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On Anniversary of Crackdown on Monks, Americans Hold 200 Events For Change (click to view PDF)

Saffron Revolution Spawns Global Action

U.S. Campaign for Burma Press Release
For Immediate Release

September 25th, 2008
Contact: Aung Din (301) 602-0077

(Washington, DC) On the one-year anniversary of the Burmese military regime’s violent crackdown on peacefully demonstrating Buddhist monks that landed on the front page of newspapers worldwide, American human rights activists have organized over 200 events demanding global action for change in Burma.

In September 2007, thousands of Buddhist monks took to the streets of Burma, calling for an end to decades of military dictatorship in a movement labeled the “Saffron Revolution.” The monks also called for the release of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma.

Than Shwe’s regime responded with force to the Saffron Revolution, killing dozens of monks and protestors, raiding monasteries, and locking up thousands of political prisoners. Over 2,100 political prisoners remain behind bars, nearly twice as many as had been locked up before the crackdown.

“By shooting monks, Burma’s dictator Than Shwe has instigated a global backlash to its rule, and thousands of Americans now want to get involved,” said Jeremy Woodrum, co-founder of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “And Burma’s peaceful revolution is alive and active inside Burma as well.”

The anniversary effort, spearheaded by the U.S. Campaign for Burma, will see film screenings, letter-writing events, and organized information meetings in 35 U.S. states. As part of the event, organizers are sending thousands of postcards to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to support a global arms embargo on Burma’s ruling military regime and seeking the release of all political prisoners in the country.

Additionally, demonstrations, vigils, and marches will take place in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, and San Francisco. The film screened at the events will include a new interview with U Gawsita, one of the monks who led the Saffron Revolution.

The United Nations Security Council responded to the crackdown on the Saffron Revolution by calling on the military regime to release all political prisoners in Burma — a demand that has been avoided by the regime. Yet, the Council remains deadlocked on further measures due to
China’s threat of a veto. Activists are calling on the world body to make it illegal to sell arms to Burma’s military regime, but China has indicated it will protect Burma’s regime from any concrete action at the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has shown very little initiative on the matter and has not sought to overcome China’s resistance.

Interest in Burma has skyrocketed since the Saffron Revolution. In the United States alone, tens of thousands of Americans have signed up to help the U.S. Campaign for Burma. Hollywood stars, musicians, and others have also joined the campaign, producing dozens of short videos drawing attention to the human rights crisis in Burma.

Burma’s military regime is among the world’s most brutal. Besides locking up Suu Kyi, the regime has recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world and destroyed 3,200 ethnic minority villages, forcing millions of villagers to flee their homes as refugees or internally displaced.