Tuesday, May 26, 2009

UN Receives Petition with 600,000 Signatures

The Irrawaddy News

A petition with 600,000 signatures in support of the release of all political prisoners in Burma has been sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accordingly to the Campaign Committee of the Free Burma’s Political Prisoners (CCFBPP).

The signatures were gathered from more than 150 countries and by more than 200 groups in support of Burma over a 10-week period.

The CCFBPP held a press conference in Bangkok on Tuesday to announce the petition, on this the seventh day of the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese military government.

International condemnation of the trial has been widespread, including unprecedented criticism from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The petition campaign has been led by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP) and the Forum for Democracy in Burma, representing former political prisoners and pro-democracy activists.

Since October 2008, more than 350 Burmese political activists have been sentenced to harsh sentences of up to 104 years. Burma now has 2,100 political prisoners, according to the AAPP.

Bo Kyi, a co-founder and joint-secretary of the AAPP, said, “We intend to urge the secretary-general to take more measures in the Security Council. It’s time for the international community and for the Burmese people to demand more from the UN.”

A broad-based consortium of Burmese exiles and solidarity groups around the world worked to secure the petition signatures, including Avaaz, an online community of activists.

Avaaz executive director Ricken Patel said, "Aung San Suu Kyi is Burma's Nelson Mandela. The UN secretary-general must insist that her release be the condition for any further international engagement with the Burmese junta."

Since the campaign launched on March 13, commemorating Burma's Human Rights Day, one person has signed the petition every 10 seconds.

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