Sun, Oct 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Marchers back Myanmar demonstrators

HARD CORE Amid stormy weather and flooded streets, every Burmese participating in the demonstration wore a mask of imprisoned democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite the strong winds and heavy rain brought by Typhoon Krosa, more than 100 Burmese and Taiwanese marched in Taipei City yesterday to support ongoing demonstrations in Myanmar.

In recent weeks, pro-democracy activists in Myanmar have staged protests against the military junta, which reacted by launching a violent crackdown.

To show their support for the pro-democracy movement at home, Burmese living in Taiwan organized a march as part of the worldwide Global Day of Action for Burma yesterday.

Dozens of countries around the world also held marches yesterday.

"Following nearly half a century of the junta's rule, Myanmar has become a horrible place to live in," said Lee Tse-cheng (李澤成), an ethnic Chinese who left Myanmar 13 years ago. "That's why we wanted to stand up and tell more people about the situation there."

Lee said that most Burmese who move to Taiwan are ethnic Chinese who speak Mandarin.

The demonstrators began their march at the Taipei City Council building and proceeded amid stormy weather and flooded streets.

"Free Burma! Free Aung San Suu Kyi!" they shouted.

Every Burmese participating in the march wore a Aung San Suu Kyi mask. Tsai Ya-ju (蔡雅如), a member of the Taiwan Aung San Suu Kyi Network, said the masks were a symbol that "while one Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest, tens of thousands of Aung San Suu Kyis are still out there."

"I'm here despite the stormy weather because I was really touched by the Burmese people who are so convinced to fight for their own country," Tsai said.

"I truly believe that the junta will collapse next year, and Aung San Suu Kyi and other democracy activists will be released," Tsai said.

Chung Wei-pei (鍾偉培), another Burmese man who attended the march, was jailed for two years in the late 1960s for being a member of an anti-government guerilla movement.

Chung sought asylum in Taiwan 19 years ago following his involvement in the 1988 anti-government protests.

"Abuse of civilians by soldiers for no reason is common in Myanmar -- that's why people continue to rise against the junta," Chung said.

"I'm glad to see that the scale of the protests is growing," he said.

After the march was finished, demonstrators paid their respects to the activists who had died during the violent crackdown, while Buddhist Master Shih Chao-hui (釋昭慧) chanted sutras.

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