Enote 22 – Charm Tong in Washington

November 22, 2005

A little dusting of snow in the hills around Hamilton has prompted Liz and I to start planning more aggressively for our trip to Asia. We have our visas, tickets and itinerary. It remains for us to communicate with our students, project leaders and those coming with us, to setup detailed schedules and appointments.

Question:
Do you find substantial differences between the different ethnic groups in Burma?

Answer:
Yes indeed. For example, I have remarked on the hospitality and friendliness of the Karen people. The Chin people in India are very fractious do not easily work together on common projects. We are doing quite a bit of "development" work in bringing Chin Women's groups to understand responsible ways of dealing with us and those in their care.

Notes from a conference in Washington

Charm Thong with President BushLiz and I attended a conference on October 26 at the Brookings Institution with many colleagues, NGO workers, government officers, and a few refugees from Burma. One was Charm Tong, a young woman who fled Burma some years ago. She been very active in promoting the cause of Human Rights particularly among Shan women. In 2002 working with SWAN, the Shan Women's Active Network, she help to write "License to Rape" which documents systematic abuse of Shan women by the Burmese military. She presented an update on the situation there at the conference. Later she was fortunate to have a meeting with President Bush to plead the cause of her people and all people of Burma. (I suppose I should add that the Brackett Foundation supports two of her sisters in university in Thailand. I should also add that I did not take this picture, but I did see it from more than one source on the internet.)

Woman with ChildAn interesting panel discussion brought together Peter Yeo, US House Committee on International Relations, Heng Chee Chan, Ambassador from Singapore to the United States, and Jared Genser, of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary a global law firm. Peter Yeo expressed the standard position that the US is interested in having ASEAN, the association of south eastern Asian nations, put increased pressure on Burma to change their deplorable behavior towards their people, and to deal seriously with the forces of democracy in Burma. Jared Genser discussed a report commissioned by Nobel Laureates Desmond Tutu and Václav Havel , and prepared by his firm calling to the UN Security Council for action on the Burma issue. Heng Chee Chan made clear that from the point of view of most if not all of the nations in ASEAN, pressure would be counterproductive, and have the effect of increasing the already strong isolation of Burma from the society of free nations. For an American who impatiently looks for solutions to the long standing problems of that country, it was an instructive debate. The picture is taken from the cover of the report "Threat to Peace" discussed by Jared Genser. If you are interested in a copy of this document, you may contact Jared Genser, Esq.; DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary US LLP; 1200 Nineteenth St., NW; Washington, D.C. 20036-2412.

October, November Activities

  • Oct.–Nov.: Receiving and processing donations from our annual fund drive. (If you have given to us yet this year, please make your gift as soon as you can.)
  • Oct. 23: Visited First Parish Church in Weston, Massachusetts. Tom discussed the origins and motivations of the Brackett Foundation, and Liz gave a picture discussion of refugees to the church school children.
  • Oct. 26: Attended a conference on "Burma: Looking Forward" in Washington, D.C.
  • Early Nov.: Formulating plans to meet with the Open Society Institute in New York city, to discuss common interests in education for refugees.
  • Nov. 1: Attending a conference on "Non-Profit Best Practices" in Syracuse.
  • Nov. 10-12: Submitted letters of enquiry to the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, the Global Children's Fund, and the Omidyar Network, concerning cooperation to help Chin children in Mizoram.
  • Nov. 14: Met with Maureen Aung-Thwin of the Open Society Institute to discuss possibilities for cooperation to help the Chin people in Mizoram State India.

 

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