As the sound of the singing gave way to equally moving speeches, Burmese speakers and local politicians reminded us that no dictatorship is ever permanent, no matter how invincible it may seem, and that the people always - and always will - win in the end. There were calls to ensure that actions such as international arms embrgoes and other actions and sanctions against the Junta are upheld and achieve their targets. People of all faiths and beliefs were united in a buddhist ceremony, together hoping and praying for the peace and wellbeing of all, and in a minutes silence to remember those who have died.
I spoke with one Burmese man, who had lead the chanting throughout, congratulating him on maintaining his voice and his enthusiasm throughout well over an hour of shouting. He replied poignangtly, "That is nothing... I have been shouting this same message several times every day for over three months". I told him his voice was a blessing on the people of his country, but could not help wondering, how long does he have to shout before people hear and take notice?
Around 100 people on the march signed the Big Red Petition, made of a 10metre long piece of red fabric, symbolising the monks robes, calling for Gordon Brown to act to bring about peaceful change in Burma (see www.burmacampaign.org.uk & www.petitions.pm.gov.uk/Burmacrackdown). As well as their names, many added their own personal demands, calling for a withdrawal of all business links with Burma and companies who support the dictatorship, and messages of support. Words such as "our hearts are broken for you, we cry out to God for the healing of your nation", "The World is watching", The often repeated "solidarity with the people of Burma!" and simply "You are not alone", speak of the depth of feeling, unity and support that people around the world have for these people and this issue. I recently read a quote from a woman in Rangoon that said "the international community did nothing during a three day killing spree. It was then that I realised we were alone". I only hope that, in a country where informaon and communication is as supressed as the people, messages such as those people shared will reach people like this lady, and assure her and compatriots that they are not alone, thousands and millions around the world are watching their struggle with anger and passion and calling on those in power to act.
(Please share your support for the people of Burma by participating in the "Total out of Burma" day of action, this saturday, 24th, or by visiting www.burmacampaign.org.uk)