Constitution deliberations resume as student protests grow
The National Convention met yesterday but the largest opposition party still refuses to join it. Demonstrations against the junta are gathering momentum across the country. Hundreds of people in Yangon and Mandaly are wearing white in protest against political detention and a petition by a student movement has gathered 120,000 signatures so far.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) The National Convention yesterday resumed work to draw up the Constitution. A new constitutional charter is the first of seven points drawn up by the military government of one-time Burma to pave the way for transition to democracy. But the European Union, the United States of America, the United Nations and human groups dismiss the Burmese "road map" as a mere propaganda ploy. The constitution talks themselves are considered a deception, given that they have been dragged out for more than 10 years and are boycotted by the main opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD). Suu Kyi herself has been under house arrest since March 2003, for the third time.
Meanwhile, thousands of people are joining a campaign for political prisoners who are ex leaders of a student movement that was brutally suppressed by the military in 1988.
More than 1,000 delegates of Burmese political parties and ethnic groups are attending the National Convention, which first convened in 1993. But opposition groups have described it as "valueless". Nyan Win, NLD spokesperson, said the convention "lacks democratic principles". The NLD won a landslide victory in elections in 1990, but the ruling junta refused to honour the results. NLD delegates walked out in protest from the convention talks in 1995 and in 2004, it persuaded the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Burma's largest ethnic political party, to do the same.
In the meantime, sources in Yangon and Mandaly report the courageous participation of hundreds of people in a newly launched campaign "White Expression". Started yesterday by a group of ex political prisoners called the 88 Generation Students group, the campaign consists of wearing white as a sign of protest against the detention of pro-democracy activists. The campaign started a few days ago after the arrest of five group leaders. First Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko gyi and Htay Kywe were arrested, followed by Min Zeya and Pyone Cho, who were arrested on 30 September after Washington threatened to submit a UN Security Council resolution to stop human rights abuses committed by Yangon.
Before White Expression", the student group launched a petition to free its members from prison. Until last Saturday, around 120,000 signatures had been collected.