Monday, March 15, 2010


What century is this anyway? I ask after reading about a store in Indiana which essentially posted a sign that said, "no Burmese or dogs allowed." I'm not kidding.

Obviously the more than five thousand Burmese living in Fort Wayne were a bit ticked off about all this. They would like their city or county government... maybe to, you know, like react, maybe say something. A group protested on the Allen County courthouse lawn yesterday, calling on city leaders to protect their civil rights.

The following is from Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Burmese demand action on prejudice

See official indifference to sign at laundry
Devon Haynie

Dozens of shivering Burmese gathered in front of the Courthouse on Sunday to urge government officials to publicly denounce discrimination against their community.

Organizers said the rally was a response to the government's lack of reaction to a controversial sign posted at Ricker's City Laundry on South Calhoun Street several weeks ago. The sign, which has since been removed, read, "For Sanitary Purposes, There Are No Burmese People Allowed." Jay Ricker, head of the company, has since apologized for the sign, but Burmese at the rally said it was not enough to ease their fears of continued discrimination.

"The government has been silent," said Maung Maung Soe, one of the event's organizers. "If the government does not take action, we will take legal action."

Details surrounding the sign remain unclear. But by all accounts, it seems that a lone employee posted it, perhaps in response to the Burmese tradition of chewing betel nuts and spitting out the juice. Ricker posted an apology on Facebook and read an apology in a video posted on YouTube.

At the rally, members of the Burmese community held signs reading "We Want Equal Rights" and "We Are Burmese Americans." Organizers said they planned to stage a larger rally in a few days, but had to keep the gathering small because they hadn't received a permit.

Fort Wayne is home to about 5,500 people from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Many are legal refugees who fled the country to escape the country's 60-year civil war.

"We aren't foreigners coming to visit; we are citizens," said Nyan Aung, an event organizer who has lived in the United States since 1993. "We need to be treated more like other people. (People) need to respect our human rights."

Thandar Thet, a 15-year-old sophomore at North Side High School, came to the rally with her father and 5-year-old brother. She said the sign posting made her feel uneasy about her future in Fort Wayne.

"I've never been discriminated against, but I don't believe this is right," Thet said. "My parents came to America for freedom. They talked about discrimination in Burma, but that is what we came here to escape."

No comments: