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Statement about the situation in Burma’s Rakhine State

Burma Center Prague is observing and has been observing the situation in Burma’s Rakhine State for a long time with grave concern. As an organization that seeks to improve the stability and rule of law in the country and to promote universal respect of human rights for all its inhabitants, we would like to make the following statement:
  • We feel deep concern about the current situation and deplore the violence committed against and among the population and against the security forces.
  • We welcome the civilian government’s ongoing commitment to peaceful development and the Burmese Muslim organization’s condemnation of the violence. We understand the difficult role of the Burmese democratic forces in a country that is still de facto controlled by the army, and we urge them to use all their options to promote peace, safety and a life in dignity for all the country’s inhabitants.
  • We appeal to the Rohingya community, the Rakhine Buddhist population, the Burmese civilian government and the Burmese military to start a peaceful, meaningful dialogue with the participation of international observers.
  • We call upon the Burmese state to admit international observers and aid organizations into the affected regions and to protect and support them in their work. We would also welcome it if international journalists would be allowed into the affected area and if they and their sources would receive all due protection.
  • We urge the public to refrain from spreading hate speech and rumors on social media and to differentiate between the perpetrators and the victims of the various incidents that have happened. We particularly urge the news media to abide by their obligation to provide balanced reporting and to avoid sensationalism. These developments have long been in the making and are very complicated.
  • There are many other conflicts in Burma that need to be resolved peacefully. We hope the situation will stabilize and that the democratization of the country’s political arrangements can continue.

Burmese Community welcomes Aung San Suu Kyi to the Czech Republic

Prague, 13 September 2013. On the occasion of the upcoming visit by Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi to the Czech Republic, the Czech nonprofit organization Burma Center Prague sends greetings from the Burmese community and expresses the hope that the democratization of Burma will include all of its citizens.

The Burmese community in the Czech Republic welcomes the news that the leader of the Burmese opposition, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Madame Aung San Suu Kyi, is planning to vist the Czech Republic to attend the Forum 2000 conference. At the same time, the Burmese commuity would like to express its regrets that Madame Suu Kyi’s longtime supporter, former Czech President Václav Havel, did not live to see this occasion. It was due to Havel’s efforts in particular that Madame Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1991.

Madame Suu Kyi has the opportunity to travel abroad and the guarantee of return to her own country as a result of the political reforms initiated by the Burmese junta in 2010 when she was released from house arrest. Currently, a nominally civilian government is now ruling Burma in which many representatives of the Army are participating in key positions. Even though the country is opening up, especially in the larger cities, and is attracting investors and tourists, these democratic and economic reforms have not yet made themselves felt in all layers of society, nor have they made themselves felt in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.

Burma Center Prague considers this time of transition to a genuine democracy to be crucial. The Czech Republic can now contribute to the successful transformation of the country by sharing its own experience with such a transformation. The organization combines Burmese and European forces to promote developments that involve Burmese citizens at all levels, including the millions living in exile, in the political decision-making processes that will lead to the creation of a society marked by mutual respect between all ethnic groups and all religions. It will also be essential to end the armed conflicts in Burma and ensure legal security for all people living there long-term.

The Burmese community in the Czech Republic is comprised of about 150 people, most of whom came here as either refugees or students and were granted asylum or made their homes here. In the year 2005, the Burmese community in the Czech Republic began its regular, symbolic actions on Madame Suu Kyi’s birthday to draw attention to her unjust imprisonment.

About Burma Center Prague:

Burma Center Prague (Barmské Centrum Praha) is a public benefit corporation established in 2006 by the Burmese community in the Czech Republic together with Czech and international supporters of Burma. The mission of the organization is to contribute to democratization in Burma, to adherence to human rights in Burma, to improve the situations of everyone inside Burma, and to improve the situations of Burmese living in exile. Within the framework of several different projects, Burma Center Prague provides aid to Burmese refugees in the Czech Republic and to Burmese self-help groups in Burma and India.


