Walk to highlight plight of Burmese
Saturday, July 25, 2009

A seminarian today led a 200km walk to highlight the plight of the people of Burma.

For the next seven days Ger Fitzgerald and three Burmese exiles living in Ireland will walk across the country in support of the Karen people, who are based on Burma’s eastern border.

The sponsored walk — from the O’Connell Monument on O’Connell Street, Dublin, to the O’Connell Monument on O’Connell Street, Limerick — will also raise funds for Dr Cynthia Maung’s medical clinic in the Karen area.

The seminarian, who is based at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, revealed he organised the event after watching a documentary on the attacks perpetrated by the Burmese ruling junta against the Karen people.

“I am delighted and privileged to undertake this walk in the company of my Burmese friends to raise awareness of the plight of the Karen people,” said Mr Fitzgerald, who is studying to become a priest.

“The selected route, from O’Connell Street in Dublin to O’Connell Street in Limerick, is inspired by the Great Emancipator, Daniel O’Connell.

“I hope that the Karen and all the people of Burma will be liberated in the very near future and will be free from poverty, fear and injustice.

“The walk will undoubtedly be a challenge and I would encourage as many people as possible to come out and lend us their support.”

The walkers will have overnight stops in Naas, Monasterevin, Mountrath, Roscrea, Nenagh, Castleconnell, before arriving in Limerick on Friday evening.

Burma Action Ireland’s Chairperson, Gearoid Kilgallen congratulated the group on their tremendous undertaking.

He said for many years, the Karen people have been subjected to an intensive campaign by the Burmese military, which has resulted in one of the worst human rights and humanitarian crisis in the country.

“I would encourage everyone to show their solidarity by contributing to the fundraising effort along the way,” he added.

Burma Action Ireland was set up in May 1996 to raise awareness in Ireland of the current situation in Burma.

It maintains Burma has one of the world’s worst human rights records, with high levels of forced labour; more than 2,100 political prisoners, and more child soldiers than any other country.

The organisation said that over the past 15 years, more than 3,300 villages in eastern Burma have been destroyed by the ruling military regime, leaving more than half a million people displaced.