Myanmar nationals stage anti-junta rally in Tokyo | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 14, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 14, 2008

Myanmar nationals stage anti-junta rally in Tokyo

Demand release of Suu Kyi, other political detainees

Hundreds of Myanmar nationals marched through Tokyo yesterday demanding the release of political detainees including opposition democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Activists called demonstrations in Tokyo and other major cities around the world to mark the 20th anniversary of the incident that set off a 1988 uprising, which the military crushed killing more than 3,000 people.
Some 400 protesters, mostly those who fled junta-ruled Myanmar, marched to Yangon's embassy in Tokyo where they held portraits of leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest.
Demonstrators held up banners reading: "Myanmar needs a binding resolution" and "The Japanese government must put more pressure on the junta."
The military regime in September again broke up major anti-government protests in which the United Nations estimates at least 31 people were killed.
Myanmar has since announced plans for a constitutional referendum in May designed to pave the way for elections in 2010.
While China, Russia and some Southeast Asian nations call the referendum a step in the right direction, the United States and other Western countries say it aims to entrench the military's role.
The constitution would bar Aung San Suu Kyi from elections because she was married to a foreigner, while a new law limits her party's ability to campaign by criminalising public speeches and leaflets about the referendum.
"We are against the constitution," said Phone Myint Tun, a demonstrator and refugee from Myanmar. "It is a constitution to select people and make laws favoured by the junta government."
"We want to see the Japanese government cut down its economic and political aid to the military government further," he said.
Japan maintains aid and cordial diplomatic ties with Myanmar, in a rare break from its Western allies, which are pressing for further punishment of the regime.
But Japan cancelled nearly five million dollars in grants as a protest after September's crackdown in which a Japanese journalist was shot dead in Yangon.

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