September 28, 2005
I hope this letter reaches you in good heath.
It’s been a while so I hope you remember me. It’s xxxx, the muslim-burmese-american guy who helped organize the FBC conference in LA in ’97.
It’s been a while since I’ve kept in touch with the actual Burmese members of FBC. I see Xx and Yy occasionally at family events but other than that I’ve had no contact with any other Burmese involved with the original FBC movement.
I regretfully admit that I’ve only been following the headlines on Burma and haven’t been involved with anything else. Since the passing of the LA Free Burma ordinance, there really hasn’t been much to do except attempting to bring awareness to the Burmese cause. In the midst of everything going on right now, bringing awareness to Burma has become a faint cry to an American audience with political worries of their own. It’s not like the old days when I remember holding an awareness week at my campus on Burma attracted so much attention, concern, and most importantly – participation. As far as getting Burmese involvement or interest, we were never successful before at getting the local Burmese communities to participate so nothing has changed there.
I’ve been following the recent debates about the effects of the sanctions, isolation, the NCGUB, your trip, etc. I feel like a lot of what’s being discussed can be understood from anyone who was involved in the actual grassroots campaign. In retrospect, I feel like the effort we put into getting ordinances and sanctions passed became a goal in and of itself, and we forgot about its true purpose which was and always should be to help the underprivileged of Burma.
Now that the sanctions are in place, our American supporters have become content with their obligation to the Burmese movement while in reality the Burmese people are still no better off.
At this point, I’m not even sure American supporters and/or grassroots campaigns in schools are what we need or want. Talking with some of the American supporters in LA, I’ve realized that there really isn’t anything for them to do anymore despite their sincere intention to help.
I think the debates, publications, and the FBC Executive Group are all excellent methods for reviving and redefining the Burmese movement from the core. At the same time, the one thing I thought so brilliant of your original FBC campaign was how everyone could get involved and participate while educating themselves and others. Such is the case of me.
Besides the fact that my family is Burmese (not Indian), that I eat Burmese food, and speak a little Burmese, I know very little of the country because I left when I was only 9 months old. I am for the most part a supporter, not a member, of the Burmese movement because I have no other real affiliation to Burma except for it being my place of birth. It’s the concept of humanity and freedom that inspire me to be involved, and the Burmese children with whom I share an ancestral blood heritage that draws me to this specific movement.
So, what can we do? Or maybe more specifically, what can I do?
I’m about to reach age 30 as are many of the FBC supporters and we’re no longer responsibility-free students. Likewise, it is now harder to convince a group of working professionals with families to go out and demonstrate, pass out educational pamphlets, or go to campuses for new recruits. However, we also now have money, skills, and support on different levels to give the grassroots movement a facelift while remaining true in spirit.
And while it is important for those of you who can make waves in the political arena to do so, we, the common supporter, need to be led to do something tangibly achievable just like what we did during the era of ordinances and divestments. I hope none of this comes off as criticism as it is not intended to be. I have always supported and looked up to .... the FBC and I’m simply asking what our next step is and how can I contribute now and in the long run.