September 29, 2007

SOLIDARITY: Human rights activists carry a picture of Myanmarese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and anti-government banners during a protest Friday outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta. The activists condemned violence by the country's military rulers against protesters in Yangon. JP/Ricky Yudhistira

Anger spreads against junta

The deadly crackdown in Myanmar sparked demonstrations against the country’s military regime across the globe amid mounting international anger, while the junta’s Southeast Asian neighbors expressed “revulsion”. More than 100 human rights activists and students gathered Friday in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta to protest violence by the military junta, which has killed at least nine people, including a Japanese journalist. Among the protesters were 40 students from the Nalanda Buddhist School. They wore red shirts to show solidarity with Myanmar’s monks. Dozens of activists from the group Indonesian Solidarity for the People of Burma joined the rally. They distributed postcards and flowers, and carried a picture of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The postcards contained a message for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to promote democracy in Myanmar and to free Suu Kyi. Muhammadiyah youth activists also condemned the crackdown on Myanmar’s anti-government protesters. AFP reported that public outrage over the shooting of demonstrators in Yangon spilled over into clashes between Australian police and protesters outside the Myanmar Embassy in Canberra. There were also public demonstrations outside the Myanmar missions in London, Paris, Geneva, Rome and other major cities. Hundreds of people who gathered outside the Myanmar Embassy in Rome included ministers from the center-left government. “We must not be discouraged and throw in the sponge, we must do everything possible to defend the monks in Myanmar,” said Emma Bonino, Italy’s minister for European affairs and foreign trade. French socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal joined demonstrators in Paris. About 2,000 Myanmar people gathered outside their country’s embassy in Malaysia and Southeast Asian nations, which have traditionally held back from criticizing the junta but are now taking a stronger line. While the United States tightened economic sanctions, China, the closest ally of the generals running Myanmar, was also working to calm the deadly unrest in Yangon, China’s premier was reported as telling his Japanese counterpart on Friday. Ministers from the 10- nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, “expressed their revulsion to Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities”. In Manila, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo called for the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners while the U.S. administration ordered a freeze on the assets of Myanmar’s military leader Than Shwe and 13 other senior officials. (08)