International and everyone else to firstly help release all political prisoners in Burma. It is also our priority.

Lastly, we have the honor to speak here at the New York University. I thank you both, the Amnesty International and NYU, for giving me an opportunity. We have a great pride and pleasure because of the warm welcome of the people of the United States. We would like to thank all of you for giving us an opportunity to relay the messages of our people in Burma to you.

Thank you very much.

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