|The Manassas Call for
Worldwide Solidarity for a Democratic Burma:
Let’s Build Unity in Diversity in Our Diaspora and Beyond!
On July 12 and 13, 2003, about thirty compatriots from Burma of
diverse backgrounds convened in the shadow of Virginia’s Manassas
Battlefields of the American Civil War, to reaffirm our support
and commitment to the people’s freedom struggle in our ancestral
homeland. For two days, we explored ways to build a worldwide solidarity
movement for Burma’s freedom and deliberated our resolve.
Although we presently reside thousands of miles away from our troubled
birthplace, we are in solidarity with our fellow peoples inside
Burma and throughout the democratic resistance-controlled areas
of the country. We hereby pledge our unwavering support for our
people’s struggle to regain their inalienable rights to live
as free, dignified citizens in a nation governed by the rule of
law and founded upon principles of democracy, respect for universal
human rights, and appreciation for our country’s cultural,
ethnic and religious diversity. In this, we share a common noble
We are unanimous in our belief that we must pursue all means necessary
to free Burma from the ruinous yoke of oppression by a handful of
military elite, which for more than four decades have blatantly
disregarded the manifest desire of our peoples to live under a representative
In the unending waves of popular pro-democracy uprisings since
1962, Burma’s peoples have made this indestructible democratic
aspiration known to the country’s military rulers and to the
international community, culminating in the 1990 multi-party elections
in which the peoples gave the National League for Democracy and
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi an overwhelming mandate to usher in a new,
democratic era for Burma.
To date, the military rulers have blatantly disregarded this popular
-- and demand -- for freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental
human rights in our communities throughout the land.
Let us be reminded that we are indeed a nation blessed with diversity
-- diversity of ideas, cultures, beliefs and talents. But almost
half a century of the oppressive military rule has amplified our
differences and historical grievances toward one another and wrought
divisiveness in our midst, instead of unity and strength from our
We must undo the deep impact of the regime’s divide-and-rule
policy and practice. We know that our country’s problems are
the creations of the mind and they can – and must -- be solved
only through our determined and coordinated efforts, dynamic and
visionary leadership, and a democratic process. We thereby pledge
to build solidarity and draw strength out of our rich diversity.
Basked in “grace under pressure,” we are Burma’s
peoples noted for resilience, resourcefulness, kindness of heart
and generosity of spirit toward neighbors and strangers alike.
It is they, the military dictators, who have made any and all attempts
to crush our strengths and potentials, our desire and efforts to
live as free and dignified peoples. They have robbed us of our right
to freely associate with compatriots of kindred spirits; to assemble
freely; and to deliberate and decide upon the Common Good of our
neighborhoods, our communities and our nation.
We the peoples of Burma must not allow this destruction to continue.
And we will not. As a nation, we are fit to meet the challenges
attendant in a democratic nation building.
As we strive for freedom and democracy in Burma, each and every
one of us must contribute to the urgent mission of building an effective,
dynamic, and democratic leadership in and for our diaspora which
in turn is capable of mobilizing our strengths and potentials in
the service of Burma’s freedom struggle.
At this gathering in the shadow of Manassas, Virginia, where the
American peoples fought to defend their Union, we have embarked
on building a Global Solidarity Movement for a free Burma.
We call upon all compatriots, and our friends, the world over to
descend on Washington, DC and participate in “Global Solidarity
Rally for Burma’s Freedom” and/or organize and coordinate
similar rallies in the world’s capitals on December 10, 2003,
the International Human Rights Day.
Let the whole world know of our peoples’ epic struggle for
our inalienable rights articulated in the American Declaration of
Independence, demanded by the French Revolution and enshrined in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our immediate goal is to get a rally of 500-1,000 expatriates from
Burma in Washington, DC.
Our long-term goal is to establish an expatriates’ forum
and a fair and democratic process for all compatriots who care about
Burma and her future.
The forum will be an important venue for all of us to voice our
opinions, share our ideas, offer our talents, channel our energies,
deliberate our decisions, and cultivate democratic habits, all in
anticipation of democratic restoration and nation building in our
presently beleaguered homeland.
Please heed this call and join hands with us.
Burma needs each and every one of us, wherever we may be. And she
needs us NOW!
