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March Calls On NZ Govt To Assist People Of Burma

Protest News: March Calls On NZ Govt To Assist People Of Burma

Report and Images By Joseph Barratt

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Auckland in support of Burmese democracy over the weekend.

The colourful protest was to show solidarity with the people in Burma and to pressure the New Zealand government to do more on the international stage to put an end to the human rights abuses by the military junta ruling Burma.

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They highlighted what they consider to be the hypocrisy of the New Zealand government condemning human right abuses in Burma but still allowing millions to be invested in Total through the Superfund.

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Total is a French oil company and that has come under pressure in recent years for its ongoing work in Burma which many see to be propping up the military junta, there have also been reports that Total used forced labour to build pipelines.

Longtime democracy activist Pe Khin Aung, spokesperson for Burma Campaign New Zealand called for a halt for business with the ruling junta.

“Don’t do business with the Burma military regime, they are using that money to kill us.”

The protest comes after several weeks of high profile unrest in Burma where the popular movement calling for democracy was met with brutality and mass arrests.

For many it brought back memories of the 1988 uprising that saw the government kill thousands of demonstrators on the streets of Rangoon.

Many of the speakers were adamant about the need for the international community to intervene, to stop the possibility of a return to August 8, 1988, known as 88.

“Please don’t wait until millions are dead,” asked Pe Khin Aung.

Human Rights advocate Maire Leadbeater spoke at the event, “We have to get together to make sure ‘88 doesn’t happen again.”

“We can’t support democracy and invest in Total.”

Politically it was represented from across the spectrum with support arriving from Green Party, National Party, and other human right and union groups. Noticably absent was anyone from the Labour Party.


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