Thursday, August 25, 2011

Activist stages solo protest in Burma to release all political prisoners

Thursday, 25 August 2011 20:19 Zwe Khant
New Delhi (Mizzima) – A pro-democracy activist in Twante Township in Rangoon urged the Burmese government to release all political prisoners by holding a placard and walking down Twante’s main road from 9 to 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday.

Burmese students in London staged a hunger strike in front of the Burmese embassy on Sunday to call for the release of all political prisoners. Photo: Mizzima

Aung Pe, wearing a blue prison uniform and holding a 2-by-3-foot placard which said “Releasing political prisoners exercises the most fundamental human right [in blue text],” walked from the Independence Column to downtown Twante.

“I want to raise public awareness. At that particular time, it [downtown] was crowded. Initially, I went in front of a police station. Then, I made a turn and walked along Bogyoke Road. Bogyoke Road is the main road in Twante. Especially, it is very crowded near the market. I attracted a lot of public attention when they read my placard,” Aung Pe told Mizzima.

Aung Pe, a well-known private teacher in Twante, has been arrested at least six times for his political protests, he said. On Tuesday, the authorities took his photograph but did nothing to block his protest, he said.

“I want all the political prisoners released. Political prisoners have suffered the most serious violations of their human rights. I am a former political prisoner so I sympathize with them,” he said.

“I selected a time to protest when Quintana [the UN envoy] had arrived in Burma. He is a rapporteur for human rights, and he observes which human rights have been violated in Burma.”

Aung Pe’s teaching license was revoked and since his release from prison, he has not been allowed to teach. He was imprisoned for pro-democracy activities in 2005, 2008 and 2009, he said.

Meanwhile in other protests, pro-democracy activists led by UK-based 88-generation Burmese students staged a 24-hour hunger strike in front of the Burmese embassy in London on Sunday to honour 88-generation student leaders Min Ko Naing and his colleagues who were arrested four years ago, on August 21, 2007.

Ten Burmese students in London and two foreigners took part in the hunger strike.

“The current Burmese government led by President Thein Sein said they were holding a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi. Does the government really want to have a dialogue?” asked Htet Khaung, the organizer of the hunger strike. “When they say they are a democratic government, they need to release more than 2,000 political prisoners have been unlawfully imprisoned.”

The UK-based 88-generation student group distributed pamphlets containing Suu Kyi quotations and brief biographies of political prisoners to onlookers. During the hunger strike, they shouted slogans such as “Release political prisoners immediately! Release Min Ko Naing immediately! May Thein Sein’s government fall from power!”

The hunger strike ended at noon on Monday.

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