Toronto Demands Change In Burma
It was incredible. From the Chinese consulate on St George to Queens Park, the streets were owned by the 'Free Burma' movement last night.
The demonstration was part of the Global March for the People of Burma, a protest held in concert around the world in support of Burma's monks, many of whom have been arrested, tortured and/or disappeared since the brutal military crackdown last month.
Hundreds of people participated in the demonstration that culminated in a candle light vigil led by Buddhist monks on the front lawn of Queen's Park.
Toronto's protest also targeted the Canadian government. Marchers and speakers demanded that Prime Minister Stephen Harper get involved and put pressure on the Chinese government to withdraw their support of Burma's military regime. China is Burma's largest trading partner and military hardware provider.
The star-studded cast of speakers included Jack Layton, Olivia Chow, Peggy Nash, Judy Rebbick, Michael Craig (Amnesty International) and Paul Copeland (Toronto Burma Round Table/lawyer). Stephen Harper, although invited was a no-show.
Looking out at the sea of red and candle light, I was overwhelmed by the support Toronto showed last night. 5 years ago when I was an active member of the Toronto Burma Round Table, we were lucky if we could coax 60 people to attend a vigil for Aung San Suu Kyi or honor Wal-Mart with the Sweatshop of the Year Award, (it was a bright yellow gaudy paper mache trophy).
I guess it's easier to spark compassion with images of bloodied monks than Canadian CEO's who do business in Burma.
Photos by Richelle Forsey