Myanmar junta accuses activists of faking petition
Junta accused pro-democracy activists of faking at least 530,000 signatures on a petition calling for the release of political prisoners.india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 12:47 IST
Myanmar's military government on Friday accused pro-democracy activists of faking many of the 530,000 signatures on a petition calling for the release of political prisoners.
"Some of them were using false names and false signatures to compile the doctored collections," the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said.
The paper also accused the opposition National League for Democracy of coercing its members to sign the petition.
Organizers say that more than 530,000 people signed a petition during 21 days in October calling for the release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the last 17 years under house arrest.
The petition, a rare sign of dissent in this military-ruled nation, asked the government to hold talks with the political opposition and to free the nation's estimated 1,100 prisoners of conscience.
Organizers have said they will send the petition to the United Nations to raise awareness of their struggle.
They also said they have kept the full names of many of the signatories off the petition as they fear reprisals from the junta.
The petition campaign began on October 2 after six pro-democracy activists were arrested, and has created ripples in a country where the military deals harshly with public protests.
Myanmar's junta accused five of the detained activists of trying to incite unrest late last month, as the UN Security Council held discussions on trying to kick-start democratic reform in the country.
Win Ko, an activist involved in the petition and also a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, was jailed for three years in last week.
The authorities said he was imprisoned for possessing illegal lottery vouchers, but fellow democracy campaigners believe it was because he collected 480 signatures for the petition.