Third anniversary of Buddhist monk massacre in Myanmar commemorated

By Asia News, Sept 28, 2010

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Politicians, human rights activists and religious leaders took part in a peaceful sit-in in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Colombo yesterday. They called on the world not to forget, highlighting the difficulties democracy encounters in Sri Lanka itself.

Human rights activists, lawmakers and religious leaders took part in a sit-in organised by Friends of the Third World (FTW) to commemorate the massacre of Buddhist monks in Myanmar on 27 September 2007.

For about an hour, protesters sat silently in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Colombo, holding placards and banners with signs in English and Sinhala that said, “Free Political Prisoners,” “Listen to the People”, “Stop Killing – Freedom to report,” and “Release Aung San Suu Kyi.”

FTW Chairman Freddy Gamage told those present that the protest was meant to remember the brutal crackdown in Myanmar. In his address, he called on its ruling military junta to restore democracy to the country.

Leftwing political leader Siritunga Jayasooriya told AsiaNews that three years ago Buddhist monks took to the street, demanding democracy and greater respect for human rights, but were attacked, beaten, arrested and killed by the Myanmar military. “We appeal to the government of Sri Lanka and to that of Myanmar to stop the violence,

establish democracy and release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest,” he said.

Rev Marimuttu Sathivel, an Anglican priest, also expressed his solidarity with the people of Myanmar (Burma). He slammed the military’s brutal crackdown and called for the democratic world to intervene in favour of democracy and freedom in Myanmar.

For Ashila Niroshini, of the movement Stand Up, a human rights organisation, there are no major differences between Myanmar and Sri Lanka because “our democracy is being wiped out as well”. 

A former Member of Parliament, Baddegama Samith Thero, said, “We cannot go to Myanmar to protest. Therefore, we need to unite with the monks and people of Burma here.”

The Venerable Madampagama Assaji Thero, secretary of the Dharma Sahkthi Foundation, told AsiaNews that his group too expressed “full solidarity and support for the monks and people of Myanmar.”

Few Buddhist monks took part in the protest, none from

Myanmar, probably for fear of being identified.