Burma will be free.
See the attached list of the signers and their bios.
The Manassas Call for Worldwide Solidarity
for a Democratic Burma
Signers and their brief biographical sketches
Aung Kyaw Oo
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Democratic Burmese
Students Organization & Buddhist Rakhine Cultural Association;
Computer graphic artist and specialist; studied at Rangoon University,
Bergen Community College, New Jersey, and George Washington University;
Resides in Maryland, USA.
Aung Saw Oo (un-authorized bio)
Activist in the 1975 Hmaing Rarpyi Uprising and 1988 popular pro-democracy
uprising; former political prisoner (1976-78 & 82-84); Studied
at Institute of Dental Medicine, Rangoon; Member of Presidium, the
National Coalition of the Union of Burma (NCUB); Resides in Maryland,
Aung Thu Nyein
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Enrolled in the Institute
of Medicine II (Rangoon); Served the All Burma Students’ Democratic
Front as a member, elected Vice-Chair (1992-1996) and General Secretary
(1996-2000) & Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS) as elected
Vice-Chair (2000); Studied at Harvard’s Kennedy School of
Government in 2002 and earned Masters in Public Administration;
resides in Maryland, USA.
Bo Bo Kyaw Nyein
Pro-democracy activist since 1974 U Thant Uprising; Former political
prisoner (1974-79); Joined the Committee for the Restoration of
Democracy in Burma
(CRDB) and worked closely with the late U Tin Maung Win; Specialist
in the Communications Sector; Graduated from the Rangoon Institute
of Technology and earned Masters of Science (Mathematics) from Western
Illinois University; resides in Herndon, Virginia, USA.
Active with the pro-democracy activities of Burma’s exiles
since 1986 serving in various organizational and individual capacities;
Advisor to the late Prime Minister U Nu in his pro-democracy campaigns;
Chair, Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma (Canadian
Chapter); Appointed Canadian Representative of the Burmese exile
government, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma;
Lobbied successfully the Canadian government support for the Burmese
exile government; Tutor in English, Rangoon University (1962-65),
lecturer in legal drafting in English, University of Rajasthan,
India (1965-67), Tutor and later Professor of English, City College,
Toronto (1967-2002); Educated at Mandalay University, Delhi University
and York University, Canada.
Resides in California. Bio-data unavailable at the time of this
Henry Soe Win (un-authorized bio)
Pro-democracy activist since 1974 U Thant Uprising; Took up refuge
in Australia. Founder, Democracy for Burma (D4B Listserv). Studied
at Rangoon Institute of Technology.
Ko Ko Lay
Pro-democracy activist in 1974 U Thant Uprisings and 1988 Uprisings;
Served the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) as
Secretary of Information of Public Relations and elected Central
Executive Committee Member (1988); Founder “Burma Image”
and “Association of Burmese Students in San Francisco”:
Professional Photographer; Studied philosophy at Rangoon University;
Resides in San Francisco, USA.
Pro-democracy activist in exile for 35 years; Publisher and Editor,
The Burma Bulletin (1973-92); Editor, Saturday Son, Burma’s
Prime Minister U Nu’s Autobiography (Yale University Press,
1975); Founding President, the Committee for the Restoration of
Democracy in Burma (1987); Founding Board Director, Institute for
Community and Institutional Development -Burma; Advisor, Free Burma
Coalition; Professor Emeritus of Counseling Psychology, Orange Coast
College, California; Earned MA in Psychology/Education from Arizona
State University and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University
of Southern California.
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings in Rangoon; Studied
electrical engineering at the Rangoon Institute of Technology; Full-time
organizer, active with exiled pro-democracy organizations in Japan;
Resides in Tokyo, Japan.
Mahn Robert Ba Zan (un-authorized bio)
Joined the Karen National Union and served as Major in the Karen
National Liberation Army (KNLA); Currently with the Karen Solidarity
Organization; Studied in Rangoon; Resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Maung Maung Than
(Bio-data unavailable at this writing).
Min Zaw Oo
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Joined the All Burma
Democratic Students’ Front in Tenasserim Division; Studied
Public Relations and Politics at the University of Maryland –College
Park and earned a MS in Conflict Resolution from George Mason University
(2002); Active with the Democratic Party for a New Society and directed
the educational and capacity building initiatives of the Institute
for Community and Institutional Development – Burma (ICID)
in Thailand (2002-03); Will soon join the Free Burma Coalition as
Director of Strategic Research; Resides in Washington, DC.
