English graduate urges Burma aid

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An Oxford graduate has launched an appeal to University students to aid victims of cyclone-devastated Burma.

Sara Clarke, who studied English at Keble College, graduated in 2007. An ex-president of Oxford University Free Burma Society, Clarke launched the open appeal to Oxford students because of its “historic links to Burma through Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (an Oxford alum and the only imprisoned Nobel Prize laureate).”

She has also indicated that students have multiple outlets to help “because [the University] has both the Oxford University Free Burma Society and the Oxford Burma Solidarity Group.”

Clarke began her efforts by creating the Facebook group, ‘Burma Cyclone Emergency Appeal’ and also making an open appeal through the Oxford Mail.

She has already facilitated Keble and University Colleges’ respective donations of £200 and £300 to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Burma.

“It is especially important to assist such local grassroots organizations at a time when the military government has been blockading attempts of some foreign aid and aid workers to reach the country,” Clarke said.

She added, “As privileged students who are able to enjoy the basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly denied to Burma’s students historically, [students] should feel motivated to use these liberties to assist the Burmese cause.”

She is appealing for funds on behalf of two organisations: the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation for 13 NGOs, and for the Civic Society Initiative, a small Burmese NGO in Yangon.

Current president of OU Free Burma Society, Hizami Mohd Iskandar, says, “Every bit counts, when the people you’re trying to help have their own government as the biggest stumbling-block towards recovery.

“The Burmese people need all the help they can get, with the military junta characteristically focusing more on keeping their power and control intact, rather than the plight of their own people, our contributions, no matter how small, do matter,” he said.

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