Monks’ leader speaks out from hiding and pledges to continue protests in Burma แกนนำพระสงฆ์ ยืนยันจะสู้ต่อ ในพม่า

Excerpts from an article published in the Washington Post on November 4, 2007 by U Gambira, leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance สหพันพระสงไนพม่า, which led nationwide protests in September. Wanted by Burma's military junta, he is living in hiding as he continues the monks' campaign.

In August, the Burmese people began to write a new chapter in their determination to find peace and freedom. Burmese monks peacefully protested to bring change to our long-suffering country. As we marched, hundreds of thousands of Burmese and our ethnic cousins joined us to demand that military rule finally give way to the people's desire for democracy.

Video and the Internet have allowed the world to witness the brutal response directed by Gen. Than Shwe, Burma's military leader. Than Shwe unleashed his soldiers and once again the streets in Rangoon and Mandalay ran red with the blood of innocent civilians.

Hundreds of our monks and nuns have been beaten and arrested. Many have been murdered. Thousands of clergy have disappeared. Our sacred monasteries have been looted and destroyed. As darkness falls each night, intelligence units try to round up political and religious leaders.

Military rule has brought Burma to collapse. Our economy is in ruins. We are an enslaved people.

At the United Nations, China and Russia continue to block the Security Council from facilitating a dialogue between democratic forces and the regime. Within our region, senior officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have condemned the regime's actions but have done little else.

All efforts must focus on making UN Security Council members take the steps necessary to force the generals to come to terms with the people. This involves setting a timetable for the regime to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and allow free assembly. The council should also seek a ban on all arms sales to the regime.

People ask whether I am disheartened and whether this latest spasm of democratic activism is over. The answer to both questions is no.

Since August I have watched a new generation of activists join to call for freedom. And I have watched as many in the police and military give so many of us quiet help. The primary tools wielded by Burma's senior generals, a climate of fear and the use of violence, are no longer working -- and with nothing to lose, we are no longer afraid.

On Wednesday (October 31, 2007), more than 200 monks staged a protest in Pakokku. Their spirit and determination are a warning to the regime and those that prop it up. Burma's Saffron Revolution is just beginning.

Now it is the generals who must fear the consequences of their actions. We adhere to nonviolence, but our spine is made of steel. There is no turning back. It matters little if my life or the lives of colleagues should be sacrificed on this journey. Others will fill our sandals, and more will join and follow.

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