Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Glastonbury Festival: Little Burmese Tea Shop

Democracy activists from Burma will have a tea stall in the The Green Futures Field at the Glastonbury Music Festival called the "Little Burmese Tea Shop". Tea shops are an intrinsic part of Burmese life - people meet in tea shops throughout the country to speak in hushed tones of the political situation in Burma.

At Glastonbury 2008, the Little Burmese Tea Shop will be focussing on the issue of political prisoners in Burma. Our campaign - to raise awareness on the plight of Burmese political prisoners, and to pressure the military junta to release them - is part of a wider campaign organised by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners for Burma (AAPPB). AAPPB provide valuable and very risky support to political prisoners inside prison, through low profile provision of materials and financial support to their families; enabling the families to visit prisoners who are held far from their loved ones. The stall holders at Glastonbury 2008 are all former political prisoners, and are on hand to speak with visitors to the Tea Shop. Funds raised at the Tea Shop will go to supporting victims of cyclone Nargis which struck Burma in May 2008.

The Tea Shop is also bringing 2 speakers to the Speakers Forum (Friday 15.30 and Sunday morning). Our speakers are Dr Saing and Zaw Zaw Aung. Dr Saing is a medical practitioner who is a long standing political activist in Burma. Arrested in 1974 for political activities as a student, he served 7 years in Insein prison, of which several were in solitary confinement, and during which time he was tortured. After release Dr Saing became active again during the 1988 uprising in Burma, for which he was again imprisoned, serving 7 years of his 20 year sentence. He fled to the UK in Oct 2007, and currently works with Amnesty International. Dr Saing will speak on recent events in Burma, including the monk’s protests of 2007, the recent rewriting of the constitution, as well as his own personal experiences as an activist.

Zaw Zaw Aung was a senior figure in the student body that organised the 1988 uprisings. For this activism he was arrested and served as a political prisoner for 14 years (out of a 20 year sentence) in various prisons across Burma, including several years in solitary confinement. Since his release he has played an important role in supporting former political prisoners in both social welfare and on HIV. He also became very significantly active in a new underground political movement inside Burma, called the ‘88 Students Generation’ (people who were key players in the 1988 uprising, have been political prisoners, and are struggling for genuine tripartite dialogue and national reconciliation).




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