Just Freedom

Utica, New York

A Haitian friend, No name-devout Catholic--said this: "We are born free. God wants us to be free." It seems No name's Catholic God and the God of the Buddhist Burmese people are in collaboration here.

Freedom. It's not too much to ask for, is it? When you don't have it, it's just everything.

About 50 people gathered this afternoon in Utica to listen to a talk about Burma in the small park bordered on the west by Genesee Street and on the east by Park Avenue. A large tent canopy sheltered the speaker, who stood at a podium. To his left, a life size portrait of detained Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi leaned against the backdrop. Folding chairs lined up in neat rows on the grass. Most of the attendees were seated, but a number of people in the crowd stood in the back, including a Buddhist monk wearing saffron robes.
Some background: the military dictatorship took power in Burma, now called Myanmar in 1962 when General Ne Win and his officers overthrew the constitutional government. Since then, Burma has been engaged in a civil war between various ethnic groups. It's also become one of the world's poorest countries, despite many natural resources, including forests/wood products, natural gas fields, and seafood. Soe Htut, a Utica based pro-democracy activist said the "regime" uses profits from the country's resources and "buys all kinds of weapons."
Ne Win and his Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) established a 1974 constitution without the people's consent. As the world watched, a nation wide democracy movement in 1988 forced the military to organize another general election in 1990. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won 80% of the seats in the May 1990 election, but the military ignored the results and has retained control of the country to the present. According to the fact sheet distributed at the rally, the military plans to draft a constitution that would legitimize military rule in Burma.
The subject of the portrait, Aung San Suu Kyi, is under house arrest in Myanmar, a condition she's endured for thirteen years with no end in sight.

"She was arrested because the government is afraid of her," said Name DELETED, an English speaker who emerged from the crowd to translate. "She (taught) people about democracy and human rights, and the whole country believed in her."

Name DELETED generously shared his cell phone with me, allowing me to speak with another activist, Nameless. Speaking from Ithaca, Nameless said they will march on September 21st from the Chinese embassy in New York City to the U.N. to demand freedom and democracy for the people of Burma and an end to the military dictatorship that has held the people in its iron grip since 1962. Nameless said he was a political prisoner in Burma for seven years. A former union leader, he was arrested because he led a demonstration against his country's dictatorship. He's now based in upstate Ithaca, but will continue to fight for democracy for his people. The march to the U.N. will kick off a nationwide effort to gain support for the Free Burma movement. Activists will visit forty U.S. cities, including (cities in) Connecticut, Chicago, and Washington D.C.
The info sheet provided to me included the following resolutions, in rough translation:

1. To solve current social hardships in Burma (imposed) by the miltary government.

2. To stop the crackdown with violence on all those who peacefully demonstrate, including civilians, students and Buddhist monks.

3.To release all those who (recently) peacefully demonstrated.

4.To release (Daw) Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, U Khun Tun Oo, leaders of ethnic groups and all political prisoners.

5. To accept the meeting of tri; the military, NLD (National League for Democracy) party, and ethnic groups for (the) restoration (of) unity of Burma.

Forced labor is common in Burma, said Name DELETED, where slave labor is used by the regime for building roads and other work.

"Freedom," he said, "that's all we want."
"We don't call it government," he explained, referring to the country's rulers. "The regime doesn't want to give up its power." He said the government has been using civilians as paramiltary thugs-- spying on, harassing and beating fellow citizens. He described a peaceful demonstration a few weeks ago in which Buddhist monks were beaten while chanting prayers for the Burmese people. Burma is more than 80% Buddhist. The current protests are against fuel price hikes which saw prices rise 500% overnight, and corresponding price hikes in food.

"About 150 protesters have been arrested (in the August 28th demonstration) and nobody knows where they are," said Name DELETED. In the country he and fellow activists call Burma but known officially as Myanmar there's no due process, no rule of law, and as he described it: when people are in prison, anything can happen and nobody knows about it.

If you want to talk to Name DELETED and learn more/or get involved with the Burma/Myanmar democracy movement you can call 315-&&&&000. Do a search. Real names attract trolls.

More about Myanmar in Asia Times http://www.atimes.com/
If you have additional facts and/or updates to add, AND YOU ARE LEGIT please email me. No attachments. No links.

1 comment:

USpace said...

Thank you for helping. FREE Burma!!!

Bush slammed the UN and the rulers of Myanmar in his UN speech last week. The only country that has any influence over Myanmar is China, and they can't and won't push too hard. There is too much Oil & Gas there that they need.

The UN must do something, but they never use military force to fight.
That is a huge problem.

Illegal drug and ruby fortunes are a BIG part of this too.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
complete narco states

criminals in power
loving the corrupt drug war

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
shoot peaceful protesters

calling for democracy
which you must never allow

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
keep trying communism

you can never KILL too much
pursuing Utopia...