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Buddhists and Christians in Sri Lanka: a postcard for democracy in Myanmar

Originally appeared in AsiaNews.it

May 27, 2010

by Melani Manel Perera

Initiative of group Friends of the Third World, which yesterday held the annual protest at the Burmese embassy to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the victory of Aung San Suu Kyi in elections and her arrest by the military.

Solidarity for Burmese people subjugated by a harsh military dictatorship, for thousands of murdered Buddhist monks and the thousands more still in prison for peaceful protests against the military junta in 2007. The group Friends of the Third World (FTW) yesterday held a lunchtime protest outside the Myanmar Embassy in Colombo, to protest against the dictatorship and demand the release of democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi and many other political prisoners .

About 50 activists from various groups and of various faiths participated in the protest, including Catholic priests and nuns, Buddhist monks and left wing political figures. They chanted slogans in support of Aung Sang and democracy, in both English and Sinhala, with placards and posters reading “Release Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected government 20 years in prison, establish democracy in Myanmar”.

Sirithunga Jayasooriya, leader of the left-wing United Socialist Party, said that Aung San Suu Kyi won the election 20 years ago with over 90% of the votes, “but the Burmese military took power and put the democratic politicians in jail. In violation of all law.”

The event has been taking takes place for years. But this year took place in a strange climate. While Jayasooriya held this speech, embassy staff took many photographs of the participants.

Marimuttu Sathivel, an Anglican priest in the parish of St. Michele Collpitiya, is pessimistic. He also fears a future military government in Sri Lanka’s. He explained that their gathering would ask for “freedom” for both nations.

The Venerable Buddhist Master Weligama Dhammissara Thero speaking to AsiaNews remembers the figure of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, “the Democratic leader. We demand her release and democracy in Myanmar. ”

Harsh words from Freddy Gamage, FTW coordinator, who pointed to the closure of the embassy “out of fear of our democratic voice and action. There have never allowed us to deliver the petition that we bring them every year. ” “So – he continued – this year we organized a postcard campaign to collect the people’s signatures to free Aung Sang and for democracy in Myanmar.”

The postcard campaign began yesterday and will last two months, until July.

This peaceful protest is held every year in the same place, to commemorate the victory of Aung San Suu Kyi in elections in Burma May 27, 1990. This year it was brought forward to May 26 to avoid clashing with the sacred Buddhist festival of Vesak.

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