Friday, August 28, 2009

Opposition activists launch yellow campaign

by Myint Maung
Thursday, 27 August 2009 14:06

New Delhi (Mizzima) – With the second anniversary of the ‘Saffron Revolution’ round the corner, 10 opposition activists launched a campaign in Rangoon last Tuesday to pay tribute to monks, who took part in chanting Metta sutra two years ago.

The activists donned yellow symbols during their weekly so-called 'Tuesday prayer campaign', conducted in Shwedagon pagoda for the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

"September is drawing close. So we wore yellow ribbons, yellow hairpins, yellow flowers and yellow dresses as symbols, while paying tribute to the ‘Saffron Revolution’ during our prayer campaign. We prayed for the release of our leader," Naw Ohn Hla, one of the campaigners, told Mizzima.

Officials of the Burmese military junta keep a hawk’s eye on the prayer campaign, suspicious and apprehensive that it would again become part of a growing mass movement against the regime. There have been several instances when campaigners have been arrested.

The activists plan to forge ahead with the yellow campaign with their prayer meetings and prayer services at pagodas every Tuesday until September 25.

"This campaign has started in Rangoon. Other towns and cities can join us. It (junta) cannot do anything to us for just wearing these yellow symbols. So we request all to join us. I'd like to say do not forget our religion and sasana," Naw Ohn Hla said.

Thousands of monks hit the streets in September 2007 and chanted Metta Sutra in Rangoon and other cities. But the security forces came down heavily in a brutal crackdown, killing, maiming and arresting at random, breaking up the demonstrations.

The junta, however, claimed 10 people, including some monks were killed during the movement, but the opposition forces felt that the actual death toll was much higher than the official statistics dished out.

According to the Thai based 'Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners-Burma' (AAPP-B), formed by former Burmese political prisoners, over 200 monks were arrested during the demonstration. More than 2,100 political prisoners are languishing in jails throughout Burma, AAPP said.

Prayer campaigns were also launched in other cities such as Mandalay, Meiktila, Yemethin, Yenanchaung and Pegu by activists yesterday, calling for the release of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

Meanwhile, activists lodged a complaint with the junta supremo Senior Gen. Than Shwe by sending a letter, which says that the local authorities tried to threaten the monasteries where the Naw Ohn Hla led group were conducting prayers and offerings were being made to Buddhist monks.

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