Open Letter to President Joe Biden from the Civil Society Organizations of Cambodia and Myanmar

May 1st, 2022  •  Author:   179 Civil Society Organizations of Cambodia and Myanmar  •  10 minute read
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May 1, 2022

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Subject: US-ASEAN Summit Should Bring Genuine Human Rights and Democracy to Cambodia and Myanmar

Dear Mr. President Joseph Biden,

We, the undersigned civil society organizations and advocates for Cambodia and Myanmar, thank you for excluding the Myanmar junta from the upcoming US-ASEAN summit. Please invite a National Unity Government representative of Myanmar instead. We also strongly object to Hun Sen being invited to the United States. Dictators and tyrants are not and should not be welcomed in the land of the free.

It has been a year since a Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar was reached at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting between all ASEAN leaders and General Min Aung Hlaing to address the deteriorating political and humanitarian crisis triggered by his illegal coup d’état.

To this day, General Min Aung Hlaing has totally failed to implement any of the points in the Consensus. Instead, he has intensified his attacks on the Myanmar people with systematic and widespread human rights abuses with impunity.

The implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus has failed, and it is crucial for a more effective method to be put into action — stopping the junta’s atrocities by cutting off its funding. 70% percent of the junta’s revenues come from the oil and gas industries through the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises (MOGE). The flow of dollars to buy arms, munitions, fuel, and other military supplies from MOGE must be stopped immediately through sanctions or by placing the money in escrow. Additional delay will only result in more lives being annihilated.

As the regional group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights pointed out recently in an open letter to ASEAN, “it is high time for the junta to face real consequences for their criminal actions.” We do agree with their recommendations that such consequences should include the suspension of Myanmar’s membership in ASEAN while the military junta is trying to gain control of the country; travel bans for Min Aung Hlaing and the members of his State Administration Council; targeted sanctions against the leaders of the coup, and those responsible for committing crimes against humanity and their economic interests in ASEAN as already done in the U.S.

Economic profit can never justify doing business with human rights and democracy violators, either with the military junta of Myanmar or dictatorships of any other country. It is for this reason that we also like to take this opportunity to urge you to revise the United States’ trade agreements with dictatorships such as the one in Vietnam, where the Communist Party clings to its monopoly of power by ruthlessly cracking down on any kind of opposition.

According to the US State Department 2021 Report on Human Rights Practices in Vietnam provides credible significant human rights issues listing unlawful and arbitrary killings by the military junta, arbitrary arrests, and detentions of political prisoners and activists, misusing of the judicial system and law enforcement, interference with privacy, serious restrictions on free expression and media, all for political purposes. Recently, the Cambodian chair of the government’s delegation to the United Nations claimed that “if people prefer a one-party state, that constitutes democracy.” These are not the type of regimes and trading partners that the United States should consent to and comply with.

Specifically for Cambodia, the fact-finding efforts of the Commission of Inquiry for Cambodia were substantially reviewed in their recent submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s compliance review session on Cambodia that just took place on March 9-11, 2022, along with numerous reports and findings by many independent international monitoring agencies like Human Rights Watch. It is clear that the Hun Sen government has been engaging in an ever-increasing campaign of substantial and long-standing human rights and democracy abuses on a widespread basis, designed to destroy the political opposition and any vestiges of free speech and free press rights in Cambodia, so that the Hun Sen regime could remain in power on an uncontested basis for over 37 years.

Cambodia is approaching a very critical time as the 2022 local elections and 2023 national elections approach. Unless the international community takes some form of action now to encourage change, nothing will prevent the Hun Sen government from further solidifying its 37- year dictatorship by eliminating any semblance of a democratic system, and by further entrenching its policies of repression of civil society and the exercise of internationally protected rights by the Cambodian people.

Therefore, in addition to our requests previously conveyed to you in our letter of January 21, 2022, the undersigned Cambodia, and Myanmar advocates who are also joined by democracy activists in Laos and Thailand (through the Milk Tea Alliance) urge the United States to:

  1. Take the lead in promoting genuine democracy and respect for human rights in ASEAN, especially in Cambodia and Myanmar. The promotion of democracy, human rights, and rule of law are clearly included in the ASEAN charter. When it comes to human rights abuses, the non-interference principle should be subordinated to international human rights laws and treaties;
  2. Refuse the results and legitimacy of authoritarian regimes if the elections are not fair and free by the people. Unfair election means “no representative votes,” and nonrecognition of the pre-arranged results;
  3. Impose an immediate arms embargo on the Myanmar junta and the Hun Sen regime, curtail their electronic surveillance and communications capabilities, and place economic sanctions on any company, financial institution, or country that assists the Myanmar junta and the Hun Sen army evade economic sanctions and arms embargoes;
  4. Last, we ask the United States not to place political expediency over principle. Please do not befriend dictators and overlook their human rights abuses just to gain support against China or Russia. Please do not develop trade at the expense of democracy and human rights.

