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'Silent March' for suffering Burmese people

Mizzima News, January 4, 2008

London, UK -- Burmese monks across the globe are set to hold a silent march in London to highlight the plight of Burmese people who despite 60 years of independence remain in the clutches of military dictators, according to the organizers.

The International Burmese Monks Organization (UK), formed with monks across the globe, said it will conduct a silent march on the day after Burma's Independence Day, January 5, to point out that Burma continues to remain under the yoke of dictatorship which brutally suppresses its people.

"We hope that this event will encourage Burmese monks and people to continue showing their opposition to the brutal regime by peacefully marching in silence on the streets of Burma," U Uttara, a guest lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, said in a statement.

Burma was known as the 'rice basket' of Asia after independence from the British colonial rulers on January 4, 1948. However, the economy began to deteriorate and the country saw severe poverty after General Newin, in a military coup, grabbed power in 1962.

Despite several protests and uprising by the people demanding change in the political system, the military junta violently suppressed any acts of dissent. The recent demonstrations against the ruling junta came about in August 2007, when over 100,000 people led by Buddhist monks took to the streets demanding an end to military rule.

However, the ruling junta responded with a brutal crackdown on protesters killing at least 31 people and arresting and detaining thousands of monks and protesters.

"We as Buddhist monks want change in our country through dialogue and to resolve the Burmese issue peacefully. But if the regime refuses, they should be punished by the international community including the United Nations," U Uttara told Mizzima over telephone.

The Buddhist monk added that their main objective in conducting the silent march was to attract international attention to the issue they are facing at home.

Thant Tun, one of the organizers of the march, said the march will be joined by Burmese monks based in Europe, Japan, Thailand and Siri Lanka along with UK based Burmese activists.

"Without mounting pressure the Burmese junta will never change and while imposing sanctions or pressures it should include China, India and all neighbouring countries otherwise it will not effect the regime," Thant Tun added.

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