GW Brief: Amnesty International students protest in conditions in Burma

GW’s chapter of Amnesty International is hoping to bring Burma closer to home. On Friday the student organization participated in the National Campus Day of Action for Burma.

The group handed out information about the country and articles on the country’s current state of affairs. The group asked students to sign a protest addressed to the Burmese Foreign Minister, Nyan Win, urging him to release those he was wrongfully imprisoned.

Since Aug. 19, thousands of monks and peaceful protesters have marched the streets of various cities in Burma voicing their opposition to the current government. The marches began when the government raised fuel prices by nearly 500 percent. Since then, the military government has arrested an estimated 1,500 people, including 1,000 monks.

An accurate death toll has been difficult to discern because of the country’s harsh media restrictions, but some believe the number of those killed could equal the number of those arrested.

The country has been engaged in internal strife for the past five to six years, said sophomore Leslie Jessen, a member of GW Amnesty International and an intern at the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

“Amnesty International has always known about Burma . this is just the first time it’s come to a huge head,” Jessen said. “The Burma issue has been one we’ve written a lot of Urgent Actions for (in the past).”

Most important to Amnesty International is that the Burmese government release those who have been imprisoned for voicing their discontent with the government.

Among those imprisoned is Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who in 1990 won Burma’s democratic election with 82 percent of the vote. Instead of assuming office, the military regime imprisioned her, according to Amnesty International. The organization also hopes to see free and fair elections held in the near future.

“(We want to) make what’s going on in Burma known,” Jessen said. He and other members of the group urged students to get involved, believing “more pressure is necessary.”

Amnesty International and other groups plan to write more petitions and organize more protests as a way to get the message out. On Nov. 6, War Child GWU will hold an event to focus on how the violent situation particularly affects children.

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