MONTEREY PARK – More than 200 members of the local Burmese community gathered at a park Sunday to show support for demonstrators in their home county now fighting for democracy. Over the past week, a military junta has led a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters. The protests began Aug. 19, when the government sharply raised fuel prices. The protests mushroomed into the junta’s largest challenge in decades when Myanmar’s revered monks took a leading role. In Monterey Park on Sunday, signs reading “Stop supporting brutal regimes,” and “Promote democracy in Burma,” were hung around Barnes Park, 400 S. McPherrin Ave., as pro-democracy groups, religious organizations of various faiths, and refugees of Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – sang, chanted and gave speeches in support of their cause. Many wore red T-shirts as a sign of solidarity with the protesters. Win said he had not seen his wife or children for 11 years until he was able to reunite with them in the United States in 2001. Prior to his election to parliament, Win said he was jailed for four years beginning in 1976 due to his involvement with a democratic student movement. Win said his struggle, however, is not an unusual one in Myanmar. Most student leaders and politicians have similar tales, he said. The recent protests in Myanmar are a continuation of a 45-year battle against the repressive regime, Win said. Representatives of Buddhist, Muslim and Christian religious organizations led prayers prior to the vigil. Head monk Gunnissara Ashin of the Dhammajoti Mediation Center in Baldwin Park said he believes the long struggle may be coming to an end. “This is our time for peaceful dem- ocracy in our country,” he said. The Rev. Than Oo of Covina’s Adoniram Judson Memorial Baptist Church said he believes the nation’s long fight for democracy may be nearing its end. He credited international attention. “The whole world is watching Burma,” he said. Many at Barnes Park said they viewed their support of Burmese democracy as an obligation. Organizers of the event also encouraged demonstrators to attend ongoing protests at the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles in order to pressure China to stop its support of the junta in Myanmar. “Those on the outside have the opportunity to speak – we must speak,” said longtime Burmese activist Louisa Benson Craig. “We hope for change,” she added. “We hope this is a point of no turning back.” The Associated Press contributed to this story. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A day’s worth of discussions and activities was brought to a close at 5 p.m. with a candlelight vigil in support of democratic protestors. U Mya Win, chairman of the Canyon Country-based organization National League for Democracy, said the cause in his home country has been a lifelong struggle for him. Elected to the Burmese parliament in 1990, Win was imprisoned for nine years when the reigning military junta decided not to let a democratically elected government take control, he said. “They accused us of high treason,” said Win.