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Pro-democracy activists hold peace vigil in Myanmar

More than 150 pro-democracy activists, including members of Suu Kyi's party, held a peace vigil ahead of a visit by a top UN envoy.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 11:12 IST

More than 150 pro-democracy activists, including members of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party, held a peace vigil in military-run Myanmar on Saturday ahead of a visit by a top UN envoy.

Under the watchful eye of some 20 plainclothes security officers, the activists lit candles and offered alms to Buddhist monks at a Yangon pagoda, completing their week-long vigil.

Pro-democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu said he wanted national reconciliation and hoped to meet with top UN official Ibrahim Gambari, who is expected to visit Myanmar from November 9 to 12.

"We would like to see Mr Gambari and seek cooperation from the United Nations to achieve national reconciliation," said Kyaw Min Yu, who joined a student uprising in 1988 against military rule.

That was also the year that Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics and formed her National League for Democracy party, calling for a peaceful transition to democratic rule.

Her party won 1990 elections in a landslide victory, but the military, which has ruled Myanmar since 1962, never recognised the result.

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest in her rambling lakeside home in Yangon, as she has been for most of the last 17 years.

Aside from her maid who lives with her, the 61-year-old democracy icon is allowed no contact with the outside world, except for visits from her doctor who normally sees her once a month.

When Gambari visited Myanmar in May, he became the first foreigner allowed to see Aung San Suu Kyi in more than two years.

But shortly after his visit, the junta extended her house arrest for another year.

In late September, the military also cracked down on a group of former student activists who led the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, arresting five of them, including their leader, Min Ko Naing.

But fellow activists, including Kyaw Min Yu, have collected some 530,000 signatures on a petition drive urging the release of Myanmar's estimated 1,100 political prisoners in a rare show of public discontent with the regime.

First Published: Nov 04, 2006 11:12 IST