September 24, 2008
Last night on the anniversary (roughly speaking) of the Saffron Revolution, Tricycle's managing editor Alex Kaloyanides and I were privileged to attend Reading Burma: A Benefit for Cyclone Relief and Freedom of Expression in Burma/Myanmar. The evening was presented by PEN American Center, the Burma Project of the Open Society Institute, and The New York Review of Books. Supporting organizations were Cooper Union, which hosted the event in its Great Hall, where Lincoln once spoke, and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.
Salman Rushdie gave the opening remarks on behalf of PEN American Center and also read from the poetry of U Tin Moe. Other speakers included Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who was the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on human rights to Burma, the Venerable U Gawsita, who was one of the protest leaders, and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. A group of Burmese monks reciting the Metta Sutta wrapped things up. It was a great evening with lots of eye-opening footage from the protests and crackdown, and heartbreaking eyewitness accounts from Nargis -- alongside absurd, almost laughable official government reports of the same situations.
The event raised more than $13,000 for cyclone relief. Special mention was made of U Win Tin's release, but of course the struggle continues. Pictures after the jump -- click to see larger versions.
1. Salman Rushdie (via video screen -- I was far away)
2. U Win Tin and Paulo Sergio PInheiro
3. Venerable U Gawsita speaks to George Packer via translator
4. Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk reads from the work of Ma Thida
5. Monks chant the Metta Sutta
6. Looks like someone "forgot" his free copy of Tricycle