Sole Myanmar protester demands activists' release
AP - Sunday, November 23
YANGON, Myanmar - A lone demonstrator staged a silent protest in front of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party headquarters Saturday demanding the military government free all student activists as the country celebrated its National Day.
The holiday commemorates a boycott by Yangon University students 88 years ago in defiance of British colonial rule, a protest that inspired Myanmar's independence movement.
Although the government does not conduct any public events to mark the day, Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy regularly holds a party to celebrate.
Before the party began Saturday, party member Min Thein walked into the middle of the street in front of the party headquarters and stood silently with a placard reading, "Release Min Ko Naing and other political prisoners."
Min Ko Naing is a member of the 88 Generation Students group, which participated in a brutally suppressed 1988 democratic uprising. Along with many of his fellow former students he was sentenced to 65 years in prison this month for taking part in an Aug. 21, 2007, street protest against a massive fuel price hike announced by the government.
Plainclothes police took videos and photos of Min Thein's lone protest but did not arrest him during the minutes he stood silently.
"I am expressing my feelings and I am ready to face all consequences," Min Thein told reporters after the protest.
The party marked the anniversary by calling for the release of party leaders Suu Kyi and Tin Oo and all other political prisoners, including student activists and Buddhist monks who were arrested during anti-government demonstrations in September last year.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi has spent more than 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest. Tin Oo has been under house arrest since May 2003.
Senior Gen. Than Shwe noted in a National Day message published in all three official daily newspapers that the country's constitution had been overwhelmingly adopted in May and urged the people to support the junta's seven-step roadmap toward democracy.
Critics say the constitution and roadmap are designed to perpetuate military rule.
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