The ethnic communities of Burma Minnesotans held a vigil on the southern end of the Wabasha Bridge in St. Paul last Sunday. The few dozen protested with candles, flags and signs in support of the monks and civilians in Myanmar and denounce the military government.
Aung Koe, organizer and Burmese community leader, and chair of the Burmese Buddhist Temple, said the goal is to make the community aware that the world needs to make the Myanmar regime stop persecuting innocent people.
“We plan to do this every week until the military government steps down,” said Aung Koe. “We believe that we are almost there. Its time to help the helpless.”
The protests in Myanmar by students and monks brought a glimmer of hope to a nation, and to millions of exiled peoples of Burma, living in camps or worse, that the regime would finally come to an end. It was met with increased violence against unarmed people, as the world condemns these actions in the cover of secrecy, the people of Burma want more to be done that sanctions and condemnation.
Now, as military leaders and soldiers begin to flee the country with their families, for refusing to take part in the bloody crackdown, Koe said that the lesson is in Buddhism, where it is taught that nothing is worse that to assault a monk. Under cover of curfew, this regime lined up monks and allowed soldiers and hired thugs to killed them in humiliating and brutal fashion.
“Now the world must be the voice for the people of Burma, forced into their homes where soldiers and thugs are free to come and arrest, loot and kill at will,” said Koe. “There is a need for awareness in America, and the world, to encourage governments to demand that the Myanmar military regime step down, now.”
Zaw Win Maung, a Burmese community leader, pointed to the red flag with the bird at the center – the “All Students Burma Democracy Flag.”
“It is a symbol of resistance called the “Fighting Peacock,” he added. “This flag, together with the National League for Democracy that was elected in 1990, could be seen in the streets of Burma during the recent demonstrations. The students began the march and the monks followed.”
Aye Chan Wai, 14, is a 9th grader at Johnson High School in St. Paul. She was born in Bangkok as a Burmese refugee and has lived in Minnesota for the past 8 years. She still has family in Burma and worries for them as well.
“This is upsetting to me and I feel bad for the people of Burma,” she said, hopeful that there will be change soon.
In the two years since Kaung Zan came to Minnesota from the refugee camps in Thailand, he and his spouse have started a new life and now have their first child together.
“In Burma, they cannot protest now and so we must support them,” he said.
The ethnic peoples of Burma are requesting the world to call on the ruthless military junta, in power since 1962, to end its bloody 45 year-reign.
A “Peace Walk for Freedom and Justice in Burma” will be held on Sunday, October 14, 4:00 p.m., beginning at the Centlivre Apartment complex and proceed to the Courthouse downtown via Clinton.
The monks from Jetavan Temple are helping to organize the march with some of the lay people. There will be a candlelight vigil after, along with speeches by monks and supporters. Everything will be finished by 8:00 p.m.
Please wear wear red colored shirts, jackets, or sweaters if you have them.
There will also be a bike march that will leave from outside Grandma’s Restaurant at Seven Corners in Minneapolis around Noon. Bicyclists are encouraged to decorate their bikes and or carry signs for the seven mile ride along University Avenue to the State Capitol. The second component will be a rally to be held on the Capitol steps at 2:00 p.m. after the bicyclists arrive. Attendees will be addressed by leaders from the KaRen community and other concerned Minnesota leaders. (http://buddhism.meetup.com)