Many Burmese were waiting at the domestic arrivals meeting area inside New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Seeing traditionally dressed people, girls with garlands, and a number of reporters, someone asked: “Are you Tibetans welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama?”
“We are Burmese,” replied one.
One Burmese man held a placard, which read: “We welcome our patriotic heroes!”
Then someone asked again: “Are you waiting for some senior official such as a foreign minister?”
“No. We are welcoming our patriotic revolutionaries who were released from over 13 years imprisonment in Kolkata prison,” answered the same man.
The onlooker said, “Wow! How magnificent and joyful!”
Despite the attention directed at them, the Burmese only paid attention to the arrivals board.
While reporters and others were eagerly waiting, one Burmese said, “There they are! They are coming!”
Wearing white T-shirts with Arakan and Karen logos, 31 recently freed revolutionaries walked out to the meeting area.
Amazement, joy, and despair could be seen on the faces of the revolutionaries amid the camera flashes.
“We didn’t expect that we would be greeted this way—placards and garlands,” said released Karen rebel Sa Toe Toe, “Seeing the crowd suddenly, I can’t even describe how I feel. I am happy for my release and cry for being honored this way.”
In 1998, Sa Toe Toe and 39 others were arrested at Landfall Island in the Andaman Islands and held without charge for eight years by the Indian navy. They were later convicted and imprisoned for entering India illegally, weapons smuggling and aiding insurgents in northwestern India. Six group members died while being transported from their initial holding placement in the Andaman Islands to a correctional facility in Kolkata. Continue reading “31 Burmese Rebels Arrive in New Delhi”