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Aung San Suu Kyi's party starts release campaign

world Updated: Feb 12, 2009 15:54 IST
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Myanmar's pro-democracy party launched a name signing campaign calling for the release of political prisoners, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on the 62nd anniversary of Union Day on Thursday.

Senior members of the National League for Democracy party signed a whiteboard at the party's headquarters in Yangon calling for the release of Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and party vice chairman Tin Oo.

The ceremony was completed under the watchful gaze of plain clothes police and militia groups loyal to Myanmar's ruling military junta.

"We will continue signing as it is in accordance with the law. We will show that we have the people's support, not only to them (the authorities) but also to the international community," NLD spokesman Nyan Win told reporters.

Some 250 people, including party members, politicians and diplomats attended an earlier ceremony at the headquarters to mark Myanmar's 62nd Union Day.

Union Day marks the signing of an agreement in 1947 in which various ethnic communities within what was then known as Burma unanimously called for independence from Britain.

"Union Spirit lies at the centre of ensuring perpetuation of the sovereignty," said a Union Day message from junta leader Senior General Than Shwe, carried in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper

"It is, therefore, mandatory for us to firmly cultivate a strong sense of Union Spirit wherever we live in the Union."

The NLD meanwhile reiterated its calls for the regime to recognize the result of elections in 1990, when the NLD won a landslide victory that the junta refused to recognise.

The military regime has promised to hold elections in 2010, but critics have dismissed the polls as a sham. The regime has also handed out heavy jail terms to a number of pro democracy activists in recent months.

"No political problem can be resolved without finding its solution through political dialogue. Similarly, a peaceful and stable Union of Burma cannot be brought about without national reconciliation," the NLD statement said.

NLD vice chairman Tin Oo's house arrest is due to expire on Friday. He was detained in 2003 and has been held at his home since 2004.

"I hope for his release tomorrow. But I have nothing special to say as the authorities haven't opened Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal case yet for her release," Nyan Win said.

Suu Kyi has spent most of the last 19 years under house arrest by the junta that has ruled the country since 1962.