Burma Ethnic Conference Held And New Network Found
06 October 2009: The first Burma Ethnic Naitonalities Forum, held on 2-3 October 2009 at York University Toronto, Canada, ended successfully with a formation of new ethnic body named Burma Ethnic Nationalities Network-Canada (BENN-Canada).
Reviewing recent political situations in Burma and the escalating military offensives in ethnic areas, the conference called on Burma’s SPDC to immediately stop its systematic human rights abuses and institutional violence against the ethnic people.
The conference is also highly concerned about the increasing environmental devastation in ethnic areas as a result of development projects and unregulated and excessive resource extraction activities.
A report released on 3 October 2009 by the conference said: “We firmly believe that the 2010 elections will not usher in the kind of political reforms expected by the international community nor it will result in genuine national reconciliation. We call upon the international community to insist that the military regime initiate a tripartite dialogue with the pro-democracy opposition and representatives of the ethnic nationalities.”
Welcoming the recent announcement by the United States government to directly engage Burma’s military regime diplomatically, the conference report stated: “We, however, are of the view that such high level diplomatic engagement must be accompanied by sustained political and economic pressure on the regime.”
The conference also urged the government of Canada to maintain its longstanding and principled support for human rights and democratic governance in Burma, to continue its humanitarian commitments and assistance, and to support the introduction of binding UN Security Council resolution on Burma.
BENN-Canada is a network composed of ethnic nationalities from across Canada whose purpose is to broaden Canadian debate on Burma so that the concerns and issues of ethnic nationalities are included in the larger Canadian foreign policy framework on Burma
The conference was attended by over 100 representatives of Burma’s ethnic communities from across Canada and by special invited guests, including Canadian Members of Parliament, ethnic leaders and women activists based on the Thai-Burma border, pro-democracy activists and solidarity groups in Canada.