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Myanmar activists petition for release of political prisoners

Myanmar activists petition for release of political prisoners

Former student activists in Myanmar launched a petition Monday to demand the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, in a rare protest against the country's repressive ruling junta.
Members of the "88 Generation Students Group," who led pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988, will collect signatures for two weeks and then submit the petition to the country's military rulers and all those involved in Myanmar's reconciliation process, said Mya Aye, one of its leaders.
"In the interest of the people and the country, we have started collecting signatures demanding the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi," Mya Aye said.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has spent nearly 11 of the last 17 years in detention, mostly under house arrest, despite worldwide calls for the junta to free her and other political prisoners. She heads the National League for Democracy party.
The military last Wednesday arrested three prominent 1988 student leaders _ Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Htay Kywe. Two other former student leaders, Min Zeya and Pyone Cho, were taken from their homes on Saturday, a day after they wrote to the junta chairman inquiring about the status of the three other activists.
The junta does not tolerate dissent and often cracks down by arresting its critics.
Asked if he was concerned for his safety as he collected signatures, Mya Aye, who served seven years in prison and was released in 1997, said: "We are expressing the desire of the public in a peaceful and democratic way, but we are ready to face the consequences."