Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Burmese Activists Ask Ban Ki-moon for Help

The Irrawaddy News

Former Burmese political prisoners have delivered a petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on him to seek the release of all Burmese political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The request comes after 48-year-old Salai Hla Moe, a member of the National League for Democracy, died in a Burmese prison in May.

Family members of Salai Hla Moe were informed by prison authorities almost three weeks after his death. He leaves behind a wife and four children, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP).

Approximately 680,000 signatures were collected within 10 weeks in one the largest global coordinated actions ever for Burma.

Tate Naing, the secretary of the AAPP, said, “How many more political prisoners have to die before the UN will act? I urge Mr. Ban Ki-moon to accept nothing less than the immediate and unconditional release of all of Burma's political prisoners in his current negotiations with the regime.”

“He must not allow any more delay. Political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, are the hope for democracy and the future leaders of our country. Their lives are at stake," said Tate Naing.

About 140 political prisoners have died in prison since 1988 while more than 2,100 political prisoners are held in Burmese prisons and in labor camps.

A delegation member, Nyi Nyi Aung, who has relatives currently in prison, said, “To Ban Ki-moon, my message is simple: ‘Your words show you take this issue seriously. But now I want to see what action you will take to secure the release of my family and all of Burma's political prisoners.’”

Nyi Nyi Aung’s mother and two cousins are serving jail terms of up to 65 years for their pro-democracy activities.

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