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Saffron anniversary: Monks call for release of remaining political prisoners

Ashin Sandar Thiri, a spokesman for monks marking the ninth anniversary of the Saffron Revolution in Rangoon, calls for the release of all remaining political prisoners. (PHOTO: DVB)

Buddhist monks and activists on Sunday commemorated the ninth anniversary of the Saffron Revolution.

Monks used the occasion to issue a five-point list of demands to Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, including the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners, and steps to prevent inter-religious and communal violence.

The event was held at the Dhamma Piya Moanstery in Rangoon’s Thingangyun township.

Ashin Sandar Thiri, a spokesman for the monks, said, “Our demands [to the government] are as follows: to bring about peace in the country; to ensure democracy and human rights to the fullest extent; to prevent religious and racial violence; to promote co-existence and harmony between people of different faiths and ethnicities; and the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners.”

The senior monk added: “There are still political prisoners behind bars despite the election of a civilian government.

“On behalf of the Buddhist monks who took part in the Saffron Revolution, we would like to request an unconditional release of all political prisoners.”

88 Generation Peace and Open Society leader Min Ko Naing also attended the event, where he praised the monks for their collective stance.

The event was also joined by multi-faith leaders, representatives from political parties, and civic leaders, as well as activists, former political prisoners and their families.

After speeches at the monastery, the participants marched to Shwedagon Pagoda, chanting the Metta Sutta, just as back in 2007. They were briefly halted by security officials, but allowed to continue after offering assurances of the peaceful nature of their demonstration.

Led by members of the Buddhist monkhood, street protests that came to be known as the Saffron Revolution met a bloody end in late September 2007 when the Burmese military government ordered a crackdown on the demonstrators. More than 100 people were killed and thousands arrested.