Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Taiwan helps Burmese

June 19 was the 62nd birthday of Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, and many in the international community demanded that she be freed this year.

In Asia alone, India, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand planned action to support Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy in Myanmar, formerly called Burma.

Taiwan on Monday hosted a concert to promote democracy and human rights in Myanmar.

Taiwan is the first Asian country to make a peaceful switch to democracy. The nation's progress in human rights and its economic achievements are well-known.

Although most countries do not have official diplomatic relations with Taipei, including Myanmar, Taiwan should continue participating in the international community through non-governmental activities.

Taiwan's NGOs often cooperate with other countries in need, especially in Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor and Vietnam.

Four Taiwanese NGOs promoted the plight of the Burmese on June 19 last year and declared this day as "Burma Democracy Day." These NGOs include the Taiwan Labor Front, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Awakening Foundation and the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan.

This year they continue their work for democracy and human rights in Myanmar, together with other NGOs in Taiwan. The new participants include Taiwan Youth Democracy in Asia and Taiwanese Friends of Tibet.

This alliance planned the rock concert for freedom and democracy in Burma before Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday.

A Burmese student band was scheduled to perform in the concert to express their frustration over the situation in their home country.

The Taipei Overseas Peace Service (TOPS), another NGO, has dedicated funds and human resources for a long-term humanitarian project on the Thai-Burmese border.

TOPS is the only Taiwanese NGO that has worked on the border for more than 10 years.

TOPS provides preschool education and study grants to Burmese children and youths at a refugee camp.

On the whole, although Taiwan has no official relationship with Myanmar, Taiwan must share its experience and lend support to the Burmese as they seek democracy and struggle against the military junta regime.

Taiwan is a very important indicator country for democracy and only by sharing their experience with other Asia countries will the region realize peace and stability.

Tsung-Li Tony Yang

Prague, Czech Republic

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