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Arakan youth issues ultimatum on detained activists

Aug 25, 2008 (DVB), Young people in Arakan State have threatened to use public pressure against the government if five young activists imprisoned after a peaceful march on 8 August are not released.

The five National League for Democracy youth members were sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment after marching to Buddhist temples to pray on the 20th anniversary of the 8888 uprising.

Ko Moe Naing Soe, Ko Maung Maung Thet, Ko Chit Maung Maung, Ko Than Lwin and Ma Ni Ni Nay Myint were among a group of 43 people who joined the silent march.

NLD youth members, activists and students in Taunggok decided to issue the ultimatum at a meeting held on 22 August, and pledged that they would use the strength of the masses to pressure the government if their demand was not met.

One young person who attended the meeting said the group wanted to secure the release of all political prisoners, including those arrested on 8 August.

"The youths who were arrested were innocent, they were walking peacefully and did not curse or threaten anyone," the youth said.

"As Buddhist youths they have the right to go to temples peacefully without asking for permission," he said.

"We issued the statement in the name of all youths in Arakan state. Our objective is to gain the unconditional release of all political prisoners who are being detained unlawfully."

The youth said the group had set a deadline for the government to respond to its request.

"If they are not released by the anniversary of the Saffron Revolution all available means will be used to pressure the SPDC government," he said.

"First, we will make our demands peacefully. If that does not succeed, the follow-up action will depend on the situation."

Security has been tightened in Taunggok since the evening of the youth meeting and authorities have been monitoring the homes of the 43 young people who were arrested on the 8888 anniversary, the Arakan youth representative said.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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