The International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) decided to send a joint international fact-finding mission on the Thai border with Burma to collect first-hand information on the wave of repression. The objective was also to discuss with Burmese pro-democracy and human rights groups about possible international strategies to contribute to the democratisation of the country.
The mission, composed of four members from Australia, Belgium, and Thailand, stayed in Bangkok and on the Thai-Burma border from October 13 to 21. The mission did not travel to Rangoon or central Burma as the risks involved for the people interviewed would have been too high.
Alison Tate, ACTU International Officer was a member of the joint ITUC-FIDH mission representing ITUC.
Below are excerpts from the interview and to read more …
“The world people should know we are ready for democracy. We are worth democracy …” 88 Generation student leader and former political prisoner who went to Rangoon after he saw that soldiers opened fire on people, on CNN TV.
“We feel very encouraged by the candle vigils and protests in other countries. But it is not enough… I want to appeal not only to the Buddhist monks, not only to the Buddhists, but to all people… The crackdown in Burma is real … There should be an authoritative organization, the UN, in our country, to witness what is going on”. A monk from State Pariyatti Sasana University, Rangoon; who fled Burma because of the danger of being arrested for joining protests, September 2007.
“We were surrounded by the soldiers. When the military said the monks could leave, they refused to go without all the people being allowed to leave. The monks said, ‘No, we are in the same boat…” Civilian leader who negotiated with the military commander during the protests near the City Hall, Rangoon, September 26th, 2007.
“We tried to collect a list of deaths during the protests but it is very hard. We have only 12; one was beaten to death at night and died in hospital. Two people died during interrogations. One body was not given back to his family: They only later confirmed the body was cremated”. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma – AAPPB
“I think there will be another protests because people have seen monks beaten, and more even economic hardship. Some people could only eat one meal a day. They have to eat rice soup”. 22-year old university student, participant in Rangoon street walks, September 2007.
“We were brutally tortured. China and Russia are using their veto power and supporting the regime which is torturing us. Two veto powers. We feel these two powers are destroying our eyes. (…) China and Russia have no eyes and no ears”. Rangoon street vendor, participant in Rangoon street walks, September 2007.
See attachment for Eye Witness Accounts