Backpacker turns Myanmar activist via Facebook
( Reuters ) - A chance encounter in a Myanmar coffee shop turned teenage backpacker Alex Bookbinder into a political activist at the forefront of an Internet campaign that has attracted tens of thousands of supporters.
Bookbinder, 19, is the creator of the "Support the monks protest in Burma" campaign on the Internet social networking phenomenon "Facebook".
The campaign seeks to draw attention to the violent crackdown by Myanmar's military rulers against pro-democracy protests led by the country's revered Buddhist monks.
It has attracted nearly 140,000 members since being launched on September 19, and thousands more are joining each day.
"I'm overwhelmed by the response," Bookbinder told Reuters in an interview conducted, appropriately, over the Internet.
"I really just started this to tell my friends about what was going on over there. It's just grown and grown. It's unbelievable."
The Internet has become a vital tool for activists rallying opposition to Myanmar's rulers and also one of the few sources of information for news on the country.
So powerful is its reach, the junta shut down the country's Internet connection with the rest of the world on Friday, although it resumed briefly on Saturday before being shut off again.