- Ryan McAleer
Queen’s students were given the rare opportunity last week to listen to a talk from the head of Burma’s Government in exile. Prime Minister, Dr Sein Win (right) and his colleague Dr Thaung Htun, a UN diplomat, called on students to help mount pressure on Burma’s ruling military regime. He told the capacity crowd, “The time is now, the people are rising up. Don’t let them get away, this time we have a good chance.”
Dr Win, elected to the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) in 1990 is a first cousin to pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Along with Dr Htun he has been appealing to political leaders and students across Ireland to focus the outrage felt at the suppression of the recent protests in Burma for a final push towards democracy in the country.
The public meeting was organised by Amnesty International and Burma Action Ireland. Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty described Dr Win and Dr Htun as “fearless campaigners in trying to bring accountable government and human rights to Burma over the last two decades” Dr Sein Win described the present situation as crucial, he said “the people are now almost starving, they cannot tolerate anymore”.
Dr Thaung Htun also addressed the overwhelming turnout in the Student’s Union; he described the symbolic importance of the Student’s Union in Burma for producing heroes and leaders of the struggle for democracy. He told the many students in attendance, “Whenever I see young students, what I remember is, that is my dream, for the younger generation of our country to have the same kind of opportunities as you.”
Dr Htun recounted the sacrifice made by the student’s in Burma’s long struggle dating back to the military coup in 1962 and through the many other protests and upheavals including the mass slaughter of thousands of protesters in 1988. He described the courage of the students who still speak out on behalf of the people, knowing they can be arrested.
Before dispersing students were encouraged to help keep the momentum of recent outrage going through activism. For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/ni