Burmese Monks and Poet Honor Aung San Suu Kyi’s 64th Birthday in Queens

Monks lead 64-hour Prayer for Aung San Suu Kyi

Monk leads 64-hour Prayer for Aung San Suu Kyi

Dozens of members of the Burmese community gathered this week in a basement auditorium in Woodside as part of a continuous 64-hour prayer in honor of the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who turned 64 on Friday. Suu Kyi is currently on trial for allegedly breaking the terms of her house arrest and is being detained at the Insein prison in Rangoon.

Fifteen Buddhist Burmese monks were leading the community in chants, rotating shifts each hour. About half are from local monasteries in Queens, while the others traveled from upstate New York, Ohio, Maryland and Indiana to participate. The round the clock prayer has been taking place since Tuesday night at the headquarters of Burma Point, a political organization established in 2005 by members of the New York Burmese community with the aim of strengthening worldwide support of human rights and democracy within Burma. Moe Chan, executive director of Burma Point, felt this event was a good way to honor their leader and what she stands for. “In Burma, monks have been the focal point of people’s freedom.” But since the Saffron Revolution protests in 2007, “monks in Burma are still oppressed,” said Chan in reference to the strict rule of the governing military junta.
Burmese community brings food offerings to Monks

Burmese community brings food offerings to Monks

Chan estimated the Burmese community in New York City to be about 20,000 people, but “our people are still living in fear,” he added. Many living in the U.S. are afraid to speak out in fear of persecution or are worried about their families back home. “In this 64-hour prayer, we can bring members of the community together, and show the major need for them all to get involved.”

Maung Swan Yi, a prominent Burmese literary scholar and poet, who was granted asylum in the United States in 2002, came to the prayer to make an offering to the monks. “My wife and I offered a glutinous rice meal for breakfast, and brought rice noodle soup and salad for lunch,” he said on Wednesday. When asked why he was participating he said, “to send wishes to Aung San Suu Kyi.” “All Burmese poets love her,” he added.  “Whenever an important incident has happened in the country, poets have participated on the frontlines. That is part of our tradition.” He said Suu Kyi and her father Aung San had been very supportive of poets and writers and the role they play in the freedom movement.

After the prayer finished on Friday, the monks and supporters continued their chanting in front of the United Nations . “We need to put pressure on the member states to help free our leader and political prisoners,” said Chan.

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~ by sangamithra on June 20, 2009.

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