Protest Held in Mandalay for Political Prisoners
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Burma

Protest Held in Mandalay for Political Prisoners


By THE IRRAWADDY Friday, March 23, 2012


Buddhist monks chant during a ceremony at Mandalay's Maha Myat Muni Pagoda to pray for the unconditional release of political prisoners on March 22, 2012. (Photo: Ye Yint Kyaw's facebook)
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Around 500 people, including the relatives of political prisoners, gathered at Mandalay's Maha Myat Muni Pagoda on Thursday to pray for the unconditional release of jailed activists and others behind bars for political reasons.

The gathering, organized by Buddhist monk and former political prisoner Ashin Wiyathu, is the largest protest to highlight the issue since hundreds of prominent prisoners of conscience were released in a mass amnesty in January.

“People are not only interested in the upcoming by-elections. They also want the government to release these innocent people as soon as possible,” said Ashin Withayu, speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

“Prisons are not a place for people who have committed no crime. We will continue our campaign until they are released, or until they put me in prison to stay with them.”

Although the protest did not receive official permission, many who took part in it openly held up signboards with messages calling for the release of all remaining political prisoners.

Monks who delivered Buddhist sermons at the event warned those attended that they should be prepared to suffer if the authorities take action against them.

“They [the authorities] were worried that this could turn into another uprising, so they didn't give us permission. But we have concluded our campaign peacefully,” said Ashin Wiyathu.

The precise number of political prisoners still being held in Burma is not clear, although the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) puts the figure at around 800. It says, however, that it only has complete details for 413.

Last week, the Rangoon-based Former Political Prisoners Group handed over a list of 619 names to the US special envoy for Burma, Derek Mitchell.

On Jan. 13, many of Burma's most prominent political dissidents were released from prisons around the country, including 88 Generation leader Min Ko Naing and U Gambira, one of the Buddhist monks who led the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

Many of those still being detained were convicted for crimes such as high treason, murder and unlawful association.

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George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
26/03/2012
People Power is the Only Answer for Burma's freedom and democracy I say.
DICTATORS NEVER GIVE UP POWER VOLUNTARILY lest you guys forget!
And Than Shwe's chosen lackey Thein Sein would not let RULE of LAW come to Naypyidaw as well.
BURMA'S FUTURE and POSTERITY REST IN THE HANDS OF Min Ko Naing and his lot no doubt.
Release of ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS and PUSHING OUT ALL CHINESE OUT OF BURMA should be the TOP AGENDA in BURMA I say.

kerry Wrote:
26/03/2012
It is appalling that a government can still do this and say they are 'taking a path to democracy'!

Military regimes in any form or clothes are still military regimes. The violence has not stopped in Burma.

This tragic game should have died long ago.

Do they really want to appal the whole world - and go backwards?

Mualcin Wrote:
24/03/2012
These Buddhist monks are not seeking public office. They just want to see peace and rule of law in the country. Thein Sein must listen to this voice.

Maung Kyaw Nu.a former politic Wrote:
24/03/2012
Our full supports are with former political prisioners of conscience respectable Ashin Wiyathu and all who desperately protesting for the release of PPS.For us every cosmetic changes including forth coming by election are not important factors .We will like political prisoners free prisons in Burma.
U Thien Sein needs to listen Ashin Wiyathu's call to immediately release the remaining political prisoners of conscience.

Moe Aung Wrote:
24/03/2012
Mandalay monks have again shown leadership and selfless courage. The newly 'democratic' regime would rather people behaved like the proverbial monkeys if not lambs to the slaughter like before.

Onward and upward with popular struggle!
PEOPLE POWER!

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