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Depayin massacre anniversary raises fears for Suu Kyi’s proposed tour

New Delhi (Mizzima) – An alms offering ceremony was held in Mandalay on Monday by the  National League for Democracy (NLD) on the 8th anniversary of the Depayin massacre in which scores of party members were killed and injured.

Monks at west Khinmakan Monastery in Mandalay perform a ceremony for the dead and injured in the Depayin massacre on May 30, 2003. Photo: MizzimaThe ceremony, held at west Khinmakan Monastery, was attended by about 150 members including Mandalay Division NLD branch chairman Thein Dan, Sagaing Division chairman Bar Bar and central women’s executive committee members who offered alms to 18 monks.

‘The monks performed religious rites for the monks, students and youths who were killed in Depayin incident. The NLD youth members released fish in a pond and offered gold flakes to the Mahamyatmuni Buddha image’, NLD member Myint Maw told Mizzima.

NLD central leaders May Win Myint, Khin Htay Kywe, Phyu Phyu Thin, Nai Nai, Myo Nyunt, and Maung Maung Gyi were also present.

The infamous Depayin incident occurred on May 30, 2003.  NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi narrowly escaped a mob which included members of the precursor organization of the Union Solidarity and Development Party. Most of the slain NLD members were from Mandalay and Sagaing divisions.

‘In previous years, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) harassed us every year when we planned to perform this alms ceremony’, said NLD member Myint Maw. ‘They came to the same monastery and offered alms to the monks in parallel with us as soon as they heard about our plan. But this year, they didn’t harass us’.

The death of Tin Maung Oo of Mandalay (southwest), San Myint (Mandalay northwest) and Thein Toe Aye (Mandalay southwest) were confirmed, but as many as 80 other deaths could not be confirmed, NLD Mandalay Division Information Department In-charge Myo Naing told Mizzima.

‘Those three who led the Mandalay group were killed on the spot on that day’, he said. ‘We can confirm their deaths. We found the mob was still beating them even while we were crossing Kyi village. So more deaths might have taken place in that village and also some students from Monywa might have been killed on that day. We couldn’t confirm their deaths. Many of them were in the convoy with their motorcycles but we could not collect the death and casualty reports’, Myo Naing said.

The attack occurred on a convoy led by General-Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice Chairman Tin Oo, who were on an organizational tour in upper Burma in 2003. The mob attacked the convoy near Kyi village in Depayin Township in Sagaing Division.

The NLD requested the authorities to take action against the mob, but no arrests or charges have been filed, NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo told Mizzima.

‘Truth must be exposed, justice should be done’, he said. ‘The necessary probe should be performed on this case. Then we can draw good lessons following an investigation. We could give some sort of closure to those who were killed and attacked in this pre-meditated massacre’.

Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to start another tour of the country within a few months, a move which has raised concerns among NLD officials. Tin Oo said that the NLD would ask for security from the authorities.

‘They speak about good governance and clean government. A good and clean government must protect every citizen.  We will meet and ask for security and protection’, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo were put under house arrest following the massacre and some NLD party members were arrested and imprisoned.

Last Updated ( Monday, 30 May 2011 21:45 )  

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