Union Day Protest in Rangoon
Feb 12, 2008
More than 30 protesters dressed in the blue uniforms worn by prison inmates staged a protest in Rangoon on Tuesday, demanding the release of political prisoners and respect for UN resolutions on Burma.
The protesters gathered for about 40 minutes outside the Rangoon headquarters of the opposition National League for Democracy, where Union Day ceremonies were being held. Riot police and plain clothes security officials were deployed outside the building and took pictures of the protesters on film and video, but no arrests were made.
An eyewitness said the protesters held posters and flags of ethnic groups. They voiced dissatisfaction with the pace of national reconciliation and accused the regime of wasting time in arranging talks between NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a government mediator, Aung Kyi.
Hundreds of people, including NLD leaders and prominent ethnic leaders such as Cin Sian Thang and Aye Thar Aung took part in the Union Day celebrations, one of the participants reported.
Union Day marks the date of the Panglong Agreement signed by Burma’s central government and representatives of various ethnic groups, such as Shan, Kachin and Chin nationalities, on February 12, 1947. Burma subsequently gained independence from Britain on January 4, 1948.
The Burmese regime’s observance of Union Day took place in Naypyidaw, where junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe urged people to work for the emergence of a lasting State Constitution laid down by the National Convention.
Than Shwe also urged people to supports implementation of the “seven-step road map.” The third stage of the “road map”—drafting a state constitution—was under way, he said.
In a Union Day statement issued by the 88 Generation Students group on Tuesday, the regime was accused of violating the fundamental rights of Burmese and ethnic people and civilians in Burma even though the country had won its independence from colonial rule more than 60 years ago.
Soe Htun, a leading member of the 88 Generation Students group, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the military government had ignored the crisis affecting the Burmese people, who lacked democracy, equality, selfdetermination and a federal union.
Soe Htun accused the regime of trying to implement a “one-sided constitution.” He urged the Burmese people to “cooperate in order to gaining democracy, equality and a federal union.”
The 88 Generation Students group pointed out that a three-way dialogue was the
best way to solve the Burma crisis.
Last week, the Burmese military regime announced that general elections will be held in 2010 following a referendum this May on a new constitution being written under the junta’s guidance and expected to entrench its role in government.
Following are the demands made by the NLD to the SPDC through its Union Day Statement.
We firmly believe that the national reconciliation among all ethnic nationalities, which have been damaged for years, must be restored as earliest as possible so that genuine peace and development will prevail in our country. Hence, the National League for Democracy regards 2008 as the ‘Year of National Reconciliation’. The State Peace and Development Council is mainly responsible to take initiatives for the national reconciliation and create a political atmosphere conducive for that objective. On that auspicious occasion of Union Day, the NLD demands the SPDC to:
(1) Implement the national reconciliation by holding a meaningful political dialogue as earliest as possible. Members of the SPDC are the people of Burma just like other Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Bama, Mon, Rakhine and Shan ethnic nationalities and there must be a dialogue among the people of Burma.
(2)Immediate and unconditional release of U Tin Oo, Vice-Chairman of the NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the NLD as it is necessary for their participation in a dialogue leading to national reconciliation.
(3) Immediate and unconditional release of Khun Htun Oo, Chairman and Sai Nyunt Lwin, Secretary of the Shan National League for Democracy and other ethnic leaders in detention as it is impossible to rebuild the genuine democratic Union without the participation of ethnic nationalities groups;
(4)Immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners including elected MPs who have been detained for their political beliefs
(5)Immediate and unconditional release of monks, 88 Generation Student leaders and democracy activists who have been detained for their peaceful political activities;
(6) Allow the reopening of township/State/Divisional Offices of the NLD Organizing Committees which have been illegally closed down by the authorities. Since the NLD is a legally existing political party which has been properly registered in accordance with the Political Parties Registration Act, it has the right to open branch offices and conduct political activities.
(7) End intimidation against and forced resignation of members of the NLD.
(8) Allow the re-registration and freedom of conducting political activities of the ethnic based political parties which contested and won in the 1990 general elections but later, banned by the authorities. (Source:Irrawaddy and DDCNCGUB) Comply with the latest recommendations of the United Nations; Emergence of a genuine dialogue