Burma Center Prague launches report about responsible tourism in Burma/Myanmar

Prague, December 10, 2012. Today, at the occasion of the Human Rights Day, the Czech non-profit organization Burma Center Prague launches the report “Responsible Tourism in Myanmar: Current Situation and Challenges” written by the researcher Ko Ko Thett from the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna. The report offers a critical analysis of the current development of mass tourism in Burma and an assessment of the role of businesses and the authorities.

“There is an urgent need for a critical debate on mass tourism in Myanmar, particularly the viability and frailty of the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy“, says the author Ko Ko Thett. „It remains to be seen how this place will be reshaped by mass tourism as a force of globalisation in the near future, and how the state of Myanmar will respond to the challenges brought about by mass tourism.“
In his recommendations, the author calls for the empowerment of local communities and civil society in Myanmar as counterweight to the domination of crony capitalism and for a systematic support of small and medium-sized businesses.
Further information can be obtained at:
Burma Center Prague
Dělnická 54
170 00 Prague
Czech Republic
Transition Promotion logo transparent 200pxThis project is supported from resources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic within its Transition Promotion Program





The report can be downloaded at:
Tourism Report, low image quality (2 MB)

There is an urgent need for a critical debate on mass tourism in Myanmar, particularly the viability and frailty of the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy that is soon to be framed by the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan. ‘One of the most fascinating aspects of travel in Myanmar is the opportunity to experience a corner of Asia that, in many ways, has changed little since British colonial times,’ says the Lonely Planet. It remains to be seen how this place of authenticity will be reshaped by mass tourism as a force of globalisation in the near future, and how the state of Myanmar will responsibly respond to the challenges brought about by mass tourism.

Tourism Report, original PDF (34 MB)

There is an urgent need for a critical debate on mass tourism in Myanmar, particularly the viability and frailty of the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy that is soon to be framed by the Myanmar Tourism Master Plan. ‘One of the most fascinating aspects of travel in Myanmar is the opportunity to experience a corner of Asia that, in many ways, has changed little since British colonial times,’ says the Lonely Planet. It remains to be seen how this place of authenticity will be reshaped by mass tourism as a force of globalisation in the near future, and how the state of Myanmar will responsibly respond to the challenges brought about by mass tourism.

Czech NGO Burma Center Prague supports Burmese refugee projects in India through intelligent micro-donations

PRAGUE, June 11, 2012. Burma Center Prague today launched the 2012 edition of its Microgrant Program, providing small grants to Burmese refugee organizations in India. This form of support has proven highly successful during the past two years, yielding notable improvements in the organizations’ activities. With the help of these targeted and highly efficient non-repayable donations, charitable grassroots projects make a tangible difference where it is needed most.

This year, 17 microgrants are being given out for the running of projects in such areas as health, education, and community support. The microgrants are provided as part of BCP’s “IndianBasefortheTransformationofBurma” project, which is funded by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the goal of supporting Burmese refugees and developing their ability to contribute to the democratization of Burma.

“We’re thrilled to be launching the third edition of our microgrant program, and to have so many great projects to support. I am overwhelmed by the high motivation of the grantees whom we met personally during our field trips to India. The mandatory training seminars we held for them in New Delhi and Aizawl ensure that they have the necessary skills to reach the projected goals,” said Reena Sattar, Project Manager at Burma Center Prague.

This year’s projects will run from June to October, and BCP is now seeking individual donors to help cover the costs of running the projects. With a minimum donation of CZK 500 – this corresponds to about 20 EUR or 25 USD, individuals can support any or many of the 2012 projects, simply by going to www.mikrogranty.cz.

“We offer one of the few and most efficient ways to provide sustainable support to the people of Burma who have had to flee their homes“, added Ms. Sattar. “We are particularly proud that we are able to ensure the transparent monitoring of how the donations are used, and that 100% of these funds will indeed be used by the self-support groups”.



Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Pays her Last Respects to Vaclav Havel

Update at 2:45pm: personal message from Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi delivered the following message of condolence on the passing of Mr. Václav Havel:

“This is not only a loss for one person or one country, it is a great loss for humankind. I can’t find the words to express my sorrow in a short message.”

She also said that she would write an article dedicated to and honoring Mr. Havel, that would be published in the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Daily News next month.
The message was conveyed to Burma Center Prague through her assistant Htin Kyaw in Burma.




