888,888 political prisoner campaign launches today

Mar 13, 2009 (DVB), A global signature campaign calling for the release of political prisoners has been launched today, on Burma Human Rights Day, with the support of 166 exiled Burmese and international solidarity groups.

The campaign was organised by the Forum for Democracy in Burma and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

"Signatures will be collected online and on paper," said AAPP secretary Tate Naing.

"We aim to collect 888,888 signatures, and send them to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a letter telling him the importance of the release of political prisoners."

It is to be launched with events and activities around the world, including in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, London, Dublin, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul, Jakarta, Sydney, and Tokyo.

It will run until 24 May, the date when Aung San Suu Kyi should be released after six years under house arrest.

"It is up to the State Peace and Development Council to release her or not, but the law says that she should be released on that day," said Tate Naing.

"The law was issued by the SPDC itself, and we carry out this campaign to remind the world of this."

In Chiang Mai, former political prisoner Let Let will give talks on her experience in the prison.

"I was arrested in September 1998 and they didn’t notify my parents," she said.

"I was at the interrogation centre for two weeks and transferred to Insein jail. I was tried without being allowed to hire a lawyer and my family was not allowed to attend the trial.

"I was sentenced to 21 years. I was transferred to another prison and my family was not notified, and I was not allowed to see my family until eight months later," she said.

AAPP says there are currently 2128 political prisoners languishing in prisons throughout Burma.

Reporting by Naw Noreen

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