I said I would post the reply to my letter to Phil Goff (my constituency MP), prompted by the heartbreaking story of the gang rape of a teenager by soldiers of the Myanmar Army (I’ll refer to the army as the Myanmar Army because they do not serve the interests of the Burmese people, merely the gang of general who appointed themselves to rule Burma) and the generals’ response. When, two weeks later that letter had not even received a token acknowledgement, and because I came across a neat and easy way in which anyone can send an e-card about Burma to their representative, I wrote again. Persistence party off. That second message got a mechanical reply, but the two have elicited a human response (reproduced below), and the prime minister’s office (Helen Clark is acting foreign minister) has been asked to respond.
I know that such administrative responses mean little. But, if you were also to write to your representative (you could base your note on mine if you liked – or just send an e-card which will take all of 15 seconds plus the time needed to get your representative’s address) and if more than that you were to blog, facebook, twitter or whatever your action so that one or three of your friends did the same, little by little we can help wear away the stone hearted indifference with which the rich and comfortable (like most of us – since to read this you have Internet access and good command of English) respond to the suffering of others.
Here’s the reply:
Dear Mr Bulkeley,
I am writing on behalf of Hon Phil Goff to acknowledge receipt of your letters dated 1 September 2008 and 18 September 2008 about the situation in Burma.
Mr Goff has sought advice from Rt. Hon Helen Clark, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, about the issues you have raised and the Prime Minister will be replying to you directly on behalf of the government.
It is not uncommon for Ministerial replies to take some weeks to conclude. Mr Goff has been in contact with the Prime Minister’s office, and has been advised that you can expect a reply in the near future.
Please contact us again if you have not received a reply to your correspondence within the next 10 business days.
How about you do your bit, find out your representative’s email address, or your foreign minister’s, and send an e-card, tell your friends, and help erode the stone hearted indifference!