Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist specialising in South Asia. He works for the human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide and serves as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission. He has visited Burma and its border areas 18 times, and is the author of A Land Without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma’s Karen People (Monarch, 2004).
Tomorrow, across Burma, people are expected to be staging a mass protest. It is possible that this could be the biggest demonstration since 1988 – the year when thousands of peaceful protestors were slaughtered by the Burma Army. A demonstration will be held in London in support of the brave people of Burma – from 12noon until 1pm tomorrow, at the Burmese Embassy at 19A Charles Street, London W1 (nearest tube: Green Park) – see map here.
This latest movement began on Sunday, when more than 400 Burmese people led by prominent pro-democracy activists staged a rare and courageous protest in Rangoon against massive fuel price rises. “We are staging this performance to reflect the hardship our people are facing due to the government’s fuel price hike,” said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students’ Group. Burma’s ruling junta, the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), imposed a surprise 100 percent hike on fuel at state-owned gas stations last week. The move was followed by increases in bus fares and commodity prices. The government did not give reasons for the increase.
According to a statement from the Burmese Democratic Movement Association:
"The people’s suffering has got to a level where they are no longer able to live their lives in any way normally: they are no longer able to travel to work or provide basic necessities. The recent protests are the only option the people feel is left to them to request that the SPDC retract their orders regarding the price hikes.”
I wrote about the 1988 movement, and the current situation in Burma, on this site just two weeks ago. If you read that article, and look at what is happening in Burma right now, I hope you will agree that the brave people of Burma deserve our support. The best way of expressing solidarity with them would be to join them tomorrow. Please come.