Co-founded the Free Burma Coalition, New York Chapter; Part-time
texi driver; Studied Theatre and earned a BA at Queens College,
City University of New York; Resides in New York, New York.
A leading voice and organizer in the 1988 pro-democracy uprisings
and co-campaigner with Min Ko Naing; Founder, Democratic Society
for a New Society (in Burma); Elected Chairman, All Burma Students’
Democratic Front; Advisor, Free Burma Coalition; Currently part-time
taxi driver in New York; Completed undergraduate studies at Rangoon
University; Currently pursuing a Masters’ degree in International
Affairs at Columbia University; Resides in New York, New York.
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Resides in New York;
bio unavailable as of this writing.
Nyi Nyi Than
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Resides in New York;
bio unavailable as of this writing.
Phone Myint Tun (unauthorized bio)
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Member of Thon-yaung-chee
or Tri-Colors, Security Wing of the National League for Democracy;
Former political prisoner; Resides in Tokyo, Japan.
Ronny Thoung Nyein (un-authorized bio)
Pro-democracy activist since 1988 uprisings; Organizer with the
Patriotic Veterans’ Association of Burma; Graduated from the
Defence Services Academy (DSA); Formal Naval Officer and Businessman;
Active in exile political organizations based in Japan; Resides
in Yokohama, Japan.
Joined the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma
(CRDB) in 1988; Member the Technical Advisory Network (TAN), Burma
Fund (2000); Advisor to Justice for Human Rights in Burma (JHB)
(2002-present); Vice-President (Engineering), Marioff Inc., Maryland,
USA; Graduated from the Rangoon Institute of Technology in 1973;
Studied at the University of Essex and earned Engineering Doctorate
from the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology
(1991). Resides in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Show Ei Ei Tun
Joined the pro-democracy movement of political exiles after coming
to the United States in 1996; Studied at the Institute of Medicine
(I) in Rangoon; Earned her B.A. in Economics and Finance from Eastern
University (2002); Research assistant at the World Conservation
Union (2002-03) and currently at the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars; Resides in Washington, DC, USA
Active in politics since 1964 and participated in the 1988 uprisings
as part of the Post and Telecommunications Activist Group; Vice-president,
Burma Watch International, Canada; Divisional Engineer, Post and
Telecommunications Corporation, Ministry of Post and Telecom, Burma;
Studied at Rangoon University; Earned MSc in Engineering from the
Technical Universit, Dresden, East Germany; Resides in Alberta,
Tun Kyaw Nyein
Active in Burma’s pro-democracy movements since 1974 U Thant
Uprising; Imprisoned, along with his younger brother Bo Bo Kyaw
Nyein, from 1974-79; Studied at the Institute of Medicine (I), Rangoon;
Earned M.B., B.S. (Rangoon), MS (Western Illinois University) and
Ph.D. in Health Education (University of Tennessee); Former Professor
and Currently Administrator with the North Carolina Central University;
Resides in Chapel Hills, North Carolina, USA.
Victor Win (Un-authorized bio)
Active in the pro-democracy activities of Burmese expatriates and
exiles in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the American labor movement;
President, BADA; Studied at Rangoon University. Resides in San Francisco,
Win Win Nu
Bio-data unavailable as of this writing.
Active in the pro-democracy activities of Burmese exiles in the
United States since 1988 uprisings; founder and director, the Free
Burma Coalition (1995-present); Founded the Institute for Community
and Institutional Development or ICID (1998) to facilitate the education
and leadership development of top-flight Burmese activists; Established
the ICID Consortium of ICID Universities in London in 2002; Former
English teacher, Mandalay (1984-87) & Assistant Professor of
Education, National Louis University (2000-01); Fellow, the Next
Generation Leadership Program, The Rockefeller Foundation, USA (2001-2003);
Full-time activist; Earned a BSc in Chemistry (Mandalay University),
an MA in Education (University of California) & a Ph.D. in Curriculum
and Instruction (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Resides in San
Francisco Bay Area, California, USA.