Sit-in protest for freedom of political prisoners

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Nearly a hundred Burmese activists and Indian supporters on Monday staged a sit-in protest in New Delhi in demand of the release of political prisoners in Burma, including detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The protestors, who held a sit-in demonstration for at least five hours near India’s parliament building, demanded India pressure the Burmese military government for the release of political prisoners in Burma.

“We are here to send a message to the world that we show solidarity with the democracy movement in Burma and to respect political prisoners in Burma,” Dr. Alana Golmei, an Indian supporter who joined the protest, told Mizzima.

Golmei said the protestors also urged India, a neighbor to Burma and the world’s largest democracy, to pressure the Burmese junta for the release of prisoners of conscience, including Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The sit-in protest came as a part of a global campaign seeking the release of the more than 2,000 political prisoners languishing in prisons across Burma. Campaigners in several countries have reaffirmed their call on the Burmese junta to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

As part of the campaign, activists across the globe have begun collecting signatures and organizing online petitions, in addition to staging protests and sit-in demonstrations.
Golmei said activists in India have been collecting signatures supporting the release of Burmese political prisoners, and will hold a candlelight vigil prayer on Monday.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma (AAPP-B) the number of political prisoners in the stricken country has doubled since the September 2007 protests, today totaling over 2,000 wrongfully detained.

Bo Kyi, joint-secretary of AAPP-B, said the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners must be the first step in initiating political reforms in Burma.

“If the military regime wants to start national reconciliation, which is needed for paving the way for political reform in the country, they must first release all political prisoners,” he said.

However, Bo Kyi warned that past, international pressure on the Burmese regime regarding the release of political prisoners, including that by the United Nations, has not proven effective.

“The calls of the international community for the release of political prisoners are just mentioned on paper. And that’s not enough,” he said. “We believe that if they exert effective action on the junta, the prisoners will be released.”

The AAPP-B and Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB), today, launched a global signature campaign for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. The initiative will conclude on May 20.

“The campaign is to convince the international community on the importance of the release of political prisoners for political reform in the country [Burma] and to make world leaders understand how to push the junta to release political prisoners,” Bo Kyi affirmed.

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spent over 13 of the last 19 years in detention.
Mizzima News

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