Monday, October 01, 2007

UK - 'censorship' at Burma protest

Police stop filming in Battersea Park

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets this weekend to show support for the monks and pro-democracy demonstrators in Myanmar. The demonstration in London, organised by the Burmese Democratic Movement Association, brought up to 3000 onto the streets. Publicity for the event was organised through the social profile network Facebook. Even the organisers had not expected such high numbers from a hastily planned event. The procession had to continue along the pavement due to the late planning, but police were happy for it to proceed. Marching from Trafalgar Square the protesters continued along Whitehall past Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament and finished at the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park in South London.

But whilst the assembled crowd of Buddhist monks and demonstrators were allowed to take part in prayers and lay flowers at the Peace Pagoda, TV crews were prohibited from filming the event. Wandsworth Council disallowed the filming of the ceremonies saying that applications to film were too late to issue permits. Police were left to enforce the ban and asked film crews to desist from covering the proceedings.

The protest march was covered on Sky News, the BBC and CNN, however none of the networks were able to cover the all too important prayers and paying of respects to those who died including that of Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai.

Meanwhile news from Myanmar [Burma] is muted with few reports coming from the country. The army and police have all but crushed dissenting voices with CNN reporting 20,000 troops on the streets in Rangoon [Yangon]. There have been reports of small protests in Mandalay. Whilst troops patrol the streets, Ibrahim Gambari, the UN envoy arrived in the country to discuss the crisis with the military government [CNN]. He has already met with Aung San Suu Kyi and is attempting to negotiate a meeting with General Than Shwe [Sky News].

Protest marches were also seen in Manila in the Philippines and in New Delhi, India.

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