Concert, Charter Call for Burma’s People to ‘Determine Own Destiny’

By The Irrawaddy 8 April 2016

RANGOON — A peace concert held on Thursday night at People’s Park in Rangoon united artists, musicians, writers and interfaith activists in an “appeal to the people” to push for the realization of basic human rights for all in the context of a genuine democratic transition.

The concert included performances by well-known dissident singers and musicians, including Oslo-based Mun Awng, Ko Ye Lwin of Mizzima Waves and famed reggae artist Saw Hpoe Khwa, who was integral in organizing the event.

The event was held to launch a charter inspired by a vision once outlined by writer—and later statesman—Václav Havel, and various intellectuals in Czechoslovakia in 1977, calling on that country’s then-communist government to ultimately respect citizens’ social and economic rights. The initiative was called Charter 77, and its distribution was banned by authorities at the time.

“Our Burmese Charter 77 is aimed at engaging grassroots citizens with democratization and peace efforts in Myanmar,” said Saw Hpoe Khwa in a press release, in which he lamented Burma’s history of civil war, military rule and a “rising tide of violent racism.”

Burma’s version of the charter was initially published and distributed in multiple languages —including Burmese, English, Kachin, Karen and Mon—and highlighted the continued struggles of displaced farmers, exploited workers, student activists, religious minorities and ethnic groups surviving in conflict zones of the country.

“We the People determine our own destiny,” the publication states. “We are—and we must be—the principal drivers for change.”