Today, wearing my red polo-neck sweater that was the nearest thing I could find to a red shirt, and holding up an umbrella as rain began to fall, I joined the daily noon-till-one demonstration outside the Burmese Embassy at 19A Charles Street, Mayfair, London. It seemed the least that a decent person could do to protest against the bandits whose servants are inside the Embassy whilst the lawfully elected leader is languishing in custody back in Burma.
I arrived a little after midday and found quite a large crowd already. There was a big group from Amnesty International, some people from Unison, some others from ITF, which apparently is the International Transport Workers Federation, and a few rather sweet, geeky bespectacled student types trying to sell copies of Socialist Worker newspaper, but I didn't see anyone wanting to buy one. And there were lots of people of no particular affiliation. There were hundreds of people and quite a few joined after I did. The rain got heavier, and there were not enough umbrellas to go round, but no one left.
After a few minutes a group of monks in saffron robes and people wearing the red and gold logo of the opposition party arrived. We stood quietly while some of them made speeches in Burmese to applause, followed by chanting which, a young Burmese man explained to me, were prayers for the safety of the people inside Burma.
After one o'clock some people started to drift away but the majority stayed put as they were going to march to the Prime Minister's house at Downing Street. I was glad to see several TV teams busy interviewing participants. I could have sworn I saw an incredibly good-looking woman who looked just like Virginia McKenna, or her identical twin, go by... and was gratified to learn afterwards from the BBC that it was indeed the film actress and star of that gripping film A Town Like Alice.
On my way back to work I picked up an abandoned Daily Mail on the bus. Their skewed priorities put a story about immigration on the front page in huge letters, and Burma only made it to page 9. But on page 9 were the still photos of the moments before and after the murder by a single gunshot of Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai by a Burmese soldier. This is what politics can become if the brutes get control of power. The rest of us have to keep working to prevent it.