Myanmar Democracy Activists Urge Olympics Boycott

pro-democracy activists are calling for a boycott of the 2008 Olympics television coverage because of China’s support of the country’s ruling military junta. The 88 Generation Students group also asked viewers to refrain from buying products associated with the Games. The opening for the Olympics is set for August 8, which falls on the same day as the 20th anniversary of a pro-democracy student uprising in , also known as Burma, where 3,000 people were killed by the military.

Just last month, China refused U.S. demands to put more pressure on the Burmese government. The activists’ boycott call is part of a growing international pressure for China to step away from its policy of non-interference and exert more of its influence on countries such as Sudan and Myanmar as the Olympics approach. From the AFP:

Leaders of the uprising were handed lengthy prison sentences, but when released they formed the 88 Generation Student group.

The group began new protests in August last year, harnessing public anger at a surprise hike in fuel prices that left many unable to afford even meagre bus fares to work.

Many of the leaders were again arrested, but Buddhist monks took over the protest movement, which swelled into the biggest anti-government uprising since 1988.

In a statement issued by leaders now in hiding, the group called “for citizens around the world to pressure the government of China to withdraw its unilateral support of the Burmese military junta and to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

“China is a major trade partner, major arms supplier and major defender of the junta in the international arena,” it said.

“The military junta in Burma is still in power to this day, despite strong and continuous resistance by the people of Burma, because of China’s support.”