Pinoy Workers went bald in solidarity with the protesting monks in Burma

2007-09-28 - judyp

By Judy a. Pasimio

In an act of solidarity with the thousand protesting monks, and ordinary women and men in Burma, Filipino workers shaved their heads in front of the Burmese Embassy in Makati City, Philippines.

"The Filipino working class joins the peoples around the world in condemning the brutal suppression by the military junta of the protest movement in Burma. We add the voice of the workers in the call for democratization in Burma, freedom for political prisoners and an end to the military rule," says Ms. Yuen Abana, member of the Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers' Party).

Different groups and sectors of the Philippines social movements have been actively demonstrating their protest against the Burmese military, and expressing their solidarity with the people of Burma. For the past week, demonstrations and pickets in front of the Burmese embassy in the Philippines have been held almost on a daily basis, as the protest actions in Burma continue.

However, the Philippine government has been lame in expressing its condemnation, or even just disapproval, of how the Burmese military junta is dealing with the legitimate acts of protest of the people. Even the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), which has traditionally practiced the "no interference policy", has recently expressed "their revulsion to Burma Foreign Minister Nyan Win over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities."

In today's national newspaper, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo was quoted as saying that when she delivers her report at the 62nd United Nations General Assembly Friday (New York time), she would also reiterate her call "for democracy in Myanmar and for the release of its advocate Aung San Suu Kyi." And that's all she has to say. But what do we expect from a president whose idea of democracy and freedom is the freedom of the military and state thugs to kill political activists and those who express dissent?

Ms. Abana said that the Filipino workers "sympathize with the situation of their Burmese brothers and sisters for we suffered the very same exploitation and very same abuse under the Marcos dictatorship. In fact, the burgeoning protest movement in Burma against the price increases recall to mind the welgang bayan (national strikes) of the 80's and 90's against economic hardship during and after the Marcos dictatorship."

The protesting group is calling for the ASEAN to act immediately, and have a workable formula that would facilitate democracy in Burma. I believe that the most workable formula is the expulsion of the military junta from the ASEAN, given its persistent stance of being not affected in any way of the shaming game that ASEAN timidly plays. For why would these illegitimate brutal military Burmese men be ashamed – looking around the ASEAN table, they are in good company - an illegitimate military junta leading Thailand, and the so-called President Arroyo who cheated her way through the elections, and whose administration has its own record of gross human rights violations and corruption.

While I join in the call for ASEAN to be more forceful in its condemnation of the violence of the Burmese junta, I strongly believe that the hope lies in the brave hearts of the men and women of Burma – those marching barefoot or with slippers in the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay and other cities, as well as those fighting for survival in the mountains of different ethnic states of the country.

This indeed, is a moment of international solidarity amongst peoples of the world with the women and men of Burma. Let us not let go of our rage, and of our hope.

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