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Myanmar sees rare sign of dissent by thousands

Myanmar sees rare sign of dissent by thousands

Some 60,000 people in Myanmar have signed a petition calling for the release of political prisoners, in a rare sign of public dissent after six activists were arrested, organizers said yesterday.
"We have gotten some 60,000 signatures from around Yangon," said Thin Thin Aye, a 34-year-old activist who spent five years in prison for her role in pro-democracy protests in 1996.
The petition drive began after six pro-democracy activists were arrested last week.
Myanmar's military government has accused five of them of trying to incite unrest as the U.N. Security Council last week held discussions on the country, with the United States vowing to introduce a draft resolution on human rights abuses.
Thin Thin Aye, who also goes by the name Mie Mie, denied that the activists had any violent intentions.
"We never encourage terrorist acts. We are just trying sincerely to bring democracy peacefully. We want to show our pure and simple minds," she said.
The activists are also urging people to wear white shirts beginning on Tuesday, when the junta plans to open a new session of its long-running constitutional talks.
Five of the detained activists - Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Htay Kywe, Min Zeya and Pyone Cho - belong to the 88 Generation Students Group, which led a pro-democracy uprising in 1988.
They have all served long prison sentences over the uprising, which was crushed by the military.
The sixth man - human rights activist Myint Aye - is a former local official with the opposition National League for Democracy. Authorities have yet to confirm his detention.
The petition drive is a rare sign of dissent in a country where the military has ruled since 1962 and has dealt harshly with any public protests.
The petition calls for the release of all of the 1,100 political prisoners that the United Nations estimates are being held here, including democracy icon and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
"The authorities haven't complained to us yet," said Thin Thin Aye.
"We also believe that we are not violating the law. We are just implementing the will of our people to let the world know (about the arrests), under the law," she said.


Updated : 2020-12-03 01:13 GMT+08:00