Amnesty International held their biggest annual grass roots campaign called “Get on the Bus for Human Rights” -which consisted of 500 people – mostly highschool and college students coming to New York to protest for the rights of many people around the world. One of the countries that Amnesty International shed its light on was Burma.
Even with the recent news of Burma’s road to reform, activists say that Burma’s political prisoners shouldn’t be forgotten.There are still many infringements on human rights that exist in the country today despite the country’s public announcement of change, they say.
Burmese artist/activist: Chaw Ei Thein:
Like Chaw Ei Thein, US Campaign for Burma Representative, Nickie Sekera came to protest in front of the United Nations to call to the international community for the release of Burma’s political prisoners languishing in its jails. Protesters yelled for the release of ethnic Karenni political activist, Khun Kawrio and student activist, Ko Aye Aung just two of the many political prisoners trapped in Burma. Nickie says it’s still too early to see if the changes are real because this road to change is fragile.
Nickie Sekera: I see the Burmese government performing but not reforming. There have been small steps taken, but there are still political prisoners that remain in jail- several hundreds. And until all prisoners of conscience are released, there will be protests.
The protesters, many of them students echoed the streets of New York on the abuses that people have felt because of the tormenting ways of governments. Students came from all around the nation to protest for the rights of human-kind, and one of those places they came from was Maine. Students took on the streets of New York encouraging justice and freedom in countries like Burma.
I came here because there are so many prisoners that need to be helped, and we have to shed a light and give a voice to those who cannot speak.
This event conveyed just how important the international community played in assisting people all around the world – giving voices to the voiceless and to create awareness on a situation that could otherwise have gone unnoticed. Amnesty International’s “Get on the Bus Tour” played a vital role in sending a message to the power of the students and echoed the same resilience that the ’88 Generation student leaders in Burma had in promoting democracy in their country.