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Protestors march for Burmese monks along Mill

 by Kendall Wright
 published on Monday, October 8, 2007

<b>MONK MARCH:</b> Burmese refugee Myintm San rallies during a march led by a group of monks along University Drive Saturday./issues/news/702136
Andrea Bloom
MONK MARCH: Burmese refugee Myintm San rallies during a march led by a group of monks along University Drive Saturday.
 

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About 100 Valley residents marched against a government that is halfway across the world Saturday.

Buddhist monks representing the U.S. Campaign for Burma led supporters dressed in red — the symbol of bravery for the monks — as they marched down the length of Mill Avenue in protest. The march, put on by The Burmese Activists of Arizona, began at the Memorial Union, where a memorial for the people of Burma was held.

Since mid-August, pro-democracy movements have been led by monks and civilians of Burma against their government. Although the protests have been peaceful, the current government, the junta, has attempted to silence the people with extreme acts of violence.

"The current situation in Burma has only gotten worse," said Pyi Kyaw, a Chandler resident and recent ASU graduate at the march. "Burma has been suffering like this for 45 years under the military dictatorship. People have the right to freedom. It is important that we as human beings need to support these movements for those human rights reasons."

Saturday was designated a Global Day of Action for Burma by the Burma Campaign U.K. as a result of worldwide outrage of the Burmese government's concentrated effort to squelch the country's peaceful pro-democracy protesters. Protestors in more than 100 cities worldwide also held marches Saturday.

Protests for democracy began Aug. 15 when the junta doubled gas prices in the country. The move became the last straw for civilians living in one of the poorest countries in the world.

This is the second time that the Burmese people have risen against their country.
In 1988, peaceful protests for an elected civilian government led by students turned into a bloody massacre.

More than 5,000 people were killed at the hands of the junta and about 1,500 political prisoners are believed to still be imprisoned under harsh conditions.

Recent demonstrations for democracy continue to be led by thousands of Burmese monks despite shootings, beatings, killings and arrests by the junta.

Currently, there has been a reported ten people dead, as well as more than one thousand arrests and rising.

"The monks and students have definitely been treated unfairly," said Chandler resident Myo Thane. "That is why this march is important — to support the human rights and freedom that activists all over are protesting for the Burmese people."

The march presented a good opportunity to raise awareness and also to encourage governments worldwide that the current democracy movement needs as much support as it can get, he said.

Burmese–born Dr. Aung Khin of Anaheim, Calif., was among the group of supporters. He has been active in the fight for democracy and the improvement of the country since he escaped with his five children 31 years ago.

"The junta are treating the people like animals," Khin said, "They are a sub-human species because they act with no heart and no brain. They are selfish barbarians reigning terror inside Burma."

The march is among many movements that will bring international attention to the state of Burma that will hopefully send a message to the United Nations, Khin said. The civilians of the world are not fooled by the junta's actions, he said, and neither should the U.N.

"This dictatorship knows how to manipulate people, including the United Nations," Khin said. "They know how to manipulate people, but they don't have any idea how to improve the poverty of the country."

Reach the reporter at: kendall.wright@asu.edu.



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