Myanmar (Burma): Activists deliver petition to Ban Ki-moon

English PEN is proud to have been one of the many organisations to have endorsed the Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now! Campaign. We have urged members and friends of English PEN to sign their petition for Burmese political prisoners, which calls on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make it his personal priority to secure the release of all political prisoners in Burma, as the essential first step towards democracy in the country.

Almost 680,000 signatures have been collected in just 10 weeks and these have now been formally delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon by a delegation of former political prisoners and human rights activists from Burma.

English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who signed the petition.

For more information, please see the following statement from Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now! Campaign:

Burma activists deliver political prisoner petition to Ban Ki-moon


“Political prisoners are the hope for democracy in Burma. Their lives are at stake.”

A delegation of former political prisoners and human rights activists from Burma have formally delivered a petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on him to make it his personal priority to secure the release of all Burma’s political prisoners.  Almost 680,000 signatures were collected in just ten weeks in the largest global coordinated action for Burma yet.

The delegation included Tate Naing, former political prisoner and Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma); Khin Ohmar, Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Forum for Democracy in Burma; and Nyi Nyi Aung, whose mother and two cousins are serving jail terms of up to 65 years for their pro-democracy activities. 

Nyi Nyi Aung said, “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to deliver this petition to the UN.  I truly believe every signature counts.  To Mr. Ban Ki-moon, my message is simple:  Your words show you take this issue seriously.  But now I want to see what action you will take to secure the release of my family and all Burma’s political prisoners.”

There are currently more than 2,100 political prisoners in Burma’s prisons and labour camps.  Last month, National League for Democracy member Salai Hla Moe became the 140th political prisoner to die in detention since 1988.  His family were only informed of his death on a routine prison visit, almost three weeks after his death.  The 48 year-old activist leaves behind a wife and four children.

Tate Naing said, “How many more political prisoners have to die before the UN will act?  I urge Mr. Ban Ki-moon to accept nothing less than the immediate and unconditional release of all Burma’s political prisoners in his current negotiations with the regime.  He must not allow any more delay. Political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, are the hope for democracy and future leaders of our country.  Their lives are at stake.” 

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