Mr. President, we have confidence that under your administration, the international community and ASEAN will come to the aid of the people to stop the brutal reigns of impunity of their dictators, and find lasting freedom, justice, democracy, and the rule of law for Cambodia and Myanmar.

We thank you for your attention and consideration on this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

  1. Action Committee for Democracy Development, Myanmar
  2. Anti-Dictatorship in Burma – DC Metro Area, USA
  3. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Asia
  4. Boston Free Burma, USA
  5. Burma Refugee Families & Newcomers, USA
  6. Burmese Community Development Collaboration, USA
  7. Burmese American Millennials, USA
  8. Cambodia’s Border Committee (France and Worldwide)
  9. Cambodian Border Institute (CBI) USA
  10. Cambodia National Rescue Party, USA
  11. Cambodian Alliance for the Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia (CAPPAC), Global
  12. Cambodian American Community of Oregon, USA
  13. Cambodian Americans and Friends for Democracy and Human Rights Advocates, USA
  14. Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy (CAHRAD), USA
  15. Cambodian Alliance for Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia (CAPPAC), Australia
  16. Democracy Supporters Association (DSA), USA
  17. Campaign for a New Myanmar, USA
  18. Chin Leaders, USA
  19. Committee for Paris Peace Accords on Cambodia-Minnesota (CPPAC-MN), USA
  20. Core Actions Support for Federal Democratic Burma, USA
  21. East Bay Refugee and Immigrant Forum, USA
  22. Free Myanmar Inc.
  23. Free Myanmar Campaign, USA (Indiana)
  24. Foundation of Khmer Samaki, USA
  25. Humanitarian and Development Foundation for Myanmar (HDFM), USA
  26. International Campaign for the Rohingya, USA
  27. Khmer Alliance Foundation (KAF), USA
  28. Khmer Association of Hampton Road Virginia (KAHRV), USA
  29. Khmer Kampuchea Krom Buddhist Temple, USA
  30. Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC), USA
  31. Khmer Post USA
  32. Khmer Unity for Cambodia, USA
  33. LA2M Los Angeles Myanmar Movement, USA
  34. Meboun Foundation, USA
  35. Myanmar American Humanitarian Aid Association (MAHAA), USA
  36. Myanmar Queer Straight Alliance, USA
  37. No Business with Genocide, USA
  38. Pro-Democracy for Cambodia/Pro démocratie pour le Cambodge, Canada
  39. Refugee and Immigrant Transition, USA
  40. Save Myanmar, USA
  41. Save Myanmar San Francisco, USA
  42. Support the Democracy Movement in Burma, USA
  43. World Khmer Diaspora Network-EU, France
  44. Democratic Youth Council
  45. Milk Tea Alliance -Calendar Team
  46. Twitter Team for Revolution Democracy,
  47. Peace and Women Organization
  48. Blood Money Campaign
  49. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  50. Burmese American Democratic Alliance
  51. CRPH & NUG supporters Ireland
  52. CRPH Funding Ireland
  53. Ah Nah Podcast – conversation with Myanmar
  54. Cambodia’s Border Committee (in France and Worldwide)
  55. Khmer Democracy Supporter, USA
  56. Cambodian Community of Modesto, USA
  57. Action Against Myanmar Military Coup (Sydney)
  58. All Burma Student Democratic Front – Australia Branch
  59. All Young Burmese League (AYBL)
  60. Anti-Myanmar Dictatorship Movement
  61. Anti-Myanmar Military Dictatorship Network (AMMDN)
  62. Australia Burma Friendship Association, Northern Territory
  63. Australia Karen Organization WA Inc.
  64. Australia Myanmar Doctors, Nurses and Friends
  65. Australia Myanmar Youth Alliance (AMYA)
  66. Australian Burmese Muslim Organisation
  67. Australian Chin Community (Eastern Melbourne Inc)
  68. Australian Karen Organisation (AKO)
  69. Bamar Community Tasmania
  70. Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC)
  71. Burmese Community
  72. Burmese Community Development Collaboration (BCDC)
  73. Burmese Community Support Group (BCSG)
  74. Burmese Friendship Association
  75. Burmese Medical Association Australia (BMAA)
  76. Canberra Karen Association
  77. Chin Community of Western Australia Inc.
  78. Chin Community SA
  79. Chin Community Tasmania
  80. Chin Youth Organization
  81. CRPH/NUG support group Australia
  82. Democracy for Burma
  83. Falam Community
  84. Industrial Training Centre (ITC) Family Sydney
  85. Joint Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (JACDB)
  86. Justice 4 Myanmar – Hope & Development
  87. Kachin Association Australia
  88. Kachin Association of Australia WA Inc.
  89. Karen Community
  90. Karenni Federation of Australia
  91. Karenni/Kayah Community
