Yesterday in Kopernik Park, the Burmese of Utica sold food, drinks, and items all as a means of raising funds for the Burmese living in Myanmar under the Junta (military dictatorship). Recently, the Junta seized all banks in Myanmar, and as such, the people living there have been unable to pay for basic necessities. One of the organizers explained that the money which is being collected by the protesters in Utica will be sent to various contacts in Thailand, and from there it’s legally funneled into neighboring Myanmar to specific civilians. As Myanmar runs on an almost strictly cash economy, it is imperative for the Burmese to have financial resupply ASAP.
In addition to the food vendors, Burmese also played music for everyone. This went on until 5 and started at noon following a lengthy and eventful march that started of course in Oneida Square, and then tracked all the way down to Hotel Utica, across Genesee street, and then back up Genesee to Kopernik park.
While touched on before in previous articles, it has to be mentioned just how diverse this group is. The event featured Pastor Paul, Imam Tom Facchine, and Buddhist monks. Various religions and various ethnicities of Burma coming together to demand an end to the illegal Military rule over their country. To make room for the different religions, they held a prayer in silence. The prayer was for the 818 protesters who have been killed since February.
Besides the myriad of flags, the protesters mostly carried signs for the NUG (National Unity Government). According to Wikipedia, “The National Unity Government is a body claiming to be the legitimate government of Myanmar, existing in parallel with State Administration Council military junta. The NUG was formed in response to the coup d’état that occurred on 1 February 2021.” If the junta is ever ended and democracy restored, it’s possible that the NUG will be the new government of Myanmar.
Their chants were simple. “US Government!-Take Action! Take Action!”. “Burma Military Coup!-We don’t want! We don’t want!” They have a very modern sense of rebellion. They call for revolution, but only in the form of civil disobedience, thus the constant raising of three fingers – a nod to the Hunger Games books and movies.
In Kopernick park, they were met by Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, who promised them that she was doing what she can to end the Junta via introducing legislation that would petition the United Nations Security Council to place an Arms Embargo on Myanmar thus cutting off the Junta’s access to weapons. “We are working hard to help you establish a democracy in Burma.” There is of course some skepticism of the efficacy of this approach as China may, and probably will, use its position on the Security Council to veto any embargo.
In recent memory, the only protest groups to march down the streets of utica were the Utica Abolitionists (a Left wing faction) and BLM march in may of last year. The advent of hundreds of Burmese marching across downtown shows just how prominent an ethnicity the Burmese are in Utica. They are now, irrefutably, a part of the Utica story.