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Marchers in Thailand remember the ‘Saffron Revolution’

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - About 200 people gathered in Chiang Mai on Tuesday for a candle-lit peace walk and rally to mark the 4th anniversary of Burma’s “Saffron Revolution.”

U Nay Min Da and Ashin Issariya, right, speak to a large crowd gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to mark the fourth anniversary of the 'Saffron Revolution' on Tuesday, September 27, 2011. Photo: MizzimaParticipants from most ethnic states in Burma and international demonstrators walked quietly through the city holding signs and placards calling for people to remember the Burmese uprising, for the release of all political prisoners and for an end to the “public relations games” of Burma’s current government.

The peace walk and Buddhist prayer service was led by three Buddhist monks including Ashin Issariya, who was a key organizer in the 2007 uprising. At the rally, a statement was read by the event organizers in Burmese, Thai, Shan and English.
Click here to open an audio clip of Garrett Kostin speaking during the Chiang Mai march.

The event was held in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, led by thousands of Buddhist monks, who marched down streets in cities and towns across the country in an attempt to depose the military junta.

Garrett Kostin, one of the event organizers, read a statement saying: “Four years after the Saffron Revolution took place, 222 monks, and nearly 2,000 political prisoners remain behind bars. Those responsible for the brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in 2007 are still in power, thanks to the broadly denounced sham elections of 2010…. Before we accept that true, positive change is underway in Burma, the international community needs to require that the regime do more than ineffectual public relations maneuvers. The regime in Burma needs to show a true determination for a democratic transition by immediately and unconditionally releasing all political prisoners, ending impunity for human rights abusers and entering into tripartite dialogue with Burma’s ethnic groups and the pro-democracy opposition.”

Many of the peace walkers called for another public uprising in Burma.

A candlelight march in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was held on Tuesday, September 27, 2011, to mark the fourth anniversary of the 'Saffron Revolution' in Burma. Photo: MizzimaSeng Htio of the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand told Mizzima, “Nothing has changed in Burma since the 2010 elections, actually it is getting worse. How can they say it is a democracy when there are still 2,000 political prisoners? Look at Kachin State, there has been much more fighting this year and many Kachin people are being displaced and cross the border to China.”

Ashin Issariya (also known as King Zero), who led the peace walk and gave a speech at the rally, told Mizzima, “Yes, I would like to see another peaceful uprising of the people in Burma. We must not forget the ‘Saffron Revolution.’ Until political prisoners who are in jail are released and the human rights abuses committed by the regime are stopped, the people will not be satisfied.”

The civil unrest in 2007 was sparked by the junta’s decision to remove fuel subsidies without warning, causing fuel prices to soar overnight. The protests peaked on September 24 when up to 100,000 people marched in Rangoon, the largest anti-government protest since the pro-democracy protests in August 1988.

The revolution brought oppression of human rights and lack of fundamental freedoms in Burma to the forefront of the world stage. During the brutal military crackdown on the protests, Burma’s armed forces shot into the crowds, killing monks and civilians while they staged their non-violent protests. Many monks and civilians were also badly beaten, arrested and imprisoned. At the time, state media reported nine deaths as a result of the escalating violence, but eyewitness accounts and observers put the number of deaths in the hundreds.

Protestors also gathered inside Burma on Monday when approximately 200 people gathered in Rangoon and tried to march from Dagon Myothit (East) to Sule Pagoda to mark the 4th anniversary, Mizzima reported on Monday.

fourth-anniversary-of-saffron-revolution-chiang-mai-4Approximately 400 riot personnel and police dispersed the crowd, however. Authorities told the activists that section 354 of the 2008 Constitution which states that every citizen can assemble peacefully has not yet been approved by Parliament, so citizens could face arrest under existing laws that state an assembly of more than five people is against the law, demonstration organizer, Wai Lu, told Mizzima.

A demonstration member, Win Cho, told Mizzima: “They ordered us to divide into small groups of three people each and disperse. Our group was big so we started to divide into small groups. We will obey the law exactly.”

Recently, public discontent with the government’s controversial Myitsone Dam project on the Irrawaddy River has provoked environmental activists, political groups and campaigners to launch campaigns in recent weeks urging the government to conduct proper environmental impact assessments and reconsider the project.

Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi attended “The Sketch of A River” art exhibition organized by the Green Hearts Conservation Group in Rangoon on Thursday. The exhibition highlighted the possible negative impacts on the environment because of the dam project.

It is not yet clear whether a number of changes made by Burma’s new government will satisfy the Burmese public’s appetite for genuine democratic change.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 September 2011 14:37 )  

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