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Two-Minute Take: U.S. to Provide $44 million for Vulnerable People in Burma and Bangladesh
It’s great to see the United States providing humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and people displaced by violence and conflict in Burma. What else can the United States and fellow democracies do to help Burma make a successful democratic transition?
I’m proud to see the United States be the world’s largest humanitarian donor and especially to see our country’s leadership in supporting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and those who are suffering in Burma's Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states. Still, responding to the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis doesn’t end the crisis. We must also respond to the cause of crisis. We need to think about what made these people flee in first place and use our resources to address that problem. Without addressing the root cause, the cycle of human rights abuses and humanitarian crises will continue.
All open, democratic, free societies must share the responsibility of helping Burma realize how to build a pluralistic society that protects its minorities, which is a fundamental principle of democracy. Burma's successful transition should be important to free nations around the world.
As today’s democratic societies can attest, democratization is difficult process. Even though Burma’s government is worthy of criticism, we must not lose hope in Burma's democratization.
How should the Burmese government respond to this assistance?
The Burmese government must allow immediate access to humanitarian aid across all conflict areas including Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states.
If Burma is serious about moving toward a democratic society, it must stop victimizing its own minority groups. When the Burmese government shows its commitment to protecting minority rights and ending the country’s ongoing crises in a peaceful manner, Burma will gain wide international support in its transition.
Jieun Pyun is a Manager for Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She is primarily responsible for development and implementation of the Liberty and Leadership Forum, an innovative educational and training program that equips young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed during a democratic transition. The program currently engages young leaders from Burma (Myanmar).
Prior to joining the Bush Center, Jieun was the communications director with the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and a fellow of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia at Southern Methodist University.
Jieun currently serves as a council member of the National Unification Advisory Council of the Republic of Korea and the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Korean School Principals. As a proud member of the Korean Women's International Network, Jieun works to promote women’s leadership in local, national, and global politics and society. Jieun is a writer and presenter who has brought to light the many urgent issues suffered in North Korea.
A native of South Korea, Jieun is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with an M.B.A and B.A. in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.Full Bio
Policy Recommendations: Investing in Democracy in Burma
Burma: Now is the time to invest in democracy and achieve lasting peace
Diaries from Seoul
This September, Human Freedom Manager Jieun Pyun, Leadership Programs Manager Chris Walsh, and Human Freedom Fellow Victor Cha led select Liberty and Leadership program alumni on a week-long training program in Seoul. The scholars took home lessons about South Korea’s democratic transition and economic growth. Below are daily team check-ins from Jieun and Chris.
Where is Burma’s Moral Leadership?
After the Holocaust, the world pledged that such a genocide would never happen again. We have since witnessed its horrors in Rwanda and the Balkans. Now, it appears to be happening again in Burma, demonstrating the dearth of moral leadership at the highest levels of Burma’s government.