Tens of thousands of campaigners are expected to take to the streets of capital cities around the world today (6 October 2007), including London, to call for urgent United Nations action on Burma. Prime Minsiter Gordon Brown is meeting demonstrators.
The campaigners are standing in for the monks under arrest and those who would be shot if they tried to protest in Burma.
“Our friends and families in Burma cannot take to the streets so today we will do it for them. We may be far away but that does not mean we are powerless - we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and keep the world’s attention focussed on their plight,” said Myo Thein, a Burmese refugee who fled the country in 2003.
Protests will be taking place by noon in dozens of countries around the world and on five continents.
The international day - supported by the Burma Campaign, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Avaaz, the US Campaign for Burma and hundreds of other groups - is calling for UN Security Council action to address the crisis.
Campaigners are also urging the international community to do more to keep the pressure on the Burmese government until the military crackdown ends and all political prisoners are released.
“Because the media pictures have gone and we can’t see what’s happening does not mean the crisis has ended, far from it. Now is the time we need to draw attention to what’s happening behind closed doors or atrocities will increase. Today we’re saying we haven’t forgotten you, we are watching,” said a spokesperson for the campaign.
Around the world campaigners will wear red headbands in solidarity with the monks under arrest and tie these onto government buildings, religious shrines or key landmarks to signify the thousands of lives currently hanging in the balance.
In London, the day of action will start at 11am with monks leading a march from Tate Britain over Westminster Bridge where they will drop petals into the Thames. They will then stop and tie robes onto Downing Street gates before proceeding to a rally at Trafalgar Square.
“The British government must do more to end this crisis. The media pressure may have decreased but the people of Britain are saying we expect you to act to end the violations of basic human rights,” said Zoya Phan who is organising the London events.
Timings of the demonstration:
10:00 Gordon Brown meets campaign delegation in Downing Street
Names of delegation:
U Uttara, Head UK Burmese Monk
U Visuta, Senior Burmese Monk
Myo Thein, former political prisoner, Campaign Manager, Burma Campaign UK
Zoya Phan, political exile, Campaign Manager, Burma Campaign UK
Glenys Kinnock, MEP and Patron of Burma Campaign UK
Irene Khan, Secretary General, Amnesty International
Brendan Barber, General Secretary, TUC
11:00 Marchers assemble at Tate Britain
11:05 Chanting led by Buddhist Monks
11:30 March moves off down Millbank and across Lambeth Bridge
12:00 March reaches Westminster Bridge (crossing South-North)
12:20 March comes to a stop outside Downing Street where monks tie
robes on to black gates of Downing Street
12:45 Marchers start arriving in Trafalgar Square, all wearing red headbands
13:00 Rally starts
With acknowledgements to the Free Burma UK campaign: http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/