Thursday, September 17, 2009

Burmese Monks Coming to Pittsburgh to March for Peace and Human Rights During G-20 Summit

At least 20 Burmese monks will arrive in Pittsburgh next week to take their case before the world leaders gathered for the G-20 Economic Summit.

The monks plan to hold a press conference at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, on the roof of the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh project at 330 Sampsonia Way on Pittsburgh's North Side. They then plan to lead a Peace Walk to Point State Park to participate in a rally planned for Thursday afternoon.

On Friday, Sept. 25, the monks plan to join in what is being called the "People's March to the G-20" starting at noon.

Joined by a busload of Burmese expatriates from neighboring states, the saffron-robed monks will commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the 2007 Saffron Revolution in Burma, when 100,000 monks stood up to one of the most repressive regimes in the world, risking their lives in their call for freedom and dignity.

Leading the delegation will be Venerable U Kovida, who marched in Burma's 2007 Saffron Revolution, and is now in exile in the U.S., along with Venerable U Agga Dhamma, who was repeatedly tortured during his five years in Burmese jails.

As one of the leaders of the Saffron Revolution said "We marched because we believe in freedom and democracy and (were) willing to make sacrifices to reach those goals. The Burmese military regime brutally cracked down on the uprising, leaving dozens killed, thousands arrested, and monasteries emptied."

A Human Rights Watch report being released this month chronicles the doubling of the number of political prisoners in Burma to over 2,000 in the last two years, as well as the declining living standards of the monks. Thousands of monks remain unaccounted for, over 200 remain imprisoned, and monks continue to be harassed and arrested. Over 20 monks from the Saffron Revolution are currently living in exile in the U.S.

The monks coming to Pittsburgh are not able to return to Burma and are using their freedom to call the international community to take more decisive action. The monks will appeal to the world leaders to support their call for basic human freedoms in their country.

Other activities related to the monks' visit include:

Wednesday 9/23
• 7 p.m. - Burma VJ film (documentary of Saffron Revolution) sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh at The Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way. Panel discussion and reception after film with monks from Saffron Revolution.

Thursday 9/24
• 9 a.m. - Press conference with testimony from Saffron Revolution on roof of City of Asylum/Pittsburgh 330 Sampsonia Way. Peace Walk from 330 Sampsonia Way to Point State Park Venerable U Kovida to speak at People's Voices/Public Tribunal.

Friday 9/25
• Noon - Monks join in The People's March to the G-20.

More information is available at www.burmesemonks.org.

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