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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 October 2007, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
City displaying Burma solidarity
By Arthur Strain
BBC News

Meabh Cormacain
Meabh Cormacain said people must pay attention to Burma
It is happening on the other side of the globe, but the citizens of Belfast have been showing solidarity with the people of strife-torn Burma.

In the shadow of the Ring of Thanksgiving on Saturday red was the colour for those attending a protest at the military crackdown in the country.

Up to 200 people turned out at the protest, organised by the Irish charity Trocaire.

Rallies were held in cities across the world to back Buddhist monks who want military rule to end.

At least 10 people were killed in the military response to demonstrations in Burma. Dissidents estimate that the death toll is higher.

Meabh Cormacain from Trocaire was in Burma in July.

The Belfast woman said that most of the people in the country suffered extreme poverty and things would not change unless a peaceful solution was found.

Buddhist monk Sally Taylor recited a prayer at the protest

There have been comparisons with the protests of 1988, in which thousands of people died when the military junta used troops to crush protests.

Ms Cormacain said she hoped history would not repeat itself.

"The difference between now and 1988 is that now many more people are paying attention," she said.

"There were only one or two reporters there in '88 and it was hard to find out what was happening, but there is still a need to raise awareness."

Trocaire has been working in Burma since 1995 and regional manager Eithne McNulty said that there must be more pressure on the junta to change.

"We can't turn a blind eye to the atrocious human rights abuses happening in Burma" she said.

"Despite the widely acknowledged illegitimacy of the ruling government inadequate pressure has been applied from the international community."

Orange flowers were thrown from Queen's Bridge at the end of the demonstration as a show of unity with the monks.



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