Hundreds Joined ‘8888’ Demonstration in London
London, UK: More than 200 Burmese and British supporters yesterday braved London’s drizzle in a protest as part of 8.8.08 Global Day for Burma, commemorating the 20th anniversary of student-led ‘8888 Uprising’.
The protesters, wearing ‘Free Burma’ T-shirts and ‘Fighting Peacock’ headbands which symbolise the University Student Union and its Fighting spirit for justice and freedom, demonstrated peacefully in front of Burmese embassy, calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma.
Standing inside a ‘dummy’ iron prison bar in front of Burmese embassy, a former potilical prisoner Ko Zaw Zaw Aung told Chinland Guardian: “We all come here today to show that the spirit of ‘8888’ is still alive and that we are still fighting for democracy as we remember those who gave their lives in the fight for democracy back in 1988, . Today’s demonstration signals clearly that the peoples of Burma are standing against the military regime.”
With some holding a big banner that reads ‘None of us are free while one of us is in chains’ and placards reading ‘Free Aung San Suu Kyi, Free all political prisoners’, the protesters from prominent Burmese political figures to babies as young as one filled up the street, shouting slogans ‘Free, Free – Burma, Burma’.
“Today we are here gathering together in solidarity without brothers and sisters who are in prison in Burma. And we are here to commemorate the 88 uprising. Also at the same time, we are here to demand for the release of our fellow citizens of Burma who are currently in jail in Burma. And we are calling on the regime to release all political prisoners immediately and on international communities to push Than Shwe and the generals to secure the release of all political prisoners including our democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and to start a tripartite dialogue with the opposition party and ethnic nationalities,” a Karen activist, Zoya Phan of Burma Campaign UK told Chinland Guardian.
“The longer we wait, the more people will die; the longer we wait, the political prisoners in Burma will suffer and die. People in Burma do not have the rights to access to their freedom of expression and opinion. But here, we can do that. So we need to appeal to our freedom and rights to free the peoples of Burma who have suffered too much,” added daughter of the late KNU General Secretary Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan.
A ceremony of consecrating and unveiling a glass monument dedicated to the political prisoners in Burma was held in the morning with more than 50 participants at Peace Garden on the grounds of Imperial War Museum. “This monument is dedicated to the political prisoners of Burma and will be temporarily held in the UK. Then it will be one day placed in Burma where it belongs when we have democracy,” said a former political prisoner, Ko Aung of Burmese Democratic Movement Association.
During the 88 uprising which ended on September 18, 1988, the long-standing military dictatorship slaughtered thousands, mostly monks and students. It is estimated that those killed 20 years ago today and in the subsequent crackdown range from 3,000-10,000. The regime also suppressed peaceful pro-democracy uprisings in 1996 and 2007. Today there are more than 2,000 political prisoners in Burma, many subjected to brutal torture and denied medical care, according to Burma Campaign UK.
Van Biak Thang
09 August, 2008