  92. Kayin Community Tasmania
  93. Matu Chin Community
  94. Mindat Chin Community NSW
  95. Mindat Community
  96. Mizo Community
  97. Mon Families Group
  98. Mon National council
  99. Myanmar Buddhist Community of South Australia
  100. Myanmar Community Coffs Harbour (MCC)
  101. Myanmar Democracy and Peace Committee (Australia)
  102. Myanmar Democratic Movement (MDM)
  103. Myanmar Engineering Association of Australia (MEAA)
  104. Myanmar People Residing in Canberra
  105. Myanmar Professionals Association Australia (MPAA)
  106. Myanmar Students’ Association Australia (MSAA)
  107. NLD Solidarity Association (Australia)
  108. Perth Myanmar Youth Network
  109. PWVB (Patriotic War Veterans of Burma)
  110. Queensland Kachin Community (QKC)
  111. Queensland Myanmar Youth Collective (QMYC)
  112. Queensland Rohingya Community
  113. Red Campaign Nirvana Exhortation Group
  114. Remonya Association of WA (Mon Community)
  115. Shwe Youth Democratic Alliance (SYDA)
  116. Southcare Medical Centre
  117. Support for Myanmar
  118. Sydney Friends for Myanmar Unity
  119. The Institution of Professional Engineers Myanmar
  120. United Myanmar Community of South Australia
  121. Victorian Burmese Care Community (VBCC)
  122. Victorian Myanmar Youth
  123. We Pledge CDM (Australia)
  124. Western Australia Myanmar Democratic Network
  125. Women Activists Myanmar (WAM)
  126. Yadanar Foundation
  127. Zo Community
  128. Zomi Association Australia Inc.
  129. Zomi Community South Australia
  130. Zomi Community Queensland
  131. Kyaukse Basic Education Students’ Union
  132. Katha Basic Education Students’ Union
  133. All Sagaing Township Basic Education Students’ Union
  134. Sintgaing Basic Education Students’ Union
  135. Zabuthiri Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  136. Nyaunglebin Basic Education Students’ Union
  137. Taunggyi Basic Education Students’ Union
  138. Dawei Basic Education Students’ Union
  139. Daik-U Basic Education Students’ Union
  140. Demoso Basic Education Students’ Union
  141. Pyay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  142. Bago Basic Education Students’ Union
  143. Pyinmana Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  144. Padaung Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  145. Pyin Nyar Nan Daw Private School Basic Education Students’ Union
  146. Monywa Basic Education Students’ Union – ABFSU
  147. Mohnyin Basic Education Students’ Union
  148. Meikhtila Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  149. Mawlamyine Basic Education Students’ Union
  150. Mudon Basic Education Students’ Union
  151. Family Private School Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  152. Minbu Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  153. Mawkmai Basic Education Students’ Union
  154. Yedashe Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  155. Lashio Basic Education Students’ Union
  156. Hlaing Thar Yar Basic Education Students’ Union
  157. Langkho Basic Education Students’ Union
  158. Letpadan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  159. Labutta Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  160. Launglon Basic Education Students’ Union
  161. Wundwin Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  162. Wetlet Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  163. Thaton Basic Education Students’ Union
  164. Hopin Basic Education Students’ Union
  165. Hinthada Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  166. Aung Myay Tharzan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  167. BEHS-1, Hpa-An Basic Education Students’ Union
  168. BEHS-8, Aungmyethazan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  169. BEHS-11, Aungmyethazan Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  170. BEHS-24, Mahaaungmyay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  171. BEHS-1, Mandalay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  172. BEHS-4, Mandalay Basic Education Students’ Union-ABFSU
  173. Mogaung Basic Education Students’ Union
  174. Pyin Oo Lwin Basic Education Students’ Union
  175. Chanayetharsan Basic Education Students’ Union
  176. No.12 Basic Education Middle School (High Branch) Basic Education Students’ Union
  177. PEC Private School Basic Education Students’ Union
  178. VEC Private School Basic Education Students’ Union
  179. Union for Lao Nation and Study and Research Center on Laos and Asia (Union for Lao Nation/CERLA)

Cc: Secretary of State
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations


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