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Take Action to Support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma -- mass protests have reached a critical point!

If you have not been following the news of recent protests by Buddhist monks in Burma, get yourself to CNN. And consider joining the US Campaign for Burma (link: http://www.uscampaignforburma.org/).

Meantime, below is a recent news update from the week's news from Reuters, reporting on the brief outdoor appearance of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, affectionately known as Daw, or Mother, to her many supporters. She is the longtime leader of the Burmese pro-democracy movement, the National League for Democracy. Suu Kyi has been living under house arrest there for 12 of the last 18 years and, in a historic step days ago, stepped out to greet courageous Buddhist monks and nuns who braved arrest and beatings to pray in front of her house and demand her release. Their actions are part of a mass street mobilization led by tens of thousands of Buddhist monks who are leading a peaceful protest to demand an end to her house arrest and return of democracy to Burma, which is controlled by a repressive military junta. The US government is backing Burmese democrats, and issued a warning to the junta there to avoid bloodshed or a violent crackdown on the peaceful protesters.

Now is the time to add your voice to support Burma's pro-democracy activists, and the National League for Democracy that is led by Suu Kyi - a truly historic and brave woman leader who deserves our outspoken support.

About the WLD party led by Suu Kyi: "In the 1990 parliamentary elections, the party won 392 out of 492 seats, but the ruling military junta (formerly known as SLORC, now known as the State Peace and Development Council or SPDC) did not let the party form a government. Soon after the election, the party was repressed, but a number of elected representatives escaped arrest and formed the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) to carry out the struggle for democracy and freedom."

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_League_for_Democracy

STORY from REUTERS
Myanmar's Suu Kyi meets protesters

Aung San Suu Kyi comes to the gate
to meet the monks [Reuters]

About 300 Buddhist monks have held a prayer vigil in a town in northern Myanmar, a day after hundreds of them marched past the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's iconic democracy leader, in the capital, Yangon.

People in Magway, about 375km north of Yangon, said that the monks protested for about an hour on Sunday before dispersing.

Marches against military rule over the past five days have attracted thousands of young monks to the streets of Yangon and other cities including Mandalay.

A month of protests, begun by civilians against economic hardship and fuel-price increase, has now grown into the biggest grass-roots political protest in two decades.

Tearful encounter

On Saturday, the army allowed about 2,000 monks and civilians to pass a roadblock and gather by Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside home on University Avenue.

She greeted them from the house where she has been detained for 12 of the past 18 years.

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Witnesses said Aung San Suu Kyi was in tears as she greeted the cinnamon-robed monks.

The 62-year-old Nobel Peace prize winner has become an internationally recognised figurehead of Myanmar's pro-democracy movement.

They were chanting for around five minutes before she and two other women stepped out of a side door of her home, one witness said.

Unable to hold back her tears, Aung San Suu Kyi waved to the monks and their supporters as they paused outside the gates to chant prayers for peace.

The monks spent about 15 minutes chanting the same Buddhist prayer they had recited through much of their earlier march in Yangon, the witnesses said.

"May we be completely free from all danger, may we be completely free from all grief, may we be completely free from poverty, may we have peace in heart and mind," they intoned.

Chanting supporters

Some of their supporters broke into tears as they joined in with their own refrain, chanting in turn: "Long life and health for Aung San Suu Kyi, may she have freedom soon."

The military often posts armed guards to block traffic on University Avenue to prevent traffic from passing by, but witnesses said the monks had persuaded the 20 armed guards to raise the blockade.

Myanmar protests

Protest timeline

Myanmar who's who

Video: Life under military rule
"They told the guards that they just wanted to go to pray for Aung San Suu Kyi, because we are Buddhists," one witness said.

The guards did not interrupt the monks during their prayers, but closed the roadblock after they left.

The gates to her compound stayed shut throughout, but one witness said that at one point, Aung San Suu Kyi was only five feet away from the monks.

Monks are rumoured to be planning another march at midday, while one underground group has called for nationwide prayer vigils to begin.

Media blackout

For their part, Myanmar's military rulers have refused to tell citizens about the protests, choosing instead to fill its state-run newspaper with reports of floods and traffic.

Monks have marched in rains to keep up
their protest in Myanmarese cities [AFP]
There were no reports on Sunday of the monks' protests.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar prominently featured a story about General Than Shwe, the government head, sending greetings to Saudi Arabia on its national day.

Inside, there were stories on floods, paddy plantings and efforts to prevent river erosion.

The newspaper derided the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi as "incompetent and seeking political gain".

The NLD won elections in 1990 by a landslide, but the Myanmarese military never recognised the result.

To do your part, go to the website of the US Campaign for Burma, get more educated and take an action. At the very least, contact your local US Congressperson and let them know you support Suu Kyi and Burma's democracy movement. There are petitions around the world you can add your voice to. Start here:

http://www.uscampaignforburma.org.

-- ACD

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