- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2007

LONDON (AP) — Demonstrators in cities across Europe and Asia joined yesterday in protests against the military junta in Burma, where some activists held covert vigils for those killed and arrested in the crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrations.

Hoping to send Burma’s ruling generals a message that “the world is still watching,” rights group Amnesty International organized marches in more than two dozen Asian, European and North American cities.

Some observers predicted the protests would have minimal effect on an inward-looking military elite that has largely ignored world opinion and pressure during its 45 years in power.

There were no visible demonstrations in Burma’s largest city of Rangoon, where bans on gatherings of more than five persons are enforced by soldiers, but some in the city and elsewhere in the country prayed in their homes at the suggestion of a Buddhist monk interviewed by Radio Free Asia’s Burmese-language service.

The military has acknowledged detaining hundreds of Buddhist monks — who are revered in the deeply religious nation and spearheaded the mass demonstrations — and the party of the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday that 210 of its members were arrested during the crackdown.

Before demonstrations began in London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for new European Union sanctions against the junta, including a ban on future investment in the country, which is officially known as Myanmar.

The United States has warned it would push for U.N. sanctions against Burma if it fails to respond to the world’s demands for democratic reforms.

Burmese monks scattered flower petals in London’s River Thames and led about 3,000 people — some chanting “Burma, Burma, Free, Free” to a rally in Trafalgar Square, where Amnesty International’s chief Irene Khan declared, “Burma is not a human rights emergency of today, last week or last month. It is a human rights emergency that the world has chosen to forget for the last 20 years. We will not forget this time round; we will not let the people of Burma down.”

The international day of protest began in Melbourne, Australia, where some 200 people marched behind a banner demanding “No More Bloodshed.” In Sydney, Australia, some 200 marchers dressed in colorful clothes to show their support for what some are calling the “saffron revolution” after the Burmese monks’ robes.

In Washington, dozens of protesters demonstrated in front of the Burmese Embassy before marching to the embassies of China and India, two close allies of the Burmese junta.

In Taipei, Taiwan, hundreds braved a typhoon to demand action from the international community. Smaller crowds turned out in Bangkok and Manila. In Malaysia’s biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, 300 people attended a candlelight vigil Friday evening.

In Paris, police blocked several hundred protesters, including monks, from marching on the Chinese Embassy. The crowd stood in front of the adjacent embassy.

Demonstrations that began in mid-August over a sharp fuel price increase swelled into Burma’s largest anti-government protests in 19 years. The government says 10 persons were killed in the subsequent crackdown, but dissident groups put the death toll at more than 200.


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