Throughout May of 2008 we witnessed terrible devastation in Myanmar with the worst natural disaster in Myanmar's recorded history. Cyclone Nargis is only one in long chain of tragedies for the Burmese people. Decades of isolation, dictatorship and economic sanctions have made Myanmar the poorest country in Asia and one of the poorest in the world.
All of the various peoples of Myanmar have done amazing things in dealing with these conditions. They live very sustainably and recycle and re-use everything. Everywhere you go in Myanmar you will meet smiling faces--the hospitality of the people of Myanmar is noted around the world. They have a lot to teach us, as has been documented in E.F. Schumacher's famous book Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.
To cut these people off by imposing sanctions and independent travelers avoiding the country is harming the international community as well as the people of Myanmar. We have tried this for 20 years and have only seen the poverty and destitution grow.
Strains of HIV from as far as Indonesia are traced back to Myanmar where the desperate conditions and lack of health care have driven people to drugs and prostitution.
People dedicated to helping Myanmar have been asking the US and the UN to change the policy towards Myanmar, pointing out that the sanctions have been a complete failure. It's time to examine alternative approaches to dealing with Myanmar and helping the Burmese people get out of a 40 year cycle of poverty and disaster.
Please read this article by a Burmese citizen about the effect of the sanctions on the Burmese psyche, and then please sign the petition to ask the UN to drop sanctions and to focus resources into real solutions for the people of Myanmar.
This is another very well researched article re-examining the effect of sanctions on the people of Myanmar.
Details of the history of US sanctions on Burma can be read here.
We, the undersigned, feel that the policy of economic isolation and sanctions towards Myanmar has not resulted in any positive substantive change for the Burmese people. On the contrary, conditions in Myanmar have only continued to deteriorate. Decades of political isolation, dictatorship and economic sanctions have made Myanmar the poorest country in Asia and one of the poorest in the world.
We would like to ask you to carefully examine US & UN policies towards Myanmar. We feel that a new, more informed policy of economic and political engagement is needed to help stimulate economic development in Myanmar and improve basic living conditions for its people.
Please take the time to examine this issue. Speak to Burmese citizens as well as NGOs and companies that are already involved in Myanmar, and consider looking for new ways to bring positive, lasting change to Myanmar.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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