1 million signatures needed to help stop things getting worse in Burma
The Burmese generals have used terrible violence to stop the democracy protesters in Burma, but reports indicate that the democracy movement's resolve is holding – and so must ours in supporting them.
Avaaz.org is calling calling on supporters to tell all their friends about their online campaign so that they can reach their target of 1 million signing their petition!
Burma's generals have brought their brutal iron hand down on peaceful monks and protesters -- but in response, a massive global outcry is gathering pace. The roar of global public opinion is being heard in hundreds of protests outside Chinese and Burmese embassies, people round the world wearing the monks' color red, and on the internet-- where our petition has exploded to over 200,000 signers in just 72 hours.
People power can win this. Burma's powerful sponsor China can halt the crackdown, if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government and other key countries, Avaaz is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign on Wednesday, including full page ads in the Financial Times and other newspapers, that will deliver our message and the number of signers. We need 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China's attention.
If you're wondering what else – direct and ongoing – you can do besides signing the online petition, there is a range of things. More solidarity protests are coming up across the world, with the international campaign for democracy in Burma (based in the UK) calling for an international day of action for Burma for 6 October. Details of these and Australian protests (4 October in Sydney, Melbourne details TBC) are on Avaaz.org's Burma campaign page (scroll down). If you, like me, missed the protests around Australian capitals last Thursday, please make an effort to go along to the next lot.
The UK based Campaign for Human Rights and Democracy in Burma also has excellent coverage of the issues and events – both of the protests in Burma and actions in the EU and UN to support the protesters.
Should we boycott?
Also, Phil at Veni Vidi Blogi has suggested a boycott of the Beijing Olympics to increase pressure on China – Burma's main supporter, and seen as a sure avenue to pressure the junta to back off from increased violence. While I agree with a boycott that pressures the Chinese, I do wonder if a Beijing Olympics boycott is too far off to garner the necessary attention and immediacy needed now. But perhaps the effectiveness of such a boycott lies in people talking about and threatening it now.
That's why I think any boycott should also target the Burmese regime and other companies that profit from operating in Burma.
For many years in the 90s, tertiary Student Unions in Australia boycotted a certain soft-drink company because it had bottling operations in Burma. Now, we're not just talking about student activists not buying the drinks. This was a highly organised ban of the affected brand's vending machines, sponsorship of events and cross-promotional activities on campuses. Also, the relatively recent widespread boycott and ILO campaign against Triumph bras for their operations in Burma were also very successful – Triumph pulled out of Burma as a result.
Perhaps this will re-open that nasty old wound of Lonely Planet guides publishing their travel guide to Burma in defiance of a long standing boycott of tourism in the country. The UK's Burma campaign has more on that boycott here.
If you want to think more about boycotting or writing in protest against companies doing business with the military junta in Burma, there is a list of such companies here, but it's unclear how current the info is.
There a whole range of photos of protesters in Burma at this site, including of those shot and injured (I'm posting a link instead of posting a photo for copyright reasons) – take a look, but I'm cautioning that some of the photos are quite disturbing.