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TOC Report: Over 400 visit Burmese embassy to sign petition

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 1, 2007

*Video of the event here.

By Andrew Loh

I arrived at St Martin’s Drive, off Tanglin Road, at about 5 pm.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) had earlier posted a notice on its website asking the public to go down to the Burmese embassy to sign a petition of protest against the treatment the Burmese government is taking against its citizens in Burma. (link)

I wasn’t sure what to expect – as Singaporeans are known for giving the cold shoulder to such calls. As I walked up the hill which leads to the embassy, the number of people already there surprised me.

There were around 60 people. It was evident that most of them were Burmese nationals. Some were standing around chatting, others were seated by the kerb. A few were at the embassy entrance reading the protest messages which were pasted on the gates.

The number of signatures collected then was about 70.

At about 6pm, everyone’s attention was directed at the police who started filming the people there with their video camera. They went round the small crowd and video-taped everyone. This created a little uneasiness among the small crowd, some of whom then took out their digital cameras and started taking pictures of the police.

Otherwise, everyone was unperturbed. I was told that the police had earlier issued a warning to Dr Chee Soon Juan that what he was doing constituted “an illegal assembly”.

Reading the messages pasted on the gates of the embassy revealed the strong emotions which belied the peaceful gathering. “Stop the bloodshed! Stop murdering”, said one. “Stop and spare the lives of the monks” was another. “We want real independence!”, “Free Aung San Syu Kyi!”. “Stop killing your own people! It’s inhuman!”, “Monasteries are not rebel grounds. Get permission before enter!”.

Even the United Nation’s envoy to Burma was not spared, “Gambari, open your eyes and don’t deliver false message!”

Heartfelt sentiments mirroring the solemn mood there.

The embassy itself, which was nestled between residential homes, was silent. I found it rather ironic when compared to the heavy military presence we see in Burma, where the troops are reported to be guarding monasteries and some homes to prevent the monks from staging further protests.

As the sun began to set, candles were lit and placed by the roadside as everyone observed a vigil for the Burmese back home. It was conducted in a quiet manner. Each would take a stick of candle, walked to his or her own corner, lit the candle, placed it on the floor and sat by it in silence. It was a contemplative moment to say a prayer for their fellow countrymen – family, friends, relatives who must be living in fear back home.

The police tried to stop people from walking into St Martin’s Drive – asking for their names, NRIC number and if they were “going in there”. They were stationed at the entrance to the road as well, with their filming equipment recording the comings and goings taking place. Nonetheless, more people turned up as the night wore on.

Some came alone while others came in groups of 4 or 5 – which included a few Singaporeans. They all proceeded straight to the table to sign the petition. Most stayed on for the candlelight vigil while others left after signing the petition. The number of protest messages at the embassy gates had also increased. The embassy gates were covered with these messages.

At around 9pm, the crowd had swelled to about 100 and the signatures to more than 200.

As I looked at the rows of candles on the ground, the poster of Aung San Syu Kyi placed directly opposite the embassy, and the faces of those present, I realized that the violence of recent days are not so far removed at all.

One has to salute the Burmese for putting up a dignified, silent and peaceful protest in the face of some of the most brutal treatment by their own government against their fellow men.

During the time I was there, more than 400 people had visited.

When I left at 11pm, the number of signatures collected was more than 300.

*Click on pictures to enlarge

*Read the SDP’s account of events here.

*You can see more pictures of the event here.

*Read also: “Vigil/protest outside Burmese embassy in Singapore” by One Less Car and “When a permit is required for compassion – disgusting” by Looking For LaLaLand.


15 Responses to “TOC Report: Over 400 visit Burmese embassy to sign petition”

  1. KY THU said

    Thank you for the life line at 0990032 / pls get this message to Mr Darkness, we thank him for allowing us to use the UGN.

  2. KY THU said

    They have tried to shut down the internet, but we will get through. We will succeed now with the Internationale Gaming Network supporting us!

  3. Bamarthu said

    Thank you Singaporeans for your empathy and Thank you Andrew Loh for this report. Nice to know that there are Singaporeans that still care. Some of the Singaporeans that I’ve talked to are either too ignorant or just can’t be bothered. You guys are different and we’re grateful for it.

  4. naing said

    Thank you for writting the report. I and my friends went to the embassy last night but the police ask for our permit. My friend was afraid to get in trouble so we turn back. Tonight we will go to the temple at Balestier because we hear no police will be there. Please all go to the temple no police will dare go in because it is holy ground. Thank you.

    ဂုဏ္ေတၾ ယူဴပီး မိုးေရေတၾဳကားထဲ သၾားသၾား ရႀာဳကည့္ခဲ့မိတယ္။ အိပ္မက္ေတၾ အထိပၝပဲ။!!

  5. is it appropriate for PM Lee to address Than Shwe as His Excellency ?

    I have been silent on writing about the situation in Burma. The truth is I’am embarassed reading the ongoings in Singapore related to reactions on the happenings in Burma, about the police asking Burmese to take off tshirts with sympathy

  6. Gerald said

    I think our police don’t have a sense of proportion.

    The Myanmar govt is killing its own people — they claim only 10 killed, while foreign ambassadors estimate many times that; People are protesting against the brutal regime all over the region, from Indonesia to Bangkok to Philippines to Malaysia; And here are our policemen, banning peaceful protests, harassing people who are just going to sign a simple petition and intimidating them by filming them.

    Kudos to all who went down to sign the petition.

  7. at82 said

    The empire strike back!

  8. David said

    “is it appropriate for PM Lee to address Than Shwe as His Excellency”

    Our gahmen doesn’t have moral authority. As long as anything that can make them rich, i won’t be surprised that he will also address Than Shwe as
    : ‘My (Money) God’.

  9. Kai Xiong said

    Just came back. The tally now is just below 700 I think.

  10. Guy Next Door said

    It’s reported by UK papers that the Junta is moving to Singapore. More foreign talent!!

  11. ofey said

    I had served my national service with the 2 police officers who were recording the crowd and they’re pretty nice chaps. I just wanted to say that alot of the time, they’re simply doing what orders are sent down from the top and that there’s someone else pulling the strings from up top. Where these orders come from, I guess we all know but if you’re ever at one of these events, believe me when I say that alot of the time, these officers don’t want to do anything either but it’s their job and they simply have to do what’s asked of them.

  12. Petition From Singapore to End the Oppression in Burma

  13. mehi said

    Regarding ‘nice chaps’ in general: if one really believe that one is wrong, the most ideal thing to do is to discharge themselves/quit – its just very rare.. It simply means they chosen their job, their family, their ‘promotion’, to follow orders, over the feelings that “they don’t want to do anything either” – which we all can understand. I know nice people like that too. I just won’t be that quick to defend them though. Do they really have no other option? Can they only be police?

  14. […] Thugs Target Peaceful Protest – Martyn See: Guard dogs of St. Martin Drive – The Online Citizen: Over 400 visit Burmese embassy to sign petition – The Online Citizen: Candle light vigil at Burmese embassy – What Others Say?: Strategic Analysis […]

  15. dominatio21 said

    One of the cops asked me if I knew I’d be taking part in was an unlawful activity, & that is was his duty to inform me so.

    I think I have an even bigger duty to stand beside my people who are still being killed, beaten & imprisoned back in Burma. It’s not that I have anything against cops, nor do I have any intent to cause trouble unnecessarily. But really, what’s the harm in a peaceful candlelight vigil? If the monks were brave enough to face armed soldiers, how can I possibly allow myself to be intimidated from doing something that is morally right?

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