TOC Breaking News: 50 Burmese nationals protest

For more pictures, please visit Pseudonymity’s blogsite.

20/11/2007, 1930 hrs:

50 Burmese nationals gathered outside Orchard Hotel in groups of three. Standing in rows of three, they formed a line that snaked across the frontage of the Hotel. One group carried a banner that said: “Listen to Burma’s desire, don’t follow junta’s order”.

We want to meet Gambari

Mr Marc Myo, a protest spokesperson and a student at Singapore Management University, told the assembled reporters that the Burmese community would like to meet with UN Special envoy Ibrahim Gambari. Mr Gambari will soon be in Singapore to meet with Asean leaders.He said this show of force was to put pressure on Asean and Burma to effect the immediate release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Speaking to TOC via a phone interview, he said: ‘Asean has taken no responsibility or action to solve the problem in Burma. We want them to push for the release of our national leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’.The gathering dispersed without incident after they were warned by police officers that they could be in violation of the law.

Police attempt to detain local activist, unsuccessfully

Mr Isrizal, a local activist with SG Human Rights was at the scene observing the gathering. When the group of Burmese dispersed, he was approached by a group of six police who asked him for his identification and why he was there.

Mr Isrizal then told them they had no business to question him as he had not committed any offence. He then walked off. The police officers attempted to hold him back but he brushed them off. After tailing him for about 15 metres they gave up.The incident was witnessed by two other members of SG Human Rights.

Mr Isrizal was part of a group of local activists who walked to the police road block at Delphi Orchard earlier this afternoon.

20/11/2007, 1830 hrs:

A group of 20 Burmese nationals are now gathering at Orchard Parade Hotel in anticipation of a demonstration that expected to happen at around 1930 hrs.Organizers of the protest have not released details of what they are planning.

Six Special Operations riot vans were spotted coming out of Orange Grove Road 30 minutes ago, moving towards Orchard Road Proper.

Plainclothes police are lightly dispersed around the venue, with two on the second floor of Orchard Hotel and two on the street outside the Starbucks cafe. They were identified by members of the gathering who have seen the policemen before. Observers at the venue described the atmosphere as extremely tense.

Police have made clear that the Shangri-La is one of four protected areas within which they have the power to stop, search or detain at will.

Earlier in the day, a group of four civil society activists including Mr Chia Ti Lik, who took part in last year’s General Elections, attempted to present a petition to the Asean heads of state. They were allowed to walk from Orchard MRT to Orchard Parade Hotel, but were stopped by police outside Delfi Orchard. A member of the Asean secretariat came to receive their petition.

Today’s protests follow an attempt by nine international students to reach the Shangri-La.TOC will post updates as the situation develops.

20/11/2007, 1700

Singapore Democratic Party activists Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr John Tan were arrested as they attempted to enter a road leading to the Shangri-La. They were bundled into a police vehicle which later dropped them off outside the protected zone at Orchard Hotel.

Special thanks to Isrizal for the pictures.