BPF: Focus on Burma

November 29, 2007

image - jailed monk - from www.badasf.org[from BPF Human Rights Program Coordinator]

Presently we think of our focus being:

* advocating and supporting the monks and nuns

* addressing arms sales to Burma

The full text of the first message to chapters from Margaret Howe follows.

Dear Chapters and BPF’ers,

I want to introduce myself. I am Margaret Howe and I have been hired by BPF to be the Human Rights Program Coordinator. BPF’s focus for the next few months will be on Burma. I am just getting up and running and want to address a few things in this letter to let you know what we are thinking and how we want to proceed. And as always to get your input.

First let me say that I am really happy to be here at BPF and working on Burma. I am grateful that BPF has comitted itself to human rights and supporting the democracy movement and monks and nuns in Burma. I am so impressed with what so many of you have been doing in the last months to focus attention on the Burmese people as they take grave risks and stand up against the suffering in their country. THANK YOU!!!

In this letter you will find:

1. Kick-off of BPF Campaign on Burma, December 10, International Human Rights Day
2. Teleconference call info for Friday November 30.

I will send out another email soon that addresses other issues such as why BPF is focusing on Burma and not other issues, update on Buma news and my background, but I wanted you to know this as soon as possible.

Please call me or write with any questions, ideas, comments.

1. There are many campaigns and strategies for bringing change to Burma. While BPF will support many of these, we also want to have a particular focus. Presently we think of our focus being:

* advocating and supporting the monks and nuns – These are at the front of the struggle and they are a direct source of Theravada Buddhism. We will be advocating for the release of all political prisoners, but specifically monks and nuns, for their humane treatment in prison, for the independence of the monasteries, and for freedom of religion. For example the lead monk of the democracy movement U Gambira has been arrested and faces death or life imprisonment.
* addressing arms sales to Burma – (addressing one of the sources of the suffering) Here we would target the countries who sell arms to Burma – India, China, Singapore, etc. as well as UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo.

We will kick-off our Burma Program on December 10, International Human Rights Day. This is very soon, I know! We encourage you to take action around this date, alone, with your chapter, your sangha, affinity group, or friends.

This may be holding a public or private prayer vigil, a rally, tabling with letter-writing at your local Buddhist center, showing a video on Burma, raising money, hosting a monk from the International Monks Union, etc.
We will have resources available by next week for you all to use, if you choose to take action around this date. These may include:

* sample letters to send to officials
* ideas for vigils
* photos of monks and nuns who are imprisoned
* prototypes for signs for vigils
* other resources

In San Francisco we will have a rally at Civic Center/City Hall on Sunday December 9. There is a very active local group here of Burmese and Buddhist activists. Jack Kornfield will be speaking. [click on image above for details; flyer here]

2. We have a conference call scheduled and I will give a briefing on the current situation in Burma and will share some thoughts on how the BPF community can work together on this issue. We are still in the process of formulating these ideas and plans, but wanted all of you to have an idea of where we are headed together with this, and to listen to your input.

Date: Friday, November 30, 2007
Time: 11:00 AM PACIFIC TIME — please adjust for your time zone!!!
The call will last no more than 1 hour… probably around 45 minutes.
Dial-in Number: 1-605-725-3600
Participant Access Code: 403xxx [ask for xxx below in a comment]

Please RSVP by Thursday afternoon, Nov 29 if you can be on this call to:
Margaret Howe, margaret [at] bpf.org

Your RSVP will help us to know how many lines to reserve for this call.

If you are unable to be on this call, feel free to forward this message and invite another person in your chapter to call in. It’s best if there is no more than 1 person/chapter on the call, otherwise these conference calls can get quite big and confusing!

Thanks so much for all of your love and peacework. It is inspiring!




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