Brown promises more action against Burma repression

By staff writers
October 6, 2007

Though the main media attention went to his apparent decision not to call an immediate general election, Prime Minister Gordon Brown today vowed to maintain "pressure for change" in Burma, ahead of demonstrations against suppressed protests in the country.

Meeting Burmese monks and pro-democracy protesters, Brown said the international community should work to move towards democracy.

So far the United Nations has not been able to wrest an effective response from Burma's military dictators, whose regime has killed between 10 and several thousand opponents in the past fortnight (accurate estimates are impossible).

Campaigners gathered in over major 40 cities worldwide to back Buddhist monks who want military rule to end, with many more taking action in smaller localities.

A London rally was staged in Trafalgar Square and attracted up to 2,000 people and tens of thousands of messages of support, with speakers and supporters from Free Burma UK, Amnesty International, and religious and political groups.

The prime minister declared: "We will not tolerate the abuses that have taken place. And I want all the other leaders of the world to work with us, to achieve the progress that all of you people want to achieve in Burma - an end to abuse of human rights."

He went on: "We want the violence to stop against the people of Burma, and we want to move forward with a process of democracy and reconciliation."

Mr Brown, who welcomed demonstrators ahead of the London event this morning (6 October 2007), said he wanted the United Nations Security Council to oversee a "process of reconciliation" in Burma, and called on the European Union to impose further sanctions on the country's regime.

The prime minister said an extra £1m would be found for emergency humanitarian aid for the Burmese people.

Meanwhile, the Support the Monks in Burma page on the social networking website Facebook has reached over 330,000 members, making it one of the largest groups on the global, and one of the fastest growing. One thousand people have been joining every hour.

“We are showing that the eyes of the world are still on Burma, that ordinary people are showing their solidarity and support,” said Johnny Chatterton, the UK co-ordinator for the group. “We are breaking new ground in grassroots e-activism.”

The site was set up on 19 September to support the Monks in Burma who were marching for freedom. By September 29 100,000 had joined. Last weekend nine people joined every second.

The group has been planning and co-ordinating events for the Global Day of Action on Burma on 6 October 2007, with events taking place in 41 cities in 15 countries on 5 continents.

Yoko Ono Lennon has sent a message of support to the monks via the Facebook site: “There is no way we will forget you. Now that your work of letting the world know is done, I wish you to stay alive in peace and health. The world desperately need your wise and gentle spirit. You help all people of this planet by just being. Please try to be alive for the world. I will try the same. With my deepest respect and love, Yoko Ono Lennon.”

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