Sunday, 30 September 2007
Over a thousand people turned out in Central Auckland on Saturday 29th September to support the peaceful revolution in Burma that is inspiring the world. The demostration was called by the Solidarity Union, and supported by the Council of Trade Unions (NZ), Burmese Federation of Trade Unions, the Burma Support Group (AUSA), Amnesty International (NZ), the Service and Food Workers Union, the NDU, the Green Party, Socialist Worker, Greens on Campus, Radical Youth, Pax Christi and Global Peace and Justice Auckland. A National MP even spoke- which was more than could be said of NZ's ruling Labour Party, who were conspicuous by their absence. The Labour government wants to negotiate a free trade deal with Burma, and has refused to impose sanctions on the dictatorship since 2005.
Joe Carolan of Solidarity Union introduced the speakers, and called on NZ student and trade unions to take action to support their words-
"Now that the MyanMar military Junta has smashed the monasteries, beaten, imprisoned and murdered the monks, and opened fire on the people in the streets, there can be no retreat. All work and trade must stop. A General Strike must paralyse the nation.
Workers and student organisations are now on the frontline in Burma. Our NZ student and trade unions have a moral duty to support them in this time of need. The CTU has backed todays protest. But Burma needs more.
The trade unions of New Zealand are the largest democratic organisations we have. Unions who came today should take up workplace collections to support the Burmese Federation of Trade unions, whose representative Naing Ko Ko joins us here. They know best how to deliver the support to the resistance at home.
All NZ companies who profit from slave labour in Burma should be the targets for future protests- NZ does 4.4 million dollars of dairy business with the Myanmar regime, and the Super Fund invests in Total Oil's exploitation of Burma's reserves. Helen Clarke wants to sign a free trade deal with the regime. All should immediately be stopped. There can be no trade with a slave labour regime."
Naing Ko Ko of the Burmese Federation of Trade Unions paid homage to the Buddhist monks, who led the march down Auckland's Queen Street. He said that the struggle that they have started must be continued by the country's workers and students, many of whom are now forced underground. Tinmama Oo of the Burma Support Group in Auckland University Student Association pledged that her generation of Burmese would never give up and never surrender, and that one day the brutal military dictatorship would be overthrown.
John Minto from GPJA warned people not to trust groups such as the UN Security Council, ASEAN, the US Military or the politicians in power to solve the crisis. He looked to the huge outpouring of internationalist solidarity from ordinary working people to deliver the support to the Burmese resistance as the only power Burma's people could trust.
The revolution in Burma will inspire the workers of Thailand, who are living under the iron heel of the Thai military with little condemnation fromthe Western political establishment. The revolution in Burma will inspire the workers of China, who were slaughtered along with the students of Tiananmen Square when they stood up from freedom in 1989, The revolution in Burma has inspired the people of Aotearoa, who will continue to organise practical solidarity for the resistance in the weeks and months to come.
Video of the Auckland protests and speeches