We, the HCUK Representatives, with Buddhist Monks and devotees from Nipponzan Myohoji Japanese Buddhist Temple, Milton Keynes arrived at the Tate Britain in London at 10.00a.m.
We were joined by Dipti Patel and Vishal Sharma and later by my daughter Radha and her friend Rakhee Parmar and by a South American lady from Columbia who was know to Glenn O’Halloran, the Flag bearer from the Nipponzan Myohoji Japanese Buddhist Temple, Milton Keynes.
Having met and spoke with the Met Police Chief Inspector Bird about the day’s schedule, one felt the sense of ease with which the Met Police, proactively, shook me by my hand and engaged with me fully to facilitate any information I cared to ask. The sense of solidarity with assurance of imminent peaceful procession was in the air. One could not but feel quite secure within it.
There were innumerable people thronging within minutes before 11.00 a.m. deadline.
The march began around 11.15 a little later than planned. There were plenty of volunteers from Burma campaign, Action Crisis and other partner organisations with pre-prepared banners, red head ties, and free T-Shirts. It was well organised and executed effort.
Two other friends of Dipti joined in during the march whose names escape me.
We marched with chants from Tate Britain across Lambeth Bridge, walking along the south bank of the Thames upto Westminster Bridge. Having crossed the Westminster Bridge, the procession turned right into the White Hall. From the Monks, only the selected Burmese Monks with Glenys Kinnock, European Labour Party MEP and others got the opportunity to meet the PM, Gordon Brown.
The procession chanted and carried onto the Trafalgar Square. The choice of speakers, however, did not seem to have been well thought through. Glenys Kinnock Spoke first and the speeches ended with John Berkow MP, but like Glenys Kinnock, MEP and Irene Khan, Secretary General, Amnesty International – derided India & China for not ceasing to trade with Burma thus fuelling the Military Junta to continue to inflict further disadvantage upon the people of Burma barely able to cope with subjected abject poverty whilst his own exemplary record in Parliament shows another side of his hypocritical hype. These speakers did not understand the sensitivities of a relationship between neighbouring countires like India and Burma and as for John Berkow his imperialist stand is well known to the UK Hindus. A tremendous exercise in control over emotional intelligence was necessary not to react to such balderdash given the all-too-known exploitative record of our Governments. Given the facts that the British Companies have only just begun to wind up trades with Burma and EU Companies have yet to be persuaded both by Glenys and her husband Neil Kinnock. It is a bit rich and audacious of those who themselves live in glass houses to throw stones at others.
How John Bercow voted on key issues since 2001:
- Has never voted on a transparent Parliament. votes, speeches
- Voted a mixture of for and against introducing a smoking ban. votes, speeches
- Voted strongly against introducing ID cards. votes, speeches
- Voted strongly against introducing foundation hospitals. votes, speeches
- Voted strongly against introducing student top-up fees. votes, speeches
- Voted moderately against Labour’s anti-terrorism laws. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly for the Iraq war. votes, speeches
- Voted moderately for investigating the Iraq war. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly for replacing Trident. votes, speeches
- Voted strongly against the hunting ban. votes, speeches
- Voted moderately for equal gay rights. votes, speeches
However, the Myanmar March was, in our view, an unforgettable success thanks also to supportive organisations such as Crisis Action and Burma Campaign besides thousands ordinary people including children from 1 to older people beyond my years altruistically sacrificing their time and money to be there to be counted. This was, in my view, the biggest and most influential demonstration I have been involved in. Some say we were 10,000. The true figure would be between the Political spin & the Met Police figures.
I have no doubt that it will elicit the regime change in Burma. I am, however, doubtful, should Aung San Suu Kyi become the first female leader of Myanmar,
- whether her Govt would be entirely free from inherent influence from and implied obligations towards other supportive nations and
- whether, although democratically elected Govt, it would prove to be better for the already multiply disadvantaged people of Burma?
07 October 2007: Today, quite co-incidentally, it was 49th [07 x 07] day of Late Rev Handa Shonin sama’s relinquishing this mortal abode. The ceremony was conducted at the Nipponzan Myohoji Japanese Buddhist Temple, Milton Keynes by Rev Nagase Shonin sama and Rev Mata [Yoshie Maruta].
My friend Bharat Vyas conducted the Hindu Prayers and I said a few words in Rev Handa’s memory. "As Hindus and Buddhists, we must remember that death is a comma – not a full stop – in the evolutionary journey of the soul through many incarnations before it achieves final salvation in Moksha or Nirvana as Buddhists call it." "Given the events evolving since that tragic day 21 August – such as 21 Sept being World Peace Day [when I nominated Rev Handa Shonin sama’s name as a Peace Champion to the founder of Peace One Day UN campaign], Milton Keynes thus being recognised as the Peace promoting city together with the horticultural award of the best Blooming Parks & Gardens in the region within which the Pagoda and the Temple gardens had the special mention, the 2 October being 138th Birth anniversary of the father of Peaceful pursuasion Mahatma Gandhi and yesterday culminating as the Global non-violent peaceful protest for the lives of the Buddhist Monks in Burma and many hundreds being improsioned and tortured by the Military Junta.
There could not have been more befitting combination of events in the memory of this Peace Champion [given today’s unique date 07 Oct 07]whose Atma [Soul] must have been very, very special indeed to have left such a beautiful, fragrant, peaceful and lasting legacy in Milton Keynes and Battersea in London.
Picture (c) Doug Blane
Picture (c) Doug Blane