As the feeding frenzy that is Frankfurt Book Fair gets into full swing, a more mindful energy is fuelling the monks leading the people power revolution against the Military Junta in Burma. Last Saturday, thousands of demonstrators marched from Millbank, looped across the River Thames, and ended up in Trafalgar Square, carrying placards and declaiming: íNo more bloodshed, free Aung San Suu Kyi!ë ; íStop killing monks now!ë ; íDemocracy now!ë ; íSecurity Council action now!ë; íTotalitarian oil out of Burma!ë
Beneath Nelson’s column, on a platform between the two magnificent lions at its base, monks prayed and chanted, accompanied by drums. Various speakers including MEP Glenys Kinnock demanded a global ban on imports, and for China, Thailand and India to stop colluding with the Burmese Junta in arms dealing and trade. A former political prisoner, and a representative for the National Council for the Union of Burma, spoke of life under a regime which tries to break the human spirit in myriad ways; where torture is a norm and there are no human rights, lawyers or trial system. Conclusion: íThe monks show courage, which international governments lack.ë
After the rally was over, I spoke to Pascal Khoo Thwe, author of From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey about Aung San Suu Kyi’s Letters from Burma and Justin Wintle’s Perfect Hostage. As further reading, he recommended George Orwell’s Burmese Days, Karen Connelly’s The Lizard Cage and Emma Larkin’s Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop. When it comes to untranslated writers, clearly there are discoveries to be made — he suggested veteran journalist and author Ludhu Daw Ama, and the poet Tin Moe as good starting points.