PRAGUE, December 23, 2011. On the occasion of today’s state funeral of the former Czech president Václav Havel, representatives of the people of Burma express their deep sorrow at his passing and gratitude for his support. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese democratic opposition and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, paid her respects by sending a bouquet of roses, and by this she referred to a famous quote from Mr. Havel.

“Mr. Havel was a long-term supporter of Suu Kyi and of the pro-democracy movement in Burma, and his influence helped bring greater awareness of the Burmese issue in Europe and around the world”, says Sabe Soe, director of the Czech NGO Burma Center Prague. Together with other Burmese pro-democracy activists and former political prisoners, Ms. Soe conveys the message of grief from the people of Burma and their leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On Monday, Suu Kyi expressed her sadness at Havel’s passing when she arrived for a meeting at the party headquarters of the National League for Democracy in Rangoon.

On Tuesday, members of Burma Center Prague, along with Burmese activists and former Czech ambassador to Burma H.E. Jiří Šitler, formed a delegation to represent Aung San Suu Kyi as Václav Havel’s body lay in repose at The Prague Crossroads, the former St. Anne’s church turned into a cultural and spiritual center by the late president.

Tin Tin Nyo, General Secretary of Women’s League of Burma, lay a bouquet of roses with a ribbon that said “To a True Friend – Aung San Suu Kyi”, while Aung Myo Min, Director of Human Rights Education Institute of Burma and Sabe Soe lay a basket of flowers with “We Thank You – People of Burma”. Sabe Soe and Aung Myo Min then paid their respects at Mr. Havel’s coffin, while H.E. Mr. Šitler and Ko Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, stood as the honour guard.

Suu Kyi has always considered Václav Havel to be a close friend and supporter, although the two were never able to meet in person. Havel nominated Aung San Suu Kyi for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. When she celebrated her 60th birthday while still under house arrest, Havel wrote an article entitled “A Rose for the ‘Unfree'” in the Washington Post. In that article, he expressed his wish to personally give her a rose after she gained freedom. In the end, it was Aung San Suu Kyi who presented roses to him, although not in person.

The Burma Center Prague offers royalty-free photos and a video for reporting on this topic that can be downloaded at: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2146694/photos-press-release-23.12.2011.zip and at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2146694/Havel-copyright-Burma-Center-Prague-2011.mov

Please credit these photos and the video to “Burma Center Prague”.


Deep sorrow about the passing of Václav Havel

With deep sorrow, Burma Center Prague today received news of the passing of Mr. Vaclav Havel, a key figure not only for the history of the Czech Republic, but also for the international community and in particular for the Burmese democratic movement.

Today, Burma Center Prague received many phone calls and e-mails from partner organizations and friends from around the world who were affected by this sad news. Members of Burma Center Prague, along with other Burmese, hereby express their sincere condolences to Mr. Havel’s bereaved wife and his close colleagues.

Mr. Havel consistently and significantly supported democratic efforts in Burma. He nominated Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the Nobel Peace Prize, sharply criticized the practices of the military regime, and steadfastly called for respect for human rights and peace and democracy in the country, which is controlled by a totalitarian regime, as was the former Czechoslovakia.

“Mr. Havel was a great symbol of the non-violent struggle for democracy and was always admired by the Burmese. Thanks to him, awareness of Burma was significantly increased in the Czech Republic not only among Czech politicians but also among citizens. We are greatly appreciative Mr. Havel’s efforts to always put human rights, individual freedom and democracy ahead of economic interests. We are extremely sad that Mr. Havel is no longer with us, but we hope and believe in the global responsibility of democratic states and we are very grateful for the solidarity of Czech citizens, who can better understand the situation in Burma thanks to their own memories of the past under a totalitarian regime, ” said BCP’s director Sabe Soe, who herself comes from Burma and experienced the successful Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, while in her home country a popular uprising was bloodily suppressed by the military. “I am very sad that Mr. Havel will never meet Ms. Suu Kyi and personally give her a rose, as he wanted to do,” added Ms. Soe.