Friday, 23 November 2007

First time since 1965

These students took the opportunity to express their concern, anger and determination during the current ASEAN Leaders' Summit in Singapore. Although they could not make it to the venue of the meeting, Shangrila Hotel, hopefully the message that they had wanted to send and conveyed had been taken into consideration.

From Asia-Pacific News
Students defy police, march along Singapore's premier boulevard

Singapore - International students defied police and marched along Singapore's premier boulevard on Monday, calling for 'peace, justice and democracy' in Myanmar.

Two groups of National University of Singapore students, coming from Britain, Canada and the Netherlands, donned red T-shirts with the message 'Peace, Justice and Democracy for Burma.'

They held lit candles as they walked from Orchard Road in an unsuccessful bid to reach the Shangri-La Hotel, the venue of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders' Summit.

Police have repeatedly warned protests would not be tolerated under Singapore's laws during the summit.

'When we reached the corner near the Shangri-La, the police confronted us and warned us that we will be in danger of breaking the law if we push on,' said Pia Muzaffar, one of the protesters.

'We hope that this will catch the attention of the leaders and they will hopefully take it into account,' she said. 'We also hope that more people will come out and show solidarity with Burma.'

The students dispersed after the police warning.

Myanmar has become the focus of protests worldwide after a violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in September in Yangon, killing at least 14 people.

Various human rights and democracy groups are calling on ASEAN leaders to expel or suspend Myanmar for the violent suppression of the monks and students.

But ASEAN has refused either option, and told the international community that it was dealing with Myanmar's problems within the 10-member grouping's 'family.'

ASEAN groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

ASEAN leaders are set to sign a landmark charter on Tuesday, upholding democracy and human rights in addition to paving the way for an European Union-style community in 2015.

A group of Singapore activists called on ASEAN on Sunday to remove the section on human rights from the charter, viewed as the group's constitution, and make it a treaty.

Critics have noted that the charter does not have enough 'teeth' to enforce the human rights provisions.

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