A thousand red roses and a jailed comedian

It’s been all go in the press office these last few days. Last night saw a fantastic gathering of hundreds of Amnesty supporters outside the Chinese embassy to mark the 19th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.  It was a genuinely moving event. Tiananmen Square survivor and 1989 pro-democracy campaigner Shao Jiang gave the most impassioned speech of the evening:

“We are here today, not to beg the Chinese government. We are here to demonstrate the power of the powerless. “We are here to warn them not to underestimate our determination and persistence. One day, our small actions will bring a big change. Human dignity will prevail in every corner in China.”

Then it culminated in a thousand red roses being held aloft in a minute’s silence to remember the thousands who perished in the brutal crackdown on 4 June 1989.There’s more from Thomas in his blog at the Indie’s Open House site. I hope the people filming us from the embassy window enjoyed it! (There go my plans to go and watch the Olympics).Meanwhile, this morning saw the launch of a couple of Amnesty reports on Burma. Our researchers are a brave bunch, and one of them has spent the last month interviewing hundreds of people throughout the Cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta. Now visiting victims is a dangerous business, and indeed reports were surfacing this morning that one of Burma’s leading comics, Maung Thura, has been arrested for doing exactly that. He has apparently been detained for the “crime” of giving aid to cyclone victims.However, that is far from the worst offence being conducted by the Burmese junta in the aftermath of the cyclone, according to our report. It details the horrific truth that the government is putting the lives of its own citizens at great risk. Thousands are being forced out of emergency shelters and being told to return to their cyclone-hit villages. Meanwhile, there are a growing number of reports of government officials confiscating and withholding aid. The Independent touches on the story today.The second report looks at the growing number of crimes against humanity in Eastern Burma. The Karen people have suffered at the hands of the ruling junta for years, and the new report details atrocities from both sides over the last 24 months. It makes pretty gruesome reading. Both reports were launched this morning live from Bangkok.

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